Pretty Photos

Just some recent photos from the last days of September and first day of October.

Leaves in our backyard.

Monarch Butterfly. I love this photo. And they are still visiting the garden!

Mittineague Park, West Springfield. Down the street from where we live.

Gooseberry Farms. Down the street from where we live.

Gooseberry Farms.

Gooseberry Farms.

Gooseberry Farms.

Gooseberry Farms.

Gooseberry Farms.

Recent sunrise on a walk with Freddy.

Mittineague Park.

Zinnia. Beautiful, Bruce!

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.

A Garden Needs Weeding

Yellow Tiger Swallowtail
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
In my garden
I am
Weeding
I know not the names of the weeds
They surround my plants
I do know my back and leg muscles
Will ache the next day
I am on my knees
Two hours on my knees
I think thisĀ  is a form of prayer
Man On Knees Weeding
There is
The smell of basil
The smell of tomatoes
The smell of mint
Parsley
Thyme
Oregano
This all happened
On Saturday, late morning
Cloudy and breezy
I am filling a pail with weeds
My heart fills with Joy
I sing a new song
“You will be like a well-watered garden,
Like a spring whose waters never fail”
My hands are full of weeds
The garden grows more beautiful
This is why I worked
In the garden, to see
Myself weeding, letting go
Letting God direct me
This is a story about love
This is a story about growth
This is a story about beauty
Stay a bit longer
Listen
To wings of the butterfly flapping
The wings of the hummingbird whirling
Do you hear
Do you see
This all happened
On Saturday
On Sunday I rested

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.

Honey Mustard Cilantro Baked Chicken Thighs with Veggies

This is based on a recipe from Joyful Healthy Eats. She called for using thyme which I have growing in my garden but it was raining cats and dogs and I had a bunch of cilantro in the fridge so I used that instead. A big plus; this is a one pan dish!

Ingredients

  • 4 bone boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 1/2 cups cut green beans
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 red pepper, cut into cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt & pepper to season

Honey Mustard Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon course stone ground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. To a large bowl roasting pan add green beans, sweet potato, red onion, red pepper, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat everything with seasoning.
  3. To a small bowl add course stone ground mustard, Dijon mustard, honey, apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, garlic clove, fresh cilantro, salt and pepper. Whisk to mix everything together.
  4. Pat chicken dry. Then season with salt and pepper on both sides. Using a pastry brush, evenly brush the the honey mustard mixture across all 4 chicken thighs.
  5. Place seasoned chicken thighs in roasting pan and spread veggies out around the chicken breasts. Be sure to put them in a single layer and not to crowd the pan.
  6. Place the roasting pan bake for 45 minutes. Stir veggies at 25 minutes.
  7. Serve.

Delicious!

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.

God’s Tiny Flying Ballerinas

Thursday morning
A hummingbird
At the feeder
I imagine
It is God’s
Tiny flying ballerina
Dancing from feeder to flower
The garden of zinnias
Pink and yellow and red and orange
I must hurry
To photograph
The tiny ballerina
The tiny dancer
Moves so quickly
Here then gone
Not like the swallowtail
Spending all morning
In the garden
At the purple butterfly bush
And hovering at a zinnia
Gifts this morning
Beauty
I wait
In the garden
To see
To contemplate
New ways
To extend my voice
And bring beauty to the world

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.

 

There Is A Balm In Gilead

There are pages in a book I am reading
Dog-eared. I don’t know why.
There is a photograph too.
People say it is amazing. Beautiful.
Spiritual. A Japanese print.
Joyous. The year is 2020.
May 1. Susan says we are skipping
Spring and running right into Summer.
The forecast is for increasing clouds.
A chance of afternoon showers.
A rumble of thunder.
In class this morning we learn
About the Balm of Gilead.
With patience, blossoms are sure to come.
I, too, am ready to blossom
In the garden of life.
A storm is on the horizon.
We open our hymnals and we sing:

There is a Balm in Gilead
to make the wounded whole;
There is a Balm in Gilead
to heal the sin-sick soul.

Sometimes I feel discouraged,
And think my work’s in vain.
But then the Holy Spirit
revives my soul again.

Don’t ever feel discouraged,
for Jesus is your friend,
who, if you ask for knowledge,
will never fail to lend.

If you cannot preach like Peter,
if you cannot pray like Paul,
you can tell the love of Jesus,
who died to save us all.

The Silent Joys Of Everyday Life

Sunday morning I photographed the weeping cheery tree. In the afternoon I travelled to Vienna, Austria. Budapest, Hungary. Top of South Island, New Zealand. The British Virgin Islands. I loved visiting Virgin Gorda and Anegada-Davida, also known as “Drowned Island” (It’s highest elevation is only 28 feet above sea level.) and “Conch Island.”

Last week I was in Qatar. The week before I was in Japan.

I love Japanese food and often make it for Susan. My children (And grandchildren!) love Tamago-Yaki.

I have also made Shrimp Sushi.

And Miso Haddock.

But when I was in Qatar (All these trips, by the way, on my couch watching documentaries on Create TV! My new way of life: I wake up at 5:30. Get dressed. Walk Freddy. Sit on the couch. Watch TV. Sometimes read. But not often enough. I have been fairly unmotivated during the Covid-19 Quarantine.) visiting a few Persian restaurants I said to myself “Bruce, I think you have never made Persian food.” So that night I made Kotlet which is a Persian Meat Pattie (ground beef, lamb or turkey with grated potato, grated onion and turmeric). I served this with Persian rice and Baked Spring Rolls (Not Persian) stuffed with ground turkey, veggies, and chopped peanuts. Both the spring rolls and Kotlet I served with a spicy peanut soy sauce. Delicious!

I am sitting at my desk now–not on the couch watching TV. I look out the window at my garden and see a large root that needs to be cut and removed.

And I dream of the garden in bloom later this summer. I am working on having eyes to the future. My garden planted and thriving. Tomatoes. Peppers. Basil. Lettuce. Zinnias. Thriving in the same way I pray our world comes back to life.

Recently a Cardinal was at the feeder in the garden.

I am occasionally working on my cookbook.

Someone asked me for my Chicken Parm recipe when she saw the photo on Facebook. I said buy the cookbook when it is published.

Susan and I busy ourselves working on jigsaw puzzles, a new-found hobby as it has become for many people around the world. We have completed two puzzles, each taking three to four weeks.

We celebrate the silent joys of everyday life.

Dinner. This was a plate of Roasted Miso Chicken (Japanese, again), Mashed Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry Sauce.

A Robin’s nest and eggs in a wreath on our front door.

New wine glasses.

And what good are new wine glasses without bottles of wine!

We bake bread.

We give thanks every morning we are alive and together to see another sunrise, another day.

We laugh at the sign-of-the-times at a nearby restaurant.

We have a tree removed from our yard.

Seems like ages ago we sat outside and enjoyed a glass of wine on one of the few plesant days during the past six weeks of quarantine. We grilled a steak for dinner, too–the first of the year.

It was around this time (March 11) schools were closed and our volunteering in the 4th grade here in town came to an end. We miss these children.

And no one came over for Easter. Baseball season never started. The greenhouse didn’t open. No markers of time. It is difficult to remember what day of the week it is. Today is Monday. Yesterday was Sunday. I know this to be true. The Sunday New York Times arrived early in the morning. We work on the crossword together. What is 119 across; “Like the entire 290-page Georges Perec novel “A Void,” curiously enough?” Rituals get us through the day. Coffee and toast. Cleaning the house. Walking Freddy. If someone comes down the street we keep a wise social distance. When we go out to the grocery store we wear our masks. We try not to touch our faces. We wash our hands. Again and again.

Who knows. We might become vegetarians. We might. I don’t know. I don’t mind. We have a few wonderful vegetarian cookbooks. I have always wanted to make a Black Bean Burger. A few weeks ago I made a Beet Burger. Yum! And the Lentil Caciatore I made a few weeks ago was delicious.

But just a few days ago Susan asked me to make Italian Wedding Soup with tiny turkey meatballs. And I did. And it, too, was delicious.

Do you know that the tiniest birds make the most beautiful songs?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Lebanese Eggplant with Beef, Squash, Pine Nuts & Tomatoes

As I said in my previous post, my harvest of tomatoes and eggplant this summer was disappointing.

Two plants produced two eggplants.

One summer my garden produced so many eggplants Susan and I had it almost every night. We had some many in fact, I thought of setting up a small farm stand at the end of our driveway; “Two Eggplants $1.” At one point toward the end of the summer, Susan said, “Enough eggplants!”

I found this recipe at The Lemon Bowl. I made a few changes/additions. Please note.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants (Just what I had!)
  • 1 squash, seeded and sliced thin (My addition. It’s summer. Why not? I had it in my vegetable basket!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1 pound ground sirloin or lamb (I used sirloin.)
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 8 ounces chicken stock (I used my homemade stock.)
  • 32 ounces crushed tomatoes (I used a 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes.)

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the broiler and line a pan with tin foil.
  • Cut the eggplant into 2 in. rounds and lay flat on the lined broiler pan. (NOTE: I grilled the eggplant.)
  • Measure the olive oil into a small bowl and brush it evenly on both sides of the eggplant rounds.
  • Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper.
  • Broil eggplant 5 minutes per side, until browned, and place in a glass casserole dish. Reduce oven heat to 350.
  • Meanwhile, in a small pan, toast pine nuts over low heat until browned, about 5-6 minutes. Do not walk away!
  • While this is happening, heat a large pan to medium-high and spray with non-stick spray.
  • Brown beef with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice 5-7 minutes using a wooden spoon. Add onions and squash and continue cooking for additional 5-7 minutes until onions are translucent.
  • Add chicken broth and deglaze the pan using the back of a wooden spoon to scrape up brown bits.
  • Add in tomatoes and toasted pine nuts then remove from heat.
  • Carefully pour the meat/tomato mixture over the eggplant rounds and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Serve with plain yogurt, fresh parsley and extra pine nuts.

 

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.

Beauty

I went looking for beauty and I found it in my garden.

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.