Category Archives: Musings

Life Cycle of the Ink Cap Mushroom

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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.


The Ending of One Phase and the Beginning of the Next

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.

Aesthetic Graffiti

The original photo can be seen on Flickr. By Dezra Despain © All Rights Reserved

I’m Going to be on CNN — Well, OK, Just My Photos

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.

Toppings on Funnel Cakes

I remember when funnel cakes were only fried dough topped with an inch of powdered sugar or sprinkled with cinnamon sugar!

Deep Fried Veggies

This is more traditional than other deep fried foods.

Deep fried Snickers and Other Assorted Sweets

They’ll deep fry ANYTHING!

An Unusual Request Via Email

Subject line in email:

snippet; may need to have you sin...

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.

text; may need to have you sing something for me

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.

Searching for a Voice Instructor

I practiced all night — mostly in my dreams.

Me singing

♯♫ ♫ ♪ ♫ ♯♪ ♪

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.

Guess Which Door I walked Through?


Yeah. I couldn’t resist. And the Door Police didn’t come after me.

Shake Up the Daily Habits In Order To See Differently

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.

Gnarled Exposed Tree Roots

Dig Down Deep

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.

All This From A 20 Minute Walk Around the Block in Fountain Square

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.


I thought marquees magically changed their letters. But no! That’s an actual person on a ladder switching them out! My world will never be the same. Notice the architecture. Very nice, Fountain Square, very nice.

Flowered window boxes

I rounded the corner and saw these flower boxes and was immediately transported back to New Orleans and their lush flower boxes cascading over balconies in the French Quarter.

Oak door and window

Take a peek into the window. A contemporary, elegant light fixture behind a solid oak door characterized by age and beauty.

Apartment Entrance

Senior living! Seriously! In Fountain Square where all the hipsters hang out. What a diverse place this is!

Old red brick

I do gravitate towards old brick. Especially old brick with remnants of yesteryear on it. I can’t quite figure out what this was….a mystery.

Entrance painted on brick

Hidden in an alley under vines. I couldn’t find the entrance. It must be magical

Female face stenciled on wall

Fountain Square has a solid art community. Murals abound, many of them rogue but many also by artists-in-residence. So many things about this one fascinate me. The female face, the cross, the barbed wire, the starkness. I could get lost in this for hours.

Colorful mural

This is just a portion of the larger mural. It’s in an alley or back street…not sure what to call it. The road is paved but only one car at a time can drive between the buildings.

Stay classy y'all on cement

Yeah. That!

Zombie apocalypse sticker

Confusing message. Yes, zombie apocalypse? Or Stop zombie apocalypse? Or Stop denying zombie apocalypse? Hmmm.

All this in 20 minutes around one block. When the days cool down, I will go back. And then the fun begins!

Mardi Gras in a Flower

I wander down a wooded lane, the sun touches the horizon behind me as I step into the shadows. A wooded canopy arches over the lane and cool air whispers across my cheek. I see a purple veil ahead and wonder what mysteries lie beyond it. All around, violet flowers glow, their centers shining in the deep evening. I choose one to guide me beyond the veil and into a topsy-turvy world.

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras in a Flower. This was created in Photoshop. Click on image to read how I achieved it.

Heat Wave!

It was scorching today in Indiana! 104°F! It nearly topped its all-time high record 0f 106°F [41°C].


BUT HOLY HEAT WAVE, LOOK HOW HOT IT IS IN MY CAR. [43.3°C — seriously, we need to move to Celsius. It’s much cooler! heheh]

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!

Wine Tasting is Fancy, So What Is This?

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.

Chateau de Pique bathroom

Words of wisdom. Remember them.

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.

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