Sea Blue Lens


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Scene & Story: January 2017

river ripplesRenewal

It’s not much of a scene. Not much of a story, either, really. My heart hurts more with every day that passes. I need to stay informed, to push back against the tide of hate and anger and fear that seems to be rising all around. How to do that without becoming overwhelmed with anger and hate myself? Or simply drowning in the sorrow of it all?

So I run away, to sit on a granite block at the river’s edge until I’m numb with cold, until I stop thinking, until the flowing water instills a bit of peace within me again. The water that began as raindrops falling on a forest in the mountains many miles away, and that will reach the ocean in just a few miles more. In the ocean it will mix with waters from other mountains, other forests, other rivers. Eventually it will return to the sky, to clouds that will rain down again on still other mountains and forests, forming other rivers. Giving life to other people in other places.

Somehow it comforts me to remember this endless cycle, to watch the river flowing by, its dark waters reflecting a clear blue sky as the lowering sun glints off the ripples. Is there a message here, a metaphor, a reassurance that goodness will ultimately prevail? I don’t know; I only know that it calms me, and a tiny seed of hope begins to grow again.

* * * * *

Click HERE to join our Scene & Story link-up at Paisley Rain Boots.

**Scene & Story is a collaborative creation that Sarah Huizenga of Paisley Rain Boots and I dreamt up to encourage one other in our photography and writing. We’d love for you to join us. Just share a favorite photo from the previous month along with a short story or description and link up your blog or Flickr photo. Please remember to visit the other story sharers and leave a little love everywhere you visit. It’s a wonderful way to find and build a community of kindred spirits.


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Adventures in…Intuition

I went out this afternoon to try to complete this week’s challenge from Kim Manley Ort’s Adventures in Seeing book. To be honest, I’m not sure if I “got it” or not. The purpose was to exercise our intuition, and Kim suggested listening to our body’s leading rather than consciously deciding where to walk or what to photograph. The idea was to allow ourselves to feel something physical, a vibration or resonance, that would give us direction.

I think of most of my photography as “intuitive.” I seldom go somewhere specific with preconceived ideas about what I want to photograph. I go someplace, I see something that catches my eye and causes a quick intake of breath, I “work” the subject and make photos of it. But I can’t say I’ve ever felt the sort of physical sensation that I understood Kim to be talking about. Maybe I was trying too hard to make rational sense of something that’s not based on logic.

Anyway, I bundled up and went outside and stood on the sidewalk, waiting for “something” to suggest a direction. All I heard my body saying to me was, “Are you crazy? It’s cold out here! Let’s go back inside.” I ignored that and arbitrarily turned right and headed for the Riverwalk, mostly because I hadn’t been that way in a while.

graffiti wall

Past Main Street and the railroad overpass, I veered off the sidewalk to check out this little “park” area. There was no one else there — I wouldn’t have gone in if there had been, because the place kind of gives me the creeps. There used to be some rather artistic graffiti on that wall, but someone (probably the city) painted over it, and now it’s just a lot of (to my eyes) ugly scribbling. This is certainly not the kind of image that makes me feel good. I don’t think this is where my intuition was leading me.

Oak

I saw leaves, an unexpected sight this deep into winter. A tall oak tree still held nearly all its leaves, though they were quite dead. I suppose the new growth in the spring will push the old leaves off.

leaves

These are oak leaves, too. The sun was playing peekaboo with the clouds, making the leaves flash like a neon sign as shadows came and went.

solitary leaf

One had broken away from the crowd to lie in yesterday’s inch of new snow.

tracks

dsc_1268

There was much evidence of other, smaller creatures out following their bodies’ instincts. I’ll bet they don’t question where they are going and what they are doing.

through trees

Okay, that’s a pretty nice view. Let’s keep going just a little farther.

No Swimming

I never notice this sign except in winter, when it always makes me laugh and say out loud, No kidding! But I suppose it serves a useful purpose in the summertime, when there’s a boat ramp there.

“Fine. Can we go home now?” my body wants to know. “The wind is picking up and I’m cold.”

No, not just yet. I want to walk up to the birches, then we’ll go home.

birches

So delicate, the tracery against the sky. Who would have expected this? When I left my apartment it was mostly overcast with dark grey clouds piling up on the western horizon.

through the trees

Oh yes, this is what I wanted. Maybe I could go just a little bit farther up the trail…. Okay, wait, my body is definitely talking to me now.

“You said, to the birches. These are the birches. You can’t even feel your fingers anymore. Go. Home. Now.”

And so I turned back, still not knowing if I did it “right,” but happy with my outing anyway. One look back:

dsc_1258

It is enough.


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A Winter Album

Last Tuesday evening, the weather forecaster told us we could expect perhaps an inch of snow overnight. It only took a quick peek out the window Wednesday morning to see he’d been a bit off the mark. The world had been rendered in black and white.

from my window

Six inches of lovely, wet snow fell during the night and continued softly all the next day, settling delicately on every branch and twig. I kept going out to see what new delights I could discover.

picnic is cancelledNo Picnic Today

snowy arcsArcs

bittersweetBittersweet

twigsTwigs

treeTree at the River’s Edge

branchesWeighted

bridge from upstreamSecret

Everyone photographs this covered footbridge from the other side — the street side. But this is my favorite view, hidden away behind my building and challenging to reach.

solitary firSentinel Fir

The little island, Jubilee Park, is locked up and inaccessible during the winter, but I still enjoy looking into it from the sidewalk and taking photographs of the trees, water, and changing weather conditions.

reflectionsWinter Reflection

mallardsResident Mallards

Apparently they missed the memo about flying south for the winter.

lamppostLamp Post

riverUpriver

island ducksIsland’s End

fence-bridgeThe Street Side

stakefenceContrast

snowy branchesBowing Low

hiding placeHiding Place

chainlinksFramed

fence-bridgeZigzag

warming upHome Again

Time to thaw out my fingers with a cup of tea, snuggle under a warm throw, and spend some time with a favorite book. Thanks for coming along to play in the snow with me!

 


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Adventures in…the Kitchen

Late last fall, as I was beginning to think about some sort of weekly photographic project for 2017, I heard that Kim Manley Ort was going to host a Facebook group for people who would like to work through her new book, Adventures in Seeing, beginning January 1 — one chapter a week. Since there are 45 chapters, or “adventures,” that would take me through most of the year. Perfect! Count me in.

This week’s adventure was about awakening our senses, and Kim suggested food as a multi-sensory photographic subject. Now, food photography is not at all my “thing.” In fact, cooking is really not my thing. Cooking in my apartment kitchen, where I have about 2 1/2 square feet of work surface, is more struggle than adventure.

However. . . .

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may remember when I was taking Kim Klassen’s Be Still 52 class a couple of years ago, and how I struggled with many of her assignments. Probably the most important thing I learned from that experience is that the more I resisted, the more I said, “I don’t like it,” or “I don’t wanna,” or “I can’t,” the more I got from the lesson once I buckled down and just did it.

So, even though Kim Manley Ort said we didn’t have to do food, I decided I would anyway…just because I really didn’t want to.

It started with a bunch of kale I got at the farmer’s market on Saturday. I know I’m way behind the trend, but I’ve actually never cooked kale before. I know it’s supposed to be nutritious, and it was very pretty, so I bought some on impulse. I also had some chicken in my freezer. Could I do something with those two things? Google turned up a recipe that sounded simple enough, and I already had most of the ingredients on hand. A quick stop at the store after my fitness class provided the rest.

Onions

I love the look, the feel, and the rustle-y sound of the papery skin of ordinary yellow onions.

lemons

A lemon gets chosen for its intensely yellow color. Later, back at home, I get to cooking.

slicedonionsgarlic

The scent of sliced onions and garlic is eye-wateringly pungent.

spices

Simple spices…smoked paprika, kosher sea salt, fresh-ground pepper. Can you smell them? Taste them? Maybe not yet.

browningchicken

Now I can smell them! Hear the chicken sizzling away as it browns! The paprika adds some welcome color, as does the golden olive oil and butter. My beautiful red-enameled cast iron pot makes me happy every time I use it, despite the heaviness of it and the – ouch! – burned fingers that remind me that I need to use a potholder to take the lid off.

simmering

Broth, wine, rosemary and thyme added and simmering fragrantly. As the smell of cooking wafts upward, my daughter comes downstairs to see what I’m making.

img_5992

The bubbles and rising steam let me know it will soon be time to add the rice.

img_5993

I love jasmine rice almost more for the smell of it while it cooks than for its delicious flavor.

Kale1

Time to prep the kale.

kale2

The dark green, ruffled kale was so pretty that I almost would have preferred to put it in a vase, but I began to cut it up as instructed. Before long I put down the scissors and enjoyed tearing the crisp leaves with my fingers.

img_5996

In five minutes, the kale that filled the pot to the top had wilted down and been stirred into the chicken and broth. The rice is done, too! Time to pour the wine and…

img_5997

Enjoy!

Update: Here’s a link to the recipe I used, Google’s Braised Chicken and Kale. Yes, that’s really what it was called. You can tell I’m really not a food blogger or I’d have included the link in the first place!


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Scene & Story: December 2016

dsc_1153Balance

There she stands, that little squirrel, poised and ready to leap. Focused, concentrated, intent upon her destination, the next branch, the next tasty bud. I wonder if she enjoys the leap, that brief moment of flying through the air. I wonder if her tiny heart beats a little faster in anticipation of the launch.

I’d like to be as focused on my next move and as sure of my goals as this little creature, but human lives tend to be more complicated. What do I want to accomplish this year? What do I want to learn, do, create? What do I want to be? To become?

I ponder these questions as I stand poised on the edge of the unknown, at the start of a new year, another new beginning. My heart beats faster in anticipation of the launch. And I hope for moments that will feel like flying.

* * * * *

It’s official, we have a linkup!
You can find it at Sarah’s Paisley Rain Boots blog.

**Scene & Story is a collaborative effort between myself and Sarah of Paisley Rain Boots. We encourage you to share a favorite photo from the previous month along with a short story or description and link up your blog or Flickr photo. Please remember to visit the other story sharers and leave a little love everywhere you visit.


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My Life in Pictures: 2016

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve probably seen the calendar of photos I post at the end of each month. I’ve been using the Project 365 Pro iPhone app for over two years now. At the end of last year, I collected all twelve months into one blog post that summed up my whole year — my daily visual diary. I enjoyed seeing them together that way so much that I decided to do it again.

2016-01

2016-02

2016-03

2016-04

2016-05

2016-06

2016-07

2016-08

2016-09

2016-10

2016-11

2016-12

What I especially like about this gathering of the parts into a whole is being able to scroll through the year, observing how the subjects, weather, activities, and colors change as the seasons roll by.

2016 was a difficult year in many respects, and I realize these photos don’t really reflect that. Instead they are my attempt to find moments of beauty, curiosity, and joy in my own small world despite often feeling overwhelmed and in despair about the happenings in the larger world around us all.

And last, when I revisited last year’s calendar post, I noticed that I’d ended with a selfie to start the new year. Hm, I’d forgotten about that. But a tradition is a tradition, so here you go, the current me, or at least me as of 20 minutes ago:

me_2016-0101

I had a birthday in December, one of those big round numbers that make you stop and say, “NO, that can’t be right.” But it is right, and there’s no time to waste. I’d better go get out of my pajamas!

My Word for 2017 is Hope. I need it. The world needs it. I’m so grateful to have all of you in my life – whether we know each other in person or through this amazing online community that reaches around the world. Your kindness, love and friendship bring me joy – and hope – every single day.

Happy New Year, my friends. May it be a good one!


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Nor’easter 2016

I think we’ve just had our final big storm for 2016, and it was a wild and crazy one. You may have heard rumors of it. Even my sister and brother-in-law in California were worried about the “monster storm” they heard was headed for New England.

gazeboAll Decked Out

We haven’t had too much snow this winter — up to now. Yesterday morning about 7:15, as I walked to meet a friend for breakfast, I stopped to take a photo of the lighthouse gazebo on Main Street. There was still a trace of snow from last week. While we were at breakfast, it began to snow a bit, but that wasn’t the storm. No, that was only a little warm-up, if you can call snow a warm-up. By the time I got home, we had maybe an inch of “pre-storm” on the ground. It soon stopped and moved on to make way for the real deal.

All was calm for a couple of hours, and then it began to snow in earnest. Perhaps four inches fell over the next few hours, before switching over to rain that poured down in the evening, washing away most of the snow. But we weren’t done yet! It got colder again and switched back to snow, which was falling steadily when I went to bed around 10:30. I’d guess we got another six inches or so overnight.

By this morning the world was transformed. The first order of business was to dig out both of our cars and remove them from the parking lot by 8:00 so it could be plowed. But first I had to take a picture of the soft pink sunrise clouds.

img_5647Cotton Candy

Let’s just skip over the actual hard labor part. I got enough exercise to feel justified in skipping my fitness class this morning! I was tired and cold, but my reward to myself was to go walking and try to get a few photos with my iPhone. Here’s a bit of what I saw.

img_5656The Bluest Sky!

img_5669Old Faithful
Behind the building: I’m so grateful for the faithful boiler that produces that
picturesque steam — and the heat that warms my apartment.

img_5677These black twigs make beautiful patterns against the snow.

img_5688Remnants of the rain.

img_5697I love this tree in every season.

img_5706Evidence of the wind: snow plastered against the side of the tree trunks.

img_5708A spark of red in a blue and white world.

img_5713In front of the building, rhododendrons conserve energy by letting their leaves “wilt.”

img_5716So nice to see the sun!

img_5720The gate is locked and the park closed until spring. So sad!

img_5730This is ice and snow on the water downstream from the bridge.
Does anyone else see a message?

img_5740More ice/snow on the river. I’ve never seen it like this before.

img_5748A glimpse of the Amtrak train station across the river.

img_5739The Sunny Side
Heading home to have my coffee and get warm!

snowflake_diana

May this New Year’s weekend find you happy, healthy, safe and warm. I wish you all a wonderful 2017!