Friday, May 31, 2024

Five Minute Friday :: Through

five minute friday through tucson hibiscus background
• Five Minute Friday :: Through Linkup

Churches that follow the lectionary read this scripture on Good Shepherd Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Easter:

The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
John 10:2

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
John 10:9

Door and gate are the same word in Greek. Gate better fits rural, agricultural life; a door may be more common to us, but how about gates at the entrance to our yards, to our apartment buildings? Back in bible times, cities had gates and walls! You may have visited European cities that still have a gate and wall fragments from medieval times. In any case, to get to the other side of the gate or the door, you must walk through it. Not around, not over, not under. Through.

We need to go through Jesus the door, the gate. Even with Jesus, you can't go over, around, or under. Go through Jesus and you'll be saved, safe, and whole because Jesus the door is the shepherd, the savior, who already has gone through to wait for us, to welcome us home to our pasture—or other settled place.

Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.
Genesis 12:1-4a

For what does the scripture say? Abraham believed God and it was reckoned (credited, counted) to him as righteousness.
Did you ever sing Rock My Soul at church camp, vacation bible school, or Sunday school?
Rock My Soul

Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham,
Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham,
Rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham,
Oh, rock my soul.

Too high, can't get over it
Too wide, can't get round it
Too deep, can't get under it
Gotta go through the door.
You can see through the type on my header because I used a layer style that…lets you see what's behind, though at the cost of the text itself being a little harder to read.

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five minute friday through
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Desert Dance

Desert Dance by Charlotte Armajo and Teri Sloat on Amazon

desert dance cover
This is early October (when I first blogged and reviewed this on Preservation Project), and we recently experienced another full Harvest Moon like the one in Desert Dance. In colorfully subtle tertiary hues, Teri Sloat illustrates lizards, wild hares, rattlesnakes, sage hens, wolves, and roadrunners dancing under a bright moon as it illuminates the Southwestern USA desert. This mostly is a picture book of seven 2-page spreads, a title page and a closing page—the enchanting art totally makes the book sing! Not that Charlotte Armajo's simple text that includes a lot of repeated words almost any preschooler or early-grader would understand isn't well-done and appropriate, it just doesn't contain a whole lot of substance or imagination, so 4 stars total.

• my amazon review: desert dancing

Drawing and Reinventing Landscape

Drawing and Reinventing Landscape Cover
Drawing and Reinventing Landscape, AD Primer on Amazon

It's wonderful having a multitude of full-colour illustrations of mostly non-computerized graphic landscape representations of many types – photographs, pencil drawings, ink and watercolour renderings, charts – in this book; details regarding history and current status of landscape architecture and garden design are interesting and illuminating, as well.

I chose Drawing and Reinventing Landscape because of my lifelong interest in cities and in the process of urbanization, and because of my current work as a graphic artist and designer. Author Diana Balmori has worked in the field of landscape architecture most of her life; her well-deserved degree of renown makes her expertise and perspective especially insightful and valuable.

However, I've removed a star because the text is too tiny for comfort, and its size adds an unattractive sense of miniaturization to the book. In natural light or with reading glasses I can read it easily enough, but a little less information – or the same information expressed more succinctly – would greatly increase the visual appeal. I assume all books in this AD Primer series carry the same general format, but related to my remarks about point size of text, if the publishers were not going to produce this book or the series in a larger format (not necessarily coffee-table size), I'd recommend increasing the font size. But happily, there's still enough literal "white space" on each page for create an altogether pleasing presentation.

• My Amazon review: landscape representation and history

The Tumbleweed Society

• Allison Pugh, The Tumbleweed Society: Working and Caring in an Age of Insecurity on Amazon

The Tumbleweed Society cover

When I originally blogged and reviewed this book almost ten years ago in December 2014 on Preservation Project, I concluded:
I'd love to read a similar report about a similar population cohort about ten years from now. I also wonder where I'll be working, where you'll be working, if housing and employment will have settled down and stabilized? Or not?
Is that crazy, prophetic, prescient, or what?

Needless to say, the plant-people tumbleweed analogy won't parallel perfectly, but it's a colorfully useful image. Living in the southwest, I've seen lots of tumbleweeds, but still needed to learn a little about them. Via wikipedia, here are a few facts:

"A tumbleweed is a structural part of the above-ground anatomy of any of a number of species of plants, a diaspore that, once it is mature and dry, detaches from its root or stem, and tumbles away in the wind. ... Tumbleweed species occur most commonly in steppe and arid ecologies, where frequent wind and the open environment permit rolling without prohibitive obstruction ... Many tumbleweeds are ruderal species, opportunistic agricultural weeds."

Sociology sometimes is a quantifiable soft-scientific discipline that studies, analyzes, charts, and plots. At other times sociologists report in a more essayistic manner, using prose to describe their findings, as Allison Pugh does in The Tumbleweed Society. Our lives are about story, our lives becomes stories, and sometimes a narrative approach like this book uses lines out the truth a lot more clearly than charts, graphs, stats, and percentages do. Given the true employment insecurities many of us already have experienced, and every single one of us knows is out there, no wonder I found this book so interesting! Allison Pugh's writing flows well, without any annoying mannerisms, though I need to comment on what feels like her frequent use of "eschew" and its variants. Who on earth says "eschew"?

Pugh's and her colleagues' one-on-one interviews of and observations about eighty individuals demonstrate that these days job retention and change is mostly related to socioeconomic class, rather than being as ethnicity- or gender-driven as job and career opps were in times past. So we find high employment mobility and high residential relocation rates amongst those with high-end, elite level skills who tend to be sought out, sought after, and routinely draw high income levels. We also find high employment mobility and high residential relocation rates amongst those with approximately high school level schooling and skills.

But The Tumbleweed Society experiences not only "Working," but also "Caring in an Age of Insecurity," as the subtitle describes. Briefly, it seems as if a lot of people are okay with companies they work for having only nominal commitment to their workers' lives while the workers do their best by the company. On the other hand, we find truly dramatic, impressive instances of individuals maintaining "no matter what" commitments to family (parents, offspring, sibling) and significant others.

I'd love to read a similar report about a similar population cohort about ten years from now. I also wonder where I'll be working, where you'll be working, if housing and employment will have settled down and stabilized? Or not?

• my Amazon review: a book almost everyone can relate to

Daily Greens

• On Amazon, Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse: Jump Start Your Health, Reset Your Energy, and Look and Feel Better than Ever! by Shauna Martin, with foreword by Mayim Hoya Bialik

Daily Greens book cover

I'm delighted I decided to read the book description and a couple of reviews before deciding this book wasn't for me, which almost happened because of the "Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse" title. I've heard of various fasts and cleansings, but never undertaken either, but then when I realized author Shauna Martin included recipes for smoothies, salads, and a few other dishes, I figured Daily Greens would be useful and helpful in any case. I especially appreciate the first part of the book where Shauna (whose diet is completely plant-based) explains some of the rationale behind cleansings and fasts. Interesting stuff, as are her lively descriptions of various mostly green super-foods such as the currently super-popular kale, the eternally green fave spinach, (not really green) ginger root, watercress, dandelion greens, cilantro, etc.

This is about wisely eating seasonally, which means expending fewer $$$ while enjoying better tasting, more local, frequently organic, healthier fruits and veggies. All the recipes are simple, which adds to the book's appeal and utility. There also are several categorized shopping lists and an index.

A lot of the full-color photography, the text, and page design conveys a verdant, green, growing, and alive sensibility! Besides greens of differing hues and intensities in the layout and design, some of the backgrounds are a lovely, appealing cantaloupe color. Gorgeous full-page photos, lovely smaller pics, too. As a graphic artist-designer and as a reader, I appreciate the open layout of the pages with lots of literal "white space" so it's not cluttered like a pennysaver ad. I also like that the hardbound book stays open on its own. However, as interesting and almost essential as the descriptions and commentary are, given that recipes are the main thing, why not format ingredients and how-to instructions in a larger font that's easy for anyone to read? Even the introductory text to each recipe is in larger type than the recipes themselves!

Despite those reservations, I'm happy to own a copy of Daily Greens, with so many literally good enough to eat photographs, and especially knowing the recipes and ideas will entice me to shop and try some of Shauna Martin's smoothies and other creations.

• My Amazon review: greens & other earthly goodies

The New Shingled House

The New Shingled House: Ike Kligerman Barkley on Amazon

the new shingled house book coverArchitects John Ike, Thomas A. Kligerman, and Joel Barkley have been partners for twenty-five years.

I'm a graphic designer with an interest in houses, a theologian with a passion for their homemaking implications, so I ordered The New Shingled House―thanks, Amazon Vine! I've long majorly been about The City and Cities, too, and this book enhances my collection of quality printed urban books and city literature. However, the fourteen dwelling places in The New Shingled House are all around everywhere across the vast expanse of the continental USA, and not exclusively in cities. To cite the book description, "the shingled house can suggest the beach, the countryside, the mountains, and even the city."

The 10.3" x 12.3" format, (physically very) heavyweight book is packed full of full-color, mostly full page photographs of interiors and exteriors. It also provides descriptions, commentary, and floor plans. The grand scale of these places impresses me, but possibly part of that impression comes from the perspective of the photographer's camera? The often subtle, usually understated natural colors, materials and textures in every design and production detail of these houses is my idea of elegance! These are models I'd love to draw on and change around to the needs of my own environment.

From any viewpoint, what a wonderfully inspiring resource for designing your own rooms, offices, studios, or almost any work place or living space. Summing up this book and the houses in the book? Fabulous, simply fabulous!

• my amazon review: stunning, opulent, brilliant

Using Feng shui

Using Feng Shui: Easy Ways to Use the Ancient Chinese Art of Placement for Happiness and Prosperity, by Antonia Beattie

What a delight! As a feng shui novice yet amateur in the true sense of the word, I knew some room and space arrangements felt good and produced healthy living but usually wasn't exactly sure how.
Using Feng shui book cover

It is wonderful to find various topics such as life aspirations, colors, grids, mirrors, shapes and doors in easy to access format. There's a feng shui lifestyle and yes, I definitely want and need to add that to my repertoire. The feng shui lifestyle section begins with a check like of Imbalances, Symptoms, Cures along with corresponding pages in the book where you might be able to find solutions.

I especially appreciate the book's square shape, the binding on the hardcover version that lets it easily stay open and the open page layout along with a natural color palette. I love this book and hope you'll find it useful in helping increase the feng shui of all your places: home, yard, garden, work, school and recreational.

• my amazon review: a beautiful, balanced layout for a beautiful, balanced life

Salads for Every Season

Salads for Every Season: 25 Recipes from Earthbound Farm on Amazon

salads for every season cover
I was delighted to get this short ebook for free, though it's totally worth the current $1.99 price (reduced from $2.99). I love salads, so maybe I'm a tad prejudiced?! In terms of size, shorter often is better than longer when it comes to choosing a recipe. Author Myra Goodman of Earthbound Farm reminds us salads "redefine fast food," and gives us a dozen reasons for going organic.

Useful guides and instructions include: "A Field Guide to Salad Greens" with descriptions and pictures; a chart of how much to buy and how much to allow per person for side salad or main-course salad; how to grow sprouts, roast sunflower seeds, toast nuts and seeds in oven, microwave, stovetop; how to blanch fruits and veggies; how to seed and peel a tomato...

You easily could scroll through the varieties of flavors, colors, textures, and tangs in Salad for Every Season to find something that fits the ingredients on hand, or you could vary any basic recipe to your own taste. A reader recommendation? I'd especially like to try some of the vinaigrette variations. Besides Salads and Salad Dressing divided into Spring and Summer / Fall and Winter sections, beautiful full-color photographs are worthy of a book you'll love to have on your bookshelf and hold in your hands.

nice variety! my Amazon review

The City as a Tangled Bank

The City As A Tangled Bank: Urban Design versus Urban Evolution – AD primer (Architectural Design Primer)

City as a Tangled Bank book cover
The City as a Tangled Bank has taken a permanent place in my growing cities-related library! Terry Farrell, principal of Farrells architect-planners (London, Hong Kong, and Shanghai) brings perspective and wisdom of the kind only a long life of experience and observation can provide! The subtitle implies somewhat of a contest between planning imposed from "outside and above," and growth that occurs from "inside and below" urban space and place, but that expresses it too simply. Along with intro and conclusion, throughout the nine chapters, we learn about the truly endless organic process of letting the city (any city―ancient, young, or in-between) itself show and guide you into what needs to happen for its health and growth―similar to Kevin Lynch's legible city: a city you can read.

Tangled Bank in the title, Evolution in the subtitle both refer to Darwin's Origin of Species. Sir Terry celebrates connecting, communicating, time, layering, adaptation, emergence, and conversion in any urban growth and development process. The author is no fan of Big Architecture, not enthusiastic about Mies, Corbu, et al. After all, that's the type of inorganic, imposed-from without style he decries and dislikes, because it does not spring up from within the urban organism, and is a product of human initiative rather than of the city itself as place-maker―at one point he describes "place as client." If the results are visually attractive, why is that so terrible? Because it does not result in a humanly livable habitat or surroundings.

The bibliography truly is brief, listing five books in the Emergence and Evolution category, a dozen in Urban Design and Architecture, although each chapter includes detailed endnotes. With some in black and white, others full-colour, the many many drawings, photographs, sketches, and maps (with a heavy emphasis on London) enhance the book's clarity and usefulness, helping make it a visual delight. However, I wish the basic text had been printed in a larger type size, and that goes double or triple for the microscopic end notes. Also, physical weight and dimensions make it a nice size to heft. This is not a school textbook or a how-to handbook, so please don't assess it in those terms!

• my amazon review: helping cities become themselves

Santa Fe Style

Santa Fe Style by Christine Mather and Sharon Woods, © 1993 on Amazon

Santa Fe Style book cover

Solid, handsome, chunky and hard-bound, in pictures and in words Santa Fe Style details New Mexico's capital city's history, legacy, and currents. Including both full-colour and Black-and-White photographs makes a nice visual mix—as well as keeping production costs down to make a more affordable book. Sources at the end include Lifestyle, Wearable Art, Resources, native Materials, "Santa Fe Elsewhere," ("elsewhere" meaning in different states of the USA), and an index. It's ©1993, and very recently I got my close to perfect copy for a fairly good price at the library book sale, so look around if this interests you.

my amazon review: beauty-filled collection

Complete Children's Cookbook

Complete Children's Cookbook by DK on Amazon

sunflower loaves

tomato soup

mint chocolate pots

four ways with kebabs
Complete Kids' Cookbook cover
You know there's no such thing as a Complete Cookbook – or a complete any kind of book – yet in 304 pages, this attractive, hefty hardbound book provides over 150 not difficult, easy to follow (for almost any age from about third grade on up) recipes for standard North American favourite dishes in nine categories. Happily, this Complete Children's Cookbook from DK, a Penguin / Random House imprint, includes some vegetarian options. Every single photograph is in vivid full-colour; for the most part, you get a full page photograph of the dish on one side of the page, smaller pics with detailed preparation, cooking, and serving instructions on the opposite page. This cooking book also is fabulous for time- and imagination-challenged grownups who keep hearing or telling themselves, "make something tasty! quick!" You can discover and create something tasty quickly that's not obscure, exotic, pretentious, or requiring impossible to find ingredients. Too bad the gorgeous pics aren't edible!

Following the steps to fix each dish is easy, though I wish they'd formatted details of the numbered procedure or "method" in larger type for younger kids or for oldsters looking over the shoulders of youngsters to help them. As a graphic designer I love Love LOVE the page layout and book design, but I'd very much like easier to read page numbers. I truly get how fun it is to enclose pagination within a fun design, but please either make it larger, or leave the typeface the same basic size but leave it plain and clearly readable. Human (and food, too, I assume) models are from Capel Manor College in Enfield, Middlesex, UK.

my amazon review: beautiful and practical

Coal Wars

By Richard Martin, Coal Wars: The Future of Energy and the Fate of the Planet

Coal Wars book cover

With a journalist's passion for accuracy, a lover's ardor for the earth, Richard Martin has written a book I needed to read. My late grandfather was a Pennsylvania coal miner, and despite my own currents being worlds removed from that one, I try to stay current on the industry. From page 7: "This is not a book of policy ... nor a polemic on the evils of coal. It's a narrative of the front lines. Crafted as a series of journeys..." The author then explains war metaphors typically are overstatements and "detract from the horrors of real war," but clearly he considers the global situation regarding coal an exception, and a horror unto itself. The Future of Energy and the Fate of the Planet also acknowledges coal has fueled countless true global advances over the centuries.

Wars are about empire, land, violence, lots of losers, immeasurable loss that often can't be reclaimed, and sometimes even a distinctive true winner. We've been hearing a lot about environmental stewardship and about climate change. Coal reserves are not sustainable at the current level of extraction, and this fragile planet will not survive the death-dealing excesses of Big Coal and Big Consumption.

First section, "The Death Spiral" provides an overview of the Tennessee Valley Authority's history, along with information about the rise and decline of coal-driven industry, culture, and lifestyle in the Appalachian states of Kentucky and West Virginia. Part II, "The Surge" portrays mining's success in the western states of Wyoming and Colorado. Absolutely everyone knows about the lack of environmental controls that have led to inordinate levels of toxic pollution in China—Part III, "The Great Migration" tells fascinating stories about some of the industrial players and their human reps, about a few of the "regular people" who've literally donated their lives to big coal in China. Vignettes about Ohio and an epilogue about the Ruhr comprise the final "Dinosaurs" portion of Coal Wars. Not surprisingly, Peabody Energy pervades the pages of Coal Wars, but I felt I had to mention it.

Amazon Vine sent me an unfinished Advance Reader's Edition. Richard Martin paints many pictures with his words, though I don't know if the final edition will include charts, drawings, sketches, and photographs that with the surge of online resources probably are not very necessary these days, but my copy does include helpful endnotes, and apparently the final edition will have an index.

my amazon review: for the life of planet earth

Prodigal Father Wayward Son

prodigal father, wayward son cover Because I remembered noticing and loving the title of Sam Keen's "To A Dancing God" in a church library somewhere, and from the brief description of these conversations between father and son, I had to read Prodigal Father/Wayward Son: A Roadmap to Reconciliation. John Bradshaw observed, "This universal and archetypal [conflict] is the inheritance of us all." We've all got parent stuff, there are countless unknown to us events and factors in their histories; just as no one instinctively knows how to make a marriage or any other relationship work out well, no one truly knows how to parent, even if they already have several kids.

I've watched public television only very sporadically, doubtless missing out on a lot of cool exciting stuff, so I wasn't really familiar with Sam Keen. So surprised to discover he'd been a professor at The Louisville Seminary! How telling his description of the seminary professors way back then all dressed up in suits and ties (with nowhere to go), so incredibly business-financial sector establishment in style, yet called to articulate and convey the radically counter-cultural subversive gospel.

Another reviewer described this father/son – parent/offspring conversation as timeless, and that it is. Both guys are intelligent, educated, excellent writers, and had reached the point they wanted to live reconciled and reconnected to each other, but even if someone's credentials aren't as strong as theirs, Sam's and Gifford's experience models "what might be possible" between any family members at almost any stage, and between friends who might have become estranged (though "estranged" isn't quite the accurate word to describe Father and Son Keen's situation). Look through the panoramas of your own relationships, and like the Keens, you well may note how small, fleeting events or incidents have assumed gigantically symbolic proportions in your overview of your lives together and apart from each other.

Even if you don't buy the book, please watch the video on Gifford's amazon page. Prodigal Father, Wayward Son is a keeper for my bookshelves, and probably a loaner, too.

my amazon review: a keeper and a loaner

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Turtle Bay Collage 02

Turtle Bay Aollage
This is also from a black and white photograph, though the original collage is/was color-full. For production details, notes from Black & White Collage 01 apply equally to this one.

Black & White Collage 01

black and white collage wide
For both this collage and the next one, I began by scanning in 24-bit color the original black and white photo of a mainly magazine, greeting card, and related ephemera cut-and-paste collage. Then I tweaked the perspective to something close to the way the original presented on the wall, applied a sharpen filter (1x) and then adjusted curves, shadows and highlights. After changing image color to black I desaturated the colors rather than converting back to grayscale.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Five Minute Friday :: Finally

pink fuchsias
Five Minute Friday :: Finally Linkup

Winter bare trees
Will turn spring green
Tides return to the lone bare shore
Cocoons give butterflies
For tomorrow

Do I believe all that? Do I trust any of it?

We often apply terminology related to God's natural creation to our own lives, to our journeys in faith. Both consist of diverses elements; both of them ebb and flow, apparently decline and suddenly grow. Just as for too many people, it's been a very long haul for me. Excuses? Reasons? The Great Recession (financial, banking, insurance, mortgage, economic, etc. crisis) of 2008 and thereabouts helped not at all; internet growth caused negative growth for jobs that didn't require in-house presence and supervision—thus the design opps I'd been getting via a temp agency evaporated, and though it's been fun to have clients from everywhere through crowd sourcing websites, "it's not the same" and it's relatively slim pickings. And, of course, Covid.

Like the rest of humanity, I pretty much always knew life literally can hold onto stinging disappointments and losses. "Hold onto" has become the operative phrase for those of us who know nature abhors a vacuum (modern science says Aristotle was wrong, but for blogging purposes let's call him right), and we usually need something reasonably to replace whatever we've lost before we truly can acknowledge it's gone and then finally let go. Let go as in aphesis, or forgive the past.

Like you, I'm still it all for the long haul, yet as spring leaves deepen toward hints of summer, it looks as if I have a couple of guest preaching gigs in June. They emailed me the compensation/honorarium amount and needed my street address for calculating mileage, so doesn't that look good to go? And I'm designing a preliminary flyer I trust will solicit participants so I can get funding for some recreational art classes through a ministry and mission initiative one of the very large churches in the area is offering.

Am I saying winter branches are greening and tides finally are signaling another day? Maybe.

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