Tag Archives: photography

Monday Musings: How I’m Coping

I’ve written about politics and social issues a lot in recent weeks, and I want desperately to avoid doing so again this week. It’s not that I don’t have more to say. I do. But I feel as though I’d be going over familiar ground, raising the same objections to this Administration, calling attention to new outrages and failings that are simply echoes of the older ones I’ve already criticized. I am weary of outrage, sick to death of this campaign, ready to reclaim the emotional energy and brain space I’ve ceded to it for so many months.

There is more to life than this. I know there is, and recently, as I have pulled back from political websites and social media, I have been taking pleasure in the small things that I enjoy most. Here’s how I’m coping:

Music: Making music and listening to it. The former has been particularly rewarding because for a time earlier this year, a shoulder issue — terribly painful, basically untreatable except for physical therapy, but not truly serious — kept me from being able to play my guitars. I am happy to report that my shoulder, while not 100%, is much better. I’m playing again, learning new songs, building up strength in my arm and hand. Again, I’m not all the way there, but I’m playing again, and that gives me such pleasure.

I’m also listening a lot, mostly to old rock, even when I’m working. In the past, some of you know, I have strictly limited my work-time listening to instrumental music — jazz and bluegrass mostly. But somehow, right now, with all that’s going on in my head, I am able to work and listen to rock at the same time. I honestly don’t know why, but I’m not complaining.

Work: I’m getting work done on several projects, which is gratifying. I have been working on a pair of trunk novels, one that needed editing, and its sequel, which needed editing and an ending. I’m making good progress on those, but I am not pushing myself too hard, and that seems to be a good thing. I’m the first to admit that I am not at my best right now. So rather than beat myself up for not being efficient, I am accepting the limitations imposed by my current emotional state. I work when I can, and when the work doesn’t flow, I take care of other things, be they work-related or house-related or whatever.

I also have a novel that my agent and I are trying to sell and a set of Thieftaker novellas that are in production. And I have other projects at various stages of completion and readiness. On the one hand, I’m impatient for forward motion on all of them. At the same time, I understand that I can only do so much, and that the publishing world is moving even more slowly than usual. I am doing my best to be patient, something that doesn’t come naturally to me.

Getting outside: Fall has been brilliant this year here on the Cumberland Plateau. Shimmering, clear days, cool nights, stunning mornings. I have been birdwatching, savoring my morning walks, taking extra hikes later in the day, taking photos, and generally forcing myself to get away from my computer. Idle moments at my desk lead me to bad habits — social media, political sites, etc. In short, all the stuff I’m trying to avoid. To the extent possible, when the siren call of the web grows too strong, I escape it by going outside and doing something else.

Comfort food for the brain: Throughout the pandemic, I have found it hard to read. Except for political journalism, which, of course, I want no part of right now. The exception is old favorite novels by authors I love. So I’ve been re-reading the works of Guy Gavriel Kay, and have it in mind to read some other old works after that. They are comforting and comfortable, which I really need right now.

Along the same lines, I have been enjoying the television shows of Aaron Sorkin. Most of you probably know about The West Wing and The Newsroom, and I’ve been watching plenty of West Wing, happily retreating to a world in which Jed Bartlet is President. I have also been watching Sports Night, a short-lived half-hour comedy/drama that aired for two years before being cancelled. It was a terrific show about a sports show along the lines of ESPN’s Sportscenter. It was funny and poignant and smart, like all of Sorkin’s work. The network never knew what to do with the show. They tried a laugh track with it for a while, but that didn’t work. And by the time they figured out that they just needed to leave it alone, the show had been mired in a ratings slump for too long to be saved. If you can find the disks, I recommend it highly, particularly season 1.

Nancy: The one constant for me during this pandemic is that Nancy and I have enjoyed our time together. We have been cooking a lot, taking walks together, sipping whisky on the front porch as the sun goes down, and generally counting ourselves so very fortunate to have each other. There’s really not much more to say about this, but as I struggle to maintain my emotional health, I have to acknowledged that I would have broken a long time ago if not for her.

I know how lucky I am — lucky to play guitar, to have music at my disposal, to have a job I love, to have books to read and old DVDs to watch, to live in a place that is beautiful and that offers easy access to wilderness, to have a happy marriage. Please believe that I take none of this for granted. That wasn’t always the case, but this year has shown me the folly of doing so. I won’t fall prey to that particular mistake again.

I wish you health — emotional and physical — and I hope you have a wonderful week. See you Wednesday.

Photo Friday: Photos and Friendship

Earlier this week, after working for much of the day, I went for a short hike with a dear friend of mine, a fellow photographer. It was late afternoon on a cool, crisp, exquisite day, and we went down off the bluff to a stream and small waterfall we’ve visited together several times before. The trees were starting to show some color, as were the downed leaves in the stream bed. We masked, of course, and we maintained proper social distance.

But after so long without seeing other people, it was a special treat to get out with my camera AND to do so with a close friend.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve been struggling lately. I needed this day. I needed to remind myself that there is more to life than polls and Twitter rants, Covid fears and isolation. We all cope in different ways, and the truth is I am fortunate beyond reckoning. I have children I adore, a life partner who loves me and whom I love, a comfortable home, a job I enjoy, and friends near and far. I have little cause for complaint really. That doesn’t mean my struggles aren’t real, but it does mean that they will not defeat me.

Others are dealing with far greater problems. Maybe some of you. Please know that I wish you all the best, that there is still beauty and joy in the world, that we will emerge from this.

For now, I wish you a wonderful weekend. Stay safe, do something nice for yourself and your loved ones, be kind to one another. I’ll see you next week.

Morgan's Steep Cascade, Fall, by David B. Coe Morgan's Steep Stream, Fall, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: Three Years Ago This Weekend

Three years ago this weekend, we were in Massachusetts at Wachusett Meadow, a Massachusetts Audubon Society wildlife sanctuary, for a memorial service honoring my brother, Bill. This glorious site was one of his favorites in the world, and we dedicated a bench with a brass plaque commemorating him. He died earlier in 2017, but this weekend coincided with his birthday, and seemed the perfect time to say goodbye.

As you can see, it was a gorgeous fall day — cool, breezy, brilliantly sunny. This was at the height of autumn hawk migration, which Bill loved. He and his love, Sandy, used to come out to the sanctuary to watch for Broad-winged Hawks, Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks, American Kestrels, and other raptors. I had a sense all that morning as we prepared for the service, that Bill would find some way to make his presence felt during the day. I’m not usually prone to such thoughts. It was pretty uncharacteristic for me to believe such a thing.

But sure enough, as we concluded the service, a Cooper’s Hawk swooped over a nearby ridge and down to this lake where it began to circle and climb, its wings still, sun angling off its tail. I had held my emotions pretty much in check throughout the day, but seeing that hawk, feeling my brother’s… I don’t know, spirit, I guess, in its arrival, I fell to pieces. It was good for me, really. Cathartic.

It was a hard day, but a special one — a day I’ll never forget.

Have a good weekend all. Be kind to one another, hug those you love, and stay safe.

Wachusett Meadow Fall, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: The Little Things

Good morning. I am welcoming the end of what has been a difficult week. I am distancing from some news, though certainly not all. I am avoiding some social media, but again, not all. And I am trying to find my own personal equilibrium, an emotional place from which I can function and observe and comment without tipping over into obsessing and panicking. Not easy in today’s world.

Fortunately, I still live in a beautiful place and I still have my morning walks. Recently, on a cool, wet, foggy morning, I found this droplet-covered bloom of what I believe is Grassleaf Golden Aster. Wonders, large and small, are all around us, if only we pause long enough to see and appreciate them. I try each day to remind myself of this.

I wish you all a lovely weekend. Stay safe, be kind, keep the faith. See you next week.

Fall Aster and Dew, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: On Our Golden Pond

It’s not quite fall here on the Cumberland Plateau, but the days are cooling off, the nights are crisp and lovely, and the sunlight is taking on that autumn quality.

Earlier this week, late on a still, golden afternoon, I walked down to the pond near our home and snapped this photo.

My life does not feel very peaceful these days. I am struggling, to be honest, and I am desperately in need of the sort of calm conveyed by this photo. I wish I could bottle it, and give myself a small dose whenever necessary. Sadly, life doesn’t work that way.

I wish all of you a peaceful weekend. Be safe, be kind to one another.

Pond Reflections, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: Three Butterflies

Butterfly season is winding down here in Tennessee. We may get a few fall species before the weather turns cold, but many of the summer regulars are gone now. We had a slow start to our butterfly watching, but in the last few weeks of summer we made up for it. I’ve posted other photos already, here, here, and here.

Today, I offer one more collection of images. The butterfly with the bold eye spots on the wings is a Common Buckeye, one of my favorites. The small yellow one is a Sleepy Orange, and the butterfly with the complex pattern has a name to match: the Variegated Fritillary.

I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend. Stay safe, be kind to one another. See you Monday.

Common Buckeye, by David B. Coe
Sleepy Orange, by David B. Coe
Variegated Fritillary, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: A Gift From Amarid

As Jaryd and Alayna reached the bottom of the marble stairs and stepped onto the cobblestone street, people from the crowd approached them. The first to reach the pair was a young girl, accompanied by her mother, who stopped in front of Alayna and dropped a small feather into the woven basket the mage had been handed moments before.
“Wear your cloak well, Daughter of Amarid,” the girl said softly, with a glance back at her mother. “May Arick guard you.”
Alayna had no time to thank the girl. A young man placed an­other feather in her basket, and said solemnly. “Wear your cloak well, Daughter of Amarid, and may Arick guard you.”
An elderly man placed a feather in Jaryd’s basket. “Wear your cloak well, Son of Amarid, and may Arick guard you,” he said with a wink and a grin.
So it went for the entire journey around the Great Hall and through the streets of the city to the First Mage’s home. The procession wound through the darkened streets, which were lined with crowds of people. And as they walked, literally hundreds of men, women, and children approached Jaryd and Alayna, dropped feathers in their baskets, and welcomed them to the Order with the ritual greeting. Some smiled, or even laughed, while others remained serious, but all seemed sincere in wishing the mages well.

I’ll admit it. Since writing Children of Amarid, my first novel, I have thought of the feathers I find as “gifts from Amarid.” For those unfamiliar with the LonTobyn books, my mages, the so-called Children of Amarid, drew their magic from the psychic bond they formed with avian familiars — usually hawks, eagles, falcons, or owls. With every act of magic they performed in service to the land, they left a single feather as a token of their devotion.

This particular feather, which I found on my morning walk yesterday, originally belonged to a Blue Jay. I’m grateful to him or her for leaving it for me.

I wish you a weekend filled with unexpected wonders, large and small. Stay safe, be kind to one another.

Blue Jay Feather, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: Another Butterfly — Appalachian Brown

Welcome to this week’s Photo Friday post. Early in the summer, Nancy and I lamented the lack of butterflies in her garden, at least relative to recent years. Well, no more. The past few weeks have been butterfly-rich, and I have no doubt that I’ll be sharing more such photos with you in the weeks to come.

For today…

This lovely fellow, recently stopped by to hang out on the Black-Eyed Susans. He is an Appalachian Brown, a larger relative to the Little Wood Satyr I posted here back in late May. He’s a fairly unusual butterfly for an open garden, preferring moist, denser woodlands. But as you can see, he was very cooperative and let me get right up close for my photo.

It has been another crazed, disturbing week, and I, for one, am ready for a quiet, disconnected-from-the-world weekend. But today, once more, I am reminded that there is beauty and calm and solace to be found in the simple pleasures nature affords.

I wish you peace, laughter, and joy this Labor Day weekend. Be safe. Be kind to one another. Enjoy time with the people you love.

Appalachian Brown, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: Late-Afternoon Vista, and a Message

Last Friday, at the end of another week of work and screaming headlines, I spent my late afternoon, exploring our little college town, enjoying the golden light and ever-changing cloudscapes. As I’ve mentioned before, our town is perched atop the Cumberland Plateau, and we are fortunate to have several viewpoints that offer dramatic vistas of the valley and extensions of the plateau. This particular one, which faces north, is called Green’s View. Nancy and I lived a short walk from it many, many years ago, when our first daughter was just a baby. Despite the passage of more than twenty years, the view has remained stunningly beautiful.

This has been sad, painful week — another police shooting, more protests, another senseless act of gun violence, a national convention that offered little more than falsely apocalyptic warnings, blindly revisionist history, and a cult of worship for a man who deserves anything but.

And so I offer this simple image as a reminder — to you and for myself — that beauty remains in our world, that even as things seem to be getting darker and harder, there remain places of peace and solace untouched by the passage of years. We will get through this. Better days lie ahead.

I wish you a peaceful weekend filled with laughter and love. Stay safe, be kind to one another.Green's View, Late Afternoon, by David B. Coe

Photo Friday: Sunset Among Friends

Last weekend we had a socially-distanced get together with friends at the home of one of the couples. Their house, as it happens, sits right on the bluff in our little corner of the Cumberland Plateau, looking west and north toward Nashville.

It was a glorious evening. Cool, breezy, clear. During the course of the night, we were treated to the calls of Eastern Screen Owls and Great Horned Owls, a few beautiful shooting stars courtesy of the Perseid meteor shower, and this stunning sunset.

Best of all, we had a lovely evening with friends — talking, laughing, catching up, feeling at least somewhat normal in this time of historic abnormality.

Wishing you a weekend of simple joys. Be safe, be kind, take care of one another.

Bluff Sunset, by David B. Coe