Thursday, June 29, 2006

In South Carolina

What would a tour of the south be without a Red Brick Baptist Church? Exiting the interstate for gas, a cemetery was right next to the service station so I wandered in and looked around.

There was a gas station with snacks, a house with barking dog across the road and a church and cemetery. This was a full service exit. No attention to detail was missed and two old time condom dispensers were in the men's room. My intuition said take a picture of that too. I certainly haven't seen one of those in ages. I told my intuition to hush. To bad, it may have made for an interesting picture to go with the Red Brick Baptist Church. Next time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cracker House

There is a town I drove through to many times to count to get to Crescent Beach from Gainesville where we lived. Twenty years later the back roads that lead to the Atlantic Ocean are still etched in my memory.

Palatka Florida was always a sad looking town that looked like it was barely clinging to life. The bridge to cross the St. Johns River is there and for that reason you had to drive down the main street in town. It looked much the same as it did twenty years ago.

I saw this house and for whatever reason it appealed to me. The simplicity of design and construction, a reminder of a mind set that has long since past about what constituted a house.

I had to turn around to take pictures of this house and for the first time ever I got off of the main road through Palatka Florida. I got a little lost since several main highways joined very near this wooden box of memories and they all curved to a certain degree and had to accommodate the railroad tracks that also followed this corridor.

Off the forlorn main road that took you across the river was a real city that I had never seen and never known. Older well tended suburban streets and new business centers with the usual box chain stores were just a few blocks over. I had to drive through Palatka once more for a trip to some springs and took the back roads on purpose this time to see the face of a city I had always passed by.

There is something about this house that appeals to me and Palatka has grown larger and earned a respect I never gave it before.

Big Forest Little Forest

Blogger photo uploading is working again. If I get bored and have time I will change the PhotoBucket pictures in the previous post. At the moment I am procrastinating from work. Yesterday was a very long day.

The big forest floor in a Pine and Turkey Oak forest Florida woods.

The little forest for your meditation pleasure. A collection and display of Bonsai at the North Carolina Arboretum.

I have been to the Mountaintop

(Click on any image for a larger view.)

A cool green forest Eden awaits after the day long drive from the sweltering low country, a place of refuge from the heat and frantic pace of a burgeoning human world closer to the waters edge.

The final stretch of road is an ascending quiet country lane. Through the gate lies a garden where nature has an equal hand.

The lush green forest opens slightly to make room for the touch of a gardener's hand. A transition from shade to dappled light and then stronger sun.

Paths traverse a hilltop meadow, a tapestry that changes delicately each day and more boldly with each passing month and season.

I was way too late for the spring daffodils, crocus and mountain hyacinth and I was told I was two weeks too late for the iris and the particularly grand glory this year of the rhododendrons. It was too early for the hosta and daylilies that were readying themselves by pushing up hundreds of fat flower buds.

To me it did not seem too early or too late. I was here now to be with this place as it was today. I would have missed this if I had been here another day.

Flowers of all kinds speckled the mountaintop meadow every where the eye looked. Perhaps there were no current bold swaths of single colors and single species being dominant, but a sharing of many smaller blooms that spoke of a transition that engaged the eye and the mind to a greater degree led to new discoveries each day.

Native azaleas had waited their turn not wanting to clash with the reds and pinks of the rhododendrons. They could speak for themselves.

Siberian iris moved to their own rhythm, letting the bearded giants go first.

Roses of many types were in full bloom or beginning to show.

This mountain had been tended before. The forest always waiting had been given a chance and returned. Trees now grow inside the house.

A new pocket was cut in the trees for a small cottage to shelter the current caretakers of this mountaintop gap into the next valley. The spirit of the forest and the gardener began to merge once more.

Space was cleared around and between the tall trees and a carpet of colors nestled gently into the soil at their feet.

In this sharing with the forest a unique garden has emerged.

Guarded by the spirits of nature and created in the spirit of art a garden thrives.

The trees are given voices and Trunk Daddy smiles.

Some of the gifts that parents can give their children can not be measured in ordinary ways.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Blogger Photo Uploading is Down

I have been trying for the last 24 hours to finish a post on a mountaintop meadow garden. Blogger photo uploading is not working and from their help area I found a forum and read that others are having similar problems.

Photos are posted in reverse order. The last picture in a post is the one I upload first. My mountaintop meadow garden has no beginning and will have to wait until the problem is fix.

I give up for now.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Artistic Inheritance

This is a painting by my grandfather William Alexander C. In Florida. He worked for the Florida Times Union newspaper for much of his career as I believe what was called an engraver. He did the work to produce pictures for the paper. Photography did exist but I do not think the ability to transfer a photograph onto the printed page was very well developed and still had to be etched into a plate for the printing press when he began his profession back around 1895. Compare that process to what I am doing now for this blog in my own home with a digital camera and a computer.

My grandfather was 20 plus a few years older than my grandmother and died at the age of 92 when I was 3 months old. I never knew much of him except for the four seasons landscape paintings that lived in our house with us as we grew up.

This painting has always fascinated me because of the expressions on the faces of the women as they all look at the younger man. I have always called this painting The Fisherwomen or The Fishwives because of the element of displeasure seen in some of the expressions.

I have always wondered what this scene was all about until it dawned on me as I was starting this post that my grandfather was the only son and youngest child of six. He had five older sisters. I can hear them now saying "Where have you been child? There are chores to do boy." His sisters now gaze at him, each with their own reaction as he tells them some tale about what he has been up to, where he has been. People may not change as much or as quickly as technology has. This painting may be a memory of my grandfather's childhood in Scotland where he was born and lived until he immigrated to America when he was in his twenties.

We are having Gatorade weather which means I can not consume enough water to stay hydrated and need to drink Gatorade to keep my salt and electrolyte levels balanced, otherwise I tend to get dizzy and light headed. A combination I think of middle age, Oh Lord, and global warming. Maui was not like this 19 years ago when I first moved here. Coming from Florida I scoffed at people here who complained that it was hot.

Still by the time I get home my brain is pretty much mush. The distance from my brain to my fingertips and the keyboard has become immense. It is going to be slow going here for a spell.

Dangerous Words

In the last few weeks I have managed to upset a number of people with words I have written, words that I have spoken or words that someone thinks they heard me say. I have a very low tolerance for upsetting people. I don’t deal well with the conflict and I want everyone to like me. I would like that aspect of my character to change some what.

In one case I intended to stir the pot with my words. I challenged a couple of pushy broads in a public forum dedicated to controversial topics. It came as a major shock to me when the husbands of these less than timid women felt the need to come to their defense. That was not a reaction I felt comfortable being the cause of.

I used the particulars of someone’s life to express my own opinion and after the fact asked for permission. I can understand being told no. I was a little surprised by the degree of hurt it seemed to cause.

I avoided saying directly something that needed to be said, hoping that body language and not so subtle discouragement would send the message. I kept putting it off because I knew it wouldn’t be received well. I didn’t want to deal with the hurt it may cause. I should have said something sooner. When I finally gathered the courage to say what needed to be said it was not well received.

I wrote a proper business letter that got someone very steamed. That was certainly not my intent. I can only guess as to what it was that I wrote that upset them so, since the hand-scrawled note on the back of my letter didn’t indicate which part exactly had upset them. The barely legible note on the back of my recycled letter arrived by mail many weeks later. The part about being upset was blacked out by a marker and I held it to the light to read it. This may have been a clue that my innocent comments about technology making the mechanics of writing easier and younger folks being more computer savvy were unwarranted and directed to the wrong audience. I certainly hope this was a sarcastic format response and not the true nature of a business that makes a living with the written word.

Someone overheard a phone conversation I was having and misinterpreted the meaning of words I said and heard words I did not say about thoughts I do not have and never have had. If you are going to listen in on someone’s conversation please hear it right. I have enough trouble with what I do write and say.

I did not keep true to some words I said a week ago and did not call to excuse myself. That can still come back to haunt me. I was out of words. I had no more words to say and no more room for words to hear. I needed to be alone with as few thoughts as possible.

So what is the point?

This last month I have felt a real chill on my ability to express myself freely for fear of hurting someone else’s feelings. I have choices about what to do. I can avoid writing about people as much as possible and stick to plants and nature. I can avoid dealing with and speaking to people as much as possible and stick to plants and nature. That is not a healthy choice for me, a hermit of sorts by nature. I can learn the art of fiction and change things to obscure actual people. I can develop a thicker skin and learn to deal with conflict. There are probably other options I have not thought of yet.

Perhaps this is a good time to reveal the fact that I am a sober alcoholic. I have not had a drink in over five years. I can no longer hide from, avoid, dull or ignore my feelings with the use of alcohol. I have to learn how to deal with them. I understand why some people can’t stay sober and I understand why some sober alcoholics commit suicide. I have had more thoughts about wanting to drink in this last month of dangerous words than ever before. The fact that I own a computer and am actually writing words down is because I have continued to stay sober over a long period of time. Alcohol can take it all away very quickly.

I have about 210 photographs from my travels in Florida and North Carolina. As I organize and edit them I need to be thinking about the stories they can tell and how to tell them with words that can often be dangerous. You see dangerous words can be somewhat of a dilemma for me. They come partly from being sober but they may become an excuse to drink if I do not handle them with care.

If people do not seem to be much of a point of focus of my attention you can attribute that to hyper-sensitivity from both sides. The instant nature of publishing and world wide access of the web may contribute to my reticence to write about people and new found respect for individual privacy.

This is a sculpture at the North Carolina Arboretum just south of Asheville, a truly spectacular botanical garden. I wish I had taken a close up of the plaque giving the artist’s name and description of the work. It was titled “Extinction”. It some how seems appropriate for this post with all the human hands competing for attention and clutching at nature.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Other Oceans

The Atlantic Ocean on June the 17th 2006 just north of the mouth of the St. John's River on Little Talbot Island. It is a long way back to the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the island of Maui.