29 February 2008

Early Warning Easter

Have you seen how early
is this year?

Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon
following the Spring Equinox. The date is obtained
from the Lunar Calendar Hebrew people use to
mark the Feast of The Passover.

With our present day Gregorian
calendar, the date moves around.
(Easter can occur as early as March 22,
but that is pretty rare.) This year Easter is March 23rd, 2008...

the earliest Easter any of us will ever see!

Next time Easter will be this early--- 2228.
The last time--- 1913.

Only the most elderly of our population
(you'd have to be 95)
---have ever seen it this early.

and the bottom line is:

.....no one alive today will
ever see an earlier Easter!

(A big hug and thanks to Gail Slaughter)

28 February 2008


O, Moon in your skythrown flight ...
...Luna, goddess, Maker of Madmen...
Why do you blush tonight?
Is it because you're ashamed of your deeds?
...or are you merely changing makeup?

(Photo: Mary Stebbins Taitt.....click on the title for more.)

"The Serpent's Apple"

How Al Spoke to Beatrice on the Way to the Safe House

(Mud Sky, a tiny story, 1990)

At a party I stood up rude in the middle of a conversation that showed no sign of letting up and said I was going out to the golf course to walk it was nine thirty and dark and a little snowy and a woman I didn’t know said now at night isn’t it spooky and scary and I said no and she said I wouldn’t feel safe and I wouldn’t go good-bye I said and went anyway and snow which was hardly snow at the party but got deeper until at the golf course it was about three inches and more in some places I was wearing sneakers but went anyway with a few beers in my belly out through the dark and snow over a series of humpy hills and then out beyond the golf course into the wild lands at three rivers where the snow was even deeper and walked up the spine of the highest hill I remembered the woman at the party who was afraid for me stood under a sick sky that was reddish purplish grey and mud-colored elated felt a hundred times safer and more at home with the snow and all the strange sky and the dead weeds poking through and the foxes than I did at the party with people I didn’t know even though they seemed intelligent and interesting and sort of nice I had in the dark snow a strange sense of peace and contentment and stood alone and alone and then I heard a baying maybe a dog or coyote or wolf it sounded wild but then I thought of Ellie and wished she could be there too and knew that if she were it wouldn’t be the same night quiet open but some other night that had her in it and my heart racing if in my nervousness I didn’t start blabbing or kissing and have to pretend to be quiet to feel how I felt then without her Mom you know I felt so utterly still in the snow and sky but if Ellie or you intruded even softly that silence would exchange for love or companionship and then that night like the serpent's apple multiplied by loss and possibility was already changed and lost I couldn't recapture it but I wish I could give it to you it grows like a swelling on my heart like some kind of wound like eden on the tundra glimpsed and gone.

(An original story, told in one breath by Mary Stebbins Taitt)

27 February 2008

"Walkin' in the Sand"

"Love by the Dashboard Lights"

My Dearest Datsun:

You know and I know we've been through this before. I see that little "Service Engine Soon" light. Again. You're nagging me. But this time I've had it. You've pushed me just a little too far.

Know what? I'm ignoring it. Really! I'm serious this time. Look, it's not like we don't see each other every day. We spend quality time on weekends, weaving through traffic, ignoring yield signs, me flipping off pedestrians, you playing your CDs. And those have been good times, I'll admit that. But that was all before you started in with this nagging thing!

Seems like every time I turn a corner now, it's "Service Engine Soon. Service Engine Soon." On the way to get groceries... "Service Engine Soon." Slogging home from work... "Service Engine Soon." You just don't get it. I've been working slavishly just to pay for all those wax jobs, keep you in rubber, picking up the tab for your insurance, and this is the thanks I get? "Service Engine Soon?"

Okay, okay....I'm sorry. That outburst may have been a bit uncalled for. Still, I've put up with a lot over the years, you'll have to admit it. I've never complained when you've needed a jump, even though you're frigid when you do. Your gas gauge goes to zero like every week, but do I blow smoke about it? No. I open your flap, and I fill you up. But here's what gets me. I can never figure you out! I turn on your lights, you beep if I forget to turn them off. You make all sorts of noise if I don't fill your radiator, and then when I do, you get steamed. I tell you, I'm getting mixed turn signals.

Buckle up, check the oil. Door not secure, shift into neutral before starting, objects may be closer than they appear. Why all this bitching and moaning and ordering me around? I'm not some crash dummy. And now again with this "Service Engine Soon."

You know, in the old days, when we were first running around together, that little light was kinda cute. Winkin' and blinkin' there. Just for me to see, nobody else. It felt like you needed me. And I thought you did. I thought that little light was a sign of, well, a signal more like. A signal you were concerned we'd break down, wind up on some deserted road, without that Triple A card I got you when we first got together. Remember that? I still have it. Right in my wallet, next to my heart.

That light meant something, then. It meant that we would be together always, and that made you the coolest thing on four wheels. But then that day came. That little light came on and stayed on, like a sign from fate or that junkyard in the sky. It left me with no alternator. I had to get you help with your problems, whatever they were. We couldn't move on without that.

But when I did that, something snapped inside you as that greasy-handed butcher of a wrench-jockey prodded and poked. I saw that look in his eyes, counting stacks of my money in his imagination as he tried to sound so...optimistic about your recovery. And all the while those dirty fingernails were all over you, tweaking your components, seeking places my hands never went.

How do you think that made me feel, seeing another man's greasy wrench under your hood? I have eyes, you know. And I have paid the price for everything.

So, you know what? Listen. If we can't get any traction in this relationship, what good is spinning our wheels? I've made up my mind. I don't care if your muffler falls off, or your tranny goes to a million pieces, I'm not taking you to back to Him. Oh, I'll stick around, I'm not the kind to hit and run, but you can forget about that other guy, he's history. I'll clean your plugs myself. You're my car, dammit, not some floozy rental, and if I can't have you, no one will.

I'll be the only man behind your wheel, baby. Tomorrow, we'll go for a ride to work. Won't that be nice? We'll put that road behind us, you'll see. We'll work out all the bugs, and I'll get that repair manual you always wanted. We'll be riding high. And I'll get a piece of tape put on that light.

(thanks to Monkey Tale)

26 February 2008

"Wordless Wednesday...Approaching Storm 840"

"Wordless Wednesday...Approaching Storm"

"The Project"

How Ethel and Geraldine Made Caskets for their Memories

Arts and Crafts, 1990

Bright bits of paper... hot pink and red, dayglo blue. Magazine pages with pictures, large and small. Shreds of ribbon. Flowers, torn from napkins. Beads... and plastic jewels: Geraldine and Ethel make memory boxes for each other.

Geraldine cuts out pictures of chickens. She slices off one leg by accident. She puts the leg inside the box. She remembers the chicken they called "Peg." Short for Peg-leg. Peg was a good layer, even with only one leg. Mama cut the bad leg off with an axe. It was black and oozy, but Geraldine didn't want to throw it away. She wanted to fix it, and put it right back on the hen. She remembers searching the weeds for it and finally agreeing on a burial with flowers.

Ethel cuts out pictures of babies. Babies, and little girls. Girls with braids, brown hair, blue eyes. She puts them all inside the box. Buries them in beads. Blue, green and aqua. Geraldine glues beads to the outside of her box. Green and yellow, alternating.

"A tisket, a tasket, a green-and-yellow basket..." (She hums, sings, taps her foot.) "I wrote a letter to my love, and on the way I dropt it... I dropt it... I dropt it....."

When the bead string begins to look like a snake, she glues a brown plastic gemstone on for a head. Two small red beads for eyes. Then makes another. Another. Snakes intertwine and layer. She adds some rhinestones. The box begins to sparkle, like fireflies on a summer night.

"Yes, on the way I dropt it..."

Ethel plunges her hands into the gallon jars of beads. She likes the way they feel on her skin. Cool. Massaging and skin delicious. "Try this," she says to Geraldine. Beads pour from one hand to another. They flow like water. But dry and nubbly. Geraldine remembers swimming, sleeping, stretching. She remembers Ricky. (Again.)

Geraldine cuts out a frog, strokes its back with a fingertip. Drops it not in her box, but in her apron pocket. Ethel unburies the paper babies, then covers them with beads again. She pours the beads out and in on top of the babies, again and again. Geraldine paints her name in red on the bottom of her box. Ethel paints her box black. Then they trade boxes and unpack the images. Black paint sticks to Geraldine's fingers. Down through blue beads she digs to find a pile of babies and little girls in pigtails. She cradles them in her hands, humming a lullaby and crooning. She sways from side to side in her white plastic chair.

Ethel cuts out eggs to go with the chickens in her box from Geraldine. She finds an axe and puts that in too. When the counselor comes round and asks for a story, Geraldine says:

"Once upon a time there was a little girl. She laid in the bottom of the lake with water over her head. Water like a blanket, only cold. A big light came. It came down though the water and the girl thought it was an angel." Ethel says:

"We had lots of chickens and they laid lots of eggs. Brown eggs, white eggs, colored eggs. When they stopped laying eggs, we cut off their heads and ate them for dinner. Even the one whose leg I cut off. We even ate the ones we loved."

"We ate the ones we loved," Geraldine repeats, rocking the babies, whose blue beads cling to their gummy black paint.

(from a story created by Mary Taitt)

24 February 2008

"F" is for FUNNY!

Got a good "blond guy" joke? Want one? Click the title!

the trucker and the blonde

One day, while a blonde is out driving, she runs into a truck.
The truck driver makes her pull over and get out of the car.
He takes a piece of chalk and traces a circle on the pavement.
"Stand in that circle and don't move a muscle!" he growls.

Then, completely furious, he pulls a knife and slashes her tires!
The blonde sees this act of violence and starts laughing!

This makes the man really see red, so next he takes a tire iron and smashes her windshield. But the screwy blonde? she laughs even harder!

Now the trucker goes crazy! He breaks all her windows, and sets fire to the car!

But by now the blonde is laughing hysterically, out of control.

The truck driver cannot believe this woman. "What's so funny?!!" he demands.

The blonde giggles."While you weren't looking, I stepped out of the circle... three times!"

a little personal complaint

When I'm hard at work like this, I get screwy. I find it hard to concentrate. I lose all sense of time and space. People around me all seem to lose their perspective. Why can't they see I'm a hardworking son-of-a-gun? I need elbow room! Well, they aren't going to get to ME! I'm going to forge ahead, damn the torpedoes! Somebody has to take the bull by the horns, or NOTHING will get done!

Oh, it will take sacrifice, I know that. But as God is my Witness, I shall PREVAIL!

23 February 2008

"Sunset Storm at Greenfield Village"

Mary Stebbins Taitt created this picture and sent it to me today. This was interesting... today just happens to be one of those days when it fits the mood, even though the sun is shining. Days can be like that, and it's a paradox, sometimes. You want to feel good, but you have trouble doing it. Or a friend is ill and can't be consoled. You try in good heart, and yet you fail. Thank goodness for such days, though. They keep us in check. They keep us from getting the "big head". They remind us that all is not tidy and predictable. They keep us on our toes, and watchful.

"Faithful and True"

This is from a photo snapped by Gail Slaughter of California... worth repeating!

Here's the link to more pix at Silk Creek.

22 February 2008

the true definition of curiosity

Gail Slaughter sent me this picture, but we don't know who took it... she sent it because my friend and companion Smokey looks just like this intrepid warrior... and Gail was the one who helped rescue him and bring him to me... thank you, Gail, from both of us!

"Just tell it like it is..."

This is based on an actual job application that a 75 year old senior citizen submitted to Walmart:

NAME:.............. Kenneth Way (Grumpy Old Bastard)

SEX:................. Not lately, but I'm looking.

DESIRED POSITION: President or Vice President. (Seriously, whatever's available. If I was in any position to be picky, I wouldn't be applying here in the first place!)

DESIRED SALARY: $185,000 a year. But make an offer... we can haggle.

LAST POSITION HELD: Prime Target for middle management hostility.

PREVIOUS SALARY: A lot less than I'm worth.

MOST NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT: My incredible collection of stolen pens.

REASON FOR LEAVING: Was advised of more suitable opportunities elsewhere.

HOURS AVAILABLE : Anytime I'm not playing polo.

PREFERRED HOURS: 1:30-3:30 p.m on alternate Tuesdays.

DO YOU HAVE ANY SPECIAL SKILLS?: Yes, but they're better suited to a more intimate environment.

MAY WE CONTACT YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYER?: If I had one, would I be here?


DO YOU HAVE A CAR?: I think the more appropriate question here would be "Do you have a car that runs?"

ANY SPECIAL AWARDS OR RECOGNITION?: I may already be a winner of the Publisher's Clearing House Sweepstakes, so they tell me.

WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS?: Living in the Bahamas with a fabulously wealthy, dumb sexy blonde supermodel, who thinks I'm the greatest thing since sliced bread. (Actually, I'd like to be doing that now.)

NEAREST RELATIVE:............... 7 miles down route 317.

DO YOU CERTIFY THAT THE ABOVE IS TRUE AND COMPLETE: Oh yes, absolutely. In fact, ask anybody...I'm certifiable as they get!

21 February 2008

"The Train Table"

This is a picture from Andree in Vermont. When I was strolling through her blog at midnight and things were quiet, no mail coming in, no axes to grind, no phones ringing, nothing burning on the stove, no duties to do, I came across this. It took me WAY back to my childhood and my train set. My father had a table built for it, about ten inches deep, held up by pipe legs screwed into flanges underneath. It was made of plywood, and a fellow owed an oil bill he couldn't quite pay, so Dad had him build this table instead.

The table was covered over with two half-sheets of thick plywood, concealing the train and tracks and whatever inside, and this allowed its use as a ping-pong table. It got an awful lot of use...my brother became an expert on that table and could not be beaten. At festive occasions, that table was used to carry the weight of all the great potluck dinners we had with the neighbors and relatives. It bore all the Christmas presents when we moved into the basement of our uncompleted brick home, the one Mom designed.

But it held my train, too. And the tunnel I built for it: plywood and chicken wire and paper mache. And this picture brings all of that back, and more!

"Total Lunar Eclipse"

This wonderful photograph was taken by my excellent friend and colleague Mary Stebbins Taitt during the Total Lunar Eclipse of February 20-21, 2008. It is an enlargement of an original taken with a Canon EOS 30D with a 300mm telephoto lens, so she informs me. The temperature was only about 6 degrees but that was a GOOD thing...the atmosphere was clear and cold. (She was in Detroit, Michigan.)
(all reproduction rights reserved: Mary Stebbins Taitt. Used by special permission.)

"The Mars Effect"

Effects: Michael Serafin
Original photograph: Mary Stebbins Taitt.
(all rights reserved)

20 February 2008

"Detroit Skyline with Ghosts"

This is an interesting composition by Mary Stebbins Taitt of the skyline along the Detroit River, accomplished with the help of................magic! from http://imagik.blogspot.com/

19 February 2008

"One Little Wave"

As the story goes, President Bush decides to invite the Pope to visit Washington and make an address to a Joint Session of Congress. Everybody who is anybody is there. Senators, Congressmen, Supreme Court, all the wise rulers of our great Country, gathered in one great assembly. This is quite unprecendented, and is televised around the world.

Mr. Bush hasn't been doing too awful well in the polls for awhile, but this is his chance to shine, so he gets an idea. He takes His Holiness aside for a moment. "Popie," he says genially, "this is quite a shindig, ain't it?" The old Vicar merely smiles and nods politely, but George W. goes on.

"Ya know," he says, "you're a real big cheese over there at the Vatican. I seen a hunnerd thousand people come out just to see ya wavin' from that balcony thing. Must give ya thrills an' chills when they do that stuff, right?" Again His Holiness agrees. "Yes," he replies, "it is most gratifying, but one must be humble about these things. I merely represent the Church and all its tradition. It has little to do with me. I would think that with you this must also hold true."

The President guffaws. "Oh, come on, now. You don't think when people cheer me it's because they love their Gov'mint, do ya? They love me! Well, not all of 'em, we got a democracy. Half the people hate ya and the other half don't. Watch this!"

With that, the President steps out on the stage and the applause begins. The Democrats are on one side, Republicans on the other, politely clapping. The President looks back over his shoulder at the Pope. "Now watch!" he says, and waves one hand over his head as a signal. Suddenly the Republican side of the hall springs to life, whoopin' and hollerin' and carryin' on like the roof is gonna come down. The President grins at the Pope as the riot settles down. "And all with just a wave of my hand!" he brags. "Half the place goes nuts!"

His Holiness the Pope, not wanting to condone this openly blatant behavior, considers the proper reply. "Mr. President," he says quietly, "that was, indeed, very impressive. You have great command. But did you know, just one wave of my hand will make EVERY person in this crowd ecstatic with joy? And this joy will not be some momentary passing display, as we heard earlier, but will go deep in their hearts, and all the people of the world will be witness, and on through all time, they will remember this day and rejoice."

The President snorts in doubt. "One little wave of your hand. And all the people, rejoicing forever. Now that trick I gotta see!"

And so the Pope slugs him.

How to have a good day...

This is a sentiment that deserves sharing with all of you. Be good today. Do a good turn for a friend, a neighbor, the postman, the plumber, whomever you meet. Smile and say thank you. Ask about their day. Tell them about yours. Show you care. Anyone can do it, it costs nothing, and it pays you back in contentment and satisfaction.

That's how you have a good day. EVERY day.

(Illustration by Mary Stebbins Taitt: colored pencils, pastels, pen and ink. Small sketch.)

18 February 2008

" Damn Tree Drubs"

On obtain a dime, dare is tree drubs. Day as cold Hairly, Schmoe hand Cruelly. Damn is mighty fuel is fallows. Damn is sew fuel is, damn knot no rite firm rung, upped firm downed, rite firm left. Damn is tree bumps. Damn is sew dumped, damn sink dare whirled maid flapped, buy Got.

"Dew knot sale vest!" claimed Schmoe. "Yew dye den surly as yew lift!"

Butt guise vent vest, hand found anew whirled, hand Schmoe hee haddock ate dose whirreds.

"Haul a lye!" dot Hairly spewed, "day jest vent tout dew day hedge, hand claim rite black!"

(Hairly vast know bloody's fuel) "...hand den, day tolled as tails!"

Butt Cruelly spat hand taught. Hand taught. Hand taught against. Heebie sunken may bee trued. May bee sum ding how dare have dare haul. May bee sum ding press us day cud fined, brung hem black hand day bee which. Which as haul get out. Which as prances. Which as Billy Goats. Which as chock-a-block cake. Hymn begot dew maid sum plants.

Cruelly gut sum udder guise hand bilked a bowed. Ha big big bowed. Ha bowed sew big hit cussed ha jillion bucks, drub money, whist kite ha lump pa change. Hee know cared ha butt tatt. Hymn new, hit gun apply off, late her on. (Err sew hee taught.)

Song starry shirt, damn tree drubs sat oof dew leak dare porch on, dare hips hide, dare ice wide.....

....hand felt oft dare wedge oft dare whirled.

(Morale oft dare tail hissed: after haul has sate hand dumb, ha drub's ha drub ha drub.)

"The Angry Whiteman"

This is a "write-on" piece by Gary Hubbell in the Aspen Times Weekly, sent in by Gail Slaughter in California:

February 9, 2008

"There is a great amount of interest in this year’s presidential elections, as everybody seems to recognize that our next president has to be a lot better than George Bush. The Democrats are riding high with two groundbreaking candidates — a woman and an African-American — while the conservative Republicans are in a quandary about their party’s nod to a quasi-liberal maverick, John McCain.

"Each candidate is carefully pandering to a smorgasbord of special-interest groups, ranging from gay, lesbian and transgender people to children of illegal immigrants to working mothers to evangelical Christians.

"There is one group no one has recognized, and it is the group that will decide the election: the Angry White Man.

"The Angry White Man comes from all economic backgrounds, from dirt-poor to filthy rich. He represents all geographic areas in America, from urban sophisticate to rural redneck, deep South to mountain West, left Coast to Eastern Seaboard.

"His common traits are that he isn’t looking for anything from anyone — just the promise to be able to make his own way on a level playing field. In many cases, he is an independent businessman and employs several people. He pays more than his share of taxes and works hard.

"The victimhood syndrome buzzwords — 'disenfranchised,' 'marginalized' and 'voiceless' — don’t resonate with him. 'Press "one" for English' is a curseword to him. He’s used to picking up the tab, whether it’s the company Christmas party, three sets of braces, three college educations or a beautiful wedding.

"He believes the Constitution is to be interpreted literally, not as a 'living document' open to the whims and vagaries of a panel of judges who have never worked an honest day in their lives. The Angry White Man owns firearms, and he’s willing to pick up a gun to defend his home and his country. He is willing to lay down his life to defend the freedom and safety of others, and the thought of killing someone who needs killing really doesn’t bother him.

"The Angry White Man is not a metrosexual, a homosexual or a victim. Nobody like him drowned in Hurricane Katrina — he got his people together and got the hell out, then went back in to rescue those too helpless and stupid to help themselves, often as a police officer, a National Guard soldier or a volunteer firefighter. His last name and religion don’t matter. His background might be Italian, English, Polish, German, Slavic, Irish, or Russian, and he might have Cherokee, Mexican, or Puerto Rican mixed in, but he considers himself a white American.

"He’s a man’s man, the kind of guy who likes to play poker, watch football, hunt white-tailed deer, call turkeys, play golf, spend a few bucks at a strip club once in a blue moon, change his own oil and build things. He coaches baseball, soccer and football teams and doesn’t ask for a penny. He’s the kind of guy who can put an addition on his house with a couple of friends, drill an oil well, weld a new bumper for his truck, design a factory and publish books. He can fill a train with 100,000 tons of coal and get it to the power plant on time so that you keep the lights on and never know what it took to flip that light switch.

"Women either love him or hate him, but they know he’s a man, not a dishrag. If they’re looking for someone to walk all over, they’ve got the wrong guy. He stands up straight, opens doors for women and says 'Yes, sir' and 'No, ma’am.'

"He might be a Republican and he might be a Democrat; he might be a Libertarian or a Green. He knows that his wife is more emotional than rational, and he guides the family in a rational manner. He’s not a racist, but he is annoyed and disappointed when people of certain backgrounds exhibit behavior that typifies the worst stereotypes of their race. He’s willing to give everybody a fair chance if they work hard, play by the rules and learn English.

"Most important, the Angry White Man is p.....d off. When his job site becomes flooded with illegal workers who don’t pay taxes and his wages drop like a stone, he gets righteously angry. When his job gets shipped overseas, and he has to speak to some incomprehensible idiot in India for tech support, he simmers. When Al Sharpton comes on TV, leading some rally for reparations for slavery or some such nonsense, he bites his tongue and he remembers. When a child gets charged with carrying a concealed weapon for mistakenly bringing a penknife to school, he takes note of who the local idiots are in education and law enforcement.

"There are many millions of Angry White Men....."


Gary says that these Angry White Men will decide the election.

What do YOU think?.............................????

17 February 2008

"The Road to Happiness at Henry Ford"

We went to the Henry Ford Museum today and I was quite taken by the display of "The Road to Happiness"... here is a photo..............

16 February 2008

Remembering NIU

Yesterday, I finally heard about the tragedy that struck at Northern Illinois university on Thursday. I felt a twinge of sadness as I listened to the news, as I remember well my visits there as a teen.

The North Central Association of Schools for the blind had its regional track meets at NIU each year. I don't know if it was because there was more room or what. I do know that it was an interesting time had by all, as we spent time with some of the college students. By the time I was going to the meets, the teams were not staying on campus in the sororities or fraternities. But, I remember some of the girls who had gone in past years talking about the experience of sleeping over there and spending time with the college girls. To me, that was a taste of the real world for them, which I think would have been good for some in my class to maybe think about continuing on in their studies.
I'm not sure whether it was Wisconsin that provided the guide wires for the blind students to run around the track there. But, I think it was. (Actually, we didn't run around the track with the wires. We ran the seventy-five yard dash, the 600 meeter and the 1200 meeter using those wires, and when we did run around the track, we ran with a partially sighted student leading us as we held on to their elbow.)
I remember thinking how secure I felt whenever we were on NIU's campus, and how insecure I felt in the hotel my second year on the track team. I remember meeting two students from the Philippines who toured us around the campus. I remember it being so cold that particular meet on Friday, we all would go to the bus to stay warm after we had run. In addition to running, I was our team's long jumper, and I did it barefoot. I remember that was the meet where I froze my toes off. I also did the three consecutive long jump and the hop step jump, (the latter of which I hated).

I remember thinking that a college anywhere was a great place to be, and I remember feeling sad as I listened yesterday, knowing that some students lives were snuffed out, before they could even continue. My prayers are with those families.

15 February 2008

"2 Tree Mandalas---the Dance of Winter"

2 Tree Mandalas, the Dance of Winter, by Mary Stebbins Taitt.

(Explorations on the theme of "What is art?")

(Or--single easter eggs?)

"River's Bend"

I told our friend Gail in California that this picture reminded me of my first Boy Scout canoeing adventure on the Rifle River in Michigan... cold oatmeal, chiggers, wet blankets, and a ton o' fun!

An Old Georgia Barn

This one I really love... it's a picture by Dot, from "Strolling Through Georgia", a blog you can link to from "Everything in Particular" if you head that way, or simply by using a pogostick:


14 February 2008

Some Things Never Change

....... Gail Slaughter sent this in... good ol' Grannie's never fooled!
(Click picture to view larger)

"The Prom"

How Geraldine and Ricky Become the King and Queen of Russia

Kiki holds a mirror in front of Geraldine, turning it from side to side, so that Geraldine can see the tiara twinkling, sparkling in the stage lights: fireflies caught in her own hair, caught in a net of crown...

Music swells: "Dr. Zhivago". The kids cheer, and Ricky, with his crown askew, holds her hand so tight the tips of her fingers turn white. Ricky smiles and smiles and smiles. Kids waltz all around them, turning, twirling. Fireflies dance across the floor, turn into stars, and swim across the ceiling. Geraldine touches the red rose and the velvet trim on her dress with the tip of a finger, again and again, first one and then the other, grinning. The petals embrace. They hug and hold each other like her Babushka dolls... like she would like to hug and hold Ricky: close, and tight. The rose is candy... chocolate,maybe... rich and sweet. The rose is the purse of Ricky's lips, so close to her ear, whispering.

Ricky rises from his rhinestone throne and tugs on Geraldine's hand. He steps from the small stage to the gym floor and helps her down. Almost shy in a circle of friends, they turn to each other, and stare. Ricky moves against her; Geraldine moves against him. They sway to the music together. Dancing isn't hard, it's easy... it feels like water... like a warm river... like honey... like heartbeats... like breathing... like Magic.

Geraldine lays her head on Ricky's shoulder, basks in the circle of his arms. Geraldine breathes Ricky and the smell of Ricky. Everywhere their bodies touch she feels a burning. Their skin flickers like fire. Now they are thunder and lighting. Now they are melted butter in a patch of sunlight.

As they dance between the cafetorium curtains, the paper Kremlin trembles and a tree comes loose, but no one notices. Geraldine remembers a heron gobbling a frog, then forgets again as they kiss. In a pile of backdrops, they taste the salt sea and ocean breezes. As they dance yet closer, and closer still, she sings a quiet little song.

(An excerpt from a new work by Mary Stebbins Taitt)

Happy Valentine's Day!


I hope you have a wonderful, happy, healthy, loving day! Mary

12 February 2008

"Andree's Home in Barton, Vermont"

This beautiful picture was sent to me by my friend Andree. She told me the water to the left in the shot consists of beaver ponds. Just look at that sky! What a place to be! Well, maybe not in winter...she tells me the snow near Barton's Mountain comes a full foot at a time!
(Picture credit: http://www.aaronkotowski.com/Artist.asp?ArtistID=9937&Akey=G4YBGL8X)

"World War Final"


People who know me know I love lighthouses... the older the better... but this picture almost looks like it could have been painted on a cave wall! Actually my good friend Mary Stebbins Taitt sent me a beautiful work she did of the Lighthouse in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and I did this detail from it in Picasa, just for fun.
(See http://nerdshot.blogspot.com/2008/02/grosse-pointe-lighthouse.html for the original)

"Jungle Fortress 104"

In this Picasa Experiment a small detail from Mary Stebbins Taitt's Lighthouse underwent a transformation in its digital state, with the result you see here.

11 February 2008

"Grosse Pointe Lighthouse"

This creative work by Mary Stebbins Taitt is a digital collage assembled from four separate elements (and a lot of careful computer work) to obtain what you see here. You can learn more about the work and how it was done (and about Mary herself) by clicking on the title of this posting.

The Grosse Pointe Light, Digital Smudge Painting

The top picture is the finished (or nearly finished) digital smudge painting.

The next four pictures are 4 photos I took to assemble the collage from which I made the painting.

The last picture is a detail of my working. It takes me a long, long time to do these. Rarely can I do one in a week--it often takes a month to six weeks. I literally paint over every stroke (often more than once with many shades and hues). Some people are much faster at it. I am very slow.

(I also worked on the sky picture BEFORE you see it here. It was just grey.) The lighthouse picture I used as a starter was from wall paper. (Top one for monthly challenge).

I have exhibited my work in shows for digital artwork on several occasions, but there are people who say that this is not art! I get confused, myself.

But a photograph can be art and a collage can be art, so why not a digitally painted collage? What is art? American Heritage defines "art" as:

"The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty; specifically, the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium."

I envisioned this , arranged it, and created it, from images I made for the purpose, and I declare it to be Art! (Click images to view larger.)

Warning Thought for the Day

"Propaganda needs only a small morsel of "truth" to flourish in a field of ignorance."

........................Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Information, 1939

Happy Valentine's Day!

Mary sent me this today. I thought I'd share it with you.

Hope you have a happy day! (Click image to view larger).

"Senufo at the DIA"

Mary Stebbins Taitt sent in this report of a visit to the Detroit Institute of Arts (one of her favorite places): "It was very cold and windy, the sidewalks were icy, and there was blowing snow, so we walked in the DIA and looked around. I participated in a workshop on Senufo, an African artform. I joined near the end, so didn't have as much time as the others to learn about it, but I had fun anyway." Mary sent in this picture to show us.

More Barns, from Michigan

Old Barns! Not-so-old-Barns! I don't care, I love all of 'em! Once found everywhere in rural America, many have passed into memory and history, and many have fortunately been preserved. Some survive without any assistance, somehow, because they were built to last for a hundred years and longer. Both sets of my Grandparents were farmers with barns, and I played in such wonderful places when I was a young'un.
(These pictures were taken by Mary Stebbins Taitt)

"Leeds Castle"

Any "boot" who trained at the Army Engineer's School will find this picture familiar. This is Leeds Castle in England, and a stylized version was officially adopted by the Army in 1902 as the symbol of the Engineers. I trained at Fort Belvoir in Virginia in 1984.
(Photo: Google Earth)

10 February 2008

TO live in our world

Is it really bad to be blind? Can you really not see what is happening around you?

When asked to contribute to this blog, I found myself wondering if maybe I really could contribute to the idea the originator of the blog had in mind, and all I could think was okay, I'd give it a try. But, for anyone to say that our world is unseen but not unfelt really is not looking at the whole picture closely.

Unseen but not unfelt. What does that mean to me?

To me, seeing is living! Certainly having sight brings about the physical aspect of seeing. But, those of us who are blind, picture so much in our minds, to say we don't see is wrong.
When I dream, I tend to hear, feel and imagine I'm right there. I don't need to see to experience my dreams.

When I climb a sand dune, I feel the strength building up in my legs. I feel the sun beating down on me. I hear the birds in the trees close to the sides of the dune. I smell the damp air. I can picture all of that in my mind, just from those experiences I've had. Thus, in my own way, I can see.

When I'm on Lake Michigan or the ocean in a boat, I can feel the boat swaying in the waves. If it's a motorboat, I can smell the fuel. (Not always a pleasant odor, I might add. I can feel the spray in my face. I can hear seagulls over the roar of the motor. If it's a sailboat, I can listen to the quiet and feel the sun, even feel what way the wind is coming from.

I remember one sunny day, my father and I were sailing from South Manitou Island to Leland onLake Michigan, a trip that is seventteen miles long. We got becalmed and after two hours of hearing the stays clanging against the mast, my father mumbled and cursed and said we were turning around. I told him to wait a second. He then started to curse at me. That's when the wind took hold of our sails.

When I'm in a blizzard, I can hear the wind. I can feel the snow if I'm outside. If I'm inside and it's quiet, I can hear it falling. I can picture that experience in my mind.

When it's a beautiful summer day, it doesn't matter what I'm doing. I can still experience it in all its beauty. I can picture such days in my mind.

I remember telling one friend of mine that I didn't envy him his sight on his blog, as he had written about the journey of losing his sight and what it means. I don't. I don't envy anyone their physical vision, because I know God gave it to them. But, try to realize, while not physical, he did give me vision of another kind. So, to me, I can still see. It's just a different experience from most of you.

09 February 2008

"Skywatch Friday Moonrise"

This beautiful photograph is here by the kind permission of Willard Hill of Pennsylvania. Willard is an accomplished wildlife videographer and digital still photographer who specializes in elk and deer, but also captures other wonderful things. Willard said: "This is a sort of a different take on the sky watch logo with this photograph being taken shortly before sunset, yet the moon was plainly visible."
This shot was posted on January 24, 2008 on Willard's blog http://pawildlifephotographer.blogspot.com/

"The Inner Beast"

If you look closely, you'll see the artist as she sees herself (at least sometimes!)
Original art by Mary Stebbins Taitt.

"Polar Coordinates Terrarium"

This beautiful image was created by Mary Stebbins Taitt with Photoshop CS.

"Approaching Storm 840"

This is an image created in Photoshop CS and colorized and cropped with Picasa.
The original was by Mary Stebbins Taitt.
This is a detail generated by Mike Serafin.

"Astrolabe 1210"

An astrolabe was an elaborate three-dimensional apparatus used since ancient times to help chart the course of the stars and planets.
This vision was derived from a work by Mary Stebbins Taitt, and was processed on Picasa.
The finished original, "Equisetum Globe" can be viewed on Mary's blog http://imagik.blogspot.com/

"Herd Any Good Jokes Lately?"

Well, if you are in the business of "herding" or "hoarding" jokes, we want to hear from you. Have you visited a site that really cracks some great one-liners? Any howling good stories to share? Did your evil Uncle Abe fall down and break his hip? Let the rest of us in on it!

To start the ball rolling, visit http://jenschronicles.blogspot.com/ and laugh your petootie off with jokes collected "Down Under" by Jeanette. Then come back and tell us how it made your day!

08 February 2008

What is that?

Post your guesses in the comment section and then click here for the answer.

For Photo Friday.

07 February 2008

"Caught in the Act"

Our friend Gail in California gets to see a lot of wildlife, and often captures the unusual in pictures. No, this is not a squirrel, friends, but Br'er Rat! We grow up believing these rodents are awful, but does this little guy look evil to you? Of course not! He's just a fellow traveler in our world.

Detail of original photo by: Gail Slaughter

"Greetings from Norway"

This is Petunia, who came to visit EinP from Bergen, Norway. With Petunia is her dog Jolle, who was named after a character in a comic strip we know well in this country, "Garfield". In Norway, Garfield's friend Odie goes by the name Jolle. Petunia has several blogs of her own, and I found this picture at one of them: http://petuniablogg.blogspot.com/
When I spoke with Petunia she also wanted to give mention of her cats Silver and Todd!
Thanks, Petunia... good health, long life, and peace to you!

"Greetings from Norway"

06 February 2008

ABC Wednesdays, C is for Caterpillar

ABC Wednesdays, C is for Caterpillar, art by Mary Stebbins Taitt.

For a little midwinter fun break.

This is one of my cartoons which I did using an overlapping technique
I'd like to play with some more, sometime, if I ever have time.