Why Is Your Structure Such?


You fascinate me.

I don’t know you. Don’t know much about you, actually. I know the monarchs; so regal, vibrant. The little yellow ones—fleeting, quick. But I’ve never seen you.

As I chored about the yard, I caught glimpses of you. And I thought, you’re different. What unusual beauty. Such graceful movements.

But…

So dark. Dark as a moonless night. Dark as a storm front. Dark as deep ocean.

But such a comforting dark. There’s a softness about you. Why is your structure such?

When your lovely flight pattern stopped, I moved closer. You didn’t fly away. It looked as if you waited, and actually posed for me. Your dark was then so beautiful. The rust tinge. The white. The astonishing scallops. And then that lovely shade of blueness. Black and blue. Oh, why is your structure such!

Why did God make a black and blue butterfly??

I’m not exactly sure but I thank Him. For because of beautiful creatures like you, I see the blackest of my days and the blueness in my soul are still tinged with color, and pure white, even if there’s a touch of rust around the edges. Like a lot of things in my life.

If I would just be still; and take notice.

You dawned my day with your dark.

And perhaps that is why your structure is such.

Oh, I know you won’t be around for long. Your life is sadly very brief.

And I may never see you again. But I’m glad we’ve met. 

And I’m glad of the structure that is you.


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the themes “Structure” and “Waiting.” We don’t typically see black swallowtails around here but this year we’ve seen several. These were some of the thoughts that came to me as I observed and enjoyed them. I hope you enjoy as well. 🙂

Peace,
Alexandria

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Deep Space Collage

“To go boldly where no man has gone before.”

Star Trek. The theme quote. A timeless story.

Aside from Star Wars, it’s possibly the most popular sci-fi series of all time. I loved that show. Captain Kirk—the gutsy, cunning, yet vulnerable leader was a character I most admired! Star Trek, the great predecessor of Star Wars. Still to this day they are both sheer, utter enjoyment.

Space fascinates us, doesn’t it? Huge star ships floating with grace. Hyperspace! Vulcans! Other exotic humanoids (yuk, some of them I could live without ever seeing!)

And who doesn’t love a full moon or a starry night? The constellations that have guided mankind for millennia are mind-boggling.

But did you know you could travel deep space right outside your door? It’s always been there. A space that, once entered, holds as much beauty as the stars in the sky.

Take just the rose, for instance. It’s been out your door all this time  You forge ahead in your day, maybe glance up at the sky, or in your phone, as you rush by, day in and day out.

But have you ever once thought to stop? And finally travel in? Or taken a real camera and captured it? I don’t know—maybe phones these days can do it, too

By gently separating the delicate petals, you can. Yes, they might press against your lens, which you’ll have to clean after. (Such work!)

But the trip is genuinely worth it, isn’t it? Take in the symmetry, the order of this collage of wonder; its beautiful design.

Take some time and enter into the deep space right outside your door. Waiting for you. All these years. Ttop and look. Play around a bit with angle and depth. You’ll behold a wonder you never imagined. Go boldly where few take the time to go.

And you’ll wonder why it took so long.


This is my contribution to the  Wordpress Weekly Photo Challenge with a previous theme, “Order” and the current theme “Collage“.

The designs I find in nature seem so random. Yet they are not. Even in the wild woods that surround me, there is this combined symmetry; a collage that fits together perfect. Our Creator is a master of design. Stop and take a look around you. Don’t dismiss the designs. The order. No matter the collage that is your life, which perhaps at times seems more like chaos, the majesty within nature reminds you of His presence.

Peace, Alexandria


First two photos credited to Sean M. Smith. The rest are by mine, taken with Sony DSLR.

My Local Artist

This week I’m featuring the photography of my favorite local photographer.
(Be sure to turn up your screen brightness for these.)

Hello There

His chosen profession is law enforcement. He’s one of those gems—giving out more warnings than tickets, soft-spoken, oh-so-witty, and just plain smart. But there’s a little known fact about this tough-looking officer.

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He’s a natural born artist.

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The story goes that at age two, he drew a detailed sketch of a train that was shockingly accurate. It’s true. I’ve seen the picture.

A Room with a View img_7354In school, he didn’t exactly draw. Or color. He “sketched”. He turned down crayons and insisted on colored pencils and by fifth grade started a new trend. According to his art teacher, all the kids wanted colored pencils! They thought if they had colored pencils they could “sketch” like him!

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Thinking he was headed for a career in art, in middle school he took up the piano. (By now, I think you know this police officer-artist is none other than my son.) 🙂

Unexpected Bloom

Until I could find a piano teacher I quickly gave him a “Pattern Piano” DVD instruction set. He watched a bit and I distinctly remember his voice, “I think I got this figured out.” And off he ran to the piano.

Jeep

It seemed in no time, he was playing beautifully, without lessons. I’m not sure he ever finished the DVD’s. He still plays to this day; and it’s lovely.

River Dusk

Then he did the same with guitar, as well as singing and harmonizing. No joke.

Drink

He took up photography in high school and was off taking pictures of everything, finding the beauty in the small and unnoticed.

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And this week he upgraded his camera—big-time I’d say!—and has been out and about, capturing the local countryside. These are some of the results and I will let you be the judge. But I think they are stunning. Click on each one for a fuller view. It’s definitely worth it!

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I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating but I’m truly not. Just ask his sisters! All full of sugar and spice, they are pure sweetness. They’re smart and artistic, too, but they admit, without hesitation, their brother’s artistic gifts confound them. Of course, they’re not shy about telling anyone either!


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Local“, featuring the photography of my own local artist, my dear son. I’m glad he’s out taking pictures because my life’s been a bit full as of late. He might fill in for me a bit but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. At all! 🙂

Peace,
Alexandria

These Are a Few of My Favorite Grids | Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid

A Cupful of Friend

Relaxing in the screen grid

As I looked at the Challenge this week with “Grid” as the theme, I perused through my pictures. And it was amazing to me how much of my everyday life is filled with design.

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Grid bench, where I enjoy my favorite flower.

Be it work, home, or play I’m constantly living life in a myriad of grids. Why, I glance at my desk right now and it’s filled with cubbies of lovely baskets and throws and it’s grids bring warmth, reminding me of my favorite things. And so, I thought I’d share a few with you.

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Rust-colored trees border a grid fence. Barren beauty. (Sometimes I feel like that. Sigh …)

I think deep within all of us there is a hunger for design, composition, and order. Perhaps it’s because so much of life is unpredictable and seems out of control. But then we’ll see something beautiful. And we’ll snap a picture.

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Inhale the forest through the grid. Ahhh….

Everyday we’ll snap pictures of moments. And they become a small piece of peace to latch onto and it all nourishes our soul, doesn’t it?

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Grid grill. Yum! One of my favorites!

Perhaps they remind us that in that very photo we destined order in our chaotic world.

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Light within the grid … shine for me, please.

Our eyes searched for and found the grid. We put composition where it was not.

Clean ovens

The grid shines through. (Sigh … it’s that time again!)

We found design in small things. Like a clean oven. 🙂

Friendly ferns love the grid, too!Grids make a space for everyone, especially friendly ferns!

I don’t know about you but all of these pictures make me smile. I brought a piece of order and composition to my own chaotic world.

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My favorite beach grid. Yes, here I come!

And they make me happy. Very happy!

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A grid to play with bugs. Fun!

And isn’t happiness what we’re all searching for?

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Revived skill behind a grid. Pleased. Very pleased.

So, as you go about your day, look around.

Singing in front of the grid. Inspirational!

Find the grid. Snap the picture. Tell your story. But tell it to yourself first.

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Mmm … yes, lock me behind this grid forever!!

Then sit back and smile. And be happy!

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Let this grid warmth fill me all year long! It’s coming soon!

For happiness abounds! 🙂

Peace,
Alexandria


For more entries for the Weekly Photo Challenge with the “grid” theme click here. Have a great week!

Stormscapes | Weekly Photo Challenge: Forces of Nature

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Was once a time when we were young,
Our starts were quick, our limbs grew strong.
We hung together filled with glee,
Flexing bough with gust or breeze.
Sheltered safe from ocean’s roar,
We dwelt far from its shore.

Home Sweet Home

And then one day out from the sky,
From whence it came the ocean’s cry.
The breeze grew gust and gust grew strong,
From gentle breeze to thund’rous roar,
Caught off guard our branches soared.

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Soared and stretched
and ripped and retched,
Snapped and torn and yanked from ground,
Some carried away, never to be found.

We tried to keep our footing firm,
Desperation, terror churned.
Our roots clenched tight with every turn.

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Huddled with our branches tight,

Intertwine

We clung to each other for dear life.

Then suddenly quiet, it was gone,
Swift it came and it moved on.

StormScapes

And in that instant we were changed,
Youth was stripped, innocence ravaged.

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Destruction looming large surround,
Our hearts were crushed, pieces on the ground.

But we rose proud, starting small
And once again we grew tall.
Most of us grew scarred and bent.
A few of us grew quite grotesque.

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And those that clung with locked embrace
Grew woven, as wounds would not erase.

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Thirty years have come and gone,
Remnants borne from that great storm.

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But God in His great grace adorns
our scars, and places some would see
are hid by seasons’ finery.

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And winter bears a rarity,

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For now we do curve gracefully!

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This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme of Forces of Nature.  The forces of nature surround us. They can inspire or they can devastate. But always there is purpose, re-creation, re-growth.

Look at these trees that endured a horrific storm. What about the storms in our lives? Surrounded with so many vivid reminders to—stay the storm, stand together, lean on one another, hold one another—why is it so hard for us?

These trees and other forces of nature find a means of survival through one another, and by it, find healing. Should we do any less?

Peace,
Alexandria

Quiet Street, Busy Land

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yep, this is what I call “my ‘hood”. 🙂
Street Life in the Country

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Photos taken with Nikon D60, various lenses, Sony Cybershot, Pentax, iPhone 4 and iPhone 5. Deer photos taken inside through a window–sheer luck 🙂
Hope you enjoyed the slideshow format for a change!
(Note: If you’re using the WordPress App Reader the slide show will not work. At least it didn’t for me. Try a regular web page. Good luck!)
Peace,
Alexandria

Family | The Forever Constant

Standing Firm

“Like branches on a tree, our lives may grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.”

1-DSC_0096“In different hours, a man represents each of several of his ancestors, as if there were seven or eight of us rolled up in each man’s skin,—seven or eight ancestors at least, and they constitute the variety of notes for that new piece of music which his life is.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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“Family quarrels have a total bitterness unmatched by others.  Yet it sometimes happens that they also have a kind of tang, a pleasantness beneath the unpleasantness, based on the tacit understanding that this is not for keeps;

1-DSC_0095 that any limb you climb out on will still be there later for you to climb back.”  ~ Mignon McLaughlin

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“The family.  We were a strange little band of characters trudging through life sharing diseases and toothpaste,

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coveting one another’s desserts, hiding shampoo, borrowing money, locking each other out of our rooms, inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, 

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and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together.”  ~ Erma Bombeck

As I contemplated the Weekly Photo Challenge theme “Family” I could’ve shared oodles of family photos and memories. However, my fascination for the constant lessons of nature prompted me to use this tree I drive by nearly every day. It’s one of those anomalies of nature you just can’t miss.

Sometimes I take pictures, but other times I just stop, get under it, gaze at its never-ending branches, and admire its breathtaking beauty. But more than that, I admire it’s sheer strength. And if you notice, it’s even a bit lopsided. Its shape is not perfect and to tell you the truth, I’m relieved. It makes me feel more at home. But the tree is massive, solid, stately, so proud–you just have to see it to believe it.

It’s main “branches” are not the usual bending, thinner limbs of a tree. They are the size of trunks, which could be trees in and of themselves. Note the photo in full summer leaf above–it easily shades the entire width of the road and more. But notice the photo of it in barren winter (below). That’s when you really see the way it’s limbs anchor the whole.

I’ve tried to capture it with a camera as best as I can and if you look at its new white fence nearby, perhaps you can get a bit of perspective. It’s probably been there since the Revolutionary War.

I wonder how many generations have passed this tree in its lifetime.

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“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever. The sun also riseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose.” ~ Ecclesiastes 1: 4,5

I’ve driven past it in sun, storm, snow, and treacherous winds. Sometimes I’ve wondered if it would survive some of the worst storms. But it’s always there. It possesses a strength unfathomable and survives untouched and unscathed through it all.

I wish I could say the same about myself. 

I try to remind myself that I’m but one of the smaller branches near the ends, still being tested and tried. And that massive, huge trunk at the base is holding on to me.

And believe me, I’m hanging onto it for dear life.

image“Do not remove the ancient landmark that your ancestors set up.” ~ The Bible Proverbs 22:28

Family–the forever constant, stamped indelible. May we branch out high and wear it proud. But when we hit those storms that threaten to snap us away, may we return to the open, loving limbs of home–the place of constants—love, acceptance, shelter, safety, sanity (or a bit of a necessary dose of insanity!).

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“Some family trees have beautiful leaves, and some have just a bunch of nuts. Remember, it is the nuts that make the tree worth shaking.” ~Author Unknown

Family–the forever constant.
The place where you breathe in the comfort and exhale a long sigh,

“Ahhh … there’s no place like home.”

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“The family – that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to.” ~Dodie Smith

Dreams of Grandeur

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“Surely there is grandeur in knowing that in the realm of thought, at least, you are without a chain;  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthat you have the right to explore all heights and depth;

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthat there are no walls nor fences,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnor prohibited places,

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAnor sacred corners

olympus-digital-cameraoriginalin all the vast expanse of thought.”
~ Robert Green Ingersoll

avataralex-original“There is one spectacle grander than the sea. And that is the sky. There is one spectacle grander than the sky. And that is the interior of the soul.” ~ Victor Hugo

There is a vast landscape inside each of us. It is the place of hopes and dreams. It is the place of wonder and dignity.
It is a grandness that is known as you.
Peace, Alexandria
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

Photo locations: Acadia National Park, Maine
Great Smoky Mountains in western North Carolina

Novembrance | Autumn’s Unexpected Gift

DSC_1228“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. The rich colours of grass and earth were intensified by the mellow light of a sun almost warm enough for spring.” ~P.D. James

DSC_1118“I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its leaves are a little yellow, its tones mellower, its colors richer, 

DSC_1102and it is tinged a little with sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor of the power of summer,

DSC_1057but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitation’s of life and is content.” ~Lin Yutang

DSC_1095“The human soul is slow to discover the real excellence of things given to us by a bountiful Creator, and not until the shadows of death begin to gather around the object that we love, do we see its worth and beauty. 

DSC_1069Autumn is the dim shadow that clusters about the sweet, precious things that God has created in the realm of nature.While it robs them of life, it tears away the veil and reveals the golden gem of beauty and sweetness.

DSC_1103Beauty lurks in all the dim old aisles of nature, and we discover it at last.” ~ Northern Advocate

DSC_1154“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” ~ John Burroughs
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Another autumn nears its end. These very brief, fleeting days find me outside more than any other time of the year. The colors are just breathtaking and I constantly fight this irresistible urge to try to capture the breadth, length, and height of it. As we know, it’s an impossibility. I know autumn means to contemplate, absorb, and enjoy the richness of  its beauty. It’s also a time of remembrance as the year draws to a close and we look back.

Autumn is such a paradox. Brilliant, glimmering. But it is truly a descent into decay and ultimately … death. It is, in essence, a progression into loss. Just like autumn, we’ve all experienced loss in some fashion this year. Perhaps God fashioned autumn so brilliant just so we could see some sort of beauty in loss. But the journey of loss always holds gain as God brings something new to replace what we lost. We won’t know what it is until we look to Him in faith and ask.

As the leaves fall, shrivel, and die some things in our lives must do the same. I’ve endured a couple of deep, unexpected losses this year. As I grieve I look to God and the glorious creation He surrounds me with and try to grasp the new blessings in my life. Just as the inclination is strong to hold and capture every photo of autumn, I cling tight to what is no more. And I have to ask God for even the faith to believe there is something better. There always is. The truth stamped in autumn tells me so. Tells me there is spring.

And it’s not too far from now.

Peace, Alexandria

You might also enjoy:
Autumn Boat (aditixpictures.wordpress.com)
Autumn asks (defeatdespair.wordpress.com)
Autumn Thoughts (princesstheodora.net)
A November Garden Bimble (ramblingratz.wordpress.com)
Weekly Photo Challenge: Unexpected
KellyJGrace

Leaf Layer

DSC_1246“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” ~ Emily Bronte

DSC_1170“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

DSC_1169“Autumn is the second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~ Albert Camus

DSC_1240“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.” ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

DSC_1275“Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.” ~ Albert Schweitzer
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

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