Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blocked Street...........

Neighbor's cottonwood tree needed to come down. It was dropped into the street and then cut up into pieces and carted away.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A history in toys.......

I wanted to share this photo of a toy collection that I have among my treasures.  From a part of the "John and Iva" collections of things, was a circular cardboard ice cream container with lid.  Ice cream was sold in cylinder shapes in the 40's and it was a recycled box for these war toys.

The container was filled with these figures.  They gave them to me when I was in college. There are both WW 1 and WW 2  toys soldiers in this collection

I will blog more about these on my Larry's Creative Zone.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Snow free and warming up......

My visual weather forecaster is now totally snow free sitting in the sun.  As someone mentioned in an earlier blog, maybe I should bring him in this fall.

Sunday stuff.......

After visiting the Des Moines Art Center, I decided that I need to not be so concerned about my perfection as a photographer.  Granted there is no excuse for bad photo work, but there is a place for the abstract images that create modern, abstract design. Modern design throws out realism in some cases and leans on only a couple of the elements of design instead of all of the six design elements.
So today I share a photo of a new mug, leaning on color, value, and shape.  The mug has a saying inside of it saying that it doesn't get any better than this.  On a good day, I will make it my goal to see if I can photograph it clear, just to see that it can be done.  Because it is on and inside curve, the light becomes a problem.  To mock what I just said, I will probably prove that I can do better than this.

This is the outside illustration on the mug.  Have a great Sunday.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Abstract Day

I wanted to share this abstraction of my one fish.  Sometimes the camera wants to catch the moving object. The black and white fish is reflecting off of an orange fish.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Fish Photos.....

I was going to take photos of my fish that are in their winter tank in the basement during the winter time when I didn't have so much to do.  I never did achieve that goal, so today while I was down there, I took along the camera.   Remember that this is just a temporary tank so is isn't a great setup.  When I was taking photos I could see stacked picture frames in the background and the mulitplug for the pumps and light.

The basement is not very well lighted and the fish light didn't help a lot so I placed an old desk lamp at the end of the aquarium and projected some wattage into the 55 gallon tank.  This is one of my koi.  He is seven inches long now.  I won't be able to put him outside for another month, but I am sure he will be glad to get into the large area.
I have a lot of abstract photos that I will be sharing along the  way.  I took 48 shots to get about 14 good pictures. 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Looking up again........

I have far too many pictures of the Botanical Center, but I do have some wonderful shots from there. Our outside is still pretty brown so I have avoided shooting anything outside. I do have daffodil buds and I will be keeping an eye on them, with my Nikon in hand. I have a lot of koi pictures that will be coming around if I don't get my camera warmed up soon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Violet Power.....

I could get really suckered into buying every violet that I see but I am behaving myself.  I saw a pure red one at a Kmart last week and I held back.  The prices are so cheap anymore. Are they coming from China? I hope not. I can remember when you had to invest 6 or 7 bucks into them and now 3 to 4 dollars is the going rate. 
I planted seeds indoors today and also tried my hand at slipping violet leaves to start new plants.  I definitely am getting into this spring thing. This violet is really growing well in my dining room window.  I had to move them back a little as they were in direct sun.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I bought a new flower pot and these, on sale, succulents last fall. They have done very well in the house. I really wasn't sure if I could pull it off but they do like dry air and little water, and I gave them both of that.

I let them get too dry in the spare room and had to give them a reviving soaking. They also get to set now in the new large dining room window and they are making me proud.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Seeing Red.........

Red with yellow green accents on the coleus making a bold statement for you.  I like the subtle blue flowers in the back peaking through.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Gerbera Sunday......

An informal arrangement of daisies and a few impatience blooms too.  I hope Sunday turns out to be a good day.  I wish you all well.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Grandpa and Grandma.........

Leroy Martin Brown married Mabel Zella Wheeler in July. 1913.  They had three children, Marvin, Kenneth and Zella Marie Brown, my mother.

My Grandfather Leroy Brown was born in Illinois.  I don't know the first name of his father as he died when Leroy was three years old.  I know nothing about that side of the family other than the Great Grandfather Brown of mine who died,  was married to a Rosella Mason. They had one other son besides Leroy. I have some documents to still figure out with this set of people and  I think I do have the info, I just need to get it straightened out so I can understand it. It  was all in my mother's things. 
And no, this is not the person Jim Croce wrote about in his song "Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown." I will someday know the day Leroy was born as he is buried in the Macksburg, Iowa in the Moon Cemetery with my Grandmother.  Leroy died in 1937.

My Grandmother, Mabel Zella Wheeler Brown was born in 1897.  She was a sister to six brothers.  I have a scant few pictures of her brothers, Weaver, Lee, Elga, Colis, Elva and one more unknown to me. I did know three of her brothers and their wives. 

She was sixteen when she became married.  They lived very poor lives moving from place to place. My mother said that she was at a different country school every year until she went into high school. In some ways I think maybe the rent was due and they had to move on.  My Grandmother was the one that they called when babies were born.  Mom said they would call on her and she would be gone sometime more than two weeks.  She never got paid for it and it made things tough at home. 

Her husband, my grandfather died in 1937 of TB, they would have been married 24 years.  I don't know a lot about him but my brothers and I had a feeling that he was not a very successful man. From some of the stories, I know that he was a grave digger, but there must have other things that he worked at in his life.  Some of his casual pictures makes me wonder if he was a gruff guy, or just plain need glasses.

I have a couple of cousins that do look like him and I believe his one son probably resembled him.  Leroy is on the far right side of the group of fishermen.

Here is where the story gets more complicated. My great grandmother as I mentioned at the top was Rosella Mason Brown.  She is the oldest woman in the picture in the front row. When her husband died, my great grandfather Brown, she then remarried to a man with the last name of Driver.  She had five more children in that marriage.

In the picture above he, Mr. Driver, has already died as she is the only elder person in the photo.  Under the second x from the left stands my grandma, Mabel Zella Brown Brooks.  She remarried in 1943, the tall guy on the far right, Oscar Brooks. He was a widower with two children.

The guy leaning on the left is my mom's brother Kenneth, the guy with an x on the right in the back is her other brother Marvin, and in front of him is my Mom Zella.  
 So all those people in the picture are half cousins to my mom or their kids, all from my great grandma Driver.  I haven't a clue who they all are.

My Grandmother Brown Brooks became a widower again in 1963.  She cared for her second husband for twenty years out on a farm. He shared the farm with his one son.  He had a stroke the last few years and she cared for him at home instead of putting him in a nursing home.  After he died, she was left nothing from the farm as she was a step mom and the inheritance laws didn't defend wives back then.  She got a thousand dollars from the family, bought herself a six hundred dollar house in Murray, Iowa.  She died then in 1972 from cancer. 

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Christmas leftovers.........

This is another photo I took at the Showhouse, greenhouse, that I visited a few weeks back. Christmas cactus has always been a mystery plant to me.  I have heard of all the stories of people in the older times when greenhouses were few.  They would put them in the basement or cave for a period of time in the winter and then could bring them out once buds had set on the plant.

Another leftover set of plants from their Christmas displays.  The plants look like they have kept well in greenhouse conditions.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reflections of a test run....

I wanted to take my camera to the Art Center and I was trying to figure out how to shut off the flash. One button that I kept trying to push to get it to happen wouldn't work.  I put the camera into the corner of our gallery and would snap and the camera kept flashing.  This is what I got from my trial and error. It is a pastel painting of my wife's and a lamp.  It looks like a well planned abstract to me.

I tried it again and I actually got a clear picture with a flash again.  Finally I found a setting in the camera menu that is called museum and that shuts off the flash.  My son who goes to the Chicago Art Institute can take digital non-flash pictures there all the time.  Of course, when I arrive at the small Des Moines Art Center,  it is printed right on the door, no cameras or video cameras allowed. Oh well, life is still good.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Red vase and sticks......

And there is an umbrella in the picture too. I think I took this because of it making just a pretty picture. Red is one of my favorites and I really like large pottery pieces.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The trunk of the tree.....

The textures and colors are so diverse on the trunk of a palm tree.  This of course is at the Botanical Center.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Apple tree branches.....

Another foggy day today and we are still melting. I am always amazed as to how you can find things through the camera lens that are more decorative than one would think they would be.  The apple tree puts out all the little sprouts that seem so ornamental. The neighbor's house in the background is a bungalow style house with its expansive flat roofs and big porch with square pillars.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


 A begonia that was in the greenhouse we visited, which was blooming profusely.  I always think  of my Aunt Eva Dovenspike when I see a begonia.  She and her husband lived on the top of a tree covered hill down in in the Chariton, Iowa area.  Her back door was very shady and in the summer she would grown twenty or more begonias that were always in bloom.  Their house sat on land that use to be native American Indian territory. They could pick up readily large amounts of artifacts on their farm as the Indians had winter there along the river in Lucas County.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Fashion Show, sort of.......

A few of you thought my mom in an earlier blog looked like Donna Reed.  Donna was actually a movie star from Iowa that eventually had a television show. The above picture does make me think some of you are right, but I knew the woman and she was no Donna Reed. 

In the photo, my mom Zella Brown is probably 19 years old. All of the ones around her are her first cousins.  She is holding a baby that is a child of her Uncle Elga Wheeler. Standing around her are the children of her Uncle Lee Wheeler.  Lee Junior is on the left, who today lives in area of the Madison County Bridges, Lorimor and Winterset, Iowa,  as a retired farmer. The girl on the left is Eva Wheeler White, who lives in Torington, Wyoming.  The tall girl was Leila Wheeler Witt who passed away from cancer 15 years ago.
The year is probably 1938 and I wanted you to note the fashions of the day in Iowa.  I want you to take special note of my mom's socks and shoes.  She had a thing about not matching patterns most of her life.

I cropped this photo from a larger group photo. That will be a blog for the future, once I do a little more research.  Again note the stripped dress is matched to the socks. The guy behind her is one of mom's brothers, Marvin Brown.  I have lots of pictures the other brother, Kenneth wearing different hats, and here mom is wearing a sporty thing for a family reunioun.

This last picture is posted for the fashion statements of the day. I believe that the tall girl in back is Leila again and her sister in front of her,  Eva.  It seems a year later than top photo.  If I am correct on the woman on the right, it is their mother, mom's Aunt Esther Wheeler. Mom is wearing a rather large fur collar coat while the others are more conservatively cut. 

The girl in the front is wearing the stockings, the kind that my mom said she always hated to wear.  The woman's hat on the right is quite fancy and the thing sticking up is a pole or tree trunk that is broken off and it is not a feather on the hat. Mom was always into fancy shoes.  

This whole process of getting things together for these sepia Saturday posts has me busy digging and finding photos.  I have a lot of piles that need to be organized. Some people will never be identified while some will be discovered.  The top picture had the names put on them at a much later time than when it was taken but that has helped me to identify them in other pictures. It has helped me to set goals to gather the few of each grandparent or great grandparent that I have and get them ready for you.

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Friday, March 12, 2010


Not a photo ready for  the National Geographic.  This is one of those you take knowing the camera is never going to pull it off. I bought some guppies to go in the  tank with my two goldfish.  They seem very happy as the feed on the top of the water and goldfish are bottom feeders.  Tropical paradise for the fish and I just like to watch them.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


It is the patience that we need to see sun and warmth again.  Those along the rivers are now threatened with flooding from the snow and the next couple of days of rain. The photo of the sculpture shows how the snow is melting away from the concrete shape.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Decorative Pear Tree.....

I was out walking today among the thawing snow and found this glowing in the foggy light.

I have explained before that our town does not have gutters to drain the water. The edge of our property has a slight ditch area the is grass covered all year, but in the spring, this is what I have found.  The dirt from the road being scraped up with the snow ends up in the little creek that forms when it melts or rains. The water flows south down the ditch to the edge of town as the town is built on a slight hill. 

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Botanical Palm......

Another view,  looking up!  Three different layers of palm leaves before you see the dome.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunny days, rainy days.....

Des Moines Botanical Center

Last week, when we visited the Botanical Center, the sun was shining. I liked all the colors in the photo even though I now see that it looks like this tree is dying.  I missed seeing all the parakeets and finches that they use to let fly freely in the dome.  I guess there was a reason to remove them, but it was neat to see them up in the trees making nests and squabbling over food. They removed them one bird at a time I am sure.
I see we are now going to finally reach 45 degrees by Wednesday.  That will be 97 days with temps below 45 and that will be a record.  It is scheduled to rain every day this week though. It will be a mess with all the snow still on the ground.  I will be glad to see April and May.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oh yes, we have no bananas.....

we have no bananas today!!!!

The banana tree is doing well but I don't think they are ready for picking just yet.

Sometimes you can see the large bloom on the plant but it hasn't opened yet.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Charles and Grace Burgus.......

Charles Thomas Burgus
My Paternal Grandfather
Son of Charles and Elizabeth (Ries) Burgus, my great grandparents, who migrated from Germany in 1800's , 13 children were born into this family.

The family of Grace Turner Burgus and Charles Thomas Burgus

Front Row: Eva, Grace(mother), Charles(father), Mary, and Amye.
Back Row: Cecil, Ralph, Jesse(my dad), Carl, Donald and twin sister Doris.  I just realized that one of the sisters is not in the picture.  Ruby  and her husband had taken off to Washington state for a while to work a job. I don't remember what kind of job that it was.

The photo had to have been taken in the 1940's as two of the brothers are wearing their uniforms.  Unfortunately the picture was taken at about the time that one of the son's lost his own son in a drowning in Thayer Lake.

I won't give you all of the information about each but I want to share a little about some of them. Four of the sisters remained housewives most of their lives. One of them was a teacher for most of her life to help support her husbands farming and also to support herself after he died.  The one that was in Washington state lost her husband and worked as a welfare administrator the rest of her working years.
The oldest brother was a train fireman, who road the trains first to scoop coal and then eventually was a co-worker with the engineer. He was deaf after all the time he spent on the train. One brother owned a farm implement dealership then a laundromat. Two of the brothers became farmers after the war, and one brother, a mechanic, died of cancer in 1957 when they could then do nothing about it or didn't really know how to diagnose it.
The first to die was my Grandfather Burgus in 1949.  The youngest girl and last of the family to die was about five years ago. All of them are gone.
As a side note of interest, three of these sisters each lost babies due to the RH factor.   My mother, not a sibling to these women, lost a daughter because of the blood complications also.  My dad had the O blood type apparently with the wrong combo with my mom. From my research, I find that it is all related to the RH and it could affect any blood type. If one has a negative Rh and the baby develops with a positive RH it can be fatal. They now know to immediately transfuse them with the correct blood type and they survive.

I have a very bad photo of the full family of 13 that my grandfather belong, and I need to really work on it. My great grandfather Charles Burgus and his brother migrated here together, leaving behind parents and three other brothers and sisters.  While here their mother died, the father remarried so they had 6 more half brothers and sisters. 

I also have a wedding picture of my grandmother and grandfather Burgus when she and he were very thin. I need to work on that photo before I can show it. 
Grace, my grandmother was from a solid line of English blood with Abernathy and Turner in her line. 
Charles was from the German line with the mixture of Ries in it, which, I have found to be a German name also.
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Friday's Fish Tails......Botanical Center

A very large koi was resting in among the ferns.  Coins are dropped into the pool I guess for good luck.  I am sure they get enough loose change to pay for their food.  There is a lot of negative and positive space here with ferns in front, ferns  and dome in  reflection and the fish is in covered by partial reflection.

There are three or four view areas for the pool as it extends from one wooden bridge to a stone bridge down a small channel to a waterfall area.  The pattern of the dome really adds a little interest to a photo.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Fancy and Frilly 

Boat Orchid is the common name.

Plain and Subtle

Plain with a lot of Fancy

I don't know the technical terms for these but I know the common name is a moth orchid.  The white one above is a moth orchid too as you can see these two have the same petal formations. This is the most patterned moth orchid that I have ever seen.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Botanical Center Visit

My wife and I escaped Iowa by going into the Des Moines Botanical Center.  At the end of our visit we were gazing down at the water feature with koi, and this beauty floated into my lens view.  I have enough koi photos to bore you all for a very long time. 

Croton, is the name of this plant.  One can buy them and take them home but they don't like it inside of a home with winter heat.  They do well in the very humid and warm botanical center.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New plant in the house.....

African violets are so inviting when you go to the man's store.  I was at The Home Depot Saturday.  I wasn't looking for anything in particular as I had spent my life at lumber stores for two months in a  row when remodeling. I had become a little tired with going to them. 
While I was there,  I glanced over at the plants that were blooming and couldn't resist bringing home a cheap plant.  I keep thinking I might start collecting cactus but they are not to entertaining.  I know that I don't need another violet, but the ones that I have came from one of our funerals, and they are all three the old fashion violet.   This gives us some different color to look at while we wait for spring.
Alan, over  there in England is saying that the collecting disease is still not eradicated from this guy, he is out of control.  Alan is right.

But I am not taking pictures of snow!!!!!!!!!