Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Masquerade

We get so much in the habit of wearing disguises before others that we finally appear disguised before ourselves.
Francois de la Rochefoucauld

It's Halloween and it's the one day of year people have official sanction to put on costumes and masks. However do we really reveal something of our inner disguise when we choose these?

Carpenters, "This Masquerade (The Lover)":


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Consequence Free Art

True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist.
Albert Einstein

To paraphrase Great Big Sea, in making art wouldn't it be great to say what's really on your mind....do you ever stop and not make/share your art because it might offend someone.???

Here's to learning to take risks and make true art because of the urge that wouldn't let you stop from creating it...

Great Big Sea, "Consequence Free":


Monday, October 29, 2007

Samhain

Hi, how are you today?
Ashley MacIssac

As Samhain or Halloween approaches, surreal seems to be the theme. Here is a little friend that I found peering down on me as I worked on the patio. I'm anthropomorphizing, but couldn't help it. I just wish I had a macro lenses for my Olympus 510....sigh, eventually. Still was pleased with this as I got better detail then I thought I would with a kit lens.

I spent the day at the clinic preparing for a Halloween costume party we are doing with the patients. They really seem excited about it, even the staff are getting in the spirit. What can I say I'm still a kid at heart when it comes to this day, probably has to do with my Irish ancestors who loved a good craic.

Ashley MacIssac (with Mary Jane Lamond), "Sleepy Maggie":


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Autumn Mellowness....

Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.
Elizabeth Lawrence

It's a lovely warm mellow fall here. So in celebration I'm going to be making Challah Bread French Toast to serve out on the patio for brunch today. I found a good recipe and just plan to enjoy companionship and this time of sunshine I've been given.....

Challah French Toast

6 extra-large eggs
1 1/2 cups half-and-half or milk
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon good honey
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large loaf challah or brioche bread
Unsalted butter
Vegetable oil

To serve:
Pure maple syrup
Good raspberry preserves (optional)
Sifted confectioners' sugar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, half-and-half, orange zest, vanilla, honey, and salt. Slice the challah in 3/4-inch thick slices. Soak as many slices in the egg mixture as possible for 5 minutes, turning once. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a very large saute pan over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until nicely browned. Place the cooked French toast on a sheet pan and keep it warm in the oven. Fry the remaining soaked bread slices, adding butter and oil as needed, until it's all cooked. Serve hot with maple syrup, raspberry preserves, and/or confectioners' sugar.

Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, "Why Worry Now":


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Graffiti Considerations


The few remaining truths are graffiti, suicide notes, shopping lists.
Francesca da Rimini


Mention graffiti and you will find a huge array of opinions. Every thing from it's a sign of a personality disorder, of gang/criminal involvement to that it is sheer art. Like many things there is no one absolute answer, it really depends on the circumstances of the graffiti itself. Like it or not humans have have been been making their mark on surfaces since prehistoric times. One only has to look at the Chauvet caves in the Pyrenees for evidence of this. Not to mention who hasn't in childhood drawn on their wall or at least a chalkboard, or today more often chalk on the sidewalk. If one followed Jung's thinking you might say it was part of our ancestral memory and need....

I happen to love well done graffiti and photographing it. Yes, I don't want to see property defaced and criminal involvement, but when it is an used with the right consideration, i.e. as an art form for expression of self, social protest etc., it can be incredible.

Maximo Park, "Grafitti":



Friday, October 26, 2007

Walking Through the Past #5


The present is the corridor between the past and the future.

Preston Castle is an amazing place. You see what was past and what it is becoming again. Spending time there and working with my camera, gave me the gift of learning to be more mindful of the work I'm doing in the present moment.

At the end of the shoot I left wondering, was it a place that truly helped some of adolescents who passed through its doors between 1894-1960? Or was it a misguided attempt in its time for betterment that instead left a negative impact? For all the grandeur and history that Preston Castle presented, you hope that as they left their childhood behind there they emerged with the expectancy of a better life....

Cecilia Bartoli, "Angeli Disprezzati":


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Walk Through the Past #4



Years later we'll remember the bathtub
the position of the taps
the water, slippery
as if a bucketful of eels had joined us ...
Sujata Bhatt

Sheltered in the basement setting were a set of old claw foot tubs. Cobwebs edged them and the sun shone through an crusted window touching the details that were left. I wondered if the children ever got to relax and soak in them or perhaps they had been there for on site staff.

Handel, "Water Music, Allegro":


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Walk Through the Past #3


Always remember to slow down in life; live, breathe, and learn; take a look around you whenever you have time and never forget everything and every person that has the least place within your heart.
Unknown

As I walked through Preston Castle I wondered about the people who had been here, what their stories had been about. I found myself looking around, up and down, attempting to catch a glimpse of what life had been about in this place. Really all that was left was fragments of lives lived exposed by lights above, from doors standing open and the shadows from another time....

October Project, "Bury My Lovely":


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Walking Through the Past #2

The space within becomes the reality of the building.
Frank Lloyd Wright

This was the interior of a room waiting to be renovated. Many rooms were like this full of dust and debris left after the building closed. Somehow these rooms had a strange eerie beauty. A reminder of a time long past....

Kansas, "Dust in the Wind":


Monday, October 22, 2007

A Walk Through the Past #1


There are three forms of visual art: Painting is art to look at, sculpture is art you can walk around, and architecture is art you can walk through.
Dan Rice

This piece of Preston Castle might have been some of the medical ward. I lagged a bit behind the group so missed some of the info. As you can see it has a strong institutional feel. There was also a sense of emptiness and loss there. More tomorrow....

Dan Fogelberg, "Go Down Easy":


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Weekend Travels

Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again
Henri Cartier-Bresson


Yesterday the Darkroom Dames headed up to Preston Castle in Ione California for a day of shooting. It used to be a reformatory for boys. The building inside is in the beginnings of restoration. We first went on a tour which showed us which areas were open and which remained dangerous. Some of the facts the were shared was that supposedly Merle Haggard spent time there. There is also a resident ghost, a cook who was bludgeoned to death. I know I loved it and found one of the voices I want my photography to have, shooting old buildings in the process of decay.

We were allowed to photograph as we wanted after the tour, so the four of us separated and I spent two hours in the photography zone. I came out to meet up covered with dust and dirt, my camera, the same, but I was glowing. We spent the rest of the day in Sutters Creek and stopping at a couple of wineries.

I'll be sharing pictures throughout this week. It was an incredible time.

Paul Simon, "Kodachrome":


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Just Shopping....

Glamour is what makes a man ask for your telephone number. But it also is what makes a woman ask for the name of your dressmaker.
Lilly Dache

I'm sitting in the sun with my laptop, drinking chai and Ebay shopping for my fall wardrobe. It's easier to find things I like there. I tend to go for a mix of sporty casual and some glamour. I often look for vintage items to mix with more modern pieces. On occasion people will ask where I find my clothing. What can I say when you hate malls like I do, Ebay can be a girls best friend.

Billie Holiday, "Lover Man":


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Time...

In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
Albert Schweitzer

I find in counseling people, they often unknowingly offer counsel and wisdom back. I was talking to an 82 year old patient in my clinic about her life. She told me she was in her time a "rip snorter". She asked if I was or ever had been married. I told her no and she told me that she found true love in her mid 6o's for the first time with a younger man, that they had married, and have been together since that time. Her further comment on this event was that in her day if you weren't married by a certain time it was considered that it would never happen. For her it was ironic because she hadn't been interested in marriage anyway and had decided to travel the world through her career, meet people and have a good time. She had retired and then along came the love of her life. The moral of her story was don't think that you can dismiss possibilities of something, because you never know what will happen.

Bonnie Raitt, Nick of Time:

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ring My...

At present there are many persons who no longer pay heed to the summons of these bells.
Felix Adler

Today for some reason, I got into a discussion with someone over the function/meaning of bells in our lives. Wedding bells, Christmas bells, church bells, phone bells, door bells, school bells....We were dizzy with the listing of them all. Then we got into songs with bells or bell themes...The one thing we agreed on as persons who have worked in the world of human behavior...we certainly are conditioned to respond to bells...

What can I say, sometimes our brains take us off in directions we don't know we're going to go...

Ann Lee, "Ring My Bell":


Sunday, October 14, 2007

The PathTo....

There are many paths to enlightenment. Be sure to take one with a heart.
Lao Tzu

It was a quiet weekend. Photography, cooking, spending time talking with friends and doing some reading on Buddhist thought as it relates to the psychology of mind as well as some Taoism. I also had an encounter with someone who tried to "save me" while I was sitting in my patio. I live in an area of California that one native described to me as the Bible Belt of California. It's hard at times, because I don't place a label on my thoughts/universal view and I'm often questioned here about them. When pressed, I try to be diplomatic and tell people I believe that there are many paths to truths. That is, I think all traditions of philosophy and religions are akin to looking through a prism which splits the one light into many colors, and thus I try to respect what an individual has found to be the path to truth for them. This has served me well sometimes and at other times when I'm exasperated from someone's rude persistance, I will finally tell them I'm a Taoist/Buddhist/Pagan as I find these traditions have touched my life. That usually seems to stun the most persistent and allows me to make my escape.

I like the quote above because it sums up my thoughts, whatever path I take I want it to be with a heart to feel love and compassion. If only the extremists in various belief systems would allow their paths to embrace this rather than that of hate and harm, our world would be a better place....

R.E.M., "Losing My Religion":


Friday, October 12, 2007

Fall Melange

Some days are made for rain.
Aaron Neville

It's raining it's pouring, it's a good day for....working on photos from yesterday, going to see Elizabeth: The Golden Age and shopping for some fall sweaters.

Hope it's a good weekend.

Patty Griffin, "Rain":


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Day in the Park

To sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.
Jane Austin

This was taken at the Golden Gate State Park around the de Young Museum on a Saturday. It was the perfect fall day for relaxation and taking photos. A friend who is an incredible street photographer was helping tutor me in ways to capture just the right moment and what to look for.

Chicago, "Saturday in the Park":



Monday, October 8, 2007

Quietly and Slowly

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still
Chinese Proverb

Last few days spent just growing, planning for trip to London in late winter and trying out a new relationship. Continuing to investigate the intricacies of Photoshop and spending time with friends. Learning to let go of the old as it goes quietly and let new things come into season in their own time....

Terra Naomi, "Go Quietly":


Friday, October 5, 2007

Learning

All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind.
Martin H. Fischer

How does one learn to be a photographer? Is it taking a prescribed course? Taking pictures? Trusting your instincts? The one thing I've learned and am learning is that there is no one correct path. I think the only true answer is to carve out the path that feels right to you and stick with it. I have written about not following a typical academic path. I did that for several years and it was usually an uncomfortable fit. In looking back I think two of my main inspirations for going beyond academia have been my maternal grandmother and parents. My grandmother had dreams of a more advanced education, but never totally achieved her dream before she died of stomach cancer when I was 14. But she constantly educated herself. My father started college, but wasn't able to finish. Again he has always read, discussed and considered a variety of ideas. My mother dropped out of high school, but went back when she was in her early fifties to the same high school that my siblings and I graduated from and received her diploma. I always had books and a library card thanks to their insistence that I read and learn. So learning by a variety of means is literally in my blood.

It has been a more instinctive process for me to read books on various aspects of photography, gather fellow photographers for discussions and then go out to shoot subjects that help reflect what I am learning. Included in this is and will be the occasional workshop. One of the reasons I designed a three day work week where I work 32 hours is to have four days to help accommodate my learning curve. So today I am hanging out, working on some photos and reading one of the best books that I have come across on composition in photography, Michael Freeman's, "The Photographer's Eye". My local library purchased it on my request and I'm going to be getting a copy for myself, it's that good.

Little by little I'm learning to fly....

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Learning to Fly":


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Our Future

If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.
Pearl S. Buck

Okay, just when I thought I was done chastising our beloved President, I'm off again. The man vetoed a major health care bill that would have expanded to give more children to access health care coverage, dismissing it as "middle class entitlement". Hello, has the man ever seen two middle class parents working jobs that didn't give full or no benefits, has he ever seen them denied a policy because said child may have experienced a pre existing condition....I work in the health care system and I see parents struggle every day with this at the same time trying to provide a decent home, food and clothes. What's on paper doesn't always match reality.

Ironically I ended up having a wonderful playtime encounter with the young children of a guy I work with today. Afterwards we discussed what happened today. We have decent individual benefits available, but the cost for dependent coverage is high. It is a struggle every day for his wife and himself to make ends meet. And this is one hard working guy dedicated to giving his children a better life.

Like it or not our system in order to meet the evolving needs of Americans is going to have to be and become a mix of factors; private, business and socialized. It's a major issue that requires major innovation. Perhaps if our President took his head out of a certain orifice and really looked at America today he might have the vision to see this.

But then why should I expect enlightened vision from someone who has cheated, lied and violated some of the most basic principles of the American constitution and life....

Betty Buckley, "Children Will Listen":


Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Full of Life

I celebrate myself;
And what I assume you shall assume;
For every atom belonging to me, as good belongs to you.

The smoke of my own breath;
Echoes, ripples, buzz'd whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine;
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs;
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore, and dark- color'd sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn;
The sound of the belch'd words of my voice, words loos'd to the eddies of the wind;
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms;
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag;
The delight alone, or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides;
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.

....from "Song of Myself", Walt Whitman


I have the day off today to attend to results of my procedure and from this beginning some lifestyle changes. Even though I know restrictions and changes are coming, I feel more full of life then I have felt in months. After chasing to get a diagnosis (I kept being told it was asthma, allergies and the area where I'm living), it's a relief to know that there is something that is there and it can be worked with instead of just going on having the problems I've been experiencing.

I hope it's a good day for my friend Gail. She is off on a day long interview in NYC that could bring major changes for the better to her life. I'm hoping the universe gives her this gift. She deserves it.

I started the day off with a long walk with Bella. We met several children who were walking through the park, swinging backpacks on their way to school. They stopped to pet her, ask questions about her paw (she has a paw that never totally formed on her left front leg) and receive a slurp in return. We came back and I'm now on the patio having a cup of tea, an English muffin with fruit compote and some yogurt. It feels very luxuriant and a gift as the sun shines, birds sing and the sounds of life embrace me.

Paula Cole, "Me":

Monday, October 1, 2007

Magical Possibilities

That's the thing with magic. You've got to know it's still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you.
Charles de Lint

When I saw this remnants of a burned out forest in Yosemite I wasn't sure if it was worth stopping. But I did. It reminded me of Japanese woodblock landscape once I took a good look. Then I framed it in the viewfinder and it became a land of magic and mystical possibility....

Kenny Loggins, "The Last Unicorn":




Beauty Is...

  "Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it." -Anonymous  I went outside tonight and found the waning moon in a glow surrou...