Sedona Sister Trip

It’s Spring Break in my life, and my sister and I are on our fourth Sister Trip hence the two day lag in my regular posting schedule.  We haven’t taken a trip together in a few years, so we were looking forward to this one.  We met in a destination both of us have wanted to visit for quite some time, Sedona, Arizona.  It’s a beautiful area in the high desert of northern-ish Arizona.  Towers and spires of red rocks cover the area.

We both love to hike and went on one short hike to Bell Rock before we even checked into the hotel.  If you walk around to the back side of the rock, you can get almost up to the top. We got about half way up before stopping, sitting for a while, and then heading down. It was lovely but pretty crowded with people.

Bell Rock

The area is covered with “vortexes,” and Bell Rock is one of the stronger vortexes.  So far, I’ve been to three vortexes that I’m aware of. According to our hiking trails guidebook, a vortex is described as “subtle energy . . . it is very real, and those with a stronger sensitivity to intuition, energy and emotion are able to feel it” (Andres, Denis, Sedona’s Top Ten Hikes, 10).  Entire books are devoted to the Sedona vortexes, and I was pretty excited to “feel” them, but apparently I’m not too sensitive to intuition, energy or emotion because I didn’t feel much different in the vortexes than I do anywhere else.  The hikes, however, have all been beautiful.

On Thursday, we hiked to “Devil’s Bridge.” Generally, I am not a fan of walking near tall scary cliffs as I don’t like heights, but perhaps the energy in the area helped with this fear because I traipsed out onto the bridge without giving it a second thought.

Megan on Devil's Bridge

Today, we hiked to Cathedral Rock, another vortex site. We hiked up around the left side of it, went off the trail a ways, and sat quietly meditating for a bit. Despite the heat of the sun, the rocks stay incredibly cool.

Cathedral Rock

On our way down from Cathedral Rock we came across Buddha Beach on Oak Creek where people have built cairns all over. I love rocks and cairns so the entire beach made me happy.

Buddha Beach

On the flight to Phoenix, I was reading Kurt Vonnegut’s novel The Siren’s of Titan and read the following passage which is a description of Miss Fenstermaker, who teaches in the school on Mars.  “Her office was crammed with ungraded school papers, some of them dating back five years. She was far behind in her work – so far behind that she had declared a moratorium on school work until she could catch up on her grading. Some of the stacks of papers had tumbled, forming glaciers that sent fingers under desk, into the hallway, and into her private lavatory.  There was an open, two-drawer filing cabinet filled with her rock collection” (145). It made me laugh out loud as I can so relate to the poor Miss Fenstermaker.

Tomorrow is our last day here before heading back to the real world and responsibilities. Like Miss Fenstermaker, I have stacks of papers waiting for me on Monday morning, and my suitcase is full of rocks that I’ve picked up on my hikes.  But my spirit is definitely feeling refreshed and relaxed.  If only I could, like her, declare a moratium on school work, life would be perfect!

What’s the story behind this trailer trash?

Last weekend, on yet another road trip across the lovely state of Nevada, we saw one of the more interesting sites I’ve seen in the desert.  It was a fence (maybe), but not just any fence, a fence made out of old single wide trailers and dying RV’s, literal trailer trash.  There is a story behind this fence, though I’m not sure what it is.

If fences are built to either keep unwanted people or animals out, or if they’re built to keep wanted animals or people in, what, exactly, is the purpose of this one?

Or is it not a fence at all? Did somebody just decide to line up their old trailers to keep their trailer trash orderly?  It’s not really surrounding anything, functioning as a fence might, so is it even a fence? I’m not sure.

When we first saw it, my husband and I started laughing and I asked him stop to photograph it.  He kept saying, “What? Stop? Why?” By the time he understood that I wasn’t kidding, we were too far past it to photograph, so we had to stop on our way home.

I’ve been thinking about this fence all week.  Generally a fence is built serve some sort of purpose. If you’d like to read a funny tale about gates and fences, check out the short fable titled “The Vigilant Rabbit” in David Sedaris’ compilation of modern tales, Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary.  The entire book is funny and entertaining, but in this particular tale, the gate represents power and the gate keeper’s ability to control the movements of the other forest animals.  The problem occurs when the power hungry rabbit forgets to build the fence around the gate, and the gate does nothing to keep out the riff-raff.  This trailer fence reminded me of the gate in the David Sedaris story, a valiant attempt to serve some sort of purpose but one that doesn’t make it, by a long shot.

Visually, this fence is fascinating too as it sort of meanders across the mountain’s base.  Perhaps its actually a giant sculpture.  I’ve been considering what this would look like in a quilt.  But I’d have to figure out the story behind the fence for that quilt.  I wonder how could I tell it through fabric?

One happy, or possibly annoying, result of writing or any creative endeavor for that matter is continually thinking about stories and possibilities. What is the story here? Any ideas?

9 Reasons I Miss my Film Camera

This little roll of film made getting pics so much easier.

Last weekend, my husband asked for one picture, a single lone shot he took.  When I went to get it off my camera, I discovered that every single picture I’ve taken over the past year and a half was still on the memory card.  Oops.

It took me an entire afternoon and evening to get the pictures onto my computer, sorted, labeled, and edited.  It has taken the rest of the week to get them uploaded onto a web site, so I can order them. As I’ve dealt with all these digital images, I’ve been thinking about all the reasons I miss the days of film and negative strips:

1)  I take far too many pictures with a digital camera.  It never runs out of film, and I can just delete the bad shots which makes taking 1000’s of pictures easy.  With film, every image cost money to develop, so I was much more particular about the shots I took.

2)   It takes hours of precious time to deal with my overabundance of digital images.

3)    I can no longer shove a roll of film into an envelope, drop it into the Kodak box at the grocery store, and pick up the developed pics a few days later.  The photo people took care of everything, saving me lots of time.

4)    Editing bad photos merely entailed tossing the crappy ones in the trash, the actual can underneath my desk, not a virtual recycle bin on my desktop.

5)    Before I get an actual picture, I have to upload them to my computer, sort them into folders, edit them, and upload them to a site before I can order them.  The other option is to take my memory card to Wal-Mart on a Saturday with every other person in my small town and wait in line to use one of their machines to develop my shots.  Neither of these options is quick or ideal.

6)   I no longer have film canisters lying around to store random odds and ends or make to fill with something for a quick baby rattle.  The only ones I have left are the ones my husband’s grandma gave us full of the different State Quarters.  Did you know that a film canister fits a stack of quarters perfectly?  I’m not sure my kids even know what those handy little black canisters filled with
quarters were originally used for.

7)   I now have a phone that takes pictures.  When we used film, my camera was the only “device” I owned that took pictures, and I didn’t carry it everywhere.  I have far too many opportunities to take photos which I then have to deal with.

8)   Did I mention that it takes far too much time to take organize and print digital images?

9)   In the next week or two, I will receive 800+ photos in the mail, a huge amount.  In the happy days of film camera, I got my pictures in perfectly manageable bunches of 24 or 36, depending on the roll of film I had purchased.   After my monster order arrives, I will have to spend another hour or two sorting and filing all these photos, getting them ready to put into an album, so we can actually enjoy them.  Isn’t that the point?  I won’t get started on the amount of time it takes to put them in albums and write about them.  I can’t blame that problem on digital cameras, though, so I’ll leave it alone in this post.

Perhaps my problem is not the camera, but the fact that I love photos.  I enjoy taking them, putting them in albums, writing the stories behind them, and looking at them.  The only real solution here is to abandon photography altogether since I seriously doubt film cameras will ever make a comeback, and abandoning photography is not a solution.

Maybe I should just deal with my photos more frequently than every 18 months.  I think I’ll try that.

A Noisy, Impatient Spider

Spider web in the Redwoods

A noiseless patient spider,

I mark’d, where  on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;

Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,

It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;

Ever unreeling them–ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,

Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,

Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, –seeking the spheres, to connect them;

Till the bridge you will need, be form’d–till the ductile anchor hold;

Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

-Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

I almost just want to say . . . “nuf said,” as this poem perfectly captures both the photo and my own journey right now, but . . . I can’t.

My daughter took this shot on our vacation to the California coast and the Redwood Forests last week.  I hadn’t seen the shot until I uploaded the pics off the camera when we got home.  Not only is it an amazing photograph (at least to me -  her completely unbiased mom), it reminded me of Walt Whitman’s poem, “A Patient, Noiseless Spider.”  I almost cried when I re-read the poem.  I hadn’t read it for years, but as soon as I saw the photo, I remembered the last line of the poem.

It’s interesting how our memories work.  Right now, this poem has far more meaning to me than it did the first time I read it as an undergrad twenty some years ago, and some little part of my brain remembered it, dredged it up for me to re-read when it actually means something to me.  I had it all figured out then.  Now?  Not so much.

Unlike the spider, I am not so patient or quiet, despite my best efforts.

Like the spider, I too am ever unreeling and speeding out threads, “musing, venturing, throwing – seeking,” praying that they catch, connecting me to my purpose here is on this earth.

I am on the right path.  I am writing, I am creating. I am exploring, spinning threads, and I will keep throwing them out there until I have created something as lovely as this web in the sunlight.  And maybe, just maybe, somebody else will think so too.