Sunday, September 30, 2012


Imagine if we all really tried to understand one another.Imagine if we didn't fathom why you believed what you did, but respected your beliefs. Imagine if what we heard on Sunday, or Friday or Saturday lasted longer than an hour. Imagine if what we all heard those days wasn't laced with questioning the way others lived.

Imagine if we didn't demonize the other.

Imagine if we didn't always have the right on our side.

Imagine if there wasn't an our side.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

A Gift

What's one of the most important things to pass on to a child?

I think it's to see themselves as someone who is worthy of being loved.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Why I Can't Be a Wildlife Photographer

I know of a physician who takes Photography Safari vacations in Africa.She travels with huge lenses and several cameras and an attitude. No fear. No trepidation. "Bring them on."

Trophy photos adorn the walls of her office waiting room: zebras racing the wind, a bull elephant trumpeting, wildebeests, hippos lolling in the water, giraffes, hyaenas and even an impala. Each photo captures the animal in motion—save for the giraffe who stares ahead as if aware of being photographed.

Late yesterday afternoon I set my camera with a 60mm 2.8 macro lens on a tripod and honed in on a Rambutan. The small fruit remained in one position while I moved closer and closer until I manually focused in to several protruding spikelike points.

I heard a rustling in the woods—looked out and saw a rafter of wild turkeys. It took me a while to release the camera from the tripod. With a 60mm lens I wasn't terribly close—then the series of mishaps: I forgot to change the manual focus to auto, I forgot to change the shutter speed from 1/5 of a second.

Still I snapped away until I realized the error and began to make all the switches. In the meantime twenty or so turkeys ran across my field of vision. Finally one stopped—the last one and I quickly took the photo.

Upstairs in my camera bag—a telephoto lens.

In order to see the sole wild turkey I cropped and cropped a rather fuzzy photo. The entire rafter of wild turkeys had long disappeared.

I then returned to the rambutan which hadn't moved nor sighed nor altered since my encounter with a moving target. The sun did change somewhat, but I took my time resetting everything, placing my camera back on the tripod, settling in for a quiet photo shoot.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Conversation in Several Acts

Words carry their own weight; their own nuances, their own way of creating a scene.

They are the place setters for the scene. They clothe the voices with costumes.

Once said they circle about settling into the play. They can't be reined in, altered or obliterated.

Later on they may be explained. Perhaps new words are substituted, but they remain beneath the revision.

We don't collect the words. We let them go. We won't take them out and spread them out on a table for all to see. We won't flaunt them or use them as bargaining chips.

We forgive the words, move on, but learn to be wary of words that need explanations or reshaping, or must undergo a metamorphosis.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


One sock lost in the dryer.

One tee shirt left somewhere.

A story I began to write and forgot to save—somewhere in space, I expect.

Relatives that ran out of time and left—

One day I'll find that sock—probably curled up in a towel or sheet.

I'll replace the blue tee shirt with another blue tee shirt and learn to love the new shirt.

The story probably needed to be revised so I'll start over.

The relatives that left when their time ran out often left with unsaid words— but it isn't possible to finish all conversations.

It's the friends or relatives who leave because of unsaid words. They can't be replaced.

In time they find new worlds and new words.
They too are mourned.

Monday, September 24, 2012

When the Unexpected Happens

I walk outside and hear a woodpecker, see a squirrel augment his find for winter, and listen to several leaves spiral in the wind—or did I merely see them and imagine how they sounded.

Then a rabbit runs and stops, stares at me and sits statue still as if that way I won't notice. I hadn't expected him to hold his ground that way, I hadn't anticipated his lack of fear. I expected a different response.

Last week I sat next to Marylyn, a woman I often sat next to at a weekly Bible study. We spoke about painting——watercolor and mixed media.

"How long," she said, "does it take you to complete a mixed media painting?"

"It depends," I said, "if there's a lot of drying time, if I add layers and layers, if I take my time."

Marilyn painted representational watercolors— while my paintings were more abstract. I liked the way she captured landscapes and flowers. Last spring she brought in photos of her work and I brought photos of my work on an IPAD.

"I'd like to do that," she said, "I can show you how." Summer came and we never got around to that.


Then an email from the church— Marilyn died. Just like that—unexpected.

You'll be missed—

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Of Two Minds

Today I noted my first sumptuous red leaf. How is it possible to both love the possibilities of colors and mourn the loss of summer days?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

On Belonging to a Book Club

It's always difficult to discuss a book if you carry around a backpack of dislikes. How often we forget that writers often create characters we wouldn't like as next door neighbors. 

Writers do not have to create a set of characters we like. How difficult it is to discuss a book when someone ignores the story and says , "Typical book written by a man." 

Bless the readers who hone in on the elements of writing and critique without getting mired in their own  petty likes and dislikes.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Seeing The Hidden

The world’s a wondrous place inhabited by a bevy of plants—an extravagant array

When I began taking macro photographs I needed to hone in on details—focusing my lens forced me to really see tiny features I hadn’t noticed before.

How often do I see something without really seeing it—how often do I see a person without really seeing her?

It takes hard looking to gather the myriad parts—and even then it isn’t possible to gather together all aspects of a person. Who is this person? I may see one façade, but there are so many facets, so much history, and so many secrets.

Everything is so connected to a history. This is a photo of the underside of a Sunflower I bought at a farm market. One Sunflower sitting in a bucket of water—one dollar.

Who planted the flower? Who cut it down? I know the answer to the last question because I often see farm hands out in the fields. Do they live around here? Are they migrant workers?

How much do you pay workers who cut down Sunflowers and plant corn and vegetables?

I took my Sunflower home and set it up for macro shots of the multicolored center. The colors, like a Peacock’s feathers, appeared luminous. After the photos I placed the long stalked flower out on the deck to dry out.

Yesterday I turned it over and took photos of the underside. Only when looking through my macro lens did I realize that I wanted the tiny hairs in focus. That required really staring at those hairs.

I saw how they danced, intertwined, stood alone, clung to one another, formed groups, bent over, touched, and stood out as a shape among shapes.

Click the photos and enlarge in order to see all the details

Thursday, September 20, 2012


It's natural and it can't be held back—

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What's a Working Definition of Responsibility

Just because we live with freedom of expression doesn't mean that we should simply castigate others, bully with words, purposely offend. Where are our restraints? Or because we have freedom does everything become allowable?

So what if we scar people. So what if we toss out slurs, post pictures, make videos-- damn the results.That seems to be the attitude of some people.

What's wrong with restraint? We've seen teenage suicides because people were bullied on the Internet.

What's wrong with taking responsibility for actions. Maybe we need to teach cause and effect.

That doesn't excuse the people who react by becoming violent.They too need to learn restraint, to recognize that the voice of a few individuals does not represent a people, a country.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reading Reviews

Who wrote them?
What's the bias? Everyone resonates to one thing or another.

The audience?

When Romney dissed 47% of our population--his figure--his patrician roots sprouted up for all to see. But his audience--who paid $50,000 a plate at a plush fundraiser--also belonged to a rather elite 1%.

Romney's review of our populace was forged in a totally different setting. He didn't want for anything. No need for food stamps.

When I started out teaching I worked in a low income area and if the school didn't have an established breakfast program most of our students would be hungry until lunch time. How often did Romney worry about hunger pains, or where to live, or a job? And did he ever worry about what happens when a job is gone and weeks become months and months become years?

Reviews. It's difficult to know an issue unless you've had some real life experience.Let's not speak of the 47% as if they were a shiftless crowd. That 47% is made up of individuals. And each individual has a particular story--a unique story.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Getting to the End

My team is limping to the end—desperately trying to stay out of last place and act the role of spoiler.

Let's cheer for all the teams on the bottom rung because they need our voices more than those teams riding high on the top.

Imagine each spring starting out with hopes and dreams and then spending months watching the slide.

So here's to every team from Tee Ball to the majors that languishes in the cellar.

Thanks for all the games, the innings, the popcorn, the hopes. Thanks for the vicarious enjoyment.

Now act as spoilers. You're still relevant.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Love of Committees

It's a genetic thing. It's built right into your DNA. Some people love meetings while others deplore meetings. I belong to the second group. Even when the ubiquitous cookies, coffee and doughnut filled table appears my instinct is to eat and run.

A friend of mine ran for and served on the school committee for six years.

She loves meetings—the give and take and the inevitable pitfalls. Bravo to all those souls who serve on committees. I always expect that they started in grade school and just continue on and on...

One shot meetings are palatable, but the ones that meet over long periods of time remind me of horses turned into camels.That's not my line. A friend who shared my feelings told me of a meeting that managed to do just that. A simple issue became complex when it was parsed and new task forces created to look at the parsed issues.

Of course what would we do without our meetings and task forces and agendas?

Just have horses.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fanaticism as Fulcrum

Fanaticism obliterates the feelings of humanity.
—Edward Gibbon

                      It’s thundering outside
and they ignite lightning
                           They wait and watch 
                                           and smell the acrid smoke

The sky is on fire
                              Words dissemble 

                                        Mumbles mask letters

Bricks crumble into mud and shale, 
                           sand and water

              and tumble backwards into the Upper Tigris

                           They toss glowing rags
                        soaked in 

              spreading rabble rousing embers

A scorching heat
          Molten lava streams across the earth 

          The Great Wall of China 
     spews out stones and bricks 

                        What's left?       
A metaphor.

Friday, September 14, 2012

What's Real?

Occasionally I cry when reading a book. I'm not sure that a digital version would produce tears. Simply holding a book, something organic, tethers me to the real world.

About ten pages before the final line in The Elegance of the Hedgehog my eyes began to water. And by the time I reached the final page I could feel a tear.

Now that's really writing when the reality of the story envelopes the reader.

The gossamer thread between fiction and the world is bridged.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Suppose We All Could Live at Peace

I don't understand fanaticism. I find it frightening wherever and whenever it appears. 

And it seems as if we're caught in the midst of a rising tide of out of control fanatics.

Sometimes they are a mob, sometimes a single person.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


By the end of yesterday I accepted my inability to corral an insect for a photo shoot. After all, I mused, not everyone spots a crawling creature. Usually I dislike insects, especially those that invade my indoor space.

Before breakfast, before I was totally awake,  I went outside and walked around-- scanning the ground for any movement.  Perhaps a worm would do. Is this the time for caterpillars ? Nothing. I did spot several new mushrooms. 

Just as I got out of the shower my partner walked into the bathroom holding a tied Baggie.

" I found an insect." Now that's love when you know what pleases your beloved.

My bug jar, a converted Mason jar, held the " bug" until I set up my tripod, took out two macro lenses, placed a white board on the deck railing. This time the insect didn't have wings and couldn't fly away.

After unscrewing the lid of the jar I tipped the bug out onto the white board. At first stunned with freedom he stood stock still. I knew that I didn't have too much time to dither about before he, too, left me. I had set a high shutter speed and focused in on the bug. 

This time I avoided his eyes and manually focused. He kept moving his front legs-- nervously. I expect, given his size of half an  inch when all stretched out, I'd  experience some anxiety with a huge 100 mm lens inches away from my head.

One chance. No time to set a self timer. Now or never.

The shutter clicked down and he walked out of my view, crossed the white board onto the railing and picked up speed.

Only when I downloaded the photo did I notice his eye.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


The assignment in my macro class-- photograph an insect. ...Preferably alive, but dead is fine. I'm not suggesting you hurt an insect.

Actually large animals aren't out of the question; however, taking a macro of a large animal means honing in on an eye,nose, toenail. We have two roaming neighborhood cats, but I expect that neither one stays still long enough to wait for me to manually focus my lens.

I started with the basement thinking that a spider might be knitting away in a corner-- bare corners.

From there I headed to the loft knowing that occasionally a wasp falls in and lands on the rug. Why they die on the rug isn't known. Maybe the exertion of squeezing through a tiny slit takes its toll.

No wasp, but a large moth hanging on the wall. I ran downstairs to get a plastic cup. The moth unaware of my thoughts remained on the wall--probably planning his day. It only took a few seconds to place the cup over the moth, slide a paper beneath the cup, turn it over and head downstairs.

My tripod and camera all set for the photo shoot--

I set the plastic cup down and watched the moth fly about. It moved close to the side of the see through cup and stared out, -legs splayed out and wings barely spread.I looked through my camera's viewfinder. My macro lens enlarged the moth's head and we stared at each other.

A face off.

One photo.

He fell to the ground and I took the cup away. Perhaps he needed more air or he figured that playing posse would work. It only took a few seconds before he madly fluttered his wings and set off.

Tomorrow I'll look for a slow moving worm.

Monday, September 10, 2012

What Doesn't Get Done

My need to be ironed pile reaches the ceiling.
My stack of papers on my desk extends beyond my outstretched fingers.

Tomorrow I'll attend to everything...after I finish...

—enjoying this space between summer and autumn.

—after I delight in each day that's above average for sun and warmth

—after I read through the four books in my book bag

—after I take walks while the leaves are still hanging on their branches

—after I reconcile to the change of seasons.

Sunday, September 09, 2012


I relish spotting an unusual mushroom, taking a photograph, attempting to identify the type, giving it a name, printing the photos, and delighting in the eccentric capture.

This is a photo of a commonplace mushroom bought at a local farmer's market--no pedigree and never found in a mushroom guidebook.

Despite the lack of study by mycologists and calling it a "commercial" fungi, despite being classified as ordinary it presents itself as intricate and elegant.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

A Closer Look

Get close to something—close enough so that what you're looking at loses its shape. It morphs into a different configuration. It stands alone and complete in that new posture with a set of different features.

The flower was beautiful. These petals maintain their own sense of being complete. I stare at the lines, the way they intersect, their flow. I look at the folds.

When looking intimately at something I slow down and see anew.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Politics as Usual

Why do some people demonize our political figures?  Isn't it enough to simply disagree with someone's opinions  without wrapping them in innuendos and barely concealed slanderous comments ?

Is it easier to blame an elected official  for all the ills confronting our society then to look at the bigger picture?

How much money is spent on ads that purport to uncover the dreadful past of a candidate? A few lies, nothing really slanderous--the building blocks of defamation.

Other people begin to believe the words. Then the loose words  move on to the next  candidate. 

Thursday, September 06, 2012


When I spotted this rope draped over rocks I wondered about its history. It's  in medias res. Beginnings?

Everything resides both in the present and the past. Someone once used the rope . Where? How?

I walk around my house as if I had purchased a ticket to a house tour. Every thing I pass contains history. 

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

A Story

Trolling around looking for something to eat.


Satiated and resting.

(double click the photos for an up front and center view of the Cormorant)

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

On the Side of a Truck

Before it began raining, before it felt like riding in Noah's Ark, we passed a large truck. I didn't catch the name of the company, but I couldn't help reading the words on the truck. Across the back was an Ichthys— in fact there were three, two small and one quite large.

Beneath the symbol the following words were printed— Proverbs 3:5. I'd like to say that I immediately recalled the verse, but I looked it up when I arrived home.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding King James

On the driver's side of the truck —NEED DIRECTION

Travel these roads and read all of our wants, beliefs, needs, dislikes, likes on our vehicles.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Concentric Circles

Nothing happens in a vacuum. A single breath, a blade of grass bowing to the wind, words said, a look, words not said, all are ripples. And a ripple moves until it either bumps against something and changes direction or picks up additional momentum or peters out.

There's a lot to learn by staring at the ocean's ripples as she moves around rocks and jetties and finds a new direction.

I am mesmerized by the movement, the rhythm, and the persistence.

Words, like ripples, continue to reverberate unless someone changes their response. Words uttered decades ago still carry the weight of a misspoken phrase.

Sometimes words like ripples pick up seaweed and kelp. Cleansing is tedious .

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Am I Now Secure?

Update. After several emails to Apple Support, after trying to follow their directions and finding that I couldn't save my changes I sought help via Goggle. 

Help, I wrote, has anyone tried to change their security questions only to be unable to save the information?

It seems that a number of people suffered the same fate. Finally I found someone who offered a suggestion. Their list of steps-- half the eight steps the Apple Support Team proposed. 

It worked. I downloaded Peterson's Bird book and before long I listened to a raucous Red Billed Woodpecker. 

But Where Are the Books?

 Several years ago I purchased a photo taken in Corea,  Maine. Greg, the photographer, and his wife had displayed his photos at a small craft fair.

The following year we met again at the same fair. While I didn't purchase another photo we spoke about books, Maine, and writing. 

Today we went to an opening at a rather high end gallery and there were six of Greg's photos displayed--beautiful black and white photos of Maine. He was one of a dozen artists.

After speaking to Greg and his wife about the book she's writing, learning  Polish, and the fine work on display we went downstairs for several more chips and left.

Now the gallery is situated overlooking the water--a stunning setting, but I miss what occupied that space before closing shop. A bookstore. 

Many a rainy Maine day was spent trolling the shelves and eating the store cookies.  Every time an independent bookstore closes it's a loss. And all the high end galleries can't replace a bookstore even when the work displayed is exceptional.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

The Color of the Ocean

Scientists will tell you that the sun, the clouds, microscopic animals, dissolved minerals, the depth of the water all effect the color of the water. 

Of course when you fill a bucket with ocean water it appears colorless, but it actually has a light blue tinge .

At the end of the day I spent some time staring at the ocean. I watched rippled water repeating the same movements over and over. I caught the sun jumping on the water's surface, jabbing it with sharp lights.

The repetitions mesmerized me and the colors enveloped me with their cool sensuousness, their insistence in being up front, and their royal bearing.

Tomorrow I'll  visit the ocean and marvel at the garments she wears for the occasion