Photography As Prayer

Simone Weil said: “Absolute attention is prayer.”

I agree.

To be continued.

~~~

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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!

Portrait of a Young Woman

Thanksgiving. Spur-of-the-moment. Grand-niece.
Star Student-Athlete. Wonderful person.

Sonya7R
35mm
f/4
1/160 sec.
ISO–1250
Window Light
Alienskin Software

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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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Pasta with Tuna, Capers, and Green Olives

A few nights ago Susan and I had dinner guests. Candy and her daughter, Remy. Candy and I went to the same elementary school, junior high school and church when we were growing up in Teaneck, New Jersey (This was a long time ago.) So I feel very blessed she and her daughter took time to visit with us.

Earlier in the week, Susan and I talked about what to cook and we thought this might be perfect. I had asked Candy if there was anything she didn’t like and she said “boudin.” But the thought crossed my mind “tuna, caper, green olives!” Need I say, they loved it.

SERVES: 4

When it comes to making quick, delicious pasta sauces, Italians hold canned tuna in high regard. We complement it with Provençal herbs and orange zest. If you’re a lemon-zest fan, try that instead of the orange.

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage (I used 1/2)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary (I used 1/2)
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated orange zest (from 1/2 orange)
  • 1 tablespoon drained chopped capers
  • 1/4 cup chopped green olives
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 6-ounce cans tuna packed in olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon wine vinegar
  • 3/4 pound linguine or tagliatelle
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Directions
  1. In a medium frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the garlic, sage, and rosemary and stir until the garlic just starts to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the orange zest, capers, olives, salt, pepper, and the tuna with its oil. Remove from the heat; stir in the vinegar.
  2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until just done (follow package directions) Drain the pasta and toss with the tuna sauce and parsley.

NOTE

Tuna Packed in Oil

Here we use tuna packed in olive oil, and we count on that oil as part of the sauce. If your tuna doesn’t have at least one-and-a-half tablespoons of oil per can, add a little more olive oil to make up the difference. Of course, you can use tuna packed in vegetable oil, too, but avoid water-packed tuna at all costs. The flavor, and most of the nutrients for that matter, leach out into the water.

A robust French rosé from the southern Rhône appellation of Tavel will serve these Mediterranean ingredients well. Earthy and full of roasted raspberry flavor, Tavels are among the most full-bodied of rosés. If you’d rather stick to the Italian theme, look for the wonderful Sicilian rosé from Regaleali.
The first time I made this recipe I used Linguine:

~Food & Wine