A journal of healing

Posts tagged ‘photograpy’



I have been writing about the Doves who have lived with us all summer. They left their spot up on the porch for a long time in August and we figured they were done having babies. We were wrong. A new pair had another set of babies this September. That made three sets of twins and one single baby dove that came into the world in my garden.

We lost one young bird from the first pair that was attacked earlier in the summer.  I found her on the walkway and she died in my hands. She is buried in the garden.


This newest pair grew quite large. Yesterday, the nest was empty. But I found one of them on the deck. We knew that one was not doing great from birth. We could see that she breathed a lot faster than the other one. I think she cannot fly because I was able to walk up to her pretty close and all she did was walk away. Throughout the day, I would see her in another spot, often with her nest mate. The bigger one can fly away. I put out seed and I hoped she would be ok.

How frightening it must have been for her to find herself on the deck after being in her nest for so long. Now she is in this huge space and alone, unless her brother/sister comes back. Last seen she had meandered closer to the bird seed I put out, but in the safety of a bush. I worried all night and I am waiting for day break to go out see if she is ok or gone. I pray she flew away, if that is possible.


There may be a day when we will vaporize and be transported to our next location by breaking apart and reassembling somewhere else. I doubt I will see that in my time. For now, I have to physically move myself and enter into a new arena from the comfort of where I was. For some people like me, it is hard and disruptive. But I have been practicing doing a Soft Landing, one of the new Mindful Self-Compassion skills from the class I am taking.

I am very sensitive to my environment. So much so that I am not even completely aware of all the signals coming into my brain, but I do react. I am still hyper-vigilant, but not as bad as I was years ago. I do not like loud sounds or bright lights. And I can detect emotional distributions or as they say, bad vibes, very easily and it puts me on alert.

The concept of a soft landing is to take a moment every time you go from one spot to the next in your day. When you enter somewhere and find you seat, take a moment to breath. Close your eyes if you can and listen for whatever sounds are in the room. Go inward to your body and scan for discomfort. Much like you would massage a muscle, send soothing energy to the discomfort or simply become aware of it. I find the act of just being aware of pain seems to lessen its grip. I do this now all the time including when I get into my car and drive anywhere. It only takes a moment.


My favorite grounding is when I come home from work. I change out of my work clothes into something soft and comforting. I like to sit in the garden and just be there for a moment. Then and only then, my husband and I will share our days. He knows he is not supposed to hit me with drama when I come through the door. It was a hard habit for him to break.

However, now he forgets sometimes to tell me I had a phone call. This was the case last week. By the time he remembered, it was too late to call them back. Unfortunately, this was a call that was crucial that I returned. Seems my mammogram is “inconclusive” and I had to reschedule for another series of images and then a consult.

After talking with a few girlfriends, I learned that this was not an uncommon occurrence when you have a mammogram done. But when it happens to you, it is very troubling. I have been having them done since I was 21. My Aunt had breast cancer was diagnosed at a very early age and ended up with a double mastectomy. My mother died of cancer at 56, although her original diagnosis was lung cancer. Every therapy I have taken for my Psoriatic Arthritis has a warning that it can “encourage” lymphoma.

From all the classes I have taken and including this one, the principal of living in the present moment is a basic core truth. I worry way too much about way too much which causes undo stress and physical pain. I have to learn to stay in the present moment. The MSC class is helping me recall many of the strategies that I let go of. Being in the present moment while in this situation is critical for my wellbeing while I wait to hear what is going on. But it is hard to not worry.

So like the little dove, I am in a transition that I am not really happy about. But then that is life. If we do not move forward and face our issues head on, we become stuck. The image that pops into my mind is one from childhood. It is a dinosaur stuck in a tar pit. The outcome is never good.

Views from The River

morning2 We are back from my favorite place in the world. No matter how long we go, it is never enough. I took over 600 photos. I am going to share just a few. This particular view is from the porch on our room. It looks down the St. Lawrence towards the 1000 Island Bridge. We are in Alexandria Bay, but on a private spot across from the actual town.  A family owns the Resort and we have been going there for at least ten years. Same room, same time.

morning 1 These are morning shots. There is an abundance of wild life but you have to be in the right frame of mind to see it. When we first got there, I was not in the right frame of mind, and saw no animals, not even geese. By the next morning, my herons, geese, MINK, ospreys and other small animals allowed me to see them. You can see the heron in this shot.

ski 1 The view changes constantly. We do not turn on the TV or play music at all. The silence at first is deafening, which may seem weird. We tune out so much noise everyday, we think. We actually don’t tune it out, we filter it. It still assaults us. When it goes away, you are very aware of the quiet. You also become sensitive when subjected to loud noises again once you are back in the human world. There are sounds here: bird calls and wind and waves of water. Even a chipmunk wrestling with a nut sounds loud.

sky 3 These shots we taken on the same night in succession. The view is never the same.

sky2 My favorite thing to photograph are herons. Every year, there is one that comes to the rock across the cove and sits and fishes. I have hundreds of photos of her. This year, there was a huge heron that invaded her spot across the cove. I took many photos of him too, but it was not the same as the bird I have named Charlene. When we were up in June, I never saw Charlene. When we arrived this visit, I went out on the porch and called for her. Sure enough, she came to her rock that night. However, the big heron I call Babs (Big Ass Bird) fought  with her and she took off.

fight  I saw her a couple of times for a moment and then Babs would claim his territory and off she would go. I was very sad as I have gotten pretty close to this little heron. Babs is very large, over six feet and is sort of craggy looking. My telephoto lens did not do him justice. When viewing him in the binoculars, he looks like a cranky old man.

heron 1 On the last night, I hear the distinct cry of a heron. The squawk was very loud. Sure enough, there was Charlene right below my porch. It was getting very dark but I grabbed my camera and started shooting. She knew I was there. heron2 I followed for a while, and then she took off. I was honored that she had visited. On my way back to the room, she flew back by me, squawking as she passed. She flew and landed right down on the rocks in front of our room. For about an hour, she posed and I took several photos, including with my flash.

night heron 2 She was so close to where I was and she has no fear of me. She went down to where I sit every afternoon and walked around my spot.

Heron 3 She then came back up to me and walked right in front of me. Unfortunately, I am still learning about my camera and struggled to get many great shots.

night heron 3  I was talking to her like I talk to my pets. In all the years we have been coming, there is only one other time I got this close. I do not feed her so there is no particular reason she comes. It was so dark I could not see the settings on my camera well. We visited for over an hour and then she left, squawking her good bye.

flight  Early the next morning, the morning we were leaving, she flew again over me, and squawked a loud good bye. We left four hours later and she did not return.

Dove love; teaching me

empty nest They are gone. They are my dove family. Ever since early spring I have had a dove under my eaves on my porch. We have become patient and tolerant of each other. Now I miss them. They have been gone since Wednesday. I hope she comes back.

I had no idea what she was doing one night as the female flew at me while I was sitting in my chair on the porch. She flew right over my head. I looked up and there was this pile of sticks on the roof of some of my bird houses. There was no way it looked sturdy enough to hold her. Her first mate was David and  he sported this cute little cap of feathers. They took turns every night sitting on the nest.

david and davina    DAVID

Soon, Dudley and Dot made their appearance. How they fit was an amazing feat of architecture.

Dot and Dudley Debbie and Don

Next came Duncan.

Duncan 6-16  His mom left him alone for a very long time. He was either very brave or very scared to fly because he remained in the nest for a few days by himself. We had some thunder storms and the landscaper was working in the yard. They also power washed the roof right above him and he just stayed in the nest. Finally, he left.

cu 3 doves  But they had another family. There are actually four birds in this tiny nest. We named the new chicks Donnie and Debbie. ( Yes I had a theme with the D names) I could walk up to the nest very close and Debbie especially would cock her head to the side as I talked to them, just like a dog does.

donie and debbie  She was so sweet. Her brother would glower at me, but she would follow every word. One night I was singing to them and she fell asleep. It was so cute. Donnie left the nest first but then when I came home from work, Debbie was gone too. I was actually sad and worried because she was so much smaller than her brother. Then on Friday, I saw a small bird just sitting in the grass by herself. I thought, oh no, is she hurt. I walked slowly towards her using my singing voice talking to her as I approached. She just sat there, and cocked her head. As I was about two feet in front of her, she took off and flew up to the tree above me. It was like she was saying, “hi Lady, I ok and look at me go.” I was very happy but I will miss her the most.

Petee   Every night, Petee and Sweetee join me in the garden. They nibble on the bird seed and then often will play for a while. Then, just like cats, they sprawl out on their side or stomachs and just be with me in the garden. The other night, Petee was sitting about two feet from where I put the seed down. He just sat there while I walked up to the spot and put out the food. He never flinched. He knew what was coming. One night, and I did not see any bunnies,  I put the seed down and it was like they were waiting for it. Within a minute, they were there. They live I think under the back deck. There are in and out spots. Funny, the dogs do not really bother with them, unless they run. I think they all enjoy the chase. We have strategic spots where they can get out easily. But they will run past one just to engage the dogs in a run around the yard.

lettuce 7-25  But the little boogers still managed to eat some of my lettuce in spite of the sticks. They nibble the edges. I still have enough for me and them. I do not pull the lettuce out. I just cut it and it grows back. I did not realize this at first but now, I will have lettuce all summer. Of course my water bill is out of this world as I have to water everything almost every night.

I love my garden. I learn so much from it. The doves have taught me that no matter what, life goes on…with you or without. When Dot died, it really hurt to see something so small and lovely be harmed. But isn’t that what happens everywhere in the world?


Before and After

Again this morning I woke up trembling, the anxiety overwhelming me and rendering me immobile. There is so much that makes me this way and not one thing that I could explain to anyone. So instead of feeding this fear of life, I want to share more images from my garden.

The garden was looking a little shaggy and unkempt this spring. When my husband and I put in new grass spring a year ago, the seed went ever where when we mowed the existing grass. It was springing up on all the old mulch. I attempted to chop it out but it was too well establish.

garden befroe 6-16 We had flagstone put in and in time, grass replaced the pea stone they originally put in. It had all washed out leaving big gaps between the stones, making them hard to walk on.  I called our Landscaper and he and a crew of about four came and worked on the garden all day.

garden before2 6-16  Before

garden after 2  After they trimmed all the beds and put down new mulch everywhere.

garden3 before 6-16 Before

garden after  After

side after  The garden looks amazing. The dogs have been doing their best to disturb the mulch in some places. They put this product that looks like sand between the flagstone but when you wet it, it hardens. We also had the roof powerwashed because I can grow plants anywhere it seems, including my roof.

roof before 6-16  Beforeroof after After

We had the doggies groomed also this summer. Browny gets so hot and his fur is so dense. I wanted them trimmed but the girl ended up shaving them. They looked so silly at first, but with the heat this summer they are happier.

Be Boy furry and garden  Before

Browny shaved  After   He looks like a plush toy.

I put up a lots of pots this year and they are doing great. I water every night as it has been a very hot  and dry summer.

Bearsgarden 7-16

deck shot  We have been also enjoying looking for garden decorations and odd pots in our travels.

In our eves over the porch, we have a dove who has been there since early spring. She has had three broods so far. Two chicks, one who died when attacked by something now resides in a grave in the garden. This is Duncan who was very brave and stayed in the nest when all the work was being done

Duncan 6-16

And this is the newest ones, Debbie and Donnie.   They are so used to me I can stand there and talk to them and they just look at me like they get it. Last night Debbie fell asleep while I was singing to her.   So cute.

Debbie and Don

lettuce  We have been enjoying the lettuce. The bunnies come every night and sit with me while I read. One comes very close. I noticed last night that even with my kabob sticks, they have managed to chew some of the plants. But there is plenty for all.

This is my place of peace. I truly long for it when I am at work. Even John, the Landscaper,  says the garden is very peaceful. We all need a place like this.



More images from the Islands

sunset It seems so long now since we were at the Islands. My life here takes over and the peace and serenity vanish very quickly. I long for the day when the normal for me is much more relaxed. One of the things I relish about the Islands are all the animals.

view from porch 2016  When we first arrived, I commented to my husband about how few animals and birds we saw on the way up. There are usually pockets of geese on the low grassy areas  and more ospreys and herons in the sky. As we unwound, they appeared. I truly believe that animals have a different energy wave and in order to really “be” with them, you have to be calm and on their wave length.

naptime This is the time of year when the geese babies or goslings are become teenagers. We had several families who would camp below our elevated porch. I of course had to feed them some choice snacks, which I know is a no no.

mom and dad I watched as Mom goose became very protective of her young and would hiss at the other families if they got to close. Everyone says geese can be nasty, but it is all show.

furious feathers  They fluff and stuff, hiss and go after each other, but it is harmless. I saw one pull a feather out of another goose. I have fed geese out of my hand and they don’t hurt. momgoose

They are so beautiful.

osprey 2  The osprey also have chicks which are getting big. We saw several nests all over the place once I was able to focus on finding them. As we were on the golf course, a pair of fledglings put on quite a display for us, swooping quite close over our heads.

duckies 2 This was the newest addition to the group of babies. One of the ducklings was much braver than the other and would take off from Mom, who would then have to corral him back. They also came to visit but walking on the grass was not as easy for them as swimming.

duckies 3  Every year we go to the Islands, there is a heron who comes to the cove and sits and fishes. I have named her Charlene. This year, she did not appear. However, this big guy showed up the second night. I unfortunately do not have a long enough lens to do this justice. He was huge.

charlemenge and he looked quite craggy. He would hang around and fish every night.  Charl  But I know he is not my Charlene, who I actually have been very near and have a ton of photos of her. She is much smaller. charlemenge flying  When he flew past the porch, you could actually hear his wings. This shot does not demonstrate how big he is.

Boldt barns  We play golf…well my husband plays and I drive the cart and shoot photos. We play on the course that was once George Boldt’s farm. There are structures left from his time and the layout is based on the old canals he employed on the property. There are many animals on the property and it is so quiet and peaceful.

snake  This guy made my husband run. He was about nine feet long. There are lots of snakes on the Islands and in the water, but this is the first one I have seen that was so big. I did not get too close.

About the fourth hole, I spied something moving incredibly slow towards the green. I had seen and photographed a cute turtle last year on this spot, but this was way too big to be that. But it was a turtle…. a massive old turtle.

turtle He was a good three feet in diameter and when he stood up to move he was huge. Again, this was not something to get too close too as he could move and could have really hurt.

turtle 1 He took his time and as we were leaving, we told the golf pro who said he was famous. He is probably as old as the farm.

I could spend my life taking photos of the animals up there. Someday, I hope that is what I will be able to do.

Views from the Islands

view from porch 2016  We spent my birthday and the whole weekend in the Thousand Islands. This is the view from the porch off our place. I find peace and grounding on The River, especially this local. When we first got there, I thought the animals had disappeared. They do, I discover until you are ready to see them. Then they were plentiful. My dream would be to retire and spend summers up here doing nothing but taking pictures.

Tibbetts  This is Tibbett’s Point. It is where the River meets Lake Ontario. You can actually stay in this Hostel house. Across the River is the biggest island named Wolfe Island. You can only get there by a ferry, a very small ferry.  We did it once and it was scary as hell. But the Island was beautiful and full of splendid farms and fields. Now it is covered with

Wolfe Isalnd wind turbines. It was a very lucrative move for the inhabitants as they paid them huge money for the placement. But it has ruin the view from across the river.

towers  My shots do not do justice to the mass and amount of them. The all blink at night and many people have put their cottages and house up for sale. There is talk of trying to do this to Wellesley Island which is across the River from Alex Bay. It would ruin the River. But they pay big money and many of the places on the River are expensive and owned by people who do not stay in them, but rent them out.

boat This is a private boat. I cannot imagine how much this thing costs, or how much it costs to  fill it up. Every summer, there is a luxury yacht that comes down the River and moors in Clayton.

Peonie  We had beautiful weather and I have a ton of photos of the animals we saw, which I will save until next blog. This is a peony from Tibbett’s Point garden. I love peonies but cannot grow them because I do not have enough sun.

sunset view The 1000 Islands are famous for their sunsets.

moon It was full moon when we were there.

I often say, I wish I could bottle how wonderful I feel when I am on The River.

Life in the Garden

June garden1 We finally are having summer. It seems it took forever to get here. The weekends have been raining but every chance I get I am outside. This is one of the things I am looking forward to in retirement…. if I can still move. Yesterday I finally got around to doing the hanging pots. I have a bit more to do, like a whole other flat of impatiens. June 2  After the spring plants there is not a lot of colored flowers unless I introduce them. I usually plant 96 impatiens or more. I also plant lettuce. This year we had to dig out the bed and then add new soil. It was a lot of work but we were excited about fresh lettuce.

before lettuce 2 I did some last year with success in pots and a bit in the garden. But this year I did a whole flat of mixed greens.

Before lettuce  Usually, by now, the lilac and rhododendrons have bloomed and are finished. This year the Rohodas were behind.

Bee and rhoda  Two years ago I thought I would lose them all. One of the newer ones did die. I think the black walnut in the neighbor’s yard is toxic. I wacked the heck out of the oldest one and this year it bloomed prolifically.    May fly rhoda

We have many visitors in the garden. There are a lot of squirrels who love the bird food I put out. One night they were running around being goofy. Browny loves to chase them.

squirrel 1 squirrel 2

We still have the dove in the eve of the porch. She is nesting again. However, we have not seen the other dove I called David. He had a very apparent feather configuration on his head which looked like a cap. But she is nesting again.david and davina

We also have on the porch another large birdhouse which Chuck and Rita chick-a-Dee have made their own. This is the second time they have been with us. They are busy feeding their young and you can hear them in their little house.

bug chuck

So as soon as I planted the lettuce, my bunnies showed up.

rabbitts 1 They are not afraid of me. They are used to even the dogs and as long as Browny does not chase them, we all coexist. I find them darling. Often they will play, but mostly they just chomp.

cu bunny  I don’t mind them eating the clover and grass and birdseed. But yesterday morning, I came out and my lettuce was half gone. All I had was nubs of many of the new plants. I was so mad, but what did I expect? So I got smart. I looked up how to protect plants and thought this was ingenious:

sticks punchi sticks  I put in about 100 little SHARP sticks that you use for kabobs. Cost me next to nothing. The are not toxic and unless you try to jump in the garden, won’t hurt the plants or anything. cu sticks  Gotcha Bunny!

praying bunny


In Memory

hawk 15

This weekend is a time when many celebrate the arrival of summer. Many forget what the real reason for Memorial Day. My family was blessed that we had many members serve in the Navy and all returned. My sister-in-law was a Lieutenant and served as a nurse in Vietnam. My nephew was a Master Chief and served in Dessert Storm on the Kitty Hawk. My uncle was an Admiral and his son a Chaplin. I honor all who served especially those who did not return. But for the life of me, I cannot see the beauty and purpose of war and fighting.

Life is so fragile. We all live in such a precarious balance of being here or not. Why do we perpetuate the slaughter of so many? I understand standing up for principal and righteous but who is to decide who is right? What happened in WWII with the murder of so many innocents who died solely because of their race and beliefs is in comprehensible to me. And yet, we did not learn from that as a world population because genocide still continues.


I fear death. As I get older and more impaired, I constantly worry about when my time will come and what that will mean. It grips me and strangles me but I move on with the hope to make some mark in the world before I go. There is no backsies when you die. You are gone and that’s that. Whatever comes next will not change the fact that you are no longer part of this world. If I sit with this for too long, it digs a hole in my gut too deep to express and so I move on.

This week I had two reminders how frail life is. My Browny had a seizure. He never has had one before and I hope he never does again. We thought we were going to lose him. He could not stand and was so weak. It was horrible. We sped to the Emergency Vet hospital and by the time we got there, he came back and was he was his normal obnoxious self. When they went to take him back to examine him, he pulled so hard on his leash whining to stay with us. It broke my heart to let him go back by himself. But he was fine, and has been. But I am ever so cautious, looking for signs of another one. His only symptom was his temperature was up. We had the air conditioner and window open on the way and he must have cooled off some. But what spiked the temperature, and was that the cause, we do not know.

Dot and Dudley

Last Sunday, the two baby doves both left the nest. We knew one was in the shrubs. We were sad because I thought Mom and Dad Dove, Davina and David, were also gone. At night, they returned. I though all was well. I had grown attached and although I missed the babies, I knew they were big enough to be on their own as we saw them fly. On Tuesday morning, I found Dot, one of the babies, lying on the path in the garden. I raced to get something to pick her up. As I lifted her into my hand I noticed  she was in terrible shape. Something had attacked her. She opened her eye a little wider and I stroked her little dove feathers. She was still warm but barely alive. As I held her sobbing, she crossed over and her soft brown eye closed. We heard her parents cooing all morning and it really gave meaning to Mourning Doves. We buried her that night in the garden with Davina watching every move.

I know it was only a bird. But it seems so senseless. So is war.

This  is a sad post but I hope it will inspire to cherish the time we have.

Spring in the Garden

I am on the other side of a very long stretch of a lot of turmoil. Instead of going on and on about my troubles, I thought I would share photos of the garden. Spring this year has reflected my ups and downs. But even in troubling times, there can be peace and beauty.

lilacs The lilacs were late this year. We have a festival here that is centered completely around the lilac display in a park. The lilacs were not open when they had the festival. Strange, this festival is the first of the season and is usually lovely and pleasant. They open on Mother’s day weekend and go on for a week. It is a mecca for the silver hair bunch. However,  even this was filled this year with street fights and brawls. It will change next year with more security and probably close it to unattended teens. What was supposed to be a family event is now marred with gang wars and stupidity.  This lilac resides in my yard.

david and davina  David and Davina continued building their nest. I found a shell on the floor below them but did not see anything for some time. They are very used to us being out there. One morning there was a new set of eyes peeking out. Then I realized there were two babies. I was a Grandma!  I was so excited and named them Dot and Dudley. One, I assume, is Dudley and was very big.

Dot and Dudley   Even in this shot, you can see he was a little braver and feisty.

deer  All the plants are finally coming up. Our little village has a  lot of wooded areas and the canal. Deer roam pretty freely munching on the variety of vegetation offered by the town folks. My yard is completely fenced so they cannot get in the back. But one winter, they nested in the front right next to the house under some bushes. They stripped the bushes from underneath. I think they are one of the most beautiful creatures out there.

spring ice  Last weekend, it was cold and very grey. We actually had several ice showers. I did not have anything planted yet so I was not concerned but it was not a nice. The weather continues to be glorious during the week and crappy on the weekend. I had plans to put lettuce in today, but it is raining.

disey I did put my plant in to a pot and that is beginning to settle. I usually have all the indoor plants out and pots of inpatients done but not this year. I have to take things very slowly as I am struggling physically. I am not going to go there today.

Dot and Dudley  Last night, Dudley fell out of the nest. I was not out there. My husband did not see him, but the dog did. She scared him and he flew into the quince bush.

quince   I could not find him. I saw David come by and then he took off also. This morning, it was only Dot and her mom in the nest. Dudley is within the fence so he won’t be eaten by a cat. I really hope he will be ok. It was very upsetting for me. I can’t be mad at the dog though.cookie 5-16 “I sorry Mommers”



EYEBALLING HOUSE  Spring has finally arrived. It is raining hard this morning. Although I would rather have a day outside in the garden and I wish it would rain during the week while I work, it is comforting to hear the patter of drops on skylight. I know I am safe from the wetness and cold. Seems my property provides safety for many and I welcome them all.

CHUCK I collect bird houses. I have a few out in the garden but most are on the deck hanging or are under the roof. This blue house has been home to Chuck and Rita Chickadee before and they are back in residence this year. This house is right next to the door to outside and I am surprised they like it. Chuck spent an afternoon actually in our house flying around, but finally got out.

BIRD HOTEL  Now I have a pair of mourning doves who have set up residence right above where I sit. They are used to us all now. They stay now on their nest when we come out and sit below them. Even the dogs do not scare them.

NURSERY    There is a definite calm energy in this house. The only storm comes periodically from its humans inhabitants. When I first moved in, my dog Toots found peace after so many years of having seizures in our old house. She did not care for my ex. From the day I moved in here alone after my divorce until her final day, she did not have the weekly seizures that were so horrific to watch. This home has been a haven for five dogs and one cat.

DAVID I am grateful to have this home. It provides safety to me too. There are days when I hate leaving and wish I worked from home. It is even more difficult to leave when the garden is blooming and the animals are visiting. The other morning the pair of rabbits were feeding on the seed along with a chipmunk and several birds and two squirrels. Where some would see vermin, the communal feeding brings me great joy.

I wish the rest of the world got along as well as the plethora of animals and birds do here in the garden.