Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sonoma in Sepia

Mission San Francisco Solano
Mission San Francisco Solano

We returned to Sonoma after an eight year absence which always makes me apprehensive when I have loved a place . How wonderful to find the historic town and central park unchanged. It still retains the sleepy look of its Mexican Colonial beginnings. I photographed the buildings surrounding the plaza in sepia to enhance the feeling of a journey to the past.

The Barracks 02
Presidio of Sonoma ~ Sonoma Barracks

The Barracks 01
Presidio of Sonoma ~ Sonoma Barracks

Toscano Hotel
Toscano Hotel

Sonoma, California

Coming up...Sonoma in color.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Unexpected History Lesson

JCB and her gentleman arrived in Maine, Friday, under gray skies which persisted through the weekend. What we craved was a pile of mussels and a steaming bowl of fish chowder at the Dolphin Restaurant on Harpswell neck. It's more fun to go by boat, but the inclement weather dictated a drive on loopy coastal roads. As we dashed out the door, I wondered...bring camera? It was a very unattractive day. I grabbed it anyway remembering to insert a fresh battery.

The Harpswell Meeting House is on the way and I have photographed that lovely old building and peaceful burying ground many times. The site is usually occupied with a handful of people wandering amongst the worn stones reading the names and dates of the early inhabitants and a few photographers, capturing a fine example of old New England. On this day, the Meeting House doors were thrown open and there was a crowd assembled on the lawn.

American Revolutionary War Reenactor 05

The scarlet jacket first caught my eye, quickly followed by the pop and a puff of smoke from a musket. I often see Civil War reenactors, but this was my first encounter with American Revolutionary War reenactors and what a dedicated group of people they are!





Wonderful examples of attention to detail!

American Revolutionary War Reenactors 02

American Revolutionary War Reenactor 04


A young woman tries her hand with a musket.

Lesson matter how dreary the day, never leave your camera behind!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mere Point Seasons

Another summer season has begun and we have been busy opening the cottage in preparation for the arrival of family and friends. This is where we live for nearly four months of the year. It is simple living in a location blessed with beautiful views. I would rather be on Mere Point than anywhere else on least until winter! In winter I want to hurry home to the thicker walls of the old Victorian farmhouse.

I've spent the last few days teasing my Mere Point photos away from a bloated set of Maine images on my Flickr page. It has been an interesting and, occasionally, demoralizing exercise.  I could go back and edit the unsuccessful shots, but have decided to leave the record of my photography attempts through the seasons in a place I love. Obvious to me are the results from the year my glasses prescription was sadly out-of-date, or the time my computer screen faded. The latter happened so slowly and subtly that  I wasn't even aware of it.

It was fascinating to scroll through the months, to track the angle of the sun and travel through the translucent greens of spring to the rusty golds of autumn. Below is a selection from my week's time travel.


The grass is always in need of cutting when we arrive in spring...a task made so much harder by the delicate carpet of bluets.

Looking toward Sister's Island

The first tender greens of new leaves at the end of the point.

Nancy Drew and a fairy wand

A fairy wand and a collection of Nancy Drew, sweet reminders from previous summers.

Lupine on the shore

A day inside....

Lupine at the edge of the bank and a rain spattered window, so typical of June. Even now, the days can be raw and chilly and there are few boats in the water.

Cottage window

Day lilies brighten the view from the cottage window in July.

The Dinghy

In July, there are soft summery evenings and sunsets over coppery water, still as glass.

The Open Window

Morning Calm

Open windows welcome warm August breezes and the morning calm of the bay.

The Autumn Garden 03

A Touch of Fall 02

The light changes and the colors deepen in autumn. Our time left on Mere Point is now numbered by the hours.

The frozen shore

Afternoon Light

On a winter's visit, the bay is frozen although the sun is golden on the trees and fence along the dirt road in front of the cottage. The wind is fierce and bites through the layers of sweaters and jackets we are wearing. The house looks empty and forlorn. We hurry back to the warmth of the car.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

By the Blue Window


There are times when I walk into a room and am transported by the light. At the Angéle Restaurant in Napa, California, light poured through the blue framed windows and spilled across the sills and table. Light sparked off utensils and pooled around the potted plants. It was the subtle light of a sky with fat fluffy clouds.


There were no dramatic captures here. A simple plate, a piece of bread and the white expanse of a paper covered bistro table spoke of contentment and a sense of well-being.


We stayed awhile, sipping wine, and the light slid in somewhere between morning and dusk.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Walled Gardens and Secret Spaces ~ Random Memory #26 ~ Iran


A fragrant branch overhanging the enclosed garden wall outside our room in Guerneville, California.


My mother gave me a copy of Francis Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden one summer in Maine, a very long time ago. It was the beginning of a lifelong fascination of hidden spaces and walled gardens. I loved them because they seemed simultaneously safe and mysterious. Burnett's writing had a powerful effect on my childhood imagination...

It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with leafless stems of climbing roses which were so thick that they were matted together.

She goes on to describe little Mary Lennox's discovery.

All the ground was covered with grass of a wintry brown and out of it grew clumps of bushes which were surely rosebushes if they were alive.


She walked under one of the fairy-like gray arches between the trees and looked up at the sprays and tendrils which formed them.

And with this, I was forever enthralled.


Everything was strange and silent and she seemed to be hundreds of miles away from any one, but somehow she did not feel lonely at all.


A walled garden seemed so exotic all those years ago. I had the expanse of my grandmother's magnificent garden in Maine. She had a rainbow palette of perennial blossoms, an asparagus patch with tall feathery fronds that gently waved over my head and marvelous outcroppings of rocks that were responsible for many a skinned knee. Across the road, were chokecherries, a cherry orchard and an old hen house, barely standing, with a forest of wasp nests inside. I ran through meadows of wildflowers and searched for indian pipes in dim mossy woods. I cherish those bright memories and, after awhile, the wish for a walled garden faded until I found one of my own in Iran.

Random Memory #26 ~ Iran

We settled on a two story house with a porch and balcony overlooking rows of rose bushes and a swimming pool planted exactly in the center of the walled garden. It wasn't even close to Mary Lennox's hidden bower. The swimming pool which had appeared so sparkling and inviting when we saw the house with an estate agent, was later found to lack a water filtration system. Our landlord had, apparently, emptied and refilled the pool every three or four days. The water had turned to a slick slimy green by the time our shipment arrived, so we drained the water and gazed out at the large empty rectangle for the rest of our stay until we moved into another house much later.

Access was through a locked, sturdy metal door. Visitors rang a buzzer and announced themselves on the inter-com. It was surprising how that small enclosed space shut out noise, smells and the vitality (chaos) of Tehran. Stepping inside to the roses and empty pool was so welcome after a day in perilous traffic and haggling in the markets. After a time, the garden became a safe haven, shutting out the increasing demonstrations that were a prelude to the Iranian revolution.

The news from Iran worsened all throughout our summer in America. Peter left early and I flew back with the children just as martial law was announced. Our plane was late and we were warned we might have to stay in the airport until morning if we could not reach our destination in Tehran before curfew. Our driver, Arshok, appeared just as I was contemplating how to make two exhausted children comfortable for a long night on the floor. That dear, grandfatherly man leaned on his horn, sliced through traffic and wove his way through a maze of tiny streets until we finally pulled up in front of the familiar metal door. We stepped through to masses of roses, Goli and a tray with three glasses of tea on the porch.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stony Hints and Poppy Notes

Perspectives of rugged roadside beauty and bright color beside rural roads in California wine country.

Wine Country 01




Near Healdsburg, California.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sleepy Little Town

Sleepy Little Town 04
Healdsburg, California

A patient companion waiting in a shop know I will work a dog into a post if at all possible!

Sleepy Little Town 03

At first glance, Healdsburg, California is a sleepy little town. The square has a pretty park where all the benches are occupied by a variety of characters enjoying the green space and the spring profusion of flowers. There are abundant restaurants and shops on the surrounding streets and a mouthwatering market brimming with luscious produce, decadent pastries, fragrant coffee and, of course, wine.

Sleepy Little Town 02

My intention was to capture the vibrant colors of the foliage and flowers and some snapshots of the people, small vignettes to give a sense of place. After the photos were up on my computer, the color felt distracting so I converted the shots to black and white. The candids are slightly out of focus, taken on the run since most folks are intimidated by a big lens pointed in their direction (I feel very unapologetic...I love unposed pictures.) In retrospect, I probably should have used my agile and less intrusive point-and-shoot.

Sleepy Little Town 01

Still, these small views represent the atmosphere of Healdsburg. Scenes that are quiet and relaxed in a way that is typical of California on a sunny, warm spring day.

Sleepy Little Town 05

This store front boasted several blown-up black and white vintage photos. I liked the contrasting tree textures and this has been posted with its natural color.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sonoma Sky

Sonoma Skies 05

In an earlier post, I mentioned I really need a bumper sticker that says "I Break for Light." The same is true for clouds!

Sonoma Skies 04

One of the most frustrating things about travel photography is that the light, on any given day, is dictated by your itinerary. You can't revisit the majestic landscape you photographed under gray skies, so you shoot and simply move on...hoping to win the light lottery further down the road.

Sonoma Skies 03

We drove in and out of bright blue and overcast skies for several days until a front arrived, bringing with it large dramatic cumulus clouds. Peter draws the line at being rear-ended, or driving into a ditch, but he is truly a saint about pulling over to the side of the road, or doubling back so I can (try!) for "the shot!" Even with his heroic cooperation, I sometimes miss the light by mere seconds.

Sonoma Skies 02

Sonoma Skies 01

All of these shots were taken within minutes, with multiple stops on the road to Healdsburg, California, under the rapidly changing sky.

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