Welcome to Balanced Rocks: Pictures and Stories

Beginning March 16,2010, I began a journey of balancing rocks. I hold to the practice of setting to balance at least five sculptures a day, sometimes, many more. Of these I take lots of pictures and videos. While conducting this adventure, I have been introduced to an incredible unfolding story. Additionally, I discovered this phenomenon is manifesting worldwide. As I post pictures and stories, I found many others similarly engaged and sharing their works. Additionally, as folks come upon me performing my work, many want to find out how this is done and try themselves. This blog shares this work in both pictures and stories. Enjoy


A seeming impossibility becomes possible

Rock Balancing: The Beginning

On a fine summer day, sometime in August, 2009, I was visiting family in Toronto. Like most folks spending summer in a large city, we used up as much time as we could finding outdoor events that would cool us. One afternoon, we headed to the Beaches section of East Toronto. After spending some time playing in a large sandbox in the shade with my grandkids and some of their newfound companions, we headed to the Boardwalk that extends from Balmy Beach to Kew Gardens. Ella accompanied me, Liam took off with his mom, Natalie. They ventured down the boardwalk, Ella and I headed onto the sand toward the water’s edge. Halfway there we encountered what looked like a small size Stonehenge.

About a dozen sculptures were gathered together in a rough circle. Each was a stack of two or three rocks balanced one on another. The tallest one was slightly taller than Ella, who was small average height for a five year older. All were in the neighborhood of three feet and four feet tall. What immediately jumped out was the precarious nature of the balancing. Most points of contact were miraculously slight. Most seemed to be standing on a point. Two more folks were witnessing this amazing display. We imagined that there must be small metal rods embedded at the point of contact, or else some kind of glue was used. Each of us peered from close low angles to detect what could account for this mystical display. Ella, not being so cautious, toppled one structure over. Luckily, it did not land on her.

I hurried over and picked up the fallen rock. I saw no evidence of a rod or glue. It indeed had been balanced on its pedestal. I lifted it up and tried to place it back where I reckoned it had been balanced. I cautioned Ella, to be careful and not upset any more sculptures and went about the task of finding balance. I was not successful and struggled immensely but did not find the magic spot where stability could be achieved. After a lengthy effort, an attractive Asian woman about my age approached and gently nudged me aside offering to demonstrate her work. She pointed to the spot she would set the stone upon. She called it by a foreign name. To me it looked like a slight dimple.

Placing the small end of the upper rock into that hollow, she deftly and quickly moved it around, slightly twisting and cajoling it into position. The sight of this slender woman with longish graying hair performing an intricate dance with a rock slightly larger than her head emanated calmness. It seemed only the ends of her fingers were used to achieve these small movements. Apparently, equilibrium was close. Shortly she was done and withdrew her palms which naturally assumed an open prayer posture. The rock I had grappled with was majestically resting in its previous stable state. She next went over and reset two other structures, I had not noticed were also amiss. I just took them to be part of the rubble strewn about the beach. Now all the display was standing and providing a small sense of order in our chaotic world.

I never got this woman’s name, but heard her story. She had set this display up for the purpose of taking pictures, one of which she hoped to use for a cover of a book she was publishing. Unfortunately not getting her name makes it difficult to find her book. But I carried away with me the sight of her presentation and the incredible feeling I had witnessed an amazing ethereal event. I also felt an urge to explore this practice.

Rock in the Snow

Rock in the Snow
January in Toronto

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Gambling on the Continent. September/October 1990

At the beginning of our trip, Joe seemed well. We traveled to Amsterdam, Joe’s choice, and spent Saturday night taking in city life. The next day, Karen chose to drive us back toward Belgium. On the way we stopped at a small deli type store that sold many foodstuffs battered and deep fried. There were a couple of gambling machines against one wall. While Karen was placing our order, Joe and I tried our luck gambling guilders. The game we were playing resembled slot machines but with a different twist. There were permutations and combinations that paid off in ways in which we were not familiar It did not help that all the instructions were printed in Dutch. On our second roll, to the accompaniment of bells, we won a prize of thirty thousand guilders.
At the current exchange rate we had won the equivalent of eighteen thousand US dollars. We figured that sum would not come out of the machine, but there was some way to print a ticket that could be taken to lottery headquarters and redeemed. Trying to decipher the language that explained how to get this voucher was difficult. Karen bugged us to ask the girl behind the counter. Being American males, Joe and I could not stoop to asking for assistance. Besides we did not want to appear stupid and not hip. In our efforts to try and pry out the winning ticket one of us hit a button that started the wheels to spin again. What we did, was gamble away all our winnings on a double or nothing bet. We immediately confirmed our stubbornness and foolishness. Even this loss did not break Joe’s spirit and he appeared to feel well.
Our next adventure at gambling came in a casino in Lindau Germany on October 3. That day marked the official union of Germany after being seperated following WWII. We had to pay admssion to enter this casino. Obtaining dated passes establishing our presence in Germany during a day of huge celebration. Still smarting from our previous loss to a slot machine in Netherlands, we decided not to gamble on even games we recognized. Instead we spent the day toasting with schnapps that was being passed out everywhere. We figured that we got out as winners since except for he price of admission we came out even. This was a good day for Joe, but he had been having some rough ones characterized by immense headaches.
Our last adventure with games of chance came in Monaco. Joe was not feeling well so stayed in our car napping while Karen and I happened into one of their famous casinos. Karen strolled around playing slot machines. I had a hundred franc bet riding on number 9 at a Craps table. The shooter was rolling a string of passes keeping my bet good. A very smartly dressed man walked up and presented a five hundred thousand franc note encased in plastic. He received a sizeable pile of chips which he began placing on bets. Something about his bearing made me think him an Egyptian arms dealer. I was getting nervous with all that money on the table. I did not pick up my bet, but as soon as it came up a winner, picked up my chips, cashed in, found my sister and walked out. Retrieving Joe we sat at some concrete benches in a park. From slots between each bench we dug out change and bills. Our work as scavengers was more rewarding than gamblers. It helped Joe feel better that we dug up money rather than spin it away inadvertently. His time of not feeling well far surpassed any moments of well being. As his condition slowly slid downhill, I worried about how he would traverse the last week we had left in our European holiday.


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Blog Archive

About Me, Part One

My photo
Rock Balancing: The Beginning. What began as a journal of my travels took a hiatus when I began to settle in Ithaca NY. In the meantime, I took up the practice of setting rocks to balance. I returned to my blog to begin recording this story

Part, The second

On Easter Sunday Morning, 2008, I made a decision to settle in the Ithaca New York area. At the same time, I decided to continue to post my blog, However, the stories now will come from the archive stored internally. These will be the stories I gathered while on previous journeys and never entrusted to paper. The date of each posting will not reflect the date of the story being related but will mark the date that narrative got inscribed.

Carry wood

Carry wood
33 years later

Part: The third

I took a brief hiatus from my daily blog writing. I did not know the direction it would take. part of me thought I would abandon it. It turns out I missed it. The old title "On the Road Again' is no longer apt. It appears I am settling. The travel stories will age to a point, when I will probably resusitiate them and do something with them. I dusted off some old stories and begin this new series.
Thr first is one was written two years ago. I edited it and begin again a series that is more apropos to someone settling in upper New York State. They are meant to warm, amuse, educate and sometimes inflame.