Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kalamazoo at its best

For all of the dorm shabbiness,
the conference does see WMSU at its best.
There's quite a nice pond just below the dorm buildings,
and the trees are blossoming in early May,
and there are geese:

... and turtles sunning themselves...

... and a pair of nesting swans!

The orange construction netting fence is not very attractive,
but it is needed.
Swans do need to be protected from campus visitors,
but even more,
the campus visitors need to be protected from the SWANS.
Swans are very aggressive-- in fact, downright mean!

The lovely dorms of Kalamazoo

Come to Kalamazoo!
See the lovely dorms!
With a car full of camping comforts,
they are endurable for a few days.
As semester-long dwellings for THREE people per room...
But there's a certain humor about staying in the dorms,
and it certainly keeps one close on campus.
(And close to the BOOK FAIR, which is great!)

Post Travel Debris

This is what my dining room table looks like,
after unpacking (mostly)
from attending an academic conference/ road trip.
I love the Medieval Conference book fair.
I got 17 books.
Most are pictured here.
(I have a weakness for illuminated manuscripts,
books on food history,
and various cultural historical topics.)
The others are being shipped to me.
Before I can read all these beauties, however,
I have laundry and dishes,
and various personal things,
and a stack of academic tasks-
emails I need to send to people,
pictures I need to share,
and so on.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

More Details of the Holy Family Shrine

The altar inside this church has a lovely crucifixion group behind it.
The whole sanctuary end is raised up, with a short flight of steps,
and a pool of water beneath it
(there's a lot of water on the site, and water symbolism).

At the base of the crucifix is a relief sculpture of wheat,
appropriate for Nebraska,
and of course appropriate for the Eucharist:

Just above the crucifix,
etched into the glass,
is an oval portrait of the Holy Family.
While it can be seen from inside or out,
my exterior photograph is one I like,
to show the setting:

The Joys of Road Trips

One of the great things about road trips is that you see unexpected things.
And if you are not in a hurry, you can stop to investigate them.
While just outside Omaha,
we saw this cool structure.
At first we thought it was a barn being raised,
but then we saw the fine woodwork,
and the glass windows,
and then lastly the crucifix in front--
and we realized it was a church!
So we pulled off at the next exit.
And lo and behold, a sign saying "Holy Family Shrine, 3 miles."
So we followed the signs, and came out onto this:

Not only is the church and the site stunning,
but the landscaping is sensitively and exquisitely done.
The sense of peace and calm that radiates from this spot is just incredible.
The church interior is nothing short of heavenly:

The glass walls and fine attention to detail
(even the light fixtures have crucifixes in them,
the floor is smoothed chunks of local limestone)
make this a wonderful, relaxing, spiritual place.
Outside, the cross image is also wonderfully done:

Christ's eyes are actually open,
and His cloth is fluttering the direction of the predominant wind blow
(we could tell, it's plenty windy up on that hill).
It's more of a Resurrection than a Crucifixion scene.

We spent a very happy hour at this site!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Iowa Farm Fields

Iowa is actually really gorgeous,
especially in the spring,
when the clouds are sailing along.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

There are also rainbows in Indiana

Road trip driving across I-80,
we had rain and clouds 2 days in a row,
but also strong sunlight between rain bursts,
and lots of rainbows.
This was particularly gorgeous!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Even the RV at the end of the rainbow has a certain charm,
when the light is so lovely...
but rainbows beneath early spring trees are much better.

The evening light brought out the rainbow really strongly!
Rainbows are tricky to photograph, but we were fortunate.

Nebraska Spring Evening

A rainy evening along I-80 in the middle of Nebraska
in early May-
actually quite gorgeous...

I really like Nebrasak windmills.
The light was lovely when the sun broke through the rain clouds!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fabulous Canyonlands

Down by the river, it's so green this time of year!
Up on the cliffs, views defy description...

Though we had a lot of overcast weather and dust this trip
(bad for scenery pictures)
we did get gorgeous evening light out at White Crack,
which is one of the best overlook spots in my opinion.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Zooming Blackbirds

The top 2 pictures were taken with optical zoom only.
The bottom 2 were taken with the addition of digital zoom (x2).
Not bad... though I don't think the blackbird was terribly happy to have his picture taken
(and just what was a blackbird doing at the top of Murphy Hogback
in Canyonlands, anyway?)

Indian Paintbrush

Though I only got to see one claret cup cactus,
the Indian paintbrush at Canyonlands was blooming full force.
There weren't fields and fields of them,
but in the evening and morning, especially,
there were bright clumps that caught the eye.
These were all taken out at the White Crack area.

The same two clusters.
Above: backlit
Below: in full evening sun.

Happiness is...

A claret cup cactus!!
I have only seen these once before in my life,
and I love them so.
I am always on the lookout for them.
This is the only one I saw in Canyonlands this trip,
and it wasn't in full bloom,
and the cluster as a whole is relatively unimpressive...
but look at the buds.
When they all open, it will be spectacular.

And this is a full open claret cup.
These have to be the most beautiful flowers in the world.
Some day I want to retire to Tucson and have a yard full of these.