Category Archives: wildlife

The dishwasher …

has expired.

I’m currently saving every penny to put down on a new vehicle as my beloved convertible has deserted me.

I suppose all the trips into the mountains, on roads she wasn’t made to travel didn’t help.

I never meant to abuse her, but she knew what I was about when she called my name.

At any rate, she is now disabled so another vehicle must be acquired.

I’m going for a Jeep. I know exactly what I want excepting the color.

Still working on that.

But, that has nothing to do with dishes.

Or so one would think.

I can’t afford a new vehicle and a replacement dishwasher.

I had dirty dishes, but I hand washed them. 

I am currently in serious mountain trail withdrawal.

I suppose I can, when forced to, hand wash my dishes.

I don’t have to like it.

Considering, however, that Autumn is near, my priorities scatter.

Washing dishes is a small price to pay for being in the middle of creation as it undergoes its unimaginable metamorphosis.

I’m a photographer.

That doesn’t mean I can’t, if the need arises, be a dishwasher.

We do what needs to be done so we catch the shot. 

Ansel would agree and, were it necessary, wash dishes; of that, I am certain.

image

image

image

Yep. Certain.

I had every intention …

of blogging about driving around today with the convertible top down, the music loud and the wind in my face; of blooming trees and budding flowers, puffy clouds in a blue, sun-drenched sky and the perfectness of a warm April day.

But I just hung up the phone after talking to my mom and the things I previously held up in importance faded into the background.

She is a rock, a beacon, a lighthouse, a safe haven.

She knows everything about me, the things that shamed me and, at one time or another, shamed her.

In my youth, I hurt her deeply and couldn’t find within myself the knowledge or ability to make it right.

She knows of my dreams and aspirations and is always the first one to encourage me even as she puts her own dreams and aspirations on hold.

It isn’t easy to explain to someone that thoughts, images, words, experiences, memories and a myriad of other flotsam runs through my head, in a constant stream, even when I’m sleeping.

And that is when I am at my baseline and not in manic mode.

She takes it in stride without judgement or condemnation and, I have come to realize, did so even when I felt I was being judged and condemned.

Nobody can condemn me any more than I condemn myself.  It is the nature of my world and I live with it.

She knows, though, simply by looking at my face or hearing my voice ,when I am in the throes of mania or, thankfully more rarely, the despondency of a depressive crash.

She understands that sometimes, I have to go away; from her, from myself, from everyone and just be dormant.

She knows these things and doesn’t hold them against me.

There is no “well, you did this or that or the other thing”.

She isn’t like that.

She is patient and kind.

She is, without doubt, the Proverbs 31 woman.

I would like to be like her, but that is an aspiration that will never come.  It isn’t that my cup is half empty, but that I live, as much as I can, in a reality-based existence.

She is a light in a dark place and I migrate to her when I need simply to know that someone loves me unconditionally.

I tell her I love her, but how do you describe to someone that  you cannot imagine a life without them.

Unless I die first by some freak event, by the natural order of things, I will lose her at some point in my life.

I cannot imagine a world without my mom.

So I will put that with other things I cannot imagine into a box that lives in the outer-regions of my heart.

When I am manic, the box will break open and I will have to face the possibility, but for now, when I am am simply on overdrive, it is secure in the  little locked box.

She inspires me with her acceptance and encouragement and that, without doubt or reservation, beats blooming trees in springtime seen from a back road drive with the convertible top down.

I love you, Mom .

A houseguest

 

My Mother's Mother's bleeding hearts

My Mother’s Mother’s bleeding hearts

 

This is how she makes me feel ... cherished

This is how she makes me feel … cherished

All of that being said about my mom, I want to extrapolate to another area and  extend prayers and encouragement to a friend that I have long lost touch with.  She lost her son, the light of her world and is now lying among the shattered pieces of her world.  Keep Pam Begley in your prayers when you pray.  I cannot fathom losing a child.

 

For the first time in a long time …

I am not sure where I stand.  I have worried my family, called unashamedly upon my friends and have, in the end, doubted myself and my abilities.

None of which, mind you, is intentional.  It is all a part of the person I am, which is the same person I was yesterday, the day before and ten years ago.

I find myself in a place that is completely and irreverently foreign, while at the same time, alarmingly familiar to me.

I have been here before and, unfortunately, will be here again.

It is my nature.

It is my being.

It is, on occasion, my life.

I can find no pleasure in anything, most especially in the two things that usually, without fail, bring me immeasurable pleasure and boundless joy.

Photography and words.

I don’t want to take them; I don’t want to write them.

I don’t want to develop them once I have taken them and don’t want to read them once I’ve written them.

I don’t want to see them or immerse myself in them.

I am, truly and most inexplicably, at a loss.

Those are the things that, irregardless of professions and degrees, make me who I am.

Without them, everything else is irrelevant.

Photography and words are what sustain me while I am trying my level best to live from one day to the next.

They center me and keep me from teetering over a sometimes fine and fragile line.

And yet, for now anyway, the joy, beauty and perfection of image and verse escape me.

I am perplexed.

Maybe I am a figment of my own imagination.

Wouldn’t that be one for the books.  A figment of an imagination that never really existed in the first place.

An enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a puzzle.

I usually reserve that description for others I know, respect and revere  … and yet, well, here I am.

I have become my own puzzle.  Odd and disconcerting and yet, this too shall pass and from it will emerge something beyond my dreams.

It always does.

Until that time, be well, my lovelies, be well.

a young man, lock of love, a pure soul.

a young man, locks of love, a pure soul.

I love the moon, the moon loves me ...

I love the moon, the moon loves me …

the epitome of summer ... such beauty my eyes behold

the epitome of summer … such beauty my eyes behold

He always manages to get where he's going ...

He always manages to get where he’s going …

On this stormy night …

while Barry Manilow played in the background, I spent some time catching up on photo editing.  I culled through landscapes, portraits and random shots of various things that caught my eye.

Soaring

The photographs are often exactly what I expect them to be, but not always.  Sometimes, there is more to them than I saw with my eyes; images within images that make me realize, again, just how much there is to see.

stuff

The intimacy of holding wonder and beauty in the lens of my camera with nothing but light and shadow in between is profound; the effect it has on me is sometimes startling.  Just as a piece of music that soars and resonates takes my breath, so do the images.

fiddlestrings

Contrast, light, shadow, color, reflection … they capture my imagination and intrigue me, teaching me something new every time.  The same shot taken a hundred times will always yield a different result as nothing, not air nor wind nor water nor light, stays the same from one moment to the next.

graciekiss

I find, on occasion, that I have missed shots because I have become so mesmerized by what I was seeing that I forgot to click the shutter.  At these times, the magnificence of nature or the human spirit permeate my very being and make me more than I was before; more aware, more real, more emotional, more grounded.  Simply more.

honeysuckle

There will always be, no matter where I go or what I do, more to see and experience.  There will be new ways to feel old emotions and catalysts that will throw me where I never thought I could go.  That is the beauty of photography.  Every shot is an original.  Every shutter click is a memory kept.  Every image is a monument to a single, solitary moment in time.  The wonder of that knowledge never fades and it never, ever gets old.

After The Storm

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace ~ Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

The older I get …

the more I learn how little I really know.  I could stretch it and say that each day is a learning experience, but that would be extremely broad.  During a single day, there are many instances that have the ability to either help me grow or hold me back; many chances to breathe each moment, hold it, understand it and then move on.  I try not to dwell too much on the ones that hold me in limbo or worse, take me back a step.  Of all the things I am or aspire to be, perfect isn’t one of them.  As a matter of fact, it didn’t even make the list.

The first moment comes with awakening from sleep.  That pivotal instant between dreams and wakefulness, when the first thought, whatever it may be, comes to my conscious mind.   That single thought, if I let it, has the power to define my day.  Life events, dreams, daydreams, thoughts, wishes, people, places; they all play a part in that first waking thought.   Being the first learning moment of the day, however, makes it just that.  The first.  If I fail this one, I can either decide that the whole day is wasted and carry a chip on my shoulder or, I can move on.  Live and learn.  Isn’t that what we are all trying to do?

Being an idealist, I pretty much glide through life on a cloud of positive, often turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the negative.   I just take it, good or bad, as it comes.  It can’t though, no matter how much I wish it, all be good.  I try not to over-think things when they, as they sometimes do, go awry.  Since I have already learned this lesson, I know that a long hike with my camera is good for calming such tendencies.   As I make this journey, I continue to grow, learn, imagine and find pieces of myself I didn’t know were there.  Every day has the potential to become an incredibly wonderful adventure.   I have clothes, tripod, first-aid kit and my second favorite pair of boots in the car.   When I head out to work in the mornings, it is always with the hope that today will be the day.  For what?  Who knows?  And furthermore, who cares?   If it doesn’t happen today, there’s a good chance it will happen tomorrow … and so it goes.

honeysuckle

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.   ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

I thought I was prepared …

for the sheer depth of joy that would come with the total immersion of mind, body and spirit into the wilderness.  I wasn’t even close.  In three short months, I had forgotten the thrill of knowing the exhilaration of finding that there is nothing between me and nature except the air I breathe and my Pentax.   I had forgotten how awe-inspiring creation is when I can see it up close and personal.  I had forgotten just how alluring the smells of the earth in winter could be.

Today, however, I was reminded.   The sights, sounds and smells took me from my present self and put me in an altered state of mind.  One that thrives on finding out where the trail leads, then, when the trail has run its course, the adrenaline punching adventure of veering off to become one with the hills and valleys, the streams and creeks of my mountain; for today, it was on my mountain that I wandered.  My mind was peaceful, my thoughts were clear and my body strong as it responded to the challenges and physical demands of making my way through thickets and briar-laden brambles on steep, rocky hillsides.

The mind-numbing exhaustion of the past few weeks dissipated like fog under a summer sunrise.  With every step, I felt my energy level rise and my stress level fade into oblivion and it didn’t escape me that I can find myself in this same state of mind over and over; that nothing can happen to me in a week’s time that I can’t undo with a hike into places both known and unknown.  My mind is already full with thoughts of where I will go next week. I am blessed beyond measure by the simple things in life that God knows I have a need of.

Even now, I feel as though the energy inside me will simply burst forth, creating a display of light and shadow all around me.  I suppose, since there happens to be no other, more enjoyable outlet, I will expend that energy on laundry.  Pity.

underwater

Psalms 96: 11-12 ~ Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice.

Anticipation of its wonders…

nearly has me giddy.  It has been over two months since I have been out in the wild with my pentax, hiked a steep and winding mountain trail, sat on my favorite rock or stood in front of the falls.  I find that I am in serious withdrawal from the beauties and bounties of being alone in the midst of nature.  But the waiting is about to end.  After multiple injuries that kept me in a state of suspension on level ground, I am at the cusp of being released to return to my normal, weekend warrior activity.

The bone doc shakes his head at me each time I speak of climbing narrow mountain trails, scaling over rocks, holding onto trees to keep from falling backwards on steep paths and standing inches from the edge of a cliff just to get a vertical shot; he doesn’t understand that those things are as much a part of my life as the air I breathe.  He doesn’t understand that it is part of what sustains me. They make no sense to him and why, after all, should they.  I am part of distinct breed and we know what makes us tick whether anyone else does or not.

I long for it and longing is a very strong emotion.  I find myself thinking of the magnitude of loss that not having the hikes and jaunts every weekend have brought me.  No, it is not like losing a loved one or dear friend.  It is more like losing a cherished lover.  The envelopment of the wonder of nature is so complete that I feel untouchable when I am in the midst of it, held in the beauty and silence and soothed from every negative thought.  The silence of human voice combined with the chatter of nature is so alluring.  Setting up the tripod for long exposure shots, zooming in on a bloom, rock, leaf or whatever may catch my eye, is intoxicating to me; yes, I long for it.

It doesn’t matter what the good doctor has to say tomorrow.  I have been doing my own Physical Therapy and my shoulder is strong and ready to take on whatever comes my way.  I have already waited far longer than I wanted to.  I have exercised to way too many aerobics videos, practiced yoga until I can put my foot around my neck and into the opposite ear, lifted weights and performed hundreds of lunges and squats to keep my body strong.  I hate it.  Every single moment of it.  I don’t want to try to keep up with some bimbo that does things that make no sense and, regardless of how limber I am, I can only stretch so far.  I feel that I am well on my way to being a contortionists and warn my friends that they should not be surprised if they open a box and I am in it.

I have made an executive decision that I don’t really care, one way or the other, what the doc says tomorrow.  I am going into the mountain on Saturday.  I am going on a trail shoot and see what January in the mountains has to offer.  I have missed it more than I have the missed my dearest friends that I have neglected to keep in touch with.  Not great for their egos, but I’ve never lied to them before, why start now.  I think they know anyway; know that they take a back seat to the chance to get into the wilderness and see what waits for me there.  It’s why they are my dearest friends.  They understand me and, inexplicably, like me anyway.  Plain and simple.

While I still have a little soreness, the backpack will be a challenge.  But challenges don’t scare me, they inspire me.  So I’ll fill it up with water, toast-chee crackers, nekot cookies, a first aid kit, a few of my favorite lens filters and deal with it.  I’m already so excited about the adventure that everything else has suddenly become obsolete.  It just proves what I have said all along … I have a selfish bent.  And this Saturday, I’m playing the “me” card.  I have few responsibilities, when it comes to everyday weekend life, so being able to go where I please, when I please, for however long I please, is priceless.

Now to turn a complete 360 and change the subject entirely; I took out my Christmas tree tonight.  It was the first tree I have had in many years and the only one that has ever belonged solely to me.  I was apprehensive about putting one up at all.  I just didn’t want the past to become more a part of my future than it already is.  But I put it up, decorated it with only lights, and enjoyed it for over three weeks.  I now look out the unobstructed window and, with a regret I never imagined, miss my tree.  If I could have found a way to sustain it, I may have kept it up for months.  So soothing and comforting were the fading and blinking lights.  I don’t know for certain that I will have a tree next year as I doubt I will ever be as enamored as I was this year.  Taking back to myself what I had lost to sorrow, disappointment and plain disillusionment was one of the best things I have ever done for myself.  And I owe my dear friend, Missy, along with her young son, for picking out my perfect tree.  Many thanks in this shoutout to her and TAS.

Tomorrow is another day, and if I am blessed to live until then, I will embrace it and take it in as best I can.  My daily work has become a burden to me as I find my thoughts everywhere but where they should be.  It takes an enormous amount of concentration (which I am not know for), dedication, which I can  handle and people skills that though, I have a knack for, can’t find the passion that should be there.  In my heart, I am a photographer and writer; I am a nurse because I have bills to pay.  It didn’t start that way, but it’s how it ended up.  Anxiously awaiting Saturday when I will immerse myself in the beauty of winter.  I can barely sit still thinking about it.  That, in itself, speaks volumes.  That, in itself, defines a huge part of me.  My drummer, my march.  Selfish?  Yes, on some level.  Regretful?  Not a chance.  Bring it on.  I am willing and able.  No other requirements are necessary.  Praising God as I go and thank Him for all that He shows me.  I am blessed beyond anything I ever thought possible.  Yeah.

Little Stoney Falls, Southwest VA

Isaiah :12 ~ For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.