Friday Five

1. Weekly photo challenge. I usually don’t participate in the photo challenge because I’m a terrible photographer. Look no further than this blog as evidence of that. But I enjoy looking through real photographers’ interpretations of the week’s theme.

Last week was love. I immediately thought of this photo I took of a father and his two daughters in the Cinque Terre – Monterosso, Italy. This pic is so old it was taken with film. Remember that stuff? The stone resting on the father’s heart is almost poetic.

Family on the beach

2. Winter Light. There is something so beautiful about the way the light falls across the buildings in the winter. It’s something The farther north you go, the more pronounced the colors and shadows. Even the clouds pick up the subtle  Some kind of payback for facing down howling winds and frigid temperatures for three months.  Here are a few pics from the past week. See caveat above about my photography skills. Or lack thereof. But I couldn’t resist sharing them. I hope this does it justice.

Office view

Winter light _ sky

Winter light _ church

Winter light _brownstones

Winter light _ bench


The Mermaid Collector, by Erika Marks

3. The Mermaid Collector, by Erika Marks. I’m a sucker for a story that grounds itself in the history of a place, bringing the past to bear on the present. The Mermaid Collector does just that, interweaving the tragic tale of Lydia and Linus more than a century ago with modern day Tess Patterson, a woodcarver commissioned to sculpt a mermaid for the upcoming Mermaid Festival.

Each August, the small, coastal town of Cradle Harbor, Maine, gears up for an extravaganza of all things mermaid in honor of the Mermaid Mutiny legend. I was drawn in by the setting of Cradle Harbor, which becomes another character. I can’t imagine the story taking place anywhere else — a testament to the confidence of the author, Erika Marks. Another author might have overwhelmed the story with facts and historical research, but she picks just the right details, letting the reader use her own imagination.

There are many threads to The Mermaid Collector, but to me, the heart of the story is the connection between Tess and newcomer Tom Grace. Tom has mysteriously inherited the lighthouse, leaving the townspeople to wonder what he intends to do with it. Only Tess’s step-father knows the truth. I enjoyed all of the characters in the story – too many to list here — they were interesting and complex, but I never lost track of them or felt any were superfluous. If you’re looking for a book with a little bit of history, a little bit of romance and a lot of layers, this is a great choice.

Have you heard any legends about mermaids? Do you have a fascination with lighthouses?

4. A new kind of personal ad. On a lamppost in the Village.

Nerd Seeking Nerd

5. Did U Know… Some bow whales living near coastal Alaska are 200 years old.  A few of you were as amazed as I was about that after a mention in a previous Friday Five. (Cocktail party tidbit: They aren’t the oldest living things on earth. Not by a long shot.  These are. )

Then I stumbled on this short video from National Geographic. This guy (the whale, not the man) may have been alive at the same time as Thomas Jefferson.

Have a great weekend everyone!



  1. I beg to differ that you’re a terrible photographer! I love the second last photo under #2 – looking down the row of houses. And that was taken with an iPhone!

    Also liked your “love” photo. Maybe you should “officially” join the weekly photo challenge?


    1. Aren’t you sweet Lisa! When my photos grow up, they aspire to be your photos. 🙂
      I took all of these pics with my iPhone, believe it or not. (Except for the “love” photo which is so old it was on film.)

      I see this week’s photo theme is “unique” – you know I have almost the exact photo of the red tulip in that post. 🙂


      1. I’ve come to realise that it’s not “all about the camera”. I know people who have fancy equipment (because they have the money to buy it), but still don’t take good photos.

        For me, composition is key. The other technical stuff (like lighting) can be learnt. I do think you have the “eye” for a good photo – you should just develop it more. There are some excellent guides to help, if you have the time and inclination.


      2. That’s a great point, Lisa. I’m most interested in the composition of a shot. I have read a few books about it and I’d love to take a class sometime. Digital photography has helped a lot. In the photo of the family, I’d cut off the father’s feet, but with a film camera I didn’t realize it until the photos were developed. Do you have any books / sites you’d suggest?


  2. I LOVE your photos! And I loved Erika’s book too. I keep thinking that maybe just maybe I’ll see a mermaid (living on the coast of Maine and all, I would think that SHOULD happen…right?). And the father daughter photo is so sweet.


    1. Each summer Coney Island hosts a Mermaid Parade. Everyone comes dressed like their favorite sea creature. There are plenty of mermaids and mermen, some Poseidons, a few lobsters, clams, and sea nymphs. And lots and lots of bare skin.

      I kept thinking about it when I was reading about the Mermaid Festival in Erika’s book. A bit different than the festival in her book though… 🙂


  3. What wonderful food for thought … all of it (and don’t be so hard on yourself about photography. I think you’re right — it’s about putting a personal lens to life!)l Got a good chuckle out of “Nerd Seeking Nerd,” and really fascinated by the whales that were around when Jefferson was! Wow. Have a great weekend!


  4. You’re not a terrible photographer at all! That shot of the brownstones is stellar.

    Yes, I remember film–just got a roll developed after it was in the camera for 15 years. Would you believe they actually turned out?


    1. Coming from you, I take that as a big compliment! Thank you very much.

      You know, I was cleaning out a closet recently and found an old camera with film still in it. I was planning to get that developed just to see – I have no idea what could be on that roll. Now, if I can only find a film developer…


  5. I’m in love with the picture of the father relaxing with his daughters. What a treasure!
    You sell yourself short, Jackie. You’re a wonderful photographer.
    By the way, it looks like the “Like” buttons are out of order today or I would have clicked it. Great post!


  6. You always post the BEST videos, Jackie. It was so touching, how emotional he felt about an ecosystem he obviously loves deeply. Amazing how old whales can live to be…I had no idea! And to think what Japan does to them (I saw a video of a whaling ship in action, and it gave me nightmares.)
    Your photos put me right into a mood…love that light, especially the photo of all the city buildings – I could just feel what how that light feels. Made me want to be there!


    1. The light in the winter has a tangible quality to it, yet it’s so soft and lengthening – just beautiful. I never noticed this when I lived in the South. I don’t think the light changed too much there to register in my mind. Does it change much in AZ, maybe at the higher elevations?

      I’m so glad that you liked the video. I was so touched when the guy got a bit choked up. Clearly this is his life’s work. I’ve seen the clips of the dolphins in Japan and it’s absolutely heart wrenching.

      I hope you’re having a great weekend!


  7. I had no idea that whales lived so long–how fascinating. I know that the the giant turtles in the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador live for hundreds of years. Can’t wait to see them!

    Also, I LOVE the photos–especially the one of father and daughters. The stone, espcially! What a special image!

    Hope you and Reggie are enjoying a wonderul NY weekend!



    1. I agree – a strong sense of place and history helps to ground me in a story. I feel I can get to know the characters better if I know something about the world they’re living in. It makes me feel more connected to them.

      Hope you had a great weekend!


  8. Gotta love the nerd poster. I’m a history nerd and I’m proud of it. Only wish I had a sword and any type of sword skills. Alas, I need to find a different kind of nerd. By the way, I’m wearing a T-shirt with a quote from Ben Franklin: Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. See–I’m a nerd!


    1. I’m a bit of a history nerd also, though I’m more fascinated by what the average people’s daily lives were like, rather than high level political maneuverings.
      I love that Ben Franklin quote (and I would totally wear that t-shirt!). I’d change it slightly: Guacamole is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. 🙂


      1. It’s just a degree in early 20th European history, but my concentration was WWII and how normal people survived. Read lots of diaries and such. Novels are a great source as well.


  9. Jackie, you sweetheart! I have been offline and on the road and came home late last night to find this–thank you so much. You know how much your generous reviews mean to me. I was actually in CT and saw a dusting of snow during my brief time there and tried to summon my Maine roots to keep me warm–no luck!;)


    1. It’s absolutely my pleasure. What a wonderful story you’ve told. Whenever I read I book I enjoy, I love to share it. Have you read anything lately that you’d recommend?

      I hope you’ve had a chance to thaw out!


      1. Yes! I got sucked right into CASCADE! If you haven’t read it yet, I’d recommend it.

        (And I have indeed thawed out–we’ve been so fortunate here in NC, Jackie. Warm days, chilly nights–I won’t complain!!)


  10. You are far too tough on your photography skills, Ms. C…
    you have a wonderful eye…
    which is the most important tool, I think, anyway.
    Of course expensive equipment is probably pretty fun, too.


  11. Don’t sell yourself short 😉 Your pictures are fantastic. The one of the father with his daughters is a really great one for “love”.

    I giggled @ the personal ad.

    As for lighthouses, I was once locked in one with “The Devil.”


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