IN MINIATURE, BEAUTY

Given “miniature” as a subject … and since, just last week I did a whole series of pictures of tiny carved Native American fetishes, this prompt certainly seems to be begging for more of those pictures. So here they are.

Every piece was hand-carved by an individual. The carvers are all either Navajo, Hopi, or Pueblo … with (I believe) a couple maybe Sioux or Cherokee. I have one carved by a local Wampanaug man who lives on Martha’s Vineyard. He carved it for me and I got to see it emerge from the antler.

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I used to have all the paperwork that told me who had carved which piece, when, and where. I lost all the papers. Not just one … the entire packet. Moreover, having bought these from a lot of different places, often directly from the carvers themselves, I can’t reconstruct the trail.

fetishes ram and bear

I don’t, honestly, care about the provenance, except for wishing I could honor the artists by giving them credit for the work. I just love these beautiful pieces.

Mountain lion, wolf, and a lovely stone horse ... and of course, my favorite dancing bear

Mountain lion, wolf, and a lovely stone horse … and of course, my favorite dancing bear

The Corn Maidens are (mostly) much larger than the animal fetishes, but they vary quite a lot in size.

These are all parts of my modest, but lovely collection of modern carved fetishes. Although some (many) are “old-style,” the oldest of these is no more than 20 years. The materials are wood, alabaster, marble, turquoise, antler, and bone.

Each of these animals and the Corn Maidens have meaning in a ritual or religious context, but none of these have been appropriately blessed. I admire the art, but I would never appropriate someone else’s religion and pretend it was mine.

I have been on the other end of that sometimes. It’s annoying. Sometimes, it’s also pretty funny.

THE DAILY POST | MINIATURE

TWO CARVED BONE FETISHES – RARE

WORDPRESS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: RARE


I believe you can call these rare since they are each a “one-of-a-kind.” The photographs are macros, shot outside in bright sunlight. Both are carved from deer antler. The larger of the two fetishes represents a wolf; the smaller, a badger.

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The wolf stands not quite two inches tall including the base. The badger is approximately an inch. I have never lost my wonder at the amount of detail in these diminutive pieces. Both carvings are by Native American craftsmen.

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I do not have the paperwork they came with. If I could, I would credit the carvers by name. If anyone recognizes the workmanship, please let me know. I believe both of the carvers were Navajo. But I could be remembering wrongly. I bought these more than a decade ago. A lot of life has flowed past since.

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I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

CRAFT SHOWS AND FARMER’S MARKETS IN LA – ELLIN CURLEY

I went to two Craft Shows and a Farmer’s Market when I recently visited my daughter in LA. I go to these events at home in Connecticut as well so I can see some regional differences in style and substance. The first thing that struck me is that unlike Connecticut, the LA Craft Show sold lots of plants.

craft show plants

The most interesting plant related item I saw was something called  LA Urban Farms. They are large, tiered, plastic structures designed to hold shoots of plants and keep them efficiently watered. These shoots will grow into full-fledged fruits, vegetables, flowers or herbs, whatever you choose to plant.

Urban Farm

These gardens not only conserve space and water but they are easier to care for. For those of us in the East, you don’t have to deal with the rocky, poor quality soil in your backyard. Check out LA Urban Farms at http://laurbanfarms.com/.

I noticed at the craft shows that LA is obsessed with their dogs. There were lots of booths devoted solely to dog products, like collars and leashes, dog biscuits and themed chatchkis. What shocked me were the number of booths devoted to dog clothes! They sold hats, shirts and dresses that looked like they were meant for children. At one craft show, I saw someone pushing a specially designed dog stroller for small dogs!

craft show dog photos

craft show dog with hat

I also discovered the world of vegan chocolate. It is delicious! There were several booths devoted to vegan products but this one blew me away. Apparently regular chocolate contains all kinds of chemicals and even wax that act as stabilizers and preservatives. Vegan chocolate is chemical free and only contains pure, basic ingredients. The taste was rich and intense and the texture was smoother and creamier than any chocolate I have ever tasted. I plan to order Vegan chocolates to serve to my friends at home.

vegan chocolates

I went to a Los Angeles Farmer’s Market as well. I was struck by the tables filled with different loose teas and mixed spices. I haven’t seen that much variety and volume on the east coast. The only place I’ve seen that before is on my trips to markets in France.

farm mkt spices

farm mkt teas

The citrus fruits were also stars at the LA market, as expected. The displays were beautiful and bountiful

As were the tables that were overflowing with fresh vegetables like beets and carrots. I particularly loved the table covered with at least 6 baskets of funky mushrooms in all shapes and sizes.

farm mkt mushrooms 2

farm mkt mushrooms

I was intrigued by the variety of food products as well as life styles that were on display at the LA markets and shows. That is one of my favorite things about traveling – getting a glimpse into how other people’s everyday lives differ from mine in my home state.

craft show LA art

URBAN ART – THURSDAY’S SPECIAL (ON SUNDAY)

From Paula:

THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: URBAN ART

You don’t have to wait in lines or purchase tickets to see it. It is out there open to everybody and free and it changes the character of a town or at least some parts of it. It is called urban art and I love it.

Finding urban art in a town like this isn’t easy. We aren’t urban. Not even suburban. More like exurban or downright rural. Still, there is something.

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I’m not sure when this piece was put together. It predates spray paint and graffiti. My guess is it was created around 1888 — the hey day of our town. That was when the Blackstone Valley was the center of New England’s mill and American industry. The river was lined with factories and mills end-to-end.

The river is a lot cleaner without mills, though the town is much smaller than it was at its peak. There’s nothing “urban” about Uxbridge in the 21st century … but it’s a good place to live.

PROFESSIONAL RETIREMENT

I am professionally retired, which means whatever I do — like write or take pictures — is (by definition) a hobby.

“Professional” has a specific meaning. To be a professional anything, you have to earn money at it. The only thing I get paid for these days is not working, which means my profession is retirement.

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Professional equals paycheck. This isn’t a judgment on the quality of anyone’s work, talent, or dedication. No matter how hard or well you labor, if you don’t get paid, you are not a professional.  I’ve had people argue with me about this, but I don’t care. There is a definition for professional. It isn’t a matter of opinion.

A professional is someone who gets paid to do that thing. Even if it’s only a little bit of money, if you never get paid anything, you can’t claim “professional” as your title. Mind you, there’s nothing demeaning about not being a professional. Especially in the arts, the finest creative work is often done by people who can’t earn a living at it. I’m pretty sure Van Gogh never sold a painting.

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Creativity and professionalism are often at odds. I worked my whole life as a professional (commercial) writer. If I had not worked my whole life as a technical writer, I might have written something else. Like a novel or two. Would it have been great art?

Maybe. Maybe not. How would I know? It never happened.

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You can’t write for a living and have anything left at the end of the day to create great works of fiction. You have to choose what you want to be … and be prepared to sacrifice to achieve your goal. I have a passion for writing, but I have a greater passion for a roof over my head and food on the table.

In the past, I got paid to be a writer. Now, writing is a favorite pastime or activity. A hobby. My standards are no less professional than ever. Just — no one pays me for my efforts. Pity. I could use the money.

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Photography is and always has been, a hobby. I’ve been taking pictures nearly as long as I’ve been writing. Except for a very brief stab at wedding photography, it’s been a labor of love. Which translates to “unpaid.”

My foray into professional photography lasted exactly long enough to reinforce my belief that baby pictures and weddings were not my career path. But photography has proven to be the perfect hobby.

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You never outgrow it. You are never too to take pictures. It’s never boring. You can spend a lot of money … or a little bit.

Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, the best equipment in the world will not guarantee excellent pictures, but a good eye will yield great photographs using minimal equipment.

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Meanwhile, used and refurbished equipment offers a viable route to owning quality cameras and lenses on a tight budget.

So in retirement, my previous professional occupation — writing — has become a fun hobby. And my previous fun hobby — photography — is still a fun hobby.

I merely wish professional retirement paid better.

HIS HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN COWBOYS …

LIFE IMITATES ART (OR VICE VERSA) – THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE

His heroes have always been cowboys. Garry loved them all from Randolph Scott, to The Duke. Being in Arizona, the place where so many of his heroes rode the dusty trail to greatness in their classic movies was a special time.

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HIS HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN COWBOYS … AND THEY STILL ARE, IT SEEMS

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THE IRON COWBOY – GARRY ARMSTRONG

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While Marilyn was deep into her favorite sport — shopping — I discovered the iron cowboy. There he was, sitting on the fence.

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Watering his horse. Wizened from the sun, dusty from the desert. Stolid against the perils of the trail, impervious to thirst and heat.

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The rain was closing in and sunset was near. Time to hit the long and dusty trail.