a gift of time

Earlier this week, I made a list of people I want to thank in the acknowledgments section of my dissertation. I came up with twenty-one names. The list turned out to be a great pre-writing exercise. As I was thinking about those who have shared ideas, listened patiently, asked challenging questions, brought me books, photos, and coffee, read drafts, or hugged and kissed me, I realized what a solid network of smart and kind friends and mentors I have. All of them have a stake in this project. All of them have looked at me with expressions that said “I trust you, and I believe in you”–some for years. I am grateful for their patience.

A handful of them have made it possible for me to be in residency at a small-town writers’ colony. Thanks to their gift of time, I get to sit and work in a comfortable room in the woods for two uninterrupted weeks. While it has turned out to be quite difficult to ignore quotidian demands (e-mails! bills! grading deadlines! print orders! flights to be booked!), I am able to think and write for hours on end.

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In the afternoons, I go for long walks. I am noticing a change in my photography, too. No matter what a photographer’s intention may be when setting up a photo, the result is a reflection of and comment on the photographer’s state of mind. In the images I have created this week, I think I see renewed focus–and evidence of enough sleep.

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Eureka Springs is crowded with steep hills, narrow roads, rock walls, terraced gardens, and moss. I have been here on day trips many times, but now I have the luxury of looking closer. Outside the Carnegie Public Library, I find a collection of metal tags nailed to a tree stump.

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On my way back to the colony at dusk, I come across a paper shop and buy sheets of papyrus, textured paper with cheesecloth backing, and colored yarn gridded between sheets of wax paper–all intriguing new materials for my paper houses. Of course, miniature houses are everywhere in Eureka:

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