Category Archives: photography

Orange Monsters*

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“The morning of the Weigh-Off. Carefully lifting a giant pumpkin.” Taken on October 1, 2010 by David Politzer, via Wikimedia Commons. This photo was under the categories: “Giant Pumpkin exhibitions,” “Agriculture in Ohio,” and “Fairs in Ohio.” 

(*No, the title is not a reference to our president.)

I’m going to be crotchety today. Since Halloween is on the horizon I thought I would post about kids and jack o’ lantern carving (with super-cute photos, if you don’t mind seeing kids with knives, which I don’t), but then that seemed too “ordinary” so I thought I’d do a little research on giant pumpkins.

What I discovered is how much the idea of “giant pumpkins” has changed in recent history. It used to be, if a baby could fit inside of a pumpkin, that was one big pumpkin! Now the pumpkins have to be picked up by forklifts to qualify as giants. Now, at pumpkin competitions, the pumpkins lie there like beached whales looking all flat, deflated, and, to me, forlorn. 

I think it’s gone too far.  

Sometimes when I’m at the gym, I see that “My 600-lb. Life” is airing on a few of the dozen TV monitors. (Yesterday, it was “My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding.” Hmmm. I sense a theme.) When I see “My 600-lb. Life” playing, I feel a little heartsick. Some days (most days?) it seems that our whole society has turned into a freak show. Affliction as entertainment.

Maybe it’s crochety-ness, but I thought of “My 600-lb Life” when I saw these pumpkins–and I can’t help seeing them as another affliction. They make me think of the madness of over-competitiveness and about obsessions, especially obsessions with all that is

BIG.

But mostly, with these pumpkins, I thought, Where does it end?

Last year the largest pumpkin in the world (grown in Germany) was 2,624.6 pounds. Congratulations go to  Mathia Willemijn, the prize-winner, who seems to wear a very satisfied look that says (to me, anyway), “Look at me, I am the KING of pumpkins!” 

I blame Howard Dill, in part. Dill’s famous ‘Atlantic Giant’ seeds are what really got the super-sized pumpkin competitions going. Dill patented his seeds after breaking a world’s record in 1981 for a pumpkin that weighed 493.5 pounds (rather petite by today’s standards). I found it interesting to note in the description of the seeds for sale: “These pumpkins aren’t suitable for much but novelty, though some do attempt to carve them, they make a spectacular and fun addition to any garden (if you have enough space)!”

Aren’t suitable for much. As a gardener, I always think of the water it takes to grow one of these monsters. (Yes, another bah-humbug! Apologies to all of you who love the idea of giant pumpkins.)

As to,”Where does it end?”–more research took me to a Smithsonian article where I learned that the potential for size (for a round pumpkin) is 20,000 lbs. You read that right, twenty thousand pounds. The article also explores one grower’s desire to mess with the DNA to go even bigger.

Now that’s scary!

Here are some, IMHO, ugly giant pumpkins for your contemplation, all found through Wikimedia Commons.

(If you have some thoughts on this issue, I’d love to hear them in the Comments!)

I would name this photo “Gee, Those Porta-Potties Look Small!”  Another by David V. Politzer – “A view of the line-up at the Weigh-Off, pumpkins at an Ohio county fair,” October 2, 2009.

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“Giant Pumpkin,”  by Alex1961, dated October 8, 2004.

“Twin contestants at the Weigh-Off,” October 3, 2009, by David Politzer.

 “Pumpkin Exhibition, Jucker Farmart in Aathal-Seegräben (Switzerland),” October 13, 2002, by Roland zh.

 

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“Giant pumpkin fan and Weigh-Off spectator’, October 2, 2010, by David Politizer.

“A giant pumpkin in the patch, early morning,” David Politzer, October, 2, 2010. (I have to confess, I LOVE this photograph.)

A Twist:
After posting the photos above, I discovered that David Politzer was not a farmer (as I had assumed after finding the first photograph) or simply a man obsessed with giant pumpkins who takes great photographs.

Nope. David V. Politzer is an artist in Houston, Texas, a photographer obsessed (for a while, anyway) with the monsters. I agree with critic Kelly Klaasmeyer, who describes Politizer’s photographs as capturing “views of ‘nature’ that are decidedly unnatural.”

I love it. 

 

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“Documentation of David Politzer’s ‘Heavyweights’, an exhibition of Giant Pumpkin photographs at Houston Center for Photography,” January 12, 2018.

My daughter Lily, who just read this post, thinks I am a party pooper. She also argues that pumpkins-as-monsters is fitting for Halloween!

I guess it depends on your point of view.

I hope you all have a fabulous “Pumpkin Day”/Happy Halloween on the 31st.

— SK

 

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Monthly Museletter – June 2018

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“Lunar Libration” by Tomruen, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s getting very close to the longest day in the northern hemisphere. Can you believe it? The days are their longest, yet if you’re a gardener you’re probably still short on time, right? I still have things to plant!

Thank you, Karla, for sharing some of the interesting links and quotes you found last month.❤ —SK

P. S. If you’re from Colorado Springs and would like Karla’s full newsletter that includes local events, you can write her at karlaann45 @ gmail.com.

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“The planet Earth, view from the American side, View type, Satellite”. 2018 by Educator57, via Wikimedia Commons.

 

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

 

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“Honey Bear Backlit”, 2015, by Eric Kilby from Somerville, MA, USA via Wikimedia Commons.

My fave ideas in “50 Ways to Save the Honey Bees (and change the world)”, a book by J. Scott Donahue, are:
1. Bee Bathfill a wide shallow dish or plate with water & a pile of gravel in the center for bees to land on.
2. Ban the Bear—those plastic bear-shaped honey containers likely contain non-local honey and mostly high-fructose corn syrup & cooked honey.

 

Biomimicry at work: 14 inventions inspired by Nature.  See the “Very Fish Wind Farm” and “Firefly Lightbulbs”.

Check this out (below). A real “green team”!

 

Put a house for non-stinging pollinators like mason bees in your backyard! The Giving Tree Montessori teachers found this one at Costco.

What looks like a toy train, swims like an eel, and gathers pollution information? Find the answer to this riddle here.

Today I dug out Bernie Krause’s 1988 audiotape GORILLAS IN THE MIX, on which ALL songs are mixed voices of NATURE, from Hippos, Fish, Sand Dunes etc., . . . then I bought a new CD of it!

 

Some Bad News (from The Years Project):

For every dollar the oil/gas/coal industry spends on campaign contributions and lobbying, they get back 83 dollars in handouts from our taxpayer pockets!

The Lullaby of Our Language:
“We will never, we cannot, leave animals alone, even the tiniest one, ever, because we know we are one with them. Their blood is our blood. Their breath is our breath, their beginning our beginning, their fate our fate. Thus we deny them. Thus we yearn for them. They are among us and within us and of us, inextricably woven with the form and manner of our being, with our understanding and our imaginations. They are the grit and the salt and the lullaby of our language.” —Pattiann Rogers

Visit aurorasaurus.org where the crowd-sourced data about the Northern Lights is compiled.

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“Aurora Borealis and Australis Poster”, posted February 9, 2012, assembled by 14jbella from images found at English Wikipedia, via Wikimedia Commons

We are praying for Hawaii, even as we are lava-ing this song!

And . . .

 

“If you need sunshine to bring you happiness, you haven’t tried dancing in the rain!”
—Unknown

 

Until next month . . . have a beautiful June!

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June is for Strawberries

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“Fraises” by Lisa Risager from Denmark, May 28, 2013, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Algonquin tribes of what is now New England called the June full moon (this year on the 27th) the Strawberry Moon because the phase marked the best time of year to harvest this wild fruit. Berries are a’plenty.

I love June (and strawberries). What about you?

If you don’t have the garden space, or the woods close by to find wild berries, grow them in pots! I love these little clay pots on a windowsill in Denmark. Here’s another image I found from Italy.

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“Fragole” by Zanchetta Fabio, April 18, 2016, via Wikimedia Commons

And then, this mesmerizing time-lapse photography.

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“Strawberry Growth GIF” by Tomas “Frooxius” Mariancik, Czech Republic, May 19, 2014, via Wikimedia Commons

 

From Wikimedia Commons: “A timelapse of a growth of a strawberry fruit (a GIF version), captured for about 40 days and post-processed (stabilized, some night frames were removed to prevent flashing, speed up is not constant – the flowering part is speeded up less than the fruit growth one). My original published video with some behind the scenes shots is available here.

I hope you’re growing some strawberries this year. I harvested and enjoyed my first one from my little backyard strawberry bed just a few days ago. It’s in its third year, the plants are flourishing, the berries are many, and I only wish I’d have created it sooner!—SK

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Melting Snowflakes

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“Melting Snowflakes or Тающие_снежинки”, an image from the European Science Photo Competition 2015, via Wikimedia Commons

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Vintage Halloween

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As we harvest our pumpkins and begin to fully enjoy the fall beauty of chrysanthemums and colored leaves, I thought it would be fun to share some Halloween images of the past. All are from Wikimedia Commons. The featured photo of the baby (unidentified) sleeping in a pumpkin is a 1906 lantern slide from the National Library of Australia.

Halloween_pumpkin_carvers_1917-2Three-boys-on-porch-steps-cutting-faces-in-pumpkins-Library-of-Congress

This photo, showing three boys carving pumpkins, is from 1917 and came from the Library of Congress.

Halloween._Pauline_and_Barbara_and_Dorothy_Luck_1940Conrad-Poirier-via-Wikimedia-Commons

The well-known Canadian photographer Conrad Poirier took this shot of Barbara, Pauline, and Dorthy Luck looking out on a spooky scene in 1940. With the permission and cooperation of Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec and Wikimedia Canada under the Poirier Project.

Halloween-No_Halloween_without_Jack-o-LanternBy-Ruth-Edna-Kelley-Public-domain-via-Wikimedia-Commons

These two boys are from the Book of Halloween, 1919, by Ruth Edna Kelley. Titled “No Hallowe’en without a Jack-o’-Lantern.” (So true!)

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An 1890 image from a student Halloween party at the University of Southern California. That’s a LOT of pumpkin carving!

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This sweet toddler comes from the California Historical Society Collection, 1860-1960. Scratched on the pumpkin is the year “1901,” the pumpkin’s weight of “230#,” and “Raised by J.J. Teague.”

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This photo came from a collection from the Waterdown Public School, Waterdown, Ontario, Canada. It’s from 1928. I’m not quite sure if it’s a teacher or a student, but I like her outfit! By UNK photographer: uploaded by WayneRay.

HAPPY (almost) HALLOWEEN!

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Sandra Knauf is the one-woman-show behind Greenwoman Publishing. Her books include the six-volume series Greenwoman (compilations of literary garden writing and art), her young adult fantasy novel, Zera and the Green Man, and an anthology of sexy gardening stories that she says is the feminist gardener answer to Fifty Shades of GreyFifty Shades of Green. She was a 2008-09 featured “Colorado Voices” columnist for The Denver Post and her humorous essays have appeared nationally in GreenPrints and MaryJanesFarm. She has also been a guest commentator on KRCC’s (NPR’s southern Colorado affiliate) “Western Skies” radio show. Sandra lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her family, dogs, huge urban garden, and lots of books.

 

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Pet Pica pica

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Photograph by Arne F. Køpke, National Archives of Norway, via Wikimedia Commons.

When I was looking for an image for Tricia’s poem “Maple Bacon March Morning” on Tuesday I came across this one. It was in a collection of images from Norwegian photographer Arne F. Køpke and taken in 1952. That’s all that’s mentioned, except that the bird is a Pica pica, or Eurasian magpie, one of the members of the crow family.

There were several photos of the bird and family, but that one was the best, though this one was quite interesting, too.

By Arne F. Køpke - National Archives of Norway

By Arne F. Køpke – National Archives of Norway, via Wikimedia Commons.

In other pictures it shows the bird perched on Tatt av Vinden by Margaret Mitchell.

Arne F. Køpke - National Archives of Norway

By Arne F. Køpke – National Archives of Norway, via Wikimedia Commons.

Could it be? There were several volumes . . . I did a little research and learned that while Mitchell published 48 books in her lifetime Tatt av Vinden does translate to Gone With the Wind (thank you, Google Translate!).

—S.K.

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