Sea Blue Lens


What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Part III

My sister keeps asking me if I’ve finished the last post about our summer vacation yet. Um, no. Why not? I don’t know. I thought this would be the easy one. Anyway, here goes!


On the Sunday after the second family reunion, we visited Independence, Missouri, with two of our cousins. We planned on touring the Harry Truman home, but there would be a 3-hour wait until it started, so we went looking for something to do in the meantime. Cousin D had heard about a restaurant he wanted to try, but it was closed. We found a local cafe that seemed to be doing a brisk business, usually a good sign, so we stopped for lunch. I indulged in chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy, which was comfort food at its best. I’d like to show you a picture, but I’m afraid I didn’t even think to photograph any food on this trip. I was too busy eating.

We still had a couple of hours on our hands, so we drove around some beautiful, tree-lined streets, admiring stately old homes set back on lush green lawns. Eventually we found ourselves at the Bingham-Waggoner Estate, whose sign proclaimed, “Voted the Best Historic Home Tour in the Midwest.” Well, how could we pass that up? As it turned out, it was the only home tour we took in the Midwest, but I’d say its reputation as “the best” was well deserved.

You’ll soon see why I’ve had so much trouble with this post. I took way too many photographs, and had a terrible time trying to decide which ones to leave out because I want to show you everything! Here are some of my favorites:

IMG_3775The Neverending Porch: It wraps all the way around the house

The estate is named for its best-known residents. The original six-room house was built in 1852 by John Lewis. George Caleb Bingham, a well-known artist, politician and military man, lived there from 1864 to 1870. The final residents were the Waggoner family, who made their fortune milling flour. They bought the house in 1879 and occupied it until the death of the last member of the family in 1976. From 1895 to 1900, the house was enlarged to 26 rooms. The home has been beautifully restored to its turn-of-the-century glory mostly with original furnishings owned by the Waggoners.

IMG_3783The Parlor

IMG_3778The Study

One of the most wonderful things about this place is that you are allowed to TOUCH things! You can sit on the furniture, play the piano, get as close as you want to everything. It was amazing!

Music RoomMusic Room

The intricately inlaid piano bench is not original to the house, but is an example of “prison art” of the era. The beautiful Eastlake-style organ is also not a Waggoner family piece, but perfectly fits the period and spirit of the home.

IMG_3794Dining Room

This room is so elegant, with an African mahogany table that can seat up to 20 for dinner. The built-in china cabinet contains original family silver. If you’d like to have a dinner party here, you can rent the room!

IMG_3795Many chandeliers in the home are fitted for both gas and electricity

Kitchen triptychKitchen: All the Modern Conveniences

IMG_3814A Gentleman’s Necessities

A bathroom on the second floor was outfitted with this convenient shaving stand in addition to a toilet, marble sink, and surprisingly modern-looking tub with tiled shower, circa 1900.

IMG_3811Child’s Room with Hand-crafted Doll House

IMG_3810Doll’s Trunk

IMG_3820Upstairs Sitting Room

If I recall correctly, those are portraits of the original Mr. and Mrs. Waggoner on the wall.

IMG_3824Sewing Room

IMG_3823Steamer “Trunk”

According to our tour guide, this rather massive piece of furniture would be packed up and taken along when the family traveled to Europe by ship. Even empty it must weigh a ton! My back was aching in sympathy for the long-dead servants who would’ve had to manipulate this thing down the stairs and onto a wagon or truck.

IMG_3829Master Bedroom

Every room in the house has its own unique, hand-painted border above the picture rail. Each one was appropriate to the occupant or use of the room, and each was beautifully executed.

IMG_3826Lady’s Lavatory

IMG_3827Dressing Table

IMG_3825Nightcap, Anyone?

IMG_3837Servant’s Room

The large attic space on the third floor was given over to servants’ quarters and play space for the children. It was probably cozy in the wintertime, but it was uncomfortably hot in July.

IMG_3833Quiet Corner

There are a dozen of these beautiful dormers in the attic. The little doors open to storage space between them that was interconnected. Apparently crawling around and popping in and out of the doors was a favorite pastime of the children in the house.

There’s no reputation of the house being haunted, but I have to admit I had a startling experience in the little room above. I took a couple of steps farther into the room, intent on that lovely chair, and glimpsed this out of the corner of my eye:

IMG_3834-3Spirit of Play

I admit my stomach gave a quick jolt in the few seconds until my mind realized it was a mannikin! I don’t know if someone with a sense of humor put it there on purpose, or if it had just been forgotten there. I don’t think anyone else on the tour even saw it.

IMG_3841And that was it, the tour was over and so was our vacation.

You can probably see why we didn’t make it back in time for the Truman house tour, and also why we didn’t really regret it. Those are my cousins walking toward the sunlight, as I called out the eternal chant of the photographer: “You guys go on ahead, I’ll catch up!” We were all tired, happy, and ready to call it a day.

The next day, my sister and I were on our respective airplanes, heading in opposite directions for home and our everyday lives.

IMG_3869Almost Home

IMG_3503The Two of Us

This one’s for you, Sis. It was the adventure of a lifetime. I’m so glad we got to do it together.

My thanks again to all of our lovely cousins (and Aunt Lori!), who so graciously hosted us and never for a minute let us feel like we were strangers. You made us feel like we’re part of the family. More than that, you made us know we’re part of the family. Love and hugs to you all!


Off the Hook

Task: incorporate a hanging bottle with “a posy” into a still life. I struggled with how to fulfill this assignment. I have a few old bottles, and I could tie some sort of cord around their necks, but where would I hang them? I live in a very plain apartment with limited light. No architectural details or interesting hooks. As for posies — well, it’s midwinter in Maine, so there’s nothing growing outside even if I had a garden, which I don’t. Nor did I have the extra funds this week to run to the store to buy flowers.

So after grumbling to myself for a few days (so much for breathing deeply and being still!) I decided to see what I could do with what I do have. I tied a piece of ribbon from my gift-wrap stash around the neck of a favorite antique bottle. I filled the bottle with water and tucked in a sprig of greenery from my lavender plant, and a couple of tiny flowers from my potted Oxalis (also known as shamrock plant). Then I started walking around the house looking for someplace to hang it.

DOF borderI suspended it from a window latch and experimented with depth of field, but didn’t care much for the result. Kinda boring. Next?

DSC_8112Out of the Closet

Hanging on the knob of a folding closet door. Still not very interesting.


Oops — maybe a little too interesting. This one includes half an unplanned selfie and the reflection of my unmade bed. I did like the light, though.

 DSC_8053Mirror Mirror

Better. This is the frame of my dresser mirror, adding some contrast and the warmth of old wood.


Then . . . finally . . . this:

DSC_8103Breathing Space

This photo makes me happy. Once again it combines everyday and favorite things — an over-the-door hook on the back of my bedroom door; a 20-year-old fleece shirt I keep there, ready to throw on for a bit of extra warmth and comfort at the end of the day; a little bottle I’ve had for 45 years. It’s a reflection of who I am, and also of the serene, still person I aspire to truly be on the inside.


Best of Props

DSC_8078Resting Place

This chair is one of my favorite props from the past year and will no doubt appear in many more photos in the future. I needed a desk chair, and I bought this one specifically because I thought it would be a great photo prop. It’s old and a bit rickety, and someone has done a pretty sloppy job of “antiquing” it. The paint is drippy, cracked, and chipping. But it does the job at my desk, and it photographs beautifully!

My goal has been to avoid buying things just for photo props, because I’m trying to get rid of stuff, not acquire more. But I have to admit that when I’m shopping for something I do need, the first thing I notice now is its potential as a prop. (Wait til you see the dish towels I just found at TJ Maxx!) I’m really enjoying using what I already have to create my still lifes for these lessons. But if there’s one photo prop I’m secretly lusting after, it’s that turquoise half-dozen egg crate at Anthropologie. I have absolutely no need for it, but oh, isn’t it pretty?!


On Being Still

I’ve mentioned before that I’m taking a class from Kim Klassen called Be Still – Fifty-two. We’re just past the halfway point, and this is sort of a catch-up post. I’ve been doing the lesson each week, but for various reasons, haven’t gotten around to publishing my results.

I’m pretty sure I’ve also mentioned before that still life is not a genre with which I feel comfortable. Doing setups for these lessons and “styling” a photograph is hard for me, and when I see the beautiful work done by other students, I feel that mine isn’t quite “right.” So I hesitate to put it out there.

OK, so that’s silly. First, it’s not a competition. Second, Kim encourages us to find and follow our own style, so there is no “right” that I should be worried about. And third, no one has ever been anything but kind and supportive about my photography. Therefore, after giving myself a good talking-to, I’ve just finished posting my “homework” for the past month or so to the class’s Flickr group, and thought I’d share a few of those images here.

White Pitcher Red AppleWhite Pitcher

Assignment: Create a photo inspired by a still life painting. My inspiration was a painting called White Vase by Neil Carroll. This was the first time I’ve tried photographing against a dark background like this.

DSC_7498Pear on Plate

Assignment: A composition using only two objects, such as a pear and a bowl.


Another take on the Two Objects challenge. As you can see, I’m rather captivated by that dark background effect.

Butter & Eggs Cooking for One

Assignment: A still life with butter and eggs. This one was fun. I’ve had that book for a long time, hoping for an opportunity to use it as a photo prop. And my daughter and I had to go antiquing to find the perfect butter dish, especially for this assignment.

Strong teaStrong Tea

Assignment: Square format, looking down, with two sides of the frame left open. This was  taken with my iPhone and processed with Laminar Pro.

And that brings me up to date, just in time for the lesson that arrived today!

Now, if I can just keep it up going forward . . . .



Out and About

Yesterday my daughter and I took a little drive down to Kennebunkport to see what we could see. It’s one of our favorite things to do, and this is one of our favorite times of the year to do it. The summer crowds are gone and the weather was cool, clear, and perfect.


As we walk from the public parking lot back into the village, I always stop by here, where the road crosses over the river, to take a few photos.

IMG_5095Into the Blue

I love the sight of New England’s cupolas and spires against the intense blue sky.

IMG_5093Touch of Autumn

It is early yet, but we did see a bit of color here and there.


This bird house is awfully close to the street, and I don’t know if it is ever occupied or not. But it’s cute, anyway.

IMG_5116Times Past

There are two kinds of antique shops I love. One is the junk-store kind, where you can prowl to your heart’s content in hopes of unearthing an unexpected (and cheap) treasure of some sort. The other is this kind: like a museum, except you can touch the precious things on display. If you have the money, you can even take them home with you. I do not have it, but I love looking (and touching) anyway.

IMG_5103Pooh Corner

When I looked back over the photos I took during my 365 project, I noticed that I actually do take quite a few still lifes. This was a surprise to me. But I also realized that this is the kind I take — found subjects, rather than ones I have gathered and set up. I just never thought of them as “still lifes.”

IMG_5106To the Loft

What can I say? I love these stairs and that light bouncing around at the top. And I was drawn irresistibly up.

IMG_5107View from the Top


IMG_5109Horse with Girl

The tag said this was from China. I have no idea if it’s antique or not, but I thought it was charming.

IMG_5112Little Green Apples

Back downstairs. Though I’m not generally a fan of the chipped paint look, I liked this worn blue table a lot. I can see it in back of my couch. In my dreams.

IMG_5113It Was a Hot Summer

IMG_5121David by the Water

Outside, if you duck and go through a little passageway, you find this surprisingly formal small garden tucked away next to the building.

IMG_5147The Good Earth

Another of our favorite shops. The floors are so tilted it will make you dizzy. All of the pottery here is made by the husband and wife who own the store. My favorite mugs came from here.

IMG_5139Fresh Picked

Another of my “found” still lifes.

IMG_5142Deck with a View

From this deck we could smell seafood, and it was time to seek out some lunch. Clam chowder and warm blueberry pie with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream — which, as usual, I never even thought to photograph — and then it was time to head for home.

So glad we went! Today it is raining . . . and that’s good, too.

Note: All photos were taken with my iPhone 5S.


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.


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!


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.


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!


On the Hunt

It’s been a long time since I’ve participated in Scavenger Hunt Sunday. I’ve been keeping my camera close and taking photos as opportunities and subjects catch my eye, but I’ve been so busy moving and settling in that I’ve had little time for blogging — either reading or posting. Things seem to be quieting down at last, and I hope to be able to get around to visiting you all soon!

This felt like a good day to jump into the Scavenger Hunt again. This week’s items were Warped, Concentric Circles, Gear, Glazed, and Marble.



My yard is edged with these timbers “planted” on end at the bottom of a slope. I’m sure they were straight originally, but years of exposure to the elements have weathered and twisted them into interesting shapes and textures.

Concentric Circles:


I bought these bowls over several years from a favorite potter in Maine. Her studio/shop is called Barn Swallow– it was a frequent destination for a weekend drive.


Gearing Up

I went hunting for “gear” in the garage, and found this one on a bicycle. I liked it in black & white.



This was my first idea for “glazed.” The doors of the china cabinet are glazed with glass panes, they are reflecting the view both inside and outside my glazed dining room window, and of course the china and pottery pieces inside the cabinet are glazed in a different sense.

Glazed Take 2:

Blue Pot

I bought this beautiful planter for my patio yesterday because I loved the gorgeous glaze in its many shades of blue. It has imperfections, but to me, that’s what makes it perfect.



My antique marble-topped dresser has traveled with me through many a move since I acquired it over 40 years ago. It has been from California to Maine and all the way back again, with many stops in between. I always breathe a sigh of thankful relief when I put the marble top and mirror in place and see that it (and I!) have survived yet another move. That’s when I feel like I’m home.

Thank you, Ashley, for hosting Scavenger Hunt Sunday! It’s always fun!


Scavenging Again

All I can say is, this week sure went by fast! Here are my images for Ashley’s Scavenger Hunt Sunday. Thanks to all who commented on my last post that this is addicting. I think your warning may have come too late.

The topics this week were: Smile, Stand Alone, Rusty or Something Old, Artificial, and Repeating Pattern.

Sweetness and Light

Smile: I’m really not much for country kitsch, or tchotchkes in general, but when I saw this little angel in a shop this summer, I just had to have her. It was that sweet smile I fell in love with.


Stand Alone: I have a very small collection of old bottles. This is one of my favorites. It’s less than six inches tall, but made of thick glass and quite heavy. I’m not sure which is standing more alone, the bottle or that bare tree outside the window.

Getting to Know Grandfather

Rusty or Something Old: These three books were written by my paternal grandfather, whom I never knew. In fact, I only discovered his identity about three years ago, through I acquired the books through various online sources. The blue one was published in 1912, which I think qualifies it as “something old.” One of them actually has his signature on the title page. I don’t know if you can imagine what it felt like to touch that book and know that he had held it in his own hands and written his name there.

Note: I opened the book at random for this photograph. It wasn’t until I was cropping the image that I noticed the last line on the right-hand page. It seemed nicely appropriate. (If you click on the photo, you can see a larger, readable version.)

Let's Pretend

Artificial: I bought this little plant yesterday. I resisted. I really did. It’s plastic. I hate plastic. Plastic is evil. But I love this anyway.

Chorus Lines

Repeating Pattern: Please don’t judge me for my taste in music. Just notice all those nice rhythmic parallel lines!

So there it is. I took all of these photos this morning, without leaving my living room. I decided to see how many items I could find on or near my bookshelves. It was a fun challenge.

Click on the button in the sidebar to see what others have posted this week.