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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Biblical Limericks: The Contempt of the Proud

Have mercy, oh Lord, and goodwill,
for our souls have had more than their fill
of contempt and of scorn
from those who have not borne
the pains and griefs of life that can kill.

Psalm 123: 3 - 4


Monday, June 29, 2015

Final Music Camp (2015) Photo

Here is one final photograph of me at music camp last week.  Here I am leading the beginner band in our final concert.  And yes.  I really am as dorky as I appear.

True Prophets

Surrounded as you are, poor mortal,
by briars that prick
and pricks that bray,
you still have feet,

stung by scorpions
as stubborn as
they are short-sighted,
you still have your voice.

Stand up and speak
to the contempt of the proud;
fill up your soul
with the scorn of those at ease.

True prophets are without honor.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Lights and Numbers

The spinning lights and numbers of arcade games at a children's fun house - photographed with a Hoya "multi-vision" filter.

Home Again, Home Again

I spent last week at music camp, teaching kids from Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota how to play brass instruments, to read music, about music theory, and also about photography and how to use a camera.

My band (the beginners) was a fairly large group.  They came as beginners, barely able to produce any tones from the horns, but by the end of the camp they were able to play remarkably well, considering the short amount of time that we had.

I had some pretty great assistants - my pals John , and Nathan.  I had a great time, but I'm glad to be home.

Background Images for Everyone - 2015 - Week 27

Here is your weekly, free background image.  It's free.  It's yours.  Really and truly.  Download it. Use it.  I only ask that you 1) share it freely with others and that you tell others that you found it here.

The image itself, if you're curious about such things, is a close-up of the bell of God's favorite instrument - the Trombone.

 photo week 27_zpspkameksg.jpg

Friday, June 26, 2015

Dune-O-Matic 2,000

I'm really quite fond of this kid.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Photography at Music Camp - What a Scream

As I said earlier, I'm out the week at Music Camp - teaching kids about music theory, how to play their instruments, and how to read music.  In addition to that, I'm also teaching a photography class.

This is a photo that one of my students took. I love it.

Monday, June 22, 2015


It's a swallow of some variety (I don't know which) in Nebraska.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Archery and Insects at Music Camp

As I said, I'm at music camp this week with over 100 kids from Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.  I'm leading the Beginner's band and the photography class.  It's fun.  We're busy, and we're very sweaty.  (It's hot.)

I stopped by the archery field this afternoon.  The kids asked me to shoot with them.  Of the 10 arrows I fired, 7 of them actually hit the target, and one hit the center.  It's a good thing I have a camera...

Background Images for Everyone - 2015 - Week 26

Here it is again - your free weekly background image.  Even though I'm busy at music camp, I still have this image for you.  Download it; it's yours.  Use it where and how you will.  I only ask that you share it with others and that you tell them you found it here.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Music Camp 2015

If my posting to this blog is somewhat less frequent than usual this week it is because I am at music camp.  I'm in Nebraska, with over 100 kids from Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.  They are here to learn how to play brass instruments, play guitar, and sing.  In addition to helping them with their horns and music theory, I'm also leading a photography class.

It's hot. And we're busy.

I took this photo of the lake last night before the kids got here and everything got crazy.

Friday, June 19, 2015

If The National Motto Were Accurate

It would be:

A Limerick for the Confederate Flag

We should be dumbfounded, it is stag-
gering that people still go out swag-
gering with the symbol
of our nation’s evil,
flying the old Confederate flag.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

You Don’t Look like a Pastor

I was out this evening to spend some time working with my friend, Garden Jim. I help him, when I can, with his garden. I hoe out the weeds between the rows of squash and peppers.Water the tomatoes. I work up a blister at the base of my thumb and a good deal of sweat.

Jim talks while we work; he talks about the various seeds he’s ordered, the tools he’d like to buy, the tools he used to have, the cars he used to have, his time in the U.S. Army, his neighbors, his landlord, the dog he’d like to have if he could have a dog in the apartment, and on and on and on. Sometimes I I’m not really listening. I’m concentrating to make sure that I am only hoeing up weeds and grass and not cucumbers or rutabaga. But Jim doesn’t seem to mind; he’s still talking about the bird stamps that he’s ordered, the coins collection he has, the woman at the grocery store who’s nice to him….

Tonight as we worked, we were visited by a man who lives near the garden. He’d seen us working there before, waved a few times, but tonight he came over to talk. Jim introduced himself, and me. “He’s the pastor,” Jim said. And then Jim, who had only moments before been talking about how often he has to take his medication and the railway that’s just behind a copse of trees from the garden, suddenly didn’t want to talk. He excused himself gruffly and went back to work digging holes to plant some melon seeds.

“You’re a pastor,”said the fellow, eyeing me suspiciously. 

“Yep,” I said, pausing to lean on the garden tool like a real farmer.

“For real? A pastor?” He asked again.

“For real,” I said. “Ordained and everything.”

“You don’t look like a pastor,” he said. “You look…” he eyed me up and down again,“normal.”

Now, I don’t really know what he meant by that. I was dressed in shorts and a sweaty t-shirt. I had a faded military style cap on my head. I was sweaty and my hands were dirty. But maybe that’s what he wanted. “Can I talk to you? Private like?” 

He and I stepped several feet away from the garden. And there, behind the garden, as the sun was dropping low in the sky, he began to share his worries, and secret struggles, and fears. We talked for several minutes before Jim hollered out, “Hey! Jeff, are you workin’ here?”

My new friend saw his girlfriend walking toward us then, so he thanked me for listening, put my phone number into his phone, and shook my hand, and said, “I’ll let you get back to your garden.”

Whorled Yellow Loosestrife

Whorled Yellow Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrifolia - part of the Primrose family) found in my neighbor's yard.  Photographed with a homemade, DIY bokeh filter, cut from heavy paper - much like the one used in these two earlier photographs.)

I shall the effect of this good lesson keep,
As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,
Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,
Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven;
Whiles, like a puff'd and reckless libertine,
Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,
And recks not his own rede.
Ophelia - in Hamlet  -

Whorled Loosestrife by Jeff Carter on

Day Lilies (with Triangles)

Day lilies in the front yard - photographed with the same homemade, DIY bokeh filter I used yesterday in the backyard with the white clover.

The American Pantheon

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

White Clover (with Triangles)

White Clover (also known as Dutch Clover,  Trifolium repens) growing in the backyard is just about as summer as summer can be.  I took this photo using a homemade DIY bokeh filter cut from heavy paper, which I affixed to the lens with that indispensable tool: duct tape.

A Limerick for Donald Trump

The Donald has made the announcement
he’s running to be our president,
but his speech on the stump
was nonsensical Trump-
as a candidate he’s not cogent.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Biblical Limericks: You Who Are Evil Know How To Give Good Gifts

If your son requests a piece of bread,
would you give him a stone instead?
Say he asks you for fish,
would you crush the boy’s wish
and give him a snake? Is your brain dead?

Matthew 7: 9 -10

Hosta (spot)

This photograph was taken with a "spot filter" which leaves the center of the image clear and focused, but slightly blurs the surrounding area.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Through the Lilies

This abstract photo was created, as they say, "in camera."  No Photoshop magic was applied (other than sharpening the color contrasts somewhat.)  I let the shutter remain open for a full second (a relatively long time for a daylight shot).  During that second I zoomed in on the lilies.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Background Images for Everyone - 2015 - Week 25

It's the regular drill - Sunday afternoons I post a free background image.  It's yours. It's free.  Use it google slides, or powerpoint, or whatever presentation program you like.  Use it as wall paper for your smart phone or your laptop.  Print it out and make paper airplanes from it.  Whatever.  I only ask that you 1) share it freely and 2) that you tell others you found it here.

If you're like me, and I know I am, you will want to know something about the picture.  It is made of two parts Above - a macro shot of some red lilies in my backyard and Below - a motion blur of some neon lights near my home.

 photo week 25_zps1lyafcis.jpg

Day Lilies in the Evening

Saturday, June 13, 2015


She opened the sliding door behind me; I'd been sitting on the back patio reading in the early evening sunlight. Reading and taking pictures. I try to keep my camera handy for good pictures, and there's a hummingbird that flits in and out of the lilies.  I was sorta' hoping I might be able to catch him this time.  "Did you..." my wife started to ask a question but stopped.

I turned around.  "Did I what?"

"Did you let that mosquito bite you just so you could take it's picture?"

"Did I let the mosquito ?" I repeated the question back to her.  "That would be crazy..."

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pestilence of Birds in the Air

The chickens in the barn were killed during the night-all 850 of them, and it weren’t no fox or bad feed. Something ugly killed my birds, something cruel. I should have noticed it earlier. I should have noticed as I was making the coffee, that the birds weren't clucking and squawking as they do every morning, but I was already absorbed in thoughts about … well, thoughts about her. I didn’t realize that the birds were dead until much later because she was shouting, and because I nearly died.

The Red Queen doesn’t usually start her screaming until just after lunch-when her thunderous voice pounds at the inner walls of my skull, screaming execution orders: “No mercy!  Kill the Reprobate! Cut off his head!” But that morning, when I should have been discovering my dead pullets, she began her lunatic raving early. She started screaming as I sat drinking my morning coffee. “Spill his blood! Stick that Sucker! Don’t let him get away!”

I pushed away from the kitchen table, stood, and sloped towards the sink where I dropped the coffee mug. It shattered, spraying coffee up the backsplash. I staggered out the back door and down the two concrete cement steps.  I fumbled out a cigarette and lit it. As I smoked, I tried to focus on the rustling of the wind through the corn-fields, a calming exercise that often drowned out her voice, but her screams that morning were just too loud. I sucked down a long drag of the cancer stick-nearly a third of its length-and held the smoke in my lungs until I choked and coughed. I doubled over and vomited out a warm bitter, brown, bile.

When I finally stopped heaving, I wiped my lips and chin on the sleeve of my shirt. I spat to clear my mouth, and that’s when I saw the corpses of two large crows. One of them had a swollen bloody eye. I heaved again, but there was nothing left to expel. I collapsed to my knees, and fell on my face, gagging and retching, in the puddle of sick I had sprayed on the ground. “Execute that wretch!” the nasty Queen screamed inside my ears. Weak, I crawled through the gravel and vomit into the shadowed corner where the concrete steps met the foundation of the house, and passed out.

I must have had some massive muscle spasm, epileptic-grand-mal type flailing there on the ground while I was unconscious.  When I woke up, shivering in the cool evening, I was sore all over- as if I’d pulled every muscle in my back, neck and shoulders at once.  The Red Queen had stopped screaming, but she wasn’t silent.  She was muttering a garbled quotation from Revelation, “When I opened the fourth seal, I became the voice of the fourth living creature saying, ‘Come!’ And I looked, and behold, a green horse! And its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed him. And they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the birds of the air.”

“Shut up,” I told her as I stood up slowly.  “Shut up. Shut up.”

But she kept on with her recitation,” “…pestilence of the birds in the air,pestilence of the birds in the air, pestilence and plague of birds in the airs…”

I looked up just as a murmuration of starlings launched into the air. As a flock they folded and curved themselves through the air, twisting and floating away like a scarf on the wind, disappearing into the gloaming twilight.  And as they flew away, they cried out in a loud voice, like a ringing telephone, “Come! Come! COME! COME!”

Later I would find my way into the chicken barn.  In the fluorescent light and ammonia smell I found the bloodied bodies of my chickens, but by then it was too late for me to do anything about it.

Dr. Tarrec’s Free Weekly Horoscope #20

Aries – If it was you-if you were the one who did it, please, for the sake of your continued humanity, return the stolen human brains. There is no market for them.

Taurus – Yes. You are correct: it was a sasquatch you saw in your yard during the thunderstorm last night. No.Your insurance will not cover the damage he caused.

Gemini – Venus rides with Jupiter in the western sky; the crescent moon is their chariot. But the ride is brief and the trio are soon separated. The show is over.

Cancer – A false door within the mirror will take you into the realm of the dead. Proceed with caution and pack a lunch.

Leo – Aristotle was a fool-the Octopus is not a “stupid creature.” A blessing and seven more for the wise and favored mollusk.

Virgo – You may encounter a walrus-faced apparition of Jesus in a pine-wood dresser. Do not allow this to disturb you.

Libra – Disregard both sides of the coin. Neither the tail nor the head will speak for you today.

Scorpio – Crumhorn playing hornets will guide you through fields of victory. But don’t ask if they know “We are the Champions,”-that song is reserved for their Queen.

Sagittarius – There are spiders in the dark and moths at the lamp, mites in our mattresses and microbes in our guts. We are outnumbered.

Capricorn –  You have no curiosity. I have no patience. We are well-met and ill-tempered.

Aquarius – The child started the conflagration at the police station. The Detective knows this. But was it an accident?

Pisces  – Do you speak the Words of Unknown? They are lost but, they may be recovered.

Hostas after Dark

Yesterday evening I shared a photograph of the hostas in my backyard, taken at dusk.  I went out again, later last night, armed with a small tripod and a flashlight, to take this photograph of the same hostas-after dark.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hostas at Dusk

The Boy is Growing Up

I suppose it is pointless to deny it.  Time marches on relentlessly.  Blink twice and you've missed it.
My son now has his learner's permit.

Biblical Limericks: He Did not Speak to Them without a Parable

When the great crowds of people draw near
Jesus speaks in a way they can hear:
he speaks in parable
to make it bearable,
but his disciples need it made clear.

Mark 4:34

Monday, June 8, 2015

Plundering and Blundering

He saw them: Peter, James and John (the Thunder-Twins) and Judas-hunched conspiratorially over the evening cookfire, whispering. Jesus left his followers an hour or so prior, and gone off some distance to pray alone, in the dark. Now, upon returning, he found these four (the others were already sleeping) plotting.

“We’ve got enough rope,” said Peter, “I think.  We can do this if we tie up his hands and his feet, but…”

“But,” said John, interrupting with a pointed jab of his meaty hand, “we’ve got to be quick, and we’ve got to be quiet. We do this tonight, while everyone’s asleep.”

Peter spoke, “James, you keep watch to the North and East. Judas, on the South and West. Let out a little bird whistle if you see anyone approaching. It’s dark tonight, no moon, so I don’t think there will be anyone, but…”

“But,” John interrupted again. “We’ve got to be quick and quiet. We go in. We crack him on the head with this,” he brandished his walking staff, a stout length of solid oak, “And we tie him up tight. Then we find the money.”

Jesus moved closer now and the disciples, seeing the motion, flinched. Their eyes were wide in firelight and surprise.

“Jesus… you startled us,” said Peter.

“What are you boys planning?”

They hesitated, none of them wanting to be the first to speak. Then Peter said, “Well, it’s like you told us-we’re going to go in, bind up Levi the Merchant, and take his moneybox.”

Judas said, “The money will feed the poor, and spread your gospel, Master. We…”

Jesus cut him off before he could say more. “You’re going to do what?”

“We’re going to bind up the strongman,” said Peter, “and plunder his house. Like you told us to.”

“Told you?” Jesus sputtered. “That was a parable. A parable, you fools!  Why must you always take everything so literally?”

(Mark 3:23-27)

Tall Grass at Dusk

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Limerick for Dihydrogen Monoxide

It is time for us all to decide,
we will no longer like sheep abide
while a deadly toxin’s
pumped into our systems:

Did you know that Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO)-also known as hydric acid, or hydroxyl acid-is used as a coolant in nuclear power-plants?  It is a powerful solvent and the major component of “acid rain.”  The accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in very small amounts, can cause death. Increased amounts of DHMO were found in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.

And yet this dangerous substance is used in the making and manufacture of many beverages and snack foods and is transported across the country without regulation.  This is dangerous stuff, people.


Background Images for Everyone - 2015 - Week 24

Here and now (as we do each week around here) is your free, weekly, background image.  It's yours. It's free.  Download it to use in powerpoint (or similar presentation programs).  Use it as wallpaper on your laptop or smartphone.  Print it out and use it as wallpaper in your bedroom, if you like.  I only ask 1) that you share it freely and 2) that you tell others that you found it here.

 photo Week 24_zpstba6yoj2.jpg

A Haiku – June 7, 2015

waves of light
on the windblown grass
a summer sea

Sparklers and Tail-lights

This is a combination of two long exposures: 1) the tail-lights of cars leaving the drive-in theater and 2) sparklers.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Limerick for Creflo Dollar

Creflo Dollar wants a shiny new plane,
travel by car is far too mundane
for self-styled prophets
who rake in the profits.
His version of the gospel’s profane.

Dr. Tarrec’s Free Weekly Horoscope #19

Aries – It is foolish to go chasing after fire and flame the way that you do.  Relax.  The world is not falling apart; we are not, as you have been told, “less than 19 months from Armageddon.”

Taurus – You used a MINOR deception to steal 215 meteors from the moon.  But the authorities are no longer fooled. They have figured out how you pulled it off.  You are discovered.

Gemini – In ten years of Imprisonment you have found nine coins.  Still, that is not enough to cover the cost of treating your panophobia.

Cancer – The Queen is false.  The sidewalk is split and the road collapsed.  Take the suspense or the suspension bridge.

Leo – She stood in the window, watching as you walked away.  Tarnished beauty and smoke in the distance. Will you stay away another 36 weeks?

Virgo – No.  What you’ve said so far is NOT a reasoned critique or detailed examination of the issues at hand.  How could it be?  You’ve kept the camera focused on yourself for the entire 98 minutes of the film.

Libra – Mephistopheles is offering you a drink from the cup of vanished childhood memories.  Do you recall when you were 12 and you fell down the well?  No?  Perhaps these are not your memories.  Perhaps you should not drink from the cup he offers you.

Scorpio –The Hermit has left his cave and come into the city to speak with us.  This is a rarity.  He has not left his self-imposed exile since 1653.  I suggest that we listen to what he has to say.

Sagittarius – The King of Coins, a ruthless and selfish king, is training his military guard to hunt endangered species of birds with Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs).  He is a vicious man, cruel and unreasonable, without faith, without humility.  It is only a game to him.

Capricorn – “Aliens do not exist.  The surface world does not exist.”  This is the message.  Do not deviate from these talking points. 

Aquarius – The Old Chariot rolls along, churning and burning all that comes before it, heedless of obstacles, heedless of the cries of its victims.  It makes no apology.  It crushing bone and smears the lane with gore.  Stay out of its path.

Pisces – Constipation is the hobgoblin of small intestines and small minds are not disturbed by the snake handlers in the smoky back rooms of Congress.  Stop being so naïve.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

#KenHam, Take a Word from General William Booth

Ken Ham has a huge expensive dream – to build a life size replica of Noah’s Ark and theme park in Kentucky.  And he needs to raise 29.5 million dollars to do it. 

Yesterday Dan Arel, at the blog Danthropology, called out Ham and his project:  Ken Ham Says Building His Ark Is More Important than Feeding the Homeless

Ken Ham takes on a wearied tone when he writes to rebut these sort of claims:

Nearly every time I post an update on the exciting Ark Encounter project, there seem to be those habitual complainers who claim the money should be spent on the poor instead and not be “wasted” this way. …

I think it’s a simple as this—it’s the message! The Ark project (like the Creation Museum) will in a professional, powerful, and gracious way present the truth of God’s Word and the gospel. Sadly, even some people claiming to be Christians complain about the Ark project and that the money should be given to the poor instead. Such people either don’t understand or don’t seem to care about the millions who will be reached with the most important food in the universe—the spiritual food of the saving gospel—the very message that their eternal life depends on. …

So while it is important to help the poor and needy meet their physical needs (which we do), it is even more important to help meet their spiritual need—the need to come to know Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world—because lives—and eternity—hang in the balance….

But all this pious sounding talk about “spreading the gospel” is just window dressing.  The Ark Encounter Park is less about spreading the gospel, than it is about Ham and his fellow creationists doubling down on their insistence that their idiosyncratic young earth creationism interpretation of the biblical stories is the gospel.

Even if we were to concede that the Ark Park was, in fact, about spreading the gospel, it is still an expensively misguided project. As the founder and first General of the Salvation Army, William Booth said, “You can't tell a man about the love of God if he has an empty stomach.” 

That $29.5 million would be better spent feeding, clothing, sheltering, and educating the poor-and that would be a better proclamation of the gospel than any amusement park.

Chickadee with Dinner

I sat very still, waiting for the Chickadee to land about 6 feet away from me.  He brought his dinner.

Biblical Limericks: Jesus Committed Treason

To heal the slave of the Centur’on,
no matter the cause or the reason,
gave comfort and aid to
the enemy, and you
must treat it as an act of treason.

Matthew 8: 5 – 13

Full Moon in June (and Other Stock Rhymes)

A full moon in June makes me swoon and sing out of tune, blah, blah, blah...

Moon - 6/2/2015 from jeff carter on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Levitating Squirrel

They're rare, and they're fast, but every now and again you can spot a levitating squirrel.

Black Capped Chickadee

It is, I think, a Black Capped Chickadee.  (I'm not a trained ornithologist.)

God’s Kid Brother: Punk Rock and Gnostic Theology

I have a great many, varied interests. Sometimes people say that I am “well read,” more often they just say I’m “weird.” There are times when having a broad spectrum of interest provides an interesting overlap–like when you find first century gnostic theology bouncing around inside the music of a satirical punk band from the late 80s/early 90s.

Weird, I know.

The Dead Milkmen, a punk band from Philadelphia, has been a favorite of mine ever since I heard the song “Punk Rock Girl” from their 1988 album Beelzebubba (a title that STILL delights me) on a late night college radio program when I was in junior high. They were irreverent. They were funny. Maybe they weren’t the greatest musicians; maybe Joe Genearo’s singing was nasally and often out of key. So what? They were loud and goofy. 

In 1992 I bought their album Soul Rotation (on cassette) and discovered the song “God’s Kid Brother.” I didn’t know it then, and I don’t know if the members of The Dead Milkmen knew it–maybe they thought of it as I did then, as a humorously mild sort of blasphemy, a rejection of the standard biblical creation story in search of an explanation for the apparent dysfunctions of the universe–but the lyrics of the song are very much in line with some of the theology of first century Gnostics.

I've looked for the reason why we're here
I've kept on searching until it was clear
I've looked for excuses - can't find no other
We must be the product of God's kid brother

It’s difficult to describe Gnostic theology, because really it’s more like Gnostic theologies-plural; there were lots of variations, but most of the various gnostic groups believed that that physical world was created by the Demiurge–a sort of lesser deity. In some of the stories the Demiurge is described as cruel and malicious. In these accounts the physical world was created as a sort of trap or prison for pure spiritual beings. In other gnostic writings, the Demiurge is described not as demonic, but foolish and weak. 

Maybe there are two Gods
A perfect God who made all those perfect people
And another God who made the rest of us
And maybe, just maybe, somewhere there's a Heavenly choir
That sings off key.

It’s not exactly spot on. In Gnostic teaching the physical world was not created by God (not even the creation of “all those perfect people.” The perfect God was pure spirit, unsullied by physical matter. And the Demiurge wasn’t “God’s kid brother”–the exact relationship is difficult to describe. But for an irreverent, satirical punk rock song, it’s pretty close.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Biblical Limericks: Numbskull

Scribes from Jerusalem said, “He’s full
of power from that imp, Beelzebul.”
Said Jesus, “Are you dense?
You are not making sense.
Can Satan purge Satan, you numbskull?”

Mark 3: 22 - 23
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