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, September 2, 2008

How to make trillions of croutons. November 1976, Grand Rapids, MI

After my first day of making croutons, my chore became routine. I could start my shift and let my hands do the work while my mind wandered all about. It no longer took focus or concentration. I was slowly being transformed to an automaton. After they noticed I was taking to the job, I was offered a chance to join the bakers’ union and come on full time. Besides a big raise in pay and benefits, I would be allowed to work as many shifts as I desired. The only rule is that once you began a shift you had to complete it. Some workers aided by Dexedrine worked three shifts straight then left for a day to crash.
This seemed like no life for me. I asked them to hold my pay while I decided about joining the union. Unbeknownst to them, I planned on working as many days straight as I could tolerate. When I finally had enough, I planned to ask for my pay, then resign. I was only a temporary worker and planned on keeping it that way. My ambition was to head back to Florida as soon as I finished my career as baker. Every night my station was the same.
I faced a steady procession of boxes heading toward me, that I helped get into cases. I hardly was aware of the noisy machinery behind to my right that bagged and boxed the croutons being sent to me. Beyond was a large hopper that dumped croutons onto a belt headed to their boxes. I could not see further than that. Where the croutons came from remained a mystery. From the beginning to end of my shift , that was my world. I was assured it remained the same in between my shifts, a non stop march of boxed croutons. One shift the bagging machines became jammed and overloaded dumping several feet of crotons on the floor around them. Finally the whole line was shut down to halt the spillage of croutons. I took advantage of the break to take a tour of the plant.
In another part of the building were several machines that resembled cement mixers. Large pallets were lifted to their tops and bags of flour, boxes and jars of ingredients for making breads were poured into the mixers. Once full, paddles on the inside mixed batter. Water was added automatically. When ready, a small sphincter would eject a loaf into bread pans passing by its orifice. From here the pans would ride a conveyor line back and forth giving time for the bread to rise. At this point it its ride, bread would enter an oven. It took just enough time to pass through the oven to bake the loaves.
Still riding the conveyor till the bread cooled, the loaves would come to an end and be dumped out of their pans. Here human hands would grab the fresh loaves and place them on wire shelving. Once loaded the shelves would be stacked on mobile racks. Full racks would be hooked to a floor chain that dragged them through two swinging doors into a room as large as two football fields. This room was kept cool and dry. In the two days it took the racks to transport through, the bread they were carrying achieved staleness. At the far end of the room human hands again touched the loaves, placing them into a slicing and cubing cutter. Once turned into crouton shaped cubes they were sprayed with herb garlic flavored preservatives. From here, croutons journeyed into a toaster oven and emerged finished product in the hamper that churned them onto a conveyor belt that carried then to the now defunct bagging machines. Shortly after bagging they were delivered to my station. By the time my tour was complete, the bagging machines were returned to service. I proceeded to my station and waited the return of the croutons. In the wait, a scene was presented that reminded me of our food industry. Several workers came out with gleaming stainless garbage cans and just as bright stainless shovels. They proceeded to scoop the piles from around the bagging machines into their cans labeled “FOOD WASTE.” Until they got down to about a foot above the floor, they carried this waste and dumped it into the hopper that would carrying them back to the bagging machines. The mental picture I took was of workers dumping food waste into our national food production process.


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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.