Friday, December 08, 2006


Sometimes what is is better than what could be, sometimes not. I always strive to take a good photograph, one balanced in design and light, carefully framed in the lens, well-angled. And of course I am mindful of content. I do believe that editing and enhancing shouldn't be necessary. Well, most of the time...

With today's image management programs it is so tempting to "mess around" with a picture. Here are two images: the first is the original; the second, an edited, posterized version. (The shot is of the early Christmas morning sunrise last year).

And here's the "doctored" image:

Which do you prefer?

A Shaman friend writes...

morning light absent
cold wind finds open space
sweater too short in back

She of ancient rites and rituals, she of herbs and potions, creator of poetic snapshots, enricher of the enchanted forest.

A Mouse-click

I had such a terrible dream last night. City Mouse!

Where are you?

Are you okay?

No! No! Please say it isn't so!!!

Cartoon by A. Geisert, published by The New Yorker, December 1, 2006

Will somebody please go check to make sure this is just a nightmare?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wardrobe? Wardrobe? Is that you? What do you mean, Meander took all the good costumes!?!? Surely you have something left?!?

Photo by

Morning Conversation


“Ahhhh! Good!”


“Huh. Sure. Not ONASSIS. That’s probably the name of the terminal.”

“Yeah, maybe.”

“Good going, Wizard!”

“I still can’t get ‘Like some protective coatings’. There’s email from your sister you should read. Also a funny one from Skip." (At this point, Husband says he has to go to the bathroom, so Wizard proceeds to tell the joke in voce crescendo from outside the bathroom door):

An 86 year old man walked into a crowded waiting room and approached the desk.... The Receptionist said, "Yes sir, what are you seeing the Doctor for today?"

"There's something wrong with my dick", he replied.

The receptionist became irritated and said, "You shouldn't come into a crowded waiting room and say things like that."

"Why not? You asked me what was wrong and I told you," he said.

The Receptionist replied, "Now you've caused some embarrassment in this room full of people. You should have said there is something wrong with your ear or something and discussed the problem further with the Doctor in private."

The man replied, "You shouldn't ask people personal questions in a room full of strangers if the answer could embarrass anyone," and walked out. Several minutes later, he re-entered.

The Receptionist smiled smugly and asked, "Yes??"

"There's something wrong with my ear," he stated.

The Receptionist nodded approvingly and smiled, knowing he had taken her advice. "And what is wrong with your ear, Sir??"

"I can't piss out of it," he replied.

(Laughter from inside and outside of the bathroom).

A few minutes later Husband returns to the kitchen carrying the crossword puzzle book. “ANTIRUST,” he says.

“Yes!!! That’s it!”

“See ya, Wiz. Have fun with your blogging buddies.”

“Hey – don’t forget to take the mice.”

He picks up the two traps, gives the wizard a kiss, and our separate realities begin for the day. There are some wonderful things that come with more than thirty-three years of marriage. One of them is the comfort of familiarity.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


There are sounds that a person recognizes the first time they’re heard. The metal-on-metal crunching noise of one car smashing into another turns your head, but your eyes are not at all surprised to see what caused the noise. Although the actual damage may be shocking, you already knew intuitively what the sound was.

I once had a sound-recognition experience that I will always remember. It wasn’t the impact of metals, glass and plastics coming together, it was the screaming of a rabbit, and although I had never heard it before, I recognized it as such.

I grabbed my camera and raced toward the sound - not stopping to wonder why the rabbit might be screaming - and there, under my back porch, Nature’s plan was being carried out. The rabbit struggled but could not kick free of the mink's jaws. Death was swift.

The mink – beautiful though somewhat bloodstained – eyed me for a moment, moved closer as if to get a better look, and then went about the task of dragging the rabbit’s body to a protected place where he could dine on it as his needs arose. I watched from about six feet away.

Standing there, I suddenly understood the waning of the local mouse population. The mink had probably been hunting the area for some time, unseen and unheard as he consumed the deermice and voles, nature’s quiet Quarter-Pounders. But for the rabbit’s screams, I would never have seen him, and although sorry for the snowshoe hare, I welcomed this four-legged rodent trap.

A week later, the daughter of a neighbor dropped in to say hello. She was home on a break from her missionary work. I casually mentioned having seen a mink under my back porch, and with amusement, she told me about coming home and finding a mink in their yard, writhing in agony. Her father had poisoned it. Eventually bothered by its suffering, she got a friend to shoot it.

This young woman and her dad believe in Heaven and Hell, and being born-again Christians, they feel assured of a place in the former. I am not so sure. In fact, I hope that there might be a peaceful place, an eternity, where God’s innocent creatures could go about their business without ever having to cross paths with those who so blatantly disregard their beauty and their importance.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sucked In

There’s been a subliminal sucking sound. I’ve heard it and been drawn to it: call it fame, notoriety, attention, recognition, or maybe distraction.

I started to blog nearly seven months ago, and at first it was simply a wonderful creative outlet. Stuff poured from my brain through my keyboard and then materialized on my computer screen. I figured I would write a memoir of sorts, something that would speak to who I am (or was), something my children - and perhaps their children - might someday read. I felt I have experienced a few things worth sharing, and developed a wizard’s eye view along the way.

Soon I strolled around in Bloggerville, curious to see who else was in the neighborhood. I clicked on the “Next Blog” tab, landing randomly in blogs that usually were of no interest to me, although occasionally I’d find one worth bookmarking for some future exploration (so far I haven’t bothered revisiting any of them). I blogged on, "doing my thing” with photos and the occasional rhyme, creating an olio of humor and serious thoughts, mixing stories, memories and commentary; playing with words, images and ideas.

But several weeks ago, things changed. Where there had been 0 comments the day before, now there was 1. "Dirk Star" said he wouldn’t be dropping by for the drink of water I was offering... Who was Dirk Star?? Intrigued by this visitor, I went to his site, and I wasn’t disappointed. Other people were leaving him comments, so I went to their sites and found some people whose blogs are worth reading. Not all of them, but there are the funny ones, the ones with heart and humor; the amazingly talented ones; the ones who make you think or question or feel awed by their accomplishments. A sucking sound became faintly audible.

I began to leave comments on the blogs that seemed interesting, and I checked my site more and more often to see if anyone was returning that contact. I liked my new friends, and I made it my business to check their blogs frequently and leave messages for them. The more comments I left on blogs, the more bloggers came to leave comments on my blog. It was exciting! Strangers were reading my pieces: I had an audience! The sucking sound grew louder.

As this notoriety increased, I assumed the persona of a more common (and less wizened) wizard. I posted a picture of a steaming manure pile, and rather than write about the glories of compost, I challenged people to make metaphors. A gnome became my sidekick, and suddenly I wasn’t sure whose voice I was using to speak. (Sssssuuuuuccccccckkkkkkkkkk.......)

Trying to regain my balance, I turned off my computer. Hours later, when I returned to the streets of Bloggerville, the good guys were still there: Whim, Meander, Dirk, City Mouse, Craig D. and a few others. But as I had found back in the beginning, Bloggerville is rife with the immature and shallow, the bored folks, and the boring (juvenile, profane, inane, lacking in originality or substance) blogs that have to be sifted through while seeking the gems, and it was to this sifting pursuit of a readership that I had been sucked.

Then, just as the sound became a roar, a dear old friend commented to me, “I get the feeling that we are the only ones in this crowd who have any rural living experience. And we're probably the only ones over 35, too! Dreadful thought, eh?” And at that moment I knew my foray into Bloggerville was off course. I could hear my life in that place where you can almost see the end of the world calling me back. Yes, I’d love to have people read my tales and see my photos, but that’s not what I had set out to do with my blog.

I turned for the exit gates of Bloggerville, but perhaps not quite ready to leave, I made one last visit to Dirk’s site, the place where it had begun. It was the same exciting technicolor lay-out that it had been yesterday, but to my surprise, Dirk Star had been replaced – on this day – by Dirk B., husband and father-to-be. His “voice” was noticeably different than Mr. Star’s. Sure, there was some wit carrying the seriousness along, but this was the heart of the real man speaking.

I stopped. Perhaps I shouldn’t leave Bloggerville after all. Perhaps I could regain my true voice and intent without saying goodbye to those here whom I’ve come to care about. I am a wizard wizened by time and experience, by the woods and the lakes and the animals of the forest; I have worn a business suit, and I have driven a firewood truck. I am a gardener, a carpenter, a stone mason, a handyman; an editor, a photographer. I am passionate in my loves and my hates. I am an actress, a musician, and yes, I am a comic. I have watched Death and I have given life. Can I remain true to myself in this place?

I listen intently, but I can no longer hear it: the sucking sound is fading away. My decision is made. I will stay, but I will place the seriousness of my original intent above the temptations that Bloggerville offers, writing first and foremost for myself and for my children’s children. Sigmund and I will occasionally still make our trek to the taverns of Bloggerville (I just can’t help myself...), but mostly the Wizened Wizard will write her memoir far from the madding crowd. Will you still visit me sometimes?

Monday, December 04, 2006

And The Prize goes to... (pregnant pause)... The Judge!! Yes, it is the wizard's new well! The photo was taken from about three feet above the 6" wide metal casing, looking down at the water inside (which is what I focused the camera on). A Very Honorable Mention goes to Dirk Star, whose wisdom, insights, intuitive puzzle-solving skills and blog decor never fail to amaze!

The good news here is that water is actually FILLING all but about eight of the 300 feet of verticle hole, giving us a reservoir of nearly 438 gallons of water. The bad news is that there is no way to know if there's giardia in it... Would anyone like to drop by for a drink? (Ooops, not quite yet - this marvel of technology still isn't connected to the house).


What is it? Any guesses?
Hint: this is one of a pair... there is a good one, and there is an "evil" one... it was photographed near the Wizard's place in the enchanted forest... You can click on the picture to enlarge it.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I Think that I Shall Never See
A Blog as Lovely as a Tree...

Wizened Eye photo of "Camperdown Elm" by Jacques Hnizdovsky

Mutants have caught my attention lately. (You might recall my posting about treating water with UV light to alter the DNA of giardia lambia... Little Things have also made me take note. (I don't think I ever mentioned my 43 spider bites). Well, here’s a happier story that combines mutants and little things.

Once upon a time (in the late 1830s), the head forester for the Earl of Camperdown discovered a mutant contorted branch growing along the ground in the forest at Camperdown House, in Dundee, Scotland. For reasons lost to history, the fellow grafted it to the trunk of a Wych Elm (Ulmus glabra), and henceforth every “Camperdown Elm” in the world sprouts from a cutting taken from that original mutant cutting, which is then grafted on a 1.5-2 meter Wych Elm trunk.

“So what,” you say, but this wizard says “Wow! What a cool tree!” (I had seen its picture).

Prospect Park is a 585
acre public park in Brooklyn, NY, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux after they completed Manhattan's Central Park. It’s a wonderful oasis of meadows, forests, ponds and small brooks. I know, because when I come out of the woods and visit New York City, I am drawn to such places - even when I could as easily be tromping in Times Square - and this Thanksgiving I wanted to see the Camperdown Elm.

In 1872 it was planted near the Boat House, and in recent years it has been lovingly tended by The Friends of Prospect Park (a non-profit, volunteer organization). It is considered the outstanding specimen tree in Prospect Park, but rather than towering high above the others, this oddity looks like an oversized bonsai. And a wizard’s tree it is: gnarly, arms outstretched and reaching, wizened by time, wonderful.