My Loyal Pal

Wherever I go and whatever I do, Nan comes with me. To the kitchen, to the bathroom, to my office. All day, every day, she stays right by my feet. When I get up to go into the kitchen, she comes with me, so close to my feet that I sometimes have difficulty avoiding falling over her and landing in a tangle of  fur, feet, fingers and toes.

My Protector
My Protector

When Nan first came here last September, it seemed she had no interest in anything but cadging snacks, but since then she has attached to me as no dog ever has. If I would let her sleep with me, she would, but we have a “no dogs in the bed” rule. Bad backs and a selfish need to keep one place in the house dog-hair free (more or less) … but otherwise, from the moment I get out of bed in the morning until I haul my butt off to bed late at night, Nan is within an arm’s length.

She laughs at me!
She laughs at me!

Nan is a beautiful, champion Norwich Terrier. She is 10 years old, going on 11. Until she came to live with us, she had spent her whole life with one family. I didn’t know how well she’d fit in here but she needed a home. Our dogs are as easy-going as any dogs anywhere, and we have owned Norwich and other terriers before … so this was probably her best chance of finding a comfortable place to live out her years … and I hope there are many more to come.

Her Royal Highness
Her Royal Highness

There’s a bit of friction between the two terriers — typical for dogs with a feisty temperament — mostly because they are possessive.  As time has gone one, they get on better. As I watch, they are sleeping together in heap between Garry and I on the love seat. Nan is tight next to my feet, Bonnie, our Scottish Terrier, has her head on Garry’s leg (which is probably asleep).

Perfect pal
Perfect pal

Once our furry pals are settled in, we hate to move and disturb them. Finally, when we just have to get up or we have completely lost sensation in our feet, we apologize profusely for bothering them. I hope they understand.

Where is the pellet with the poison?

This must be one of the funniest sequences ever put on film. From “The Court Jester,”  where’s the pellet with the poison and which is the brew that is true? I challenge you to remember which is which. I’ve been watching this for years and I still can’t repeat the sequence without tripping over my tongue.


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.

Across the snowfield

Far away

The real picture is in the background. The distant house is soft against the snowy trees, across the whiteness of the field. The snow was fresh and clean, the sky almost as white as the snow itself.

Taken with the Olympus PEN E-P3 using a 14mm Panasonic f2.5 prime lens, processed with Photoshop CS5.


It’s a Wonderful Life

This is MY favorite Christmas movie. Love that “movie within a movie” alternate history thing. Enough like time travel to tickle my brain in all the right places and enough sentimentality to need at least a couple of kleenex.


Head In A Vice

Wonderful Life poster

An angel helps a compassionate but despairingly frustrated businessman by showing what life would have been like if he never existed.

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