Life in Black and White

 

I share quotes on my social media accounts.  Quotes I can’t create because I’m not bright enough or because someone said what I wanted to say first…and said it better.  I wish I could be profound but instead, I rely on the words of others to enlighten, humor or sometimes, provoke.

I call these quotes, Don’s Daily Dose because a former student suggested the moniker after reading a few day’s worths.  I’m thankful to her for suggesting the title and helping me to realize someone was actually reading them.

I share these quotes along with some form of artwork to emphasize the point…or just because I liked the snake wrapped around an arm attached to a hand holding an apple… the quote was about temptation after all.  The apple different shades of red, the snake a bright kaleidoscope of color…I find the painting tempting.

2-original-sin-raluca-nedelcu

Original Sin by Raluca Nedelcu https://fineartamerica.com/featured/original-sin-raluca-nedelcu.html?product=art-print

Usually, the art I choose is psychedelic, me embracing my inner hippie.  Vibrant and wild colors from the LSD trip I never took; peace signs, VW microbuses, Janis Joplin or Jimi Hendrix….  Sometimes I use the book covers from the authors I quote from.  I lean toward bold colors with purple and pink being favorites.

Then I quoted Ansel Adams and looked for art to go with my quote.  I was awed by his landscapes in black and white.  The quote was about the environment, something Adams photographed in black and white, his mode of artistic expression.  Mother Nature stark and sharply in focus…maybe auster.  Nature laid bare, no makeup to soften its features.

The picture I chose of a two-lane blacktop took me back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when “filmed in Technicolor” was the exception, not the norm.  Stark blacks and whites along with muted grays were the standards, life laid bare in living black and white.

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams Road, Nevada Desert, 1960

Movies, television, stills from Life magazine, most were in black and white in those days.  If I wanted color I thumbed through my grandmother’s National Geographic.  Wild animals and bare-breasted native girls filmed better in color.  In this modern-day, life is replicated exactly as it is on large screened TVs, tablets and I Phones. I still find black and white to be more poignant, more shocking, more potent.

Doretha Lange’s depression-era Migrant Mother does not reflect her pain in its colorized form.  Color is too soft.  Her turned down mouth with fingers stroking the side of her chin…pondering her lot in life it would seem. Her furrowed brow, two of her seven children hiding their faces from the camera.  There are no soft colors, just sharp black, and white pain.

DortheaLange

Destitute mother of seven, Age 32 Doretha Lange https://www.wdl.org/en/item/81/

Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski pleading for “Stella”, wearing a torn and dirty T-shirt, his hands clasped against his head…Same in Technicolor?  Only if his head explodes.  Stanley Kowalski was not a nice person, black and white suits him.

streetcar named

Marlon Brando, A Streetcar Named Desire https://macmcentire.com/2017/04/03/random-warner-bros-a-streetcar-named-desire/

I watched Jack Ruby shoot Lee Harvey Oswald, Freedom Rider buses burn, and Walter Cronkite tell the nation a war was unwinnable after Tet, all and more on a black and white TV.  Those depressing moments were befitting of black and white.  No color necessary, no sugarcoating with pastels, no bold makeup.  Just stark black and white.

Jack Ruby

Jack Ruby shoots Lee Harvey Oswald as Detective James R. Leavelle looks on.  Leavelle passed away on August 2019.  He was 99.  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/29/us/james-leavelle-dead.html

Most of my childhood memories are in black and white.  Friends and family posing, smiling on three, frozen as a Kodak catches their likenesses.  My parents so young in their courting pictures, people long dead, their faces faded in the old albums I liberated after my father’s death.

I sigh, exhaling heavily as I think about them. My winter depression may be sneaking up, edging closer.  It is a bit early yet but it always catches me by surprise like those “backshooters” in the black and white “oaters” I watched as a child.  Bad men willing to do their worst to the Lone Ranger and Tonto.  Willing but not able as they live on in the reruns of life.

It is still pre-dawn as I edit this and there are no colors other than black and gray of night.  Not even a hint of the sunrise to come.  The almost full moon nearing the western horizon doesn’t give enough light for colors to reflect.  I seem to do my best writing in the dark, surrounded by blacks and whites.   My best writing is relative and it is not the way I want to spend the rest of my life.

Life in black and white seems harsh and I’ve had my black and white moments.  Life needs a few black and white moments to give depth and meaning to the warm colors in between.  Profound.  Maybe I am capable of a good quote after all.  Time to greet the sun.

sun2

Autumn Sun by David Galchutt in 2019 | Fall | Sun art, Moon …

Don Miller’s author’s page may be found at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The featured image was lifted from https://pearlsofprofundity.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/life-in-black-and-white/

 

 

 

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Crime Sprees, Black Snakes, and Killer Birds

 

Pondering the meaning of life,  why nature can be so cruel, and the evil of man began with the theft of a trailer and continued with the murder of four wren hatchlings we had been monitoring in their little nest perched precariously above the front porch fan.  Four wren hatchlings we had been protecting from attacks from below when we should have been more concerned with attacks from above.

I find I’m much more distraught about the loss of four birds than the pilfering of my trailer.

I watched as a  juvenile black rat snake climbed the front porch swing chain looking for a way to traverse from chain to fan to what his reptilian brain saw as lunch.  I moved him…and later, the big brother he brought with him a half dozen times before my minuscule brain realized that if I took down the swing, he’d have to find another restaurant.

Sneaky snake must have enjoyed our time together.  He still hangs around as if waiting for me to pick him up again.  Ride me, Daddy?

It didn’t bother me the snake was trying to dine on jeune oiseau…after all, he was a snake doing what snakes do.  More importantly, I had stopped him.  The killer birds…I didn’t know I needed to stop them.

I never knew sparrow parents would attack wren young and kill them to ensure there is a steady food source for their young.  They must be new to the neighborhood.  There is no lack of food sources.  My wife has made sure of that.

I saw them hanging or flying around but was too stupid to realize they were up to no good.  We found the little broken and pecked bodies on the porch floor and with their distraught parents flitting about, felt their loss. 

I am telling myself, it is the way of nature.  I haven’t convinced myself.

And then there are the evils of man.  The trailer was just one of several grand heists over the years.    Bad people are found everywhere…and bad birds too.

The thefts began with a tractor stolen from the middle of my “hundred-acre woods.”  I ran out of fuel and didn’t return to where I had left it, literally in the middle of my forest, until a couple of days later.  I couldn’t find the John Deere and Winnie the Pooh wouldn’t help me look.  I guess Winnie was trying to get his nose out of his honey jar.  My nose was just out of joint.

An antique FJ 40 Landcruiser was taken from my front yard.  It was returned much the worse from wear.   A beautiful piece of Japanese engineering turned into junk.  The one time it ran after its return, “Kamikaze Cruiser” caught fire.  I hope the thief joins my beloved cruiser and burns in hell…well…metaphorically, I reckon…may be.

Not that everything has been “take, take, take.”  A would be Robin Hood decided to share the wealth.  A stolen pickup truck with two weeks worth of trash loaded in it, missed the curve at a high rate of speed, flipped and crashed into my creek.  It was laying on it’s top mocking a dead cockroach, two weeks of trash scattered hither and yon.  The old Ford had taken down my fence and my billy goat stood on top of the truck’s bottom as if he had ruled triumphant in a game of king of the hill.

I felt satisfaction when I learned of the malefactor’s capture, a young man found battered and bruised at a nearby restaurant frequented by our local constabulary.  I doubt the owner of the totaled truck got any satisfaction and I was left to clean up the mess that was left and mend my own fences.

There were other occasions to call the authorities.  Enough occasions to put together a pattern.  Every deputy who came out to investigate uttered the same family name.  “I’ll bet you  ‘Old so-and-so’ is responsible.”  “Old so-and-so just got out of jail, bet he’s at it again.”

I’m not going to say the name because I really don’t know if they stole my trailer or not.  If they didn’t it would be a first.  True to form though, as I met the deputy about my trailer, he brought up the same name again.  “You live pretty near Old so-and-so.  Bet it was him or one of his sons.”  Now grandsons.

I still haven’t seen my trailer, but the backcountry crime family tried to strike again.  This time it was my neighbor.  I slept through most of the event despite the blue and red lights flooding my yard at one until three A.M.  My neighbor filled me in.

A young man with the same last name as the redneck crime lord, a grandchild, was apprehended attempting to steal my neighbor’s travel trailer with a truck the boy had stolen earlier and elsewhere.  He even posed for a picture before attempting to flee after he realized no one wanted his autograph.

Attempting to escape in the stolen truck the clown prince of crime found himself reduced to running when the vehicle broke down at the scene and caught fire.  Poor baby.  He was later found hiding in a kudzu filled ditch…kudzu covering blackberry filled ditch.

I wish I had seen his dismay when he dove face first into the ditch only to find his soft landing impeded by blackberry thorns.  That had to smart…I wish it had been multiflora rose.  I do feel great satisfaction envisioning his surprise landing and ask for no forgiveness as I smile.

It seems the torch has been passed from one generation to another.  Grandfather to son to grandchild.  I wonder if the godfather of redneck crime is proud.  The old man showed up and according to my neighbor, just shook his head as if to say, “I thought I taught him better than that.”

My father told me once he could tolerate a thief more than a liar.  The reasons for his comment will remain between my father and me but I was in the wrong.  I understand his sentiment but would pose to him, “One might go hand in hand with the other.”

The image of the angry bird is from https://twistedsifter.com/2012/04/40-actual-real-life-angry-looking-birds/

Further tomfoolery may be accessed at https://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM

The Toad in the Corner

 

I am bad.  I continue to smoke my one cigar a day…unless it turns into two…never more than two.  I just executed a mental eye roll.  Normally I sit under the massive tulip poplar in my backyard and enjoy an adult beverage while I feed my addiction.  Do I enjoy the cigar due to my addiction or because of the joy it brings me? That is a discussion for a later date.

It’s been hot and humid, and I’ve taken to sitting on my back stoop instead of taking the long, sweaty twenty-five-yard walk to the tree and the chair sitting under it.  My picture should go beside the definition of lazy in the latest dictionary.  It is more about the mosquitoes infesting the shrubbery around my normal imbibing location.  There doesn’t seem to be as many bloodsuckers at my stoop and I may know one of the reasons why.

I sat watching the smoke curl from the smoldering end of my stogie, contemplating nothing more than my navel when I saw her.  In the corner where the rock wall and foundation meet, where the leaves have built up due to my earlier admission of laziness, a large toad had backed herself into the corner and is also watching the smoke curl from the cigar.

She is an American Toad…I think.  Could be a Fowler’s but I am not an authority on amphibians…and don’t want to be but I am better versed in toad activities than I once was.  Thank you, Google.  Despite my research, I don’t even know if she is really a she but shes are usually larger than hes and she is one of the largest toads I’ve seen.

Toady has been in the corner for weeks now.  She sits patiently waiting for the darkness and the relative cool of the evening.  I see her often sitting under the flood light, bathing in its glow or waiting for a juicy morsel to fly by?

I check on her often…not just when I feed my addiction.  I don’t know why I check.  I guess to reassure myself that all is right in the world.  I have seen her around for years…maybe it was her, all American toads seem to look alike.  Well, she was still there five minutes ago at least.  Looking fat and sassy from a night of eating mosquitoes I hope.

I’ve not named her because I worry Herbert the Rat Snake and his kin are skulking around waiting for a meal.  As I understand it, from the extensive research on toads I tried to reframe from doing.  I probably could name her.   Seems she is not too tasty…does Mr. No Shoulders have taste buds or does Toady just give him gas?  More research to come and maybe I have named her.

For more musings go to https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B018IT38GM?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

If you are interested in sexy, romantic adventure, Don Miller writing as Lena Christenson can be found at https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B07B6BDD19?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true