Weekly Photo Challenge: Out of This World

The Earth is a vastly fascinating place! You may think of rocks and trees and animals as familiar things, but they are often as unknown and otherworldly as specimens from Mars.

Here’s an example of a cave formation in Wind Cave National Park known as “boxwork”. Could be the surface of a distant planet, don’t you think?

Could these be aerial photos of alien landscapes? Or the skins and bodies of alien life forms?

Does this structure look like something you’ve seen before? 

turkey feathers

This one could be a satellite image of life on a distant moon. caterpillarThe startling discovery of unfamiliar living things is possible in your own back yard. Go take a look!

Out of This World

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Face in the Crowd – Anonymity

“Explore the use of anonymity to express both that which is common to all of us and the uniqueness that stands out even when the most obvious parts of us are hidden.”

I feel that monochrome is the perfect format for this idea. So, what can you tell about these subjects? 

“Explore silhouettes, shadows, orientation, and other ways to mask your subject.”  

Back in the 19th century, before photography was available to the masses, silhouettes were a very popular form of portraiture. How distinct is a black profile?  What can you tell about this subject? Male or female? Young or old? 

“If portraits aren’t your thing, get even more creative with your use of shadows, reflections, animals, and patterns to represent a sense of anonymity.”

My thing is mostly about nature photography and about the impact of one dominant species on the planet – humans. I like to think of myself as a Wilderness Advocate. This is my idea of a self-portrait, taken very near to Bears Ears National Monument and Canyon of the Ancients. It makes me think of the possibility that homo sapiens will be just a shadow in the rock some day, as we were at one point in the past. Sunrise at the canyon edge is a very peaceful time. I enjoyed blending in to the surroundings and finding a quiet place of anonymity.  

In case you missed it, I’m the shadow sitting cross-legged  on the bright part of the rock in the upper right, elbows out, taking the picture.

A Face in the Crowd

Favorite Memories of Jim

Today is the tenth anniversary of my husband’s last birthday. I guess that’s just a confusing way to say that if he hadn’t died, he would be 57 years old today. I’m reblogging the first post I did for him, six years ago. Feel free to add more favorite memories, if you have them.

As always, dear Jim, I love you and miss you and will be ever grateful that you were born. 

scillagrace

In the Galasso family, we have a birthday tradition.   When we are all gathered together for the birthday meal, we go around the table, and each person relates his or her favorite memory of the birthday person.  When I was with Emily last Sunday, she wouldn’t let me leave until she had told me her favorite memory of me.  I had almost forgotten this ritual, and I’m so glad she didn’t.   Today would have been Jim’s 51st birthday.  We would be celebrating our combined 100th birthday.  (We went to a couple’s 100th birthday party once…huge affair with fireworks and everything!)  Well, in Thich Nhat Hahn’s words, it is another Continuation Day.  Jim continues in all kinds of ways on this earth.  Ripples of his deeds, his attitude, his progeny, his molecules and other whatnot are still around.

So here is a favorite memory of Jim that came to me on…

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Uncontained and immortal beauty

Today is the 55th anniversary of my birth. I am well aware that this milestone is being eclipsed by an even more remarkable celestial event, but this post is not about that. It’s all about the reasons I started blogging six years ago at the beginning of my 50th year: Death, Nature, and the Meaning of It All. I thought it was pretty good even though it got exactly zero “likes”.  I had no followers back then. So I’m reblogging it.

scillagrace

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in his essay on Nature in 1836:

“Nature never wears a mean appearance.  Neither does the wisest man extort all her secret, and lose his curiosity by finding out all her perfection.  Nature never became a toy to a wise spirit.  The flowers, the animals, the mountains, reflected all the wisdom of his best hour, as much as they had delighted the simplicity of his childhood…The lover of nature is he whose inward and outward senses are still truly adjusted to each other; who has retained the spirit of infancy even into the era of manhood….Standing on the bare ground, –my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, — all mean egotism vanishes.  I become a transparent eye-ball.  I am nothing.  I see all.  The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God…I am the…

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The Grandparent Project: Part Twelve

Welcome to the 12th installment of The Grandparent Project! This is an endeavor to revisit family memories with my relatives in California and my children in the Midwest by posting digital copies of my old snapshots and piecing together our shared history. It’s been a great adventure in itself as well as a reminder of the incredible journey we’ve already had. 

Today’s episode takes place in the year 2002 at Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. Grandpa George was 69 years old and an avid hiker. My siblings and I can probably all agree that his model inspired us. I am glad to say that he may also have inspired my children. At the time of this visit, they were 17, 15, 13, and 11 and their cousin Cristina was 9. My mom and my husband were physically not up to hiking the trail we chose this time, so they stayed back at the condo (with Susan and Emily?) while the rest of us went to find Lake George. My father was always the leader, a very strong presence and authority and a keen map-reader. This was the first time I saw him falter in his sense of direction. What is now apparent is that he was beginning to come under the grip of Alzheimer’s disease. I am very glad to have pictures of him on this day. It was a gorgeous trek and fitting that it centered on a destination that shares his name. 

Some of us also went horseback riding on that trip…

We went through Yosemite National Park as well on the way back to the Bay Area. My husband and I had gone there on a date way back when I was still in High School. He picked me up at four in the morning and returned me to my parents’ house by midnight. I was thrilled to go, but it was a lot of driving. Returning to the park with my children two decades later, I couldn’t help feeling sad and disappointed at how much smog and congestion were visible. It makes sense that my California family avoids that particular area and chooses less well-known sites in the Sierras to hike.

I would love to arrange future family hikes in the Sierras. Let’s see how many of us can get out on the trail when we’re 69!

*Footnote photo – taken when we got back to the homestead in Los Gatos.  

It was 30 years ago today…

My smallest baby and only boy was born 30 years ago today, on a Sunday morning. We gave him a name to live up to: Joshua for lordliness and salvation, David for beloved (after a great grandfather and two uncles), and the Italian family surname that he could perpetuate into future generations. Quite a bundle to hoist onto a little guy! 

As he grew, he began to reveal what he had to give us: a happy and entertaining spirit, generous competence, and faithful companionship – qualities that echo his father…

…especially now in the years since Jim’s death. 

And today, he celebrates his 30th birthday. I am so proud of the man that he has become and the work that he is doing in his life, continually growing more helpful and loving.
I wish him a day of joy! The Birthday Boy:

Science in Culture, Religion and Politics

This month’s theme at the Be Zine is “Science in Culture, Religion and Politics”. To see the entire issue, click HERE

Science, the scientific method, and related modes of logic and thought are wondrous tools. Like any tool, they are beneficial when applied wisely, and they are detrimental when applied unwisely.  The ‘If’ and ‘When’ and ‘How’ and the results of their applications to culture, religion and politics are so varied and storied and possibly ambiguous that I decided not to write an essay for my submission this time. There is just too much to discuss. So, although I am the least of all the poets here, I put my thoughts into a poem.


Ages of Thought,
whether Dark or Enlightened,
attempt to encompass the world.
Is it magic and mystical,
hypothetical, physical?
Can our rigorous study
render clear from the muddy?
Will our critical thinking
keep the spaceship from sinking?
Systematic inventions,
clever social intentions —
are they matters of preference,
coercion or deference?
Does “control and predict”
do us good, or constrict?
Can brain work help to consecrate
Humility and celebrate
such Human traits
as Wonder? Appreciation?
Morality? Cooperation?
When bullet points kill conversation,
and no one takes your word,
Do you trust experience, experiment, story or definition —
And whose?