Stand With Me

Little Fictions, Ragged Memoirs on Indiegogo

DSC00616As someone who spends a lot of time searching for words, I am always relieved to find engagement apart from the written or spoken word. Don’t get me wrong, I love words. I’m using them now to give voice to the transformative power of dance.

And theater. I love movement with supporting visual orientation and Paula Josa-Jones is a master of the theatrical move.

But, as important as that is, it’s not why I’m writing. I’m here to tell a story. It’s about passion and commitment and collaboration. I’ve been photographing Paula since early in 1985. When I saw her in front of my lens I knew I’d been waiting for this mixture of innovative movement, comfort with the camera and an eye for detail that allowed my wild eye to flourish.

Now, when I talk about passion and commitment, I am not talking about us, Paula and me. I’m talking about Paula reaching out, asking dancers, set designers, and all those connected to production to plunge into their most authentic selves and come together to make truth in the work.

It takes courage and steadfast wildness to come to this place. And that’s where my story begins.

A few years back Paula was searching. We had moved here to the NW corner of Connecticut. Dancers were in Boston. Horses on the Vineyard where we had spent twelve years and major production of RIDE, dance theater with horses.

Now that I’m writing this, it seems simple. If you’re alone, do solo work. Duh. But then it was a revelation. Like a sword finally untethered, sharp and ready to strike. So, use it, duh.

When she asked me, I said, do a solo, you’re really good at it. But something had been hiding, Paula was shy. Who knew? Her company of beautiful dancers acted as a shield and we had chosen to live in a new place without “protection.”

She started rehearsing. Building this new solo work, Little Fictions, Ragged Memoirs.  This is a lengthy process and now – I’m not sure how many years later – performances, dance showcases, artistic residencies, 1000 hours of listening to music, collecting brilliant collaborators. looking at costumes and photographs – not all mine, check out her Pinterest site.

This is serious work. Important work. Evocative and smart work. She does her best, is doing her best. You too, please. Thank you.

Open the gate – you won’t be sorry!

Little Fictions, Ragged Memoirs on Indiegogo

The Messenger

whiteP5_whiteP5-R1-E029

My photo is just one of the many items named “The Messenger.” In my experience the concept of the messenger – as in don’t shoot – is the most consistently salient theme encountered. I was the messenger in my family – there were others before me – I don’t know if that’s why not many of them speak to me. I don’t know because they don’t say. There is no message.
Pema Chodron states that.. “feelings like disappointment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us whenever we are.”

Who do you listen to. What are you looking for? Do you see anything? Do you hear the messenger? Are you listening?

And, to make my point, this photo is the most consistently bought and used – program covers, magazines, set designs, in all sizes – that I have ever produced.

My Life As A Cat Post

When I sat down at my computer to write, my catfriend Tallula jumped up on my shoulder – as she often does. I thought well, I can show what it’s like to write at my computer with Tallula settled into her routine.

I get settled in too.

Then she has a thought.

A cat’s life is never dull

every moment is watched

never anticipated

which makes us happy

I thought that was a good thing to pass along. She’s right, you know. As is Liam, the sage.

Time for us all to take a breather.

In These Pages

I begin each day as a new day, a day of forgiveness and a day of gratitude. If I don’t, if I mistake the chance the day promises and take more of same, I am breaking a cardinal rule of this earth; “you can’t step into the same river twice.”

Sometimes a thing may feel familiar but, like the river, it has been going by, time has been going on and it has changed me and I have taken on the change whether I know it or not. It’s funny to me, who was raised in the 1950’s with science as the Holy Grail and the Grail idealized beyond recognition, that knowing something intellectually or being able to prove it based on scientific evidence is as woo-woo as anything unscientific, as any thing I feel.

So I am going to do something different. I am going to offer prints, for instance the above horse, for sale. When I put the button up and figure out how to get everything to work, you will be able to buy prints of my photographs and paintings or drawings when you want. You can always e-mail me for specific images and I will do  my best to get them in your hands.

I am also going to offer some meditations from time to time, if you could see them in my hands you would see their wrunkled, dog-eared beloved selves.

Fading And Not

These hydrangeas are so abundant this time of year, we used them for Bimala and Jeff’s wedding on Saturday by the hundreds from our garden. In buckets, adorning tent poles, and table settings their delicious white blossoms everywhere.

We use the frailest of nature’s offerings to endow and support our deepest rituals and desires. If I want to bring a smile or warm the heart of anyone I know, I have only to proffer one of these fragile delights.

In my world the next most valuable offering is a heartstone – thanks to living on Martha’s Vineyard for some years where collections reach gigantic proportions, I am familiar with the resonance the wear-sculpted stones have on the hearts of giver and receiver.

And for me, as a writer of this blog which gives me so much, I find such comfort in your comments. It is such awesome magic that I can write and share myself with you and then be given your distinct and generous voice which inspires my heart to open to the allowing that we share.

Travelling

 

I went a long way to get this shot. A few miles, yes, some equipment, film in canisters to avoid the airport x-rays. But really what I’m talking about is how I grew into this shot. I travelled a long way in faith to take what I see and believe in it enough to let it be. To let it stand by itself.

The other part is my muse, Paula, who allowed and asked to be in my viewfinder, on my emulsion, in my life. We are together in that. This is not solo travel.

She loves to put herself out there in rocky territory. I do too. What you can’t see is where I’m lying! There is a lot of washed up detritus on this our favorite beach on the windward side of the island. We love the raggedness of it, the unexpected objects, the harshness we can encounter before we go get some wonderful French delight. This is St. Barts, the rugged, no crop, no slaves  island peopled now by wash-ups and French settlers – the originals were the Caribe Indians of whom nobody has anything good to say, but who are not here to defend themselves.

This is part of our work together. I get to see it everyday, get to revisit us and the mindsets who created our visions. We get to look at photographs, dances on video, paintings to  explore the mysteries of our minds and hearts. We are lucky beyond imagination and we have our imaginations to thank for all this. We travel. We love the Journey.

Balance

There is no such thing as a simple life. If there are four agreements or four holy truths, you can bet they’ll be a lifelong interaction of complexity, daring and destiny shifts.

Words are simple too. Sometimes I don’t spell them correctly or have to look them up – I love dictionaries, now that is complexity made simple! Keep your eye on the ball, say what you mean, tell the truth. More complexity and lucky the person who can feel and know who they are. Even luckier to take responsibility for same.

Holding ourselves and being held are some tools for self awareness. The triangle balance of asking for help, accepting same and knowing who you are is like a milking stool that supports you when the cow/life kicks.

Balance is not a trick. It is real. The ingredients I know best are showing up, paying attention, telling the truth and being open to the outcome.

 

Cat TV

Cats don’t need to worry about blocking input. Turning off their senses is not available, in fact it’s immaterial. Cats – and most all in what we call the animal world – have finely tuned interior moderation. When we think we are being ignored by them, we are.

My cats have advised me to turn off the Twitter/Facebook/SmartPhone noise the better to listen to what’s here, what’s always been and will remain long after the rubbish middens are dust; the spirit of each one of us. Long after the heart is still, long after breath is settled somewhere else, the energy of the soul expands into its next iteration.

I am ignored often by cats. Especially when I photograph, they think my efforts are futile. Why don’t I just look at the thing, whatever it is? Why do I have to put it in that silly black thing? Good question. Yet I pursue the ‘silly black thing.’ I seek them for guidance, I think they are right about looking through a lens to see what is in front of me. I think I look through the lens like Alice. Looking for something I’m not finding anywhere else.

But I don’t part with the cats much. A few scuffles about our world views – not too divergent, really. We think along the same lines when it comes to the economy, military-industrial complex and so on. We really agree for the most part. It’s just I’m human and must defer to my nature, as they to theirs. We are true, the both of us, and I regard their advice and support as life giving – and I pick up yummy things for their creature comforts – bits of yummy snacks and heated beds.

 

Nibble of Spring

Horses’ lips are incredibly sensitive, tender, selective and strong. They are everything you want in a friend, lover or parent – I’m sure anyone can add to that list! A horse, in a matter of milliseconds, can separate out what they want to eat, don’t want to eat and what they will save for later. The last category goes pretty much unfilled for a horse, their sense of the future being minimal.  The act of editing is so valuable. Discrimination gets a bad rap when you look it in the face, but if used to avoid a pitfall of any human order it is invaluable.

Animals I have lived with have been my teachers in this. I learn watching them raise their young, and, while it took me quite a while, my cat Peaches taught me all I need to know about raising my children. I just needed more time than she gave me. In seeking life’s work I had only to watch my horse or dog teach me over and over again – not always patiently – that doing what I am suited for is the only way to go.

This is my dog Beeker, he is in the first batch of canine professors I had. His buddy Bibsie used to sit outside the door of my parents’ kitchen and shiver when she saw one of us. She would stop when we turned away. She taught me a lot about the world of pantomime and the truth of the gesture.

Beeker would defend me or my sister from anyone. Pictured here I have a rope around him. I remember well searching for that rope. It was about connection, making a bond visible, palpable, discernable. Not about keeping him with me. He is with me still.

I grew up with corn like this I took yesterday near my house. I remember planting it, weeding, pulling suckers, weeding, picking. I remember the time when everything is a teaching, every moment holds a kernel to grow. It still does. I have to be there. With my sensitivity, tenderness and selective strength. I have to be here.

 

Now and Then

 

Current flowers, 40’s vase, painting of my young horse who is 15 now and my great grandmother’s art nouveau lamp.

All are so familiar, so me, so lived with. All part of my continued existence and current pleasure.

Each night the cats and I and Liam curl around. There’s a trust issue here.  Liam stretches and bares his stomach, the cats purr and shift. I push softly as I can stretching to the end of the bed, making myself a cat plank. Pachi moves me where she wants me and we all shift around. There’s room. There’s enough room. We can relax . We lie like babies, trusting and fully resonant.