Day 8: Natural World and Leading Lines

I love taking nature photographs, especially close-ups of flowers. The curves of the petals, the spirals, the textures all interest me. When the pickings are slim outside during the winter months, I take pictures of my houseplants, or buy a  bouquet of flowers at the market and bring them home, and play around with different exposures and settings. Here are my results: The last one is a photo of a butterfly I took last summer.

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Staying in Focus: Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth of Field


Weekly Photo Challenge: This week, share with us your take on “depth” — you can take it literally, like me, by showing something (a dense forest, your lawn after a blizzard) that suggests volume, a distance between surface and bottom. Or go with a more figurative approach: use a deep color palette, play with your image’s depth of field, or highlight a person, a place, or an object to which you feel deeply connected.


When I received my first SLR, I enrolled in a photography class so that I would learn how to use my camera and not just depend on the automatic functions. I learned a lot in that class and,  as I was really interested in nature photography, I really enjoyed the depth of field function, specifically  shooting with a shallow depth of field. Here are a few of my favorites:

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Daily Prompt: Seasonal Scents: Staying in Focus: Scents of Summers Past

  Daily Prompt: S’mores, salty ocean breezes, veggie burgers on the grill, sweaty people on the bus — what’s the smell you associate the most with summer?


Staying in Focus: Finding Peace Among the Flowers

Our  friends have been under a great deal of stress lately, so we  decided to take them to Duke Gardens and hang out with the ducks and the pretty flowers. It was a beautiful day for the first of June, bright sunshine , blue sky, no humidity. We walked under a canopy of tree branches, shady and cool, around a pond filled with ducks and white swans with black necks. We sat on a stone bench and just listened to the birdsong. We all felt much more relaxed after our mini vacation from the stresses of life.

This wooded path reminded me of a poem I had written years ago while visiting poet Carl Sandburg’s home, Connemara


Follow the shady path around the pond.

Follow the shady path around the pond.










Beneath the leafy canopy

I walk each summer’s day

I pause along the woodland path

and watch the shadows play

As sunlight filters through the trees

and gentle breezes kiss my face

I know I’ve found a refuge here,

A woodland home, a sacred place


And this picture of the lake  brought to mind this one:









Still Waters

The placid waters of the lake

reflect the leaves of green

My thoughts lie calm, like waters still

my spirit is serene

I let fly loose the tension, then,

let go the stress and pain

and in my mind and in my soul

I feel at peace again.


I invite you to take a virtual tour today, let go the stress and  find peace among the flowers.



A family of geese out for an afternoon swim



Swan in black  and white


These hostas look like they were hand painted – I guess they were – by mother nature!

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Staying in Focus: The Merry Month of May

I was away last week when the merry month of May began and so I am a bit late with my May poem and photographs. May is my favorite spring month. We celebrate Mother’s Day, and my mom and I have our birthdays this month. 61 years ago on May 16th, I was her birthday present.  On May 20th, she will be 91. We are blessed to still have her with us after her experiences last year, but the therapy the doctors are using seems to be holding the cancer in her lung from spreading as recent medical tests showed everything stable. She is looking forward to the year ahead. as her 18th great grandchild was born on May 2nd.

In May, the lilacs bloom in New Jersey. My grandma would give me a big bunch of them for my birthday.  Here in the south, the leaves on the trees are still a bright spring green, and people are planting colorful annuals in gardens and around their landscape bushes, at the entrance to subdivisions, in pots and planters on decks and porches and patios. Some adventuresome houseplants move to the porch for a breath of fresh air. May is a month when life flourishes and the focus of our days is on being outside – walking and jogging, playing ball, swimming in pools and lakes and in the salt water of the sea. Barbecue grills fire up, picnics are planned, and boats of all sizes and shapes emerge from under their canvas blankets to return to the water for a day of fishing, sailing or cruising. May is, indeed,  a merry month!


Mothers and flowers and birds on the wing,

the sun warms the earth, the earth starts to sing

of sunny mornings kissed with droplets of dew,

while fluffy white clouds drift in skies of deep blue…                          Continue reading

Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Don’t Miss the Magic

Daily Prompt: You have been transformed into a mystical being who has the ability to do magic. Describe your new abilities in detail. How will you use your new skills?

Don’t Miss the Magic

One really doesn’t have to be a mystical being to experience magic, for magic is all around us, unfolding every day; but were I a mystical being, my task would be simple:  to open people’s eyes to the magic that surrounds them.

There is magic in the rising sun IMG_8448as it heralds the break of day. There is magic in the wisps of fog, which wreathe a distant mountaintop, and in crystal dew, shining like diamonds in the morning sun.

There is magic in the delicate wings of a butterfly Photo05_3and the intricate veins of a leafIMG_8125

There is the magic of birdsong in the morning, and in the mystery of the stars in the evening sky. There is magic in the velvet petal of a rose,IMG_0015 - Copy
in the first flower of spring and the vibrant leaves that dress the trees in autumn splendor.IMG_2260

I see magic in the very existence of bubbles,

a bubble armada

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My Whale Ivory

My Whale Ivory


and whales.

 There is magic in birth, the creation of life; the soft touch of a newborn baby’s skinevelyn2and in a hug from a 20130828_190029great grandchild. 

Where would we be without the magic of family?coyle family

and friendship:

Pat and Bill,Geoff and Denise Pat and Kathi; 1971 IMG_1165 cropMost of all, there is magic in falling in love,n1015159936_332755_8561 in living a life together, sharing and enjoying he magic that is our world.IMG

Don’t let it slip by unrecognized. Take time to see it, feel it and enjoy it for momentary is our life and elusive the magic it brings.

Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt: Smell You Later: Grandma’s Lilacs

Daily Prompt: Smell You Later

by michelle w. on August 9, 2013

Humans have very strong scent memory. Tell us about a smell that transports you.

One of the lesser known aspects of Parkinson’s Disease is the loss of smell. I used to have a strong sense of smell, and I don’t know exactly when I actually began to experience a diminishing of this sense, but I do remember one instance that occurred when I was taking morning walks with a friend.  She mentioned that she put gardenia blossoms in a bowl of water and the fragrance filled the house. I tried this and noticed nothing fragrant at all. When I could no longer smell my roses, I knew something was amiss.

However, the greatest blow this loss has dealt me is that I can no longer smell lilacs.  I grew up in the house next door to my grandmother’s. My sister and I loved spending time with her. She baked the best pies in the world, always had time to listen to us, taught us how to sew and quilt, and let us help her turn the handle of the wringer washing machine, which squeezed the clothes through the rollers to press out the water and push out the clothes paper-thin. But best of all, she had a row of dark and light purple lilac bushes in her backyard. My birthday is in May, and every year she would cut me a giant bouquet of the lilacs. The sweet smell of lilacs is one I will always associate with my childhood – of days spent with my wonderful grandmother, of childhood birthday memories, of the anticipation of spring that the blooming lilac bushes represented..

I would give anything to have one more day with my grandmother, one more day to bury my nose in a giant bouquet of lilacs, and breathe in as deeply as I can. Memories are powerful, and fortunately I have wonderful ones of the lilacs to draw on. And if I try really hard, I can visualize my grandmother, and those special birthday lilacs, bury my face in those imagined bouquets and in my mind smell that sweet fragrance once again.

Staying in Focus: The Island of Flowers


St. Peter Port, Guernsey

When I first looked over the itinerary for our British Isle cruise, I was excited to discover that our first port of call would be the island of Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. The reason for my excitement about this was because I had recently read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society  by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows . (Excellent Read). The novel takes place in 1946 when a young journalist strikes up a friendship,via letter writing, with a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, and soon  begins to receive letters from others on the island, all relating their stories and experiences during the Nazi Occupation during WWII.

I didn’t expect to find the city of flowers on the island, however. I can describe St. Peter Port in no other way because flowers are everywhere you look – in baskets and wheel barrows, on fences and walls, spilling out of window boxes and hanging from every lamppost along the harbor. The local craftspeople were selling their wares, fresh made ice  cream from a local dairy tempted us all and the buildings and homes were picturesque, colorful and charming.

When we first arrived, the island was completely fogged in and we had to wait for clearance, so the tenders ferrying us to shore, could find their way. But soon the sun dismissed the fog and the mists rose, and we could see the island under  a bright blue sky.

island of flowers

we approach an island
shrouded in mists
like Avalon in King Arthur tales
we wait for the sun
to appear  and dismiss
the curtain of fog
and give us  a glimpse
of the island hidden
behind the white veil…

the picturesque city
of St. Peter Port
on the isle of Guernsey
a colorful village
filled with flowers –
flowers that  spill
from  round baskets
and overfill planters;
they hang from fences
and decorate lampposts
we see them in barrels
and along winding roads
filling wheel barrows
and teasing our noses
with delicate scents
the charm of this place
will stay long with me
and I’ll remember so dearly
St. Peter Port city
on the isle of Guernsey
with flowers  so pretty…
    –     pc 2013

An interesting face about Guernsey. It is not part of the British Empire, but rather a possession of the royal monarch herself.I promised you flavor, and St. Peter Port,  Guernsey has more flavor of color than Baskin Robbins has of ice cream. Enjoy a taste!!

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Staying in Focus: A Walk Along the Lake

upon the lake in early morn
the misty vapors rise
until the morning sun appears
to clear the azure skies
then sunlight sparkles on the lake
embraced by trees of greenIMG_0781
we pause to clear our minds
and absorb the peaceful scene
standing on the shoreline
lost in deep reflection
an early morning at the lake
a moment of perfection.
– pc 2013

Now for the promised virtual walk along the lake. When we arrive, the mists have flown and sunlight is in play. We spot a heron in the distance, rising from the deck and soaring into the air. IMG_0784The chatter of birds and the whoosh of the waves as they reach the  shore  are  a symphony of nature sounds. A line of  empty chairs gaze at the water and invite the weary visitor to rest and enjoy the viewIMG_0817. A lovely stone fountain gurgles nearby, and baskets of flowers hanging from lamp posts brings to mind a song by Simon and Garfunkel called ‘Feelin Groovy.’ I may be dating myself here, but I’ve always loved that song, part of which goes:
slow down, you move too fast
you’ve got to make the morning  last
just kicking down the cobblestone
looking for fun and feeling groovy..

Hello, lamppost, whatcha knowin?
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin…


In addition to just sitting back and enjoying the view, one might take a canoe or kayak out more a morning row, and give your four-legged little friend a chance to swim.


The rock garden and bubbling brook, with waterfalls, invite the birds to splash and play. If you put on your walking shoes, there are trails to follow if you have the time to immerse yourself in nature, and let go the stresses of life. Even a short visit, though, will fill you with appreciation of our beautiful world and the natural places just waiting for you to enjoy on a late spring morning at the lake.  I like the pattern the stacked canoes make as they await the weekend and a chance to glide through the waters of the lake, in the morning, under the sun.IMG_0806

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Staying in Focus: A Rain-Washed Garden

Garden quote of the day:  No two gardens are the same.  No two days are the same in one garden.  ~Hugh Johnson

Ready for another virtual morning walk in the garden?  The sun has just come up and it is going to be a  beautiful day. Feel the cool air as you walk outside. An overnight shower has preceded a cold front and the temperature is much cooler than yesterday. In addition to nurturing the garden , the shower has left droplets of water which shine like diamonds sprinkled on the blossoms and leavesIMG_0840. Everything looks fresh, rain-washed and healthy. As the sun rises, it sets the dewdrops on the grass aglow.

IMG_0845aIMG_0841   Sit for a minute and breathe in the scent of wet earth and the perfume of the flowers.

Listen to the birds as they fly from feeder to nest to feed their babies. Life is unfolding all around you. Take a minute to celebrate it and the new morning.  Take some deep breaths and relax for a few moments before beginning your busy day. Carry the peace and beauty of your garden walk with you throughout the day!

What’s up next: Yesterday, my friend, Debbi and I took a morning walk at Lake Wheeler and a stroll through the farmer’s market. Tune in  to future posts to join us!
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