Thursday, May 28, 2015

Skywatch Friday

It's been way too long since I last posted a Skywatch Friday.  This is a winter sunset from the archives.  We've had way too much rain to have any decent sunrise or sunset photos lately.  Of course my retirement and our move into town has severely hampered my ability to get to some of my favorite sites to capture uncluttered Skywatch images.
Let's start the week-end with a little gospel music.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Inspiration Thursday

Music is one art form that expresses virtually every emotion in the human experience. I love music of all kinds. It is no secret that inspirational music holds a special place in my life and Southern Gospel sits at the throne of that special place. Gospel music can teach us God's Word. It can lift us up when we are tired and broken hearted. It point us to our need for a Savior and it can encourage us by telling of the home that is waiting for us on the other side of this life. Enjoy the mini-concert.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Last Saturday my wife and I decided to visit an exhibit at the local art museum.  The good news is that the local art museum is Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  It is in it's third year of operation and is already a wold class facility.  The exhibit is entitled,

Van Gogh to Rothko brings together 76 artworks by 73 influential artists from the late nineteenth century to the present. The exhibition features masterpieces by some of the most prominent names in art history including Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Georgia O’Keeffe, Salvador DalĂ­, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, and Mark Rothko. The works were selected from the collection of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, one of the finest collections of twentieth-century art in the country, located in Buffalo, NY.

The exhibit is great.  I learned that I like Van Gogh better than I like Matisse.

Here are a few other works that I found interesting.
You can find art that expresses every emotion in the human experience.  You can even find art that expresses your feelings at that very moment.  This piece is called When the Raven was White, by Grace Hartigan 1969.  I just like the color and motion in this piece.  I rarely try to understand the meaning behind the painting.

 This is Van Gogh

 This is Matisse.  I like Van Gogh better than Matisse

This is Sun, Tower, Airplane by Robert Delaunay -1913.  I think I like Delaunay better than Van Gogh or Matisse.

There were also some interesting sculptures at the exhibit.
It is not surprising that this piece is titled "Walking Man".   What is surprising is that I was able to capture this image without a bunch of people in the background.  The museum was extremely busy on this day and I was amazed to find an angle that was void of human clutter.

Blame it on my Oklahoma roots, but I am in LOVE with this sculpture.  It is titled simply "Indian" by Paul Manship - 1914.  Even though this bronze was cast in 1914 it has so many Art Deco overtones it is amazing.  It was my favorite piece in the entire exhibit.
Stay tuned, I'll be bringing more images from Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in the weeks to come.  Have a blessed Wordless Wednesday and feel free to visit again soon.

There is another project going on at the museum that has sparked my interest to volunteer as a guide at some point.  The museum has purchased a Frank Lloyd Wright designed Usonian house and is reconstructing it on the campus of the museum.  As a retired architect, this really caught my attention.  It will be several more months, possibly a year before the project is complete and ready to open to the public, but I am going to put my name in the hat to be a guide for this structure.  Just exactly what is a Usonian home, you ask?  Well, there were about 60 Frank Lloyd Wright designed usonian homes built.  They were Wright's attempt to design and build affordable housing for the average family, beginning in 1936.  Wright removed what he considered unnecessary frills from the typical residence, including the attic space, which led to flat or very low sloped roofs, He eliminated the basement and the garage.  In fact Wright coined the term car port to describe the open covered area to park the car.  He also called for radiant heat to be installed in the floors.  This was actually an energy savings feature.  He also employed some passive solar design concepts that were completely foreign to the construction industry at the time.  But that's a post for another day.
Bachman Wilson House by Frank Lloyd Wright

Monday, May 25, 2015

Ruby Tuesday Too

There is an exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art that features works from Impressionism to Pop Art.  Almost everyone recognizes this iconic piece as being the work of Andy Warhol.  This is not a photograph, it is a painting.  Although Warhol used a template to lay out the cans, each one is individually painted, therefore unique, different from the others. Check back tomorrow and I'll have more images from the exhibit.  Happy Ruby Tuesday all.

Memorial Day 2015

The original purpose of Memorial Day was to remember those Union soldiers in the Civil War.  By the end of World War I the remembrance extended to all military who gave their lives in service to this nation.   Today we use the opportunity to remember every loved one who has passed on, regardless of the circumstances.  It is important to remember that Memorial Day is more that boats, beer, and BBQ.  It is more than the start of summer vacation season.  It is good to recall our history, our legacy, and those who had a part in forming our lives.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

It's been entirely too long since I participated in a Scavenger Hunt Sunday hosted by Ashley Sisk.

This is one of my all time favorite images of "The Big Guy".  We took the family to Disney World in 2008 and I caught this image of our youngest grand child, and the only boy, during a  break at Epcot.  You just have to wonder what is going through his mind.


Even in Northwest Arkansas the winter temperatures can turn one of my favorite places into a combination of flowing water and "Crispy" water.  Okay, I know that's a stretch, but I'm going with it anyway.

Of course, in the spring, there is an undeniable energy that comes from the flowing water and the sound of the falls.

Negative Space
I probably should have cropped this image closer to the Rule of Thirds and created more negative space to the right of the flower.  However, the dark green background provides negative space for the spectacular bloom.  I have no idea what kind of flower I'm looking at, I just know that we were in Victoria, British Columbia.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Fun With Filters

 Original Image

 A Little Stained Glass Filter
When the image is kind of monochromatic in color, I'm not sure that there is much difference between stained glass and mosaic filters.

A Little Crystallize Filter
This filter adds a feel similar to the watercolor filter.  In PhotoShop Elements you can control the size of the crystals.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Inspiration Thursday

Just Music Today

Wordless Wednesday

Fun With Filters
Everyone likes to take good photographs.  Some like for the image to be a perfect representation of the moment captured.  Occasionally, it is fun to wander into the filters and see what happens.  Here are a few examples of the texture of sports.  Click on any image to enlarge and get the full effect of the filter that has been applied.  Have a blessed day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Not So Wordless Wednesday

Every photographer/picture taker has a favorite place to capture images.  This is one of mine.  Several miles from the house there is a small private lake (less than 100 acres).  This image is just down the stream from the spillway at the dam.  When it is hot and dry the flow can slow to little more than a trickle.  When there are several days of heavy rains, it can become a raging torrent.  When we get just the right amount of rain, it becomes one of the most picturesque places in all of Bella Vista, AR.  This week-end concluded one of those just right weeks.

I have photographed this spillway during every season of the year and in most every stage from trickle to flood.  Still, when it rains, you can bet I will load up my camera and head to this little piece of heaven on earth and take some new images.

One of these days I will put together a collection of my favorite images and share them with those few who choose to visit this little outpost in the blogasphere.

I'm thinking that one of these images just might make the final cut.  Eventually, I plan to print a seasonal series, frame them and display them in our home.  I can change them out with each season.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Ruby Tuesday Too

Here Fishy, Fishy

I have a small collection of antique fishing lures that I inherited from my Dad.  You can tell that this lure is old because the hooks are connected to the body with a metal fitting.  Most new lures are simply glued and screwed into the body.  The body of the lure is made of balsa wood, while most new lure bodies are some type of plastic.  I'm sure this lure has spent a lot of time in the water, but I have no idea how effective it was.  Now it's in it's own tackle box.  I sure it would be happier running through the water, trying to lure a fish to bite, but I won't risk losing it to some submerged obstacle.  It may not be worth much, but is is priceless to me.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Anniversary - Forty-one Years

May 11, 1974

Words cannot begin to express how fortunate that I am to have married the woman at my side.  She is everything to me, and without her, I am nothing.   Several ago I posted "What's The Secret."  How do you stay married forty-one years.  It is no secret.  It works like this.

So what's the secret to being married for forty-one years and looking forward to celebrating number fifty one day? All I can tell you is that our marriage is centered around our faith and that the message from God's Word is critical to the happiness that each of us enjoys.

First of all, God loves us and everything He does for us is for our benefit. He created the institution of marriage to be enjoyed by a man and a woman and to bring each of them happiness. The Bible tells us that God loved us so much that He gave His Son to die on a cross for us so that we might, through faith, have eternal live. Christ tells the husband that he is to love his wife with the same love that Christ loves the church and gave himself for that church (Ephesians 5:25). If I love my wife with that kind of love, then everything I do, I do because I love her and I want her to be happy. I want her to be pleased with this relationship. I want my Lord to be pleased with me as a man who loves his wife and realizes that his wife is a gift from God created especially for me and for my happiness.
Secondly, marriage is a partnership. Like any relationship, it takes work to maintain that relationship in peak condition. A happy marriage doesn't "just happen". Both of us are committed to the relationship and to each other because we love one another and it is our desire that our partner be happy in this relationship. No major decision in this relationship is made without prayer and conversation. God is not the author of confusion, therefore He will not give my wife a different answer to an issue than the one that He gives me. Again, God created the institution of marriage for our benefit, not for our demise.
Finally, I married a woman far better than I deserve. I thank my Lord and Savior for her every day. My wife is the most thoughtful, caring and giving person that I know. Proverbs 31:10-12 says, "An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life." I have found that woman. Proverbs 31:25-30 further states, "Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and teaching of kindness is on her toungue. She looks well to the ways of her houselold, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her, saying: Many daughters have done nobly, but you excel them all. Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised." I married such a woman.
So, back to the original question, "What's the Secret?" The answer is, you have to give yourself to the marriage. You have to give yourself to your spouse. Whatever you have within you, you have to "Give it Away."

July 2014 - 40th Anniversary Alaska Cruise

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Skywatch Friday

Take Me Out to The Ball Game
One of the benefits of retirement is being able to take in a weekday baseball game.  The local minor league team plays several games in the first couple of months of the season that start at 11:00 a.m.  They are typically played on Tuesday or Wednesday.  These games are almost always promotions for various kids activities so the park is filled with youngsters.  I think it's great and it's cheap entertainment.  Recently my wife and I traveled to Dallas.  Prior to departing I checked to see if the Rangers would be in town.  Sure enough, they had a home game scheduled while we were there.  I looked for two tickets down the right field line about 15-10 rows up.  The two tickets and parking were going to cost just over $150.  Today I spent $16 for parking and one ticket in the first row, behind the third base dugout.  Cheap entertainment.  On this day the local NWA Naturals hosted the Tulsa Drillers. 

Every minor league team has their own special mascot.  The Naturals seem to have three in costume.  The one on the right is the primary mascot.  The other two are supporting characters.

The managers and the umpires meet at home plate to discuss stuff and exchange line ups.  Then it's time to Play Ball!

The second batter of the game for Tulsa got the scoring started with a solo home run.  If you look closely you can see the ball coming off of the bat.  As Kevin Costner said in "Bull Durham", "Anything traveling that far should have a stewardess."  However, that would be the end of the scoring for the Drillers, until the ninth inning, on this day.

This has just got the be the best summer job ever!  Who wouldn't want to be a bat boy/girl for the local minor league team.

I may have had one of the best seats in the house for $13, but who wouldn't want to join this party for only $8 per person.

All in all, it was a great day at the ball park.  I got to see my local team and my home town team play.  The home team won 7-2 and I got a few good Skywatch photos.  I just doesn't get much better than that.  Have a blessed week-end.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Inspiration Thursday

Inspiration can come from a multitude of sources.  The Bible is probably the greatest source of inspiration for the believer.  A great sermon can inspire us.  Taking note of  how God is working in our lives is often very inspiring.  One source of inspiration for me is music.  Gospel music to be exact.  I like all kinds of music, but I love the message in gospel music.  Last week, my wife and I headed to Dallas, TX for a two day gospel music event.  There was a concert each day, and they lasted over four hours each.  I'm already thinking about making the trip again next year.

The event was held at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX., a north suburb of Dallas.  The sanctuary seats 7,000.  That's right, a 7,000 seat worship center.  The choir was approximately 200 voices strong.  I know that some of the artists really enjoyed having 200 back-up singers.   For me, sharing a worship experience with nearly 7,000 other gospel music lovers is inspiring indeed. Here are a couple of the artists that performed.

The Nelons are a family group.  It is often said that there is no better harmony than the voices of a family.

Angela Primm is just a walking inspiration.  As the old saying goes, "If this don't light your fire, your wood is wet."

The Booth Brothers is one of our favorite groups and their message is always inspiring.

These are just a few of the groups that performed during the 2-day event.  So why do I like Gospel music and why is it important to me.  Well, it is inspiring.  The hymns of the church are often the first exposure that children have to God's word and many Bible verses are incorporated into the Hymns.  Setting the scripture to music makes it easier for people to memorize and we are instructed to hide God's word in our hearts so that we can call on His word when needed.  Music is soothing.  In times of trouble or sorrow, the music of God's people is comforting to the soul and spirit.  When we think on the home that is waiting for us in heaven, the troubles of this earth seem a little less overwhelming.  Whether it is the Bible, a sermon, or great gospel music, there is no more important message than, "Jesus Saves"!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Hail to the Chief

Last week my wife and I traveled to Dallas, TX for a 2-day gospel concert event.  I'll post a few pictures of that tomorrow.  We arrived a couple of days early so we could do a little outlet mall shopping and visit the George W. Bush Presidential Library.  We have never been to a presidential library, even though the Clinton Library is in Little Rock.  It was a wonderful experience.  The Bush Library is located on the Campus of Southern Methodist University.  Locating presidential libraries on college campuses seems to be a preferred site.  The LBJ library is located on the campus of the University of Texas in Austin, and the George H.W. Bush library is on the campus of Texas A&M in College Station.

In the central courtyard there is a sculpture of both "W" and his father, George H.W. Bush.  It is a very popular photo opportunity.  There is also an exact replica of the Oval Office which is the most popular room in the building.  It was far to crowded to get a good image.  I suspect that the replica of the Oval Office is a common feature among most of the presidential libraries.

There are two main galleries in the museum portion of the library.  The larger gallery houses artifacts, interactive displays, and memorabilia from the Bush administration.  These items are on permanent display.  The smaller gallery houses temporary displays.  Currently, the smaller gallery features an exhibit about baseball.  President Bush was a managing partner of the Texas Rangers prior to his term of office as President of the United States.  This exhibit is not limited to his baseball collection, and features items borrowed from other collections.  It is the largest display of baseball artifacts outside of the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown.

Easily the most impressive display in the facility is this piece of steel from the World Trade Center attack on 9-11-2001.  On the wall behind the artifact the names of those who lost their lives are inscribed.  Video monitors chronicle the events of that day.  There is a quiet reverence about this space, and rightly so.

While in office, every president travels abroad on diplomatic business.  Often he and his wife are presented with gifts from the heads of state of the countries that they have visited.  Here is a pretty impressive collection of some of the gifts presented to President and Mrs. Bush. Click on any image to enlarge.

This crystal and gold Baccarat necklace was a gift to Mrs. Bush from the First Lady of France.

 This exquisite turquoise frosted glass bowl, set on a gold and silver stand was a gift from the President of Qatar in 2001.

 These stirrups of silver, with gold, ruby and emerald accents are from the President of Morocco.

Finally, this silver eagle statue was a gift from the President of Peru.

I'm not sure what we give heads of state when they visit this country, but somehow a smoked brisket just doesn't seem to be adequate.  One has to wonder what the federal budget is for diplomatic gift exchange.  I'm sure there is a line item for that somewhere.
After our visit, I can recommend that you visit this museum and library if you are in the Dallas area.  In fact, I think you would be impressed by visiting any presidential library, even if you didn't care for the politics of the man being honored.