Monthly Archives: June 2011

Celebrating 6 Months of Postaday2011

June 30, 2011 – the last day of June, the mid-point of this year. To all the postaday2011 bloggers, this is halfway! Congratulations!

You are doing it – blogging daily, sometimes, often.

Inook Sook - Cairn - Marking the Day! Celebrate!

Today’s image – Inook Sook I built on Lake Superior – pronounced Inook-Shook in Ojibwe. Inooksooks are used as markers – way markers, reference points, trail markers, directional markers, or to identify and share places and events of special meaning. The spelling I use is from an Ojibwe elder.

(According to Wikipedia it’s mostly an arctic tradition, yet my Native American friends tell me they have been built here for eons.)

In English – It’s a Cairn – Wikipedia has interesting info.  So, Congratulations, fellow postaday2011, postaweek2011, or weekly photo challenge participants. Celebrate your success. You are still here, writing profoundly or not, writing humor, laughing, or whatever floats your boat or rocks you.

I started the postaday 2011 challenge late – I didn’t find out about it until January 8th. I was home from work, sick, and when I made the commitment, I didn’t realize that it was because I was home sick that I had time to sit and write and edit photos everyday. My first “offcial” post a day 2011 post started with: “What may be mundane to some, becomes important to others…” I atill have no idea what is important to others…

I have succeeded in part, yet not posting every day. Out of a possible 180 opportunities (days) I have posted 50 posts including this one. Graded by a teacher on percentages, I would flunk! Another failure! The former over-achieving perfectionist in me says “YES!”

 Seen another way, I have succeeded. I have been writing everyday, not always posting. I have learned to recycle images and writing. I am taking more photographs less often. I have learned that “likes” bump your blog up in the search engines. I have learned that maybe not that many people care about  what I have to say. I have learned that maybe my writing sucks? I have also learned that some people LOVE my photographs and what I say about them. Others like my poems. I have read some great blogs and some that are meant for someone else to read. I started with some blog buddies.  Now, I follow some interesting blogs including:  

 bwinbwinmusic

 Life in the Bogs 

 Inside & Out – Marge Mercurio     

I drop-in on some friends to see what they are up to. One friend is homeless in California and only gets to blog once in a while from the library…. And she is one of the most upbeat people I know! Her blog, Birthing your Creative Fire is about what it is like being homeless.

One friend is creating a butterfly a day at My Butterfly Year –  and another  is teaching people about bullying and how to generate kindness instead: Hearts that Care.

 Many of my friends are very creative… and I prefer joyous, thoughtful, informative, enlightening, educational.. I also found out that it takes a lot of computer time to really read stuff. Maybe I am slow? My computer is slow… I still have not figured out how to get the blogs I like into the side bar and don’t know if it’s the theme I use or my own impatience.

My own life in the past 6 months has been a roller coaster – about which I choose not to write, except occasionally. In brief: My phone has been turned off – and back on, a couple of times. My internet has been turned off – and back on, a couple of times. My electricity – same story. In March, my computer died and was resurrected, thanks to a European friend who ordered the part on e-bay and had it shipped to me. In April I changed jobs. In May, I hit a deer with my truck and smashed them both up.  Good things: I was unhurt and I have great insurance! For the month of May, when gas prices soared, I got to drive a rental car that got great mileage- a miracle, since I drive 60 miles round trip to work. I lost an old friend, and made many new ones. I have listened to and read umpty-seven online classes and seminars on how to use the internet for marketing, how to improve my writing, how to be braver, how to find the love of my life, how to love the love of my life, how to get rid of the feelings I have for the love of my life,  how to parent better, how to love better, how to make more money, how to save money,  how to focus more, how to focus less, how write more, how take better pictures, how to say what I want, how to ask, how to give, how to receive, how to eat, how to pray… and how to blog.

For today I will simply celebrate and mark this day as halfway to somewhere and looking forward to the ongoing journey of sharing and learning. Is it art? Poetry? Photography? Sharing? Giving? Have a wonderful postaday2011.

Celebrate your successes. I am. I’m still here – blogging sparkling, laughing. 

Namaste ~ Starbear

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A Little Story…

The Understory

An editor once told me “Everyone has a story.” The woods have many stories and understories. This is one… It is about the simple beauty of the early summer understory and a delight filled traffic jam in the woods.

Under Story Speaks

Under Story Speaks

On a recent trip to the beach studio, I was waylaid for over an hour. The path goes from the top of a ridge, down a steep side trail through hardwoods. At the bottom of this path is a tranquil space of transition where the deep woods understory fades into sand, beach grass, ferns, and a plethora of tiny growth. Then the path goes through some more brush and sand. Animal and sometimes human tracks become visible in this stretch. Once through this twisty path, the world opens to sand, sky, beach grass and a sprinkling of twisted low pines. Then there are two dunes to climb and descend before reaching the beach and the expanse of Lake Superior. In all, the trek is about a three-quarters of a mile and usually takes about 15 minutes. Sometimes it takes longer, depending on the amount of equipment being backpacked… or a traffic jam.

On this particular day, there was a total traffic jam in the understory at the edge of the woods. More than an hour “stuck” going… nowhere? The wild orchids, starflowers, fuzzy ferns, and other tiny blooms were so abundant it was difficult to move ahead. Each careful step brought a new bloom into view. The late daylight was at a perfect angle, the wildflowers, the whole woods, inviting me to stop and play…. And then they began to speak with such joy, wisdom and kindness. When the woods speak, I listen.

This is their story in their words, as told to Sparkling Star Bear:

“Look at us! We won’t be here long! Look at me!” the Tiny Purples shouted in their brilliance.

Tiny Purples

Tiny Purples

“And look at me, too!” Starflower called quietly. “See how slender and graceful my leaves are…” it said shyly, ” and I have tiny yellow dots on my petals.”

Delicate Star said ".. and I have tiny yellow dots on my petals, too."

The neighbors proclaimed boldly, “We have 4 fat white petals and 7 broad dark leaves! We are neighbors of the star… not as showy as the purples, yet we accent them in contrast. We offset their brilliance in our numbers… We are the chorus to their solos! As backdrop in this play ground… we are important, too! When we get older we will have bright red berries!”

The Neighbors - A Chorus of White and Green

“I am Fuzzy Fern unfurling, and I will be deep green and large in a week. Don’t fiddle around! I will soon cover those tiny wild things with my shade…”  Said Sir Fern, giggling and nodding in the breeze.

Sir Fuzzy Fern Unfur;ing, fiddling around....

Then all the greens began to clamor… “Over here, look over here, please! I am bright, I am light, I am yellow green!” the chorus chanted.

“I am deep green” said a full voice firmly, echoing richly between the trees. Then it added, “I am leaves, I am needles. I am growing and changing. I am dark, I am light. I am living and dying,  I am old, I am young, all at the same time.”

The patient pines gracefully waved their fresh fingers of growth. “Touch me, I’m so soft,” one whispered, beckoning it’s out stretched hand. “Take my hand, smell my perfume if you wish..”

"Touch me..." Soft fingers invited

“Oh! You are so soft and so is your color…” I said as I reached out to gently respond to the invitation. “Your smell is so fresh! So green! So clean and crisp! Thank You!”

Pale Moss piped in. “I am pale blue green.  Aren’t I pretty? I am soft, too,  and although I look delicate, I am tough and resilient. You may lie on me, rely on me, to meet the tiny purples, if you want…”

“Thank you, I accept youroffer.”  Pale Moss then softly cradled me as I lay eye to eye with Purple.

From beneath Pale Moss, Dead Brown Leaves spoke calmly, richly,  “We nurture and accept all, without question. We support new life. Thank you for being here,  noticing us,  as humble as we are. The ancestors Thank You, too. It is time for you to leave, now. It will be growing dark soon. The last light will be perfect for your otherwork…  if you leave now. We look forward to speaking with your again.”

Pale Moss & Dead Brown Leaves

“You are welcome, Dead Leaves. And thank you for your nurturing and advice.”

Heeding Sir Fern’s stern, yet kind message, and Dead Leaves affirmation, I continued to the beach… Joyfully laughing and thanking these little woodlings for their kindness, story, colors and wisdom. They filled my palette, my eyes, my heart and my head, with wisdom, joy, happiness, laughter. In return, they merely asked thatI tell their story of living together, sharing, changing, growing. And so it is told.

To hear these voices and meet these flowers, sometimes requires getting close to the earth, on hands and knees, then lying down on my belly with my third eye open… My third eye is my camera, connected to my heart, all of my senses.  Sometimes I get to crawl through traffic jams, slowly, like a child and listen to stories in the woods.

May you listen quietly to little voices. Let them speak without judgement, like a child, from the heart.

Namaste ~ Star Bear

Copyright 2011 Betsy Lewis

Weekly Photo Challenge: Refreshing

Constant Consistent Refreshing

Constant
consistent
refreshing
water
elemental
sparkling
renewing
untiring
inspiring
beauty
strength
softness
meets
stone
wearing
away
hardness
smoothing
edges
gently
shaping
washing
all
clean

May your day be refreshing, wherever you are! Dance with the sparkles of your life ~ here now.
Namaste ~ Star Bear
All images and words – copyright 2011 Betsy Lewis

Weekly Photo Challenge: Refreshing (& Confused…)

Refreshing 2 ~ Muskallonge Lake

Passing Muskallonge Lake, on the way to a favorite beach on the “Big Lake” (Lake Superior), 7:00 Sunday morning the temp was 45 F – brisk and refreshing. No wind and still water a reflecting mirror. It was so very calm and refreshing, with no bugs…

Calm didn’t last long… at 7:15 a logging truck rumbled by. Followed the loggers all the way to Lake Superior. It only took them 2 hours to load and truck out 2 – 3 double trailers full of timber.

I have mixed feelings about logging here.
It’s big business, controlled by the State of Michigan on State Forest Land and loggers often work 7 days a week. The timber is sold and the State makes money. Michigan is desperate for jobs and money…
We’ll see if they clean up or just leave the slash… “Slash” is the term used for what is left – anything under 6″ in diameter. In many countries and other states, slash is bundled and processed, becoming bio-mass fuel, creating less demand for fossil fuel. Not here. In Michigan, legislators from the lower part of the state LOVE coal burning electical generating plants… and want to build 6 more to keep up with rising energy demands.

Logging is no longer done like the Paul Bunyon stories, one tree at a time. It is now called “harvesting” and the computerized equipment used is amazingly efficient. A tree that took 25-30+ years to grow can be cut, stripped, stacked in a minute…

Logging creates much needed work here… and yet, somehow it makes me sick to see this beautiful pristine place cut in ribbons, laid waste.
Somedays, I feel really old and anti-progress… and some days nothing in the beautiful Upper Peninsula makes sense… after all, we are truly part of
“Pure Michigan” and somedays it seems like a false campaign… not including logging in the background at some of the most beautiful places here…

“The soul loves the truth” ~ Denise Linn
May your day be filled with refreshing sparkling honesty.

Namaste ~ StarBear

Weekly Photo Challenge: Refreshing

Refreshing ~ Lake Superior

Water
refreshing
fresh water sparkling
Lake Superior
~ 10% of the world’s fresh water

Learn more at Lake Superior Day: July 17, 2011

Namaste ~ Star Bear from the Sparkling Shore

Weekly Photo Challenge: Worn

Weather Worn

Weather Worn ~ Time Worn

worn
weather worn
time worn
old barn
leaning north back into time…
seen from the west
scene in Lapeer
past life, passed often.

Namaste~ Star Bear

Lunar Eyes Mesmerize

Oh! Such eyes!

Luna Eyes Mesmerize

Capturing the image of the Luna Moth was such a gift! Then I was totally blown away by what was visible in close ups… The color and furriness of this beautiful moth was absolutely breathtaking.
How amazing it is now to be able to see (and share) such detail with the aid of a camera without having to destroy the moth in the process…
Creator is such a magnificent designer… I am constantly awestruck and humbled by nature’s designs.

Namaste ~ StarBear

Light Gifts

Luna Moth - Actias Luna

Flying Eyes ~ Night Gifts


Moon Moth wings
Color sings
Luna eyes
mesmerize
Beauty surrounds
Silent sounds
Circles of Moonlight
Night gifts found
on the doorstep at dawn.

May your day be filled with beautiful gifts!

Namste~StarBear
Copyright 2011 Betsy Lewis
The adult Luna Moth may only live about 7 days, depending on location and may only produce one generation.
Google Luna Moth for more or check out:
Wikipedia
Actias Luna

Sharing Light ~ Summer Solstice

Light Dancing


Today is the annual turning point in the cycle dance of seasons and time. Summer Solstice. May this day be joyful and light for you and everyone on the planet. Where I live, for the next few days, it will be getting light at about 4:30 am and staying light until nearly 11:00 pm. I will celebrate at the beach, in touch with water, rocks, light and the timeless energy and abundance of Lake Superior. Some of my friends are dancing for peace at Thirsty Dance. I miss them and was unable to attend this year… yet I will dance with them at the beach.
I will be sharing my joy and sadness and hopes and dreams that humanity is beginning to see the light, that more people will care for people and the planet we share.
These links seemed fitting for today:
GOOD STUFF: StarStruck

Some Not so good news about the oceans.

I am grateful for the internet and our ability to share around the world. As Leonard Cohen sings, so beautifully, “Ring the bells…There is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in…” You can listen here.
Another Leonard Cohen song, fitting today, If It Be Your Will…

So today, I dance, I sing, I love, I share, I let the light in and out. Breathing light -ly.
May you share your light with the world!

Namaste~Star Bear

Between Days

Today is a “between” day… the day between Father’s Day and Summer Solstice. I am grateful for having had my dad in my life for the first 19 years. He encouraged my art, my persistence, my patience, my curiosity. He taught me to be outgoing, fun, friendly. He laughed with us, played with us. He took me to beaches and horse barns and events. I loved him dearly. I know he is always watching, helping, loving and supporting me, even though he left this physical life long ago.

Tomorrow is Summer Solstice. That, too is a special day, marking time on nature’s clock… I am taking tomorrow off from my “job” to do my real work. To go to the studio… to dance, to live, to celebrate life! And I will not be alone…

This post is from last summer and it speaks for me still:

About the Labyrinth ~ and how I work.
Many questions are asked about the artwork I produce and how I work. Taking time to answer a few, let’s use the Labyrinth as a starting point.

First, someone asked,
How did you find so many stones to match in color, shape and size?
The short answer: Keep my eyes open, go where there are a lot of stones.
The long answer: I think of the beach near my home as Creator’s art supply store, full of wonderous materials for making art and finding beauty. With 31 MILES of wilderness beach at my feet, it is rich and abundant, filled with colors and shapes. Lake Superior’s beaches offer some of the most colorful stones on the planet. The inventory rotates with storms and wave actions, thus it changes regularly. Often, I think of the beach as “my studio,” a wide open space, full of creativity and a place to “play” with ideas.

Where do your ideas come from?
Short answer: Creator, being inspired by a word, a group, or an experience. Ideas flow easily when I am in touch with Joy.
Long answer: The week I created the Labyrinth, I had set aside time to celebrate the completion of Denise Linn’s 28 week Soul Coaching course. There were 700+ participants from all over the world. When I want to fully connect spiritually, I go to the “beach studio,” where the energy flows freely from all directions of the universe. It is where I meditate and express gratitude for all that I am blessed with. As part of this day’s celebration, I knew that Denise was in California, offering a celebration ceremony for the entire group, and we had been told of the date and time. It was during this time I went to the beach.
The Labyrinth was not what I had “planned” on doing this day. It just “came” to me. It was cold, windy, and I was wearing snowmobile clothes to be warm in the wind in April. A “perfect” day at the beach!

A small part of "my beach studio"

It's easy to find materials at this art supply store!

I had planned to simply meditate and perhaps build something small, yet monumental, as a momento of closure for the group and my participation. Searching for large stones to build something simple, I began once again to notice all of the beautiful flat round stones around me. It felt as if each stone represented a participant in the course, and they each ”spoke” to me with color and shape. As I gathered stones, I still had no idea what form they would take. Sitting with a small pile of stones and rubbing my hands together, the North wind was freezing! I had to get moving to stay warm.

Then I realized the wind was my ally! It was creating fresh canvases for me to “draw” on. A hawk feather blew near – Hawk – my personal keen eyed helper. I placed the hawk feather upright in the sand, where I first began to build… and it blew away while I was gathering more stones. It only blew a few feet away, to a better canvas…! I stood the feather up once more in the sand, as a blessing to the group and a sign from Creator – build here – do this!
And the labyrinth took form… each stone placed, guided by commitment, inspiration, joy and gratitude for 28 weeks of participation with a group of people I’ve never even met in person, but with whom I was strongly connected. The Labyrinth emerged, evolved after that, effortlessly. As each stone was carefully placed, it was as if I was taking another step in the Labyrinth – Walking Stones.
When I was finished, I looked for the Hawk Feather – it had gone with the wind!

How do you get the stones into such a perfect circle, spiral?
Short answer: Practice, practice, practice.
Long answer: I decided, at age nine, that I wanted to learn to draw a perfect circle without a compass. I spent weeks, one summer, practicing every day. I drew on newpapers, discarded envelopes, on the backs of letters. I drew with pens, pencils, crayons, chalk on sidewalks, drew in the dirt with sticks. (Today I would probably be carted off and diagnosed with OCD.) I was determined to be able to draw…better! Learning this skill has served me well. I can draw almost anything, with anything, on anything!
Did you draw a spiral first in the sand?
I did not draw the Labyrinth. I can “see” the shape I want and place things where they need to be to form that shape. In this case, I created a “drawing” using stones as dots… connecting the dots, connecting the people, connecting energy…

How long did it take to build the labyrinth?
Short answer: A few hours, an afternoon.
Long answer: My whole life. Learning to draw, learning to express myself in visual form is an ongoing process of practice, learn, do, be and practice some more. I “borrowed” part of this answer from Alexander Calder, sculptor, inventor of the mobile, the stabile and an artist with a great sense of humor! In an interview, someone asked him how long it took for him to create a simple line drawing on a paper napkin. They had seen him draw it in a few seconds, but when asked how long it took him to make such a beautiful drawing, he answered “A lifetime.” He was in his seventies, I believe, at the time. His answer helped me realize that we bring our selves, our life experiences, our sense of humor, our love for people, AND a lifetime of learning art skills to the making of art. The more I have developed my skills, the easier they are to use.
The Labyrinth continues as a project. I will continue to watch it and take more images of it, to see it in different light.

Why do you do this kind of art?
Short answer: It inspires me and it’s fun work. (It’s also how I make my living.)
Long answer: It is environmentally friendly art. Using what nature offers, I build, I draw, sometimes I paint, using the colors of the stones as a palette. It is a way to be active and outdoors, moving, thinking, planning. It requires that I be cognizant of the patterns of weather, time of day, movement of the sun and light. It engages my senses and sensibilities, fully, and time clocks become meaningless. Noticing the sun, the light become reminders of time to rest. (Oh, and my sometimes growly stomach!)

Where the Labyrinth lives - for now!

6 Weeks Later

Then, later, I photograph, over time, letting nature change the image. Different times of day, different light, makes a whole different picture. The wind moves the sand, creating a variety of textures – changes the canvas. I love watching these changes, often very subtle, sometimes very slow. The Labyrinth still exists, at this remote beach, and in an ongoing series of photographs.

Questions? Please ask… there may be an answer.
Comments? Please do!
Thank you for asking, reading, visiting, enjoying!

Betsy Lewis