Monday, March 23, 2009

Moving around in body and spirit can often bring you in confrontation with a Black Swan. The idea of "The Black Swan" is not necessarily new. In fact there is a New York Times Bestseller by that name with the subtitle "The Impact of the Highly Improbable" by Nassim Nichloas Taleb which I highly recommend you read. You will need all your powers of concentration so sit down quietly in your favorite reading spot and come in contact with the unpredictable. I have only read The Prologue and The End - in other words the beginning and the end of uncertainty. It does happen to all of us in our lives - sudden happenings or accidents that no one can predict. It happens in my photography. I own a Holga camera, a $15 dollar plastic camera that holds a roll of 120 black and white film and must be taped securely to prevent light leaks. The lens (if you can call it that) is simply fixed, no aperture settings, no shutter settings. Just as in the original Kodak Brownie, push down on the shutter to take the picture. There is a viewfinder of course but what you see is not always what you will get. I am usually pleasantly surprised. Once the earth curved and the sky above the marsh opened so wide that I thought God, in the form of a lion's head, was pouring a waterfall in full force upon my head. Another time I pointed the lens at the reflections of a boat in the water. What a strange image resulted - so abstract that a painter might have been proud to have thought to paint it. I am chafing to read on, to recapture the awe and wonder that we lose so early on in our social and educated lives and to connect with my images. As I move from one hemisphere in my right brain to the "other side" I wish to open my imagination so that the workings of the improbable are visible. There are lush meadows in the fields of randomness and I intend to explore them. Perhaps soon I will post images on my website. Watch out for waterfalls!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Talking with Friends

Talking with friends who matter leads to the gift of laughter. Fortunate am I to have friends who not only are caring and supportive but who possess a wonderful sense of humor. For example the giggling threesome driving to Tai Chi early on a Saturday morning (including yours truly) rocked the hills and dales of Amesbury with their laughter as they scuttled towards the studio. I cannot actually divulge the subject of that conversation but you can create your own images and go with them. It's a great way to find out if you have a sense of humor.

I can however repeat what another good friend said some hours later about the subject of "bats." Now this is a subject of which I have first hand knowledge having lived with a family of bats for a time in my old manse in Reading, Mass. They lived up in the attic and were prone at times to sail down three flights and swish around the foyer (usualy when I had company around who were more than vocifrous in their response to such actions) until I ran to open the front door to let them free. This was in the daylight, mind you, not a time when ordinary bats are inclined to fly.

But to my friend's story. She was once a nun and at the convent there were many bats hiding here and there. With long handled brooms the nuns would busy themselves sweeping high and low to dislodge whatever errant bat they could find. It gave them good exercise and plenty to talk about. One day, when my friend had finished all her chores - the scrubbing of floors, the washing, the ironing, the cooking, etc, etc., she returned to her cell and happened to look down into her bucket. There was a bat resting on the bottom of the tin bucket. What to do. She took her mop and plunged it into the bucket on the head of the bat and banged and banged until she was sure that that bat was no more. Now her room was next door to the head nun's room who stuck her head out of her door and wanted to know what all the noise was about. One word did it. "Bat," said my friend, and the head nun's door slammed shut. Certain that the bat was no more, my friend lifted her mop from the bucket to reveal the dead little body of the bat. She looked closely. Where was the bat? There was only a pair of black dress shields in the bucket!

There is an ending to that story which entailed speaking once again with the head nun but I can't remember just how she put it. Something like" Well, Sister......, that was a lot of noise for dress shields," and her door closed more softly this time.

I move around in funny circles.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Winter and Taxes

2008 through 2009 a long winter's night. Today in the fifties and a spot of sunshine on my back deck. Stepped out onto the wet wood, (we are just trying to get rid of three feet of snow!) inhaled deeply and knew that soon spring would come. Even the birds were actively singing when I drove to the refuge on Plum Island. But with a fine day come lots and lots of people. I think I prefer the quiet of nothingness, way out there by the salt pans. They are still frozen; no birds yet, but last time in the Parker River a gaggle of geese floated downstream. Finished a draft of my taxes today and feel relieved knowing I don't have to support wars with my money. Moving around has been difficult this winter and I long for the sands and sun, for the breezes of spring and summer, and the freedom to move around.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Earlier Times

I guess that I am really not a "blogger" for this is the first time since this summer that I updated my blog. Perhaps the impetus came from watching an interview with Arianna Huffington by Charlie Rose. Arianna has written the definitve book on blogging and her insights showed that bloggers can, indeed, change what happens. Well, I don't figure on changing anybody's mind or fortunes with what I write but here are a few thoughts on current society.
I have the good fortune to have a one-on-one relationship with a young woman who wishes to learn more about darkroom photography. We had a session today in which she learned how to make a contact sheet and print one of her own negatives. Her sparkle and enthusiam keep me on my toes. What I did realize was that the years which separate us...and they are many...also separate us in language. She refers to "earlier times" (perhaps she is thinking of the 20's as olden days) as simply "the day" when speaking with me. "Ah, you mean in the old days, " I replied. She laughed and then later I used the expression "pleased as punch." Again she rose to the bait and remarked that that must have been a saying. Then I laughed. I think it is all this text messaging that deprives some of expressing themselves a little more fully.
Well we manage to understand each other anyhow and I am glad for the chance to make a point that language today needs to be paid attention to. And hopefully our new president will support that contention.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

the day after the storm

white sheets covered
the streets
tucking in the corners

with icy fingers curling
underneath the cobblestones

and down beyond the frigid surface
in the warm and murmuring earth beneath

ancestors rumbled, bleating out complaints
until the sidewalks heaved
and spread apart to release
their breath into the cold air.

high street warmed with buds blooming
spring, airlifting

March 2007 Pat Bashford

Monday, July 7, 2008


Along with the almost daily thunderstorms this month of July, come the rumblings of other thunderheads in the mind. Thinking about perception and the way in which we see and observe makes me realise that we experience emotionally as well as physically common sights - and even uncommon sights. For example, as I lean over my back deck railing I look down on the largest elephant hosta in existence. That hosta has been growing for over a decade and now it has become an invader in my small back yard. But it always makes me smile because I can literally feel the strength not only of its power position but also of its tenacity. If I turn my lens upon it either close-up or from above, the two dimensional product will act as a weak sister to the actual sight of it. It's a rumbler on its own!



The window facing East
on my third floor
catches the morning sun
spotlighting the two spires
and rising between them
a small hillock of lacy branches
serving as a bridge
uniting our spirits.