“And besides, is death really so terrible a thing? It seems terrible to you, because you are young, but who is to say he is not better off now than you are? Or—if death is a journey to another place—that you will not see him again?” He opened his lexicon and began to search for his place. “It does not do to be frightened of things about which you know nothing,” he said. “You are like children. Afraid of the dark.” Donna Tartt, The Secret History
As a child I was afraid of the dark... not the regular dark but the dark of anesthesia. After my first surgery I woke to pain, scares, bangages and a whole chunk of missing time. By the next surgery I had developed a fear of that dark place of which I had no memory. Durning that missing time, I didn’t dream. Mom, Dad and my sisters were missing. And worst of all, God was missing. I was all alone in that darkness and I had a fear of never leaving that darkness. Being stuck there forever...a fear of never seeing my parents again...a fear of never seeing God. This was very real to me and I had nightmares to the effect. I didn’t fear dying and still don’t. In fact, I look forward to what lies beyond this earth. But by my second surgery, I held my breath as long as I could, not to breath in the gas that would lead me to that dark place.
I think this mother had that fear for her children. A fear of being in a dark place with no return to the life that she knew and had hoped to have for her own children. You can see it in her eyes. What good mother wouldn’t worry about what the future holds for her chlidren. But if anything, in my 55 years on this earth, I have larned that precious time was wasted in needless worries of things I had no control over like... “Anesthesia”.
Dorothea Lange - “Tulare County. Farm Security Administration camp (FSA) for migratory agricultural workers at Farmersville. Mother and child, come to California from Oklahoma. They have six children, aged two to nineteen years. The mother finished the eighth grade in school. They left their farming in Chicasha in the fall of 1936 to go to Arizona to pick cotton. They returned to Oklahoma to try again; failed and re-entered California February 27, 1938 to pick peas under a labor contractor. The father is chairman of camp council May, 1939”
“Mr. O’Halloran can’t lie. He’s the headmaster...You have to study and learn so that you can make up your own mind about history and everything else but you can’t make up an empty mind. Stock your mind, stock your mind. It is your house of treasure and no one in the world can interfere with it...You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.” - Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes
Frank McCourt grew up in a poverty, that I can only imangine, but he took the advice of his headmaster and stocked his mined. Thanks to my parent’s hard work and encourgement, I too... “stocked my mind”. I savored every moment of my college education provided by my Mom and Dad and am the person I am because of it. I am what I am, not only because of my parents, but because of theirs and theirs before. I imagine this couple Lang phogographed has many such desindents. I gave this hard working mother a new red apron. She deserved it.
Dorothea Lange -”Couple who have raised ten children on reclaimed land which they cleared twenty years ago. Irrigon, Morrow County, Oregon”
Power of the Rosary
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” - Mother Teresa
These words of a Saint are words to live by for sure. They are echoed in the words of Our Lady to Mirjana on October 2 of 2017...”My children, do not waste time thinking about the future, worrying. May your only concern be how to live well every moment according to my Son. And there it is – peace for you!” It’s hard to trust and not think about tomorrow but, from experience, I find you do miss the joy of the moment when you worry about things of which you have no control. The lines in the faces of Lange’s adult subjects reflect that for sure.
Dorothea Lange -”Mr. Roberts, FSA (Farm Security Administration) borrower. Owyhee project. Malheur County, Oregon October 1939”
“So I stopped talking about it. There’s no need to talk, because the truth of what one says lies in what one does.” – Bernhard Schlink, The Reader
“The Reader”, is a gem of a movie I found at a yard sale. I remember seeing the trailer some years back, thinking at the time it would be good, but I never sought it out. In the movie, the main character, Michael, finds his whole world shattered when he learns of the horrifing actions during WWII of his first and only true love, Hanna. These events occurred long before they met but while sititng in a stuffy courtroom, Michael sees the opportunity to save her from a life in prison. By telling her intermost secret, he could save her from years of imprisonment but instead he chooses to be slient and stand on the side of justice. Durning the trial Michael accepted the painfull reality that Hanna saw no faught in her own actions but as difficult that was to accept, he never abonded her. In his own way he gives her hope and a reason for living even though in his heart he knows she doesn’t deserve it. He was able to hate the crime not the criminal. I find that most honerable and hope I am able to refelect his actions in my life.
Dorothea Lange -”Mother and baby of family on the road. Tulelake, Siskiyou County, California. General caption number 65 September 1939”
“All of us have a path to follow and the path begins on earth.” - Richard Matheson, What Dreams May Come
“What Dreams May Come” is a thought provoking movie featuring Robbin Williams. Lured by the special effects in the trailer, I saw it in the theater. The basic premise of the movie was that heaven is as you perceive it to be. In Robin’s charactor’s case, he always thought heaven would be like one of his Wife’s paintings and after a fatal care accident, he opened his eyes to find himself amongst the flowers of the painting he so loved. I liked that concept and over all enjoyed the movie. I didn’t agree with a lot of other ideas the author expressed. God wasn’t to be found, even after 2 plus hours of watching, but I did like the idea put fourth that our path ONLY begins on earth. Implying that great things are to follow after we pass on. It was true in the movie and I believe will be true for all of us.
Dorothea Lange - “Girls of Lincoln Bench School study their reading lesson. Near Ontario, Malheur County, Oregon October 1939”
My 2018 Calendar is a tribute to Dorothea Lange. I mixed her photography and mine along with some of my favorite quotes.
“You will never truly realize God is all you need until He becomes all you have.” Mother Teresa
A Tsunami struck Japan back in 2011. The death toll was upwards of 15,000. I saw a photograph online of a young girl sittting on a cracked slab of concrete among the devistation there, crying to the depths of her soul. There was nothing left for miles but rubbish and I thought... if you don’t have God you have nothing. Saint Mother Teresa echos that in her quote. I am sure that the people fleeing their homes durning the Great Depression experienced this too. Most fled their homes with little or nothing but those, with faith in God, had all they needed.
My 2018 Calendar is a tribute to Dorothea Lange. I mixed her photography and mine along with some of my favorite quotes.
Dear Red. If you’re reading this, you’ve gotten out. And if you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don’t you? I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I’ll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend. Andy.
This letter ends the movie, Shawshank Redemption as written by Stephen King. Andy and Red are x-prisioners about to embark on a new chapter in their life. In an earlier exchange Andy tried to tell Red that one should always have hope. “It is the one thing no one can touch”. but Red’s response was... “Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.”
As for myself, I agree with Andy. Hope is a good thing and when you give up hope you give up life. In the end Red agrees too... “I find I’m so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”
Dorothea Lange - “Migrant cotton picker’s child who lives in a tent in the government camp instead of along the highway or in a ditch bank. Shafter Camp for migrants, California November 1938”
My 2018 Calendar is a tribute to Dorothea Lange. I mixed her photography and mine along with some of my favorite quotes.
"Sing your song. Dance your dance. Tell your tale.” Frank McCourt
Frank McCourt did Sing his song, He danced his dance and told his tale by writing three autobiographies and touching countless lives as an educator . Our lives are just that..our song, our dance and our tale. This calendar is part of mine.
Dorothea Lange - “Eight year old daughter who helps about the tobacco barn and takes care of the baby. Granville County, North Carolina - July 1939”
in joy and
in love …
My 2018 Calendar is a tribute to Dorothea Lange. I mixed her photography and mine along with some of my favorite quotes.
“It like to have killed us all. But not a one took it as hard as Idgie. Everyone thought she’d die right along with him. Night after night, she stayed by the river. Big George was the only soul she’d let near her, and he watched over her night and day. You know, a heart can be broken, but it still keeps a-beating just the same.” - Fried Green Tomatoes, Fannie Flag
I loved the movie Fried Green Tomatoes. Mom and I saw it at the theater. She enjoyed it too. Jessica Tandy spoke the words...”a heart can be broken, but it still keeps a beating just the same” in reference to the unexpected death of Idgie’s big brother. Tandy was 81 and receiving chemo for ovarian cancer while filming the movie but she went on to make 4 more movies before her death in 1994. Lange seems to have captured this Arkansas girl’s broken heart not unlike Idgie’s in the movie. I gave her a bright blue dresss with red flowers as a gift.
This image reminded me of Séraphine de Senlis, 1864 to 4942. I have a movie of her life. She was a house keeper that was an eccentric closet artists. She painted by candlelight into the wee hours of the morning with paints she made herself. Sadly, she spent her latter years (1932 till her death) in a lunatic asylum suffering with chronic psychosis. Take a look at her work, it is inspiring.
“Let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry...have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere-be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin. Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.” - Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Ch. 48
I hope my life has reflected this quote by Betty Smith from A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. I have strived to not waste a moment. I believe God put us all on this earth for a reason and I hope I haven’t disappointed Him.
Below are more flashes or Christmas memories from Super 8 movies shot by my parents when we were growing up. These are screenshots are from 1965 and are of Mom and my sisters and I. By the smiles you can see it was a happy time for us all. Dad was shooting the film.
December – Abandoned School / Cane River Country Louisiana
“It is better to be young in your failures than old in your successes.”
See Complete 2017 Calendar here.
11. November – Kisatchie National Forest / Old Camp Livingston Army Base - Pollock, Louisiana
People without hope not only don’t write novels, but what is more to the point, they don’t read them. They don’t take long looks at anything, because they lack the courage. The way to despair is to refuse to have any kind of experience, and the novel, of course, is a way to have experience. ~Flannery O’Connor from The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor
On Hallows Eve
Back in the 60s, Halloween was for kids. For my sisters and I, Halloween was colored pumpkins at school, a dime store costume, tin noisemakers and a plastic bucket of bad candy. That’s about how it went every year with a few exceptions.
One year Halloween fell on a Sunday. Pineville was strictly Baptist and moved trick-or-treating to Saturday. We did our usual trick-or-treating around the neighborhood on Saturday and then on Sunday, Mom and Dad piled us kids in the station wagon and we drove across the river to Alexandria that celebrated the holiday on the day. Dad drove to Charles Park, the most ritzy neighborhood in the city at the time, and drove us door to door. That year we got a load of good candy that lasted for weeks. I was a witch, I know this because I was always a witch.
Another memorable Halloween was the first year we had Tippy. Tippy was a gray cat cat with white paws that Mom found, through an ad in the paper, the summer I had to endure summer school. One class, Math. The kittens were born at a local trailer park where the owners gave the one, my sisters chose, the name Tippy-Toes. By October, he was a few months old and we had shortened his name to just Tippy. Tippy decided to go trick-or-treating with us. He followed us to each house… block after block. He became the highlight of the evening for the housewives passing out candy and more than once we even got extra candy… “for the cat”. If my memory holds that was one of the last times we trick-or-treated. The news was covered with horror stories of razorblades in candy and my Mom quickly put a stop to Halloween as we knew it.
That night, started something though, something that continued for 18 years. Tippy and I would to go for walks. At first we walked about three streets but as he got older he refused to leave Cummings Drive. The traffic maybe? I never knew for sure but once I tried the railroad that passed behind Cummings Drive and Tippy followed. Turns out Tippy loved the railroad tracks and we walked them often. He would balance on one rail till we got to the cut off that led back home. I miss Tippy. He was a one of a kind cat for sure.
Halloween lasted only a night, but as a kid, I always looked forward to it. Today it is just another day. I guess that is called…"growing up".
Kisatchie National Forest / Old Camp Livingston Army Base - Pollock, Louisiana
From 1955 until her death nine years later, Flannery O’Connor maintained a frank, wide-ranging and candid correspondence with Betty Hester, a clerk at an Atlanta-based credit union who had one day written O’Connor out of the blue…. September 6, 1955, To Betty Hester...The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it emotionally. Right now the whole world seems to be going through a dark night of the soul.
I went woods walking before I headed to the office. The mosquitoes had the same idea and I my camera hand alone go 6 bites. Worth it? I say yes. The solitude of walking in the woods, neven when you had to share the space with pesky mosquitoes is always worth it.
Abandoned School / Cane River Country Louisiana
"If you don't hunt it down and kill it, it will hunt you down and kill you….. true, very true words of the wise Flannery O'Connor.
Cool September Morning
This City of the Dead
More B&W images from New Orleans
This City of the Dead
More B&W images from New Orleans
This City of the Dead
Color images from New Orleans
This City of the Dead
More B&W images from New Orleans
This City of the Dead
Inspired by the documentary, Visitors, I stumbled across on TubiTV, I woke at the ridiculous hour of 3 AM on Friday and headed south. I woke so early as to catch the morning light and beat the rains. The heat was unavoidable. I enjoyed the shoot, but decided I am about too old for this… at least the 3 AM part. I was lured to Visitors, by Philip Glass but return again and again for Godfrey Reggio's phenomenal black and white images some of which were photographed in south Louisiana. I could never capture the same beauty as is in the documentary and I encourage you to check out his work. Thanks to the annoying commercials I may have to seek out and purchase the DVD. But even the commercials are tolerable just to experience such a great work of art.
More to follow… much more.
Black & white Dreams
I gave up caffeine for Lent and never went back. I am sleeping better than ever but the dreams are endless. One underlining theme of my dreams of late is not being able find what I am looking for. One night it was my car in the parking lot. I was given the task to rush a very ill child to the hospital but aimlessly wondered around a parking lot most of the night trying to find my car. Last night, it was a room where my Aunt was staying. She was injured somehow and unable to walk so I carried her most of the night throughout large buildings. up elevators and stairs looking for her room. I repeatedly ask for assistance to find the room. I was given directions but no one offered to lighten my load that was no doubt a bit heavy. I woke very tired. There is meaning in all my dreams, of that I am sure. I have suspicions about these two, but I guess only time will tell. Sometimes I just wish God was just a bit more direct. Do you ever fell that way?
Below are a few more images shot with 2 cameras in my living room. I like the effect. Enjoy…
Yes, that is the Titanic. A still shot in my living room using two cameras. One vintage one digital. Enjoy...
A Study of Color & Texture
I found these at a yard sale on Friday. All for a dollar. I fell in love with the colors and textures. Enjoy!
"The past catches up to you, whether you like it or not. It can be a gift or a curse if you let it. I will never forget the gift of Meg Loughlin, though I am plagued with the torment of failing again, failing somebody. But as she taught me, it's what you do last that counts."
The above is a quote from a movie I watched last night. The movie, The Girl Next Door, seemed very familiar and I was relieved to find out that it was a remake of one I had seen before and that the true event hadn't occurred twice. The names and details had changed a bit but it was a story of a girl that was severely abused by her guardian in the 1950s.
The ending quote was powerful and has stuck with me today. "The past catches up to you, whether you like it or not. It can be a gift or a curse if you let it."…. O so true. I guess it comes with age but thoughts have a way of shutting me down if I let them. But the last line… "It's what you do last that counts." is one that I never thought about and hope is true. Something to ponder.
Have a blessed weekend.
Hard to believe it is already August.
I reached the end of my Art Journal and purchased another. My Art Journal is nothing more than an outlet for my creative energy. Not unlike some that do the daily crossword. It is a productive task in a way as I can look back and see the fruits of my labor but it isn't a journal of inner thoughts so much as just ideas floating through my head. I had a professor that defined art as…"Thinking with a pencil." Like my other assemblage pieces most pages are a collection of items. Some I have modified and others not. I will share a few in the days to come.
Cover…. The background is a digital art piece I did a few years back. I had a print made of it. I added the letters, found at Goodwill and sponge acrylic paint on the edges. The heart is a cookie cutter dipped in paint. A bit of glitter is scattered about.
Page 1…. The first few pages were my attempt at watercolor. I admire those that have mastered the medium of watercolors. I have not. I have too heavy of a hand and lack the talent necessary, but this is my feeble attempt. The vintage photograph of the four people under the tree was the starting point for this page. It appears to be two couples and looks to be the 1930s or earlier. Using watercolors I painted beyond the areas of the photograph that were absent. I added my teabags from an earlier art project…perhaps to cover my poor painting, or to just fill the space, not sure why now. I added the word TREE with old printer's type.
Page 2 & 3…. Similar to the first page. Another attempt at watercolor and more teabags.
Page 4…. A worse attempt at watercolor it seems. I loved the Polaroids I found. An older couple took a trip in 1990 and photographed their vacation with a Polaroid camera. They carefully wrote on each photo. This was a shot from Yellowstone. The other three photos are just random found images. It saddens me when I find such a treasure cast off by the family. I found the Polaroids in a box with other photos at an estate sale in Pineville. I would guess the owners of the polaroids have passed away and hope the are not upset that at my attempts to keep their memories of their trip alive. I attempted to add to the page a landscape. Very oversaturated for watercolor. I even took a watercolor class once if you can believe that. I truly lack the talent but maybe, just maybe, if I keep trying it will get some better.
Memories Of A Space
"Driving around the country now, I still see things that will remind me of Hailsham. I might pass the corner of a misty field, or see part of a large house in the distance as I come down the side of a valley, even a particular arrangement of popular trees up on a hillside, and I'll think: "Maybe that's it! I've found it! This actually is Hailsham!"– Kathy H., Never Let Me Go
Memories Of A Space
This space touched my heart in some way. I never shared it with anyone except through my photographs. It was my own.
Memories of Hailsham for sure… and Kathy… and Tommy… and Ruth.
"We didn't have The Gallery in order to look into your souls. We had The Gallery to see if you had souls at all. Do you understand?" – Miss Emily, Never Let Me Go (2010)
Abandoned School / Cane River Country Louisiana
It does not take much to make us realize what fools we are but the little it takes is long in coming. A Prayer Journal ~Flannery O’Connor
More Woods Walking
Here are a few Black & White images from yesterday's shoot.
I woke early to go to the woods for a shoot. When I looked out, a bit before 6, the fog was rolling in. That meant spiderwebs. However, at my destination the wind was my enemy. Regardless, I enjoyed the morning although I don't have much to show for it. Enjoy…
“The old home town looks the same
As I step down from the train,
And there to meet me is my Mama and Papa.
Down the road I look and there runs Mary
Hair of gold and lips like cherries.
It's good to touch the green, green grass of home.
Yes, they'll all come to meet me, arms reaching, smiling sweetly.
It's good to touch the green, green grass of home.
The old house is still standing tho' the paint is cracked and dry,
And there's that old oak tree that I used to play on.
Down the lane I walk with my sweet Mary,
Hair of gold and lips like cherries.
It's good to touch the green, green grass of home”…
The house I was thinking of was the McNamara home in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Some years back, when I was a newly graduated college student, Mom, Dad and I drove to Vicksburg on a Saturday morning. As with all our previous trips to my Dad's old home town, we left just before the sun rose in the sky. As our station wagon drove down the old highway, we passed small country churches, “Uncle Johnny’s” dam, and endless rows of plowed earth soon to be planted with cotton. I fought sleep as my Dad's strong trusting hands gripped the steering wheel. We drove pass roadside parks and I remembered stopping there as a kid. I remembered the sweating red water cooler, paper Dixie cups and a treasure trove of bottle caps under the concrete picnic tables. As we neared the mighty Mississippi, I found myself peering over the back seat as I did as a child, searching the landscape for a glimpse of the old Mississippi River bridge. This meant we were almost there. We crossed into the state of Mississippi where we were immediately greeted by rolling hills and kudzu vines. We passed reminders of the Civil War that merged with the city landscape on our way to our own Civil War relic. The gravel crunched under our tires as we pulled into the driveway... home at last. Sadly I looked at Uncle Johnny’s little house at the end of the driveway, empty as he had died a few years before. The screen door of the big house banged behind us as we entered and someone said hello from the living room.
The familiar smells hit me... a roast cooking, cigarettes, whiskey and age. Aunt Joe greeted us from her chair. In her lap was the fuzzy black dog, Tootie. Beside her on the windowsill in an ash tray shaped like a hand with a burning Salem cigarette. Next to that was a sweating glass of ice tea and small bottles of fingernail polish and one of aspirin. Her voice was raspy and her body was frail but somehow she was just the same.
Aunt Joe rummaged through a stack of letters and bills and pulled out a cream colored note card with a line drawing of the home of my cousin's in South Carolina. She then presented her request, which was for me to create a note card with a similar line drawing of the McNamara home. She planned to give the cards as gifts at Christmas. It was early in the year and I knew I had time, but I crossed the street and stood on the hill and photographed the home from afar for reference before we headed back to Pineville.
Her request was something she thought I could do. I had just finished taking architecture classes at Louisiana Tech. I did similar line drawings there, often in the wee hours of the morning, in the dark studios of Wiley tower overlooking the Ruston campus. But the thought of this task made me doubt my own abilities.
I got the film processed but was dragging my feet on the project until my Dad got a call from Aunt Lady informing us that Aunt Joe wasn't well. She had been diagnosed with cancer and her days were numbered. Dad's urgent plea set me in motion and within days the drawing was done. I photographed the drawing on the large stat camera at Louisiana College, where I was working for the summer. The print shop on campus had one dusty box of cream colored note cards and agreed to print the cards for me. I picked them up on Friday. Mom and I set at the kitchen table and divided the cards into packets of ten.
Mom and Dad delivered the cards the next day. I chose not to go. I wanted to remember Aunt Joe as she was. She called me long distance to thank me for the cards and I noticed a bit more life in her voice than my last visit. That life stayed within her through the summer. In the fall I received another long distance call from Aunt Joe. She said, “I know the cards were for Christmas gifts, but I have given almost all of them away. Any chance you could have some more printed?” The plea seemed urgent and her words were labored and tired. I immediately jumped into action.
The college didn’t have any more cards in stock so I had to search for another printer. I was working also for an Interior Designer at the time and we used a local print shop for bluelines. Much to my surprise, they had some cream colored note cards in stock and were able to knock the job out in a couple of days.
I ask Dad if he would drive with me to Vicksburg on Saturday and he agreed. We took his Red pickup truck. This time we passed rows of white fluffy cotton, ready for the picking. The trip seemed extra long and somber. Uncle Son was having a rib roast at his home a few blocks from the McNamara home and we planned to join in the party that night after delivering the cards.
Aunt Joe was lying on the couch. She was very frail but seemed so happy to see me and grateful to thank me in person for the cards. I pulled one out to show her and explained that they were a little different since I had to switch printers. Dad sat in the old rocker at her foot and the two began to reminisce. Aunt Joe said the thing she remembered the most when she looked at the drawing of the house was the variety show us kids had put on years ago. I was taken aback, since she had lived in the home all her life and the one event she remembered the most contained myself.
As they continued to chat, the memories came flooding back. Back in the 60s my sisters and I spent several months at the McNamara home. I was terribly homesick but I also have fond memories of our extended visit there. I was only 5 and perhaps what I remember isn’t as it truly was, but I fondly remember my memories of the show as well.
One of our favorite TV shows at the time was, Our Gang or The Little Rascals. Spanky, Buckwheat, Alfalfa, Darla, Stymie, and Pete, the dog, were like old friends. I most enjoyed the episodes when they put on variety shows in their clubhouse to benefit the USO. When our extended Vicksburg stay was coming to an end, our cousins and sisters and I decided to have a similar variety show. The front porch of the McNamara home was our stage. We organized, practiced and planned the show for days until we had everything just right. We invited the family to watch the big event. Our parents, aunts and uncles filled the lawn chairs scattered about the yard below the big concrete steps leading up to the long porch that fronted the house.
The show unfolded with skit after skit and ended with a grand finale, the only skit I remembered. It took the most planning and involved props and costumes. It was to be a true copy of the Our Gang TV show as each one of us dressed as a character from the show. All summer we had been collecting refundable pop bottles and we spent some of our hard earned nickel and dimes on kazoos at the local Woolworth store. We made tri-corner hats out of newspaper and raided the kitchen for pots and pans to make drums and cymbals. We found a small American flag about the place and we rummaged through Uncle Johnny’s shoe shine box for black shoe polish. Vaseline was confiscated from Aunt Joe’s medicine chest. We were all set. Durning an intermission, while our family members freshened their drinks and lit fresh cigarettes, we become “The Little Rascals”.
I was Buckwheat. I don’t know if this was by choice or circumstance since even though he was my favorite, I was the only one in our group with short black hair. I was also only 5 years old and I didn’t have much of a voice when it came to my siblings and cousins. Regardless, I seemed to accept my character willingly. By now I am sure the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. The Vaseline was for my hair and the shoe polish was for my face. We were just kids. We didn’t know what blackface was and the word racism wasn’t in our vocabulary. I simply need to become Buckwheat and my sisters did what they could to transform me into character.
Our parade began out the kitchen door, rounded the side of the house, up the porch stairs and ended on the stage. I was in the lead, waving the American flag and blowing my kazoo in an attempt to mimic my fellow “Rascals” in a patriotic song. As we high stepped around the side of the house toward the front porch, I heard a burst of laughter from the audience like none I have heard since. Perhaps it was the highballs or the cans of Falstaff beer that added to the merriment but I now think most of the laughter was directed straight at me. I was oblivious to how ridiculous I must have looked at the moment and was only focused on my task at hand which was to march in step, blow the kazoo and wave the flag all at the same time. A tall order for a 5 year old little girl performing in her first play. I don’t remember the goodbyes that day, the ride back to Louisiana or running into my Mom’s arms after months being away for so long, but I do remember the play or what I remember of the play thru my childish eyes.
Apparently others fondly remember it too as Dad, Aunt Joe and Aunt Lady spoke of that day with high regard some 20 or so years after the event. It touch my heart as the three had all grown up in the house and Aunt Joe, who was born there and in a few hours would also die in the house on the hill, had spent her whole life in that house.
As we got into the truck that night to head home I said, “That’s the last time we will see her isn’t it?” Dad said, “Yes," tossed me the keys and said, “you drive”. As I drove into the night, Vicksburg, Grove Street and the old McNamara home slipped silently into darkness. The call came early Sunday morning. The funeral was three days later.
Of the 11, only one of the McNamara siblings is still with us. Aunt Lady is in her 90s. Like the song… “The old house is still standing tho' the paint is cracked and dry”… the McNamara home still sits high on the hill but it’s days are numbered. Recent events cause me to reminisce with a heavy heart. I didn’t live in Vicksburg or grow up in the house but it still holds a special place in my heart as I am sure it does for the whole family and I can’t help but tear up as I write these words.
The song ends…
“Then I awake and look around me,
At four grey walls that surround me
And I realize, yes, I was only dreaming.
For there's a guard and there's a sad old padre,
Arm in arm, we'll walk at daybreak.
Again I touch the green, green grass of home.”
The year following Aunt Joe’s death, I had a series of nightmares where she was very sick. They were disturbing dreams, that caused me to wake with a start and toss sleepless till dawn. But one night that all changed as I dreamed Aunt Joe was in Heaven. Heaven was the McNamara front porch, all bathed in white. Aunt Joe was a beautiful white light. We chatted for hours on the porch as the sun slowly sank into the horizon. I never had dreams of her again, good or bad. I was at peace knowing she was home and again able to touch the green, green grass of her home on the hill.
Another song seems to sum it all up. Bookends, written by Paul Simon…
“Time it was
And what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They're all that's left you”
It hurts to see things changing and the life slowly fading from the old place but we each have our memories and the home will live on in our hearts forever.
God Bless and thanks for stopping by to read my rambling thoughts on this hot summer day.
More Photos from my July 3rd Photo Shoot…
More Photos from my July 3rd Photo Shoot…
Photos from my July 3rd Photo Shoot. Macro Floral at one of my favorite spots in Pollock, LA.
Below are a couple of Prayer Boxes I have been working on. The first is Our Lady Of Perpetual Help and the Second Our Lady of Guadalupe. Both are almost done. I have purchased a lot of Milagros that I will be adding once the order arrives. Feedback welcome.
It is hard to believe that the year is half over. I sit here watching the Capital 4th on tv. My cat is in her box at the foot of my bed. I've been off the past 4 days and she is so ready for me to return to work so she can have her house back. She is snoozing, trying to make up for lost sleep. I spent my days off half as an artists and half doing the usual laundry, house cleaning, grocery shopping and bill paying.
Lots of family stuff going on. My heart is saddened but I look to God to get me through it all. As I have said before and will say again, the greatest gift Mom & Dad gave me was to raise me Catholic. The Catholic faith is rich in time tested traditions and rituals and those deep roots keep me grounded all the while reaching to the heavens.
Being off for two days I have slept late and have gone to evening Mass. This evening I joined the ladies at the church across the street for the Rosary and Mass. Sister, with unbelievable passion, lead the Rosary. I remembered the days following hurricane Rita when my Aunt walked across the street for the same and I would meet her for 5:30 Mass after I left the office. From my dear Aunt Dot, I have come to learn that I can get through any heartache by turning off the world and turning to God. Each weekday morning, if at all possible, I start my day with the Holy Eucharist and each night the Rosary ends my day with peace and hope. I pray the Rosary with Bishop Reed from CatholicTV. I kneel at my prayer corner and my cat quietly lies close by. It is a peaceful end to the day.
The 1812 overture has just begun which means the ending fireworks will soon follow. I have been watching the faces of happy children on TV that seem to have not a care in the world. I was that way at one time. I felt so safe with Mom and Dad. They sheltered us from all worry. I find that if I turn to my Heavenly Mother and Father I feel that same peace. But I, much older now, have lost that child like trust and can't "let go" as often as I should.
I believe we are at the end of days. The signs, good and bad, are all around us. I don't know what God's plans are for me but my focus each day is that I may spend eternity with Him. I hope to share that joy with my family, friends and anyone reading this. That is what matters.
Our days may be numbered but I am making the most out of every second God gifts me with. I escaped to the woods yesterday. I went to two of my favorite spots, camera in tow. I will post those photos this week...provided they are worthy of sharing. I also worked on my prayer boxes. I finished one and began on a second.
The fireworks have faded into the dark sky over Washington. My cat, aroused by the purple motorcycle, a new sound, in the driveway and the annual neighborhood celebrations popping outside the window, is ready for treats and bedtime. I too am ready to end the day and get back to work in the morning. I miss my ADs family when I am away. I hope you had a happy 4th. God Bless America.
“All of us have a path to follow and the path begins on earth.”
What Dreams May Come
“Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day.”
Dead Poets Society
“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately… I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life? To put to rout all that was not life… and not, when I come to die, discover that I had not lived… HDT”
Dead Poets Society
I recently watched two of Robin Williams movies. The Dead Poets Society and What Dreams May Come. I didn’t remember that there was suicide in both. Both movies seem to take on a new meaning now that Robin is gone. Each movie has a character (not played by Robin) that ends their own life. Both characters are dealing with a pain so deep that they chose to end their time on earth rather then continue living.
Both movies celebrate life, art, poetry, music, theater. Simply the beauty of living. Robin did “seize the day”. He also “lived” more than most. He left us a wonderful legacy but I now can’t watch these two movies and not feel a deep sadness knowing that Robin experienced that same unbearable pain that Annie (a grieving wife) & Perry (a restricted teen) did. A Pain so great he didn’t want to live on this earth anymore.
Chris (Robin Williams) and his daughter have this exchange in What Dreams May Come:
"Is this where we go when we die?
It's a dream baby, it's a beautiful one, but you know dreams...
I know, aren't real. I know."
What Dreams May Come
I believe Heaven is better than any dream I have ever had and is as real as real can be… “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him…” And, I pray that Robin, you, myself and all people can share in the joy of it some day. For pure joy can only be found in God and the best joy will be in heaven.
Medjugorje message given to Mirjana of June 2, 2017
“As in the other places where I have come to you, also here I am calling you to prayer. Pray for those who do not know my Son, for those who have not come to know the love of God, against sin, for the consecrated – for those whom my Son called to have love and the spirit of strength for you, for the Church.
Pray to my Son, and the love which you experience from His nearness will give you the strength to make you ready for the works of love which you will do in His name. My children, be ready. This time is a turning point. That is why I am calling you anew to faith and hope. I am showing you the way by which you need to go, and those are the words of the Gospel. Apostles of my love, the world is in such need of your arms raised towards Heaven, towards my Son, towards the Heavenly Father. Much humility and purity of heart are needed. Have trust in my Son and know that you can always be better.
My motherly heart desires for you, apostles of my love, to be little lights of the world, to illuminate there where darkness wants to begin to reign, to show the true way by your prayer and love, to save souls. I am with you. Thank you."
In the event you haven't figured it out, the peaces I have posted this week consist of taking the elements of a previous art piece and reworking those pieces into a new digital assemblage art piece that is square in size. I have added a few elements, birds for one, to each piece. I have enjoyed the process of taking a look at some old favorites and seeing what my fresh eyes come up with. The pieces I reworked this week are from 2014. To view the originals visit… Assemblage Art Digital
Below are a few images I shot on Sunday morning at my place. The sun was streaming thru the windows in my living room / studio casting unique shadows throughout. Included are a few random shots and two art pieces I am working on. Enjoy…
New Assemblage Box in the works…
Prayer Box in the works…
It's hard to believe it is May already. Time seems to fly by. I haven't posted much of late. I have the guilts about that and I hope to be more active in the future. I've been super busy at work, working out, etc, etc… Life. A good life, I should say. I fell most blessed and seek to return those God given blessings to God ten fold.
I think the statement on this month's calendar page written by Flannery, "I think there is no suffering greater than is caused by the doubts of those who want to believe", is true. There is also great suffering by those who don't have and are not seeking that belief. They are suffering too and may not even know why. So sad.
Have a great week..
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.
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…
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…
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.
Morning After The Rains
I like warm colors and cool grays, odd I suppose. This morning on my way to the office, I made this photograph. In this image, the early morning sun was casting warm colors off the concrete making it the focal point. The warmth is also seen in the trees in the foreground pines and even those in the background have a warm yellow cast to them. We use the same terms for color as temperature… warm and cool but in reality that isn't always true. A blue flame is often times a hotter temperature even though it is considered a cooler color. The best time to shoot is early morning. It is cooler but the colors are warmer… go figure.
This sculpture is downtown Alexandria. What I noticed Saturday morning when I made this photograph was not the sculpture itself but the colors in the negative space. I always think of O'Keefe. Perhaps studying her work has taught me to see beyond the object just as she did in her desert bone paintings. The bones, the decay, framed the living art created by God. That's not the same here, however, as most of what is downtown was created by man. We define what is art. The creator of this sculpture is an artists but so are the Architects that build the buildings. The city planners, the brick layers all are artists in their own rights. Maybe we all are, God included, weather we care to admit it or not.
Wishing our girls luck today… Geaux Team
I woke to this news: France church attack: Priest killed by two 'ISIS soldiers'….The attackers entered the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray during Mass, taking the priest, Fr Jacques Hamel, 84, and four other people hostage….Police sources said it appeared the attackers had slit the priest's throat with a knife…..Pope Francis decried the "pain and horror of this absurd violence".
My heart is saddened. Let us pray…
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.
I made this photograph in a Catholic Church in Marksville, LA. The mid day sun is shining through the beautiful stained glass windows onto the baptismal font. Most beautiful.
The two statues are from my altar in my home. At Mass this weekend Father ask if we had a time and a place for pray. My answer was yes. For the first time ever, I have a set place and time to pray and feel it is one of the best things I have ever done. Mary's message this month also echoes that. God is first in my life and prayer is a joy.
Our Lady of Medjugorje's July 25, 2016 Monthly Message:
“Dear children! I am looking at you and I see you lost; and you do not have prayer or joy in your heart. Return to prayer, little children, and put God in the first place and not man. Do not lose the hope which I am carrying to you. May this time, little children, every day, be a greater seeking of God in the silence of your heart; and pray, pray, pray until prayer becomes joy for you. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
I love finding old toys. These are well loved. They have chips and dents. They have ripped seams or broken pieces but that only shows the love given to them. They came from yard sales, antique shops and estate sales. This morning on the way to work, I heard that children as young as 7 have cell phones. Their parents get tired of them asking for theirs so they buy them their own. Do kids even still play with toys? If the answer is no, how sad is that? I treasure my found toys as my Mom wasn't one to keep our old things. I understood. The house was small but it would be awesome to find a box somewhere of all my old toys. Agree? I photographed these toys in my living room using natural light and my Nikon.
I was passing through Marksville a couple weeks ago and stopped at the local Catholic church for a moment. I was in Avoyelles parish photographing for our next ADs Avoyelles directory. There are few spaces that can compare to the peace, quiet and solitude of a Catholic church. It is a space where you can drop to your knees and speak to Jesus. It is a space where the outside world is silenced and ones heart can open to hear God's voice. Avoyelles parish is Catholic country and I passed several Catholic churches in my journey but, this being my favorite, called my name and I had to stop. I knew the doors would be unlocked. After a brief moment of prayer, I made a few photos. I remembered standing in this very spot with my Mom and later her sister. Memories I hope will always remain.
One of my favorite photo spots is the Old Rapides Cemetery in Pineville, Louisiana. I was most dismayed to see how overgrown and neglected it was on my last visit. Despite that, I still took a few shots. My eyes were open at all times for snakes and other critters. Hopefully on my next visit the caretakers will have made a pass thru.
I discovered this spot on my lunch break one day. The path through the pines once was a part of an Army base durning WWII. On the right, not shown, are the remains of perhaps bunkers that once housed young men prior to them being shipped overseas or maybe offices or a mess hall. It is a beautiful space and a nice escape but I feel the ghost of a war long past as I walk the path once walked by scared young men that gave their service to our country. A different time by far. A time when patriotism was at an all time high. When men were men and women were women. A time when one cared for their neighbor and fellow man more than their self. A time when Sunday was sacred and God was first and foremost in all man's hearts. O, to only return to that time again. I wish… I wish…
Black & White
"A League of Their Own" is one of my favorite movies. The best part for me was the end when the credits roll. As Madonna sings, they show black & white stills, from the movie, of the actors portraying the players of the All-America Girls Professional Baseball League. When processing my photos taken of our local softball team, I couldn't help but convert some to black & white in homage. The movie itself is in color but I am also a fan of all old B&W films. Another favorite of mine is, "The Little Fugitive". I recently learned that, Morris Engel, a photographer made the film. His love for B&W still photography is evident throughout the film. There are many others of course but, I particularly enjoy Hitchcock's use of light and shadows in his many excellent films and television productions. Enjoy…
I am in the process of upgrading my site. I do so as I watch the events unfold in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Sadness feels my heart with what has become a daily realty. Last week I had the honor of photographing a girls softball team. This gave me hope. There was no hate on the field. What I see played out in the news, day after day was just not there under the blazing sun in Alexandria, Louisiana. Persons of all races, ages and religions joined hands in a common goal to simply play softball, to teach young girls life long values and to have fun. I only with this could be seen on the news instead of the hate that is broadcasted day after day on our local news sources. Yes, it is accurate reporting but there is more and I only wish that all could see life thru the eyes of our young people on the ball fields across America.