Social Media Prayer – a poem

#social media, Baltimore MD, blog, photography, poetry
Hippodrome, Baltimore, B/W by Becca Andre

Hippodrome, Baltimore, B/W by Becca Andre

But you can Pin me!
It’s my latest favorite thing.
Pin me to a wall, any wall.
I will take a link back to my website
in any way, shape or form,
I am not a picky girl
and I love to Share!

#############

#Social Media Prayer

Just a few requests –
Please do not follow me if you know an unfollow is in the near future.
Please do not friend me if you cannot love on me every so often,
or at least hit Like.

I would rather your total disregard;
complete ignorance to my words and images
as they appear in your feed,
than a ❤️ that is insincere and empty.

I would rather you comment that you hate it!
As opposed to your lukewarm skimming
and eye roll as you move to the next best thing.

And please, please,
if you are at all feeling like a twat today,
please do not Tweet.
Those words never go away –
they live immortal in screenshots.

Sometimes I wish there was an IG filter for words…
You know, to soften the edges,
to brighten or blur
because life is NOT black and white.

But you can Pin me!
It’s my latest favorite thing.
Pin me to a wall, any wall.
I will take a link back to my website
in any way, shape or form,
I am not a picky girl
and I love to Share!

©Rebecca Andre 9.25.17 1st draft

P.S. – I paired this photo with this poem because I was inspired by the thought that life is more of a stage than ever before, thanks to digital media. Do you agree?

Caregiver’s Cure – Lemon Curd And A Hot Toddy

Catskill Mountains, new york, poetry, Recipes

Today, a recipe and a poem – all in one place.

THIS GIRL 11.6.16

For the few moments each day
when this girl is not thinking about smoking a cigarette,
when she is not overcome with the reality
of cancer running amok in her family,
when she feels slightly stable
and the dizziness temporarily subsides,
ideas pound the brain of this girl.

Unexpectedly becoming a caregiver to a loved one is like landing a job you actually never applied for. I hesitate to even write about my experience over the last eight months, for I am not looking for pity, and I most definately do not want to upset my mother. (Mom – please don’t be mad!)

Yet, I believe what I have to share has the potential of being more helpful than harmful. A rhyme and a recipe…how can one go wrong? It’s a risk/benefit I’m willing to bet on.

They knock on the door, loud at first,
then timid from being ignored.
Ideas of stories to be written,
words to be recorded,
magical herbal remedies to concoct,
money to be made doing the things this girl loves.

Since March, everything has changed with my mother’s diagnoses of stage 3 pancreatic cancer. Obviously, her life has changed the most as she has practically given up her full time job to take on chemo, radiation, major surgery, then more chemo.

Her kids’ lives changed too. But the days of whining are over. My brother, twin sister and I have rotated, making sure my mom is hardly ever alone.  Our aunts and uncles lovingly provide us with respite as well.

Then, my sister’s husband had to go and complicate matters by coming down with AML (Acute Myloid Lukemia) a month ago. Moving from their West Virginia mountain home, they get to live indefinitely at John’s Hopkins, or its vicinity, until his treatments and bone marrow transplant deem him “in remission.”

(Hang in there, the recipe is coming.)

So what do I do when I find myself actually at home, with my daughter and husband? Well since I work from home and live in the vacation capital of New York State, the Catskill Mountains, I take walks in the snow, sit by my fire, write and cook.

Returning home after days or weeks of caregiving is like going on a retreat. And I retreat. Except for social media, I rarely make an appearance.

And this girl, more than life, wants to have fun with her child.

But by the time the evening chores are done,
she will collapse,
her ideas will deflate,
dirty and damp like the dish towel in her hands.
Anything she started will become a sad and lonely project that some other girl,
a girl with more energy,
a girl with less cancer in the family,
a girl who never smoked,
will pick up and run with.
That other girl flies right by her,
forgetting to even wave.

Today, the day before Thangsgiving, I had an idea, and I went with it. An entire day in the kitchen, even if I am not the host of the big dinner this year, will zap me out of my funk.  The holidays will feel almost normal, even if just for a day.

So here is the recipe for Lemon Curd, Ina Garten style (I just love me some Barfoot Contessa). I believe this recipe would impress even the Queen.

lemon_curd_lid

Lemon curd inspiration


OH!  You are probably wondering where the hot toddy comes in. Well I have access to some amazing tea…I love this Earl Grey by Traveler’s Tea. Also, just five minutes down the road form here is Union Grove Distillery, and I use their Vly Creek Vodka as a base for my homemade vanilla extract, so I had some on hand.

Which I needed, for my three year old black lab decided to run away whilst my eight year old daughter was sledding, so that was an entire blood-pressure raising fiasco. A cig was not an option, as I am almost four weeks nicotine free, so a hot toddy was just in the cards.

Back to the LEMON CURD RECIPE:

Makes about 4 1/2 cups

  • 6 lemons, scrubbed (for zesting and juicing)
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 stick + 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp.
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • generous dash of salt
  1. Zest all 6 lemons with a carrot peeler, avoiding the white pith.
  2. Place zest in food processor (steel blade) and pulse until very finely minced.
  3. Add sugar and pulse into minced lemon zest.
  4. Separately, in a stand-mixer, cream the butter.
  5. Beat the sugar zest into the creamed butter.
  6. Add the eggs, one at a time.
  7. Add lemon juice and salt, mixing until combined (mixture will have curdled appearance).
  8. Pour mixture into large saucepan and cook over low heat (gas stove) or med. heat (electric stove).
  9. Stir CONSTANTLY for about 15/20 minutes.   Mixture will thicken.
  10. Remove from stove when temp. reaches 170F, or just before simmering. (If you pause from stirring and see bubbles appearing, take off heat)
  11. Pour into glass jars, allow to cool, cover and store in refrigerator up to 3 months. (You may strain over small mesh if the zest bothers you)

The citrus oils that will dress your hands and your countertop will seep into your soul and cleanse you from the inside out

Over heat, the curdled mixture will become as smooth as glass

Despite Ina’s claims, this recipe is not in the “Easy” category, nor does it take 20 to 30 minutes.  Plan on a good 1 1/2 to 2 hours, including cleanup.  I attempted timing this recipe,  but my dog ran away as I was zesting the lemons…

That stated, the buttery yellow outcome, gleaming and shiny in filled jars, will fill your heart with simple glee.  The finished product is insanely perfect for a tart, spreading on crackers, icing a pound cake or spicing up your morning English muffin.

Lemon curd is damn sunshine in a jar

Completing this recipe was only the beginning of my pre-Thanksgiving bake-a-thon.  I went on to make homemade cranberry sauce, a classic pumpkin roll and currant and almond chocolate bark.  Oh, and dinner.

By the end, I was well on my way to being healed, rembering that a caregiver is also in need of care.  If that care takes the form of a dessert filled countertop and a sugar-smudged apron, so be it.

I can’t wait to give a jar to my mom.

img_2068-1

Mom’s first walk to the water, four weeks post Whipple surgery

This girl hides in the woods when she isn’t stuck in the city,
She tucks her chin and goes unnoticed.
For now.
But she has plans.
Plans that are brewing, are steeping, are simmering, deep inside.
When everyone gets better –
When she gets better –
this girl will return to her former glory.
So if you are reading this,
be sure not to forget
this girl’s name.

Check out Mountain Girl Made, where select tea blends, photos and poems are available for purchase. Shop small and support local.

Penn Station 7/17/16 – a poem

Catskill Mountains, new york, photography, Travel

image

I will not watch your bag.

I will watch meandering passengers of all shapes and colors
passing me by with glazed confusion distorting the light of their eyes,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will sit here, talking to a friend, sounds of our synced laughter lost in the crowd,
lost among the cries of tired babies and complaining elders,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will drag my luggage up steps for some city-fresh air on 33rd Street,
and notice how the cabs have become almost comically small,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will hear an announcer warn, “If you see something, say something,”
and I will steal a suspicious glance your way,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will avert my eyes from the disheveled ones with hands out,
wondering what story got them to this begging place,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will watch a heron, in his blue majestic stance, grace the edge of a Jersey swamp,
and count the colors of the storage containers as we drift by,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will relish the private concert of my iPod on shuffle,
sounds of Natalie, Bocelli, Cash, Chapman and U2 until I doze,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will attempt to decipher the graffiti that almost passes as art on the metal fences,
and wonder how they appear, as I never see a spray can wielding culprit,
but I will not watch your bag.

I will write my run-on sentences, all day long, passing time on the Empire Service,
but my dear stranger, this world has me just skeptical enough to say…

I just can’t watch your bag.

moonlighting reporter in 2015

blog, Catskill Made, Catskill Mountains, new york, photography, upstate new york, Watershed post

Following the dream to become a published, paid writer this year has led to some incredible learning experiences.  Whether reporting a news event here in the Catskills, promoting a non-for-profit event, writing editorials and essays, or, my favorite, photo journalism, I am constantly fulfilled with my work.

Home Office

Home Office

Finally, I am doing what I love.  Reaping the benefits of involved pitches, copious interviews, and being in the right place at the perfect time.

Working together with editors that are professional and experienced provide me with that much needed extra set of eyes.

Folks that ask me what I do often scoff at my answer:

“I’m a writer, a photographer.”

“What else do you do? You know, to actually make money?” they ask.

THIS is what I do.  I write what I see.  I ask questions.  I take my camera with me everywhere.

And I get paid.

Any questions?

THANK YOU FOR READING:

Along with a photo-essay in the upcoming Catskill Outdoor Guide (print) and some work done for Delaware County Times (print) here are some published articles available online:

Watershed Post Contributions

Catskill Made : Survival: A guide to making your home in the Catskills

Catskill Made: Poem: House of Secrets

Catskill Made: The Moon as a muse – her phases and their meanings

 

WATER. FALLS.

blog, photography

A GUARANTEE

Some days, problems pile up like heavy drifts of snow against a fence line.  Through the help of friends, family, creative thinking and down right hard work and determination, we shovel our way out of the drift. Eventually, the snow melts…

Cross Mountain, Delaware County, NY

Cross Mountain, Delaware County, NY ©2014 Becca of MGP&D

…revealing the ground once again, as we witness the transformation of snow into water. It evaporates and falls back to earth as precip of one sort or another.  This incredible cycle, is highlighted here in this NOAA and NASA Science on a Sphere movie….  a project tirelessly worked on by my amazing twin sister of Verglas Media.

Water Falls Movie Trailer

Water Falls Movie Trailer ©2013 Verglas Media

Here in the CATSKILLS, NY, we are blessed with water in its most beauteous state (snow) on a regular basis.  We ski, we photograph, we relish inside by the fire when it snows.  When the inevitable melting happens, most of the time, we are sad to see it go.  Unless it is  February or March, when we are so over all the winter activities and we just want to get our hands in the earth and some sun on our skin.

A GIFT

What melting snow leaves behind is not just a muddy slush, but a torrent rush of water, quenching our thirsty streams, our rivers, our reservoirs.  Raging over rocks, this Water Falls, skimming the banks of engorged rivers, and eventually plummeting over the cliffs, filling our senses, forcing us to acknowledge the simple gifts in life.

Lower Mine Kill Falls  ©2014 Becca of MGP&D

Lower Mine Kill Falls ©2014 Becca of MGP&D

Joy Rushes Upon a Slick Ledge BW ©2014 Becca for MGP&D

Joy Rushes Upon a Slick Ledge BW ©2014 Becca for MGP&D

A GIG

Over the last year, I have been blessed with intriguing creative assignments from several clients. I call these “gigs”.  The latest gig is periodically documenting, through photos, the weather for an online magazine.  This week, beginning on the Twelfth day of Christmas, I took the assignment very seriously, and decided to showcase the amazing water in the region through “The Seven Days of Waterfalls”  We are at Day 5, and I am particularly in love with the image below that I captured today. Notice the slowed down, veil-like movement of the water.  Now take a moment to drink in the beauty of the mountains.

Un-named Falls around the Bend, ©2014 MGP&D for Upstate Dispatch.

Un-named Falls around the Bend, ©2014 MGP&D for UD.

To all my family, friends, and fellow bloggers, may you have a peace-filled, joyous year to come.

Snow Melts |  Water Falls | Writing Soothes | Photography Inspires

DYING FOR THE LOVE OF PICTURES & WORDS

Uncategorized

VW with camera on mountain large_6886

The world is a mess. The 13th anniversary of the scariest day of my generation is looming. We live in a time of multiple wars, a time when journalists die for, not religion, or patriotism, or family. They die for, and as a result of: their passion.

Their passion became their job, and they literally lose their head for it.

They are compelled to document, with their pen and camera, what is happening in a war-torn country worlds away from their own country, their own comfort zone. They are compelled to go to the most dangerous place a journalist can work, a place where their predecessors have already been kidnapped and killed, so they can witness and record the crisis of humanity that is happening in Syria.

Why?  Why the risk of losing everything?  Is it worth it, to capture the fleeting moments none of us would ever see if it wasn’t for their cameras?  To capture the beauty and the horror of the world they have traveled to?  Is it worth it to capture the truth of what is happening, separate from mainstream media (many of these journalists are free-lancers) and attempt to share it with the world?

To them, yes.  And I get it.  Though I am not a journalist.  Yet I do share the same desire to scoop up a moment in time with my lens, hold onto it for eternity, and share it with anyone that will look.  Behind the camera, nothing can touch me.  My mind empties of all the stress of life, as I grasp at the images I see, and try and make it so you can see what I see.

I also share the journalist’s same drive to write, with the belief that writing is cleansing, and influential, and meaningful.  It is effective, moving, motivating. Writing helps make sense of the non-sensical. Writing is a purification process, filtering facts and fantasy.

And I am free.  Free to write.  Free behind my camera.  No fear of capture, beheading, or death at the hands of a terrorist.

Yet so many times, I find I censor myself for fear of what others think!  Let’s put this on an imaginary scale. The fear of death, as compared to the fear of what others think.  Which do you think should be heavier?

WV-windmills-sunset-with-text

So for all the men and women who have died too early, before they had written all they had to write, persecuted for the truth of their words and photographs, I say this:

Thank you. You amaze and inspire me to write as long as I am alive. To appreciate every moment behind the lens. Your death reminds me to not take for granted our days, to not waste an hour, to never silence ourselves. To not let anyone else silence us. To be courageous when faced with something as horrific as a terrorist, or as seemingly small as a naysayer. 

So go forth, pursue your passion like it’s your last day on earth.

boy and ax_1347
Boy and Ax.
A Sincere Thank You to our First Responders Everywhere.