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Archive for October, 2012

BLAHHHHH!!!!…did I scare you?  Welcome to another Halloween adventure from the Falls of the Ohio.  Today, I have a special treat in mind for you.  My name is Jack Blue and I will be your guide for the next five minutes.

If I didn’t scare you perhaps I fooled you?  No need to be alarmed, my Belly Face has eaten recently.  You should be safe while I show you around the local Halloween sights.  Foremost in mind is the special Shrouded Forest that magically appears at exactly this time every year.  It is weirdly beautiful especially if there is a slight breeze present to animate the spirits that occupy the branches.  Most of them are plastic ghosts that have either floated here via a swollen Ohio River or drifted in with the wind.  Here’s what I mean.

The degrading plastic lends such a festive touch to this area.  As the polymer bonds separate and the plastic starts to disintegrate it hangs in decorative shrouds from the willow branches it graces.  You can walk from tree to tree and admire these spectral creations of man and nature.

All this “magic” is the result of benign neglect.  Whoever discarded this waste plastic sheeting probably wasn’t thinking it would wind up here draped in the trees like artificial Spanish moss.  In case you were wondering…it also comes in different colors.  Here are two other popular hues for your viewing pleasure and a special “snaky” surprise that might have you needing a doctor!

Okay, maybe this isn’t much of a snake, but if you were walking among the trees and looked up at some point…you probably wouldn’t anticipate seeing this?  And now for the “Doctor”…hmm, I don’t think he will be doing anyone any good any time soon!  Kind of looks like he could use a doctor himself.

Somehow I missed this bear when I did my earlier post on plush toys.  He’s been laying under this willow tree for months now and I just happened upon him! Just in time for Halloween!

The truth is one doesn’t need to travel far these days to find a patch of ground not “haunted” by something that doesn’t belong in the environment.  I hope all of you out there have a fun and safe Halloween and please discard all your trash in a responsible way.  Otherwise, my Face Belly may develop an appetite for you…trick or treat?

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Beloved, once again I evoke you from this beautiful water world I have discovered.  Repairs to my ship go slowly, but progress is being made.  Because of the uniqueness of this world and its potential importance to Styrosia, I continue to venture forth from my hiding places to discover what other life forms call this planet their home.  I continue to monitor the “bipedal humanoids” learning what I can from translating aspects of their culture using our technology.  The humanoids are unpredictable and possess enough data to be dangerous.  They are best seen and experienced from a distance. What I have also observed is that the humanoids have a great curiosity about their own world.  They are constantly engaging in explorations of discovery and seem to exhibit a need to know how the universe functions.  The irony here is that while they express concern for life at large, they are also systematically working to undermine the very conditions necessary to preserve and promote as much diversity of life as possible.  Every day life forms become extinct before they are even formally acknowledged as existing by their sciences.  This is a great topic, perhaps one for a future communication?  Today, however, I want to transmit a few images of interest to amuse and delight you from this alien world.  I would like to begin with an unusual characteristic that is exhibited in the local rocks and has been revealed through water’s ability to dissolve and shape the chemistry around it.

The appearance and proliferation of life on this planet is its most outstanding feature.  No where else in the explored universe can rival this world for the sheer variety and numbers of life forms that have uniquely evolved here.  At my current location are the preserved remains of life forms in calcium carbonate rocks of marine organisms that originated more than 350 million years a go.  Ancient as this is, the history of life is traceable to more than 2 billion years a go.  The humanoid scientists measure one year as being the amount of time it takes their planet to make one complete revolution around its star.  I believe it is correct to assume that life began in the ancient waters or “primordial soup” as the humanoids envision it.  Life and this planet have grown up together and each has influenced the other.  This planet is far from static and its oceans and land masses have shifted across the globe over deep time.  Today, humanoids travel great distances to peer at these local rocks.  What are they ultimately looking for in this ancient coral reef?  My hypothesis is that the humanoids are drawn to seeking a feeling of connection to the history of life on their own home world.  There is something in their behaviors that also suggests that they are mystified by the phenomena of their own existence.

While the humanoids look for the proof of their connectivity to the history of life on their planet, many other interesting forms don’t question this and simply “be”. I have especially grown fond of the sessile life forms that have decided to flourish in the spots most favorable to them.  Once a year, these stationary forms decide to  climax in an electromagnetic spectrum display that is pleasing to the eye.  I have decided to take as many self images in the company of these “flowers and plants” during this “flowering” using my self as a measure of scale.

Many of these “flowers” participate in symbiotic relationships often with very diverse and contrasting species.  This particular sessile life form attracts flying animals that feature exoskeletons.  The flowers provide nourishment for these animals and the plant finds an agent to move its genetic material from itself to others of its own kind.  I have observed more of these smaller, exoskeleton-bearing creatures than all the other animals combined and they would make a rich field of enquiry that could occupy the careers of many Styrosian scientists.  Here is a different example of such an animal.

This is what the humanoids call a Mourning Cloak butterfly and I observed it warming itself in the star light.  It’s reverse coloring is cryptic and resembles a dried plant bio-solar panel.  Its mouth parts have been adapted over time to make a tube that can easily extract sugary liquids produced by the plants that these butterflies favor.  There is an exchange of services that benefits both life forms involved in this process.  Other flying animals with a very different morphology also inhabit this space.  Here is a sequence of images from what the humanoid data base refers to as a Black-throated Green Warbler looking for “insects” among the “willow trees”.  Their movements are quick and this species is just traveling through on its way to a warmer environment in the southern latitudes of this world.

These animate life forms are called “birds” and have internal skeletons made of a lightweight material.  They also have an unusual outer covering that gets shed once a year and helps these animals to fly.  Here is a different and much larger bird I came across feeding at the water’s edge.

From the streaked markings and lighter coloring I identified that this is a juvenile Green-backed Heron.  I disturbed its hunting and feeding along the water’s edge.  Observe that it has a crest on its head which it uses to register increased alarm.  In the next moment, the heron jumped into the sky and with a few quick wing beats was gone from view.  My love, I think you will enjoy the sessile life forms as much as I do!  The humanoids refer to them as either “flowers” or “weeds” and they don’t try to escape if you express interest in examining one like the animate life forms do.  Following is a small portfolio of self-images and some of the variety in these self-sufficient life forms I have experienced on a single solar day.

I have noticed that the humanoids have reserved some animosity towards the sessile life forms that they refer to as “weeds”.  To my sense organs, I can not tell the difference between preferred species and the ones considered to be undesirable?  If one quality of a “weed” is its ability to thrive in a variety of conditions…one would think that the humanoids would admire this since this is a quality they share with “weeds”!  This is certainly a planet of mysteries and contradictions and how I wish you were here to experience it with me.  I have observed that the photons emitting from the local star are traveling farther to reach me with each day.  The temperatures have also been getting cooler and the sessile life forms are undergoing changes to the cellular solar panels which are turning color themselves and in some cases falling off the main body of the life form.  There is a frenzy among the smaller exoskeleton animals to gather as much  energy from each plant as possible.  I’m predicting that this world will go into a dormant period before re-emerging in the warmth of a new solar year.  It is also now time for me to end transmissions for the moment.  How I hope you and my fellow Styrosians are receiving them? Finally, I will conclude with two images.  One is a self-image of me in front of small white and yellow “weeds”.  The last image features some of the flying exoskeleton animals attracted to this plant.  Until its time for my next communication…good by from the water world.

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My beloved…I still live!  I hope my repair to my communication transmitter has been successful and that you and our fellow Styrosians so far away across the universe will receive this message and know that I still exist.  While exploring a little known solar system my ship was damaged in a collision with undetected fragments of space debris in orbit surrounding a smallish, blue-green planet.  This planet is the third nearest to its star. This solar system is comprised of eight other planets of varying dimensions and densities.  Damage to my guidance system made controlling my craft difficult and I entered the atmosphere of this planet like a meteor across the sky.  Fortunately, I arrived without attracting attention and I was able to affect a safe landing.  My craft, however, will need much maintenance. Hopefully, the coordinates of my position reached you before I entered this planet’s dense gaseous atmosphere? Here is an image of my vehicle which I call home and its contents are a dear reminder of the world from which I originated.  So often I have thought of you and wondered if we will ever see each other again?

I have so much to tell my fellow Styrosians that I hardly know where to begin.  Duty compels me to start with a report concerning my original mission.  I have crashed on a beautiful planet where the majority of its surface is covered by that most precious combination of hydrogen and oxygen.  I am so excited to have found water in abundance!  I have detected water in all three of its known states including gas, liquid, and yes…I have even seen ice!  It was the chemical signature for water that compelled me to take a closer look when the accident occurred.

Most of the water I have been able to analyze locally is of the fresh variety which contains many other chemical additions some of which are naturally occurring.  I have, however, been able to learn that the vast majority of the water on this planet is heavily influenced by the compounded interactions of sodium and chlorine.  I have not only discovered water…but water in different flavors!  After surviving the shock of my sudden and unexpected arrival, I couldn’t wait to explore this new environment which offers such a stark contrast to our own dry home world.  There is so much water here that it actually falls from the sky!  Please excuse me while I transmit additional self images made while engaging in water joy!  They at least offer further visual evidence of the importance of my unexpected discovery.

How I wish you were here so we could experience this together.  I have been able to further confirm that our hypothesis about the connection between water and life is correct!  The abundance of water is equaled by the sheer amount and variety of life forms that inhabit this world.  Where there is water I have found life even in the precious fluid itself! There are sessile, terrestrial life forms that process sunlight through green, cellular solar panels.  They anchor themselves and obtain moisture through a system of filaments interwoven into its supporting substrate. And there are also many animate life forms that move through space and have evolved into hierarchies where every environmental niche is occupied by a specialized life form.  Interestingly, there are even species that dominate and consume other life forms. Our scientists will have much to study in this new world! I would like to expand on one of those species which seems to occupy a very prominent position on this planet.  It is an interesting life form and is bilaterally symmetrical like us and appears to be sentient to a degree.  Monitoring their communication patterns I have been able to translate and understand something of its language and culture.  I have heard self references to being a” bipedal humanoid”, but I’m not certain if I fully understand what is meant by that.  This animal while claiming intelligence and rationality is actually characterized by numerous contradictions.  The most observable of these traits is a predisposition towards delusion and self-deception.  It does much harm under the guise of doing good. This animal (which I believe as some members of its own kind acknowledge have evolved from what are known as “primates”) is constantly engaging in selfish behaviors that are having a deleterious effect on this planet.  Ironically, they are harming not only the other life forms here, but ultimately themselves as well.

Recently, I was exploring a water channel when I saw a shape flying towards me from some distance away.  It appears to be an antique flying craft bristling with armaments.  The dominant species here is addicted to using hydrocarbons extracted from the ground which are then  further refined to produce fuel and energy.  I quickly captured this image over my head and placed it in the catalog I am compiling for future reference.  I have observed other technologically superior war-like aircraft in the vicinity before, but this one was unusual.  These so-called “bipedal humanoids” are constantly engaged in warfare somewhere on their planet.  This is one of their most primitive characteristics.  Monitoring their telecommunications I have ascertained that violence is an integral part of their conflict resolution process.  The “bipedal humanoids” are capable of rationalizing and justifying any act they commit. When they are not fighting among themselves…they are consuming or damaging resources often with other primitive machines that require hydrocarbons to function.  For instance, observe this case that I recently experienced and documented.

In a nearby field that was once occupied by photosensitive sessile life forms, I observed a humanoid operating a large machine.  This machine did violence to all that was alive in this area.  The remains of many different kinds of sessile life forms were stacked into random piles, but what is the purpose of this activity?

This area was once home to a large variety of life forms and now they have been displaced.  I have observed this before and very recently.  The “bipedal humanoids” created an area that they call the Ohio River Greenway and ironically they removed many of the larger photosensitive life forms to accommodate easy access to the river for their other hydrocarbon burning vehicles.  This seemed strange for many reasons, but perhaps our biopsychologists can figure that one out!  I was able to get a closer picture of the large machine that was utilized to sterilize this particular area and it is frightening to stand next to.  I waited for its operator to leave the area before doing my reconnaissance.

Alas my beloved, it is time for me to regenerate back at my space craft.  I will leave you for now, but I promise more from this fascinating planet.  In my next transmission I will show you more images of the life forms I have observed and maybe something of the history of life on this planet.  For now, accept this self-image made next to the many sessile life forms that lend this land beauty and interest.

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Jeff and I have been great friends for over thirty years now.  It’s a strange feeling when you realize that much time has flown by.  We met at Murray State University in far western Kentucky and attended art school together and have kept in touch ever since.  Now we both live with our families in Louisville.  I’m proud to say that we still self identify as being artists.  This has not been an easy thing to do.  I’ve read that most people who attend art school eventually stop thinking of themselves as artists once the work-a-day world takes its toll after graduation.  Jeff and I have been lucky and can say that most of our professional lives have not strayed too far from art making or being in the art world.  We have never shaken our need to make ideas and materials connect.  These days, Jeff enjoys making some very involved and often witty ceramic sculptures and through this blog you know something about me.  This is not the first time Jeff has accompanied me on one of my “epic adventures” to the Falls of the Ohio and I always enjoy his company and conversation.  Today is a beautiful late September day and we are hiking in the western section of the park and enjoying the sunshine.

This is a less traveled path, but often worthwhile.  Today there are many late summer/early fall wildflowers to see.  We stopped by one of my favorite trees in the park.  It’s an old cottonwood tree whose roots have continued to grow with the tree even while the riverbank has eroded and exposed these roots to the elements.  This has not kept this tree from thriving.  Over time, a space beneath the tree large enough for a person to stand has been created.  This image of Jeff under the tree will give you a better idea of what I mean.  I have used this space on many occasions to wait out rain showers or take a break from my walks.

Over the past two years this tree has attracted a lot of attention and unfortunately for any other visitors…you can see evidence of their “footprints” all around this cottonwood. There is more litter around and several fire pits contain partially burned trash.  The tree trunk itself has become a target for graffiti as people with pen knives and spray cans have left their marks.

The sun was shining full-bore and warmed the day up nicely.  While I spotted some birds I wanted to check out…Jeff decided to hang out by the tree and take a nap.

When I returned from bird watching, Jeff was waiting for me and recalled an odd fragment from a dream he just had.  Even in his resting state he felt as though something was checking him out.  First he heard the sound of movement in the dried leaves and then caught sight of an odd small figure in brown with long ears skulking about the shadows.

Jeff remembers trying to wake himself up, but the dream continued.  The small brown figure then called out and was soon joined by a second figure that was larger and all in white.

This newest figure was even more bizarre than the first and more frightening for sure.  It sported a large misshapen head, wild eyes, and a mouth trimmed in blue.  Within his dream, Jeff heard a narrator saying that these figures were called “tree spirits” and all trees have them.  These characters may have been up to no good.  It’s hard to say, but fortunately they are easily frightened away.  Jeff thinks they may have belonged to the cottonwood tree and were paying a visit in case we were thinking of doing some damage to this beloved tree.  There were two spirits because there were two of us.  Anyway, Jeff doesn’t know how or if it all played out because he woke up.

It had already been a full day and we decided to head for home.  Although Jeff was partially refreshed from his nap, I was beginning to feel tired.  The car was about an hour’s walk away and we still needed to cross over the small creek that divides the western section of the park from the Woodland Loop Trail.  We gingerly walked over the logs left over from the last flood balancing ourselves with our walking sticks.  We were in no hurry here.

It was great having another adventure with an old friend!  I’m sure that we will do this again. Jeff found an extra walking stick to take home and that became his souvenir of the day.  For me, I walked out of the park with my images and this story I’m about to post.  Thanks for stopping by…until next time from the Falls of the Ohio!

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