When My Photos Misbehave


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This is a housekeeping sort of posting for all of you who may have trouble viewing my photos easily. Two persons have described my photos as “jumping around” or “running from the mouse,” and two have described the photos and text hiding behind each other in annoying ways. (If the photos disappear when you mouse over them, they might have gathered at the bottom of the page where they are clickable.) I haven’t heard from others whether the blog works smoothly for them or if they have similar difficulties.

After checking with someone who knows infinitely more about this kind of thing than I ever will, the suggestion was made that perhaps the trouble stems from the theme I was using, one supplied by WordPress. Finding a theme that is equally supported well by all browsers is not easy. I’m trying another one for a while to see if it works better for any of you. (It is also from WordPress and one I tried before, but which didn’t manage photos and text as well as it should from my end.) Test how the attached photo behaves for you.

Here’s what I’ve noticed:
1. I use AOL most of the time. The photos appear to the right of the text on the page, with text wrapping neatly into the blank space under the photo if the text is long enough.
2. On Internet Explorer, which I check only occasionally, the photos are arranged above the text, which also looks good.
3. Both these configurations work well for me. I use a G 4 PowerMac.
4. The background colors do not appear on Internet Explorer the same as on AOL.

Another piece of this puzzle is that most of my photos are hosted by Flickr because the management of photos in WordPress is limited and uncooperative, at least as I have experienced it. Maybe I should find another photo host altogether, but that might not fix things, either.

If you have helpful suggestions, I’d be glad to listen and learn. I appreciate you taking the time to read, and I apologize for the complicated access this setup has produced for some of you. Also, if you have discovered other ways to make Balance a more enjoyable experience, please let me know so I can address those as well.

Thank you.

Steve

Published in: on June 30, 2007 at 10:47 am  Comments (2)  

Kayaks and Moonlight

Earlier in the week I received a phone call from Bill Stokes, inviting me to join some friends who planned to paddle the Catawba River on Thursday night. My schedule stayed open, so I met them at the landing and we were moving upstream a little before 8:00. There were five of us, two of whom I didn’t know previously.

We made our way slowly, conversing, unwinding from whatever worries and pressures claim us in the terrestrial world. Before long, though, the peace was interrupted by disturbing signs of development along the river. Woods had been cleared, boat docks and riprap had been installed, and many trees left standing were butchered so badly that they probably won’t survive. Three such places spread along a half mile or so of shoreline raise ominous thoughts regarding the future of a soulful river.

We paddled on, crossing to a narrow strand of islands, slipping into the back channel where a riper darkness waited. The moon rose behind us. The small tuft of spider lilies I saw last week stood ahead of us, glowing white, this time with many more blossoms than before. And later as we walked in the river to stretch, with the boats floating nearby, a Chuck-will’s-widow sang the song all mosquitoes should fear. Creation’s comforting hand was upon us again, healing us, whose own kind wound it.

The night was beautiful, and conversation contributed broadly to that beauty, consecrating the time with trust and laughter. Facing the elegant moon, and her lively twin who danced in the ripples we made, we rode the river toward the place we started, scratching its back as we went. A sound of many frogs, thick like an airborne gravy and louder than traffic, rolled onto and across the river, a corporate amphibious prayer that wetlands survive the human will. Yes, please. Rivers and woods too.

By 11:30 we were in our trucks and leaving, better off, and ready for next time. It was a very worthwhile evening, and I appreciate the invitation.

Published in: on June 29, 2007 at 7:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

June 27 and Its Significance

Today, June 27, is the 150th anniversary of Rev. Elisha Mitchell’s death. Rev. Mitchell was the explorer, geologist, and pastor for whom the tallest mountain in America east of the Rockies is named. Mt. Mitchell, in Yancey County, North Carolina, is 6,684 feet above sea level, and it was while attempting to obtain a more accurate measurement of its height that Elisha was caught in a thunderstorm, fell from a waterfall, and died on this date in 1857. For more, see http://docsouth.unc.edu/browse/bios/pn0001194_bio.html

This basic information is provided on a plaque at the top of the mountain where he is buried, and although I had visited there on numerous other occasions in my life, my first particular notice of it happened when I was there one day in early 2003. Having recently endured the emotional and circumstantial agony of the conclusion of my marriage, I was searching for hope and new direction, for ways to move past the past. One such need I had for moving on was figuring out how to reclaim as positive the day which had been my wedding anniversary, June 27.

And here it was. A man who, like me, was both pastor and studier of science, entered the eternal glory of God through the untimely manifestation of details he did not choose. (He, being Presbyterian, would surely object to my use of the term “untimely,” but we all know that’s how it can feel.) My ending (marriage) was not as drastic as the ending of his earthly life. Nor is my reward (singleness?!) as satisfying as Heaven is for him. But I felt with him a kinship of soul and a better-than-normal beam of hope for what I was facing.

That our stories shared a common calendar date made the act of pilgrimage seem in order. So I went. That year on June 27 I took a friend and lingered around the top for an hour or two. I sought to honor the mysterious, sovereign, Composer of tunes which don’t always sound melodic to our human ears…the One who used a seemingly random grave marker to give me back some of the holy curiosity I lost in my tumble to the dry creekbed of what I really thought was love.

I went back again today. There were nine of us in the group this time, myself and some extended family of my brother Victor. We took our time and enjoyed the Blue Ridge Parkway, finally pulling into the parking lot at the peak in early afternoon. As we approached the gravel walk that winds its way to the summit, and the grave of Rev. Mitchell, a gate blocked the way. No one was allowed past that point because of construction of a new observation tower at the top. No sign or other verbal notice of such had been provided for travelers along the Parkway making this out-of-the-way journey. And once there, no park personnel breathed any mention of this day’s sesquicentennial significance.

For a state that prides itself on doing things the “right” way, North Carolina, you really mishandled this unreproducable opportunity.

As we walked through the small visitors’ center and park store, the lights flickered and thunder boomed around us on Mitchell’s mountain. It continued, under heavy skies, until we were gone, and perhaps it hasn’t stopped, yet. In the end, maybe that was a better remembrance than the likely and standardized ceremony that clergy or academicians or politicians would have imposed, anyway.

One-hundred, fifty years beyond our earthly reach…rest on, sir.

Published in: on June 28, 2007 at 12:02 am  Comments (3)  

The Longest Day of the Year.6


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I pointed the kayak back upstream to take this shot, at 8:20 PM. Two photos later, the battery in my camera took the rest of the day off. The remainder of the paddle back to the landing was just as beautiful…and sometimes mysterious. Several times, something large under the water would swirl out of the way as I approached.

An Osprey launched from its nest on a power pole. It swooped low over the water, in the manner of a Bald Eagle fishing, but that’s not the way Ospreys hunt. (They dive, feet first from high above, making a big splash.) It dipped its feet into the water, trailing a silver cut across the surface for twenty feet or so, and then did it again. Was it washing blood and fish scales off its feet after a meal?

Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Barred Owls called from dark, leafy places along the river. And back near the landing, five Mallard hens (obviously tame, but nevertheless entertaining) swam up to the kayak and paddled with me for a while, probably wanting a handout, but really looking like they thought I was some magnificent red duck they wanted to meet.

Summer’s official, now. I hope the long days and hot nights are full of adventure and reflection for each of you who need such things. Enjoy the water when you can.

Published in: on June 22, 2007 at 12:58 pm  Comments (2)  

The Longest Day of the Year.5


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In an earlier posting (“New Boat on the River”, May 15, 2007) I mentioned the endangered Rocky Shoals Spider Lilies. Here is a photo of some where I didn’t expect them. The well-known rapids of Landsford Canal are full of them, but this site is perhaps two miles downriver from there. Could a new colony be developing, or is this just an isolated, anomalystic occurrance? This location — between the ends of two large islands — has few rocks, making establishment of a new group seem unlikely.

The balance of bright white flowers against dark water and woods made this a soothing place to float quietly in the twilight.

(In case you haven’t realized it yet, the best view of these pictures is obtained by clicking on the photo, which will link you to the Flickr page. Once there, click the “all sizes” icon just above the photo for the full-size view.)

Published in: on June 22, 2007 at 12:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Longest Day of the Year.4


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Here’s another view of the “island”. It wouldn’t take much of an increase in river level to turn this into underwater rocks.

I found that moving in and out of the rocks was a lot of fun in this kayak. It responds instantly to paddle instructions, and the slow-moving water of the wide Catawba was easy to negotiate.

Published in: on June 22, 2007 at 11:47 am  Leave a Comment  

The Longest Day of the Year.3


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A little before 7:00 I started looking for a place to stop and eat. Picking my way through very shallowly submerged rocks, I came to this island. Okay, it’s not much of an island, but it was a great place for a tiny picnic of cottage cheese, a genuine SC peach, and one of those wonderful lemon yogurt granola bars from Nature Valley.

I sat on the rock and watched the minnows swim near my toes while I ate. This spot in the middle of the river was both fully exposed and isolated. On this entire paddle of 3.5 hours, I only saw one boat, and it was landing as I approached, near the beginning of my trip. From here the only sounds were natural ones, including the low roar of rapids upstream, softened by the distance of several hundred yards.

After leaving my island, I paddled up to the rapids, moving through the shadow of west bank trees. I was careful not to stray into the churning since I still like my boat and don’t want to see it battered. I avoided all contact with hidden rocks until, on the way back downstream, moving through one of the trickier sections, one sneaked up on me faster than I was expecting and gave me a gentle bump under the front hatch. It left a few scratches, but nothing serious.

Published in: on June 22, 2007 at 11:27 am  Leave a Comment