Zeta in the Woods

great storm of 2020

But he that shall hear me, shall rest without terror, and shall enjoy abundance, without fear of evils.

Proverbs 1:33

I often wonder what St. John of the Cross’s weblog would have looked like had he had one. It is to his everlasting thanks, no doubt, that he was spared the ignominy of having the internet around in his day. It’s uncharted territory, though, for the most part. Realistically, in the 2000 years of the Church, how many priests have had weblogs?

As to this effort, I think we can all agree that this is in no way shape, or form intended to be an award-winning, trend-setting, website. As more people read it, clearly it will have to evolve into something of less ignominy. In the end, it started as a journal for a few friends, and it’s still that overall.

Life is Good

That being said, too, it’s difficult to get the good sisters down out here in the forest. Easy to get some trees down, but even that was a task for Zeta as it blew through. The hours of rain were perfect to sit around reading. The winds were alarming after a while, then stopped so abruptly I thought we must be in the eye – come to find out, we were. I’ll always remember Zeta as being in the eye of the storm; as if I’ve survived some deep personal trauma that few can understand. Sustained hurricane-force winds are never pleasant though, and at least they didn’t last 12 hours.

The sisters are a delight to spend time with. Sr. Mary Claire on the left has the exact same expression I would have if someone were taking my picture the morning after a late-season hurricane during cleanup efforts, while I was still working on getting a decent cup of coffee going. And Sr. Charista on the right is warding off the chill of the early fall (we’re in the deep south, so yes it’s an early fall chill being late October,) whilst perusing the fallout. It’s not that bad overall.

Sometimes it’s all about the Trees

The trees that get bent over in storms stay this way until you straighten them out with a tractor, or some such. It’s not difficult, it’s just a matter of getting to it with everything else that needs to be done. And if you don’t have a tractor, there’s still ropes, bodyweight, cars – gotta be resourceful. The leaves all over the place, the small limbs, the shingles, tiles, fence boards, etc – it takes time getting to everything.

Pine trees don’t usually bend like this. What they usually do is snap in two as they’re very brittle. During Gustav, I was gazing out upon a bank of pines when suddenly one snapped and fell to the ground. All the images one ever sees of trees gracefully being pushed over by the wind, or falling to the ground in a well-cushioned fall, parachuting down by its leafy canopy, go right out the window when you watch a pine tree fall.

What actually happens with pines is that they snap around the middle then plummet to he ground as quickly as if you dropped a cup of hot coffee near the stove. (Not that you would ever do that, dear reader, but still it would fall that quickly and alarmingly.)

How long, O Lord, how long?

How long will we be without power? How long will 2020 last? What would St. John of the Cross’s weblog have looked like had he had one? What will I do with this website once I’ve learned everything I can learn from it and finally moved on? When will you deal a crushing blow to my enemies and scatter them over the face of the earth? When at last will I see you face to face, leaving behind my own mortal wounds and dwelling solely upon your great, magnificent, majesty and grace?

Hurricane Zeta was a breeze, admittedly a very strong and sustained one. It will take a while to clean up – but that’s a storm for you.

Prayers for all those deeply affected.


The River, the Clouds and the Flowers


I know you’re probably expecting something to do with the Queenship of Mary today. Or the election. Or any number of prescient issues aside from photography.

But I’ve had zero time to devote to photography lately and just have to get it out of my system, darnit.

And look at that river! And those clouds! And that sky!

Ah, the river… the clouds… the sky…. things to gaze upon and give thanks to God. And certainly to give thanks to him for the Queenship of Mary, who no doubt would gaze upon this peaceful scene quite lovingly, while perhaps being thankful that one of her Priests was photographing the scene for the enjoyment of others.

But, I’m concerned that I haven’t really made any strides in my understanding of exposure.


Hence this strange shot of the clouds.

One thing I do understand is that digital photos have a limited range of dynamic contrast, which is why some areas of this image are darker than they should be. The light is too strong in the clouds, and too dark on the river.

Overexposed Clouds

Still, because I had a fascination with the image when I took it, I tried to manipulate it in photoshop. But it never turned out right; it always turned out sort of like this. Well, perhaps not as strange, but I’m not out to win any contests here, just to demonstrate the dilemma of trying to work with a lousy photo which could have been, just hazarding a guess here, a very good photo.

Some areas of the clouds take on drama, and you can make out the storm in the background, but the river itself looks grainy, and the whole thing looks fake.

So sad.

river bw

Putting the whole thing in black and white… well, it’s the same issue ridden photograph in black and white.

Maybe someone with better photoshopping skills could get this to look better. But a better photographer would have taken a beter picture in the first place, and wouldn’t even be having this conversation because the photoshopping would have been at minimum, the picture would have been great, and that would be that.

Or, he or she would have just deleted the photo outright.

So, moving on from this, the photo itself seems like it could have been really cool, but I need to learn and practice, some more skills.


It’s either that or stick to flowers.

But hey, that’s what hobbies are for, to find some spare moments and spend them productively, learning and practicing something enjoyable. And, to have time to give thanks to God for making such a beautiful world for all of us to live in; it’s definitely worth taking more pictures and trying to get it right.

Storm Clouds of the Deep South

Fair Setup

My new book, Storm Clouds of the Deep South, will be a fascinating retrospective of the amazing storm clouds which always seem to be gathering around here.

Fair Setup

Ok, just kidding. Fair Setup continued all day today with the setup of the rides. Later in the afternoon this storm started blowing in.

Fair Setup

These guys were taking it in stride; they really enjoy this setup business.

They were also probably enjoying the cooler air which was flowing down from the tops of the storm.

Fair Setup

I’m always amazed by cloud formations. I’m also amazed at the ride setup, but look at those clouds!

Fair Setup

I know I’ll be riding the Ferris Wheel all weekend long. (Actually, and to be honest, it would break. My car would plummet down mercilessly from the heights as those below me cursed my ongoing diet.)

Fair Setup

Fair Setup is an interesting process, everything has to be leveled out, and tested over and over again.

Which is certainly a good thing of course.

The great news is that all of this is just a front: the weather will be cool and clear for the fair this weekend.

Should be a great time!

The Rev. Kenneth Allen