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Lincoln Meets Jesus. October 31, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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We’re living through interesting times.

And they’re interesting in a huge variety of ways.  Science keeps turning pages in the Book of New Knowledge, and our Universe evolves into an ever greater mystery as we unlock its secrets.  Astrophysicists look back in time and see our Big House as it was many billions of years ago.  Biologists peer so deeply inside us that they see the micro-chemistry of our thoughts and emotions.  Engineers create things so tiny they’re invisible, yet so powerful they promise to change our conception of the possible.

And society is changing too.  The Middle East is evolving at a High-Speed-Internet rate.  Our Middle Class is collapsing into the fetid pile of the poor, their hands groping upward and grasping at our anxious ankles.

Meanwhile, God has blessed These United Stated so that we, the aggregate “we,”  are richer now than we’ve ever been.

So.  Do you  feel rich?

I know I don’t.  I feel used.  I feel taken for a ride.  I feel like Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand has been yanking my crank for lo these many years.  I feel like most acts of kindness I’ve conjured over my lifetime have been ignored by Karma, with every extra effort enriching someone else.

I feel a lot like the Occupy  people, except that I have financial obligations which keep me chained to the wheel, going endlessly around, pulverizing the dwindling days of my life into a protein-rich gruel for The Beast of Corporate Profits.  I’m dutifully going to work for The Man, while the Occupy  folks carry my blood and water to the forefront of our Nation’s consciousness.

The whole thing reminds me of a line from President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address:

“It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces…”

And there it is – the World’s Most Popular Republican talking about slavery, and therein stating a seemingly timeless truth: some  of us expect to profit from the efforts of the rest of us.

It seems wrong on its face, yet it’s ever been that way.

Jesus of Nazareth, the oft-referenced hero of the Radical Right, railed against the making  of personal wealth by the handling  of other people’s money.  As far as I recall, the only time the Man of Peace “went postal” was when he threw the Money-Changers [read: brokers/traders/short-sellers] out of the Temple [read: Wall Street, our current Altar of Avarice.]  And if that wasn’t explicit enough, he went on to proclaim that a camel would pass through the eye of a needle before a rich man passed through the gates of Heaven.

So much for the Mega-Churches which preach that God wants you to be wealthy.  It’s total Fundamentalist Bullshit.

So, how does this relate to our present situation?

Well, we have skads of rich fucks claiming that they deserve  to be rich because they’re better  than you and me, because they’re smarter  than you and me, because the work harder  than you and me.

And I’m here to tell you that that’s MORE BULLSHIT.

I daily watch working folks go home and care for their failing parents, and nobody  is better than that.

I daily watch working folks navigate the rigged-to-fail mazes of their every day lives, and nobody  is smarter than that.

I daily watch working folks operate jack-hammers, and nobody  works harder than that.


Not the Filthy Rich, nobody.

And I think it’s time we all stand up and say so.  I think it’s time we all write our political representatives and DEMAND that THEY say so.  I think it’s time that we all get behind the Occupy movement, with our words and our feet and our dollars, and SAY SO.

This is our  time,  just as it’s the time of the people of Tunisia and Egypt and every other place which demands social and economic justice.

Lincoln wasn’t wrong, Jesus wasn’t wrong, and We The People aren’t wrong either.

The only thing Evil needs to succeed in this world is for Good People to do nothing.

Do  something.  Rise up.  Speak out.

Your children deserve at least that.

An October Surprise. October 30, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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So, we got the predicted foot.  It’s just making a cameo appearance to promote its upcoming epic story, “Winter!”

It’s nice to look at, but like cement to move:

…and this happened without losing power!  That was a big relief, it makes everything so much harder.

This snow won’t last, sitting between unfrozen ground and above-freezing air.  It is  October, after all.

My back lasted almost as long as the shoveling job, then I grabbed my kit and headed for the hills.

Up in Florida (!) I found some oak leaves standing up and taking notice of the change in the weather:

The driveway shot, by the way, was with Ziggy, who usually does my macros; the oak leaves are Elliot’s dirty work.

But the days are so short this time of year that by the time I got to Hawley the sun was sinking low, and the few maple leaves that had survived the snow were picking up some color:

…and I had miles to go, dinner to cook and a hungry wood stove to feed before I slept, so I booked.

I hope you all survived your weekend as well.

See you sooner.

An Update, While I Can. October 29, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Well, our Odd Year continues, with snow in October.  Not that we never had that before, but it’s pretty rare – the last significant October snowfall I recall was back in 1987, when our first daughter was two months old.  Pagan Sphinx and I were living in Great Barrington, MA when a whopper Nor’Easter hit, dropping thousands of trees which still had their leaves, and as many pines which couldn’t rely on the stability afforded by frozen ground.  We had something like ten days without power, no heat or refrigeration or running water, and no way to get anywhere – the roads were mazes of downed trees, live wires and stranded vehicles.  That kinda sucked, though we all survived it.

And here we go again.  Overnight our local area is expecting something like a foot of wet, heavy snow, and we still have plenty of trees with their leaves on.  Power outages are spreading as I type this, so I’ll keep it succinct in case I lose power.  We have about ten inches in the driveway, the roads are nearly impassable, and my sweetie Susan and her cats have already lost power.  This has the potential to get ugly.

This past Thursday afternoon and evening fired a warning shot across our collective bows, with a smaller storm to get us prepared for this larger one (you should have seen the lines at the tire stores!)  And I got a few shots of it.

Here’s your typical Autumn maple leaf:

…in an atypical setting:

(different leaves, same shoot)

…in an unusual juxtaposition of autumn and winter:

The road in the valley cleft down left of center is Route 2, the Mohawk Trail, my current job site.  It’s a real mess, closed since Irene blew through, and is a hub of activity, with many work crews aiming at getting this stretch of road open before winter.

And no, we weren’t counting on this series of storms, so we may be set back a bit in our efforts, but we’ll make it happen.

My next post (if I don’t lose power and internet access) will be of the mayhem wrought by Saturday night’s Big Snow.  It’ll be pretty, if the predicted winds lag significantly behind sunrise.  Otherwise, it will be only interesting, and a good bit sloppy.

Photos tomorrow, In Sh’Allah.

B-Team Mug Shots. October 26, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Here’s a slightly sorry line-up of Usual Suspects who didn’t quite make the cut – photos which have sat around long enough on my desktop so that it’s time to either use ’em or lose ’em.  They’re not my best work, but just as we Plain Folk deserve to find happiness, these photos ought to be seen before being recycled.

A riverside granite outcrop in NH:

Wet Paint taken not far from there:

That NH She-moose in a casual moment of herbaceous bliss:

And another framing of North Pond in Savoy:

There.  Now I can clear these stragglers off of my desktop without feeling like I abandoned my children without acknowledging them.


Morning, Hereabouts. October 25, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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On the way to work today, I snagged a quick shot of the sun threatening to rise over the Deerfield river valley:

If you’ve been watching this site for a while, this shot will bore you – I’ve taken dozens of such photos from near here, but somehow the sight just keeps me snapping away, past shots be damned.

Later this week we’re anticipating our first snow, which will again transform our landscape into something magical.

I can’t wait!


The World, In Retreat. October 24, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Ah, the lushness of summer.  The fulsome green of the lawn springing back at every step, the torpid afternoons in a slow motion quest for shade.

And then, the crisp morning air and predictably ridiculous colors of autumn, sharp and fresh and visually alive like no other season of the year.

And now, this:

The leaves have largely taken flight, carpeting the ground and gutters and back roads with their faded forms, the yellows and reds resolving into ochers, self-composting into a faintly fetid film of veins and edges and visions of their past glory.

And the farms, the fields, the fertile lands, draining the suppleness from their delicate parts, stiffening, transforming their white noise rustle into a rattle of resistance and, finally, accepting that they are to return to the earth, become carbon and nitrogen and a part of next season’s promise.

The broad leaves of corn husks surrender to the season, opening wide to reveal their porcelain offering to The Next Time, when the moist soil and insistent sun will call them to do it all again:

[Elliot surprised me here with a twist of his eye and an unanticipated eight degrees of swing, planting his plane of sharp focus down along this deserving cornrow.

Nice job, Kid.]

Help, Please. October 24, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Uncategorized.
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There used to be a feature on my WordPress “dashboard” which notified me when one of my posts was linked, but WP shuffled stuff around, but now that feature is gone!

This bums me out; if I get linked (which I occasionally do) it would be nice to know – I’m not in the habit of intentionally ignoring people who are referring to me or my photography, be it for praise or criticism.

If anyone knows how to get that feature to work, I’d love to know.


Under Threatening Skies. October 23, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Politics and Society.
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Saturday’s Errand Gone Wild  found me driving through the fertile plains of Hadley and Sunderland, long famous for producing some of the finest broad-leaf tobacco on the planet, coveted for use as wrappers on expensive cigars.  While a whole lot less of that crop is produced here now days, there’s still some production, though it seems to vary from year to year.  This year, this particular field didn’t get a tobacco crop, but it looked interesting to me under tumultuous skies:

I took that from the roof of my vehicle, hand-holding two crossed graduated filters as I held my breath, as though that detail might negate the effects of a buffeting wind.

The clouds at left were piling in like they intended to unleash a torrent on me and Elliot, and as I turned to appraise the situation, this shot was framed in my mind, and shot in situ:

Elliot pulled both of these shots off commendably, even though I was rushing like crazy to avoid the impending deluge.

But the deluge never materialized; instead, I got to drive up Mt. Sugarloaf and snag this photo of the spottily-illuminated valley below:

Taken from Deerfield, looking into Sunderland across the Connecticut river.  I had hoped for more color, but autumn wasn’t its usual vibrant self this year.

At least the end-of-day light was nice.

Sunderland, MA. October 22, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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A Saturday morning errand in Hadley turned into a circuitous ride home through North Hadley and into Sunderland, and a pre-planned, productive day devolved into a swivel-headed odyssey in search of Beauty.

I hate  it when that happens.

But happen it did, and nothing got crossed off my “to do” list.  Instead I mudded around on farm roads, keeping an eye out for folks who might own the place and appreciate me asking if they minded.  [As kind of an aside, people almost never mind me photographing their places, but they always  mind me not asking.  Ask, and you shall receive permission.]

I pulled off a side road at a gone-by field of asparagus, liking the low light and the threatening skies, and ran into the owner.  Ed not only pointed me toward a particularly photogenic part of his property, but offered me as much butternut squash as I wanted.  It was sitting in a wooden crate and not going anywhere soon enough to pay him for the trouble.  I accepted his offer with heartfelt thanks.  [That’s how asking permission works.  ;)]

His asparagus fields had taken on that golden hue which autumn brings them:

I liked that view of the barn, and this one of an impudent Jimson weed bearing its strangely spiny “fruit” amidst the asparagus:

These seed pods give it the moniker “Spiny apple,” but they’re not at all apple-like.  It’s incredibly toxic stuff, damaging livestock which eat it and people who think its vaunted hallucinogenic properties are worth that damage.

I continued north as clouds massed threateningly, heading toward Mt. Sugarloaf.  It was across the river in Deerfield, but very much dominated the scene in Sunderland:

These three are Elliot’s work; he likes the planar places.

More from Sunderland soon.

A Big Disappointment. October 21, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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I saw these pumpkins on a doorstep in Deerfield recently, and as they were waist-high to me and looked way  too big to bake or carve, I stopped and pulled out my photobox:

The homeowner came out as I was skulking up and down the street and lamented that this year had been pretty abysmal – his best efforts (displayed here) were only around 800 lbs,  as contrasted with last year’s crop which topped out around thirteen hundred pounds.

As disappointments go, I’d have to classify that as big.   😉

Note to self:  Go back there next year.  Not every year sucks this hard!