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Posts Tagged ‘the practice of photography’

Shuttlecocks, 1994 - 34/365

Shuttlecocks, 1994 – 34/365, Archive 365, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, April 2009, photo © 2009-2013 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


At a writing retreat in 2009, our host took us to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri. Like we had done at museums in New Mexico with Natalie Goldberg (see Diebenkorn Leaves Taos – Museum Walking Lives On), we walked around in silence, then gathered in front of the museum to do Writing Practice. I like the practice of taking photographs in the silence; this photo of the sculpture Shuttlecocks was snapped on a slow walk around the museum grounds. Museums are energizing places to find inspiration for writing and art.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is a neoclassic structure designed by Kansas City architects Wight and Wight. Groundbreaking took place on July 16, 1930. The sculpture Shuttlecocks was created by husband and wife team Claes Oldenburg (American, born Sweden 1929) and Coosje van Bruggen (American, born The Netherlands, 1942), the same pair that created the Minneapolis sculpture, Spoonbridge & Cherry at the Walker (see my foggy winter photograph of Spoonbridge & Cherry in the piece White Elephants On Art). It is the scale of these sculptures that draws me in.

According to Nelson-Atkins, when Oldenburg and van Bruggen were commissioned in 1994 to design a sculpture for the space, they responded to the formality of the original neoclassical building and the green expanse of its lawn by imagining the museum as a badminton net and the lawn as a playing field. The pair designed four birdies or shuttlecocks (made out of aluminum, paint, and fiberglass-reinforced plastic) that were placed as though they had just landed on opposite sides of the net. Each shuttlecock weighs 5,500 pounds, stands nearly 18 feet tall, and has a diameter of 16 feet.


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ARCHIVE 365: Archive 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, January 13th, 2013

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IMG00506-20100524-1640.jpg

See The World Without Going Anywhere – 88/365, Archive 365, BlackBerry Shots, May 2010, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, photo © 2010-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Seen on a walk through Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2010. The things that are important are sometimes invisible to the eye. Like the images that develop in the mind and heart when we read.

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ARCHIVE 365: Archive 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, October 7th, 2012

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bar talk - 11/365

bar talk -11/365, Archive 365, Fine Line Music Cafe, Warehouse District, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2009, photo © 2009-2012 by skywire7. All rights reserved.


The Fine Line Music Cafe combines the essentials to a fun night out = music, food & friends. Both local acts and national headline bands play here in an intimate setting. Searching through the archives and stumbling on this capture makes me want to get back there soon. Plus today I caught the end of a radio interview with The Gaslight Anthem on MPR’s 89.3 The Current. Guess where they are playing tonight? Yup, the Fine Line. But Mary Lucia said it was sold out so I am just writing about it. Like wiser folks have told me, you can’t do everything!

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ARCHIVE 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.

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Soo Line - 5/365

Soo Line -5/365, Archive 365, Downtown, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007-2012 by skywire7. All rights reserved.


Minneapolis has history hidden in the details. Many of the historical buildings are gone but small pieces remain. The camera lens lets you see into a world that might go otherwise unnoticed. This clock caught my eye as we were driving around in the rain taking photos. What a neat find. Plus digging through the old photos makes me want to go exploring for more unique pieces of our past.

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ARCHIVE 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.

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Finale- 3/365  2 Artists No Waitin'  Archive 365 - 1/365 Sony NEX Shots Minneapolis, MN, Fulton neighborhood Field Number: IMG 2012-06-28 DSC00007

Finale – 3/365, Archive 365, Stone Arch Festival of the Arts, St Anthony Main, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2010, photo © 2010-2012 by skywire7. All rights reserved.


Here I am, running around the Stone Arch Fest, capturing candid moments of people enjoying a summer day with music and art in the heart of Minneapolis. I catch the tail end of this awesome band who were enjoying the climax of their set to the max. But who are they? I still don’t know. I would love to see them again. If someone recognizes the band, let me know!

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ARCHIVE 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.

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motorcycle

Motorcycle In Taos – 2/365, Archive 365, Taos, New Mexico, January 2003, Tri-X black & white film print, photo © 2003-2012 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


I miss black & white photography. I recently felt the old pangs for film when I ran into Tricia Vetrone’s work at Ingrained Photography while looking for peers for our Casket Arts 318 studio page (our brick and mortar art and writing studio. Would love it if you Liked us there). She shoots in black & white with vintage film cameras. Beautiful work.

Motorcycle In Taos was taken on one of my first writing retreats in Taos in 2003. It was a talking workshop, long before the silence befriended me. We were walking around the Mabel Dodge Luhan House with Natalie. I didn’t own a digital camera then and was still shooting with a Canon Rebel film camera and trusty Kodak Tri-X b&w.

It’s sad to me that Kodak declared bankruptcy this year. In a long history that began in 1888 with the slogan “you press the button, we do the rest,” George Eastman put the first simple camera into the hands of a world of consumers. He made a cumbersome and complicated process easy to use and accessible to nearly everyone. I’m sure in his wildest dreams he never imagined we’d be taking digital photos on our cell phones. Time changes everything; photographs capture time.


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ARCHIVE 365: Since the completion of BlackBerry 365, I have missed a daily photo practice. There are so many photos from my archives that no one has ever seen but me. So I asked skywire7 if she wanted to do a daily practice for one year, taking turns posting an unpublished photograph from the past.

Archive 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. You can view our photographs at skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr and QuoinMonkey Archive 365 set on Flickr.

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Ban Guns

Ban Guns – 1/365, Archive 365, Pamela & Frank Gaard: Dual Portraits, TuckUnder Projects, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2012, photo © 2012 by skywire7. All rights reserved.


Archive 365 is a photo collaboration between skywire7 and QuoinMonkey featuring images from our archives. We will alternate posting once a day in our Flickr sets from July 1st 2012 through June 30th 2013. skywire7 Archive 365 set on Flickr.

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Suspended in Light (Haiga)

Suspended In Light (Haiga), 23/52, BlackBerry 52 – WEEK 23, June 2011, haiga © 2011 by A~Lotus, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Medium: Original BlackBerry photo Scattered Light taken by QuoinMonkey in June 2011 as part of Northern Spark — Twin Cities Nuit Blanche. Poetry for the haiga created and edited by Lotus using Adobe Photoshop CS2 & MS PowerPoint 2007.






No longer Earthbound,
after the melody ends —
we take refuge in the Wind.






-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, July 2nd, 2011

Storyboard response to the haiga collaboration with Lotus. We will continue to bounce off of each other’s BlackBerry Jump-Off photos with text, photography, poetry (however we are inspired) for the 52 weeks of 2011. You can read more at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration. If you are inspired to join us, send us a link to your images, poetry, or prose and we’ll add them to our posts.

-related to post: haiku 4 (one-a-day) Meets renga 52

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Icicle Tumbleweed - 2/52

Icicle Tumbleweed (Haiga) – 2/52, BlackBerry 52 – WEEK 2, Elk River, Minnesota, January 14th 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved. Medium: Digital BlackBerry photograph altered in Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0, Font: Myriad Pro.


I was driving on a rural Minnesota road in a blizzard this week, and snapped an ordinary BlackBerry photo through the windshield. At first glance, I thought the image lacked depth. Then I saw the open space, perfect for poetry. So I altered the photo in Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.0 and added text (a haiga) in response to inspiration from Lotus, Bamboo Morning (Haiga). I did a lot of photo work with alternative processes during the years I worked in the darkroom. But so far I’ve been a purist with digital photography; this is opening a whole new world for me.

Lotus and I will continue our call and response by posting a BlackBerry photo for the 52 weeks of 2011. Feel free to join us if you wish (learn about the project’s beginnings at BlackBerry 52 Collaboration). To read more about Lotus, visit her at alotus_poetry on Twitter (where she writes poetry every day in community with other Twitter poets), at Poetry By Lotus, and on her Flickr account.


-related to posts: Best Of BlackBerry 365 — First Quarter SlideShow, BlackBerry 365 Project — White Winter Squirrel, haiku 4 (one-a-day) meets renga 52

-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, January 15th, 2011

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Bamboo Morning (Haiga)

Bamboo Morning (Haiga), BlackBerry 52, Jump-Off – Week 2, January 10th 2011, photo © 2011 by alotus_poetry. All rights reserved. Medium: Digital collage created using MS PowerPoint 2007 & Adobe Photoshop CS2. Photo taken on BlackBerry. Poem first created on magnetic poetry board with word kits.


I was in Ely, Minnesota on a hot July afternoon when a new haiku 2 (one-a-day) notification popped up on my BlackBerry. It was A~Lotus, a friend I met through red Ravine. Liz and I were taking a break in our room at the Adventure Inn before heading back to the North American Bear Center. I took a minute to read the comment:

Hey, here’s an idea: Why don’t we do a BB 365 Collaboration? We each do our own 365 photos and manipulate them however we want to, be it adding text/poetry, collages or any other mixed media. However, we will be responding to each other’s photos. It’s a triple challenge:

A) The first individual will take the first photo of the New Year.
B) The second individual will take a photo in response to the first individual.
C) Both individuals can be as creative as they want in their own separate photos.
D) By the end of the year, each individual will have their own 365 batch.



Already in the middle of a BlackBerry 365 Project for 2010 (view the entire year’s slideshow here), I had to do some soul-searching about whether I could commit to another year of taking a photo every day. Honey, Lucky, and Ted were waiting. I tucked the idea into the brim of my Minnesota Twins cap, sent off a quick response to Lotus, and headed back to the NABC:

A~Lotus, I’m on vacation up in Ely, Minnesota right now. But, at first glance, I like the idea of collaborating on a BlackBerry 365 year. I definitely want to do another kind of photo practice next year. It stretches me. So let me think about it a little more and read over your proposal again when I get back into town. I like your enthusiasm! Will check out your Flickr account.


Sun Bleached

Sun Bleached, BlackBerry 52, Jump-Off – Week 1, Golden Valley, Minnesota, January 3rd, 2011, photo © 2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


A few months flew by. I needed to respond. I agreed to post one photo each week for the 52 weeks of 2011. And that we’d call it BlackBerry 52. Lotus is a poet, so it seemed like a fun idea to also collaborate on one renga for the 52 weeks of 2011. We’d call that Renga 52 and keep it going for a whole year on haiku 4 (one-a-day) Meets renga 52.

We finally landed on collaborative practices I felt I could stick to — one photo a week, one poetry addition a week. It’s tough to do any practice for an entire year. I’ll write about the challenges of BlackBerry 365 in another post. For tonight, here are the simple guidelines that A~Lotus and I are following for BlackBerry 52. It’s a call and response:

BlackBerry 52 Guidelines

  1. One person posts a BlackBerry photo on her Flickr account each Monday. This is the Jump-Off.
  2. The other responds with a BlackBerry photo, a haiga, a piece of art, any form of visual response.
  3. The response to the Jump-Off must be posted on Flickr by the end of the next Sunday.

If you’d like to join us for BlackBerry 52 each week, post your responses to the Jump-Offs on Flickr and drop the link into the comments. The Jump-Offs for January 3rd and 10th are the images above. (I’ll also add a BlackBerry 52 link to the sidebar.) You can follow A~Lotus on Twitter (where she writes poetry every day in community with other Twitter poets), at Poetry By Lotus, and on her Flickr account. Can’t wait to see what develops by next New Year’s Eve!


-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

-related to posts: BlackBerry 365 Project — White Winter Squirrel, BlackBerry 365: Things Loved, Things Learned

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Undecided

summer prepares for a fall, BlackBerry Shots, Golden Valley, Minnesota, September 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




autumn wind bristles
painted in yellows and blues —
blurred, undecided,
summer prepares for a fall,
from the garden’s point of view.




Undecided


-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

-related to post: haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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Sun-Drenched Sweet Corn - 234/365

Sun-Drenched Sweet Corn – 234/365, BlackBerry 365, Golden Valley, Minnesota, August 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






best part of Summer
sweet corn from a local stand
drenched in salt butter








-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

-related to post: haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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Gray Spring day in Minneapolis. Rain pings the windows of my Casket Arts studio, wind rustles the frayed telephone wires. I’m staring at a city shrouded in fog. A Westclox Big Ben on the table next to me ticks away the minutes; the first quarter of 2010 is history. March in Minnesota was one of the warmest and most snowless in 100 years.

In the context of a whole century, the 90 days I’ve persevered with the BlackBerry 365 Project seems like a small effort. In busy human terms, it feels like forever. Some days, the photographs are grayed out snapshots with little focus. Other days, I can see the image framed and hung on the wall. It’s the nature of creative effort. And the boundlessness of living.

Once a quarter, I’d like to acknowledge this strange little body of work with a slideshow of my favorites. The project makes me keenly aware of the passage of time. Endings. New beginnings. I am learning patience, the consistent ability to show up for myself, progress not perfection.

I am grateful for the support. Thank you. And if there is anything you notice about the photography — subject matter, framing, content, I’m all ears. What seems lacking, what’s appealing? Sometimes we are too close to projects and practices to see them clearly. Hearing from others can help tap into new veins of work.



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Best Of BlackBerry 365 — First Quarter, favorites from 90 days of shooting & posting a phone photo a day, January 2010 – March 2010, all photos © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Note: the full BlackBerry 365 set is posted on my Flickr account. Along with a daily commentary of little details about the photograph, where I took it, what I was doing that day. I’m excited to be heading into Spring. Expect days to move from white, ice blue, and gray to seaweed, azure, and copper green.

-posted on red Ravine, Friday, April 2nd, 2010

-related to post: BlackBerry 365: Things Loved, Things Learned

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Melting, Awash, Brooklyn Park,
Minnesota, March 2010, photo
© 2010 by QuoinMonkey.
All rights reserved.






frozen in your tracks —
blue ice on black macadam
melting into Spring






-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, March 6th, 2010

-related to post: haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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He Who Keeps Me Company – 54/365, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, February 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights
reserved.


It’s March 1st, 2010. Sixty days and nights have passed since I began the BlackBerry 365 Project. Day 54 landed on this shot of Mr. Stripeypants keeping me company on a less than perfect day. I was reading Mary Karr’s memoir, Lit. He was taking a nap beside me, simply being himself. I felt like I really saw him.

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like a big commitment — taking a new photo each day and posting it in a public forum. I had been exploring taking photographs with the BlackBerry since last October. It was so much fun, I decided to turn it into a practice. That’s when the work began.

Pushing through days when I am under the weather, low energy, or uninspired are the hardest. But once I get the shot posted, I feel like I’ve accomplished a great deal. I know from past practices of writing, mandalas, and haiku, that yearly dedication to a craft can take you a long way. It can also drive you crazy! I thought I’d check in at the 60 day mark and let you know how things are progressing. Here’s what I’ve learned so far from the BlackBerry 365 Project:


  • As soon as I make something a practice, resistance kicks in. It’s all Monkey Mind. The trick is to not think too much, to simply keep going. Don’t force the shot, let the image appear.
  • Using the camera phone takes the pressure off to snap the perfect photo. It fits in the palm of my hand. I can have fun with it, photograph and post images I might not let myself publish with my Canon.
  • Themes appear and reappear in the photographs, just like in my writing. I keep coming back to what I love and have passion about.
  • Knowing I have to post a photo at the end of the day changes the way I look at the world. I am awake to all the possibilities. Everything I see is an opportunity.
  • Taking BlackBerry photos reminds me of the old days of 60-second Polaroids. I take snapshots of my day, glean ideas for new projects, visit places I want to go back and shoot with the Canon.



There are many photographers and artists who have embarked on yearly projects of daily images. And writers who have daily practices that keep them going through the lean times. I’d love to hear insights from others who are willing to share their experiences. And I’ll check in again along the way.

Going forward, I’ve decided not to post daily images in the red Ravine comments. But I’ll continue to check in on the original post once or twice a month. If you’d like to continue to follow the yearly practice, I’ll still be posting each day in my BlackBerry 365 set on Flickr. And in the Twitter widget on our sidebar. Just click on BlackBerry 365 to take you to Flickr.


-posted on red Ravine, Day 60, Monday, March 1st, 2010

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White Winter Squirrel – 1/365, BlackBerry 365, Minneapolis, Minnesota, January 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Intentions for 2010. My first is to focus on my photography. I have a print project in progress in the studio. I hope to have 12 framed pieces done by Art-A-Whirl in the Spring. Some of you are familiar with my Writers Hands project that I’ve been working on since 2007. I have quite a collection of photographs now, and am combining them with stories of actually meeting the writers. It’s exciting to think about a dozen framed pieces of writing and art on the walls by May.

I’ve discovered I do best when I focus on one project at a time. So I can finish what I’ve started. If I set too many goals, I fall flat on all of them. I’ve given myself permission to let my writing go for a while, to work on my photography. Another thing I’ve learned is that I need something fun that runs parallel to tough creative work projects. For 2010, it’s the BlackBerry 365 photo project.

When it came time to renew our phone contracts in 2009, Liz and I spent a few hours in the Verizon store, checking out all the different options for mobile devices. We could not resist the features and BOGO deal of the BlackBerry. It was October, right before my trip to Pennsylvania, then Down South with Mom. We were on the road, buzzing by the Blue Ridge Parkway, when Liz called and said, “Why don’t you Tweet photos along the way with your BlackBerry.” She gave me a quick ÜberTwitter lesson and an obsession was born — I love my BlackBerry.

I’ve taken over 1000 photos since then, posting them in various places around the Internet including Twitter, Flickr, and TweetPhoto. Many photographers have done a photo-a-day practice over the years. But I never have. I started with 0/365, the Blue Moon the last day of December. The second was the White Winter Squirrel. And though I take many BlackBerry photos over the course of a week, I’ll only post one daily favorite in the BlackBerry 365 Series.

I’ve also decided to post thumbnails of the photos in the comments on this post each day. The idea with cell phone photography is that it creates a different way of seeing. I find that taking photographs with the BlackBerry frees me up. I got to know my Canon PowerShot more intimately this year at a writing retreat and will continue to take RAW photos. But sometimes with the larger camera, I feel pressure to take a great photograph. With the phone camera, I feel free to experiment to my heart’s content.

I’d love it if readers wanted to join me in a phone photo-a-day practice. Just drop the link to your photos into the comments section of this post.

To be clear, here are my photo project intentions for 2010. I’ll try to check in on my progress over the course of the year:

  1. BlackBerry 365 — continue to take BlackBerry Shots each day of 2010. Post my daily fave in the BlackBerry 365 set.
  2. Complete 12 final prints, writing and bios, matted and framed, in my Writers Hands Series by May of 2010 where I will show them in Art-A-Whirl
  3. Start a monetary presence for my photographs in the form of an online store with sets of cards and prints available for purchase (which also involves revealing my identity)

A wise woman recently told me that I had practiced enough, that it was time to complete some of these projects and get them out into the world. She’s right. My practices are important to me, but it’s crucial that I follow through on the finished work. And focusing on photography doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned my writing. From the time I was a small child, photography and writing have been inexplicably linked for me. I’m excited to set these intentional goals. And I know you’ll help hold me to them!


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, January 4th, 2009

-Follow the BlackBerry 365 Project on my Flickr set

-related to post: Reflection — Through The Looking Glass

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Blue Moon Over Ice Skating Rink – 0/365, BlackBerry Shots, Full Blue Moon on New Year’s Eve, December 31st, 2009, Minneapolis, Minnesota, photo © 2009-20010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.





Through The Looking Glass


season to season
hindsight is 20/20
reflecting the past;
future remains uncertain,
jumps hoops through the looking glass


–tanka from hindsight haiku — pink cadillac (on the road), October 25, 2009





Writing Practice — Looking Back – 15min


Looking back I see hot hazy days when I didn’t have a job. What seems like the best opportunity to work on writing, art, photography, becomes consumed with worry. Looking back I see that Chaco died. He didn’t just die. We made the hard decision to put him to sleep. An odd turn of phrase, put him to sleep. It’s the second cat where I’ve had to make that hard decision. The first was my cat Sasha; it was years ago. Looking back I feel gratitude. For Liz, Kiev, Mr. Stripeypants. For my writing group, for Roma and her partnership with me on red Ravine. I feel grateful I have my health. Age, I’m aging. But overall, I have survived another year. The gray hair is multiplying.

Looking back, there were visits with Amelia, visits with Marylin. Mothers are important to me. Time with mothers. Time with my mother. How much time do we have? One never knows if they will live into old age. I like the yearly trips I take to the South and this one was no exception. There wasn’t enough time but the time we were in Georgia and South Carolina was relaxed. The reconnections I have made there the last three years are invaluable. Links to what was, links to what might be.

Looking back, I feel like I don’t do enough, don’t accomplish enough of my yearly goals. I hate setting them anymore, but I must. I feel like I get so little done. Recently a friend called and mused that we might feel an urgency to get more done because of our age. We are not spring chickens, not in our twenties, not even in our thirties, and here we are trying to make some kind of alternative life work out. Looking back, my car Greta made it through the recession with only the need for a radiator and some new wiper blades. Sylvia the Saturn made it, too. No new car payments — yet.

Looking back, I am happy where I live. Indria is humble, tiny, small. But every day I wake up and look out over the oaks, ash, and cedar. I feel happy to come home and watch the moon rise behind the cottage. I wish it was larger, that we had two more bedrooms, one to write, one for art. Hers and hers. Should we build on? Or buy a new house? Is it ever in the cards to have enough room? Small is good, too. I’m used to small, crowded houses. That’s the way I grew up with 5 younger siblings. There is something comforting about small.

Looking back, I don’t want to trade my life for anyone else’s. My mistakes are my mistakes. I can live with them. I have to. I don’t often remember the bad that happens in a year, mostly the good. And the gratitude I feel for the richness in my life, no matter how much I might be lacking. Is that keeping me from going forward? Have I gotten lazy. Or am I simply tired. Looking back, I’m happy to have a job, though it takes a toll on me. If you had asked me even a year ago, I would have said, “No, I’m never going to be driving truck.” But here I am. Never say never.

There is an opening in there somewhere. Gratitude for the abundance of having a job. Money coming in. So many are without work. Yet my work is my art, my writing, my photography. It will be the dilemma of every artist — how to make a living while being a creative soul. Our world does not support it. We have to. We create our own worlds, surround ourselves with people who help hold the dream. People matter. But it is each of us who has to do the work. Am I doing the work?



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Post Script: I wanted to combine several of my yearly practices in this post on looking back. Above is a tanka I wrote on the trip to Georgia this year, the Reflection part of my Writing Practice on WRITING TOPIC — REFLECTION & INTENTION, and a photograph of the Blue Moon from my photo practice. Below is my yearly Gratitude list. I do one at the end of every year, a result of peering through the looking glass, looking back on the good things in life.


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A – Accept loss forever. Learned this from Kerouac, then from Natalie Goldberg.  Easy to say, hard to do. Makes the world a much better place to live.


B – Breaking free. From the ties that bind. I am the one who keeps me back. It was a constant battle over the year to let myself be. To do nothing when I needed it. To sit and stare into space. To break free from old worn out habits that are keeping me back.


C – Cats. These 3 bundles of joy brought much happiness to my life in 2009. Chaco has moved on but we don’t forget. We scattered his ashes this year around the fire at Winter Solstice. Sometimes I still hear him pattering through the house, keeping night watch on the back of the couch. Chaco was a Nightowl.


D – Dead of Winter. I love Winter. It makes me feel alive. January to January, the Midwest Winter is nothing to sneeze at. It was -21 this morning. It’s warmed up to -8. Sometimes the Dead of Winter is when I have the most ripeness going on inside.


E – The letter “E”. I’m thankful for the vowels. They hold up a lot of words. Like Elizabeth. I thank my lucky stars every day that she’s my partner, that she’s in my life.


F – Fathers. I have a new respect for the role that fathers play with their children. Young children. Adult children. I have learned from reconnecting with my step-father in the South that it is never too late to heal. Never too late to realize the love. I have learned from my brothers who are good fathers how important it is to be there for your kids. I have learned from ybonesy and Jim how good fathers make a difference.


G – Gratitude – humble gratitude for others, those who came before us, those who run parallel, the children of the future, all teach me perspective. Sometimes I feel great loss. I try hard to get back to Gratitude for what remains.


H – Humble Pie. I’ve eaten a lot of it. Humility helps me remember — Do not waste this precious life. Humility always takes me back to center — Home. (Oh, and wasn’t Humble Pie a band from the 1970′s?)


I – Itches, those nagging, pesky things that make you want to jump out of your skin. You can’t scratch every itch. But don’t the itches raise the most important questions?


J – January. Some years I’m glad to be starting over, to walk into the clean slate of a New Year. This is one of them. Time may be boundless but the calendar offers a structure. Something that helps keep me on track.


K – Kindred Spirits. Make the list again this year. Not just community or people who are alive. But those who travel with us across the Ethers. And animals, like our cat Kiev. She’s solid as a rock. There are so many life forms that walk the Earth with us. The veil is thin.


L – Love. Love is underappreciated. The word is thrown around loosely. There are so many kinds of love, I have lost count. But the feeling of giving or receiving love — I would not trade it for money, fame, or fortune.


M – Mothers. Most of the nurturing of the world falls to women. This was true when I was born, it may still be true at the end of my life. I wish I could say it’s different, that all nurture the world. But it doesn’t seem to be women that take us into war. Or perpetrate most of the violence in the world. If I was wrong, I’d happily admit it. If I’m right, I pray for more balance. That’s too heavy a weight to carry.


N – North Carolina. I know it seems odd. But driving through North Carolina, it seems like one of the most beautiful places. I’ve also discovered that many of my relatives come from North Carolina, something I didn’t expect. This is true on the paternal and maternal side. I am rooted in the South.


O – Overdrive. Wait, I guess this is something that should go on my future Intentions list. But it popped into my head. People who run on Overdrive teach me about reaching goals. I don’t want to be a Type A personality–I only want a pinch of their drive.


P – Pants. Mr. Stripeypants is over a decade old; he acts like a kitten. I can’t explain the joy this cat brings into my life. He plays fetch with me in the morning, drapes over my arm when I write, greets us at the door after a hard day at work, follows us around the house in a constant state of curious abandon. I learn a lot from Mr. Pants.


Q – Quest. I’m always questing. Like a Knight but not in shining armor. I’d be one of those Dark Knights. After all, you need them, too. The ones that sit at the Round Table contemplating, one foot underground, one foot in the sky. They are all searching for the Grail. I think curiosity is an asset. I just wish it would quit jumping around. Hopscotch, 1-2-1-2-1-2-1, back again. Once in a while I wish throwing the rock was enough, just to see where it lands.


R – red Ravine. It makes the list again. Every year there is something different. It’s a practice in the collaborative spirit. Sometimes it’s the thing that keeps me going when things get hard. Where will it lead? Right here, right now. I’m grateful for every single person who has ever visited red Ravine.


S – Snow. It’s practical and romantic. A water reserve for dry summers, a heart bouncer for Winter rides on the horse-drawn sleigh. We got a boatload in December. It snowed like a banshee over the Christmas weekend. I used to ski but these days I’m happy to get out and walk in the snow. I don’t mind shoveling. But I have to admit, this year I thought about buying a snow blower.


T – Tracks. Animal cairns. We follow tracks in the snow in our front yard. Raven, crow, moles and voles. Rabbits, squirrels, raccoon. Tracking takes patience and an eye for detail. I’m not that good at identifying which tracks go to what animal. But I love to guess. Then check my tracking book for the right answer.


U – Understanding. It’s the brother of forgiveness. I had to live a while before I understood what it meant to forgive. Not everyone can be understood. But it helps to try. I understand that not everyone is perfect or impeccable. I forgive myself for not being those things either.


V – Veracity. An unwillingness to tell lies. A propensity for the truth.  They even made a movie about it — The Invention of Lying. Is telling the truth always the best route? What truth? Whose truth? I like looking at the Underbelly — the unwillingness to tell lies seems more realistic.


W – Woodpeckers. We had two sightings of the Pileated Woodpecker on our property this year. What a joy it is to see them. They’ve got to be the closest thing to seeing a prehistoric Ivory-Billed. The Ivory-Billed Woodpecker is a lot like the Loch Ness monster — now you see it, now you don’t.


X – X-Ray Vision. The absence of it. I’m thinking if I had X-Ray vision, I could see into the future. But I wouldn’t want to know. I’d rather take my chances. And make small decisions along the way.


Y – ybonesy makes the list again. She’s made leaps and bounds with her art this year. That inspires me, fires me up for my own creative endeavors. She’s a woman who seems to be able to do it all. I admire that. And feel so much gratitude that she’s collaborating with me on red Ravine.


Z – ZigZags. Like lightning. I’m grateful for zigzags because they are the way I live my life. Cancer the Crab rarely takes the straight line anywhere. Back and forth, testing the waters. She does finally land. Solid. For a day or two. Then off again on her quest. You can’t have a zig without a zag.


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, January 2nd, 2009

-related posts and to read more about the practice of Gratitude: Feelin’ Down For The Holidays? Make A Gratitude List, The ABC’s Of A Prosperous 2008 – Gratitude, I Am Grateful For The Alphabet ;-), Runes, Oracles, & Alphabets

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