Thursday, April 30, 2009

SOMEONE WHO JUST TAKES PICTURES AND A PHOTOGRAPHER

Lately Faithfully Dangerous has just turned into a gallery for my garden. A place to present what at best is "point and shoot" photographs.

Today I want to introduce you to a freelance photographer I met yesterday. He had googled "Best Salon in St. Louis" in hopes of finding a safe place to get a good haircut having had a string of bad ones. Having been voted the Best Salon in St. Louis in 06 he ended up finding us. He came in for a haircut with me yesterday and what a conversation we had. I look forward to it continuing...I gave him a good haircut and he said he would be back.

You can go to his site and see some of his work. Boza is a very interesting human being and tells some sad human stories through his work with hopes of being an agent of change...or at least in hopes of the people he photographs not being forgotten. Today he is heading off to Europe for a month working on his next story. Check out the work of a real time photographer. His Zoo pictures are wild. You'll find a short Bio. on him at this link also.

BOZA IVANOVIC














Monday, April 27, 2009

A GOOD ENOUGH REASON FOR ME


These pictures (and they really don't even come close to doing justice) are the reason I built my garden with conifers as the focus...along with the Japanese Maples. Unlike flowers, beautiful and necessary as they may be for good garden design, these conifers don't just have a short bloom season of interest. They provide interest the whole year through. They are entering their peak "show time".






































































































Sunday, April 26, 2009

VIRTUAL GARDEN TOUR (nearing the end of April)

Take a walk with me around the garden






















































Friday, April 24, 2009

LIVING IN HARMORY WITH THE CRITTERS


These little green caterpillar are attacking the columbine in my garden. They are hungry little buggers and can decimate a plant in short order. But I have been moving away from the use of pesticides and trying less harmful, less lethal approaches like spraying affected plants with a strong stream of water from the garden hose to discourage them from sticking around. So, for now this more harmonious approach seems to be the way to go. But if those damn little green vermin begin to attack my Japanese Maples....it might get ugly.






Thursday, April 23, 2009

MAYBE IT'S JUST ME


But I just find this freakin' amazing.

Everyday now until the garden goes to sleep again for the winter I will be left stunned by the beauty created by textures...color...and light and shade playing off the trees and plants in this garden.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

ACCOUNTABILITY...TEACHING OTHERS A LESSON...AND THE LAW

Does the application of the law ever really teach anyone anything valuable or does it just complicate the mess we find ourselves in? What do you do when you see someone using law and accompanying punishment on some else in order to teach them a lesson when the one doing the punishing is guilty of the same offenses or similar things or maybe even worse? If we want to be people of the law doesn't the law in order to work as the law was intended to be practiced (fairly) have to be applied to everyone equally? How often do you see the law applied equally? How often do you see an accuser, someone who has been wronged and is now seeking to see the offender punished or held accountable, step back and say..."Let's start all over because as I was looking to hold you accountable for your offense my offenses just past before my eyes"?

Is this paradigm ever workable without it making us hypocrites and at the same time just complicating the existing problem?

If it is the higher law of LOVE that is guiding us, how can law be a part of that? Love by nature violates no one....when law seems to by nature make us violators.

Monday, April 20, 2009

POWER IS JUST POWER IS JUST POWER


I don't watch TV much anymore and when I do I watch it much differently then I used to. In the past I actually watched it as if it could help me be more informed as to what is going on in the world. Things have changed in regards to how I see the information that comes across the TV and radio. You can read about it here.


Beginning to see it in this new light does now allow me to watch and not get caught up in it. It's like I'm standing on the outside looking into a conversation without any ideological horses in the race. It makes everything look and sound so different. Today I watched The Glenn Beck Show and everything Glenn said confirmed this statement of Jacques Ellul from his book The Ethics Of Freedom. I don't think Glenn would think this applies equally to the kinda power it seems he is pushing for and hoping to see emerge (decentralized government)...as if that is possible, but I am sure he could describe how it applies to the current administration.


"No matter what may be its form or level, it inevitably tends to enhance itself and to initiate a movement towards centralization. No political power will ever reduce itself or accomplish decentralization. There is a law that power will grow without limit. The only recognized limit is fact. Power will always go as far as it possibly can geographically or judicially. It ceases to expand only when it comes up against an obstacle that is more powerful than itself. Power is under the necessity of becoming absolute and totalitarian. This depends neither on the men who wield it nor on the ideology nor on the circumstances. Political power would not be power if this were not so." Jacques Ellul

Sunday, April 19, 2009

INSPIRATION AND DESIGN


I took a leisurely walk in the light rain through the garden today and before I know it a composition formed in my head out of two unused plants sitting around...an unused bonsai pot...a rock...and some moss. Granted, it might not be the best composition ever but what is important is that it works for me. It's what I saw with my mind's eye and the finished product (as if a live planting is ever finished) is my interpretation of what I pictured in my mind. Beyond what it looks like today I'm able to see what it will look like in a few weeks once the maple has filled out and even beyond that as I prune and shape the trees as they mature. The composition will grow into a more well balanced scene as time progresses.


And speaking of balance, I made an adjustment to the rock I had placed in the scene once I saw it in a photo I had taken. I hadn't noticed the problem prior to seeing it captured in a picture.
I'm certain I would have eventually because my eye has become more trained to see such things. When things don't flow...they don't flow and it becomes obvious to the trained eye even to the point of it being annoying. Balance creates a feeling of restfulness and peace and when things are out of balance resting becomes a challenge.


And the new planting took it's place within a larger composition that greets visitors as they approach my home.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

SURPRISES


Since I grow many of my Japanese Maples in decorative containers I can change the look of the garden every year by changing how I situate these trees around the garden. I made these decisions before the leaves had emerged and being a garden designer I wish I could take credit for this stunning combination having been one I saw in my minds eye before hand, but I can't. This was a worderful surprise.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

SOME INSPIRATION FOR THE ARTIST IN YOU


This just came into my inbox a few minutes ago. In light of my blog post on fear last night and the other note I posted on FB this morning this dovetails in nicely so I thought I would pass it on. These guys inspire me not only with their music and lyrics but also when Linford takes the time to do some writing. Talk about stripped down simplicity that never fails to speak something deeply profound. I love getting these emails. I hope you enjoy it as well...especially those who have a longing to write but don't seem to be able to get over the hump whether it be fear or simply the complicated activity of procrastination. This is from Linford Detweiler of Over The Rhine.

April, 2009

Hello friends and extended family,

I know of a glass blower who gets up every morning in the dark to do his work. Before the world wakes up, before the phone starts ringing, in the sacred remains of the night when all is still, he gathers and begins to fuse his raw materials: the breath from his lungs, glowing flame, imagination, dogged hope.

I used to work from the other direction. I loved the feeling of still being up after the rest of the city (and world) had grown sleepy, the light of a lamp making my third story bedroom windows glow while I leaned over my desk and sailed towards something I couldn’t name.

Someone sent me this little excerpt awhile back, in a beautiful letter of encouragement I should add, the sort of letter that makes everything slow down, hold still:

Here dies another day
During which I have had eyes, ears, hands
And the great world round me;
And with tomorrow begins another.
Why am I allowed two?
(GK Chesterton)

I’d really be okay with this being my epitaph.

When I was younger I would often write myself short job descriptions. I was thinking out loud about what might be worth hanging a life on, a life I was willing to sign my name to:

-Create spaces where good things can happen.

-Give the world something beautiful, some gift of gratitude,
no matter how insignificant or small.

-Write love letters to the whole world.

-Build fires outdoors, and lift a glass and tell stories,
and listen, and laugh, laugh, laugh. (Karin says I’m still working
on this one. She thinks I still need to laugh more, especially at
her jokes, puns and witty asides.)

-Flip a breaker and plunge the farm into darkness so that the stars can be properly seen.

-Do not squander afflictions.

-Own the longing, the non-negotiable need to “praise the mutilated world.”

-Find the music.

I still crave the extravagant gesture, the woman spilling a year’s wages on the feet of Jesus, the rarest perfume, washing his feet and drying them with her hair, a gesture so sensual it left the other men in the room paralyzed with criticism, analysis, theoretical moral concern - for what - the poor? Or was it just misdirected outrage in light of the glaring poverty of their own imaginations?

(Some friends of mine were talking about this scene the other night. We got to imagining Mary with a pixie haircut, which made the drying more difficult. We were drinking wine and Rob had made something to eat late at night: take a cracker, put a thin slice of fresh pear on it, then some sautéed goat cheese from the skillet, and top it with walnuts drizzled with honey from the oven. At midnight?!)

Someone once described our music as a mash-up of spirituality, whimsy and sensuality.

Thank you, thank you, thank y
ou.

Music and art and writing: extravagant, essential, the act of spilling something, a cup running over…

The simultaneous cry of, You must change your life, and Welcome home.

I’ve been trying to write songs again, and I’ve been hitting a maze of dead ends. I want the songs to reveal something to me, teach me something. It’s slow going. I’m not sure where I’m going. Uncertainty abounds.

But the writing works on me little by little and begins to change me. That’s why I would recommend not putting off writing if it’s something you feel called to: if you put it off, then the writing can’t do the work that it needs to do to you.

Yes, I think there’s something there. If you don’t do the work, the work can’t change you. (No one expects to change overnight.)

My sister Grace recently sent me this quote from a slim little volume called Art and Fear:

Uncertainty is the essential, inevitable and all-pervasive companion to your desire to make art. And tolerance for uncertainty is the prerequisite to succeeding.

A blessing for the writers among us: May all your dead ends be beautiful.

When I was younger and I found myself sitting down in a new season of writing, I would put my pen down and close up the pica typewriter (the only letterpress printing machine I ever learned to operate all by myself, the=2
0bell of encouragement and mild alarm ringing at the end of every line, I can still hear it) and feel compelled to clean my rooms, put my world in order. It used to take 3-4 days.

Now it takes 3-4 months.

Our messes get bigger. And bigger.

So, I’ve been getting “caught up” with taxes and filing, putting things away, making lists, getting more than a few lagging projects out the door that are overdue (the first Over the Rhine songbook?!). And on and on.

Someone in our Santa Fe songwriting workshop once confessed, I’m good at a lot of things that will kill me. For those of us who write, there are always so many options that don’t involve the dilemma, the extravagance of the blank page. When we sit down to write, there’s never a guarantee that we’ll have anything to show for it that we can touch with our hands, or see with our own eyes. In fact, life is a lot cleaner and more manageable when I’m not writing.

Yes, I’ll just admit it. I’m a writer that all too often is more than happy to run from writing. But sooner or later I realize something is dying inside. And then I try to get back to work.

**

So talk about extravagant. Spring has been trying to come to the farm. The red maples have been budding. Their branches almost seem to glow at times as if strung with hundreds of delicate lanterns. The go
ldfinches are turning golden in front of our eyes. Why do they fade for the winter?

Are we getting older? Yes. We are bird watchers. (We’ll jump out of the rocking chair for a red-headed woodpecker.)

Karin is now a three dog Mama. We took in two strays last winter on a bitter cold night. The mama cattle dog soon got adopted to a 36 acre farm with horses, a heated kennel, a family with two dog-and-horse-loving-girls. They named her Ruby. Ruby landed on her feet and has been living the good life.

The puppy decided to stay and adopted Karin. She named him Porter.

Hey Porter! (Dammit, Porter!)

So we’ve got the Great Dane, the Weimaraner and the mixed up Cattle Dog pup. Saul the cat observes it all, walks upstairs and goes to sleep. Karin’ll probably post some pictures up soon somewhere.

Karin has been twittering.

I still need four pages.

We had too good of a time and made many new friends on Cayamo, our songwriting cruise of the Caribbean. So much great music. Yup, we better had write some good songs. I think every pore of my body was rum-soaked by the end. We needed all that sunshine. Snagged a few good stories too.

Our cabin on the ship had sliding glass doors and a little outdoor oceanside porch on the 7th level, and I would sit out there at 2am and watch the moonlight on the endless waves and think of all the people who had20crossed the ocean on a boat back in the day, off to start a new chapter. Talk about sacred, all those moonlit waves, the deep rhythm of it.

And we still think fondly of the amazing 20th Anniversary weekend we had last December with so many of you. We’ve got a few more 20th Anniversary shenanigans up our sleeves.

But we are going to be home more for the spring. Hopefully we won’t grow too fond of the hearth for our own good. Hopefully we will get our work done. Hopefully we will still make more than a little room for the occasional extravagant gesture.

Which brings me to Texas.

We’re going to pack up the five-piece band and our crew for a week and head for the Lone Star state at the end of the month for a change of scenery, some old songs, some brand new songs, some camaraderie, something surprising. In this new economy we need music and real conversation more than ever.

We do hope you will join us.

Over the Rhine IN CONCERT:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009, Private Show, Austin, TX
Thursday, April 30, Granada Theater, Dallas, TX
Friday, May 1, Warehouse Live Studio, Houston, TX*
Saturday, May 2, Texas Union Theatre, Austin, TX*
Sunday, May 3, Texas Union Theatre, Austin, TX* (No OtR songs repeated from previous night.)
*(w/Special Guest Lucy Wainwright Roche)

Pls note that we are playing Austin not one but two nights. When we have opportunity to play
a city two nights in a row in 2009, we will not be repeating any songs over the course of the two nights. So there will be two completely different shows. Hope to see you!

Oh yeah, one more, and one of our all time favorites:

Saturday, June 6, 2009, The Ark, Ann Arbor, MI

Check out OvertheRhine.com for more details.

Well, we’re glad we’ve found each other. Thanks for sticking around. Hope our paths cross soon. See you in Texas!

Peace like a river,

Linford (and Karin) of Over the Rhine

PS Pls pass this letter around freely to your friends and family. Chop it up and twitter it. Crumple it in your mind, strike an imaginary match and start a fire. Print it out, line the birdcage with it and let the white doves crap all night long. Spread it on the floor and train a puppy to squat and pee. Make a paper airplane out of it and toss it off the Golden Gate Bridge. Slip it between the pages of an old Southern Baptist hymnal, or into the yellow pages of a phone booth phone book if such a thing still exists. Maybe a writer will find it, God help her.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

FEAR SUCKS

I hate what fear does to people.

But perfect love is in pursuit and when he overtakes us...fear is displaced. It's such an important part of the truth that Christian religious ideology never helps settle in people's minds so that they can see and know the love of God that has been spread abroad in our hearts. No...the religious system rarely if ever helps us with this. It unfortunately exploits it instead and compounds the problem fear created for us in the first place.

Monday, April 13, 2009

THE PURSUIT OF TRUTH?

What if contained within the truth that sets us free, there is a need for us to acknowledge that our ability to possess the truth absolutely isn't even possible and due to my limited vision some of what I believe to be truth more than likely isn't? And instead, truth is more about TRUTH having grabbed hold of us, and that reality begins to produce in us, rest and peace and the ability to love?

For how long have there been people screaming "Just give me the truth"? Or even worse...."I/we have the absolute truth"!!!!!! You don't have to study much of human history to see that the most destructive moments in history have been led by people claiming such a thing. Here's how one of my favorite authors says it. "We have seen the horror that has resulted in the course of our history every time a person or group has claimed to express truth in its entirety, believing their word to be identical with the truth, or that truth could not be "elsewhere" or "other." This attitude has given legitimacy to all dictatorships, oppressions, falsehoods, and massacres."

Maybe the way we have been going after "truth" just keeps people all agitated and on an adventure in missing the point? The more Solomon learned the less he said he knew and the more frustrated he became until he saw the pursuit as vanity. Think about it. In this complicated convoluted activity we humans call communication, is it even possible to put together out of all the things that are going on, something that is truth...that is, truth as we define it? Or at best is it just a collection of what we each perceive from what we think we have seen or from what we have been told?

The quote above about the dangers of approaching truth in this way is then followed by this. "One person's word against another's is the only possible fragile pointer to truth, like a compass quivering in its case. And quite apart from human pretension to have a proud, exclusive corner on truth, even if we could seize truth as it is and transmit it without wasting any of it and without confusion, truth would crush us of its own weight and prevent us from living. In order to live, we need truth to be expressed by the most fragile agent, so that the listener remains free. The uneasiness which enables us to keep going involves knowing that we will never be able to grasp truth in its entirety, or be able to bring our adventure to a close by identifying our life with truth." This humility might just help us when it comes to living with one another....until that day when we see in full.

You would think with all the effort that has been made by countless people through the ages to find truth through the activity of "fact finding", humanity would be in a better place today. But such does not seem to be the case? Maybe reality is that truth exists on a completely different plane and we have confused truth with the accumulation of accurate facts and the two are not even close to being the same thing?

Maybe truth is more about faith. And faith is more about listening and picking up signs so that we can love...not based on what we think about someone and what they believe but instead based upon the truth that someone loved us/loves us even while we are saying and believing all kinds of crazy stuff?

Friday, April 10, 2009

OK...YOU CAN'T BEAT A CLOUDY DAY

That is to make colors pop when it comes to taking garden photos.




























Thursday, April 09, 2009

I'VE BEEN THINKING

What is the Old Testament all about? And what can we learn from it?

Is it an accurate account of who God is and what he is like? Or is the account a product of the drastic change that takes place after the man and woman decide to do what they think best and from then on we see the beginnings of humanity attempting to bring order to the chaos their choices have set in motion? They begin to look to political arrangements and nation state maneuverings...economic systems...religious systems..enforcement of law... etc. etc. for security. Are the stories in the Old Testament really any different than what we see going on in the world today? People scrambling in fear and doing crazy insane things out of that fear. People oppressing and dominating others. Nations going to war with other nations and using the "God told us to do it " line as a justification. And so forth.

When Jesus comes on the scene he begins talking about God in terms of a father and a family and tells them that no one has seen the father but him. Seems to me that might mean that all those that had gone before didn't know who God was and what he is like and maybe were wrong in many of their action that were being shaped by their fear and shame and guilt and their attempts to discern what was "good" and what was "evil". And all the while just using God's name for their own gain. It just all sounds really similar to what I see and hear going on around me today in the world. But we do have something they didn't have.

We have Jesus, the exact representation of the Father. He just doesn't look anything like the stories in the Old Testament that paint a picture of a God who pretty much acts like most humans act.

Or maybe it's just my thinking leading me to concoct another adventure like those that we humans are skilled at concocting? The cool thing even if it turns out to be one of those adventures in missing the point is this....Jesus has got to me and I believe him when he says I no longer need to be afraid and live in fear of Father because I am an adopted son and I am welcome in his presence and he loves to see his children explore and especially question the things they have been told by people who are prone to "lording over" other people.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

SUBTLE

This loud and busy world sets a stage that makes it easy to miss the subtle yet significant signs left everywhere in nature that point ever so clearly to the Artist/Creator.

His Alpine Columbine and Trillium have come into bloom in my garden