Wednesday, June 30, 2010

100 Years Ago In Dagestan

One hundred years ago, five Dagestani women posed in their every day attire for Russian photographer Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii. Prokudin-Gorskii's travels had taken him to the North Caucasus Mountains, the far western reaches of the Russian Empire. His mission was to document the cultures, architecture and customs across the Empire for Czar Nicholas and to create an historical record. He did so admirably, using a revolutionary color photography technique he'd developed himself.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Up A Lazy River

With the deserted fairgrounds and active railroad trestles as a backdrop, my daughter took a paddle this week up one of our local rivers, near where it empties into the Pacific. She told me that when the train went by, she exchanged waves with scores of passengers and earlier, with the children of carnival workers playing down along the riverbank.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Paddling With Jelly Fish

My daughter went stand up paddling down in Coronado last week. The ocean temperatures are up to around 70 degrees now and that means jelly fish have moved close to shore.

There were hundreds of jelly fish in the bay, easily visible just beneath her board.

Jelly fish spend the majority of their time looking for food, and although their tenacles pack a hefty sting, they're not aggressive.

These photographs of what was just below the surface were taken by my neighbor Kevin.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Vintage Italian Travel Posters

Another lithographed poster from the Italian tourist board, circa 1920, showing peasant women in native dress strolling down a country road with their village church in the background.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

American Country Stores ~ #14 In A Series

Walker Evans, working for FDR's Farm Services Administration, captured this photograph in 1936 in Mounaville, Alabama, of the local country store.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Riding Up The Coast

My daughter had business in the next town up the coast yesterday, and she stopped by and took me and my camera along. There was a chance for me to walk along the bluff top and snap a few pictures. Above, looking north. Below, looking south, toward our town.

The cliff was somewhat precarious in sections, where whole chunks of the bluff had slipped away.

It was surprising how few people were on the beach, it being officially summer and all.

These pictures are straight out of the camera - the sky and ocean really were that blue! And the box of cherries we got on the way home really were that red!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Shell Ginger's Back

Shell ginger is a great plant all year. It has large, showy, varigated tropical looking leaves and it self propagates with underground runners, similar to calla lilies.

The best part is that every summer, it has spectacular blossoms with a subtle gloss that look similar to the palest mother of pearl. Each flower spike is different. Some grow straight up, some off to the side. The blossoms fade as quickly as they appeared.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

100 Years Ago In Samarkand

100 years ago, eight monks, called Duvans, posed in a Samarkand courtyard for Sergei Prokudin-Gorskii, as he continued his task of documenting the far reaches of the Russian Empire for Czar Nicholas.

Monday, June 21, 2010

The First Day Of Summer

Here are a few more shots of the beach from last Thursday. My goal when taking pictures of strangers is to be as unintrusive as possible, hence, most of these pictures are taken after they've passed by.

Our beaches attract people of all persuasions - walkers, runners, skin divers, spear fishermen, regular fishermen, surfers, swimmers, boogey boarders, families, couples - and that's just the locals!

Oops - this fellow busted me and the camera. He caught my eye because his large tattoo color coordinated with his swim trunks.

And so begins another summer in my hometown.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Yesterday And Today

The picture above is my all time favorite of three of my all time favorite people. That's my dad and his sister and brother. The photograph was taken 80 years ago, in 1930, here in town where they all grew up, just 2 miles down the road from my house. There are still four generations of us living here.

They came over for dinner last week and, good sports that they are, posed in a similar picture for me, below. That's my dad on the left with my Aunt Gloria and Uncle Owen.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

American Country Stores ~ #13 In A Series

In a scene reminiscent of 200 years earlier, a customer fits his mule with a sack of meal outside a general store in Knox County, Kentucky. The picture was made in September, 1940 by Marion Post Wolcott for the Office of War Information in their effort to employ people by having them photograph daily life across the country.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Yesterday On The Beach

My daughter went for a surf yesterday and took me along.

The tide was too high to make it around the point, so instead of walking, people watching became my focus.

It was late in the afternoon, so people were getting off work and heading down to the shore.

The young girl, above, reminded me of my own girl, who you can barely see in the same picture, riding a wave in the far background.

After my daughter caught her share of waves, we were up the stairs and away.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

At Oceanside Harbor

Despite two expansive bird sanctuary lagoons flanking our town, these two great blue herons have chosen the top of a tall pine tree just up the coast at Oceanside Harbor for their nest.

Great blue herons are a common bird in North America, the Caribbean and all the way to the Galapagos Islands. They grow from 36-55" tall with a wingspan of 66-79". Being the largest of all herons, their only natural predators are great horned owls and bald eagles. Great blue herons build their nests in colonies and it is common for there to be over 150 large stick nests in the group. Each female lays between 3-6 pale blue eggs and both parents feed the newly hatched chicks.

The great blue heron is a wading bird and due to its size can find food deeper than other herons. It uses its beak like a spear to catch fish, mice, insects, shellfish and small birds, swallowing its catch whole.

Thanks to local wildlife photographer Chris Mayne for sharing his beautiful picture.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Remembering Nick

Nick was one of the neighborhood kids. We grew up on the same street, went to the same schools and church, shared mutual friends and a love of the ocean. He was one of the older guys we always looked up to. In the picture above, that's him at the back, third from the left, in the mid 1960s, one of the winners in a local surf contest. He was a glasser at Surfboards Hawaii during those years.

Nick's water skills weren't limited to surfing. He grew up just steps from the Pacific and became a commercial fisherman who designed and built his own boats. He was one of the rare people who mastered catching swordfish with a hand held harpoon. He fished from the San Clemente Islands to Catalina, for everything from abalone and lobster to sea bass and rock cod. That 15 foot great white shark that fell off a truck on Interstate 5 and snarled traffic in both directions for hours? That was one of Nick's catches.

With an infectious enthusiasm for life and a warmth that drew people to him, he was a loving son, devoted husband and father, loyal friend, meticulous craftsman, legendary waterman, and merry prankster, who, at 64, left us way too soon.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How The Garden Grows

The trumpet vine on the arbor above the front porch is still blooming strong.

The borders on either side of the front walkway are blooming mostly reds, yellows and pinks now that the softer shades of spring bulbs have faded away until next year. The patch of shasta daisies (actually a type of chrysanthemum) below, has been coming back faithfully for almost 20 years.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Cooking For Company

Company came for dinner yesterday, so it was time to cook something special. Mozzarella, parmesan and ricotta cheese and spinach stuffed shells are always a hit and can be made ahead of time.

Double layer carrot cake for dessert...

With lots of walnuts!

Once the dishes were done and a bouquet picked and arranged, the cake had cooled enough for frosting.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Vintage Italian Travel Posters

With the travel season upon us, let's look back for the next few Sundays at vintage lithographed Italian travel posters, commissioned by Italy's tourist board.

This one is from 1920 and shows a Palermo, Sicily courtyard and tower, viewed from an arcade.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

American Country Stores ~ #12 In A Series

January, 1939 found Russell Lee and his camera in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, capturing this picture of customers gathered outside their local general store.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Yesterday On The Beach

Summer may be just around the corner, but we're in the midst of June gloom. As the inland deserts heat up, we get heavily overcast days along the coast and yesterday was no exception. With no blue sky above, the ocean took on a grayish green color.

With a relatively low tide, there was plenty of sand and only a few people.

A kelp ball washed ashore looked vaguely like antlers.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Posters From The Gay Nineties

The Victorian era was not as staid as many think. Burlesque was alive and well in theaters across the western world and the posters advertising the revues were no less colorful than the acts themselves.

These lithographs were all printed by the Courier Litho Co. and Miner Litho Company of New York, circa 1897-1899.

High kicking spirited dancers in risque outfits packed theaters, halls and saloons from coast to coast.