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 1, 2008

Did you get your croutons. November 1976, Grand Rapids, MI

I was staying with my cousin Ralph heading up to Christmas. Neither of us had jobs. Ralph was actively looking for work without success. He hoped to land a job and have some money for Christmas. I accompanied him on his job search. By luck we both got hired at a bakery. This one had contracted to make croutons for a large cereal producer. We showed up for our first shift at midnight. We were scheduled to work until eight in the morning with only a short break, long enough to smoke a cigarette, half way through the shift. After suiting up in a white baker’s outfit, we headed into the factory.
The shift boss pointed over to a guy standing in front of a moving line of boxes and said,” Go over there and tap him on the back and when he steps away, take his place. Stay there until someone taps you on the shoulder. You’ll get a break in a few hours. If you got to go to the bathroom, do it now. You cannot leave your spot.” I headed down to where he pointed and tapped the guy facing the line on the shoulder, He moved away suddenly. I saw a stream of herb-garlic flavored croutons headed my way. A worker next to me stepped in front of me and demonstrated my task. He lifted two boxes up and then gathered the next two, lifting all four. Adding two more he got six stacked in his hand. These he placed back on the moving belt. He jumped back to his place and picked up those six boxes, whirled around and stuffed them into a case box.
I was busy trying to duplicate his movement and send him a pile of six boxes. My hands were not accustomed to this yet and I fumbled a lot. Pretty soon boxes were beginning get backed up on my left. No matter how deftly I tried to maneuver they seemed to be overcoming me. The guys who had just showed me the drill leaned over and brushed the log jam of boxes onto the floor. He added, “You can push them off it they get too much. It slows down sometimes and we can get the ones off the floor.” I thanked him and continued with my struggle keeping up with a line of boxes that relentlessly headed towards us.
Sure enough, the line slowed to a crawl for a while and gave us a chance to clean up the ones, I had brushed to the floor. Soon, I was given a break and went tour for a cup of coffee and a smoke. By the end of my first shift, I was getting pretty dexterous. I not only could keep a steady flow of piles of six headed to my co worker, but had time to flip them if needed so they could all be aligned the same. I was turning into a piece of the machinery that pushed out boxes of croutons twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. According to production figures kept on the chalkboard over head, since the beginning of this run in August we were heading to produce nearly one box for half of the humans on the planet. At that time, the world population was slightly over four billion. We had produced slightly over two billion boxes of croutons and the machinery was still going full tilt.


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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.