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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. ;-)

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.


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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When the Muse Is Bowling for Soup with Tim McGraw by 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.:)

The Tenderness of Eyes That Hear and Ears That See by Roni Delmonico

Both my ears and my eyes prefer a quiet and tender melody.  Training the eyes to "hear" and the ears to "see" is one of the best gifts my camera and music have given to me.  These lyrics... 

Grandeur earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard
So let it go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name. 
— It is well.

I remain grateful.

Always.

A Little Bird Told Me by Roni Delmonico

I have heard it said, that if you want to take great pictures, then you should stand in front of great things. I certainly feel like I do a good amount of that. But for some reason... my own heart always returns to the little, ordinary moments of my life again and again and as a result, so does my camera. I have seen some extraordinary things; the magic of skyscrapers, the swell of an ocean, the magnificence of a pride of lions, the spray of a whale and her baby, the vast expanse of a desert, the stimulating nightlife of Las Vegas, the grandest of canyons, the birth of babies and the mind numbing beauty of a Hawaiian sunset.

But do you know what still moves me the most? The feather details of a small bird, the swirls of a single flower about to give up its last breath, the way dew looks like a rainbow of diamonds first thing in the morning, the shadows cast by something standing in the light, the way wet rocks shine, the way a robin somehow instinctively knows that if it shoves its beak into some healthy wet grass, it will inevitably find some breakfast, without too much effort.

The truth is, I really don't think there is anything on earth that couldn't be classified as a "great and extraordinary thing." And these in between moments ... what I sometimes think of as "valley moments" are where I often find true greatness shines. That is a very good place to spend prepping for what I perceive as peaks. And I often wonder if we have it backward; if our valleys are really our peaks.

"Remember the little things, for one day you may wake up and find that they were the big things." - Robert Brault
 

A Wild and Quiet Place At World's End by Roni Delmonico

There are places of the heart, where I like to hide away. It is these places I turn to, when I want to be alone, re-charge, find my center, remember the things that are truly important to me. The sand in this image is the exact spot where I was sitting when I took the photographs of the monk seal family I sat with at sunset the last time I visited Molokai. (I shared the pup on my blog yesterday). It is the beach in front of a little forgotten resort on one of the most beautiful stretches of sand that I have ever laid eyes on. It changed hands several times through the years and was once a thriving Sheraton resort with a restaurant that had arguably some of the best views in all of Hawaii. It's also quite a beautiful surfing spot, a wild and quiet place. And it adjoins Pohaku Mauliuli Beach where portions of Pirates of the Caribbean, At World's End was filmed. Sometimes, it does feel that way. Haunting, and like it's literally at world's end.

Sadly, its history is one of fighting between those with money who wanted to change this side of the island without considering the feelings of the locals who disagreed with their methods and those who staunchly refused (and continue to refuse) to allow that to happen. Molokai has a rich and painful history... and it is one that Hawaiians who love her, protect fiercely. I love this island more than I can quantify in words.

Today, the hotel and resort is slowly being reclaimed by mother nature but there are a number of condo owners who continue to keep a small circle of them alive and running. Most of them feel a deep love and respect for the Hawaiian people and the storied history of the island.

For me... it has become an oasis.
Kepuhi Beach, Molokai (formerly the Kaluakoi Resort)

Our New Home by Roni Delmonico

Sometimes the world tries to knock it out of you. But I believe in music, the way some people believe in fairy tales. I like to imagine that what I hear comes from my mother and father. Maybe the notes I hear are the same ones they heard the night they met. Maybe that’s how they found each other. Maybe... that’s how they’ll find me.
— August Rush

This Is My Home by Roni Delmonico

It's been a great week of shooting for me.  Watched eagles and osprey pluck fish right out of the water.  Enjoyed following them in flight, and anticipating what their next moves might be.  I'm very seriously thinking about joining some friends on an African Safari in the fall of 2018.  

I am always careful to remember the beauty of the ordinary birds that surround me too though.  I never want to miss the extra-ordinary that is right under my nose by chasing bigger things.  I heard a wonderful quote today, and liked it so much, I decided to make it the focus of my home page.  It was written by a minister and evangelist in the Bahamas who has since passed on.  I think it's wonderful that his words have been immortalized and there is such truth in them for me.

I think the greatest gift God ever gave man is not the gift of sight, but the gift of vision. Sight is a function of the eyes, but vision is a function of the heart.
— Myles Munroe

Summer Concert With Ed and Lexy by Roni Delmonico

Ed Page, lead guitarist for the Horn Dogs, plays Paper Mill Island on a beautiful summer night in Baldwinsville on July 29, 2014.

Had a great time out at Paper Mill Island in Baldwinsville last night, hangin' with my friend Lexy Page on a perfect summer night that felt more like fall.  Her husband Ed is lead guitar and vocalist for his band The Horn Dogs and he led the crowd on a joy filled musical journey for an hour and a half that ended with a splash on Jerry Lee Lewis' Great Balls of Fire!  There was laughter and dancing and at one point, the guys even came out into the middle of the crowd and played right in front of me so I could get a few close ups.  Live events are so fun!

July is quickly winding to a close.  I hope you are all enjoying your summer as much as I am!

Port Ontario by Roni Delmonico

Port Ontario is calling to me.  Of all the places I love best in New York, Tibbett's Point Lighthouse feels most like standing on the Pacific Ocean shoreline of my youth.  In the summer, the waves roll over rocks onshore and the sun sets over the Canadian Coastline, her windfarm quietly generating power in the warm orange glow before nightfall.  I love it here.  

And another beautiful week of my life, comes to a close.

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.