Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Spooky Skeleton and Antebellum Mansion, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

This skeleton strikes a casual pose while perching on the balcony of one of Charleston's antebellum mansions. On this day we celebrate Halloween, a tradition that dates back to the Romans (Parentalia or Festival of the Dead) and the Celts (the celebration of Samhain). Halloween is followed the next day by All Saints Day, a day of solemnity in the Roman Catholic Church and then All Souls Day.

For Halloween in Charleston, there will be trick-or-treating, costume parties, haunted house attractions with corn mazes, the telling of scary stories, and of course, the watching of scary movies.


Sunday, October 30, 2011

View Toward Saint Michael's Church

Saint Michael's Church on Broad Street, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

On a soft Charleston evening, Saint Michael's Church stands prominently above Broad Street, the steeple being one of the city's iconic landmarks. Broad Street was a main thoroughfare even in colonial days, a focal point in the original walled city. Today it is lined with 19th century commercial architecture replete with real estate companies, law firms, 
art galleries, restaurants, cafes...
  and of course a couple of churches.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011


Detail of a Red Caboose, Old Depot, Village of Lewisburg, Ohio  © Doug Hickok

It is fashionable to make dire predictions these days.... e-book readers will bring an end to books... according to some the world will end in 2012... global warming will drown half the world's population. But I have my own dire prediction. Beginning today, at 4:58 pm everything will turn into an old red caboose. I know I am no Nostradamus, but I have a really strong feeling. So get ready to don your overalls and engineer's cap, and go for a ride.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Doug Turns with the Autumn Leaves

Autumn Sweetgum Tree, Doug's Back Yard, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

To make this autumn abstract, I stood beneath a colorful sweetgum tree, looked up while balancing my camera between nose and forehead, spun around performing a pirouette with arms wide open, like a whirlybird, and belted out an inspirational hymn in my best yodeling voice. I don't know, it seemed to work.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No Mere Pier

Folly Beach Pier at Night, Folly Beach, SC  © Doug Hickok

Do not fear, for it appears this pier is no mere pier, for it provides the perfect place to steer a spear high into the crystal clear celestial sphere.
(Remember dear, as you come near, bring your fishing gear).
And please, pay no attention to the drunken sneer on that cavalier gondolier with the souvenir beer stuck in one ear.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Waterfall of Color

Flower Boxes, Meeting Street, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Window boxes adorn many sills in the historic district of Charleston. 
This lush growth of vines cascades down the wall in a delightful waterfall of color.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Railing and Columns, US Custom House, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

In recognition of October's National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Charleston's Customs House on East Bay Street was spotlighted with pink light at night. For the past 25 years the NBCAM organization has worked hard to enlighten the public about early detection of breast cancer through education and annual check-ups. You can take a look at their website for more information.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Death and Taxes

18th Century Headstone, Saint Philip's Cemetery, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Charleston is known for its beautiful 18th century funerary art. Its historic cemeteries feature ornate headstones, such as this one in the graveyard of Saint Philip's Church. The portrait of the woman encircled on this stone displays the fashion of the times. While fashions have changed dramatically over the centuries, a few things have not. Even in 18th century Charleston, 
citizens could not escape paying taxes nor avoid what we ultimately all must face.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rustica Red Chairs

Two Red Chairs, Pizza Rustica, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

My wife and I used to grab slices of fresh pizza at this little restaurant when we were walking around Charleston. It was a favorite spot of ours, near King Street. But the restaurant business is very competitive and although the hand made pizza was varied and delicious, the shop eventually closed down. Another restaurant is there now. I have no idea what it is. Time continues at its constant pace. No moment can ever be lived over. Which is why a solid
 foundation, steady and reliable, is invaluable,
like coming home to loved ones after a long day at work.

Here's to memorable moments with loved ones!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Whole World in His Hand?

Statue of Charlemagne, San Luigi dei Francesi, Rome, Italy  ©  Doug Hickok

 This imposing sculpture of Charlemagne (Charles the Great) adorns the exterior of the Church of St. Louis of the French, the French National church of Rome. This baroque basilica is famous for its masterworks of art, including the Caravaggio painting I linked you to on Monday's post.

 often referred to as Pater Europae (Father of Europe) was the first Holy Roman Emperor and united most of Western Europe in a time of strife and darkness.  Maybe that's why he's got the whole world in his hand... though the small size of the orb seems to indicate that the emperor may have had a magnificently large ego.

Hope you have a magnificent weekend!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mist in the Cove

Cades Cove Meadow, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee  © Doug Hickok

When the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was established, the plan was to allow Cades Cove to return to its natural, original condition. But the plan was changed when park authorities decided to keep the meadows intact, and to preserve the old cabins, churches and mills.

Today a loop road encircles the secluded mountain valley making it possible for modern day visitors to get a glimpse of the 1800's, of a place that seems like a time capsule of pioneer life 150 years ago. You can see part of the loop road (
along the fence line) in this picture, which also shows smoky mists rising from the valley.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Road Curving into Autumn Woods

Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee  © Doug Hickok

This dirt road leads off the beaten path of the Cades Cove Auto Tour, and winds its way through forest to an old 19th century church. Like a Robert Frost poem, the autumn colors and curving road take us back to another time that we recognize in our distant memories or dreams.

We like Cades Cove so much that we named our son Adam Cade (because "Adam Great Smoky Mountain National Park Hickok" seemed a bit much).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Fine Mountain Cabin

Henry Whitehead Cabin, Cades Cove,
Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee  © Doug Hickok

A well worn path leads to this old cabin in Cades Cove, a low area surrounded by peaks in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The cove is preserved to look similar to the way it did in the 1800's. It may not look like it, but this cabin was once one of the finest ones in the mountain valley. Built in 1898 by a widower for his new wife Matilda, it had a brick chimney, which was rare in those days because mountain folk had to actually make the bricks themselves out of the clay soil. It was the only square-sawed log home (thick, well insulated walls with very little space between logs) in Cades Cove. And it is the only one of its kind left in the park. Because of this, the cabin is considered a transition house from the early rough built cabins of the pioneers to the modern frame structures that became popular in a later era.

True to the rugged individual spirit of these cove residents, when the Federal government set aside lands for the formation of the National Park, which included Cades Cove, the valley people resisted the most. But by 1937 the last resident was forced to move out.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Emergence of Autumn

Fall Foliage, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina  © Doug Hickok

Deciduous tress begin changing color as autumn dabs the mountain sides like a painter brushing his canvas. As the leafy greens, oranges and reds emerge, the variety of plant species in the Appalachian ecology become more apparent.

The dramatic chiaroscuro light spotlighting the mountain side is from sunlight momentarily bursting through dark storm clouds. This type of theatrical lighting was favored by the Italian painter Caravagio who used it to great effect in some of his masterworks.

Photo note: This image was made on Velvia 35mm slide film several years ago during a road trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cathedral Spaces

Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Beneath Folly Beach Pier at Sunrise, Folly Beach, SC  © Doug Hickok

Oak Lined Road to Botany Bay, Edisto Beach, SC  © Doug Hickok

This post was inspired by MT and Keebs.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mad as a Hatter

Hat Man Sign, Broad Street, Charleston, SC  Doug Hickok

Most readers are familiar with the frenzied Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll's fantasy Alice in Wonderland. If you haven't read the book then you may be familiar with Johnny Depp's eccentric interpretation of the character in the movie version. There is actually truth to the phrase "mad as a hatter". In the 19th century, mercury nitrate was used in making felt hats. Hat makers exposed to this chemical could eventually contract St. Vitus' Dance, (Sydenham's chorea) a nervous disorder which causes frenetic jerking behavior.

This image shows Charleston's Hat Man, a painted sign discovered on the side of a building on Broad Street during renovation. It marks the place which used to be a haberdashery. It is a curiosity, a downtown landmark most people walk past without noticing. Mad as it may seem, the figure is made almost entirely of hats, hats of all sorts.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Oh Man, Oh Man... Friday!

Sunrise over Sea Oats, Folly Beach, SC  © Doug Hickok

In Daniel Defoe's classic novel, the castaway Robinson Crusoe happily discovers a companion on his deserted island (on a Friday), and names him Man Friday. 

Little did he know he continued a long tradition of welcoming Fridays 
that dates back to ancient times.

The Roman word for the sixth day of the week was dies Veneris, a day dedicated to Venus (who wouldn't mind welcoming the sight of this renown goddess of beauty?). In Norse mythology, the counterpoint of Venus was Freyja, hence Friday, from the Old English interpretation of the word. Freyja was the goddess of love and marriage. So it is no surprise that Norsemen considered Freyja's day one of good luck, and they often 

held weddings on this day, another reason to celebrate the arrival of Fridays.

So I welcome Friday with open arms, and thankfulness for the start of a new weekend.

Here's to Friday... Prosit!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


East Quoddy Lighthouse, Campobello Island, New Brunswick, Canada  © Doug Hickok

If you ever wanted to know what a lighthouse foghorn (diaphone) looks like, this is it. Even though it is pointed toward the ground, the sound it makes is loud and carries
long distances. It operates by forcing compressed air through an apparatus, making extremely powerful low frequency notes. So don't stand next to one when it is blowing. This one, by the way, was quiet.

East Quoddy Lighthouse is one of the oldest in Canada. Although it is unmanned, it serves an important function in warning fishing vessels of the treacherous rocks
at the tip of Campobello Island. And it is especially useful for guiding boats through the dense Bay of Fundy fogs.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Homage to Rothko too

Old Red and Yellow Door, Auburn, Alabama  © Doug Hickok

The color on this old door is so vibrant...
so strong that it creates a visual tension.
I have to slip my sunglasses on while looking at the screen to keep my eyes from going bonkers...

(look here for the first Homage to Rothko.) 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

An Impromptu Note on Music History

Gate Scroll at Night, Porter's Lodge, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Probably not on this date, sometime in the 1920's, Louis Armstrong is thought to have started scat singing when he misplaced the lyrics to a song. So the charismatic trumpeter improvised by performing his song by making instrumental sounds with his voice.

 (Psst... if you listen closely, you will hear politicians making similar nonsense sounds when orating, but in a less musical way.) 

Give scat singing a try in the privacy of your home, at your earliest convenience. 

I promise, you will have a blast!

A skeep beep dee bop bop boo!

Monday, October 10, 2011


Fox Theatre and Bank of America Plaza, Atlanta, Georgia  © Doug Hickok

Situated among towering skyscrapers and modern edifices, the Moorish style of the Fox Theatre stands apart from the group, daring to be different. Coming soon to the theatre for a performance is the Celtic Thunder group. Celtic music and Islamic architecture in the heart of the old South. My how times have changed. What would Scarlet have thought of that?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Saint Stephen's Sunday

Pavement, Saint Stephen's Basilica, Budapest, Hungary  © Doug Hickok

A splendid, swirling star motif adorns the paved square in front of 

Saint Stephen's in Budapest.

Photo note: Like yesterday's post, today's image was photographed on Velvia slide film using a 24mm wide angle lens.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Behind the Dunes

Valley of Dune Grass, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Oregon  © Doug Hickok

On the leeward side of Oregon's coastal dunes grow swales of thick dune grasses, illuminated here by late afternoon sunlight.

Photo note: This image was caught on Velvia slide film using a 24mm wide angle lens.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Arno Reflection

Uffizi Gallery Reflected in the Arno River, Florence, Italy  © Doug Hickok

The famous Uffizi Art Gallery shimmers as a reflection in the Arno River, the warm tonalities of the mellowed stone highlighted by afternoon sun. This picture was shot from the medieval Ponte Vecchio bridge which spans the river.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Moonlight Promenade

Moonlight Reflecting on Charleston Harbor, East Battery, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

Perhaps the most romantic setting in Charleston is walking the promenade along the high battery on a balmy moonlit night.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nocturnal Stairway

Stairway at Night, Maritime Center, Charleston, SC  © Doug Hickok

A dream of climbing steps up, up, up into the unknown...
thoughts traveling to distant destinations.
Awaking... yearning to travel as freely as those thoughts.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Old Charleston Light

Morris Island Lighthouse, near Folly Beach, SC  © Doug Hickok

When the Morris Island Lighthouse, also called the Old Charleston Light, was built in 1876, it stood on solid ground surrounded by a large sandy island. Before the lighthouse was built, a significant Civil War battle was fought on Morris Island at Fort Wagner, later featured in the film Glory. This movie followed the course of the 
54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, one of the first major all black American military units.

Although time and erosion have vanquished the fort, and the sands that surrounded the lighthouse buildings, the lighthouse itself still stands, albeit with a slight tilt. It was decommissioned in 1962, but efforts have been underway to preserve and restore it, as is the case with many historic structures in and around Charleston.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Saint Mary's Basilica

Cloth Hall Lantern & Saint Mary's Basilica, Main Market Square,
Old Town, Krakow, Poland  © Doug Hickok

Saint Mary's Basilica is seen here through an archway of Cloth Hall, in the Main Market Square of Krakow's Old Town. The Gothic brick church was rebuilt in the 14th century after a city fire, and is featured in Eric P. Kelly's young adult novel, The Trumpeter of Krakow. This book tells the story of the town trumpeter who sounded an alarm in the tower of Saint Mary's during an attack by the Mongols in 1241. He was shot in the throat before he could complete his song. Today the trumpeter's mournful alarm 
is heard from the church on the hour, and breaks-off midway to commemorate his famous deed.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Douglas Falls at Douglas Falls

Douglas Falls Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina  © Becky Hickok

A Tip From "The Hiking Guide for Beginner Hikers"

"Exercise common sense... that means don't get carried away with your enthusiasm and a belief in your invincibility... and tempt fate. Mother Nature is quite indifferent to hurting you when you do dumb things."

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