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.

 

 

 

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

 

 

Spring Is In The Air

I hope! Because it is snowing again this morning!

And then later in the day I hope to see this:

 

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Pasta alla Louise

Yesterday, January 8, was Susan’s birthday.

I gave her a choice of four different meals for dinner: pasta and spinach, meatballs and rice, meatloaf, or hamburgers. She chose pasta.

The recipe is based on one I found online called “5 Ingredient Spinach Parmesan Pasta.”

I call this recipe “Pasta alla Louise.” Why Louise? Because that is Susan’s middle name. And Pasta alla Louise sounds more pasta-poetic than Pasta alla Susan!

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz uncooked pasta (I used Rienzi Glutten-free Penne Rigate)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil (My addition)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I didn’t used garlic. See Note below.)
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced (My addition)
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (My addition)
  • 5-6 cups packed baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock (My addition)
  • Note: 3-4 roasted tomatoes (My addition. I roasted tomatoes this past summer in olive oil, lots of garlic, rosemary, thyme and oregano. I then bagged them and froze, 3-4 per bag. I have about 30 bags in the freezer!)

Directions:

  1. Add the pasta to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Set pasta aside.
  2. Using a large pan or wok, melt the butter over medium heat with the olive oil. Add the red pepper flakes and onion and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add in the roasted tomatoes, pasta and spinach. Gently toss and cook until spinach leaves are wilted. Add in some of the reserved pasta water and chicken stock. Stir in 1/4 cup of the Parmesan cheese and toss until combined. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
  3. Pour pasta into a large bowl. Garnish with additional Parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Here is a photo of it cooking in my All-Clad pan:

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Sunday In My Garden

 

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Sunday In The Park

Sunday in the park down the street from where I live.

Mittineague Park, West Springfield, Massachusetts. Sunday, October 1, 2017.

 

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I Give and Receive Light and Love

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The Very Best Burger

I have never bought a store-made hamburger patty. Never!

I like to make my own. Here is one with parsley, Parmesan cheese and Worcestershire Sauce topped with hamburger relish  and red onion sitting on an English Muffin. Doesn’t it look delicious?

And here is another topped with corn salsa! Do I hear an Ole!!!???

Oh, I have eaten store-made hamburger patties at graduation parties and summer barbeques. Once I even put a knife through my palm trying to separate a few frozen patties that were given to me as a gift. Some gift! They meant well and I was just dumb.

But a few weeks ago, I was in Big Y World Class Food Market and a “New Item” caught my eye. A simple but beautiful package of 4 hamburgers from Schweid & Sons, “The Very Best Burger,” “Fresh Custom Blend Ground Beef Burgers.”  Me, being an adventurer always ready and willing to try something new, picked up a package.

The first time I cooked 2 burgers for Susan and me, it rained and I was forced to bake them. I simply couldn’t wait another day to see if I liked these burgers.  I did. Delicious!

Here I served them on English Muffins, with Swiss Cheese, Banana Peppers, Ketchup and Relish. Sides of homes fries and carrot fries—-both seasoned with Old Bay Seasoning.

The second time I grilled the burgers. Always better on the grill!

Keeping it simple here. English Muffin, Hamburger Relish, Sliced Campari tomatoes. Delicious!

I definitely recommend the burgers from Schweid & Sons. Are they the very best burger? Who knows? Who cares? Give them a try. Fire up that grill. Open a bottle of wine. Bon Appetit!

And if you are looking for a Buffalo Burger, give D’Artagnan a try. I grill these all the time and love them! I also buy there bacon—no nitrates!

When Susan and I eat out and want a burger we enjoy the food at Shortstop Bar & Grill in Westfield, Massachusetts.

 

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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.”

~~~

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“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.