Let it Fly or Breaking Free

Not much to say. I’ve been in a big funk lately. It’s been much too hot and humid to play nature photographer. Even cutting blooms and twigs and setting up still lifes, no interest. I really think the muses, Old Eph and Muriel, have left again. Probably down under, enjoying the winter.

I celebrated another birthday this past weekend. I’m always grateful to be topside. We drove to the Shakedown, a vintage car show at the EAA air museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. A lot of pretty old restored jalopies and rods to match my age group. The husband managed to recognize and name most of them. He still held fond memories of youthful escapades, and teen pranks of converting the trunk to a beer cooler.

We’d attended better car shows, so the fun actually started over at the hangers where some of the vintage airplane collection is stored. That was far more interesting. Now it was getting fun. I found a few photo ops I thought I’d play with using Photoshop plugins. I converted to black and white, retro, textures and even some grunge. I used DXO B & W for the airplane and statute, and the rest used combos from Topaz. I threw out constraints, should haves, and must dos. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did playing with them.

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Weekly Photo Challenge:Fun

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Convergence of Conveyances

In a previous life, before the pain of fibromyalgia knocked the pins out from under me, I loved to shoot events. Antique cars were one of my favorites. Travel with me down memory lane, away from freezing rain, crusty snow, and shivering late night outings with the dog.
Pick a vintage conveyance, choose by color, year, engine, or chrome. Lets meet where the pre-interstate roads converge into narrow ruts and travel by imagination. Enjoy the ride, and thanks for stopping by The Road Less Paved. I’ll be driving the ‘Lady in Red’ down my road. Please stop by again.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge:Converge

John Muir and the Three Little Where’s or Which Prairie When

Cuppants (Silphium perfoliatum) flow into a sea of yellow Anise-scented goldenrod (Solidago odora), and orange coneflowers (Rudbeckia fulgida).

Cuppants (Silphium perfoliatum) flow into a sea of yellow Anise-scented goldenrod (Solidago odora), and orange coneflowers (Rudbeckia fulgida).

Once upon a time, there was a tall man named John Muir.  He went for a walk through a prairie.  Pretty soon, he came upon a small familiar looking lake. He whistled and, when no one answered, he sat down.

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At the lake in the meadow, he spied three murky views into the future.  John was a quirky curious fellow.  He stared as the first hazy image became clearer.

Seedheads of Black-eyed Susans

Seedheads of Black-eyed Susans

“This image picture is so wrong!” he exclaimed. “Tis a very cold semblance to what I remember.”

Now on his knees, he gazed as the second vision cleared.

Tall thistle (Cirsium altissimum)

Tall thistle (Cirsium altissimum)

“This landscape is too contrived!” he said. “Nothing looks familiar to me.”

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As the last swirl in the lake became clear he exclaimed,  “Ah, this view is just right!”

Queen Anne's Lace - pre-bloom

Queen Anne’s Lace – pre-bloom

He happily sat back, crossed his hands behind his head, and recalled his boyhood.

Black-eyed Susan - skeletal remant of July

Black-eyed Susan – skeletal remnant of July

After seeing the three visions John was feeling a wee little sleepy.  Shuffling off to a hillside where he saw three trees, he leaned against the first tree to rest.

Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot) - after the bloom has faded

Monarda fistulosa (Wild Bergamot) – after the bloom has faded

“This tree is too hard!” he exclaimed.

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So he leaned against the second tree.

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“This tree is too small!” he growled.

Prairie Cinquefoil

Prairie Cinquefoil

He chose the third tree, a young Bur oak, where he sighed and fell into a deep slumber while listened to the rustling dried leaves, sounding like far off tinkling of bells in a Buddhist temple.

Ratibida pinnata (Yellow Coneflower)

Ratibida pinnata (Yellow Coneflower)

As he was sleeping, three organization leaders came to discuss how to revive the worked-out land on which he slept.

Wind painting the Little Bluestem -Schizachyrium scoparium grass on the tall grass prairie

Wind painting the Little Bluestem -Schizachyrium scoparium grass on the tall grass prairie

Papa bear, who owned the largest portion of the land, decided it would be seventy-five percent native wild flowers, with a smidgen of sedges, and a portion of four native grasses, keeping the upland hardwoods, and a plan to open walking paths. This would become the John Muir County Park.

Wind painting with Big Bluestem grass, staple of the tall grass prairie

Wind painting with Big Bluestem grass, staple of the tall grass prairie

Mama bear, who owned the original homestead, the actual site of the Muir family house over looking the lake (NOTE: Private property no public access) felt the original prairie land would have been mostly grass with a smidgen of prairie flowers. They have maintained their property as predominately short grass prairie with appropriate prairie plants. I think John would easily recognize his front yard.

Wind painting the sedges and various grasses of the tall grass prairie

Wind painting the sedges and various grasses of the tall grass prairie

The federal government’s taken half the Muir family’s original homestead property and turned it into a tall grass prairie. Severed as cleanly by Wisconsin’s Marquette County Highway F, the Fox River National Wildlife Refuge, is a gem of a prairie reconstruction. Don’t visit Muir County Park and not cross the road to stand amid the waving grasses of a different kind of reconstructed environment.

Wind painting the tall grass prairie ...

Wind painting the tall grass prairie …

On a windy day you’ll understand why pioneer ancestors referred to their wagons as ‘prairie schooners’. The wind tosses waves of color, sunlight foams, and textures flow across my vision. Is it wind blowing past my ear or faint murmurs as John Muir and his boyhood friends scurry toward the distant river.

Wind painting a close in view of the neon, late August colors, of Big Bluestem prairie grass.

Wind painting a close in view of the neon, late August colors, of Big Bluestem prairie grass.

Would John Muir recognize any of the three landscapes? Which would look the most familiar to him? If an award were given for best adaptation, which of the three would receive it? I know which I prefer, and I know which I like least. Not that I would exclude any from my visits or my camera. All have something to discover, to teach, to preserve. Which to consider correct, I’ll leave for wiser minds than mine.

Wind painting the tall grass prairie dominated by Big bluestem, Turkeyfoot,  Indiangrass [Sorghastrum nutans], Switchgrass [Panicum virgatum], and Little Bluestem [Schizachyrium scoparium]), and lively yellow of Solidago speciosa (Showy Goldenrod).

Wind painting the tall grass prairie dominated by Big bluestem, Turkeyfoot, Indiangrass [Sorghastrum nutans], Switchgrass [Panicum virgatum], and Little Bluestem [Schizachyrium scoparium]), and lively yellow of Solidago speciosa (Showy Goldenrod).

(Unfortunately, I haven’t visited the private property – original home site in over ten years, so I have no current photos or permissions to post. You’ll have to trust me … it’s spectacular.)For information on where location and travel to Wisconsin’s John Muir country visit http://www.marquettenow.com/bike4trail.php

all photography copyrighted, all rights reserved, Charly Makray-Rice 2014

Leave No Trail Behind

I was trying to sort out a two-word anagram while in half-sleep Sunday morning. Bouncing off the hollow space within my brain, two young girls ran about in their circa 1950’s church-best clothing. Full shirts, petticoats, ankle socks and patent leather shoes, small straw hats topped hair that curled to their shoulders. The anagram was floating away while the two girls pushed me forward and out of my dream. The imps reminded me of two dolls I’d played with as a child, one was the good girl, the other was the bitch.

In my slumber, I tried to arise from bed and find paper and pen to write out the two words. I’d figured out the spelling of the anagram and the solution. Of course, by the time I actually awoke the words were gone, along with the girls. The answer haunted me all day.

For three years I’ve been working my way through my husband’s family tree. His genealogy is extensive. While still a child, he’d been brought up on an oral tradition of stories and history passed along by his grandparents and the elders of his large family. His family roots were planted long before the extensive research available on the internet. When I started an Ancestory.com membership and began work on his family, those stories, did in fact, point to the very places in his family’s oral traditions. They had kept the stories alive for more than four centuries. Geneology is my addiction. I’m heavily invested in all types of research. Once uncovered, facts are to proven. Additional research, outside of Ancestory.com is opened, with scribbled penmanship, notebooks, outlines, beginnings, endings and do-overs. Researched notables and historic side adventures diagramed.

I time-traveled early 3,000 years into the past and wondered what did these people talk about, dream about, wonder over. Did they even think they would leave a legacy that centuries into the future hundreds, thousands, of their descendants would be curious about? Did they know they were creating historical moments in time?  Were they capable of knowing there would be such a thing in the future as the study of  their history?

The past has become more important to me than the present. My husband’s past is my present. My past only extends to my grandparents. They left no photographs, no notes, no names. With extensive research I’ve only managed to uncover the names of the towns they were born in and their birth dates. They’re from Eastern Europe, ravaged by wars, small villages, records lost or not yet uncovered and posted online. I have an emotional connection to their past but I can’t access it. Although I’ve tried to find it. It remains illusive. I long to know these long gone people who can’t possibly connect with me. In knowing their past I  find comfort from my lack of acceptance with my own present.

In real life, my past was closed down, pulled from me, taken away, or unattainable. My life, as that of my own family genealogy, mirrors a life of no trail left behind. Less than ten photographs of me exist prior to me by the age of fifty. I remember each one, even those not in my possession. I don’t even appear in my high school year book. Since then there are a few photos of my back, a couple of carefully crafted telephoto shots, some highly Photoshopped pics, and a couple of professional engagment photographs.

I have no problem with the difficulty the two dream girls faced attempting to pull me into the present. It’s been several years since I lived in the present. The past couple of years I’ve fallen even deeper into the past, distancing myself from any possibility of leaving a legacy of accomplishment in anything.

Unlike the genealogical deep roots of my husband’s family tree, my family planted seeds of maladjustment that rooted firm and unshakable. Two years ago I set my goal to give one last shot at hitting my life’s target goals. When the deadline passed a year ago, I wavered and let myself ride through it – knowing nothing was going to develop. Midway through last year I started this blog.  I found a way to use a small bit of my old talents, brush off my rusty skills, and push on. When the past year ended, after thirteen years, I closed my business website and its Facebook page. I’d finally accepted that a family clash a few years ago, that ended my  photography business and its income, had  also ended any hope for a future as a photographer.

My legacy is to always lose what I’ve worked towards. There has always been someone stronger, wealthier, more popular, or connected, to shut me out, down, steal, lie, or ignore my contributions. I’m terrified of being noticed, acknowledged, having nothing to say. I’ve become an empty vessel,  a waif unto myself.  I’m further down the trail by learning how to cover my tracks. No one will know I passed this way. I will leave no trail behind. I will move silently among the stream of internet transfer information and only that trail could show I actually existed. It will be rare indeed that anyone will ever seek it out and follow it back to it’s source.

Daily Prompt: Don’t you Forget About Me

Seeing Red

Ghosts of Highway 51

Ghosts of Highway 51

Yesterday was true to Wisconsin winter weather. Snow flurries, rain, freezing rain, high winds, biting cold and blowing snow, drifts and slushy roads. All within a five hour period. Once a month we make a trip north to Wautoma, a very well appointed town with great shopping. They happen to have a grocery store with a meat market that marinates, smokes, seasons, and packages their own sausages, brats, tenderloins, and chicken breasts. There are at least two dozen varieties each of brats and chicken breasts always in stock. These weren’t anorexic chickens, the breasts average a pound each. Well worth the drive once a month.

You're So Transparent

You’re So Transparent

Hubby is addicted to a smart phone ap named Ingress. It requires locating and destroying enemy portals. The portals are accepted into the system through a submission process including a photo of the portal, such as a public building or historical landmark and GPS location from its players.

Apple of My Eye

Apple of My Eye

I asked if many players have been picked up as potential terrorists. For low levels like my “Grumpy”, it may take up to twenty minutes to take out and secure an area for himself.  “A few have been detained while the government tried to unravel the complications of the game.”   I reminded him ,”If aliens were among us, he and other Ingress players might be uploading information needed for the worldwide takeover by the Zombie Apocalypse”.

A River Run 'Neath It

A River Runs ‘Neath It

Any hoo –  the two hour afternoon drive for groceries. with a few Ingress stops at three additional small towns along the route, ended five hours later. I captured three vastly different sets of photographs for the blog while following the man around, capturing enemy portals on his phone. I asked my techno-leader which pics I should run first and he chose, Seeing Red. I should have known, red is his favorite color.

Oy, Feed and Imp

Oy, Feed and Imp

All photos in this seriers were shot during conditions of high winds and blowing snow on a 3200 ISO setting. Samsung WB150F pocket camera on manual settings. Post processing, OnOne Photo Suite (a very old edition). I had the high ISO setting cranked for an earlier shoot of the moon and Venus and forgot to reset it. I like the way it retained the grainy, atmospheric conditions of the day.

Other cameras I use are an old Olympus E550 which is a terrific little flower-power camera. It’s the one I also hand to Grumpy when I need a back-up shooter. My main gun is a Oly E510 that is beginning to feel sticky. I think, like my laptops, the end is approaching for my old field machine. I’m well antiquated, not well appointed. Also just starting to believe my own talent might be in my eye and not the cost of the equipment.

I’d love to hear from others that are on the same journey.

Windows into my World

I’m having another woo-hoo moment. Lately, it’s been happening more frequently. At one time, I was an above normal psychic type person. I hate being a know it all, but I could tell what was going to happen – just not exactly when, much too often. Over the years, I trained myself to tune out. Unless it’s life threatening, or an emergency, I’d pass, thank you. Coincidence is cozy enough to live with. I didn’t need to calculate the odds of events occurring in my life anymore.

A couple of days ago I was mentally preparing my next blog. I have a couple of very old photographs that were going to form the basis for my post on windows. Not the Microsoft Operating System … of which I could write a 1,000 words. Mine is on life support and I’m learning how to walk using a Chrome tablet. Lot’s of up and downs and mistakes going on, but that’s a different dirty window.

Enough negativity. I actually wanted to post useless pics of windows I’d taken through the years. Today’s Weekly Photography Challenge appeared and ‘hoot’, for once I’m ahead of the curve. I’ll take the lucky bit of timing and go with it. Hopefully, as I’m posting, some meaningful composition will form and I won’t just burp and serve a plate of unattenuated pixels to my followers. Please leave a comment and let me know if I inadvertently caused any indigestion.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Window

Ninety Miles an Hour

Instead of stopping when we could we went right on …

Flash back – I’m seventeen, trying to cut my hair like Mick Jagger’s.  Dylan wails on my record player. I’m wearing white jeans tucked into black ten inch high mod boots and my mother hates me. Plum incense burns in my bedroom, and I’m drunk on Earl Grey Tea bought from the Crate and Barrel in on Wells Street in Chicago. It’s hard to cut hair with a dull paper shears while bobbing my head and not poke an eye out. I’m one of the last two virgins in Old Town, my friend Teri, being the other. I don’t know about her, but all the weed I’ve inhaled was second-hand. Half the time I thought dudes failed to use deodorant. I was dense, but it was the first place that accepted me and I kept going back.

I loved it. We’d sit on the floor in John Brown’s Leatherworks in Pipers Alley and listen to stories as he’d play guitar. My shoulder was next to Brian McGuinn, Roger’s brother. Man, I wanted a leather Byrd’s cape from John. Eventually I did buy one, but mine came from Marshall Fields, not Johns.

I didn’t make it to the Democratic riots at the Hilton Hotel although a friend borrowed my tambourine. I caught the news footage of him as he brought my beloved flower painted instrument over the head of a cop in the viewfinder of the CBS National News. Me and Teri, wound up on a documentary about  leftist groups, Remember, Nixon was paranoid.  They staged the entire thing. Producers went into the coffeehouse basement and brought up protest signs that predated us by several months, if not years, and asked up to pretend to paint them. They chose us because our hair read clean on the light meter. The crew admonished us not to look into the camera. Teri looked up, her boss caught it when it aired, and she got fired.

I never went to Woodstock, I went out and bought a horse instead and that left me flat broke. I still prefered the scent of fresh cut hay and horse sweat over live music and flower children

But I’d learned early about wiretapped telephones, FBI files, innocence, protest, and the friends you keep. The nicest people could be running at ninety miles an hour thinking no one can see them. Fifty years ago the government kept watch on who and what they wanted on their radar. Nothing’s changed much except the technology.

http://www.jango.com/music/Bob+Dylan?l=0

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/daily-prompt-speed/