My Nineteen Days post – Baha’i Fast, Day 8

I had a hard time taking my photos for Nineteen Days today. I struggled to find a Dawn subject, and I was at a training for the volunteers for the Centenary events at the House of Worship at sunset. But I managed to figure it out.

As I went outside to take the photo at dusk, the resident hawk of the House of Worship flew overhead into the sunset. Unfortunately I was too slow to capture it, but it was a perfect way to end the day.

Go on over to Nineteen Days and check out the rest of the photos. I am so glad I got to participate this year.

Nineteen Days

Have you checked out the first four days of photos and quotations over at Nineteen Days? You really should. The stories being told are beautiful, and it is a way to enjoy the Baha’i Fast with people from all over the world. I’ll be participating in a few days, and I’m really looking forward to it!

It also has a special place in my heart, because this project, which was started by dear Amy and Leila, helped inspire Nineteen Months. And Nineteen Days always uplifts my heart and makes me smile during the Fast.

the hill

As we climbed the hill, golden leaves floated down and our footsteps scratched against the forest floor. Out of breath, we rested on a bench amongst the trees, and, looking up, saw two bald eagles circling around each other. There is no mistaking that silhouette, those forms. We stared out at the colors as the river flowed. The sun touched us with warm hands, made everything more perfect. This is what life feels like.

hilltop trees

autumn

This might be the last really warm weekend before autumn truly takes over. I have been reveling in these days of sunshine, crunching leaves as the colors change, walking under trees half-changed into their fall wardrobe…

Fall 3

I want to take pictures, fill my camera with a million moments with you, and write stories to go with it. I am afraid of losing the stories. The click of my keyboard replaced the scratching of the pen on paper, glow of my screen instead of candlelight.

I am turning my phone off this weekend. Need to escape from everything, take some real time to make my thoughts stop jumping around so much. Sometimes I forget how much poetry I found in the moments between, in the silence before the bombardment. I have forgotten how to write, how to be ok in stillness.

Find the bee!

The month of Halloween

As much as I don’t like the weather getting colder, I must admit that I love October. Mainly because it contains all things Halloween. I love having an excuse to dress up. Some years I put my costume together at the last minute, but this year I decided to be ahead of the game. My living room is currently covered in scraps of muslin and batting:

Of course I won’t say what I’m making, the costume is a surprise, but it is going to be fun. I have just enough sewing skills to put together a pillow, hem pants, or alter an already existing dress. I was worried that I didn’t have a pattern, but then I realized I could project it up onto my tv screen and trace it onto the muslin. It was cheaper to buy 10 yards of batting (that giant roll in the photo), so now I have about 7 yards of the stuff. I’m going to have to take up quilting or something (riiight).

When I left work last night, the air smelled like leaves and rain. It was raining on one side of the building, but not on the other! And then there was a hailstorm as soon as I passed into Wilmette from Evanston, but luckily the hailstones were small. Oh, Chicago. You’re so strange. But the sunset was amazing! (Taken with a cameraphone, so this doesn’t adequately represent how beautiful it was.)

  

I bought a pumpkin last year for Halloween. Didn’t carve it, just put it in the corner of my dining room. I threw it out 6 months later, it looked as perfect as the day I bought it. I think it was possessed or something. Creepy pumpkin.

The other thing I can’t wait to do is take photos of the fall leaves. We’re still pretty green here, but southern Wisconsin has started changing and I hope to go there soon with my camera. Last year was lovely at Starved Rock, but it was raining so it was hard to get some of the shots I wanted. We’ll see how it goes this year!

Please excuse the randomness of my thought process in this post. I seem to have had too much coffee this morning and not balanced it with enough food. I shall remedy that problem now.

Surprise sunset

I was making spaghetti tonight and didn’t notice anything special outside through my kitchen windows. I left the kitchen for a bit to do some things in the living room, and when I went back to stir the sauce, I gasped out loud. This was the view from my window:

Sunset 1

I took a few quick shots, then went back to cooking. About 5 minutes later, I looked up again, and saw that the sky had turned more pink/purple.

Sunset 2

The view from my place at night is just stellar.

Lightroom

I finally bought a photo-editing program, Adobe Lightroom 3 (it was on sale). I’ve been using free programs for years now, but this is a lot more powerful, and also allows me to sort my photos and upload them easily.

This is kind of a big deal for me.

I’m the type of person that carries her DSLR camera in her purse on a regular basis. I’m more than happy to take a ton of photos and post them…I love it! But the strain of trying to find the few good shots out of hundreds, process them, and upload them was making photography no fun anymore. Since I try to shoot in RAW, I have process most of my photos.

Just in the last few days since I started using Lightroom, my workflow has changed, I am working quickly and efficiently, and I have more of the joy that I had when I first got my camera. Totally worth it.

Warmth

pink cherry blossoms
I can almost feel the soft summer
there is a murmur, a promise in our words
we can plan and scheme and the whole world sees
but mostly it is just between you and me.

One day we will be wrapped in blue skies,
once in a blue moon we’ll be stepping
through cherry blossom trees.

I almost forgot to write it all down
I almost told them all before I told you
every secret in my heart,
I almost fell asleep wrapped in black velvet dreams.

Our hearts are dipped in fine fiery lines
in steady beats amidst the echoes,
the simplest thing at the perfect time.

The month of Glory is up at Nineteen Months!

If you haven’t already checked out the awesome photos over at Nineteen Months for the Baha’i month of Glory, I highly recommend that you do so right now.

I’ll wait for you to do that before continuing.

Nineteen Month-Glory

There are also some great articles on the subject of “Community”, and we’ll keep updating those throughout the month.

I took the above photo in D.C., and have yet to upload the other photos that I took there. I’m working on it, there are a lot of other things going on right now. Keeping Nineteen Months going, family, friends, Holy Days, Baha’i National Convention coming up at work…not to mention all of the people and side projects I have to keep up with. It is great fun, but sometimes I just want to curl up on my couch and do absolutely nothing.

Contrary to popular belief, there are times in which I actually do rest and let my mind take a break. It isn’t often, but I try to make that effort. There is just no way to be productive if I’m constantly running on empty or am stressed out.

the number 19

There are some exciting developments in the worlds of Nineteen Months and Nineteen Days.

First of all, we have completed our first year of Nineteen Months! You can see the photos for the month of Loftiness here. We are looking forward to the next year of photos, and will be doing great things with the site. Announcements will be made in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

photo for the month of Loftiness (Ala)

Nineteen Days has announced its photographers for the 2011 Fast, and have dedicated this year’s project to the Baha’is who live in Iran.  I am sure that the photos will be amazing, as always. Check for daily updates from March 2-21.

Tomorrow is the last day of Ayyam-i-Ha. I spent the weekend with friends and family, ate way too much food, and worked on a service project with my junior youth group. They baked cookies and brownies for the fire and police departments of Wilmette as a thank you for the service they do for the community, then had the opportunity to tour the facilities.

finished cookies!

I watched the Oscars last night with a group of friends, which is much more fun than watching it alone. Even so, it was often painful. You wonder at the amount of money being spent, and how difficult it seems to be to find hosts in an entire city devoted to entertainment.

Starved Rock Photography Class

In October I went on a photography class to Starved Rock, which was given to me as a birthday gift by B. It was raining on and off during the morning, but it actually made the experience better because the colors were vibrant and I had fun traipsing around with my umbrella and learning how to take photos in the rain.

19 Months: Photo for the month of Power

I truly love macro shots, and one of the participants lent me his 50mm f/2.5 lens…so I was in heaven!

red leaves

We stayed in Kaskaskia Canyon, but because of the rain there were not many people there.

tube

In a 2 sq ft area, there were logs with 3 different kinds of fungus. I spent a good ten minutes there.

mushrooms

There is life growing right out of the canyon walls.

life on the rocks

For all you Chicago folks, you should definitely consider a trip down to Starved Rock.

The Blues

I am only writing in my head.
The words stop at my lips,
stop at the line that separates
my tongue from the air of the world
and I stop.
the blue bokeh

come on
come on now
We’re sleeping on our feet
trust me, there is more than this!
gold and blue
I am writing everyone I know a letter.
Real paper, the kind that can cut you
and soothe as you hold the pieces in your hands.

If only the words would come
the right words that make you understand
(this love)

Light and Power

the moon above
“This is the divinely-inscribed Book. This is the outspread Tablet. Say, this indeed is the Frequented Fane, the sweet-scented Leaf, the Tree of divine Revelation, the surging Ocean, the Utterance which lay concealed, the Light above every light…

Indeed every light is generated by God through the power of His behest. He of a truth is the Light in the kingdom of heaven and earth and whatever is between them. Through the radiance of His light God imparteth illumination to your hearts and maketh firm your steps, that perchance ye may yield praise unto Him.” -The Báb

at sunset, construction

One day a few weeks ago, there was a need for prayers. A long day, friends and family who needed love, everything about that day sent me to the House of Worship. When saying farewell, I turned to see this:
sunset construction

As I drove away, the sun was turning the sky into a perfect sunset.

sunset on Linden

“O ye who have turned your faces toward the Exalted Beauty! By night, by day, at morningtide and sunset, when darkness draweth on, and at early light I remember, and ever have remembered, in the realms of my mind and heart, the loved ones of the Lord. I beg of Him to bestow His confirmations upon those loved ones, dwellers in that pure and holy land, and to grant them successful outcomes in all things: that in their character, their behaviour, their words, their way of life, in all they are and do, He will make them to achieve distinction among men; that He will gather them into the world community, their hearts filled with ecstasy and fervour and yearning love, with knowledge and certitude, with steadfastness and unity, their faces beauteous and bright.” -Abdu’l-Baha

The dawn star is shining…

“The winds of the true springtide are passing over you; adorn yourselves with blossoms like trees in the scented garden. Spring clouds are streaming; then turn you fresh and verdant like the sweet eternal fields. The dawn star is shining, set your feet on the true path. The sea of might is swelling, hasten to the shores of high resolve and fortune. The pure water of life is welling up, why wear away your days in a desert of thirst? Aim high, choose noble ends; how long this lethargy, how long this negligence! Despair, both here and hereafter, is all you will gain from self-indulgence; abomination and misery are all you will harvest from fanaticism, from believing the foolish and the mindless. The confirmations of God are supporting you, the succor of God is at hand: why do you not cry out and exult with all your heart, and strive with all your soul!”

-Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization


Multi-media

Last night I went to the Delorean & Miike Snow show at the Metro.  It was fantastic.  I enjoyed myself immensely.  It was pouring rain when we parked and went in, my feet were aching at the end of the night, and a couple of guys started arguing in the middle of one of my favorite songs.  I asked them to stop, and they did. 🙂  These are the things that make a show, outside of the music itself, of course.  If you don’t know who these bands are…check them out.  Trust me.

In other news, Nineteen Months has been updated for the month of “Glory“.  I am SO impressed with the talent involved in this project.  Check it out, tell your friends!  You can also join our Facebook page or add us on Twitter.

The story behind my photo: I was approaching the deadline, on my lunch break, and worried that I had nothing to contribute.  After failing to capture anything that I liked by Lake Michigan or in the gardens of the Baha’i House of Worship, I went into the lower level of the House of Worship to say hi to friends.  One lovely lady and her daughters were there, and as their mother worked on some things, I had a change to talk to the girls and take photos.  Elsie, the littler one, insisted on seeing the photos after I took her picture.  She is really rather young, but already knows about cameras. 🙂  It made my day to see such lovely children, and I got my photo.

This coming weekend is the Religion Communication Congress, in which several Baha’is and publications will be receiving awards.  I have several friends attending, and I can’t WAIT to hear their stories.  I’ll also be reuniting with one of my dear friends that I served with in Haifa…she and I have some catching up to do!

Finally, I updated my blog layout.  The previous one was rather awkward and this one is much cleaner.  I also added a contact page.

The magical launch of Nineteen Months

Some of you may remember a little photoblog project I was a part of called “Nylon Parla“.  Well, things have evolved a bit.

Introducing: Nineteen Months.

We are a group of photographers from all over the world who are members of the Baha’i Faith.  The 19 months of the Baha’i calendar each have a name, and the photographs for each month are based on those names.  The first month of the Baha’i year is “Splendour”.

After participating in the nineteen days project for the second year in a row, I am extremely excited about the start of Nineteen Months, as they are sort of sister blogs.  It is an amazing way to practice photography, feel connected with people from all over, and share with everyone our love of the Baha’i Faith and photography in one go!

Please spread the word (blog, twitter, FB, smoke signal, etc).  We are Baha’is, but the photos are meant for everyone to enjoy.

Naw-Ruz

This is the Baha’i new year (167 B.E.).  I am feeling…settled, at peace.  I seek out peaceful things, spaces, and sometimes people these days.  Other times, I want to be surrounded by crowds.

The Naw-Ruz post for nineteen days is up: AMAZING photos.  I am sad that the project is over, but so glad I had the opportunity to participate.

I spent the day cooking yesterday in preparation for the Naw-Ruz celebration in Chicago.  I will make a blog post about that soon (with photos).  I had an amazing dinner at The Sitdown (they have a gluten-free menu!!) with some lovely ladies, then went over to the Smart museum for the Chicago Baha’i community’s celebration.  After the program of music and prayers, we wandered around the museum for a bit, then there was food and dancing.  I think I danced TOO much.  Exhausted today!

I attended the devotional (prayer) gathering at my friends’ house today, which was small and joyful event, and we laughed a lot.  A nice, low-key day.  I am looking forward to this next (Baha’i) year.

“Praised be Thou, O my God, that Thou hast ordained Naw-Rúz as a festival unto those who have observed the fast for love of Thee and abstained from all that is abhorrent unto Thee. Grant, O my Lord, that the fire of Thy love and the heat produced by the fast enjoined by Thee may inflame them in Thy Cause, and make them to be occupied with Thy praise and with remembrance of Thee.” -Baha’u’llah

Nineteen Days!!

My photos are up over at nineteen days, the photoblog about the Baha’i Fast.  Check it out, leave a comment (here or there), and definitely check out the photos from the 6 days of the Fast so far.  I’m stunned at how amazing the other contributors are.

I went to the Baha’i House of Worship at around 6 am this morning to take photos for the “sunrise” photo.  Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating and I was scrambling to find a decent shot.  I finally got some, but I was worried that none of them would work out!

The “sunset” photo was a bit easier, since the barista was a rather pleasant gentleman who suggested that I come behind the counter to avoid shooting through the glass.  Thanks, if you get a chance to read this!

As I did errands tonight, the towns around me slowly filled with fog.  It would have been perfect for some photography, but it was already too late and I had groceries in the car.  Another time, I hope.  I love fog, it makes everything a little scary and closed in.

The First Day of the Fast!

As I was reflecting on the Baha’i Fast, I remembered my time in Haifa, Israel.  I was lucky enough to participate in two years of the fast while serving there.  The photo below was taken from my flat one early morning during the fast in 2007 as the sun was rising over the mountains bordering Lebanon.

This year, like last year, I am participating in the Nineteen Days photoblog project.  There are 38 photographers this year, however!  I am SO excited.

A photo book was created from the submissions from last year, which you can order here.

Speaking of photos, the latest photoblog entry from the Baha’i photographers project, Nylon Parla, is up.  The theme this month was “Gifts”.  I’m looking forward to some fantastic changes to the project that are coming next month.

This is, O my God, the first of the days on which Thou hast bidden Thy loved ones to observe the Fast.  I ask of Thee by Thy Self and by him who hath fasted out of love for Thee and for Thy good-pleasure—and not out of self and desire, nor out of fear of Thy wrath—and by Thy most excellent names and august attributes, to purify Thy servants from the love of aught except Thee and to draw them nigh unto the Dawning-Place of the lights of Thy countenance and the Seat of the throne of Thy oneness.  Illumine their hearts, O my God, with the light of Thy knowledge and brighten their faces with the rays of the Daystar that shineth from the horizon of Thy Will.  Potent art Thou to do what pleaseth Thee.  No God is there but Thee, the All-Glorious, Whose help is implored by all men.

Assist them, O my God, to render Thee victorious and to exalt Thy Word.  Suffer them, then, to become as hands of Thy Cause amongst Thy servants, and make them to be revealers of Thy religion and Thy signs amongst mankind, in such wise that the whole world may be filled with Thy remembrance and praise and with Thy proofs and evidences.  Thou art, verily, the All-Bounteous, the Most Exalted, the Powerful, the Mighty, and the Merciful.

– Bahá’u’lláh

All about photos!

It seems like I spend a lot of time snapping photos, editing, and posting.  I try to post photos within a week of taking them, mostly because I feel like it is a waste to just keep them on my hard drive where no one can see them.

Nylon Parla has had two themes posted in the last few months: “Festive” for the Baha’i month of Honor, and “Cold” for the Baha’i month of Sovereignty.  I’m in awe of the talent of the photographers that I work with, and having a lot of fun in the process of being challenged to take photos according to the theme assignment.

I went to the Shedd Aquarium on Monday for the first time in many years.

Since it was a free day AND Martin Luther King Jr Day, there were a lot of kids. Kids in strollers, kids screaming & running around, kids pressed up against the glass, kids with cameras…you get the picture.

My friends looked at me funny when said I wanted to hug the giant fish.  I guess I find strange things cute.

The problem with the Aquarium is that you have to pay extra to see some of the cooler stuff, and we just didn’t have the time or patience to do it.  I have discovered that I much prefer the Art Institute and the Field Museum…more to see for the cost of a ticket.

Do any of you have a favorite museum?

The return of the photoblog! (and other things)

Nylon Parla is back, folks! That’s right.  We have a new crew, new photos, a new mission, and we post every 19 days (which is how long a Baha’i month is).

We take a photo on a particular subject (this month is “Texture“, for example), and the caption relates to the name of the Baha’i month.  This month is “Masá’il”, or “Questions”.

It is great to see how the contributors apply our assignments in different ways.  We’re from all over the world: New York – Amy, London – Ronnie, Paris – Thierry, Quito – Shahriar, Chicago – me, Kent – Ramez.  So go check it out!

Also, if you visit my site (all you RSS folk, come on over), you may have noticed I have changed the design a bit.  I got tired of the old one, it was buggy and impossible to manage.  I’m still ironing out some difficult spots, but so far so good.  Let me know if you run into any problems with navigation.

Speaking of design, check out DESIGN THE FAITH: Neysan Z started this site recently, and I always enjoy checking out the new stuff there. From the site: “this design showcase serves to inspire a new generation of creative minds in the baha’i community.”

EDIT: I forgot to blog about this! I can’t believe it. My dear friend Gigi interviewed me about social media for her blog/graduate studies, and you can read the interview here.

Trash the Dress

A few weeks ago, my friend Melissa Diep asked a few other ladies and myself to be models for a “Trash the Dress” photoshoot with about 20 photographers.  First we went to a location under the railroad tracks in downtown Chicago.  It is hard to tell in this picture, but I was clambering up onto concrete, walking barefoot on railroad tracks, and dragging the poor dress all over some very dirty ground.

(photo by Ny Brown)

After a few hours of shooting, it started to rain, so we drove up to Foster Beach to get some shots in and near Lake Michigan.  I was the first one in the water.

That’s right, I went into the lake.  With a wedding dress on. In September.

I had a great time, the other models and the photographers were really fun to work with.  I also learned a lot about photography, since the photographers were giving each other advice and directing the models.

September

For years I have railed against the end of summer, the beginning of autumn.  September was always a month of conflict for me: it is my birth month, but also when school would start up again, and when the weather in Illinois would start changing.

I am a little southern girl at heart, in some ways.  I love the heat, the sun, swimming, and warm summer nights.

Sometimes September will surprise you, though.  On a beautiful September day in Waukegan:

I went to my first White Sox baseball game last night, which was also my second professional sports game ever (the first was hockey).  I’m not a fan of baseball, but I discovered that I had fun even though I don’t know much about the sport, and they were playing the Minnesota Twins (I was born in MN).  It was a good way to close out the summer, and the weather was perfect.

Back to the subject at hand: I discovered that I am looking forward to the scarves, hats, boots, fall leaves, apple-picking, pumpkin flavored everything, the smell of autumn…

When did this happen?!

Happenings

I haven’t really been home for 6 weeks.  I stop here to sleep, do laundry, refill my suitcase, and off I go again!  Travels are over for the time being, life continues to be busy but I’m glad it is slowing down a bit.

Lots of friends have come through town recently, and of course there is the usual revolving door of people moving into Chicago and leaving, visiting and stopping through, with the attached greetings and farewells.

Lauren did some fire spinning for my birthday on the roof of our friends’ apartment building.  It was amazing.

The opportunities for using my camera have been endless.  Especially since I’ve made a habit of carrying my camera with me everywhere.  More photos on flickr…

I have been unable to write very much…no time or inspiration.  I felt the slow stirrings of the writing bug today, though, so maybe it is coming back.

oh, today

On sunset, there is a shadowed promise of the night
my favorite time
and I held my breath
we closed our eyes
there was everything surrounding in the stillness of the light.

Today is my birthday. It really feels more like a birthday week, what with the celebrating starting early with an evening at the Chicago Botanic Gardens, and concluding on Monday with more celebration. Everything is wonderful.