Sunday, May 30, 2010


The weather has been spectacular these last few days in Chicago, perfect for a holiday weekend. I am blessed to live in a very wooded area outside the city, surrounded by huge 100+ year-old trees, heaven for my spirit. Nature has become as important to me as air.

The other day I took a walk and thought, what if I continued my "looking" practice by looking for one great splash of each color in the spectrum? In school we learned to call it "ROYGBIV," the acronym for red-orange-yellow-green-blue-violet. Maybe that would enrich the quality of my walk in a creative way...and I could photograph my "palette" with my iPhone.

So here it is...I share with you the spectrum of my ROYGBIV walk. It was a lot of fun to approach a simple daily activity in a new way, a way that stimulated my creativity and made my solitude richer for that hour.

A detail on a fire hydrant not only provided me with the R in ROYGBIV, it reminded me to keep open eyes and heart:

A closeup of the solar light on a construction sawhorse gave me a lovely graphic O (in both color and composition!):

Green is everywhere. I couldn't decide among such abundance. So I offer you two Gs, a wide view (looking up) and an evergreen closeup with fresh green ever-emerging: 

I hope you've enjoyed the fruits of my ROYGBIV walk. Nourish yourself with color, too, and have a beautiful weekend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Strawberry Season

Recently while removing this leaf cluster from a strawberry,
I was struck by its floral resemblance. Inspired, I began photographing it with my iPhone. Strange glances followed,
but I barely noticed; I was engaged in the spirit of discovery,
of looking.

Later, after discovering some amazing photography apps like Lomob, I began to play and discover all over again. The filters allow you to instantly alter the color, dimensions, saturation, and feel of your image in all kinds of wonderful retro ways. You don't have to know anything technical about photography; just push a button and see what you like. 

Art doesn't have to be hard...just fun. And it starts by looking around with open eyes, a skill we were all born with. Like everything else, we use it or lose it. How much more fun will today be, if you look around with open eyes? What will you see?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Woman Like That

This portrait by Joyce Tenneson from her book Wild Women has always moved me. Perhaps that's why when I first saw it in a magazine, I tore it out and taped it to the wall in my office, where it's been hanging for years now. Elva Azzara, 93: I can still remember what it feels like to love with all my heart. Is it the look of sweetness in her face? Is it the feeling? I want to be a woman like that.

And then last night I went to see a documentary called "I Know a Woman Like That," made by mother-daughter team Elaine and Virginia Madsen, where they traveled the country interviewing inspiring older women between 64-94, not ready to retire but passionately engaged in life. Treasures included Lauren Hutton (more fabulous than ever), totally marching to her own drum; Rita Moreno, gorgeous and soulful, full of wisdom; Gloria Steinem saying, "if you want to know what you'll be like after 60 just think about who you were when you were 9,10, 11 years old...when you were still bold and fearless, before you learned to tame yourself, becoming 'a female impersonator,'" and everyone laughed out loud. The room at the Evanston Library was packed to fire hazard status, with people standing and sitting on the floor, cheering at the end.

I'm also listening to a fantastic audio book in my car: Traveling With Pomegranates, by Sue Monk Kidd (Secret Life of Bees) and her daughter Anne, narrated by the two of them, each chapter read in their voices,  journal entries of a joint trip they took to Greece at a turning point in their lives.

Mothers, daughters, aging. Last Sunday, Mother's Day; tomorrow, my mother's birthday. If she were still alive, she would be 90. I miss her every day.

And now I am my own mother, my own daughter. I am 55, no longer in my "youth" and not yet "old." I remember reading a quote about how the great thing about getting older is that we don't lose any of our earlier selves, we become an accumulation of all of them.  I like that.

And so I collect examples of others ahead of me, doing the same. This photo, film and book are three of them. I want to be a woman like that.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tree Prayer

Last week we decided to finally have a large oak tree cut down and removed from our front yard. It's been dead at least 2 years now (maybe longer), but we'd resisted. Why do we resist discarding what's already gone, what's no longer alive? For me, letting go is always hard. Always. And we're very attached to our trees. It's a big part of why we live here, surrounded by so many tall, powerful, wise ones over 100 years old. Even when they're already dead, cutting them down still feels like murder. 

But it was time. Positioned where it was, one bad storm could have it crashing into our roof. And if you looked at it from the street rather than from our front door, it did look a bit...well, bad. So down it came. I couldn't watch. I just listened while the saw cried its long buzz, then ended with a THUD.

After the tree trimmers left, I walked outside to the spot for a private moment. It felt like a mourning. I was very quiet as I viewed the slice of trunk that looked like a slice of sandwich bread. I looked at all the age lines in it, marking its history and its wisdom. Then I stepped onto it and stood there, looking down at my feet planted firmly where the tree used to be. 

Letting go. Dying into life. Connecting with the source of creation and the Creator who brings all life into being. May we all grow tall, strong and wise, spreading our arms wide while it is our time to flourish.