17 April 2016

Frog’s Eggs: The Wonder Of Nature. Acts Of Creation.

Frog's Eggs - The Wonder Of Nature

Frog's Eggs – The Wonder Of Nature

One of the many things I love about my wife is her passion for nature, her never-ending wonder at it. She will stop to touch and listen to a tree, carry a newt across a busy road, carefully re-home a spider from the bathroom to a tree. "Will you kill the spider?," she asks me. "Sometimes," I say.

And so she will make sure it finds a new home. Walking in the woods today, she exclaimed in wonder at some fuzzy green matter floating by the edge of the pond. "Oh," she said, "these are frog's eggs," and she paused in the afternoon light and knelt down and watched them for five or ten minutes.

Fate rushed up to see what was going on, and Maria carefully explained to her that these were frog's eggs, please be careful. Fate stayed away from them.

I love these moment, sometimes she is self-conscious about them, not too many people care about frog's eggs, but we are both grateful to be living in nature, we never take it for granted, never stop wondering at the way in which it reveals itself.

"By the appearance of light," wrote the mystics, "the universe expanded. With the concealment of the light, the things that exist were created in all their variety. This is the secret of the act of Creation. One who understands will understand."

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Wooden Flowers (by Ed Gulley)

Wooden Flowers

Wooden Flowers

Last October, we bought some of Ed Gulley's fun wooden flowers, made out of discarded farm parts. Over the winter, the paint faded so I took this afternoon to paint them. It took me several hours – Maria could perhaps have done it in 20 minutes, but she was painting the farmhouse doors a bright fire engine red.

I agonized a bit over the colors – Ed is big on creation, not details – I liked the yellow and blue, but Maria pushed for the pink. I think it looks great. I put on one coat of primer yesterday and two coats of oil based color paint today. I am not really sure where their permanent home ought to be, but for now we picked the corner of the porch, so they can be seen from the road.

Ed will be selling his farm and folk art at the June and October Open houses (details on the events page at fullmoonfiberart.com and you can follow the wondrous world of Ed and Carol Gulley daily on their Bejosh Farm Journal.

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Red is Now Blue

Red Is Now Blue

Red Is Now Blue

I might have to change Red's name for awhile, I was painting Ed Gulley's wooden flowers and spilled some of the blue paint on Red. I think it looks kind of dashing, he seemed pleased with it.

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Community: A Family’s Path Crosses At The Round House Cafe

A Family's Path

A Family's Path

I looked up from my brunch at the Round House Cafe this morning and saw Mandy Meyer-Hill sitting at the corner table, in soft and earnest conversation with her daughters, Delaney (on the left), a sophomore at Cambridge High School and Marleigh, a senior at the high school who works at the cafe on weekends taking orders and cleaning up.

We gave Marleigh our order when we came in. Mandy and Delaney came in to eat before Delaney's performance in a play next door. Marleigh took her lunch break to join them. Scott and Lisa Carrino took a short break to come over and sit with us. We are usually at the cafe Sunday mornings, we had a lot to do today but we ended up sitting there and drinking coffee for two hours, so many friends came in.

This is an anchor in our lives. You could see and almost touch the closeness and love at the table.

Mandy's life is changing. She is a former social worker, now a healer and popular massage therapist.She is a good friend of Maria – she is one of the good witches who meet at the cafe for lunch once a week –  and also a student in my writing class. When her girls were very young, Mandy got divorced, her husband moved far away,  and she changed her plans and chose to live the good and hard life of a single mother determined to raise her children lovingly and well.

Mandy is a gifted healer. After my open  heart surgery, she came to the farmhouse every week to give me a series of massages, they were transformative, they were the beginning of my healing, I rested deeply and spiritually after them.

Mandy's office is on the second floor of the cafe, she and her daughters often interrupt their busy lives and meet there. Marleigh is leaving in September, going to attend the State University of New York at New Paltz in September, Delaney is now acting in Hubbard Hall's production of The Crucible by Arthur Miller.

Maria and I saw it Saturday night Delaney is a great screamer.

She seems to be everywhere, doing everything.

Delaney is playing one of the young and possessed girls in Salem, N.Y, who accused their elders of witchcraft and sent many to their deaths. When she was a freshman in high school, she enrolled in my writing class, she is especially charismatic and engaged with the world.

Mandy's life is going to change again, in a year or so,  and she is well aware of it. Her beloved girls will both be gone, as the children of rural life so often are, there are not a lot of opportunities for them here, and Mandy has always encouraged them to follow their bliss.

Now, perhaps, it is time for her to follow  hers. They almost seemed to be talking about that.

Seeing the light struck this very close and loving family, I went over and took a photo of them. It was, to me, an image of community, of what the cafe means to people in our small town, we are fighting hard to keep the community that has not yet been taken away from us by the new and efficient global economy.

Scott and Lisa are fighting for their cafe.

Their landlord has put it up for sale and they need to buy it or go somewhere else. Scott and Lisa relish Sundays, it is the one day they can take a few minutes to talk to people.

They put up a gofundme site two weeks ago and have raised more than $31,000 to help them buy the old bank the cafe now occupies. Their wish is to stay there. Watching Mandy, Marleigh and Delaney sitting in the cafe, in the glow of their great transition, I was reminded of just how important community is, and how much the cafe has come to embody it.

In a few minutes, Marleigh would go back to work, Delaney would get ready for the Sunday matinee next door, Mandy would go to see it for the third and not the last time.

The threads of this family and so many other families run through it.

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Monochrome Camera: Making Some History Together


Mitch Dubrowner

The above photograph was taken by photographer Mitch Dubrowner whose brilliant images were taken by cameras converted to Monochrome and made by maxmax, the company I am purchasing my new Monochrome camera from, I thought it would be valuable for you to see why I am so excited by this new form of photography and what the camera you are helping me purchase will be used for.

My digital cameras are wonderful, and I will surely keep on using them.

But they are not capable of this kind of black and white contrast,  power and detail. But it's especially exciting for me to have found a way around the very expensive system that permits only the rich and the famous to participate. I think I've found a way around that, with your help.

The Internet can be disturbing in many ways, but it has also democratized culture. For very little money, large numbers of people can now contribute to causes they believe in, artists they know. I will share the photos, as well as the process with you every step of the way. That is the deal.

It seems I – we – will be making some history with my new Canon 7D converted Monochrome camera for  black and white photography. As many of you know, I asked for help in purchasing this camera – I will share these photos with you here on the blog – and so many of you have responded. I have received more than $2,000 in Paypal payments and an unknown and untallied number of letters to my Post Office Box 205, I'll have a better idea Monday or Tuesday.

I have gone ahead and ordered the camera – which costs $3,000 – from a groundbreaking and innovative company in New Jersey called maxmax, it converts digital color cameras to black and white – Monochrome – and buys new Canon, Nikon, and Sony cameras and converts them to monochrome and then sells them. I've chosen the Canon Xnite 7D with 20 megapixels. It is about half the price of the Nikons and one fifth the cost of a new Leica.

I think it is the best choice for me now. I am familiar with Canon cameras and can use any of my lenses on the 7D. The camera should arrive her sometime during next week, I will have to figure out what else I need when I get it

I thought at first that I would try to purchase the Leica M monochrome, the only digital camera manufactured for black and white photography, but the total package would have been close to $15,000 and I just couldn't bring myself to ask for that much money. It wasn't that I didn't think I would get it from people, I was afraid that I would.

I then explored the feasibility of converting my Canon 5D, but that camera is too old for the conversion technology, and then, I wouldn't have a spare. Most digital photographers choose cameras that shoot in color, there is not a huge market for black and white.

Leica says it loses money on the Monochrome M, it does not sell many..

So I began looking for alternatives.  Susan Murray, a reader of the blog, sent me a link to maxmax and it turns out we – you and I – may be making some history. And she sent a timely link. The blog is my mother.

Maxmax is the first and only company that coverts digital cameras, there is really no other place or way to buy them or that knows how to convert digital color sensors to monochrome.

Dan LLewellyn spent the last few hours inventing a conversion process, he is self-taught and smart and determined. B &H Photo told me it was impossible, there is no such thing as a  camera that switches to monochrome. But there is. I'm planning a trip to New Jersey to meet him and see his laboratory.

Some of Lllewellyn's customers are some of best known and most successful art photographers in the country.

I am hoping I can learn from this process how to take striking black and white portraits and rural landscapes. I think I have a lot to learn, but the process is exciting to me, I want to move forward with my photography, I am eager to share it with the people who helped make it possible and with anyone else who wants to use my images.

I do not watermark or copyright my pictures, people may use them in any way they wish.

I so much appreciate your support in this. On Tuesday, I will end the campaign, whatever the final amount.

I will use the $3,000  and some more, if it comes in,  to cover the cost of accessories for this new camera. Your contributions are very helpful. My two existing cameras need some repair. If you wish to contribute to my photography and this work, you can do so via Paypal – go to "Friends And Family" and use my Paypal ID, jon@bedlamfarm.com, or send a check, if you prefer, directly to my Post Office Box, P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816. The money will be well and wisely spend.

Initially there was some controversy – mostly from outside of the blog community, from people on Facebook, but that seems to have quieted down.  I am only asking blog readers for support. And I like my friend Ed Gulley's advice. People can give a buck or two, or not. End of story.

This is the first time I have raised money exclusively from the blog, not through crowdsourcing, it was not really a gamble. It is an impressive community, you get it and you get me, and I am very grateful for that.

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