Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Sun Went Down? I Missed It!

Busy day. Much going on at every front. Matt to doctor's, stress after. Family with headaches. Focus was narrow, depth of field even more so. My energy good, but feeling "heavy". Made art of several types today. More tomorrow! I didn't even take the time to notice the sun go down. I wonder if it was an aesthetic sunset? Posting a picture of yesterday's "downing of the sun", I took the time for that one.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Foggy Morning Tuneup

Actually, the fog was from yesterday morning and today has a beautiful sunrise shining on the greening fairways of the Blink Bonnie Golf Course across the bay (sorry, no picture, but I'll get to that in a moment) but it is meaningful today. I forgot to set my alarm. I've had a few nights of sleep deprivation and last night my body was in sleep mode before my head even hit the pillow. No time for workout this morning and this will be brief, but the coffee does no where near as well clearing my head as a good cardiovascular session.

As I said, a bit pressed for time this morning, and am working on project sheet for multiple self portraits for my digital class. So, I'm a bit foggy to start the day today. Wind was roaring late yesterday!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

One Wave at a Time

Wow! Things come at us in sequence of sorts, they are like waves of attention, waves of tasks, or waves of emotion to name only a very few of the total possible. Today was a good day. After a slow start a calming and sequential approach took over my thinking, and the blog post this morning got me aligned toward accomplishment. It seemed to me (and that's what's important isn't it - the perception) that I got so much accomplished today, from my first arrival at school to the last few minutes as I shut down the computer lab. I know it is all about attitude and how one develops an attitude, but there is an intangible or two involved, and recognizing them is important.
Connections to others can also come in waves, when you "click" and feel like your communication techniques really work and people understand and respond. This happens in waves (cycles). and it seemed to me today that as a teacher it works with colleagues and students alike. I guess it is important to treasure these kinds of days, but the discoveries of how and why and watching for the "good waves" is like learning to fish to feed yourself.

4:30 a.m. ...

... and the day begins. I wish there were about 4 more hours in each day, then I could easily pack in the "should do's" and not have anything hanging. Of course the fact is that any paper work, old mail (I never got to), or anything else in those general categories gets swept into the circular file on the last day of school. How many professions are there where you can finish up, take a couple of months vacation, and then start over again with a relatively new slate? I really am lucky that I still enjoy teaching as much as I do and the kids still enjoy me (most of them, anyway).
I am so behind in getting assessments back to students (a lot of students used the break and some family vacation time as an excuse to be late, but it is after all, family), but I do have a fairly open schedule after school this week, so hopefully will catch up before Wednesday (personal goal!). Time is my master, and I have yet to master time or its perfect use, but I am for some reason sure that it has perfect uses. I wish I could be in two places at once!

Sunday, April 26, 2009


What a beautiful day here today... I was able to spend most of it outside as there is always plenty to do, although I really wish the garden was dry enough to till up and get some stuff in as it is already almost May. I'm told that things need a good start before the weather gets hot so that they don't "bolt" (go to seed with tall stems).
I got out on the bay in the little yellow kayak and there was a pretty stiff breeze going, but she did fine and was very comfortable. I seem to always forget how much I enjoy being on the water, and in the kayak it feels almost like being one of the sea birds bobbing around on the waves.
The picture I'm posting here today is one of a huge rock that sits near the shore just up the bay a ways from our house. I've seen and touched it many times over the years, but today was struck by the character it possesses. The craggy cuts and the forms around the edges of this enormous boulder give it almost a personality, but even more than that there is a presence and attitude contained within it that is visually moving. I often see faces in its surface which come forward and then retreat, leaving me to wonder how much is my imagination and how much is the strength and character of the stone. I know it is inanimate and that any aura or feeling I get from it is only a reflection of my own energy, but it was the first thing that moved me today, and it helped me to realize how much strength there is in being grounded. I need to find grounding.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Stepping Up...

... for several reasons is becoming a new theme. I guess I'm never going to be satisfied with the status quo and it feels like I have to push myself to "raise the bar". Some of the things are simple, like a heavier workout routine and a more compete survey of my teaching practices and applications and increasing my production of artwork. Some are more subtle, like switching to heavier strings on my guitar and being more helpful and kinder around the house. Some are noticed by others and some are not, but it really doesn't matter for if it is good for those around me and good for me at the same time, then it is win-win isn't it?
I have been so scattered lately, what with the possible changes in career (I haven't made up my mind by any means) and the various frustrations I create for myself through my emotional side. If only I could just switch to logic and create control of my surroundings. Physical work, like cutting brush from the side of the driveway and making a huge burn pile for whenever the weather lets that happen, makes me tired and burns energy, but never seems to slow down my spinning mind. I was up two hours in the middle of the night last night trying to "mull things over", but I don't even really know where to start.

On a lighter note we all went down to Harrington for my grandniece's birthday and I saw a true "tailgating grill"... look closely for the actual tailgate providing support for the grill.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bike Ride!

I bought a Marin touring bike with a 19 inch frame and took it out for the first time this morning for almost an hours ride. It was much more of a workout that I usually do on my indoor recumbent, and I could really feel it in the backs of my legs and my butt (not used to the seat and positioning on it - but learned some) so it may be a step up for my workout routine over the summer. I'm thinking that I might really try to get into shape, or rather try to get really into shape. Either way, being out on the open road and moving at those varying speeds is exciting, I had forgotten over the winter how much I did enjoy riding, even on the old rough mountain bike I gave to Torrey.
City riding is the perfect thing with this bike, but distance on the highway will also work, so I'm already planning (in my mind of course) rides to Ellsworth, Winter Harbor, and all over the place. The picture above was the only stop I made, and there were these cedars lined up along the road and trimmed on the road side of them. They made a visually interesting row.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Saving a Life, No Matter How Small

Yeah, well four to be exact. I've always looked out for and I hope appreciated the little and the simple things in life, and today wasn't the first time I have rescued those less fortunate than myself. I walked up the driveway to pick up the morning paper, and I saw a small worm covered in grains of sand slowly working its way across the driveway. I immediately felt empathy for the lowly creature and found myself imagining what that circumstance might be for me to endure, covered in what would be small stones stuck to the slimy surface of my epidermis and crawling along at the slowest possible rate. I couldn't help but pick the worm up and place it safely off the road. Then I spied another and did the same thing, and then another and another.

I really felt a sense of karma unlike I have for a while, and I put a great number of things that I thought were much more important than those simple beings in their proper perspective.
I felt like I a made a difference there, and although a small one it did not matter because a difference is a difference, and change often comes from little differences accumulating. I seem to keep coming back to change, and I know I am in a state of mind that needs to understand and accept the possibilities of change, believing that change is truly a process if it is done right, and that it can take time to effect positive change, so... in my own small way, I saved some lives to day (by the way I lost some too, that were already run over by a vehicle in the driveway - and that did actually make me feel bad) and made a difference to them and to me.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day!

Rain, rain, rain... wash yourself clean as you can! Green has to be a state of mind, doesn't it? And yet we live miles from where we work, we idle cars when not moving, and even the little things that happen around the home keep us from being as green as we should... i'm sometimes guilty, I'll admit it, but I'll try harder too!

Foggy Bay Blues...

... what if I were a loon? No, really, what if? It must be kind of cool. I can imagine the struggle for survival out there for the poor birds that so often patronize the bay early in the morning, and it does make me a bit sad. The loon, though, is a "big bird", and by that I mean compared to some of the others. Yesterday morning I watched this loon for awhile (I need to make a photo blind down near the water so I can disguise myself and get closer to those waterfowl for pictures, they are gorgeous!) and he really controlled the shoreline. There were some ducks and such around, but he would fly after them and chase them away... keeping the "feeding area" (which seemed to be where the fresh water washed down in the "intermittent" stream and carried things that he could apparently eat) all to himself. He had quite a range our there and was constantly diving and preening himself (pictures).

Anyway, back to the Foggy Bay Blues, a song I have in my head that needs writing down, and its dealing with the thought process, the birds drifting in and out of the bay (mind) like thoughts that come and go and the changes in the surface , the flow, the wind... all of that stuff. The things that are back in the distance fade and then disappear, but within a short time, not like on a clear day when you can see for miles. There are a few things the fog prevents you from doing, and yet there is a sense of solitude in it, a sense of closeness. The fog is a beautiful thing, it creates a softness that is hard to replicate and it makes sound more immediate than sight. Fog suggests a calmness, an attitude that is easy and gentle, with none of the winds of force or change that so often exist on the bay. I love the fog, but it still gives me the blues...

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Day of Distress

It was a day of things just not working out. Not an oppressively dark day where many died or were maimed in sword fights or something like that, just simply a day where things didn't go well. I was working on the Caravan (needed to try a gasket for the transmission pan) and the gasket didn't do the job. Of course I over filled the transmission anyway so even if it did hold there was to much juice in it.
So another trip to Ellsworth to pick up muffler parts for the truck (as I had gotten the wrong size the first time I went in) and to order a new transmission pan for the Caravan... I know this is getting kind of convoluted sounding but that's the way it went! So, anyway, after trips for parts, getting things about set to put back together for the truck muffler (what an ordeal that was - having to braze a new bracket on the muffler - everything was rusted out) and I couldn't find the dough-nut gasket. I looked everywhere... twice. Then I found it fallen in behind the workbench, put it on and found that I had to drill the flange to put it together, another distressful event. So I finally got it together, not exhaust pipe hanging!
I'm sure that I can think of hundreds of things that would have been worse, but I'll just be glad for a fresh start tomorrow!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Two Reasons to be Happy

Well, I say two, but we both know that there are a lot more than that, are there not? For me it is sometimes the very simplest thing that brings me joy, and then there are the days I have to dig deeply into hardscrabble ground to even find a bit of the top of joy's head protruding enough to be touched by it. Melancholy today, as Torrey went back to Portland to resume the job he likes, which is most fortunate for him; to have the job he likes, that is. The good news with that is that he brought back my truck and I now can drive my little red truck. He has had it all winter as I was using the Oldsmobile (his car) to commute to work (better gas mileage and two riders to share with) the past winter. All I have to do is repair the exhaust system and check the brakes (a bit "soft" for some reason) so I can be happy with that.

The trees are budding out is my next reason to be happy, and that means I have survived another winter and I am looking at spring and summer behind it coming toward me. Again the camera has brought to my attention the parts of the world, the angles, the focus that I feel like I have overlooked or missed or maybe just not appreciated like they deserve for a long time. My art has been so much about the interior me and what I feel and sense that I have overlooked the obvious, I haven't engaged in the reality around me. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think the only way to make art is visual observation, in fact at this point in my life I'm not even a big fan of it. I think the really important things are inside of us and so even though I see the buds coming out on the branches of trees and I understand that they can be a metaphor for rebirth or coming out of a hibernation sleep, it's not the moment in time that I snapped a picture that is important. That photograph might be a perfect example of a part of a whole metamorphosis that takes place in the spring, but I'm much more interested in the whole and not in just one aspect. Hmmm, that seems clear as mud... hope you get it!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Frost and the Forest

The days are really warming up, and it feels great to have the sun warming me as I work outside. There's something about the power of the sun that moves me to better places, and I have noticed in this last year that it is as precious to me in the winter as it is in the summer.

It is also the time of year when the sun goes down that the night air can take a sharp turn to cold. I started a frost covered car early in the morning and had to capture some of the patterns created on the forms of the automobile, they were gorgeous! I had seen broad patterns before, but it was the details and lines breaking up the patterns that I found most interesting on these surfaces.

The cold nights had me thinking about the fragility of the forest and how the trees are so susceptible to nature and its extremes. I am like a tree, trying to stand rooted, clinging to the fragile existence of abstract connections all around me, and swaying, constantly swaying in the breezes of fortune from all the points of the compass. Sure, there are predominate directions that I can be certain things will move from or towards, and I do feel the winds of stress from these directions trying to topple me. The wind is created from the earth, from our planet, and my stress comes from within me... I don't have to give into it, but I have to bend with it, accept it, and do my best to manage it. My technique for coping is for me to bend, and I let the push come and let it flow around me and simply bend with it, capturing what I might need to capture to keep moving forward with life, and letting the rest slide by on its way to who knows where? Ah! I become the pragmatist extraordinary...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Morgan's Birthday!

... and all the children are home to celebrate her birthday as well as just plain visit for a while. Torrey has a couple of days off and will be here this weekend and Morgan has a short "off island" visit, which will be nice for a change. We will all stay up late (everyone is online... it's kind of weird, but it's the 30 year olds mostly) and then sleep late in the morning. Sounds like a great end to an absolutely beautiful day! The above picture is Morgan blowing out her candles with Matt and Torrey in the background.

Here's to April Break!

The winter months are over, and I think I have enjoyed them as much this year as I ever have. Rediscovering the "Art" of photography (yes, it is an art form) has been amazing for me this winter, and as I often do I have plunged headlong into it, with students reinforcing and producing some excellent work.
I am looking forward to some time at home, getting outdoors and cleaning up from the winter, igniting the burn pile, seeing Torrey and Morgan home for a bit... and more!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Ducks, the Moon and the Biker

How do I really know if things that occur within the course of the ordinary day are related beyond my slim reality? I can make connections, sure, after all I teach constructing meaning and looking for the connections between and among things on a regular basis. Things get by us, that is, we don't notice meaning and connections until after the fact or something becomes so obvious we can't miss or refute it. There are clues, some broad and some specific, but not always noticed... for instance the Eagle that appeared out front last week which also happens to be the mascot for Ellsworth High School, and I end up with an interview there tomorrow.

Can there be a connected flow, a stream of connected events and forces that takes us through each day? My students continue a flow within classes that leads to learning from one another, so they relate and share to direct this flow forward in time. I guess it is all in how you look at it, how one perceives what is around them.

The biker was riding an old (79-ish) iron head Harley, and had run out of luck with the wiring, causing the generator to kick out and the motor to run down the battery. Bruce and I stopped, and charged up his battery while we stood around and talked. A good deed at the end of a good day always works for "the flow".

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

61 Years...

... and I really don't feel it, although I don't know what it's supposed to feel like having never been here before. I'm sure that in this year of pragmatism (or is that year over, and now I need a new mantra?) which I guess, being such a creature of habit (unfortunately on so many levels) goes from school year to school year, I can find a solace in the fact that I'm still here. I love the act(s) of living, loving and learning, and each day seems to bring something new to the table, so I guess I'll continue to stomp forward. I've really had the urge lately to get into the studio and I even vacuumed it up last weekend. I have a few things on my mind that need to be exorcised and working on my art is the best way to accomplish that for me.

The inner glow... I am most usually on fire inside, my mind active and curious... and so I will continue as the days slide far too quickly into the past. It's hard to believe that there have been twenty two thousand, two hundred and eighty one of them!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Doe, a Deer

Driving along into work this morning and I happened to spot a doe in a field on the left of the road, so I stopped and captured a couple of images of her. The beauty of these creatures, the grace and elegance of movement reminds me of a dancer, each move being an expression of their delicate coexistence with humankind. I whistled at her and she nonchalantly looked up at me, perhaps wondering why I would bother to stop and what reason I could have for watching her. I let a few cars pass by and then put the camera away, and as I started to leave she immediately bolted for the woods. She had her beautiful full white tail up in the air and was bounding from side to side, again like the rhythm of a dancer bouncing back and forth to a good old rock and roll tune! A good start to the day about 6:30 this morning.

I was late in school tonight "prepping" canvases for an Art Honors project, and I just get into the rhythm of things and crank. It only took me an hour or so to prime 16 canvases that were two feet square. The kids want to do an "event" for induction to NAHS and they will work on pieces on their own first, then begin to match color and line in the afternoon (May 12th is our set date), and finally finishing up in an hour or two after school. I think we'll have music, some snack food, and a really good time!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday

A day of "celebration", I wonder if it is all about the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end. I do know that we have a beautiful world around us and that if we support one another in our endeavors we just make it that much a better place for everyone. The joy of being human and the joy of waking up still breathing does not escape me, but the negative is always trying to intrude and I feel like I must fight it off. It may be the classic battle between good and evil taken to a simplistic level, but it is there, and I think it's a fight we must fight at least to make our own surroundings real and meaningful. Viva la "positive attitude"!

Speaking of that, what a beautiful sunset out a west window last night. I was drawn to Winter Harbor today and got a couple of pictures, while swimming in melancholic nostalgia.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Injured Eagle

Funny how one might mention Native Americans and the fragility of life and then there is an injured eagle that appears in the front yard. I have no wonder that the native peoples of this land hold the American Bald Eagle in such esteem. What a noble bird! Even injured (the right wing seemed to be damaged around the metacarpus with the inner primaries and some of the secondary feathers bent or distended) it was fighting off three crows that apparently sensed it was in a weakened state. I watched it from the house, where I shot the first couple of pictures and then it flew up into a tree, damaged wing and all, to take shelter from the crows and to rest. Even the picture of the eagle in the spruce reveals its determined and noble presence. The proper authorities have been called to report the injured bird and hopefully it will survive its injuries intact. I love watching those creatures fish in the bay early mornings and late afternoons.

What a day, from the snow this morning to the eagle this afternoon, the range of living creatures and how they function together on this planet is astounding!

April Showers/Flurries

Sure, snow in Maine isn't anything new to us "natives" (and I think you really need to have some tribal blood in your background to be a real native), but the promise of spring is only a promise, as each new day of life is a gift. As I shot this photo out of my studio window I wondered about the "why" of April snow, but only briefly, before I realized that for me it is the sort of thing that keeps me alert and allows me to appreciate more all that is around me.
Snow has taken on more metaphorical meaning for me over this past winter than it ever has, and I think it is the cleanliness of the cold, something about special survival against those winter elements, about the fragility of life and more; something about living in Maine. The beautiful summers we have here are made even more so by the beautiful winters, and I think we need to experience one to appreciate the other.
Cold and what my Mom always called "raw" today, and I'm expecting rain yet again next week for my birthday. More about the meaning of rain at a later time...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Granite Resolve

So much of what is seen about us represents particles of our lives... I see symbols, metaphors and just plain old associations to what I am and how I would like to be, and as I try to interpret them I realize that these "signs" may very well be random meaningless events that have absolutely nothing to do with me. I still look for meaning in them. Without meaning, even our own interpretation of meaning, we have nothing, so I continue to try. To construct meaning for that which surrounds me and make it better is the most noble goal that I can come up with right now, but it's late, I'm really tired, I need to sleep.
The granite is resolve. Once one makes up their mind to do or go or be a particular way it is resolve that sees them through. I do not know what the next few weeks might bring, but I do know that whatever I decide to do with the direction of my professional career, it will depend on resolve in order to move forward. Wishing back and forth between two (or maybe even more) things just leads to chaos and stress. Some of us realize this better than others and do very well. I think I am in that group, a member of that tribe, but making up my own mind in my own way, regardless of those around me, is difficult. History, you know. Hard to separate from it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Moon Again

Already another month! The cycles of life are the things that seem to keep us involved, what with the changes that occur within those cycles and the connections among the elements of our lives. There is an awkwardness to change and maybe that is the reason so many fear it, but the awkwardness can be exciting, like your first kiss or the first public performance or speech. We are strange beasts surrounded every single day by beauty!
Photo taken over Flanders Bay at 4:30 a.m..

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Silence is Golden

... and change can be a good thing! Flowers are beautiful, aren't they?

Pulled in Two Directions...

I have seen this coming, and as this was designated my "pragmatic" year, I will attempt to handle situations with aplomb and logic combined. My tenure here at MDI is, oddly enough, tenuous, and I find myself looking for signs as to what direction I should take for my sanity and my family. I remember being torn about actually coming to teach here for exactly these reasons. Fate has stepped in and opened up a teaching position in a nearby city for which I am now putting my resume back together in application... I am sorely torn!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Fit to be Tie Dyed!

I am pulled all around today... a day of new classes & new students, a day of struggles and general pushing and pulling. I just finished a bunch of term grades and am really ready for bed. My professional life may be in flux, but I have seen signs of this and as this is my "year of the pragmatist" I will simply follow where the spirits take me. Peace and love.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Rising Out of a Funk

Getting to do some work, regardless of the sort or the reason or even the subject, makes me go to a better place most of the time. I really do enjoy the flexibility of working digitally and I don't miss all the clean-up time. I can make/be anything, or at least almost anything my imagination desires, so I started working on myself this afternoon, after all I am the one I have to deal with day after day and that in itself is often a challenge. I can hear the girls outside in the smoking area laughing and having a break from the everyday, and I am glad they have one another.
I am disguised... not broken, not disfigured, but disguised by myself, with the inner workings not even completely known to me and certainly not known to anyone else, except maybe those of you who read this and piece the parts together. Thanks for trying, at least!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Breakfast in Bed...

... a change, a move back to the past, the "old days" when life was not so overburdening and the people around me all felt young. Well, maybe not that young, but at least not old. I used to do this for "hunny bunny" regularly. Every morning I would get up and do my workout, go up into the kitchen, usually just put together some coffee and oatmeal (with something on the oatmeal like fruit or such) or sometimes an omelet, like this morning. We change, all of us, but for the surroundings that remain so constant we would be like the sky, every day being a different tapestry, or at least I think I would. I like having the ability to change routine and environment constantly which I can do in the freedom of my studio and my imagination. Oh, what careless lack of understanding in wasting a moment of that time and it's ability to renew.

I am making an effort to be nicer. I realize I am surrounded by a beautiful home built by my own two hands on land held for thirty years and passed on by my mother-in-law, and the ties that form over that time and this family are strong. Why shouldn't I be nice to everyone?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Reality... whose is it?

My brain sometimes doesn't seem to work as well as it used to, yet when I ask my kids about it, they say they go through the same processes... forget keys or things to do, have a great idea and not write it down, so it leaves their head. My reality seems to be theirs as well. I've come to the conclusion through hearing them that the old brain is working as well as it ever has and that it may be working better than a few of the younger ones I find myself surrounded by every day. Whew! What a relief.

Having said that, I did have a great idea for what I wanted to say today here and lost it during my workout. However, I have replaced it with the realization that I haven't done anything with digital manipulation of photos I have posted here. This is something I have knowledge of and I enjoy working with images through a variety of programs, so today's posted picture is a digital (5 minutes or less) mock-up of a photo I took yesterday while a couple of my studio (non-credit) students decided they wanted to work outside for a bit. It was a beautiful afternoon!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Life is... a pincushion, it just sits there having anything with a point stuck into it. What's my point? See what I mean. There's no self-determination, no limit to the number of "sticks", and no way to free itself of the pain of the steel shafts. Sometimes certain events in life feel like steel shafts... not always right away, because the shafts are slid in slowly, innocuously, but many times the steel shaft is plunged firmly and the hot, burning pain springs into life immediately.