Thursday, March 24, 2011

Conversation with a Camera

Mesquite/Movement/MeditationPhotographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.
~Henri Cartier-Bresson

The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.
~Lao-tzu, Tao Te Ching

Taking photos has become integral to how I experience life.

For some years I have been on a quest to learn how to take pictures I like. The technical and creative lessons have paled compared to what I have learned. I’ve learned how to listen in on the conversation of Now.

The act of picking up my camera starts a ritual. Holding my camera in my hands silences chatty inner voices. I focus. I listen. It is then I can begin to hear the quiet stories that are being lived out around me.

I once listened to the short story of a dead beetle at my feet. I’ve listened to the dramatic tales of seeds on voyages far from home. I’ve heard the synchronized breaths of a boy and his horse, both so young as to have not yet forgotten the art of conversing with Now. I’ve heard a whole chapter in the gesture of an old man touching the place of a missing button on his shirt.

Through my camera, I’ve learned to listen much like the way my camera sees, giving attention to that which is, to welcome those vanishing, unexpected things.

Later, I look back at a photo I took and can recall the sun that hid in and out of the clouds on that particular morning. I remember my dog’s nose on my neck as I knelt to get close to a small flower. In the outer edges of the image, I recognize that unnameable sense of loss I carried and struggled to let go of that day.

The photo, even a thousand photos are still just a fraction of the conversation. When I look at a wildflower photo a year later, what I see most is myself now, different and transformed by those topics then.

Perhaps we naturally love photos, not only for their artistry, but because we recognize them as hints of the ongoing conversation we are all having with Time.

And the real beauty is that Now is always the subject.

This is an article I wrote as a guest last month for Kris Cahill's blog, where she featured "communication" as the month's theme.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day trip to Stanton, Texas

Cotton...all picked
Near Stanton, Texas

Yesterday, my daughter Audrey and I did a little daytrippin' to nearby Stanton, Texas. Stanton is "home of 3000 friendly people and a few old soreheads."

We took in the courthouse, the old jail, the 1883 adobe monastery, two cemeteries, the downtown where they hold their Old Sorehead trade days. We would have liked to have dined at the old drugstore with the real soda fountain, but sadly it's closed on weekends.

We wound our indirect way home on Farm to Market roads.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Making new friends, 21st century style

Pay it Forward 2011 #1
Pillow from Sue S.
West Odessa, Texas. Jan 27 2011

For dinner a couple of evenings ago, I got to meet — live and in person — a Facebook friend, Sue from Austin. We had ourselves a hoot and probably had other diners wondering about all our hand movements and outrageous laughter.

Besides having an interesting job with the Texas Historical Commission, she is quite the crafter. She calls all the knitting, sewing, basket-making, and crocheting she does, "My Other Life." I squealed when she gave me this quilted pillow cover. It was her gift as part of the game a group of us are playing in Facebook, Pay it Forward 2011 where we give one another something we make ourselves.

Cool, huh?

If you haven't "friended" me yet on Facebook yet, I hope you will.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I know what it is now

Greenthread (Hopi tea) seed head
Greenthread aka Hopi Tea seed head, Thelesperma spp.
West Odessa, Texas. Jan 13 2011

One of my goals has been to be able to identify winter forms of plants I love and know so well in summer. This particular dried seed head used to be a mystery to me. What an unusual structure don't you think? And no wonder I couldn't identify it; it looks unlike its summer self.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mr C is now Three

Three years old
Mr C is now Three
Odessa, Texas. Jan 22, 2011

Celebrated the little man's birthday yesterday.  Among his gifts was a box of band-aids. All for himself. ;)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thatsa big acorn

Big burr oak acorn
Burr oak acorn
Odessa, Texas. Jan 20, 2011

I love these big acorns. I like the frilly edges too. And according to this site, a burr oak is a good candidate for making acorn meal, with less tannin than other oaks. I've got to remember that next year in the fall.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Granny Square

Granny's square
Granny's square scan (crochet)
West Odessa, Texas. Jan 21, 2011

Didn't get around to taking a photo today. So instead I scanned! I'm working on a spring coverlet for my bed, not too gaudy, but cheerful.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Free Pumpkin

Free Pumpkin portrait
Free pumpkin
West Odessa, Texas. Jan 20 2011

While at the Master Gardener's plot yesterday, one of the master gardeners was visiting and tidying up. Someone had left four pumpkins and a bale of hay there. He gave me the pumpkins and he took the hay.

Time to research some recipes. Pumpkin bread, pumpkin soup, but not pumpkin pie! I'm losing weight and I love pie just too darn much.

I'm not real sure how to prepare a real live whole pumpkin from scratch. This ought to be fun.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Fasciation in a Sophora secundiflora (Texas Mountain Laurel)
Fasciation in a Sophora secundiflora, Texas Mountain Laurel
Time Machine Master Gardener's Garden, Odessa, Texas. Jan 19 2011

This odd fan form is not normal. It's is actually a kind of mutation at the cellular level, caused by a pest, genetics, damage, or other unknown factors. Some plants are prone to fasciation. I've seen it on several different specimens of the Sophora sedundiflora, one of my favorite Texas native trees. I think the form is beautiful. Apparently so do others, especially those gardeners that love, say, the cockscomb flower. Once you start looking for fascinating examples, you too will find fasciations.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

West Texas Coral

West Texas Coral
West Texas Coral
West Odessa, Texas. Jan 18 2011

Um, yeah, there's not any coral in West Texas. Instead this is an interesting piece of burned plastic I picked up in my wandering around the oil fields.

Monday, January 17, 2011


West Odessa, Texas. Jan 17 2011

Something I brought home from East Texas. Today it got its portrait taken.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

I love this cup

I love this cup
My desk
West Odessa, Texas. Jan 15 2011

Lately, I have been thinking about my mom, even more than normal. And suddenly I realized, I've been thinking about her since I began using this extra tall, pretty Chinese cup she gave me, a cup she used for a long time. I drink out of it all day long. I love this cup even more since it reminds me of her.

Hm, some hot green tea sounds really good right now.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Red Swingline!

Red Swingline
Red Swingline
Odessa, Texas. Jan 14, 2011

Found this delightful item on the desk of a favorite customer. It is actually orangish-red, but close enough to give me a darn good chuckle. She even marked it with her initials to keep others from taking it! She hasn't seen the movie Office Space, which made me giggle more.

Excuse me. I need to do my coversheet for the TPS report now.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

It's Bobble Time again

It's bobble time again
It's Bobble Time again
West Odessa, Texas. Jan 13, 2011

It's out of focus, it's grainy, but man I love the composition the dried heads of sunflowers and saw-tooth daisies make in the winter, "bobbles" I look forward to every year.

I'm blogging daily again, part of my 2011 resolution. I'm even going to put up a calendar again at the end of the month. I missed doing those calendars, a visual diary of my days, many of them splendid. Here's hoping your days are splendid and filled with your wintry favorites too.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ansel the Dog

Ansel the dog
West Odessa, Texas. Jan 12, 2011

Ansel is named after the famous American photographer Ansel Adams. I named him that because I found him while I was out taking photos one day. That and because he's black and white. He was just a puppy, dumped, scared, starving, with hardly had any life left in him.

Now he's full grown, full of life, and turns out to be one big knucklehead.

He chews my shoes, my glasses, anything I touch and am stupid enough to leave within his reach. He even chewed up the rug I left out for him to sleep on. He has a deep, frightening bark and howls at sirens. He can jump the fence and will chase (to kill) any animal, even a horse. That's why he has to stay on a leash at all times. When I let him inside, he promptly pees on my furniture.

P.S. He licked my camera lens after this photo.