The flowers that bloom in the spring (tra la). Roses smell wonderful, but daffodils? Do they have a scent? Hyacinth is powerful … but columbine? It looks aromatic, but …

Inside, there’s coffee, always coffee. The smells of anything baking. Bread, cookies, brownies. It makes you hungry. When that grubby mutt pups up into your lap, now that’s an earthy aroma. Makes you … yeah … want to call the groomer. Immediately. “Do you have room for an emergency? Because I have two of them …”

Over the years, I have become almost unconscious of some of the smells around me, especially the dogs. I can still smell food. I know when the pizza’s done by the smell. I know when that turmeric shrimp and rice is ready to eat. My nose knows.

Has anyone been on a New York city subway recently? Now that is an aroma you can get your teeth into!



The Changing Seasons: November 2016


The Cardinal has announced that this challenge will run again through 2017. I love this challenge. It’s my favorite, first and foremost, because living here in the country, the weather is our calendar. It surrounds us, engulfs us. Regulates what we do and where we do it. It has presence and power in our lives. But the other reason is that I know it’s coming and regardless of the weather or my mood or plans, I have to go out and take some pictures. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that will get me into my boots and overcoat and outside with the camera. It’s a wonderful motivation for a lazy photographer.


If you’d like a challenge that will actually challenge you — in a fun way — this is a good one. It’s also a challenge in which many of the participants are so much better photographers, it pushes me to try to be better, more creative. Find something new to say about a scene I’ve shot many times before.


It’s the final month of shirtsleeve weather before winter comes. It’s the month where you may get snow, but the roses continue to bloom. Autumn leaves have lost the bright scarlet and yellow of October and transformed to the dark red, rust, and bronze of November. Leaves still cling to oak and maple trees. The quiet waters of the river reflect the gold of the trees.

The late afternoon sun is amber and casts long shadows. The strange sunlight changes the colors we see, turning bronze to yellow. Our eyes do indeed deceive us … or the camera’s eye cannot capture the November hues.


The stores are advertising Christmas while families are still organizing their Thanksgiving invitations. Hurrying the seasons has become the standard. I understand the merchant’s need to sell, sell, sell. I hope they are equally understanding of how much we would like to get through one holiday before being battered by the next.



From Cardinal Guzman:

What’s this «Changing Seasons» blogging challenge?

«The Changing Seasons 2016» is a blogging challenge with two versions: the original (V1) which is purely photographic and the new version (V2) where you can allow yourself to be more artistic and post a painting, a recipe, a digital manipulation, or simply just one photo that you think represents the month. Anyone with a blog can join this challenge and it’ll run throughout 2017.

It doesn’t matter if you couldn’t join the first month(s), late-comers are welcome.

These are the rules for Version 1 (The Changing Seasons V1):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post 5-20 photos in a gallery.
  • Don’t use photos from your archive. Only new shots.
These are the rules for Version 2 (The Changing Seasons V2):

  • Tag your posts with #MonthlyPhotoChallenge and #TheChangingSeasons
  • Each month, post one photo (recipe, painting, drawing, whatever) that represents your interpretation of the month.
  • Don’t use archive stuff. Only new material!

thechangingseasons_6367 large


Like many other Americans, I have been in shock and very, very depressed since the election of Donald Trump as President. I have been thinking about how this unthinkable thing could have happened. I have a small theory that maybe explains a tiny piece of the cluster fuck that is our government for the next four years. It’s not entirely new or original, but I feel it deserves consideration and attention.

campaign-poster-2016In our system, the qualities it takes to win a presidential election are different from the qualities it takes to govern as President. I could argue that what you need for one job is virtually antithetical to what you need for the other. For example, to be a successful candidate you have to be good at making stirring speeches in front of large audiences. To inspire those large crowds and excite the media, you need an outgoing personality, an out-sized ego, plus a charismatic speaking style. You must be larger than life.

But, to govern and be an effective executive, none of these traits or skills — while occasionally handy — are critical or even necessary. Instead, you need to be good at dealing with individuals and small groups. You need to convince, cajole and compromise to get things done. Keeping your ego in check is a prerequisite for working well with others. Flamboyance is a minus, not a plus.

dwight-david-eisenhower-quote-i-do-not-believe-that-any-politicalAs a candidate, you have to strip complex, nuanced ideas and situations down to a few catchy slogans or sentences. You need to be prolific in distilling ‘sound bytes’ from complicated issues. Those ‘sound bytes’ are what will represent you to the general public via the media. The big picture is what matters. Details and subtleties be damned.

As President, you have to master a myriad of detail on every issue. You need to weigh the pros and cons of competing interests and groups, then come up with viable policies. Next, you have to ‘sell’ these policies to friends and foes, up close and personal. Complexity and contradictions are your meat and potatoes.

The person best suited to win the presidency in America may be the least suited to governing well. Trump was an effective candidate but there’s no indication he can govern. At all. Hillary Clinton was a lousy candidate but I believe would have been a great President. Is there a resolution for this dichotomy?

I’d argue that the English parliamentary system can teach us something. The English have the Royal Family as their “national celebrities” and tabloid fodder. Their Members of Parliament are supposed to be boring, nerdy, policy wonks. No one expects their MPs or even the Prime Minister to be a dazzling public speaker or TV personality. (Justin Trudeau of Canada is a rare exception – he has it all!)

I’m not advocating a monarchy for America. But maybe we could have the President and Vice Presidential candidates run as a real team. The Vice Presidential candidate could be the crowd pleasing media star for the election cycles. The President could just be the back office guy who crunches the numbers and gets things done when its time to govern.

I’m not sure whether or not this system would work in practice, but it sure as Hell couldn’t be worse than what we have now!