Monday, May 21, 2012

Some Photographs From Recent Walks

Winter over, spring over half over I find myself needing to be out and about much more, the apartment just to closed in for the energy screaming for, camera in hand I go for walks, some of them short, others longer, and some days even see me getting in my car in need of a grander adventure than a walk in our small hamlet.  Below are a few of my recent pictures.

The Bridge

There is a small red bridge out behind the old abandoned school here in our does not really go anywhere, the proverbial bridge to nowhere, crossing a creek that one could cross barefoot on any summers night. That said, it is a quaint bridge nestled under some trees, the creek and the critters surrounding it serenading visitors who might happen to stop by on a starlit night.   It's a bridge I tend to frequent, climbing the five steps to a have a seat and think as I stare skyward, thinking to myself its the perfect place for a picnic, but would not be so if the bridge did not adorn the space, it's beauty and simplicity completing Mother Nature's masterpiece.

Most of the time the bridge finds itself alone, few bothering the time to leave the sidewalk and meander back to where it sits.  On the nights I sit and ponder I often wonder which of us is keeping the other company.  Standing up I make my way to the bridge's center, looking down at water as it rushes by, always in a hurry to get to wherever it is going, rocks with moss, much like the bridge staying in place, offering seats to anyone who might happen to be walking by.  

I make my way to the other side, sit on the opposite steps looking down as I take off my shoes, the urge to dip my feet in the water too great a temptation to ignore.  I place first one, then the other shoe on the bottom step and let my feet touch the sand as I find my way to the water's edge, feel the coolness like a blanket wrapping itself around my ankles as I bend down to roll up my pant legs so that I can wade out and sit on one of the rocks covered in moss, so that I can sit and admire the bridge from another angle, smiling as the stars wink at me from the sky above.

The Rain

It was a rainy night
More like a deluge
Yet still a rainy night
Like other rainy nights
Or so it seemed

I in my apartment
Lights turned low
Watching it rain
Playing on my computer
Wanting for some coffee

Peering out my window
Saw a chicken
Carrying an umbrella
Unopened, feathers soaked
Odd I thought

I grabbed my slicker
Ran down my hall
Out the door
Into the rain
Slicker under my arm

I followed the chicken
A neighbor soon following me
Both of us curious
Wondering what was about
With the chicken in the rain

Soon our three
Grew to seven then ten
A parade in the rain
All of us following
A chicken with an umbrella

We marched out of the hamlet
Down the road around the bend
Our ten now twenty or so
All of us soaking wet
Murmuring back and forth

Where is he going
Why is his umbrella not open
Can you believe this rain
Questions back and forth
No answers to be had

The chicken walked for hours
Some gave up
Went back home
But a few of us brave souls
Continued following

Suddenly the chicken
Wet to the wishbone
Opened his umbrella
Turned around

Good evening all
I hope you are having fun
I just love walking in the rain
Apparently so do you
Enjoy your walk
I'm home now..Goodnight

With that he turned off the road
Heading toward a barn
Chagrined we turned
Put on our rain gear
Started the long walk home

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Some Pictures From Afternoon Walk

Find myself taking a lot more pictures these days. Went out today to see if I could get another shot of the Baltimore Orioles that I snapped last a few I liked, and thought I would share that and a few other pictures that I snapped today on my afternoon walk.  Most of these still need cropped and played with, but was a good day to be out in the woods.

Not sure why, but have always loved birch trees, tend to always take a picture or two of them when they come into sight.  There are several clumps along the path I walked today, there along the edge of what some call a lake, but I see it more as a medium sized pond myself.  It's a great area to do a little bit of bird watching, though I seem to be better spotting them with my naked eye than capturing them through my lens.  Saw a beautiful male hummingbird (Ruby Throat-ed) in this birch, but alas he was far quicker than I, and was unable to get a picture, though would have loved too.
I enjoy this picture of cattails, the layers of leaves, the contrasting colors of water, last years long dead leaves, and the lush green as again the plant lifts itself up out of the wetlands, a cattail following sometime in late June or early July.  I know, pretty standard fare, the same kinds of picture a lot of us who enjoy being out in nature take, but this, much like the birch above is a great way to get started with my day, let the camera once again settle into my hand as I try to find my eye.

This next shot I really like...its simple singular statement speaks to me, the one stalk all alone, its curled top so graceful that you cannot help but notice it, which I obvious did.  Like the way the tree line blurred out of focus, the almost surreal feel of the water.  I would frame and mount this one, perhaps put it in my bathroom, or somewhere in the hall on a small wall.  Needs to be cropped though.

The red winged blackbird shot just reminds me of how much I really need a far more powerful lens than the one I have.  Wish I could find a serious lens for my Canon used, or perhaps at an auction where it would perhaps be in my price range...the detail is almost, but not quite there, and that at times frustrates me.  OK, I admit frustrates me MOST OF THE TIME.

I got some shots I really like today of this bird...this is just one of them.  There is another one I am fond of as well, and will see if I can find it and share it as well.  I like the one flying as I RARELY get one like that...I know, suffering from a very bad case of LENS ENVY, but one of these days, shall have a chance to go out shooting with a far more powerful lens that is more appropriate for taking bird photographs, a lens that would give me the kinds of shots I see when looking through my binoculars.

Just a couple more for the day...enjoy!  Click on any picture to view the entire set in slide show mode.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stuff...Saying Goodbye

For several summers in a row now have spent my time from April through until October at a seasonal campgrounds down the road from where I now live.  For reasons that don't really matter much, I will not be able to spend my summers there, the last few weeks once the decision was made spent cleaning out the camper that was home, throwing away and getting rid of the stuff that had accumulated there over years...

Getting rid of things, parting with ones stuff is a hard is not so much the stuff in and of itself that creates the heartbreak, but rather the memories associated with your things, the memories that those items helped to make over years.  

There was the Tiki bar, just a small four foot assembly of wood with two shelves, and two bar stools that matched.  The first few years the bar was outside, an umbrella shading my guests during the heat of the day, providing just enough cover to sit at the bar during rainstorms having a Jack and Coke with friends.  In later years as the campsite grew, a deck with a screened in room was the bar's new home, along with other additions including a table with four chairs and a small color TV on which to watch the Yankee's play.  It would have been nice to have one final farewell weekend at camp this season, but that was not too be.  There were no friends there to help say goodbye, no last night sitting around a campfire, no patrons at my little self serve bar to send it off to the trash heap in proper form.  The little Tiki bar served me well, that simple little four foot space where friends gathered leaving behind a lifetime of memories, but caressing its aged wood, remembering all those times shared around its simple shape saw me shedding more than a few tears as it was tossed into the dumpster, soon disappearing under a pile of more stuff suffering the same fate.

The camper...a nice 40 foot long home on wheels will be hauled down the hill this coming week, sold for a pittance of what it was purchased for years ago.  Devoid of stuff, cleaned and scrubbed it looked much the same as it did the day it was bought...I remember that day, remember looking at the camper, then driving up to see the campgrounds, choosing a site and becoming a "seasonal camper". At that time, the beautiful interior seemed almost grand, but over the year as tables, wine glasses, pillows and other items from home made their way to camp, the camper took on personality, became cozy, inviting and was also home for the better part of six months each year.

Packing dishes each meal shared on them remembered in bittersweet recollections of a time that was/is now officially over.  Silly little items that had been bought just for camp, decorative little things, or functional in an antique kind of way...each having a story, a memory, as if each piece within the whole that is stuff was special, magically imbued with the ability to make me recall in perfect clarity as if looking at a photograph each of the special times that item had played a part.

Today, all the stuff is gone...some of it packed in boxes sitting in my apartment, other things packed up and sent down to Peekskill where they sit in Pina's house, each of us with our own tears to be shed when those boxes are unpacked, the things put away.   I closed the door to the camper for the last time at just after two this afternoon and said goodbye.  Standing there alone, I knew that an important chapter in the story that is my life was officially over.   Taking one last drive through the campgrounds, perhaps it was fitting there was no one there to witness the tears as they streamed down my cheeks, proper that no one was there to ask me what was wrong.  How do you tell one you are crying over stuff, how do you tell someone you are crying over the fact you know you will never be coming back.

I over time will not really miss the stuff...have more than enough stuff as it is, and need to get rid of some if not a lot of it.  I will though miss the memories that stuff helped to form, will miss the fact that with the letting go of that stuff, a family I had been a part of for so many years will be moving on, and as days and weeks move into month, no longer a member of that family, I will too quickly become a distant memory seldom if ever remembered and recalled.

Saying goodbye to Skyway today in some ways was almost like a mini death, a foretelling of a death we all one day shall have to endure, and looking at this one, the one down the road some day is not going to be an experience I will enjoy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Life, Dreams, Memories

Life is about seeing dreams into reality, making memories with friends and those you love. If you are not accomplishing these two simple things, you are slowly dying from the inside out.  In some ways, feel as if I have been slowly dying of late, dreams being worked on destroyed, gone with the seven winds, life's cold realities, distances created for reasons out of my control see making memories with good friends and those I love all but impossible in the here and now.

Sitting here looking out my window, Main Street silent; even almost desolate as the sun slowly settles into the west a hint of rain tinging the air, two nuthatches perched on the overhead wire singing as if they are both without a worry in the world.  Wish they would go and find some place else too perch.  I feel a need for silence, sense that I want to be still for awhile in the hopes of hearing my own inner voice say something that I suspect I need to hear.  

I seem to care less these days about the greater concerns of the world that used too see me off tilting at windmills, those greater wrongs needing righted not seeming so much my business any it that I am growing selfish, no longer willing to be so selfless in my pursuits? Perhaps growing older, or old does that to a soul.  More than ever before, sense a shortness of time, or perhaps as if my own time is far too fast running through the hour glass. 

If I am honest, yearn for a simpler life...a small cottage nestled into the woods, maybe a meadow in which to go lounge and read a book, taking joy on those days I ride around on a small old John Deere as the smell of fresh mowed grass pleases the senses, reveling in a gulp of ice water taken from an old mason jar I keep in the fridge.   Work does not really interest me...well, not the 9-5 variety any way.  Would rather be up at six, taking my coffee out to a small patch of vegetables, smiling as I bend down to pull up weeds. I want to drink lemonade or a glass of wine on the front porch swing of an evening, watching as the stars come out in the evening sky, but don't want to be sitting there all alone.

It's odd...

I have my dreams, know what it is that I want with the life I have left in this just all right now seems just out of my grasp, and in that reality is a great deal of frustration mixed with a dash of sadness as I sit here on a Sunday night pondering the what if's and could have been's of this life.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Two Words...Used to

Perhaps the two most often spoken melancholy words in the English language are, "used to".  Past actions, realities, dreams, truths that have vanished as our lives and circumstances change over time.  There are simple "used to"'s that remind us of things we would just as soon forget..."These pants used to fit me".  The mere utterance of the statement reminding us that we have put on 25 or 30 pounds, our bodies not the way they used to be.  That one dovetails nicely with, "I used to go out for a walk almost every day, but not any more" which leads to questions like "Why?" and "When did it all change?" both questions often times requiring a introspective review of ourselves we would just as soon avoid as we eat another donut, pour ourselves a second or even third cup of coffee.  "Pass the cream and sugar please".

There are the harder "used to" sentences that bring tears to our eyes, instant statements of truth we either hate to admit, or wish we did not have to like "I used to be young", "I used to be happy" and a host of others that speak to a life on a downward spiral as we approach those end of life years wondering where it all went astray, or why we are still around while all of our friends pass away from this ailment and that as we become more intimately aware of death, realizing with each passing day that our time on this earth is closer to the end than it used to be, that since of immortality we used to have gone, replaced by wrinkles, aches and pains.  

Remember when life used to be so simple?  Do I have too answer that, or can I plead the fifth?  I ponder; was life ever really simple, or instead since birth has it always been complicated for some of us?  As I grow older, it seems as if the answers I used to know have slipped away, supposed truths now falsehoods, dreams that I thought I could attain in my life gone as the drive and desire I used to have, the boundless energy I used to have both dried up, replaced by a since of tiredness I cannot seem to escape as the complexities of every day life overwhelm me...I think to myself, "I used to be so alive, so full of energy".

There are some good "used to's" we speak, but even those seem to be filled with a certain taint, a tinge of sadness or regret.  "I used to smoke...then my Dad died of cancer" or "I used to be fat...till the doctor told me I was going to die if I did not lose some weight."  I used to be healthy...then I just stopped caring.  I used to be in an abusive marriage...then I got out.  I used to be a drug addict...then I found help, and have been clean for three years.

There are those "used to's" spoken by others that cut us to the quick, either individually or collectively. Is there anything sadder than hearing someone say, "I used to care", "I used to love you" or in a fit of anger someone saying things like, "I used to think you were handsome" or "what happened to you, you used to be so thin and now you have just let yourself go"...does not matter what "used to" is spoken to you, the chances are it is going to hurt.  America used to be great...yes, I know.

It's a beautiful sunny day here in Mountaindale, the temperatures near 60, the roof tops raining as the snow melts yet I find myself sitting inside thinking sad thoughts, and wondering just what the rest of my life holds for me.  I used to think I'd found a home here, and now I am not so's complicated, but it did not used to be so.  Both dreams and reality change, and the hopes and aspirations we used to have must change as well, but at my age coming to grips with that change is not as easy as it used to be.  Change is blowing in the wind and I know that my own life is about to change, has to change and that scares me far more than it used to, but that fear will not stop those changes from occurring.  

Perhaps the best thing I can do is sit quietly...not something I do easily...perhaps in that space of silence my own way forward can be deciphered, and with that forward vision the chaos that is now can end.   When I was much younger and faced with major life choices and decisions that approach used to work.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Shared From Mountaindale After Dark...Should Have Been Here From Start

After The Storm...a Couple Photographs

This week it has been more like winter here in Downtown Mountaindale, the temperatures today warmer, but still a bit nippy.  A lot of times (read that to mean most of the time) I have my Canon Rebel digital camera beside me in the car when I go out to run errands, and the other day was no exception.  One never knows when something or another will catch your eye, and sometimes lady luck shines on your camera and the results are a photograph or two worth sharing. 
Sitting here in my apartment trying to stay warm this afternoon I downloaded images from my camera, and a couple pictures I happen to really like and thought I would share them here for everyone to enjoy.
As you leave the "Town of Fallsburgh" heading toward the Shop Rite in Thompson, New York you'll see these power poles off to your left about two miles out of town.  It had stopped snowing, but there was a misting rain in the air, the sheen of ice could still be seen on many of the trees branches along the drive, and the road conditions saw me moving along slower than most days.  I've passed these power poles numerous times, and they just not not shout out to me, but on this day, the poles in unison just seemed to speak out in unison, "Take our picture".
I so covet these lens!
Seeing the results, very happy that this was a day when my camera was with me in the car, and that I happened to have my 55-250mm Zoom lens on the box.    For the money, you just cannot beat the Canon Rebel EOS, though, if I win the lottery, would love to have a full set of their top of the Zoom Lens with all the bells and whistles on them.  For that matter, I would love just being able to shoot with these lens for say one week...especially if I could pick any location in the world for that one week.  Wondering if Canon has any need for a product tester in Sullivan County NY?  I will work for free if I get to keep anything I test...can I give you a wish list?  Anything on this page I would so die for...OK, not die, but drool over in a covetous fashion...did I mention my birthday was last week?  Of course, thinking if I got that incredible EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM   or the EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM  I would need to invest in a new box for such incredible lens.
Another couple of pictures I snapped were at the entrance to our own "Rails to Trails" here in Mountaindale, including one of the Train Garden in the proverbial dead of winter.    This one is not as spectacular as the one above, but still liked it, perhaps because I spent so much of this past summer working on the trail during the installation of our "Train Garden".    I also just have an affinity for pictures that just seem to fade into infinity, almost always stop when I see a road or path that seems to present a feeling of great depth.  Streams are another one of those  subject matters that quickly catches my attention for the very same reason.
Sure for those of us who spent our summer working on the train garden will find this winter shot of our sculptural interpretation fun.  Waiting for spring so we can see how many of our garden perennials survived after the drubbing they took in last year's hurricane.  The garden is definitely going to need some TLC this spring, as is the portion of the trail just up from it that was all but washed out.  Of course, looking at how hard some of our neighboring communities were hit by Hurricane Irene, we here in Mountaindale can count ourselves very lucky.
For those of you who have gotten this far, just a reminder that Sunday March 10th, 2012 will  see Rock Hill hosting the Second Annual Rock Hill Saint Patrick's Day Parade beginning at 12 Noon.
Also on March 10th, the Sullivan Renaissance Annual Conference, which officially kicks off this years Sullivan Renaissance Project season.  Applications for the 2012 Sullivan Renaissance Program are available online, and due in their office no later than 5 PM on March 21, 2012.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sunday Musings in Winter-Affinity For Old Things

There is a certain comfort to be found collecting  discarded mementos from others lives, solid objects from a life experienced and lived long ago, a person or a building, the story told in items found snooping around the foundations of  decaying structures, junk yards, and little out of the way antique shops that are far from the beaten path, more patron-less museums than a viable business intent on turning a profit.

Both my apartment and computer are cluttered with these treasures, each walk seeing my own collection grow as I gather about me examples of a simpler time, a time when every day items had a certain elegance about them, an elegance easily seen in the pictures I snap along the way, in the items I bring home, clean, wash and repair before putting them on display.

A Radiant Lamp bulb found in its original box laying in the corner of a long ago abandoned decrepit building speaks of a day when America made things, produced the items of a thriving nation that led the world in every way...those days where we manufactured things seems all but gone, these relics all that remains of times when towns and cities thrived, worked and played.  A search for the Radiant Lamp company of Newark NJ turns up nothing on the company itself, the 500 Watt bulb  in box having an EBay value of around $24.  Suppose I should take  pleasure in knowing my finds have a certain value to others, that other collectors are doing their part to preserve these reminders of our past.

The picture to the right was taken in the small village of Woodbridge which is about two miles from here.  There is still some activity going on in the building, yet it has a sense of neglect hanging on it, rust; peeling stucco upon its face speak of better days when vast qantities of laundry moved in and out of the Sullivan Steam Laundry each and every day.  A Google search tells us that Minnie Burns, former bookkeeper for the laundry passed away June 15, 2001 in Florida, though no hint of when she retired, moved to the warmer climate enjoyed in North Miami Beach is found in the brief mention of her own life. 

Can almost sense spirits looking out as I look in, ghosts of long dead inhabitants inviting me to come sit awhile. Do you ever wonder if houses past their prime, abandoned, left to recede back into Mother Earth's waiting arms cry in their lonesomeness, left to face their death, no person to witness their final passing?  Perhaps the only proof they ever existed a digital photograph on a blog which, like the house will one day find itself all alone.

Those without a place to lay their heads, people without a place in which to live are called homeless...are homes without inhabitants called people-less, and if not perhaps they should be, more pity felt for their plight if they but had a label for their cause?  Help the people-less, please someone come and move inside.

Sometimes as I stand alone, watching the sun filtering down through the broken spines of these old places, it is hard to imagine them without a soul, and at those times I grieve for them, mark their imminent death with a little prayer hoping it helps them on their way to wherever it is that old houses go to when they collapse back into the ground, buried under leaves as nature takes back what was hers.

Wonder what will become of my own collection when I am gone, worry about this odd assortment of trinkets and toys finding themselves without a those times I sit alone and cry, then; realizing the silliness of my own emotions, I get out a dust rag, a can of wax, some paper towels, Windex and scurry about my little home letting each and every object know that they are loved.

Once was told that a clean home is the sign of a sick mind, and perhaps there is some truth in that saying.  Others have said, "It's just stuff" and I am not sure I can agree with that sentiment...if things, objects were just stuff, they would not tell such grand stories without speaking a word, would not bring out such strong emotions as boney fingers caress their surfaces remembering times from so long ago.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Post With No Name

Sitting here remembering when
Songs carrying me gently away
To places of my dreams

Sing to me of angels
Talk to me of love
Cry of innocence lost

Just sixteen
A boy in a man's body
Her age  twenty three

After midnight
Full moon in the sky
Spoke it was right

Lips caressing mine
Fingers entwined in fingers
She showed me the way

Saturday night sitting alone as Dylan screams out songs of love, words stinging in their simplicity, condemning in their familiarity as the reflection in the mirror nods as if to say, "Been there, done that, and have the scars to prove the pain."  Years pass by, bodies and attitudes softening with age, our needs, hopes, dreams,  like those of a child grow simpler, visions of conquering the world giving way to hopes of not growing old alone, dreaming of someone there to hold our hand as we face our destiny, someone smiling at us, whispering "It's all going to be OK" in the darkness of our waning nights.

Reach forward
Fall back

One question God

Reach forward
Fall back

The freight train hurtling through the night, it's waling forlorn whistle screaming, steel wheels throwing sparks into the silent blackness of my mind.  I awaken terrified in time to see the hall light go off, knowing soon I will hear the creek of stairs.  Trembling, I roll over; seek the comfort of the nightmare from which I awoke, searching for its solace awaiting my fate. 

One question God

Flash forward
Flash back

Bare naked ladies...a band, an orgy...cannot remember which, the memory a kaleidoscope of photo emulsion images scattered across the floor of my mind, or is that plural, as in more than one, numerous mini me's demanding to be heard.  There is order in chaos, solace in order, everything having place, everything in its place.

"If you could have one thing, what would it be?"




"WOW, that's intense."

Uncomfortable silence, "and a Bentley.  A classic Bentley.  Anything from say a 1956 too a 1962, those were great years."

"Bentley's a good choice, they made some great cars back then.  Want another beer?"


Somethings are best kept secret, or spoken about in code, words with double meanings, phrases that speak a truth to you no one else has to endure.  Secrets unhealthy, yet we as men are expected to keep our past a secret. 

One question God

The clock moves quickly towards eleven...think a beer would go nicely with Bob Seger.  Any one got some night moves?

One icy cold Saranac "Lake Effect Lager"...the simple pleasure of indulgence.

In escaping our past we run towards a future that seems always to be one step ahead.

When I need to think, clear my head, I go for a long walk in the woods, so perhaps more than anything else, I fear losing my legs.

Who remembers King Crimson, the "Court of the Crimson King"?  21st Century Schizoid Man screaming out his pain as you peel away the layers, like an onion in the rain; you realize he is just like you and me.  Well except for the names and a few other changes when you talk about me the stories the same one...OMG...using Neil Diamond lyrics to draw a parallel to King Crimson...there is a stretch, albeit a somewhat accurate one.

Intellect is just insanity with a pedigree...diploma anyone?

Political Correctness has shelved some of the best jokes I have ever heard.

First time I heard the term "Metro Sexual", thought it meant you had done it on the probably have to be a New Yorker to get that joke.

Free Association may be a mental exercise, but perhaps it should more aptly be a Civil Right.  That one goes out to all my friends in the "Occupy Movement".

When listening to music on your IPod, remember to chose random play to avoid "The Sounds of Silence"...a cold beer on the house to everyone that got the Simon and Garfunkel reference there.

I still have more writing to do, but it will wait.

Tree Came Down Today

Today is one of those melancholy days; self reflection seems to be the guiding force dictating the unraveling of the hours from morning until dusk turns into dark, the world closing in around me as night finds the small hamlet in which I reside.  Today was spent digging out my small abode from the holiday season just past, taking down my small tree, wrapping each ornament back up with tissue paper for a long season's nap, each one bringing with it memories of days so long ago past.

Remember decorating the tree with my mother, she always happy; smiling at that time of the year, Christmas holding special meaning for her.  Recall the first time I found out that there was no Santa Claus, the pain of that truth softened when she allowed me to stay up late to help her wrap presents for my three younger siblings who still nurtured and believed in that dream of a jolly old man coming down our chimney, his sack full of toys for all the good little boys and girls. She passed away back in 1993, yet there is not a holiday,not a Mother's day that goes by that thoughts of her don't find a way of creeping in.  I still smile at the thought of her and I taking down the family tree, putting away ornaments, everyone else no where in site, wanting nothing to do with the task of putting Christmas away, though they were all there to help put it up.

A lot of those Christmas's from so long ago seem jumbled up together.  Separating and defining just a singular Christmas with any clarity an impossible task, though I can recall certain gifts vividly, know the exact year I got them.  There was my first bike without training was used, but Dad had put a new banana seat on it (teal metal flake blue green vinyl top with a white leather side, grips and streamers to match.  Then there was the Christmas it seemed like Santa had not been overly kind where I was concerned until Mom brought out my new fishing rod, reel and tackle box that she had  hidden behind the couch.  I had so much fun that day casting out in the snow, seemingly immune to the frigid temperatures on that wonderful day.

Looking back, knowing at 56 that Mom, Dad and all the grandparents are long gone, it's  bittersweet to see all the traditions I have managed to keep alive, sadder still knowing  I have no offspring who will carry those traditions on once I have left this space we call earth.

Sitting here at my office desk in the kitchen, nibbling on the last of the turkey from Thanksgiving I took out of the freezer earlier today can peer into the living room, all traces of the three back to back holidays gone and out of site.  The various boxes and shopping bags full of decorations tucked away here and there, not to be seen again until the end of this New Year. A life time of memories taken out, examined as I went through my day, it is hard to hold back the tears of loss I feel at all those things and people who are no more.  Funny, not in a ha ha way, how the older we get the more precious those Easters, Memorial Days, 4th of July's and all the rest become, how we wonder just how many more we individually are destined to enjoy before there are no more.

I don't fear death, am seeing more of it with each passing year, friends and family passing as I approach 60, realizing at best that my own life is at least 3/4 done, but it is not a final curtain call I am looking forward too.  I look at my stuff, each little thing special to me in its own unique way, imbued with a magical power to bring back to the forefront of my mind the day and time when it came into my life.  My possessions not defining me, but acting as props used in the telling of my life's story. With that knowledge of what those things represent, I wonder what will become of them when I am gone, wonder what becomes of the story that is my life when those things are scattered to the seven winds.  Do fear that when I am gone, my things no longer gathered for display in one place, there will be no one there to tell the story of who I was, no one there to share the tales of my childhood, no one there who can share with the world what it was like to be in the kitchen with my Mom, baking cookies on a cold snowy day in December in preparation for the Christmas that was/is about to begin.

*This post is dedicated to Wes Tern who passed away, losing his own brief bout with cancer, this post is dedicated to all of his friends who gathered at his house here in Mountaindale, each of them honoring his memory by taking little things from his house with them, giving those items a place of honor in their abodes so that his story, small parts of his life will carry on as the things that told his story find a new role, become a part of another story as his possessions become the props that will help each of them recall their own memories of times and friends past.  God's speed Wes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

There is Something Majestic In Architectural Decay

The past few days, camera in hand I have been walking, driving around our area of Sullivan county taking shots of derelict beauty, old decaying homes, bungalows and buildings that seem to be almost everywhere in this area, testament to glory days long ago past into the history books, even these remnants slowly giving up their ghosts as Mother Nature reclaims her own. There are stories in most of these crumbling architectural skeletons, hand stitches curtains blowing in the wind, the pane of glass once protecting them broken, jagged glinting as the sun shines across its surface. Peeking through a door almost off it's hinges you spy an old chair, or perhaps a sofa, most of its stuffing gone, perhaps carried away by birds every spring during mating season.

Closing my eyes, can almost see a house back in the day, children flitting to and fro, laughter filling the air. Seeing the old cook stove, can see a mother, aunt or older sister putting on a pot of stew, or perhaps baking muffins in the oven below. Walking around the place, you see old discarded steel lawn chairs from maybe the 1940's rusted, still taking up residence under a giant oak tree, the green moss creeping up the trunk.

Done with one dying relic, I return to my car moving down the road, stopping at an overlook that has played and continues to play host to thousands upon thousands of summer visitors, the place quite except for the sounds of rushing water on this cold winter day. I left the formal structure, scampering over boulders left back in the days when glaziers receded back too their homes found far further north than where I stood. I snapped more pictures, capturing the movement and the season in my lens. The scene so different, devoid of the children playing along the water's edge that summer is used to...does the river here miss that noise, is it aware of the changing seasons, looking forward to the spring still months away?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Just a Few Photographs

Trying to spend some time in the new year being more creative, while at the same time also working at being healthier, losing a bit of weight. To that end, grabbed my Canon Rebel this morning and went out for a walk of about two miles, snapping some photographs along the way that I thought I would share here.

This first one was taken along the Rails to Trails corridor heading toward Woodridge. Love the color of the leaves, so muted and ethereal against the green of the pine needs.

I have an affinity for old abandoned buildings, decaying relics of days gone by. This door was found behind one of the many abandoned homes that dot the landscape here in our small hamlet of Mountaindale and its surrounding area.

This next picture is a close up of the same door, the decorative work on the door plate quite stunning. Of the two, the second one is my own favorite, as it is emblematic of the attention to detail that you do not see today in pretty much everything. Back then, the most mundane items had a flair to them, a small bit of decoration making the ordinary extraordinary. This particular building provided several hidden treasures as I walked around its exterior.

This cast iron knoll post from the front stairs of the building was tucked under a small covered entryway into the basement of the building and would have been tempted to bring one home to display in my livingroom, but would have needed a couple of very strong bodies with me, or a dolly to have gotten it back to my apartment, and God only knows how I would get it up the stairs and into the front room, but do love it. As a subject of a photograph, love the muted pastel palette of the photograph.

In front of the building, the columns were yet another surprise, the lead green paint tenaciously holding on in some areas provides beautiful texture as well as stunningly unexpected color.

This one walk around a forgotten building turned out to be a photographer's dream, and it just goes to show you, that if you look closely, there are beautiful pictures to be found almost anywhere if you have your eyes looking for them. It was cold out, and after these pictures, headed back home to get warm, though I would take my camera with me later in the day on my trip to Ellenville.

Again, as I was driving down 209 found a few more pictures that saw me stopping my car, grabbing the camera and snapping away, capturing the moment forever in a digital pic.

Mother Nature at her simple, and yet so beautiful. Thinking this one would also make a great pencil drawing one day this winter when the snow is flying and I find myself trapped inside looking for something to amuse myself with for a few hours. Snapped this next one about 50 yards down, same subject matter, but has a completely different feel because of the background colors.

It was a good day for taking photographs, and I have several more that I may share over the next few days. I leave you though with just one on an old house that I stumbled upon while out for a drive on New year's day. Again, took several photographs of this home, it's windows, each one of them beautiful treasures evoking feelings of a time long ago past.

Hope you have enjoyed my photo montage. Not sure how good I am at it (digital photography is still new to me), but do enjoy the whole process involved, though have to admit I miss the good old days when you went out with a few rolls of TRI X 400 ASA film, then spent a couple of days playing in the darkroom. Times like this, show my age, as well as my old school ways when it comes to things creative, though I will admit it is fun being able to so quickly play with and change photographs taken with digital technology.

Morning Quote

Was looking at my Linkedin page this morning, browsing a couple of opportunities in the creative marketing world, and came up with this quote that I would LOVE to use in an interview when they ask me why I would be a good hire.

"I have multiple personalities, and am prepared to bring them all to bear in supporting your company's vision."

Now you understand why a typical 9-5 job would so NOT work for me. I think outside of the Trapezoid. Besides which, I like getting up early, and staying up late playing online.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Wasting of Precious Pixels and Bandwidth

Oh WOE is me...seems in these turbulent times in which we live that none can be trusted, that we have been reduced to verifying all that we are, even down to our blog when trying to post it up onto Technorati, and not just in any post, but a new one, one that will be freshly burned onto our RSS or Atom feed, and I am emboldened to ask, how much band with is wasted in this act of self identification? I know, my frustration at this is academic, the rules they must be followed, the CODE must be here for the crawlers to find so that they can scurry back from whence they came, assuring those that wonder that I am whom I claim to be.

I grow weary of the games, ponder climbing some great mountain and contemplating the hairs trying to grow from out of my belly button, but alas tis easier to abide by the wishes of the great machines, their crawlers who are out and about night and day, day and night looking for the code, or more specifically, my own very personal CLAIM TOKEN, which is 2252CUBV5XK6

I must now end this post, visit the holy temple and call upon the Technorati God's too send for their crawlers, must contact the feeders of the RSS and ask them to visit again gathering up this newest of posts so that all might be right, and my blog can be listed in the Great Book of Blogs.

Thoughts on This, The First Night of 2012

Though redundant, as these posts are dated, it is just after six in the evening on January 1, 2012 and the first day of this new year is coming to a close, dusk long gone, the evening sky dark as a gentle mist speaks of rain. Spent my day going over finances, making a strategy to deal with certain debts that still hover threateningly, like storm clouds in these troubling economic times, my own finances mirroring the weather just outside my window.

In some ways, my living situation, dramatically changed over these past three months, the economy, the lack of jobs (not that I really want one) for a aging Baby Boomer, coupled with debts, both mine and my wife's have me feeling caged, boxed in and wishing it was not so. It is difficult not having choices, or in my own situation having choices out on the horizon just out of my reach, exercising them all dependent to a degree on things outside of my own control, my life suddenly resembling that of the canary living in a gilded cage. The frustration of it comes in the reality that I am not getting any younger, my years on this earth dwindling far to fast for my own liking, and with those dwindling years, also dwindling choices as I look out toward the future wondering what it is that I want and am meant to do.

Looking back at my youth, more specifically my early adulthood, find myself wishing I could just shut down my apartment for say six months (or so), get myself a pickup truck with a cap top on it, load in some basic necessities (funny how what is basic has changed over the years), my camera, laptop, IPod and some drawing/writing supplies and just take off to explore the countryside here in America, Canada, down south into Mexico and beyond, driving wherever mood and destiny took me...head south to escape the harsh winter snows of this area, maybe heading down into Georgia, then Florida, up and across into Texas, stopping in New Orleans at some point along the route to see if any of the old haunts from my time there some 35 years ago are still around...God, am I really that old and has it been that long ago.

Would be good to travel up the coast of California again, this time driving a vehicle instead of hitch hiking like so long ago. Spend some time in San Francisco, drive over the Golden Gate Bridge into Marin County, stopping to do some primitive camping in Mount Tamalpais State Park. Wondering as I type this how this old body would deal with the primitive (and I do mean primitive) camping this park offered all those decades ago.

All a grand plan for a grand adventure, but being honest, times have changed, and such a trip requires MONEY!...Lets say I traveled on average 200 miles a day for 180 days. That would be a trip of some 36,000 miles at 20 miles to a gallon of gas which is going to cost me right at four dollars a gallon...2800 gallons of fuel, four dollars a gallon creates just one expense for such a trip of $11,200! OMG, and have not even fed myself yet.

Let's put that in perspective...I have $2,000 a month to live on, and even with my apartment mothballed, there are still going to be certain inescapable expenses. IE, my cell phone which I would use as a modem to get out onto the world wide web while I traveled is going to cost $100 a month. Even camping out, there are going to be times when I have to pay site fees, and there would be times when one needs to splurge on a motel room...even a Motel 6 these days is not inexpensive.

So, looking at my life, such a adventure is out unless I could A) find someone willing to pay me to make the trip and write about it...fat chance, or B) find myself a patron, as in a patron of the arts, someone of great wealth who found the idea amusing, or wanted to live vicariously the adventure with me through say a nightly blog post...the second option seems even less likely, though am wondering if there might be a lot of somebodies who once discovering the blog would be willing to make small donations to the cause...hmmm...that is a third option perhaps worthy of some thought.

Suppose the first thing to do would be to create a list of items I would want to take on such a trip, and as I contemplate this list, find way too many gadgets leaping to the forefront of my mind.

1. IPad-yes, I know what you are thinking. I would be able to bring all my favorite music with me without having to use up valuable space carting around 200 CD's...that would be just way to old school for a trip of this sort in 2012. I could have a GPS map app, even be able to have apps for finding places to camp, or where the closest truck stop with a hot shower was. Suddenly thinking a modern day Charles Kuralt doing my own version of "On The Road", uploading segments onto You Tube as I traveled across America...of course, if I could sell this concept, maybe I could move up to a Motor-coach instead of having to sleep in a tent, or in the back of my pickup truck on an air mattress. GREAT...still on one IPad which I cannot afford, and already a Motor-coach is trying to creep onto the list...but, this is a GOOD CONCEPT. Maybe I should contact HGTV, or the Discovery Channel too see if they are willing to pay for the first six episodes! A full season, and I would know I had won the dream lottery. I mean corporate sponsors for PRODUCT PLACEMENT alone could be HUGE.

Of course, if I could sell this as a reality show, Apple might be willing to be a sponsor, which means I could have a IPhone, and a fully loaded iMac inside the Motor-coach for doing my blogging, and editing of what would become THOUSANDS of great photographs to load up onto say Flickr or even (could I hope) Getty Images. Of course all these photographs, suddenly thinking COFFEE TABLE BOOK (I love Coffee Table books) being sold at Barnes and Noble, or at the very least on though being honest, as much as I love their Kindle Fire, nothing beats a REAL BOOK, turning its pages, holding it in your hands, caressing the paper while being careful not to break the binding or accidentally fold a page. Books by their mere presence command a certain level of respect.

2. Camera Equipment, both video and digital-OMG, if one thinks item number one is bad, my dream equipment here could run into several tens of thousands of dollars...notice I said DREAM EQUIPMENT. Even if I sold the idea as a reality show, and had a film crew taping/filming my every move, much of it ending up on the editing room floor, have to have my own camera equipment on this journey. My Canon Rebel has been VERY GOOD TO ME, and Canon makes some really great lens that I simply cannot afford but regularly drool over...seriously, drool over. Being honest here, do not have a lot of experience when it comes to video, so am open for some suggestions, though I do like what I have seen for the money in the Canon XH A1S which is way less expensive than some of the lenses I am craving. Am wondering if this camera comes with a free lesson or two.

The nice thing about one and two, is turning my trip into a Reality TV show with strategic product placement would eliminate some of the items I would require on my list. I mean imagine me tooling around the countryside, stopping at all the greatest out of the way places, bars, honkytonks and swimming holes in my Prevost Touring Bus...since it is my show, and my dream journey, think Prevost would mind painting it up like the Magic Bus? Speaking of the Magic Bus, wonder how many people know that Mountaindale, the small hamlet in which I now reside was Almost Woodstock the second coming back in 1970.

Can see myself pulling into Daytona for the big NASCAR restrictor cup race, ready to get out the grill and put on some SERIOUS EATS. Seriously, a Prevost bus and NASCAR just seem to go together like love and marriage, or beer and nuts. All dreaming aside, with a bus I would have a bedroom, living room, places for my favorite books, and a FULL KITCHEN...any one who knows me knows how much I love cooking and baking. It would be like taking my home out on the road with me; sleeping in a real bed paints a much prettier picture than going back to a pup tent, or a sleeping bag out under the stars. Now that we are on the subject of cooking, we come to my third area of equipment stuffs!

3. I can eat pretty good over an open fire with not that many pots, pans and utensils, but if I have the kitchen of a Motor-coach to work with, I have some serious space in which too do it up right, starting with pots and pans...thinking here that I would like to go right to William-Sonoma with a open ended purchase order, the Prevost parked outside, and just start trying things out.

First on the list, a great set of pots and pans; thinking the, "All-Clad d5 Stainless-Steel"10 piece set would do me just fine (it even comes with some extra freebies). A great kitchen (even in a Motor-coach) has to have some great cutlery, and for my money (OK, the sponsor's money) I want the "Wusthof Classic 20 Piece Knife Block Set"...hey, just because I am a almost broke, over the hill aging hippie Baby Boomer does not mean I don't know quality. I can slice up a serious pan of taters with these babies.

Wondering here, think the sponsors, HGTV or the Discovery Channel will let me pick out some really outrageous flatware, and what about my china pattern....hmmm, Spode or Royal Doulton? I know, a bit cliche, but so eloquent and beautiful when setting a formal table. Of course, if I get these wish list items, we have got to talk linens, which would then take us into the bedroom, and those sheets better have some SERIOUS THREAD COUNT TO THEM. Goose down comforters are lovely...especially in colder climes. I mean I would love to do an episode up in Alaska, then head over to Canada for some serious camping and fishing out in the wilderness.

Hey, Prevost, with all that space underneath the bus, can I get a pull out stainless steel grill, maybe a pop up large screen HD television set for outside viewing under the stars?...give me a break folks, want to watch reruns of Grizzly Adams in style while I enjoy an after dinner Single Malt Scotch sitting by the cracking fire along the water's edge.

If you are going to dream in life, dream big. As I close this post, one final thought...if you run into someone with a few million dollars that wants to indulge my own little dream here, send them a link to this blog just never know, it could happen.