Monday, December 31, 2007

Canada Geese

Took this today at Westlake park.

Beware of dog

Sometimes an off the cuff snapshot gets weird. Sheryl and I have both noticed that our cameras have an occasional "magic factor". There are other folks who put "magic" to good use with old polaroid cameras (I bought one recently at a second hand store, then couldn't bear to pay more than a dollar a shot for film). Some still use the "Holga"; a very cheap toy camera with plastic lens, light leaks, and all manner of aberrations to technically ruin your shots. . . or create a masterpiece which cannot be repeated. I'm working on breaking the rules more, and having some fun making bonehead mistakes with interesting consequences. I un-weirded the above photo quite a bit in photoshop, but then I liked the remaining bizarre color cast, and most especially like the way that the dog lined himself up behind the wire. Click on the photo for a much larger view.

After the rain


Looks a lot better if you click on the photo.


Have an abundant new year.

Eye Contact

Friday, December 28, 2007

One last time this year: Merry Christmas!

And Happy Solstice, Happy Hannukah, and we're indeed coming into the new year. Sheryl and I dragged a camera out in the rain tonight and tried out the new star-filter. Fun stuff. I only took one picture. Did not notice at the time that the address is number 13. Well 13 has always been lucky for me.

Santa Cruz at west cliff drive

This is one of my favorite places to go walking.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Some facets of "Siddhis"

Ok, I used a foreign word again. Generally I am in favor of good translations. There isn't a good translation of the word "Kundalini", so I wrote about it in a previous blog and Sheryl even interviewed me on video to talk about it. A Kundalini awakening is an experience of spiritual opening. Spiritual opening experiences sometimes result in "siddhis" which the Buddha called "special powers." Special powers can be distracting, confusing, or even tempting to get all mixed up in the details doing stuff like healing people, reading minds, foretelling the future etc. The Buddha suggested ignoring siddhis, ignoring any astral voices you might hear and so on. Why? He figured that siddhis were simply one more thing to get attached to which would prevent you from reaching enlightenment. He was probably right. Speaking for myself, I never set out to be a healer. My first reaction to it was of relative surprise-- it didn't seem to fit. I knew when I came into it that it wasn't the end of anything, wasn't the point of anything, and that it should not distract me from further developing myself spiritually. Currently I'm assuming that being a practicing healer is a good way to teach me to be a more compassionate man and also to teach me greater humility. There are probably some other lessons in there, not the least of which is to teach me some acceptance, and actually love of how things are.

Sheryl and I try not to call ourselves psychic, but we do use that skill. Recently I told a client thousands of miles away the name of somebody close to them, and also some precise details which can easily be verified (actually the bulk of those details were verified instantly). The client seemed impressed. I don't know why I did that, but I can guess: I did it so that the client would be impressed. The relative usefulness of giving a client useless information that they already know is just to make them listen, to re-assure them that Sheryl and I aren't just pulling platitudes out of our asses. Of course, we do pull platitudes out of our asses but we charge extra for that.

Most of the time in a session I don't know why exactly I'm saying what I say, but I can't say anything else until I say exactly what I'm supposed to say. I'm not using siddhis, siddhis are using me. I just show up for the event, and hold the highest intentions for the client. Sheryl does that too, but she's also a really excellent counselor. I don't think she worries about siddhis any more than an expert seamstress worries about the unfair advantage of utilizing a top notch sewing machine. And good for her I say, good for me too-- we're just a little different in some ways.

Flower Mandalas

Maybe it's Sheryl's influence on me, but lately we've been shooting lot of flowers. This is not to be confused with the practice of "blowing up roses" if you're familiar with the Berkeley Psychic Institute. No, we just photograph them and as far as I know we have no incendiary rose fantasies. I don't always find roses to be the most symmetrical of flowers, nor am I always attracted to symmetry, but lately I am fascinated by plants, the way that they present themselves to the world and all their characteristics. In the meantime a renewed focus on macro photography is coinciding with a renewed interest in extracting truly perverse color from the poor dears in Photoshop. It might be kinder just to shoot them, blow them up, drive a stake through their hearts and dispose of the remains on a moonless night. After all, aren't flowers beautiful and colorful enough already? Of course. But I don't grow flowers, I take pictures of them. I reserve artistic license to turn the image into. . . whatever. I have lots of arguments with myself over this.

Ever notice how much a flower looks like a Mandala? Or vice versa-- repeating patterns growing outward; you might see five pointed stars enclosed by a pentagon in the middle of a five pointed star and so on. Crystalline structures are like that too: the macro representation of the form is an exact scaling up of the microscopic. The mandala is supposed to train your mind to understand the importance of that: of the interconnectedness of all that is.

Sheryl and I both went through a period of fascination with geometric forms. Sheryl is still drawn to images of tree branches. She keeps photographing them: not the whole tree, just the branches but she's rarely, if ever, satisfied with the results. I honestly suspect that it's the shortcomings of the camera, that it fails to capture some very key, yet subtle variations on a theme. I've noticed that people who have difficulty making decisions are often mesmerized by tree branches and they don't know why. It would do them good to lie beneath a tree just staring until they get tired of it. It's therapy, it's a mandala, it teaches the mind that as every branch reaches the sky, every decision reaches just as beautifully and gracefully into the future.

Fun with a wide angle lens

Sheryl and I are agreeing that what we like about the extreme wide angle lens has something to do with the way that it forces us into a broader perspective, and not the usual narrowing in and isolating of the subject. At the same time, and perhaps equally important, is the fact that extreme wide angle lenses (in this case a 10mm focal length) distort the image terribly. Check the angles in the above photo. They're all wrong and I love it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Neary Lagoon in daylight

Just had to try out the new wide angle lens. Under most circumstances we haven't really wanted to use the full zoom range; the shot above was taken at 20mm focal length. Looking forward to exploring the full 10mm capabilities.

Winter Solstice Moon

In a week or so I'm looking forward to taking more twilight/sunset photos-- will be trying some new techniques. Can't get over how much the moon looks like the sun in this photo. Neary Lagoon is one of our favorite places to go walking.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

All You Need Is Love

Conner from Boulder Creek called me out of the blue the other day to remind me of the importance of unconditional love.

Click to enlarge the photo.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Spikey Things

Click on the spikey plant to make it bigger and spikier, it’s fun!

Interesting week, Sheryl and I have both had our moods and have been tested here and there. Also have had many positive things and really rewarding work with great clients. My photos continue to sell and Sheryl and I both continue to grow as artists as well as spiritual counselors and healers.

We both got emails recently from people who seem to hit the “send” button before they think things through. Sheryl wrote about hers already, but in a nutshell it involved an overzealous individual with poor manners and apparently a short attention span. They sent an email, back dated to July, had many earmarks of a hoax or a scam ( we get hoax emails now and then). Anyway it was sent to one of Sheryl’s best customers, and not even to Sheryl directly, but apparently it wasn’t a hoax. It was pretty disruptive; intended to disrupt Sheryl’s business near as I can tell. The letter demanded some sort of “compliance” within seven days or they threatened to turn the matter over to their legal department, and then they even named the attorney (who, by the way, did not send the email and probably doesn’t know that his named is being swung around like a little league baseball bat). The parts of the email that really stood out were:

A. They called it a “courtesy letter”.

B. It wasn’t a letter, it was a back dated email with garbled and incorrect information.

C. They called it “personal and confidential” matter when in fact it was about an alleged trademark infringement, and it was demanding immediate action that would require the involvement of third parties.

D. and finally: there was no infringement !

I think that “D” stood out the most, at least to Sheryl and I. Somebody stumbles drunkenly into your place of business, making threats and disrupting your livelihood, well, that’s not good. This, of course, is a metaphor, just in case anybody out there has trademarked “drunken stumbling”. Don’t sue me ‘bro.

I, on the other hand, got some nice comments and a very very polite email that I nonetheless didn’t like much. A guy telling me in the nicest way that I should be more careful about putting my opinions out on youtube. I ended up writing him back because near as I could tell he really misunderstood the video, so I asked him to watch it again and then write me again. He didn’t write back. Oh well. Also, youtube should be censored for any opinions you disagree with? Nah, I don’t think so.

In his letter he did a really good job of describing the experience of the numinous, and how the individual ego dissolves and experiences what he called “pure consciousness.” At that point the separation between the “I” and “God” if you will (nobody has trademarked that yet) is considered nonexistent. Hence people coming out of such an experience sometimes have difficulty putting it into words, sometimes have problems placing the experience into a context in their lives. It is decidedly not an ego trip, and i know i didn’t claim that it was. As far as I know, the individual ego collapses like a teardrop into the ocean when immersed in the mystical experience.

However: I did describe in the video that sometimes people get confused or change their lives immediately following such an event and the outcome isn’t always the most beneficial. Understand that the ego is a necessary part of a functioning psyche; it has a healthy instinct to rebuild itself. Sometimes, the ego attaches itself to the mystical experience in a mixed up way--- My critic didn’t think so. He wanted to claim that the mystical experience was a universal and was the same for everyone. Nope. We may all be one but we’re all different too.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Spontaneous Kundalini

Sheryl and I get an unusual number of contacts lately regarding Kundalini. We put up a video on the subject awhile ago, first on our website and then on youtube. The whole idea originally was just to have a little video so that people could see our faces and hear our voices in a kind of a “see how sane and not scary or weird we are?” way. But we had to have something to talk about, and in one of the vids I talk about how I had a Kundalini rising experience when I was 13 or so. Some very nice people posted comments about their own experiences too (on youtube)

In short, a Kundalini rising is ideally an enlightening experience. However there are a lot of descriptions on the web about people having spontaneous occurrences and being none too happy about it because they suffer ill effects. My own experiences with Kundalini have been wonderful, but I was already seriously into meditation and study when I first experienced a k-rising. The physical sensation for me felt like a spiraling/ tornado sensation of whirling energy starting at the base of the spine and moving upwards until it reached the top of my head. The feeling was of the energy passing upward and outward beyond my physical body. The physical sensations were not confined to the spinal area. Emotionally the experience was one of overwhelming love and joy, of boundlessness/ oneness or of the “numinous.” Intellectually I felt that all my questions were answered in an instant. Some people have described the experience as orgasmic or like a spiritual orgasm, but that’s an analogy and not a direct correlation to the sexual. I would call it an intense and profound spiritual experience.

So we’ve had some contacts asking how to come by this experience, and a few asking for help or seeming worried about the experience. In the last instance Sheryl gave an excellent and well considered response; having been through her own “spiritual emergency”.

So. . . here’s my answers, and they’re just opinions. You can’t take out your credit card and buy a Kundalini. No short cuts to enlightenment, and no long way round either (You might have been born enlightened). There’s a yoga practice called Kundalini yoga, and it might get you there, it might not. So might any devotional path, and in my opinion no devotional path is superior to any other. Or maybe you're just a good person with no use for any of this enlightenment talk anyway, and that's fine by me too. I'm not trying to convert or convince anybody of anything.

Conversely you might get hit with an overwhelming spiritual event that you didn’t expect and weren’t prepared for. Mostly the descriptions on the internet are about those instances, and I’m dismayed by that: where a wonderful gift of being hit by something beneficial that you weren’t quite ready for is equated with catching a painful and debilitating illness. Here is Sheryl’s edited response to a person who was having a particularly difficult time:

“Paul and I both have had experiences with Kundalini. Some of mine were quite difficult as well (Paul's were not) but we both have insights we think will help.

. . . have you ever been in a group, followed a guru or guidebook that said these (difficult) experiences are "normal", "to be expected" or suffered through because it's a "healing" of sorts? This is not strictly the case. To shift this, know that self-realization leads to knowing your infinite true nature. You ARE all and YOU have the power to work with this. Belief makes the biggest difference. For example, Paul's first Kundalini experience was very stimulating but essentially one of oneness, peace and bliss. Mine, not so much. Paul was ready. I was scared and clamped down -- I wasn't adequately prepared for what was happening, didn't understand it. I learned the hard way to:

1) Open and surrender. I learned in my Reiki Master training to use nothing more than belief and intention to open the chakras. Paul got the same idea that he could do this as a teenager before he got his Reiki training. He just does what he does naturally. I use a technique: My Reiki teacher taught me to visualize the top of a person's head opening like a flower. When I feel Kundalini rushes happen I open that crown chakra to allow the energy out the top of my head and there is no intense build-up of heat to cause problems anymore.

2) When Kundalini rushes for me spontaneously I have come to realize that it is always there to force me into awakening. I ask: why now? What exactly was I thinking, dreaming, (worrying) when the sensations took over? What do I need to learn? If I can address the beliefs I was working with and choose to accept a different one, the Kundalini automatically resolves.

3) Paul has been able to use his intention to get the flow to cease. Literally saying something like: I can choose to change this now and I ask that this happen -- and choosing to believe this power to choose IS within our own power is the key.

Practice helps. Learning through my Reiki teacher that intention is the key to healing made a big difference for me. But she didn't do more than I just said to you. She said: Do it, planted the belief that we COULD, and then let us practice on each other. The practice gave us the visceral experience of this choice working and that cemented the belief for me. Made it real so I can use it whenever I remember to. . . “

Couldn’t have said it better myself. Some people describe Kundalini as if it were an alien entity in control of your body and mind. It’s not. You are. Or rather your limited perception of self. Who ever said that the individual acting in isolated consciousness, believing itself to be separate from all that is was the norm?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bliss over ignorance divided by "is"

If ignorance is bliss, does it logically follow that bliss is ignorance? There’s a guy downtown who walks around cleaning up trash, emptying garbage cans, sweeping the sidewalk and singing at the top of his lungs the whole time, “GOD BLESS AMERICA!”

Now, he gets the lyrics mixed up, and the melody isn’t quite right either, but damn if that guy isn’t happy as a clam doing work that most of us try to avoid. This of course begs the question: are clams happy? And if so, why?

Anyway, I said to Sheryl, “I think that guy is the enlightened one.” and I was only half kidding. He’s got a job to do and he’s doing it. He’s smart enough to know that external circumstances do not dictate his internal mind-state. He likely does not worry himself whether clams are happy or not, or if the word “is” can be considered equivalent to an = sign, nor does he wonder if the words on either side of "is" are therefore interchangeable.

Once I solve whether is = = , I will have opened a whole can of worms about whether there is a single word equivalent to > because I’ll need to know based on the previous outcome what to do about the whole thing. If is = = , then the problem is solved: bliss does equal ignorance and the words are interchangeable. If not, is there another mathematical symbol which would better suit the phrase? By now you’ve probably said to yourself, “Wait a sec, bliss does not equal ignorance, therefore the word “is” does not equal an equals sign. . . except when it does, depending on the phrase. “This is it” comes pretty close, but even though “It is this” means about the same thing, it will never mean exactly the same thing. It is all context dependent. What’s more striking to me is not that simple words like “is” are hard to define, but that small changes in the order of things can have a big effect. “That book is his” means about the same thing as “That is his book.” The word “his” however, magically transformed from a pronoun in the first sentence, to an adjective in the second sentence, even though both sentences effectively mean that “that book belongs to him.”

If, in an effort to be clear, knowing the vagaries of the English language you now state:
“That book is his. That is his book. That book belongs to him.”
what you have actually said is,
“If you touch that book, I’m going to hurt you.”
God bless America.

On the other hand if you were to say, “This is my only pen.” to somebody asking to borrow it, they’ll probably walk away and ask the next guy-- making a mental note that you’re a person to be avoided in the future, even if you’re holding the pen out to them in a gesture of good will and grinning broadly. Conversely if you say “This is only my pen” with the same gesture, they’ll walk away even faster, especially if you follow it up with, “My pen is only this” and then cap it off with “Only my pen is this.” Ah, what the heck, take it a step further and start addressing the pen directly, “Pen, is this my only?” now repeat, with feeling, “Only my pen is this!” “This, my only pen is!” and as the police are being called, one more time with “This is my only pen!”

If only I hadn’t opened this can of worms. . . God Bless America; ignorance is bliss. . . I was happy as a clam a minute ago. Really though, I think that a clam is neither happy nor sad, a clam just “is”. . . Stand beside her. . . I suspect that what we don’t know can hurt us, but then so can what we do know. . . And guide her. . . Total knowledge would functionally be the same as complete ignorance. . .
Through the night, by the light from above.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The barn owl shirt

My current best seller in the form of shirts is the barn owl photo seen above. I do love the fact that folks are wearing this soulful fellow in parts as far flung as Connecticut and Nebraska. Buy it by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kid Nation ambush!

Ok, thirty minutes into the new show "Kid Nation" and the producers have already manipulated these children into divisive, ridiculous behavior. No chance at all to let the kids come up with their own system to work together cooperatively even though they were already showing signs of doing so: helping the younger children, calling a town meeting etc. Nope, can't let that stand. They were divided literally into four color coded teams and just as quickly pitted against each other, then squeezed into a heirarchical capitalistic system. What a disappointment. What a bore. They really had us in the first fifteen minutes, then they lost us.

Yes, we watched the whole thing anyway. But wouldn't it be interesting enough to see what kids can come up with on their own? Ok, I'll admit that when I first saw the promo I nicknamed it "Lord of the Flies," but still. I never watch "reality TV" because it's so manipulated for dramatic elements that there's no reality to it at all. Once in awhile I get my hopes up though, that somebody will choose to show how the finer elements of human nature can rise to the surface.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Pecking at the Roots of Perfection

I was thinking I would write about something I like to call “Pollyanna syndrome.” That’s when a person gets it into their head that they have to be so very filled with sweetness and light at all times, else they are somehow failing to be a good person. With all the emphasis lately on “manifesting” there seems to have been a misinterpretation of how positive thinking as a general habit actually should fit in with being a human being in possession of a whole wide range of juicy emotions, including "negative" emotions.

We’re created as multidimensional beings with an entire pantheon of passions; shutting them down tends to cause malfunctions. But I thought of that subject weeks ago when I heard about an acquaintance exhibiting all the signs and symptoms of "Polyanna". Then it took awhile to resurface in me, and I'm less clear on the subject now because I pushed it aside: not wanting to be critical. It's so much better to be present with where we are at, and to take a minute or two to write an article or sing or shout or whatever. Repressing emotions doesn’t eliminate them, they just go underground into the subconscious to ferment for awhile-- they’ll be back, but in a more, shall we say interesting form?

When it comes to dealing with our emotions the best bet is to be aware of one’s thoughts and how those thoughts are feeding emotions: we can change what we think, we can change our beliefs and our opinions, and certainly we can choose to look on the bright side of life BUT, we can’t be all one thing and still be human. Shakespeare wrote tragedies and comedies. Artists utilize darkness and light and musicians play major and minor chords.

Of late I’ve been looking at the concept “picture perfect.” It’s a fact that the standard now in wildlife photography is to take pictures of captive animals. Usually these are rescued creatures who were found injured or abandoned: mountain lions, wolves and so on. Sure, there are still plenty of photos taken of animals in the wild, but there are essentially “super models” of the animal world who live on rescue ranches where the paparazzi regularly visit. It still takes skill, quality gear, good light, some luck and a fair amount of photoshop tweaking to get the impressive images but hey, it’s photography and photography is it’s own reality. But I struggle with that. Captive animals used to capture captivating images. I think what we like about wild animals is that they are actually wild, elusive, uncontrolled. It's that part of us underneath the surface, like the smoldering hot core of the earth.

Also recently I came across another photographer’s gallery and I think he called it “the perfect image.” That gallery consisted of studio images; impressive and highly commercial stuff, which always gets me thinking about the many varieties and angles of artificial light it takes to reproduce those images: not to mention the makeup and other tricks. Did you know that aside from all the soft boxes, umbrellas, reflectors and there is even a light called a “beauty dish”, a good studio shoot might also include a “hair light” which is suspended just above your head but out of frame and it’s sole purpose is to put a highlight on your hair. I can’t seem to get the hair light out of my head. But I must admit that I’ve seen the effect and it does look good.

Where was I . . . I don’t know. The subject of perfection gets old and tedious and the mind won’t dwell where it’s weary. Sheryl has recently discovered the value of downtime and how important it can be to just watch the ducks at the muddy bog called a wildlife preserve just down the road. We watch the ducks and don’t even think about taking more photographs, trying to capture some fleeting moment of perfection or otherwise working away at our practice to make sure everything is going the way we want it to... Out of the bushes one day came these two little chickens with their red crests and yellow feet. Chickens are pretty darn domestic and they don’t belong at a wildlife preserve. Somebody let them go. Wild chickens. We don’t know how they got there, ruining the perfection of a preserve with their clucking, crowing, their charming presence. They run from the ducks and fly into the trees, incongruous and beautiful.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunar eclipse 8/28/07

These are pretty much snapshots of the eclipse last night. John brought out a telescope for the first time, and you could really see the detail of the moon, craters and all, even seeing the side texture of the moon in profile. My camera was set to -2 stops exposure compensation to get some detail, but it was insufficient to show what could be seen through the telescope in terms of the actual craters and texture of the moon.

10X50 binoculars gave the best view of the softness of the earth's shadow across the moon, one could see the roundness clearly in the shadow, and the cast of the shadow was brownish, not black like the photo shows. I could have chosen to put the camera on a tripod and play with exposures more for better shadow detail-- just wasn't that motivated at 3AM. Ideally one would shoot on a tripod, with a longer lense I would think, and for the truly motivated: bracket the exposures and make a composite image in photoshop in order to show the shadow details without blown-out whites in the bright areas.

In the last few days I've been having to shoot very white subjects against dark backgrounds and am being treated to just how poor the dynamic range of a photo is, versus our eyes. I don't know why there hasn't been a compressor/limiter function introduced to digital cameras yet: they've been available for the audio spectrum for many years now. Other special effects are becoming pretty popular on digital cameras, but something to cope with the dynamic range I would actually find useful. There's a photoshop filter to "lighten shadows and darken highlights" would be much more useful on camera before the image is compressed and written to memory.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Another day job report

Our latest best sellers-- Sheryl's is the pretty heart graphic. I probably have too many snowy egrets and great egrets, will have to round that out with some bugs, spiders, or maybe a sunset. I haven't come across any large-eyed puppies lately, and baby ducks are out of season. All kidding aside, I'm considering new directions, new subject matter.

Great Egret from above

Sheryl and I went down to point Lobos the other day. Past Carmel, we had a nice time even though it was one of those days when I thought I got a lot of nice photos and turns out I only got a very few. Sea Otters are fun to watch but I find them hard to photograph. We took a few photos of a Raven, but I think he was old and not too healthy so we sent him healing instead. There were Great Blue Herons but they were a bit distant, and then their close cousin, the Great Egret as seen above. This one was so very white that he was tough to photograph and I kept trying to readjust as he moved around. Only recently have we observed egrets and herons actually standing on patches of floating seaweed, walking and feeding as if they were on solid ground.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

There is just something about birds of prey

There is something about birds of prey that is intriguing. In this country we very nearly chose the turkey as our national bird. It's hard to imagine but then not so hard when you think about what the turkey represented at the time: abundance, prosperity, the promise of a future far away from that which was left behind. Furthermore the wild turkey was considered a wily, intelligent animal, adaptable and somewhat elusive. Hard to imagine this if you have ever encountered the inbred domestic variety. The turkey as a national bird didn't happen in America, we chose the bald eagle instead: a raptor, and a big one at that. Nobody eats an eagle, an eagle is the predator, not the prey. I've seen them, photographed them though not very succesfully. A large raptor like that, at the top of the food chain is quite naturally an endangered species. They take on the toxins, the karma so to speak, of all god's creatures by virtue of their feeding habits. The top predator is a highly specialized animal who lives by the sharpness of his eye, the speed of his dive, the breadth and crushing strength of his talons.

Much of what Sheryl and I do is wily, elusive, intelligent, refined or esoteric. We're wild turkeys and sometimes I want to be a raptor. The hardest lesson I've learned as a healer is to know when to back off, wait, be gentle or be subtle, to pay more attention and listen more carefully and then to heed what I hear. I love this work but sometimes it's hard-- to sacrifice my egotistical desire for instant gratification for the good of the client: for their empowerment and well being. Who am I? I'm neither a raptor nor a turkey. I'm nothing. The power is in my transparency, and not in my overpowering presence.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The day job report

My top selling photo (above).

Sheryl's top selling design.

Of course, Sheryl's top seller has outsold mine to the tune of being nine times more popular. I, however have figured out how to catch up. Sheryl has a very competitive nature, but she's not always aware of just how competitive she really is. I've noticed how often she'll copy or otherwise compete with the things that I do without even thinking about it. But here's her achilles heel: she can't eat much ice cream without feeling sick. I can. Sure, I may gain twenty pounds, but while Sheryl is lying on the couch clutching her gut and wondering why she ate another ice cream cone-- I'll use that precious time trying to design new t-shirts, greeting cards. . . (insert evil laughter here).

Peacock near San Gregorio

We saw lots of quail too, but no Llamas.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Recently about half the hits to our website from all our Craigslist ads come from a single “Fred” ad that I wrote. Its 4.6 times more popular than the second place ad. Our print ads may be doing a lot for us, or a little, we don’t always know. I freely admit that I wrote the last of four Fred based, uh, stories, just to watch the stats go “ping!” Or to at least try it out and see what would happen. It became a curiosity ever since I wrote an ad called “Marketing the spiritual: the story of Fred.” I also didn’t like leaving Fred hanging out there without some closure. The whole saga is on the Fred portion of our homepage, and it's on our giftshop link, Sheryl got it on it too.

Oh, we got one of those ALL CAPS I AM VERY ANGRY WITH YOU emails from somebody recently. Sheryl took care of it, I never even got to see it. Ah yes, the price of fame. We shall have to alert the bodyguards.

We're trying to decide whether to do a paper newsletter to contribute around Santa Cruz. I think we're itching to publish something, not sure that a newsletter is the thing to do. We've already got an email newsletter, blogs, so I'm assuming that the urge has to do more with seeing physical, touchable things that we've created. Sheryl got herself a compound miter saw. It has a laser and everything. It's for her perfume business, yep, uh-huh.

Beth Donnelly?

Several characters in a dream a couple of days ago kept repeating the name "Beth Donnelly" to me just before I woke up. I don't know why. I don't know anybody by that name. If your name is Beth Donnelly, maybe you'd have an idea why. Feel free to drop me an email or make a comment on the blog. I did try Googling the name, but got no solid clues since I didn't know what I was looking for. Last time I got a random psychic hit like this I never figured out why, but I keep trying. That's about it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fly on the wall

Hey, that was fun. Sheryl and I did our first class together last night. Standing room only. No, not really, we sat. Thanks to the wonderful people who attended and their participation it was a big success. Sheryl felt moved to take the lead the first time out but in the future we’ll be trading off “lead” and “assistant” positions. We’ll be doing more classes, most likely weekly because it will hold together better that way. The next class will indeed be next week but we aren't trying to get every person to attend every week, it will be more informal than that. The format is still taking shape, but so far we’re adapting the class to the participants. Both Sheryl and I were spiritually guided to be just that free form with the class even though our instincts were to do a lot more preparation.

Some highlights from the first class? Everybody seemed to be interested in accessing spiritual guidance directly. We had an intellectual crowd and everybody seemed to agree that the intellect had a tendency at times to block intuitive information. However we also had a consensus that preserving your common sense was important. In general points weren’t belabored and the evening was more participatory than theoretical, especially when Sheryl started demonstrating bibliomancy as a simple means to accessing intuitive information. Of course Sheryl has several techniques that she uses and her dowsing capabilities popped right in as well, and then my clairvoyance came in too... so much for teaching the basics.

I’d forgotten how great group work can be. Can’t emphasize enough how great it was that people shared their stories and experience. Sheryl and I ran a little long talking about our personal histories, so that part probably won’t be repeated. I think we need to get out more, but other than that it’s hard to fault our first jointly led group. Sheryl’s many years of experience with peer counseling and teaching showed through and that was great. She was a little nervous but I’m sure that will improve; it’s another reason we’re trading off the lead position. No need to stress Sheryl out when I'm right there.

Sheryl’s already got the announcement ready for how we’re going to proceed. She just sent this to me:

“Last night's class was quite the trip. We had a great time and, in order to give people who couldn't attend another chance to check it out, we want to do it two more times before we launch into a full class series.

Come join us next Tuesday night (July 24) or the one after (July 31st). The content of this first introductory class will be the same: we'll get to know each other, give people individual guidance and assistance with what they most want to get out of a class like this, answer questions and maybe have time for a little discussion.  If you came last night you're welcome to come again, meet more people, bring your friends, ... or wait until we start the class series a few weeks from now {should we set a date and/or say how often it will meet yet?}

The class will meet from 6:45 - 8:45 pm (we went over time last night but we'll try to do much better) and the cost is a sliding scale fee based on what you can afford from $15-35 per meeting. Please send an email or give us a call to let us know if you plan to come. We'd appreciate that! And, as last night, please try to avoid wearing highly scented products (thanks again!). “