My Safe Spot

When I was younger, we used to play Hide and Seek in the woods and after I learned that I was immune to Poison Ivy, that was where I would hide put.  It is a low growing plant, being only about 12 inches high, so I had to lay down in the patches that were growing.  I guess it is not surprising that nobody ever came looking for me, when I was hiding there.  Poison Ivy is technically not a poisonous plant, but it does cause skin reactions to many people who come in contact with it.  The poisonous part of Poison Ivy is actually an oil found inside the plant, that makes its leaves very shiny.  Sometimes I would get bored laying on the ground in the patch of Poison Ivy, because I could hear all the other kids yelling and screaming and having fun and then I would get up and leave and try to find another hiding spot.

One day I saw this older man walking in the woods, which was strange, as usually only kids went in the woods, but he was walking his dog.  He told me that I should be more careful because those plants that were nearby were poisonous.  I told him that I was OK, because I was immune to Poison Ivy and that it would not give me a rash.  He said that he wasn’t referring to the Poison Ivy, that he meant those Hibiscus plants that I was standing next to.  He said that every part of the angel trumpet is highly poisonous, including the leaves, flowers, seeds and roots.  That they all contained toxic alkaloids, which could be deadly poisonous.  I told him that I thought they looked pretty and I was thinking about taking some of them home for my mother.  He warned me against doing that, saying if I touched them that residue could enter my blood stream or gastrointestinal tract, or it could get in my eyes or even some food that I might eat, which would lead to symptoms that include muscle weakness, dilated pupils and dry mouth, as well as a rapid pulse, fever and hallucinations.  He said that there was also a chance for me to become paralyzed or go into convulsions, which might cause me to go into a coma or cause my death.  I ran away and warned all of my friends about the deadly poisonous plants.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday Write Photo – Poisonous Plants – Image by KL Caley.

When in Rome

Behind every deranged man is a bloodthirsty woman.  Poppaea Sabina was a scheming bitch and she got Nero to marry her, yea the guy who fiddled while Rome burned, but he was so much worse than that.  This fifth emperor of Rome murdered his own mother, Agrippina the Younger, as well as his first wife, Octavia.  Poppaea Sabina induced Nero to murder his mother, because she was against her son getting married to his mistress, while he was still married.  Once Agrippina was out of the picture, Nero divorced Octavia, claiming that she was barren, and he married Poppaea 12 days after the divorce.  Nero had Octavia banished to the island of Pandateria, where he ordered her to be put to death.  Her execution followed the traditional Roman suicide ritual, where Octavia was tied up, and then her wrists were slit.  Nero’s ex was apparently so terrified that her blood congealed, meaning that the executors had to change gears and suffocate her in an extremely hot steam bath.  Her severed head was delivered to Poppaea Sabina as a gift.

Poppaea was a woman of striking beauty whose charms and grace were overshadowed by her licentious nature, ambition and an inability to love anyone.  While Sabina was awaiting the birth of her second child, she quarreled fiercely with Nero over his spending too much time at the races.  In a fit of rage, Nero kicked her in the abdomen, causing her death.  Sabina didn’t die instantly and this cruel and devious woman laughed at Nero and taunted him saying, “Don’t murder me, I beg of you please don’t murder me, but it seems that violence is all you know and that will keep on repeating itself with sickening regularity until you get what you deserve.”   Nero became furious and he kicked his wife into this pit and he jumped on her and stomped her to death.  It was not a pretty sight, but this pit holds historical significance and I am thinking about having it turned into a hot tub jacuzzi.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday Write Photo – Tomb – Image by KL Caley.

Coin Shortage

When I went to McDonalds the other day, they had a sign by the cashier window that said, “Please try to use change, as we are experiencing a coin shortage”, or something to that effect.  I have coins in my car and plenty of them in my house and years ago I would roll them up and take them to my bank, but I have become lazy and my piles of coins just keeps on increasing in size.  There actually isn’t a coin shortage, as this is just a bunch of people like me who are too damn lazy to roll them up and cash them in for paper money.  Maybe it is due to the pandemic, as we blame every other shortage on this, and I did go out and socialize a lot more before it began, but now I sit home and I am not spending money like I did before.  I buy things online using my credit cards, and there is no change in these transactions.

I see those Coinstar machines in the grocery store and I guess some people are using them to exchange their coins for cash, but I have never used one, because I think it is a rip off for them to charge 11.9% of whatever amount I am exchanging.  That would be almost $12 for each $100 and this is an extravagant cost for changing money.  Jesus drove the money-changers away from the temple, not because He had anything against them, but because He felt they should not be doing their business in front of His Father’s house.  The Romans ruled the Jews and everyone was paid in Roman coins, however since this Roman money contained images of Caesar and pagan deities, it was considered blasphemous to the Jews.  Herod struck his own Temple approved coins with Hebrew inscriptions and Jews often traded the pagan money for their own currency, thus making money changing a lucrative and respectable business of the day.

It is a pain in the ass, sorting and rolling up coins and let’s face it, money is filthy and you never know who touched it before you got it.  Coins are heavy and lugging them to the bank is a chore, so mine keep piling up.  If the banks had these money machines, which you could use at no charge, as I don’t see a reason why they would need to make a profit on converting money, then I would put all of my coins back into circulation, but mine are sitting in jars at home, instead of being inside of cash register drawers.

Metal coins are still being produced, it’s just that they are not being passed through the economy at the rate that they used to be, which causes problems for some businesses.  The Fed is producing enough coins, minting 14.8 billion pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, 50-cent pieces and dollar coins in 2020, a 24% increase from the 11.9 billion coins produced in 2019, but businesses and banks around the country are having a hard time getting a hold of that metal currency.  A lot of coins are collecting dust when they should be continually circulating through the economy.  I guess I am partly to blame for making less transactions at retail stores, not using vending machines as much as I once did, but if I didn’t feel like somebody was trying to pick my pocket, I would do my part to keep the coins flowing again.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday Write Photo – Money – Image by KL Caley.

Delilah Jones

Delilah was the wife of gentle Jack Jones who worked hard plowing the fields, but they were not yielding crops like they once did and when the ox died, this labor became so strenuous that it caused Jack to start drinking.  He was a handsome man and the ladies always chased after him, and even though he was a religious family man, sometimes he was tempted to stray.  He started drinking whiskey from the jar in the 1920s, but when Prohibition came around, he decided to make his living by selling red-eyed gin.  He sold this for two dollars a bottle and it burnt like hell, and if you were able to drink down a whole bottle, you would be ready to kill.  Delilah Jones bore two sets of twins and all together she raised eight boys, however some of them were conceived out of wedlock when her husband was not around.

Seven of the boys turned out to be outstanding citizens and one turned bad, because he didn’t get the beatings that the others did.  Over time their house started deteriorating, till one night when it snowed so hard that the roof caved in and it was nothing more than a tumble-down shack in Big Foot County, or you might call it a folly.  Delilah Jones died that year and gentle Jack was never the same again.  I missed my mother because she never hit me, however I was the boy who turned out bad.  I ended up living in the folly after taking over the still for my old man and I kept making that clean liquor, while chasing after brown-eyed women.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday Write Photo – The Folly – Image by KL Caley.

Photography Class

Shadows and reflections are the effects of light.  Without light, there would be no shadows.  Shadows are formed when objects block a source of light, so this is an is an absence of light, when light cannot get through an object.  Reflections are caused by light bouncing off objects.  Reflection has the ability to alter your images from something that may otherwise seem ordinary, such as a lake, a window, a mirror, or even a puddle and turn it into something abstract and creative.  Reflective surfaces exist all around us and utilizing them in our images can make for some truly beautiful works of art that draw viewers into the scene and allow them to see the world slightly different than before.

Students in the image that we are working with today, you will see a puddle with leaves and trees that are above it, reflected in the surface of this puddle.  If you get low to the ground and try taking your picture from different angles as you’re shooting into a puddle, the reflection becomes a viewfinder (the part of the camera that is used to frame and setup a photograph) and this provides a different perspective for your photographs.  A digital camera viewfinder allows the photographer to see the image that will be captured.  This tool quite simply helps you find the view that the picture should be of.

Puddle photos are captivating because they’re like mirrors, and they allow the world to be seen differently.  These photos also attract a lot of attention and can even be conversation starters because they produce painting-like effects.  Today we will be working with a puddle that is smooth and still, and eventually we will work our way up to those that have ripples.  Our photo was taken right after a rain storm, so it is littered with twigs and leaves and this adds natural context to the picture.  This photo was taken with the Sun behind the photographer as you can see its light shining on the tree leaves and the bright blue sky that is above it.  Notice the effect that the trunk of this tree’s shadow has on the reflections in the puddle, as the picture looks clearer in this area.

We had rain last night and I am certain that you can find puddles out there if you look hard enough, so I want everyone to get outside and shoot some puddles and bring them in for the next class where er will talk about them.  Try to capture nature at its best and I don’t want to see any cigarette butts or other trash in the setting that you choose.  You will also be required to write 100 words that describe what is contained in your picture.  We didn’t have a whole lot of rain last night, so most likely you will only find shallow puddles, so make sure to adjust your camera and have it focus on the actual subject (not on its reflection) first.  Then slowly bring your camera back to the puddle and lock its focus.  Also, be carful and try and keep your camera dry, but other than that, find your puddle and make a big splash, as this will be your midterm grade.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday Write Photo – Portal concerning image by Rebecca M. Douglass.

It’s Not Simple

“It is that simple, you walk through the stone archway and the alligators will be waiting for you in the pond.  This is your first test to see if you have the right stuff”, said the one-armed man.  Lefty went on, “You are not going to roll around on the ground with the gators, even though this is called wrestling, all you need to do is try to coax the gator to open its mouth, tuck its head against your neck and hold the gator’s mouth open with only your chin, while your arms are outstretched.  It is a series of properly planned moves and that is why it is called wrestling, but these moves take strength, finesse, and you will need long, strong legs to straddle and hold down an eight-foot gator.  The gator will never give in willingly, so you have to put your heart into this, as not everybody has the right combination of skills.  Scars are part of this life and in case the gator gets you, don’t worry, as I will be standing by holding a crowbar to pry his mouth back open.”  “Oh, its that simple”, said Joe “I don’t want any part of this.”

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday Write Photo – Arch.

The Mares Tail

That is not a feather cloud, it’s a mare’s tail and I ought to know as I carefully lifted many horses’ tails and I wondered what purpose they served.  I noticed that when it was swung around, it would deter flies from biting its ass and this was their defense in their war against insects.  This is a part of the horse that must be respected, as a tail can be used like a whip and it is a formidable weapon, especially when it is frantically swished and swayed around.  Animals’ butts may seem mundane to most people, but only creatures with an anus are able to physically segregate the acts of eating and defecating, so they don’t have to finish processing one meal before ingesting another, allowing their bodies to harvest more energy, so they can grow bigger.  People may joke and say that a moron or an unlikable person is a horse’s ass, but a horse’s tail can reveal a lot about the horse, as when it is moving the horse is thought to be frisky and energetic.

In 1581, when Galileo was studding motion, he was fascinated the regular movement of a pendulum.  A horse’s tail swings like a pendulum, but unlike the pendulum, which exhibits a periodic motion about its mean position, it does not swing at natural frequency.  Galileo discovered that for small amplitudes, the period and frequency are unaffected by the amplitude.  This breakthrough came while he sat bored during a church service in Pisa.  The chandelier overhead would swing gently back and forth, but it seemed to move more quickly when it was swinging widely (after a gust of wind, for example) and more slowly when it wasn’t moving as far.  Intrigued, Galileo decided to measure how much time it took for each swing, using the only approximately periodic event to which he had ready access.  Since clocks with second hands didn’t become common until the 18th century, Galileo used the beating of his own pulse.  He found the number of heartbeats between swings of the chandelier was roughly the same, regardless of whether the swings were wide or narrow.  Thus, the size of the oscillations pertaining to how far the pendulum swung back and forth, didn’t affect the frequency of those oscillations.

The discovery of this natural frequency is what made the pendulum an extremely reliable source for telling time.  It is also this natural frequency, this motion at resonance, that allows a grandfather clock to use so little energy.  A single winding keeps a clock running for days.  Since animals are swinging their tails nearly all the time that they are awake, one would expect that they would want to swing them at their natural frequency to save energy.  Shockingly, horses swing their tails once per second, which is three times faster than the expected natural frequencies based on their tail length.  By swinging their tail three times faster than their natural frequency, they expend 27 times more energy than necessary, but this allows them to shoo away many more flies.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday Write Photo – Feather Cloud.

Arms Wide Open

They are on this planet and although they are not alive, they are filled with affection, readily giving you hugs and kisses to express their love, and show their physical and emotional warmth.  Everybody needs a friend or two, and better idea would be to adopt a whole community of these lovable characters.  Hillary said, “It takes a village” to enable your children to become smart, able, and resilient adults, but if you purchase these toys for your kids to play with, you are well on your way to building a village.  Each one comes with their own story and the captain who is dressed in white has just come back from a sea adventure, and he has loads of stories to tell your children about his adventures.  The mechanic is dressed in red wearing glasses and a blue cap and he checks your oil with his towel and adds another quart when you get low.

The school crossing guard is wearing a green top with a blue skirt and she will always check all the students to make sure that they packed their lunch and if not, she will call your mom.  The train conductor is wearing a light blue hat and he has a red bandana tied around his neck.  He is holding up a clock and he wants to teach everyone how important it is to be on time.  Sally sunshine is holding an ice cream cone and she wants you to come out and play with her.  Not shown in the picture, but available for purchase is the baker who is dressed in white and he bakes the bread and makes the cakes, which all children love.  You can also get the astronaut, the cowboy, the fireman, the rock star, the librarian and the graduate who doesn’t look like Dustin Hoffman.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday Write Photo – Community.

Cajun Swamp Chicken

The Cypress tree tunnel is a dirt road, where the trees on each side form a continuous overhead canopy, giving the illusion of it being a tunnel.  It is a glorious place for photographers to go and take pictures, but because these trees grow best in swampy, wet soil, an alligator took over this tunnel and claimed it as his territory.  The good news is that the gator was captured today and tonight there will be a barbecue.  The chef will be serving Cajun Crawfish Twice Baked Stuffed Potatoes along with some Cajun Cornbread Dressing.  We have utensils, but you will need to bring your own drinks.  The bluegrass-country singer Alison Krauss will be bringing her fiddle and it should turn out to be a real hootnanny.  The ducks have come back now that the gator is gone, but don’t try to eat them, as they are pets.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday Write Photo – Tunnel.

Where We Met

I will never forget the day that I first met you as I climbed up those steps and saw you on the bridge wearing your decorative bra, or bralette without a blouse.  You were the first to make this bold fashion statement challenging the style of what was acceptable.  I thought that you were unapologetically being yourself, doing your own thing and it was amazing.  You put yourself out there by being unique and not following established trends.  You were totally badass, and even Madonna didn’t make her cone bra statement till 1990, which was five years after you were doing it.  This was the perfect summer look and it made everything that you wore with it seem that much more exciting.

Before you started rocking this look, lingerie was only seen in the bedroom, but now this look has made its way into the streets and it allows women to feel more daring.  Lingerie will always be a secret weapon for seducing men and you won my heart from the instant I saw you that day on the bridge.  You were exuding confidence and this was a big step from the tank tops and tube tops that girls were wearing in the 1970s.  With out your influence, girls wouldn’t be wearing those cute handkerchief tops and bandana tops that became fashionable in the 90s.  The fashion industry is completely enamored with the bra top look and they are flying off of shelves in many stores and it keeps gaining momentum.  It is no longer controversial, but you still have to be brave to dress this way.  This look obviously draws the attention of anyone who sees it, because it is so difficult to ignore.

Written for KL Caley’s Thursday photo prompt – Steps.