Sunday, September 30, 2007

Off the Beaten Path

Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.
Abraham Lincoln

You never know what you will find when you're take a chance to go somewhere you've never been. This shelter structure is what we found when we hiked into a couple of miles into a meadow in Yosemite. It's a reminder to keep exploring, keeping learning and keep going even when you don't feel so much like doing it.

Jessie at Diary of a Self Portrait is doing an incredible journey for the next month of going off the beaten path. Take a look in and offer her some support. Thanks to her thoughts, I picked up my meditation practice this morning. I've been in my head and away from my bodymind for far too long. It's time to listen and heal.

David Koz, "Don't Look Back"(from Off the Beaten Path):


Friday, September 28, 2007

The Promised Land

It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.
Ansel Adams

It's been a week where the United Nations held a Global Warming Summit. What did our beloved president do? He held his own...yet one more instance of the arrogance of our president and his inability to solidify our leadership in world politics. He sees that we lead if we do things on our terms rather then seeing we can lead and still sit down at the table with others....

I found this statue when I was exploring in Arizona and took a photo of it. Francis of Assisi was known for being a rebel and for his love of the earth amongst other things. The photo suggested the theme of today's posting.

Watching the Today show this morning I cheered as Bruce Springsteen spoke against many things in this country that have happened since Bush's administration. What was interesting is that MSN.com had his video "The Promised Land" up earlier with his criticisms which he included as he introduced the song. They then removed them later in the day.

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, "The Promised Land":


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Playing With Light

In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary.
Aaron Rose

One of the joys of photography is playing with light, especially natural light. I've come to love the morning and evening light when it strikes objects in a certain way. You look through viewfinder and see the glow, then you must begin to decide how will your camera best capture the light you are seeing, as your eyes and the camera eye doesn't always fall in sync. This is a large part of the learning curve. When you come close to getting it right it makes all the other times you didn't get what you had hoped worth it. You smile, everything in you sings, and you know why you've chosen this path and why you love playing in the light.

Wilco, "What Light":


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Building and Deconstucting Mysteries

Without mysteries, life would be very dull indeed. What would be left to strive for if everything were known?
Charles de Lint

They have been putting up a new building next to the clinic where I work. I was lucky enough to come back from lunch and found them putting up a piece of the structural frame. A good lesson for always having your camera handy even when you're at work. I loved the sculptural and shadow effects and was able to get some shots off before they discovered I was missing. It's a good lesson in even when you only have 5 minutes you can still make art. Now the mystery remains of what the building will become.

One of the benefits about my longer commute now is I listen to NPR as I drive to and from work. Much to my surprise I really enjoy the reports about economic factors. I'm coming to understand concepts before there were a complete mystery for me. They do a good job of deconstructing what economics, especially world economics are all about. It stretches me and I continue to grow in my understanding of how the pieces of the puzzle that make up this world are put together. But then that is what makes life so enjoyable both the building and deciphering of the mysteries. It would be a dull world without it.

Sarah McLachlan, "Building A Mystery":


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Moons and Roads

May you have warm words on a cold evening,a full moon on a dark night, and a smooth road all the way to your door.
Irish Blessing

Last night as I was driving home from work at twilight, the moon was coming up. It was large and hung over the fields that are being harvested here. Stopping I was able to grab a couple of shots that to my surprise came out as I didn't use a tripod (I'm really loving my Olympus 510). Next month should be a full harvest moon and I'm planning on going out to shoot it.

It's been a good couple of days. I received my "new" laptop last night and I'm already seeing it's going to be great. I'm now able to work on my photos on breaks and lunches on work days and will be able to do photo work with friends when we meet.

Neil Young, "Harvest Moon":


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Seeds of Change


When I was a child I found a book on Greek myths in our library and fell in love with the stories. Two of my favorites have always been of the goddesses Persephone and Psyche. Both were about journeys of maturing and transformation. This fueled my ongoing studies throughout college to now of Jungian archetypes especially in relation to the goddess archetypes and symbols related to them.

Last year a friend knowing my interest in this, gave me a present of
"The Goddess Gift". It involved a quiz to identify your primary goddess archetype. Much to my surprise, Persephone came up as my primary archetype. A quick summary described her as this:

The Greek goddess Persephone represents both the youthful, innocent, and joyous maiden aspect of a woman as well as the more womanly self who, innocence lost and family attachments loosened, can begin to consciously decide for herself. In Greek mythology Persephone, goddess of the soul, is the possessor of its dark and frightening wisdom. But the goddess Persephone is also the harbinger of spring... and a reminder of all the growth and hope that it brings.

Some of the themes of my blogging has been journey, growth, and change. In recent days I have been revisiting the Persephone archetype story and reviewing it. Synchronicity is another theme that I look at. Yesterday when I was walking on a path I found a pomegranate tree and at my feet were a couple the fruits that had fallen from the tree. It was a good experience of synchronicity in finding them as I consider the seeds of change that are growing in my life at this time.

So . . . in the spirit of Persephone and the Pomegranate, here is a recipe for a beverage:

Persephone's Pomegranate Punch

Ingredients:
One gallon of pomegranate juice

One quart apple juice
One cup honey
One cup of water
2 cinnamon sticks
20 cloves (whole)
20 cardamom seeds
One cup almond slivers
One cup dried cranberries

Process:
Place cardamom seeds, cloves and cinnamon in cheesecloth bag and tie tightly.
Bring juices, honey, and water to boiling point, then add spice bag.
Simmer for twenty minutes on medium low heat.
Add almonds and cranberries. Simmer for an additional twenty minutes. Best served warm like mulled cider. Can refrigerate and warm up in the microwave.

Wishbone Ash, "Persephone":

Friday, September 21, 2007

Autumn

Autumn's the mellow time.
William Allingham

Now is a quiet time. While the sun is out, it's been unseasonably cool. As a result reading, soft conversations with friends and cuddling into sweaters have filled the last couple of days. Just recovering, letting go and being ready for whatever is coming next.

George Winston, "Woods", from Autumn:

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Becoming

Take the course opposite to custom and you will do well.
Jean Jacques Rousseau

Not much to say today. I'm continuing to look through the eye of the camera as often as I can. Each time it teaches me to see differently about life, stretches my perceptions and as a result I become more myself.

Audioslave, "Be Yourself":


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

To Look For

Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.
Ray Bradbury

As part of shaking myself out and to help look at my photography with new eyes, I'm taking back roads to work. I'm finding some amazing things. I plan to do some back road field trips also on my days off. It's a great way of discovering more about where I live and what it has to offer. In short in getting myself lost, I'm finding myself.

The procedure this morning went well and it sounds like they found the source of the issue. I'm not allowed to drive for a day or so, and then life is back to normal routine except for some diet/lifestyle changes. Again I'm so lucky to have such supportive friends. They're keeping me in vanilla shakes and reading material.

David Bowie, "America":


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thanks Be

Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together
Woodrow Wilson


Thanks be for friends and family who are your friends. I'm having a medical procedure done at a local hospital tomorrow. My sister offered to fly out, but I didn't have to ask her thanks to a group of friends who are making sure I get there and home since I won't be able to drive. These are my digital photography compadres who I meet with regularly to have coffee, go on trips and keep each other going. My friends who live at a distance have been checking in too. Some people may measure their wealth in what is in their bank account...I measure it by who is around when the chips are down and I'm rich indeed.

James Taylor, "You've Got A Friend":


Sunday, September 16, 2007

California Autumn

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
John Muir

Here are some of the elements of a California autumn morning. Acorns beginning to come off oak trees, a second bloom of roses and early morning sunlight touching them. Dragonflies dancing on water drop opaled leaves.

My Brightest Diamond: "Dragonfly":


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tea Garden


Enjoy life sip by sip not gulp by gulp.
- The Minister of Leaves

Just a look at my garden where I catch up, read and enjoy what nature has to offer.

Seals and Croft, "Hummingbird":



Friday, September 14, 2007

Contemplation of the Dance

The act of contemplation then creates the thing created.
Isaac Disraeli

A quiet week spent in contemplation and looking at the dance of life. It's cooled down and I've taken my morning walks with dew kissing my feet. The leaves are starting their fall descent although we still have a couple of months before they're really gone. Apples and pears have appeared at the markets. The park where I take Bella is full of school children practicing soccer under the ebbing of twilight. For the moment I am content.

Loreena McKennitt, "The Mummers Dance":


Saturday, September 8, 2007

Pearls and Tears

Every rejection is incremental payment on your dues that in some way will be translated back into your work.
James Lee Burke

Today there are pearls and tears. I had my first rejection today from the gallery show I'd applied to. I had thought I didn't care that much about whether I got in or not. I really fooled myself. It brought forth a lot of mixed feelings and questioning about this artist quest. But then I realized this is a good thing, because it makes me look at the path I am pursuing. When I started studying photography a couple of years ago, it was because there was a voice that had been growing within (you might say it was screaming at that point) and insisting on being given a way to express how I see world. For some reason, photography seemed to be the main tool for that expression. But I found that traditional classes didn't fit how I learn best and there was limited time to work on some needed skills, i.e. darkroom time. So I moved to digital late last year. It has been a period of flexing/strengthening muscles, crawling and now I'm beginning to learn to walk.

At first I thought it would be enough to share my work with some chosen friends and family, but I've discovered that no it's not. There are also questions about this need to share; am I doing this for money, for fame, to have people experience my vision of our universal existence or for the ego thrill of it? Not to mention there is so much to learn. As I indicated earlier, I've barely learned to walk holding onto furniture... so I have to continue learning the technical skills needed and then there are the issues of what do I want to say...how do I say it best... When I have refined my skills and vision, I will try again and explore options on how to put the achieved work out there.

Robert Genn, a Canadian painter puts out a twice a month newsletter on creativity and in August he wrote about "Difficult Passages". In it he shared some thoughts which I found wisdom in after today:

"Degree of difficulty may just be an artist's best friend. Think of the struggle evident in the work of Rembrandt--light, chiaroscuro, composition and surface quality, all mixed with psychological power that grabs.

Imagine developing skills so profound and distinct that no one else comes near. It may be difficult, but it just might be worth it. Here are a few possibilities:

Identify weak areas and self-workshop them.
Repeat unique methodologies until they are mastered.
Explore personal nuances and make them yours.
Push on when you're pushing your limits.
Trust in ideas and follow your intuition.
Find out where your new strengths are.
Learn to be your own challenger and advocate.
Know that quality is always in style.
Don’t worry if things turn out to be commercial.
Laugh on the way to the bank."

It's drossing time. And I'm going to have faith and continue to say, "Yes"!

Andreas Vollenweider: "Pearls and Tears":


Friday, September 7, 2007

Quiet Time

Sitting quietly, doing nothing, seasons progress and life changes itself.
Zen Proverb

Just enjoying leisure time and reading the latest issue of Selvedge. I found it last spring and love the muted sensual photos that seem be to done throughout. My quiet time is usually on our brick patio by the herb garden in the gloaming hours of early morning or evening. There I sip a cup of green tea, letting the warmth glide down my throat and well being infuses my senses. Life is renewed and I began again.

Secret Garden, "Lotus":

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Fire and Fotos


I am building a fire, and everyday I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.
Mia Hamm

There are forest fires around Northern California and although we're not in danger, we are getting the smoke. At sunset the sun poked through with fiery orange/red colors. I took this shot, as part of the effort to take some photos that grab my eye every day. This is the one core concept that all of my teachers have emphasized: take pictures and then more pictures and don't ever stop. They also advise to look at the work of the masters and their stories. I found this book on Walker Evans, "Walker Evans Polaroids". It's amazing, he kept going to the very end of his life. It well illustrates both points.

Fritz Ferdinand, "This Fire":


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Luscious and Luxrious


Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.
Ovid

The start of five days off and plans for nothing but pure luxurious relaxation. Even though it's still warm, the hints of fall are in the air. This means cooking some longer meals with what's available from the farmer's markets as the inspiration. Here's a couple of shots of things I'm seeing a good deal of. I love ratatouille and love polenta, what could be more luscious then a dish with them together?

Ratatouille with Polenta

1 lb of yellow onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 lb zucchini, chopped
1 lb yellow squash, chopped
Bell peppers, seeds removed, chopped into 1/2 inch square pieces:
--1 lb green bell peppers
--1/2 lb red bell peppers
--1/2 lb yellow bell peppers
1 lb eggplant, 1/2 inch cubes
1 lb fresh ripe tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 sprig rosemary
3/4 cup vegetable stock (or thin tomato juice)
fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded Parmsean


1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2 Using a large oven-proof pan over medium high heat, saute onions in olive oil until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and reduce heat to low.

3 While the onions and garlic are cooking over low heat, put 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a another frying pan over high heat. As soon as oil starts to smoke, quickly add enough zucchini cubes all at once to cover the bottom of the pan. Keep on cooking over high heat, stirring, until zucchini is lightly browned on all sides. Remove zucchini cubes, and add them to pan with the onions.

4 Repeat process until all of the zucchini cubes have been cooked. Do the same with the yellow squash. Make sure to add a little olive oil between each new batch. Continue with the bell peppers, then the eggplant cubes, adding the browned vegetables to the onion pan as soon as they are cooked.

5 When all the vegetables (except the tomatoes) are browned and in the pan with the onions, increase the heat to high and stir, making sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add salt to taste, thyme, bay leaf, and rosemary, the vegetable stock, and stir well. Place in oven for one hour.

6 Boil water in a saucepan on stove. Remove stems from tomatoes, and crisscross the bottoms with a knife. Plunge into boiling water for a minute or two, until skin starts to fall away. Rinse in cold water and remove skin. Cut tomatoes in half lengthwise, remove seeds, chop coarsely, set aside.

7 After the vegetables have been in the oven for an hour, remove from oven, drain vegetables in a colander set over a bowl. Clean browned bits (if any) off bottom of pan with a paper towel. Return any liquid to the pan and reduce to a thick glaze over medium high heat. Keep on adding juices to the pan as they run out of the vegetables into the bowl.

8 When all the juices have been reduced, return vegetables to the heavy pan. At this point the ratatouille should be moist and shiny, with very little liquid. Turn heat off. Add the chopped tomatoes and cover.

Polenta

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for grilling or sauteing if desired
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 quart chicken stock or broth
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces Parmesan, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large, oven-safe saucepan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the red onion and salt and sweat until the onions begin to turn translucent, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, making sure the garlic does not burn.

Turn the heat up to high, add the chicken stock, bring to a boil. Gradually add the cornmeal while continually whisking. Once you have added all of the cornmeal, cover the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring every
10 minutes to prevent lumps. Once the mixture is creamy, remove from the oven and add the butter, salt, and pepper. Once they are incorporated, gradually add the Parmesan.

Pour the polenta into 9 by 13-inch cake pan lined with parchment paper or greased with butter. Place in the refrigerator to cool completely.

Once set, turn the polenta out onto a cutting board and cut slices. Brush each side with olive oil and saute in a nonstick skillet over medium heat, or grill.

Serve slices topped with ratatouille and sprinkled with cheese.


To go with the relaxation, Mozart,"Concert for Clarinet, 2nd Movement":


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

It's A Long Way

"It's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll"
AC/DC

I'm working hard on the photography trying to make it rock. My new camera is here and I'm actually doing lessons on "workflow" so I can eventually do both portraits/wedding and fine arts with more ease when it comes to processing. I'm not ambitious or anything...I'm having fun though. And speaking of fun, you have to love it when a rock band throws bagpipes into the mix and makes it work:


Monday, September 3, 2007

Road Work


"A well beaten path does not always make the right road"
-Proverbs


I really didn't intend to post anything today as I was working. It was a busy day despite being Labor Day. On my drive home I was reflecting on leaving behind one career, beginning another and what it would entail. On impulse I decided to drive around the school campus to look for photo inspiration and found this sign. I laughed, the stress of the day melting away. I knew indeed there is road work ahead as I grow, but it's coming along.

A good song for the road ahead, George Harrison, "Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)":

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Balloons and Miracles







Do all the good you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.
- John Wesley

What do you do at sunrise on Labor Day weekend? You get up and do your part to support an event for Children's Miracle Network, an incredible and favorite charity. They help children's hospitals across the country and sometimes miracles happen as a result.

Have a good one.

Arrested Development, "Miracles":

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