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
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.
Cool September Morning
Eclipse 2017 - Ball, LA
Hard to believe it is already August.
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…
More Photos from my July 3rd Photo Shoot…
More Photos from my July 3rd Photo Shoot…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Visiting The Animals
Hanging out at the Alexandria Zoo.
A bit of color on a sky gray but a colorful news day.
Prayers for peace… Prayers for life… God Bless America…
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.
End of October
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.
It was a quick shoot. Work called. Hopefully I can return this weekend to my spot. I hope your day is blessed.
Stroll thru the woods this morning.
Brief stroll thru the woods on a Friday Morning.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Garden of Home
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.
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.
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…