Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day remembrance: In Flanders Fields

From American History, Smithsonian Institute.
In Flanders Fields. The poem, written by World War I Canadian Army surgeon John McCrae, provided a vivid image of sacrifice. Corn poppies flourish in disturbed soils; they bloomed by the millions among the splintered trees, tangles of barbed wire, ruined corpses, shell holes, and trenches lacerating the battlefields of Europe. These tiny scarlet blooms, seemingly stained by the blood-soaked soil, gave hope that something beautiful could arise from the cruelty and violence. Since 1921, the corn poppy has been a symbol that we shall remember them.

Poem In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

A Visual Journal

The Creative Photographer book I've been using as a workbook/inspiration/sumptuous feast book has yielded up another tip that I decided to follow. Keeping a visual journal.

I know, I know, I've blogged several times about how I'm a failure at persisting with any sort of journaling at all. It is true, I don't write down my feelings and dreams and all that crap stuff. I also don't re-read anything I've written. For a while I even had a photography blog as an online visual journal, but along with my other two blogs I soon gave it up as too much work. Now there's Pinterest...

But a visual journal instead is just that- visual without words. One pastes into a blank journal either one's own photos or pictures from magazines etc that we like or want to try or in some way connect with. Over time one begins to see what a person likes, what subjects are gravitated to, colors, composition, subject etc.

On Facebook, which is one big photo album, let's be honest, I see over time one wife who posts herself and her kids but never her husband. Over time, looking at lots of photos I see another person likes to take photos of landscapes and rarely photographs people. In another example where a DVD slide show was made as a gift, someone remarked, "Gee, there are a lot of photos of her and me together". I noticed that too.

If I can see patterns and trends in other people's pics, then what would I be able to learn about myself if I consistently placed photos of interest into my journal over time and then looked at them all at once?

My next task was to obtain a journal. I browsed Amazon but the artist's sketch journals were too expensive. Then I though, hey, check my OWN shelves to see what would suit. I spent years making blank journals and I have certainly not used them or or given them all away yet. So, I found this:

Believe it or not, this was originally a placemat. Now it is the cover of a large-sized soft cover journal I'd made out of it. I found it at the Lubec Maine Annual Fourth of July Historical Society Yard Sale 12 years ago! Here it is unfolded-

Here's the inside:

The fact that the cover is cloth will allow me to be able to close the journal after I've glued lots of pics inside. Spine size won't be that much of a problem. The page size allows for gluing several photos on one page. And the fact that I made it and already owned it meant I didn't have to spend money on getting a new one!

Now all I have to do is remember to print out pics I like, and buy more ink for the printer.

Another idea I implemented from the Photography Book that turned out to be a success was a combination of two ideas. I learned about the 2 inch insta-printers one can plug into your camera or phone and the zero-ink technology allows for cute little pics to be printed on the spot. The other idea was to make a display of photos, printing and laminating them and then hanging.

The author reminded us old folks how fun the Polarioid pictures were. We had an instant reminder of the fun and a permanent souvenir. The author said a zero-ink ("ZINK") insta-printer is especially fun for kids' birthday parties, the children love to see their pics right away. No one prints out pictures anymore. They stay in the camera or on the laptop or in the phone. So I decided as a gift to print out all the pics I could find on her Facebook page in 2" format, laminate them, and put them in a little box with a quote about memories on the top. It was pleasantly received. It didn't take too long to do and I think I will do it again sometime.

So far the book The Creative Photographer by Catherine Anderson has proved to be very useful and informative!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

A charming find at the second hand store

On the way home from school yesterday, the last day of school I might add, I decided to stop at the Second Time Around store. This is one of these stores where you can buy anything from kitty litter to a lawnmower to a vintage Swedish poetry book- in Swedish. You never know what they'll have. Which is why I like the store, an endlessly entertaining and thrilling inventory.

I try not to stop there too often, I really don't have a lot of extra money to be throwing away. But the occasional under $10 spending spree is sometimes necessary to maintain sanity.

I found some terrific treasures! Five sharp knives for $2, and knives were something I'd needed. Anthony Bourdain's seminal book, Kitchen Confidential, for 50 cents. Hey, can't go wrong with that. A small purse for $1, and it was clean. A vintage hard cover Methodist Hymnal for $1. I plan to use the pages for collage etc.

And this: a vintage Kodak Vigilant Six-20 collapsible camera, complete with instruction manual and surprise ephemera! It was $4. Wow.

The Kodak Vigilant Six-20 medium format camera was manufactured between 1939-1949 and originally sold for US $38 (about US $642 in 2016). There were several variations of shutter/lens combinations probably due to the war and scarce materials, and also that the technology at that time was rapidly advancing. My particular version with the Dakon lens was manufactured between 1946-1948.

My father had given me my first camera, a 1930's Olympus. I am sorry I got rid of it, or rather, I don't know what happened to it. I was fond of that ole camera. These are the first two photos I took with it:

I also owned at one time a Russian Lomo camera, which I loved. I gave that one away. I do like old cameras.

My Kodak isn't rare so it is not worth much money, I looked that up. I just like the vintage look, the heft and weight, the ephemera, and the charm of finding a magnificent machine like this at a second hand store next to the hammers. Here is the Kodak I found yesterday, pretty cool:

The ephemera I mentioned. The pouch the Vigilant came in also held these, a guide to taking snapshots under different conditions, the manual, and a ticket to the photo-sub.

The photo-sub at Silver Springs is a Florida attraction and has been designated a historical landmark. It was founded in 1852 alongside the clear artesian waters springing up from the waters under Marion County FL. In this HuffPo article from 2013, we learn that
Just east of Ocala, Silver Springs is one of the world’s largest artesian springs, gushing up to 550 million gallons of clear water to form the Silver River, a 4½-mile shorty that feeds the Ocklawaha River and eventually the St. Johns. Glass-bottom boats were invented and launched here in the 1870s, and in the 1920s a pair of developers created what became the theme park — and what many call Florida’s first tourist attraction. Animal exhibits, rides and a water park joined the glass-bottom boats, from which visitors still eye fish and fossils beneath the surface, and turtles, alligators and myriad birds above it.
The photo-sub to which the ticket refers was another attraction developed for the pleasure of shutter bug tourists. From this 1956 magazine touting the Springs,

Adapted for taking moving pictures, the "photo-sub" has a well in the forward section. Glass windows in the well permit the photographer to follow the movements of swimmers, and to portray, with fidelity, the great variety of underwater life in Silver Springs.
And here is the photo-sub. You see out one of the portholes, one of the swimmers had approached right up close, giving the photo-riders a great photo-opp.

The little trip down nostalgia lane sparked by the discovery of the Vigilant Kodak was fun. I learned a lot about cameras and lenses of that period as well as the history of the Silver Springs attraction. Second hand never know what you'll find!

One reason I love summer

Summer is a time of celebration, and there are a lot of celebrations joyously occurring this summer among my friends.

Three teachers from school are getting married this summer, one of them today! She is a young woman and this day is the very day she has been dreaming about since she was a girl. Another has suffered the grief of widowhood but by the Lord's grace, after a time, has found love again.

A friend of mine is graduating. She graduated high school last night and her celebratory party is today. She has her life in front of her and plans to attend college after one year of working. Her family surrounds her and celebrates her achievement and  the hope of her life promise.

Other friends are headed to various vacations - the beach, the mountains, family reunions. I love summer for families who make memories. They last.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Apparently I have healthy eyes

I've gotten a couple ideas for some blog essays here at The Quiet Life. I think you'll like them. I'll be writing them in these first weeks of the summer. I know for sure my life will be very quiet! Plenty of time to write.

I got new glasses frames and inside the frames are new prescription. It had been ten years since I had them checked and reading had become a little dicey as my eyes would not focus to see the words with my old glasses on or off.

The Eye Doc said I have really healthy eyes. Go figure. One problem was my glasses had slipped and I was looking out the wrong part of the bifocal. Adjusting the nose pads fixed that. My eyes have changed prescription, it's been ten years after all, he said. But nothing abnormal nor anything to indicate any disease, which I had been hypochondriac-ally imagining the worst. I was mentally in a hospice already. So, good news. He also said my right eye has an issue seriously reacting to allergies. I hadn't known that. Go figure.

I'm always happier before I go to the Doctor and I dwell in ignorant bliss. I made that remark to Tracey & said also the time I went to the X-Ray guy after I fell in school and the Doc said did you know you have a lot of arthritis in my knee and I said "NOO, sheesh". And the other lady buying glasses who was also my age burst out laughing. Sistas in infirm golden years. We had a moment.

The lenses were expensive, even after I had the nurse X out all the extras on her list with the prices next to them. No to compressed. No to progressive bifocal. No to transitional. No to everything except a Coke bottle glass fitted on there with duct tape. But the frames were free. My friend helped me pick them out. I didn't even look, I'd had enough by then. So, it will be a surprise when they come in.

Anyway, new glasses should be in next week. Just in time to read the stack of books I have on the coffee table.

Today I finished packing the classroom. My half of it anyway. My classroom is packed up tight, as are most of the rest of the classrooms in my school. The halls are filled with upturned furniture temporarily stored there while the custodian crew clean the walls and the floors in the eerily empty classrooms.

Tomorrow we have one final meeting, then a retirement picnic for the three retirees who will be leaving us, then our summer begins. Nine weeks of glorious hermitage. I even did my grocery shopping today so tomorrow all I have to do is come home and BASK. is a magnolia flower. They're blooming on the tree out in the front yard. White velvet with dewdrops, ahhhh.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

School is almost out

In Georgia, school starts in early August and if we're lucky, gets out before Memorial Day weekend. I have only another half day with the kids and then the rest of this week is post-planning. I'll break down my room and pack, we have meetings, and Friday a lunch for three staff members who are retiring.

We start up again next August 1. In between, I have 9 weeks of hermit-y bliss to look forward to. And who wouldn't want to be in this cute apartment all the time? Look at it, just look at it!

Studying and writing in my sweet little kitchen

Cat snoozing in the comfy chair, where I sit at night and read.

Wonderful naps in the afternoon

Surrounded by all the things I love

Early morning coffee on the patio, watching and listening to the birds

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I'm welcoming a new art piece into the house

Art tells your home's visitors something about you. It reveals your aesthetic, your preferences, and your style. I love art. I have a lot of it. This is because I grew up with a lot of it, and for that I've always been grateful.

Some of the art I have hung in my apartment is mine that I created or photographed and then hung. One photo is of a favorite vacation spot I used to frequent.

Other art I have is first edition art given to me by the artist. I also have a small watercolor from a local artist. Others were not gifts but I acquired myself.

I acquired my first art piece at approximately age 8. I spotted a bucolic, unframed but matted photo that looked unlike any other photo I'd yet seen. It turned out to be a hand-tinted photo from the early part of the 20th century by well-known colorist Fred Thompson. It was among other items lying on the floor of a white elephant church jumble sale, and I bought it right away. Hand tinting photographs was a fad at the turn of the last century. When I look at it I feel relaxed.

A few weeks ago I saw a new painting at an antique/vintage store in town. It is a large sized painting, 43" wide by 33" high. It depicted a rural scene on a Sunday of a well-dressed group, likely a family, walking up the lane to church. I was charmed by the content and I liked the quality of the frame and matting. It is called Sunday Morning in Sleepy Hollow, and it's by Jennie Brownscombe. The piece is a hand colored engraving on paper by Brownscombe, a Pennsylvania Artist  who lived from 1850-1930. The painting is done on an Engraving by James King, and it's published by Washington Irving.
Jennie Augusta Brownscombe (December 10, 1850 – August 5, 1936) was an American painter, designer, etcher, commercial artist and illustrator. Brownscombe studied art for years in the United States and in Paris. She was a founding member, student and teacher at the Art Students League of New York. She made genre paintings, including revolutionary and colonial American history, most notably The First Thanksgiving held at Pilgrim Hall in Plymouth, Massachusetts. She sold the reproduction rights to more than 100 paintings, and images of her work have appeared on prints, calendars and greeting cards. Her works are in many public collections and museums. In 1899 she was described by New York World as "one of America's best artists." (Source)
Brownscombe's works hang in the Smithsonian, among other places throughout America.

It was a good sized piece, and I'd been wanting a larger one. There are several paintings in my living room I adore. I've had a poster copy of Childe Hassam's impressionist painting, Boston Common at Sunset, for a looooong time, and I've enjoyed looking at it for just as long.  Here it is from the Museum of Fine Arts Boston:

This is the art from Brownscombe that I'd found in a vintage store. It fits very well into the corner and I love it:

I'm surrounded by pretty art, at least, it's art I love. What could be better?

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

My morning commute

It's brutal. The traffic, man.

That car is too close. Sheesh.

Sunrise over the pastures, brutally ugly.

The horrific development of the county is changing the face of everything. Such a shame.

Sunlight dancing over the hay rolls, an assault on the eyes. I try not to look.

Dew on the rolling hills, sun rising over the tree stands. It makes the commute interminable.

I go through this every day!