Photography

Saying in Focus: It’s Never to Late to Learn

 

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Once more I must apologize for falling behind in posting to my blog. I had envisioned my retirement as a nice, leisurely time of life, maybe even having too much time on my hands, but that hasn’t been the case.

I have been able to slow down the progression of my pd  (parkinson’s disease) by keeping abreast of the latest developments and guidance from doctors and physical therapists and implementing them in my daily life.  Exercise of all kinds seems to be one of the most helpful tools, but it does take up time. Recently,  I happened on a website called http://www.invigoratept.com founded by Sarah King, a physical therapist. There is a wealth of information about exercise and nutrition on this site and I have joined Sarah in her challenge to exercise daily, for at least 2.5 hour a week. Today we begin week 3 of the 4 week challenge. She is also doing a series of live videos through her Invigorate Physical Therapy and Wellness Facebook page about nutrition and how what we eat affects pd. I’ve found her links to You Tube video sites of exercises developed specifically for pwp (people with parkinson’s) most helpful.

But physical exercise is only part of the picture. The brain must be exercised as well. My husband, Bill, and son, Steve, and I are into crossword puzzles and word games on our electronic devices, which help me slow down the ‘loss of words’ associated with pd.

I had never mastered Algebra in high school, so I purchased a book entitled “No Fear Algebra”and can actually say it is beginning to make some sense to me. Working out simple equations is like solving a puzzle.

I have always wanted to be able to draw, but was always too intimidated to take a class with other people. But I recently received one of the Great Courses videos – a gift from my husband – on “How to Draw”. This is perfect for me because I can pause the video as often as needed and I don’t have to rush or try to keep up with others. So far I have learned much about line and shape, aggregate shape, volume, figure-ground and positive – negative shape. There are thirty-six lectures with accompanying  lessons so it may be years before I finish.

Finally, throw in my interest in photography, poetry (see previous post for my latest) and reading, and that’s where the time goes. In a sense, having pd has determined the way my retirement will unfold, but if one has to combat a disease, why not learn a little something during the process? After all, it’s never too late to learn.

Photo 101: Day 13: Moment and Motion

Among the things that last a mere moment, and are most often in motion, are bubbles. My grandchildren love to blow bubbles and watch them float away on the breeze. We found a bubblemaking toy at the store, which produces clouds of bubbles. Take one bubble machine,  a bit of a breeze, and a camera and here’s what you get:IMG_0315

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These look like slinkys.

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These bubbles look like they contain  small  flowers

 

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A sudden gust of wind and watch them fly…

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Staying in Focus: A First Glimpse of Copenhagen

Well, we have returned from broadening our horizons, this year, in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Germany. We had a wonderful time, and learned a lot about the history and culture of the people living there, sampled their cultural cuisines and visited the capitals of each country, as well as taking excursions out into the countryside.

This trip further convinced me of my findings on previous visits to  England, France, Ireland and Scotland and that is that although they may celebrate different holidays, have different customs and political systems, different architectural styles in their buildings, homes and apartment and different languages, people are just people wherever you go. They are busy with their careers and families, they look forward to the weekends, with plans to shop, go to a park, launch their sailboat or go to an amusement park like the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark. This is where our adventure began, on the good cruise ship, the ms Eurodam. IMG_5994

But before we can board the cruise ship, we have to fly the not so friendly skies, in an airplane. We are, of course flying coach. I love how they make you walk past the first class seats where the flight attendants are tucking the people in and singing lullabies to them. Next, we trundle past business class, where they at least acknowledge that people have legs and finally into coach, or economy class, where we are packed together like a roll of peppermints.

My first question is, how many more seats can you pack into an airplane and still leave your customers the ability to walk off the plane at the end of the voyage? And my second question is, why have seats that recline if doing so puts the person sitting behind you squashed for 8 hours between your reclined seatback and his upright one?

This happens to my husband a few minutes into the flight. Sleeping Beauty, and I use that term lightly, must have downed a handful of valium or something prior to boarding the plane.  Just as my husband is handed his dinner tray, she flips her seatback into total recline, pushing his dinner into his lap, and there she remains for the remainder of the flight, sound asleep. My husband is about 6 feet tall, and I see the panic in his eyes at the thought of being squished in like that for 7 hours. So we manage to trade places, so he can at least feel a measure of freedom by sitting on the aisle.

The time slowly passes and we finally hobble out of plane. We arrive in the baggage claim section just as I hear my name called out.  It is the Holland America representative, and after some totally confused and contradicting instructions, we find ourselves on a bus, with our baggage stowed beneath us, the recipients of a free tour of Copenhagen (thank you, Holland America), to keep us busy until it was time to board ship. So here is our first glimpse of Copenhagen. IMG_4887IMG_4842IMG_4870

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Staying in Focus:Re-springing Your Step/Mountain Weekend

Daily Prompt: Tell us about the last experience you had that left you feeling fresh, energized, and rejuvenated. What was it that had such a positive effect on you?

 

The last experience I had that left me feeling relaxed and rejuvenated occurred last summer, when my husband and I and our friends, Kathi and Don, spent a weekend at the Cabins of Willow Winds in Asheville, NC.IMG_3539

Although last summer was not exceedingly hot or humid at home, the weather the weekend we were in Asheville was absolutely wonderful. We were worried because the forecast was for rain, but all we had was a brief shower one afternoon. It was in the evening that we really noticed the difference. The cabin had floor to ceiling windows, which we cranked open, and the most delightful breeze of cool mountain air flowed in, carrying with it the sounds of nocturnal creatures, insects and frogs and the like. Those sounds brought back memories of the summers of my childhood spent in a cabin near a lake. There, I would be lulled to sleep by the nighttime chorus of frogs and katydids.

We took a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway, climbed up to the visitor center atop Mount MitchelIMG_3526l and ate lunch at the restaurant there, the wall of windows providing a spectacular view.IMG_3527IMG_3478 IMG_3481 IMG_3388 - Copy - Copy IMG_3392 IMG_3426 IMG_3435 IMG_3437 - Copy IMG_3448 IMG_3456 IMG_3471

We went on a ghost tour, and walked through the botanical gardens. IMG_3542Kathi and Don tried their hand at fishing in a pond on the premises of the cabin and we made our dinners in the cabin. Last year was an especially tense one with family illnesses and other stresses, but those three days in Asheville stand out as a small oasis of relaxation and rejuvenation.IMG_3600 There’s something about mountains that have always had that effect on IMG_3586me.

Blue Ridge

the mountains gather round me

endless folds of smoky blue

and the sun ignites the crystal drops

of early morning dew

wisps of misty water vapor

wreathe a distant mountain peak

and I feel a deep connection

with the spirit that I seek

in the mountains, in the places

of the wild and the free

are the answers to the problems

that quite often trouble me

so I come for grace and comfort

and I come for sweet release

my spirit seeks the mountains

here I find my inner peace

-pc 97

Mountains

When the pressures of life build to a peak

Some people find solace in shorelines and sea

But it’s often the higher ground that I seek

For it’s always been mountains for me

When I stand on a ridge at the top of the world

From worry and care I am free

I sing in the sun with my spirit unfurled

It will always be mountains for me!

-pc’03

 

Staying In Focus: Weekly Writing Challenge: Build Your Own: Envision

 

Daily Post:Weekly Writing Challenge: Build You Own:  Choose  a place:  scenic countryside

Choose a first line:  In my dreams I envision a place.

 

During my cruise around the British Isles last year we took bus rides out into the countryside of Ireland, Scotland and England. These photos and your prompts come together in the following poem:

 

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Envision

In my dreams I envision a place

A village nestled in the countryside

Far removed from the rush about pace

Of everyday life.

I sit in my garden, sipping my tea

And the villagers nod as they pass

Some stop by to chat with me

On happenings, this and that

The summer days are slow and warm

The sheep graze on the hill

And if this was the place where I was born

I know I’d be there still.

– pc 2014

A recent daily prompt was to imagine building a  magic tunnel. Where would it lead to? I didn’t finish it because  the appliances in my house, specifically the air conditioner and the freezer both bit the dust on the same day and thre us for a loop. The topic, however, meshed nicely with the  writing challenge.

Of Hedgerows and Tea

Another outcome of my cruise around the British Isles last summer is that  I know exactly where my tunnel will lead. It will lead directly to a small English village located in the pastoral countryside, but not too far from London. This quiet little village will be my refuge from the complications and stresses of everyday life. It will be where I go to rest, to write, to find my muse and refuel my imagination. Once this is achieved, having London nearby will provide for cultural and leisure activities. It’s not far from South Hampton where the magic cruise ships await to whisk us off to see the world.

I plan to have many good years there, but the inevitable will eventually happen and my cottage in the village will become my final.refuge. As I grow older my capabilities will decrease as the PD robs me of movement and other things too scary to contemplate at this point in my life.  So I will spend my remaining days in the garden, sipping tea and finding joy in just being.

However, as we have allowed for the possibility of a magic tunnel, the door  to  a cure for PD is open, we have all the money we need to live comfortably in our cottage , to take cruises whenever we are bitten by the travel bug, and we will live well past 100 healthy years. Now that is my kind of magic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staying in Focus: My Eye Upon the World

I didn’t get this polished and finished for writing 101, but wanted to share it anyway. The topic was to write about my most valued possession.

If I had to choose my most valued possession, I’d have to say it is my camera. Not that my camera is an expensive, professional piece of equipment, by any means.  It is a digital camera, a Canon Rebel XSi and I have several lenses for it including  a large telephoto lens. It takes excellent pictures. I consider this camera. or any camera that I’ve had over the years, my most valued possession because it is my eye on the world. It is through the lens of this camera that I define my world, from the big picture the smallest details. It captures those fleeting moments my eyes fail to see and it preserves memories in the pictures I take, giving me a visual record of my life, from childhood to senior citizen.(Now that is  a lot of pictures! ) My camera is the first thing I grab when it starts to snow, or a butterfly alights on a nearby bush. IMG_8548a Photo05_3I keep it close at hand to catch the light from the setting sun as it paints the color of the houses across the street a rosy glow.

a path of gold from the sun to me

a path of gold from the sun to me

It was my camera that witnessed with me my first sunrise at sea in the waters off the coast of Alaska.  It caught the plume from a humpback whale, and the play of light over the ocean off the coast of Scotland. From majestic mountains to a close up of a flower petalIMG_0015 - Copy, from cloud formations to bubbles in the sky, my camera and I make art where we find it, preserve memories as they happen, inspire my poetry and essays to Photo01_1 Photo01_2 - Copy Photo02_1 - Copy - Copyshare with my readers. I first became interested in photography when I received a Kodak Brownie camera for Christmas when I was seven or eight years old. My family began taking road trips when I was twelve, and each summer we travelled the USA, Canada and Mexico. My little camera got a lot of use. In my teens I had a rangefinder camera, but it wasn’t until I was married that I received my first SLR from my husband for Christmas. I still believe that camera, a Canon Rebel G,took the best pictures of all. I was leery of all this digital stuff taking over the world, but now I wouldn’t go back for anything. Digital cameras are amazing. Within minutes of returning home from vacation, I have my photos downloaded into my laptop, uploaded to Facebook, WordPress and Snapfish. I can run off albums using Photoshop Elements 10, make calendars and books on Snapfish, and have 8 x 10 s framed and displayed before bedtime. I haven’t really explored photography using smart phone or my Kindle Fire HD-X tablet but I imagine technology will nudge me in that direction sooner or later. Someday when I may have forgotten much of my life experience, someone might slip a book of my photos on my lap and the pictures in it may spark a memory here and there. My camera, my eye upon the world, is valuable to me because it  has helped me leave a legacy, a story in photographs of one who lived and what she loved. Here are a few more reasons my camera is my most valuable possession. IMG_0003 IMG_0004 IMGa IMG_0003aIMG_256a5IMG_2893IMG_3067stonehenge

 

SURPRISE!

SURPRISE!

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rambles

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:

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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.

 

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A family of geese out for an afternoon swim

 

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Swan in black  and white

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

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We are back from vacation and I took a few more reflection photos of Echo Lake in Pennsylvania. I have three seasons of photos now – we have not been there in winter yet. Every time I think I have photographed this lake from every angle, it presents me with something new to focus on.

Spring:

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Summer:

 

 

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Fall:

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Reflections on Photography

 

Some people reflect for relaxation

and some of them seek revelation

I find both in  the many reflections

I see through my camera’s view;

sharp and focused, crystal clear

my camera captures visions;

through the lens I take  a peek

and find the answers that I seek;

photography is my door to

achieving revelation through

the relaxation that it brings to me.