I was just at a Starbuck's buying an Egg Nog Latte, when a homeless woman came in and asked the clerk, "Do you have anything for just a dollar?"
I'm not struggling like her obviously, but as my father used to say, "It's not what you make but what you spend." And having my own business, Fezziwig Press, costs money and my little company isn't making enough money right now.
So I'm doing an Amanda Fucking Palmer thing. If I don't ask, you don't know to give.
Fezziwig Press and I have been struggling financially for the last year or so. Namely, I'm not quite breaking even, still a few hundred dollars in the red each month, even with my part time counseling gig and all. I'm making some sales with image rights, book sales, music sales, etc, but not like I did five to ten years ago. So I'm putting out the artistic begging bowl. And I'm giving shit away.
The Transpersonal Papers (1861-2010) was released in 2011. Cost a boat load to produce but I only sold seven ebook copies. (Thank you to the seven, by the way.) So I'm offering it today, to you all, for free.
If you like The Transpersonal Papers, or the StuBlog, or my work, I ask that you give a little money to my Paypal account. My log-in is my email address, stujenks at gmail dot com, spelled like you normally would type it. Donate to my Paypal, or buy some books, or send money to P.O.Box 161, Tucson, AZ 85702. Whatever you like. No expectations, but if I don't ask, you don't know. And of course, if you don't give, that's perfectly all right too. We're all tight these days, don't I know. Or you just might not like my stuff that much. It's all good, as the kids say. Except for my ever-shrinking savings account.
I hope you enjoy the photographs and the stories in this book. Perhaps someday I'll have enough money to print it as a large coffee table book, like it was originally envisioned. Perhaps not, but you can have it right now for free. Enjoy.
"May your life be as cloudless as a summer day. Your friend, Maud Wright. January 24th, 1884."
I inherited the Saum family Bible after my sister and mother died 18 months ago. I haven't given it much thought, but in the writing of my new novel, Step Zero 2.0, I have good and bad Christians and I need a good King James Bible for research. So off to the musty storage locker I went.
What I found was an beautiful ancient book with the deaths, births and marriages of my mother's side of the family, from the 1860's to a couple decades ago. I had no idea those records were still in the book. I thought those pages had been missing for years. Instead, they were nestled between the Old and New Testament. I filled in the death dates that have occurred in the last few years that I knew: an uncle, an aunt, a father, a mother, a sister. Some questions were answered about my ancestors yet more questions arose, like the twins by Aunt Nan who died in 1941 after having lived only one day. No one's ever talked about those baby's deaths.
The Bible seemed to have been purchased by the great great grand parents after the birth of their second child in 1884. Thumbing through this huge tome I found the above note. I have no idea who Maud Wright was, but my best guess is she was a good friend of the Saums.
"May your life be as cloudless as a summer day," she wrote to her friends. I'm struck not only by the beautiful handwriting but mostly the lovely sentiment.
So did Earl and Nannie Saum have a cloudless life? Doubtful, even though they were wealthy landownders in Northern Virginia. They had sicknesses and successes, failures and weaknesses, births and deaths, most of the fine details lost in Time.
But the kind thought of a friend wishing them calm and peace lives on, in my hands, in my family bible, 129 years later, almost to the day.
I can only hope that a century from now, someone finds a handwritten note from me, wishing a friend love and light. I best get started.
"The Blessing Hoops, Coalmine Canyon, Navajo/Hopi Joint Use Area, Arizona" (c) 2012 Stu Jenks
3G has hit the Rez. I was actually texting and talking on the phone, at times, while shooting on Wednesday night. You might think that might be distracting but it was nice and then became deeply meaningful.
At one point, one of the friends I was texting, asked if I would ask the Spirit of Coalmine Canyon to bless her children. How touching. Of course, I texted back. (I won't say who she was, but it's not who my closest friends might think. Another mother.)
So I prayed to the Canyon, asking for Blessings and Love for her and for her children. And then I prayed for other children, and for other friends, and for people I don't call friend, and for people who are stangers to me. Blessings. Love. Blessings. Love. I cried. It was very nice.
After prayers, I danced with my Christmas hoop lights along a tall fin of white mud rock. This is the image that came from that dance and from those prayers.
"Hoop Dancing With Ghosts, Coalmine Canyon, Navajo/Hopi Joint Use Area, Arizona" (c) 2012 Stu Jenks
Here's what you are supposed to do, though nothing bad will happen to you if you don't. Thousands now haven't done this one thing and I'm assuming they are still alive. It's perhaps just a superstition. Or maybe not.
A good friend was studying with a Navajo medicine man years ago. His teacher told my friend that before you enter Coalmine Canyon you should always ask permission of the Spirits. My friend then told me. Over the last 25 years of coming here, I have asked. Sometime it says no. Most times it say yes. Night before last, I forgot to ask all together until after I had entered.
"Oh," I said to the Canyon, in the fading twilight, "Sorry. I forgot. Can I come in?
"Sure," said the Canyon, "but do not spend the night. Leave before 10 p.m."
"No kidding," I said. "Leave before 10?"
And the Canyon said nothing else.
I shot for four hours and was back on pavement by 10 p.m.
On full moon nights, Navajo and Hopi holy men alike say that ghosts dance on the walls of the Canyon. I believe they did Wednesday night.
(Geek note: I've had this happen before, shooting at night with black and white film, but never with a color digital negative.The above image is a perfect exposure, at least for my tastes. The length of time, the saturation of the color, the whites and blacks, lights and darks and midtones, and other colors are just, well, perfect. I fiddled with the image for about 15 minutes in CS5, but always came back to the original digital negative. So what you see here is precisely what is on the neg. All I did was cropped the neg a hair, rotate the image 2 degrees to the right and put a black line around the whole thing. Now, don't get me wrong. I did this hoop dance about 7 times to get the Christmas light circles right, but that was for the structure of the five hoops. I just educated-guessed on the density, on the exposure time, and lo and behold, I got it just right on the best dance of the night. It's never happened before with a digital negative. I consider that a very good sign, from a very good night of hoop dancing with ghosts at Coalmine Canyon.)
The reception is December 1st, 2012 at ArtsEye/Photographic Works, from 6 to 9 p.m. (The address is below in the digital flyer.) I'll be signing books at the reception as well. Books and prints, framed and unframed, will be for sale for the duration of the show. I'm looking forward to seeing all who can come. This is a very important show for me and for Stephen. I'm very excited, as I'm sure is Stephen. The show will be up until Valentine's Day, 2013. Love, light and luck, Stu.