Sunday, January 27, 2008

Writing Contest

I think that writing is craziness. It is for me. I just finished the writers weekly 24 Hour Contest. It's sweet torture and the only relief is to submit. Having not submitted at times in the past I can tell you that it does NOT feel good. Sure, it's only $5 to enter, but I'm haunted until finished.
I look forward to these weekends and I hope I am off work. I don't know why because I tend to write better on the weekends I am working. Less screwing around. I must say that this weekend I got more cleaning, shopping, reading, grooming done than when not writing. I took the tv off the shelf and dusted behind it. I moved the shelves. Old photo albums were thrown out. Magazines tossed. Even the dog got her nails filed.
At first I was excited and I went to bed early Fri night in anticipation of going to Ashbridges Bay to take some early morning photos before the snow started, and to be in a relaxed but alert mood when the topic was posted (1 pm. my time). For the first time I turned off the alarm and didn't go. This gave me strong feelings of self-loathing the second time I awoke.
It was snowing. No camera today! So I looked at the topic and felt sick. Nothing. Blank. Only cliche ideas.
Out for groceries I didn't need. Stayed in the store 2 hours waiting for the guy to make me a chicken-pot pie from scratch because they were out for today. I read a lot of magazines and a lot of labels. Put the pie in the freezer when I got home.
I stared at the blank monitor for about an hour then edited the topic about 50 times. I had a nap. I woke up and had a ranting conversation on msn about genre fiction.
I promised myself I'd get up early and to take some photos so the whole weekend woudn't be wasted. I settled back to bed with a photography book. I had a spark of inspiration (as I always do after I have decided it's okay not to submit). I opened the word processor and typed like a fool, finishing and submitting in one draft. For once, just bloody once, I'd like to write like a normal person with an outline and several drafts. omg but this is insane!
Now it's early morning and I want to celebrate by taking some photos but it's SNOWING! Don't want to wreck the camera........ so I'm blogging.
I think this is explained nicely in Steven Pressfield's "The War of Art" and also by Stephen King in his book about writing. Margaret Attwood wrote about organizing, discipline and procrastination. Bill McKee says writing is the hardest thing you'll ever do. So, I'm not the only one...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fable: A Tale of Tails

Once upon a time in a land far away there was a family of spider monkeys. They swung from the trees using their tails as much as their limbs. Because of this, they did not require clothing, backpacks or hiking boots. They lived happily and freely, roaming the forest and jungles without a care in the world. (Okay it's cliche and semimental but stick with me here.) On occasion they would bring their dslrs and telephoto lenses with them.

In fact, they were called the tribe of "hand-helds", unlike their cousins whose tails had withered away to nothing from nonuse and thus were called the tribe of "encumbereds" because they carried their cameras in one paw. This tribe was popularly known as the "tripods".

I'm looking at tripods. I don't want to. I don't want one. If I don't want blurred photos and repetitive stress injury from lugging a heavy camera/telephoto, I'll be getting one. So, I'm looking a heads, gears, legs, alloys, brackets and more stuff in order to find the most freeing way to encumber myself. This has to be the driest aspect of photography! I think it would be easier to grow a tail!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Okay, there's precipitation again on my day off - had a dentist appt or I would have gone to the zoo in the am - at least you can go in the pavillions with the camera while the weather is not suitable. The guy who said the D300 came bundled with bad weather wasn't joking...
Went out in the hall looking for something to shoot. BooBoo the hall cat, a good expressive standby, took off when the neighbours' dog came in. The dog was far too close for the lens I was using and the owners wanted inside so I only managed to get a couple in. Outside it was snowing so I could only stand in the doorway because I'm not yet ready to shoot through a hole in a plastic bag with the new camera, but if this weather keeps up I just may take the D40 and get out there anyway.
Looking at tripods. I'm still in denial, thinking I don't need one. Perhaps the monopod will be like the D40: something to show me that, in the end, I should just take the leap.
Looking forward to the weekend because I plan to go down to the lake with the camera, and I will no matter the weather...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


Today I again was realizing how much I have to learn...
Spent a good 3 hours with the jaguars and monkeys, getting the settings right and waiting until the animals calmed down enough to be enticed to make some eye contact.
Will be very nice when the technical stuff becomes second nature so I can relax into getting the shots I'm envisioning.
Met a very cool person today. She's a talented and perstistant photographer who does what it takes to get the job done. Got to admire that kind of passion and discipline.
In the meantime I'm looking out toward this world of photography, challenging myself.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Up Early

I woke early in anticipation of zoo day. I go for the exercise, the camera practice, my love of animals. What I do at work is intense and stressful. The camera provides a balance, helping me to be as focused, kind and present as possible. It doesn't always happen that way but it is an ongoing project.

I'm aching to go into the bush with the camera and a compass, but in winter it's not such a good idea until I get inserts for my hiking boots. Rather than winter boots I chose the hikers 'cause they're absolutely waterproof. Still like new, they have served me well for 10 years. Thing is, I spilled liquid laundry detergent into one of them last spring - and forgot about it! The insert, insole, whatever you call it was ruined. Can't wear the boot without it.
Last evening while at work I called shoes stores and sports stores - very hard to describe the thingamajigger that goes there - can't buy these objects online: they need to be tried in the boots. Store clerks are scary - they all have everything I've ever wanted in-stock and on-sale, if only I would venture into the store...My two best bets are Sporting Life at Yonge and Eg and Marks Work Wearhouse/Coast Mountain-Sportcheck in the Eaton Centre; it's too bad the two places aren't closer to eachother. I may try downtown first after returning from the zoo because I don't want to walk around Y&E in the rain.
It's now 0710 and I need to get mobile in order to get to do the whole circuit before the rain starts.

Monday, January 07, 2008


Oh, the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person; having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but to pour them all out, just as they are, chaff and grain together, knowing that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then, with the breath of kindness, blow the rest away . --George Eliot

When ambivalent, vascillating between careful precision of apt words and the gift of trust and spontaneity, managing one's relationships can be a lot of work. Time to be serious. Time to relax. But what the hell, I can't word it any better than GE.

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying "I will try again tomorrow". Mary Anne Radmacher

A good friend sent me those words in an email a few weeks ago - a friend who has held onto her humanity in spite of having experienced the worst kind of loss.
Experience alone doesn't make a person capable, nor does time. Actively living does, regardless of doubt, fear, or hopelessness. It grows from the making of a choice and it is deliberate.
Courage is as much a product as it is a tool, and it strengthens when utilized. This is the reward of challenging oneself, of persisting. I will try again tomorrow because I am certain that when I try I will expand myself.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

I'm Back

Hi all,

I'm back after a long absence, engaged in a newfound serious hobby: photography

June 23 I bought a Nikon D40 and fell in luv; the beginning of Dec I added a D300 and now I'm driven.

I'll start with something that stuck in my head after spending some time with the primates at the Toronto Zoo: every once in a while you have an intense exchange of emotion and intimacy with another living thing - and when you capture it with the camera it's called a portrait.

I find it fascinating that with both writing and photography words and images are a reflection of the perception of the image maker. Both can be intensely personal, although this is neither necessary, nor sufficient to create compelling work...