WordPress Photo Challenge: Achievement

Although late to this challenge, I believe I met it well. The challenge reads, in part, “This week, show us a photo that says “achievement” to you: people meeting a long-worked-for goal. Something tangible you’ve created. A view from a journey you’ve completed, or the stating point of a journey not yet made or a project you hope to finish. We look forward to being inspired!”

I snapped the photo posted below in June or this year at my son’s karate tournament in our hometown – Vernon, New Jersey.  It sings achievement.

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photo by S. Thomas Summers

 

Waiting Room

Waiting – most feel it’s waste of time: on line at Starbuck’s, in an uncomfortable chair at the dentist’s office, in the bleachers during your kid’s soccer practice. All tis a waste of time. But it’s not.

I’ve discovered and continue to discover that the odd intervals of slow time are vital to me. Each provide me with a small oasis of thought, a brief Eden when I can create, imagine, wonder, ponder, and explore.

Often, at my son’s karate practice, I write. I add to my novel. I record a journal entry. Sometimes, I even create a blog post. Sitting in commuter traffic, I escape by allowing my imagination to step ahead for me. I grapple with goblins who camp within the wood to the right of the roaWilliam Blaked or play chess with a kindly troll who generally prefers solitude, but will open his oaken door to me.

The poet William Blake “focused his creative efforts beyond the five senses, for, If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.—from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell written between 1790-93.”

“Young William was prone to fantastic visions, including seeing God, and angels in a tree. He would later claim that he had regular conversations with his deceased brother Robert. It was soon apparent that Blake’s internal world of imagination would be a prime motivator throughout his life.”

Today, look out a window and let your mind wander. Cleanse your doors of perceptions. Just wait. You may discover some magic.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Minimalist

An artfully executed minimalist photograph is anything but mundane. It illustrates a moment in time, or an artistic perspective, with simplicity and grace.

Minimalist photography is characterized by a large portion of negative space, a fairly monochromatic color palette with good contrast, and an interesting subject that is able to stand on its own to capture the interest of the viewer. At first thought, it may seem like it would be easy to shoot an engaging minimalist photograph, when indeed it can often be the opposite. A minimalist photo can also effectively tell a story, in spite of its relative simplicity, and it is anything but “plain”.

In this week’s challenge, show us your minimalist photos. Find an interesting texture, color, or silhouette. Maybe there is a story that you can tell with your minimalist photo. Try an interesting angle with your composition to turn a traditional scene into a minimalist one, by eliminating as much of the extra detail in the background as possible. Make sure you’ve got good contrast, and your focus is nailed on the part of the photo that is telling the story, such as the tiny hand in the photo above.

Remember, minimalist doesn’t equate to mundane. Sometimes the simplest photographs make the boldest statements.

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Here’s my effort. It failed to perfectly follow the instructions posted above, but… Does it work?

photo by S. Thomas Summers

Of Feasts and Ogres

I recently read an article about mythology’s monsters: Polyphemus, the minotaur, Medusa, etc. That article got me thinkin’.

Here’s part one of a story that’s not yet finished.

The festival has begun. The courtyard before the mayor’s home swells with the smell of it. Wild boars roast on spits that slowly turn over fires almost too hot to approach. Wine makers offer small cups filled with their labors. Sampling far too much of their own diligence, they always happy. Children dart from table to table hoping that each will offer a more coveted treasure than the last. Cheerful songs rise from the instruments of wandering minstrels, music that mingles with the delicate chips of sparrows. The air is brisk, chilled by the cool nights of a young autumn. All is grand! All is grand! But the ogre… There, do you see it? Placing his wares, small wooden figurines, most likely carved by his own hand, on a table resting in the shadow of a tall oak rising from the courtyard’s center.

An ogre!!!!

A Second Hand Story

I posted this poem months ago and thought, as a chill drapes Northern New Jersey, I’d post it again. Yes, it’s cold!

The poem takes its inspiration from dwarven songs JRR Tolkien penned for his novel The Hobbit.

 

The pine boughs bend
with winter’s snow;
beneath their reach
cold darkness folds.

The forest’s heart
so deep, unseen -
where eye and fang
are sharp and keen,

but take this step
toward the unknown.
The cold, dark waits
for I’m its own.

 

 

WordPress Photo Challenge: Descent

This week, the WordPress Photo Challenge is titled Descent. Simply stated, WordPress wants all takes to our interpretation of descent. This photo was taken last October so I thought it well suited for this time of year. And, perhaps it’s difficult to notice, the grassy hills is actually a grassy slope, a descent.

I’ll post more soon. I’ve been busy. Who isn’t?

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photo by S. Thomas Summers

Bloody Bill Breathes His Last

Bloody Bill Anderson

William T. Anderson, better known as Bloody Bill, was one of the deadliest and most brutal pro‑Confederate guerrilla leaders in the American Civil War. Anderson led a band that targeted Union loyalists and Federal soldiers in Missouri and Kansas. On this day in 1864, Bloody Bill was killed in a Union ambush. A more complete account of Bloody Bill’s life and death can be read here.

My first two books, both stories of the American Civil War, led me to toward an interest in the Old West: gunslingers and bandits, gold rushes and sheriffs. Particularly, I developed an interest in the outlaw Jesse James. My interest was keen enough to start writing a book about the blue-eyed-killer. Jesse knew and rode with Bloody Bill. Posted below is a piece from my book, a piece that, in a round about way, describes Bloody Bill. In the poem, Bloody Bill asks my narrator about a youngin’ Jesse James. Here’s my narrator’s colloquial description of that encounter.

Me and Bloody Bill

I didn’t tell ya yet, but one fella that rode
with us, and Quantrill, was the meanest cuss
I ever did meet. He’d sooner cut some flesh
off your bones and fry it up for bacon
rather than walk an extra step and do the same
to a swine born for bacon slicin’.
He came to me once askin’ ‘bout Jesse,
‘bout how good Jesse was at killin’.
By that time, most knew that Jesse
was Frank’s brother, but they didn’t
talk about it none. Bloody Bill didn’t care
what Jesse’s name was. He just liked
how Jesse’s bullets flew from his gun.
They always seemed to hit what they
was searchin’ for – every time.

That friend of yours, with the blue eyes.
He can shoot. Think he can shoot some more?
I got some ideas for him and me.
Quantrill’s goin ’soft and  it’s time to fill
some Yanks up with holes and bullets, bullets and holes.
And I mean lots of bullets and holes.

I says I reckon he could do that, Mr. Anderson.
I called him mister cause he scared me
and sure enough I was smart to be scared.