March 2012

Moon Over Texas

31 Mar 2012
Posted by Ellen

The mountain moonscape of Terlingua, Texas, illuminated (ever so slightly) by the moon at noon.

Posted by Ellen

William Pinkerton, back in the day, hard at work at the dispatch desk at Bud Wood's taxi service in Rockland, Maine.

Deux Emiliennes

27 Mar 2012
Posted by Ellen

The woman in this picture, Emilienne, shown here in 1922 with her daughter, also named Emilienne, was a French war widow; her husband left for the army in 1914, when little Emilienne was an infant, and was killed in action in 1918, mort au champ d'honneur. 

Little Emilienne remained small all her life, less than five feet tall, but lived to be ninety-seven in Dieppe, France, where she ran a waterfront cafe for sailors. "She ignored the meaning of a word like wickedness," recalls her grandson. "When I was five years old at her cafe, that's where I first tasted Calvados. I miss her deeply."

Yellow House

26 Mar 2012
Posted by Ellen

Yellow House by Judith Schermer.

Tribes of Burma

24 Mar 2012
Posted by Ellen

In 1900, British artist C. C. Lewis published Tribes of Burma, a hand-painted volume of ethnographic images based on his travels in Southeast Asia. The people portrayed are said to be representative of Burma's dozens of ethnic groups, dressed in characteristic attire and engaged in ordinary daily activities. The family above are Lahu Na, from extreme eastern Burma near the Laotian border.

Below are three more of Lewis's plates: a Wa couple, from the Chinese border region; a Kwi family, from eastern Burma; and a Hkun couple, from the Sittaung River valley in south-centeral Burma.

Seeing Bottom

23 Mar 2012
Posted by Ellen

Last week, the Forest Lake homeowners' association in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, began siphoning the water out of Forest Lake, in hopes of revealing the debris that has collected in the lake since Tuscaloosa was devastated by a monster tornado eleven months ago.

The lake sits in the geographic center of Tuscaloosa and was near the center of the tornado track. Virtually all the surrounding houses were destroyed, along with the trees that gave the neighborhood its name.

Yesterday, when the water had dropped to the level seen in this photo, engineers were able to make preliminary estimates of the cost of debris removal: just under $300,000, about 30% less than anticipated. Even though the lake is privately owned by the homeowners' association, the taxpayers will be paying for cleanup; the city hopes to share the cost with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resrouces Conservation Service.

Urban Pioneers

22 Mar 2012
Posted by Ellen

Philadelphia is a city of brick row houses, block upon block, mile after mile. But this house on Lawrence Street in Northern Liberties looks a little different; for one thing, it's detached from all its neighbors, set back from the street in a large fenced yard. And for another thing, well, it's a log cabin. Two stories high, a citified height, but still, unquestionably, a log cabin.

It doesn't date back to the "real" log-cabin age, however. About a quarter-century ago, in the mid-1980s, an artist named Jeff Thomas put the cabin together from a load of logs trucked in from West Virginia; its stylistic allusion, we're told, is to the back-to-the-landers of the 1960s and early '70s. In the 1980s, Thomas and other artists then settling in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia were recolonizing a city landscape of abandoned factories, decrepit warehouses, vacant lots, and boarded-up, blighted homes. Their pioneering spirit, embodied in Thomas's house, succeeded only too well, and the cabin is now surrounded by renovated homes that cost way too much for a struggling artist.

Owl's Eye View

21 Mar 2012
Posted by Ellen

London at night.

Posted by Ellen

In hopes of fostering the development of medical science in Russia, Peter the Great scoured the West for natural history objects: taxidermy, live birds and insects, botanical and anatomical illustrations, and paraphernalia associated with monsters. Albertus Seba, a wealthy Dutch pharmacist and traveler, had amassed the largest natural history collection of the mid-18th century. Peter bought all of Seba's objects and library, including this book of colored zoological plates, and installed everything in St. Petersburg, where it became the nucleus of the Russian national collections.

The book is currently in the Spencer Research Library at the University of Kansas.

Stepping Out

18 Mar 2012
Posted by Ellen

I have it on very good authority that these princesses were on their way to the drug store.