Sea Blue Lens


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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!


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Scene & Story, Chapter 3: November 2016

I will admit that November is not my favorite month. In November all those glorious autumn leaves fade and fall. The landscape’s palette turns from brilliant red, orange, and gold to drab gray and brown. Even the sky is gray. Rain soaks those fallen leaves and begins the process of turning them into mulch and humus to nourish future growth. Days grow shorter. The clock gets turned back and, where I live in southern Maine, sunset arrives about four o’clock. This November has felt especially dark. There’s no denying that winter is coming.

Last LeafLast Leaf

Even so, November can still surprise and delight. I chose this photo to represent November because for me it sums up the contradictions of the month. It was a dreary, overcast day. The overnight rain had stopped but was still dripping from every twig. Suddenly, into the reflection of gloomy gray sky and leafless branches, sailed a single yellow leaf, moving quickly with the current. One spot of bright gold, shiny as a new coin, a flash of light in the darkness. Swirling out of sight in a moment, but lingering in heart and mind, a spark of unexpected joy.

November, I might just love you after all.

Please visit my friend Sarah at Paisley Rain Boots for her November Scene and Story.


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A Lift and a Laugh

Our neighborhood supermarket is all decked out for Christmas. I popped in to pick up a few things after my fitness class this morning and I saw this:

img_1635Prettiest Poinsettia Ever

And then…this!

img_1636Ho, Ho, Ho!

I’ve never seen anything like it and was rather blown away. I wonder whose idea it was, who designed it, and who built it. A special team from the bottling company? A band of elves, perhaps? I’m picturing them standing on each other’s shoulders to reach the top, passing those cases up, up, up. I wish I could have been there to watch!

But I have a hunch that Santa still prefers milk with his cookies. That’s what he’ll find at our house, anyway.


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Soul Food

Like everyone else I know, I’ve been grieving the results of Tuesday’s election. This post will have nothing to say about that, because I have nothing to say that hasn’t already been expressed by others…many others. This post is about what I did yesterday afternoon to distract and soothe myself.

I picked up my camera and I went for a walk.

fallen leafFallen Leaf

I followed the Saco Riverwalk, which begins just a few blocks from my apartment. To get there, I had to pass the covered bridge to the little park next door, where I paused to take the photo above.

fernNext I found this delicate fern growing out of a crack in the wall of a railroad overpass.

pathWhen I got to the river walk, the path was so leaf-strewn that it was barely visible. It’s narrow and slopes steeply down to the river’s edge, so I kept my eyes on where I was placing my feet.

daisy-boulderI came across a few wildflowers still blooming. This large, round boulder is a puzzle — it looks completely out of place atop the angular granite riverbank. I wondered how it got here.

rose hipsRosa Multiflora is a terribly invasive plant, and there’s a lot of it in this area. But it is beautiful! It’s covered in tiny white flowers in the summer and masses of small red hips in the fall and winter. I’ve read that they are edible, but I’ve never tried it.

twigsMany trees have already shed their leaves. You’d think those ones at the very tips of the branches would have been the first to go, but they are hanging on tenaciously.

benchA favorite resting place. I love this view to the neighboring town across the river.

birchesThis clump of birches is one of my favorite places to take selfies. Yes, I did get my phone out of my pocket and snapped a few. Not very successfully, though – it’s a windy spot, and I couldn’t keep my hair out of my face!

bare birchesAnd here are the tops of those birches. This makes me think of spatter painting.

oak leavesThere’s not much red left, so I was especially pleased to spot these oak leaves.

dsc_0989The river widens into a little bay here and the path curves left to follow it around.

bittersweetWith apologies to my friends who have to pay florists exorbitant prices for a bit of bittersweet — this stuff is everywhere.

wall of goldAnd here the trail swings back to the right…

power easement…to follow this power line easement.

chickadeeI don’t know what those tall, auburn-colored plants alongside the trail are, but they were filled with the rustling and twittering of small birds. I saw many chickadees, busy doing whatever chickadees do in the fall, calling out their cheery little “chickadee-dee-dee.” (This image is greatly cropped, since I didn’t have my tele lens with me.)

leaf carpetAt the top of the hill, more trees and so many leaves! I sat down in the middle of these for a while, just inhaling their delicious spicy scent. The river walk has turned away from the river now, and is circling back toward town.

yellow leavesFrom here, there’s just a glimpse of the water. The tide was out so the water level was very low. (The Saco River rises and falls with the ocean tides all the way to the center of town.)

red leafOne more surprise: a single scarlet leaf on a bright golden maple tree.

trail's endAnd that brings us to the trail’s end. Those steps on the left lead up to a small parking area, where I begin my zigzag path along the neighborhood streets and sidewalks toward home.

On the way home, I looked up and saw this:

crisscross cloudsCrisscross Clouds

And an hour or so later, the day’s final gift:

sunset viewFrom My Window

I needed that, so very much. I hope it has lifted you up a little bit, too.