Wednesday, December 21, 2016


                                     THE SOLSTICE

T’was the eve of the solstice, the air crackled with cold
Friends gathered round to celebrate traditions of old.
Not a cloud marred the sky on the year’s longest night
Against the black velvet, millions of stars sparkled bright.

Inside was all cozy and from the kitchen came scents
Assuring a merry midnight feast for all the ladies and gents.
Roast, potatoes, greens, plum pudding and wine
A feast of the season upon which the party would dine.

From out of the woods, all quiet and somber,
Came a line of robed figures, of twelve was their number.
 Flickering candles waved reflections on snow  
And to signal those inside came some drumbeats, low and slow.

The guests inside rushed to the windows and silence descended
A robed figured raised his arms and the twelve voices blended
“It came upon a Midnight Clear,” and then “Oh Tannenbaum”
Smiles lit faces, eyes sparkled and breathing was calm.

After 4 songs, and the briefest of pause, the host said “Come In”
We’ve been awaiting your songs.  Toss your hats in the bin.
 Cloaks on the beds, don’t cover the kids, come and be merry,
 Have a glass of hot cider, warm up and don’t tarry."

The winter solstice marks the longest night of the year,
Yet it is a celebration that the longer days are near.
Animals bed in warm winter dens while people dance under trees straight and tall.
The host raised his glass:  "Peace on Earth and Good Will to All."

  Our writer's group at Park Sierra had a prompt to write a winter poem in the style of "Night Before Christmas."  I am not a writer of poetry nor do I usually do rhymes, but I had fun doing this one.   

So, I wish you all Peace on Earth, and Good Will, and the recognition that the seasons change, the earth spins on its axis, difficult times pass, and we all look to friends for support and affirmation and hopefully return it ten-fold.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Barefoot Contessa Photo Workshop

Barefoot Contessa Photo Adventures is an intensive photo workshop program.  Chris and I enrolled in one called Lighthouses of the Outer Banks, in late October and early November of this year.  Up well before daybreak each day and out to places along the coast, lighthouses, and fishing piers, we would photograph for a couple of hours and return to our Inn for breakfast.  There would be another shoot in the evening.

With limited time we would download our images and choose two, one from the night before and one from the morning.  I found there was barely time to select, much less edit and felt hampered by my limited editing skills.  Then the group, 12 participants and the 2 instructors would critique.  They were tough, but insightful critiques.

Margo Pinkerton and Arnie Zann are more than accomplished photographers. Besides an incredible list of credentials (National Geographic, GEO, Time, Life and more), they are inspired leaders.

I had a lot of difficulty.  I got caught up in the admonishment to find my own vision, not to do iconic lighthouses or other photos and found myself grasping to break away from the group and do something momentous.  It failed.  Finally at the end of the workshop it came together and I got a couple shots that pleased me immediately.  The one above was my favorite.

But, now home, and going through all the photos at leisure, I am finding additional images I like.  In several cases I wonder why I shared the images I did with the group as some of these please me far more.  Oh well.  I am enjoying them now. With minimal editing, so far, here are some of those.

The first two are part of the same series as the large photo at the start of this blog.  Slightly different angles, changing the mood with the light balance and the changing light, all the time standing in the water and feeling the outgoing water pull at my feet and the tripod legs.  Somehow the feel of the photos mirrors the physical pull of the water.

I have used small images for this layout, but clicked on one and you can see the whole group, as a slide show, at full size on your monitor.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

More photos from workshop

These are some additional photos from the workshop which is described in the next blog post.

Monday, December 5, 2016

A trip to the Southeast

After a fast trip from Yellowstone to California, I was ready for the next adventure, this one without the motorhome.   Chris and I flew to Baltimore, stayed in a few blocks from the harbor and Federal Hill, and visited my long time RVing friends, Chuck and Nan who were in the middle of a move into a graduated care living facility.  Nan refers to it as the cruise ship that doesn't float.

From Baltimore, we picked up a rental car, headed to Harpers Ferry, the Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, across North Carolina to the Outer Banks.  Along the way, we stayed in B&Bs. These were outside the park, but often in towns just a few miles from the park routes.   They ranged from historic to newer homes, and included an old log cabin, dismantled after carefully numbering all the logs for restoration, and moved to a delightful spot near Pilot Knob State Park.   Each place would have benefited from a couple more days, but the anchors of this trip were the visit to Baltimore to see Chuck and Nan and a photo workshop in the Outer Banks. We needed to keep moving although stops were close enough together that we had time at each to explore a bit. I've included  photos of the trip.  Photos from the workshop are in two other posts.

It is December, things are getting rushed but I wanted to get this posted before I do my year end letter.  This will be a quick overview of a great trip.   If you have questions about any of the places we visited, are thinking about a trip to the area, or wonder about the photo workshop, send me an email.   I'll be happy to elaborate more.

You will note that all of my blog photos now have my copyright on them.  Although it is not as aesthetically pleasing, the internet allows a lot of unscrupulous folks to steal photos, either call them their own or to try to make money off my creative endeavors.  We started off the photo workshop with a discussion of copyright, how to do it correctly and were all advised to always copyright our work. And I had been putting my name on photos more recently, but not correctly.  Then, a few weeks ago a photographer friend sent me an email about a web site that sells photo posters, wall art.  Turns out the photos on the site have been lifted, without permission.  He suggested to all his friends that they look at the site, plug in their name and see if any of their photos were there.  Two of mine, from earlier blogs, were there.

Reading posts related to the site, it appears it may be someone who is simply fishing for credit card numbers and that it is not a photo sales site.  Be that as it may, I was furious to learn that someone lifted my photos, and even though my name is with them,  is selling them without my permission and for a ridiculously low price.  So, from now on, you will see my copyright on my photos in this blog.  That is not to say that someone couldn't crop the photo or edit out the information, but it should help and gives me recourse to demand that photos that do appear be taken down.  And I would ask that, if you ever order photos from the internet, make sure it is a reputable company and ask for some proof that the photographer has given permission for their sale.

Street view of the B&B
Our B&B in Baltimore, decorated for upcoming Halloween

We enjoyed walking the neighborhood where we were staying, seeing the architecture which is clearly different from the West where we both grew up.  This is a cobblestone street and led us to Federal Hill for views out over the harbor and towards Ft McHenry, scene of the battle which inspired the Star Spangled Banner

It began raining hard once we arrived at Ft. McHenry so we didn't do a lot of photography.  This was one from inside the fort.

Nan and Chuck took us to Annapolis, a favorite location of theirs.  We toured the academy grounds, had a great lunch,  and meandered about the town.  Yes, I had both crab cakes and she-crab soup during our stay in the area.
The photo above and the ones  following are from Harpers Ferry.  This display reminds us why someone like John Brown decided to raid the community as a protest against slavery.    Enlarge photo (click on it) to see this awful neck band with large spokes.

 I knew of Harpers Ferry due to the history of John Brown's raid.  But the town is much more.  At the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers it was an important trade location, an early ferry crossing, a major armory and arsenal, one of only two in the country at the end of the 1700's.  John Brown chose it because of that history.

Part of the town is now a National Historic Park and we wandered thru, watched the train pass by and then had a leisurely lunch in the area of town outside the park, but which retains the old buildings.  Our trip included Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and this little corner of West Virginia.

The next set of photos are from the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge Parkways.  We had some fall color, small patches with some brilliant trees, but certainly not peak color.  At several points the Park Service has rebuilt old farmsteads and mills to give today's visitors a look at what life was like at an earlier point in our history.  Some living history exhibits take place on the grounds and we watched a park ranger making a rug, and talked with a couple gentlemen in the mill.  The mill was not operating while we were there.

Note the playing pieces of sliced corn cobs and sections of a tree branch.

This is Pilot Knob, NC and was the view from our log cabin B&B.   

Mabrey Mill.

Below are selected photos of some of our B&B experiences
Fairlea Farms, Washington, Virginia

View from Fairlea Farms

View from Fairlea Farms

Resident, Fairlea Farms

View, Fairlea Farms

Fairlea Farms view

The drive at Fairlea Farms

Black Lantern B&B, Roanoke, Virginia

Black Lantern B&B, front view.  This old house, was condemned when the owners bought and restored it as a B&B.  Beautifully done, mix of old and new inside for a delightful stay.

 The next few are Belle Hearth B&B in Waynesboro, VA

This log cabin is old.  It was moved to the site of this small resort and reassembled.  Living area downstairs and loft sleeping area.  A modern bathroom has been added to the back.  This is Pilot Knob B&B in North Carolina

Our cabin had plenty of wooden area around it.

The final selections are the inn at Nag's Head where our photo workshop was headquartered.It is the oldest Inn in the area.   Hurricane Mathew was only a few weeks before our arrival.  Although the grounds were underwater, and a few shingles blown off and  a tree uprooted, the landscaping had been restored and it was hard to image what it had been like.

There were a few other B&Bs but I don't have the photos ready.   We enjoyed Run of the Mill, Henderson, NC is run by a bee keeper.  Besides a delightful setting and great breakfast, we got a tour of the grounds with him.  Did you know that one bee, in its life, makes about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey?