Category Archives: BLOG

A time for peace

“The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

 

A friend of mine died last week-end. Finding her was oh so hard, but she’s at peace and her trusty dog stayed by her side until help arrived. As the details are dealt with, and no one’s business but hers alone, it’s time to celebrate the woman she was.

Vanessa Packman was known by many in our small community and beyond. She was active in several groups, most of which supported animal welfare, and the celebration of what was good about our community.

But more than being the consummate volunteer and community supporter, Vanessa was a whimsical soul. She saw beauty and hope around many corners and dreamed of a better world for all, especially our animal friends.

Last year, for her 50th birthday celebration, her friends got together to host a surprise “Alice in Wonderland” themed garden party. Vanessa was most definitely surprised.

Vanessa arriving at her party

She quickly joined into the spirit of the occasion, donning a special gown just for the occasion.

‘Nessa in Wonderland

A buffet meal suitable to a garden tea party was presented along with the requisite cake and most thoughtful gifts.  As queen for the day, Vanessa reigned over the assembled group with aplomb. Her “Lady in Waiting”, KC, was never far from her side (and the food).

“Lady in Waiting”, KC

Whatever else was going on in her life, Vanessa always had time to talk to her friends, share the bounty of her garden, and ask after others’ families and wellbeing. Those who knew and cherished her will miss her bright smile and never-ending ideas for the betterment of all.

Cheers and “pinky up” my friend. Rest in Peace.

Vanessa and I at her garden party.

 

 

Also posted in caring, New Brunswick, seasons Tagged , , , |

Surviving the cold!

If you live pretty much anywhere in the world, I hope you are surviving the cold. It’s bitter, and frightening. The bright winter sunlight deceives you into thinking it’s nice “out there”, but trust me, it isn’t. One step outside the door and your nostrils freeze shut and your eyes water. It is not fit for man (in the generic sense) nor beast. Even our dog, Harley, who normally LOVES the cool weather is unwilling to venture out for very long. I can’t blame him. It’s cold on his feet for sure.

For a photographer, this extreme cold (unless you are into arctic adventures) is just plain brutal. It’s too cold for gear to function well. Batteries last about a nano-second. Forget fill flash and those other fancy techniques. Oh, and your tripod or monopod legs either won’t open or will take eons to extend to their full length. Yesterday it was colder here than in the Arctic! With windchill we reached a balmy -40ºC. It’s slightly better today. A delightful -32ºC ‘they’ say.

So, what’s one to do? Find something to shoot from inside your home, of course. 

macro shot of ice on a window in winter

Reminiscent of sea foam on the beach, this is, in fact, a macro shot of the ice that formed on the inside of my office window, and every other window in the house, overnight. Every day we’ve had to melt it, chip it out, and wipe up the ensuing mess. But, we are fortunate. At least we are warm. And the ice crystals are rather pretty to look at, aren’t they?

The Weather Network has claimed that this brutal cold airmass situation will come to an end tomorrow. That’s good news. Of course, once it warms up some we can look forward to a week-long snowfall. But hey, that’s winter here in the “Merry Times” of eastern Canada. We’ve all grown up with it and learned to, if not like it, at least live with it.

It’s a new year and I wish you all a wonderful one. May the sun shine on your life and your troubles be few and far between.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with another tip for surviving the cold – let your imagination soar. Write something. Photograph something. Read something. Exercise your mind and, if you’re brave, your body. Happy New Year!

macro photograph of ice on a window in winter

Footprints in the sand? Or not?

Footprints on the beach? Look closely. If the illusion makes you feel warm all over, so much the better!

Also posted in photography, seasons, winter Tagged , , , , , |

New Year – New Opportunities

As the bubbly beverages are shared tomorrow night, take a moment to reflect on the year gone by and the new year arriving at midnight. Look for the good things like what you have accomplished, how strong you’ve been, the generosity you’ve shown to others.

Then, on that positive note, look a head and plan to build on those things. Set a goal or ten for the coming. months. Maybe you’ll actually finish that project you’ve had in mind, possibly started, and abandoned because you’ve been “too busy”. Make time – for yourself and to be with those you care about. Be grateful for the good things, take care of yourself, and stop stressing about the things you can’t control.

Even though the cold outside is bitter, the sky is grey and the roads slippery at this time of year, slow down and look around. There is beauty in the simplest of things.  Even a dollar store plastic ornament takes on character and strength when you change the way you see it.

And now the boss (Harley), Joel and I wish you all a happy, healthy and successful 2018!

Also posted in appreciation, photography, winter Tagged , , |

Christmas time

It was a White Christmas

Right on time the snow began to fall on Christmas Day making it one of the more picturesque ones we’ve had in a few years. It put a damper on travel plans for some people, but for those who didn’t need to go anywhere, it was a wonderful day to curl up at home, relax, perhaps read a book or watch a movie, and enjoy the company family and friends. Even though there were only three for our celebration (myself, hubby and pooch) it was a nice, quiet day. There was time for conversation, relaxation and appreciation for the things we have. Since this year Joel didn’t have to battle his way through the snow to work, we could sit back and enjoy the day.

I made a centrepiece with the flowers that the Smyth family gave me and it brightened our table for yesterday’s dinner and today’s breakfast.

The Holiday Bird

Since there were only two of us for dinner, we decided to forego the traditional turkey in favour of a more manageable roast chicken. It turned out well. There are enough leftovers for today’s dinner, but not so many that we’ll be sick of it in a few days.

Since our day was filled with joy, peace and happy thoughts, we wish the same for our friends and family as we start to wrap up the Christmas celebrations and prepare for the start of a new year.

We wish the best for you in 2018 – health and happiness throughout the year.

Also posted in Christmas, Christmas decor, New Brunswick, seasons, winter Tagged , , |

Winter Solstice

It has happened. Twenty minutes ago was the official “Winter Solstice”, indicative of seasonal change. Today, depending on your point of view, is either the shortest day or longest night of the year.

For the optimists among us, it means the end of declining daylight and the beginning of lengthening days as a prelude to the warmth of spring and summer. It also means it’s only a few very short days until that most emotional of all “Christian” holidays – Christmas.

Advertising agencies, toy companies, merchandisers and retailers are bombarding us with advertisement after advertisement lauding the perfect family Christmas. Even charities are getting in on that act. We are told that, in order to truly celebrate the season properly, we must gather around the dining room table, laden with a feast fit for royalty, and be surrounded by our nearest and dearest.

For many the reality is quite different. How many children will go to bed hungry Christmas Eve and wake up on what should be the most joyous day of the year to find nothing under their Christmas tree, if indeed they even have one at all? How many lonely elderly folks will sit and stare at the phone or the front door hoping for a call or a visit from someone they care about? Many families are separated, of necessity, due to work or other commitments. Sisters and brothers, parents, children and grandchildren scattered across this vast country or even around the world. And what about the homeless, ill or otherwise tortured souls that we try to ignore at the best of times, and especially when they intrude on our own happiness? What kind of celebration will they have?

There are so many TV shows that celebrate conspicuous consumption. Armloads of merchandise, worth a small fortune, are given away to screaming, grasping hoards of people in the audiences who, in all likelihood, already have all of the appliances and goodies that they need – and more.

Regardless of your religious beliefs (or none), perhaps we should think more of others at this time of year, in fact, all year long. A new season has begun and it’s a wonderful time to look around, offer a helping hand up to those who need it, and to celebrate with heartfelt gratitude if we are among the fortunate ones.

To all of my friends, family, customers and acquaintances, I wish you joy this season. Whatever holiday you celebrate, I hope it brings you and those you care about great happiness and that the coming New Year will lift hearts and spirits. And please, take a moment to think about others. Be kind and generous most especially with your time, your attention to those who need it.

Merry Christmas – Happy Holidays – Happy Hanukkah – Happy Everything!

Also posted in Christmas, Christmas decor, photography, seasons, winter Tagged , , |

First snow of the season

Although it’s not officially winter yet (Solstice is on the 21st this year), it’s not unusual to have the first snow of the season long before now. In fact, what is unusual is NOT to have any accumulation of snow yet.

Last night we had our first ‘real’ snow of the season (previous flurries hardly count). It was the heavy, wet stuff that clings to branches tenaciously. Children, anticipating their Christmas holiday, were no doubt excited to discover the ground and trees covered in white. Anyone who had to travel today was probably less excited by the prospect of slushy or icy road conditions.

But, this is Canada and yes, folks, we have winter. With the climate change we’ve been experiencing, it seems to be arriving a bit later than it used to, but it still arrives. It is hard to get in the ‘Christmas spirit’ without at least some white stuff on the ground, especially without having children around to build the excitement.

What we do have, though, is a pretty scene out there while it lasts. It’s enough to have me playing Christmas music on the stereo, baking some cheesecake, cookies – rum balls, of course, and shortbreads. At last it feels like the season has begun.

Also posted in Canada, Christmas, photography, seasons

Winter is a-comin’

Hoar frost in the morning

After yesterday’s torrential downpours the temperature dropped quickly and we woke up this morning to a sure sign that winter is a-comin’ – hoar frost coating everything. Those sharp little shards outlined every twig, weed and even the leaves on the ground.

 

As the days grow markedly shorter and colder, even the dog is content to remain indoors most of the time once he’s had his daily 5k walk and a good 10-minute flat-out run to stretch his very, very long legs.

Harley likes his creature comforts.

But it’s also the season of cheerful decorations – pretty bows, colourful and sparkly balls on the Christmas tree with happy striped candy canes dangling from branches.

 

 

So, even the signs of the end of autumn and the beginning of winter, decaying leaves ready to fertilize the ground for next spring, sparkle in the sunlight when rimmed with frost – a not-so-gentle sign of things yet to come.

Also posted in seasons, winter

Gorgeous mid-autumn day

What a gorgeous mid-autumn day for a drive in the country. I took the back road, the slow road, to Hampton this morning to join two friends for lunch and some ‘catch up’ time today. What a gorgeous day for it. The sun was shining brightly and the sky was clear blue. There was very little wind so the 0ºC didn’t feel quite as cold as it otherwise would have.

Doe, a deer, a female deer…

Just after I left home, the first thing I saw was three deer grazing in my neighbour’s hay field. Needless to say, when I stopped the car to take their photo, they were on high alert since it’s the middle hunting season. Theoretically they are close enough to human habitation to be safe from bullets, but we all know, in the excitement of the moment, some hunters might forget that small detail.

Out on the highway some creative individual(s) have built a few inukshuks. One in particular got my attention – it’s simple message being “A person was here”. It takes talent and patience to balance the stones so well to mimic the human form and remain stable. This has been there for quite some time, through the seasons and a variety of seasonal weather events as well.

Inukshuk

Once I got in to Hampton I realized I was MUCH to early to go to the restaurant, so I headed over to the Rotary Nature Park for a short walk. It was lovely in there. Even devoid of leaves, the trees provided some protection from the nippy breeze and the dried leaves on the ground warned me that there were ‘critters’ near by.

#HamptonRotaryNaturePark

Looking around I looked for the source of the crunching sounds…

Not here…

But there…

Grey squirrel with nut

He (or she) was proud of his find. Moments later a couple came walking by so the squirrel quickly climbed the nearest tree, hanging on to his treasure, and then leaped from branch to branch to take it home to his nest high up in another tree.

After watching him and his friends play for a while I headed off to #TheMatchFactoryRestaurant for lunch with my friends, Judi and Bev. Judi is Harley’s dog-mother and takes her role as honorary ‘auntie’ most seriously. With the cooler weather approaching she felt he needed to augment his wardrobe and presented him with this lovely monogrammed fall ‘coat’.

Although not sure at first, he warmed up to the idea! THANKS, Auntie Judi!

 

Also posted in Autumn, Fall Foliage, photography, seasons

And the winner is…

Seventeen people responded to my request for help in choosing an image, explaining their choices and suggestions for how the image might be most effectively used. I thank you all. Your comments were thoughtful and insightful! Two photos tied for most popular, #1 and #4 with #2 coming in a close second, #5 in third spot and poor #3 got not a single vote – but that’s ok. That’s what the game was all about.

#1 Red and White Christmas ball

This image stirred everyone’s imagination, in most cases remind them of moments from their childhood laying under the family Christmas tree looking up and fantasizing about the celebrations and gifts to come.

#4 Red and White Christmas ball

And this one tied for the honour! I think Bluette Higgins expressed it best when she said, “I like #4 the best. There’s just enough red to catch the eye, but the focus is more on texture and I like the way the indication of stripes in the branch works as counterpoint to the textures in the ball. With the blurred earth tones and blue sky; it all works together very well. A close second would go to #1 because of the interesting angle. It’s like looking up from the bottom of a Christmas tree, and the shot has a generally festive feel. I think either would work well as a Christmas card – one unconventional, the other more traditional.”

So again, I thank you all. To be utterly fair, each name was put on a slip of paper and inserted into a glass vase to be shaken (not stirred) and drawn by my hubby.

17 names in a bowl

 

And the winner is!

As soon as I get her address, her prize will be in the mail – a 2018 calendar featuring photos taken in Ireland last spring! Congratulations!

Also posted in appreciation, photography

It’s been a year

Mum and Me at her 83rd birthday party, 3 months before

Hard to believe that she passed away a year ago today. The call came shortly after 6:a.m. After two weeks in Palliative Care at the #SaintJohnRegionalHospital, Mum slipped away.

For quite a while she’d been struggling with cancer and she told us that she’d reached a point where she was tired. She wanted to wait until all of her kids made it home to say goodbye, and she did that. Bill got here from Calgary, Jerry and Bob from Ontario, and the rest of us were already around the area. She got to visit with us, several of her grandkids, nieces, nephews, siblings, spouses, cousins and friends. For a while there was a steady stream of visitors to her photo and memory-laden room – as one by one, alone or in small groups, we had a chance to share memories with her and each other and make peace with the reality of her impending death. Even so, that phone call was heart wrenching, as were the calls I then had to make to let everyone else know.

The next couple of days are a blur in my memory – visiting the funeral home with Bob and making arrangements, ordering flowers, answering phone calls and then being there for the two-day visitation. Then there was the funeral itself. Through it all there were hugs, tears and, as she would have wanted, laughter.

It took me 42 years to find her and I enjoyed 24 years getting to know my mother (and the rest of our family) before she left. I wouldn’t have missed that experience for the world. RIP Mum.

Also posted in caring, death, family Tagged , |