Thistles

I had been kind of worried about these thistles this summer. I had meant to shoot them last year but never managed; this year we are having a heat wave and I was afraid it would happen again. Made time this morning though and did a few.

I really like these thistles. I planted them several years ago after someone at the nursery told me local bugs like them. They are popular with wasps and some black and yellow hornet-looking guys; I was surprised no one stung me when I cut a few to put into the vase.

Thistles, F8, 10 seconds, shade, hot day. Reh's new generation collodion

Thistles, F8, 10 seconds, shade, hot day. Reh’s new generation collodion

Thistles. F11, 20 seconds, Reh's new generation collodion, shade, hot day.

Thistles. F11, 20 seconds, Reh’s new generation collodion, shade, hot day.

Thistles. F11, 20 seconds, Reh's new generation collodion, shade, hot day.

Thistles. F11, 20 seconds, Reh’s new generation collodion, shade, hot day.

Thistles. F3.5, 1 second, Lea's portrait collodion, shade, hot day.

Thistles. F3.5, 1 second, Lea’s portrait collodion, shade, hot day.

Thistles. F32, 80 seconds, Lea's portrait collodion, shade, hot day.

Thistles. F32, 80 seconds, Lea’s portrait collodion, shade, hot day. In the top-right corner you can see where the collodion started to dry out – it was thinnest at this spot, and the 80-second exposure was cutting it close in such hot weather. In the lower-left corner is a smudgy area – the plate got dirty before I poured collodion and I tried to clean it off with a paper towel that already had other chemicals on it – developer and silver solution, mostly…

Samsara

Dalai Lama: (puts a drinking glass over a wasp, goes back to chopping up a squash, finishes, gives pieces to wife.)
Mrs. Lama: Thanks, honey.
Dalai Lama: Don’t mention it. (goes into living room, checks facebook)
Mrs. Lama: Did you have anything planned for this wasp?
Dalai Lama: Oh, gee, sorry! I was going to let him go and got sidetracked. (pauses video of moose cooling off in a wading pool)
Dalai Lama: Wow, that looks like I set a booby trap for you, doesn’t it. (Gets newspaper, whips glass off counter onto newspaper, but can’t find wasp.) Er… (Looks around for wasp, spots it on the newspaper, puts glass over it, fumbles glass, catches glass.) Oh. (The glass is devoid of wasp. Looks for wasp. Finds wasp on his arm.) Fuck!
Wasp: (Stings Dalai Lama)
Dalai Lama: Son of a bitch.
Mrs. Dalai Lama: Is it dead?
Dalai Lama: (Rolls up newspaper, swats wasp, which is now on floor) Yes. (Picks up wasp with paper towel, carries out to garbage, stands in front of garbage cans looking back and forth between compostable garbage bin and residual waste garbage bin, opts for the latter.)

Ode to a fly at the window

Bzzt bzzt bzzt
Bzzt bzzt bzzt
Bzzt bzzt bzzt
Bzzt bzzt bzzt
Bzzzzzzt!
Bzzt bzzt bzzt
Bzzt bzzt bzzt
Bzzt bzzt bzzt
For as long as it takes

Deprivation, isolation, floating

What say the slain?
One day, months ago, during a brief respite from political ranting during a drive into town with Gamma, we listened to a radio program about a sensory deprivation / isolation / floating tank business in Vienna.
“I’ve always wanted to try that,” I said.
Gamma filed that information away neatly and guess what my daughters gave me for Father’s Day?
This is how I found myself sitting on a shady bench in a Vienna cemetery yesterday evening. I was early for my appointment at the Sargfabrik, an apartment complex in Vienna with a theater instead of a parking garage, and down in the cellar a room with a floatation tank.
Floatation (or floating? not sure) tank is what used to be called an isolation tank, and before that sensory deprivation tank.
I prefer sensory deprivation tank, but understand one must market the things.
Like I was saying, I was early as always and took a walk around the neighborhood and disliked the park (too sunny, for one thing, and generally unlikeable, at least yesterday evening, for me, at that spot) so I continued onward and found the cemetery next door and went in and found a shady bench and watched the gravediggers work, and read the dates on the headstones, as one does.
Then I thought, Ah! Cemetery – Sargfabrik, I get it!
I guess the Sargfabrik used to be an actual coffin factory until it was converted into housing.
Then I texted the floating tank guy that I was already in the neighborhood, in case I could get in early, and I did and there I sat, no longer in the cemetery, in the cellar, in a dimly lit, cool room, being orientated.
Epilepsy? he said. Claustrophobia?
Nah, I said.
Goals? Hopes? he said.
Curiosity, I said. Father’s Day.
He looked a little disappointed, (but I might have been making that up, there in the dim light) so I added, maybe get an insight into this deep sadness I lug around all the time that is kinda the mortar holding my world together? Or into this yapping I have been doing with my wife?
Okay, he said. I dunno, he didn’t look real relieved so maybe it really was the dim light after all.
He said he’d knock on the outside of the tank when my time was up, and left.
I took a shower and got into the tank and shut the lid.
I spent a long time getting comfortable which is weird because what could be more comfortable than floating naked in a shallow tub of super dense saltwater in the dark?
But such is life.
I floated there in the dark listening to something hum. Something was fucking humming! What kind of sensory deprivation is this? Maybe it was the ventilation.
More of a buzz than a hum. And not loud, but still.
It wasn’t me.
Then either I got used to it or it stopped.
I listened to my breathing for a while, and to my heartbeat.
After a long, tiring day, I was surprised I did not fall asleep, or even get sleepy. After lunch I had been nodding off at my desk.
I sort of meditated for a while. I hummed a little. My mind was pretty blank a lot of the time.
At some point I woke up, or regained consciousness, or something. So I was out for a while, in one way or another.
Toward the end, trying out different ways of holding my head and comparing relative comfort, I got salt water in both eyes and was really glad the orientator had showed me where the kleenexes were in case that happened. I opened the hatch and wiped out my eyes and closed the lid again and eventually the stinging stopped.
One’s ears are submerged in the tank, so sounds are muffled.
I lay there listening to my heartbeat.
Thump-thump-thump! Then after three thumps it stopped again. Weird, I thought. I tried various positions to hear my heartbeat clearly again like that. Then I did, I heard it again. Thump-thump-thump.
After doing this a few more times I realized it was the guy knocking on the outside of the tank that my time was up.
He went away again and I lay there for a minute, thinking, Well that was an anticlimax.
No jumping out of the tank and running around like a caveman like William Hurt in Altered States. No hallucinations, no epiphanies.
It didn’t even seem all that different from my normal, daily life, I thought.
Then I thought, my normal, daily life is like an isolation tank.
Then I thought, there’s an epiphany for you after all.

Hollyhock, lavender

It was windy today but calmed down long enough to make three plates of flowers – a red hollyhock and lavender, both picked in front of the house.

Red hollyhock, 13x18cm black aluminum, Lea's portrait collodion, f3.5 2-3 seconds, normal developer 8-10 seconds.

Red hollyhock, 13x18cm black aluminum, Lea’s portrait collodion, f3.5 2-3 seconds, normal developer 8-10 seconds.

Red hollyhock, 13x18cm black aluminum, Lea's portrait collodion, f4, 3 seconds, sugar developer 10-12 seconds.

Red hollyhock, 13x18cm black aluminum, Lea’s portrait collodion, f4, 3 seconds, sugar developer 10-12 seconds.

Lavender from the bush in front of our house. 13x18cm, black aluminum, Bohemia collodion, f3.5 2-3 seconds, overcast, sugar developer 10-12 seconds.

Lavender from the bush in front of our house. 13x18cm, black aluminum, Bohemia collodion, f3.5 2-3 seconds, overcast, sugar developer 10-12 seconds.

Frustration: Guest post by the hobo spider

hobospider

Allow me to
change your life.
Sit there on that
pile of
kindling and
listen.
Put that phone
away for a second
this will not
take long.
If you are like many
people,
frustration
bedevils you. Things
turn out
differently
than you plan or
hope, or intend,
and this
frustrates you.
Someone stands you
up.
A child disobeys.
A feeling is
not mutual.
You following me?
Frustration is
the product of
mistakenly
considering
the imaginary and
the real
to be the same
so when what you imagine
does not happen
you perceive that as a loss
and ignore
what is
in front of your face.
There is no
should.
The real is
all there is.
Examine it closely.
The next time you
find yourself abandoned
on a street corner,
look around for
the unexpected
treasure. The
nickel on the
sidewalk the pretty
clouds. The Sikh’s
moustache.
Watch for the
adventure
chance brought you there
to have. Watch the
city bustle
as it wakes up,
or puts on its lipstick
to go out.
Or goes to bed.
When a child disobeys:
regard the real child, not
the perfect one you had
imagined.
Put your phone away.
The real child is
more interesting
and richer
than anything you
could make up.
Have awe for the
miraculous, and
compassion,
even that in
yourself.
This moment is more than
what you had hoped for.
It is all there is.
That will be two hundred dollars.
You’re welcome.

Echium

Bluish-purplish flower in my backyard. Bees like it. Maybe some kind of echium? Bohemia collodion, f3.5 or f4, about 3 seconds, cloudy/rainy (the black spots are from raindrops that hit the plate after I'd poured the collodion but before I sensitized it. Regular developer, 15 seconds. I'm not crazy about the composition, but I was in a hurry because it started raining pretty hard. As soon as I had put everything back into the house the rain stopped and the sun came back out.

Bluish-purplish flower in my backyard. Maybe some kind of echium? Bohemia collodion, f3.5 or f4, about 3 seconds, cloudy/rainy (the black spots are from raindrops that hit the plate after I’d poured the collodion but before I sensitized it. Regular developer, 15 seconds. I’m not crazy about the composition, but I was in a hurry because it started raining pretty hard. As soon as I had put everything back into the house the rain stopped and the sun came back out.