Dunga Brook Diary

The rural life through the lens of an iPhone and notes from the field…

Archive for middle of nowhere

The Mr. Henry And Mrs. Valentine enjoying a stroll. This is central New York, enjoying El Niño.

imageThis is an unusual winter day, in central New York…wet and windy after a night and morning of torrid rain. We continue this winter’s pattern of unusually mild weather with spikes of freeze.

The rainbow was a nice surprise, Henry and Valentine sauntering beneath it, too.

Ah, winter in central New York…

Just over five years ago (after too many years in LA), I moved to central New York to renovate an 1820’s farmhouse that I had bought sight unseen off of a Facebook post.

Central New York. The beauty of the area, the seasons, the open spaces…brought me to my knees. Literally. It was what made of me an Iphonographer.

It was as if, so far into the middle of nowhere, I could see again.

That first winter was mild and wet, too. I wondered where the fabled heavy snows and ice storms of the NE had gone.

I remain grateful for the reprieve…as do Henry and Valentine. Their endless foraging continues unhampered by pesky ice and snow. Miller (not pictured) continues to lay eggs.

And I continue to take photos with my iPhone, unable still to use it as an actual phone..in the middle of nowhere.

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Fall Equinox and A Snippet of George Eliot

Fall Equinox and A Snippet of George Eliot

Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love — that makes life and nature harmonize. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one’s very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit. Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot, letter to Miss Lewis, 1st October 1841

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My third Fall in Central New York!

Yesterday, I drove to Sharon Springs for the HarvestFest and took back roads, it was a blue sky day, the leaves are changing, the corn is blonde.

I LOVE this place. This is the kind of thing that turns me on- a perfect crisp Fall day.

When I left LA , three years ago, I had no idea what to expect. I knew I was going to the east coast, I knew it was somewhere in the middle of NY state. I knew one person, the guy who posted the picture of my house on Facebook (neighbor, Tim), and I knew that the house I bought sight unseen from that post was waiting to be renovated.

I didn’t know where I would work, I didn’t know how far away a grocery store might be (12 miles). I said goodbye to Starbucks (nearest one, 100 miles away) and all the trapping of a city.

Because I had no expectations everything is a bonus.

I am in the middle of nowhere but there are great people here (always great people, no matter where I roam)- Tim has a girlfriend Margo, whom I love and is my photography muse- one of my muses, out here I have so many muses.

The guys who demo’d and rebuilt my house, a fun group of rag tag gypsies, all turned out to have hearts of gold.

I found a job with Beekman 1802 (wholesale director).

I’ve met a fantastic group of women (Leslie, Cheryl, Susan, Carla, Tina, Margo, Kristen, Marjorie, Rose Marie…on and on).

I’ve found a thriving artists community that has a long and storied history from Ginsberg’s beats back to The Hudson River Valley School and before that, settlers and, of course, native Americans artisans.

Recently, I’ve gotten to know one of the rag tag gypsies,  the tall one with the long hair, the one with the tattoo on his bicep, the one with the sexy smile, the one who can repair a stove when the mice have taken over, the one who can play guitar, sing like an angel, chase me like the devil, the one who is sweet sweet sweet…he is a handyman if there ever was one.

The beauty and fun of this place never ceases to thrill me.

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Tomorrow Night, BANK Gallery, Sharon Springs!

Tomorrow Night, BANK Gallery, Sharon Springs!

BANK Gallery presents Vicki Whicker’s iPhoneography
Dunga Brook Diary: On The Road
BANK Gallery
@Decades Showroom
204 Main, Ste. B
Sharon Springs, NY
May 31st@6pm-9pm.

“This is my Love Letter to Central New York.”

BANK Gallery@Decades Showroom is the location for the Friday night, May 31st, opening of iPhoneographer Vicki Whicker’s exhibit, Dunga Brook Diary: On The Road.

Dunga Brook Diary: On The Road features evocative 8x 8″ limited edition photo images of Central New York infused directly to metal and float mounted. Each image sold at the opening will be signed and numbered and will be on exhibit at BANK Gallery for the month of June.

“Coming from LA, this is another paradise- the lush trees, the long country roads lined with Queen Anne’s Lace big as pie plates, the crimson and gold fall leaves, those first pristine snow flakes of winter.”

Dunga Brook Diary: On The Road is opening, Friday, May 31, from 6-9pm at BANK Gallery@Decades Showroom, 204 Main, Ste. B., Sharon Springs, New York. http://www.DungaBrookDiary.com

Praise for Vicki Whicker’s Images

“Looking doesn’t have to get any better than this, Vicki Whicker demonstrates a mastery of this genre through wit, heart, critical awareness, style, technique, and an infectious appreciation of her subject matter.” Kristen Henderson, Director Cherry Branch Gallery, Cherry Valley, NY

“Vicki Whicker has an eye and a heart that go together to create images which are both profoundly moving and beautiful. She has an especially fine and original take on micro images, showing us in close up magnification the glory of nature around her, things we would never see on our own.” Ronee Blakley, Actress/Singer/Songwriter, Los Angeles, CA

“Such an eye! We are blessed that Ms. Vicki Whicker is able to capture and reveal the glory of natural reality with such exquisite precision, taste and charm. If her photography was music, it would sound like Beethoven, Sinatra and the Beatles combined…”
Miss Pamela Des Barres, Author, Founder, Groupie Couture, Venice Beach, California

“Coming from nearly 20 years as a professional graphic designer and now a full-time, fine arts painter, I have always appreciated the style and care in which Vicki has portrayed in her photo works. Her images transcend the usual “pretty picture” snapshot… capturing another level of thought passion and narrative. They are scenes that I can get lost in and the more I look, the more they tell me. Truly works of art and passion.”
Steve Curry, Fine Artist, Ojai, CA

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.525591867478049.1073741826.221233564580549&type=1&l=e284df543f

Dunga brook Diary: A Year of Seeing Differently

Dunga brook Diary: A Year of Seeing Differently

April 6th at 5pm, opening reception at Cherry Branch Gallery, Cherry Valley, NY.

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
~Ansel Adams

Leaving LA after 25 years felt like the right thing to do. LA was a pit stop, a very complicated, very expensive pit stop on my journey through life.

On the road from LA to NY, I followed my son in his truck and took iPhone photos through my truck’s windshield. Mostly of his tail lights.

I’m an old hand at leaving. But this cross-country move was different, I was uprooting someone else’s life.

Connor was off to college in the fall and somehow I’d justified it in my mind that moving the day after he graduated from HS in LA would be the best timing for both of us.

I didn’t cry during our going away party, I didn’t cry as we packed, when we drove away, as the hours and the miles across the deserts and mountains ticked by.

Across the plains, the skies were a cathedral of thunderheads, rainbows that went straight up and down, lightning that streaked sideways.

I took photos through my truck window of those things, too.

We landed in central New York to renovate an 1820’s farmhouse that I’d bought, sight unseen, from a post of Facebook.

As my new life began to take shape in the summer before Connor left for university, I took photographs of everything.

By the time the old house was renovated, Connor was at school and I had taken well over 20,000 photographs.

And I had carpal tunnel from uploading and editing all those photos but I couldn’t stop- the beauty of the land surrounding me was astounding.

I cried at night because my arm hurt so bad but the tears were different from the tears that I cried as I followed his red tail lights into those storms, heading east.

Those were tears of joy, realizing what a fine young man he had turned into, a brave soul, ready for adventure, a young man who faced the open road with open mind and heart.

My show at the Cherry Branch Gallery is a celebration of central New York and the life one can find in the middle of letting go.

A little Erma Bombek and a little Margo In The Kitchen

white gown

Sausage day and she is all in…

“No one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed.”
~Erma Bombeck

Dunga Brook Diary, 2/28/13

Yesterday, I sat with Kristen, the gallery director at Cherry Branch Gallery. Prepping for my show, we were scouring each and every picture I have uploaded to FB in the past year and a half, she’s picking her favorites and categorizing them.

There are about 7 folders of pictures so far, my favorite being the “I can’t live without” folder, loaded with pictures that make her sigh, close her eyes and drop her head in exhausted ecstasy. There are a lot of pictures to look through. She might just be tired.

When I see my photos through her editing eyes, I can see we are going to have a kick ass show.

One thing I don’t have many of are “people photos”. This is Margo, my neighbor, making sausage in her kitchen last summer, you can’t see Tim who is half-naked with a tattoo across his shoulder’s that reads, “Grace”. Margo is in this lovely white Grecian gown that looks like it cost about a dollar but you could take her anywhere.

Kristen would drop sigh, drop her head and close her eyes at this photo, too, but she hasn’t seen it yet. When she does she will drop into the folder “special effects” because I photoshopped it. She will ask me to find the original. She likes purity.

And I will. But I couldn’t resist photoshopping it last night, Margo is a work of art.

A big hug and XO to you, Kristen.

V

Wednesday scene from (one dreams) the last snow of the season…

Wednesday scene from (one dreams) the last snow of the season...

I love old barns, each one a snowflake and their elegant dissolve, slow motion as it is, is a thing of beauty to behold.

County Highway 19 and a tiny slap of Bukowski…plus Dunga Brook Diary in which I confess my Dream of being an iphone Ansel Adams…

County Highway 19

County Highway 19

“I loved you like a man loves a woman he never touches, only writes to, keeps little photographs of.” ~Charles Bukowski, Love is a Dog from Hell

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dunga Brook Diary, looking back, spring/summer 2011…

I bought a farmhouse that I found on Facebook.

I bought a farmhouse that  I found on Facebook named Dunga Brook, the original homestead of  a 2,000 acre dairy farm built in the 1820’s.

I bought a farmhouse with an acre of land, in a place I had never heard of,  for $10,000, because of a post on Facebook.

Why did I do this? Because , because, because, because, because…

Because, I was on Facebook. Because back then I had that much money in the bank. Because I was without ties, because I was over my career in fashion, because I had a number one and only son who was going off to college in August, because if I didn’t do something drastic I would lose my mind when he left, because I had 25 years in LA under my belt (because 25 of those years had been spent wishing I was somewhere small town USA else), because, basically, I had to.

I wrote a poem once with the line, “the tragic leap is the only dance-step I know…”. Melodramatic, yes, but what I meant was, I don’t do things in half-measures. All in or all out.

My moves aren’t predicated on logic, wisdom, reality, time and space continuums, obligations, duty, society…when the voice inside my head says, “its time,” I dance.

So, when Tim Giblin, a man I  barely new from an LA poetry class, posted a picture of a farmhouse on Facebook somewhere in New York on an April morning in 2011, I bought it.

Dunga Brook was for sale by owner and Tim, who lived next door, wanted someone he knew to be his new neighbor.

Turns out, you want to like your neighbors in the middle of nowhere.

I don’t think I was what he had in mind but if he was disappointed, he never let on.

That summer, my son and I had to live in a campground while Dunga Brook was being renovated. God knows we couldn’t live in her, she had been torn down by the elements (rain, snow, rain, snow, wind, rain, snow) and had been sorely mistreated by the last tenants who were, literally, squatters.

The squatters had destroyed a few of the things that the elements hadn’t yet (like the stairs to the second floor and the electrical panel in the stone basement) as a good ole country FU and goodbye.

Seems, the owner of the house had called the squatter’s closest relative, an uncle who once rented the house, and told him to deliver this message…”get out or we’ll burn the house down with you in it.” They did get out.

The KOA campground was the only place left for long-term rental that summer. I had no idea when I bought Dunga Brook that she was in the middle of the Cooperstown Dreams Park baseball summer mania.

Turns out that this little nowhere land turns into baseball central all summer long- there are baseball parks, baseball memorabilia shops, The Baseball Museum, baseball Hall of Famers are inducted out here, and the families of all the little baseballers from all over the world rent every little home and hotel room there is to be found while they pursue their mini major league Dreams in that Park.

So, into the last  rental camper trailer at the KOA we went. Which thrilled my soon to be off to college son, Connor, to no end. His Dream had always been to live in a trailer.

That trailer magically led to a reconnection to my Dream. I practically grew up in a camper. My dad dragged us to every campground in the state of Florida and up the coast to Maine in back when I was a child. Camping is in my bones, my heart and my soul.

What camping meant to a shy little girl was hours and hours of roam time, commune time, Dream time with all the little creatures and plants and water bodies of the earth.

And here I was, iphone in hand, lucid dreaming in a land of such staggering beauty that I couldn’t understand what the big deal was with all that migration west . Who could leave this place?

Thanks to that migration, CNY – as compared to LA – was essentially empty, save the baseballers and their families crowded into Cooperstown Dreams Park.

Suddenly, I understood what I was meant to do with that iPhone in my hand. Take pictures. Take a million bazillion gazillion pictures of my Dream. Lay down in the grass with my face in the dirt and breathe. Look up to the sky at the clouds marching by and breathe. click. click. click.

Suffice it to say,  I took over 20,000 iPhone pictures that summer while I waited for that house to be rebuilt and not one human besides my son and my shadow got in the way of a sunset, a sunrise, a crystal clear lake, a wild flower, a you name it.

By fall, I had carpal tunnel. Turns out you can’t just take 20,000 iPhone pictures, edit them and upload them to Facebook, regale everyone with the beauty you have found, the Dream you have landed in the middle of, without paying a price.

I would lie in bed at night, my right arm in the air and cry, it hurt so bad. I googled iPhone and carpal tunnel and ah ha, yes, of course.

Luckily for me, there are a lot of great people up here, that is the yummy  little secret of this place.

Yes, it is in the middle of nowhere, NYC is 4 hours away, Boston, the same, the nearest Starbucks is 90 miles away (this is how a LA person views the world)…but the people who live up here are amazing, educated, brilliant, fun, artistic, earthy, gorgeous, adventurous, and exactly what I wasn’t expecting to find.

Somehow, between taking a picture of everything that did and didn’t move, I met all of them.

My carpal tunnel was cured by one of the best massage therapists I have ever met who also, to my great delight, somehow ended here. Cheryl Rosen of The Spring House Spa in Sharon Springs saved my life. Well, my arm. And a lot of sleepless nights.

This April, 6th, 2013, I have a *photography show at the Cherry Branch Gallery, two years from the day that Tim Giblin posted a picture of a little broken farmhouse named Dunga Brook on Facebook.

*Vicki Whicker shoots all her photos with an iPhone, edits them in iphoto and pic monkey and Dreams of being an iPhone Ansel Adams.

https://www.facebook.com/cherrybranchgallery?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/SpringHouseSpa?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/cooperstown.koa?fref=ts

https://www.facebook.com/search/web/?q=cooperstown%20dreams%20park&form=FBKBFA&wssk=FR0AS0&wssp=1&wspq=Cooerstown&wssrc=2&wssc=6-10&wsbp=6-1&fref=ts

 

 

Heading east with LA in the rearview & iphone photos of red tail lights…

leaving LA

Dunga Brook Diary, remembering July, 2011.

Leaving LA, after 25 years, felt like the right thing to do. LA was a pit stop, a very complicated, very expensive pit stop on my journey through life.

On the road from LA to NY, I followed my son in his truck and took iPhone pictures through my truck’s windshield. Mostly of his tail lights. I admired his ability to drive away from the only life he’d ever known, his childhood friends, the dry heat and the desert he loved, all in the support of my new gold dream.

I’m an old hand at leaving. The first time was traumatic, my dad was transferred from Florida to Illinois in January and I went from a Gilligan’s Island type paradise to some sort of snowy 70’s version of Petticoat Junction. Sans the pretty girls and fun. I spent years plotting my way out, first as a long haul truck driver, which I realized later was the desire to run, be powerful, in charge of my own destiny. I toyed, during a brief summer romance, with the idea of leaving as someone’s wife, the wife of a football coach who transferred from campus to campus in search of that ultimate winning team. But hooking on to someone else’s dream is just not my thing. No matter how handsome the dreamer.

The summer after college, I ended up taking my mom’s powder blue International Scout and moving to a Colorado ski resort for seasonal work. Five super saturated 80’s years as a “ski bunny” in Vail was my max. When a friend moved to LA, I thought, why not try a big city, see what you can do as a small fish in a big pond?

But this cross-country move was different, I was uprooting someone else’s life. Connor was off to college in the fall and somehow I’d justified it in my mind that moving the day after he graduated would be the best timing for both of us.

I didn’t cry during our going away party, packed as it was with every fun friend I’d made from all my varied walks of life in the big city, but he did, tipsy on absconded beer  he communed with his Cali best buds while the band played and we danced. I didn’t cry as we packed, when we drove away. The hours and the miles ticked by.

Across the plains, the skies were a cathedral of thunderheads, rainbows that went straight up and down, lightning that streaked sideways. It was majestic, this threat of weather related annihilation. Nothing happened for hours, aside of the light show and darker skies. Finally, the great release as the rain came.

I cried then, my wet eyes on his quivering red tail lights, the distance vast between us.

Iphoto of a family…and a little Walker Evans

“Stare. It’s the way to educate your eyes. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long.” ~Walker Evans

Walking the Family

Walking the Family

A photo of an old barn at twilight and a tiny bit about fresh air…and a link to JOY

Winter Eye

In LA, windows were not meant to be opened. I worked in an office that was 5 stories high, full of people doing their officey things and not one of us could open the window to get a bit of fresh air. When I renovated my farmhouse (Dunga Brook) I put in 17 giant top pained windows that open to corn fields and a county road and more corn fields and in the winter an ocean of snow. The wind howls outside today, the house is snug, because those windows are new and close tight, I also insulated the house well. Still, it is an old house, built in the 1820’s, the wind is meant to come in…old houses, as they say, breathe. Everything needs to breathe. And this is the way it should be.

Check out this wonderful writer, Maili Halme Brocke, she has posted one of my photos and a bit about JOY  http://myjoyfortheday.blogspot.com

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