One blog to rule them

At the risk of alienating what few patient followers I may still have, I am once again consolidating my vast and scattered blogging empire into one location, reclaiming an old forgotten about domain. Two Buddhas in Conversation is the name of an ancient bronze sculpture that I came across in some history book (wish I knew more about it), and thought it a fitting description of the two sides of the creative process – activity/inactivity, writing/not writing, reading/not reading, noise/silence, yes/no, emptiness/fullness, inhale/exhale, etc. You get it.

So anyway, for what it’s worth Two Buddhas will now become the consolidation of Captured Light (my photography blog), The Littles (a chronicle of an on-going photographic project), and any other places I’ve stashed various writings and creative endeavors in the far reaches of the interwebs and forgotten about. Further, I’m going to challenge myself to post at least one thing here every day – a random thought, a photograph, a link to something desperately important, a deep probing essay, a joke, a fortune cookie, whatever comes to mind, whatever I find on my desk or in front of my face – just something every day. I am eminently distractible so I don’t know how well this will go. Call it a fools errand destined to fail, call it what most blogs really are, a selfish indulgence, call it the inception of a brilliant contribution the the culture of our times – call it whatever you like. Check in every now and then, subscribe (!), leave comments (please), tell your friends.

As a side note, and this is fodder for a post in its own right, I’m taking a break from Facebook, where my eminently distractible self spends far too much time to no discernible benefit. I haven’t screwed up the courage to fully disengage yet, but I’m suspending my account and taking a break to see what happens, what it feels like. Energy that’s been going into scrolling that feed, feeding that feed, I’ll aim towards Two Buddhas and maybe even doing real actual things in my real actual meatspace life. Here’s the essay from Medium that brought me to this decision.

As Tom Waits said at the close of his live Nighthawks At The Diner album, “I want to thank you all for coming this evening. It would have been strange if nobody showed up.”


Anyone still here?

If you’re still here, and wondering what ever became of me, I’ve moved over entirely to Captured Light. Take a look, drop a comment, subscribe if you dare. I’ll leave the porch light on for you.

Toward change

I see the image of Jeff Flake being accosted in the elevator and it makes me think of the tsunami that’s coming. A tsunami where the tide goes out so far everybody’s like, “hey, what happened to the water?” And the tide comes rushing back in, sweeping everything away. There is a broad and deep and profound change coming to our orientation in the world. I see and hear all of those angry old white men sitting at the dais in the front of the room, I see them being swept away. Anger comes from a place of fear, and those old men are terrified at the prospect of the clubhouse being torn down. Torn down by the vast disenfranchised who are rising up to reclaim their voice, their power, and their place at the table. I know those disenfranchised – women, people of color, young people, and especially young women of color – don’t need my validation, and likely I’m one of the old white men will be swept away, but I’m very excited at the prospect of the changes that are coming. There is an enormous power shift on the horizon that will completely rearrange the landscape. I see governments and societies being disorganized and falling into at least a modicum of chaos, only to be reorganized and restructured by those very disenfranchised populations who have been shoved aside. It’s messy and it’s going to take a while, but it is in motion and undeniable. And my generation needs to be prepared to step aside to make way for my kid’s generation – who will also need to step aside – and the generations after. I wish I could stay around to see what grows out of the rubble.



Somewhere in Boston

Right after photo school, I worked for a time as a commercial photographer for a company in transition between analog and digital. We produced slides for corporate presentations, a precursor to Powerpoint, on hulking computers the size of washing machines, output to slide film. The original part of the company, neglected and slowly dying, did conventional analog photography with an amazing ancient wooden 16×20 camera with shutterless lenses, mounted on huge rails, and more conventional studio shots. We had one client who built syntervac (sp?) furnaces, which I never knew what they were. Large custom on-off items which I photographed on the factory floor. I used a lovely old wooden Deardorf 8×10 camera, painting the fill-in light with a lightbulb mounted in a sort of a cake pan. Primitive, and I had no idea what I was doing, lucky that I managed to get useable exposures. I had plenty of free time to play in the basement studio with cameras and lights. I made liberal use of all the “free” slide film and processing, and spent many a lunch “hour” wandering The Fenway shooting slides (see above). When I left after two years, I managed to abscond with a WW2-era Linhof field camera and a few lenses (which I foolishly sold). So ended my one brief foray into professional photography.

I’m on the Instagram!: @harvinstephis


474, Montreux

From the boardwalk along Lake Geneva in Montreux.

I don’t seem to take the standard tourist photos when I travel. Then I get home and wish I had. The boardwalk was a crazy open-air market, all kinds of people and vendors. It was a treat to come from my tiny world of small-town America into an international throng in Switzerland. I didn’t do a very good job of managing street photography from a wheelchair. Next time.

Look for me on Instagram: @harvinstephis

Gravity always wins

I fell down the other day. Not so much fell as slid (gracefully, of course) from the bed to the floor, muttering through gritted teeth, “no, no, no,” all the way down. Once there, I ran through the I’ve Fallen Checklist: am I bleeding, (if yes, how much), what parts of me can I move, and is there anything right around me that I might use to get myself up off the floor. Assuming that I’m not injured, and can’t get myself up, the next question is where is my phone – my I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up alarm. I don’t go ANYWHERE without it. I called Alison who was downstairs, and told her that I needed some help. I had muscled myself up on to my knees (luckily I didn’t herniate myself), but that was as far as I could go. And naturally, my spastic leg (Dragon Dictate wants to say, “spaz stick.”) chose this moment to freak out. We gave it a good shot, Alison and I, but we were unable to shift the Great White Whale. The 0h-0h Squad was called.

Within minutes, the Fire Chief and three strapping young men were gathered around me in my bedroom. Luckily for all of us, I had pants on. After a brief conference, they lifted me bodily off the floor onto the bed like a big baby. I heard the chief mention as they went down the hall that the last time they had rescued me Alison had made some cookies for them. She assured them that she’d carry on that tradition. Gotta keep the Oh-Oh Squad happy.

Aside from the humiliation of the predicament, I was left with a lingering sense of helplessness, that, if left unchecked, would spread in all directions, like an inflamed nervous system. A fall like that, brought on simply by the force of gravity overpowering my inability to resist it, can happen anytime. And as undramatic as the actual fall was, finding myself on the floor unable to roll over was, if not dramatic, at least sobering. I’ve been sobered like that before, and I vowed then as I did this time to be more vigilant of exactly where I am in space and where the tipping point is. Vigilance and the admonition to Be Careful are good things to keep in mind, but they only go so far. And in the end, gravity always wins. I need to put that on a T-shirt.