outdoors Photography Places

Old Mills

Yesterday I drove to the core of the Ozark region, in south central Missouri near Mountain View. I wanted to check out how far along the fall foliage was, and also to look at a couple of the old mills along the North Fork river.

Along the way, I spotted my first Missouri armadillo. Unfortunately, it was road kill, but I hope to see more live ones towards the end of October when I’ll spend a couple of days in the area, taking photos. The trip is just too far to make for effective day shoots, and, frankly, there’s also too much to see — I thought the area around the Meramec or the Missouri or Mississippi rivers was lovely, but there’s something about the white water charm and crystal clear waters of the North Fork that appeals to my Northwestern roots.

I wonder if I’ll ever discover all of the faces Missouri shows. There’s the southern face along the Mississippi, through St. Louis and along the north-south trek. Then there’s the east-west feel of Missouri along the Missouri River, with its old Indian legends and the Lewis and Clark trail. Towards Kansas City is that strong midwestern influence of corn and wheat and cattle and good steaks–enough to make a man want to loosen his bible belt. And now there’s the Ozarks and the odd backwoods magical feel to the forest, as if one can expect gnomes to pop up at any moment. Or at least a hillbilly or two.

The Ozarks with its old bridges and mills, such as the old Dawt Mill that I visited yesterday.

The North Fork river is just what it sounds like, the northern fork of the White River. Its crystal clear waters are home to rainbow trout so if one gets tired of fishing for catfish along the ‘Sip, one could drop over for a little trout fishing.

(Speaking of trout, if you ever get a chance to go trout fishing, there is nothing better in the world than freshly caught trout, pan fried. You can keep your fancy sauces, and gourmet presentation. Just coat that bugger and fry it up nice and golden in a cast iron skillet, and dig in with your fork. No need to dirty any plates. )

The river winds alongside Mark Twain forest where black bear gambol about with bobcat, armadillos, white tailed deer, coyote, river otters, and gray and red fox. According to the Ozark Fall Foliage report this is a good year to get photographs of the critters.

The weather has been rainy, which is good for the vegetation, but not for photos. My hope is to time my second trip just right to get the foliage at or near peak, heading down into Arkansas as well as staying in Missouri; spending a few days, exploring and taking photos. I’ll probably head down the last week of October.

I had a wonderful drive yesterday. I really enjoyed seeing new scenes, and tripping around the mill, exploring. Next to the mill was a bridge across the river that was basically a plain concrete slab — no walls– and just wide enough for a car. Or a person on foot, like myself. I also explosured around the mill knowing that this time of year, at least, I don’t have to worry about accidentally brushing against poison ivy; it turns a brilliant scarlet in the fall and is easy to spot.

I also enjoyed the drive — putting on some good music, and just going with the flow of the traffic. More than that, though, it was good to get away from the computer. I must be away more in the future.

There’s so much beauty around us. And it goes by so quickly. About as quickly as the last of the fall color. As Gary Cooley from the Ozark Mountain Website says:

Once the peak is here the leaves are at a very tender stage. They dangle by a few molecules at the stem base where it connects to the twig. One good storm and down they come.

Same can be said for most of life, eh?


Mill and Kitchen

I just returned from a long car trip into the wilds of the Ozarks, close to the Arkansas border. I have some photos of an old mill and the North Fork river, and I feel there are some nice pictures in the batch. If I make space on my computer to develop them for publishing, I’ll try and get some online later. And tell you more about the trip.

In the meantime, I’ve had several people say they don’t fully understand what’s happening with the IT Kitchen (Weblog and Wiki). Sorry, folks – my bad. Sometimes you get an idea, and it becomes so developed in your own mind, when you try and tell other people, you end up spitting out only about 1/3 of the total information about it.

The purpose behind the IT Kitchen was to provide an overview of weblogging, the nuances and the ins and outs and that sort of thing. Sort of like many of the handbooks about weblogging that have been published online by various people (see Rebecca Blood’s). However, instead of just providing static content, there’s an interactive element to it, a community participation, which allows people to ask questions as the material is published, or even provide their own material in support of a topic.

Comments work okay, but they really aren’t a good medium for heavy duty interaction. I feel, and from what we have seen when used with the Atom effort, that a wiki is better for this type of effort.

So the static book portion of the weblogging how-to is being done as essays on specific topics in the Kitchen weblog. The dynamic aspect to it is being managed in the wiki. It’s at this point where I got the first of my two brainstorms.

Rather than just my own writing for this weblogging how-to, I thought about opening this up to the community – whoever was interested in any of the topics. Not only would this give people a chance to introduce their writing to a new audience, having many different viewpoints of each topic would, I feel, provide a more rounded look at the topic.

(I will still be providing several essays on the various topics.)

We’ve had the discussions in the past–what is weblogging. Well, it’s link and comment. No, it’s long essays. No, it’s cat pictures. You ask a room full of webloggers about any aspect of weblogging, and you’ll get as many opinions as there are people. And this is a goodness, which we hope to capture.

Indirectly, I also wanted to stage an event where there was no limitations on participation. No one was going to be specifically invited, and no one was going to be excluded if they wanted to join in. There wasn’t going to be any stars, no A-list headlining, no Big Names. Heavily linked folks are welcome to participate, but as part of the group, not as the opening act to a three ring circus.

So we have, hopefully, many different people writing essays or blurbs on many different topics (constrained by daily topic focus) and at the end of two-weeks we have an online handbook about weblogging. Except this one won’t be sold, or packaged into paper, or put on a disk. I might try putting it into PDF format, but chances are, I’ll just leave the weblog, as is. And it won’t be just one person’s opinion.

And now, to my second brainstorm – the wiki. When I first started chatting with some folk about this, almost from the beginning I thought about morphing the dynamic aspect of the Kitchen into a Wikipedia for Weblogging.

One of the problems we have with weblogging is whatever was an “event” within weblogging in the past gets lost into the archives, never to appear again. You know, even the ancient people used to paint pictographs on caves to record their history. There is a lot of good writing, fun and silly times, and significant events that have happened in weblogging that have basically vanished into that big roll of paper known as the archives.

I remember, I think it was David Weinberger or AKMA, I can’t remember which, talking about wanting to persist specific threads where many people have responded to an event or a post. We thought that trackback would be good for this, but trackbacks, like the posts, live in the moment. Historically, they don’t provide anything of substance to hold on to.

(The issue of “Where are the women webloggers” is a perfect example of the same event happening again and again, because the discussions that have happened in the past get lost each time.)

With the Wikipedia for Weblogging, we could persist not only significant threads, but also pointers to helpful information for newbies, such as reviews of weblogging tools, comment spam how-tos, issues of accessibility and design, discussions about weblogging ethics, even some of the memes that were so big in the past, and so forgotten now. It becomes, in essence, our pictographs.

The great thing about a wiki for this type of activity is that wikis are self-healing. If someone comes along and plasters links to their weblog all over the place, just to generate buzz, someone else will be there in ten minutes wiping the links out. And most likely banning them from editing again. But you know, I don’t see this happening. As with the main Wikipedia, there’s something about the nameless quality to the edits in a wiki that makes one leave one’s ego at the door. It’s not foolproof, but in cases like this, I think it can be successful.

And just think –now when journalists or schools want to know more about weblogging, we can just point them at the wiki, and say, have at it.

Anyway, I hope that this has clarified what’s happening with the IT Kitchen. The weblog portion is time constrained to a specific period of time and anyone is welcome to get an account and add their opinions and philosophy during the clinic. The wiki, however, is being updated now, and will continue to be, as long as there’s at least one person interested in making additions to it.

Now, back to my trip photos. If I’m still not clear, again, please holler.


Perhaps a fall after all

Off to the Ozarks today to see if the color has progressed there. A few more photos from my recent excursion. I can only process a few at a time as my disk space is maxed on my computers, and the Nikon RAW image format, NEF, takes up an enormous amount of space.

I need to burn CDs of the photos on my machines and clear them out, but I’ve not had time recently with working on the IT Kitchen and other projects.

I’ve not had much time lately for poetry, either. Most other writing, too, other than technology, and politics, and weblogging. I feel as dry and dusty as the Missouri forests were before this week’s rain. I look to see if starved and desperate insects hover over me as they do the shriveled late summer blooms amidst leaves dying on the trees. I must begin drinking again.

As Mark Strand recently won the Wallace Stevens award, I thought something of his would be appropriate. Something that seems to suit the photos.

Even this late it happens:
the coming of love, the coming of light.
You wake and the candles are lit as if by themselves,
stars gather, dreams pour into your pillows,
sending up warm bouquets of air.
Even this late the bones of the body shine
and tomorrow’s dust flares into breath.

The Coming of Light