it was a month ago…..

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Ask her what she craved and
she’d get a little frantic
about things like books,
the woods, music.
Plants and the seasons.
Also freedom.
~Charles Frazier

Grace turned nineteen on November 4.

When she was home from college for Thanksgiving break she said, “You didn’t blog about me on my birthday”.   So here I am, better late than never, with my sincerest apologies to you, dear Grace!

Grace was born in the very early hours of the morning all those years ago, our first daughter after two sons.  Born at 38 weeks, but so tiny that everyone stopped to admire her and call her “Peanut”, I delighted in being her mother.  I found a white bib that had a small peanut embroidered on it and of course I had to buy it for her and I bet it that bib is still here in a box somewhere along with many other keepsakes from that precious time.

She’s all grown up now and in the middle of her second year of college and doing very well.  She has her own dorm room this year which has been nice for her, but she keeps so busy she’s rarely in it except to do homework and sleep.

She’s healthy and strong, with lots of dear and close friends.

She loves to read and write, sing and play piano.  She loves to be useful.

I hadn’t taken many photos of her lately so when she was home for Thanksgiving we got the camera out for a couple of “Now You’re Nineteen” photos.  We were downtown that day for “small town shopping”.

The quotes are from Grace’s own personal collection of favorites.  (she has hundreds) ❤

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“Come, let us have some tea,
and continue to talk about happy things.”

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Don’t be so cool you can’t cry.
Don’t be so smart you can’t wonder.
Don’t be so set on your sunny days
That you can’t love the roll of the thunder.

He has made everything beautiful
in its time.   Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

 

new lens in the great outdoors

Next month at this time I will be in Alaska with my friend Hannah.  Joanna suggested getting my hands on a fisheye lens so as to be better prepared for the gorgeous Alaskan spectacles of nature that I will be sure to see and want to photograph.

The lens came last week and as soon as I was able, I went outside for a long long walk and took photos of everything.  These are the ones that made the final cut:

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First off; it seemed fitting and right to take the first photo of the hens after I let them out of the coop that morning.  This one seemed especially interested in my new lens.

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And on I went; there are many varieties of ferns in the woods.

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Butterfly

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Strawberry Blossom

I must remember where I saw this so I can go back and eat the berries later.

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A lovely bunch of white violets.  All the violets were at their peak of loveliness in the woods (by the house they were done blooming) so they were a joy to see.

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Quaker Ladies//Bluets grow everywhere.

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Thanks to recent rains the outdoors has become a stunning shade of emerald green.

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Unfurling ferns

I was lying on the ground to take some of these photos.

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Dappled sunshine

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit

A favorite spring flower.

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I hung my jacket off a tree branch at the old beaver pond in the woods as I explored.  There was a water lily bud about to bloom that I will go back to look at soon.

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Please pardon some of the edges of my photos which is a hazard of the fish eye lens.  I am learning to be more careful about adjusting the lens so there are no shadows in the corners.  But this chair was found in the woods by my daughter and I a few weeks ago and it gave us a bit of a creepy feeling.  Has anyone ever silently sat here and watched us walk by?

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Standing up high on a boulder and admiring the stream.

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There were violets growing everywhere and it was about this point when I lost my lens cap and had to retrace my steps to find it again.

I had no pockets so I was putting it down my tucked in shirt, and when I bent over to take photos it fell out.

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I know I have a lot to learn.

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But these photos make me happy today.

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And I hope you liked them, too.

*****

I’m thankful I can go for walks like this without having to drive anywhere, I can just walk out the front door and be on my way.

It never gets boring, there is always something new to see.  New flowers blooming, insects, small creatures, birds, mushrooms, plants, water, pinecones, trees and bark, leaves, and so on……….

And always thoughts of God and the Creator of such good things.

“I think this is how we’re supposed

to be in the world–

present and in awe.”

Anne Lamott

 

 

 

 

 

 

efforts on the last day of summer

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“….a little boy grows up so fast….”

I was secretly calling Saturday the last day of summer because it was our oldest son’s last day at home before leaving for college the next morning.  So I made the effort to take some photos of the ordinary family living that I hold so dear to my heart, knowing deep down that while life will go on just as beautiful and ordinary as ever, parts of it were ending and beginning anew in other parts of the world…….not too far, thankfully.  Jacob and Ethan will be at college together in Vermont this year (3 hours away), and our sweet Grace will be in Pennslyvania (about five hours distance).  As the children grow up, things within the home change, but the bond we have stays true, and the love we share will never die, and indeed, my deepest desire and hope is that it will continue to grow up and out as our family grows up and and out.

So these efforts were made by me in the realm of photography, and the only other effort I made personally was to be “hands off” on the day and let it be as normal as possible, because I have finally learned that while deep in my soul I am in a type of motherly mourning for the fleetness of the years, no one else in the family necessarily needs to know.  🙂

So what did we do?  Jacob headed for work, sicker than a dog, and Rich left for the chiropractor’s with Ethan (they are both getting work done on their backs) and Caleb (who needed a hair cut after the doctor’s appointment).

DSC_1346Confession:  somehow, even though I was truly trying,  I just realized this morning that I took not one single photo of Grace, so I am inserting this one from last weekend, when I caught the sisters sharing a moment over pancakes.  In reality, Grace was so busy on Saturday….she had driver’s practice in the morning, and then worked all afternoon until 7pm….that I somehow didn’t take any pictures of her.

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The brightest red wildflower is in bloom down by the banks of our stream.  It’s like a jungle down there so I can’t get as close as I’d like……

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I watched busy buzzing bees collect pollen all over the wild and tall Joe Pye Weed and then, saw the most beautiful dragonfly I’d ever seen…..

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RED!  DARK RED!

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with shimmering wings!  I admired it until it flitted away.

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Next to the garage we have a tiny wild pond where bullfrogs hang out all day.  I enjoy sneaking  around to spy on them and they always freeze like this and stare at me.  I want to sit down there sometime and see what they REALLY do……

And then, the guys finally got home and went to work on Rich’s car.  Yep, that was the real theme of the weekend;  “Put The Motor In”.

Rich has been itching to do it all winter long and had big boxes in the house which were all delivered and saved carefully for The Day.

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Nice haircut, Caleb.

Now get to work!

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Nothing makes Rich more annoyed than not being able to find his tools because the children have been running off with them and not returning them to the proper place.  Nothing that is, except maybe water running through the ceiling because Seth didn’t have the shower curtain in the bathtub and was getting water everywhere on the floor upstairs…..ask me how I know this…..so the first thing they did was find Dad’s tools, while Rich and Ethan organized and Sarah cleaned.

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The car is under the tarp.  Waiting for it’s motor.

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I’m pretty sure this is it.  🙂

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Sarah was very conscientious about sweeping the floor.

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Seth wasn’t as conscientious about finding Dad’s tools.

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David

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Oh and Jacob was able to get out of work a little early and he went straight to bed, spending his last day at home SICK and asleep.

(I think it’s amusing that the dog is in a lot of these photos being ignored.  But he gets his revenge later.)

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Bringing the boxes out of the house (finally!) and into the garage.

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Finally they were ready and the younger boys snuck away.  David was called for duty now and then, but Ethan was the main helper of the entire day all the way up until it was too late to visit Tessa and he was secretly annoyed.

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I mean, as his mother, I could sort of tell.  But Rich, as his father, certainly didn’t care.  He needed his son and Ethan has vacation days coming up this week to visit his girlfriend.  (It reminded me of when Rich and I were dating all those summers ago and he had to bale hay all weekend for his dad while I was left to my own amusement at home…..so I took pity while Rich just felt like it was the only natural thing to do; helping Dad…there’s no way out of it, not even girlfriends.)

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The younger boys hung out on the patio between the house and the garage.

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And I found Sarah had vanished to her room to play the DS.  So I sent her right back outside to enjoy the beautiful day.

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They made a cake.

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Eventually, hours and hours later, I picked the camera back up to take a picture of CHICKEN that I grilled myself……

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And this is where the dog got his revenge for being “ignored//neglected” all day.

After we all ate, he stole the leftovers off the kitchen counter, eating the chicken and neatly leaving the sticks on the carpet in the living room.  We all got mad because that was really good chicken and I had made a ton so we could enjoy the leftovers, not feed them to the dog.

We ended our day by watching TV on the couch in the dark, all tired out.

*****

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This is where things get sad you might want to turn away.

I woke up at 5:30 on Sunday morning to see my son off.  Rich was already awake and in the garage with his car but the rest of the family was asleep as Jacob finished packing his car to leave, although I did hear Seth stir and call out, “Bye, Jay!” from his bed, as he will greatly miss his big brother, too.

I followed him around, back and forth to the car and house, not unlike the dog, silently and with wishful eyes.

We hugged twice.  We held it together.

It was a beautiful morning, with bits of pink in the sky.

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I looked at his dear possessions everywhere in his car, that say “Jacob” to me in so many ways……his collection of hats from working at “LIDS” all summer….his new sneakers that I bought for him during a quick shopping trip we had together last week.

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His music, his new fridge, all his clothes and books (he took a big box of books, which made me smile and touched my heart…I remember when he read them all…and sister Grace struggled with sharing some of them..namely the JRR Tolkien books…), my dear 20 year old son, how thankful I am that I had all of these years with you before you moved on to new adventures taking classes and playing football at college.  I am blessed to call you son and friend.  We’ve had such good times together, haven’t we?  Your downstairs room in the basement is too quiet and still already but we’ll keep it ready for those visits back home!

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“So the life of the true home flows on, sometimes in the bright sunshine, sometimes in the deep shadow; yet whether in the sunshine or in shadow it brings blessing.  It shelters us in the day of storm.  Its friendships remain true and loyal when adversity fails and other friendships are broken.  It lays holy hands of benediction upon our heads as we go out to meet life’s struggles and duties.  Its sacred influences keep us from many a mistake.  Its memories are our richest inheritance.  Its inspirations are the secret strength of our lives in days of toil and care.  Then it teaches us to look toward heaven and the great Home in which all our hearts, hopes, and dreams shall be realized, and where the broken ties of earth shall be reunited.”  JR Miller

 

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46 photos if I’m not mistaken

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HAPPY MAY 1ST

Today is a “catch up day” on the ol’ blog of all the photos I want to share from the last week and a half.  I have 46 photos in this post.  Life is good, full, beautiful, cherished.

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” — Willie Nelson

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.  Psalm 1:9

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Mom, as she always does, made homemade meals when I was visiting; soup on Friday.

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pumpkin bread on Friday evening; I grated the nutmeg and ground the cloves.

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pizza on Saturday night

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with homemade sauce preserved last fall from her own garden tomatoes

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It was so good I was almost crying as I ate it.  Tears of joy and of sadness because I can’t make pizza like she does and I have been trying for years.  Mostly joy though, I ate three pieces.

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She showed me how to make breadsticks using leftover pizza dough.  She divided it into pieces and we rolled it out thin (like a snake), drizzled lightly with olive oil, and then twisted it and pressed it through a sprinkling of spice mix of mom’s own choosing on the counter.  I remember smoked paprika, fennel, sesame seeds, pepper, poppy seeds.  We put them on a cookie sheet to bake and they ended up delicious and fragrant.  The next day Mom and I each took one and used it as croutons on salad by crumbling it on top of the greens.

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Salad fixings on Sunday afternoon; asparagus, seasoned chicken, tomatoes, cheese, homemade salad dressing.

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I went with Dad to his drumming lessons with Kubla the dog.

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And for several walks with my parents.

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And a nice long walk by myself on a sunny Sunday.

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Sunday morning we woke up to frost and a pileated woodpecker!  God knew what would get us outdoors in that kind of weather…Mom and I quickly pulled on our coats and boots and had a lovely walk before church, birdwatching.  In fact, come to think of it, I do have more photos of that morning but they are on another memory card so I’ll have to share those maybe tomorrow, if ever.

It was a thrill to see the pileated woodpecker; they are the largest woodpeckers in our area and so pretty with the red hat on top.

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Mom and Dad’s cat Asian.

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Mom’s vegetables started at the window.  She uses cut down milk cartons to transplant the tomato seedlings into as they grow bigger.

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Dad keeps busy doing wood and keeping the fire going.  Even this is picturesque with the wood sheds and rock path, wood smoke, forest in the background, and Dad in his pop of orange.

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Sunday afternoon was fun.  The frost had melted and the temperature had risen enough to make being outdoors the very best place to be.  We worked in the flower bed by the driveway.  Mom has a “Rusty Garden” with a collection of old rusty things that she uses as decoration.  It’s a fun theme.  We took everything out and threw it behind us on the grass.

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You can see the different objects she has, most of which came from her Dad’s farm and land years ago before they sold the property.

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We cleaned up the edge of the bed and thoughtfully replaced everything in new spots.  By the end of summer the plants will fill in among the decorations and be so pretty.

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Back at my own home; last week was The Week of the New Lens.  The first day it came it was raining outside.  (sobs) But then the weather cooperated and I was able to try it out. (cheers)

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I was quite far away from these birds and I am thrilled with the photos.

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Baltimore Oriole!  I stood and listened to it’s beautiful voice before I finally saw it.  It was hard to take a photo through all the tree branches–my camera didn’t know what to focus on.

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It’s too bad that the roof of the car was in the way but nonetheless, I was so happy to get this photo of a female cardinal and her mate. In my peach tree.

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And then on Friday there were four ducks on the pond!  I sat on the bench and snapped bout 50 pictures with perfect ease.  🙂

I texted Rich “this lens is awesome!”

He texted back, “I love you, too.”

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It’s so funny when they go “bottoms up”.

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quacking!

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Rich was on a business trip and sent me this selfie!  🙂

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Thursday was “take your child to work day” and Seth was the chosen child this year.  He went to work wearing clothes just like his Dad wears and with his hair slicked back all handsome.  By bedtime he was asking/begging me (and not Dad) to tuck him in and I understood he had had a huge dose of Dad that day.  His little love tank was full to overflowing.

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Which leaves us with photos from Saturday; Little League Opening Day!  It was hot and bright all day long.  I went to Home Depot before the game and to my sister’s house.  I picked up Naomi and Weston so they could watch the games, too.

The photo of Seth is from the National Anthem.  Rich took it with my new lens.

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Caleb at bat.

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I was sitting on the bleachers!!!  So happy with my camera!

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After making a double play!

This boy is very verbal and keeps his attention on EVERYTHING, encouraging his teammates and getting them ready and watching for the next plays.  He gets VERY into the game, even at home it’s all about baseball with this boy now.

(By the way, he’s a Yankees fan)  LOL

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I’m going to get him that black stuff that you smudge on your cheeks.

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POOR SETH!!!!!!!!  He gets TERRIBLE allergic reaction to the dust; his eyes were so red and swollen by the end of the day.  Bless his heart.  I’m giving him allergy medicine and eye drops now.  He’s a good ball player, too, and got to pitch for a few innings.

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And that dumb string was dangling all day long.  I never did get close enough to tell him to put in inside his pants where it belonged.  🙂

Isn’t he so cute!?!?!

Last, but not least; DAVE!  He is 14 and on Juniors this year.  He’s known for his speed around the bases, he runs around them just as fast as his dad did when he played.  He’s like the Flash (his favorite show on TV).

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LOOK at that face of intensity!

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I’m so proud of my baseball players.  There is practice and/or a game every evening but it’s all worth it.  We get outdoors, talk to friends, and watch our boys do great things.  In every game there are impressive catches, scores, etc.  The moms laugh and try to keep track of everything.  Even when the team loses it’s fun simply because they are working together and learning so much.  Pastor says baseball is a spiritual sport because “you’re trying to get home”.

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ALSO: in pond news:  the toads came and mated and then left again (leaving their long strings of eggs behind to hatch and grow on their own)

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I had a moment of peace on Saturday evening down by the pond with the toads.

*****

It’s May 1st so try to include flowers in your day or better yet surprise someone else with them.  That’s my advice for the day.

Time for me to get off my behind and get to work.  Be blessed, my friends.  🙂

hobbies

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“A hobby is an activity, interest, enthusiasm, or pastime that is undertaken for pleasure or relaxation, typically done during one’s own time.”  -wikipedia

Just a common red winged black bird but it was singing and making such pretty sounds that I had to share the photo of it.  It stood on a slender branch and gracefully inched it’s way to the top of it.  It flew a short distance to a fence and then down to the edge of the stream, drinking and fluffing up it’s blackest of black feathers…….

I sat on a dry little hill of land by the stream, surrounded by old last year’s grasses and springtime wetness from the swampy wide stream.  I wore jeans, a tshirt, a flannel, and a vest with sunglasses in one pocket and my headphones and phone in the other.

I had my camera in my hands; a Nikon D3300 with a 55-200mm lens.  A very nice camera!

I’m generally very content with my camera and lenses.  How do you justify a hobby that uses costly equipment?  A bigger zoom lens would cost quite a bit.

I was sitting probably about 60-100 feet from the birds I was trying to photograph.  When I got home, I put them on the computer and cropped—and laughed at the horrible quality of images I took of this bird:

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Yellow-Rumped Warbler (first sighting)

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It’s so beautiful, but not in these pictures!

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I was on FB this morning and someone from my town had posted photos of a pileated woodpecker—stunning crystal clear close ups that took my breath away.  I asked what lens he used and found out that he had a much better zoom lens.

I have dreamed of a better zoom lens but now I REALLY want a better zoom lens!

But like I said, this is only a hobby.  I don’t sell my photos or use them for anything but my own blog and photo collections.   There is a little voice in my head that says “What is the POINT?  This photography pastime is a money pit!”

Of what value is a hobby?  To me, my hobbies (photography, reading, collecting Fiestaware) add priceless value to my daily life for a variety of reasons.  But to what extent do I maintain and invest in my hobbies, especially in photography?

The hobby itself is not a “thing”– it’s not a material possession.  However, regardless of the way it feeds my soul and gets me outside exploring nature, it can be costly as it takes money to purchase photography equipment and time to study the information so I can use it properly.

Part of these feelings about spending a “large” amount of money on a lens is due to my personal penny pinching ways.  Although I have no ethical issues with shopping, I am a thrifty shopper and like the challenge of looking for ways to “save money”–coupons, clearance, thrifting, free stuff, library, etc.

But then again, almost every adult I know has a hobby that costs money so why can’t I?

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sparrow

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Eastern Phoebe

*****

While I was writing this post, I went ahead and researched and found a lens for a somewhat reasonable price and texted Rich all about it….his reply?

“GO AHEAD”

Stay tuned!  This is going to be a great summer of bird/nature watching!

What do you think?  Do you have a hobby?  What is it?  Is it easy for you to invest in or do you feel guilty?  How do you justify spending money on an “extra” expense in your hobby? Do you have ways of off setting the cost?  What are they?  Do you have a business online?  Do you use your hobby to give back to others?  How does your hobby make you feel?  Do your children have hobbies?  Does your partner have a hobby?  What are some of the values in a hobby?