Sea Blue Lens


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Photo-Heart Connection: August 2014

I took the photo below exactly one year ago today. I walked outside, put my camera on a tripod, and took this photograph of myself standing in front of the view I saw every day from my home.

My World 1-365September 1, 2013:  My World [1/365]

I’d been invited to join a small group of photographers who were going to take a photo every day and post it in a Flickr group. It was my first 365 project, and I had no idea if I could do it. Of the dozen who formed the group, eight finished out the year.

This was my final image, taken yesterday, of me in front of the view I see from my windows now:

My World Redux 365-365August 31, 2014:  My World Redux [365/365]

I decided a couple of weeks ahead of time what I wanted to do for my last photo:  to echo the first one. I even deliberately wore the same outfit. I wanted to bring the project full circle for myself, back to where I started — yet, in more ways than just location, very far from that starting point.

My Photo-Heart Connection this month celebrates that journey. I’m a person who has trouble making commitments, following through, and completing things I start. Not things I’m doing for other people — I’m very diligent and  responsible, then — but personal projects. I’m really proud of sticking with it all the way through this 365. But I doubt that I could have done it alone.

Perhaps the best part of the experience has been the bond formed with my fellow participants over the past year. Some I was already acquainted with online, and some were strangers to me when we started. Their comments, critiques, and encouragement kept me going, and kept me photographing, through the physical and emotional chaos of three moves, four seasons, and various dramas and traumas. We’re not strangers anymore.

It’s been a joy and a privilege to see their images every day, with mine amongst them, and to witness their (our!) photographic growth over the year. They have inspired me to try new subjects and techniques and to step outside my comfort zone. I’ve learned things that surprised me about my own photography, and I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn!

I’m not planning to start another 365, at least not right now. I have other projects to work on, and I’d like to get back to blogging more regularly, too. But completing this project, this year of photos, with these people, has changed me, and I’m grateful for it. It’s going to linger with me for a long, long time.

Thanks to Kat Sloma for continuing to host the Photo-Heart Connection linkup each month. This is my Connection for August.


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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

DSC_3688Shadow Play 107/365

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

DSC_2832What Comes After 20/365

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

IMG_1858Angel Baby 113/365

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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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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Turn, Turn, Turn

This song keeps running through my head: To everything (turn, turn, turn) there is a season (turn, turn, turn) and a time for every purpose under Heaven. My favorite season has just begun. Fall always makes me feel a bit melancholy, yet excited and happy about the changes and new beginnings that always seem to hum in the air at this time of year.

DSC_2849 misty morningMisty Morning  21/365

The last day of summer dawned cloudy and cool, with fog veiling the mountains. By mid-morning it had burned off, leaving a clear blue sky and a sun already shifting to the south. The air is cooler but the light itself seems to have a warmer, more golden quality even at midday.

DSC_2772 blackbirdWatcher

A few flora are flourishing despite the drought:

IMG_1104 yellow daisiesYellow Spiny Daisy

DSC_2833 purple astersMystery Aster

California Buckwheat 23-365California Buckwheat 23/365

Fauna are frolicking in the cooler weather:

DSC_2805 NiñaKickin’ It Up

DSC_2904 bunny hopThe Bunny Hop

Fall visitors are coming back:

DSC_2894 Nutall'sWoodpeckers and Finches and Sparrows, Oh My!

I’ve seen male and female Nuttall’s Woodpeckers here before, but only one at a time. I was really excited to spot this pair in our Charlie Brown tree on the first day of fall.

DSC_2887 WC sparrowRight on Cue

This little guy, the first of the season, showed up the same day, just hours after I said to my daughter, “I hope the White-Crowned Sparrows come back soon.” They winter over here but leave in spring to spend the summer elsewhere — probably somewhere cooler, if they are at all sensible. I haven’t seen one since April. I don’t know why I like them so much. They sing the same few notes over and over, but it always makes me smile to hear it.

And last but not least, the apples have been harvested. We had plenty of help:

DSC_2446 apple birds

DSC_2565 bunny apple

DSC_2656 squirrel apple

But we did manage to salvage a few for ourselves.

DSC_2867 apple basketLast of the Harvest  22/365

At the beginning of September I began a 365 project, my first, with a small group of online friends. It has so far truly been a gift of grace, keeping my interest in photography up even while other concerns are occupying much of my thoughts and time. I thought I might feel intimidated by the group, whose work I already knew and admired, but instead I’m loving it! I’m being inspired and uplifted every day by their photography, while learning to look wider and go deeper with my own. I can’t think of a better new beginning for this fall.


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Summer’s End

IMG_0936-2evening starEvening Star (August 8)

Wow, August is almost over and didn’t it go by fast?! Though I haven’t been posting, I have been taking photos.

I have to admit that I’m not a particularly disciplined person. I don’t like schedules and routines, particularly self-imposed ones. But I felt that I needed something to prod me out of my lethargy, so I set myself a little challenge to take at least one photo every day during the month of August.  To make it as easy as possible, I decided to use my iPhone for my pics of the day, simply because I knew I would always have it with me. Also, the photos automatically stream themselves to my computer every time I plug in the phone to charge. No excuses, right?

I did better than I expected. I captured an image every day, even if some of them were not particularly inspired. A couple of times I forgot until almost the last minute, and it shows. But most surprising to me, I enjoyed it very much. Here’s a sampling:

IMG_0903 onion seedGoing to Seed (August 3)

This is what happens when you don’t eat your vegetables.

IMG_0914 Thai iced teaRefreshing (August 5)

Thai iced tea, enjoyed at lunch during a shopping outing with my sister. It’s a special treat, one of my favorite drinks.

IMG_0930 Sky treeSkeleton (August 7)

This small eucalyptus died a couple of years ago, but the birds love to perch there. It’s far enough away from the house that even if it came down in a storm, it couldn’t hurt anything.

IMG_0970 kittyGarden Kitty (August 11)

I met this lovely and friendly tortoiseshell cat at a nursery my sister and I visited.

IMG_0996 thunderheadThunderhead (August 18)

Lots of interesting skies this month!

IMG_1044 rainFlash Flood Watch (August 26)

That wall of rain arrived about five minutes after I took this photo. It rained for about 20 minutes and did flood some small local roads, though there wasn’t any serious damage. The temperature dropped by 20 degrees in those 20 minutes and after the rain the damp ground and air smelled delicious. I wish I could have captured that scent to share with you.

IMG_1049 Ave VDriving Home (August 28)

This is the “avenue” I live on. This was taken a couple of days after the rain and there’s been some traffic, but you can still see where the water ran down and across the road.

IMG_1011 sunset gazeboSunset Clouds Over Moonrise Mountain (August 20)

Moonrise Mountain is my own name for this hill, for just the reason you might guess: from the perspective of our property, the moon comes up right over it. Therefore we’re looking eastward in this photo. I love it when the clouds pile up there and are illuminated by the sun setting on the opposite horizon. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s pretty spectacular when it does.

I know it wasn’t a big goal, but I’m proud of myself for setting it and doing it. Now I’m committing myself to the big one, a 365, starting September 1. I still don’t know if I can do it, but at least I’ve become willing to try. And that’s a good thing.

I’ve uploaded my entire August set to Flickr, so if you’d like to see the rest, you can go here to check it out.


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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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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!