Monthly Archives: March 2013


Black and white image of woods.

At the image sizes I use on this site, this picture appears almost abstract. There’s a Pollock-like alloverness to it. The eye keeps traveling the surface. There’s a super-abundance of detail.

Yet, despite the frenzy of twig and leaf and bark, to stand here in the woods is to be at rest.

The business of everyday life — dodging traffic, making decisions and judgment calls, interacting with strangers — is depleting, and what man-made environments take away from us, nature gives back. There’s something mystical and, you might say, unscientific about this claim, but its heart actually rests in what psychologists call attention restoration theory, or ART. According to ART, urban environments are draining because they force us to direct our attention to specific tasks (e.g., avoiding the onslaught of traffic) and grab our attention dynamically, compelling us to “look here!” before telling us to instead “look over there!” These demands are draining — and they’re also absent in natural environments. Forests, streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans demand very little from us, though they’re still engaging, ever changing, and attention-grabbing. The difference between natural and urban landscapes is how they command our attention. While man-made landscapes bombard us with stimulation, their natural counterparts give us the chance to think as much or as little as we’d like, and the opportunity to replenish exhausted mental resources.
How Nature Resets Our Minds and Bodies

A Year Ago: Trumpets Shall Sound

I thought I’d get you all ready for an Easter parade by laying a suitably pastel palette on you…
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An Orchid for Easter

Pale pink orchid.

I know, it’s supposed to be lillies for Easter.

I chose this image not only for its springlike delicacy and freshness, but also because it demonstrates that sometimes transformation is not about changing who we are, but about removing the distortions of perception to reveal a hidden and more beautiful truth. Sometimes it takes a lot of work to peel away those layers of interference.

This is the image that came out of my camera:

Uncorrected orchid image.

There wasn’t enough light at the orchid show, and what light there was—well, it was horrible mix of tungsten and fluorescent. This original image is a masterpiece of noise, blur, and murk. (Sounds like a good name for law firm, maybe!) It would be easy to look at this picture and throw up one’s hands. It looks like a hopeless case.

But in my mind’s eye I still saw the beautiful form that prompted me to take the picture in the first place. So I spent a ridiculous amount of time operating on it with the astonishing software tools now available to any old schmoe like me. And while the resulting photograph is a long way from showing the true glory of the flower, I think I can claim that it’s meaningfully closer.

Perhaps only the mind of God can see the perfect reality of each thing—its intricacy, its integrity, its inherent beauty. Nevertheless, I believe we can each make the effort to look upon ourselves, others, and the world around us through the lens of love. We can experience the transformation that comes not from a change in what is observed, but rather one that is revealed through changing the way we see.

A Year Ago: Good Neighbors

Picket Fence, Harpers Ferry, WVApparently my love for the white picket fence knows no bounds…
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Orchid edges.

I practically hear flamenco music when I look at these images. I expect the swift movement of a tango dancer’s limbs or the rattle of castanets. There’s no holding back here, no modesty of color or line: this is brazen stuff.

If you’re going to be flamboyant, you might as well Go Orchid.

A Year Ago: Color Choice

Harpers Ferry, WVOne of the best ways to learn from your own photography is to look at most of your images in both color and black-and-white…
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Formal Dress

Striped orchid.

These orchids contrast an art deco sensibility with a very fleshly quality. I find the juxtaposition intriguing and outré.

A Year Ago: Seeds of Spring

Seed wings on oak tree.I tweeted an Instagram version of this image not long after I took it…
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Orchid edge-ruffles.

Well, I did warn you.

The title of this post is brought to you by Bob, who went to town on the word “florid” and its variations at the NC Arboretum orchid exhibition.

I’d like to lay claim to all the various meanings of flourish: as an ornament, an action, an exhortation.

A Year Ago: Incidental Geometry

Airplane and architectureThere was a significant amount of swearing involved in the creation of this image…
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Pink tree blossoms.

It’s still cold—I’d say unnecessarily cold. But just as if someone had thrown a switch, all the trees hereabouts have burst into bloom. Kapow! Pink and white and red and whatnot, everywhere.

So, now that I’ve passed my broker’s license exam, I need to get cracking and find a real estate firm to affiliate myself with and start helping people find or sell their homes. If y’all know anyone who’s considering relocating to North Carolina, please send ‘em my way. I’ll be sure they get hooked up with someone good if I can’t be of service myself.

The plan is to go see some orchids this afternoon; beware of more future incoming flower photos! (I know: *eyeroll*. But that’s just the way it is.)

A Year Ago: Scarlett

Tropical plant.Scarlett is the color…
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Bamboo Spring

Bamboo with tuning-fork shaped tree in front.

Like this tuning-fork of a tree, I’m vibrating to the green impulse of Spring.

Today featured the building crisis-du-jour: DOORS. After three months of silence on the subject, all of a sudden I had to provide doors tomorrow or siding could not proceed and then god knows when the crew would be available again.


So, I made some quick choices and enough will be available soon enough that work can continue. But I will not be getting my most favoritest doors. C’est la vie. The only plus side is that they were inexpensive.

On the upside, my porch/sundeck is going to be superaweseome.

A Year Ago: In the Name of Beauty

Tree wired with lights.There’s something flesh-like about this tree and its bark…
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Salt & pepper and flowers.

Since I’m not eating out very much, I’m only gradually adding to a list of favorite restaurants in Asheville. My first was Chai Pani downtown, which specializes in Indian street food (OMG tilapia wrap, masala fries, papri chaat, etc.). I’ve now added Rezaz in Biltmore Village, which provides tasty Persian/middle-eastern small plates (OMG lunchbox specials) in a stylish atmosphere. I’ve also enjoyed the eco-conscious offerings at The Green Sage (I’m frequenting the Hendersonville Rd. branch so far).

I was spoiled for variety and excellence in dining in DC, but I’m finding outposts of great flavor and freshness here too.

A Year Ago: Shall We Play A Game?

Couple playing chess outdoors, Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MDWhatever you’re doing, better do it outside!…
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Another Sketch

Biltmore House from elsewhere on the Estate, Asheville, NC

In the spirit of my earlier Biltmore Sketch, I offer yet another munged panorama. These images still come under the heading of “dubious” for me, but there’s something about them I find attractive. They definitely need to be seen big.

A Year Ago: Flowerfall

Macro photo of pink flowers with yellow pistils.Everything in DC is flowering like mad…
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Rock with folded layers.

Thank goodness that I went on a walk with Bob in the luxuriously warm afternoon. We strolled around the grounds of the UNC Botanical Garden, which was the site of the Battle of Asheville at the very end of the Civil War. Bob pointed out this folded rock, which I would have walked blindly by.

I also find that I’m looking at plant life, particularly ground cover, with a totally new perspective. I need to find something attractive but low maintenance to plant on my property so that I don’t need to mow the entire near half-acre. Suggestions of attractive, self-propagating but non-invasive, non-vermin-harboring foliage gratefully received!

A Year Ago: Ghost Ride

Decaying automobile, Harpers Ferry, WVWhile somebody I know was whipping around a speedway in a Ferrari, I was wandering the streets of Harpers Ferry again on foot…
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