Saturday, February 7, 2015

Is Orange the New Black ? - A Haibun of Sorts

Someone asked me recently if I thought 80 might be the new 60.  I wondered, irritably, I might add, why in the world she would ask ME that question since I'm nowhere near 80 or even 70 for that matter?  How in heaven's name would I know?

For me, whatever age I am is a new adventure and some years have been a slide down while in other years, I have seemed to gain ground.

Take for instance the year I took up running. I was 57 years old and by the time I had been running for two years, I was thinner, stronger and healthier than I had been at 50.   Then came Rheumatoid Arthritis and with it, enough pain and stiffness to take running off the table. For almost two years, I was without an effective treatment and unable to exercise at all.  The downward slide was all too evident in those years.

crying child
orange balloon
just out of reach

My mental attitude was even more important than my physical condition.  At first I resented the betrayal of my body and I was angry. Stubbornly I decided I would not exercise until I could run again.  Call it denial, call it stupidity, whatever it was, I did not benefit much from that attitude.

snow moon
the brim of her hat
too wide

Once I accepted my body as the gift that it is, I began to move again and found that I really LOVED walking - long hikes at the beach, in the woods and in the city.  I realized I had missed so much while running and now I could enjoy the sights and sounds, particularly of nature, in a whole new way.

deep shade
just off the path
a blue heron

One of the triggers for R.A. is high levels of stress and my doctor suggested I take a look at what kinds of things were stressing me and how I was responding to that stress.  I began a meditation practice.  This changed my life in ways that are still a challenge to describe. 

stone Francis
outside in February
a dove perch  

I use several forms of meditation, each one adds significantly to the quality and joy in my life. They include contemplative prayer, breathing exercises and guided meditation.

 As you may know,  I have an active practice of writing Japanese short form poetry especially haiku.  This kind of writing brings my mind and senses to the present moment - and once I began to live in the present, I discovered, it is not only the best place to be, it is the ONLY place to be.

 winter snowfall -
a lotus blooming
on her kimono

Monday, December 22, 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fun with Photography 'Apps'

 Don't get me wrong, I love my camera and the photos it takes.

 But recently, I discovered that I can change the look of my  photos

using a myriad of 'apps' on phone , tablet or computer.

 I was, of course,  aware of photoshop and that it could do lots more but, at first,  I was too timid to experiment with it.

 What I didn't realize was that there are scores of 'art' apps and photo editing apps that will alter photos to look

like watercolors 

or oil paintings.

and literally hundreds of other styles too.

I have been creating haiga using my photos for several years but recently began to experiment with altered photo images, such as these.

It is very enjoyable for me to put the photo through several 'apps' to get different effects.

Once I find the most pleasing image,  I use another program to add the poem to the image.

 These photos were taken last fall during the leaf-peeping season and depending on the mood I want to create

                  they can be very vibrant or muted.

I am not an artist but I do take some pretty good photos  and it has given me great pleasure to learn how to turn the pictures into 'works of art.'

Here is a completed haiga which was

published in the Winter 2014 edition of  Akitsu Quarterly

Take-Away - it is never too late to learn new tricks.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Gifts of Early December

Winter is almost here. 

 I can taste it in the coolness of the air. 

 I can see it on my breath. 

The time has come to dial down the noise and spend some quality time meditating and praying. 

For me, early winter is the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, when I like to skip away from the bustle of preparing for the holidays and spend some quiet time in the woods.  

It isn't terribly cold yet and the sun obliges with shadows that are only this interesting once a year. 

My eyes notice textures and colors that are obscured by the green and gold of other seasons.

The light is free to play on the water.

And the mauve and gray tones compete with black and white in the late afternoon clouds.

The hearty birds stand guard over the wetlands and provide company for a solitary walker.

My heart feels bigger in the last weeks before the solstice.  I find so much to contemplate in the silence of the woods.  Everyone else is somewhere else and I can find all the gifts I need, right here in the woods. And I give thanks for them!

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