Saturday, December 13, 2014


this is a test of the emergency blogging system…this is only a test…

Ahem…is this thing on?

The Tempest and the Teapot is moving...we're going to WordPress.  Come find more wanderings left of reality HERE.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Scorched Earth

One thing I can say about cameras - I'm rarely without one.  Another thing I can say about cameras...I'm always pointing them at the strangest things.  This little shot tonight started its digital life as the remains of a cheese soup boil-over burned to a crisp onto the stove-top. heard that right - I took a picture of a common household complaint - the burned on mess of a pot of food that escaped the cooking vessel only to sizzle to its doom on the hot surface below.

Stove cleaned after the photo shoot was done...priorities, dontchaknow...

Photoshop is a wonderful tool - it turned me into a right-handed artist...which is saying something, seeing though I'm rather unapologetically left handed in most everything else.  Put a plain, ordinary pencil in my right hand, and I'm about as gifted as bozo, the wonder bra...but a mouse?  Hello, imagery!

I learned to use a mouse (the computer kind, not the squeaky kind) with my right hand.


Because that's where the right-handers in my family put the darn thing.  It never occurred to me to move it to the dominant hand.  By the time I got all growed up and started working with computers for a living, instead of out on a shop floor moving product from point 'A' to point 'B', using the mouse with my right hand was well-ingrained, and a bit of a bonus - I could take notes with my left hand while manipulating the mouse with my right.  So...when I started working in 'shop - the right hand FINALLY got to be the artistic one.

I think it's happy that way, and the left hasn't gotten jealous, so I'm good with it.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Flash! Friday Semi-Finalists

Didgeridoo. CC2.0 photo by Francois de Halleux.

Got the news on Sunday that my post on Flash! Friday's Anniversary contest actually impressed the judges enough to earn a spot in their semi-final round.  HOLY CRAP!!!!

Now, in a frenzy of esoteric verbiage, compressed into the demands of time and schedule, I have crafted my next submission - based on the photo prompt above.

Curious, this is...for the first time in the history of this blog the leading photo is NOT my own work...

I breathe welcome to the photo, and offer up - my next Flash Fiction story...

239 words

Curious, this is. 

Reality is tubular, cylindrical, a lone passageway knifing sharply down through infinity, terminating in brilliant illumination.  Nooks and crannies; pockmarks, protuberances and extrusions ruffle the world in an unstructured, random riot of texture.  This crinkly chaos is populated by myself and my brethren.  

They breathe welcome to me even as I do the same.

A moment ago, there was nothing - formless, shapeless, non-being oblivion.  I was  -we were-  simply not.  This wrinkled thoroughfare was empty and still.  
But now?   
 I Am.                                           We Are.  
 The first taste of awareness, existence, self.  It is sweet. Potent. Electric.  We tremble with its resonance. 

The world breathes welcome to us even as we do the same.  

It's exhalation whispers amongst the landscape, caressing the nodules and pleats -and us- in its journey downward.  Exciting, the breath is, full of movement, direction, and intent. Wrapped in breath's embrace, some brethren go swirling down, down, down toward the dazzling terminus.

Curious, this is.  

There is only expectation, possibility, the assumption of completion from those who pirouette their way to infinity.  We know without knowing how that this voyage is inevitable, absolute and final, but greater than us, the various parts.   

It is...the future.  As formless and timeless as ourselves, yet gravid with potential and the promise of:


We wait, poised and ready, for the next breath...
To emerge...reborn... 

A saucy little tune from the bell of the wooden flute.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Flash! Friday's Flash-versary

Headed over to Flash! Friday again -it's a celebration of draconic proportions as they celebrate the turning of their own personal clock.  'Tis an anniversary!

Go...look...and post a story of your own if you're in to flash fiction - there's still time to contribute, and PLENTY to read.  Below is my submission:

150 words

Orange against black.  Subtle licks of cerulean, scarlet, saffron and emerald flare into being to vanish in an instant later without a trace.  Elongated fingers of incandescence stretch into the void to momentarily paint their essence onto the obsidian night sky.

It is alive with movement - sliding, shifting, waving, weaving - its hypnotic, primal dance both beautiful and terrible as it crafts a timeless, mesmerizing, elemental ballet of destruction.

The voice of combustion, a low, throaty growling howl of clean air transformed to sweltering luminescence, whispering secret desires into the ears of those who worship it.

They listen, comprehending the flare's song in that most primitive portion of the brain.  They stare, glassy-eyed and slack-jawed, into the complex twisting leap and swirl of the living flame.  They are powerless to resist the compelling demands of spark, ember, pyre.

Some men live to watch the world burn.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Micro Bookends - Flash Fiction

Another Flash Fiction challenge accepted - and another website to follow!

Micro Bookends

These guys like things short. Really short:  90 - 110 words.  You start and end the piece with the words provided, and incorporate the photo prompt in there.

This week the challenge is:   

Sacred {insert story here} Sound.  
There is a quirky panorama of an airplane hangar for the photo prompt.

I have to admit - I spent some time bouncing ideas around in my head first focusing on the words.  It wasn't until I stopped worrying about the beginning and ending words and started focusing on the type of photo - the panoramic style where the vertical lines 'curve' around the middle of the photo - that I had the thought.

"How do other species 'see' the human world?"
After that - it almost wrote itself...


Bird Calling
105 words

"Sacred is the flight of the bird, to take wing upon sky and soar amongst cloud.  Observe, oversee, monitor the heavy ones.  Gaia watches through you."

When the sun rises, so does the ancient one, singing the morning call to send us on our tasks.  The aerie fills with the cacophony of wing and song as my brethren take to the sky.

Today, I shall perch near the predator upright's wing enclave, where they house their funny hollow avians, to sing and observe until Gaia has her fill.

"Birdsong," one pipes up, throwing a chunk of bread my way, "I never tire of the sound."

Monday, November 24, 2014


The ceiling work is boomar'ang-ular'

Hey...look at that.  I can make my own words!

When English simply does not have the correct one...

We do love to come up with our own words for new things.  A decade ago, nobody knew what a selfie was - and yet now it's in the dictionary.  This year's 'word of the year'  (you can't make stuff this bizarre up!)  is Vape.

I vape, so I know how important that word has become to me - and the millions of others who have found these neat little gizmos.  But, yea...with all the freaking out being done about it, the word of the year is a distinction I'd rather not have had, as it will undoubtedly throw more fuel on the fire.

But no politics here!!!  I pwomiced!

Yet another blog I've become familiar with is the Daily Post. 

On their menu is a wonderful buffet of ideas fit for the Queen Muse - they have a weekly challenge, a daily prompt, and a weekly photo challenge.  They also allow the community to submit their inspirations and daily prompts of their own.

Most of these challenges allow the bloggers to ping-back to the Daily Post, instead of leaving a comment on their site, which should, through the magic of 'sharing,' bring views to the individual blogs.

Inspiration, AND a space to show off the blog?  Faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaabulous!

A little too excited?  Sorry...

Although I'm enjoying my recent obsession with Flash Fiction - I do kind of hunger to sink my teeth into a good visual again...and this week's Photo Challenge at the Daily was a thick, juicy steak with plenty of room for various toppings and/or side dishes.

                  Not to put too fine a point on it, though this week, we
                  challenge you to show us what “angular” means to you.

A single words packs such an inspirational punch...and, as it happens, I do have some rather angular shots...including this one - captured at the Eagles Ballroom in Milwaukee just this last weekend.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Inhospitable Wonderland

A while ago, I found a simple post by a wonderful lady on Google+ - she took a shot of the front grill of her pot bellied stove with a warm and inviting fire burning merrily inside...jotted down a brief post about how it was time for more wood on the fire, and coffee to act as balance against the cold snowflakes.

The image was a beautifully done contrast between the dark iron of the stove's door and the bright orange back-light of the fire - and through the slits in the door you could see the fire's dancing forms.  The image evokes thoughts and feelings of warmth, solitude, and simplicity.  I appreciate a lot of photography, but to be honest, very few things draw me as powerfully as these overly-darkened shots with bright highlights, as it's my favorite photographic style.

I've got terabytes of dark shots in my own portfolio.

I caught this shot on one of my last walks downtown of the year - obviously around Halloween.  A week or so later, and we got the cold thing.  Hibernation time!

Although - I do brave the cold thing every once in a while,when the need is there.  I had a project buzzing in my head last winter for a glass etch/ photographic fusion, so I ran out, in the dark, in the cold (and was COLD that night - sub-zero temps with blustery winds) to catch some Christmas decorations.

Here's a shot of that finished project - the glass in the frame was etched to suggest the snow on the tree - and the lights were heavily saturated to bring them through the frost.

Well, I caught the shot of the cast-iron stove grill out of the corner of my eye (figuratively speaking) and before the coffee had kicked in (that's literal!), and saw something completely different than what she'd shot.   So...of to 'shop I went in a bring the idea to life...

The big picture at the top of this post is what I saw in my head.

A good mental image is a terrible thing to waste...

And - to honor the other little bit of creativity that's currently sparking in my head - I'm going to pair this up with a bit of flash fiction:

Habitat for Humanity   
157 words


I lift my left hand in a classic, 
albeit extremely rude, 
very human, salute, 
giving the outside world, steel walls, 
and endless platitudes I'm fed on a daily basis 
the full fury of my middle finger.

Life itself is the most precious gift we are given...

We prided ourselves on being masters of our environment. 
Masters of space.  Masters of time.  Tamers of the universe.

For as long as there is breath in my body...

Yet our arrogance didn't grant us a single second 
of additional grandstanding
when the visitor's weapons melted our sky.

My duty to mankind is to document its downfall...

I'm tired of solitude. Sick of stale air. 
Angered with the never-ending firestorm that rages 
outside this tiny bubble of compatible environment 
I'm enclosed in.

And for this...I am a lucky one...

I was one of the few they retained as museum pieces. 

human goldfish in a bowl...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Flash Fiction

I had a 'bout of Origami creativity strike around 2 years ago - one thing I was absolutely obsessed over was making a paper rose.  I started small and simple, with an iris and a crane, and progressed up through boxes, crabs, lotus flowers, neat little spinney toys, tessellations and other mathematical forms until I was ready to tackle the rose.  I never did figure out how to properly 'close' the form's bottom end - but I took one of the better roses and stuck a light inside it.  You can still see some of the printing from the inside bleeding through.

I did all different colors, too...

It's such a flashy little flower, which brings me to the topic of the day - Flash Fiction.

Insert fanfare here...

I'd never heard of this concept up until a few weeks ago, when I was, once again, searching the blog-o-sphere for that next creative spark.  I give out a hearty hat-tip to Brandon and his blog:    Coolerbs Reviews

Granted, reviews usually aren't my thing - but you did suggest a new book for the kindle that I've got lined up in my purchase queue.  You also introduced me to this Flash Fiction thing.  Many, MANY thanks for sharing your short fictions with the've presented me with an ever-expanding assortment of new ideas to put my creativity to the test.

The concept of Flash Fiction is infuriatingly simple.  The host site posts a picture, an idea, a specific starting/ending word, or any other variation that a mind can come up with.  The participants then post a story with this theme in mind. 

That covers the fiction aspect...

The Flash part comes in with a quick timeline for submissions (24-48 hour windows), and a small word count (I've seen 55-500 word counts).  If you feel the need to more traditional flashing...please DON'T post any pictures, and have a friend's phone number memorized for bail money.

I can see my fingers antici-                                                                    pation!

This is a style of writing I can really get behind.  I get to crystallize a single moment of time - flash frozen - for the reader's consumption.  And, with weekly contests floating around the 'net, I have several sources of nourishment for my muse, giving her exactly what she needs to power my writing - that all illusive, yet vital as breathing, initial spark.

That, I've found, is the hardest part of the creative process - that initial thought, the tiny push that starts the rock rolling, to become the thunderous 'IDEA' that rolls along the neurons of my mind, stirring up the roadbed and leaving new pathways to explore in its wake.

And in the beginning...there was a...monkey?

Here's a flash fiction site I found on Friday:  Flash Friday.  They posted a picture of a monkey seated on the balcony of a (I assume) hotel room in a tropical location - you can see the expanse of aquamarine blue water and a cityscape behind the creature.  The length of the story was 150 words (+/-10), and you had to squeeze in the name of an author.

Granted, I could go to the site and swipe the picture - but I want to allow click-backs to this wonderful, dragon-citing blog site - so go see it for yourself.  And maybe...leave a story or two...

Sadly, I found this site on Friday afternoon, and submissions had to be put in by Midnight.  Life, Groceries, and the SQO happened Friday evening - so I couldn't finish up this first Flashy Fiction story until today.  I simply couldNOT leave a quickie piece to languish half-done and unshared - so Enjoy!

MonkeyBusiness - 146 words

"The Balcony!"

She glares first out the window, then swings violent eyes to me, certain the declaration of not-to-be-seen things once again proves I'm insane.  She storms from the room, anger trailing in her wake, snarling "Get your hands off me, you damn dirty ape!"  as I stretch a calming hand toward her shoulder. 

The words are laced with all the fury of Pierre Boulle's first pen stroke, and the room shakes with the thunder of her slamming the door.

Forever, it has followed, silent shadow, tormentor and muse.  The fecund stench of hot fruit announces his appearance, a drift of grey fur follows in the wake of his vanishing. 

He mocks me,
inspires me,
denounces and fires me.

Wizened face,
cold eyes, grimace
For me only, not the miss.

For to me
but alas she cannot see...

The Monkey at my Back.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

War Pigs........... in Space

Have I mentioned lately that my mind is...well, not completely twisted, but rather, unremorsefully bent?  And that those bend patterns are subject to change at any random moment?

Today's little post is an example...I put out a blog post a while back remunerating on the Muppet Show's "Pigs in Space" segments, and the other day, I was at work with Black Sabbath's 'War Pigs' cycling over and over in my mind.

Within the landscape of my mind, the two met, hit it off, married in a grandiose ceremony complete with a 10 piece polka band and 5 course dinner (and open bar, because, beer) before the love-child started to show -  and today's picture is the offspring of that union.

In my mind, earworms invade at their own risk...

I've never before bothered to actually look up the lyrics to this old 'Sabbath song - but today, it was a research item who's time had come.

Given the number of 'military incursions' in process by various countries at any given time - I'd say the lyrics are just as profound now as they were when written.  What is with us humans, anyway?  Status - resources - ego - the cute little blonde chick at the bar - we fight over just about anything. 

Our bio-engineers should stop trying to re-invent the wheel in their never-ending tweaking of pharmacological formulae JUST enough to re-patent the results as "New and Improved," and instead create a virus which increases empathy in humans.  THAT would be a significant advance toward the betterment of all humankind...once the recipients recovered from the shock of being able to feel the emotional emanations of their fellows.

Granted, we'd have to go through the whole "freak out, get violent" first reaction humans generally respond with when faced with anything new - but hey...I'm thinking long term, BIG picture here!

veering left of reality is not an easy road to travel...

For as long as music has been crafted by men and women, they have interjected their messages into the lyrical lines.  It makes sense.  Artists create what they feel.  They anchor their creation with what they know as truth.  Artists create to communicate with the world...or their own little part of it. 

One of my first revelations of music having a message was back in the 80's, while lying on the grass in front of the house with my headphones and my Walkman, staring up at the wonderful early-summer clouds - letting Ozzy howl "Killer of Giants" in my ears.  Guess he hadn't changed much from his 'Sabbath days, as the message was still extremely anti-war/anti-nuke.  Finally, I was aware enough to actually listen to the words being sung.

Holy crap!  A peace-message in an Ozzy song???

I'm a little slow sometimes...

I've spent a lot of time since that first eye-opening epiphany listening - REALLY listening - to aural art for the meaning behind the music and rhythm and beat and meter - sniffing out the actual story being presented.  When DVD's first started hitting the shelves, I delighted in trying to find the Easter eggs hidden within.  Viewing artwork in all its forms took on new dimensions as I studied backgrounds and borders, looking for little details hidden within the larger, complete 'work.'  It was a endearing game of hide-and-seek, and I enjoyed participating.

I've presented myriad versions of 'hide the message' in my own creativity, as well - with small details understated within the artwork, deliberately crafting a story line to be vague enough to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions, carefully framing of a shot to suggest something entirely different.  I'm still running through a stint of abstract photography, and loving every click.

This is one of my favorites - it's a shot of my living-room window in the depths of winter last year.  The outer window was frosted over, so you couldn't see the building across the driveway with any detail.

And another of my favorite abstracts - taken at a concert last winter.  Very Dante's 'Inferno"-esque.

Which reminds me....

...back to them war pigs...

I know why this particular song was rattling around in my brain...long enough and loud enough to make me go look up the actual words being sung.  This song is shouted, sang, screamed or otherwise intoned by an audience of frustrated with the world, slightly crazed and intoxicated fans whenever the band GWAR is setting up to perform...and I just bought tickets for their Milwaukee show the end of November, at The Rave.

If you're not a fan of extremely abrasive /in your face!/ mock everything 'establishment' performances, coated in a thick, slimy (and potentially explosive) film of blatant sexual provocation liberally laced with profanity, DON'T look up GWAR.  Don't listen to their music, don't watch the videos, and most certainly DO NOT go to one of their concerts.

These guys are NOT Lawrence Welk or Hee-Haw...leave Grandma home...

GWAR plays to the heavy metal aficionados, usually the angry and disenfranchised under-30 crowd - the music is fast, loud, and the only intelligible lyrics are strings of four-letter words.  GWAR actually goes BEYOND traditional metal by serving up the popular icons of the day - and dismembering them for the viewing audience while spraying the screaming fans with gallons of fake blood...all while wearing extreme monster costumes which celebrate all things dark, male and phallic.

Relax - they use props, not people!

My first show, GWAR took on God, Hitler and (as it was an election year) Romney vs. Obama.  As I was in the general audience for this show - I was bathed in the (fake) blood of Christ and Obama - and I think Hitler got me a bit, too...

The second show - GWAR did some very strange things to (and with) sex-starved aliens, and denounced the commercialism of the music industry.  Can you guess what else 'sprayed' during this show?

This will be the third year in a row I've braved the crowds of metal fans to witness GWAR in it's fury.  This year, I opted for balcony seating.  Hopefully, I'll stay dry.  

I can't wait to see what they come up with.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Crystalline Clarity

Today, I turned to one of the several blogs I've started following, in search of inspiration that didn't have to do with the biennial national obsession of donkey vs. elephant.

have I mentioned lately that I HATE politics?

I may have relieved myself of the constant badgering of political radio and TV ads by cutting my cable (years ago...) and listening to nothing but CD's in my car (again - years ago, and the only improvement since then is the introduction of the iPod) - but them sneaky bastards still found a way to pester me - through my daily mailbox!

Come to think of it - I'm none too fond of my mailbox, either - except when I've ordered something online and the tracking notice says "Out for Delivery,"   (THOSE days,  I race home from work as fast as (the police) will let me, and almost rip the box off the wall in my haste to have goodies in my hot little hands.)  My mailbox usually holds only advertising flyers, credit-card come-hither's, and bills.  Most everyone nowadays communicates electronically - either by phone or email.  Letter writing is a serious lost art.

My mother was one of the last hold-outs in this long-ago art form, but my older brother and his kids corrupted her when she moved in with them a few years ago. 

the SQO once set about delivering a long dissertation to me on why we have such a long and diverse history of advertising mail in this country, the reasons behind the initial legislation and price structures, paired with the problems we face with today's incarnation of the US Postal Service, and twisted it right back to that obsession with elephant vs. donkey - but I wasn't really paying attention - I was too busy with my paper-cutter at the time, turning all this paper-waste into confetti.



                                               Junk mail make great snowflakes...

I found rich inspirational pickings in the blog-o-sphere with the help of Karen Lynn Sandoval again over at her blog:  Art Photographer | Life Blogger |

It was a little thing - more of an afterthought or casual mention in her writing - crystal healing.  It was buried in a post about a reading marathon she partook of.  She noted 2 books on the subject, and a inconveniently-timed shopping trip to find palm stones.

At the time of her blog-posting, she had several palm stones on a sunny ledge in her home, soaking up the bright sunshine as she snapped a quick photo.

I've incorporated crystal methodology into my personal world/work views for decades.  Like Karen, I was intrigued by a book I found - mine was in a New Age section in a local bookstore.

                        I have to laugh at the term New Age.  Newer than what?  Most of the practices
                        and/or methodologies discussed in the average New Age section of your local
                        bookstore are far older than a lot of things we call traditional - such as Christianity
                        and Western Medicine.  Methinks someone got it backwards.

I've done a lot of research since that first book on crystal healing, and a lot of experimentation.  I befriended several stones which I whammied up when the need was intense, either for myself or someone close.  Most of my stonework is cobbled together from:
1) personal intuition
2) meditational communion with the stone
3) a LOT of visualization, and
4) rough research on the web/within books from 'experts' in the field who explain the metaphysical properties of each stone.

My primary focal stone really surprised me, as I didn't consciously decide on it, didn't research it at all, and didn't seek it out.  My lovely Lapis sought ME -touched me from across town- when my need was intense.  I just had to be receptive to the call.

And that, my friends, is the story of the day.

I do remember having a bad day.  In fact, I recall having several bad days all glumped together like gum stuck in your hair.  A sticky, messy, stringy, miserable stretch of time.

I wasn't sleeping well.  I wasn't eating well.  I couldn't gel thoughts into cohesive structures for more than a few moments.  Everything in the world was sharp and bright and deafening and edged - dragging across my nerve endings like a red-hot razor blade.  I was over-reactive to everything - even the self-contained psyche of the cat.

Of course, when I'm going through an episode such as this, Murphy rears his ugly head, and sends friends, family members, co-workers and close confidants to pummel me with their abrasive attentions.

These are the times I swear I would do well living in a long as it had central air...

Sooo - everything was bright and cheerful on this particular Saturday late-spring morning...everything except me.  I was too busy trying to still the whirling maelstrom going on inside my head.  Operating purely on instinct, I was drawn to the tracks behind my house.

I needed solitude - and nicotine - and food - and caffeine - but mostly solitude.

The tracks behind my home were a seldom used railroad spur - little worry about trains, no worry about other people.  I'd watched the tracks all fall and winter long - so I knew the trains were infrequent.  I had never seen a walker.  Exploring those tracks was something I had wanted to do, but had successfully avoided since I'd moved into my apartment.  That pesky sweat thing...and winter, had kept me indoors.

After the slightly wobbly walk, balancing on the tracks themselves or crunching along on the rough gravel under-bed - I reached a quiet place.  Off to the side of the tracks was a huge boulder, forcefully ripped from the Earth and cast aside to make way for technology.  Brown and unassuming, it perched in the middle of a tangle of winter-weathered grasses.  An indentation in the rock beckoned me to come sit.

I made my way across the uneven landscape - introduced myself to the rock with a touch, clambered aboard, and settled myself into a comfortable sitting position.

Turned my face to the sun.
Offered the elements permission to have their way with me. 


And listened.

The alone-ness was very comforting.  Soothing on my nerves. 

Did you know that there's noise in solitude?  That even silence has a voice?  Layers of sound piled one on top of another.  You can dig your awareness down to the lower layers - it's tricky, but my instinct said this was the right time to do so.

The top-most layer of noise is human, of course - traffic, sirens, speech, music, construction, etc.  We really are a noisy bunch - we attempt to drown out the natural noises of the Earth to prove our superiority over it.

I'll leave THAT lecture for another day...

Under the cacophony of human sound are noises more in tune with the natural - the wind, the trees and grasses swaying, animals moving through the brush.  The Earth has her angry tones, too - water roaring in full flood, fire raging in its rush to destroy, thunder shaking the sky - but these weren't in residence on this occasion. 

Below this natural symphony is a dull, constant static we call white noise.  Most of humanity can hear this layer subconsciously, and react to it on an instinctual level.  Subjecting oneself to this static, even generated by artificial means, is very relaxing.  Most humans can't go any deeper then the layer of white noise, or refuse to believe deeper levels exist within the realm of human hearing.

My instincts say they are wrong - it's time to go deeper.

The layer directly under the white noise exists for those who seek it.  It's difficult to find, hard to attenuate yourself to, almost painful to experience.  This deeper layer is slippery, evasive, cunning. 

Sheesh - it's tough to explain this...

There really aren't words or concepts for this deeper layer of sound.   In my experience, it's a sharp/soft/blend/mix of part/noise part/feeling part/pure/diluted contentment/playfulness/connection.  It's turbulent and mellow and soothing and soporific and energizing all at the same time. 

And, speaking of time - I've found it has no meaning once your awareness is within this deep level of sound.

It's difficult to reach this level of awareness because you have to let all the surface and white noises wash over/through/above/around you while not listening for anything in particular, but everything in general.

Confused yet?  Yea, me too.  I don't know how to get you there - I just know I've landed/floated/ experienced there on a few, rare occasions, observing all 5 traditional senses blending together - at this level of awareness you can feel colors, taste sound, smell sunshine, and hear chaos  -

This is the layer where interconnections are formed.  EVERYTHING is connected at this lower level.

I drifted, with no goal in mind other than to experience, for time outside of time.

Something twigged my awareness.  Connected.


I slid slightly upwards - on the border of the white noise and this underlayment - and understood direction.


In reality...

And that's when the surface noise of the world - all the human stuff - abruptly crashed in on me  - painfully snapping me back to the blunted awareness of 'reality.'


Maybe someday, someone out there with experience flitting in and out of this layer of awareness will come along and teach me how to gracefully move between the layers - until then, I'm stuck bungling my way through.

I stretched tight muscles...I'd been sitting long enough for my feet to fall asleep.  It was only after I took inventory of my bruised psyche and pins & needles of restored blood-flow to my legs that I realized I could still feel that new twig - the new connection formed under the white noise. This new connection had stretched through the noise into 'reality,' and, while patient, was growing insistent.

I had to go north.

Soooo....grateful that I'd stuffed my wallet in my pocket, and my keys on my belt, I made my way back up the tracks to my car - and off I went.

Following the connection.  Having direction - A call - A mission - A duty - this did wonders for the irritation I'd been going through.  It was like a cold, soothing balm on abraded skin.

Ahhh...Calgon, take me away!

The lead lead - to the mall.


If there's one place on the face of this Earth that I despise with every fiber of my being, it's the mall.  Any mall.  It's filled with people!  With ALL the crazy consumerism!  And STUFF is more precious than anything else!   And the icing on this cake is an emotional punch of lust/greed/envy/desire/want... Want... 

I'd sooner cut my own arm off.

Sometimes, trust comes hard to me.  Here I am, sleep-deprived, hungry, un-showered, buzzing both physically and spiritually from a very hard empathic week, running completely on instinct, contemplating walking into a building FILLED with humans filled with consumerist impulses at a time when I was already overloaded.

Diagnosis?                          Completely.  Barking.  Mental.

But something was in there - something that reached through the various layers of noise and touched me. Connected with me.  Trusts me to find it.

I circled the mall parking lot - looking for a space, completely on instinct.  Trusting that instinct.  Feeling out where the call was closer.

I walked in the door.  Felt the emotional wash of a concentration of people.

Pursue the call, or go home and sort all this out?  

Trust the instinct...

Focusing on the call allowed me to walk through the surface emotional wash, much like I had when dropping through the noise layers.  The call captured my consciousness, and as long as I held onto it (like a drowning person will cling to a rope) I found I could move through, or allow the surface wash to pass through/around me without an impact.

I felt myself slipping into chameleon mode.


A conveniently placed escalator raised me to the second floor.


Walking, barely there in 'reality' down the hallway.  Sliding through the crowds, not touching, not feeling, not impacting.

I don't think I've ever been this deep in chameleon mode...before or since.  I probably could have bumped into someone and they wouldn't have noticed.


Into a store selling Egyptian-themed carvings, glassware, jewelry, papyrus drawings, clothing, incense...stuff.

I remember, with clarity, flashes of things - snapshots of what I saw imprinted on my visual cortex/nasal passages/auditory canals/fingertips/taste buds.

Racks of pyramid-shaped paperweights.
A waist-high statue of Anubis.
The rough edges of a papyrus-drawing of Cleopatra.
A glass-enclosed case of perfume bottles - bright swirls of red and green within the delicate glassware.
The glass case, smooth and cool to the touch.
A marble topped table, cross-hatched into a chess board. 
Marble chess pieces strategically placed to emote a game in progress.
Eastern music wailing from the speakers.
Shelves on the walls of books, statues, scarabs carved out of bone, stone, fused glasses.
Crossed swords suspended above the shelves, bright brass winking in the lights.
Nefertiti with her tall, blue crown.
A strong perfume smell of various cones and sticks of incense, thick on my tongue.
A hookah in the corner.
King Tut's death mask.

Stop in front of the jewelry counter - cold steel and smooth glass. 

Several elongated slices of Lapis Lazuli - smoothed, polished, drilled, ready to encase in a precious metal setting and wear.

I found you...

The shopkeeper removed the one I pointed to from it's soft fabric display, laid it in my hands.

INSTANT release.  The tangle of other people's emotions dropped away, the white noise crescendo-ed into the sound of crashing surf, then faded to...


A credit card swipe and a signature later, and my new partner would never leave me again.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Death by Bouncy Ball

Just to clarify - I took this picture with my eyes closed...

"I swear, I didn't think THAT would happen!!!"

Yea, famous last words, usually intoned with a degree of awe, shock, and slurred due to the heavy drinking done beforehand.

A variation of the first utterance would be "Whoa...whodathunkit???" depending on the amount of alcohol consumed, the length of time it took to consume it, the body-weight of the consumer and the amount of resistance they've built up over years of soaking their brain cells in beer.

If coma-by-beer is imminent, you may hear 'Whooooh!  YEA!" along with a string of four-letter words interspersed by sounds that don't correspond to any known language.

Did I mention that Wisconsin takes its beer as seriously (if not more so) than its baked goods? 

Wisconsin was home to Miller, Old Milwaukee, and Pabst Blue Ribbon beers once upon a time.
We've got micro-breweries in half our cities.

We've a lot of small towns in this state that can only be pronounced when the tongue is slightly anesthetized, lest you risk biting said muscle when trying to twist it into the proper contortion to pronounce  Oconomowoc, Manatowoc, Waukesha, Menomonie Falls, Sheboygan and Mukwonago.

Our pro-baseball team is called the Brewers, and they play at Miller Park (renamed for a HUGE pile of money when they rebuilt the stadium).

Another good (or bad, you decide...) alcohol-induced distinction Wisconsin held for years was the town of Watertown.  For decades, this little town, population 20k-ish, had 'more bars per capita than any other city in the world.'  I lived in Watertown for many years, and can confirm the title's accuracy.  Even today, you can't go more than 2 blocks in any given direction without finding a drinking establishment in front of you.

Safe to say, Wisconsinites are steeped in barley and hops from before we're born to after we've been put in the ground.  You can hear the livers within the state collectively pickling on any given warm summer night after the bars close... but you have to really listen.

shhhhh...hear that?

The University of Wisconsin/Madison (UWM) was known for years as THE party campus in the US before some puritan college administrator got a wild hair up their ass and started demanding muscle to tamp down the shenanigans.  I think it had something to do with proximity to the Capital Square, a bare mile east of, and a straight shot up State Street, away, and some busybody worrying about the 'public face' of higher education in the state.

Or maybe, they got drunk, and took a vow whilst dealing with the 'morning after' hangover.

I hate when that happens...

Yes, I realize that at any college in the States, you will find, on any given Friday or Saturday night, a kegger party or two (dozen) as very-young adults, on their own for the first time in their lives,  make the same bad decisions their parents did at the same age, and learn all about the consequences of those decisions.  Sometimes, dubious herbal substances make appearances at these same gatherings.

"higher" education at it's finest...  

At UWM - they didn't limit themselves to Friday and/or Saturday night.  Keggers on campus were every hour, on the hour, 24/7/365, excluding summers where everyone went home to drink.  You could set your watch by the sound of a new keg being tapped.

Well, a long time ago, on a campus far, far away (spacial/relative proximity irrelevant in story mode) there was a battle against those who frowned on hops, and those who celebrated the cold, gold, carbonated beverage-of-the-gods.  They were called the Dry's, and the Wet's.

After years of vicious fighting, in which much beer was spilled, many tongues (and fingers) wagged furiously, many mind-altering substances tried and celebrated, and far too much moral outrage exhibited, the Wet's and the Dry's came to an uneasy settlement which caused the cessation of hostilities.

The daylight hours were dedicated to study and education.  The nighttime hours were for recreational substances...and never the twain shall meet.

In Wisconsin - beer IS a solution
                                 (this tagline brought to you by the Chemistry Department at UWM)

Every college campus has a street or avenue or park 'dedicated' to the college after-class scene - where the young-adults gather for social purposes.  In Madison, this is State Street - the mile-long stretch of road linking the university campus to the Capital Square.  It's filled with little shops offering food, drinks, snacks, books, religious icons (big or small, we offer 'em all...), decadent desserts, clothing, recreational glassware, and oddball boutique-y/artsy items unique to denizens who congregate nightly. 

There are no 'chain' stores on State Street...the vibe is very intimate.  Very organic.  Very REAL.  The entire stretch is steeped in a Bohemian energy generated when people withOUT wealth have to use their creativity and imaginations to entertain themselves, instead of buying their entertainment pre-packaged and mass-produced to create income streams for the few who can buy into the system.  
I had the opportunity to walk the length and breadth of State the last weekend in September, to feel this intense vibe personally... properly chaperoned by two who have adopted (or is that the other way around?) the location.  I have to say - that vibe alone is intoxicating... no beer necessary.

Oooooo - what you said!!!

I can't wait to go back, armed with more than my little iPod for a camera, to attempt to capture the flavor of this little pocket of free-spirit energy.  As a whole, we humans really need to cherish these pockets, and figure out how to make them grow withOUT exploiting them for their 'income potential.'

But for now - I'll share the few photos I did manage to take with the iPod that are acceptable to the photographer within me.

I found this dragon-ship in a rock shop. 
Does anyone else see the humor in the term 'Rock Shop?' or is it just me?

This particular rock is a boat, carved from a single piece of jade.  Only the $400 price tag kept me from immediately adopting this ship to sail home with me.

Sadly, carving things out of rock are not part of my creativity package - I just have to be happy with looking, drooling, and photographing.


Another jade carving in the rock shop - a TEA set.  How could I NOT snap a photo of this one??

I may be back to the rock shop to capture more images of this one, and incorporate them into the blog.  Stay tuned!

Here would be the resident water feature on the square.  I've found 'wealth' delights in adding artistic water pieces any time they want to impress the masses.  Any time I find such an object, I make it a habit to introduce myself to the water spirits of the place.  So, I played with the water for a bit - shook hands with the resident spirit, as it were - and snapped a couple of quickies after thanking the water for contributing to the vibration of the area.

I WANTED to capture the Capital dome backlit by the sunset, but the scene wouldn't cooperate with me - the angles were wrong no matter where I stopped to frame the shot.  This was the best shot I could get of the dome and one of the statues lining the square.

Someone parked a few circus wagons at the junction of State Street and the Square - this one was one of my favorites with the heavy gilding making the carved figures pop against the rich blue wood.
My kids took me to this little, hole-in-the-wall pizza place for a respite against all the walking we were doing.  This place sold pizza by the slice.  Not impressive-sounding?  The slices were HUGE.  They hung off the edges of a regular dinner plate.  I couldn't finish my single slice of Ham and Pineapple.
And the toppings?  More varieties than I could count. 

I captured myself in this shot - I'm in the left (appropriate, no?) corner of the mirror.


I love to decorate with light - so did some of the shops on State Street.  These 2 pictures show one window-decoration where the shop-owners showed off some of their very-impressive light fixtures. 

I really, really, REALLY want this one!!!!

I love the mix of old-world and high-tech blended together around the Capital square.  You can see this mix all up and down State Street.

Part of what makes this particular photo 'work' is the mix: it's both over- and under-exposed in the same shot.  I actually stood in the middle of a side street to capture this one - with the kids watching for cars coming up behind me.  I had JUST enough time to frame, shoot, and move out of the way of the car racing to catch the green light.

"But wait!" you cry, angered at your computer screen. 



I bought one recently, when visiting a little hot-dog shack with my youngest son.  He originally snorted and rolled his eyes in true teen fashion, disbelief radiating from every pore that his MOTHER would go to such lengths to embarrass him by purchasing a toy crafted for children - not the young-adult he's aspiring to be.

Once we got through the posturing, the teen image maintained and the illusion strengthened, we bounced the thing back and forth in the parking lot - enjoying ourselves with this simple sphere of rubber.  The amusement was had for the bargain-price of three quarters fed to a glass and aluminum machine and a simple twist of a handle.

The ant, unfortunately, suffered a painful and rather surprising end as the ball crushed him to a tiny moist spot on the pavement.


This has been another 'slightly to the Left of Reality' brain wandering...