Archive for July, 2013

Home as Castle2

First, this has nothing at all to do with the Castle Doctrine or anything at all political. Just enjoy the photo.

I think this is one of the more attractive homes on Lake Mendota. It is located in the Village of Maple Bluff, where I reside (not inside of this home or anything near its size, however). If a person’s home can be seen to be the person’s castle then a castle must this be. It is rather large, but nowhere near as large as the gargantuan facilities (I don’t know how anything over 20,000 square feet can really be called a home – but call me if you want to give me a tour, I am willing to learn:) now not uncommon in certain parts of the U.S. and elsewhere. In my humble opinion, such large facilities may be castles whether or not they are homes. I’m sure they have extravagant security features – not to mention indoor plumbing and hot water (which would seal the deal for me) – that would put many a monarch of years’ past and their actual castles to shame. This is not the most imposing “castle” you will see in this week’s challenge and but for the U.S.’s strong “home is your castle” sentiments, it probably wouldn’t really be a castle. I have plenty of photos of “castles” (in the U.S. sense) that are far more humble and most likely more “homey.” They too are every bit as “U.S.-sense castley” as this home, I find this home and castle enjoyable.


I know I am behind in the challenge here, but I had submitted an entry for curves while on vacation and then had not done much with photography for several days but take pictures (hooray). When I finally returned to Points of View, I learned that curves had become roof (so to speak). I pretty quickly decided what I wanted to submit, but I had to get back from my vacation before doing so. Actually these photos are taken as we zoomed down the road — back in Wisconsin at last, but still with miles to go in order to finally get back home — on the final day of our vacation to North Dakota and Minnesota (more about this later).

Pictured here are grain storage silos.

Wisconsin, the U.S. state in which I live, is an urban/rural state with roughly 2/3rds of its residents living in urban areas.  While Wisconsin’s economy was once dominated by small family farms, that has not been the case for many years. However, it is still commonplace to see small- to mid-sized farms with grain storage silos along the highways and byways of Wisconsin. While most silos today are large metal affairs owned by large cooperatives or industrial agricultural concerns, these photos are examples of the kinds of silos in which a single farmer might store grain from the farmer’s own fields (obviously, the more silos, the more prosperous the farm is or at least was in the past). Of course, for my purposes, silos are very handy in that they combine both the prior word a week challenge (curves) with the one I am just now able to submit a response to (roof). I hope you enjoy the curved roofs of the silos of Wisconsin.

Word a Week Photo Challenge - Curve (Answered with a Little Help from My Father-in-Law)

I have been on vacation this week in North Dakota visiting my wife’s dad – a terrific guy who is 90 years old and still going strong – as well as the rest of her family. My father-in-law‘s garden has gotten smaller over the years, but as you see, his lilies are still going strong. The graceful curves of these plants made them a fitting entrant both for the weekly “curves” challenge as well as a nice way to honor my father-in-law.

Weekly Photo Challenge - Fresh (A Cool Break From the Heat Wave)

We have two outdoor deck chairs that we use during the summer but that we left out this past winter. This is a photo of them covered by a fresh snow fall. Given the heat wave that is hitting much of the U.S. and other parts of the world, I thought this might help bring some at least the thought of relief to anyone dealing with too much heat.

I was photographing some moss that was growing in a sheltered space in a rock in our backyard. The moss “forest” was my main subject and was interesting enough but while I was reviewing the photos I quite unexpectedly spotted this little guy. This was so small that I didn’t notice it at all when I took the photo, nor even when I first review it. I just happen to take a close look at something near this when I saw this marble like structure and looking more closely saw the mite on top. He looked like he was thinking “What Now”? (In looking at the original I’d say this entire photo is about 1/250th of the original shot. The only way to I was able to look this good was using Perfect Resize (formerly Genuine Fractals), which can do a really nice job in many circumstances. By the way, I have tried to find out what the marble-like structure and/or the mite are without success so if anyone who sees this actually knows, please let me know.

Weekly Photo Challenge: The Golden Hour (When Is a Daisy Not a Daisy?)

When it is seen from the other side during the Golden Hour. This is a photo of a Shasta Daisy, which as you will see from this link, looks quite a bit different when it is viewed from its normal perspective — in front of it.

Petersburg, ND Station Wagon

I come from a large family (Catholic, started off with identical twin boys of which I was unfairly the second or more likely misidentified as such). After starting our family with a matched set of boys you might think there would be a significant sanity break as new mom and dad learned the ropes, but actually the parade of children arrived on a fairly predictable basis until there were six of us.  I think mom and dad were thinking six was a good number when – surprise – the child who finally completed the family arrived.  Five boys and two girls.

Every year we would go on a family summer vacation trip. One of the common elements of our travels was our station wagon – a Ford Country Squire. It had lots of power with a 390 horsepower V8. In those days gas was $.25 a gallon for regular (premium was more, but we never bought it). All of the gas was “leaded” to get rid of engine knock. As I recall, gasoline smelled pretty good, though I didn’t make a habit of inhaling it and I don’t think inhaling things was at all common in those days. That Ford wagon went through a lot and shortly after the time when my brother and I were able to drive we took to calling it “Killer” because you could move the steering wheel several inches in either direction before the wagon would deem to respond by actually turning the car.

Despite showing its age, the Country Squire lasted for many years. In addition to being durable, it had – or lacked – a number of other noteworthy features. As I was writing this, I recalled that the Country Squire had no air conditioner.  I was born late in 1953 and graduated from high school when I was 17 in 1971. It is probably during that period when auto air conditioning became common place because when I was a kid, almost nobody’s family who I knew had an air-conditioned car, it was an expensive luxury and who needed it when you had windows! (Not surprisingly, I understand it was much more common in the South).) Of course we had to crank the windows down on most of our cars while I was growing up (no electric windows for us). One exception that I recall is that dad controlled the rear window, which could actually be raised and lowered in that station wagon. This was such a great thing because we could get some air moving through the car to cool us down. It was especially useful when Dad smoked his occasional cigar as he drove. Little did we know that we were all being turned into idiot mutants because of the lead pouring out of the wagon’s exhaust and then being sucked into the car through that open back window?  Except for the fact that we didn’t become idiot mutants. Who knows why? Lead is very dangerous. I had another 750-1000 words of little tidbits of life that were stirred by this photo but really, I doubt you would find it interesting. So much for my family growing up.

The funny thing is that the photo at hand stirred all of these memories and it isn’t all that closely related to those memories.

The photo above is not of a Ford Country Squire it is of a Chevy Wagon. It wasn’t taken 40-50 years ago in the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin where I grew up. I took this shot in Petersburg, North Dakota on a Christmas Day as my wife and I and our two dogs headed home after visiting her family in Minot for the holidays. I had never been to North Dakota as a child. In fact, when I was growing up we didn’t travel too very far from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area in the winter. However, this photo is here because a beautiful coating of hoarfrost had layered the trees in Petersburg (Pop. 192) and the area along Hwy. 2 and my very wonderful wife had agreed to let me stop at Petersburg for a short photo shoot before continuing down the road.  I was able to get some nice photos in Petersburg, which generally seemed like a small but well-maintained town. I love this photo of the abandoned Chevy but I don’t think it is representative of Petersburg as much as it is of the decline of parts of the rural U.S.

So much for nostalgia, mention of Hwy. 2 in North Dakota brings to mind the fact that parts of rural North Dakota that used to be quietly out-of-the-way are now insanely busy. The same Hwy 2 we were driving along in eastern North Dakota and seeing only an occasional car just a few years ago is now almost impossible to even cross in Williston on the southwestern side of the state. Williston sits on top of the Bakken formation, which is a huge (possibly enormous) oil reserve. The resulting boom has brought a large and rapid population increase to Williston, ND as well as multi-thousand dollar rents (if anything can be found), ‘round the clock traffic along Hwy. 2 that makes it almost impossible to cross, workers housed in “man camps” and wealth beyond what many of the people working there ever expected. It has also brought misery for longtime residents who valued the slower growth taking place before the oil boom. It has been devastating for long-time low asset residents who don’t have the ability to participate in the boom (the elderly and disabled) as costs for everything have risen quickly while their incomes have not.