Posted by Ellen

Runners lunge across the line in the 60-yard dash, 80-pound class. This race was won and lost on September 6, 1924, on the track in back of Central High School, Washington, D.C.

Posted by Ellen

In this photograph, taken in 1929, the visions of two men come together.

The subject of the portrait is Clayhorn Martin, a Harlem street preacher who had gone barefoot ever since the day in his youth when God told him to shed his shoes and walk on holy ground. Till the day he died, he walked the streets with his tambourine, shouting to the world that God dwells in every single person, not in church buildings or special dignitaries. 

Martin was a homeless man, a neighborhood character. In this formal studio portrait, photographer James Van Der Zee focused not so much on his outward condition as on his internal seriousness and faith. In other words, the scene he set for his camera aimed to take Preacher Martin at his word, seeking to show the higher purpose within him.

Martin had been born a slave in Virginia in 1851; he died homeless on the street in 1937. Van Der Zee and other artists of the Harlem Renaissance raised money to give him a proper sendoff, a funeral attended by five hundred or more of his neighbors, his flock.

Posted by Ellen

On the sidewalk in Antalya, Turkey.

Posted by Ellen

Ouija is the title that photographer Lucy Stamler gave this self-portrait. She's the girl on the left.

Lucy, a sixteen-year-old eleventh-grader at Toronto's Etobicoke School of the Arts, has at least three claims to fame. First, her photo won the gold medal in the international division of the annual Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. And second, we can proudly claim her as family: her Aunt Cecelia is our sister-in-law.

Finally–and we confess we do not get many opportunities these days to bring this up–this here blogger also won an award in this same competition, about forty-eleven years ago. We didn't get a gold medal, though, or even a silver medal; we won $25 and a ball point pen as some kind of a runner-up in the story-writing division.

So we have sort of a personal reason to be extra-extra proud of Lucy. And we also really like this thing of doing a selfie with your eyes closed.

Posted by Ellen

The year of earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, back in 2010 and 2011, left devastation that was still immediately obvious and widespread when we visited in December 2013.

Many ruined buildings were still propped up then, still awaiting demolition. Some repairs had been begun, some new construction was under way, but the city's main shopping district had been displaced into a new popup mall made out of shipping containers.

Christ Church Cathedral, shown here, once dominated the city's central square. As of this writing, no decision has yet been announced concerning whether to repair or replace or simply demolish what's left of the structure. The new popup Cardboard Cathedral a few blocks away has not officially been designated as a replacement. 

Posted by Ellen

St. Patrick's Cathedral from behind and a little bit above, in midtown Manhattan. We enjoyed this view from the window of our hotel room during a recent trip to New York.

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Inspecting the graham crackers in the supermarket aisle with Audrey Hepburn is Ip the fawn, one of her costars from the 1959 film Green Mansions.

There are at least two versions of the story about Hepburn and the fawn. In one, the fawn's trainer suggested she take Ip home and hang out with it for a while so that she and the animal would not be shy around each other in front of the camera.

The other story has it that Hepburn, who was said to be unhappily married and had recently experienced two miscarriages, sought the companionship of sweet little Ip and adopted the fawn as a pet.

Whichever, Hepburn and Ip are said to have been inseparable on and off the set during the filming of Green Mansions, which took several months. The movie bombed, however, and so, eventually, did Hepburn's marriage to its director, Mel Ferrer, though the two did not finally divorce till 1968.

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Posted by Ellen

For this fishy selfie, Al went to a fish spa in Singapore, where he soaked his feet in a tankful of Garra rufa, a species of toothless fish native to the Middle East that have long been used for medical and cosmetological purposes.

Garra rufa, sometimes called doctor fish, nibble away at dead skin to exfoliate people's feet. The nibbling is said to offer some temporary relief to people with certain skin conditions, including psoriasis. But mostly, people let the fish nibble on them as part of a pedicure, removing dry patches of dead cells and exposing fresh, new skin.

Al spent a week in Singapore recently as part of his work protecting the brick and mortar that surrounds the digital cloud. By coincidence, his New Zealand Aunt A. was in Singapore at the same time, and the two of them went together to get their feet nibbled.

Posted by Ellen

A surprise autumn cold snap attacked New Zealand's South Island this week, with deep snow burying the mountains and lighter snowfalls covering the ground at elevations as low as 100 meters above sea level. This scene was on the road between Mossburn and Te Anau, near New Zealand's southwestern coast.

According to MetService meteorologist Richard Finnie, the wintry storm was like a bit of June in April: "It's not an early winter," he said, "just an early taste of winter." The cold front was expected to sweep northward across the country and then give way to more normal fall conditions within a few days.

Posted by Ellen

This plexiglass Pontiac, from the very earliest days of plastics, was a big hit at the 1939 New York World's Fair; it is shown here doing its star turn in the General Motors pavilion at the 1940 International Columbian Exhibition in San Francisco.

In 2011, it was auctioned by Sotheby's for $308,000. It was still a working automobile at that time, though the plastic chassis (body by Fisher) obviously would not hold up under heavy use. The odometer reading was 86 miles.