January 22, 2015

Tweaking ones perception


The possibilities are endless.

Whenever I begin the editing process, I just fly ...
rarely do I venture through with a preconceived notion of how an image should look
but rather
an aim towards a feeling or some sort of emotional response to the moments
of being there.


This quote by Ansel Adams remains one of my favorites:

You don't make a photograph just with a camera.
You bring to the act of photography
all the pictures you have seen,
the books you have read,
the music you have heard,
the people you have loved.



Here's another fine one, from the great street photographer, Elliott Erwitt:

To me, photography is an art of observation.
It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place ...
I've found it has little to do with the things you see
and everything to do with the way you see them.


When I stood next to this wall in my friend's garden, I literally had a gut reaction
to the armature of this vine.  I'd only ever seen it during the leafy months
when it's so covered with greenery the exquisite structure is hidden.
I immediately loved how it showed its age, how carefully tended & tied to the wall it was,
how gnarled, twisted, interwoven and even fragile it looked [ but wasn't ] ...
and later, working through the edit, I realized my response was also sparked by
a longing for other gardens I've known, or tended, elsewhere in the world
that I probably won't ever see again.


The bottom photo was the first edit & was yesterday's post on Instagram.  I thought
I was done.  But for some unknown reason I just kept playing ...

With the addition of a 4th app, my perception jumped into another realm entirely
and suddenly two symmetrical versions have added to the story
in quite unexpected ways.  Which, as it turns out, is
precisely in tune and apropos to my feelings about
that vine
on that wall
in that moment.

Memories can be fierce
even if they're buried and one hasn't thought of them in a long time.

: : :

I wasn't going to write a new post until I finalized a fresh blog layout.
HA!  so much for that idea.



December 30, 2014

Unimpeded


Thought it might be fitting to wind down this year of posts
with some thought-provoking verse from Maya Stein.  I've borrowed one of her words
for the title of this one.   "a dream" appeared in this morning's mail with perfect timing,
as her poetry so often does, and not only includes a reference to potholes, but arrived
exactly when I am ripe for the reading.
Unimpeded
yes, this will be a fine word to hold onto for the new year ... a heady reminder
that most blockades I feel are actually the ones I've put up myself.

First though, I owe you kind folks a debt of gratitude for your extremely helpful comments
on my last post about a Sweetpea Path makeover.  You've given me much to consider
and I'm so glad I asked!  It's been very  very  enlightening
and heartwarming
to receive your feedback, both on the blog and via private emails.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do that.
My 'idea hat' is now filled to the brim.

~ Mt. Baker view, while riding the ferry across the Salish sea ~

... so without further ado

a dream

For a moment, it all disappeared: the potholes tripping up your stride,
the broken love story, the difficult decision, the rigor of worry about things
you know you can't possibly fix.  Suddenly, some vacuum sucked it all inside
and you leaned back, unimpeded, innocent, casual with your gaze, the stings
of your life returned to their nascent nettles.  For a moment, you were able
to neutralize your place in the world, find fresh buoyancy in the waves.
For a moment, you saw, even, the geometry of loss, each cradle
that holds our grief so steady, each heartbeat threading through the maze.
But this was no sunny island reverie, some implausible and pointless dream.
It was you, remembering where you've always been.

~ Maya Stein

: : :

from "10-Line Tuesday" poetry series
... a backlog can be viewed   here




December 27, 2014

Changes gonna come


My little blog is in need of some new finery.

~ deer trail across the front field ~

Just like the deer trail above,
Sweetpea Path has barely wavered  in style, direction or sideline accoutrements
since hopping onto the internet five years ago.
Oh my, has it really been  that  long?
Why, some blog authors I know have changed their look half a dozen times
within that span.

Our time has come.
And I'm so excited !

~ picnic table, weathering ~

Dunno exactly when, sometime early in the new year I expect,
I'll be shaking it up around here.  Gonna stay with Blogger [am comfy here]
but I've been feeling the need for pages/tabs up top [more elbow room to add information],
a little less clutter in the sidebar [maybe no sidebar at all],
and well, just the opportunity to enjoy more template options such as fonts & picture placement;
perhaps even a header with photos in it - imagine that.

My current template is so old, no one joining Blogger in the last few years has had
the option of using it.  It's terribly limiting and I do believe
I've plum outgrown it.

So this is to let you know there may be a bit of chaos
while I sort out my new  *look* 
and
I was wondering, ahem, if I could ask you something ...

~ sun flares at winter solstice ~

You see, nowadays there are SO MANY options for page design/layout
I'm spoiled for choice.  And I'm a bit confused if truth be told.
A few details I'm certain about and the rest are up in the air.
What better way to get a temperature reading than to ask those of you who stop by,
what do you most like to see on someone's blog?
What welcomes you?  What makes you want to come back?
If you can spare a few moments, would you kindly leave a comment
[or write a quick note via the email link on the right if you prefer]
and let me know what blog attributes you like best ...
Meaning, as a visitor & reader, when you arrive on someones blog to peruse a post
what is it you really like to see there and what are the blog functions which make that easy?

Although this blog has served as my online journal - tailored & tuned in a personal way - 
there's no denying how very important you folks are.

I thank you in advance for leaving your thoughts.




December 11, 2014

Thievery ... a reflection


Don't worry.  This post is not about what you might think.


But it is about theft.  Of a kind.

It all started when I headed out to the driveway for some pothole repairs.  Minutes before,
while finishing a strong cup of sweet milky tea, I'd been re-reading some inspirational quotes. 
Collected over the years I revisit them periodically - a kind of mental balm.
As I shoveled gravel, loaded buckets into the cart, hauled them down the drive,
one quote in particular
kept going round & round in my head.



Manual labor does this to me.  Always has.  And I suppose if I really examine the subject
I'd have to say that one of the aspects of hard physical work I enjoy the most
is that there's precious little room for mental distraction - it taxes my body 
while something akin to stream-of-consciousness thinking always sets in.
Perhaps it's to do with endorphins, I don't know. 

My 10" X 10" cast iron tamper weighs about 16 pounds and aside from a shovel
- and my own muscle power, such as it is -
it's the only tool necessary for the tedious job of compacting as much gravel as possible
into every size imaginable sodden pothole.
Old-timers would advise me to do this patch job in the dry season
but I've found that after baling a bit of the standing water, those mushy spots are perfect for
accepting a new [repaired] stoney base.
And when they do dry, they're tough as cement.



So I'm out there, working away .... tamping, tamping, tamping,
emptying one gravel bucket, two gravel buckets, leveling, tamping, tamping, tamping,
and my mind wanders off with the quote
and it wanders over to recent thoughts I've had in relation to artist friends who
somehow feel like their creative work isn't good enough; then over to my pal, a fellow dog owner,
whose goal to compete in Agility is being stymied by not feeling good enough; then
to a very sweet gal I know who wouldn't come join in on volunteer wreath-making this season
because she was certain she couldn't make them as pretty as the rest.
Even though she was sorely desirous of camaraderie, she wouldn't come.

My neighbor is embarrassed about her beat up car.
One of my dear ones is so sure she won't measure up she's decided she won't even risk
applying for the job she so desperately wants - no words of encouragement can budge her.
One friend is so jealous of another she's stopped speaking to her altogether,
such is her perception of the other's success & good fortune in life. 

The list went on
and eventually the wondering came around to myself
so I asked self a few tough questions about how I hold my own self back.



Why  DO   so many of us rob ourselves of joy?
Because that's what we're doing when we constantly compare ourselves to others.








I lock my doors when I'm away from home for any amount of time.  I lock my car when I'm
in town and take precautions with online banking.
My doggy is secured in a safe enclosure where harm can't come to her and I
watch my back when I'm in a strange place, walking.
All these are safeguards against theft of one kind or another.
But what of the intangibles ... 
is joy of any less value?



The lowly pothole can be a splendid mirror.





December 4, 2014

Natural progression ... of sorts


We've had a long stretch of uninterrupted bone-chilling cold.
The second heat lamp in the pump house has been kept on
[ not good to risk frozen pipes with our primary water source ]
but nothing stops the back pond from freezing over;
much to the chagrin, I imagine, of the small band of buffleheads
that paddled around in sweet abandon for a week prior.
Wonder where they've gone off to now?


The ice crystals criss-cross in a beautifully random manner.

Knitting seems to be primarily a winter habit for me ... dunno why.  
It's a soothing activity in the long hours of darkness.  I'm not much good at it
[ close inspection would reveal many wabi-sabi mistakes ] but I enjoy my time with it nonetheless.
The season has arrived, for this bit of lacy indigo recently came off the needles


and this green scarf-lette jumped on next.
Fell in love with this nubby yarn ... a blend of 70% silk 30% cotton
Very light ... shall come in handy on my summer travels when an 
evening breeze next to some bonny shore
has me reaching for an extra pinch of warmth.


Had to order an especially long pair of circular needles for this one
as my longest edge will be 52 inches.
Whoever invented the circulars should be awarded a Nobel prize,
don't you think?

So, late yesterday a pleasant walk with the dogs took us round the far back side
of the pond where we hadn't ventured in quite some time.  There are two
"wrapped trees" back there and it's been my practice to check up on them occasionally,
see how the cloth is faring ....

oh my
what a surprise
to discover the downed willow was missing its wrap!
And not only was the the cloth gone, but
the tree had been severely gouged by wandering deer
who'd used it for a scratching post


If you've been visiting here for awhile you may remember its earlier days ...
Here's the photo I posted four years ago showing the fresh wrap
[ notice the willow hadn't grown any lateral shoots yet ]

~ newly wrapped, September, 2010 ~

This piece of old cutwork cotton was from a tablecloth
I found at the thrift store.  So pristine, so   WHITE    back then ...

Then, just two years ago this is how it looked, greening up nicely from the lichen
and lord knows what else.

~ January, 2012 ~


~ May, 2013 ~

By spring of last year, the top portion had slipped some although the binding cloths
were still holding fast.  I contemplated removing it at this point but my curiosity 
won out and I decided to wait some more.
At that time, I was the last holdout amongst the members who'd
joined 'wrapt, tied and marked by nature' 
[ the blog has since been removed by its owner so I'm unable to provide the link to all the stories ]
... an interesting group project which involved about 8 of us from 
different areas of the world who wrapped cloth around parts of trees, 
leaving them for a period of  six months or more
in order to see what marks Mother Nature might provide.
We then recorded our results on the group blog, exchanged ideas, encouragement, etc.,
great fun overall.
Other climates produced very different results and
since I saw zero change after six months,
I decided to just keep going.

I wish I'd copied my original posts from the group blog
where I described in great detail the varieties of trees and the types of 
cloth I used for each.  Alas, all is not lost for I still have all the photographs spanning
the years, if not my written words.


But back to the fallen willow ....


After rooting around in the leafy detritus piled underneath,
lo and behold I found a scrap - ONE scrap of the original tablecloth !
I had visions of local deer galavanting about the woods with cutwork
dangling from their antlers -- what a sight that would be --
for what other conclusion was there than they'd scratched all
the rest away?


It's barely holding together.  Quite a fragile delicate thing now.
Once it's dried I'll carefully lay it out flat, assess what's really become of it
and make a decision about what's to follow.

First it was found,
then it was dyed ...
I may already know what comes next.




November 25, 2014

Branches


just some serendipity this morn between
tree photos from the editing lightbox
and penetrating verse found in the inbox ...



chess anyone?

I'm imagining someone bent over a fresh board, poised for footsteps.  Despite
an early winter draft snaking upstairs, despite the almost-dinner hour and the too-small
likelihood of a passerby plucky enough to take the plunge, they are listening and patient,
ready for any stranger who might sit down.  Such sturdy optimism.  The invitation of it all.

I wonder if, at the heart of it, we forget to say exactly what we're looking for, anxious
that the details will cloister and confine, keep us from the thing we want.  The sign I read, 
narrowed as it was, stood beside an open door, and no matter what was next, there was,
at least, the certain knowledge it would include the pieces for a game to be played.

What little flag could I hold out?  What batch of words would say it best?
What would I ask if asking were the only branch I'd need to build my nest?


~ Maya Stein


: : :

"10-Line Tuesday" poetry
by Maya Stein ... a backlog can be viewed   here