Friday, August 31, 2012

Lego Display

I don't know when the Indiana State Fair opened a category 
for Lego projects, but they have. Meh.
I thought the back of this mountain village display
was more interesting than the little vignettes.

It could be worse. 
I suppose the man who built this could
be out drinking in titty bars, "tucking bucks"
in the dancers' g-strings, if they're wearing any.

Instead, he's spent his discretionary income on thousands 
and thousands of little blocks and tiny, segmented
plastic people. 


Thursday, August 30, 2012

"I Can Make It to the Fence in 2.8 Weeks ..."

I love these signs and especially want 
The deer is perched at the wrong angle though,
making it look more like he's lying down on the road
after an unfortunate face-to-face with a vehicle.
Which brings to mind a question -
After a century or so of these encounters,
shouldn't the deer species have started to 
weed out the gene for running willy-nilly into 
the road in favor of the one 
that says "Stop ... and listen?"  
I'd also like to combine the wording
on the Doberman Pinscher sign
with the one for the turtle, to warn
evil-doers they have 2.8 weeks to leave
before she takes a chunk out of their toes. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Daily Life

While walking home from the grocery, 
I saw this little boy riding his bike in the driveway 
as his dad washed and detailed one 
of his work vehicles.
The little guy told me his dad
was going to get him a dirt bike when
he got a bit bigger.

I like knowing that the local gendarmes
live in the neighborhood. Another man and his family 
live just around the corner, while another two
homes on the other side of the park
are homes to members of the Indianapolis 
Police Department. Not only does it
humanize the men, 
it adds a bit of reassurance
for the other residents. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Textured Tuesday: School Supplies

The nearby Dollar Store offered these brightly-colored school 
supplies, packets of pens, erasers and markers
in amounts sufficient to keep writing and erasing stuff
for the entire school year.
I fiddled with the color balance a bit, but the 
hues still would keep these items from being lost
in the bottom of one's bookbag or locker.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Starry Night

Illustration borrowed for the occasion
from the blog Sweetpea Path

When I heard the news that Neil Armstrong had died
it took me back to that day, July 20, 1969, when the Eagle
was scheduled to land on the Moon.
The Moon, a place about 238,900 miles away
from anyplace on Earth I might be sitting. Ever.

I'd read an article in a magazine with instructions 
on how to take photos of the landing on the 
TV screen. I bought a roll of Kodak Tri-X film,
put it in my trusty Honeywell H1a 35mm SLR
and sat in the living room in front of 
the black and white television.
It was a warm, quiet evening. 
No one was in the house but me 
as I watched the events unfold in marvelous, 
fuzzy, flickering black and white.

I'd pre-focused the camera and set the f-stop
so I wouldn't have to worry about it, then waited.
Like the rest of the people, I sat and watched the screen
as one foot, then another descended the ladder,
taking pictures as it played out.

"One small step for man,
one giant leap for mankind."

 I watched as transparent images of
astronauts walked, skipped, and seemed to dance
on the Moon's surface. I was so proud of them,
and so happy for the men sitting in Houston
at Mission Control that I cried.

I wanted to do that, I wanted to be there
on the end of a rocket, like a giant
canned ham being launched towards the skies,
but what could NASA do with someone
whose only skills are drawing and maybe
splattering white paint on a dark blue canvas?

Forty years later, I would often sit at night
on the banks of the Muskingum River, listening
to friends chat around the bonfire while I
stared up at the night sky, strewn with the stars
of the Milky Way Galaxy. The beauty of 
those evenings was so palpable, I can still hear
Carl's voice telling a story as the fire's embers
floated up to meet the stars. Sometimes I saw 
a satellite speed across the sky,
another time the space station.

Several years ago, Carl and I visited Mission Control
at the Houston Space Center. We both were
surprised how small it was, at the tiny computer 
screens and the black telephones. I don't think it had
occurred to either one of us until that moment
just how momentous the achievement was because,
compared to electronics we have now,
NASA was able to send men to the Moon
and bring them home with today's electronic equivalent 
of tin cans, string, and aluminum foil hats.

As I contemplated myself on this small speck of sand
where we spun and swooshed our way through
space, I sometimes thought of Neil Armstrong,
when he looked back towards home, towards
Earth, and saw a beautiful blue planet.
When he came back, Armstrong did the coolest thing. 
In a world where he could have eaten out the rest of his life
as "The First Man to Walk on the Moon," he instead
came home, went back to school and became a teacher.
He didn't keep what he knew, like some special
double-double-secret information.
No, he taught other people to become engineers
so they might be able to explore the universe,
to look back and see the Earth as he had done
so many years ago. 

My pictures? They came out just fine, but
were somehow lost, I don't know how.
It almost doesn't matter, because I have those images
etched in my memory forever, along with the bonfires
and the Milky Way.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Finding Her Way

This climbing "rock" was installed several years ago 
on our neighborhood playground. 
It may seem minor, but I think learning to climb 
this rock will help these girls with other, 
larger obstacles later on. And I like the way 
the taller girl is watching over the other,
to help her find her footing.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Somebody Dribbled ...

For blocks and blocks and blocks
a stream of white paint trailed along the street,
marking the path taken by the truck
that made it. A couple blocks farther on.
the straight cuts made by a concrete
saw contrasted with the strokes
of slurry used to seal the asphalt 
pavement a couple seasons earlier.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Nailed It

Sometimes my motto is "Fucked up is good."
Strung at odd angles, the orange tape suited the coloration
 of both the pole and the yellow numbers.
Otherwise, it was all screwed up and out of place,
which is why I liked it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dunno Why, I Think They're Sexy

For whatever reason, my brain registers these flowers 
and their pods as erotic.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Reach of the Spirit

Each year, the concrete pad in front of the 4-H Building 
at the Indiana State Fairgrounds becomes the home
for a sculpture. The past couple years the site has been visited
by very large fiberglass representations of the farm
couple in American Gothic, while last year saw a dancing
couple from a painting by Renoir.
This year welcomed a creation both more modest
in scale and more ambitious in that it is
non-representational (i.e. "modern) art.

From the plaque:
"The Hoosier Spirit is fruitful, strong and resilient. ...
When faced with a challenge, Hoosiers respond much
like the farmer -- we get our hands dirty --
we do the work."
Jamie Dickerson, Sculptor

Made from Indiana hardwood, the exterior of the pieces invites 
the viewer to enter, to explore them as they twist and rise
towards the sky, much as the trees that produced them,
and just as people continue to work towards their goals.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Goin' Home

I went to the Fairgrounds yesterday to pick up my entry 
in this year's fair. The Indiana State Fair ended Sunday night 
after the last bulb on the carnival was turned off.
I walked through the carnival area to visit another area 
of the grounds. It was amazing to see how quickly 
people had cleaned up their stuff, folded their tents, 
and left town. The grounds are already so tidy
you could almost say that the Fair had never been.

 I saw a couple pair of giant fiberglass bears that seemed
as though they were dancing. While they may have
looked as though they were dancing with glee,
I was amazed at how the entire carnival ride had 
been folded into itself to ride on a trailer.

It must be a pretty unique field of engineering 
to make a carousel or a roller-coaster fold 
into a small enough wad to fit onto a truck.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lighted Edges

That, and the negative space are the reasons
I posted this picture. I guess people in the
Speedway area are getting used to me
because no one said, "Lady,
what the fuck are you looking at?"
Maybe that, or they knew they'd get a whole
chat about how the light shown through
the leaves, overlapped and made interesting shapes.
"And did you see the cool white lines made 
by the light at the lower left? Oh, yeah,
and the cool shape made where 
there's nothing at all?" 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Grassy Creek

There has been virtually no rain this summer. 
The creek at the Coke Field has been very low and 
dry in some places. In past years I've seen little fish, turtles
and scared up a few herons. Not this year.
This past week has seen three days of rain, 
but too late for the usual denizens of the little creek.
As I stood on the bridge Friday, I saw dragonflys
as big as Huey helicopters playing out
their mating rituals in the air, but there were
no little fish, no turtles, and no herons.
There was, however, grass in a rocky area that
was sufficiently dry for it to take root.
With the newly fallen rain flowing around it,
it makes a bright, clear picture.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

John Constable in Speedway

I don't like drama in my life, but I love to see it in clouds.
I was introduced to the artwork of John Constable
in one of my first college art history classes.
While my preference is for contemporary art, Constable's
land and seascapes stick with me; there are times when 
I will just stop to watch the clouds as they scud
across the sky. Often, when I am at the Coke Field,
I'll stand on the little bridge and imagine it's
a field in the English countryside.

Below is Ploughing Scene in Suffolk, painted in 1814.

But the one below, a seascape study, is my favorite.
Our storms generally come out of the plains
of the Midwest. On occasion, I saw dark clouds
approaching as we drove west from Ohio.
The vast, green farmland of Ohio was as good
as any ocean to see thunderheads sweeping in,
dropping curtains of rain on their approach.

Friday, August 17, 2012

At the Entrance

Greeting fairgoers at the entrance is this concert band organ owned by
Larry Kerns. It is a happy sound, immediately establishing
a pleasant, nostalgic mood to begin one's visit.

As I was looking for more information about
these machines, I found that are enthusiasts who attend
rallies to hear them, one of which is in Gallipolis, Ohio

I found the machine intriguing to watch, it's band master keeping time,
cherubs plucking little harps, attractive goddesses flanking the
bandmaster each playing a horn and or a bell.  

The music also was the last thing I heard as I left
the grounds, leaving me with a pleasant sound as I 
recalled my day and looked forward
to my next visit.

While there are several videos of this organ 
on YouTube, I chose this one because the sound
seems so much better than on the others.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Happy Wandering

The girl above added a realistic feel to the re-enactment of a 
summer meal in a 20th century farm kitchen. She was bored with
the whole proceedings and her little sister was becoming 
irritable. Instead of  reinforcing the younger girl's
bad mood, she reached out to bring her closer, to hug her.

Meanwhile, adults gathered round the summer kitchen table
and just a few feet away at a dining room table, to give
Fair visitors some idea what farm life and meals were like,
say, in the 1940s to 1950s. 

While the scene was a representation, the food was real. 
 Regrettably, I didn't get anything but the smells
of mashed potatoes and gravy. The people in the pictures were
volunteers in the Pioneer Village area of the Indiana
State Fair. Don't go there hungry at lunch time.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Horses With Jobs: Wedding Bells

On my way home from the fair last weekend,
I looked up to see a trio of white horse-drawn carriages,
each being pulled by what looked like horses that
were Clydesdales, or relations thereof.

As it turned out, they were on their way to pick up
a wedding party from the Capitol Building
just across the street. The first carriage, fashioned 
after a Cinderella coach, carried the bride and groom with,
I'm assuming, the maid and matron of honor.
The second and third carried the bridesmaids and
groomsmen, respectively.

Congratulations, Happy Couple!
I hope your lives together bring you joy
and growing love, as big and
beaming as your smiles.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Textured Tuesday: Too Little, Too late

After a summer with temperatures that ran 10 to 20 degrees 
higher than normal and very nearly no significant rainfall, 
the temperatures have broken and and it rained heavily twice
within a four day period.  But its too late for the crops and a lot
of the trees. Much of the midwest has been declared
a drought disaster area. In my neighborhood, many of the trees
have dropped at least some of their leaves, while some of the 
smaller trees have died. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Horses With Jobs, Part 2

I've been involved in another project lately, 
so haven't taken as many pictures as I would like. 
I did take the time Saturday to participate
in the Indiana State Fair's Plein Air Day.
Not that I'm a "plein air" kind of person --
my temperment isn't suited to that sort of work.

I ended up with a brightly colored depiction of 
a carousel, another version of "horses at work."
The gaily painted steeds on the merry-go-round carry 
children of all ages in never-ending circles with
flashing lights and pulsating music from 
an electronic calliope.

I bet that would make even the most
jaded pony turn into a fiberglass hors d'oevre
with a giant gold toothpick stuck
between  its withers.
You rock it, carousel cayuse! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Horses With Jobs

If you want to guarantee a crowd of adults with children,
drive up with a van full of draft horses to unload.
The Percherons were arriving for their segment of
the Indiana State Fair.

The oohing and ahhing doesn't stop outside,
as adults stand in awe and admiration as the huge,
amiable creatures are put into their stalls.
Their weight averages about one ton and, if they took it 
into their mind, they could get out of their stalls
without too much difficulty.

During the week, the draft horse classes are among 
the most popular, as spectators watch Percherons, Clydesdales,
and Belgians being shown pulling carts and wagons
made of two, four and six-in-hand teams.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I have set myself a little mission. I am looking to take
 a nice photo of a John Constable sky. With that in mind, 
I set out for the store this afternoon and, while the clouds played
their part, the setting was all wrong. So JC will wait another day.

Meanwhile, I saw a couple neighborhood men working to
replace a wheel bearing on a car. That is, they were trying to
get the old, very worn part off. When I saw them, they
had already made two trips to the parts dealer, 
with a third in the offing. 

I went on to the store, picked up a few groceries 
and started home, taking a few more pictures on the way.
Passing the car, the two men were getting into another,
embarking on their fourth mission to see
the parts dealer.

Here is the new part, awaiting its turn
on the right front wheel assembly
of a purple sedan.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Quiet Morning

The morning was gray and humid when I took these 
pictures of the west end of the Central Canal.
Looking west, the White River can be seen
beyond the street light. People were using the quiet time
to take a walk or go for their morning run.
The taped off ladder at the corner of the canal is the
site where swimmers would emerge the next morning,
completing the first leg of a triathlon.

Yep, they would use the Canal for the swimming 
portion of the competition, then transfer to their bicycles
to begin a route that would take them over the bridge to
the White River Promenade and beyond.
The bridge above, which is near the State Office
buildings and Indiana Historical Society,
must have been about the half-way mark of the
swimming competition.