We’ve Moved!

•October 2, 2009 • Leave a Comment

To see our new look please take a look here… and then bookmark it!



Labor Day, Abraham Lincoln, and Genesis

•September 7, 2009 • Leave a Comment
resting my hoe

resting my hoe

As I take the day off from both my hoe and my camera, I’ve come across a wonderful Labor Day thought. This comes from my wife’s cousin, Trina Zelle – a Presbyterian minister in Arizona. -Bill

Not only was our 16th president adept at citing scripture to underscore his points, it could be argued that Abraham Lincoln read scripture through the lens of his own experience as a worker. In light of his unsurpassed eloquence, we sometimes forget that, early on in his career, he was known as “the rail-splitter.” It is perhaps because of this acquaintance with physical labor that Lincoln’s take on Genesis 3:19 is so strikingly different from conventional and even scholarly interpretations.

God speaks in Genesis 3:19, telling Adam and Eve what awaits them beyond the gates of the garden:

By the sweat of your brow

you will eat your food

until you return to the ground,

since from it you were taken;

for dust you are

and to dust you will return.

The traditional view of this passage is one of work as punishment for the sin of disobedience: “by the sweat of your brow/you will eat your food.” Lincoln, however, did not view it as the description of a punishment but rather as a moral imperative: the food you eat is to be the result of your own work, not someone else’s.

His interpretation of this passage was not an incidental observation made in passing, but can be found in many of his speeches, letters, and reported conversations. Time after time, Lincoln stands with workers against those who would benefit from their labor without just compensation. It is this core belief that serves to undergird his opposition to slavery: you shall not live by the sweat of others.

Lincoln’s life experience of hardship led him to read scripture from the perspective of a worker, and it transformed our nation. His opposition to slavery was a logical extension of his commitment to worker rights.

Now imagine someone else reading scripture. Not a person who has risen to Lincoln’s stature, but an immigrant, waiting this very evening in Altar, Mexico, to begin the dangerous desert crossing to what she hopes will be work, just wages, and a new and better life. Imagine reading these selections from Deuteronomy 26 through the eyes and from the experience of such a person:

My father was a wandering Aramaean and he went down into Egypt with a few people…and became a great nation.…but the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, putting us to hard labor. Then we cried out to the Lord…so the Lord brought us out of Egypt…and brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

Not everyone has the poverty-stricken background of an Abraham Lincoln or the unknown woman crossing the desert. But we all have the capacity to imagine, to put ourselves in someone else’s place. Such identification is part of what makes us human. And so I invite you to pick up the texts sacred to your faith. You don’t have to pick out an obvious passage that deals directly with economic justice or worker rights. Read any passage, but do so through the lens of a disenfranchised person – an immigrant; a person who has just lost their job and perhaps their house. See what they see. Feel what they feel. That is the beginning of the kind of solidarity that can transform the world.

Rev. Trina Zelle, ordained by the Presbyterian Church (USA), is Lead Organizer for Interfaith Worker Justice of Arizona.

Decay… Again

•August 22, 2009 • 5 Comments

broccoli leaf

broccoli leaf

Once again I am struck by the aesthetic side of decomposition. This time I took the broccoli leaf into the studio to photograph it. It was a little late in the evening and pretty dark for photography outside.

This is the same type of leaf that in June I was so taken by its waterproof quality. It now looks very different. No longer waterproof, it has taken a distinctly autumn-ish color. It looks worn and ragged.

As my garden ages it changes in so many ways. Leaves like this broccoli leaf become battle scarred. Tomato plants wither from the inside as they seem to yield their energy to the fruits as they ripen. The same fate falls to Noah’s pumpkin plants. They look horrible – just dying – again, in sacrifice to the beautiful pumpkins they produce.

Only the pepper plants continue to look as virile as their fruits.

This is the period of the greatest harvest. It comes at a price the plant itself pays. We enjoy the harvest but I also watch as the plants begin to succumb to their efforts.

More from Brooklyn

•August 17, 2009 • Leave a Comment

It seems that peppers are about the last things to ripen. Jesse sent this yesterday……..

here’s a shot of my (habañero) peppers coming along. just waiting for them to turn….. i can’t remember what color i planted. orange i believe.



Pumpkins, Carrots, Turnips & Bison

•August 15, 2009 • 4 Comments

Today I spent a lot of time in the garden. I tore out an area next to the pumpkins that had a couple of sickly zucchini plants and weeds. After cleaning it out I planted carrots. In a similar fit of activity I pulled out the remaining turnips – maybe 20 or so – and planted a fall crop of turnips.

Animals have chewed my pumpkins.

Animals have chewed my pumpkins.

They've even chewed my funny-looking one.

They've even chewed my funny-looking one.

The pumpkins continue to grow but word is getting around the animal world that pumpkin is pretty tasty. Does anyone have any idea how to protect pumpkins from the squirrels/rabbits/raccoons/birds that are sampling them? Do I use chicken wire?

I’d love to hear some ideas.

Katie asked if we could take a trip to Fermi Lab in Batavia where there is a great hike through a large meadow of grasses and wildflowers and woods. What she really wanted to see was the Bison herd.

It was a great way to wrap up the day.

Katie with wildflowers in the woods at Fermi Labs.

Katie with wildflowers in the woods at Fermi Labs.

Katie photographing bison.

Katie photographing bison.


Big Plants… and REALLY Big Plants

•August 11, 2009 • 7 Comments

Noah with his pumpkin

Noah with his pumpkin

The largest plant I have in my garden is a couple of pumpkin plants. They long ago

“crawled” over the fence and seem to wander at will in my yard. That’s OK with me. It’s less grass to mow.

For all its size there are only 5 pumpkins growing. They are large pumpkins and Noah seems to enjoy them. They grew with amazing speed – much like Noah.

This past June I photographed a wedding in California. Since it was a late afternoon wedding my friend Jim and I spent a couple of hours the morning of the wedding at the Big Trees State Park.

The Park is home to some of the largest trees in the world. Some of them were large trees when Christ was born.

Jim looking at fallen tree at Big Trees State Park

Jim looking at fallen tree at Big Trees State Park

Their pace of growth is very different than Noah’s pumpkins, however. While the pumpkins have a few scars from birds pecking and squirrels scratching them, some of the sequoias and redwoods have holes from Pileated woodpeckers and black marks from lightning strikes from hundreds of years ago.

I find the different cycles of plant growth very interesting but I’m glad Noah doesn’t have to wait a couple of thousand years for his pumpkins.

A Kitten Grows in Brooklyn

•July 30, 2009 • 5 Comments

From Jesse comes a little gardening story…

Little "Habañero"

Little "Tabasco"

this is what i found sprouting in my habañero plants when i went to check them in my window cage this morning. only food related because of the peppers…. i don’t eat kitten often.          -jesse