Wednesday, July 20, 2016
There was an early morning chill to the air, an autumn feeling that kissed sun-baked skin as I moved along the streets. The sweet 'Mary Poppins' ride, a cornflower blue bicycle sans gears and handle breaks, but proudly bearing a silver bell, is my mode of choice for getting to and from work each day. In the fresh air, any leftover brain fog is cleared away, while sluggish muscles are wakened. I shout my "Good mornings!" to neighbours and acquaintances on my travels, giving the trip a social vibe.
The thing with cycling is that it doesn't really take much more time to travel the seven blocks to the office than it would to drive. By the time someone else unlocks a vehicle, gets in, fastens their seatbelt, turns the key and puts it in drive, I'm already a block and half on my way. Stop signs slow them down far more than they do me and I have options that keep me from being stalled by traffic at intersections. Look out pedestrians!
When this mode of transportation isn't an option, if distance allows it, I'd far rather rely on my own two feet than a set of wheels, too. The hassles seem far less somehow. And it just happens to be a darn good way to get some exercise.
However, there's no denying we've created a world where travelling many miles at a time is done with regularity. For business and pleasure. Cars and trucks take us to family and friends, to work and play. We see the world by plane, train, boat and again automobile.
People often have a favourite ride — a fierce Harley, a shiny convertible or some classic American muscle. The latter is my choice, a candy apple red 1967 Dodge Coronet RT that is probably the only material thing in this world I adore. If this is going to be the ride of choice to take me places, any possibility that a walk or bike could work as well is ignored. Buckling up in this beauty is not a means to an end but pure pleasure.
The nostalgia factor is principle to that. As I strain to hear the radio tunes over static and engine rumble, as I feel the rugged rhythm of rapidly shifted gears, as I push windblown hair out of my eyes, I am taken back. Back to a time when driving around in cars was the Saturday night pastime, when the sound of 1050 CHUM blared out of every car window. I am, no pun intended, transported.
How we get from here to there depends on the reason for travel as much as for the preference. I bike for convenience and exercise, drive when I must, fly when it's necessary and cruise because I want to.
American politician Robert Brady said that there can be no doubt that the transportation sector is the most critical sector of our economy. It absolutely drives our lives and our lifestyles. Today's clipart collections highlight this integral part of our world:
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Disappointing my granddaughter is something I strenuously avoid. So far, her naivety has her holding me in the highest regard. I know some day the light in her eyes won't shine quite as brightly as it does now, but I certainly don't want to look in them and see it fade just yet.
Thus, when this darling asked me to draw an alligator, momentary panic struck. There's little more I want to do than please her, but my artistic ability can be described only as rudimentary. Her mother, a preschool educator, draws some pretty realistic animals for her. Would the lines I etch out in sidewalk chalk pass muster with this four-year-old, whom, I should mention, does exact some pretty high standards from her loyal followers.
Looking into those enigmatic baby blues of hers as she passed me the necessary tool for my creative effort, a chunk of Pepto pink, I knelt to the task, furrowed brow beaded with nervous sweat. As my work of art developed, however, I began to relax seeing the sweet smile of anticipation on Little Missy's face. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and whatever this creature was, done by my hand, it was enough.
Sure, she argued with me that it didn't look like an alligator. She even laughed at the idea that I thought it did. But I tried and apparently that was enough.
The kitty I drew a few weeks later for her, copying from a puzzle we'd just put together, was far more realistic and illicited not giggles but a hug.
Whether you're called upon to draw by hand or create an image using software, talent is obviously a huge asset. However, there are also many step by step tutorials to make the ability a little more attainable to the less artistic, or to help others hone their skills. Here are some wonderful drawing tutorials from the iCLIPART.com Pinterest page.
Monday, July 18, 2016
The sultriness hung in the air like thick fog on a dark night, while cicadas sang soprano notes from treetops. As a gentle breeze cut a welcome trail through the humidity, butterflies performed their soft dance along the way. From the subtle Cabbage White to the more dramatic Swallowtail, a variety came through to grace us with their lovely presence.
Our daughter lives in a country home nestled amidst several urban centres. The property includes some acreage of woodland as well as a natural pond where a variety of flora and fauna thrive. Occasionally, some of the latter make their way to us. The howl of coyotes rise through the night air, at times at a range that's less than desirable. Deer and rabbits visit the garden on the sly, the odd frog strays to the children's play area much to the youngsters' delight and a snapping turtle is sometimes seen crossing the front lawn enroute to the grassy ditch.
The trees are alive with birdsong and the garden is visited by an assortment of bugs including elusive, beautiful butterflies.
These attractive insects are a desired subject for photography, but their inherent shyness makes opportunities fleeting. I found success once, several years ago, while taking some photos down at a rugged shoreline. Several butterflies arrived to flit around Scotch thistles growing in between the rocks and actually allowed me to move in for a nice, tight shot.
The end result is one of my favourites ever, and actually ended up winning an award at an amateur photo competition.
Many times since I've tried and many times since I've failed to even come remotely close to photographing a butterfly. My trip to a conservatory in Florida was a comedy show parody as they evaded my camera at every turn, teasing with striking poses against vibrant flowers, before lifting off to flutter above and lead me on a merry chase.
It all made me determined to improve the experience the next time the chance arose. Here are helpful expert tips I found that will hopefully make it easier:
8 Tips for Photographing Butterflies
Butterfly Photography Tips
How to Photograph Butterflies