Category Archives: winter

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 BLOG, photography, seasons 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, BLOG, photography 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 BLOG, Christmas, Christmas decor, New Brunswick, seasons 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 BLOG, Christmas, Christmas decor, photography, seasons Tagged , , |

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 BLOG, seasons

Winter Sunday Sunrise

For many people winter isn’t the most joyous of the seasons. I can be one of those, whining about the cold, the ice, the aches and pains. But, since I have no choice to to head out every day for the benefit of my canine companion Harley, I’m working on retraining myself to see the beauty in all of the seasons.

We walk early in the morning, usually just before or during sunrise. Normally I take a camera, or at least my cell phone with its camera, when we walk. Today, unfortunately, I forgot to take either with me when we set out for our daily stroll down Mulberry Lane. In hindsight, it wasn’t unfortunate at all. Mulberry Lane runs between two large hayfields and the view in any direction is quite lovely. Sometimes the openness of the area is a detriment – like when the wind is blowing a gale across those fields, whipping any available snow into a frenzy that stings cheeks, eyes and fingertips.

Other times, like today, the air was exceptionally warm for late February and the fog lay heavily over the fields, obscuring both sights and sounds. For once we couldn’t hear any traffic on the nearby highway. Our view consisted of the tops of trees poking above the low lying fog clouds. So quiet, so peaceful, it made our pre-dawn walk a joy to the senses.

Once we got home I rushed to get my camera set up on the deck to capture what was left of the most eerie but pleasant feeling from our morning’s endeavours.

 

Sunny winter sunrise in Picadilly, NB

 

Winter sunrise on the hills of Picadilly, NB

Needless to say my constant companion was close at paw to oversee my efforts.

I can barely remember a time when my shadow wasn’t present for everything I do.

Harley watching sunrise

Every day is a gift, meant to be enjoyed, each moment appreciated for what it is.

Also posted in appreciation, BLOG, seasons, sunrise Tagged , |

Keeping spirits bright

 

The holidays are over and keeping spirits bright through the dismal days of January and February is far from easy. For me it goes back to my vow to slow down and become more consciously creative.

I’ve played the violin since I was about three years old. I grew up in a house full of music. My mother, a former concert pianist, taught music lessons in our home. My father was a piano tuner and an accomplished pianist himself. Games consisted of listening to musical notes and learning to identify them, or the types of chords etc. I grew up studying various instruments, but the violin was my primary focus.

When I was 16 my parents bought me this violin. It has been in my then-boyfriend’s family for quite a while, fiddled upon by his grandfather. It didn’t seem to be anything special, but it had a lovely tone. Wooden, and particularly stringed, instruments mellow with age and use and the sound becomes deeper, more resonant and warm with time. Even though it hadn’t been played in decades, I could feel it the moment I first drew a bow across the strings.

That violin travelled with me through years as Concert Mistress with the then-fledgling #NewBrunswickYouthOrchestra, through a term at the #RoyalAcademyofMusic in London, England, and through my music studies at #AcadiaUniversity upon my return. Practice wasn’t hard for me; it was an emotional and creative outlet.

Then things changed. Life happened. Instead of pursuing that creative career I turned to teaching school, marriage, having and raising a son. More life happened. More career changes and suddenly I realized that literally decades had passed during which I had rarely even touched my violin.

When I met my birth mother and greatly extended family 24 years ago I learned that my grandfather was renowned as a fiddler. Who knew?

I make my living as a photographer and writer now. In planning for an upcoming creative writing workshop in Ireland this spring I talked to #Dr.GerardCollins who will be leading the event. During the past couple of years we’d become friends, frequenting the same cozy coffee shop in downtown Sussex. In the course of our conversation about the workshop, I happened to mention that, in my youth, I played the violin. He went on to say that he dabbled with the guitar and some of the other potential workshop participants also played an assortment of musical instruments, or sang or both, and that I should bone up in preparation for some inspiring musical evenings.

Challenged, I came home and dug my old violin out of the closet, tuned it up and began to play – albeit badly. But it was fun and after just a few minutes I began to feel that ‘vibe’, that connection between the violin and me. And from that was born my commitment to a year of creativity – both visually and verbally.

So, while I am playing away a little bit, I am also working on my photographic techniques, combining two of my passions – music and visual arts.

The music and this old instrument have become my bridge to greater creativity.

The sound pours out of these worn holes straight from my soul.

New pegs clash with the old wood on the scroll but were needed to hold the strings in tune.

Not unexpected in an instrument that was originally crafted in 1731 in Paris by a luthier named Gavinies. Yes, my violin really is that old!

Gavinies’ violins are reputed to boast a sweet sound, and mine does. It’s deep, and rich and mellow with a vibrance that belies its battered appearance.

Thank you, Gerard, for nudging me back to my first love – making melodies sing.

 

Also posted in BLOG, photography Tagged , , |

Leaping Joyfully Into a New Year

Happy Harley _DSF2097 - Version 2

On a bright and sunny winter day, no one exhibits greater enthusiasm than a young dog leaping joyfully into the new year. Yesterday was just such a day and one that Harley thoroughly enjoyed while frolicking in the snow.

There are two ways to approach the Canadian winter: run like hell heading south, or embrace the good while preparing for the bad. Some of us have a choice; many don’t. I prefer to adopt Harley’s approach to life in general, and winter in particular – bundle up and leap in. He likes nothing better than to run full tilt through the snow, leaping and burrowing into piles of the cold, white stuff and then surfacing to run some more. He is the embodiment of unfettered joy.

So as we move quickly into this new year, stay tuned for news about some terrific new projects designed to bring joy to you as you follow my blog through 2016 and beyond. I am always grateful for those who comment and share my posts and look forward to your comments. Thanks so much!

And, may you all have a joyful year ahead.

 

 

Also posted in BLOG, dog, photography, seasons, winter weather Tagged , |

It’s spring – somewhere

It's spring.  The calendar says so.
It’s spring.
The calendar says so.

The calendar and all of the media pundits cheerfully announced that spring officially arrived two days ago. Sadly, I think they forgot to tell Mother Nature to kick Old Man Winter out – way out. Snowbanks in our neck of the woods range from 8-10 feet high and many well exceed 25 feet. The world is white.

My husband spent two hours in the wee hours of the morning clearing the walkway and driveway of the latest snowfall from last night. Since he has to work a night shift tonight, he’s napping right now. Imagine his excitement when he wakes up to discover that, although the snowfall has abated a bit, the winds have increased dramatically and the temperature is plummeting. The howling wind has blissfully filled in all the places that he cleared earlier today with drifts of snow. I suspect he will be less than happy when he opens his eyes.

In my next life, should the fates determine that I have to live in an area that suffers severe winters, I want to be reincarnated as a bear. They get to gorge on food to fatten up for the season, hibernate through the worst of the winter, birth their young while semi-conscious mostly unaware of the process, and roar loudly when they’ve had enough of the #never-ending-winter! Sounds good to me.

In the meantime, I’ll crank up the propane fireplace, grab the cat, a good book, a warm blanket and a hot cup of tea and make the best of it. See y’all when spring actually arrives.

Also posted in BLOG, Canada, cold, New Brunswick, seasons, spring Tagged , , |

St. Patrick’s Day

Shamrock, Baileys and Guinness - all you need to celebrate St. Paddy's Day

Shamrocks, Baileys and Guinness – all you need to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day

I grew up in Saint John, New Brunswick. The city’s claim to fame used to be that it is Canada’s most Irish city. After the past month of incessant snowstorms, it’s latest claim is having been subject to the most snowfall (431cm  or 170 inches – that’s FOURTEEN FEET of the white stuff) since 1962! Living beyond the city limits (by 70km) I suspect we’ve had even more dumped in our yard and driveway.

Spring is literally just around the corner, according to the calendar on my wall. However, I suspect it will be quite a while before this mountain of frozen white stuff will be gone and signs of spring poke through inches of solid ice beneath the snow. It’s been a brutal winter in the past four or five weeks.

Nonetheless, get out tomorrow and hoist a tankard in honour of the day. Sláinte! If nothing else, you won’t care about the weather, at least for a little while!

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