Dave Smith’s arms, meeting The Last Supper, today, while cleaning out the new Against The Stream Nashville center on Charlotte Avenue. A couple of the guys at the table don’t seem pleased.
I went to Kentucky today, to check on my mother. I got her in the car, and got her to Walgreens to get a Flu Shot. Also got her leaves raked out to the street.
The drive is almost exactly one hour, which ironically, is the length of an average Tara Brach podcast. I listened to a good one today on the way up, and it hung with me, so i repeated it again on the way home. It usually takes me twice, for it to really sink in and hit home. This one is dated September 12th, 2012, and titled “The Freedom of Yes”.
Several highlights from this podcast:
#1: “I’m going to ask you to pick times when you go past your toleration point, and we’re going to examine some. The content of the mind is usually judgement or blame, and the mind is panicking. There’s a rigidity; we can no longer plan on how to respond best to move things toward healing. We’re in really old conditioning.”
#2: “In any moment when we’re focusing our attention on ‘You’re wrong; you should be different’, we’re arguing with Reality. In those moments we are not able to access our resourcefulness. Deep empowerment, deep access to your wisdom — not possible if you’re blaming the other person.”
#3: Poem by Kaveri Patel:
“There’s a monkey in my mind swinging on a trapeze,
reaching back to the past or leaning into the future,
never standing still.
Sometimes I want to kill that monkey, shoot it square
between the eyes so I won’t have to think anymore
or feel the pain of worry.
But today I thanked her and she jumped down
straight into my lap, trapeze still swinging
as we sat still.”
#4: “People don’t want to be bad. They don’t want to be hurtful, deep down. Everybody’s got their leg in a trap if they’re causing Suffering. If you’re struggling with food addiction, or your own anger, or your own insecurity with other people, it’s not your fault — it’s genetics, or early history. It doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to wake up from it, it just means that up until this moment, the causes and conditions are in action”.
#5: Poem by Danna Faulds, “White Dove”:
In the shared quiet, an invitation arises like a
white dove lifting from a limb and taking flight.
Come and live in truth. Take your place in the
flow of grace. Draw aside the veil you thought
would always separate your heart from love.
All you ever longed for is before you in this moment
if you dare to draw in a breath and whisper “Yes.”
Fall is in the air – at this time of the season, my living room is transformed from a Wet Plate Photo Studio, back into a living room and reading room and nesting room. Back to the fireplace; it just calls your name. Hot coffee, good books all around me, a warm fire, morning sunlight thru the front window, incense burning, warm quilts, Pandora on the stereo, and vintage lenses to take apart and reassemble. And tonight kicks off a major event in my life. Extreme gratitude today.
Made the full trip back from North Carolina tonight. If you are into Buddhism practice, or Tara Brach, this is an especially powerful one. I listened to it twice, on the drive back. The only link I could find that’s linkable is a video talk; actually I prefer just listening to the audio version from iTunes; the video is actually sorta creepy to me. You can subscribe to her podcasts for free. This one is dated September 28, 2011, titled “Causing No Harm”.
Noah Levine’s podcasts are pretty good, as well. Sometimes the audio quality is lacking. But I like that there’s a Nashville connection, to Dave Smith, here at Against The Stream Nashville.
Dropped by Gillian’s Yoga Carnival last night, in the old Whiteway Cleaners complex. It was a warm night; they had fires built in the courtyard, and it was a packed house. Henna applications, bellydancers, music, and an amazing display of strength, discipline, and commitment by Gillian, Jessica, and their friends.
I have this candle that’s not really a candle. It’s really just an incense holder. The wax is soft, and you just can jam them down in there. It’s taken on this ritualistic voodoo quality now, with all the leftover wood sticks of burned incense. It’s sitting on a piece of scrap sheetrock, that I’ve so elegantly converted into a tabletop to hold a lamp.
Last night, I went to two art openings, and I think I got up today, inspired to work with a still life.
Not sure this is really the final image, I think I’m going back up there and reshoot it. Reshot it. ASA 6400, (my new love ASA), with the 45 tilt, stitched, wide open. ASA 100, with the 45 tilt, stitched, wide open.
And then, below, a portrait of a friend of a friend’s child, today. Pretty, soft window light, with the Mamiya contraption.
A chance encounter last week at the new Turnip Truck, downtown, lead to a warm, cozy Christmas morning brunch. Spinach salad with fresh persimmons and fresh avocado, straight from Ventura, frittatas, fresh juice, cherry dessert, and tea. Will Griffin, Arunima, and Michelle Myers. Great conversation and reconnection. Couldn’t have been a better morning.
I am renovating a home. There is this one bathroom that has zero personality. All the fixtures have been pulled. We yanked the sink off the wall, and it left this beautiful pattern where the sheetrock paper got torn. And then we crammed a paper towel into the drain pipe, and walked away, about two months ago. Yesterday, I glanced down at the afternoon light and realized how much I like the scene. This morning I took a moment to document it, before the whole room gets gutted.
On Wednesday, we stopped in to see Sam, from Smiling Elephant restaurant, on 8th Avenue South. Sam is the brother of Patti Myint, who runs International Market and PM and is the Queen of Belmont. Behind the Smiling Elephant is an auto repair garage, and Sam worked on cars for years, and one day, he began to build out the front building, after hours, into a Thai restaurant.
Several months ago, I made my first visit to his new restaurant. When I walked up to the cashier counter to pay my Tab, there was a Buddha sitting on the counter, and I asked him about it. It turns out, it was not a Buddha, but a famous meditation teacher in Thailand. He told me the story of this man’s life. I told him I’d begun to practice meditation. He began to talk to me about my breath, and about his various techniques of his own meditation. People were beginning to line up behind me, eager to pay and get on their way, but Sam was not phased by this — he continued to talk to me patiently, and tell me his own story.
The next time I went in the restaurant — this time for take out — I was sitting on the little bench by the cashier counter, waiting for my food, and Sam came over to me and said, unprompted, “You know, the main thing in life is to give our bodies healthy food, and to provide for our families.” We began to talk again, about health, and meditation, and life goals. He’d look right into my eyes, his big bushy eyebrows moving above his sparkling eyes. We barely knew each other, but we talked as if we’d been friends for years.
Now, we swap books, and literature on meditation, when I go into the restaurant. I see him now and give him a big hug — I’m not sure how he feels about that, but he goes along with it. So he seemed perfect for my new little portrait series — a man who’s unique and interesting, and is contributing positive energy to those around him. His restaurant is booming, with lines out the front door every day at lunch, and soon, my bet is that he’ll have to renovate the auto garage out back, in order to accomodate all the customers, and his continued success. He’s a special man.
I’ve been intimately involved in trying to purchase this home for over a month. I’ve never purchased a Foreclosure, but if you have the patience, (and a great realtor), there are some real deals out there. This home sat vacant for three years — tied up in court with the prior owner, as the bank took it back. I don’t know the full story, but the neighbors have filled me in on its history. Built in 1930, and solid as a rock, with true 2×12 floor joists, huge windows, working pocket doors, oak floors, a stone fireplace, and more bedrooms and bathtubs than anyone would ever need. Even the floor vents for the AC and Heat are original, in an Art Nouveau style. Some of the light switches are original — push button, top and bottom. Plus a full basement, for an art workshop for me. The neighbors told me that the grass was four feet high at one point, as it sat vacant, so they took turns mowing the grass, so it didn’t turn into the Amityville Horror. But when I discovered it, it had been cleaned and somewhat brought back to life. My job now that I own it, is to remove the cheesy “renovations” that the prior owned did, and get the home back to 1930 mentality. It’s going to take a while, but I feel like I’m here to stay. It sits on a lot and a half, so there’s plenty of room to spread out, and massive crepe myrtles flanking both sides of the home. Below are some detail shots that I did this afternoon, while the pretty light was streaming in the windows. Wish me luck; it’s gone almost effortlessly so far, at least after we got it closed. The next project is to work on the huge front porch, buy some nice outdoor furniture, build a fire in the back yard, and have some friends over for dinner, to give the house some love. It needs to hear the sound of young kids running up and down the central stairwell. I’m so grateful that I was steered to this home; I think we needed each other.
Saw this “video poem” by Andrea Dorfman and Tanya Davis linked on Swiss Miss. I love her voice, and the hand-drawn graphics, and the music.
Loved this article last week in the Times, about a couple that rearranged and simplified their life. Today, I walked past this line of shoes, in my bedroom, and felt guilty. But I could make a practical case for (almost) every pair. But for the record, I do own only four plates, so maybe there’s hope for me.
So I’ve been trying to work some sense of Spirituality into my life lately, (as long as it doesn’t involve the “J” word). Can you have a “G” without having a “J”…? Anyway, some dear friends have been nudging me to try meditation, so today, during my ride, I sat at Shelby Park on one of the “meditation benches”, which, prior to today, were always just regarded as park benches. I sat there, and focused on this one rock, across the pond, and tried to stay present for (maybe) five minutes, without those crazy little movies cranking up from the past. You know the movies, right? Just something you’re wondering about, or angsting about, or preoccupied with? The goal is just to sit there quietly, for five or ten or even fifteen minutes, and watch your breath, and try to stay present, in the moment, being aware of your body.
I will say it was pretty interesting. And much harder than it sounds. I just sat there, and began to notice the sounds I was hearing: crickets in the distance; children playing; ducks quacking; the breeze through the trees; the sun on my face; a car blowing by; etc. I sat there, aware of my body, (and aware of this recent chest cold, which I hope does not accelerate). I think I lasted maybe fifteen minutes. It was a nice start. My friend advised me to do it outside, in nature; not inside the apartment. I did that, got up, rode home, a little lighter and happier. I hope it continues.
I’m leaving town tomorrow for a little adventure, so no posts for a while, but wanted to note this. I read about it today on Rachel’s blog. A story about raising apples in Japan, in a very traditional way. Check out these excellent images, but it’s also the story behind the raising of the apples that got my attention.
I’m going to risk here a bit, and venture outside the boundaries of photography, and post a couple of links. Don’t worry, hopefully by end of week, we’ll be back to photography. But everyone needs balance in their life, (especially photographers).
Here is a link to some nice meditation music from Snatam Kaur, especially the “Ra Ma Da Sa”.
And secondly, an interesting poem from Rumi.