Fascinated by the inky substance produced by these mushrooms, I wandered through their moist world to capture their various stages of growth and deterioration. These are ink cap mushrooms; coprinus comatus (for the shaggy-looking ones) or coprinus atramentarius (for the smoother-looking ones).
They are edible, but be cautious because they do not interact well with alcohol. The best time to pick them is before they begin opening their gills and secreting the ink. If these interest you at all to eat, then you must do so within hours of picking because they will continue to degrade even after picked. Alcohol should not be consumed within 48-72 hours before and after eating. Doing so causes vomiting, stomach irritation, reddening of face, agitation, and palpitations (and I’m sure other symptoms). Flavor is bland, from what I’ve read. Frankly, I don’t know why I’d eat them when there are friendlier mushrooms out there. But I loved watching them curl up on themselves and turn into an ink-like substance.
It’s halfway through September and I’ve not fully returned to blogging. I took August off in order to regroup and to refocus since I felt like my posts were irrelevant, and I was falling into a comfortable but uninspiring rut that consisted of my past but not my present. As much as I like the 365 Days Journey Through the Past project, I equally don’t like it because it takes up time I would rather spend doing something else with my blog.
That being said, I am still continuing the project, but I’ve taken it over to Flickr. That works for me and frees me up here to pursue other creative endeavors. I will continue to post a monthly photo wrap up, though.
List of what I love but have neglected:
- Words: creative writing, fiction, creative non-fiction and a bit of dabbling in poetry until it embarrasses me and I set it aside.
- Art: book art, collage, acrylics, art journals
- Photography: Yes, I have neglected photography. Most of what I post is from my past, not my present. One of my purposes with taking August off was to figure out what kind of photography excites me. I wrestled all month with it, teasing out the joy from the prosaic until I discovered my photographic raison d’etre. I love photo journalism. I love documenting something, ANYTHING.
- Travel: I’m more at home away from home. Always have been.
- Storytelling: Storytelling in all its forms. Fiction. Non-fiction. Photography. Art. I truly believe we are a storied people, that we live stories and live in stories, and that we yearn for them.
I’m setting into motion a couple of new projects. (I love projects!!! They give me direction and boundaries, and they end so that I can begin the next project!) These projects incorporate all of the above. They’re difficult to describe but includes all the creative things I love to do.
I wanted to include a photo for this post. I chose this one because it represents all that I love: words (graffiti), art, photography, travel—it’s on a platform next to the train tracks, symbolic of travel—and it tells a story, if not in words, in sentiment.
CNN Health contacted me recently. They saw my State Fair photos on Flickr and were interested in using possibly three of them for an online article they are doing on fair foods. Of course, I said “YES!”
But this post isn’t about my photos being selected by CNN for publication. This post is about the fact that they aren’t paying to use my photos, just giving me photo credit. What??? you say. You’re doing a freebie for CNN! How – how – how dare you.
I know. This can be a contentious topic. “I have a photo opportunity for you that will look good in your portfolio. We can’t pay you, though, but it’s a great opportunity!”
Ever heard that? I have. Many times!!!! And I DO NOT AGREE WITH IT! I take offense to it.
So why did I let CNN have my photos for nothing more than a photo credit? I have thought about this on many occasions because this tends to happen to me (though not from anyone even remotely close to CNN’s status). I have had to understand why I don’t balk at saying yes in these situations, but still adamantly oppose “taking photos for free” with the assurance that it will be a great experience for me and one I can add to my portfolio.
Here’s what I’ve discovered.
I went to the Indiana State Fair and took photos for my own enjoyment. I had no plans, other than sharing them on Flickr. It was enjoyable for me to be at the State Fair and to find photo opportunities. No one asked me to do it. And that’s the difference. NO ONE ASKED ME TO DO IT.
CNN didn’t come to me and say, “Hey, we have an assignment that will be a great opportunity for you. Take photos of fair foods and we’ll give you photo credit only. It will be a great portfolio piece.” The fact that CNN came to me and requested use of my photos is part of the original experience…something that resulted because of something I did, not something someone else asked me to do.
So I find it to be an honor that my photos have been singled out.
Here are the three photos they requested for consideration. They selected the first photo for publication. You can see the article at CNN Health and my photo is the second photo in the slide show.
Subject line in email:
It’s out. Now that everyone knows I’m rebellious and, therefore, a sinner, they want my services. I wish they wouldn’t ask me through email, though, because that stuff is traceable. I prefer to sin offline where it is harder to detect. When I run a yellow light (a grievous sin if ever there was one), I don’t want it easy to track me down.
But since I’m just starting out on my road to egregious sinning (I drive barefoot all the time, with my shoes clandestinely set to the side on the floorboard in a place where I can quickly put them on if I’m pulled over), I take the sinning jobs when I can.
I dared to open the email.
Well! That is something completely different! Dangit, I soooo wanted a sinning job. But a singing job will do. Except…
I opened the attachment, expecting to see a music score. Instead, I saw a contract!! A CONTRACT!!! He wanted me to SING A CONTRACT!
I remember an anecdote where Ray Bradbury (I believe) walked into his publisher’s office and sang his contract because that’s what they asked him to do in the letter they sent him (this was before email), then he left. I’ve always wanted to do that. Now I have the opportunity. I get to SING A CONTRACT! Just like Ray Bradbury!
The downside is that of late I’m not in good voice. It has been a long time since I’ve sung, and although I’m not half bad, I’m also not half good.
So I asked my friend, who is a tenor extraodinaire, if he would coach me. He lives in Kentucky so I had to get on this right away if I was to be in good voice by morning.
I practiced all night — mostly in my dreams.
The next day, I got a phone call.
“Please fax the signed contract to…..”
What?? How can I sing through a fax machine??? This is ridiculous.
On the bright side, I didn’t have to sin.
Yeah. I couldn’t resist. And the Door Police didn’t come after me.
At first I didn’t know what to do. Since I pre-posted this week’s photos for 365 Journey Through the Past, I can’t use it as a default post. I meandered across the Internet, checking out The Usual websites, all the time wondering how to approach this week. I already felt disconnected. My morning habit had been thrown and I stumbled and started, flitting here and there, lost.
Then I noticed my unpublished “About Me” page and realized I had a lot of blog housekeeping I wanted to do but didn’t have time because I spent it on researching my images and creating posts about them. Hmmm. So this week I hope to focus more on the back end of my blog.
I love exposed tree roots, especially those of ancient trees. It’s a metaphor for me to do something I find difficult to do, establish roots. During this week, I hope to establish firmer blog-related roots so that I can continue to grow.
I hadn’t taken a real photo in weeks. Oh, I’ve been playing around with the iPhone and having fun with Instagram and Snapseed, two apps that add a little funk to photos, but I hadn’t taken a dedicated camera out, not even my point-and-shoot!
Also, I was out of wine. I had a growler I could fill with wine from New Day Meadery—a local winery with soooo delicious wine—so I decided to head to Fountain Square where they have a tasting room. I wanted Snap Dragon, a fizzy, crisp, apricot cider that tastes like summer in a glass.
Fountain Square is one of three designated art districts in Indianapolis. I knew if I walked around a bit, I would find interesting subjects to photograph.
But it was a hot, hot, hothothot day and after 20 minutes in the blazing sun, I gave in to an air-conditioned car. Besides, I couldn’t let my chilled cider warm up in the car while I walked around, now could I? I didn’t leave empty-handed, though. Fountain Square is a photographer’s mecca. I can just imagine this on a weekend or at night when lots of people pack the sidewalks.
All this in 20 minutes around one block. When the days cool down, I will go back. And then the fun begins!
It was scorching today in Indiana! 104°F! It nearly topped its all-time high record 0f 106°F [41°C].
I think it lies. It is always registering about 4° higher than what I hear on the news while I’m driving. Even so, it was HOT! And I couldn’t touch the steering wheel without my fingers dancing up and down to keep from burning. And I know I’m probably sounding like I’m whining to all you Southerners or Equatorians. But it’s HOT!
Two things happened over the weekend. I got an iPhone and I went to a wine tasting at Chateau de Pique. This is the result.
To put in context, though, Chateau de Pique established their tasting room in an old train station, only a few feet away from the tracks. They kept as much of the old wood, doors, and hardware as they could.
Inside, it smells of old, cared-for wood, and the decor is elegant in a down-to-earth way. They found an old train conductor’s hat while remodeling and loved it, so they have it on display. And in the bathroom above the commode, I found the above words of wisdom.
A tree dripping with shoes surprised me as I sped past it at 60mph (96kph for those who use kilometers) on SR421. I hit my brakes but too late to turn into the nearby driveway without swerving and perhaps sliding into a ditch. Luckily, no one was behind me. Instead, I continued north until I found a place to turn around.
Who hangs shoes on trees on a main state road? Who nails sneakers to the trunks? Who scatters shoes under the tree? All these questions passed through my thoughts as I stared at this curiosity.
I looked around for clues and noticed the rusted cars lined up on an old paved lot behind the tree.
They looked like old muscle cars or perhaps stock cars or, well, I really have no clue since I am clueless about cars. But they looked like they have potential and are not headed to a scrap yard.
Prominent “Keep Out” and “No Trespassing” signs stood out everywhere. But the only barrier to keep people out was a blue cord draped across the property. Hardly a deterrent for anyone wanting to get a closer look at the cars.
So I started thinking. Lots of warning signs prominently placed but with a flimsy barrier that serves no purpose except to define where the “keep out” zone begins. Hmmmm. So how DO they keep people out?
That’s it! It must be the tree! See all those shoes? Those are the shoes of the many who trespassed. Those shoes belonged to people who dared to cross the barrier and sneak onto the property to…to, what? Look into a window? Steal a car? Well, whatever their motives, they passed the barrier.
And that’s when all hell broke loose. I don’t know what happened. Dogs? Electricity? Zombies? Aliens from Ursa Minor? Whatever it was, no one escaped. All that remained were shoes and those shoes were hung on the tree as a warning.
Let this be a warning to anyone who comes across a tree draped in shoes. Don’t challenge it. Just marvel at it and be thankful that you still have your shoes.
(Disclaimer: This is a story I made up. I do not know the real reason for the shoes. I’m quite sure it’s not zombies, though. The zombie apocalypse hasn’t yet begun.)
It’s one thing to recover from the flu in the apartment, where the most energy you expend is in walking from the bedroom to the kitchen and making coffee. It’s quite another to go outside and hike down to a river and back up. And what I mean by “hike” is to walk down about 10 stone steps, wander along the banks for about ten feet, start coughing, pull yourself up a steep embankment, look for a dry spot of spring dirt, sit, and calm your heart while still coughing.
I am not good at convalescing.
But I did enjoy myself. I went to the Indianapolis Art Center. It’s near where I live and they have the ARTSPARK, a 12-acre landscape of interactive sculptures placed amongst wildlife and vegetation. It was designed by Michael Graves (yes, THE Michael Graves) and is one of my favorite places to visit when I want to relax.
I debated whether or not to walk down to the White River banks because I knew I was still weak, but the stone steps seemed easy enough. Once on the banks, I could smell the watery decay that accompanies decomposing vegetation. Not pleasant, but not bad, especially since there were no flies or mosquitoes this early in the season. I focused on the lazy flow of the river and the trees that grew from the banks. My sandals sunk into mud at times and I teetered on toppling over at other times as I stepped on roots and uneven ground. But it was worth it because I found this incredible tree with huge roots spreading and sinking into the Indiana clay.
I love huge trees and if they have exposed roots, so much the better. The roots hint at the mysteries of the underworld and of the character of the tree. Once, in Tennessee, I met a great old tree with exposed gnarled roots that demanded attention. This tree stood guardian to the wood beyond. I felt like I was in the presence of ancient wisdom.
It didn’t take too long for me to succumb to coughing, so I hiked back up the embankment—not all that far really; just a few feet—and sat down to rest and cough. A few minutes later, I left…slowly…to avoid more coughing fits. On the way out, I stopped for a few shots of the Twisted House sculpture by John McNaughton.
It was the spring daffodils that popped against the dreary background that I really loved, though.
I slowly made my way out of the ARTSPARK and to my car where I drove home, fixed a cup of afternoon coffee, and relaxed from my excursion outdoors. Hopefully today I will be able to do more because I refuse to miss Spring.
Two weeks going on three. That’s how long it has taken me to shake off the flu. I clung to health, clawing to hold onto it. Ultimately, though, the flu won and I felt like I fell into some kind of fever oblivion. I lost two weeks to the flu and almost one week to catching up on work and other projects that I couldn’t deal with while fighting 102° fevers.
Enough, though. I am well and although I have not yet left my apartment to enjoy the wonderful spring weather that snuck up on me while I was out, I still wanted to post a photo of something fresh and uplifting.
Garfield Park Conservatory provides a tropical refuge even in winter. In January I went to see a blown glass exhibit in the conservatory. I have a few photos on my Flickr account with more of the blown glass and other tropical plants. I need to add more, though. It’s not complete.
Now I’m off to enjoy Spring!
Europe, I thought. Belgium. Brussels. I remember that Rue just down from the Grande Place somewhere. I remember the corner triangle, the old buildings, even the Smart cars. There were Smart cars in Belgium long before there were Smart cars in the USA. Yes, I remember. Such a lovely, old city. Except…
…it’s not Brussels. It’s downtown Indianapolis. And those aren’t Smart cars. They’re normal cars. But…???
I’ll tell you my favorite downtown photography secret. Shhhh. *Indianapolis Power and Light* (IPL). Seriously. If you go downtown, go to IPL on Monument Circle and look in their windows and at their mirrors. You will be amazed at the variety of photographic opportunities you’ll find there.
Look! It’s Loomis-Fargo & Co., armored transport for all your security needs. I’d trust my money to it. It’s so cute! And, as we all know, cute is important when you need armored transport.
Besides for the fun-house mirrors, IPL also has these beautiful colored mirrors inside the building viewable through picture-glass windows. They make for great abstract images as you can see with the above photo. Yesterday’s post was of a photo taken through the window looking into a round, green mirror.
I left Monument Circle and, being chilled because, after all, it was February, I went to Starbucks on Ohio Street. I ordered a grande, no whip, white peppermint mocha and sat at the long table facing the street. As I warmed up and sipped my coffee, I noticed the reflections in the windows of the building across the street.
After a while, I turned inward to think about, oh, I don’t know, whatever was on my mind at the time. That’s when I noticed the reflection of my hand in the window. A single ring graced my finger. I took it off and placed it on the countertop.
I’m fascinated by mirrors and reflections. A lot of my photography incorporates them. It’s because I see life through reflections. I don’t see it clearly. Sometimes, though, I wish I did.
The clouds washed over me like an upside-down ocean. I raced to grab my point-and-shoot camera from my purse before they morphed into something more mundane. I had been reading about lenticular clouds in Galen Rowell’s book “Mountain Light” and what causes them so I was primed to look for unusual cloud formations. I ran through the parking lot snapping whatever photos I could get and I wondered if anyone else noticed them. No one seemed to be looking up even though I was making a spectacle of myself.
I really wish I knew what air pattern caused these cloud formations. I want to call them wave clouds, especially the first one, because it looks like a small ocean wave with white caps. I also want to call them lenticular clouds, but my understanding is that lenticular is only encountered on the lee-side of mountains because of the way the air drops down. Indiana doesn’t have the right geography to cause lenticular clouds. The converging of these cloud forms seems to be creating a vortex; not a vortex for a tornado, but a vortex into the sky and I wished I was directly under them to see what lay beyond.
Just as fast as these clouds coalesced together, they changed into something less dramatic.
In my readings on Rowell, I am learning that it’s not always just luck that gets you the photo. It’s also knowing the environment and anticipating the possibilities and then seeking them when they present themselves. Although it’s not about clouds, one of Rowell’s most memorable photos, Rainbow over the Potala Palace, Lhasa (Tibet, 1981), didn’t just happen because he was standing there. The story goes that he and other photographers were in Tibet when the rainbow appeared. In his mind’s eye, he envisioned it shining down on the Potala Palace. Unfortunately, the Palace was nearly a mile away. So Rowell went running, keeping himself at an angle that would maintain the rainbow. No one else followed him since they already got their rainbow shots and were ready to call it a day. Rowell knew the properties of rainbows, the angle he needed to maintain to keep it in sight, how much time he might have before the light was not conducive for rainbows, etc., and he got the shot. But he wouldn’t have if he didn’t understand the properties of rainbows.
When I look at these clouds, I wonder what caused them so that the next time the environment offers up a similar situation, I am ready with a better camera and lens to make the photo.
(I’ve uploaded each cloud separately to my Flickr account. You can see them here.)
UPDATE (2/25/12): Gary at krikitarts said they’re called ‘Asperatus’ clouds. You can read about it in this online article: The cloud with no name: Meteorologists campaign to classify unique ‘Asperatus’ clouds seen across the world. According to The Cloud Appreciation Society, the name isn’t official yet because they must have the blessing of the World Meteorological Organisation in Geneva. But the term has been widely adopted anyway and has a strong chance of becoming a new term.
When I was in grade school, my teachers sat the new kids next to me or encouraged me to befriend them. I remember Charlene in first grade. She was of Latin American descent and rather shy. We pal’d around for a few months until she found her place in class and friends that lived closer to her. In third grade it was Theresa from Canada. I really liked her. She had my mother’s Canadian accent (yes, there is a slight accent) and already knew how to write cursive. We played together on the playground until she finally moved away later that year. In fifth grade, my teacher hooked me up with Cheryl. By this time I was more mobile and could go to Cheryl’s house to hang out. But in the end she was more rebellious than me (Haha, like I was even close to being rebellious! NOT!) so I felt uncomfortable hanging with her.
Anyway, I tell this story to remind myself that there was a time when I was the friendly one, the first person people were attracted to because of something about me that allowed them to feel comfortable. Unfortunately, today, that isn’t the case. Somewhere along the journey of life I stopped being openly friendly. Somewhere along the journey of life I learned to hold my friendship back until I knew I could trust the person I was meeting or associating with to return the favor. Somehow, I set up walls and began to wait for the other person to make the first move, extend the first signs of friendship, or show any sort of interest in talking to me. I ended up waiting for friendships to happen to me.
This year I became aware that I have even extended this “waiting” to my own children. They don’t live with me, so I wait for them to contact me in order to initiate any kind of dialogue. Waiting has become so second nature to me that I don’t think much about it. But when my birthday came and went and no one remembered it, I started thinking about why that was so. That’s when I began to see that maybe it’s because I don’t reach out to them first at other times. Thanksgiving came and my son in Boston was the first to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving. I realized that had he not, I may not have said anything to him! Then the Christmas season arrived and other people would initiate the “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” greetings. It wasn’t until Christmas morning when someone on Twitter, someone I hardly know, sent me a Christmas greeting that finally woke me up to how poorly I am at making/being friends. So I started thinking, if someone I hardly know can send me a Christmas tweet, why couldn’t I do the same to others?
That’s when I determined that I would stop waiting for others to make the first move. I would be the first to be kind. And so, my 2012 mantra was born.
BE FIRST TO BE KIND.
Be first to tell someone they inspire you or that they look good or that you like [fill in blank] about them. Be first to send out birthday cards (something I don’t do), send an email just because, send out holiday cards. Be first to wish someone a happy birthday, a happy Mother’s day, a happy [whatever holiday]. Just Be First. To Be Kind.
This is my goal for 2012.
I received a fedora as a birthday gift back in 2008. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it as I hadn’t worn a hat in decades. My friend said, “It screamed your name.” I thought, “It probably screamed, ‘DON’T GIVE ME TO DEZRA.’” But I graciously (I hope) accepted the fedora and wore it on that hot August day for the rest of the day. As the months passed and I kept looking at it, I asked myself, “Why did my friend think this hat was ME?” I was totally flummoxed. I felt totally awkward even having it in the house.
Then I changed the question and asked, “Well, if she thought it screamed my name, then what about ME says I wear hats?” So I challenged myself to wear it to see if others thought the same. Apparently they did.
What I think happened is that in American culture, hats weigh in as counter-culture (we are not a hat-wearing nation) and counter-culture is equated with creatives. Because of my love for art/photography/design, I am considered a creative. So hats fit me. (I also look good in them!)
Unfortunately for the fedora, I left it at a restaurant and failed to realize it so I lost it. But fortunately for me, I have picked up a variety of other hats. I even name them. (Actually, they tell me their names.) This one’s name is Bianca. Tomorrow I’m considering posting Gertrude.
This time of year is a visual delight. People go all out in decorating their homes with lights so that the night dazzles.
When I was a child, I loved the night dad announced, “Let’s go look at Christmas lights!” My siblings and I rushed to bundle up in our winter coats and ran out to the old Buick. I loved driving in the cold with mittens on my hands, snuggled in the back seat with my brothers. We frosted up the windows with our breath as we searched out some of the most beautiful (and probably outrageous) Christmas lights. Dad always knew where to go. My eyes grew big as we slowed down and passed by the colorful lights strung around eaves and windows and wrapped around trees. We especially ooh’d and ah’d when we’d see deer ‘grazing’ on the lawn. What a delight! They weren’t lit up back then like they are now and were rather scarce, so it was always a treat to “catch” sightings of deer on the lawns.
Once we exhausted all the decorated houses, we then went home where my mom turned on the stove and heated up milk for hot chocolate (this was also pre-microwave era).
I carried on the tradition with my kids. We wrapped ourselves up and drove around town at night to see how others decorated their homes. Many times we ended at a park where we drove slowly along the winding roads and marveled at the twinkling outlines of moving Santas and “flying” reindeer, at the green lights of the Grinch smiling his grinchy smile, and at the simple glow of the Nativity in the dark night. There was even a dragon at one park!
Nighttime is magical at this time of year. I love it tremendously!
But then something happened. Someone came up with new decorations, decorations that were clunky and tacky and unsophisticated. Decorations that took their cue from the rounded, colorful, and safe baby toys. The inflatable lawn decoration was born. At first I shrugged it off, thinking they would go away. But over the past couple of years they have been taking over, like a fungus.
I ignored them until one day while driving, I was assaulted by a slew of these things stuffed into the backyard of a house. (The backyard faced the road.) I travel by this place constantly and every time I pass by I wrinkle my nose and shake my head. Then I smile. Whatever possessed them? Finally, I had to document the absurdity of this place, so I stopped and took photos. These photos don’t do it justice. These photos look small, but the house is actually large and these things are enormous.
Curious, I drove into the subdivision looking for the front of the house. I wasn’t disappointed. I stopped my car, grabbed my camera, rolled down my window, and…well, I had to wait while a car drove past before I took the photo. Aaack!!! That car drove into the driveway! I debated about taking photos with the owner knowing I was stationed in my car with a camera, but the debate was short-lived. I figured since they put that crap out for public display, I can take a photo of it. I wondered what they thought of me sitting in my car, grinning, and taking photos. It didn’t matter. I snapped away.
Later, ON THE SAME DAY, I passed by THIS place! I turned onto a side road across the street and noticed that a couple of other cars did the same thing. I pulled over, the other cars made u-turns. I pulled out my camera, the other cars turned back onto the main road and drove back by the house s l o w l y. Yep, others were just as dumbfounded as I was. I got out of the car and tried to find a decent angle to take a photograph (I wish I had my wide-angle camera with me!) As I did, more cars drove by, slowing down. I was curious. Were they impressed or amused? I saw one woman stifle a laugh as she drove by. Amused. We looked at each other and grinned.
I am not a woman of excess. Too much clutter makes me nervous; I can’t focus on what’s important and therefore I don’t focus at all. My stylistic tastes are different. So when I see things like this, I turn…no…run away. But then I smile, because oddly enough, it lightens the moment. Laughter does that. And so, even though I am glad I do not live next door to these folks, I do appreciate the smile on my face every time I pass by their stuffed yard. But I still hope that one day it will all go away.
I have known for a long time that November is for love because I knew that this November I would be called on to experience love in the most profound way.
Unfortunately, I have deleted numerous writes and rewrites of why “November is for Love” until I just can’t write about it anymore. Words trivialize it.
So, please just know that November is for Love. For me, it’s the most unconditional love I know.
(I really wish the English language had more words to designate different kinds of love. One word is not enough.)