30 September 2017

IPhones And Partners. When You Grow, I Grow. What Love Means.

Photo By Maria Wulf: First Photo With The Camera

I had lunch with a close friend today and she asked me if it bothered me that Maria was taking so many wonderful pictures with the jazzy new camera on her new Iphone 7. I had to think about it a minute.

I said when I saw the quality of this portrait of me – the first photo Maria took with the new phone camera, I did have a twinge of unease.

I certainly have noted the string of beautiful pictures she has been posting online since we got the new camera. People are loving them. So am I. Every morning she comes to me and shows me  her pictures, as I have done with her every day of our lives together.

Up until a year ago, I was the photographer, not her, that was my realm. Now there are two of us.

Seeing how creative and determined Maria is, I knew the portrait of me would not be the last wonderful image. She is a visual artist, she sees the world in images, of course she would get serious about pictures. And now she has a powerful tool to support this work.

I will be honest. I know enough about fragile male egos to know this could cause some trouble if it were not handled well and honestly.

There was a larger truth about how I felt feel, I told my friend, and that was about love and partnership, about what love really means.

It is not about competition, or the smallness of envy. I could not ever succeed at the expense of her, and of her dreams and gifts. That is not love, it is not a gift to me.

I urged Maria to buy this new phone camera, I helped her set it up.

I have always encouraged her to get hold of creative tools, and I am filled with pride and admiration for the work she has done, is doing, and will do. She is one of the most talented people I have ever known. Watching her art evolve has been the greatest gift of my life.

Yes, I am competitive, that has always helped me. It has not escaped me that our gifts now sometimes brush against one another, that we are sometimes aiming for the same shot.

But just as she has always encouraged me, I will always encourage her. And competition is good for people like me, it keeps my sharp and focused. We can work it out, we already have.

When Maria succeeds, I succeed, I told my friend. When she grows, I grow. When she is happy, I am  happy.  When she is stronger, I am stronger.  When she is afraid or sorrowful, I can't be happy.

We are in life together. Her creativity shines on me, mine on hers. Her art is different from mine, a fiber artist is different from a writer, and used to be somewhat different from a photographer. But this is not something I have lost, she enriches me with her love and her work.

We adjust. When we go outside, she takes photos while I do chores, when she is done, I take my photos whole she finishes the chores. In this way, we stay out of each other's way. We avoid resentments and confusion, we respect the dignity and creativity of one another.

We can talk pictures as well as a million other things, and revel in the successes each one of us has. Each of us can help the other learn a bit more about how to capture the images we seek or are  drawn to.

We can both try to make photos that capture our lives, our farm, our animals, and the different ways in which we express our art. I think everyone will be richer for that, that goes for us, and for you.

So now, we have another beautiful thing we can share. I have lost nothing.

My friend listened closely, and said, you need to go and write that. You're right, I said. I do.

Posted in General

Guess Who’s Wearing A Sweater?

Guess Who's Wearing A Sweater?

I don't think I could even count how often I have said or written that Gus, my five month old Boston Terrier, would NEVER wear clothes or sweaters, it seemed grotesque to me to put clothes on a dog.

Today, amidst the first frost warnings of the season, we put a blue fleece sweater on  Gus.

For one thing, he has been shivering visibly outside, for another, Suzanne Fariello, my vet, gave me a stern talking to about Gus and sweaters in the winter. I huffed and puffed and told her that my dog would not ever wear sweaters, and she looked me in the eye, and said, "oh, but I'm afraid he will.

"Gus does not have the coat or body heat to withstand very cold days in upstate New York in the winter," she said, "and you will absolutely get him a sweater."

That was the end of the discussion.

If I were a balloon, you could hear the puncture all over the county, the air going out. "Okay," I said meekly. I learned years ago, whether it was my broken heart or my broken life, to surround myself with strong women and do what they told me. My life has improved steadily ever since.

When a vet says that to me, there is no question that I will do it, and when a little dog shivers and shakes in the cold, there is no question about it either. I had this idea that it might be an unnecessary affectation by over protective people.

I was a bit of a snob about small dogs, and clung to this idea that they were all cosseted. Gus is definitely cosseted, that is the charm of the small dog, but he also gets cold in the winter, especially up here, and that is not cosseting, that is good and loving care.

This, of course, is one reason I wanted to get a small dog, I wanted to learn more about them, what they are really like, why they are so popular, what I can learn from having one. I have learned a lot, including the fact that I have a lot to learn and might be more cautious about making pronouncements I can't keep. And I have more to learn.

This crunching you hear is the sound of crow being eaten. Go ahead and gloat.

One of the things I have learned is that dogs that size with a think coat do not have the protection from the cold of a heavy lab or thick-coated border collie.

So if he gets cold, he will need a sweater. And now he has two, a small and medium.

Posted in General

Mansion Chronicles: For Art: Walking Each Other Home

Walking Each Other Home

I told Art he is the most outspoken and controversial person I have worked with in my therapy work, and in the Mansion. This pleases him, he believes it is God's will that he challenges the lax and the unbelieving and the failed and seeks to save them.

I fear I am lost and told him so. A number of people have sent some donations to help Art. So far, we've gotten him a large reclining chair for his back, an air conditioner for his room, a CD player for his Bible, and some audio books on faith.

When I saw Art the other day – he had some strong stories to tell me about damnation and  doom, I asked  him if there was anything I could do for him, anything he needed. He smiles, and said, "why no, sir, just yourself, coming to see me and talk to me."

This humbled me, and brought me up short. I know I sometimes put Red and material things between me and these people, and Art was reminding me that it is, in fact, sometimes just about me, and what I can offer and give. Just by myself. It is good to be reminded of that, I don't usually think  that is true.

Art has been very good for me, and also, I think, for others. He reminds me why I am there, and why I am not. And despite the vast differences between us, we are brothers, he says it and I know it. Life is curious.

I just got a beautiful card in the mail about Art, it was from Patrician Wright who lives in North Carolina. I get a lot of cards in the mail, and I love them, and the thought that goes into them, they are so much richer and more powerful than e-mail.

The cover said "Too much of a GOOD THING is just right." Inside was a check to help Art – some people are not comfortable sending donations to him, which I do understand.

Inside, written in ink, was a quote from Ram Dass, it said "We're all just walking each other Home."  And then a note from Patricia, it said: "For Art, may he be blessed with grace and peace beyond understanding." – Patricia.

I don't know about Art, but I see that Patricia is already blessed and grace and peace beyond understanding. I am proud to know her, and get a message like from here, I'd like to drink it in or breathe it in and keep in inside of me.

Monday, I will take this to Art and read it to him. I expect he will want to put it on the stand next to his bed, where he keeps letters from people who write him. Art seeks letters from people of faith and seekers, you can write him c/o The Mansion, 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

Art told me this week that he would never give up on saving me, and I told him I would never give up on  being his friend.  We're just walking each other home, I said. I will remember that line for a long time.

Art laughed again, and said, "well, we'll see who survives the other." Amen to that.

Posted in General

For Robin, In New York, My Blue Crayon, To Color The Sky

You Are My Blue Crayon

For Robin:

"You are my blue crayon, the one I never have enough of, the one I use to color my sky."  – A.R. Asher.

Posted in General

Gus On Fanny In The Light. For Sale.

Gus On Fanny

Getting lots of mail asking me to sell t his photo, "Gus On Fanny In The Light." So we'll see if that's true. I'm offering this photo – it was taken with an Achromat Art Lens just after sunrise – for sale for $75 plus $10 shipping (more overseas).

I can't say whether this has any mystical meaning or not, I think it's not for me to say. In photos as in art, you see what you want and need to say. I do admit to be a little startled by the image when I looked at it on the computer.

So I'm planning 8 1/2 by 11 prints on rag or archival paper unframed, an open edition, signed.

If you want to buy this photo, you can contact Maria at [email protected] She has taken over sales of my photos and she is doing a wonderful job.  She is getting a commission for each sale.

This is a good way for me to sell some of my photos – we print them as ordered and I sell relatively few. The photos will be mailed in secure tubes.

Soon, I'll be putting up a photo gallery of images for sale on my blog. I think this image has two elements I like –  Gus on Fanny, an increasingly popular series, and this light streaming down and touching him. I will have to think about what it might mean.

Posted in General