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

Monday, September 22, 2008

Burning Trash

When I was in first grade, we lived in rural Florida. My first job was to clean my dad’s shop after the workers left. He built wooden boats and in a day turned out a considerable quantity of sawdust, wood scraps, paper waste, packaging materials and a small quantity of chemicals from the paint shop. My duties began with sweeping up the floors and cleaning out the sawdust hampers. We had a wheelbarrow which I would load up and haul to a burning pit we had just outside the chain link fence near the back gate. My last duty before locking the gate was to build and tend a fire that consumed our waste. Everything was burned.
First off, I stacked and arranged the pile. This experience taught me much about combustion principles. First, to have sustained fire air has to get to it. Sawdust even though it is combustible can smother a fire by preventing air from reaching the burn. I learned this when I dumped a whole load on a fire already burning well. Once smothered it would continue to smoke but all flames would extinguish. If I poked it, brief flame would appear but quickly go out after I withdrew the poker. If I left the fire, by morning an intact pile of charred sawdust would still be smoldering.. But by then all chance of flame would be gone since heat had left. On the other hand if a handful of sawdust is thrown into the air above a roaring blaze it almost explodes in flame. Plenty of air among the dust particles makes for an volatile mixture.
Next, I learned that some things may not have been meant to be burned. Once in a while a small amount I put it the fire would release a cloud of noxious smoke. Mostly, it was thick black smoke that concerned me. Although she never complained a neighbor whose house was directly behind the shop would often be subjected to dense smelly vapors rolling across her property. I must have intuited that this was not good. Close by, I could tell by the stinging in my nose that what was being produced should not be shared, besides not likely being good for me.
I learned that with a hot fire small quantities could be rapidly burned without producing toxic clouds. But mostly, I gathered some elements were not meant for my fire and would be saved for hauling to a burial dump.
Lastly, I learned that some stuff doe not burn up even in a hot fire. Even small pieces of metal would not be consumed, ceramic and glass likewise. Sometimes these items would melt and change shape but never be burned up. They also glowed when subjected to high heat for a spell. I felt fortunate to be able to conduct fire experiments as part of my tasks. I took to making hot spots in the fire. In these places I conducted tests with most items that did not burn. I learned that such objects retained heat long after being removed from the furnace, often times hot enough to cause burns or ignite fires. I suppose these experiments taught me much about fire safety.
Not only was I lucky to have a chance to play with fire, I learned the joys of just watching a it burn and letting my mind drift to the accompaniment of the moving light show. We did not have a television back then, but I do not think I missed much. I learned that there is always a good show to be had just watching flames perform their magic.


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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.