March 26, 2015

Through the glass

Through the glass

“How do you get people to pose naked for you?” That’s the first thing people ask when they find out about my naked photo project. I admit, that when I’m at a conference, surrounded by academics who don’t know me at all, it sometimes takes a little work to find a volunteer. But when I’m spending a weekend with my Wild Women friends, it’s a different story. My friends are most cooperative.

Last weekend, for instance. We’d just carried in pots of soup and bags of food, and we were exploring the lodge where we’d be staying, when Quilt Artist said to me, “Did you see the stonework in the big shower?” She made me go up the stairs and step inside the shower to admire it. That’s when it occurred to me that I could take advantage of an artist’s love of texture.

“This stonework would look great in a photograph,” I said to her. “You could pose naked in here.” I find it’s best to get to the point quickly.

“Heck, we could ALL post naked in here,” said Denim Woman, who had come up with us. She was right. The shower, which had a glass wall, was huge. All ten of us could have taken a shower together.

“That would be the environmentally responsible thing to do,” I pointed out. But I know better than to try for a group shot of naked women. It’s too much work. As soon as they get their clothes off, they start joking around and getting into ridiculous poses, with no regard for the poor photographer who is trying to take a SERIOUS photo.

So instead, I waited the next morning until Quilt Artist was about to take a shower — and I invited myself along. “I’ll spray some water on the glass door,” she said. “I think that would look cool.”

Later, when we all sitting downstairs with bowls of soup, we’d have serious conversations about our changing relationships with our bodies as we learn how better to take of ourselves. But our conversation during the shower wasn’t serious at all. I kept shouting things like, “Spray some more water on the glass” while she shouted back, “I’m trying to wash my hair” and I just kept snapping photos while she scrubbed herself clean.

Read more about the history of the naked blogging project and check out the gallery of photos.

March 23, 2015

Afternoon walk in the snowy mountains

Mountain road

Most walking trails in the mountains were buried in deep snow, so Saturday afternoon, my friends and I took a walk along the road, which wound through tall stands of pine. Whenever we caught a glimpse of the lake, we'd try to find a path down to the edge, walking around boarded-up summer camps and onto docks that stood high above the ice.

Quilt Artist and I wandered into one little hamlet where summer camps huddled along some open water. The only prints I saw in the snow were from deer and raccoon. The docks were mostly empty, piled with snow that held melted into strange shapes. A bright blue slide stood at the edge of one dock, waiting for summertime and the shrill screams of excited children.


March 21, 2015

In the mountains, where it is still snowing

Mountain lake on the first day of spring

No matter what the calendar says, it’s still winter in the mountains. When I woke up this morning in the beautiful camp that belongs to a friend's sister, I could see snow falling on the frozen lake outside my window. I dressed quickly for an early morning walk.

I should have worn snowshoes. The icy crust along the top of the drifts of snow was beginning to melt. I walked along for a couple of yards and then sunk in until the snow was thigh-high. I struggled out, got to the top of the snow again, and made it a couple more yards before sinking in again. It took me awhile to make it to the shore of the lake, where I stopped to rest and take photos of the blue-and-white scene.

By the time I got back to the camp, my pants were sopping wet from the melting snow. I stepped into warmth that smelled of coffee and toast. My friends were making breakfast.

March 07, 2015

Still winter

To the red barn!

Yesterday, I stopped by my parents' house for a cup of tea, and we decided to take a walk out back. I figured maybe we'd see some signs of spring. We followed the path that my father had plowed out to the red barn, and then kept going out to the woods behind their house. The sun hitting the south side of the house created some lovely icicles, and we saw animal tracks, especially near their compost pile, but we saw nothing that made me think that winter is over.

  Winter walk

March 01, 2015

Ready for a thaw


February is finally over! It was a pretty cold month this year: the temperature never rose above freezing, not even once. That means that most of the snow we've gotten is still here, piled along roadways and paths, creating huge white mountains in parking lots. Now that it's March, we are hoping for a thaw.

February 15, 2015

Sunshine, warmth, and wet sand

Far Beach

It’s been a long, cold winter. So when I had a chance to go somewhere warm, I took it eagerly. It was just a quick weekend trip, but still a couple days of sun can make all the difference in the world.

The best part was Sunday afternoon, which we spent on a little beach in the islands. It wasn’t a very sandy beach, but the water was warm and shallow, and the beach wasn’t very crowded at all: just a handful of locals. A big family had taken over some picnic benches and were barbecuing food. They spoke Spanish, and at too fast a pace for me to keep up, but even with the language barrier, I could read the family dynamics. That old man and woman, clearly they were the grandparents. Two sisters lounged against the fence, talking rapidly, while their toddlers played. Teenage cousins, too cool to be with the rest of the family, brought their food over to the edge of the parking lot.

One little girl came down to the water’s edge, intent on making a sand castle. She had these plastic molds that didn’t work very well and a bucket that she kept filling up with water. She gave me a big smile, and soon I was helping her with the sand castle. We dug moats, and piled wet sand into cool shapes, and decorated the whole thing with seaweed. It was utterly relaxing to spend a sunny afternoon scooping up wet sand, wading to find seashells, and poking sticks into mounds of sand. As I left, reluctantly, to go back to my hotel, I was wet and sandy and utterly relaxed.

  Late afternoon in the Keys

February 02, 2015

Winter retreat

The chapel in winter

I decided to begin February this year in a place I love: the Benedictine monastery where I go with my friends on retreat. We arrived on one of the coldest nights of the year, but the little upstairs bedroom where I slept was cozy.

When I woke up Saturday morning, the sun was making the snow sparkle. Luckily, I'd brought lots of warm clothing. I dressed hurriedly, eager to get outside into the morning light. The icy cold air felt good in my lungs as I tramped up the road and down the hill toward the chapel, the barn, and the other monastery buildings.

I saw tracks in the snow, mostly deer and rabbit. The sheep pastures curved towards the woods, white and unbroken. I wondered where all the sheep were on this winter day. My footsteps were the only ones in the barnyard.

Barnyard in January

Tall stacks of hay filled two of the barns: these monks have a pretty large herd of sheep to feed. In the third barn, I finally found some sheep: the rams! They are kept separate from the ewes. One ram stepped out into the snowy barnyard to stare at me as I walked through. On this icy day, I envied the sheep their wool coats.


I love the way snow transforms familiar surroundings into something alien. The stacks of hay in the pasture looked to me like whales rising from a light blue sea. I wandered happily about, yanking my mittens off to take photos, until the my feet and fingers were numb, and then I retreated into the warm chapel to light some candles.