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Filtering by Tag: home

You Had Me At Aloha

Roni Delmonico

I went shopping and out to lunch with a friend today. I haven’t done that in a long long time. Now I find myself surrounded by a whole lot of things that make me feel more like … me. It’s lovely.

Not long ago, I was struggling with something hard and I was given a mantra. “Just this day.” I have repeated it to myself for many months now, willing myself to live in the present moment as often as I possibly can. Isn’t it amazing how a treasure chest full of sparkling diamond, “Just this days” can string together into a whole strand of something beautiful in time?

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. ;-)

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.

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


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...    

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

A Wild and Quiet Place At World's End

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)

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

With It, An Eternity...

Roni Delmonico

It’s essential to listen to the messages from your heart. These messages are your soul’s desire. They communicate to you what you are meant to be doing at any given time in your life. If you don’t follow these messages, you will inevitably be straying from your life’s path.
— Jon Gabriel

I've never been much for a traditional office.  I have one, but I don't spend a lot of time there, unless I need my main computer for photo and video editing.  I've finally completed my zen space at home and it is where I choose to be for the bulk of my day.  It is where I go to meditate, to create, to think, to design, to read and listen to music, to be still, to cultivate gratefulness, to dream, and to commune with nature.  The sun travels from east to west as the day meanders across the river, leaving trails of sparkling diamonds in new patterns for me every day.  The old oak trees stand like sentinels on all sides and their leaves whisper and sway in a dance I can feel inside of me.  I really really love these things.  I finally found the table I want for this space too.. a long wooden one that will expand to seat ten people for holidays, extended family dinners, photography related workshops, classes and projects and all the things I like to surround myself with, to help me work and play more effectively. Someone approached me again recently about offering a workshop for beginners or those struggling with pulling their cameras out of Automatic mode.  I feel like I now have a space that will accommodate that in the near future.  I'm behind on my goals by about six months to a year I think, but these months (and the coming ones) are an important healing time for me, and what's the rush after all?  Each day in itself brings with it, an eternity... 

But it isn't just the things I am surrounded by in here that bring me peace and this quiet feeling of tranquility.  It is the echo of people who have been in this space with me.  And it is the echo of those who have yet to be in this space with me.  People I know personally and many I don't.  People I love, people I have invited into my heart and life, whether for only a brief time, or with more permanence, on the computer, or beside me in the rocking chairs.  My friend gave that tiny little zen garden up top to me for my birthday. It has little pits of sand that everyone seems to enjoy diving into (we are such tactile creatures it is lovely being invited to touch, isn't it?).  Four bright candles glow in it whenever I am in here and I smile and breathe deeply every time I look at it. Trust, acceptance, love, kindness... it reminds me of the blessings of true friendship. 

There is a lot going on in my mind, body and heart these days.  For the longest time, I kept trying to drag myself away from sharing what is personally going on behind my eyes, and just remaining detached and professional, removed and at arm's length, only letting you see one layer.. the top shallow one.  That is never going to work for me because it goes directly against my nature.  I am a highly emotive empath... and it is that very aspect of my personality that makes it so important NOT to do that.  

So why the heck am I blogging about this on my photography website?  Because trying to live creatively when your mind and body are out of balance is like trying to drive a car that ran out of gas about six miles ago.  Don't ask me how I know.;-)  

Sometimes, I just make it way too complicated, when it's really very simple.

I'm Not Afraid

Roni Delmonico

It's the first day of May today and it is one of my favorite months of the year.  The days are longer, the trees fill in, the barges travel up and down the river and blow their funny horns and wave when they see me in the yard, leaving colorful buoys in their wake.  Those of us who enjoy slicing through the water with barely a noise, pull out the kayaks and begin dreaming about putting them in the water again.  There is nothing like that feeling to me... working arms hard, squinting into the sun that is laying down sparkles all around me.  Fish jump out of the water gleefully and I share that space with all sorts of other wildlife too.  Blue herons, ducks, geese, beavers... I even woke up one morning to see something across the river, jump from the bank, into the water.  Thinking it was a big dog, I picked up the binoculars and found instead, a doe who had reached the edge of the land she'd been walking on and decided to swim across a section of the river to continue on her way.  I had never seen that before.  It was such a beautiful sight.  I often feel, at this time of year, as if I am living in a vacation home in some magical place. It's really very cool. 

As much as I love color... there are times when distilling it down to black and white does a better job of telling the story without distraction.  Man, nature, quiet, stillness, sparkles, warmth.. and me. How blessed we are as photographers to be able to capture these moments in time in a way that lets us return to them, to remember, to anticipate. I pray that is never taken from me. It's been a challenge for me and a mighty one this year. I've developed some health issues in the last few years that threaten my ability to continue doing it effectively.  That in turn has done a bit of a number on my mind, but it has also forced me to research, to detach emotionally and look at my body from a clinical and scientific perspective. Pain has a way of shaping you. Changing you.  Teaching you about the depths of you.  And making you appreciate what a very precious gift, health is, and how it should be protected and cared for.  It has been 8 weeks since I have allowed a single processed food to enter my body.  I am choosing to take better care because I am learning that if I choose otherwise, the consequences will be steep.  I have often wished that my 40 something year old self could have just one day with my 20 year old self.;-)  There are many things I would like to say to her and in fact... I am working on a new idea for a book based on that premise.  

I have sought healing this year, perhaps more than ever before.  Healing, not just of my body (though that has been a powerful catalyst) but of my mind and my spirit as well.  They are all so interconnected... there is no way to nurture one while ignoring another - there has to be balance - and balance is something I have yet to achieve. This journey will likely continue for some time yet, and will include many days out on the water in a kayak this summer.  I think really well out there.  And If there is one thing of which I am very certain... for me, it will take time alone in the woods, on the river, by the ocean, and above all else, looking in the mirror before ever pointing my finger at anyone else.  All things I have planned into the remainder of this year.   Healing rain is falling down.  I'm not afraid.:)

Behold, All Things Have Become New

Roni Delmonico

Isn't it beautiful, the way spring whispers in so gently after the bitter harsh attitude of winter? It's been a quiet season for me... one in which I have kept my own company most of the time, and watched hopefully every day, as my piece of earth took her sweet time waking up.  How she smiled at me when she did, though.  A slow, lazy, rested smile. Yesterday, I stood on this spot and took a deep breath, stretching and letting it out with a trembly sigh as I looked out over my own backyard.  The tears came... and I just let them.  Tears of renewal....they came for so many reasons, and washed over this heart like the rain falling softly outside my window right now.  I closed my eyes then, briefly, and remembered another spring, five years ago, when Jim and I used to sneak over here and stand on that shoreline and wish it was ours.  It was a tangled mess of overgrown weeds and untended gardens back then.  All anyone saw, was how much work it would be. But we didn't see it that way.  We saw it like this. Big, and bright, and peaceful... filled with the laughter of our boys and the antics of our little dog.  We always saw what it could be.  I love this place. It demands much of us, and we are coming to understand how deeply that should be appreciated.  I spent hours out there tending to it in the last two days and I realized how good it is for my body, mind and spirit.  My willow tree is nearly ready to burst out in leaves, leading the maple and the oaks by at least a week, I think.  We cut down the dead fall of this harsh winter and burned it beside the river.  As I tended the fire, I sat alone on my bench watching the geese fly low over the water and determined that I might do the same - burn the deadfall and watch as the ashes turn to embers and then cool and gently drift away on the wind.  Behold... old things are passed away.  Behold, all things have become new...

Morning Song

Roni Delmonico

Rarely, am I able to resist treating a photograph like a painter would treat a blank canvas. Sometimes I see in color.  Sometimes I see in texture, form, and light.  It never ceases to amaze me, how you can start out with something you are used to seeing every day (and can often take for granted), and create a completely alternate reality out of it.  For me, that's the beauty of photographic art.  I don't think I'll ever be a documentary realist when it comes to photography. The magic is just too alluring.  Keeping a photo journal has really helped me in a more personal way,  to appreciate the early hours of the morning, but it has also taught me to look at the exact same scene, repeatedly ... in new and different ways.  I am so fortunate to have this particular canvas to work with.  I know this, and I am really trying to treat that with the respect and gratitude it deserves.  

It's so beautiful how water meets the sky in this place I call home.  How they mimic each other and complement each other in absolute and unquestionable harmony.  I can't tell you how many times I sit on my bench down at the water's edge and think, wow... I wish I could share this with my friends in person. The way it feels when the mist is crawling softly across the glassy smooth surface of the water, as much as the way it looks.  How good it smells when you breathe deep and the scent of earth and water mingle with mother nature's interesting mix of floral perfume and pungent musk on the air.  The loud squawking of hundreds of species of birds, competing for your attention all around you as you try to untangle their calls and surprise yourself with how many  you have come to recognize. The joyful splashing sound of fish after fish, leaping and breaking the water's surface with glee, as if celebrating the absence of ominous lazy fisherman who smacked the alarm clock and went back to sleep with a groan.  Tomorrow ... I'll get up earlier to fish...tomorrow.... Ah but what will they miss, today?  What will I... if I make the same choice?

When I looked at this scene before me, I could almost imagine a Native American woman standing at the water's edge taking it all in before she begins preparations for another busy day. Her black hair lays in a silky waterfall down her back with just the slightest gentle breeze lifting it up and down at the edges. A small child with huge dark eyes stands beside her, silently watchful. Her hand rests gently on his head and they breathe together in unison. I quietly ponder whether I am seeing the echo of an image from the past in this place.  The spirit is strong here. They look up at me and smile and I smile back, before picking up my camera reluctantly, turning back toward the house, and once again whispering a prayer of thankfulness with a deep sigh for my home.  There are stories here. Echoes of lives that came before. Memories of my own children playing on this riverbank.  It all sounds so beautiful to me in these quiet morning hours.  And so begins another day...