Monday, February 28, 2011

Crossed Lines ~ Random Memory #25 ~ Iran


I recently came across this photo of the dinosaur on my bedside table. At twenty plus years old, it is one of the few landlines left in our house. Taken 1 April, 2009, I remember I had the flu, so this is evidence of my shrunken world of kleenex, tylenol and the camera I always have at hand! In my fuzzy state, I remember looking at the telephone, the curled cord and the pleasing contrast with the ebonized table as if I'd never seen it before...the most familiar objects can be under appreciated when we take them for granted.

Random Memory #25 ~ Iran

Batool is a smelly old crow of a woman who cleans the small apartment of our American friends, Anne and John. I always find her somewhat intimidating when she casts her dark, critical and frankly appraising eyes over me whenever I visit. Still, I can't help but notice she has a delicious sense of humor and Anne adores her.

There is no such thing as telephone privacy in Iran. If "someone" isn't listening in, then the lines are crossed. Most of the time I hear rapid fire Farsi instead of a dial tone when I pick up the receiver to make a call. Batool views this situation with great pleasure and spends many hours each day eavesdropping on Anne's telephone. In time, she can no longer remain a silent third party and offers advice to the callers on difficult mothers-in-law, marital discord, the price of vegetables in the market and problems with children. Born into another world, Batool would have been an excellent conflict mediator! Almost everyone thanks the unseen woman on the line.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Center of the Universe

Window ~ Town Hall

Our Town Hall is situated in the center of our small village with its lovely second story arched window gazing toward the bay. It is one of my favorite buildings in town. Its airy upstairs hall hosts concerts, plays, dances, meetings, elections and countless fundraisers. People dribble in downstairs to conduct other pay taxes and, perhaps, the two folks who have licensed their dogs. I went in good faith one year and was told "why bothah." Everyone knows you call the vet to find out who belongs to the occasional stray in your dooryard. Town Hall, the center of the universe with the Volunteer Fire Department and Post Office vying for position.

White bench

Town Hall with a view of "The Weekly Packet"

The assembled group this morning were all laughing about the taxpayer who complained they are behind the times because they don't take credit cards. An old fellow in line behind Peter said "you don't even have a TV" (we don't.) That story ran in our local newspaper twelve years ago!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


It was a week of atrocities in the news and, at home, one week since we lost little Shiner. I don't remember the weather much except for the glum cloud over our house which is not our usual disposition at all.

There was a hint of promise this morning; not evidence of spring's pale tender shoots, but a day that was crisp and Peter and I drove into Sunshine, Sunshine, Maine on Deer Isle. I realized I was not yet ready for spring as I looked at the dazzling light across the snow with trees casting long shadows. I love the flinty glints like rough diamonds across the surface of broken chunks of ice created by the ebb and flow of the tides. I could see a watercolor wash of open water beyond the frozen shore...and then the day had one more surprise in store for us...

This small scene took my breath away with its abstract patterns of shadow blending so seamlessly with the white fence.

Utter silence, only the two of us to witness these soft subtle colors and lovely reflections in the open water.

Peter saw the seal first as we crept down a road that was already bone jarring with frost heaves...perhaps a good thing, otherwise we might have missed him!

Sunshine, Maine 05

High banks of plowed snow make it almost impossible to pull off the road, but we fortunately found a spot. I thought surely the seal will hear the click of the car door, the sound of my breath, or sense movement on shore. He did! That glorious creature looked in my direction, arched his back and fanned his flippers several times in greeting before settling down again for his snooze in the sunshine.

I did not find the second surprise, which arrived as a comment on my previous post, until sometime later. Spindrift, Maine has honored me with a Stylish Blogger award and with very kind words that have touched me deeply. She is a new Maine coast blogger and a talented photographer, both intuitive and in tune with our world of rock, pine, salt spray and luminous light. Spindrift, Maine is a wonderful place to visit with her blend of no-nonsense New England wisdom and her eye for beauty.

Friday, February 18, 2011

With Love to Bahrain ~ Random Memory #24

With love to BahrainImage by smilla4 via Flickr

A collection of coffee pots from Bahrain.

Mubkharra, for the burning of incense.

Random Memory #24 ~ Bahrain

 The name Bahrain means two seas, although in ancient times this small archipelago was called Dilmun and legend supposes it might have been Eden, paradise on earth. Aquifers run from Saudi Arabia under the sea and across to Bahrain and in the old days, the island shimmered with the green haze of agriculture. Today, the skyline is that of a modern city.

This is not a political blog, but the week's news and escalating violence have made me sick with worry for the gentle people who live there and the friends we left behind. At home we say there are two Maines reflecting the economic differences between the southern and northern regions of our state. The same can be said of Bahrain, for beneath its tranquil surface there is another reality of discrimination and discontent which simmered for years until the explosive events at the Lulu (Pearl) roundabout.

The coffeepot and mubkharra, above, are symbols of the hospitality we experienced during the four years we lived in Bahrain. Our new home was a narrow bit of land just over thirty miles long. I remember, in those early days, how I used to open the thick curtains each morning out of habit. The sun, which rose at 4:00 a.m., was always the same, always shining down on the dun colored city of Manama. In time we adapted to the rhythm of a place most of the world never really thought about very much, in spite of its strategic value. Over the years we made excursions to beaches of shallow water that went on indefinitely, never seeming to reach our knees and hotter than a bath. We wandered through the souk, observed the date pickers climbing palms of dizzying heights and picniced in the sand desert exploring ruined castles left behind by the old sheikhs. There were trips on dhows, the captain unrolling his prayer rug, silhouetted against the setting sun as we made our way back to port. I loved the old city of Muharraq with its twisty lanes and traditional architecture with balconies of carved wood like lace....and our days punctuated by the beautiful call to prayer. I miss the ceremony of serving gawa, the cardamon scented pale coffee poured into small cups from pots with shapes that always made me think of pelicans. I miss our Bahraini friends and still remember the white rabbits that belonged to our neighbor's children. The wily rabbits continually escaped and, against all odds, cheerfully thrived in the vacant lot on the other side of our garden wall. I miss the sweet smell of oleander and jasmine that hung thickly around our front porch. I miss our friend Rahim who came and made vegetable soup for our children when they were sick with flu while we were away in Dubai. One more time, I would love to hear the joyful ululation of women at a wedding and I still carry the memory of Rahim's beautiful bride, Marziah, dressed in green and gold on their wedding day. They are all still there....and their children and grandchildren.

You can read other random memories of Bahrain here and here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Plucky Little Shih Tzu

Plucky little shih tzu!
Shiner Bock, 30 April, 1999 ~ 16 February, 2011

We said "goodbye" to Shiner today, I knew in my heart we would, although the trip to the vet's office was a scheduled routine visit. We listened to Greg as he listed options, but "end phase" was expressed too many times and we knew we had to let her go. When a dog physically begins to shut down, it happens so fast...faster than the humans who love them can absorb what their eyes are seeing and their heart refuses to acknowledge.

She was an anniversary present from Peter and weighed hardly anything at all. She made me think of dandelions gone to seed as she floated and bounced across the room. We already had our huge magnificent yellow lab and our vet, on meeting Shiner, said "Carol, this is a terrible mistake," but he was wrong. The two were inseparable. Shiner had a short period of grace when all was well. I can still see her, in those early years, racing across the lawn chasing balls, hair flying and plumy tail waving. She retained a bit of that joie de vivre right until the end.

Our little shih tzu developed allergies when she was just a few years old. Shiner was like the boy in a bubble and blood tests produced a mile long printout of all the things she could not tolerate. I gave her shots everyday until they no longer worked. There were medicated baths and her bedding was kept spotlessly clean. The list of medications grew longer and more experimental. She never complained and trusted us completely and without reservation.

Here comes Shiner!

There were years of daily walks, lab and shih tzu side by side, all through our small town. It was during these excursions that I first began snapping village scenes with my cameraphone and sending them to unlikely twosome part of my creative journey from the very beginning.  We were an odd trio and I couldn't begin to guess how many times a muddy battered pick-up truck slowed down with "what you got theah is the long and the shoht of it," or "who's walking who?" Even as late as November, until the snow made it impossible, Shiner raced up Blue Hill Mountain every morning with Peter.

Shiner Climbs the Mountain!

Shiner's decline started in earnest in December. Cooper, the gentleman's dachshund, joined our pack and family matters called us to Connecticut. She met those last challenges and chaotic weeks with an equanimity that would put most humans to shame.

Shih Tzu ~ Lion Dog

Legend has it that the origin of the shih tzu began in ancient China and Tibet. They are one of the oldest breeds of dogs, from at least 1000 BC.

The war years were difficult for the shih tzu; between 1940-1947 registrations dwindled to a total of sixty-one.

They are sturdy, energetic and very attached to their people, but appear aloof and arrogant with strangers.

Shih tzu are very intelligent and equally stubborn.

They are unusually calm dogs and seldom bark. As one friend put it years ago, "holding Shiner is like having a zen experience." Shiner, named after a Texas beer on a memorable day with a special cousin.

I miss you. Dream with the little angels sweet Shiner.

Smilla's buddy

Thursday, February 10, 2011

When the Day Ends

Night Falls on a Blizzard
Taken 2 January, 2010. I remember a fierce blizzard roared through that night. Light through the window illuminated the ghostly snow laden branches outside,

Candle light
Another image taken on 2 January, but in 2009. I loved the way the candle-lights left subtle reflections on the woodwork.

Setting sun reflected on Spring snow melt ~ 24 March 2009
A setting sun on spring snow melt, taken 24 March, 2009.

Dark World
The day before the Winter Solstice, 20 December, 2009 as I awaited word from JCB. Another storm and another Christmas with uncertain travel plans. Honestly, sometimes I wish Christmas was in July!

A shot through the cottage window at dusk, 13 August, 2009.

I always wonder if my camera will see the same dark shadows and reflected light when evening fades to night. I like the spontaneity of capturing the atmosphere as the day comes to a close so I seldom use a flash or a tripod. I love the unpredictable results and even the inevitable noise.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Something Fresh!

Blue Hill Spring

A Spring peek at our little town! Dear Dilettante, this weather won't last forever!

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Light Inside

A slick icy landscape and a series of storms have motivated me to look for winter light indoors. In my opinion, interiors are always prettiest at this time of the year and New Englanders build their houses to take full advantage of the sun. I was completely captivated by the shadows splashed across the wall on the day these were taken.

There is one more reason to post a bouquet of roses today. Yesterday was JCB's fourth blog anniversary. Time flies quickly when you are seeing the world through her artistic eyes! For me, she is the light inside.

I've recently become aware of another new blog, a boardinghouse reach, from Flickr contact, Linda Makiej.  Do have a look at her recipes, many are from the lifelong collections of her mother and mother-in-law and all beautifully photographed by Linda!

Today's link from "You Must Remember This."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This Morning

This morning from my Window
Shot, in color, on my Android phone

An historic storm that has affected nearly everyone in the country. It was old news by the time it reached Maine and, in fact, we have gotten off lightly. Our power is on and dinner, made this morning with more than a mild sense of optimism, is simmering in the crockpot. So much snow...the view from my window never seems to change.

Looking Out 01
Layered texture on a winter wonderland

Double Trouble!
Shot and processed on my Android phone with PicSay

Another view from my window using a mirror image app on my phone. The result is like a howling winter monster. I warmed the tones to give my creation life.

Blue Hill, Maine

Icy beauty in my small town where even the salt water bay freezes. The tide shifts the frozen water creating impossibly lovely textures across the landscape. The wind bites and it is difficult to control a camera with numb fingers and the ground is treacherous under my feet.

Evidence of Summer 02

I think there is nothing lovelier than long blue shadows across pristine snow and remnants of the previous summer that survive one storm after another. It has been a harsh winter, but there are always unexpected gifts wherever you look.

I'm sure the Groundhog didn't see his shadow in Maine today!

Today's link from "You Must Remember This."

Older posts you might enjoy....