Silent Sunday: Violet Ray

close up of a purple crocus flower half open
macro shot of a purple crocus flower

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/3.5 – 1/500 s – ISO 160, f/3.5 – 1/320 s – ISO 160 and f/3.5 – 1/125 s – ISO 200.

Silent Sunday

Lens-Artist Weekly Photo Challenge #138: Natural Light

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Wordless Wednesday: Renewal

macro shot of purple crocus sprouting
macro shot of purple crocus sprouting

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/3.5 – 1/100 s – ISO 320, f/3.5 – 1/100 s – ISO 100 and f/3.5 – 1/80 s – ISO 100.

Wordless Wednesday

Dutch Goes the Photo Tuesday Photo Challenge: Renewal

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Silent Sunday: Snow Flowers

macro of snow-covered pink escallonia flowers
macro of white and lilac hebe flowers covered in snow

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/3.5 – 1/80 s – ISO 160, f/3.5 – 1/125 s – ISO 160 and f/3.5 – 1/125 s – ISO 125.

Silent Sunday

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Wordless Wednesday: A Dash of Dazzle

a goldfinch munching on lavender seed heads in Winter
a goldfinch eating lavender seed heads in Winter

Lavender has a lovely scent and it provides food for bees and other insects from Spring to late Summer. We leave the lavender stems after flowering so that Goldfinches can feed on the seed heads in Winter. It’s a delight to see these lovely birds in the garden at this time of year.

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Canon Powershot SX60 HS, Settings: f/6.3 – 1/60 s – ISO 800, f/6.5 – 1/80 s – ISO 1000 and f/6.5 – 1/50 s – ISO 800.

Wordless Wednesday

Word of the Day Challenge: Dazzling

Looking Back at 2020: Thank you for the Love

The year began full of promise and we had a new pair of swans moving into the river before any of us had heard of Covid-19. Two days into Spring we went into lockdown and travel restrictions weren’t lifted until early July.

Many of us had to find new ways of working and being and I want to thank all of you who shine a light and are an inspiration to others.

The emphasis this year was on collaboration and I contributed forty-eight poems to a variety of journals, videos, anthologies and works of art.

My heartfelt gratitude for all our readers who read, comment and share our posts on social media. Below are the ones you liked best, together with some other highlights from each season.

redshank snoozing and sunning on tidal sands

We went into full lockdown on 23 March 2020 and focused on the beauty found in our local environment. In late Spring we revisited, virtually, a lovely fishing village we had travelled to the previous December in The Pier at Findochty. This was the most popular post in Spring and would become the most popular post of the year.

The other most popular posts in Spring were Lily of the Valley, Pink Flow, Lunaria Annua, Little Blue Flower and Yellow Curve.

Spring also saw haiku poets from around the world contribute to EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2020 in honour of the Year of the Nurse. I contributed six haiku to this collaboration, two of which were later anthologised.

macro shot of a bumble bee feeding on lavender, seen from behind

Travel restrictions were lifted at the beginning of July and the Highlands were crowded with tourists from other parts of the country. We waited for everything to settle and did more virtual travelling, this time to Belfast, in order to pay homage to one of the teachers who inspired me in A Moment of Inspiration.

The other five most popular posts in the Summer were Angel’s Share, Morning Glory, Earthlight, Sweet Inspiration and Summer Meadow.

Summer also saw me guest-host the Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge on the theme of Sanctuary.

two swans with three young cygnets on the river

In Autumn we entered a Tier system according to the number of Covid-19 infections and people from higher tiers were prevented from travelling to lower tiers. This resulted in a huge reduction of tourists and we could walk more safely throughout the Highlands, which was in Tier 1, without running into visitors from high Covid areas.

The most popular posts in Autumn were Truly Tranquil, Walking Wonderland, Starlings on the Roof, Highland Heather, Along the Loch Shore and Harvest Moon.

Autumn also saw the publication of The Helping Hand Haiku Anthology, edited by Robert Epstein, which includes three of my poems, Bundled Wildflowers, edited by Bryan Rickert, which includes one of my poems and the Dutch anthology Aan het Woord 2020, edited by Ferre Denis, Maria de Bie and Nol Hovens, which includes three of my poems. In addition, one new poem was featured in the Haiku-kantelkalender (Haiku Calendar) 2021, edited by Ferre Denis. Falling Petals received an honourable mention in the International Section of the 2020 Haiku Invitational at the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival and ten haiku were featured in the World Haiku Series with Japanese Translations by Mr Hidenori Hiruta.

a red squirrel on a wooden squirrel feeder in a pine tree

After a busy Autumn we stayed closer to home as Winter rolled in and the temperatures dropped. It became a time for Christmas socials via Zoom and catching up with friends at a safe social distance.

The most popular posts in Winter were Treasures, The Name of the Flower, Making Lemonade, All Souls’ Night, Lines at Dusk and When Winter Melts Away.

Winter also saw forty of my images published in Frameless Sky Issue 13 where I was the Featured Artist and the release of the beautiful anthology Dance Into the Light, edited by Michael Dylan Welch, featuring one of my poems.

A very big thank you to the editors and publishers who featured my work throughout the year.

seagulls feeding in the surf

This has been a year like no other and we sadly lost a number of friends and members of our writing community to Covid-19 and to cancer without being able to say goodbye in the way we normally would.

It has also been a year of growing and connecting in new ways and of communities coming together.

A huge thank you to Frank, Kristjaan, Misky, Ronovan and the team at dVerse Poets for your inspiring poetry prompts, to Brian, Christine, Emily, Heather, Katherine, Ping, Punam, Kristian and Sheryl for your wonderful word prompts and to Becca, Cee, Jez, Lisa, Paula, Sue & Gerry, Terri and Amy, Ann-Christine, Patti & Tina for your fabulous photographic prompts.

We leave with you a song by Show of Hands that seems fitting for our times:

Thank you again for the love and we wish you all a blessed, healthy and happy 2021.

With love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Your Daily Word Prompt: Tidings

Word of the Day Challenge: Wishes

Sunday Stills: Your 2020 Retrospective

Wordless Wednesday: Highland Heather

a clear mountain stream with heather and pine
purple heather in bloom with a golden fern

We are taking a short blogging break to make the most of the fine autumn weather and will be back next Wednesday.

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Settings: f/4 – 1/160 s – ISO 200, f/4 – 1/125 s – ISO 100 and f/5.6 – 1/250 s – ISO 160.

Wordless Wednesday

Jez Braithwaite’s Fan Of … #79

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Silent Sunday: Sunlit Roses

macro shot of a coral and pink rose
close-up shot of a coral and pink rose in the evening sun

Wishing you all a blessed Sunday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/3.5 – 1/800 s – ISO 100, f/3.5 – 1/2000 s – ISO 160 and f/3.5 – 1/640 s – ISO 100.

Silent Sunday

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Sue’s Weekly Prompt: Weekend Challenge – Flower Power

Word of the Day Challenge: Garden

Creative Collaborations

Tina is inviting us to share examples of how we channelled our creative energies these past few months as the pandemic restricted our movements.

The theme that pops up on both my blogs throughout this period is one of creative collaboration and community.

a calm blue sea under a blue sky with blue mountains

Sadly, within the first week of lockdown, fellow poet Stuart Quine lost his life to Covid-19. I love his poems, especially his monoku (a haiku written in one line) and even though I did not know him personally I felt compelled to create a tribute post, pairing three of his poems with images I had taken the previous day: A Tribute to Stuart Quine (1962-2020).

An estranged family member was alerted to my post by a friend and contacted me. She did not know Stuart had passed away and was not aware of his beautiful poetry either. I was able to provide her with links to poetry journals his work is featured in as well as the publisher of his full-length collections.

macro shot of a red tulip with green veins

The Haiku Foundation invited haiku poets from around the world to contribute to a collaborative poem to celebrate and honour The Year of the Nurse. It was a beautiful project to be part of and I created six new poems, later posting three of them on Tranature: EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2020 and three on Whippet Wisdom: EarthRise Rolling Haiku Collaboration 2020.

The Tanka Society of America invited poets to create a taiga (a photograph, caligraphy or artwork paired with a tanka poem) in celebration of their 20th anniversary and Zen Meditation was one of twenty-one featured. All contributions were later combined with music into a short video:

We sadly lost Susan Hey (1979-2020), a much-loved local art teacher and member of our community when we were still in part-lockdown and funerals were private with restricted numbers. The small procession travelled through our town and gave the rest of us an opportunity to say goodbye. I wrote and posted Final Journey, a tribute poem to Susan. One of her art students later posted a video of herself singing a beautiful tribute song and others created pieces of rainbow art which they left by the family’s front door. Together we wanted to let the family know that they were not alone and the comments and private messages received in return were truly heart-warming.

picture of a mandala by Mike Booth

Julie Williams, a Highland art student, invited local people to send her photographs of the word hope created out of items found in their homes or on their daily walks for her HOPE Art Project. The idea was that every participant created, through their own artistic expression, a historical record of their hope during the current Covid-19 crisis. You can read more about this project and my contribution in Walking with Hope.

the word Hope written in pebbles on a larger stone

Inspired by a number of collaborative art projects and videos I became curious about producing videos too.

Starting with a story board I gathered images and poems before combining them into haiga (a haiku paired with an image) and taiga (a tanka paired with an image) in Photoshop.

Once the five-mile travel restrictions were lifted, I took the camera to record a number of short video clips that would fit within the story. Then came the search for background music that suited the rhythm of movement in the video clips before weaving everything together in iMovie. The project was completed by reviewing and fine-tuning it with the loving and patient assistance of my husband.

The two videos we made are in the sidebar of the blog and if you haven’t seen them yet, you can view them here too:

Most of our regular readers will be familiar with these projects and it was an interesting exercise to bring them all together and reflect on these special collaborations a little longer.

May you all stay safe and well,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs and videos by Xenia Tran, mandala art by Mike Booth.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #110: Creativity in the Time of Covid

Your Daily Word Prompt: Prevail

Wordless Wednesday: Feeding on Fading Flowers

macro shot of a bumblebee feeding on fading lavender
macro shot of a bumble bee feeding on lavender, seen from behind

Wishing you all a wonderful Wednesday and a peaceful rest of the week,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ200, Settings: f/3.2 – 1/125 s – ISO 100 and f/3.2 – 1/160 s – ISO 100.

Wordless Wednesday

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Wilting or Ageing Flowers or Leaves

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #108: Sanctuary

Create a sanctuary within yourself where you can go anytime you want to
(Shakti Gawain)

an ancient pine overhanging a mountain stream with a wooden bridge behind it

Your sanctuary is your ideal place of relaxation, tranquillity and safety and you can create it exactly as you want it (Shakti Gawain)

Welcome to the Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge, where Patti, Tina, Amy and Ann-Christine kindly invited me to guest-host this week.

Here in the Scottish Highlands we spent more than a hundred days in lockdown where both our home and our community became our sanctuary during the Covid-19 crisis.

We are blessed that we live in a loving home and in a caring community. We have been reaching out to those who are less fortunate, those for whom home is not the safest place to be.

two swans with three young cygnets on the river

These people have been offered sanctuary with another loving family, with extended family members, neighbours, teachers or in solitude.

thistles, wild wheat and grasses in the dunes

Sanctuary can be found and created in a garden, a park, a field of wild flowers and by the sea …

a house sparrow feeding on wild wheat

… watching wildlife, listening to birdsong …

Cairngorms National Park in Summer, a view across Glenmore

… along the forest trails and in the mountains.

This week we invite you to share what Sanctuary means to you, where you find it or how you create your place of calm and healing. In your post, please make sure you include a link to this challenge and use the Lens-Artists tag so we can find your post in the WP Reader.

Last week, you shared your wonderful images of Winter for Ann-Christine’s challenge. Many thanks Ann-Christine for hosting last week’s challenge and to all of you who contributed your amazing images of this beautiful season of snow and contemplation.

Have you seen these?

  • Abrie (Abrie Dink Hardop) takes us on a breath-taking Winter expedition in South Africa and shares a potential front cover for his memoir in Conquering Africa – A Winter Expedition
  • Yan Balczewski (From Hiding to Blogging) shares some beautiful frost flowers in Polar Vortex
  • Rupali (mazeepuran) shows us a magical Norwegian Winter and a poignant sculpture titled ‘Peace is a Promise of the Future’ in Fred er løfte om fremtid

What’s up next week? Stay tuned on 8 August when Amy will be hosting LAPC #109.

Wishing you all a wonderful and creative week ahead and I look forward to your submissions!

With love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #108: Sanctuary

Word of the Day Challenge: Introducing