Thursday, January 31, 2019

Small Stone - The End!

We're surrounded by a harsh environment of incredible beauty. We've lived in Breckenridge, CO,  nearly 30 years, and still, we're in awe of the landscape. Getting older, we wonder how long we can stay in our mountain home. Bob is constantly outside, working to clear snow. We could hire someone, but he likes the exercise. He also likes knowing it's done correctly. We can't think of a place we'd rather be. So, we live day by day enjoying our time here as long as possible.

The end of January gives us blue sky and sunshine. The light pools in the great room, and the fireplace adds a cozy glow. Our sons built this house for us in the mid-90's. Though just a structure, we are tied to it by love.

Today ends my month-long commitment to writing small stones. For me, blogging every day is a challenge. I'm thankful to return to my usual sporadic postings. Thank you for dropping by to visit. 

Stay well, smile often, and keep moving!

Remember there are always good things in life if we are open to them.


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Small Stone - Old or New?

Downtown, on a back street near the river, three paint-peeled birdhouses stood on poles against an old shed. Over the years, I've photographed them countless times. I made cards with some of the images - to me they felt very wabi-sabi. This past autumn, one of the houses was leaning, the pole losing its grip with the ground. Recently, when I was downtown, I decided to visit the birdhouses. Someone has restored them - new paint and the poles realigned in the ground.

Will the birds like them better, I wonder? 

Do I?

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Small Stone - Cold and Alone

Such a cold January, the windchill at -9 F (-22 C) when I wake. Midmorning, temps stay below freezing, but I need fresh air and exercise. The skis complain about the cold, creaking and groaning, as I glide into the forest. The snow makes a crisp crunching sound as it packs beneath me. Drawing deep icy breaths, I exhale clouds of fog. Exertion from the climb finally warms my core. Extremities are always the problem in the bitter cold. Many times, I've skied too far and have been nearly frozen on the return trip. Today, I judge correctly. My toes are just beginning to tingle when I sight home. I am alone in the peace of a snowy wilderness with only squirrels and Gray Jays for company. I wonder if their toes ever get cold?

Monday, January 28, 2019

Small Stone - Photos with Stories

A blog friend just joined a photography club and wrote this to me:

"I’m finding it to be just a bunch of old men droning on about f stops and hyper focal stuff."

I smile because I relate. Oh, I've had my share of classes and manuals and great instructors. I'm grateful for that background. I know that many (most) professional photographers and a lot of amateurs are intrigued by the science of photography, the craft of it. I can talk f stops, too, but several years ago, I realized that what I really want to do with my photography is tell stories. I like to write stories, and I like my photos to tell stories. 

A photo of mine doesn't necessarily have to be excellent or a piece of creative genius for me to love it. Sometimes it's just a feeling I have when I see a scene and point the lens. I like to shoot landscapes, but if I can capture people candidly, I've found those pictures often speak to me. However, I'm not comfortable with shooting street photography that may invade the privacy of others. I like capturing people whose identity is masked in my photos. I break this rule, of course, with family. I love natural light. I like feeling the camera in my hand. I like scenes that are spontaneous rather than planned. I don't organize scenes or people for optimum outcome. 

I like a little real life scruffiness in the photo. The story behind the photo I'm sharing is this:

Bob and I were in the van driving for groceries. Suddenly, the air was black with birds. They floated and wheeled in the sky, forming patterns that changed rapidly as they flew. I reached for my iPhone and snapped as we were moving. It was an amazing sight, and I didn't capture it well with that photo. But, the sky and the clouds and the blobby sun shining on those birds make me feel excited, so I'm sharing that photo today. And that's my story...

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Small Stone - Mountain Town Winter

animals tracks on the river
ice and snow underfoot
wind off high peaks
blowing, blowing, blowing

a penetrating cold keeps town shivering

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Small Stone - Red Fox

A male fox visited this morning. I was making toast when I saw him approach the deck from the forest. He was a handsome red with a bushy tail. Sometimes, the foxes jump onto the deck and peer into the windows to see what's happening inside. Today, he was too busy. I watched him run swiftly across snow banks, glancing over his shoulder. Suddenly, a smaller female joined him. This time of winter is peak mating season for foxes, so although they usually hunt and travel alone, sometimes I catch a glimpse of a mating pair. After a gestation of 53 days, kits are born. Sometimes the mothers raise their young in dens near us and bring the babies to visit. We never feed the foxes, but generations of them are so accustomed to us that they will approach if we allow it. Normally, we clap our hands and shoo them away. I don't want  a fox approaching a grandchild having a snack outside. They are wild, smart, playful creatures with whom we share the natural world.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Small Stone - Morning Exercise

Bundled into layers, I ski behind Bob. He breaks trail in new snow (the harder job). I follow so my skis pack it. We try to keep several looping trails in the National Forest behind our house packed all winter. Sometimes, others use the trails before us, so all we have to do is glide over packed snow. On this cold morning, nobody has ventured into the forest. We only see signs of wild things that passed in the night - moose, fox, coyote, squirrel, porcupine. Warmth finally trickles into my body as we climb and work. I bare my head, letting my cap dangle by its bungie attached to my coat. When we finally reach the apex, I put the fleece cap back on my head to preserve heat. We let gravity pull us along on the downhill section leading back to the house. We pass the octopus tree, a landmark telling us we're soon home. Our grandchildren named the tree when they were little. The sun suddenly appears and spotlights Bob. The glow looks warm, but it's not. By this time, my fingertips and toes hurt from the cold. My toes are pieces of wood, and the cold is hammering them. Bob is tired, and I'm frozen. This trail is packed for another day. When I glimpse our house through the trees, I think about steaming coffee and the warmth of the fireplace. Even though I'm glad to be home, I'm happy that I can still roam in the wilderness just outside my back door.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Small Stone - Brrrrr

another frigid day
ice crystals on the gate
trees shivering in the wind
sun-strewn glitter on snow
cold is a fellow traveller I ignore

(if I use temperature as an excuse, I'll never leave the house)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Small Stone - Negative Space

Wikipedia defines negative space in photography as using a neutral or contrasting background 
to draw attention to the main subject, which then is referred to as positive space.
Negative space is a visual cue that allows the eye to rest.

Bob took this photo of me floating downward in negative space
(and feeling quite positive).

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Small Stone - Bear-y Glad It's Over

up before dawn, dental appointment on my mind
stomach aflutter with nerves
a cup of tea and nothing else

fresh snow and frigid temperatures 
slow driving on icy roads
hands gripping the wheel

morning moon a communion wafer
ice fog on the peaks
let it be over soon in my thoughts

home - relief
a little poorer and worse for wear
tooth needs a crown

I need a rest
bear-y glad it's over
until next time... 

(for those who read my stone about my broken tooth, my dentist and his wife had a healthy baby boy)

Monday, January 21, 2019

Small Stone - Payment in Hugs

Do you remember when work was play?
When accomplishing the task made you feel proud...
When payment was hot chocolate (with sprinkles)...
When a thank you was reward enough...

I know a little guy who likes to shovel and will work for hot chocolate and a hug.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Small Stone - Tracks Haiku (5-7-5)

rabbit tracks in snow
etched by sunlight and shadow 
leading me homeward

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Small Stone - Broken Tooth

Just after I woke this morning, I broke an upper back tooth while eating a piece of toast. It's a holiday weekend here. When I called my dentist's office, his message machine came on, saying the office was closed until Tuesday. As an aside, the message said he and his wife were having a baby this weekend. Panic notched higher as I felt the sharp edges of the remaining enamel and the jagged break receding into my gum. Calling several other dentists in our county, all were closed. One mentioned that the Rocky Mountain Dental Association was meeting this weekend in Summit County. All those dentists nearby, and nobody to help! Finally, I called my dentist's cellphone, a call I dreaded making because I didn't want to disturb his family (was he at the moment helping his wife in the birthing chamber?)... He answered on the third ring and immediately, hearing his quiet, friendly voice, I felt calmer. "Are you in pain?" he asked. Actually, I wasn't, though the large chunk of broken tooth would indicate I should be. We decided I could wait until Tuesday unless I start having pain. I wished him and his wife a safe and happy birth (happening tomorrow). Now, I'm trying to keep my tongue away from that gaping hole. I'm dreading the dental work I'm sure to need. I'm thankful for a minimum of discomfort. I'm smiling thinking of my dentist's new baby.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Small Stone - Kitchen Sink Soup

Today, I made "Kitchen Sink Soup."
Some call it "Stone Soup."
I pulled veggies from the fridge and began chopping.
I threw everything into my heavy French pot.
I make a variation of this soup when I need to use up vegetables.
It's different every time, but I always use a bit of Miso (suggested by a Japanese friend). 
Lots of herbs went into the simmering broth. 

Snow swirled outside as wind howled.
Steam from the soup pot warmed my face.
The smell of the soup drew Bob from his office.

We just had a taste - yummy.
I'd ladle you a big bowl if only you were here with me.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Small Stone - Don't Break/Don't Spill

We visited friends last evening. Their lovely home is filled with collectibles - original art, photography, sculpture, Oriental and Native rugs plus mid-19th Century modern furniture. I sat carefully on a leather ottoman and reminded myself not to make any sudden moves. Most importantly, I concentrated on not spilling my wine. I noticed that they served only champagne and white. Probably didn't want to tempt fate with a red.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Small Stone - Blue Shadows

winter light casts blue shadows onto the snow
we ski toward the sun

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Small Stone - Winter Woods

Winter Woods

gliding through the purity of white
relaxing into silence
alone with myself

Friday, January 11, 2019

Small Stone - Restless

toss and turn
restless night
white noise of snow plow
scraping through my dreams

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Small Stone - Winter Walk

It’s both College Week and Ullr Festival in town. That combination means lots of young people partying. Luckily, just out my door wilderness beckons. I often walk on a snow-covered dirt road near my house. I use Yaktrax on my trail shoes to prevent slipping on snow and ice. I stay alert for moose, but today I met only small wild things. After walking 5 miles, I'm back home having a treat in front of the fire.

air pure and crisp
snow crunching with each footfall
squirrels scolding me for intruding
sun warming my shoulders
gray jay calling my name
trees whispering secrets
a winter walk

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Small Stone - Missed Connections

we crave electronic connection
the call, the text, the alert

while life's fleeting delights
jeweled sunlight on snow, shy smiles, frisky dogs, wide eyed children, lovingkindness
(actual connections to humanity and nature)

are forever lost in the moment

a brief connection with a tiny bird

I'm trying to be more mindful in 2019 of the connections that uplift and help me grow.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Small Stone - My Beating Heart

Each year on January 8, I celebrate.
Nine years ago, when I was 65, I tore an artery near my heart.
I subsequently had a heart attack from the clot that formed.
I went from strong to weak.
Confident to scared.
Well to vulnerable.

Part of my fear was that the tear and attack were so random.
I was healthy, ate well, and exercised.
A heart attack wasn't even on my radar.

I was spared and regained my healthy life, though it took awhile.
We all have an expiration date.
As I age, I'm certainly getting closer to mine.
I'm thankful for the nine extra years I've enjoyed.

between heart beats


until it beats again

Monday, January 7, 2019

Small Stone - Finding His Way

at six he finds maps fascinating
he likes to know 
where he is, 
where he's been, 
where he's going
he carries a paper map of the ski area in a pocket
carefully folding and unfolding
he points to lifts and trails he's taken
naming his routes
safe in the knowledge of his small world

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Small Stone - Begin Again

when the thread of night weaves into the fabric of day
give thanks for a new beginning

Friday, January 4, 2019

Small Stones - Sing Me a Song

listen carefully for the meaning behind the lyrics
between notes sadness and yearning dwell
I hear and I understand

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Small Stone - Not What You'd Expect

a murder in the neighborhood
quiet broken by cacophony
perpetrators linger
as I walk calmly by

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Small Stone - Selective Listening

several years ago, I told my cardiologist that I was distracted
by the sound of my heart beating in my ears

his advise:

don't listen

(sometimes the most obvious solutions elude me)

The photo was taken at dusk on a cliff overlooking the ocean in Del Mar, CA. 
I used my Olympus OMD-EM1 and edited in Snapseed.
I listened to the beat of the ocean as I took the photo.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Small Stone - A New Year's Promise

I started this blog in 2011 to participate in an international Small Stone writing challenge. A Small Stone is a brief, mindful observation that may take the form of poetry or journaling. Some of the blog friends I made through the years of writing Stones still use the practice to encourage daily introspection and creativity. And so for the month of January, I begin writing stones to welcome 2019. As is my practice, I often use a photo along with the stone.

A New Year's Promise

morning chill, pewter light, trail leading to the promise of a new year