12 May 2017

Portrait: People In My Life. Joe, Working On The New Round House Cafe

People In My Life

I've been wanting to do a portrait of Joe, a carpenter working on the new Round House Cafe ever since I saw his beard, which is more than a generation old. Joe looks like a Bluegrass Fiddler, but he is a skilled carpenter. The Round House crew and many volunteers are scrambling to renovate their beautiful new space in Hubbard Hall.

The new cafe isn't ready yet, they expect to install their new kitchen next week. Early in the week, they hope to have a "soft" opening – coffee, muffins, maybe some sandwiches. His beard is outstanding.

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Red’s Up And Down Day

Red's Up And Down Day

Red continues to struggle with a fever and loss of appetite as we go into the second week of his illness. He was diagnosed Thursday with four separate tick-borne infections, and so far, antibiotics have not brought his stubborn fever down. He also is eating very little and very sporadically.

Ultrasound examinations found no evidence of tumors or growths or cancer.

Red seems more alert and active than before, but Dr. Fariello is still worried about the fever and wants to see it come down.  Me too.

He also can't eat like this for too much longer without doing himself some harm, especially as he fights off a severe infection. Fevers help the body immune system defend itself, but it is also  unhealthy if they continue for too long, and Red's is close to two weeks old.

So we'll see what happens over the weekend. We have another meeting Monday to plan other options if the fever doesn't break and some appetite returns. I'm pleased that he has improved otherwise, he moves more fluidly and energetically and seems more aware. We did get a hot dog from a nearby stand into him at lunch today.

One way or another, this is going to be a long haul, no easy fixes or miraculous rebounds on the horizon. This is only his second day on doxycycline, and if it's going to work, that ought to be clear by Saturday or Sunday. If the fever doesn't break soon, we will explore some other possibilities.

So it was an up and down day. I'm disappointed his fever didn't come down, and I'm going to try some different nutritional options tomorrow. We'll keep at it, I wanted to offer an update for those many people rooting for him. I am weary this week, I can only imagine how he feels.

For the first time  ever, Red tried to hide behind me when we went into the vet clinic this afternoon. He never tried to hide there before.

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Letting Go, Part Two: One Of Life’s Hardest Lessons.


The Ties That Bind Portrait, Maria

Letting go is one of life's most difficult lessons, at least for me, and it is also one of the most difficult things for people to accept in another person.

I was reminded of this this morning when I posted about the loss of six months worth of my photographs yesterday,  about the fact that I was comfortable letting go of them, I didn't really want or need to get them back. Rather than panic and rush to recover them I said goodbye and went outside to take some new pictures.

This, as I learned, is a hard thing for some people to accept.

Online and off, I was instantly flooded with advice and ideas about reclaiming the photographs – go to the recycle, bin, check back up, didn't I have the Cloud?, have the hard drive examined and searched? There was that old feeling of panic, of scrambling, of getting another program, another device, of making life even more complicated.

One person suggested that old people learn to let go out of necessity, yet I don't think this had anything to do with age, young people are more burdened than anyone in our culture, and many are quite deft at letting go, they have no choice. Online, a number of people cheered on the idea of letting go, but my inbox quickly filled up with tech support, as it often does with vet support when an animal is sick.

We have this noble instinct to help, but what does help really mean in this case? We are manipulated into thinking we need so many things, and then we need to spend even more money to protect them at all costs? Help is also listening and understanding, which many people did.

But what is the real consequence of losing so many photographs? Who will suffer for it? Do I really need to save 50,000 pictures no one is likely to need or see (think of how many new photos there will be in the universe in just a few years) just so I can buy some more drives from Apple?

We have this reflex in our world that it is possible to live forever, that dogs will never die, and that we can save everything, at all costs, by any means. But this feels like fear and  habit to me more than reason. This is what we are taught to think. This is what they need us to think.

I often panicked about saving my photos, but yesterday, I didn't. Something had changed inside of me, I feel it's time to let that go, and not just the pictures. It is a good lesson in life. There are so many things I need to let go of, the Dalai Lama has written letting go is essential to a spiritual life.

Letting go is essential to my mental and spiritual health, letting go of photos, of old papers and books, of grudges and resentments, feuds and hurts, jealousies and laments. They are all weights to bear, too heavy for me. I am eager to let go of those things. I am not angry at my parents, or my teachers, or the bosses I disliked, or the dreams that were shattered. Enough, enough, enough.

I am staggering under the din and pressure of all things I am told I need. I want to be lighter, freer.

I was struck that is was almost impossible for some people to conceive that I was comfortable letting go of the photographs,  even relieved. I loved many of them, but they are the past, and I live in the now. I can always take more photographs. I already have, and there are thousands still hanging around in folders and drives.

Perhaps this is also about simplicity.

Our lives are getting so complex, it is hard to think or feel sometimes. I feel I am constantly being manipulated into buying and needing things I don't really want or need. If you want to save your photos, as it happens, you need expensive drives. You may need monthly payments to the Cloud. More devices to maintain, pay for, remember, buy plugs and cables for, more software and passwords.

I love my photos, I am happy to thank them and say goodbye. That is not the same as needing them.

In my first piece, I think I failed to set forth the deeper rational for letting things go. People seemed to take pity on me, to rush to help with what they saw as a technical problem in need of advice. People are good that way.  But it isn't a technical problem, I know all too well how to save and store stuff. And it has become an automatic, rather than thoughtful process.

It is a spiritual problem, a life problem. For my sake as well as our Mother, the Earth, I need to think about letting go, about what it is I truly need as opposed to what it is corporations and well-meaning people think I need and tell me I need and have to buy. I'm working on it.

The letting go of the photographs was a big step forward for me.

I am happy about it, this is a turning point for me. The Cloud cannot help me.

As someone who has been writing online for more than three decades, I am surprised that people think I don't know about backing things up, or about the Cloud.  I do, and I also know that all of those things failed yesterday, as they often do.

We live in a world where there are not easy and perfect solutions to problems, sometimes we just have to accept life and let go.

Posted in General

The Day I Lost My Photographs: Living In The World. Surprise Ending.


Living In The World

I was at my computer, uploading some new photos I had taken of Red at the veterinary clinic, I was distracted and tired,I clicked on the wrong button on my photo storing and editing program, and a folder named Spring of 2017 disappeared for good.

There were four or five thousand photographs there, all from the the last six months when I began this folder, early in the winter of 2017, I wanted it to cover photos from then to summer. It is good, photographs I  loved, of Maria, the woods, the farm, the dogs, the Mansion, the refugee kids, portraits, shots of Kelly – truthfully, I don't care to think about it.

Every photograph I take is a piece of my heart and soul. They are gone and not recoverable, sent out into the ether where they may live on in light and energy.

We all have stories like this, these very imperfect but miraculous machines are only as good as the people operating them, when all is said and done. It was my fault, not the computer's. I wasn't paying attention, and six or seven thousand photos, a priceless catalogue of my life, so much work and care, all gone.

I felt a flutter in my heart. I took a deep breath.

I like to say that everything is a gift, and you know what? It is. I like to say I am evolving and learning what it important in life. And you know what, I am?  I like to believe that I am moving closer towards a true spiritual life, which I have always sought.

And how interesting, the loss of my photos have convinced me that this may be true. Hard work and a willful mind can pay off.

After I realized what I had done, I stopped and got up and walked around my study. Okay, I said, I will not spend a single minute complaining about this, whining about it, seeking sympathy or beating myself up for making this silly error. Or looking back.

I know where the delete button is, I was just somewhere else in my head, I imagine with Red at that moment.

Life comes with suffering and loss, and the thing about photographs is you can always take a new one, every day. I already have. Lament is a poison that corrodes the spirit. I won't join the victim brigades who populate social media. People suffer so much worse than that, every minute of every day.

This loss forces me to look ahead, not back, to think of the present and the future, not the past. It challenges me to be creative and take some new photographs that are good. I believe nostalgia is a trap, a mudhole it is easy fall into, hard to climb out of. The past is not always better than the future and my past is especially sadder than the present or, I hope, my future. It is cleansing and liberating to let go.

Perhaps I ought to delete all of the 40,000 photos sitting in hard drives that will never be seen. They are a weight on me.

The world around me is embracing complaint and recrimination, whining and lament. I want to go the other way.

Maria came into the house and I turned to her and said that I just deleted the last six months of my photographs, not all of them but most of them, some of my best pictures."

"Oh, God," she said, "that is awful!"

But you know what?, I answered. It wasn't really that awful. I take photos every day, and I never like to look backwards in my life, or in my photographs. They are about now, about the moment. I will just start taking some new ones, and I went outside and took some photos of the pasture, the barns, the cats and Red.

I surprised myself a bit, not only because i said that, but because I felt it. For so much of my life, I would have yowled and whined and seethed about something like that, but yesterday I didn't even feel that. I am not yet where I wish to be as a human being, but those photos make me feel that I am on the way. I am hopeful.

I already have 75 photos in my new "Spring 2017." Life is so short, every day is precious. Every day is a choice for me, how do I wish to live today? What do I wish to accomplished? How can I do some good in a world awash in anxiety and anger?

Yesterday, I made a good choice, a choice I am proud of. I will not spend a single one of those days in complaint and self-pity. Life is much too good for that. Wherever they are, I wish my photos well, and I hope many of you used them. They were and are free, and I hope they bring you pleasure and peace and compassion.

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The Purpose Of The Pansy. From There To Here.

To Get Us From There To Here

The purpose of the humble pansy is to get us from there to here. To be a bridge between winter and late Spring, when the garden flowers show up to strut their stuff. I am a prisoner of color and light and a warrior for color and light. The pansies are precious to me in the way they capture the morning sun.

At sunrise this morning, I got up say hello and was rewarded with the kiss of the pansy, a celebration of color and light.

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