Feb 23, 2014

Eboo Patel: Acts of Faith

One of my classmates attends a Muslim Journeys class that meets once a month at the local college. When she found out that I had been married to a Muslim, she invited me to the meeting hoping that I would be able to take away something positive.  Before the gathering, I was given Eboo Patel's book Acts of Faith to read and a group of about 20 people showed up to discuss his work. 

Photograph by Nubar Alexanian
Mr. Patel is deeply involved in Interfaith work, but this book is really more about a journey, a coming to terms with your own beliefs. He encourages everyday people like you and me to explore other religions so that we will become a stronger believer in our own faith. But first, we must have dialogue and find a common value between the religions. Then we can work together to help mankind. A service that is to be done for His glory and not ours. What I thought would be a boring read turned out to be one of encouragement and inspiration.  

Here is a quote from my favorite poet which is very fitting for this post:

I am not from the east or the west
not up from the ground
or out of the ocean
my place is placeless
a trace of the traceless
I belong to the Beloved.



Feb 21, 2014

Winter Blahs and wishing the season would just go away

I don't know about you, but this winter has been very hard on us here in the Midwest.  We have had more snow this winter than the past ten years.  The whole city is talking about the weather and more than just talking, people are complaining.  Snow boots are now everyday wear instead of getting their occasional use and I really don't want to wear tan suede everyday. For two days, I wore normal shoes to work and felt ever so much like a rebel. Yesterday I wore a sweatshirt and was elated. Then today came and the wind is blowing as if a tornado was near by.  I stand in front of the window with my nose pressed against the windowpane longing to go out.  Longing to feel warm breezes on my skin. Longing to take pictures again. Longing for the sun to warm the now frigid earth. 

Yesterday, I made my way to the camera shop.  I have been investigating lenses, especially the 50mm Canon f/1.8.  I asked the guy at the counter a billion questions and then decided on the lens that I wanted all along.  Today, I took it out for a spin, so to speak.  I really like the results for such a simple piece of camera equipment. 

I went to the Botanical Gardens and also to the Cathedral across the street.  The pictures are more sharp than any I have taken so far.  

 I cannot tell you how thrilled I am with this new lens.

Tomorrow, I have a photo shoot scheduled for some friends of mine.  I can hardly wait to get there.

Besides all of this, I didn't carry a flash or reflectors, just the camera.  Isn't that the way it is supposed to be? Just a girl and her camera.

Feb 20, 2014

Burris Film of Morocco

I subscribe to Burris Film on Youtube and whenever a new video comes out I am notified right away. The guy's name is Evan Burris Trout who is an American Cinematographer that is currently living in London.  He has been traveling all over Europe and Northern Africa since he arrived in the United Kingdom and I have watched nearly all of his videos.  I was looking up things about England on Youtube, (which is my favorite movie channel at the moment), and have been hooked ever since.  When he filmed the countryside of Morocco in the Atlas Mountains video it brought back a lot of memories for me.  I love the mint tea and still have it on a regular basis along with tagines, couscous, and a myriad of other wonderful Moroccan dishes. Morocco is only a three hour plane ride from London and many people come for a weekend. Doesn't that sound exciting?! I hope that you enjoy these videos.  I sure do. 

Evan is also on Facebook

Feb 13, 2014

My life is like a book

Today, I found this wonderful little book that was written in 1896. It is called A Man's Value to Society by Newell-Dwight-Hillis.There were 18 editions printed between 1896-1899, it appears to have been quite popular. I only paid a $1 for it and I am anxious to delve in-between its cover. I am a collector of old things, well, except old men. When I picked it up, it smelled old, but not musty, which turns me off. 

As I thumbed my way through the book this caught my eye:  "Primarily, books are to be read for information and mental strength. The hunger of the body for bread and fruit is not more real than the hunger of the intellect for facts and principles." 

Sometimes, I have an insatiable desire to read, almost voracious at times, as I consume volume after volume. My whole existence is surrounded by books. The house is full of them and nearly in every room, none in the bathroom (I have my limits). I have a running list of ones that I must read and work seems to get in my way of doing the things that I enjoy most, which is reading. But isn't that how life is? If I could only get paid for reading! But then I would probably end up hating the thing that I love most.

Each of us is a book without an epilogue,
an unfinished book 
whose Author reserves the right to write the ending,
since He wrote the beginning.

Anais Nin

Feb 6, 2014

Two sisters, tree sap, and another photography story

It was a perfect September day.  The sun stood high in the sky, beaming down its rays on the earth.  Roses were still in bloom, filling the air with their sweet perfume. The trees were full of leaves and they rustled when the wind blew. It is days like this that made me want to bask in the sun and relax, but there was no relaxing on this day.

 My sister Donna asked me to photograph her since she hadn’t taken any pictures of herself in a while.  I was glad to oblige her and it gave me the opportunity to work on my photography techniques.  With several changes of clothing and my camera gear, we headed to the various parks around town.  Never realizing the obstacles that would get in our way, although, this seems to be the story of my life.

I picked her up and we decided to go to the various parks in town to try and take some good photographs. The first place we went to was Foster Park. It was located very close to my house and there was an abundance of flowers and trees which provided a beautiful background. 

I was still very new at photography and owned a Canon Powershot at the time.  Oh the problems I had with that camera!  Most of the time I took 10-15 shots of the same scene hoping that at least one would be decent enough to use.  Most shots would be either blurry, have outlandish colors, some body part was cut off, or dappled sun spots would be on the subject’s face.  If I took pictures inside during the winter time, well, I might as well not have tried.  They would be dark, blurry or both.  And yet, I kept trying.

We arrived at the park and began the photo shoot.  Donna was a real trooper.  I had her climbing trees, standing in the midst of bushes and posing in awkward positions.  When we were nearly done, I saw a lovely tree with a low branch that my sister could sit on while I took her picture.  She plopped down and I tried to take a few shots. I noticed that she was sitting in an awkward position. I asked her to move her bottom forward a little so that she could lean back against the branch comfortably.

 “I can’t” she said.

“Why not?” I asked.

“I’m stuck.”

"What do you mean you’re stuck?”

“I can’t move”, she said,” My pants are stuck to the tree.”

Not again, I thought.  The last time I took someone out on a photo shoot we got locked in the Botanical Gardens, now this. I felt a laugh coming.  I pried my sister off the tree branch and turned her around to look at the back of her pants.  Tree sap covered her entire backside.  There’s no way she is sitting in my car with that sticky stuff all over her pants.

“You’re not sitting in my car with sap all over your butt,” I said roaring with laughter.  She stood beside my car while I rummaged through the trunk looking for something that she could sit on.  I found a plastic grocery bag.  I asked my sister to turn around. I knelt down and I firmly pressed the bag to her bottom, making sure that no sap was exposed and the bag wouldn't come off.  I didn't care if people were looking at us while I was pressing the bag to her bottom; I was determined that no sap would be left on my car seat. By the time the both of us were in the car we were laughing hysterically.

“Jeannie, something weird always happens when I am with you.”

“I guess I am special.” I replied with a smile.

I dropped her off at home and I drove back to my house laughing the whole way.  I had a great day with my sister and it was one day that I will never forget. Sometimes it’s the weird things make our experiences more memorable.