THE CHANGING SEASONS – AN UNUSUAL JANUARY

The Changing Seasons: January 2017


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It’s a new year. The last one zipped by in hyperdrive. A year ago today, we had just returned from Arizona. This year,  no such luck … but it has been a surprisingly warm month. Just one snow of any measurable amount. Other few little snows have not rated being shoveled, much less plowed.180-sunset-aldrich-st-210117_03

I really wanted to do just one picture this time, but the variability of the weather has made that difficult. We have been alternating springlike warm weather with deep winter cold and snow, often in as short an interval as 12 hours.

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«The Changing Seasons 2017» is a blogging challenge with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the newer version (V2) where you can be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month.

Anyone with a blog can join this challenge and it’ll run throughout 2017. It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t join the first month(s), late-comers are welcomed.

These are the rules (want the full introduction? Click Here), but they’re not written in stone – you can always improvise, mix & match to suit your own liking.


The great Cardinal Guzman sponsors this challenge and it is my favorite. He is a wonderfully gifted and imaginative photographer. Whether or not you decide to participate, please visit and look at his amazing photography. You’ll be glad you did!

The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.

The Changing Seasons is a Monthly Photo Challenge started by CardinalGuzman.wordpress.com.

INCONVENIENTLY DOOMED TO DIE

Siberian Tiger Français : Tigre de sibérie Ita...

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I continue to hope that we will come to our senses and save our wild creatures. That being said, I have serious doubts that anything larger than a squirrel will survive in the wild.

I believe that all Earth’s large animals are doomed in their native habitats. Some  will be gone soon. We will see the last of them in our lifetime.  The remaining species will succumb eventually. Tigers, wolves, lions, jaguars — all the big cats — as well as other large land animals, like elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, apes and most monkeys and many more will no longer have a home on this planet.

There will be no wild places.

Humans will, for a while, maintain controlled populations of various species in zoos and special habitats, as if that could make up for their disappearance. As if warehousing is the same as having a wild kingdom. We’ll see the end of tigers and elephants in less than a decade. It’s possible the rhinoceroses are already gone. If wolves are removed from endangered species status, they will be hunted to extinction in no time flat.

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Want to know why? Really? It isn’t the long complicated explanation you will get from environmentalists or public talking heads. Let’s skip past statistical analyses and the convoluted nonsense spouted by government officials and corporate stooges.

It’s simpler than that.

The animals will disappear because they are in our way. Animals don’t fit with human civilization. They are untidy. They eat cattle, goats, chickens, sheep. They trample fields, demolish gardens. They take up space that could be more profitably used for shopping malls and suburban subdivisions. They are more valuable dead than alive — and ever so much fun to kill.


Predators and large animals are inconvenient.


When humans finds something — anything — inconvenient, we eliminate it. Kill it. Demolish it. Whether it’s a species, a river, or a mountain. If it’s in our way, we make it disappear.

There’s a moral to the story. We should all take care because we can be eliminated too. If we don’t watch our step, we will eliminate ourselves.

Lions and tigers and bears? Bye bye.

P.S. If you think I’m exaggerating, please check out the Durell Wildlife Foundation, which is one of many organizations desperately trying to save what is left of our wild creatures. Durrell is my favorite, probably because Gerald Durrell who founded it was the writer whose work first got me interested in wildlife and saving it.

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR … ALMOST …

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: It’s Not This Time of Year Without …


It’s can’t be almost winter without hysterical predictions of apocalyptic weather on the nightly news. As a rule, these predictions amount to either nothing or at most, a dusting. The ones they do not predict, when they say one to three inches, watch out. Because a blizzard is about to bury you to your chin …

Welcome to “that time of year” in New England!

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I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

WHY I LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY

I got my first camera when I was 22. I’m not counting the Brownie camera I inherited from someone when I was a kid. It had a lens that I think was made from the bottom of coke bottle, but was not as sharp. My father took a lot of pictures, all of them awful. My mother painted, but I never saw her pick up a camera. In those days, cameras were either very expensive or junk. Typical, middle class families didn’t usually have “real” cameras, but everyone had a Brownie box camera. The quality of which might be okay or horrible, depending on luck of the draw.

96-Me Young in MaineI had a friend who was a photographer. He even went to a real photography school. I got interested in pictures. Started looking at books of photography. I learned how to process film (though I never learned to like the chemicals) and make prints in a dark room. As I was about to leave on my first vacation to Martha’s Vineyard — before it was “the hot” destination it later became — my friend gave me a camera.

By Dnalor 01 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 at, Photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42486209

By Dnalor 01 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 at photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/

It was an old Praktica with an f2.8 Zeiss lens. No automatic anything. Manual film loading. No light meter. There were three settings: film speed (now ISO), shutter speed, and f-stop. Since the lens was a fixed focal length, telephoto meant running forward for a closeup, and back the other way for a wide-angle view. Agility and speed counted, especially because focusing was manual too.

That trip to Martha’s Vineyard with that first of many 35mm cameras was the beginning of everything. You can read more about it on ALFRED EISENSTADT AND ME.

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I’m amazed my pictures came out at all. But they did. Not only did they come out, they came out amazingly well. From that point on, I was hooked. Throughout the 48 years since then, I’ve stayed hooked on photography. I have a decent eye for casual portraits and landscapes. I’m getting better at other things and modern equipment makes experimenting with various types of pictures easy. Which is good because running back and forth would not work for me these days.

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Even relatively cheap modern cameras have more technology packed in them then the most expensive cameras had “back in the day.” The only thing that has not changed and cannot change (because there are physical laws that apply) are optics. Lenses. Glass. There are properties attached to a lens that are immutable. Optics are. You can’t negotiate them. They are a physical fact.

No camera, no matter how advanced, will ever be better than the lens through which you take the picture. That’s why your phone is not as good as a real camera with a good lens.

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It doesn’t have anything to do with software or any of the bells and whistles modern photographic technology tries to sell you. Bottom line, it’s all about the lens. If you have a good eye and a sharp lens, you’re in business.

I work at photography, but mostly, I play at it. It’s fun. I know many photographers who are better than me. Some of them are not merely a little bit better, but a lot better. I am awestruck by the work they do. Most of them have far better technical skills than me and frequently, better equipment than I can ever hope to afford.

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But I really love taking pictures. Photography has been my hobby my entire adult life. It has saved my sanity when everything else in my life was going horribly wrong.

Of all the hobbies I can think of, it’s the only one for which you will never grow too old. It never gets boring. You can take it with you wherever you go. These days, you can share your pictures with the entire world online. It gives you a reason to get out of the house when you ordinarily wouldn’t bother. It’s a way to be creative without needing a special room or expensive equipment. Because even if all you have is a cell phone, you can always take pictures. A good eye can overcome mediocre technology … and no amount of great equipment or software can make up for a poor eye.

So grab your camera. Go forth and take pictures!

TIME AFTER TIME: INDIAN SUMMER IN OUR VALLEY – GARRY ARMSTRONG

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Past and future – on a bicycle …

The bicycle thief? Just a fleeting thought as a man peddles by. A brief interlude in busy traffic on this street. He’s caught in a time warp, sandwiched between murals of traffic on the same street. Another century, another warm November day, perhaps a more innocent time.

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It’s a day to suspend angst over the state of our nation. Mother Nature gives us a reason to smile, to laugh, to enjoy the bounty of our beautiful valley.

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The air around the dam is sweet. So sweet you almost want to reach down and cup your hands for a taste of the water that shimmers in energy and grace.

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The water level is a good sign. Especially good when you consider droughts in other parts of the country.

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The dam and the surrounding acreage are gifts from others. People who had the foresight and courage to plan for the future against the heavy-handed politics of their peers who sought quick benefits from the land.

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Sometimes we complain that long time residents are too stuck in the past, prisoners of a “Pleasantville” state of mind. On this day, we’re reminded of why we should treasure nature’s bounty.

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Idle conversation with strangers is relaxed. All is good for an hour that should be preserved for whatever the immediate future has in store for us. Even the late afternoon traffic seems less stressful from our vantage point. Politeness is in the air.

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Past and present seem to be bonding as we look around. We could be in a real life 1940’s MGM Technicolor movie about small town life. It’s good to be alive on a day like this.

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Print it! We have a take!!

MAGIC IS LOOSE IN THE WORLD

“Nothing is certain anymore. Nothing. Chaos is king and magic is loose in the world.” That was the conclusion Robert A. Heinlein drew at the end of his two novellas, “Waldo” and “Magic, Incorporated.”

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I have always wanted magic to be real. Over the nearly 7 decades of my life, I have had to accept that if magic exists — magic in the sense of spells and witches and wizards — I don’t have it. But perhaps it is time to redefine magic. Maybe magic isn’t a coven chanting at the new moon or spells cast by wizards. Or amazing feats by creatures born in myth. Magic is everywhere, loose in the world.

Super moon through the trees - November 13, 2016

Super moon through the trees – November 13, 2016

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Even my favorite magic — time travel — is real. We all travel through time, but we march not to drums, but to the beat of our hearts. My time travels have shown me a transformed world where technology has created what no one imagined or dreamed.

Is that not magic? And if we cease believing, will that magic disappear?

PHOTO CHALLENGE | Magic

I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016

THE CALM BEFORE THE STORMS OF WINTER

Thursday’s Special: Calm


CALM: Noun


  1. Quiet and peaceful state or condition.
  2. Peaceful mental or emotional state.
  3. Complete absence of wind, or presence of wind having a speed no greater than one mile (1.6 kilometers) per hour. Also, a period or condition of freedom from storms, high winds, or rough activity of water. (“The calm before the storm.”)
  4. Tranquility.

 I wanted to pick just one picture, but somehow, I wound up with three. All taken on a single afternoon in the Blackstone Valley, along the River or Canal. October is the most flamboyant and colorful month. November is typically cool. Quiet. Peaceful. Tranquil.

The quintessential calm before the storms of winter.

At River Bend along the Blackstone River, November 8th.

At River Bend along the Blackstone River, November 8th.

Along the Blackstone, November 8th.

Along the Blackstone, November 8th.

November 8th by the Canal in Uxbridge.

November 8th by the Canal in Uxbridge.