365

Photo Jan 08, 7 39 47 AM_square (Large)

On the eve of each new year I try to choose something new to focus on and learn about in the coming twelve months. This is harder than it sounds. Sometimes I stick with it, and sometimes I don’t. Past picks have been all over the place: jewelry-making, Ireland’s history, how to start a blog. The year of attempting traditional Italian cooking sounded good on paper until I realized that I would also have to eat it; sadly, in the end I figured I did not need the extra pounds. So … some ideas work, and others don’t.

Photo Jan 10, 1 25 19 PM (Large)

For 2015 I wanted to do something creative. After days of crossing items off a mental checklist I finally settled on an idea: Instagram. Now, Instagram is nothing new, even to me. I had tried it once before. Social media isn’t really my thing. But Instagram IS photos, and I thought it might be another aspect of photography – however simple – that I should investigate. To up the ante a bit I decided it should be a Project 365 – post a photo a day – on Instagram. Let’s call it Instagram365.

Photo Jan 08, 4 41 57 PM_ (Large)

For the record (and I looked this up) “instagram” is a blend of the words “instant camera” and “telegram.” Photos are confined to a square shape, reminiscent of Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid images. A bit of a throwback in the midst of 21st-century technology. Not life-changing, but different enough to be fun (I hope).

Photo Jan 09, 2 42 33 PM (Large)

Instagram also encourages the use of filters, and this is where the creativity comes in … I have given myself permission to go a little overboard with it, creating images that might not look exactly like what I saw but maybe what I imagine it to be. After all, who cares? This is supposed to be fun. Instagram may not be challenging to learn or use, but my dare is to post something interesting – or at the very least not boring – every day.

Photo Jan 12, 5 19 54 PM (Large)

Twelve days in … so far, so good!

Follow me on Instagram

 

Advertisements

Christmas in Seattle

Photo Dec 21, 4 08 08 PM __

During my annual December visit home for the holidays this month I was lucky enough to have a friend invite me out for a day of “fun, excitement, and intrigue.” Not knowing exactly what that looked like, I was happy to learn that we were heading for downtown Seattle – it had been years since I’d been there.

Years ago I worked downtown … Boeing had leased a building there and for a couple of years we really had a good thing going. Only 3 blocks from the Market, we were also right in the middle of everything: I remember great used-book stores, fabulous bakeries, the Bon Marche (which is now Macys), Nordstrom and Frederick & Nelson (which is no longer there), lots of good restaurants, and plenty of engineers who drank their lunches and didn’t get much done in the afternoons. I turned 21 in downtown Seattle. For a quiet kid from what was then labeled a “cow town,” it was quite an eye-opener.

Photo Dec 21, 3 10 10 PM (Large)

Since my friend works there, she knew her way around – including where to park. We did a little window-shopping, and passed the Fifth Avenue Theater (where my mom and I saw Katharine Hepburn years ago). This month “A Christmas Story” was playing. Eventually we made our way to the Fairmont Olympic Hotel (which would have been the Four Seasons when I worked downtown) for lunch.

Photo Dec 21, 3 11 49 PM (Large)

Photo Dec 21, 2 22 54 PM (Large)

She wanted to eat in the Georgian Restaurant, and we made our way through the huge lobby and past the 3500 lb noble fir tree decorated with ornaments the size of light fixtures. The restaurant was European-grand: Italianate architecture, immense crystal-swagged chandeliers, super-high ceilings, columned walls, marble sideboards, and buttercream paint on the walls. The waiters (much to my single friend’s delight) all had accents and were attentive without being overbearing. When we asked one of them for some history of the room, he told us the hotel was built in 1924 and where were we from? It was a little embarrassing to name two just-south-of-Seattle towns. When he practically scolded us for not knowing more about this hotel I said that I had been in New Hampshire for years, as if this were some kind of excuse. He seemed to go along with this, or at least pretended to.

Photo Dec 21, 3 44 16 PM (Large)

After lunch we wandered down to the Pike Place Market. This public market has been around since 1907. Originally farmers brought their produce to the city by horse-drawn wagon and by ferry from the nearby islands (one of which I used to live on). Over time arcades were built by a developer who prospered during the Klondike Gold Rush. After World War II the Market fell on hard times and by the 1960s the buildings were slated for demolition; it was saved when a historic district was approved and the market was preserved. Today it was in full swing and decorated for Christmas, and packed with people.

Photo Dec 21, 3 47 26 PM (Large)

Photo Dec 21, 3 48 37 PM (Large)

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering through Westlake Center, past the Macy’s windows decorated with vast model train landscapes, through alleys lined with little shops, and watching the sun set on Puget Sound.

Photo Dec 21, 4 10 27 PM__ (Large)

Photo Dec 21, 7 15 28 PM (Large)

Shop window

Shop window

Next year's lunch spot!

Next year’s lunch spot!

Today was so much fun we thought we should make this an annual Christmas tradition. I’m all for that – and next time, dear friend, lunch is on me. 🙂

 

 

 

 

So much to explore just outside the front door

P1080219_ (Large)

I didn’t take a vacation this year. I did not visit any exotic places or have bragging rights to a foreign country. I did not have to be concerned about the value of the euro or whether my luggage could survive another trip through baggage claim. And you know what? That’s ok.

P1160654 (Large) P1080013 (Large) IMG_2616 (Large)

I subscribe to quite a few blogs that deal with travel … I admire those that can finagle trips for whatever reason, whether it’s as a student or as a retiree. I still intend to get to Venice and Cinque Terre and Salzburg. In the meantime I have come to realize that where I am at is pretty special; as one friend pointed out, I live in a place that many would fork over their hard-earned dollars for a two-week vacation. Now that I think of it, I did this for years. Why am I not appreciating this?

Photo Oct 11, 11 00 46 AM (Large) Photo Aug 07, 4 52 46 PM (Large) Photo Aug 02, 5 28 26 PM (Large)

Sure, maybe the grass is greener in Rome. Or Sarlat. Or Banff. But hey, maybe the Canadians are thinking that Wolfeboro, New Hampshire is the place to be! I guess my point here – to myself as much as anyone else – is that we all live in an interesting place. Appreciate it, celebrate it, extol its virtues. There’s so much to explore just outside your front door!

P1160765 (Large)

 

 

Giving thanks in unexpected places

Photo Nov 27, 9 32 09 AM (Large)

The calendar may say it’s Black Friday, but here in New Hampshire it’s White Friday. Wednesday night a storm moved up the east coast and dumped a foot of heavy wet snow across the state; as a result, a whole lot of people did not get their Thanksgiving turkey yesterday. 200,000 people were without power, down to about 80,000 today. This type of snow (known in Washington State as “Cascade cement”) can cause a lot of damage, leaving in its wake downed tree branches and power lines; yesterday morning my poor lilac tree looked like an inverted U. And it isn’t even winter yet.

Photo Nov 27, 10 12 23 AM (Large)

Photo Nov 27, 10 12 42 AM (Large)

So this Thanksgiving I thought about some of the little things we take for granted – like electricity, hot showers and shopping on Amazon. Of course I’m thankful for the more obvious things too; but the morning news, that first cup of coffee, and being able to email my mom rank right up there. (Yeah, I would have made a lousy pioneer.)

Photo Nov 28, 3 56 09 PM (Large)

Photo Nov 28, 3 58 11 PM__ (Large)

Photo Nov 28, 4 00 32 PM (Large)

Black Friday has come and gone but it looks like maybe the snow is here to stay. It’s strange how something so beautiful can also be so treacherous. Blame it on technology, or the millennium, or anything you want, but this year I am doubly thankful for my family, my friends, and my internet access. For me, at least, they are all interconnected.

Photo Nov 28, 4 05 11 PM__ (Large)

 

 

November

P1090346 (Large)

November is when things start to wind down here … shorter days, colder nights, fewer leaves. The summer people have gone and everything is stripped-down bare. The stark trees – our beautiful leaves gone now until May – offer wider views but little color; the focus shifts to the wonderful architecture of New England and whatever is left on the ground from autumn.

P1090333

P1090330

These photos were taken in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. If you’ve never been to this small city, add it to your bucket list. This is a treasure trove of history with museums, historic architecture, and maritime lore. Portsmouth is completely walkable; put on your walking shoes and visit Prescott Park and the waterfront – the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is just across the way, where you can sometimes see submarines at the dock (I have a thing for submarines). Strawbery Banke is here too, where 40+ buildings have been assembled to depict life here from 1695 to 1950, complete with interpreters (this is wonderful!). You can climb aboard the USS Albacore, a retired Navy submarine now on dry land that offers tours. Take a harbor tour and learn about nearly 400 years of local history.

P1090345

A little further down the road you can find Fort Constitution, one of seven forts built to protect Portsmouth Harbor; Wentworth-by-the-Sea, one of the grand hotels of New Hampshire built in 1874 and saved from the wrecking ball a few years ago; and many pull-offs on the side of the road that lead to beaches with views of the Isles of Shoals. I bring visitors here for the shopping and the restaurants but the truth is there is so much more and you cannot see everything in one day.

P1090341

P1090340_

So … enjoy the photos and celebrate the simplicity of November. Before the snow flies, the blunt beauty of the season is what sustains us.

P1090360

 

The rail trail

Photo Oct 13, 10 20 47 AM (Large)Determined not to miss autumn this year (it goes by so quickly!) I went for a short drive to look at leaves, staying within fifteen minutes of my house. I was content just to drive until inspiration struck … and I parked in town and went for a walk.

The Bridge Falls Path – the former route of the Wolfeboro Railroad, born at the end of the Civil War – is one of this area’s best-kept secrets. It starts behind the old train depot in town (now the Chamber of Commerce) and travels for about a half mile along Back Bay to Wolfeboro Falls. It is short, scenic, and well-used … a great place to stretch your legs on your lunch hour, or just clear your head. Bicyclists, dog-walkers, photographers, casual visitors like me … they’re all here.

Photo Oct 13, 10 21 14 AM (Large)

Vacationers have been escaping to Wolfeboro since passenger rail service began in 1872. By the early 1900s, seven train stations dotted the 12-mile corridor east to Sanbornville.

The path connects with the Cotton Valley Trail, which continues to follow the abandoned railbed of the Wolfeboro Railroad. This trail travels across three lakes via causeways, several trestles, and winds through the woods and fields of the Cotton Valley – past historic rail stations and beach access. Here the rails are still in place; the trail itself is alongside the tracks and at times even runs between the rails.

Photo Oct 13, 10 23 19 AM (Large)

Walking this trail on an autumn day is nothing less than stunning … I came mainly to cross the 1200-foot-long Crescent Lake causeway. With water on both sides and clear blue sky above – to say nothing of the gorgeous fall foliage – it was begging to be photographed.

Photo Oct 13, 10 24 59 AM (Large)

Here and there I found access down to the water … little more than a steep path, but rewarding for the more intimate views. In fact, one spot seemed so perfect I made a note to come back next July – secluded and cool, it was the perfect getaway from summer heat and humidity! Although I’m guessing I am not the first one to think of this …

Photo Oct 13, 10 39 25 AM (Large)

The Cotton Valley Trail continues past an old resort and on through the woods; it ends in Sanbornville, once the headquarters of B&M Northern Division that ran between 1870 and 1986. Though I didn’t go nearly this far, it would be a wonderful place to explore.

Photo Oct 13, 10 41 35 AM (Large)

If you come to Wolfeboro, by all means see Lake Winnipesaukee. But if you’re looking for another jewel in the crown that tops the Lakes Region, consider the Bridge Falls Path/Cotton Valley Trail. Here history, scenery and a little sense of exploration all come together to make an afternoon walk something pretty special.

Photo Oct 13, 10 38 11 AM (Large)

 

 

The last big weekend

Photo Oct 11, 2 57 53 PM (Large)

If you aren’t from around here you might wonder what the big deal is. Columbus Day? What’s that? Why all the fairs, festivals, and events and why is this such an anticipated three-day weekend? Why is this the third busiest travel weekend of the year in New Hampshire, and why are we expecting 645,000 people to boost the state coffers by millions?

Leaves. Lots of colored leaves.

Photo Oct 11, 3 37 16 PM (Large)

Photo Oct 11, 10 56 12 AM (Large)

The traffic report Friday night was dismal – it was a slow crawl up from Massachusetts. It’s the last long weekend to enjoy the lake, or the camp, or the seacoast before winter; people are closing up their summer places and saying goodbye until spring. As if to render a proper sendoff, Mother Nature has cranked up the volume and supplied us with a long string of gorgeous autumn days that include chilly mornings, sunny afternoons, and a profusion of colorful trees.

Photo Oct 11, 4 00 20 PM (Large)

Photo Oct 11, 2 02 56 PM (Large)

Photo Oct 11, 1 44 15 PM (Large)

IMG_2614 (Large)Another leaf-peeping trip seemed like the thing to do today … foliage color is at its peak and it does not last long. Purposely avoiding the crowds, we set out for the dirt roads in the North Sandwich area – places that no fall foliage tour bus has ever been. Definitely off the beaten path, we took a little trip back in time … a valley floor lined with farmhouses – some dating back to the 1700s, over a covered bridge, through tunnels of brightly colored maples, and high up along ridges that offered wonderful views.

IMG_2591 (Large)

IMG_2593 (Large)We found old cemeteries, a Quaker meetinghouse that is on the National Register, beautifully proportioned antique Capes, old farmhouses and barns, and we had lunch at the North Sandwich General Store. It’s a combination general store/antique shop/post office, with tables in the back to sit and chat with a cup of coffee amid the vintage snowshoes and canned tomatoes. It was perfect.

Photo Oct 11, 11 26 23 AM (Large)

Photo Oct 11, 1 11 46 PM (Large)Photo Oct 11, 2 37 16 PM (Large)IMG_2575 (Large)We ended up in the pretty little town of Tamworth, which I haven’t explored much (but I should). There were great views of the church as we came down the hill into town. The strangest find of the day was an obelisk set on top of a huge boulder next to the road, a set of stone steps leading to the top. Known as Ordination Rock, it was where Samuel Hidden was ordained as Tamworth’s first minister in 1792 (I read on the obelisk). He must have been successful, as the monument was also inscribed, “He came into the Wilderness and left it a Fruitful field.”

Only in New England.

Photo Oct 11, 3 08 01 PM (Large)

Photo Oct 11, 3 45 24 PM (Large)Happy Columbus Day – named after an explorer, it seemed only fitting to do a little exploring ourselves. Although many others may be doing the same this weekend in New Hampshire, around the Sandwich Fair or along the Kanc, I’m guessing we’re the only ones who visited tiny Weed’s Mills Cemetery. In backroading terms, this was a very good day.

IMG_2605 (Large)