(reblog), humor, music, photography

Cathedral & Lighthouse & Xmas Carol

Claude Monet’s paintings of the cathedral at Rouen illustrate the principle that what U see depends on when U look.  Patrick Jennings’ photos of the lighthouse at Amphitrite Point illustrate the same principle.  The prose poem posted with one of them has also inspired new lyrics for a classic Xmas carol.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

RouenCathedral_Monet_1894_559x874

Claude Monet’s paintings of Rouen Cathedral are well-known.  Tho built for utilitarian rather than devotional purposes, the lighthouse at Amphitrite Point (on the coast of British Columbia) has much in common with the Rouen Cathedral.  Each tries to guide the viewer to some form of safety.  Each looks different at various times (and from various vantage points).  Each has had its beautiful variety captured by a great artist.

amphitrite-point-lighthouse

© Patrick Jennings | Pix to Words | Amphitrite Lighthouse

Click on the image credit for access to Patrick Jennings’ other photos of the Amphitrite Lighthouse.  Each image is accompanied by poetry.  The prose poem posted with this image is an evocative dialog between the “Great Light” of the setting sun and the “little light at Amphitrite” (who gets the last word).  Hmmm.  “Little light at Amphitrite” could have a nice rhythm and an internal rhyme.

While the name of the eponymous Greek goddess is pronounced like [am-fi-tright-ee], it is OK to pronounce the place name like [am-fi-tright].  (Amid wind and waves, saying the [-ee] would sound rather twee.)  Why do I care?  Consider the tune of the Xmas carol O little town of Bethlehem.  As with Greensleaves or Glorious things of thee are spoken, a great musical foundation can support many lyrical superstructures.

|O little light at Amphitrite,
|how bright we see thee glow.
|The sea can smash a boat on rocks,
|as all good sailors know.
|But sailors steer with confidence
|they will not drown just yet.
|Thy beacon guides them safely home
|no worse than cold and wet.

flowers, photography

Poinsettia on Thanksgiving Day?

Tho sad that Xmas activities keep moving earlier and have intruded on Thanksgiving, I bought an irresistible poinsettia prematurely.  Then I noticed that it fits in with Thanksgiving after all.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

While shopping for food on the Monday before Thanksgiving Day in 2019, I noticed an especially good poinsettia with the salmon pink leaves edged in pale yellow that I like.  Too early for a Xmas decoration?  Yeah, but this plant’s not so glaringly out of season as the older choices of bright red or stark white.

poinsettia-pnk-ylo_840x601
In the morning on Thanksgiving Day itself, the plant looked even better and insisted on being photographed.  Between shots, I noticed ways that the plant fits in with giving thanks after all.

  1. I can spend an unplanned $4 at the market w/o skimping on necessities.  (This was not always true.)
  2. The builtin flash on a modern camera is sometimes useful.  (Yes, I have an external flash.)
    poinsettia-pnk-grn-flash_840x598
  3. I can still shoot at 1/20 sec in available light w/o needing a tripod.  (The colors seen at the time were between what the images show.)
    poinsettia-pnk-grn_840x625
  4. I still live among people who accept the diversity symbolized by this poinsettia variety.  Marxists, racists, sexists, and tribalists all pretend that knowing where somebody fits into their categories tells U most of what’s important about that person.  Not so.
    poinsettia-diversity_840x650

Yes, I am posting this small Thanksgiving celebration a little late.  One reason is that I let things rest a while and then edit again before publishing.  The other reason is that the wheels turn slowly at my age.  That they still turn is yet another reason to give thanks.

 

haiku, photography, serendipity

Between Seasons in 2019

Where I live, 11-19 is usually too late for fall colors and too early for snowflakes.  Recent past and near future met when Fortune smiled on an out-of-season CDHK challenge posted 2019-11-14.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Carpe Diem #1781 The Quest For A New Masterpiece Continues … colorful autumn

garden-flag-snow_840x1126

Between Seasons #1
|Lost autumn colors,
|but garden flag remembers.
|Snow on power lines.

power-lines-snow_840x721

The rules and examples for this challenge allow marking the cut with punctuation and tweaking the cut when swapping the initial and final lines.  Let’s do that.

power-lines-snow_840x721

Between Seasons #2
|Snow on power lines.
|But garden flag remembers
|lost autumn colors.

garden-flag-snow_840x1126

enlightenment, ethics, fiction, humor, photography

Satori from a Consulting Gig

The who and how of sudden enlightenment might transcend ordinary logic.  To illustrate my short story about a weird instance of satori, I edited a NASA image formed by combining data from five telescopes.  While the image is for real, the story is neither the literal truth nor a bogus claim to tell it.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Management consultant Frank Dow showed no surprise at the new client’s evident desire for a genuine consultation rather than a canned endorsement of plans already made.  Though unusual, the client’s sincerity was still less surprising than the client’s identity.  The client was God.  Dow listened intently as God began to describe His problem:

“Forget any twaddle you may have heard about omnipotence and omniscience.  The universe is too immense and diverse to be micromanaged, even by Me.  Roughly speaking, I built a big machine and let it run.  But it’s not boringly deterministic.  The universe is all about probabilities.”

As God continued, the proud-parent joy in his voice was clear:

“The probability that a randomly chosen planet will be suitable for life to appear at all is tiny.  The probability that creatures with any ability to understand and appreciate the universe will evolve is tinier still, but not exactly zero.  On the other hand, there are a lot of planets in the universe.  There’s no need to crunch the numbers right now.  The bottom line is that a few planets luck out.  On your little blue planet, life thrived and your species evolved advanced abilities to observe and learn, to imagine and reason, to build bridges and write poems.”

With joy replaced by sadness and frustration now, God explained what He hoped Dow could provide:

“While I mostly let things run, I am not absolutely hands-off when a planet has intelligent life that blunders into being cruel or stupid.  I nudge them in good directions by inspiring a few of them.  In your planet’s case, I have had a little success and a lot of failure.  I keep it simple and age appropriate, but they oversimplify half of what I tell them and obfuscate the rest.  The Golden Rule gets through as something to proclaim but not as something to practice.  Absurdly, much of what they think has been revealed to them is just their own bigotry and bullshit.  The way they distort My message is so alien to the corporate culture here that nobody has a clue about how to handle it.  As someone who is closer to the problem without being part of it, you may be able to help us.”

Given a temporary office with read access to the case histories (and full access to a plentiful supply of coffee and nutritious snacks), Dow went to work.  A recurrent pattern emerged:

Inspirations that did not fizzle attracted disciples, often with authoritarian personalities.  Authoritarian disciples misinterpreted God’s nudges and stridently claimed they could speak for God on all kinds of topics, now and forever.  Many of those who were strident were also willing to coerce people they could not convince.  Many of those who were willing to coerce were also willing to kill people they could not coerce.

Poring over the case histories was depressing, but Dow kept at it (with the able assistance of good coffee and good snacks).  Eventually, he was ready to offer God a suggestion:

“I believe there is a personnel issue here.  You have been inspiring people who mean well but score high on credulity and low on humor.  Maybe it would help to go outside the box.  For example, You could inspire a nerdy atheist who digs sacred music and pushes the envelope of haiku poetry.”

God was skeptical: “Does anybody like that exist?”

Frank Dow smiled the enigmatic Mona Lisa smile that sometimes appeared when he was moonlighting as a Zen master.  He leaned forward and spoke softly: “Does anybody like You exist?”

At that moment, God attained enlightenment.

satori_840x782

Sources

How to illustrate the concept of satori?  For this post, I cropped a NASA image of the Crab Nebula and told the Retouching tab in my photo editor that each star was a blemish to be removed.  If there is intelligent life on any planets orbiting those stars, I hope that nobody will be mad at me for dissing their sun.  Oh well, it’s a big universe.  I will be long gone before they have a chance to find out.

In its present form, this post’s story first appeared in Volume 1 of The Rabbit Hole, an annual anthology of weird stories.  None of the stories there are illustrated, and I had no good ideas for an illustration anyway.  How I came to write a story about God hiring a consultant whose recommendations are outside the box is yet another story, somewhat weird but entirely true.

haiku, humor, photography

Fall Frolic

October is Chores Can Wait Month.  I took a short walk that inspired a haiku, but the chore gremlins got their revenge when the haiku generated yet another chore.  That’s OK.  Writing about the nuts and bolts of haiku beats raking leaves.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Fall Frolic #1
|Dancing on the breeze,
|ignorant of gravity:
|red leaf in blue sky.

Nuts and Bolts

My haiku has “#1” in its title to distinguish it from a similar haiku Fall Frolic #2.  I prefer #1.  Why bother with #2 at all?  The answer to that question helps answer some others.

Fall Frolic #1 implicitly poses a riddle, then provides the answer.  Who is the ignorant dancer?  More subtly, why is (s)he said to be dancing “on” (not “in” or “with”) the breeze?  The basic structure is the same as in Jane Reichold’s classic

roasting_veg_chkn_800x575

Haiku © Jane Reichold superimposed on
Photo © Vladlena Azima | ShutterStock

Now consider swapping the initial and final lines of my riddle haiku:

Fall Frolic #2
|Red leaf in blue sky,
|ignorant of gravity:
|dancing on the breeze.

While #2 describes the same scene #1, it lacks the suspense and resolution of the riddle structure.  While both versions work, #1 works better.  I still owe U an explanation: why bother with #2 at all?

The first draft for what eventually became #1 had initial and final lines that were very close to the corresponding lines in #2.  The middle line had an entirely different way of hinting that the leaf’s freedom is a temporary illusion, between being stuck on the tree and stuck on the ground.  The first draft’s hint would have been too obscure w/o either an appropriate picture or the explicit scene setting done by the initial line in #2.

Already unhappy with the first draft’s middle line, I swapped initial and final lines on a whim.  The resulting riddle structure was motivation to get serious about clarifying the middle line.

Some haiku poets strive to have the initial and final lines be interchangeable.  Unless I am responding to a challenge calling for haiku that work just as well when the initial and final lines are swapped, I usually do not consider swapping.  Too gimmicky and arcane.  But a swap while revising might help answer the eternal writers’ questions

Am I saying what I want to say?

Am I saying it clearly?

red-leaf_blue-2_haiku-144_840x465

 

haiku, humor, photography

Gray Squirrel

North American gray squirrels are famously good at raiding “squirrel-proof” bird feeders.  At best, the obstacles persuade most squirrels to look elsewhere (most of the time).  Dunno about Japanese squirrels, but they do have a tradition to uphold.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Carpe Diem #1765 Squirrel …

squirrel_840x636

Gurērisu
|Jump! Grab! Swing hips up!
|Nimble ninja hogs the seeds.
|Birds have a long wait.

haiku, humor, photography

Enemy of My Enemy

To a female mosquito, I look like lunch: a big bag of nice warm blood.  So the mosquito is my enemy.  But I also have a friend.  My haiku about their interaction could respond to a prompt for either the friend or the enemy.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Carpe Diem #1762 Mosquitoes …

One day in 2015, I happened to arrange my lunch veggies so as to look a little like a dragonfly, with snow peas as wings.  Hmmm.  Maybe I could pull more veggies from the fridge and make an arrangement that looks a lot like a dragonfly to me.  (No real dragonfly would be fooled.)  This little project reminded me that a dragonfly is the enemy of my enemy, and thus my friend.

Dragonfly_480x481

What’s for Lunch?
|Mosquitoes in flight
|are seen as meat on the hoof
|by a dragonfly.

 

history, humor, photography

Gourds, Peppers, and Progress

Unpacking groceries prompts me to salute a milestone in photographic history.  Really.  Nagging gourds and sexy peppers have a lot to say about kinds of progress and accepting responsibility for choices, in photography and beyond.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

gourds-1#_840x544

§1: 2019-09-23

“Buy me!” says the wonderfully colored gourd.  I refuse:

“No, I’ve already bought what I need for this year’s fall decorations.  There’s no room for another gourd.”

gourds-4#_840x794

“But I’m new and special.  Look at the feathering between my greens.”

gourds-1#_feather_840x614

“OK.”

I put the gourd in the cart, check out, and drive home.  As I unpack the groceries, I happen to set the new gourd down in a way that is vaguely reminiscent of a reclining nude.  Then I recall a milestone in photographic history.

§2: 1927 — 1930

Edward Weston’s meticulous closeup photos of scores of common objects (notably bell peppers) are marvels of imagination and ingenuity.  They also prompt one critic to remark that Weston’s peppers look like nudes while his nudes look like peppers.

Pepper-1930-30P

Weston works in grayscale (aka “black and white”).  The color of a pepper would only be a distraction anyway.  While people have various skin colors, nobody’s skin is red or green.

§3: 2019-09-27

“Buy us!” say 3 colorful gourds.  I refuse:

“No, I’ve already bought an extra gourd that I will use to salute Edward Weston.”

“Last year, U bought a total of 10.  We’ll just bring it up to 8.”

“Last year’s gourds were smaller and came in bags of 5.”

“Weston bought more than 30 peppers.”

“But he could eat them when he was done shooting.”

“Puhleeze!”

“OK.”

gourds-3#_840x547

I’m a pushover.   ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

§4: Now and Forever

Remember when cameras used analog film, color darkroom work was sorcery, and color prints faded under museum lighting?  Artistic photographers had to work in grayscale.  Viewers did not pine for color in the masters’ photos.

Sadly, some photographers mistook a temporary necessity for a permanent virtue.  Wanna create a colorful image?  Buy some tubes of paint.  Stick with grayscale for artistic photography.

The sweeping general assertion of grayscale’s intrinsic superiority was a gross insult to Eliot Porter (and to all who hiked the trails he blazed in color photography).

Some photos do look better in grayscale than in color.  Maybe something with interesting contours and textures happens to have distracting colors.  Grayscale is great for Weston’s peppers.

Sometimes progress replaces an old thing with a new one that is all-around better, as in the transition from analog film to digital pixels.  The transition from obligatory grayscale to color (in varying degress of saturation) is a subtler kind of progress that adds choices.  Lots of choices.

Photo editing software supports having some color classes or parts of an image be more saturated than others.  Done casually and obtrusively, it can be gimmicky.  Done carefully and subtly, it can work with other edits to greatly improve a photo.  One of the contemporary photographers I admire steps thru instructive examples:

What I Am Working On: Building Blocks

What I Am Working On: Fiddling

If U choose to desaturate a photo (either partially or all the way to grayscale), I may disagree with that choice.  I will still respect it, but only as a specific choice.  What I won’t respect is a blanket assertion that photos “should” be in grayscale.  Or in color.  Or have shallow depth of focus.  Or have everything in focus. Or whatever.

Here is one blanket pronouncement that I do respect, in photography and beyond:

Don’t hide behind sweeping generalities.
Own your choices.

(reblog), flowers, humor, photography

Capturing the Unexpected

While the juxtapositions collected by Mitch Teemley are all clever and funny, the ballerina/tulip photo is special.  Because their stems keep growing and tend to flop over, tulips are tricky in flower arrangements.  It’s one of life’s (littler) lemons.  The ballerina/tulip photo makes lemonade.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Mitch Teemley

Coincidence? I Think Not.

Life, as mentioned in the first Capturing the Unexpected post, is sometimes horrible, sometimes beautiful, and always just a little bit weird. Why is that? (Lean in close and I’ll tell you.) It’s because we’re weird! We find comedy in calamity, meaning in meaninglessness, truth in absurdity. Coincidence? Nope. We’re wired that way. Don’t you love it when someone captures proof?

(Click on any image to enlarge it, or to begin slide show)

View original post

flowers, haiku, photography

Lavender Elegy

My lavender rhododendron contributes a visual elegy to the Memorial Day observances in 2019.  Memorial Day is a time for sadness, along with the pride and gratitude that the same plant helped visualize in 2018.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

lavender-memorial_840x483

flag-rhodo-1_840x1062

Memorial Colors
|Lavender salutes
|red, white, and blue of our flag.
|Pride and gratitude.

haiku, humor, language, oversimplify, photography

Red-y or Not …

Some short color words are spread thin in common usage.  Words like “red” are pinned on many things that are slightly reddish.  If plant breeders ever develop a cabbage that is actually red, they will find that the name “red cabbage” has been usurped.  Chaos in the produce aisle!  Hope spinach stays green.
BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.

Red ~ Pic and a Word Challenge #187

salad_obrem_y-10_669x208

Salad Paradox
|Red peppers are red.
|Red cabbage is purple but
|is said to be red.
(reblog), haiku, photography

Emptiness Revisited

Empty talk and empty bowls elicit different responses.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Carpe Diem Weekend Meditation #81
Poetry Archive (5) loneliness or emptiness

Choose a haiku, tanka or other form of Japanese poetry from your archive and share it with us all.  Tell us why you have chosen that poem … and create a new poem inspired on your choice.

A short sequence of 3-5-3 haiku dealt with emptiness for a challenge in another series.  I like the way the first haiku sets up the second one, so the whole sequence is my archive choice.  Can I write a new poem for the current challenge?  Yes, and there is a reason to put it before the archive choice.  The new poem is a 5-7-5 haiku:

Not Alone
|Lonely in the crowd
|and weary of empty talk,
|I seek solitude.

cartoon people in the crowd

© Igor Zakowski | 123RF Stock Photo
(Image has been cropped.)

Here and There in 3-5-3

empty-bowl_840x704

Emptiness Here
|Empty bowl
|atop microwave,
|just for looks.
Emptiness There
|Empty bowl,
|heavy with nothing.
|Hunger pangs.

I give to several charities that help hungry people in many places with a mix of short-term and long-term efforts.  In particular, my next gift to CARE will be matched 5X.  The matching grant offer on CARE.org/match will expire 2019-05-25.  (A popup on CARE.org has another match that expires sooner, on 04-30.)  If U can give more than whatever U may have already given to charities like CARE this year, now is a good time.

(reblog), haiku, photography

Clams in the Clouds

The [Menu] button (atop the vertical black bar) reveals widgets like the Search box.  Typing just the [Enter] key into the Search box is a way to browse WordPress blogs.

The cloud images in this post were in an earlier post (for a photography challenge) that emphasized synergy between pastel pink and green.  Now I am responding to a haiku challenge with emphasis on synergy between poem and image in a modern haiga (with a photo as the image).  Haiku #2 uses the modern kigo abalone.

To those who have not seen many nacreous clouds, the poems’ metaphors might seem far-fetched.  Presenting the photos along with the poems they inspired may reassure readers willing to trust that the photographers refrained from deceptive editing.  I took the calm photo; Sue Ranscht took the dramatic one.

IMG_2199_CSTC_less-blue_800x414

elliot-275a-s-t-ranscht_800x403

© Sue Ranscht | Space, Time, and Raspberries

Clams in the Clouds #1
|Serene clouds
|give mother-of-pearl
|to old eyes.
Clams in the Clouds #2
|Molten pewter clouds:
|some are tinted pink or green.
|Abalone shell.

haiku, music, photography

See and Hear the Start of Spring

The [Menu] button (atop the vertical black bar) reveals widgets like the Search box.  Typing just the [Enter] key into the Search box is a way to browse WordPress blogs.

As the year pivots from winter to spring, crocus plants bloom and little frogs croak.  We celebrate with a photo and a tanka.

crocus-bee_crop_sharp_840x628

Wordless Oratorio
|Singing silent songs
|of long warm days returning,
|bee and bloom duet.
|In vernal pools near bare trees,
|spring peepers chant the chorus.
growing old, haiku, photography

Early Spring Snow Shower

Unaware of what lies below them, snowflakes fall thru air that is barely above freezing.  Aware of what lies ahead of me, I rejoice in a partial workaround for growing old.
(BTW, the [Menu] button atop the vertical black bar reveals the widgets.)

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge – Feelings of Spring

snow-melts-on-blacktop_840x1146

Ground Already Warm
|Falling thru cold air,
|oblivious snow flakes will
|melt on the blacktop.

[2019-03-22]  Bummer.  I want to photograph the inspiration for my haiku, but my old hands cannot go more than a few seconds w/o thick gloves in cold weather.

Hmmm.  Tho unheated, my garage gets some warmth leaking from the furnace.  I put on a pair of thin gloves that can be worn while doing some things that previously required bare hands.  I open the garage door and look outside while standing just inside the garage.  Maybe I can work enough of the camera’s buttons while wearing the thin gloves.

The lens zooms too quickly for fine control.  I cannot move forward or backward to compensate for zooming too far out or in.  Oh well, I can crop the image later to compensate for zooming too far out.  Is there a serviceable view in some direction from where I can stand w/o getting too cold?  Hmmm.  I try five views and go with the last one.

While it does illustrate my haiku, my photo is admittedly not of standalone quality.  I can live with that.  Any partial workaround for growing old is a small triumph to savor.

 

haiku, photography

Beneath the Surface

The [Menu] button (atop the vertical black bar) reveals widgets like the Search box.  Typing just the [Enter] key into the Search box is a way to browse WordPress blogs.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Texture

Stack of Textures
|Under the glassy smooth surface,
|roughness grabs the eye.

vase-rough_840x647

While haiku usually have 3 lines, some haiku do have just 2 lines.  For example, Santoka Taneda (1882-1940) wrote a number of 2-line haiku.

After writing my first 2-line haiku, I reworked it to be a 3-line haiku that I preferred.  I posted both and found that a few readers preferred the original 2-line version.

The haiku in this post is my second 2-line haiku, reworked from one with 3 lines.  It is probably safe to say that it will stay at 2 lines, but don’t place a heavy bet.