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Showing posts from 2011

Inside the box~

At Thanksgiving time, I always think back to my years as a young teacher. It was traditional to have students list all the things they were thankful for. But I was a think-outside-the-box teacher, and I urged them to think beyond what I thought were the obvious things to be thankful for.
Yes, yes, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, I'd think, as I listed their comments on the board. Sure, food and pets. Yes, of course, your house. "But what ELSE?" I'd ask.
They were silent.
For these seven- and eight-year-olds there really was nothing else. What they were thankful for fit neatly into the box.
And I've come to realize this is true for me, as well. My box is full of the obvious blessings. What ELSE could I ask for? What else really matters?

The blessings outside my box--and there are plenty-- are mere frosting on the cake...or should I say, stuffing in the turkey?
Happy Thanksgiving. May your boxes be full. May all your thorns have roses.
---

Giving Thanks For *You…

Just for fun...

Sometimes it’s fun to photograph something different, something playful,  to take a break from  landscapes and sunsets, as much as I love them. Fun to shoot something I could never do on my own.  So I was happy to have the opportunity through the Plymouth Digital Photographer’s club to do just that. 
Roy Marshall, a member of two local camera clubs, did the prep work, setting up a sophisticated system that relies on perfect timing, with strobes designed to flash in time to catch the split-second of action--in this case,  a splash of colored water.



Roy partially filled three brandy snifters with colored water and set them on a platform. About twenty of us stood behind our cameras, which were perched on tripods, and focused on the glasses. Then Roy pulled the platform up a short incline, and lights were turned out.   

In this pitch-blackness, we clicked open camera shutters, using "bulb mode," which allowed the shutter to stay open until released. We waited for the platform to …

Cause and effect ...

A local man, Michael, was killed when the North Tower of the World Trade Center, where he worked on the 105th floor, collapsed on September 11, 2001.
For the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, a monument in Michael’s memory was designed and built by an architect from his town, and was to stand somewhere in the section of the town cemetery dedicated to veterans. 
The architect wanted two things: granite of a certain grey color that to him signified somber respect, and granite that was quarried in America.

He searched for granite wherever it is architects search, and eventually found just the grey he’d envisioned. And it was quarried in America -- Shanksville, Pennsylvania, to be exact – a perfect and symbolic touch for a 9/11 monument.
It didn’t take long for those in charge of the 9/11 ceremony to pick the proper spot for Michael’s monument.  It was placed just behind the Iraq memorial … because the attack on the World Trade Center had spurred another man from this town, Shayne, to enlist i…

Timing is Everything~

I was in Rockport recently, a picturesque North Shore coastal fishing town. It’s got a small artsy village where tourists roam the narrow street that leads to Bearskin Neck and a view of the ocean.
Bruce and I stopped to watch a cat hunting a grasshopper in a raised flowerbed, that  bordered the roadway. The cat was quick. She darted and leaped, following the erratic hopping of the insect.
When the cat looked right, the grasshopper leaped left,  perching triumphantly on a zinnia. I thought briefly of scooping it into my hand and moving it farther away from the cat, who was still searching.
Then the grasshopper hopped onto my foot, but before I could walk away--taking it with me out of harm’s way--it made a dynamic leap into the street ... where an oblivious tourist immediately stepped on it.
The crunch--like biting into a potato chip—stayed in my ears. The unexpected unfairness of it still lingers.
The man continued walking; the cat went on hunting. And I was left to think that surely t…

A bird in the hand~

Recently I had the privilege of going with a group of photographers to a bird banding station in Plymouth—Manomet Center ForConservation Sciences.  In the roughly forty years the center has been operating, the center has banded more than 350, 000 birds.
The coastal acres are thickly wooded. Fine mesh nets edge trails and capture low flying birds. Volunteers check the nets hourly and gently extricate any birds that have become entangled, then band them and send them on their way. 

Because the staff knew we were coming—twenty of us with our cameras—they had held onto a few birds for us to photograph up close. 
What became quickly apparent was the personality of each species. Some are cooperative and preen for the camera, some are flighty and flustered at being the center of attention, some peck at the handler, and others resort to unusual postures, like the blue jay who bent its head at a ninety degree angle to its body and stuck his beak in the air, resisting gentle "rearrangement&…

Sunrise... my new friend~

Since I retired, I don’t often see the sunrise—by choice. No more setting my alarm. I wake when I wake, and it's usually well after the sun has broken the horizon.
As a photographer, I know this cuts out the best light of the day, but what's wrong with sleeping late and going after the sunsets? 

Recently, I joined Plymouth Digital Photographers, an online photography club that has frequent live meet-ups to shoot at various places in the area.
A twice a year opportunity arose this week to photograph the Bourne Bridge and the Railroad Bridge with the sun rising beneath them both! The same alignment happens again in August, so I’ve been told.

So when my alarm went off at  4 a.m., I dressed quickly, got my camera and tripod, and set off for Wareham, a town on the "mainland" side of the Cape Cod Canal-- a forty minute ride from where I live. 
The forecast was iffy;  it had rained off and on in the night. Who wants to wake early if the sun might stay in bed?
Still, I made mysel…

Winter's just pouting~

You think I LIKE working overtime?

Going, going, almost gone!

Winter on the way out?
Vote yes!
I always toss my camera in the car, so when I parked in Ikea's parking lot this past January I took a picture simply because I liked how it looked. Reviewing shots today, I thought the picture used its 1000 words to say exactly what I'm feeling.

Good bye winter. Hurry spring.
~~~~~
Springtime is the land awakening.  The March winds are the morning yawn.  ~Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You

That voice we all use~

As I walk down the carpeted hall of the assisted living facility to visit my mother, I notice several new “welcome” signs hanging on the doors to other rooms. Residents have died and left a vacant room. There is always a waiting list.
My mother’s door is ajar and I peek in.  She’s on her couch watching TV. How small she looks, and how alone!
I tap several times before finally walking in saying, “Hello--oo!” in that cheery voice we all use in such situations—the ones the nurses use upon entering to give her her pills.
She turns to look. No expression.  And then, like an iron that has been plugged in and slowly warming up, I see a puzzled look in her eyes, then a glimmer, a spark of recognition, and then she smiles.


“So good to see you,” she says.
She’s good at this game, my mother is. The one where she’s lost in time and place, but manages to fall back on social niceties, the right words, the right expressions, so that no one suspects she has no idea who she’s speaking to.
And because thi…

Egypt in our living rooms~

I met an old friend I hadn’t seen for years—decades, actually—in the supermarket today. We talked about life: snow, more snow coming, husbands, husbands shoveling, and, of course, our kids. And snow!



Not once did we talk about the situation in Egypt, although I went home to the constant news coverage; maybe she did too.

It’s so odd:

… to think about filling the bird feeders because another storm is coming this weekend—another!—while watching the footage of cars mowing down people in Egyptian streets.

…to compare prices of vitamins, knowing that shops have closed in Cairo. No food, let alone vitamins for sale.

…to drive down streets narrowed by snow, knowing people narrow Cairo's streets.

…to watch my son toss in free throws in his college basketball game, while other mothers' sons toss Molotov cocktails.

…to live an everyday life, while, right in my living room, I see others, miles across the world, living their not so everyday lives, wanting what we all want: happiness fo…

The groundhog says...

Drum roll, please!

Phil, the famous weather prognosticating groundhog of Punxsutawney, PA, will be closely watched on February 2, as he has been for 120 years. Not the same groundhog, of course, although some say he is: magic punch fed to Phil each summer lengthens his life by seven years. 
And who knows? Maybe. Sometimes it seems like meteorologists may have been sipping some sort of punch…although, I must say, they’ve been accurate about the snowstorms this winter.
If Phil sees his shadow when he pokes his head out of the burrow, he'll scurry back inside for six more weeks of winter. 


But given the current weather across much of the country, sun and shadows seem unlikely. That would mean an early spring!
Except that, while Punxsutawney Phil has forecast an early spring 14 times in his 114 recorded predictions to date, his predictions have been correct only 39% of the time.
So we might be better off if he does see his shadow.
But don’t tell poor Phil that spring--the vernal equinox--i…

Old man winter...I kind of like him~

I wished the recent snowstorm had hit during the day so I could have watched it unfold. Instead, I woke four times in the night and moved from window to window to watch the snow pile up. My husband slept through the excitement—not that he considers a snowstorm exciting.

He doesn’t share my love of storms. Not many do, it seems. They wreak havoc, of this I’m aware, and I don’t want to have people or their homes harmed. But still, I look forward to storms from the moment the TV meteorologists begin their warning hype, and I feel gypped somehow if they fizzle.



When the power went out in a recent storm, my husband gave me a grumpy look, as if my love of storms somehow had the power to stop electrons from flowing through wires.

“And you like this?” he says.

I do!

We shoveled, kept the woodstove burning, lit the gas burners on the kitchen stove with matches, so we were warm and well fed. But by afternoon the power had been out for 12 hours, and it seemed less and less likely that it would…

Oh, that old thing?

Last March I had a freelance photography assignment in Gloucester, MA. When I was done, I headed up the coast to take some shots of the waves crashing on rocky shore, windswept beaches, and the beautiful homes in the area. I drove to Rockport because I wanted to get some shots of Motif #1—the “most often-painted building in America,” according to Wikipedia.
I’d know it when I saw it, I’d thought--a red fishing shack built in the 1840s, the subject of so many paintings from the artist’s colony in Rockport that painter Lester Hornby dubbed it Motif #1.
But, like overlooking a celebrity walking the dog without her hair and makeup done, I dismissed the old fishing shack I saw as a second rate look alike. That faded, old thing? Couldn't be. Where, oh, where was the real Motif #1? 

Recently I had my chance to look for the shack again when a group of photographers met to shoot some winter pix along the rocky North Shore coast. Rockport was on the agenda. And what do you know?  The "fa…

The soul of a tree~

Sometimes a thing can be right in front of you, but you just don’t notice it for some reason—too busy, too distracted, or maybe there is something else that catches your eye instead.

I’ve driven by this willow countless times in the past thirty years… and never once noticed it—not enough to have it register ... as anything special, anyway. Just an ordinary weeping willow among others on the edge of a lake.

If I saw it at all, I looked beyond it at the view of the sparkling lake, reflecting the life on its shores, the island in the middle, and of course, jet skis, motorboats, and kids fishing on the banks.

But in the midst of a recent snowstorm that was busy erasing all familiar landmarks--including the lake--the tree stood alone against a background of white. I saw it—really SAW it--for the first time. How had I never noticed this tree with its delicate, graceful branches spread protectively over its two small companions?

Despite the fact that it was snowing heavily, and plows wer…

Setting my mind to it~

Here it is again. That turning point called the NEW YEAR, the start of which is considered a perfect moment to try, try again to do whatever it was you’d vowed to do at the start of last year, but failed to maintain for 365 days.

Why is it so hard to stick to goals? Especially when they are good for you? And even when you really WANT to stick to them?

I don’t know.

When I was slim and trim (and young), exercise was a reward in itself. I loved the relaxed feeling after working up a sweat in an aerobics class, the feeling of power after weight training, the slim, trim body with defined muscles. I exercised routinely for years and years.

Then, when I was forty-six, I had some minor surgery and had to stop working-out for a while. I discovered how nice it was to come straight home from work and sit with a cup of tea and the newspaper. Somehow I never got back into consistent daily exercise. I'd start and stop, start and stop, with longer and longer times before I started again.



After…