Christmas Ornaments

approachable alternate reality

Our Nutcracker wooden figure carries a weight of memories.  Early memories are of my sister, Christina’s Sugar Plum Fairy solo for Saint Aidan Parish talent program, Mom’s appreciation of performance of Swan Lake in her pre-child past, a friend of my Mom was a former dancer who taught Christina ballet.  Hanging quietly, these memories swirl around the Nutcrackers open maw.   

Click this photograph for my Fine Art Photography gallery.
Click this photograph for my Fine Art Photography gallery

Ten years ago we observed New Years Day 2009 in the lobby of Winthrop Medical Center, Mineola, New York waiting for the outcome of Mom’s hip replacement surgery grateful the head of Orthopedics was performing the surgery.  That year saw large changes played out in the last four years of her life, she never returned to her home of 52 years.  

From then on her winters were spent with her daughter Diane in Mesa, Arizona.  Mom would call us, amused at the sight of neighbors walking by in 50 degree weather in winter parkas.  She was well known in Albertson for her habit of walking everywhere, it was fortunate she never needed to learn how to drive a car: all she needed was readily at hand.  

I needed to return to Albertson several times a year to our childhood home.  December 2009, Pam and I melded the trip with a day in New York City.  Memories of Mom’s enjoyment of Swan Lake drew me to purchase tickets for The Nutcracker.  The New York City Ballet has performed The Nutcracker every Christmas season since 1954, when I was one year old.  The 56th performance was our first. 

As with Dante’s version of hell, the David H. Koch Theater has rings.  I sprang for the highest ring, the fourth, the least costly and, optimistically, the best vantage to view the formations of grouped dancers.

A full orchestra is dedicated to each performance, the hall acoustics are fabulous, and we were able to appreciate the scenes, the grouped dancers and, even, the soloists.  The last scene of the first act, the Snowflakes (or Snow Crystals), brought tears to my eyes, the music, the scene was impossibly beautiful and brought back some experiences of mine in winter nature.

We were hooked after that, immersed in the very real (i.e., non-virtual) alternate reality at least two Sunday afternoon performances each year, seeing all Tchaikovsky’s ballets in the style of Balanchine for which the New York Ballet is famous.  For the 59th season of The Nutcracker were brought two granddaughters, took fourth third row orchestra seats.  We marveled at the experience.  It included, during intermission, a photo session with a character from the performance.

Here they are with a Snowflake.  This is a scan of one of the 8 x 10 prints we received from this session.

Click the photograph for my Fine Art Photography gallery
Nia and Gabby with the Nutcracker Ballet character “Snowflake” during the intermission of a December 2012 performance.

 

We planned to share a performance of Swan Lake with Mom during the September 2013 season, in her 90th year.  Mom passed away in her birth month, June, 2013.  

Click this link for the first posting of this series.

Keuka Lake Fall Winter

October 5, 2014 found Pam and I at Keuka Lake after my son completed the Wine Glass Marathon.  Here we are at the finish line in Corning, home of the Corning Glass Factory.  You may know it from your set of Correlle dinnerware.

Marathoner and his proud father

Afterwards, Pam and I made it up to the Dr. Frank Winery for a tasting followed by dinner at a local restaurant.  Here is a photograph from the same viewpoint, using the “zoom” setting of my Sony DSLR A700.  The view is more interesting than the winter shot of “Keuka Lake Winter I”  from the autumn clouds and the burst of late day sun on the eastern lake shore.

This is the juncture of the “Y” shaped lake where the two arms joint the long foot.  The pointed high headland is the point where the two arms meet.  We are looking north here.  The western arm, on the right, is unique in that the water is flowing down into the juncture.  In Keuka Lake the water flows in two directions.  The flow of lake foot and eastern arm is in the opposite direction, Keuka Lake empties at the top of the eastern arm, eventually reaching Lake Ontario.  

North View from Overlook using “Zoom” lens

Here is the eastern view, from the overlook, looking over a vineyard ready for harvest, covered with fruit and leaves.  Every once in awhile there is a loud “bang” from a noisemaker used to discourage birds from feasting on grapes.  The buildings along the shore are summer cottages, Keuka is lined with them.

East View on an autumn afternoon

The same view, from our December 2018 visit.  The vines are bare, the fallen leaves cleared, the vine roots covered under banked earth to protect them from the cold.

Pam and I, enjoying wine after the 2014 Wine Glass Marathon.  Cheers!!

Click this link for my Fine Art Photography Gallery.

Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

New Neighbors

Manufactured Home Installed Next Door, September 2017

When Pam and I made Westwood Knoll our home in 2011, to the north, across the street, was an empty wooded lot that has since been subdivided into three of the last home sites in Ithaca. This summer, the corner lot was razed of all its trees, the lovely mature cherry, sycamore, ash, maple reduced to stumps to be cut up and carted away. There was a positive in that the lot was overgrown and unsightly, but every spring the upper reaches were masses of blooms and young green leaves.

In a heavy rain on September 5th, 2017 the two parts, call them “modules”, were delivered, and then sat until September 7th to be assembled in one day. The process itself was interesting to witness and, while being otherwise occupied, I came out now and then to document the progress.

Here are my photographs. What do you think? Please leave comments.

The Foundation
The foundation installation took a week to construct. It started with, literally, blocks of styrofoam held together with plastic and assembled by hand, like a child’s block set. There is an 8 inch gap in between filled with concrete. There was NO rebar used. bolts were inserted for attaching the modules.
How Module Two  was Hauled
Module Two was delivered on wheels and moved into position by this semi.
Module Two, the house next door
Module Two will eventually face the opposite direction. That will be the rear door. This is our swimming pool, I use garden hoses to siphon excess rainwater.
Construction Worker??
Most of the workers were dressed like this, casually, no protection for feet or head. We were concerned with this. No one was injured this day, as far as we know.
Another Construction Worker
The worker is standing on a board on which the crane wheels will rest.
Crane Boom End and Hooks
Crane Boom End with hooks in transport configuration. These are attached to the modules for positioning over and lowering onto the foundation.
A supervisor
This fellow arrived to take pictures from that smart phone.
Tracked Loader
A versatile tracked loader used throughout the foundation construction and module installation.
Worker and Hooks
A worker prepares the hooks for use. No head protection was a concern to us.
Support Blocks
Yellow blocks of metal used to support the crane.. A railing of Module One is above the truck, to left.
Hooks Prepared for Use
The red hook is ready.
Hooks ready to go.
The hooks hang free, ready to use.
Module One
This is where Module One was dumped on the side of the road on September 5th, two days before installation.
Module One and Construction Worker
We are looking here over the edge of our patio and landscaped yard to the site of module one, pre-installation, a worker approaching.
Module Two
The first step was to extricate module two from the mud and haul it up the street. A construction worker foreground, the boom of crane beyond.
Positioning Module Two
The semi backed Module Two into position, the crane boom and hooks loom.
The Company Responsible
The workers were considerate of our lawn. There was minimal damage. The modules installed this day looks nothing like this image.
Module Two Attached and Ready
From here Module Two will be lifted onto the foundation.
Workers Prepare Foundation.
Workers prepare foundation to receive Module Two while the unit is readied.
Module Two Lifted.
I see only the black hook is in use.
Another View of Module Two
Another View of Module Two with worker. That is the bottom of our driveway.
Module One with Construction Materials
Module One was delivered with construction materials inside.
Module One with Carrier and workers.
The porch and entry door of Module One with worker and rope. The worker needs to negotiate the carrier.
Pulling Module One Around
A 180 degree turn orients Module One to Module Two. The porch overhangs the foundation.

Positioning module one over foundation.

Worker Stands in Module Two
A worker observes from the interior of Module Two. Here is a closer view of the wire harness.

Final positioning of the module to form a whole structure.

Finished.
The roof panels are here lifted to a peak. The shingles and such in place for installation. These are the materials delivered inside Module One.

Update: since this post was first published September 2017 the original owners moved to the southern USA after selling the property at an inflated price to a young Cornell professor.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Herald

Luke 2:8 – 11

“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the LORD appeared to them, and the glory of the LORD shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.’

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Fresh Snow

In Dawn’s Light, Untouched

Here is a story of a local man’s narrow escape from this week’s snowstorm.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Pushing Back….

…Darkness

The wonder of electricity through a timer, lights greet the sunset offering cheer until, precisely 4 hours later, surrender to the night UNLESS there is a power outage and the lights return for a renewed countdown.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Santa Elf Spotted…..

….on paddle board.

She was captured via IPhone coming…..

….and going on the Cayuga Inlet off Cass Park, Ithaca, New York, on a December afternoon.

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Our Solo Thanksgiving Feast

We spread our Thanksgiving goodies over three meals for our 2020 solo celebration.

Breakfast: Homemade Apple Pie (Grannie Smith Apples), Coffee with foamed milk and cinnamon
Lunch: Relish plate, sour cream onion dip, potato chips (avocado oil), Irish cheddar cheese and crackers, Dr. Frank Pino Noir
The roses are the last blooms from our garden.   

Copyright 2020 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Homecoming Parade 2003

Celebrating Electors Voting Today

In 2003 I was 50 years old, my son Sean graduated college and started his first job and we made time for a tour of Arizona together in November. The timing was perfect for me to take in the University of Arizona (U of A) Homecoming, my first since graduating 1975.

ArizonaCheer2003

One absolutely positive memory from my time at the U of A was trying out for freshman cheer squad when I first arrived in Tucson, somehow being chosen and then serving for the fall and spring terms. So, when I received an invitation of the cheer alumni events I accepted and planned to be there in Tucson for November 7 and 8.

ArizonaCheer2003

November 7 there was a reception for cheer alumni and current squad members. Everyone was welcoming and friendly, as you would expect, and I learned a bit about the younger members, how many were on academic scholarships.

ArizonaCheer2003

The squad advisor, Phoebe Chalk, and I chatted briefly. She responded, “We have photographers,” and I floated the idea of my taking photographs during the parade so I let that drop with the intention of doing it, anyway.

ArizonaCheer2003

I came prepared the next day with a Sony Cybershot F828. It was “Sony’s flagship prosumer digital camera” at the time. It worked well that day, the variable lens was especially helpful.

ArizonaCheer2003

At the staging site I encountered a problem. The cheer squad headed the parade, behind the University President with the cheer alumni well behind. My solution was to approach Peter Linkins, the outgoing University President, with a request to photograph the cheer squad.

ArizonaCheer2003

He said, “OK”, made a phone call and I walked up to the squad. They remembered me from the reception and I was on my way, “embedded” for the parade.

ArizonaCheer2003

I walked alongside and on the alert.  As we crossed passed the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium and into the intersection with Cherry Avenue the squad broke formation for a stunt.  Three men formed the “base”, they were  J. Justin VandenBerg, Ricardo Abud (captain) and Robert Scoby, around a “flyer”, Taylor Hendrickson, and launched her into the air, above the pavement.

ArizonaCheer2003

My sense of amazement, awe and concern is reflected in the reactions of the team members.  Taylor was thrown more than 15 feet high for a complete flip to land in the arms of the three base members.  I call this image, “Mind.”

ArizonaCheer2003

They did it again and I was more prepared to capture the instant of launch.  “Aerialists,” is the title of this image.  The next flyer to launch was Kristen Ortega, here standing on the shoulders of her partner.

ArizonaCheer2003-1

Kristen was launched in front of the review stand.  “Grace,” is the image title.  The three base members are the same.

ArizonaCheer2003-1

Here is the rest of the parade.

ArizonaCheer2003-1
ArizonaCheer2003-1
ArizonaCheer2003-1
ArizonaCheer2003-1
ArizonaCheer2003-1

I posed with the cheer squad afterwards.

ArizonaCheer2003-1
Click link for another posting about Arizonians, “Portrait of a Navajo Guide.”
Click link for another posting about Arizonians, “History and Ghosts of the Triangle T Ranch.”

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

A Little Water Fall…

…and Gorge Cliffs

Purling of the water beneath this foot high waterfall was enhanced by reducing ISO to 100, tamping down the aperture to f/22 resulting in an shutter speed of 1/10th second. I set the graduated Neutral Density filter to shade the left side.

On the cliffs ahead is where the observation platform is cut into the rock. It has a great view of the waterfall, in some ways the experience of the falls is enhanced, compared to hiking the 3/4 mile path and standing below.

Click photograph for a larger view. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

A marvelous forest grows on talus from the high gorge walls.

A sign on a disused pier warns waders to leave the creek bed. Ahead the gorge walls tower above the creek. Rocks dislodge and crash down unexpectedly, crushing foolish waders. It is appalling to see, in warmer months, people walking below those cliffs gathering the fallen rocks to make delicately balanced cairns.

Here is a slide show from today and two prior postings. To do this from WordPress Reader, you need to first click the title of this post to open a new page.

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills