Category Archives: Christianity

The Stenslands 2020- Alpha

Today is the second Sunday of Lent. I’m going to share a devotional by Reverend Ron Carlson:

Giving up and letting go

Rev. Ron Carlson
John 2:13-22

It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple those who were selling cattle, sheep, and doves, as well as those involved in exchanging currency sitting there. He made a whip from ropes and chased them all out of the temple, including the cattle and the sheep. He scattered the coins and overturned the tables of those who exchanged currency. He said to the dove sellers, “Get these things out of here! Don’t make my Father’s house a place of business.” His disciples remembered that it is written, Passion for your house consumes me.
Then the Jewish leaders asked him, “By what authority are you doing these things? What miraculous sign will you show us?”

Jesus answered, “Destroy this temple and in three days I’ll raise it up.”

The Jewish leaders replied, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and you will raise it up in three days?” But the temple Jesus was talking about was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered what he had said, and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

It is ironic that the communications folks asked me to develop a devotion based on this passage, known by many as Jesus cleansing the Temple. It is ironic because I can have a bit of a temper and have at times in my life gotten pretty upset. Many times, in an effort to calm me, my wife has reminded me that Jesus did not operate out of anger, but love. I believe that every time she has tried to hold me accountable in this way, I have brought up this story. While many of us have used this story to justify a moment of anger, I don’t necessarily believe Jesus was angry.

Our passage takes place in the temple, as the time of Passover is approaching. When I look at the picture the writer of the Gospel is laying out for us, I imagine more of an open-air market than a sacred space. I picture crowds of people, fast talking vendors, loud noises and enough cattle to keep some of my rural neighbors very busy. It is no wonder that we find it easy to think Jesus was upset when he experienced this in his Father’s house.

We need to remember that Passover was a feast where many traveled to the temple from great distances. We also need to recall that cattle, sheep, and doves were required for burnt offerings, and that the required offerings needed to be perfect. It would not have been possible for travelers to have brought with them the proper offerings. Also, the Roman and Greek coins the pilgrims would have brought along would not have sufficed for their temple tax. Due to the human images on their coins, they needed to be exchanged for Tyrian currency in Jerusalem. While the atmosphere might seem awkward to us, it was needed for worship to occur.

There are some scholars who see Jesus’ actions as an attack on those who are taking advantage of the worshipers. I think we see something broader in scope, In my opinion he was confronting the systems of worship, not the abuse of those systems. Jesus complains that his father’s house has become a place of business. Since this business was necessary to maintain the system of sacrifice and tithes, I see this as Jesus issuing a powerful challenge to the authority of the temple and its worship.

In doing this, Jesus echoes the great tradition of Old Testament prophets who cried out about sacrilegious activities in the temple, against corrupting the worship of God, and substituting ritual for devotion. Prophets who usually began their addresses with “This is the word of God…” Their messages were filled with God’s judgment and grace, they often pointed out where God’s people had strayed from God’s way. Like many prophets before, Jesus’ message is not understood initially, we see that it is only understood through the lens of his death and resurrection.

In the words of Gail R. O’Day, “Jesus challenges a religious system so embedded in its own rules and practices that it is no longer open to a fresh revelation from God, a temptation that exists for contemporary Christianity as well as for the Judaism of Jesus’ day.” What does this challenge mean to you and me? Where are we closed to the idea of something different and what are we holding onto so tightly that we will not be open to the idea of reformation, change or renewal?

Lent is a perfect time for us to reflect on these questions and others like them. Others in this space have noted that Lent is traditionally a season of giving up. Giving up and letting go is an important individual spiritual discipline in this season, because it allows us to draw closer to God. What do we need to give up and let go so that we may draw closer to God? What idols are we clutching so tightly that we are losing feeling in our hands? Would Jesus take the whip and chase these things from the temple?

Almost a year ago we were just beginning to truly understand the pandemic that was upon us as people of this world. Since that time, there have been many things that have changed about Sunday morning. In this time, we have learned to let go of some things that we would not have ever dreamed letting go. Things like responsive readings, singing with gusto and even fellowship time. At some point we will pick some of those things back up because we can, and they are important to us. Are they important to God? I am quite sure there will be other things we will look back on and wonder why we thought they were so important. The important thing is that we have still been able to worship God.

There are many things that we do in our lives because that is just the way we do them. These things may not be important to the desired end result, but they are important because they feel comfortable. I am pretty sure the vendors and coin changers in the Temple were comfortable. They were making a good living, and it looked like nothing would get in the way. They were doing God’s work, helping others to worship God. Then Jesus pointed out where change was needed.
What is Jesus pointing to today in your life? We need to be open to change. To be open to change we need to let go of our idols. What better time than Lent to begin that process. Through Christ and by Christ we can go where we need to be, closer to him.

As we go our separate ways receive this blessing – may “The Lord bless you and protect you. The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up his face to you and grant you peace.” Amen.

Next Sunday I will share a devotional from Rev. Dr. Heecheo Jeon.

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A few months back when Sabas and Ealinie were back from California for Christmas, I met the Stenslands up at Amanda’s office to do a quick family portrait photo shoot. I only got to see Elainie and Sabas twice while they were back because of the incredibly mismanaged pandemic, just another reason I can’t wait for this to be over. Or at least until I can get vaccinated.

Any ways, here is my first collection of favorites from the photo shoot:


Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

Stenslands- 2020

If you want to see more pictures from this photo shoot, click on the link below:

Stenslands – 2020

Also, if you have any kind of real estate needs in Boone or anywhere near Boone, you should 100% hit up Amanda and iHome Realty!

Austin & Porter 2020 A

Today was the second Sunday of Lent. If you couldn’t make it to a worship service, I have your back.. Here is a devotional from Rev. Dr. Moody Colorado:

Living to benefit the Lord

Mark 8:34-38
By Rev. Dr. Moody Colorado, Northeast Region Superintendent

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, we worship and thank you, and we rejoice for this day that you have made.
Jesus, Son of God, we claim you and proclaim you as our Savior and our Lord.
Spirit of God descend upon us and help us to love God with our hearts, our minds and our soul.
Amen.

What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

There was a young man in the 12th Century Italy, who was scared of losing his own soul because his father was rich, a textile businessman. This young man kept telling his friend, “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and lose his own soul?” This young man took some of his father’s merchandise, sold them and tried to give the money to the priest to be given to the poor as needed. The father asked the church to discipline the young man. The young man appeared before the church authorities and his father. Instead of apologizing to his father, this young man removed all his clothes and gave them to his father. Totally naked he declared that from then on he will be a poor monk and the Heavenly Father shall be his provider. From his hometown’s porciuncula, or little church, he reached the world with his preaching and became to be known as St. Francis of Assisi. His disciples, the Franciscans, reached many nations around the world. Francis even preached to a Muslim leader in Egypt.

What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

I used to work as a manager of a Gold Mining Business in the Philippines. Working in the mountains is so complex which included dealing with illegal miners, rebels and the military operations. I knew I have seen hell when my wife and I almost died in one of the gun-battles. Our lives could have been wasted in search of gold. One director of the Mines Bureau told me, “There is no job worth dying for.”

I shared this with my father, Isaac Colorado. He himself gave up his military career for the sacrificial work of a pastor in the country. My father admired my professional job and he also said that the Mines Director may be correct, except for the evangelist’s job. He said that after dodging the bullets in the military service, God somehow showed him that there is a job really worth dying for—the salvation of the world. Its Jesus’ sacrificial job and we are invited to join this very humbling work. The apostle Paul expressed the concept for us, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. (Philippians 1:21)”

We are living in difficult times. Many lives are being lost. I pause and think and hope that it’s not too late to make use of our lives that benefits the Lord and our soul.

We need to care for ourselves and for each other. But let us not forget to keep the main thing as the main thing for the Church. Jesus the Christ is our Lord whose job was and is to save the whole world. I like the United Methodist Church because we can act locally and make an impact globally. Coming from the Philippines I see myself as an evidence that the global UMC system of American Methodist Mission works great. Let us not lose our great task of evangelizing the world. When we are able to save the soul of the world, we have practically saved our own.

Let us pray:
Make me a channel of your peace
Where there is hatred let me bring your love
Where there is injury, your pardon Lord
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.
Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
In giving of ourselves that we receive.
And in dying that we are born to eternal life.
The love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the inspiration of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

Next Sunday I will share a devotional from Reverend Ron Carlson.

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A couple months back I got together with the Degeneffes for the annual photo shoot with Austin & Porter. Here are some of my favorites:


Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

Degeneffe Boys - 2020

While I may have lost the Howard account in 2020, it was good to see that I still hold the Degeneffe account for now. There are plenty more of the Degeneffe boys to come!

Marshall County Auxiliary Images

This entry is a collection of images from when I cruised around Marshall County harvesting their town signs. I started in Melbourne and ended in Marshalltown. The weather was kind of cruddy on that day, but I still got to see and photograph some real interesting things.

Have a look:



Melbourne – That viaduct has sadly been torn down.


Haverhill


Ferguson


Laurel


Gilman


Dunbar


I find this rock thing fascinating. I don’t get it at all. Which makes me love it even more.


Montour – It says Colonial on the side of the bread.


Le Grand


Just really enjoyed the spelling here.


Liscomb


Albion


Marshalltown


I actually went to Marshall County before Carroll and Crawford, but I bungled the order of their release. I believe the Wright County auxiliary images are the next to be released.

Anela Chapter 1

It is the first Sunday of Lent. It is possible you couldn’t get to church today for a wide variety of reasons. To help you out I’m sharing a devotional by Reverend Melissa Drake.

“Knowing our Identity”
Mark 1: 9-13:
By: Rev. Melissa Drake, Southwest Region Superintendent

We are in the first week of Lent—and this Sunday begins our journey of the next 40 days, leading the church up to Easter. The Lenten season is designed to be a mirror for us: it’s a way for us to witness to Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness, as he prepares to begin his ministry.

For Christians, Lent has historically been the yearly season for us to examine ourselves in that same mirror: to spend time in deep personal reflection and preparation as we get ready to commit ourselves to living into the way of Jesus: the way of his baptism, life, death and Resurrection.

For the church it is our season together of reflecting and preparing for the ministries of sharing the Good News of the Resurrection with the world that so desperately needs to hear and see and touch and feel that they are beloved of God.
Lent, this season always known for its austerity—the season where the days are getting longer, but not necessarily getting better—always begins this same way: with Jesus’ baptism and then immediate temptation out in the wilderness. And this year we hear from Mark, chapter 1, verses 9-13:

About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”

At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.

Lent always begins this very same way, and I think sometimes, we, in the church get obsessed over the temptation and the wilderness part, and not so much over the baptism and the naming and claiming part.

And this year of all years, it is a year for us to remember the naming and claiming part: The way the clouds split open and the sun must have been dazzling; the way the wind must have blown, maybe in that wild spring way that makes us adventurous and crazy and ready to go out in the world again, or maybe it blew in that soft spring way that wraps us in the warmth of better days coming; and then the voice. That voice coming from the heavens that says, “You are mine. You are beloved. In your very being I find happiness.”

As Bishop Laurie shared in her devotion last week, Lent has historically been a season to give something up: and that can be such a powerful discipline. We need this time to examine ourselves, to pay attention to what we need to give up and let go so that we can follow Jesus more nearly and dearly. This is a season of giving things up and letting things go as we practice our faith; but it’s also a season of holding on as well. Throughout his time in the wilderness,
Jesus held on to the identity and relationship with God that was so clearly expressed at his baptism.

Friends, as we recommit ourselves to living in the way of Jesus, we need this time of holding on as well. A holding on to what cannot be changed, but what can so easily be forgotten or overshadowed or lost: that deep KNOWING of identity: that deep knowing of belovedness. That deep knowing of relationship, of who we are and who we belong to. And that deep knowing of being absolutely enough, at our very core, for God to delight in us without having to produce anything or accomplish anything.

What would happen to our church communities if we spent the next 40 days holding on to this identity, within our own spirts, during our own times of temptations that tell us that we aren’t enough. That other people have it more and better. That if only we worked a little harder, we’d be more worthy.

And I wonder, what would it be like in our church communities, if we could do this for each other, even in these longer days that don’t always seem to be getting better? If all of our words and all of our work in the next 40 days were about reminding each other, showing each other that we are beloved of God—to remind each other that there is nothing, neither height, nor depth, nor zoom church, nor sub zero temperatures, there is neither pandemic, nor politics, nor temptations or just plain old fatigue that can separate us from the love of our God. And our care for each other.
Friends, this is the promise we made to each other at our baptisms: this is our work of the church: to be connected together. To watch over one another in love. To remind each other of who and whose we are. So that, out of our union with Christ, in his baptism of death and resurrection, we can take this good news out into the world and say and show: World: you, too, are God’s beloved.

May you be blessed; may you hold on.

And may “The God of all grace, who has called us to eternal glory in Christ, establish you and strengthen you by the power of the Holy Spirit that you may live in grace and peace. Amen.”

Next Sunday I will share a devotional from Rev. Dr. Moody Colorado.

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Around Thanksgiving I went over to meet my new grand niece Anela and photograph her. As I’m sometimes asked to do. Here is the first collection of those images:


Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

Newborn Anela

These are the first pictures of Anela that I’ve shared. Meaning there is now an Anela category on this website!

There are at least two more collections of Anela pictures to share in the hopper still!

Postcard Recreation Project – Sacred Heart

If your church is like my church and hasn’t had a worship service in months, it is possible that the fact that today is Ash Wednesday may have snuck up on you. My church is actually having its first worship service tonight since October. However, if you can’t get to church tonight or are choosing not to go to church tonight, I have your back.

Below is a Lenten Devotion from Bishop Laurie Haller.

“Practicing Our Faith”
Matthew 6:1-4, 16-21 (CEB)
By: Bishop Laurie Haller

“Be careful that you don’t practice your religion in front of people to draw their attention. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 Whenever you give to the poor, don’t blow your trumpet as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets so that they may get praise from people. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. 3 But when you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing 4 so that you may give to the poor in secret. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you.”

16 “And when you fast, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have their reward. 17 When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face. 18 Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 19 Stop collecting treasures for your own benefit on earth, where moth and rust eat them and where thieves break in and steal them. 20 Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them. 21 Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I’ll never forget that morning. In 1993, my husband Gary and I were appointed to be co-pastors of First United Methodist Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After twelve years of pastoring separately in different churches, Gary and I were going to be serving together. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive about being in a big steeple city church after serving much smaller churches.

On our first Sunday in July, our three children, who were going to enter sixth, fourth, and first grade, sat alone in the front pew of this large Gothic style sanctuary. After all, we didn’t know anyone yet, and that way we could keep an eye out on the kids. That was our first mistake. When the time came for the children to be introduced, they marched up the stairs to the chancel area, whereupon our middle child, Garth, started waving his hands to the congregation just like a politician. I could feel my face turning red with embarrassment. But that was nothing compared to Garth making a paper airplane from the church bulletin and flying it from the front pew during the sermon.

What does it mean to practice your religion in front of others? In our human quest to be acknowledged and recognized, how do we act? What is fame, anyway? What is success? What does it mean to be honored? Does it mean our name is splattered all over the tabloids? Does it mean that every action we take is scrutinized by an adoring public? Where should the reward for living a good life come from? From an adoring public, from our colleagues, or from the church?

And what about Lent? The six weeks preceding Easter are often seen as a time of not only giving up something for Lent, but more often adding something. Some people give up candy for Lent, or chocolate, or coffee, or desserts. Others fast on a certain day during Lent. The idea is that when we give up something that meaningful to us, we learn about spiritual disciplines.

On the other hand, some people add things to their lives during Lent. Perhaps it’s joining a short-term study group, reading through the gospels, visiting someone in a nursing home once a week, or giving extra money to a mission cause.

In Jesus’ day there were three great works of the religious life: almsgiving (or giving to the poor), prayer, and fasting. To the Jews, almsgiving was the most sacred of all religious duties. Jesus certainly does not dispute here that giving to the poor is important. What troubled Jesus was the motive of many of the Jews, who made a big show of giving their money in the synagogues so that others could see how much God had blessed them.

In the same way, it was tempting for the Jews to flaunt their prayer life, which was the second work of the religious life. Some liked to parade their righteousness publicly by praying on the street corners. This is how it was known that they were carrying out exactly what God wanted them to do.

And then there was fasting. The Jews fasted as a sign of mourning; in order to atone for sin; as an outward expression of an inward sorrow; and as a symbol of national penitence. Or they would fast in preparation for a revelation from God.

Could it be that Jesus wants us to learn from this scripture that we shouldn’t practice our religion in front of others in order to be recognized? What do you do in secret? Are you doing anything in secret? Are you pleasing God at all?

Henri Nouwen, who was one of the most perceptive spiritual writers of his time and was one of my professors at Yale Divinity School, wrote a book entitled Letters to Marc about Jesus. It was addressed to his 19-year-old nephew in Holland.

Listen to what Nouwen wrote to Marc, “I don’t think you’ll ever be able to penetrate the mystery of God’s revelation in Jesus until it strikes you that the major part of Jesus’ life was hidden and that even the public years remained invisible as far as most people were concerned. Whereas the way of the world is to insist on publicity, celebrity, popularity, and getting maximum exposure, God prefers to work in secret. In God’s sight, the things that really matter seldom take place in public.”

As we enter the holy season of Lent on Ash Wednesday, how is God calling you to practice your faith? What spiritual disciplines might you embrace to help others claim the good news of Jesus Christ and seek treasures in heaven?

Let us pray. God, grant that we would discover the secret of living in your presence. Grant us wisdom and courage to yield to your intentions and purpose for our lives. Grant us insight to discern what is pleasing to you and give us strength to do it. Help us not to live glib and superficial lives but cleanse us by our confessions and make us worthy disciples, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

I will share another devotion from Reverend Melissa Drake on Sunday.

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This week’s POSTCARD RECREATION PROJECT subject is the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. I actually couldn’t find much on the history of the church. There isn’t a “history” section on their website. However, I did find some information on the church on the website of the artist that decorated the church in 1937, John Mallin. Unfortunately, all his decorations have since been covered up, removed, or destroyed.

From his website:

The first Catholic mass was said in Boone, Iowa in 1860 for two Catholic families. A frame church in West Boone was dedicated in 1865 to St. Joseph, and later changed to St. Patrick after the acquisition of a parish cemetery to St. Patrick. A new frame church was built in the lartger community of Boone on the corner of 12th and Marshall Streets in 1880, and the church was renamed Church of the Sacred Heart. The parsonage burned in 1891, and was replaced with a brick structure that same year. In 1894, a cornerstone was laid for the current Sacred Heart church, which is a large Romanesque stone structure. It was dedicated in December of 1894.

Here are the postcards:


Catholic Church Boone Iowa - 2233 - Original
Catholic Church. Boone. Iowa – 2233 – Original

Catholic Church - Boone, Iowa - 2233 - Redux
Catholic Church. Boone. Iowa – 2233 – Redux

Church of the Sacred Heart - Boone, IA - Original
Church of the Sacred Heart – Boone, IA – Original

Church of the Sacred Heart - Boone, IA - Redux
Church of the Sacred Heart – Boone, IA – Redux

Church of the Sacred Heart - Boone, Iowa - Original
Church of Sacred Heart Boone, Iowa – Original

Church of the Sacred Heart - Boone, Iowa - Original
Church of Sacred Heart Boone, Iowa – Redux

Sacred Heart Catholic Church - Boone, Iowa - Modern Interpretation
Sacred Heart Catholic Church – Modern Interpretation

I confess that on this project, I didn’t do a great job recreating angles on a couple of the postcards. Although I’m pleased with the modern interpretation postcard, if Rodan139 wasn’t grounded for the winter, I would probably have used it to capture the modern interpretation base image.

The next time we check-in on this project, it will involve more downtown intersections.

Carroll County and Crawford County Auxiliary Images

When I went out to harvest the town signs of Carroll County and Crawford County, I did both counties in one swoop. I didn’t actually need many signs from either county, so I was about to pick up most of them going south through both counties along 141 and then get the last couple missing towns coming north back home.

Here are some of the non town-sign pictures I took on this road trip:


Carroll County
The person that lives here has to be fascinating.

Carroll County
I miss the days this didn’t apply to the Men’s Basketball Team.

Carroll County

Carroll County

Carroll County
If you can’t read the plaque in the background this is in memory of an Army Veteran that was killed in Afghanistan.

Carroll County

Carroll County
Sculpture Garden in Coon Rapids

Carroll County
If you’re sculpture garden doesn’t include a dinosaur made out of old farm elements, this guy is out!

Carroll County

Carroll County

Carroll County

Carroll County

Carroll County

Carroll County

Carroll County

Carroll County
I don’t wanna brag, but I’m pretty sure I could break out of here.

Carroll County

Carroll County

Carroll County

Carroll County

Carroll County
Carroll County Freedom Rock

Carroll County

Carroll County

Crawford County

Crawford County

Crawford County

Crawford County

Crawford County

Crawford County

Crawford County

Crawford County
Crawford County Freedom Rock

Crawford County

Crawford County

Crawford County

Crawford County

Crawford County

Crawford County

Crawford County
A terrifying baby Jesus.

Carroll County

Carroll County

Carroll County

Greene County

Greene County
Because St. Patrick’s is on the National Registry of Historic Places, so is this outhouse.

I can’t wait until this weather is better and I can hit the open road again. It looks like this weekend is a real possibility. As I type this, the current temperature -21 degrees. The wind chill is -38. There are rolling blackouts all across the country because southern power grids aren’t designed to handle running this many furnaces at once. But it might get into the +30s this weekend. You know it has been cold when you have to differentiate temperatures with a + sign.

Webster County Auxiliary Images

Today feels like a good day to share the images I took while I was prowling around Webster County harvesting their town signs with Mom and Teresa several weeks ago.


Webster County

Webster County
I truly love this sign so much!

Webster County
I do love small town water towers.

Webster County
Stumpy’s Finished Top 5 Tenderloins in the State of Iowa in 2016 – What, you don’t think I have that list memorized?

Webster County
Business Opportunity!

Webster County

Webster County

Webster County

Webster County
Stop… You had me at Charlie Brown. You had me at Charlie Brown.

Webster County
Badger, Iowa in case you were wondering.

Webster County
Whenever I hear people say God Bless America, I think of Rob Bell’s “Rich”.

Webster County
Also “Noon Specials”.

Webster County

Webster County
Insect sculptures? Yes please!

Webster County

Webster County

Webster County

Webster County

Webster County
Don’t you even think of invading Clare, Iowa!

Webster County
Best Wishes T & Morga!

Webster County

Webster County
Tell me there is a better mailbox in the world and I will call you a liar, straight to your face!

Webster County
The church where T & Morga tied the knot appears to be out of business.

Webster County

Webster County
Now this is what I call outreach! Too bad coffee sucks!

Teresa’s co-worker Eduardo gave us a couple tip on places to see in Webster County. Apparently Vincent and Badger are his old stomping grounds. It was his tip to visit the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park near Badger that lead to the discovery of those sweet, sweet insect sculptures.

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This is your reminder that this week’s THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE theme is USE OF SPACE:


WEEK 282 - USE OF SPACE
USE OF SPACE

USE OF SPACE is an important theme historically for THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE. It was the very first theme ever for THE WEEKY PHOTO CHALLLENGE. All the way back when Vest and I invented THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE in the build area of the Computer Mine. Back then it was called THE RANDOM WEEKLY PHOTO EXPERIMENT and the theme was determined each week by a program that Vest wrote. Back then we both received submissions and he also published submissions on his website.
Much has changed back then, and not just the name. While that little bit of history is fascinating, it doesn’t answer the question, what is a USE OF SPACE picture?

It is possibly a confusing theme on the surface, but couldn’t be simpler in reality. All you have to understand is that in an image, there are two types of “space”. Positive space and negative space.

Positive space is the area in the photo that attracts the viewer’s eye. It’s the main subject that commands attention in the composition.

Negative space is the space in the composition that is typically the background. It usually doesn’t attract very much attention. It is used to define or contour the positive space.

In the example, my hand is the positive space. The brick wall is the negative space. In a USE OF SPACE (or negative space) photo, the photographer uses the space that is usually not the primary focus and uses it to fill in most of the composition. The negative space commands more attention than the positive space and creates a unique perspective. It also adds definition and can create strong emotions.

The challenge of this week is to make an image that is mostly negative space.

It is a counterintuitive way to compose an image. The natural instinct is to fill most of the frame with positive space. But you can really ratchet up the emotional impact by putting more negative space in an image than you normally would.

Of course, there are other ways to define USE OF SPACE. You can meditate on this quote by Bob Dylan, while you think about how to compose your USE OF SPACE picture:

Gates appeal to me because of the negative space they allow. They can be closed but at the same time they allow the seasons and breezes to enter and flow. They can shut you out or shut you in. And in some ways there is no difference.

Meditate on these words while you thinking about how you are going to create your USE OF SPACE photo.

Happy photo harvesting!

Hamilton County Auxiliary Images

Today I’m sharing images I took while tooling around Hamilton County harvesting signs for THE TOWN SIGN PROJECT. There aren’t many of them because I actually had already harvested most Hamilton County town signs before this little road trip.


Hamilton County

Hamilton County

Hamilton County

Hamilton County

Hamilton County

Hamilton County

Hamilton County

Hamilton County
Might be wonder why I took this picture of this bench in Williams. It is because these people went to my church. I was surprised to see their name on a bench in another town.

Hamilton County

Hamilton County

Hamilton County

Hamilton County

Hamilton County

Hamilton County

There are a few more counties worth of auxiliary photos to share out there.

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This is your reminder that this week’s theme for THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is BLACK:


WEEK 281 - BLACK
BLACK

A BLACK image can be of all sorts of things. Things that are BLACK. Things that make you feel BLACK. Or it could be BLACK humor. Who knows, let your BLACKest imagination run wild!

I don’t have a movie quote for you to meditate on this week, instead I have song lyrics from Johnny Cash:

Well, you wonder why I always dress in black
Why you never see bright colors on my back
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone
Well, there’s a reason for the things that I have on

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down
Living in the hopeless, hungry side of town
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime
But is there because he’s a victim of the time

I wear the black for those who’ve never read
Or listened to the words that Jesus said
About the road to happiness through love and charity
Why, you’d think He’s talking straight to you and me

Well, we’re doing mighty fine, I do suppose
In our streak of lightning cars and fancy clothes
But just so we’re reminded of the ones who are held back
Up front there ought to be a man in black

I wear it for the sick and lonely old
For the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold
I wear the black in mourning for the lives that could have been
Each week we lose a hundred fine young men

And I wear it for the thousands who have died
Believing that the Lord was on their side
I wear it for another hundred thousand who have died
Believing that we all were on their side

Well, there’s things that never will be right I know
And things need changing everywhere you go
But ’til we start to make a move to make a few things right
You’ll never see me wear a suit of white

Ah, I’d love to wear a rainbow every day
And tell the world that everything’s okay
But I’ll try to carry off a little darkness on my back
‘Til things are brighter, I’m the Man In Black

Meditate on the words of the greatest country singer, while thinking about how to create your BLACK image.

Happy photo harvesting!

Loess Hills Road Trip

I’d like to just start with saying how completely impressed I was with Amanda Gorman, this nation’s first ever youth poet laureate and the poem she read at the inauguration on Wednesday. Wow! Goosebumps. I was one the people that rushed to Amazon and pre-ordered her book and made it the best selling book on Amazon. It doesn’t come out until September, so to tide myself over, I thought I would just put her inauguration poem down here, so I could find it and read it anytime I want:

THE HILL WE CLIMB

When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We’ve braved the belly of the beast
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

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Today I’m going to share what I would call auxiliary images from my road trip to the Loess Hills back in September. They are auxiliary because they were not taken at the Loess Hills and they also don’t fall into THE TOWN SIGNS PROJECT either. These are pictures I took on the way to the Loess Hills and on the way back.

I do want to start with a brief history lesson. It comes from a question I had to ask when I stopped at a historic marker on the trip. A historic marker honoring Merle Hay. I’m sure many of you have driven on Merle Hay’s road and shopped in his mall, but do you know who Merle Hay was?

I myself only knew that Merle Hay was a war hero of some kind, but I didn’t even know from what war and what he did. Take a look at this historic marker in the cemetery where he is buried:


Loess Hills Road Trip

When I saw this, I couldn’t figure out what was going on in the picture. So I researched it and while it is maybe obvious to some, I didn’t deduce that the guy carrying the fallen soldier was Uncle Sam. Carrying Merle Hay home.

So who was Merle Hay?

He was the first or one of the first Americans to die in WWI. Here is his story from the Wiki:

When the United States entered the First World War, Hay was young enough to avoid being drafted. With his father’s blessing, he voluntarily enlisted on May 9, 1917. He was among 8 men from Glidden who enlisted that day. They were first shipped to Fort Logan, Colorado, then to Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. He was assigned to the 16th Infantry Regiment. On 26 June 1917, the regiment disembarked the troop ships in St. Nazaire, France, as part of the 1st Infantry Division. By November 1917, he was assigned to Company F along with Corporal James Bethel Gresham and Private Thomas Enright. They were posted in the trenches near the French village of Artois. In the early morning of 3 November 1917, the Imperial German Army attacked. After an hour of fighting, Hay, along with Corporal Gresham, and Private Enright were the first three casualties of the American Expeditionary Force.

Two days later, on 5 Nov 1917, Enright, Gresham, and Hay were buried near the battlefield where they had died. An inscription marked their graves: “Here lie the first soldiers of the illustrious Republic of the United States who fell on French soil for justice and liberty.” Their bodies were eventually returned to their families and reburied in the United States. Hay was then re-interred in July 1921 in West Lawn Cemetery in his home town of Glidden, Iowa. The West Lawn Cemetery was later renamed the Merle Hay Memorial Cemetery. An 8-foot monument commissioned by the Iowa Legislature marks his gravesite.

Remember that story, the next time you are driving down Merle Hay Road in Des Moines.

Here are the rest of the Loess Road Trip auxiliary photos:


Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip
I can’t figure out if this is brilliant, sacrilegious, brilliantly sacrilegious, or sacrilegiously brilliant. Hopefully there is a theologian out there that can assist me.

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip
This sign confuses me so much. So very much.

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip
I love this tiny mailbox so much. I want to bundle it up and take it home with me, but of course that is a federal crime.

Loess Hills Road Trip
Birthplace of Merle Hay – Now you know where he started and where he ended.

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

Loess Hills Road Trip

I wish I would have gotten better pictures of the ghost town that is Carrollton, but it was just pouring down rain when I rolled through there. But I’m sure I’ll get there again some day.

Here is another history fact for you:

The first American military casualty in WWII was also from Iowa. Robert M. Losey was born in Andrew, Iowa. He was killed in a German bombardment of Norway on April 21, 1940. If you are doing the math, that is well before the United States entered the war.

Also semi-interesting fact. Andrew, Iowa is in Jackson county. Jackson County is named after racist piece of trash Andrew Jackson. Andrew is also named after racist piece of trash Andrew Jackson. Double fail for that town.

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This is your reminder that this week’s THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is HOBBIES:


WEEK 280 - HOBBIES
HOBBIES

HOBBIES can be all sorts of activities. Collecting things. Making things. Building things. Destroying things. So much, much more. Just remember the words of Norman Bates…

As you should know, the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic PSYCHO is tied for being my favorite movie of all-time. Think about the scene is PSYCHO where Marion Crane and Norman Bates are eating supper together in the backroom of the Bates Motel office, with all of the birds that Norman has stuffed.

INT. NORMAN’S PARLOR -(NIGHT)

In the darkened room, lit only by the light from the office spilling in, we see Norman placing the tray on a table. Mary comes to the doorway, pauses. Norman straightens up, goes to lamp, turns on the light.

Mary is startled by the room. Even in the dimness of one lamp, the strange, extraordinary nature of the room rushes
up at one. It is a room of birds. Stuffed birds, all over the room, on every available surface, one even clinging to
the old fashioned fringed shade of the lamp. The birds are of many varieties, beautiful, grand, horrible, preying. Mary
stares in awe and a certain fascinated horror.

CLOSE UP – THE VARIOUS BIRDS TWO SHOT – MARY AND NORMAN

NORMAN
Please sit down. On the sofa.

As Norman goes about spreading out the bread and ham and pouring the milk, we follow Mary across the room. She studies
the birds as she walks, briefly examines a bookcase stacked with books on the subject of “Taxidermy.”

CLOSE UP – THE BOOKS ON TAXIDERMY MED. CLOSE SHOT – MARY

She notices, too, the paintings on the wall; nudes, primarily, and many with a vaguely religious overtone.

Finally Mary reaches the sofa, sits down, looks at the spread.

MARY
You’re very… kind.

NORMAN
It’s all for you. I’m not hungry. Please go ahead.

Mary begins to eat, her attitude a bit tense. She takes up a small slice of ham, bites off a tiny bite, nibbles at it in the manner of one disturbed and preoccupied.

Norman gazes at her, at the tiny bite she has taken, smiles and then laughs.

NORMAN
You eat like a bird.

MARY
You’d know, of course.

NORMAN
Not really. I hear that expression, that one eats “like a bird,” is really
a falsie, I mean a falsity, because birds eat a tremendous lot.
(A pause, then explaining)
Oh, I don’t know anything about birds. My hobby is stuffing things…
taxidermy. And I guess I’d just rather stuff birds because… well, I hate
the look of beasts when they’re stuffed, foxes and chimps and all…
some people even stuff dogs and cats… but I can’t… I think only
birds look well stuffed because they’re rather… passive, to begin
with… most of them…

He trails off, his exuberance failing in the rushing return of his natural hesitancy and discomfort. Mary looks at him,
with some compression, smiles.

MARY
It’s a strange hobby. Curious, I mean.

NORMAN
Uncommon, too.

MARY
I imagine so.

NORMAN
It’s not as expensive as you’d think. Cheap, really. Needles, thread,
sawdust .. the chemicals are all that cost anything.
(He goes quiet, looks disturbed)

MARY
A man should have a hobby.

NORMAN
It’s more than a hobby… sometimes…
a hobby is supposed to pass the time, not fill it.

Happy photo harvesting!

WPC – WEEK 279 – COMMERCIAL

I need to start by noting that today is the day we honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.


Civil Rights Museum

I’d like to share a teaching on The Good Samaritan from the last speech that King ever gave as my small part of honoring his legacy today:

Let us develop a kind of dangerous unselfishness. One day a man came to Jesus, and he wanted to raise some questions about some vital matters of life. At points he wanted to trick Jesus, and show him that he knew a little more than Jesus knew and throw him off base…. Now that question could have easily ended up in a philosophical and theological debate. But Jesus immediately pulled that question from mid-air, and placed it on a dangerous curve between Jerusalem and Jericho. And he talked about a certain man, who fell among thieves. You remember that a Levite and a priest passed by on the other side.

They didn’t stop to help him. And finally a man of another race came by. He got down from his beast, decided not to be compassionate by proxy. But he got down with him, administered first aid, and helped the man in need. Jesus ended up saying, this was the good man, this was the great man, because he had the capacity to project the “I” into the “thou,” and to be concerned about his brother.

Now you know, we use our imagination a great deal to try to determine why the priest and the Levite didn’t stop. At times we say they were busy going to a church meeting, an ecclesiastical gathering, and they had to get on down to Jerusalem so they wouldn’t be late for their meeting. At other times we would speculate that there was a religious law that “One who was engaged in religious ceremonials was not to touch a human body twenty-four hours before the ceremony.” And every now and then we begin to wonder whether maybe they were not going down to Jerusalem — or down to Jericho, rather to organize a “Jericho Road Improvement Association.”

That’s a possibility. Maybe they felt that it was better to deal with the problem from the causal root, rather than to get bogged down with an individual effect.

But I’m going to tell you what my imagination tells me. It’s possible that those men were afraid. You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles — or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.”

And you know, it’s possible that the priest and the Levite looked over that man on the ground and wondered if the robbers were still around. Or it’s possible that they felt that the man on the ground was merely faking. And he was acting like he had been robbed and hurt, in order to seize them over there, lure them there for quick and easy seizure. And so the first question that the priest asked — the first question that the Levite asked was, “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But then the Good Samaritan came by. And he reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?”

That’s the question before you tonight. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to my job. Not, “If I stop to help the sanitation workers what will happen to all of the hours that I usually spend in my office every day and every week as a pastor?” The question is not, “If I stop to help this man in need, what will happen to me?” The question is, “If I do not stop to help the sanitation workers, what will happen to them?”
That’s the question.

In a time where we have white supremacist terrorists threatening our country, we should all heed the widsom of Martin Luther King Jr. and we should all strive for his calling of dangerous unselfishness.

And to honor the fact that the pastor at Martin Luther King Jr.’s church was just elected to the United States Senate. While the white supremacists throw a big shadow in this country, it is just a shadow. There are more of us, than there are of them. The election of Raphael Warnock is proof of that.

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I do want to point out that last week, in the chaos that was my 11 AM hour, I missed Cathie’s submission for FAMILY. I have corrected that error and it has since been added to last Monday’s journal entry. I encourage you to go to the website to see it. My apologies Cathie!

I was actually worried that this is the theme that would break the streak. I figured COMMERCIAL would be a tough nut to crack for many people. But we did it! For the 68th week in a row, we hit double digits!

But you didn’t come there to listen to me talk all tommyrot about participation rates. You came to see the submissions:


WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - KIM BARKER
Kim Barker

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - KIO DETTMAN
Kio Dettman

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - TAMARA PETERSON
Tamara Peterson

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - MICHELLE HAUPT
Michelle Haupt

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - CHRISTOPHER D. BENNETT
Christopher D. Bennett

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - CARLA STENSLAND
Carla Stensland

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - KIO DETTMAN
Kio Dettman

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - BECKY PARMELEE
Becky Parmelee

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - CATHIE RALEY
Cathie Raley

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - MICKY AUGUSTIN
Micky Augustin

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - DAWN KRAUSE
Dawn Krause

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - ANDY SHARP
Andy Sharp

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - ANDY SHARP
Andy Sharp

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - ANDY SHARP
Andy Sharp

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - ANDY SHARP
Andy Sharp

WEEK 279 - COMMERCIAL - SHANNON BARDOLE-FOLEY
Shannon Bardole-Foley

But enough dwelling on the past. Time to look to the future. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future! This week’s theme:


WEEK 280 - HOBBIES
HOBBIES

HOBBIES! Another great theme for Year 8 of THE WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE.

What defines a HOBBIES photo? HOBBIES are activities done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure. What do you do in your leisure time, regularly, for pleasure? What do your friends or family do regularly in their leisure time for pleasure. Take a picture of somebody that is engaged in their leisure time pleasure. Or take a picture of an item that is used for leisure time pleasure. We aren’t here to judge what people do for leisure time pleasure. We are just here to photograph what give somebody leisure time pleasure.

As you should know, the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic PSYCHO is tied for being my favorite movie of all-time. Think about the scene is PSYCHO where Marion Crane and Norman Bates are eating supper together in the backroom of the Bates Motel office, with all of the birds that Norman has stuffed.

INT. NORMAN’S PARLOR -(NIGHT)

In the darkened room, lit only by the light from the office spilling in, we see Norman placing the tray on a table. Mary comes to the doorway, pauses. Norman straightens up, goes to lamp, turns on the light.

Mary is startled by the room. Even in the dimness of one lamp, the strange, extraordinary nature of the room rushes
up at one. It is a room of birds. Stuffed birds, all over the room, on every available surface, one even clinging to
the old fashioned fringed shade of the lamp. The birds are of many varieties, beautiful, grand, horrible, preying. Mary
stares in awe and a certain fascinated horror.

CLOSE UP – THE VARIOUS BIRDS TWO SHOT – MARY AND NORMAN

NORMAN
Please sit down. On the sofa.

As Norman goes about spreading out the bread and ham and pouring the milk, we follow Mary across the room. She studies
the birds as she walks, briefly examines a bookcase stacked with books on the subject of “Taxidermy.”

CLOSE UP – THE BOOKS ON TAXIDERMY MED. CLOSE SHOT – MARY

She notices, too, the paintings on the wall; nudes, primarily, and many with a vaguely religious overtone.

Finally Mary reaches the sofa, sits down, looks at the spread.

MARY
You’re very… kind.

NORMAN
It’s all for you. I’m not hungry.
Please go ahead.

Mary begins to eat, her attitude a bit tense. She takes up a small slice of ham, bites off a tiny bite, nibbles at it in the manner of one disturbed and preoccupied.

Norman gazes at her, at the tiny bite she has taken, smiles and then laughs.

NORMAN
You eat like a bird.

MARY
You’d know, of course.

NORMAN
Not really. I hear that expression,
that one eats “like a bird,” is really
a falsie, I mean a falsity, because
birds eat a tremendous lot.
(A pause, then
explaining)
Oh, I don’t know anything about birds.
My hobby is stuffing things…
taxidermy. And I guess I’d just rather
stuff birds because… well, I hate
the look of beasts when they’re
stuffed, foxes and chimps and all…
some people even stuff dogs and
cats… but I can’t… I think only
birds look well stuffed because
they’re rather… passive, to begin
with… most of them…

He trails off, his exuberance failing in the rushing return of his natural hesitancy and discomfort. Mary looks at him,
with some compression, smiles.

MARY
It’s a strange hobby. Curious, I
mean.

NORMAN
Uncommon, too.

MARY
I imagine so.

NORMAN
It’s not as expensive as you’d think.
Cheap, really. Needles, thread,
sawdust .. the chemicals are all
that cost anything.
(He goes quiet, looks
disturbed)

MARY
A man should have a hobby.

NORMAN
It’s more than a hobby… sometimes…
a hobby is supposed to pass the time,
not fill it.

When you are preparing to take your HOBBIES photo, meditate on an activity that passes the time, but doesn’t fill it.

Then send me you submission(s) by 11 AM next Monday. Remember, while I might consider you FAMILY, the picture has to be taken between 12:01 PM today and 11 AM next Monday. This isn’t a curate your photos project. This is a get your butt off the couch (unless you are taking your picture from the couch) and take pictures challenge.

You can send your images to either bennett@photography139.com OR you may text them to my Pixel 5.

That is all I got, so if the good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise, we will all be sharing our idea of HOBBIES in this place that passes the time next Monday.