knee deep in weeds

notes on a simple life

delight

sometimes the tiniest things delight me . . .

“Isn't that the only way to curate a life? To live among things that make you gasp with delight?”
― Maira Kalman, My Favorite Things


a snowy day

the day it snowed and snowed and snowed . . . .

“Now through the white orchard my little dog
romps, breaking the new snow
with wild feet.
Running here running there, excited,
hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins
until the white snow is written upon
in large, exuberant letters,
a long sentence, expressing
the pleasures of the body in this world.

Oh, I could not have said it better myself.”

—Mary Oliver


smile

That day we drove into Enumclaw . . .

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“The Llama is a woolly sort of fleecy hairy goat, with an indolent expression and an undulating throat; like an unsuccessful literary man.”
― Hilaire Belloc

have a beautiful weekend,
xoox


stolen moments

“Practice listening to your intuition, your inner voice; ask questions; be curious; see what you see; hear what you hear; and then act upon what you know to be true. These intuitive powers were given to your soul at birth.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

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Over the past seven years I have had four different blogs, three of which live out in the cyber world where no-one can see them but me. When I visit them, for some reason most of the photos are gone and I wonder what it was I was writing about and speculate what secrets the photos might have held.

I rise most days with thoughts of this space in my head. I think about how much I have reviled about my life, or maybe how I struggled with a particular post. Lately, I find I feel an obligation that goes beyond what I want to give, and I have grown restless. It seems it is easier for me to write about pain, choosing metaphors about darkness while seeking light with my camera, than it is to write about joy.

But darkness does not overwhelm me as it did in the past several years, and so I am often at a loss for words. I sit, with the same photos taken each week, with nothing I need to say. It is frustrating and I don’t feel genuine or honest.

For seven years blogging has been a hobby. Something I did in stolen moments throughout of my day. Sneaking in while he and the dog slept in or while the dog napped and he was busy with his “stuff”. I have said this before; if I don’t take this seriously who will. So as I approach 65, I feel it is time to be deliberate, time to be relentless, and time to take this hobby seriously.

So what does serious look like? I am not sure, but what I do know is I want more. More time with my camera. More time to dip my toes in places that scare and challenge me. Time to go beyond my comfort zone and try some new things. If I am to take this to the next level then I have to treat it like the art it is and not just a hobby.

Some things won’t change. I will still shoot daily, but those photos will live on IG and Flickr now, and not here. And, you will still see a lot of Baker here because I never tire of shooting him. There will also be some self portrait work, and hopefully some new projects. I am open to where this all might lead me.

For now I will be shutting comments off, not because I don’t thrive on your kind words, but because I do. Those words influence me, and right now I want to listen to my own creative voice. Remember you can always send me an email, and I would love that.

Thank you for all the support you give me. Without it, I am not sure I would be taking this next step. I know for sure I would have folded way before I hit blog number four!

the bird

“I've seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write... and you know it's a funny thing about housecleaning... it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectabilty) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she "should" be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetyp


just for fun

Beagles have 45 times more scent receptors than humans.

All of a beagle's scent membranes would unfold to 60 sq. in. The same in a human would only be 1 sq. inch—That's like comparing a piece of paper to a stamp.

A beagle's sense of smell is 1,000 - 10,000 times greater than a human's.

“A dog can never tell you what she knows from the
smells of the world, but you know, watching her,
that you know
almost nothing.”
― Mary Oliver, Dog Songs


have a glorious weekend,
xooox, cathy
& baker

Hummingbirds and Whales

“Listen, whatever you see and love—
that’s where you are.”
― Mary Oliver, Dog Songs

i watch her from the kitchen window
her wings flash rapid bold colors then stop abruptly
as she perches and drinks.
she is well fed, in her winter weight.

we head to the dog park one day. Baker is eager, and a bit timid
as he bravely makes new friends.
a fight breaks out between two big dogs and he gets caught
in the middle. fir flies as he quickly finds comfort between our legs.
people in the park laugh it off as my mama
heart pounds. after things settle he is ready to head back to the car.
he curls up inside his kennel, safe
and content and i sneak peeks into the back seat
to check on him as he sleeps, on the drive home.

i head back to her island one day for art and wine.
on route i stand with all the other passengers
and watch as a pod of Orca whales make their way across the ice cold water
in front of the ferry. last crossing i came across
David Whyte, looping the boat. it seems ferries are magical.

i listen to several interviews with Mary Oliver,
trying to understand what made her who she was.
maybe in some way hoping bits and pieces of her way with words,
her mindfulness and beauty might rub off on me.
i re-read old essays and promise to pay more attention,
with more feeling, and not just document my life as if i am producing
a field guide.

i have carpal tunnel surgery on my other hand.

while i recover that first day, he snuggles up next to me, licks my face and hogs the bed . . .

i am beyond blessed.


LITTLE DOG’S RHAPSODY IN THE NIGHT

He puts his cheek against mine
and makes small, expressive sounds.
And when I’m awake, or awake enough

he turns upside down, his four paws
in the air
and his eyes dark and fervent.

“Tell me you love me,” he says.

“Tell me again.”

Could there be a sweeter arrangement? Over and over
he gets to ask.
I get to tell.

have a mindful week. . .
xoxo

Mary Oliver

“Because of the dog's joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?”
― Mary Oliver, Dog Songs

i feel the news of her death deep within my body; grief stuck,
i morn. there is rarely a day that goes by
that i don’t read her words, for in beautiful,
simple language she has taught me to pay attention.
she has cultivated within me
a magnitude of love for the natural world
( and the dogs that live within it).
she has helped me understand that deep
spirituality for me, is best found on a walk,
or by the sea shore, and if we ask questions,
and are genuinely curious, we will find answers.


“When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it is over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.”
― Mary Oliver
{rest in peace}

have a lovely weekend,
xoox

the marsh

“Ours is an upbeat, a hurried, hasty beat. It keeps pressing us to go farther, to include everything so that we can savor everything, so that we can know everything, so that we will miss nothing. Partly it's greed, but mainly its curiosity. We just want to experience it. And we do.”
― Agnes De Mille

we gather to celebrate her birthday in the marsh. she brings us together; eight
of her friends, from all corners of her life. i feel honored to be invited, curious and
available to what the weekend my bring . . .

i marvel at her generous heart, and how
she is able, and so willing to hold space for us to all . . .

i am unable to put it all into words, wishing to hold much of it
close-in and private. i turn inward towards my camera with walks when i need to, and open myself up,
over and over and over again; reaping an abundance of goodness from the woman she has
brought together. i learn to compost the past, and bring forth fresh nourishing soil to plant new seeds in.
seeds of my liking . . .

“To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful.. This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking”
― Agnes De Mille


have a beautiful week . . .
xoxo, cathy

Friday

a quote

“At this hour the soul is like a yellow wing
slipping through the treetops, a little ecstatic
cloud hovering over the sidewalks, calling out
to the approaching night, “Amaze me, amaze me”
- Edward Hirsh


have a magical weekend . . .
xooox, cathy

Courage

“It is always hard to believe that the courageous step is so close to us, that it is closer than we ever could imagine, that in fact, we already know what it is, and that the step is simpler, more radical than we had thought: which is why we so often prefer the story to be more elaborate, our identities clouded by fear, the horizon safely in the distance, the essay longer than it needs to be and the answer safely in the realm of impossibility.”
― David Whyte, Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

the week is full of crazy weather, lots of reading and time spent
with the dog. i feel almost like i have a toddler again,
one who must be watched 24/7.
i pile him into the car one day for a walk beyond the ponds,
and we soon find ourselves on the shore
of the Puget Sound, salt water spray in our faces.

he begs to be let off leash to explore on his own, and i promise him
”someday”, but for now i keep him close by,
allowing him to chase birds, wade in the water,
and dig in the sand. both of us leave content,
and he sleeps all the way home.

the wind kicks up in the middle of the night a few days later,
waking all of us at once. outside the open window, huge branches are falling
on our roof, and in our yard. I hear cracking across the street from
deep within the watershed, and imagine trees falling like toothpicks.
i stand at the back door watching as the tallest of our trees
sway back and forth to loud music i don’t like. i bring the dog downstairs
to sleep with me on the couch.

the house is cold, and daylight takes forever the following morning
with no lights to turn on. i light candles, feed the dog in the dark
and scan the yard for any damage, while he builds a fire.
i watch as the neighbor spends hours on his roof, cutting up
limbs the size of trees and dropping them below
where a fire burns all day and way into the night.
the lights come back on after a candlelight dinner of take out.
no damage, no one is hurt.

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i pick the word courage, to guide my life and my intentions for the year.
i buy a brand new journal, but have yet to write in it,
afraid i might jinx the flow of the day with resentment,
instead of the courage i seek, to make changes. the blank pages
stare at me each morning as i smooth my hand over them
before closing the cover, telling myself tomorrow,
i will start tomorrow.

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor - the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one's heart." Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences -- good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as "ordinary courage.”
― Brené Brown, I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame


do you pick a word or two for the year?
have a lovely week,
xoox, cathy

Friday

a poem

Starfish

by Eleanor Lerman

This is what life does. It lets you walk up to the store to buy breakfast and the paper, on a stiff knee. It lets you choose the way you have your eggs, your coffee. Then it sits a fisherman down beside you at the counter who say, Last night, the channel was full of starfish. And you wonder, is this a message, finally, or just another day?

Life lets you take the dog for a walk down to the pond, where whole generations of biological processes are boiling beneath the mud. Reeds speak to you of the natural world: they whisper, they sing. And herons pass by. Are you old enough to appreciate the moment? Too old? There is movement beneath the water, but it may be nothing. There may be nothing going on.

And then life suggests that you remember the years you ran around, the years you developed a shocking lifestyle, advocated careless abandon, owned a chilly heart. Upon reflection, you are genuinely surprised to find how quiet you have become. And then life lets you go home to think about all this. Which you do, for quite a long time.

Later, you wake up beside your old love, the one who never had any conditions, the one who waited you out. This is life’s way of letting you know that you are lucky. (It won’t give you smart or brave, so you’ll have to settle for lucky.) Because you were born at a good time. Because you were able to listen when people spoke to you. Because you stopped when you should have and started again.

So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland, while outside, the starfish drift through the channel, with smiles on their starry faces as they head out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea.


have a beautiful weekend . . .
xoxo, cathy

Barriers

“There is no ‘right’ way to make art. The only wrong is in not trying, not doing. Don’t put barriers up that aren’t there — just get to work and make something.” — Lisa Golightly

I spend hours rethinking this space. I muck around with templets and new designs, getting frustrated with myself because I can’t get it to look how I envision it in my head. I peruse the web, looking for examples of other blogs that catch my eye and finally, come up with a new look; one that feels right for bringing in a new year, and fine tuning a practice that has gone haywire.

I ask myself; what is purpose of this space? Is it a writer’s blog or photographer’s blog? A little bit of both, I think right now. And, while the writing is something I enjoy, taking the photos is a necessity for me. So I spend some time working on how to channel back some of my confidence, because at some point durning the year, I lost my way. Doubt crept in and I started to compare myself with everyone. My head was full of uncertainty and soft whispers; you need a new camera, you should buy a new lens, maybe you should go back to film, or at least learn Photoshop. Maybe it is time to just put your camera down. And I kind of did. The last few months I have hardly taken a photo worth saving.

I am pretty sure this is a case of all around creativity block, because it hit many aspects of my life. I stopped cooking, let go of the garden before it was done (there are still beets out there). I even stopped walking the dog, So many of the things, that had once sparked curiosity and passion in me, lost purpose and meaning, and I found myself putting up roadblocks for no apparent reason at all.

But I over the last few weeks I have turned a corner and a light clicked on deep inside of me. I suddenly saw my life as my very own. I don’t know why this happened, but I can tell you, it really is a lovely feeling. I understand life is messy, but I also see that my jumping in the eye of every storm that arises around me, only builds resentment and heartache and does nobody any good at all. An awake life is full of pain and suffering but also full of light and hope. My light was ignited for some reason, and I am not going to waste it.

I have a few new photo projects planned for the new year, and a hope that some will just evolve,
if I only trust myself. I feel inspired and excited to take on the new year. But those beets, they will
probably stay in the garden, because I have places to explore and photos to take.

i wish you light, friendship, peace and love in 2019,
xoox, cathy


The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” ― Sylvia Plath
 

you are what you do

“The Winter Solstice is the time of ending and beginning, a powerful time -- a time to contemplate your immortality. A time to forgive, to be forgiven, and to make a fresh start. A time to awaken.”
- Fredrick Lenz

i sit and listen to the rain, the kind of rain that falls heavy and wet;
the kind you don’t run in, but rather walk slowly, for running only
gives the large droplets momentum and one becomes
drenched, opposed to just soaked. . .

i spend the day doing laundry and packing; getting ready to head up north,
to spend Christmas with our kids. nostalgia plays around with my emotions
this time of year, and i miss my mom and dad. i miss my oldest son,
and i miss those parts of myself which were at one time, more carefree and laid back.
today i am relentless, and unwavering especially when i am taking care of myself.
i have worked hard to make friends with this new woman, and slowly we are both growing stronger.

i like her.

i step outside to let the dog out. i watch the birds scatter
as he chases them in the wet grass, until something else catches his eye.
i am reminded how winter has a dark and somewhat dreary beauty to it,
most of it accompanied by the cadence of rainfall.
i miss the snow of my childhood which reflected the sounds of winter so clearly;
giving them sharp clarity; while the whiteness provided renewed cleansing.
the rain muffles most sounds; the wet leaves underfoot are nothing more than a cushion of
compost now, absorbing much of the noise around me.
i have learned however, that rain can also be renewing and cleansing if one
has the proper rain gear . . . which i do.

lately i have been waking just a little after four most mornings, almost like clockwork.
i lay there, cozy and warm and wait for the soft sound of a far off train whistle to drift in
through our open window. this time of year, i allow it to carry me into the season,
then, as it fades i roll over and settle back into sleep. on the mornings when the rain drowns
out the sound, i feel a bit cheated.

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tomorrow we will pack up the dog, a few presents, and our memories of past Christmases.
we will head up to be with some of our kids. my heart, like the Grinches, will grow two sizes,
and i will relax and let them take charge. i will slip away on Christmas day to call my sister,
to remember mom and dad, and to share bits and pieces of our day. i will try texting
my oldest, but not get my hopes up. instead i will bask in the balm of love,
and be grateful and full of gladness.

“When you die, it’s done, the chance is gone. So when you live? When you live, make it all. Don’t wait for the rain to stop. Climb out of your tent with your mind engaged and your senses ablaze and let rain pour into you. Remember: you are not who you think you are. You are what you do. Be the kindness of soft rain. Be the beauty of light behind a tall fir. Be gratitude. Be gladness.”
- Katheleen Dean Moore

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life is good. all of it is good.
i wish you joy, love, gladness, and moments to remember,
take it all in, every last drop . . .

Xo. Cathy

the moon

“Inside each of us resides the truth, I began, the absolute truth. But sometimes the truth is hidden in a hall of mirrors. Sometimes we believe we are viewing the real thing,
when in fact we are viewing a facsimile, a distortion.”
― Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain

the past couple of weeks have been full of sugar, flour, butter,
and parchment paper. resulting in so many cookies in the freezer
i am left dumbfounded. i bake to keep busy, for reasons that are
unclear to me at first. all the while knowing we can’t possibly eat them all.

i bake like i did when the boys were home; something i have not done
in years. and i ponder why? and while the stack in the freezer grows,
my camera sits idle on my desk; the battery dead,
and the charger undisturbed inside my camera bag.
my camera tugs at me every time i walk into my office, and yet i leave it, over and over
again. shutting the door with intention, and feeling as if i am working on breaking a bad habit.

i have bounced all over the map this past year, trying different
rituals and practices to bring calm, peace and meaning into my life.
it would be funny, if it were not so heartbreaking. i scold myself
for being so paralyzed that i can’t seem to move. i make lists
instead of doing, i feel stuck and confused and try on new personas
in hopes of breaking down the make-believe cage i have erected around myself.
i worry that life is becoming crippling and i see there are ways
i have become incapacitated. i am alarmed.

so i bake . . .

i mull over the possibility that i use my camera as a crutch, something i count on too much, and
i wonder who i think i am to blog here, to have something worthy to say.
in just one day my elusive words are misconstrued by a close friend and praised by another.
i freeze up, panic a bit, and choose to just turn and walk away, before i spin out of control.

i also know enough to understand i need to do something.

i lean into my life by taking charge, starting with an important email.
i put away the self-help books and reconsider my random “i think i will try this now “
rituals. and in a couple of weeks or so i feel myself coming around.
i put away the sugar, flour and butter along with the parchment paper, and
i plug in my charger. i watch the light start blinking as the battery
falls snuggling into place. i turn and leave the room to let it fully charge,
anticipating the feel of my camera in my hands.

i lean into my life with full understanding that i am worth it;
that i don’t need to compromise or back away.

“Many of us have convinced ourselves that compromise is necessary to achieve our goals, that all of our goals are not attainable so we should eliminate the extraneous, prioritize our desires, and accept less than the moon.”
― Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain


i decide i won’t accept anything less than the moon . . .


have a beautiful rest of your week,
Xo. Cathy

catching my breath

“I love this life. I feel like I am always catching my breath and saying, ‘Oh! Will you look at that?’ Photography has been my way of bearing witness to the joy I find in seeing the extraordinary in ordinary life. You don’t look for pictures. Your pictures are looking for you.”
– Harold Feinstein

i spend time this week thinking about intentions
and in the process become curious about what the opposite might be
aimless, neglect and avoidance come to mind, and
i think of the old Crosby Stills Nash and Young song;
Helplessly Hoping, and yet that is not quite right either

“Photography is a love affair with life.”
– Burk Uzzle

i sort through last years photos, for a post on ViewFinders, and am not surprised
when a tiny vase of flowers, or a photo of something on the side of the road
carries me right back to the time and place it was shot

“No place is boring if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and a pocket full of unexposed film.”
– Robert Adams

(or a fully charged battery and an empty photo card)
will next year be the year i pull out my old film camera
if even just for one role??

i think about what it is that draws me into this medium
and while i can’t pinpoint it exactly, i know it makes me excited,
sometimes makes my heart skip a beat,
and makes time fly. . . i learn to pay attention,
over and over again

“Black and white are the colors of photography. To me they symbolize the alternatives of hope and despair to which mankind is forever subjected.”
– Robert Frank

some might say it takes away from the walk with the dog
or the family gathering,
but i would ask then. . .
does a good meal take away from an evening with good friends?
it only enhances it, intensifying the experience

“Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.”
– Diane Arbus

the rains come in earnest and i will need to seek pockets of light
here and there, and make friends with artificial light
and grainy photos. . . which in itself
sets the mood, and marks the day

“Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.”
– Dorothea Lange

yes, you do!

We spent some time with our favorite photos of the year over on ViewFinders this week. I would love for you to pop over and take a look. It was no small task for each of us to narrow our favorites of 2018 down to just one!


have a beautiful weekend. . .
Xo. Cathy