Friday, August 29, 2014

Happy Birthday Erika!

I have been friends with Erika since the seventh grade.  When she moved to Norway after ninth grade my sister and I went to visit her and her family.  When we returned I started getting lots of letters from her which I kept in a box under my bed.  I still have all those letters under my bed and I still get hand-written letters from Erika. 

Today is her birthday and I was determined to make a card and send it through the real mail.  So this past weekend I designed this card, printed it, and sent it off Monday.  Hopefully she received it in time and had the pleasure that she has given me so many times...the joy of opening a real letter that is hand-written just for you.  Wishing you a very happy birthday Erika...filled with lots of love and joy! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Spring Grove Sketch

Christina, Amy, and I sketched at Spring Grove Cemetery this weekend.  This particular building has always intrigued me with its Gothic Revival architecture and flying buttresses.  The Spring Grove website says that it was built in 1869 and was built for an English immigrant named Dexter who was a whiskey baron.

Part of the reason I love sketching with Christina and Amy is that it is so nice to sit and chit chat while being productive at the same time.  But I also love to see the different ways we interpret the same object.  You can see their sketches here.  After sketching we headed down to Findlay Market and ate pho.  A wonderful way to spend a Saturday!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Erosion Sand Bags

On our trip to Isle of Palms, SC I took a morning walk every day around the top of the island and each day I had to traverse these erosion sand bags.  At first I thought, "How distasteful!  Someone built their condo way to close to the beach and didn't leave any dunes for protection!" 

But soon I was oddly attracted to those erosion sand bags.  I just couldn't get enough of them.  The forms and shapes produced by the eroding bags were stunning!

And look at the way the light illuminated their soft, bulbous bodies!

And when I saw the bag in the photo below it made me laugh to think how the ocean had slowly, wave after wave, molded this sandbag into a jellyfish!  Quite the artiste!

At times the tide was so high I had to climb on top of the bags just to get around the tip of the island.

I suppose there are many lessons to be learned from this, don't build buildings right next to the ocean with no dunes.  But I also learned a lesson of a different sort.  That it is possible to find beauty everywhere if you have your eyes open...even in the most unlikely of places.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Beach Beauties

My main goal this summer was to go to the beach and that is why we went to Charleston, SC.  We ended up staying at a condo on the Isle of Palms and every morning I woke up early and took a nice long walk on the beach.  And the beach never ceases to provide amazing things to photograph.  In the photo above you can see my very favorite beach beauty.  It is a whelk egg case that washed up on shore.  As you know if you follow this blog I loooooooooove repetition so it naturally follows that I love whelk egg cases.  Each "disc" contained a baby whelk.  You can often see the hole in each disc where the young whelk exited and if there isn't a hole, you can open it and find a baby whelk.

The photo below is a cannonball jellyfish.  When I googled it I learned several interesting facts about them.

1) To reproduce they shoot sperm out of their mouth which are caught by another jelly.
2) They are an important food source for the endangered leatherback sea turtle.
3) They don't commonly sting humans (although they contain toxins that can harm us).
4)  They are called "Jellyballs" in Georgia, where they are the third largest commercial fishing industry after shrimps and crabs.
5) The "Jellyballs" caught in Georgia are sent to Japan, China, and Thailand where they end up on the dinner table.

Fascinating, huh!?  My friend Melissa who lives in Charleston said they used to throw them at each other.

This boardwalk was at the tip of the island near our condo.  It was a beautiful, serene place to sit and listen to the marsh sounds while watching the sun rise.

And I can't help but mention that horseshoe crabs (shown below) are totally amazing creatures.  Did you know that the blood of the horseshoe crab is used in the pharmaceutical industry to test to make sure their intravenous drugs and vaccines are free from bacteria?  Every drug certified by the FDA must pass the horseshoe crab blood test.  Each year huge numbers of horseshoe crabs are harvested, bled, and then returned to the ocean.  And their blood is baby blue!  There is a good article here about this industry which states that "every single person in America who has ever had an injection has been protected because we harvest the blood of a forgettable sea creature with a hidden chemical superpower."  And it is suspected their populations are in decline due to this bleeding process.  So whenever I see one on the beach I am reminded of the debt we owe this beautiful, silent bottom dweller.

My last day on the beach there was an amazing sun rise.  There is something that lifts the soul when watching a sun rise at the beach while listening to the sound of the surf.  It reminds me of my smallness and my vastness at the same time.  And as I stand there I don't want to be any place in the world but right where I am.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Arthur Ravenel Bridge, Charlston, SC

If you ever visit Charleston, SC you will surely travel over the Arthur Ravenel Bridge.  This structure is a stunning cable-stayed suspensions bridge that spans the Cooper River.  I love the beautiful lines of the cables and had so much fun walking and photographing it.  If I lived in Charleston I would want to photograph it in a million different lighting conditions.  I was lucky enough to walk to the middle of it one evening when the lighting conditions were beautiful.

We also took a boat tour from Patriot's Point to Ft. Sumter (where the Civil War began) and I was able to get a different perspective on the bridge (above).  On our ride out to the fort we passed close by the USS Yorktown which was an aircraft carrier during WWII.  I am not normally into US history but the tour was interesting and the ship was an impressive structure.

The day we walked around Charleston it was so hot I hardly took any photos.  I couldn't resist, however, taking a photo of this pineapple fountain.  Apparently the pineapple is a symbol of hospitality in Charleston and they used to be hung over the door to signal the man of the house was home and the family could accept visitors. It was also a symbol to warn any "temporary companions" to stay away until the man of the house was gone (those saucy southerners!).