New skin

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Left behind

At least once a year, I am left with a present somewhere in my studio.  It’s a little unnerving to find and I always wonder if its former occupant is somewhere nearby, waiting to watch the look on my face when I discover my new gift.

Yes, that is a snake skin.  This year, it was a little over 5 feet long.  A friendly fellow, I am sure.  (I hope!)  Likely a black snake who, along with his feline co-habitants, help to keep the mouse population in check around here.   

As the new year knocks on our doors come the end of December, I think about what skins I want to shed and leave behind and what new skin I might want to acquire.  At this age I find myself, more than ever, comfortable in my current skin.  Not too tight yet not too wrinkly (yet 🙂 ).  Perhaps I will try and stay in it for a bit longer.  Instead of shedding what I have this year, I think I will put my efforts into growing a little further into who I am, working a little harder at discovering just how pliable and akin to new learning that skin of mine is.  Perhaps I will take my photography out a bit further, push myself a little harder when I run.  Or maybe I will give myself permission to take an occasional day and do nothing but play in my studio.  I hope I can be a better human being in the upcoming year, whatever that means for me.

Yes, I think I will keep my skin for now.  I’ll rub in some sweet, scented lotion to soften it up, and stretch out in it, just a bit.

Impression of David

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David

 Sometimes I like to fool with my images beyond the normal, cleaner processing.  I mess and I mess and I mess until something strikes me.  Such was this photo of David, my husband.  The original photo is nice enough, clean and clear, evoking a memory of a lovely vacation in Seattle a few anniversaries ago, where we found lots of fun riding the ferries back and forth across the Puget Sound.  

But this photo evokes something quite different from me, with relatively little to do with our time that week.  This is much more about the impressions I have of the person my husband is–focused, intent, fully engaged in whatever he’s taken on for the moment.  Someone with vision and someone who has my complete attention (most of the time).  Someone who is not so clear-cut in personality at times.  Someone who changes and grows right before my very eyes, not so crisp and clean but, rather, reshaping himself by the day.  Blurry and sometimes rough around the edges.  I am not sure who he is or who he going to be each day.  I am often surprised, still, to watch him unfold right before my very eyes.  To watch him suffer and recover and continue to recover in the span of the time we have been together is one of the most remarkable gifts I could ever have been given or allowed to witness. 

David, I suppose, is a gift of hope for me.  The impression of a person who struggles to be a better human being every day.  Not a more loving husband, I am sure, to be found.  

How blessed I am today.

Squirrelly

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Gettin’ squirrelly, Shirley

I must confess, I am recycling some of the photos I have taken in the last few years, those left on the digital cutting room floor.  I’m giving them a second glance, partly because life is a little hectic right now and I’ve had little time to go out and shoot for the fun of it–plus, it is buck-a$$ cold.  So tonight, I sit in front of a blazing fire, playing with photos I missed the first time around while my greyhound sleeps next to me and my other furbaby…well, she is tearing up a paper towel on the floor beneath us for reasons known only to her….

Anyway.

There are times I look out the kitchen window and see four or five of these large fox squirrels.  I go through quite a bit of sunflower seed and, I assure you, fur and feathered customers rival one another in amounts of seeds consumed.  Doesn’t matter to me.  Squirrels have to eat, too–and then there are the crows, feeding first thing in the morning on the cup of peanuts I throw out for them (yes, I feed them on purpose) by the pond.  A family of four (was three last year)–one acts as a sentinel while the other three take turns scoring the peanuts.  If I haven’t put peanuts out by daybreak, they are cawing my name at the top of their lungs until they shame me into providing breakfast.

Its a squirrelly place, this life in the country.  But I totally love it.

Path

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Path

 

 It is curious, sometimes, the path we find ourselves on.  There are times in my life, and not infrequently, where I wonder how I ended up where I am, who I am.  The path ahead leaves few distinct clues.  Those it does leave, the signs I interpret as having meaning for my own path — “Sidewalk Trail” — end up as a sign meant for someone else.  There is sometimes apprehension.  I look down the path and wonder how far it continues for me.  I cannot see its end, yet it could be just out of my sight.  Will I be prepared to travel that path, the one whose end could be near.  Or perhaps the larger question, will I be prepared to continue on to places not familiar, figures unknown, no end in sight.  Does the path even end, even when it ends?

I realize I cannot prepare and there are too many questions to be answered.  I know that I must step forward.  Standing still is not an option.  The path magically moves beneath my feet, as if the genie is its pilot, and I move forward regardless of my desire, at times, to remain statuesque.

I wish I could see what’s up there.

I’m glad I can’t see what’s up there.

I’ll just keep moving on the path.

Yellow

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Yellow

  

 We’ve made the news here in NW PA, apparently the national news.  Seems as though the weather predicted here was to be so astoundingly poor, we were thought to be newsworthy 🙂  A colleague of mine, several counties away, emailed me yesterday to ask how I was.  “Why do you ask?”, I replied.  “The weather,” she stated.  “You guys made the national news!”.  I glanced out my office window.  It was snowing, which it does here, pretty much, four to five months out of the year.  I laughed as I hit reply:  “Well, thanks for asking…but it looks pretty normal to me for December.”  Must’ve been a slow news day for the media.   

One of my employees also emailed me late Monday:  “Will the county being closing down tomorrow because of all the snow predictions?”  At this point, I admittedly pulled up the weather channel on my laptop.  Looking outside was apparently passe as a measure of…well, what was going on outside.  I pulled it up.  Indeed, a warning for Lake Effect Snow.  A possible additional 10 to 15 inches.  Satisfied that my instincts were correct, that this was no more than a typical winter’s day for our area, I returned to my email and hit reply once more:  “I don’t know,” I replied, “Let’s check tomorrow morning and see what happens.”  

 Sigh.   

I’m all for taking a snow day and first in line to check the news channel, like an eager 5th grader waiting for that wonderful announcement:  “Schools closed”.  I’ve got my sled slicked up and some cocoa stashed in the cupboard for just such a day.  But not today.  Today, it’s just cold and snowy.  And I’m pretty sure it will melt away at least once before it really slows us down for the winter.  

 For those of you not quite ready for prime time winter, some added spring sunshine in the form of my very favorite posies–the dandelion.  If they don’t warm you up, nothing will.  

 Have a great day! 

 

Sitting still

Sitting still

 Precious few are the moments I find these days for quiet and meditation.  Most often, those moments are stolen in the early hours of the morning, when the animals and human inhabitants of our home are fast asleep.  It is in these quiet hours I can lean in to my soul, embrace the quiet, and reflect on the importance of stillness in my life.  Many individuals find discomfort in quiet and solitary time.  I do not, for it is there that I come to know myself, who I am.

As I move forward in to the busy week, I have an image in my mind.  An image of stillness.  I carry it with me to remind me of what it feels like to slow down, take a breath, and stare quietly until I can see my inner peace.

Have a good week, everyone.

 

 
 

Slowing down

In like a cardinal

Winter made her entrance this week, not so much like a lion in these parts, more like a lamb (or a cardinal, depending on your perspective).  I always find myself eagerly anticipating the first snows of winter, a signal that a nature-imposed slow down of the world around us is afoot.  It is as if we are given the opportunity in these parts to just stop and rest.  There are no lawns to cut, no weeds to kill, no paint to scrape.  Our commutes take a little longer and we leave for and return from our jobs in the dark. 

I resisted the winters when I was a younger woman.  There was no place in my world for slowness or peace.  I lived a harried and chaotic life by choice.  Now I find myself looking forward to the shorter days, the blanketed lawn, the fire in my fireplace, and a warm cup of tea.  I have learned to enjoy some parts of winter and accept it–for the most part–as part of my fabric, one of my seasons.  I know it will pass into longer, lighter days filled with warmth and flowers and much more color.  But for now I have learned not just to be content on most days, but to actually embrace the opportunity to slow down.

I hope you all have a great weekend.

The end is near

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The end is near

 

I have been driving by this farm for some time now.  As a matter of fact, I photographed it a few years back for my blog–a shot of the barn and its accompanying farmhouse right before a storm:

 

 

 

Spring storms a'coming

 

In this past week, the home sitting to the right of the barn disappeared.  Its been boarded up for a bit of time now, its occupants no longer in sight.  And today, driving to work, I noticed the heavy equipment, sitting in front of the grand barn, readying to demolish it.  I stopped the car to photograph it, a darkened rainy morning befitting the days to proceed the demise of what was once, I imagine, a heavy duty, labor intensive, dairy farm.  And now, building by building, it has vanished.

 

I sat in the road for just a bit of time after taking my photos.  I felt so very sad.  I’m not sure why, exactly.  I do not know the farmers who once tended the cows and land here.  For all I know, they have sold the property for a lot of money and are living out the retirement of their dreams, somewhere very warm.  No, it is not necessarily the farmer for whom I grieve but, rather, the farm itself.  For all the farms and farmers who disappear each week, as they can no longer afford to keep their bills paid and stay ahead of the game.

 

I feel a soap box coming on.  I hit the backspace button.  Goodbye barn.  I’m glad I got a few photos of you.  Dream of better days.