Sunday, February 22, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #199 - Beauty In The Macro World - Rain Drops On Roses, Anywhere, Any Time

Something a bit different this week for the photo-of-the-week. Well, no, these are not raindrops on roses. They are raindrops on grass blades. It seems, in our busy and complicated world, we so often bypass much of the beauty and peace provided by nature. We are too busy rushing to work, to go shopping, to the kids' school events and athletic activities and so many other activities involving family, friends and others who place demands on our lives that we miss some of the most beautiful and, often, meaningful things all around us.

I titled this photo-of-the-week "Beauty in the Macro World - Rain Drops on Roses" because I took this photo using the macro lens on my digital camera. For the few who may not know what the macro lens is or does, I'll give you my layman's definition. It's a lens or a lens setting that is actually more like a magnifying glass. It actually has a very small magnification factor and sometimes no magnification factor at all. However, it allows one to take very sharp close-up images of tiny objects.

I also said in my title this week that this photo is anywhere and at any time. By that I mean just that. One can take macro photos anywhere and any time, the specific location and time is not readily identifiable by the photo itself. Actually, I took this photo, lying on my stomach (getting a little wet, I might add, but it was worth it) on the brick walk in front of my ranch house (that I left the end of October 2008) of blades of grass with droplets of water still clinging to them. The rain had just stopped and the sun had come out.

Friend, we are looking at something so simple and basic in the photo and yet, in my eye, startlingly beautiful. Sorry it's not roses. I haven't caught that photo, yet. And, of course, the reference is from the lyrics of the song, "My Favorite Things" from the award winning Broadway musical and movie, "The Sound of Music." But, in our fast paced world, how often do you stop and look at the simple beauty of your life and all of the nature around you. Or, do you, grumble and complain about the rainy day, the traffic problems it will cause, having to wear rain gear, your hair getting frizzy and being stressed by getting to work and home late due to the weather delays and all the other jerks on the road who can't drive in rain.

Hey! I know! I was one of those people who complained about that and so many other things. But, looking at the beauty of these droplets of water through a macro lens will hopefully get your attention. Yes! Life throws inconveniences at us and may throw us off schedule. But, take a few moments to stop and smell the roses. Look at the simple beauty in some droplets of water on green blades of grass. You'll live longer and you're life will be so much better.  

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #198 Over the Mountains and Through the Desert, California, December 2014

There is something always intriguing to me about the desert. I'm not sure if it's the desolation, the unique scrub foliage, the vast distances with the mountains you know you'll inevitably reach or all of the above, but I really enjoy driving through the desert.

Sometimes the road is a flat, straight ribbon as far as the eye can see. Other times there are slight rolling hills, as in this photo. Sometimes there is a proliferation of cacti of numerous varieties. Sometimes it's just scrub brush and sage brush. I especially love the desert in the spring when it's in bloom with unique flowers seen only in the desert.

Whatever it is, here is another recent photo from the desert. This time the location is in California between the Colorado River crossing at Parker, Arizona and the southern extremes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. At one point while I was crossing this expanse of desert I came upon a rest area and decided to stop and make lunch and just sit back and soak in the ambiance of this stark, yet beautiful setting. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #197 Mandy's Coffee Shop, Hawthorne, California, January 2015

I love finding local places to eat. Chain restaurants are fine if you want the same food wherever you go, but I've had my share of that fare. So, last year I discovered Dee's Place in Sebring, Florida. This year, welcome to Mandy's Coffee Shop in Hawthorne, California.

Mandy's is a good, old fashion, local coffee shop - diner about two blocks from my son's current residence. It's on Inglewood Avenue. right at the end of his street. It's just the kind of neighborhood place I like to find and try, especially for breakfast.

I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. I went there between normal meal hours, so it was very quiet. The server was an attractive young woman who was friendly and efficient. The prices were very moderate for the meals served.

My meal, as you can see, was ample and properly prepared. Once again, a great find and a delicious meals. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

What Is It Like To Be A Vagabond?

This is a question that is asked all the time to those, like myself, who choose to enjoy the adventure, excitement and educational experiences of life on the road.

While the human species began it's existence as a nomadic creature, over the 100,000 plus years, humans have become, for the most part, a more fixed location, domesticated member of the animal kingdom. However, there are some people who still exhibit that nomadic gene from the beginning of human time on this planet. The nomadic characteristic is evident in both genders.

Recently, I was one of the subjects of a video documentary available on YouTube titled, Ed & The Aberts: Van Dweller and Cargo Conversion. Additionally, after the video footage was shot, but prior to the public release of the documentary, I was a guest, by phone, on WRVC, a Huntington, West Virginia radio station. And, the subject was vagabonding or being a nomad.

While this lifestyle is not something new, people still seem to be fascinated by the concept of such a lifestyle and the people enjoying this alternative lifestyle. It is my opinion that there is a continual growth in the number of people downsizing, minimalizing, economizing and becoming a nomad of their own description. Many, like me, live in a van, utility trailer, old school bus and any number of others RV configurations.

I requested a copy of the radio interview from the station and I present it here for your listening enjoyment and hopefully your enlightenment about, at least, one of the individuals adopting such an alternative lifestyle.

Here is that interview. Just press the play arrow and you'll be able to listen to the program.

What are your thoughts and comments? Are you a nomad? Is this a lifestyle that appeals to you? Why? What's holding you back? If you are already a nomad, what do you like best about it and least about it? Let me know if you see yourself enjoying a location independent, nomadic lifestyle by commenting below.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #196 A Seriously Different Christmas Tree, Los Angeles, California, January 2015

No political correctness here folks. If you're looking for PC, this ain't the place. Thus, behold a SERIOUSLY different Christmas Tree (not a holiday tree or a celebration tree - a Christmas Tree).

Yes, you would be correct in saying it's made completely from books. That's probably because it is located in The Last Book Store in downtown Los Angeles, California.

Now, I eliminated most of my books (though for some completely unknown reason I'm still storing a number of cartons of books, way too many) during my major downsize in 2008. Over prior years I had probably loaned or given away close to as many as I downsized that year. But, I still love wandering through large new bookstores like The Tattered Cover in Denver and used bookstores anywhere I find them. No! As much as I want to buy book (and used to go to large remaindered book sales and leave with bags full), I know I don't have room for them in My McVansion, so I stick with e-books.

The Last Book Store is a fun place and I highly recommend it if you're ever in downtown LA with nothing to do. It's on a corner in what appears to be a huge, old, multi-story bank. Besides considering that there were at least two huge vaults in the building, it just had all the makings and feeling of an old bank dating back, probably from the Art Deco period or before. This photo from the balcony above the main floor should give you an idea of how big this place is.

As you can see, there are stacks and stacks of books. Most appear to be used books, however there may have been some new ones. And, if you see the table with the woman sitting at it in the lower right corner of this photo, she is an author and was getting toward the end of a book signing session for a new book they were selling. Upstairs there was a huge area they called the Labyrinth and you could literally get lost among all the books and shelves. There was even a tunnel you passed through made of books. Additionally there was an art gallery displaying the works of local artists and there were some craft booths displaying various antiques and crafts on sale by the vendors.

This place was definitely an experience and one could easily spend an entire day exploring all the books and stuff on display and available. One of the vaults, I believe it was the larger one, on the main floor, if I remember correctly, seemed to be the depository for first editions, rare and other collector books. There was an "incognito" security person, probably a store employee, outside the door at all times.

At any rate, if you love books or even just like them or even just want to visit and interesting place, I recommend The Last Book Store in downtown Los Angeles.