Belonging

On Wednesday
I went
To the park
Down the street
From where we live
Mittineague Park
I went to photograph
The field
But there was a woman
Walking slowly
Across the field
And I waited
And I waited
I said my Mantra
And I waited
For her to move
Off the field
The leaves are gone
It is November
I am
Waiting no longer
Click Click Click
She is in the photograph
And when I arrive
Home I see
She belongs
There
Here
In this field
In this photograph

 

 

Ten Days in Hamilton, Ontario

Susan, Freddy and I recently returned from a wonderful vacation in Hamilton, Ontario where we house-sat for a friend, Helena, at her lovely brick home around the corner from Locke Street. Helena and her husband needed house-sitters as they were vacationing in Iceland.

We drove for seven and one-half hours from our home in West Springfield, Massachusetts to Helena’s home in Hamilton. MapQuest said it would take seven hours but we stopped twice to grab a bite to eat and to let Freddy stretch his legs. The time passed fairly quickly and Freddy was a perfect back seat driver–quiet the whole time! Look how happy he is!

This was Friday, the 7th of September, and by the time we arrived in Hamilton and unpacked, we were ready for dinner. We walked around the corner to Bread Bar–Earth To Table.

Well-known for it pizza and bread and “good ingredients,” we both ate hamburgers; me a “Umami Burger” and Susan a “Cheeseburger.” Both excellent. Later in the week we would have pizza two or three times there, and I think I must have bought five loaves of bread. So delicious but boy do I need to start an exercise program!!!! Or you’ll start calling me Dough Boy!

Susan, Freddy and I spent much of Saturday at the Locke Street Festival.

We visited the My Dog’s Café & Bar.

We saw some great signage and assorted advertisements on Locke Street. Later in the week we had lunch at the West Town Bar & Grill.

At the Locke Street Festival we bought our first loaf of Sourdough Bread from Bread Bar and Fresh Raspberry Jam from a local famer. And bracelets for our Granddaughter.

We brought Freddy home and went out for brunch. I had the best Eggs Benedict ever at Mattson & Co. on Locke Street–wild mushrooms, crispy baby kale, bacon. Thank You Georgia for the suggestion. Susan had an omelet with prosciutto and carnalized onions.

Here we are waiting for our food to arrive.

On Sunday we relaxed. I forgot to share with you this—-we had no TV and what a BLESSING!!!! We read and listened to music.

We then gathered ourselves up and went to the Royal Botanical Gardens and  hiked through the Hendrie Valley Nature Sanctuary. Not a difficult hike but very beautiful.

On Monday it rained. I bought groceries and wine. I went for a walk to photograph some street art written and placed by poet Simon Frank. Here is one of 20+ images:

I LOVED this!!!

Tuesday brought us to the Bruce Trail and Borer’s Fall.

The Bruce Trail is a hiking trail in southern Ontario from the Niagara River to the tip of Tobermory, Ontario. The main trail is more than 550 miles long and there are over 250 miles of associated trails. The Bruce Trail follows the edge of the Niagara Escarpment and is the oldest and longest marked hiking trail in Canada. Its name is linked to the Bruce Peninsula and Bruce County which the trail runs through. The trail is named after James Bruce, 8th Earl of Elgin who was the Governor General of the Province of Canada from 1847 to 1854.

By the time Freddy, Susan and I hiked to Borer’s Falls and further along the Bruce Trail and the Niagara Escarpment, up and down steep and slippery, moss covered steps and rocky paths, huffing and puffing, I imagined we had just hiked all 550 miles of the Bruce Trail and that the trail was really named after me and then I noticed the only one not day-dreaming and breathing heavily was Freddy.

Pictured below is Susan walking down one of the rocky paths of the Bruce Trail. I am looking at her and Google Maps/GPS on my phone, thinking when she meets up with me I am going to have to say “I think we are going in the wrong direction and we are going to have to hike back up those steep and slippery, moss covered steps and rocky paths.”

After all that huffing and puffing, we decided to return to Mattson & Co. for a dinner of wine and appetizers; we were so happy with the brunch we had a few days earlier. The food is excellent.  We shared three appetizers. Fried Calamari with citrus gremolata, sweet basil aioli, candied jalapeno. Honey Truffle Toast with an olive tapenade, goat cheese mousse, wild mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, crisp house-made focaccia, wildflower truffle honey, fresh basil. Crab Cakes–Dungeness, snow and lump crab, ravigote hollandaise, sweet corn succotash, arugula. And wine. The happy house-sitters!

If it’s Wednesday  it must be The Art Gallery of Hamilton. We saw the work of Vivian Maier.

All I can say is WOW!

We also saw: “James Street North: Vintage Photographs by Cees and Annerie van Gemerden;”   “Speaking for Herself;”  and the wild “Kim Adams: Bruegel-Bosch Bus.”   All great exhibitions in a great museum. A must visit!

And that night I made a spicy chicken and mushroom stir fry.

And we listened to Neil Young, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell.

On Thursday we went for a walk at Bayfront Park and visited Tiffany Falls.

We had lunch at The Burnt Tongue (great soups and hamburgers), window-shopped on Locke Street, and bought a few book at Epic Books, one by Gary Barwin, who lives in Hamilton and is the author of twenty one books of poetry, fiction and books for children. Dinner was pizza from Bread Bar.

On Friday we visited the Fifty Point Conservation Area—and Freddy got to go in the water for the very first time! In Lake Ontario!!!

Afterward the three of us went to the Stoney Ridge Estate Winery, an absolutely beautiful place, where we each (Not Freddy) enjoyed a glass of Riesling, bought a few bottles of wine and four kinds of cheese.

It is interesting to note that there are 100+ wineries dotting the region, a fertile swath of land that separates Lake Ontario from Lake Erie and runs roughly from the Canadian border at the Niagara River and Niagara Falls to Hamilton, Ontario, just south of Toronto.

I am not one to complain, but being semi-retired and on vacation is hard work as you never really get a day off. For example, on Friday I walked Freddy three times before 10. Then I took Susan out to lunch; great beer and fries at Brux House, which is on Locke Street in beautiful Hamilton.

And then we boarded the Hamilton Harbour Queen for a tour of Hamilton Harbour, which was delightful and interesting.

Hamilton Harbour, formerly known as Burlington Bay, lies on the western tip of Lake Ontario, bounded on the northwest by the City of Burlington, on the south by the City of Hamilton, and on the east by Hamilton Beach (south of the Burlington Bay James N. Allan Skyway) and Burlington Beach (north of the channel). It is joined to Cootes Paradise by a narrow channel formerly excavated for the Desjardins Canal. Within Hamilton itself, it is referred to as “Hamilton Harbour”, “The Harbour” and “The Bay”. The bay is naturally separated from Lake Ontario by a sand bar. The opening in the north end was filled in and channel cut in the middle for ships to pass. The Port of Hamilton is on the Hamilton side of the harbor.

Here is a jetty in Hamilton Harbour protecting the marina and the boats from wakes, creating a no-wake zone. I once read “wakes make people angry.”

We saw hundreds of sailboats and in this photo below we see a steel mill in the distance and those breast-like shapes on the right contain grain and soy beans.

On Sunday, our last full day, we went to Albion Falls.

Albion Falls is a 62 foot classical/cascade waterfall flowing down the Niagara Escarpment in Red Hill Valley in Hamilton. With cascade falls the downpour is staggered into a series of steps causing water to “cascade”.

Albion Falls was once seriously considered as a possible source of water for Hamilton. Rocks from the Albion Falls area were used in the construction of the Royal Botanical Gardens‘ Rock Garden.

The ravine at the Albion Falls has a legend of the Lover’s Leap!  The story is that early in the 19th century young Jane Riley, disappointed in love with Joseph Rousseau, stood at the top of a steep cliff not far from thundering Albion Falls and flung herself to the bottom 100 feet below. The steep drop has since been dubbed “Lovers’ Leap” and many tales have grown up about the suicide.

On a happier note, we celebrated the end of our brief but spectacular vacation at Mattson & Co. enjoying some calamari and wine. Our third visit there, but who is counting! Great food and service!

Cheers!

One last thing, no trip to Hamilton is complete without purchasing donuts from the Donut Monster on Locke Street. And I did on Monday morning before we headed home. Pictured here Mexican Chocolate and Orange Hibiscus. YUM!!!

Wait! There’s more. I would be remiss if I didn’t say how beautiful the city of Hamilton is: the stores and restaurants along Locke Street; the nearby hiking trails and waterfalls; the kind and friendly people; the dogs—so many dogs in this very dog-friendly city; the beautiful brick homes. Oh! I think I saw a house for sale on Helena’s street!

Note: Helena is a friend from fourteen years ago when I had an art gallery. She is a gifted writer and fine art photographer. She is also the first person whose art I exhibited in my gallery. She loves photography, dogs, cats and ponies. Here is a photo from her recent trip to Iceland:

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” ~Seneca

One last thing happened when we were in Hamilton. Diane Ensey of Beyond Paper redesigned my website. I couldn’t be happier. I have worked with Diane before and I must say she’s the best: creative and attentive to detail–and fun to work with!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What A Wonderful World

My wife, Susan, and I find great joy in being Bridges Volunteers at Coburn Elementary School here in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

The Bridges Vision: “Every child and older adult will experience the richness of intergenerational relationships and interdependence.”

Below is a poem I wrote about our experience as volunteers, along with a few photos.

 

This is an account of children, third grade students, of Coburn Elementary School

Located in West Springfield, Massachusetts. Children who are 8-10 years old

Interacting with senior citizens—building bridges together by talking, reading,

Listening, creating art, laughing, sharing pieces of ourselves.

Many children of refugees and immigrants. Children of dreamers

Of a better way of life. Children of parents and grandparents

From Nepal, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Russia, Puerto Rico,

Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Latvia, Belarus, Germany,

Poland, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Moldova.

Children who speak two, three, four languages.

Children named Maimuna, Luis, Jayden, Ivy, Haydia, Nabaa,

Evan, Luca, Layla, Bogdan, Isabella, Victoria, Mohamed,

Prashna, Prashik, Prateemna, Prabesh, Jaylin, Tisha, Milana,

Emily, Jordan, Miyana, Joseph, Yuliya, Matilda, Lilly, Emil,

Michael, Kimberly, Yariana, Elijah, Hailey, David, Caleb,

Matthew, Emil, Yariana, Mykle, Jade, Mihaela.

Children who dream of being firefighters, lawyers, baseball players,

Basketball and soccer players, doctors, nurses, scientists, teachers.

Children who say, “You are the best Bridges friends ever.”

“Thank You for listening and talking with me.”

“Thank you for doing the Macarena with me.”

“Thank You for playing cards with me.”

“Thank You for making me laugh.”

“Thank You for helping me. You were funny, helpful and supportive.”

“Thank You for your company and helping us with our art projects.”

“I am grateful you spent time with us.”

“Thank You for your time. Remember when we made the banks?

That was so much fun! Hope we can do it again.”

“Thank you for being here when I am down. You get me

Up and going. You make me happy.”

“Thank you for helping us with the fun stuff we made.”

“I love you. You will always be in my heart.”

Our Bridges friends: Children who believe the world is wonderful

“Because Nature is a painting by life;”

“Because there are lots of beautiful things and happy families;”

“Because there are computers, cats, people, food, pets,

Family, friends, water, emogees, sunflowers, rainbows,

Waterfalls, forests, and cookies;”

“Because we have families, food, and trees;”

“Because we see different people every day and they are beautiful;”

“Because of family, friends, cousins, aunts, uncles,

Grandparents and food and drinks;”

“Because of many beautiful faces;”

“Because everyone loves each other. We all are family;”

“Because of flowers, grass, trees, animals, people, religions;”

“Because of friends and family and my teachers;”

“Because of every person in the world smiling and laughing;”

“Because the roses are red, the clouds white, the sky blue.

They are there for me and you.

What a wonderful world.”

“Mr. Bruce and Miss Susan………

When will we see you again?

I love you.”

 

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 and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.

 

I Give and Receive Light and Love

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 and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.

How To Find The Right Dog For You And Your Dog

How much is that doggie in the window?
The one with the waggly tail
How much is that doggie in the window?
I do hope that doggie’s for sale. (Patti Page)

When I was a child I didn’t have a dog, but now that I have a dog, Freddy, a mini-labradoodle I am filled with child-like joy.

It was my wife’s idea to get a dog. Susan grew up with dogs. And had a dog of her own. When my daughter and son-in-law got a Goldendoodle puppy, Bella, the desire for a dog reared its puppy head again, so to speak. Danielle and Mike had visited with Bella a couple of days after Christmas 2012 and Susan was smitten. She wanted a dog, NOW. That’s me, Susan, and Freddy above.

This is Bella (above), Danielle and Mike’s Goldendoodle.

Susan went online and searched, mistakenly, for Labradoodles. Well, lo and behold, she found a breeder of Labradoodles in East Otis, MA. and she called. She spoke with the breeder and learned that a litter had just been born but all the puppies were called for already, except one. It was Freddy! Because of a recessive gene from his grandfather he turned out to be a mini Labradoodle. Well, that suited Susan even better as she preferred a smaller dog.

Freddy says, “They are totally focused on me.  The important thing is that they love me unconditionally.  Susan tells me that God loves me, too. I don’t know who that is. But, I do know that GOD is DOG spelled backwards. Wherever they are, I am. If they are at their desks, I am under their feet. When they are sitting on the sofa, I sit on their laps or beside them. They put a rug under the kitchen table, so that I can be comfortable when they are eating. We go out in the back yard several times a day. There is agility equipment, toys, balls, and Frisbees for me to play with and I have my own pool. They usually always take me with them wherever they go in their car.

“I have so much fun and Susan does, too! They say I am fast and smart and that I have the potential to be a champion.  We’ll decide whether to compete once I am more experienced. In the meantime, I am enjoying the classes and practicing at home. Susan and Bruce tell me they are proud of me and they want me to be the happy little dog, God, whoever that is, wants me to be. I sometimes think it would be fun to have a playmate, another dog in the house. I don’t know if Susan and Bruce are thinking of getting another dog, but I know this handy chart from PuppySpot would come in handy.”

Many thanks to my wife, Susan, who wrote much of the history of Freddy on her Blog, Stories About Susan.

And thanks to PuppySpot for contacting me about writing a Blog post for them. They write: “We are a community of dog lovers, committed to connecting the nation’s top breeders to caring, responsible individuals and families. We hold ourselves and our clients to the highest standards and aim to improve the life of each puppy, breeder and owner who joins our family.”

~~~

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 and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.

 

 

“Here am I, the servant of the Lord”

In church today we read and prayed:

Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress;
    my eyes grow weak with sorrow,
    my soul and body with grief.
10 My life is consumed by anguish
    and my years by groaning;
my strength fails because of my affliction,
    and my bones grow weak.
11 Because of all my enemies,
    I am the utter contempt of my neighbors
and an object of dread to my closest friends—
    those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as though I were dead;
    I have become like broken pottery.

~Psalm 31: 9-12

Susan turned to me as if to say, “This sounds like you.”

My body is tired. I suffer with stenosis and sciatica. I am in physical therapy. And my spirit is strong.

But I have my moments.

Will I have the strength to hike with my son in Colorado?

Will I have the strength to work in my garden?

Will I have the strength to stand in the kitchen and cook for Susan (Pictured here: salmon, her favorite)?

 

Will I have the strength to walk and stand for new portrait sessions?

When we returned home from church I read Psalm 39:

I said, “I will watch my ways
    and keep my tongue from sin;
I will put a muzzle on my mouth
    while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent,
    not even saying anything good.
But my anguish increased;
    my heart grew hot within me.
While I meditated, the fire burned;
    then I spoke with my tongue:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days;
    let me know how fleeting my life is.
You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
    the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Everyone is but a breath,
    even those who seem secure.[b]

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom;
    in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth
    without knowing whose it will finally be.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?
    My hope is in you.
Save me from all my transgressions;
    do not make me the scorn of fools.
I was silent; I would not open my mouth,
    for you are the one who has done this.
10 Remove your scourge from me;
    I am overcome by the blow of your hand.
11 When you rebuke and discipline anyone for their sin,
    you consume their wealth like a moth—
    surely everyone is but a breath.

12 “Hear my prayer, Lord,
    listen to my cry for help;
    do not be deaf to my weeping.
I dwell with you as a foreigner,
    a stranger, as all my ancestors were.
13 Look away from me, that I may enjoy life again
    before I depart and am no more.”

Okay. Not so dire as this. But I am at the age where I ask “What are you going to do with your time?”

I am going to get stronger. I am going to hike. I am going to garden. I am going to continue to cook. I am going to continue photographing people—-and birds and butterflies and streams and landscapes. In all that I do I am going to give praise to the Lord!

And the title verse in complete: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

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 and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.

Wild Geese

Beautiful gray day here in Western Massachusetts.

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 and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.

Resolutions vs Rules

When I woke this morning, I read from The Daily Word:

New Year
The life of God within reassures me that new adventures await.

With a new year comes new beginnings. As I bid last year goodbye, I greet today with an air of anticipation. This new year holds the promise of a new dawn, an adventure waiting to be fulfilled.

Prayer is a powerful resource on my journey, and every thought of God is a prayer. So I keep myself centered on divine life within. There, faith encourages me to believe that all things are possible. This new year holds within it the promise of love, joy, health, prosperity, harmony, and so much more.

With gratitude, I recognize and give thanks for the many blessings in my life—those received and those coming my way. I live in confidence because the life of God within reassures me that new adventures await.

Be renewed in the spirit of your minds.—Ephesians 4:23
In the book, Balancing Life By The Rule, Debra Farrington shows us the difference between self-help and spiritual growth in her article on creating a “rule” to guide everyday life, based on Christian monastic rules. Contrasting a rule with a New Year’s resolution, she says that the latter is based on what we think is wrong with us (too fat, too poor, too tired, etc), while a spiritual rule grows from a desire to become more fully what we were created to be.
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom.” – James 3:13

I went down to the river to pray. “I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing praise with the spirit, but I will sing praise with the mind also.” – 1 Corinthians 14:15

Some “rules” for this year include: 

More Spiritual Study. Read the Bible every day and other spiritual texts. Pray.

More Charity. Help those in need. Continue to volunteer with the 3rd grade class here in town. Look for other opportunities to volunteer.

More Meditation. Rise early and pray/meditate. Practice yoga.

One Pointed Attention. Listen empathically (getting inside the other person’s frame of reference so you listen with one purpose: understanding) until you truly understand the other person’s position. Then work on ensuring that you clearly communicate your thoughts and ideas.

Think Outside The Box.

Remember Who I Am. Know Thy Self. Namaste.

Humor. Find the humorous in the everyday.

Read more books.

Write more poetry.

The park, for me, is a place of grace. A church. A temple of nature. A sanctuary. Birds singing songs of praise and joy. Doves, finches, woodpeckers, crows and robins. On one walk I saw a fox on the path in front of me. Another time hawks circling overhead. A Green Heron in the water. I walk my dog, Freddy, a mini-labradoodle, there a few times every week. One time, without incident, we walked, and every few minutes I talked, “Good dog. Good dog.” On we walked past Meadow Trail and Beaver Brook. All the time my dog acutely aware and when I wanted to stop and photograph, I said “Freddy, sit.” And he sat. And he waited. And when I said “okay” on we went.

More story-telling.

In church the book calls How did you find me And do you believe Her neighbor says I Bet he found you through Me, I believe in Beauty, do you, too Yes, take me, take me Home says this book with The light of sunshine I know I am this A young simple gift See the butterfly And in the second Chapter we read, no Not yet, please, let me Did I ever tell You I was raised Not from the dead but From the living word Wrapped in ancient Stories when all I Want is to go home Angels I hear Come to protect me I am being held Lifted off the shelf Where I have waited Patiently for you Or you or you to Take me with you home Read my sad story Once upon a time No it does not start Quite like this, listen I hear them singing Do you hear singing See under this book A Garden for Rose

More Portraits.

Continue to count daily gifts.

Self-publish books, including a cook book.

Bruce, they say. When is the cook book coming out? And I saw, now, this year. Tonight I made this–Cheese Tortellini Soup with Kale and Kielbasa.

Market my photography better.

Nymph Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Be more like Jesus.

“Imitate me, as I also Imitate Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:1

I think the more I grow to be like Jesus, the more I develop into the person I was meant to be all along.

“Come. Follow me.” Jesus said.

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 and Prints meant to last a lifetime! For more details about having an amazing and fun photo experience, please contact me.