The swamp and the tree.

There is one corner where the land looks like this. It looks and feels what it must have been like 25,000 years ago.

I don’t really know. I’m not that old. I swear.

All I know is that it’s green and can get kind of noisy when squirrels talk and birds chirp.

Sometimes wilder animals than those make their way through the foliage. I’ve seen raccoon and possums pass by. I rarely see snakes, but they are there too. Nothing poisonous, just the usual black snake or two.

Scrape away 160 years and this neighborhood is wild and swampy. Well, not that wet. This is ridge land. Kind of. It’s six feet above sea level when so much of the city land is below sea level.

But, that’s enough.

It survived the big hurricane in my memory — Katrina — without getting flooded. That’s one of the reasons we live where we live.

It’s not the oldest neighborhood in the city, with much of being built in the 1850s. It was annexed to be part of New Orleans a little before that. People built here for three reasons. The land was fairly inexpensive. The area was a little cooler which kept the viral outbreaks down. And, it isn’t near the French Quarter and “those people.”

That doesn’t mean what you think. It really means a wilder, rowdier bunch.

Even now, it’s removed enough that if I want to go to the Quarter, I can hop on the streetcar and be there is 10-15 minutes. And, that’s a two block walk from the house. I can watch the craziness and come home to quiet.

Sometimes living here is easy.

Jungle land. The hardest part of making this photograph is the light.

Most of it is dark. That’s easy to expose for. But, look at the highlights. They are way blown out.

The way to account for that is to expose for the shadows and add a little flash. Not much, just something we used to call a kick light.

I could have done that but didn’t. Remember, I make these pictures on dog walks or going from one place to another.

The result is slightly gray highlights caused by the processing that takes a RAW file to a JPEG. It crunches some of the highlights to make them fit within the JPEG gamut.

Never the less, I think this is a fairly striking representation of my neighborhood.


The bright greens of spring.

Who knew?

Who knew that this new way of working might just give us the tools we need to be more creative without learning to code. I’ve long had a dream to be able to fill the page from side to side. Now I can. This makes me very happy. I think that as I learn more about blocks, I’ll be able to do pretty much whatever I want.

This design is a modified block template. It began as a three picture spread. Then, I reduced it to one picture covering the same area. All of that is shown in pictures. Couldn’t be easier. I just had to test it.

To mask or not to mask is the question.

There seems to be a strong line emerging between those people who chose to wear a mask, and those who don’t. I live in New Orleans. We mask for every little thing. We should be used to it by now. But, noooo. Even here, there are groups of people who refuse to be told what to do even if it will save their lives. Or, mine.

In the grocery store yesterday, I’d say it was about 70-30% of those people who wore masks as opposed to those who didn’t. The people who didn’t wear masks also had trouble with social distancing. WTH? I used my unneeded cane a couple of times. I have no fear of backing someone off when it comes to my health.

I read in the local media that two bars were given notices of violation. Three, and you’re closed again. Good for whoever reported them. And, good for the city ro react so quickly. This is serious business. Believe it.

The picture. The all seeing dog wanted a little longer walk today, so that’s what we did. We came by this place were the sun acted to backlight the trees. Very spring like. I made another picture that wasn’t quite as sharp. This type of picture has to be sharp. Try as I might in OnOne, I couldn’t make it look good. I made it look weird. That’s a big lesson to those of us who may have forgotten. GIGO. Garbage in. Garbage out.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


That flower again.

I’ve heard that everybody hits a wall.

The wall comes after too much isolation. After too much inside. After not being able to visit friends without a handshake or hug. I thought that I was fine. That we were fine. We have our own little circle.

But, that’s not enough.

I awoke yesterday feeling tired. I had enough sleep. I felt lethargic. I felt sad. It couldn’t figure it out.

It was grocery making time. I went, not caring if I went. Shopping started out slowly. We got to the meat case. Not big red meat eaters, I didn’t think think much of it. Then I saw it. A sale on steaks. For once, that sounded great. I arrived at the cold case about the same time another man did. A Black man. Bare with me because normally color of skin is irrelevant.

We both started to reach for the steaks. I backed off saying “you first.” He made a motion that since I knew exactly what I wanted that I should go first. We were both wearing masks so all we could see was our eyes. Both of us had smiling eyes.

After I made my selection, I made some funny comment. He raised his elbow and we did an elbow touch. That was the first time I’d touched a stranger in eight weeks. That felt so good. I was walking on air.

That’s all it took. Another human being, not in my circle.

There’s a lesson in that. The obvious is what we all already know. The other lesson takes a minute.

So many people are already breaking social distancing rules. Others aren’t wearing masks. Groups of more than 50 people are congregating together. None of that is any good. We may create a surge within a flattening curve. It shows one thing. We need each other. Strangers included.

Because we need each other we don’t want to kill each other. Stay the course. Eventually, there will be time to be together.

The picture. I finally was able to make what amounts to an almost macro picture. I still have no idea what the flower is called. I’ve looked and looked. Some people around these parts just call it a swamp flower. Yes, it is. But what kind of swamp flower?

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


I told you. A swamp.

See?

A swamp. Where we live. Well, kinda. Sorta.

A real swamp would likely be very deep and wet this time of year. Most of the real swamps have been developed. Into concrete. But, here and there, you can find some little groves of what came before us. This one takes about ten minutes to walk through.

If I was really feeling my oats, I’d drive down to Barataria Preserve and walk along the wooden plank sidewalk through Jean Lafitte National Historical Park where alligators lurk underneath you, and snakes watch you from above. Jean Lafitte was a pirate. Not only did he serve with U.S. troops during the Battle of New Orleans, but he wasn’t afraid of alligators and snakes. Like I am.

You’d think getting to such a primitive place would take hours. Nah. Forty-five minutes to an hour and you are there. A lot of tourists visiting New Orleans take a tour of the swamp by boat, then drive upriver to plantation country. Between the two, it’s a nice day trip and not all that far from the “big” city. And, it’s really hard to get lost.

The picture. I didn’t have to do much to it. I made it in the early morning sun which gave it a nice yellow glow. But, not that early. In order for the light to penetrate the foliage, the sun had to get high enough to find the right angle to do its work for me. That’s it.

One more thing. If you take a swamp tour by boat, the guide usually has a couple of chickens that he or she bought at the local Wal-Mart. Cold. Not alive. The chickens are tossed into the water where gators are known to lurk. That creates a commotion so that pictures can be taken.


Broken bayou.

It’s not that far away.

This bayou. This swamp. This bit of water.

It’s broken.

When I first saw this place, maybe twenty years ago, the trees were lush and full. There were lots of them. Today, between industrial pollution and being a dumping ground for just about everything, it doesn’t look the same.

It’s very likely that in the next twenty years, most of the remaining trees will be gone because this swamp will be filled with brackish water from the high tides in the gulf. This will happen because we have lost, and will continue to lose, a huge amount of land from the barrier islands and swamp land. In the past, it protected us from storms, from storm surges, and even high tides.

Soon it won’t protect us from anything.

I don’t expect the kind of help we need to come from this presidential administration. They are mostly climate deniers. They don’t like science. Even with a new administration I doubt that there will be enough “political will.”

Lucky us.

At least we won’t be alone.

Lucky you.

The picture. I made this picture a couple of years ago. It’s one of those “lost” images. It wasn’t lost. I just forgot the proper file in my messy archive. I haven’t been to this place in at least two years. I’ll go back soon, once @NOLAheat cools down. Sheesh. Normally, I describe our summer weather as a sauna. Not this week. It’s an oven out there.

Anyway.

Now and then I get up early. That’s how I made this picture. Technically, in order to get the flare and the starburst I used a very small aperture, probably f/16 or f/22. Normally, that would mean a very slow shutter speed, but not with that sun shining directly at me. I did some work in post production. Mostly, I opened up some shadow areas. And, I made the light a little more yellow.

 


Red, and fading.

Southeastern Louisiana is an outdoor hothouse.

Heat, humidity and rainfall make it so.  We have weird growth. Until I moved here I never saw a red mushroom. I see them towards the end of summer. There are also white ones. Brown ones. Huge misshapen ones. I’ve lived in a lot of places. Louisiana is the most primal place I’ve ever lived. If you removed all the man-made things, you might think you lived in the age of dinosaurs.

It makes you think.

It makes me think about going forward. Life for our children. And, their children. And, on and on. I’m trying to leave something behind. Or, at least not take anything away.

The picture. Another dog walk picture. Good thing that dog has me. I might never explore these kind of places. She sniffed this mushroom and immediately turned away. She knows. I know too. Anything red through purple is a no go. Eat it and die. Or, at least, get really sick.

It’s really just a simple see  it and push the button kind of picture. I worked hard in post production to not turn it into a flourescent nightmare.


Into the darkness.

This is one of those posts. One of those posts when the picture has very little to do with the writing. When the picture is more-or-less there to catch your eye. It’s a summertime picture, made after a rain storm so the greens are sparkling. I helped it by darkening the shadows and adding a vignette.

That’s about all.

Today, I want to talk about children. Children kept in cages. Screaming children, Crying children. Terrified children. Children who are apparently being used as bargaining chips by the subhuman who runs my country. The subhuman whose defenders tell lies, lies and more lies. The subhuman whose actions with the children have been condemned by the four living first ladies. By just about every church body including the subhuman’s normal supporters. By those on the left. By those on the right. Even by Ted Cruz, for whom I have no use.

Still they persist. They blame everybody but themselves for putting children in cages. For separating children from their mamas. And, from their papas. They don’t even have a system for reuniting children with their families.

Yet, they persist. The subhuman screams on twitter. His minions can’t get the story straight. What have we done?

To my friends from other places, please let me say that this is not my country. This is not my America. These are not my leaders. My country is open. We are tough, but we are fair. We are not cruel. We try to do the right thing. We are kind.

To those who say that the children’s parents are breaking a law, just shut up. You have no idea what these people have gone through. They are coming to The United States not just for a better life, but for a safe life. One in which they can survive. Until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes, I’ll say it again, shut up. Oh, and you can stop following Storyteller.

One more thing. Children are sacred to me. Protect them. Care for them. Hold them. Love them. The minute you cross the line to abuse, you are dead to me. The subhuman and his administration crossed the line.

Do I sound angry? Very angry?

Good.


Deeper, and deeper, and deeper.

He said, “I’m going to drain the swamp.”

Like just about everything else, he lied. Sometime in the early morning the swamp creatures voted to hurt just about every normal human in the country. Oh sure, corporate big business gets a break. And, the tip-top of the so-called 1%.  You know the ones. The ones who leave off of stock earnings, fly private and don’t produce a damn thing. Luckily, they can write off their private jet expenses.

They voted to do this without even allowing anybody to actually read the tax bill. How bad would it have been to take the weekend to read what this monstrosity contains? It would have been very bad. That’s how bad. Everyone would have realized just how bad this so-called tax reform bill really is… bad, bad, bad.

I’m looking at two choices once we see what’s in this bill, and how it will change as it passes through the house and senate. I can either plan on working until I die. Or, retire right now. And, basically say, the hell with it.

That’s my morning. I hope your’s is better.

The picture. Well, it really isn’t a swamp. It’s some fern along a pathway. I just stuck the camera — er, smart phone — into the leaves. It helped to make a fairly flat scene a little more 3-D. There is some post production working going on. No more than the usual.


Like a swamp.

Yes. It’s my swamp.

First, the picture. Then, the real comment.

We were walking early in the morning when I happened upon this little scene. We don’t always walk in our neighborhood. I always carry some kind of camera. So, I used it. I enhanced the picture in post production. And, that’s really it. For those of you who keeps score, it was Snapseed for development, including that cute little bit of typography. And, Stackables for most post production.

The real point.

Our new mayor-elect has been issued a subpoena for credit card fraud. This isn’t new. Her personal use of her city council credit card was revealed during the election campaign. It became a huge issue even though she apparently paid back her personal debt. A couple of local news media did deeper investigation. They found that every council member used their cards for some kind of unauthorized purchases, but were able to justify their use.

That’s the basic story. It’s a little more complicated.

Our mayoral election became a choice between two lessers. As usual. But, the race also meant that for the first time in New Orleans history we would have a woman mayor. And, they are both African American. That’s a kind of progress.

But, one had really big money behind her. Good old boys in the background. And, the other either is guilty of fraud or just doesn’t understand how to manage her budget. Neither is what you want in a mayor.

So, back in the swamp we go.

But.

It’s my swamp. It’s my neighbor’s swamp. It’s my city’s swamp. We can do something about it. Somebody living in — oh, let’s say — California — can’t. They probably should just ask a question, but not comment on social media. You have no horses in my race. No dogs in my hunt. Besides, you make the typical comments about the south and about my city. You know the ones. The same kind you probably made about Meghan Markle.

Understand?