Gold must be the flavour or favour of the month. The topic for both this week’s Sunday Stills and for Life in Colour – September is gold. I thought I would combine the two to see where it goes.
Gold in the sky,
Gold in the sand,
Gold in the architecture
Gold in the sea!
All that glitters is gold to me!
Way back in the days when we could -and did – travel internationally, I visited historic buildings and saw golden statues glittering within the cloisters and altars of churches, and the museums displaying the gilded treasures of history.
It starts with golden entrances, and continues through churches and museums that glitter with gold.
Windows and water features reflecting the precious glitter of gold.
Whilst I enjoy the glittering history, my favourite golden hues are still found in nature.
It started in mid-July with an extreme weather storm event on the West Coast and Marlborough regions. Roads were so badly damaged with many slips, slumps, under and onto the two main roads into the Marlborough Sounds, they were impassable for most of the residents and those of us that could drive out had to negotiate muddy unstable roads.
August arrived and whilst the roads were still closed, some of our quiz team could make it to our local tavern. We were very organised for the 70s dress up theme – and the questions. We won by a big majority – probably something to do with the average age of our team. We had lots of general and specific knowledge of the 1970s. After all, it was a great decade dedicated to music, movies and fashion, and we had all lived through it. One of us had even been to the ABBA museum and sung Dancing Queen as the 5th member of the group.
We socialised at dinner parties and popped into the tavern again to watch the rugby. I prepared and printed our community newsletter at the local school. Chopping up several fallen trees and mulching the smaller branches occupied my significant other for most of the month – when it wasn’t raining and blowing some more.
Due to the road closures, I had already been having a couple of SeniorNet committee meetings via Zoom so when I got the invite to join a zoom workshop on how to make stop motion animations, I thought – why not? That was fun.
After an eye check in Blenheim on Tuesday, we stocked up on groceries, had a meal in Picton then carefully negotiated the wrecked roads towards home, and settled in to watch the tv news……. And then came the Delta variant of Covid-19.
Suddenly, overnight New Zealand went into Level 4 lockdown. Not only were we locked in by closed roads, we were now locked down as well. We had to cancel dental and car service appointments as we hunkered down to stop the spread. At least we had sufficient food, beer and wine for a couple of weeks – oh – and toilet paper!
Whenever was I going to be able to get my new spectacle lens fitted? Last year’s lockdown resulted in the dental appointment being cancelled too. Bad timing I guess.
Still, we are luckier that most. We still have the beach to walk on, and that dreaded exercycle was put back into regular use. After half an hour panting and pushing those pedals, I reward myself with a dabble in my art journal, and listen to some of that 1970s music.
Painting, sketching, writing and photography are back on my lockdown project list. And reading – lots and lots of reading – and maybe some more writing.
I am grateful for not being too affected by the current lockdown but I certainly feel for all the essential workers, the home-schooling parents and those who are being impacted financially and emotionally.
As September arrives, our road is still closed to the public and residents drive in and out at their own risk. Another zoom meeting, this time with the road recovery team, informed us that the road repairs are likely to be ongoing for several months. We have had to make a decision about cancelling this season’s homestay bookings. Our guests cannot use the road whilst it is closed to the public. I guess this means we may have time to enjoy summer ourselves this season. There is always a silver lining.
And the silver lining is – that 70s music! – I am so very excited this week to hear the best news – ABBA are back and the words of their new song ‘Don’t shut me down’ speak to me ….
"I'm like a dream, within a dream, that's been decoded,
I'm fired up, I'm hot, don't shut me down”
Needless to say, this song is on repeat on my playlist. If you haven’t heard or seen it yet check it out but be warned – its already addictive for me. Enjoy!
So despite all the doom and gloom of July and August, September is springtime in the southern hemisphere – a time of renewal -and there is always HOPE and ABBA to look forward to.
“To some, it's just water,
To me, it's where I regain my sanity”
- Author Unknown
I took a look through my photographs of lakes, oceans and water. I have many examples of water in all its various states.
Water falls down then it blows up….
Water is tranquil then it is turbulent…….
Water is still and then it is stormy……..
Water is white and then it is wavy………..
Water is murky and then it is a reflective mirror………..
How water is reflected back depends on what lens you are looking through.
Talking to my optometrist today at my very overdue eye check, I mentioned the impact I thought my ‘cataracts’ may be having on my photo editing. I thought I was over saturating the colours in compensation. He fortunately doesn’t think my cataracts are that bad yet. He also said that the older Claude Monet got, the ‘browner’ his paintings had become. Intrigued as I was, what could I do but google……
These landscapes of water and reflection have become an obsession.
- Author: Claude Monet
Monet’s Art Changed Because of His Eyes
“In 1905, Monet was sixty-five and began to notice changes to his vision. The colors he saw were no longer as bright, and his paintings began to feature more yellow and purple tones. In 1912, when he was seventy-two, Monet was diagnosed with nuclear cataracts in both eyes. Because Monet so often repainted the same subjects over the years, viewers can trace the way cataracts affected his vision over time.”
“Scientists have even studied changes in the color and style of Monet’s paintings over time—along with the works of his fellow Impressionist, Degas who also had eye disease. By using computers to simulate the blurriness one would see with eye disease, scientists have been able to find out how the artists likely saw their own paintings, which has given new insights into the artists’ works.”
Monet Might Have Seen Ultraviolet Light
“Initially, Monet did not want to have surgery to correct his cataracts, because he had seen other artists’ careers ended by failed surgery. Monet finally agreed to have cataract surgery on his right eye in 1923, but he did not have the surgery on his left eye, which still had cataracts and could not see violets or blues.”
“During the surgery on his right eye, however, the lens of his eye was removed, which let more light into the eye. Because the lens is the part of the eye that filters out ultraviolet light, it is believed that Monet might have begun seeing ultraviolet wavelengths, which humans typically cannot see. After the surgery, he used more blues in his water lily paintings, which could indicate he was seeing ultraviolet light.”
“After his cataract surgery, he destroyed many of the paintings he created when he suffered the worst of his vision problems. Altogether, he is thought to have destroyed up to 500 of his own paintings.”
I am not about to destroy my photographs, but I might re-edit some of the saturation – or then again I may not. I do love bright colours and gazing into water keeps me calm.
Your mind is like water. When it is agitated it becomes difficult to see.
But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.”
– Bill Keane
After all is said and done, water is essential to life. And we never know how far the ripples we make when we drop a stone into the water will spread.
Be the drop that falls freely and becomes one with water…..
You might not be able to perceive the ripples you have created right away
But water will allow you to feel how their love
Comes back to you again and again.”
- Author unknown
Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain
This whakatauki (Maori proverb) is about aiming high or for what is truly valuable, but it’s real message is to be persistent and don’t let obstacles stop you from reaching your goal.
Each time I venture near to the highest mountain of the Southern Alps of New Zealand, I look to photograph another perspective of this magnificent mountain., This proverb goes some way to describing how I feel when this mountain is in front of my camera.
On clear days, Aoraki / Mount Cook is visible from the West Coast as far north as Greymouth, some 150 kilometres away, and from most of State Highway 80 along Lake Pukaki and State Highway 6 south of Lake Pukaki. The near horizontal ridge connecting the mountain’s three summits forms a distinctive blocky shape when viewed from an eastern or western direction.
Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Its height, as of 2014, is listed as 3,724 metres (12,218 feet).
Once I was a little girl with blonde curls and blue eyes, clutching a cuddly soft toy under my arm.
Those eyes blinked once, and then suddenly I am ten. Already I have found some interests to pursue.
I had my first riding lessons on a black racehorse named Chunkette. She left a lasting impression on me (and not just on my tender bottom) Gentle to ride yet she had a quietly determined character. She liked to lead the way when trotting along the jungle path.
I took many photos with my brand new camera and instantly I was hooked into an abiding passion – photography. Such magic to be able to capture pictures of the present which would become fond memories of the past. What an exciting and absorbing activity this has become. Little did I realise at that moment how my childhood interests would become my lifelong passion.
I blinked again and it was the next decade I kept up my horse-riding. I took pictures to record my interests and life experiences but alas they went missing over the years.
I learned to develop and print my own film photographs in the school darkroom. Precious pictures of those schoolgirl years long since past but still they remain in my albums.
A decade after my first riding lessons, I bought my own horse. Yes it was another beautiful black racehorse. It seems I had a certain affinity with racehorses. I took pictures of course.
My first job when I left school was hand-painting aerial photographs using photo oil paints. My second photographic job saw me making large mosaic aerial photomaps of rural properties. No horses but plenty of farm animals in the photo maps. Lots of time spent in the darkroom, developing and printing very large aerial photographs, using copy cameras and retouching negatives.
Once again I was making pictures to identify the present land use and to record these for posterity.
In my third decade my passion for photography was set aside for a short time as motherhood and parenting took priority. However there were still plenty of photographic opportunities in that part of my life journey. I took many pictures of my children and I put them in my family albums.
I look at these pictures of the past quite often these days.
Fourth decade: As I travelled the country with my work in early childhood education, I became aware of the emerging importance of photo documentation of children’s learning journeys. I took many pictures of early childhood environments, examples of best teaching practice, and of the many work colleagues who became close friends. I was able once again to focus on my lifelong passion for photography.
I had also discovered digital and video cameras. Now there were limitless images to capture and record. And so much more to learn. The internet arrived. I started a 365 project – a photo a day for 365 days. I’m now into the 8th year of my 365 project. What can I say… it is an addiction. And I’m still learning.
Over the last three decades I have been capturing my travel memories in photographs. So many pictures to record our amazing trips around the world. Travelling internationally may now be a distant memory.
These memories are already my pictures of the past.
Fortunately, I now have 7 grandchildren. My latest and greatest joy is when I capture pictures of their blonde curls and blue eyes. The pictures of the past have become the pictures of the present generation.
I must have blinked my eyes at least once for every decade as my life changed direction, yet I still remain focussed on my abiding passion.
And the pictures of my past? they are still there to remind me of my lifetime memories.
It’s all about perspective when it comes to geometric shapes.
“Geometry – It is concerned with properties of space that are related with distance, shape, size, and relative position of figures.“
It was not my favourite school subject. I couldn’t tell a tetrahedron from a square pyramid, or a hexagonal pyramid from a hexagonal prism – even though I could spell these mysterious words – the usefulness of these shapes made no sense to me.
Then I discovered the angles, shapes and perspectives to be captured through photography. At last the geometric shapes made sense and I could relate.
I went looking for geometry and symmetry wherever I pointed my camera.
From spheres to squares…
From proportions to perspectives in buildings and bridge construction…
In ceilings and walls and up steps or stairs……
I even found a square pyramid or is it tetrahedron?
Geometry in photography has forced me to shape and clarify my own perspectives.
“Trust that little voice in your head that says, ‘Wouldn’t it be interesting if…’; and then do it.” Duane Michals
So with these encouraging quotes in mind, here I go with my favourite ways to relax….
PLAYING WITH ART: “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” – Either John Lennon or Laurence J Peter – the jury is out on who said this first!
My latest foray into creative expression is when I started a 61 day ICAD (index card a day) challenge from 1st June and ending 31st July – and of course I am still playing catchup. I made a bargain with myself – 30 minutes on the exercycle first then I am free to play with index cards, paint, crayons, stencils and gel pens. I even made a home-made gel plate for printing I put on my music and relax into my art. Here is a small selection from June and July. It is working so far.
READING: “You can find magic, wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.” – Dr Seuss
This is most certainly one of my ‘go-tos’ for relaxing, pouring myself a cuppa, curling up into a comfy chair and getting lost in a good book – and there I am – relaxed into the magic of words and other worlds. There is a reason I have always loved reading fantasy, science fiction and time travel – it is such an amazing form of escapism. It will be interesting to see how many books I have read by the end of the year – I’m up to Book 54 so far.
I have my favourite genres, and then I have my “impossible to put into any specific genre” genre.
Some books just require you to read, re-read and re-read again. And it is not because you can’t remember the stories, its because they are so good, so full of complexity, twists and turns they need to be read again to catch even more details with each read through.
I’m currently re-reading books 1 – 8 of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon in preparation for the release of book 9 in November. There is an online book group doing a read – along and is great excuse for me to re-read. It is very interesting how much more detail you notice on the next journey through the ‘ stones’.
I enjoyed reading the first book Crosstitch (which has since been renamed as Outlander) when it was published in 1991. I swapped some of the next few books with my sister in law over the years until other work-life priorities intervened. Luckily for me, I not only rediscovered the series a few years ago but also realised I could download the rest of the books onto my kindle. For those that are not yet familiar with this series here is Herself’s description.
Alternatively or as well as – there is the tv series to avidly consume – seasons 1 -5 to date with season 6 scheduled for release early next year. I have to admit to being seriously addicted to Outlander along with several million other readers. I’m not sure if this addictive reading behaviour is actually relaxing or not – hmm?
Whilst waiting for the next book, there is a selection of novellas based on individual characters and a Comprehensive Companion guide (or two ) filling in some background history. It keeps me relaxed.
“Even when reading is impossible, the presence of books acquired produces such an ecstasy that the buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching towards infinity.” – A. Edward Newton, author, publisher, and collector of 10,000 books.
By the look of my piles of books which I can’t seem to fit into my bookshelves, and constantly struggle to let go of, it could be said I might be afflicted with this ecstasy too. It reminded me too of this bit of lighthearted relief found online during last year’s lockdown. Read the titles which have been placed in order by a librarian with a sense of humour. Always look for the bright side of life – and stay relaxed.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Relax and trust, knowing the universe has set a banquet of abundance for you”
I found this quote chalked onto a blackboard outside the Langford store in Golden Bay last year. I’m not sure who authored it. I do like the emphasis on “relax and trust”.
Wandering with my camera is when I am truly in my relaxed and happy place. There is always an abundance of subjects to capture – and it keeps the brain active.
WRITING: “It is how you see life that matters, rather than what you have done.” – Patti Miller, “Writing true stories.”
Writing for me is a way to record my inner thoughts and to make sense of the feelings and thoughts that wander through my mind. Playing with words is a form of relaxation for me. It can also be a trip down memory lane.
Elizabeth Gilbert writes that: “The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to discover those jewels – that’s creative living… I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.”
So now I have written about creative pursuits I enjoy, I’m feeling rather chilled out and RELAXED
If the beautiful were not in us, how would we ever recognize it?”
The expression of an impression
Is an obsession
I bring to each photo session
where I can take possession
of my lifelong passion.
The expression of an impression
Is a compulsion
not a delusion.
It is where I learnt composition
Through the excitement of exploration
and a touch of preoccupation.
The expression of an impression
Take a bowl full of enthusiasm
Flash in a sprinkle of infatuation
Focus with a whole lot of dedication
Layer in an image of endless fascination
Blend all together in a bucket of creation
Until it exposes more than my dreams
And becomes a beautiful expression of my own impressions
Every photo I take is a piece of my life that I will never get back,