Puddle reflection, Bay Beach Amusement Park.

Researchers have identified the chromosome that–among other things–enables homing pigeons to unerringly find their way back to the roost. According to scientists involved in the study, one of the genes they discovered gives pigeons the ability to read subtle signs in their environment, signs that other species of birds miss.




Image  —  Posted: August 25, 2014 in 17-85mm lens, Bricks, Canon 60D, Details, Paris, Photography, Signs, Street scene, Wabi Sabi

Your friend, Wabi Sabi, is gifted and talented in many ways but one area where she particularly excels is in the Art of Whining.

Why can’t I have an apartment in Paris?

Who is this old woman who keeps showing up in my selfies?

Why are there so many cat posts on Facebook?

I’ve been whining lately because even though my prodigal lens has returned to the fold, my chances for magnificent architectural shots anywhere nearby are severely limited.

Why can’t I live someplace cool?

And then I woke to patchy fog on Friday, grabbed my coffee, my camera and car keys and went to explore the neighborhood.

All of these shots were taken within 3 miles of my house in the space of just one hour. 

Church Road, east of the highway

Ullmer's Farm on Bay Settlement Road. The Bay is below but shrouded in fog.

A little farther down Bay Settlement on the east side of the road


Two shorebirds and a tire:  Communiversity Park on the Bay



 A pretty productive hour, starting with two shots of espresso and ending with a Zen moment near the water. Yes, I’m still annoyed that I can’t live in Paris fulltime, but can admit my real-world neighborhood is nothing to whine about.

The destination for Sunday’s flash-bang trip across the equator of Wisconsin was the city of Menomonie. Arrived early (could have spent TEN minutes at the ethanol plant!) and cruised the downtown looking for any potential photo ops.


Please insert swirling pinwheels and music to indicate that we have fallen through a rip in the fabric of time.


My very first job ever: carhop at an A&W.  This isn’t the same building but the old-time root beer stands were obviously built to a certain design.


I can’t say it was my dream job, but I did have a couple of take-aways that have lasted me through the years.

     1. I learned to count change. No one had ever taken the time to school me in that fine art and after my first shift, I counted out the cash in my apron only to discover that doing the math in my head was not the best plan. I had broken exactly even and six hours worth of tips had vanished.


     2. The combination of draft A&W and Ruffles Potato Chips is such an exotic taste sensation that it can make me swoon to this day. 

On a flash-bang drive across the equator of Wisconsin on Sunday (four hours over, four hours back) I allotted myself EXACTLY five minutes off-road to take a few shots at the ethanol plant.

I was there once before in mid-March when corn-laden trucks were coming and going and the whole place seemed to be cooking full-steam ahead.

Is it painfully apparent that I found an unopened box of hyphens wedged in back of the junk drawer and I am trying to use them all up before they go bad?

On this day, there didn’t appear to be much action at all and those glorious steamy clouds of vaporized corn were just not happening. The air even lacked that cotton candy smell that had braided itself into my hair last time around.

Even the “Ace” sign was fully visible.

No matter.


Even with a dirth of steam-swirl, there was still enough to soften the light and filter my shots of the plant, giving the whole place a satisfying and slightly other-worldly look.


And then I jumped back into the car and disappeared in a cloud of…well, not so much of a cloud, but I did head back to the highway.


Clear proof that Wabi Sabi is perfectly capable of practicing restraint when she chooses:

     1. She did NOT include phrases like “Soylent Green is People!” in this post


     2. She did NOT finish the Lili Von Shtupp song started earlier in this piece.

Steamier views of the plant can be found at



While most teachers can regale you with stories about memorable students, both angelic and demon-possessed, most often our best stories are about our own epic classroom failures.

Once upon a time a friend of mine, Anne, was really and truly wound up, delivering a passionate lecture on Thoreau and his year at Walden Pond to a room full of 16-year-olds. She was on a serious roll.

Eyes blazing, cheeks flushed and waving her personal dog-eared paperback copy of Thoreau to the class, she knew every eye was riveted on her. This was one of those magic adrenaline-washed  moments that we all dream of.

skin painting 2

Time for the Big Finish.  Voice ringing with emotion, she declared “Ladies and gentlemen, I will tell you that if Thoreau was in front of you right now, he would say ‘Throw off your fine designer clothes, grab your hoes and head for the woods.'”

It pretty much took her the rest of the hour to peel those kids off the walls.

skin painting 1

Prepping these shots, I couldn’t help but think of Anne and those cast-off over-priced designer tee shirts she and Henry David Thoreau were railing against. Hard to say if the pine snakes from my last post are big fans of Thoreau or not, but they do cast off their fine garments from time to time.