November 2008

Phalaenopsis orchid in American Orchid Society Gardens

Reed and reflection bent into shape of a heart in Wakodahatchee Wetlands

Today’s Picture to Ponder Photos
two seemingly incongruous photos, wishing you in the United States a Happy Thanksgiving and all of you Dear Readers a joyful time of Gratitude.

The top photo is a Phalaenopsis Orchid from the American Orchid Society Gardens in Delray Beach, FL and the lower photo is a Heart formed by the Reflection of a bent Reed in Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach

The Story of the Photographs
Usually I rely on the photos themselves to suggest a theme. Today, as I was thinking about Thanksgiving I, of course, thought of gratitude and how appropriate a “heart” photo from Nature might be. This led me to the lower photo which I love, and featured more than three years ago in a special issue of Picture to Ponder, “From My Heart to Yours” – Issue 130a.

In scanning more recent photographs for another “natural” heart image, the orchid called out to me. Although it’s a stretch to find a heart shape in it, the orchid seems to give the wide-open and bright feeling of an open heart. Looking closely we can see little arms that could be reaching out to embrace you.

My Gratitude as it Relates Here
As I think about “Gratitude”, particularly in relation to Picture to Ponder, three women, especially, stand out for me at this time. So much of the being of Picture to Ponder can be traced back to actions they took and programs in which I participated with them.

1. So many of you here became subscribers to Picture to Ponder after reading Stacey Robyn’s recommendation of my work on Day 28 of her Go Gratitude experiment – 42 days of Gratitude, three years ago. It was her intention to reach, globally, 1,000,000 people in gratitude during that time period. Stacey and her partner, Ken Herbert, are reintroducing another Wave of 42 days of Gratitude, beginning November 27th. If you have not seen the information, check out WORLD GRATITUDE.

2., as a website, the “parent” of Picture to Ponder, and then Picture to Ponder itself, was formed during the time I participated in the You University course created and facilitated by Marney Makridakis of Artellaland. Marney is one of the most creative people I know. She is ongoingly coming up with new ideas and products, many of which especially please people who enjoy creating in one art form or another.

After working on development for some time, she and her partner have launched an amazing new affiliate program, which includes my being able to offer some complimentary downloads to you. Included in the package of fr*e*e ebooks is ExerSIGHS: A Self-Esteem Workbook for Writers and Artists

Another that I’ve also downloaded and am looking forward to reading is MoneyMorphosis: Ten Things Butterflies Can Teach Us About Money. The description states that if invites us to transform the way we think about money by following 10 metaphorical fables in which butterflies teach us about true prosperity.

To see more fully what Marney offers, check out the home page of Artellaland.

3. And I would be totally remiss, were I not to mention Writer, Actor, Coach Julie Jordan Scott in this listing of three women to whom we all can express gratitude for the work I so freely bring to you. I took countless teleclasses and writing courses with her over a period of several years. In many ways, particularly in my authentic and public writing style, I consider Julie my mentor.

When I conduct teleclasses, much of my format style is based on what I picked up from Julie. Although she is not currently offering programs on the Web to which I can link, you can get a taste of her writing on her blog – Julie Unplugged.

You can see her photography, along with her comments, by going to Julie’s FlickR account. I’d like to think that the fact that she finally got into using a camera, long after our course associations, was partially, directly or indirectly, out of what she experienced through me in Picture to Ponder.

Today’s Self-Reflecting Queries
I invite you to look at your life, note some of the things, you have, do or be, that are important to you, and then reflect back on the origins of that which you discovered.

If there is someone, or ones, that were at the source, I invite you to take a few minutes to acknowledge and express gratitude to that person, or persons, face-to-face, on the phone and/or by writing.

Remember to also recognize yourself for actions you’ve taken. Be sure to acknowledge the courageous ones.

Have a joyous and peaceful week. Thank you for being in my life.

Posting Comments
To post comments on this Photography and Transformation blog click on the small word “Comment” at the end of the post. A window will open, asking for your name, email address that will NOT be published, a URL if you have – Your name will be linked to that – and box with space for you to “Leave a Reply.”


Pink tropical water lily in Four Arts Garden in Palm Beach

Purple tropical water lily in Four Arts Garden in Palm Beach

Today’s Picture to Ponder Photos
Tropical Water Lilies in a pond at the Four Arts Gardens in Palm Beach, FL.

The intent of today’s photos are are meant to offer peace and simplicity. The upper pink tropical water lily feels particularly serene to me, far more so than the more active photo which you can see by clicking on Water Lily Scene.

In the lower photo, the underwater roots of the purple water lily seem to lead our eyes right up to the top photo. Thus I positioned it here. You can see the water lily root system in the Scene photo linked to above.

My first experience of a purple tropical water lily was a few years ago in the American Orchid Society’s gardens. At that time I did a photo/drawing of one of the images and it’s available in my Nature Art Gift Shop on pillows, tiles and other home decor items. See Purple Tropical Water Lily gifts.

The Story
No long story this week. Last week was non-stop going, it seemed, from sunrises on the beach and at Wakodahatchee Wetlands through sunsets at Green Cay Wetlands and Loxahatchee National Wildlife Preserve, then engaging in other evening activities. A dear friend was visiting and it was my pleasure to share so many of the spots of Natural beauty with which I’m blessed to be surrounded.

I thus felt the need for rest and offer today’s photos to represent that. In addition, I am now especially remembering, and honoring, my beloved husband, Sam, who passed away a year ago this week. As part of the process, I started going back over some photos from the past couple of years. I was particularly moved and reminded of his wonderful smile and will be adding a page of Smiling Sam to the memorial pages I have on my site. For those interested in seeing his enjoyment of life and family, you can check out the Smiling Sam page on my site.

Briefly, for those of you new to Picture to Ponder, Sam was the original photographer in our family. There are links on the remembrance page to some of his wonderful black and white photos. It is a result of Sam’s love, support and encouragement, throughout our 47+ years of marriage, that has me confidently and freely offering you all that I currently do with Picture to Ponder.

Today’s Self-Reflecting Queries
Today, I invite you to look into your life to see:

1. What kinds of images, or experiences, provide a sense of calm for you?

2. Have you made note of these so that you can instantly access one or more when you have the need?

3. In addition to the images, walking, and photographing, I was reminded today, and experienced, that by completing a long, overdue, self-generated project, I would have a sense of peace and well-being.

Is there any place in your life right now where something is “hanging” over you, awaiting your completing it? If so, I invite you to “gift” yourself peace by taking some time for completion.

Have a peaceful week.


Vidalia onion with stem attached to peel

Vidalia onion peel with stem peel

Vidalia onion bulb nestled against half of the peeled layer

Today’s Picture to Ponder Photos
Vidalia onion, with focus on the stem – Top photo is the stem of the layer of the onion just peeled, still attached to the main stem. I like the cheerful, playful feeling of this image.

The middle photo shows the completion of the peeling of that layer, both stem and onion layer 5. I’m drawn in by the thinness of the stem peel with the rest of the layer.

For the lower photo, I placed what remained of the onion, nestling it against half of the layer just peeled away. I include this image because of the feeling of love and contentment it exudes.

The Story –
In the last issue of Picture to Ponder, I featured photos of this Vidalia onion with the patterns of spores that had formed under the fine skin. In that issue, after going into the whole history of this particular Vidalia onion, I committed to continuing to photograph the process and post on this Photography and Transformation blog. It was not my intention to continue the story in any other issues of Picture to Ponder.

Then I got really excited when I discovered that the stem also has layers. They are actually an integral part of each of the layers of the onion. Wow. What a revelation! (Tongue in cheek here.) So I began to include the peeling of the stem as part of the process and documentation.

I found myself enjoying the art of what was developing. In the second photo on the blog post Art in the Dance of the Vidalia Onion Stem Layers , it felt like the layers of the stem were dancing.

Given the intrigue, to me, as well as the continuing beauty of the onion as it was being revealed, I wanted to be sure that you, too, had the opportunity to experince this. Thus I am featuring this Vidalia, one more time, in Picture to Ponder.

Note – My curiosity had me check my refrigerator (onions kept there don’t generate tears when peeled) to see what stems on other onions look like. “Why hadn’t I paid attention to them in previous peelings?” It appears, on others that I currently have, that the stems have been almost completely cut off before purchasing.

So I went a little further and did some “Googling.” I found one site commented that onion stems are short. Now I wonder if that varies with the Vidalia. I did a couple of more searches and decided I need to finish here, with no more distractions.

Once last comment, though, on the stem of our featured Vidalia onion. If you check out the blog and go to earlier posts, you can see in the first photos that the stem was almost folded in half. As I peeled away the layers it became erect.

I wonder, again, “Is there a message there that we can take into and relate to our own lives?”

Today’s Self-Reflecting Queries

Today, I invite you to look into your life to see:

1. Are there portions of your life, or yourself, which you have been ignoring, not paying any attention to, either in physical appearance or inner aspects? If you see something, spend some time with it, perhaps even in writing.

Pay attention. What great things can you uncover about yourself as you peel away what you just found?

2. Now do the same exercise with someone else, or something, important in your life. Similar to last week’s question, is something you have consciously been ignoring, something which may have importance simply because you’ve made a judgment on appearance.

Or, perhaps more importantly, with observation, can you find something you’ve never noticed before about the person or situation?

3. Lastly, is there a place in your life where you’d like to be standing more erect, figuratively or in actuality? If so, what will it take to switch your “posture.”

As always, have fun with these queries and this week also remember to look for something in what you discover that brings a smile to your face!

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Vidalia Onion Art Continues – Day 5

by Sheila Finkelstein on November 9, 2008

Vidalia onion with stem crown waiting to be separated


Vidalia onion embraced with peeled layer


Vidalia onion stem peeled layers


Vidalia onion with previous layer - both halves


Vidalia onion and stem stand along


Artful arrangement - Vidalia Onion, stem and halves in ceramic dis

Less than ten minutes of photographing different stages and artful groupings after the crown was lifted off the Vidalia onion, also separating the skin.


Art in the Dance of the Vidalia Onion Stem layers

by Sheila Finkelstein on November 8, 2008

Peeling the layers of the stem of the Vidalia onion
Queenly in appearance before disrobing

In order to peel the onion layers, I had to create a slit around the top before slicing into to the next layer to open it up to separate it. I then decided that I wanted to pull away the stem and discovered that it was layered also, each being an integral part of the main body which I had cut away. I love the humorous lilt to this image.

The dance of the layers of the skin on the Vidalia Onion stem

Here, I love the lyrical, dancing quality of the layers of the stem that have been separated and not yet removed. The onion is resting on the shell of the layer peeled away yesterday. [See previous post here on the blog or click on home, above, to follow the developing story.]


Vidalia Onion – Indentations Layer 3

by Sheila Finkelstein on November 7, 2008

Vidalia onion with indentations from spores
Indentations where spores at into thick layer of onion.

Peeling away the attacked layer reveals shiny, smooth clear body. Signs of the “attack” or ravaging are barely visible. Note that this layer has a very thin segment, visible top right. Then observe how thick the rest of the layer is, lower right.

The onion stem, which becomes an art object in tomorrow’s post.

On the left, Layer 3 peeled away. It becomes a “pedestal” for photographing the arty onion stem in tomorrow’s post.




Vidalia Onion Skin waves

Artistic view of Vidalia onion with patterned spore

Vidalia onion with most of skin removed photographed in a dish

Today’s Picture to Ponder Photos
Vidalia Onion, which after sitting on a counter for two months started showing deterioration under the paper-thin outer skin.

The top photo has somewhat of a perky, “look-at-me” appearance, as it “poses” with the curl of the outside layer atop its body.

Initially I responded to the center photograph as being artistic, with the lines and patterns of the black spores, as well as the shadows. It is also more digitally enhanced than the others, bringing out the contrasts.

The bottom photo, with most of the spores gone, becomes even more of an art object by being placed in a ceramic dish for the photograph. A large portion of the spores stuck to the skin as it was removed.

The Story – Introduction
You may recall that three months ago, in the beginning of August, I featured a red onion in two issues of Picture to Ponder – Volume 4 – Issue 28 and Issue 29. During that time period, I had started peeling the layers of an onion and tracking it in photographs and writing on the blog.

I hypothesized that we could view the process as “analogous to peeling away the layers of ourselves.” At the time, I also began to think of it as a possibility for a book, with the first series of photos being Chapter 1. See below for a link to the Onion Story PDF.

A couple of weeks later I bought a second red onion, as well as a Vidalia onion. The red onion started showing signs of decay within two weeks. At that point, I photographed a slicing, rather than peeling, process and wrote a second chapter along with photographs, yet-to-be published here, on the blog or elsewhere.

In the meantime the Vidalia onion sat, untouched, on a counter in my kitchen. Since it did not appear to have much contrast in color and textures, I mentally deemed it “not photogenic” and didn’t bother to take any photographs of it. Then two months, rather than two weeks, later it began to show signs of deterioration and I got into action.

A new analogous theme started forming – that of the developing of “emotional bacteria” under our skin, as we hold onto our thoughts, or emotions, without giving them any space.

The Story – in relation to this Issue of Picture to Ponder
Initially I was pleased, when I took the first photos of this Vidalia onion, despite their difference from my usually more “pretty” or dynamic photos. I think part of it was I was “intellectually” excited about the concept I was developing.

Then today, as I began to decide which photos to use, the “spores” and, now seemingly unattractive, decay created more of a negative response and I had difficultly seeing beyond that. I started moving toward dropping the whole thing when I reminded myself that I had already done a first posting of photos and an introduction to the Vidalia onion on the blog, stating that I was going to be featuring it in this issue of Picture to Ponder.

So, given I made a commitment, I am following through here. And, I’m remaining open to what will develop. Rather, I will say here and now, I am creating an intention, making it public, to continue with the Onion Story, willing to be in the unknown of where it will go.

Today’s Self-Reflecting Queries
Today, I invite you to look into your life to see:

1. Are there places in your life where you are holding onto thoughts and emotions so tightly, that they are beginning to “fester” under your skin? If so, what actions can you take to remove the outer layer allowing them, and you, the freedom to be?

2. Are there areas in your life where you are ignoring something which may have importance simply because you’ve made a judgment on appearance, deciding it might not offer “enough.” If so, are you willing to reframe your thoughts into empowering ones that will move you forward?

3. Is there anything in your life right now that has been intriguing you, calling you to investigate, and yet you are staying stuck and not in action?

If so, I invite you to create an intention around it and move forward accordingly. To what will you commit?

Remember also, that that although the above queries are phrased in terms of objects, you may also look at them in relation to situations with people, in addition to yourself.

As always, have fun with these queries and this week also remember to look for something in what you discover that brings a smile to your face!

Onion Story PDF
If you have not already done so, you may download my gift of the Onion Story PDF – Photos and Text for friends of Picture to Ponder. See Onion Story for Friends to receive your copy.


Vidalia Onion with spores under skin
Vidalia Onion, purchased on August 23, 2008 – Photographed on October 28, 2008

Vidalia Onion - spores spread - photographed on 11/3/08
A week later – 11/3/08

In the beginning of August I posted my first photograph of a red onion which after the second day became the story, “Peeling Away the Layers of an Onion, Akin to Peeling Away the Layers of Ourselves.” You can follow the story on this blog, after that first post, or for easier reading, you can click on ONION STORY to subscribe to Picture to Ponder and get the PDF download with the complete photos and text.

The Onion Story continues.
In the middle of August I purchased another red onion and at the same time a Vidalia onion. When the red onion, started showing signs of decay two weeks later, I sliced it, photographed the process and writing and documenting it for the second chapter of the Onion Story.

In the meantime the Vidalia onion sat on a counter top. Since it looked similar to the background, I did not bother photographing it, making the assumption that there was not all that much contrast and it wouldn’t be finishing.

Two months later, as contrasted with two weeks for the red onion, the Vidalia, though still firm, began to show some black, under the outer paper skin. I became interested and realized that there was another story here. I began to hypothesize and observe, the build-up of “disease,” forming underneath a thin outer shell, when left unattended . Thus I took a couple of photos and a week later began the photo-documentation process.

Tomorrow’s post of Picture to Ponder will show the first layer exposed, with the black spores. Not having cut further I have no idea what will become exposed as I go along. It seems, at this point, once I get past the next layer or two the onion will be as solid in the center as it was two months ago. I invite you to follow along with us over the next few days of discovery. And, why not play with an onion or two of your own!