I always knew that this would happen, but I was hoping not today

capitol_tree_32410Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with sadness that I announce this unfortunate news: the 2014 Christmas tree (pictured above) adorning the capitol’s Memorial Hall is the last live tree I will ever be able to photograph for you.  Starting today, the tree will be an artificial tree purchased for Christmas 2015.  Fire code dictates that they can no longer do a live tree, and let’s face it – North Dakota has already had one capitol burn down, and they’d like to avoid another.

I eagerly await the tree each year, and I took great pleasure in this post which shows how they brought the monstrous live tree into the building each year.  But the magic is gone, sorta.  After catching word that this year’s tree would be an artificial one, I decided to juice up on cold medicine, climb off the couch, and go visit the capitol.  I went at 5:00 before the doors were locked, hoping to get a glimpse of the new tree.  When I arrived, the assembly was just beginning.  Here’s how it happens now:

 

2015_capitol_tree_36003The tree is assembled in sections.  The wide bottom parts are large curved metal pieces with electrical wiring attached for lights.  One good part about this tree is that it will contain lights, something that was an absolutely no-no with the live trees.

 

2015_capitol_tree_36019A ladder is used to help in assembly, but the tree is intentionally designed to support the weight of people climbing it to complete the task and attach all the various accoutrements.  That’s good, because it is MUCH taller than the ladder.

 

2015_capitol_tree_36039Once they get to the narrower parts of the tree, it is no longer quite as sectional.  These hoops and point represent the top four sections.

 

2015_capitol_tree_36008These make up the foliage, which is designed to look like some specific kind of fir tree I forgot to mention.  And yes, they go in very specific locations just like your tree at home.

 

2015_capitol_tree_36009All lined up and ready to attach.  I was sick today, so I didn’t hang out to watch the foliage be attached.  I’ll probably check it out in the morning if I’m feeling better.

 

2015_capitol_tree_36023These are already pre-wired with pretty warm-white LED bulbs, something I already mentioned that was verboten on the old trees.  They look really nice and are going to be very bright once the pieces are all combined.

 

2015_capitol_tree_36012One of the things that makes the tree so special each year isn’t changing one bit: the decorations made by North Dakotans through the ND Council On the Arts.  They await in these bins, ready to adorn the new tree.

 

2015_capitol_tree_36072Here the guys get the top of the tree ready to mount.  It’s so high that they need to do this before they take it to the top of the tree. This tree is significantly taller than trees in the past.

The crew was working into the night to finish the tree when I bolted back home to my couch and some Theraflu to continue my recovery from the crud that’s going around.  I’m not going to try to get a photo of it until after all the decorations are attached, which is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, December first).

It’s sad that we can’t have a real tree, but the Facilities Management folks did a lot of research before choosing just the right artificial tree for the Memorial Hall (subject to the procurement process, of course).  They understand the personal connection that North Dakotans have to the capitol Christmas display.  It isn’t their fault that there won’t be any more real trees, as it’s fire code that has finally ruled out.

One could be cranky about this, but I choose instead to appreciate the work that is put into decorating the capitol each year so North Dakotans can enjoy the season at our favorite local landmark.  I humbly suggest you do the same.

A brief missive on Thankfulness

I was pondering thankfulness today, which is nothing new. Given the calamities of our little family over the past couple of years, and the way in which God has brought us through our trials, I think on thankfulness daily. Anyway, I put those thoughts into a little graphic I hope you’ll share.

thankfulness_18409I know the font is cliche’, but aren’t these inspirational pieces supposed to have corny font?

Happy Thanksgiving!  Let gratitude and humility be our theme every day of the year.

Presidents before “44” used today to thank God for His provision

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing objectionable about the Preezy’s 2015 Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.  It would be nice if it mentioned God, though.  The only mention He received this year was within quotes from George Washington’s original Proclamation.  While there’s plenty of mention of gratitude and thanksgiving, the Lord is left out.  In doing so, this Proclamation misses the point altogether.  Gratitude, appreciation, community, togetherness…I maintain that those should be part of every day, as should thanks to our Creator.  But if we’re going to have a formal holiday centered around giving of thanks, those thanks should be directed heavenward.

 

For context, here are a few important Thanksgiving proclamations from the past:

The First Thanksgiving Proclamation: June 20, 1676
The Holy God having by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present Warr with the Heathen Natives of this land, written and brought to pass bitter things against his own Covenant people in this wilderness, yet so that we evidently discern that in the midst of his judgements he hath remembered mercy, having remembered his Footstool in the day of his sore displeasure against us for our sins, with many singular Intimations of his Fatherly Compassion, and regard; reserving many of our Towns from Desolation Threatened, and attempted by the Enemy, and giving us especially of late with many of our Confederates many signal Advantages against them, without such Disadvantage to ourselves as formerly we have been sensible of, if it be the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed, It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed; and fearing the Lord should take notice under so many Intimations of his returning mercy, we should be found an Insensible people, as not standing before Him with Thanksgiving, as well as lading him with our Complaints in the time of pressing Afflictions:

The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favour, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God’s Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being persuaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and souls as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ.

By the Governing council of Charlestown, Massachusetts


First Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation – George Washington, 1789
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

George Washington

1863 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation
The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the field of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony wherof I have herunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

(Signed)Abraham Lincoln

1877 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation
The completed circle of summer and winter, seedtime and harvest, has brought us to the accustomed season at which a religious people celebrates with praise and thanksgiving the enduring mercy of Almighty God. This devout and public confession of the constant dependence of man upon the divine favor for all the goodgifts of life and health and peace and happiness, so early in our history made the habit of our people, finds in the survey of the past year new grounds for its joyful and grateful manifestation.

In all the blessings which depend upon benignant seasons, this has indeed been a memorable year. Over the wide territory of our country, with all its diversity of soil and climate and products, the earth has yielded a bountiful return to the labor of the husbandman. The health of the people has been blighted by no prevalent or widespread diseases. No great disasters of shipwreck upon our coasts or to our commerce on the seas have brought loss and hardship to merchants or mariners and clouded the happiness of the community with sympathetic sorrow.

In all that concerns our strength and peace and greatness as a nation; in all that touches the permanence and security of our Government and the beneficent institutions on which it rests; in all that affects the character and dispositions of our people and tests our capacity to enjoy and uphold the equal and free condition of society, now permanent and universal throughout the land, the experience of the last year is conspicuously marked by the protecting providence of God and is full of promise and hope for the coming generations.

Under a sense of these infinite obligations to the Great Ruler of Times and Seasons and Events, let us humbly ascribe it to our own faults and frailties if in any degree that perfect concord and happiness, peace and justice, which such great mercies should diffuse through the hearts and lives of our people do not altogether and always and everywhere prevail. Let us with one spirit and with one voice lift up praise and thanksgiving to God for His manifold goodness to our land, His manifest care for our nation.

Now, therefore, I, Rutherford B. Hayes, President of the United States, do appoint Thursday, the 29th day of November next, as a day of national thanksgiving and prayer; and I earnestly recommend that, withdrawing themselves from secular cares and labors, the people of the United States do meet together on that day in their respective places of worship, there to give thanks and praise to Almighty God for His mercies and to devoutly beseech their continuance.

(signed)R.B. HAYES

1987 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation
Thanksgiving Day is one of our most beloved holidays, an occasion set aside by Americans from earliest times to thank our Maker prayerfully and humbly for the blessings and the care He bestows on us and on our beautiful, bountiful land. Through the decades, through the centuries, in log cabins, country churches, cathedrals, homes, and halls, the American people have paused to give thanks to God, in time of peace and plenty or of danger and distress.

Acknowledgment of dependence on God’s favor was, in fact, our fledgling Nation’s very first order of business. When the delegates to the First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in 1774, they overcame discord by uniting in prayer for our country. Despite the differences among them as they began their work, they found common voice in the 35th Psalm, which concludes with a verse of joyous gratitude, “And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of they praise all the day long.”

This year, of course, our Thanksgiving Day celebration coincides with the Bicentennial of the Constitution. In 1789 the government established by that great charter of freedom, and “the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed,” were cited by George Washington in the first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation as among “the great and various favors” conferred upon us by the Lord and Ruler of Nations. As we thank the God our first President called “that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be,” we have even greater cause for gratitude than the fresh triumphs that inspired Washington’s prose. We have seen the splendor of our natural resource spread across the tables of the world, and we have seen the splendor of freedom cursing with new vigor through the channels of history. The cause for which we give thanks, for which so many of our citizens through the years have given their lies, has endured 200 years – a blessing to us and a light to all mankind.

On Thanksgiving Day, 1987, let us, in this unbroken chain of observance, dedicate ourselves to honor anew the Author of Liberty and to publicly acknowledge our debt to all those who have sacrificed so much in our behalf. May our gratitude always be coupled with petitions for divine guidance and protection for our Nation and with ready help for our neighbors in time of need.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RONALD REAGAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 26, 1987, as a National Day of Thanksgiving, and I call upon the citizens of this great Nation to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed upon us.

(signed)RONALD REAGAN


1989 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation
On Thanksgiving Day, we Americans pause as a Nation to give thanks for the freedom and prosperity with which we have been blessed by our Creator. Like the pilgrims who first settled in this land, we offer praise to God for His goodness and generosity and rededicate ourselves to lives of service and virtue in His sight.

This annual observance of Thanksgiving was a cherished American tradition even before our first President, George Washington, issued the first Presidential Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789. In his first Inaugural Address, President Washington observed that “No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States.” He noted that the American people – blessed with victory in their fight for Independence and with an abundance of crops in their fields – owed God “some return of pious gratitude.” Later, in a confidential note to his close advisor, James Madison, he asked “should the sense of the Senate be taken on … a day of Thanksgiving?” George Washington thus led the way to a Joint Resolution of Congress requesting the President to set aside “a day of public Thanksgiving and Prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal Favors of Almighty God.”

Through the eloquent words of President Washington’s initial Thanksgiving proclamation – the first under the Constitution – we are reminded of our dependence upon our Heavenly Father and of the debt of gratitude we owe to Him. “It is the Duty of all Nations,” wrote Washington, “to acknowledge the Providence of almighty God, to obey his Will, to be grateful for his Benefits, and humbly to implore His Protection and Favor.”

President Washington asked that on Thanksgiving Day the people of the United States:

“unite in rendering unto [God] our sincere and humble Thanks for his kind Care and Protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation; for … the great degree of Tranquility, Union and Plenty which we have since enjoyed; for … the civil and religious Liberty with which we are blessed, and … for all the great and various Favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.”

Two hundred years later, we continue to offer thanks to the Almighty – not only for the material prosperity that our Nation enjoys, but also for the blessings of peace and freedom. Our Nation has no greater treasures than these.
As we pause to acknowledge the kindnesses God has shown to us – and, indeed, His gift of life itself – we do so in a spirit of humility as well as gratitude. When the United States was still a fledgling democracy, President Washington asked the American people to unite in prayer to the “great Lord and ruler of Nations,” in order to:

“beseech him to pardon our national and other Transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private Stations, to perform our several and relative Duties properly and punctually; to render our national Government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a Government of wise, just and constitutional Laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations … and to bless them with good Government, peace and Concord.”

Today, we, too, pause on Thanksgiving with humble and contrite hearts, mindful of God’s mercy and forgiveness and of our continued need for His protection and guidance. On this day, we also remember that one gives praise to God not only through prayers of thanksgiving, but also through obedience to His commandments and service to others, especially those less fortunate than ourselves.

While some Presidents followed Washington’s precedent, and some State Governors did as well, President Lincoln – despite being faced with the dark specter of civil war – renewed the practice of proclaiming a national day of Thanksgiving. This venerable tradition has been sustained by every President since then, in times of strife as well as times of peace and prosperity.

Today, we continue to offer thanks and praise to our Creator, that “Great Author of every public and private good,” for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us. In so doing, we recall the timeless words of the 100th Psalm:

“Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 23, 1989, as a National Day of Thanksgiving, and I call upon the American people to gather together in homes and places of worship on that day of thanks to affirm by their prayers and their gratitude the many blessings God has bestowed upon us and our Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this seventeenth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and fourteenth.

(signed)GEORGE BUSH


2007 Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation
Americans are a grateful people, ever mindful of the many ways we have been blessed. On Thanksgiving Day, we lift our hearts in gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy, the people we love, and the gifts of our prosperous land.

Our country was founded by men and women who realized their dependence on God and were humbled by His providence and grace. The early explorers and settlers who arrived in this land gave thanks for God’s protection and for the extraordinary natural abundance they found. Since the first National Day of Thanksgiving was proclaimed by President George Washington, Americans have come together to offer thanks for our many blessings. We recall the great privilege it is to live in a land where freedom is the right of every person and where all can pursue their dreams. We express our deep appreciation for the sacrifices of the honorable men and women in uniform who defend liberty. As they work to advance the cause of freedom, our Nation keeps these brave individuals and their families in our thoughts, and we pray for their safe return.

While Thanksgiving is a time to gather in a spirit of gratitude with family, friends, and neighbors, it is also an opportunity to serve others and to share our blessings with those in need. By answering the universal call to love a neighbor as we want to be loved ourselves, we make our Nation a more hopeful and caring place.

This Thanksgiving, may we reflect upon the past year with gratefulness and look toward the future with hope. Let us give thanks for all we have been given and ask God to continue to bless our families and our Nation.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 22, 2007, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship with family, friends, and loved ones to reinforce the ties that bind us and give thanks for the freedoms and many blessings we enjoy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-second.

(signed)GEORGE W. BUSH

Resurrection Day 2015

not_my_will_33573I caught this photo just after sunrise Saturday morning, and I think it’s rather appropriate for Resurrection Sunday.  This is the day Jesus made good on His mission to atone for the sins of the world.  No other person in history could have made that sacrifice on our behalf, providing a way for us to get to Heaven to join a sinless God who so loved a world full of sinners.

As I decompress from having to defend the faith upon which our nation was founded, a la SB2279, I feel it’s very important to point out one thing: these deviant sexual behaviors, while certainly sin, are no worse than any other sin.  Yes, that’s right.  In 21st century terms, sin is digital.  It’s a 1 or a 0, and NO sin can enter heaven.

The Bible points out that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  That’s why we need a savior, and today’s the day we celebrate that selfless act He performed on our behalf.

Amen.

Gettin’ its good side

capitol_2015_32601This morning I posted how I prefer to take photos of the capitol windows in the morning rather than at night.  Even so, I came out tonight to chase some more photos of the tower with 2015 in the windows.  January 2nd is a weekday, and the people working in the capitol don’t get it off, so I think the numbers will be gone tomorrow.  Fortunately, the low cloud cover bounced and diffused the city light to give a similar effect.

Having tackled the lighting issue in the morning and at night, I thought I would point out something that will have make your capitol photos stand out from the typical:  the capitol’s best side is not its front side.

 

capitol_2015_32588This is my favorite angle of all: from the northwest corner.  This has actually gotten simultaneously easier and harder with all the construction going on in the area.  When they put in the new parking lot in the northwest area a year or two ago, that provided a nice angle no longer obstructed by a row of trees.  The recent renovation and reconfiguration of the north parking lot has put a lot of really bright lights in the way.  Thankfully I was able to find an angle that avoided most of them and their glare, providing the only clean angle you can get of both the tower and the legislative wing.  I don’t even mind that the front steps and Memorial Hall are absent from this photo.

 

capitol_2015_32616This one requires a short hike from Divide Avenue, but it’s worth it.  You get two unobstructed sides of the tower with trees in the foreground.

 

These are two of my favorite views of the capitol.  The view from the bottom of the mall is so cliche’ at this point, the view from the southeast is full of those pesky streetlights, and the view from the southwest makes getting the whole legislative wing nearly impossible.  It was fun working the angles and listening to a podcast tonight, watching all the people driving through the grounds and snapping quick cell phone photos.  It occurred to me that perhaps my favorite part of the capitol window displays isn’t the displays themselves, but the enthusiasm so many North Dakotans have for them.

I’m not a smart man, Jenny…but I know this trick

capitol_2015_32539Last night was a little ugly for photography. It was cold. It was windy. I was preoccupied with taking my little guys to Mandan to light a few dollars’ worth of fireworks, then bringing them home for story time with Rush Revere.  I checked the weather on and off through the night, but the wind and cold kept me indoors.  That’s okay; I had another plan, anyway.

 

capitol_2015_32537One problem I had right off the bat when doing photos of the capitol with the windows lit was the dark surroundings; the lit windows looked like dots floating in the dark.  I realized that I needed a brighter background if I wanted the photo to look better, so I started chasing my capitol photos just before dawn.

 

capitol_2015_32546Showing up a little before dawn gives one the flexibility to let the light you want come to you.  It’s a delicate balance between having things too dark and too bright, because you want the “2015” to stand out.

 

capitol_2015_32551Of course, it’s half part luck. If this morning had been sunny, I’d have been sunk.  The cloudy sky, however, diffused the waxing light of the sunrise just enough to give me what I needed.  The snow and capitol were lit, as was the sky in the background, but not enough to blow out the numbers in the windows.

 

capitol_2015_32555It’s a just-perfect set of circumstances that will allow you to get a shot like this, where it looks like daylight but the windows are still visible.  I didn’t do any Photoshop or Lightroom trickery to make any of these shots happen.  It’s all by trying to glean an understanding of the light, being in the right place at the right time, and having the good fortune of the weather conditions required.  I was out of bed, done with my photos, and back home before my first bleary-eyed little boy wandered out of his bedroom to say good morning to Daddy.

Happy New Year!

 

 

How to tell it’s still Christmas

chmielewskis_32517It wouldn’t be Christmas without a photo of the Chmielewski’s Christmas Corner.  I went by last night to grab a photo or two, and it was magnificent.  I didn’t have to wait for traffic, either!

One other display you should check out, which I didn’t photograph, is the Holiday Lights 4 U display on Columbine Drive.  I’m not going to ruin the surprise, but there is an element of this display that I haven’t seen anywhere else, and which will blow your mind the first time you see it.  If you’re a kid, it’ll be especially cool.  That display should be up through the weekend, too.

I still have the Christmas lights and tree up in my studio at work, and the Christmas songs play on repeat.  I suppose I’ll take them down next week when I return to work, but for now I’m keeping the spirit of the season alive and well.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It’s about time…

capitol_windows_32511Now that there’s snow on the grass, I figured I’d venture out and grab a shot of the capitol with the windows lit.  Check.  Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it!

I got what I wanted for Christmas: prior to opening gifts this morning, I read from Luke 2:8-14…

linus_christmasWhat’s so cool about that, other than the obvious?  The fact that my entire (albeit little) family recited it with me, including the little influenza case on the couch with his blankie.  You see, Linus Van Pelt is not the only one who has memorized this passage of scripture.  We all have.  In fact, my oldest got up in front of our church with a microphone and recited it when he was four years old.  He took it upon himself to do this after watching A Charlie Brown Christmas with his daddy.  How awesome is that?

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

One more time, with feeling

capitol_tree_32410Feeling blue?  I absolutely love blue; it’s right up there with Kawasaki Green for me.  That’s why I had to employ one of my few photographic tricks last night – being in the right place at the right time – to get this shot of the Capitol’s Christmas tree with the windows of the Memorial Hall filled with a vibrant blue in the background.

During Monday night’s ceremony I took careful note of when this phenomenon occurred, using my phone for some test shots.  I came up with some really nice blue at around 5:18 pm.  Obviously there was plenty of ceremony remaining, so there was no way I could get all those people and chairs out of the way to catch the light I was anticipating.  As an annual attendee of this ceremony I understood this, and used the opportunity to do my homework for a Tuesday night shoot.  For those of you out there who like to do this kind of photography, you probably already understand the importance of research.  If you don’t, consider this a tip.

So, I arrived at the capitol just after 5pm and set up, letting the light come to me.  I required a clear sky, which thankfully God provided, and just clicked away for a while until I got just the right blue with the exposure and fill flash settings I’d prepared.

Governor Dalrymple was the last person I saw leaving the capitol, around 5:30 or so, and he gave my photo pal Zach and me a cheerful greeting on his way out.  I can tell that he and Betsy, as well as Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley and his wife, really enjoy this season and the festive way in which North Dakota’s capitol celebrates in tradition.

Ta da! This year’s Christmas Tree adorns Memorial Hall

capitol_tree_32392Isn’t she lovely?  This is the 2014 Christmas tree in the Memorial Hall of the North Dakota state capitol.  The ceremony, as usual, was wonderful and a highlight of my year.  There were Christmas carols, Bible verses, and of course cookies and cider.

In conjunction with this festive occasion, the capitol windows once again display a Christmas tree shape in green and red.  I didn’t stop for photos of that, but I’m sure I’ll take advantage of the opportunity soon.

Amid continued rumors that fire code keeps threatening the possibility of switching to an artificial tree, I was pleased to find that we have a real Douglas Balsam Fir again this year.  Both the governor and lieutenant governor have told me that they’re resolved to keep a real tree part of the tradition.

Incidentally, and I didn’t know this until just now, the tree’s arrival was actually delayed by a day.  I was otherwise engaged last Monday and was unable to hang around awaiting its arrival.  I guess the weather was so cold that the temperature change from bringing itside could have damaged the tree and caused it to shed many of its needles.  Thankfully, it’s here and looking healthy.

Oh, how I love this season!