DRY TIMES, LESSONS FROM A THREE YEAR OLD AND KINDNESS

DRY TIMES

It’s been a slow week as far as writing is concerned. Maybe the ten-day photography challenge wore me out or perhaps it’s simply one of those weeks when words stagger across the computer screen, trip over each other and refuse to form a coherent sentence.

Instead of worrying, we can see these dry periods as an opportunity to doodle about on the page instead of trying to write something ‘serious’. Maybe I should heed the words of the Dalai Lama:

Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.

LESSONS FROM A THREE YEAR OLD

The day before I completed the #developingyoureye photography challenge I handed my grand-daughter my compact, point-and-shoot, carry in your purse, camera. It’s fairly indestructible, so once I showed her how to turn the camera on and what happens when she puts her finger over the lens, I handed her the camera and took her out into our small garden and let her play. Here are some of the results:

A three year old doesn’t compare herself to others, she knows nothing about ‘should’ or ‘ought’ but she does know a lot about play, the sheer delight that comes from doing something because it’s fun.

As I watched my grand-daughter run from one object to the other I was confronted by my desire to ‘make art’ instead of letting myself play and discover. A small garden and a precious child taught me a lot about perspective and how to frame my world.

KINDNESS IN THEORY AND PRACTICE

The Buddha tells us that,

A generous heart, kind speech and a life of service and compassion are the things that renew humanity.

I received a package this morning from my daughter-in-law-who-lives-interstate. Inside were four jars of gluten-free muesli, a loving gift of unexpected kindness. I’ve not been able to spend as much time as I would like with this new addition to our family but this morning I learned she has a kind and generous heart. I am lucky to have her in my life.

The dry (writing) time will end but I expect I’ll continue to learn more valuable lessons from my grand-daughter and my daughter in law. To rephrase the Dalai Lama, not getting what I want made me appreciate what I have.

When was the last time not getting what you wanted turned out to be a stroke of luck?

 

Developing your Eye: Day Ten

Going Monochrome

Today is the last day of this challenge. I’ve enjoyed taking part and I’m extremely grateful for my readers’ interest and positive comments. In addition to learning more about photography and cameras, I’ve discovered some wonderful blogs. Stepping from the world of words, sentences and paragraphs into the world of images, the rule of thirds, f-stops and shutter speeds has opened up a new way of seeing and thinking about my world. Thank you everyone.

I also want to thank my partner who patiently followed me around as I framed and shot some of my pictures and then, as he always does, edited each post. This post, and this photo, is dedicated to him. I took the photograph several years ago and it is my partner’s favourite bridge. Known as ‘City Bridge’, it is part of Adelaide’s central business district’s main thoroughfare. It was proposed in 1929 after floods destroyed three earlier structures and was designed to deal with the increasing volume of traffic entering and leaving the city. Completed in 1931 it is, as can be seen, a concrete structure that also features beautiful lamp fittings and pylons designed by South Australian artist John C. Goodchild.

DSC_5771 (2)
#developingyoureye: ‘City Bridge’

In a way, this photograph represents one of my goals: to create a bridge between my writing and the  images I hope to capture with my camera. I still have a lot to learn about creating those images but I hope more of them will appear on this blog.

Developing your Eye: Day Nine

Today’s challenge involved bringing colour into play. We were encouraged to experiment with only one colour, but I can’t resist the starry brightness against the green. I took this shot the same day as I snapped the picture featured on Day Five. I hope it brightens your day in the way it brightened mine.

DSC_0062
#developingyoureye:
 ‘Two Colours with Green’.

Developing Your Eye: Day Eight

Treasure

The day after my grand daughter was born my son, who is a gifted photographer but lacks the time to develop his talents, took this photograph of his new born daughter.

IMG_0228
#developingyoureye: ‘Newborn’

Later that year, while playing around with my camera, I photographed my partner as he prepared our Christmas Dinner, our first one  with our grand daughter.

DSC_7947
#developingyoureye: ‘Paring Knife.’

Both photos are, for me, emblems of the bounty of life but I also like the contrasts between them – the old hands, the new hands (what wonders will they perform?), the sharpness of the paring knife, the tenderness of those tiny, vulnerable fingers.

Photography is, indeed, poetry.

Developing Your Eye Day Five

Today’s Task: Connect

To connect we must fasten, physically unite, join. We must tie and bind, relate and associate, we must as E. M. Forster has said, ‘Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die.’

#developingyoureye: 'Connect'
#developingyoureye: ‘Connect’

Yet the connection made possible by these lines and wires is fragmentary, temporal, tenuous.

The earth is a beast tethered by humankind’s inability to endure solitude; there is nothing wrong with connection, what needs to be questioned is the motivation for, and the quality and cost of, the connection. We no longer reach out a hand to another, we press a button. We text but never talk; fearful of our impurities we share only what we can photoshop.

The monolith rising above my house gives me the world on a screen even as it ties me to my throttled patch of the planet … and yet, and yet … how else to re-calibrate the fibres of our subjectivity than by assenting to this thready connection with an Other?

I cannot answer that question.

I don’t have to answer that question.

I can, through laptop, cable and satellite, connect to the world, ask that question and hope for a reply.

Developing your Eye Day Four

Bliss

Our idea of bliss changes. What we once thought of as heavenly can become an embarrassment. The pop group from your teens, the dish you used to prepare (in my case cheese fondue) that you’d turn up your nose at now. Other things remain in your personal library of bliss; a beautiful sunset, holding your first-born in your arms, even though he’s too tall to cradle anymore and you must be content with a hug.

Then there’s the bliss you could never imagine but cannot now do without; the delight that comes from hearing the doorbell ring and knowing your granddaughter has arrived. There’s also the bittersweet bliss of greeting your children from interstate and luxuriating in their smiles despite knowing they’ll leave again in a few days. Photographs fail to capture such moments, which makes today’s #developingyoureye task difficult for me.

What, apart from being with my loved ones, represents bliss? What do I experience that brings me bliss?

Every afternoon at three my partner and I have afternoon tea. One of us will make  Chai, and we often have a piece of cake or a biscuit. Occasionally, though, I’ll indulge a blissfully rich hot chocolate with marshmallows. When I feel the need to raise the bliss a notch or two I’ll serve it in a robustly colourful Mason’s ‘Regency’ cup and saucer.

P1020862
Blissfully Wicked Double Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows.

It belonged to my mother and I believe it was her mother’s. There are, as you can see from the photograph below, two such cups and their saucers, but the pink one has a fine crack in it so I only drink from the blue one.

I don’t remember my grandparents using them, but when I take my first sip of chocolate I wonder if they took tea in the afternoon, sitting together in their kitchen, drinking from cups brought from the ‘Old Country.’

My grandfather was from Wales and my grandmother was a Glaswegian. A visit to their home when I was a child was an experience in accents, a concert of emphases, stresses and inflections that delighted the ear even as it sometimes confused the child.

P1020855
Mason’s ‘Regency’, England.

When I hear a soft female Scottish voice I remember my grandmother Bell’s beautiful smile that, more often than not, quickly evolved into rich laughter.

IMG_0018
Valentine, Gloria and Isabel.

Perhaps bliss is remembering a loved one’s smile.

P1020850

 

Developing your Eye Day Three

Water

Water: there is much about it that appeals. The fluid, almost magical way it finds its own level, how it soothes and abrades, sustains and dissolves, rests still and deep for years then, during a dry season, simply evaporates. DSC_0001
Water often represents our emotions; we are ‘flooded by our feelings’ or ‘deeply in love’ only to be ‘left high and dry’ when that love seeps away.
Today’s #developingingyoureye task was to try another wide, establishing shot and think about which orientation (vertical or horizontal) works better. I chose a horizontal perspective because I love the wide sweep of a seascape, the sense of something bigger than me, although one of my photos focuses on a small piece of sea grass. Had I decided to take a photo of the creek near our home I might have chosen a vertical format in order to represent its linear and enclosed nature.
DSC_0019  Yesterday was the warmest we’ve had for several months. Adelaideans did what they usually do on winter days when the sun finally makes an appearance: they stroll along the esplanade; sit drinking coffee and reading the newspaper; play beach cricket on the shore. The majority of Australians live, at most, three hours from the beach. It’s where we go for a holiday and many of us celebrate Christmas and certainly New Year at the beach. DSC_9993

Although it’s a big island, Australia is still an island. We are an enclosed, insulated community forced to fly off our island in order to access the rest of the world. Our obsession with the beach, with the sea, is double edged. Our isolation, in part, protects but also confines us.

DSC_9998Perhaps our regular visits to the beach are a form of homage to that enclosure, a homage tempered by the idea of escaping our confines so we can see what the rest of the world is up to.