Hurts? So, Good….


A useful piece of information is finally sinking in to my cranium, and I do not like it one little bit.  “Brenna,”  I have begun to say to myself, “This is probably going to hurt a little.”  I said it to myself last night as I got ready to disassemble an old computer for the scrap heap, a task I have been avoiding since at least 2009.  I said it to myself this morning when I noticed how unpleasant it was going to be to fold the sheets up, once I got out of them, which transition I also was scheming to avoid as long as possible.*

The source of the pain is a gear in my noggin that spins frantically when I try mightily to do the right thing.  How many years – YEARS, people –  did I stare at that dust encrusted Dell, knowing I just needed to pry from its clutches a few precious images of my doggies, and some bookkeeping records in case of IRS?  Sunrise, sunset, and all the while I was simply avoiding a painful thought – “How the hell am I going to scrub the hard drive?”

Facing the painful fear of hard-drive destruction, and sitting through the tears of disappointment and regret that have plagued me this week are not really that different.  In some ways, the perfectionism is exactly the same.  I don’t want to feel failure.  I don’t want to feel disappointment.  But the truth is, some feelings I can handle, some feelings are overwhelming for me, and the only possible passage between those two states is a bridge of time and self-forgiveness.  Perversely, telling myself, “This is going to hurt,” lessens my worry about how much these feelings are going to hurt in the future.  It’s an honest perspective that focusses my attention in the here and now, and I need that immediate sanity more than I need hope.

And the punchline to the story?  Ding Dong, the Dell is Dead! Carried away by two tattooed hunks from a local charity which contracts with an eCycler (hard drive shredding included) for a percentage of the profits.  They came to my door.  They picked up the computer.  They did it for free.  How great is that?

Well, it did hurt a little.

*I do like loading the dishwasher.  I mean, if ever there was a perfectly painless task, an incentive that needed no sugar coating of any kind, it is the promise of warm, squeaky dishes that you did not have to wash yourself.  Pure, f**king heaven, if you ask me..


Rosey Thoughtfuls


While there is no denying that the general usefulness or necessity of today’s picture is debatable, its usefulness and necessity to me is not in question.  And while I know that digital imaging has somehow spoiled much of the beauty of the photographic process for many thoughtful and talented artists, I am so deeply, almost inexpressibly grateful for its becoming available to mere mortals like myself, because I know that there is no everlovin’ way I would be making pictures – this picture or any others – if film was still the only word.  So I thank you for your forgiveness, and send you some squidgey roses taking form from the nothing, the Great Nothing, which is always ready to Bloom.

Rosey Thoughtfuls


On my birthday this year, friend Amy and I went to our diner, where the upholstered backs of clam shell shaped booths re-cast us into the Birth of Venus, with the obvious advantage that we can still order Greek Salad from our regal surroundings  (no onions on Amy’s, please).  In honor of the day, we had a serious talk about my hopes for the upcoming year, and I told Amy that all that really mattered to me was to keep making pictures I loved for my blog.  “You know, Brenna, have you ever thought of showing your pictures at an art fair?  Because I love it – it feels so great to have people come by who want to look at art and talk about it.”

I think I set my fork down in mid bite.  At least,  I hope I did, because Amy’s comment had stopped my mind so thoroughly, I surely would have stabbed myself in the lip if I kept trying to aim lettuce at my mouth.   “Amy, you know, it never occurred to me to show at an art fair just for the fun of having people see my pictures.  I only ever think of it as a way to sell something, and you know, that’s just too depressing.”

“Brenna, its really fun.  You should do it!”  Amy said, and right then, she invited me to share her exhibition space at the Riverwest Art Association Walk in October.   Maybe it was the muted pink of our circa 1990 surroundings, but I swear a rosy glow began seeping into some awfully tenacious shadows, ignited that day by my friend’s heartfelt gift of encouragement.

So here we go, folks.  Little by little, I am getting ready with new images and old – picking sternly from among the self-indulgently crowded field of “darlings,” trying my hand at cutting mats and scrounging frames, facing the scariest dragon of all, ordering prints.  I surely will appreciate your feedback, if you notice one or two pictures you really like.  If this blog is evidence of anything, it is how often my judgement is impaired where my own work is concerned.

Wish me luck!  (I hope I don’t screw this up….)

Exactly Lilacs


It is better to be swamped by lilacs than by work, no doubt about that.  Still, at work you might feel you can do something;  with lilacs you are helpless.

I hope this picture shows the way the lilacs feel.  Its how I feel – might be in motion, might be out of focus (maybe that comes to the same thing in the end.)  Then, I maybe rest for a moment or my point of view catches up to where I am and something is clear.

But not for long.

Lilac Kingdom

magic kingdom

There is a lilac planted somewhere near the door (front or kitchen) of every – and I do mean every – farmhouse in Wisconsin.  This is because only lilacs are beautiful enough to shame that brazen blue sky into modesty, or to make up for what winter has done to the roof.   It was of the utmost urgency, I think, that the arborists at the University of Wisconsin tested so many varieties of lilac.   A woman needs some optimism to live out in the middle of that much snow, and I wouldn’t want to be the extension agent who recommended a lilac that couldn’t deliver the goods.

Lilac Point of View


Some days my life just seems so selfish.  Like, for instance, I get to stand around in the middle of the most lilacs than I have ever seen in one place, for as long as I want, or until the sun goes down.  It’s lonely, too, but there is no one to stop me.

I know they say after a while, you get accustomed to scents, but I don’t believe it.  Lilacs are the exception. Their fragrance is with me, still.

The Lilacs Delight


It feels every bit as ridiculous and wanton as you might imagine – lying on  ground, shifting my head against a drapery of creamy purple bells, raising the view finder to see if my crown of lilacs has appeared.  But the stakes are high.  Either I infuse my lungs and mind with essence of lilac when I can, or lose my chance.  So, I do what the lilacs tell me, and let them have their fragrant say.   I may look a little silly wearing a crown of lilacs, but maybe that was the lilac’s delight:  to bring me down to earth, tickle my scalp with petals, and  fill my eyes with magical, real life play.

Queen of the Lilacs


The purple cloud has passed, drifted away  like fog eased  back into water by the heat of sunlight.  I climbed into it, though, while it was here on earth.  And I was in heaven.

The Apple Bird


As I step from the jagged remnants of sidewalk into the unmowed grass, I feel the lurch of self-conciousness and guilt.  I am not supposed to be here.  This old orchard isn’t mine, and it isn’t public.  But it isn’t private, either.  Bees warn me away when I brush against the branches that lean toward the ground, tangling their blossoms and twigs in the fine, thin green threads of grass.  A few yards further along the row, where I expect to find quiet, bird song peppers the air like fireworks.  Yellow and black rockets shoot back and forth between the trees, gaining better perches, answering the immediate disturbance I bring.

I feel I have come here to steal something;  to take a precious thing which I am convinced the world will not surrender to me by any other means.  I know it shouldn’t be such a big deal to walk around, uninvited, in a neglected planting of apple trees.  The sheer pleasure of lying down against cold spring ground, and listening to the sky sing to you from behind green leaves is really enough of a reason.  But when you feel invisible, what more crime can you commit than to find a place where you can’t be seen, and take a picture there?

Under the Pinkness Branch


I realize not every picture I choose to share is necessarily an aesthetic triumph.  Ok.  They may not all even qualify as “picture.”

It is the experience in the image I hope you see.  Because I probably wish we had been here together, brushing past the bees on the apple blossoms, watching petals fall as we pull a pile of flowers close to our faces to catch their scent.  Curling under branches that, growing toward each other across the orchard, make a bridge too delicate and precious to risk disturbing.