April 29, 2009

Beard Discrimination

This sign sits in Tarboro, a small community just north and west of where I live. Am I the only one who sees humor here? This is the kind of support some troops might really appreciate.

This is gonna hurt but I have to write about a painful experience (other than the $158 for groceries) at Wal-Mart the other day. As I was walking out I stopped to look at the red box video dispenser to see if any movies looked appealing when the girl greeter/cop came up behind me and asked to see my receipt. I’ve got about a dozen bags of groceries, no large screen TV’s, no cases of beer, no firearms or fishing poles, no Bulldawg paraphernalia, just groceries. She actually perused the receipt long enough to verify that I had indeed bought Eight O’Clock coffee, Horizon organic milk and (I am shamed to admit it) Oreo’s.

I stood there wondering what was going on, this had never happened before. Then I saw the look in her eye. It was the beard. I was being follicley profiled! Can a hirsute man not go to the store without suffering this injustice? I was never stopped when wearing a moustache, even a shaggy one. Rise up my bearded brothers (and even a few sisters truth be told) and demand to be treated the same as all the other men afraid to let it all hang out, the same as those pour souls still enslaved by Gillette. Clean cut and respectable do not have to be joined at the proverbial hip. What’s next? Mandatory little white beard booties? Beard burning? Beards to the back of the bus?

I definitely get very different looks with my fine beard, especially from the womens. Unfortunately it’s either, “That poor man.” Or more commonly, “His poor wife.” I can handle the looks of pity and disdain but to actually be stopped on suspicion of stealing deliciously addictive cookies is just too close a trim. The hairy man in me says I should call Arkansas and protest of this injustice, and then go berate the store manager.

Or maybe I should just shave.

At least the folks at church understand.

April 26, 2009

First Tentative Steps

Well the Crawfish Festival is finally over. It was a long day starting at 4:00 a.m. and ending at about 6:30 p.m. My wife and daughters and two of my daughter's friends helped a great deal to ease the burden.

Many people stopped by to browse and many had positive comments about the photos on display. I displayed a little of everything from abstract to landscape just to see what the reaction would be. I was surprised when most people responded to the more abstract works, especially the black and white. It’s what I tend to be drawn to as well, but I thought popular taste would run differently.

I sold four photos and recouped the fee to set up a booth at the festival. No profit was made but I actually sold my art. I have seen my photos in the local newspapers many times of fires, wrecks etc. which I took with the access afforded by my last job. This felt very different. This was more satisfying knowing the photos will hang in someone’s home.

This photo got the greatest response. I printed it as an 11x14 to get a better sense of scale. People seemed to sense it was saying something about the Church standing unconquered.

The first customers (a married couple) purchased these two. These are two of my favorites.

The second customer purchased these two. I guess she likes sunsets.

Next weekend it’s on the even bigger Shrimp Festival just south of here in Fernandina Beach, Florida. Thank all of you for your prayers. I am feeling better and am hopefully on the mend.

April 21, 2009

A Little House Whine

It has been a while since I have written anything of substance here (I apologize for all the photo filler) so I’ll try to catch up on life as I know it. The last days I have felt untethered, uneasy, bleak. I was too ill to attend the Pascha service Saturday night and that really compounded the problem. This does not feel like Bright Week.

I have really been feeling poorly. Very little sleep, nausea, abdominal pain, headaches, cold sweats. I threw up on the way home from dropping my daughter off at school this morning. I went to the hospital for blood tests but it is not my pancreas flaring up so we have no idea what the problem is now. The fast is over but I have no appetite.

I will be manning a booth at the annual Crawfish Festival this weekend (if I feel up to it) putting my photos on display for perusal and for sale. I can take a decent photograph but on the technical side I am not very knowledgeable. I am much more comfortable with writing. I have done a lot of it, I know what I am doing and I can speak about it intelligently. Writing takes times. It forces me to think, to know what I mean and how I feel. It is my first love, my sanctuary. I see myself as a writer and not yet as a photographer.

I am trying to deepen my knowledge of photography but there is so much to learn. I have found a mentor and that helps a great deal but I am still flying blind. I also don’t like having to man a booth like this. It is my nature to be shy and keep to myself. This venue forces me and my attempts at art to be on display all day. Thousands of people will be there and I will be nervous the whole day. Even if I sell every photo we will still not break even on the cost of prints, frames, etc. I feel guilty taking money for this out of our already depleted coffers.

I would love for my wife to be able to stay home and not work. It would make her very happy. But she is the primary breadwinner and even if I found full time work she would still have to work. I am drawing unemployment and it helps but many of the bills are behind or stay unpaid. One of my dreams is coming true (trying my hand at making a living as an artist) at the price of crushing hers. We have prayed over this for years and change has not come.

Because of my job situation we are looking at some other options for our daughter who will be a fifth grader next year. She is in her third year at a private Montessori school. This is a very important issue for us and it greatly increases the stress load.

But having said all that life is good. The Lord continues to bless us, we have a wonderful family and a good home. My mother is doing much better and is finally back home. Please pardon my candor and my whining. As always I covet your prayers.

There are a few new photos at The Bosom Serpent.

April 13, 2009

Birthday, Anniversary, Time Alone

We recently celebrated my wife's birthday and our 13th wedding anniversary. She is the love of my life, my best friend and a tremendous blessing.

Over the weekend we experienced the most rare of events for most parents, we had several days to ourselves. It is Dawn’s spring break week and with the oldest daughter off at college and the youngest daughter at Disneyworld for a few day with family friends we have time for us with no schedule, no deadlines. We slept late and then took naps. Glorious, glorious uninterrupted sleep. Sunday afternoon we took a long drive north from where we live up into Glynn County and McIntosh County.

Our first stop was at Hofwyl/Broadfield Plantation just north of Brunswick. This property stayed in the family’s possession for five generations from the early 1800s until the 1970s. It was originally a rice plantation and later a dairy farm. Hofwyl is not one of the huge mansions with the driveway lined with live oaks and immaculate gardens. It is a very nice but functional, pragmatic working farm/home. When the last family member passed away the property was turned over to The Nature Conservancy then to the State of Georgia. The house remains exactly as it was left. No renovations, no construction/deconstruction. It is a window into the past. Standing there we saw just what the family would have seen when the home was still occupied.

This tree on the plantation property is more than 800 years old. It was already an old timer when William Shakespeare walked the earth. Dawn standing at the foot of the tree gives some sense of just how massive the tree truly is.

This is the ice house. Notice the thickness of the doors.

Our second stop on Highway 17 was in McIntosh County at what is supposed to be the smallest church in the country. It is indeed small and is very popular. The logbook was full of names of folks who had been there earlier the same day and the day before. It has a very quiet, comforting atmosphere. Visitors leave pictures and mementos of loved ones asking for prayer.

The church on Cumberland Island where John F. Kennedy Jr. was married is not much bigger than this. I don't know the story behind this church or why it is so small but it is clearly a very special spot for a lot of people and God is here to be found..

April 7, 2009

Met. Jonah - Church Unity In North America

Okefenokee & Virginia

Here are a few of the photos I am working on and considering putting on display for sale at the annual Crawfish Festival here on the last weekend of the month. This is only my second time doing this and there will be thousands of people there sampling the good food, the music and checking out the great variety of items on display and for sale.

I realize this has turned into a photo blog recently but soom I'll be back to posting what I am writing. Please bear with me. And there are more new photos posted at The Bosom Serpent.

April 2, 2009

The Artist As An Old Man

My daughter Bethany took this photo of me on the afternoon of my (our) first public photo display recently. I told her I think it is a wonderful portrait. She seems to have the photo bug too and a very good eye for what makes a good photograph.