Category Archives: travel

When the wheel never stops turning …

life can become more of a trial than a joy.

The thought process becomes so discombobulated with the inundation of information and images that simply focusing on what is relevant becomes a near impossibility.

My family and friends know that some of my blogs are about them.  They are about life as I live it, so how could they not be?

This particular blog is about photographs that aren’t my own; photographs I want to take.

It is about images I want to see with my own eyes, not through someone else’s.

It is about the words that surround the images.

It is about the music I play that enhances the images and the words that describe them.

It is about the the things I dream of.

These statements alone make me sound like some kind of fanatic, but I’m not a fanatic.

I am a photographer.

I am a writer.

I am (somewhere in my soul) a musician.

I want to see, write and hear for myself.

Experience the heat, the cold, the adrenaline, the magic, the music, the inspiration, the awe.

I work for a living so that I can traipse around to places I want to see, photograph them and then write about them.

It may sound as though I am putting down the importance of nursing, something I have done for 25 years.

I’m not.

Just today, a patient made me cry when he told me that I was a bright spot in his day and he looked forward to my visits more than he did meal-time.

If you have ever been in the hospital, you know that meal-time is one of the highlights, and so I felt very moved.

But I wanted, more than to speak with him and encourage him, to photograph him.

I have been on a photographic journey, teaching myself, learning from others, finding God in the creation He so beautifully paints, for more than 30 years.

It is my center.  My sense of self.

My life is made up of images.  They rotate through my head like a never-ending carousel .

Image after image after image after image.

And the words.

Mrs. Campbell in eleventh grade gave me the courage to have  confidence in my words.

She was my favorite teacher and the one, above all, that I remember the most.

And yet, I digress. (But thanks, Mrs. C)

I can’t even begin to explain, with all of my words, what the words, when coupled with the images, does to me.

It shatters me on a level that is the most perfect shattering a person could ever hope for.

I wonder sometimes if I am vain.  I certainly don’t think much of myself, so that kind of vanity is out, but the images … I like them.  I want others to like them.  I desire, not to be famous, or even rich, but to simply be able to live out my life doing what I love.

I don’t think that is too much to ask, but therein lies the vanity.

I look at myself and see nothing special … I look at the images I see through the eyes God gave me and I see great things.

I don’t mind, particularly, sleeping in my car.  I don’t need much more than toast-chee crackers and an occasional diet Dr. Pepper.

But I need to see.

To experience.

To feel.

I want to know what a North Dakota winter looks like, what a New Orleans Summer smells like, what driving along the coast road from California to Washington State feels like.

I want to see the beauty, to feel the air, to see the endless flat road of Kansas extending out in front of me.

I want to taste the fog of San Francisco and breathe the vastness of a Montana sky.

I used to think that I wanted too much, but a wise woman (my mamaw Daphne) told me “some people want the simple and others want the extravagant  … wanting is wanting whatever the dream may be”.

She taught me to not be ashamed to want the things I want and dream for the things of which I dream.

If I can see the things I want to see, I won’t need others to show them to me and if I can play the piano myself, I won’t long for someone else to play for me.

So my dreams are this … to see my country and then see Ireland, to play the piano and to have a jeep, preferably red .

That is the extent of the the dreams I have for myself …

I have much deeper and greater dreams for those I love and cherish, but myself?  It is the simple things that stir my heart.

I have hope.

I have faith.

Nothing else is required.

It will happen when it happens.

And it will happen.  Of that, I am certain.

Until next time, be well, my friends … be well.

And don’t forget to dream.

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I’ve recently returned to Earth …

from a musical journey that altered the perception I have of music and, perhaps more importantly, the percipience I have of myself.

A few months ago, I was introduced to the musical genius of Gustav Mahler.  I was taken aback by the way his music touched me, moved me and the joy that it brought to my soul.  The profound effect that it had on me was, however, inexplicably isolating; moreso, in some ways, than the other eccentricities that keep me balancing just on the cusp of the world around me.

I had a burning desire to share the brilliance and excitement of it.  I found, though, that I could no more explain the way it touched my spirit than I could the way that words and images fill me up.  After a time, I spoke of it less and less and held the wonder of it inside myself like a caged bird.  I spent many nights lying in bed thinking of it and praying that when the morning dawned, comprehension of its magnitude would become evident.

I made plans to attend The Cleveland Orchestra for their performance of Mahler’s First Symphony and thought I would go mad waiting for the day to arrive.  Having listened to tens of dozens of hours of his compositions, I was, in my mind, prepared for what I would experience; I wasn’t even close.

From the first bars, I was riveted.  The music soared through the grand concert hall, covering me with a power that I simply wasn’t expecting.  Hearing it performed live was like nothing I could have imagined.  It moved me so esoterically that I wondered, at times, if I would lose control completely and be asked to leave.  I was overcome with emotion and was left, by the end of the concert, beautifully, wonderfully, unimaginably drained.

For a time, I was unable to speak more than a few words about it as it swirled and churned inside me, weaving itself into the very core of my being in a way I didn’t realize was possible.   At some point during this time, I was reminded that to fully understand music is to have no real understanding of it at all.  It is its own language and changes even as it stays the same.

I ascertained that sharing the overwhelming impact it had on my life was irrelevant for even if I could put my thoughts into words, the intimacy I shared with the music was mine alone.  I was, in that singularly, enlightening moment, set free from my own expectations.  I knew then that I didn’t need anyone’s understanding of my perception of the music or how it moved me or touched me or sustained me.

I was, in an instant, irrevocably changed for the better and for that, I am thankful.

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Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise ~ Psalms 98:4

an exciting or remarkable experience …

is how Merriam-Webster defines adventure.  I believe that to be an apt definition and find myself in such situations regularly.  I love driving along deserted country roads where flowers spring up in the hot days of summer.  Putting the convertible top down and heading to the high places with the sun on my face is sheer ecstasy.

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I have favorites; roads, bridges, trees, rocks, trails.  I love them all, but I do have favorites.  Often, I start to one place and find that, without actually being aware of it, end up somewhere else entirely.  It is these times I like best for I end up where I need to be to find that which I seek.  Sometimes it’s a photograph, other times, it is nothing more than silence ensconced in the beauty and rhythm of nature.  In these places of solitude, shadow and light, I think my thoughts and dream my dreams.  These are the quiet, lovely adventures that leave my mind clear and my body strong.

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I can’t compare my solitary escapes into the wilderness to the whirlwind trips to D.C, St. Louis, New York and Las Vegas.  Those were very different adventures.  They were full of noise, lights, crowds, smells and frenetic energy.   There was no peaceful silence or slow, lazy days.  In those places of chaos, shadow and light, I tried very hard to hold onto my thoughts as the world unfolded before my eyes.   While in Las Vegas, amidst all the opulence and grandeur, there was a welcome respite; a drive through the desert and across Hoover Dam.  That was an awesome experience.  Even with my mind boggled and my body tired, it was awesome.

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I’m certain that none of what I have experienced thus far will be comparable to the one I am on the cusp of experiencing.  I am going to a place I’ve never seen in a city I’ve been before.  Lord willing, I will have an orchestral experience that has the real potential to blow my mind with its magnitude.  I haven’t even left yet and I already feel altered somehow.  I suppose it is the excitement.    This era of my life is a precious window; my time, my place.   I don’t plan to waste a minute just watching it pass.

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I am just as at home everywhere …

as I am in only one place.  As I look over the past several years and think of the places I’ve visited, it occurs to me that the short stay I had in those various cities and towns, in the air and on the roads simply wasn’t enough.  I needed more time.  Weeks.  Months.  Not just days.  There were things I didn’t have time to experience, time I wasn’t able to spend wandering around in and absorbing that which, although unfamiliar, was as familiar to me as my own backyard; people I didn’t get to meet and sit down with.  There was food I didn’t get to taste and sheer beauty, of which, I wasn’t able to become a part.

I suppose such words are those that only one with wanderlust can understand.  Everywhere feels like home, at least for a time.  The people are different but so similar, the air smells different, but is, again, essentially the same.  The roads all lead somewhere, the sun rises, the sun sets, the moon shines, the stars twinkle and even though I haven’t actually seen it yet, I know it is will be beautiful.  There really isn’t anywhere on earth that I can think of that I could lay my head and not, at least for a bit of time, feel at home.

Last night, I started driving for no other reason than to be somewhere other than where I was.  I was driving West.  No radio.  No sound at all except my wheels on the road and the thoughts in my head.  It was very cathartic.  After about one hundred miles, though, instead of continuing on until I came to another ocean, I turned around and headed from whence I had come.  It wasn’t my time to go; not yet.  While my family and friends are perplexed by my consuming need to go, I know in my heart that there will come a time that I will leave them.  It won’t be easy, but it will be necessary if I am to fulfill what has been predestined for me.

That sounds so mystical, but it isn’t.  I have dreamed of it my entire life.  There is nothing mystical about hoping to see a life-long dream fulfilled.  I sometimes feel selfish when I think this way, but I have to remind myself that there will be no one else to live the dreams I dream; no one but myself.  I will follow the will of my Father God where His wind takes me and I will do my very best to honor Him no matter where I lay my head.

There are so many places I want to go; some I’ve already been and want to go back again.  I don’t care, really, if I have a place, other my car, to rest when I get weary.  Where I stay is the least of my concerns; what I see, though, well, now, that’s a different story altogether.  It isn’t that I’m not content where I am, it is simply that there is still so much of creation that I want to see.  No, that isn’t right. If I only wanted to see it, then it would just be a passing thing.  I need to see it.  To feel it. To breathe it.  To taste it.  To touch it.  To stand in it; whatever “it” may be.  And need surpasses want on every level.

I consider the people of the world to be my family and friends.  I don’t think of them in colors, religions or nationalities.  They are just people.  We are not, in our hearts and dreams, dissimilar.  I suppose some of my optimism spills over into what I perceive the world to be, but at the end of the day, I need to know, to learn, to experience.  I want to see for myself and not rely on the eyes of another to mold my perceptions; not live vicariously through the stories that have been told.

There will come a time, if God wills it, that the places of my dreams will become places of my reality.  I can wait, for nothing  truly worth waiting for is time wasted.

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Proverbs 3:6 ~   in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

 

When the words I dearly love mean nothing …

then I know that I am in a fix.  The words are there, the right words, but they are so jumbled and discombobulated that when they come out, they aren’t right.  They are harsh or meek or, worst case scenario,  make no sense at all to anyone but me.  I lash out at the ones I care about for no good reason at all.  I expect them, since they know me, or say they do, to understand, but it doesn’t make it fair.  It doesn’t make it right.

Right now, at this moment, it takes all of my concentration to simply string words together in a coherent sentence.  Knowing this and knowing that I have conversed with people I care about about in my current state of mind brings about something that, while I am adept, they really have no experience with.   I was told recently by a friend that they were sorry they caused me anxiety.  I don’t have anxiety, I have racing thoughts that, at times, coincide with an intense “non-emotional” state.  It isn’t sadness.  It isn’t depression.  It is simply the absence of emotion.  And the absence of emotion is never, ever a good thing.

I called my mom tonight just to hear her voice. She doesn’t try to fix me or offer advice, she just listens as I tell her how nuts I feel.  And I do feel nuts, whether I really am or not.  That still remains to be seen.  She listens to my thoughts and says to me “we’re here if you need us”.  And she means it.

When I told her I had to get out of here for a while, she didn’t question it, but only said to let her know where I was going.  I have no idea where I’m going, but the ocean is calling to me.  The ocean, it is said, has no memory.  That is what I’m looking for.  Something without a memory.  Something that will not recall the harsh words, sobbing tears or indifference that, over the past few days, I have felt.  Maybe I will make it there and maybe, by the end of the week, I will be back to myself.  Either way, I cannot stand to be here for a second more than is necessary.  And dumping on the people in my life is not the answer.  I don’t know what the answer is, but I know that doing so is not it.

After work on Friday, I will start driving.  What direction is, as yet, unknown, but I will drive until I get where I am going.  And once there, I hope I will find what eludes me at the moment.  Sanity.  Pure and true sanity with a calm mind and rational thoughts.  I will let my  mom know where I am because she asked me to; as for everyone else, there seems no real need.  I am an anomaly in their lives.  I don’t hold it against them. I am an anomaly in my own life; how can I possibly expect someone else to know what makes me tick when I’m not certain myself.  A solitary life.  For the most part, it is the perfect solution; except, of course, when I filet the people I care about because I come to a point where control is  nearly impossible.  Yes, for the most part, a solitary life would be the perfect solution.  I rely on music to get me to a point when I can, once again, speak coherent thoughts.  I am grateful for the pianists, who play the notes my mind sings, that keep me, on some level, sane.  May God bless each one of them.

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John 14:27 ~ Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid

In my mind …

I’ve gone to Carolina.  Yes, it is true that James Taylor may have said it in a song … and yes, it is true that I spend much of my dream time there … and yes, it is true that there is no place on earth I would rather be than on the pristine, protected beaches of the Outer banks.  All true.  All real.  I have been toying with the idea for the past couple of years to take a trip there and maybe, if the chance arose, to spend another night, unnoticed of course, in an alcove in the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  That is a story for another day, though.

Tonight, as I was designing custom greeting cards for requests, which I rarely do, but just felt in the mood, I came across some old photos of the Outer Banks.  There are many places I have been in my life and have enjoyed each and every one of them, but none of them have had such a hold on me as the Outer Banks of  North Carolina.  I can’t really pinpoint what it is about that little slice of land that calls to me as a siren … beckoning me to come and stay, to live and frolick in the white sand and play in the lighthouses.  It even makes me want to ride a horse on the beach and I can think of nothing I would like less than to ride a horse.  They terrify me on a level that is second only to spiders, but in that place, at that time, I would do it; and do it willingly.

There is something about the Outer Banks that seems to belong to me.  It’s not mine, not really, but in my heart, I feel that I belong there.  I feel that there is a place reserved just for me.  That sounds a bit conceited, but what, in the life of a dreamer, doesn’t.  When someone dreams about something they want so desperately, are they not at the center of the dream?  I have never been accused of having an ego and would agree with that non-accusation.  But I do have a very vivid imagination and there is nothing that I can’t conjure in my mind.  In my dreams, things always go my way, always end up as I wish they would and there is always a  very handsome, very tall, five-o-clock shadow man just waiting for me to arrive.

While dreams are fine and dandy, plans are another thing altogether.  I’m not much of a planner, but more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of person.  I find great pleasure in getting in my convertible, putting the top down and simply ending up somewhere, wherever it may be.  Plans were made to be broken, deadlines were made to be missed and life was made to be lived.  It I didn’t have to work to put my daughter through college, I would have been gone already.

It always seems to perplex folks that I want to experience New Orleans in the middle of summer with the stench that comes from the heat rising from the Mississippi, but how else can I experience it in the purest sense than then.  Or to sit on a frozen lake in North Dakota in the middle of January.   Who in their right mind, unless they live there would want to do such a thing?  Me.  I want to.  Again, how else can I experience the reality?  I don’t want to be a tourist just passing through these places I dream of.  I want to be part of what makes it what it is even when it is not pleasant.  I want to experience a Minnesota Winter, a San Diego Spring, a Washington State rainy season, the miles of sunflowers in Kansas (and a tornado, if I’m lucky) and to see the whole of Texas.

Then there is Austria, Ireland, Germany, Italy and India just to name a few.  There are so many places I want to see that it is depressing to me to know that I will never be able to see them all before I die.  I care not for the big cities.  Those are a dime a dozen.  I’m for the homely places with grandmothers cooking dinner, vineyards in the moonlight, mountains beneath a veil of fog.  I am about life as it happens.  We are, none of us, all that different.  We live, we love, we dream, we hope, we aspire for something more.  I just want to see it for myself.  God willing, it will happen.  Otherwise, I will remain, for all of my life, a dreamer, with dreams that are so much bigger than my reality.  I can think of worse things than being a dreamer, however, being one with great faith in an awesome God, I look forward to seeing my dreams fulfilled.  I can wait.  I have waited.  And in the end, the reward will far outweigh the waiting.  Of that, I am certain.

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On this, the first day of 2013 …

After The Storm

I haven’t left the house other than to walk to my mom’s for some sausage balls and homemade chocolate chip cookies left over from last night’s New Year’s Eve celebration.  But not leaving the house on such a dreary, rainy, wonderful day doesn’t mean that I haven’t accomplished anything.  I did a lot of thinking.  I thought about taking my Christmas tree out today.  Since it was, however, so rainy, cold and dreary outside, I decided I could handle looking at the lights for one more day.  I’m going to miss that beautiful old tree when it’s gone, but nothing can go on forever and while I love the tree, I have missed the view out the window.

Besides thinking, though, I got many things in the house done.  General cleaning, straightening and taking stock of my pantry.  It seems that I have some baking soda, a few bottles of spices and a bag of flour.  Not conducive to cooking anything of any substance.  I’d like to try to get back into cooking, otherwise, I may have to break my cardinal rule and eat a hot pocket.

Besides coming to the conclusion that there is no truly edible food in my house, I’ve been getting my hiking gear oiled and cleaned, ready to get back to weekends in the mountains.  I am confident that when I see the Orthopedists in a couple of weeks, he will clear me to get back to the trails and hard places that I love to go.  I was complaining a few days ago about the belligerent 9-year old I had to wrestle into submission in order to obtain a flu swab, but I think he did me more good than harm.  I actually believe he helped put that pesky, out-of-place bone back where it belongs.  Guess I owe the brat a thank you.

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I cannot even voice how much I miss nature, the mountains, the rocks and trees, the waterfalls, the arduous climbs and the smell of the earth in every season.  So far, I have missed Winter completely, but lucky for me, Winter really only officially began a few days ago.  I long for the bare branches of the trees as they stand sentry over a barren earth, biding their time until she blooms again, bringing forth life and a different kind of beauty.  She calls to me; Mother Nature, that is.  She calls to me as the light changes, shifting over the mountains, shadows forming and dissipating almost in the same moment.  I long for the adventure of what I will find at the top of the next hill, around the next turn, behind the thunderous sound of water falling for hundreds of feet.  I dream of standing alone with nothing but the glory of nature surrounding me and find myself nearly trembling with anticipation to get back to it.

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While I have been out of commission, I have exercised at home, keeping my legs and thighs strong and ready for the hikes and climbs that I so dearly love.  Yes, in a couple of weeks, I think I will be able to stop those mind-numbingly boring, in-home routines, strap on my heavy backpack without feeling like my shoulder will detach itself from my person, grab my tripod and head out with my trusty Pentax to see what I’ve missed while I’ve been gone.  I wonder if  my favorite places have missed me as much as I’ve missed them.  I’d like to think so.

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