Sand. What is it made of? Not a a question that comes up that often in the Midwest in early December, and beside, we all know the answer anyway. Sand is made of very small bits of rock. Not always so, apparently.Some sand is made of tiny fossils: creatures and corals of long ago seas, turned to stone, almost invisible unless you put them under a microscope. In this image the sample was magnified 250 times. I have no idea if it was tweaked and picked over to maximize the number of fossils in the field of view– I suspect it was. But it’s a pleasant thought, to think that there is a beach somewhere where the sand would look like this if you could only see it close up.
This is one of the prettiest things I’ve seen in a long time, and it definitely should cheer you up if you, like me, have been under the weather. (Back to the scanner tomorrow.)
(Remember how I said I was going to get the “best of” series caught up with the real drawing of the day by the end of November? Neither do I. I don’t think I actually ever said it, but I was thinking it pretty loud. And if I post one today and one tomorrow, I will accomplish the task and be only one day late. Pretty good for a self imposed deadline that I never told anybody about. Anyway …)A family group in my sketchbook world almost always consists of at least three characters: an Adult, a Child and a Horrible Creature. What this says about my view of the family is a deeper issue than can be dealt with in a blog post, though I am sure it has more to do with my own childhood longings for the perfect pet than anything else. Now that I have spent years living with some imperfect but pretty darn amazing dogs, you can always assume that the Horrible Creature is actually a corgi in disguise. (Anyone who doesn’t think that a good dog is also a Horrible Creature has never had a dog.)
The distinction between a Horrible Creature and a Mysterious Animal is vague at best. Most, but not all, Horrible Creatures are also Mysterious, and many Mysterious Animals are at least somewhat Horrible. The Animals with the Black Ears, such as Josef, are always both Horrible and Mysterious. This specimen is Horrible but not particularly Mysterious: it is looking us straight in the eye and we probably have a pretty good idea what it is thinking.
And once again, it has begun to snow. As always, if the snow bothers you, please let me know. I sort of like it, but if general opinion is strongly against it I have the power to turn it off. If only that worked in the real world.
I don’t know if it’s something you would wear to go shopping at a Black Friday sale, or whether it’s something you would buy at a Black Friday sale, but everybody looks great in a Wolf Hat. Plus it keeps you warm on a chilly November day. But don’t wear it while shopping in front of your home computer on Cyber Monday. You will look like a bit of an idiot.
It happened late this year, but today was Thanksgiving Day in the US. For those not familiar with the holiday, it has grand ambitions as a festival of harvest gratitude, but is general celebrated in a humbler way by gathering with family and friends and overeating. I attended the festivities at M’s, where the feast included traditional elements like roast beef, roast turkey, and green bean casserole.
There were also ample desserts and sweets (cherry pie …) but by the time we got to that point I was slightly groggy and not inclined to remember I even had a blog, much less take pictures for it.
The youngest guest, age two, sitting in her aunt’s lap and surveying the crowd of guests and the rather amazing selection of food, asked “where’s my birthday cake?” To all my American readers, here’s hoping you too had a holiday that seemed to be designed for you personally. The rest of you, as far as I’m concerned, are entitled to one lavish meal of your choice, guilt free.
Well, it’s not my junkyard, it’s Bud’s junkyard, but that’s not the point. If you go to Kekionga Salvage, this is what you’ll find in the point of sale shack tucked against the back wall of the main yard. It started off as a converted trailer, but that was a long time ago and it has grown by accretion rather like a coral reef. The door to Bud’s cabin actually goes through the wall, while the door to the Stock Room opens onto a space that’s rather larger than it ought to be according to standard physics. The coffee is better than you might expect. The machine is a plain old Mr. Coffee, no cup packs, so Bud hopes you like Sumatra, or sometimes Kona for a change of pace. He makes it, you drink it. Or not. It’s all the same to Bud. If you want something in it, you have your choice of sugar or non dairy creamer. No Equal.Looking back on this afternoon’s efforts, it seems odd to me that I’ve never made even a sketch map of the shack before. Maybe that’s because I know it so well. I’ve spent hours sitting in the sun on those plain pine front steps with my dogs at my feet and Anpu beside me, talking history and philosophy while he leans on the wall and blows smoke rings into the empty sky. And there’s no better place to while away a rainy afternoon than on that hard wooden bench in the corner, doodling in your sketchbook and listening to the coelacanth’s nonsense.
I don’t know what I ate, but I am not going to eat it again and that’s all I have to say about that. Leafing through Tumblr picture files is more even more fun than junk TV on a sick day, and I found this image particularly evocative.
I love Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, but always thought the Polar Wastes was a bad place for it. A little research shows that it moves around a bit, from “a mountain outside Metropolis” to the Arctic to the Andes, to the Amazon of all places. Regardless, I think a Fortress of Solitude only works if there are potential nosy neighbors nearby. Solitude’s no fun if there’s not somebody to be solitary from. My personal Fortress of Solitude is on the roof of the world, somewhere high in the Himalayas. A serious guy like Superman would enjoy the occasional conversation with a nearby lama or wise hermit, and nothing gives scale to the craggy mountain vista outside your front window better than a passing pack train of yaks.
Since I was shopping for a camera bag yesterday, among other things, I had the Monster with its biggest lens (the Pentax 50-200mm WR zoom) mounted up with me when I went into the local big box outdoor store. I wasn’t going to miss out on a chance to practice my long distance shooting on some animal subjects that weren’t going to run away, or indeed move at all. The disadvantage was low light– actual live wild animals are usually outside, so 3200 and 6400 ISOs are not usually necessary. But the results are plenty good enough for the web. I have a feeling real wildlife photographers have a slightly tougher time finding and approaching their subjects.
Whatever kind of pictures you like to shoot, you will almost certainly enjoy reading Roger Cicala’s photographer’s version of Ambrose Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary here.
Where was I yesterday?
If you’re a fan of fonts or flat pack furniture, I’m sure you can guess. Whether or not you like the store or its stock, you have to admire those gorgeous Nordic capital letters. I personally love IKEA, not so much for the furniture, but for the cheap glassware and good small lamps, the meatballs, and the names they give their products. For extra fun, plug these words into IKEA’s website and find out what items these actually are. (To get you started, EKTORP is a sofa.)
Two IKEA hints: do not go there late in the day on Saturday or they may be out of meatballs in the restaurant. This is a travesty, particularly since there are bags and bags of frozen meatballs in the food shop. Go thaw some meatballs, people. And if you weigh more than about 110 pounds, do not sit on any chair that costs less than $20. Especially if it has wheels on it.
(All images from photos taken with my iPod Touch and cropped in the device with the native software. All the weird colors and angles come from lighting changes, differences in cropping scale, and the difficulties of shooting things where you find them with a fixed wide angle lens.)
While the events of earlier perk along in my mind, and the iPod is on the charger so I can eventually get the pictures out, let’s prowl through the cartoonist’s faithful notebook to find an idea for today’s post.
“Kids, Corvette, Lola!” There’s a cryptic note for you, but it’s all I need to remember the story. There was an autumn day when I was out shooting with the big camera and found myself walking toward the local convenience store at the same time as a large chunk of the student body of the nearby middle school. A sleek middle aged couple drove by in a beautifully restored red vintage Corvette, and a whole pack of giggling middle schoolers shouted gleefully after them “Lola! Lola!”. Sleek middle aged couple was profoundly confused, but I got the joke.
I’m still enjoying Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., although as yet the show isn’t everything I want it to be, or everything it easily could be. Some of the characters are growing on me, while others remain annoying and/or in need of recasting. And then there are those that were cast in the only possible way, like Lola and her owner.