Sunday, June 26, 2011

EMPS: A Night at St. Michael's

For the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot, Carly wants to see some night photography. As it happens, I worked until midnight Wednesday at St. Michael's as part of a long day working at both jobs. This is where I put my dying camera (long story) to the test. Here's the best of what I got:

This was the most interesting thing I managed without flash. I like the angles.

I really wanted to get the camera to see what I saw here, but it just wasn't capable of that. I've lightened this a lot, and used the de-noise filter. That's not a window with bars on it. There's no glass, and the "bars" are saguaro ribs. (Check out the link - it's one of my favorite blogs about Arizona flora and fauna.)

I had to resort to flash for this, and I was afraid it would make it look too much like daylight. It didn't.

And another shot of the garden just outside the front walk.

The Clarion Write-a-Thon has begun! More on that anon! (My main blogging about this so far is on my LJ and fiction blogs.)


Monday, June 20, 2011

T Minus Six Days and Counting

Once upon a time, many long years ago, I was this person:


This was Karen Funk, age 20, at the Clarion Writers' Workshop in 1977. Back then, this workshop for science fiction and fantasy writers was held at Michigan State University. Nowadays the flagship version of the workshop is the Clarion Writers' Workshop at UC San Diego.

This year, Clarion is hosting a satellite event for those of us who can't go out to San Diego and take instruction from John Scalzi et al. As you may have noticed from my sidebar, I've signed up for the 2011 Clarion Write-a-Thon. This means that while the 2011 Clarion Workshop at UCSD is taking place, June 26 to August 6, I'll be working every night on the Mâvarin novels, particularly Heirs of Mâvarin. As of tonight I'm on page 369 of 708 manuscript pages in my current edit. That's not quite as big a book as it sounds, but it's a good chunk of editing and revising to get through. I'm also hoping to get a scene or two written for the book's prequel, and, if there's time left, move on to the Mages of Mâvarin trilogy.

Why am I doing this, while working two jobs and doing all the other stuff that fills my days? The fact is, I haven't given good, consistent effort to my fiction since shortly after I went back to school in late 2002 to get my accounting degree. If I'm ever to get these characters I love from my hard drive to the bookstore, this needs to change. This seems like a good motivator  to get my writing going again. And yes, I'll be blogging about it, probably on two or more of my poor, neglected blogs.

Help Clarion continue; Help Mâvarin come to be! Sponsor me!

There's another aspect to this, and really, it seems fair enough. Write-a-Thon participants are asked to seek sponsors. Proceeds from sponsors' donations help to keep the workshop going. I've always said that the specific workshop John and I attended in 1977 was the "failed Clarion," but I did learn a lot, although some of it took years to sink in. Plus I got a husband out of it, so I've got a lot to be grateful for!

If you're just scraping by yourself, then I don't expect you to jump in with a donation. But if you can afford to support this good cause, here's the link:

Clarion WRITE-A-THON. 
Overcome your inertia.

And here's my offer: I will match all donations up to $20 per person, and will sponsor any friends who participate as writers for that same amount.

So, how about it? Will you join me as a Write-a-Thon writer or sponsor? Failing that, Will you help me stay motivated with a little judicious nagging and encouragement? Ready...set...!


Sunday, June 19, 2011

EMPS: Critters in the Garden

For the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot that ends right this minute, Carly wants to see garden creatures. Well, I saw a katydid or cicada in my den, and chased a lizard under a dumpster at church, but the only critters I actually caught on camera in my garden this week were these two!

And at Easter, a very different creature approached a garden at St. Michael's, looking for eggs:

But if I hunt through my archives for creatures of gardens past, what will I find? Well, when I think of critters in a garden, I always think of this guy, caught in the act of eating the garden at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum last summer:

I'm shown him to you before, but not this particular shot. And, from the same day, there's this woodpecker:

Best I can do!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Round Robin: Big - The Great Pyramid of Marana

This week's Round Robin Photo Challenge has a simple, one-word topic: BIG. You know that I live in the desert, and that my commute takes me outside the city. But did you know that I pass a pyramid on the way to work each day?

Here it is, as photographed by me on the way back from my job interview this past February. As best I can tell, it's basically a massive pile of dirt, as close as the Sonoran Desert gets to sand. This isn't a sand dune, though. It's graded dirt, for sale as landscaping material. This is not where it's sold, just where it is stored.

And here it is again, photographed from the other direction a few weeks later. When I first started working at my job, I used to arrive on this road right around dawn, having left home nearly an hour earlier. This was quite a shock for someone who often used to go to bed at 5 AM!

Today I photographed it again on my way home from work. It's not really taller than the Catalina Mountains in the background, but it is impressively large. It can be seen from the freeway, and for a mile or two in each direction.

It's hard to get a sense of the scale of the thing, since I had no people to pose nearby, and there are no buildings in camera range. Sometimes I see birds flying over it, hawks or vultures or Chihuahuan ravens. But the green thing at the right is a Palo Verde tree, about fifteen to twenty feet tall. The dark spots on the pyramid are bushes. When the wind is just right, some of the dirt can be seen twisting away into the sky.

From the north side one gets sort of a multiple pyramid effect from several piles of graded sand. The shape of the main pyramid from this particular angle on this particular day (Friday, June 17th) makes this especially true. There's also a great earthen wall - not a barrow or burial mound, nor a fortification, but most likely more graded dirt in a different hue.

Now let's go see what BIG discoveries the other Robins have made!

Linking List:
as of 7 PM MST
Saturday, June 18th

Freda - Posted!
Day One

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Jama - Posted!
Sweet Memories

Amanda - Posted!
Amanda's Weekly Zen

Rachael **Welcome, new Robin!** - Posted!
The Smile Spot

Kim - Posted!
40's and Fabulous

Carly - Posted!

LG Tina **Welcome, new Robin!** - Posted!
Leckeres für Mensch und Katze

Peg - Posted!
Who Can Discover It?

Jenn - Posted!
Cottage Country Reflections


Sunday, June 05, 2011

EMPS: Too Rare to Even Photograph

Carly came up with an interesting combination of words for the Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot this week: Ellipsis Monday Photo Shoot #126:Rare Whte Scales. Not having ready access to albino rattlesnakes, I cogitated all week about this. Then I had a great idea! I would photograph our "butcher cover," a rare Beatles album cover.

But our Beatles records are inaccessible right now. I know: I tried, fighting my way past stacked boxes and furniture to the wall where the record crates are, pulling out LPs at random and examining them with the help of a flashlight. I didn't find the main Beatles crate. But I'm going to show you, courtesy of someone's eBay item, what I wanted to photograph for you:

This is a "pasteover" copy of Yesterday and Today, a US Capitol Records album that basically compiled songs the American distributor left off previous albums plus a few non-LP 45s. When they did the photo shoot for this album cover, the Beatles originally let the photographer do something surreal and Dali-esque...and, to American sensibilities, in grossly bad taste:

It wasn't long before this cover was pulled out of stores, probably a week at most. Rather than throw the print run away, Capitol hastily pasted over the butcher cover with the bland "trunk cover." But if you look very closely at these "pasteover" copies, you can just make out the V of Ringo's black shirt showing through the white album cover. And there you have it: it's rare, it's got a white background, and it involves (musical) scales.

But those aren't my photos, so let's move on. Check out these exhibits from the Museum of the Weird:

Here are some of Harlan Ellison's older, rarer books, all with mostly white covers. Especially rare is this one:

I got this for $2 at my very first science fiction convention. It was worth about $80 at the time, at least according to Harlan. That was 35 years ago. The book dealer was miffed that the guy helping out at his table let it go so cheap, but he honored the deal.

These books haven't much to do with scales, I admit. So let's introduce this guy:

This lizard was chowing down on a cactus at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum last July. I don't know how rare either the lizard or the cactus was. The lizard was completely wild and unconfined, not part of an exhibit.

Okay, you want a rarer and whiter creature? Okay, but it's almost certainly John's photo:

Here's one of the Siegfried and Roy white tigers, photographed seven years ago. This was about six months after the incident that ended that show. This may or may not be the particular tiger that accidentally injured Roy Horn.

And that's the best I can do on the topic Rare - White - Scales! Hope you liked it!


Saturday, June 04, 2011

Round Robin: Stealth Photography in the Park

For Round Robin Challenge: In the Park, I asked for photos taken in a park, any kind of park, preferably with people enjoying the place. I have a zillion photos in my archives of Gene C Reid Park and other Tucson area parks, and I figured that in a pinch I could surely find something to post that I hadn't used before.

From Reid at Random

But today when I left work I headed for 22nd Street instead of my usual route, knowing I'd be passing at least two parks between the freeway and home. There were three, actually. At least one of them is frequented by homeless people in the daytime, but I chickened out of trying to photograph evidence of this. Instead, after an agonizing interlude of stop and go traffic with no discernible cause, I made it to Reid Park, site of so many past photo shoots. The dogs weren't with me, but that was okay, because I was in a hurry. After a brief drive around the ballpark, I parked near 22nd Street, jumped out of the car and followed behind this mother and her daughter as they headed for the duck pond.

I felt like a bit of a stalker, but that didn't stop me from taking several pictures of these two people, all from behind. To be honest, I'm too shy to go up to people all the time and ask whether I can photograph them. I very seldom ask, in fact. I'd rather take candid photos from a distance. In a public park, according to my courses in Business Law, one has less of a "reasonable expectation of privacy" than in other places. And by photographing the little girl only from behind and at a distance, with no identifying name, address or facial features, I give potential stalkers, kidnappers, etc. no basis for targeting this particular anonymous child.

But come on! Even from behind, she's pretty cute! And I mean that in the nicest, least predatory way possible!

Of course, the mother and child weren't the only people in that part of the park this afternoon. These two women, for example, were having a chat, apparently oblivious to the birds that surrounded them.

And I snapped this gaggle of youth, again at a distance with no identifying features to speak of.

Still, there was one photographic subject in the park today that I didn't have to sneak up on. This scrap metal elephant is a new addition to the collection of large art installations at Reid Park.

Now let's see what and whom the other Robins found in the park!

Linking List
As of 12:22 PM MST Saturday

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Jama - Posted!
Sweet Memories

Freda - Posted!
Day One

Erin - Posted!
Worth A Thousand Words

Kim - Posted!
My Photography in Focus

hip chick
hip chick photos

Gattina - Posted!
Keyhole Pictures

JennyO's Weblog