7 Last Words of Christ
Today begins the Holy Triduum… Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Of the seven last words of Christ, the two that speak to me most are, "I Thirst" and "Behold Your Mother".
"I thirst." Jesus wasn't asking for something to drink by any means. Jesus was thirsting for our souls. He was asking for me. Longing for me. Wanting me to choose Him over sin. He was calling me home to His Kingdom.
"Woman behold your Son…Son behold your Mother." Jesus wasn't asking John to take care of the physical needs of His Mother, nor was He asking His Mother to look after John. One can be sure He already made arrangements for His Mother's well-being and John's mission was at hand. On the Cross, Jesus was giving His Mother to all God's children. Jesus gave his Mother, The Most Blessed Mother, Our Heavenly Mother, to me. Mary intervenes for me. She prays for me. She guides me on the path to the Kingdom of God.
Have a most fruitful Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and enjoy the Joy of the Easter Season. God Bless.
I look back on my life and I seem to remember it in flashes. I remember a given moment but I don't remember what happened before or after that moment. Mom and Dad took lots of photographs and Super 8 movies of us as kids. So, perhaps I am remembering the images not the real events.
Easter Flashes –
Giving up something for Lent.
The Way of the Cross on Fridays.
Getting Palm on Palm Sunday.
Mom exchanging the old Palm for new behind all the Crucifix in the house.
Mom burning the old Palm and letting it blow away in the wind
A week off from school - Easter Vacation.
Holy Week Services - Washing of the Feet and Adoration of the Cross.
Mom planting her flower and tomato plants on Good Friday. For "Good Luck" she said.
Dying eggs on Holy Saturday.
The smell of vinegar and watching the dye tablets fizz into bright colors.
The purple dye never worked. Even with food coloring, purple eggs never looked right.
Names magically appearing on some eggs thanks to Mom and the white wax crayon found in the box of dye.
Mom always, always told how she dyed eggs as a child, that is with orange and blue crepe paper from her dad's office… Gulf Refining Co.
Waking up Easter morning to find three baskets wrapped in colorful cellophane.
Dressing alike in new dresses for Easter Mass.
Mass being very full and long if Bishop Greco said Mass.
Ham, always a ham, topped with pineapple and maraschino cherries.
Finding eggs hidden by the easter bunny in the backyard except for one Easter when it rained and he hid the eggs in the house.
Playing with the plastic eggs. Miss-matching the colors halves. Pink with purple was my favorite.
Dad hiding the eggs again and again and again…
There was always an egg or two hidden in the clothes line pole too tall for us to reach.
Eating the ears off the chocolate bunny first.
Dad taking 2 boiled eggs to his buddies at work on Monday.
Creamed eggs over toast the week after Easter.
Mom complaining for weeks about the Easter grass she kept finding when she swept the floor.
Images (flashes) below I made from the Super 8 movies my Parents took of myself and my two Sisters at Easter over the years.
Have a Happy and A Most Blessed Easter.
I have been thinking of my Mom a lot lately. This is her First Communion photo. The Prayer book and Rosary she holds I have in my prayer corner. I owe my faith to Mom and Dad. They raised me Catholic. They made sure I was at Mass every Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation. I have fond memories of going to the Holy Week services durning our Easter vacation, which for us was the week before Easter. I loved every second of it. To walk the passion of Christ durning Holy Week is an incredible gift and one I thank Mom & Dad for every day.
I know I didn't truly appreciate this gift when they were still living. As a kid I was the only Catholic kid in my class and worked to hide it as Catholics were teased by the Baptist kids that dominated the class. I didn't know how to respond to the teasing so I just kept quiet. At school, back in the day, once a year someone would pass out tiny Gideon Bibles, in the parking lot after school. One year, I was so proud of the gift I had received that I brought it to Mass the following Sunday with the intent of following the Readings in the tiny bible. The lengthly Readings of the day were not in the Bible and I questioned my Father why after church. He explained the obvious, that the Bible was too small and also that it was a Protestant Bible.
That opened the door for me to ask the question… why are we Catholic? His answer has stuck with me always. "Your Mom and I raised you Catholic because the Catholic Church was created by Jesus Himself. All other religions are a watered down version of the Catholic faith. Other dominations kept parts they liked and discarded the rest. The Catholic Faith is the True Church created by Jesus." I was most proud of that answer. For the first time ever, I realized how special the Catholic Church was. I no longer wanted to switch to the Baptist Church even though the First Baptist Church where most of my classmates attended, had a skating rink. At that point I had never been to a Protestant Church so I didn't realize the stark difference which was much greater than a skating rink.
Even without Dad's pep talk that day, I know that if I would have gone to a service in another domination that I would have gone running back home… God's House, the Catholic Church. Nothing can compare to the beauty and silence of the Church. Father Chad said one Sunday that all Catholic Churches have shadows. Shadows where you can be alone with God. Other Churches just don't have that space where you can drop to your Knees in prayer and truly converse with God. Shadows are but one of the many beauties of the Catholic Faith that draw me home day after day. I so look forward to the beauty of Holy Week that begins with Palm Sunday in just three days.
Thanks Mom and Dad.
The readings today referenced idols…
“Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,
whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,
flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,
and all the other musical instruments;
otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;
And who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?””
What is an idol? Webster says it’s a false god.
What about worship? Webster says: devotion (earnest attachment) to an object of esteem (worth or value).
So, who or what is your idol? And don’t say you don’t have one till you think about it for a moment. What occupies most of your time in a given day. Today, for most people, I think it is the same. When I am in public, I look around and see this idol everywhere. It is small enough to fit in one’s hands. It isn’t that expensive but considering all it does, it is of great value. When people hear its sound they instantly stop, dare I say to “worship” it. I am, of course, referencing the smartphone.
Yes, the smart phone and other electronic devices like tablets or laptops can offer good but for the most part I believe they are simple idols. In the evenings I use my tablet in prayer and that’s a good thing, but that same device can and does distract me from God and God’s children.
It is a very scary trend. People panic when their battery life begins to drop. They spend hours gossiping or reading gossip on Facebook all the while having no social contact with their own family. An alarmingly high percentage of people text family members in their own home. I recently read where recreational drug use was in decline as people were too occupied with their smartphones. Getting high, if you will, from social media and texting. They panic if they don’t have their “fix” every few minutes. It is the new drug. I’ve seen it and it isn't pretty. Call it an addiction if you will but I think it is idol worship.
I get very defensive when people say Catholics worship idols. They believe that somehow the statues, stained glass windows and other images of the Saints, Jesus, His Mother or God himself are idols. They believe we worship them and not God himself. What I hear most often is that: “Catholics worship Mary”. Sadly, instead of seeking the truth, they simply believe the lies of others that will only hurt themselves in the end.
The truth from a devoted Catholic is this…
Images of God, Jesus, Mary and the Saints bring us closer to God and stronger in our faith. When you walk into my house you know I am Catholic. You see that I love my God, His Mother and the Saints because you will see their images everywhere. Have you ever walked into someone’s house and seen Mickey Mouse or the pop star of the day on everywhere or LSU’s purple and gold dripping from the walls? I have, and I wonder if they even have a love for God at all or do they worship pop culture or some sports team more their creator.
And as far as… “Catholics worship Mary” goes, this is my take. God chose Mary to bring Jesus to us. We too can choose Mary to bring ourselves to Jesus. She is our Heavenly Mother that will walk with us on the journey to know and love her Son better. Take some time to get to know her and your life will forever change for the better. Trust me. She is waiting for you to bring you to Her Son.
So instead of reaching for that smartphone consider reaching for God. The smartphone is not your salvation, God is. And if you don't think enough about Him in your day, consider putting His image within view to remind you of Him.
Read Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95 to hear the rest of the story…
April 2017 Calendar Page
The Priest at morning Mass last week related a story that happened in the Jr High CCD class the night before. One student had brought a friend alone who had doubts about God. The teacher ask the students how they could help this boy learn to know God. One student replied, “Let me tell you what God has done for me.” Ever since I left Mass I have been pondering that very question.
What has God done for me? I have family, friends, a roof over my head, a good job, health, food to eat, clothes to wear, transportation and a cat to keep me company. But, lots of people that don’t have God in their lives have those things too. So, I dug deeper. Am I blessed? To answer yes, would mean others are not blessed. Yes, God gifted me with many talents to witch I am most thankful but it was my parents that worked hard so I could get an education and with that education and lots of hard work on my behalf that I am where I am today. The saying… "The talents you have are a gift from God and what you do with those talents is your gift back to God"… I believe to be true. That said, hasn’t God “Blessed” us all equally in some way. Personal choice and Life circumstances come into play of course. I experienced that yesterday. Bad storms pushed through the state. Lives were lost and property was destroyed. One house or business was hit, the next not. Why? Were some blessed and others not? Was it an act of God or simply luck? I don’t have an answer. Only God knows, but I think what it comes down to is this… If everything was taken from you, like Job in the Bible… your home, job, car, your money, your health, friends and family… what would you have left? If you answered God then you know the answer to the question, “What has God done for me.”
When I was a kid, I always had a deep faith that my Dad would protect me from all harm. On occasions when that was put to the test and it seemed there was no way Dad could be the hero, he always found a way to keep me safe. Dad is gone now but I still have faith.
Faith, is my answer. Regardless of the situation, I have a deep heartfelt faith that God is there and He will always be there for me. The winds were blowing, the hail falling and the waters rising but I knew that God was there. Was I scared? Yes, of course. I took measures to protect myself and was reaching out to others to make sure they were safe as well. But inspirt of that fear, I was also able to drop to my knees and pray for I knew God was there. That is what God has done for me.
God has given me Faith. Other things too, of course. I thank God and my parents rising me Catholic. I believe God has saved me from two potentially life altering health issues. I believe my artistic talent is a God given gift and I thank God that I can use that talent to benefit others. God has protected me from many tornados, like the one yesterday, hurricanes, car accidents and so forth. The list is endless… but my Faith is the greatest gift of all.
For when all seems to be lost, I know it isn’t. Because I believe, God that will always be there.
In the evening come tears, but with dawn cries of joy.
Black & White Shoot
A few more oldies. These were taken at the Masonic Children's Home back in 2011. Check out my Photo Journey if you want to read the story behind these images.
I haven't posted in a while due to lack of free time to be creative but I have a moment so I am posting a few from the past. Enjoy
Something to ponder in your heart today…
Vatican City, Mar 5, 2017 / 05:22 am.- On the first Sunday of Lent, Pope Francis said if we want to fight against the temptation of sin, we must be familiar with the Word of God – treating the Bible more like how we treat our cellphone.
“Someone said: what would happen if we treated the Bible like we treat our cell phone? If we always carried it with us; or at least the small pocket-sized Gospel, what would happen?”
“In effect, if we had the Word of God always in our heart, no temptation could turn us away from God and no obstacle could deflect us from the path of goodness,” he stressed. We would know how “to win” against the daily temptations within and around us.
Let us ask the Virgin Mary, “the perfect icon of obedience to God and of unconditional trust to his will,” to help us during this Lent to listen to the Word of God in the Bible and “to make a real change of heart,” he concluded.
“And, please, do not forget – do not forget! – What would happen if we treated the Bible like we treat our cellphone.
Think about this. The Bible always with us, close to us!” Pope Francis
Welcome March with a bit of Flannery O'Connor…
The past few mornings I have been woke to the birds outside my window. A nice sound to wake up to. I feel blessed to live where I can hear the birds. Spring is on its way. I created these birds two years ago. Worth revisiting… I think.
I stuck with the sewing card theme here. I dug thru my button jar and pulled out all the buttons in the red family. I used last of my red embroidery thread. I like the progress. I also used an old piece of wood I found at an antique shop, a vintage photograph, an art piece I created couple of years back, some hardware, and a large pair of rusty shears. It is a wall piece and I will post the finally when it's complete. Enjoy…
Assemblage Piece Complete
I used inspiration from sewing cards to complete Charlie. Back in the 60s my sisters and I spent hours sewing… sewing cards. I guess the intent of the manufacture of the cards was to teach little girls how to sew. Perhaps that was my Mom's intent as well when she bought the cards. I remember spending hours sewing around the pictures with the provided cord. The ends of the cord were like shoe laces so no needle was necessary. I eventually switched to fabric …. o' the horrors of Home Ed. I was the worse in class. My poor sewing skills were not the fault of Mom. She tried very hard and I wanted to learn but since I was left handed and she was right it just didn't take. I would still like to learn someday. I have Mom's sewing machine. Maybe I can teach myself. Anyhow, since I was far better at the sewing cards, I used that skill I acquired many years ago to finish Charle. It is a fun piece and I enjoyed working on it. I chose red and yellow thread to match the pin on Charlie's hat. Charlie welcomes people into my dining room. Enjoy…
Tis the season...
Friday I went to Lafayette for the purpose to going to Crossroads to obtain a book to read durning the upcoming Lenten season. Yes, it is Mardi Gras season. An extra long Mardi Gras season, I might add, but I was still hopeful that since it was a week and a half before the actual Mardi Gras day, my journey would be unaffected. I was wrong. I immediately regretted my decision for the trip when I got to Johnston Street. The metal barricades erected to protect parade watchers were in place and took up two lanes of the four lane street. Tree cutters were busy at work cutting low hanging branches that could hit the tallest of the floats. At one point I was detoured by the Cajun Dome into a mass of school busses, kids and parents that had converged on the dome for some such event that I never determined and traffic came to a stop. My patients did kicked in and I resolved to just deal with the mess and eventually I reached my destination.
I spent an hour or so at Crossroads. I didn’t buy the book I was going for. Nothing jumped off the shelf and said this is the book you are to read. Later in the day at Barns & Noble, the book found me. In Crossroads, another shopper reached in front of me for a copy of the book, “Our Lady of Kibeho” by Immaculee Ilibagiza of Rwanda. She seemed most excited to find it and after she left I took a copy of it off the shelf to read the cover. My goal of last Lent was to get to know Mary better. This Lent I chose Jesus so after browsing the book, I returned it to the shelf. At Barns & Noble my eyes fell on another book that had been next to Our Lady of Kibeho at Crossroads. I had totally ignored it before but this time It caught my eye. The book cover sounded wonderful but I decided to keep looking but when I went to put it back on the self only I could not see where I had taken it from. At that point I felt the decision had been made. This book was the one God had chosen for me. The Boy Who Met Jesus: Segatashya of Kebeho was my purchase. It is also written by Immaculee Ilibagiza. I was most excited about my purchase and couldn’t wait to get home to start reading. Yes, I know Lent hasn’t started yet but I couldn’t wait. I began reading in small doses giving me time to reflect and meditate on Immaculee’s words. She is a truly gifted writer, clearly chosen by God to write about the apparitions of Jesus and Mary in the 1980s and the horrors of the genocide in the 1990s that occurred in Rewanda. I am pretty sure, this isn’t the first book of her’s I will read.
I would be happy if Mardi Gras just went away. I have been to a few parades. I guess this is a given if you live in Louisiana but standing on a street corner, among a bunch of drunks, begging for plastic beads is just not my thing. I also know our modern day Mardi Gras isn’t what the Church meant when the used the term many years ago. The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday named “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras was intended as a day to clean out the cupboards before Lent. Lent is the 40 days before Holy Week, a gift given by the Church, a time of prayer, fasting, self-denial and almsgiving.
I tire of people asking, “What are you giving up for Lent?”. Every Ash Wednesday the Gospel is the same. Mathew 6, 1-6, 16-18. Jesus clearly states that any Lenten sacrifices should be between yourself and God so my answer is just that. However, as in years past, the goal of my 40 day journey is to bring me closer to God not just for 40 days but for life. Segatashya is my starting point this year.
Signs of spring are popping out all over the place. Easter will be here before we know it. Mardi Gras will be gone soon enough but as for me, I’ll taking the detour straight to Lent.
Today is the feast day of Saint Blaise. I find it a bit ironic that my father died of Esophageal Cancer one day before this day in 2003. According to Wikipedia… "Saint Blase was the bishop of Sebaste in Armenia during the fourth century. Very little is known about his life. According to various accounts he was a physician before becoming a bishop. His cult spread throughout the entire Church in the Middle Ages because he was reputed to have miraculously cured a little boy who nearly died because of a fishbone in his throat. From the eighth century he has been invoked on behalf of the sick, especially those afflicted with illnesses of the throat.”
For as long as I can remember, I have stood in line following the Mass to have my throat blessed. Two blessed white candles in the form of a cross are placed around my neck and the blessing given… "Through the intercession of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every disease of the throat and from every other illness: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
My Father too had this blessing year after year. Yes, Dad is gone now but I believe he was blessed with a long life and good health until the end. He grew up in the house on my January 2017 calendar page. Flannery O'Connor words say …"Where we think we are going to never was there"…. and the Bible says… “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” I like to think Mom and Dad are some place of such grace and beauty that we can't even imagine. I pray they are both in God's arms on this day.
Have a most blessed weekend.
P.S. I just read where Pope Francis accepted Bishop Ronald Herzog's retirement request yesterday. It is a sad farewell and I send many prayers for the great Bishop. Bishop David Talley has been welcomed with open arms to the Diocese. He has a warm and loving personality and speaks the same. My heart leaps with joy when he says Mass. God Bless them both.
Happy D or Happy Deer, as I have taken to calling him was a no show today. It was a bit sad as I was looking forward to seeing his happy face today. The sun was warm and the wind was blowing thru the trees and the grasses. Birds were singing everywhere. The koi fish gathered to say hello as did the turtles but no Happy D. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the peaceful stroll thru the woods. Now, it is back to reality, back to work.
Have a blessed rest of the day.
My New Best Friend
When I woke this morning, I decided I would visit my new best friend again today at lunch. After 6:30 Mass and before I went to the office, I headed to Walmart and purchased a bag of carrots. After all, it was to be a lunch date so food seemed appropriate. My Bing search confirmed my suspicion that carrots, one of my favorites, is a suitable food choice for a deer. At lunch, I headed to my spot in the woods. I parked and unloaded my camera gear and the Walmart bag of treats. Seconds later, my friend came running. Obviously he is no stranger to Walmart bags. Carrots were an excellent choice. One quick sniff of the orange carrot and he began munching away. He devoured almost the whole bag of carrots before I had to say my sad goodbye some 30 minutes later. While I was there, he had other visitors as well that brought chicken feed for him to munch on. I get the feeling that he is well fed. Even though he always seems to be eating anything green he can find, he seems to also enjoy the company of strangers and welcomes any visitors bearing food or empty handed.
It was a bit overcast but I was still pleased with some of the shots I made.
Enjoy and have a most blessed weekend.
Message, 25. January 2017
“Dear children! Today I am calling you to pray for peace: peace in human hearts, peace in the families and peace in the world. Satan is strong and wants to turn all of you against God, and to return you to everything that is human, and to destroy in the heart all feelings towards God and the things of God. You, little children, pray and fight against materialism, modernism and egoism, which the world offers to you. Little children, you decide for holiness and I, with my Son Jesus, intercede for you. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
I knew in my heart that Our Lady would be devastated with the events of this past weekend but as I read and re-read her message of yesterday, I know that She is speaking to all of us, especially me. It is easy to point fingers and think that Mary is only speaking to others but I am as guilty as the rest of…
ma·te·ri·al·ism - a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.
mod·ern·ism - a tendency in theology to accommodate traditional religious teaching to contemporary thought and especially to devalue supernatural elements.
ego·ism - the theory that one’s self is, or should be, the motivation and the goal of one’s own action. The belief that moral behavior should be directed toward one's self-interest only.
The truth hurts sometimes but as always Our Lady has the answer…"you decide for holiness and I, with my Son Jesus, intercede for you."
This message I will meditate and pray over for the weeks to come. I hope you will give it some thought as well.
Growing up I looked at some things in life as not obtainable… an expensive toy say or to live in a house on Georges Lane (a street where the rich of Alexandria lived). Looking back, it was other things as well. I wanted to go to Catholic school but I knew it wasn't an option so I never allowed myself to even dream about it. It is only now that I look back and realize that I did have a longing to go to Menard High School. Growing up, I think, I was better at putting materialism, modernism and egoism at bay. This is, of course, because of my parents. They made sure God, family and others was first. Yes, we weren't the richest family in town and some might say their actions were so us girls wouldn't look at what they weren't able to provide, a distraction say, but that wasn't it. They were simply living their Catholic faith and teaching us by their examples. By Mom and Dad putting our families Faith first and materialism second, I became who I am today. That was the greatest gift my parents every gave me… raising me Catholic.
But as Mary states, It is time, for me to re-examine my own values and not just talk and pray about the actions of others. Thank you Mary for the wake up call.
P.S. … Another wake up call… "You must take ownership of what you learned as a child". Words of Dana, Irish singer. I am listening to an interview she gave in 2012. Not a coincidence that I just heard that for sure. O boy… wow!
Shot A Deer
I went to one of my favorite spots in the forest at lunch. I could tell when I parked that it would be a fruitless journey but I slung my knapsack containing my Nikon over my shoulder anyhow. I walked thru the mostly dead foliage, hopeful that when spring and summer arrived the flowers, butterflies and birds will return. I was almost back to my car when I heard a rustling in the dead branches. I froze. Something I have become good at … rabbit? … snake? … gator?… worse ??? Much to my surprise it was a young deer. This was the closest I had been to a wild deer and I didn't dare move. I just soaked in the beauty. Moments passed and I debated wether I should try to slip the backpack off my shoulder and pull my camera out or just enjoy the moment. Obviously, I opted for the latter and when the deer didn't seem to mind me invading his linch, I began taking making his photograph. A family arrived that was searching for the deer. It turns out this deer is a local celebrity. He is especially fond of children. The deer ran to the children and they began petting him. Wow, I was amazed! I too pet the deer before I left. He was just too sweet.
This is a hunting area so, sadly, he will most likely meet with a bullet at some point. I believe this is the best way to "Shoot" a deer… yes, I get the whole thin the population thing… so, don't lecture me. I do understand that. But to shoot a photograph of a deer is a better way of sharing it with others.
A bit of nonsense after a few emotionally post.
Prayer for the Unborn
In 1973 a holocaust began in this country that still continues, 44 years later. Millions of lives have been lost in the name of “women’s rights” and “reproductive health”. Nice words, meant to justify their actions, but in reality they only hide the murderous truth of the death of the most helpless among us, the unborn. This past weekend we saw thousands march on Washington for the right to murder their own child. The words I heard felt like daggers stabbing my heart. I know you Lord, struggle to carry the weight to the cross of hate that rest on your shoulders. Mother Mary, I know your sad tears fall like rain when you hear such evil flowing from the mouths’ of your dear children. I know the both of you morn the loss of every child savagely ripped from the womb. A life that was a gift freely given by you God. The greatest gift you give to all … life.
Dear Lord, I pray that the wall of prayer that surrounded the White House on Friday be strong enough to put an end to this evil holocaust. I pray that Roe V Wade ends with this administration. I pray that the doors of Planned Parenthood will be forever closed. I pray that the eyes of ever woman will be open and that the hate in their hearts be washed clean by a river of truth. I pray… I pray…
59,741,794 and counting, Lives lost since 1973
I woke with hope. Only time will tell, but it is defiantly a day like no other. I prayed for our incoming government officials at Mass this morning and then took a few quick photographs on my way to the office. After several days of rain, it was good to see the sun streaming thru the pines. I see it as a great sign of hope on this day of uncertain change in our country. I now watch the motorcade bearing our president elect on the way to take his oath and hear the beautiful notes of Amazing Grace coming from the band awaiting his arrival. With pride I look at the American flags flanking the stage but deep in my heart I still feel a pain of anxiety and uncertainty for the hours ahead. The hate and division in this country has a shadow over this day. I pray for those who carry such heavy burdens of evil on their shoulders. I believe God has answered the prayers of the American people and good things are to come. God Bless America.
Among the Pines
This was an accidental shot, but I kind of like it…
I had thoughts of Hailsham, of Kathy H, Ruth & Tommy. Yes, I watched the movie (Never Let Me Go) again. Hailsham and the photos I took at the Masonic Children's home are forever intertwined in my mind. This window shot was taken in one of the upper bedrooms. The vintage children photos were found instant ancestors.
View more digital assemblage pieces here.
Bear your crosses in preparation…
This is an assemblage piece I am currently working on.
I am using an old tintype from my collection of vintage photographs.
Before Christmas I stopped at a yard sale on my way to work. The ladies had an old croquet set for sale. They were asking $7.50. I only had a 5 on me so I took a chance and ask if she would take 5. She agreed and I loaded my treasure into my car. I was in the process of decorating my house for the holidays so I unloaded the set and put it in my spare bedroom. After all my vintage Christmas decorations were safely tucked away for another year, I pulled out my new treasure. I opted to discard all but the balls, stakes and wire wickets as the rest was simply occupying space I didn't have to spare. So, come trash day, I hauled the remaining stand and croquet mallets to the curb. Then I set my timer to see how quickly it would disappear.
I found an old sewing drawer I wasn't using and dug out my bottle of Murphy's wood oil soap. I cleaned the box, balls and stakes and arranged them on my coffee table. Outside, I heard voices. I looked out to see a group of teens coming down the street. Without skipping a step, each one grabbed a croquet mallet as they passed in front of my house. Oh no, what did I just do? My neighbors are going to kill me! I could just see smashed mail boxes, dented trash cans, broken flower pots and who all only knows what damage awaiting my neighbors down the street. Clearly I didn't think before I acted. But, the damage was done. I couldn't chase after the kids… after all they were armed now. So, I decided instead to keep a low profile and trust that the kids wouldn't create mischief with their new found toys. I woke the next morning and the stand was gone. Thank goodness. Now I could not be tied to the confiscated mallets. Lesson learned.
So, I found this small dress from at Goodwill. I want a life size one but I bought this one anyhow and had fun playing around with it. Using wire found at a yard sale I created a from to which I added vintage photos from my stash…mostly head shots. I added branches purchased at the craft shop to finalize the skirt. The vintage doll head, old grandma glasses, hat and employee pin are from my stash of vintage odd items found about my house.
Such pointless waste of time provide an outlet from my creative energy. If I could harness that engird into more productive creations maybe my name would we known and I could quit my day job…. But, no fear, that's not happening any time soon. O… I call her Charlie. Name inspired by The Milk Carton Kids.
I created these photos back during the hot summer. I was getting creative with color and below are the results. Enjoy…
New Year's Storm
My iPad email beeped every few minutes. Severe thunder storms…flash floods…tornado warning. My goal was to capture the feel of the storm, before durning and after. The first photo I took at 10:03 AM. The sun came out at 2:56 PM. The last photo I shot at 4:14 PM. I made all photos looking out from my living room windows. I used my Nikon telephoto lens and blurred the focus for the desired effect. The desired effect being to capture the feel of the moment not so much as the actual images I saw. This isn't the first time I have shot this way. I did a whole series of B&W once from my living room windows followed by similar unfocused images. So nothing new but it has been awhile and I like the effect. I enjoyed the shoot on my last day of Christmas vacation.
I woke to discover I had slept through the New Year's celebration. This isn't unusual. I don't remember the last time I was awake at midnight to welcome the new year. It was foggy and damp and I anticipated spiderwebs at the cemetery so I grabbed my camera and headed out. I wasn't disappointed. They weren't numerous but I enjoyed the shoot. The quiet stroll between the graves was only interrupted by the Cathedral bells calling the faithful to Mass. I used my macro lens to capture the images there.
I later began shooting from my living room windows. After putting a pot of vegetable soup to cook and paying my first of the month bills, I decided to shoot again. I used my telephoto lens this time and blurred the focus for the achieved effect. Alfred Hitchcock's nPsycho, part of the TCM's New Year's day marathon kept me company and I exit this post to Hitchock's, The Birds… another wonderful classic. Enjoy and best wishes in 2017.
As we say farewell to 2016, I provide a look back with my 2016 Calendar. It was a year of reflection and uncertainty of what the future was to hold. 2017 looks to be a year of change. A new president will enter the Oval Office. ADs is growing and expanding in new directions. I've set my own goals and look forward to focusing on spiritual and physical health, fitness, photography and creativity.
One goal of mine is to post here more often. I begin with my 2017 January calendar page. For my 2017 calendar, I provided a tribute to one of my favorite authors, Flannery O'Connor. I made all the photographs in 2016.
Best wishes to all in 2017. I hope it is a positive year of change for all. May God bless and keep you all. Deidre
1. January - Windsor Ruins / Natchez Trace - Mississippi
A nameless 12 year old girl is watching the country fair in the distance from her bedroom window: She had imagined that what was inside these tents concerned medicine and she had made up her mind to be a doctor when she grew up. She had since changed and decided to be an engineer but as she looked out the window and followed the revolving searchlight as it widened and shortened and wheeled in its arc, she felt that she would have to be much more than just a doctor or an engineer. She would have to be a saint because that was the occupation that included everything you could know; and yet she knew she would never be a saint…She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick. Flannery O’Connor, The Temple of the Holy Ghost.
It has been hard getting into the Christmas Spirit this year. We lost a couple of people in the family this year and had one move into a nursing home. Another has Alzheimer's. That combined with the crazy election and its aftermath are all perhaps to blame. I knew once I had opened my first box of vintage Christmas decorations I would feel inspired and I did. I decorated about 75% and already dread having to take it down after the holidays but for now I am enjoying it. I saw a Facebook post last night of a woman saying she was canceling Christmas this year. I don't know the circumstances but I do understand how she feels. It is difficult when life throws changes at you hard and fast but in the end it is still Advent and Christmas will be here and gone before we know it so I plan to celebrate it and hope the lady on Facebook does the same. I love my vintage decorations and often wonder about the families that owned them before me. In this first shot a retro Christmas greeting and antique ornament rest in my Grandmother's iron pot. I know she cooked many a meals in it for my Mother and who knows perhaps me too when I was little. The card and the ornament are not from my family but I have fond memories of getting Christmas cards in the mail each year. We often betted on which card we would receive in the mail first. Mom would hang them on the door in the living room. I would tear the postage stamps off the envelopes for my stamp collection. I remember decorating the tree with Dad every year and sitting in the dark of night watching the colorful lights on the tree while Mom or Dad read a Christmas story to us girls. This Christmas will have its memories for me too. I hope yours are good ones and you share your Christmas memories of old with your loved ones.
May your life be a gift for others.
I took a trip back in time yesterday… or so it seemed. It was 30 years ago. I was at Tech. I was listening to a cassette tape of Stevie Wonder on my Walkman. I had a blue backpack and a large portfolio of drawings. I was walking across campus on a sunny Fall day. Only, it wasn’t the 80s… It was 2016. My audiobook was streaming from my iPod in my Focus. My backpack contained my Nikon and my portfolio was on my iPad.
The campus looked as inviting as ever and I didn’t want to leave. Lots of memories came flooding back. I didn’t have a car back in the day and Dad drove me many a times to Ruston. The highway is now 4 lanes and the commute time is about an hour and a half now. Dad would love that. My old dorm still stands but the one next door, where a student committed suicided my Senior year, is gone. New housing dots the campus that has now expanded into the town.
The post office is still in the same spot. I remembered the first letter I got. It was from Mom. She sent it before I left home so it was waiting there for me the day I arrived. She knew I would be homesick and I was. I saw many a students walking, heads down looking at their smart phones. I did the same but with letters from Mom back then.
The pool they built my Sophomore year has been demolished. Next visit, another structure will have no doubt taken its place. The fitness center has been enlarged and houses both an indoor and outdoor pool. It is beautiful. I loved that place. I ran track and learned to play Racketball there.
Hale Hall, another one of my hangouts, look refreshed, that’s because it has been. They demolished the old building and replaced it with one identical. The School of Architecture is in the space now, not art studios, but I love it all the same.
I wondered down to Hideaway Park. It is just past the football stadium. I didn’t expect it to still be there but it was and is now 1,000 times better. It now has a walking path and lake surrounding the Frisbee golf course. Today, I would all but live there. Covered tables and BBQ pits dot the landscape. It was a beautiful space.
I drove thru town. It is thriving more than ever. Some of the old haunts are still there others replaced with newer businesses but the charm of the city is still there. I miss the university and the town. It was a good four years for me. I never made it back there as I said I would. Life just got in the way but all is good.
May prayer be life to you..
I am calling you to be a chalice of the true and pure love of my Son.
The clouds have parted…
A bit of color on a sky gray but a colorful news day.
Prayers for peace… Prayers for life… God Bless America…
My election anxiety has lessened as I continue read Mirjana's book. This passage gives me hope…
Should they stock their basements with food? Move to the countryside and live off the land? Buy a weapon to protect themselves?
I tell them, "Yes, you should buy a weapon, and you should use it often." I show them my rosary. "This is the only weapon you'll ever need. But it works only if you use it."
Mirjana Soldo, My Heart Will Triumph
Regardless of what happens tomorrow, I know God will protect me. I have prayed a novena for the election the past 9 days and the rosary daily and know I have done all I can do. I will vote pro-life tomorrow and ask that you prayerfully seek God's will before you vote for your actions have consequences.
Yes, the end times are here but these hands will never touch a gun. I believe in peace not hate. I know my God will protect me by keeping me from harm or by taking me into the next life whichever He sees fit.
This assemblage piece I created last week. The building is an abandoned school in the Cane River area. A child's life is most precious. I pray for Life.
To view more visit my Assemblage Art-Digital Gallery.
I would love to hear your feedback… DMacDzigns@mac.com
It's been a peaceful weekend… as peaceful it can be at this time. I made every effort to avoid the news and any other reminder of the pending election. For weeks I have looked forward to the end of this insane presidential election but now that it is almost here, I feel a deep anxiety that I can't shake. I found Mirjana Soldo's book, My Heart Will Triumph, on Friday and spent Saturday, for the most part, lost in Mirjana's world but I had an underlining fear that her world would be mine soon.
This morning, I headed out to the woods early to escape to nature. I knew the flowers would be dying but wanted to be there anyhow. The first thing I saw to photograph was what looked like a two headed caterpillar. I couldn't tell if it was coming or going. My later Bing search identified it as a Monarch Caterpillar. This matched the Monarch butterflies I saw in the past weeks. There were two of them. As predicted, there wasn't much exciting to shoot and I returned to the caterpillars more than once.
At one point I was intently photographing one of the caterpillars with my macro lens when I heard frantic running on the gravel path behind me… fast, fast! I jumped up and turned around. The noise faded to the wind. No one was there… No person, no animals, not a deer or a man in sight. I was alone but I know something was there. I know that for sure and I think it was not of this earth. It is not the first time I have experienced this. It was strange and an experience that will stay with me for days to come.
I was not scared away. I stayed for close to two hours enjoying the solitude of the woods. My "friend" didn't return. I heard a few hunters off in the distance but otherwise I was alone with the over cast skies and the dying foliage that was praying for the heavens to drop rain on the parched soil.
This piece I created in 2014. It is an assemblage of my photography, vintage photography and other graphic elements.
To view more visit my Assemblage Art-Digital Gallery.
I would love to hear your feedback… DMacDzigns@mac.com
It was cool peaceful morning in the woods. No $155 tickets. There were a few hunters as I heard shots ring out in the distance several times and as I was leaving a couple arrived to share the space but I had a couple of hours of solitude something I was longing for today.
On my day trip to Cane River a few weeks back, I heard on the radio… "Listen for your inner silence". That's very hard to do these days. Electronic devices make sure that at all times we can be connected to the noise of the world. I know I hear my inner silence only when I have a camera in my hands or I am on my knees before Jesus.
The world of noice melts away when that camera strap goes around my neck. I embrace the solitude of God's cathedral. Even that inner voice begins to silence as the shutter clicks again and again. Mother Teresa said, "In the silence of the heart God speaks." She says, "If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you." So true.
The wind was calm when I arrived so I was able to shoot macro. As the morning progressed and the birds and butterflies began to dance, the wind picked up and I switched to telephoto. I wish for a longer range lens to capture the birds. Maybe someday, that will happen but for now I have to be happy with what I have. I enjoyed the shoot and got at least one good shot so It was successful. I found inner silence so it was doubly successful.
When was the last time you found inner silence? Do you even know how to find it? When was the last time you said. "Speak Lord, I am listening"? Do yourself a favor, especially in this last week before the election, go to that place of inner silence and really look into your soul before pulling that lever. All God's children, the born and the unborn, depend on your vote. If you vote to kill a child …you kill a child. My faith teaches me that. The Bible teaches that. Common sense tells me that to murder a child is evil and it saddens me that so many think this is of little consequence. In the end we will all suffer, not just the unborn, if this hate is allowed to continue. Please pray before you vote.
Enjoy the photos. Here are more… Recent Works. Have a most blessed week.
“Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love but to use violence to get what they want.”
― Mother Teresa, The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living
“I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is 'Abortion', because it is a war against the child... A direct killing of the innocent child, 'Murder' by the mother herself... And if we can accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love... And we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts...”
― Mother Teresa
Woods Walking Part II
I was determined to finish what I started yesterday. I woke to fog and overcast skies but the Weather Channel App said it would clear so I grabbed my camera and headed out. I was convinced it would be peaceful this morning. I made a quick stop for gas at the Chevron and cut thru Ball to my spot. Not so fast… The friendly Ball police had other ideas. I have worked at ADs for 24 years. Our office has been in Ball since 2000. For 16 years I have traveled thru the "Ball Speed Trap" uneventful. I was not speeding. In fact I was under the speed so I was a bit perplexed when the cop made a u-turn in front of ADs and pulled me over. He said my lights were not on and since it was a foggy morning that was an issue. I was totally unaware that my "AUTO" lights failed to turn on and thus I was illegal. I pleaded my ignorance which was 100% true. I never noticed they hadn't kicked on but this fell on deaf ears. Yes, I was guilty but my almost tears of frustration did nothing to keep him from doing his job and he presented me with a ticket. He added with assurance that he had indicated on the ticket that I had a "positive attitude" and that should keep the price down. I thought my "positive attitude" has worked real well so far but.. I was good. I kept my mouth shut, turned my lights on and drove on. I was most thankful it was Sunday not Monday therefor I didn't have the embarrassment of my coworkers gawking out the windows of ADs.
This delay resulted in the beautiful fog lifting before I reached my destination but that was OK. The Youth Challenge kids had done their job leaving some of the yellow flowers behind so I was happy to see that. After shooting for a while I set on a bench and watched the koi fish in the pond. It was peaceful. I had only heard one gun shot. It must have resulted in a kill since I heard no more shots. The ticket was almost forgotten. When I turned back to the gardens, I was treated to a sea of butterflies. Such a beautiful sight. Worth the ticked? Time will tell on that. I did the crime so I deserved it. Lesson learned, I will now remember to check my lights on foggy morning. Life goes on. I am so blessed that one little ticket will not bring me down.
O, and another good thing, "Yard Sale" Jesus it in my house. Thanks Brandon. I hope you back doesn't hurt too much.
I woke early under protest. My body wanted to sleep. I headed to my spot in the woods but sadly after 20 minutes or so, my peaceful walk in the woods abruptly ended. I was tolerant of the gun shots in the distance of hunters even though with every crack of the gun, I knew some defenseless critter either lost his life are wish he had. I knew they would be there and that I would have to share the woods with them.
It was a bus load of teenage delinquents that invaded my world and caused me to toss my camera in the car and drive away from the beautiful yellow flowers. The kids were of the Youth Challenge Program and were there to clear cut the forest. That said, I think I faired better than the flowers…I guess they are gone now. Not to mention the deer, pigs, and squirrels that met their demise on what had promised to be a nice peaceful morning for us all.
The upside, hopefully this bus load of kids will benefit from their morning of community service. Hopefully they will leave their aggressions and anger in the woods and become productive men and women of the community upon their graduation from the program. I know of two kids that got their diplomas there and could be poster children of the program. It is a good one.
Here a few shots I managed to get. Enjoy
PS. No spiderwebs this morning. That was disappointing too.
I left the office at lunch yesterday with the intentions of treating myself to a Subway veggie sub. The plan was to get the sub and head off to one of my secluded spots for lunch. Plans varied slightly when I saw a tiny “Yard Sale” sign one driveway passed the office. Yes, I am an addict, I will admit that. My head slowly turned right and my eyes trailed up the driveway and landed on Jesus… or so I thought it was Jesus. I had no cash on me so I kept driving.
Jesus or was that a plastic Joseph from a nativity? No, I think it was Jesus but… it was probably too much money… still, it’s Jesus, I think? Regardless I have to check it out. There is an ATM by Subway. Get some cash, the sub and stop back by on the way to the spot for lunch. Good plan!
The Subway lady quickly made my “usual” and with cash in my pocket I was back on the highway in no time. I drive back to the yard sale. The driveway was long so I drove about halfway and walked the rest. Yes, It’s Jesus not a plastic Joseph. But there’s the price… o wow, $3.00… yep that is doable. A sightless voice spoke from the shadows of the carport… “Hi, how are you”.
“Fine, Nice day” I said, “I’ll take Jesus”. To be polite I shopped the tables of other offerings before I paid for Jesus. I was then given instructions. “You can pull your car up. The driveway circles thru. I’ll help you when I finish my sandwich. It's heavy.”
“O, I can get it. Thank You", I said. Uh… NO !!! Heavy was not the word… what did I just buy? Solid concrete... How am I going to get “Yard Sale” Jesus in my car much less my house? But.. I already paid for it… it's mine… I want "Yard Sale Jesus"… You want it? It will happen.
Sandwich eaten, the previous owner of “Yard Sale Jesus helped me get the heavy hunk of concrete into my trunk. I drove to my “spot” for lunch as originally planned wondering all the while how the heck I was going to get “Yard Sale" Jesus” up the steps into my house. I planned how I would repaint the faded Jesus and where its new spot would be in my eclectic house but… damm it, how the heck will I get “Yard Sale" Jesus in my house?
I woke early this morning and thought of “Yard Sale Jesus” all alone in my trunk. You, know, It wasn’t that heavy… I can do it… today is another day… I'll get dressed, I can do this. Uh… NO!!! I couldn’t even lift his head in the coffin of my trunk.
So, once again I was quickly reminded that I can’t do everything myself. It sometimes take more than one person to bring Jesus home… It takes time… slow down… help will be available this weekend. “Yard Sale" Jesus will make it home when He is good and ready.
A good lesson for us all really. Jesus comes on His time, not ours, right?
Have a most blessed weekend.
It was a quick shoot. Work called. Hopefully I can return this weekend to my spot. I hope your day is blessed.
No pictures, just thoughts today. My faith, beliefs and ideals were headline news today. The list of adjectives describing me grows. I am now a “backward, deplorable, redneck.” My first response was, “I would rather be a backward, deplorable, redneck than a forward liberal.” Yes, it’s humorous to some but in truth I’m not laughing.
My heart is saddened that so many people HATE me because I am what I am. My heart is also sad that these same people live in a world void of the graces that God offers to them. I was listening to a Priest a few nights ago that said, “We all have a season ticket. It is up to us if we choose to use it or not.” Putting the ticket in a drawer isn’t good enough for some. It goes further than that. These people, who have pinned these labels on me, go out of their way to mock my beliefs. It’s as if they think that dragging me down to their level will make their future better for them. It seems like they believe they know more than God. Wow… could that be?
They ridicule my beliefs by injecting the poison of their beliefs into society thus hurting not only themselves but others. They say I am evil for not respecting the rights of women. AKA… Killing a child is acceptable. They say I am heartless for believing that relationships should be a union between a man and a women for the purpose of procreation. AKA… premarital sex, birth control, gay marriage and switching gender is acceptable. They say I worship idol by having a statue of Mary and an image of Christ in my home but fail to realize that by it’s very definition an "IDOL" is the device they are using to type their hate… smart phone, iPad , laptops, social media, etc. Praying an hour before an image of the Crucified Christ brings one closer to Jesus. Wasting an hour before their "golden calf" bashing people, does the opposite. When they say the Catholic church is archaic in their beliefs they are only hurting themselves and others because the purpose of the Church is to bring souls to heaven. It isn’t there to make one feel good. Yes, it’s hard …VERY HARD but the reward will be oh so sweet for those who are up to the challenge.
Yes, it hurts to be called names but in truth, they can bash me all the want and call me every name in the book because I believe that I have God as my shield and in the end He will protect me from satan’s wrath. But who will protect them? It is bad enough to descend into hell on your on but bringing others alone for the ride makes the fall much faster and the landing more painful.
Pray, Pray, Pray.
I pray you are resting in the arms of our Lord.
The old house is still standing
Though the paint is cracked and dry
And there's that old oak tree I used to play on… It's good to touch the green, green grass of home.
It was calling my name…
I photographed this GMC at lunch. I was eating lunch on the banks of the Red when a gentleman drove up in this stunning truck. He began photographing it so I assumed he was putting it up for sale and needed photos for an ad. I was sure glad when I found out I was wrong. I didn't get his name but he just finished restoring this truck passed down from his grandfather. It is a labor of love & a legacy to his dad and grandfather. Both have passed but his father was able to see him restoring it. He let me photograph it too. It will be in classic car shows around the state in the weeks to come. "Go Jimmy Go"
Brief stroll thru the woods on a Friday Morning.
I made this page of inspiring creative words for the inside of an art journal I created for a gift. Worth a read…
These two are untitled but are clearly about "image" as well.
In The Works
I repurposed teabags a few weeks back… and they sit. The next step will present itself in due time of that I am sure. I am looking forward this weekend to completing one art piece I am working on. I just need to mix the epoxy and I will be done. Last Sunday I was stuck but I simply walked away and by mid week an idea presented itself. It is titled, "Image". I never stop creating. I get stuck sometimes as with my teabags but I simply move on to the next idea in my head. I have two more boxes prepped and ideas for use so I plan for a busy studio weekend.
Every person has ghost. Not necessarily bad ones just persons no longer here that pop up now and again when you least expect it. I like the concept of this piece. I may do more.
Thought we could use a bit of flora on this hot, sunny, September day.
Help Me – The anti-abortion theme has found a place in my art and it speaks loudly here. It is a small piece. The box was a drawer to a wooden jewelry chest I recently found at a thrift shop. I painted it black and played with the idea of using shaved sidewalk chalk as an accent. I like the effect and will use it again. The doll pieces I found on eBay. The doll head was broken but I made it work. The clown butter knife speaks volumes and the added photo concludes the story.
Mac - I began this piece with the paintbrush and the photograph of a boy. I married the two and the rest just fell into place. The box itself is a child's art box from the 60s or so. The red pegs were a part of the art box set. The architectural drawing in the background I found at an estate sale. The roll of drawings were from a student's project and something I just couldn't pass up. The background design, combined with the compass, protractor, and mechanical pencil give it an architectural theme. It is a musical piece in a way as the metal spikes are from a child's piano and can be played if you wish but they were not added for that purpose just for aesthetics. The top is an art deco desk calendar. I added MAC for my Dad. This peace reminded me of him.
Broken windows and empty hallways
A pale dead moon in the sky streaked with gray
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it's going to rain today
Scarecrows dressed in the latest styles
With frozen smiles to chase love away
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it's going to rain today
Tin can at my feet
Think I'll kick it down the street
That's the way to treat a friend
Bright before me the signs implore me
To help the needy and show them the way
Human kindness is overflowing
And I think it's going to rain today
I love these lyrics. My favorite interpretation is by Katie Melua. She is a beautiful young woman with incredible talent and a beautiful, soulful voice. It was also sung by Bette Middler in Beaches back in the 80s. I think these lyrics are fitting for this series of broken window photographs.
I made a few shots before work today and played with color. I kind of like the results and I really like this space. Nice find.
Have a most blessed three day weekend.
I fell in love with this huge tree and the little house in its shade. Sadly, the house was unoccupied but at some point I imagine lots of children climbed in the branches of this tree. Perhaps at one point there was a swing hanging from the sturdy limbs or maybe even a tree house nestled in the branches. Regardless, you can be sure it is home to lots of squirrels, birds and insects. Enjoy…
A bird chirped outside my window all night long or so it seemed. I kept waking up to his endless chirping. I finally rose early and grabbed my camera where I was treated to the morning fog. So, as annoying as that bird is I can credit him with being able to see and photograph the beauty of a foggy morning in the woods.
I used the HDR (High-dynamic-range imaging) effect on these three photographs. It's different. In some ways I like it but in other ways I see it as just a gimmick. I don't like when it is used to the extreme. I feel it works most effectively in architecture and thus used it here and if it works at all, it works here. This is an interesting space. I have photographed it before and it hasn't changed much since I last shot it. The bleachers are gone and there is a bit more graffiti on the walls. Here I show all 4 walls of this rectangular space in HDR.
Storms On The Horizon
We have been blessed in Central Louisiana not to see the rain of our neighbors to the South but we have still gotten more of our share of wet stuff this year. The good thing durning this photo shoot was the showers were spotty and I could easily drive out of a rain shower into clear skies.
May God continue to bless those who will suffer the effects of the flooding for years to come.
Light And The Lack Of
“It's beautiful here, but morning light can make the most vulgar things tolerable.”
― Donna Tartt, The Secret History
One of the most beautiful spots in Louisiana is Cane River country. The area spans between Alexandria and Natchitoches in the central part of the state. I remember the day I first saw the cane. Prior to that I never knew that was the origin of the name of the river. Last week I had the opportunity to escape to the area. It was overcast and I had to dodge the rain showers but I still found the beauty of the river. Had the light been more forgiving the shoot would have been more productive but I enjoyed the brief escape none the less.
I guess it is both…
This tree, ugly and bent from age, is a family tree. We all walked past it time and again. Maybe others didn't ever pay it much mind but I always did. I think If you study it you may find the McNamara's in the branches. This tree is the tree my dad climbed on as a child. I use to swing on its vines. This is the tree my Uncle Johnny hung Louisiana moss from. This tree shaded our cars from the Mississippi sun. It wasn't a pretty tree but it was there and is still today. It is as much a part of us as the house.
Kisatchie National Forest
I woke early and went walking in the woods prior to coming to work. The light was bad. It was overcast but I enjoyed the escape anyhow. The photos are not great but a memory anyhow.
"Bankrupt Manor". That's what my uncle called in a video he made on Christmas Eve 1987. It was an odd choice of words, since it was't… bankrupt that is, but I found it humorous when I first viewed the video. That was almost 30 years ago. A lot has changed now. Don't get me wrong, the house is the same, but it's just a house. The life is gone. I said I wasn't going back. I said I wasn't going to photograph it again, but I did. I'm not sure why, maybe in some ways it is a member of the family too. Maybe it is more than just a falling down old house. Maybe it has a heartbeat too. I must admit, it is hard to separate it from my memories of the family.
After Aunt Joe died, I had many bad dreams about her being sick. Maybe it was because I was there the day before she died. The cancer was advanced and she was suffering greatly. We talked about the house that day. She said her best memory of the house was of us kids having a play on the front porch back in the 60s. She died that night in the house where she was born. The bad dreams ended the night I dreamed she was in heaven. Heaven was the McNamara front porch. It was all bathed in white and Aunt Joe was a bright light. I knew she was at peace. I hope Dad is there. I hope the author of the words, "Bankrupt Manor". is there too. I miss him… miss them all.
Why would anyone buy dying flowers? That is something my Dad would have said. I love "dried naturals", as Hobby Lobby calls them. I supplemented them with ones I found in the woods. The pot was found as well. The moss, I took off a tree in the Natchez trace. The result… a pot of dead flowers. Seems appropriate for the history of the pot. And this photo feels appropriate for this Friday.
My Uncle Son passed away this morning. He went peacefully. His wife and daughter were at his side. He donated his body to science so there will be no funeral. He was an old man, worn down by life. He had this theory, that I named the “Uncle Son Bucket Theory”. It goes like this: The mind is like a bucket filling with water and as one ages the bucket get so full that new information simply flows over the edges. I added an addendum to that theory. It goes like this: when one gets a hole in the bucket it’s called Alzheimer’s. Uncle Son had a hole in his bucket.
I didn’t know him as a kid. He was simply one of my Dad’s many brothers I didn’t see very often. It was later in life that I got to know him. We both shared a fondness for family photos and our visit usually ended up in his den of photographs. Uncle Son had taken a staple gun and stapled the family to the wood paneling. To me it was beautiful. Only Uncle Son could come up with that. The room was full. The photos got him to talking and before his bucket developed a hole he would tell stories. One of his last was this…
My Grandfather, Uncle Son’s dad was the "McNamara" in O’Neill McNamara Hardware Store in Vicksburg, Mississippi. He was their top salesman. He would leave on a Monday morning from Vicksburg. He would travel into Louisiana across the Mississippi River bridge and then travel south thru Louisiana till he got to Vidalia. He would cross into Natchez Mississippi and head north ending back in Vicksburg on Friday. He would always take one of the McNamara boys with him… not the girls. One week he took very small Uncle Son. They climbed into his Model T. On the floor of the back seat was large jug of whiskey. It soon became clear to Uncle Son why his dad was their top salesman. As evening set, they arrived at a large plantation house in Louisiana. Here, Uncle Son was to spend the night. Hand in hand they walked to the big house. Uncle Son ask my Grandfather what the large bell was for in the front of the mansion. He explained that the big bell was used to call the help to work in the mornings. After my Grandfather dropped Uncle Son off, having arranged for him to stay the night, he then traveled to a near by farm. There, after a night of poker and whiskey, he would return to pick up his son with his bulging sales book full of orders for tools, seed and farm equipment. Uncle Son woke very early the next morning in a strange bed in a strange house. He looked out the window and saw the big bell in the yard. He slipped out, unnoticed, and walked to the big bell. On his tip toes he pulled the rope that set the bell to clanging. From all directions the help came running. The were yawning and rubbing their eyes that were filled with fear as the thought they had overslept. Uncle Son took off running back into the plantation hoping to avoid the punishment that was sure to follow.
I will miss his stories, his BBQ ribs, his dry humor, his den of photographs and his love for life but I believe he is in a better place. I believe his bucket will never be full again and will never have a hole. I believe he is with my Dad and his other siblings. I believe he is swapping stories with them all of growing up in the McNamara home, the Model T, going to the Brother’s school, WWII and so much more that I was never told.
I have his photos and stories to remember him by. I have a set of 100 year old encyclopedias he gave me. Ones that he purchased from the Vicksburg library book sale. And as frail as he was he insisted on helping me load them in my car. I have the clock my Dad gave to him when he was home on leave from the Navy. But I will still miss him….
This isn't good by simply a…see ya later Uncle Son.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Among The Weeds
This photograph was made in the Old Rapides Cemetery in Pineville on July 30th, 2016.
This gentleman died 100 years ago. He was 74 years old. Who was he? Was he a father? Was he a farmer? Perhaps he was an elected official or a preacher. Was he Catholic, Baptist or did he not have a faith at all? Did he live in the area or was he passing thru on a boat floating down the Red River or was he on a train riding the rails through town when he left this world? Who erected this stone. Was it his wife or son? Did he pass after a long illness? Maybe he fell off a horse to his death or was run over by a Model-T. Maybe someone shot him in a bar room brawl on Main Street. Or did he simply just close his eyes while watching the sun set one evening and opened them to see the beauty and glory of heaven.
These are the things I think of when I walk through an old cemetery while reading words engraved on headstones. Sometimes I will see the words Mother and Father engraved in large letters but aside from that, I can't always tell a whole lot about a life that once walked on the same soil as I. It saddens me today that young people in our society label people not by their position in the family, their religion, occupation, military rank or origin but by appearance and sexuality. Young people use words like: gay, straight, bi, transgender, black, white or latino when ask to describe someone. How sad is that? Young people see a person's appearance not their contributions to society. The result… devision and hate.
God made us the race and sex we are for a reason.
God made us to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him.
God put us here for a reason.
Have you figured out why you are here or are you still hung up the fact that God made you as you are?
Time to wake up and work on the second part… the reason you are here. The end is near.