Posted in Inspiration

Summer Is Over

Tonight is the last night of summer. You can see autumn coming today in the color of the lace hydrangea leaves.

Where did summer go?

I have a record of sorts; a list of the everyday routines.

I wake up when Freddy jumps out of bed. This happens between 5:00 and 5:30. Sometimes, but rarely 6:00 or 4:30. I give him a snack and then we wait for a glimmer of sunlight to appear in the eastern sky so we can safely go for a walk. This morning it was cold. Thirty one degrees. It was still dark and I carried a flashlight.

I had intentions to write every day but my will to write has withered and all I am left with are these lists. However, I do find solace in what G.K. Chesterton said: “The greatest poem is an inventory.”

Thus, I have written the greatest poem. An inventory of my everyday routines.

Here from a few days ago:

September 16
Up at 6:00
A walk with Freddy
Coffee with Susan
Bacon and Eggs for Breakfast
Vacuuming house
Food Shopping at Big Y
Susan working on shutters in garage
Susan picking up things in living room
Susan cleaning the bathroom
Ham Salad Sandwich for me, Salmon salad for Susan
Susan cutting my hair
Hummingbird at zinnias
Wine outside with Susan before dinner
Grilled Petite Sirloin and Broccoli Ramen Salad for Dinner
A walk with Freddy
Seeing a Pileated Woodpecker
Early to bed

These lists of my everyday life are, in fact, my gratitude journal, my 1000 gifts. I am grateful. I am very grateful. I have a smart and loving wife in Susan. Two smart and happy children. Two happy grandchildren. A beautiful home. My gifts, from photography to cooking to finding and sharing beauty.

Susan and I have seen our grandchildren once since early March when we celebrated my birthday. The quarantine has kept us all apart (and I have gained The Quarantine Fifteen. If not, 20!). But we did see them to drop off a present for Matthew’s birthday a few weeks ago, keeping somewhat socially distant and no hugging.

Susan and I have always spent a lot of time together and more so now than ever. We miss our volunteer work at a local elementary school  and going out for dinner every so often. But I believe, if it is even possible, we grow even closer every day. God has certainly blessed us.

Now we are working together to paint our kitchen and re-wallpaper two walls.

(to be continued)

 

 

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.

 

 

 

Posted in Inspiration

An Interview with Bruce Barone

A few weeks ago, my friend,  Gretchen Smith Matthews,  an Inspirational Blogger, wrote on her website (Saving her words here on my site for remembrance.)
“Bruce Barone is a professional photographer I ‘met’ through Instagram and who I’ve followed for about 2 years. I truly enjoy seeing the joy-filled photos he posts of his garden, his wife Susan, and their dog Freddy (who actually smiles like my dog Frassie did when I was growing up) – as well as of more scenic vistas, as the one pictured here. Conversing with him made me think that an interview might make sense, and so here we are – the very first of its kind, a simple interview for Like the Dewfall.

“Sometimes a photograph is mesmerizing. The artist has captured the ineffable – that something just beyond the reach of words. When that force is goodness, I can’t stop looking. I want to see more of it through the artist’s eyes.

“And so it was that I discovered photographer Bruce Barone on Instagram. Born and raised in New Jersey, in his childhood Bruce was two great kids rolled into one: a baseball player who wrote poetry. He discovered his passion for creating images, stories, and combinations of these while still in middle school. His creations eventually led to a career as a corporate photographer, writer, and marketing executive at Hearst Magazines (Good Housekeeping, Cosmo, Esquire, House Beautiful, and Town & Country). He later moved to Massachusetts and started his own design and marketing agency, then an art gallery and photo studio in a renovated factory.

“Today, gorgeous shots of his garden, family, and everyday beauty delight me and all of his many, many followers and customers. It is my joy to interview him here on Like the Dewfall.”

You do weddings, portraits, nature, and documentary photography. How have you noticed your approach change in the years you’ve been working, and what experiences have contributed to maturity in your portfolio?

That’s a great question and required of me some deep thinking. I think my approach has been fairly consistent over the years, maybe because my love of people and nature has been consistent. The French philosopher and Jesuit Catholic Priest, (Pierre) Tielhard de Chardin wrote: “Seeing: We might say that the whole of life lies in that verb – if not ultimately, at least essentially.”  I think we can find, see, and experience an epiphany in the richness of the ordinary day. To see. To be astonished. To embrace truth.

Often, I ask myself, “What am I called to do?” and “How can I make the world a better place?” To paraphrase Rumi, the 13th century Persian, poet, Islamic scholar and Sufi mystic; I remind myself: you need to be permanently astonished–this is the real work of religion. Maybe of art. The second thing you need is love; draw upon love for energy. And the third thing is sacrifice–give the drop that is ourselves; we are given an ocean. To be astonished, to become more like a child. Gifts are all around us. Be nourished by being amazed–it is a great thing to be alive.

Simone Weil, the French philosopher and political activist, said: “Absolute attention is prayer.” Seeing. Astonishment. Prayer.

Mary Oliver, one of my favorite poets, writes:

Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

We design the world by the way we choose to see it! Yes; I choose to see beauty and to share that wonder, that astonishment with all.

How would you describe your general philosophy when it comes to your work?

I believe my photography reflects my passion for life, a love of life, nature, beauty; a calling to share this vision, This, I believe, is my ministry. I believe I have been given a gift from God. A gift for seeing beauty–-creating artful, remarkable, memorable photographs. Drawing on a degree in Art and English, inspired by Nature, a passion for telling stories and years working as a writer and photojournalist helps me to follow my heart–bringing a heightened sensitivity to all my photography. I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography.

What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened while you’re working?

True story. I was photographing a wedding one sultry summer day. As was my custom, I was wearing a dress suit and carrying two cameras. When the ceremony ended I made a dash for the outside so I could photograph the bride and groom leaving the church and walking down the 20+ steps to their limo.  My assistant stayed inside to photograph them walking down the aisle. Perhaps, my pants were too long. I’m not sure, but no sooner had I started to walk down the steps when I lost my balance and tumbled down a few steps. I was OK; just a bit shaken up. And my cameras were okay. Only a few people saw the tumble!

What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken to get a shot? Did it pay off?

I am not sure if this a risk, but I can be fairly outgoing and once on a lunch break when I worked at Hearst Magazines in New York City I stopped at a friend’s bar for a beer (It was very hot that day!) and a bite to eat and sitting at the bar were the members of the band The Clash. I was giddy with excitement. I loved them and had just seen them in concert. I sat down at the bar next to Joe Strummer, the leader of the band. After some small talk, I asked him if I could photograph him outside. He agreed. I must say he was a very nice man. He passed away in 2002 at age 50. He’s drinking the beer in the photo. Bandmate Mick Jones behind him. Actress, singer Ellen Foley on the left. I don’t know name of woman on the right.

In all of your life, professionally or otherwise, what are you most proud of?

First, my children and my wife. And second, my gift for bringing beauty into people’s lives.

A stranger once wrote to me the following:

“Thank you for making my life more beautiful with each of your photographs. Thank you for your art.”

Another wrote:

“You have shown me to see the world with a completely different set of eyes. Every single day you bring beauty, joy, depth and a new perspective into my life. I cannot thank you enough for being the beautiful, kind, loving, gentle, and soulful man you are.”

What personal qualities do you think you still need to develop and why?

Focus and persistence because these are tools to help me bring greater and brighter light into the world. I often find myself procrastinating!

What are you most grateful for right now and how do you express that gratitude?

My children, grandchildren, my wife, my dog. My gifts. I express this gratitude with love.

I understand that you are Christian. Was this always your faith? If not, when you did choose to follow Christ?

Some family history…My great-grandfather was one of the first Baptist ministers in America. My mom was a Sunday school teacher at our Congregational Church. One of my sisters was the Director of Christian Education at a Congregational Church. I taught Sunday school. (Funny story. One year I had my son and a girl named Julia in my class. They must have been in third or fourth grade. Years passed and they met again working at summer camp. They now live together in Denver.)

I was a Deacon. I often spoke in church. Once, after giving a talk about stewardship, people said you should be a minister!!!

So, yes. Faith has always been part of my life.

Why is your faith important to you and what benefits do you receive from pursuing this path?

It gives me guidance. Hope.

You recently gave a classic black and white photograph of Ducky’s Hot Dogs on the Asbury Park Boardwalk in New Jersey to Ducky Fornicola’s family after he passed and cited Luke 6:38 and Hebrews 13:16 in your blog post about it. The gift meant a great deal to the grieving family. How does Christianity affect the way you run your business and interact with people?

It truly is all about love.

What does the word ‘grace’ mean to you? 

Grace for me is God’s gift. It is always there. I think of it as the path in the park, the river nearby, the stars in the sky; it is always available to me, the good that is always present.

How do you see evidence of grace in your life?

Grace flows like a river to me and through me, filling me with hope and renewing my faith, guiding me, an ultimate gift of perfect love.

Thank you, Bruce, for your the time and love you’ve shared with us here.

Posted in Recipes

Chicken Thighs with Fennel, Plums and Red Onion

Susan found this recipe for me.

Based on the following recipe from Melissa Clark of The New York Times. According to the newspaper:

“Beautiful to behold and easy to make, this sheet-pan dinner combines sweet plums and soft red onions with crisp-skinned pieces of roasted chicken. Toasted fennel seeds, red-pepper flakes and a touch of allspice add complexity while a mound of fresh torn herbs crowns the top. If good ripe plums aren’t available, you can substitute another stone fruit including peaches, nectarines or pluots, though if your fruit is very sweet, you might want to add a squeeze of lemon at the end. Serve this with rice pilaf, polenta or warm flatbread for a festive meal.”

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Large pinch red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1 chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), cut into parts (I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs.)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 cups ripe, soft plums, pitted and cut into 3/4-inch thick slices
  • 6 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced from root to stem in 1/2-inch wedges
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • cup torn mint, basil or cilantro leaves (or a combination)
  • Flaky sea salt, for serving

Preparation

  1. Toast the fennel seeds in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Pour seeds into a mortar and pound with a pestle until coarsely crushed (or lay seeds on a cutting board and pound them with a can or jar).
  2. Put the seeds into a large bowl and stir in lemon juice, zest, garlic, honey, allspice and red-pepper flakes.
  3. Season chicken generously all over with salt and pepper and add to the bowl, turning the pieces to coat them with marinade. Mix in plums and thyme sprigs. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
  4. When ready to cook, heat the oven to 425 degrees. Put the chicken pieces, plums, and thyme sprigs on a rimmed baking pan. Add onions, spreading them out around the chicken and plums. Season plums and onions lightly with salt. Drizzle everything with olive oil.
  5. Roast until chicken is golden and cooked through, 30 to 45 minutes, removing the white meat if it’s done before the dark meat.
  6. Transfer chicken pieces as they are done to a platter. Spoon the plums and onions around the chicken. Drizzle a little of the pan drippings over the chicken and serve, garnished with the herbs and flaky salt.

I served this with Israeli Couscous with parsley and mint.

I believe I am making the world a better place with beautiful photography. If you are looking for beautiful portrait, nature, or documentary photography, or someone you know is looking for photography that helps to create a more artful and beautiful life, please contact me.