Thursday, May 29, 2008

...could it be?

It has occurred to me that there is actually a fifth season in central Oregon: Springter. The region has been teased with a few isolated days of actual spring-like conditons and even a day or two of near-summer temps. Then the rains and cold return and everyone goes about
their activities mumbling to themselves. Fortunately I've had a lot of inside work to do on the master bath renovation, the downside is the opportunities to get out on the bike have been limited. Then, yesterday, the large cold front hanging over the northwest began to move east and you could feel the change.
I watched the clouds dissipate over the 3 Sisters and then in the late afternoon while on my way to a social function with the Deschutes Land Trust I saw the full-on beauty of Mt. Jefferson. For me the season has certainly moved into what's left of Spring. There are other changes happening as well. Allison finished her McClatchy high school days in Sacramento and will graduate next week. We'll attend and then help her relocate to Sisters and her summer job, then on to the University of Oregon in September. My first TKR (total knee replacement) is three weeks away and the new master bath with the walk-in shower will get a lot of use. Change is upon us and it feels great.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sisters of the Quilt

Oh, had I a golden Thread
And needle so fine
I've weave a magic strand
Of rainbow design
Of rainbow design.

In it I'd weave the bravery
Of women giving birth,
In it I would weave the innocence
Of children over all the earth,
Children of all earth.

Far over the waters
I'd reach my magic band
Through foreign cities,
To every single land,
To every land.

Show my brothers and sisters
My rainbow design,
Bind up this sorry world
With hand and heart and mind,
Hand and heart and mind.

Far over the waters
I'd reach my magic band
To every human being
So they would understand,
So they'd understand.

Words and music by Pete Seeger, 1958

Sisters, Oregon, May 22, 2008.
A room in the home of Jan Sims is filled with lively chatter over whirring sewing machines. Colorful strips of fabric, mostly in the patriotic colors of red, white and blue, are being cut, pieced together, sewn and ironed. This group of women, and they are among many across the country, are Hero Quilters.

The American Hero Quilts began in the Seattle area in 2004 as a way to say thanks and provide a bit of comfort for Iraq war soldiers recovering from battle injuries. The movement has spread nationally. Sisters, Oregon, known for it's scenic beauty, artistic community and exquisite quilting was a natural fit for the women who volunteer their time, and most often their money, to make the Hero Quilts. During the weekly sessions, there isn't talk of politics, the war or other issues that get in the way of the work. It's all about the quilts and the thoughts of who will receive them.

One-hundred-four quilts have been donated in the 18 months the group has been active. Another 30 or so await the computerized quilting process and the women keep on cutting and sewing. Their reward is knowing that the veterans who receive them find comfort and a tribute to their sacrifice.

The group received a letter recently from a mother of a wounded son.

Dear American Hero Quilt Ladies,
My name is Ranae Simmons. Last week at the Warrior Transition Battalion you
presented my son with a hero quilt. I am writing to tell you about my son and
that quilt. My son did not want to come and get his quilt. His Sgt. said they
had to make it an order that he come down to the common room. He was one of
the last to receive a quilt as you were packing up. Perhaps you remember him,
he is the the very quiet man with haunted eyes. On Friday he had rather
extensive surgery with several bone grafts and skin grafts. My husband and I
were stunned when he appeared at the hospital with his quilt. He has not
shown an interest in anything or anyone since he was injured. The last thing
he asked before they wheeled him away was that we keep his quilt with us and
make sure nothing happened to it. When he woke up his first words to us were
not how glad he was to see us, it was "do you have my quilt?" He asked that it
was immediately put on him, he said he was cold.

I have been thinking a lot about that quilt and my son. We thought we had lost
him emotionally and we despaired of ever getting him back. He was not connecting
with anyone in our family, not even his nephew who he has adored since our little
guy was born. This quilt seems to give him comfort, warmth and is the first sign
that maybe our son will come back to us. This quilt is clearly something that
you spent a great deal of time on. I just wanted to let you know that to us,
this quilt is hope and to our son it is priceless.

Thank you so much for the honor you have done to my son. From our family, thank
you for helping bring our son back to us.

Ranae Simmons.

This is Memorial Day weekend, the traditional first weekend of summer. Despite gas prices the traffic over the Cascades on Highway 20 is heavy. People going on with their lives, to have fun, recreate, enjoy the freedoms that are essentially taken for granted. For the veterans who are dealing with their injuries in hospitals and in their homes, the concept of freedom and it's cost cannot be displaced by a long weekend of camping and fishing. The best result is that a beautiful quilt from the Hero Quilters will begin to say "thank you." Hearts and hands can bind up and bring hope to a sorry world to those who saw their duty to make the world a better place to live.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Moving On, Vol.2

After the overwhelming response to my first compilation CD,

Moving On, Songs In Transition

yes, all two copies, I've forged ahead with

Moving On, Vol. 2: Music for the Journey.

(Laugh here). Now, seriously, the music I listen to is varied, acoustic based, and contemplative. The tracks on the new album, all instrumental, have relevance to me and hopefully you, another listener.

The tracks are:

The Hymn Of Ordinary Motion: J. Douglas, R. Barenberg, E. Meyer

Over the Rainbow: Tommy Emmanuel

Big Bug Shuffle: Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenberg, Edgar Meyer

Send In The Clowns: Tony Rice & John Carlini

Pastorale: Ray Lynch

Take Five: Dave Brubeck Quartet

You Deserve Flowers: Chris Thile

California Quail: Joe Weed

Mendelssohn: Songs Without Words,
Book I, Op.19, Andante con moto: Luba Edlina

Vivaldi: Concerto In D Major For Lute, Strings & Continuo: Frederic Hand

Three/Quarter North: Leo Kottke

Ashokan Farewell: Jay Ungar & Molly Mason

Arms Of Mary: Leo Kottke

Bygone Days: Eileen Ivers

A Whiter Shade of Pale: David Lanz

Deep At Night: Alex de Grassi

The Dark Island: Neal Hellman - Joe Weed

Closing: Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy

Goodnight Irene: George Winston

There are two reasons for this album: One, each track reminds me of a particular point in my life when the music was absolutely perfect for the moment. I can (and will on request) describe the event(s) that made the piece a part of my audio archive. Just one for example: Bygone Days. I heard this piece while enroute to Grass Valley, CA to photograph a memorial service for Adam Strain, a Grass Valley high school graduate and star football player and an Iraq war causualty. It was being played on KVMR, the public radio station there. I later contacted Brian Terhorst, the d.j. on the program "Harmony Ridge" who told me that he played the song because he was thinking about his father he never knew who died in the Korean War.

Should you be adventurous, all I need is an e-mail address so we can connect and go from there. The album is free, a gift from me to the visitors of my blog.

Photography and writing is the core of my blog. The music is the third dimension.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Big Picture

It hasn't been since completing the deck refinishing project last summer that I've felt every ache and pain from a big home project. My sleep and my motivation to keep going is impacted. I'm nearly done with building the new vanity and linen cabinet in the bathroom remodeling project and it's not any too soon. I'm glad I don't do THAT for a living. I took a short break yesterday to make a few images for the Deschutes Land Trust of the Oregon Game & Fish Dept. planting steelehead fry in Whyshcus Creek where it flows through Camp Polk Meadow. The photograph of the guy hauling the fish upstream is exactly how I feel these days. Trying to make progress going upstream.

The concept I need to remind myself is of the "big picture." The issues of daily life, sometimes trivial, irritating, painful, or quite serious for many reasons, are all part of that. A researcher who has studied how some segments of the world's population live long lives (to 100 +) has published a book and newspapers are picking up the story. I read about his research in the Bend Bulletin.

Common to all the groups are nine factors. Dan Buettner’s nine tips for longer life, from his book “The Blue Zones”:

1. Move Naturally. Be active without having to think about it.
2. Hara Hachi Bu. Painlessly cut calories by 20 percent.
3. Plant Slant. Avoid meat and processed food.
4. Grapes of Life. Drink red wine (in moderation).
5. Purpose Now. Take time to see the big picture.
6. Down Shift. Take time to relieve stress.
7. Belong. Participate in a spiritual community.
8. Loved Ones First. Make family a priority.
9. Right Tribe. Be surrounded by those who share Blue Zone values.

I think I'm right there on most of these points (maybe not so much of 7 or 9) and it is not surprising that taking time to understand the big picture is akin to understanding the "space between the leaves," that Carlos Castenada wrote about. Considering then the overall sceanrio of my life allows me to share that
Diane and I celebrated our 12th anniversary recently. It is not about the number of years, it's more of how we got to this point in our lives separately, then together. That is a big picture. We decided to get married and had a little personal ceremony in Yosemite National Park in 1995. That's the photo on the left. We're 13 years later posing for our camera along Tuamlo Creek near Bend, Oregon. There are great stories and wonderful moments between those two photographs. Our lives move together easily and allow us both to try to live like were are in a "Blue Zone." I don't expect to live to 100 though. Just another 30 please?

Thursday, May 08, 2008

A convenient collaboration

I have a saying, "Work is what you do when you wish you were doing something else." So I must simply be tired from not working. I took a break from my cabinet making and went to the Sisters Athletic Club for an hour spin class and then went out toward Redmond to see how Dayton was doing.
He was just finishing carving around the bear's feet. That completes the rough profile of the 15' sculpture. From now on the work will be far more detailed and days will pass before there are obvious changes. Fatigue is one of our common bonds and we acknowledge that. Dayton is first to say that he appreciates my company and that my time with him has
motivated him. My response is that I like being around and watching his progress. I know that our separate arts are meant to be together for this project. I am more fortunate. Being new to central Oregon I've looked for ways to continue my photographic journey, my life's work (there's that word again). My days with Brent McGregor, the dancers of the Sacramento Ballet, the Deschutes Land Trust have brought many nice moments.
Also, the spin class two days a week brings a good dose of wellness and more opportunities to expand friendships outside of photography.

In six weeks, however, the whole scene is going to change. My first knee replacement is June 23rd. I'll be pressed to find interesting topics to write about or photograph and I will not bore anyone with endless accounts of my recovery. I'm just hoping that I can have Diane drive me out to see Dayton. I'd hate to miss too much of the convenient collaboration we have going.

Oh, by the way, just to answer the old question, "does a bear shit in the woods?" Yes. And carved bears drop huge piles of sawdust. Dayton knows. He gets to shovel the latter.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Philosophy and a chain saw

For two years Dayton has been planning this project and for the past nine days he has begun to reveal his vision. The platform has been lowered as he carves his way down the log. The bear has come out of redwood hibernation. Dayton after the first pass through the log is tired.
The chainsaw, an older Stihl model, is heavy and he feels the effort every night. During the carving
his mind races ahead to where the carving will go. And, there is an unexpected thought as he pauses and walks away from the platform to get a fresh perspective, to study the scale and plan for the next round of cuts.

He shared with me that he contemplates how many millions of years it took to produce the gasoline and oil he uses in his saw, the evolution of man and the technology necessary to place him in front of the massive redwood log at this moment in time to carve his bear, the epitome of wildness in an era when the Earth's viability is in jeopardy.

In that regard I think about my place in this little drama on the high desert of Central Oregon: The web of life, all the years of photojournalism that taught me to recognize a good story in my own backyard and the sequence of events, professional and personal that led me here as well.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Wind in the sails

It has been a week since the slightest amount of snow flurries. I've been deep into the demolition of our old master bathroom and trying at the same time to keep up with the incredible progress Dayton is making on his bear sculpture. He captured the essence of how this week has gone for both of us. "I've got wind in my sails." This is the
artist fully involved, concentrating as he slices into the log that will become the epitome of a wild creature. Within another week he will have completed the first layer of cuts. The platform will be raised back to the top of the bear's head and he will work more intricately to define the face, mouth, belly, arms and legs. It is only a matter of time and energy before the
bear looks less like Winnie the Poo and more like a well-fed, cantankerous bear with a serious attitude. So, despite the bathroom renovation, Dayton's project, weird sleep patterns, daily life continues to be exactly what I expect: no day is the same and that suits me just fine.