Thursday, September 30, 2010

Friday Hometown Shootout - Orange and Black

I've only got a few pictures for this week's shoot out but I shuffle down to the Butler and Bagman Office to download them...or upload them...I'm confused and tired and open the door  to...

...the eyepopping sight of Bagman's hairy legs kicking in a cheerleader's uniform shaking orange and black pom poms and yelling a cheer.

BAGMAN:  "Orange and black!  Orange and black!
                    We love to score and we love to sack!  GO...TEAM!
                    Black and orange!  Black and orange!
                     We love  Hey, Butler?  What rhymes with orange?"

BUTLER (yawning): "Nothing rhymes with orange."

Bagman notices me, snaps to attention and salutes which is a bizarre image since he is holding pom poms.
Butler just shakes his head and looks to see if I've brought anything for the shootout.

BUTLER:  "Not much, I see."

BUTLER: "Isn't that more red than orange?"

I look at it again.  I'm too tired to argue.  But I argue anyway because I think there must be some orange in there somewhere.  By now I'm not sure I know the difference. I give up and post another.

BUTLER: "A little better.  Maybe a bit more burnt sienna."

BAGMAN:  "Burnt sienna?!!  What kind of froo froo color is that?!!"

BUTLER:  "Froo froo?   From a man holding pom poms?"

"Chiaroscuro Impressionist Self-Portrait with Cat"

BUTLER: "Gosh.  I'm sure glad you titled that one.  I thought it was just a television."


BUTLER: "And I got up early for this?"

BAGMAN:  " frommage rhyme with orange?  Throat lozenge?   Flange?  

BUTLER:  "Only if you want to rhyme just the last syllable. 

Monday, September 27, 2010

I dreamed I was having a nervous breakdown

Last night, I dreamed I was having a nervous breakdown. I couldn't remember where I put things.  I was frustrated at everything I had to do and I was short-tempered and angry and I couldn't explain how I was feeling.   I'd pick things up and go into a room and forget why I was there and put things back down at random.  People around me were beginning to express concern.

Thankfully it was a dream.  I woke up relieved and went into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee.  Then I thought I'd get the newspaper first from the front yard.  First I looked at the clock to see if it was time to wake Karen up.  Then I turned back, looked at the sink and couldn't remember why I was in the kitchen. 


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Friday Shootout - Hot and Cold

"The most mysterious invention, I think, is the thermos bottle.   It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold.  How does it know when to do which?"

I heard that joke somewhere so I really can't take credit for it.  Probably George Carlin.

BAGMAN:  "Gah!  You throw cold water on your opening by you need to be so unplageristic.  Your burn me up sometimes!"

And then I ran out of time in the week to create some continuity full of hot/cold puns and have to bang out a quick disconnected and probably rather tepid post. 

And most of the photos will be on the hot side since, after all, I live in Charleston, South Carolina where we have four seasons -- (1) Almost summer, (2) Summer, (3) Just past summer, and (4) Christmas. 

Oh boy, here comes another scorcher!

...and for some unknown reason, on hot summer days
we like to cook over fire! 

I have to go back in archives to when I lived in Massachusetts

to find cold shots...

Where's the snow shovel?
Come to think about it, cooking out in 95 degree humidity
may not be that bad.

And sometimes, even in Charleston, we get a rare snow.
This one was in the Just Past Christmas season this year.

I like hot cars and car shows.
And with Photoshop, I can make the engines even hotter.

A truly smokin' hot rod!

But the next two pictures below are the hottest in my collection!  They veritably sizzle with heat.

BUTLER:  "I don't get it.  There is nothing hot here.  And frankly, they are not very good pictures."

BAGMAN:  "You're too picky, Butter-butt.  You have to see them through the eyes of a romantic."

In this case, Bagman is right.  The top picture is a hallway in a convention hall in Columbus, Georgia.  It was wall-to-wall with crowds of people during a conference and, as I walked through the crowd, I looked over and made eye contact with a woman who had the most beautiful smile I had ever seen.  After getting up the courage to introduce myself later and after dinner and after hours of conversation, we were sitting on the bench when I ventured a kiss.  "Not yet," she said.   Fortunately "yet" was the main word and 24 years later we are still married.   The hallway is totally empty because I stopped there a year later before our wedding to give the pictures to her as a gift.

BUTLER/BAGMAN (in unison): "Aaawwwwwwww.  So sweeeeeeeeet."

And still hot.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Guard Cat

Put the camera down slowly
and step away from the baby.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


There were several butterfly shots in Friday's Shootout and a wonderful quote from Collectin Texas Gal from R.H. Heinlein that "Butterflies are self-propelled flowers."    It reminded me of a poem I wrote a little while ago.   So this is kind of a belated addendum to my shortened offering for Friday.


Constantly changing direction,
a living yellow leaf with a mind of its own
albeit a small one, never made up,
always about to alight
on a leaf, on a bud, on a stem,
here, then there,
on wings too big to be subtle
she’s off again, not knowing where,
as if she can’t decide.

Perhaps having been so recently
a worm, she’s afraid to place her feet
on any solid ground again,
like a brand new angel.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday Shootout - Critters or Critter as the case may be

Not the greatest week at the Bagman and Butler office...watching sadly while children, who thought they were adults, add another data point to America's divorce statistics.  Wondering how the grandchildren are holding up.   I can't get too judgemental since I orchestrated a divorce of my own back before I began to learn what love actually meant. 

But I'll post one picture just to hold on to my own sense of normalacy.

I'm not sure this couple will be together all that long either.  

BAGMAN:  "Nice job of pouring cold water on the Friday Shootout."

Monday, September 13, 2010

Black Widow - Epilogue

(NOTE: If you are a first-timer to this blog, you may want to go back to the first of the 6-part series, to make sense of it, by clicking here. Then again, you might not.)


What to do with the body?

Now that the execution was over, I needed to clean out that corner of the garage. Wash the poison off the stepladder, etc. I looked at the mortal remains of the black widow, hanging in the web next to fly crumbs and the hind leg of her last husband.

I considered lining a match box with black tissue paper and burying her in that. I wondered if the spider had wanted to be cremated.

While I was thinking, I heard a noise behind me and my wife moved around me with a broom and before I could catch my breath, had swept up the dead spider, the web, and old nail and two cups of dirt into a dustpan and thrown it in the trash bin. Then she looked at me quizzically and asked, “What on earth are you thinking?”

“I was wondering if the spider believed in God,” I said.

Karen laughed. “She probably thought you were God.” She dropped the dustpan and broom in the corner and went back in the house, saying, “I’m just glad you finally got rid of it.”

I stood for a long time pondering. Could Aragog possibly have thought that I was God? Before I showed up, she had been going from day to day in typical black widow fashion. Then suddenly there were earth-shaking vibrations, gigantic shapes filling the sky above her, blinding, flashing lights that came in the night. Then food miraculously appearing in her web.

Maybe she stayed in her web instead of running and hiding on that last day because she had experienced some kind of insect epiphany. In her little arachnid mind, I was some kind of unfathomable mystery. What did she know of who I was really was? What did she know of my blogging? She didn’t even have a tiny computer?

I walked outside the garage. The drizzle had stopped and the sun was breaking through the clouds. I looked up and realized that I understood the God that I worshipped no better than Aragog had understood me. In an odd way, this thought strengthened my faith although it deepened my understanding that I have faith in a great mystery.

I said a silent prayer for the world and went back inside. I took one last look at where Aragog had been and my heart skipped a beat. The egg sac under the ladder rung was broken…and empty.

“Each egg sack contains approximately 200 eggs,” I muttered.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Black Widow - Part 5 (The Execution)

The Governor did not call. 

Last night, I found a freshly dead fly on the window sill. I picked it up and somberly took it out to the garage and dropped it onto the black widow, Aragog’s tangled web. She had requested grasshopper for her last meal but government cut-backs are tough and grasshopper was not in the Arachnid Death Row’s budget.

It was a long night. Outside various spider species gathered outside the garage door, holding very tiny candles.

The slow dawn came in with overcast skies and a slight drizzle. As I walked from my bedroom, through the studio toward the garage, Butler and Bagman doffed their hats and bowed their heads. I was touched because neither of them wear hats and had acquired them for the sole purpose of doffing them.

BUTLER: “Be strong, Mark. You are doing the right thing.”

BAGMAN: “What is doffing anyway?”

BUTLER: “It is a contraction of ‘do,’ in the sense of ‘put’ and ‘off’.”

I didn’t care but continued to the garage, opened the garage door, causing hundreds of spiders to run into the grass dropping their tiny candles which sparkled, sputtered, and went out on the driveway. Aragog, the black widow, was hanging in her nest patiently. She declined my offer of a cigarette and a blindfold.

There was no sense in delaying the inevitable. Karen had already expressed her relief that I was finally getting rid of the spider. After trying, several times, to tie a tiny noose out of black thread, I had given up and decided to use a can of wasp spray which affectively shoots poison from a safe distance. In the past I had fought off squadrons of wasps in the Battle of the Eaves.

I stood back, aimed, and let it fly. Unable to watch, I involuntarily shut my eyes. When I opened them again, SHE WAS GONE! “Gaaaa!” I cried. You just can’t trust poisonous spiders anymore!

I ran up to the web, dangerously close and started spraying the ladder, the flower pot, the boards, the cracks in the boards. I sprayed extra amounts on the egg sac. The acrid smell of poison filled the garage. White drops were dripping from everywhere! I stepped back, breathing heavily. Maybe she had escaped? Part of me hoped that she been successful in her attempt to flee but part of me was thinking about how my grandchildren might play in the garage.

Suddenly a movement caught my eye and Aragog dropped from the second rung of the ladder and fell into her own web, twisted and motionless. It was done.

I walked forward to take a closer look and almost fell backward when she jumped upright on all eights and stared at me. I stared right into her eyes, felt a strange sense of mutual understanding, and…

(If you are squeamish, please look away now).

…squirted directly into her face.

Now it was really over.

Walking back into the house, my wife saw my look of sadness and, with great compassion, said, “You are really getting crazier every day.”

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Spider Showdown -- Photographer vs. Arachnid

It was very early in the morning and the sky was just getting light.  I had been hiding in the office, staring across my desk at Bagman and Butler.   Finally Bagman got tired of teasing me by singing "The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout" song.   He humphed and stood up angrily. 

BAGMAN (standing up angrily): “What kind of wimpy nature photographer are you anyway!  Do your photographic duty!  Get out there, take a picture of the stupid bug, then kill it!”

BUTLER: “It’s not a bug. It’s a black widow.”

BAGMAN: “Widow, shmidow!  Mark is still bigger, smarter, and more dangerous than any bug. At least he is bigger and more dangerous. (pause) Well, at least he's bigger.”

After carefully weighing the consequence between being bitten by a black widow and feeling like a wimp, I got the camera and headed out to the garage. I had concluded that Aragog came out at night (comforting thought) and if I was going to shoot her, this was the best time.

And there she was! 

Hiding behind the car, I adjusted the bounce flash and fiddled with camera settings and prepared to move out…

BUTLER: “By the way, Mark, did you ever stop to consider that the egg sack containing up to 200 spider eggs might have hatched in the meantime and that black widows like dark secluded places such as, maybe, the underside of the car you were hiding behind?”

Thankfully, I had not considered that possibility. Therefore, I was able to muster my courage and skulk boldly toward the corner where Aragog sat waiting.

BUTLER: “Impossible! How do you skulk boldly?”

You had to be there! Walking toward a black widow in semi-darkness with a camera can only be done by skulking boldly. In any case, I was soon in range, took careful aim, and the silence was shattered by a massive click.

Damn autofocus!  Crisp focus on the board, however.

My Nikon can do almost everything but figure out what, exactly, I’m trying to shoot! Now I panic again because I’m sure the flash has sent Aragog running again.  And I can’t see if she is running away from me or AT ME,  because the flash may not have blinded the spider, but it blinded me. But as I slowly regain night vision, I discover she is just sitting there, grinning and cackling in her teeny tiny witch voice. So I try again. Same result. I try to remember where the autofocus lock button is but I can’t remember and it is too dark to see it. 

So I try manual focus.

But of course, as I expected, my human ability to focus disappeared long ago. Amazingly, she is still there, so I finally give up and just start blasting away, zooming in and out, praying that the Nikon’s autofocus will finally discover and focus on the spider by random luck.

Flashes and clicks fill the garage by the dawn’s early light.   I'm loudly singing a deranged anthem: "By the strobe light's red glare!  The clicks bursting in air!  Gave proof throught the night that Aragog was still there!"   Until, finally, my wife pokes her head out the door and says, “Have you got rid of that spider yet?”

“Almost,” I moan bleakly.

But later, after deleting 157 perfectly focused shots of the floor boards and wall cracks, the Nikon gives me one shot where it somehow, purely by accident, stayed focused on Aragog.

And then I realize why she hadn’t moved. Because love is blind and her next lover moving close to her, bringing flowers and hoping for the moment to be right for consummation. Not that he would live long enough to brag about it to his buddies. But at least he would provide her with another egg sack of 200 more eggs. 

Two ... hundred ... more ... eggs. 

Maybe it was time for me to exercise whatever killer instinct I still  retain.

Tomorrow there must be no more Mister Nice Guy.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Spider Causes Postponement of Friday Shootout

Okay, we had our fun with the spider.  Now it was time for the Friday Hometown Shootout.  Lines and stripes.  Lines and stripes.  I'm thinking about church spires, bridge struts, and about to get into my car when I feel like I am being watched.   I turn slowly to the corner of the garage...

...and THERE SHE WAS!!!!

I started to pulling my camera out of the bag.   This time I wasn’t going to assume she’d still be there in thirty minutes.  But by now, Aragog had my number!  Before I could finish unzipping the camera bag, she scampered upward and to the right!

Her web might not be symmetrical, but she sure knew where the silk express lane was. I didn’t realize how fast spiders can move when they want to.  Do you know that a spider can outrun a cheetah in any distance shorter than 2 meters. I reminded myself to stay a bit further away from her web.

On the other hand, Aha!

BUTLER: “What kind of strange sentence construction is ‘On the other hand, Aha!’?”

Ignoring Butler, I repeated myself.  On the other hand, Aha!  I now had seen her direction of escape. And I will mark it on the photograph below.

Please note the "Lines" of the ladder -
My Friday Shootout Contribution.

My first thought was that she had scampered all the way up to the top of  the step ladder from which she was preparing to drop down on me from above, wrap me in her silken shrouds and suck me out for dinner. By now, however, I was one very determined black widow naturalist. So I finished arming myself with my trusty camera and returned. Watching the ceiling above me, I set the camera on the floor under her nest (but greater than 2.1 meters away) and shot a picture looking up.

Checking it out in the camera, I could not see her, but I spotted her egg sack.

Egg Sack (and more nice lines for the shootout)

I whispered the words again, slowly so I could take in their full meaning – “Egg sack.” According to what I have learned, approximately 200 spider eggs are in each egg sack.

I whispered the words again, slow, so I could take in their full meaning – “200 spider eggs.”

My wife called from inside the house, “By the way, Mark! Did you ever get rid of that spider?”

I groaned back, “Almost, Honey! I’m working on it.

Somewhere in a dark step ladder crevice, Aragog lurked. I could hear her soft, crackling voice daring me to reach in and try to take her eggs.

Instead, I scooped up the camera and ran back into the house, slamming the door and blocking it with a chair wedged under the doorknob. Struggling to make my voice sound matter-of-fact, I suggested to Karen, “I think we should start using the back door when we come and go. We could use the exercise.”

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pursuing the Black Widow - Part II

This morning, I banged my kneed on the fender of my car because, instead of watching where I was going, I was staring at the ceiling, waiting for Aragog to drop from the garage door opener onto my head, quickly boring a small hole in my cranium and inserting black widow poison.

But I remain calm, trying to pretend that I am staring in one of those nature programs on television where people are dropped into the middle of swamps or out in deserts and have to survive on grubs and skunkweed alone.  (Unless they are given candy bars on breaks by the camera crews that I assume are following them.)

But in my garage there is no camera crew, just me.

BAGMAN: "But there are candy bars!!!"

Anyhow,  in comments yesterday, Tabor had said she didn't know they had open air webs, so I was intrepidly going to investigate.  Since Aragog had run off after our first encounter, I was not sure that any web remained.   But as the saying goes, "An old web is better than no web at all."

If you blow up this picture and look closely, you can see the black widow's web.   Of course, if you are like me -- "so many blogs, so little time" -- you won't blow up the picture, so in the spirit of nature shows, I'll make a graphic.

BUTLER: "Your usuallyy steady hand seems to be a bit shaky with the lines, don't you think?"

BAGMAN:  "He was hearing the eight-beat cadence of footsteps above him."

Actually just too much coffee too early in the morning.  But anyhow, there is what is left of Aragog, the black widow's web.  The spider guide says that they prefer dark places and have rough webs with funnels that lead to their nest where they hide out most of the time, protecting their eggs. 

Suddenly certain words reverberate down my spine (or up my spine -- chillbumps happen too fast to determine direction):  "dark places, nest, hide, protecting eggs"    I'm suddenly wondering if Aragog ran away or whether she is watching me right this minute.  Oh yes, the word "eggs" bears repeating. 

Karen's voice comes from the kitchen beyond the garage door.  "Have you killed the spider yet?"

"Not quite," I call back, my voice shakier than the lines I've drawn on the photo above.

I can almost hear a whisper from somewhere saying, "Come closer, my dear.  I'm waiting for you."

to be continued....

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Black Widow!!!!!!

BAGMAN:  "Whoo hooo!!!  To the hunt!"

BUTLER:  "Be careful, Mark."

So anyway, it is about 6:45 a.m.   There's alot going on in my life and I've had to take a day off from work and Brian, who spent the night with us, spent the night coughing constantly -- so I'm running off early to get some cough medicine at Wal-Mart when something catches my eye in the corner of the garage.

Corner of the garage

I walk over closer to take a look and suddenly say to myself, "Wow.  That looks like a black widow spider!"

The Bagman voice inside me yells for me to get the camera!  I have only seen a couple of black widows in my life and the chance to catch a bit of rare animal life is a big deal.  The Butler voice inside me suggests that I be careful because you really shouldn't fool around too much with these things.  

But the actual practical voice in my head says that my son is upstairs coughing his lungs out and the spider it quietly sitting in her web and will still be there later after the sunlight is better and Brian is not coughing so much.   

So I drive to Wal-Mart, get the cough medicine, come back, give it to Brian, get my camera, and go back outside...stealthily approaching the poisonous arachnid's lair.

Poisonous arachnid's lair

Wimpyness, which has developed as I have grown older, had convinced me to start with a normal lens rather than poking around with a close-up lens...which I might try next after determining that I wasn't being led into a trap where two hundred steroid enhanced mutant black widows would drop from the ceiling and eat me.   It was just a slow moving black widow, after all.

But where was it?

Don't strain your eyes -- it's not here although
this is where it was...


Earlier, it had been so motionless and calm and peaceful (and poisonous), I had assumed that a short trip to Wal-Mart wouldn't matter.  Now it was gone.  Once again, I kicked myself for not taking the picture when the picture is there to be taken.   Lost opportunity.  One disappointed photographer.

Then, as I dragged back into the house, another thought struck me.  It had not moved to Miami Beach.  It was somewhere.   It was still somewhere.   I'm guessing that I will wear work gloves the next time I need the step ladder, the broom, the footstool, or the flowerpot. 

And, next time, the cough medicine can wait for five minutes while I get the camera. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Under the boardwalk

(Under the boardwalk) out of the sun

(Under the boardwalk) we'll be havin' some fun

(Under the boardwalk) people walking above

(Under the boardwalk) we'll be faling in love

Under the board-walk (board-walk!)

BUTLER: "Excuse me, Mark?


BUTLER: "Does it bother you that this is a picture of a pier and not a boardwalk?"


Monday, September 6, 2010

Dreaming on the couch

Subtitle: Inception Part II - The Family

This morning I fell asleep on the couch and began dreaming that I had taken the day off from work to spend having some quality time with my more or less grown-up son. But I knew I had to walk the dog so I was trying to wake up and finally did. (But of course, I didn't really).

I continued dreaming that I was awake but so groggy I felt maybe I had had some kind of stroke. Daisy came when I called and I stumbled to the porch, dismayed to see that someone had tracked brightly colored fall leaves throughout the house. (Dream interpretation 101a from a misremembered quote by Leon Troski: "It is odd but the greatest surprise that ever comes to man is that he has grown old").

I knew Karen would be upset to see all the leaves in the house but I couldn't think about cleaning them up; I could hardly remove the chainlock from the porch door (Dream interpretation 101b: "The chain lock must stand for something but I don't know what -- maybe just feeling trapped by my life). I could hardly stand up or breathe. I wondered if I was dying. Outside, Daisy ran happily off and I noticed that a storm had blown the cover of the grill into the lake. It was Lake Pearl where I grew up as a child. (Dream interpretation 101c: "No need to interpret this -- lake, childhood, happier time, it is what it is"). I saw it floating just under the surface of the water beyond my grasp. When I turned to see if I could find a stick or something to get it, Brian, his wife, children, and a gang of his friends were standing on the porch steps watching me. I was surprised to see them because I thought he had already been taken off to prison. But seeing him reminded me of a message I had wanted to give him about people plotting against him. I had planned to tell him when we were alone but I thought I'd never see him again so I leaned in and -- his wife was screaming at me not to tell him and he was shrinking back in terror -- but I laid out what I knew. Afterwards, however, I knew that I had destroyed him with the knowledge.

Devastated myself, I turned and jumped into the lake retrieve the grill cover but it had sunk. The pristine lake of my child hood was now polluted with hundreds of old, soggy, cardboard boxes. (Dream interpretation 101d: "Obvious, old chap -- you are drowning in the emotional baggage of your past -- that subconscious metaphor is a no-brainer")

So I climbed out, realizing my cellphone and palm pilot had been destroyed by the water, and went inside. Brian and all his friends were busy moving all their stuff out of my house - furniture, clothes and toys belonging to the grandkids. Karen arrived and began helping but I did not lift a finger. I just watched the rooms becoming bare. I was sad that I'd never see them again and yet I noticed how clean and bright the walls and floors had become.

I went out the porch again, to walk around the house and up the hill to a store. Karen said, "Aren't you going to hug everybody goodbye?"

"Nope," I grunted, but when I walked around the side they were all coming around from where the truck was loaded to hug me goodbye. I wasn't in the mood and shrugged off the hugs. Except Brian. He held me for a longer than usual time and seemed to want to say something but was unable to talk. I just whispered in his ear, "Be strong. Be careful. You have enemies."

The hug ended and I went on up the hill to Walmart thinking, sadly, that he probably wouldn't last very long but there wasn't much more I could do about it. And just maybe he had some of the bizarre strengths of youth that had seen me through when I had been his age. I couldn't remember what they were now. But I had survived and maybe he would too.

Coming back down the hill from Walmart, I suddenly realized that I could kind of ski on the gravel road on my stocking feet. It was a thrill, gaining speed and slaloming back and forth to avoid cars and road equipment. Near the bottom, going fast, I saw that there was a break in the road and I decided to jump it...and like a ski-jumper I was suddenly high in the air. Flying over everything, wind in my face. I felt a sense of ecstasy.

Dream interpretation 101e: "I'm still working on the cell phone and palm pilot and you lost me completely at Walmart. The flying part might be some kind of life after death thing. Heck, you know better than to try and interpret dreams."

And before I came down, Daisy was licking my hand next to the couch and I woke up and took her for a walk. Lake Pearl was no longer there but I noticed the lawn needed mowing soon. I checked my cell phone but there was no message from my son. I came up stairs and wrote this blog.

Or maybe I'm still dreaming.

And, if not, I suspect anyone who tries to read it will be bored into sleeping. The other truth about dreams is that they never have any interest for anyone except for the dreamer.

Night night.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Cannibal Dance of the Wild Kudzu Tribe

BUTLER:  "Honestly, Mark, why do you try and get tricky with your titles.  You just could have simply titled this blog..."

...interrupted by Bagman who is wearing a loincloth made of kudzu leaves and leaping in a wild spinning dance...

BUTLER (contining as if he has not noticed): "...Pueraria Lobata."
BAGMAN (Jumping down on the floor to do a breakdance spin move) "La La Lobata!  La La Lobata!"  (Then his spin connects his head with the leg of my desk and he stops, lying on the floor trying to catch his breath.)

BUTLER (continuing in a scholarly manner): "And you should be careful, Baggie, my friend.  That Kudzu you are wearing in such a delicate area might take root.  It is a very dangerous plant and suffocates most of what it touches."  

There are trees beneath these ghostly shrouds
trees that wonder quietly
where all the sunshine has gone...

BUTLER: "Pueraria Lobata was introduced to the United States from Japan in 1876.  It spreads through both seeds and by attaching itself with nodes to other vegitation.  You can see it everywhere in the Southeast.  Despite the fact that nobody wants it, as a Japanese export, it has increased its market share more than Toyota, Nikon, Sony, and Honda put together.

BAGMAN:  "Hey!  I can't get this thing off me!  Help!!!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Friday Shootout - Graffiti

BAGMAN runs in grinning and shouting: "Recognition at last for my favorite artist!  Maestro of the freight yards!  Leonardo Graffiti!"

Butler just frowns, shakes his head at Bagman, looks over at me and says, "You got anything?"

I like graffiti and have a couple of old shots and a couple of new ones, but I can't complete with Bagman.  Besides, wasn't it Salvador Graffiti"

BUTLER: "Not you too.  Just post some pictures so we can go back to bed."

It was outside the building where I work.  I snapped it in case it was a gang logo but once I saw it, I realised it simply said "SCS" -- South Carolina Sign-painters.  If we ever need to commission any ugly signs.

I looked around my archives and found the next one from Italy, a great trip that is slowly fading in my memory.

And the next one goes back further still to when I was shooting statues in Boston.   I'm not sure it qualifies as graffiti, but some college student probably thought the statue looked better with lipstick.

And the next one goes back even further --

Well, I took the picture yesterday, but...

BUTLER: "That's not graffiti!  It's a portrait your grandfather painted of your mother and grandmother!"

No, no, Butler, you're not looking closely.  Look at the very bottom of the painting.

Way back when I was 7 or 8, I took  pencil and made graffiti on it.  My grandmother was mad at first that I would deface a work of art, but my grandfathers  (whose work of art it was) said he thought it was sweet and added alot to it.  If I ever get back to France I'm going to look more closely to see if little Billy Lisa scribbled any cute love marks on Mona's picture.

I'm not sure this qualifies as graffiti either but I did take it this week.  I need to post a couple of new pictures to prove that I still own a camera and not just a huge archive.  I was going to use this sometime  in a blog about Phillip Simmons.  Simmons was a Charleston, SC legend.  He did most of the great iron grill work in the city from a  little workshop behind his house.  He died a year or so ago and his house is now a small museum although it doesn't get many tourists because it is in the really poor side of town.  One of my colleagues at work knew him and wrote a story for our Diversity Newsletter and he and I went over and shot some illustrations.  But I liked the walkway.   If I get the time later this week, I'll show a little more of Phillip Simmons legacy. 

And the final one is also some old graffiti --

I think I posted this a couple of years ago but it fits.   This is graffiti that dates back to the end of the Civil War.  It is behind a staircase in Drayton Hall, one of the few surviving original plantation houses around Charleston.  It was supposedly spared destruction by Union troops because it had been transformed into a Smallpox Hospital.  My guess is that this was written by one of the doctors because even 150 years later nobody can read doctors' handwriting. 

BAGMAN:  "I can read it perfectly!  It says '5 cc's penicillin and apply leeches as needed'." 

BUTLER:  "Penicillin wasn't discovered until 1928.  Shows how much you know!"

BAGMAN:  "Shows how much you know...shows how much you know...big whoop, you geek."

I leave Bagman and Butler to their little squabble and head off to bed. 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Noah begins to meet the world

I think there is a difference between men and women when it comes to babies.  Women seem to fall in love with them immediately...still gooey.  And I cabn't talk for all men, but I start falling in love with them when they start getting personalities.  Noah, grandson #2, started getting my heart with the following interchange.

Hmmm...I think I'll wake up for a minute or so...

Hey!  There's music coming from over there!

It needs a good conductor!  A one and a two and a three...

I did so good he's going to take my picture again!

Oh, the flash is so bright, I think I'm going to cry!

Nope!  I was wrong.  It's a sneeze!

What?!  Did my sneeze startle you?

Well, I guess I'm done for now...
In the words of Humphrey Bogart,
"Here's looking at you, kid."