Sea Blue Lens


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Scene & Story: April 2017

Robin Redbreast

April in Maine is known as mud season for good reason. We had snow. We had snowmelt. We had rain, lots of it, and more fog than I remember from previous springs. The water in the river rose a couple of feet. The photo above was taken on a day that was very typical of this year’s April.

Many years ago, I read in a newspaper advice column that you can tell if a rainstorm will be short or long by watching the birds in your yard. If all the birds disappear when the rain starts, it will only be a brief shower. If they ignore the rain and go about their usual business, you’ll know the rain is going to continue for some time. Birds need to eat often and can’t afford to take a day off from hunting and gathering food just to avoid getting wet.

I’ve found this bit of folklore to be pretty accurate. After all, our ancestors needed to use their experience and observations of nature to forecast the weather for themselves in the days before satellites and radar and 6:00 news broadcasts. On the day I took this photo, it had been raining for hours and the trees and brush at the river’s edge were busy with hopping and fluttering winged creatures.

Several robins left the trees for the grass below my window, exploring the newly thawed earth for tasty treats. This one perched on the picnic table for a good look around before strutting across it and joining his fellows on the ground. I could almost imagine him sighing and asking, “How much longer is this going to go on?”

Well, Mr. Robin, you tell me.

* * * * *

Click here to join our Scene & Story link-up at Paisley Rain Boots.

**Scene & Story is a collaborative creation that Sarah Huizenga of Paisley Rain Boots and I dreamt up to encourage one another in our photography and writing. I hope you’ll join us! Just 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. It’s a wonderful way to find and build a community of kindred spirits.


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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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Memories, Dreams, & Reflections: 2012

A friend inspired me to take on Ashley Sisk’s Memories, Dreams and Reflections 2012. It’s like a Super Scavenger Hunt Sunday, with 25 prompts to fulfill using photos from the whole year. You’d think it would be easy, having so much to choose from, but actually that’s the problem…there’s so much to choose from! But I thought it might be fun, and a good opportunity to review my year in photos, so here goes.

1. Me!

{In the Picture}

{In the Picture}

One thing I’m proud of accomplishing in 2012 is the {In the Picture} self-portrait challenge hosted by Christy at Urban Muser. I’ve taken a self-portrait (or several) and posted at least one on my blog every month all year. Here is one from each month . . . mostly outtakes that didn’t get published.

2. I Love You

My Favorite Couple

My Favorite Couple

This is my Dear Darling Daughter and El Boyfriendo (hers, not mine). I’m not sure who took the photo — a friend of theirs, I think — I “borrowed” it from her Facebook page because I love it (and them) so much. It’s a great shot of two of my favorite people at one of my favorite places.

3. Still Laughing…

Hangin' Out

Just Hangin’

Can you see our visitor, the little guy with the skinny neck and really long nose, there in the center of the frame? One afternoon my sister and I were looking out her kitchen window when we saw our resident roadrunner dashing along the driveway. To our surprise, he ran into the gazebo and flew up onto the railing. He sat there for several minutes, turning his head this way and that, surveying the property like the Lord of All. Finally he jumped down and disappeared into the brush . . . probably off to grab some grub. We still laugh about how odd he looked there. He is such a funny and fascinating creature and I absolutely love it that he graces us with his presence.

4. Winter Wonderland

Sea Smoke

Sea Smoke

I suppose it’s not called sea smoke if it’s on a river. But anyway . . . this was from last winter, taken behind my apartment building in Maine. It was a very cold morning, mist rising from the water and the trees white with frost. As the rising sun hit them, every twig glittered.

5. Birthday

Another Year Older and Who Cares?

Another Year Older — So What’s Next?

For my birthday, my sister and brother-in-law took me all the way to Little India in Cerritos so I could have Indian food, which I love, for my birthday dinner. We took the scenic route over the Angeles Forest and Angeles Crest highways. It was a beautiful drive, requiring several stops along the way to take photos. A fun and memorable day!

6. Friends

Painting Pals

Painting Pals

I became friends with these beautiful women over a decade ago, shortly after I moved to Maine. We met through our local adult ed program when Carol, Sue, and I took a series of watercolor painting classes taught by Judith (on the right). During the summer, when there was no class, some of us would get together once a week at Sue’s house to paint. Before I moved away in May, Carol and Sue invited me to lunch and surprised me by having Judith come too. I asked our server to snap this shot of the four of us with my iPhone. I miss these talented and very sweet friends.

7. I Was Inspired…

Me, Myself, and iPhone

Me, Myself, and iPhone

Meeting my friend Susan for a photoshoot after work one day, I discovered I’d brought my camera bag but not the camera! I was very disappointed, but then I was inspired to try my iPhone camera. I hadn’t used it before except for a few snapshots, and I didn’t have high expectations. Much to my surprise, I loved the resulting photos and it turned out to be one of my favorite shoots ever. (I blogged about it here.) Of course, the wonderful company didn’t hurt, either.

8. Spring Fever

Spring Faces

Spring Has Sprung

You know it’s spring when the daffodils are up in Laurel Hill Cemetery. They sweep down the hillside to the river and people come from all over the area to see the spectacle every year. This image is from another photoshoot with Susan. It was great to be able to share the experience and the photo op with a friend.

9. Travel or Vacation

Bye Bye, Ocean

Bye Bye, East Coast

My last glimpse of the Atlantic, as I flew to my new home in California. This is New York, where I changed planes. I saw nothing of Maine as I left — we were in clouds as soon as we left the ground. It’s probably just as well.

10. Summer Days

California Girl

California Girl

August at the beach in Ventura. Need I say more?

11. A Day In My Life

Where I "Work"

Where I “Work”

Even though I’m retired now, I still spend quite a bit of time at a desk. The difference is that it’s MY desk, and I can get up and walk away from it whenever I want! This is where I process photos, write this riveting blog, peruse Facebook, and watch birds through the window. In case you’re wondering, I think retirement is awesome!

12. All Smiles

Beaky Smiles

Bird Smiles

Do birds smile? No, but they and their antics make me “all smiles.” They are always entertaining and can make me forget any problem. These are only a few of the many species I’ve photographed right here in our yard.

13. Autumn Harvest

All You Can Eat

All You Can Eat

This is just a sampling of the bounty to be found at Sanchez’s roadside produce stand. Some of it is grown in fields and gardens right behind the stand, and most of the rest is locally sourced. Sanchez’s and our local farmers’ market is where we bought our fruits and veggies all summer and fall.

14. Family or Home

Moving In

Moving In

This is my home. I know, it doesn’t look like much here. (Trust me, it’s improved since this picture was taken.) I have moved many times over the course of my life, and some of the contents of these boxes have been with me every step of the way. I’m pretty good at packing and unpacking my life. Each new house or apartment is a new beginning, and I love turning it into a comfortable home.

15. Celebrate!

Aunt and Uncle Sam

Aunt and Uncle Sam?

2012 marked the 50th anniversary of Acton’s annual Fourth of July parade. The parade is a big deal. People start parking their RVs and setting up tent shade shelters along the parade route days in advance. There’s much hilarity as some parade watchers blast floats with water guns, and riders on the floats return fire . . . uh, water. Even the fire truck that opens and closes the parade gets into the act and by the time it’s over, anyone who wants to be is thoroughly drenched. Remarkably, those who don’t wish to be sprayed are respected and stay dry. It was a great time of celebration and good-hearted laughter.

16. Let’s Do It Again…

Friends Through a Lens

Friends Through a Lens

In the fall of 2011, I met in person a fellow photographer and blogger, Susan (Happy No Ears). We’d connected with through Kat Sloma’s Find Your Eye classes and discovered we lived only a few miles apart. Our growing friendship was one of the joys of 2012. We went on several photography outings together, always followed by something delicious to rejuvenate ourselves with. I really miss her and look forward to getting together again when I visit Maine. (She’ll probably want to kill me for posting some of these, but I think I’m safely out of reach!)

17. I Miss You

Dawn

Sunrise at My Beach

Maine! I miss everything about it, except maybe the long winters . . . and long winter nights. But I especially miss being only ten minutes from a beautiful beach, where I could go on the spur of the moment and walk in near-solitude even on summer evenings. I miss friends and loved ones left behind. But don’t worry: I’ll be back! I’m already planning my next visit.

18. Beautiful

Sharing a Cup

Sharing a Cup

These are my daughter’s beautiful hands. We still have tea together now and then — we just do it by phone.

19. Dress Up

No Place To Go

No Place To Go

This is about as dressed up as I get these days. Please note the lovely polish on my toenails. I think that’s a nice, dressy touch. It even matches my fancy, flowered tee-shirt!

20. Macro

After the Rain

After Rain

These are berries of Juniperus Californica, the beautiful native California juniper. There are several large specimens of this tree on our property. I woke one morning to find it had rained overnight, and water was dripping from everything. I took my camera out and took nearly 200 shots of  various weed-and-water effects. This was one of my favorites.

21. Holidays

O Christmas Tree

O Christmas Tree

I really enjoyed dressing my new little cottage for the holidays. This is the first time in a dozen years that I’ve decorated a Christmas tree.

22. My Favorite

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

One of my favorite memories of 2012 is from New Year’s Day, when I went on a photoshoot with my son-un-law and a birding friend of his. The weather was surprisingly warm and beautiful for a winter’s day in Maine, and I’d gotten a new lens for Christmas. We went to Nubble Light in search of a snowy owl that had been reported in the area. As you can see, we found it, as did a small crowd of other folks on the same quest. The warmth of that day of sunshine, nature’s beauty, and casual fellowship have lingered in my memory all year long.

23. Don’t Ever Change

Picture of Contentment

Picture of Contentment

I’ve been a reader all my life. I’m grateful for the pleasure, companionship, consolation, inspiration, adventure, tears, laughter . . . you name it . . . that I’ve gotten from books. They are always there when wanted or needed, asking nothing in return. I can’t see my love for them ever changing, nor would I want it to.

24. Just Because…So There!

Summer's End

Tattered

I don’t know why, I just like it.

25. Hopes and Dreams

Charisma

Charisma

I hope to bloom like this beautiful rose as I continue to explore my new life and environment. I also dream of having this beautiful rose bloom again in my garden . . . and not be eaten by bunnies the very next day!

And that’s a wrap.  Now it’s time to put 2012 in the archives and look ahead to a new year full of possibility. I’m joining the linkup over at Ramblings and Photos and looking forward to seeing everyone’s reviews of 2012.

 


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Surprise Visitor

I was working at my desk this morning when I glanced out and saw a startling sight:

Image

I know, not very impressive, is it? I apologize for the poor quality of this photo, but sometimes you just have to go with what you can get. Here’s the cropped, processed, close-up version:

Image

This beautiful Cooper’s Hawk was perched on the back of the Adirondack chair that is literally 30 feet from my front door. I didn’t even have my tele zoom on the camera, but I captured him (her?) as well as I could through the window with my 18-55mm zoom. I was afraid to move for fear of scaring him away!

Isn’t he gorgeous? All my pretty little finches, sparrows, and chickadees had suddenly vanished from the yard, which made me glad, though it meant that this lovely creature had to look elsewhere for breakfast.

Unfortunately, the image is clouded by interior reflections on the window glass (curtains and even the dining room table). And I only got off a few shots before my battery died! I should have paid more attention the the Boy Scout motto, “Always be prepared.” I knew last night that the battery was low, and I also thought about switching back to the telephoto lens after I finished shooting some sunset skies. Next time I will listen to that little voice in my head!


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Scavenging in a Gray World

It’s foggy and rainy today, perfect for sitting at the computer and going through photos! Today’s Scavenger Hunt Sunday items are: Missing, Numbers, Purple, Music, and Bracelet. Let’s get to it!

Missing:

Blank Slate

Blank Slate

What’s missing? My view! This is what I woke up to this morning. The mountains over which the sun rises apparently got up and walked away overnight.

Numbers:

Feeding My Flock

Feeding My Flock

Filling the feeder with sunflower seed brings in large numbers of house finches, among other songbirds. Hungry birds aren’t much on politely waiting to take turns, so things get pretty exciting around there.

Purple:

Watercolor

Watercolor

I don’t think I will be sitting out on the patio in my pretty purple chair today.

Music:

Halleluia!

Hallelujah!

More years ago than I care to think about, I sang in a large community chorale that performed Handel’s Messiah every year during the Christmas season. I learned it by heart and still remember most of it, but I still have my music. And I’m listening to it on my stereo right now.

Bracelet:

Memories

Connections

I was doing a lot of research into my family tree through Ancestry.com while I was putting together this bracelet.  My father had left home as a teenager and never had contact with his family again. Many of the beads and charms represent family members that I discovered and connected with through my research, as well as other people and places dear to me. Every time I look at it, I remember the thrill and excitement of that amazing ancestral “scavenger hunt.”

And that’s it for this week. Thanks again to the lovely Ashley Sisk for hosting. Click on over to check out everyone’s linkups.


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Favorite Places

It’s time already for the {In the Picture} self-portrait linkup for October. At first I thought the month had passed awfully quickly, but then I realized that the last Friday actually came a bit early this month. Our optional theme was favorite places: to take our self-portraits in one or more of our favorite spots.

In Maine, I’d have had an abundance of places to choose from, especially at the peak of autumn. I’d probably have headed to the beach, since that’s my ultimate favorite. Here? I can’t say that I really have any favorite haunts yet. I take most of my photographs right here on the property.

Here’s a favorite spot where I spend a lot of time:

Daydreaming

As you can see, my desk is in front of a large window. Above my head is a birdbath you’ll recognize if you’ve been here before. It was unusually quiet when I took this photo. The birds are an almost constant distraction when I’m trying to work at my computer —

This Scrub Jay flew in for a bath while I was typing this post . . . .

— but I love them and can’t bring myself to reposition the desk or close the curtains. Besides, I’m retired, so who cares?

Speaking of curtains, these are only temporary ones, borrowed from another room to keep the sun out of my eyes first thing in the morning. Notice my lovely tiebacks? Binder clips are so useful! The small tree outside the window is a crape myrtle, and until last Friday, it was covered with pink flowers. High winds over the weekend took care of that, but the tree does provide a bit of a fall-ish glow when the morning light shines through it.

When I’m finished pretending to get anything productive done, I often head for another favorite spot:

Front Row Seat

Here I sit on the patio with my feet up and just watch the world go by. I sip tea or coffee, read a book, or . . .  just sit, listening to the breeze, the chatter of little bird voices, the flutter of wings, distant dogs barking, and the occasional airplane passing in the distance. It’s peaceful.

Much as I miss all those favorite places in Maine, it’s good to be here.

A note on this self-portrait challenge . . . I feel like I’m in a rut. Technically I’ve completed another month, but I don’t think I really put my heart or creativity into it. I want to do something different and see some progress and growth! I don’t know exactly what that means, but I’ll be trying to figure it out.

Meanwhile, here’s the linky party at Urban Muser. Let’s go see everyone else’s favorite places.

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First Time Scavenger

Well, I thought I’d give this Scavenger Hunt Sunday linkup, hosted by the lovely Ashley Sisk of Ramblings and Photos, a try. I love seeing everyone else’s Scavenger posts and it looks like fun, so here goes. This week’s items were: Sunset, Black and White, A Day in my Life, Four, Colorful.

Sunset Smoke

Sunset: I took this image from my living room window. You can blame any lack of sharpness on the two panes of glass and a screen that were between my camera and the outside. What can I say? It was COLD.

Personal Space

Black and White: A flock of pigeons on some power lines, each one fluffed up against the cold. You’d think they’d want to be closer together for warmth, but maybe it doesn’t work that way for birds.

Not Exactly a Cubicle

A Day in My Life: Behind this desk is where I spend most of my waking hours, Monday through Friday.

2 + 2 = 4

Four: Well, I didn’t have four images I wanted to use, and don’t really know how to make a montage anyway, though I could probably figure it out if I really tried. Here’s my alternate take on it – a pair of wine glasses and their shadows in the late afternoon light.

Bittersweet

Colorful: I love the contrast of these bright red berries against the soft, blue-water background.

What do you know? That really WAS fun! Now, let’s see if I can figure out the linky . . . .

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