Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Farewell for Now

I've been among the missing since the weekend, and soon I'll be gone for an indefinite time. Unfortunately my world came crashing down and left me no alternative but to leave Newport to live with my family in other parts until I can get on my feet again.

This weekend found me with no money and no food. Yes, I know many of you thought I had a wonderful job. Unfortunately that was a fairytale I created to keep from having to leave Newport. I'd painted myself into a corner and karma came and got me there. I was in a state of depression and anxiety, and suicidal. My sister talked to me on the phone and with her help I made it to the hospital and checked myself in. I was released earlier today, my brother has come up, and together we're packing up preliminary stuff to leave for Pennsylvania tomorrow (Thursday, 10/28). All the family will be coming back up on Thanksgiving weekend to do the final pack-up and close the apartment.

Most of you know how tough it will be for me to leave the place I consider my spiritual home. Unfortunately I have no other alternative; if I intend to stay alive, I have to leave. Which brings me to my online presence - blog,, and Facebook. I don't know when I'll be able to get back online again. There's probably gonna be a long silence, but be assured that I intend to be back, hopefully in time for Yule/Christmas. It won't be Newport, but you know I have to take pictures and show them to people, and you know my camera goes everywhere with me. But as I told some friends here in town today, it has now become my life's goal to come back to this place that is the center of my universe.

In the meantime, watch your feed notices for the day I come back. You can leave a comment if you like, but know that I may not see it for a while. I'm going to have to pack up the computer before I go to bed tonight.

Au revoir, y'all. I'll see you again as soon as I can.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I know I've talked about this before, but it's worth repeating: The area encompassing Ballard Park and Gooseneck Cove is my spiritual home. It's the center of my universe, the place where my soul finds rest. And when the time comes, it will be where my soul goes home to; I've left instructions that when I die I want my ashes scattered there, some in the Quaking Aspen grove in the Quarry Meadow in Ballard Park, and the rest in Gooseneck Cove at Hazard Rd.

I know, that sounds maudlin and even morbid, but Autumn always triggers this sort of instinctive "homecoming" feeling in me. It's when I wrap my world around me like a warm, comforting security blanket. So here's yet another tribute to my "crust of earth".

And Paul Robeson singing the old spiritual "Going Home" (Dvorak's setting) is the perfect cap to this post. Enjoy!

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thursday Morning

Some sights seen on my morning stroll.

Bittersweet berry wreath on Division St.

Trinity Church's annual "Pumpkin Patch".

Autumnal display on a front stoop on Thomas St.

An ivied wall on Cliff Ave. Common Ivy is an evergreen, but Boston Ivy (actually in the Grape family rather than the Ivy family) is deciduous and changes color in the Fall. It makes a great contrast, doesn't it?

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sight & Sound - Homeward Bound

My street seen from in front of my house as I arrived home this evening.

© Photo © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Beach in the Morning

I popped down to the beach this morning, and a short stretch of the Cliff Walk.

The Newport shoreline from Easton's Beach

Sanderlings feeding

Ring-billed Gulls

A female Cardinal chowing down on Multiflora Rose hips on the Cliff Walk

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wandering with Purpose

Today was errands day, it was another gorgeous, knock-yer-eyes-out Fall day, and I had my camera along. These shots are all in the harbor area.

I've never seen a porcelain bird house before!

Looking up Long Wharf to Washington Square and downtown.

Anybody want to take a 3-hour tour? Yup, the boat's name really is Minnow (see inset).

A garden on Brown and Howard Wharf.

One of my favorite doorways on lower Thames St.

A store sign on a colonial house at Thames and Young Streets.

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, October 17, 2010

All Over the Place on Sunday

We're back to a regular schedule on the biweekly Sunday bird walks; Jay Manning, our Fearless Leader, is back now that his ruptured Achilles tendon has healed. We were back out at Sisson's and St. Mary's Ponds this week (where Mark and I went last Sunday on our own) and saw cruising Northern Harrier hawks, American Black and Ruddy Ducks, Green-winged Teal, a Cooper's and a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a couple of Northern Flickers, a ton of Robins, and a lot of small Fall and Winter Sparrows. I didn't get any bird shots, but I got the following shots of the environs: (top to bottom) the shore of Sisson's Pond; some of the the bird walk gang (the rest were behind me); and the fields and woods between Sisson's and St. Mary's Ponds.

Back into Newport, and I made a beeline for Ballard Park and Gooseneck Cove. The park still isn't doing much overt Fall color; the only things really changing color are the Devil's Walking Stick trees and the Virginia Creeper vines. The view from the Joseph Cotton Overlook, over the swamp looking toward Brenton Rd., is showing great promise, though. Here are some shots: (top to bottom) two views from the Joseph Cotton Overlook; Devil's Walkingstick (Aralia spinosa) leaves; Virginia Creeper leaves.

Gooseneck Cove, on the other hand, gets more colorful by the day.

On the way home I stumbled across this patch of Swamp Aster.

And that was my Sunday!

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Iron, Stone, and Wood

Some gates and stone walls.

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Friday, October 15, 2010

Theme Thursday - Knot

Knot is a tough theme, but an idea struck me last night, and I took some quick shots this morning,

A handwoven hemp fiber belt, the strap for my djembe drum. And what is weaving but the artistic tying of knots?

The dream-catcher over my bed.

Music videos didn't promise to be all that easy, either, but when I fed "knot" into YouTube's search engine, this song "Knots" by the British band Pete and the Pirates was right up near the top of the list. Great sound! they remind me of some of the bands that were around in the early '80s.

Then a little farther down the list I found that the classic progressive rock band Gentle Giant did a song called "Kmots", too, from their 1972 album Octopus. Since there's nothing in the lyrics having anything to do with knots, I'm figuring the name of the song comes from the interweaving of the lyric and melodic threads. Definitely an interesting song, as was most of Gentle giant's work.

But believe it or not, the very first song that popped into my head when I saw this week's theme was the Allman Brothers Band classic "Whipping Post". Why? Because of the chorus: "Because I'm tied to the whipping post..." Well, when you're tied to something, knots are what are tied to hold you there, right? Besides, it's the perfect excuse to post one of the best rock songs ever!

Don't forget to visit the other entries in this week's Theme Thursday!

Photos & text © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Autumn Leaves (and Acorns)

Newport is still mostly green, but we're getting a little more color every day.

And here's Eva Cassidy to sing about it:

Photos © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Autumnal Stones

Samhain is coming!

And as an extra treat... Today is Paul Simon's birthday! Can you believe the man is actually 69? I was listening to Simon & Garfunkel records in junior high, fer pete's sake! Anyhow, I thought I'd get nostalgic, and instead of posting one of Paul's post S&G tunes I thought I'd go with my very favorite old Simon & Garfunkel tunes from the Bookends album: "America". Whenever my feet start to itch with the urge to go somewhere, this is always the song that runs in my head! Happy Birthday, Paul!

Photos & text © 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Beautiful Fall Day

As promised yesterday, I went down to my spiritual home today. It's been a beautiful day - cool (but not as cool as yesterday), dry, sunny with a slight skim of clouds overhead (we're getting rained on tomorrow), and a nice breeze. Gooseneck Cove showed its autumnal best in these conditions.

Ballard Park is a different story, though. The Fall Asters are starting to fade, but the leaf colors aren't coming in to take their place quite yet. I guess that's another effect to chalk up to this year's weird weather. Still, all was not lost; I climbed the path to the top of the Quarry rim and got this shot looking toward the ocean, overlooking the Gooseneck Cove watershed. Nice view, huh?

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday Bird Walk - Somewhere Else

Today wasn't the official Sunday bird walk; that was last Sunday, but officially it was called off because the Norman Bird Sanctuary, where we start from, was having its annual Harvest Fair. My friend Mark (who has been leading the walks since our usual guide Jay Manning ruptured his achilles tendon in August) and I had planned to do our own thing, but he had family come visit, so we postponed to today. And today we decided to go to a place Jay likes to go - the fields around Sisson's and St. Mary's Ponds in Portsmouth, and an extra trip just down the road to the fields and woods behind Newport Vineyards and Winery. The fields are great because they host a wide variety of Winter Sparrows (White-throated, Vesper, Savannah, Sharp-tailed, and others) and Hawks, and the ponds are home to an equally wide variety of Winter waterfowl.

There was lots to see today. Lots of Hawks - we're in the midst of the Fall hawk migration, and we saw 3 or 4 Northern Harriers in different places, 2 Ospreys cruising over the ponds, 3 Redtail Hawks cruising over Newport Vineyards, a Merlin and a Sharp-shinned Hawk in the fields around Sisson's and St. Mary's, and a Cooper's Hawk in the fields behind the vineyards. The fields around Sisson's and St. Mary's were full of Sparrows and, oddly enough, Fall Warblers; the ponds featured some American Widgeons and a ton of Ruddy Ducks, along with a steadily-growing population of Canada Geese. Most of all of this was out of camera range, but I did manage to get some usable shots.

This Osprey caught his breakfast in Sisson's Pond and retreated to the nearest utility pole to chow down.

A White-throated Sparrow in the Sisson's & St. Mary's fields.

A Palm Warbler in the Sisson's & St. Mary's fields.

One of about four immature Black-bellied Plovers on the shore of St. Mary's Pond.

An American Coot on Sisson's Pond.

There's a 3-foot Alligator living in Sisson's Pond, obviously one of those little pets that somebody dumped when it got too big. This is one of the traps set out to catch it. We kept a close eye on Mark's little terrier Leo while we were in this area!

The view across the fields behind Newport Vineyards toward Albro Woods. Fall is painting this area, too.

Tomorrow I'll be going down to Ballard Park and Gooseneck Cove, so you won't miss your weekly dose of my spiritual home!

© 2010 by A. Roy Hilbinger