2020 seems determined to constantly outdo itself in terms of strangeness. The Saharan dust cloud that wafted over the Southeastern US at the end of June was its latest effort, triggering a slew of news stories about quality warnings and potentially vivid sunsets. When it arrived the dust coated the sky in a visible milky haze, subtle and dramatic all at the same time. It was indeed strange to pause in a strip mall parking lot and ponder that I was inhaling dust from Africa while running morning errands.
Summer’s may not officially start until tomorrow, but signs of it are already popping up along my neighborhood trail.
The heat and humidity of June has brought out the reptiles in my neighborhood (and the office!)
Around noon on Tuesday, it was announced that all bars would be closed, and restaurants would be limited to take out and delivery only. It was quite a subdued St. Patrick’s Day here in the Queen City. The next morning, Charlotte was shrouded in the thickest fog I’ve seen all year. Taking a morning walk, I couldn’t help noticing little hints of spring peeking through the gloom. Birds, greenery, and pink blooms could not be completely concealed. By noontime, the sun had chased the fog away.
Last month I got an infusion of creative inspiration at the Oddities and Curiosities Expo during it’s Charlotte stop. It was well worth it to pay a little extra for a VIP pass for early entry, and have some time to quietly browse all of the artists and vendors before the crowds. I only took some far away shots of the booths, and it’s generally considered a faux pas to take a close up of an artists work. There is one close up of everything I bought of course. The whole event was a nice reminder that there is a place for art of all kinds. I find myself getting a little discouraged during the submissions process when I see so many publications that don’t accept genre work, particularly horror (my favorite to write!) I just have to keep pushing forward, the right home for my work is out there somewhere!
Earlier this summer I braved thunderstorms to visit the Gamrath Glass exhibit at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. I love visiting all of their nighttime exhibits, and was particularly excited about this one. The event promised not only delicate glass flowers embedded amoung the garden, but carvious plants as well. And although all of the glass blooms were beautiful, it was extra fun to see delicate pitcher plants, Venus fly traps, and a monstrous corpse flower among all the usual greenery, Corpse flower Venus flytrap Lady slipper Pitcher plant Pitcher plant Phalaenopsis Pitcher plant Phalaenopsis
Usually when the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens hosts a special exhibit, visitors can expect to find something extra peaking out from all the greenery, like the Chinese Latern show I attended in 2017. But on my most recent visit I found myself in a small events room, surrounded by small folding tables. Lined up on each one were delicate, twisting bonsai trees cultivated by local gardeners. Each one came with a small card showing the type of tree, and how long it’s been “trained” by it’s owner. Training is the process of shaping the bonsai tree, primarily by pruning and then wrapping the branches in wire until they set in the desired shape. If you look closely, you can see wire wrapping some of the trees in my photo’s below. Some of the trees (like the one shown above) have been painstakingly cultivated for 30 years. I’m sure any writer with their own WIP can relate to the dedication and patience that would require! Hades Cypress, 20 years old, trained 15 years Crepe Murtle, 4 years old, trained one month …
Every month I post a list of events to look forward to; offbeat holidays, astronomy events, new movies, TV show, and book releases. My favorite item to research are the astronomy events. I’m always looking for something anyone can spot with the naked eye, no special equipment needed. I do look for the astronomy events that I list, and even manage to capture a few with my camera phone. One of my best shots is from last spring, a crescent moon aligned with Venus. I also caught a glimpse of earthshine, sunlight that is reflected off the earth onto the dark side of the moon, slightly illuminating it. You have the chance to see it any time the moon is in a crescent phase, but the best months to spot it are April and May. Although I didn’t quite capture it last night, I realized I had another photo where I did last winter, without even knowing quite what I was capturing. This is why I enjoy writing the Strange Events segment so much each …
I don’t remember playing with Legos much as a child, so I’ve never really understood the appeal of bins full of plastic bricks my nephew and other children collect. So when my husband suggested that we step into the Discovery Place’s Architectural Lego exhibit on a whim, I was a little skeptical. When we entered I was blown away. The exhibit featured detailed replicas of famous skyscrapers, including the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, and Willis Tower in Chicago. Some of the buildings created a skyline above a curved, lighted counter where visitors could construct their own Lego building to add to the exhibit. We took a seat and began designing our own skyscrapers. I gathered up gray bricks and windows to form a lair worthy of a bond villain. I envisioned the floor with blue windows as a tank that I could slowly drown my enemies in (giving James Bond plenty of time to escape!).
Earlier this year I attended a performance Matthew Bourne’s Cinderella, and it was fantastic. I have been a huge fan of Matthew Borne and his ballet company New Adventures since I saw their production of Sleeping Beauty on tour in 2013, and The Red Shoes in 2017. Matthew Bourne’s productions are known to feature avant-garde storylines, in the case of Cinderella, the fairy tale is set in London during WWII. The LA Times describes Bourne’s version as a “Valentine to the power of love,” but the real power behind the show is the darkness surrounding the central figures in the story. Sergei Prokofiev’s score was written during WWII, so setting the story in 1940’s London fits perfectly. The audience is dropped straight in the time period by the sounds of airplanes over head before the show starts, and a news real that opens the show reminds show goers and the actors on stage of the perils ordinary citizens faces during the time. Sounds of anti-aircraft fire and exploding shells pepper the score though out the film. Bourne …