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Posts tagged “sky

Sunup

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An early morning sunrise over a local swamp. The sun had just barely cleared the treeline before it was overtaken by an onslaught of approaching clouds, leaving the rest of the day overcast and dull. The entire shoot lasted about ten minutes and served as yet another example of having to “be there” before the event happens if you expect to capture it!

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Dawn

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No matter how crazy life gets I’m thankful for the peace and beauty of every new day.


Just Beachy

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I’m not a beach person. Many years ago I made it a point to visit the Rhode Island shore a few times every summer, but those days have long since been replaced with other weekend chores and activities. I’m not exactly disappointed either. Around the same time I stopped going to the beach it started getting very polluted, over-crowded and populated by roving groups of kids sporting boom boxes. (Yes, this was pre-iPod days.) It was no longer the peaceful commune with nature that I liked to think it was. Being a bit anti-social, the idea of leaving the tranquility of my farm for a big dose of chaos wasn’t exactly my idea of a day well spent. Besides, once you have animals it’s tough to get away for an entire day.

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Two years ago a massage therapist friend invited me to accompany her to a client’s house who lived in a very exclusive neighborhood on the Connecticut shore. Thinking this might offer an opportunity to do some photography, I accepted her invitation. While my friend worked I walked the area nearby and took some pictures. The large cluster of grass in this photo towered six or seven feet above the edge of a boardwalk that led out to a pier, the sandy beach and ocean shore completely hidden just yards beyond the live border.


Testing! One! Two! Three …

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Anyone who has been reading my blog for the last year knows I went through a buttload of eye surgery and problems. I’m glad to report that a few permanent changes aside, the affected eye is doing good. Translated, that means it sees pretty well most of the time. Occasionally it hurts and I’ll get a day where it’s achy or feels like there’s a grain of sand in it. The rods and cones that make your eye adjust to different levels of light are significantly damaged. So, for example, when I come inside on a bright day it’s a bit like walking into a black wall. I’m trying to learn to give my eye time to adjust to changing light levels, but sometimes it catches me off guard and I get frustrated. Especially if I’m moving from room to room looking for something. But considering what I went through I’m relieved that I have any vision at all. I dodged a bullet there.

While trapped in the continuous loop of repeated eye surgery, I was forced to post-pone a couple of the  preventive tests that the average woman will routinely endure to assure optimal health. Let me just say one thing now and get it off my chest: Men, you have NO idea. None. About any of it. And I’m pretty sure there isn’t a woman alive who, in the midst of a mammogram or PAP test isn’t thinking the same thing. I know women are supposed to get used to having their bodies poked, prodded and palpated by complete strangers, but really, who does? So guys, next time you break out into a cold sweat at the thought of a five second prostate exam just know that no woman alive feels you or cares. Get over it.

Last week, like any well-trained middle-age woman, I went for my slightly overdue mammogram. I’ve been going to the same imaging office since I started this yearly pilgrimage eight years ago. I went somewhere else the first time and was totally and thoroughly traumatized. I mean, who created this torture anyhow? The radiology tech was young, impatient and rough, and it took everything in my power not to kick her in the shins. I promised not to come back and didn’t. Instead, I found an office with a slightly older than middle-age tech. Having been though a mammogram or two herself, Cindy is compassionate, professional and very good at her job. I’ve been going there ever since.

Over the years a few things have changed. For one, x-ray images are now digital, which means they’re “processed” in the same room where they’re taken, and it takes a lot less time to know if you’re done and can be off on your merry way. What hasn’t changed is how the images are taken. The patient steps up to a machine with two small, square plates that close together like a vice. One by one each breast is then stretched out and placed on the lower plate as the tech moves the coordinating arm and shoulder either into or out of the way. The idea is to get not only a picture of the breast, but as much of the surrounding chest wall as possible. This is not an easy feat to achieve, but try they must. Yes, its a little weird to have to watch a stranger manipulate your private parts. It’s not like you can look away. I mean, it’s easier to accomplish the job if you cooperate and …. well, gee … they’re right there under your chin! Sheesh!  When the tech finally has your body contorted into the right position she steps on a foot petal that lowers the top plate toward the lower plate and literally flattens your breast between the two plates like a pancake. Yes, it fucking hurts. And if that’s not enough indignity for you to endure, she  then has to take a second view from a different angle. This time you turn sideways and step toward the machine so it can squeeze your breast from side to side instead of from top to bottom. Good times, not. Then you get to repeat the whole procedure for the other breast.

The other thing that hasn’t changed is that the tech can’t tell you anything about the x-ray. Now I’m not idiot; I worked in dentistry long enough to know that the person developing the x-ray can probably read it just  about as well as the radiologist. Especially someone like Cindy, who’s been taking mammograms since the beginning of time. But her opinion isn’t worth diddly squat and by law, she’s not allowed to share it. But, that doesn’t mean every woman won’t ask. I did. I always do. And she kindly and compassionately deflects. It’s a game every woman probably plays to break the tension. Otherwise it feels a little too much like going to see a palm reader who pours over your hand, then smiles and says, “Thank you very much” and dismisses you without ever telling you what she saw. So we make small talk and babble about the hot weather while I try pretend the whole procedure is really quite routine. Actually, it’s not. There’s nothing routine about getting your breasts manhandled and smashed, then not knowing the results for a week or more. However, once the test is done and I’ve left the office  I’ve never worried about the results. I don’t have any real reason to be concerned and I’m usually just so glad to have it over that I tend to put the whole experience behind me for another year. I’ve always gotten a letter in the mail about a week later telling me everything is hunky-dory and they’ll send a reminder to schedule an appointment in a year. It’s kind of like going to the dentist only it’s booby recall.

So now I’ve crossed one thing off my “to do” list and in two weeks when I go to see my doctor for my semi-annual PAP test (another wildly enjoyable event) I can say I had my mammogram done. Dr. C will be so pleased. And I was pleased too, until yesterday when I came inside from riding and found a message on my answering machine. It was the message no woman ever wants to get: the hospital asking me to call and speak to Lesley in radiology. Shit.  Your mind just kind of wigs out. You have to call, but you don’t want to call. Finally the suspense is killing me so I dialed back and asked for Lesley, who, after the initial pleasantries says I need to come to the hospital to have “more views” taken. “Why?” I ask. Lesley can’t say. “Right” I think, “you’re scaring the crap out of me, but you can’t say why.” Makes no sense whatsoever. Leslie patiently went on to explain that this is not uncommon and it happens a lot.  “What … so this is some kind of breast lottery and my number just got picked?” There’s a small pause in the conversation while Leslie thinks about that. “No” she says finally. “Sometimes the breasts are dense (as in stupid?) or sometimes the radiologist wants a different view.” (Ding! Ding! Ding! Red flag alert! I’m not fooled! How many different ways can you squeeze a breast? I’m guessing that means they think they see something and they want to clarify! ) Leslie didn’t know what my specific case was, but those were the two reasons she gave to help alleviate my fears. (Not!) I scheduled an appointment. They could see me the very next day and oh, by the way, the radiologist will read the films right then and there so I’ll know what’s going on before I leave. Nice touch.

I really don’t have any reason to be worried. Thing is, I’m sure plenty of women thought the same thing and were wrong. But worry never made anything better, so I’ll put on my big girl panties and get myself over to the hospital today to have my boobs assaulted. Again. After all, how much fun can a girl stand?


SunStar

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I’m a little behind getting a photo posted today. Yesterday was (overall) a nice day with family and friends. I was blessed to have been able to talk to all of my siblings in one day, which always makes me feel kinda warm and fuzzy. It’s been 30+ years since I’ve been “home” for Christmas, so talking with each of my sibs on the phone is the next best thing.

Unfortunately, we started our morning with a trip to the hospital to visit my father-in-law who’s been there since early November. It was probably the worst I’ve seen him since his initial operation over six weeks ago. Since then he’s had multiple organ blowouts and failures, fevers, infections, high blood pressure and the inability to eat anything by mouth. A feeding tube was placed late last week and it’s taken several days to get him up to speed with it’s operation. Just when we thought he might finally be able to get downgraded to a rehab facility (oxymoron, since he’s not going anywhere from there) he developed yet another complication. As it stands, I don’t think he’ll ever come out of the anesthesia-related dementia/psychosis. He had a touch of moderate “forgetfulness” going into this, but now ….. well, he can’t comprehend what’s going on or communicate a thing. The family imported his 85 year-old sister from Croatia in hopes that might bolster his reserve, but this has done little more than add another stressed person to the chaos. I vocalized my disagreement about this decision when it was in the process of being made, so now I just need to shut up and stay out of the way.

While this isn’t one of my best pictures, it’s a reminder to enjoy each day as it comes. Our time here is fleeting.


Exit

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At certain times in my life I wanted to think we ought to have the right to decide when our life should come to an end. Acute, chronic pain.Terminal illness. Alzheimer’s. There’s a whole host of nasty, hideous ways to die that when confronted with any number of them, the ability to choose a tidy, medically assisted death seems like a better option. But if living with animals has taught me anything, it’s that knowing with absolute certainty when to let go isn’t nearly as easy or simple as one thinks. Do you continue to make adjustments, accommodate advancing age and all the complexities that come with it, or do you draw a line in the sand and wait? Easier said than done. When does modern medicine become more of a hindrance than a help? Where does hope morph into wishful thinking or grasping at straws? Does having the option to choose death make dying any easier, and if it does, easier on whom?

I don’t have the answer to any of these questions, but I do know that if euthanasia was a choice we’d struggle with that too. You don’t think so now because it’s not a legal option, but if it was I’m pretty sure there wouldn’t be any clear-cut guidelines for it’s use. We’d still waffle. Because difficulties aside, I think there are some pretty important lessons to be learned through our experiences with death.


Clearing

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Once the clouds move out it should be a nice day!


Remains

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The remains of a light snowfall last week.


Swamp Sunrise

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This was a challenging spot to try and shoot. I was perched on a steep bank only a few feet from a busy and very foggy highway. Thick ropes of invasive vines wrapped around my feet and tripod, making it hard to move, and thorny brush ripped at my clothing. Broken bottles and discarded garbage lay scattered in the foreground. I hoped the sun would break clear through the fog. I’d seen several better views on my way to this spot, but none offered me a  safe parking spot for my car. Today, this will have to do.


Dusting

 

 

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We had a light dusting of snow yesterday that’s sticking around today.


Stoned

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I got out to shoot twice yesterday, a rarity for me. At 4:00 PM. I was vacuuming like a crazy lady, trying desperately to get a few last minute chores done before the evening routine of feeding animals and people got underway. But I kept glancing out the front window at the setting sun. I’ve chosen to miss shooting some nice sunsets only because our house sits in a valley where I don’t really get to see the sun set until it’s too late to do anything about it. I know, I know …. a good photographer would be in place well ahead of time, ready to capture that perfect shot. But I’m not that photographer. It’s pretty darn hard to feed a handful of hungry critters and get a meal started if I’m out shooting at that time of day. So instead of making a full commitment and getting out there where I need to be ahead of time, I play the Race Game.

The Race Game involves keeping one eye on the sky for an hour or so before I’d need to dash out if I want to try to catch a nice sunset. I have a small Rolodex of sites that will offer a pretty decent view and that I can reach from my house in about five to fifteen minutes. The trick is not cutting myself short on time, which I’m apt to do. It’s amazing how fast the sky can change. A sky that looks like it’s going to be great when viewed from my living room can easily tank by the time I arrive at my chosen spot. This photo was one of those times. The sky was probably stellar ten minutes before I arrived. I saw glimpses of it, but before I could get there the wind moved the clouds off the map. This cemetery is one of few places nearby that offers an unobstructed view of the horizon, but as I quickly discovered, it’s bitterly cold and windy. So I shot a dozen frames or so and headed back home. I’m not displeased with the results, but I’m not thrilled either. I guess this will have to be filed under the category of Ones That Got Away.


Peaceful

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I feel like this is the calm before the storm. Tomorrow morning my father-in-law will undergo a surgical procedure that we hope will stop the advance of his cancer. It’s going to be a grueling, eight-hour operation that his eighty-two year old body is not likely to tolerate very well. Still, there are no other alternatives.

 Cancer was around when I was young, but it was much less prevalent than it is today. Even so, I remember overhearing adults whisper about the horrors of cancer and how some day they’d find a cure for it. And people said this with such conviction! I mean, if we could progress from using horses, to automobiles, to putting a man on the moon, why wouldn’t we be able to solve the mystery of cancer? My parent’s generation watched modern medicine chase and tackle so many challenging health threats of their day that it was just natural to think science and medical research would come up with something to prevent and treat cancer.

But they never did. And at the risk of offending anyone, I submit research has never wanted to produce a “cure.” Think of the financial flood that would suddenly seize and dry up if some poor slob stumbled on a cure! So fools that we are, we pretend to believe there will be an end in sight. In a vicious cycle of co-dependency we hold fundraisers and write checks to support a hopeless cause while the researchers frantically try to keep the collection plates spinning. Meanwhile, a very sweet elderly man will most likely suffer a miserable and unfortunate end to a much cherished life while his family looks on helplessly. Again.

Hang tough, Papa Dino.


Frost

 

 

 

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A frosty fall morning.

 

 


It’s Back!

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We’re getting our first real snow of the winter season and it’s hard not to feel sorry for myself. After all, a week ago we were getting T-shirt-warm tropical high winds. Today it’s another high wind warning and polar fleece jackets, hat and mittens. Opposite ends of the spectrum! I certainly feel for the folks who are still displaced and without power from Hurricane Sandy. Seems like they just can’t catch a break. Meanwhile, it’s piling up out there!

Speaking of broken ….. our president stuck. So I’m wondering what happened to all those folks who kept yapping about needing a change and taking this country back? Well, time to shut up and get to work. I don’t think sitting around bitching about who’s in the white house will change anything for the better.

Speaking of better … I was hoping I’d have new glasses by today. I don’t, but maybe tomorrow?


The Dock

 

 

 

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Thanks to all who left comments or wrote to encourage me to keep blogging. I have a very large catalog of pictures that I’ve taken over the last two years, so I’ll go back and dig around to see what I can come up for this blog. I apologize ahead of time if I post a repeat. It’s doubtful that I’ll post the exact same picture, but I often take several photos at each shoot, which leaves me with a pretty good assortment of shots that I can use. I’ll try my best not to get too repetitious, but unless conditions improve I don’t expect to be taking new photos for at least a few more weeks. (And even that might be wishful thinking.)

Both my parents grew up on lakes. My father was raised on the shores of one of the Great Lakes (Lake Ontario), my mother on one of the smaller lakes in the Finger Lakes region. (Conesus Lake.) As a consequence, both parents felt it was important for all of their children to learn how to swim at a very young age because they knew we would grow up spending a considerable amount of time at either lake. I don’t recall how old I was or how I got my feet wet, but I was a proficient, if not highly skilled swimmer well before Kindergarten. My mother enrolled each of us in formal swimming lessons, though I’m not entirely sure why. Perhaps she felt it was important for us to achieve our Red Cross swimming cards or maybe it was just her way of showing off? Whatever her reason, we smoked every kid in each class that we took.

By the time I was in sixth grade I was waiting to be old enough to take Senior Lifesaving. If I recall, you had to be a certain age to enroll.  At that point in my life we lived in the suburbs of the city and we had an in-ground pool in our back yard. Swimming was as natural for us as any other childhood game or sport and given this advantage, I’d advanced well ahead of the curve. In fact, my formal lessons had come to a screeching halt a few years prior as I had passed all but the two final tests: Junior and Senior Lifesaving. As a young man my father had earned money working as a lifeguard at a public beach in Charlotte, NY., so naturally he expected that his children would take (and pass) the lifesaving courses. And as mom pointed out, with a pool in our back yard, the more card-carrying lifesavers around, the better!

My older sister was exactly eighteen months (to the day) older than me, and when she reached the age to enroll in Senior Lifesaving my mother somehow managed to get me enrolled in the class too. This meant that I was the smallest and youngest in a large class of mostly boys and a few girls. While my sister was a strong swimmer she was by no means a tough girl. But I was, and that more than made up for the slight disadvantage I had going into this class. I don’t remember all the details of this experience, but I do remember having to swim lots and lots of laps and having to tread water for a ridiculous amount of time. None of that bothered me the least, but what did bog me down was the amount of reading and reciting that we had to do. I remember sitting poolside and reading our Lifesaving books, yellow hi-lighter in hand. Often, my sister and I would jump into the deep end of our pool to practice something we’d just read. I’m sure this gave us a huge advantage over other students in our class.

When it finally came time for our water tests the instructors did their best to try to intimidate us. We were each tested alone; nobody except the crew of instructors and their hand picked “drowning victims” could watch. Each test for every student was different, created spontaneously as the student was ushered from the bowels of the locker room up to the pool. We nervously waited our turn, then as each student returned from their test we peppered them with our questions. “How was it?” “Was it hard?” “Did you pass?” “How many tries did it take?” Unfortunately, each student was sworn to secrecy before being dismissed, and so we learned nothing. Two or three students were injured in the process. Dislocated fingers and broken toes seemed to be the catch of the day.

My sister was called to test ahead of me, leaving me for last. By then, word had it that several students had failed their water tests. I was shocked to learn that several of the biggest, best swimmers had failed to “land” their victim in the allotted amount of time. I worried that my non-aggressive sister might not fare well and I hoped the best for her. When she returned, she looked defeated (she had, in fact passed) and subdued, and she wouldn’t catch my eye, afraid perhaps that her big sister concern would tempt her to share more information than allowed. I remember the chill as I walked up the long tiled corridor, followed by the strong smell of chlorine as the warm humid air hit my face. I was quickly introduced to my ‘victim’ before he jumped into the deep end of the Olympic size pool. By all accounts, he was huge. Tall, muscular, very long-limned, and I had no idea how I was going to “rescue” him. I knew for certain that he’d be doing his best to try to drown me in the process, especially since “Realistic” was the only description I’d managed to cajole out of any of the other students.

My test was explained to me. I was to perform a direct front in-water approach and a classic cross chest carry. Once I got out there anything could happen and I would be allowed to make my own decisions on the fly, but that was what I was supposed to attempt. I nodded that I understood, glanced at the clock and walked to the edge of the pool. There were ropes with life rings attached, long poles and other implements that we could use as we deemed necessary, but only after our prior assignment had failed. The whistle blew and I dove in. A strong under water swimmer, I didn’t surface until I was just out of reach of my victim. I called to him and he lunged directly toward me, mimicking a full blown panic! I dove deep, grabbed his legs, spun him around until his back was against me. I crawled up his body, gripping him like a vice, terrified that he would get turned around again. I knew I didn’t stand a chance if he wrapped one of his spidery arms around my neck. My lungs were about to burst. I kicked hard, surfaced, threw an arm across his chest and locked my elbow down. We headed toward the edge of the pool, but his long, heavy body dwarfed mine and I had to fight to keep us both afloat. Meanwhile, my victim was doing everything in his power to sabotage my rescue. He repeatedly tangled his legs in mine and tried to break free, but I rolled him like an alligator and kept working toward the make believe shore.

I was one of four students who passed the Senior Lifesaving water test that summer. I never applied to be a life guard anywhere, but swimming has remained my strong suit. Many years ago I joined a YMCA and swam laps on my lunch hour. Something about the steady rhythm of the crawl appealed to me. I found it calming. When I was young my parents used to pack me up and send me off with my older sister for a two week stay with my mother’s mother. Grandma didn’t spend much time worrying about us or supervising our every move. We knew what was off limits and what the rules were, and were were pretty much on our own. One of my fondest memories was waking up at the crack of dawn so we could swim while the water was still calm. The cool morning air made the water feel bath-tub warm and the only sound we could hear was the soft slapping of the occasional wave against the sides of the rowboat that was moored along the dock. I remember the long, stringy, green seaweed that clung to the wooden ladder at the end of the dock. It looked like cooked rhubarb as it waved back and forth, pulled by an invisible current. I remember doing handstands, my feet kicking in the air and my fingers pushing against the ripples of sand on the shallow bottom. My sister and I swam or rowed to a float that was secured some 150 yards or so from the main dock, where we planned our  strategy for swimming across the lake. (Accompanied, we thought, by one of us rowing the boat alongside!) We were young … probably seven and nine when we were doing all this, and totally unsupervised. Like many memories from my childhood, I’m so glad we had the opportunity to do these things, unfettered by parents who thought better of our crazy schemes and ideas.


Stillwater

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Blue Spanish Sky by Chris Isaac from Heart Shaped World

I’m hoping this fall is as colorful as it was two summers ago. It’s hard to believe fall is almost here. Where does the time go?


Talent

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Let Me Lie by Haley Westenra from the CD Celtic Treasure

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How can you not stop and hold your breath when you hear a voice like this? Whether you like the style or not, you can’t deny the quality of her voice is nothing short of spectacular. My entire life I’ve been surrounded by amazingly gifted musicians and artists. It’s always been my  greatest wish that I had a good singing voice or musical talent. Alas, I do not. While I have great vocal range and the ability to carry a tune clearly, my singing voice is just average.

My mother was a music major. Her specialty was cello, but I knew her as a pianist. Never once in my life did I hear my mother play a stringed instrument. Sometimes I wonder about that today, why she never kept or played a cello. Certainly, she must have owned one at one time. Perhaps she rented her instrument? I don’t know, but sometimes I close my eyes and picture her playing; head bent, focused on the sound her fingers made as they pressed against the strings. She was a beautiful young woman with a clear strong voice that could sing alto or soprano. Unlike me, she could harmonize. She could also tell when someone was singing off-key or playing the wrong tempo and was never afraid to say so.

My father’s parents were both musicians and although I never heard my dad play an instrument, he grew up with a deep appreciation for all kinds of music. He also had a strong singing voice. Needless to say, everyone in my family sang and played an instrument, in some cases even multiple instruments. My siblings and I were fortunate to have been coached and coaxed into participating in musical programs and instruction from elementary school through high school graduation. We sang and played instruments at a competitive classical level and my brother, probably the most musically gifted of us all, was also a lead vocalist in an amateur rock band. But during all that time we sang as a family in true barbershop style quartet with harmony. Much of what we sang were old Irish folk songs and ballads like the songs Haley sings. And while I couldn’t sing harmony and my voice was nothing special, I was able to carry tune and sing a mean melody.

Music is such a strong tonic that the simple notes of a song can transport us through time and evoke memories and feelings long since forgotten. A a talent like this should not to be wasted or squandered on foolish pursuits; for those who lack this talent depend on those to whom it has been given.


Oh, And It’s V-Day Too!

 

 

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A lovely Valentine’s Day scene.

Unfortunately, this photo was taken in October!

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On another note, it’s my birthday. Yup. I was blessed with being born on a Hallmark Holiday. Back when I was a kid, greeting card holidays weren’t so over-the-top commercialized. Now they just make me gag. I’ve always hated being born on Valentine’s Day. During my elementary (primary) school days I was thoroughly embarrassed by it and cringed at the, “And it’s Cheryl’s birthday, too!” announcement that was always the tag line at every V-Day party event. It scarred me for life. To this day I still can’t entertain the thought of doing anything remotely party-ish to celebrate my birthday.

I also have an aversion to anything heart-shaped, red, or cherry-flavored, which is an ongoing joke I share with one of my sisters. Knowing I’d been the recipient of one too many hear-shaped, red, cherry-flavored birthday cakes, my sister sent me a heart-shaped baking pan, a box of cherry flavored cake mix and a can of pink frosting for my 50th birthday. She cracks me up, but no, I did not bake that cake!  As a thoroughly committed Tom-boy since birth, I remain to this day appropriately appalled by the girly-girlishness of Valentine’s Day. I find it nauseating.

From a commercial standpoint, having a Valentine’s Day birthday is a big rip-off. I’m never sure if I’m getting something because it’s a V-day present or a birthday present. And the fact that it’s an over-hyped “holiday” means it doesn’t take very much imagination to find an “acceptable” gift. Flowers? Check. Candy? Check. Are those birthday presents or Valentine’s Day presents? I can never tell. Many years ago I got engaged on Valentine’s Day. Or was that my Birthday present? See? I’m still confused! Want to have an impromptu dinner out to celebrate my birthday? Forget it. Mother’s Day aside, V-day is the most heavily booked ‘holiday’ at most restaurants, which pretty much negates the spontaneity of that idea. And besides, nothing says “you’re special”  on your birthday like eating dinner surrounded by twenty or thirty other couples trying to express the same sentiments … for a different reason.

Most of my birthday cards are actually Valentine’s Day cards with “Happy Birthday!” cleverly penned into the greeting somewhere. Less creative (or rushed) folks  just X out the Valentine’s Day reference and substitute “Birthday” after the word “Happy” Yeah. That says “special” like nothing else! And every year on my special day I have to go out and find a gift and a card for that special someone in my life. I can’t ever really have my “own” special day. Not even if I want to. Because thanks to Hallmark, I’ll come off looking like some kind of heartless bitch if I don’t get something for my sweetie on Valentine’s Day. Yes, it’s so nice to have to share every single birthday with someone else.

So heart-shaped cakes, jewelry and other V-Day tchatchkes aside, what would I really like for my birthday? Well the things that always hover at the top the list really can’t be given. Less (physical) pain. Good health. No more hot flashes. Dogs that don’t bark and carry on every time the alarm clock goes off. A phone that holds a charge for more than an hour. A husband who doesn’t work 13-hour days and 6 hours on Saturday just because. Family members who nurture and support each other in spite of different opinions or remote locations. (And that goes for both sides of my extended family!) The gift of being able to give more love and less judgement. Gosh, I could use two of those!

On a more practical level, I’d like a coffee carafe that doesn’t pee all over my counter every time I pour a cup of coffee or fill the water reservoir. (Who engineered that?) I’d love some new music. I exhausted my workout repertoire ten years ago. If money grew on trees, I’ve had my eye on a new camera lens for the better part of six months. And I’d love to send my horse for more training. But that’s all just wishful thinking.

Basically, there’s nothing I really want or need for my birthday. I’m at that stage where I’m cutting back, not trying to add to the consumption of stuff.  Plus, I strongly believe in not sitting around waiting for someone to figure out what you want. If you truly want something baldy enough, then go out and pursue it yourself. So that being said, I’m starting piano lessons next week! Ha … if mom was still alive I bet she’d be thrilled … and she’d probably make me a pink, cherry-flavored, heart-shaped cake just to celebrate!


Didn’t Happen

 

 

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A shot of the kind of fall we didn’t get last year!


Moon Set

 

 

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Hard to believe it’s February 9th and we’ve only had a small amount of snow on the ground once or twice. Not that I mind!


Make Believe

 

 

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I wonder how many children today will grow up and remember playing make believe?

When I was a child we lived in a safe, suburban neighborhood with lots of children. The road we lived on connected to another road, which connected to another, and so on down the line. This created a large area that we were gradually allowed to explore as our age and parents deemed fit. For a few years we were not permitted to venture beyond the length of our own road and the road behind our house. However, as we grew more responsible and got to know more kids, we were allowed to expand our territory. But until that time my older sister and I were the only girls in our age group on our street.

Being girls, my sister and I were usually the last kids picked to fill out the ranks for a rousing game of Army or Cowboys and Indians. I was a plucky tomboy who often made up for my offending gender by being a fast runner and a great tree climber who never hesitated to shoot to kill with my imaginary weapon. But my older sister was a girlie-girl and her only claim to fame was being pretty. She was almost always the first member of her team to be captured, then proceeded to play the damsel in distress to the hilt. I’d get annoyed watching the boys fawn over my sister and gallantly offer to find her a safe place to hide and vow to protect her. In my opinion she didn’t deserve their protection …. she didn’t contribute a darn thing! Meanwhile, I was out there fighting fights, winning battles and taking prisoners!

I’m sure many parents today don’t encourage their kids to go outside and play imaginary war games. Instead, they let their kids play them on an electronic device, then say that’s OK because it’s “different.” But I don’t have to have children to know what’s different about playing make believe with real, face-to-face friends. It teaches kids how to negotiate, build and work as teams, resolve their own conflicts, make fair rules, choose leaders, follow directions and create group spirit.

When you were a child what make believe games did you play?


Magenta Morning

 

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A magenta sunrise.


Chance

 

 

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A classic New England scene; something we take for granted in my neck of the woods. Scenes like this were missing from my region last fall and I was sorely disappointed. I couldn’t wait to get out and capture them with my camera. I’d only been shooting for four months when I took the photo above and I made plenty of mistakes. Since then I figured I’d learned a bit more and I was eager to get out as the seasons changed and give it another go. Sadly, the conditions never materialized.

It seems like every time we get a weather event it turns out to be far more extreme than expected. Twice in the span of two months we had major, even record-breaking storms, and both times I was literally trapped at my own house. Downed trees prevented me from grabbing my camera and recording the event as it unfolded. By the time our road was open and our power back on, the visual impact had significantly lessened, if not vanished altogether.

I try to “see” interesting things to photograph that are as close to home as possible. I know getting out and scouting the area is important and I should probably put a lot more emphasis on that during times when the weather or the light isn’t cooperating. Unfortunately, that’s not nearly as exciting or gratifying as shooting a great picture. But it would save a bunch of time on those mornings when I know I’ve got the right conditions. So I should make it a priority to get out and scout things a few times a month instead of leaving my success to chance and good luck.


Mastery

 

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One of the first things I tried to shoot as a new photographer was the moon, because I’ve never lost my little girl awe of a big yellow (or red) full moon. Nothing stops me with wide-eyed wonder and appreciation like the sight of a glowing moon silently rising over the top of a dark treeline.  One of the things about having horses is that I spend more time outside than most people ordinarily do. I feed our horses hay several times a day and their last feeding is around 10:30 or 11 PM. It’s usually at that late hour that I have the best view of the moon as it moves slowly across the open horizon. Soon after, the moon drops behind the trees again and won’t resurface until the early hours of the morning, when it reappears on the opposite side of our house.

My first attempts to photograph the moon had mixed results. I soon learned that nighttime photography required a set of skills that I didn’t have yet … and still don’t.  The few decent shots I managed to get were really nothing more than sheer dumb luck. The photo above is actually a setting moon, taken at dawn. I probably shot at least fifty or sixty frames, of which only a few were keepers. And even the best were not great. But I kept a few of those shots because if I ever start thinking I’ve mastered my camera I can look at some of those early photos and be humbled. There’s always something more I can learn!