Sea Blue Lens


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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.


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Scene & Story, Chapter 2: October 2016

If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have already seen the image I chose for this month.

Signal FlareSignal Flare

I took this photo on the same day as my hike on the Saco Heath. I was driving home and was only two blocks from my door when I saw this flaming red vine out of the corner of my eye. I drove on home and parked the car, then ran back to frame and shoot the photo. I called it “Signal Flare” for its brilliant color, a sure sign that autumn was truly under way.

Okay, New England fall, colored leaves, pretty picture, and all that. But there’s a reason this photo is meaningful to me.

It was only early October. Virginia Creeper is one of the first plants to show its fall color and I knew there would be so much more to come. I’d already been out with my camera for a good three hours, since around sunrise, and hadn’t had breakfast or even coffee. I was tired and hungry. Surely this could wait? At least until after breakfast…and that coffee!

Better yet, how about tomorrow? (I am an excellent procrastinator.)

But somehow this felt urgent. I needed this photograph, and it couldn’t wait. I didn’t even go in the house first; I just hurried back and got my shot. And guess what? Overnight the rain came, the wind blew, and by the next morning, that vine was stripped bare. I’m so thankful that I captured it when I had the chance.

The older I get, the more conscious I become that tomorrow is a hope, not a promise. This photo is my own personal Signal Flare, a prompt not just to “seize the day” — I’d already done that — but to seize the moment when it presents itself. It may not be there later.

I know myself well enough to know that I won’t always succeed at this. I’m grateful for this image that reminds me to be present, to listen to the quiet voice of my own intuition, and to recognize and receive such fleeting gifts before they slip away.

Be sure to visit Paisley Rain Boots for Sarah’s October Scene & Story.

If you’d like to post your own “Scene & Story,” you’re more than welcome, and we’d love to know about it. We hadn’t planned on a formal linkup, but if you feel like joining in, you could leave a link to your post in the comments.


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Muted Brilliance

Where I grew up, fall was welcomed for its cooler temperatures, but there was no spectacular visual display to mark the changing season. In those “long-ago” days, grocery stores sold pumpkins to carve for Halloween, but there weren’t the festive displays that are found everywhere now. Trees? Well, their leaves just turned brown and fell off. I didn’t know anything different. I’d seen pictures of New England autumns, but they were no more real to me than fairy tales.

Now I make my home in New England — and sometimes I do feel like I’m living in a fairy tale. The fall colors are so brilliant that it’s almost a relief when the leaves finally come down, leaving a more peaceful, monochromatic landscape.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all that color. It still amazes me every year, and I run around trying to photograph it all. But once in a while comes a day of fog and misty rain that transforms and softens the colorful world around me.

dsc_0889Rain on River

dsc_0893Wet Paint

img_3875Crystal Beads

img_1586Refreshed

dsc_0898Blue Dawn

dsc_0896

Fog

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

~ Carl Sandburg