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 16, 2008

Matches vs. Lighters

In my Dad’s shop was a small oak barrel that contained a dried mass of tobacco mixture he made. He would carve out a small plug and carry it with him in a leather pouch. Occasionally, he would shave off a few pieces with his knife. They looked like dark wood flakes and he place them in his pipe. Next he would reach into his trousers and pull out a tiny box that held little sticks, slightly fatter than toothpicks and covered with a small droplet of dried reddish substance at one end. He would rub this end along the side of the box until it burst into flame. With two fingers he held this flaming rod up to his pipe and would inhale and draw fire down into the tobacco until it ignited. Once lit it would continue to burn, until he finished smoking and put it aside where the fire in the pipe would extinguish.
Uncle Ray, who smoked cigarettes, would light them with the shiny polished metal device that he called a lighter. Smaller than a pack of cigarettes, and with a similar shape, it had a hinge on one of its narrow sides. When he wanted to use it, he would flip the top open with a smart flick of his thumb. In the same motion he would rub his thumb along a small wheel, which twirled against a piece of flint. This would produce a spark that ignited a wick that was soaked with lighter fluid. After lighting his cigarette, he deftly closed the lighter and returned it to his pocket with the same hand that seemed to reverse the motion that produced it. Uncle Ray made the whole event of producing a flame and returning the lighter to his pocket, seem like an act of magic. Unless one was aware of the existence of the small case of metal, it appeared that flame sprang from his fingertips.
Seeing the almost magical way that Uncle Ray lit his cigarettes I asked my dad why he preferred matches. He told me that while serving in the US Navy in the Pacific theater during WWII, all the crew on his boat were issued gleaming new Zippo lighters. He stated that like most of his mates he could not wait to use it. After he obtained sufficient fuel all he had to do was wait until the smoking lamp was lit. This was a signal that it was clear to go out on deck and light up. It was against regulations and unsafe to have an open flame or anything that could cause a spark below decks. It was also not safe in a war zone to carry lights even as small as a cigarette or pipe after dark on deck. Dad told me that the first time he used his new lighter he promptly blew out the flame and like a spent match he tossed the used lighter overboard. I am not sure if this story was true, but might have been the excuse he used to not use a lighter. He did not like the smell of any oil or gas type fuels burning and referred to engine powered boats as stinkpots. Through out his life he continued to use matches to light not only his pipe or cigars, but he used them to ignite any type of flame, burner or fire.


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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.