It must have been the roses.

There is a piece in The New York Times that is the opposite of last week’s languishing. This time it’s flourishing.

The author gives you some steps to take to move from languishing to flourishing. There are seven of them. Most of them are smallish things like clean the kitchen or take the trash out. Others are more predictable like gratitude and hope.

I’m with Neil Young on the hope thing. You can’t eat it.

I suppose that moves me back into the languishing column but you can’t have hope without something to hope for. I suppose I do. If you read my comments about gratitude, turn them upside down and that’s what I hope for.

What are your hopes? Dreams?

I do have gratitude. I’m lucky to have a roof over my head. I’m lucky to the people and dogs in my life that I do. I’m really happy that the pain in my back and legs is mostly a thing of the past. I’m also very grateful that I haven’t caught CoVid-19 because it is a death sentence for me.

And you? What are you grateful for?

More importantly what are we going to do going forward?

Me? Well for starters, I’m going to clean this trashed studio.

Oh boy. This picture was a nice straight picture of some roses.

But, I couldn’t help myself. I just had to tinker with the picture.

Luckily, I had a vision for it before I ever started.

I wanted the picture to look like the emulsion of an old school photograph.

This actually starts with the border. Then, I worked to fill it in an appropriate way.

There is a lot of stuff going on in this picture that you don’t see right off. The background is one So are the shadows.

Even the roses are tuned up.

The total package works, but some stuff without the rest wouldn’t work. Believe me. I tried.

Stay safe. Stay Strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient.


It’s late and you’re tired.

You know how you feel. You are out on the road, traveling somewhere. You’ve been driving for a long time. Your body has finally achieved one with your car and the road.

Your brain is on remote. It’s a good thing that there isn’t any traffic because your reaction time is slow.

The scenes in front of you blur into one. Time becomes elastic. If you eat or drink it all tastes the same. No need for a good cafe. You won’t taste the food.

That’s what this picture is about.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Enjoy all of the road.

What does it mean to travel?

I suppose it depends on why and how.

This picture assumes you mean by car.

To be successful I simply laid one picture over another, sucked some color out of it, added some grain and there you have it.

I think it works.


China Rose

A while back I had an interesting discussion on Instagram. It was probably my only one. It wasn’t about photographs. Instead it was about flowers.

The photographer that I was talking with misidentified a flower that he called a China Rose. I knew that it was something else because I grew up with them.

We both started Googling and found out what a real China Rose looked like. We learned that it isn’t the color, but the smallness and the shape.

These are China Roses produced my way.

Artfully.

I have more traditional pictures, but today we are still headed towards confusion and mixed up imagery. That’s just fine. It’s what I feel like producing.

If anything, this image gets me closer to how I saw it in bright and contrasty sunlight. It was a little dream-like at the time. If I went out today, it would also be the same. I’m having trouble waking up.

That’s after finishing packaging homemade dog food, and having a coffee and a donut. Don’t judge me. I know that you’ve eaten worse. Gummy Bears for breakfast just shouldn’t be a thing.

Which brings me to one of the lamest things I’ve heard in years. Some Republican know-nothing is claiming that President Biden won’t let us have meat in our beer.

Imagine that. Meat Beer.

And, the world turns.

Whatever did I do to this picture?

For one thing, nothing is in sharp focus but by tinkering with it there appears to be sharpness. Trust me, there isn’t any real sharpness.

The next thing I did was remove all of the mid-tones. That caused overly bright contrasty color which I added more color. I give that saturation slider a good, hard pull.

The result is what you see. I don’t know about you, but it’s art to me. Sorta.

We’ve been through that before. I don’t need to repeat it just to make a point or fill space.

So. I won’t.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask inside. Keep your distance everywhere. Wash your hands. Get your jabs, especially your second one. Look after each other. Be patient because we are getting close.


The cat came back to find his hat.

Hmm, I thought. Maybe there are no green eggs and ham. I knew that wasn’t right so I thought a Dr. Suess-like photograph might help.

I’m sure that by now you are all aware of the controversy cause by Theodore Geisel’s estate removing six of his books from publication.

No. This is not part of the so-called cancel culture. So-called because it’s nonsense as far as I’m concerned. Closing out some books cannot be part of the cancel culture because the estate themselves did it. I don’t think you can cancel yourself, although on some days I’d like to try.

More to the point, who the hell set up a bunch of blathering idiots on social media as judge and juror? Most of the loudmouths on any social site are lucky they can walk and talk.

Of course, the six books should have been pulled from publication. They are racist on their very surface whether or not they were intended to be.

New York Times Columnist Charles Blow said this is a good first step since the estate did themselves, but he recalls growing up as a Black child that he was always made to feel inferior.

I think the world of Mr. Blow. He’s kind of the angry Black man among NYT columnists. That’s good. We need to hear his side.

Here’s the dirty little secret. Those six books were among the worst sellers in the entire franchise. If they were not Dr. Suess books they would have been remaindered and discontinued long ago. It’s really a matter of clearing out the fulfillment house.

That’s the story from the left hand column.

What a glorious mess.

I thought, after thinking about an illustration for this post, that I would make a Cat in the Hat tree.

I combined two images of winter trees. I layered them so that they almost appear to be one. I added a bit of color.

I smoothed the background, as I’ve been doing lately, and I sharpened the branches to the point where they glowed.

Then, I softened the whole thing slightly.

That’s it. Just a few 5,917 steps to get to this illustration.

It looks a little Suess-like I think.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Keep doing all the rest no matter what some state governments think because we are going to pay for that. Enjoy all the Dr. Suess books you can read.


Time is lost.

All the time in the world. That’s how numbers felt early in the pandemic. It was flexible. It stopped and started on its own. Many people felt that way, especially people like me who lost both businesses in the short term.

Timelessness did produce one huge thing. People got creative. People experimented. Some folks even found out that we didn’t need to work according to hide bound procedures.

New found creativity produced something else. Offices emptied out, some never to repopulate again. Mass transit systems were not overflowing, which caused an issue with monetary support. This list is endless.

Importantly, at least for people who like music, small venues closed their doors. Others just flat out shuttered. Not only have people lost their livelihood, but music will have a hard time recovering.

Small venues lead to medium venues, which lead to sheds, which leads to arenas which lead to stadiums. Bands learn how to be, how to talk to an audience, how to deal with hecklers.

Want proof?

The Beatles. You may have heard of them. Do you think they arrived at Shea Stadium fully formed without starting small? They played church events, they played high schools. Then, they started playing clubs like the famous Cavern Club. They went to Hamburg, Germany, where they played four shows a day, six days a week. Hard work. Young men learning.

When the time was right, they broke out.

That’s how it works. Sure, a band can build an audience via streaming. They can go out on the road and play. If they start out too big when they weren’t ready they can burn out. They’ll lose confidence and fans will lose patience.

They say a building is only as strong as its foundation. Well, there you have it.

Watches. A long time ago my dad thought that he wanted to repair watches. The work was precise but it wasn’t physically demanding. He took classes. He did a kind of internship. He stopped. I have no idea why. I was too young to even notice.

I have all of his watch making tools and broken watches. I started photographing them a long time ago. This is one of those images. It is a tiny file so I hid what I could and called it art.

As you know, I’m getting bored with nature. I’m also not inclined to be around other people. I may start photographing his tools and watches again.

Hopefully, I’m a better photographer than I was 15 years ago.

This picture looks stretched and contorted because the file is just too small. I can fix that next time around.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Look after each other. Don’t waste time, it’s all we have.


Maybe yes, maybe no.

As colorful as possible.

A Facebook and Instagram friend is going to be sure that I’m trolling her with this picture. I’m not. But, she doesn’t know me that well. She lives in California in the hills way up above Malibu. She’s a pretty good photographer so I followed her on Instagram. She followed back. After a bit, she friended me on Facebook. Of course, I friended her back.

She’ll think that I’m trolling her because two days ago she posted a heavily post produced hydrangea on Instagram. And, here I am.

She doesn’t know that after all these years on WordPress, I’ve learned to plan my weeks according to new the pictures I have on hand. The only time I stray is when I have a picture that is calling out to be published, like today’s moon. Or, if the well is dry and I have to go out looking.

My hydrangea image was reworked in a very different way than hers was. I have no idea what she did. I think it’s one app. I started in Snapseed on the phone and finished with big boy/girl software called OnOne.

For those of you who have been around for awhile, you know that I gave up on Adobe products like Photoshop and Lightroom a couple of years ago. I wasn’t a hard decision. I got tired of paying $9.99 a month forever.

OnOne does a lot of production things faster and more efficiently than Adobe ever could do. Besides, Photoshop really should be used by designers and repro houses, which is where I first started using it back in 1992. It wasn’t called Adobe back then.

Anyway.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Mask up. Keep your distance. Enjoy every bagel and lox sandwich.


The Other Side.

The world gone wrong.

“One of the bloggers that I read posted a funny meme. It said something along the lines of, “2020 sounded so futuristic. Today, I traded a handkerchief for a carrot.”

Besides the huge irony, those words struck me as being one of the funniest things that I’d read recently.

There’s always a little truth behind every joke.

We aren’t to that point around here. Yet. But, it doesn’t seem so far away to me. Especially if people keep hollering about their constitutional rights and storming leaders’ houses with large military grade weapons. Yes. Military grade. I saw a picture of some wannabe human being holding something that could only be a reloadable RPG. Where the hell did he get that?

More to the point, what did he think he was going to do with it?

See what I mean about wannabe human? I’m willing to bet if this country brought back the draft, he would find some way to get out of it. You know, like bone spurs.

Anyway.

We live in an unreal time. Truth isn’t the truth. Facts aren’t facts. And, the current president wants to blame everything on the past president. Now, he’s dreamed up something called, Obamagate. Yes. Everything is Obama’s fault. The truth is that he’s trying to rewrite history. He thinks that we have short memories. Like we’d forget everything he said the day before.

That isn’t helping.

Stay focused on the task at hand. It’s a really big task.

He isn’t helping that either.

I guess it’s all on us. We, the people. We have to look after each other. We have to rebuild. We have to begin again.

In a way that’s a very good thing. If chief bone spurs doesn’t want to take responsibility, that means we can do whatever we want. We can do the right thing. And, we can vote. If the last three months haven’t convinced you that the Republican leadership doesn’t care about us, nothing will.

I promised that Storyteller would not become political. I’ll try to keep it that way. Mostly. There are days when nothing helps. I’m pretty sure that happens to you.

The picture. I’m out of new work. Really. So, I’m reworking some newer imagery. When I started playing with the picture that you are looking at, I didn’t have real clear intentions. I shipped directly to OnOne without even trying to work on it on my phone. That gave me a lot more options.

I worked this way and that. I didn’t like what I was seeing. Finally, I found some filters that allowed me to invert colors. From there I was off to the races. Some of the purple flowers are blue. Others are red. I have no idea how the AI function reads color, but it left me with the start of what you see here.

Even if you don’t like it, you have to admit that it’s something different. Real diferent.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


Who knows?

Almost pure art.

That’s what this picture evolved into from almost nothing. I started with a picture of magenta flowers on a blue handicapped parking sign. I went sort of crazy. I kept going until I arrived at this picture. I have no idea what it means. I seem to be stuck in space, so it kind of looks like that to me. Maybe it’s about the birth of planets. Maybe not.

I have a very busy day. I’m grateful for that. I still keep reading about people who are bored out of their minds. I suspect that they are the ones who want everything to open up right now. I have no idea why they are bored. There is so much that they could be doing. Aside from the usual Netflix binging, they could learn a new skill, create art, learn to cook, bake something, get healthy, take a walk, and the list goes on forever.

If all else fails, they could sleep. The kind of stress that we are all feeling puts a heavy strain upon the body. The brings extreme tiredness. Rest. Sleep. You’ll feel a lot better.

I’ve been reading a lot about what comes next. There are many writers that are no doubt smarter than I, who are calling for huge and positive changes. A lot of old systems are broken. Who wants to return to that? The only people who are trying to force this new genie into the bottle are the real rich oldsters who don’t want to progress because they will be the losers. They know it and we know it.

That said, I’m an oldster. For some reason I don’t think like we do. They say as you grow older you become more conservative. Not me. While I haven’t swung over to progressiveness, I haven’t moved from just slightly left of center. I’m certainly not conservative.

None of those descriptors are bad things. We need each other to create a balance. We need each other to move forward into a good and positive recovery.

Here’s one thing that we all agree on. Right, left and center all agree that our infrastructure is a wreck. Bridges fail, roads are potholed, many of our airports are third world, are rail systems border on non-existent and so on and so on. Our president used to proclaim infrastructure weeks only to have them devolve into something else.

Now is the time to take this seriously.

Many people won’t have jobs to return to. Those that do may find their hours cut, their salaries reduced and their benefits slashed. They’ll need better paying full time work. Rebuilding our infrastructure isn’t all labor. It’s also computer folks of all stripes. It’s planners and managers. It’s administrators and analysts. These are not short term jobs. This problem won’t be dealt with in a year or five. We are looking at decades just to get back to zero. And, more time to improve our systems.

That’s just one thing that needs serious repair. We could probably think of ten or a thousand more. When the Republican side of Congress spouts, “this is not the time to…,” when the hell is the time?

Oh wait. Kickbacks and bribes. They have to figure out how that will work.

That’s my idea. What are some of yours?

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


Like a starry night, man.

Blue seems about right.

It’s quiet. It’s comforting. It brings peace.

Just as I sat down to write I learned that Little Richard passed. One more death in a season of deaths. Last night I learned that a guy I knew in New Orleans passed. Another death in a season of death.

It’s enough to make a grown man cry.

No.

I’ll art my way through it. It helps me. A lot. It makes me happy to know that seeing new art everyday may help you too. It’s hard to keep going, especially now. It’s what I’ve been given to do. There are days when I don’t know if it’s a gift, or a curse. All I know is that I have to keep going.

Same thing with the musicians around me. Many are making music from their living rooms, their kitchens, their front steps. The music is great. They are taking chances. They are being very creative. And, they are letting you into their lives.

I’ve never listened enough to Mary Chapin Carpenter. She plays from her kitchen. Her dog and cat wander through from time to time. She talks a bit. Plays. And, talks a bit more. She’s consistent. She’s played every week since the lockdown began. She has emerged as another James Taylor for me. Taylor’s music always brings me peace. So does hers.

There are a lot of big organized shows from home. They seem to be a little too slick. But, the ones that are done kind of on the fly are much more homey and real.

That may be why my work in the last few weeks looks and feels different. More chances. More creativity. More fun. Whatever you are doing think about doing it differently. Think about taking chances. Think about accidently learning.

The picture. Two layered pictures. It helps if they are of same general subject. Once that was done, I played. I tinkered. I manipulated. I arrived at what you see before you. I don’t know if it’s any good. I don’t really care. I had fun. That’s what really mattered.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.