Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A short video I created

I created this for Digital Storytelling using a photograph that I took. I built it in Photoshop and recreated the animation for the fire starting to blaze. I then imported each frame into Media Center on my computer, added the music and chose how it displayed. It turned out really well I thought. Hope you like it and remember to feel the joy!
video

Monday, June 29, 2009

Michael Jackson


I know there is much controversy over Michael Jackson and there always has been. No one knows for sure what is true and what isn't. Regardless, Michael Jackson was a musical icon and a very giving person.

According to Wikipedia, "Jackson donated and raised millions of dollars for beneficial causes through his foundations, charity singles, and support of 39 charities. Other aspects of his personal life, including his often changing appearances and eccentric behavior, generated significant controversy which damaged his public image". We all know how the media can make or break someone's career.

Jackson was one of a very few artists to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. He held 8 Guiness World Records including "Most Successful Entertainer of All Time" and "First Entertainer to Earn More Than 100 Million Dollars in a Year", 13 Grammy Awards, 13 #1 singles and 750 million records sold throughout the world. "Steve Huey of Allmusic observed how Jackson transformed the music video into an art form and a promotional tool through complex story lines, dance routines, special effects and famous cameo appearances; simultaneously breaking down racial barriers" (Wikipedia).

The man deserves respect for this, not ridicule.

I remember buying Michael Jackson 45's (look it up it you don't know what it is!) when I was a teeny bopper. "Got To Be There" was one of mine and my friends favorites, as well "I'll Be There." He was 3 years younger than I am so it was great to have someone our own age famous! Of course, he being black caused much controversy in our white bread world!

Michael Jackson truly crossed generations with his music and his influence. My nephew has been a fan since he was very young and attributes much of his own successes in music as a DJ to Jackson's influences.

I often thought how sad his life truly was, even with all his money and fame.


Reference
Wikipedia Referenced on 29 June 2009 on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_jackson

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Shaggy Bark Hickory


I needed a good reference photo for a painting I was working on and came across some interesting information about trees. I'm a tree lover-good thing too, since I live in the woods! We have a lot of shaggy bark hickory on the property but I still wanted photographic reference. It's easier to bring the tree to me, rather than lug all my painting paraphenalia to the tree!

Anyway, I also found a website that caught my attention about why bark "splits". So, being the geek I am I had to read about it. I remember reading about trees and such thousands of years ago in grade school but I didn't remember that ALL trees have a layer of cork in them.

When you touching a tree, you are touching the layer of the bark called the cork. This is a waterproof material that won't let the tree's water escape through it. As the tree grows the bark cracks, because it can't stretch to the larger size. Kinda like splitting the seams on your jeans, huh. A layer of cells makes new cork to fill in between the broken cork so that the tree's water doesn't get out. TMI, right? Read on...

In most trees, the cork layer is really thin. In the Cork Oak which grows in Portugal it gets very thick. When the cork layer gets thick enough, it is cut from the tree. It keeps growing back so the tree survives and more cork is harvested from it over time. They're weird looking once the layer is removed-they're orange. Look on this website if you want to see.

http://grandpacliff.com/Trees/Bark&Cork.htm

Now you know where the cork in wine bottles and bulletin boards comes from.

Oh yeah, my painting is almost done too. I used modeling paste on slate to try to duplicate the bark of the tree. It looks pretty good so far. I'll post it when it's done.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Artwork

I have much more artwork, just haven't taken the time to photograph them yet!

Fantasy Bug Clay sculpture

Bird Woman Clay Sculpture
Mask of Autumn Clay Sculpture Acrylic 8x10 on canvas panel
"Tracks" Oil 9x12 on gessoed paper
Untitled Clay sculpture @10" high
"Sentinals" Acrylic 9x12 on Canvas panel
"Return" Oil 16x24 on stretched canvas
Untitled Grisaille with oils. Oil on gessoed paper. It's a close up of the inside of a hollow tree.

Summer Solstice

Tomorrow is the Summer Solstice! The word solstice means “sun stands still”. At these times the Sun seems to change very little from one day to the next and appears to remain in one place north or south of the equator. Interesting…I didn’t know that. I do know that the Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year for daylight. Unfortunately, I have also heard it called the “Death of the Sun” because our days begin to get shorter and the nights longer. I do find comfort however, in the fact that the Winter Solstice is the "Rebirth of the Sun". Okay, I'm weird, what can I say.

Ancient Pagans celebrated the Solstice at Midsummer (3 days after, on June 24) with bonfires and couples would leap through the flames, believing their crops would grow as high as they were able to jump. My poor little garden needs me to leap VERY high I guess!

Another interesting fact is that all these weddings we see in June are because it was the time between the planting time (@May) and harvest time. It was believed that Beltane (May) was the marriage of the God and Goddess and it was bad luck to interfere with the deities, thus people married after that.

So many traditions in our lives are based on pagan celebrations and rites.

One last comment, according to Wiccan belief, to celebrate Litha we should focus outward and experience the joy of “plenty” in our lives. What a nice thought, to experience joy and have plenty.

May you all have plenty and live with ease.

Happy Solstice!


References
"Solstice," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2009 http://encarta.msn.com.
“Summer Solstice” http://www.crystalinks.com/summersolstice.html.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Short Story-The Run

The Run

They ringed the clearing that crisp autumn day in November 2006, waiting for him to come out of the trees. The clearing was large and sunny, near a ravine. It was quiet that morning; the only sounds were the birds chirping and the faint echo of water tumbling over rocks in the stream that ran into the gully. There were four of them, three eager to take him down, one undecided about it. “Like three damn hounds with guns,” he thought. The tracker, leaning against a silver birch with rifle cradled in his arms, had a sick feeling in his gut about the whole thing. Ben Swanson had led the other three straight to this site early that morning in the crackling dawn. Quiet, confident and in control, Ben now wanted to turn tail and run like a scared puppy and didn’t know why.

It wasn’t as if he hadn’t done this before. He had many “trophies”, so to speak. Years of this had earned him some respect, but today the whole situation seemed different. The other three guys he’d known and worked with for years. He was confident of their abilities. Okay, Bruce was a bit iffy on trigger control, Ted couldn’t see all that good anymore and Jack…well, Jack followed along just to be part of something. Overall though, the four made a capable team.


So why this gnawing…whatever the hell it was? It pissed him off. Maybe it was time for a new…new anything. Just not this anymore. He just didn’t feel the fire anymore inside him.
The odd part was that this quarry wasn’t any different than the others, really. He was older definitely, and a bit bigger than average. Ben could tell that by the depths of his tracks and the length of his stride.
He was a wily one, too. He’d been eluding the others for weeks now and they were feeling and looking like damn fools. Ben had gotten so tired of hearing exaggerated stories about “Bucky” as he had been dubbed. He’d be seen 25 miles north of here in the morning and then back by nightfall. Not even remotely possible with the terrain in the area, not to mention the time involved following those deer trails. Deer didn’t walk in a straight line so Bucky would have meandered all over the hills if he kept to trail. The name irritated Ben too, for some reason. Disrespectful.

Ben knew that a folk lore was in the making and that Bucky would get bigger and smarter with each telling. He really didn’t want to bring this one down. It was amusing watching people run in circles and he’d developed a sort of respect for Buck. Wishing he’d put his bourbon flask in his pocket that morning, he mentally and physically prepared himself for what would happen and sighed.

It took quite awhile, waiting in the morning shadows. The prey knew something was going on that wasn’t normal. He watched the clearing, scanning the edges but could detect no movement. Rubbing his shoulder lightly against the silver birch he stood under, he eased an itch.
Immediately, another materialized on his left leg. Rubbing one leg against the other, he leaned forward from the birch to crane his head out a bit further. Nothing. Looking up at the sun sparkling through the trees, he made his decision and gingerly stepped a few feet out. Turning his big head, brown eyes scanned left, right, left again. He stopped, and listened.

Startled, they saw him materialize out of the shadows as if an apparition. For a few seconds, he was admired. Tall, muscular and handsome even with the gray on his face. Ben straightened up, heart pounding with a rush of adrenaline. Shaky fingers thumbed off the safety, then put it back on. He could almost hear Bruce’s fingers jittering on the trigger, eager to fire. They knew to wait though, until he cleared the trees. If one of them missed, back into the shadows he’d go and be lost again for days. Ted probably hadn’t even spotted him yet, not through those dirty pop bottle glasses of his. Jack was waiting to see what everyone else would do.


Buck walked close to the edge of the trees, knowing instinctively that his coat blended in with the sun stippled dimness and made him difficult to see. He moved smoothly and stealthily, a practiced veteran. He walked a few paces, stopped. Head up and alert, he listened, then moved on. The sun glinted off of the gray on his face as he wove in and out of the dappled shadows. He was thirsty and the water in the gully wasn’t very far. He lifted his shaggy head and with a long perusal of the clearing, stepped completely out into the sunlight.


The first shot caught him in the shoulder, spinning him around. Blood streaming, he kept his feet and made a break towards the ravine, knowing he could find cover there. He could hear them burst out of the trees across the clearing. He knew he was faster and was sure he could make it.


Running full out, chest heaving with exertion, he felt his left leg disappear under him. He went down but scrambled back up within seconds, eyes wild, heart pounding, and breath whistling in and out of his open mouth. Turning in the other direction, he limped-ran-stumbled back towards the cover of the trees.


He heard more shots, someone yelling, and felt the bullets smack into his back and the side of his face. He fell but somehow struggled to his feet again. He couldn’t see much, not with the blood running in his eyes. Everything was viewed through a fiery red haze as he turned again and pushed his tired damaged body towards his only hope at this point-the water and the ravine.


He could taste the memory of it on the back of his throat, sweet and cold.


Ben couldn’t believe what he was seeing! Running out of the cover of tree line, he saw Bruce firing his gun like it was an SKS. Bruce ran, stopped, aimed and fired, ran a few more feet, stopped, fired again and again, not even aiming anymore. He had a dazed, drooling look on his face as he shot. Ted was there as well, off to the left and back a bit. He too was pumping out bullets like a crazed man. Jack was firing into the air wreaking havoc with everyone’s nerves, screaming nonsense at no one and nothing in particular.

“Stop! Stop you assholes! Let him get to the water, to cover!” Ben yelled at the top of his lungs as he ran towards the carnage going on in front of him. “Stop shooting! He’ll have to lie down there to rest!” No one listened. They just kept shooting and shooting manically.


Buck valiantly pushed himself across the ground on his chest, towards safety and the gully. Blood streamed from his wounds. Half his face was gone in a mess of bone and tissue. His left leg hung by a few tendons and the right was useless at this point, broken by someone’s bullet. He could hear the water gurgling.


Ben kept running, knowing Buck couldn’t possibly see anymore and that it was pure adrenaline and the will to live keeping him going. He left a trail of blood and gore as he inched his way to the stream, the three men walking behind and now simply shooting the ground around him in glee.


By the time Ben got to the scene, the shooting had stopped. Buck was still alive, but barely. The other three were huddled together, staring at what they had done.

“Shit!” said Jack, “Ain’t a whole lot left to him is there?”


Ted shook his head and turned away, with a strange look on his face.


Bruce was the scary one. He had a look of something wild in his eyes, finger still on the trigger of the rifle. Ben had the distinct feeling that if any of them moved too quickly, Bruce would instinctively fire.


Walking slowly over, Ben looked down and blue eyes met brown. No words were spoken; none were needed. The man and the deer that lay dying at his feet understood what had happened.


The man had seen it in other men in his past; the deer had seen it in the coyote and wolf. Bloodlust did not differentiate between animals. Ben knelt down and put his hand on the buck’s heaving side and said hoarsely, “It was not a just contest, my brother. We both know that.”


He turned and scowled at the men behind him as he drew his hunting knife. They stepped back quickly, not understanding what was happening but instinctively knowing Ben was now dangerous.


Ben looked up at the sun coming through the trees for a moment, then gently bent the buck’s noble head back and finished what had been started. Blood gushed and the two great heads went down. Ben bent his head and drew in the last breath of the deer. As the other three watched, blood slowed and the fire in the eyes of both animals-one human, one not-faded, then winked out.

Indian Pipe


I don't know why I feel the need to share this with you, other than the fact that this plant seems almost mystical and magical. It's Latin name is Monotropa uniflora, but it is also known as the Ghost Plant, Indian Pipe, or Corpse Plant and is scarce or rare in occurrence. Figures we'd have an abundance of them in our woods!

Unlike most plants, it is white and does not contain any chlorophyll. It is basically a parasite, living off of the fungi that lives off of the energy of photosynthetic trees. I find them under trees, close to the base. Indian Pipe is a food source for small bumble bees, which visit the flowers for nectar. They are waxy feeling and very strange...yet fascinating.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The View From My Window


"Clutter" is many things but a part of everyone's life-whether we admit it or not. The cluttering up of our hearts, souls and spirits is what makes each of us unique. The clutter of my life here will include many things. I hope you enjoy the view.

My home is in the woods. I live in a log cabin built from the trees on the land in the "old style". It's rustic, drafty but I love it and can't imagine living anywhere else. Right now, as I type, the birds are waking up and calling to each other. A new day. We should take a lesson from them and greet each morning as a new beginning and let go of the trials and tribulations of the previous day...and sing!

I'm not sure what you will read on this blog but it will be from my heart and will be honest. I love to write and I'll share some of the short stories and poetry I've written and will write here. I'm also an artist so there will be photos of some of my work from the past and that to come.

So, come walk with me and we'll see what we discover!

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