Burning Love

Today is John’s birthday.

It’s the fourth one I’ve been able to share with him and while he doesn’t like to make too much of his own birthdays, he goes out of his way to make mine special. Right about now you may be thinking, “If it’s John’s birthday, why are we looking at a picture of you blowing out candles?”

Let me tell you a story …

Remember when I wrote here about being in Scotland for my birthday? Well, we were there because John had big a reunion nearby with former colleagues from the television station where he’d worked before retiring. A few months before the event, he noticed the date was on my birthday and he kindly asked if I would mind going that evening.

Once he was sure I was fine with sharing the day, he began planning how he might make it memorable for me too. He knows I love a trip to Scotland so it was big part the fun we had on my birthday and our evening finished with a small carrot cake in our hotel that night after the reunion. The cake part presented a little problem though.

I’m a big believer in candle blowing and wish making on birthdays. There’s something hopeful, thankful, and celebratory about the act that feels necessary to me and I can’t imagine a birthday without it.

John is not that bothered by it on his own birthday but he knows how important it is to me. We took the cake with us on our outing thinking we might have it during our day out in Scotland, but stayed in motion so much that we decided to save it for after the reunion. When we rushed in to shower and change for the evening, we realized that we didn’t have a way to light the candles for the cake.

He went out to buy some matches or a lighter and was gone so long I was beginning to worry. I didn’t know that since we were in a hotel in the center of Carlisle and it was evening that the shops would be closed.

Poor John searched everywhere for an open shop to get what we needed and finally ended up a good distance away in a pub that he was familiar with from his days of living there. They didn’t sell matches, but the guy behind the bar gave him a box they had for the pub’s use.

After hearing about his search, I asked him how far he’d had to go before finding them and was really touched when he said, ” About a mile. “

Life with him is like that. A million little sweet gifts of service that say love. I am a fortunate woman to have found this gentle man and I am so happy to be able to celebrate another birthday with him today.

Of course I had to save the matches … I’ll use one later to light a candle or two for John and hope to post a picture here later today of him making a wish.

Here’s a photo to save the spot for now. I think of this look as his determined face. I’ve seen it before although it does look a bit different with the beard and all.

I imagine this was the expression he was wearing all around Carlisle a few weeks ago and it makes me smile just thinking about it.

Birthday Travels & Scary Castles

Double Click On The Image To Step Into The English Countryside

John and I went north last week to attend a reunion with some people he used to work with in Carlisle. Since my birthday fell during that time, we added a few days to make the long drive more fun. I’ve got about 700 photographs from the area where Beatrix Potter used to write about her friends on the farm, and I’d love to show you a few, but you’ll have wait until tomorrow when I’ve had time to sort some out for you.

We skipped over the border of England into Scotland on the 10th for my birthday and came across an 800 year-old castle that too scary to me to even go into. John wouldn’t have minded, but I had an odd feeling and was content to snap my photos from a distance. I’ll tell you what I discovered later when I researched the castle online. Here’s a photo or two so you can see what I mean about spooky.


I’m usually quite fearless when it comes to poking around ancient monuments, but some places feel less inviting than others. Although John never seems to feel this way, I’d be willing to bet that some of my readers know what I’m talking about.


Fairy Spirit Or Twist Of Light


Fairy Spirit Or Twist Of Light?

I live in a place that is a wonderland for the imagination. Stories lie in wait around every turn and each time I step out for a walk or a run I return with a headful of ideas begging to find a bit a permanence and a place to call home. Whether on the moor or walking over the ancient bridges that cross the river that runs through our little village, I see possibilities wherever my eyes stop to rest. I find myself talking to the animals I see along the way and can easily understand how Beatrix Potter could create worlds where bunnies and geese talk back while cats and dogs do the shopping and farm work. These are fertile grounds for story making and the peace of my rural life is perfect for coaxing life into new characters and situations.

I have so much material that I often feel overwhelmed with my choices much like the way one might when standing before a huge buffet table, only instead of choosing between fried chicken southern style or asian sweet and sour , my banquet table is weighed down with ideas. It’s a wonderful problem to have, but for a woman prone ever so slightly towards being easily distracted…too many choices can be troublesome. So the ideas tend to pile up, waiting in a long queue for their moment with some moments taking longer to arrive than others. If I forget to write it all down…the story can disappear, but sometimes there is evidence, a lasting trigger with an image of mine to remind me.

Such was the case with a walk in Scotland on the Isle of Skye at sunset a few years ago. Day or night, the sky there is always stunning and I crawled over a thorny patch to capture this image lit by the setting sun. Skye has long been a magical place for me and seeing what looked like a bit of a fairy spirit captured in the lens of my camera created  more of a feeling of confirmation than surprise.  I have a series of these taken from different angles and the image is the same …twist of light or fairy spirit…you choose. I’d love to hear your thoughts…


(My lens was clean…in case you’re wondering…with no smudges or dust)



From A Distance


Machu Picchu - Morning Light

My tendency in photography as well as life has been to get in close to what is in front of me. I am generally more interested in what is under the surface than the obvious. I like the intimacy of sharing and hearing a snippet of a story will almost always make me want to hear more. With my photography, I have been drawn for years to the details as well, believing I think that on some level getting in close was requirement for communicating the emotion of the image.

Living in a space now with so much wide open sky and so few people has had an effect on my perspective, although on reflection I can see it’s been happening for quite some time. As far back as my first visit to Scotland in 2003, I began to pull back taking in a larger view than before. By the time I saw the sun rise over me in Machu Picchu in 2005, my attraction and need for big sky and wide open spaces was becoming obvious in my photography and my life. While my first tendency is to zoom in tight to see what the people in the photograph are doing, sitting with this image reminds me how small I felt that morning and how peaceful it was to observe from a distance.  

Thanks to Stephanie Roberts over at Shutter Sisters for her inspiration this morning.

Resurrection Sunday – Ghosts

Resurrection: Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin resurrēctiō, resurrēctiōn-, from Latin resurrēctus, past participle of resurgere, to rise again. 

or this

The act of bringing back to practice, notice, or use; revival

I’ve been thinking a bit about my first blog site where I left a few things behind that were important to me. Intimate and personal, they just sit there now waiting for someone to stumble across them. After reading today’s post by Sarah-ji over at Shutter Sisters I thought a good bit about one sentence she wrote and what it meant to me…it’s a request really and one that inspired me to look back through my memories and resurrect some for another look.

Here Sarah-ji asks, ” Will you share with us today your images of the weathered, beat-up and forgotten that nevertheless convey to you a hope and beauty that’s raw and real? ” I appreciate the inspiration provided by her question today and the gifts for me in remembering what remains raw and real. What about you out there…how about a Resurrection Sunday of your own. Perhaps you can provide a link today to what is “raw and real”, ” hope and beauty ” as Sarah-ji asks or something else. I’m interested in what you have to share today…..



“Let it go” she said. Standing in the remains of the church on the edge of the rocky coast, I could almost hear her voice whispering to me, “forgive yourself and let it go.”

Looking around the dirty room thick with years of dust, I wondered about the last time someone had sat on the rough pew waiting for the minister to get to the point. Simple in their design, and looking as uncomfortable as the wind felt blowing in through the broken glass, I pulled my coat tighter and considered the history of the tiny church. The room was poorly lit, the shadows in the corners near the old pulpit were scary in the dark space that John seemed to disappear into and out of sight. Nervous and not sure why, I stepped closer to the low light drifting in through the only window not boarded up.

Before when we were still outside, John had pulled on a door that was wedged shut to keep people out while had I hung back thinking about how what we were doing was less adventure and more intrusion. This ruin of a church, isolated and abandoned on the Isle of Skye should have drawn me in rather than triggering my fight or flight response, but as he slipped in past the half open door, I found myself tight behind him not wanting to be left alone, even outside.

Once inside I came part way down the aisle and considered my feet were walking where hopeful brides had walked, one hand lightly resting on their father’s arm anxious to take the final steps that would take them from their parents home into one of their own making. A home and life they would struggle to build with the man smiling and nervous waiting at the front of the church.

Flashing quickly forward I imagined the hardships of life here years ago when this church might have been alive with activity and the energy of the fishing community.

Would the women who married and later baptized their children here also have gathered to mourn and bury their hope along with the men they loved in this little church. What dreams had been lost to the things they could not control. What words had they left unsaid and what things once done could never be forgotten.

I knew then why I didn’t want to go into this church. This building had once been light and bright with possibilities and warmth. It had been a gathering place for worship and reflection, for celebration and for sorrow. Standing in the darkness, all I could feel was a sense of loss and the echo of those who had called this place a sanctuary.

“Let it go” she said, “move on with your life and live well while you can.”

Acts of contrition, reconciliation, absolution, sometimes all you can do has to to be enough….let it go.


(Posted originally on August 6, 2008 at http://giftsofthejourney.com)

A Few Things About Me

I was tagged by the talented Melissa who can be found here. According the the rules, I’m supposed to fill out this little Q & A and tag eight people to do the same. I decided to shift it a bit and added a few photographs to help you see what I’m talking about…show and tell…one of my very favorite things in school.

Additionally, for those who would like to give this a whirl, you get to delete a question and add one of your own. My question is the first one below. I’m tagging these eight people and if you’re checking me out, scoot on over to a few of these folks when you get a chance and have a look around their space. I know they’ll make you feel welcome. Thanks again Melissa.  Now for my eight in no special order (they’re all special)… Kim, Hay, Leslye, Carolyn, Kerstin Darcy, Maz, Alycia, Leaca, Bim, and  Jules.

The question I added is the first one.

Who was your childhood hero or person you most admired and why? My aunt, Wylly Folk St. John. She was a published author of many children’s books and twice nominated and runner up for the Edgar Allen Poe Mystery Writer’s of America award. She made me a character in one of her books (I bet you can’t guess which one) and gave me some of the best presents I’ve ever received. Her gifts were always lumpy strangely wrapped bundles of books and handmade treasures, like a pin cushion tomato that she embroidered my name on the side. I still have it almost forty years later. She brought a sense of belonging into my life with every letter and I think about her almost everyday.

What is your current obsession? Taming the wild ponies of Bodmin Moor with sugar cubes.

What are you wearing? My UK uniform …  sweater, backpack, jeans, good walking shoes and a camera.


Do you nap a lot? No, but when I do, I power nap. 12 minutes and I feel as refreshed as if I’d had a full five hour night.


Who was the last person you hugged? My darling husband, John


If you were a tree, what tree would you be? A little one like below reaching towards the light


What’s for dinner? This is more like what John had for dinner last night at the pub. I had a burger and chips (fries)


What was the last thing you bought? Today …I bought five packs of my new favorite Chocolate Mint Gum (Sugar Free)

What are you listening to right now? Carry You Home – Listen Here

What is your favorite weather? Blue Sky


Say something to the person who tagged you: Hello Melissa…this is the very first time I’ve done one of these Q & A things and it was a lot of fun…thanks for sending it my way.

If you could have a house, fully furnished and paid for, anywhere in the world, where would it be? Scotland, Isle of Skye


Favorite vacation spot? The western highlands of Scotland


What would you like to have in your hands right now? My former dog Bones now renamed Beau who lives with a sweet woman who dotes on him and lets him sleep in her bed. (He didn’t get to do this with me)  I see him every time I go back to Georgia.

What would you like to get rid of? My house in Atlanta Georgia

What is your favorite tea flavor? No tea… I don’t like it!

If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would it be? In Cornwall, walking the coast path with my daughter and her dog.


What is your favorite snack?


Dog or cat? I love them both, but…. I miss this dear little dog.