Rules aren't real

A friend participating in the black&white photo fun challenge going around Facebook recently posted a picture of her toddler in the bathtub.  One of the "rules" of the challenge is that photos not have people in them.  My friend focused on a bath bombe sitting on the edge of the tub, with the back of her daughter's shampooed head out of focus.  Social media being what it is, someone had to point out that she'd included a person in her picture.  Egads!  A rule-breaker!

The Hub invited me to join the challenge a few days later and, rules be damned, I didn't bother to post 'the rules' nor the hashtags with each photo.  (And if you think about it, posting the short 'rules' blurb that says "no explanations" is itself kind of explanation, isn't it? I am amused.) The challenge is arbitrary; the rules aren't real.  There aren't any challenge police (even my friend's friend who chided her has no authority whatsoever), any more than in any other area of life where we too often worry "what will other people think?"  

I lost much of my others-care filter on a milestone birthday a few years back, and I've lost a whole lot more of it since my father died.  How many years have I spent worrying what others think?  Too many.

So I thanked the husband for inviting me to the challenge and set about seeing the world in black & white.  Instead of trying to make a stunning, artful image, I used the opportunity to capture whatever was on my mind each day.  It's been surprisingly helpful in continuing to process my grief, as were the many images I took in the week following dad's death.

There just might be more images to come. 

And yes, color has crept into my last two pictures.  I'm a big fan of color, not so much b&w, so letting color show up in my images is as inevitable as my refusal to follow 'the rules'.

On being stuck in the middle

I felt stuck in the middle of a situation today so I slipped out for a quick walk  to try to clear my head and get some perspective back.  There was a sharp bite to the air but a fast pace softened it. 

I caught these two shots while I was out: 


This leaf had drifted its way to the ground but landed in a place where it was both trapped and supported by the very crevice that held it captive. I felt trapped in the situation but a breather told me here might be more possibilities than my irrational thinking at the time was letting me see.







The serrated edges of a crisp, dry, cold leaf echoed the sharp edges in the air.





I didn't come to any great awakenings but the walk was refreshing and introduced me to a couple of those things that make you go hmm...

Feel free to share your own observations or 'things that make you go hmm...' in the comments.  

The never ending story

It's a never ending story for me: managing all that I get myself into.  Summer class, intense 8-week fall class, etc.  You know the drill.  But once a thankfully long while something comes along that trumps all else, like my father's death a couple of weeks ago.  

While meeting with family and beginning to process our loss, everything went on hold except for the photo ops that appeared right in front of me.  This time last year, I did the same - grabbed the photo ops that gave me a little respite by taking the camera for a walk in solitude.  This year, I had only the iPhone, it was too cold to spend much time outside, and I didn't have a ton of time alone (which was probably good), but I grabbed pictures everywhere I could, very often from the passenger seat.  

A few friends on FB liked them, so I'm shifting them over here, too.  

Nudging the neurons

The summer semester ended on July 30th, and I'm free now.  Sort of.  My fall class starts in a few weeks but for now, in this in-between space, I'm turning my focus and time toward my MLA capstone, which begins with the spring 2018 semester, and the long list of prep work I've made for myself.  On that list: establish better habits for writing.  

These little 6-word story invitations are, even in their tiny way, a good exercise.  They require economy, which requires thinking outside box to imply a full story behind such a short string of words.  It's a small commitment, coming up with six words, and once I've come up with one string, I'm tempted to come up with a second, and so on, at least until I have to get up and do the laundry or something.  

Nudge those neurons and see what you can come up with.  Feel free to share here but a share on the 6-word story site would be even better.  If you're going to write the words, then why not put them out into the world where they belong?

If you'd rather stay here where people know you, then how about using this image? 

A publication!

I was happy to receive The Soap Box, Vol. II, in which my poem Hoarfrost on Cattails appears.  (Inspired by the photo I took here.)

I haven't had anything published for a few years.  Publication is like the lottery: you gotta' play to win.  And I haven't been playing.  I go through brief spurts when I submit a poem or two then I stop because life doesn't stop while I'm writing poetry, meaning nothing else gets done.  Even life sustaining things like grocery shopping, laundry, bill paying.

The piece published here was one that spontaneously combusted during one of my layovers in Minneapolis last fall.  I'd tried to force it onto the page during my flight, only to be overtaken by a very powerful desire to nap, so I put it away and didn't get it out again until I was waiting at my net gate.  Then, bammo, there it was!  I fired up the laptop, banged the keyboard into oblivion, and now my (albeit imperfect) words are on a printed page with a related sketch facing it.  (I didn't do the sketch.  A fabulous artist named Darya Rakitine did the sketch.  I can't draw.  At all.  Like barely even a doodle in a textbook.)

My gratitude to The Soap Box for publishing it and adding a drawing, and to my creative online friends who allowed my poem to be the one that got submitted from the group of poems we created together.  

Cheers to small journals!





Carnival season is here!

Carnival season kicked off last week with the first in a series that makes its way around to every county fire company from late May through August.  The stroll around the carnival grounds the same night as the Midnite Run show was a welcome chance to try to get that coveted carousel shot I've never gotten, simply because, well, we don't usually go to the carnivals. 

Rule #1 of living creatively: To get what you want, you have to show up!

I enjoyed wandering and spent most of my time cradling my camera in the crook of one elbow, which gave me a steadier shot than if I'd tried to handhold a, say, 1/13 shutter speed in normal position and wasn't too unhappy with the results.

I'm still as mesmerized by the bright lights and vivid colors as I was as a tweenager at the county fair.  I punched up the images a bit to try to convey that sensory overload of being surrounded by all that color and light against the night sky.  The colors feed off their contrast with the sky and the sky appears darker against all the colors; each is stronger because of the other.  Interpret that as you wish.

A little nite music

While it's rare for me, I do get out to listen to local bands once in a while.  I had the pleasure of seeing Midnite Run last night at the first fire company carnival of the season and, though I got home past my (embarrassingly early) bedtime, I was relaxed and rejuvenated from being away from the house, away from homework and even from writing (gasp!).

An article making it way around social media today listed 33 ways to boost creativity, one of which to listen to new music.  Listening to old music I haven't heard in a long time is just as effective.  Anything that's different, out of the daily routine, serves to shake up the routine and jog loose those thoughts that get me stuck and incapable of seeing from a different perspective.

Thanks, Midnite Run, for an impressive performance, a trip down memory lane, and for shaking up my Sunday night routine.  

While there, I also wandered and took photos along the midway and around the rides. Grabbing that opportunity to get creative behind the lens also shook up the monotony of spending every evening staring at the screen and waiting for writing to magically appear on it. It was nice to be freed from that mental obligation for an evening and I had an easy time getting up and finishing a research book this morning, then finishing the current novel's outline set-up in Scrivener.  Now that I've run my errands for the day and gotten these pictures done for the band, and a huge pot of split pea and ham soup is simmering on the stove, I'll move on to do some actual writing.  It's been a day of working up to the writing, but I'm going to get there.  

What can you do to shake up your routine, remove the 'stuckness' that might be holding you back?

The band does a very cool benefit for Wounded Warrior Project every year.  Check it out and buy tickets here.  (No, I'm not getting a kickback.)  You can follow them and see upcoming events on FB, too.