Monday, February 28, 2011

Project 365 - The Family Bible

I do not come from a tremendously religious family.  In fact, religion pretty much left my routine some time during high school when my father had a rather nasty falling out with our minister over whether or not to build a new, bigger and better church.  My Dad lost.  He left the church and never looked back. The minister left too, but not before putting in motion his grand scheme.  The new church was built.  Turns out my Dad was right.  The church of my youth is now a senior center.

My mother kept on attending church after the fall, but primarily would only go to the very quiet and sparsely attended 8am service.  She was raised a Methodist.  Her denomination changed to Episcopalian when she married my father  in 1949.  She did her best to be Episcopalian, but, truth be told she never really was.  The better part of her remained with the church of her childhood.

My siblings and I have drifted from religion.  In and out, bouncing here and there.  But, as it stands now, only one of us has an official church of record.  None of us are Episcopalian.  I dance on the edges of Quakerism, but, unlike my son, have yet to commit.  He is a member.  I am best described as a sporadic attendee.

So, why is it that I have held onto this old and battered collection of bibles, prayer books and hymnals?  They stand in the corner of our living room.  At the ready.  I wonder if it isn't more about the connection to family and their connection to a higher power than my own.  A sense of history that grounds me.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Project 365 - Deep In The Woods

A walk in the woods often leads you to new and interesting places.  A waterfall just out of sight, foreshadowed by the joyful sound of water rushing toward bigger and better things.  A spring flower that has pushed it's way through the winter layers of leaf liter and snow to bathe in the warmth of the early spring sun.

You do not necessarily expect to stumble into a piece of forgotten family history.  But there it was, walled off and semi-cared for, the Russell family plot.

There are seven souls occupying this clearing in the woods.  The youngest is an unnamed infant in an unmarked grave.  The oldest is 50 year old John Russell.  They say that John is buried standing up.  Something about fox hunting and hearing the hounds as they beyed.

There is a bench on top of the hill where the Russell family rests.  I put my camera bag there as I changed lenses.  And when I had taken the images I came to get, after I gently closed the wooden gate and latched it tight into the notch carved into the encircling stone wall, I sat for just a moment in respectful silence for them all.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Project 365 - The Sycamore

There are some things that are at their best when you least expect it.  The Sycamore tree is a fine example of that.  All summer long these majestic beauties are covered in huge ratty looking leaves.  As the summer turns to fall, there are no brilliant, blazing colors encircling our stately friend's botanical brow.  Instead it is a headdress of brown and crumbling decay.

Now she stands exposed.  It is then that her true beauty is realized by all who take the time to see her.  Her multicolored bark arranged in random patterns taking on the textures of rough and smooth simultaneously.  Her long and twisted branches reaching far beyond her roots reach below.

The older the Sycamore gets the more pronounced her beauty, the more she stands apart from the average oak or maple. A testament to maturity and strength.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Project 365 - The Capo

My son, John, has no guile. He would make a lousy spy. He leaves a trace of himself wherever he goes.  It is quite unintentional, but there is a definite trail of breadcrumbs to follow when he is around.  Sometimes it is a stray sock stuffed down behind the sofa cushions, a tee shirt that has seen better days left on the stairs to the third floor, or a capo made out of some rubber bands and a blunt ended pencil attached to his sister's guitar.  You always know where he has been.

Mostly, though, you know that John is around by how you feel.  There is a mischievous air, a sly smile and an open heart ready for you to crawl right into. Last Christmas as I was flying around the house in panicked preparation mode anticipating the arrival of family for dinner, I happened upon a bit of John.  Tacked to just the right place was a sticky note.  The note simply said, "Remember to breathe."  That's John.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Project 365 - Yellow Ribbons

Tiny yellow ribbons bursting into
Winter's last glow
Fresh citrus fragrance
Lingers, daring spring
To show her face.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Project 365 - Leaving on Jet Plane

Yesterday, I put my 18 year old son on an airplane bound for Tel Aviv.  The trip is sponsored by his school and, as his senior project, is an important part of his requirements for graduation.  He has been looking forward to this trip for almost a year now.  He wants to experience first hand what it means to live in deep conflict steeped in ancient history and religion.  I admire him.  I would not have had the courage at his age to take advantage of this worldly opportunity.

I would like to tell you that  I watched him pack his luggage without worry.  I would like you to believe that as I smiled while he practiced his haggling skills with his Dad, a shadow did not darken my mood. That as I watched him help an elderly man retrieve his boarding pass from the ticketing kiosk at the airport, I did so without anxiety.  But, I didn't do any of that.  I admit to fearing for his safety as he lives with a family in the West Bank, as he walks the ancient, narrow streets of Jerusalem, as he tries to understand the separation wall, and as he swims in the Dead Sea.

I guess there is only one explanation for my behavior.  I am his Mom. And this growing up business is harder than it seems.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Project 365 - Bluebird

My mother gave me this little wooden bluebird.  He has followed me around the house.  Flitting from room to room, making himself visible in brilliant blue and red. There is something special about his simplicity, his primitive form that, I think, spoke to my Mom as she held him in her hands.  I like to think that I can still feel her hands around his tiny body.  That we hold this bit of blue together.  Our hands overlapping, gently enveloping each other with the promise of things to come.

Project 365 - Mr. Gray

Meet Mr. Gray.  Mr. Gray lives in Connecticut with my brother.  They are compatible. Bachelors.
He looks pretty docile, doesn't he?  You would never know that he has been caught removing cash in the middle of the night from my brother's wallet.  Or that he can hold a grudge against even the mildest of humans, chasing them back behind bedroom doors while releasing the scariest and most guttural of sounds. Yellow eyes blazing. He is formidable.  Unpredictable.  Mr. Gray is, after all, of the feline persuasion.

Project 365 - Dark and Light

There is a moment between dark and light when I believe our vision becomes clear.  When we look at what was plain and unremarkable a split second ago and see the beauty of change.  The whispy, dreamy movement of light sliding in and out of reflections, settling into the sweet, deep sleep that is night.

Project 365 - Vibrancy

I am lying on the floor.  My orange yoga mat padding my body.  Rubber to bamboo to muscle and bone.  My arms are at my sides.  My palms are up and open.  My legs relaxed.  My feet pointed out and down.  My eyes should be closed.  But, instead, my gaze is drawn to my left.  To the vibrancy of the window's blue.  To the cranes that flutter there and the prism's bent light and rainbow that dances on my brow.

Project 365 - A Spot of Color

I've been messing around with color a bit lately.  Putting it in places where it doesn't belong, making more of it than perhaps I should.  Red hearts, green apples nestled into backgrounds of sepia and white.

Perhaps it is the manipulation of reality or a flight of fancy that drives this new experimentation. I'm not sure.  But, it has given me a new song to sing, a new tool in my bag of tricks.  Keeping it interesting, fresh and new. A chance to color outside the lines.  Again.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Project 365 - Playing With My Heart

I have an affinity for stones. Often, when I travel I am on the lookout for bits of hardened earth.  A piece of place that I can pick up and put in my pocket.  I love the way it feels in my hand.  Cool or warm depending on whether it was found in sun or shade, dry or wet.  The birth of a place is held suspended in stone.

I am not limited to stones that I find.  Over the years, I have been given many.  My favorites are heartshaped. On days when I am feeling a bit blue, I search out a bit of stony heart.  I roll it around in my fingers, press it between my palms and absorb the simplicity of shape and substance. Love in it's most earthy form.

Project 365 - Fairy Tales

Fairy tales do come true,
It can happen to you,
If you're young at heart.

Or if you are curious enough to follow that little farm lane on a Sunday morning.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Project 365 - The Dancer Rests

Sometimes, a picture really is worth a thousand words.....

Project 365 - Meet Mr. Peepers

Today was not the best day I have ever had.  So, this morning when I went to spend time with my good friend, Barb, and I met Mr. Peepers for the first time, he kinda creeped me out.  He stared at me for a bit.  I stared back.  Finally, I couldn't take it and I turned him around.

Nothing really touched me this morning.  Especially not Mr. Peepers.  His gaze trickled in and set off a fountain of tears.  And when the fountain ran dry, the words flowed.

Barb brought me kleenex.  She listened.  She heard me.  Mr. Peepers looked the other way.  He was waiting his turn.

After hours of friendship and caring, I reached for Mr. Peepers.  He looked me in the eye and gave me his contagious, crooked little smile.

Thanks, Mr. Peepers.  I am ready for my next step.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Project 365 - The Calla Lilies Are in Bloom

There are just some flowers that demand attention.  Not by bright ornamental color or prolific bursts of blooms.  But rather for their simplicity.  A graceful swirl of white against the darkest of green foliage.  Like some southern belle unfurling her voluminous ball gown skirt as she glides across the dance floor.  And then the warmest yellow glow eminates from her heart.  A sly wink of color just to make sure you are paying attention.  But, in black and white sublime grace!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Project 365 - Day 39 Spring

I learned poetry early.  My dad had a knack.  So yesterday, when I needed a bit of spring to shoot, I thought of him. I found him in his favorite spring flowers.  And as I waited for the shadows to come out to play, I thought of his favorite spring poem.

Today, I share his flowers and his poem.

Spring has sprung
The grass has riz
I wonder where
The birdies is

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Project 365 - Me and My Shadow

I read a book a couple of years ago that talked about shadows.  It talked about how each of us is comprised of our lighter side and conversely our shadow.  Most of us spend a life time running from our shadow.  We bob and weave our way through life.
The irony is that our shadow can not be escaped and, in fact, the key to wholeness is to embrace it.

Often buried in shadows are amazing patterns.  Plays of light and dark.  Movement.  Rich texture is revealed in shadow.  Warm light and reflection.

All the best parts.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Project 365 - Katie

I have had dogs off and on for my whole life.  All of these furry friends have been wonderful.  All have been shared.  Mother and father, brothers and sister, husband and kids.  Each staked their claim in time and attention.  I was one of many.

Six years ago, I decided to look for my dog. At the time, we had a lovely family dog named Jack that the kids adored.  He was a collie mix breed that entertained us all with his herding of neighborhood squirrels and chipmunks, not to mention kids.  I thought I could slip my new dog in under the radar.

I decided  a small dog was what I wanted.  A breed that did not shed.  A smart dog.  And a female.  Not that I was being picky.

From there I did everything wrong. I went to a pet store.  And I took a kid or two.  We milled around.  Played with a few pups.  As I was rounding up the kids, I caught a glimpse of a tiny red ball of fuzz.  That was it.  I was a goner.

Katie is definitely my dog and I am her Mom.  She spends her day following me from room to room.  In the spring, she gardens with me, riding beside me on the little John Deere.  She keeps me company as I walk in the woods, blazing trails, exploring the creeks.  And when I return home after being out, she greets me as if it is the most exciting event ever.

At night, she curls herself up often in the crook of my knees.  If I wake during the night, I reach down and feel the warmth of the love between a dog and her girl.

Like I said, a goner.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Project 365 - Key West Cats and Chickens

They own the place. The cats and the chickens.  They really do own the place. They are not, for the most part seedy or worst for wear.  Not like some of the human types who have spent one too many nights at Sloppy Joe's or the Hogs Breath.

They belong to no one.  They belong to everyone. Cars stop in the street to let them pass.  No one takes offense as they wind their way in and around diners feet snatching bits of this and that before the 3 second rule takes hold.

A part of the fabric here in Key West.  A bit of off beat life that makes this place a place worth remembering with a smile.

..."But I got cat class and I got cat style..."  Brian Setzer

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Project 365 - Floating in Golden Light

My favorite light is the light right before the sun goes down.  It is a light of spun gold.  When that warm light takes center stage, everything just feels right. The work of the day is done.  Life slows down.

So, tonight, as the sun made it's firey exit off of Key West, as it caught the folds of a heavy, muslin beach hammock and transformed it into flowing silk, as it caught the calm surf just off the shoreline reef and dotted it's crystaline blue with gold and orange, I warmed my spirit as I will soon warm my hands by the fire.  The work of the day is done.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Project 365 - Star Light

Star Light
Star Bright
First Star I see tonight
I wish may
I wish I might
Have this wish
I wish tonight.....

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Project 365 - South Beach

Gritty, glitzy, baked in sun, bathed in colors like pink and blue, South Beach flaunts herself.  Brimming full with tourists, Spanish words land like snappy bits of music.  People dressed in white, gauzy apparitions melting into steamy sidewalks that dissolve to ocean's edge.

Visions of days gone by are evident in how she dresses, how she looks to those who come.  Shapes and signs begging for the future to slow down just long enough to gawk and smile before driving by, driving through to calmer cooler times and places.

Project 365 - Glass and Stars

This is not one of my better shots.  I admit this freely and without guilt.  My lens has the remnants of the last time I went out in the snow on it.  Dots of evaporated cold. There is also a bit of smootz floating around there at the top of the frame.  The resolution is a bit grainy and I was simply too tired to mess with the contrast or the vibrance or the saturation.

So, why, you may ask, have I selected this image?  The answer is simple.  It is not an image of snow. I shot this image in the lobby of our little hotel in Miami Beach. 

Last night we flew away from snow and ice and into Oz.  We walked the beach last night, thawing our frozen toes in the warm sand.  This morning as I write this, Maddie and Doug are happily splashing in the hotel pool.  It is freedom.

And here, in our snuggly piece of warmth, as we made our way back to our room after our giddy walk, I noticed this wall of glass.  Warm and colorful.  Full of shadow and highlight.  It is clear that someone had given this wall a great deal of thought.  The exact placement of the glass.  The colors standing in complimentary order.  The lighting set just right, setting off the swirls, transparency and opaque glow of each piece.  And as if that were not enough,  they set halogen spots above the whole wall.  The cherry on the sundae.  Starlight for those who take the time to really look.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Project 365 - Boots On The Ground

If I could go barefoot all year round, I would.  I realize that there are very good reasons that humans need to cover and protect their feet from the elements, but honestly, is there anything that feels as good and right as nothing between foot and ground?

All that being said, I admit to having more than my fair share of shoes and boots.  I line them up in closet and mud room like so many obedient little soldiers awaiting orders.  Some missions are easy and require little effort, some are downright trecherous like a good long hike into the woods and over the boulder field.  There are shoes in my closet that really were not meant to be worn.  They are works of art in shape and line.  But no self repsecting foot would be considered a true match for the tilt, rise and balance required to navigate an evening out in them.  Ankle busters, limo shoes.  If you have nick names for your shoes it is not a good thing.

Then there are the boots.  Fashion boots, waterproof boots, hiking boots, boots that can not get wet.  Anklets and knee highs. Square toes, pointy toes....

Come spring I will put them all away and happily forget that I have them. I will kick off my shoes and let my feet out to play. And we will be who we really feet and me.