Thursday, July 14, 2011


195 days into my 365...

...I have a thought process for coming up with pictures for the day. Hopefully, something about the day inspired me to think about taking a picture, or hopefully something about the day before got me thinking ahead...but generally, it becomes evening and I haven't gotten a picture and I don't have a plan. In this case I look around the house, get bored with my thoughts of what to snap, and since it's summer and there is a lot of daylight, I typically head outside and up the street to see what's there, what the light is doing, and grasp desperately at anything that shows a hint of pulse over "boredom".

I always walk out of my courtyard and walk up the street. I turn left. Sometimes I cross the street, but usually I stay on the left.

It took me until 195 days into this project to wonder what would happen if I walked out of my courtyard and turned RIGHT.

Holy shit, people.

Nearly 200 days, how much boredom and skipped days for lack of inspiration, when all I had to do was look the other way?

The complete impact and meaning of this simple, basic thing, is staggering to me. Not just the 365 project. But how many times, every day, in every situation, in every relationship, do we have such a pattern of approach or perspective that it doesn't even occur to us to do something different? How many situations or life paths do we go down not even thinking we could go the other way (let alone blaze our own trail) even when it is right in front of us? (Or behind us, or to the right of us as we turn left, or across the street, or...)

Turning right, down to the light on the highway, then I can go right, or left, or across the street, and go right, left or forward...each path leading to a different path and different choices...I always turned left.

I know why I turned left. Turning right goes toward the traffic and crossing the major street. It takes 3 minutes to wait for the light to change. It takes longer. And really, generally doesn't seem quite as interesting. But as I walked up the street to take my pictures, soon walking 2 blocks didn't warrant any new sights or settings, so I walked 4 blocks, then 6...and then, waiting 3 minutes each way for the light might not be so bad, and just for something new.

Like most things, as soon as I turned right, more opportunities showed up, and new opportunities got me thinking of new things. Try a soft focus, try something urban, ooooh, how about a series of themes...

...I'm still absorbing this, translating it, understanding all it means...basic concepts can be so profound.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I love these two pictures together:
I didn't intend to mirror the mug from my morning's coffee when I took the picture of the shadow on the pavement this afternoon, nor did I recognize the repetition of the pattern until I looked at the picture on my computer later. I was focused on how black and white the shadows on the asphalt were, much, ironically, the same way I appreciated the soft monotone of the leaves on the mug in the morning.

The depth of symmetry is what strikes me most - not the leaf pattern, but the appreciation of the simplicity of the monotone image that stuck with me throughout the day. I can find similar symmetry in most of my writing when I look back over the years. Every so often the same theme emerges, with similar images, similar focus, but slightly different perspective. Sometimes its an identical concept, but the focus inverted - instead of the developed "picture", it's the film "negative" version of the same idea. Instead of writing about sound, in the same way, I write about silence. 

It is interesting.

...and yet, it is not surprising. The more I think about it, it's really not surprising at all. Some concepts capture us, for whatever reason, perhaps unique to each concept, and I think some concepts weave themselves through our lives, coming and going, presenting themselves in different ways. They always strike me with a certain element of "magic", and yet, when I really think about them, I realize that they are just my themes.

Black and white, shades of grey, stillness and peace...these concepts will always be things that resurface for me. They captivate and inspire me.

Photo Essay, Theme: Captions

"measured out in coffee spoons..."

The warning on my thoughts

Sometimes you're just a number.

The grass will be greener...

Someday when I grow up...

I might be hidden in the overgrowth

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I was eating shrimp salad, just chomping away. Big, giant prawns (previously frozen), chomping and devouring in one bite, bite after bite. Giant prawn - down you go. Chomp. Another. And another.

American gluttony? Another prawn. Yes, I think I tasted that one. Ooh, I'll try better on the next.

Chomp - yum! Mmmmm, prawn. Yup, that was tasty. Yummy little prawn...momentary once were alive. Swimming. I chomped you in one bite - your whole life for my one bite. I definitely did not enjoy that bite enough for your whole life. Even if you didn't really have sentience.

Another bite, another prawn. I eat a lot of other lives - chicken, shellfish, salmon - and generally try not to think about the sentient animal behind it. Why this prawn? Oooooh tasty, and the next (CHOMP!) Maybe because I suddenly became aware of the callousness of my chomping compared to the very poignant meaning of an entire life in that single bite (whereas a chicken takes a lot more bites).

Then, because I live in Seattle, as another prawn got chomped (this salad was FULL of prawns - thank you, Costco) I wondered about the sustainability of prawns....while barely giving a thought to consuming this life, what about everything that was sacrificed to put these prawns (shelled, tail on, frozen) into a 3 lb bag for me to buy without thinking at the bulk food store freezer section? What are the fishing practices? Do fishermen lose their lives so I can mindlessly chomp prawns in a salad on my deck in the summer? What other seafood is sacrificed in pursuit of the singular goal of "prawn"? One day, will we fish out all the prawns?

I assumed the answers were all dire - and I was a bit disappointed that I didn't know the answers. Some discussion of the merits of farmed vs. wild salmon were discussed, and logic hypothetically applied to the vague concept of prawn fishing, in combination with some assessment of "Deadliest Catch" and whether that also applied to prawn fishing, and guiltily I actually chewed a prawn (hey, they were ALREADY IN the salad - no point wasting them!) and realized I should look into it more, so at least, if I am going to choose to eat them, it is while accepting the direct and collateral impacts of them.

Some people find unity in considering how their food reaches their plates - thinking of the farmers who grow the food and benefit from selling it, then the vast numbers of people who benefit from the transportation, supply chain and ultimate sale of the food, uniting the global community, and instead, guiltily I was considering the opposite angle of the global impacts of the food I was eating....

I did some research, and found that yes, typically prawn harvesting is not sustainable, and that there is no actual measurement of sustainability that you can look for (no federal regulation or symbol, like for organic, or meat quality), other than doing research into companies that only use sustainable practices. There are some, mostly located in the arctic Atlantic, so it IS possible.

Doing some additional research, I did find that Costco specifically is focusing on transitioning to sustainable seafood supply, and has reduced or eliminated supplying non-sustainable species, and that by the end of the year, they plan to make sure their seafood is all sustainable (

I have to admit to being somewhat of a sustainability nut, and have been for as long as I can remember (yeah, I was THAT kid) and now being an adult, I try to mostly be ok with the reality that not everything  can be saved, and that I have to make decisions about the lifestyle I want and the level of advocacy that I can effectively have while having that lifestyle, and yet, I still think about it a lot. Every time I go to the store - buy local or buy organic? Buy recycled or recyclable? Sustainable or conservation? The choices now are ever so much more complicated, and the supply of information ever so much more overwhelming, political and sensationalistic. Finding clear, concise, unbiased information is challenging and keeping up to speed with it is....something I can't even realistically consider.

The positive and uplifting thing is that there are enough people who care (even a little - like me) that the information is out there, and that more and more companies are creating and supplying sustainable items. Even if one choice is more or less good overall and I can't tell, at least I have choices that are better than where we were 15 years ago when nothing was recycled, recycling was for crazy liberal people, and the seas should be fished clean of tuna because no one realized dolphins were dying from it.

Somewhere, someone in Georgia just shook their head because they do think recycling is for crazy people, and that I'm just a liberal freak from Seattle. It's ok. My prawns are going to be sustainable so they can eat some too.