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Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Quiet Place


As I've mentioned before, I'm working through Kim Manely Ort's book Adventures In Seeing with a group of online photographers. The adventure this week had us looking for and capturing the essence of a place. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around that until I read this definition of essence. Essence is the "attribute or set of attributes that make an entity or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity." The last phrase stuck with me. I began looking at places with the question "if this or that were taken away, would it change what this place is?"



Wandered through an old cemetery, I began to think about it's essence. What makes it what it is? Of course, the obvious is that a cemetery is a place of burial, but the not so obvious is what keeps me interested in early cemeteries. They have characteristics that are not found in modern ones.



As I entered the gates of the cemetery and gazed around, my eyes first noticed the shapes and sizes of the markers. The size usually depends on the wealth and status of the deceased in their community.



I was intrigued by the symbols that had been chosen to be engraved on the markers. Symbols can tell about the person who is buried there. It can tell of their marital status, religious beliefs, whether they are a mother, father or child, and sometimes even their occupation. Clasped hands are very common which can stand for a man holding a woman's hand, indicate marriage, or a symbol of farewell. The mansions in heaven are often depicted showing eternal life. Wreaths speak of victory in death. Three chain links that stand for friendship, love, and truth can be found on markers provided by the Grand United Order of Oddfellows. They provided burial plots and markers for those who could not afford their own. Four-petaled flowers represent the dogwood blooms which means resurrection, sacrifice, and eternal life.





I found grave markers trimmed with simple things such as marbles, rocks, or shells. Other markers were so weathered or covered with lichen that they were impossible to read.





Many graves were outlined with concrete. Sometimes items such as rocks were placed in the concrete or the concrete was carved with names. Some plots, mostly family plots, were enclosed in ornate fences.



There were markers to honor veterans from the War of 1812, the Civil War, and both World Wars.

Wandering through old cemeteries leaves me with a sense of peace. It's quiet. Usually the only sounds I hear are the birds and the rustle of leaves beneath my feet. I can reflect on those who are buried here, the lives they may have lived, the sorrows they endured, and I can whisper a prayer of gratitude for those who served our country.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Beauty In The Small Things


The ordinary . . . the small . . . the insignificant  . . . they are important, too! Every day we see and touch things that we don't even give a second glance. Yet, when given attention, these small things are as important and beautiful as the large things that do catch our eyes. I spent some time this week seeing the ordinary and small in a new way.


Plain brown twine and a cute little pair of scissors please my eye.


I didn't know I had so many colors of straight pins.


My heart swoons when I find a vintage button.


Dinner's on. I see a few carrots in there.


An ordinary spoon on a piece of fabric make a pretty reflection.

Take a moment.
Pick up something ordinary.
Look at it closely.
See the beauty in the small things.

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I'm enjoying following the adventures in Kim Manley Ort's book Adventures In Seeing. This week we looked at small things and celebrated their beauty.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Something New


I can take picture of nature over and over again. I delight in spending time outside discovering the beauties of things like mushrooms, rocks, water, trees, and such. There's always something new each day to discover. But, taking pictures of nature limits my experiences, so I tried something different. Something I have never done. I took my camera to the grocery store and enjoyed the beauty and smells of fruits and veggies.



If you know me very well, you know this is totally NOT ME! I am one of those people that never wants to call attention to myself. I definitely don't want to stand out. Just let me be a wallflower and I will be happy. Taking my camera out in a grocery store and taking pictures was very hard for me to do. I was uncomfortable and slightly nervous. The thought that circled round and round in my head was "what will people think?" There was one lady that looked at me very strange several times, but I just smiled, ducked my head, and kept taking pictures. I honestly expected a call over the store's speaker any moment "security to the produce department!"


After a few pictures I did become more relaxed strolling down the aisle looking for color, shapes, and textures.


I survived the experience. No one confiscated my camera or sent me running for the door. As I walked outside to my car, there was a smile on my face. I'd done it! I'd been brave and I had pictures to prove it! 


Changing up what we normally do, might be scary, (this certainly was for me!) but new experiences can refresh and inspire. That's not only true in photography, but in everyday life. We need to get away from our ordinary and try new experiences. It could be as simple as driving a different way to work or reading a book in a genre that we normally don't read. 


I not only came home with a better attitude about myself and a few pictures, I came home with some delicious looking fruit!  




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I'm working through Kim Manley Ort's book Adventures In Seeing. This week's assignment was opening ourselves up to a different type of photography and experience.



Sunday, February 5, 2017

I'm Stuck


I was all ready for this new year to begin. I'd truly had enough of 2016! I had plans for 2017. I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish and projects I wanted to work on. I was ready for the new beginning. Well, here it is February and I've just been stuck. Stuck at doing very little. Just like this little feather, I'm getting nowhere!

I don't know what really when wrong with my plans. It could be the upheaval our world is in. It's so discouraging. Or, it could be the awful virus that Jerry and I have had since Christmas. No matter what we do, we can't seem to shake it. We've both been to the doctor, taken steroids and antibiotics for sinus infections, and we're still under the weather. My attention span is short and my "want to" is gone!

I decided to really look hard at January and at least find a few things I've accomplished.
  • I've kept up my daily Bible reading. I read the New Testament last year and now I'm reading the Old Testament which is much harder. I can't pronounce all those names!
  • I've posted four times on this blog and twice on Focus On Life. Here's a link to the two posts I wrote over at Focus On Life, if you'd like to read them. More Good Than Bad and The Beauty Of Winter.
  • I've gone on four photography outings and that's a very good accomplishment!
  • I've read a lot. There's nothing wrong with that.
  • I've worked seven jigsaw puzzles. Yes, seven, with a head that's pounding that's about all I can do when I can't focus on reading!

Looking at the whole picture, maybe it hasn't been too bad. I am doing something, but I just seem to be muddling through with no direction or real focus; just wasting time. As I begin this month, I'm hoping for more purpose and more direction. I'm hoping a mighty wind will come by, blow out the cobwebs (and the virus), and blow me back on course!!

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I'm linking today with Scene & Story hosted by Lee and Sarah.
Drop by Sarah's blog and check it out!
Join us each month as we choose a photo and tell a story.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Don't Think, Just Walk




I stood at the fork in the path wondering which way should I go.
My mind said do the normal thing . . . go to the right.
My intuition said . . . go to the left.
I went to the right.
I let my mind overrule.

The whole purpose of the outing was to go on a photo walk and let my intuition lead me, but I didn't. Not at first anyway. Sure enough, there was nothing of interest to the right and I felt very unsettled. I retraced my steps and took the left path. Yes, this was much better. How come? I don't know it just felt right. That's what intuition is, a "gut feeling," an "inner voice," or a "sixth sense." Unlike the other path, this path was full of surprises. The first was a tepee made of branches. I'm sure there's a story behind this. Wish I knew it! I can just see a couple of small children sitting in there having a powwow!


I walked on and as I rounded a corner, I came to an area that was covered in massive Nadine bushes. I had no idea they grew so tall. Most were at least 8 to 10 feet tall, covered in pretty red berries.


I saw a hollowed out log. I can just imagine a bunny hopping through there.



At the end of the trail I crossed an old rock bridge over a small stream. If you know me well, you know I love water and being anywhere close to water makes me happy.


I sat down on the bank of the stream and just relaxed. I watched the leaves as they were caught in the water's current; noticed the colors, textures and patterns of the rocks; and looked at shadows and reflections. That's when I noticed something making ripples.


I kept looking for the source. I figured it was a bug of some sort, but I couldn't find it. What I did notice was five circular dark spots on a rock. A shadow of something, but what?


Then I saw it! A small insect. A Gerridae commonly known as a water strider, pond skater, or water skipper. Although they were fascinating I was more intrigued by their shadows. They reminded me of something alien, like a spaceship.


I can't tell you how long I sat there watching them and waiting for just the right moment to get a picture where I could see both the bug and it's shadow.


So, how did my intuition do? Did it lead me the right way? I think so, when I finally listened to it! I had a great walk, rested by the water, and found some fascinating insects.

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As I mentioned before I'm working through Kim Manley Ort's book Adventures In Seeing. This week's assignment was to go on a photo walk and following your intuition. I chose to go to a park I've never been to before. That way I wouldn't have any preconceived notions about what I might find to photography.