"I cleave the heavens, and soar to the infinite. What others see from afar, I leave far behind me." Giordano Bruno (1548 – February 17, 1600)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Butterfly Hours ~ #01 Contemplation

"What's a butterfly garden without butterflies?"
Roy Rogers 
Lizzy Sider - "Butterfly"
About a month ago, I decided it was time to visit the Schmetterlinghaus (the Imperial Butterfly House), located in the Burggarten, Vienna. The last time I went was a number of years ago. The Schmetterlinghaus is located a part of a gloriously large greenhouse structure called the Palmenhaus.  This visit was initially to take some photographs.

Once I arrived, the visit, not unlike a caterpillar, metamorphosed into something quite different. It became a butterfly hour of profound contemplation on the beauty of truth in love. Growing up with my Father, I learnt the value of being truthful, as it was so important to his sense of ethics, how he behaved as a parent and a friend.

I realised, what I subconsciously always knew, but like most children failed to recognise, that my Father was one of those rare individuals that handled his family, friends and the wider world without deceit. He dealt with life in complete openness, truth and free from illusionary masks. I now understand this is why we successfully survived as a family unit of three. Father taught my sister and me, the value of truth through the profound love of his family. He showed us that love does not deceive, but deals only in truth when we truly care.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Circus is Coming to Town!

Logo courtesy of Roncalli 

"The attraction of the virtuoso for the public
 is very like that of the circus for the crowd. 
There is always the hope that something dangerous will happen."
Claude Debussy 
Julius Fucik - "Entry Of The Gladiators"
I haven't been to the circus since I was a kid. I am not sure whether my Dad took me that last time. I know I was with him the first time I saw a circus. Dad always arranged tickets through one of the clubs he where he was a member. That last time he may have organised a group of tickets for friends with kids. My baby sister and I may have gone with them Most of the Dads would go the club and wait it out until the show was finished. Each year he would arrange for us to go to these summer events, while the clubs still offered them.

This was when we lived in Australia. In those days, it was a thrill for kids to go to the circus, as it was a rarity in the cities and the country. A once a year chance, for something “exotic” besides the shows, regattas and rodeos, to found annually in the country towns and the big city. The circuses generally had exotic animals that shouldn’t have been performing in captivity, kept in always sad and sometimes bad conditions. Reflecting on it now, I can only imagine the stress and sadness these animals must have endured, to delight and make us human kids, as well as the human adults, smile, laugh or gawk in awe, at their performances.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"The Gloves are off!" - Round #01: Abandoned

"You are hurt and worn out"
Ayumi Hamasaki 
Goyte and Fourth Floor Collapse - "Worn Out Blues"
"The Gloves are off!", at least in Gersthof, the area of Vienna where I live. Wandering from my apartment to the local transport junction, has taken an intriguing turn in the last few months. Major trackwork, on the tramlines, has been going on and will continue until the end of September.  I touched on the work in a previous essay, titled "Nuts in May".

The photographic opportunities afforded by this work to shoot some intriguing and offbeat photo studies has been overwhelming. I could be writing on a variety of topics and sharing the better photos for months on this trackwork. The photos above, of work gloves caught my attention on different days and in different places.

Worn-out and abandoned, the pair in the first photo, shot on a rainy day, were left laying on a section of bare tracks undergoing work. For more than a week, I passed this pair, unmoving and undisturbed, exactly how they were first shot. During this time, I contemplated a number of scenarios for their abandonment - the sad, the bad and the ugly. They finally disappeared when the area was cleaned, as the final work, for that section, went ahead and the plinths, between the sections of track, were put back into place.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Best Keep Secrets of Austria – The Secret of the Giant Leporidae

Albrecht Dürer's "Young Hare" 1503
Image: Wikipedia
"What beauty is, I know not, 
though it adheres to many things.."
Albrecht Dürer 
Simon & Garfunkel - Bright Eyes
I was wandering through Vienna during the middle of July, while heading towards the Burggarten on a photographic mission (more on that in a number of future blog essays). I decided to go along a side street of the State Opera House, when my eyes caught sight of something totally unexpected. Sitting on top of the most famous Bitzinger Würstelstand, located below the Albertina Museum and across from the Opera house was a supersized green bunny.
Austrians like to enjoy themselves with some rather strong or numerous enlightening liquids and some have been known to see some odd things. Being stone cold sober and spying this ginormous green bunny was a surprise, and delight, to me. I couldn’t help taking a few shots of the bunny sitting in all his elegance on top of this famous Würstelstand.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Narcissistic Foxes

The Narcissistic Foxes

The narcissistic fox pair like to cunningly plan to slyly cheat,
Traversing to opportunistic events, to secretly and illicitly meet,
The French fox blissfully polishes and grooms plans for the days,
When the Canadian vixen will joyfully abandon her faithful family.
They seek each to bask and reflect in their mutual mirrored pond,
Their plans made with detailed care do really lack class, finesse or flare.

Off to Chicago where bloomers collectively did at a party play,
They cheated first mid-year for closer to a week than a short day
The narcissistic vixen’s family forgotten dismissively and  without a care.
Then while autumn was on the rise again they met to prance as together,
Those sly narcissistic foxes along those sandy shores of Vancouver Bay
With seagulls in flight bearing witness to their deceitfully cunning ways.

Then  early in the year bloggers once more collectively did met,
In New York providing the foxes once more the opportunity  to cheat,
And to plan next to meet in April when the vixen painted head to toe,
Flitted off to Paris again for a slyly planned deceitful adulteress tryst
I have been told, where for all to see that boldly reflected in glass,
Are she and he, that sly cunningly audacious narcissistic fox pair.

Where next will opportunity lead for their meetings of narcissistic lust,
And to abandon  family at home with ever that misguided sense of trust,
Will it be where bloggers choose to collectively to meet in San Jose or NYC,
Perhaps closer to home somewhere nearer to Toronto or a lake maybe?
Wherever it be, I am sure the narcissistic foxes have already slyly planned
The moments when they will once more meet for cunningly illicit trysts.

© W. Heron, 2014

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Confessions #02: That 4th of July 1994 Cup of Coffee

"Our culture runs on coffee and gasoline, 
the first often tasting like the second."
Edward Abbey 
Frank Sinatra - "The Coffee Song"
Yes, yet another confession, with a variety of more in the offing. Confession is good for the soul, they say and the truth will free you! Yesterday it was paperwork, today something totally different to confess. From the title and picture you have already gleaned it has to do with coffee.

The Beatles sang the number “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” from their album of the same name, released in 1967. The first two lines of that number were, “It was twenty years ago today, Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play”. Well today I have been contemplating the tune's first two lines with mediocre words of my own, “It was twenty years ago today, that I gave coffee drinking away!” Yes, twenty years ago today. The 4th of July 1994, was my last cup of coffee, two full decades ago.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Confessions #01: Paperwork

"We can lick gravity, 
but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming."
Wernher von Braun 
Cyndi Lauper - "Girls Just Want To Have Fun"  
Oh the infamy! Yes, it is confession time. From the title it is obvious what the subject of this confession is. Something everyone loathes and hates, unless they are totally nuts. From the picture you can see what I have been putting off my paperwork. This is just the tip of the iceberg,

So how the hell did it get to this state of affairs? Well I don’t need to file tax returns. I do not pay taxes to the government, due to my particular place of gainful employment. Now before you get manically excited, wanting to know exactly where I work, and how does one find employment there, I do pay an internal assessment. This assessment is equivalent to a tax. It contributes in a round-about way to what my country would pay as part of its’ global commitment to the organisation where I work.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Just Ducky! No Ducks but a Lone Bachelor Drake

"Be like a duck. 
Calm on the surface, 
but always paddling 
like the dickens underneath."
Michael Caine 
Rick Wackeman's instumental - "Ducks and Drakes"
A couple of weeks ago, I finally got my first indication that summer was truly underway. A personal tradition that began way back in 2008. Back then I shot a photo the first one of a pair of ducks, swimming on the pond/fountain at the complex where I work. I say pond/fountain as because it is so big I am never sure, even with the water spouts, whether it is one or the other. You could even describe it as a pool. If they didn't empty it for winter, it would make a jolly good skating rink. If they failed to empty it, it would crack from the expanding water as it froze.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Days of Wine, Roses...and Therapy. An Incredible Journey

"They are not long, the days of wine and roses."
Ernest Dowson 
Ella Fitzgerald & Joe Pass - "Days of Wine and Roses"  
Journeys are roads to awareness on many plains. Most have purposes. Some are for fun; some are for illicit acts, full of deceit; some are to catch up with family and friends; some are for business; while others may have a deep therapeutic purpose.

I undertake a special journey regularly, to a nice area of Austria to undertake an exploration into the influences that have shaped my development, my subsequent choices and life effecting decisions. These journeys, take me to a peaceful environment. The therapeutic journeys started a year ago, and were decades overdue.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Oops-a-daisy, or in Other Words those Accidental Snaps

Accidental Snaps - Oops #01
Accidental Snaps - Oops #02
Accidental Snaps - Oops #03
Accidental Snaps - Oops #4
"The progress of a photographer can often
be marked by the accumulated number of mistakes
he or she had made along the way. "
Catherine Jo Morgan 
Arcade Fire - "Photograph" from the "Her" soundtrack  
Ever have one of those moments when you realise you forgot to switch off the camera and you have an accidental click? This happened to me a couple of weeks ago. The results of this sort of "little a accident" would generally end up being deleted.  
When I downloaded the card, I looked twice. In the case of this first accidental snap (Oops #01), it was way out of focus and greatly blurred, albeit there was something strangely captivating in the shot. I liked it, finding it quite attractive in an arty-farty type of way.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Best Kept Secrets of Austria - Summer Harvest Stalls

"One must ask children and birds 
how cherries and strawberries taste."
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 
The Beatles - Strawberry Fields Forever
Around about the beginning of May each year, on my way to and from work, or just into the city, I start to watch for my favourite summer season fruit, vegetables and berry stall. This is generally a large table located on the lower level of the Tram Junction at the U-Bahn station at Schottentor. I have been doing this since my first summer in Vienna, which was way back in 2006.

The first offerings of the season are generally strawberries, and strangely small bunches of Lily of the Valley. Maybe this has to do with the fact that here they are called Maiglöckchen (May Bells) and/or they are a nice Mother’s Day present. This year the Lily of the Valley was missing. They had sprouted and bloomed way back in March. The strawberries on the other hand have arrived just on schedule.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

A Gift of Love and Luck... or "The Tale of Piggeldey Wiggeldey"

"To a father growing old nothing is 
dearer than a daughter."
Carl Orff - "O Fortuna" from "Carmina Burana"  
played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
It is strange how something small can evoke for many people strong emotions and fond memories. For me it is a small lump of plastic (W1.8cm x B0.8cm x H1.3cm) in the form of little pink pig with the cutest black beady eyes, a red snout, red trotters and two red spots. This little pig evokes such a strong poignant feeling of love, profound loss, happiness, sorrow, despair and melancholy all at the one time.

These little pigs are sold in their thousands each year throughout Austria and other parts of Europe as a New Year token, along with other shapes. They are given out to the customers who frequent your business, children, friends and family as wishes for the coming year. Wishes for the recipient. Pieces of luck, fortune, health, joy, love, wealth, abundance, etc., made out of marzipan, chocolate, plastic, wood, felt, fabric, metal, clay, paper or any other medium that can be fashioned into a shape or image. The pig is one of the images for luck.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nuts in May

"I'm tired of high policy talks. 
I want to focus on nuts and bolts."
Dave Freudenthal 
Edward Ka-Spel - Nuts in May
Well not the nuts of the old nursery rhyme, but rather nuts that go with bolts. Currently, Gersthof where I live, is going through a massive tram line maintenance process. Believe it or not, and this is not very girly, I am finding it fascinating. Whenever I pass the works with my camera, I take the time gathering some photographs.  
I have been experimenting with some rather arty shots, “gathering” these arty ones of nuts with their bolts. Not something that would be usually classed as beautiful, I found these ones strangely attractive in their collected form. All thrown together in a box, waiting to be used or recycled back into the track work, where they would then perform their designated function. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Raindrops Keep Fallin’...

"Let the rain kiss you. 
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. 
Let the rain sing you a lullaby."
Langston Hughes 

Frédéric Chopin - "Raindrop" Prelude, Op 28, No. 15
My last trip to the Alps gave me spring and April showers. I decided then that I should start pushing my camera to the max and improve my photography skills. It was basically let’s see what we are both made of. Of course my PENTAX K-7 DSLR is made of metal, rubber, circuitry and glass. Me? Well, I am “made of  sugar and spice and everything nice,” because that is what little girls are made of, according to an old popular nursery rhyme, "What are little boys made of". That, of course, is another story. 
The above aside, I spent that trip photographing everything that caught my eye, and really gave the Pentax a workout, while improving on my skills. Since then I haven’t stopped. Besides the flower, insects, mountains and anything of interest that catches my eye, I also photograph raindrops. Raindrops are not simple things to photograph, (or anything small for that matter), when you don’t always have both lenses with you and you are sometimes stuck using the 55-200mm. This is the case with these wet green snaps.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Best Keep Secrets of Austria - Introducing artwalk18

"Without poets, without artists,
men would soon weary of nature's monotony."
Guillaume Apollinaire
Escape The Fate - Picture Perfect
A further tale of adventure from Austria, the land without the Kangaroos. I have recently been musing about why people choose to visit this small country. For this article, I decide to ask Google the simple little question “why do people visit Austria?” Interestingly auto select tried to convince me that I wanted Australia, the land with the Kangaroos, but I wasn't going to play that little Google game. I stumbled across 2 blog/webpages that both provided me with a list of ten and five reasons respectively:

a. The Shearing Blog:
1. Classical Music; 2. The Austrian Alps; 3. Architecture; 4. "The Sound of Music";  5.Food; 6. Drinks; 7. Weather; 8. Railways; 9. Dancing; 10. Yodelling
b.  Nomadical Sabbatical:
1. Yodelling; 2. Mountains; 3. Classical Music; 4.Architecture; 5.Food & Drink

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Baby IT Was Cold Outside! The Eisheilige 2014

"It's too cold outside for angels to fly."
Ed Sheeran

Margaret Whiting & Johnny Mercer - Baby Its Cold Outside
Most years in May, with some exceptions, Austria along with most of Europe goes through an icy spell that throws us back into winter for a week. Those glorious spring days seem to take a break or disappear without so much as a protest to be replaced by rain, icy winds and extremely cold weather.  In the Alps, the days can sometimes herald the last of the winter snowfall for the year.  After that is generally becomes a downhill run into summer.  
The days are referred to at the Eisheilige (Ice Saints). The worst day is usually St. Sophia’s feast day and she is referred to as the Kalte Sophie (Cold Sophie). Despite global warming and indications of climate change during the seasons, these days religiously, (pardon the pun), arrive every year around the same time and have for centuries. Farmers generally hold off some of their labours, to ensure that any work in the fields is not wasted. The days generally are: 
St. Mamertus, Bishop of Vienna – 11. Mai
St. Pankratius, an early Christian Martyr – 12. Mai
St. Servatius, Bishop of Tongeren – 13. Mai 
St. Bonifatius, an early Christian Martyr – 14. Mai
St. Sophia, an early Christian Martyr – 15. Mai

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Spring ~ Nature's Promise of Warmer Days

Strolls and Dandelions
 ANTon and BEEtrice
Humble Bumblebee
 The POLLENator

" Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn't know it so it goes on flying anyway."
Mary Kay Ash
Donovan - Mellow Yellow
During my last visit home to Mauthen, located in Carinthia, Austria, I wandered around everywhere with my camera looking for inspiration. After the first couple of snaps, I became mesmerised by spring. The colours, especially that one, wonderful bright colour that stood out so much more than any other. The one that nature throws at you when she is at her artistic best – YELLOW. Yellow in all it various shades, from mellow yellow* through to bright golden yellow.

The colour is such a promise of the warmer golden days to come. From bulbs to bushes to flower to wildflowers, beguling the human eye and encouraging insects, especially the bees, to enjoy their first meal of the season, as well as kick starting their working year. I realised I had a theme, maybe two – COLOUR and INSECTS.