Still by Roni Delmonico

What your house looks like on the outside will never matter at all, if the ones living inside it don’t fill it with love. When I married him thirty years ago, we didn’t have any idea how much work that would take or the cliffs we’d both scale and fall off of. I’m amazed every day….

This photograph is in the very first set I ever took with my little Canon XSi. The way he looked at me turned my heart inside out. It’s a precious thing to me, having captured that moment in time.

The foundation of any home is love. Build on that… and it will be beautiful, no matter the scars, the cracks, the things forgotten, the broken promises, the scratches, the tearing at the seams, the taking away and the adding on and the inevitable passage of time.

I’ve never met a thing he can’t fix. Not even me.

The Harmony of Balance by Roni Delmonico

I so often find myself amazed at the passage of time and how the older I get, the quicker it seems to fly by. We’ve been here for two springs, two summers, two winters and three fall seasons now and every single day I love it more. Every season holds a different delight. In spring, we experienced the magic of helping to raise 3 wild baby bunnies. This summer, we planted a new trough garden full of herbs, tomatoes, strawberries and flowers and we continued to watch our koi fish pond grow by leaps and bounds. In the fall, we discovered how it feels to be parents of an empty nest (that feels anything but empty) and this winter holds the unfolding of some new secrets I can’t wait to share. Thanksgiving this year will be at my oldest son’s home. What a beautiful blessing! I’m looking very forward to the holiday season with loved ones both here and an hour and a half away in Rochester. Half of us are here this year, and half of us are there. But we keep finding ways to be together and it is always very special. I treasure those times more than ever before.

Jim came home with some lottery tickets last night because we had been talking earlier about what we could possibly do with a billion dollars. Our ideas were endlessly fun and truly generous. We would love to give to every person who has ever touched our lives. If you’re reading this, you are probably one of them. I love you… have I told you that lately?;-) The dearest thing to my heart was this…Neither one of us would leave our home right now. We love our lives… right where we are. Jim has a great job. I stay busy taking care of this place and my little Cheyenne. And here we are, two years later, and I have finally completed the inside of our home. While I do not subscribe entirely to all philosophies that relate to the practice of feng shui… this part absolutely resonates with me.

Feng shui is sometimes thought to be the art of placement—understanding how the placement of yourself and objects within a space affects your life in various areas of experience. It is a complex body of knowledge that teaches us how to balance and harmonize with the energies in any given space—be it a home, office, or garden. Its aim is to assure good fortune for the people inhabiting a space. Although regarded by some in the scientific community as a pseudo-science, feng shui has had an impact on the aesthetics of interior design and the architectural layout of living and working spaces, both in its native eastern and, more recently, western cultures.  
— Rodika Tchi

There are so many things I love about being here. The way the water sparkles on a sunny and windy day. How we can run down to the dock in our own backyard and hop in the boat and take off as far as we choose. How when it gets cold we can choose to flip a switch and have a fire, or go slower and gather wood so we can hear the crackle. The giant willow tree by the pond that looks like a big head of long hair, swaying in the breeze. The little gazebo where we can watch the sun go down and listen to the cricket chorus at dusk. The various shades of blue in every room inside and how they look like the levels of color in the ocean, from deep azure to the lightest aquamarine. I feel peaceful here. In a crazy chaotic world, that is a warm and lovely thing.

I think I am going to open the doors and share the feng shui that makes up my own home as we head into the new year. After all, this is the place where I spend most of my time; the place where I live, love, create, work, play, cook, clean, sleep, sing, cry and most consistently…. collect light.:) And I have been looking for a new direction for this space. A friend once said to me that she loves how artfully I live my life. That meant a lot to me and I think we’re all capable of this. Maybe you’ll enjoy a glimpse into how I actually achieve that and what makes it all come together.

It’s a journey I like to share because it’s what makes my house… a home. A place filled with the sweetest harmony and sturdiest balance.


All We Do and All We Did... by Roni Delmonico

IMG_9970.jpeg

Some things are very true...  Like how "food is memories."  Like how the song remembers when. Like how fast time goes by and how you should cherish every moment.  Like how hard you love in the time that you have.  And how hugely your heart expands with your table.

Mornings are so much quieter these days.

But dinner time?  It was always our special time.  For 6 years before kids came along, we made a point to eat dinner together at the table.  We were only in our twenties then and it was one of the first pieces of furniture we ever bought; a sweet little pine trestle table we picked out together from the Bloomingdales catalogue.  We thought it was so fancy and at $200 it was the most expensive piece of furniture we owned.  It had a knot in it that looked like an owl, two eyes staring up at us while we ate and talked well into the night.  Later, my son and his best friend rolled out Christmas cookie dough and dropped half of it on the floor, while eating the other half before it ever made it to the oven.  We played cards with our friends.  We covered it with paper tablecloths and birthday cakes year after year.  It was a welcome, sturdy, dependable gathering place for a very long time.  We eventually outgrew it and it landed in a yard sale, years ago.  I didn't know then... what I know now.

I find myself wishing that I still had that table.  That table means a lot to me.  It is part of our history. Wherever it is now, it still is.. I suppose.  It lives in so many photographs.  I hope maybe out there somewhere, some other couple in their twenties might be sitting down to dinner, laughing and finishing a bottle of wine at an old yellow pine table with the face of an owl in its surface.  Wise old thing.

We've got time that's all our own now... that  time has finally come.

That's how it is.  Yup.  That's how it is.

Time To Say Goodbye... by Roni Delmonico

Saying goodbye isn't ever an easy thing.  Especially when you know that it's forever.  But there really is a time for every purpose under heaven.  I know this.  Turn, turn, turn...

My dad lost his sister recently.  Not long before Hurricane Lane.  I imagine even the skies over Hawaii cried at her passing.  It made me think of my own brother.  And then the skies over me cried too.  Family wasn't meant to be so complicated.  It wasn't designed to be.

Our time here is temporary and the things we collect are too.  Life is precious.  The circle of it and all it encompasses is mesmerizing, painful, joyful, sad, melancholy and truly, completely beautiful in all its complexity.

My little bunnies left their den to follow their mother off into the great wild of my riverfront lawn, just about the same time my boys took an even wider leap.  They were the tiniest little creatures I have ever helped to take care of.  I hope I will catch a glimpse of them from time to time, and that they might even remember me, just a little.  The bunnies I mean.  Well yes...  and the boys too.

Goodbye and Godspeed.  In my life... I loved them all.

I still can recall...

Hawaii Or Nowhere by Roni Delmonico

Hawaii has really suffered so much in 2018.  Tomorrow and right on into the weekend... they will likely be tested again.  I wait and watch and pray and I wish with all my heart, that I was not so far away.  If I could.. I would go ashore and never leave...

As storm clouds swirl so close by... my heart goes out to you, Ohana.  I am praying for all of you.

This storm too, shall pass.  And once again, as all the times before... you will rise.  

IMG_9649.jpg

And the sun will shine again.

Practicing Presence And Expecting Rewards by Roni Delmonico

IMG_9853.jpg

Growing vegetables, flowers and herbs has taught me so many wonderful lessons, not the least of which is developing habits of presence.  It's amazing to watch something as tiny as a seed, become a plant just bursting with abundance that feeds my family.  But that bounty that comes from a small seed requires diligence and care.  It means you have to know the difference between a weed and a young plant.  It means you need to water and give fertilizer even when it's hot outside and you're especially tired (in fact it's even more important then).  It means you have to get dirty and sweaty sometimes, and you have to watch out for things that might harm or even kill the fruits of your labor.  

It means you have to notice the needs of something outside yourself.

And it helps to pay attention to the needs inside yourself too.

IMG_E9856.jpg

Empty Nest? Nah... ;-) by Roni Delmonico

I love to travel to new and interesting places but I really really love coming home.  I live on a small town river in Central New York that is teeming with all kind of wildlife and it is such a treat to interact from afar... and once in awhile, even up close.  I keep a lot of flowers around our property and one morning, we found my gorgeous red verbena in shreds, all torn up and dead on the ground beside its flower pot.  I couldn't imagine what might have done it.  Until we went to clean it all up and found four little baby bunnies all snuggled up together in the den their mother had made for them.  I have to say, I think she was rather smart.  A lot of times they make their dens on the ground and the babies' chance of survival against lawn equipment and other dangers is very slim.  

They are about eleven days old now and I have been watching over them since the day after they were born.  We lost one a few days ago and I was just heartbroken but yesterday, two of them opened their eyes for the first time and blinked up at me.  I just stood there grinning from ear to ear.  That was so special.  First time ever in my whole life, that I have had that pleasure.  I got to look into those little eyes, even before their mother did.

It's been raining a lot this week, so I covered them with an umbrella.  They're still cozy as can be.  It's a common misconception that the mother won't return to nurse them if you touch them and I admit to being unable to resist stroking these tiny little miracle balls of fur.  Mama comes back for about 15 minutes at dawn and 15 minutes at dusk to nurse, and I sit at the top of the stairs in my hallway, where I can watch in awe, without disturbing them.  It's lovely really... this beautiful world I live in.  So full of wonder. 

So far this summer, in the early hours just after dawn, I have kept company with a doe and her baby deer, a bearcub-sized beaver, a family of four minks, eighteen mice, (For awhile I felt a bit like Cinderella waiting for her ballgown and affectionately named the first one "Gus-Gus" ;-)), two beautiful pairs of yellow finches and one pair of cardinals, at least four nesting house finches and five different FULL nests and all their baby birds, hummingbirds,  mourning doves, chipmunks, squirrels, a skunk, blue herons in the yard and on the riverbank, kingfishers, falcons, osprey, eagles, ducks, geese, mergansers, swans, snow geese, cormorants, and one crazy little Havanese puppy named Cheyenne.:)  We also have a pond filled with about a hundred or more of the most beautifully colored Koi fish and a freshwater tank inside.  There.  I don't think I left anyone out.;-)

As we begin the new school year and my last child heads off to college... it occurs to me that my nest is not really so very empty after all. x

IMG_2139.JPG.jpeg

When the Muse Is Bowling for Soup with Tim McGraw by Roni Delmonico

IMG_9892.PNG-1.jpeg

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how images invoke memories; how they lock in a moment in time and save it for savoring later.  I don't take pictures of things.  I record memories on my heart.  When I'm shooting flowers... it's often about my emotion at the time and I'm pretty sure if you linger over anything in my "Poetry" library, you would have a very good chance at guessing if I was laughing, or crying... feeling dark, or sensual or adventurous.  Art is an expression of something always.  That's so cool.  It's a gift we, as artists... don't often take enough time to ponder.  I talk about the marriage of words to photographs all the time.  Some of my more abstract work can simply be appreciated for what it is.  Color, form, lines... I hope it puts a little beauty out there into the universe.  But what of these photos of things?  What do they say?  Can you know... if the photographer doesn't tell you?  In some instances, photographs like this will bring back memories of your own.  But let me tell you 10 things, this photo represents for me that make me smile and might make you smile too.  Maybe then you'll find yourself opening an image from your iPhone, and remembering your own story with a smile.

1. My son cooked dinner for me last night, so I didn't have to. Smile.:)

2. It was raining all day in the house, but it was sunny in my heart. Smile.:)

3. Fresh thyme smells divine and I grew it myself this year.  Smile.:)

4.  Soup in a crock is guaranteed to taste better than soup in a bowl. Smile.:)

5. When my son was little, I took him to a Shania "Twin" concert and spent the rest of the evening with a very mad little boy who I definitely didn't impress.. much. He asked Alexa to play Shania TWAIN while he was cooking.  Smile.:)

6. When Shania was done singing about how unimpressed she was, we spent an hour and a half taking turns asking Alexa for the next song.  We listened to Bowling for Soup (hahaha), Michael Jackson, Jesse McCartney, Josh Gracin, Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, Garth Brooks and Five For Fighting.  It was a musical stroll down memory lane.  Smile.:)

7. Melted cheese rocks my world.  Smile.:)

8. We ate dinner by candlelight, just the three of us, while the thunder rolled and the lightning struck.  (I still do love a good thunderstorm!) Smile.:) 

9. My son is a really really good cook!  Smile.:)

10. Tim McGraw is still my standard and I had no idea my son knew that, until he played one of his more obscure songs for me and said it was the definition of "smooth."  BIG Smile.:)

In the end, I played one for him that means a lot to me.... Funny how this guy always seems to show up when the muse does.:)

When Waves Wash Over by Roni Delmonico

Watching, praying, sometimes feeling so helpless.  My heart feels it... this volcanic act in progress.  There are some things we cannot stop.  This is one.  

It just aches... to watch it all from afar.

Be still and know that God is still God.

Sending a wave of Aloha.

As Your mercy falls, I raise my hands, and praise the God who gives, and takes away.  And though my heart is torn, I will praise you in this storm...    

On The Way To Where I'm Going by Roni Delmonico

IMG_2102-1.jpg

I talk to my dad and send him a photograph nearly every day.  When he opened this one he said, "That looks a little like heaven on earth."  

"It feels that way too, dad.  The only thing that would make it more so would be if you were here." 

We talked awhile longer.  Nothing earth shattering... just warm, loving and easy.  We talked mostly about how this is just a stop on the way to where we are going.  It's temporary.  The older we grow together, the more I understand how very true that is.  

There are so many things I am grateful for.  The people who share this place with me.  The loved ones far away, who know how to love with an unconditional love that is never ending and the biggest blessing to my heart.  I really love you dad.  You are the best indication in my life, that there is a God in heaven, preparing a place for me.  And as beautiful as our home is... it's just a stop on the way to where we are going.  Best part is... you'll be with me in the next place... and I will never have to say goodbye again.

I can see God's face.  It's around me everywhere.  And I'm not afraid, because I know.

It Began With A Dream by Roni Delmonico

When my children were little, we visited Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida once a year, usually around Thanksgiving.  There are happy memories around every corner for me, and because I grew up in Southern California, very near Walt's original park, Disneyland... I now have a lifetime of experiences associated with both parks.

We took a break from visiting for about ten years, as the boys got older and co-ordinating schedules and budgets became more and more complicated.   Now our youngest son is just about to head off to college and our thoughts have turned back toward places we held dear for so long.  We are beginning to revisit them.  The Beach Club and The Boardwalk across the water are two of my favorite places in all the world, and we can reach both in just a short two and a half hour plane ride down the East Coast.  

I think a lot about how it all started with one man's dream.  How without Walt, none of this would have existed and all these memories I hold so dear would never have happened. From humble beginnings come truly great things sometimes.  One life... just one life, can have such an impact.  Refusing to give up even when things seem incredibly bleak is something I believe divides the dreamers who never quite get off the ground, from the people who soar.

It's still one of my happiest places on earth.  It still makes me believe in dreams.  It still makes me long to soar.  And it still makes me feel welcomed home.:)

Let me tell you something about life. Always finish what you start. And anything worth doin’ is worth doin’ well.
— wisdom from Walt Before Mickey

We Are Here For A Greater Purpose by Roni Delmonico

I cannot for the life of me, get this 2 minute segment of the movie "Victoria and Abdul" out of my head.  What he says to the queen in response to her question is so simple... and so profound.

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
— Galations 5:13-14

God Just Hears A Melody by Roni Delmonico

One of my favorite things about spring is that the birds come back and fill the air with their cheerful songs.  We have a beautiful day here today, sunny and 83 degrees and there is a pair of house finches nesting in a little alcove below our upper deck.  They come up often to sit on the railing and look out over the yard as if they are king and queen of the household.  I love them.  I decided today that I will call them Sunny and Windy, since that pretty much describes the way it feels today.  Pretty soon there will be baby finches chirping in the nest too. 

I keep thinking about how life cycles around, how things don't always turn out the way we plan in each season, how when I only look inward and don't turn my gaze outward... I miss things.  I'd like to have a wider focus.  A sweeter song and a softer heart. 

Beautiful the mess we are...

Giraffe Manor by Roni Delmonico

When I was in my twenties, I visited the Big E in Western Massachusetts and in one of the tents, I came face to face with a giraffe who was as fascinated by me as I was by him.  Thus began a life long love affair with these gentle giants, who I still make an effort to see and photograph at every opportunity.  So far I have only photographed them in captivity, here in Central New York, at our local wild animal park, in Disney's Animal Kingdom, and at the New York State Fair.  Recently, I came across a video that made me smile... and put a visit with them in Nairobi at the very top of my bucket list...  

Look Deeper by Roni Delmonico

On this day, I visited The Wild Animal Park all by myself.  I like to do that sometimes because I don't feel pressured by anyone else's time table or artistic motivation.  It was a sunny day with big white puffy clouds and the temperature was perfect for wandering around taking pictures.  I actually like being alone, especially among animals.  I kind of got the feeling this bird felt the same way about me.  He was about as tall as my lens and came right up to the fence and looked directly at me for some time.  Or maybe he was looking at himself in the glass, who knows.

It makes me sad to think people can't see God when they look around them.  His art is so much more beautiful and complex than mine could ever hope to be.  I see Him in every detail.

All I really do is reflect it.

I Just Know by Roni Delmonico

I often wish we could go back to simpler times.  Back before the internet was a thing.  Back before social media changed the fabric of society.  Back when the best part of my day was sitting quietly with my little boy in the sandbox for a lazy hour of pouring, molding, sifting... with nothing but songbirds and frogs and Canadian pines making noise.  That was inevitably followed by falling asleep together in the hammock without a care in the world.

I watched a movie last night called The Circle.  It's been on my mind a lot today.  No one ever saw us doing these things.  There's no picture of it and no video... and I don't have a hundred comments telling me that it's adorable and awesome and some of the best moments of my life.

I just knew.

I really don't always think we're ok down here.