Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its seventh year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

March 31, 2012

ON THE ROAD - THE GREAT ARCH


...  several years ago jon and i stopped in st. louis to visit the gateway arch*, for both of us it was a first visit to this marvelous structure ... it was exciting to be able to introduce adrien to this architectural wonder ...

*here's a slide show of that visit


... not "distortion," but a simple trick of perspective, at first sight it is very difficult to get an accurate sense of the scale of the arch ... look at the people in the grass just to the right of adrien's sneakers, then, very carefully, examine the area just to the inside of the right base of the arch, where you will find some figures which will allow you to appreciate what i consider the "courage" of this fabulous structure ...


... a place of both serious celebration and wonderful fun, in my opinion quite like the lincoln memorial, it always inspires me to the point that i forget i don't bend quite as easily as once did ...


... the elemental simplicity of the arch's mathematical shape, one in which functional form is entwined with the very fabric of the universe, is seductive to the eye of the photographer ...

NIKON D200 & OLYMPUS E-PL1


March 30, 2012

ON THE ROAD - GO HICKORY


... a brief detour from our ride along i70 to st. louis, we stopped in knightstown, indiana, to visit the gym where the movie "hoosiers" was filmed ... to be honest, i thought this was going to be a rather dry experience, expecting to find in a tired midwestern town an old gym which had been merely one of many stages used in the filming of a movie that is, at best, a rather fictionalized account of a real event ...

... but, after our friendly guide, who had played seventh-grade basketball in the gym, and the little old lady who every so sweetly warned him, "they haven't got all day, so don't tell 'em all your stories," i found myself totally charmed by the setting ... a small town, no longer home for those who farm "small," one from which its children are now bused great distances to more financially efficient "consolidated schools," a town which would be well within its rights to give up and accept that fact that america has moved on ... but ... but, at least for those residents who manage the gym, there has been no surrender ... rather, in a most humble fashion they've taken the offense against "bigger is better" and new automatically supersedes old ... to visit this gym is a reminder that there was a time when hard work was a virtue, "friend" was someone with whom you enjoyed being squeezed onto a seat on the bus, and on a friday night "community" found definition in being crowded along a set of creaky wooden bleacher benches ...


... thomas wolfe said, "you can't go home again" ... adult maturity is coming to the realization that, for the most part, his dictum was correct ... but ... but, here in this tiny gym, if only for a moment on a warm spring day, it is quite possible to briefly believe that you can go home again, and, listening to the  squeaking of sneaker soles on polished hardwood floors, in this short respite find a most welcome exception to wolfe's rule ...

NIKON D200 & OLYMPUS E-PL1



ON THE ROAD - STRATOTANKER


... while visiting with jon he took us out onto the rickenbacker field flight line to have an "up close and personal" view of his airplane ... even after growing up in the strategic air command, where kc-135's were a part of the background of daily life, then getting to fly on these airborne tankers when i was in the air force, it's still a thrill to get to go inside one of these great airplanes ... for adrien, obviously, it was an exciting experience ...


... so exciting, in fact, that she overcame her aversions to both ladders and buttons and allowed jon to take a shot at teaching her to fly the aircraft ...


... in the aft section of the airplane adrien tried out jon's office "couch," discovering that boeing hadn't spent much time on making it comfortable, nor, as you can clearly see, had they made any effort to provide for the differences between male and female anatomy ...


"It's classified. I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you."

... while in columbus, in addition to enjoying jon's "movie theater" living room, we also visited the united states air force museum in dayton ...


... seeing all the planes which had carried the call sign "air force one" was neat, even if adrien did start to believe she was harry truman ... however, viewing the slice marks that were made in the aft bulkhead of the boeing 707 so that the coffin containing john f. kennedy could be loaded into the plane's tight confines, that was a bit disconcerting ...

NIKON D200 & OLYMPUS E-PL1


March 25, 2012

ON THE ROAD - GETTING WET


... here we are, on the road ... adrien and i have been planning this little excursion almost from the day we returned home from our pacific coast trip last spring ... the plan consists of adrien, jon, and myself, fourteen days, 4,500 miles of driving and seeing lots of really cool stuff ... we left new hampshire just before lunch yesterday and made niagara in time to view the falls by the light of huge colored spotlights ... eleven o'clock on a drizzly night in march, we had the spectacle pretty much all to ourselves ...


... we left the falls at midnight, just as the lights were being extinguished for the night, and drove south on the new york thruway almost to the pennsylvania border, where we parked at the last service area on the pike and tucked ourselves in for a night of car-cabin-camping ... the next morning we were off to cleveland, where we visited the rock and roll hall of fame ... no pictures, but not because photography wasn't allowed ... nope, seems i forgot the flash reader for my little pocket "spy" camera ...


... the hall of fame was nice, but, at $22.50 for each of us to enter the museum, it wasn't near as good a deal as the 25¢ we dropped in a parking meter so we could see "the world's largest rubber stamp" ...


... from there it was a short drive to visit ralphie's house from "a christmas story" ... (read that: somehow the map, g.p.s., and "to 70" vs. "270" confused me enough that we got to take a bit of a wandering tour through the cleveland steel mill district) ...


... we visited the museum then toured the house itself, where we learned about the filming of the movie, the cast, and the man who "restored" the house so that it could be enjoyed by fans ... did you know that the "snow" in the film is actually detergent flakes and fire fighting foam ... seems that cleveland had an unusually snow-free winter that year ...



"Immediately, my feet began to sweat as those two fluffy little bunnies
with a blue button eye stared supply up at me." 



"The snap of a few sparks, a quick whiff of ozone, and the lamp blazed forth in unparalleled glory.
Oh, look at that! Will you look at that? Isn't that glorious?
It's... it's... it's indescribably beautiful! It reminds me of the Fourth of July!"


"No! No! I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle!"

"You'll shoot your eye out, kid."


... from cleveland we drove down to columbus ... tired, but pleased so far with how much we're enjoying our little drive-about ... jon treated us to supper, now it's the blue-ray version of "the italian job" on jon's gimongous television, then a good night's sleep so we'll be all rested up for our visit to dayton tomorrow ...

NIKON D200 & OLYMPUS E-PL1




March 19, 2012

INTO THE CLOUDS


"It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are ...
than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise."

HENRY DAVID THOREAU

NIKON D200-NIKKOR 18-135@52MM@F7-1/100th-ISO100

ON THE ROAD AGAIN


... yes, you're absolutely correct, in the background is a still frozen over minnehonk lake, ice thick enough that just out of the picture to the left there are two ice fishers doing a bit of winter-is-never-long-enough drilling of holes and dropping hooked lines ... welcome to spring in maine ...

... cleaned and polished to looking new last fall, when i took it out yesterday my little motorcycle seemed like a young colt stabled through a long winter, bolting from barn to hillside pasture the moment the door was opened ... i did my first valve lash adjustment, tightened the chain, torqued every bolt and nut i could access, and snugged all the control cables ... three cheers for electronic ignition and fuel injection, nothing needed my attention with those ... the bike started cleanly at the first turn of the key ... a brief spin to test everything, another inspection, then a ride long enough to make me develop at least a reasonable understanding of what a heroin addict must feel like upon getting the first fix after a long abstinence ... common sense, in large part a function of the number of years i've lived, reminded me to keep my first outing brief, so, very reluctantly, after snapping this picture i parked the bike and locked the door ... walking away, from within the shed i could hear it purring in both satisfaction and anticipation ... such a well mannered machine, don't you think ...

NIKON D200-NIKKOR 18-135@70MM@F7-1/100th-ISO400

"A motorcycle functions entirely in accordance with the laws of reason, and a study of the art of motorcycle maintenance is really a miniature study of the art of rationality itself."

 ROBERT M. PIRSIG

THE CANDY JAR


"Neither the things we walk towards,
nor those from which we walk away,
but in that which we pass by
is where regret takes seed."

FREDERICK BROWN

... perhaps just an exercise in tone and contrast, perhaps more, this is one of those "walking out the door" situations ... sea and shore, heaven and horizon, field and fans, doorways, windows, often it is these transitions which provide opportunity to find contrast between motion and motionless, light and dark, goings and comings ...

NIKON D200-SIGMA 17-70@46MM@F3.8-1/500th-ISO400




March 14, 2012

YOUNG MR. FRENCHY


... i've no idea as to exactly when this was taken ... the "margin of error" in my estimate, only a few years, is pretty dramatic when you consider that at one end this image was made just after my father got out of high school, before pearl harbor, while for the other extreme he would have just come home from the war, married, soon to discover that his wanderlust would never be satisfied within the confines of tiny rhode island ... forgetting all that i know about my father, myth, legend, and that which i observed for myself, still, in this photograph i see someone i think i would have had great fun knowing ... be it into a burning building, or, equally, simply creating mischief and raising hell, a man i would have followed without hesitation ... 

... questions ... when ... where ... absolutely, what was the vehicle ... can you help ...

UNKNOWN

MAGENTA MERRIMENT


"The artist is the confidant of nature, flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms.  Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him."

AUGUSTE RODIN

... i could spend a lifetime taking pictures of flowers, and little children, too ... if you think about it, that makes wonderfully great sense ...

NIKON D200-NIKKOR 18-135@40MM@F6.3-1/80th-ISO100

INTO THE SUN


... most photography primers will warn that you should "keep your back to the sun," and that "bright sunlight is the worst time of day for picture taking" ... i imagine that hidden in the footnotes they also advise "there's nothing to be found investigating fire hydrants" ... as far as i'm concerned, however, in disregard of all conventional advice concerning the art and science of photography, i find it important that at times you let your sense of humor direct your vision ... after all, a fire hydrant at the edge of the sea, how could i resist ...


... p.s. ... also, those books also tell you to "never put the center of interest dead center in the viewfinder" ... my rule:  "you want to learn about photography, study the pictures first" ...

NIKON D200-SIGMA 10-20@10MM-F/11-1/250th-ISO 100

March 7, 2012

MIDNIGHT SUN MOTOWN


... our second house in alaska, home from 1960-1962 ... behind the photographer, always seeming almost within arms reach, the horizon was the imposing saw-toothed outline of the rugged chugach mountains ... to the left, perhaps a thousand feet or so, a virtually impenetrable palisade of pines marked the end of light and the beginning of our most wondrous playground, the dark, deep, endlessly primeval boreal forest ... 

... here our little ford sedan patiently awaits the birthing of two new siblings ... the dads and their friends would gather together on weekends, all of them garbed in no-longer-fit-for-drill army fatigue trousers and starched-to-glare-in-the-sun white undershirts ... scuffed army boots, metal frame sunglasses, watches, if any, were simple ... always, the jingling of their dog tags, i would one day come to learn that that sound was music to which some of them silently chanted the refrain, "i'm alive, i'm alive, i survived" ... a song that let them forget, but allowed them to remember, too ... in their eyes, the shadows of what they had witnessed, as children we understood it was the look of the most dangerous of men, but were comforted knowing the tenderness they sometimes desperately tried to hide was what allowed us to feel so very safe in their presence ... beers and cokes, "smoke 'em if you've got 'em," powerful taboo words hurled at the nuts and bolts that dared resist their efforts ... to me, all of them, they were of a group i wanted to be accepted into when i grew up, the hairy-armed-man club ... in this world, it was my elemental truth that they could do anything ... simply, when one of them happened to need a car, the rest gathered together to help build one ...  imagine my surprise, later in life, when i discovered that automobiles were manufactured in factories, not assembled in the back yard from odd parts ...

... i know that technology has improved transportation, that today our cars are safer, more comfortable, far more efficient ... despite all that, however, i know that no fancy "store bought" car i drive will ever be quite as neat as the ones which my dad built with his own hands ...

ARGUS C3-CINTAR 50MM-F/8-1/100TH-EKTACHROME-ISO 80

ICE SHADOW


... don't be hesitant about creating mystery ... yes, there're those who pass by such, knowing they've no desire to work to conclusion, but, for others, there is the thrill of figuring things out ... remember, you needn't take a picture for everyone, or, in fact, any one, rather, it is that your images are first for yourself that will bring you to being a better photographer ...

NIKON D200-SIGMA 17-50MM@F9-1/20th-ISO100

CUPS FOR JOE


... go for a stroll, don't pick a destination and don't forget your camera ... don't "look" for pictures, instead, just let your eyes wander the landscape ... what you seek is contrast, juxtapositions of symmetry and asymmetry, light and dark, linear and nonlinear, singularity and repetition ... remember, it is only in allowing yourself to see things as common do they become so ...

NIKON D200-SIGMA 17-50MM@F4.5-1/20th-ISO400

March 4, 2012

DOWN BAILY ISLAND WAY


"The dappled blue of the evening sky,
with the cloud-rack in the west,
All purpled bright in the living light,
Like the Islands of the Blest."

"And off the islands sweeps the wind
As much as the sails can hold,
As we race home through the rustling foam
And the grey waves laced with gold"

LOUISA BROOKE - 1907

OLYMPUS E10-OLYMPUS 35-140@35MM-F5.6-1/20th-ISO80

THE RED SUSPENDERS

... here's the original scan, from 3-1/2x5 color photograph ...


... and this is my restoration ...


... i think that's our car off to the left, dad never owned anything near as fancy as the one we're propped against ... i'm guessing this is spring of 1958, shortly before we drove to alaska ... those red suspenders were my most prized possession ... one morning in my west palm beach first-grade classroom i looked down and realized that i'd forgotten to put them on before i left the house ... i went into a total melt-down, locking my arms and legs into my little wooden school desk and refusing to move or cease wailing like a wounded cat ... the teacher had to call for the principal, who, unable to either cajole or pry me from refuge, was forced to send my personal super-hero, mike, sprinting all the way to our house to fetch the suspenders ... when my brother returned with the errant elastics, pouring sweat and panting to do pheidippides proud, he helped me hook the backside clasps, something i could never quite manage by myself, then nonchalantly returned to his studies ... i, of course, instantly reverted back to normal, as if nothing had happened ... my poor teacher, i can picture her years and years later, when the term "manic depressive" had become the vogue, muttering to herself, "ah, yes, that explains it all" ...