Tag Archives: beauty

Sister Purple Hair Surprise

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For those of us who were from that era, you’ll recognize the words to chorus of this song:

Well, I keep on thinkin’ ’bout you, Sister Golden Hair surprise
And I just can’t live without you; can’t you see it in my eyes?
I been one poor correspondent, and I been too, too hard to find
But it doesn’t mean you ain’t been on my mind.

The rock group, America, recorded the song titled “Sister Golden Hair” on their fifth album, Heart, in 1975. Although the song is a message from a man to his lover, explaining that he still loves her despite her not being for marriage, the title was initially inspired by the mothers of all three members of the group, all of whom were blondes. The song reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Well, the model for today’s shoot is Sister Golden Hair, but more like, Sister Pinky-Purple Hair. She was one of the models about 2 weeks ago at the photo shoot in the studio close by. With the nose ring, dots above the right eye, purple-pink hair, and weak purple lip stick, she was quite a contrast to most of the other models, but she made for an interesting subject!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in a 35-year career that ran from the rockabilly genius of “Lonely Weekends” (1960) to the Countrypolitan splendor of “Behind Closed Doors” (1973), the versatile and soulful Charlie Rich earned eleven #1 hits on the Country charts and one crossover smash with the #1 pop hit “The Most Beautiful Girl” (1973). The man they called the Silver Fox displayed a natural talent for pleasing many different audiences, but his non-singing performance before one particular audience in 1975 did significant damage to the remainder of his career. On this day in 1975, the man voted Entertainer of the Year for by the Country Music Association of America one year earlier stood onstage at the CMA awards show to announce that year’s winner of the Association’s biggest award. But a funny thing happened when he opened the envelope and saw what was written inside. Instead of merely reading the name “John Denver” and stepping back from the podium, Charlie Rich reached into his pocket for a cigarette lighter and set the envelope on fire, right there onstage. Though the display shocked the live audience in attendance, John Denver himself was present only via satellite linkup, and he offered a gracious acceptance speech with no idea what had occurred.

In the aftermath of the incident, Charlie Rich was blacklisted from the CMA awards show for the rest of his career. But what point was he trying to make, exactly? It was widely assumed at the time that Rich was taking a stand on the side of country traditionalists upset at a notable incursion of pop dabblers into country music at the time (Olivia Newton-John, for instance, had won the Most Promising Female Vocalist award in 1973, for instance). But Rich himself was often accused of being “not country enough,” so that may not have been his intent. While it made better newspaper copy to suggest that he specifically resented John Denver’s win, Rich was also, by his own admission, on a combination of prescription pain medication and gin-and-tonics that night.

As his son, Charlie Rich, Jr., has written of the incident, “He used bad judgment. He was human after all. I know the last thing my father would have wanted to do was set himself up as judge of another musician.”

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: during the Great Depression, Californians tried to stop migrants from moving into their state by creating checkpoints on main highways called “bum blockades.” California even instated an “anti-Okie” law which punished anyone bringing in “indigents” with jail time.

It’s Not Local, It’s Glow-ball

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When we were in Vermont back in August (sure seems like it was much longer ago than that!), we took some time to visit a small Vermont town. My lovely bride has a thing about walking around the town and checking out the stores. Outside of one store, they had some large glass balls that were really pretty and they captured my attention. I thought they were beautiful as they reflected the sky and their colors were gorgeous. This is one of them…the other was a rich purple color (maybe I’ll share it tomorrow!)

I don’t know how these things are made, do you? My hat is off, though, to the artist who made them!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1913, Rudolf Diesel, inventor of the engine that bears his name, disappeared from the steamship Dresden while traveling from Antwerp, Belgium to Harwick, England. On October 10, a Belgian sailor aboard a North Sea steamer spotted a body floating in the water; upon further investigation, it turned out that the body was Diesel’s. There was, and remains, a great deal of mystery surrounding his death: It was officially judged a suicide, but many people believed (and still believe) that Diesel was murdered.

Diesel patented a design for his engine on February 28, 1892,; the following year, he explained his design in a paper called “Theory and Construction of a Rational Heat Engine to Replace the Steam Engine and Contemporary Combustion Engine.” He called his invention a “compression ignition engine” that could burn any fuel–later on, the prototypes he built would run on peanut or vegetable oil–and needed no ignition system: It ignited by introducing fuel into a cylinder full of air that had been compressed to an extremely high pressure and was, therefore, extremely hot.

Such an engine would be unprecedentedly efficient, Diesel argued: In contrast to the other steam engines of the era, which wasted more than 90 percent of their fuel energy, Diesel calculated that his could be as much as 75 percent efficient. (That is, just one-quarter of their energy would be wasted.) The most efficient engine that Diesel ever actually built had an efficiency of 26 percent–not quite 75 percent, but still much better than its peers.

By 1912, there were more than 70,000 diesel engines working around the world, mostly in factories and generators. Eventually, Diesel’s engine would revolutionize the railroad industry; after World War II, trucks and buses also started using diesel-type engines that enabled them to carry heavy loads much more economically.

At the time of Diesel’s death, he was on his way to England to attend the groundbreaking of a new diesel-engine plant–and to meet with the British navy about installing his engine on their submarines. Conspiracy theories began to fly almost immediately: “Inventor Thrown Into the Sea to Stop Sale of Patents to British Government,” read one headline; another worried that Diesel was “Murdered by Agents from Big Oil Trusts.” It is likely that Diesel did throw himself overboard–as it turns out, he was nearly broke–but the mystery will probably never be solved.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The Capuchin Crypt in Rome consists of five chapels and a corridor 60 meters long—and it is decorated with the bones of 4,000 deceased monks. The coffee drink Cappuccino takes its name from this order of monks who were known by their custom of wearing a hood or cappucio with their habits.

…Poetry in Motion

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There was a song from way back in the day sung by Johnny Tillotson (among others) that reached #1 in the UK.  The writers of the song said that it was inspired by a group of young ladies who walked by their place of work every day on their way home from school.  I don’t know about that, but I do remember the song.  Bobby Vee recorded the song here in the States…and that’s the version I’m most familiar with.

I have to say, though, that watching my next-to-youngest grand daughter when she runs is like watching poetry in motion.  She’s only six, but she can certainly run!  I was fortunate enough to watch her run on the beach when she was just four and I fired away with my camera and got some great shots of her.  Her running form, even then, was perfect.  Her arm motion was impeccable as she propelled herself forward.

Today’s picture is even more poetic in my judgment because of the Easter dress she was wearing when she was running around the yard looking for Easter eggs.  See how it flows behind her?  And her hair flying behind her suggests the freedom and joy of the day.  Her left hand looks completely relaxed as if her forward motion is effortless.  In short, she is an image of grace moving…sorta like poetry in motion.

Oh, can you tell?  Her Pop-pop loves her!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1913, thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan was found molested and murdered in the basement of the Atlanta, Georgia, pencil factory where she worked. Her murder later led to one of the most disgraceful episodes of bigotry, injustice, and mob violence in American history.

Next to Phagan’s body were two small notes that purported to pin the crime on Newt Lee, the night watchman at the factory. Lee was arrested, but it quickly became evident that the notes were a crude attempt by the barely literate Jim Conley to cover up his own involvement. Conley was the factory’s janitor, a black man, and a well-known drunk.

Conley then decided to shift the blame toward Leo Frank, the Jewish owner of the factory. Despite the absurdity of Conley’s claims, they nevertheless took hold. The case’s prosecutor was Hugh Dorsey, a notorious bigot and friend of Georgia’s populist leader, Tom Watson. Reportedly, Watson told Dorsey, “Hell, we can lynch a n——- anytime in Georgia, but when do we get the chance to hang a Yankee Jew?”

Frank was tried by Judge Leonard Roan, who allowed the blatantly unfair trial to go forward even after he was privately informed by Conley’s attorney that Conley had admitted to Frank’s innocence on more than one occasion. The trial was packed with Watson’s followers and readers of his racist newspaper, Jeffersonian. The jury was terrorized into a conviction despite the complete lack of evidence against Frank.

Georgia governor John Slaton initiated his own investigation and quickly concluded that Frank was completely innocent. Three weeks before his term ended, Slaton commuted Frank’s death sentence in the hope that he would eventually be freed when the publicity died down. However, Watson had other plans: He mobilized his supporters to form the Knights of Mary Phagan. Thousands of Jewish residents in Atlanta were forced to flee the city because police refused to stop the lynch mob.

The Knights of Mary Phagan then made their way to the prison farm where Frank was incarcerated. They handcuffed the warden and the guards and abducted Frank, bringing him to Marietta, Phagan’s hometown. There he was hanged to death from a giant oak tree. Thousands of spectators came to watch and have their picture taken in front of his lifeless body. The police did nothing to stop the spectacle.

Although most of the country was outraged and horrified by the lynching, Watson remained very popular in Georgia. In fact, he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1920.

Frank did not receive a posthumous pardon until 1986, on the grounds that his lynching deprived him of his right to appeal his conviction.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: The federal form 1040 was introduced in 1913 and was required of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents with a net income of $3,000 or more for the taxable year. It consisted of just three pages.

…Blessed Reminders

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I will admit it.  I have a tendency to be a “glass half-empty” type of person.  I am quick to see problems.  And I get emotionally involved when people or animals are hurting – physically, spiritually, emotionally – it doesn’t matter.  It disturbs and troubles me.

I read or listen to the news – and there’s not much that is good or edifying on the news these days.  Stories about terrorism at work in parts of the world where men, women and children are being slaughtered remorselessly and ruthlessly – heads hacked off, shot and brutalized.  I don’t get it.  But it gets me…and it makes me very sad and somewhat despondent at times.

So, it is important for me to be reminded every so often that there are beautiful things in this world.  Flowers, mountains, sunsets, puppies and bunnies, sunrises, a full moon glittering on the water, a warm and gentle breeze, the touch of a hand, fall leaves, snow on pines – these all are beautiful things and give me joy.

That which gives me the greatest joy and are the very best reminders that there is wonder and beauty all around, though, is my family…and now in my sunset years, especially the faces of my grand children!!!  Oh, how I love them so!!!  Every single one is so incredibly precious to me!  And when you see a face like the one in today’s photo of my two youngest grand daughters (even with missing teeth!) – who have some of my blood flowing in their veins – I am reminded that life is worth living and fighting for…because there is beauty in this world that is undeniable.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1943 in Basel, Switzerland, Albert Hoffman, a Swiss chemist working at the Sandoz pharmaceutical research laboratory, accidentally consumes LSD-25, a synthetic drug he had created in 1938 as part of his research into the medicinal value of lysergic acid compounds. After taking the drug, formally known as lysergic acid diethylamide, Dr. Hoffman was disturbed by unusual sensations and hallucinations. In his notes, he related the experience:

“Last Friday, April 16, 1943, I was forced to interrupt my work in the laboratory in the middle of the afternoon and proceed home, being affected by a remarkable restlessness, combined with a slight dizziness. At home I lay down and sank into a not unpleasant, intoxicated-like condition characterized by an extremely stimulated imagination. In a dreamlike state, with eyes closed (I found the daylight to be unpleasantly glaring), I perceived an uninterrupted stream of fantastic pictures, extraordinary shapes with intense, kaleidoscopic play of colors. After some two hours this condition faded away.”

After intentionally taking the drug again to confirm that it had caused this strange physical and mental state, Dr. Hoffman published a report announcing his discovery, and so LSD made its entry into the world as a hallucinogenic drug. Widespread use of the so-called “mind-expanding” drug did not begin until the 1960s, when counterculture figures such as Albert M. Hubbard, Timothy Leary, and Ken Kesey publicly expounded on the benefits of using LSD as a recreational drug. The manufacture, sale, possession, and use of LSD, known to cause negative reactions in some of those who take it, were made illegal in the United States in 1965.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  During WWI, the Germans released about 68,000 tons of gas, and the British and French released 51,000 tons. In total, 1,200,000 soldiers on both sides were gassed, of which 91,198 died horrible deaths.

Only a Mother Could Love

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Can we agree on something? Some things are just plain ugly. It has been said that the warthog is perhaps the ugliest animal on earth. I somehow doubt that a mother warthog would feel that way, but the rest of us might.

There is a saying that goes like this: “That’s a face that only a mother could love.” It’s meant to be derogatory…and sometimes it is spoken to elicit a laugh. But being ugly is no laughing matter.

What is ugly after all?  If “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, why don’t we feel the same way about ugliness?  Isn’t what is ugly to one person likely to be beautiful to another?

I took the picture of a flamingo that is featured today last Saturday at the Atlanta zoo.  I’d not realized what hooked beaks they have, nor how tiny the pupils of their eyes are.  Many would look at this creature and say it’s ugly. Others would look at it and think it is beautiful in its own peculiar way.  Certainly, if one were to look at the rest of its beautifully colored plumage, very few would say it is ugly. Ugliness may also be simply a matter of what we choose to focus on.  We all have ugly parts to us physically and in every other way, too. And we all have beauty as well.

A face only a mother could love?  Well, isn’t that part of what being a mother is…loving her offspring unconditionally? We would all do well to learn to love like that….

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  Though American drive-in movie theaters had their golden era in the ’50’s, some Floridians watched movies under the stars in their cars before then: Miami got its first drive-in on this day in 1938. The drive-in charged 35 cents per person, more than the average ticket price at an indoor theater, and soon had to trim the price to 25 cents per person.

America’s first-ever drive-in opened near Camden, NJ, on June 6, 1933, the brainchild of Richard Hollingshead, whose family owned an auto parts company. The inaugural feature was a 1932 film called “Wives Beware,” and admission was 25 cents per car and an additional 25 cents per person. The sound for the movies was provided by three large RCA speakers next to the main screen.

Following  WW2, the popularity of drive-in theaters increased. By the early 1950s, there were more than 800 drive-ins across the US.  Though they had a reputation as “passion pits” for young couples seeking privacy, most drive-in customers were families (parents didn’t have to hire babysitters or get dressed up and their children could wear pajamas and sleep in the car) and often featured playgrounds, concession stands and other attractions. Some drive-ins were super-sized, including Detroit’s Bel Air Drive-In, built in 1950, which had room for more than 2,000 cars, and Baltimore’s Bengies Drive-In, which opened in 1956, and claimed the biggest movie screen in the U.S.: 52 feet high by 100 feet wide. Over the years, attempts were made to develop a daytime screen that would enable drive-ins to show movies before it got dark, but nothing proved successful.

At their peak in the late ’50s and early ’60s, there were some 4,000 drive-ins across America. However, during the next two decades the drive-in industry declined and theaters shut down, due to such factors as rising real-estate values (which made selling the land for redevelopment more profitable than continuing to operate it as a drive-in) and the rise of other entertainment options, including video recorders, multiplex theaters and cable television. By 1990, there were around 1,000 U.S. drive-ins. Today, they number less than 400 (states with the most remaining drive-ins include Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.

New Jersey has the distinction of being the home of not just the first drive-in but also the first fly-in theater. In June 1948, Ed Brown’s Drive-In and Fly-In opened in Wall Township and had space for 500 cars and 25 planes.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  Falling dreams typically occur at the beginning of the night, in Stage I sleep. These dreams are often accompanied by muscle spasms, called myoclonic jerks, and are common in many mammals.

On Second Look

We often fall victim to first impressions.  We will go to a town and form an impression of the place and inhabitants based on a very brief glance.  Our quick impressions may be heavily influenced by our prejudices and pre-conceived ideas.

Art in museums is the same way.  Especially abstract art.  Everyone looks at it and forms a different opinion.  (I don’t care for much of what passes as modern, abstract art, by the way.  I like things that I can recognize!!!)

It is easy to look at something and think it is ugly or not of any redeeming value.  For example, let me throw out a few words for you and see how you react:

Junkyard

Rattlesnake

Desert

Dirty dishes

Burned trees

Dandelion

If you want, feel free to share with me your reaction to those words.  Now, let me try to make a point.  Most of my life I have taken dead dandelions for granted.  You know what I mean, the kind with the puff-ball, feathery floaty-type things that blow off in the wind.  Now, I’m beginning to change my mind.

When we went to Mendocino, there in the street, pushing up through the asphalt, was a dandelion, fighting for life.  It caught my eye and I shot it.  Look at this picture.  See the perfect shape of the circle of floaty-things (I guess they’re seeds).

Junkyards are GREAT places to take pictures because of the colors, textures, corroded metals, etc.  Even deserts (of which I am not fond) are beautiful in their own way.

So are the people we tend to meet.  At first glance, they may not look like much and may not impress us much.  But upon closer introspection, I suspect we can find something beautiful in nearly everyone.  We just need to try harder to see that beauty!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1519, Ferdinand Magellan left Spain with a fleet of five ships in an attempt to circumnavigate the world.  Only one, the Victoria, completed the journey.  Magellan himself was killed in a skirmish in the Philippines.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: the word “serendipity” comes from the title of a book, The Three Princes of Seredip.  Serendip was located in Ceylon.

 

Floating Blossoms

At the first hotel where we stayed after arriving in India, there was a fountain located in the lobby.  It was a large white marble structure, bowl-shaped, filled with water and decorated with flowers, leaves and palm strands.  It was beautiful and I haven’t seen any pictures of it that I think really do it justice.

But, being me, I took some myself, and they, too, failed to do it justice.  Perhaps part of the reason is that you can’t hear the gurgling of the water as it spilled out of the top part of the fountain to the larger pool below.

The Indian people do seem to appreciate beauty, whether it’s in their clothing or in art.  They love color!

The next morning when I came down to the lobby, there was a man there who was putting fresh leaves, palm strands and blossoms into the top part of the fountain.  He was very meticulous in his work: making sure the spacing was right between the strands of palm leaf, that the blossoms that float on the surface of the water were “just so”.  It was fun to watch him work his art.

Here’s one of my pictures of a small portion of the fountain:

Floating blossoms, palm fronds and leaves

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1945, representatives from the US, Great Britain and China, meeting in Potsdam, Germany, issued the “Potsdam Declaration” calling upon imperial Japan to surrender.  The Japanese emperor refused.  Sadly, tragically, that refusal led to the horrific events of early August, 1945, when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were smitten with atomic bombs.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: a geoduck is not a breed of duck.  It is a species of large clam.

Where One Journey Ends

Well, I’m back.  At least my body is back.  Not sure my mental acuity is all that sharp given my jet lag.  But I’m home safe and sound…so a proper shout out to all who wished me well on the trip and those who were praying for health and safety, too.

On my trip, I shot over 1000 photos and have a bit of work yet to do on some of them.  Normally (for those of you who are inclined to this sort of thing) I shoot RAW with my Canon  EOS 7D because you get better pictures in the long run than shooting JPG images.  But, because I knew I’d be taking tons of pictures and that I’d not have time to keep up with the conversion work from RAW to JPG, I shot mostly in JPG format during my trip.  That’s my excuse if the quality of these pictures isn’t quite as good as ones I shoot in RAW.

This picture is illustrative of the journey in some ways.  India is a land of stark contrasts.  It is both beautiful beyond description, yet other aspects of it are ugly beyond words.  In the coming days/weeks, I’ll share a lot of pictures from my journey that show both parts of the India that I experienced.  I realize that one week does not make one an expert on a foreign culture so I don’t claim to be an expert, but I will share my perceptions and those of my traveling companions.

I thought, however, that I’d start off with a beautiful picture.  I’ll probably alternate between pictures of good things, pictures of bad things, and “artsy” pictures just to break up the monotony from day to day.

I took this picture in Bangalore (or Bengaluru, the more ancient name which is being revived) inside a school cafeteria where we ate lunch.  Some presentations were made, and afterward, I turned around and saw this beautiful floral arrangement.  One thing that India does not lack for is C..O..L..O..R.  Even in the most forbidding and ugly slums, you see women wearing beautiful saris, tunics and scarves.  The clothing of the women is spectacular in terms the colors…and somehow, in the midst of the oppressive heat, sweat and filth of the slums, they manage to have clean clothing – perhaps as a last vestige of dignity.

There is much beauty in India…and to my way of thinking, the greatest beauty you will see there is in the faces of the people themselves!  But for today, this picture will suffice to introduce you to the subject matter of….India!

A floral arrangement in Bangalore (Bengaluru)

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1876, General George Custer led his men into a massacre in the battle that was to be called “Little Big Horn.”  Apparently believing the press about his prowess in battle, he arrogantly led a small group of cavalry against a massively superior force…and Custer and his men all died.  His horse, Comanche, survived the battle and became the inspiration for a folk song made popular by Johnny Horton.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: it is improper in Japan for a woman to go to a high-powered business meeting wearing a pantsuit.

Fascination of the Ancient

What is it about old things that are so interesting?  I think that they let our imaginations run wild with all sort of “What if’s…” and “I wonder’s…”  Old things, in my opinion, are just cool (maybe I think that because I’m getting “old” myself and I want to still think that I’m cool, too!)

One of the old things that I find most fascinating is old wood.  Some old wood is exquisitely finished and has been maintained for years, even centuries.  At other times, the wood has been left to its own defenses against exposure and weather.  Such is the case with today’s photo.  Yes, some of the wood has obviously rotted away and is long gone, but what’s left still has textures and even swirls from the blade that cut it.  And there is a mossy type of plant that has attached itself to the surface of the wood.

What is it about old wood that is so interesting?  Maybe it’s just the promise that as things get older, they don’t necessarily lose their beauty and usefulness – those things may change and be different than when the wood was first cut, but don’t you like the idea that old doesn’t mean ugly and useless?  In fact, some things are infinitely better with age and time: love, relationships are dearer, contentment and satisfaction grow when one can look back at life and see that in spite of all the ups and downs, there were more up times than down times, and that it was all worth the living.

Old things can be beautiful

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1935, the “Call Bulletin” from San Francisco, became the first newspaper to print a full-sized picture of a human being.  Larry Quinn, a 2-day old baby, was the subject.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  mussels can live in very polluted water because they can purify bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Up Close and Personal

Yesterday I share a photo of a flower that was close enough so that you could see the imperfections in the petals and talked about how that was like people: the closer you get, the more of them becomes clearly visible.  From a distance, all may look great…but when you get close, you begin to see flaws.  But, at the same time, if you don’t get closer, you will never be able to enjoy the fragrance of the flower (or the beautiful aspects of people).  I promise that I’d post a macro shot of the same flower, so that’s what you’re getting today.

This is the center of the same flower…do you see the beauty and mystery that would not have been visible without really getting VERY up close and personal?  Maybe this is the lesson here: from a distance you don’t see the flaws, from closer you do, but if you get close enough, there is enough beauty and mystery that once again, you don’t see the flaws so much! Maybe people give up on one another too soon…they like what they see from far away, move closer, but never really get close enough to see the real person – and they miss all the beauty that is there and awaits those who have the patience to get close enough to really SEE them in all their wonder!

If only people could get that close…and appreciate the beauty we do see and ignore the flaws.

You gotta get up close and personal...

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1928, Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming discovered the antibiotic effect of penicillin mold.  His discovery save countless lives.  He received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945 for  his work.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: at full speed, kittens can  hit 31 miles per hour and cover over 3 times their body length in a single bound!