in which i learn the difference between ‘blur’ and ‘out of focus’

me with granddaughter alice, by jim hester

It is an undeniably sweet picture.  When I first saw it on my husband’s camera, I felt a small twinge that (it seems) manifested as a sigh, or catch of my breath; something easily (and apparently) interpreted as disappointment. 

In fact, it was surprise. I had not anticipated the image being so … out of focus. My husband is a masterful photographer, winner of awards and seller of his prints at art shows. He prides himself on his artistry, whether the subject be landscape, tight leaf shot or portrait. So I had some context for my initial, um, surprise.

This was a parting shot of myself with my newest grand-child, Alice. She and her family had spent the Thanksgiving holiday with us and our hosting daughter. At the time of this photo, her family was saying its goodbyes in preparation for their return drive to points south. A precious moment, captured.

When I expressed my surprise at the unfocused nature of this shot – especially in comparison with the quite clear pictures taken before and after – my husband patiently explained to me the intentional artistry involved in creating a ‘blurred’ shot in which the camera moves slowly to create a soft brush-stroke effect. If it were simply out of focus, he said, edges would be unclear and the whole would be unidentifiable.

As always, I am grateful for his artistic eye and for the intention with which he creates his chosen art form. It IS a beautifully watercolor-like image and one I shall cherish. In fact, the longer I look at it, the more it invokes two of my favorite mother-child artists: Mary Cassatt and Pablo Picasso … Yes, my husband is a figure artist with his lens.  And he has captured, in this BLURRED still life, the essence of a weekend filled with love and loving moments, each one crystal clear; though, in toto, they collage into something of a blur.



clarity – or not!

I got so excited when I saw the old Great Blue back at our pond this morning. Mind you, it’s in the low 20’s here. Despite sun, winter still has a fist hold on us, regardless of what the calendar says.

So when I saw him, I thought it must be warmer than I realized. Of course, he’s a tough old bird. Often hangs around well into October, past the first frost. As if to make his point, here he is, back before it’s safe to remove the leaf blanket from gardens. Even if five drooping snowdrops ARE trying to act as perky harbingers of spring.

But what became clear to me was that something as majestic as this bird – with all his attendant symbolism to me (subject to a new poem in progress)  – must be enjoyed in the moment. Not captured in any medium, least of all film.

As you can see, my poor attempt failed miserably. The click of the camera scared him right into the air. Maybe it’s my poor eyesight. Maybe it’s the setting on the camera. Whatever the reason, he remains clearest in my memory of passing within ten feet of him in the car before he even realized I was there. Clearly, that’s the way it should be for us.

In response to WP Daily Prompt. [First photo, enhanced to show him more clearly; second, as taken.]


mer 14 coverThe Mom Egg Review issue on “Change” is now out. At least one reader has this to say about the collection:

 “..(H)ere I am, having read every word in a 3-day Mom Egg marathon.  It is a wonderful book, impressive in the scope and depth and honesty of the work presented. The poetry is particularly strong and leaves one feeling richer knowing that there are a lot of people out there who sift and ponder and construct meaning as they drive to work and fold the sheets and feed the kids. There is beauty in tending life, and you have managed to capture it and present it to the world.”–Patrice Boyer Claeys

I am honored to have a poem of mine included in this themed edition. The journal publishes writing by mothers, and if anything spells “MOTHER” it is the ability to adapt and change. Which is what makes this issue so interesting – seeing the many, many ways ‘change’ is interpreted, understood and represented through the mother filter.

As a further example of change, the poem as accepted (below) has already undergone several significant changes and may appear elsewhere in altered form, even under changed title. Thus is the nature of mothering, and the recording of same.


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Unabashedly abundant, new growth clematis
spills across the river-side railing, sprouts
up through decking cracks, climbs and twists
tight tendrils about trellis and feeder, purple
flags aflutter effusively eclipsing

worn-to-shreds strips of sturdy old vine
holding steady yet, weathered
from years of climbing, carrying on
the singular task of stringing sturdy structures
to root offshoots in the rich soil of home.

This intertwined tangle my dream of family
extended: roots sunk and shoots sprung
from the richness within, weathered fore-vines
supporting the new finding their own way
out, up and ahead.



a solitude of swan

swan on riverDuring my morning walk today, I was paying attention to my errant pooch who loves to splash in pools – vernal, spawning, mud and otherwise. As she darted past me full tilt, my eyes swept to the outlet below our modest crest of hill. When what to my wondering eyes should appear but one single swan slipping seamlessly on the silent stream. A meeting of solitudes – dog, woman, swan.

a sore sight for eyes

april through the windowIt’s April. Everyone I know is talking sunshine, gardening, dirt and daisies. Not here. Not in northern Vermont. Here, we awake nine days into April – NINE days, count them – to snow. A sight that admittedly quickened the pulse once. A long l-o-n-g seven months ago.

But! we sputter. We had that day two weeks back when the air was so warm everyone was out in shirtsleeves. On skateboards. Bikes rolled up and down the avenue. Dogs frolicked. People smiled, relief at airing the tightly held need to stay warm released freely to no need for jackets, scarves, hats, gloves, heavy socks and boots. We didn’t even need to check the sidewalk for black ice.

Until now. Today. Moving toward mid-April.coated in april

We are of course not surprised. Mother’s Day snow is almost commonplace. The June snow is not quite mythical. We live in the northern mountains and when that doesn’t spell snow, it spells rain.  And then we complain because there is no sun. BUT! – that is why the mountains do turn green. Eventually.

Remembering the intensity of that emerald green – once the snow has melted and the mud settled back down – how breath-takingly it appears after the blank canvas of so many months of white – I realize that I am more than ready this year for that welcome sight for sore eyes.early spring trees