Loitering

20190706_145849 (2)

What appears to be just standing around without a purpose is a false premise. Actually, these King Penguins are discussing the weather. Upon exhausting that subject, they then contemplate taking a dive. Nothing like a cold swim on a cool day for these birds.

Although Penguins can’t fly they are prolific swimmers and divers. Their average foraging areas are seventeen miles from their home base. They can swim up to 6 miles per hour and have been known to dive anywhere from 200 feet to 1,000 feet. They can stay submerged for up to 9 minutes.

Not only do they swim, but they waddle walk and often ‘toboggan’, sliding along the snow on their bellies. While in the ocean, these birds ‘porpoise’ swim similar to the mammal the style is named after. This allows them to swim farther while breathing regularly.

Penquins are social creatures and live in large colonies. They are fascinating creatures, and handsome, too !

 

20190706_145810 (2)

Headless in Kansas City ! Look closely.

Porches

B & W Porches

If you could see the farthest porch, it is about twelve houses away from the vantage point where I took this image. These bungalow style ranch houses were built in the late 1920s to early 1930s. Aside from the exact arrangement of each porch in-line with the next for an entire block, the sizes and shapes of these homes were all very similar; the main differences being exterior accents. Each house had a shared driveway between the next home to get to the single car detached garages.

Life was quite a bit simpler in those days and incomes were modest, but comparable. These houses were considered the newest thing in home building as urban began its spread to suburban…hardly by today’s standards. There have been many changes over the years in neighborhoods such as this one. Once considered up and coming, they have been demoted to the lower income class.

The one thing that hasn’t changed are the porches. Back in the days when air conditioning wasn’t invented, people took to the porches to relax in the evenings and weekends, and there was a great deal of waving, swing rocking and talking with one another. Today, these porches still become places of fellowship, even with interior air conditioning. Sometimes the closeness can be disturbing depending on the neighbors, but for the most part these ninety year old porches serve the same purpose.

They create space for human interaction. The separation so prevalent today with suburban houses built further apart, where the vehicles are garaged and the cars pull in and out with the push of a button, neighbors may not be seen for weeks!

Perhaps we need more porches closer together. Grab a cold glass of iced tea, rock on the swing with a friend or family member and relax. Summer is just around the corner.

Water Bowl

 

This guy performs the kind act of pouring water from a bowl which gives life to this bird and other wildlife. He stops watering in the winter due to freezing, but he’s back at it when warmer weather returns.

Brawn, bowl and bird would have also been an appropriate title for this sculpture, except the word “water” would not have been included. Water is such a critical element to all that has life so I chose to include it.

Granite muscles and chiseled features delicately embrace the watering bowl that the creator had in mind when he or she sculpted this piece of art. I like the fact that it is not only an art piece placed in a flower garden, but has purpose beyond visual enjoyment. Water flowing from within this rock brings relief to soft creatures on the outside. There is no fear-only satisfaction.

I can easily see the correlation between God and this granite man, and people as the bird. We are welcomed into the garden. We are offered the satisfaction that our greatest needs will be met. And, we are told not to be fearful. It appears the bird understands this dynamic very well. I hope we all do, too.

 

East to West

IMG_0360

Tuesday morning, 0730, western Kansas City, cold and overcast.

Stepped outside to leave for business.  The eastern sky startled me. The western sky reassured me.

To see the sun begin to rise in the east and the moon begin to set in the west at the same time is fairly common, but rather special, too. One is so vibrant and the other so soft as it fades away due to the morning’s brilliance.

The cloud dynamic adds a dramatic element to the one, and a firm point of reference to the other…rather like some people do when we encounter them.

Had lunch with a friend of mine today. He is such an encouragement and always looks at each day as simply that…another day. If we screw up, we have another opportunity to do better (assuming we are given the chance). We both have struggled through serious depression about the same number of years and period in time, but he seems to have a firmer grip on what makes one tick and how to respond to the negative thoughts we all succumb to which affects our moods, doubts and self-images. I appreciate him so much.

Just look at the recent tragedies in Vegas and Texas. Talk about warped self-images. How sad for all concerned. In some way, all affected become victims. However, this post isn’t about those terrible incidents. It is more about beauty and awareness and life. It is about overcoming, too. It is meant to encourage instead of discourage. I see flags flying half-mast everywhere and know why, hence, the monologue about recent tragedies. Yet, the flags will fly at full-mast again. So should we after we falter from life’s harsh realities.

I know this statement may seem harsh and even naive to some, but such is not my intent. One never gets over tragedy…one must simply overcome it’s consequences which can be extremely difficult. I have personal experience with this reality. May these photos lift your souls as they did mine when I first witnessed these scenes early this morning.

 

IMG_0354

 

East to West…emerging to fading…repeating cycle everyday…redemption waiting.

 

IMG_0349

 

 

 

Thanks for the water, dude !

Sculpture with water basket (2)

This is Adam, one sculpture of two with the other being Eve, of course. These granite sculptures are located in Loose Park, a 74 acre swatch of beautiful land in the heart of Kansas City. Part of the park was used as confederate canon placement during the Battle of Westport during the Civil War. Just west of this fountain and herb garden is the Rose Garden which has 1.4 acres of 125 varieties of roses-first planted in 1939. Jacob Loose was a successful business man and philanthropist. After his death his wife, Ella, donated the land for this property in honor of her husband.

Cheryl and I visited this park two weekends ago. Unfortunately, a bit too early for half the roses to be in bloom, but wonderful, nevertheless. As we strolled to the herb garden and sculptures, I noticed two sparrows taking turns at bathing and drinking from this hand-held bowl of water. I only had my cell phone or I would have zoomed in for a closeup. However, the sight of these birds utilizing a man-made water source in a very serene setting really blessed me so I took this photo. Enjoy !

Overcoming

IMG_8990

 

To overcome any obstacle requires courage. We may not even be aware that this inner strength exists. Whether on the battlefield of war, fighting cancer, dealing with abuse or a host of other serious issues, at some point in our lives we will have an opportunity to overcome or be overcome. This is not an indictment of those who are overcome by something. None of us are Superman. It is simply a fact of life. Sometimes we are victors, and sometimes we are not. No judgement here. I am personally acquainted with both aspects of overcoming, yet I am not without hope.

 

IMG_8992

 

These wonderful sculptures are located within a fountain called the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain at a prominent point of the Country Club Plaza, a Kansas City landmark. They are spectacular. The artist who designed these is Henri-Leon Gerard, a Frenchman who was commissioned by a wealthy family in New York in 1910. Some years later the estate fell into disarray and the four bronze horses were sold. The Nichols’ family located these magnificent sculptures and had them shipped to Kansas City in 1957. There are four smaller fish-like sculptures which were added to the fountain which was officially dedicated in 1960, in honor of J.C., the visionary developer.

 

IMG_8996

 

To have such foresight as J.C. Nichols, who developed The Plaza in a Seville Spain motif in the 1920s, and the talent of Gerard simply astounds me. Kansas City is nicknamed The City of Fountains, and there are (48) city owned and maintained fountains within her city limits. This fountain (the most visited of all), and particularly these horses in full battle positions are a treasure. Because they reveal such intense conflict, the men and equines become one against their foes. These memorial sculptures tell a story far deeper than when casually viewed for the first time.

 

IMG_8989

 

No matter how determined one may be, to vanquish an oppressor takes more than courage and will…it takes help. Where does your help come from? For many, it comes from family and friends. For some, it comes from community. And for others, it comes from a force not easily identified, yet real to those who claim it. Depending on the circumstances, I have called upon all three of these helpers. Yet, there is always one unseen companion who stands by my side no matter what the obstacle. He has a name-Jesus-and through his spirit I am reminded that I am never alone in facing that which seeks to conquer me. I hope you have such a helper. And, I hope you visit this fountain and Kansas City some day!

 

IMG_8997