Humble Contributions to the Peoples' History

For the past few years, I’ve been flying over the Chesapeake Bay. This was a route that I frequently drove, so I have photographs of many of these places along the route. I’m always amazed about the flying experience, that I have this incredible opportunity to see the earth from the vantage point of thousands of feet in the air. Sitting in a window seat, I grab my camera to capture the views. I unfold maps, following the coastlines of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia as I attempt to identify the locations below that are familiar to me. Rivers and streams snake across the landscape as the sun reflects the light from the water. The land is divided in a patchwork of shades of green and brown. It’s a perspective that stays with me as the plane returns to the planet

Tangier Island

Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Ocean City, Maryland

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Cape Henlopen, Delaware

Cape Henlopen, Delaware

Weekly Photo Challenge: From Every Angle

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Alexandra, my three-year old great-niece, jumped in the waves as they slapped against the shore, sometimes even knocking her over. Alex held my hand tightly as the anticipation of the rolling force tossed her into the foam. We returned to the blanket to dry off, but almost immediately Alex was off and running along the shoreline, nonstop, her little legs carrying her swiftly across the sand. I said to myself, “This is good exercise for me,” as I shadowed her down the beach.

IMG_1629When I returned home, and thought about our beach run, it occurred to me that I missed something that Alex was experiencing: running with abandon. She didn’t have an exercise goal, she didn’t care how she looked or where she was going, and she selected her own winding path between waves and sand, stopping when a shell or cast-off shovel caught her eye. Alex employs no time restraints, thinking that the running should consist a certain percentage of her time on the beach. There is no time. Adults make everything purposeful, even if we have to invent the purpose.

I realize that we can also run with joy, propelled forward by our own energy. Forget the calorie counting, health benefits and anything else that gives direction to our actions. Just let loose and run joyfully–like a three year-old.

Friday, April 24, Hydra, Greece

The Star Clipper anchored off the coast of Hydra, an island of green rugged hills, barren and wild. The top of the cliffs looked like wonderful places to walk, and I knew then my day would include hike on one of the seaside paths. The crew prepared the tenders for our last view of the ship in full sail. A sailing ship is a work of art–the design, the grace, the elegance as the clipper floats majestically on the sea. The sails fluttered, and the sun lite up the white sails against the blue sky. The crew stood on the bowsprit, while camera buffs in the tender snapped away to keep the memory of the dramatic scene.

I had found a group of friends while on the clipper, and together we stepped down the clattering steps of the gangplank for the ride in the tender to the island. A small bay of the Argosaronic Gulf surrounds Hydra, shaped like an amphitheater.

Donkeys and their escorts lined the wharf area, and from that moment, a donkey obsession possessed me. I took photographs and videos of any donkey that clip-clopped by. I couldn’t help myself . . . where else in the world are donkeys the only means of transport? Laws forbid motorized vehicles on Hydra, making the island a quiet and peaceful place. Continuous steps took us down the alleys and more steps led us back up again. We wandered the narrow cobblestone streets looking in the shop windows.

We turned the corner around to the other side of town and walked to a lovely little café with expansive views of the bay and our Star Clipper outlined against the blue hazy mountains. As I sat down at the table, I felt like I had become part of a painting. Was this real? Was this a dream? It seems so now. We sipped our drinks as we shared stories and wondered at the visual splendor before us.

I  explored the trail that went through the hamlets along the coast. Well-laid gray stones provided the path, and yellow daisies in their finest display gathered on either side of the walkway. I could not believe the beauty of this island, as I came across whitewashed villages, with traditional architectural elements, such as doors in stone walls with vines toppling over wooden arches. Donkeys grazed on grassy knolls and roosters crowed. I came to a pointed arched bridge, and then turned around to walk back along the seaside trail.

My day spent with friends on Hydra was a good day.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Today was a Good Day

When I view guns, the visions that come to me are the imagined stories embedded in the metal. An object shaped into a weapon extinguishes life’s light and holds the memory of someone’s loss–a son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister. We don’t know the history of these guns, but we do know that misery accompanied their journey.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Creepy

The Crystal Ship

Before you slip into unconsciousness
I’d like to have another kiss
Another flashing chance at bliss
Another kiss, another kiss

The days are bright and filled with pain
Enclose me in your gentle rain
The time you ran was too insane
We’ll meet again, we’ll meet again

Oh tell me where your freedom lies
The streets are fields that never die
Deliver me from reasons why
You’d rather cry, I’d rather fly

The crystal ship is being filled
A thousand girls, a thousand thrills
A million ways to spend your time
When we get back, I’ll drop a line

– The Doors, 1967

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Beneath Your Feet

The Philadelphia Photo League sponsored a walk, “Meandering with Mike, West Philly Edition,” and I welcomed this opportunity to add to my other West Philly posts:

A Corner in West Mt. Airy
Joy of Books: Bindlestiff in West Philly
Art Imitating Life

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Stepped off the trolley at 43rd Street, which intersects Clark Park, and on Saturday mornings the farmers’ market brings in fresh produce and other products into West Philly. I purchased a bar of lavender soap, which gave my bag a sweet fragrance every time I opened it.

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We met our leader, Mike Klusek, and fellow photographers at the Green Line Cafe, a neighborhood coffee shop at 43rd and Baltimore Avenue. After bulking up with iced coffee before we began our walk on a very warm summer’s day, we strolled along Baltimore and Springfield Avenues into the Squirrel Hill section, just west of Clark Park.

Painted Ladies

The trolley line, constructed in the late 19th century, brought development to the area, and the three-story, two-unit, Queen Anne style Victorian homes characterized many of the neighborhoods. Architectural features, such as gables, dormers, oriels and porches, and painted decorations on the homes give each their unique character. A conical tent, covered with slate shingles, topped the towers and turrets. A photographer could spend a good deal of time taking pictures of the various elements. As an artist, I especially liked the various color schemes and flourishes above the doorways. No wonder these houses have been titled the painted ladies of American architecture.

We found other architectural styles. Along the street, a series of brick row homes sported a simpler style, and a magnificent stone building, called “The Castle” wrapped around the corner of Springfield and 46th Street.

The temperature climbed to 92 degrees, but a light breeze gave some relief from the heat. Trees shaded the sidewalks, and the colorful crepe myrtles bloomed their festive pinks and purples. Philadelphia calls itself “The City of Arborly Love” and provides a free tree to residents. Residents tend gardens along the front porches giving the passerby a visual delight of color.

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City of Murals

In addition to being a city of trees, Philadelphia is home to more than 3,600 murals. We passed several on our stroll, including this view out a window.

Window Mural

Many windows and doors caught out attention . . . including this one with the lacy curtains.

Lacy Curtains

Community Churches

The Community of Squirrel Hill have pulled together to save the church on the corner of 47th and Kingsessing. The church was just a few days from being demolished when local residents stepped in to prevent the church’s demolition. Designed by the architect, Frank Furness, the church had fallen into disrepair but now is under construction to become two schools.

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Several blocks from this structure, stands one of the most important landmarks in the area, Francis de Sales Roman Catholic Church. Built in 1907 and renovated in 1968, its crowning glory is the tiled Byzantine dome. As I walked into the church a duet practiced at the organ, preparing for a wedding later that afternoon. With the music adding to the experience, a short video captures scenes from the church.

Duet: Lauren Gigliotti and Lou Becht

Pause and Play

We returned to Baltimore Avenue, passing through Cedar Park, pausing to take refreshment at Dock Street and to compare our photo notes.

Dock Street Restaurant

Later in the evening, I returned to Clark Park for their 10th anniversary of Shakespeare productions.The community gathered for the performance of The Winder’s Tale. 

Winter's Tale

The Squirrel Hill neighborhood is a jewel in the West Philadelphia crown. A visitor is treated to architecture that has survived over a hundred years requiring the residents to spend time and money on maintaining the ornate decorative flourishes on these grand Victorian homes and gardens. These efforts preserve the history of the neighborhood and the common good of the community, while giving the wandering photographer the chance to capture these moments.

Before I began posting on the Weekly Challenge, my photographs remained in their digital library, gathering electronic dust. The photo challenge, with the encouragement and suggestions of another photographer, inspire me to go back and take a second look at photos that never made it on a blog page. The challenge also provides an opportunity to view other photographer’s interpretation of the theme, which help to form new artistic approaches to taking pictures. The challenge presents the incentive to look for a photographic opportunity to fit the theme.

Once in a blue moon, I take a photograph of the blue moon, July 31, 2015.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Inspiration

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