Prepare to enter a world of both shadow and substance

Take a journey of body, mind and spirit where you'll encounter things you won't find anywhere else.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

That Touch Of Skunk

Dateline: Skunkageddon.

It is hard for me to write these words. Not because I can't think of anything to say, but because of a certain scent in the air. And, no.... it's not the smell of mistletoe from on high. Apparently, a skunk has decided to move into my backyard and take up permanent residence. I smelled him the other night and went out the back door to investigate - only to spot him coming around the corner of the house, a scant five feet away. Needless to say, I beat a hasty retreat back indoors. Well, tonight it seems he let loose with his funky cologne and from the concentration of the odor, it looks like he sprayed the front porch with a heavy dousing. It was so close that it's penetrating into the house even as I compose these words. Here is what the culprit looked like:

Artist's representation

I went online to see if there was any way to rid your house of a skunk and found several suggestions. The only problem seemed to be that everybody had a different suggestion, and that it didn't seem to work for anybody else. So, who do you believe? I think further research is called for. Somebody said mothballs would do the trick. Others suggested that if you boiled vinegar, it would get rid of the smell. I'm going to cut this blog short while I go hunt up some mothballs and heat up the stove.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Of Cabbages And Kings -or- History 101

My mother has always been big on the genealogy of our family, and to a certain extent, so have I. And I know of at least one other relative in my family that has worked extensively to trace our roots. It was "Uncle" Ralph Harrelson who came up with the realization that we were descended from hearty Nordic stock and had, in fact, been Vikings. Now, I don't know about the regular readers of this blog, but I'm mighty proud of my heritage. In fact, for the last census, I registered as a "Viking-American." I figured I'd be the only one to do so, but found out later that there was around 50 other kindred souls who registered the same way. Now the truth can come out.

Tracing our ancestry back, it was found that we were related to the first Viking King to unite all of Norway, and he did so in the year 872. His name? Harald Haarfager. The name "Haarfager" translates to mean "fair hair." Back in those days, sons were named after the father, usually by just tacking on the moniker son to the end of the name. Therefore, one of his relations became known by the name of "Haraldsson." That was the first beginnings of our name in how it looks today - "Harrelson."

Pictured from a 14th century Icelandic manuscript known as Flateyjarbók, you see the young Harald:

Harald receives the kingdom out of his father's hands

Harald's father was named Halfdan the Black and controlled a few areas in the southeast portion of Norway. But it was actually Harald who united all of the country and become it's first true ruler. One fascinating story surrounding Harald happened before he was crowned King. There was a princess he loved and he vowed to never cut his hair until he could have her hand in marriage. This went on for ten years and he became known as Shockhead for awhile. When she finally consented, he had it trimmed and from then on, was known by the more familiar name of Fairhair. As you can see in another picture of Harald, his hair was indeed "fair":

Harald prepares to slay another enemy

Harald ruled his country wisely until he grew old. By then, his favorite son had acquired his own nickname, Eric "Bloodaxe," by killing 7 of his 8 brothers, so he inherited the job of King of Norway. What better person to turn the kingdom over to? Harald lived until the year 933, when he was 84 years old.

The Viking Age lasted until the mid-12th century when, by that time, they had mostly been converted over to Christianity. Their pillaging and plundering way of life became a thing of the past and Vikings settled down to be farmers or herders. I prefer to think that there are still a few of us left out there. And one day, the Vikings will rise again! (Mwaahhaahhaahhaa!)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Think That I Shall Never See

As a photographer, some projects turn out to be more satisfying than others. There is one project that I've been working on for almost 30 years and counting. And each year that passes, it pleases me even more. Let me go back to the beginning.
In 1978, I acquired my first good 35mm slr camera. I loved it and used it a lot. The following year, when Autumn arrived, I happened to use it to take a picture that has become a big part of my life every subsequent year at that same time. Who doesn't like to see the Fall colors arrive, with the leaves turning their rainbow hues? Well, I can't see all the shades, but can certainly tell when the leaves on the trees start turning. That photograph I took in late October 1979 is this tree pictured below:

It turned out to be an epochal event for me. There was just something about that particular tree and location that struck me as being.... right. It's symmetrical relationship with the sky and ground; the sidewalk running lazily alongside it until it disappears in the distance; the tree's look of strength and permanence. All of these things came together for me and made it most memorable. I went back another year and another, until I realized that I had to go back each year at the end of October or when the leaves had turned to their fullest potential and capture this moment in time for posterity. And, I still go back there each year to this day. The fact that it is at the edge of the small town I live in makes it somewhat easier to do, but there have been times when I lived elsewhere and had to drive back home just to get the picture. It has become something special to me when it gets to be time to take this annual picture. I highly anticipate it as soon as the heat of summer breaks and the nights begin to grow cooler. Suffice it to say, it's something I never miss.
Now that it's well into November and I have my shot for 2007 in the can, I can gather up my collection of shots and compare them side by side. And rather than post one here for each year since 1979, I have instead opted to just pick one from every now and then. Enough to show the progression "my" tree has taken through the years. Please scroll down through them and enjoy them like I do!







And lastly, 2007