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My Lens

Filtering by Category: Photography

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. ;-)

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...  

The Tenderness of Eyes That Hear and Ears That See

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

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
 

Life On A Small Town River

Roni Delmonico

It's difficult to tell you in words what living on a small town river does for one's soul.  I'll think about it this weekend and come back and tell you when I figure out how.  For now, perhaps a picture is worth a thousand words... though I'll probably change my mind tomorrow.  I do love words, after all.  I'm gonna leave this gallery up for the next week or so on the blog so I can keep adding to it.  Eventually, I think I will give it, it's own space here.  And I think to myself... what a wonderful world. :) 

This Is My Home

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

Places of the Heart

Roni Delmonico

Hale Aha Kai - House of Gathering By The Sea, Punalu'u, Oahu, Hawaii September 2014

There is a home to which my heart belongs, as much as the one that bears my name... and I really do love it every bit as much. Every time I come back to it, I am reminded that each experience is a gift, and that one of the wisest things I can ever learn to do... is to live fully within each one, inhaling one beautiful breath at a time. And when it's over, and it is time to let go... to exhale with gladness, and with grace and thankfulness in the depths of me...always. Until we meet again.  Aloha Nui Loa...

It's My Son

Roni Delmonico

About two weeks ago, my youngest son and I had a day together alone, which rarely happens. So I asked him out on a date and he said yes!:)  How lucky am I?  I took him to see the movie, When The Game Stands Tall, which turned out to have quite a few more life lessons in it than I ever expected and stirred both of our hearts to really think about the ways that football is more than just a game for him. I knew little about the film, other than that it was a movie about an undefeated football team and the extraordinary coach who led them.  Turns out it was about a whole lot more... faith, love, heart, emotions, brotherhood, what it means to be part of a team, dependability, sacrifice, leadership both on the field and off, sorrow, joy, and ultimately... what it means to grow up and  be a man who is able to feel and to love, in life.. as well as he is able to love the game.

I've watched my Eric grow by leaps and bounds in the past three years.  He is a freshman in high school and it is his third year playing football.  This year, the coach made him a wide receiver which is something new for him, and something he takes pride in.  I think we'll be spending a lot of time tossing a football with him in our backyard, this fall.  I found his playbook on the kitchen counter, open as if he had just been studying it and it drove home to me again... how these boys are growing up into lives apart from me... full of experiences that are uniquely their own and not mine.  I'm trying so hard not to blink but it's blinking by anyway. 

I have such a mixture of feelings when I look at this child.  When he smiles, he has a dimple that is so endearing and he has no idea of its effect on people. It adds a special warmth to a gentle smile. He is already so very good... at loving.  I wrote a post about his journey last year titled, Making The Most of the Daylight Hours.  Still applies today... maybe even more so. When I look at that photo of him from just last year, it tugs at my heart.  They change a lot from 13 - 15... passing from boyhood into something deeper. He's come such a long way in three short years and in my eyes, it isn't so much the game that stands tall... it's my son.  

Veggies In A Sky Blue Bowl

Roni Delmonico

There was a time in my life when putting a "simple meal" on the table meant a box of macaroni and cheese mixed with tuna and peas.  (And yes, it's embarrassing even admitting that but hey, I was young and naive.. it had protein, dairy, wheat and starchy vegetable after all...plus it was orange and green! - balanced meal, yay! ;-))

These days, simple means something entirely different.  I love to cook and I'm pretty good at complicated recipes that take an entire afternoon. Lately, though, I have found that using just a few fresh ingredients from the garden and presenting them in an appealing way, goes a long way toward satisfying hunger.  Zucchini, tomatoes, basil... they're like fleeting friends, aren't they? They just don't taste the same once the days get shorter and autumn's cooler temps chase away summer's more playful spirit.  I can't believe we are already into September!  

I've been adding a few food staging props to my cabinet, a little at a time.  I found this pretty little sky blue bowl at a thrift store for a dollar. Did you know vegetables taste even more heavenly if swirled together in a sky blue bowl? Now, if only I could buy more storage space at the thrift store too!  I never really gave much thought before to food styling but it's actually pretty fun and it's the one place I can get away with a touch of girlie decorating in this house full of manly appetites!   

Life has been so sweet lately.  Filled with people and things that matter to me a great deal.  It's been quiet and meaningful and loving.  I am so grateful for that and it fills me with peace as we head into a new season... and all its simple pleasures.

Recipe is here.:)  I just used walnuts in the pesto in place of cheese and sprinkled a handful of pepitas in at the end. (Pepitas are raw pumpkin seeds... lots of nutrition there!  I like these. :)) 

Facts So Romantic

Roni Delmonico

Reality provides us with facts so romantic that imagination itself could add nothing to them.
— Jules Verne

I might just beg to differ, dear Mr. Verne.  But I will do it with tongue in cheek and a light hearted grin, since you are a poet and I am a dreamer.  But ahhh, are they not one and the same?:)

If you asked me who I'd like to have dinner with that I have never met... it would definitely be Bruce Lipton. I SO dig these scientific minds.  Which moment... which reality are YOU in?  Bathe me in quantum weirdness.  I just can't get enough!  I think some of the finest minds in the world, are those that blend science and art nearly seamlessly. 

Children of the Day

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.

The Joy of Eating and BEING Whole

Roni Delmonico

Last Friday I took my two youngest sons in for their annual physicals.  Now that they are in their teens, I wait out in the waiting room for them so they can have some privacy and speak candidly with their doctor without mom putting in her two cents.  (It's hard... I usually have about 25 cents.;-))  On this particular visit, their doctor actually came out to the waiting room and said, "Mrs. Delmonico, may I have a word with you in back please?"  Uh oh...

He led me into an exam room and I wish you could have seen the look on his face (and probably on mine as well).  He said, "Your son Eric tells me that you have been eating more healthy in your household and I just need to verify that's actually true?"  I burst out laughing.  I couldn't help it... it was such a relief. I walked in there thinking something was really wrong and realized quickly that we were about to have an interesting conversation about my latest views on the psychology of eating.  

After assuring him that indeed, Eric was being truthful, I explained to him how at the beginning of summer, I had made the decision that I would no longer bring processed foods full of additives and chemicals I cannot pronounce into our home.  I told him that I was focusing on feeding them primarily whole foods, with little or no ingredients lists, and that I made a deal with my children that I would make sure they had three square meals a day and some good quality snacks and that if they wanted junk after that, I wouldn't harp on them about it but they would have to buy it with their own money and convince their older brother to drive them wherever they needed to go to get it.  

In the beginning, it wasn't easy.  For the first three weeks, they experienced a lot of the same withdrawal symptoms I had when I was in my "Kill all the things" phase.  They were going to the store up the street every other day for ice cream and potato chips.  I tried to keep my frustration in check and just kept putting healthy meals in front of them, giving them choices, hoping for change and did my best to model good behaviors myself.  I had a learning curve too and what finally worked in the end was this.  I started focusing on taste. How we have forgotten this beautiful gift we've been given.  Taste is such an amazing, wonderful, joyful, exceptional gift!  We are designed to linger over and savor our food.  And I am working hard on finding and creating meals that actually make the people I love best in all the world, really want to do that.  Taste.  Linger.  Savor.

So what was the very unexpected result of all this effort?  My youngest son lost 6 pounds of body fat in just under 4 months and is leaner and more muscular going into this football season, than he has ever been.  My middle son, maintained his weight for the entire year and has clearer skin than he did last year at this time. Both are in perfect health.  Their doctor said, "I need you to understand... I called you back here because this never happens.  Whatever you're doing, keep doing it!"  Teenage boys losing weight is often a sign for alarm. But teenage boys losing body fat and gaining muscle due to a healthy diet void of processed, empty calories is not something he sees every day.  That was a huge eye opener for both of us and is incredibly motivating for me to keep at it with my boys.  I left there on Friday wanting to dance.  It's working!

Every night, we sit down together as a family and share a meal.  We've always done that because it is something that has been important to both my husband and myself for their whole lives.  We connect so well as a family during this time.  We laugh, tell stories, talk about our day and the latest news, and share concerns... feeding our spirits and nurturing our connection to each other, while nourishing our bodies.  Without a doubt it is my favorite time of the day.  It's even better these days.  Whole food tastes so good

A few fun things about our table:  (*No affiliate links here, just sharing some favorite things). First, the recipe for the meatballs and sauce. This one is paleo friendly and came from Cindy's Table. It's been a summer favorite in our house.  SO so so delicious!  The beef came from Abbott Farms, right here in Baldwinsville; the pork, from WW Longhorn Ranch. The zucchini was fresh picked from my son's garden an hour before dinner and we used a spiralizer to make noodles out of them. Really fun, and a tasty way to use excess zucchini in the garden.  It doesn't replace good quality pasta in our house - I serve it in addition to.  I am married to an Italian after all.;-) More often than not, the boys will choose both pasta and zucchini!  There are two different kinds of bread, fresh from our local Farmer's Market: a Manakish za'atar and a round European Peasant loaf that each have ingredients easily pronounced and recognizable. I made the salad dressing in less than a minute using a stick blender (This is one tool I avoided for the longest time thinking I had no need of one - silly me!)  Start with a cup of olive oil, throw in some thyme, a teaspoon or so of dijon mustard, a dash of salt and pepper and some strawberry or raspberry vinegar to taste and whiz with a stick blender.  Super simple, super yummy. (One note, use a light tasting olive oil.  If you make your salad dressing with full bodied olive oil, your kids will likely turn up their noses. Don't ask me how I know.:))The salad base is a really wonderful mild red Boston Bibb I've fallen in love with this summer, tossed with grapes, apples, bits of raw cheddar cheese and some absolutely wonderful spiced almonds I just discovered from the folks at Our Daily Eats, based right here in upstate New York! And as always... we use a freshly grated parmesan.  (My mother in law taught me that and I've never looked back!)  

Food photography is challenging in my house because food gets eaten faster than I can photograph it. It is consistently disappearing before I can adequately work with it, but you know, I think I'm ok with that.:)  Bon appetit, my beautiful family.  I am so happy to feed you well!