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Zen Bunny

October 20th, 2016

Zen Bunny

I have rabbits in my backyard. They live in the foliage under two large pine trees. Occasionally, I see a new group of little bunnies running around and I know Mr. and Mrs. Bunny have a new batch of youngsters.

In the past few months I have noticed a strange phenomenon. One of the adult rabbits will come out of hiding when it rains, pick a spot on the lawn and just sit there for hours. Today he has been sitting under one of my maple trees in the same spot, unmoving for over six hours.

I’m not making this up. He doesn’t change locations, he doesn’t move his head. The first time he did this, he was laying down in the grass and after a while I was afraid perhaps he had died there, but he eventually moved several hours later.

Today, he is sitting straight and staring into space. I wonder what could be going through that little bunny brain. This is the most Buddha-like rabbit I’ve ever seen. I have been calling him “Mr. Bunny”, but I think it would be more appropriate if I change that to “Zen Bunny”.

Maybe we can all take a lesson from Zen Bunny. Just slow down and be “one with the grass” once in a while.

Rocks and Trees

September 3rd, 2016

Rocks and Trees

I’m infatuated with all rocks and trees. I take at least five photographs of trees every time I go out with my camera. The problem comes in when it’s time to describe what I’ve captured. I am botanically stupid. I have tree field guides but some trees look a lot like others and I can’t always distinguish. I WANT to study trees - their usual habitats, their characteristics, the varieties around the world, but there’s only so much time in the day and I’m still fully employed.

I also never met a rock I didn’t like. I have several photos for sale of the beautiful lichen-covered granite in Acadia National Park - images of the stunning red rock formations near Sedona, Arizona and several other rocky locations through the country. I know slightly more about geology than I know about trees simply because geology has always fascinated me and I’ve actually read more about it.

It’s hard when you become fascinated by a subject and you don’t have time to study it well. I hate being “outside looking in” so to speak. I want to actually know what I’m talking about. It would be nice to be able to remember everything you read about everything. I could read a field guide one time in that case and actually know what I’m looking at when I’m out in the field.

This is just a small lamentation about what I have not had time to incorporate fully into my life. For now, I will just content myself with capturing the beauty and mystery around me with my camera, and if I live to be 100, perhaps I can squeeze in some learning along the way and have a deeper understanding of what I’m seeing through the viewfinder.

The Liberation of Aging

May 28th, 2016

The Liberation of Aging

I am getting older and as any older person can tell you it’s quite common to get to a point in your life when you reassess some of the things you have done all your life and finally you say “Why am I doing this?”. I Have what a lot of older people have which is a condition whereby my eyes are continually dry. I also have slightly darker skin under my eyes than the rest of my face, which is a family trait. I have for more years than I can count worn cover stick (makeup for under the eyes for you guys out there who are not up on your makeup terminology) and in the last two or three years, I’ve found that my eyes are sensitive to it and get irritated and even dryer.

Last week I shook off that last holdout of feminine vanity and forsook the cover stick which was the last vestige of makeup I was still wearing. It was liberating. Although I’m not ready to stop wearing a bra in public or stop bathing and washing my hair, I found that nobody ran away from me in horror or stared because I was not wearing cover stick. In fact, I don’t look that much different without it unless I’ve been deprived of sleep for 24 hours, in which case I do look like I have gone a couple of rounds with Mohamed Ali.

The older I get, the less I care what the outside world thinks about me and I’m finding it exhilarating. I have nothing bad to say about older ladies who wear a tasteful amount of makeup, but I see far too many women in their 60s and 70s piling it on thicker every year making a person afraid to give them a kiss on the cheek or a cheek to cheek hug for fear of having to shower afterward. We will not discuss in detail the look of base makeup and powder accumulation in wrinkles (shudder).

Too many “mature” ladies are trying to hold onto their youth and to appear attractive to the opposite sex. I think what they don’t realize is if a mature man is attracted to you it has nothing to do with your face (or very little anyway).

My husband has not noticed any difference in my appearance, and, indeed, I’ve worn less and less makeup every year until last week when I finally started going facially “naked”.

Now you many think this blog entry is kind of silly and unimportant in the grander scheme of things, and you would be partly right, but just stop and think for a minute about the stuff that controls you instead of the stuff you control.

I no longer worry about what people think of me when I lie down on the boardwalk by the river in town to take a photo of a dew-draped spider web in fog along the railing.

And I do it now with a naked face.

Connecting with your Subject

February 21st, 2016

Connecting with your Subject

Throughout my photographic journey, I’ve come to realize, as everyone else who makes art realizes, I connect with some subjects and not with others. I’m partway through the book “The Zen of Creativity” by John Daido Loori and I’m enjoying it very much. His description of connecting with your subject before you shoot it brought very much to the surface what I was trying to do before, but I was previously doing it on a subconscious level.

I’m now consciously developing a relationship with an old dock downtown where I live, along with some old pilings around it. I’ve shot that dock from every angle I can think of. I have not, however, had enough guts to climb out on the other old dock next to it because even though I can swim, that water is frigid and I don’t want to have to replace my camera equipment. Heaven only knows how strong that dock is.

I’m taking photos of this old dock and the one next to it in every season and in every weather condition and the water around them is an entirely different color depending on the time of day. Sometimes the water is green because it’s overcast and the algae on the retaining wall and the rocks and the old pilings gives the water its color. When it’s afternoon and sunny, the blue sky overcomes much of the green and the water is a beautiful blue. Sometimes the color lies in between. My favorite condition of all, however, is when the old docks and pilings are in dense fog. They seem to be floating in space and are quite other-worldly. The only thing that shatters the silence and peacefulness at the shore in very dense fog is the occasional freighter horn. Trust me, if you don’t hear the thing creeping up on you and she sounds that horn while she’s going by before you see her, well, you had better not be right at the edge of the dock because you may end up in the water from an involuntary startle response.

But back to my dock, I suppose I should not have favorites, but like Charlie Brown and his Christmas tree, I favor the poor broken dock over his more in-tact cousin. I get more comments and views on the more “perfect” dock, but my poor broken friend gets more of my attention every time I go there.

On a happy note, someone finally bought the historic inn right next to these beautiful old reminders of boating past, and is going to restore it. It has been vacant for a few years and needs some work, but the buyer is supposedly motivated to keep the charm and eventually open it for business again. I will be very happy to see the inn come back to its former glory - it’s on the National Register of Historic Places - but I can’t help but wonder what he will do with the old docks. Will he have them removed? Will my rickety old friend be taken away and replaced with something shiny and new? People used to dock there on a summer day to eat at the hotel dining room after a day out on the river. Since my friend is broken and unstable, I think he will probably be replaced, but until then I will continue the relationship and when he’s gone, at least I will have several portrait of him to remind me of his silent, stately beauty.

The Shoulds

December 5th, 2015

You know when you were growing up, ladies, and your mother told you “You have to get your work done before you can play”? How does one shake that off? I “should” get off my rear end and vacuum. I threw out a dead plant a couple of days ago, and I swept up the dead leaves of said plant with my little carpet roller-sweeper thing - you know, the kind they use in restaurants to sweep up crumbs - but I’ve been staring at the dead leaves right against my door wall ever since. I “should” get out my regular vacuum cleaner and use the hose attachment to suck up the rest of those leaves, but I don’t feel like it.

It’s very foggy this morning, and I “should” grab my camera and go down to the river to shoot the old pilings in fog, but I’ve done that from every angle I can think of already so I don’t feel like it. Besides, it’s so foggy on the river when it’s like this, I can’t get any shots of the freighters. You can’t even see them in this weather even though they are close to the docks.

I “should” get in the shower right now, but I don’t feel like it. I’m not going anywhere today so I’ll wait unit later.

I “should” do some online work, I’m slightly motivated to do that, but I don’t feel like it right now. Maybe later.

I “should” get the Christmas tree out - it’s small so it only takes me about half an hour to get it out and set it up and decorate it, but I don’t feel like doing it right now, so maybe later.

I “should” do the laundry. We went to our son’s house in Massachusetts for Thanksgiving and all that travel laundry is in the basket, but I don’t fee like doing it, so maybe tomorrow.

So what am I left with here? I have not made a blog post for a couple of months, so I “should” write one. I guess that’s what this is.

The quantum physics people say that “thoughts are things”, so maybe if I think about sucking up those leaves and getting out the Christmas tree and doing my online work and showering and getting some shots of the foggy docks and doing the laundry, it will all get done - let’s test that theory and see if it works, shall we?

Oh, yeah, here’s my blog post. Got something accomplished today. Yeah!

The Nighttime Snack

September 25th, 2015

Dreams of horrors death and fear
I don't know why they just appear
I ate too much, I ate too late
Perhaps that served to seal my fate.

From now on, nothing after eight
To eat thereafter is too late
My psyche triggers horror scenes
Of aliens and things obscene

I'd rather dream of art and love
Of grass below and skies above
So I will do the best I know
To keep it light and peaceful so
The aliens will not appear
And give me all this graying hair.

Directionless

September 9th, 2015

Ah, a three-day weekend! What every traditionally employed person waits for. It’s here and I’m in the middle of it. Although I generally don’t exhibit any ADD behavior, give me three days off in a row and I bounce into walls. I can’t figure out what to do with myself until the weekend is almost over. So I sit and think “Should I read? Should I go out with the camera? Should I just watch tv? Should I stare at my navel?”

I could always clean my house, but what fun is that? I did go out with the camera yesterday and will probably go out again tomorrow, but today here I sit watching “Say yes to the dress.”

Why is it so hard for me to pin down what I want to do in my free time? I would go out with the camera, but the skies are that kind of high-clouds hazy blue I don’t really like. I’ve also run out of ideas as to what to shoot around here, so I got on the internet and typed in “Things to photograph in Saint Clair County”. There was a list of a few things they considered photogenic including a few historic homes and some locations I have already photographed, but the list actually also contained a couple of drainage ditch bridges. Really? I’ve seen those bridges and I don’t know anyone in their right mind who would hang a picture of these concrete monstrosities on their wall.

Maybe sometimes it’s ok to not have a direction. Maybe I should just let this ship sail wherever it takes me. As long as it doesn’t sail over to the vacuum cleaner or the kitchen mop, I’ll be fine.

Confessions of an Obsession Part 6

June 7th, 2015

I have mentioned my book-hoarding tendencies in previous blog posts. Yes, I’m still a book hoarder. Sort of…I once spent two days searching for a thin book on composition that I thought I might have gotten rid of and which people were asking $75.00 for on Amazon resellers. When I finally found it, I put it somewhere I could always find it. I forget right now where that is. I may have to look later for my own peace of mind.

But I digress. I have way too many books for 4 wall-to-ceiling bookcases and three more short book cases which left 3 large piles on my bedroom floor. My bedroom is about 13 x 15, so it’s not tiny and the piles were against the wall by my side of the bed and on the other side of the tall bookcase, and not actually in anyone’s path, except when the piles by the bed would fall over, then it was hard for me to get into my nightstand.

Please, before I go on, I must insist I do read everything I buy. Well, almost everything I buy. Ok, at least half of what I buy, but a lot of things are strictly reference, and you don’t read those cover to cover - Audubon field guides and knitting pattern books, for example.

Being dismayed by the number of “piles” in my bedroom and the number of books shoved into a wall nook in my daughter’s old room, which consists of two shelves probably 3 1/2 feet deep and 3 feet wide (more suited for extra linens than books), I decided it was time for another purge. I had slowly built a few piles up in the short hallway by my front door, that were slated to go out. I started piling books there maybe 6 months ago.

This week, the piles by the bed and the piles by the door finally got to me. I cleared off the second shelf in my daughter’s room - now my guest room - and took some of my “keepers” up there. I’m proud to say, I only filled a fraction of that shelf. I put several more books from this shuffling around by the front door so there were 4 significant piles there, and Friday, I took every single book out to my trunk and filled it completely - at least 150 books, consisting of books I had read, books that were out of date, books that were not what I expected when I ordered them, and yes, the occasional duplicate I had because I had forgotten I already owned it (maybe 2 or 3 of those).

Pathetic, I know.

Yesterday I drove to the local Meijer, which has a drop box in the back of the parking lot from “Book world” or “World of books” - can’t remember the name exactly, and put each and every book in that slot - well, except I rescued two books I just couldn’t part with, but that’s pretty good for a book hoarder, yes? I mean, I’m looking for some kudos here or a “well done”. Not looking for someone to say “you still have a problem”. That was at least 150 books I put in that bin. So give a girl some credit. I’ve taken over 200 books to the local library as well over the last couple of years. I worked long and hard hours to get all those books so if you try to take away the ones I really won’t part with, there will be a bit of resistance. Ok, a LOT of resistance.

To close, I will say I am an amateur for sure. I watched an episode of Hoarders last week (it was a rerun, I had seen it before) about a couple who had approximately 400,000 books in their house. You had to walk sideways between the book cases. How their floors didn’t collapse, I have no idea. The city was going to be inspecting their property so they decided they needed to do something about the hoard. When the show was done, they had removed over 20,000 books from the living room and kitchen ONLY (this house had several rooms). Apparently they have been working on purging slowly ever since.

Ok, I maybe still own 300 books. Let’s see, 24 book shelves times 20 books average per shelf - that’s 400 books. Plus the overflow (there’s still a pile between my dressers) and on one shelf in my guest room) so maybe 450 books. These people had 400,000!! I can’t even imagine that. It takes me an hour sometimes to a find book I want to refer to but that should be much easier for me now that most everything is on a bookshelf. I don’t know how these people could even remember what they actually owned.

We won’t discuss the few books I have in the closet in my son’s old room. At least I don’t have any shoved under the bed. Well, I don’t THINK I do…..

Duh

April 25th, 2015

Sell Art Online
I’m planning on joining my local art association soon and I have a few photos printed to mat and bag for their store. I have close to 3,000 images to choose from so I was having a hard time deciding what to print.

I printed about 25 of my favorites and put them in a portfolio for further consideration. I have been thinking this entire time “I should have printed this one. I should have printed that one”.

This morning I had a realization. You may read this next part and say “Well, DUH!”, but I’m almost embarrassed to write this. I thought “You have some photos that have sold more than one time. Why don’t you print and mat those!” Wow, where has my brain been? Several of my local photos have sold and the lady in the store said they sell a lot of local images. I didn’t print any of those.

What a giant brain mishap. Ok, so I’m going to use up some more ink and print the stuff that has SOLD already. Sometimes I need a 2 x 4 to the head, you know?

No rain in my bathroom any more and other excuses

April 11th, 2015

I have a fan on my bathroom ceiling that stopped working a while ago because water got in through the vent on the roof and fried the motor. Thank goodness it didn’t cause a fire, but after that, I had to put a bucket under that vent when it rained because it would slowly drip on the bathroom floor due to what I can only guess were rotten boards under my roof shingles. Finally, after a winter of “kicking the bucket”, we got a good estimate and got a new roof - or at least re-shingled and had the leaky part replaced.

Story of my life lately. I take care of the major repairs, but I can’t motivate myself to clear out the basement (that nobody ever sees so who cares?) that is full of broken exercise equipment (including a treadmill) and other junk - boxes of old vinyl records and broken computers and lamps. And I can’t get myself to do a major book purge - my one hoarding tendency. There has been a small pile of books in my entryway hall for a few months now destined for the library, and there’s no snow on the porch finally, so what’s my excuse? There are books upstairs on my three giant bookcases I have not touched since I got them and probably will never read. OK, as a visual artist, I can see the need to have several reference books, but let’s face it, in this digital age I’m never going to have a darkroom, so why would I need a book on developing my own film? and I’ll never teach myself Norwegian (a goodly part of my ethnic heritage) so why do I need a book on Norwegian grammar? I will also never make my own paper - but somehow I really want to keep that one because I actually read it and find it interesting.

We won’t mention the two or three duplicates I have of some books because I forgot I already bought them. Good thing Amazon has that little “Purchased on….” with a date above a book when you look at it now.

Lately, I’ve been purchasing field guides so I can identify the tree or butterfly I’ve photographed and I’m finding those useful, but they are on one of the piles on my bedroom floor because there is no place to put them on my book shelves. This has to be remedied.

About 6 months ago, I brought out some books that I've had for several years about professional photographers in various genres - fashion, closeup, wildlife, portraits, and I was appalled at how bad these photos were. The portraits book is still impressive and so was the landscape book. I’m keeping those two, but what did I do with the three disappointing ones? Did I put them in the pile by the door? No, of course not, I took them back upstairs.

I know I probably have some hoarding tendencies. My father (as I found out the hard way when he died) was a bit of a hoarder. Heck, I still have old flip phones and my blackberry in the closet even though I haven’t used it for three years now and it’s BROKEN, but my worst addiction is books.

I was going to go out with the camera either today or tomorrow, but it’s kind of cloudy today, so I think I will wait until tomorrow when the sun is supposed to stay our all day, and I’m going to grit my teeth and add to the pile by the door. Maybe even put some books in my trunk. One step closer to breaking the addiction.

 

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