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

Friday, August 1, 2008

Just his luck. July 1987, Atlantic City, NJ

Karen and Lou bought a house in Lakewood, NJ. Upon moving in, they discovered it needed a new roof. Apparently old shingles failed leading to several areas where the wood decking was rotted. Three of Karen’s brothers decided to come and help restore her roof. I was joined by Karl and Joe. It was the middle of summer and working on roofs in full sun was impossible. Considering it a working vacation, we began at first light then get off the roof before 10 AM when it became not only uncomfortable but dangerous to be out in full sun. We were blessed with a spell of dry weather. So we could take our time uncovering the roof, replacing any rotted decking, recovering with tar paper and finally applying new flashing and shingles. Finishing each days work by ten in the morning also gave us plenty of time to play.
Since Karen lived slightly more than a one hour drive from Atlantic City we ventured down several times and toured the casinos, boardwalk and beaches. We engaged in petty gambling, sightseeing, and on one occasion tried to gain admittance to an audition for contestants on the popular television game show Jeopardy. We missed the first cut. Our excursions provided relief from the hot sun baking Karen’s roof during the middle of the day. By the time we got back to her house, we could spend the brief time before it got dark preparing her roof for the next day's work and covering it with a huge plastic tarp in case the dry spell turned wet.
When we finished, we had to return to our respective homes. Karl lived in Bradenton, Florida, Joe in Atlanta. Both had flown up. Joe had picked up some things that he would not be able to carry home on a plane. Karen offered her car, so we could carry Joe and his belongings home. Karl would go with us then fly the final leg to his home and I would drive her car back. I looked forward to returning via the Smokey Mountain Parkway and Skyline Drive. This was a trip I wanted to take since I was a youngster hearing tales of my grandfather’s excursions on this route as he traveled annually from Florida to Michigan.
When we left we decided to have on final go at the Casinos so diverted our route through Atlantic City. Joe liked playing slots and Karl and I preferred table games. We wandered around inside one of the larger casinos. Every once in a while, Karl and I would connect up then head into the maze of slot machines seeking Joe. He would be easy to locate since he played machines at the end of the row. He had a theory that they placed machines that produced more winners near the ends of the aisles. He reasoned that people walking by would notice when the bells and whistles notifying that a winner was being paid and be enticed to enter and fritter away their money in the rest of the slots. He did seem to find machines that paid enough winnings to keep him engrossed and financially viable.
On one of our searches, just as we approached, his machine went into its clamor announcing a winner. The display on the machine showed a jackpot winner with three big number sevens lined up in a row. But unfortunately the jackpot prize was only awarded if you played five quarters per spin. Joe had only wagered one. So even though he hit the jackpot combination, it paid out the paltry lowest prize, a handful of quarters. We commiserated with Joe about his lack of fortune not playing enough to win the big one, then returned to our walk through the aisles of table games.
Shortly, Karl and I bumped into one another again, and figured it was time to leave the casino and begin our drive to Atlanta. So we headed back to the slot machine area to retrieve Joe. We found him at the same machine as before and the scene repeated just as we approached. Again a jackpot combination showed up and just like before, Joe had only played one quarter and hence awarded the lower prize. Seemingly his theory about end of aisle machines paying out regularly held some credence but it did not guarantee that you placed large enough wager to gain top prize. We each had money enough to finance our trip home, so we left as winners and headed out on the road.



Karen said...

I believe that during this same trip Joe lucked upon a slot machine that over-paid winnings. For example, when it indicated a payout of 25 coins it dropped 45 instead. In typical Joe fashion, his excitement was not because his winnings were out-pacing his losses, but because he was "beating the machine." These are poignant memories, especially remembering his passing. Thank you Rob for all that you did for him as we remember Joe on his birthday, Aug. 3.

Karen said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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.