Wednesday, December 30, 2009


We will remember this year as the year of the big snow. Everyone in this area will, since this was the most snow ever, for the month of December in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. As much as we complained about the snow, it was beautiful, and the days after were picture postcards of deep blue sky nestled in pure thick waddings of snow.

For the next year, I am making promises, instead of resolutions. I promise to work on my patience (double entendre intended). I promise to eat healthier, and less of it, and drink more water. I promise to write more and look in to opportunities to write for pay. (My book reviewing job has been cut from the magazine I wrote for.) I promise to use my camera more often and learn to train my eye for the beauty beneath the surface. I promise to delve into my spiritual side.

What will 2010 be known for?

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Holiday Punch

It is day four of "The Holiday Punch" as my local TV weathermen called  this weather event. This is the view from my front door the morning of the second day of the storm. All the snow has fallen off the trees: however, the two and three feet of snow on the road is still there.

And we are stuck in the house. Or to the driveway which took us 6 hours to dig out. The road committee we pay yearly dues to has not produced a plow in sight to get our whole neighborhood to a main road. What to do?

We did the obvious, use your imaginations. Thankfully, we have electricity and heat. And the internet, our cameras, our video, our dog, and our new Christmas toys: dual Blackberries. As virgin Blackberry users, we have loads of time to download and play with our new tools.We are a little sore in  muscles we had forgotten about but it was a good excuse to eat the Ben and Jerry ice cream in the refrigerator. I watched a neat silent movie on Netflix  instant movie on the internet called, " The Cat and the Canary", a haunted house movie from 1927. I wonder if they got snowed in then? I leave you with one more shot of the storm..

Sunday, December 6, 2009

First Snow

The first snow of the season came early this year, December 4. Usually, it doesn't snow here (at least accumulate) until January or February. It was pretty, enjoyable to see, since we didn't have to go anywhere, or be anywhere. Good thing, too, since they haven't figured out how to plow or treat roads. Even though it snows every year. And since this is the oldest state (or close to it) in the country, I guess that means the Highway Dept. is a little slow on the uptake. There were four accidents, three fatalities, mostly because the roads weren't plowed correctly and large spots of slushy snow, and later ice plagued the roads. Idiots who drive too fast were also at fault. We couldn't walk our dog except along the road, but he didn't mind. He is too full of energy today, though.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Some oldies but goodies

I made this olive bread awhile back and it photographed better than it tasted. It was a beautiful loaf, made from a recipe from a breadmaker in France, using black olives and honey. It should have been good, but this was back in my beginner bread making days; when I didn't know how to critique a recipe. The inside of this bread was not cooked enough, and the purple color of the greek olives turned some of the dough inside a weird shade of purple. But it was a thing of beauty.

This is a shot of snow on the new buds of a Judas Tree in my front yard. It happened one spring when it snowed here in April, something that very rarely happens. The snow was gone by the afternoon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

For a While...

For awhile, I will not have the ability to use my photoshop and photos and post on the internet. We have a new computer with Windows 7, but no modem to connect the laptop with the photos and the new computer with the internet! I just figured out how to burn some photos onto a disc and transfer them to the new computer/internet to share some older photos with you.  The purple flower is a Gladiator Allium. The bear is a black bear who raided my bird feeders one or two years ago. We took this photo out the kitchen window, so sorry if it is blurry. We really didn't want to get too close to our visitor. The blue flowers are irises. We used to have a large bed of these beautiful flowers. Alas, they are spent now, and no longer produce flowers. If I am not too lazy, I will have to pick and plant new bulbs this fall.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


This is a shot taken in the early morning at Cape Cod Canal, and the end, looking toward the ocean. The power plant is on your right.  I like looking at the textures of the calm water, the rocky New England shore and the hanging clouds.
The next shot is taken of textures/colors of the pier. Large oil tankers dock along the Canal and off load the oil.

This is a shot of beach rose and other sea plants along the Canal. The beach roses are a type of hardy rose that can tolerate the sun and the wind and the salt air near the ocean. Locals make a jelly out of the berries, tasting similar to cranberries, another native berry to the Cape Cod area.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monotone Creatures

I know Gretal looks fierce here (maybe she has watched too much Tyra Banks on Next Top American Model) but she actually is just begging for a treat. Very vocally.

Here is Baron with his ears held back in Mercury position. He talks with his ears. This position means he is not sure how to react. He doesn't really like the camera. This is probably him right before he runs away from it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Walk Remembered

We enjoy our walks in Webb Park. These shots were taken in September of this year. I enjoy looking at them on cold, rainy days like today, when I can't get out and take new shots. We loved the sky on that day, and the early fall colors of the beach and meadows.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Various old gravestones

This guy hangs around my Mother's house during Halloween. He greets the trick or treaters with a big smile. I thought I would post some of the gravestones from the Old North Burying Ground in Weymouth, MA. They are fascinating, and most from the 1600 and 1700's.This is the Captain's stone. He seems a little creepy to me. I think the stone cutter was trying to capture his death bead portrait.

Mr. Torrey has a scary looking flying skull to decorate his grave. Why did the colonists like such gruesome carvings, I don't know.

Jane's stone at least has a flying smiling skull...
This is a sibling stone. This depicts a brother and sister who died within a couple of days of each other. You can see the children tucked into their beds (or is it their coffins?)

Anyone else have photos of interesting gravestones to share for Halloween?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Late Fall in VA

This is one of the many times I wish I had a longer lens, like a 200 or a 300mm. My puny kit lens happened to be on my camera when these three balloons floating away in the distance showed up. This was the best I could do with what I have. This is also my street. I have a photo somewhere of this street with the fog rising from the bottom of the hill, but I can't find it.

Because this is somewhat of a tourist destination, balloon tours operate year round, and a few take a trip over my house and down the road to the Blue Ridge Mountains. I live on a mountain right before the National Park. I love looking at the balloons with their bright colors and the sound of the flames whooshing up to send them away. My dog doesn't like the sound but thinks he can catch them. Silly dog.
The dogwoods are turning red, and the berries are being eaten by squirrels, deer and my resident mockingbird. The mockingbird perches at the top of the tree and scolds anything else who dares approach his source of berry. I liked the way the sun hit the middle leaf in this shot.
My winter birds are returning. Oh I really could use the long lens to capture those beauties. We have yellow throats, junkos, fox sparrows and purple finches here in the cold months. They make up for our gorgeous hummingbirds who have left for Mexico.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Items around my house in Black and White

I had a nice cup of green tea this morning. I was trying to be able to capture the steam as it curled around in the shaft of sunlight and strips of shade but couldn't do it. I did enjoy how the reflection of the window blinds is mirrored on the cup, and how black and white shows the geometrical lines of the cup and the shadow of the tea bag.

This one was a little more creepy. This is the side of an antique peanut jar with Mr. Peanut in glass. It came from my husband's grandmother's house and dates from the 1920's. I find Mr. Peanut to look a little scary.
This is a shot of the end of a conch shell we found on the beach in NE when we first met in the 1980's. I love the texture of the shell, and was pleased how black and white show off the lines and shades of the shell.   Photography can be great therapy when you are under the weather!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Playing with Photoshop

This shot is a collection of perfumes sitting on my marble table, posterized in Photoshop. I love Photoshop. I love to play with it, design and create with it, and see what I can do with it. Some people think Photoshop is cheating. I do try to get everything right in the camera: I shoot in RAW, I am careful of my exposure and my white balance, I try to use a tripod or at least a sturdy surface ( I shake a lot from years of taking asthma meds.) But then there is the pleasure of editing with Photoshop.
I learn everytime I use the program. I have about six books about how to use/create and design with it, but I still need to practice. What is important to me may not be what is covered in the books. Photoshop is such a huge program, no one book can cover it all.

Plus, every photographer uses Photoshop differently. I guess they call it their workflow. I don't follow anyone else's flow, I try and do it myself. I also use the internet for online learning about photoshop.

I started with Photoshop Elements, a great program. I took two online classes on how to use it. Then, my husband surprised me and bought the latest edition of Photoshop for me to use. It is a whole new learning curve (but that is what I wanted to do, right? Expand my brain cells). Currently I am teaching myself about layers, adjustment layers, masks, and portrait editing.

Do you think a photo editing software is cheating?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Old North Cemetery, Weymouth MA

My husband and I have always loved to walk in old cemeteries: the kind you can find in New England, some dating back to the 1600's.

These shots were taken at the North Weymouth, or "The Old North Cemetery" in Massachusetts. It is the second oldest cemetery in Massachusetts. The web site states it may be the oldest cemetery still in use in the USA.

This cemetery is beautiful to walk around in the fall. Huge old colorful trees dot the landscape, and shady paths wind around the ancient stones. The stones are wonderfully carved, and some tell a story. Look at Elizabeth Cotton's grave about. It says, "Here lyes the body of Elizabeth Cotton...who died upon this road for reason of a fall from her horse, October 31, 1710 aged 45 years..." What was this middle aged woman doing riding her horse through a graveyard on Halloween? Why did she fall off her horse? The grave also states she was from Hampton, Ma, no where near Weymouth. She was married, too. This stone alone could be the source of a good historical fiction novel.  There is a Civil War memorial in the front of the area, as seen below. You can read the names of the men who fought and died and then find their family plots.
I love the old trees in the cemetary. They are wide trees, big enough to hug and admire the colorful leaves. I have more stone shots, if anyone is interested in seeing them. Maybe I will include more closer to Halloween. Here is a link to the Cemetery: Old North Cemetery. Enjoy the photos there, also. You can take your dog also, which is unusual for a public cemetery. I guess they figure the folks who have been dead 400 years won't mind!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


This is a photo of my Mom, on her last visit to my home. She is watching something interesting on the TV (probably pretending to watch one of the many CSI shows my Dad prefers). She is 74.
I was thinking of my Mom, and how mothers must worry about their daughters as they grow up. I don't have any children, so I can't fully understand the worries, but hearing about the latest girl to have disappeared in my area, I can sympathize.

A young girl, 20 years old, disappeared during a Metallica concert in my town. They found her purse and her car in the parking lot on Sunday. She hasn't been seen since Saturday night.

This disappearance brought to mind when Natalie Hollaway disappeared in Aruba on spring break. I would watch the news for her, and somehow was upset she was missing, much like this girl's disapperance is bothering me now.

I think: that could have been me. I was a young girl, once, full of myself, not afraid of much, out in the wild world, going to concerts, on trips, all over, without supervision. I took some chances, I know. I was lucky. These two were not.

I appreciate Mothers. They worry everyday. Yet, they let go. With smiles on their faces and knots in their hearts.

On a lighter note, here is Dad in the middle of a big yawn, right before he fell asleep in the rocking chair he bought me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall in the Garden

Fall in my garden is a messy place. I lose interest in weeding by September. The deer have made a salad out of most of my plants. What is left is on its own.

The resilience of the plants is amazing. To the left is an old Mum plant, bought at Walmart on a whim, about three falls ago. I took it out of the pot, placed in the back garden (the one only we can see) and let it go.

The mum is no longer the nice orderly ball of flowers you see for sale at all the local supermarkets in the fall. It has spread all over the back garden in big sweeping masses, some touching the ground. It blooms twice a year; the spring and the fall. The color of the flowers has deepened, somehow. I can't kill this plant. And the deer leave it alone.

The shot to the left is that of my last remaining, uneaten, Anaheim hot pepper. We love hot peppers and grow two bushes of them a year. We have a successful Habenero plant, and this one, an Anaheim pepper plant. Poor plant. We probably had about ten growing peppers on it three weeks ago. One morning we noticed all the peppers, branches and most of the leaves were eaten (Deer, those varmits) off the plant. One lone pepper remains.

Oh, those lawn boys. Came around the corner in their ridearound mower and chopped down my birdbath. We had specially picked this birdbath about eight years ago, for its shallow depth and the center part, where little birds could perch ant get a drink. The lawn company promised to reimburse us for a new bath. Ever try to find a birdbath in the fall?

And the final sign of fall. My putty colored house is covered in these Oriental ladybugs. Covered. Thousands of them cling to the sunny front of the house during the day, and fly into the woods at night. Many escape into my house. We find them everywhere. They stink when you squish them, so we try to put them back outside. I wanted to get a shot of them swarming but got creeped out by them flying around my head and into my ears and all over me. Yuck.

What does your garden look like in the fall?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Temple of Music

This shot is of the Benedict Temple of Music, built in 1924 and still used today at Roger Williams Park in Rhode Island for concerts and family get togethers.
We were surprised at how peaceful and interesting the park in the middle of the city seems to be. There are loads of places to sit and picnic, or walk around with your dog, or take some great shots of the old park architecture and various ponds and huge old trees that dot the landscape. There is also the wonderful zoo there (can't take the old dog though), a garden, a police barracks with horses (my dog loves horses), lots of trails, flowers, ducks, locals, all kinds of things. I wish we had more time to spend there. Next time we go up we will plan to spend at least half a day taking some shots and enjoying a peaceful walk with the dog.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


This shot is of the Tappan Zee bridge spanning the Hudson River. It is taken from inside the car, while I am driving (husband took the shot, I am not that crazy to drive and shoot at the same time) along the bridge, through the windshield. I am petrified of bridges.
Bridges are one of my fears. From when I was a little girl, I had a particular nightmare about a steep bridge over deep water, with no guard rail on the side, and the road being covered in ice and snow. The bridge seems like a ski slope in my dream, with the car struggling to get up it without falling over it.

Years later, I was with my boyfriend at the time (now the husband) going on a day trip in Rhode Island. We came to a steep looking bridge. Sure enough, it was the bridge of my nightmare. I was shocked and a little sweaty palmed. Here was my nightmare in real life. Of course it was summer, so it wasn't as frightening but still.

Speaking with my parents afterwards, I came to find out the bridge in RI was one they used to drive over with me when I was very young and we lived on the border between MA and RI. It must have frightened me as a child.

Most recently the Old Jamestown Bridge was demolished, so there goes the stuff of my dreams.

Jamestown bridge photo from Wikipedia original source not specified.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Meet My Little Love

Here is one of the loves of my life: my dog Baron, or officially, Birkenwald's Little Baron. He is a purebred schipperke, a small black dog from Belgium. He is twelve years old now, and acts like he is two. My FaceBook friend list is full of schipperke owners. Probably because they are unusual dogs, and not seen very often.

Questions schipperke owners get frequently are: "Is that a cat?" Hmm, no. "What kind of dog is that?" Well, at least the person can tell it is a dog and not something else. Even worse, the person who says, "Is that one of the miniature pigs?" Those people I encourage Baron to lunge and bark at. A pig. How degrading! The weirdest inquiry about Baron happened at the public library. Baron was minding his own business, when a man with a BMI of about 50, asked us: "Is he one of the boat dogs?" We told him that yes, schipperkes are often found on boats. Then he said, "Is it true he has to lifted up to pee? Like going over the edge of a boat?" At that point, I wanted to be far away from the big man, and so did Baron. He knows when he can smell a strange being. I didn't know what to say so we scootled away.

Baron is an active dog. That is putting it mildly. On days when we are all home he is a whirlwind of activity. He wants to go out about every hour to make sure nothing has invaded his turf. He wants food. All the time. He wants a belly rub, or to eat a tasty spider he finds on the floor. He jumps up on our laps for a chew on a rawhide stick and to watch the Yankees on TV, then jumps down a minute later to see what is happening in another room. Sometimes he goes upstairs. What he does up there is beyond me. We just hear alot of thumps. How can a 16 pound dog make thumping noises?

Baron is a challenging dog to take photos of. First, because he is black. And he doesn't stop moving. And he hates cameras. I only got this shot because my six year old nephew was waving something enticing in front of him on a fork. Later he shared his cake with Baron, so maybe that was it.

Right now he is downstairs watching an old Humphrey Bogart war movie with my husband. War movies put him to sleep. (me too).

I would tell you about my other love, but he hates getting his picture taken even more than the dog!

Friday, October 16, 2009

New England Skies

Skies in New England in the early fall can be beautiful. This shot was taken at Webb Memorial Park in Weymouth, Massachusetts. I love the contrails of the airplanes streaking across the bright blue of the sky mirrored in the blue of the Atlantic Ocean below.

This memorial is on a slight hill at the park, with wonderful views of the ocean and the islands across the way. Commander Donald Haviland, Chief Engineer, was honored with this memorial, and a Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal for going above and beyond his duty for others. He was lost in the Arctic Ocean on duty.

We have been going to this park for years. And so have the locals. You are bound to encounter dog walkers (dogs must be on leash), and sprightly seniors strolling around the paths. There are gentle inclines and declines and scenic lookouts all throughout the park. Birding is great here too. This is where we saw our first Orchard Oriole. Photographic opportunities here are great: bring your wide angle and your long lens for the birds.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Poppy to brighten up the place

It is a dismal dank day around the eastern seaboard today. Misty, cool and the kind of weather to sleep in.

Most of us can't sleep in. Hi ho hi ho off to work we go. At least if we remember to take photos of all the gorgeous flowers in their gaudy summertime glory, we can have a little sunshine to look at on our desktop.

This is a shot of an Oriental poppy along side some purple salvia growing in my backyard. I planted the poppy seeds years ago, after I had some money left over at Walmart, and saw the poppy seed plant envelope. It was cheap, and I figured I would through the teensie seeds around the ground and see what nature did. It did, about two years later, much to my surprise.
This flower is huge. We only get about two poppy flowers a season. Hard to imagine such a extravagant bloom comes from a seed about the size of a head of a pin. You can see some of the seeds in the middle of the flower.

My gardens develop much like my brain: scattered, deep in places, bare in others, with shots of color to amaze me. I like to plant bulbs of all sorts all over the place, and see what comes up. I have thrown more than just an packet of one type of seed around the ground, but the poppy has been the most spectacular. A lot of my garden is overgrown. In the spring, I go on a plant hunt in my garden. I rake the leaves, pull up the weeds and see what little gems are hiding.

I don't know what kind of flower the little yellow ones are. I bought some bulbs from a friend who was selling them to raise money for her son's school. They come up every year.

The last shot is of some sort of wild daisy. I had nothing to do with this one. This is a gift from Mother Nature.

I hope I brightened up your gloomy day if you are having one.