Sunday, March 2, 2008


After a long difficult spell which began during the Gulf War, a time when I became unable and then unwilling to draw or paint, I bought a digital camera in 2005. Thousands of photos later, I continue to be amazed at what a simple digital camera can do. This morning I stood out on my porch in the dark and took the above photo through the window of what has been my home since 1984 when I left married life. It was difficult to leave a house with a garden and view that I loved. I began to live alone for the first time. I have been content living alone for a long time in a tiny place with a small second-story porch garden and an expansive view. It feels new to me over and over again. Like Georgia O'Keeffe after Alfred Stieiglitz died, I can live alone as an artist and not be lonely. In October of 2006, I adopted a talkative cat named Oboe. I can't truly say that I live alone anymore :-)

One of my favorite books about home and a "sense of place" is ALWAYS COMING HOME, by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Here is the first photo I took with my digital camera:

It's part of the cover of this book for children. At the time I bought my digital camera, I was a volunteer shelf-reader in the section for children at our local library. Each week during those three years, I brought home an armload of books written for young children and read at least one before I went to sleep each night. Unfortunately, I began to develop frequent severe headaches from a form of mold that lives in library books and have had to limit my time spent in libraries. Otherwise, I would love devote a part of my reading time to all those splendidly illustrated children's books which only take a short time to read. I wish I'd kept a list of those I read. It's possible that my online public library account would have saved all those titles.


Anonymous said...

Always Coming Home is an amazing book. The first time I read it, I felt like I could have started anywhere, and I would have been just as lost--and just as likely to catch on! Definitely a book which demands that you immerse yourself in its world.

am said...

kenneth -- Thanks for commenting. Good to hear of another person who thinks ALWAYS COMING HOME is an amazing book :-)

I wish it were available on CD. I'd love to hear it read out loud.

Zhoen said...

I know the The Princess and Curdie is available online, one of my childhood books. I worked in a children's library, and love picture books, and Natalie Babbit, Beverly Cleary, Maurice Sendak. That mouldy dust is a misery, no question.

robin andrea said...

Last week, I learned that Ursula Le Guin is the daughter of Alfred and Theodora Kroeber. That news really knocked me out. I majored in anthropology in college and the Kroebers were some of the first anthropologists in the country. I've never read any of Le Guin's work, but I think I'm going to have to put her name in the library database and see what comes up!

I've never lived alone. I'm a twin, so not even in the womb. Digital photography gave me the tools to actually convey my vision of the world.

The Solitary Walker said...

Do you know the American singer-songwriter Eliza Gilkyson? She is absolutely fantastic. I chatted to her her briefly at a small venue in Nottingham where she put on a little show a while back. Try the song 'Not Lonely' from her 'Land of Milk and Honey' album.

The Solitary Walker said...

Don't think i praised EG enough. She is UNBELIEVABLE. Why she isn't better known, search me. She was on the 'Nod to Bob' tribute albuum. Her song 'Hard Times in Babylon' is one of the best songs I've ever heard...

Dale said...

Always Coming Home is an amazing book, yes. You know how Tolkien took the romances that historians of forgotten peoples told, and lifted it out of supposed science, and made it literature (which is what it really was)? Le Guin did the same thing with the romances anthropologists tell. Life could be like this.

Pablo Villicaña Lara said...

Hey there, thanks for visiting my blog a while back, just getting back on the computer.
I just bought a book I read when I was in 3rd grade "Ma Lien And The Magic Brush" I think that book was responsible for my becoming an artist waaaaaaaaaay back in 1968.

R.L. Bourges said...

FYI The New York Review of Books has a sale going on children's books at the moment (40-60% off)

am said...

kenneth -- Good to share an appreciation of this book with you!

zhoen -- Many thanks for the link to THE PRINCESS AND CURDIE. That's good to know that you had the experience of working in a children's library, too.

robin andrea -- The first book I read by Ursula Le Guin was A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA. It may have been on her website that she wrote that Trinidad in Humboldt County was how she pictured the landscape of Earthsea. Fascinating to learn that you majored in anthropology.

I love your vision of the world via digital photography.

solitary walker -- Thanks so much for reminding me to listen to "A Nod to Bob" again and for the tips about Eliza Gilkyson's music. On that CD, I also appreciated Guy Davis singing "Sweetheart Like You," Hart-Rouge singing "Dieu a Nos Cotes (With God On Our Side)," and especially loved hearing Ramblin' Jack Elliott's story before his fine version of "Don't Think Twice It's All Right."

dale -- I like your phrase "the romances anthropologists tell." Ursula Le Guin is on to something with her concept of an "anthropology of the future." I grew up, as she did, in the landscape of ALWAYS COMING HOME and was often moved to tears of recognition, grief and relief, as I read that book.

pablo villican lara -- I'm going to see if I can find that book which inspired you to become an artist. Thanks so much for visiting!

lee -- Thanks so much for the link!

Lori Witzel said...

WOW -- that photo, with its Georges de la Tour light, just knocks me out.

Did I say "WOW"?
I'll say it again -- WOW.

am said...

lori -- !Thanks so much :-) for your WOW!