Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Heart of Oceanus

Without allowing the interference of your left-brain, imagine where in the world you'd like to spend your life. I'd like to live on a farm backed up to the woods near a beach on the ocean. I can stack the hours end to end loafing in the woods or walking the beach. The wonder of the ocean consumes my mind as I wander the sands finding natural treasures among the rocks in shallow pools. I feel small and alone on the shore, staring out at the sea as it heaves forth every breath from its greatest depths to crash at my feet, daring me to step in and surrender to the underlying currents. I watch the intermingling of sand and salt and water as the wave meets the earth in clean and aromatic foam. I can almost taste the sharpness of saline as my mind is calmed and my body tingles with hope and fear. I step into the waiting surge. My feet and legs fail as I go under. My figure is dragged against the sandy bottom until it speeds past the breakers. I tumble without struggle head over foot, rolling beneath the now distant surface. I stop breathing and my eyes go dark. In a cold and comfortable sleep I am carried with great speed to the waiting heart of Oceanus. As I wake I am swallowed into warmth and beauty unlike any on land. Dark and piercing Emerald light surrounds me, and enfolds me, and penetrates me, until I am as clear and buoyant as a jellyfish. I am more water than flesh and my mind is free to be the ocean. Flowing to a rhythm greater than me, I almost disappear into the dark and endless water around me. I am carried in currents older than time. I am united to the purpose and pleasure of the sea. Fearless, careless, and helpless I am at peace in the restful and gracious heart of Oceanus. Years pass unsung and without mourning above the sea. Nameless generations are born, grow old and expire without notice or respect from the deep. I am eternal and immortal within the water. I age not and know no loss in the depths. Dawn, dusk, night and day are as one as are my dreams, awake or asleep.
Suddenly, to the sound of a crash, I wake again, my feet still planted on the sand, the water rushing over them, cool and soft and filled with bubbles. It recedes to the waiting ocean taking with it my deepest longings but leaving the sweet memory and bitter loss of true peace in the heart of Oceanus.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cap Lives!

My son Joseph and I are working on his blog now. He wants to write about all of his Marvel comic book action figures. I had taken up reading comics some time ago to keep up with his pursuits. I also purchased a Captain America figure for myself. Cap was the first and only comic I had read in my childhood. I am currently reading the new Captain America series along with the 1960s series.

Yesterday we set up a few of his figures against a neutral background and began photographing them for his blog. I took a few shots of Cap while I waited for him to pose his figures. We had a great time with both the shooting and the post-processing. We embellished a few shots with text and effects. It was a fun project for both of us.

He'll be posting his stories and photos soon so check in with him if you like at

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A god within demands freedom

Last night I realized that I hadn't seen myself for several days. I had somehow put myself aside in favor of "reality". So, after everyone had gone to bed, I took out my guitar and played almost every song I know. I also spent some time learning a new song, "Overkill" by Colin Hay This song was important to me even when I was 12 years old. I noticed the "grown-up" feel of the lyrics in contrast to his band's earlier music.

It was truly therapeutic, as is often the case, to play and sing for a couple of hours. I begin to reach something within, hidden deeper than the conscious self can touch at will. In that other world, the land of the true self, there is a quiet clarity that leads to real discovery. I step through the mirror and into my conscience. I sit, wondering at the simplicity. New thoughts come to light and an honest comprehension of who I am occupies the once dim heaviness of my conscious mind.

I enjoy that place so much, and yet, spend so little time there. I make excuses for my delinquency in returning to such a beautiful state. Make no mistake, the real reason for avoiding the 'fortress of solitude' is the return journey. It's painful to spend even a short time in the arms of true love only to leave bliss behind for this world. The "real" world has a way of overwhelming one's sense of self into submission. I hide from the true self to keep from admitting to my fatigue and sorrow, to avoid really tasting the poison of apathy and placation of this world's demands, which I drink fully.

Last weekend offered a unique opportunity to enter the world of the true self. I did so, and spent considerable time there, contented by discovery. I had planned to express those musings here. As the week began I allowed myself to be swept away by the demands of this shadowed realm and lost my sense of identity somewhere in the minutiae.

Here I sit poised to embark upon another week's journey across the desert of human experience, gleaning as I go, any sustenance for the true self. I hope to fair better than I have thus far and erase the mistake of surrender. I want to stand in the open doorway of the furnace before me and not wince, not fade, not strain at the light and the heat. I'll force my eyes open and defy the devil's breath. I will not give way as I labor the weight of Adam's curse. I AM A MAN! I am a HERO for the true self! I will fight and win! A god is within me that demands to be fed, to be empowered, and to be liberated. I SET ME FREE!

Friday, June 6, 2008


Looking at this photo takes me away to my first real photography adventure with a man who would soon become a good friend and an inspiration for a new life.

I have been interested in art and photography since I was a child. I learned quickly how to express myself with photography when I "borrowed" my folks' 35mm film camera at age 15 or so. I did little more than capture the images that meant the most to me, mostly sunsets, the family pets, and zoo animals. Though I enjoyed it, I found little support for my art among my family and friends. Combining that disinterest with my own apathy and lack of self worth, as I grew into the responsibilities of adulthood, I began to neglect the artist and photographer within in favor of the pragmatic and mundane spittle of survival. That limited comprehension of self was a short path to insanity and neurosis.
I was rescued from this atrophy by a few good friends and the encouragement of my wife. I began hiking and bird-watching and was quickly reminded of my deeper loves. Photography was a natural companion to these activities and I quickly took up the hobby again as I recorded the sights around me.
In March of 2007 I had the pleasure of accompanying our flight crew on a mission in Sedona, AZ. I was assisting project manager and was recruited to supervise the flight and airborne GPS operations for the project. Due to the weather and the nature of the project we were forced to stay a bit of extra time there until the mission was complete. During our down time, we planned a hike through the West Fork of Oak Creek Canyon. I had hiked in that area before, and swam and fished in the creek there. I was familiar with its seasons and I looked forward to seeing it through the eyes of a photographer.
My companion was an accolmplished outdoorsman and master photographer and I would have been even more intimidated than I was had I not been to West Fork before. It helped a bit that he had never seen the canyon and I felt a bit like a guide through this scenic miracle of nature. As we left the parking lot, I showed my nervousness in my awkward listing of my past experiences in the canyon, my old self abasement leering at me from within. I heard in my companion's polite silence an eager anticipation of the wonders to be discovered between the sandstone walls that steered the creek all those countless centuries. As we left behind the company of other hikers and began to experience the real wilderness of that world within the sandstone sanctuary, a calm came over us and a casual and mutual expression of wonder enchanted or minds. We found ourselves empowered with the privilege of entering this exotic, living place with its own stories to tell from its guarded history. I quickly abandoned my zoom lense along with the idea of capturing any shots of unsuspecting birds. I attached my wide angle lense and began my attempts to express my feelings toward the landscape, the creek, the boulders, the towering canyon walls. I happily shed the trail guide persona and took up the apprenticeship at hand as the master photographer went to work.
I followed eagerly as the formidable figure of my accomplished hiking partner led us forward into discovery of wild mysteries. His eyes were alive with anticipation and his brow furrowed in determination to draw breath after deep, full breath of the fierce and graceful spirit of the West Fork. As we lingered between the sheer walls of living stone we were blessed with the song of the ancient creek alive with the waters of distant snowmelt. The compressed and petrified sand of milenia past soared stories above us and gave shelter among its shelves and crevices to the plants, trees, and creatures who had the pleasure of making that place home. We were witness to the ominous signs of creation and destruction of life between the walls. There were boreal giants with broad feet on the floor and heads reaching for the top of the canyon walls for light, and varied herbs and grasses clinging gleefully to the waters' edge to endulge endless thirst. There were trees perched atop the overhanging ledges over a thousand feet above us and others, no less grand, blissfully content to live out their histories beneath the overhangs on shelves enriched with the detritus of years past. We saw boulders, enormous and broad as buildings, laying ominously far below their former homes among the cliffs before us. The sounds that must have come from the falling of these giants would surely strike deaf the ears of any creatures nearby. The myriad of shapes and colors among the rocks and pebbles at our feet and lining the bottom of the creek told of forces beyond our comprehension working each century to build and carve the secret garden through which we trod. All of these images were welcomed into our souls as we walked, awestruck by things older, wiser, and bigger than we mere men. We, at last made our way to the expected impass, a narrowing of the canyon to such a degree that it can only be traversed by swimming. We passed our time on that spot with a few morsels of food from our packs as we drank in the kingly beauty and halting hand of the canyon before us. We collected a few last images of the forbidden fortress before turning our backs in satisfaction and heading homeward.
As we ended our escape into the wild and approached civilization once more, We knew we were deeply changed by that place. We were witness to an enchanted crack in the earth into which man and beast could walk and hear on the wind, whispers of a time when the planet was young and untamed. It was there that I began a new life of self expression, or rather co-creation, with the natural world. I am ever thankful for my adventures within such a timeless and legendary figure of the earth, and I am thankful for the friendship that was born that day.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Timinski

Here's a picture of the Timinski, mentioned in my previous post.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


As my wife so magnanimously pointed out to me, Bill Murray is ONE of the great comedic actors of all time. His timing, facial expressions and his natural and relaxed persona make him one of the greats. But let's not forget Tom Hanks, Christopher Guest, and of course Michael Keaton. I've seen Mr. Mom like 500 times and I never tire of it. I'm reminded of another actor who is often overlooked when discussing comedy, Dustin Hoffman. His straight man style is as good as any I've seen. His performance in Tootsie went far beyond the make-up. Of course Bill Murray played a great little part in that film as well. Oh...Gene Wilder, another fantastic straight man.

One of my proudest moments as a father was when my oldest son explained the purpose of the straight man when he was about 8 years old, "He makes the other guy funnier by not being funny and that's harder to do."
I mean, we could go all the way back to Abbot and Costello but, Alan Alda, Carol O'Connor, BOB NEWHART, these are some big shoes you're trying to fill. Then there are those who had little time to show their full potential. John Belushi was fantastic in The Blues Brothers, among ther things, and Phil Hartman was just beginning to break out of the SNL personas into a real actor. John Candy is another who could bring the house down with his comedic sensibility.

What pain comedy comes from. I wonder if you just have to really suffer to understand joy and appreciate it fully. Or maybe the pain is just so pervasive that the only escape is comedy. It's important to have a release, a respite from the weariness of competing for survival. I think children have the natural ability to move from reality to fantasy without hassle but we insist on imposing reality on them for fear that they won't be able to handle it when it is thrust upon them later in life. I think we need to learn from them and be simple when we can and THAT will ground us for when life throws a curve and we're forced to face reality. I think we've become so distrustful of ourselves that we try to anticipate every sucker punch out there. But that kind of preparation is both exausting and impossible. I hope I can be more simple and see things flat on without trying to figure out the angles. It wears me out to put up the guard every time there's a decision to be made or a challenge to confront, to try to head off grief at the pass. I guess if I just take it on the chin once in a while I'd probably relax knowing that it just isn't as bad as I made it out to be. I just can't spend my life trying not to make a mistake. I'll never try anything if I approach it like that. Boy, we're a messy lot, we humans. How simple on the surface and yet so prone to confusion and self-destruction. Be good to yourself. Easier said than done but oh so sublime when done simply. Eat a meal slowly, sit in the shade for an hour, do nothing and receive something from it.

One day, last year I was hiking on the San Francisco Peaks in Flagstaff. I couldn't find a good subject for a photo so I just sat on a rock for a couple of minutes waiting for inspiration. It proved very fruitful as I remembered my trusty pocket-knife, the "Timinski". I bought the Timinski for a camping trip when I was in my early twenties. It's a black Swiss Army knife, the Camper. I named it for my late uncle Timmy Timinski, who gave me my first pocket knife. It was his old scout knife. I threw that knife into every tree in my path, taking great joy when it stuck, until it finally shed its scales and lost itself amidst the rest of my childhood. I remember my uncle's keen interest in my having the things a boy should have, a knife, a slingshot, an uncle. I remember him whenever I use that knife and I call it by name for that sole purpose. On that day on the mountain, intent on using the Timinski and perpetuating the honor of my uncle, I walked a few steps and found a dead aspen trunk. I pulled it from its rotting place in the ground and began to clean and shave it to become a walking stck. I don't use a walking stick often but I began to understand in that hour of cleaning and carving that the memories of that moment were being breathed into that small dead tree and that I would have it to remind me of who I was in that moment. I finished by carving the date on the stick, in hopes of remembering. I see myself reflected in that stick now. I see who I am when I'm alone on a mountain, hidden among the trees and rocks and soil, holding my knife and my stick. I like that person, a lot. I like how calm and sensitive that person is. I like how accepting and careful he is.
I like how simple he is.

Quick Note...

For anyone interested, I recommend watching/reading/listening to the Democracy Now interview with Utah Phillips:
I know it turned my head. I'm not very knowledgable about the labor movements and their history in this country but found the obvious sympathy for the dignity of the human person striking. As I mentioned in my first post, his remarks on television are enlightening. Altogether, a great little group of stories from one who regarded his fellow man with compassion, as one who has suffered has cause to do.

Monday, June 2, 2008

An Old Thirst

On the Mt. Lemmon Highway there is a place to stop and let the faster traffic pass. On the way down from a little hike along Marshall Gulch, I stopped there to explore the scene behind the guardrail. A little apprehensive, I stepped over to another world. I quickly became enthrawled with the sight before me. Rocks of granite, tan and sparkling in the midday sunlight. Manzanitas, older than any who may have walked there before me, embraced and adorned the vision with their time worn wisdom. And in the deeper shadows of the granite giants, patches of snow, blue with ambient light delighted my eyes. I paused to raise a handful of that purity to my mouth to quench an old thirst. Life beyond that hidden delight passed without notice. There, between the crown and feet of the Santa Catalina Mountains, I found a stillness amidst the exposed bones of the mountain. Caves and crevices, holes and heights, grace and gravity, all mine for no other reason than to enjoy, and record, and perhaps share.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

First post, Welcome!

That's me on the playa in Willcox.
I thought it would be nice to open with a photo.
I admire those skilled in photo journalism and aspire to express myself as fluently as they do. Bear with me as I hone my skill (I had to look up the correct spelling of 'hone' so this could take some time). I'll try to keep it light and interesting for any of those out there with as little patience as I have myself. Is anyone out there? (crickets)
Creativity is important to me, in practice and philosophy. I believe it is the purpose of our existence. We cannot create something out of nothing but we are invited to participate in the continuation of the human legacy on earth. Whether by consequence or design we leave our footprints behind us. While we are a mere flash in the universal pan we are obliged to regard ourselves as significant if for no other reason than our own individual survival. I pledge to make more of my life today than I did yesterday. Though, I may feel differently about that tomorow.
By the way, I am currently searching the cobwebbed corners of my mind to decide who is the finest comedic personality I have ever witnessed. I think right now I really like Martin Short ( He's so versitile and a bit crazy. I think he does too much but I wonder if he held back if he would be so good. I love his stuff from the SNL days but Jiminy Glick is in the top three characters he's developed. Ed Grimley, of course, is my all-time favorite and Jackie Rogers Jr. was a fantastic display of his inner-wierdness. One of my favorite skits was Jackie Rogers Junior's $100,000 Jackpot Wad ( Christopher Guest played the effeminate Rajeev with Billy Crystal as Sammy Davis Jr., whom I love babe, and Mary Gross as the nervous Mindy to Jim Belushi's Captain Kangaroo, whose show I watched every day as a child. It was great to see the Captain blow his stack at Mindy versus the duo of Guest and Crystal's characters. But Short tied it all together with his creepy laughing through his teeth and albino costume make-up.
The Great Shelly Berman ( compared laughing to crying when asked about comedy. He said both were involuntary and expressed more than words can describe or can be comprehended. I like that. I think it's important to look at that comparison and find a way to accept that part of our nature, the unexplainable part, the mysterious and ellusive part. Comedy is creative, and destructive, and important. When things get so bad sometimes we laugh because there's nowhere to turn at that moment but to laughter.
I love laughing and I love the bond it forms between us. We grow beyond the things that made us laugh in the past and I think that's how some friendships end but if we can hold on to what is created in a moment of laughter and continue to grow I think we can be better friends to others and to ourselves. Just as those who suffer together have a bond from that experience those who experience real joy together are bound to that experience as a new creation in their being, a part of them has grown to envelope that experience.
I grew up in front of the television, and to a great degree it has formed my conscience. At 37 I am just beginning to see the difference between reality and television. In general, I am thankful for a lot of what I've learned and experienced, albeit vicariously, through the TV. But I wonder how much better I'd understand joy without having seen it portrayed on TV. I know I'd understand sex better had I not seen it on television. And I know the Dukes of Hazzard didn't help my driving skills any. It's not like I can't tell the difference between people and Muppets, at least by sight. But I think I act like one sometimes, a Muppet that is. And while it is fun and gets a laugh, I wonder how that part of me would be expressed without a televised definition.
The late U. Utah Phillips ( once said something to this effect, that television tells you what to imagine and that you can't have that imagination without the accessories they offer for sale. I agree that I've wasted my imagination on television and much of my time was spent validating my conscience in comparison to what I saw there. But I am thankful for those moments that have added to my understanding and creativity. I remember being a depressed teenager and believing that I had no worth and Bob Ross brought me the Joy of Painting which at least gave me hope in becoming an artist. Even though my self expression is very different from his, I can remember pointing to the fact that this was something that someone other than myself liked and did and supported himself on and I might too succeed in it someday. I'm by no means a self supported artist but, someday.
That word 'someday' is precisely why I gave up on TV this year. I got sick of putting off my life a half an hour at a time to see what some fantastic character did with his imaginary time. I think I may be starting to live my life a little more closely to my abilities. It's more painful now that I can't hide from it in the alter universe of television. Though, I play more guitar now. I talk to my wife more. I play with my kids a bit more. I eat less than I did before...
I blog.