Monday, November 30, 2009

Eagles at Conowingo

(pretend to be surprised)
A couple times MevetS walked away
left me to *guard* his camera
let me click the shutter

maybe feel like *one of them*
the people with proper camera equipment
gathered there like paparazzi
(this is only a portion of their number)

I like crooked horizons, btw
so there!
Distorted like the sight of tens of eagles
(closer to hundreds, almost)
soaring over abandoned car parts
and bits of garbage washed ashore
at the foot of a dam

fishing among fishermen
and stray cats
scavenging for prey
looking for life to take
and unequivocally overlooking us
to their honor

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I mean to make some point, but don't have the patience with myself tonight to actually get there.


I'm pretty convinced the Conowingo Dam in Maryland is THE place to go on the East Coast to see bald eagles in winter.

It's spectacular!  Go there!

(bring your long lens, though)

I've never seen so many eagles at one time, in so many plumages... juvenile eagles are gorgeous!

The setting doesn't befit them, but still it manages to be memorable and goosebump-making.

I'll remember the people there with me and the sound of their cameras (hundreds of shutters clicking at once like the sound I imagine on the red carpet at a movie premiere) and feeling very, very lucky to have the chance to witness such a thing.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shadow shot

Someone needs to go on a diet.


Saturday, November 28, 2009


This is Otis... he's a photographer from Virginia. We met today at the Conowingo Dam in Maryland where we were both photographing the bald eagles that congregate there in the winter.

Truth be told, with my little lens, I was mostly photographing the other people that were photographing the eagles...

Talk about camera envy!

I hesitate to call anyone I met today a stranger... there's a certain camaraderie that exists naturally among birders and others who enjoy the outdoors. I do know, however, that many of us prefer to remain behind the lens. Otis was an exception to that and I was glad for his smile (and to know that much of his set-up, intimidating as it looks, is homemade and affordable.)

More about the eagles in another post.

This photo is #2 in my 100 strangers project. Find out more about the project and see pictures taken by other photographers at Flickr 100 Strangers or

Friday, November 27, 2009

Skywatch Friday: A Poet's Bridge

Clouds and the vast marshes that surround the Sidney Lanier Bridge near Jekyll Island, GA.

Visit here for more Skywatch Friday posts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Praise and thanksgiving

"Praise the light of late November,
the thin sunlight that goes deep in the bones.
Praise the crows chattering in the oak trees;
though they are clothed in night, they do not despair.
Praise what little there's left:
the small boats of milkweed pods, husks, hulls,
shells, the architecture of trees.
Praise the meadow of dried weeds:
yarrow, goldenrod, chicory,
the remains of summer.
Praise the blue sky that hasn't cracked.
Praise the sun slipping down behind the beechnuts,
praise the quilt of leaves that covers the grass:
Scarlet Oak, Sweet Gum, Sugar Maple.
Though darkness gathers,
praise our crazy fallen world;
it's all we have, and it's never enough."

Barbara Crooker - Radiance

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The king is dead* and the chessboard reshuffles uncomfortably

Dear Powers-That-Be,

First off, can you just concentrate your energies on leaving well-enough alone, please?

You know, like, if it ain't broke, don't fix it?

We'd been at it this way for many, many years before you found yourself promoted and will be left with the legacy of your poor decisions for many, many years after you retire.

(We all might sympathize with your unspoken desire to leave some mark before you fade away into the sunset, but screwing around with a unit that for years has been a *high performer* makes no sense. We're not doing it wrong, for godsakes!)

Secondly, if you must insist on change for its own sake, please respect us enough to ask for our input. We and our clients will be directly affected by your penny-wise and pound-foolish decisions.

And if you think, as you seem to, that our clients don't need the direct, hands-on services of a social worker, well... it's been entirely too long since you've done fieldwork yourself.

Spend an afternoon with one of us on Bangs Avenue, dodging stray pit-bulls and drive-bys and the young mom who finally finished school and wants to work at home as a daycare provider. The state won't certify her there, though, (all those bullet holes in the siding) and she's got no money to move with. Plus there's her severely handicapped son who gets excellent services in his current school district.

Or on Springwood with the elderly lady who's days away from being put out of her house because a bank foreclosed on her landlord. She's got nowhere to go and I needed the time this week to wheel and deal with the bank to get her a cash-for-keys offer so she'll have money for a security deposit on a new place.

Instead you sent me to training to learn to do my secretary's job.

(As if I have the time to wear any more *hats*.)

Maybe sit at my desk for a day and explain to any one of my mentally-ill AND chemically-dependent clients (who call at least once a day, by the way) why I can't be there to help solve their current life-crisis-of-the-day because I'm too busy filing and making photocopies of contracts and chasing down repayment agreements because you insisted we don't need a secretary to do those things.

Oh and Mr. G. is off his meds again and dumpster-diving for leftovers. Maybe his Food Stamp worker will handle that.

(If building management doesn't evict him first for being a nuisance.)

You can't insist that we're doing a good job and then assiduously go about dismantling us.


Please don't insult us or our clerical staff by acting as if we're all interchangeable and replaceable. I know as much about bookkeeping as Louise knows about social work.

(I take that back. Louise could do my job in a minute, but you'd have to pay her a lot more than you do now.)

Lastly, don't you dare mess with our Christmas Party.


A chessman; a mere cog in the wheel

*Phil is fine. The rest of us, without him, well...

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Tuesday staff meetings do this to me. I apologize.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Boomer and Cricket favorite

"No, we're not interested in a subscription to Cat Fancy magazine. Now get off our porch."


Boomer and Cricket snuggling sometime in 2006. I'm looking through favorite photos... remembering bunnies from the past... planning to share for the next couple days.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Shades of brown

Couch with bunny to match

Saturday, November 21, 2009


"Hi. I'm Laura. Can I ask a favor?"

"Sure. What?"

This photograph was the favor I'd asked.
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I love people-watching. It's easy.

Approaching a stranger to ask for their photo is not.
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I'd been pacing up and down the boardwalk for nearly an hour, trying to get up the nerve to approach someone and ask. That in itself was a fun exercise... looking into people's faces for something interesting... imagining the stories one might tell if I worked up the courage to talk to them.

Most wouldn't even make eye contact.
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He'd said no the first time I asked. I smiled and thanked him, but didn't back away. We talked for a bit and eventually, I asked again. He agreed, reluctantly, wanting to remain anonymous. He relaxed enough to tell me about his street art; after thirty minutes or so I felt okay about taking out my camera. He never once froze, or smiled stiffly at me, or stopped talking. It felt kinda like magic, this thing that my camera let happen...
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How would you feel if a stranger approached you for a photo? What might make it enjoyable for you, or not?

So tell me... could you do it? Does the thought of photographing 100 strangers terrify you the way it does me?

It scares me. A lot. I'm shy! That's kinda how I know it's the right thing to do, the right direction to head in to stretch myself in unpredictable and meaningful ways. Once a week I'll try it. It's about photo-making yes, but more about stepping outside my own box and what feels comfortable to me. Maybe I'll get a good photo once in a while. Certainly I'll meet some interesting people who I never would otherwise. A camera is as good an excuse as any, I think.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Don't panic!

Probably I'll decide I hate it, too
This blog turned 4 this month
Change rejuvenates
I hope

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Wordless, but by no means quiet.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Song of the wave

I'm about climbing the walls with it getting dark so early and having so little time outdoors most days.

I'm so bored I'm actually cooking!


And I'm reading some, which is nice to have the time for again. This evening I re-read my tattered copy of Khalil Gibran's The Prophet... which I first read back in high school. There's an essay of his about gardening that I've been searching for, and haven't yet found, but I did come across this beautiful poem by him online and thought I'd share it...

The strong shore is my beloved
And I am his sweetheart.
We are at last united by love, and
Then the moon draws me from him.
I go to him in haste and depart
Reluctantly, with many
Little farewells.

I steal swiftly from behind the
Blue horizon to cast the silver of
My foam upon the gold of his sand, and
We blend in melted brilliance.

I quench his thirst and submerge his
Heart; he softens my voice and subdues
My temper.
At dawn I recite the rules of love upon
His ears, and he embraces me longingly.

At eventide I sing to him the song of
Hope, and then print smooth hisses upon
His face; I am swift and fearful, but he
Is quiet, patient, and thoughtful. His
Broad bosom soothes my restlessness.

As the tide comes we caress each other,
When it withdraws, I drop to his feet in

Many times have I danced around mermaids
As they rose from the depths and rested
Upon my crest to watch the stars;
Many times have I heard lovers complain
Of their smallness, and I helped them to sigh.

Many times have I teased the great rocks
And fondled them with a smile, but never
Have I received laughter from them;
Many times have I lifted drowning souls
And carried them tenderly to my beloved
Shore. He gives them strength as he
Takes mine.

Many times have I stolen gems from the
Depths and presented them to my beloved
Shore. He takes them in silence, but still
I give fro he welcomes me ever.

In the heaviness of night, when all
Creatures seek the ghost of Slumber, I
Sit up, singing at one time and sighing
At another. I am awake always.

Alas! Sleeplessness has weakened me!
But I am a lover, and the truth of love
Is strong.
I may be weary, but I shall never die.

--Khalil Gibran

There's something that happens about midway through this poem that causes me to laugh quietly... I'm not really sure what it is, but I love the smile it brings to my face.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A limerick

A wonderful bird is the pelican
His bill will hold more than his belican
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week
But I’m damned if I see how the helican

Can anyone see these birds and not smile?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Washing machine

Looking south from the Ocean Grove fishing pier

I was out this afternoon with my camera and all the other Looky-Lous to see what sort of havoc this week's nor'easter had wrought... the sea's still really angry-looking, but finally the wind's stopped howling.

End of weather report.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

To a sanderling

by way of explanation...

You're inescapable here
water comes and goes
hisses like fat
you run straight through it
(mostly ahead)
watching your toes
or the grains of sand that fall between

I love your frantic grace
your controlled panic

That you take the roaring alongside for granted
as if the world
is bound to shake every so often

Your world shimmers
is minute
and vast
your beak focused
looking for something, something, something
a single-minded obsession

(You're mine.)

OK... fess up! What common birds do you obsess over?

(I also have a thing for skimmers and blue jays. And all manner of ducks.)


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Comfort food

There's nothing better on a blistery autumn day than a properly made pot pie.

(or a woolly bear caterpillar)


Common folklore says the severity of the coming winter can be predicted by the amount of black on a woolly bear. It's believed that if a woolly bear caterpillar's brown stripe is thick, the winter weather will be mild and if narrow, the winter will be severe.

I'm guessing none of that mattered to the mantis.

(Click on the pic for a better view of the gory details)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Yes... I'm still adding to my collection of sanderling shots.

(They're to me like shoes are to other women, in that one can never have too many!)

My camera's CF card's gone wonky... this always happens... anyone have a guess why?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

How to photograph a tern

First find a marshy place
with a dock.

Around the dock, look for some comfortable pilings
where the bird might like to perch.

Then, on the pilings, photograph something for the tern
something beautiful and strange that will make it feel at home.

(I found a couple pelicans.)

Then wait with your camera.
Don't speak.
Don't move.

(Hide behind a piling if you have to.)

Sometimes a tern will come quickly
but it can just as well take hours.

Don't be discouraged if one doesn't come right away

Wait years if necessary
it doesn't mean that your photo won't be good.

When the bird comes
if it comes,
remain absolutely silent.

Wait until the bird poses for you
then quietly take frame after frame.

Move closer if you like.

Try not to cut off its tail feathers.

If you get too distracted or excited
and forget to show the best angle on the bird
or have too much pelican in the background
don't worry.

(You can fix most anything in PhotoShop later.)

Just photograph the bird
with the prettiest splash of blue for a background
or green if that's what you prefer
and remember to have fun.

Photograph the summer breeze, too
and the smell of the sunshine and the ruckus of the boat-tailed grackles.

Then wait for your bird to sing.

(With terns this is an optional step, of course.)

If it doesn't sing, don't be sad.
You did your best.

But if the bird sings,
it's a very good sign.

(Terns seem to spend a lot of time looking at their toes when they should instead be singing.)

It helps to have a great lens when taking photos of birds.

It also helps to have a friend willing to loan you such a lens
be warned tho
you'll want your own.

are you listening?


Monday, November 02, 2009

Too easily forgotten

A lecture and slide presentation yesterday sponsored by SHBO on NJ's native orchids has me reviewing photos from this place and drooling with the memory of it.

One problem with waiting forever to process photos is the forgetting of details that happens in between.


I've all these photos of drop-dead-gorgeous flowers and can hardly remember the name of one of them!

I'm thinking this one is Ragged Fringed Orchid, as the deeply fringed petals make the flower look pretty tattered.

Am I right? Anyone know?