Provisional Territory

via Daily Prompt: Territory

We laugh in unison as the door to the Bunk Room swings open, revealing the roughly 8 x 10 foot room that is to be our quarters for the night. bunk roomFour travelers – two couples – eight eyes scanning the two sets of bunk beds on either side of the room, delineating  the walk-in-closet-sized space that remains between them.

I enter last but glide to the bunks on the left, skirting my partner to toss my black bomber jacket onto the top bed, provisionally claiming that territory as my own. I also secure a spot for my backpack under the only other furniture in the room, a low bench made of a bisected tree trunk with smaller branches for legs. Not much territory, but it is mine. The others also mark their spots, with a sweatshirt here, a backpack there. We left our suitcases in the car just to check in, but now understand the prescient wisdom of that choice. We will get by with bringing in just PJs and a change of socks.

There is no real tension as we collectively agree, implicitly, on our separate territories. We have shared small spaces this whole trip, having driven the hundreds of miles from Anchorage to Whittier and Seward and back, then North to Talkeetna in our tiny rental hatchback. Our Bunk Room at the Talkeetna Roadhouse is just a continuation of that intimacy of space. We smile at one another as our mutual division of the territory proceeds.

talkeetna roadhouseLater, the others walk to the Talkeetna River, but I opt for a draft beer at the Wildflower Café across the street. As that elixir reaches my lips in the graying light of evening I realize my good fortune. Life is good.

When my companions rejoin me, we remark on the odd juxtaposition of our tiny quarters in the vast expanse that is Alaska.

I sleep soundly, hugging my special anti-snore pillow to my chest, comforted by the soft rustlings of friends, and surrounded by hundreds of pictures and postcards from other travelers who have called this bunk room home for a night or two.

In the morning we have coffee and fresh baked pie before setting out to witness the wonders of Denali, hoping to see a bear or caribou or at least the wide open enormity of that wilderness.

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017

Varieties of Dense

via Photo Challenge: Dense

Responding to the Weekly Photo Challenge, “Dense” with Different Senses of Dense

Sunflowers at Georgeson Botanical Garden, Fairbanks, AK                                                                       iphone6 457

Crowds awaiting a parade in New Orleans, LA

iphone se 3-22-17 047

A density of lights in Guatemala City, Guatemala

iphone 2-11-17 392

Nightmare traffic all day long in Guatemala City, Guatemala

iphone 2-11-17 360

Copyright ©  Thomas Ward 2017

A Past-due Purple Post

via Daily Prompt: Purple

Violets (I think) in my backyard after a morning shower…

A continuation of an earlier post. Still exploring the limits of my iPhone using the camera+ app for macro lens simulation with no special attachment. Focusing precisely still a challenge with the smallish SE screen, but not bad for just a phone, I think.

Since it is a writing prompt

Roses are red. These Violets aren’t blue. Here they are anyway, first one, then two 😉

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Better in pairs…

dual violets 009

Copyright ©  Thomas Ward 2017




How Do You Want Your Eggs?

via Daily Prompt: Symbiosis

“…this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, ‘Doc, my brother’s crazy; he thinks he’s a chicken.’ And the doctor says, ‘Well, why don’t you turn him in?’ The guy says “I would, but I need the eggs.”

Alvy “Max” Singer (Woody Allen), in Annie Hall

“I’ll have the All-American Slam,” I said, not yet looking up, distracted by some newspaper headline I’ve long since forgotten. “How do you want your eggs?” she asked, the lilt of her voice compelling me to meet her eyes — sea green pools, inviting, the kind that should come with a warning sign “Dangerous Currents. Swim at your risk.” In the fraction of a second that followed I dreamed a complete future of intense love making and long lazy afternoons working crossword puzzles together. “Over,” pause, “easy” I managed, eyes locked to hers, searching for a sign, for anything beyond a simple breakfast-ordering exchange. Her smile that followed gave it, along with the rope pulling me into those seductive pools.

The next morning I woke before she did, and made us breakfast, scrambled eggs and toast. As I brought the plate to the bedroom, her eyes, just opening in the faint morning light were calm, the storm of last night’s love-making a comfortable memory. “This is how I want my eggs,” I whispered, “In bed, next to you. Always” The eggs were forgotten, cooling as the storm rose yet again.

In the days that followed, we rarely left my apartment, venturing out only to forage for provisions to sustain us. But as raging fires sometimes do, it burned itself out, and we realized in the embers that a sustaining emotional bond was not going to grow to replace the waning physical need. We parted friends but have lost contact over the years.

Alvy Singer goes on to explain that the egg joke captures how he feels about relationships, “They’re totally irrational…but, I guess we keep going through it because, most of us need the eggs.”

Realism? Cynicism? Symbiosis.

I guess we do need the eggs, but different kinds at different phases of life.

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017

Meaning and the Value of a Noun

via Daily Prompt: Meaningless

Between the exuberance of seeking meaning in all things and the despair of finding it in none, I try to find the meaning of meaningless. It’s hard to think about on its own. As an adjective, it wants something. I need a noun to tie it down.

Meaningless existence is too grim to contemplate and meaningless job is close behind. So I use my random noun generator (seriously) to find a fit. Several nouns pop up but don’t really move me. Habit is the first one to catch my attention. We all have meaningless habits, so ingrained we are unaware, else we’d change them. Next is umbrella. Meaningless umbrella makes me laugh. Images of water dripping from me, forming puddles on my covered porch, totally drenched after the downpour, then going inside to the rack where I conveniently left my umbrella earlier today. Then meaningless twin, wondering if I had a twin, which of us would be the meaningless one.

I find the meaning of meaningless in how it binds with different nouns. Some others I found intriguing I’ll leave to your own interpretation. Perhaps they contain stories as yet unwritten for someone to exploit: meaningless hat, meaningless consent, meaningless fertility, meaningless majesty, meaningless mortality, meaningless anniversary. If this post sparks imagination it will have meaning. If not…then it is a meaningless post.

Well, at least the background is green.

via Photo Challenge: It IS Easy Being Green!

Having fun with my iPhone SE. The camera+ app lets you do fun things including Macro.

The clover featured above is one example. Here’s another:


Just for grins, here’s the same flower in normal mode:


Still working on focus and image crispness, but making progress:


Here’s a great site for more tips about using your iPhone creatively.

Here’s a great book, Art with an iPhone, by Kat Sloma that can help you get the most out of your phone.

And here are just some general thoughts about Photography as Creative Expression.

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017

Cold Tea

via Daily Prompt: Immerse

I hit the send button and my manuscript is off to the editor. I glance to the lower right of the screen. 3:17 AM. Hmm. Finished. I hope he likes it. Oh well. I’m done for now.

Reflexively I tilt my head to the side, twisting the back of it forward and down at an angle toward my shoulder, hearing — no feeling — the subtle crunch of vertebrae — like cracking knuckles, but much more satisfying.

Only now, in this quiet moment, the clicking of the keys a faint memory…the deep abysmal silence of my own mind. The pressure in my temples. Could I not have felt that pressure before? An odd inward force, like my entire head has just now given up its role as a distraction sentry — keeping my eyes on the screen, my fingers on the keys, keeping all else at bay. I am still trapped inside my own mind. Conversation an impossibility as my head still clenches to not let go of its singular duty to maintain focus

Panic — no, milder — unreasoned concern — did I include that last reference, did I check the headings or just the text? Like having driven on a long roadtrip, arriving at my destination with only faint glimpses of memory of how I got there. Not going to check.

It’s good enough, for now. I’ll check in the morning. Right now I’m tired — and something else — my hands are freezing, I’m shivering almost uncontrollably. It feels sudden, but must have been building. How could I not have noticed? Tea — that’s it — I need tea — soothing warmth.

I stand and my knees complain, “how could you have kept us bent like that the whole time?” Sorry. Dropping the chamomile bag into the cup, draping the thin thread over the side, filling it with water from the filtered refrigerator spout. Walking, still stiff,to the microwave. I press the button, opening the door — and laugh. Another cup, oversteeped, cold, like me. No idea how it got there, but I must have gotten up sometime earlier in the writing siege. Don’t remember. I guess I was immersed.

Copyright  © Thomas Ward 2017

Walking Meetings? Proceed with Caution

If you work in an office of any size, you’ve heard about “walking meetings,” and probably even participated in one. Instead of cramming into a small boring room, with everyone sitting around a table, you can take a walk together in the beautiful outdoors, with plenty of room to let your bodies and minds roam freely. And there are good reasons to meet that way, not the least of which is your health. The devastating health consequences of our sedentary lifestyles, filled with hours of sitting, have been widely publicized. There are also excellent research studies that show that walking boosts creativity, so walking meetings are likely to benefit group performance if the meeting goal is to come up with creative ideas. BUT, there are also findings from those same studies that show decreased performance on other types of tasks, and those Continue reading Walking Meetings? Proceed with Caution

Photography as Self Expression

Photography as Self-Expression

One really great way to express your creativity is with photography. It can open your eyes to a whole new way of seeing the world. You don’t need the fine motor control required for drawing or painting, though cultivating an eye toward composition would be good. And you probably already take lots of pics of children and grandchildren, or your beloved pets. You already have a jumpstart on a fulfilling way to capture visual insights.

Don’t know how to get started? To take it from representing things literally to creating your own vision? Visit the Books link in the menu bar for a range of books to get you going. But you can also start by just starting. And you really don’t need fancy equipment. If you have a smartphone, it probably takes pretty good pictures. iPhones and Androids have lots of useful built in features, but you can do much more with them than you may realize by installing an app or two. The photo below is with an app, camera+, that let’s you treat your phone as though it had a macro lens. If you want some inspiration about what more you can do with them, really nice guide is available through this link to the iPhone Photography School.


So get started. Go out. Or stay in and look around your house. But wherever you are, look at the things you take for granted in a new way. Look at the trees, the buildings, the cars, the sofas, chairs and refrigerators — everything — from new angles, at different times of day, from close up to see textures you normally don’t notice, etc. etc. etc. Click, click, click.  The more you take, the more new insights you discover about a world that was already there but you overlooked.

It also might help to have a supportive community of others to stimulate you. A great one is the Google+ Weekly Photo Project community. You can try out a different photographic challenge each week, with no pressure and lots of encouragement. The photo at the top of this post is from my iPhone that I posted to that site. My friend was near a mural and I snapped quickly to catch her looking like she was actually in the street scene. The result was a fun new way to look at things.

When you’re ready to move on to richer images, then you can think about one of the dozens of wonderful digital cameras from the most basic point and shoot variety to elaborate digital single lens reflex (DSLR) marvels.

But most of all, have fun. This is for you, not for anyone else.

Copyright  ©   Thomas Ward 2017