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COLD SUN, WINTER COMING

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The cold sun in the sky and afternoon shadows herald a chilly night. Snow coming soon.

I don’t get the sun’s rays or star by using a special filter. I use just a skylight filter to protect my lens and not on every lens, either. I can get the star effect by angling the camera when the sun is in front of me. I have to twiddle with the position of the camera until I see the star and then shoot. It’s not a special effect, just optics.

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COLD SUNSHINE, COLD WATER

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It’s a cold sun in the November sky. The branches are bare now. Even the late-clinging oak leaves are gone. Winter is coming  – and our oil tank is empty. No hot water, no heat and the temperature is dropping.

What happened to the delivery? This is the first time in 13 years we’ve been missed. Sigh. It’s always something. Got to get the truck here to fill us! And prime the boiler too. Another sigh.

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BARE REFLECTIONS

Reflections November River

The leaves are gone and the weeds are turned to straw along the river. Less than a month ago, this was plush, rich with color and surging with life. How quickly the season turns. It’s not cold yet. But winter is knocking at the door. If I don’t answer it, will winter stay away?

November river

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LAST TREE STANDING

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I looked out my window. The bright yellow trees have turned bronze, the scarlet maples are bare. But there, in the middle of the brown of November is one, bright tree — a Japanese Maple given to me years ago by my cousin. It has been lovingly nurtured for over a decade. Here is the last shining tree of Autumn 2013. The last tree standing.

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A November Woods

Still burdened with a stubborn cough, even so — I can get to the kitchen and out the back door. Camera in hand. Such a beautiful day. A good excuse to use a camera I rarely use, the Olympus SP-810UZ (36X zoom) . I wondered what I might create.

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The woods is a still-life composed of leaves, twigs and rich blue sky.

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November came gently and sweetly this year. Winter will come before November is done, but for now it’s still almost summer though it carries the palette of late autumn.

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The seasons tick along. Nature’s clock, relentlessly marching towards winter. So far, November is warm and bright. Color hides in the crooks of trees.

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Good to live in a place where nature abounds. No searching. My forest is beautiful.

30,000 hits … Go figure.

It seemed appropriate — what with getting all these awards during the last few days — that this is the week I hit another landmark. On November 9th, I passed 20,000 hits and today, exactly 3 weeks later, I hit

30,000

From February 2012, through the end of September, I gathered 10,000 hits. It took me a slightly more than a month to get the next 10,000. On November 9, I was at 20, 783.

At 11:38 pm — right now — I am at 30,044, which is just about 10,000 hits in three crammed weeks.

When there’s a lot of stuff going on, people come looking for more than information. We all want explanations, validation, confirmation that what we believe is right or what we disbelieve is wrong. Those of us who put ourselves out there gain a certain amount of popularity, maybe notoriety or at least a degree of attention in return for fending off a lot of flak for having expressed opinions with which others do not agree. I try to back my opinion with facts, at least as far as I am can establish whatever facts exist. In the end though, facts are slippery as eels, subject to innumerable interpretations. Statistics are easily twisted to support virtually any position. Numbers are neutral, but what we do with them is not.

November 2012 was a newscaster and blogger’s dream. The richness of the available subject matter for a writer was unlimited.  It gave me a lot of room to stretch my writer’s wings, to try writing about things that would normally not fall in my purview.

The dreams of writers and reporters inevitably are built on events that are someone else’s nightmare. Sometime since the advent of electronic media has come to dominate the news industry, news no longer means information about current events … what’s happening. It used to be that news might be good or bad. News was merely “new.” It was the newness that counted, not any predetermined content.

It’s different now. Today, all news is bad news. “If it bleeds, it leads” is the unofficial motto of newsrooms around the nation and probably the globe. Violence and death draws an audience. If a story has a happy ending, it’s likely relegated to feature status or considered “not newsworthy” and thus completely ignored.

Lacking fresh disasters, the next hot ticket in the news biz are scandals, financial crises, sports, weather, and anything happening to a celebrity. These days, we have celebrities who are famous for being famous. They’ve never done anything noteworthy. They don’t act, sing, play an instrument or invent things. They aren’t politicians or scientists. They are nobodies. I hope I am never desperate enough to write about any of them. Since I have pretty much no idea of who is currently famous, I’m unlikely to write about them. Most of the time, guests on talk shows are strangers to me. I can’t tell one from another. Neither can my husband. If you are looking for the latest gossip, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere. I have neither information nor opinions on the subject.

Election day 2012I plead guilty to enjoying lively discussion and controversy, though I require civility however much we disagree. I figure we should be able maintain the same level of manners in public disputation that we would demand of a 5-year-old. That has turned out to be an unreasonably high expectation when issues of national importance were under discussion. No kindergarten teacher would allow such appalling behavior from her charges, but we not only tolerate, but actually encourage worse behavior from public figures.

As angry as I have been about policies and issues, I have been far more upset by the bad behavior of public figures, many with advanced degrees slinging mud, calling names, and clearly trying to incite violence. There ought to be limits, there ought to be a level below which we will not sink. Watching “Lincoln” yesterday reminded me how uncivil our public behavior has been over the years. The difference between then and now is the presence of electronic media that allows everyone to immediately see — in real-time — how ill-mannered we really are. It used to be a dirty little secret; now it’s an international embarrassment.

The sheer energy generated by so many major events occurring at the same time helped me gain an audience at a faster rate than I could have done had there not been so many important events occurring. There was Sandy, the giant storm. A storms is inherently uncivil. Storms have an excuse. They have no brain cells, just mighty wind, rain or snow … so a storm has an excuse for mindlessness, but what excuse can there be for people like Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck?  Perhaps they too lack brain cells. But more likely, they simply like a conscience and the level of manners required of a pre-schooler.

I get a reasonable number of regular visitors these days. I’m not exactly viral but I have an acceptable following. The number of visitors rises and falls according to some invisible tide over which I have nominal control . When Serendipity’s visitor count first popped up from 70 or 80 on a good day to over a thousand, I figured it was a fluke and would fizzle. As I expected, the visitor count has leveled off, but apparently people who initially dropped by for a particular post continued to return for other things. I am more inclined to trust the new, steadier numbers I get now than the wild up and downs surges of early and mid November.Here, Griffin!

It’s harder to find relevant, exciting content when there are no super exciting events in progress, but I try to stay relevant, try to find interesting subjects. Maybe make a few people laugh or at least smile. I like offering historical background for whatever is going on, the rest of the story we didn’t get in elementary school. Understanding the world is easier if you have the perspective of history. Context counts.

Thanks for reading, thanks for being my friends and making me feel that I’m still a real live part of the living world.  Let’s all hope that this year is going to be a better one than last year. Maybe less full of news, but more full of joy!

Indian Summer

It rained for a week. We were lucky it didn’t rain very hard and we didn’t get any high winds. Sometimes October storms are fierce. Not only do dying hurricanes meander up the coast from points south, but a nor’easter can strip leaves from the trees, wash away beaches and occasionally cause massive flooding.

Usually, though, we just lose Autumn. Naked trees with a few sad brown leaves still clinging to branches replace the brilliant colors we hoped for. Why do we need the color so much? We yearn for it, dream of it. It’s Christmas for our eyes, the delight of everyone who has a camera.

Yet it’s also an ending, the final breath of summer, glorious and brief.

The rain ended during the night. Today Old Sol was bright and the world was lit with gold, scarlet, russet, and yellow under the warm amber October sunshine.

Everything and everyone looks beautiful in the warm sunlight of October.

It was warm today, warm enough for shorts and tees and sandals. Indian summer is here. If we are lucky, it might last into November … but it might end tomorrow.

No time to waste. Keep the camera batteries charged. Be alert. Stay ready to go and grab the season. Winter will be here soon enough.

Time to hunt for pumpkins, time to carve the Jack o’ lanterns. Time to pick a Halloween costume. Time to enjoy a last burst of beauty and sunshine before New England‘s fickle weather turns our wold to ice and snow.