Sea Blue Lens


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In Search of a Mission

img_3206Finding Myself

I am in the midst of Susannah Conway’s Blogging from the Heart course, and one of the first assignments was to write a mission statement for my blog. I have been stumped, pondering on this for almost two weeks. I wrote a lot of notes about the why, what, and how of my blogging. But I couldn’t seem to make it coalesce into a sentence or two that sounded anything like a “mission statement,” a phrase that has ponderous and corporate overtones in my mind.

Then, yesterday. Yesterday I found it — by accident, synchronicity, coincidence, or providence, depending upon your point of view. I found it posted on the Facebook page of the poet Mary Oliver.

Instructions for life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
~ Mary Oliver, Sometimes (from Red Bird)

In these uncertain and often fearful times, it seems more important than ever to seek out the good, the beautiful, the curious, and the awe-inspiring in the world around us, and to notice even tiny things that astonish and amaze us. To embrace life and our fellow beings on this vast yet small planet with grace and kindness. To share our discoveries and our delight with others, so they might experience it, too.

And so there it is, my mission statement: I will pay attention, be astonished, and tell about it. That sums it up in a nutshell — the reason I take the photographs I do, the reason I write about them, the reason I press “publish” on this blog.

Thank you, Mary Oliver.

 


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Summer’s End

I walked out to check the mail this afternoon, and on the way back from the mailbox I had a spur-of-the-moment impulse to explore the vacant lot where I photographed a field of dandelions last spring. It turned out that I was taking my life in my hands because the place was swarming with mosquitoes and other creepy crawlies. Nevertheless I made my way through the jungle photographing what was left of the wildflowers, and I have the battle scars to prove it. I have mosquito bites in places that I wouldn’t have thought they could reach, in one case through three layers of clothing! Next time I get such a harebrained idea I will go back to the apartment to cover myself with bug spray first.

But I enjoyed my little  expedition, anyway. Here’s a bit of what I saw.

IMG_3072It’s a Jungle Out There

IMG_3059Fireworks

IMG_3055Down But Not (Quite) Out

IMG_3065A Patch of Blue

IMG_3053Tattered Wing

IMG_3051Summer’s Last Wish

IMG_3044Ready or Not

I know it’s not officially fall yet, but — like it or not — the signs of its imminent arrival are clear to be seen. There’s still plenty of green around, but things are looking a bit battered and worn. There’s a cool freshness in the air that speaks to me of new beginnings. I’m not eager for the winter that will follow, but I plan to enjoy the pleasures of autumn to the fullest.


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An Anniversary

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Today marks five years since I began this blog, intended to serve as a photojournal for an online photography class I was taking at the time (Kat Sloma’s “Find Your Eye” course). For the first time, I shared both my photography and my writing with a wider audience than just my family and close friends. Since then I’ve become more confident not only about my photography, but about myself. I’ve made connections online that have become friendships as real as any in the “real world.” I not only found my eye — I also found my voice.

IMG_1757Just Breathe

Why do I pursue photography, anyway? My motivations haven’t changed in the five years since I first thought about that question for Kat’s class. I take photos to capture a moment, a memory, something I want to hold on to. My subject may be permanent as a mountain or ephemeral as a sunbeam, vast as an ocean or tiny as an insect, but it is always something that has captured my eye and my imagination and demands to be captured in turn with my camera.

IMG_1119Quicker Than the Eye

I take photos to explore the world around me.  I love the way my camera helps me to notice things, and even to see things invisible to my naked eyes. I love the way photography allows me to share the things I discover with others. I think what keeps me going, photographing even familiar, “same old, same old” subjects over and over, is the possibility of discovering something new and never-before-seen — at least not by me.

DSC_0052Mother Love

IMG_0630Wings of Light

I photograph the places and things I love. My photography is not a means to an end, it is an end in its own right. I do enjoy publishing my photos on my blog and it’s a special joy when someone tells me one of my pictures has touched or inspired them in some way. But underneath it all is still just that basic need to express myself, to create something that seems beautiful and satisfying to my own eyes.

IMG_0621Summer Sun

DSC_0183Flight

If I’m troubled or anxious, a walk with my camera takes me out of myself and brings peace better than any meditation. Is my photography going to Change the World? No, probably not. But it captures a bit of the beauty I see in the world, and that makes me happy. If it gives you pleasure, too . . . that makes me even happier. Purpose fulfilled all around.

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Summer Shower

We had a brief thunderstorm this afternoon. It didn’t rain long, or much, but it freshened the air and rinsed the pollen dust off everything. Afterward I walked to the park next door to see what I could see.

DSC_0198Birds of a [Different] Feather

An American Robin and a House Sparrow were keeping company on a dripping overhead cable.

DSC_0200Dropped

A maple leaf had let go of its lifeline.

DSC_0203Mystery Blossoms

Raindrops freshened flowers and foliage and pattered down from the trees overhead. I don’t know what these flowers are — the pink ones are on a large shrub, and the blue ones are a vine entangled in it. (If you know, please tell me!)

IMG_1153The Last Iris

IMG_1158The First Daylily

DSC_0226Hammock

This web is strung horizontally between the leaves of a huge hosta. There was no one home, but as you can see the larder is full of gustatory delights…if you’re a spider, anyway.

IMG_1169-2Storm? What Storm?

Behind the apartment, all traces of the storm were gone.

DSC_0236Rosa Multiflora

Bowers of tiny roses climbed high into the trees, their petals already dry.

DSC_0241The Calm After the Storm

leaf light and sky shine
illuminate clear water
ripples reflect peace

Wishing you a happy Wednesday, friends.


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Evening Out Back

Late afternoon. Something about the quality of the light through the window catches my eye and I head outside for a better look.

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The “golden hour” approaches — those last few minutes at the end of the day before the sun goes down. It’s one of my favorite times of day. I don’t need to go far, just down the stairs and around behind my building, to capture the interplay of glowing light on leaves and water.

IMG_0609The low-angled sunlight casts a beautiful sidelight on the trees at the edge of the river.

IMG_0607The mosses and ripples seem lighted from within.

IMG_0615Leaves glow against deep shadows.

IMG_0618Reflections dance quietly on the water.

The sun sets, the light fades and in moments is gone, and another day is done.


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Bountiful Blossoms

I’m loving the rhododendrons blooming all around my neighborhood right now. I’ve noticed that the buds are always more intense in their color than the opened blossoms. So many variations…from delicate pale pink buds that open nearly white, to shades of lavender and magenta, to dark red buds that open to a fiery deep pink that my camera couldn’t quite capture.

Not having a garden of my own, I’m grateful to be able to enjoy other people’s beautiful flowers from the sidewalk. Here’s just a sampling from a recent walk:

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These photos were all taken with my iPhone 5s within a few blocks of my home.


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Finding Focus

The warmer, longer days seem to have switched on a surge of energy in me, and I find myself wanting to Get Things Done. There are so many projects on my to-do list — where do I start? Also, it’s summer, and I want to have fun!

IMG_1904-2Summer Dreams

One of the problems with retirement, though it’s a delightful problem to have, is that you can have too much free time on your hands. In fact, it’s all free time. I’m a person who prefers spontaneity, who doesn’t like being regimented and scheduled. There’s always tomorrow, right? But recently I came across a line in a book I’m reading, Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, about establishing good habits and breaking bad ones. She wrote, “Something that can be done at any time often happens at no time.”

That line pierced me to the heart. I have always been a terrible procrastinator, and I suddenly, vividly, realized that I could easily spend the rest of my life doing, basically, nothing. Waiting until “tomorrow.” And while I hope and expect that I still have lots of tomorrows ahead of me, I don’t want to waste any of them!

IMG_0844-2Making Plans

So . . . I’ve bought a calendar/diary, the kind that shows a week at a time, that I plan to use to give my days a bit of structure and routine. I’m editing my Need-to-do list, prioritizing projects and breaking them down into steps. I’m making Want-to-do lists, too, of places to go and things to do for pleasure and adventure, of books to read, of photography classes, photo walks and projects to complete. All those things are going into the calendar.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Right now it’s time for…hm, let me check my calendar for Sunday.

Happy Feet 2Happy Feet

Oh, well. Baby steps! Enjoy the day, my friends.🙂