Sea Blue Lens


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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!

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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

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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…

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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

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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

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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… 

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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:

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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

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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

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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

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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…

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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

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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

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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

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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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Windsday Walk and Click

DSC_0806Please Please Please Stop Blowing!

OK, I admit I didn’t get far for Walk and Click Wednesday this week. The weather has been chilly and the wind has been blasting for most of the past couple of weeks. It’s the kind of wind where small trees in large pots get blown right over and your patio chairs go missing. They might — if you’re lucky — be found later up against the neighbor’s fence. But in between gales I did take a stroll or two around the yard to see what was blooming.

The first stop was the apple tree outside my bedroom window. The sweet scent filled the whole back yard and there were so many bees at work that it sounded like the tree had a motor running.

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Next, the Lady Banks’ Rose. Each flower is barely an inch across, but the mass of them is amazing. They have only a slight fragrance, which in this case may be a good thing.

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There are several pots arrayed beneath the roses. These little Paludosum Daisies reseed themselves and come up every year. They’re one of my sister’s favorites and she gets excited when she sees their first tiny leaves popping up around the yard in the spring. The tiny purple flower sharing the pot is filaree, one of my favorite “weeds” — I think it’s as pretty as the daisies.

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We were all excited to see the grape hyacinth. The bulbs were planted so long ago that no one quite remembers where they came from, and this is the first time they have bloomed.

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Rosemary is a plant that does well here. It’s heat and drought tolerant and, best of all, the rabbits don’t like it! We have many varieties around the yard. They bloom in different shades of blue, but they all smell wonderful.

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This hot pink Autumn Sage is a lovely contrast to the blue rosemary. Unfortunately, the bunnies think this is delicious. I keep a cage around it, but removed it for the photo.

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My French Lavender has been blooming almost continuously since I got it last fall. The rabbits won’t eat it, but they sometimes nip off a few branches and leave them lying underneath it. Maybe each new generation has to try it for itself? Mother Rabbit: Leave that alone, you won’t like it. Baby Rabbit (trying it anyway): Ptooey! You’re right, Mama, it’s yucky.

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And have you ever seen a lavender flower really close up? They are surprisingly intricate.

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The Mexican Poppy shrub in the corner of the front yard has just begun to bloom. I love their texture. They look like crushed tissue paper, and they fade sort of like old tissue paper, too.

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The California poppies were started from a six-pack of seedlings from the nursery a few years ago. They’ve seeded themselves over a large part of the yard and spread farther every year. The rabbits don’t bother them and their cheerful orange faces are always a welcome sight.

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There’s even more, but that’s probably enough for now. Wind or no wind, I know I’m fortunate to have warmth and flowers when my friends back east are still waiting for snow to melt. I hope you enjoyed our little garden tour.

Linking with Lissa’s Walk and Click Wednesday.
laf Custom Designs


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Lilac Love

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For Walk and Click Wednesday this week, my sister and I paid a visit to Kilcoyne Lilac Farm right here in Acton. Imagine six acres of blooming lilacs, surrounded by beautiful mountains under a wide blue sky. Imagine 73 perfect degrees and a gentle spring breeze. Imagine inhaling the fragrance of lilacs until you think your lungs will burst. Come along as we park beside the road and walk in.

IMG_0691Traffic Alert

This sign greets visitors entering the driveway.

IMG_0692Home Sweet Nest

As we arrived, I saw a small bird fly out of this nest tucked under a porch roof.

IMG_0717Almost Too Much

The sight and scent of so many lilacs was almost overwhelming . . . but in the most delightful way.

IMG_0698I’m In Love

IMG_0697Mountain View

There were lilacs of every conceivable color.

IMG_0706Baby Blue

IMG_0702Pure White

IMG_0694Deep Purple

IMG_0719Palest Lavender

I’ve never seen lilacs like this one before. I love these frothy, curly petals.

IMG_0711Neigh-bor

This old boy seemed to be enjoying his leisure just beyond the lilacs.

IMG_0716Reluctance

All good things must come to an end. Senses filled to overflowing, we headed back toward the exit. But not without stopping by the shed to buy a bouquet to take home, to savor the scent of this day a while longer.

DSC_0614Keepsake

What a memorable walk this was, and what a wonderful discovery! In all the years I lived in Nevada and California, I only knew of lilacs from having read about them. When I moved to the eastern US in the mid-1990’s, I fell in love with them at first sight — and smell. I’d never have guessed they could grow in the high desert of Southern California. I’m happy to know that I can experience their heady joy here and now, and in every spring to come.

PS – All these images, except for the last one, were taken with my iPhone. When my sister and I left the house, we intended to grab some lunch and go shopping, so I didn’t take my camera. Stopping to smell the lilacs was a spur-of-the-moment impulse. We never did get to the stores, and we weren’t sorry at all.

Linking with Walk and Click Wednesdays, with many thanks to Lissa for hosting. I look forward to it more each week. Come on over and join the fun!


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So Long, Chickadee

There will be lilacs!

There will be lilacs!

It’s official, spring has sprung. But my walk this week has me thinking back to last fall.

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Scout

In my bird book, I noted my first sighting of a Mountain Chickadee on September 19, 2012. At first there was just one, but soon we had small flocks in residence, hanging out with the house finches and white crowned sparrows.

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Mind If I Join You?

Then I began hearing an odd little tapping noise. What on earth? Oh, I see! A chickadee would pluck a hard, round seed pod (they are actually tiny cones) off the big arborvita at the corner of the house, carry it to a crape myrtle or pine branch, and hold it between his feet while pecking it open with his beak, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap.  Over the next few weeks, they stripped every seed off that tree. Only then did they join the other birds at the feeders.

One day I caught a glimpse of a bird I couldn’t identify. It looked a lot like a chickadee, but its beak was twice as long. A day or so later, I spotted another one, got a better look at it, and had to laugh–it wasn’t another species, it was just one of my little chickadees with a sunflower seed in his beak. Unlike the house finches, who crack and eat the seeds right at the feeder, the chickadees carry away one seed at a time, again finding a branch on which to peck it open.

They’re rather gregarious little birds, often chattering and scolding from a nearby branch as I sat on my patio or cleaned and refilled the bird bath. But my picture-taking efforts were frustrating. I couldn’t get very close with the camera, and they move quicker than I can aim and focus. I’ve taken dozens of images and deleted most of them.

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Please, stop wiggling!

A few days ago, I was walking around the yard with my camera, taking photos of the spring buds and blossoms that are beginning to appear, when a chickadee alighted on a branch right next to me. He watched me turn and raise the camera, and sat quietly while I took eight precious, perfect shots.

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Then — gone.

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Two days later, they were ALL gone. Every. Single. One.

God speed and fare thee well, my little friends. Thank you for your gracious parting gift. I hope to see you again come fall!

I’m linking with Lissa for Walk and Click Wednesday. This was a short walk–I didn’t even get out of my own front yard. I haven’t forgotten that I promised to take you the rest of the way home from the mail box . . . the long way . . . so we’ll do that next week.
laf Custom Designs


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Snow Day

The weatherman told us we might expect some snow overnight, so when I woke up at six this morning I had to take a quick, shivering peek through the curtains.

A light in the darkness

A Light In the Darkness

We didn’t get a lot of snow, maybe a couple of inches, but it was enough to make a magical scene in the pre-dawn dark, with only the neighbor’s porchlight providing a spark of warmth.

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Mountain View

By 9 a.m. the snow was already fast disappearing, especially from the roads and on south-facing slopes. The heavy cloud cover had given way to brilliant blue. This image was taken looking back at our place and the mountains behind.

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“You get back here right now!”

On my way back to the house, I passed by these very noisy crows. I’m not sure what they were cawing about — maybe they were calling to their friend up there in the sky.

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Rabbit Corner

As I walked past the spot we call Rabbit Corner (see all the tracks?), I heard birdsong coming from that big bush. I thought at first that our resident mockingbird was providing the concert, but it turned out to be a pair of California Thrashers. I was delighted to see and hear them, especially since they haven’t been around the past couple of months. I hope they’re nesting!

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Spring Song

One of them accompanied me along the path up the hill, singing all the way, and I went back to the house grinning like a fool.

I think Spring must be on her way, don’t you?

I just realized it’s Walk and Click Wednesday. I’ve been wanting to join in on that, so I’m going over to link up right now.
laf Custom Designs


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Farewell Visits

In between packing and visiting with friends and getting ready to move, I managed to revisit a few favorite places and take some photos over the past few weeks. I haven’t had much time for processing or posting, but here are some shots from one last trip to Saco Heath, which I love to visit in the spring and fall.

Saco Heath

See the faint trace of an animal trail?

Stripes

This boardwalk used to be made of wood weathered to a soft gray. Unfortunately, the wet conditions of the heath have caused the wood to rot away, and the trail is being rebuilt now with artificial planks which I believe are made from recycled plastic.

Bristle Brush

I love the bristly rows of new growth on these branches.

Rhodora

I was fortunate to catch the Rhodora in peak bloom. It masses in lavender-pink clouds beneath the trees.

Rhodora Closeup

The individual blossoms seem fairy-like to me.

White Bells

I can’t remember what these are. My wildflower book was already packed, so I couldn’t look it up!

Pink Bells

They come in pink, too. Aren’t they pretty?

Seeing Double

We came upon a patch of the tiniest violets I’ve ever seen, barely over 1/4 inch across. Then I noticed this odd creature that looked like a cross between a hummingbird and a bee. As you can see, it is also tiny — less than 1/2 inch long. I looked it up online later and learned that it is a bee-fly. I love the shadow — I didn’t even see that when I took the photo.

Drinking Violets

Here’s another shot of the bee-fly. You can see the blur of its wings and its long, black proboscis reaching for the nectar in the heart of the violet.

Dancer

Can you hear the music?

And now I’m dancing off to somewhere new. But that doesn’t mean you’ve seen the last of my Maine, and certainly not the last of me!


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Photo-Heart Connection: April

Renewal

It looks chaotic, at first. But when I look at this image, I see possibility and new life bursting out in all directions. Many blossoms have already opened, but others are still closed tightly, waiting until the moment is right to spread their petals to the sun.

This is a mature tree, and this is not its first spring. It has experienced many cycles of the seasons, from flower to fruit to falling leaves and bare branches. To some eyes, that bare winter tree might seem dead. But its life is far from over, and with the warmth of spring the buds swell again. A new chapter in its story begins.

When I saw these beautiful blossoms and buds against the clear, deep blue sky, lifting their faces to the sun, I felt a connection and kinship with them. They seemed symbolic to me of my own life right now, one chapter ended and another beginning. Retirement is perceived by many to be the end of a person’s worth and usefulness, but I’m filled with excitement. What I see is the potential and purpose of all those buds on this old tree, and I can’t wait to see each one open in its turn.

Linking to Kat Sloma’s Photo-Heart Connection for April.

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Scavenger Hunting Again

Happy Sunday! Though I might wish it were Saturday and the weekend ahead of me instead of almost over. Anyway, it’s time to join Ashley and friends for Scavenger Hunt Sunday. The items for this week are: Whimsy, Create, Dust, Seed or Sprout, and Swing or Drop. Here are the images I found to match.

Whimsy

little foot, BIG FOOT

I found a trail of a child’s little footprints on the beach this week, and couldn’t resist putting one of my own next to hers to compare the size. I’m still blown away at being able to go barefoot on the beach in March. Not that I’d want to do it today, for the weather this weekend is much more normal for this time of year, i.e., cold and wet.

Create

False Lashes

I could as well have used this image for whimsy. It was those swooping, apparently purely decorative beams and their shadows that made me put on the brakes and pull over to take a few photos of this building under construction. I have no idea what it will be. There were signs identifying the construction company and the bank that’s financing the project, but nothing to indicate the owner or the designer of these creative flourishes.

Dust

Lying in Wait

The “season” doesn’t officially start around here until Memorial Day weekend. This little lunch and ice cream stand, located next to an active swap meet, is very busy during the summer months. Those tables and benches will be full and there will be lines at every window. Until then . . . they’ll continue gathering dust.

Seed or Sprout

The Daffodils Are Coming

I stopped by Laurel Hill Cemetery last week to check on the daffodils. I’d say they are about a month ahead of their usual schedule. There are thousands of bulbs covering a sunny hillside that slopes down the the river, and the annual spring display is spectacular. The blooms are starting already, and I’m guessing they will be well underway in another week or so. Meanwhile, I loved the afternoon sun shining through the sprouting leaves.

Swing or Drop

Raindrops

It’s 40 degrees cooler today than it was mid-week, cloudy and raining off and on. I took this shot from my front porch just a few minutes ago. The largest drop has an upside-down image of the apartment building across the street in it.

I love being home on a rainy day! Now I think it’s time for a cup of tea. I hope everyone has a good week.