Cherry Trees Announcing Spring

A gift from Japan—
cherry trees announcing spring
blooms pink in D.C.      ~ msCherry-Trees
Cherry-blossoms_2
In 1912, the cherry trees that are now growing around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., were given to the United States as a gift of friendship  from Japan.   As time went by, the beauty of these trees in the spring began to attract visitors  from all around the world.Cherry-Blossom-WalkI took these photos on a rather chilly Sunday morning (April 6), and I wasn’t surprised to find that the trees were not in full blossom yet.  Although the Cherry Blossom Festival is being held from March 29 through April 12 this year, the trees are blooming later because of the cold, harsh winter that extended into late March.

As I walked along, I heard some people say how happy they were because it was not as crowded due to the cooler weather. It was easy to find an open bench! What a joy to be able to relax, look out over the water, and listen to the gentle breeze blowing through the trees.
Cherry-blossoms_6
The truth is, even though the trees were not in full bloom, there were actually quite a few cherry blossoms to see—it just took a little time to find them.
Cherry-blossom_7
Cherry-blossoms_1
Cherry-blossoms_5
Cherry-blossoms_9
Cherry-blossoms_3

Posted in Haiku, Japan, Nature, Photo Essay, photography | Tagged , , , , | 25 Comments

Lost Without Language

I went to Tijuana, Mexico a few times when I lived in California. Reading signs and communicating with other people was not a problem for me there, because I had a good understanding of the Spanish language.

It was quite a different experience for me in Japan a few weeks ago. I couldn’t read the Japanese characters, I didn’t understand what others around me were saying, and I couldn’t communicate with anyone (unless they spoke English). When people had conversations in Japanese, all that I heard were melodic sounds with no specific meaning. Linguistically challenged, I felt lost without language!
Statue-of-Travelers2
Needless to say, that is why I smiled when I saw this statue of two travelers. I immediately felt an affinity for the little one on the left. Walking with eyes filled with wonder and amazement, mouth open and about to accidentally bump into a tree—this stone image personified my state of mind perfectly. So many wonderful things to see and impossible to take it all in!

Notice that there are words written on a wooden sign hanging next to the statue above. It could be an explanation of the two images or a road sign. I know I was in Kyoto, but I don’t remember the name of the bridge or the river in the background. (I’d be a terrible tour guide, I know).

Anyway, I soon realized that there is another aspect of daily life where language is extremely important: FOOD.  At the marketplace in Kyoto, there were many vegetables, fruits, fish, and desserts that I did not recognize. Unable to read things like names, labels, or expiration dates—how would I know what to buy, or how to cook or keep the food stored?  My Japanese friends can speak English, but I didn’t want to be like a preschooler driving them crazy with CONSTANT questions. As soon as they could have answered one question, I would have had a gazillion more!

So, instead of buying anything, I decided to take photos of all that I had never seen before (which was clearly marked with large signs that I couldn’t read). The vegetables, whatever they were, looked so fresh and healthy!
Vegetables
In addition to fresh vegetables, there was colorful food wrapped in tight packages that seemed to be attracting a lot of attention. Must be good!  People were smiling, talking, and joyfully buying all kinds of edible delights, as I watched with great interest.
Japanese-Food-Market
Japan-wrapped-food
Japan-Food_1
In case you haven’t noticed by the tone of my writing, I was quite frustrated with my inability to comprehend the Japanese language. So, it was comforting to occasionally look up and see a store name written in English!
Tofu-Doughnuts
Yes! I was always happy to see something that I was capable of reading, but “Tofu Doughnuts” is a rather disconcerting thought. American doughnuts are deep-fat fried balls of flour dough and tofu is known as a health food, so trying to combine the two words in my mind was difficult. A healthy doughnut? I didn’t buy one that day, but now I wish that I had. I don’t know exactly how a tofu doughnut is made or what is in it, but it would have been interesting to see how it tasted.

By the end of my short stay in Japan, I had come to the conclusion that language is more important than any other academic field of study. The inability to read and/or communicate adequately with others is a huge barrier to any other endeavor.

Truthfully, I have been thinking about the Rosetta Stone language CD courses for quite a while. Has anyone ever studied a language using Rosetta Stone?

 

 

Posted in food, Photo Essay, photography, Travel | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

Monk with Begging Bowl

Monk-with-Begging-Bowl
Zen Buddhism
Begging bowl in hand,
practicing non-attachment—
the humble monk stands.     ~ms

Posted in Buddhism, Haiku, Philosophy, photography | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Carp and Stone

Rock-CarpThe Carp Stone (rigyoseki) at Kinkaku-ji appears to be swimming upstream against a pounding waterfall. I am told that this stone image symbolizes strength, courage, and the will to persevere even when struggling against adverse conditions.

Creating circular ripples in the pond surrounding the Golden Pavilion Temple,  I also saw a colorful carp (Nishikigoi) raise its head out of the water. Emulating the power of the stone, it stopped for only a few seconds and then continued on its way.
CARP
Golden-Pavilion-Temple
So it is with life—
time stops for no one
in this in-between world.
Keep your head up, breathe deeply
and travel on!     ~ms
In-between
Colorful-Carp

Posted in LIfe, Nature, Philosophy, photography | Tagged , , , , | 33 Comments

Tired of Winter

Roads quickly vanished
and all cars went nowhere
on this stormy day.
snowed-in
Searching for solace
underneath an umbrella,
four chairs leaned forward
trying to escape blowing
snow and freezing ice—
Tired of winter!
Cold-Chairs
We were scheduled to fly out of the Richmond, Virginia airport on February 13—on our way to Texas.  But alas!  The Atlanta, Georgia airport had already shut down due to a bad winter storm that was blowing in from the south.  Many people had their flights canceled, including us. We rescheduled our flight for the next day and stayed an extra night at the hotel. Some travelers were upset because their plans had been disrupted. However, I would rather have my flight canceled than fly out into a sky that looks like this!
Snowy-Sky

Snowy-Hotel
This week I am supposed to fly to Japan and I have never been there before. In fact, this will be the first time that I have ever gone outside of the U.S.   Luckily, the weather here has been great for the past few days (in comparison to what it looked like a week and a half ago). It almost went up to 70 degrees today! Hopefully, by the end of February, winter will finally begin to melt into spring.

Posted in Nature, Photo Essay, photography, Poetry, Snow, Spring | 45 Comments

Cold Cat Winter

6, 8, 10 degrees (Fahrenheit) at night,
with freezing snow and ice—
how will I survive?
I gave away my blankets,
my pillows and my bed,
when blue eyes came begging
without a word and said:
It’s a cold cat winter!
Cat-on-a-blanket
It is impossible to ignore our male cat when he wants something, because Keona knows how to use the cat equivalent of the Star Trek “Vulcan Mind Meld.”  Yesterday, sitting on my bed and staring straight into my soul, his unwavering eyes silently chanted that irresistible mantra: “My mind to your mind; your thoughts to my thoughts….”

Practically hypnotized by the intensity of his eyes, I had no choice but to acquiesce. I immediately gave him everything that he wanted for himself and his best friend.Cats-in-bed

Sleeping-Cats
Truthfully—there is always enough room on the bed and enough blankets left for me. And, in such bone chilling weather, it’s rather nice being surrounded by fur that purrs.

Since I cannot fall to sleep as quickly and easily as the cats, I decided to watch them for a little while last night. It appears that their secret to falling into a deep and restful sleep, is to do a little calming meditation first. Aha!  Ohmmm……Brrrrr…….Aummm. Winter-Cat-meditation

Cat-Nap

Posted in Animals, cats, Photo Essay, photography | Tagged , , , , | 46 Comments

Life is a Dramatic Opera

It would be nice if life could always be comfortable and predictable—without arguments, misunderstandings, trials, or tribulations.
But it’s not.
Life is like a dramatic opera, filled with ups and downs, and love which sometimes goes awry. There are times when I would prefer to simply stay in bed, underneath warm blankets with a pillow over my head.
But no—life always requires me to get up once more.
Scene change!  Think fast!
Mary_Opera-Otello
When I was in the Hawaii Opera Theatre (HOT) production of the opera “Otello” in 1990, I found this story of jealousy and suspicious love both familiar and unnerving. Fiction closely mirrors fact. In Act IV, Otello strangles/smothers his wife because he firmly believes that she loves someone else. Unfortunately, right after he kills her, he finds out that he is totally wrong. She had never been unfaithful to him. In a vain attempt to rectify the situation, he stabs himself and then gives his wife one last kiss before he dies. Of course, she doesn’t notice his last kiss because she is already dead.

The story is not too far-fetched.

I was in a shelter for abused women during this same time period, and all of the women there were telling similar tales about insecure, jealous husbands who were verbally and/or physically abusive.
—Where have you been, ***? Who did you see this time? It doesn’t take that long to go grocery shopping.
—You’re just like the rest of them. Women are only good for one thing.
—You say there is no one else, but you are lying. You always lie, ***.
­— If it wasn’t for me, you would be nothing. No one wants you. People are laughing behind your back.
—You’re a joke, ***. You don’t deserve to live.

***In the sentences above, I deliberately left out the derogatory 4 letter words. Use your imagination and you will probably be correct.

When two people “love” each other, it makes no sense to destroy that love with constant accusations, physical threats, and abusive language.  Watching this type of abusive scenario in an opera is educational, but it is hell on earth when played out in an actual relationship.

For me, the moral of the story is this: If you want to have a relatively happy life, do your best to avoid getting too involved with insecure, controlling people!

A month after Otello, I was in the HOT production of the opera “The Bartered Bride.”
Mary_Bartered-Bride
Although the Bartered Bride also has some negative twists and turns, it does resolve into a sweet ending. I enjoyed this opera immensely. With dancing, singing, and a happily ever after at the end, it was just what I needed. I loved it.

I have heard some people say that opera singing is “controlled screaming.” I don’t know if that is the best description, but singing with full diaphragmatic power does release a tremendous amount of emotional energy. I can honestly say that, during the stressful time that I was homeless in Hawaii, singing opera helped save my life.  The vibration raised my soul up every time.

Over the years, I have never forgotten my wonderful ʻohana at the Hawaii Opera Theatre.  Thanks for being there for me. Mahalo and aloha nui loa!

Posted in Art, Photo Essay, photography | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

South Vietnam House—Phở Gà

When  the cold winds of  January blew in,
I caught a nasty cold or maybe it was flu?
My head hurt, my throat was sore, and I could not stop coughing.
I even lost my voice!
Couldn’t think, couldn’t write—I felt like I was dying.
And then, I remembered the curative power of Phở Gà
(Vietnamese chicken noodle soup).
Bowl-of-Pho-Ga
Just a few miles from my house there is a wonderful restaurant called South Vietnam House. In the past few years, I have seen many people order Phở Gà to take  home to an ailing family member—knowing that this tasty chicken noodle soup has the power to make colds shiver and retreat.
Pho-Ga
So, this time—
It was I who sent my kind husband out on a mission to bring home a bowl of healing Phở Gà.  And now, thank goodness, I am feeling much better!

Posted in food, Nutrition, photography | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

Thoughts on Time

I thought about the new year
while sitting in a tree.
I did the same thing last year,
time matters not to me.ThinkingTell me, honestly—
Did you see the day pass by
the last second in-between,
when time inside someone’s eyes
became 2014?
New-Years-Lemur
Covered in dust, I’m drifting
into tomorrow’s dream
as thought continues shifting
shapes into the things I see…..Elephant-blowing-smoke

2014-elephant-walk
While time’s illusion wanders on
more or less unseen,
I appreciate you walking
through reflective words with me.
The-Wanderer

Ribbons-and-Bows

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Happy New Year!
Wishing you warm blessings
today, tomorrow, and through
all the moments of your life.   ~ms
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Posted in Animals, Nature, Philosophy, photography, Poetry, wildlife | Tagged , , , | 40 Comments

Super Hero Reindeer Man

To my great surprise,
he suddenly appeared
right before my eyes—
Super Hero Reindeer Man
with his Santa smile.
Super-Hero-Reindeer-Man
What was I supposed to do?
Wearing deer antlers
and a star upon his head,
his mischievous eyes
twinkled through goggles red
and made me to smile too!     ~ms

Posted in Photo Essay, photography, Poetry | Tagged , , | 36 Comments

Deer with Hungry Eyes

Ice and snow falling,
covering the cold hard ground.
Deer with hungry eyes
come close to my house searching
for something to eat.
Deer-Cold
Many of these deer
will not make it through winter.
It is sad to see
there are no acorns this year.
In desperation,
deer are eating plants and trees
that they usually do not.
Deer-eating-tree

Mom-and-baby
And I watched as the little one
turned its head up towards mother
as if to ask–
“Momma…are we going to be OK?”
looking-up
Because we live in the Civil War Chancellorsville battlefield area, a lot of deer pass through our yard every day. It is easy to see that their fear of hunger is now much greater than their fear of humans. Acorns are about 75 percent of the white-tailed deer’s winter diet, and no acorns fell from the oak trees here this year. I know that there is no way that all of these deer are going to find enough food to survive.  Nature is beautiful, but sometimes it is so harsh!    ~ms
baby-face

Posted in Animals, Nature, Photo Essay, photography, Poetry, wildlife | Tagged , , , , | 42 Comments

Worried Birds and Winter Weather

Worried-Blue-Jay
A worried blue jay
came to see me yesterday
and loudly proclaimed:
“I am here to issue
a winter weather warning,
so please listen carefully
to everything I say.
Don’t be fooled by this warm sun,
for tomorrow all will change—
snow and ice are on their way.”
Cardinal-speaking
“It’s true what he is saying,”
a nearby cardinal said.
“Birds know when cold is coming
and we are filled with dread.
Birds
So can you give us
more sunflower seeds
and maybe some day-old bread?
You see, we are sad.
That thoughtless sparrow
with the striped head
ate the last good food we had!”
Sparrow
Oh! Guilty sparrow
caught with a tasty mouthful,
unable to speak!     ~ ms

Posted in Animals, birds, Nature, photography, Poetry, wildlife, Winter | Tagged , , , | 28 Comments

Thankful for Life

Traditional-Thanksgiving
Standing here thinking
how lucky I am
to be alive at this time,
enjoying a cold
autumn afternoon!
Inquisitive-bird

Feather-and-Food
Don’t need many things
or stuff all around me—
No matter what possessions
I have or don’t have,
I’m thankful for life
and the life that surrounds me.
handmade-dolls

Simple-Things

squirrel_2
Sending out best wishes
to all who pass by….
with special thanks to
those who have bravely
followed my wandering path
built on strings of words.       ~ms
Thanksgiving-Blessings

Posted in Nature, photography, Poetry, wildlife | Tagged , , , , , | 44 Comments

Glass Door Relationships

Searching for acorns,
a squirrel suddenly saw
the man of her dreams sitting
behind a glass door.
She stopped what she was doing
and ran with great excitement
to take a closer look.
Squirrel-loves-cats
She tenderly touched
his soft dark brown and beige fur
within her squirrely thoughts,
for her little arms
could not reach beyond
that miserable glass door!  Squirrel-and-Cats
For the longest time—
she gazed into his eyes
blue as ocean water,
while her heart melted into
quivering delight.
He was the biggest squirrel
that she had ever seen!
His size was so impressive,
she did not notice
the jealous girlfriend sitting
tensely by his side,
waiting for the perfect chance
to pounce on the intruder
outside the glass door.
~~~~~
Sometimes it is better when
dreams remain dreams,
and glass door relationships
stay beyond a wanting grasp.
Because, it’s clear to see,
the squirrel of her dreams
was in fact—a cat.
And what a foolish nightmare
that would have been!    ~ms
autumn-grass

Posted in cats, Humor, photography, Poetry, wildlife | Tagged , , | 41 Comments

Incredible Edible Art

In the summer of 2011, when I first ordered sushi and sashimi at the Umi restaurant, I couldn’t believe my eyes—incredible edible art! I knew I was still home in Virginia, but I felt like I had suddenly returned to the Hawaiian Islands. Was I dreaming?  All of the food was created with such care and presented so beautifully, I just wanted to sit there and look at it. How could I justify eating fine art?
Shriimp-Sushi-and-Sashimi
Even though I had never taken photos of food before, I decided to solve my culinary dilemma by pulling out my camera before my husband Tom or I took a bite.
Scallop
It’s been 2 years since our first visit to Umi, and we have come back almost every week since then. Each time, the food and the service has been consistently great, so I continue to say, “Wait a minute—don’t touch anything! Let me get my camera.”
Jasper-Tuna-Sashimi

Umi_Romantic
Regardless of how hungry we are, it has now become mandatory to take a photo first (Luckily, Tom is a very patient man). The food is simply too beautiful. On my December birthday last year, even though it was cold outside, I was served the freshest flowers made of fish. It was wonderful.
Birthday-Flower-Sushi
On another occasion, I had the chance to taste an avocado octopus. Actually, that’s not what it was literally—that’s just what I decided to name it. The octopus was reaching out towards me with its seven legs (must have lost one in a sea battle), begging to be eaten.
Avocado-Sea-Fish
I was especially fascinated by the next dish below, because it reminds me of the movie “Life of Pi.” In the back, on the right, I see 3 little boats heading towards an island topped with parsley trees. On the left, I see three animals—the octopus in the back, the tiger in the middle, and the hyena in the front. Where is Pi? My guess is that he is probably hiding under one of the jalapeño peppers. After I told this story to Tom, he said— “That’s nice. Now can we eat it? ”   (Doesn’t he know? Good things come to those who wait!)
Life-of-Pi
Everyone who works at Umi seems to enjoy being there. This makes the entire dining experience even more enjoyable. I think people come for both the great food and for the great company. It’s always nice to be greeted with a warm smile.
Sony_Sushi
Sony Gao (co-owner) moved from China to Japan when he was only 14 years old.
At that point, he began to learn how to make sushi and sashimi by working side-by-side with an experienced master sushi chef in Tokyo. It is quite obvious that Sony was an excellent student. His attention to even the smallest artistic detail is quite amazing.
Attention-to-detail
Notice how he even turned the Aji Mackerel tail and a cherry stem in the same direction.
Aji-Mackerel

Tears-of-an-Angel

Food-on-Fire
The food at Umi is figuratively, and sometimes literally, on fire. Together, even in these difficult economic times, Jonathan Chen (co-owner) and Sony have managed to make Umi Japanese Fine Dining one of the most popular and successful restaurants in Fredericksburg, Virginia. In fact, it is so popular that they recently purchased a second location in North Stafford.
Jonathan

Fish-boat
Jasper Lin, Sony’s protegé, is also an extremely talented sushi chef. Always full of energy and spirit, people love talking to Jasper and watching him make interesting new dishes (he usually explains what he is doing to the people sitting at the sushi bar). Below are just a few examples of his artistic creations:
Jasper-boat

Sushi-spoons

Umi-Art_5

Jasper-tuna

Umi-White-Tuna

Jasper-Baby-Octopus

Umi-Fish
Paul, the newest sushi chef, does a great job helping the others keep up with the ever-growing demand for more sushi!
Paul-at-Umi
The wonderful ladies of Umi—Grace, Rachel, Melody, and Lynn—keep the restaurant running smoothly, and always take the time to assure that everyone feels welcomed and at home. Ladies-of-UMI

Lynn-at-Umi

BeautifulI have taken so many photos in the past 2 years, I could probably put together an entire picture book about Umi. Every time I walk inside, I find an incredible island of fresh fish and healthy food. If you ever pass through this area, make sure to stop by and check it out (evenings, on the weekends, make a reservation. It gets extremely busy). I’ll tell the shrimp to keep an eye out for you!
Shrimp-heads***If you live too far away to visit, just look at the photos and imagine the taste—that works too!  ~ms
Mochi

Posted in food, Nutrition, Photo Essay, photography | Tagged , , | 64 Comments

Bluebird House with Chandelier

Each spring, bluebirds move into the narrow newspaper holder beneath our mailbox.
Even though we don’t get the newspaper, it isn’t the safest place for them to live.
Without looking, people drive by and shove advertisements over their nest and cover it up. So every day, out of concern, we check to make sure the birds can still get in and out.
Luxury-Blue-Bird-house
This spring, I decided to buy a real bluebird house and hang it on a nearby tree. I thought they would prefer to move into something a little safer, made just for them. But no! Once again, the bluebirds chose to build their nest inside the newspaper holder—complete with a designer paper wasp chandelier.

Oh well. At least the standard bird house that I bought didn’t go to waste. A huge spider eventually came wandering by and decided it was the perfect place to live. Not exactly what I had envisioned, but I’m glad that the spider appreciates the shelter. Now tilted and decorated with webs filled with fallen autumn leaves, the spider’s house looks eerily haunted.  Happy Halloween!
Spider-bird-house

spider-web

Posted in birds, Halloween, Nature, Photo Essay, photography, wildlife | Tagged , , | 51 Comments

Byodo-In Temple — Sacred Space

The Byodo-in temple on the island of Oahu is a beautiful replica of the original Byodo-in built in 998 AD, in the city of Uji, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan. A reflection of paradise on earth, the temple rests peacefully beneath the strength of the Hawaiian Ko’olau mountain range.
Byodo-In-Temple

Temple_2
In this sacred space
solid objects melt
into ripples of pond water,
revealing the face
of materiality
laughing at itself.
Temple

Pond-and-Trees
Within the temple
sitting quietly above
the chaos of the world,
Sitting-Buddha
a statue of Buddha
shows impermanence
destroying
the glory of his image,
proving
that we are more than
this or that thing.
buddha-face
Things come and go,
forms change
but thought lives on.         ~ms
Bird-and-Pond

Fish-Meeting

Posted in Buddhism, Photo Essay, photography, Poetry, Travel | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments

Darkness on Summer’s Edge

Shorter are the days
on summer’s edge,
darkness comes early.
Dark-Flower
Night shadows reveal
natural beauty
destined to fade away.
Dark-Flowers
What is and what was
will soon be no more.
Summer's-ending

Dying-Flowers
So please!
When I wither
and vanish from sight—
promise to remember
me, the living one,
who touched your soul
one night in darkness
standing on summer’s edge.    ~ms
Flowers-in-the-Dark

Posted in Nature, Philosophy, Photo Essay, photography, Poetry, Summer | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Sitting on Cat Chairs

Sitting on cat chairs
’cause they all belong to me.
You could have claimed one
but it’s too late now, you see.
Sitting-on-Cat-Chairs
After warming this blueness,
don’t ask me to go.
With my own claws and cat hair,
I shaped it just so!     ~ms
====================
In truth, Siri (who I fondly call “Seaweed”)  is the sweetest and most trusting cat that we have ever had.  We adopted her from the Siamese Cat Rescue Center a year and a half ago.  She was found taped up in a box with several other kittens, with only 5 small holes punched in the top for air. She could have died in there. If a human had been that cruel to me, I would never have trusted another person again. But Siri has totally forgiven the world for any  unkindness that she endured. It is the middle of the night and she is lying right here—watching out for me.
Blue-Point-Siamese

Posted in cats, Haiku, Pets, Photo Essay, photography | Tagged , , , | 40 Comments

Looking Down on Heaven

Oahu-goodbye
Looking down on heaven
fading beneath me
underneath soft white clouds
my spirit remains.
Heaven
Many years ago, when I first stepped out into the Honolulu airport and the warm trade winds touched my face, I felt like I had come home (even though I had never been to the Hawaiian islands before). There is something spiritual in the air that I cannot explain, and it wrapped itself around me in a warm embrace. Nowhere else in the world has ever made me feel this way.
Hanauma-Bay

I was lucky enough to live in Hawaii, on the island of Oahu, for a total of 11 years. It was my hope that one day I could come back to stay, but the best I have been able to do is return for a visit from time to time. Due to the prices of the houses, it looks like it will be impossible to retire there.
Oahu
So, I gaze through a window
as I fly away once more
riding on trade winds,
looking down on heaven
fading beneath me
underneath soft white clouds.
Hawaii-love
My spirit remains
still with a hopeful prayer
that I will return
one day to stay forever.     ~ms
Wishing

Hawaii_Mary

Posted in Oahu, Photo Essay, photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , | 48 Comments

Literary Thief

Flowerlight
Someone took 5 of my posts last night, with all of the photos–and put them on something called “Scoop it.”  These same posts were also reblogged on this person’s WordPress site improperly. Photos were moved around or deleted, and my initials were even removed from the end of my poem “Flowers Blooming Bright” (which was cut and pasted together without the photos between the verses).

Instead of removing my content  off of her site when I voiced my concern—she sent me the following rude message (complete with the intermittent all Caps):

“WHEN you publish to a PUBLIC DOMAIN it means that ANYONE can re-publish your artistry. Many are encouraged to do so. You do not have a DO NOT PUBLISH notice anywhere.”

So I have switched my blog from public to private—and have begun to add a clear copyright notice to every post, because apparently it is necessary.

All of the words and the photos on my website are my own.
I have never taken anything from anyone else.  I honor and respect the work of  other people. But it seems that there are people who open websites for no other reason than to take other people’s work. I do not appreciate having my work rearranged or modified–even if there is a tiny note at the end saying it was taken from “Stories with No Books.” As a result, my website will be private until I can figure out what I need to do.
Before I go—I would like to thank all of the good, honest people out there on WordPress for the follows and likes on my blog. Thank you.
~ ms

Posted in Nature, Photo Essay, photography, Poetry, Writing | 63 Comments

Wordless Language

Listen!
Beneath the setting sun
by the water’s edge,
trees are telling stories
in the fading light.  Trees-talk
Creaking and cracking
bending in the wind,
talking to each other
in windswept sighs—
their wordless language
still unknown to man.      ~ms   Trees-on-the-beach

Driftwood-Yoga

Posted in Nature, Photo Essay, photography, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 30 Comments

Thinking about Being

While I was thinking about being
and wondering why I’m here,
time appeared before my eyes
and melted into years.
Lemur-Thinking
Yesterday, I was so young
and now somehow I’m old?
I used to do a lot
but now….I don’t do much at all.
Like this hapless elephant,
seems I’ve walked into a wall!
Elephant-and-Rock
Every day I am so tired
where did my energy go?
When I started slowing down,
I honestly don’t know.
Tired-Meerkat
I have to pick myself up
and find something to do.
Perhaps I’d feel much better
with a new upbeat hairdo.
Bird-with-hair-style

Then again— maybe not!      ~ms

Giraffe_Face

*** These photos were taken while I was visiting the Honolulu Zoo***

Posted in Animals, birds, Humor, Nature, Photo Essay, photography, Poetry, wildlife | Tagged | 75 Comments

The Hawk Stands with No Fear

I looked out of my kitchen window this morning and saw a hawk standing on my porch railing, staring intently at something in the grass. What a wonderful surprise!  I was afraid that I would scare it away if I dared to step outside, so I decided to take a photo through the back door window.
Hawk_Searching
The hawk had its back turned towards me, so I thought it did not notice that I was standing there. But even though I had approached as quietly as I could, my presence was already known. As I was about to take another photo, the hawk turned its head all the way around (without moving its body) and looked straight through my eyes and into my soul.Hawk-Wisdom
The hawk’s eyes were intense, but somehow beautifully soft and gentle. We stood there looking at each other for a few minutes, neither one of us moving. Not a sound was made, but again and again, I heard the same thought traveling through the air.
No fear !
Assess the situation,
know who you are and
do what you are meant to do.
No fear!
After a while, it looked down and away from me, as if trying to remember something…..
Hawk-Thinking
I guess nothing else came to mind, because a few seconds later, it looked up towards the sky and opened its mouth wide as if it was yawning. The hawk then turned its head to the left and gazed off into the distance, giving me the time and opportunity to take a profile shot.
Hawk-Profile
Shortly after I took this last photo, without warning, it spread its wings and flew away, up into the nearby oak trees. When  I opened the back door and walked out onto the porch, I could hear the hawk’s voice calling from above.

Posted in birds, Nature, Photo Essay, photography, wildlife | Tagged | 107 Comments

Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal

Hawaiian-Monk-Seal
A long time ago, the Hawaiians named this species of seal “llio holo I ka uaua” (dog that runs in rough water). Now the Hawaiian monk seal has become one of the most endangered species in the world, with only about 1,100 remaining.

When this particular seal came in to sleep on a sandy beach in Kauai—the Hawaiian Monk Seal Response Team was immediately alerted. A volunteer arrived quickly and placed a rope barrier around the area to assure that the seal would not be disturbed while resting. Viewing of the seal was allowed from a safe distance, and close-up photos were easily taken with a zoom lens.Caution-Endangered-Seal
The volunteer kindly stayed to watch over the sleeping seal. She talked to people who were passing by, and told them about the history and current status of the Hawaiian monk seal. She made it very clear that the continued survival of the seal is largely dependent upon human compassion and understanding.
Seal-Protection
Many people who have not seen a sleeping monk seal before, think that the seal is stranded on the beach and needs help. This is not the case. It should be left alone. Coming too close to a seal while it is trying to rest could cause it to go back into the water prematurely. And, without adequate sleep, a tired seal might not have enough strength to deal with life in the rough ocean waters.
Sleeping-Monk-Seal
The volunteers who watch over the sleeping seals are definitely angels. They freely give their time to assure that these endangered creatures are protected and not forever lost. Hopefully, through their efforts and the efforts of other concerned individuals and groups, the number of Hawaiian monk seals will soon begin to increase.

Posted in Animals, Kauai, Photo Essay, photography, Travel, wildlife | Tagged , , , , , | 46 Comments