Friday, August 24, 2012

A crappy summer

My summer has been crappy—literally. Our septic tank backed up into our basement at the beginning of the summer. Then did it twice more, even after it was pumped out three times. Since then I've spent most of my free time with plumbers, backhoe people, septic pump guys, home renovators and tree cutters, trying to resolve the problem and correct the consequences. (It will supposedly get resolved next week, when huge trenches are dug in the front yard). Unbelievably, though we live in a metropolitan county, public sewer hookups are not available in our neighborhood.

All this to explain why I haven't written a blog post—or anything for fun—in weeks. Owning a home seems to suck up what would be free time if we lived in an apartment (with only a tiny lawn or a community garden plot to attend to). Creativity feels like a luxury right now.

It has been an alien experience, going this long without any means of creative expression, and yet I realize some people who are too busy with work or other obligations must live like this all the time. Maybe they sing in the shower or keep up long-distance correspondences... or maybe they have no need for self-expression? Maybe, for them, walking and conversing and doing is enough? I really don't know, this is so alien to me.

I've still got an itch to say something. Phrases form in my head and, though I haven't had the time to write them down, I know they are still there, needing me to free them and let them run across the page.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


This post mostly serves as a buffer between my last post in July, about my friend Joan Preiss, and what was was written as my next post more than a month later (on Aug. 24) about my crappy summer—because as E-girl just pointed out, it looked like I was talking about Joan on the same page as my complaints about our sewage spill, which seemed disrespectful. So, this post was written on the 24th also, but pre-dated Aug. 23rd. 

I haven't had time to write this summer, but I did find moments to take photos on my phone, whenever I was waiting somewhere or en-route to somewhere else. The photo at the top was taken when I was waiting for my friend, Orit, to show up at our CSA (community-supported agriculture) pickup. These were the vegetables I had just taken out of the box to divide between us. I took the pic and loaded it up on Instagram in the few moments before she got there. And then I rushed back home to get something else done. But there's that moment, recorded.

Perhaps technology is offering people more opportunities for quick moments of expression. But it's such a time-suck otherwise, especially with the allure of social media and video gaming, that it seems a two-edged sword (I tried to think of a less cliche way of saying this, but am rushed to finish this post in the few minutes I have free...).

I took this photo at the top of the ferris wheel at the county fair last weekend—altered and loaded on Instagram before our car swung back to the bottom.

I'm not sure who is looking at all the pictures loaded onto Instagram and Facebook—both could be infinite cyber-galleries. Is it art if no one really looks at it? Does it matter? For me, Instagram has just become a visual diary of where I've been, sometimes. I don't load up a picture every day because much of what I've done recently is too mundane.

I took this picture of a lake I had tried to paint in a watercolor moments before. The photo looks so much better than the painting, which grew muddy as I added too much color (the secret with watercolor is in what you don't do). But trying to paint the yellow parts of the green leaves and grass, where the sun was shining, made me see everything more vividly as I took the picture. What fun to take the time to play for an afternoon, with a child's watercolor set, sitting in the shade at a park with E-girl and my friend, Mary.

Perhaps photography is like watercolors, in that part of the art is knowing what to leave out or show. The last photo I'll load up here, above, was taken at a diner during one of the first weeks of summer. Is it art if everyone who walks into the diner sees the same scene—and could take the same picture with their phones? I don't know. It's one of those questions I'd like to ponder for awhile, perhaps for the rest of my life...