Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holidays, holy days and everyday days...



“For everything that lives is holy, life delights in life”

- William Blake

For those of us in poverty, Christmas is not an easy time. Expectations and pressures to produce gifts can and do depress many.

This season has many faces. One of those faces was found dead on the street here in Eugene last December: Major Egan... why'd you do it? There are around 250,000 homeless veterans in the U.S. Many suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Deaths like that of Egan's touch me, they infuriate me and they help to feed my skepticism that humanity is salvageable as a specie.

On the other hand there are those who do act humanely, who give and share and make these winter holidays special. There are those who go about their lives and share Christmas with friends and family, give gifts to the kids and make the holidays special for those around them.

Whatever your perception and level of participation during this season's activities, remember that every day around our solitary blue water planet 10s of thousands of our fellow humans - our family of man - starve to death. We neglect those with the least and too often celebrate those whose riches are beyond boorish. We need a serious reprioritization of where our efforts and resources are aimed. We need to care and this time of year especially is the season to show that care. If you can, give. If you are needy, accept help. If you are just folk, celebrate and love your family and friends. Enjoy life. But always keep those with lives of tragedy in mind and maybe this year... leave an open seat and setting at your Christmas table as a reminder that there are far too many Major Egans falling asleep on our streets and back alleys, cold and often drunk, never waking again.


My daughter Robin's choirs have been performing a lot this fall/winter. It's enjoyable doing my photographic thing for them. I know the choir director, Mike McCornack, appreciates it. One of my pleasures is watching the interactions between the teachers and the kids. Truly the best teachers love their students and in turn are loved in return. Teachers are a big part of our children's lives and should be a positive influence on them. Which is what I see watching Mike and Willamette HS' band director Bart Ellis direct their students. The kids smile, they enjoy (although you know what? there are young curmudgeons! I was shocked...) producing their music and they become better people for the doing. They work hard and it shows.

These images are from their performance last week of the WHS Winter Festival, a combined effort of the schools bands and choirs.

(this image is all bands, all choirs - and a few alumni who came on stage and joined the group for a great and wonderful performance of Handel's The Hallelujah Chorus, directed by Bart Ellis)


Many years ago when I lived in California near the coast I used to spend a lot of time at the Guadalupe Dunes and Perfix Beach (I've blogged about that special place here. Why I mention it now is because during one of my camping trips to the Dunes and Perfix Beach (full moon, great weather) as I was walking at night along the beach I wanted some music other than (or to go with) the rythmic roar of the ocean's waves. At certain times of year the Bull Kelp "whips" that wash up on the beach dry out with the air bladder drying round and gourd-like. There are plenty of driftwood sticks and lots of small pebbles - the basic ingredients for a handmade rattle.

So that night, under the full moon and alone on a beach miles from anyone I created music with only the natural items in my local environment. Later on, after the trip, I was telling Grampa Semu about the rattle making experience. He told me the kelp rattles are indeed old style, once used by California's coastal tribes.

Under the coaxing of a dear friend I am going to begin making rattles again. I really am an artist. It's what floats my boat... I'd rather be creating than almost any other activity. So, I will be offering for sale these handmade rattles, roughly a foot long or so, made with supplies gathered on the coast in Central California, each one a distinct creation, unlike any other. The handles are leather wrapped and small shells are used as decoration. These are true Chumash style creations, based on my experience that full moon eve so many years ago.

They will be priced in the $50 - $75 range. If you want one made for you, contact me at Here is one made for my friend Patricia way back in the '80s:


While I'm dealing with art and being creative and offering you my artwork I want to show what the photo products from RedBubble (where some of my galleries are) look like. The galleries are here: welcome to the world I see...

I've set the prices so I have a decent margin. If you want tomething different than what is offered there, contact me and let's figure out how to meet your wants. I was real pleased with my RedBubble calendar and so were those I heard from who had purchased one. The prices for these prints framed is about $110. Print size is approximately 8" x 12".

Cards can be made from any of the photos in the galleries and run about $5

And of course I do portraiture:

And just because there is already so much photography on here today... why not a few more. Enjoy (and thanks for stopping by)!


And this year... remember that extra setting at your Christmas dinner table. For the Major Egans among us. They may go unseen, but they are here.


“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

- Elie Wiesel




Best post yet!

Allan Erickson said...

Hi Robert. Thanks buddy... you like the idea of an empty seat at the Xmas table?


Sounds like a "Passover" to me!