Photo Challenge: Solitude



I’m fortunate to be able to be completely entranced by subtle changes in my world. This misty morning was intensely silent and reinforced my concept of solitude, which is: Solitude is not loneliness, it is the exquisite appreciation of aloneness and quiet connection.

I Float

Prompt: Float


“Describe yourself in ten words or less.”

That was a silly assignment, but the seven words I came up with still resonate:

I float, I vote, I don’t smoke.


I’m not sure why such random-sounding words remain such an accurate summary in so many ways. I do vote (very opinionated, I am), I did quit smoking (that was crazy, believe me), and I do float through life (much to my own dismay).


What are your words?

Courage and Finesse

Prompt: Zing!



“You are too perfect,” Annie said.

“Make me imperfect,” said Virginia.

Annie smiled. “That’s not what I do.”

They were on Annie’s balcony in East Manhattan, an extension of her new, small two bedroom apartment. It was set high enough that traffic and street noise were a pleasant, comforting hum. Twinkling lights were starting to appear.

“I am far from perfect anyway,” Virginia said, with some irritation. “Treat me like any commission.”

They both took a sip of wine. “I’m too expensive for you,” said Annie.

“I’ll give you a jar of my homemade cranberry peach jam,” said Virginia.

Annie hesitated. She pushed her glasses farther up the bridge of her nose. “Ok,” she said. “I have studio time next month. I want you to arrive as your imperfect self.”

“No makeup?” said Virginia.

“No nothing of any kind. Bring your pain and lost memories. We’ll find something.”

Virginia nodded. It was time she was revealed for the fraud she was. She looked forward to it. It would be cleansing, freeing, a path full of stones and dust that would lead to the person she really was, which was not perfectly beautiful, nor perfect in nature, nor perfect in any way at all.

“Your husband contacted me,” said Annie.

There was a slightly chill breeze. Virginia pulled the muslin wrap around her shoulders. “Cash? Seriously?”

“Yes. I didn’t remember him at first, but I think he was at that Vanity Fair couture shoot in Paris? Eating all the eclairs.”

Virginia laughed. “Yes, that’s Cash.” She set her wine glass down on a sleek stainless steel side table. “How did he even get your number? What did he want?”

“How, I don’t know. Am I in your phone?” said Annie. “He wanted advice. He submitted three pics to the PhotoLens international nature photography contest, and seemed surprised that he didn’t win it.”

“Oh no, sorry Annie.”

Annie waved her hand. “He contacted me in text, then sent me the photographs he submitted to the contest. Really nice shots of hummingbirds. He didn’t seem to realize he wasn’t the first to capture a hummingbird mid-flight.”

“Cash believes all his random thoughts are original and kind of genius,” said Virginia. “What did you tell him?”

“That his shots were good. But unoriginal. Even a great shot has to have an essence. His shots were technically ok, but spiritually void.”

“Wow,” said Virginia.

“Yes, sorry, I hope he wasn’t upset.”

“He said nothing.”

“Ask him about it, if you are still talking,” said Annie.

“Yeah we are, mostly,” said Virginia.

“Still not interested in changing teams?” said Annie. “I know I’m too old and too busy and too self-absorbed, but I know some good people.”

“No thanks, Annie,” said Virginia. “Tempted as I might be. And thank you for counselling Cash.”

“Does he even know who I am?” asked Annie.

“Oh god no,” said Virginia. “He knows you are a photographer friend of mine. Cash is like a figure skater, Annie. He skims across the ice, sometimes with great courage and finesse, and has amazing moves and tricks, but has no curiosity about what lies below the surface.”

“I thought he was a treasure to be discovered.” Virginia said. “Annie, he is a treasure, but a box of shiny gems, with no diamonds or gold coins hidden deeper in the treasure chest, but he is…” She paused and picked a fruit fly out of her glass of merlot. She flicked it into the night, over the city of New York.

“Hmm,” said Annie. “More wine?”

Virginia looked at the lights of the lower east side, now shimmering in the darkness. She was incapable of deciding what do do with her life until she understood who she was. “Yes please,” she said. “Thanks, Annie.”

The Hummingbird Man

Prompt: Sanctuary


Cash had heard that migratory birds sometimes stopped on Brasseux Lake on their way south; unusual birds for the region, like pelicans. He had never seen a pelican outside a zoo, and was fascinated by their prehistoric appearance, so getting a good shot of a pelican was his quest for this day. Failing that, he knew where the hummingbird sanctuary was, and could probably get a good freeze frame of hummingbird wings, if the camera was working properly,

He didn’t know if it was or not. It was an old Nikon SLR that his sister had given him for his 20th birthday, and with which he’d taken a photograph of his dog jumping up from a green lake to catch a tennis ball. Quite a dynamic action shot, and every droplet and strand of hair was in sharp, perfect focus. It was however, as much as everyone admired Cash for its capture, composition, and clarity, a complete accident.

He hoped for a similar accident today, to prove to his sister that he wasn’t completely useless. He would enter it in the Wildlife Federation contest and win something, and Envy might then get off his back.

She was probably expending all the pent-up nagging that she hadn’t used towards Marcus, and all the pent-up anger, too, pushed down so deep that it was now explosive. Cash didn’t appreciate being the recipient, or having her bad-mouth him to his wife (one of her closest friends), or pass judgement on his misadventures. He would demonstrate to her that he was serious, creative, and artistic, even if he wasn’t. At all. None of the above.

There were no pelicans to be seen, and Cash grew impatient. He wandered over to the hummingbird garden, where trumpet vines and lilies clustered around colourful but abandoned plastic feeders hung from low branches of the Russian olive trees. Beyond the trees, near a rocky shore, he saw an older man and kid, and wondered if they had frightened all the hummingbirds away. But no— Cash approached them, then stopped. The hummingbirds were feeding from a plastic red and yellow flower cluster that the old man held out in his hand.

They swarmed around him. They ignored the boy, who stood very still, and took their turns at the feeder, then fluttered away, and perhaps fluttered back.

Cash raised his camera and took twenty or so exposures in quick succession, then crouched down so the two men and the hummingbirds were framed by the flickering silver spear-like leaves of the olive tree. And more shots, when he crept a little closer. A close up of the man’s face. A close up of the boy, who looked to be about sixteen, and who stood as motionless as a wax statue.

Cash then took a step forward, and was noticed, and the hummingbirds flitted away.

“Incredible,” said Cash amiably, as he joined them on the rocky beach. “Sorry I scared them away, but I got some good shots.” He held up the old Nikon.

The old man and boy were startled, but the old guy held out his hand. “I’m Bernard, and this is my grandson, Andrew.”

“Cash.” He took the offered hand and found the old man had a firm and steady grip. The boy stood unsmiling and motionless, still.

“You took pictures?” asked the man.

“Yes! Incredible. I never saw anything like this. How did you do it? I should get a winner or two out of this roll.”

“Unfortunately, I would rather you didn’t use the pictures of me and my grandson.”

“I’ll pay you,” said Cash. A wrong move, because the old man frowned. “Sorry. I mean I won’t use them without your permission.”

“Good,” said Bernard. He took a card out of his jacket pocket. On it was printed his name, address and telephone number. Scrawled across the bottom in ballpoint pen was an email address. “Call me, ok, Cash?”

“Will do,” said Cash, puzzled, and he watched them hike back up to the road where they got into a yellow taxi cab. It skidded on the gravel a little, before reaching the highway and disappearing into the distance.

Cash debated whether or not to wait for the pelicans. But he couldn’t erase the image from his mind, as if it was already a photograph, developed and printed, of an old man surrounded by hummingbirds. He wanted to see the pictures he took. He wanted to see the old man’s face again. And the boy’s face too: so still, so focused, so enraptured. Incredible.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Dinnertime

Photo Prompt: Dinnertime

Slow Cooker 2

Photo by Fluffy Pool

This is a photo of a simmering stew I made in the slow cooker and photographed for my recipe blog. I didn’t use this picture, because it wasn’t very helpful, but I kind of liked the lusciousness of the food in the cooker, the abstract quality of the photo, and the reflections in the glass lid, one of which is the iPhone that I used to take the picture.