Turning to Gold

The Palominos are starting to blend into the valley as the hay fields deepen from yellow to gold. And in the gold, I noticed a green road into the woods behind my house. It’s been there, invisible beneath the trees, but now it stands out like the yellow brick road -only it isn’t yellow. While the Aspen and the pasture have received the autumn memo, the grass beneath the trees stays cool, moist, and alive. I wonder where it goes.

The sun is so bright here that I can’t tell if the roofs are green or black, red or brown. It’s like standing on stage under the spotlight, too much light and you really can’t see. Too much light and everything goes black. And likewise, how lovely to have light in the dark. I wonder what the stars look like. But I haven’t stayed awake long enough to find out.

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Belugas and Friesians

IMG_1127I had the privilege of spending time watching these glorious Belugas yesterday. It left me with a peaceful feeling. I was reminded of the woman who had a stroke and said she could only feel the energy of people as they entered a room. I don’t speak or understand or know Belugas personally but spiritually I could feel the energy they create in that cold still water.

I felt the same way about the sea turtles. How lucky am I to have spend a few precious seconds staring straight into the eyes of an ancient turtle? He was as curious about me as I of him, as close and pressing to the acrylic wall between us as I, and gently engaged in the act of knowing one another, as best as two beings can know one another. Really, I felt, that we were the best of friends, as intimate as two people can be. We get so caught up in words we forget that knowing one another is really as simple as looking each other in the eye, if only for a moment, but doing so and nothing else.

Sometimes it isn’t even necessary for eyes to be open. I rode Willow today and from her back I couldn’t see her face nor she mine, but still I could feel every apprehension she had,  every surge of confidence, fear, timidity or brave moment. It was all there in the universal body language we all speak but tend to ignore. We communicated nicely without talking or looking and the result was nothing short of a fairy tale with a happy ending.

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Oprah, Cookies and Pictures Galore

I love watching Oprah’s Lifeclass online. All the ones I’ve seen are great but I especially loved the episode on gratitude. I bought Deepak Chopra’s book and I’m enjoying reading it. A lot of the exercises he wants me to do are as hard as Jane Fonda’s. You know how she makes sweaty painful aerobics look fun? That’s how Chopra makes silence sound. Or meditation. He calls it “bliss”. Try it. It’s torture. These guys know that this hard work does wonders for the body and soul and that it does get easier. But for beginners like me, jumping jacks are fine for the first few seconds and then become exponentially more difficult as time goes on…as is quiet time….until you do either one for so long it becomes easy again. Be inspired to work your own soul by watching the course. Here’s the link:

http://www.livestream.com/oprahslifeclass

Apparently spiritual growth turns up the sugar cravings so I made oatmeal cookies. I regularly destroy baked goods by eyeballing the ingredients and this time was no exception. I put too much baking soda in the batter. It’s a disgusting disaster in baking. It’s like eating aluminum foil. I looked it up online and it appears that there is a ratio of chemical leavening (baking powder or soda) to flour that can’t be altered. So I crushed all the cookies and added a whole bunch of flour and virgin coconut oil (my new favorite fat) and smashed them into a 9×12 pan. I poured sweetened condensed milk over them and sprinkled coconut on top of that. I chopped all the chocolate I had in the house and covered the whole thing in it. Voila! Cookie Crumb Crust Magic Bars. Crumbly, melty, sweet and delicious. Aluminum taste neutralized. Sweet tooth satisfied, half a pan later I’m not feeling too well.

I’ve continued to take hundreds of self portraits. I haven’t liked taking or being in pictures for years but my experiment is working. I’m becoming so comfortable with cameras I hardly care what the image looks like. Sometimes I snap dozens of pictures and then I forget to look at them. I’ve photographed myself after laughing or crying. I’ve noticed that those strong emotions doesn’t photograph well. My favorites are the relaxed ones with the best light or special moments in my life. Here are a few:

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Observations

I am simultaneously watching Oprah’s Lifeclass on spirituality and continuing my self portrait project. I think these two activities cancel each other out.


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Self Portrait

I’ve started a new project. It’s inspired by an everlasting bad combination of self-conscious hang-ups and an aspiring creative career. I’m taking pictures of myself. Daily. I’m taking tons and tons of pictures and I’m studying my own face. I’m going to figure out why it does what it does and how to make it do what I want it to do. I’m going to learn how to be so comfortable in front of a camera that I hardly know if it’s there. I’m not waiting for someone else to do it, either, I’m getting started now.

It doesn’t really matter what happens as a result. Maybe I’ll compile a digital folder with a gazillion pictures of myself, so what? Maybe I’ll learn how to control my eyebrow, that’d be nice. Maybe, this won’t help at all. Then again, maybe I’ll begin to conquer some of the biggest roadblocks I’ve faced in life, the ones I’ve generated. All those ideas and thoughts I have that do nothing to aid me will be questioned and eventually undermined.

It’s a start on that path, anyway. You know how it started? It started because of this iPhone. I got the iPhone and I pushed a button accidentally and the lens pointed at me instead of away from me and the sight of my own face scared me so badly I almost dropped the phone. I kept trying to hit different buttons to figure out what I’d done wrong and undo the torture. It was like the phone ringing in church, it was embarrassing. I knew my reaction was over-the-top but it was that intense. Seeing myself on the big screen was downright scary.

Then I had to go on camera yesterday. Actually, there were three cameras. There were also monitors that I could see myself on during the filming. God I hated how I looked so much I couldn’t stand it. When I left the studio my self-image was at level ten awful. It’s like I hit bottom. That’s it, I thought. It’s time to face this demon once and for all. So I pulled out the iPhone and I pressed the reverse button and snapped my photo. That was enough demon fighting and I put it away. Later I took out the phone and looked at the picture. I studied it. I tried to figure out what might make it better and then I snapped another one. I kept taking photos. I was trying to unlock some mystery. Maybe it was a certain side of my face I didn’t like. Maybe it was a look in my eye. Whatever it was I wanted to understand it. I wanted to overcome it. The feeling grew. It grew enough until it became a solid idea. I’d work on self-portraits.

I’ve decided that whatever happens next, I’m going to be prepared for it. I don’t ever want to feel surprised by a camera or a mirror or a shot again. I want to take my photo so much that I know what the shot is going to look like before I even see it. It’s like guitar. Some people play guitar enough that they know what something is going to sound like before they touch the strings. Not me, I’m just a beginner. I have to pluck and pull and hammer and slide my way around testing all the possibilities, one at a time. One day though, one day, I’ll know the sounds of my guitar. It might take awhile but I’ll learn. And that’s how it’s got to be with the camera, too.

Self Portrait for tonight:

It’s not like I’m the only one with this problem. I don’t know anyone who’s particularly fond of cameras or even the way they look. Nonetheless, I’m sure I’d be accused of navel-gazing if I posted this project on Facebook. Too bad. I better do some navel-gazing because just as I suspected as a two year-old the whole world does revolve around me. At least, my whole world revolves around me and if I’m not happy it seems to effect the other planets in my solar system. Why this healthy body my so-fortunate soul rests within should bring so much shame and self pity is incomprehensible to me and oh so exhausting I’ve just had enough. Navel advance! It’s time to unveil this beast and put it to rest.

Shutters ready.

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One of Those Days

I went downtown to look for fabric today. It was one of those days where you can’t find what you want. It’s not that they don’t have it, they do, but once you’ve found it you don’t want it anymore. I also had the feeling that I wanted to be anywhere besides where I was. When I was home I wanted to be on my walk, when I was on my walk I wanted to be in the bath, when I was in the bath I was ready to be on the road and when I was on the road I thought I should be there already. When I arrived I felt I had to rush, the parking is only for an hour, you know, when I left I felt I shouldn’t be leaving. It was just one of those days.

 

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Pretty Palomino


So here is the beautiful Palomino I’ve been riding at Russ Thompson’s. She’s such a nice horse you wouldn’t believe what a joy she is to ride. She is so responsive, brave and dependable. She’s a great little horse with a special personality. She’s smooth, she’s soft and she’s got some very expressive caramel eyes. Doesn’t she look like a dream horse?
I love riding up at the stables and I learn so much from them but I really miss having my own horse. I miss the relationship you have together. I miss the companionship and the freedom to ride alone or wherever whenever. I’m sure I did the right thing giving Velvet up because she’s doing so much better getting training and feed and care from someone with a lot more experience than I have, but I miss my partner.
One thing about horses is that mistakes don’t go over well. A little mistake actually comes with giant consequences. Whether it’s in riding, caring or purchasing the animal, I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes but at a tremendously high cost. It’s disappointing. I guess in other areas of my life I can afford to be impatient, indecisive or just plain lazy but with horses that will get you into a world of trouble. You’ve got to point and steer and follow through or you’ll end up off the side of the mountain. You have to make a plan and stick with it. You have to be flexible and alert to change course if need be. You have to be present. I don’t know if I’ve learned enough from the past mistakes to not make another one. But we’ll see. In the meantime I’ve got to build up my horse fund. So far it’s empty. I’ve got a lot of work to do.
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