Category Archives: a photographer’s heart

Death is imminent …

it is something that every one of us will, at some time, face.

I am saddened this night because someone dear to my heart passed away.

I have tried to rationalize it and understand it, but death is death.

My heart is heavy for many reasons.

I know, because of my own loss, what his wife is feeling right now.

She is devastated and reeling from the blow that she is now alone.

I don’t completely understand what his daughters are going through because God has performed miracle after miracle upon my own father, but my imagination runs wild.

I have, on many occasions, although it tears me into pieces, told my  mother that if she and Daddy couldn’t go at the same time, I would want  him to go first because the thought of dealing with him without her is beyond my comprehension.

I don’t want to lose either of them, but I, we, live in the real world where people die and are buried and life either ceases with their death, or we move on.

Life is what it is, when it is, as it is.

Walking on the mountain tops or soaring above them is a wondrous thing, but in reality, we are often in the foxholes, valleys and dark places.

How we deal with these times defines us.

Do we encourage or enable?

Are we a rock or shifting sand?

These are the moments that Jesus calls us to, the times that He relies on us to uphold His people.

I am unworthy on every level imaginable, but I know, without doubt or reservation, what it feels like to lose a husband.

And I know what it feels like to be comforted by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

I am, according to what is “out there”, the minority, but I don ‘t care.

I know what I know, feel what I feel, experience what I experience, learn as I go, live as it comes and believe on the fantastic.

Life is a gamble and nobody, but nobody will leave this world alive.

The photo of my late husband included in this post was taken two weeks to the day after he was buried.

An image in my head could be discounted, but a photograph is, as the saying goes, worth a thousand words.

Beyond the Grave

Beyond the Grave

In order to recognize an imposter cat …

it is important to understand what a real cat does.

Real cats chase mice, keep spiders away, keep all rodents from invading the home front and bask in the sun when they have the chance.

They climb trees, chase butterflies and practice pouncing on anything that looks pouncable.  (disclaimer:  pouncable is not a real word, but worked in this post so I made it up and used it).

It is also good to know the difference between inside and outdoor cats, real ones, not the imposters.

When dealing with imposter cats, cat rules and regulations apparently do not apply.

I have learned this the hard way.

Inside cats shed their downy fur onto everything … furniture, inside the refrigerator, the sink, underwear drawer and everywhere else that isn’t covered in plastic and securely duct-taped.

Outside cats are different, but not in a big way.

Real outside cats rub on the porch, scratch the railing making it look mauled and walk up and down across both the front and back window of your car leaving muddy paw-prints as evidence.

And they don’t care that they leave evidence because they are cats and cats are immune to human fallacies.

They will urinate on your vegetation and cause it to either stop growing or grow into something that isn’t of this world.  It is quite the phenomenon … the results of cat urine.

They will become accustomed to being fed at certain times and if not accommodated, will scratch at the door like dogs.  (don’t tell them they act like dogs though or you could easily lose an eye).

They will chase other cats away if any should show up at your door by hissing and chasing, thus making them look like real cats who do cat things like chase mice.

When you see the first sign of mouse droppings inside your house, you will know that your outside cats are not on the job.  For further proof, watch the food bowl.

Imposter cats will sit and watch birds eat their food.

Birds.

Cats.

Cats watching birds as they eat the food they scratched on the door for.

What Brigadoon have I fallen into where this kind of thing happens?

I didn’t ask for these cats, they just appeared.

I don’t have the heart to see them  hungry, so I fed them.

My mistake.

Now I have a horde of furry creatures that look like cats but don’t chase mice, let birds eat their food and put their paw-prints all over my car.

Imposters, one and all.

I would call the dogs, but the cats are laying against them to keep warm.

What, I ask, is the world coming to?.

What, indeed?

Hello.  I’m Yellow Tom.   What’s your name?maternity_crystal-132

Friendship comes in many forms.friendship

Birds fighting over cat food.thebirds

Lunch with a friend …

turned into a five-hour visit.

Five hours.

Just visiting.

The waitress came by regularly for the first 45-minutes.  After that, we became a novelty.  She would still come by and offer service, but it was with a different attitude.

It wasn’t that she had to serve us (which she did because she gets paid to do so), but that she wanted some of what we had.

A friendship.

A kinship.

A shared knowledge of how much we were loved and cherished by Jesus.

People cringe at that word.  Yes, cringe.  You can say God all day long, but mention Jesus and people start to squirm.

But that is a post for another day.

Back to the point at hand …

Our simple lunch turned into five hours of worship, confession, joy, praise and thanksgiving.

Day two, resolution free, and I’ve already been blessed abundantly.

Living life in real time.

Speaking of real time, I encourage everyone to check out So Real Ministries, founded by my friend Lori, who along with myself, sat in a booth at Teddy’s in Nickelsville today for the whole five hours.  We did.  And nobody ran us out.  But I digress.  Check out So Real on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SoRealMinistries and on Twitter at @SOREALMinistry .

octoberleaftour_day2-16

I feel …

good.

I feel good.

Yes, I said it and yes I mean it.

I feel good.

It has been an incredibly difficult week with incredibly difficult patients and incredibly difficult news from friends, and yet, through it all …

I feel good.

I’m not manic.

As strange as it may seem, I am totally even.  Completely sane.  Absurdly normal.

I think to myself that I should be manic and irrational and standing in left field waiting for a right field hit, and yet, here I am.

Feeling like a normal human isn’t something that I am readily accustomed to.  It takes me by surprise when I find myself being like everyone else.

I don’t know whether to be elated or dejected, so, for the moment, I will choose elated.

While I am an optimist, elation is not my dearest friend.

But for tonight, for this moment, for this space in time, I will embrace it, cherish it and relish the feeling of elation.

Some things are to be taken at face value.

This is one of them.

Life comes as it comes and while there are valleys, there are also mountains and being on the mountain makes all the valleys worth the sacrifice.

I am, for now, standing on the mountain and I am reminded just how blessed I was to have the valleys so I could enjoy the view from the mountain.

I. Feel. Good.

Praise the Lord.

if it were easy, there wouldn't be any reward in it.  Be adventurous

if it were easy, there wouldn’t be any reward in it. Be adventurous

There is something about rain …

the sound of it, anyway, that is mesmerizing.

I love it.

I find myself getting lost in it.

The soft sounds or the heavy, torrential pounding that a good storm can produce.

Imagine my joy when I recently learned that there is a musical instrument that can make the sound of rain.

It is called a rainstick and, as with all things that are new to me, I had to find out more about it.

What is it?  Where does it come from?  What is it made of?  What makes it work?  How does that sound get inside?

I asked all of these questions and went in search of answers.

I found them.

I was told only that the sound of rain in a friend’s musical composition was made by a rainstick which he described as “a percussion instrument that lets pebbles cascade over small spikes”.

With that image in mind,  it was hard for me to imagine something other than plinko.  You know, drop the disk and let it bounce off spikes and hope it falls into the slot you were shooting for.  It is a game, one of pure chance, and I was not about to be satisfied with that.

After researching the rainstick, I found the history of it to be most fascinating.  So fascinating, in fact, that I almost forgot why I was looking it up to begin with.

As it turns out, the origin of the traditional South American rain stick isn’t known, not definitively, anyway.  Indian tribes in Chile, Peru and Mexico all lay claim to having invented them, and one compelling theory contends that African slaves who arrived in the New World during the Spanish occupation brought them.

The euphonious sound of the traditional rainstick were supposedly once thought to have the power to bring rain and was used in prayer ceremonies among the Aztecs as well as others.  The sound was so lovely, however, that it made its way into the making of music, something that is as old as time itself.  Music.  And, now that I think about it, rain, as well.

The rainstick is made primarily from the dried Eulychnia acida, or Capao cactus after it has lived a long and healthy sixty plus years.  The “arms” are harvested, dried, cleaned and  hollowed out.  Spines are pushed into the hard body of the cactus and many very small stones are sealed inside.  When the instrument is inverted, the stones cascade along the helically spaced spikes making the sound of rain. (There are likely other varieties of cacti that rainsticks can be fashioned from, but Capao came up consistently in my research.)

Ingenious.

As with everything else, however,  it had to be classified, reclassified and sub-classified.  It is now known to be part of the percussion/shaken idiophone family.  The shaken part is, as any music nerd can likely tell you, a sub-category of the idiophone.  Me?  I had to look it up.

I listened to the piece that drew my attention to the instrument over and over while writing this post.  I listened to it because it is brilliantly done and pleasing to the ear.  The fact that is was written by a friend was coincidental, but he doesn’t need to know that I found such favor with it.  Don’t take my word for it, though, take a listen and judge for yourselves and then decide if you can live out the rest of your life without owning your own rainstick.

I decided that I couldn’t.  I’m expecting it in the mail by next Friday.

A historic day …

is on the horizon.

For the first time in many years (there have been several numbers floating around, but it is safe to say many, many years since and even many more until it happens again), the first day of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving Day fall on the same date.

As it happens, it is also my birthday.

It isn’t often that one has the opportunity to physically coincide with history in the making, but this year, I and all the others who share November 28 as their birthday … well, we get to gloat a bit.

It is our day, after all and the fact that it is a day that will go down in history raises the cool factor quite a few notches.

That’s what birthdays are, is that not accurate?

A celebration of our life?

The remembrance of the day we came into being on this earth?

It is pretty important.

I love birthdays.  I don’t care so much if people share them with me, although it is always a plus to be remembered, it isn’t required for it to be special to me.  It is enough to know that it is my birthday.

And now, this year, an iconic year, I share my birthday with Thanksgiving and Hanukkah.

That’s pretty awesome.

So to all the others out there who will turning a year older on a day that will go down in history, Happy Birthday, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Thanksgiving.

I don’t keep up with what’s hot and what’s not, but I’m pretty sure that somebody famous or at least quasi-famous said “Happy! Happy! Happy!”  (I don’t know who, but I see and hear it on a fairly regular basis, so someone must have started it).

beach_birds-321

I have abandoned Facebook …

cut all ties.

Deactivated my account.

Yes, it is true, and in doing so, I find that I have taken my life back.

I no longer debase myself a dozen (OK, that is conservative) times a day to see what is going on with people I don’t even know.

I no longer look for absolution from those I do.

I don’t look to see who has been checking in with me even as I am checking on them while they are checking on me.

It had become a bit like an out of control spy ring where everyone needed to know everything and I wanted to tell things but didn’t want anyone to know what I wanted to tell.

It was pathetic, really, the importance that I had begun to place on seeing who was where and why.

I can’t remember a specific time when I felt so entirely like my life was my own.

Freedom.

In spades.

I have no-one to impress, nobody to account to or, for that matter, to account for.  When I have something to say, I write it in my journal.

My journal is so happy to have me back as a regular contributor that it has congratulated me.

Delusions of grandeur?  Possibly.

Seriously, though, it has been a freeing experience to find that what I think, like, know and experience is my own to think, like, know and experience.

I don’t need anyone’s approval to think thoughts or hear music.

When I am manic, it is OK, when I am feeling low and depressed, it is OK.

I need no validation or congratulation or adulation or any other “ation” for any of my actions.

They are mine and mine alone and the need to have someone else understand them has passed.

I understand them and what anyone else may think or have to add has become irrelevant.

Glory.

And glory again.

The first couple of days felt awkward, but after a week, when I wasn’t missed, I realized that I had begun to think way too much of myself.

Many of the people on my “friends” list have my phone number and could call or text anytime they felt like it.

They haven’t.

Others on my “friends” list have my email address and could send me a message anytime they felt like it.

They haven’t.

It was important for me to realize how little importance, in the grand scheme of things, I really have.

I was beginning feel something that I have never, not in any space of time in my entire life, felt.

Conceited.

Egotistical.

Self-centered.

That is not who I was, who I am nor who I ever want to be.

It was freeing to realize that nobody really thinks about me on a daily basis.

That would be weird.  Seriously weird, if people thought about me all the time.

I will admit that there are ones those that I think about much more often than is good for me, but I have cut those ties as well.

I am a solitary introvert.  I always have been and pretending to be otherwise did not serve me well.

I know what I want, what I hope for and wish for and nobody, other than myself, need to be privy to such privileged information.

During my facebook run, I trusted some people I shouldn’t have, thought about ones I had no right to and was well on my way to becoming obsessed with being liked.

I don’t care about being liked.

That is old news, teenage stuff, high school drama.

I don’t care if people like me or not.

I  like myself and that, in itself, is quite the accomplishment.

Will I go back to Facebook?

I honestly don’t know.

I feel so good not being a part of something that had the distinct capability to make me feel bad about myself that I doubt, quite seriously, that I will go back.

If I do go back, it won’t be in the same frame of mind that I left.

It will be a more confident, self-assured, know where I’m going because I’ve been where I’ve been mentality.

In the meantime, I’m reveling in realizing who I am, who I can trust, who I thought I could trust but can’t and what my purpose is.

It is an adventure that, although daunting at times, has proven to be the ultimate learning experience.

I am happy even when I’m not.

There is power in that realization.  The knowledge that I am happy simply being myself without any extraneous notions.

I can be happy and cry at the same time.

I have set my Sagittarian spirit free.

Mind-boggling in ways I never imagined.

I. Am. Free.

And I find that I like it that way.

solitude

A moment of clarity …

is priceless.

Like fine wine from a stellar year.  A bottle unopened and virginal in it’s uniqueness.

A moment of clarity when all of the world is in color, without shades of gray, without confusion that masks the wonders as the snow on an old TV.  Clarity without aluminum foil to make the picture clear.

I love these moments.  They are like photographs that have been taken simply to remind me that this moment isn’t all there is.

There is more.

There is much more.

I am feeling hyper these days and that makes me anxious.  It is such a small step from hyper to manic and I work dilligently to not be manic.

It comes when it comes and I have no say about it.

But it hurts those I care about.

I don’t care so much about myself.  This is my life and I live it, but when it touches others, it hurts me on a level that is far beyond what I feel capable of handling.

I am me.

I don’t know how to be anyone else.

I don’t, however, want to be a burden to my friends.

Yes, I am hyper, but am not yet manic.

It is only a matter of time.

I try to close myself off from everyone when this happens, but there are a few that I lean on and hope that, when all is said and done, they will forgive me yet again.

They are the people who bring me back to reality when I stray and they know who they are.

I only hope they know I don’t take them for granted.

Just a day in the life.

It isn’t always pretty, but more often than not, it is.  I live for the “it is” moments.

I am a survivor and this impending event will not break me.

It may bend me, but it will not break me.

I get by with  a little help from my friends.

clarinethands

Beemer, a sweet Great Pyrenees, shows his Hollywood

Taking it easy, literally …

Love’s like a hurricane, I am a tree …

bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.

Unequivocally, my favorite line of any song I have ever heard.

A bold statement, yes, I know, especially considering that I have heard thousands and thousands of songs in the decades of my life.

It doesn’t change this revelation in the least.  I first heard this song less than 72 hours ago.  It has been around for a while.  As a matter of fact, it was released eight years ago on my birthday.

I had to know more about who wrote words that surpassed any I have ever heard.  Maybe they struck a chord in me because I have a deep love and respect for trees and, on occasion, imagine myself to be one; swaying in the wind, basking in the sun, playing in the moonlight beneath a sky bursting with stars.

Being a seeker of knowledge, I went in search of answers.

The song was written by an independent singer/songwriter named John Mark McMillan.  In an interview, he says that he wrote this the day after his best friend died after sustaining injuries in a terrible car accident.  In the same interview, he tells of his friend, Stephen Coffey, a youth minister for Morning Star Ministries who said aloud the words “I would give my life today if it would shake the youth of the nation” the morning before the accident.

John Mark wrote the song the next day.  He says that the love he is singing about is not a pretty “Hollywood  hot-pink” love, but the kind of love that is willing to love even when things are difficult and messy.  He goes on to say that  “This song isn’t a celebration of weakness and anger.  It’s a celebration of a God who would want to hang with us through those things, who would want to be a part of our lives through those things, and,despite who we are, He would want to be a part of us, our community and our family”.

I have listened to this song at least 200 times since I first heard it.  I am listening to it now.  I cannot pull myself away from what it says to me, how it makes me feel, where it takes me.

I imagine, before the anniversary of the song’s release, (on my birthday), I will listen to it several hundred more times.  I know every note, every sound, every pitch, every word and I hold them deep inside of me.

They make me want to sing; the make me want to cry.  But not tears of sadness, but ones of joy and celebration that even with all my imperfectness, I am loved and cherished by a Savior that I adore.

I have taken the blinders from my eyes, the plastic wrap from my mirrors and have embraced life with a fullness and freedom that I have never quite been able to achieve.

The freedom to love, to be loved, to seek and, in seeking, expect to find.

I will never be the same again and that may be one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever been given.

I’m putting a link to John Mark’s version.  I have heard several artists sing it in the last couple of days, but this version, his version, is by far my favorite.

John Mark McMillan ~ How He Loves ….

John Mark’s song-story …

twitter

When the wheel never stops turning …

life can become more of a trial than a joy.

The thought process becomes so discombobulated with the inundation of information and images that simply focusing on what is relevant becomes a near impossibility.

My family and friends know that some of my blogs are about them.  They are about life as I live it, so how could they not be?

This particular blog is about photographs that aren’t my own; photographs I want to take.

It is about images I want to see with my own eyes, not through someone else’s.

It is about the words that surround the images.

It is about the music I play that enhances the images and the words that describe them.

It is about the the things I dream of.

These statements alone make me sound like some kind of fanatic, but I’m not a fanatic.

I am a photographer.

I am a writer.

I am (somewhere in my soul) a musician.

I want to see, write and hear for myself.

Experience the heat, the cold, the adrenaline, the magic, the music, the inspiration, the awe.

I work for a living so that I can traipse around to places I want to see, photograph them and then write about them.

It may sound as though I am putting down the importance of nursing, something I have done for 25 years.

I’m not.

Just today, a patient made me cry when he told me that I was a bright spot in his day and he looked forward to my visits more than he did meal-time.

If you have ever been in the hospital, you know that meal-time is one of the highlights, and so I felt very moved.

But I wanted, more than to speak with him and encourage him, to photograph him.

I have been on a photographic journey, teaching myself, learning from others, finding God in the creation He so beautifully paints, for more than 30 years.

It is my center.  My sense of self.

My life is made up of images.  They rotate through my head like a never-ending carousel .

Image after image after image after image.

And the words.

Mrs. Campbell in eleventh grade gave me the courage to have  confidence in my words.

She was my favorite teacher and the one, above all, that I remember the most.

And yet, I digress. (But thanks, Mrs. C)

I can’t even begin to explain, with all of my words, what the words, when coupled with the images, does to me.

It shatters me on a level that is the most perfect shattering a person could ever hope for.

I wonder sometimes if I am vain.  I certainly don’t think much of myself, so that kind of vanity is out, but the images … I like them.  I want others to like them.  I desire, not to be famous, or even rich, but to simply be able to live out my life doing what I love.

I don’t think that is too much to ask, but therein lies the vanity.

I look at myself and see nothing special … I look at the images I see through the eyes God gave me and I see great things.

I don’t mind, particularly, sleeping in my car.  I don’t need much more than toast-chee crackers and an occasional diet Dr. Pepper.

But I need to see.

To experience.

To feel.

I want to know what a North Dakota winter looks like, what a New Orleans Summer smells like, what driving along the coast road from California to Washington State feels like.

I want to see the beauty, to feel the air, to see the endless flat road of Kansas extending out in front of me.

I want to taste the fog of San Francisco and breathe the vastness of a Montana sky.

I used to think that I wanted too much, but a wise woman (my mamaw Daphne) told me “some people want the simple and others want the extravagant  … wanting is wanting whatever the dream may be”.

She taught me to not be ashamed to want the things I want and dream for the things of which I dream.

If I can see the things I want to see, I won’t need others to show them to me and if I can play the piano myself, I won’t long for someone else to play for me.

So my dreams are this … to see my country and then see Ireland, to play the piano and to have a jeep, preferably red .

That is the extent of the the dreams I have for myself …

I have much deeper and greater dreams for those I love and cherish, but myself?  It is the simple things that stir my heart.

I have hope.

I have faith.

Nothing else is required.

It will happen when it happens.

And it will happen.  Of that, I am certain.

Until next time, be well, my friends … be well.

And don’t forget to dream.

flowersfornini