A Tribute to the Queen

A Tribute to the Queen

The date; Monday, June 12, 2017.  Place, London. Event; The Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace.  Got there early to get our spot at the gates. Found a square on the pavement to perch ourselves, and peer through the bars.  Early, we arrived.  We had to stay put and hold on tight or others would come and try to usurp our position. The tourists flocked from all corners of London, to line up at the entrance of the Palace.  I chose to allow a few small children to stand in my place.  A cumbersome woman barged in, blocking their angled view to the inside.  I told her she was taking the children’s space.  She left.

The process of the event, from beginning to end, enraptured my spirit; the ongoing arrival of spectators, fueled by a desire to watch the colorful fanfare, the marching and playing of the Palace band.  Otherwise, the procedure was quite tiresome and boring, and a bit puzzling that so many would come and stand in the heat and humidity, for what felt like an eternity.  Yet, the allure and will to pay respect to the Queen and the Crown, she so regally bears, took precedent.  People from around the globe stood and looked on, and when it was all over the multitudes meandered away, as if nothing happened at all.  If I never see another changing of the guard, I will not care, but I will say, “Long Live the Queen!”

 

Generator

Generator LondonWhy do some places just pop out at me?  Can’t be sure, but this is one of them.  On a street in North London, I found this incredibly intriguing doorway.  It’s so electrical!  The name on the entrance called my attention and then I go to looking at the whole scene.  The decoration over the top and down the sides is in the shape of coils.  Above are seen sharp little spikes.  I would call this classically contemporary.  Quite benign and unique!

On the road again

 

Traveling is an adventure.  When you have a destination in mind the getting there can be wrought with interesting sights, such as these urban landscapes.  The living spaces stacked upon one another in the apartment building of the Bronx seems an inhumane way of existence.  Growing up in a small midwestern town, I was amazed when I went away to college and met people who actually grew up in New York City.  Their way of life fascinated me and my social mind wanted to know the ins and outs of their daily lives.  The image recalls stories I found in books my mother brought home for me when I was in High School, like “Manchild in a Promised Land,” by Claude Brown.  It was about the struggle for one young man trying to make something of himself, amidst the violence and adverse living conditions in Harlem.  A fight imposed upon an adolescent like myself, for the simple reason he was black.  I admired his persistence and desire to be something other than a casualty in the street.  Memories of the past, and experience in the present converge. I was inspired to take these photographs, while our car sped along the interstate on the way to JFK.

Lesson in Fishing

When my son was a little boy, I thought I had to teach him how to fish, because every boy needs to know this. I knew nothing about the sport, but I went out anyway, and bought fishing equipment for our next big camping trip. Upon arrival, at dusk, in Maine somewhere, out to the dock we went. With his nifty fishing hat, dungaree vest, and fishing poll in hand, I told him to stand at the end of the dock, and cast the line. The next thing I knew, he had fallen into the lake, not sure how. I hope he learned a lesson, and that this is not the last time, he will ever fish.

If you come back someday.

I am the forest
I am the forest.

The day is waiting!  Dawn passed before I awoke, and the sun is getting too bright for comfort.  Alas, one mustn’t begrudge the sunshine, though there is nothing like a rainy day to set thoughts in motion.

Having awakened with a clean slate, alongside one of many chores, and things to do, I ask, “Which will prevail?  Meandering my way through unprescribed discovery, or following the rule of accomplishment, and purpose?”  Balance is the prudent course.

To open the day, here is a poem by a Finnish artist, named Eeva Lisa Manner (1921-1995).  The title, “ASSIMILATION”

Assimilation that I have travelled. I will show you a way that I have travelled. If you come If you come back some day searching for me do you see how everything shifts a little every moment and becomes less pretentious and more primitive (like pictures drawn by children or early forms of life: the soul’s alphabet) you will come to a warm region it is soft and hazy but then I will no longer be me, but the forest.

St. Paul’s Cathedral, or a Wizard’s Palace?

 

St. Paul’s Cathedral in St. Paul, Minnesota, sits high on a hill, and looms over the city landscape.  In the distance, one can see the the State Capital, which is made of a more luminescent white stone.

The Cathedral is on Summit Avenue, the elegant street of St. Paul, where F. Scott Fitzgerald frequented many a home for social occasions.  At one address, he apparently wrote his first novel, “This Side of Paradise”.  Summit is lined with an array of architectural dreams come true for the wealthy, who moved to St. Paul in the 19th century.  Some homes are more elegant in their beauty, than others.  Adjacent to the Cathedral is the Mansion of James J. Hill, one of the most powerful men in the country, whose wealth was acquired through the railroad business.  He and J.P. Morgan created an empire, and subjugated the worker to such meager wages, that Teddy Roosevelt took the matter into his hands, and shut them down, or so the story goes.  Photographs of the Hill Mansion will follow.

Let it be said, however, that Mrs. Hill, an industrious, highly organized housewife, and fervent Catholic, felt right at home with the Cathedral in plain view, sitting outside her front door.  True to the Catholic tradition, she and James grew a large family, of ten children, and today, there are still many heirs to the family wealth.

On a personal note, this is the first time I stepped foot into the Cathedral, although, as a child, I remember marveling at it’s grandeur every time our family went into the Twin Cities, to visit Uncle Johnny and Aunt Betty.  Until now, it was always a fantasy vision, which took me to fictional places in my mind.  It reminded me of a palace, where a wizard would live, and if you ever got the chance to visit, he would give you anything you wanted, and make your dreams come true.

 

James Joyce “The Dubliners”

A reading of “The Dubliners” will make you marvel at James Joyce’s poetic prose and caricature of various personages as they roam through the streets of this city.  It makes one want to get on a plane and go to Ireland.  I downloaded these stories gratis on my iphone with ibooks.  Since I always have my phone I am never without a good story to keep me company.

A thing of the past

RPR in 1st car – 1917

Why do people chase down their ancestors, pouring through letters and documents with frayed edges, faded ink on sheets of paper which crumble in your hands  and between your fingers?  I guess the answer is in the question.  As we strive  for a paperless society, documents become exceedingly inaccessible, buried in forgotten computer files, the World Wide Web, the Cloud, or Google docs and PhotoShop.  Our memory is also buried in these files – gone! – and the danger of obliterating the personal handwritten accounts which affirm the history of our ancestry, becomes more and more imminent.  Long gone is the autograph book and rapidly disappearing is the hand written letter and journal as witnesses of times past. Whatever primary sources resurface in twenty-five, fifty or seventy five years, will certainly be an anomaly, if they exist at all.

Our pursuit of knowledge and wonder are no longer driven by hiking on trails through wooded hills, along running brooks, or on cobblestone streets in historic towns, villages and countries, but rather, through endless hours with our eyes pasted to a computer screen.  Perhaps the advent of the iThis and iThat, and the capability to transmit and receive information instantly through time and space is our way of staying in tune as we are constantly on the move, whether it’s sitting in a chair in our living room or in the seat of a train.  Yet we need not remember a thing, because all information is at our fingertips through technology, and although we are seemingly more cerebral and introverted in our social exchanges, we pursue, record and process information at a faster pace than we ever did before – only to be forgotten.

We are living in an era of heightened individualism and guarded privacy which has made us less sociable face to face, more suspicious, paranoid and worried about what one knows about us and if it is really an apt description of who we are.  In this state of agitation we are unable  to shift our consciousness into a true state of Carp Diem, or in other words, lose ourselves completely in a moment  of time, in the beauty of a poem, the shapes and forms of a painting, or in the seconds at dusk and dawn when the buds of a flower open and close.

As the Age of Technology spins out of control what legacy will we be leaving for our children which our foremothers and fathers have left for us?  I for one find myself sucked into this technology and forever striving to keep up and constantly learning how to use it – dependent  on the keyboard for my social interaction and to satisfy my wonder and pursuit of information. Yet, I am weary and discerning of the lack of reality and authenticity of technology and unsatisfied with the information it has to offer. I am afraid the layers of facts, or facts posing as the truth which are deeply buried in my computer will be quickly forgotten when I turn off the switch. Yet I am happy to know that this information will never compare with the real photographs, authentic documents and letters which I hold in my hand.  I consider myself fortunate and at the same time saddened to have these papers at my fingertips because I realize that their production is a thing of the past.

American Battle Monuments: Normandy, Brittany and Pointe du Hoc

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

These are a few of the photographs I took when we visited the Normandy and Brittany American Cemeteries this summer.  These two cemeteries are on French soil but their maintenance and care are under the American Battle Monuments Commission – http://www.abmc.gov.  Pointe du Hoc is along the coast overlooking cliffs which the Allied Forces climbed, only to be met by fierce German reinforcements on June 6, 1944 or DDay.  Only 90 U.S. Rangers remained from the Pointe du Hoc assault after 2 days of fighting.  The visit to these cemeteries is an emotional experience.  One can’t help but wonder about the pain and suffering of the soldiers and the courage it took to climb those cliffs.  There are maps among the slides, which illustrate the beaches where the Allied attacks by fleets of U.S., British and Canadian divisions took place.  The Allied Forces battled the Germans throughout Normandy, with the help of French and Polish units, for the next 3 months

The Normandy cemetery overlooks the coastline of Omaha Beach.  On our return to Rennes, the capital of the region of Brittany, we happened upon the Brittany cemetery. It is much smaller and quainter than the Normandy cemetery.  The grounds are beautifully kept with gardens, hedges and large trees.  Both cemeteries have nondenominational chapels.  I hope you enjoy the slides.