Thursday, August 30, 2012


I'm late getting my photo up! I've been off from work for the last two days and I've been distracted by the (alleged!) impending arrival of Isaac. Oh, it was going to be bad! Wind and rain and oh, my! Well, Isaac stalled a bit and hung around over New Orleans and never really arrived here with the vengeance they predicted. He went more to the East and did his damage. One might be tempted to make fun of the officials who decide to close down schools for these storms and when they do so, nothing more than a little rain happens. But it's a hard position to be in, to have to decide whether or not to close the schools for these storms. We dodged the bullet this time. But it could just as easily gone the other way. Now it's back to work tomorrow for me, and then a three day weekend!

"We Make. 
We Create. 
But where do we start? 
What elements or ingredients do you gather together to begin?

(the 52 Photos Project Prompt for Week 19)

I've been experimenting with a casual practice of meditation. I can't quite tell what I get out of it but the practice does seem to provide a cumulative sense of calm.

I've started lighting a candle at the beginning of my session. I usually use a votive candle that sits in a lotus looking candle holder but today the votive was too burned down to stay lit. I switched to a square candle which I do not have a real holder for and placed it in the middle of my paint palette.

Perhaps this isn't really the answer to the question of what I gather together to begin to create. I've noticed, however, that creativity often follows this simple "beginning" of lighting a candle and sitting in silence. It is, in some ways, the gathering together of my self.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Scar (Wake Up, Wake Up)

Sometimes I write poetry. This past Saturday morning I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep (this rarely happens). I got up and went to sit in silence for a little while. When I got done, I intended to go back to sleep but something in me noticed my scar and I pondered it a little while in the mirror. It ain't pretty. I laid back down but the first few lines of this poem kept trying to write itself in my head so I got up and went to work on finishing it.

There are so many things that happen when you receive a life-threatening diagnosis. I'm still wrestling with all the repercussions and evidence of the struggle appears at the oddest times. Sometimes I fear I am not yet fully awake...

The Scar (Wake Up, Wake Up)

The scar is so ugly I can only bear to look at it
In the half light between dark night
and dawn of a new day
where it becomes a metaphor:

I have been opened and rendered able
to receive. Somewhere in the distance
a siren wails and now my scar is evidence of life’s brevity
while a bird sings sweetly outside the window

reminding me to wake up and live.
How quickly, how slowly, we move from life to death;
from death to life; from mourning to morning.
It is the scar that calls me to life; to morning.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

On the Street

Taken in 2005 at our local Mardi Gras Parade. This couple thought they had it going on and yet they seemed to be oddly out of place, even by Mardi Gras standards!
I slipped on to private property to take these photos and I was too nervous to stay very long. Actually it was just the parking lot of a welding service but still, I always worry that someone is going to come by and get all offended because I am taking pictures of their old stuff!
I did a little bit of distortion on this one. The grill looked so much like a leering grin to me that I had to give it a little more of a curve!
These are a couple of my newly found photographer friends. They are photographing an old toilet that was out in the woods near this huge and gorgeous tree we came to see. I don't know if I have posted those photos here or told the story of the tree. Will have to save that for another day.

I had seen just the last part of this quote on a blog somewhere, googled it and found the rest of the quote and immediately thought of this photo. I never got close enough to the toilet to see if there were any great secrets hidden there. Better to keep the illusion of magic than to check it out and be disappointed, I think!

And finally, a photo of the reflective (and nervous!) photographer in the wild! I love the way the sky is reflected in the car. The cars are kind of "out of town" where there are fewer buildings and things to interfere with the sky. When I'm driving out this way, I always notice how beautiful the clouds are in the sky. It's not that far from my house but I guess there is the illusion of magical skies because the road is long and open and sparsely populated. Well, yeah, what am I talking about? Skies and clouds are magical to me!

(My contribution to the Gallery 18 prompt for the 52 Photos Project-"On the Street")

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Quiet Time

(It's Not as Easy as You Would Think)

This morning I spent some time doing "morning pages" a la Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way). My desk is in front of a window that looks out on my back yard. While I was writing, it began to rain. My intention was to "sit in silence" for about thirty minutes after I finished writing. Since it was raining (and thundering!) and I have a metal patio cover where the rain sounds like music as it falls, I thought I'd go on the patio and sit my thirty minutes out there on my glider.

I don't think this would be considered "official" meditation. I was sitting on my glider and I was gliding slowly. My glider has become a portal to stillness lately. I sit there in the mornings while I wait for the dog to do his business and again in the evening, usually. It is only for a few minutes at a time but it is refreshing.

I recently read something that gave me the idea that we can treat our minds like a dog, and when the thoughts start running rampant while we are trying to sit in silence, we can say something like "stay" or "sit." I also read that you are supposed to notice the thought ("oh, there's a thought") and let it drift on away. Problem is, when I do that, I see "Oh, there's a thought." in one of those cartoon speech bubble and then I see the thought floating around like a balloon as it s-l-o-w-l-y disappears from my view. And the balloon itself (red, I believe) always has the longest string tied to it, so that takes forever to drift off. Far easier for me to think "Stay." or "Sit." and return to my silence.

Here are a few of the thoughts I had to command while I was sitting:
  • Wow, that thunder is loud! I bet SpookyRach would be so jealous!
  • I need to text my spiritual director and ask her what I'm supposed to be doing while I'm sitting here.
  • All those raindrops are like people, all we are is a quick drop in a vast universe.
  • I am so going to blog about this.
  • Wow, all those drops are like musical notes, I hear the music of life!
  • Oh! The breeze makes me think of that Michael Lee poem. There is love touching me in that wind.
  • Good grief! Hasn't it been thirty minutes yet?
  • I don't care what you say, I am not going to look at the timer. I am GOING TO WAIT till it goes off.

When I was done I had to take my camera out to get photos of the rain drops clinging to the bars of the swing set. I've taken similar photos before. What can I say? I am enamored with rain drops clinging to metal bars! The rain drops are mostly what I focused on as I sat.

It was nice to still quietly and to hold my thoughts at bay for a little while. I hope I can do it more often.

We (meaning my husband, mostly) cleaned out our backyard storage building last weekend. There were some things in there that had been taken off the patio in preparation for Hurricane Rita in September of 2005. I've added those things back to my patio and joked that I hoped we wouldn't have to remove them again for another storm. Maybe we should have waited until hurricane season was over to work on that project.

Anyway, this bird cage, and the bird in it (the bird was part of a wind chime that had broken, I thought I was clever, putting the bird in the cage) was one of the dubious "treasures" we found in the building. It means something emotionally to me, this bird in a cage hanging from my patio.

I can't decide which version I like best, the color one or the black and white one, so I am posting both.

"Wow." That's what I said when the time finally went off and I could go back to my racing thoughts! And now I'm saying it again, "Wow, two blog posts in one day. I wonder what that means?" Not much, in the grand scheme of things!

My Father-in-Law

My father-in-law passed away on Tuesday of this week. He had a massive stroke and survived one night before dying.

He was always his own man.

He never called me by my name, always greeted me with "Hello, daughter-in-law!" and a great big bear hug.

He was a coach and a school teacher while he was raising his family. He retired from that in the late seventies and has commercial fished and crabbed since then. I never did quite get over being intimidated with him.

The family story goes that his IQ was tested in his early years at college (maybe when he returned for his Master's, I'm not sure) and his IQ was off the chart. You would never know this by looking at him. You could tell by talking to him that he did have a higher level intelligence. He always had a stack of books around to read. I have heard a few of his philosophical discussions with other family members but I don't remember them well.

He helped a lot of people in the community.

There are things I would have liked to have talked with him about and I didn't.

I occasionally thought I wanted to go out on the boat with him and get pictures but I never did ask. Back when I was in school, something was said about my photography class and he launched into this big discussion of a photography class he'd taken in college, talking about light and the technicalities of capturing it. 

His ashes are sitting on my husband's desk in our bedroom.

He was a full-blooded Cajun but I won't blame all of his stubborn tenaciousness on the Cajun people.

He was one of a kind.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Moment of Life

My parents, walking through the woods. I was following behind them with the camera trying to get a good shot with both of them lined up clearly. This is the best I could do. I am grateful for the light they have brought into my life.

Last night I was in another set of woods and saw a bunch of fireflies (we called them "lightning bugs" when we were kids). It had been years since I'd seen any of these magical little creatures. It was another sweet little moment of life. I was inspired to wax poetic...


Her child self grins as she watches
fireflies twinkling into the smothering darkness
of  the woods,

while her grownup self blinks back tears
and breathes a prayer of thanks for the light
in her darkness.

(Gallery 17 of the 52 Photos Project is "A Moment of Life." Check out other moments here.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Creative Play

Sometimes when I am totally uninspired I try to work on things just to see what happens. I was fiddling around with texture and layers and wanted some words for these.
I have a bad habit of immediately saving these things and then wanting to make changes later. I should save them in an editable form and think about it before I save them in the form where I can't make changes to them. I wanted to go back and fix the punctuation on this one but I could not remember how I did the background! So I tried to recreate it as best I could and the version you see down below is the result.
I do think I like this one better, though I am not totally satisfied with either one of them.

I'm walking through some rough patches right now and I really, really need to "remain calm, focused, centered, determined" and need to not let my anxiety dissuade me. But oh, that is so much easier said than done!

(08/11/12 Edited to add: I woke up this morning at the butt crack of dawn thinking I was late getting ready for work. It is Saturday morning. Since I was wide awake, I checked FB, where someone kindly pointed out to me I have a typo in the second version of this "thang." ~Sigh~ Back to the drawing board. No, I don't remember exactly how I did the background on that one either, and no, I did not save this in an editable form. Apparently I haven't quite learned that lesson yet!)

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

A Gift

I believe I've almost over-processed this reflective water lily. It was growing in a huge cast iron pot. I had trouble getting a shot of it, I wanted to be sure and get the reflection of the lily in the water. I wish I'd spent more time working on the composition of this shot.

I consider water lilies in a big iron pot an iconic image of serenity.

Serenity. I'm very grateful for the gift of serenity.

Today also marks the eight month since my son's passing. As I said on Facebook, I sometimes feel badly for bringing it up again, but one measures time differently after a loss like this, and it is another marker on my path. There is mostly peace, but it is a game-changer.

(Gift--the theme for week 16 of the 52 Photos Project)

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Standing on Edge

(not the edge, mind you!)

Playing with photos and apps in my phone helps me to breathe in trying times.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Moving At My Own Private Pace

(A stack of my son's freshly laundered clothing. The big plaid on the top stack is a pair of his shorts. I always loved when he wore his "tablecloth" shorts!)

We got a new washer and dryer recently and today my husband and one of his friends (mostly the friend!) installed both of them. You know how it is when you install a new washer and dryer, you look around for laundry to do.

My son was a clothes horse. We used to tease him about having more clothes than a girl. Every time he got a little extra money he spent some of it on clothing. I fussed at him for having way more than he needed.

It's coming up on eight months and I still have piles of his laundry sorted out in his room. His friend brought it back from Pennsylvania not long after he died and it took me a while just to get in there and sort it all.

Since I had a new washer and dryer so I figured I'd grab a load or two and work on getting his clothes washed. I still have lots to go. But having washed a couple of loads, I am reluctant to wash more. It almost feels like if I wash it all, I'm going to wash him away. By that I mean the smell of him. When I go in there now I can still smell him. It's almost comforting to see his clothes lying around waiting to be washed.

And if I wash all his clothes then I will be obligated to do something with them. I am not in a hurry to do that. I still need time. It would seem silly to have them all washed and hung up and folded, waiting for a boy to come home who is not coming home.

I found this photo in one of my old files the other day. I probably made it about five or six years ago. It pains me that I can not find the original photo that I used for this. I believe he is sitting on the porch steps at my sister's house one Thanksgiving but I am not sure. I'd like to find it. I was talking earlier on Facebook about how I wished I had a photo of his hands. This would have been a good one. Maybe I'll find it. I sure hope so.