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.

Photography As Prayer

Simone Weil said: “Absolute attention is prayer.”

I agree.

To be continued.

~~~

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.

 

 

 

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

 

 

In Memory of My Father, Alfred Dernier Barone

Yesterday was my father’s birthday. He passed away in April 2006  and not a day goes by when I do not think of him.

This photo says so much about him. Out in the cold, smiling, helping me shovel snow one Christmas night.

When my father passed away my two children said to me, “He loved us so much.”

Love. This is our greatest gift.

When I spoke at my dad’s memorial service, I said:

“My sister Michelle spoke of The Perfect Child. I think in my father’s heart, in his soul and spirit, Michelle, Darlene, Dennis and I are all The Perfect Child as you, too, his family and friends are The Perfect People. Darlene spoke of The Lucky Ones. Yes, we four are lucky to have been blessed with a father filled with such unconditional love, a man who never spoke an ill word of anyone, his heart always filled with love for his neighbor. And Dennis spoke of our Dad as The Greatest and certainly he was for who could say what I want to say to you now; who could say this of their Dad–how many children could say that when they made a new friend, when I made a new friend, I always said to this friend, I can’t wait for you to meet my Dad, you are going to love him, and invariably, she or he did love him, and my Dad loved them and he would then always inquire about them, their day, their joys, their sorrows, their dreams.”

My father, Alfred, also know as Fred, and sometimes Freddy, and who Susan and I named our Labradoodle after–in his honor; Freddy.

My father was known as the epitome of a gentleman and his biggest joy came in life from loving his family and his grandchildren.

Here he is with his grandchild, Nina, in the kitchen, a place where he loved to be–to cook, to talk and to enjoy a glass of wine.

And here with his grandchild, Sara, looking at photos in an album, probably saying something like, “That was such a beautiful day.”

Love. This is our greatest gift.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”

~Philippians 3:8 NIV

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Pasta Primavera

My wife and I were having lunch and she asked me “What’s for dinner?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Why not make some past primavera? And be sure to add some squash. My mom always stir-fried squash for me; sometimes with scrambled eggs.”

And I did. So delicious.

Ingredients
Vegetables
  • 1¼ lbs. (about 6 cups) fresh vegetables cut into strips or diced (I used corn, squash, zucchini, red and green pepper—all from a local farm. And Japanese Eggplant, Jalapeno Peppers, and tomatoes—all from my garden. And some spinach.)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Pasta + Sauce
  • One package of fresh Rana linguine
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
Vegetables
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together the vegetables, olive oil, and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on the sheet pan.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and lightly golden brown.
Pasta + Sauce
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
  2. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and tomatoes, and cook for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add stock and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture is reduced by half, about 13-15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the butter until melted and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  5. Add the hot pasta to the sauce, stirring to combine. Then gently stir in the vegetables and Parmesan cheese. Taste for salt and pepper, and serve.