Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pure Gold ~ Random Memory #3 ~ Iran

Painted by my friend Thackray Seznec while expecting her second child in Bahrain. Thackray is a talented artist who has a keen eye for small details that define a moment, or place and her ability to capture them with a few brush strokes is remarkable. Her Mother and Child is an accurate depiction of clothing and accessories worn by many women in the Middle East....what Thackray didn't know was that her painting could have been a portrait of Goli, the friend I left behind in Iran.

Goli, Amir and their two year old son, Essie, lived in a small apartment downstairs in our house in Tehran. The arrangement began when Amir, who worked in the same office as my husband, noticed we had the extra space. We agreed they could live in the house rent free. Amir would help with some of the heavier chores and he and Goli would be available to look after our children on evenings when we had social obligations. At the time, I wondered if we were making a huge to the country, I had no idea what I might be in for by accepting this unknown family into our lives, but it was one of the best decisions we ever made. In turn, Goli and Amir were able to save enough money to eventually buy their own home. As my Farsi improved, our combined families formed a tight knit group, despite our colliding cultures and the Iranian revolution on the horizon.

There was one area that caused total bafflement on Goli's part. While I could understand the gold bracelets she so proudly wore represented Amir's esteem and her marital insurance, Goli couldn't fathom my lack of adornment and tangible proof of my husband's affection. It was a conversation we would have repeatedly.

Random Memory #3 ~ Iran

We are sitting around the table in my blue and white tile kitchen and Essie, as usual, is nestled on his mother's lap. Goli jingles her stack of gold bangles and remarks that she does not have as many bracelets as a recently married cousin. Amir gives his wife a look that can only be described as ineffable and says, "if I could, I would cover you in gold."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nocturne in Blue ~ The Dooryard at Night

Processed in blue, View on Black and View on Black

Dooryard is one of my favorite Mainer expressions. Two little words stitched together creating a mental image of home, toys in the yard, interrupted chores and a glimpse of regional life in our state. Doah yahd, " The Wicked Good Guide to Mainah English" defines dooryard:

n., The front lawn or front of the house.
~ Submitted by Russ Clavette ~

I doubt you will find this word in the OED. What a pity since they added unfriend as the word of the year, 2009. Unfriend is the internet equivalent of the cold shoulder, of being dropped or locked out of a site and all this is accomplished with a surgical and precise click. The OED defines it this way:

unfriend - verb - To remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as facebook.
As in " I decided to unfriend my roommate on facebook after we had a fight."

It sounds so unforgiving! As words go, I prefer the welcoming hodge podge of life in a Maine dooryard. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brushed with Light

View in my photo stream here and here.

I really do need a bumper sticker with the warning "I brake for light" !! Like most of my photographer friends, I always have a camera tucked in my bag because the best captures are the ones you rarely see coming. I have doubled back on country roads for shabby houses, rustic barns, forlorn windows and lovely Maine seascapes that unexpectedly open up on coastal routes where one often sees no water at all.

On this January afternoon, the light was delicately brushing the tree tops and illuminating Blue Hill Mountain with a view below painted in blue/gray tones. I only had moments before my gilded trees and the bronzed ice in the bay disappeared in the approaching night.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bone Cold

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on "The growing appeal of Scandinavian fiction, existential malaise and bad coffee"

Laura Miller writes "Take that wintery landscape and add a dead body, then take that mopey main character and make him a sleuth trying to figure out who's responsible for the corpse. Double check to make sure we're not far from the Arctic Circle, and suddenly you have the recipe for an international best seller."

For years I have been a Kurt Wallander fan, the flawed but intuitive policeman, from  Henning Mankell's bleak detective series. I was instantly hooked when I began reading his descriptions of  Ysted and Malmo and the winter deep freeze of his Swedish countryside. On Flickr, one can search through millions of tagged photos and I found bibbi.nelson's photo stream and her evocative images of Malmo...Wallander's world! I followed the seasons of her city and understood the soft muted tones of her images as well as if they were my own.

Laura Miller goes on to say, "Like the Arctic cold, the rigor is bracing, it transports us to a world where charm and glamor barely exist and count for little when they do, a world refreshingly free of flimflam, hype or irrational exuberance. What matters is putting one foot in front of the other and not stopping."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Store Bought Tomatoes in Summer and Winter Windows ~ A splash of color in compositions of red and yellow.

This is a root vegetable time of year in Maine and anything more exotic than a potato is probably racking up frequent flier miles to get here. Even in Spring, when more southern states are enjoying those first ripe berries with cream, our ground is frozen and covered with snow. Alas, it's still January and our coldest month is looming while I dream of fiddleheads nestled by ice cold woodland streams.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


"Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont" finally bubbled up to the top of our NetFlix list and landed in our mailbox. Joan Plowright plays her character with exquisite nuance in a gentle story about an unlikely friendship that bridges generational gaps. Her character reminded me of Mary whose hands I photographed June 20, 2009. Mary, born and raised in Topsham, Maine, who knows every rock, inlet and cove of Maquoit Bay, the names of every wildflower on Mere Point....and Mary, who describes it all in language that is both eloquent and precise. These are hands that have grasped the oars of countless boats, raised a family, painted landscapes, planted gardens and hands that she extended to me in friendship a long time ago. Mary....beloved.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Indulgence ~ Random Memory #2 ~ Texas

A sample of what's on offer at the Maine Grind in Ellsworth, Maine. Random Memory #2 ~ Texas

I am barefoot playing in an empty lot with my friends when I step on a shard of glass. Blood spreads over the sparse scrubby grass and I crawl home on hands and knees. I hear the drone of the vacuum cleaner as I pound on the door for what seems like hours and, eventually, my parents investigate. My father wraps my foot in an old green terry cloth towel which instantly turns crimson and we set off in search of a doctor's office that might still be open on a Saturday afternoon. The doctor says I am lucky, a fraction of an inch deeper would have severed the tendon.

Two weeks later my third grade class is performing in a pageant dedicated to nutrition. My mother has dressed me in a tutu from one of my ballet recitals (yes, Down East Dilettante, we have this in common!) All the vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry, dairy products and grains are lined up on the stage. I do not represent anything from a healthy food group. I am a cream puff on crutches.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

"Do you want fries with that?"

Sue Grafton's fiesty detective, Kinsey Milhone, "swoons over QPs with cheese"....not the healthiest  fare, but while we're at the Golden Arches, is there anything more delectable than fries right out of the hot oil and sprinkled liberally with salt? Sadly, they are a distant memory for me, but our Maine seagulls love them! I took these photos while parked at MacDonalds in Ellsworth, Maine where my attention soon turned to texture and reflections.

...and one from MacDonalds in Belfast, Maine. Can too many fries cause a lift-off malfunction?

Last lingering look at Horsepower Farm

I have finally finished uploading the last of my photos to Flickr from our day at Horsepower Farm. For a more in depth look, please click here.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ironing ~ Random Memory #1 ~ Bahrain

My aunt ("Udie") is one of my best friends and we can talk and laugh together for hours. She is my source for family lore and her stories give life to the personalities of those I never knew, but whose traits I have, in many cases, inherited....or so I'm told! On my last trip to Texas, she wanted me to have some of my great grandmother's embroidered napkins, pointing out that I and my daughter, JCB, are the only ones in the family who bother to iron. Once home, this treasure from my personal history was soaked, laundered and pressed and on a whim, I photographed the finished result.

The date is Dec. 31, 2008 and this is one of my earliest uploads to Flickr.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sepia and Antique Tones: Eliminating distractions to see the details.

I adore everything about the Christmas season. The days are rich and full with preparation and anticipation and this year I had my whole family gathered together...albeit after some airport and weather related angst. The house is very quiet now; I have wrapped the 'color' in tissue paper and stored it away under the attic eaves. I can see the rooms more clearly. Cherished objects regain their importance as shapes and the space around them no longer compete with the greens and reds and golds of the Holiday.

In photography, the infinite range of subtle to vivid color is very important to me, but sometimes when I pare down images, light, shapes and shadows speak for themselves.

Friday, January 8, 2010


The Big Chicken Barn  is a familiar landmark on Rt. 15 just south of Ellsworth, Maine. The creaky old structure is filled to the brim with antiques (I'm using the word loosely), collectibles, books and magazines. It's an endlessly entertaining destination and no matter what time of the year you decide to go, you will probably not leave empty handed.  Catching the last of the month long December sales has become an annual mother/daughter pilgrimage so off we went on December 27 th in the middle of a deluge. It was the kind of downpour that reminded me of the wall of rain that used to slam into the windows of our flat in Hong Kong! The beautiful snow from our day at Horsepower Farm quickly turned to gray mush, but we hardly you can see, there are treasures inside!
I photograph windows while JCB searches for books. The little winter vignettes viewed from the  rustic interior have captured my attention!
One of the things I love best about browsing through the second floor is the selection of old and out of print books. It's always a reliable source and it is here that I have found Kate Atkinson's early books Human Croquet and Emotionally Weird and, best of all, Nicholas Monsarrat's Kappillan of Malta which I have bought for anyone who needs a shot of hope and faith and a really good story.

When we finally leave, our allergies are on full throttle from all the dust and generations of cat hair. The rain is coming down even harder (if possible!) and the back of the car is full!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Parlor Forestry....or how else do you get a nine foot tree out of the house?

Just before the house "woodsman" cut down the tree, I photographed a lovely Christmas present from my daughter. The needlepoint ornament is her own design, depicting The Jonathan Fisher House, an historic gem in Blue Hill, Maine.

Monday, January 4, 2010


I took this photo, in January 2009, of a little bunch of posies in my kitchen window. It was cold and snowy outside, very much like it is today. I posted it to Flickr and it is in my set "Our Haunted House" and the title is "Happy". Oh yes, our house is haunted, at least that is the conventional wisdom in town and a few family members have heard the voices of women up on the third floor. Once, I thought I felt someone brush against my arm while I was up there doing a few chores, but I really couldn't say for sure.

This morning began like most mornings do until I noticed I had lost the diamond in my engagement ring. I am the third woman to wear the ring in my husband's family, so the sight of the empty prongs was horrifying. We searched through bed linen, ran our hands over carpets, peered in sinks and in pockets. I don't think there was any place we did not look. At some point I remembered our elderly shih tzu had not had her thyroid meds so I plopped her on the kitchen table for her morning dose. Light was streaming through the window shining on an old wooden chair...and there was my diamond on the edge of the seat. How odd to find it there! Coincidence, luck or my unseen friends? 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Night Falls on a Blizzard

Our lilac tree! Maine

Good Metaphor for a Disorganized Beginning to 2010!

Fragonard and photography! The shelves were a little disorganized at the Big Chicken Barn in Ellsworth, Maine, reminding me of a few chores I need to tackle at home, but it is so much more fun to grab my camera and go! Mainers, enjoy the snowfall! It's so pretty outside! Here's some good music for the decade sung by the Seznec Brothers at home:

Older posts you might enjoy....