Archive for August, 2009

Helen’s Own Bench

Wisdom is a life that knows it is living.

(Unknown, from a film on Frederick Franck)


Pacem in Terris 2009 Makes me wonder who Helen is...

We do a lot of looking: we look through lenses, telescopes, television tubes…Our looking is perfected every day, but we see less and less. (Franck)

One of the joys of Pacem in Terris is that there’s always SOMETHING different.  I would have expected that to change after Frederick Franck‘s death in 2006, but it hasn’t.

A short film is set up for viewing in one of the display rooms off the main house, and for the first time I heard Frederick speak, about his art, his inspiration, his love of his wife.  It was so touching to experience it, especially since I never saw him in person.

Artwork is relocated and added, and the garden always looks different as well.  It now has a spiral path, which we walked, and we meditated with a lap labyrinth in the middle under the sculpture that reads “The meaning of life is to see”.

Art is neither a profession nor a hobby. Art is a way of being.


IMG_8319 copy

Playing with a new camera technique. The brightness was increased in post processing but the motion effect was all done with the camera.

I took photos, some purposely similar to my last photo excursion there (see the last post), and the rest I tried to do something different – with a few happy accidents and successful experiments as shared here.

When you go on a pilgrimage, you set out from where you happen to be and start walking toward a place of great sanctity in the hope of returning from it renewed, enriched and sanctified.

Pacem in Terris is not tied to any particular religion, but to all. . . and to none. For I hope that it may speak also to those who, while shunning religious labels, share fully in the specifically human quest for meaning and for values to live by.

For to be human or not to be, that is the question!


Pacem in Terris





(New photos from Pacem in Terris)

Finally Friday


Colorsplash camera, dancing at PEX at Playa Del Fuego

Developed more film from my colorsplash and fisheye cameras.  Better than the first attempts, but I’m less enthused about them than I should be.  They will be going to Burning Man however, I think the day shots will come out well with fisheye (the flash isn’t working on this well either- ugh) and nighttime – well the colorsplash flash works half the time. Oh well.


Fisheye camera, Brimsteam steampunk LARP ("The Century Rose" sign)

Anyway.  I am falling more and more in love with the Digital Photography forums.  Great ideas, advice, tutorials.  Less pressure of needing more and more expensive equipment – though I still lust over new lenses… and eventually a new camera body. >.<  But they are a great mix of levels of expertise, I don’t feel bad posting shots that I think would be laughed at by pros, and I can see that my work is better than a good number of people sharing.  Ego wise, it’s the perfect mix to really learn.

I shared a few older shots that fit assignments and closed competitions, and I’m seeing that I already know more (and have a better camera compared to my last) than I did a few years ago.  Again, this is great to realize that I am improving and can get even better.

Seriously I have to restrain myself from going to the store right now and getting a new toy.

I definitely want to do more with digital than film.  The price of two partial rolls and CD’s with digital version, well, that’s 1/3 of a CHEAP lens.  I’ll still use them, especially for places I don’t want to risk my good camera and don’t mind “lomo” style shoot from the hip shots, but my heart isn’t there.  Especially when both cameras are technically broken and the flash is unreliable.

OK – off for a weekend of relaxation (maybe some photos?) tonight, major cleaning/decluttering tomorrow, to be rewarded with an adventure Sunday to one of my sacred spots that my love has yet to see!  Oooooh I haven’t been there since getting the dSLR, maybe I SHOULD splurge on a new lens first… 😛

Have a wonderful weekend!!

A little bit of luck

IMG_7198 aged

This summer, at one point my love and I both found four leaf clovers within a week of each other.

Am I lucky to have him in my life or what??  😀

(finally got around to some exploring of free photoshop action set downloads, and this is one of the pics I played with.)

So – a squee post over all things Burning Man. Maybe it’s even going to be my version of what new attendees should know. We’ll see how long I can spend on it today 😛

First, theme camp placements are out. There’s a list, there’s a list by address, another by address but color coded, there’s an interactive map, oh and if you didn’t have it, a map of the city.


My modified map, with some important (to us!) locations

Random and I are camping with Homebrew for a Homebrew, which is a registered theme camp for the first time this year!  That also means we moved.  We are going to be along Evolution (the OUTER ring around Center Camp) close to the 6:00 spoke.  (Note that if you are walking along DNA, this should also take you right in front of our camp. Though the addresses are approximate, once you get near the intersection you should be able to find it.)

We’ll be spending a lot of time at PEX – Esplanade and 8 – as well as other favorites… Camp Jersey is in the 4:30 keyhole plaza (in the plaza if the Man is at 12, they are at 7).  Whiskey and Whores were placed at the 7:30 keyhole, and we’ve been asked to help out with a bartender shift as they will have much more traffic! 😀  Some of the people from our conclave group are with the OMCC, at Center Camp and 3.  And well, there’s hundreds of other theme camps too!

A larger number than expected were rejected from official placement (due to a smaller city than last year and more applications), and there will be a separate what-where-when guide that many of these camps are compiling together.  Don’t worry there will be plenty of fun stuff to see and do!

Though I hate having a schedule, we’ll have more of one this year than ever before.  A friend of ours will be having a wedding out there!  Wednesday night we will perform with our conclave group at PEX.  Since the Shiva Vista stage is burning Thursday night, I expect we’ll try to spin there during open spin times on Wednesday night.  We’ll need to figure out when we are bartending at Whiskey and Whores, and Saturday night of course is our main conclave performance before the Man burns!


Since I talk about it a lot – if you don’t know what Burning Man is, go to   My blog about last year is here.  I did a blog for my town blog in two parts – here and here.  Those are the best places to get started – though there are lots of places you can find anyone’s thoughts on the event or search for photos.  (Oh my photos are here – but taken with disposable cameras, I leave the good shots to those who take better ones out there!)

If you think you could never camp in the desert, I just want to say that’s what I thought and this will be my 4th burn.  You’d be surprised.  Weather can be harsh, it’s hot in the day and cold at night, but it’s really not that bad.  Sit around in the shade if it’s too hot.  Do whatever you have to do during dust storms.  (Hunker down or go for a walk! Just be CAREFUL because some people still insist on driving/biking in white out conditions.) Try not to expect any one thing, and be open to everything (at least everything within your boundaries – though it’s fun to push them a bit :D)


What’s that? You got a ticket? Great!!  If it’s your first time, here’s some help.

GO READ THE SURVIVAL GUIDE.  Even if you have been before!  The first timers guide will also have good advice.  Send an email to to subscribe to the Jack Rabbit Speaks – there’s been a bunch of resource emails sent already this summer, if you need back copies try looking here

You are going to have a million questions, but those places have most of the answers.  Where to camp, what to bring, what not to bring…

Our previous NJ regional rep did a series of youtube vids to share his advice, and it’s pretty good! Part One, Part Two, Part Three.  A great example of what you always should have with you is here on Flickr, with lots of notes.  (And bring all THAT as well as food/water in YOUR car! I’ve caravaned out with other drivers, and we were stuck in a dust storm before entering the event and ran out of water and food as it was in another car. We ran into them eventually, but be prepared!)

So – things not to bring or that don’t work.  Cell phones don’t work.  Satellite phones do but are expensive.  Walkie talkies can work but hundreds of people use the same channel, probably not worth it. No (or limited) wifi access.  Prepare to be totally offline.  In the event of emergencies, there’s always ways to get in touch with back home.  Don’t bring pets, guns, fireworks, anything illegal pretty much.  Don’t bring anything that would completely gut you if it was lost or destroyed.  Do not bring feather boas – they leave feathers everywhere and it’s a “Leave No Trace” event!

Bring:  (in addition to regular camping gear – which needs special attention for dust and high winds, read up on that on the site/survival guide)

– goggles (sunglasses may work for most of the time but you will want a good pair of goggles!!)

– dust masks and bandanas.  Bandanas again will be enough most of the time.

– headlamp. Do not shine headlamp in the eyes of people you are talking to.  For walking around, I’ll hang it around my neck – lights the ground, not who I look at.

– extra one-ply toilet paper.

– a bike if you can.  This year the city is back to 2007 size, and more manageable on foot.  You can get by either way, but a bike is nice.

– camelback bag, or a back pack with room for water bottles.  (And start drinking water NOW! lots of it!)

– emergen-C because plain water gets boring.

– a sarong. My favorite thing to have with me – it’s a skirt, a dress, a blanket, protection from the sun or dust storm, extra warmth if you are cold. I also love armwarmers for adding warmth without a lot of bulk in the bag at night.

– fun blinkies/glowies.  Eh, even if you hate ravers and despise the environmental impact (we’re trying to do more battery operated things now), cars and bikes can hit you in the dark if you don’t have something. El-wire is awesome and you can put it on just about anything.

– chapstick

– sunblock

– hand sanitizer

– first aid kit and any medicines you take

– baby wipes

– moisturizer

– a hat or parasol to keep the sun off.

– vinegar. if you go in sandals or barefoot, once a day, wash your feet with a mixture of vinegar and water (1 part vinegar to 3-4 parts water? I think…)  Slather on moisturizer and clean socks.  Trust me.

– Extra clean socks. 2 pair per day plus a few to spare.

– cash for ice/coffee.  That’s all that’s for sale out there!

– something fun/funny/entertaining that no one would expect you to have in the desert

– card game or something for when you are waiting out a dust storm

– extras of anything to share

– fun costumes/accessories.  If you are stressing because you don’t have costumes, just wear whatever you WISH you could wear in your daily life.  The sky is the limit, just put on lots of sunblock and a towel to sit on if you go au natural 😀

– gallon ziplock bags.  They keep things clean.  I get too many of them and have trouble finding stuff, I may scale down.  But I also get the bigger ones, they have all sizes, for socks, underwear, and costuming that is hard to wash and I want to keep cleaner.  Also, if you are flying home right from the event, put a set of clean clothes and important items all together in a bag and don’t open until you are off the playa!

This is only part of what you should pack – but it’s a lot of the essentials.  Google “Burning Man Packing List” and you’ll get lots of links to more exhaustive lists.  And don’t forget your ticket!!!

For more help, I’d be happy to answer questions, or hop on to E-Playa (the official forum) or Tribe (has many groups  devoted to Burning Man, and one for virgins each year) and lots of people will help you out.

On Creativity and Compassion

Inspiration of the day – my friend blogged about artist Merce Cunningham who passed away, and it highlights several artists who helped re-define what art is.  My favorite part is the last sentence, but had to quote the entire section –

It was their relationship of the creative life to all life that has drawn me into their work.  They would focus on bringing the creative process into what are often times considered “non art” activities….they would have festivities in a moment’s notice, carry with them a feeling of always creating something, of everyday adventures.  They believed in living out loud in front of others so the world would wake up and see that the smallest things in life can be a celebration.

That is how I choose to honor Merce, to continue to live my own life with that kind of imagination and authenticity, and to encourage others to do the same.  We are ALL artists, constantly creating.  No matter what our medium..even if we don’t have a definable medium…it’s the way in which we author our lives that is so important.  Art is not to dazzle others as M.C. Richards, a contemporary and friend of Merce, once said. “It is to reveal the secrets of our hearts so that others seeing that witness, will have the courage to reveal the secrets of their own hearts.”

This is the path I’ve been on as well – while I’ve always loved doing creative things, this way of looking at art, how we live, and how we express who we are really started at Burning Man for me.  I was always drawn to it, but never found it in such abundance until then.  And I’m still struggling to do this, as lately it seems not much that I do is very creative.  Lately I’ve been absorbing inspiration, but it’s just kinda sitting there building up.  But to figure out exactly how to put this inspiration and energy to best use is challenging, and I feel like there’s never enough time in the day.

However her post reinforced in me that it’s a 24-7 thing, even if I’m not creating a tangible piece of art.  I just need to remember that.   And when we are tapped into that realization, and live with intention, I think that’s being in the flow.

ETA:  Excellent timing, universe… a friend just linked to this on facebook.  Great video, but stay for the end credits and story!!

The past week has also had an emotional journey.  A man went missing, and I followed the story on facebook as I know someone who is a close friend of his.  As I reposted messages from friends and family, asking for prayers or help with the search party in California, I learned a little about him and his life.  But the message that touched me was one that was related to his mother through a psychic.

If you do not generally believe in such things, I dare you to just suspend those thoughts and listen to the message.  Just for a moment think about what it would mean to embrace it and make it part of our lives.

Elias says repeatedly that what happened was like an unfortunate accident. It shouldn’t have happened. The person involved needs compassion.

Elias is adamant that he wants everyone to react with love and compassion. He wants a circle of people, whoever is capable, to hold space at the same time every day for compassion meditation and to let him know what time that will be so that he can join us.

He does not want so much energy put on what happened. Put energy into love and compassion. People are digging, he says, seeking with too much frustration to find out what happened. Surrender and allow it to be revealed. Taking action is good, but don’t focus too much on seeking.

He says that this whole event is a lesson. He wants us to learn the lesson! If we focus on the wrong things we may not learn the lesson.

He is grateful that I am open to allowing this lesson to be learned. He wants us to show love for all – not just him. And to have no vindictiveness. He wants there to be complete forgiveness.

Elias wants us to proceed with compassion every step of the way.

Emotions need to be released, to be honored and allow them to flow through like a stream, but don’t let them constrict you. So the key is to honor your emotions without holding them inside.

He wants to raise the vibration. Use less intellect. Keep returning to the love or we will miss the lesson. The lesson is about love.

(excerpts – for full text see here)

At a time where you can imagine his friends and family are frantically searching for him, hoping he is still alive, full of fear…  His main message is of love and compassion, not for him but for those who did this to him.

I know most of us hold grudges for far less serious offenses.

I don’t know if I can have love for those who did this, but looking at the faces of three men arrested in association with this case, I tried to hold compassion.  I wondered what happened in their life that led them to where they are today.  Was it an accident?  Or, had they been hurt so badly that they only know how to hurt others? Were they even the ones who did it?

Lyrics from a song by Kristin Hoffmann called “No Love” run through my head – she ponders what hell someone went through to get to the point where they abuse (or do worse) to someone else.  “there`s no right or wrong to decide just the cause and effect of life”.

The mystery of Elias’ disappearance is still unsolved.  Police are treating it as a homicide although his body has not been found.  While I hope anyone found guilty in the investigation is charged and serves an appropriate sentence, the message of being open to all possibilities has stuck with me.

Elias (through the transmission) asked his mother to choose a Sufi poem, and she shared the following.

A poem of Hafiz

The violin
Can forgive the past

It starts singing.

When the violin can stop worrying
About the future

You will become
Such a drunk laughing nuisance

That God
Will then lean down
And start combing you into
His Hair.

When the violin can forgive
Every wound caused by

The heart starts

So yeah.  The dance continues.  Love and compassion.  Creativity and authenticity.  Intention and celebration.  Heavy thoughts for a Monday, but then Mondays when you are stuck somewhere that is the opposite of many of those things need this sometimes.

I may have posted this quote before, but want to post it again…  and upon doing so I realize that “art” (the kind of art discussed up top) could replace the word “faith”.  I’m trying to embrace this fully – as well as exploit it as a reference that nowhere does “clean house” or “laundry” appear on the list…   😛

This is my living faith, an active faith, a faith of verbs:
to question, explore, experiment, experience, walk, run, dance, play, eat, love, learn, dare, taste, touch, smell, listen, argue, speak, write, read, draw, provoke, emote, scream, sin, repent, cry, kneel, pray, bow, rise, stand, look, laugh, cajole, create, confront, confound, walk back, walk forward, circle, hide, and seek.
To seek: to embrace the questions, be wary of answers.
~Terry Tempest Williams

And so I leave you with this tribute to the lives of those who affect us, and may we remember that how we live each day is the message we’ll leave behind us as well.