Seeing with Aaron & Andy.

Acclaimed Artist and Photographer, Aaron Siskind, once said this:

“We look at the world and see what we have learned to believe is there. We have been conditioned to expect… but, as photographers, we must learn to relax our beliefs.”

This reflection goes WAY beyond photography…..

If you take a moment, and consider it, there is a very powerful concept within.

We look at the world… and see what we have learned to believe is there. We have been conditioned to expect.

Just knock me off my chair… this is probably one of my all-time favorite quotations in that little Ziploc Baggie of observances I carry around.

One person who has a firm grasp on this concept is Andy Rooney. I like that guy. Whether one agrees with him or not, the man has made some amazing observations. He sets aside all else, and looks at things with a fresh and contemplative mind. Still. At 92 years of age. He has a keen sense of curiosity. I am betting it has gotten him in some trouble over the years.

Most of you have heard…..he’s scrunching up his fuzzy eyebrows for the last time. Yep, this Sunday, he is giving his final commentary on 60 Minutes. I’m going to miss that old curmudgeon and his elucidations.

He has offered so many outstanding and visionary thoughts.

“Nothing in fine print is ever good news.”

“I’ve learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.”

“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person”

“I’ve learned that no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.”

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.”

“If you smile when you are alone, then you really mean it.”

“People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe.”

Funny. I think that last one is what Siskind was saying…..

The thrill of adventure…

It seems that at this point in my life…. I am a lot of different things.  Certain people have some very unique names for me, at times.

But, I know for positively, absolutely, sure… one thing I am NOT…. is a tree, plant, and flower aficionado. Not even close.

I marvel at the people who know it, and know it well.

But for me… every walk around our property becomes an exploration and naming adventure. It is quite exciting, really.  However, while it is a truly joyous occasion on a personal level, I suspect that those people I am walking with…. may become….  annoyed from time to time.    Yet… I press on.

Why, just tonight, nature abounded.   I saw a batch of…. what I call…. The Midwestern Shiny Berry Bushes. We passed some Queen June’s Bobbins. The back prairie was filled with Yellow Fleece Stalks. And of course, one of my favorites are the Whacky-Doodle Balls on a Stick.

Nature. The Final Frontier. Don’t leave home without it.

“Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.”
– Albert Einstein

Gone to the dogs.

The eleven o’ clock news is on. The headlines reveal one devastating report after another. Yes.  Many bad things happening.

Robberies. Scams. Murder. Car wrecks. Illness. Destruction. Loss.

Not only that…. but it seems there is an awful lot of hate in the world.  A lot.

And just when you start to feel a sense of despair and despondency sinking in…. a little dog comes along… … …. rests a scruffy chin on your hand, and a paw on your arm… then looks you right square in the eye. She offers her comforting best.  There is a tremendous moment of connection. This remarkable display of communication takes place in a golden silence….

And then, she leaps down, chases her tail a few times…. careens across the room,  grabs her squeaky duck… shakes it relentlessly….and bites the beak and wings off.

Life is beautiful.  Just beautiful.

The Bug Stops Here.

Dear Polly,

I just want to know one thing. How come you are always putting up pictures of bugs?

Enough already. Please.
Come up with something new.

You are bugging me
Hartford, Connecticut


Dear You are bugging me,

First of all thanks for reading. Can I call you Bugsy for short? Secondly Bugsy, thanks for paying attention. Just last week I had an email from a guy in Boise, Idaho saying how cool he thought the “blog” was and thanked me for the photo of the UFO. I was glad he thought Project 368 was cool… but the thing is… I hadn’t posted any photos of UFOs. So, Bugsy, I am glad you are getting your facts mostly straight.

Mostly. Fact of the matter is, I don’t “always” feature bugs. I just do it very often.

I can almost hearing you asking from afar……”Why so often THEN?”   Well, as it is…. I live out in the country. We have lots of cool bugs out here in the wide open yonder. But you see Bugsy…. we ALL have lots of bugs EVERYWHERE.   In the world, some 900 thousand different kinds of living insects are known. This representation approximates 80 percent of the world’s species. At any time, it is estimated that there are some 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) individual insects alive. (Encyclopedia Smithsonian)

So… it is very difficult for me NOT to notice them. We are talking TEN quintillion. That’s a lot little critters.  I mean……just look at all them zeros.

And the thing of it is… bugs are pretty interesting, once you get to know them.

Like this group, pictured above.  I saw them just today.  And, I hollered down to those small bugs..

“Hey little fellas. Whatcha’ doin’ down there?”   To which they replied…

“We are trying to build a pyramid. What’s it look like?”

“Well, now that you mention it… yes, a pyramid.   How come?” I asked.

“This is a seminar on “Putting Trust in your Peers at the Workplace”…. and we are doing a Teambuilding Activity.”

“Oh.” I say. “What’s with the little black dots?”

“It is poop, you idiot. We wouldn’t poop right in the middle of class….. we go out on the edges….. you ignoramus giant human face. Now leave us alone. Go find a UFO or something.”

So Bugsy. As you can see… insects can teach us a lot.
1. Teamwork is good.
2. Don’t poop on your own team.
3. Pyramid schemes really do work.

Thanks for reading,
Yours truly,

That little bird told me…

Some days… you wake up with a spring in your step… a song on the tip of your tongue… that happy-go-lucky tattoo on your chest…. footloose-and-fancy-free.

There are other days when you feel like a truck just ran over you… the weight of the world landed on your shoulders while you slept… a rain cloud is giving you the tail.

Yes, well…. this morning was NOT either one of those mornings. It fell somewhere in between.

So as I ventured out… I had neither high expectations… nor suspicions of unpromising events.

Two hours later….

As I left Marsh Supermarket, I was nearly run over by a blonde woman, with bright red fingernails, in a two-ton SUV…. working her digits wildly on her cell phone…. sending off that extremely important text message. My guess is… it probably read something like… “OMG AWHFY u BAC… !?”

As she put her hand up to her mouth in an apologetic gesture… the four of us on Marsh’s walkway gave her the “You’re Number ONE sign”…. and guess what….

She went right back to texting. It is hard for me to believe that she beat out 100,000 other sperm….. some thirty years ago.

I am thinking, when her IQ reaches 50,  she should sell.

So back at the ranch, I began to unload the groceries. I left the back door wide open.  It was a  nice morning.  I wanted to let the cool breezes in.

Yowza. That’s not all I let in.

As I unloaded my grocery items:   A wap, wap, wap… whooshes by my head.  And then THUNK. A small bird landed its beak squarely against the bank of windows in our living room.

Oh. Down but not out. As I approached that stunned little bird… Look OUT!  UP… and RIGHT AT ME AGAIN…. a few more laps around the house… the dogs barking in absolute delight… and TWACK… into the face of the microwave oven.  I grabbed a kitchen towel… blanketed that little kamikaze, and moved her outside. I don’t know who’s heart was beating faster.

She was fine. So was I.

The moral of the story…  if your day gives you a turn or two… remember these things:

When you see a distracted blonde woman leave the tattoo parlor … you can bet she has TROUBLE written all over her.

If an angry bird  lands on a door knob….. it will most likely fly off the handle.

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.” – M. Twain

“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” – A. Montagu

Line ’em up…. or… imbricate.

Imbrication…… Overlapping and forming a regular pattern. I like the way this word sounds.

There are so many great words in the English Language. Heck, I bet there are plenty of snappy words in many different languages the whole world round. But, the thing of it is…. I only know English.

And….even that is questionable sometimes.

But I have an entire list of words that I truly think are the bees knees.

One of my favorites is Panacea. Whenever I hear it, I think it sounds like pan of see ya’. The word itself means a solution for all problems… a universal cure. Unfortunately,  I don’t think such a thing truly exists.

I guess if I had to say anything is like a “panacea”….. it would be mayonnaise on white bread.   That helps everything in my book.

I also like the word Nemesis.  I like the way it sounds… and really…… the entire idea of it. “An unconquerable archenemy. ” Again, if I were a super hero, I would have a bad-stinking nemesis. As it is, I just have a few people that can’t really stand the sight of me. Not quite up to the nemesis level….

Plethora is a terrific word. It means large quantity. Tonight, I did not have a plethora of topics to write about.  (I also think this word is pretty close to the noise when someone makes a raspberry… pthhhhhllllloooorrrrraaaaphthhhh.)

Now one that doesn’t sound like what it means is Bucolic. It strikes me as being some kind of a plague.  But, in fact….it means “in a lovely rural setting.”

Another in my top-seeded of words is Gambol. To run and jump around playfully…. to skip or leap about.

So… I guess……tomorrow morning at my house…. in this very bucolic setting… I will eat a plethora of grits. Warm grits are a panacea to all the world’s problems. Not only that… but they cause me to gambol about the room. This fine disposition will assist me in facing any nemesis that may come my way.

Evanescent  means vanishing quickly or lasting a very short time.   My writing here tonight is evanescent.  I gotta’ go now…. I guess that means I shall stir up a pan of see ya’….

It’s not what you know. Or is it?

Tonight we played BezzerWizzer. Nine of us split up for 3 rivaling teams. It could have easily become full-contact BezzerWizzer, but we kept our heads, and our manners about us.

If you don’t know the game…. it is a different spin on Trivia. Trivia with Strategy. Hence the name… BezzerWizzer. Actually, I have no stinking idea what the name of the game really means. On their website… they say it is Danish for Smart Ass.  I think they are yanking us around with that….

But, back to the game at hand….

We had fun. And we had pain. We had to share a collective brain.  Seriously… you put nine fairly intelligent, competitive women, in one room…. and pit them against one another in a contest….  Let’s just say that things have a way of getting interesting.

No matter how it ever goes… win, lose, or draw… one thing is for sure:  I love answering trivia questions. The key word in that phrase is “answering”….. as it isn’t as much fun if you don’t know the fact, figure, person, place or thing.

I didn’t know much tonight.  But I had great teammates.  We Bezzed and Wizzed all over the place, I’ll tell you.

So since I am still in the mood…. here are a few Qs for you. Start with some easy ones, and then we shall roll up our sleeves a fold or two.

1. In J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, what was the name of The Fairy?
2. What kind of hat became popular with children in 1956?
3. What is London’s largest park?
4. What type of leaves does a silkworm feed on?
5. How is Don Diego De La Vega better known?
6. The Stephen King short story “The Body” was later adapted into which film?
7. What is the name of the Yellow Teletubbie?
8. Who was the first Monarch to live in  Buckingham Palace?
9. What Greek mathematician had a cylinder enclosed sphere carved on his gravestone?
10. Holger George Thuesen and Gerald A. Hale designed what device that is now commonly seen on most city streets?
11. If a patient underwent an Orchidectomy, what would they have removed?



Answers:  1. Tinkerbell; 2. Davy Crocket Coon Skin Caps; 3. Hyde Park; 4. Mulberry; 5. Zorro; 6. Stand By Me; 7. La La; 8. Queen Victoria; 9. Archimedes; 10. The Parking Meter;  11. A Testicle.

Bottom line is… Trivia Games go full circle.  For instance….  If you undergo the procedure in question #11… you might end up like the character in question #1.

They’re no dummies…

Today is Jim Henson’s Birthday. Born in 1936…. and he died at the very young age of 53. Now that was ONE talented, gifted, creative human being. Think of the absolute joy that one person brought to so many people…. young and old alike.

I loved Jim Henson, and his Muppets.  My very favorites included Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker, Animal, The Swedish Chef…. so many favorites really. Of the “mainstream Muppets”… I think Grover was probably my front runner.

When it came out in 1982, The Dark Crystal was at the very top of my movie list. (Directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz) I haven’t seen it since then. I wonder if I’d still like it now.

Sesame Street lives on today, as do the Muppets. Ms. Piggy has probably been on Hollywood Squares more times than Florence Henderson or Charo…. all Femme Fatale Legends…

Of course there is Bert and Ernie. Those two Muppet-Dudes lived together for years. Their playful banter was always entertaining.  Rumor has it….. they were recently married in NYC. Finally, after all this time. I wish them the best.

Two other characters I had a proclivity for were the old guys in the balcony. I’m not sure of their names… but they were the funniest of the bunch.  Curmudgeons defined.

And…..then…. there is……


Today, all around the world, kids are gathering in small and large groups alike. They are holding intense discussions on the social impact that Henson & the Muppets have had on generations past…. and how that crew of puppets continue to influence popular culture today.   They are formulating strategic plans to keep the Muppets involved in school curriculums from Kindergarten all the way to College.  Well, tickle me Elmo.

Who knew.

You know……. I’m betting Jim Henson had a sock monkey when he was a kid.  Or imaginary friends… or…. or…  too much Kool-Aid?


Thanks for magic Jim.

“My hope still is to leave the world a bit better than when I got here.”  -Jim Henson


Google’s Doodle is Awesome… go play…. go play……

They say, I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed.

How in the world did wives get tails? This was quite the visual for me when I was a little kid. I thought, one day I was going to wake up, go down to breakfast, and my Mom would be standing with her back to me at the stove…. all clad in some hairy beast of a tail. This frightened me to no end. I can’t even begin to tell you.

Another that troubled me was “Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.” This was just confusing to me. Any monkey? A particular monkey? If you are going to be the uncle of a monkey, it must mean that one of your siblings gave birth to a monkey. Again, this was quite disconcerting.  Mainly because my Dad would say it from time to time.  I wasn’t quite sure what that indicated about me.

Of course, I became quite unhinged, whenever I heard that someone had a frog in his throat.  The very first time I ‘got wind of this’… I nearly threw up.  I became desensitized the more I was exposed to it.

Go figure, but I heard this one a lot…. “Now you just hold your horses young lady.” Goodness. What are these adults talking about? I didn’t have horses.  If I did, how in the heck would you hold one…. like a cat, I presume?  They are huge.   I couldn’t figure it.  Not for the life of me.

Now,  I am not sure why…. but no one ever said this next one directly to me.   However, I heard it aimed at a lot of my friends. “What’s wrong? Cat got your tongue?” What the heck does this mean? How in the world would a cat get anyone’s tongue?  That’s just… just… gross.  To this day…..

These were just a few of my misunderstandings when I was a child.

But tonight…. we’ve really been on a roll, haven’t we?   Yep, Now we are cooking with Crisco. Or… maybe I am sounding like a broken record.  Could be right now, you think I am as dumb as a box of rocks. Or as sharp as a basketball. Needless to say… the writing is on the wall. Or the screen. I guess I better just turn over a new leaf. Or the early bird may get that worm.

Birds of a feather….

I love to laugh.

And, I am prone to do it, just about any where, and at any time. This has caused problems for me in the past. Sometimes things strike me funny at the most inopportune times.

But, when that urge hits me… I have to laugh. Out loud. Whether I am with a large group of people or all by myself. I have been laughing out loud long before it earned its recent popularity as.… LOL.

Today, for instance, I was in the middle of a parking lot, when a band of Canada Geese flew over head. Now, what isn’t to love about that Canada Goose, I’ll tell you.   Oh….I know, I know. Most of the time, they just make big poops around people’s ponds. But in the autumn, they put on their walking boots. Or flying wings. They are quite the busy birds this time of year.

They migrate a long ways too. All the way from northern Canada down to the very southern parts of the United States. They can fly more than 1000 miles in a single day.  That’s a lot.  I mean… I get tired when I drive half that far in one day.

But the thing that makes me laugh is their chatter. They fly overhead just a-honking away.  Now, here is where I crack up… because my imagination soars as high as those geese. What the heck are they honking in their very perfect V formations?  That yammering goes back and forth between them….constantly.

“Hey Alice…. those feathers really make your butt look big. You shouldn’t have eaten that extra slice of Wonder Bread back at that campground.”

Or maybe…. “Joe. Slow down will ya’? Geez.  I think you got us flying in circles.  I am pretty sure that is the same farm we passed 10 minutes ago. Hey!  THAT IS the same farm… dang it.”

Could be…”Perry… BATHROOM BREAK, pllllleeeeaaaase. Can we pull over somewhere?”

What about…”Milly, I think we should have turned left back there.  Serious.”

Perhaps they just flew by a sign that says….”HONK to wish Bobby Jo a Happy Birthday….. she turns 50 today!!!”

Oh, of course I am merely speculating…. yep, I’m just geesing about ALL of this.

So, the next time you see a flock of geese flying overhead… just remember… it is probably not such a good idea to look up.   You see, just 50 geese can produce up to two and a half tons of excrement in one year.  And Perry may not be pulling over anytime soon for that bathroom break.

If you’re happy and you know it… honk your horn….