From a window seat

Wintertime by Roni Delmonico

We got more than a foot of snow this week and although it isn’t my favorite season, it sure can be pretty, through the holidays. I have a sudden fondness and affection for red barns. I photographed this one up in Three Mile Bay several years ago and finally got around to framing it. Maybe because a new one… is about to become a part of our history. :)

Little But Mighty by Roni Delmonico

We have snow in the forecast coming up this week and everyone is busy battening down the hatches, including us. It’s so fun to look up from what I’m doing and find one of the river tugboats going by. It never fails to make me smile. I always tell my future daughter that she’s “Little but Mighty”. You might be surprised what that little thing can do!;-)

We had an awful lot of fun this weekend, chasing after wedding dreams. I was watching the most beautiful video this morning. I just got lost. I think I’m going to save all these things here… the ones that are meaningful to me. Someday, I’ll look back on it all and it will be a journal of this milestone in my son’s life and the myriad of feelings inside of me as it all unfolds.

This…. I love.

Welcome To My Morning:) by 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 machine 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. ;-)

And So It Begins... by Roni Delmonico

This song has been a part of our history since we were younger than they are now. It’s such a beautiful thing to us… not to have lost a son, but to have gained a daughter. It’s been a wonderful week full of love, laughter, dreams for the future, family coming together. And the sweetest gentle memories of my own. Happy times. :)

There is a photograph of you out on the back porch of the first place we lived, we loved, we laughed we knew… we two would never let the bad times replace the way, we felt that day, so many years ago…

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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.

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

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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...

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

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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...

Children of the Day by Roni Delmonico

I still remember the night I stood here watching the sun paint all those glorious colors into the sky.  It was breathtaking and I felt such peace.  I was holding my flip flops and my sweater in my hand, digging my toes into the soft, cold sand.  It was one of those perfect moments of just being, where there was no need for talk. Such a little oasis in the center of a crazy busy place, where entertainment can be found around every corner, in every nook and cranny, and long past daylight.  And yet it was here.. where I wanted to be. In this quiet place full of waning light and color. That is so representative of my being.  Of who I am at the core.  I find solace in solitude. I need it, in order to function in any kind of healthy fashion.  But I am coming to understand that there is a very fine line between seeking solitude in order to recharge and reconnect more meaningfully, and self imposed isolation whose only design is to separate. One is full of light and peace.  The other is wretchedly dark and dismal.

I received two letters this week from women I have come to deeply respect and admire.  It's ironic you know.. After a very frustrating couple of months, in my anger, I had just finished telling someone that Christians (myself included) are some of the most self absorbed, miserable people I know.  How incredibly self centered (and totally wrong) that was.  Those letters were proof and they were a balm to my heart.  I'm quoting the last words of one here, not only out of respect for the woman who spoke it, but so that I will remember them, later this year, when I will undoubtedly need them again.  

Religion will fail you, people will fail you, but God won’t. There have been plenty of times I have thought that He has forgotten me only to lift me up higher than I thought I could go. I get tired and want to give up but then I think of that story of the Footsteps and know He is carrying me when I can’t do it myself. ...please don’t let.. this world dim that wonderful free spirit of yours. ..I do hope you know that you are not alone.
— Elizabeth Smith

You know what?  I do know that.  Because there are a few of you out there, who continue to remind me that there is kindness and goodness yet in the world, if I will only take my eyes off myself and turn them outward and upward.  I guess this is just my way of retracting some hastily spoken, selfish words and replacing them with something more beautiful.  And it is my way of saying thank you to every one of you (and you know who you are) who have reached out to me in friendship this past year and said in your own precious ways... "We're not letting go." You've taught me more about unconditional love and faithfulness than I could ever.. have imagined.

Our Truest Work of Art by Roni Delmonico

A year ago, our deck had a table, 8 chairs, an umbrella, a loveseat, two chairs with ottomans, a grill, tons of flowers and a lot of clutter.  No one ever used it except for the chipmunks and squirrels who eventually stole all the stuffing out of the cushions.  This year, we finally had time to refinish the deck, and when I went to put all that stuff back, I ended up saying... you know what?  No.  Just no.  Let's put two rocking chairs out there, leave the grill and maybe a few other folding chaises and simplify our lives.  Now.. we use it every single day.

I've been reading a lot lately...  gleaning nuggets of wisdom from others instead of trying to impart some wisdom of my own.  It's a nice change.  Sometimes as creators, I think we spend so much time trying to say, produce, be something interesting, that I think we can lose sight of the fact that it's important to just be quiet and listen to something interesting ourselves from time to time.  That is one of the things I loved best about Google+ and really miss... all the opportunities to listen to people with very different viewpoints and ideas from my own.

I have the deepest respect for photographer, David duChemin.  He and Chris Orwig have probably been the biggest, most significant influences on my photographic vision in the last four years.  David wrote a post a few months ago that I thought was really brave and truly thought provoking.  I think it probably speaks into the heart of more creatives than any of us might admit.  Things look so shiny and pretty from the outside sometimes, don't they?  

I love what he said here: If you bought it and don’t need it, sell it. Clear it out and don’t fill the space with something new. Tame the appetite. Learn to say no to yourself – or rather, learn to say yes to a bigger thing: a debt-free, clutter-free life that affords you the freedom to do what you want to do... A simpler life, with less consumption, is more sustainable on many levels, including your finances.  I really feel that on a gut level and it's where I'm at right now. The desire to live a simpler life, to be debt free, to get rid of the clutter and all the "stuff" I don't need is at the top of my list of priorities.  

I never noticed with all that clutter on the deck, how beautiful the light is, dappled through the trees and playing with the shadows on the floor.  I can't tell you how many times I bruised my thigh on my way to the grill on the corner of that sharp table nobody ever used.  It takes some hard knocks to get through to my hard head sometimes... but all that floor space, my little white flip flops, some cheerful little flowers, a comfy wooden rocking chair and a few wise words from David duChemin are all it took this weekend.  Well, that and a few purple bruises, here and there.  Do guys dig scars like chicks do?;-)

To my core I believe that our lives can be lived boldly, intentionally, and as our truest work of art. I believe we are all capable of living extraordinary lives; that people like Gandhi, Picasso, or Mother Teresa, were ordinary people who chose to be fully themselves and play by their own rules. I believe that we are all creative and that if our lives are our first, and most intentional, act of creation, then the principles of creativity can teach us to be not only bolder creatives but bolder human beings. - David duChemin

I do too, David.  With every fiber of my being... I surely do.

What Really Counts by Roni Delmonico

Last night we had the most beautiful thunderstorms all night long.  I've always loved them but there was a furry little critter vibrating beside me, shaking in fear with every crack.  I wish I could instill my love for them into her so it wouldn't feel scary to her.  Instead, I just fold her in and keep her close and help her to ride it out.  As I listen to my kids get ready for school this morning, I recognize that this is one of the beauties of being connected to family.  It's a safe place always... to ride out any storm.  

We didn't get a lot of sleep last night, but I still find myself smiling.  She wakes up like sunshine every morning, no matter how bad the night has been.  I could learn a thing or two from that.:)  She has her own gallery... did you know?  It's right....  here.  Good morning, Sunshine!  

A person can learn a lot from a dog .... about living each day with unbridled exuberance and joy, about seizing the moment and following your heart. ...to appreciate the simple things - a walk in the woods, a fresh snowfall, a nap in a shaft of winter sunlight - and about friendship and selflessness and, above all else, unwavering loyalty.

A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol means nothing to him. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not. As I wrote that column ... I realized it was all right there in front of us, if only we opened our eyes. Sometimes it took a dog with bad breath, worse manners, and pure intentions to help us see.
— John Grogan


Enchanted by Roni Delmonico

I remember the day I took this photograph.  It was warm and everything was so lush and green and peaceful.  I don't often view our home from this direction because I'm usually on the bench looking the other way.  Looking somewhere other than our home.  We were out on the boat and I thought, gosh... it looks so pretty from this angle.  When I'm up there doing all the hard work, planting the flowers, mowing the lawn, trimming the bushes, weeding the gardens, staining the deck... I don't always see that.  It made me think of a great quote:

Distance lends enchantment to the view.
— Mark Twain

I thought about that a lot as I sat in my window seat this morning.  I am so often focused on the details that I forget to see the bigger picture.  That makes me a great macro photographer but as a woman, I think I need to back up so I can see the whole garden again. Head out to the water and look back at all we've done and how beautiful it is.  It didn't happen overnight.  It took 2 years of hard work to fix the things that were broken down and in need of repair and re-planting after three years in foreclosure.  And it's taken steady work since then, to maintain and keep it weed free and healthy.  Why would we work so hard on our homes, and then neglect our own hearts?

Stirring, Not Striving by Roni Delmonico

Two weeks ago I created a front row seat for myself.  I have a habit of moving furniture in my house but my bedroom is really tiny so I've never tried it there.  We have a wall of windows looking out on water and sky and when we moved the dresser to the side wall it created a little nook in the corner, just big enough for a cushioned ottoman I had been using in the living room. It makes a perfect window seat for watching the sunrise.  I really didn't realize it would become a favorite spot for everyone in the family to sit.  Funny how a small change can have a big impact. Even my kids and the dog have come to enjoy this space.  I stacked some soft pillows against the wall to lean on.  It's perfect for absorbing the sunlight and watching the clouds roll by and I can see the squirrels and chipmunks playing in the yard. It's a quiet place for contemplating the things and the people that matter to me.

This morning I was thinking about a paragraph that a new friend used on her blog's About page - 

I humbly invite you to stand still and have a bite or two with me. My kitchen is always open for those who need healing or just a good slice of warm homemade bread. It is my greatest hope that it will help you, in some small way, to spend a moment using your arms for stirring instead of for striving. - Renia, author of The Development of Taste 

I love that SO much.  It is my greatest hope that it will help you, in some small way, to spend a moment using your arms for stirring, instead of striving.  

What a cool purpose for a blog.  What a necessary important part of living... to stop with all the striving and just enjoy being for a little while.  Saturdays are good for that aren't they?  Little cushioned ottomans tucked into a corner next to a window where the sunlight comes in are, too. I'm sitting here filled with memories of stirring in the kitchen with my grandmother when I was a little girl and it was my turn to have a sleepover at her house. Nothing at all was expected of me on a Saturday morning but to spend time with her doing something fun. Later... beautiful memories with my own children stirring, mixing, pouring... getting covered with more of the ingredients on their clothing than what went into the bowl.  

If you look the word stir up, it can mean so many different things.  Right now, not a soul in my house has even begun to stir.  But my soul feels a stir of hope for a day filled with beauty when they do.  As I look out my window, the leaves stir softly on a gentle breeze.  My oldest son's new activities have created quite a stir in our home.  And how that does stir my heart with a sigh. Stirring is all about being. Full of hope, full of emotion, full of feeling, full of life experiences.

I think today I'll dispense with all the striving... and just stir.:)