Must Be Fall

4x6 PostcardWhen Common Ground comes around, you know it must be fall in Maine.  An annual event, it is sponsored by Maine Organic Farmers and Growers Association, the mission of which is to educate about and advocate for organic agriculture, illuminating its interdependence with a healthy environment, local food production, and thriving communities.DSC01424From all over the state tens of thousands come to Unity to experience Common Ground.

Believe me, there is something for everybody be it tents promoting social justice

DSC01410or  informing people about available services in Maine

DSC01426or offering demonstrations of every kind.

DSC01412Tired feet?  That can be helped by a few moments of reflexology.

DSC01429Hungry?  There is vendor after vendor serving all kinds of food, organic of course!

DSC01396 (1)For me, where there is the hardest time resisting temptation are the tents offering handmade goods ranging from pottery

DSC01402to homemade edibles

to a variety of wearables.

DSC01464The fiber tent is one where I like to touch and feel.

DSC01461  Many of the yarns are hand spun and dyed, two things I never got into.  The woven pieces I create don’t lend themselves to wool, but seeing all these beautiful yarns made me want to take up knitting!  Can’t you just imagine what could be done with such a selection of colors?

DSC01450Keep in mind that Common Ground is about organic farming so it’s a good time to stock up on produce.  I so admire those who’ve dedicated themselves to working the land. Their fresh from the field fruits and vegetables have given me new appreciation for what really good is.

DSC01389.jpgWith all the displays and presentations, you’d think that would be enough, but there’s another thing that makes Common Ground such fun and that’s people watching.  A whole new definition of styles exists, but, you know, that’s one of the things that makes Maine such a unique place.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind


Paris: A Different Look

The hubby and I have been to Paris several times with guide book in hand to make sure we didn’t miss anything.  This time was different.  We did very little that could be considered touristy as our focus was on people and place.

DSC01096Because we were close to Notre Dame, we passed by several times a day.

DSC00479It was impossible to resist taking photos from every angle and at different hours.

DSC00416Crazy as it seemed, we realized we’d never been inside, so one morning, with there seeming to be no waiting crowd, we went in.  To say the least it is an impressive structure causing me once again to marvel at the ability to create and build that existed centuries ago.

DSC00421Looking around at the people snapping selfies, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were more interested in capturing themselves in the building than in studying its grandeur.

DSC00467Close by is Sainte Chapelle, one of my favorite places in Paris.  There was no way I could pass by without going inside to again experience its dramatic beauty.  

DSC00469Seeing the majesty of it and Notre Dame made me appreciate the courage of those who disobeyed Hitler’s orders to destroy Paris.

DSC00882 (1)With those two visits behind, the remainder of our experience was exploring, primarily  Ile de laCite and  Ile Sainte- Louis.

DSC00756I so enjoyed the characters on the street.

There seemed to be no limit to what they did to draw attention.

DSC00783No matter the act, I can’t imagine the euros earned are enough to provide more than a meager livelihood.

DSC00928What I liked best about walking the streets was capturing unposed versions of people doing what they do.

DSC01186It might be a child finding a new friend on a playground

DSC00777or two friends enjoying the sunshine while walking the dog

DSC01355or a couple sharing a special moment at a sidewalk cafe.

DSC01006In the dark of night Paris is aglow.

The changing colors of the Eiffel Tower light the sky

DSC01039and a smaller version of the Statue of Liberty stands proud on the banks of the Seine.  I had no idea that existed, but it makes sense as Lady Liberty was a gift to the U.S from France.

Yes, my view of Paris is forever changed thanks to a workshop that encouraged paying attention to all that can be experienced beyond the familiar tourist attractions.  

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind


Tips for Street Photography

Street photography is a challenge, one more difficult than I anticipated.  It’s about acting in an instant to capture a moment that tells a story.  That means more than zooming in and snapping a photo from a distance as I have been so prone to do.

DSC01158 (1)This is a good example.  Though I did capture the moment, there is no story and the result is little more than an attractive couple taking a selfie.  

DSC00680As I explored Paris streets, Peter Turnley’s reminder that life gives us pictures kept ringing in my head.  More often than not the pictures involve people, and it is important that the photo be authentic, not posed.  

DSC00789If people notice you pointing a camera, especially one with a big lens, in their direction, they may shy away.  Asking permission, establishing a rapport before snapping away is a good idea.  That can be a bit tricky, so it requires some doing to become confident making the ask to a perfect stranger.  Once you are comfortable, however, the other  person relaxes and, in some cases, rather likes the idea of being your subject.  DSC00727Showing the result of your photo gets a very positive response, and don’t be surprised if you are asked to share it.  In that case, Turnley suggests that having a card with your name and email address is a handy way of dealing with the request.  That puts the ball for remembering to follow through in the other person’s court.

DSC01364Turnley emphasized having photos include a sense of place.  As I reviewed my pictures, I began to see what that meant.  Here, for example, it’s obvious the performer has drawn a crowd, but there is nothing that tells more.

DSC01371The second photo is more successful as the buildings and street lights hint at place.  I had to do a bit of body bending to get it all in which happens to be another challenge of street photography.  Standing erect and shooting straight on just doesn’t always work.

DSC01355Turnley suggests making pictures horizontal as more of the story can be presented in that format.  He strongly advises  framing the picture so that what you get requires minimal cropping.  Talk about a challenge!

DSC00605Whether to have your pictures in color or black and white is a personal choice.  The difference, according to Turnley,  is that color is rooted in present reality whereas black and white removes a bit of that.

DSC00780My takeaway from a week of attempting street photography is that it takes a lot of practice and a keen observant eye.  It also requires you to step outside your comfort zone and rely more on your own ability rather than on the camera’s capability.  Remember, the camera is only a tool.  What you do with it is what matters.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind


With Camera In Hand, Ready!

DSC01289Where to begin describing what was an intense and fun filled experience?  Thanks to an opportunity provided by Maine Media Workshop I traveled to Paris for a few days to focus on street photography with Peter Turnley.  Now, that name may not be familiar to you, but chances are you’ve seen his work on the cover of Newsweek where it has appeared 43 times or on a Sixty Minutes segment featuring him and his twin brother, also a photojournalist.  Peter is recognized as one of the world’s best, and he is also a renowned street photographer splitting time between Paris and New York when he is not traveling to one place or another.

DSC01284So, what does it mean to take a workshop with Peter?  Knowing his credentials, I thought learning from him might be a bit intimidating.  Not so.  Peter is not only interesting but interested in the people he teaches.  He is warm and approachable, qualities which show in his work.  Most importantly, he provides positive critiques that give clues how to improve.

DSC00412 (1)What I focused on this week was seeing.

DSC00388That meant walking with my head up paying attention to all that was around me.

DSC00355 (1)I had my camera ready to fire away in an instant so as not to miss the moment.

DSC00537I  attempted to find a story in what I saw through the camera’s lens.

DSC00402Most importantly, I tried to own the idea that I am a photographer which is a pretty tall order.

DSC00858With those thoughts in mind, I hit the street remembering that, in Peter’s words, a camera is only a tool.  What matters is what is done with it.  

I will share with you my results and the tips that may help us all become better photographers.  Stay tuned!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind 


Changing Times

At one time Maine was a prosperous state thanks to lumber, textiles, boat building and fish packing.  Those days are gone as one business after another has disappeared. A dwindling economy means that many of the small towns that define Maine are having to reinvent themselves to give folks opportunity to make a living. Two midcoast towns that have done just that are Belfast and Rockland.

Belfast Belfast once relied on chicken and sardine packing to provide its economy.  Today, those businesses and the associated smells have been replaced with restaurants, galleries and retail shops.

For us, it is easy to go to Belfast on the boat which means a fun outing and a great way to entertain guests. Favorite stops are Chase’s Daily, a combination vegetarian restaurant and farmers market featuring flowers and produce brought in daily from the owner’s farm.

I stock up on those things, but my very favorite thing is the chocolate cherry cookies that are irresistible!

New on the scene since last year is a year round farmers market that sells everything from handmade goods to cheese to meats to produce.  One can spend a couple of hours there browsing and snacking on Saturdays from 9 until 2.

IMG_2045Rockland has undergone a complete metamorphosis in recent years.  When we started coming to Maine 26 years ago, we held our noses and quickly passed through.  These days Rockland prides itself for being the state’s art capital.

IMG_2044It is home to the Farnsworth, one of the country’s best small art museums. It has an extensive collection of Maine related art, but the real draw is the work of the Wyeth’s: Andrew, N. C. and Jamie.

IMG_2047An exciting addition to the  community is CMCA (Center for Maine Contemporary Art), formerly located in Rockport.  Early on, some were concerned about its architectural style not complementing buildings dating back to the 1800’s, but that worry has dissipated and CMCA adds a vibrancy to the flourishing art scene.

IMG_2043As many charms as Maine has, the sad truth is that it is a poor state.  So much of the economy depends on summer tourism, but aside from the coast there is not much to draw visitors.  With dwindling opportunity, it becomes increasingly important for small towns to respond to changing times.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Flowers, Random

Hydrangea Love

Hydrangea_macrophylla_-_Hortensia_hydrangeaLike many of you, I’m crazy about hydrangeas, and here in Maine one variety or another blooms from spring until late fall.

IMG_1573 (1)The first to appear is the climbing variety.  It does tend to take over if  not groomed which makes my hubby crazy.  If I don’t keep a watchful eye, he will attack with a vengeance tearing them away from whatever they’ve attached themselves to.

A favorite is the lace cap which starts blooming in late June and is still lovely as it fades away in September.  These were almost lost as they were in the path of construction, but I dug them up hoping to save them until they could be relocated.  Now there is a bumper crop!

Summer abounds with blooms, and it is fascinating to observe all their colors.  Though I’m not sure of the variety from which these come, it could be Endless Summer though the colors on each of my bushes is quite different.

IMG_1999This full bodied bloom changes from white to lime as it matures. It reminds me of my great grandmother’s house where outside the window of her living room was a hydrangea with blooms as big as my head.  We called them snowballs and that is how I continue to think of this lovely.

IMG_2007Late August the hydrangea trees begin to show off cone shaped blooms that are first white and then turn to beautiful pink tones.    

IMG_2006When they have turned, it is a great time for gathering stems to dry for use in lovely arrangements.

IMG_2002How lucky am I to be surrounded by all this beauty right in my own yard!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind


A Time to Play

Creating a centerpiece is fun, a time to play and let creativity shine.  

tablescapeIt can begin with a kid’s toy

filled with flowersor a collection of sprinkler cans.

southwestern tableWhen the garden is blooming wildly,  gather a handful of blooms and arrange them in a collection of favorite bottles.  This is the simplest way to stage any tabletop.

tablescapeSculptural shapes are fun to use as part of a centerpiece and interesting textiles are great inspiration for color.

Halloween tablescapeSeasonal creations can be full of whimsey

white tablescapeas well as reflect the season’s bounty.

Valentine tableThere’s no time better than holidays for play.

Christmas decorPull out those favorite things and let them star on a table.birdhouse tableHave a collection?  Use pieces from it as part of a playful creation.

tablescapeEven a serious table can be play as it involves bringing beautiful glass and china and silver out of hiding.

IMG_1975What is wonderful about creating a centerpiece is that it can be used again and again as inspiration for tables.  Simple changes can create an entirely different look, so play and see where it leads!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind


Tablescape Thursday