Saturday, May 31, 2014

Day 27: Another Day That Changed My Life

Great Fun: Playing with a large macro lens at Cheekwood.

Wise Advice: Our instructor said, "It's best to learn to shoot with what you have. Experiment."

Delicious Irony: In a macro workshop, my best shot was the giant preying mantis.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 26: Another Day That Changed My Life

There is strange comfort sleeping in my friends' home where love and loss commingle, one coming into focus, then another, like the lace across my bedroom window, while downstairs one cares for the other, and upstairs I think on both.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day 25: Another Day That Changed My Life

Restlessness, I understand: gray days, winter's cold, the isolation. But boredom? How can anyone with eyes and feet be bored? The smallest space offers such surprising riches. Witness: the nymph crowd shining like Christmas tree balls on a spiky stem.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day 24: Another Day That Changed My Life

632 bad photos, but then who's counting? I am. Today I remembered something I used to tell students: If you're not frustrated, you're not learning. I'm frustrated. But just what is it I'm learning? At least the bluets were plentiful.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Day 23: Another Day That Changed My Life

Waking naturally today as I did in childhood, I slept a good sleep, a drug-free sleep for the first time in over a week (toothache), and soundly.

Now if only I could sleep with the abandon my cats enjoy.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Day 22: Another Day That Changed My Life

Almost any Saturday in my childhood: one brother painting in oil; one brother working on a motorcycle; Mother sewing vestments; Daddy on the lathe or table saw or drill; me playing the piano -- all of us tinkering. 

Creating things matters.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Day 21: Another Day That Changed My Life

Once I thought experts knew everything about their subject. When I earned a Ph.D., I learned the limits of exertise. Today, an expert confirmed what I already thought: "Female bluet. Unfortunately, there are a lot of look-alikes." I laughed.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Day 20: Another Day That Changed My Life

The woman behind the counter asked, "What're you doing this morning? Taking pictures?"

"Yes. Everyday," I answered.

And could have said because being alone, outside, with flowers and bugs makes me feel whole, like a child again, alive right now.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Day 19: Another Day That Changed My Life

March 30, 1962, The Twilight Zone's "Little People": an astronaut declares himself "god" to ant-sized people. Another ship lands; other astronauts disembark. One accidentally crushes the false god, himself ant-sized. Worlds within worlds writ large, a lifelong passion.

Look carefully. See the teeny-weeny amber-colored bug?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Day 18: Another Day That Changed My Life

BBs sparkled like tinsel in creek silt. I pulled the trigger, hit the minnow behind the eye. Great shot! I thought; Forgive me! I thought. Daily I see that tiny fish in creatures I photograph and save from others' webs.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 17: Another Day That Changed My Life

That day, sitting on my deck, I slapped my forehead, said aloud, "That's why!" because I realized what made me want to live in Sewanee: the landscape of childhood -- water, mountain, forest. Looking for one thing (escape), finding another (home).

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 16 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

What prayer is to a believer, coloring was to me as a child. The holy pages, crayons consecrated in a pristine box, scent of wax nearly censer-borne: I lost myself to patterns and pattern-making. Concentration, experimentation, repetition: flow.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Day 15 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

Today's prescription for toothache: antibiotic, hydrocodone, sun, Lake Cheston, 13 Odonate species, three snakes of one kind, one camera, one zoom lens, one tripod, 500+ (mostly bad) photographs. Result: less pain, more fun. Prognosis: further study and more practice required.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day 14 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

Second Jazz Fest: a voice commanded; I followed. Sister Gertrude beat the tambourine, sang, preached. I joined her congregation. Third fest, I bought my first painting. Every morning it sings "the fields are ripe" and I wake to her call.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Day 13 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

Fridays my elderly friend offers ice cream; I bring the movie, more often than not foreign. What's new? she asks before; what was it about? she now asks after. Behind her, Chinese figures parade, swirling celebration in the still room.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Day 12 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

I don't know when (but I was little) I learned to focus, unfocus, focus, unfocus my eyes, which I did constantly to enjoy color and shape, swoop and line.

No one reminded me I'd lose the magic with cataracts removed.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Day 11 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

When the surgeon unwrapped the dressing below my knee, the nurse gaped. Disgust scudded across her face. "Robley," the doctor said, "it's your leg now; you must look." But others won't. Mini-skirts and shorts, out; long skirts and pants in.

twelve years earlier

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Day 10 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

Opening J's garden gate, I spotted the telltale flight, stooped, shot a Violet Dancer eating lunch. Later pointing to a Turquoise Bluet, I asked, "See it?" "Search image," J said, "you've got it," naming what I do: see bugs everywhere.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Day 9 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

The ferris wheel stopped, our car up top. My chaperone pushed and pulled the safety bar, laughing. We rocked, and I wailed. I thought I'm going to die. Six decades later, I'm still here, without having taken another carnival ride.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Day 8 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

From my first 64-color box, I pulled each crayon, smelled it, stroked the slickery tip, read the names -- thistle, orchid, periwinkle, cornflower, Prussian blue, Indian red, melon, bittersweet, mahogany -- a garden of color I still cultivate with my camera.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Day 7 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

I opened the door to flowers and behind them smiling faces. "We're your neighbors across the street. Come to supper tonight!" I did and by the time I left (late) I was -- Yes Jesus! as he likes to say -- fambly.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Day 6 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

In the pool's shallow end, I sang "Itsy-bitsy Spider" over and over and over again, thumb to pinkie over and over and over again, as Mother did bathing me. I could sing. I had manual dexterity. I could entertain myself.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Day 5 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

After snow and spring, the unkempt backyard grew into a strawberry patch. So many. I ate, the neighbors ate, and my work colleagues ate. Until I bit into that first plump berry, I had no idea Denver could be delicious.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Day 4 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

"This is for you," Grandmother said; "the book just came out, so I saved the newspaper clipping, too." Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: a sensory meditation. A friend who knows Dillard said, "She reminds me of you." 

If only.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Day 3 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

"I feel like hell," Mother said, not so much to me as to darkness, in the room and inside her radiated self. The one complaint I heard in her suffering gave me permission to feel like hell when she died.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Day 2 of 40: Another Day That Changed My Life

Three hours among Odonates of thirteen species, humans of one (Sewanee-Soon-to-Be-Alums), and one discovery: I cannot hand-hold a 200mm telephoto. Notes to self: put tripod in car; don't sweat missed opportunities; enjoy trying. Till tomorrow.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Day 1 of 40

My friend Julie alerted me to this article and her practice of writing 40 days of words celebrating "The Day My Life Changed." Thus, it begins.

"There is no room in the inn." Thus began my first passion: acting. Age 11, Nativity pageant, church. Three theater degrees later, people still listen, though some say I am too dramatic: I'll take it. The first thing I did well.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Just 44 Steps

one way between beach bench and garbage can (see red arrow).

Five beer cans, three bottle rocket packages, eight bottle rocket sticks and three trips for a total of 308 steps there and back.

I know the number because I counted as I cleared someone else's junk before two young girls and their parents came to swim.

Sometimes I pick up the trash, but I confess that even I don't remove everything. Yesterday, for example, I left the used condom in place at the edge of the parking lot.

Happily, the Odonates don't seem to mind (even if I do).

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Another Day of Messes

Even lying flat out across the path, head uphill and feet down toward the lake, I could not for the life of me get the shot I wanted.

But thanks to Peter Elbow's excellent advice (This is awful, but I like it), about which I've written previously, I love the shots anyway.

Imagine me squinting. (You might want to do the same!)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Somethin's Cookin'

Tea at 6 AM. A zipping sound. The cats. With a paper ball. Or so I thought.

Tea at 7:50 am. Zapping joined by a tell-tale burning smell. I followed my nose to the socket where the phone plugs. Warm to the touch, hot even. I pulled out, flipped the breakers.

Forty-five minutes late, the electrician replaced this with a new one.

"It could have been happening all night," I said.

"It could," he said.

"Is this the kind of thing that burns a house down?"

"No," he said. "It'd burn itself out and trip the breaker."

An electric start to the day.

A walk around the lake. A dragonfly nymph emerged from the water; a spider attacked it almost immediately. The dragonfly fought to climb the grass stem anyway, a hopeless struggle to reach its final stage of life. A hand's width to the right, a Lancet Clubtail warmed on a leaf; an arm's length to the left, a young Fragile Forktail did the same. I watched all three in morning light, flooding the scene, Act I and III with no II.

Underneath the metal edge of the bridge, a dragonfly held and spun in the wind.

"What are you looking at?" one of the walkers asked.

"Here, look where I'm pointing," I said, and walked the few feet further on. "See the dragonfly?"

The other walker said, "Wow," but the first looked straight down toward the water instead of underneath.

"Move your hand gently," I said, "so you don't touch the dragonfly. Then look under."

"Oh! Now I see it! Cool!"

They smiled and thanked me before walking on.

Before locking the shop, I thought I'd take a couple more shots. And finally, something clicked. A macro that works.

As I used to tell students about writing, "First make a mess. Then see what you can do with it." That's what I did all day today: 300+ messes I made (and one near-miss mess electricity made) and a couple of shots worth saving.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma

The first time a couple of years ago that I saw a White Slant-line Moth tucked into a Lady's Slipper, I thought it was my great good luck.

Now I know better. (Google Lady's Slipper and White Slant-lined Moth. I got 148,000 hits!)

This is the third I've seen since the slippers bloomed.  And so far there's no answer as to what she's (or he's) doing there.

Stay tuned!