“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

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.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Apples to Apples

I have to tell you about the most fun I have had in a long time. When I went down to see my family on the 4th of July, I spent that Sunday evening at my son's house. We had dinner, spent some time in the garden...
looked at the sunflowers and marveled at how tall they grow.

and then while we ate strawberry shortcake for dessert, I was taught how to play a game called Apples to Apples.

The Beans showed me how to play and what to do. I guess I was a fast learner because I got the thumbs up from my oldest grandson.
I gave the camera to my daughter in law and she took these photos of our progress.

Little Bean needed some help with a few words that he didn't know... so we did some teamwork on the side. I would whisper in his ear what the word was  and sometimes what it meant.
This is a game of synonyms. A card is laid on the table and it might say "beautiful". The players all put one card in the middle of the table that they think comes the closest to being a synonym for "beautiful" But, because the cards were randomly given to you out of the deck, you don't always have a card that works and that's when it gets funny. You have to put a card down. Sometimes you have the perfect card, like "stunning" or "the universe" or "mothers"... but sometimes you only have " Mashed potatoes" or "motor oil" and that's all you have to work with. One designated person (that was me.) had to decide which came the closest to "beautiful" and who gets to keep the "beautiful" card. The person that ends up with the most cards wins the game.
Once in a while I would have two cards that were not even in the ball park as a synonym for the first card. That's when I had to decide which one was better than the other.
So they waited for me to read the choices...
.. which were sometimes so bizarre that I would have to repeat the original word and read them all the synonyms that they put on the table. I would read them out loud, trying not to laugh.
Then, we would all crack up, when the closest synonym to "snake" was not "slither", or even "scary", but "bologna sandwich".
We would all laugh ourselves silly... and then have a short round table discussion about what a "snake" sandwich would taste like.
Maybe you had to be there, but I haven't had this much fun in a long time. This is what grandkids do for you. They make you a kid again, if you don't let "being an adult" get in the way.
What a wonderful evening it was.

Monday, July 21, 2014

My sister's beautiful, new rescue dog and saying goodbye to Daisy.

This is Stella. she is a German Shorthair Pointer and she's a most beautiful dog. My sister has adopted her from the Tony LaRussa Animal Rescue Foundation. (http://www.arf.net/)

Listen to her, in her own words...
"I'm learning my new name. It's Stella. I have had other names but I like this one best. Now,  I have a dog friend named Fozzy to play with and a good family that thinks I'm a wonderful dog. I am.
I have a big backyard to run around with Fozzy and a place to chase birds.
I can't tell them my story, but they don't seem to care because they picked me and their love is unconditional. I'm just glad to be here."

I have some medical issues that we are working on and the vet thinks I'm about 5 or 6 years old... maybe older.
"On the 4th of July, my mistress had a party. The whole family was here. It was fun.  Her sister came too. She has a camera that she takes pictures with... all the time. I can't seem to find a place to get away from this lady... and now she has a camera in her phone, so she acts like she's making a phone call and then takes my picture."

"I was getting tired and wanted to take a nap. This lady was still there taking pictures of me and I had a hard time keeping my eyes open."

"Finally, I decided that enough was enough and I hid my face behind a pillow. She got the message and left me alone."
"I love this place."

( Stella is a beautiful dog. My sister and her husband are so happy with her. Fozzy enjoys having another dog to play with and they seems to be very compatible. Fozzy is a poodle mix... with an attitude. He's a character. He always looks kind of above it all and sometimes carried an annoyed expression around with him... but he is so happy to have Stella there. Dogs love being with dogs and the two of them are becoming good friends.)

Save an animal... ADOPT.

This post is dedicated to a dog named Daisy. My sister-in-law, Carol, lost her dog this weekend. Daisy was a sweet old lovable dog who was fighting Cancer and finally had to leave us. 
Daisy will find her master Jack, over Rainbow Bridge, where he has been waiting for her. Now, she can keep him company and they will be together forever.
We love these dogs so much. They become a part of our lives. What a gift each one is to us. I think that they are sent to teach us about the goodness in life and unconditional love. They come to us with joy and sit by our side in our sadness. They are the beautiful, mute "guardian angels" in our lives.
 RIP Daisy. Your pain and suffering is over. We all loved you. Goodbye, sweet dog.