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Although I have just celebrated my 7th blogging anniverary, last year I posted very little. As I explained in my last post on this blog, I have been concentrating on photography as my main mode of expression. That being said, one takeaway I have from last year is that there is more than one way to make a difference. Some people do it through charity work, some through political activism, some through the arts, and some through their chosen profession.

one way signs

Which way?

The year 2016 was a tumultuous year, full of terrorist acts, celebrity deaths, and an ugly election that exposed a gaping rift in our human community. After the sudden death of an old friend in March, I went through a questioning of my future and life purpose. Because of him, I decided to pursue a certification as a teacher. I studied for, and passed, the basic test all teachers in Massachuesetts must master: the Communication and Literacy Skills Test. I began to study for the more difficult English exam, because it has been 25 years since I received my MA in English Literature. As the year went on and life interfered, I worked overtime at my present job and continued to pursue my passion for photography; I began to question whether I had the stamina for such a big undertaking at my age, and I recognized that I cannot fill the hole that he left in the world. I have my own unique purpose for being here and what I bring to the world is not the same as anyone else. This is the source of all our grief: the people we lose cannot be replaced, not even by someone expressing themselves in the same form. David Bowie was not Prince and Prince was not Merle Haggard…everyone speaks their truth in a different voice.

And so, in 2017, I will not compare myself to others. I will leave competitveness, guilt, and jealousy behind and try to be the best I can be at expressing my truth in my own way. Does that mean I will blog more? I would like to say yes, because I still feel writing is important to me, but I have discovered it is my protective armor, my way of coping with darker feelings; it helps me to understand them and relieve the tension they create. But I want to bring brightness to the world, help others cope with a year like 2016. To do that I must put my best self out there, and I feel I can do that with my pictures.

So Happy Anniversary to me, WordPress, I’ll write when I can bring something positive to my readers. In the meantime, check out my other blog where I will try to be better about sharing my pictures. Happy New Year everyone!

 

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{January 2, 2016}   My First Day Hike

First Day Hike

The way was clearly marked from the parking lot.

Twenty-five years ago, we were told, the original “First Day Hike” was held at Blue Hills Reservation in Massachusetts with approximately 325 hikers turning out, and as of January 1, 2016, these hikes have been held in all 50 states. The DCR workers were proud to have originated this healthy way to start the new year, and by the end of the day, I felt the same. What a great time it was.

I got there just before noon, and incorrectly assuming there would be no spaces at the main parking lot, I went directly to the “additional” parking. I was glad I did because as I walked to the main buildings I caught these young men doing their version of the “L-Street Brownies” with New Years’ dip in Houghton Pond. Those of us watching in our bundled up clothes laughed, smiled and shook our heads; it was 40 degrees.

first day swim

A chilly dip in Houghton’s Pond.

When I got to the visitor’s center area, I saw people warming themselves by the bonfire and went in search of the “free soup” that was promised. They were still getting it ready, but I found my friend Jenna, who was volunteering for the day. She lent me $5.00 to buy one of the “First Day Hike” hats. I received a free poster for the event and a map. Hmm…I didn’t want to carry them on the hike, so I went back to my car; I had time because the actual hikes did not start until 1:00 pm.

First Day Hike hat

Fire Day Hike souvenirs

Walking back to my car, I saw this lovely lady dressed for the occasion. She happily provided me with a photo.

Holiday Hiking Outfit

Dressed for a holiday hike?

Back at the visitor’s center, I got in line for my soup, and snapped this photo of Jenna handing some out.

Free Soup for hikers.

Jenna handing out free soup.

After eating that I wandered around looking at the sights and snapping photos.

Rangers on horses

Rangers on Horses.

 

A representative from the Trailside museum was there giving a talk about this beautiful owl!

Trailside museum speaker with owl

A representative of the Trailside Museum introduces people to a beautiful owl.

 

People were at the bonfire getting their pictures taken…I asked someone to take mine. 🙂

First Day Hike picture

A souvenir picture

Bonfire

Warming up at the bonfire

Just before hike time, there was a brief program with a brief history of the event and an awards presentation to the man who came up with the original idea. There were certainly more than 325 people there today!

Presentation

Presentation

Crowd

Crowd gathered for the presentation

After the presentation, we broke off to do our chosen hikes. There were four hikes set up of different levels and distances, each led by a ranger. I chose the longest and most difficult, the Buck Hill hike. There were over 100 hikers that made the same choice!

Hiking up Buck Hill

Our group on the trail.

It was a bit slow because there were so many people, but we all found our pace and strung out along the trail. And this was the wonderful view at the top!

Buck's Hill View

View from the top of Buck’s Hill

When we returned from our hike, there were very few people; most had come back from their hikes long ago and gone home. But I did see a few girls toasting marshmallows on what was left of the bonfire.

It was a great time. I can’t wait to do it again next year.

Toasting marshmallows

Toasting marshmallows on what was left of the bonfire.

 



{July 9, 2015}   A Mystery Solved…

Where have I been? That will remain a mystery for a bit longer. 🙂 Right now, I just want to share a story.

I passed the little blue cape on the edge of the pond every day on my way to work. I had seen people clearing the yard, building steps and doing other fix-up tasks and registered it in a very distracted way. People working on their homes and in the yard is a pretty normal occurence.

Then one day I noticed that a wooden “screen” was being set up between that house and its neighbor. Hmm…wonder what that’s about? They don’t want to look at each other?

Then a “stage” was being built. Hmm…maybe they are going to have a party. Oooh…I don’t think the neighbors will like that!

Flowers appeared on the stage, and a lot of white chairs were set up. It was starting to look rather pretty…I’ve got it! They must be having a wedding there. Must be this weekend.

But the weekend came and went and everything was still set up. They haven’t had that wedding yet? Then came the containers…and a clue.

Buddha Peace Project

Poster on Container

When I started seeing the cars pulled over and people taking pictures, my curiosity became overwhelming. I mentioned it to someone at work and she sent me this link to a story in the local paper.

Well…I knew I had to stop…and that this would be my first blog after my “disappearance.” (I had started another one…but it was a little dark…not the best one to post after being lights out for a while.)

So I stopped on the way to work, took photos…and contemplated. With everything that is happening in the U.S. and the world…a moment contemplating peace with a beautiful jade buddha feels like a moment well-spent. You can read about the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace here.

And to think it was visiting my little town, in the yard of a little blue cape…you just never know.

Jade Buddha for Universal Peace

Jade Buddha

 

 




Outmyfrontdoor230This is the worst winter I can remember in New England. Not that I have TOO many years to compare, but certainly enough. I heard an interview with a 91-year-old woman on the radio…she has a lot more years to compare and even she said it was the worst one she has seen.

On Facebook we all share our “snow” pictures. But the pictures just can’t convey to people who aren’t here what it is truly like. It looks and feels like we are living at the beginning of one of those science fiction movies of the end of the world…Remember “Day After Tomorrow”?

All the services we take for granted: train service, trash service, mail delivery, interrupted or practically non-existent; people taking hours and hours to get to work and get home from work. Every task is harder and takes longer; sore backs and muscles from the endless shoveling…people dying of heart attacks. Everyone is completely on edge: mini-meltdowns are everywhere. Here’s a few vignettes…not horror stories, just stories of everyday life during SNOWMAGEDDON:

My experience — trying to take a left out of my driveway through a “hole” in stopped traffic (because you have to TRY to get to work sometimes…employers don’t expect you to stay inside until spring), completely blinded by snow piles and stopped vehicles I pulled out, only to get rear-ended. The woman and her passenger jumped out of their car screaming and swearing at me. Two kind men from one of the trucks that was stopped in traffic told them to stop yelling and back off. I was forced to retreat to my vehicle, shaking like a leaf. She completely frightened me.

My brother ‘s experience – he was in line at the grocery store before a storm…one of those places where there is one big line and someone directs you which register to go to. Suddenly the woman in front of him started attacking him and swearing about her “personal space.” When she got out of line, the lady in front of her turned to my brother and said, “Don’t take it personally…if that is the worst of her problems she’s got a lot more to deal with!”

I went to the Post Office to pick up my mail because it is not being delivered, despite the fact that the mailbox at my apartment complex has been shoveled out. (at least we have one…most people have resorted to cardboard boxes labeled with a Sharpie). There were others doing the same thing, not too bad a line though. The mail lady (who I have dealt with before and she was perfectly pleasant) would not listen to me…”Is it shoveled out so the mail carrier doesn’t have to get out of his truck?” she demanded. (Mind you, he has never been able to deliver it without getting out of his truck…even in the summer…not where it is situated…but never a problem before.) I told her I was just a renter…she said, “Tell your landlord they have to clean it out or we won’t deliver…and if you don’t fill out a yellow form to hold the mail, we’re going to start sending it back!” She went into the back to look for the mail for a customer ahead of me. He looked at me and sighed. “We have to help each other if we are going to get through this,” he said, and I nodded in understanding. But I filled out the yellow form…no arguing with her. I’ll go in there every day if I have to.

At my yoga class yesterday two ladies were talking about trash. “We don’t know when they are going to pick up the trash, and where do we put it? The days are all mixed up and no one tells us anything. My mother has been living with us and she has a cat. We keep bringing the bags of dirty cat litter down into the cellar…we don’t know what to do with them!” I smile to myself; I live in an apartment…I’m stuck with those bags. My complex has a dumpster, but I have to walk across an ice field to get there. When there is a lull between storms, I have to load up my car with bags of trash and drive them over there. But then…the “yoga” ladies were also laughing about the prospect of Valentine’s Day spent with her mother because the couple couldn’t go out to be alone…so amongst the complaints, there were jokes. Jokes about the weather people’s glee as they go on and on about the snow. “Better than hearing about ISIS,” I said.

Thank goodness there are some people able to grin and bear it, shared moments with kind strangers, like the men who checked on me after the accident, the old lady who told my brother not to take it personally, and the man in the PO. And there’s the wonderful jokes being posted on Facebook: snowmen being threatened with “harm”, signs that say “Massachusetts is closed!”

Finally, I want to share what one of my friends on Facebook said so perfectly. She thanked everyone for posting their snow pictures, stories and jokes because it made her feel like we were all in it together; no one was alone. We were fighting back against one of the worst effects of all…the isolation, especially for older people. I was secretly happy that the “yoga” lady had her mother at her house, secretly happy that woman wasn’t alone.

This isn’t a science fiction movie, it is real life and it WILL pass. Spring is only about a month away…hard to imagine, but that, along with the fact that I still have electric power and heat while I write this, is something to be grateful for.




New Moon Storm

It was a dark and wet ride home last night, a new moon Nor’easter,

But I was tired enough to sleep through the night without hearing it.

This morning the cat was hidden somewhere she thinks is safe;

I’d like to hide myself there too, I think.

But this morning my prayer group email is entitled “Clarity,”

and it seems true.

The Universe seems to be aligned,

I think there is also an eclipse.

Fitting that the trees have been cleared of leaves,

Their structure revealed, a kind of clarity,

My life changes revealed, I feel a surge of creativity.

After months of distractions and busy-ness,

I know what I want to say and I want to blab it!

But I have to work.

Ironically these are the days when it is hardest to work –

High energy days when it is almost impossible to stay where I am,

To sit and stay focused.

I’m like a horse pawing the ground,

Resenting the bridle and the rider, work and responsibility,

Let me go, says the voice inside,

Let me go with the wind and the leaves…

 

P.S. This was written totally off the cuff as a stream of consciousness in response to the Daily Post Prompt: Ready, Set, Done, so excuse grammatical and punctation problems…take it for what it is. It is written like a poem because it seemed liked random thoughts to me as a they came…more like a poem than prose. Hope you enjoy it!



{September 30, 2014}   A Walk in the Country

Wompatuck State Park

Wompatuck picnic table

Every Sunday I try to head out for a picture-taking excursion and nature walk. Sometimes I encounter lovely little surprises I don’t expect — animals or interesting plants — that I document on my other blog. Often I have what I call “adventures”  — a right place/right time moment — meet some people and chat briefly. But mostly I soak up the peace and relaxation I need to get myself through my busy week. This Sunday I didn’t have a lot of time so I decided to go to a local park called Wompatuck.

I pulled into the entrance and…stopped. In front of me there was a line of cars…hmmm. I hadn’t been there in years, but I didn’t remember there being a fee to get in. I could see someone stopping cars at the entrance, but I didn’t see any money being exchanged. The line was moving…my turn…”Are you here for the event?” I was asked. I replied, “No,” and was told to “drive on through.”  Oh-oh, this might not be the peaceful walk I had envisioned…but there’s over 3000 acres here, I should be alright.

I squeezed through an area of cars parked on both sides of the road: state policemen with vests and park rangers. Then I drove by a field with a stage set-up, a bouncy house, and various other tents. No time to stare — I had to pay attention to my driving as there were many people milling about and I didn’t want to hit anyone. I was beginning to regret my decision to come there, but I didn’t have time to turn around and figure out somewhere else to go. I told myself to make the best of it and drove on. Anxious to get away for my quiet walk, I drove about 3/4 mile down the road and found a place to pull over and park my car. I figured I would walk for 1/2 hour and then turn around and walk back.

It was a warm and sunny fall day and many bicyclists passed me as I snapped pictures of the woodsy setting and the first bit of color of the season. I began to relax and enjoy myself. Thinking about future excursions, I picked up a map at the camp ground office located there then turned around to walk back to my car.

fall road

Early fall

Just over halfway back  I heard a woman singing. Her beautiful voice urged me on and I walked a little faster toward it. There was a picnic table in a clearing so I thought I would sit down and listen for a bit. As I approached the table I could see the woman standing with a man seated on a stool playing a guitar by a trail. There were people running by. Ahh…I thought, it’s a road race. [turns out it was an event sponsored by a local country radio station to benefit a local hospital…click here if you want to find out more]

picnic table

Peaceful Picnic Table

As I walked over to get a closer look, I saw another photographer taking pictures of the runners. We passed each other and she smiled and said “hello.” I recognized it was going to be one of my “adventure” days and decided to embrace whatever was going on. Today was not the day for just a quiet walk; it was a time to be sociable. I decided to walk over to take some shots and told the woman I thought she had a wonderful voice. She thanked me and gave me her card; her name was Erin Ollis. Check out some of her songs on her web site!

Erin Ollis

Erin Ollis on the Trail

 

 

When I got back to my car I decided to drive down the road a bit to see what I would see. The map I had picked up showed a boat ramp on a pond. I thought I could drive there to take some pictures, but it turned out I couldn’t, however… there was another singer! My adventure was continuing…so out of the car I went to check him out.

 

 

Alec MacGillivray

Alec MacGillivray

 

I didn’t talk to him, but I took his picture and listened a bit. He was at the top of a long gradual hill, and as I watched the runners and walkers struggling toward me I decided to do my part to cheer them on. I began to walk in the opposite direction (downhill) and offer encouragment. Once I started walking, I just kept going. Someone said, “You’re going the wrong way!”

runners

Runners Struggling up the Long Hill

As I went farther along I saw some volunteers handing out water to the participants. They were happy to pose for a picture for me!

Volunteers

Volunteers

I looked at my watch and saw it was time to head back to my car; I had someplace to go. I smiled the whole way back though. I had gone out for a quiet walk in the country. I got some country alright! In a very small way I shared in the goodwill and caring of a lot of people on a gorgeous fall day; I felt part of humanity instead of running away from it, and it helped me forget some of the negative stories in the news lately.

 Country Heals. In more ways than one.

Country Heals

Country Heals

 

NOTE: IF YOUR PICTURE APPEARS HERE AND YOU WANT ME TO TAKE IT DOWN, LET ME KNOW.



{June 18, 2014}   Celebrity Sightings

Lately they have been happening all AROUND me but not TO me…other people telling me about their celebrity sightings. Last week John Wayne’s son came in to the liquor distributor I work for to promote his bourbon, “The Duke.” Meanwhile I was in holed up in a co-worker’s office getting some training. I had no idea he was there until after the fact.

I also just found out a TV actress came in to the restaurant where I hostess every other Saturday. It just so happens her father lives in the small town where it is located and likes the place, so they came in for a Father’s Day meal. Hmmm…it was my weekend off…missed that too.

A Facebook friend has a friend who just saw Viggo Mortensen at a store in Idaho…Aragon in Idaho, go figure…must have been filming somewhere around there. (I admit that story fluttered my heart for just a moment…though it was the farthest removed from me. I am a big admirer of him as a modern-day renaissance man.)

I was working on this post yesterday and didn’t finish it, and then — Voila! — The Daily Post topic today is “Instant Celebrity.”  Am I on track with The Universe on this?

The question The Daily Post asked is this: if you could be a celebrity, who would you be? Hmmm…That’s a tough question for me. I think it is easier to say who I WOULDN’T want to be…Alec Baldwin? Miley Cyrus? Kim Kardashian? I wouldn’t want to be anyone who is known for outlandish behavior. To me, they have no ethics, no personal integrity. But I don’t want to go off on a rant about people doing ANYTHING for attention or money; I’ll save that for another post. 🙂

To seriously try to answer the question — I would want to be a brilliant but reclusive writer (maybe Margaret Atwood or Joan Didion) or a well-off philanthropist (Melinda Gates or Oprah). But perhaps the reason The Universe has not provided me with that gift is that I wouldn’t handle it well. Maybe being famous would turn me into Alec Baldwin (EEK!) because I don’t like being the center of attention.

Going back to the actress in the restaurant…my friend told me people were approaching her and asking to have their pictures taken with her. Bless her, she obliged, but I think it would get pretty annoying trying to have a nice quiet Father’s Day dinner with a loved one who you probably don’t have much time to see, and being interrupted by fans.

Naw…I don’t think I would want to be a celebrity.

 




Sgt. Dan Vasselian just lost his life in Afghanistan; he is returning to his hometown today. Having just moved to the small town of Abington a few months ago, I do not know this young man, but I am extremely impressed and moved by the show of love, respect and support I am seeing here.

I went for a very cold walk this morning. The funeral home is just down the street from me, and some roads are closed and will be closed off and on for the next few days as the wake and funeral take place. I had noticed the flags and yellow ribbons interspersed with Christmas decorations in the neighborhood the last couple of days and I wanted to take some pictures. Usually flags are displayed in the summertime so this struck me as an interesting photo opportunity. So I brought my camera this morning with the intention of taking pictures of the decorations, but I saw so much more. I’m sure there will many (better) photos of this event; I saw others with cameras on my walk, including news reporters, but I really wanted to share these (virtually unedited) photos.

I have to go to work shortly so I don’t have time for a long post, but I thought the photos would speak for themselves. Bless you Sargeant Vasselian.



{November 18, 2013}   Cursive Death

cursive writing

Childhood cursive

To keep cursive writing as part of elementary school’s curriculum or not: this story came on the radio in my car as I was driving the other day. My ears pricked up; I had actually had a draft post on this issue from July of last year that I never completed. I guess it is time.

This is one of the instances when I am proud to be from Massachusetts. Normally a liberal state, but at times…conservative. With the increasing use of computers and hand-held devices, the continued value of teaching cursive script in schools has been questioned in recent years, but the time has now come to make a decision as far as the law is concerned. Massachusetts is one of a few states that will continue to require cursive script to be taught in public school; 45 states are considering not requiring it.

The ramifications for future generations hit me personally, as I sat scribbling in my journal this morning in my own “hybrid” version of handwriting (random printed letters jumbled with cursive). It occurred to me that the generations ahead that I hope might be interested in my written ramblings, may not even be able to read what I have written.

Last year I sat at the desk of a coworker twenty years older than me. I looked at the notes she had written on stickies; some of them were difficult for me to read. Why? Because she wrote in TRUE cursive…I realized it had been so long since I  had seen capital letters written in cursive script that I had to work to process it. (Sometime in high school and college I found it faster when taking notes to use printed capitals and then switch to cursive as I write the words.) I began to experiment in my head, then on paper; I went through the alphabet mentally trying to write each capital letter in script. Guess what? There were a few I wasn’t sure I had totally right, and two I didn’t remember at all (Q and Z)! It horrified me!

I started thinking…Do they still make those preprinted, center-dotted-line pages we used to use in school to practice our cursive? I started thinking I wish I had one of my childhood school papers as a piece of artwork for the wall (I used to have beautiful writing)…I started thinking if future generations don’t learn to write it, they won’t be able to read it and won’t value it. I suppose someone will write a computer program where pages of cursive could be scanned in and translated, but…would anyone bother with the old letters and journals of a dead relative? I like reading my grandmother’s journals, but then I’m from the generation still nostalgic about antiques.

Readers, what do you think? Is learning cursive writing still important?




I’m open to any tools that will help my creativity. I have written before about “The Artist’s Way,” one of my favorites that I turn to over and over.

I usually read more than one book at a time: a creativity book, a fiction novel, and sometimes a non-fiction book. I switch back and forth at different times depending on the time of day and my moods, so it generally takes me a while to get through books. I am not a fast reader anyway…especially with novels; I tend to savor the words like food. Usually I read the creativity book first thing in the morning when I write in my journal. I am currently finishing up “Simple Abundance” by Sarah Ban Breathnach.

This week I started doing meditation with Deepak and Oprah. It’s free and it is about boosting your creativity and achieving your dreams. You can join here!

Today’s message: “I am a powerful creator!”



et cetera
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