Sunday, May 28

RavensNest as a Graph

RavensNest as a Graph
Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Having fun on Sunday: this is a site graph of my blog. It's a pretty cool application to visualize your blog or other website as it breaks down in tags. You can make one of these applets for your own website here.

To me, a total dummy when it comes to web design, this is interesting to see how my sitegraph compares to other sitegraphs ... the visual part is what appeals to me. I wish I knew how to take the next step with this -- I mean, using this information to improve my website.

In the meantime, I'm enjoying seeing the visual differences between the sitegraphs here. These look (and grow, on the applet) like flowers or strange jungle vines or bubbles and froth in the ocean.

Friday, May 26

Photo Friday theme =Home: a Teepee among the Aspens

Teepee among the aspens Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Today's Photo Friday theme is "Home." This teepee belongs to Mandy and Clancy and is tucked back into an aspen grove. The doorway faces east -- sunrise warms the teepee skins and wakes us up with a glow on the eastern walls.

photofriday button

Thursday, May 25

Poetry Thursday: Spontaneity of Childhood

I remember being 7 or 8 years old ... not wanting to come in from playing outside (except for dinner, which was always welcome because we'd worked off so many calories playing hard that we'd be "starving" by the time 6 o'clock rolled around)

Even after we ate, we'd pile outside in the humid dusk, calling to our friends "all-ie all-ie --- in-come-free ...." to pick up the kickball game where we'd left off. In mid-summer, when the sun set as late as 9 or 10 o'clock, when lightning bugs floated and glowed in the growing dark, when just throwing yourself down next to your best friend on the cool, damp grass was the very best thing you could think of in a million years ... I hate to sound like one of those old people who talk about the good old days (gasp - am I one of those now???) but I'm just gonna say it: those were really good times.

We'd come straight home from school and run out to play outside until it got too dark to see and our mothers would have to insist on bath and bedtimes. We played -- physically -- all afternoon during the school year, or all day in summer.

We rode bikes, roller-skated (before inline skates -- we used the kind of skates you attached to your sneakers and they had a little "key" to tighten them) played freeze tag, kick-the-can, or dodgeball, twisted each other round and round on a tire/rope swing until the swinger was begging for mercy from dizziness. Romped in the blackberry patch, playing "fort" or waged neighborhood "wars." Picked wild strawberries or blackberries until our hands and clothes were vermillion -stained and our stomachs ached from the sweetness. We told each other ghost stories, or related word-for-word, the plots of Twilight Zone and the Outer Limits. Traded comic books back and forth and read them lying on blankets in the shade of a spirea bush by the back door ... munched on popsicles or licked powdered jello mix out of our palms.

Loose Balance

One of the best feelings was walking with my best friends towards "stickerland," "the haunted forest" or the big creek where we had a pretend pirate ship in the roots of huge old oak tree ... We'd be heading towards one of our favorite hangouts when somebody in the group would spontaneously shout, "Race Ya!"

Race ya!
someone shouts and
there's this instant spurt,
a pure joyful hilarious
of energy, our
inner accelerators

we hurtle and charge
in a rush of
flailing limbs and
adrenaline, scrambling across
the vacant lot, bare
legs scratched
by weeds -- oh,
we don't care ...

Race 'ya!
that shouted magic
launches our giggling
we fall
piled on top of each other
for breath and

I am amazed, remembering my growing-up summers, at the incredible amount of energy I had as a child. All of us were bursting with life-force and energy and fun. We'd run and play tag and kick balls and zoom around until we dropped from exhaustion. Playing was what life was all about at that age.

I don't play enough anymore. I used to play with my kids when they were little -- I mean physical play and "pretend" play. Hanging around the playground (that's where I shot this latest series of photos) reminds me to stop the mind-stuff and the work sometimes -- to get out and play more often.

This blog post was written for Poetry Thursday. Check out other poetry posts for this week by clicking this button:

Wednesday, May 24

Geography Lesson

Geography Lesson
Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

I have an existential map. It has 'You are here' written all over it.
-- Steven Wright, American Comedian

Tuesday, May 23

Terms of Surrender

Terms of Surrender
Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Terms of Surrender

We hide in the dead grass.
Heat makes the rocks tremble.
Before night rescues us we have
accepted the terms: crawled
lied, cheated ~ lived.

We take what the world gives.
We bow our heads like flowers
and think of the ways we came.
Before sleep each night we put
our mouths against a clod
and breathe our share of common air ~

The truest way there is to say God's name.

Poem by William Edgar Stafford

Sunday, May 21

Beautiful Sunday

End of Day
Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Well, at least I think this is beautiful ... I'm open to feedback.

made for

Memory and Premonition

Memory and Premonition
Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Saturday, May 20

Zion Reflection

Zion Reflection
Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

The reflection of dark trees in the water of a desert pond at dusk just before the sun went down.... I wanted to capture the quality of the light, the shadowy trees and the movement of the water's surface in the slight breeze. What a peaceul idyll I found here!

Friday, May 19

Visions of Clarity or Vision Gone Bad?

Visions of Clarity or Vision Gone Bad?
Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

This is a followup post to my description and photo-image of "Slowly Going Blind" that I posted for Poetry Thursday last week.

I have had so many frustrations trying to obtain the correct prescriptive lenses and/or bifocals to help me see better. I depend utterly on my visual sense and have trouble imagining how I will or would get along without being able to see clearly.

I shot these photos at my eye doctor's just before we left on our trip, so I could play around with them and come up with something like how I see things without glasses. The folks at his office thought I was a bit weird coming in for my third eye exam with my digital camera. I tried to reassure them I am not spying for another eye doctor and I will not identify the doctor in my artwork.

So .... I still don't have the right glasses. If this last go-round doesn't produce some glasses that help me see, plus don't make me nauseous or dizzy, I'm goin somewhere else!

Thursday, May 18

Slickrock Canyon Designs

Photos I took during our recent trip to Zion National Park ... click on the titles to see the larger individual versions:
1. Cleave Blush Canyon, 2. Canyon Folds Painted Rock, 3. Canyon Floor, 4. Surface

Wednesday, May 17

Far from the madding crowd

Far from the madding crowd
Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Found this canyon and climbed to the end of it at dawn. Caught the first rays of sun making firey glow on sandstone beauty, the day still cool from the tattered darkness ... sand cool on my bare toes and birdsong reflecting on the cliff faces in torrents of colorful notes. Everything as still as the most peaceful place on Earth could be. Not a single other soul around except Tim and me.

The mountain's face is warmed at dawn

Both photos are part of my set, Desert Springtime

Saturday, May 6

Goodbye for now ... we're off to the desert

Goodbye for now ... we're off to the desert
Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

I made the acquaintance of these two warriors last spring just outside of Zion National Park. I hope to meet up with them again and bring them greetings in the next day or so, from all my family and friends.

Also hope to aim my camera around at the awesomeness that is the desert-in-spring. Please check back about the 17th or so to see what's new. I won't have a computer while I'm gone so I'll be sorta quiet around here.

Friday, May 5

Photo Friday: Adolescence

Homage to Dorothea Lange
Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Homage to Dorothea Lange photographed for the Utata Pays Homage Project and used here to illustrate "Adolescence" for Photo Friday.

Thursday, May 4

Poetry Thursday ... a poem by Jorie Graham

Slowly Going Blind Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

I fell in love with Jorie Graham's poetry several years ago and I suppose I had her poem, For a Friend Going Blind, in my unconscious as I shaped this photo collage after a really frustrating experience at my eye doctor's (I'm on the third lens prescription in less than a week - they're having trouble getting it right!)

Since I depend so much on my sense of sight, it weighs heavy on me that I am losing my vision ... slowly but surely ... I am not actually going totally blind, and I don't intend to trivialize blindness ... but it sure feels that way sometimes. I do have empathy for people with macular degeneration and other progressive eye/vision problems who eventually have to rely much more heavily on their other senses. This experience is forcing me to explore other ways of seeing -- to explore the senses that are beyond the usual 5 senses. And Jorie's poem is a stepping stone towards that goal. I hope you find it as powerful and moving as I do.

To a Friend Going Blind

Today, because I couldn’t find the shortcut through,
I had to walk this town’s entire inner
perimeter to find
where the medieval walls break open
in an eighteenth century
arch. The yellow valley flickered on and off
through cracks and the gaps
for guns. Bruna is teaching me
to cut a pattern.
Saturdays we buy the cloth.
She takes it in her hands
like a good idea, feeling
for texture, grain, the built-in
limits. It’s only as an afterthought she asks
and do you think it’s beautiful?
Her measuring tapes hang down, corn-blond and endless,
from her neck.
When I look at her
I think Rapunzel,
how one could climb that measuring,
that love. But I was saying,
I wandered all along the street that hugs the walls,
a needle floating
on its cloth. Once
I shut my eyes and felt my way
along the stone. Outside
is the cashcrop, sunflowers, as far as one can see. Listen,
the wind rattles in them,
a loose worship
seeking an object,
an interruption. Sara,
the walls are beautiful. They block the view.
And it feels rich to be
inside their grasp.
When Bruna finishes her dress
it is the shape of what has come
to rescue her. She puts it on.

poem by Jorie Graham
from her book, Erosion, published by Princeton Univ Press

Poetry Thursday folks, I found a couple of very useful and inspiring websites I wanted to share with you. One is the Favorite Poem Project. Check out the archive of poems that are favorites of ordinary people and writers, both. And the videos are really inspiring to watch!

And Voices from the Prairie for a slice of the midwestern USA and a poet's viewpoint.

Lastly, an inspiration to me ... is this artist's book by Susan Angebranndt illustrating Jorie Graham's "For a Friend ..." poem. Too bad it's out of print. It's absolutely gorgeous!

Thanks to Liz Elayne in Seattle for starting the Poetry Thursday project. It's probably my favorite ongoing online art/writing project ever.

Tuesday, May 2

Day Dream Night Being

Day Dream Night Being
Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

Made for the Self Portrait Tuesday group which has changed and I for some reason, can't log-in to put my link on the new web page. foo!

I took this shot staring in the mirror moments after we dumped all our stuff in our Athens hotel room. I was waiting for Tim to get ready to go out exploring, and while waiting I clicked a few pics. We were both pretty exhausted, but not in the mood for sleep, so we went exploring. Being tired ... the reason for my serious look.

Monday, May 1


Originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

I have set about to capture the magical feeling I get whenever I enter the gateway and go into this meadow near our home. I call it a "secret" meadow and almost think of it as "my place" because you have to go through an old dilapidated gate hanging crooked on it's hinges, to get inside. And because from the outside it looks so absolutely ordinary that one would not suspect such a luminous sacred place exists there.

The aspen trees surrounding this meadow are all stunted for some reason. They seem old and full of stories, yet their trunks are short (most no higher than 10 or 12 feet) and twisted, distorted by the elements.

One of my flickr friends suggested placing something (like Sam) in the photos to convey the sense of scale, so today I played around with an old chair and my vintage umbrella while Sam watched. He did not want to be in the photos. He told me so and very directly.

Anyway, this turned out to be one of my favorites.