Pale

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*****

“If you shut your eyes and are a lucky one, you may see at times a shapeless pool of lovely pale colours suspended in the darkness; then if you squeeze your eyes tighter, the pool begins to take shape, and the colours become so vivid that with another squeeze they must go on fire.”
— J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan)

Submitted to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness

Under Your Boot Soles

 

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I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love
If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am or what I mean
But I shall be good health to you nonetheless
And filter and fibre your blood.”
― Walt Whitman

Submitted to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness.

Childhood Graveyard

When I was a kid, we lived in an apartment across from a graveyard, which became my imaginations iconic cemetery setting from that point forward. When I read Revelations, the judgement took place in that cemetery.  When I wrote a story about my grandmother for a high school competition, it ended in that cemetery (she’s buried elsewhere, a few miles away).  When Harry Potter first fought Voldemort – that cemetery.

It was a dark and shady place, with big wrought iron gates, tall, somber trees, and winding gravel paths just wide enough for cars to pass on.  There were tall statues sprinkled around the south side of the grounds, honoring those with enough money and desire to invest in them, and small, nearly unmarked grave sites on the far east side of the lot, a more traditional New Mexico graveyard, covered in pinwheels and artificial flowers.  There was a “children’s area” on the west side, an area that, at 8 years old, I was especially loathe to visit.

Last year, while visiting in the area, I decided to visit the old place with my camera, nearly 30 years having passed.  I was unexpectedly surprised to find so much changed, and bemused to think how much of that change was only my perception.

The cemetery is now much smaller and brighter than I remember- more organized, and with far fewer trees and statues.  The graves in the east appear to have been moved, replaced with tidy grass and a wall for cremated remains. On the far north side, where I haven’t a memory of ever being, there was not only a 100+ year old Jewish cemetery but also a more organic New Mexico-style graveyard, a dirt lot with various markers and stones.   As a mother of my own 8-year old now, I still found the west side too disturbing to visit.

The Jewish Cemetery

The oldest graves I found, and the most beautiful headstones, were in this area.  The family plot that I spent the most time with was the Block family, with 3 children all lost in their first year of life.

 

The “Organic” Graveyard

Without much tree cover and a thunderstorm rolling in, this area was hot, mocking my cool and shady childhood recollections. Throughout the area were a handful of strikingly similar wrought iron rectangles — my heart sank as my suspicions were confirmed, each one cradling the loss of an infant.

The Main Cemetery

A far more orderly and predictable version of the cemetery setting I carry inside my head. The use of infrared and the heavy clouds rolling gave the space a quiet, winter feel that, on some level, feels like I took back my graveyard setting just a little.

 

Mannequins

I don’t know what it is specifically, but mannequins unnerve me.  I have been volunteering at a local history museum for the last year and there are a number of theses silent watchers sprinkled around the exhibits. Most of them are broken, their qualities amplified by the mood of the old building,  the wind creaking against its roll up doors and metal windows, and my solitude while cataloging.  Where once I found them merely offensive to my feminist leanings, these ladies have also taken on — in the moments I don’t keep my imagination in check– the role of weeping angels, and I am reticent to stand too close (or take pictures of them) while alone.  Damn Dr. Who reruns.

Last summer, I found this delightful subject being prepared for a new exhibit and was itching to work with her. The best of the lot, I was fascinated by the lines across her body– not only is she a ubiquitous representation of a generic (and unreasonable) ideal, her malleability to others’ wishes is actually built in.  Brilliant! Knowing I had only a few days to catch her before she was dressed as a WWII housewife and docilely placed in her assigned exhibit, I rallied my courage to meet her gaze through the lens finder whilst alone.

Gracefully I was, at the time, working on an exhibit with a very kind and understanding social anthropologist who was willing to stay with me a few minutes after we finished cataloging one day, keeping an eye on my subject – and my safety, lol- while I played.

Settle

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“How could you ever feel comfortable if no matter where you went you felt like you belonged someplace else?”
― Mark Peter Hughes

* * * * *

I took this shot on a business trip last year, mesmerized by the tumbling shadows and highlights of the sheets on my hotel bed when lit by the early morning light.  The swells and valleys were like tumultuous waves that belied my belief that I had slept soundly and confuted my confidence that I wanted not.

Submitted this week to Leanne Cole’s excellent Monochrome Madness collection.

Tide Pool Guests

2014_07_27_0342_e_squaredetail“You don’t need to be the tide to rise and fall,
you don’t have to be a wave to touch the shore;
just be a little sand-grain and feel them all”
― Munia Khan

* * * * * *

Last summer, I had the excellent fortune of finding myself at Otter Crest Hotel on the shore of the Pacific – at dawn and at low tide-  with my bare toes buried in the cold sand at the edge of my very first tide pool experience. Moving from rock to rock, I was captivated – the sun coming through the fog still clinging stubbornly around a cliff- the seagulls, stretching their wings and catching some breakfast – the eel grass creating a layered canvas, alternated with the pockets of ocean water- the small sea creatures that carved niche homes in the shallow pools.

I don’t think I sighed so deeply or so often all of last year.