Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Photo

Great Blue Herons capture radiant heat in the bay
January 25, 2007

Once upon a time one of my jobs was to drive the offspring to school and back. The trip was 25 minutes each way. The morning ride was into the sun, blinding during the autumn-to-winter mornings when the sun changed its angle and blasted into our faces. Chilled to the bone, steam rising from the coffee in my travel mug, heater going full blast and defroster not doing a good job, we would join the fray of car riders going into town from the country.

The way back was magical for the sun was at my back, sharply angled casting deep shadows and layering fields and trees and waters in gold. This was a January morning. The air was snapping and cracking, temps were in the 20's and the winds weren't kind. Crossing the bay I see herons standing together in a nook, clearly outlined against the trees. The first day I noticed them I counted a dozen herons. The following day nearly 20 herons, but this time the camera was with me on the way home. Most were scattered throughout the bay in small groupings, but this little grouping of 10 seemed to have the best spot.

Great Blue Herons gathering in Turtle Bay, enjoying the radiant heat of a frigid January sunrise. One of Life's special moments!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Down to the Bones

Times come where one must simplify and get down to the bones of life.

Many of you know that I read Robert Genn's Twice-Weekly Letters, which arrive in my Inbox with blessed regularity. His last missive was titled "Finding Your Voice." A reader sent Robert a query involving finding one's voice. Mr. Genn's answer began with this: "First off, and contrary to what I've said before, plans can actually derail the voice-finding process. Further, you have to know what you mean by "voice." Voice in style is different than voice in cause. Ideally, style develops over time. Cause is based on attitude and issue. With growth and development, causes change. A predetermined voice shackles creativity."

Robert's novella was ripe with knowledge, which I won't go into here, but will share four points that were highlighted. For those of you who aren't familiar, Robert Genn is a painter and his Twice-Weekly letters mainly focus on painting and the overall creative. I have found his wisdom to be extremely illuminating, touching all manner of subjects not related to painting in and of itself.

That said, he listed 4 things to help one find one's voice:

1. You need to make stuff.
2. You need hunger.
3. You need curiosity.
4. You need joy.

Plans can indeed derail the voice-finding process. In my case, the fear and drudgery of all things non-creative - the business side - has caused paralysis and sucked the joy right out of my craft. Also, a constantly changing home life - destabilization - gives little time for creativity. I'm off balance.

Robert ends with his usual piece of Esoterica, as follows:
"What's my voice?" has to be asked by each individual artist. Committee-free, the artist needs to develop her voice as if on an island. To be a voice is to be a different voice, set apart, unique. How to find it? Go to your island, put in long hours, fall in love with process--your voice will come out of your work."

I'm thinking long hours in a peaceful surrounding, perhaps at a local convent or park, would be helpful. "Away" seems to be the best option. Peace and quiet, reflection, journaling and nature calls to me.

Cause for concern is that my camera never leaves its case these days. The last time I visited the lake it sat in the same spot I plunked it upon arriving, never moving until I left 3 days later. Further, it never crossed my mind. Upon leaving I realized it was there and was startled to realize that I'd forgotten about it entirely.

What do you do when you feel you've lost all four points, above?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Garden Cats

Bob is the outdoor cat. A rescue. Black and white with bright green eyes, pink nose and lips, he rules the yard. He is the sweetest, most lovingest cat. Here, he knows he looks good. Posed just right, he grabs the camera's attention....until he realizes that I'm there. Immediately, Bob jumps over and strolls over to be stroked and petted.

Bob loves to help Linda garden. Chipmunk and vole control is his number one job. Well, after perusing the boundary, of course. And darting after butterflies. And napping on the warm bricks.

Meet Linda and Andy. Andy is the indoor cat. He is a ragdoll (rescued) who is quite shy and jumpy. This is the only decent shot after 100 frames. The mere sight of a stranger with a camera frightens him. Taken with my zoom lens it isn't the best but it'll have to do until another day. When the camera was away he sidled up for a pet, allowing all manner of cooing and baby talk while being combed. Andy The Indoor Cat and Bob The Outdoor Cat are not friends.

Bob loves his iron bench. Getting him to stretch out and enjoy the sunshine HERE was impossible. Above, he is getting a treat which only made him jump off and come to us for more.

I adore cats but cannot have one. There are many I love vicariously through your blogs and now there's Andy and Bob in the mix. Here's a fun poem I found about cats.

by Rosalie Moore

Cats sleep fat and walk thin.
Cats, when they sleep, slump;
When they wake, pull in -
And where the plump's been
There's skin.
Cats walk thin

Cats wait in a lump
Jump in a streak.
Cats, when they jump, are sleek
As a grape slipping its skin -
They have technique.
Oh, cats don't creak.
They sneak.

Cats sleep fat.
They spread comfort beneath them
Like a good mat,
As if they picked the place
And then sat.
You walk around one
As if he were City Hall
After that.

If male,
A cats is apt to sing upon a major scale:
This concert is for everybody, this
Is wholesale.
For a baton, he wields a tale.

(He is also found,
When happy, to resound
With an enclosed and private sound.)

A cat condenses.
He pulls in his tail to go under bridges,
And himself to go under fences.
Cats fit
In any box or kit;
And if a large pumpkin grew under one,
He could arch over it.

When everyone else is just ready to go out,
The cat is just ready to come in,
He's not where he's been.
Cats sleep fat and walk thin.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chandler Gardens

My mother belongs to a philanthropic women's club that helps women in need get an education. They do wonderful work. It's a very small, closed sisterhood group and my mom enjoys it very much. She has made some delightful, forever friends in this club. One of her friends is opening her home as a B&B to other members and their families. There is, I learned, a network of membership B&B's across the country that are not open to the public but truly designed to help out their own sisterhood. How wonderful!

My mother's friend commissioned me to take photos of her gardens. Recently, on a hot, muggy morning I met her for a tour. These are test shots.

Her garden is very formal, but one can find all manner of cuteness nestled in corners, hunkering below globes of flowers, and sticking up amid tall greenery.

I fell in love with her pottery and terra cotta pieces, her ironwork and seating.

Flagstone steps and pebbled paths lead the visitor to places of respite. The only problem is that sometimes the chipmunks get there first and unearth the hostas or various plants.

Her sense of color and placement was a delight! There was something new at every turn, and even the second and third time through I was finding new plants and cuteness!

Although designed as a formal garden, she has planted many "unformal" plants such as lambs ears, daisies and coneflower. These Annabelle Hydrangeas were show-stoppers, and she said when the blossoms were bright white this scene was hypnotic.

Ferns and stone fences and pots of herbs cascaded down a gentle slope. Birdbaths and stone cats, pottery birds and rabbits enhanced what is already an amazing garden. There is, of course, a garden cat. What B&B would be without one? Next time...the garden cat and more shots of this gentle, hidden garden.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron wrapped in blue
October 15, 2002
Sony Cybershot

I'm in a bit of a creative slump. Nothing seems to interest me these days, photographically speaking. This will pass - it always does. Once we settle into something or some place and joy is found again I will feel free to breathe, create. The need to get out into the world will overtake me and away I'll go, cameras beside me as always. Although the cameras are always in the navigator position these days, nothing seems to draw them out of the case.

The river is on my mind these days, you see. That dynamic, fluid artery of Life that dawns daily with gifts. This morning I'm missing the herons. I'd begun to take them for granted, herons, as they're so ubiquitous. Always squawking about something, landing hither and yon, flying back and forth, perching in trees and on docks and on riverbanks. We've witnessed heron fights and heron love, herons dining and herons floating upon the waters, herons reposing in treetops and herons striking Gandhi-like poses on the bows of barges that thrum by our house.

Great Blue Herons can be found everywhere from the placid waters of huge city parks to turbulent waters of river dams in the middle of nowhere. They are the great adapters, herons. They don't whine about their conditions but simply adapt. Most of nature does this. Great Blue Herons are my inspiration to do likewise.

So today I offer you a Great Blue Heron wrapped in the gentle blue of a rainy morning on the river along with a poem by Kathleen Jamie that I really like. May the peace of both scene and poem stay with you.

The Heron
by Kathleen Jamie

We are flying, this summer's night
toward a brink, a wire-thin
rim of light. It swells,

then, as we descend,
illuminates the land enough
to let us name, by hill, or rivermouth,

each township below. This is
the North, where people, the world perhaps
likes to imagine,

hold a fish in one hand,
in the other: a candle.
I could settle for that. We shudder

and roll toward a standstill at the far end of the runway.
--It's not day, this light we've entered,
but day is present at the negotiation.

Gloaming--the sky holds
the still pale grey of a heron, watchful
among the tide-pools of the shore.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


Curiously I find myself perching again.

Perching. Such as what birds do when they are contemplating their next move. Some perch high on wires, some atop a windswept snag and some choose a comfy spot in the brush.

"Perching is that contemplative time between what was and what will be"

Normally in perch mode I am very anxious for you see I am a Nester. The comfort of the nest is what I crave. I wish for all my simple, small possessions around me - books, rocks, feathers, baskets, pottery, etc. Comfort in the familiar, the loved, the cherished. Waking each morning and knowing they are there is cozy. Cozy is nice. Boxes and clutter make me crazy, as do the inevitable packing, storing and the audacious nastiness of actually moving.

"A house is made of walls and beams; a home is built with love and dreams"
(Dr. William A. Ward)

However, we, as a family, are entering a new phase. The teenager is now in her own apartment awaiting classes to begin this her first year of college. We're readying the city house to sell and are moving back to the lake house. But, there's a catch. Hubby enjoys the city house with its conveniences; I enjoy the lake house surrounded by nature. As in all marriages compromise is the name of the game. Hubby and I have reached a compromise. We're going to sell both houses, eventually, and find another that we both enjoy. Good plan in today's real estate market, eh? If it were up to Hubby we would move every 5 years. He has a restless soul.

"He is the happiest, be he king or peasant, who finds peace in his home"
(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

Peace is good. There is a part of me that has found peace with this decision. I'm at peace because our home is at peace. Teen angst is gone and there is no Empty Nest feeling at all in my soul. Instead, I'm busy planning the next stage of OUR lives, hubby and me. It's like beginning again. We are planning together, considering each others desires, talking of travel and what WE want to do the rest of our lives.

"A long marriage is two people trying to dance a duet and two solos at the same time"
(Anne Taylor Fleming)

My personal solo involves photography and greeting cards, a business of which is starting slowly, stutteringly, stopping and starting multiple times thanks to various family events, drama, and yes, moving. Again.

"I like to tell people that all of our products and businesses will go through three phases. There's vision, patience and execution."
(Steve Ballmer)

Currently, I'm in between the "patience" phase and the "execution" phase. So I'm perching again. I'm not certain what the near future holds but I am comforted this morning knowing that I've been strengthened by the past therefore I'm ready for just about anything. Stay tuned.


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