Monday, May 27, 2013

Keeping Creative

Holy Trinity

In some circles the Holy Trinity is a reference to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.  I am not a religious person, and not even Catholic, so that Trinity is not the point of this blog.    And I have a policy to ignore religion and politics in my blogs.

For cooks the trinity is celery, onions and peppers.  I am familiar with that combination from a cooking class I took in New Orleans and my twice annual gumbo soup blitzes.  I make a decent gumbo but not outstanding, kind of ordinary.  I need to work on my gumbo technique.  One of my retirement plans is to do more cooking from scratch and perfecting gumbo is high on the goals of that activity. But cooking is not the thrust of this blog, even though Sunday night I prepared a tasty, if slightly spicy chicken stir-fry.  Saturday we made an unexpected stop at our favorite Oriental market and stocked up on a few items, including a new Lo Mein noodle that we cooked then crisped in the wok before topping with the stir-fry.

But I am digressing from my original thought: my Holy Trinity is thinking, acting and reflecting.  Saturday afternoon I was sitting on my patio after a long night and morning of tropical rains (10 inches total) pondering the upcoming day.  The rains had let up and after our rush of morning errands I relaxed on our patio.

Lightning struck.  More accurately, inspiration struck.  This is as rare as getting hit by lightning.  The sky brightened up and my solar powered fountain began operating.  The sun still hadn’t appeared but enough light peeked through the overcast sky to power the pump.

Several months ago I had built a small water feature fashioned out of a galvanized tub, a small electric submersible pump, a small section of rubber hose, a burner from a gas space heater and a variety of rocks.  It was really an impulse project.  I put the pump in the tub to see how much water it would move, then connected the burner to the hose and finished the water feature with rocks from my garden.  Later I added several pieces of copper pipe to direct the water to different areas.  Not much planning but the process got me thinking (Step One).

Electric Fountain

Close up of copper pipes, note water streams from hidden gas burner

Wine bottles with Christmas lights, a different project. 

Step One:  Thinking.  Formulating.  Gathering ideas.  Research.   Any creative activity must commence with constructive thought.  What do you want to accomplish, visualize the end first (credit to Covey), and create your road map.  The water feature initiated a thinking period with some research.  I wanted to build another feature.  An idea slowly formed to build a small solar powered feature for the patio.

Solar Fountain

Operating Solar Fountain

Close up of water flow with reflection of grass through the water stream

Step Two: Action.  Detailed plans, work.  Transforming an idea into a finished product requires effort.  Ideas are easy.  Transforming an idea into some meaningful result is the most difficult aspect of any creative undertaking.  My solar water feature caused me to investigate a variety of pumps, containers and a review of my budget (near zero).  The end result is a very small system utilizing a small container, a ceramic bowl and garden rocks; the water cascades from the ceramic container into the galvanized tub.  The building of the two features and resulting thought process has started the planning for a third feature for a distant area of the yard.

Step Three: Reflection and Use.  Creative activities and projects need to fulfill some purpose.  On a completely abstract level creative acts satisfy the artist and others must “buy in.”  Other projects are more utilitarian but still are creative efforts by the builder.  The fountains are decorative but I find a subtle benefit.  The soft sounds of rippling water during the day and in the evenings are soothing and have a meditative quality.

The lightning (inspiration) that struck me Saturday afternoon caused me to get my camera and take a few pictures for this blog.  The trinity of the fountains was building them, photographing the two fountains and writing a blog.  

The blog has its own trinity: draft, edits and final copy.  The fountain trinity is waiting for the third water feature.

Good things happen in threes.

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