Catch-Up Time…

 

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So, thought I’d give you a looksee into the inner circle of the life of Just One More Page. It’s fascinating, let me tell you. 🙂

book372Finished up a quick (and must admit rather forgettable) read of “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. I remember it being hilarious when I read the first time, but this time, meh. (And that’s the risk you run with rereads, I think.)

So – ok read but no need to put it up on the TBR pile any more. Out the door with you, Bill.

 

 

 

Peaky_BlindersWe’ve been sucked into the fantastic BBC/Netflicks series called “Peaky Blinders”, a series that follows some Birmingham (UK) travelers who form an organized crime network that grows and grows and grows… The actors are great, but let me give a warning about the accents: Americans may well need subtitles until you get the hang of it. Truly – this is riveting stuff and it would be very very easy to binge-watch this series. Highly recommended if you’re looking for a summer TV series.

 

 

vivian_meierWhen my sis visited me, we ended up watching the documentary “Searching for Vivian Maier” which is truly an intriguing story about a young man who buys a box of negatives and photos in an auction. Opening the box, he finds some high-quality photographs so, curious to know more, he follows the clues to who the photography was. The journey leads to a nanny who took more than 100,000 street photos, but kept them all private. Who was this person and why did she keep the photos secret?

(Along with this detective trail, the question is also raised that since the nanny/photographer is now dead, do we actually have the right to show her photos without her permission? Interesting…) My sis and I are contemplating going to Arlington to see an exhibition there of her work…

Anyway, a fascinating look into a very private person…

And then I’ve been doing some cross-stitch. I had put it down for a while and then picked it up again. Sucked in as usual (which is rather fun)…What’s up in your world?

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So – my trip to Vermont…

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…Was a lot of fun, so thought I’d put some photos up to show some of the sites that we passed.

As none of us had been to Vermont before and as we were all arriving from different far-flung places across the globe, we started the trip landing at Burlington Airport in one of the state’s larger cities. Didn’t see a great deal of Burlington, but I had a rather late arrival so after chatting a bit (and finding our first set of rocking chairs*, we went to the hotel and bed. (I had no idea that Vermont was so close to Canada! Hmm. Learn something new everyday, right?)

We tootled around Burlington the next morning, with a must-see (for me in particular) being the huge Lake Champlain. In Texas, it’s rare for me to see any large bodies of water, freshwater or sea, and so it’s always very high on my to-do list when I travel to places that do have one of those. So we took a ferry tourist ride around the lake, which was interesting and refreshing and a really fun way to spend the day (especially as all three of us had traveled across multiple east/west time zones to get there).

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The next day, we went to the Shelburne Museum which is a huge ranging historical place with authentic buildings that have been moved (in some cases) from elsewhere and then filled with artifacts anywhere on the spectrum from modern fiber art (e.g. art quilts) to sixteenth century kitchen tools and a covered bridge. (The covered bridge was outside, of course, and was interesting in and of its own right. We’d never seen one before, so found it to be an interesting experience. Are the bridges covered due to the frequency of severe cold weather events in Vermont?

One of the buildings at the Shelburne Museum...

One of the buildings at the Shelburne Museum…

Inside one of the old covered bridges that are scattered through Vermont (and other states?)

Inside one of the old covered bridges that are scattered through Vermont (and other states?)

Credit of artist: ?

Credit of artist: ?

My (rather small) mum sitting in a (rather big) chair at the Shelburne Museum.

My (rather small) mum sitting in a (rather big) chair at the Shelburne Museum.

Anyway, highly recommend a visit to this great museum if you’re in the neighborhood. It was really a fantastic place and we ended up spending most of the day there. (Of course, we found some rocking chairs to sit in for some of the day. 🙂 )

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We also visited the really well curated Robert Frost Interpretive Trail run by the National Forest Service and set in the middle of the Green Mountain Forest. There was a beautiful winding drive to and from the trail, and then, during the walking trail at spectacular scenic overviews, there were signs with relevant Frost poems written on them, and this was a really interesting touch. Frost had spent some time living as a forest ranger in this particular forest, so it was interesting to see similar views to the ones he had seen. I also had no idea that Frost is quite a recent poet. (I had thought that he was very Olden Times, but he’s not really.) (The views were really great in and of itself, but with the addition of poems, the trail breaks became a cultural tour as well. Well played, National Forest Service, Well played.)

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More booky photos next time. Suffice to say, that this was one of our family’s favorite trips. Thank you, Vermont!

IMG_8315 * One of the ongoing themes of the trip was searching for three or more Adirondack rocking chairs. I don’t know what came over us, except that it was really fun to spot them and go and commandeer them for a while. 🙂

Time for a General Catch-Up…

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Life has been busy and a little bit crazy work-wise, but appears to be evening out over all (which is a big relief for me). After a summer of working very long hours, I now don’t have to do that anymore quite so much and this frees me up for doing other things – like reading!

Despite this recent freeing up of my time, I don’t have a long list of finished titles to display with abandon before you yet. My recent trip to Vermont was super fun, but didn’t allow for that much reading time and I mostly slept on the plane ride. (See Work Schedule in above paragraph.) My mum is in town from England, and so we have been having lots of chatting and a big focus on finishing what could really be considered a Top Ten finisher in “Hardest Jigsaw Puzzle in the World.” Fun but wow – pretty challenging.

My mum working diligently on the jigsaw puzzle...

My mum working diligently on the jigsaw puzzle…

We did manage to fit in a couple of bookshops (of course) such as the Vermont Book Shop (great indie store) and we completed the Robert Frost Interpretive Trail in Middlebury (which is a really pretty town, btw.) Although I enjoy some poetry, I wasn’t that familiar with Frost (apart from the “road less traveled” one), and so we really enjoyed this particular trail which featured some of his works posted by beautiful vistas. It was a super idea to combine written word with amazing natural scenery and this was the first time that I’d seen this done in a national park. (Kudos to them for doing this.) I hadn’t realized that (a) Frost was quite a modern poet, (b) he worked for the National Parks system, and (c) some of his work is really good, so this was an unexpected surprise.

I am a bit stuck at the moment in trying to finish up a fairly longish book called “Wish You were Here” by Stewart O’Nan (2002). It’s not that it’s a bad book by any means, but more that it would benefit from a good long bout of concentrated reading time when I’ve only seemed to have small pieces available. By golly though – I’m going to finish this novel this week if it kills me. (Not really about the “killing me” bit. Definitely about the “finishing” bit.)

By the way, enormous kudos should go to Charlotte-Douglas Airport for being my favorite airport ever. It’s clean, it’s environmentally friendly and best of all, it’s super-quiet. There are TV screens, but they don’t have sound (only captions) and unbelievably enough, there are no blaring overhead speakers announcing boarding groups and gate changes (and yet people still made their flights without any problems despite such quiet communication).

It was truly a lovely experience traveling through Charlotte, and was so much appreciated. (BTW, the airport is well designed and has a huge atrium with a glass roof (loads of natural light), indoor trees, recycling everywhere, and white Adirondack rocking chairs to sit in around the perimeter under the trees. I am now a big fan of these pieces of furniture and I, my mum and my sister spent quite some time rocking around Vermont when we went up there. 🙂 )

Some of the ubiquitous Adirondack rocking chairs that we had lots of fun sitting in during our stay in Vermont.

Some of the ubiquitous Adirondack rocking chairs that we had lots of fun sitting in during our stay in Vermont.

More about Vermont later, but suffice to say that we all loved our time there. It’s beautiful, it’s historical, and the people were really friendly without being weird about it. I’d love to move there, but everyone keeps telling me to visit in February when it’s snowy. 🙂

Pics to come.

Random Things Seen on the Road to Santa Fe…

As on any roadtrip, one sees odd and strange (to you) sights. It’s in the nature of the beast, and it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the journey. Here’s a selection of what I happened to see when we drove to Santa Fe:

Roadside sculpture built to lure drivers passing by on a long and rather uninteresting road… It worked!

Roadside sculpture built to lure drivers passing by on a long and rather uninteresting road… It worked!

Holy Spirits Espresso - lovely people with great coffee!

Holy Spirits Espresso – lovely people with great coffee!

(Really good coffee just off the plaza at Santa Fe)

Driving through Texas and New Mexico

Driving through Texas and New Mexico

Lovely scene in Santa Fe.

Lovely scene in Santa Fe.

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Travelin’, Travelin’, Travelin’ ….

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I recently was traveling with family to see more family in the beautiful city of Santa Fe in New Mexico. It’s a remarkable small community in quite a compact space that is stuffed to the gills with art of all descriptions and turquoise jewelry of every stripe possible.  

Driving to Santa Fe from West Texas means lots of sky!

Driving to Santa Fe from West Texas means lots of sky!

I’ve been to Santa Fe quite a few times, but it wasn’t until this time around that I decided to learn about the history of the area and how the town became like it is. As seen in the first photo, it’s a community of adobe dwellings (at least in the downtown plaza area), and this is by design. Back in the 1920’s, community leaders came together with a goal of increasing tourism and agreed to have building codes only allowing certain architectural styles, mostly adobe around the plaza. There are of course other architectural styles but downtown is strict on its zoning and building codes. All of this uniformity makes a very pleasing atmosphere actually, and at least it represents and respects the Native American (or First Peoples’) history within these parts.

So – loads of museums to go to: George O’Keefe Museum, Museum of Folk Art (tons and tons to look at with such amazing detail and very enjoyable curating), a children’s museum, and then art dealer shop after art dealer shop showing pieces of almost every school of art, it seemed, including art from Dr. Seuss himself.

BookshopAnd then, of course, I happened to find a book shop. (Quelle surprise!) Called Collected Works, it was slightly off the beaten tourist path, but well worth the walk. It’s a charming lovely indie book shop with an extremely well curated selection of books (including a wide selection of titles in translation which was interesting.)

Of course, I had to buy a book – support an indie bookseller today!

Had a lovely coffee shop and comfortable furniture so we had a nice sit-down and browse, along with some laughs. And on the way home we came across the following sign which made me wince a bit…

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Had a good stay and will definitely return to Santa Fe again. It’s only a five-hour drive which is close by Texas standards. (Distance in Texas is usually measured in the number of hours it takes to drive somewhere else from where you are. For example, Houston is a ten-hour drive from where I live, and Austin is a good six hours.)

Fun weekend. You should go if you can…

Travel Photos: Albuquerque Balloon Festival 2014

Had a fab time when my mum and I went to New Mexico to visit the annual International Balloon Festival the other day. It’s astonishing, really, when you’re walking up close (and among) the balloons as they inflate. It’s like walking amongst a nation of giants – the sense of proportion is immense. And then there are colors against the bright blue sky – a photographer’s dream!

So, here are just a few of the pics that I took. (Not too many, I promise, as I know how *thrilling* other people’s vacation pics can be…!)

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🙂

Things on Cowboy’s Head – Part 39 (Ongoing Project)

Things on Cowboy's Head. No. 39: Wine cork.

Things on Cowboy’s Head. No. 39: Wine cork.

Background Note: Cowboy, as you know, is one of our cats. She is big and friendly and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She naps a lot. All of which helps with this ongoing project I have going on…

It’s called “Things on Cowboy’s Head” and I am just seeing what I can balance on the top of her head when she’s amenable to that. It’s been fun so far, and she seems quite happy to play along. (She just moves when she doesn’t want to participate.)

(Cowboy’s posts are all gathered in one spot on her own blog.)

Extra Extraordinary Chickens – Stephen Green-Armytage (2005)

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A second volume (except that I didn’t know there was a first) of absolutely stunning professional photographic portraits of some breeds of ornamental chickens. (That’s right. Chickens.)  This was an absolute joy to look at and learn (at  least on a superficial level) of the numerous kinds of chickens that are out in the world and just look fabulous. (Seriously.)

Ever since we visited the South Plains Fair last September and found ourselves looking at the chicken exhibits, I’ve been curious to learn more about these beautiful chickens. This volume has about 60 different breeds in it, but it’s the photography that is incredible. (Well, and the subjects of course.)

There are just pages and pages and pages of beautiful chickens (and roosters and co.) and in the studio photographic portrait set-up and in the hands of a very good photographer, they come alive in their beauty. I don’t think these are the typical chickens, but they are some of the prettiest and most amazing chickens that I have ever seen.

I did learn some stuff though (and was not just dazzled by chicken super-models):

  • Roosters are older males
  • Chickens are older females
  • Pullets are younger females
  • Cockerels are younger males

The use of “Bantam” weight and “Featherweight” in the weight divisions of boxing originate from the world of chickens and cockfighting. Cockerels who are successful in the cut-throat world of cockfighting are usually aggressive and very tough creatures. “Bantam” weight is a less-than-full-size creature (like a miniature breed), and Featherweight is very lightweight. (Light as a feather, see?)

A Silkie...

A Silkie…

And out of all these fantabulous portraits, a few did strike me as wonderful:  Silkies (who resemble feather dusters), Polish frizzle (more fantastic fluff balls), and Cochins (who have lush thick feathers on their legs and feet so that they look like they are wearing a pair of trousers). Another one I adored was called the Appenzeller Spitzhaubere which tend to have a great Mohawk feather look on their heads and take me back to the 1980’s…:-) And this one below who looks like someone just come in out of the wind here in Texas…

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Things on Cowboy’s Head – Part Thirteen (Ongoing Project)

Things on Cowboy's Head. No. 13. Package bow.

Things on Cowboy’s Head. No. 13. Package bow.

Background Note: Cowboy, as you know, is one of our cats. She is big and friendly and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She naps a lot. All of which helps with this ongoing project I have going on…

It’s called “Things on Cowboy’s Head” and I am just seeing what I can balance on the top of her head when she’s amenable to that. It’s been fun so far, and she seems quite happy to play along. (She just moves when she doesn’t want to participate.)

(See Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven and Part Twelve.)

Musing on Borders : When does a photo stop being a photo? Or a story being a story?

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As you maybe have picked up, I am quite a serious photographer at times and have work exhibited in art galleries and various locations. What I have noticed is that with more photographers being adept at using Photoshop and other editing software, there’s a point reached where I wonder if a photograph is still a photograph. Handled well, PS and other tools can definitely improve (or at least change) an image – sharpen the edges, increase the contrast, etc., and I am a fan of Photoshop as well. I’m not that much of a Luddite with regard to photographic work, so I was wondering…

At what point does a photo stop being a photo and start being something else – a digitally altered medium, perhaps? There are lots of good (and even great) photographers out there and so I’m curious – in exhibitions and competitive events, should altered and non-altered photographs be judged in the same category? And if not, how does one decide when one becomes the other? Is it something that can be measured or should it be up to the judge or juror’s own discretion? Is it a question of degree and who should decide that? Is the point of a photographic exhibition to judge the camera skills (composition etc.) or to judge the Photoshop skills?

And then, on the flip side, how should the photographers making the edits measure their changes if they had to? Should it be the honor system for artists? (And what to do with artists who don’t follow the rules?) If there were two categories: “Altered Art” and “Unaltered Art” — how much “altering” does it take to cross from one class to the next? Does increasing exposure push your photograph into the same category of a photo that has been altered so much that it looks like media of another kind (not a photo any more)?

If you want to relate it to the literary world, a similar question could be raised for narrative non-fiction/creative non-fiction and straight non-fiction. There’s straight non-fiction where authors report the facts with little extra added and few assumptions made, and then there is the narrative (or creative) non-fiction where perhaps a story is based on an event and the author takes liberties and makes assumptions about what the characters were thinking or feeling even if there is no measure to support that.

So – at what point does a piece of creative non-fiction become fiction? As with the photography, how should this be measured (if it can be measured), who should decide the scale and then who should follow it? Should publishing houses decide the scale or the authors? Should there be a scale in the first place (or continuum) used by academia to determine when a book has crossed the line and how would the standard be held in place? Honor system?

For me, if I choose to read non-fiction, I will expect a strong factually-based document of some kind. I get irked when I am reading what’s supposed to be “non-fiction” and the author starts leaping around making assumptions about how characters “must have felt” when this event happened or after hearing that particular news. “It must have seemed devastating and they would have gone to the neighbor’s house…” Why say that if you’re not sure if it’s true and if you’re categorizing your document as NF? Again, it’s that question of degree.

I don’t know that there is an answer to this, and it might be one of those things that gets sorted out in five years or so when things are not quite so new and fuzzy. I’ll be interested to see what (if anything) happens.

What do you think? When does a photo stop being a photo with regards to digital altering? What pushes a book from non-fiction to fiction (or vice versa)? Can this even be measured in the first place? Should we?

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