Friday, January 25, 2008


Well my photography show is hung, and as Sheryl mentioned in her blog, one of the larger photos sold before it even made it to the wall. The buyer is very sweet and kind and I couldn't be happier than to know that she is enjoying it on her wall. Normally my buyers are pretty anonymous via the internet, and so this is a very nice change.

Sheryl and I ran into a number of small snags-- most people would call them "decisions", early on in the process but we navigated through. Then we hit a much bigger snag just before we headed over to hang the artwork: 14 out of 17 prints had been scratched by the vendor who mounted them. We had an obligation to hang the art anyway, so we did and then got on with life. It's taking a few days to sort it all out, but I just got a very touching and sincere email from the manager so it looks like we'll get it done.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Getting ready for a gallery show.

Getting ready for a gallery show. Despite having sold my photos now in 23 states and 2 foreign countries, this is to be my first show. It's fun. It was nerve wracking in that there were a lot of choices which had to be made very quickly, so we just made them (after a lot of hand wringing) and then took a day off on Friday to recoup. This will be an opportunity to be seen a bit more locally, and I feel pretty good about that.

Small secret: by the time a photo of mine gets printed I don't really care about it anymore. I care if it's an accurate print but that's about it. I think I care about other people getting enjoyment out of what I do, yeah, and I don't necessarily take criticism well. Maybe it's because photographs are largely produced in a fraction of a second, by a pretty sophisticated machine-- and then a bit more time gets invested in Photoshop, but then that's it. It's not like a painting, not like writing a short story. Can't really compare though; a photograph captures a moment in time in a very limited way. The camera introduces it's own distortions and embellishments and the photographer gets pretty good at manipulating that slice of reality. But I've been through this in writing and in music too. What's been produced already (by him) no longer matters much to the artist. Works in progress are important, and the next work to be produced. What's finished is just a fond memory and nothing lasts forever; why should we want it to?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Non-Violence (Ahimsa)

Should I write about “ahimsa”, just because somebody heckled me a couple of days ago? Sure, why not.

“Ahimsa” roughly translates as non-violence. If you’re big on “Ahimsa” you probably don’t go around heckling people. Heckling would be “Himsa”. Ahimsa is supposed to apply to thought, word and deed. If I were practicing ahimsa, I wouldn’t argue with people who heckle me. I’d just take it, quietly.

It’s very like the instruction to “turn the other cheek.” The idea being that if you truly recognize that we’re all one, there’s no point in, for example, defending oneself, because there is no oneself to defend. The attacker and the victim are the same cosmic being. That’s one interpretation.

Ahimsa is a sanskrit word. It has been interpreted as a concept many different ways. The Jainists, for example, require vegetarianism of themselves, go so far as to suggest that bugs and worms should not be harmed in the process of farming. Creatures at that level are rated in terms of how many senses they possess, from one to five. If you harm a five sense creature, that’s worse than harming a one sense creature. Also plants shouldn’t be wantonly harmed either.

I don’t know how they know which creatures have what senses. I do agree with the not harming plants: for example I hate to see names carved into trees. I don’t like to see trees cut down and have even written letters to newspapers about it, which is a bit ironic since newspapers are made of trees. Later I worked as journalist and tried to get as many of my photos and stories printed as I possibly could. Julia Butterfly, who sat in a redwood tree for two years in order to protect it, wrote a bestselling book about the experience and it wasn’t printed on recycled paper.

I have nothing against Julia Butterfly, in fact I like her a whole lot. I just found out recently that she didn’t actually write the book, it was ghostwritten. That bothered me much more than the non-recycling part.

If you’re a Jainist, by the way, you can serve in the military as a soldier. You can kill people in that context, it’s okay.

Sheryl and I have spent hours blissfully watching ducks and then gone out to a Thai restaurant and eaten roast duck. We photographed the beautiful red rooster pair at the local wildlife preserve, and took great delight in their continued presence there from day to day and week to week. The coots eventually adopted them as their own and it was really charming.

First one disappeared, then the other, several days later. We don’t know where they went. I can honestly report that I have been sad not to see them there anymore.

I went to the wildlife preserve today. And I had chicken for dinner. It was delicious. Life is full of contradictions, and normally I don’t try to reconcile that. Mostly I’ve seen people who think they know something better than other people--to the point where they feel the need to evangelize about it, just end up doing harm and reconciling nothing.

“Himsa” basically put, is stirring up trouble. “Ahimsa” near as I can tell, is sometimes interpreted as being a doormat to people who stir up trouble, and sometimes it isn’t interpreted that way: like when a Jainist soldier stops short to avoid stepping on a bug, and then raises his rifle to shoot a man who is perhaps invading his country and shooting a lot of other people on the way in.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Unusual Duck

Click on the ducky for a really close view (I rarely upload an image this size).
I never saw a duck quite like this one before.

Duck Walk

Click on the photo to see it larger.

Love Plants, Don't Eat Them

Sheryl just blogged about the accusation that was leveled at me because I dared to appear in a video about spiritual subjects wearing a leather jacket. She pretty much covered it all in her blog. About one in a thousand people want to take me down a peg because something about me disagrees with them or their ideology. It probably didn't occur to my latest detractor that I had worn the leather jacket on purpose, hee-hee. Moses, Mohammed, Jesus and Buddha all ate meat. That was part of my reply. I'm not a meat evangelist, and I most certainly respect vegetarians for their choices. Some of them don't respect me. . . because they're so nonviolent and all that. That means they can inform me that I have an inferior spiritual practice to them whether I asked their opinion or not. Perhaps this puts me lower on the spiritual evolutionary scale than a (righteous) vegetarian. They don't love me, perhaps they should eat me.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Power outage, part five.

Make a note to keep some headlamps handy. Even the cats like them.

Power outage, part four.

When the sun goes down place your four babushka figures in front of the wilting green and red stuff in a pink glass vase because it's Christmassy. Yes, that's a real word.
Then place two other candles in hurricane lamp enclosures because you never know. Light the candles. Light a bunch of other candles. Eat your favorite stuff from the frig because it's probably going to go bad. Feel okay about the rest of the food possibly going bad. Put on a headlamp that your housemate lends you and use it to help light up a photograph of the candles you just lit. Don't forget the star filter. Read half your girlfriend's new manuscript and find no necessary editing. Take another photo or two.

Power outage, part three.

It's a good idea to light the guardian angel candle that you bought at Longs a couple of days ago before the sun actually goes down. Give your girlfriend a placid explanation for why you bought a guardian angel candle when everything is fine or she'll think you had a psychic premonition about something worse than an impending power outage coming up. You might as well light this candle during the day because at night it barely puts out any light at all.

Coping with a power outage, part two.

Next, don't be a serious coffee drinker. It's important to have a light blue couch with a light blue slipcover that slips all the time. A hand-knit blanket that reminds you of Charlie Brown's zig-zag tee shirt is also a must, as is having easy access to at least two cats. You can substitute for one medium sized dog (or larger). Small dogs are pretty much useless in the event of a power outage. It's just a rule. I don't make the rules.

If your boyfriend managed to make some coffee you can steal sips. Tea is just as good isn't it? No, it isn't, but it's okay that you think so, even preferable at times.

It's also good if there's a light green water glass on the coffee table and a hand- sewn quilt that you made yourself hanging on the wall above the couch. A box of chocolate truffles from Trader Joes and askew pillows are optional.

How to cope with a power outage, part one.

In the event of a power outage, first, take your Zassenhaus hand cranked coffee grinder and use it. After that, everything will be okay. If you can't find your Zassenhaus coffee grinder, there are alternate methods such as putting your coffee beans in a sock and smashing them with a hammer, crushing them with a big rusty jar of peas on the cutting board, or wrapping your coffee beans in saran wrap and jumping up and down on them on the floor while screaming. None of these alternate methods work, but you'll feel better because you tried.

Hopefully you have a gas stove, a camp stove, or a chair that you never really liked that much which you can ignite in the back yard in order to boil some water. Don't forget to thank god that you roasted enough coffee beans before the power went out. If you didn't, you don't have enough chairs for that. Give up and drink tea.

Most serious coffee drinkers have at least two alternate methods for making coffee in case of a power outage.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Shoe tree

Stump 2

Different lens, different filter, different camera settings and very different photoshopping of the image. I wanted to see what I'd think of the two after a full day had gone by. Otherwise the two images were taken only minutes if not seconds apart.I like stump 2 much better. It's more the way that I saw the stump. The other one was an interesting experiment with a very different mood.