Homestead - High Level, Alberta
Images and narrative speaking to the heart of Life – this homestead served a family for a time, a family living from the land. The home building, the cabin was certainly heated through the cold of winter and night by wood in a wood stove. This morning, I’ve returned for a look at response to my photoblog to find that Regina (Gina) Arnold writer/author/photographer of The Regina Chronicles has nominated me/my blog for The Heart of Fire Award. The photographs and stories connecting to them find meaning in several lives including that of Gina. And, Gina as fellow-blogger has been one to engage in the dialogue that responds and moves thinking forward in my photography. She encourages in such dialogue and does so again with this award … and I am grateful. Thank you Gina.
The award also is meant to inform others about the recipient highlighting seven (7) things about the blogger/photographer/writer. A husband, a father, an educator, a photographer, a writer, a brother, a son – all are roles I engage in daily. Beyond these roles, other areas of Life are significant – here are seven things among many.
- The Writing Life – Married within my last year of University, I was deposited at term-end up north to rejoin my wife in a bedroom community serving Fort McMurray, Alberta fifty kilometres away on the southern side of Gregoire Lake in Anzac, Alberta where my wife taught a grade 1-2 split class. I’m indebted to her fellow teacher for his down-to-earth grounding on what the teaching life is actually about and for his connecting me to Ira Progoff’s Intensive Journal Writing Method through Joe Couture. Through the years I’ve found myself reconnecting with the writing life in these weekend workshops – Convent Station – New Jersey, University of British Columbia – Vancouver, British Columbia and again at another convent in St. Paul, Minnesota.
- Fingerstyle Guitar – a piano and guitar have accompanied me through most times in my Life. In University Ma Fletcher introduced me to tablature, fingerstyle guitar and playing with others. The second guitar I bought was a Daion 12 string, a choice influenced by Dave Mason’s 12 string work (have a listen to Sad and Deep As You). My interest in guitar was rekindled after reading Presbyterian Minister, Steve Stockman’s book Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 and finding him broadcasting across the internet from BBC Radio Ulster a show entitled Rhythm and Soul (8:00 p.m. Ulster – 1:00 p.m. Alberta). With a pawn shop Yamaha guitar I began working through Johnny Cash, Willard Grant Conspiracy and Martyn Joseph; because you could re-listen to the show you could play along to many of the songs. From there it’s been a 1989 Takamine EF 325 src guitar and L’Arrivee L-03 and a Taylor 355CE and finally a Martin Backpacker guitar.
- Story, Narrative and Novels – curiously, I learned more about the mechanics of novel writing through Bill Beard’s narrative film course at the University of Alberta. W.O. Mitchell’s Who Has Seen the Wind was perhaps the first novel holding meaning for me as a young adult, more because the Life experiences being considered were so similar to my own – growing up on the Canadian prairie. I am both a novel reader and audiobook listener. In university, when I’d have finished my day or evening’s readings/studies, I’d have audiobooks going that were stories referred to tangentially by my professors – it was a great way to fall asleep. Audiobooks were handy for walking, summer cycling and taking buses around town. I eventually adapted my love for listening into a means of study and enjoyed a full semester with marks at the top of all classes taken that term. In terms of story and stories, Emily Bronte’s discussion of soul mates in Catherine and Heathcliff still ranks high for me – Wuthering Heights. Hamlet, perhaps because of the investment of work in understanding the totality of it ranks high for me. John Le Carre’s stories about George Smiley and the circus still hold my attention as does the recent release of the seventies depiction of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. For a time, A Perfect Spy held my attention. And, I’ve understood through the years, that my like for spy stories has to do with their observations and insights about organizational behaviour. Beyond this, I like the concept of vertigo as found in Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being; and I like the orientation to humility that occurs within this story – there are truths, here.
- Chuck Me in the Shallow Water – My orientation to Life is somewhat primal and seeks the pragmatic. Down to earth exploration of what Life is about is perhaps a primary goal for us all. You’ll find me advocating the movie Venus with Peter O’Toole as one film exploring the wisdom associated with Life reality. You’ll also find me digging in to John O’Donohue’s work for his ideas on beauty, on Life and contributing to Life. And, for as much as I seem to understand Life, I’m aware of the ‘much’ that I’ve yet to understand … here, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians’ song ‘What I Am,’ especially the lyric ‘Chuck me in the shallow water before I get too deep,’ poignantly point out that haunting aspect that there’s more that I don’t know, there’s a bigger picture that I and perhaps none of will ever be able to completely fathom. Humility is there in the recognition that all that Life is can never totally be figured out. But, we go forward and make the best of the day that confronts us.
- Next steps photography-wise – in addition to continuing on with all things photographic, I’m thinking that my next move will be macro photography; I’ve seen some excellent macro photography on these photoblogs; one photographer who’s caught my attention because she sends me macro images is Kasia Sokulska – an Edmonton-based photographer. I’m thinking that my father would have loved digital macro photography for his images of flowers in and around the house on 58th Street in Edmonton. I want a good macro lens that will provide good depth of field work. So, it will be a Canon macro lens, for my Canon EOS 60D and 30D.
- Music – “There’s good music and music that’s good for something,” – so says Woody Guthrie. Music figures as an anchor in my Life. I note that in those times when Life seems stale or cold, there has usually been an absence of music in my Life – that which I’ve played, that which I’ve listened to and that which supports other activities. In creating Animoto slideshows the critical feature after inputting good photos is that of choosing music that suits the photos … it’s the emotional engagement portion of the slideshow. With music, I do have a goal of making it to the Greenbelt Music Festival in Cheltenham, UK one day; the weekend of music and lecture always seems to conflict with school start up. And, music has been something I’ve enjoyed my son’s part in as a member of the University of Alberta Mixed Choir – he’s on tour as I write. The top seven songs that I’ve played through time according to my iTunes library include The Verve’s Lucky Man (83), Radiohead’s All I Need (74), The Police’s Walking on the Moon (71), Radiohead’s High and Dry (71), U2’s Get On Your Boots (Fish Out Of Water Mix) (69), Depeche Mode’s Policy of Truth (60) and Snow Patrol’s Lifeboats (51). My son has also been listening to these tunes; so the statistics may be skewed.
- Podcast Listener – I bought my first iPod as one of the next steps taken when BBC Radio Ulster cancelled Steve Stockman’s weekly Rhythm and Soul broadcast. I had no idea what an iPod could do and no idea about how to use iTunes. That was back in 2006. In terms of podcasts that I can recommend the following rank highly – Scott Smith’s Motivation to Move (listening since October 2006), A Prairie Home Companion, The Chillcast with Anje Bee (listening since 2007), The Naked Photo by Riaan de Beer, The Nikonians Podcasts, Shuttertime with Sid and Mac, CBC Radio’s Tapestry with Mary Hynes, CBC Radio’s Vinyl Café Stories and BBC Radio’s World Book Club. Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac is good as is the Greenbelt podcast.
In terms of follow-through and to pay it forward, there are blogs I wish to recommend from a point of exploration and because they explore the arena of the ‘heart’ in different ways – thus, the Heart of Fire award extends forward to them. Their blogs are worth a regular perusal and they open-out in different ways much of what Life is about.
Paying it forward – have a go at sharing seven things about yourself and share with others blogs that capture something of heart. Please note – don’t feel bad if you don’t have the time to go through the procedure for this award. Just know that I think highly of your blogs.
Listening to – Tom Cochrane and Red Rider’s Good Times and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ If You Want to Get to Heaven.
Quote to Inspire – “Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times … I just shoot at what interests me at the moment.” – Elliott Erwitt