“To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.”
~Henri Cartier-Bresson

Sunday, September 7, 2014


I brought the last Gladiolus blooms into the house a few days ago, The bugs were starting to dine on the buds

 I wanted this beautiful flower to last as long as possible...
So I put it in a small pitcher, slicing the stem diagonally to absorb more water. Then I placed the flower on the sink, near the window...  It has been so lovely to have this flower greet me these last few mornings.

Such simple beauty and yet so complicated. If this flower could talk, I'm sure it would have all kinds of wonderful things to say.
The leaves sparkle their "Good morning" to me as I prepare my drink at the counter. The Prospector, usually outside, comes in and says "Good morning" too. The aroma of the coffee, the foamy milk, the coolness of the morning and the little dog waiting, at my feet... It is, I realize, one of the rituals of my life.
 I carry a whole graham cracker and half of a banana, on a napkin, with the mug of coffee, watching that I don't trip on anything. I'm not really awake until I finish my first cup of coffee. This is a risky walk from the kitchen to the living room without caffeine... It's done with care.
 I sit down on the couch and the Corgi boys take their places on each side of me. They get one scoop of foam from my cup. A different finger for each dip. Then they wait for a piece of graham cracker at the end.
This is how the ritual goes.
I slowly wake up.
I think about what we need to do today... where I need to start.
The dogs leave... hearing some invisible noise.
I return to the kitchen and pour another cup of coffee.
As I stand at the kitchen sink, I think about the blessings in my life.
They are many. I say a quiet thank you.

And the gladiolus sits in its little white pitcher.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sister time...Sharing my world with my closest ally

Sis was here a week ago for a long weekend. Her world and her loves are time consuming and sometimes demanding of her lovingkindness and big heart. So she calls me up, saying ... "Can I come up for a few days. I need a respite." She is always welcome. The only person that never needs an invitation or reason... well there are a few other people I feel this way about, but none that I say "Yes." to without question.
So she came, with her tired body and the anticipation of sleeping in, taking naps and wandering with her older sister.
We, of course, came to the river. We always have to stand on a rock and contemplate the river's beauty.
A cadence of movement and harmony, of fluid peacefulness.

The place that lets you feel its presence.

That asks you to step onto its ancient bedrock and smooth stones...

To walk across its bridges...

To understand where it comes from...

And where it's going.
To find yourself looking at something bigger and older than man's history of it and finding reassurance in that thought.

I watch my sister relax. I see her smile, talking politics with the Prospector... having patience and understanding with a different point of view. I see the little girl who still loves the man I married so long ago.

We also do the things that we always do... going to see Sandy at Country Living in Amador City and having lunch at Andres. We buy one small ceramic piece of art at a gallery in Sutter Creek, by a favorite artist, and we stopped at Wal Mart, on the way home, for some essentials. There are no Trader Joe's or Whole Foods here. We have a good time, laughing at the long lines and watching the interesting people. We are part of the potpourri.

But, always...  there are the long talks. The discussions about life. And...there are the quiet, peaceful naps, in the afternoon, with Carl, who allows Sis to cuddle up with him on the sofa bed and sleep. He thinks that this is his bed and that she is there because of his permissions. He is guarding her. What a dog! I think that this is a mutual admiration and agreement for both of them. I think they have discussed this without me.
She reads a book for hours each day, from beginning to end... a luxury of monumental proportions.
Carl, and sometimes Cutter, are always at her side.

The time goes by too quickly.
She is saying goodbye and " I love you. See you next month. I will call you about the workshop."
The visit is done. The car drives away, down the dirt road.
I wave and return to the house.

I have a sister. 
Life is good.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Deep thoughts...

In the spring I found this beautiful flower on the side of our country road.

This lovely, blue flower was a charming hello on my spring walk.

Tonight I saw it again and its end of the summer appearance is much different than before. 

The seeds are still inside waiting for the winds of Autumn to blow them back into the ground so they can reappear in the Spring of the following year.

This is why I think the concept of reincarnation has some merit.
There would be a seed inside of me that would wait...
In a place that no one can find... for its own safety.
When I die, whether I'm cremated or just put back into the ground, that seed will lay in wait, until the right forces are in play and then...
I will bloom again.
Only in a different way and I'm sure it's more complicated than this.
But, who knows...
Maybe it isn't. Maybe it's just that simple.
Maybe that seed is this flower's heaven...
And its hope.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Finding the heart of our unending Summer...

...One impulse from a vernal wood 
May teach you more of man, 
 Of moral evil and of good, 
Than all the sages can.
 Sweet is the lore which Nature brings; 
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things: 
We murder to dissect. 
Enough of science and of art; 
Close up those barren leaves;
 Come forth and bring with you a heart 
That watches and receives.

( William Wordsworth   'TheTablesTurned', stanzas 6^8.)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Walkin' the dog... down and back... kind of like a yoyo trick.

When we say, "Do the dogs want to go for a walk with us?", we better we darn sure that we are ready to go, because they know what this means.
We harness and leash them. Then off we go.
 They're are so conditioned. First they stick together, looking up the hill and watching for the deer... a little trepidation about the huge outdoors beyond the garden gate.
They start to pick up smells... deer poop, bird feathers, coyote scat, fox fur, turkey, rodents underground, snakes and so many other critters that only they can picked up with their amazing olfactory senses.
And then, they both have to leave their own mark... and so on we continued, down the road.

 This a ritual that they love. I haven't been taking them with me because they pull hard at the beginning of the downhill walk. Since the foot operation, I haven't been able to move at their speed. So, when the Prospector said... you know... those words that the Corgi boys understand... we all went together and the dogs thought they were in DOG HEAVEN. They consider this a great adventure.

The Poison Oak is in its end of the summer doldrums like everything else around here. But, it's pretty when it changes color and the leaves start to fall.
I'm fascinated by this hardy, invasive plant that looms everywhere around here, climbing into the oak trees and spreading into every nook and cranny that it finds. It is a force to be reckoned with. It's just like the rattlesnakes and insects that have a built in survival instinct. It's beautiful but powerful, like so many things in the woods. I have a healthy respect for this plant. It has "bitten" me before.

We continued past the clinging poison oak and walked down to the switch back. We decided to turn around because it was getting darker.
 The dogs found the gopher condos on the side of the road.
They went nose to ground... and sniffed deeply into each hole.  I'm sure that the snakes use these tunnels too, so I always worry about the dogs noses. We moved on.
 The sun was setting making huge thunderheads pink in the distance, as the rain clouds slow moved to the east and disappeared. No more rain for a while...
It wasn't a long walk. Just enough for us to stretch our legs and to let the dogs make their joyful noise.

When we returned to the yard, they wanted to run around the garden for a while. This is their domain, their "familiar".
Cutter was tired. He sat on the steps with the Prospector and waited...
... for the front door to magically open.  He was still hearing animal sounds in the hills. These are fearful sounds to Cutter. His bravery was gone.
He was ready to lay down in the safety of his house. "Can we go inside please?"

Carl, on the other hand, wasn't finished with "outside". He thought he was at first, but then...
He went to chase a lizard who had to audacity to run across the rocks within the corner of Carl's peripheral vision. He didn't catch it and within a few minutes he was back.
"I'm really ready now." and he was.

We all went into the house. The Prospector to read a little, the dogs to rest and dream of their great adventure and myself to spend some time at the computer ( way too much time...). 
It was a good walk. The dogs were happy. 
We stretched our legs and we will sleep better for it.
Outside... it was dark now. 
What a difference a few minutes makes.
We were safe inside our home.
Life is good.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The magic of one sunset.

I have been so antsy the last few days and driving downtown to the grocery store or going to lunch with the Prospector just wasn't enough to rid me of my restlessness. So, this evening , just as the sun was setting. I took my first walk, down to the switch back and then back up to the house, since the operation. I told the man watching the ball game, in the livingroom that I was going for a walk. I took my camera and walked toward the back door.
The Prospector said, "Are you sure?"
I said, "It's time." and he said, "Well, be careful."

I'm wearing two shoes that match now. I feel like a normal person again.
The "black boot" is gone and my very comfortable Skecher's GoWalk slip on shoes, with the great arch support and wide fit, are being broken in. My left foot is still a little swollen and sensitive. It just needs some exercise.
The walk started with a bit of trepidation. I have been walking only on flat surfaces and not very far. I felt a bit off balance, so it's a good thing that I wasn't greeted by any angry animals or snakes. I would not have been able to run... from anything. I thought about that. It was not a good, mental picture of myself... trying to get away from a mountain lion. Worry was following me down the hill. My thoughts ran wild. But there were no predators to be seen... no sounds of rustling in the grass. Even the birds were quiet.

It's the heat. It dulls everything. I'm sure that smoke from the wildfires in the mountains give the wild animals concern too. They are probably all down at the river, thinking that the fires are coming closer and hoping that the water is a safe place to be. I'm only guessing... hoping... as I notice all the different scat on our road. They all come here... at night.
I guess I could swing my camera around by its strap and yell loudly. That's was going to be my plan as I continued walking... No plan at all really.
I walked slowly and carefully. The sun was setting and the sky was so beautiful. Lots of cloud cover today and that always makes for a wonderful sunset. The sky to the west was pink and blue, with grey clouds edged in white. I had to remind myself to pay attention to what I was doing. Looking at the sky while walking was akin to texting and driving.

When I got down to the "switchback", I looked up the hill to the west. It was like the sky in a Maxfield Parrish painting with its saturated hues and glowing clouds.
 I forgot about wild animals, my foot and the fact that darkness was falling fast. I just stood there and relished the incredible moment.
This was just what I needed. The sky was saying, " You haven't been paying attention. You've been wrapped up in your hurt foot and I've been here all along. Where have you been?"
I walked back up to the house and our cat, Annie, was waiting for me. We talked for a short while, Annie and I... and then I took one last, long look, before the darkness took the color from the sky.
Sometimes a prayer is in order... sometimes I see my world and I'm so thankful for being where I am that it brings tears. It's personal and it's needed.
I went for a walk...  I needed to be reminded of this place, again, and that it still holds the magic of one sunset.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Wishing for something amazing...

The new fig tree is loving this hot weather.
And if some critter doesn't eat the figs before they ripen, we should have a good crop this year. 
So far so good.

It's hot. The chickens are going around with their mouths open. This is when we need to be sure that there is plenty of water for them. The wild birds are sharing the birdbath and find shade during the hottest parts of the day in the trees and bushes nearby.
Carl caught a sparrow the other day.It was near the fence under some bushes. I think Carl was surprised to find that he had actually caught it. By the time I pried it from his mouth, it was dead. He was going to eat it. He was very unset that I took it away from him.

I had been trying to get some shots of our newest members of the community. We have a mother deer that comes to the watering container every evening. she has two babies that she is very protective of.
Usually, she comes down by herself and drinks... then at some point she lets the babies come down too.
But, the minute she sees me,  as if they have some sort of pre-arranged warning worked out between them, they disappear into the trees.
Mom always stands her ground and likes to give me "the look"...
As if to tell me that I need to keep my distance.
And then she slowly leaves too... 
And I get the tail end of her as she slowly walks away.

Well, a few days ago.... I went out to feed the chickens and close them up for the night. I looked down toward the driveway and there were the deer... all looking at me.
I returned to the house for my camera and when I came back outside, they were still there.
Miracle of miracles.
I finally got these photos of our cute, little spotted visitors.
They watched me... then they watched their mom.
Mom must have said something to them because, all of a sudden, they looked at each other.

One of them looked up the hill. The other kept staring at me.
Then one bolted up the hill and the other followed right behind
The response was orchestrated and without hesitation... and then they were gone.

But, I now have some images that I'm happy with.
They come back every evening to lean through fences and  reach into my garden. The pile of garden clippings has been rifled through by morning and the deer scat abounds.
Such beautiful creatures.  I wish I could touch them. Walk up to them and look into their eyes... to let them know that I'm OK, that they don't have to fear me.
But, it's a good thing that they are fearful. Death is always close. I hear it at night... when the coyotes kill something and howl their victories on some distant hill... and... there are all the other predators that own the hills from here to the river. I fear for these lovely creatures, especially at night. I'm reminded of a favorite Mary Oliver poem called

This morning I watched the deer
with beautiful lips touching the tips
of the cranberries, setting their hooves down
in the dampness carelessly, isn’t it after all
the carpet of their house, their home, whose roof
is the sky?

Why, then, was I suddenly miserable?

Well, then, this is nothing much.
This is just the heaviness of the body watching the swallows
gliding just under that roof.

This is the wish that the deer would not lift their heads
and leap away, leaving me there alone.
This is to wish to touch their faces, their brown wrists-
to sing some sparkling poem into
the folds of their ears,

then walk with them,
over the hills
and over the hills

and into the impossible trees.

( From Mary Oliver's book, Why I Wake Early.)