Busyness and Books

horse eating hay
Last Friday, I took a post New Years vacation day and rode Luke in the morning. We had a good indoor arena ride, out of the wind and off the frozen, icy ground. But more than the riding, I enjoyed the time spent grooming Luke’s face and mane — trying to work out all the hay dust and scraps. He seems to think that hay is like glitter, something to toss about as an accessory.

horse eating hay

I brought Luke carrots and an apple. Apples are the most fun thing to hand feed a horse — the juicy sound they make while they chew, their eyes wide with pleasure as some of the apple liquid drips from their lips to the ground. They make an apple look like the most scrumptious delight in the world. No wonder Eve couldn’t resist picking one off of the tree of knowledge.

After I left the barn, I ran some errands. I picked up a fantasy book at the library by Patricia McKillip called “Song for the Basilisk” about a boy, whose family was killed in a fire and was then taken and raised by the bards of Luly:

“Ravens cried at him from the ancient forest, raucous, persistent. He did not know their language, he explained silently to them; he did not understand. Later, when they dropped a black trail of feathers to guide him into the unknown he refused to see.”

Unfortunately, a couple days later, a Kindle book I had reserved from the library showed up on my iPad and I am now in book overload quandary. I think I need to read the Kindle book first as you only get three weeks to read those and then they abruptly disappear. That book is Margaret Atwood’s “The Blind Assassin” which is said to be “a novel within a novel” and sounds rather complex, as I think most of Atwood’s books are. Perhaps that’s why I like them:

“Tell me where it hurts, she’d say. Stop howling. Just calm down and show me where. But some people can’t tell where it hurts. They can’t calm down. They can’t ever stop howling.”

Another book I checked out is called “The Great Themes” a Time Life book on photography. It’s rather old — from 1982 — and appears to be geared towards shooting with film, but since it’s mostly about style, that doesn’t matter much.

It’s chapters are divided into common photography themes:

  1. The Human Condition
  2. Still Life
  3. Portraits
  4. The Nude
  5. Nature
  6. War

My main interest lies in capturing the feeling and personality of what I’m photographing, whether I’m photographing a place, animals, or people. I mainly take photos of animals and places because I’m too insecure about my abilities and too unsure of myself to approach people to take their pictures.

dog by river

My favorite photography comes from street photographers and photo journalists— the ones who are doing #1 — capturing the human condition and telling a story with their pictures. I like photographs of everyday life.

A photojournalist featured in the book, Mary Ellen Mark, says it well,

“I try to make statements not only about a person, but about his environment—how he lives in it, and how he reacts to it.”

The more simple and basic the photo is, the better it is to me, which may be why I want to pursue doing more black and white photography. Simple and basic probably aren’t the right words because I find black and white very complex in what it brings out in a photo by stripping away color and leaving you to wrestle with shades of gray.

But I’ve gone off and away from my Friday… After the library, which was all calm and booklandish, I foolishly went to Costco and then Target to pick up some groceries and things I needed, which left me very grumpy. I should have done the library last but then the food would have been sitting in the car, which was actually like a refrigerator, so that may have been fine. You see how my mind works — constantly second guessing myself and recalculating what I should have done.

When I got home with the heavy load from Costco, which included a case of black beans and vegetable broth, and had to carry that crap up the steps to the kitchen, I became crabbier still. So after unloading the spoils of my Costco/Target plunder, I put the dogs’ harnesses and leashes on and headed towards my usual walking route by the Mississippi River.

ice on Mississippi River

The river was frozen again with slabs of ice pushed up and jammed against one and other. There were no swans or other signs of life, like there had been the more balmy weekend before. I tried to take photos of the ice, but with the sky so overcast, there wasn’t any light to cast shadows or show a bit of sparkle. But dogs still photograph well in poor lighting.

dog by river

Even though it was only Friday and the whole weekend lay ahead of me. I was already beginning to feel the dread of going back to my regular five-day-a-week work schedule. I was barely able to fit what I wanted to do into my day when I wasn’t working. What would happen when I went back to my usual schedule?

What has happened is that very little gets done.

And so I have to think about what is key? What must I absolutely do? And so here I am, simply writing down what I notice and think about it and taking photos in the hopes that they will at some point contain the images and stories that I carry.

dog by river

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One Comment

  1. I appreciate all you shared here, the sounds of Luke eating an apple & tossing hay like glitter, the quiet of the library and books you’re reading and getting crabby at the store which is usually the case for me! and such sweet b&w images, but they make me even colder! Take good care & I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

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