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In The Snow. February 26, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Late winter is frequently a bluster here in the Berkshires, and this past week has proven to be true to form.  Storm upon storm has dumped feet of heavy, wet snow on us, denying us power, heat, light and water, and in cases like mine, even access to our homes; the berm of slop thrown across my driveway by plows plying Route 2 was a yard deep, fifteen feet wide and as heavy as lead.  Plus, there was no place to pull over and try to shovel, with the plows constantly rounding the bend on which I live.

But still, despite a growth of stubble and an unhygienic aire, I found the storms to be cleansing, healing, and beautiful.

A home up in the hills of Cheshire:

A nearby rural lane:

Stone monuments on a knoll above Ashfield Lake:

…and a barn in the farmlands of Shelburne:

I wandered long past dark, waiting for the plowman to come and let me into my driveway.  I got there in time to snap this shot of yet more snow descending from the heavens:

…that last one taken through my windshield.

I love winter, despite its tribulations.

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Ruby Tuesay – A Homestead In The Hills. February 23, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Ruby Tuesday!.
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Another farm, this one stately:

…and their working barn, the nightly resting place of all sorts of farm critters:

…on a greyscale February day, but still having their Ruby on.

Visit Mary over at Work of the Poet for more of The Ruby.

The Amherst Orchid Show. February 21, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Too many shots from today’s outing, without many labels or much context.

But then, orchids are amazing enough to stand alone, and haven’t a need for my ignorant ramblings.

So:

A nice grouping, displaying some of the breadth of the Orchid World:

Another, a thirty-second exposure, with a pot on a slow-moving carrousel:

…and some close-ups:

With a few overviews thrown in to break the monotony:

…and a couple more close-ups to get right into it:

Overall, I was disappointed with my catch; the lighting was somehow both harsh and insubstantial, and the requisite long exposures were adversely affected by the vibrations of constant foot traffic.

Still, a sub-optimal day among orchids beats an excellent day at work.

A Few More From The Museum. February 21, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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The lower floor of the Amherst College Museum of Natural History is festooned with slabs of stone, historical records of How Things Were a hundred million years ago:

The odd lighting is designed to emphasize the subtle undulations of stone surfaces shaped by their environment eons ago, including interference ripples from a clay lake bed:

…and the imprints of those who came here long before us, and preceeded us into the historical record:

Our legacy, as observed from a hundred million years in the future, will likely be that we’re viewed less as a benign phase of existence and more as a cause of the massive extinctions and upheaval which are, on a geological time line, just around the bend.

And so it goes.

If our judges are of a species and mind to forgive us our trespasses on the grounds that we were too stupid to know better, we’ll go down in history as bumbling idiots.

But if there is a God, and if He really expected us to be shepherds of His creation, we’re totally fucked.

A Valentine’s Day Date. February 20, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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This comes late, I know.  But I’ve just recently returned to work, and hitting the road at 5:30AM  is a shock to the system, and some of the want-to’s need to wait ’till I get a chance to do them justice.

Anyway, this past weekend I took Susan to the Amherst College Museum of Natural History.

Talk about a cheap date.  She opted to skip lunch in favor of a chance to see stones and bones.

And of each, there were plenty.  Some bones:

A moose takes advantage of our subjugate perspective to lord it over a present-day elephant’s ass and a much grander mastadon’s curving tusks.

And here’s a wall of prehistoric mammals of various sizes:

That bottom one is a Big Boy, think “rhinoceros on steroids.”

Susan stood in the facing stairs, transfixed, for quite a while:

I’m guessing she was imagining their musculature, she being an Equine Massage Therapist, lost in their thick, coarse fur, waist deep in the grasses of a long lost veldt.

We marveled at the fossil record of a feathered Archeopteryx:

…Some long-gone fishies:

…and the rapacious maw of a Tyranosaurus Rex:

Susan was pleased:

Tomorrow we’re off to the Amherst Orchid Show, inexplicably staged in Northampton.

Film at 11.

It Has Come To My Attention… February 18, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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…that Crooks and Liars had a link to my humble site today.

Really.

Now if you came here from Crooks and Liars, I’m thinkin’ you’re more interested in politics and social matters than in my humble attempts at photography.

If that’s the case, you can click on the “Politics and Society” category in the right sidebar, or just click this link.

I’ve written a lot less about these issues in the last year, since my understanding of it expanded to the point where I see it all as being connected.  I can’t talk about the Supreme Court without talking about corporate hegemony.  I can’t talk about Islamic fundamentalists without talking about the killings of abortion providers in this country and the rise of Christian fundamentalism.  I can’t talk about health care reform without talking about campaign finance reform.  It’s all connected, and I just can’t seem to find a starting or ending point.

But I’m workin’ on it.  A couple of recent encounters with Tea Baggers have me pissed off enough to work through my personal limitations and get back into the fray.

I mean, I’ve got kids, you know?  And they deserve more from me than a retreat into the comfort of my private life.

It ain’t a pretty job, but somebody’s got to do it.

In fact, we all have to do it.  We don’t have to do it better than our gaggle of e-cquaintances, we don’t have to do it better than our Meat-World friends,

we just have to do it.

Wish me luck, and I’ll do the same for you.

Thanks for stopping by.  Your visits fuel my process.

And a special H/T to my Siamese Cousin Bob for tipping me off about the link.

Ice Islands. February 16, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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In this case, in Pelham Brook in Charlemont:

A frozen river with a tint of Spring!

Ruby Tuesday: Reflections On My Country. February 15, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society, Ruby Tuesday!.
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I’m an old fart.

I was reared as a God-fearing American, a uniform-wearing Boy Scout, an “A” student.

But that was then, and this is now, and over the intervening decades I’ve come to understand things differently, to view history with a skeptical eye.  I’m no longer willing to give a “pass” to the actions of my government when such actions are in contravention to the tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, nor to defend it when it acts outside of international law.

On a recent trip through New Hampshire, I snapped this photo in the little town of Wentworth:

…with obvious Ruby relevance.

But the relative geometry of the shot raised questions in my mind.  What was the moral hierarchy in this scene, a public expression of purpose and passions in the quiet hills where people “Live Free or Die?” Was it the dominance of our military might?  Was it the iconography of our religious institutions?

Or was it the half-mast manifestation of the hell and havoc wrought by our hegemony, and the loss of life which is the inevitable outcome of our actions?

This scene inspired me to ask that question.

Sorry to not be the usual Ruby Tuesday fare, but it’s  the reddest thing I have.

For lighter renditions of a Ruby Tuesday (and there are many,) visit Mary over at Work of the Poet.

And have a good night.

Ralph

This Evening, At Sunset. February 11, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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This evening, in the hill town of Plainfield, a farm wagon waits for spring:

I found it jaunty in a hopeful, forward-looking way.

Namaste.

On Ice. February 10, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in climbing, Love and Death.
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Last weekend was the Mount Washington Valley Ice Festival, a great excuse for ice climbers from throughout the Northeast to get together and socialize, attend slide shows by well traveled professionals (this year, Steve House who is, besides being very entertaining, a climber of extraordinary ability and admirable humility,) and perhaps even climb a bit.

This year also marked my return to some measure of climbing after a couple of years away from it, due to an absolutely total lack of rotator cuffs and a failed surgical attempt to remedy that situation.

My shoulders are, in fact, junk.  They say I’m lucky to be able to comb my non-existent hair, but you know, the dysfunctional combination of my passion for climbing and the fact that I’m a wicked slow learner found me strapping on crampons and ice axes along side the guides and students at Cathedral Ledge this past Saturday afternoon.

Our friend Chris lead up what should have been easy terrain for experienced climbers:

That’s close to thirty feet of what passes for vertical ice up at the top, and it was exciting watching Chris take it on, especially because he didn’t bother to place any ice screws ’till about where he is in this photo, and a fall at that point would have been disastrous.

But Chris is a strong young man and kept his cool, finishing the climb without incident:

Both Lizz and I worked our tails off in our attempts to follow.  I’ll admit to employing 35 years of experience to get up the thing in relatively good style, no thanks to my non-compliant shoulders.

This is a far cry from the “good ol’ days,” say ten years ago, when I climbed Repentance,  an area test-piece which is exceptionally thick in this photo taken Saturday:

That’s nearly 400′ of thin, vertical ice choking a crack system, with a couple of red-clad climbers visible about 300′ up.  In case you can’t see them in this little photo, here’s a telephoto shot, courtesy of my little Canon point-and-shoot:

This is considered to be exceptionally “thick” conditions, and therefore “easy,” compared to the shape it was in when I did it.

This weekend convinced me that I’m not done, not gone by, not ready for a rocking chair.  I’ve procured a gym membership and am working my way back.  I’m going to climb Repentance again, or perhaps Remission,  its more difficult twin a little to its right, which had been on my wish list for decades.

Yes, Remission will do.   It’s back on my list.

With or without my damned shoulders.