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daily fieldnotes » 2011 » March
 
daily fieldnotes

March, 2011 archive

Photographing hands & babies 0

My first love in photography was babies and hands. I first got a real camera in college, a hand-me-down Pentax K1000 from my boyfriend’s mother. It came with a bag of old lenses, a little grainy but still working. I would take my nieces, then toddlers, to play in the park, for walks near my parents’ house, or out to the beach and snap away. The love of photographing hands started with my parents, both of whom work with their hands and have for their whole lives.

Taking this series of pictures recently, of friends and my husband’s hands, and my beautiful friend’s baby, made me think about my college photography days, and about how important art used to be in my life. Photography and pottery were a huge part of the end of high school and most of college for me. At one point I even considered being an art major. I dreamed of opening a studio on the coast of Northern California, with a darkroom and pottery studio.

I like where my life has taken me, but I miss doing creative work. My mother is with us for three nights this week. She has made a living with her creativity, making and selling all kinds of dolls. Whenever I am around her and her work, I am struck by how much space she occupies, spreading out in an explosion of color and sewing materials. There are piles of cotton knit doll bodies on our table right now, and bags of old sweaters sit next to a suitcase full of doll clothes in front of my desk. Crocheted hair pieces are spread out on the couch, blacks, reds, blonds, and pink for mermaids, the mohair yarn leaving hairs spread across the taupe corduroy cushions. A blue quilted, velvet mermaid tail lies on our couch, and rolls of yarn roll about on the floor. I get edgy by the disarray that seems to surround her, and found myself breathing a sigh of relief when she left for the day this morning. But I am deeply respectful of the fact that the messiness accompanies an inspiring creativity. She has built an incredible business with her creativity, making all kinds of dolls and even clothes, mixing colors and materials in ways no one has done before.

It makes me think about drawing again, doing more with my photos, or taking a pottery class. Perhaps I’ll start with a series of hands. After all my parents’ hands were one of my first inspirations in photography. Let it be messy at first, take many pictures, and see where it takes me.

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How were you creative in the past? How does that connect to who you are today?

Finding some spring 2

For all of you in colder climes, spring is on it’s way! Here in mild Northern California it means hills covered with thick green wild grass. Bright, carrot orange California poppies everywhere, from street corners to parks. Light, misty rains. And wild mustard, sprouting up everywhere from cracks in our street to wild hilltops.

Maybe it’s a sign 0

I don’t remember the last time I’d seen a rainbow, and then two in one week! I looked up from breakfast with my mom yesterday morning, and there it was, arching over the view I see out my kitchen window every morning. I’d like to think it’s a beautiful, colorful sign that things might shift toward the lighter and more positive in this house. Too many low, dark moments lately!

Last night I dreamed of my childhood, and woke up rested and happy. I was playing in the back of the school bus we had on our land. (Yes, there was a real yellow school bus by my house growing up. My dad converted it to a greenhouse and grew sprouts there that he sold to local health food stores. Lots of stories to tell about that!) In the dream, it was summer, and I could feel the warmth of dry, brown grass on my bare feet. I’d lost something in the bus, and was worried about how grimy it was in there. But I felt warm and content, filled by the sunny possibilities of my childhood summers. The feeling stayed with me after I got up, got ready, gathered my things, and went to the corner cafe to write.

Today is the first day of spring, and I’m feeling a shift toward the warmth and color that lies ahead.

Visiting good friends 1

No travel is quite as wonderful as visiting a dear old friend. Even when the reason for the trip is a stressful presentation (more on that in another post!). Sitting around the house, petting her cat, helping her study. Going out to breakfast, walking 10 minutes in the wet Seattle weather to a new place in their neighborhood. Talking about whatever comes to mind. Making up stories to help her remember obscure or generic psychological assessments for her upcoming exam.

In the evening we sit working and studying, and suddenly there’s a rainbow. We climb on the coffee table together to see better, watching its colors grow darker, then fade, then grow dark again. We both run to get our cameras, then go downstairs and outside, in bare feet on the wet grass, leaning to capture the full arc. “That’s our good luck” she said, thinking of her exam this week, and my presentation.

“Isn’t there supposed to be a pot of gold at the bottom of the rainbow?” I asked her. We met in kindergarten, and I remember the pictures we used to draw together, crayons pressing color into paper, imagining the treasures we would find under rainbows. “Maybe we should go down the street and see what’s there?” I teased, feeling the spark of wondrous possibility we had when we explored as kids.

Where did that idea come from anyway? Is there a fairy tale with rainbows and pots of gold in it?

Finding an Edge 3

Hi there! I’m back. I’ve missed showing up here these past couple weeks. Have been taking fewer pictures. And the internal editor of my writing has gotten more and more ferocious until I couldn’t get a word past her into this space. It’s just piled up in my folders of writing that no one else reads. But thanks to Christina’s encouragement, and finding escape and connection in others’ blogs yesterday, I am back. Moving again.

My favorite yoga teacher often tells us, as we stand holding a pose, arms extended, balanced on one foot, ‘find your edge’, encouraging us to breath deep into the limit of what we think we can do, and to play with that edge. Feel the discomfort of being at the limit of comfort, and going a little further. Fiery muscles, deep breaths, balance. Playing with the edge of what my body can do.

Blogging is a creative edge for me too. Showing up to put down feelings, playing along the borders of what I have words for. I have this comfortable idea of how polished I like to be when I show others my work. And then I have the need to put things down no matter what, because writing is the only way I know how to make sense of the emotional edges of infertility and writing a dissertation that set the tempo of my life right now.

So I am here. Recommitted to playing with my blogging edge, taking the risk of continuing to write even when the feelings are dark and uncertain. Moving forward. Feeling the burn of embarrassment as my legs shake or I lose balance, and breathing words into the experience.

What are the edges in your life right now? What helps you play with the limit of what you think you can do?