5’s, A Photograph

“Even when she had to make some one a present of the kind called ‘useful,’ when she had to give an armchair or some table-silver or a walking-stick, she would choose ‘antiques,’ as though their long desuetude had effaced from them any semblance of utility and fitted them rather to instruct us in the lives of the men of other days than to serve the common requirements of our own.”
― Marcel Proust

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dear Sir, A Photograph of Solitude

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“Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away… and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast…. be happy about your growth, in which of course you can’t take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don’t torment them with your doubts and don’t frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn’t be able to comprehend. […] who are afraid of the aloneness that you trust…. and don’t expect any understanding; but believe in a love that is being stored up for you like an inheritance, and have faith that in this love there is a strength and a blessing so large that you can travel as far as you wish without having to step outside it.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Piecework, A Photograph of Life

“It was piecework, and she was apt to have a family to keep alive; and stern and ruthless economic laws had arranged it that she could only do this by working just as she did, with all her soul upon her work, and with never an instant for a glance at the well-dressed ladies and gentlemen who came to stare at her, as at some wild beast in a menagerie.”
– Upton Sinclair

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What IS, A Photograph of the Mysterious

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious – the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science.”
– Albert Einstein

I took this photo in a garden grotto – while exploring its caves. I like that nature has made the bold statement of “IS.”

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Providence, A Photograph of Childhood

“We plan our lives according to a dream that came to us in our childhood, and we find that life alters our plans. And yet, at the end, from a rare height, we also see that our dream was our fate. It’s just that providence had other ideas as to how we would get there. Destiny plans a different route, or turns the dream around, as if it were a riddle, and fulfills the dream in ways we couldn’t have expected.”
– Ben Okri, Author, Poet

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Free, A Photograph and Poem

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We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love’s light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

– Maya Angelou

 

Musician, A Photograph of Life

“He had a theory that musicians are incredibly complex, and know far less than other artists what they want and what they are; that they puzzle themselves as well as their friends; that their psychology is a modern development, and has not yet been understood.”
– E.M. Forster

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Something True, A Photograph of France

“if you wanted to do something absolutely honest, something true, it always turned out to be a thing that had to be done alone.”
– Richard Yates

I leave Europe in a few days, although take with me wonderful new experiences and a few new friends. I’ll return soon, no doubt. Eventually I’ll just move here I’m sure. However for now, it’s time I go back to my daily life instead of photographing the daily lives of others (which I love so much.)

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Mary

This morning, while sitting at the kitchen table having a coffee and working on an upcoming article about yoga, a strange man came into the kitchen to make himself coffee. I wasn’t startled though. I knew he was also a guest of Mary. He politely introduced himself and shook my hand. Severio, a journalist from Florence, was visiting Verona to write a piece on the reactions of young fans to a famous musician giving a concert at the arena last night.

Severio left soon after our conversation and Mary and I ventured out for a bit of shopping and lunch. The weather today was perfect. Not too hot, not too cold – just plain perfect (a word I rarely use – perfect) Mary, like me, loves to walk, shop and explore. I met Mary by chance while visiting her yoga studio during my last visit to Verona. We became fast friends and when she invited me for a visit, it was much-needed. She’s Sicilian, so extremely open, friendly and warm. Before entering the world of yoga, Mary was a freelance writer for Cosmopolitan Magazine, covering fashion and the runway in Milan.

These days, when not teaching yoga she runs a bed & breakfast – hence the strange people coming and going. The job is perfect for Mary. For every ounce of me that’s introverted, there are ten ounces of Mary that are extroverted. Although we are very different, we’re also very much the same with regards to our yogic path and introspective nature so we gel nicely, know when to say, “Okay, I’ll see you later, I need some alone time” and generally respect one another.

When we got home later in the afternoon she went to take a nap and I went back to writing. The doorbell rang and soon the kitchen was full again with guests. Ken and Jennifer, an older gent and his adult daughter were also traveling through Verona. They came from Dublin, Ireland and with them brought smoked salmon and black pudding as gifts. We chatted in the little, but full kitchen for quite some time before they were on their way as well.

I’m finding that the Bed & Breakfast/Yoga Studio Mary has is a bustling energetic ball in little Verona. I don’t mind at all. Although I’m sure when I leave for France Saturday afternoon I’ll be needing the quiet of the car and countryside, but for now I’m enjoying all the different cultures, the company and Mary. In fact, maybe the quiet will be too much after all the bustling.

This evening after our aperitif I left her to take a long walk and photograph the river before the sunset. There was a strong smell of jasmine in the air as it’s blooming everywhere, as well as exhaust from all the scooters rushing home after work. Crossing the Ponte Scaligero I came across the man in the photo below. I smiled thinking about Mary hitting me on the arm today, getting my attention, telling me to quit looking at all the architecture. “The monuments and building will always be there, Jennifer, but the beautiful men you are ignoring won’t be.”

So this photo of a man and his hounds resting by the monument, Ponte Scaligero, is dedicated to my friend, Mary – so I can show her that today I looked at a man.
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Together, A Photograph

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You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
– Kahil Gibran

Luxury, A Photograph of Mexico

“Rather than a tale of greed, the history of luxury could more accurately be read as a record of emotional trauma. It is the legacy of those who have felt pressured by the disdain of others to add an extraordinary amount to their bare selves in order to signal that they too may lay a claim to love.”
― Alain de Botton
Hotel, Jennifer Allison

Real, A Photograph of Italy

“You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
– Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
Time, Jennifer Allison