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My Lens

Welcome To My Morning:)

Roni Delmonico

One of the best things I did in our new home was to create a coffee station upstairs in the sitting area of our bedroom. Every morning, I wake up, turn on the coffee maker and throw open the curtains to a brand new day. There always seems to be some new delight, a rainbow, a shaft of light hitting the colorful trees just right in the fall, a mama deer and her fawn, and once in awhile… a gorgeous pair of bald eagles. It feels like a hug good morning, from the God of my heart. Such a lovely way to start the day. I don’t often stray far from that window until after my coffee but on this beautiful Saturday morning I could not resist. I threw on my sweatshirt and my boots and made my way down to the river’s edge, trying my best not to disturb the pair. It’s a real treat when I find them together. They didn’t stay long… but long enough for me to feel grateful and to count my many blessings. Our home is at the top of that list. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it is good to really feel that. Thankful.

Do you think much about the routines and rituals you build your life around? Are they good ones that edify and lift you up? Fill you with light? Or do they instead, fill your head with darkness and fear? Do you know peace and breathe deep when you are in your surroundings? If not… maybe it’s time for a change. Sometimes the scariest leap of faith, is the most rewarding one.

But remember this. Sometimes a break from your normal routine, is exactly what you need. Out there in the dark and cold; in those scary and sometimes lonely places outside of your comfort zone… that is where the magic can happen. Don’t ask me how I know. ;-)

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled

Roni Delmonico

One day at a time… sometimes, even one breath at a time. How often have I heard those words, or spoken them to another? They apply to all kinds of situations, but in my own life, never more so than this past year. Both my father and my father in law have been diagnosed with illnesses that simply won’t get better with time. And most recently, my little dog visited the vet with a cough and left with a congestive heart failure diagnosis that likely means we have no more than 6 months to a year left with her. I am learning on a different scale these days… what it truly means to live one day at a time. And to let tomorrow take care of itself. The autumn days of our lives hold a different kind of beauty. A slower, softer, more deliberate kind of beauty. The kind that sits close to the heart, and wrings every last bit of joy and life out of what remains.

I know there are those of you in my life who are living one breath at a time, just as I am. And this one… this one breath, filled with life… is still beautiful in all its melancholy.

Love deeply. Tomorrow is never promised.

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.
— Matthew 6:33-34

The Harmony of Balance

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.


Loved Them All...

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.

Hawaii Or Nowhere

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.  

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And the sun will shine again.

Practicing Presence And Expecting Rewards

Roni Delmonico

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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.

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Empty Nest? Nah... ;-)

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

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When the Muse Is Bowling for Soup with Tim McGraw

Roni Delmonico

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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

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

Roni Delmonico

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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

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

God Just Hears A Melody

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

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

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.

Set Free

Roni Delmonico

Remembering...

And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.
— John 8:32
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Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.
— Oscar Wilde

He stood at the door to her cell quietly, willing her to look at him.  It was cold in the room and she was shivering, the blanket beside her still folded neatly on the bed, untouched.  The thin mattress was covered in plastic and it rustled slightly as she shifted her weight.  His heart went out to her but he hadn't been invited in, so he remained outside.

She looked up at the small square window above her head and he could see the tracks of her tears glistening in the single ray of sunlight illuminating her face.  Her hands were clasped in her lap and her lips moved in silent prayer.  Her shame was palpable.  But to him... she was beautiful and precious beyond measure.  He would stay as long as he needed to. Until she was free.

He sat down against the far wall, his back against the cold concrete and remembered the day she was born.  All the plans he had for her, the gifts he had bestowed upon her, the times he had whispered to her in the dark and held her when she was afraid came back to him, each one a part of who she was, who he was.  She would grow up and forget... but he... he would always remember.  That's what love does.  It remembers the song long after the song is forgotten.

Days turned to weeks, and then weeks into years.  Seasons changed from winter to spring and then started all over again. He visited her every single day, often leaving a gift behind, some small token of his affection for her.  She eventually found her rhythm and she did the work expected of her; no more, no less.  Once in awhile, she would stare up at the stars through the window in her room and wonder if she'd ever be free.

As she drifted off to sleep, the lights on the cell block winked off one by one and he knelt beside her bed, praying for her. It was midnight and she opened her eyes.  Sitting up, she saw the door to her cell was open and in confusion, she stood in the space and peered down the corridor. Every one of the doors on the block was open, as far down the hallway as she could see.  He was standing in the light at the end, holding his hand out to her, a genuine smile on his face.  

She ran to him then, shouting for joy.  It had been so long!  Her cries woke many others, who found that their doors were open as well.  When she reached him, she threw herself into his arms and said, "Where were you?  Why didn't you come when I called?"

He gathered her close and said softly to all of them, "You are free to go.  All you ever needed to do... was believe it and walk out."  

Several called him crazy and said they'd only be caught and returned to the prison.  They turned away from him sadly and went back to their cells, closing the door behind them, and listening as the locks clicked shut.  But she held tight to his hand, and made the choice to follow him out.  

The next evening she returned and stood outside her old prison cell.  It was occupied even though the door to the cell was still open.  She sat down against the far wall, her back against the cold concrete and remembered the day he was born.  All the plans she had for him, the gifts she had bestowed upon him, the times she had whispered to him in the dark and held him when he was afraid came back to her, each one a part of who he was, who she was.  He would grow up and forget... but she... she would always remember.  That's what love does.  It remembers the song long after the song is forgotten. 

She would stay as long as she needed to.  Until he was free.

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When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.
When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”
Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”
“Tell me, teacher,” he said.
“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”
The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”
Jesus said to the woman, Your faith has saved you; go in peace.
— Luke 7:36-50