Saturday, December 31, 2011

Coons Beware - It's About that Time Again

Are you ready? It's that time again. The Grand American Coon Hunt is upon us.  (An annual event I mentioned last year.) Just next weekend, the nations largest field trial for coon hounds and a qualifying event for the World Coon Hunt (who knew?) will be held in our fair town. So for three days ten of  thousands of coon crazy hunt'n fans with their trucks

and their dogs,

some just rear'n to go,

some in fine form,

some showing off,

will put us on the map or enhance our Wikipedia page as the case may be.

God bless us all.

(These pictures of last year's event came from )

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Second Generation Santa Claus

My mother has been giving the grandchildren Christmas stockings since they were little. And, she continues the tradition. Although, since her home does not have a fireplace, she hands out decorated bags filled with goodies. And, they are random goodies to say the least. Now, I have mentioned as a child, Santa brought us a combination of oranges, shelled nuts, hard candy, firecrackers, and sparklers. I can always remember getting the same thing every year. I guess it was our family tradition.

I have never really paid attention to what the grandchildren had in their stockings at Mama's. I did, however, note that there was always much laughter and merriment when the kids went through them every year. And, this pleased my mother a great deal. This year my daughter held up a package of large plastic paper clips, "Look, paperclips." My 16 year old niece laughed and chimed in, "I got some also. Look at mine." "That's a useful gift," I said being honest. All the grandchildren rolled in laughter. (Now you have to remember they range in age from 10 to 26.)

Then my daughter looked up, "Wait a minute, we've been upgraded." With that she held up a can of Pringles "No way," my 10 year old nephew chimed in as he looked in his bag. "And, look, Post-it Notes," added my niece. The conversation went on.

When we got home, I commented to my daughter that I thought paperclips were a practical thing. She just started laughing. "Mama, we get the same thing every year - paperclips, Post-it notes, miniature lint rollers, and usually Animal crackers. The Pringles was a surprise." "So that's why y'all were laughing so?" "That's what is so funny. It's the same thing every year. Do you know how many of those paperclips I have at home?" "Well, that's because it's the same Santa I had growing up."

"You got plastic paper clips and lint rollers?" "No, those things weren't around in the 'olden' days."
Then I told her about our stocking traditions as a child of oranges,  shelled nuts, hard candy, firecrackers, and sparklers - every year. "Consider yourself lucky. Your Santa Claus doesn't shop at the Dollar Store. "Thank God for small favors!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Dirth of Motorized Shopping Carts

This may sound like a "Bah Humbug" comment but so be it.

I was in Wal-Mart early this morning with my (hopefully) last grocery list before Christmas, trying to beat the crowd with 527 other ambitious folks having the same idea. Everyone seemed to be friendly, even festive. Life was merry until I was almost run down on the baking aisle by a woman in one of those motorized shopping carts. And, then to add insult to (almost) injury, she commented that I needed to move.

Now given that I am always very careful to keep my buggy on the right side of the aisle. And, when the aisle is crowded, try to stay as close to the shelves as possible, I did not take her accusation well.

It is my understanding that these carts are provided as a service by the merchant to give adults with mobility challenges the ability to have access to their stores - to shop freely. However, I take issue when they take this service as a license to intimate. The "drivers" I deal with have this idea that with the cart comes the God given right to control access to the aisle. All other shoppers are to move - immediately. These motorized carts must have a force field that require an additional two feet on either side.

And, while I am venting, are you required to weigh at least 250 pounds to drive one of these carts? At least in our town you must be. I have never a "driver" weighing less. I definitely am in favor of the merchants providing these carts for those in need. However, I think one should have to apply for and  pass a test for a "Motorized Shopping Cart" driver's permit and also a course in general manners.

OK, I've vented. To anyone I have offended I apologize. Meanwhile, does anyone know how to get tire marks off the side of one's pants?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Stockings

One thing you could not call my father's family at Christmas was "stodgy". My Granny, Aunt Kat, Aunty, and Uncle Make enjoyed the holiday like no other. And, I have evidence that backs up their tales in my father's 8mm movies of them prior to my own memories of Christmas in Wagram.

Beside the traditional treats and sweets, southern holiday meal, and small town festivities, they had a very unique tradition - stockings. But not just regular Christmas Stockings, oh no. These were like none other I have ever seen or heard about since. They would exchange names and spend the year collecting "goodies" to fill the stocking - a ladies nylon stocking. Since these stretch, by the time they were filled and ready for the big night, they would be four to five feet in length and bulging with the "treasures" they held. Each would be tied at the top with a piece of ribbon and a tag with the recipients name.

There was the parade of everyone coming into the living room, one by one, carrying (or sometimes dragging) their stocking before my Daddy's 8mm camera to be recorded for posterity. This was a site to see. Imagine my very proper Granny, my Aunt Kat with her Christmas corsage on her shoulder, my Aunty - her ever present Salem cigarette hanging out of the side of her mouth, and Uncle Make smoking his pipe (with the pack of Prince Albert in his shirt pocket).

The fun really began when they sat down and began to go through the stockings and open the wrapped gifts inside. Those prizes ranged from wind up toys (which would  immediately be put to a test on the living room floor) to outrageous over sized boxer shorts (that would be donned, over the street clothes, for an impromptu fashion show for the camera). The stockings were full of an assortment of gag gifts, fruit, candy, toys, games, playing cards, cheap  cologne, bathroom tissue, and other toiletries. And always tied to the toe was some large wrapped package. The ceremony of going through the stockings, opening the gifts, and commenting on each took a while. Needless to say, a grand time was had by all.

When my brother and I came along, we too had our own stockings and there was much competition among the older adults to draw our names. We enjoyed the ritual and found it great fun. But looking back on it, there is little doubt we never could have enjoyed it as much as they did. I am so thankful for Daddy's home movies of those special times. Especially the ones before I was born.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Enough for Everyone

Sunday we gathered at my Mother's for our family Christmas. My Mother, bless her heart, took the entire week to stress over the meal. (She added Monday through Friday because just stressing out on Saturday seemed marginal.) Now mind you, I only have one sibling, and there are only four grandchildren with 1 significant other. It hasn't been long since we have advanced to actually having a second table to create the hierarchy of a "Big" table.

To hear Mama, one would think she was serving the Queen of England and her court. Saturday night I was on the way back from Charleston when I received a call from my DH. "Please call your mother. She is not doing well." So I called her and she was no worse than I expected. I reminded her that I had offered to help. All she had to do was call me. "Well, it has just been one of those weeks. So much has happened." "Anything specific?" "No, not really. I just told Norma I had too much going on to play bridge this week.  And, everything else would just have to wait. " I reminded her that I was bringing desert and would try to be there a little early.

By the time I arrived on Sunday, my brother was already there and my Mother was all "a twitter". I just looked at my brother. His response,"I offered to help but she said she had it all under control." I went in the kitchen. My Mother (who is 4 foot 8) was moving about at a brisk pace between the stove, the pantry, and the 'fridge. There was an assortment of dishes already on the counter. I could see macaroni and cheese, cole slaw, green beans, dressing, cranberry salad, broccoli salad, and a whole turkey. "What can I do?" (Thinking most of the meal was ready and on the counter.) "Well, you can heat the BBQ?" "BBQ?" "Yes, I haven't heated the BBQ, rice, or hash."

Ohh-Kay, I thought as I went to the refrigerator and pulled out 3 pounds of meat and a quart of hash. By the time I got to the stove, I had to move the pot of collards to make room for the hash and rice. Then Mama said, "Oh, let me take the oyster pie out of the oven so you can heat up the BBQ." "Good God, Mama. How many people are you planning to feed? Last count there were only 9 of us." I want to make sure everyone gets enough." "Well, I think you can consider that done. If anyone leaves this table hungry today, it's their own fault."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Staying Ahead of the Pups

If someone walked into my den this morning they would come to one of two conclusions, either we are running a dog rescue or we are trying very hard to get our own reality television program - neither of which are the case. However, we are greatly outnumbered, even when all the humans are home, and I'm not going as far as to say we are maintaining control.

Sullivan, our daughter's Cocker, who spent last Christmas crouched in fear under the coffee table has come out of his shell and this year has joined the fray. And, Ellie has decided, as the only male, Sullivan needs to be her best friend. Her tactic is to stay in his face with her little bobbed tail whirling in a fast blur. Sally, our daughter's Golden, loves being here, like being at the grandparents, she knows the rules are not as strict and the treats are generous. This being Abby's first Christmas with house guests, she thinks it's one grand party. Thatcher, as the elder of the bunch, just takes it all in stride.

Of course just like having four year old children, they all want to play with the same toy.   Everyone wants to sleep in the everyone else's beds.  And, that's fine until it's bed time and Sullivan and Sally want to snuggle in their own place. They are very thankful that Ellie and Abby have their crates, so there is peace at night.

And then there are the culinary issues -  we have five pups on four different diets so meal time is always fun. "Why does she have more than I do?" (Because the people at Blue Buffalo said so.) "I don't get to eat in the kitchen, why does he get to?" (Because he is your guest and you need to be nice.) "I'm through eating and ready to go out now - right now." (We need to wait until everyone is finished before we go out.)

Life is good as long as the natives are not too restless. However, I don't know if we  have the forces to stay off a coup.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Fun has Just Begun

Hail, hail the gangs all here and all Hell has ensued! Is anyone surprised? Uh, no. My oldest daughter and her beau arrived this morning at 4:30 am after a twenty hour drive east from Texas with their two pups, Sally and Sullivan. And, although I had done my best to prepare Ellie for company. You know the talks: "Ellie, your cousins from Texas are coming for the holidays and you need to play nice." All that went in one ear and out the other when the back door opened.

Picture five dogs running mad in our den - and a Christmas tree decorated with delicate glass ornaments sitting by the back door. The four of us (humans) just tried to manage the chaos. And, we were out numbered. The frightening thought was that not only was the "fun" just starting, we still one to add to the fracas - our youngest daughter had yet to show up with her pup Kennedy. With six you get egg roll.

Friday, December 16, 2011

That smell is familiar.

As I was putting on my makeup this morning there was a whiff in the air that reminded me of my Aunt Kat. However, it was not that of her Prince Matchabelli Emeraude powder or her QT tanning lotion. Unfortunately it was that of fish oil or, in her case, cod liver oil. She was a firm believer that a dose of cod liver oil on top of her cats' canned food (as if the smell of the cat food was not disgusting enough) would make their coat shiny and help prevent  hair balls.

So, as a child, I can clearly remember a teaspoon and medicine bottle of cod liver oil stashed with  the stockpile of cans of cat food. Her cats were definitely well cared for. If one of them showed any sign  of "peakedness" (her word) into the carrier it would go for a trip to her vet in Maxton, the next gown over. There is no doubt that she was on the vet's Christmas card list. I'm sure the vet loved to see Aunt Kat driving up.

Over the years there were many Persian cats - they were always Persians. I can remember Blue and Minky to name two. And, they were a odd bunch. There was one that never came out from under the couch. And one, who stayed permanently perched on the back of the sofa like the Cheshire Cat out of Alice in Wonderland. And, if my memory is correct, none of them were particularly friendly to us when we came to visit. Generally they just waited  us out, knowing we would eventually leave. 

As youngsters, my brother and I assumed that her name "Aunt Kat" referred to her love of felines. We were a little disappointed to learn that Kat was short for Katherine. All of her life, especially as she aged, the first thing she inquired about when I visited with her  at the assisted living facility was the welfare of the current pet cat we had. When one of our cats met an early unfortunate demise, we just continued to tell Aunt Kat that Smoke (the deceased cat)  was doing well. 

That was until she was scheduled to visit us for Christmas and panic ensued. Even though she was legally blind and deaf as a door knob, Aunt Kat's mind was sharp as a tack and her focus on the well being of the cats as good as ever.  She was going to expect to have a (live) purring cat in her lap the entire length of her visit. She was none too pleased with us when we fessed up.  

But as always Santa came through. My Dad would never disappoint his sister and had arranged for us to have a new kitten at the house for Christmas.  (He had "borrowed" it from a neighbor for the day.) It was a wonderful life until Aunt Kat told him that she was so happy that now she could "watch" this one grow up. 

But I digress.  Back to the present. Upon further examination, I find that a fish oil capsule had apparently melted  on my dressing table and my makeup was sitting in a pool of disgusting smelly oil.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Strangest Thing

Our youngest daughter called last night - late last night. And woke me up. "Mom, I just had the strangest thing happen. You know how I never talk about my family to anyone. Well tonight I was talking to some friends and I told them about Dad's tortoises. And they were amazed." "So?" "No, you don't understand. They were impressed and had all these questions about them and found it hard to believe that we have four Galapagos tortoises in our backyard." "Honey, in case you haven't figured that out yet, not everyone grows up in a pseudo zoo environment. " "But they thought it was kind of neat."
"That's great, I guess." "Yeah, but I still think it is weird." "That they thought is was neat?" "No, that Dad has never grown up and still collects tortoises."  "Just accept that and  move along. It could be worse. He could collect snakes. But then I wouldn't be around for that one. Even I have my limits."

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One Crayfish, Two Crayfish

  "Crayfish is Here" - the marquis on a local restaurant read. I had to think about that one. Now, I was familiar with a mess of collards, batch of chicken, pot of grits, heap'n of BBQ, slab of ribs, and a hunk of corn bread. However, down here, Crayfish generally don't travel alone. They're kinda small. And, as Daddy would say, one crayfish is just enough to make you mad.

Our education system had once again failed us. And, no, "Crayfish" was not the name of a local musician. This place of questionable culinary fare was not one for any type of entertainment (with the exception of people watching, mainly of their clientele).Given the food establishment in question, it was a menu item. And, as much as I love crayfish, this is not the place I would choose to enjoy them (or it as the case maybe - only if I got there first.)

Don't get me wrong, I know that looks can be deceiving when it comes to the quality of food versus the curb appeal of an epicurean institution. In this case however, the curb appeal (or lack thereof) told the story.  

Friday, November 25, 2011

My Provincial Cooking

I'm thankful Thanksgiving only comes once a year. Twice a year would kill me. Of course there was the "little" wrinkle of the incident with the circular saw, but hey that just added to sport of it all. And, I am a big proponent of the holiday, trying to save it from being lost between Halloween and Christmas.

However, a frustrating twenty four hours of trying to prepare four fairly simple dishes made me question if it was really worth it. Yes, Cindy Lou, I may be the Grinch of Thanksgiving. After sampling my brownies, cranberry relish, and banana pudding my appetite was shot by the time we sat down for the big meal. 

I always pride myself on being a good cook, ok a damn good cook. I always try to go a little better than the everyday. Not crossing the line of "what the hell did you do to mess up this traditional dish" (example currents, raisins, and rosemary in the dressing), but I have set a pretty high standard for myself. If I bring a dish it is not going to be ordinary but still meet the traditional requisites while pushing the boundaries. For example, my collards that are extremely spicy (add three whole dried chilies), or my home made rolls (Sister Shubert's own recipe -thank you). 

Not that I'm the only good cook in the family. Trust me, no one walks away from the Thanksgiving table hungry. If they do, it's their own damn fault. This year we were all in the kitchen uncovering our dishes, finding trivets, and the appropriate serving utensils. It was almost a Norman Rockwell moment. Everything smelled so good. I had remembered to bring everything (I am famous for leaving one dish in my refrigerator when I leave the house.) My nephew said he hoped I had brought my "hot" collards he loved so. His wife was thrilled when she saw I brought banana pudding and my rolls are always a hit. Suddenly, the past twenty four hours may have been worth it.

Then my sister-in-law walked in the kitchen and there was a hush. I turned around to see her unwrapping a large platter with two huge colorful turkeys made out of fruit and chocolate. It looked like something a professional chef would have prepared as the centerpiece for the buffet at a big city hotel. She had used everything from apples to oranges to melon, grapes, blackberries, strawberries, and  white and dark chocolate to carefully pierce, intricately carve, and magically dip each piece to create this masterpiece. It was akin to a fruit version of an entry in the Rose Parade. Game, Set, Match.

I was in awe of the detail of this work of art and could only imagine the time it took. It was truly a thing of beauty and she deserved every accolade she got. Suddenly throwing together some homemade  brownies, cranberry relish, banana pudding, collards, and homemade rolls seemed so provincial. Thank God, I am old, slow, tired and no longer competitive. It would take me a while to come up with something to top that. And the best thing was, she made it because she enjoyed doing it and she wasn't trying to impress anyone.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Parting is Such Sorrow

They bought the dog crate!” I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about. Given I was sitting on the sofa looking at two crates and two pups who are very much attached to their crates, I was clueless – God forbid we were upgrading. “You knew I listed it on Amazon months ago and I had forgotten about it.  I figured no one would buy it.”  “And, which pup gets the news she no longer has a home?” “No, this is the crate Abby out grew. I was cleaning things out and getting rid of some clutter.”  There is a God.

Next I hear this cursing from his office. “Do you know how much it is going to cost to send this to California?” “No, but I would think a lot.” “$45 by Fed-Ex, $43 by the post office. But if I send it media mail it would only cost $18.” (I’d like to see him justify that.  Mr. Postman, why yes, this is media, uhm,  what kind you ask? It is a 42 lb presentation board that is 42 by 24 inches – very substantial.) “I don’t think you are going to find a box for that to fit in.” “Well, that’s another issue.

Later on I walk into the den and find him on the floor with four random pieces of card board, duct tape, and scissors fashioning a “custom” box for the crate. Meanwhile Abby and Ellie sit by most entertained by it all. “Well there is a lesson to be learned here.” “Remember what you list on Amazon?” “No, never throw away a box,  you never know what you may need in the future. And, the more I mess with this crate packing it up, I realize what a fine crate it is.” "Well, that was why we bought it." "So, why should we get rid of it?" "Because we don't need it any more." "But we may in the future.

"Just like those replacement blades we still have for those floor fans we got rid of three years ago." "But you never know when those parts will come in handy? and, I am still mad at you for throwing away those fans."  "The fans were worn slap out and I think we can part with the replacement blades since they no longer make those fans." "You never know." "I'll take my chances."

Monday, November 21, 2011

All We Want is a Happy Christmas

It is time to solicit the annual "Christmas List" from our youngest daughter (complete with url links to ensure we 'get it right').  God forbid we deviate and give a gift of love or joy. You know something thoughtful we saw, and thought "that really looks like something special she would enjoy." And why's that you ask? Because according to her (1) we don't have a clue what she wants, (2) we would never get it right, and (3) even if we tried, we don't have the sophisticated taste to select something she would appreciate. So there.

And, oh the ramifications should we try. It is not pretty. The peace and joy of our family Christmas morning lies alone with her. History bares this out, trust me. Every Christmas morning we all sit, with bated breath watching her chair, as if she were some kind of oracle. If she were to smile (God forbid) then the heavens would open and angels would sing "Hallelujah". Joy and happiness would spread throughout our den and there may be a chance for peace on earth. More likely, we hear a gruff, "I hope you kept the receipts."

When will we finally learn that we cannot make her happy? After all she is "special" and the rest of us peons have no appreciation of how life should be. She is a dream for Madison  Avenue. Personally, I can do without Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, and Chanel. Personally, I'd settle for peace in our den on Christmas morning and a happy child without our having to participate in commercial pandering.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Framed - Again

Today and tomorrow Five Rivers is having their Holiday Open House. Wanting to make the most of it, I did a quick inventory, produced some additional prints, and framed them. One thing I have noticed is that people are very interested in black and white photos - go figure. I always assumed that black and white would do better with modern subjects like buildings and statutes, not historic places and lush landscapes. Desert yes - South Carolina Low Country not so much. But don't shoot me, I'm just the photographer. So I added a few more black and whites.

One (color) photo that has proved to be an issue with me is an incredibly lovely, if I must say so myself, shot of sailboats moored at dawn off Lady's Island. 

For some reason, I have been unable to get an 11x14 print successfully framed in an 16x20 frame. I found a perfect rough wood frame and mat with just a touch of pink in it to bring out one of many hues of the sky. 

Any who, the first time I attempted to frame the print, after I had the photo mounted behind the mat, in the frame, and the backing sealed, I stepped back to admire my work. It was lovely - until the light hit it from the side and I noticed the photo itself was rumpled and far from flat. Rats, since the photos are glued "flat", this one was trashed.

Second try - same frame, same mat, and as I got ready to put it in the frame I realized that I had a misplaced the photo when I glued it and it did not match the mat. In other words it was so crooked that only part of the photo showed behind the mat. Failure again. This photo was jinxed. I just put the photo, mat, and frame aside in total frustration.

A week or so ago when I was doing an inventory of the gallery, I noticed the  8x10 print (in an 11x14 frame) of this same print had sold. I needed to replace this one. As I was framing prints last night, I saw the jinxed photo against the wall. Gathering my strength, I decided I would attempt to frame it one more time. Maybe third time was the charm. And indeed it was. Success ! Finally! But alas, there is a crack in the glass. &*(% it! 

At least, I needed to replace the smaller version. I had the mat and frame ready. When I went to get the print off the printer, the fates hit again. The print had faint lines through it. Like our dear Scarlet, I'll deal with this tomorrow, or next week, or never.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lost and Found Thanksgiving Day

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. But once again, I ask – What happened to poor Thanksgiving? The pilgrims need a voice, without some animated spokesperson I fear it doesn’t have a chance. No one really wants an inflated fleet of three small ships in their yard (ie the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria in case you forgot your second grade history). Or perhaps a friendly pilgrim couple waving by the drive is not what you had in mind.

But, alas come to think of it, Thanksgiving has taken on its own identity, or should I say got lost in it. It has become the biggest shopping eve day of the year. And, for the first time, even here in the south (where you still cannot buy batteries for your camera on Sunday), some stores will open on Thanksgiving Day to jump start the big day. Thank goodness Macys still has their Thanksgiving Day parade.

What happened to the days of Norman Rockwell’s Thanksgiving day  dinner, where we can gather our dysfunctional families around the dining room table (for those of us who still have dining rooms) and share those special moments – ooh a scary thought. In our case, it will be a case of avoiding those “sticky subjects” one best not to bring up or throw them in the conversation just to stir up more than the giblet gravy. 

My favorite part is the ride home when we can be catty. “Can you believe what she wore?” “Did you hear how much they paid for their house. So that’s where the inheritance went?”Well, it’s kind of obvious she hasn’t kicked her little “habit”, she couldn’t answer a question I asked her in a complete sentence.

But even though, as with many, our family puts the “fun” in dysfunctional, we are lucky in that we still gather on Thanksgiving day with our combined families and share a wonderful meal. Even our youngest daughter will join us. That is unless she follows through on one of her many threats not to.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Necropolis Cristobal Colon

I thought down here we took death pretty seriously. And, after spending the better part of a day wondering around in the Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, I realized some folks take it a lot more seriously than the rest of us. Those folks down there made an art (no pun intended) out of one upping their neighbor on who had the grandest tombstone. Actually, they were long past tombstones. They got into statutes, then they got into mausoleums (one with a Tiffany window). But they went from competitive to eccentric when them one of them built a pyramid to honor and store the family's remains. That was hard to beat.

While we were in Cuba we had the chance to visit Necropolis Cristobal Colon, Havana's main cemetery.  It covers 140 acres, has 500 major mausoleums, family chapels, and vaults.

There are 800,000 people buried  and over a million people interred.

Click here for a panoramic view of Necropolis Colon.

There is such a lack of space that the bodies (of the common people) are buried then dug up after three years and the bones put in an osssuary and stored in a storage facility to make room for more. (And, it cost the loved one's family 10 pesos a year for the storage.)

It is located in the Vedado area of Havana, was named for Christopher Columbus, and dates back to 1876.

Notables buried there (whose remains get to lay in peace with grand memorials to their lives) include the pianist from the Buena Vista Social Club, baseball players, national heroes, a United States Congressman, a Roman Catholic Cardinal, the sailors killed on the US Maine (who were later disinterred and brought back to be buried at Arlington), poets, film makers, photographers, military heroes and patriots who struggled for Cuba's independence from Spain, and distraught lovers, to name a few.

The memorials are so grand and the graves so close together is hard to walk among the individual graves. 

The only way to navigate your way through is to follow the lanes that are built and divide the cemetery into small blocks. Here is an old plat of the lanes.

The landscaping of grass, royal palms, and hedges is kept very neat, all by hand labor. The memorials vary from Art Deco to classical to Greek like temples to grand statutes. 

We only just rode through the center and down a lane or two. But it was enough to get a sense of it.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Holiday Season is Upon Us

I forgot it was Halloween last night until the elevator opened in the hotel and Jeanie (as in from "I Dream of . . . ) in full regalia stepped out. Being totally sober, I realized that, yes, it was the night of ghosts and goblins when adults lose all sense of decorum and will wear anything that someone thought was great at the time.

The best thing about today, All Saints Day (see there are some remnants of Episcopalian in me) is that finally the Christmas carols being played (in Lowes and Home Depot) do not have to compete with the witches and haunted houses. Now, we just wait for the Christmas trees to show up out front of the Piggly Wiggly, Siruis to open their Holiday Music channels, and the big tree to arrive at Rockefeller Center. Then the stress can begin.

Monday, October 31, 2011

I Thought They Loved Me as an Artist

As a photographer I like to think of myself as an artist. Well, it falls in that category in most listings, so I'll take those as the authority. (Whatever it takes to qualify.) Anyway, when I am in the field I am always looking for a different angle, the light falling in a unique way, making the mundane beautiful. I pride myself on photos standing apart from the rest. 

In my gallery, it was the close shot of the water coming down a fall, or the just the bright yellow buoys on a shrimp boat (every one photographs the boat itself).  I personally love my picture looking up the wall of the green house of famous Rainbow in Charleston. After all, pictures of the colorful row of houses are a dime a dozen.

Angel Oak, said to be the oldest living thing east of the Rockies (possibly 1500 years old) and a true thing of beauty. A tremendous oak tree on Johns Island, standing 65 feet high and providing 17,000 square feet of shade. This ancient oak is visited by tens of thousands of tourists each year to pay homage to this glorious work of nature. And,  photographs of the tree are staples of gift emporiums and galleries through out the low country. Instead of the standard view of the tree head on, I chose a different perspective.

I thought my picture of the tomb at old Sheldon Church (although a little eerie) was a different view of the very somber landmark of a lovely southern church that had been built and burned several times. One can purchase pictures of the picturesque ruins of the church with its columns still standing in any gallery or gift store in the low country.

So out of the forty or fifty unique (or so in my opinion) images I have captured that are displayed in the gallery and on my website, which are the ones that sell?  The unique shots that represent the true artist in me oh no, no my friend. The public wants . . .

 My (rather mundane) photo of Rainbow:

This image I shot of Angel Oak:

Sheldon Church? Yes folks, this is what sells?

So much for artistic freedom, personal perspective. I am a slave to commercialism. Well, I must have been attracted to these views also, otherwise I would have never taken the shots.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Malecon

The Malecon in Havana is a well known and well photographed landmark. It is a sea wall  and wide walk way that runs along the harbor's edge. 

Locals fish off it (since food is rationed and there is no seafood available in the stores). 

Lovers walk hand and hand. Teenage Cubans can be seen frolicking along the way and families often enjoy it in the afternoon and evening. 

There is also a four lane road that follows the Malecon having several names along the way. Where we were it was called "Avenue Carlos Manuel Cespedes (Avineda Del Peurto)". Whatever the name, it was fairly treacherous to cross.

The buildings across the street vary from "modern" several story buildings in fairly good shape to older historic ones that are literally crumbling. There is a movement by the government to restore these buildings. 

My theory is it is to provide a facade to cover the decay of the Havana Centre area that sits just one block behind.

Casa1932 (where we were staying) was just two blocks from the Malecon, so it was a short walk (but death defying crossing of Avineda Del Peurto) for us to enjoy the promenade with the local Cubans.