Sunday, November 21, 2010


As we enter this week of Thanksgiving, I want to thank all of my friends in the blogging community for enriching my life daily.  You have been, and continue to be, great sources of inspiration, education, and joy.  More importantly, you have proven yourselves to be true friends — fellow pilgrims on this magical and mysterious journey we call life.

My offering today is very simple:  some abstract photos taken during the past few weeks, some pertinent observations of others about unexpected beauty, and, finally, a lovely poem by Anne Sexton about everyday blessings.  Enjoy.

One of the most important — and most neglected — elements in the beginning of the interior life is the ability to respond to reality, to see the value and the beauty in ordinary things, to come alive to the splendor that is all around us.
Thomas Merton 

Everything is life is speaking, is audible, is communicating, in spite of its apparent silence.
Hazrat Inayat Khan 

 For lack of attention, a thousand forms of loveliness elude us every day.

Evelyn Underhill

                                 No more words.  In the name of this place we
                                 drink in with our breathing, stay quiet like a flower,
                                 So the nightbirds will start singing.


If you love it enough, anything will talk with you.
George Washington Carver 

The moment one gives close attention to anything . . . it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.
Henry Miller 

Take, for example, a pencil, ashtray, anything, and holding it before you in both hands, regard it for a while.  Forgetting its use and name, yet continuing to regard it, ask yourself seriously, "What is it?" . . . Its dimension of wonder opens; for the mystery of the being of that thing is identical with the mystery of the being of the universe, and yourself.
Joseph Campbell 

                                                 WELCOME MORNING

                                   There is joy
                                   in all:
                                   in the hair I brush each morning,
                                   in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
                                   that I rub my body with each morning,
                                   in the chapel of eggs I cook
                                   each morning,
                                   the spoon and the chair
                                   that cry "hello there, Anne"
                                   each morning,
                                   in the godhead of the table
                                   that I set my silver, plate, cup upon
                                   each morning.

                                   All this is God,
                                   right here in my pea-green house
                                   each morning
                                   and I mean,
                                   though often forget,
                                   to give thanks,
                                   to faint down by the kitchen table
                                   in prayer of rejoicing
                                   as the holy birds at the kitchen window
                                   peck into their marriage of seeds.

                                  So while I think of it,
                                  let me paint a thank-you on my palm
                                  for this God, this laughter of the morning,
                                  lest it go unspoken.

                                  The Joy that isn't shared, I've heard,
                                  dies young.

                                  Anne Sexton

Notes on photographs:  (1) detail from abandoned Chevrolet tow truck; (2) mooring line and reflections from dock in marina; (3) patina of old metal strip found in boatyard; (4) sailboat rudder and keg; (5) sunrise on Tred Avon River; (6) stern of old work boat; (7) water reflection of boat workshop; (8) water reflection of machinery and sailboat masts: (9) detail from abandoned Chevrolet tow truck; (10) collage of some of my other abstract photos created by my blogging friend, Neighbor, over at Temporary Reality .



  1. Each of these photographs is exquisite in color and detail. Haiku or koans in themselves. I do love the quotes you've selected as well. The poem by Ms. Sexton is almost unbearably poignant. How I wish she could have held on to it. Thank you for sharing these and Happy Thanksgiving.

  2. To Teresa,

    Thanks so much for your kind and generous comments, Teresa. The end of Anne Sexton's life was tragic, but we can never forget the wonderful contributions that people make during their lifetimes. I give thanks, as I'm sure you do, to those who have drawn our attention to the blessings of everyday life.

  3. I just came over here from Riverdaze. Two satisfying expressions of gratitude in a row. I love your abstract photos which make a perfect illustration of the quotes, especially Miller's. Thank you, George.

  4. Profoundly inspiring work George. This eye-popping work comes from a curious mind, a discerning eye and a loving heart. Such vivid, elemental abstract work should find a place to be showcased for all to see! And ... your stunning photography is companioned with such complimentary quotes. I am standing, applauding and murmuring "Encore!"

  5. To Dan,

    Thanks. You started at a good place today, Dan. The poem written by Grizz for Thanksgiving is both beautiful and inspirational. Glad you liked the photos and quotes.

  6. To Bonnie,

    Thanks, my friend, for those lovely words of encouragement. I love the abstract work — it's like music without the lyrics — and I'm always delighted when others also find it interesting. Have a great week ahead.

  7. these pictures are stunning as are your words of thanks :-) Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours
    Love Gail

  8. Thank you, George, you have captured and shared such beauty in words and visuals.... you have a very sensitive spirit.. and the encouragement you give to look a little deeper into the things we are daily exposed to is something we should all take the time to do.. Happy Thanksgiving

  9. you have a wonderful sense of perception. Thankyou so much for the pics and the words. Happy Thanksgiving.

  10. I've come to expect great and mighty beauty when I come here, George. I get a thrill when I see that you have posted something. I think it's because you do what these people talk about doing. You pay close attention to things, you faint in rejoicing, you regard what is around you with love, and then you show us. The translation always works!

    I feel privileged to witness your photographs of beauty in unexpected places here at the blog. And I am not one to worry to much about getting published. But in a heartbeat I would buy a book of your photos of unexpected beauty in ordinary things. The colors, and random patterns and textures that you find and "document" (sounds too clinical for beauty), just stun me.

    Just started reading Roger Scruton's On Beauty, so this post is timely in my own little world.

    Have I told you lately that I'm thankful for you? No? Not in the last 24 hours? Shame on me! :)

    Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

  11. Some lovely photographs especially the one of the one of the Tred Avon river. Nearly all the words you've chosen remind us that there is so much beauty around us all the time if we look for it. Happy Thanksgiving George.

  12. To Gail,

    Thanks, Gail, for the lovely comments. Peace and Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

  13. To Rochelle,

    Hi, Rochelle. Happy to have you stop by and I deeply appreciate your kind words. Stop by again soon and, during the meantime, have a lovely Thanksgiving!

  14. To Gwen,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, Gwen. Looking for beauty in unexpected places is a passion for me, which, if course, is one of the reasons I always stop by your site, though, at this point, I must confess that I always expect to find beauty there. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!

  15. To Gerry,

    Thanks so much for the generous comments. Perception improves, I find, with disciplined looking, but I still think that I overlook much of the world's beauty. I'm still learning to see beyond my conditioned mind. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for stopping by.

  16. To Ruth,

    Thank you, my kind friend. It's good to hear your words, for, candidly, I've been feeling a tad guilty about my first comments on your recent post. I started to file a further clarification when I saw you raise the question with Neighbor about how we should approach our writing on blogs. I think you know by answer on that one, but it would go something like this: Fearlessly without being attached to the outcome.

    Thanks, as always, for your lovely comments on the photos and quotes. I'm no crusader, but I do hope that my contributions will help people to move beyond their conditioned views of things. There are so many beautiful things — indeed, many sacred things — right before our eyes.

    I am grateful for your friendship and I look forward to our continued conversations. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with Don and your entire family.

  17. To Rowan,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, Rowan. I know from your own postings that you have learned how to see the everyday beauty in your own life. As I approach our Thanksgiving holiday, I give thanks for people like you who always provide me with something new to see and think about.

  18. Your abstract photos are some of my favorites, George. I like looking closely at them and trying to discern at what you were pointing your camera. Do you use a polarizing filter when shooting the reflective shots? More and more in my life I'm attempting "to see the value and the beauty in ordinary things." Is it true that unshared joy doesn't last? I'm not so sure.

  19. PS A Happy Thanksgiving to you and your Family, too!

  20. George, you and guilt should never be in the same room together. There was nothing in your comments but sadness, over a terrible story. We just had to talk about it a minute.

  21. To Barb,

    Thanks for the comments, Barb. While I once used polarizing filters many years ago, I do not anymore. I am a painter and I try to approach the abstract photos as I would an abstract painting, which is to say that I am interested in a composition that contains dominance (for order) and contrast (for variety and interest). I use hues, intensities, lines, shapes, textures, and values to establish the dominance and contrast. I know this sounds hyper-technical, but I believe that all good art makes use of the rules and elements of good design.

    On a more practical level, there are several other things that I do that may be of interest to you and other photographers. First, I go hunting for naturally occurring abstract compositions. Knowing, for example, that entropy has interesting textural and color effects on metal, I will often go to places where there are discarded vehicles, machinery, and other types of metal. Similarly, I know the times of day that light creates dramatic reflections on the water, and you will often find me out at those times in search of something to work with.

    Another thing I do is to isolate the small areas of things that are interesting to me, forgetting that the thing as a whole might be boring. To this end, I often use a macro lents (Nikkor 105 mm macro).

    I try do all of my work through the lens, i.e., with the right settings on my camera, good focus, good composition, and correct depth of field. If there is something minor, however, that I can do in the editing process — e.g., cropping something out to improve the composition — I will do that, but I do not create entirely new images from scratch using layering and other creative editing techniques.

    I hope this helps, Thanks again for the comments.

  22. George
    I must thank you, my friend, I am very grateful that I can visit sites like yours and find out what Thanksgiving really means to people on a personal level. As an outsider I could easily see it as another period of meaningless overindulgence. It is so encouraging to see genuine feelings of thanks expressed here.
    The photos of reflections contain fascinating distortions leaving me pondering the form of the reality.
    Enjoy your Thanksgiving with those you love.

  23. Thanks, Ruth, for the follow-up comment. I will take your advice.

  24. To Tramp,

    What a treat to wake up and find your comment this morning, Tramp. To be quite honest, most American holidays have become commercial spectacles in which the meaning of the holiday is lost. Thanksgiving, however, is a little different. It's just a single autumn day with no gifts, no fireworks, and nothing to think about other than one's blessings. May you and Lady have many blessings yourselves in the coming days.

  25. If I am not too late then I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving too.

    What a miraculously beautiful post this is. The beauty in the commonplace, the overlooked you have highlighted here is magical indeed.

    Eyes to see, a soul to absorb and a heart to appreciate, all these are yours and, through you, now mine.

  26. To Friko,

    What lovely comments, Friko. As always, your kind and generous thoughts are much appreciated.

  27. George, I am so thankful to have met you. In the middle of all the noise of the internet, a handful of people come along who inspire, delight, make me think deeply, and share so much beauty. You are one who has enriched my life on a weekly basis. You give much. For that, I am very thankful.

    The pictures are beautiful. As always, I am in awe and can't stop looking at them. And the Sexton poem is just what I need to read today. How do you do that? Your selections are always spot on.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, George. I hope your days overflow with joy and peace.

  28. To Julie,

    Thanks for such kind and generous comments, Julie. I am delighted to have met you as well. I'm so glad you liked the Anne Sexton poem. It reminds me of the constant need to be centered in simple, everyday things. That's where the magic is, though most seek it elsewhere. Happy Thanksgiving to you, your family, and friends.

  29. Dear George,

    it's a delight to return home after several days out of town and find such photos and sentiments posted here.

    *You* are a source of inspiration as well!

  30. To Neighbor,

    Thanks for your kindness, Neighbor. Welcome home and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  31. you so humble me.

    and while I've read most of these quotes before, and Ann's poem,
    hearing them with your art is a gift . Glorious. Thank you Thank you.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loves. We have had our day much earlier here in Canada, but I have a daughter who goes to school at UMASS so she will be traveling home for the holiday so I am grateful for that of course.

    And grateful to know that there are so many people with good and thankful and giving hearts. We need to remember that. It is the first part of compassion, yes? Believing in the other.

    Thank you again, for sharing your belief.

  32. To Deb,

    Thanks for the kind and generous comments, Deb. I hope you have a wonderful visit with you daughter. Yes, I think that gratitude is the starting place for compassion.

  33. Excellente
    Tank you for sharing

  34. To Skizo,

    Thanks for the generous comments. Glad you enjoyed this posting.

  35. Beautiful shots. I've been scrolling down and I have missed some beautiful photos. what was I thinking?! Also I read your remarks about returning to 'real' life. really excellent. Why did I not click on the follow button before?

  36. To Ellen,

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Ellen, and thanks for the lovely comments. I hope you will return and join the conversation. During the meantime, I plan to check out your blog. Have a great Thanksgiving.

  37. Happy belated Thanksgiving to you, George. Although I now live far from the States, and have been away for a quarter century now, it remains the one holiday that still tugs at me the most. And as a relatively new blogger myself, like you this is the first Thanksgiving at which I have sat blog friends down at the banquet of gratitude.

    And there is much to be grateful for in this post. I especially like that you find 'abstract' art in the every day. Abstract art is routinely thought of as something esoteric and inscrutable, so your ability to see and capture it in such commonplace things like rust patterns and reflections and the like is as refreshing as it is inspiring, a breaking down of the useless boundaries and barriers between art and life, the extraordinary and the ordinary, the miraculous and mundane.

  38. To Lorenzo,

    Thanks, as always, Lorenzo, for your lovely comments. I, too, prefer Thanksgiving to the other holidays. On the whole, it seems to be the least commercialized.

    I give thanks for friends like you who continue to inspire me. You will always be welcome at my Thanksgiving table.

    Have a great weekend!

  39. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, George. Sorry this comes belated. Trust you had a sumptuous meal in the company of beloved friends and family, and Derry had loads of bones (?) to chew on.

    Thank you for your blog. Thank you for the gentle way you had introduced so much, on life and living. I truly enjoy your art, and adore everything you write of your Zen Master. For a long while, for various reasons, I had stopped reading. From your blog I was introduced to books I may never have picked up. I now find myself reading everywhere; on the bus, waiting for the train, in the cab, ... For this, most of all, I thank you.

  40. To Rebecca,

    Wow, Rebecca! I am simply overwhelmed by your kind and generous comments. I'm so happy that you have found some joy and inspiration in my blog. Most importantly, I am delighted that you have been encouraged to take up reading again and are now doing it with enthusiasm. Few things have sustained me like books through the years. In the best of times, they have enriched my life with knowledge and wisdom. In the worst of times, they have been lifted me up and pointed me in the right direction.

    I did, indeed, have a great Thanksgiving with my wife, a friend, and my Zen master, Derry. Among other things, I gave thanks for people like you who take the time to read what I post and comment upon it. Nothing is more satisfying than to connect on a basic level with another human being.

    Thank again, and may you be blessed in the coming holiday season.

  41. I am in awe of your ability to compose abstract images.

    The perfectly-framed mooring line and its reflected twin in your breathtaking second photo. The clean white line is a fantastic counterpoint against the wobbly reds in the pool of blue, and then it is all superbly anchored by the taupe post. What an eye you have!

    My other favorites are the blue stern and the lower right image in the collage. Both fantastic!

    Thank you for these images and also for the inspirational words of Joseph Campbell (he's one of my favorites) and Anne Sexton.

  42. Forgot to say, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. We just returned from our family holiday in Houston.

  43. To Dutchbaby,

    Thanks, as always, for your lovely comments, Dutchbaby. I'm delighted that you like the abstract photos; they are a thrill to work with as a photographer because everything depends upon composition, values, hues, texture, lines, etc. You have a good eye as well; I would be interested in seeing what you would come up with in terms of abstract images.

    My Thanksgiving was lovely and I hope yours was as well. Have a wonderful week ahead, and thanks again for the kind comments.

  44. Truly stunning photography - chipped paint on an old house or barn is a favorite of mine -especially a Victorian house with all the detail. I too love Macros but I am hoping for a better camera soon. Also reflections in water. I will go back and read the poetry, the art was just so exciting! I have to go and listen to Prince Charles first, though. Actually, I was just about to listen an hour ago when my 3 year old son started yelling "It's snowing!" In NC that is a miracle. Took a "walk" but paused so long at the lake and other places, I'm not sure it qualifies as such. Hoping to have some stunning photos to post later.

  45. To Margaret,

    Thanks for the kind comments, Margaret. I do hope you will find the Harmony movie to be inspiring, as I did. During the meantime, take advantage of your snow while it lasts. In my part of the country, Maryland, it lasted all too long last year.