Thursday, January 28, 2010

Theme Thursday - Impression... Oh Yeah, and Felt

This theme was doing nothing for me, and I was planning to sit it out this week. But late last night something occurred to me; I grabbed the camera and decided to do my famous [sic] impressions. I promise I'll never do this to you again!

"I am not a crook!" Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon

"Bully!" Teddy Roosevelt, inspired by my American History professor in college, who loved to do Teddy impressions.

Ebenezer Scrooge, counting his money.

Oh yeah... This is a piece of felt, just to cover the other theme.

After all that, you probably already know what video is coming. Yup, Rich Little, the King od the impressionists. Enjoy!

Photos & text © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lost In the Music

I was once again watching Alanis Morissette's Feast on Scraps concert DVD, and as usual I was struck by how the band gets lost in the music and seems to go into a collective trance state while they play. Alanis herself often whirls like a Mevlevi dervish and vocalizes not unlike a Pentecostal speaking in tongues. Guitarist Jason Orm especially, of all the backing musicians, seems to go into a trance, closing his eyes and tilting his head back and just letting his fingers do what they know to do. It's a moving experience to watch them perform.

Music has the ability to move us to a different place than the one our bodies are inhabiting. Music, especially heavily rhythmic music, creates an ecstatic trance state and is often used by religious mystics to achieve "union" with their divinity. It loosens inhibition, and dancing to this kind of musc often becomes quite erotic. And it's this ability to create ecstasy, this ability to move a human being beyond the bonds and inhibitions of the body, that frightens fundamentalist or totalitarian religious/political hierarchies to ban it. What was the first thing the Ayatollah Khomeini's regime did on taking over Iran? They banned popular and Sufi music. Ditto the Taliban in Afghanistan. Pakistan's world-famous qawwal singers (qawwal is another Sufi-inspired trance music, but based on Indian musical styles and techniques) are banned by the Taliban in the Northwest Provinces and whenever there's a hard-line Islamic government in control in the rest of the country. The Nazi regime in Germany in the 1930s banned American Jazz and various modern composers (Hitler especially despised the woks of Igor Stravinsky, most notably his Rite of Spring), as did the Soviet and Maoist communist regimes, for the same reasons.

In America, various conservative and fundamentalist Protestant churches preach against the Blues, Jazz, R&B, and Rock & Roll, for the very same reasons - the release of inhibition scares the willies out of them. American popular music was often the target of hellfire-and-brimstone sermons in the revival tents of the early 20th Century, and even now the so-called "Religious right" considers much of American popular music to be degrading and a sign that Satan rules triumphant in the US.

There are American Christians who let loose under the influence of music. They're Pentecostals, especially the African-American Pentecostal churches, who believe that the Holy Spirit comes down and moves them, often in scenes like this, a praise break led by preacher Richard Smallwood:

Whew! I'm all worked up just watching that! Those folks got the Spirit for sure! But most white evangelical and fundamentalist churches, and even some African-American churches, condemn this as secular exhibitionism if not outright demon possession, rather than as possession by the Holy Spirit. They point at it's descent from African dance (which is both secular and religious) and the dedication of that dance to African deities they consider demons. Of course they're right about it having descended from African dance, as this video clip from a dance party in Guinea, West Africa demonstrates when compared to the dancing in the praise break video:

You know, I feel really sorry for the people who just can't let go and let the moment take over, and who feel it their duty to condemn those who can. They inhabit a narrow, bleak, colorless, stark, and claustrophobic universe of their own invention, a prison they themselves have created, and ruled over by a god, also of their own invention, who is as narrow and colorless as they are. How can they live like that? And can how they live really be considered living?

Meanwhile, those of us who inhabit the real universe listen and dance to music that lifts us up and transports us. And I'll continue to watch Alanis and the gang as the awen descends and moves "Sympathetic Character" above mere music and takes it into the realm of transcendence.

Artwork & text © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Surprise Visit, Plus a Birthday Celebration

Yesterday's every-other-Sunday bird walk was interesting, but it was a day for binoculars rather than cameras. The funniest part of the day was listening to a White-throated Sparrow trying to warm up for his Spring mating calls. Unfortunately he was sounding pretty rusty; his call wobbled a good bit and sounded a lot like a tape recording that somebody kept putting a finger on.

But afterward I went down to Gooseneck Cove at Hazard Rd. Mostly it was the same old Mallards and American Black Ducks (nope, no Hoodies or Mute Swans today), bu as I went back up the road to head into town, I froze. Three yearling White-tailed Deer were emerging from the reeds. They froze two, and kept giving me the wary eye. The two in the reeds nearest the road eventually relaxed when I didn't move, but the one behind them on the shore of the Cove stayed frozen in place. Eventually I decided I wanted to get moving, and they ended up running out of the reeds and up the road in front of me to disappear into the woods farther up the way. Here are the three best shots.

As to the birthday celebration... Today is Robert Burns' birthday, or as they call him in Scotland, Robbie Burrrrns. Scots all over the world will be celebrating Burns Night tonight with a Burns Supper and singing of Burns' songs and the recitation of Burns' poems. Being an admirer of old Robbie and a great fan of Scots music and culture, I thought I'd put up a little something in celebration of the holiday. So here's Scotland's cultural ambassador to the world, Jean Redpath, singing one of Robbie's songs, "Now Westerlin' Winds". Enjoy!

Photos & text © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Farewell, Kate

The sad news came on Tuesday that Kate McGarrigle had passed away on Monday, January 18. The cancer she'd been battling for several years finally won. She was 63.

Kate and her sister Anna are legendary in the folk music world. Their unique sound just can't be described, but you only needed to hear them once to be able to identify them within the first few measures of a song from then on. Kate sitting at the piano or playing accordion, Anna on guitar, they sang songs, their own and those of others, in English or in French, that left you sighing when the last note drifted off into silence. I first heard them in 1974; I was dating a woman who just happened to have a copy of Kate and Anna's Dancer With Bruised Knees album, and I've been hooked ever since.

Kate was married for a time to Loudon Wainwright III, and they had two children, Rufus and Martha. Both children are as gifted as their parents and are active performing artists these days. Kate may have gone away, but she's left us the dual legacy of her recorded work with her sister and the music of her children. That's a rich heritage anyone could be proud of!

I want to leave you with some music from Kate and her family. This first video is of Kate and Anna singing their song "Talk To Me of Mendocino", from the 1990 Transatlantic Session, here joined by Karen Matheson.

This second video is an example of the McGarrigle Sisters' Canadian heritage - they sang French and French Canadian songs as often as they sang in English. This is "Ce Matin", from a concert in Chicago some time in the 1990s, with Joel Zifkin on fiddle.

And last, a version of Stephen Foster's "Hard Times Come No More" from the 1990 Transatlantic Session, with a lot of friends. That's Kate and son Rufus there at the beginning, and solos are also taken by Mary Black, and Emmylou Harris. A fitting farewell!

Text © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Theme Thursday - Bread

“Good bread is the most fundamentally satisfying of all foods; and good bread with fresh butter, the greatest of feasts.”
– James Beard (1903-1985)

"Bread deals with living things, with giving life, with growth, with the seed, the grain that nurtures. It's not coincidence that we say bread is the staff of life."
– Lionel Poilâne, French baker (1945-2002)

If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.
– Robert Browning, English poet, (1812-1889)

[Note: The photo is of two rye bread loaves I baked yesterday and arranged in a still life on my counter while they were still hot out of the oven.]

One of the most common rituals of family and communal life is breaking bread together. I found two versions of this practice on YouTube. The first is "Breakin' Bread" by '60s and '70s soul group Fred Wesley and the New JBs. This is such a great tune!

The next video is a short film called "Breaking Bread", created by a 48-hour film class at NOVAC (New Orleans Video Access Center). This is a cool little film. Enjoy!

Photo © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sight & Sound - Beauty Way

In beauty may I walk
All day long may I walk
Through the returning seasons may I walk
Beautifully I will possess again
Beautifully birds
Beautifully joyful birds
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk
With dew about my feet may I walk
With beauty may I walk
With beauty before me may I walk
With beauty behind me may I walk
With beauty above me may I walk
With beauty all around me may I walk
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk
It is finished in beauty
It is finished in beauty

– Diné (Navajo) Beauty Way ceremony

Music: "Arrival", by Douglas Spotted Eagle on his 1996 CD Closer to Far Away. The music is based on parts of the Beauty Way ceremony and features Douglas, Brian Keane, Indian Creek Drum Group (singing the chant), and Linda Dee (reciting parts of the chant near the end).

Photo © 2008 by A. Roy Hilbinger
PS - This post inspired me to write another post for the Just A Song blog, about Native American jazz saxophonist Jim Pepper's song "Witchi Tai To"; don't forget to check it out.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hoodie Heaven

I went down to Gooseneck Cove today and discovered that Hooded Mergansers were still down there in full force. There were about a dozen today, equally divided between male and female. Twelve birds doesn't sound like much, and I know that bigger groups have been counted in different coves and backwaters along Narragansett Bay, but this is unusual for Gooseneck Cove this late in the season. We usually see large groups of Hoodies on the Cove in November, but then they've usually split up and headed for other calm salt waters elsewhere for the rest of the Winter. I think the restoration project from last Winter that improved the tidal salt flow farther up the Cove has brought us this new influx of Hoodies, and I hope to see more in the future. Here are today's two best shots.

Of course, Hoodies weren't the only birds on the water. There were also four Red-breasted Mergansers, two drakes and two hens. Here's one of the hens.

There were a bunch of Mallards out today as well, and lo and behold, swimming among them was Ol' Blue Beak. That's the name a couple of us have given a hybrid Mallard-Northern Pintail drake who's been showing up on Gooseneck Cove for the last several years. He has Mallard colors arranged in Pintail markings, as well as the Pintail's blue beak and long, curled tail-feathers. Here he is in all his glory.

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Old Beach Road

I went out the door this morning intending to hit the two big ponds behind Easton's Beach - Easton's (aka "Big") Pond and Green End (aka "North") Pond - to check out the waterfowl populations who winter there. On Easton's Pond there are usually mixed rafts of Mallards, Green and Blue-winged Teal, Ruddy Ducks, Canvasbacks, Lesser Scaup, and of course the ubiquitous, noisy rafts of Canada Geese. And Green End Pond is the Winter home to large numbers of Common Mergansers, with some Hooded Mergansers hanging around the fringes.

But alas, it wasn't to be! The cold weather we've been having since before Christmas has both ponds frozen over. The thought that this might be occurred to me halfway there, so I changed my route to arrive at a place where I could see both ponds at once, and sure enough, when I got there it was pretty obvious that there was no open water in sight. So I went back towards town to pick a route to head towards the beach, and ended up walking down Old Beach Rd.

And the first thing I saw heading down Old Beach Rd. was this fine example (above left) of a Red-tailed Hawk cruising over the area. It landed way up in an old Beech tree that was situated so that I had to shoot through considerable branch and twig interference to get a good shot; I kept moving around to find holes in the undergrowth, and the spot from which I got this shot was the best one.

Farther down the road it passes by the moat and berm that surround Easton's Pond (the moat carries run-off from the pond); the moat is moving water and some of the ducks hang out there if the pond is frozen over, so I headed there in hopes of getting a shot of something today. While I was walking, I heard the usual Corvine racket, and looked up in the tree I was passing to see a Crow up there fussing at me. He was in a conversational mood and seemed willing to pose, so I clicked away. The shot that came out best has him with his beak open in mid-caw. Typical pose; they never shut up!

And of course the ubiquitous Mallards were swimming around in the moat, so I got a nice photo shoot there, too. These two shots worked the best.

So today's walk wasn't a total loss!

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Friday, January 15, 2010

Some Winter Birds

I was on the Cliff Walk yesterday and captured these two - a Song Sparrow chipping away at me on a Beach Rose branch, and a Red-breasted Merganser drake. There's a story on the drake (isn't there always a story with me?). The hen of the couple had come up from a dive with something in her beak that was really giving her a fight; I couldn't really tell what it was from that distance, but I took some pictures (they didn't come out very well with all her shaking her head around with the thing in her beak), but blowing a couple of them up showed me something that might have been a Sea Cucumber. In any case, the drake saw her thrashing around with the thing and came speeding up, although I don't think he was coming to save her; I stongly suspect he came intending to steal it from her. Why? Because by the time he got there she'd subdued it and eaten it, and when he saw that he drifted off again. Greedy bugger!

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Theme Thursday - Surface

Surfaces come in all kinds.

Rain on a pond's surface.

Water drops on an old porcelain sink.

Ice on rock.

Skin - the back of my hand.

Wood - my bamboo chopping block.

And what better tune for a "surface" theme than Cole Porter's "I've Got you Under My Skin" sung by Ol' Blue Eyes? Enjoy!

Photos & text © 2009 & 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Coming and Going

Out walking this morning, I was in Battery Park, which overlooks the upper part of Newport Harbor and the Newport/Pell Bridge, when I noticed that what I had first thought was a mooring buoy was moving. Out came the binoculars, and lo and behold, it was a male Common Goldeneye duck! So out came the telephoto lens, and I got these shots of the duck swimming toward me, posing for a field guide shot, and swimming away. I almost expected him to hand me a bill for his modeling services!

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Scenes from Sunday

I was supposed to be on the every-other-Sunday bird walk this morning, but my ride decided he wasn't going this week without letting me know that! So I went on my own extended bird walk. Most of what I saw was through binoculars and well out of camera range, but I saw: another Hooded Merganser drake on Gooseneck Cove among the usual Mallards; 12 Black Scoters, 10 male Harlequin ducks, and 10 Common Eiders off the rocks at the end of Ledge Rd; a Common Goldeneye off the Cliff Walk near the end of Seaview Ave.; and around 200 Common Eiders in three rafts way out on the water in Easton's Bay. In the meantime, here are some shots I got in the course of my walk.

An "icefall" on the rocks on the western end of the Twin Ledges Trail in Ballard Park. This particular ice formation builds up on this spot every Winter. And it's only half of what it will become before the thaw hits it. give it a couple more weeks and it'll be a solid wall of ice with some interesting ripples and textures. Oh, and in case you can't tell, it was cold today; I spent about 5 1/2 hours outdoors in temps that never got above 25ºF (-4ºC), and I definitely needed a mug of hot chai masala when I got home.

A Hooded Merganser drake on Gooseneck Cove, this time with no snow falling between the camera and the subject! And this one was actually close enough that I didn't have to use the telephoto lens. Not for long, though; after about 3 or 4 minutes he booked.

A Meadow Jumping Mouse taking a break from foraging for seeds to absorb some Winter sunshine along Ocean Drive. I thought it was a tad chilly for a little mouse to be out and about, but he seemed quite comfy all bundled up in his fluffed-up fur coat.

And that was my walk today.

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Once - A Movie Review

I normally don't do movie reviews; I have friends here and there on the Internet who do a far better job at that than I do. But I stumbled across this DVD in my local public library, found the blurb on the back cover interesting, took it home, put it in the DVD player... and entered heaven! I couldn't help but let everybody else know about this, too.

This is such an intimate little movie, shot with one camera (often hand-held) in the streets of Dublin and in the homes of the people involved in the movie, and shot in available light rather than spend precious budget money on lighting systems. And except in maybe two cases, all the actors weren't actors at all, but just everyday people. It was an extended (85 minutes) home movie. And it works brilliantly!

Basically, Once (filmed in 2006 and released in 2007) is about the lives of musicians on the "starving artist" level, only able to practice their art on a limited basis in order to keep a roof over their heads and food in their stomachs. The focus is on the Guy (played by Glen Hansard), a guitarist singer-songwriter who busks on the streets of Dublin when not working for his father in a vacuum-cleaner repair business, and the Girl, played by Markéta Irglová, a Czech immigrant with a small daughter who plays piano and sings but makes ends meet by selling magazines and flowers on the street. The Guy is good but has no confidence in his talent. It takes the Girl to recognize that talent and do her best to bring it out. They strike up a friendship and begin writing songs together, and eventually she helps him get studio time to put together a demo disc (backed by a street band who seem to make their living playing Thin Lizzie covers) to take to London in hopes of finally going professional.

Reading that, you might suspect a love story. Well, not really. The Guy has an ex-girlfriend he really wants to get back together with who lives in London. The Girl is married with a small daughter, and her husband still lives in the Czech Republic. Both couples are estranged, but the Guy and the Girl are intent on putting things back together. The thing is, when they get into the music, they're absolute magic together; their voices blend with no effort at all, and their songwriting collaborations are exquisite. So naturally an attraction builds and almost bursts into bloom several times. But in the end, the Guy goes to London to further his musical career, and the Girl finally convinces her husband to come to Dublin. But they've given each other such wondrous gifts: the Girl basically finances the studio session by haggling with the studio owner and playing one of their livingroom tapes for the bank loan officer to get the money to pay for the studio time; and before leaving for London the Guy buys a piano for the Girl (she has to practice on the instruments in a music shop because she has no piano at home) and has it delivered to her flat. They may not become romantically involved, but they leave a lasting impression on each others' lives. In the end, you come away from this movie with a deep sigh that's half sadness for what might have been and half contentment for a reasonably happy ending.

What really makes this movie work as well as it does is the casting. While Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová aren't actors, they are working, professional musicians who had already been working together as songwriters for a couple of years before the movie was made. And in fact it was the musical connection that pretty much created the movie in the first place. Hansard has a band called The Frames, and John Carney, the movie's director and screenwriter, had played bass in the band for a while. It was his intimacy with the world of struggling musicians that spurred him to make the movie, and naturally he recruited people he knew from that world to be a part of it. It's the chemistry between Glen and Markéta that makes this movie the magical thing that it is, both in their relationship and in the music they create together (yes, they wrote the songs performed in the movie). And that relationship continues. For a brief time during and after the making of the movie they became romantically involved, but that didn't work. They are still very close friends, and these days they tour as The Swell Season (visit their website here).

For such a small, cheap (it was shot for €130,000, about US $160,000) movie starring two non-actors, this movie made quite a splash when it came out in 2007. It made much more money than anyone had a right to expect, and garnered great reviews from just about all the major reviewers (see the "Critical Reaction" section in the movie's Wikipedia article). It appeared at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The soundtrack got two Grammy nominations, the movie itself won the 2008 Independent Spirit Award for best foreign film, and the song "Falling Slowly" won the 2007 Oscar for best original song. And accolade of accolades, Steven Spielberg was quoted as saying: "A little movie called Once gave me enough inspiration to last the rest of the year." That's major magic for a little movie that only took 17 days to shoot on a budget of $160,000!

Get this movie! You can visit the movie's official Fox Searchlight (the movie's distributor) website. You can get the movie itself as an mp4 digital download from iTunes, as well as the soundtrack album. Or you can buy the DVD directly from Fox (at a decent discount, at the moment). I suggest buying the DVD rather than the digital download; the DVD has some great background and behind-the-scenes documentaries that are really worth watching.

So what's all the fuss all about? Here are some examples. First, take a look at the trailer:

Then there's this video of the Oscar-winning song, "Falling Slowly". This scene is especially poignant because it's the first time Guy and Girl play together. They've only recently met, and he's just found out that she's a musician, too. Girl takes him to the piano store where they let her play on the instruments there, and he drags out the lyrics to the song and gives her the basics of the chord progressions in the different segments of the song. And when they launch into the thing, pure magic happens. I couldn't find a video of that scene in the movie (at least, one that worked), but this video is a live in concert version from their 2007 tour as The Swell Season. I like this because it captures the feel of the movie scene quite well.

There were some great scenes in the recording studio. There's an absolutely gorgeous scene with the song "Fallen from the Sky", which favors a drum machine beat and chords on a cheap Casio keyboard that's delightful, and the scene includes a visit by Girl's mother and her daughter; it's cute and playful as all get-out. Unfortunately the clip doesn't exist on YouTube. But this scene, the recording of the first song, "When Your Mind's Made Up", has great music as well as the reaction of the recording engineer Eamon, who goes into this expecting terrible schlock from a bunch of rank amateurs, only to discover that these guys are good. The reactions on his face are priceless!

And that's my review of the movie that has just become my all-time favorite. Find yourself a copy and enjoy!

Review © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Friday, January 08, 2010

This Just In!

Oh my ears and whiskers! The famous Blogger raconteur known as The Silver Fox hath bestowed an award on one of my blog posts. He's created his own award for blogging excellence called the Thrust Home Award (Note: The award itself was designed by the Foxter's partner in crime, er art, Skip Simpson). Here's the description in his own words:

This award will be given by me, and no one else, and generally to only one recipient at a time. (Today, however, there will be an exception to this rule. More later.)

I'll only give the award to those whose posts have truly "thrust home" with me, so even my best friends on the 'net might never get one.

The award will usually go to a post of what I, in my infinite -- or should that be infinitesimal? -- wisdom, deem to be of general import and interest... but that may be fudged once in a while to reflect my own biases. (My award, my stupid rules. Deal with it.)

There will be no set frequency for the giving of the award. It's not a weekly or monthly kinda thing. I might give two in a given week. I might give one, and then not give another for months.

Theoretically, a recipient of The Silver Fox's Thrust Home Award! may win once, twice... or 47 times! This is an award for individual blog posts, not for blogs!

Recipients would be asked to mention their receipt of said award on their own sites, along with a corresponding link to my own. And a little blurb on your sidebar -- feel free to copy and paste the graphic, of course! -- would be greatly appreciated.

Winners are not allowed to give this award to others.

Other than that, awardees are not asked to do anything else. Heck, you've already done it!

Foxy, under those conditions I am proud and honored to accept this award. And I'll proudly display the award in my sidebar as soon as I post this.

Oh, and in case you're wondering which particular post the Foxy One awarded, it's this one.

This just made my week!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Theme Thursday - Polka Dot

Well, I don't have any photos of things polka-dotted, and I did a whole post on Polka - the music and the dance - not too very long ago, I was kinda stuck, especially since I don't post any photos but my own (well, except for the public domain shot of the Hedgehog for Groundhog Day). But I had me an idea, so I opened Photoshop and played around, and this was the result:

Meanwhile, I found some interesting videos to go with this. NOT the "Yellow Polka-dot Bikini" song; and decided to be merciful and spare you that earworm. I did find some nice videos of Jimmy Van Heusen's and Johnny Burke's "Polka Dots and Moonbeams", though. Not the Sarah Vaughn version, drat the luck! But here's a nice version with Johnny Desmond singing with the Ray McKinley GM Orchestra:

And purely for giggles, I found this great 1948 Tom & Jerry cartoon, "Polka-Dot Puss". Enjoy!

Graphic & text © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger
PS - Sorry I was so late getting this posted; the Verizon Broadband service in my area code was down until a little after noon. And there I was all ready to upload everything at 8 this morning!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


I went up to the "big city" today to do some shopping. I brought the camera along (I always bring the camera along), but I wasn't focused on photography. Until this panorama caught my eye on the way back to Kennedy Plaza to catch the bus back to Newport. This is pretty much all of Providence's "skyline", except for the Biltmore and Weston hotels, which are off to the photo's right, and some very tall residential buildings out of the frame to the left. The tall buildings are the financial district, and the buildings in the foreground are part of the old Union Station, which is now a cultural and gastronomic center.

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, January 03, 2010

A Cold Winter Day

The snow of the last few days kicked up a notch or two overnight; we got some more snow, but the temperatures plummeted and the wind earned itself a high wind advisory. At 8:30 this morning it was 15º F (-9º C) with a windchill of -3º F (-19º C). I was considering forgoing my usual Sunday constitutional. But I went out to shovel and sweep the night's very light snow off the walk and porches and in the process decided I could keep warm in this, so off I went after the shoveling was done.

In town and in the trees of Ballard Park it was just a cold day that I had no problems with, but Hazard Rd. at Gooseneck Cove is wide open to the wind, and it was downright frigid there. There was still some snow falling, and in that wind it was coming down almost horizontally. Still, I got some decent shots before my fingers threatened to freeze and fall off after being exposed in order to work the camera; five minutes was all they could stand. Anyhow, here are today's frigid photos.

Icicles on the rock face along the Twin Ledges Trail.

The rock at the intersection of the Twin Ledges and Southwest Trails.

A female Downy Woodpecker in the reeds along Hazard Rd. She was pecking away at the reed stems and I caught sight of something in her beak once or twice. Either she stored things in these hollow stems earlier in the Fall, or there were frozen bugs in there.

A Red-breasted Merganser couple on Gooseneck Cove. Yes, those streaks are the snow in that wind. You can see why I only lasted 5 minutes there!

A Hooded Merganser drake on Gooseneck Cove. There were several out there, but he stayed the closest.

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Saturday, January 02, 2010

It's Still Snowing

I woke up to find that 4 more inches of light, fluffy snow had fallen overnight, and the forecast is for about that much more in light snow before the front finally moves off Sunday afternoon. This is real Roy-Heaven! It hasn't really stopped snowing all day today, it's just been a very, very light snowfall. As I had to go to the library today, I decided to wander a bit on the way home to get some nice, scenic shots. Tomorrow I'll do the grand tour of Ballard Park and Gooseneck Cove, which I'm sure will produce another crop of scenery. But today yielded some nice, almost domestic shots in a gentle walk around town.

My favorite cemetery, the Clifton Burying Ground, tucked in amongst the neighborhood's backyard gardens on the hill behind the Newport Public Library, today was tucked in snugly under a comfy blanket of snow.

The shops in the Victorian storefronts on the upper end of Bellevue Ave. across from the Viking Hotel.

A Federal-style brick house on Kay St, with it's wreath still on the door and the evergreens surrounding it covered in snow. This one's another candidate for a Christmas card!

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Friday, January 01, 2010


I took the scenic route to the grocery store today, walking down the Cliff Walk, cutting through the Salve Regina University campus, and walking up Bellevue Ave. to Stop & Shop. I took a few pictures on the way.

A lot of people seem to have gotten the urge to make snowmen along the Cliff Walk; I came across about six. This one turned out to be the only photogenic one.

There were two guys surfing off Ruggles Ave. today; this is the only shot that turned out well.

A Great Black-backed Gull posing on the rocks at Belmont Beach at the end of Marine Ave.

Wallace Hall on Ruggles Ave., one of the Salve Regina University properties. I liked how it looked in the snow.

Wakehurst in the snow. This former mansion owned by James J. Van Allen is now a Salve Regina property as well. You can read more about it here - there are some fascinating things about the architecture and the building in this article.

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger