The Cardinal Who Came To Say Namaste

“I bow to the divine in you”.

Seeing a cardinal in a dream or vision is usually a good omen. They are often connected with the number 12 because they are around 12-months out of the year and they often lay 12 eggs. They also carry symbolism for Christians because they are red as the blood of Christ and they also represent his birth.

The word cardinal comes from the Latin word cardo, meaning hinge or axis. Like a door’s hinge, the cardinal is the hinge on the doorway between Earth and Spirit. They carry messages back and forth.

A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you. Look for them, they’ll appear.

Thus, when my friend Anita Siecker wrote about cardinals on her Instagram feed I was greatly moved by her beautiful, poetic and inspiring words as I have photographed cardinals hundreds of times.

She writes: “My mom LOVED cardinals! She loved watching hummingbirds and all birds, but cardinals were extra special to her……..The cardinals, male and female, have come to mean a whole lot to my heart, and all of my family’s hearts, since we lost Mom and Daddy. When you make deposits into Heaven you long for it all the more! Seeing cardinals outside in every season, feeding then and watching them crowd around our bird feeders, and having them sit in our trees and on our fenceposts makes us smile. We remember my parents in happy, loving ways…….It is said “When a cardinal appears in your yard, it’s a visitor from Heaven.” Well, I don’t know if that’s true, but I do like to think that our loving Heavenly Father, who is able to do anything He wants to do, does want to comfort us.”

When Anita saw the photo above online she asked if she could order a print from me. I printed one for her and surprised her with another cardinal photo. It’s all about love. As my friend Ann Voskamp says “Be the gift.”

I was especially moved by what Anita wrote on her Instagram feed, along with my photos, now framed, and hanging in her home: “I enjoy Bruce’s photography everyday…….He lives in gorgeous Massachusetts. He loves to photograph nature and food, and does beautiful portraits! He’s also a gourmet chef and published writer…….just a few things I admire about him! Mostly I admire and appreciate his heart full of gratitude.”

Now that last sentence really got to me! I almost cried!

As I look out the window in the home office  Susan and I share and I see a cardinal in a tree, at the birdfeeder or in the birdbath, I do imagine, I believe, it is a loved one, coming to say “Namaste.”

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.

 

After the Snow Storm

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” – Mary Oliver

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.

Snow on Weeping White Cherry Tree

Monday morning. March 4, 2019.

If you are looking for beautiful portrait, wedding, 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.

We Are All Artists

It is school vacation week here in Western Massachusetts and Susan and I were volunteers in a special children’s art project on Monday and Tuesday at the Boys and Girls Club. Here are a few of the artists above.

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If you are looking for beautiful portrait, wedding, 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.

 

Photography As Prayer

Simone Weil said: “Absolute attention is prayer.”

I agree.

To be continued.

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If you are looking for beautiful portrait, wedding, 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.

Honoring Mary Oliver

People who know me well, know I love the poetry of Mary Oliver. I am not sure when I first discovered her, but I am going to guess it was in December 1999 when The New Yorker published her poem “Winter At Herring Cove.” I clipped it out of the magazine and it finds a home in whatever Oliver book I am reading at the time. I usually read a poem by her everyday! I bought many of her books. Susan bought me one, “Dog Stories.” And her mom bought me one, “Blue Horses.” My writing has been influence by her—and others, Gary Snyder, for example, and the Bible. In remembrance of her:

Here are a few inspiring quotes from Mary Oliver, along with some photos of mine.

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

There are so many stories, more beautiful than answers.

Well, who doesn’t want the sun after the long winter?

And again this morning as always I am stopped as the world comes back wet and beautiful.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life  I was a bride married to amazement.  I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.

I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us.

Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.

The dream of my life is to lie down by a slow river and stare at the light in the trees – to learn something by being nothing.

Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?

And this poem, “Wild Geese.”

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

And, “I Ask Percy How I Should Live Me Life:”

Love, love, love, says Percy.
And hurry as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust.

Then, go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart.
Then, trust.

 

 

 

Roasted Eggplant, Lentil, Orzo Stew

A few days ago, I arrived home from the grocery store with 5 or 6 bags of groceries, mostly vegetables for our “Soup Every Day Project.” I shop twice every week and I know most of the cashiers by name and they know my name. Some even know our dog’s name, Freddy, as I have given them his business card. Yes. He has a business card because he is a very good boy and cute as a button.

Anyway, Susan saw that I had bought an eggplant and she said “Bruce, what do you plan on cooking with the eggplant?” I answered, “I thought I might make eggplant parm or moussaka.” And she said, “I just found this interesting recipe for eggplant. What not take a look at it.” And I did and I said, “Susan, that sounds delicious.” And it was delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds eggplant (2 small or 1 large, skin on, or peeled, if desired), chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup dried lentils (green, black or brown)
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water
  • ½ cup orzo or other small pasta, such as ditalini, stelline or macaroni
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon, plus 4 lemon wedges for garnish
  • ¼ cup shaved ricotta salata or crumbled feta

Preparation

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1/4 cup olive oil and crushed coriander seeds until coated; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast until eggplant is tender and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, giving the baking sheet a shake halfway through roasting to toss the eggplant pieces for even cooking.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium. Add the carrot, onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste begins to darken on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lentils until coated. Pour in stock or water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the type and age of lentils you use.
  5. Stir in the orzo and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with the roasted eggplant pieces and large shavings of ricotta salata, and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.

All Cats Go To Heaven

It is early Wednesday morning
January 3, 2019
Dark and cold
I am walking my dog
Freddy, a mini-labradoodle
I am thinking of my cat
I had a cat
We had a cat
Nadine
A Calico Cat
It has been four months
Since she went to our Father in Heaven
We missed her at Christmas
I thought we had lost her
This past summer when she escaped
From the house and wandered
Nearby our property
A neighbor found her the next day
I picked her up and was struck
By how much weight she had lost
How her body was just skin and bones
She loved the outdoors, roaming around
In the backyard, sometimes near Freddy
But more often than not
Alone in the garden or a flower-bed
She came to me twelve years ago
I lived in a loft then and she delighted
In climbing the beams below the ceiling
And when Nadine and I moved
In with Susan she seemed happy here
Exploring new territory, new chairs
And tables, and beds, and late in life
Darker places–underneath the ottoman
In the sitting room or the end table
Still she sat
Near me, her paws
Placed softly on my legs
Quietly purring
Still I see her out of the corner of eye
Still I hear her early in the morning
At the bedroom door, more moaning than purring
And she would come running
Whe she heard me opening a can of tuna
Freddy doesn’t seem to miss her but
Who knows; he often crawls under the ottoman
And scratches at the rug still covered just a little
With her hair. Nadine was so often a muse
There are thousands of photographs
Of her, and I think of her, yes, I see her
Throughout the day wondering
If she will some how just show up
One day. I give thanks
She lived so long with me
With Susan, with Freddy.
All cats go to Heaven.
Right?

A few photos:

 

Inventory

Inventory

This is the day
The first Day
Of the new year.
There is a wind advisory
Today. I am sitting
At my desk. A framed photo
Of my beloved. Inspiration.
A row of books. New Spirit-
Filled Life Bible. I am
Again studying the Bible:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ,
the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17
“Learn to do good. Seek justice.
Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans.
Fight for the rights of widows.”
Isaiah 1:17
Wise words
Written in this book:
Called to Create by Jordan Raynor.
“God was the first entrepreneur.
He brought something our of nothing.
He established order out of chaos.
He created for the good of others.
We are made in the image of the First Entrepreneur; thus
When we follow his call to create…….we are not just doing
Something good for the world, we are
Doing something God-like. To do
The creative work you do……you
Continue that work as a service
To the world around you.”
And in One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp:
“And when I give thanks
For the seemingly microscopic,
I make a place for God to grow within me.”
A dare to live fully
Right where you are.”
There is the book of poems
Susan’s mom bought, a Christmas Gift
For me. Blue Horses by Mary Oliver.
Poetry books by Anne Waldman,
Gary Snyder, James Dickey
And Elizabeth Bishop.
There are file folders
Filled with recipes from
Butternut Squash Soup
To Meatloaf Puttanesca.
Spiritual Pamphlets, crosses
And a Hula dancing woman,
A gift from a participant
In the Miss Teen America Pageant,
Which I photographed
A number of years ago.
Cameras and cups
Filled with pens, pencils
And paint brushes. On one mug
A painted sunrise, and this:
“This is the day the Lord has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24

 

 

Dried-Fruit Fruitcake

I am not joking. Oh, I know, people always joke about The Fruitcake. I have made this every Christmas for the past three years and it is absolutely delicious! Trust me. You’ll love its sweet taste!