I’ve got a peaceful, easy feeling

Get your kicks on Route 66

The desert. I promised I would write about the desert.

A couple of months ago I visited my Dad and stepmother at their new winter home in Needles California. Needles is on the border of California and Arizona, located in the Mojave Desert. I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I grew up in Spokane, WA, which is on the edge of a desert, and we drove through it on our way to other places. So my experience with the desert is limited to the High Desert of Eastern Washington.

I was delighted to finally visit this part of the country. I’ve never been to Arizona. I had an interesting reaction to this place. I felt very at-home here. It surprised me, frankly. I am not a hot-weather person. Physically, I don’t do well in anything above 80 degrees. But the heat didn’t bother me on this trip. I was really entranced by the place. It’s stunning in it’s stark beauty. The emptiness calmed me, made me feel at peace.

The history is interesting as well. Needles is on Route 66 and was once a very thriving town. The town has fallen into poverty in the years since Route 66 is no longer used as much. There are lots of vestiges from this time period. It’s both romantic and sad at the same time.

Here are some photos I took while I was there. The color shots were taken with my pinhole camera, and the black and white were made with an Olympus XA.

I was hoping to make it to the Grand Canyon, but unfortunately we couldn’t get out there this time. It is, for sure, on the books for next year.

You can read about Oatman Arizona at Pinhole Obscura, where I recently wrote a blog post about it. Many of the photos above were taken there.

thrifty $1


Thrifty $1

This is the last of my Sandy In Black And White series for now. I need to load my Holga with more Tri-x and wait for a rainy day.

This is one of the latest business in what is known as The Junker Building. For reasons I don’t understand, businesses do not stay around for very long here. It makes me kind of sad. This thrift shop has been holding steady for several months though.

Geeky Bits
Camera: Holga 120N
Film: Tri-x
Development; Stand developed for 1 hour in Adonal.

Film swap with Jesús


Several months ago I did a film swap with my internet friend, and fellow pinhole photography aficionado, Jesús! We did a black and white film swap, which is rather new for me. I am extraordinarily behind on posting these.

Here are some of my favorites from the roll.

Film Swap with Jesús

Film Swap with Jesús

Film Swap with Jesús

You can see more on my Flickr. And do check out  Jesús‘s work! the guy is a brilliant pinhole photographer. I feel like even that last statement is an understatement. He is a master of the art of pinhole photography. :)

Open 24 hours


Open 24 hours

Continuing my series of photos taken in Sandy with my Holga in Black and White film. Here is the little market down the street where I get my potato chip fix in the afternoons on a rainy day. It’s got that kinda cool, run down feel to it. And it’s open 24 hours.

Geeky bits:
Camera: Holga 120N
Film: Tri-x
Development: stand developed in Adonal for 1 hour

Thoughts on kindness


The zen center I belong to is going through precepts study at the moment, so I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about them lately. During this  study period you are supposed read them every morning and then the idea is that the wisdom bubbles up into your daily life. The reading of them in the morning, to be completely honest, feels like such a chore. But it totally works. The wisdom  bubbles up to the surface in all sorts of interesting ways.

This past week I’ve been thinking a lot about this precept:

Don’t be mean with dharma or weath – share understanding, give freely of self.
In the genuine, all pervading dharma, being jealous of nothing is the precept of not being mean with dharma or weath. One phrase, one verse – that is the ten thousand things and one hundred grasses; one dharma, one realization – that is all buddhas and dharma ancestors. From the beginning, not one thing has been begrudged.

On the surface, it seems pretty straightforward. But then when you start thinking about it, it’s like WTF is this about. Then thousand things? huh? One hundred grasses? My mind kind of stops working at that point.

So this part of it is completely nonsensical to me right now. However, this morning I replaced the world “dharma” with the word “kindness” and it all makes much more sense. Do not be mean (or stingy) with kindness. Share understanding and give freely of self.

Give freely of self.

I feel like this is the key to understanding this precept. If you can give kindness, then give kindness.

For me, right now, being kind not only applies to others, but it also applies to myself. I think, culturally, we are programmed to be kind to others, which is good. But are we programmed to be kind to ourselves? Not really. I have been working really hard on programing my brain to be kind to myself.

An example of this is that I’ve been thinking about different versions of myself. Specifically “future Monica.” Or “Past Monica.” When I, for example, do the dishes before going to bed I’ve been thinking about it as being kind to “future Monica.” And, indeed, when I wake up and the dishes are done and the kitchen is clean I am super stoked. It makes my day start out on a good note. And then I can be grateful for “Past Monica” for being kind to the me in the present.