Sea Blue Lens


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Memories, Dreams, & Reflections 2013

When I participated in Memories, Dreams, & Reflections at the end of 2012, I had been in California for seven months. This November, after a year and a half away, I returned to Maine — yes, to stay, as far as I know. Needless to say, this has been an eventful year. It’s not easy to sum up a year in a couple dozen photos, but I recently reread last year’s post and enjoyed revisiting those photographic memories so much that it seems worth doing again.

Without further ado, here’s my year in review:

1. Me!

DSC_2481Over My Shoulder

Sometimes life presents hard choices. The biggest accomplishment I achieved this year was moving back to Maine. It was a difficult and painful decision, and not only for me, but it feels right and I’m glad I made it happen. Can you believe I gave up this view?

2. I Love You

IMG_1270Hangin’ Out with My Boys 49/365

While I was in California, I got to visit with my son and his son. This is one of my favorite photos of that trip — and of the year.

3. Still Laughing…

DSC_2904Bunny Hop

DSC_3479The Creatures Are Stirring 96/365

These both make me laugh. I couldn’t decide so you get to choose! I told the story of the squirrel here if you’d like to see more.

4. Winter Wonderland

DSC_0265-2Snow Birds

DSC_0214Red Barn

These are from last January and February. Snow does fall in southern California. The difference is that it will be gone in a few hours, while here in Maine it will most likely be a few weeks. Notice I didn’t say “months” — I’m choosing to be optimistic.

5. Birthday

P1030590On the Trail

On my sister’s birthday last spring, we went out to eat and then, at her special request, went for a walk in Placerita Canyon. It was a perfect day to be out for a bit of exercise in a beautiful natural setting, which was exactly what she wanted. Happy Birthday, Sis!

6. Friends

P1040177Boy Fun

Unlike his grandmother, my grandson is the opposite of shy, instantly making friends wherever he goes. He and another little boy had both brought a few matchbox cars with them to the park. It took about 30 seconds for them to connect and begin digging holes and building roads together in the sand.

7. I Was Inspired… 

New DayNew Day

My home in southern California was in an amazing setting, which inspired me to take what I think might be some of my best photos ever. I entered this one in a contest for a community fund-raising calendar. I was proud that it was selected for the month of August — and stunned that it was also chosen for the cover!

Maine is a place of great natural beauty which can easily be taken for granted. I’m hoping that seeing it again with my “new eyes” will result in fresh images from my camera.

8. Spring Fever

IMG_0697Desert Lilacs

I was overwhelmed by the sight and scent of a lilac farm last spring, right in the small town where I lived. I grew up in California and Nevada and never saw lilacs until I moved to the east coast. It was such an unexpected delight to discover them in Acton, California!

9. Travel or Vacation

P1040097Bart’s Books

My sister and I finally got to visit Ojai! I’ve wanted to go there for years, specifically to go to the famous Bart’s Books, a huge open air used bookstore. It was wonderful — room after outdoor room filled with every kind of book you could imagine. You can buy a book even when the store is closed. There are bookshelves built into the exterior wall (which is more of a fence than a wall) and a box on the door to drop payment into. Here’s a shot of just a small part of the inside:

P1040098Where To Start?

It was hard to drag ourselves away, and we both had an armload of treasures when we finally left.

10. Summer Days

DSC_2477Dang, It’s Warm Out

He’s not singing. You know it’s hot when even the roadrunner is panting for relief.

11. A Day In My Life

IMG_1986Tools of the Trade

Well, it’s not really my trade. But it is a big part of my daily life: taking photos, working with them in Lightroom, and posting them to my blog or my 365 group on Flickr. I will be looking for real work soon, so this is likely to be a very different picture next year. <Sigh.>

12. All Smiles

IMG_1276Together

Don’t you just love iPhone selfies? No, me neither. This is awful. But it’s my grandson and me, together. And that’s pretty wonderful.

13. Autumn Harvest

IMG_1417Balancing Act

You know Mermaid Girl here had to love this fall display in front of our favorite tea house! It seemed as if it must have been put there specifically to welcome me back to Maine.

14. Family or Home

IMG_1658With Thankful Heart 89/365

The first thing I do after a move, of course, is to make the bed. But after that, the first room I put in order here was the living room, to give both body and spirit a place of rest and refuge amidst the chaos of unpacking and organizing the rest of the house. The beautiful fireplace is really the icing on the cake for me.

15. Celebrate!

IMG_1502Gift of Flight

It’s not often you get a day like this one in mid-November in Maine. It was sunny and so warm that I dropped my unpacking and headed for the beach to celebrate my Maine homecoming. Watching these graceful birds soar and dive in and out of the waves made me feel like flying myself.

16. Let’s Do It Again…

IMG_1662A Snapshot of Modern Life 90/365

In November four of us went to the tea house in Limerick, Maine. While we waited for our lunch to be served, we amused ourselves by simultaneously taking photos of each other with our cell phones. Good friends, good food, good fun = good times. I’m looking forward to doing it again soon.

17. I Miss You

IMG_0747The Mighty Hunters

These are two of my sister and brother-in-law’s three dogs. They love to chase the ground squirrels, who often take refuge in the wisteria. The dogs can’t reach them there, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to bark them down. These silly girls were a big part of my everyday world in California, and I miss them. It goes without saying that they aren’t the only ones I miss.

18. Beautiful

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It snowed like crazy on my birthday, but the next day looked like this. Pretty nice present, huh?

19. Dress Up

IMG_1802. . . And No Place To Go

My daughter unaccountably loves Hello Kitty. Here she is trying on the latest in HK pajamas. In public, in JC Penney’s sleepwear department. A man walking by thought she was a manikin and was quite startled when she moved and spoke. I tried to suggest that she might be too old for Hello Kitty pj’s, but she responded that if that were the case, they wouldn’t make them in her size. I guess she’s got a point.

20. Macro

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I took several photos of these pretty little purple and yellow flowers, and I almost deleted this one because the flowers were out of focus. Then I noticed the fascinating seedhead, which I hadn’t even seen at the time. A bit of cropping produced this, my favorite image of the shoot.

21. Holidays

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I bought this little figurine for my son’s first Christmas, and have put it out every year since, even those years when I haven’t done any other decorating at all. It was 45 years old this Christmas. I can’t figure out how that could be possible.

22. My Favorite

mooncradleEmbrace

How do you choose one favorite image from over 6,000 photographs? I picked this one because it reminds me of the effort I put into learning something I’d wanted to do for years — photographing the full moon and incorporating it into other images. I wrote about it back in June. I remember how good it felt to challenge myself and achieve that goal!

23. Don’t Ever Change

IMG_1889-2Timeless

It’s hard to put into words what this photograph represents for me. Maine is not my native environment, but there is something about it that reaches into the deepest parts of my soul. The changing seasons, the trees, the light, even the architecture somehow just feel right to me. This is a photo of the neighbor’s garage — just a snapshot, really. But I love the delicate tracery of the bare trees, the simple lines of the roof, the decorative cupola reaching for the sky, and that late afternoon sunlight casting long glowing shadows across the cold clean snow. My love for this place never changes, only grows.

24. Just Because…So There!

IMG_1942Solitude. Silence. Serenity.

25. Hopes and Dreams

P1030830Promises to Keep

I thought I’d close with an antidote to all those cold snowy images, with a look back to summer’s warmth, a reminder that it will come again. There are many uncertainties ahead as I think about the year to come. I’m not facing them with anxiety, but looking forward to seeing the possibilities unfold. I want to explore, to be willing to try new things, to say “Yes!” to prospects that might be scary or challenging. To send my roots deep, turn my face to the sun, and grow.

May we all have a happy, healthy, creative, and prosperous New Year!

I’m joining the Memories, Dreams, & Reflections 2013 linkup at Ramblings and Photos. Ashley, thank you for once again hosting this thought-provoking retrospective of the year in photos.


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Holiday Scavenger Hunt: 12.22.13

Hard to believe it’s only three days til Christmas. My holidays are usually small and quiet and I’m feeling ready now. The decorations — not many, but enough — are up. Gifts have been wrapped and placed under the tree or mailed to far-off places. I’ve enjoyed shopping with my daughter, and getting together with friends for a meal or a movie or just a cup of tea and a chat. On Christmas morning presents will be opened in front of the fire, in pajamas, accompanied by carols on the stereo.

Meanwhile, there’s still time for Scavenger Hunt Sunday! This week’s list includes: Lights, Tree, Big, Makes You Feel Merry, and On the Door. Let’s see what we can find.

Lights

DSC_3706Lighting Up the Night

It would not be my choice to leave this light on all night, but the other tenants and the landlord like the security it provides. We had more snow Tuesday night, and the warmth of the bulb caused the falling flakes to melt and icicles to form on the cover.

Tree

DSC_3746‘Tis the Season 112/365

A friend hung these ornaments on the bare branches of a small tree in her front yard. I loved the unexpected color against the wintery woods on a cold, drippy morning.

Big

DSC_3688Red Door

Big house, big yard, big snow (another 10 inches), big blue sky, big trees and a big shadow.

Makes You Feel Merry

DSC_3743Highways and Byways

Waking up to fresh, fluffy snow and seeing that the squirrels have already plowed their way between the trees and the house made me laugh. The one you see climbing the trunk had just jumped from the roof into the snow, disappearing completely for a second or two before digging his way out and rejoining the main “road.” You can see where he landed and came up again in the foreground of this photo. The interesting thing is that they NEVER jump off the roof onto the bare ground. How do you suppose they know it’s okay to do it into the soft snow?

I love the squirrels and birds and all the wonders and mysteries of nature that surround me wherever I am. They make my heart merry in every season of the year.

On the Door

DSC_3734Simplicity

On the front door is a simple balsam wreath adorned with a red velvet bow. In typical Maine fashion, only the mailman and strangers ever come to the front door. Rather a shame, really, because it’s such an elegant entry.

That’s it for my official scavenger finds, but I’ll leave you with one more that actually incorporates most of the prompts in one image:

IMG_1799Pink Santa 108/365

Lights – check
Tree – check
Big – sigh of relief to have the tree done, check
Makes You Feel Merry – ho, ho, ho! check
On the Door – well . . . Santa won’t have to knock on the door, cuz I have a chimney for him to come down. Check?

Wishing those of you who celebrate Christmas a happy and blessed one, and to all a happy Winter Solstice. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, that’s something to rejoice about!

Come check out this week’s linkup at Ramblings & Photos.


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Snowy Scavenging: 12.15.13

The promised winter storm arrived right on schedule, and we got over a foot of snow between last night and noon today. Nevertheless, I’m going on the Sunday Scavenger Hunt. I’m just not going to leave the house to do it! This week’s search items were: The Weather Today, R is for…, Green, Joy, and Drink. Here we go!

The Weather Today:

IMG_1791-2Yup. It’s Winter.

Today’s weather is…about 14 inches deep and 14 degrees Fahrenheit. This is not a black and white photo — it was just a black and white day. This was taken right after the snowplow guy did our driveway at 6:00 this morning. I’m not sure it helped much, and I’m truly grateful that I don’t have to go anyplace today!

(PS – He’s been back twice since and it looks much better now. I think we could get out if we had to!)

R is for…:

DSC_3652Raptor

I believe this is a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. He was perched in a pine in the back yard. Anyone who’s followed my blog for a while knows how I love my birds! I was really thrilled to see this one.

Green:

DSC_3662Decking the Halls

Christmas with its lights and colorful decorations is the perfect holiday for wintertime, especially on a day like this when the whole outdoor world is rendered in shades of black, white, and grey.

Joy:

DSC_3669Spirits of Christmas Past

Sometimes, even for a grownup, a toy can bring joy. The other day I was browsing through a large display of stuffed animals in a store, picking up this one and that, thinking of various people who might like one. Suddenly I spotted this one, the only one of its kind on display. It looks so much like a dear little dog I used to have that it felt like a gift from her own sweet self. Now she sits on the shelf with my childhood books (we always got books for Christmas!), and I smile every time I see her.

Drink:

DSC_3671Keep Calm and ….

Tea is soothing, warming, comforting, even healing. I love tea and always keep the makings close at hand.

That’s a wrap for this week. Have you tried Scavenger Hunt Sunday yet? It’s fun! Here’s the linkup for this week.


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Scavenger Hunt Monday: 12.9.13

It’s been a long time since I did Scavenger Hunt Sunday, and here I am jumping back in a day late. I happened to run across the prompt list this week and could immediately think of images for each one. It’s not often that happens, so how could I resist? This week’s items were: Where I Stood, Silver, Tiny, In the Cupboard, and Shadow. Where I Stood:

DSC_3579At Home

I’ve had this very old rug for many years, and it now graces the floor in my living room. This is the first place I’ve ever lived where it looked like it truly belonged.

Silver:

DSC_3548Found Treasure

As I was moving in and exploring this old house, I discovered this pitcher tucked back in the corner of a cupboard. I told the landlady about it, thinking she might have overlooked it when they moved out, but she said no, she’d left it on purpose and I could have it if I wanted it. On cleaning it up I discovered the silver was mostly worn off, but there’s enough left to give it a bit of sparkle, and I love the worn patina. I’m keeping it, thank you very much!

Tiny:

DSC_3564“From Tiny Acorns….”

At the farmers market this weekend, I discovered another treasure — little felted acorns glued into real acorn caps. This will be going on my Christmas tree.

In the Cupboard:

DSC_3556A Place for Everything

The title for this photo comes from something my sister said. I left my china cabinet behind when I moved from California back to Maine. When I got here, I discovered I had a built-in china closet in the dining room. My sis was commenting on how, no matter where I live, all my “stuff” seems to fit perfectly and looks like it belongs there.

Shadow:

Nostalgia 99-365Nostalgia 99/365

On Saturday, my daughter and I paid a visit to one of our favorite antiques malls. I was looking for a crystal bowl, similar to one my sister has that belonged to our Mom. Somehow I knew I was going to find it, yet I was still amazed when I really did. The pattern is a bit different, but it’s the exact same size and shape, and has the same bell-like ring when flicked with a fingernail. And even though it’s not Mom’s, it will still remind me of her every time I look at it. It feels almost like a gift from her to me.

And that’s a wrap for my Sunday-on-Monday Scavenger Hunt. I’m running over now to join the linkup while I still can!


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Randomosity: SHS 6.23.13

At first I didn’t think I’d be able to come up with anything for this week’s Scavenger Hunt Sunday prompts. But after missing last week, I decided to try just a little harder to find some fitting images. Perhaps some of them are stretching it a bit, but at least I’m here! The words this week are Fun, Arts & Crafts, Messy, Blessing, and Effort.

Fun:

DSC_1937 FunWhat the Heck?

OK, I admit it — I have  a strange idea of fun. I was outside in my little fenced garden area when I spotted these leaves with a clump of feathers stuck to them lying on the ground. Doesn’t it look like some sort of alien creature? — though it doesn’t appear that our atmosphere agrees with it. I laid it on this plank and took several photos to preserve it in case future scientists want to study it.

Arts & Crafts:

125_2546_r1 sketchSketchy

Arts and crafts aren’t really my thing. I love art supplies and have lots of them, but seldom use them. I’m hoping this will count. The photo is an old one, as my friends in Maine will recognize immediately — this clock tower was decapitated several years ago — but it’s newly processed. I recently learned how to do this sketch-like post-processing (thanks to my friend Brenda at How to Feather an Empty Nest) and this was my favorite of the images I tried it out on. I really liked the way it turned out. It’s pretty arty, right?

Messy:

DSC_1911 RR windowDay of Rest

Last Sunday I took a nap on the couch, and woke up to a strange tapping noise at the window. The curtains were closed but I parted them and peeked out to see TWO roadrunners up on the window ledge. They seemed to be pecking at their own reflections on the glass. While I slipped away for my camera, one of them hopped down and left. The other one quickly followed, but I managed to get this one photo first. So where’s the “messy”? I’m glad you can’t see the rest of that windowsill. I really need to get out the vacuum.

Blessing:

DSC_1210 blessingTranquility Base

This was an easy one. The peace that descends at day’s end is always a blessing.

Effort:

DSC_2091 supermoonBella Luna

My sister chose the name for this image. I’ve never been successful at photographing the moon, and I put a lot of effort into trying to get some good shots of this month’s “super moon.” This was taken with my Nikon D5100 with 55-200mm lens (at maximum zoom) on a tripod. I cropped and adjusted for contrast and clarity in Lightroom. I have plans for some further experimentation with the photos I took that I hope to post later.

This week’s challenges turned out to be fun after all. Here’s the Scavenger Hunt Sunday linkup – come check it out!

PS – Happy Birthday, Ashley!


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On the Hunt 6.9.13

It’s Sunday and Scavenger Hunt time again! This week’s prompts were an interesting bunch: Dishes, Favorite Color, Sunflare, Expression, and Sticky. Without further preamble, here we go.

Dishes:

DSC_1793Mystery Dish

I’m fascinated by this bowl that my sister bought at a rummage sale this spring. It’s about 8 inches across, a bit uneven, crudely hand decorated. It’s old and much used — the blue-green inner glaze is scratched and dull and the top edge is chipped and worn all the way around, as if it had been used for years to hold keys and change. It has no identifying markings on it. It’s probably a souvenir from someone’s trip to Chinatown years ago, but it’s more fun to imagine that it was unearthed on an archeological dig somewhere in far-off Asia.

Favorite Color:

DSC_1743Pretty in Pink

It’s not very sophisticated of me to admit it, but I love pink in all its many incarnations. Cool pink, warm pink, hot pink, these oleanders have it all. I also happen to love oleanders; their sweet scent transports me back to childhood summers. Where I grew up, they were just about the only flowering plant I knew. They’re supposed to be poisonous and we knew better than to put them in our mouths, but that didn’t stop us from playing in and under and around them. I used to weave the leaves into floor mats for fairy houses.

Sunflare:

DSC_1773-2Rim Shot

DSC_1762Little Green Apples

Our apple tree, which earlier in the spring was loaded with blossoms and bees, is now loaded with fruit. It looks like we’ll have a bumper crop along about September. I don’t often go out to deliberately create sunflare, but I had fun playing with my camera and the late afternoon sun under the apple tree for this prompt.

Expression:

DSC_1688What You Lookin’ At?

I don’t know, do birds have expressions? This one sure seemed to. He helped himself to dinner, then sat on the perch for another five minutes, grooming himself and stretching this way and that, before humming off to wherever.

Sticky:

DSC_1638Opal Essence

These sparkling gems are actually drops of pine sap, fallen from a freshly trimmed tree limb. Anyone who has ever gotten this stuff on their hands knows that it is practically the definition of sticky.

And that’s my take on the hunt for this week. Linking with Ashley for Scavenger Hunt Sunday — come along and join in the fun!


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Terrible Beauty: SHS 6.2.13

It’s a different kind of Scavenger Hunt Sunday this week. We don’t have any prompts except “Photographer’s Choice” — we’re meant to choose our five favorite photos of the week, of any subject we like.

Late Thursday afternoon, heading home after a shopping trip, I saw smoke rising beyond the horizon and pulled over to snap a photo with my iPhone.

IMG_0794-2Uh oh.

As soon as I got home I checked the television news to find out what was happening. A wildfire had begun about an hour earlier in the Angeles National Forest, about 16 miles northwest of here as the crow flies. (We are not in danger.) It’s being called the Powerhouse fire.

About ten minutes later, I took this photo from behind the garage . . .

IMG_0797-2

. . . and then over the next hour and a half I watched in horrified fascination as smoke spread across the clear blue sky, first casting shadows on the hills and then blotting out the sun.

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Colors were changing moment by moment,  morphing from the yellow-green of an old bruise to brilliant red-orange, washing everything in a red glow.

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By sunset, the smoke cloud had covered nearly the entire sky.

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I woke up during that night and the wind was calm, the smell of fire heavy in the air. By morning, a breeze from the opposite direction had cleared away the sight and scent of smoke, though the fire continues to burn even now.  Every change in the wind brings more or less smoke over and around us.

Tonight (Saturday) the setting sun was tinting a few puffy clouds high in the sky, while a shift in the wind was bringing the smoke back, this time across the northern sky.

DSC_1732

So far over 5500 acres (Update Sunday morning – almost 20,000 acres now) have burned, including some structures, and three firefighters injured. I’m praying for the protection and well-being of the firefighters and the people, animals, and property that are threatened. I’m praying for rain, though that isn’t likely. I’m praying at least that the winds be calm.

I’m praying that soon there will be nothing in the sky to photograph but birds, clouds, and beautiful natural sunsets.

Even though I’ve cheated a bit (too many photos), I’m linking with Ashley’s Scavenger Hunt Sunday at Ramblings & Photos.