Staying in Focus: Daily Prompt Burning Down the House: How Much Do We Really Need?

Daily Prompt:Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?

Remember this prompt, when your home was on fire and you got to save five items? That means you left a lot of stuff behind. What are the things you wish you could have taken, but had to leave behind?

I am a little behind in keeping up with the daily prompts because I have been cleaning out my closets, an activity prompted by one of this week’s prompts (so to speak).

The prompt I am responding to is the one which posed the question: If your house was burning down, what five things would you grab (assuming all humans and pets were safe)?

I pondered on this for a bit and decided, also assuming, of course, that I am already wearing clothes, on the following:

  1. If they aren’t already on my face, I must grab my glasses so I can find my 4 remaining things.
  2. My laptop. It holds all my writing –  books, poems, blogs, ideas and outlines for future books and blogs, important phone numbers, my journal, my pictures and my music. Can’t leave without it.
  3. My camera bag. I take my cameras with me everywhere I go. It is through the lens of my cameras that I build my world view.
  4. My purse – money, credit cards, medication, health insurance, ID, cell phone, house key. (Oops! Guess I won’t need that anymore.)
  5. This is tough, but I’ll have to choose one hat from my collection. Guess it will have to be the hat I purchased in Ireland. A memento of my first visit to Europe and the most expensive hat I have because I wasn’t good at converting the euros to dollars yet.

The follow-up prompt to this was leaving so much behind, what else would you go back for?

When I really thought about it, I would like to have my gold charm bracelet, which my parents bought me when I  graduated  from high school and is now covered with charms which represent the most important events in my life and some of the jewelry my husband has given me over the years.

Secondly, I‘d like to save my scrapbooks. I put a lot of work into them.

Finally, I would have liked to save my plants. The people and animals were safe, but my plants too numerous to move out whilst the flame were spreading – but, after all, they are living things.

Beyond that, I realized I could get along pretty well with what I had here, with some extra clothes and toiletries. It would hurt to lose my books, but my eBooks are stored in the cloud and I could easily retrieve them.

So, I asked myself, why do I have all this stuff lying around if I really didn’t need it? And so I decided to clean house. Now, I’m not ready yet to pare down to these few objects unless my husband finally agrees to sell everything we have and go live on a cruise ship, but it is interesting isn’t it, what little we do really need in the great scheme of things?


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:

Photo01_1 Photo01_2 - Copy IMG_2905 IMG_0977 IMG_0705 - Copy (2) How sad it would be to lose these forever IMG_0013 - Copy dandelion

Staying in Focus : Spring and its Color Display

I love spring, planting flowers in beds and in pots, their beautiful colors combining to sing a song of life renewing itself with a flair we try to capture the lens of the camera. Here are my feeble attempts to convey their beauty from flowers received for Easter and those in pots and beds in my yard:

IMG_2927 IMG_2926 IMG_2924  p

flowers from my thoughtful nephew, Gary and his gal. Robin.

   flowers from my thoughtful nephew, Gary and his gal. Robin.

IMG_2895 IMG_2893 IMG_2905 IMG_2903 IMG_2898

pink geranium from my sister, Mary and brother-in-law, John



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.







IMG_0002 Photo06_3 IMG_5123




IMG_0003blue sky  Photo06_2



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.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Object:Staying in Focus

Weekly Photo Challenge: Object This week we had a rare event in North Carolina – it snowed. Anxious to see if there was anything interesting to take a picture of, I was up and about just as the sun rose. My gazing globe caught my eye and I thought that maybe it was reflecting the snow. Imagine my delight when it caught the sun just as the clouds parted and the sun appeared amidst bands of pink, orange, and blue. I’ve learned over the years to always have my camera ready because the next great picture  is just over the horizon, or reflected in a gazing globe on a snowy morning in midwinter. IMG_2565

Pictures in Poems, Poems in Pictures

There are pictures in poems and poems in pictures
— Chinese Proverb

My interest in photography began when I received my first camera, a Kodak Brownie, when I was still in elementary school.  My interest in poetry began first with reading poems, then later writing my own.   As a child I enjoyed the poems of Robert Louis Stephenson,

One of my first photos. Christmas 1964. I had a little trouble fitting everyone in the frame!

especially My Shadow, and  those of A.A. Milne : Forgiven, Spring Morning and The End.  I  Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, and the poems of Emily Dickinson and Sara Teasdale remain favorites today.  And Trees by Joyce Kilmer was the first poem I ever memorized.

I suppose I am a woman out of time as I prefer rhymed verse to free verse, which is more popular now.  I have written some free verse, but most often my muse comes to me in rhyme and as to where the muse comes from remains a mystery to me, I question it not, and write as I am instructed!  I think what draws me to both poetry and photography is the opportunity to paint a picture of my world, be it with words or with the lens of my camera..  And they work so well together!  Sometimes I take a picture that inspires a poem, other times I’ve written a poem and looking through my viewfinder, see the poem reflected in the image in the frame.  In this case, the picture preceded the poem:

Harbor Sunset

liquid drops of sunlight
sparkle in the bay
and reflect a sky awash in sunset hue
the trees along the shoreline
form a silhouette in gray
and the clouds amass in shades of dusky blue
suspended for the moment
between darkness and the day
I pause to fill my senses and renew
and with deep appreciation
I continue on my way
as the sunset in the harbor fades from view.

Poetry and photography are my “go – to” coping tools.  I can lose myself  for hours  composing a poem  or in trying to get the best exposure for a picture. and worries and concerns just drift away. Best of all,  both of them can be done outside, sitting in a pretty park or while hiking in the mountains..  Back at home I use the pictures and poems in greeting cards, scrapbooks and journals.  I’ve made beautiful books on

On a more personal level, I explore my feelings and improve my state of mind by writing poems reflecting my journey with Parkinson’s Disease.  Somehow, writing both prose and poetry help to transfer the fears and concerns from me to the paper.  I gladly let it absorb  the worries, and help me to stay in focus on more important things. ( More about this in my next post.)

So grab a notebook, pen and a camera and have some fun!

If you’ve haven’t explored writing poetry yet, here are a few helpful guides:

The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser
How to Write Poetry  published by Spark Publishing (
Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan
The Describer’s Dictionary by David Grambs

For photography I recommend taking a class at a local community college.  It’s the best way to learn how to use your camera, especially if you are venturing into using a digital SLR. for the first time. All the buttons and knobs and settings on these cameras can be overwhelming.

Something Wonderful

I came across this quote a while back and it immediately became part of my staying in focus toolbox.  I am an avid scrapbook maker and craft person, and I have used this quote to make gifts for friends and family.  I’ve used it in cards and on bookmarks.  I have put it in magnetic frames for refrigerators and put it in stand up frames for placement on a desk or nightstand..  I have it in my “sacred space” where I meditate.

What better way to start the day than reading these simple words.  For something wonderful happens everyday, if we focus on the positives.  My father-in-law, now in his 80s  once told me that he wakes up in the morning and thinks “Well, I’m still here!”  Now that  is something wonderful!  Still here to listen to the morning song of the birds.  Still here to spend time with family and friends.  Still here to tend your garden, listen to music, read a book, or learn something new.

Today, on your way to work or school or to run errands, clear your mind and really focus on this marvelous world .  The breath of the wind as it brushes your face,  the sparkle of sunlight on the water,, the pattern of the clouds in sky overhead.

You don’t even need a camera to focus in and take mental snapshots of wonderful things, but if you are a photo bug, take your camera on a “something wonderful” walk.  See how much wonder you can capture in a stroll around the block.  Post your pictures for others to enjoy. Encourage others to do the same.  Spread the word —  something wonderful is about to happen!


The other day I was working with my camera , completing an assignment for an online course I am taking in Travel Photography  This is in preparation for a cruise to Alaska we plan to take this summer.   The assignment required use of a macro lens – a lens for close in focus. The lens I was using also had wide-angle capacity .In other words it could both focus in closely, and clearly see the bigger picture as well..  This got me to thinking about how we can , like the lens, focus in on the smaller aspects of everyday life and still have an effect on the larger canvas of our lives.

For instance, living life one day at a time, taking one step after the other, can in the long run have great impact on our lives.  We can put aside worry about the future, and truly enjoy this moment, now.  We can focus on the important things — spending time with family, playing with the grandchildren, truly enjoying a good dinner, sweet treat, an evening sunset.   A playful approach to life, can reduce stress, ease depression and just make life worth living.

Taking medication properly, eating wisely, exercising regularly all add up, day by day, to positive changes that  can alter the landscape of our lives. Of course, as the saying goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, so try to avoid getting mired in minutia to the point of losing forward momentum.  That’s the time to turn the focus back a little and move on.

There is so much to enjoy  in life, whether it be through the close in focus, or the wide open viewpoint.  A quiet morning snuggling in bed with your little one,is every bit as precious as winning the Pulitzer Prize.  Photographing a butterfly resting on a flower is no less wondrous than exploring the glaciers of Alaska.  It’s both the little and the large that combine to create the tapestry of our lives.

.                         Tapestry

  • we seek to know what it means
  • \we fill our lives with hopes and dreams
  • we mark times passing, day by day
  • and tell our stories along the way
  • we weave the tale, the warp and woof
  • and in the weaving reveal the truth
  • of who were are and what it means
  • it’s to fulfill the hopes and dreams
  •                                pc 1997