88 posts categorized "Musings"

Count the feathers


Count the feathers on the beach / Long Beach Island, NJ / May 2008

I was thinking about the concept of "success through failure" -- how many failed inventions produced something valuable, even though it was not the "success" that the inventor was originally seeking. In the process of inventing, ideas change as information is gathered or a better idea comes along.

In life we often think that we want something or have a goal to achieve. We may find that even though we have "failed" to achieve what we set out to do, we have nonetheless ended up in a good place -- we have "invented" something that we couldn't have pictured when we started out. A failure in one sense produces a success in another sense.

The truancy of memory


Mitza's tour of her old neighborhood / Port Richmond, Philadelphia / March 2007

    “the truancy of memory”

I came across this wonderful phrase in reference to the book The Art of the American Snapshot, 1888-1978 (it was also an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art; view an online version here). In the book Sarah Kennel writes about photography in the 1920s and 30s: “Kodak began to stress use of the camera to counter the truancy of memory...”

My image, above, is not so much a snap-shot, rather it evokes the opposite of the “truant memories” for me. I have vivid memories -- snap-shots in my head -- of being in this neighborhood when I was very young. Cared for and watched over by my great-grandmother (Jelisava) and great-uncle. Memories of little bits and pieces of pictures and smells and sounds and feelings. Funny though, as I think about it, many of my memories are actually images of snap-shots from the old photo albums. My mother and her sister before I was born. Me in a stroller with my great uncle and brother in the park. The whole family dressed up and visiting on a holiday. I can flip through so many of them in my mind. Guess old George Eastman had it right.

Let yourself be free


Leaving little bits / August 2007

I keep thinking of Katherine Mansfield's quote from my last post . . . about leaving little bits of yourself in places you've been. Maybe that's why when you come back from a journey you feel like you're not the same person as when you left. And maybe a journey is a good way to “slough off” pieces of yourself that you don't want or need anymore. A convenient way to rid yourself of annoying thoughts and bad memories. Toss them onto the fences as you pass by, let the wind tear them into tatters, and let yourself be free . . .

Melt into essence


Snow-covered Lavender in the first snow of the season that had to be shoveled; yesterday in this same plot the tips of the lilies and crocuses were above ground / New Jersey / Feb. 2008

When it's cold, water freezes into ice;
when it's warm, ice melts into water.
Similarly, when you're confused,
    essence freezes into mind;
when you are enlightened, mind melts into essence.

~ Muso Kokushi

Breathe deep


Take time out to breathe / New Jersey / Jan. 2008

Breathe deep. OK. Breathe deep again. Breathe in. Breathe out. Studies show that breath-holding disturbs the body's balance of oxygen, CO2, and Nitric Oxide. Tension and stress can cause us to hold our breath without being aware of it thereby disturbing the biochemistry of the body and contributing to stress-related diseases. Breathe deep again.

“The immune system uses nitric oxide in fighting viral, bacterial and parasitic infections, and tumors. Nitric oxide transmits messages between nerve cells and is associated with the processes of learning, memory, sleeping, feeling pain, and, probably, depression.”
~ From a briefing document prepared for the Royal Society and Association of British Science Writers via Linda Stone

A newspaper in the tree


Newspaper delivered to my door . . . or rather, to my tree / New Jersey / Feb. 2008

I recently started a Sunday subscription to the New York Times. So nice to have it delivered rather than having to track one down around town. On Sunday when I looked out to see if the paper had arrived, the blue delivery bag was in the tree and the sections of the paper were sprawled on the ground. Does my delivery person have an artistic side, I wondered? (It looked like a modern art display that I saw in a gallery at the New Museum.) If you can't get all the papers you want to read delivered to your door (or your delivered paper goes astray), you can read newspapers from all over the world online at the Internet Public Library.

A newspaper hat


Newspaper pirates / Lake Chrisann / Sept. 2006

The newspaper used to be the perfect material to make a great hat (and sword). I say "used to" because it really doesn't work anymore. When they shrunk the size of the newspaper (due to the increased costs of paper, they said) I think the bigwigs at the papers neglected to take into account the fact that the reduced size would no longer have the right dimensions to make a hat that fit (even little-pirate-sized heads). Did they, I wonder, consider the effect it would have on our cultural and artistic heritage?

A page of newspaper


What is a crab feast without the newspaper? / Lake Chrisann / Sept. 2006

“A page of newspaper is like a wall of a gallery that hundreds of thousands of people can visit without being afraid to enter. You can be on a train, in bed or on a bench in the sun. But the exhibit is ephemeral because the following day, it's gone. It's become a piece of paper used to dry your boots or to peel vegetables.”

~ illustrator Serge Bloch

The task at hand


Edna hanging clothes in the backyard / Baltimore, MD / circa 1951

Seeing this picture prompted Auntie Mary to write:
    Grandmom hanging clothes in the back yard on Edmondson Avenue awakened many memories. On the coldest of days, Grandmom hung the laundry out of doors (no clothes dryers then). I can see her blowing on her hands preparing to hang the next item. In her house dress pockets or jacket were the clothes pins. The clothes line was propped up with clothes props. In winter the clothes would freeze on the line. Most noticeable was the sheets. They would be stiff because they were frozen when Grandmom brought them in. What happened with the sheets then, I think they were laid or hung by the furnace. When the weather was good, there wasn't anything sweeter smelling than to get into bed with fresh sheets that were dried in the fresh air.

“The posture itself is satori.”

    ~ Taisen Deshimaru

Satori means “understanding” and is a Japanese Buddhist term for enlightenment. It is said that satori can be reached by devoting oneself completely to the task at hand.