Sunday, January 27

Humdrum No More

Henry David Thoreau aptly opined, "The bluebird carries the sky on his back." Today it carried rainbows.

Bright, bold bands brush blueward,
Ending any idea of the humdrum.

Saturday, January 26

From 1850 Philadelphia to the 1872 Catskills

I don't even know where the Catskills are. Let me look in my road atlas . . . not there. Oh, here they are in Northwest of NYC . . . 3500' to 4000' oddball range of 'mountains'. Beautiful, nonetheless.

And how did I end up in the Catskills? Or Caatskills as was originally written. More 1850 research on Philadelphia, that's how. I was looking for the whereabouts of Fort Gibson in Jones Woods near Hestonville, PA. That's where my gg-grandpappy's 116th PA Volunteers were sent after joining the Union Army in August 1862. They received their uniforms, accouterment, and drilling there before being sent to Washington, DC in October.

Well, I did a search and found an old PA Railroad brochure printed in 1855 that related the wonders of Philadelphia and its railroad. Did you know that in 1850, Philadelphia had more 'dwellings' than NYC, was the greatest manufacturing city in America and had 'public schools of the first order?' Anyway, the author of the article raved on and on about Philadelphia, then gave a visually descriptive commentary on the ride from the city to Pittsburg by steamship and rail. It is a wonderful view of life along the tracks 150 years ago, and pinpoints the little town I was looking for, of course (about 3-4 miles west). Are you still reading? Good.

Anyway, I scanned the long article all the way to Pittsburg, then linked back to the homepage of the article, which had a link to an 1872 newspaper article written by Fanny Fern (Sara Willis) of New York City. She had taken a vacation to the Catskills and was awestruck by its beauty. What interested me most was her comments on little children who grew up only knowing city life:

"A city child is a cruel, wicked, shapeless, one-sided abortion. 'Tis a pale shoot of a plant, struggling bravely for its little day of life in some rayless corner, all unblest by the warm sunshine which God intended to give to it color, strength, and fragrance. What wonder that the blight falls on it?"

She goes on to praise the glory of God's creation and how kids can appreciate it as well as adults and how a real and true education must include a first hand knowledge of all things bright and beautiful.

Parents, grandparents and friends of children: Make plans now to take your kids someplace special and let them enjoy this world that was made just for that purpose.

Saturday, January 19

Truce, the 2005 Movie

Last night's viewing of a locally made film didn't produce any of the "you gotta see this" emotion for me. A number of incidental film extras, one actor and some promoters showed up to add their weight to this small budget offering. It has won a few awards, though. The story line is pretty weak, but good music and photography (for the limited funds).

The movie Truce was written, produced and directed by Matthew Marconi, a young Chapman University School of Film graduate who found the right connections and folks interested in supporting the idea of a contemporary rancher/grandfather who has to take in his granddaughter while losing his ranch to the bank. He's a craggy ol' coot (Buck Taylor), paired with the sweetest darling girl in the world (Samantha Droke). The two butt heads and learn to love each other in the end. George Kennedy plays a minor role as a doctor.

Filmed in Clements, Lockeford, and Lodi, familiar places and faces entertained the locals. Most impressive was the writer/director, whose humility and non-pretentious spirit won the small crowd as he explained the story background and making of the film. There were numerous questions and answers.

As people were leaving, I asked Mr. Marconi about the photography of the movie and the still shots taken during shooting. There were two extra photographers for stills, but he said most of the photos were out of focus. Not good. Must have been volunteer amateurs, so I gave him my card and offered my services when he makes the sequel. Of course, I'm just another amateur, but I know how to focus. Ha!

Tuesday, January 1

Foggy Bottom

I'm sure I looked unquestionably strange cruising around the college campus this morning looking for trees to take pictures of in the fog. Very foggy, though, so I don't think anyone saw me. Anyway, it was New Year's Day morning and hardly anyone was up yet. I also wandered around Victory Park, soaking my shoes while scouting a few oaks and other arrangements.

Couldn't pass up a little color, though, from the rose garden.

This was all after taking Barb to work at 8:00. Poor girl. It's already 4:34 in the afternoon and she's not off yet. Went in to pick her up, but she's in the cash room and has to work late.

After being off work since Dec. 22 (except for last Thursday), I'm more than ready to get back to normal and see the folks. How about you?