Monday, October 27, 2008

The Plot Thickens

What is it I want to accomplish? Perhaps the use of the word accomplish is too broad, too self-defining.

I'm immersed in photography. I'm looking through the viewfinder and seeking something other than what is in front of me. Is there an angle– perhaps innovative? If I only focus on one aspect will I find an artful way of looking at a brick?

Is there something amiss--I don't want to drag along extra weight? I don't want to carry a lens for every possibility, a tripod for those slow exposures. I want my camera to float in my hands.

That's how I feel about art. I've reduced my materials to pen and ink and whatever fits into a small zippered pouch. I do own a miniature watercolor set, but that means that I must take a container for water and some paper to wipe off brushes. Simplicity goes out the window.

There's my desktop computer which now reminds me of a behemoth resting on my desk waiting for the on button. My laptop remains in the closet and comes out when I'm sitting in my blue Lazy Boy with my maple kidney shaped lap desk. Taking the laptop with me when I go to a coffee shop is burdensome. It has a shoulder bag case with pockets for its electric umbilical cord. That's in case I run out of battery power. Since the battery is old it tends to wind itself down to the warning stage fairly quickly. Then there's the seeking out of an outlet. Often another laptop toting soul is plugged into the only accessible outlet.

So I've gone small and truly portable. I own a Palm TX and a Bluetooth keyboard, which works flawlessly. A 2G media card, a dictionary on a media card, Documents on the Go--all packed into a drawstring black ZING bag. And I'm truly portable and lightweight.

Did I mention the fact that I have piles of books and want to take out more? There's so many to read.

I've wanted to write a book using the graphic novel approach and purchased some water color pencils, but haven't gotten around to the first page because I was sidetracked by another project.

That's the rub. Being sidetracked. Every time an idea floats across my landscape I'm enraptured. Captured by the novel possibility.

Perhaps I'll start the art project later after I finish reading a William Gay novel and the new graphic novel based on real events after 9/11.

And then there's the medieval mystery series to go with the medieval Judaism I'm studying as part of a course.

Perhaps I'll start the graphic novel about my wanderings. It will be a peripatetic journey that doesn't need to know a destination. It will snake its way through my landscape--

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What is Holy Space?

What is a holy place? —Not one ascribed to be holy by the authorities. Not a visit to a holy shrine designated as such by the pronouncement of the holy men who attributed grand miracles and verifiable miracles to the saintly life of and fill in the name. It’s not my type of holy and that does not mean that I denigrate the possibility of miraculous events attributed to the fleshy life of the deceased saint. I find those places cloying and claustrophobic.

Once when in Florence I walked up a hill and chanced upon the singing of Gregorian plainchant. I couldn't see the singers but knew that when the music left the restraint of the dark stone church walls and entered the daylight, it gained strength from the openness and from the sight of the Arno River below. I recall sitting on a dry stacked stone wall and letting the notes envelope me. They filled all the space -- between the stones, settling on the grass, the dirt path, and then wandering through the openness before ascending toward the late afternoon sun. The air stood still and with a deep breath inhaled the voices and shook with a fullness --sated.

For moments my world lay on those tones. Nothing existed outside the music. I touched the holy or the holy touched me.

Friday, October 10, 2008


It’s hard to watch summer slip away, yet for a number of days autumn clings to a spell of warm weather and a sun that still warms. I love sitting in the sun— on the patio of my local Starbucks— drinking an iced coffee, and reading. Time stops for me as I look into my book bag and choose what to read. Should I while away my time with Sharan Newman’s medieval mystery The Wandering Arm or Sherwin Nuland’s biography of Maimonides or perhaps Gilead by Marilyn Robinson?

The fifteen-day weather report promises a spell of sunny days. I do know that accuracy so far ahead is dicey, but who cares. The possibilities of stemming the inevitable downslide into colder temperatures are held at bay.

Why not enjoy the colours? Oranges and yellows remind me of canyon country. This year we didn’t get out to Utah’s canyon country and I missed the rush of colour. I love hiking in Bryce Canyon where I feel as if I am descending into the
orange tones. I am subsumed by the shades of red.

Perhaps I will allow myself to settle into autumn colours.