Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category


Beauty Parlor-08077“We need to go get my hair fixed tomorrow, call the lady in Virgilina and see if she’s got an appointment,” my mother said to me.

It was Thursday, Friday is the day Momma usually gets her hair fixed. I picked up the phone and dialed the number, made the appointment. When Friday came around, it was a nice day, sunny, bright and deliciously beautiful. I helped Momma with her bath, got us both ready to go and off we went.

Virgilina is a tiny little town that sits right smack dab on the border of North Carolina and Virginia. At one point in time, it was a copper mining town and had the worst tasting water you would ever drink. Virgilina was officially incorporated in February 1900, even had it’s on bank called The Bank of Virgilina! The current population is more or less 157 people now.

We get to the beauty parlor, I help momma in and get her settled. The lady says to me, “Hey, did you bring your cameras?” She knows I like to shoot pictures. I laughed and said, “Yep, I sure did. Was looking forward to goin’ to a Tobacca-08065different part of town today”. Another lady in curlers said, “OH… You have got to go down to my house! Across the street there’s the most beautiful field of t’bacca with sunflowers growing b’tween the rows. Why I like to eat my breakfast in the morning looking out on that field. It’s so beautiful!”

My mother said she’d be fine, to go ahead and go. I kissed her on the forehead and ran out the door, started the car, rolled down the windows and drove down the road. I was heading out to see the t’bacca.

As I drove, I was remembering my childhood. Coming to this same beauty parlor all those years ago, running barefoot down the street, going to the corner store to see James and get a coke with peanuts. Behind the store is the old firehouse my Uncle used to volunteer in, they’ve got a new one now. My cousin lived and still does a couple blocks away.

Somebody bought the old elementary school, they’re fixin’ it up and livin’ there now. And just a little further down the road is the t’bacca field I’ve been lookin’ for. I’ve never seen sunflowers growing with t’bacca. It was beautiful! It was some of the prettiest t’bacca I’d ever seen and the sunflowers just seemed to highlight the field and make it pop.

Sunflower bee-08060I got out of the car and walked between the rows, weaving in and out. Sunflowers were blooming everywhere, a few of the t’bacca plants hadn’t been suckered yet (the flowers were still on ’em). Bees were flying around, drunk on sunflower nectar. That made my heart sing. I shot pictures and allowed myself to feel the joy of just standing in that field. I know it sounds crazy but, I found that t’bacca field just as beautiful as the lady in curlers. Now I understood why she sent me there.


Read Full Post »

front yard-06353I know  when most people see a picture like this, they see a pretty landscape or nice yard. When I see the same picture, I think of getting down on my hands and knees with my camera to discover the world that lives within. To see what actually makes that beautiful landscape. After all, as my father said to me on my this last trip… “Those are just weeds. But, I suppose you could see them as pretty flowers”. In that moment, my dad said a mouthful!

For me, macro photography is visceral. It hits me deep inside, unsettles my nervous system and makes me feel as if I’m falling into a world of unseen beauty. A world that is so tiny and elegant we take it for granted, never taking the time to see what creates it. And yet, when we were little, those same minute details held so much wonder.

It was early spring when I arrived at my parents. The flowers were blooming, the newness of life was evident everywhere I looked, fresh and alive. Life was opening up, seeds were popping, and pollen was beginning to float. I witnessed amazing daffodils of all kinds, tiny little butter cups looking tall and elegant through my lens, and those little Christmas tree shaped bushes covered in blue orchid-like flowers that seem to proliferate in the grass of my parents yard. It’s truly amazing. And to be able to take pictures before it was all mowed made my heart go pitter patter. That was amazing!

As I was looking through the pictures, it made me reflect on what else gets taken for granted. What else is out there we don’t take the time to see? There is so much that comprises our small, individual universe, yet we never take time to just look, feel the wonder and breath in the beauty that surrounds us in our everyday life. Maybe, just maybe it’s time to do that.

Just for fun, here are a few of the pictures that helped open my eyes.

Read Full Post »

The day started out sunny, very exciting, then turned cloudy and rainy. We weren’t quite sure what to do but, Den suggested we take a trip to Giverny to see Monet’s garden. Especially since it was one of my top 3 things I wanted to do while in Paris and our days here are dwindling down. We checked the train schedule, bought our tickets and headed out the door. We were getting out of town. Didn’t matter if it rained, we are empowered with umbrellas and raincoats. Besides, a day in the country would do us some good!

We made our way to Gare St. Lazare and boarded our train. We noticed right away how silent the train is, it was unbelievable. The cars were clean and beautiful, seats were comfortable and I even had a little foot rest. Cool! The trip itself was quick and easy, we spent most of the time looking at one of my ipad apps about Paris, trying to decide what to do with the precious few days we have left. Before we knew it, we were in Vernon. And so far, the weather was holding up. Cloudy but no rain, a good omen.

We grabbed a cab and set off for Giverny, it was only a few kilometers away and we wanted to get there as quickly as possible. You can, however, take a bus, a tour or walk. I’ve done the walk both ways before, and after a long day of shooting, you’re bone tired. There were vast fields of amazing yellow flowers, as far as the eye could see. Den asked the driver to stop and he got out to take pictures. I stayed in the car, I was a little worried about the memory cards I had. They have rapidly gotten full and I wanted to save the space for Monet. After Den’s picture excursion, we continued on.

All I can say is wow, Monet created a beautiful vision of loveliness. It’s one thing to see the house and gardens on the internet, it’s another thing entirely to see them in person. We toured his home first. He had such an amazing eye for color. Each room painted differently either in a single hue or combination, including the furniture The dining room was lemon yellow, the sitting room robins egg blue with darker blue details (even the grandfather clock!), Japanese wood blocks covered the walls. His studio was large, airy and divided into two parts with reproductions of his paintings covering the walls.  I thought it was interesting that Monet’s bedroom was large and airy, with 3 big windows to view the gardens while his wife’s room was smaller with a little window looking over the street side of the house.

Now the gardens! Even on a cloudy day with a little sun and drizzle, they were spectacular. Tulips, so many different varieties, so many colors, they leave me speechless! At this point, I think it’s best if I let the pictures speak for themselves. Please remember, none of these are color-corrected. That will happen when I get home. For now, just enjoy the slideshow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday was gorgeous, today not so much.

feeding birdsYesterday was May Day (Labor Day here) with beautiful sunny weather Everyone was out. There were demonstrations in some parts of the city with people here and about carrying flags. We took the subway to the oldest part of Paris to walk in Les Tuileries gardens. People were out in droves, and most everything was closed. We needed to eat and forgot we could eat in the gardens…that was a mistake. We ended up in one of those “trendy” restaurants, you know the kind where a coke costs the same as a glass of wine and the food is…well “eh”. Young girls were sitting outside smoking their little lungs out while families and older people sat inside to escape. We ate appetizers with only one being worth the money, the rest were forgettable at best. The gardens were beautiful with amazing statuary, flowers blooming and perfectly green grass surrounding the paths and walkways. We marveled at the detail in the sculptures and the amount of people in the gardens. Everywhere we looked there was eye candy in all forms amazing art, flowers, a young boy feeding birds from his fingers, families with their kids on tricycles and young lovers in the grass.

One of the coolest things about yesterday was stumbling upon Shakespeare and Co. This is the oldest English language bookstore in Paris and it’s quite a joy to wander in. Books and old photos line the walls, the floors are old and well worn hardwood, a little tile here and there. A step leading to the back read, Live for Humanity, I loved that! I could have easily spent several hours perusing the shelves and wished we had found it earlier. We bought a book while there called, “The Invention of Paris: A History of Footsteps” Éric Hazan and David Fernbach. I’m looking forward to diving in.

Today was cloudy with afternoon rain. I had lunch with my friend Carol who lives here and introduced her to the restaurant we had visited a few nights before. The food was just as good and she was impressed, that was fun.  We later took the subway back to Les Tuileries, I wanted to walk around parts I hadn’t seen yesterday. I enjoyed wandering in the rain with umbrella and camera, with eyes wide open. I walked, got lost and found myself again.

Stained glass in churchI discovered a church with beautiful stained glass windows, paintings of saints, statuary and carvings. Some of the vestibules had been painted long ago and were fading with time. It was dark with very little light and I was surprised there wasn’t a sign asking people not to shoot inside like there is at Notre Dame. I would occasionally see flashes of light as people shot their pictures. I chose to shoot hand held, no flash. Thankfully there were a few places I could steady my camera as I shot.

Tomorrow? Who knows, Chateau de Versailles?

Read Full Post »

New Year’s resolutions are always fraught with peril. We say we want to change something in our life… perhaps exercise more, eat less, or spend less… and we slowly lose interest. A few weeks later we’re back to the same old patterns. And with that comes defeat… we don’t accomplish what we set out to do. No thanks, I’m not interested!

So this year, I decided to do something a little different. I wanted to come up with something that I could actually stick to, something that would help me be more aware of what I needed and wanted for myself. I’ve decided that my resolution is going to be to practice self-care in all it’s forms. To be aware of creating self-care for myself. Okay, I know it sounds hokey but, if I can’t figure out what I need in the care and maintenance of me, then act on it, who will?

So, I’m contemplating what self-care actually means. And I’m noticing, it gives me lots of room to maneuver, lots of areas where I can make things better for myself. Let’s just say, it’s making me more aware of what I haven’t been doing to support myself and how I can do it better. This ultimately shows me I care about who I am and what I want to be in the world.

So what does self-care look like? Well, how about taking a soak in a hot tub of water with a good book, maybe feeding myself something truly delicious that nurtures my body, taking a walk in the park, or even picking up my camera or paint brush and letting creativity flow? Those all, while being very different, fit the bill perfectly. See how easy that is? It isn’t so bad.

I don’t have to worry too much about not fulfilling my resolution. I just have to be conscious that I’m actually doing it and not forgetting myself in the care and maintenance of others. To be aware of all the ways I see what I need and fulfill that for myself. Self-care… that’s the ticket!

Read Full Post »

Hey Dude... how's the nectar?

A few weeks ago, I was visiting my parents. They have a bay window where their kitchen table sits and just outside is a hummingbird feeder and a little mock orange tree. What a joy it was to sit there during each meal and watch as the hummers would fly around, eat and sit in the little orange tree to watch us. They took turns chasing each other away and once in while would eat as a group of 2 or 3.

I’ve been curious about the symbolism of hummingbirds lately so, I looked them up on the net. I found lots of links and stories but, the one that resonated with me the most is this from or

In Native American culture, a hummingbird symbolizes timeless joy and the Nectar of Life. It’s a symbol for accomplishing that which seems impossible and will teach you how to find the miracle of joyful living from your own life circumstances.

The quote is from a book called, Animal-Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small, by Ted Andrews and published by Llewellyn Publications (September 1, 1996)

Personally, I’m feeling that more joy in my life can only help to counteract all the fear and hatred that seems to be resonating in the world these days. I’ve heard people say that we must be the change we want to see in the world. So, if being like a hummingbird can help me be more joyful and partake of the sweet nectar in my life then I’m all for it… I think it’s a great antidote!

Anybody want to join me?

Read Full Post »

Trees are beautiful!

We are visiting friends in the upper part of Oregon, “the gorge” as I hear them call it. Yesterday was rather cloudy and threatening rain. Nevertheless, I went for my morning walk anyway. There’s a park up the road, so I headed there.

One of the things I love about walking is it affords me lots of time to look around, to think, see and feel what is happening in my surroundings. The trees here are absolutely beautiful. Everything is so verdant, fresh, alive… almost vibrating with the essence life and the joy living.  I love that.

Where I live, trees are short, prickly things. You can’t go barefoot around them as they have long thorns similar to nails that are quite painful if you step on them… they are so strong, they even pierce through your shoes! These thorns are all over the branches and the locals make crowns of them to wear on their heads during the Easter celebrations as Christ did on the cross.

Here in Oregon, the trees are giant creatures, vibrating with life, their leaves literally dancing and undulating… breathing. Their bark coarse, beautiful and teeming with texture. I find them utterly fascinating, remembering how much I loved them as a child.

As I walk to the park, I peer into the woods and imagine what it would be like to hike in there. To feel the crunch of leaves and pine needles under my feet, the breeze through the trees as it kisses my face. I want to walk in but, dare not as I have people waiting for me to finish my morning exercise so we can explore the area.

Trees are sacred. They clean the air adding oxygen so we can live and breath free. They dance with beautiful breezes and shimmer with life as their leaves rustle and tickle our senses.  I am grateful for the time I have spent among these magnificent creatures and look forward to enjoying their beauty again.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: