World Discovery: The Macro Setting

tipsMy lovin’ spouseful Erik spent some time watching a video today on how to take photos for posting items for sale online. The single most useful piece of information he took away from the video was truly a major world discovery for both of us. If you want to take close-up photos, check to see if your camera has a Macro setting.

We have owned our digital camera for 7 or 8 years and have struggled to take decent close-up photos the entire time. Guess what? It has a Macro setting. Erik tried it and found that he could take a clear photo of small text from about an inch away.

Who knew? Now we do, and you do too. Check your camera for a Macro setting.

I’m a Fence-Sitter

Wooden fenceDo you ever get so taken with a song that you have to listen to it ad nauseum until you burn it into your brain? That’s the way I feel about Tim Minchin’s “The Fence”. Minchin is a musical comedian or comedic musician (one of those Creative Hyphenates that belong to the World Creative Hyphenate Club … and if there isn’t such a club, there ought to be). He’s smart as a whip. I kinda think you have to be smart as a whip if you can write comedic songs that are complex and make a point. And that’s just what he does.

Other than the catchy tune, what draws me to “The Fence” is its message, urging people to stop looking at the world in black-and-white, or binary, terms. One of the lyrics in the song says that it’s “An anthem to ambivalence.” Yes! That’s how I feel about life. I know how easy it is to fall into binary thinking, but I continually make the effort to drag myself back to a state of ambivalence. It’s through ambivalence that we give ourselves room to see others not as “Evil Others,” but as “Others Trying to Make Their Way in the World Just Like We Are”.

Have a listen (or ten).

 

Psalm for the Artist

art_designMy sister-in-law Jill Warner has been working feverishly over the past few months to fulfill a dream. She wanted to record an album of music for use in progressive Christian churches. By day, Jill is the minister at Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ in Aberdeen, South Dakota. By day, night, and every other time, she is a musician. For years, she has been writing new music in order to update hymnals for those who don’t connect with the older songs. Her dream to create an album of her songs has come true this past week with the help of a Kickstarter campaign, a bunch of talented musicians, and her church, along with her own hard work and talent. To assist her in her goal, I agreed to design the CD cover for her (and learned a lot about working with Pixlr and PDF templates in Photoshop in the process).

I’m proud to announce that Jill’s album, “Psalm for the Artist,” has been released. A sampler from the album can be found at Nate Poeppel’s website. (Sampler embedded below.) Nate is the musician who recorded, mixed, and mastered the album. Along with Jill and Ron Parker, he also produced it. Lyrics for the songs can be found on Jill’s Tributaries of Faith website.

When the album is available, which should be by the end of the year, I’ll let you know where to get it.

Congratulations, Jill, for your grand accomplishment!

 

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/track=2401262604/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/transparent=true/

My son Ian, the artist

inspiration2This week, my husband Erik, son Sebastian, Erik’s sister Jill, and I made a trip to North Dakota State University in Fargo to see my son Ian’s final senior art show. He exhibited his work along with several other students in what is known as the Baccalaureate exhibit.

We got a sneak peek of Ian’s work some months ago during a smaller exhibit, so we knew that the project he was attempting was ambitious. The final result was so overwhelming that upon seeing it, I promptly burst into tears.

I knew how much work Ian had put into it, but it was more than that. Ian is one of those rare people who find their strong calling early in life and just keep working at it, getting so good that they blow people away with their skill. While he has always had a natural talent for art, he has also earned his expertise. My mother’s (and artist’s) pride burst right from me when I saw “Saga” in its full 10-feet high by 18-feet wide glory. Ian is truly an inspiration to me.

Let me show you Ian’s work.

Ian Warner with his piece "Saga," November 25, 2014, Memorial Union Gallery, NDSU. "Saga" is a blend of Norse mythology with the culture of North Dakota.
Ian Warner with his piece “Saga,” November 25, 2014, Memorial Union Gallery, NDSU. “Saga” is a blend of Norse mythology with the culture of North Dakota.
"Saga" by Ian Warner, November 25, 2014, Memorial Union Gallery, NDSU.
“Saga” by Ian Warner, November 25, 2014, Memorial Union Gallery, NDSU.
Ian (on the left) and the rest of the students showing their senior art work at their Baccalaureate exhibit, NDSU, November 25, 2014.
Ian (on the left) and the rest of the students showing their senior art work at their Baccalaureate exhibit, NDSU, November 25, 2014. (The professor introducing the group is on the right.)
It's official. Ian has his name on a wall.
It’s official. Ian has his name on a wall.
In Norse mythology, Thor stands in for the common man. In Ian Warner's "Saga," he also doubles as the common laborer of the Midwest.
In Norse mythology, Thor stands in for the common man. In Ian Warner’s “Saga,” he also doubles as the common laborer of the Midwest.
The face of Jörmungandr in Ian Warner's "Saga." Jörmungandr is symbolic of the Red River in this work.
The face of Jörmungandr in Ian Warner’s “Saga.” Jörmungandr is symbolic of the Red River in this work.
In Norse mythology, it was a cow licking an iceberg that gave birth to all that is.
In Norse mythology, it was a cow licking an iceberg that gave birth to all that is.
The sun with a candle, part of Norse mythology that Ian explained but that I've promptly forgotten.
The sun with a candle, part of Norse mythology that Ian explained but that I’ve promptly forgotten.
Curves of the serpent that mimic a section of the Red River in Fargo, ND.
Curves of the serpent that mimic a section of the Red River in Fargo, ND.
I love the detail of Thor's boot and how Ian chose to leave some sections of "Saga" unfinished.
I love the detail of Thor’s boot and how Ian chose to leave some sections of “Saga” unfinished.
This tiny oil derrick is only a few inches high in "Saga." To see it, you have to get very close to the piece. Ian wanted to work the North Dakota oil fields into his piece and this is how he did it. There is an even tinier derrick on the horizon that's maybe a quarter of an inch in height.
This tiny oil derrick is only a few inches high in “Saga.” To see it, you have to get very close to the piece. Ian wanted to work the North Dakota oil fields into his piece and this is how he did it. There is an even tinier derrick on the horizon that’s maybe a quarter of an inch in height.

 

We Mere Mortals Have Been Genrefying Our Books Forever

readingThe Central Minnesota Libraries Exchange posted a link to a poll on Facebook. The poll was about genrefication of a fiction collection. I had to click over to learn more, like what the heck genrefication is.

Genrefication is the arrangement of books in a large collection by genre … i.e. all the mysteries go together, all the romances go in another section, etc. … rather than using the Dewey Decimal System. Remember that arcane alpha-numerical mumbo-jumbo? While nonfiction is grouped together roughly by topic in the Dewey Decimal System, fiction is typically arranged by author’s last name and title, rather than by genre.

In looking at CMLE’s poll, I found that it was aimed at school librarians. Apparently genrefication for the fiction collections of libraries is a new thing. However, this isn’t a new thing for those of us with large personal collections of books.

I took a few photos of my home library to show you what I’ve been doing for years.

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Natural health care books, Mary Warner’s home library, November 2014.
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Fiber arts books, Mary Warner’s home library, November 2014.
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Books on creativity, book-making books, & Malcolm Gladwell books, Mary Warner’s home library, November 2014.
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Writing books, Mary Warner’s home library, November 2014.
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More writing books, Mary Warner’s home library, November 2014.
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Even more writing books and health care books, Mary Warner’s home library, November 2014.

Apparently, we mere mortals have been genrefying our book collections.

I don’t collect as much fiction as I do nonfiction, so here’s where my genrefication gets a little weird. Mostly, I collect literary fiction, which doesn’t really have a specific genre, so I put all books by the same author together. I have this strange thing about how I place books with disturbing subjects on my shelves. This is what I told CMLE on its Facebook post:

“If I have a horror book, I’m very careful about the books I put on either side of it. I use “buffer” books, books that are serious but not scary, to buffer the horror book from other types of books.”

Two shelves of mostly fiction, Mary Warner's personal library, November 2014.
Two shelves of mostly fiction, Mary Warner’s home library, November 2014.
Fiction books, Mary Warner's personal library, November 2014.
Fiction books, Mary Warner’s home library, November 2014.

The second photo is a close-up of the lower shelf in the photo above. From left to right, there’s Brenda Ueland’s “Strength to Your Sword Arm,” “Little Women,” “The Secret Garden,” a book of poetry by Emily Dickinson, “The Great Gatsby,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “In Cold Blood,” George Orwell’s “1984,” “Frankenstein,” and an Edgar Allan Poe collection. To the right of Poe is a book of short stories.

I count the books from “In Cold Blood” through Poe to be disturbing. The buffer I’m using on the right of Poe is the short story book. The buffer I’m using on the left of “In Cold Blood” is “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Why? Because Harper Lee was friends with Truman Capote and both that book and “The Great Gatsby” are buffering the more serious books from the children’s books.

How did I develop this system? I have no idea. It’s just what I do and it wasn’t until CMLE asked about genrefication that I even thought about it.

How do you arrange the books in your home library?

Artists and Economic Development

thoughtfodderI ran across an interesting article the other day. It’s from Bloomberg Businessweek and is called Bohemian Today, High-Rent Tomorrow. It discusses the phenomenon of artists moving into low-rent districts, fixing them up and making them cool, which then leads to more economic development, which then makes the districts high-rent, forcing out the artists who brought them back to life.

I’ve seen this written about many times and I’m not sure why more communities aren’t fostering this for economic development. Maybe if it’s forced … “Say, you, there, artist! Move into this crappy neighborhood and fix it up so we can make a buck!” … it won’t work the same way. At the very least, if communities could provide encouragement when artists adopt a place, perhaps these economic revivals would happen more frequently.

Props for Ravine Article

thanksMy husband was reading the local news online the other day and surprised me by saying there was a Letter to the Editor thanking me for an article I wrote in the Morrison County Historical Society’s newsletter. I very much appreciate the kind note by Pat Richter Bumgarner. She also sent me one at work and each one brightened my day. 🙂