Friday, September 11, 2015


Yesterday evening, as I was rolling the toter up the driveway to the road for today's trash pick-up, I noticed this lovely little pearl crescent butterfly dramatically sidelit by the setting sun. Though I haven't made a photo in at least a week, it was too pretty a moment to resist…so I left the barrel parked on the hill, hurried to grab a camera, and barely had time to make just this single image before the light faded.

It's the first creative act I've managed in awhile that hasn't involved a power tool or hammer.    

My whole-cottage remodeling project continues. 

So far I've removed a wall and enlarged the rear entry area. Put up new walls on both sides of the hall. Framed in a new doorway to the laundry room. Installed new jambs, headers, and thresholds on seven doorways. Removed a wall in the bathroom. Finished one wall in the kitchen. I've built a pantry, linen closet, and "rustic" bathroom door. Ran crown moldings and door casings. Painted. 

Which doesn't sound like much, all told, but has occupied almost my every waking moment from right after breakfast until well after dark. I'm now working on the cook-stove/food-prep side of the kitchen.   

Myladylove took off to Tennessee yesterday morning for a brief parental visit; she'll be back Monday. Wait 'til she sees I've moved the refrigerator and microwave into the living room.


Scott said...

Can I hire you? How are you getting your "paid" work done? What did you do with all your "spare time" before you started this remodeling project? :-)

Carolyn H said...

Griz, I like those pearl crescent butterflies but I never seem to find them sitting still!

Grizz………… said...


I'll probably be too old to hire myself out by the time I get everything here done. I know I'm not going to get finished with the even the main stuff this year before bad weather sets in—plus I still have a floor in every room but two to do. But I'll keep your offer in mind should get strapped for cash or decide I'm a glutton for punishment.

As to spare time, I have none. Absolutely none. I've been getting up around 5:00 a.m. and writing my columns and such so's I can be ready to start sawing and hammering and muttering the occasional loud imprecation once Myladylove is awake. I work dawn to duck and then some every day, including weekends and this past holiday. Only rain prevents me from setting up shop—at which point I do "inside" tasks.

Sitting here at the computer during the midday, fiddling on the Internet, hasn't been part of my routine for weeks. Neither has going anywhere other than hardware stores, lumber yards, and the grocery. It got so bad I ran out of coffee earlier this week and had to resort to instant! Yukkkk! The only reason I manged to put up a post today and am sitting here now, is that I needed to do a bit of research re. how to safely move and rewire one of those big 220 v. wall plugs for an electric stove. You could put my sum electrical skills in a thimble and still have room, so I'm trying to be as safe about this as I can…which is no doubt a dangerous thing.

Grizz………… said...

Carolyn H…

Butterflies can be more of a photographic challenge than you tend to think…some days even the usual lingerers refuse to stay put. I've chased individuals all over a 50-acre weedfield and still not managed to get a shot. I actually didn't think the one in this image would still be there after the minute or so it took me to retrieve my camera—but I got lucky.

Persistence and luck are really the photographer's two most important tools.

John said...


Reading your recent post, I am struck with the observation that the creative moment you describe appears often and regularly to people. The delight is to read that you find yourself smitten by this erratic and unbidden way of seeing the world and how you could fit in that visualized experience. Many people enamored of the creative urge to play with this reality, recognize the fleetingness and uncontrollable aspect of this way of seeing. I love reading how you followed that little glimmer when spotting the butterfly and returning to get your camera, following the muse, even leaving the scene to get your tool (camera). Those spur of the moment events often strike without warning. They seem to be much richer than the regularly planned for creative endeavors, like rebuilding your cottage. Seize that one special moment among the many others. Then enjoy the results of spontaneity acted upon.



Grizz………… said...


You've hit the nail smack on the head! You can't plan or force those special moments…they just happen. Pure serendipity. Oh sure, you can put yourself in ideal situations and pray, but the old press photographer's dictum of "f-8 and be there!" still rules. In the final accounting, it isn't about gear and technical skill, or even hard work—it's about being in the right place at the right time. Most of the truly great images are garnered that way. Not all, of course, but many of those one-of-a-kind shots. You can't contrive magic. Not that I'm equating my butterfly pix in any such terms…but it was a moment which came about purely by chance, the lighting and butterfly and background, and I (again, purely by chance) happened to be there and see it, at which point it rang some bell in my limited artistic side, and I did the best I could to take advantage of what I'd stumbled upon.

You know, one of the things that haunts me most, photographically and creatively, is not what I've managed, but what I've missed—those rare, wonderful, beautiful, one-of-a-kind moments placed like an offering from God in my path, which I recognized, but failed to capture because my camera was at home, in my pickup, in a backpack, wherever. Not in my hands, anyway. Moments only last—yup—a moment. It was unusual that I managed to stretch the one which furnished the image for this post for maybe 90 seconds. I'd always rather be lucky rather than good.

John said...


Following on your previous comment: Some of the most remembered mythical, "magic' events that come most easily as well as very complete in form are from just those times when I didn't have a camera with me. Awareness was suddenly overtaken, that feeling of uniqueness unfurled, conditions were just right, even the lighting served to isolate from the background the object or scene. Those moments live deep within me, easily recalled. Yet the same kind of moments. when i did capture them with my camera often fade most easily into those vague mists of past events.

Why the difference? Was it the sadness of wanting to work with nature and save the flavor of those events and missing the chance for lack of equipment. Is there an emotional punctuation that infuses the moment and makes it easier to recall?

I noticed on a trip to Yellowstone, many years ago, the Japanese tourists unloading from the tourbus at every sight seeing stop on their tour. First upon exiting the bus they lined up at the bowels of the bus, to unload many large travel trunks of camera equipment, which were loaded onto personal folding wire carts that were wheeled behind them as they walked in file to the viewing platform. on reaching the destination the equipment was carefully unpacked, coupled together, set up and aimed at the featured attraction. Only then did the tourists begin looking at the reason everyone was there. After capturing the requisite images every good tourist needs to collect from their travels was the entire process reversed and everyone clambered back to their seats on the bus. Seeing this occur many times at many sites, it dawned on my after watching this happen at Old Faithful, how many of those people were actually there? Flying across the Pacific, traveling in a group, being lead by a trip leader, being present at each predetermined site and making the dutiful photograph of the exact same highlight that everyone else makes, that can easily be bought in the tourist store full of tchotches and postcards bearing the same photograph. I wondered, what exactly did they see? Or were they mindlessly going through the motions.

After that I always made myself take in the surroundings before i ever raised the viewfinder to my eye. There were times when i would purposefully go out with my camera not loaded with film, just as an exercise in being there and of seeing. I still remember some of those photographs not made for purposeful lack of film. Of course nowadays the present cameras need only space on the memory cards. So having no film no longer counts as a valid reason for missing the photograph.

So the question remains, are we responding to the scene, or the magic of being fully there? Does the click of the shutter make the memory diminished in some fashion that minimizes the experience and thus the ability to recall completely? No matter what the case the journey is certainly worth the destination.


Grizz………… said...


Over the years, I've witnessed, been part of, and thought quite a bit about the insightful points you raise. I maybe can't give you THE answer, but I can give you My answer—what seems to be the truth for me, pre and post "magic" moment.

First off, for me photographing and seeing are two decidedly different things. You have to first do the latter before attempting the former, but they're two separate branches on the same tree—though perhaps the witnessing constitutes the tree's trunk, while only the act of photography should—in this analogy—be rightly called a branch. Other "branches" would include painting and words, either in spoken form, poetry, or prose. You see something which moves you and decide to capture and/or communicate it in some form.

I see first…then react by doing whatever—in this case committing to memory and photographing. Both of which are attempts at long-term storage, a place to file and keep that special moment so I can later on share with others or recreate in some form merely for myself. Neither the retained memory nor the captured image lessen the original experience. The seeing always remains fresh and honest and stirring, whether I have a camera or only my memory as my "capture" media.

For others, the "okay, I've got that one in the can" notion may allow them to set it aside somewhat as a finished product from which they can then move on. But not for me. The "emotional punctuation that infuses the moment" is always there, whether I succeeded or not. But I may additionally be disappointed, upset, feeling stupid, whatever, if I missed capturing the moment photographically…IF the moment could have been captured photographically. Some moments simply can't be because the emotion, the immediacy, the situational milieu may be too big a factor, such an integral part of a greater whole, unassailable, un-capturable as a photo. Some moments are better captured by words than pictures, and in many instances, only poetry can come close to sufficing. This is because special moments are, at their best, intensely personal. What moves me may not move you. To some, the Grand Canyon is merely a big hole in the ground with a river at the bottom; I tend to view most cities as a steel/glass/concrete cancer, ugly to the extreme. My emotional response is avoidance—and I certainly don't want to retain their image, in any form.

As to those camera-totin' tourists, well, what can you say? They're everywhere, and have turned some of the most iconic and breathtaking bits of landscape into hackneyed clichés, trampling them to trivial oblivion while stealing their majesty and spirit. They look without seeing, ignoring the magic for the mechanical. Which is why I always do my best to look, to see, to find the "soul of the scene" before raising a camera to my eye. The different between using a tool or allowing the tool to use you.

Kelly said...

...sounds like a lot to me! My hubby just redid my son's bathroom, and that was a lot of work. You're doing the entire house!

p.s. beautiful shot of the butterfly. Glad you stopped and honored it with a photo. :-)

Grizz………… said...


Please forgive the too long delay in getting your nice comment posted…I just didn't realize it was pending. I'm truly sorry.

I've been so caught up in this remodeling project that I've developed a sort of tunnel focus—eat, sleep, and work every spare moment at either necessary writing or whatever wall in whichever room I happening to be currently redoing. Everything else has been all but forgotten, overlooked, ignored. Though I don't mean this to be the case. I finally took my first break since mid-July Sunday…unplanned, but a notion which struck as I was in the shower, fully intending to start assembling kitchen cabinets the moment I got out. I told Myladylove—who was already showered, dressed, and ready for the day's work—that we were going to play hooky and go for a long ride, give the remodel work a rest and have some fun enjoying a day to ourselves. Of course we felt guilty and irresponsible all day, but we ignored this and drove a couple hundred miles in a big loop—slurped an afternoon ice cream cone, ate dinner in a small-town restaurant, looked at lakes and country roads and clouds in the sky, and got home well after dark. Spent the whole day playing and felt better for it!