Category Archives: lightning

Outer Banks (OBX) …

here I come.

Or nearly so.

I have packed the essentials; camera, lenses, filters, chargers and tripod.

I don’t wear make-up or jewelry and have the fashion sense of an oak tree.

I don’t do bars or hangouts
because, for the most part, people make me antsy.

I like to photograph them, from afar, but making genial conversation isn’t really my forte.

I prefer deserted beaches, four am sunrise stakeouts, solitude and the extraordinary beauty of creation.

Extraordinary, by the way, is one of the most useless words in the English language.

If I don’t want ordinary, why would I seek extraordinary.

Because I do and because ordinary rules of photography mean nothing to me.

I follow the light … seek it, find it, adore it, interpret it, read it, succumb to it, belong to it.

I’m not like everyone else, so in my own way, I am extraordinary, which, according to my own admission, means I am useless.

A dilemma, to be sure.

But I am a photographer of creation, so dilimmas are my chocolate coated candy with sprinkles.

I. Am. Me.

It is all I know how to be. 

So I be it.

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         Janette’s Pier at sunrise

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                    Bodie Light

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         A Chameleon turning blue

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A few difficult days …

are, once in a while, good for me.

They remind me that I am stronger than I think and that gives me confidence.

Confidence makes me manic, which is my baseline normal.

I like being manic as it makes me think clearer and feel empowered.

Right now, all is right with the world.

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              My favorite marker

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          My favorite Lighthouse

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               Sunrise in my world

There is something about rain …

the sound of it, anyway, that is mesmerizing.

I love it.

I find myself getting lost in it.

The soft sounds or the heavy, torrential pounding that a good storm can produce.

Imagine my joy when I recently learned that there is a musical instrument that can make the sound of rain.

It is called a rainstick and, as with all things that are new to me, I had to find out more about it.

What is it?  Where does it come from?  What is it made of?  What makes it work?  How does that sound get inside?

I asked all of these questions and went in search of answers.

I found them.

I was told only that the sound of rain in a friend’s musical composition was made by a rainstick which he described as “a percussion instrument that lets pebbles cascade over small spikes”.

With that image in mind,  it was hard for me to imagine something other than plinko.  You know, drop the disk and let it bounce off spikes and hope it falls into the slot you were shooting for.  It is a game, one of pure chance, and I was not about to be satisfied with that.

After researching the rainstick, I found the history of it to be most fascinating.  So fascinating, in fact, that I almost forgot why I was looking it up to begin with.

As it turns out, the origin of the traditional South American rain stick isn’t known, not definitively, anyway.  Indian tribes in Chile, Peru and Mexico all lay claim to having invented them, and one compelling theory contends that African slaves who arrived in the New World during the Spanish occupation brought them.

The euphonious sound of the traditional rainstick were supposedly once thought to have the power to bring rain and was used in prayer ceremonies among the Aztecs as well as others.  The sound was so lovely, however, that it made its way into the making of music, something that is as old as time itself.  Music.  And, now that I think about it, rain, as well.

The rainstick is made primarily from the dried Eulychnia acida, or Capao cactus after it has lived a long and healthy sixty plus years.  The “arms” are harvested, dried, cleaned and  hollowed out.  Spines are pushed into the hard body of the cactus and many very small stones are sealed inside.  When the instrument is inverted, the stones cascade along the helically spaced spikes making the sound of rain. (There are likely other varieties of cacti that rainsticks can be fashioned from, but Capao came up consistently in my research.)

Ingenious.

As with everything else, however,  it had to be classified, reclassified and sub-classified.  It is now known to be part of the percussion/shaken idiophone family.  The shaken part is, as any music nerd can likely tell you, a sub-category of the idiophone.  Me?  I had to look it up.

I listened to the piece that drew my attention to the instrument over and over while writing this post.  I listened to it because it is brilliantly done and pleasing to the ear.  The fact that is was written by a friend was coincidental, but he doesn’t need to know that I found such favor with it.  Don’t take my word for it, though, take a listen and judge for yourselves and then decide if you can live out the rest of your life without owning your own rainstick.

I decided that I couldn’t.  I’m expecting it in the mail by next Friday.

It has been a long few days …

or has it been weeks?

I haven’t posted anything new.

No blog posts.

No photographs.

Nothing.

I have been in a holding pattern of sleepwalking, nightmares and erotic dreams that leave me confused, wondering and bewildered …

and all the while, trying my very best to make it, without losing my cool, through the seemingly endless days and eventful nights.

I have had patients cry on me, their families strike me, people pulling at my heartstrings which are linked directly to my tear ducts and during all of this, trying to find out if I am to blame for something I had no control over.

I wonder if I have severed a crucial friendship and have already began to mourn the loss of it.

I have a way of ruining beautiful things because I rarely feel worthy of them.

I have slept outside, sent messages I wasn’t aware of and tried desperately to hold it together.

A difficult few days, indeed.

But tonight changed all that.

It came a storm.

A big one, with lots of lightning and torrential rain.

Normally, during such an event, I would be set up on the porch with my tripod and camera, but this time was different.

This one wasn’t to be documented and photographed.

It was to set my spirit free.

And it did.

I stood on the porch with my jeans and t-shirt, getting soaked.

But as time passed, I wanted no earthly barriers between me and the blessing that God was giving me.

A cleansing.

A fresh beginning.

Letting the past be past and bygones be bygones and memories no more than a blip on my radar.

One piece of clothing after another was discarded until I found myself standing nude and vulnerable under the rain, with the lightning flashing, the thunder bellowing, echoing between the mountains and valleys …

tears running down my face.

I prayed to a God that I had decided had forgotten me.

He hadn’t.

I think He was just waiting for me to remember Him.

It was frightening.

It was freeing.

I was liberated from the hold this world had on me.

I was, for that span of time, one with nature and the God who created it.

I still struggle with the emotions and thoughts in my head, but He designed my brain and is well acquainted with my mindless and sometimes senseless ramblings.

He doesn’t hold them against me and so I won’t hold them against myself.

Not everyone believes in my God.  I don’t find fault with them.  I know what I know, they know what they know.

I can only be who I am and, despite all my faults, and they are many, I feel at peace.

And despite that, my friends who don’t believe in my God like me anyway.

I am humbled by that.

Just  as I accept them, they accept me.

With our differences of opinions and thoughts.

It is irrelevant.

Isn’t that what it was supposed to be like?

Love one another?

Are my thoughts still burning through my head? Yes.

Do I still sometimes feel out of control? Yes.

Do I have someone to share the thoughts and emotions with? Yes, and I am thankful for them.

Do I wonder if I am making the right choices? Yes.

Following Christ doesn’t mean that everything is just peachy.  In all honesty, it is the opposite.

I don’t do it right, I never have, but I hope to at least encourage somebody along the way.

And selfishly, I hope to be encouraged.

I wonder sometimes if I am nothing more than the punching bag of the universe.  I don’t mind it if it keeps someone else from suffering, but every now and then, it wears on the soul.

And then, an incredible storm comes, I stand in the rain, and all is right again.

The circle of life.

It is what it is what it is what it is.

It is what we make of it that counts.

So make it count.

a beautiful human, inside and out.

a beautiful human, inside and out.

what is it about dreams …

that seem to plot the course of the day ahead.

I have always, nearly without fail, remembered in detail and almost painful clarity, my dreams.

Sometimes they are of strangers and other times, erotic and provocative images and happenings of and including  people I am acquainted with.

Images that have no business being in my head are there and they tempt me to try to relive them in reality as well as in the dreams, of which I have no control, in which they were born.

I don’t make a secret of them.  I share them with the cohabitants of my dreams, often to my regret afterward, but nonetheless, I find that the ability to lie escapes me.

It doesn’t help matters that I, on occasion, am a blabbermouth and just blurt things out at random.  A curse and one of the things that, were I able, would immediately change about myself.

Those, I think, are more disturbing than the bloody, murderous ones for they are more realistic and leave me feeling vulnerable and exposed.

And then there are the non-dreams that are climatic in their own weird and distorted way.

I am certain, given facts that I am sure of, that I sleepwalked last night.

Things that were present when I went to bed were missing and no evidence, anywhere, of their disappearance, could be found.

I looked.

In the trash.

Under the couch cushions.

Under my mattress.

I know what was there and what is now missing so either I walked (and ate chocolate Nekot cookies) in my sleep, or there was an intruder who only wanted my cookies.

And who, pray tell,  breaks into a house leaving a priceless collection of vintage vinyl and takes only chocolate-peanut butter cookies.

Especially if they know me and know that I sleep with a very large cast-iron skillet capable of causing a serious brain hemorrhage or, if aimed just right, instant death

Nobody, that’s who.

So since the latter is improbable, I have only left to assume that I am, once again, up to my old tricks.

Walking and performing tasks, like eating, cooking and cleaning, in my sleep.

It disturbs me on some level that I do things in the night that I don’t remember.  It should disturb me.  It should disturb anyone.

But I know the cause, or at least I think I do.

For several weeks, as anyone who knows anything about me knows, I was manic to the point of being carted off by the men in white coats.

I thought it would never end and once it did, I missed it immediately.  That rush of feeling, the power of confidence that, in a normal state, I lack.

But one phase which lasts so long does not go without the alter-ego phase coming in to claim their share of the  psychosis.

I call it psychosis because what else is one going to call it … hyper to the point of explosion one moment and despondent to the point of mediocrity the next.

I live this every day, every week, every month.  One would think that by now, I would know what was coming next.

I don’t.  And people who try to pinhole me into their idea of normalcy don’t either and end up doing nothing more than pissing me off.

As do those who lie to me. Or make excuses instead of just being up front.

An omission or generated excuse is no better or worse than a lie and I put them all in the same bag.

I expect people to be straight with me no matter what and if they aren’t then they immediately lose their credibility and, as far as I am concerned are no longer relevant in my life.

I no longer listen to their words for they are, from that moment, nothing more than blather.  Filler because they can’t think of anything useful to say and therefore are useless to me on any conceivable level.

It is disappointing to me to think that I have friends who pretend to understand me only to find out that not only do they not understand me, they have no intention to.

Valuable time wasted if you ask me.

I try to conserve the space in my mind for those who actively want to be a part of my life.  I realize that I try too hard to make friendships sometimes.  I find people who pretend to understand me but have no real inkling as to who I am or what makes me tick.

It is a disappointment to realize that I have been, for lack of a better term, led on by their pretense.

But in time, all is revealed and life goes on.

I don’t hold it against the pretenders because in all essence, I have better things to do than hold a grudge.

But I will be more cautious in the future.  Once a manipulator, always one.

Funny, isn’t it, how they don’t see themselves that way.

Life. Goes. On.  and that is just the way of it.

I may be hanging, at times, by a thread, but in my mind, I am happy simply to be hanging.

Until next time, be well, be yourself and know that whatever you learn today will be most useful at some point (unless is is geometry and the jury is still out on that one)

in reality, what dreams are made of ...

in reality, what dreams are made of …

I am not a fan …

of Mother Nature’s pranks … her dark clouds, whipping wind and errant bands of rain should not be allowed to play with my emotions.

It is, on many levels, unfair, to anticipate the power, brilliance and soothing qualities of a wild summer thunderstorm only to find the clouds whisked away; the sunlight filtering through, laughing and dancing as though it were there all along.

Dark clouds, upturned leaves in the wind, the enticing smell of rain in the air … these things tell me a storm is imminent.

I quiver in anticipation as I prepare to absorb the extravagant power of it.

The mood of it.

The overwhelming presence of it.

And then …

As though it never was, it is gone.

I hear many folks complaining about the rain.  I don’t complain about it, even when it threatens to wash me out of my valley.

I love the sound of it, the feel of it, the thought of it.

Add some thunder, lightning and wind and I am in my own personal Heaven.

Nothing, at least to my way of thinking, is quite so soothing as the sky split open by slashes of lightning while the rain falls; big, fat drops that soak the earth and water the trees all the way to their roots.  The sound of thunder, bellowing, rolling, rumbling is a beautiful thing.

It reminds me that I am alive.

That I am a part of, however insignificant, the whole of the world.

The sky, the grass, the mountains, the trees, the wind, the rain, the clouds … I am part of each of them and they of me.

For a space of time, we are one with one another and I am as free as the birds that inhabit the space between earth and sky.

It is hard to feel insignificant when surrounded by such incredulous power and energy that beats within my heart and soul and takes me into itself.

I am the storm.

I am the lightning.

I am the thunder.

For those moments when I am standing in the midst of the chaos, I am one with nature.

If there is a greater feeling than embracing the full fury and magnificence  of an awesome storm, I fear it; I’m not certain that I could bare the emotional and physical magnitude of it.

I’m content with the storm.  Nothing else is required.

lightning

sudden, immobilizing sadness …

is one of those emotions that catches me unawares.  When I least expect it, am most vulnerable to it, haven’t the strength to fight it; it strikes.  I don’t feel sadness everyday.  As a matter of fact, I rarely feel sad and yet …

there are moments.

Moments when it feels as though the whole of the world is upon my shoulders and my soul is stripped bare.

Then, out of the blue, a thunderstorm approaches.   I find myself on the back porch, tripod in place, waiting patiently for the the lightning; the strains of piano from my favorite music playlist resounding through the darkness as the photographer in me readies for the beauty that seems to be displaying itself just for me ….

And then ….

much to my surprise and unexpected, heart-lifting joy …

the first lightning bugs of the season appear in their magnificent beauty.

I wonder, as I watch them flicker playfully among the trees and grass and rocks if they they know how much I have longed to see them.  How much I have missed them.

They are magical, as they blink and fade before my eyes.  I feel, at this moment, that they are here for the sole purpose to encourage me.  To give me hope and to lead me to a place that is full of light and beauty.

Do they know that I have been looking for them … waiting for them … wishing for them?

The lightning that encompasses the oncoming storm dims in importance as I find myself mesmerized by the display of mother nature’s incredible display of magnificence.

I am encouraged.

They encourage me.  I wonder if they know that … if they understand how much comfort they bring to me.

I wonder if they understand that I have been waiting for them, if they know how much they calm my overstimulated system, my aching heart, my yearning soul.

I can do this.

I can face that which paralyzes me … that which takes me back to a  desolate time when my heart shattered in my chest …. when time stood still.

We all have those things that bring us joy in the midst of sadness … friends who listen to our laments and judge us not.  We have them.

We often take them for granted, at least I know I do …  take for granted that they will be there in our time of need, but we have them; and they are there, without fail, when we are vulnerable and struggling simply to breathe, to live, to move from one moment to the next …not to judge but only to hear our thoughts and fears.

No judgment.

No harshness.

No rebuke.

No unsolicited advice.

No condemnation.

Only understanding , often in silence, as we fight our demons.

I am thankful for the lightning bugs.

And I am thankful for the friends who tolerate me, even when I am intolerable.

I am blessed well beyond what I deserve.

Thank you, Lord, for the lightning bugs, for friends who understand me and for loving me even though I am, many times, unlovable.

I count my blessings and they are many.  While I am sorry that there are others who have stood in the rain, blinded by the sheer magnitude of the sorrow, they, as I have, have made it through the rain.

We are one, we are many and we are survivors in the midst of adversity, sorrow, death and pain.

We made it.

Amen.