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Yesterday was my birthday, and I spent the day playing with my new camera!  It’s just a simple point-and-shoot pocket camera, but a world of difference for me.  My old camera was a 2003 vintage, and almost the size and heft of a brick.  The image quality was growing poorer by the shot, too, so even my very limited perfect lighting food shots were beginning to get downright unpleasant to maneuver.

To say the whole world opened to my lens may be an exaggeration, but it didn’t feel like it.  I took hundreds and hundreds of shots of everything in the house: small details in dark rooms, long shots, shots of the insides of things, the textures of the outsides of things. I could never have taken any of these with my old camera.  I shot an exposé of my husband getting dressed, and close-ups of the cats sleeping.  Trash in the garbage bin.  An empty soda bottle from several angles.  Dust on a lamp.  My self portrait series, which I titled “The Aging Birthday Girl at Unflattering Angles First Thing in the Morning with Bird Nest Hair” is surely destined to be an award-winning piece.

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Then I went outside and did a bunch of macros of garden vegetables, pictures of my house, and details of veiny leaves and fuzzy insects.  I could have hung out there all day just taking pictures of bees in the fennel — the sweet licorice smell in the heat of day, busy mumblings of the bees at work against the soundscape of summer yardwork.

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Because of the fennel, I think, bees, wasps, and yellowjackets are all over my garden these days.  I’m not in the least bit afraid of them as they flit and sip and buzz.  They’re not only “beneficial,” as you hear them called, but essential for any fruiting plant’s productivity.  It thrills me to see them cross-pollinating my two tomatillo plants, and rubbing their little legs and backs in the deep, powdery pollen of my zucchini.

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I didn’t do a mason bee (our tiny native pollinators) house this year for lack of time, but I have tons of them, so they’re housing somewhere near by.  My neighbor has a shelter for them on the northeast side of his house, but I think that’s too far away.  Next year in my yard!  But, even homeless, bees spend the day in my garden and made perfect macro camera fodder.  And me a perfectly happy girl.

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In fact, I was so enamored of the bees and ensuing images that I forgot to take pictures of what I meant to photograph, which was details of our birthday grill.  Sorry!  It was delicious, too.  Flatiron kebabs marinated in sumac and yogurt, grilled zucchini from the garden, a Hungarian pepper, cucumber and tomato salad, also from the garden, and grilled bruschettas, rasped with a clove of my neighbor’s garlic, then piled high with more tomato and basil.  For dessert, my favorite sour cherry soup, meggy leves, made this time with local cherries from Hentze farm, a fantastic local Cabernet from Sylvan Ridge and pomegranate juice.  Oops!  You’ll have to trust me that it was excellent.

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It couldn’t have been a better birthday.  Thanks, sweetie, for my new pair of eyes, my new palette, my new world.

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