Sea Blue Lens


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Photo-Heart Connection: June 2014

DSC_5252Dear Old House

Dear House,

I just wanted to say “thank you.” For taking me in and giving me shelter. For warm winter fires and cool summer breezes. For snow drifts and icicles. For crocus and lilies of the valley and daisies and roses. For squirrels and birds and that one little chipmunk that came to say goodbye. For surprises and treasures from basement and barn, attic and cupboard. For your amazing light and all the photo ops. For fulfilling some lifelong yearnings over the past seven and a half months.

‘Bye, House. I’ll never forget you.

Love,

Me

 

Linking with Kat Sloma’s Photo-Heart Connection. I moved into my new apartment July 1, so I’m surrounded by the chaos of My Life in boxes, but didn’t want to miss posting this month.


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Photo-Heart Connection: May 2014

Two WindowsThread the Light  [249/365]

This month’s Photo-Heart Connection contains a tiny touch of Photo-Heartbreak. And a very large amount of gratitude.

I’ve had the privilege of living in this beautiful, historic home since last November. Now it has been sold, and in a couple of weeks I will be moving to an apartment. I’m looking forward to getting settled there, in what I hope and expect will be my long-term home. I’m tired of moving.

What I had not expected was that I would be so sad to leave this house. It is large, simple, gracious, and elegant. It’s over two hundred years old, with slanted floors, crooked doors, and wavy windows. And the most beautiful light, threading its way into and through every room. It has a warm, welcoming spirit, a “presence” of its own. It’s altogether the loveliest place I’ve ever occupied.

I moved in here knowing it was only temporary. I unpacked everything anyway. Yesterday my friend Susan asked if I was sorry I did that. That’s an easy one: No!  I moved in completely, bag and baggage, and apparently heart and soul, too. And I don’t regret it for a minute. Living here fully, not just camping out, has been a wonderful experience, and one I’ll always treasure and be thankful for.

The photo above was taken late one afternoon as the sun shone through an old window onto the rough-sawn boards of the mudroom wall. It will be the perfect reminder of the winter and spring of light (and delight) that I spent in this old house.

The title comes from the chorus of a song I’m very fond of, “Down Low” by The Swell Season, that goes like this:

Thread the light
Thread the light
Shine the light
Don’t hide the light
Live the light
And give the light
Seek the light
And speak the light
Crave the light
And brave the light
Stare the light
And share the light
Show the light
And know the light
Raise the light
And praise the light
Thread the light
And spread the light

I don’t know the meaning of the song (I don’t think it’s religious), but every time I think of this image, the tune and words start running through my head. It feels right, somehow.

Linking with Kat Sloma’s Photo-Heart Connection for May.


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Photo-Heart Connection: February 2014

Morning WindowsMorning Windows

I’ve been living in this house for three and a half months now, and I still feel a sense of wonder at being here. It is only a temporary refuge — the owners are trying to sell it — but for now, it is home, and I’m treasuring every moment I spend here.

There’s just something about this place. A sense of timelessness and of history (is that a contradiction?), of connection with people and a way of life long past. I like to imagine what it might have been like to live through a winter such as this one with only fireplaces for heat and for cooking. I’ve never seen or felt any ghostly presence, but I do feel a sense of companionship with those who were here before me. It’s almost as if the house itself were alive and glad to have me here. Fanciful, I know.

Pictured above is the room where I sleep. It’s a large and gracious room. Judging by the window casings and other details, I believe that when originally built it must have been the parlor or “best” room of the house. The mantel remains, though the fireplace was bricked up long ago.

At night, when the shutters are closed, the room is very dark and the quiet is profound. In the morning, daylight shows itself in small slices around their edges. I open them to see what the day is like, and the room floods with light even if the sky is cloudy.

On the morning I took this photograph, the sun had come out after several days of gloomy overcast skies, cold, and snow. I went to the kitchen to make tea, and when I walked back into the bedroom it was glowing with sunlight. And so I picked up my camera, to save and savor this moment in time. 

They say “home is where the heart is,” and this month, home is also where my Photo-Heart Connection is.

Linking with Kat Sloma’s Photo-Heart Connection for February


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And Then the Sun Came Out

Last night before I went to bed, I took this shot through the window with my iPhone:

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This morning when I woke up, the neighbors’ landscaping looked like frosted desserts.

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Others, including us, have icicles hanging from the eaves — very pretty, though not good for the house.

DSC_4382Pretty But Perilous

DSC_4441Like Icing On a Cake

These could be dangerous if they fell, except that our snow mountain prevents our getting anywhere near them.

The sky cleared as the sun rose.

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Sunshine came streaming in through the windows, pale at first . . .

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. . . but gaining strength.

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DSC_4408Showing Her Age

I love that you can see the texture of the wavy old glass in the shadow on the wall. I believe this fanlight is original to the house, which would make it over 200 years old. No wonder the glass is a bit saggy and wrinkled.

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Interior corners were illuminated, like my cabinet of natural wonders.

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White snow, blue sky, and sunshine are such a beautiful combination. Unfortunately, it didn’t last for long. In the afternoon, this happened:

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and by evening it looked like this out back:

IMG_2452Yup, Again.

But that’s all right. There are compensations.

DSC_4455And life really is good.


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Observing the Natives

I don’t usually decorate for Christmas until about a week before the big day, but for some reason, I’m getting the urge early this year. It’s probably part of the nesting that’s going on here in my new home.

Anyway, yesterday I hung a wreath on the inside of my kitchen door and then left the room. Two minutes later (no exaggeration) I heard noises and went to investigate. This is what I saw:DSC_3469DSC_3470DSC_3473

Really?

Keep in mind that this wreath is: a) INSIDE the house, b) behind a dual-pane glass door AND a screen door, and c) is FAKE.

I was truly amazed that the squirrels could see it well enough to think that it looked like a food source. Oh, well. Onward, troops!

The direct frontal assault not yielding profitable results, they decided to try a subtler approach.

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The door handle.

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Well, that didn’t work either. Now she’s getting frustrated. Forget subtlety!

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Sorry about the motion blur, folks, but that’s not me. That’s Ms. Squirrel jumping up and down on the door handle.

Man, I’m glad I locked that door.

To give them credit, they are not stupid. After repeated attempts by several individuals over the next hour or so, they realized that persistence was futile, and gave it up. Today they are going about their usual business, without giving that tasty looking but unattainable thing another glance.

Here’s my favorite image, the one that made it as my 365 photo of the day. This guy didn’t even blink as I walked right up to the door and took his photograph.

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I do love my squirrelly neighbors!


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Photo-Heart Connection: November 2013

OceanParkHomecoming

 I arrived back in Maine a week into November, and my household goods were delivered by moving van about 10 days later. I spent the next several days trying to bring order out of the chaos that was my immediate universe. The weather was cold, and a nasty storm was predicted. It seemed good to stay indoors.

Then…instead of that expected nasty storm…we got a day of sunshine and a high temperature in the mid-60s. Enough with the unpacking, already. I threw on a light jacket, put my phone in my pocket, and headed out to pay my first visit to “my” beach since my return.

Oh, my friends, it was glorious! The water was a deep blue-green, the breeze was gentle, and the sun so warm I took my jacket off and tied it around my waist. There were only a few people out — it was midafternoon on a weekday, after all — most of them accompanied by their dogs. It was the kind of day when strangers greet each other in passing with joyful grins and lighthearted comments, exulting in sharing such an unexpected blessing.

One woman, walking a bouncy small dog on a long leash, asked, “Did I sleep through winter?” Then, before I could respond, she said exactly what I was thinking:

         “What a gift!”

Welcome home to the sea, Sea Blue Lens.

That’s my Photo-Heart Connection for November. Come check out the linkup at Kat Eye Studio.


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Photo-Heart Connection: September 2013

DSC_2483-2Edge of the World

It’s funny how often my Photo-Heart Connection image turns out to be one that I took at the very beginning of the month. I just finished the first month of my 365 project, so I took a lot of photographs this month, and there were quite a few that I liked a lot. But when I reviewed the month, this image, taken September 1, was the one that had the most meaning for me.

That’s me sitting there — you probably knew that already — perched on the edge of the driveway, posed in front of the view that I see from my front window every day. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? The layered mountains with their ever-changing light and shadow, the wide-open sky, the rural character of the neighborhood, the horses down below peacefully enjoying their breakfast.

My mind also fills in all the things you can’t see here: the mountains that wrap the rest of the way around us, the birds, the bunnies, even the lizards and snakes and coyotes, oh my! Then there’s the cottage, perfect for my needs, everything I could desire. A charming small community. My sister and brother-in-law, their friends and extended family, all the kindest, most generous people you could imagine.

“Okay, so where’s she going with this?” you may be wondering. I’ve been asking myself that question for months. The answer is, I’m leaving. Moving back to Maine.

It wasn’t an easy decision (understatement of the decade) and I still ask myself sometimes if I’m crazy.

There is so much that is good here, so much that is beautiful, and I’m more grateful than I can say to have been able to explore and share it for the past year and a half. But my deepest heart is longing for rain, for trees, ferns, moss, and most of all, the sea. I fell head over heels in love with Maine the first time I set foot there. It somehow felt like home, like “me,” in a way no other place ever had. For twelve years it was home, and it’s calling me back now.

I had to come here, to try this, to know if it was right for me. I’ve learned a lot. I love this place, and I know I want to come here again — to visit. But I also know I have to go back, to where I’ve learned I need to be. There’s a lot of work to do to make it happen, and a lot of uncertainty at the other end. I’ll be leaving here the first week in November, returning to Maine just in time for winter.

I probably am a little crazy after all.

And that’s my Photo-Heart Connection for September. You can click HERE for this month’s linkup at Kat Eye Studio. Thanks to Kat for hosting this monthly practice and linkup!


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Windsday Walk and Click

DSC_0806Please Please Please Stop Blowing!

OK, I admit I didn’t get far for Walk and Click Wednesday this week. The weather has been chilly and the wind has been blasting for most of the past couple of weeks. It’s the kind of wind where small trees in large pots get blown right over and your patio chairs go missing. They might — if you’re lucky — be found later up against the neighbor’s fence. But in between gales I did take a stroll or two around the yard to see what was blooming.

The first stop was the apple tree outside my bedroom window. The sweet scent filled the whole back yard and there were so many bees at work that it sounded like the tree had a motor running.

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Next, the Lady Banks’ Rose. Each flower is barely an inch across, but the mass of them is amazing. They have only a slight fragrance, which in this case may be a good thing.

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There are several pots arrayed beneath the roses. These little Paludosum Daisies reseed themselves and come up every year. They’re one of my sister’s favorites and she gets excited when she sees their first tiny leaves popping up around the yard in the spring. The tiny purple flower sharing the pot is filaree, one of my favorite “weeds” — I think it’s as pretty as the daisies.

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We were all excited to see the grape hyacinth. The bulbs were planted so long ago that no one quite remembers where they came from, and this is the first time they have bloomed.

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Rosemary is a plant that does well here. It’s heat and drought tolerant and, best of all, the rabbits don’t like it! We have many varieties around the yard. They bloom in different shades of blue, but they all smell wonderful.

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This hot pink Autumn Sage is a lovely contrast to the blue rosemary. Unfortunately, the bunnies think this is delicious. I keep a cage around it, but removed it for the photo.

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My French Lavender has been blooming almost continuously since I got it last fall. The rabbits won’t eat it, but they sometimes nip off a few branches and leave them lying underneath it. Maybe each new generation has to try it for itself? Mother Rabbit: Leave that alone, you won’t like it. Baby Rabbit (trying it anyway): Ptooey! You’re right, Mama, it’s yucky.

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And have you ever seen a lavender flower really close up? They are surprisingly intricate.

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The Mexican Poppy shrub in the corner of the front yard has just begun to bloom. I love their texture. They look like crushed tissue paper, and they fade sort of like old tissue paper, too.

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The California poppies were started from a six-pack of seedlings from the nursery a few years ago. They’ve seeded themselves over a large part of the yard and spread farther every year. The rabbits don’t bother them and their cheerful orange faces are always a welcome sight.

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There’s even more, but that’s probably enough for now. Wind or no wind, I know I’m fortunate to have warmth and flowers when my friends back east are still waiting for snow to melt. I hope you enjoyed our little garden tour.

Linking with Lissa’s Walk and Click Wednesday.
laf Custom Designs


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The Long Way Home

Where we left offWhere We Left Off

It’s Walk and Click Wednesday and time to finish up that walk I started two weeks ago. I’ve left you waiting at the mailboxes long enough. Let’s venture on up that road.

DesolateDesolate

I don’t know if this place is abandoned or not, but it had a forlorn and forsaken look to it.

Good fencesBoundary

Robert Frost wrote, “Good fences make good neighbors,” in his poem “Mending Wall” but the saying has been around a lot longer than that. I thought this rail and cactus made quite a good-looking fence.

ShellShell

I’ve been curious about this little roofless building ever since I first saw it, so I decided to explore.

FramedFramed

It is, I believe, an abandoned well house. The capped-off well head can be seen inside.

TracksTracks

I walked up this small wash alongside the road. When I turned and looked back, there were many doggish tracks to be seen. My guess is coyotes — we often hear them howling at night, sometimes very close to the house.

TreasureTreasure

I found three of these old tiles in that wash and brought them home with me. Why? Well . . . I don’t know, they were interesting and . . . I guess it’s like collecting sea glass at the beach. [Susan and Jenny, stop laughing.]

Going UpGoing Up

I noticed this dirt track going up the hill. It was evident that no vehicle had been that way for a long time, so I headed up to see what I could see.

Still StandingStill Standing

This yucca was growing alongside the track, still bearing flower stalks from last year’s bloom. When I moved here near the end of last May, the hills were covered with flowering yucca. It was an amazing sight. I’m curious to see if the show will repeat this year, or if it was a special welcome just for me.

The Other Side of the MountainThe Other Side of the Mountain

It looked like there was once a structure on the top of the hill, but nothing is left but a water faucet, the foundation of a wall, and some concrete rubble. This was the view down the other side. See that fenced area on the side of the mountain over there? We can see that from our house, too, and always wondered what it was for. When I downloaded my photos and zoomed in on this image, I could just make out several horses in the upper left corner of the fence. So now we know: it’s pasture.

Eyes Upon MeThe Hills Have Eyes

Have you ever had the feeling you were being watched? I got that feeling and when I turned around was startled to see these two characters checking me out.

Looking DownLooking Down

So I headed back down and homeward again.

Horse CountryHorse Country

They’re quite serious about these signs. I often pass riders on this road.

Through the FenceThrough a Fence

Why did the photographer cross the road? To capture an irresistible vignette spotted from the other side, of course. I was seriously hoping no one from the house was watching!

Against the SkyAgainst the Sky

I turned onto a smaller side road to make that circle back home, and loved this old fence atop the roadside bank.

Gate to NowhereGate to Nowhere

Almost there! See that trail? It will take us right to the back of the garage.

Watch Where You Step!Watch Your Step!

But don’t go too fast, or you’ll miss these tiny flowers growing right in the middle of the path. Each of these blossoms was only a quarter of an inch (or less!) across.

Finish LineFinish Line

And here we are, home at last. This line of posts, all that’s left of a very old fence, marks the boundary of our property. I hope you enjoyed our little hike!

Linking with Walk and Click Wednesday, with thanks to Lissa for hosting!


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So Long, Chickadee

There will be lilacs!

There will be lilacs!

It’s official, spring has sprung. But my walk this week has me thinking back to last fall.

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Scout

In my bird book, I noted my first sighting of a Mountain Chickadee on September 19, 2012. At first there was just one, but soon we had small flocks in residence, hanging out with the house finches and white crowned sparrows.

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Mind If I Join You?

Then I began hearing an odd little tapping noise. What on earth? Oh, I see! A chickadee would pluck a hard, round seed pod (they are actually tiny cones) off the big arborvita at the corner of the house, carry it to a crape myrtle or pine branch, and hold it between his feet while pecking it open with his beak, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap.  Over the next few weeks, they stripped every seed off that tree. Only then did they join the other birds at the feeders.

One day I caught a glimpse of a bird I couldn’t identify. It looked a lot like a chickadee, but its beak was twice as long. A day or so later, I spotted another one, got a better look at it, and had to laugh–it wasn’t another species, it was just one of my little chickadees with a sunflower seed in his beak. Unlike the house finches, who crack and eat the seeds right at the feeder, the chickadees carry away one seed at a time, again finding a branch on which to peck it open.

They’re rather gregarious little birds, often chattering and scolding from a nearby branch as I sat on my patio or cleaned and refilled the bird bath. But my picture-taking efforts were frustrating. I couldn’t get very close with the camera, and they move quicker than I can aim and focus. I’ve taken dozens of images and deleted most of them.

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Please, stop wiggling!

A few days ago, I was walking around the yard with my camera, taking photos of the spring buds and blossoms that are beginning to appear, when a chickadee alighted on a branch right next to me. He watched me turn and raise the camera, and sat quietly while I took eight precious, perfect shots.

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Then — gone.

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Two days later, they were ALL gone. Every. Single. One.

God speed and fare thee well, my little friends. Thank you for your gracious parting gift. I hope to see you again come fall!

I’m linking with Lissa for Walk and Click Wednesday. This was a short walk–I didn’t even get out of my own front yard. I haven’t forgotten that I promised to take you the rest of the way home from the mail box . . . the long way . . . so we’ll do that next week.
laf Custom Designs