Denise Goldberg's blog

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Little dogs make me smile

I treasure each morning that I can ride my bike to work, especially this late in August when the edges of daylight creep ever later. It was cool yet comfortable this morning. The forecast of a warm afternoon had me don a sleeveless jersey, covered with my bright pink (bolero) arm warmer.

I stopped for a light, and looked into the car waiting next to me to see a funny little dog popping around the front seat. His owner rolled down the window to tell me how visible I was in my bright colors and to introduce his doggy companion to the cyclist standing next to the car.

What a cute dog - I could have happily reached out to hug him!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Calm waters

Sometimes it feels like a good idea to get lost in a reflection...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Early colors

It seems that someone (was that you, weather wizard?) told some of the trees around here that it is time to start changing colors. I suppose last week's too cool for August temperatures were the trigger. I really like autumn colors, but it's much too early.

The small patches of yellow and red are beautiful - even though I'm not ready for them.

Friday, August 24, 2007


...fluffy, floating, seeds from spiky flowers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Vacation postponed

I made my decision to wander in Maine (starting on September 2nd) before my brother received his bad news just a week ago.

Ever since I heard the news, I've been fighting with myself over my plans. Should I leave the plans as is and potentially need to cancel at the last minute, or need to come home in mid-trip to be with family? Or should I change the dates?

Plans can be changed, vacation dates can be moved, but I need to make that decision now. Why? Because I have B&B reservations, and B&B reservations typically come with a very restrictive cancellation policy. Of the four B&Bs where I have reservations, two have a 14-day cancellation policy, and two have a 10-day cancellation policy. At first I was just going to leave the reservations as is, knowing that if I needed to be with my family during my planned vacation that I would lose my deposits. But as the days creep by, it just feels like my timing is really off. When I compared the cancellation policies and today's date, I realized that if I cancel now I will only lose one deposit.

As the days moved by, the timing of my planned trip started to feel really off. I thought and I thought. I agonized, and I thought some more. What should I do? I finally decided this morning to try to move my trip out further into September. Time for the telephone... I canceled reservations at two of the B&Bs, and I moved the other two. One of those was the reservation where I was already inside of the 14-day cancellation window, but the B&B owner was wonderful and just moved my reservation without charging me for the canceled reservation. How nice! I don't know if that was because I started the conversation by acknowledging that I knew they wouldn't refund my 1-night deposit, or if that's an unstated policy if the reservation is moved as opposed to cancelled. No matter the reason, that made my day! And I was lucky to find four consecutive days available at the B&B in Bar Harbor. I'll be staying in two different rooms, but my original reservation had that quirk as well.

I suppose that given my brother's life situation that my vacation isn't really important. It may be selfish, but it still feels important to me.

My moved Maine trip is still not too far off, starting on September 18th instead of September 2nd.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A camera hello

Well really, it was a hello because of my camera!

A gray day, a gray mood, walking, fast walking, my late afternoon exercise... I thought about grabbing my camera, but I didn't. Rain wasn't in the forecast, but it was so gray... I was moving quickly when a car pulled to the curb, stopped, and the driver rolled down the passenger-side window. I stopped to see if she needed directions. Instead, the driver asked me if I was the person she often saw in the area walking with a camera. That's me!

She stopped to offer her garden as a place to play with my camera. Her house is surrounded by flowers, and her back yard has a small pond too. What a wonderful offer, one that I will be sure to use. I'm always looking for interesting places to photograph.

A smile, courtesy of a stranger who has seen me wandering with camera in hand, mood lifting...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

So sad...

A few weeks back, I planned a quick trip to Philadelphia for this weekend - for the sole purpose of visiting with my brother. I suppose that timing is everything; I needed to be there, to see him once more, to hug him, to let him know in person that I care.

This isn't mine to write about, but sometimes I need to let my thoughts flow...

It appears that he's nearing the end of a losing battle, a battle that he has been fighting for over a year and a half, a battle with stage IV cancer. He still wants to live, he doesn't want to give up, he hasn't given up.

Watching him solidifies my thoughts about how (I think) I will react when it is me going through this stage of life. Somehow, I think that my thoughts may not be right though - because this is something that you can't live for someone else, that you can't imagine unless you are going through it yourself. What do I want? Honestly, I think I want an off-switch so that I can decide when enough is enough instead of waiting for the inevitable, instead of living with severe pain, instead of living with "life limitations". (And it's too bad that we don't often get to make that choice ourselves.) Don't get me wrong - I want to live. I just want a quality of life that continues to make me happy. And no, I'm not trying to pass my thoughts on to my brother. I honor his strength of character, his love for his family, and his desire to continue living in spite of everything.

Is it even possible to ever be ready?

Tears flow down my face when I least expect them. I'm clearly not in control of my feelings, but honestly, I think that is perfectly normal at this point in time.

Tears, sadness, memories...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Riding, fingers crossed!

Yesterday afternoon the weather forecast for today showed a dry day. Later at night, the possibility of thunderstorms popped up once again. Hmmm... what to do?

This morning the forecast was for a dry day, so my bicycle decided to be my mode of transportation for the day. I donned blinking red lights to fight the gray morning, to ensure that the drivers would realize that I was on the road, and I headed out. It was a reasonably cool morning from a temperature standpoint, but sweat was dripping down my face by the time I arrived at work. The humidity? According to the National Weather Service current conditions for the area, the humidity was at 88%!

And guess what? The forecast has changed once more to show a 20% chance of afternoon thunderstorms. I hope it's not, but it may just be a wet ride home today.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tall trees & light beams

The positive side of my not riding to work today is that I had a camera with me when I headed out on my bike in the late afternoon. While I might have my baby camera with me when I commute, my DSLR with its stash of lenses usually doesn't jump in my bag.

My pleasant ride was interspersed with chunks of time standing still, playing with my camera, learning the intricacies of yet another lens. Yes, I gave in to lens lust once again and added an ultra-wide zoom lens to my collection. It's a lens that will get more use as I wander further from home to view wide open spaces, but I can certainly find some places that fit the sweet spot of the lens closer to home.

Trees, light beams shooting through the trunks of trees living in the forest, standing still, looking up, towering tree tops...

Weather forecast, real or not?

I guess I have to stop believing the weather forecast. If I want to ride my bike in to work, I get up an hour earlier than I do when I'm planning to drive. That gets me to the office at (about) the same time each day, regardless of my transportation method.

When I checked the weather forecast Tuesday before I headed off to bed, it showed rain for Wednesday. Wednesday morning dawned, and the forecast had changed to a good riding day. Oops, not enough time! Last night, the forecast showed a 40% chance of thunderstorms for this afternoon. This morning? It showed a beautiful day. And yet... I wasn't up and moving about early enough to ride in.

Lesson learned! I'll ride late this afternoon, and tomorrow morning? I think - no, I know - I'll set my alarm as if I'm going to be able to ride in to work. I can hope, can't I?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Late day sunlight

The late day sunlight creates magic as it pours from behind clouds, as it filters through trees and leaves, creating highlights. Beautiful...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

On the edge...

...of the bicycle commuting season, that is!

Every year I think that I'll be able to continue commuting to bike (two or three days a week) a little longer than the previous year. My commuting days sometimes begin in May, sometimes June, but they only nicely go until the end of August. Why? I'm not a fast rider, and I want to make sure I have enough daylight on both ends of the day. Yes, there are good lights available, but I'd rather not be on the road close to sunrise or sunset.

This morning woke me up both from a daylight and from a chill perspective. When my alarm clock chirped at 5 this morning, it was still dark out. Uh oh! It was full light when I left the house at 6, attired for the first time since early June in my normal biking clothes plus knee warmers and a wind jacket. This morning's low-50 degree temperatures was well below the recommended "protect your knees, cover them when the temperature edges below 65". The temperature edged closer to that magic number as I rolled closer to the office, but my extra layers were definitely needed this morning. The ride home will be a different story though.

I'll be traveling on (with?) my bike between September 2nd and 11th. I just checked the National Weather Service's sun statistics page for September. Hmm.... I wonder if I could push my commute by bike season a little past my vacation? It looks like there just might be enough daylight if I ride a straight line (bewteen home and work and back again) instead of tacking on some extra loops on my way home. Or am I just dreaming?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Pieces of the puzzle

Vacation is just three short weeks away, and the pieces of the puzzle are very nicely falling into place.

My destination hasn't changed since I made my initial decision just a little over a week ago. Where am I going? I'm heading to coastal Maine, starting in the west in what's referred to as Mid-Coast Maine, and going as far as the Schoodic Peninsula in Downeast Maine. It's an area that is very do-able as an out-and-back self-contained (bicycle) tour from home, but I've decided to do it (mainly) as a series of day rides. That way I'll be able to focus on the areas that interest me most instead of spending a great deal of my time on the bike in "transportation" mode.

I've made reservations at B&Bs, and I've perused maps and potential bike routes. From a biking standpoint, there's a mapped loop ride that I want to do that starts in Rockland, some wandering along the coast from Camden to Castine, an out-and-back ride from Castine to Stonington (that I'm adapting from a published loop ride of Deer Isle / Stonington, and riding in Acadia National Park, both on Mt. Desert Island and on the Schoodic Peninsula. Then there's a new bridge in Bucksport - the Penobscot Narrows Bridge - that has an observation tower that my camera is screaming to visit, and there's walking to be done along the coast, and...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Critters posing

Catching bugs with my camera is one thing, but convincing a frog to sit still is something else entirely. I stopped along the edge of a pond to enjoy the lily pads and the flowers. I was lucky enough to have a camera in my hand when I encountered a (somewhat skittish) frog. I wish it had been my SLR with the big zoom lens attached, but even the little camera managed a somewhat reasonable capture. Fun!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Dripping wet

The forecast called for a good riding day today, so when I woke to a gray world outside of my window I chose to get up and roll into the fog.

I could easily have rolled over and gone back to sleep for another hour, but I'm fighting to get two commute-to-work-by-bike days in this week. Today and Thursday are the only days that wore a prediction of dry weather. That meant today needed to be a riding day.

The morning fog was supposed to burn off by 9AM (and it did). The visibility at my 6AM departure time was OK at ground level; I didn't think my bicycle and I would be hidden from view. The light was dim enough though that I skipped my morning dose of sunscreen, something that I never do! Given the dim light, I decided to help more than I do in full sunlight. I grabbed a high visibility reflective belt, attached two bright blinking red lights to it, and headed down the road.

The temperature was a pleasant mid-60s on my ride in, but the fog was like a light mist. I was soaked by the end of my ride. Luckily my riding clothes returned to a dry state before I headed back out on my commute home this afternoon.

In spite of the fog it was a good morning ride. The sun appeared for a while, then hid behind thick gray clouds for my ride home. All things considered, it was a good riding day.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Flying, dancing...

Beautiful creatures... birds, chipmunks, little red squirrels...

It was a weekend of visiting, and a weekend of exercising my camera. Since my folks do a good job of feeding the birds, all I needed to do was stand out on the deck with my camera. Who came to visit? Chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals, hummingbirds, and more! There were some funny little four-legged creatures too. The birds flew (for real), and the chipmunks and squirrels flew across the ground and up the trees, leaping across long distances, making me smile.

More photos of these wonderful beings can be seen in my gallery Tiny creatures, sharing space.

And no, I didn't forget Bailey! For those of you who don't know him, Bailey is the dachshund who runs my parents' household. He is a real character, but he doesn't often consent to posing for photographs. Here's a shot (from the back) as he is waiting for his mom to return from running out to pick up a newspaper. Mom? Mom? Are you coming home?

He did allow me to take a few more photos, viewable in my gallery Bailey captured.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Early morning, I wandered outside to see the moon glowing in a brilliant blue sky.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A vacation conundrum

I think it's well past time to carry on a conversation with myself...

Denise, what are you thinking? Or should I say not thinking?

Vacation destinations usually jump into my head during the winter months and solidify as spring rolls into summer. It's the beginning of August, and my target timeframe for a vacation is the end of August or the beginning of September. My target destination? It's been a total mystery for a long time, but I think a decision is finally at hand.

Initially I was thinking about returning to Nova Scotia. I have a lot of exploring left to do there! It wasn't until very recently that I realized why my enthusiasm wasn't bubbling over. The trip there was to be a combination of cycling and hiking and wandering with the assistance of my bright blue fossil-fuel-powered vehicle. I would really like to get to the Cabot Trail on the far eastern side of the province, and because of the grades of the hills (short & steep), I don't think I want to ride it. But somehow, looking at the amount of driving I was going to need to do just didn't excite me. I went back to thinking, dreaming...

I know that I want to spend some time in Acadia National Park, riding, and playing with my camera. Yes, I know I was there twice last year, and twice in 2005 too. I think I've developed an addiction to that park, and in my mind that's not a bad thing. OK, Maine...

I think, I think... I'm going to head for the Mid-Coast region of Maine. It's a section of the coast where I haven't spent any time at all. My plans are pretty fluid right this moment - instead of heading out the last week of August, I think I'll drive up on the Monday Labor Day holiday. (The area is just too close to the Boston area to wander up there for the holiday weekend, too many people...) I'll probably do a day trip or two on my bike, plus head out for a several day (well, probably a 2 or 3 day) tour. That piece will probably start in (or near) Bucksport and head down to the tip of Deer Isle. And then I'll spend a few days in Acadia, riding, walking, exercising cameras. How's that for a plan?

My original thoughts were to take two weeks, and this will probably be short of that. Hmm... no plane fare for this trip, still a chunk of vacation time remaining after this trip, maybe I'll balance things out and take a long weekend hiking and camera trip somewhere later in the fall. My dreams (right now) are leaning towards Death Valley for that shorter trip.

Ah, a puzzle on the way to a solution...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

More SmugChanges

...changes to my (SmugMug) photo galleries, that is!

I've been experimenting with the look and feel of my photo galleries. The goal of my playing, my changes, was a cleaner look. The result? (I think) I'm happy for now.

First, I collapsed what was two lines into one, my site name followed by a small thumbnail of a photo followed by navigation, the ability to jump to different pages. I like the look better now.

And I changed the looks of the gallery categories page. I wanted bigger images to represent the categories. After all, this is a photo gallery, and the emphasis should be on the photos, right?

Changes complete... at least until the next time the urge for change strikes again...

And, the more I look at it, the more I like the new look!


...stages of floral life, beauty in small things...