Sea Blue Lens


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Scene & Story: June 2017

Summertime Fun

La Kermesse is a festival held near the end of June every year to celebrate our area’s Franco-Americaine heritage, and it always kicks off with a block party and fireworks. In case you didn’t know it, I’m a pretty extreme introvert. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like noise. I don’t like carnivals. But for some reason, I love the La Kermesse block party!

It’s early evening and the weather is perfect. People gather in the park to listen to music from live bands, line up to buy cotton candy and fried dough, shop for souvenirs, play carnival games, and ride carnival rides. As the evening progresses, several blocks of Main Street, where it crosses the river adjacent to the park, get blocked off. The flashing blue lights of the police cars at each end add to the festive atmosphere, and the street fills with people.

And what fascinating people! Amidst the “ordinary-looking” folks in casual clothing are Goth types all in black and spikes and tattoos. Muslim women looking cool and elegant in their long dresses and hijabs despite the heat. A girl with waist-length purple hair that exactly matches her ruffled camisole top. Babies in strollers and old ladies with walkers. Men with impressive facial hair, others with impressive muscles. Kids in t-shirts and shorts rolling down a grassy slope and running to the top to do it again.

I don’t know any of these people and never see them in my day-to-day life. I suspect that all these different “types” probably don’t normally see much of each other, either. But everyone gathered here seems happy. The crowd is in a good mood, polite, having fun, enjoying themselves. People smile at each other. I notice random acts of kindness. I chat with strangers.

The sun sets in a flare of copper-colored clouds and darkness descends, and we find a spot along the bridge to watch the fireworks. Anticipation grows until…finally…the first explosion and flash of color illuminates the night to appreciative “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd. For the next 20 minutes, everyone is focused on the show in the sky, climaxed by the grand finale, a riot of color and noise.

And then it’s time to join the people streaming up the middle of the street, on our way home, back to our everyday lives. Tomorrow Main Street will be filled with the usual traffic, and I will be back to my usual introverted self. Until next year, when I’ll see you at La Kermesse!

Summertime Play (with Impresso app)

* * * * *

Click here for the 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. We’d love to have you 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. 


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Summer Shower

We had a brief thunderstorm this afternoon. It didn’t rain long, or much, but it freshened the air and rinsed the pollen dust off everything. Afterward I walked to the park next door to see what I could see.

DSC_0198Birds of a [Different] Feather

An American Robin and a House Sparrow were keeping company on a dripping overhead cable.

DSC_0200Dropped

A maple leaf had let go of its lifeline.

DSC_0203Mystery Blossoms

Raindrops freshened flowers and foliage and pattered down from the trees overhead. I don’t know what these flowers are — the pink ones are on a large shrub, and the blue ones are a vine entangled in it. (If you know, please tell me!)

IMG_1153The Last Iris

IMG_1158The First Daylily

DSC_0226Hammock

This web is strung horizontally between the leaves of a huge hosta. There was no one home, but as you can see the larder is full of gustatory delights…if you’re a spider, anyway.

IMG_1169-2Storm? What Storm?

Behind the apartment, all traces of the storm were gone.

DSC_0236Rosa Multiflora

Bowers of tiny roses climbed high into the trees, their petals already dry.

DSC_0241The Calm After the Storm

leaf light and sky shine
illuminate clear water
ripples reflect peace

Wishing you a happy Wednesday, friends.


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Bountiful Blossoms

I’m loving the rhododendrons blooming all around my neighborhood right now. I’ve noticed that the buds are always more intense in their color than the opened blossoms. So many variations…from delicate pale pink buds that open nearly white, to shades of lavender and magenta, to dark red buds that open to a fiery deep pink that my camera couldn’t quite capture.

Not having a garden of my own, I’m grateful to be able to enjoy other people’s beautiful flowers from the sidewalk. Here’s just a sampling from a recent walk:

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These photos were all taken with my iPhone 5s within a few blocks of my home.


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Finding Focus

The warmer, longer days seem to have switched on a surge of energy in me, and I find myself wanting to Get Things Done. There are so many projects on my to-do list — where do I start? Also, it’s summer, and I want to have fun!

IMG_1904-2Summer Dreams

One of the problems with retirement, though it’s a delightful problem to have, is that you can have too much free time on your hands. In fact, it’s all free time. I’m a person who prefers spontaneity, who doesn’t like being regimented and scheduled. There’s always tomorrow, right? But recently I came across a line in a book I’m reading, Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin, about establishing good habits and breaking bad ones. She wrote, “Something that can be done at any time often happens at no time.”

That line pierced me to the heart. I have always been a terrible procrastinator, and I suddenly, vividly, realized that I could easily spend the rest of my life doing, basically, nothing. Waiting until “tomorrow.” And while I hope and expect that I still have lots of tomorrows ahead of me, I don’t want to waste any of them!

IMG_0844-2Making Plans

So . . . I’ve bought a calendar/diary, the kind that shows a week at a time, that I plan to use to give my days a bit of structure and routine. I’m editing my Need-to-do list, prioritizing projects and breaking them down into steps. I’m making Want-to-do lists, too, of places to go and things to do for pleasure and adventure, of books to read, of photography classes, photo walks and projects to complete. All those things are going into the calendar.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Right now it’s time for…hm, let me check my calendar for Sunday.

Happy Feet 2Happy Feet

Oh, well. Baby steps! Enjoy the day, my friends. 🙂


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Springing into Summer

Not only is winter over, but I have completely skipped spring here on the blog. Well, not completely, since officially the first day of summer is still a couple of weeks away. But around here, Memorial Day weekend is the real beginning of summer regardless of what the calendar says.

My daughter and I took advantage of the last week before that holiday to take a day trip to Ogunquit, a popular vacation destination that’s packed with visitors during the summer months. It was one of those idyllic days that linger in the memory long afterward.

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Wouldn’t you love to stay at this beautiful inn? I always like to imagine what places like this were like when they were private homes.

We browsed in a few shops, then enjoyed lunch at a new restaurant: delicious clam chowder and a Maine crab melt sandwich with Old Bay fries, the sandwich grilled to tender, crispy perfection and the fries offering a spicy counterpoint to the delicate crab.

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After lunch we strolled along Marginal Way, a popular path overlooking the ocean. On a midsummer weekend, you would not be able to see the pavement for the people!

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The blue-green sea softly melded into the sky at the horizon.

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The sun-warmed breeze was sweet with the scent of lilacs and wildflowers.

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Did you know that Mallard ducks will visit the ocean to bathe and feed? I had thought they were strictly freshwater birds. I was very surprised to see them paddling around in this tide pool.

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The sound of the waves mingled with birdsong and the quiet conversation and laughter of others out enjoying the day.

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There was even music!

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Who could ask for more?

We drove home tired but happy. It had been a perfect day. It was just a few hours, spent less than an hour’s drive from home, but it truly felt like a vacation. It reminded me of how little it takes to break out of my routine for a refreshing change, and how good it feels when I do. Here’s to more “Daycations”! *

* Credit goes to my friend Cathy H at Gramma’s Little Corner for introducing me to this delightful word.


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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!

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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!


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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

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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

DSC_0265-2Snow Birds

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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… 

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

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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.