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.

 

 

 

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.

Greetings From Asbury Park

I am thinking about Asbury Park, New Jersey. Not specifically this album, although it is one of my all-time favorite albums and dare I say one of the best rock and roll albums of all time. Certainly in the Top 100. This album, this artist, Bruce Springsteen, I’ll save for another Blog post. But let me just say I am blessed that I got to see him in concert at small clubs when he was first bursting onto the music scene. As Jon Landau wrote: “I saw my rock ‘n’ roll flash before my eyes. And I saw something else: I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me fee like I was hearing music for the very first time.” Truth.

Okay. Back to the theme. I am thinking about Asbury Park because of this photo I took years ago when I spent a day photographing on the boardwalk.

A few weeks ago I received this message: “Are you the Bruce Barone who took this photograph of Ducky’s? My uncle owned this and he recently passed away. Could I purchase a print from you? It would mean so much to me and my family.”

I wrote back: “I am so sorry for your loss. I would be happy to send you a print. Free.”

I sent her an 8 x 10 and received a hand-written thank you card from her a few days later:

“Thank You SO much for your generosity. Your beautiful act of kindness is greatly appreciated by me and my Uncle Ducky Fornicola family. Your work preserved his history and your actions honored his life of giving. Be well.”

I was speechless when I read this. Tears in my eyes. Isn’t this about love and giving? The Bible says:

“Give, and it will be given to you.” Luke 6:38

“Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.” Hebrews 13:16

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

I recommend taking a minute to read Ducky’s obituary. Here is a man who gave and loved. A man who “made a difference in the lives of anyone he came across.”

Reading from The Asbury Park Press:

“Donald N. “Ducky” Fornicola, 85 beloved and respected, husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather and friend, passed away peacefully from prostate cancer at his home surrounded by family on May 30, 2020. He was born on May 22, 1935, in Neptune, N.J., and was the son of the late Theodore and Mary Fornicola.

“Ducky attended Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Grammar School and Asbury Park High School. He was a communicant of Our Lady of Mount Carmel RC Church in Asbury Park, New Jersey.

“He was the proprietor of Ducky’s Hot Dogs on the Asbury Boardwalk for 30 years and then employed with Monmouth County Superintendent of Elections Office. He employed many local youths who he later mentored throughout their endeavors. Ducky took great pride in his family and visited them daily. He enjoyed the successes of his children and assisted them in any way he could including managing Dino’s in Long Branch and the Grateful Deli in Loch Arbour.

“Ducky excelled at basketball throughout his life. His love of basketball led him to become the director of the Monmouth Ocean County Parochial Basketball League. He later formed the Mt. Carmel Men’s League and also the Allenhurst Summer Recreational Basketball League. His involvement in basketball allowed him to coach and inspire many young men with their accomplishments.

“Ducky also had a passion for golf. He was an above-average golfer playing at least weekly up until last fall; an avid Dallas Cowboys fan loved Dean Martin and the New York Yankees.

“His charisma and charm impacted the lives of many forever. He had a lasting impression on those that met him and made a difference in the lives of anyone he came across. Ducky went above and beyond in trying to help anyone he encountered, and his smile was contagious. He knew how to brighten your day and had enough personality to fill the room. Ducky was an inspiration to those around him…….

“He is survived by his wife who was his grade-school sweetheart married 64 years, Ursula (Aldarelli) Fornicola; his four children and their spouses Kristie Linington (Gary), Mary Kessler (Scott), Ursula Carkhuff (Chris), and Dino Fornicola (Caroline). Grandchildren, Ashley Linington Ludwig (Ryan), Joseph Linington, Kaitlyn Lougee (Michael), Donald Kessler, Austin Carkhuff, Myles Fornicola, Bryan Linington, and Kevin Coyle; his great-grandchildren, Asher and Addie Ludwig, Michael Lougee; his brothers, Theodore Fornicola, Robert Fornicola, and Fredrick Fornicola (Marie); his sister, Joan Aldarelli. His Sisters-In-Law Fran Giacone, Sister Christina Aldarelli, IHM; his Brother-In-Law Ralph Aldarelli and his life partner, Phillip Degenstein and many nieces, nephews and friends too many to mention.

“Thank you and we will miss you Ducky, Coach, Mentor, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather, Role Model, and Friend.”

What a Legacy!

Here is another photo from that day on the boardwalk:

And here’s a link to Springsteen on Broadway on Netflix. I highly recommend watching.

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.

 

 

Good Advice for The New Year

Begin here. Begin now. Be here now.

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.

Happy New Year

Gene Palma

Wishing you a Happy New Year.
Can I get a drum roll please?
And how about a prayer dears
For Susan and me; we cough and sneeze
All day long this first day of the year.
She sleeps. I sleep. We take turns.
I had to put the brisket in the crock pot.
Will not eat tonight as we have no appetite
But I yearn for a slice on the bread I made
And a side of cole slaw and mashed potatoes.

Good Advice; Your Words Matter

Here’s some great advice from my friend, Jennifer Dukes Lee:

“Here’s a little secret for writers: The way to write authentically is to pay attention to your regular life.

“I have written three books, one Bible study, and thousands of blog posts. But it took me a while to get in touch with The Regular.

“When I took that one simple step, everything about my writing changed.

“It’s like this: we can look around at our regular life and see it as quotidian and boring. That’s true whether you live on a cul-de-sac in Denver, or a farm in northwest Iowa. We hesitate to share from our own experiences and places because we’re afraid others won’t relate. Then, we water it down with generalities, and the life gets sucked out.

“But when I began to OWN my particular stories and places, an interesting paradox revealed itself — my regular life was what made my story both unique AND universally understood. Because when I explored my REGULAR life, all of the worries, fears, emotions, dreams, boredom, doubts, pain, anger, apathy, joy, and hope began to emerge from it.

“This is how you find your magic. You begin in the place where your bare feet roam, under the sky that domes over your head. Start with Place. Start with Home. Start with Regular. Start with your own weird thoughts, fumblings, and ponderings that emerge in your grocery store, church, back yard, bathroom, hospital, counselor’s office, cemetery, school gymnasium. Excavate the feelings underneath the places. The excavating ALWAYS starts when you put the spade under the dirt directly in front of you. Then, you’ll discover whatever it is that makes your story YOURS.

“As a writer, this is your ultimate strength. Write the stories only you can write. That’s how you find your style.”

This reminds me of a poem by Mary Oliver:

Praying

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

The path
Is a doorway
Follow me

To wonder
In fourth grade
We learn

Words matter
Susan and I
Bridges Together volunteers

In class
We read and write
Talk and laugh

Create art and friendships
Student Sabina whispers to me
“Susan is so beautiful”

Indeed she is
Inside and out
Her idea

To bring to class
Bushels of apples
For the students

And teachers and volunteers
Student Eva asks me
“May I have another apple?”

 

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.

 

 

About October

I began the month with great expectations. Read the Bible daily. Practice yoga daily. Write daily. This I didn’t accomplish.

But Susan and I did begin a new season of volunteering in the Bridges Together Program .

Here are two of our students–4th graders.

I made some delicious food.

Here is a meatloaf with mushroom gravy.

Blueberry Scones.

Cranberry-Walnut Scones.

A Berry Galette.

Fig Chutney, which was so good served with chicken and oven-roasted Gen Tso’s cauliflower.

And since we have both fighting colds this past week, chicken soup.

Susan made a wonderful white chocolate cake. YUM!

One night we went out for dinner at 99 Restaurant and I had a sweet potato crusted haddock. I tried to replicate it at home with cod. Not as good, but still special.

Our garden continued to bring us great joy.

As did our Freddy. And Susan continued to sponsor the Nepali children in soccer.

I also had the opportunity to photograph my friend Beth and her family. I photographed her family last winter and I photographed her wedding a number of years ago.

 

And my friend Hajer.

And here is your humble author and friend. A self-portrait with my better half from October 3. She is my rock and inspiration. She is helping me get through some medical issues; this week I am having the first of two or three operations to remove kidney stones. Earlier in the month I thought I might have one as I have had them before; my back hurt and there was some blood in my urine. A CT Scan and Cystoscopy this month revealed two large stones and numerous small ones.

The long and short of all this is I AM reading the Bible, practicing yoga, praying, writing every day for now on. Thank You Susan for your continued inspiration. I love you. Keep smiling.

 

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.