Life along the way

I spent the day doing a task all photographers must face. It’s no fun, but there’s no avoiding it. Sooner or later, the time comes to weed through the pictures, to take stock and get organized. It was time to do more than simply store the pictures. I looked through almost every file, years of digital photographs. The artistic stuff, the family photographs, the vacation pictures and holidays. Time to discard the bad ones I should have dumped in the first place. I converted all the RAW and TIFF  files to JPGs because I admitted to myself I am unlikely to need them. I’m not going to be making  lots of prints … and even if I were, the printer wants high quality JPGs, not TIFF or RAW. Time to let them go.


Photo: Debbie Stone

It was a complicated decision, one of many realities I’ve had to face. Not as hard as most life decisions, but tricky in its own small way.

For the last dozen years, much of life has involved recognizing and accepting limits, then figuring out how to work around them. There are physical limits, financial limits. I can’t afford things I don’t really need, though I sometimes splurge on something I want very much, like a lens for the camera or a bigger external hard drive. There are always choices to make and priorities to set.

Now, it’s facing one more fact of life: no more wall space. No room for anything, not for my  photographs or anything else. The walls are full of things I love. My photos are on display, but there are also paintings, some by friends, others bought at galleries in days when we had spare dollars to spend on non-necessities. Photos of Garry taken during his working years … with politicians and presidents.

Photo: Debbie Stone

Photo: Debbie Stone

He has awards and plaques and I have shadow-boxes filled with antique Chinese porcelain, Navajo pots, fetishes and figurines and Murano glass. Together we have a lifetime of vacation mementos and one small carved black peat cat bought in Ireland on our honeymoon. All the paintings, photos and things we bought on the Vineyard during a decade or more of summers. They need space. There’s no room, so I won’t be making lots of prints. I have dozens of paintings and photographs that were gifts from artist friends that I can’t afford to frame and if I could, I’d have no place to hang them.

I dumped hundreds of gigabytes of  RAW and TIFF files. While I was organizing, I consolidated files of similar things. I have dozens of New England autumns, thousands of pictures of dogs, kids, dogs and kids, friends and their kids and dogs.


This task sounds a lot more interesting than it actually is. In fact, it makes watching paint dry seem thrilling, but it needed to be done. And while I was sorting, reformatting and organizing, back on Serendipity, I quietly slipped over the 44,000 hit mark. I’ll celebrate at 45,000 I guess, or maybe I’ll wait for 50,000. The numbers have been moving so quickly.

Awards … another Liebster, more followers  — and I realize I have posted every day for more than six months. 868 posts as of tonight. Time has flown by. From thinking I’d put up an occasional post about something or other, maybe show some photographs … to recognizing that this blog has become important to me. It’s no longer a little hobby; it has become a focus.

I stopped bringing home a regular salary more than ten years ago when I became ill. I tried, intermittently, to work, but I couldn’t. Eventually, it became clear my career was over. My pride took a hit, but I don’t really miss work. I miss the paycheck, but work? Nope.

I settled down to not working and it required a bit of adjustment.  I’ve never been bored. For a while I was too sick to be bored, but I’ve always filled time by reading. It’s my fallback position. Somewhere in there I wrote a book. That consumed a couple of years and after that, for a few years I ran an online antique and collectibles business, which is where many of my antiques and other stuff originated. It was surprisingly successful, but the economy fell apart. The type of stuff I sold was based on people having spare money for things that are just beautiful, not necessarily useful. With the handwriting bright on the wall, I closed up shop.

Han pot

Han pot

If you aren’t going to school or working at a job, time tends to lose its shape. Blogging has given it a bit more form. It’s writing, which is as much who I am as what I do. As I move through my world, I look at the things I do and whatever is happening around me as stuff I can write about. When I hold a camera, I see the world in frames and perspective, I see colors and angles, light and shadow. When I think about it as a writer, I hear everything described in my mind, narrated.

Often, by the time I sit down to write, it’s almost written. It’s not always that easy, but sometimes it is. Sometimes words fall out of my fingers and it’s all just there, complete, waiting to put together.

Life has a rhythm, a pulse, a flow. From morning coffee to afternoon chores, to the evening when I write, watch a movie or some television, then write some more. Often, as now, I do both at the same time, something my husband finds baffling. If I think about it I suppose I’d find it baffling too, but I can do two things at a time. Usually. Depending on what the two things are.

The Mumford

If you’re waiting for me to get to the point, you’re out of luck. No point. Just a long ramble … rather like life.

In books, nothing happens without a reason. In literature, there are no coincidences, no accidental meetings. But life is full of things happening for no discernible reason. We can attribute meaning … religious meaning, omens, portents, whatever. But really, things just are what they are. We go from infancy to childhood then on into adulthood. We create goals and we push to achieve them, but the goals are not “real thing.” They are what we put in place to give our lives form, shape and direction, to make us feel purposeful.


It’s harder when you are older and in what I like to think of as your post-career because the kinds of aims and goals we had before don’t work and we have to find new directions. Most of us do. The classic image that young people have of old people sitting around doing nothing and just fading into the twilight is based on misconception and stereotyping. They are in a hurry to grow up, to get on to whatever it is they perceive as the next stage of life. They can’t understand what life is like when your primary goal is to enjoy your time, not dash through everything as fast as possible.

They’ll find out.

Categories: Arts, Blogging, Books, Friendship, Health, Life, Photography, Seasons, Travel

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

21 replies

  1. Absolutely wonderful post, Marilyn! It is full of life, joy, memories and the realization that at some point, things have to go. Wonderful pictures of you and Garry and of course, the dogs are well…each has a look on his (her) face that says, “The toy is mine! I DARE you touch it!” Just like two kids 🙂 When my mom passed away, I found boxes upon boxes of old photographs. I made individual albums, one of her, one of my dad, one of my brother, and of course, one of me. That took care of a ‘small’ portion of the pictures. The others were of aunt, uncles, cousins, some of whom I recognized, some that were labeled by Mom of a relative I never met. Then, of course, there were the piles and piles that had no name, no label, no idea of who, where or when. These appeared to go back to possibly late 19th, early 20th century. Tainted photographs hold a lot of memories, reflect a lot of history, and often tell their own stories. Hugs to you both! Thanks for the memories 😆


    • Thanks for being such a faithful friend. I wrote this for all of “us” … we who have road dust on our shoes from so much traveling. Some of us (Go Sharla!!) are still busily achieving too 🙂


    • One of the few perks of being older is perspective and the privilege to move through life at a pace that suits you rather than running all the way at top speed. It is nice to be out of the race, though I do wish we could all do it in rather a bit more style … but on the other hand, glad to be doing it at all!!


  2. The photos and comments beget (cue Spencer Tracy’s Biblical cross exam of Fredric March in “Inherit The Wind”) many thoughts. The photos: Debbie Stone is one helluva photographer!! Best Marilyn and Garry pixs seen in a long, long time!! The Dogs photo (Bonnie & Amber) is hilarious!! Our quartet of furry kids always brings smiles into our lives — even on this day when everyone here is sick, including me. Bright side: Daughter-In-Law Sandy made a big batch of Chicken Soup, laden with goodies, for dinner last night. We sat around the table, laughing about various things, temporarily forgetting how lousy we felt. Passage of time: Several friends and family members have died in the last few weeks and I’m again experiencing that very familiar sense of mortality. So, I embrace my personal r/x — old movies. Last night’s viewing included “The Catered Affair”, an under appreciated 1956 gem with Bette Davis, Ernest Borgnine, Debbie Reynolds, Barry Fitzgerald and Rod Taylor. It’s a very quiet, somber look at a working class family’s struggle with money and relationships. The Mom-Dad dialogue resonated strongly as did the bickering about size of the wedding. Too damn close to home!! But, point is it reminded me about the passage of time. My mind is wandering again so I’ll just say thanks to everyone for sharing thoughts and to Marilyn for her arduous work on the photos. Ah-Choo!!!


  3. Brilliant post and lovely photo’s of you and Garry. I fell in love with your statement “sometimes the words just fall out of my fingers.” So appropriate and so telling of how writing goes (on the good days) sometimes. At the end, you mentioned young folks taking their time. It reminded me of something I told my daughter for years and something that, thankfully, she listened to. “Don’t be in a hurry to grow up. Once you get there, you’ll be a grown-up for the rest of you life. Remember to keep the child in you alive and keep them fed regularly on a diet of imagination and suspension of disbelief. That way when you do grow up, it won’t seem so bad.” Congrats on hitting the big 44,000! 😀


    • I’ve always felt that way about writing. I wasn’t always able to explain it. Most of the time, it’s kind of half way between just falling out of the fingers and a slow hard climb up a badly maintained trail … usually because I start writing one thing and realize that I’ve turned in another direction. I probably should have said that the beginning of things just falls out … the finishing is often a bit more complicated.

      Life is shit mixed with gold nuggets. At this point, I don’t try to figure it out. I just try to enjoy it. Pessimism means you’ll never be disappointed.

      My granddaughter — who lives here with her mom and dad — came down with the flu this morning: 104 fever (40 celsius) and a bright red rash all over her body. We all ate dinner together last night … great timing eh? Everyone got flu shots, including Kaity — so either this is a different strain or she’s one of the 35% on whom the vaccine is ineffective. I guess we wait and see.

      It’s always something!

      On Sat, Jan 26, 2013 at 10:18 AM, Serendipity


    • Mike, your posts are right up there with the old movies and chicken soup on a lousy day like this!! You’ll do!!


  4. Wonderful post! I love your sentence about writing being not just what you do, but who you are.


    • Thank you for noticing my favorite sentence 🙂 I think most of us feel that way about writing … it’s not just an “add-on” feature: it’s part of our DNA and influences not only what we do, but how we see the world. Switching between visual to word mode is sometimes interesting, as if I have two different brains operating on separate frequencies.



  1. Life along the way | Forty Two: Life and Other Important Things |
  2. Life along the way | catnipoflife |

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