oh special day

spent my big birthday in boulder. doing things i love with people i love ... 

walked around with my camera ...  

photo fun at lunch ... 

browsing one of my favorite spots in boulder, among the vietri dishes at peppercorn on pearl street. mmmmm ...

then a three-and-a-half hour dinner at the best (ambiance + food) restaurant in town ...  

with fab folks who chose tasty wine ...

and told exotic stories of their days in india and kathmandu ...  

 

they didn't sing happy birthday too loudly ... 

the gals didn't want their pictures taken, so i snapped away at the table.

a lovely day ... feels like the start of a very good year/decade! 

photoflow: handmade thank yous

i like to think i'm quite organized (in spite of my thanksgiving story). but my friend laura (not smize laura, another equally beautiful laura) is super duper organized. she works, moms, loves, runs, and makes it all look easy. up at her house one evening for dinner, i complimented her on her little dish in which she places her salt and pepper shakers. what a great idea! no pesky grains of salt and pepper left on the kitchen counter like at my house. "here," she said, reaching into a cupboard, pulling out an identical little italian plate and placing it in my hands. "i have several, and never use them." wow, gosh, gee, thanks laura!
 
as a thank you, i photographed my shakers on my little italian plate on my kitchen counter. and made it into a thank you card.
and lo and behold ... i found the absolute bestest way to thank someone for something! make a special photo, make it into a card, write "thank you" on it and send. YES!
 
i have since made many thank you cards with my own photos on the front. here's my latest thank you card from thanksgiving ... (which was kind of a snafu but wasn't really.)
people absolutely love a handmade thank you. from a specially made photograph. of the thing they gave you. or of a moment you shared together. or of a specific thing you discussed while together. it's the thought that counts. and the handmade gesture. and effort it took to actually sit down and make something. with these hands. and these eyes.
You don't take a photograph.  You ask, quietly, to borrow it. 
~Author Unknown

monday memories: latke heaven/hell

the only memory i have for you today is this from my cousin mark's rockin' latke party this weekend. 

i am seriously under the weather, my throat is on fire, my brain is underwater, and hopefully as you are reading this, i am tucked snugly into bed. 

this cold/flu may be just-what-i-get for eating too many latkes on saturday. or is that the gelt talking?! (you may have to be jewish, or know a little yiddish, to understand this!)

anyway, the finale of our RTW trip will post next monday, with any luck. the following week, i have a new series ready to continue on monday memories ...

thank you for your understanding. 

now bed. 

grounded. and lifted.

as you know, daisey and i were off to utah for thanksgiving. that is, until we weren't. 

all packed up and bundled up (daisey with her new pink sweater and down coat to brave the utah piddle breaks), we settled into one of those fancy black cars to the airport (since daisey isn't allowed on the airporter shuttle bus), well early to accommodate the tuesday-before-thanksgiving holiday crush. gliding up the swooping offramp to SFO, i reached in my wallet to pay the guy, and realized, "i don't have my driver's license!" 

now we all know we need a government-issued photo ID to fly. (i had lost my wallet, and had applied for a new license, but only had the temporary photo-less paper from the DMV). so i made a quick decision ... instead of going into the airport and spending my precious time finding out if they'd let me through security, i asked the driver if he would take us back to my house to get my passport and back again to the airport ... maybe i could still make my flight. he turned the car around and we raced home. i must've told him at least three times, "i know exactly where my passport is." his driving pleased me. he drove as i would have driven. he executed smart lane changes to make the best time possible, and we would still -- maybe -- make the flight.

this kind of thing used to send my adrenaline soaring. and i loved it. adrenaline was my fuel. happened often as a photojournalist. insanely desperately racing to get to an assignment, to a news scene, to a last minute flight ... this time, i was relatively calm, with floods of adrenaline rising through my body, followed by ebbs of the attitude: i'll make it if i make it. 

pulled up and dashed into the house to my trusty filing cabinet to the file marked: BIRTH CERTIFICATE /PASSPORT ... but no current passport (only expired ones). whaaaaat? where IS it? i looked high and low, upstairs downstairs, in all the other files, in my other filing cabinets, the clock ticking. i looked and looked, and 20 minutes into the search, i knew. i wasn't going to make this flight. i was grounded.

for a moment, that other flood rose upward in my system, the surge that brings on tears. i could feel it coming, to right up behind my eyes. i wasn't going to get to go to utah to be with my brother and my sister-in-law and my nephews for thanksgiving. my parents aren't here anymore. i was going to be ALONE for the most important holiday of the year. ALL ALONE. 

and then, as suddenly as the surge started, it diminished, ebbed. no flood here. no tears. ok. i'm not going to utah. i'm staying right here. 

told the driver what happened, paid him for all his good driving and kindness, dragged my bags back into the house, made calls cancelling catsitters, and called my brother. grounded.

the reality set in that i was home -- not in utah -- for this four-day holiday. nothing but time and space. got invited to several thanksgiving dinners. made plans to see friends. all was well.

i had heard for so long from all the great spiritual teachers of our time -- eckhart tolle, byron katie, and my teacher adyashanti -- (and jesus and buddha probably said it, too) that whenever you argue with reality, when you want something other that what is actually happening ... you create your own suffering. if i wanted to be in utah but wasn't in utah, then i would suffer, i would be sad and mad and frustrated. this time, i didn't even have to try to tame my mind. none of those thoughts came, thoughts of being a victim of the circumstances, nor did the self-critical thoughts that usually come, like "how could you be so stupid to let this happen?" i was miraculously ok with being grounded. weird. 

this whole thing is very weird, i thought. i'm usually so organized. i'm not at all flakey. there must be a reason why this is happening ... so i headed up to my meditation room and sat, asking "why am i not going to utah for thanksgiving? what is this all about?" and clearly *got* that it was about aloneness

this aloneness thing has been a real bugaboo for me. makes me incredibly sad and makes me anxious. and at times, i'll do anything to not feel that aloneness. eat too much. go to the movies in a tizzy. work till all hours of the night. just to not feel alone and lonely. my therapist says that everyone feels alone, even people in happy, stable relationships for 50 years. so it's not just about being single and living alone. huh?

wednesday i got up and went to meditate straight away. this is the best way for me to start the day, to meditate before my mind gets distracted by everything else. but i admit it happens rarely. i often get distracted the moment i open my eyes.

so. i meditated. and asked the Universe (or God, Spirit, Truth, Life, Higher Power, Christ, Buddha, Allah, Whatever-you-want-to-call-it) two things. the first thing i can't remember. the second thing i asked was: "please show me what it is i need to learn or see about aloneness." i have learned to just put the question out there, and wait for a response. so finished up. then yoga. then hopped in the car and pulled out heading to a nearby trailhead for a run. but i wasn't paying attention and hit the car parked across the street from my driveway. 

now one might think i'd really lose it here. i thought i'd lose it. this is the kind of thing that usually really spins me out, and makes that critical voice inside my head into a monster. the flood of adrenaline/crying/criticism started to rise, then just stopped, ebbed back to calm. go inside, write a note, leave it on the dashboard, and drive to the trailhead. which is exactly what i did. no drama. i hit a car. all is well. all will be repaired. that's what insurance is for. calm. 

whaaaaaat? no drama? NO CREATING MY OWN SUFFERING? ... no. i didn't even have to try. didn't have to wrangle my monkey mind. peace just came. 

the day started out perfectly with meditation/yoga/run and just sailed on all day. the car owner came to the door later, we exchanged information, she was completely chill. no drama. the whole thing was kind of surreal. 

i was a little concerned about the wednesday evening before the thanksgiving holiday. it's like a friday night on steroids. A VERY IMPORTANT EVE. and i'm often a mess on friday nights. everyone racing home to their loved ones to go have a super duper duper fun weekend. and i'm often alone. so i was trying to be careful about how i was going to spend my thanksgiving eve. 

i had planned on taking take daisey to sausalito in the late afternoon. but i waffled, didn't seem like the right place to go. couldn't make up my mind. what about muir beach? what about tiburon? what about the dog park? i actually sat down on my bathroom floor and shut my eyes, trying to get where it was we were to go, where was the right place to go? (i've been trying to live more by intuition lately, and it works when i can hear it). finally i got we were going to tiburon, and off we went. 

the waterfront in tiburon is daisey's favorite. she can romp off-leash on the lush grass with all the other little doggies. and it's beautiful for me, too, looking out over the bay towards angel island, the golden gate bridge and san francisco beyond. and it's oh so familiar, having grown up in belvedere-tiburon. 

but i had some trepidation. worried i'd be upset seeing all the families together.

it was a magnificent afternoon, clear and crisp. daisey romped. shortly along the path, i saw up ahead a big family coming toward me. multiple generations, all strolling together in a pack. a small flood rose in me, then ebbed. i saw an older gentleman in a wheelchair being pushed by his strapping grandson. more women, men and children, chitterchattering away. but when i looked in the eyes of that older gentleman, who didn't look particularly lonely, something in his eyes told me he felt alone. 

a flash of insight struck me: we are all alone. each and every one of us. no matter what our outer circumstances. no matter if we have people all around us or not. we are born alone and we die alone. and that being alone is painful and that we all carry that pain. it is part of the human condition, and thus connects us all, making us all the same. all-one. alone. and yet truly connected. 

this realization gave me deep compassion and LOVE for that gentleman. and for myself, and for that whole chitterchattering family. and for everyone who came along my path that afternoon. and for my family in utah. and for everyone i know all over the world. and for everyone, for all people, everywhere. PURE LOVE.

i walked, daisey trotted and sniffed, we chatted with folks, got a latté. all was well. 

i spent my weekend among friends ... eating, celebrating, hiking, drinking, sharing. made plans to see my brother and family here after christmas. and just relaxed.

grounded. and lifted. beyond my wildest dreams. so so thankful.

i was also reminded that i am not alone at all. if the Universe answers me that quickly and clearly, then i am never alone, because the Universe is so magically and mysteriously there, always.

PS - i still can't remember the first question i asked the Universe, but i know the answer was my hitting that car. i guess i have to ask the question again. i just hope i'm paying more attention next time! 

photoflow: handmade holiday table placecards

as per the last day's instructions in my picture fall class, i made these photo placecards for thanksgiving. 15 of 'em. and then promptly proceeded NOT to go to that thanksgiving (come back thursday to find out why ... ). so i fedexed all 15 of 'em to their rightful table. and made a few more for the thanksgiving table where i ended up. 

it's so much fun to share photography in our actual, real-time, analog lives (i can't believe i just wrote that. as in, analog life vs digital life? we live in very strange times ... ). so often in this digital age, our photos remain only on our computer screens, or buried in digital folders and drives, deep inside our machines. why not bring out those photos and share them? 

for the end of my picture summer class, i made a photo garland which is still hanging from my living room rafters. 

here are some great ideas for bringing your photos out into the light of day. and this is a great book for more of the same. and here is a photo garland you can drape on your tree! 

how do you share your photos in your life?

I think a photography class should be a requirement in all educational programs because it makes you see the world rather than just look at it. 

~Author Unknown

 


monday memories / RTW trip: the promised land

while i have my around-the-world photos out from their usual home in the garage, i think i’ll continue telling some more stories from that adventure. after the last post about egypt ... 

we took a bus from cairo -- worrying if there would be any issues entering israel from an "arab country" (no problem) -- to jerusalem. spent a few days in the old city, soaking up the ancient ambiance and the LIGHT reflecting all that white and gold colored jerusalem stone from which the entire city is made. stunning.

i love love love the church of the holy sepulchre where they say christ was crucified, buried and resurrected. the space divided into six sections for six different christian denominations. the entire ceiling adorned with ancient oil lamps and incense burners, making it easier to imagine what it might have been like 2000 years ago. dark. mysterious. holy.

arab market, old jerusalem

my other favorite thing in the old city was watching everyone scurry around on friday afternoon, running last minute errands and doing last minute doings before shabbat which paralyzes the place. no running, no errands, no doing from friday sunset til saturday sunset. everything closes. full stop. a real day of rest. the one thing open on shabbat is the wailing wall, where many and especially the orthodox converge to sway and pray. we placed little notes to god in the crevices of the rocks, along with all the other notes from people over hundreds of years. 

my friday afternoon scurry to the store before sunset ended in tears. just outside the jaffa gate to the old city, a huge man was selling postcards displayed on poles. laden with a plastic bag of groceries in each of my hands, i stopped to look at his cards ... when he reached up with both hands and touched my breasts. fucker! enraged at him and at all the men who had dared to touch me throughout our trip and throughout my life, i dropped my bags and pounded on his chest. i always thought i was the kind of girl who could throw a punch as good as the guys. NOT. i pounded away while he -- completely unfazed -- just laughed and laughed at me. aaaaaaarrrrrggggggghhhhhhh. adrenaline racing, i picked up my bags and marched away. i thought about going to the police. but i just wanted to retreat to the safety of curt and our little room. (rrrrr. this still makes me mad as hell!)

then we moved to kibbutz yahel, an amazing piece of green in the negev desert right next to jordan, for a month. 

most kibbutz employ "volunteers" ... usually young travellers who work in exchange for room and board and per diem. we worked HARD in the HOT sun -- curt picking watermelons, me packing galia melons -- made $120 per person per month and spent it all at the kibbutz store on chips, ice cream, water and beer. 

NOTE: the above photo was the security memo they gave us upon arrival at yahel. THIS IS THE LAST PHOTO i have of our RTW trip. and i'll tell you why next week. below are photos i found on the internet of yahel ... 

when we weren't working, we swam in the beautiful swimming pool and sipped in the bombshelter bar. other than that, we slept. didn't have much contact with the kibbutzim. while israelis are renowned for their exotic good looks ... they are not famous for their politesse. from my journal pages ...

the kibbutzniks treated us a hair better than they treated the arab workers. then the office ladies read my postcard on which i said just that and then they were REALLY RUDE to me.  

NOTE: 20 years later, i now know what a stupid/insipid/immature thing that was to think/say/write on a postcard. but it's what i did at the time.

but then there was also this from my journal:

in spite of everything, we did learn a bit about what kibbutz life is like, and had good times as well:

- waking up at 5am, dawn, and hearing hundreds of birds chirping away. slouching to the dining hall to find a cup, any cup, and wash it and fill it with instant coffee.

- driving the tractor to the dump, amidst all those hazy purple mountains, and the mountains of jordan, and feeling very free.

- going running around the perimeter road, inside the barbed wire, happy to be in a country again where they don't think you're totally crazy for doing such a thing, especially a woman.

-working so hard all you could do is go home, take a shower and fall asleep -- totally exhausted after a hard day's work. it actually felt GOOD some days, if our bodies weren't too sore.

- seeing bicycles left in the middle of the paths with no worry, never to be stolen.

we had committed to staying two months at yahel, but left after one. and i even had to talk curt into staying for the whole month. his work in the fields was really tough. so after our 30 days, we hopped a bus and went north to haifa, where we ate the best falafel in the world at a little sidewalk stand. which signaled our exit from the promised land. and thus we headed north via ferry to greece ... 

~~~~~

lessons learned: manual labor can be very gratifying and grounding. a weekly, real day of rest is beautiful and revitalizing. 

+++++

put on the to-do list: learn how to throw a proper punch.

photoflow: my flavor, my picture

we borrow ideas all the time. we see things, "digest" them in our body/mind system, and then they surface in a myriad of ways. usually not as explicitly or directly as this:

in my picture summer e-class, one day our "assignment" was to photograph summer fruit. i noticed a great shot in the group pool by becky, and remembered it. blueberries. that oh so cute and delectable treat. i wanted to borrow becky's idea and make a blueberry photo, too!

as summer wound down and fall arrived, berries were becoming more and more rare in the supermarket. i bought so many baskets of blueberries with the intent of photographing them. but ate them before they had a chance to pose for me! 

finally i did it. i wrangled those berries until i was blue (more like red) in the face ... oh how they roll! i went back to becky's photo to see how many she stacked. how did she get four? maybe there's a mystery toothpick inside that stack of four. otherwise, she has the patience of the gods. my blueberries were rolling and tumbling and scooting all over my counter and onto the floor. i managed three. 

but as you can see, my blueberry shot is totally different than becky's. i love the simplicity of her shot. she called it "zen blueberry." the composition so gentle and flowing. mine is more busy, but maybe that's a reflection of how i felt wrangling blueberries! 

i don't believe there is any such thing as "stealing" ideas. we get ideas from absolutely e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. we encounter. and these things -- sights, sounds, smells, tastes, experiences -- all become a part of who and how we are. our experiences form our particular "flavor." and our flavor comes back out in our photographs (and in everything else we do).

all we can say is a hearty thank you to whoever or whatever inspired us. in this case, thank you becky and thank you blueberries!

even if there is a much more direct link between seeing something and wanting to do the same, there is no such thing as same. impossible. because each one of us is unique. like snowflakes. or blueberries. 

No place is boring, if you've had a good night's sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film. 

~Robert Adams