Klediments

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Klediment is a word my mother taught me. She told me it was a word that she heard her grandparents and aunts and uncles use in the hills of Appalacia where she grew up. A Klediment is a word that describes an object with great value – but not monetary value. It has the value of memory and sentiment attached to it. I first understood the word when she related the value of this sewing machine to me. It was her mother’s and it may possibly be the only personal item she had of her mom’s. She learned to sew on it. She tried to teach me to sew on it too. It was more valuable to her than money – it’s meaning was priceless.

As a photographer it occurred to me that I could photograph some of these personal things and try to create a portrait of someone without actually showing their image – could you get a sense of who they are just from the things that were precious to them? Can the photos tell the story better than words?

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Barbie

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Minnie

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Harold

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Max

Sometimes I find everyday objects like this evoke more in me that a photo of someone I love. I pick up my grandfather’s keys and touch the places where his hands have worn the metal bare and almost sense him there with me.

Mary Jane’s Upstairs Neighbors

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This is my neighbor, Mary Jane. She is almost 99 years old. She lives in a house with no running water and only recently quit walking the mile to the grocery store. She is a year older than my Grandma would have been and I live in the home her father built in 1919 about a mile away from her place.Image

Mary Jane is an interesting character. She loves to garden and hike (she can still do 3-5 miles with me). There is a side of her that is almost childlike. She has some cats and loves them, but she loves almost any animal that comes around.

She was having some electrical issues at the house so my brother checked out the wiring for me on a visit. What we found in the attic was amazing and a little more than I was ready for. Raccoons had been nesting up there, probably for years – what a mess. We have fixed the electric – but Mary Jane loves her upstairs neighbors. She has relegated them to just a dormer now, but I’m pretty sure she continues to make the peanut butter sandwiches.

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Going up?

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Window shopper waiting for dinner.

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Boldly snacking.

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The lookout

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The courier

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The Trio

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The Sandwich King

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The brave one

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Bored with it all.

It may be unconventional – but I want to be like Mary Jane when I grow up – loving life, active, strong, and just a little childlike.

Lorri

When my brother Max and I were small our folks were asked to be God Parents to my Pop’s best friend’s first born son. We traveled to Winslow Arizona for the ceremony – it was the first time either of us were ever in church. It was a Catholic Church and a lady told us that we could not go forward with the other kids, but that we could sing. So we sang! Max sang the only song he knew – “Old MacDonald had a farm….” – loud and proud he sang. It’s no surprise that he has become a farmer. He raises chickens in Las Vegas Nevada and is planting an orchard in the desert too. His blog is thoughtful and informative and features his wife Karen’s (my traveling cohort) photography. Check it out – after all, it’s his fault I even have a blog…

The Fruity Chicken

My best friend’s son Cody had his first successful hatch today and I think he’s hooked. My recurring chore of hauling mulch went off without a hitch with the one exception that John wasn’t there to discuss whats going on with my pluots or to see my super duper silenced air gun. This weeks load of mulch went into the chicken coop, I had filled the bottom of the henhouse to a depth of 10″ about 3 months ago. In that time the depth had shrunk to about 4″ due to the girls scratching it out under the sides and natural composting action. The mulch had also reduced in particle size from large shreds down to pieces 1/2″ and smaller.

My Sweety Karen came out to practice her Photography skills at The Fruity Chicken Orchard/Chicken Ranch today while I puttered around. She did a much better job with her…

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The Rock Tour

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As we crossed from Colorado to Nebraska to South Dakota and Wyoming it became clear. Karen and I were on a mission to look at a bunch of rocks. Before we hit the “rock-free” monument at Carhenge, we saw our first National Park Passport Stamp spot in the panhandle of Nebraska – Scott’s Bluff.

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The Park has conveniently placed these 3 styles of covered wagons in front of the monument so each visitor can attempt to recreate the painting in the lobby of the visitors center. Pretty darned authentic if you ignore the plastic oxen.

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This spot is littered with markings of the Oregon Trail. Unfortunately it is impossible to get a shot of the bluff without wagons in view. We arrived right at closing and talked the rangers into letting us get stamps and then we hit the trails to take these two images and several hundred shots of bunnies.

Day 2 of our drive was a rock bonanza – we got to Wind Cave where there were no rocks or formations above ground, but apparently there is a rather large hole in the rocks below. We got our stamp, checked the cave schedule and decided we needed to head to Jewel Cave because they were closing soon. We nearly ended up with a bison inside our car on the way out of the park and got to Jewel Cave in time for stamps and an elevator ride down 200 feet to the second largest cave in the US. We went inside the rock!

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The elevator was a tight fit – about 25 of us in one small box.

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This cave was discovered by a fellow who foolishly thought these were diamonds…

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The ranger made a big deal of letting us know that you had to fit into a hole only 7 1/2 inches tall to explore the deepest recesses of the cave. Apparently he could fit in the space. He also let us know that the rangers don’t get paid to explore. He also told us that there was a mineral in the cave that could make your dryer explode if you got it on your clothes – this was a very effective strategy for getting us to keep our hands off the cave. I also decided to just throw the clothes I was wearing away, just in case.

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This is a surveyors pin that was used to map the cave – apparently your GPS won’t work down here.

We knew we wanted to get to Rushmore, but I told Karen that I had seen a special on TV about Crazy Horse – it was on the way so we went there next.

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Apparently Crazy Horses Head is so large that Mount Rushmore’s heads could fit into the section that will contain his face and war bonnet. This project has been in the works for over 60 years and has been spearheaded by one family – 10 drillers are working on it now. Could be another 60 years before it’s done.

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This is a scale model of how the finished mountain will look – they are working on the finger now.

As we headed towards Rushmore, we saw a lot of cars pulled off – we thought we might finally see the elusive mountain goat – but no, it was just the side of George’s face…

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We got to the park in time to get our stamps and take a seat for the flag ceremony. A ranger came out and talked about integrity. He told stories of unsung signers of the Declaration of Independence. One gave his entire fortune of 2 million dollars to the cause and eventually died in debtors prison with no regrets. Amazing! Another hid in the woods while the British searched his house. His sick wife died and his children were scattered – but he was safe in the woods ready to fight for the cause. He came home and died of a broken heart. Sad story, but I didn’t get the connection. Anyway, they showed a movie about the monument and got us in a really patriotic mood and then….

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They light up that big rock!

We knew we would have to come back in the morning to get the stamp at the sculptors studio in the daylight.

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In the studio you can see an early model – I think Jefferson looks a bit clingy. I’m kinda glad the rock wouldn’t support the extra appendages.

On the way back up I stopped at an open vantage point to get shots of the fab four.

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George

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Tom

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Ted

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Abe

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Karen was nearly busted for leaving the trail – I snapped this in case I had to bail her out. The ranger was the only one we saw who was armed on our entire trip. Karen was risking her freedom to shoot this flower…

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This is Nick Clifford – an original driller on the mountain. He started working at 17 on the mountain. He was recruited for the baseball team. I got his autograph in my Parks Passport as well as a baseball card – probably the coolest souvenir from the trip.

As we left Rushmore we headed west – towards another huge rock with some stops along the way…

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Not much to look at when there are no bikers there.

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Sundance, Wyoming – where the “Kid” got his name, and apparently the Jail is always open.

After a good nights sleep in a hotel with actual room keys we headed to Devil’s Tower – one HUGE rock.

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Climbers

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I’m relived that the passport station was not up there.

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More climbers

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From the western side.

After this there was only one rock left to see…Rocky Mountain National Park!

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One off-duty ranger was taking his 1916 Model T around the summit loop – this car was 3 years older than the park.

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Overlooking Forest Park Summit

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Looking down on the top of the world Image

Frozen lake at over 12,000 feet

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The Continental Divide 2000 feet below the summit

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A frozen lake thaws at the Divide.

I think we managed to visit every large rock in 4 states, and we have the stamps to prove it!

Ancient American Mysteries – Carhenge

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As Karen and I sped across Nebraska hoping to find the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument we stumbled upon something truly special. Our GPS directed us to take something called “Cut Across Road” which doesn’t appear to exist. It was getting late so we decided to stop and the next town and call it a night. We hit Harriman, Nebraska at about 5 and asked at the gas station to see if anyone could help us find the park. Not only could they not help with directions, the gas station attendant let us know she had never heard of the park. She also let us know that she had no gas and that Harriman had no motels. We asked about the next town and she warned us that Crawford had even less to offer than Harriman, “There’s nothing there!”, she warned. “Go to Alliance!” We took her advice and trekked the 30 miles towards lodging, gas, and information. Once we hit town Karen thought we should cruise the town to check our options. We stopped for gas and I noticed a brown sign (all passport stamp seekers look for brown signs) that said “Carhange – 1/2 mile”. I had heard of Carhenge – I read something about it back in the 80’s in People magazine, so I told Karen that we HAD to go there! She accepted that I was the expert and we headed down that country road hoping to see something truly amazing – we were not disappointed!

For the most complete experience I recommend that from this point on you read with the sound of Leonard Nimoy as narrator in your head…

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Isolated on the Nebraska plain – what can it mean?

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Made from ancient building blocks like this 73 Vega – who would have had the technology to build this?

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It appears to be aligned with some specific axis. It must have been some ancient super race that built it. Their knowledge clearly exceeds that of our society. Analysis of the parts indicate that they were some how moved here from Detroit, Michigan! How is that even possible?

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Time and the elements have taken their toll on the site – this Caddy is slowly sinking into the plain.

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Facing directly east the opening between the monoliths elements clearly points to another clue.

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Facing west the sun sets beyond this ancient and obviously hallowed place.

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The mystical structure is even more mysterious as the sun sets.

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A random tribute against the evening sky – a salmon leaps from the unfamiliar Nebraska ground.

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Karen ventures north to the shrines offered to this mysterious place.

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The fins of an ancient caddy reach up to the Nebraska sky.

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Karen hurries back to the monolith to capture the sunset through it’s ancient pillars.

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The colors of the evening sky illuminate the mysteriously rust-free surfaces of the monolith. I am certain that this is just as the ancients intended.

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The ancient snack bar in the distance must have provided sustenance to the race of men who built this.

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Sunset and mystery – what a conundrum!

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From the east I wonder if this Vega is pointing to Vega?

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What kind of civilization would have so expertly placed a Willys between a Gremlin and a Volare?

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This close-up does little to solve the mystery – no pins or notches hold these structures together!

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An ancient dinosaur stands guard over what appears to be the “rosetta stone” of Carhenge. Will this solve it’s mysteries?

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Apparently some ancient sage believed that foreign cars would end our civilization. I wonder if his descendants drive Hondas?

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A last look back at that snack bar fills us with wonder – we need to find someplace to grab dinner!

When we finally checked into a hotel we found that no one in Alliance had heard of the Agate Fossil Beds either. As I fell asleep at the Holiday Inn, I couldn’t help but wonder if some strange force had lead us to this place of mystery…

Little Dogs on the Prairie

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In a recent post I mentioned that I didn’t want to bore anyone with my many, many, many shots of incredibly cute prairie dogs in South Dakota and Wyoming. I received comments urging me to bore them with more shots, so I will comply with their requests.

On a recent trip of National Parks we encountered huge fearless populations of prairie dogs at Wind Cave National Park and at Devil’s Tower. They are so stinking cute it’s impossible to not stop and shoot. Once you start your brain waves change and you cannot stop. You enter a Prairie Dog Induced Coma – I capitalize because this is a technical term. I have concerns that viewing images may cause the same effect. Proceed at your own risk…

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This is the prairie dog that attacked Karen – after thinking about this for a while, it may have been trying to wake her from the Prairie Dog Induced Coma (PDIC) – this little guy may have saved her life!

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Some dogs operate in pairs – one alway serving as a look-out. Seems that the skinny one is usually the look-out, wonder why?

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Note how the dog on the left looks both ways while his cohort continues to eat without concern.

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The area to the left of the posts is the only area where humans are allowed to walk. Note that prairie dogs don’t care about our rights.

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These two were talking about us, I just know it!

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It amazes me that those little tails can keep them upright. This guy looks about ready to nod off.

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The valley below Devil’s Tower was filled with dogs – does this remind anyone else of “Whack-a-mole”?

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Nice digs! Note that another dog has violated the treaty and is digging in the dirty where people belong!

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If I am allowed a favorite prairie dog, this one is it. This mother dog looks like she has been through it. I’m thinking she took on a coyote or a fox to defend her young, or maybe she cut herself shaving. Either way, she’s a badass!

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It’s amazing she has such good posture, she could use a tiny 8-cupped bra. Brave little thing – my hero!

Next a series of shots taken in about 30 seconds of a very paranoid prairie dog…

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Gives you whiplash.

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Curious

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Balanced

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Butt dragger

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Chomping

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King of the Prairie

OK – look away from the screen before it’s too late….

Lunas in the Porch Light

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I moved to the Ozarks about a decade ago. I no longer live in the city and have a neighbor 10 feet away. I bought an old farmhouse on 7 acres about 5 miles from town. Close enough to be able to get the things you need to get by, far enough away to see stars at night. My first year was all about learning the rhythms of nature through the seasons. Peepers and whippoorwills start talking in May, tree frogs in June, cicadas in July and August – it all goes quiet again in October.

My first spring here I noticed that if a light was on in a room at night that flying insects would congregate on the windows – sometimes lots of them. If ladybugs get into the house they will hit their shells against the table lamp or TV looking for the light. One night I heard a very loud flutter against the living room window – it sounded like a bird crashed! I heard it again and saw something the color of a tennis ball swirl in the light and heard the window shake. I went outside and thought it might be a great green parakeet or something – but the flight pattern was so circular and random.

The next morning I went outside and saw the culprit – it was a Luna Moth. Now at the time I had no idea what that was – it’s color was amazing, but it was huge, larger than the palm of my hand! It was so beautiful that I watched for it to arrive the next night and it did. It only visited me for a few days and it was gone – until the next spring.

What follows is my photo study of this years visitors. Typically a moth lasts for 10 days and dies. A new generation arrives about 10 days later and after it dies they are gone for the year.

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This shot is taken from inside my screen door – their bodies look a lot like the pupae stage of the moth.

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Their bodies are covered with scales that look like fur

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They vary a bit in size and vividness.

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That crazy flight pattern is how the males find the females – those antenna pick up the scent

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Their tales flutter wildly when they fly

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This shot was taken with a 40 year old Macro lens on a bellows

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They eyespots have a translucent center.

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This guy got into my house and I was worried he would hurt himself before I got him out the door.

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I would leave my porch light on in the day time so that this one would stay.

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This one fell off the screen as I tried to close it – he rested on my step for about an hour.

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The edges of their wings almost look like woven tapestry to me.

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Sometimes the lower wings have a scalloped shape.

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This one was smaller than the rest and he stayed perched inside my smaller light fixture on the back porch.

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This image was also captured with a manual macro lens and bellows – in it you can see the scale structure clearly.

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This is another macro and bellows shot of just the antenna.

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So now they are gone. Summer is on it’s way in the Ozarks.