Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Anniversary Prize Giveaway

Prize Giveaway!!
I will celebrate my 1st year blog anniversary next month with a prize giveaway. To see the prizes, you will need to check for my new post, Anniversary Prize Giveaway. You may enter 3 times. First entry will be to check back through my posts and find a favorite photo. Second entry will be to state your favorite post of mine. Third entry will be to write a poem or Haiku. Enter, via your comments either with this post, Saturday Centus or Alphabe-Thursday. Comment entries will be accepted through this Saturday, and I will announce the winner this Sunday, 4th of July. Prizes ...set of 3 carnival wagon piggy banks, turkey salt and pepper set, colorful fabric remnants, and a made to your color specifications hummingbird feeder. I hope these prizes are appealing to you as I wanted to find a nice way to express how much fun I have had blogging with you folks.

Xerces Blue

 Desktop Wallpaper · Gallery · Nature   Blue Butterfly - Xerces Blue

"X" me an unusual letter and oft used symbol. I had, at one point, decided to write about "X" as it applies to symbolism. As I explore this topic it became apparent that it was too dry a material for my taste. Then it came to me, from somewhere out of the vaults of, perhaps, a college Entomology class from years past...a certain butterfly known as the Xerces Blue. It is well known in Entomological and Lepidopteran circles as the only known butterfly species to have become extinct due to human activity.

The Xerces Blue gets its name from a pair of 5th century Persian kings, Xerxes I and II. It once inhabited an area of coastal dunes near San Francisco, California. Two theories are proffered as to the cause of extinction...development and subsequent habitat loss and/or the loss of a symbiotically important ant species via the invasion of a non-endemic ant species. The Xerces Blue was last observed in the wild in the early 1940s. Some years later, in 1971, its name gave rise to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. This organization is dedicated to the study and conservation of invertebrate wildlife.

In honor of the Xerces Blue and the work done by the Xerces Society, I offer below some recent insect photographs taken in and around my yard. I am especially fond of the small, iridescent colored Long-Legged Fly. They are the perfect flying insect subjects. they do not fly off when approached, and seem to actually pose for their pictures. My macro lens allows me to really bring to life these colorful, 1/4 inch long insects that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Enjoy...Hug a Bug!

This post is offered as part of an ongoing meme, started by Jenny Matlock, called Alphabe-Thursday. Please visit and check out all the wonderful posts at Alphabe-Thursday.
Jenny Matlock

Prize Giveaway!!
I will celebrate my 1st year blog anniversary next month with a prize giveaway. To see the prizes, you will need to check for my new post, Anniversary Prize Giveaway. You may enter 3 times. First entry will be to check back through my posts and find a favorite photo. Second entry will be to state your favorite post of mine. Third entry will be to write a poem or Haiku. Enter, via your comments either with this post, Saturday Centus or Anniversary Prize Giveaway. Comment entries will be accepted through this Saturday, and I will announce the winner this Sunday, 4th of July. Prizes ...set of 3 carnival wagon piggy banks, turkey salt and pepper set, colorful fabric remnants, and a made to your color specifications hummingbird feeder. I hope these prizes are appealing to you as I wanted to find a nice way to express how much fun I have had blogging with you folks.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Drive-by Shooting

This past Saturday was a day of Full Moon, and in the wee-early morning hours a partial Lunar Eclipse. I routinely try to be aware and to observe these special Lunar and Solar events. As was the case this past Saturday, these Lunar events often occur at some hour when I would most likely be sleeping. The viewing map for this partial eclipse indicated the best opportunity for viewing would be generally in the midwest. My best opportunity would come as the moon was setting. I managed to be up before dawn. I went outside and saw this full moon just above the rooftop of my friend, George's, house, looking towards the west. I saw no overt signs of eclipsing. I waited a while until daylight, at which point I could no longer see the moon from my yard. I decided to get my camera, get in my 'Bug', in my boxer shorts, and head down the way to the Presbyterian Church parking lot for a better vantage to the western horizon. The vantage was better, although, if the moon were still visible it was shrouded by low clouds across the western horizon. Oh well, not to be...I did however find that morning unique opportunities for what I now call "Drive-by Shooting". I know this term sounds awful, but it is truly what I was doing...with my camera, of course! There was no traffic, and I could sit in my bug in the middle of the road and click away as much as I wanted. Had our neighborhood policeman stopped I would have seemed a curious boxer shorts, no driver's license, taking closeups of a church, rabbits in someone's yard, flowers up along a driveway :-)
This may be the first of my early morning drive-bys, but will not be the last...Peace and blessings

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Eight o'clock genetics class finished early. Mark and I decided to grab a coffee and cinnamon roll at the SU Cafe. We got through the line quickly and sat down, relieved to get a break from Mr. Beakman's boring Genetic's lecture.

"Mark, did you notice Elizabeth in class this morning and how forlorn she seemed?"

Perhaps I will write her a comforting note, I thought.

That afternoon I wrote a note telling her that if she needed a friend, I was there for her. I put it in her campus mailbox.

Word traveled quickly Sunday morning that Elizabeth had committed suicide using strychnine secreted from a Chemistry lab. Sunday afternoon, still reeling from the shock, I checked her mailbox. My note was still there.

The above story is true, although her name is not Elizabeth. "Elizabeth" and I were fellow graduates students in Biology at Tennessee Tech University. I am often reminded in interesting ways about this heart-wrenchingly sad situation. Thursday mornings I volunteer at the front reception desk at our church. This last Thursday a good friend stopped in to drop off some materials for our secretary. She showed me a posted and returned 'Get-Well' card she had recently sent to an ailing, fellow parishioner. Matter-of-factly he had passed away and had never received his card. That occurrence for her reminded me again about "Elizabeth's" suicide and my unread card. Of course I felt as if I had been too late and if only she had read the card...well, you can imagine the rest of my sentiments. I still cry to this day whenever I remember "Elizabeth".

Suicide is terribly sad, and its ripple effects run deep and wide through family and friends. Depression and despair that leads down this path is serious business. I have been there... In the U.S. suicide occurs every 17 minutes, resulting in over 30,000 deaths each year. There are in excess of a half million ER visits annually for self-inflicted injuries. Suicide death ranks third for cause of death among young people, aged 15-24.

If you know someone who is troubled, depressed in any way, do not be afraid to engage them. Take a healthy dose of love and human kindness to them. It may be that this love and human kindness is just the 'ticket' in creating a small miracle.

Thank you all for your creative work in response to my prompt for this week's Saturday Centus. I hope it was challenging. If you have not done so, please check out the wonderful writing creativity by going to

Peace and blessings

Jenny Matlock

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Women...Can't Live Without...

Women...ok, ok, so you are thinking, 'what is this guy doing writing about women for his Alphabe-Thursday post'? Given that this meme is occupied by women, save myself, there are certainly many qualified voices out there that could speak more ably on the subject. I cannot speak to what it is to be a woman, at least as an experience in present life. What I can do is provide a snapshot of sorts from the outside looking in.

For most of my life I have found myself in the company of, if not outright surrounded by, women. As a youngster I would often commune with my mom and her bridge club ladies, or my sister and her school mates (I always had a crush on one or more of them). Throughout most of my adult life the majority of my friends have been women. I have led two prayer groups in recent years. Guess what? All women...and me. I have participated in two mind/body therapy groups and once again found myself the sole male in a group of women. There seems to be a pattern here. Some might suggest that it was, is, nothing more than coincidence. That might work for some, but as for me, I do not believe in coincidence. What I do believe however is that I have lived many lives before this one, and I have been told that some of these lives were lived as a woman. I will not go into details, but suffice it to say that not all were lived under the best of circumstances. If reincarnation is real (I believe it to be), then it is possible that there is some connection, some 'bleeding through' of circumstance, feeling, attitudes, wisdom from past life to present. This may explain, in part, much of what has transpired in my life and much about who I am.

No discussion about women would be complete without acknowledging some favorites...those women (and there are many), that I have found inspirational. As I was mentally preparing to write this post, two women in particular came to mind. Both of these women were in the art world, and the other in the world of women's rights. Neither were overly familiar to me until I watched biographical movies about each.

Georgia O'Keeffe...I have for the longest time appreciated her artistic style, yet knew nothing of her personal story. I like her art and love that she lived and worked for years in a part of New Mexico that is so familiar to me. There is a recent movie, Georgia O'Keeffe, now available on DVD, casting Joan Allen in the lead role. It received three Golden Globe nominations, and is well worth watching if you have not seen it.

Alice Paul...An early 20th century Women's Rights activist...a remarkable woman and hugely responsible for the 19th Amendment securing women's voting rights. She laid it down, risking it all, for something in which she believed. A 2005 movie release, Iron Jawed Angels, with Hilary Swank in the lead role, was a Golden Globe winner and well worth your time.

I know you must be thinking, 'when is he going to finish this post'? I apologize...there is just so much to say. I will end for now with this thought...I believe that if this world is to be led into an age of peace, that if we are to realize 'Eden' on this beautiful orb in this very large universe, then it will surely be done on women's wings. That is a heavy burden and responsibility..."Mom, what's for dinner?"

"I found that I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way- things I had no words for" - Georgia O'Keeffe

" I often lay on that bench looking up into the tree, past the trunk and up into the branches. It was particularly fine at night with the stars above the tree" - Georgia O'Keeffe

"The world crisis came about without women having anything to do with it. If the women of the world had not been excluded from world affairs, things today might have been different" - Alice Paul

" I always feel the movement is a sort of mosaic. Each of us puts in one little stone, and then you get a great mosaic at the end" - Alice Paul

Peace and blessings...remember to visit the many remarkable posts of Alphabe-Thursday at

Jenny Matlock

Prize Giveaway announcement!! My one year blog anniversary will be here in July. Prizes will include, but not limited to, a made to your specs hummingbird feeder, a lovely, English tea cup, and ??? All you have to do to enter is 1) write a short poem , or Haiku, and 2) revisit my posts over the last year and let me know your, quote, poem, topic, etc.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lead Me Home

It was Father's Day, 1984, when I heard that voice in the hallway...but then I was always hearing voices...voices, I was certain, that were calling to me to help me break the grip of this amnesic insanity. The doctors had prescribed a regimen of medications designed to tame, to drown these voices in my head. Of course, I was not taking the meds. I remain convinced that these voices are the only real link to my my sanity. On this holiday, with its many visitors, would, when I turned around to acknowledge the voice...would it be someone real...someone that had found me and would lead me...home?

I have written this particular piece out of empathy for the approximately 60 million Americans over the age of 18 who suffer from diagnosable mental illness. Mental illness is the leading cause of disability of those ages 15-44.

It often seems a very fine line between sanity and that 'country' which lies on the other side. I am not always so certain in which 'land' I reside. I do, however, hope and pray that all who suffer from mental illness will find their way...home.

Peace and blessings
Happy Father's Day...

Jenny Matlock

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Once, while on vacation to Russia, I met a Vivacious and Voluptuous Vamp from Vladivostok. As was her habit, she would sit at her Vanity, on which was placed a Vintage Vase with a Verdigris patina, holding a small number of very lovely Violets. Around her neck, draping over her shoulder, was a rather large and dangerous Viper with the most beautiful Viridescent eyes. As if this was not tantalizing enough, she would then pick up a finely Varnished Violin and begin to play and sing Ave Maria by Vladimir Vavilov...

As enticing as it would be to continue this story, perhaps turning it into a rhyme, I am certain it would veer off our PG path. So, I will regroup my thoughts, and find something more suitable for our VG (very good) group.

I love buttons, especially the Vintage kind. Being a collector with broad horizons, I have accumulated a large number of Vintage buttons. Why? Other than satisfying my fundamental collector urges, I buy them to use for crafting purposes.

Vintage buttons, as many of you know, were manufactured from a wide variety of materials...wood, bone, metal, Bakelite, shell, ceramic, glass and plastic. I have, in my collection, buttons made from each of these materials, although at present, I am most fascinated with the shell buttons.

As some of you may know, my wife, the HappyMrsC recently started making hummingbird feeders from recycled glass bottles. I suggested she use the Vintage buttons to decorate the bottles. And so she has. I have actually just completed my first feeder (photo below).

Last night, for some presently not remembered reason, I decided to Google and learn about Pearl Buttons (mother of pearl or shell buttons). What I found was a quite interesting piece of 19th and 20th century American history. It is a remarkable story of how a German immigrant, J.F. Boepple, turned a sleepy, Mississippi River town named Muscatine, into "The Pearl Button Capital of the World". Its prominence in the pearl button industry lasted for more than half a century, eventually giving way to foreign competition and newer, synthetic materials. I encourage you to check out the wonderful information found on the Muscatine History and Industry Center's Pearl Button Museum website that I have linked below. Needless to say, the HappyMrsC and I have decided that some day we will take a road trip to the former "Pearl Button Capital of the World", somewhere along the muddy banks of the Mighty Mississippi, in the great state of Iowa.

Peace, and...

This is my installment for the letter "V" in our ongoing, weekly meme, Alphabe-Thursday. I would like to thank our teacher, Jenny Matlock, for providing this 'learning' opportunity. I encourage you to check out some of the work prepared by other students in the class.

Jenny Matlock

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Weary Traveler(from The Playground of My Dreams)

It is late evening, and I, a traveler from the distant past, find myself lying down on a cool carpet of grass. The moon is old, having faded into the darkening sky. The stars are brightly lit in this diamond studded black abyss that has become a perennially familiar roof over this weary traveler's head. My nostrils sense a familiar odor. It's true, the smell of freshly mowed grass is much like the sweet odor of fresh cut hay in my father's fields from long ago.

Why have I come to this place and time? Much will be revealed in the days and weeks ahead. What I do know is that I carry with me the fragmentary moments and memories of many lives and many places that can stay with you for years, for decades, for millenia. These fragments are the sustenance for the weary soul of a traveler on a journey such as mine.

This is my offering for this week's Saturday Centus. This creative writing meme is brought to you by Jenny Matlock and her husband. We are given a prompt supplied by "Mr. Jenny" and are then challenged to add to that prompt in 100 words or less. The prompt words are italicized. I encourage you to explore the writings of all the creative geniuses who participate in this wonderful writing 'lesson'. Peace and blessings

Jenny Matlock

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How Could "U"?

Well Alphabe-Thursday friends we are nearing the end of a long journey. Before we reach our destination we have a few interesting 'hills' to climb. This weeks assignment, the letter "U" is one of those uphill challenges.

I traveled by dictionary from Uaupes to Uzbekistan and via the Concordance from Unbelief to Uzziah, yet I floundered in indecision. I found myself Uninspired. You would think that with two University degrees I could figure a way to undue, to unravel this unmistakable dilemma that was undermining my ability to complete my assignment. You "u", you "u", you "u"...what is there in "u" for me? Should I wax poetic? Will I have to pull a rabbit from a hat? What can I photograph? Am I running out of creative juices?

As I traveled by dictionary, I found an enormous number of "Uns" in uninspired...almost all of them complete downers. These "Uns" quickly segue to the "Ups" in uplifting. Well, I thought, "I am a sucker for uplifting". Still, nothing, nada...I was wallowing in an uninspired funk.

" The unrighteous unbelievers, unified in their uncircumcised, ungodly unbelief..."

Downer, downer, downer...The Concordance was of little help...far more "Uns" than other prefixes...way to dark. So much for religion pulling me out of my uninspired funk. But wait! There is one "un" word there on that page, mired in the muck of "uns", struggling to free itself like a dove caught in a snare. A good "unword", close to my heart...Understand? That's it! Understand.

So it is... with this newly liberated word that I will begin this unbelievably unique journey (I know, I know you were hoping, praying that this was coming to an end).

I once participated in a six-week long, mind/body wellness group. One night the subject of love came up in discussion. The question was proffered, "what is love", and can you easily and in few words describe love? I thought about it for a few moments and decided that love is measured in the willingness, perhaps outright desire, to understand another person. That out of the desire to understand will come a relational experience and, if we are lucky, love will blossom. Understand?

So, all that is sounding pretty good so far, but how can I photograph understanding? Perhaps not directly...perhaps only in a backdoor fashion vis a vis the relational experience as I have attempted to exhibit in the first two photographs below. These two photographs are part of a series I am working on titled, "A Bridge to Love", with all shots taken on or from Chattanooga's Walnut Street pedestrian bridge.

playing my Ukulele while overhead
a UFO travels to Uranus
All the while pondering the Umbel-like flowers
of the blunt-leaved milkweed, while
the HappyMrsC plays my Ute drum
with Utilitarian Utensils.
Whew! What a journey! Maybe "V" will be easier...

Thanks much for your visit. I know it was not easy. Please take the time to visit Jenny Matlock's Alphabe-Thursday and take in the unbelievable posts to be found there.
Jenny Matlock

Saturday, June 5, 2010

It Takes a...

I quietly entered the stream of frightened visitors as they rushed to exit the building. As I reached the sidewalk along 5th Ave, I realized that the cool, light rains that had earlier dampened the Manhattan streets, had returned. I deftly donned my cap and secured the top button of my trench coat and headed north along 5th, then crossing east at 86th. The cool breeze and light rain washed away the tension, and with each intersection crossed I felt closer to freedom. At 3rd Ave. I darted into the Orpheum. I settled into the comfortable movie theater seat with awkward 3D glasses perched on my nose, a small tub of popcorn on my lap, and a bottle of water lodged into the seat holder, …comfortable with the idea that I had just pulled off the greatest art heist… EVER. With the Vermeer, Van Gogh, Matisse, Rembrandt and Degas neatly rolled and secured beneath my coat, I thought of lines from a certain, obscure Lord Byron drama”…The rogue; how should I, not being robbed, identify the thief among so many? In the crowd, may it please your excellency, your thief looks exactly like the rest, or rather better:…”

The above is my offering for Jenny Matlock's Saturday Centus. It is a quite delightful writing exercise where we are given a prompt...larger print in the middle of my post...and from that prompt are to write 100 words or less. I have once again gone over the 100 word limit and will surely receive a bad grade as a result. My problem is that I get my idea quickly while reading the prompt and have to go with it...maybe I should just audit the class:-) I encourage you to participate in this wonderful least go and check out the other fine, creative

Jenny Matlock