Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Snowy Evening in Late December

There is something about snow falling that is calming. We feel the coziness of our homes on a winter's evening. Snow transforms the dullest objects. On any other evening there wouldn't be anything spectacular to   want to photograph some trees, a fence, and a neighbor's shed. So when our dog had a nature call, I had this opportunity to record this scene that would otherwise be common.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Silver Lights at Hubbard Park

Hubbard Park in Meriden, CT. is a city park. The park was landscaped by the Olmsted Brothers, sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect. Mirror Lake is a man-made lake placed in the center of the park.
The City of Meriden celebrates the Christmas Season with the Silver Lights Display. It is free of charge. We walked through the park on Sunday evening. 
We begin our tour with the Skate House. The interior is decorated. 
Here is a peak through some of the windows.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Festive Trees

I do volunteer work at a retirement community in my town. The facility is owned and operated by the Masonic Order. 
The center sponsors a charity event during the Christmas season. It is a silent auction. The residents and departments select themes to decorate Christmas trees. These are displayed in the lobby of the main building. The highest bidder wins the decorations on the tree. 
The best part of Christmas for me when I was younger was putting up a Christmas tree in our home. Our ornaments and lights were stored in my parent's closet. I would open the box when Thanksgiving was over to look at the ornaments. The anticipation for Christmas would begin.
This display of trees is a wonderful sight for tree lovers.
Here are some of the trees that I photographed.
Disney Theme Tree

I named this the Glitter Tree

The Snowflake and Origami Tree

The Elf Tree

The Elf on the Shelf is popular with children  in  the States.  It is based on a book. The Elves magically move through the children's homes, delighting them.

I named this the Wildlife Tree

Friday, December 21, 2012

Traditions Carried On

I went to a local restaurant on Friday to meet a friend. We worked together and both of us have parted from   our career in telecommunications. I knew the restaurant owners are Italian immigrants and that every Christmas season they display their presipio in the restaurant. I brought my compact digital camera to take some photos.

The presipio custom originates in the Napoli region of Italy. The figurines are costumed in eighteenth century fashion and they blend with the nativity figures. It is a depiction of a pastoral life. I have seen a presipio on a larger scale with more intricate detail. I felt cheerful to see this display and appreciate the skill and time of the people who assembled it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Long Absence

I haven't posted anything in my blog for close to two weeks. Some of the reason is related to the tragic shootings at the elementary school in my state, Connecticut. Everyone is saddened by the slaughter of children. I am a substitute teacher in the elementary schools in my location. I've come to know the dedication of the teachers and the students in these schools.
Returning to school on this past Monday was tense. The schools were prepared to deal with children's fears. I was instructed that if any students wanted to talk about the incident I could refer them to the school psychologist and social worker. I had a class of third grade students and there seemed to be no outward signs of anxiety. We did make it a normal day. What made it best for these students was the presence of their teacher at the beginning of the day. Even though she took the day as a personal day she wanted to reassure them that everything would be all right. I admire such dedication.
The victims were between the ages of 6 and 7. I was present in classes  this week with children of the same age group and I looked upon their faces and wondered how capable could a person be to shoot them. The modern explanation of the assailant's motive is based on psychological disorders but it must have seemed evil to the first responders.
I am pleased tonight to know that the children in my town seemed unfazed by the shootings. Their distraction to learn is not caused by anxiety but caused by their anticipation for Christmas and their vacation. The first graders in one class were making ornaments to give their parents. This is the way schools ought to be.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

An Inspirational Source

There can be days when I wish events and circumstances could have been better. I believe that yesterday was one of those days. There were moments during the day when I questioned why am I here? This pertained only to the environment I was in. This wasn't contemplation on the meaning of life. Self-doubts were creeping in about my abilities. I felt like an observer and not a participant. When the opportunity to take control came, I made an error. It could have been so easy to give into the negativity. All of my experiences in this life are determined by my attitude.
So instead of brooding over the days' events I referred to one of my inspirational sources. I always found this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson to be a great way to live with myself.
"Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."
I read this quote several years ago and printed it. I posted it in my work-space to remind me to never carry the day's problems home with me. This printed quote was stored with all of my personal things I brought home . I found a place to display it now.
 Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Memories within the Peel

Whenever I peel a tangerine it rekindles memories as a child. My earliest recollection is of the oil range stove we had in our kitchen. My mother peeled the tangerine and placed the peelings on top of the hot plate. The zest of the peel would singe and it produced the sweetest smell. When the oil range stove was replaced with a gas stove, my mother attempted to recreate that smell again. She placed the peels in a pie plate and placed it over the blue flame. It just didn't replicate the same results. I probably couldn't produce the same effect on our electric stove. It can only be a childhood memory of a mother showing her son what discarded tangerine peels can do.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

I lived in the Greater New Haven area all my life and always appreciated the easy access to the richness of Yale University. The university's galleries and theaters provide cultural enrichment to the public. 
I went recently to the Art Gallery and was amazed by the collection. I went to view the Modern and Contemporary Art displays. The Gallery has some notable works of Art by renown artists like Picasso, Muro, and Dali. Although this gallery cannot compare to the size and collections displayed at the MOMA in New York City, the time and cost of gas to travel to downtown New Haven makes it an affordable day for enrichment.

I became focused on the structure of the building more than the collections. The west wall's design of windows captured my interest. The windows reflect the building across the street. As you can see it was a beautiful Fall day.
Windows of the west wall of Yale's Art Gallery.
The Gallery's windows are shaded to block damaging sunlight. The screens are thin enough to view the buildings surrounding the gallery. The campus is a blend of architectural styles as can be seen through this caption . Most of the buildings are in the Gothic style. When I was younger I viewed this buildings as replicas of European universities. Maybe it spurred my interest in Western Civilization and a desire to travel abroad.
View of Courtyard from Gallery's north side.
There is only a restriction on flash photography. I kept checking my ISO and aperture settings so that I could photograph the interior. This wing of the gallery impressed me greatly. Here is my capture of the spaciousness.
When I walked to column where the guard is standing there are a bay of windows to the right. The sunlight formed this pattern on the floor. The Art Gallery itself is a combination of styles. I was now in the original building of the gallery.I could not go past this point because construction work is being done on a new wing that will house American Art. The wing will open on 12-12-12. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Attempt to Record What I See

When I awakened this morning there was fog and everything was covered in frost. I looked out my kitchen window and saw the sunlight shining through the fog. Here was an attempt to photograph this soft light coming through the trees. I had to position myself in order to block out the direct sunlight so I angled my camera with the tree on the left to shield it. There are three images taken of these trees and this is the one that I chose because there are two trees creating a border on both sides of it.
I do my photography in Camera RAW so that I can build upon the image. It did take a few minutes of post processing in Elements to achieve the closest to what I wanted to show. The original image is in color but to me it seems to work best in black and white. You can faintly see the house in the background. This was my first attempt to capture this light.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Veteran's Day Celebration

Cheshire is the only school district in our state that remained open today. Veteran's Day is observed on November 11 but because it occurred on a Sunday, the holiday observation is today. The school district believed that it is better to observe the meaning of the holiday while school is in session.

This school community organized a great celebration today.The fifth grade classes sang our national anthem and the third grade classes sang a patriotic song, My Country, 'Tis of Thee. Nineteen veterans were invited as guests. The school hosted a breakfast for them before the ceremony.

A panel of three veterans spoke about their experiences and answered questions from the students. There was a Vietnam Era vet, a lieutenant colonel who served in Iraq, and a sergeant who recently served in Afghanistan. All  of them spoke about life-long bonds  formed with their comrades. The Vietnam vet told the students that war isn't pretty. This holiday's intent is not to glorify war but to recognize the dedication to service. If these students were at home what would they be doing? Playing Call to Duty on X-Box? Cheshire Public Schools decided best.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

First Came Sandy Then Came Athena

Weather Channel is naming Winter Storms.
Our first storm is Athena.

Measurement of snowfall recorded  at our house.

The initial forecast for the nor'easter predicted 
1 inch to 2 inch coating on the grassy areas only.
The actual measurement of snowfall in Wallingford
was 10 inches. I measured the snow on top of our picnic
table this afternoon. The temperature is rising and melting 
has started.  The temps by Saturday will be back in the 50s.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Minor Effects of Sandy

This video was taken last Monday, October 29th. My intent on sharing this video is to show how menacing are these trees . Fortunately, they didn't topple. We only lost power for four hours. Yes, we were spared but when you view the catastrophic damage of the Jersey Shore and see videos of people picking food out of dumpsters, it brings to mind how powerless we all can be. Another storm is heading up the coast for Wednesday into Thursday with high winds. Here we go again!