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February 28, 2010

Sun Drunk

The backyard weeds are announcing the arrival of an early spring with all gusto. They won't mind next week's rain in the least and will imbibe to their drunken fill.

There is some personal pity on the chemical death of these brave and hearty characters. A little. Not too much. They have their chance. They're survivors whether I kill them or not. God made them tough and they have a reputation to preserve.

Jack doesn't like his picture taken. I try to pose him, and like all good cats he doesn't understand --- because like all good cats, he is pretty stupid and disobedient. The best cat pictures are when they are in the house sleeping. He's a beautiful kitty, actually, hardly any trouble, except when he throws up all over stuff outside and inside. Always been sickly, this one.

There is such variety in creation. And why not: the God of creation is infinite in power and wisdom. We can expect no less. And when we think of all the plant and animal species that have disappeared, our jaw drops twice as far!

"O, LORD, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches." Psalm 104:24

You can see this series here: a;dlkfjda;dlkfjaldkfj;asld

February 27, 2010

Shutter Sloshing

A pre-sunset break in the clouds found me fumbling for my camera and heading for the backyard rainbow captures. Rainbow drama is pretty rare around here. I was caught in a bad place at a good time, though, so there was nothing spectacular to report. It was just fun sloshing around the yard trying to find the best vantage points to use in framing.

This neighbor's dead maple tree offered the the greatest contrast and unusual perspective of the bunch. Trying not to include rooftops, I angled the view and zoomed to eliminate them. The bow isn't really over the top of the tree, but to the right, but, hey, art has a certain freedom of expression I like to use.

The front yard picture of our local crow population coming in to roost for the night had the other end of the rainbow in back of them. Here, I used my 55-200mm zoom and a house pillar to stabilize the shot (had to toss three or four others that were more out-of-focus, even with lens stabilization).

Overall, it was a another short experience worth capturing for my collection of short experiences. Sure beats sitting at the computer and writing about it!

February 25, 2010

Trees I Love To Hate

It's all about indigenous and non-indigenous. It's like opening a zoo in Minnesota that features animals from Africa and India. It's like snow boarding in Los Angeles or crocodile hunting in Anchorage.

Enter the lowly palm tree, of which there are over two thousand kinds, but only two basic types are commonly known, the date palm and the coconut palm. Two-thirds of these specimens grow in the tropics, even though some have been planted in northern England. This is one hardy plant.

However, and that's a capitalized 'however,' planting a date palm that grows 100' high anywhere north of San Luis Obispo, California, borders on insanity. They look completely out of place in colder climates.

Granted, we plant non-indigenous trees here and there that can still fit the landscape and are marked with a sense of compositional attraction, like redwoods in the Central Valley or mimosa in the Santa Clara Valley. But to stick a giant, tousle-topped toothpick of a palm tree in the cool climes of northern California is just plain unnatural (sic).

Thanks to my friend, Don Dahl, for this photo he couldn't resist taking, since his dislike for palm trees only equals mine. Like he says, "There's nothing wrong with a palm tree that a chainsaw won't fix." Photo taken on an unkown street in the tropical paradise of San Mateo, California.

February 21, 2010

Weathered Windchimes

I took this windchime down a month ago or more. Just too much noise outside during all of these winter storms marching through the valley. Attention all inventors! Design a windchime that turns off at night so you can sleep --- please. And while you're at it, design some sort of non-toxic, non-allergenic, non-habit forming, non-irritable, non-alcoholic, and non-fattening pill so we can sleep through the night without waking up everytime we turn over, everytime we have to hit the bathroom and everytime we have a bad dream. And speaking of dreams, it would be great if you could eliminate them all together. I don't need to be reminded of my insanity, depravity, and fears. Another pill for those would be much appreciated.

Pink is good.
Even on dark
And dreary days,
The plum and almond blossoms
Make me smile.

February 18, 2010

Little Pigeon Creek Baptist Church

Abraham Lincoln's family moved from the Little Mount Separate Baptist Church in Kentucky to Indiana in 1821, the same year a new church building was erected in Pigeon Creek. Abe's father, Thomas, and mother, Nancy, were strict hyper-Calvinists, as were 20% of all American Baptists of the day. This eccentric branch of the Baptist churches (called Primitive and Hard Shell) emphasized the sovereignty of God to such a degree, that freewill was denied. Although they didn't hold to fatalism, they believed that the course of history, and therefore, the actions of men were divinely superintended to fulfil a predetermined end. There was little, if any, evangelism. They believed the elect would be saved apart from preaching the gospel to the lost.

Young Abe's church attendance was sporadic as he grew older, but there is little doubt about his religious education. When his mother died and a new matriarch replaced her, morality and godliness were lived to the fullest in his home. Hypocrisy was foreign. Life reflected a spiritual perspective in all that happened.

Lincoln never claimed to be a Baptist, or Separatist, or any affiliation for that matter. But he always held to the philosophy of "Necessity," which he defined as fate. History was set in stone. God was in control. But he sometimes questioned critical events (e.g. Civil War) with "why?" He believed he was on the political stage in obedience to God's decree.

I'm relating this information after learning that my g-g-g-grandfather preached to Lincoln in the Little Pigeon Creek Baptist Church, among other preachers. Thomas Sumner, born in 1780 was a hyper-Calvinist! That is amazing to me --- not so amazing to God who "works all things after the counsel of His own will." He was most likely a fire-breathing, greatly animated sort of fellow.

I wonder what he thought about the young, lanky, show-offish, and bookish Abraham Lincoln.

February 15, 2010

Blazing Worship

Olympiad - quadrennial craze
Of winter - perennial daze
Of frozen lovers, blazing
worshipers of ice and snow.

Rumors of melting are swarming -
As the gospel of global warming
Spreads unholy, glacial terror
Around the world.

Keep those TIVO's rolling -
All that's ice will soon be roiling -
Let's pray we're not all boiling
While we watch old tapes of toiling
Boarders, skiers, and ice skaters strolling.

February 10, 2010

Wearing a Museum Piece

Angel is sporting her g-great-uncle's 1950's vintage military jacket that I keep in the trunk of the car for emergencies. Saturday's overcast/rain/wind/cold demanded more warmth than her flimsy shirt could give, so while we were waiting for the Haggin Museum to open for a children's art show, she bundled up in it. Oldie, mouldy can be warm and huggy, too.

Poor girl hadn't heard about this event at her school. Either it involved only select classes, or she wasn't listening when they announced it, or it was a teacher option to choose the most promising students. She wants to enter next year, of course, having drooled over a number of pieces of 'modern' sculpture and ceramics.

Sometimes (maybe most of the time) we miss great opportunities. Keep those eyes and ears open. Your greatest work of art may be helping someone else or finishing that job your spouse mentioned a long time ago.

February 4, 2010

Safety Rules (as in Reigns)

My experience as Safety Supervisor at work for the past 15 years leaves less than stellar memories. With a printing career starting at Ennis Business Forms in Paso Robles where safety meetings were non-existent, my step-up to a new job with another company in 1972 saw little change. OSHA was just starting to dig their heels into the sides of American industry. In the past forty years the safety landscape has changed so much that a new mindset has replaced the old: Safety first, to last. Depending on your mother-company management committment, you will either dive in and walk the talk, or risk city, county and OSHA audits out of the blue, along with huge fines for non-compliance.

With only 11 people at our local facility, keeping up on all the training (let alone all of the quality and procedural training required by corporate) can be overwhelming when we're busy. Training schedules get put on hold as a rule, but eventually get done. Today is an example.

It was a good time for the Annual IIPP, Fire Prevention, and Hazardous Materials training today. Not a lot of work in the shop. Perfect! I took time yesterday to prepare, and we ended up training on the big annual stuff plus Compressor Hose Safety, Sexual Harrassment, Code of Safe Practices, and the Facility Map. Maybe there was something else. It was a jumble of items crammed into one hour and ten minutes! People were bored out of their minds by the time we finished. Some bored and mad at a few new rules which they said they wouldn't keep anyway.

God's safety rules are the 10 Commandments, epitomized by this: Love God above all other things and love others as you love yourself. Ignored and broken by all of us, the Great Auditor will require an infinitely heavy price when it's time to pay up --- but for grace and redeeming mercy bestowed on all who have the price paid for them in His Son, Jesus the Messiah.