The moments I may have missed

October has been a full month. Friends have been ailing. My loved ones have had health scares. I’ve been busy at work. I’ve been busy at home, too, as Esteban and I have begun preparing our home for sale. But through it all I’ve tried to pause for a few minutes of stillness and reflection every day. And although none of the resulting photos is a masterpiece, at least I have a record of the moments I may have otherwise missed.

October 1
The kids next door held an epic party. The next morning my neighbor across the alley found a pair of shoes in her pond. All I got was an all-night hip-hop soundtrack, and the time to finally dig into my vacation photos from last May.

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October 9

A flock of wild turkeys ran toward me in the woods. I thought I was about to earn The Most Interesting Obituary of the Year, but it turns out they were just habituated and looking for handouts. We all parted peacefully, if a little disappointed.


October 15

One of my walks around Como Lake coincided with a fundraiser. “There are nearly 700,000 individuals in the U.S. living with this,” read one of the signs. I felt grateful to be one of the lucky ones who is truly living and not merely surviving.

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October 16

After a summer of gorging on our compost, our resident squirrel finally got too corpulent to run away from us. Soon it will be sound asleep, and I’ll miss the thumpa-thumps of its furry Riverdance on our roof in the morning.

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October 17

I decided to sell a bunch of stuff on eBay. I took the pictures, but never listed anything. Oh, well. Maybe next year.

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October 22

Even from a block away I could spot our ash tree’s golden leaves shimmering against the deep-blue fall sky. An hour later I was cursing these same leaves for sticking to the wet paint I’d just put on the garage.


October 23
During a morning walk in my neighborhood I spotted this sign on a business that has survived a market crash, a fire, and Minneapolis’ new zoning laws. I immediately adopted it as my new personal motto.


Also, I paused to admire my city’s beautiful urban canopy — and another rotund squirrel.


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Urban squirrel 1010169 BLOG

October 23

After 30-some years of driving past the Gibbs Farm Museum, I finally went inside. It merits its own post, but here are a couple of teasers.

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October 29

Esteban and I voted. Those may have been our most important 10 minutes of 2016.


October 30

From historic walks to run-ins with rattlesnakes, the tiny town of Frontenac has hosted many wild adventures with my friend Pam. Sunday’s visit was more subdued, in keeping with the season’s muted hues — but still beautiful.

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October 31

I got the results from my annual physical, and it appears my growing girth has brought a rise in blood pressure and cholesterol, too. That means no Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for me this year. Sigh. Happy Halloween anyway.



  1. Thinking of you my friend. Not sure if I missed something but I wasn’t aware that you were moving? Love the squirrels (and your images of them), I will miss Nutty in our garden this winter too. Sending hugs from afar. xoxo

    • Hello dear Rochelle! No, you didn’t miss anything — we’ve been talking for a while about moving into a condo, so we’re doing some painting and small repairs about the place in preparation for when the right opportunity presents itself. It could happen as soon as next year, or in 20! We’re firm believers that “luck favors the prepared,” though, so we’re getting prepared.

      How sweet that you’ve named your squirrel Nutty! We’re far less imaginative over on this side of the pond, having opted merely for “girl squirrel.” Perhaps in the spring things will be less crazy and we’ll make time to give her a proper name. 🙂

      A big hug to you! xoxo

    • Well said as always, Tom: The small pleasure do indeed help mitigate life’s stresses. (As do dinners with friends! 🙂

    • I hadn’t thought of it that way, but you’re probably right that the rodential roly-polyness doesn’t bode well for us. Sigh …

  2. There was a bittersweetness to you pictures and words. Not in a negative way, but in that way that gray days make one a little melancholy and a little “let’s cozy up and have tea.” Thank you for including us in your month.

    • You are so perceptive, Grace: Autumn is indeed bittersweet for me — and this year especially, as so many people I care about are struggling in one way or another. But a bit of melancholy can sometimes make us more receptive to life’s simple gifts, like good conversation over a cup of tea! Thank you for that sweet reminder, and for taking the time to stop by and comment.

  3. The picture of the leaveless tree is breath taking. I’m not sure why I identified so well with it. I’d actually like to save it, and possibly use it with credit to you of course – is this something you’d be okay with?

    • I’m very honored that image spoke to you so much that you’d like to save it! Please do feel free to keep it on your desktop. But — to be consistent with similar requests I’ve received in the past, and fair to my paying clients — please don’t republish or redistribute it. And thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to stop by and leave your kind comment! You made my day.

    • Yessir, busy month. Glad it’s over! Rest assured there will be more to come in November. For starters, I still want to show you some more Freiburg photos! But in the meantime, thank you so much for stopping by, and for the encouraging words.

  4. Hi H – you’re like Samuel Pepys with a camera! There’s a wit and economy to your diary entries that captures human moments in a shutter click of words. Mistress of light and mistress of language!

    I like your bare tree photo – especially the way it’s framed. I like your tubby squirrel, with the Cheshire Cat look in its eyes – was it so tame that it sat and posed for you? It’s like a poster for a Pre-Winter Squirrel Meditation Class.

    I’m struck by the halfway tidiness of the cigarette butts in the bottles on the step – it’s quite a collection of dead smoke. Do people fill the bottles then leave them in situ? Is it illegal to throw cigarette butts on the ground? I’ve never seen such a careful but careless collection in the UK. Keeps the cigarette butts off the ground but makes it a grim task to wash out the bottles for recycling. What will future archaeologists make of them? An offering to the Gods, carefully placed on steps for some religious ceremony?

    What’s the pretty beetle on the ‘Too small to fail’ sign?

    Thank you for taking the time to offer up your personal October so vividly. It felt a privilege to be welcomed into it, in words and pictures. I hope November brings peace and encouragement, to you, your family, your friends and your country.

    All best wishes

    • “Mistress of language”? I think that distinction belongs to YOU, dear Elaine, with your lovely and thoughtful comment as Exhibit A. Thank you for making my week with your kind words!

      Yes, that cheeky squirrel has become comfortable enough with our presence that she lets us practically walk up to her for photo-ops. She’s been that way since she was a youngster — more curious about us than her litter-mates, and less afraid. And although I’ve rewarded her calm presence with the occasional nut, I’ve been careful not to “tame” her *too* much, because not all my neighbors are so tolerant of the wild things.

      As for those cigarette butts … isn’t that a curious habit? The fact that it’s a beer bottle only adds to the aura of “vices on parade,” doesn’t it? For reasons I can’t fathom, it’s perfectly legal here to flick your butts onto the street (or at least I’ve never heard it’s *illegal*), so I think it’s more a question of tidiness. Though, as you point out, it would be a grim task indeed to try to wash that bottle for recycling! Perhaps they have a shelf in the cellar someplace lined with old bottles, and they’re carefully labeled with the dates on which the butts were added. Who knows. If I ever see those people I will inquire for you!

      Oh, and that creature on the “Too small to fail” sign is a box elder bug. No on in Minnesota seems to know what purpose they serve in nature, except to climb up our houses en masse in the fall and stink if we accidentally squish them.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and look, Elaine. I join you in hoping for peace — especially as the US election draws closer. And I wish peace and encouragement to you, too.

      • Awww, H. You are kind. I appreciate the precious truffles of words and photos that you foraged for us, from a month that sounded like a bit of a walk through a shadowy wood for you.

        I feel a bit sorry for the box elder bugs. Because they don’t live here, they just look pretty to me but, Googling them, I see an awful lot of ‘how to get rid of’ posts. I hope the bugs don’t do Google. That would be horribly depressing.

        Thought you might like this:

        All good thoughts and good luck for the election. It’s provided a lot of work for journalists here, and a lot of ‘road trip through America’ jamborees. A small silver lining in a very strange cloud.

        I remember seeing a German documentary film crew on Brighton beach trying to find British people to interview about Brexit. It’s a strange feeling when your country’s choices attract film crews from other countries. Have you been asked questions by BBC reporters? They seem to be everywhere in the central US.

        All best wishes


        • “I hope the bugs don’t do Google. That would be horribly depressing.” Oh, how you make me smile, Elaine! I join you in hoping the bugs don’t catch wind of our plans for their destruction. I don’t mind them as they’re perfectly harmless, but some people find the box elders’ tendency to congregate by the thousands a bit off-putting. I feel the same way about us humans and our stadiums filled with sports fans, though. Ha ha!

          And you’re right that our election has fed a lot of journalists’ families around the world. Sadly, though, the only British “journalists” I’ve encountered lately were working for the Daily Mail — and they didn’t seem the least bit interested in me because I wasn’t wearing a neon pink bikini. That’s OK, though; it’s probably best I not voice my political opinions, because the diatribe that would ensue would be unprintable. 🙂

          Anyway, thank you so much for making my day with your kind comment. All my best to you!

  5. I love those Diary Entries from your Visual Journey through October, H. I’ve recently come to realize that each of our images is just that – an entry in a visual diary that logs our journey as photographers. Somehow that makes our archive so much more important as a record. Good luck with your move, we went through (endured, survived) that ordeal eleven months ago. It doesn’t seem possible that it is eleven months. At times it was hell, but we know now that we made the right decision to move and we are living life a lot more pleasurably and fully (and with less worry and stress) than before.

    • I’ve just seen your latest post in my reader and it seems you’ve embraced the visual diary concept as well (and with quite wonderful effect, I might add!). If nothing else, keeping a visual diary has reminded me that it doesn’t have to be fine art — or even good — to be meaningful. I’ll try to remember that during my next vacation, ha ha.

      As for your move: Congratulations! It’s encouraging to know that others have gone before me and survived. We’ll see if we actually pull it off in the next year (because we have A LOT of junk to get rid of before we can contemplate a condo). But even the contemplation is proving a valuable exercise.

      Thank you so much for stopping by, Andy, and for taking the time to comment.

      • When we moved it was our first move in 32 years, so there was a huge amount of junk to deal with and a lot of ‘stuff’ left behind by a son and daughter who had never got round to dealing with long forgotten possessions. It was a huge task. We down-sized a bit in our move. The next one will be an even bigger down-size, but hopefully that won’t happen for another ten years.

        • I can only imagine the pile of possessions that would accumulate over 32 years — and with two kids, too. Suddenly my 26-year stash doesn’t seem so bad. 🙂 But on the plus side: Isn’t it freeing to pare your life down a bit? Esteban and I had a taste of that in 2013 when our house flooded and we were forced to throw away a sizeable chunk of sodden possessions. But now we’re thinking about moving to a condo so we can do away with the lawn-care and house-repair apparatuses as well. There’s a certain elegance to being able to have your whole life in a couple of small rooms …

    • Thank you for your kind words, Terry. It means a lot coming from you. As for “too small to fail”: It’s a play on the phrase “too big to fail” — the idea that specific businesses are so vital to the U.S. economy that it would be disastrous if they went bankrupt. This phrase became popular during the 2008 market meltdown, when the U.S. government ended up bailing out several large banks to prevent a total collapse of our economy.

  6. I laughed about the part where your friend found shoes in her pond after partytime. Years, years ago there was a wild party a couple houses above us and when the police arrived everyone bolted….. escaping through our yard. We found a vine-entangled keg hidden behind our garden shed the next day, lol! It’s nice to see an entry from you, H. I really enjoy your images and writings. I’m sorry to hear that some of your friends and family have had health problems. I hope they’re doing better.

    • What a kind note, Jason. Thank you for your thoughtful and encouraging words! I’m a little bit jealous that your partiers left you an entire KEG, though. Ours usually leave only empty beer cans and food wrappers. It’s hardly compensation for being awakened at 3 a.m. 🙂 Well, kind sir, I will take your good wishes and pass them on to my friends and family. It’s a tough business, this thing of getting older and getting sick …

    • Isn’t he or she adorable? I love it when they get so roly-poly this time of year (even if a friend recently informed me it means we’re in for a rough winter). Thank you so much for stopping by!

  7. Hehe, that sleepy squirrel is lovely 🙂 it’s a great photo, how did you come across him? The squirrel in my garden never stays still for long, as soon as he sees me he’s out of there!

    • Most of the squirrels in our garden never sit still long enough to make a good photo either — but this particular individual seems to have been born relatively unafraid of us. She often sits on the back porch and suns herself and won’t leave her perch unless we actively shoo her away. (Which we do sometimes, because no one wants a squirrel in their house!) 🙂

  8. Fantastic! Thanks a lot…and so sorry my blog is in Italian…love the picture of the seasons you may have lost..good job!

    • Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate your stopping by! And no apologies needed for writing your blog in Italian. Capisco un po’, quindi va tutto bene. 🙂

  9. I’m relatively new around here, but I really, really love this! Little things can mean so much – if we didn’t miss out on them so often. I was thinking recently and I’m still amazed that in a few years, I’ll be 50! Where on earth did all the years go when I wasn’t looking?
    You just reminded me to learn to slow down now and then, to actually ‘see’ the flowers, and then ‘stop to smell them’. Thank you!

    • Thank you for your kind words … you’ve made my day! I turn 50 in a few months and am also wondering what on earth I’ve been doing with my time, LOL. But I’m trying to use that realization to inform my decisions going forward about spending more time with the people I love and the things I find rewarding. Anyway … thank you so much for stopping by! And here’s to stopping more often to see and smell the roses. 🙂

    • Thank you so much, Caitlin! So kind of you. Here’s hoping November will be just a little more sedate … 🙂 My best to you and Max and Roo!

        • I was painfully self-conscious my first three or four years, but am so glad I kept at it! If nothing else, it’s rewarding to have a little time capsule of your life at a certain point. So I hope you’ll keep at it as well!

  10. Wow… your such an amazing photographer. Im getting my first proper camera for christmas, its a canon powershot and I have tooken some photos already *lol* . Photography is such an amazing art. Im inspired.

    • Congratulations in advance on your new camera, Lyra! You are right that photography is an amazing art — and we are lucky to live in an age when we can so easily share our work and be inspired by the work of others too. Although it can see daunting at first, I encourage you to really dig into your new camera’s manual when you get it. Mastering the technical aspects of your camera will give you much greater control of your results so you’ll be better able to capture the shot you envision. All my best to you, and thank you so much for the kind words!

  11. Thanks for your tips. I am looking for photography competitions for children under 12, but unfortuantly they seem to all be Amarican … I live in the UK. Any suggestions?

    • How wonderful to hear from you, Alys! You’ve made my day with your kind words. And honestly, don’t be too impressed by that following — it’s mostly spammers, as far as I can tell. What I cherish most about blogging is the genuine connections I’ve forged with wonderful people like you. So thank you for stopping by, and for taking the time to comment! You really did make my day …

      • And now you in turn have made my day with your heartfelt reply. I agree: the best part of blogging is what follows after you hit publish. I’ve forged amazing friendships with kindred spirits and have met with several of them in person since starting my blog five years ago. It’s extraordinary. Wishing you all good things in the coming new year, and hoping for all of us that things aren’t a bleak as they currently appear.

  12. Nice story. I seem to have missed a few. Well. I hope your home sale goes well. Judging by the climate in Minesota it’s probably time to head for milder climes? Happy new year. I hope we meet in Paris soon.

    • We hope our home sale goes well too! We would like to live in an apartment because it would be easier to simply lock our door and leave for our travels. But there are so many variables to consider (interest rates, housing market, etc etc) that we will have to wait and see. In the meantime, though, the next focus of my attention is Paris! I will certainly drop you a note when we’re on approach. Happy new year to you and yours, Yann!

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