Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It has seemed longer than it's been

I suppose that three weeks since my last blog isn't that long, but it seems that it has been longer.  Maybe because so many things seem to happening at once.  Days are shorter, temperatures are different, flowers and leaves are changing, among other changes.  Heck, it is so different that even I am a year older.  Yep, another trip around the sun for me.  Hey, it takes longer with a walker!  I suppose that I am more viral than virile, but all in all, life is not too bad.  And no, there isn't a walker in my life.  I am waiting until I find some tennis balls before I roll that bad boy out!

In between posts was the Minnesota State fair.  Labeled by some as "America's Get Together" it is an impressive even.  The fair saw near record attendance this year though on the day of my attendance I was almost alone as only 225,000 of my friends were there.  Food was eaten, food was spilled upon myself, and miles were walked, so it was all pretty fun.

I tried to explain to someone  about how many hours I have spent in fairgrounds but she was unimpressed.  Until I told her that I did milking contests and once even beat Alice in Dairyland!  The media horde also used to watch hours of cow judging and got to know some of the key traits of the cows and steers but also of the judges.  Bets were made and won on the best udders and presentation of them, as well as the shoulders and shanks and other bits of other things.  Yep, a Ph.D. and an education by Arnie Hoffman and the Country Today!  Trends of course change, even in cow judging.  In the past, some judges wanted totally smooth cows, but it seems this year they want cows with slight mohawks near their tails.  Who knew?   I will have to talk to my barber about that.  Of course anything that enhances cow butts is a good thing--why do I find cow butts photogenic?  Probably we shouldn't even go there...

Today was a beautiful day for a walk with great light.  My neighborhood is great for days like this and I love how the light can change from minute to minute.  I think I can thank the changing seasons for both the light and the changing flora.  There are still a few splashes of color but soon color will only be seen in fallen leaves.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A nice night for a walk...

I took advantage of one of the great days in Minnesota to walk around my neighborhood lake,  Lake Harriet.  It was, as one one person said, one of the six or seven days of the year that make it worth living in Minnesota.  I expect the next day in September.  Maybe it seemed so nice because of the awful weather news in the rest of the country.  51 inches of rain since Friday?  No appreciable rain since May?  We have a screwed up country, weather-wise.  I am just glad that there isn't any global warming. 

I jest, but Houston and the rest of Texas is breaking my heart.  The images are searing and the suffering is real.  My donations are on the way, but how do you ever fill that bucket of need?  I am heartened by the real sense of cooperation and community that appears in times like this.  There is not a red or blue state when the state is really just very very wet--I can only hope that this small spark of unity might continue.

My walk was nice--it is about a 4.5 mile jaunt so that is good for me.  At this time of the day there are LOTS of people on the paths and also lots of puppies.  I got to pet some of them.  The puppies, at least.  The people are, well, sleek.  And then there is me....  I have been called a very many things but never, never, have I been called sleek.  Lots of tennis tans and ripples from running and other things.  Then there was me, in a 20 year old tee-shirt and jeans instead of spandex.  I wore "running" shoes only because they were blue and matched my eyes!  But there was room for older pudgy people, too, and it is a very nice walk.

The pictures are pretty blah,  A good camera but apparently not that great of a lens.  I am road testing lenses because of an upcoming trip.  Yep, following my standard, "I am not working so let's go to Europe" financial plan, I have a trip planned in October with a friend to the hinterlands of England.  Poor financial sense but a great thing to look forward to.  But not with this lens.  Sigh.  I only have about 9 other lenses to choose from.  What to do, what to do?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dew bejeweled and heron tongues...

I was able to visit the local heron rookery and flower depository in scenic Golden Valley this past weekend and got to photograph a plethora of visual treats.  My friend was persuaded to get up early for this adventure and we definitely enjoyed the time and coffee and muffins made it even better.  Dew still bejeweled the flowers and, gasp, Helen the Heron graced us with her queenly presence!

Someday I will take a macro lens with me, but these flowers were taken with the simple Canon zoom on a Canon 7d Mk2 for all those geeks and gear heads out there.  The heron photos were takem with the same camera but with a Leitz Telyt 560mm F 5.6, though you probably knew that just by looking at these shots.  They are surprisingly sharp for a 50 year old lens.  It was well worth schlepping the 12 pound lens to the pond, and Helen cooperated beautiful, flying nearer to me just for her close-up.  These are cropped pretty tight, but I think that you can see her beauty and charm.  That lens seems to be a 830mm lens on that Canon so it appears about 18 times closer than our "normal" view.  Kind of fun.  And who knew herons had tongues?  Or eyelids that slid from the side to protect them from the water when they fished?  Helen is amazing!  Double click to make them bigger!

Thursday, August 10, 2017


Tattered,  I like that word and it seems fitting in lots of ways.  I went with my friend to her neighborhood bird/flower sanctuary this past weekend to stalk the mighty herons of Golden Valley but I came up dry on that quest.  They were probably doing heron things in some other first ring metro suburb.  There were several markets and hmm.,,did the Twins play at home?  One never knows with those wily and shy birds.  And yes, that is how you spell wily.  It is different than that stupid dog and bird, the chaser and chase-ee.

The flowers, however, were out it all their tattered splendor.  It is still in the 70s and 80s around here so it does still seem like summer, and the calendar does give us another six weeks or so of the season  but it is waning.  Flowers are fading and are more concerned about their seeds than their brightly-colored petals.  Cone flowers are among my favorite flowers but they are more cones than flowers at this point in the summer.  I am not sure of all the rest of the flowers but they caught my eye for one reason or another.  Remember--they all get bigger--just click on the photo.

This camera also caught my eye.  An 1908 Kodak Premo Pony No 7.  In general I have little interest in Kodak cameras as they are too numerous to be all that interesting.  The older ones like this, though, are just stunning.  It cost more than $125 in  1908 when the average salary was $400-600.00.  A dentist might make $1,500.  It is all rich leather mahogany, and shiny chrome and it works like the day it was sold.  Since it is so "un-tattered" it is for sale on Ebay with a hope that it will go to a good home.

Me?  Well, I am a little tattered. Work of late was not fun and I guess the operative word is "was."  New adventures, right?  There has to be at least one or two windmills to tilt or wrongs to right within 40 or so miles, right?  Right?  I am looking now but if you see any that you think I might be interested in, let me know.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Birds and other things

OK, I know it has been a bit since I posted.  What usually drives the blog are the photos that I take, and so I need to actually take a photo or two so I have something to post.  That hasn't worked out too well as of late, though, as always, I hope to do better.

Today was a photo safari to a nearby park  Wildlife abounded, as they say, and the highlight was a hunting heron.  Stately and slow moving, she ate well and at least two fish met their demise and her gullet as I observed.  It was amazing to watch.  I am not sure how she could even see the fish through the green muck but she apparently had no problem.    Life is hard.  I felt like Marlin Perkins--remember?  "While Jim is wrestling with the horrible heron, let me tell you about whole life insurance..."

Other animals seen were of course other birds, a fat little muskrat, and a giraffe.  Well, not really, but it was fun out there.  And there were flowers along the way.  It is high summer here and it was more than sad to see that some of the flowers were a bit ragged as was one Monarch butterfly.  Tattered or not, they all were beautiful.

Thursday, June 22, 2017


This past weekend I was  in Port Wing, but since there isn't exactly a hotel in Port Wing, I stayed in Brule.  It is about 30 miles away, and there are, of course, several ways to get back and forth between the metropolises.  Of course there is the light rail shuttle or the interstate but most people travel on the beat up, hilly, deer filled Highway H.  However,  when you take this you have to slow down when you are going through the city of Oulu...

Well, not exactly.  Once a bustling Finnish village, Oulu now is far less bustling.  There is a great glass gallery, some beeves, the aforementioned deer, and a church.  I have driven by this church countless times in the past 30 years but Saturday I stopped.

This is really a sketch book, as I want to and will go back.  The church is a chapel supporting an Independent Apostolic Lutheran Church congregation, and to say it was charming is such an understatement.  That branch of Lutheranism came to the US in the 1870s and was, considering the family names prominent in area, a Finnish congregation.  Though I grew up in a largely Lutheran town, I never have heard of an Apostolic Lutheran Church.

With good reason.  There are only 55 such congregations with less than 9,000 celebrants in the United States.  The Apostolic Lutheran Church is similar to traditional Lutheran Doctrine but unless I remember incorrectly , there is another confession (the Augsburg Confessions), the Book of Concord, and another creed, the Athanasian Creed.    It has been a few years since confirmation, so perhaps I am understanding this incorrectly.  In Scandinavia, where this church is more common, they are sometimes referred to as Laestadian Movement from the minister, Lars Levi Laestadius, of course.  Certainly I am not certain about all of this--Google is a wonderful thing, but I probably should have asked the churchy-type people in my life for more and perhaps better information.

But as we all know, the church is not the building or even the name but the people.  What I found out about the people is that they take care of and are obviously proud of their church--it is clean, the lawn neatly mowed and it is neatly ordered inside.  And it is also a bit rundown.  I am guessing that church membership in Oulu is not growing, but I could also guess that its membership is getting older.

I think that the interior of the church probably reflects the order of the service.  It is a simple church, with chairs worn by years of hands and butts and the floor worn by probably more than a century of services.  A wood stove provides warmth beyond the fellowship, and no gilded alter dominants the sanctuary.   By doctrine lay-people are the leaders of the service and you can imagine and feel that.  You know, I have seen some of the great cathedrals of the world, but without a doubt this church was one of the most beautiful.

As I mentioned, this is but a sketch of a church I want to and will learn more about.  As you can see, the sky was more than threatening that day, but even the outside of this little church in the woods provided shelter.  I can't wait to learn more about this shelter.