Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Spring Awakens at Olbrich Gardens

Having photographed (at least according to my sister) all the flowers in Korea, it was high time that I began to document those spring beauties in Wisconsin. Spring in Wisconsin is a few weeks behind that of Korea, so I had to be a bit more patient. Finally (as my eyes and sinuses also revealed), the warmer temperatures have awakened spring in the area. After completing my online teaching, I took advantage of the pleasant temperatures and non-rainy late morning to walk to the Olbrich Gardens. It was the first time that I had visited Olbrich in spring, so I was eager to see what it would look like.

Other people, young and old, seemed to have had the same idea, strolling around the grounds (free admission) to see what firstfruits of spring were present. While many areas still looked rather dormant, sections were sprinkled with color. Blue Stars carpeted the ground, interspersed with daffodils. Magnolias and cherry blossoms added to the color palette, offering variation in size and color. I crouched low to the ground to get some shots, immediately getting dirt on my freshly laundered jeans. Oh, the price that a photographer must pay! 

Needless to say, it wasn't difficult to quickly rack up quite a few shots. I'll have to return in a week or less to see what further changes there will be. The folks (including many volunteers) were busy with spring cleaning and preparing many areas. I can't wait to see the fruits of their labors!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

On our way to Antelope Canyon, we stopped for a short visit to Horseshoe Bend.  Although it is located only five miles from the beginning of the Grand Canyon National Park, the weather was remarkably different from our visit to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon just a day earlier. 
To reach the famed spot, we walked about 3/4 a mile off of Highway 89. The soil here was very sandy, its red-orange color contrasting sharply with the blue skies above. Not a tree in sight.
In a few places, people had created sculptures with the rocks.

The sandstone rocks were quite weathered, sculpted by wind and rain.
A boat makes its way around the bend
Once at the lookout point, we were afforded a breathtaking view of the Colorado River 1,000 feet (305 meters) below, curving its way around the Navajo sandstone. In addition to taking the classic shot of the bend, I took some alternative views. 

A bridal couple posed for some photos. A drone (even though signs explicitly stated that drones were forbidden) buzzed overhead, taking additional shots. 

If you are visiting the Grand Canyon or Antelope Canyon, this stop is worth your time! 

Arizona, Horseshoebend, melissaenderle

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Walk Through the Desert Wildflowers at Catalina State Park

I timed my trip down to Arizona this spring so I could see the desert wildflowers. The area had received ample rainfall this winter, so the flowers were happy. We took a drive about 1 1/2 hours away and visited the Catalina State Park near Tucson. 

I was surprised to see how green much of the park was. The leaves of many of the trees were emerging, and grasses of different sorts looked very fresh - unlike the wild grasses near Apache Junction which have already dried up. The creek going through the park definitely helped.
In addition, the area was dotted with various wildflowers, in various intensities of yellow, white, orange, red, orange, and blue. Some were so tiny and appeared to be very fragile. They reminded me of some of the tundra flowers higher on a mountain.

Some of the flowers played hide-and-seek, peeking out between the cacti. Many of the cacti themselves were beginning to blossom as well. I suspect that in a few weeks, rocky hills and mountains in this park will look very different yet again, with these fragile rainbows all dry and withered up, hoping to reappear next year.

See more of my photos from Catalina State Park on my Flickr Site

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Meetup with Teton Ken

Having completed my drawing of Teton Ken and his burro Daisy, I wanted to bring the artwork back to Arizona so Ken could see it. He had been so obliging when I had asked if I could take some photos of him back in December, that I wanted to show him what I had created. I called up the staff at the Superstition Mountain Museum where Ken often came during the weekends to give kids ride on his burros. They informed me that Teton Ken had been recovering from a heart attack he had about a month ago. Upon seeing the drawing, they gave me Ken's phone number and we arranged to meet the following day. 

Ken was especially touched that I had included his burro Daisy, as she had died from a rattlesnake bite just a few days prior to his heart attack. Ken said I had captured Daisy's likeness and his pals agreed that the depiction of this former prospector was quite authentic as well. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

March Madness

No, this is not a long-lost photo from December. It was taken last week, on a walk in my neighborhood in Madison. Tonight I sit in the airport waiting to go to Arizona, where I will be "warmly" greeted with temps around 90°F (32°C). No snow boots needed, nor any of that other March madness! Here's looking forward to sunshine and saguaros! 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Arches of Baby Taj

Right now, I've been following some of the travels through India by some of my friends who are on spring break. In addition to the more famous Taj Mahal, one can also visit the also Itmad-ud-Dulah, known as the Baby Taj. Built prior to the Taj Mahal, this highly ornate but smaller mausoleum represents the first phase of monuments built in the Mughal Style. This photo was taken from the archway of the main building and frames the entry gate.

Read my previous post on the Baby Taj.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Arches of a Different Name

Since I posted an image related to the "Golden Arches" from the Phillipines the other day, this post deals with a different, but also famous, arch. Here I am (around 2002), pictured sitting under the triumphal arch of Alexander Severus. Erected in 228 AD in honor of of Roman Emperor Alexander Severus, it was one of two arches at the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It functioned as one of the city gates, at the end of a road leading from Carthage to the city of Tebessa.
Through the archway we can see the site's famous Capitol, built in 166 AD.

Tunisia is amazing for its ancient history. Dougga is one of several ancient sites in this small country - very worthwhile visiting.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

From Shorts to Snow

Ah, Wisconsin! As I zipped up my jacket a little bit higher to shield myself from the arctic air, I surveyed the scene around me. 

Powdery snow blew freely, forming ripples reminiscent of those formed in the Sahara Desert. Ducks huddled near the shore, under fallen branches and leaning grasses. My fingers felt awkward as I clumsily tried to manipulate the dials on my camera. How could it be that just a couple of days earlier, Madison residents were strolling about in shorts - and some even complaining about the heat!

Of course, it wouldn't last. Perhaps in a couple of months, spring will try again. For now I'll have to be content with the pillowy rocks and icy ripples.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bharatanatyam Meets Madison

When I read an announcement that Bharatanatyam Dancers were going to be performing at Olbrich Gardens in Madison, I jumped at the opportunity to see this oldest of classical Indian dances, right in my neighborhood. Although it was not hot and sticky like it often was when I attended the performances in Chennai, the unusual spring-like February temperatures were just fine for me.

I arrived around the same time as some of the younger dancers. Unzipped winter jackets revealed the colorful costumes. A mother quickly "painted on" the finger designs with a colored Sharpie in place of customary henna. Artificial jasmine had to suffice instead of the customary fragrant floral strands adorning the plaited hair.

An instructor of the local Bharatanatyam Dance school introduced the girls (ages 5-16) and gave the audience a brief intro to what they were about to see. She explained how the eyes and hands were a highly integral part of conveying emotions in the expressive dances. Some of the younger students
The sophistication of footwork, hand gestures, and eye/neck movements increased with the age levels. Poses hearkened to the gods celebrated at Hindu temples, such as Krishna and Shiva. An enjoyable Saturday morning in Madison!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

A February Winter Sunset

These last few days, we have been blessed by sunshine (sometimes a rarity in winter). This evening, the clouds were present just enough to create some beautiful sunset effects. This view is from my balcony in Madison.

Friday, February 10, 2017

The Doors of Tunisia

Old Door, Mahdia - Watercolor by Melissa Enderle
One of the most enduring symbols of Tunisia is the door. Whether meandering through the old souks or in modern homes, from palaces to rather humble homes, elegant doors can often be found gracing their entrances. The doors of Tunisia serve as a gateway between the private domain and public space. Many are of a horseshoe shape, framed with local marble or stone. Some are rectangular. 

Sidi Bou Saïd Door with Bougainvillea - Oil Pastel by Melissa Enderle 
Quite often a smaller door is contained within the larger one, enabling further preservation of privacy.  Visitors riding on horseback could use the top left door knocker and enter while still mounted. The lower right handle was for the women and children, and the upper right was for the master of the house. Tunisian doors are often studded with decorative nail heads in a symmetrical arrangement, disguising the construction methods and enhancing the appearance. Symbols such as the star, fir tree, and eye are prevalent. Blue is the most popular color (especially in the town of Sidi Bou Saïd), but doors can also be found in yellow, green, or natural wood colors. 

See some of my photos of the doors of Sidi Bou Saïd in my Flickr album
More of my artwork of Tunisia

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Shadows in the Snow

Having finally spotted the sun, I happily bundled up and went for a photowalk. With the addition of a strong light source, the snow glittered and objects became more dimensional. It also created some wonderful shadows.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Teton Ken and Daisy: Color Pencil Artwork

Below is the latest artwork I have completed, a color pencil drawing of Teton Ken (formal name of Ken Eddy). I met Ken and his burro Daisy at the Superstition Museum, where he was very willing to pose for me and chat. Gleaning information about Ken was far easier than most of my subjects in foreign countries, where language and/or time was a challenge. 
With my grizzly beard, worn leather hat, gun, and mining gear saddled on ‘ol Daisy, I certainly look the part of a gold prospector. Yessiree, I can truthfully say that I have found a nugget or two, but nothing that would make me rich. I admit that I have been amongst the many who have gone up in these here Superstition Mountains searching for the fabled Lost Dutchman mine, but the greatest wealth I gained there revolved around enjoying the spectacular scenery. Leading some adult treasure-hunters and movie crews up the mountain also helped pay some bills and enabled me to purchase several burros including this here Daisy. I even acted as the ghost of the Lost Dutchman in a movie! On weekends, Daisy and I hang out here at the Superstition Museum, giving kids rides on my burros. I’m not sure who has more fun - me or the kiddos!

See more of my artwork on my website

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Crooked Branches and Leaning Trees

Despite the overcast skies, I was determined to get out and take some photos featuring the overnight snowfall. With the flat lighting, I would have to focus on other elements. These branches evoked a stark, but beautiful quality with their dynamic, wiggling lines.

These trees provided some nice diagonals, echoed with the opposing diagonal of the open waters at the shoreline.

See more Winter in Wisconsin photos on my Flickr album

Monday, January 30, 2017

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Artwork: Naxi Woman with Blue Shawl (Color Pencil)

In anticipation of an art exhibition, I wrote a short story about each painting, as if written by the person in the painting. These are all real people, and the stories are based on experience, observation, and representative/factual information typical of someone from that region/profession. Some of these paintings are still available, so if you are interested in purchasing one, please contact me.

For eighty-three years I have trod through the narrow lanes of my small village--first to my parents’ home, and then to my azhu's family farm. I loved living with my nai nai; now I get to enjoy the laughter of my grandchildren as they run through the family courtyard or play with the kittens. Even though my son says I don’t have to go to the market to sell vegetables, I quite like it, for it gives me something to do and a chance to chat with the other women. With a basket securely fastened to my cape, I slowly make my way to the tiny market, chatting with friends along the way.

See more artworks on

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Out for a Quick Cactus Snack

Nearing lunchtime, this squirrel decided to take advantage of the tart, yellow fruit of the barrel cactus. He scrambled up to the plant, deftly (and quickly) climbed up, and began his snack. Those needles didn't seem to bother him at all; neither was he bothered by the people who stopped to snap a photo. In fact, he seemed to enjoy it, switching poses as he grabbed another fruit and chomp away.