Sea Blue Lens


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Photo-Heart Connection: October 2013

Kurt_UlysHangin’ Out With My Boys 49/365

This month’s Photo-Heart Connection image chose itself. In the midst of packing and preparing for my imminent move back to the East Coast, I took a few days off and drove up to Santa Cruz to visit my son and grandson. It’s a beautiful area, and I took a lot of photos. It was a good trip.

I loved watching my son and his son interact — he clearly adores that little boy. I took this photo with my iPhone as we were walking to the nearby train station to watch the steam train my boys call Thomas come in. My grandson is dressed proudly in his engineer’s overalls. A fascination with trains, especially old-fashioned steam locomotives, runs deep through several generations of men in the family.

It was hard to walk away from the chaos of getting ready for a cross-country move, to take the time out for that drive north. but I’m so glad I did it. That’s usually the case when I finally do something I’ve spent a lot of energy agonizing over in advance. That’s a lesson I wish I could learn once and for all, so I could stop all the angst beforehand. But that’s not really the Photo-Heart Connection here.

The deep connection is the family connection. Our history and the ties that bind. And the reminder that no matter which coast I live on, a part of my heart is going to be missing the other one, and the loved ones left behind there. Short of cloning myself, there doesn’t seem to be any solution to that dilemma.

And now, back to the packing. It’s almost finished. The next time you hear from me, I’ll be back in Maine.

That’s my PHC for October. You can join in on this monthly linkup yourself at The 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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Photo-Heart Connection: August 2013

IMG_1039 NestNest

This is one of the images from my every-day-in-August series that I wrote about in my last post. Towards the end of the month, it occurred to me that most of my photos so far had been taken outside, so I looked around the living room for potential subjects. I’m not much for setting up still lifes, so I wanted a subject I could shoot as-is, in available light.

Aha! The bookcase. My little bird’s nest under glass. Last year, when I discovered this little domed glass dish with a perky little bird perched on top, I just had to buy it. Inside it I keep a little nest that I found on a walk during my first visit here four years ago. It’s woven from grass and pine needles and tiny twigs, and lined with something coarse and fuzzy like raw wool. The eggs in the nest are from my sister’s cockatiel, who tries to make babies a couple of times a year even though she has no mate.

The resulting photo made me happy the moment I saw it. What surprised me about this picture is how real and three-dimensional the background appears. The rock and ferns are actually one of my own photographs, printed on canvas, which leans against the back of the bookcase. The light in that print seems to be coming from the same direction as the light from the window reflected on the glass, melding the two separate elements into a whole that enhances both of them.

This photograph combines a bit of my life in Maine (the photo on canvas) with my life here in California (the glass dome and nest), illustrating and expressing my love of nature, birds, and, of course, photography. It has enabled me to see a little collection of familiar odds and ends in a new way that makes me appreciate them even more. It reminds me to savor the small, simple things that bring me joy and connect my heart to the everyday world around me.

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


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Photo-Heart Connection: July 2013

DSC_2252_BlueRoseSummertime Blues

It’s been over a month since I last posted here. Last month, I missed (skipped, actually) the Photo-Heart Connection linkup altogether. I just couldn’t get myself inspired by any of the images I’d taken, and I’m still having the same problem. I’m in a slump.

The image above doesn’t exactly make my heart sing, but it says something about my world this July. This was taken mid-month. I looked out the window from my desk and saw an odd spot of bright blue in the yard. I went out to see what it was and discovered this stunningly fake rose blossom lying on the ground. Where did it come from? I have no idea. No doubt the wind dropped it there.

You can see in the photo how dry the ground is. In July, our well went dry for the first time ever. The well serviceman who came to check the pump gave us the bad news and said it’s been happening all over the area. Now we’re having water delivered by truck. I wash my dishes in a bucket so I can pour the water onto my plants afterwards. And I dream of rain.

I do have some real roses, planted in pots and set up on a bench where the rabbits can’t get at them.  Unfortunately, something else could, and did. Every leaf, every bud, gone — stripped down to bare stems. Almost everything we plant gets its own little fence to keep the rabbits out. Yesterday, I saw a ground squirrel inside one of those fences, lunching on my portulaca. Again, every bud and flower, gone. Maybe I should try planting blue silk roses.

In July, wild things began invading my personal space. I discovered a tarantula in the hallway near my bedroom door. My brother-in-law caught it and released it far down the hill. Birds kept flying or falling into the exhaust pipe for my stove hood and getting trapped. We set them free. Something began bumping around in the attic space over my head. Squirrels, we thought. So we put up a trap and after several days caught the culprit — not a squirrel but a big fat rat. Can I just say, UGH! OK, at least it’s gone. Except after two days . . . the pitter-patter of little feet is back. So is the trap.

I’ve been feeling as out of place (and out of sorts) as that crazy blue rose. But . . . I know this will pass. The last few days have brought cooler, fresher temperatures, a whisper of fall-to-come. We even got a few drops of rain, see?

DSC_2313_Raindrops

Literally, just a few drops, but welcome. I’m going to try to look up, to appreciate the wild visitors to my birdbath and feeders rather than focus on the invaders. I will count the blessings of sunshine, fair weather, and the beautiful blue of the summer sky. It’s a new day and a whole new month.

DSC_2298_Clouds

Linking with Kat Sloma’s Photo-Heart Connection for July. I always (well, almost always!) enjoy this monthly chance to review my photos and muse about the one that speaks to my heart in a special way.


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Photo-Heart Connection: May 2013

raindropsRain, Rain

Do you remember the old children’s rhyme that goes:

Rain, Rain, go away!

Come again some other day.

As I looked through my photographs taken in May, searching for the one that resonated most with my heart, I realized that I’d photographed smoke in the sky from three different wildfires during the month. And it’s not even summer yet.

Before I moved here I looked up climate statistics for the area and learned that the average annual rainfall was between 8-1/2 and 9 inches. Pretty arid, right? Well, yesterday I looked up some recent actual rainfall statistics. In the year before I moved here, only 4 inches fell. And in the year since I came, we have had only 2.03 inches. That’s right, two inches of rain for the entire year.

It’s no wonder the squirrels and rabbits are eating every green thing they can reach in the garden, even things they normally don’t care for, like sage and lavender. There’s not much for them anywhere else.

So you can understand why, when I woke up on the morning of May 6 and saw raindrops suspended from the tips of the pine needles, I grabbed my camera to memorialize the occasion. We got a grand total of .06 inches (1.5 mm) that day. There’s been none since. It looks like it’s going to be a long summer.

Rain, Rain, come, I pray!

You are welcome any day.

Linking with Kat Eye Studio for the May Photo-Heart Connection. Anyone is welcome to join in — come check it out.


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Photo-Heart Connection: April 2013

DSC_1038Awwww!

I know, right? So adorable. I love these little creatures.

But . . . (isn’t there always a “but”?) they are very destructive. They dig huge holes. They reproduce like…rabbits! They consume every green thing they can find, including garden plants and the bark of young trees. Sometimes I hate these little creatures.

But . . . they were here first. They are only trying to survive. They get hungry and thirsty just like I do. They are living the only way they know how, in the only place they have.

They know their place in the world. They don’t question the purpose of their lives. Sometimes I envy them that.

Besides, no one who’s read Watership Down can ever really hate rabbits.

Just look at him up there. He really is adorable. Love always wins out.

And that’s my Photo-Heart Connection for April. Click on over and check out this month’s linkup.


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Photo-Heart Connection: March 2013

DSC_0269Illumination

This photograph is a mystery to me. I walked into my living room one afternoon and was immediately attracted by this shadow on the wall. I picked up my camera and took three shots of it, then went on about my business. It wasn’t until I reviewed the images that the mystery occurred to me.

Where did that light come from?

This pottery jar of dried California buckwheat has been sitting in this spot on my mantel since fall. My fireplace spans a corner of the living room and is the one spot in the room that receives no direct light at all. Ever. The only explanation I can think of is that the afternoon sun must have bounced off my car in the driveway and reflected through the window and into the corner. But I’ve never seen it before or since, and when I peer through the window from the outside, I can’t even see the mantel.

So there you go. There is a perfectly rational explanation — probably. But the point is that I don’t need an explanation. I like the mystery of it. This photo reminds me that there are things in this world that don’t have easy or pat explanations. There are many things I don’t understand or have the answers to. That’s okay. I don’t need to have all the answers.

I just want to be ready to catch the light when it comes.

Linking with Kat Sloma’s Photo-Heart Connection, a monthly practice of journaling about the one photograph I’ve taken during the month that speaks most strongly to my heart.


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Photo-Heart Connection: February 2013

DSC_0021Juvenile Cooper’s Hawk

I knew when I took this photo in early February that it would be my choice for this month’s Photo-Heart Connection, and I’ve been saving it to share today.

Isn’t he (or she) magnificent? To give you an idea of scale, the bird bath is 18 inches across and is only 15 feet from my front door.  I was at my desk when I glanced up and saw him. I slowly and carefully reached for my camera and took half a dozen quick shots as he lingered there.

The blurs in the foreground are caused by the top of a garden gate that’s adjacent to the window. I knew he could see me through the window and was afraid if I stood up for a clearer shot that he would fly away — and that’s exactly what happened when I tried it. I’m glad I took my “insurance shots” first.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I love the whole variety of birds and other creatures that inhabit this space with us. Their voices and antics entertain and delight me every single day.

But hawks — like wolves — epitomize wildness to me. There is something so incongruous about this huge, beautiful wild thing perching on my little domestic bird bath! I can’t put into words the feeling it gives me, like something is going to explode in my chest. Perhaps he stirs a secret wildness in my own heart.

I watch in astonishment and awe, honored that he would stop by my tiny oasis in the desert. Welcome, welcome, my friend. Come back any time!

Linking to Kat Sloma’s Photo-Heart Connection for February.


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Photo-Heart Connection: January 2013

When I looked over my images from January to choose the one that stood out from the rest, this is what jumped out at me:

Whither Goest Thou?

Whither Goest Thou?

I know, what the heck is that?

I was sitting at my desk in front of the window, working away at the computer, when a flash of something white in the sky caught my eye. It was a flock of birds, shining in the sun, moving fast. I’d never seen anything like them here before, so I grabbed my point and shoot camera, which happened to be sitting on my desk, and ran for the door. I zoomed to maximum telephoto and grabbed this one shot just before they flew out of sight behind the mountains. I wasn’t trying for art, I was really just hoping to get enough to be able to identify the birds.

So here they are, cropped for a better look. Now can you tell what they are?

It's a Mystery

It’s a Mystery

How about now?

Seriously?

Seriously?

That’s right — seagulls. What?

I live in the DESERT. The ocean is about fifty miles west of here, as the crow…er, seagull flies. But these guys were heading east, toward more desert. Where were they coming from? Why did they leave there? Where were they going? What did they find on their journey?

These are thoughts I’ve been pondering in regards to my own life. My word, my theme for this year is “Explore.” I want to explore the the world around me:  see new places, meet new people, learn new things, take new photographs, read new books, think new thoughts. I want to fly in new and unexpected directions.

This is not exactly natural behavior for me. I’m an introvert, and can be a bit shy, though I usually hide it pretty well. Trying something I’ve never done before, or going someplace I’ve never been before is not easy. It always scares me a little.

I think I’ll pretend to be a seagull, sailing over brown hills, looking for blue water. Maybe I’ll pick up a few friends along the way who’d like to share the journey.

Linking with Kat Eye Studio’s Photo-Heart Connection for January.

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Photo-Heart Connection: November

Apples & Oranges

Apples & Oranges

This month’s Photo-Heart Connection for me is about embracing change. This year has been full of changes in my life, and this photograph illustrates some of those changes for me.

It’s impossible not to make comparisons between where I was and where I am now. But it’s as futile as comparing apples to oranges. They are so different that there is no comparison. Both are complete and good in themselves.

This image also includes the old and the new. The cut crystal bowl was Mom’s and has been around as long as I can remember. The crystal candlestick is one of a pair, modern and simple in style, that I bought shortly before my move. I love the way the unity of material and the sparkling light pull them together in spite of their differences.

* * * * *

The Next Day: A Photo-Heart Confession

So there I was last night, waxing all philosophical and poetic about my picture of a bowl of fruit on my table. I couldn’t think of how to wrap it up, so I saved my draft and went to bed.

When I woke up this morning, I suddenly realized what really drew my heart to this image out of all the photos I took in November. It wasn’t anything deep and philosophical at all. It was the vibrant and joyous color and light. It’s sunshine in a bowl. That was what made me take the photo in the first place.

Those other things also happen to be true, but they are afterthoughts, and perhaps “over-thoughts.” The real reason I’m drawn to this image is simply this:

It makes my heart glad.

I’m linking with Kat Sloma’s Photo-Heart Connection for November.