Morning Prescription

This  Prescription Coffee Mug at Zazzle by Carla Rolfe is pretty cool!

While sitting at the computer sipping my first cup of the day, I thought I’d share it.  Winking smile

Morning Coffee Prescription


Eyes of the Great Depression 017 – Updated with new information.

Eyes of the Great Depression 017

Originally posted March 15, 2009. Updated November 6, 2014
[click to continue…]


Dust, Drought and Depression #21.

Damaged Child, Shacktown, Elm Grove, Oklahoma


The photo sold at auction April 5, 2000 for a realized price of $70,500.1

Christie’s Sale 9330, Lot 250

Lot Description:

Damaged Child, Shacktown, Elm Grove, Oklahoma
Gelatin silver print. 1936. With faint Resettlement Administration number in pencil on the verso.
7.5/8 x 7.3/8in. (19.4 x 18.7cm.) Framed.

This iconic image of a child, titled “Damaged Child,” was taken in August 1936 in a Oklahoma “shacktown.”

No plumbing nor electricity.  Homes built from salvaged scraps.  Polluted water and no facilities for trash and other waste.

Shanty towns, also known as shacktowns, sprang up near many cities during the Great Depression.  Sometimes called Hooverville, Little Oklahoma or Okieville, these settlements often grew on empty land, unrecognized officially by local authorities, but often tolerated or ignored out of necessity.

The child in the image was one of the many displaced by the droughts and economic hard times of the 30s.  She is described by the photographer, Dorothea Lange, as “possibly retarded, as well as abused, and made an outcast because she was different.”2

Beyond the general sympathy Lange possessed for her subjects, she may have felt a deeper personal connection to this particular girl: at the age of seven, Lange herself had contracted polio, which caused her foot to become limp. Here, perhaps even more than in her many other astonishing photographs of the Great Depression, Lange’s remarkable talent is her ability to create photojournalistic images which “show an empathy so deep that it raises them to the level of art.”3

While it seems that the child’s left cheek may be a bit swollen, Lange’s title for the photo and her short description are likely very subjective rather than factual.  Lange was a photographer documenting, through her photographs, conditions of the migrants and others.  However, she also had a background as a portrait photographer and this image is very much a portrait, probably intentionally, likely with the thought that that it might be used to convey a message if it turned out.  Also, I know of at least two instances where, in later years, subjects of her photos strongly disagreed with the description that she had jotted down when she took the images.

The title “Damaged Child” seems overdetermined, as does the portrait in some ways.  The ragged clothes falling off the scrawny body, the uncombed hair, the grim background…. Haven’t we seen this before?  In Jacob Riis’s turn-of-the-century photographs of New York City slums?  In John Thomson’s similar portraits from Glasgow and London? This boyish girl may be particularly bold, with her direct stare into the camera and black marks for eyes, but not unique.  Of course, her typicality is part of the social message of the photograph: there are many just like her and we shouldn’t turn away or move on.

What seems, then, most surprising in the photograph is the positioning of her hands.  Hidden and held close, the girl’s hands suggest a shyness and self-protection that the rest of the image belies.  It is as if metaphorically she is refusing to ask for a handout.  Gordon tells us that Lange moved slowly as she set up for portraits, fussing with the camera and lighting until her subjects relaxed.  But this girl elm grove shacktown, oklahoma county, oklahoma never relaxed.  And Lange, betraying her background in studio portraiture, positions her beautifully, slightly off center against the textured backdrop.  Both photographer and model seem to know exactly what to do. 4

Many of the displaced lacked the funds to even join the great westward migration down Route 66 and other highways.  In Oklahoma City, many of these people ended up in the Elm Grove shacktown.

Who were these people?  Where were they from and what was their life like before coming to Elm Grove?  What happened to them after their encounter with the government photographer and after the depression ended?

Woman and children in Elm Grove Shacktown, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma 1936

1 Christie’s Auction Results

2Damaged Child’ – Manila Bulletin Picture Perfect 

3American Photographs, Heyman, p. 25

4 Migrant Child – Victoria Olsen


Dorothea Lange.

I have been working with some images from the Great Depression by photographer Dorothea Lange.  This is the first video I have come across that features her.

Dorothea Lange’s stirring images of migrant farmers and the unemployed have become universally recognized symbols of the Great Depression. Later photographs documenting the internment of Japanese Americans and her travels throughout the world extended her body of work. Watch the video to hear Lange discuss how she began her documentary projects for the Farm Security Administration, and learn how she felt about some of her assignments and subjects. (Getty Museum on YouTube)


Talking about the coming winter.

I’ve had several discussions about the coming winter over the last week or so.  Most have heard the talk and predictions that the coming winter will be a bad one.

2013-12-06 014edTalk is talk, but how often do people take action?

One thing we planned for this fall was getting our chimney cleaned.  Karen talked to the chimney sweep company yesterday and they’re probably not going to get to us until the beginning of December.  Karen set up an appointment.  They might be able to get to us before that. Might.

The woman she talked to said that it’s been crazy busy for their business, a lot more than normal.

The last time they were this crazy busy was in the fall and early winter of 1999.

Back during the run-up to Y2K.

Remember Y2K?

2013-12-06 024edI guess people were getting ready just in case the power went away because some computers wouldn’t compute properly after the date change to 2000.

We had a pretty cold and snowy winter last year – accompanied by a lot of power outages.  Many people had to resort to using their fireplaces more than normal and, for some, normal fireplace use was none at all.  That was pretty much us most years.

Given the experience of last winter and the predictions for the upcoming winter, it seems that more than just a few are taking action to prepare.

Current predictions from Weather Bell.

The numbers on the image on the left are the departure from normal in degrees Celsius.  To get the departure from normal in Fahrenheit, multiply by 1.8, which means that the dark blue area is projected to average 7.2°F below normal.

The percentage on the chart on the right is simply a projection of the percent of normal snowfall that will be seen.



Saying Goodbye

Mary Lorraine Thibodeau Marlow

Mary Lorraine Thibodeau Marlow (16 Dec 1924 – 18 October 2014)

Karen said it best in a post on her blog.

The photo is by our daughter, Melanie.


A flash and a boom and a zzzzzzztttt!!

Early this morning, tumblr_mg4nrbqLpN1rw7jp7o1_500I was up and sitting at my computer as a line of thunderstorms went through.  We were in a severe thunderstorm warning and there was a lot of lightning and thunder, along with a rain and a brief period of small hail.

Then there was a flash and a boom — accompanied by a zzzzzzztttt about 18 inches in front of me…. and everything went dark!

We’ve only been home from our trip for 5 days and already we lost power.  Jeeze!

And we were the only house in our stretch of the road that did!

So I got my cell phone out and used the handy, dandy Entergy app to report the outage – then went back to bed. must not have been many outages in this area last night.

It couldn’t have been more than a couple of hours before there was a bucket truck at the end of the drive.

Normally – sheesh, we’ve lost power to the house often enough that I can describe the normal process – the fuse at the top of the pole is replaced using a “hot stick” to lift the new fuse into place and then close the circuit back in.

It’s a very quiet operation that I probably would have slept through.

Not this time, though. It wasn’t the normal simple fix.

The weather was warm enough that we had some windows open and the sound of the truck and the equipment on it was enough that I woke up after about 15 minutes at 4 am, according to Karen.

The sounds were not that loud, for the most part, by the time I woke up, but they were not the normal night time sounds and I couldn’t get back to sleep.  And the lights from the truck were certainly not what we have out here in the country that early in the morning.

My assumption was that the lightning strike had taken out the transformer.

When the lineman came up to the house to check out the meter, I went outside and talked to him for a bit.  As I thought, this time it was the transformer and it had been replaced.  He also told me that a major upgrade on a power line in our area would take a lot of the load off the main line that we are powered from, which should reduce the frequency of outages for us.  I had heard about the upgrade last spring and, last week, had noticed the work had started.

I guess we’ll see.  We’ve had too many power outages since last fall.

Oh, the zzzzzzztttt in front of me?  That was the DSL modem getting fried… again. The last time was just a few months ago and, along with the zzzzzzztttt, I also saw sparks inside the modem.

I picked up the new modem on the way home from the gym today – no charge.Open-mouthed smile


Eruption at Bardabunga Volcano

This video is a montage from several drone Phantom 2 quadcopters flights and GoPro video cameras.  On one flight the hear was so intense that the camera lens started to melt!


15 Halloween Picks

(Note: Sales from Zazzle and other internet income helps to fund this blog.)

Halloween is fast approaching. How about a selection of spooky Halloween products from Zazzle?


Bears and Pole Bridge.

Exploring in and around Glacier National Park, August 28, 2014

With all the bears that we saw on this trip, there was only one that we didn’t get a picture of.  One of the previous two nights, just before we turned onto Apgar Road from Going to the Sun Road, a black bear started to cross the road in front of us.  We were already slowing down for the turn to go to the campground and another car coming from the other direction also slowed after seeing the bear.  The bear wheeled around and headed back into the woods before we had a chance to even grab our cameras.

Headed to the Pole Bridge area of Glacier, on Camas Road, we saw four more black bears, a sow and 3 cubs, crossing the road in front of us.

Black bears, Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Black bears, Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Black bears, Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

After the bears went into the grass and woods next to the road, we were able to to get a few closer photos of the mother from the car.

Black bear, Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

The route to Pole Bridge goes outside the park as the inside the park road is closed, at least when we were there.  Glacier National Park requests that all bear and mountain lion sightings be reported to them as they want to track any possible interactions with humans and intervene if needed. We reported the bears at the entrance station as we left.

I had reported the first bear to a campground host, telling him that it had been on the Going to the Sun road about to cross over the road into our loop of the campground.  While we were talking he told me that the night before, about 11 o’clock, the mountain lion was spotted in ‘E” loop, walking down the campground road.  That was the opposite side of the campground from us, but still…! He also said that a mountain lion was seen several days before in the campground with several cubs.

Meadows, Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Cradled between the Continental Divide and Whitefish Mountain Range and located a mile from the northwest entrance to Glacier National Park is the electricity-free community of Polebridge. Made up of a handful of houses, cabins, a hostel and small ranches along the North Fork Road, the hub of this area is the historic Polebridge Mercantile and its neighboring Northern Lights Saloon—both powered by generators.  (Glacier Country Regional Tourism Commission)

Pole Bridge, near Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Pole Bridge, near Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Pole Bridge, near Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Huckleberry bear claws and other assorted pastries – we got a couple of the bear claws for a morning snack. Open-mouthed smile

Pole Bridge, near Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Northern Lights Saloon, Pole Bridge, near Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Northern Lights Saloon, Pole Bridge, near Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Once back at the campground, we decided to stick around the campsite for the rest of the day.  Our site was nice, except for a short period in the afternoon when a little extra shading was needed.

Apgar Campground,  Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

After supper, we walked down to Apgar Village and  had some ice cream.

Apgar Campground to Apgar Village, Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Apgar Village, Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Mountain Lion warning, Apgar Village, Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Apgar Village, Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana, August 28, 2014

Next: A hike to some falls.