Rocking B’s

At the entryway to Oyster Creek Park, I spotted them.

Grandmother and granddaughter sitting on a park bench, bonding over books.

The thumbnail photo of this bronze sculpture caught my attention when I scanned Sugar Land’s Public Art brochure. Of the ten such sculptures in the city, this is the only one I really cared to see.

Something about young and old, innocence and wisdom, reading and sharing. And the precious grandchildren in my own life.

When I arrived at the park entrance, I found no hints—maps, signage, arrows, etc.—of where this pair sat.

On instinct, my eyes swept to the ten o’clock position.

How did I know to start at ten? Why not eight, or three or…

Intuition? Silly girl, I thought. Be grateful and walk toward them.

Along the way, I spotted alligators and paint-can art. A dog learning to frisbee. A baby taking its first steps.

Picture taking and future blog posts. Of course.

As I walked, the bright-shining sun and a clear blue sky sparkled on my shoulders. Seventy degrees, the phone tells me. Mid-December? Winter begins in four days?

When I finally stood before the Grandmother and Granddaughter sculpture, B’s assaulted my vision: binoculars. book. bear. backpack. birds. bun. bench. braids. boards. buckles. blouse. buttons.

Twelve in a single shot. Why all the B’s? And why did I notice? Is that what real writers do?

I took a second picture of the sculpture.

Clean shot, I thought.

Only at home do I spot the next B. As in sunBeam.

The ray of sunlight was not there when I snapped the picture. I promise. 

When I saw the light, the word followed: Beam.  

My, that sounds like a song. Or a Bible verse. Egad. I digress.

Back to a photograph. We’re up to a baker’s dozen of B’s.

One final B surfaces as I stare at the image. It’s less obvious, but more special.

Bonding.

What happens when grandmothers and granddaughters Be together.

(Offered with heartfelt apologies to my writing teachers).

And now, we’re up to 15 B’s in a single Blog post.

Oops, that’s 16.

What a day for frisky, frivolous fun.

You’re lucky.

No F quiz follows.

Animals Watching Humans Watching Animals

6:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning and someone is knocking on my door. Surprisingly I was up, awake and dressed. How did this happen? I opened the door to see my friend standing there looking only slightly more awake than me.

Who’s idea was this?” I mumble.

Yours!” my friend replied.

He was right. This had been my idea. The Houston Zoo was hosting “Photo Day”. The only catch was that we had to arrive there at 7:00 a.m. Yikes, that was early. I used to get up at that godforsaken hour when I was employed, but not since I retired. Would my love of animals make this expedition worth while? We were about to find out.

In an email from the Zoo, we were told to bring whatever camera equipment we could carry. There would be a light breakfast and then we would have time to photograph the lions, tigers, and bears. I assumed that most of the attendants would take photos with their phones. Hardly anyone used actual cameras anymore.

Wow! Was I ever wrong. I haven’t seen that many cameras, lenses and tripods in one place since.….ever! A total geeky photo nerd convention. And, yes, I was right there in the middle of them. Here is what the crowd looked like when the picture taking commenced:

However, before the photo sessions began, we did enjoy a nice breakfast compliments of the Houston Zoo. Coffee and doughnuts and fruit…Oh My! While consuming sugar and caffeine, we gradually woke up and the sun came out. As photographers mingled around, I listened to several conversations:

This baby will zoom from 20 to 600.”

Yeah, but the 70D will shoot 7 fps continuous.”

I can’t believe I didn’t bring my polarizer.”

It cost a lot more than the f4.0, but I get better DOF control.”

Would you know what they were talking about? Me neither. I was way out of my league as far as how much I knew about operating my Canon camera. That’s why I brought my friend along. He’s an Engineer and knows pretty much how everything operates. He even brought his own monopod.

Soon we were off to see the lions. A male lion came outside, but did not walk very far. The keepers put out a lot of food to encourage the animals to move about, but this guy wasn’t that hungry. However, he was beautiful!

After visiting with the lion we moved over to the habitat for tigers. This wonderful creature was much more cooperative and walked around a lot while the “paparazzi” clicked away.

Then it was off to the bears! The two bears in their habitat were sisters. Their names were Bella and Willow. They walked around a good bit, but also spent a lot of time eating coconut. I watching these gals as they finished off the coconut and then gathered grapes and frozen fish. Is it my imagination or is Willow smiling at me?

Last, the male lion went back inside and three lionesses came out for their snacks and pictures. They were much more animated than their male counterpart.

All the while we were moving about to get the best possible pictures, Zoo keepers were talking to us about the animals. By the time Photo Day was over, my friend and I had taken approximately 350 pictures. I hoped I picked out some of the best to share with you.

Was it worth getting up before sunrise to do this? Yes! It was much more pleasant to wake up for Photo Day than to wake up to go to work!

Until next week.….

Bean vs. Bullet

When I arrived at Houston’s answer to Chicago’s Bean, all I saw was a Bullet.

Houston’s Bean — or Bullet?

Ellen’s post and pictures last week lured me back to the road, this time to the Cullen Sculpture Garden.

Call it a silver siren song. Gleaming, mirrored surfaces screamed out. Release pent-up creative energy. Retrieve roadtrip memories.

Three years ago, DH and I road-tripped to Chicago. A swing by its Bean was vital. We were too old for Lollapalooza but never too cranky for playtime. 

Chicago’s Bean lures joy-filled play.
Blondie holds up the Bean.

Remembering that long-ago pose, Houston beckoned the same treatment. Same dress. Different hair.

Happy pose notwithstanding, I hated Houston’s Bullet. Immediately.

Can you see the rope-like steel cable that wraps the granite base? It prevents human touch. Saving Windex money?

Look a little closer. See reflections of cracked eggshell below? Translation: metaphor for an ever-expanding urban area with its multiple, diverse personalities. Truth?

In the shadows loom omnipresent building cranes. Prepping walls and floors of concrete. Another anniversary this month. Hurricane Harvey; Houston floods. We pour more concrete this storm season?

Step a pace or two to the left. Spy the first thing to love of this Bullet art. A concave side revealing…a ghost? A baby bear?

What do you see?

Lay down this baby and she’s a bed for cradling. Lush bedding mandatory. Not now, though. It’s August in Houston.

Can I sleep here in December? A Christmas present to myself? No. Guards say “no touch! Ever!”

Fine. Playtime calls.

First. Let’s play compare & contrast. Look at the pair of images below. Ask, as I did: when did local art go to the birds?

Sculpture “Bird” frames Bullet
Bean previews H‑town?

Ah, Monday philosophizing about art — be it beans, bullets, bears, or birds — beats writing on a novel.

To life! To distraction!