Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Signs of Spring - Glory Be

There is a good reason why I have Witch Hazel planted in my garden where I can see it from the house.  Witch Hazel, bless it's wild and wonderful little heart, blooms here in New York, in late February and early March,  just about the time I become desperate for a bit of color and some sign that spring is, indeed, on the way.  

Another late winter clue comes from the birds.  They begin chasing one another around the yard in a decidedly amorous way.   Their winter silence is broken and  an occasional song can be heard.  

Inevitably, one damp and dreary winter morning, I will look out the window and notice that the sweet American Goldfinches, who turn a dull gray in winter are beginning to show traces of their coming yellow glory.  Everyday they are a bit brighter!  

Of course, in another week or two, there will be daffodils and other fancy stuff starting to bloom.

 But right now, in spite of cold and wind and lingering piles of snow, thanks to the Witch Hazel and the Goldfinches, I can believe in spring!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Is Orange the New Black ? - A Haibun of Sorts

Someone asked me recently if I thought 80 might be the new 60.  I wondered, irritably, I might add, why in the world she would ask ME that question since I'm nowhere near 80 or even 70 for that matter?  How in heaven's name would I know?

For me, whatever age I am is a new adventure and some years have been a slide down while in other years, I have seemed to gain ground.

Take for instance the year I took up running. I was 57 years old and by the time I had been running for two years, I was thinner, stronger and healthier than I had been at 50.   Then came Rheumatoid Arthritis and with it, enough pain and stiffness to take running off the table. For almost two years, I was without an effective treatment and unable to exercise at all.  The downward slide was all too evident in those years.

crying child
orange balloon
just out of reach

My mental attitude was even more important than my physical condition.  At first I resented the betrayal of my body and I was angry. Stubbornly I decided I would not exercise until I could run again.  Call it denial, call it stupidity, whatever it was, I did not benefit much from that attitude.

snow moon
the brim of her hat
too wide

Once I accepted my body as the gift that it is, I began to move again and found that I really LOVED walking - long hikes at the beach, in the woods and in the city.  I realized I had missed so much while running and now I could enjoy the sights and sounds, particularly of nature, in a whole new way.

deep shade
just off the path
a blue heron

One of the triggers for R.A. is high levels of stress and my doctor suggested I take a look at what kinds of things were stressing me and how I was responding to that stress.  I began a meditation practice.  This changed my life in ways that are still a challenge to describe. 

stone Francis
outside in February
a dove perch  

I use several forms of meditation, each one adds significantly to the quality and joy in my life. They include contemplative prayer, breathing exercises and guided meditation.

 As you may know,  I have an active practice of writing Japanese short form poetry especially haiku.  This kind of writing brings my mind and senses to the present moment - and once I began to live in the present, I discovered, it is not only the best place to be, it is the ONLY place to be.

 winter snowfall -
a lotus blooming
on her kimono

Monday, December 22, 2014

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fun with Photography 'Apps'

 Don't get me wrong, I love my camera and the photos it takes.

 But recently, I discovered that I can change the look of my  photos

using a myriad of 'apps' on phone , tablet or computer.

 I was, of course,  aware of photoshop and that it could do lots more but, at first,  I was too timid to experiment with it.

 What I didn't realize was that there are scores of 'art' apps and photo editing apps that will alter photos to look

like watercolors 

or oil paintings.

and literally hundreds of other styles too.

I have been creating haiga using my photos for several years but recently began to experiment with altered photo images, such as these.

It is very enjoyable for me to put the photo through several 'apps' to get different effects.

Once I find the most pleasing image,  I use another program to add the poem to the image.

 These photos were taken last fall during the leaf-peeping season and depending on the mood I want to create

                  they can be very vibrant or muted.

I am not an artist but I do take some pretty good photos  and it has given me great pleasure to learn how to turn the pictures into 'works of art.'

Here is a completed haiga which was

published in the Winter 2014 edition of  Akitsu Quarterly

Take-Away - it is never too late to learn new tricks.
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