Monday, October 30, 2006

Embody peace

"It is difficult for us in the West to trust that we can achieve peace and happiness if we're not doing something active to bring it about, but embodying peace and happiness does bring it about."

- Alberto Villoldo, from The Four Insights: Wisdom, Power and Grace of the Earthkeepers

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sky pink

This is literally what the sky looked like for about 3 minutes while I was getting ready for work yesterday. Quick, grab the tripod and camera, screw the camera onto the tripod while running out the door and try not to slip on the frosty deck, throw glasses on, run down hill past electric lines, set up tripod, zoom in. It was gone 2 minutes later.

BTW, those are trees, not weeds, silhouetted, the last of the leaves hanging onto the top branches.

Speaking of pink skies, here is part of a poem called "North Woods" by
John Tranter. Read the whole (long) poem here.

The imagination babbles forever,
the kitchen light in the cabin always
glowing in the fog ahead where frail ghosts
glimmered, like a gin ad in the ancient forest
then her remedy rattles down from the shelf, the sun
spoking through the lonesome pines and she becomes
as we prayed she would - full of zip,
the sky pink and happy.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Leaves of gold

For the Laika, there is nothing more important than being true to one's word, so they're very careful about what they say to themselves and others. They believe that to utter a single negative syllable to someone is to cast a curse, and that to say something positive is to give a blessing.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Christmas in October

If you want to see it bigger, click on image

When I brought the Christmas cacti in from the porch in September the decrease in light sent them into blooming mode. So here we are two months early, blooming with the pumpkins. We might be lucky enough to have some abloom a month from now when Don's family comes for Thanksgiving (and Lesley and Peter are home - yay!).

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Looking out a window

Yes, I've been busy keeping a photo posted daily on the East Lansing blog. But that's not the only reason I haven't posted here in a few days. Just feeling pensive, you know? (The photo here is of Don in a building at University College, Cork, in Ireland in July, looking out at the quad.)

Things I'm thinking about:

Sorry, but I can't help myself.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Last harvest

Click on image to enlarge

Don gathered the last of the tomatoes and left them on the adirondack in this still life. (And he thinks he's not an artist.)
Don fries up the tastiest green tomatoes EVER. That perfect combo of tender inner sweetness with the savory, crisp crust.

We're back to a typical autumn day after the early snow last week.

Before moving to the farm in November 2003, autumn was my favorite season. But now, living out here, nature is close at hand every day of the year. I get to drive through farmland to work 5 days a week. Each day of each season is observable, touchable, changeable. Even the daily-different clouds are important in the landscape. If you ask what is my favorite season, I might just say "now."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Happy Birthday, Peter

Click on photo to enlarge

24 years ago today my son Peter was born. Happy day!
Peter, you're a man of character, talent, humor, depth, intelligence, beauty and grace. I bless the day you were born.
This 1983 photo of Peter on my back is in the Redwood Forest in California. I was 26, just two years older than he is now.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Meridian barn

The drive home from work yesterday was beautiful, with the early snow and autumn leaves still on the trees. Breathtaking contrasts. (When I pulled over to take this photo, a man in a truck passed, then backed up to see if I was all right. I held up my camera, and he apologized. Folks out in the country look out for each other.)

This barn is on the corner of Meridian Road and M-36, in Dansville. This is the actual "Michigan Meridian" but I can't find the number of degrees.

BTW, which version of this photo do you like better, color or sepia/BW? Click on photos to enlarge.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pumpkins in snow

What a difference a few days make. Last weekend we were in shirtsleeves at the cottage. Today it’s 31 degrees F (feels like 21 with the wind chill) and was snowing on the way to work. Remember, I posted about pumpkins in fog September 15 . Here is the same pumpkin stand this morning. We’ll be back into the 50s and maybe 60s next week. So it’s just brrrr for today. Until a few weeks from now.

Warmer thoughts go to Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish novelist who won the Nobel Peace Prize today. I wrote about him in one of my first posts. He was on trial this past year in Turkey for criticizing the Armenian and Kurdish massacres. The Turkish government, wanting to be accepted into the European Union, retracted its charges, since the EU believes in freedom of speech. Congratulations to him for being bold and for winning the Nobel!

Visit my new blog (yes, I have aNOther blog): EastLansingDailyPhoto.

Also, there is a new post at Paris Deconstructed.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Horseshoe Lake

Click on images to see larger views.

Thank you, Lesley, for letting me go out in your kayak! Dad/Don and I loaded it onto our little Chevy Aveo, and you can see they fit well together. Here we are at the cottage!

I did as promised and was on the lake Saturday morning before the sun rose. In fact, I was on the lake before the moon set (above).

Then the sun rose. At this moment (above) in the fog, it was a little freaky. I could hear geese honking all around and above, but I could see nothing. Nothing except the light.

Then as it rose, the sun began to dispel the fog.

I spent 2 hours and paddled around the whole lake. I was alone, except for one fishing boat, and the geese. As you see, the lake was a glass mirror the entire time.

The view below is looking at our cottage. See it up there on the hill nestled in the trees (just to the right of middle)?

I ventured out again in the kayak briefly Saturday evening. I followed this blue heron (below) around for a bit and had him "trapped" on this fallen tree. It got so dark I had to use flash. Poor guy must have wondered what I was. He finally got up the courage to fly away.

This morning, before leaving for home, it was another glorious October day, and I took shots from our cottage on the hill. I think we have the best spot on the lake. Why don't we drive the hour and a half to this place more often? I know there are some in the family who live too far away to go often and would if they lived this close.

We come every 4th of July and New Year's for family gatherings. The place is packed with people, kids laughing and splashing, speedboats and jet skis buzzing, everyone cooking at once in the narrow kitchen. It's heaven.

But it's another version of heaven to be there on a quiet autumn weekend when the geese are stopping off on their journey south, herons are fishing, and the mist sits like feathers on the lake.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Flower power: blast from the past

As an academic adviser for 1,000 English majors in my university, I'm kept busy.

Besides help with scheduling courses and advice about careers, I like to help students feel part of the department of English community.

So I started having English Teas a couple of years ago. Sometimes I invite a professor to come talk about their own experiences and ideas. Sometimes we have a specific topic. Last night we had an informal talk about applying to graduate school, with six of our newly hired professors chatting with undergraduate students. I learned a lot!

When I started the teas, Lesley, Don and I were shopping in Eastern Market in Detroit and found a vintage shop jam packed full of 1960s and '70s stuff. I bought up every mug they had of this "set," scattered around the shop. I think there are 24, plus some accessories. I keep my eye out on eBay for more. It's important that they stack, so I can store them on my shelf, under the teapots.

The students and professors enjoy drinking from these flower power mugs. I suppose they seem quite wacky for the somber halls of the English department. But that's why I like them.

Our teapots, enough to make tea for 32

My university hall

Remember my mushroom post? See?? This is one of those '60s psychedelic mushrooms I was talking about!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Getting away

Click on image to enlarge.

unknown kayakers on the 4th of July weekend at "our" lake

Don and I are getting away for the weekend tomorrow after work, heading for my family's cottage. It's about an hour and a half drive away, with a sweet little lake. Lesley says I can borrow her kayak! That will be a first for me, though I've been in many canoes.

The plan is to be on the lake when the sun comes up Saturday. Still water, mist, swans, herons (at least I hope some are left and haven't all migrated).

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My photoblog

Click on photos to view larger size. Or better yet, visit my photoblog.

Last month I started experimenting with a photoblog. I like having the larger format at that site. (If you visit that site, please leave honest feedback about the photographs. Whether you know much about photography or not, you know how a picture makes you feel.)

I keep dreaming and drooling over Canon EOS Digital SLR cameras. The pricetag is enormous, so it won't happen any time soon. Maybe a used one someday.

For now my Olympus 500UZ will have to do. I bought it for work (mostly for the annual trips to Ireland) without doing any research. I didn't know I'd get bitten by the photography bug. I could have spent a couple hundred dollars more and gotten a decent Canon model (though not the ones I really want). When you scan photographs at 100% or 200% (on photoshop, for instance) there are "artifacts" and lots of digital noise at times.

So my challenge is to a) study photography, b) learn to take the best pictures I can with this camera, and c) experiment until I find my own personal eye. (I guess that's what you call it, the way a poet has a voice.)
Learning to live with what is.

I post-processed this photo for graininess in the petals. I like how the flower's center remains clear and focused in spite of the almost posterized graininess of the petals.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Autumn rust

Click on photos to enlarge.

Don and I found rusted pieces of farm equipment in corners of the barn hanging from nails here and there. Old horseshoes, a gear, hooks of various sizes and shapes.

The purpose is to make a windchime. The JorgDotOrg photo hunt starting tomorrow is "windchime," and we don't have one. So I started brainstorming what I could make one from.

I wrote a poem about it for my poetry group tonight:

Autumn sounds

Small pieces of
rusted farm metal
that once lay nested in corners
or hung on nails
these hundred years

gears and rings,
hooks that look like hairpins
or the number six, discarded
horseshoes, one
with three nails fused in the holes

the color of the fallen
leaves softly curled and pinned
beneath them on the deck

where they are
lined up to be assembled
for a new purpose

a windchime

the dong, pling and thrum
that will continue the vibrations
the horse’s stomp, the plow’s
jab, the fluid swing
of rope and pulley,
and the clutch and release
of the farmer’s thick fingers
that labored
to his blood’s beat.

- Ruth M.