Monday, July 18, 2016

Out of The Frying Pan

Several years ago I attended a showing of top National Geographic photographs.   I was totally entranced by one of them—a night photo of the Tehachapi (California) wind farm taken by Jeff Kroeze.   I found/tracked down Jeff Kroeze & e-mailed him.   He was kind enough to respond, even giving me the settings/how-to of his photograph.   I have been hoping and looking for a similar wind farm ever since.    
Photo by Jeff Kroeze--this is MY bucket list shot to do!
We are on a work assignment in Amarillo, Texas—which is pretty flat country surrounded by wind farms.   This is seems like a good place to “get my shot.”  

I convinced my husband to go scouting with me west of Amarillo.  I thought I remembered some possibly good windmills around the little town of Bushland.    We headed west and pulled off I-40 onto the side road (old Route 66).   There was a country road, what we in Oklahoma call a “section line road,” heading north right into what appeared to MAYBE be a good place to return in the dark of night and "shoot windmills."

The “good” gravel road ended and a less traveled one continued on ending in a pasture.   Not seeing any “no trespassing” or “keep out” signs, we pulled to end of the road.   Dan & I both started taking some photos of the windmills in the distance.   There was a nice fence post with barbed wire that got a few shots, too. 

The windmills across the field

Busy with my camera & the photos, I didn’t notice an older model car pulling up until it was right beside us.   Inside was an old codger cowboy.  I smiled & held up my camera (my sign for “see what I’m doing here and hope its ok?”).   He got out and I said, “Hi, we’re taking pics of the windmills.  Is that ok? We didn’t see any signs.”   “Well,” he said (draw that "well" waaay out--more like, "waaaelll") “this here’s private property.  Part of the Bush Estate—The Frying Pan Ranch.”   I said I hadn’t seen a sign.  He said, “Well, there’s one back there on that gate that’s in the ditch.”  “In the ditch?” I said (as in, like, “duh, hello, sorry I didn’t look in the ditch for the sign.”).   Dan told him we’d leave, but he said, “Seeing as you’re not causin’ any trouble, I trust ya—go on and take yer pictures.” 

And the cowboy codger drove away . . .

I didn't climb over the fence.   THAT would have been trespassing!

I find it interesting that this ranch was originally owned by a barbed wire creator & that I was fascinated with the barbed wire!

Aw heck.  There's too many power lines.  Gotta find another wind farm! 

Grainery in Wilderado, TX 
(Look up the Frying Pan Ranch/Bush Estate for some interesting history on this part of the country!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Respect the Flag

My Parents' tombstone
Yesterday was the 4th of July.   Hands down—next to Christmas, this is my favorite holiday.   I love the whole schmaltzy red, white and blue of it.   Nothing about it can be too traditional or too small town.  I like to start the day with a parade—not the fancy ones, but with kind with  kids on their red, white and blue crepe papered bikes,  dogs with bows & Uncle Sam hats being led by cute boys and girls,  the fire trucks & volunteer firemen blowing the siren & throwing candy to everyone.  The 4th of July is hot dogs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, home grown tomatoes and homemade ice cream.   End the day with fireworks and ooohs and aaahhhhs.  Best holiday!

For years I have decorated our yard with flags.   If I can put red, white or blue on it, I do.  And this year was no different . . . except . . .

This year was no different except someone I don’t really know, a Facebook acquaintance, felt it was her duty to inform me that I do not respect the American flag.   Not just once, but three times.  I chose yesterday to ignore it.   I responded once privately (& nicely and respectfully) that her perception was not correct.  I thought that was the end, but this person chose to also make comments publically again during the day.  I said a prayer & ate chocolate.

Not respect the American flag?  Because as it blows in the wind over my flower bed, a corner might touch a raised flower?

Ma’am:    I “respect” the flag because of the freedom it stands for.   I do not salute the flag because of some “Hitler-ish” “I must” respect the flag and someone says I should.   I respect the flag for what it means to me.

I respect the flag because of the veterans in my family.   From my father and uncle to my Vietnam veteran husband and brother-in-law to my nephew now serving.   My father-in-law lost an eye fighting for freedom in a country dear to me, my second home growing up—Korea.  He fittingly died on the 4th of July.    I didn’t grow up in a small town or really any town.   I grew up on military bases where every single day I saw the sacrifices my friends’ families and my own family were making for freedom and what the American flag stands for.   On my way to school (on a U.S. Army bus), we played “hot potato” not as a game, but so we would be prepared to throw a grenade out the window of our bus—because it could happen at any time.

I’ve held the hand of a soldier who was dying and couldn’t make it home from Vietnam, I’ve represented the United States’ teenagers (and the freedom we represent to “be ourselves”) performing with U.S. Army bands and the USO.   My father missed my senior year of high school and my high school graduation because he was in Vietnam.   

My point:  I know what the American flag stands and the freedom it represents.  It means I can go to the church of my choice and openly, without fear, worship and praise my God.   It means I can work and live where I wish, freely coming and going about my day.  And placing it in my yard every year for one day is part of that respect. 

Respect the flag?   Respect the flag less than you?   Many things you might say—but there’s evidently a flag pole in your eye.

Friday, March 4, 2016

City Slickers, Wine Glasses and Canning Jars

A few nights ago I decided I wanted to photograph a Kansas sunset with a wineglass on a fence post.  When a wine glass is filled with a clear liquid, the image in the distance is reflected upside down--making a dramatic photograph.

Our sunsets on the prairie are spectacular.   Bright shades of blues, oranges, corals, pinks and yellows.  Oh, this was going to be awesome!   So, I convinced my husband to jump in the jeep with me and take off for this adventure.   I grabbed my wine glass and a canning jar full of water.

A couple of things I didn't think out:

 First:   I had the wrong type of wine glass.   The globe should be CLEAR.   Mine had "lines" or waves in the glass. 

Second:  Fencepost tops aren't flat.   Some are metal and hollow (luckily I discovered this BEFORE I let go of the wine glass).  Others are metal with cement that mounds on top.  The rest are lumpy.

Nevertheless, I persevered.   I had Dan stop at the perfect hilltop with a beautiful vista and the perfect fence post.   He stayed in the car and played "Candy Crush"--his new obsession on his cell phone.  Stepping out of the jeep and into the tall grass between the road and the fence, I suddenly remembered my friend, Cathy Roberts, saying it was warm enough now for snakes to be out.  And ticks.

As I poured the water into the wine glass from the canning jar, I was able to balance the glass precariously on the top of the post.   Not quite the reflection I was wanting--but a nice effect at any rate.  I decided to move to another post.  I set my camera down on the ground as I turned to retrieve the canning jar and pour the water back into it.   As I poured, I turned and my foot sank into a hole.  My first thought was:


The wine glass went up in the air one way, the canning jar the other--and water down the front of me.

Jumping out quickly & yelling, I grabbed my camera (still dry!!), the wine glass and canning jar with a quarter cup of water left.   Dan was blissfully looking at his phone.   That night when we returned home, he picked up the wine glass from the kitchen counter and said, "Did you know this was cracked?  Wonder how that happened?"  Seriously!

And so, I don't have a lovely wine glass sunset...but probably more appropriately for Kansas--I have a canning jar evening!  Give me some moonshine!


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Advent 2015

December 1
Sometimes I have brilliant ideas.   Most times I have half-baked ideas.  This Christmas I had what I thought was a brilliant idea that, after a few days, made me think it was definitely one of my more half-baked brainstorms.   I decided that I would do a visual Advent Calendar on Facebook.   A photo a day combined with a Bible verse.   I decided to use only Bible verses—no catchy poems, no quotes to bring a tear to your eye—simply Bible verses about the birth of Jesus.  How hard could that be?  I’d taught Sunday School and handled the devotions over the years.   Goodness, I’d even written a Christmas program one year about Mary’s view of the birth.  Piece of cake. 

The first few days were fine.  But I quickly ran through those verses we all know.  Then I got into “hmm, that’s not too interesting” or “that’s not going to go with any photo.”   Next was the dilemma that I couldn’t seem to match the photos in my stash to match the verses I found and so I was taking more photos that still didn’t match anything.   This was becoming a major focus for each day for me.

December 2
What happened?  I read the story of the birth of Christ.  Over and over, one book of the Bible and then another.  Trying to find a photo to match what the verses said to me made me read further and deeper the story that I had heard and lightly read every year of my life.   I found my mind wandering during the days leading up to Christmas as I thought of the characters in this reality story—what did they think?  What did they feel?  Was it cold? Was it warm?  How clean was the stable?   Did Mary cry because there was no familiar woman with her?   Did her back hurt after riding the donkey all day?  Did Joseph, in his frustration to find a place for Mary, get angry or huffy with the innkeepers?   What did the wise men talk about?  What did the shepherds say to each other?  Not deep thoughts—but suddenly they all became very real to me and were subconsciously in my mind every day.

Whether anyone else enjoyed the Advent Calendar, I’m not sure—but it kept me grounded this year.   I was reminded every day of the month of December about the true story of Christmas.   

December 3
I saw a tv interview this week and a lady was explaining WHY she was a Christian.   She said she was CAPTIVATED by the story.   The story that God came down to us as a baby.   Truly—read the story.  May the spirit of God with us CAPTIVATE you. 

Blessings and Merry Christmas!!   --Jolynn

December 4

December 5

December 6 
December 7

December 8
December 9

December 10

December 11

December 12
December 13

December 14

December 15

December 16

December 17

December 18
December 19

December 20

December 21

December 22

December 23

December 24

Merry Christmas!   December 25

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Grandmas and Little Girls

When I was a little girl growing up, I had a favorite place at both of my grandmother’s homes—their bedrooms.  Perhaps because these were places that I wasn’t quite as free to roam and play it made them more fascinating to me.  But each had a special draw.

My Grandma Eva (Dad’s mom), had a large “early American” dresser in her bedroom.  “Hard Rock Maple.”   On top of the dresser was her collection of miniature perfume bottles.  They totally intrigued me.   Although they were empty, their fragrance lingered.   I could stand and smell and arrange those bottles for hours on end.  BUT—the BEST item on her dresser was her jewelry box.   It was a replica of her dresser.  I loved that jewelry box!  I would stand on a stool (a padded “early American” footstool, of course), and touch and hold up and put on every piece of jewelry.   Grandma would, as she was making the bed and straightening the room for the day, tell me about each piece as I would hold them up for her.   Oh, how I wish I could remember those stories.   I now have that jewelry box.   Looking at it now, you might not see how magical it is—but it still fascinates me.   And yes, I have left pieces of Grandma’s jewelry, Grandpa’s doo dads and other memorabilia in that box.

My Grandma Ruby’s (Mom’s mom) bedroom at The Farm held a totally different type of fascination.   When I think about her bedroom, I think of the windows open and the sheer curtains blowing with a hot Kansas breeze.   It was a crowded bedroom with Grandma and Grandpa’s brass bed and Grandma’s “dressing table.”   I would stand on the foot of the brass bed—it has posts and I could “climb” back and forth as Grandma made the bed (“There now, Jolynn, get down—I need to tuck the sheets in”).   Grandma Ruby’s dressing table was a little girl’s wonderland.   It had a bench where you could sit and comb your hair and (if Grandma was downstairs) you could open the drawer and put on her ROUGE! (It came in a little round box with a small powder puff kind of applicator.   How did I think she wouldn’t know I’d been pilfering in her things when I appeared at the dinner table with two very, very red cheeks?    

A few weeks ago, my own granddaughter, Danielle, came to spend the night.   My husband was in our guest bedroom, which is now the home to Grandma Ruby’s dresser and her antique trunk.  Dan called me to see Danielle.   She had found an old “cosmetic” bag/suitcase that I had placed with bits of lace, embroidery and tatted items.   She was engrossed with the latches on the case and the items inside.   She placed a crocheted piece on her head and admired herself in the dresser mirror and peered at her reflection in the case’s old and weathered mirror.     (She has already let us know that the “guest room” is actually HER room—in case we might have other plans for it in the future!).

As Mother’s Day approaches, I am reflecting on how lucky I am to have had not only my Mom in my life, but the gift of two grandmothers who loved me unconditionally and allowed me to have a place in their lives and homes to live out daydreams.   May Danielle have that same sense of wonder and security as she grows up playing at my house, her Grandma Ann’s and Grammy’s houses.

Oh, yes—I have Grandma Ruby’s brass bed now and I still sometimes “walk” across the footboard at the end of the bed just before I tuck in the sheets.

Happy Mother’s Day.   Go make a memory.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Play on, Mom!

In the 4th grade I decided to learn the viola and joined the school orchestra.  That endeavor lasted a year.   While others excelled, I broke strings and learned to make noises that resembled cats dying in an alley rather than beautiful melodies. 

In the 5th grade I decided to switch from orchestra to band.   The cornet was my instrument of choice.  My mother had played the cornet at Bowlegs High (seriously—Bowlegs, Oklahoma).   Evidently she was pretty good, even using the horn my grandparents bought for her at a Seminole, Oklahoma second hand store.  She kept it polished and would occasionally pull it out of its case and play a few notes for us.   Rather than purchase a new horn for me, the cornet was brought out from the closet and became mine for the year.  There was a problem.   Even though Mom could muster up a few notes, it was still old (heavens…it was second hand when Mom got it—now it was “third hand” for me!).   I could barely get a note out of it.   How I even passed band that year, I do not know.   I can’t remember ever being able to play a single song on it.   I gladly returned the horn to my Mother’s possession at the end of the year.  

Eventually the cornet became a decoration in our home.   It sat upon a shelf—a source of entertainment and laughs brought down on family reunions and gatherings.   To try to blow a note could mean almost passing out from the effort.   Only Mom could really play anything that remotely resembled music.   The rest of us could make it sound like a cow needing to be milked at best or someone with bad gastric problems at worst.

Mom’s home was demolished in the May 3, 1999 tornado.   Possessions and memories were swept away with the wind.   Under a wall—a few more dents, not quite as pretty—was the cornet.   Digging more we found muddied photo albums…and the photo of Mom in her Bowlegs High band uniform.  

Play on, Mom!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Moon, the Stars and the Sun . . .

A couple of nights ago there was an eclipse…creating a “blood moon.”   Even though it was a once in a lifetime event, I had decided to just enjoy the photographs from friends and those posting on the internet…and sleep right through it.  I felt, around mid-afternoon, justified in this thinking:  It was cloudy.  It had been decided for me—no moon tonight.   However, the clouds blew away, the stars came out—and then the moon.   Still, bed beckoned…

(Quick side note of explanation:   My husband and I manage a retirement community that includes the amenity of having “live in managers” who respond to emergency calls by the residents.   This is one of the main reasons we do this work—we believe in being there for our residents and having someone that “knows” them be the person that responds to their emergencies.   Last night Dan & I were “on call” or “on duty”…we would be responding to any emergencies).

By 10:30 p.m. I was literally asleep in the bathtub…stumbled into bed and was having the best dream when the alarm sounded around 1:30 a.m.   A call to 9-1-1 brought the firemen and EMT’s to assist a resident and transport him to the hospital (luckily nothing very serious).  This call was followed by another alarm—a burned bag of popcorn set off a smoke detector.  

Two minor emergencies right at the time of the eclipse.   Seemed like a sign from God that I should go outside (Dan just took it as a sign to stumble back to bed).   “Do you want to go see the eclipse, Dan?”  “Not really.”   You get the pic.

(Quick side note again:   On nights that we are “on duty” I keep clothes to pull on in a flash to respond to the e-call.   These are not fashion statements:   my Crocs for shoes, an oversized t-shirt, and crop leggings.   Sometimes colorful socks, sometimes not.   Hopefully I have time to run my fingers through my hair & remember my glasses.   I should come with a warning—I could frighten someone with a heart condition.   I don’t think the firemen would recognize me during the day time with makeup, hair done & real, coordinated, nice clothing).

So, this is the garb I decide to go “check out the moon” in…plus my winter coat because the temperature has dipped to freezing. 

Have you ever tried to put together a project at 2 a.m.?   Your brain isn’t clacking on all the tracks.   First, I can’t find my tripod (discovered it hidden behind the exercise stick to make my arms skinnier that I never use).   Discover that the little base thingy that screws into the base of my camera which then hooks into/locks the camera in place on the tripod is the wrong one for this particular tripod.   Race around the house looking for the other tripod.   Must be in the back of the Jeep.  Debate going to dark parking lot to dig round in the back of the Jeep—cancel that idea.   Find a mini tripod that isn’t very secure, but it is 2:15 a.m. and it now makes sense to use it.   Grab the paparazzi lens (500 mm super-duper-makes-me-look-like-I-know-what-I-am-doing [fake out] lens.   Screw the monopod into paparazzi lens.  Figure out how to adjust monopod and tripod to work together.  Decide I shouldn’t say cuss words and wake up Dan.   He isn’t known for his understanding of my projects in the middle of the night.   Head out to the back “yard” of our community.  

In order to make the wrong tripod/monopod combo work, I had to set the camera contraption up on a round cement table.   By this time the moon is high in the sky.  To get the camera to focus, I ended up having to stabilize the monopod in a flower pot and lay down on the cement bench to get the camera pointed “up” enough.   Remember I’m in my Crocs, crops and pea green winter coat with the fur around the hood.  

Needless to say, my photographs were less than spectacular.   But you know what?   I didn’t care.   The eclipse was simply breathtaking.  

As I sat there, freezing, wondering what that noise was coming from the dark bushes, I also thought of all of my friends who were as crazy as me and up in the middle of the night “shooting the moon.”   I was pretty sure Mark Jackson would be (turns out he was in the dessert getting a good dark sky), Karen Sparks stayed up for some good shots, too.  Who else was looking at the moon?  I started thinking of my friends around the world and it seemed as if they were there with me watching the moon.

“I see the moon, the moon sees me.    God bless the moon, God bless me.”    May the moon shine bright wherever you are and God bless you!