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.


Not always this way.

Once upon a time we lived in a land of peace. But, I forget when that was.

I read a comment that said we’ve had two mass shootings in two weeks. Yes, America is opening back up.

In New Orleans last Saturday night there were eight shootings. They weren’t in one place so it wasn’t a mass event. Still, eight people were wounded or killed. On touristy Bourbon Street, two people with guns shot at each other and hit two other innocent people.

Are we emerging from a year long lockdown only to walk into a hail of bullets?

So.

I decided to publish this spring-like picture of these pretty little wildflowers. They were growing along the parking lot to my doctor’s office.

Oh, nothing is terribly wrong except that I’m still very limited in what I do. I mostly chatter on about my back and legs. Those won’t kill me, but CoVid-19 combined with CLL will.

I’ve written about this is the past. I have a kind of Leukemia that doesn’t do much. It’s called CLL. I get my blood tested twice a year and I talk with my oncologist about anything else but my condition. You see there’s nothing to be done. Or, that needs to be done. I’m mostly fine.

But.

If, by chance, I caught the virus my body couldn’t defend itself. My red blood platelets are compromised. There are “holes” in them. Vaccination or no vaccination, I could die.

That’s what my doctor told me yesterday.

Me? I treasure my life. I have things to accomplish. I have things to do. Roads to travel. Life to live.

You? Stop shooting each other. Your life is worth something too. Enjoy it. If your mind and emotions are twisted, get some help. Don’t buy a gun.

Do you remember when I first started adding a tagline to my posts?

It started with “Enjoy every sandwich.” Warren Zevon said that to David Letterman when he was asked what he took away from his death sentence of cancer. It was his way of saying life is short. Enjoy it.

Man. Enjoy every sandwich.

I wish I had some big post production story to tell you about this photograph.

I don’t.

I made it after I left my doctor’s office thinking that we had all dodged some kind of bullet after being vaccinated. Most of you have. I haven’t.

I did the only thing I know to do in good or bad times.

Make a picture.

Two different kinds of monks say, “The work is the prayer.” If you’ve been around here for any length of time you’ve read that.

That’s what it is for me. Work equals prayer.

After that, post production editing was easy. The hardest part was to keep everything from becoming too bright, too oversaturated, too bloody.

That’s it. That’s the story. Photographing this bunch of little wildflowers made me feel good.

Maybe, they’ll help you feel good too.


Spring elegance.

A flower.

I saw this bloom shimmering in low sunlight. I had no choice. I had to make its picture. I knew it the very second that I hit the button.I had something. I made a couple of back up images just in case. Back home, the picture was easy to process. Nature did most of the work for me. That’s why the picture looks good. All I did was see it.

That’s how it goes sometimes.

The day started off pretty badly. You know that the dog who sees things has not been feeling well. We’ve been treating her with antibiotics and an occasional Tramadol for pain. I knew we hadn’t beaten it, but we were on the road to doing so.

She awoke this morning screaming in pain. I calmed her, she stopped for a minute and started screaming again. I was fully awake. No gentle morning awakening. I called her vet and they fit her into his already packed schedule. It’s that life during wartime thing.

The good news is that her bladder stone has broken up and will pass quietly. The bad news is that she has a couple of teeth that need to be pulled and a bad gum line infection that hasn’t responded to the broad spectrum antibiotic that we were giving here for the bladder stone. We have no idea why not.

She is scheduled for dental work in about a week. There is no way to force an appointment earlier because dental work is time consuming.

She’s a rescue dog. A cuter cocker spaniel rescue you will never see. She came with fears built up by other human beings. There are certain things that I can’t do. With the other dogs I can do the push-the-pill-down-their-throats thing. Not this dog. That would scare her.

So. Cheese.

We bought a small block of cheddar cheese for a planned meal. Soft cheese. She likes it. I buried the pain med in the cheese and she ate the whole thing. She hasn’t been eating much. She’s lost a lot of weight. I gave her more cheese. Eventually, she ate about half of the block in little tiny pieces. I reckon that in the short term, protein and fat will help her gain a little weight.

Her vet uses a concierge approach when pets are brought in these days. It’s a safe response to the pandemic. Pet parents stay in the car. Their pets are picked up and taken inside for care. Because Sophie Rose was a force fit into her vet’s day, I went home.

Needless to say, I was standing on the ceiling. Around here, we know to let me have some space. I’ll work through it. I do in my own way. Everything imaginable ran through my brain. When her vet called I felt better.

I hate to see anything in pain. With this little dog screaming, I felt terrible. She’s such a sweetheart, so gentle and so loving that I couldn’t stand it. Luckily, it’s an easier fix than I imagined.

Have a good thought, say a prayer, making an offering for Sophie Rose, the all seeing dog.

No CoVid 19 discussion today. I’ve got other things on my mind.

Oh yeah. After the cheese and Tramadol got into her system, she fell asleep. Peacefully.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


The birth of yellow.

New blooms. In winter.

I’ve never seen this plant in the time that I’ve moved here. I’ll have to wait until these blooms open. I think I know what they might be, but I won’t know until I see them.

Sorta like life.

Make all the plans that you want. The minute you put them into action everything changes. Wise generals know you can plan and plan a battle, but the minute you step on the field everything changes. Former boxer Mike Tyson once said that you can make all the plans you want for a match, but the minute you get punched in the face those plans go out the window. That’s why I say to empty your mind and not to take the picture. Let the picture take you.

But, what do I know?

I’m still feeling my way as I go. Just like all the rest of us. I may know a lot about photography and some visual stuff, but what I don’t know about most of life could fill up the worlds largest land mass.

That said, this years single word koan is “learn.” I did learn. I learned mostly about me. That’s always good.  I learned a tiny bit about the world around me. Not enough. What should next years word be, do you think?

I’m all ears.


Into the purples.

Friday flowers.

There. Maybe I’ll start something.

Spring is really upon us. You know how I know? My daily viewers have dropped by half. Rather than think y’all were mad at me, I poked around. A lot of the blogs that I read have a much lower readership as we crossed into May.

So.

It’s either better weather and people aren’t staying inside as much. All good.

Or, along with removing spell check, WordPress is messing with the math again, making it harder to find some blogs. Very bad.

This is typical with all social media. A while back, before people really started to distrust Facebook, they admitted to changing certain search parameters. They admitted that they were experimenting with us.

Social media has become ubiquitous. Most of us need it for something. To show artistic work. To keep  in touch with friends. To find long lost friends. The list goes on and on.

It may be worse than we think. In a long piece written in The New York Times, the former co-founder of Facebook admits that all sorts of staff can read our PMs. Ever wonder how something you wrote in confidence ends up being in an advertisement on Facebook, or worse being in an ad someplace completely unrelated? That’s your answer.

I have no reply. The co-founder suggests breaking up Facebook. I’m not sure what that’ll really do. Sheesh. There are rumours of some kind of penalty for Facebook. A fine. $5 billion dollar fine. That’s a drop in the bucket for them. I suggest something a little stronger. Prison terms for the people who want to make us their products and make money from us. Five to ten years for starters. No possibility of parole. No digital devices. Oh yeah. General population. No fancy federal country clubs.

If I sound angry, I’m not. I’m resolute. It’s time to take back our lives. From everybody who seeks to control us. The real problem is simple. We gotten used to these easy ways to communicate. How do we replace them?

The picture. Photograph it. Process it. Carve it up in post production by removing as much of the mid-tones as possible and see what happens.

I’m excited. I was able to get back to the old abandoned railroad cars that I once photographed along while back. There are more of them now. Some old Southern Railroad steel passenger cars have been added to the mix. The baby Leica got a workout in the light rain. The camera and I had fun.


About changes.

A little Friday art.

Pure art. The picture is as I saw it. Very little post production on this one. It’s meant to be soft and gentle. It’s meant to be a break from real life. A little peace. A little quiet.

I could stop right here and wish you happy Friday.

You know me. Lately, that hasn’t been my way. Lately, I have the need to talk, er, write.

This is about joy. Joy from anywhere. I started thinking about this after watching and Amazon show called, “The Grand Tour.” It was created after the original Top Gear team left the BBC. It stars Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond. Last nights show was the final episode, not of the series, but of the entire thing.

History. Clarkson got fired from the BBC for punching a crew member. Over a sandwich, I think. The other two realized that two without one didn’t add up to much, so they asked to be released from their BBC contracts. Clarkson went through some behavior modification counseling and the three of them joined Amazon. The new name reflects what tours of the world used to be in the 1800s. They were called a grand tour and used to last for months.

The original version was Clarkson’s brainchild. Prior to the arrival of Top Gear, car shows were boring. I like cars, but I never watched them. Once I saw Top Gear during its first year I was hooked. Comedy reigned supreme. Things crashed. Things blew up. Things burned. Richard Hammond almost got killed (for real). Only his short height saved him from losing his head.

Last night they said goodbye. Clarkson, who can be a giant knob as Richard May would say, fought back tears during their entire announcement. They played some highlights, some of which were borrowed from the BBC, to the tune of the original ending of Eric Clapton’s “Layla.” For me, that has always been a leaving song, especially the end  piece with Eric Clapton and the late Duane Allman playing intertwined guitars over a piano.

I was in tears.

They’ve done this for 17 years. I’ve seen every episode. Think about that. I’m 65 now. I started with them when I was 48 years old. They’ve made me laugh and laugh some more, even during the dark days immediately following Hurricane Katrina. When I say laugh, I mean laughing out loud, rolling on the floor.

The audience was crying. They talked about their favorite shows.

Then.

Finally, the three of them made another announcement. The talk show, the in studio work and their local race track scenes were ending. The show as we knew it was ending.

But, they love Amazon and Amazon loves them. So, Clarkson claims. Instead of thirteen weeks every year, we were going to see what they do best. Long treks in some foreign country with either junkmobiles or the best of the high-end Lamborghini, Maserati and Porsche cars. Those are the episodes that to me, and I’m pretty sure, most of us liked best. We won’t have to wait a year to see new work. It’ll be released as Amazon continuing series.

My heart jumped. I immediately felt better.

One more thing for you to know.

Anyway.

I borrowed that from them. Since they really drive the cars, catch on fire and get in crashes, they decided how to move on if one of them was killed. They would briefly tell the studio audience what happened and would immediately move on with…

Anyway.


Morning light and red.
Morning light and red.

I took these picture a few days ago.

While most of you are describing glorious fall scenes and worrying about the winter and snow, down here in the Gulf Coast we are having our second spring.

What can I say? This is one of the benefits of living in a hot, humid swamp. While you are freezing your behind off and grumbling about shoveling snow (Some of you, anyway), we’ll have a fairly mild winter. And a very nice autumn. For instance, yesterday was almost perfect. Mid- 70s during the day. Low 60s in the evening.

Of course, you can remind me about this bragging later. When I grumble about Mardi Gras Day having sleet and freezing rain like it did a few years ago.  When I tell you that the temperature never rose above freezing. That I worked all day in it.

Oh, the stories you can tell.

The pictures. Saw them. Shot them. Didn’t do much to them after the fact. I had what I’m starting to call pseudo winter light. The light is lower and a little more golden. Like winter in the Northern Hemisphere. But, the temperatures don’t match the light. If I was a conspiracy person, I’d say this must be some kind of government plot. Yes, that’s what some people believe hurricanes are, these days. Instead, I just think this is just one more sign of global climate change.

There. I said it.

One more thing. See the picture directly below? If the pods match some of the already opened flowers around them, they are Sunflowers. They’ll bloom in November. Imagine that. Sunflowers. In November.

New pre-blooms.
New pre-blooms.

New growth and rust.
New growth and rust.


Well, I’m looking back. But, not so far back given that March just ended yesterday. Please take a look at my small collection of pictures from what appears to be my never-ending project called, PAD, or picture a day. I started this thing four years ago. Every time that I reach the end of one year, I stop the project thinking, “that’s enough.” A strange thing happens. After a few days, or a week or a month, I started to miss it and so back to the project I go. Usually I try to set some kind of semi-important date. My birthday. My other birthday. The New Year. The Lunar New Year. Something like that.

Anyway.

Here are my images for March. Some of you have seen some of them as I tend to post some of the better images as I produce them.