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FP & Explore # 406... May 19, 2009


"Friendship makes prosperity more shining and lessens adversity by dividing and sharing it."

~ Cicero

(January 3, 106 BC – December 7, 43 BC)


When something wonderful happens to us, it may not seem real until we can tell our friends about it. Their happiness for us deepens and intensifies our pleasure.


When something bad happens to us, we search out our friends for comfort, understanding and assurance. Their sympathy eases our pain and gives us hope.


Knowing how much friendship means to us, how can we be better friends to others in their times of prosperity and adversity? I am going to try to be the best friend I can be to the people who bring so much into my life....beginning with some long overdue testimonials I need to write. I have procrastinated long enough!


Here's an interesting tidbit about rhododendrons: The world "Rhododendron" comes from the Greek words: rhodos, "rose", and dendron, "tree".


Oh.... one more thing.... has anybody had experience with Getty Images thru Flickr? They are interested in 14 of my photos.... and I'm not sure about all this... it's new to me! Please flickr mail me if you have any info regarding this.... Thanks!


Have a wonderful Tuesday, my dear friends! ♥

Such a scary shoot! LOL. I was laying underneath the swing, and felt like she was going to kick my camera every time she flew by. I'm glad we did this though, I like the way it came out.

# 23 of the "It's a kind of magic" series.



After the amazing contest many of the male members would like to see it again, but it is time to find a good place to sleep.


Knight Zeisy "Ahhh look, this must be a sign. The perfect place to sleep!"

Knight George "A sign? It's only dandelion."

Knight Zeisy "No it's a sign from the great wizzard Peter Lustig!" (German readers know what I'm talking about! :-)


BTW No, I will not tell who is our new princess [you know that you are the one and only princess, honey] :-)



Just a dandelion.

Canon EOS400D. This is no HDR, only CS4





Thanks for all your comments!


View my Photos on darckR or flickriver


View on black


Merry Christmas everyone!!!





Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. "I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.


Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.


He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"


"No," they answered.


He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.


"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."


Bible Verses:

John 21:2-6

Mark 1:17

9" x 12"

Arches 140#CP


My sisters tell me they had 10" of rain the day I was to arrive - and the party went off well despite the soaking conditions. I tried to cheer myself with some thoughts of sunshine and flowers -

I have a date with the weeds today - the recent bits of rain have given them a strangle hold on the flowers, so today the battle will be fought. It's also time to collect the prodigious amount of seeds produced by my coneflowers, blanket flowers and more and spread them around the property.


We've been collecting the seedheads of Queen Anne's lace for dispersal during some of our walks, and I've ordered a number of packages of poppy seeds to scatter along with the others. This ''Johnny Apple Seed" approach to my front garden is most enjoyable ---! LOL Yesterday I came across dozens of fruits on the Passion Flower vine that also surprised me this year. Once those fruits ripen, I'll make some jam from them. They're very tart and lemony - and are quite like pomagranate seeds. And I found several new zinnias just opening ...One thing about this seed-sowing business, it's always a surprise what grows -- as well as what doesn't ...


Hope your day is wonderful! Our temps have cooled to the mid 80s! Feels like fall!




As we sat there in each other's arms.... watching the last rays of the golden sun dipping towards the darkening horizon... I couldn't help thinking that I finally came to the same realization that my good friend Deva did some time ago... there is no denying true love... you may try to run away from it and find happiness with others... or you may tell yourself that it never really existed... however... in reality its did and does exist. We can either give ourselves over to it willingly and enjoy our happy days together or we keep asking ourselves "what else is out there" and just pretend that we are blind to the one true fact... that what we really want and what makes us truly happy is right there before us... and if we stop for one moment we may just realize that it... that she... has been right there waiting for me to come to my senses. Thanks Daisy for waiting... I love you.

It's late summer, and the sun is going down for the night. Sometimes, wind, clouds, humidity and dust, get mixed up in the atmosphere in just the right amounts, and we get treated to a long, languid, blood red and orange descent into the deep purple and midnight blue of night's darkness. - Endless Summer, Chieli Minucci.


Most times I fish until it is too dark to see. But when I get teased with the possibility of a sunset such as this, I pack it in early on the fishing, go straight to the car, and start driving west. I can't catch up to a sunset - not without warp drive - but I can drive straight into it, trying to chase it down like a cheetah on a gazelle. Perhaps I can make one minute of fading light and changing color last for two minutes, maybe even three. What should take the sun and the curve of the earth 20 minutes to do, I hope to drag out to 40 by flat out hauling ass and driving straight into it.


Eventually though, sunset outruns me and a dark shroud cloaks the landscape. It is usually a good chase, but, as we've been told many times, "you gotta' know when to fold 'em." Take my foot off the gas, slow down, breathe. Looking at the odometer, I can see my westbound, sunset rundown put me an extra hour away from home. But time spent wanderin' on the road, camera and fishin' gear at hand, always beats gettin' home early. I'll get there when I get there. If not, well that's what credit cards and lonely, out-of-the-way, off-the-beaten-track motels are for. Such a gift it is, to have such feelings of freedom open to one. Not everyone does.


As you dig into the back-roads of Illinois, the land changes over from city to 'burbs to farm country. In summer, you can drive with the windows down, hot air blowin’ in, and mini-dust devils forming on the dash. Sometimes, I like to sing when I'm drivin' around like this. Loudly. It's cool as animals have neither hands to cover their ears nor thumbs to turn down on you. They can't roll their eyes at my fractured notes either, although a few have been known to hiss, growl and howl at my efforts.


There are big `ole bugs on these back roads - bigger than anything we have in the City. You catch them briefly in your headlights, just moments before they go “thunk - splat - and - spread” across the windshield. They'll do this on your forehead as well should you be silly enough stick it out the window while you're driving 60. Dogs and kids love to stick their heads out the windows of moving cars, mouths and noses open to inhale the wind. Secretly, so do many men (especially if we're driving alone or seriously soused). I've eaten more than a few bugs this way. I call them "throat-ticklers."


Come dusk the air gets thick with clouds of gnats, dragonflies and damselflies, mayflies and caddisflies, fireflies and ladybugs; apparently, houseflies have some company out here. Animals - big, untethered ones - wander about in darkening fields. It seems that our urban leash-laws haven't a place out here. (It's amazing that 400-pound beasts in the country are more amenable to human orders than city-bred 20-pound, yip-yapping, ankle-biting dogs back in town who desperately run amok when lucky enough to get out the damn house.)


It smells different out here, on these two lane, blacktop roads. It smells like earth (quite different than our city dirt) It smells like animals too...and like heaven. "Aaaah," you think, "it's the smells of the City that are actually odd...foreign...not these." As you drive past the occasional home or through small towns, if people are out and about, they’ll watch you drive by - their gazes a mix of curious and suspicious - but if you wave, they’ll usually wave back.


Sometimes I hear the drone of aircraft. Up in the sky, I might catch sight of one of those little single-engine, bi-wing, crop dusters. Whether fishing or driving I always hope they are still working the skies as the sun goes down. I am captivated by them. With their engines droning and groaning, they writhe about the sky, twisting, turning, swooping, diving and climbing with what looks to be reckless, joyous abandon, I think to myself, "now THAT is flying. Although I have a fear of heights and don't like big commercial airplanes, in those little machines, I feel like what I imagine birds might feel (or Angels on-the-wing being giddy after a few sips of wine too many).


I was only 52 miles south and west of home, cruising through a patchwork quilt of mature corn, soybean and sugar beet farmland, just south and west of the Kankakee River State Park. Felt like I was farther away than that.


Sometimes I pretend I'm lost and can't find my way back home (its fun to play mind games like that with myself - and I feel no need to justify why I do it). But being lost means I gotta' stay in some small town, get a meal at a local diner, buy a malt at the ice cream parlor, and then catch a late-evening softball game under night lights swarming with bugs at the town's baseball field.


I can pick up the trail to home again in the morning.


Yeah, sometimes, you just gotta’ get out of the city, and find something else to look at; something else to smell; something else to hear; something else to feel.


Sometimes, that feels....pretty damn good.


We were headed to another location this night until I realised we were not going to make it there in time, so I told my husband "just get me to the water!" and this is what I manged to get :-)

My imagination has saved my life many times. Instead of giving in to whatever is going on around me – things that may not be positive, sunny, sane or good for the mind, body and soul – my mind has always been able to wander off, sail off or fly off – and find other places to be, even when I couldn’t physically be there. Places where it was positive, and sunny and good. ~ View On Black


If the body can't leave, then just being elsewhere in spirit is enough. Sometimes it has to be. ~ “Azure Skies”, Darshan Ambient


The land, shore, water and sky of Lake Michigan are one such place to visit when one needs to be emotionally, mentally or spiritually away – camera in hand or not.


Strong northeast winds of winter blow huge waves of frigid Lake Michigan water onto our man-made rock shoreline from December through February. Ice formations, up to six-feet deep and up to a mile in length, form along our 25+ miles of breakwalls. And no effort is made to get rid of them. “Nature puts them up, nature will take them down,” it is said. Allow each season to be its own season: I like that kind of thought.


I like wind and storm and wave. So I go out here, to be somewhere else in my being. There is some danger to be sure – it is isolated and if you take a slip and a fall, you are on your own (I tell fellow travelers to wear bright colors; it makes finding the body easier :-) ). But, it is not so risky as to make the hazards outweigh the reward of seeing, hearing, feeling and smelling what such locations have to offer the senses and the spirit.


I call these ice formations, "Chicago’s Glaciers." They look like glaciers in my imagination; in shape, size, color, and the way they snake around the existing environment. In Zen, the ability to see everything, and anything, in fresh and wonderful ways is called “a child’s mind.”


Children see endless possibilities, where adults see only a few, or one, or none. It takes time and work and practice and desire to retrieve one's "Child's Mind," but it is worth the effort.


Anyway, Chicago’s Glaciers pile up over the course of the winter, gaining depth with each new storm and freeze. Then with the coming of spring, their “fields of icy snowpack begin a slow retreat back up the fjord." The debris they leave behind as well as the alternately coarse and subtle changes to the landscape cut by their ice, becomes evident and evidence; available for curious minds to discover, analyze and savor.


Above, a red-tailed hawk circles low to the land, slipping the surface on currents of air, banking in on another pass, looking for any unfortunately exposed, early-season rodents on the scurry (there is as yet, no ground cover in which to hide). Both predator and prey are hoping to find bits and pieces to eat after winter's cupboards have long fallen bare.


Low rise clouds, thickening and gathering moisture on southerly winds, roil low and fast overhead, a gaping yawn of churning mist and water vapor that extends to the horizon. These clouds portend spring’s rain, not winter’s snow.


The retreating ice reveals a mouse or two, perhaps a pigeon or a gull – the unlucky ones or the old; mushed and crushed, skin leathery and slightly mummified, after months sealed under the weight of snow and ice. However, these are not a fresh kills – thus they are only fit to eat were a predator starving. The Hawk ignores them.


Each little world, such as the ones at your feet, not always the one over the horizon, is our own little National Geographic mini-series documentary special on "The Wonder of Nature" in our everyday lives.


At least, I like to imagine it so.


Textures courtesy skeletalmess:


And flypaper textures:


"The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don't go back to sleep."

.:: Mevlana Rumi ::.


While on holidays on Agistri (Greece), waking up at 5:30 to see the sun rising behind Aegina was truly worth it.


The colors that fill the sky are inspirational and never cease to take our breath away. In many ways, we enjoy a good sunrise more than sunset. It's a magical time of day: everything is really calm and peaceful, not much is going on yet, not many people are up and about... it almost feels like the sun is rising just for you! ♥


♪ ♫ Morning Has Broken by Cat Stevens ♫ ♪


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Copyright © Kia & Zeno. All rights reserved.

No usage allowed in any form without our written explicit permission.

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"Dreams are real while they last. Can we say more of life?"

-Henry Havelock Ellis


Hello to my dear Flickrites! I apologize for not being around lately. I have started work again and my time is getting all used up! However, I was on the way home from work the other day and I happened to look in the mirror and saw these strange shapes. I was already late for a meet with Penny and Kyeti but I told myself it would just be for a few minutes (it's a good thing that I am so gullible...) Anyway, this sky and the reflection are untouched by PS (really!).


I used my IR-converted camera and and added some color (well... OK... and I also got a bit wet laying in that water! :)) but that sky is just as it appeared. Pretty cool.


Now about that bit of color - I want to thank Katrin Ray for her lovely generosity in allowing me to use her image. Thank you, Katrin!


Cheers to you all. Your Pal. -Mark



Early training!


One of our nephews came by this weekend to spend time with the family since we hadn't seen 'em in a while. (Sort of a small family reunion) He brought along his two boys...


Soon after the initial hello and formalities, we told one of the youngsters to relax and play out with his cousins, while the grownups visited and chilled. He did eventually but not before he checked things out. He looked around and after noticing my brother and I wearing our cowboy boots...He'll looked at his dad with sort of a question mark on his face....Hummm (He'll look at mine or my brother's boots and go back look at his dad's shoes...noticing his father was not wearing boots...he'll come back and point to mine and asked his dad "What are these" his dad of course told 'im we worked in a ranch and was it part of our working gear) He was not very convinced....He looked around for a while and came back wearing a pair of boots belonging to my sister in law...We all started to laugh and he was laughing right along w/us, all the while he pointed at his newly found "shoes" as he called 'em...


Children are so much fun! Keep us young...


Guess it is true! We are a product of our surroundings. Nothing like an early start my brother told our nephew...Teach Your Children



"It had been three weeks since the cows busted out."


"And the bull, Mother. Don't forget the bull."


"Right. The bull." Mother shook her head and took a long drag on her smoke. It was hand rolled, filterless, soft and slightly limp. Curly brown bits of tobacco stuck to her lipstick. Now and then she'd spit them off, towards the floor, with a little p-choo sound.


"How could I forget the bull. It never would've happened without him. Things like that don't happen by accident you know. They take..." she laughed, and the laugh turned into a hoarse cough. When she recovered, she laughed again and said, "They take balls!"


"So," the reporter asked, "what exactly happened?"


"Well," said Mother. "Like I said, they busted out."


"We think it was the bull's fault," the son said quietly.


"Indeed," said Mother. "Someone busted right through that rail fence, and I just can't believe our girls would do anything that violent."


The reporter looked skeptical. She had heard the stories; had heard all about the Mother's cows and what they'd done.


"I mean," said Mother. "I mean I can't imagine our girls doing anything violent like that to a non-living thing. To just rush a fence like that... and destroy it. It's just not..." she took another long drag, "just not in the Jersey psyche."


Jerseys, Mother continued, were the most beautiful cows of all - both aesthetically and in their dispositions. "Look into those big brown eyes and tell me if you see violence," she challenged. "It's just not there. They don't have it in them. And yet..." she trailed off, stubbed out her smoke and starting rolling another one.


"Okay then," the reporter said, squirming a bit in her chair. "What about the children then? How do you explain it?"


Mother and son exchanged a look. "Self defence," replied the mother. "I got nothing against children." She gestured to the son. "I raised this one, didn't I?"


The son blushed and looked at his lap. "Them town kids are different," he said.


"That's right!" Mother slammed one hand on the kitchen table. "Town kids." She spit towards the floor. "Good for nothing. They don't know. They don't understand. They don't..." and here she leaned in close, breathing smoky, fetid, toothless breath in the reporter's face... "They. Don't. Appreciate."


Images of children in bank vaults, sitting idly, not earning interest, flashed through the reporter's head and for a fleeting instant she almost laughed. Mother didn't notice, and continued with her story.


"Those town kids. They think food comes from the Safeway. They have no respect. No respect at all for other living creatures. Do you know what they were doing that night? Did you hear? Did you get THAT from your sources?" And she sneered. The local media had, for weeks now, been running stories built on fear and innuendo... quoting so-called anonymous sources. The children had been trampled. The children had been eaten. The children had been regurgitated and rechewed, like so much cud. Bones - small, child sized bones - had been found in the manure pile.


All of this was, in fact, true. But Mother wasn't about to admit it. "Do you know what those kids were doing?" she asked again.


"They came across the cows in the graveyard."


"And the bull," said the son. "Don't forget the bull."


"Right," said the Mother. "They came across the cows - and the bull - in the graveyard. And they..." She started sobbing. "They sexually abused them!"


That too, was true. The children - mostly boys - had poked long pointed sticks into the cows from behind. And then tried inserting many other, various things... including bits of their own anatomy. This was known because certain bits of certain boys had remained in situ, once it was all over.


"We can only reckon what happened after that, but it seems to me the bull took exception." Mother shrugged. Sighed. Wiped at her tears with big rough hands. Things had been so difficult since the incident with the children. "We think it must've been the bull who turned the whole event on its ear," she said. "Attackers becoming the attacked. Like that." And she stood and walked away from the table.


"What about...?" the reporter wanted details, wanted something new.


But Mother stood at the kitchen sink, looking out the window and announced, "I'm sorry. The interview is over."


The reporter stood, gathered her things and couldn't help feeling... in spite of it all.... empathy for the old woman. She'd lost her herd; lost her livelihood; was now reviled by an entire community... and, on top of that, was facing a string of civil lawsuits brought by the families of the dead children. Was it really her fault that a fence broke? That cattle got loose? And that children interfered with them? Surely the cattle's unexpected reaction wasn't the old woman's doing.


Mother watched the reporter drive away; felt relief as the sound of the car dimmed in the distance. Gentle lowing rose up from the basement, and the Mother smiled.


"Come on, son. Grab those chops. It's time to tend our girl."


And down the stairs they went together, arms full of raw meat, to feed the little Jersey calf who'd slipped out... born prematurely in the chaos of the court-ordered round-up and slaughter of Mother's herd. She and the son had spirited the calf away, wrapped in blankets and hidden under brush on the trailer they were using to haul off the carcasses.


Now they knelt in front of the little heifer's makeshift stall in the basement, and fed her strips of raw pork, raw chicken, raw beef. The heifer opened wide, and showed her little pointed teeth. Carnivorous teeth. No grass or hay for this girl.


And when she was old enough, she would be inseminated. Mother had the big aggressive, breakout bull's semen stashed in vials in the freezer. It would be the start of a whole new herd... and a whole new way of life.


"...We know days pass away because we're told.We lie alone and sense the reeling earth.(You whisper in my ear it has some worth)And I lean near to keep you from the cold.There are so many things that must be told.I speak of lost regimes and distant times,And mooneyed children prophesying doom,And afternoons of rain spun into rhyme.(The patter of the rainfall marks our time)As does the waning moon. Or muted sun.As do the nodding gods who ride the sea.For even now, alone and still with me, You sense the bonds that cannot be undone:Our pulse is in the rain and moon and sun,We take our breaths together and are one"~ Richard Farina

A beautiful color scheme makes any home a buyer’s favorite. Image: Wayfair


When getting your home ready to sell on a busy market, it may not make sense to take on big home improvement projects. Once you’re confident that your home does not need any major repairs that will stop a buyer’s home inspection, you can focus on easy updates to make your home more appealing. Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom might be out of your budget or time frame, but there are still plenty of small updates you can make in key areas to get your home ready to sell.

Five ways to wow potential buyers

To impress potential buyers, there are five specific areas of your home to focus your decorating efforts. Don’t worry — these quick updates are not expensive. If you already hired a real estate professional, they can help determine your probable buyer and local comps. This lets you tailor your update budget to the local market. Here are the top (quick) updates for your five high-impact areas:

Update your curb appeal

Don’t forget to update your curb appeal when selling your home. Image: Highland Homes


What your potential buyers see when they view your home online or drive up outside can determine the success of your showings. First impressions really do count in real estate. Increase your curb appeal with a few simple changes.

Remove clutter: It’s easy to walk right by outdoor clutter if it’s been there for a while. Clear your yard and porch of items like old shoes, dead plants or gardening tools. This is a great time to pressure wash everything, including your driveway and porch.

Update accessories: A new doormat is an inexpensive and quick update for your porch. Is it time for a new wreath, or to add one for the first time? Tired or out-of-season decor makes buyers think that your home has been on the market a while. Keep accessories timeless so that your photos won’t look dated if a holiday passes while you get your home ready to sell.

Add accessories: Porches need accessories to appeal to buyers. You don’t have to go overboard — we love the look of a simple front door wreath and two or three colorful potted plants. Think of them like jewelry; the idea is to enhance your home, not overpower it.

Paint your door: This is a bit more involved, but a nicely-painted front door is a buyer favorite. A beautiful front door is an important part of your home’s exterior charm and a complement to your accessories.

Create a warm welcome in your foyer

Make the most of your potential buyer’s first impression with a foyer update. Image: JCD Custom Homes


Once potential buyers step inside the front door, it’s time to deliver on the promise of your beautiful curb appeal. Even if your home doesn’t have a dedicated foyer, there are simple updates to make it feel like more than a pass-through space. You won’t need to spend a lot of time and money on your foyer, but a welcoming entrance is very important to the buyer’s experience. Here are a few tips to get the most out of your entryway.

Declutter: Like most home seller to-do lists, decluttering is a priority for every area of your home. Foyers are often cluttered with mail, shoes and jackets that people drop when they walk in the door. When getting your home ready to sell, add a few baskets or hooks to catch the inevitable clutter. This makes a great impression.

Add art or a mirror: Whether you have a foyer or just a simple entryway, wall art creates a definition of space. Mirrors can open up and brighten a smaller foyer. A table or shelf beneath any wall art is another quick upgrade for your foyer and the prefect place for a colorful accessory or two.

Make room for a bench: Putting a bench, with space for shoes beneath it, near the front door can be a major hit with buyers. A dedicated space to remove shoes when entering tells buyers that you cared about your home and took good care of it.

Update your kitchen without remodeling

Pops of color complete this beautiful and neutral kitchen. Image: The Kitchen Studio


You might have heard that kitchens sell homes, and it’s true! Your kitchen will be the most important room in the house when it comes to home buyers. A full kitchen remodel isn’t always possible when putting your home on the market. Luckily, there are easy ways to get an updated look that buyers will love.

Update your cabinet hardware: Tired or outdated hardware can age your kitchen. Replacing all of your cabinet and drawer pulls is like a facelift for your cabinets. Oil-rubbed bronze and brushed nickel are still the top choice for home buyers, and are also the most affordable.

Add a tile backsplash in a hurry: A quick way to add a backsplash without the mess and expense of remodeling is with adhesive tile mosaics. You can find almost any tile look you want in this tile application. It’s a great solution for low to mid-range priced homes or condos.

Refresh your grout: If you already have a tile backsplash, you might need to revitalize the grout. Dirty or outdated grout is a major turn-off for home buyers. Whether it’s a good cleaning or new application of grout, this little detail can go a long way.

Paint your kitchen island: We love the look of a painted kitchen island. This is a clever fix when you don’t want to paint all of your kitchen cabinets. The top colors for painted kitchen islands are navy blue, gray and black.

Easy bathroom updates that buyers love

Get your home ready to sell with a quick bathroom update. Image: Wayfair


Bathrooms can be a big selling point to a home buyer and it’s easy to look past things that need a fix or update when you use a room every day. Even a dated bathroom can benefit from a few simple updates. The key to making sure your bathrooms are buyer-ready is to look at them through fresh eyes. Once you look around your bathrooms objectively, try these easy tips to freshen things up.

Replace your shower curtain: If you have a shower curtain that doesn’t “wow” your visitors, it’s time to replace it. The shower curtain can provide your color inspiration for making other changes to the bathroom. Take a close look at your shower curtain rings as well. If they are outdated or mismatched plastic, replace them with a new set (preferably metal.) 

Invest in linens: One set of towels and a bathroom rug dedicated to showing days is a must-have. This new set of towels is not for everyday use — you’ll be putting these out only on showing and open house days. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on your new bath linens but it’s important that they enhance your bathroom’s color scheme.

Update your mirror: In most model homes, the bathroom mirrors are rectangular and framed with wood  to match the vanity. If your mirror is showing signs of wear, or is hopelessly outdated, upgrading to a new one is a quick and important fix.

Get your home ready to sell with color

Neutral color schemes like this one are popular with home buyers. Image: Ashley Furniture


Does your home have a color scheme? It can be anything from a carefully-designed palette to one or two neutral colors with accents. If you’re planning to paint, consider one soft neutral color throughout your home. One or two accent colors can be added to your neutral color as accessories and linens for a coordinated look. A few adjustments to your existing color scheme can make your home more appealing to buyers. This includes removing items that are distracting or dated. Model homes are also an amazing source of color inspiration for any region — touring one can give you insight into what buyers want in your area.

Add a few of these easy updates to your to-do list to get your home ready to sell with confidence.

The post Get Your Home Ready to Sell with These Easy Updates appeared first on


#DecoratingIdeas, #Homes, #Moving, #realestate

"One must ask children and birds how cherries and strawberries taste." -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


I just love this town! -taking walks and looking up... fun.


(Greetings All,


The other day, I was fortunately enough to spend some time with one of my favorite flickrinos - Brooke (aka Sooper Tramp). We wandered around downtown, did some shooting, found a wonderful alley that I hope to use in an upcoming image, enjoyed lunch, and generally just had a delightful afternoon together. During out little shooting session, I was looking up, as i often do, and found this lone cloud among the artifacts of city living - definitely smile-worthy for me.


Brooke is much more together than I - days ago, she uploaded some pics from that get-together. So now i can, finally, show her that i really was taking photos (and not just making goo-goo-eyes... Well... OK, so maybe i was multi-tasking... ;))


So cheers to you all and cheers to Brooke, too. (stop by and tell I said hey)


your pal in wonderment




"Give me a whisper

And give me a sigh

Give me a kiss before you

tell me goodbye

Don't you take it so hard now

And please don't take it so bad

I'll still be thinking of you

And the times we


And don't you cry tonight

Don't you cry tonight

Don't you cry tonight

There's a heaven above you baby

And don't you cry tonight..."


Gun's and Roses - Don't Cry






Tigrεss... not othεr :p

to be continued... √allys√aliƒε:registered:


"Blizzard" by Fauve" ...


Translation awesome french song...


"I'm asking you if you're

a savage beast or else a saint

But you are the one and the other

and many more things too;

you're infinitely many, the one despising

the one hurting, the one being, the one seeking

and all the others together.

Turn around

Be careless

Not all is fragile

Hear nothing from around you

Because you're sacred, because you're alive

Because the most important thing is not what you are

but what you chose to be.... (oh yeahaaa 01-10)




Do you hear it? Of course you hear it

the murmur; the deafening and permanent murmur,

it has taken over the city and the spirits,

it walks the streets screaming.

The deafening and permanent murmur

like a parasitic noise inside you that consumes you,

that whispers in the ear of everyone "you're no good,

you good for nothing, you'll never be good enough",

that repeats to you "you're like that, or you should be,

nothing would change if you changed. "

The deafening and permanent murmur

that hopes to put you down by shouting:

"Don't try to rewrite history,

you'll never make it it's too late,

it's a done deal, it's imprinted in the memories."

The deafening and continuous murmur

What makes you think there's no redemption

no forgiveness, no deliverance, no remission

and you accept it, you let it in.


Woh woh woh, what are you doing? Stop!

What has gotten into you to do such stuff?

Why are you mistreating yourself like this?

What's wrong?

Talk to me, you know you can tell me everything.

but neh but all you know is bullshit.

Look me in the eyes.

Look at me. Don't give a shit. It's not important.

Me, I find you beautiful,

since the first time I saw you.

Besides, I'm always getting over it.

Moreover what will I do without you?

Moreover what will the universe do without you?

This will never work. It's impossible.

Come on you shouldn't cry! Don't cry because

it will pass I promise, it will pass.

Because we're among those who recover

among those who resist,

among those who believe in miracles;

not among those saying their corpses move

because their feet are kicking

But one day we won't think all these anymore.

we forget everything, as if it had never existed.


What do I have to do

for you to get your shit together

to wipe these shit from your eyes?

You got everything!

You got all the cards!

You got, you got everything! You're too beautiful you bastard!

You son of a bitch! You're killing me! You're killing me a lot!

Along with all the others too,

that are killing me too strongly!

I don't give a shit about the scars, me.

I'm here. I'm ready for everything.

I'm ready to go to hell, I'm carrying you on my back.

I'm taking the blows, look, I'm taking the blows

And you, you're sitting, you planted your ass down!

You refuse to get out of your cell.

But don't you see that I need you?

Don't you see that if you do nothing you serve nothing?

How much longer will this continue?

Will you stand alongside the rails

like a cow staring at the train?

Until you can't anymore or

or till they put you in a wooden box?

Stop your smirk! That smirk there is stinking failure!

Come on give me back that dad smile

but form another point of view you're right,

it's so much easier to smile,

rather than being happy.


You're asking yourself if you're

a savage beast or else a saint

But you are the one and the other

and many more things too;

you're infinitely many, the one despising

the one hurting, the one being, the one seeking

and all the others together.

Turn around

Be careless

Not all is fragile

Hear nothing from around you

Because you're sacred, because you're alive

Because the most important thing is not what you are

but what you chose to be


Do you hear us yo Blizzard? Do you hear us?

If you're hearing us, go fuck yourself.

Did you think you were going to have us huh?

Did you think we haven't seen anything?

Surprise asshole!

Do you hear us yo Shame? Do you hear us?

If you're hearing us watch out

when you're returning home alone at night,

we may decide to remake

your jaw with metal-objects;

or wash your head with lead,

what do you think?

Do you hear us yo Sadness? Do you hear us?

If you're hearing us it's because you too

you'll be packing your bags soon,

take a left one first, second one right,

then left again and go fuck your kin and kith

Congratulations! Cheers!

Do you hear us yo Death? Do you hear us?

If you're hearing us know that you don't frighten us,

you can take anything you want,

we go on all the same, you can't stop us,

and we won't leave anyone behind

we won't leave anyone to be knocked out.

It's all over!

We'll become good people you'll see!

And one day you will be proud of us.


Do you hear us yo Dignity? Do you hear us?

If you're hearing us know

we've knelt on earth and we feel sorry

we feel sorry for everything we've done to you,

but it will change!

Do you hear us yo Love? Do you hear us?

If you're hearing us you must come back

because we're ready now, it's done.

We screwed up, it's true, but then we've understood

and there we are with open hands, our heart in them,

you must take it and guide it.

Do you hear us yo Universe? Do you hear us?

If you're hearing us, wait for us, we're coming,

we'd like to understand all, know all, see all, live all,

we're looking for the door to the new world

to be able to blend in big time.

Do you hear us Yo who's waiting? Do you hear us?

If you're hearing us remember you're not alone, never!

We're too many to be a bit shaky a bit flaky.

and in our minds there's a blizzard,

like the mystics, big-hearted losers;

we must sound the alarm, to find each other again,

to rejoin, to kiss each other

to be millions of hands on million shoulders.

to repeat one more time that weariness is a crime,

that life is a heist of the century, a chili pepper whore.

Go fuck your mother yo Blizzard.

Go fuck your mother yo Blizzard.

It's all over.


Go fuck your mother yo Blizzard.

When the only thing you feel capable for

is lying down curled up and think of nothing.

Go fuck your mother yo Blizzard.

If you feel sliding down there will be hands to catch you

Go fuck your mother yo Blizzard.

Delve to come through. Stop only when everything is cleared away.

Go fuck your mother yo Blizzard.

You'll get there, you'll breathe air

and you'll realize that there's something that's changed.

Go fuck your mother yo Blizzard.

The night will be calm. No one's left behind.

Go fuck your mother yo Blizzard.

There will be aches and sorrows but we'll stand on our feet..."

Master Wizard Ondmund : "Gather all mage into Hall of Elements at once!"

Joanne Ervine : "What is going on? I can sense them too!!"

Master Wizard Ondmund : "Death is coming...."

J'zarghul : "J'zarghul can't understand you."

Master Wizard Ondmund : "We have to prepare ourselves against those two."

Sylvanna Gane : "Damn it, can you just tell us very clearly? Who the hell are they?"


Master Wizard Ondmund : "There's no time. Now, go inside, I will tell you later!"



Sometimes I wonder how Mike puts up with me. I'm not exactly a "normal" wife. Not only am I generally uninterested in things like cooking and other traditional wifely arts... I spend a lot of time doing messy things that would make most "normal" people shake their heads.


Last week, I flagged down a local parks crew. They'd been out pruning the ornamental plums and cherries that make our corner of the world so pinkly magical in early spring. For years, I've been asking the dudes to tell me when and where they're pruning... so I can grab some branches before they hit the chipper.


This year I hit the motherlode.


The dudes pulled over in their truck and, when I asked for branches, handed me some clippers and told me to take whatever blooming sprigs I wanted. I looked at the clippers in dismay. "Can't I just take them all?" I asked. And the dudes pretty much just shrugged and said, "Um... yeah... sure... if you want them." So I hauled them all... a truckload of small-tree-sized blooming branches... into the back yard.


Over the weekend, I used some sprigs (along with tulips, daffodils and Dutch irises) to make a bunch of bouquets, which I placed all over the house in vases.


But the real fun started when Mike went to work, and I was free to drag said tree-sized branches into the house. (!!!) I made a huge mess, but... whoa... you should've seen my office filled with blooming branches!!! They're still here. Rather brown and dry... and shedding petals like crazy. But I'm not ready to give up on shooting their shadows yet.


So I really really appreciate that Mike obligingly turns a blind eye to the... ahem... organic matter littering the hallway, stairs, etc. As he turns an obliging blind eye to the various things I leave lying around... plastic eyeballs, doll parts, waterbloated books, hairy crab shells, huge creeping roots covered in sticky mud... etc.


In my defence, I come by this naturally. Just the other day, my mom was telling me how very tolerant my dad has become... how he rarely if ever remarks on the stuff that SHE has strewn around (I'll spare you the list, but it's frequently weird).


So... yeah. Anyway, this is one of those pics that turned out pretty much almost exactly as I'd imagined it. And it's pretty much straight from the camera (I just bumped up the contrast a bit to try to bring out the shadows a little more).


Happy first day of spring. May all your metaphorical offices be filled with metaphorical cherry blossoms.

Master Wizard Ondmund : "Gather all mage into Hall of Elements at once!"

Joanne Ervine : "What is going on? I can sense them too!!"

Master Wizard Ondmund : "Death is coming...."

J'zarghul : "J'zarghul can't understand you."

Master Wizard Ondmund : "We have to prepare ourselves against those two."

Sylvanna Gane : "Damn it, can you just tell us very clearly? Who the hell are they?"


Master Wizard Ondmund : "There's no time. Now, go inside, I will tell you later!"

"We are all of us stars, and we deserve to twinkle" - Marilyn Monroe (100 Quotes Project)


First thing's first, I want to say thank you to Alex Kemsley for a truly amazing testimonial!

Also thank you to My lovely life through a lens and PhotographyLoves for the testimonials, I don't think I ever thanked you properly. Check out their photostreams!


It's a bit wobbly, but I quite enjoy drawing over my photos :) Hey guess what, I am making myself a dress as part of my DT AS Level, it's got one shoulder and is really floaty. The main part of the dress is a gorgeous electric blue with black chiffon layered over, and it has one chiffon sleeve. Well, I haven't even started making it yet, still got a long way to go, but I finally designed it and can't wait to finish it. I promise I'll upload a photo when it's been made, just wanted to build up the suspense haha.


Finally have time to catch up on some tags. I've had this tag loads of times, so here we go:

1. Favourite colour: Hmm, I'm quite liking blue now, how could you tell? :P

2. Describe the background picture on your phone: Haha it's the Angels and Airwaves emblem which was on the back of David Kennedy's jacket (the guitarist). I saw the photo on Twitter and thought I had to have it!

3. Last movie you watched: (500) Days Of Summer, it's a really great film with some incredible music, and I love the story-line, it's like a realistic love story <3

4. If you were an animal what would you be?: Tough one, I love cats, but doesn't mean I'd want to be one. I'd love to be a magical creature!! :D

5. What is your favourite TV show? How long have you been watching it? Doctor Who! Years and years :D

6. Are you allergic to anything? If so, what? I can't handle saw dust or dust, makes my skin itch and makes me sneeze, and a certain type of feather that you get in pillows makes my eyes run and my face swell up :( Not nice. Oh, and henna, I found out the hard way :S

7. Favourite song lyrics: Theres too many out there to chose! Recently been liking Owl City's "I'd rather waltz than just walk through the forest" <3

8. Your dream vacation? The world! I want to explore and meet people from around the world! :D The sky's the limit <3


I think everyone's already done this tag, so don't be offended that you're not tagged :3


Please listen, you'll float among the stars l Formspring


Someone says :"If we love someone, we shouldn’t be afraid to tell them, because hearts are often broken by words left unspoken."

I think I need to tell you that I extremely love you.

And this is your time.

Your new age.

Your life.

Don't worried about the thing passing on your life.

Let's enjoy it.

For my Bắp

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn 1606 1669. Amsterdam

Man with helmet. Homme avec casque sans date.

Groningen. Groninger museum




"Le monde discerne la beauté, et, par là le laid se révèle. Le monde reconnaît le bien et, par là le mal se révèle."

Dao De Jing, le Livre de la Voie et de la Vertu

LAO TSEU (Laozi)


"The world discerns beauty, and hence the ugly is revealed. The world recognizes good and hence evil is revealed."

Dao De Jing, the Book of the Way and Virtue

LAO TSEU (Laozi)


"Tout l’art florentin depuis Giotto et tout au long du Quattrocento, possède cette stupéfiante qualité de vérité absolue, reconnue. L’effet immédiat d’un grand Giotto ou d’un Masaccio est de laisser le spectateur sans voix. Cela s’appelait autrefois la Beauté."

MARIE MAC CARTHY "Les Pierres de Florence" 1956.


"Everything Florentine art from Giotto and throughout the Quattrocento has this amazing quality of absolute truth recognized. The immediate effect of a large Giotto or Masaccio is to let the audience speechless. It s' once called Beauty. "

MARY MAC CARTHY "The Stones of Florence" 1956.


Contrairement à une idée reçue, toute nouvelle, considérée comme une évidence à notre époque, le Beau n'est pas subjectif. Non, le Beau n'est pas seulement une question de goût personnel, un arbitraire total, absolument égocentrique. Le beau n'est pas autiste, il est un partage, même si certaines de ses formes peuvent être plus accessibles à certaines personnes qu'à d'autres, à certaines cultures et pas à d'autres.

La preuve que le Beau existe est qu'il est reconnu et admis de manière unanime par les opinions publiques, et celle des spécialistes, pour des millions d' oeuvres dont les dates de création vont de - 3000 à nos jours. Le Beau est d'ailleurs reconnu, vécu comme une expérience généralement partagée, non seulement dans l'art mais dans tout le spectacle de la Nature.

Il faut laisser de côté les définitions abstraites. Les Philosophes n'ont jamais réussi à donner une définition satisfaisante et incontestable du Beau. Laissons à Platon son Idée d'un Beau transcendant impossible à atteindre. Restons à un niveau plus trivial, celui de la beauté remarquable, concrète : il n'y a absolument aucune discussion sérieuse quant à l'existence du Beau, d'une sensation commune, une émotion poétique, partagée par des millions d'hommes, depuis L'Art Paléolithique, l'Art Egyptien jusqu'à l'Art Moderne, depuis la Chine jusqu'à l'Europe et l'Amérique.

Le Beau ne se définit pas, il se ressent individuellement et collectivement. Individuellement ressenti le beau est seulement subjectif, il n'a d'importance que pour une personne, collectivement ressenti, partagé par les élites et les populations, ensemble, il s'objective. Il devient une réalité à l'échelle d'une collectivité plus ou moins large, et même jusqu'à la Terre entière. Le Beau est tout simplement un fait vérifié par l'expérience de milliers de générations d'humains sur l'ensemble de la Terre.

On peut même soutenir que des trois idées fondamentales Beau, Bien, Vrai, le Beau est la première dont nous pouvons repérer l'apparition avec certitude dans l'histoire des hommes: Parce qu'il laisse des traces que nous constatons. Quand apparait l'idée de Bien? Quand apparaît l'idée de Vrai ?

Le Beau ne se définit pas, il se ressent et il évolue en fonction du temps. Sans doute l'erreur de l'Académisme a-t-elle été de vouloir définir les règles du Beau, in abstracto, et les impressionnistes ont eu très vite raison contre lui.

Le Beau peut prendre des formes différentes selon les cultures ou les civilisations. Il est reconnu comme Beau à l'intérieur de son domaine culturel, mais aussi souvent à l'extérieur.

La peinture des lettrés chinois est très particulière, il est possible à titre individuel de ne pas l'apprécier, mais il serait faux de parler à son propos d'un Art du laid, et elle n'est pas jugée comme tel par l'épreuve du temps et de sa confrontation avec d'autres cultures comme celle occidentale.

Le Beau est tout simplement un fait vérifié par l'expérience de milliers de générations d'humains sur l'ensemble de la Terre. Le tableau de Léonard de Vinci, la Joconde (Mona Lisa) et le succès qu'il rencontre auprès des populations extrême orientales est une preuve de cette universalité du Beau.

Il existe "un sens du Beau, commun à toute l'humanité" qui est indépendant des modes, des religions et des idéologies et même des cultures. Même s'il ne faut pas négliger certaines spécificités ou variabilités tenant à telle culture ou à telle époque. Le constat global reste celui d'un partage du sentiment du beau à l'échelle universelle.

Le beau s'identifie par une intense satisfaction, un sentiment de bonheur, de joie, d'ordre sensuel ou intellectuel qui envahit la personne, c'est son point de départ subjectif . Ce point de départ subjectif qui s'objective par le partage de ce sentiment avec une foule d'autres personnes, de cultures et d'époques différentes, pour parvenir à l'émergence d'une quasi unanimité et d'une quasi universalité.

Le beau est certes un vécu subjectif en ce qu'il est ressenti individuellement, mais il s'objective par l'opinion convergente, formulée au cours du temps, par les peuples et les élites. C'est ce jugement commun des peuples et des élites, cette expérience partagée, qui objective et prouve le Beau.

Ce qui est subjectif ce sont les préférences des individus. Ce qui est subjectif c'est quand une personne préfère les fresques romanes ou l'art du gothique international à la peinture de la Renaissance Italienne.

Quand une personne préfère l'art du paysage ou la peinture de moeurs à la peinture religieuse.

Si on avait dit à Fra Angelico, à Raphaël ou à Rubens que le Beau n'existe pas et est affaire purement subjective, ils auraient haussé les épaules.

Non seulement le sentiment du Beau est un fait d'expérience, un bien commun à l'humanité, qui traverse les temps et les cultures, mais le Beau peut être ressenti alors que les idéologies qui ont inspiré les oeuvres d'art à une époque donnée, dans une région de la Terre, sont mortes en tant que croyances actives.

Il n'est pas nécessaire de croire dans les Esprits, les Dieux Egyptiens, Grecs, Hindous ou dans les Bouddhas pour apprécier la beauté de l'art des cavernes, de l'Egypte antique, de la Grèce, de l'Inde, ou de l'Asie du Sud Est.

De même, les représentations de Dieu et du monde qui sont celles des églises chrétiennes, qui ont été vivantes et profondément significatives pour les populations européennes pendant plus d'un millénaire, peuvent ne plus avoir de sens pour une très large majorité des populations de l'Europe de l'Ouest et du Nord au 21è siècle. Il reste cependant que ces populations, comme d'autres peuples dans d'autres cultures, peuvent reconnaître le Beau dans des oeuvres d'art dont les symboles ne sont plus idéologiquement significatifs pour elles, voire même leur paraissent absurdes. Les croyances changent mais le sentiment du Beau dure.

Le Beau est donc un fait constaté au travers de toute l'histoire des civilisations.

Le Beau est certes une idée, mais pendant des siècles ce n'était pas une idéologie. Et encore moins son contraire le Laid. Les multiples idéologies, le plus souvent religieuses, qui ont habité durant des millénaires l'esprit des hommes ont utilisé l'idée du beau pour soutenir leurs croyances les plus diverses et même opposées.

A partir de la seconde moitié du 20è siècle les élites idéologiques et politiques de l'Occident, athées, ont décidé d' imposer la croyance que le Beau n'existait pas, et de faire croire que le Laid est une valeur recommandable. L'art contemporain officiel en est la démonstration.

L'affirmation que le Beau n'existe pas, est purement subjectif, est une idée fausse, conçue et répandue au cours de la seconde moitié du 20è siècle pour des motifs idéologiques et économiques.

Les motifs idéologiques sont, notamment, que ce relativisme permet de justifier l'Art Laid officiel et que l'art laid est un critère de distinction entre les Eclairés et ceux qui ne le sont pas. L'homme peut en effet inventer des idéologies, des croyances, qui nient le Beau et le Bien. Cette capacité d'invention de croyances les plus diverses et contraires fait la différence entre l'homme et les animaux.

C'est une évolution mais ce n'est pas nécessairement un progrès. Ce peut être, c'est toujours, inévitablement, sous certains aspects, aussi une régression. La capacité d'inventer le Beau rencontre son contraire, celle d'inventer le Laid. Et même, comme dans l'art contemporain officiel, d'en faire une règle, une doctrine. La capacité au Bien est inséparable de celle de faire le Mal. Et la formulation de vérités ouvre toute grande la porte aux mensonges.

Outre les motifs idéologiques, cette affirmation permet aussi de fabriquer et de vendre du Laid, ce qui est une excellente affaire.




"Everything Florentine art from Giotto and throughout the Quattrocento has this amazing quality of absolute truth recognized. The immediate effect of a large Giotto or Masaccio is to let the audience speechless. It s' once called Beauty. "

MARY MAC CARTHY "The Stones of Florence" 1956.


Contrary to an accepted idea, all new, considered as obvious in our time, the Beautiful is not subjective. No, the beautiful is not only a matter of personal taste, a total arbitrary, absolutely egocentric. The beautiful is not autistic, it is a sharing, although some of its forms may be more accessible to some people than others, to some cultures and not to others.

The proof that the Beau exists is that it is recognized and unanimously accepted by the public opinion, and that of the specialists, for millions of works whose creation dates range from - 3000 to the present day. The Beautiful is recognized, lived as an experience generally shared, not only in art, but in all the spectacle of Nature

The abstract definitions must be left aside. The Philosophers have never succeeded in giving a satisfactory and incontestable definition of the Beautiful. Let us leave Plato his idea of a beautiful transcendent impossible to reach. Let's stay at a more trivial level, that of remarkable, concrete beauty : there is absolutely no serious discussion about the existence of Beau, a common sensation, a poetic emotion, shared by millions of men, from Egyptian Art to Modern Art, since China to Europe and America. The Beautiful does not define itself, it is felt individually and collectively. Individually felt the beautiful is only subjective, it only matters for a person, collectively felt, shared by the elites and the people, together, he is objectively. The Beautiful becomes a reality at the scale of a community more or less wide and even to the whole earth. The Beautiful is simply a fact verified by the experience of thousands of generations of humans on the whole Earth.

One can even argue that of the three fundamental ideas, Beautiful, Well, Truth, the Beautiful is the first of which we can spot the appearance with certainty in the history of men: Because the Beautiful leaves traces that we see. When does the idea of the Well appear? When does the idea of Truth appear?

The beautifful is not defined, it is felt and it evolves with time. No doubt the mistake of Academism has been to want to define the rules of the Beautiful, in abstracto, and the impressionists were very quickly right against him .

But there is absolutely no serious discussion about the existence of Beauty, a common sensation, a poetic émotion, shared by millions of people, since the Paleolithic art, the Egyptian Art to Modern Art, from China to Europe and America.

The Beautiful can take different forms according to cultures or civilizations. It is recognized as beautiful inside its cultural domain, but also often outside.

The painting of the Chinese scholars is very particular, it is possible individually not to appreciate it, but it would be wrong to speak about it an Art of the ugly, and it is not judged as such by the the test of time and its confrontation with other cultures like the Western one. The Beautiful is simply a fact verified by the experience of thousands of generations of humans all over the Earth. The painting of Leonardo da Vinci, the Mona Lisa (Mona Lisa) and the success met among the populations of the Far East testify to this universality of the Beautiful.

There is "a sense of beauty, common to all mankind" which is independent of modes, religions and ideologies and even cultures. Even though certain specificities or variability should not be neglected in relation to such a culture or at that time. The overall observation remains that of a sharing of the feeling of beauty on a universal scale.

The beauty is identified by an intense satisfaction, a feeling of happiness, of joy, of sensual or intellectual order that invades the person, it is his subjective starting point. This subjective starting point becomes objective by sharing this sentiment with a multitude of other people, cultures and different eras, in order to achieve the emergence of almost unanimity and almost universality.

The beauty is certainly a subjective experience in that it is felt individually, but it is objective by the convergent opinion, formulated in the course of time, by the peoples and the elites. It is this common judgement of peoples and elites, this shared experience, which objective and proves the beautiful.


What is subjective what are the preferences of individuals. What is subjective is when a person prefers Romanesque frescoes or the art of international Gothic painting of the Italian Renaissance. When a person prefers the art of the landscape or the painting of morals to religious painting.

If someone had told to Fra Angelico, Raphaël or Rubens that beauty does not exist and is purely subjective matter, they would have shrugged.

The Beautiful is certainly a subjective, individually felt, but it is objectified by the synthesis of the multiple opinions of peoples and their elites.

Not only is the feeling of the Beautiful a fact of experience, a common heritage of humanity, which passes through times and cultures, but the Beautiful can be felt while the ideologies that inspired the works of art at a certain time, in a region of the Earth, have died as active beliefs.

There is no need to believe in spirits, in the Gods of the Egyptians, Greeks, Hindus or in the Buddhas for to appreciate the beauty of the cave art, or of the ancient Egypt, the Greece, of the India, or of South East Asia. Similarly, the representations of God and of the world, which are those of the Christian churches, which have been alive and profoundly meaningful to European populations for more than a millennium, may no longer make sense for a very large majority of the Western and Northern of the Europe in the 21st century. However, these populations, like other peoples in other cultures, can recognize the Beautiful in works of art whose the symbols are no longer ideologically significant for them, or even appear absurd to them. The beliefs change but the feeling of the Beautiful lasts.

The beautiful is therefore a fact of experience found throughout the history of civilizations.

The beautiful is certainly an idea, but for centuries it was not an ideology. And even less its opposite the Ugly. The multiple ideologies, most often religious, that have inhabited men's minds for thousands of years have used the idea of the beautiful to support their beliefs the most diverse and even opposite.

The assertion that Beauty does not exist, is purely subjective, is a false idea, conceived and spread in the second half of the 20th century for ideological and economic reasons. Man can indeed invent ideologies, beliefs, who deny the Beautiful and the Good. This capacity for invention of the most diverse and contrary beliefs makes the difference between man and animals.

It is an evolution but it is not necessarily a progress. It may be, it is always, inevitably, in some aspects, also a regression. The ability to invent the beautiful meets its opposite, that of inventing the Ugly. And even, as in official contemporary art, to make it a rule, a doctrine. The capacity for good is inseparable from that of doing evil. And the formulation of truths opens the door wide to lies.

The ideological motives are that this relativism makes it possible to justify the ugly art, the academic art , and that the ugly Art is a criterion of distinction between the Enlightened and those who are not.

In addition to the ideological motives, this statement also makes it possible to manufacture and sell the Laid, which is an excellent deal.


via WordPress


Bill Moak, Consumer Watch Published 5:00 a.m. CT Oct. 15, 2018


Legs, Window, Car, Dirt Road, Relax – cars | cars


Dashcam video from a badge cruiser in Kenton County, Kentucky shows a ample deer colliding with the car, flipping in air afore active into the woods. VPC


Car-deer blow ante are the aftereffect of action choices. (Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)


Every year about this time, we alpha audition a lot added letters about auto crashes involving deer, and it additionally happens to be the time back a lot of bike riders are demography to the roads. Aloof aftermost week, a accumulation of bicyclists traveling forth a North Carolina artery filmed a blow that about took out not alone a deer, but the cyclists as well.


In the video, the cyclists can be apparent benumbed single-file forth the rural artery back in a breach second, a large, antlered deer accuse out of the woods, almost missing the advance rider. The hapless beastly smashes into the advanced fender of a car abutting from the adverse direction, again is flung beyond the alley several anxiety in the air, almost missing the cyclists.


“I attending up and see this affair aerial at us,” said cyclist Peter Flur, who filmed the blow and told his adventure to the Charlotte Observer. “For a few seconds, I didn’t alike apperceive what it was. … It happened so fast, at that actual instant, we aloof didn’t know.” The aphotic Audi auto reportedly kept on activity admitting the collision.


Automobile, Automotive, Beach, Beetle – cars | cars


Bill Moak (Photo: Sarah Warnock/Clarion Ledger)


Flur said he had army the cameras on his bike to bolt affirmation of cartage declining to crop appropriate of way and endangering cyclists. He’s not alone; cyclists accept been added anxious about the achievability of actuality hit by cars on accessible roads.


In aboriginal September, a Gulfport woman died back a agent addled her bike during a “torrential downpour.” According to the Sun-Herald newspaper, 54-year-old Carmellia Prestia was benumbed in the bike lane beyond the Kremer Bridge in Gulfport back a agent hit her from behind. She after died in a bounded hospital. According to the story, no accuse had been filed adjoin the anonymous driver.


Mississippi does accept a “3-foot” law, anesthetized in 2010, acute that cyclists be accustomed a amplitude of at atomic three anxiety back passing. The law was anesthetized to account John Paul Frerer, an 18-year-old Tupelo citizen who was addled and dead in 2008. Frerer, a triathlete and Eagle Scout, was hit by a agent while benumbed his bike from Tupelo to Oxford to adapt for a aeon chase the afterward weekend.


If you are active and appointment cyclists, bethink that bicycles are advantaged to the aforementioned amplitude and courtesies as you would with car or truck.


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The added allotment of this adventure is the deer. Each year, about 3,000 deer-vehicle crashes are appear in Mississippi (according to the Mississippi Department of Transportation). These crashes generally account deaths, injuries and acreage damage. Since Mississippi has one of the nation’s accomplished concentrations of deer (about 1.75 million, according to the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks), affairs are acceptable that you will appointment deer on the roadways.


The Mississippi Department of Transportation has some acceptable admonition for motorists:


Don’t veer for deer. If a deer runs in advanced of your vehicle, abide calm and anchor firmly, MDOT advises. Swerving can account you to lose ascendancy of your vehicle, causing an alike added austere accident.


Remember that deer are backpack animals. If you see one bound beyond the road, there’s a acceptable adventitious that others will follow.


Remain acute back active at aurora and dusk. About 20 percent of crashes action in aboriginal morning, while added than bisected action amid 5 p.m. and midnight, MDOT notes. Since afterimage is generally affliction at these times because of the alteration ablaze conditions, and deer like to abrade at aurora and dusk, these are prime times for risk.


Flying Cars Take Off And Are Set For Sale For Up To $25.25 Million – cars | cars


Always catch up for assurance and drive at a safe speed.


Use aerial beams back possible. At night use aerial beams, back no cartage is approaching, to brighten the eyes of deer abreast the road. Make abiding both headlights and aerial beams are bankrupt and aimed correctly.


“Deer are unpredictable, abnormally back frightened,” said Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King. “Drivers consistently charge to break alert, apathetic bottomward and abrasion their bench belt.”


Moak: Driverless grocery delivery: Coming to a grocery abundance abreast you?


More Moak: How to get your resume through the system


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Contact Bill Moak at


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9" x 12" Watercolor

Arches 140#CP


With the approach of Hurricane Sandy 24 hours away, the last day of Jean's workshop lost several participants as folks made their way home before the storm. In order to accommodate all the requests Jean received and in order to maximize the time remaining, Jean worked on a few more demons, and then launched into her prepared lesson to move us from 'free flowing practice' to work that was a bit more 'story telling.'


I was given permission earlier this year to paint from Rupa's fabulous plums and I had her photo reference with me. Though I painted these before in a more traditional way: I wanted to see what they might look like in a looser style. (Thank you once more, Rupa!!!)


Jean was kind enough to demonstrate how she would approach this image, and for the rest of the workshop, I practiced. Each of my practice pieces came closer to the 'story' I wanted to tell... but this one, done a few days after the workshop, seems a bit closer to the combination of Jean's looseness and a bit more of my own style.


The workshop ended with the promise of Jean's return to New York next October, and then everyone scrambling to homes, last minute planes and trains, all to get out of harm's way.


It was an incredible workshop -- and I thank Jean for all her sharing of skills, enthusiasm, encouragement and joy!!!!


Can't wait to do it again next year! (without hurricanes, of course!)

Master Wizard Ondmund : "Gather all mage into Hall of Elements at once!"

Joanne Ervine : "What is going on? I can sense them too!!"

Master Wizard Ondmund : "Death is coming...."

J'zarghul : "J'zarghul can't understand you."

Master Wizard Ondmund : "We have to prepare ourselves against those two."

Sylvanna Gane : "Damn it, can you just tell us very clearly? Who the hell are they?"


Master Wizard Ondmund : "There's no time. Now, go inside, I will tell you later!"

We live in strange times indeed.


"In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

~ George Orwell


"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

9" x 12"

Arches 140#CP


I painted this a few months back while taking another on-line class. It's a different style than the one I've been learning these last few weeks, but I like it too -- it's just a different approach and to me conveys a different feel and emotion.


I didn't have much time to paint last night and won't the remainder of the week with meetings and other obligations. I am already missing that quiet time with paints and water ....


We've a few cooler days - much appreciated - and a very small chance of rain.


It's easy to tell the season of summer is quickly moving toward fall, despite the high temperatures. Already student cars are filling the parking lots; there's a bustle about the college that was missing during the quieter months of June and July, and even now, a bit after 6 am, it's still dark outside and the sun won't be up for another 20 minutes or so .. Time passes so quickly ...


Hope your day is terrific!

"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,

Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,

To the last syllable of recorded time;

And all our yesterdays have lighted fools

The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing." -S


This is in response to our weekly "Monday Photo Challenge" to "retread" a previously posted picture. Those that know me, know that I LOVE going back and retreading. The original post of this photo was posted a year ago today and it was an easy pick for me to retread today because I'm coming off of a week of "heavenly days" and I can't stop singing this song by Patty Griffin...


"Oh heavenly day, all the clouds blew away

Got no trouble today with anyone

The smile on your face I live only to see

It's enough for me, baby, it's enough for me

Oh, heavenly day, heavenly day, heavenly day


Tomorrow may rain with sorrow

Here's a little time we can borrow

Forget all our troubles in these moments so few

All we've got right now, the only thing that

All we really have to do

Is have ourselves a heavenly day

Lay here and watch the trees sway

Oh, can't see no other way, no way, no way

Heavenly day, heavenly day, heavenly day


No one at my shoulder bringing me fears

Got no clouds up above me bringing me tears

Got nothing to tell you, I've got nothing much to say

Only I'm glad to be here with you

On this heavenly, heavenly, heavenly, heavenly

Heavenly day, all the trouble's gone away

Oh, for a while anyway, for a while anyway

Heavenly day, heavenly day, heavenly day"


Please take a minute or two while listening and check out all the other "heavenly" retreads and join us for "Retread Thursdays"...


“We do not remember days, we remember moments” ~ Spanish philosopher Cesare Pavese. I have used this quote before; I will use it again. It is something I live by. ~ View On Black ~ "Twilight World" - Marian McPartland.


It was simply too nice a day to be in the office. So, I drove around. When I do – drive around – I usually find myself by some water.


Some days we feel so much more exquisitely alive than others. Some days, we are so deeply in the moment, so aware of everything, that we feel as if we may explode into our atoms at the incredible power of it all.


The connection we feel to life, to the earth, to the universe is so succulent, so intense as to be overwhelming. Could we jump for joy, hysterically laugh and fall down to our knees and thank God we are alive at the top of our voices – and not get locked up for it – we most surely would.


We wish we could capture this feeling forever. At this moment one knows and feels the value of life, the sanctity of life, the sheer joy of being alive, in this place, in this time – right now.


For a little while, we understand – and feel more than we ever imagined - the peace and serenity and completeness that each book of religion, each tome of philosophy, each fiber of our soul tells us is truly, if only momentarily, possible .


It feels as if it lasts an eternity: this moment.


And, as we get older, each time we are blessed to feel it again, we savor it just a little bit more, suckle at its charms just a bit more energetically. We know how precious these moments are; how seldom they come; and how few remain.


I can never express my thanks enough for such moments. I love you all; I feel you all: my fellow artists and seekers.


I told you I was holding out on an image that I shot last month at Snoqualmie Falls when we had the big snow. I have actually redone this image five separate times because of the erasing of water spots all over the image! Here is a shot when we had a visit from "The Pineapple Express:"


As I was shooting with an ND 8 filter to get the milky white of the water, the exposures were lengthened. This allowed the unforgiving mist that this waterfall gives off, to collect on my camera lens each shot! I was furiously wiping between each exposure, but still wound up with a ton of spots. The snow is all gone, and there is no going back...Okay...maybe when we get our next snow! I only live about 15 minutes from this spectacular natural wonder!


This is a combination of three exposures (-2,0,+2) merged and tonemapped in Photomatix 4.0. Then LOTS of erasing of water spots using a combination of the "Clone Stamp" and the "Content Aware" function of the "Healing Brush." I am hard to please, so I am not sure if I am 100% sold on my efforts here! I then ran through Topaz Adjust for a boost in contrast, as the original image was completely flat, and then final vignette in Lightroom 3.0.


Thanks for the views, comments, and faves. I appreciate them. Again, Merry Christmas to all and have a safe and prosperous New Year! - Holy Other, "Know Where" - I do appreciate those of you who take the time to read this. It is long, and our attention spans aren't what they once were.


We had a storm on Halloween; a good one. Some snow, some sleet, lot’s of wind. 60 – 70 mph winds coming out of the north, blowing straight down the 300+ mile length of Lake Michigan. On the east and west coasts, those are low-end hurricane/typhoon wind speeds. For us in Chicago, these are as good as it gets. Daytime temps were in the 40’s; with the wind chills it felt like the 20’s, a far cry from our normal 55 - 64 degrees for Halloween.


When the wind blows from the north, it can push our southern lake water level up two to four feet. That doesn’t sound like much, but our shoreline waters here are shallow, 20 feet on average. That's not deep enough to make tall waves; the extra water transfer from up north helps. As is 4 – 6 foot waves get boating advisories. 8 - 10 footers are newsworthy. These Halloween monster waves were on all TV channels at once.


The waves reached up to 20-feet in height; that has happened only once before. To get 20-foot waves means some extraordinary, barely comprehensible energy is being created in the Lake. The top of the tower, the red light, is 20 – 24 feet above the normal water surface level. Normal depth here is 12 - 14 feet. There is a 30-foot wide, concrete seawall at the base of the tower that sits 8 – 10 feet above the water. I’ve never, not seen that platform. I've never seen it under water. I’ve never seen waves this high in my 64+ years of living here. Never.


For us, this mimicked the Sea. It was divine and extraordinary, deliciously wild, sublimely chaotic. Because the Lake is so shallow, our waves have no chance to develop a rhyme or rhythm to their movements. They swell and dip and break everywhere in tumultuous disarray; on shore as well as out into the Lake as far as the eye could see. You cannot time the waves or predict where they will crash so as to move back from the shoreline to avoid getting drenched and/or swept out to Sea (where it could be days, weeks or months before you are found - thus it is recommended you wear bright clothing for this; makes finding the body easier :-) ). It is dangerous to stand close to the water’s edge.


But how on earth can you not?


It’s said there are a hundred ways to die and, you should have no doubt, one or more of those 100 ways has your name in their hands (with a bit of a contest going as to who will get to you first). That being said, well, being swept away to die for ones photographic or video art, or for just plain and simple curiosity, or for the sheer giddiness and idiocy of being so close to something so grand, probably beats a bunch of the other ways that will surely come your way.


Of course, I am speaking for myself.


I could have resisted, but I choose not to. I suspected I was going to sacrifice a camera here. Water spray, rain and sleet were everywhere, and digital point-and-shoots aren't good bedfellows with water in any form. I only hoped to get some decent images before it said, “Argh, they got me boys, I’m a gonner,” and shut down operations, like the Terminator’s glowing red eye going dim and black when it went got crushed.


And digitals aren’t keen on being cold, and trying to focus with nothing to lock onto except smooth sky, clouds, water. Plus I really couldn’t see the viewer too well. All of their functions begin to slow to a crawl under these conditions - kinda' like us. Ah, to hell with it, wing it and just kept moving and shooting.


I was out for about 20 minutes and got 148 shots - time enough to get at least four or five good shots with cold-to-numb, cramped, claw-like fingers, I hoped, as well as to get really effing cold, stiff, and wet. I started rapid-fire sneezing; “a cold, the flu, pneumonia, Ebola,” I wondered (ah, the power of mass hysteria and panic).


Hey, I was not alone. A continuing parade of fifty or so people heading home from work roared into the parking lot by the Lake. So excited were they, some would jump out of their cars before they completely stopped. There was a palpable passion to look at the water, the waves, the sky, the sun and that big, `ol rainbow playing peek-a-boo over the waves with our collective inner child.


Most were wearing work clothes, or lightweight, mild autumn-day weather clothes. Most never saw the wave that got them. A thunderous, deep-throated “Whoomp” is all they heard, then a total body swoosh of water is what they felt. I do love those screams – a mixture of surprise and panic that reverberates up and down the lake shore: “SHIT! F*ck! Eeeek! God Damn! OMG! That’s COOOOLD!”


They’d get thoroughly drenched. Some didn't care, and stayed out - a child's sense of determination, exuberance and fool-hardiness. Others, looking like wet, defeated rats, would scamper and splash back to their cars as best they could with icy toes in bubbling-juicy socks in super-saturated, mushy shoes. (Did you know that when regular, leather, dress/work shoes get this wet, upon drying they morph into clogs? They do.)


Heaters on full blast, interior like a sauna, they’d drive off with completely fogged windows, fingers squeaking across the glass hoping for one last look back. It was the price of admission to experience this type of joy, feed their curiosity, display their nerve, and nurture their delight in seeing Nature do her thing up close and personal.


Not too bad a price to pay, I think - just gettin' cold and wet. At least they could tell their friends, “Hey I was there, in person. I got my pneumonia like a Man; I earned it. (achoo!)”


I was wearing the neoprene wading outfit I wear while wading as I fish in rivers, so I was well protected. Protected, but not invulnerable. I got mini –soaked. I think my underwear stayed dry - most of it, anyway – although even a little bit of a cold, wet butt makes for a long, itchy drive home.


148 shots later, the camera died. I was pretty much done too. I started my way back to the car, 100 yards of so away. I had to walk head long into that gale force wind to do so. It started sleeting, with bb sized pellets of ice whipping into my face at 60 to 70 mph. They stung like a thousand bees.


But I loved it. I laughed and smiled all the while in between my exclamations of ‘oouch, ow, shit, that hurts.” When I got back to the car I was wet, frozen, my face candy-apple red from the sleet, and I’d lost a camera.


Yes, I effing loved it.


It was an exquisite diversion to make on the drive home from work. And, I got four decent images out of it.


Texture courtesy Cleanzor.


If that little Canon Powershot does not survive, it will receive a dignified, respectful burial at Sea on the next full moon, right off the end of that pier. 39th St. Pier and Beach, 39th & Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.



"Everything's so blurry

And everyone's so fake

And everybody's empty

And everything is so messed up

Pre-occupied without you

I cannot live at all

My whole world surrounds you

I stumble then I crawl


You could be my someone

You could be my scene

You know that I'll protect you from all of the obscene

I wonder what you're doing

Imagine where you are

There's oceans in between us, but that's not very far



Can you take it all away?

Can you take it all away?

When you shoved it in my face

This pain you gave to me

Can you take it all away?

Can you take it all away?

When you shoved it in my face


Everyone is changing,

There's no one left that's real

So make up your own ending

And let me know just how you feel

'Cause I am lost without you

I cannot live at all

My whole world surrounds you

I stumble then I crawl


You could be my someone

You could be my scene

Know that I will save you from all of the unclean

I wonder what you're doing

I wonder where you are

There's oceans in between us but that's not very far




Nobody told me what you thought

Nobody told me what to say

Nobody showed you where to turn

Showed you where to run away

Nobody told you where to hide

Nobody told you what to say

Nobody showed you where to turn

Showed you where to run away


Can you take it all away?

Can you take it all away?

When you shoved it in my face

Explain again to me

Can you take it all away?

Can you take it all away? "


Puddle of Mudd, Take it all away


"Springtime" is finally here !!! Hand in hand with Nature's seasonal awakening, my inner urge to go out for some really early morning shooting awakens too ...


This time I decided to pay a visit to one of, what it proved to be, the most picturesque places of Drama's prefecture ...The Angitis river and the wonderful Nature that is formed all around it and mainly due to it ... To tell you the truth I didn't expect to come face to face with such an amazing place, with such interesting early morning lighting conditions, a real challenge for my camera to convincingly capture ... I had paid a visit to this place before, maybe about twelve years ago, but photography was not included in my prime interests then ... Something that I'll never cease to regret ...


Anyway, manual focusing was the only way I could work in order to capture the petty amount of both natural and artificial light that existed all around ...


Don't forget my friends that before sunrise shooting at a photography inviting place, may actually push your photo-shooting technical capability to its limits ...


Every time I do it I return wiser and definitely more experienced !!!


EXIF: NIKON D90 with Nikon Nikkor 18-55 lens, Manual mode, f 9, ISO 200, focal length 18 mm, manual exposure selection, manual focusing, white balance set to cloudy weather, pattern metering mode, shutter speed 6 s, HDR processing was made after a single long exposure frame, exact lighting conditions are successfully conveyed to the viewer, use of tripod, no flash, original RAW image dimensions 4288 X 2848 pixels ....


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:copyright: Copyright - All rights reserved


See where this picture was taken. [?]

"....Just give me a reason

To keep my heart beating

Don’t worry it’s safe right here in my arms

As the world falls apart around us

All we can do is hold on, hold on


Take my hand

And bring me back


I risk everything if it’s for you

I whisper into the night

Telling me it’s not my time and don’t give up

I’ve never stood up before this time

Demo yuzurenai mono itta kono te wo hanasanai....."


TUNE: ONE OK ROCK - The Beginning


The tune just makes me thinks a you got to listen to it :D


Blogpost: Where do I begin



"....It was all to stay awake for the longest time

It was long, it was wrong

But it felt so right

See you at the finish line

See you at the finish line

If you got the heart to join us...."




-Blogpost: I did tell you the reason why



" 'I am not going to tell you my name, not yet at any rate.' A queer half-knowing, half-humorous look came with a green flicker into his eyes. 'For one thing it would take a long while: my name is growing all the time, and I've lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story. Real names tell you the story of things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say. It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time saying anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.' "

~Treebeard in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien~




I spruced up the color a little ;~)


This portrait of my dearly beloved BFF Fleur was taken the end of May of this year just as Fleur and Velvet, the reigning royal Blackbird couple of the area were taking a short break between successful broods.


Fleur had been indulging in extensive spa treatments on my terrace the better part of May after briefly introducing her lovely daughter to my terrace earlier that month. I had mentioned to Fleur how I would so love to get a really decent image of her all fluffed up at the birdbath as I could not get over her super cuteness factor and so wanted to share it with my friends on here.


Fleur kept obliging and waiting for me as well as for the lighting conditions to be optimal. That day, I was sitting indoors with the terrace door open albeit with the mosquito netting in the way. So, Fleur patiently waited for me to get up and go outside so that I could take this series of her while standing in front of her.


The above image has now ended up being my absolute favorite image of her ever due to how lovingly Fleur is looking at me besides proving that she is the fluffiest and most adorable Blackbird in all the land ;-)


It is also the personal favorite of my very dear friend Carole from Barry & Carole Bowden who is basically like the human version of Fleur for me and who loved Fleur as much as I did. As a little thank you for all of Carole's incredible support during the difficult past months, I am dedicating this portrait of "our" Fleur to her.


I am delighted that this image is now also available via my Getty Images Portfolio with more than 500 nature and wildlife images and that it is also part of my Flickr Getty Album on here.


Any question I ever asked Fleur, even just in my head, she would answer without fail that same day by showing me the answer. She was also an incredible empath around me and the other wildlife, going out of her way to show me when something was wrong with someone else.


All the other songbirds revered and respected her. Fleur had a special friendship with my late female resident Dunnock Hedy. The visiting female Dunnocks from this past spring and summer adored Fleur. No other bird ever chased her and she was also completely fearless, baffling even the biggest loner Rat while still a junior bird. Even the Jays listened to her and would honor her requests. She was absolutely fierce, ever so feisty and utterly fabulous!


Fleur was a true Buddha Angel. She was the most remarkable bird I have ever come across plus the most loyal of friends. She was always there for me, every single day, no matter what was going on in her life. Thanks to her patience and training, I was just about to understand the complex language of the Blackbirds to a tee.


I am forever grateful for all the magical moments I got to share with her and for the great blessing of her presence in my life these past few years. Fleur took over the role of my most special guardian angel from dear Flaushi back in January 2016 when he left to check out the area. Fleur really changed my life for the better through her unconditional love. Please note that I am not a religious person, though I do consider myself to be a spiritual one.


I will write more about my special friendship with First Lady Fleur as well as all about her remarkable abilities and powers under a very fun series of images of her raiding the mud of the flower planters of my adorable upstairs neighbors for her last nest in June which I will post at a later date.


The last time I saw my BFF Fleur was on the afternoon of July 30th as she was trying to introduce her son to my terrace. I went outside briefly in the sweltering afternoon heat of nearly 40C (over 100F) on my terrace to tell her how much I loved her and that I needed to get going as I still had an appointment that early evening. I also told her that it was way too hot and stuffy for me and that hopefully, it would cool down soon (it did not) and we could try again the next day in terms of the proper introductions.


Fleur was not yet in her molt and in the best of spirits as it was the last day of her looking after her son as the three-week period of showing the fledgling kids the ropes was now over. She lived to be a mom and was the most devoted momma bird I have ever known. Velvet had already briefly shown their daughter my terrace and person a few days earlier.


Both Fleur and Velvet were now finished with their parenting duties and I was blown away by how they had managed to raise two kids successfully in spite of the brutal heat wave and drought which made finding any worms and snails nigh impossible. Hence, my organic raisins were definitely helpful to them and all the other Blackbirds together with the daily fresh double-filtered water in the birdbath I had gotten from the UK in June 2017 specifically for the Blackbirds.


Fleur and Velvet were only three years old. Once Blackbirds manage to survive their first year, they can easily live 10 years or even more than 20 years.


The reason they average out to only 4 - 5 years is due to all of the millions of roaming house cats in Germany as well as the glass windows and doors most people do not bird-proof around here plus the pesticides used nearly all over Germany - though happily, not in my neighborhood.


So, their lives are drastically cut short thanks to us humans. So sad. Alas, this post will now get even sadder thanks to a terrible tragedy that struck my area and town concerning all the songbirds and basically wiped out all the Blackbirds and other Thrushes.


But before I get into that extensive documentation, I wanted to thank all of my friends on here for their most thoughtful comments and wonderful support during my lengthy absence from Flickr. I kept hoping to become active again on here sooner than later, but something always kept coming up besides the various work-related writing deadlines I still had to honor even though I was fighting for my life half the time.


I already went into yet another a life-threatening mitochondrial crisis the very beginning of April thanks to my rare inborn error of metabolism followed by many relapses as well as one full-blown circulatory collapse after the next one, starting the end of April due to the unusually warm weather that we had from the beginning of April through most of September.


Quite a few of these collapses were actually the result of my trying to help my dear terrace friends survive. Just last week we still had temps above 30C plus high humidity and absolutely no breeze followed by 3C one night.


I have written extensively about what I get to deal with on a daily basis for the past 47 years ever since I was a baby in terms of my rare genetic condition under this older post in which I also explain why my terrace friends mean the world to me: My Guardian Angel


Oh, so normal temps for Hamburg are the 60's and low 70's Fahrenheit (so around 20C) in the summertime. It is rare that temps here go above 75F into the 80's and if they do, it is only for a few weeks every few years. Since the beginning of April, it was well over 75F and 25C for the most part with practically no rain even though Hamburg is the greenest and rainiest city in Europe. Even more rain than Seattle.


I moved here because of the little sunlight as I react massively to sunlight as well as any temps above 75F as my body starts failing me when the temps go up into the 80's and the humidity rises above 60%. My ground-floor flat was well above 25C and 60% for most of spring and summer. My various ventilators did not have much of an impact.


Having massive construction going on across the street from the beginning of May until the end of August in the form of my landlord redoing the ginormous tiered roof his over 100-year-old mansion was also not that helpful or relaxing between all those fumes and the impressive drilling noises which made going to the dentist seem like a vacation. Even with all the windows and doors closed, it was bad enough to drive anyone's BP well above 200...


During July and August, it was in the 90's Fahrenheit (around 35C+) for weeks on end with super high humidity plus not even the slightest breeze and no AC anywhere, not even on public transportation. But no one said anything and the media went on about how great the people are as no one complained.


It was actually the hottest and driest spring as well as summer in recorded history since 1881 as well as the sunniest. Between the beginning of January and the end of July, there were 140 sunny days. January did not really count as it and December 2017 were the darkest two months in recorded local history as they totaled 2.5 days of sunlight altogether. So basically, it was sunny all day long for nearly five out of six months!


The one or two times it briefly rained each month, the media would go on as if it was the end of the world and that any rain needed to be outlawed as it was so terrible. I guess everyone missed the memo that we do need rain for all life to exist and flourish. In fact, the opinion of the general public and the media has basically been that global warming is the best thing to happen to Hamburg since sliced bread...


Please bear with me as it will take me quite a while to catch up with all of my friends and your beautiful as well as inspiring images. I did try to keep up with most of my friends during April and May, albeit it just was no longer physically possible for me and I am anything but out of the woods yet or even remotely stabilized as my rare genetic condition is progressive.


This post is my longest backstories ever after not posting anything for the past 6 months. I will be posting the other part of this backstory down the road as it goes into detail about the general environmental issues in Germany.


I am pretty sure my friends on here will need to line up a few coffees or something even stronger to get through this post just like it took a great deal out of me to write about what happened to my beloved songbirds this summer.


It also took quite a bit of time and research to make sure that all my facts and figures were up to snuff as I love debunking modern myths via scientific evidence. To be fair, I have seen even longer posts by other members on here though these usually involve actual chapters from budding novels ;-) Not to worry, I will make sure that my next uploads will be short and sweet!


I did have a slew of riveting stories to share with my friends before disaster struck here in August but I then got wrapped up with all of the extensive documentation efforts for the super nice and most helpful consulting ornithologist for NABU, the partner of the Audubon Society.


I was already in contact with him as well as the Director of the Edward Grey Institute and head of the Zoology department over at Oxford University all of July due to a rare and extreme case of Avian Pox in my one female visiting Dunnock here starting in June when the Pox devoured her one eye.


That story is quite the miracle and I will write about it all in greater detail when I get around to posting those harrowing images on here. Mrs. Nougat was the most amazing little bird as she survived the odds and made a full recovery. She even regained her eye as well as eyesight without anyone else coming down with this highly contagious and often deadly Pox.


All of June and July was spent fearing for the welfare of this lovely little Dunnock and all of my other smaller songbirds in terms of the Avian Pox while doing all that I could do to help my little friends out. Just as that was finally over, all hell broke out here in the form of the Usutu virus turning up for the first time so far up north. The devastating Usutu virus originally hails from the Usutu River in Swaziland.


Alas, the month of August 2018 turned into Songbird Armageddon around my place and town as the lethal Usutu virus made its way to Hamburg for the first time due to our extreme heat wave thanks to global warming.


Get this, most people I have run into around my area either firmly believe that global warming simply does not exist or that it is had nothing to do with us humans affecting the environment so adversely. You should hear their "sound" theories and I am talking about perfectly nice people who are seemingly intelligent as well as aware enough.


It does not matter what our local climate experts are saying or explaining in terms of how they can prove all of it scientifically. Next time, I am going to start checking whether people are still convinced that the world is flat and not round...


Global warming does not mean that every single spring and summer will be even hotter than the one we just went through. No, it has to do with extreme weather conditions worldwide plus the mean temperatures steadily rising, including the ocean temperatures. It only needs a few degrees to wreak even more havoc.


The Usutu virus has decimated the songbird population here, especially my beloved Blackbirds who always make up the majority of the victims in each region the virus first spreads to although Great Gray Owls have also been killed by it and it also affects bats as well as all other mammals, including horses.


And no, it is NOT transferred amongst the birds or via the birdbaths and feeders as some misinformed local media reports have claimed while misquoting the experts.


A local homegrown female mosquito (the males are harmless as they do not sting) has to bite the bird and either the mosquito already has the virus or it bites an infected bird. As mosquitos lay their eggs in standing water (even under flower planters), it is recommended to remove all standing water in the gardens or to rinse it properly off about once a week plus let it dry out as the life cycle for the eggs to hatch and the larvae to transform into the fully-fledged insects takes two weeks.


This does not mean to remove all the birdbaths! I change the water in my birdbath or birdbaths on a daily basis and always rinse them out before pouting in my double-filtered water. It is recommended to change the water daily in all standing water birdbaths to avoid the growth of bacteria and to keep it clean in case someone poops in it by mistake.


During the heat wave, I was changing it several times every day. I also scrub it once a week and if necessary, with boiling water which disinfects everything perfectly. Please never ever use any cleaning agents or bleaches on any birdbaths (or feeders) as they always leave a residue and this is toxic for our little friends plus can even be lethal.


And no, the larvae and eggs are NOT destroyed or harmed when it rains or one pours water over them as most people believe. They will just swim to the bottom when disturbed. You can tell if there are eggs and larvae in water as there will be lots of little "water" bubbles in one small area by the surface.


If the standing water is not too shallow, a goldfish or two will eat the larvae. If one has a little decorative pond, having frogs and fish will do the trick. Alternatively, a running water feature will keep the mosquitos from breeding there.


When I tried informing some of my direct neighbors, they simply shrugged their shoulders plus none of them had a clue as to what was happening. Most of them told me off and that it was too invasive to expect them to remove any standing water under the planters. They were just going to let nature takes its course as they were true nature lovers who do not interfere with nature unlike moi (according to them) even after I pointed out that the Usutu virus being in Hamburg has nothing to do with nature or natural selection.


Others stated that mosquitos are necessary for the birds to survive as the insect population keeps diminishing. Indeed, our insect numbers are disturbingly low but encouraging our local mosquitos to multiply with the Usutu virus flourishing inside them is definitely not helping out any birds as it is destroying them instead as of this summer.


Another neighbor claimed that once Usutu has killed off all of the Blackbirds in the region it would cease to exist as it would have nothing to feed off of and that the virus simply needs to run its course. Huh?! The Usutu virus can infect every single mammal as well as bird plus our local mosquitoes are not going to be wiped out, barring some asteroid flattening out this part of the world.


A few of my direct neighbors mentioned that they intend on living their lives the way they want to live them and they don't give a damn about what effect their actions have on others. And this coming from people who are part of my generation aka in their 40's and 50's.


I always thought that my generation was already way too self-obsessed. Never mind the self-entitled and dreaded selfie generation following mine. It all does not bode well for any possible future for our amazing planet. I give it less than 50 years at the going rate.


Without bees, no life can exist on this planet. On the flip side, without our species and our beloved pets, our planet would fare much better and not experience any of the current issues. That is how unimportant we are in the grand scheme of things, even if we take everything we do so seriously and think we are the center of the universe plus above all other species. We are so not.


The Usutu virus has turned into the most deadly bird virus of the year all over Germany. Locally in Hamburg, it has become the deadliest outbreak ever recorded in any city worldwide in terms of the birds, especially the Blackbirds. And it has basically just begun wreaking havoc around here...


It is very closely related to the West Nile fever, which is particularly deadly for the Raptors and which has also been confirmed in a several dead captive Owls together with a few wild Raptors and one Blackbird as well as one Horse this summer in Germany. When the West Nile virus invaded the United States, dead birds were falling out of the trees in New York City's Central Park back in 1999.


The Usutu virus was first confirmed in the songbirds in Germany back in 2011 when it decimated 90% of the Blackbird population along with other songbirds in the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg. Around 300,000 Blackbirds died from it in that small region alone that year. Just as a reference, there were about 8 million Blackbird nesting couples in all of Germany before Usutu struck this summer.


Basically, all of the Blackbirds and other Thrushes are gone in my part of Hamburg. Nearly every single one plus plenty of other darling songbirds like Tanni the Coal Tit, who spent his last 24 hours on my terrace under the ivy and whom I buried on the morning of August 8th at the height of the heatwave while the sewage from my various different neighbors was spilling out from my kitchen sink on the hottest and muggiest day of the year.


I also buried a junior Blue Tit that same morning only to discover that most of the junior Blue Tits and Great Tits, did not survive our brutal summer along with the various Finches and some Dunnocks as well as Robins, Wrens, Nuthatches, Starlings, and Jays in my neighborhood.


My BFF Fleur's super adorable younger sister Amselie spent most of the day on my terrace in a really bad state the very beginning of August although she had not even started her annual molt. I thought she would not make it but she turned the corner and was back to normal the next morning, though I have not seen her since.


At the time, I thought that she and the other affected songbirds were all suffering from the extreme heat. I thought that Tanni had died as a result of a heatstroke as his symptoms all lined up with that, including the neurological ones during the last part of his suffering and I could not find anything about Usutu in this part of Hamburg at the time. The extreme heatwave was over by August 10th.


Then my Fleur's hubby Velvet spent a week on my terrace the middle of August and I thought he would not make it as he was just sitting on the terrace tiles under the ivy all fluffed up with his eyes half-closed and hardly ever moving at all. He could hardly fly and I thought he would not survive the night on August 20th after it was touch and go all day. About once an hour a tiny small white fluid drop would come out of him, just like with the others who were affected.


Clearly, this was no longer the heatwave and I then found out via my NABU contact that Usutu was decimating the songbirds in Hamburg since the end of July. But, most people also assumed it was due to the heatwave at first.


I did my special brand of "Bird Reiki" with Velvet for a few days just like I did with Amselie, spending hours sitting on my terrace lounge table with Velvet by my feet until he finally turned the corner. He developed immunity which can sometimes happen to a handful of birds when the virus first appears in a region. Sadly, it is then NOT passed on to any offspring like what happens via mammals.


Velvet was also basically finished molting which is helpful when fighting off such a virus, as he has a very early molt which starts the end of May. Alas, after he was finally physically tip top again, I fear that Mr. Sparrowhawk snatched him up on August 27th in the backyard as I heard some terrible adult Blackbird screams for about a minute higher up and then I never saw Velvet again.


Mentally, Velvet was completely down as he lost all of his children, relatives and the love of his life my BFF Fleur so I was not sure he would want to hang on but clearly he wanted to survive as he came to me for help.


Of course, I am still hoping against the odds that Velvet is still alive and simply hiding out somewhere but he was quite attached to me so it would not make much sense for him never to stop by since that fateful day.


Usutu survives temps of minus 50C (-58F) and it survives in the eggs of our local mosquitos who transfer it to the birds as well as ALL mammals. Most of the Jays are also gone and Usutu has been confirmed this summer here in Hamburg in dead Blackbirds, Thrushes, Jays, various Tits aka Chickadees, Finches, Sparrows and Starlings plus Wrens, Robins, Dunnocks, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers as well as Bats.


Hamburg happens to be the epicenter of the massive outbreak this year. Usutu does not go away when it gets colder or so: it is here to stay and continue its devastation.


Contrary to popular belief, a very cold winter is actually great for the eggs and preserves them perfectly (think cryogenics) as long as temps are under 6C (42F). That explains why one is eaten alive around the lakes of the Scandinavian countries in the summer even though their winters are often truly Siberian.


If the temps are higher in the winter, the eggs will rot or get eaten by predators or develop fungal infections. If there is a very cold spell in March or April, that will also kill off the mosquitos nicely as they will not be prepared. But many of the buggers will find great hiding spots in basements and buildings.


Neither cats nor dogs will be affected by Usutu and 80% of people will not have any symptoms at all, though a few will have flu-like symptoms which doctors will mistake for the summer flu and those with severely compromised immune systems can end up with Meningitis.


My immune system is not compromised but my body cannot metabolize any toxins, including all man-made toxins that exist due to my rare inborn error of metabolism.


A small insect bite on my lower left leg (still swollen to this date) in June 2017 nearly ended me last summer and a simple cold can easily kill me, so Usutu is a real worry for me as I also go into life-threatening mitochondrial crises from any medication there is, including any alternative ones.


We actually had very few mosquitoes here in July and August due to the extensive drought but that kind of weather is exactly what enables Usutu to make its home here. I have mosquito netting on every window and door, but they still latch on to me and ALL repellants are toxic for me plus the natural ones have no effect.


In terms of the decimation of the songbirds, this year is the worst ever since it was first confirmed in Germany in 2011. The arbovirologists from the Bernhard-Nocht-Institute in Hamburg who are leading the investigation plus performing the bird autopsies and to whom I have spoken a few times have mentioned that this year is far worse than ALL of the past 7 years combined and it keeps spreading all over Germany.


August and September are the peak times as the mosquitos are packed with viruses, though October can also still be bad depending on the temps. Blackbirds seem to have a weaker immune system, especially as they usually start their exhausting 90-day annual feather molt after their last brood is finished sometime in August.


Thus, the mosquitoes have easy access to them where their feathers are gone like when their heads are partially bold during this phase plus all birds are in a weakened state during their annual molts and thus easy prey for any predators.


Plus the few birds who do develop immunity will not have much of a chance as while they are fighting Usutu, they are hardly able to move and they take to the ground as Velvet did at my feet for a few days. So, the 11 million 24/7 free-roaming house cats plus 2 million more stray cats alone in Germany are having the time of their lives going after the remaining songbirds...


Prior to this summer and Usutu, there were around 9 million nesting Blackbird couples in all of Germany, so nearly one roaming house cat per Blackbird. During every nesting season, our beloved pets are responsible for 90% of the nestling and fledgling deaths of all of the ground-breeding songbirds in my area including the Robins, Dunnocks, Wrens, and ChiffChaffs besides the Blackbirds plus quite a few parent birds as well.


Also, the Blackbirds were the main warning system in terms of the roaming cats as well as natural predators like the Sparrowhawks for all of the little songbirds who are now pretty lost and confused besides being even more stressed out than usual. Currently, around 80% of the songbirds in my entire neighborhood are now gone. The survivors keep calling out and looking for fellow survivors. The poor little junior ChiffChaff spends most of his day uttering his warning call everywhere together with the junior Wren.


So, I am beyond heart-broken as the more than 20 adult Blackbirds (not counting the juvenile ones) around my place were truly my family and they integrated me in all aspects of their lives plus kept me going as I have no one around here who checks in on me or is there for me. These past few years, the dear Blackbirds and Jays really took to looking after me and lifting up my spirits. They were all such special souls and I learned so much from them and through them.


I am still hoping against all the odds that there are still a few Blackbirds in my neighborhood, but it was looking pretty hopeless as there was no sign of them anywhere. The tons of untouched cherries in front of my bedroom balcony are proof. And no, our local Blackbirds are not migratory in any way. They always stay very close to where they were born and grew up in, meaning in the same area.


A miracle did happen just a few days ago on Thursday morning. Every day since the middle of August, I have kept "craning" my ears to see if I could detect a Blackbird call somewhere. I sometimes thought I heard something out back but then it usually turned out to be the Great Tits emulating various Blackbird calls.


I had my backyard balcony door open and then clearly heard the "quacking" sound of a Blackbird followed by a 100% visual confirmation of the silhouette in the ivy hedge! I could thus not tell if this was a female or a male Blackbird nor if it was an adult or junior one. Let's just hope whoever it is, he or she manages to stay alive and find their way to the ripe berries on the Wayfaring tree overhanging my terrace!


My terrace no longer is "The Enchanted Terrace" but has been morphed into the "Sole Survivors Club."


Currently still alive and somewhat kicking are the Robin brothers Sir Angelo and DJ (both born summer 2016) plus their first cousin Colonel Trudy (born July 2017), who just returned to her home turf a few weeks ago after an absence of exactly 6 months during which she went off husband-hunting for the first time. Our tiny miracle Robin seems very happy so I reckon she was successful with her brood and she has now morphed into a true little Buddha Angel. So, she is an ex-Colonel ;-) There also seem to be some very shy junior Robins flitting about.


My Great Tit Ziggy is now the biggest songbird still alive and he has taken over Velvet's role as head honcho of the area together with his lovely wife. Since the middle of September, he is back in his man cave every night aka guarding the Schwegler nest box for his wife. So, my favorite terrace roomie is back for the third fall and winter in a row now ;-)


But, like every fall, the various junior GT males are trying to snag that nest box so guarding it is way harder than it sounds. The junior GT males are very cute but so self-entitled. They are also the ruffians of my terrace. One of them will even go into the nest box when Ziggy is already in it.


So, Ziggy ends up spending half of the day in it as well when he is not defending it with his life! Often it is like the GT version of "High Noon" played at and in that nest box. At least it gives some semblance of business as usual on my terrace for this time of year ;-)


There is another cute GT couple around (possibly Ziggy Junior from 2017) plus the Blue Tit couple of Mr. Rosie Junior and wife (born summer 2017) as well as Mr. Rosie Senior, Miss Tanni the Coal Tit, Maxine the Crested Tit and new this year: a flock of 8 super adorable Long-Tailed Tits.


Also still alive are the two junior resident male Dunnocks from last summer as well as a junior Wren from this year and I also spied a juvenile Garden Warbler for the first time ever plus plenty of Wood Pigeons and Buzzards in the area as well as Mr. and Mrs. Sparrowhawk. Sometimes, I catch furtive glances of the Blackcap couple snagging a few berries form the Wayfaring tree overhanging my terrace and I also managed to get some dismal shots in of the pretty rare Lesser Whitethroat on his way to Africa a few weeks ago.


Sadly, the Jays have also not been coming around since the beginning of August, though this morning two Jays did briefly show up near my terrace. For the past 4+ years that I have lived here, they have always been on and around my terrace even when the acorn crop was good. There were more than 20 adult Jays as well, though the last time any juvenile Jays made it was back in the summer of 2014 when Flaushi and his two siblings were born.


Now, there are one or two couples left but they remain high up in the oak trees in the backyard and mostly completely out of sight. No more burying acorns around my flat but staying up high may enable them to survive as our local mosquitos will generally not fly higher than 20 meters aka 65 feet.


Here is a link to the album of the Blackbirds I had up and running, which I now renamed: The Telenovela Blackbirds RIP


The little darlings all have it so hard thanks to us humans. Between the pesticides, roaming house cats, annual summer trimming travesties, the glass windows which most people do not bird-proof and even the "eco-friendly" wind turbines. Now, this.


I already predicted that nearly all of the songbirds and other birds would be gone from Germany within the next decade unless the pesticides are outlawed, the roaming house cats are reigned in and everything else is re-thought. All of which is possible! But with Usutu on the loose, all bets are off and it would not surprise me if ALL our songbirds were gone by then as well as plenty of other bird species.


The Usutu virus here is also a result of us humans and was probably brought to Europe via goods that were imported and people who were infected in southern Africa plus also via the luggage as per the leading virologists. It first appeared in Tuscany in 1996, then moved on to Vienna and Austria as well as Hungary followed by the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany.


Sadly, the general public in my town doesn't really give a damn about the wildlife and most people do not even realize what has been going on except for where the streets were lined with dead Blackbirds and other birds as the Blackbirds generally all go into hiding during their annual molt between August - October.


After I questioned them, a few of my technically wildlife-friendly neighbors told me that they had noticed lots of dead Blackbirds lying around our little local pond during the first part of August, but no one wondered why and they just went about their business.


I warned everyone about the high price the wildlife and crops would pay due to the ongoing heat and drought back in May but everyone I ran into or dealt with just said who cares and they still react that way. The main thing is that it is super hot and dry now for half the year as the unusually warm temperatures have lasted from the early April until late September of this year. That is all the general public around here is keen on. - "Lujon" Henry Mancini


I was 27 when I was told I had an “old soul.” At that time, most of my friends were 15 to 20 years older than I. Not quite my parents group, but the one’s just under them. I liked hanging with that crowd. I liked their music, their rap, their smooth style of dress and manners, the use of perfume and cologne, and the way alcohol smelled on the breath. It smelled like the potential for sex.


Back then, people still dressed up to hit the streets on Friday night – especially when the eagle flew (payday); me too. While I loved the music of my generation, I loved the sound of jazz more. Sinatra, King Cole and Johnny Hartman were my favorite male swingers. And “The Count of Basie” (thank you Daddy-O Daylie) was one of my fave bands.


Sinatra & Basie – “Fly Me to the Moon”: (Please, please, please - dig the man's phrasing and timing!!!!)


I spent many years with the older crowd, learnin’ from the older cats. I also learned from the older women (40’s – early 50’s) that I found in my bed: the ones with those incredible, enticing laughs: alternately purring and growling - a woman’s laugh, not a girl’s giggle. The women that allowed me the honor of thinking I had seduced them. They’d even buy me gifts. I must admit – I felt so damn sophisticated and slick.


And when i hear the sounds of those great jazz voices and music of those feelings of "being cool, Daddy-O", still resonate within me.


These days we have no where to go where one can dress up, eat, drink, smoke and dance to jazz. No where to find young women (late 20’s to 30’s) who think they are so damn sophisticated and slick. Lithe and lissome, furry-fucky, little dolls whose giggle has not yet developed its enticing/intimidating purr and growl. Women upon whom an oldster might allow the honor of thinking that they have seduced us into their beds, and induced us to bring forth gifts from our wallets.


Naw, Baby-Girl. It isn't your power. It is, indeed, only money, the power of Dead Presidents and I eventually learned the older partner really gets the better of that deal. :-)


This is not a lament, mind you. I got in on it. It was the tail end, the lingering echoes, of that 40’s, 50’s and 60’s era of Friday night glamour, but I got enough to give me a genuine, deep, and long-lasting appreciation for the “art of seduction”: where the “journey and the end” are equally magical and both should be practiced and deeply savored.


Wes Montgomery, Bumpin’ (1966) – “Bumpin’ on Sunset”:


Love has always been for sale, in one way or another. It just feels as if the sale used to be conducted with more class and style, wit and guile, an arched eyebrow and a come hither smile.


So, now I sit on the back porch at sunset - on these smooth, silken-breezed, Friday summer’s eves. I’ll sip some chardonnay, put on the some of that finger-snappin’, toe-tappin’, back-crackin’ jazz - kick back and watch the sun, set.


☞ ✈ Amelia Earhart stands in front of her bi-plane called "Friendship" in Newfoundland, June 14, 1928. Earhart (1898 - 1937) disappeared without trace over the Pacific Ocean in her 1937 attempt to become the first woman fly around the world. The ( ERROR not 23- she was a still very young 41- ) 41-year-old vanished into the Pacific Ocean 24 hours after leaving Lae, New Guinea. Problems with radio-direction finding navigation are said to be the cause of losing track of Earhart and her flying partner, Fred Noonan. Other researchers assert that the plane ran out of fuel, and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. For years, millions of dollars were spent on investigations and deep sea probes, but with no luck. Fascination with her disappearance continues.

(Getty Images)


Amelia Earhhart - Aviatrix & Author

A gallery curated by νυяя тιנgєяιη:


" We also pay more attention to them when they are fashionable, stylish or attracted to & project commercial & consumer trends.


Please try to go against this trend by thinking carefully about what our choices say about us & our view of others as individuals... Be extraordinary & dare to follow & support those who have a voice- who allow us to evolve by going against established & accepted norms.."




I believe that the justification of art is the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men and not its shallow, externalized, public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenalin but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity. Glenn Gould Quoted by Geoffrey Payzant — Glenn Gould: Music and Mind.

"One cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but one can prevent them from building nests in your hair." -Chinese Proverb


A silly hat makes me smile. One of my weapons in my fight against the flood.


(Greetings Dear Flickrinos, this idea has been in my head for about a year and I have started and stopped reworked and deleted in disgust and thrown my hands up and whined and kicked the dog (well, I would've if only we had a dog... apologies to Susan). Is it what I had in mind? well, no, not really - and it just doesn't matter.


Anyway, this is about the little (and big) things that happen to us along the way... the people we lose, the friends that leave, the body that doesn't seem to skate as fast as I remember, the ideas that don't quite work out, the dreams that fade... my daily job is not to let it drown me, my spirit, my joy. I am reminding myself to be vigilant because all of this happens so very slowly... one drop at a time, grinding away and I look up and suddenly that joyful, exuberant man is gone, that smile is hard to find - and who the fuck needs that!


What's with the hat? well, i was gonna use a flower as a metaphor for my joy that I don't want to drown and then I figured 'what the hell - I love this hat!' it's as good a thing as any to save from the flood...


I have to tell you I went out to take some images for an idea I got when shooting at Green Lake the other day. As I was processing these things, the sky was a wonder and the shadows and my blocky coat and Penny said "these are interesting, what are you gonna do with them?" So I told her my idea and she said "Nah, put 'em up just they way they are." "I can't do that!" so I started playing with them and suddenly my 'Sorrow' idea resurfaced and off I went. :))


cheers, my friends. The grind goes on....




(I also want to give a special nod to a fellow flickrino who has had her share of wet feet this year - Robin, here's to you, my friend. I know you already have a hat of your own. -M)

9" x 12"

Arches 140#CP


Home. There are few other words in the language of humans that conjure up so many emotions and thoughts, images and memories. I feel as though I haven't seen my own for months .... and to finally sleep in my own bed, drink my own coffee, make order how of the remains of my hasty departure, are truly balms to the soul.


I chose flowers today, Iceland Poppies painted in between times of mom's wakefulness and sleeping; the quiet colors, simplicity and stark white of the paper to remind me of mom - her gentleness, simple ways, love of flowers.


She's finally well enough to be in rehab and moved there yesterday. She's still somewhat confused, and thinking she's in her former dwelling in Florida - but she's being looked after well and the stimulation of moving around more, exercising her new hip, eating with other people, should (?) we hope, give her a bit more liveliness and normalcy.


I too hope to return to a more normal schedule, but since her illness is long term, we'll all be preparing to repeat the last few weeks experiences.


What all this keeps telling me is how very precious each and every moment of our lives, the way we choose to spend each moment and with whom. I find myself even more grateful for those friends and loved ones who take the time to chat a moment, give a smile or a hug, have a cup of coffee, share their own lives. I have always found solace in the natural world and this continues even more.


The situation brings up the question, once more, of priorities, and how our lives are lived, and what is truly important. I've always been one to share such thoughts and ideas, and hope to do so here in words and images, as I too work through my own evaluations. I suppose we do this each New Year - resolutions of a kind. But I hope this 'evaluation' is far larger than dieting (again), keep off the cookies, and exercising daily!! LOL


Meanwhile, it'll be rest, a walk through the woodlands (isn't it unusually warm again???), and God willing, a bit of painting.


I'm thinking of starting a journal again - I used to keep one but I find it challenging to add one more thing to my day - so we'll see where my contemplations lead me.


Thank you once more for all your prayers and kindnesses. They have sustained me and my family more than you can know.


Biggest hugs ... and a heart of gratitude!

"Everything comes too late for those who only wait"

Elbert Hubbard


...when sadness is surrounding us, when there seems to be no's time to water the seeds of faith.....






"Ooh gurl theres only 6 of us left now...I only gotta knock down 5 more of these girls before that crown and title it mine, and trust me when I say that I'm gonna get it! Last week I got third...again...I mean third is good and dandy most of the time but ya'll I'm being so robbed of first its hella' ridiculous, ya get me? Well anyway for this shoot we had to pose with these long silk pieces on and work with the wind and lemmie tell you - I did not have a good time! The wind was being hella crazy and I kept losing my balance plus not to mention my piece of silk kept on dropping down almost revealing a few areas. I better get a good placing for this...because lord...model is so tiring!"


This photoshoot was actually SO hard like I had to take a tone of photos before I found one I was happy with. I hope that this one looks okay.


Hope you like it! :)


CALLED: 01/06

Jökulsárlón (lit. "Glacier Lagoon") is situated in south eastern Iceland, at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull, just East of Skaftafell National Park. It evolved into a lagoon after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. The lagoon, which is 200 m deep (approx 600 ft), has grown since then because of melting of the Icelandic glaciers. The lagoon now stands 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) away from the ocean's edge and covers an area of about 18 km2 (6.9 sq mi). Its size has increased fourfold since the 1970s. Teh Glacier lagoon is considered as one of the natural wonders of Iceland.


--- Did you know?: The rule is that only 1/10 of an iceberg is visible over the water surface. Thus, this chunk of ice is 10 times bigger than what you see! So its total size is somewhere in the range of 5 to 10 citybuses. It also tells us that The Glacier Lagoon is pretty deep; in other words it is approx. 200 meters (600 ft.) deep.


--- The Glacier lagoon can be seen along Route 1 between Hofn and Skaftafell. It presents a picturesque parade termed as “A ghostly procession of luminous blue ice-bergs through the 17 km2 (6.6 sq mi) (18 km2 (6.9 sq mi) as reported in other sources) Jokulsarlon Lagoon”. A boat ride of about 40 minutes in a broad bottomed boat, winding through the floating small icebergs of the lagoon, provides an enchanting experience.[2]

--- Jökulsárlón has been a setting for four Hollywood movies; 'A View to a Kill', 'Die Another Day', 'Tomb Raider' and 'Batman Begins'), in addition to the reality-TV series Amazing Race.


I went to an art expo yesterday, Saturday, March 12, 2011. "Perception" came up in conversation. More about that in a moment. - see the texture large. – with the subject matter, coulda’ picked jazz, coulda’ picked classical, or coulda’ picked country. Naw, too traditional.


Photo: Two or three months ago, I found these delightful, old flies in one of my fly boxes. Years old – like 40 plus. By today’s fly-tying and artistic standards these old flies would be considered somewhat “garbagey.” They aren’t neatly tied or properly proportioned for show and tell, illustration or layout. They are tied to be used; for catching fish. They were to be sold, gotten wet, hooked into a fish and/or lost. At that time, 40+ years ago, they were admired simply for being.


“Catch a nice fish, and that fly has earned its living” is my motto. It can be retired. So, I think of these old flies as mini-sculptures; little, functional pieces of art. After the fish is caught, take the fly home, put it in a shadow box with a photo of the fish it caught, complete with the fly in its mouth, and hang it on the wall for all to see.


“But, these aren’t tied very well,” many would say to me today. “See this, and that, and that there. Not very good.” And they would be accurate. In olden days, individual and personal style counted more than cookie-cutter, perfect replication. And, it isn't as if perfectly tied flies catch more or bigger fish. They don't. Perception of a "good fly" has changed.


I then I tell them who tied them: a well-known, long-time famous, fly-tyer, writer and lecturer who shouldn't be named here.


“Oh…OH!...Yes, I can see now. Tied by him, huh? Oh, very nice. Classics...”


These old, moth-eaten, raggedy flies moved from junk to craft to art in a matter of moments. Perception, again.


Art Expo: I went to an art expo yesterday. People wondered about my images. I've come to expect that. “Are these photographs, paintings, what? How did you do that? What did you do to them?” I’ve noticed that more people over 40 ask such questions - about photos, about flies - than do those considerably under 40.


I, of course, had answers, and a discussion ensued. Such discussions help me think, “what art are we making with our “photography,” here on flickr?”


British Philosopher Richard Wollheim (1923 – 2003) said, “The nature of art is one of the most elusive of the traditional problems of human culture."


And, German Philosopher Theodor Adorno (1903 – 1969) said, "It is now taken for granted that nothing which concerns art can be taken for granted any more: neither art itself, nor art in relationship to the whole, nor even the right of [the concept of] art to exist.”


The internet and its opening up of “artistic possibilities” to everyone, everywhere, all at once, all the time, has made the question, “what is art?,” well, if not moot, then something closely approaching that line. So, if not "art," what?


“The purpose of living is for each of us to develop ourselves to our fullest potential,” ~ Mr. Spock, Star Trek II.


Perhaps 21st Century words, placed into the mouth of a late 23rd Century character, are coming true faster than we could have imagined that they would.


“Will it change your feeling about the images, if I tell you how I did them?” I asked the man. (Sometimes I call them images, other times photographs). People say “oh, no” almost reflexively, but the searching look in their eyes, and their ever-so-slightly furrowed brows say, “No. Perhaps. Yes.”


Each conversation I have along these lines buoys me. I come away with less doubt about the path that I, and many of you, my photo/artist, flickr friends and contacts, find ourselves wandering down/over/under/around and through.


“Well,” he said, “perhaps you’re right. How many more Ansel Adamses does the world of photography really need?”




It is all…so…damned…exciting. I can barely sit still or breathe.


I hope you guys will forgive or indulge me. This is how my mind seems to work.


Natural light with dull-side, aluminum-foil-on-cardboard reflector fill.


Textures by The Usual Suspects: Flypaper, Distressed Jewell, Skeletalmess, KimKlassen


Dreams By The sea - "John Martyn" - Play this track here.


¿Whats this iPod Shuffle set all about? Read about it here


John Martyn, OBE (who passed away 29th January 2009), was a British singer-songwriter and guitarist. Over a forty-year career he released twenty studio albums, working with artists such as Eric Clapton and David Gilmour. He has been described by The Times as "an electrifying guitarist and singer whose music blurred the boundaries between folk, jazz, rock and blues.


This excellent track is from 'Solid Air', a folk jazz album released in 1973. Its a truly classic album and sounds as fresh as a chill-out album even today. "Solid Air", the title track, was dedicated to a friend of Martyn's, Nick Drake. Drake died of an antidepressant overdose 18 months after the album was released.


Martyn said of the track 'Solid Air' "It was done for a friend of mine, and it was done right with very clear motives, and I'm very pleased with it, for varying reasons. It has got a very simple message, but you'll have to work that one out for yourself."


If you fancy sampling more, checkout the 2009 Deluxe Edition, with an extra 16 live tracks, demos and outtakes. Tell 'em I sent you.




Leith is a suburb of Edinburgh where it meets the sea. It lies on the south shore of the Firth of Forth, Lothian, Scotland UK. Leith had electric street lighting from 1890, and electric trams from 1905 (only Blackpool was earlier in the UK). the trams are returning at great cost and more changes have improved teh Leith waterfront in recent years.


The Malmaison Hotel, beside the entrance to Leith Docks, at the Shore, Leith, shown here was formerly a sailors' home. "The Sailors' Home used to provide accommodation for sailors whose ships were in port. The Home contained comfortable rooms for each rank, a canteen, a low cost clothing shop, recreational rooms and a chapel.


It was an innovation in social care at a time when many workers lived in overcrowded slums. The angel in the stonework above the door was an emblem for the seamen's mission. Much investment has been made to improve the area from The City of Edinburgh District Council, Forth Ports Authority and the Water of Leith Conservation Trust.


The statue to the left is of Sandy Irvine Robertson OBE, wine merchant, charity promoter, founder of Scottish Business Achievement Awards, once wrote of as "one of those people who made life worth living. A bear of a man, standing six and a half feet tall, he had a heart the size of Scotland. He was mischievous, often outrageous, but never unkind, and those of us privileged to have known his friendship will be eternally grateful for it". Praise indeed.


Leith is known for its port and red wine imports and I assume he was linked to 'Irvine Robertson Wines' who are located just up the road. After his premature death (Born: 11 August, 1942, in Stirling Died: 20 June, 1999, aged 56), his friends commissioned a bronze statue on the waterfront at Leith. It was sculpted by Lucy Poett. She studied under Cubilt Bevis at The Heatherley School of Art in London and with the late Scott Sutherland RSA in Dundee.


NB: Like all the images on this stream, full size images are available, Check my profile for how to contact me.


Checkout more Leith, Edinburgh and other parts of Scotland from my photostream.


Keep in touch, add me as a contact so I can follow all your new uploads.


(c) TonySmith Hotpix / HotpixUK


( )

LARGE go before reading "wrong" tags to right. CIA is spying on my readers, right?


No one enters Explore without being favored, usually at least three times.

For all you my favorites favoring my fotos, blessed be you and yours I pray in appreciation. Give extra smiles out at your house, work, street each day.

People will like it and often smile back, wondering WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT SMILING PERSON. Our secret: nothing is wrong, just so thrilled to breath, I desire to pass on this act of friendship as a random act of kindness (RAK).

Lets fill our lives with RAK to those who are not even our friends yet.



Pink is from Picasa2 to add pizazz to bleached out 1/2. Picasa2 if a free add on from Google. No classes needed. How unlike PhotoShot's campaign to confuse all for hours.


My Grandmother’s Plot in the Family Cemetery


She was my grandfather’s second wife. Coming late

to him, she was the same age his first wife

had been when he married her. He made

my grandmother a young widow to no one’s surprise,

and she buried him close beside the one whose sons

clung to her at the funeral tighter than her own

children. But little of that story is told

by this place. The two of them lie beneath one stone.


Mother and Father in cursive carved at the foot

of the grave. My grandmother, as though by her own design

removed, is buried in the corner, outermost plot,

with no one near; her married name th only sign

she belongs. And at that, she could be Daughter or pitied

Sister, one of those who never married.


Poem by Claudia Emerson in

“late wife” (Louisiana State University Press 2005;

winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry”


Ten Commandments for a Loving, Responsible, Pet Owner...


1. My life is likely to last 10-15 years. Any separation from you is likely to be painful.


2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.


3. Place your trust in me. It is crucial for my well-being.


4. Don't be angry with me for long and don’t lock me up as punishment. You have your work, your friends, your entertainments. But I have only you. Your are the focus of my entire existence.


5. Talk to me. Even if I don’t understand your words, I do understand your voice when speaking to me.


6. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget it.


7. Before you hit me, before you strike me, remember that I have teeth that could easily crush the bones in your hand, and yet I choose not to bite you.


8. Before you scold me for being lazy or uncooperative, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I’m not getting the right food, I have been in the sun too long or my heart might be getting old or weak.


9. Please take care of me when I grow old. You too will grow old.


10. On the difficult journey, on the ultimate difficult journey, go with me please. Never say you can’t bear to watch. Don’t make me face this alone. Everything is easier for me if you are there. Because I love you so.


Take a moment today to thank God for your pets. Enjoy and take good care of them. Life would be a much duller, less joyful thing without God’s critters. Please pass this on to other pet owners.



EXPLORE # ___ on Wednesday, March 12. 2008.


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