9 Activities of Daily Loving - pretty much gone

Alzheimer’s steals the recent past , then all past becomes questionable. There is no future, only the present, and that with a fair amount of confusion. I now realize that my mantra of Love in the moment has little meaning without a connection to the past and hope to the future.

The barely recognizable figures at water’s edge on Popham Beach, Maine, a foggy morning in June, reminds me of how it might be to have no past - nothing behind, while at water’s edge, thinking about the tide’s rise -overwhelming - as it will evidently be, not too long beyond the present.

Popham Beach PhaseOne IQ 180 80mm 1/50 sec f14 ISO 35

Eating, Bathing, Dressing, Toileting, Transferring, and maintaining Continence are well know activities of daily living - all eventually taken over by Alzheimer’s. Maybe first to go…. and equally, or more importantly, are the loss of all 9 activities of daily loving - Learning, Serving, Mentoring, Exploring, Relating, Playing, Protecting, and Transferring!

A Sense of Wonder

I spent time in Maine recently - three nights in Rockport at a photo workshop - A Sense of Wonder - and three nights with Patty, the kids and grandkids at Popham beach.

The workshop was great - my first taste of shooting the stars. Popham beach with the family was too short - what a wonderful place. I’m going back some day.

You can view a few of the week’s images at www.mesipe.com under new images to consider for printing.

Pollen Palate PhaseOne IQ 180 1/50 sec f11 ISO 35

I was not enamored with Pollen Palate at first. After a lot of play with it, I fell in love with it. Sometimes the more I play with an image the more I get attached. I’ve heard you can’t judge your own work because you’re too close! Time together gets you thinking - once mediocre, becomes great. Well, what the hell, as long as it turns me on.

Fifty Years to Stardom

It was fifty years ago this summer that my dad gave this young army lieutenant $100 to buy my first camera at the PX in Baden Baden, Germany. I was serving my Quartermaster Corp tour of duty in Worms, about an hour north east. It was the start of my passion for photography - actually, I had a twinge of the passion growing up watching Love that Bob, a tv sitcom about the fun life of Bob Comings, studio photographer with a large format camera… often photographing glamorous models.

My passion for photography grows and yet it took fifty years to take my first images of the stars.

Barrett’s Cove 2, Canon 5D Mark IV 45mm T/S 10 sec f2.8 ISO 6400

Barrett’s Cove 1, Canon 5D Mark IV 45mm T/S 10 sec f2.8 ISO 6400

I owe the notice of loving looking up to my brother Richard, recognizing before I did, that a lot of my favorite images included the horizon as a dominant center of interest.

I am honored that Richard invited me to show sky images for his third book of poems - Smell the Roses, feel the soil/ reach the sky. I will never forget his prodding me to dig deeper and reflect like in a memoir with my image captions. My image reflecting is honed with the process begot by Smell the Roses.. I am excited to see the book in print about the time of Richard’s year mark of passing and my 73 birthday - August 8th - Watch for it’s release - it will be available from Amazon, FriesenPress and me.

The stars have not been an attraction for me - the lighting (lack thereof) has been a turnoff, and late at night, in out of the way places, have been a factor. But oh, what a sight to capture. Because of the required long exposure the camera captures the stars better than our eyes can see - it blows my mind. I am light-years from capturing the image to print large that I envision. I will be working toward an image to print with help from night photography experts Jim Nicholson and Shannon Kalahan.

Looking up - I love it!

Enjoying What Is

The other night I couldn’t find the remote for the TV. Not uncommon - I usually find it within 30 minutes or so - sometimes in places I would never expect. This time was different - I would never find the darn channel changer. The TV was locked on tennis…. maybe for ever more. I went to bed frustrated, angry. I said to myself - let it go, let it go. Tomorrow is another day.

Some how, some way, the morning after was bright - the remote retrieval was no big deal. I went to Xfinity and they gave me a new one…. free, and with a smile. Later in the day we found the old remote, on the field road. Patty found it, saying, what is this? I suspect it fell out of her sweater. I am learning, slowly, to go with the flow.

I am frustrated, not able to work the land when I want to - not just Patty - weather too. Let it go. Let it go. Go with the flow - enjoy what is. I talk to myself as I make incremental progress with living my mantra.

‘Enjoying what is’ says the same as my mantra - love in the moment. Interestingly, saying ‘enjoy what is’ helps me better get it. In other words, being with love, in the moment, means doing my love priorities in the ever changing context of uncontrollable life events.

Anyway, I see the importance of ordering my priorities while enjoying what is, in the here and now.

Richmond Summer Sunrise Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III 1/10 sec f18 ISO 100

ALERT FRIENDS AND FAMILY - Now is the time to visit us at Purple Lark Farm, Walnut Woods, Bilder Photo Studio, or whatever else you want to call us at our Richmond Vermont homestead. We’ve made room for visitors and wish for them. Uncontrollable life events, Alzheimer’s, are more likely than not to result in the loss of total earthly connection to at least one of us, before you know it!

Spring Reflection

On my journey home from a welcome three day Kripalu respite of nature, healthy food, body massage and yoga, my mind is calm enough to catch this gem of an image, after not seeing it’s potential, just three days earlier, on my way to ‘Bountyville’ - my busy mind, cluttered with stuff on my to-do list, missing the moment.

Spring Reflection PhaseOne IQ 180 80mm 1/80 sec f11 ISO 35

I experience stress when I am into a thing that I am getting done on my to-do list and Patty’s Alzheimer’s interrupts. I am learning, the hard way, that loving in the moment - sometimes, means dropping doing a to-do list doing to experience the feeling of the moment. And, with Patty, I fear there are precious few.

When I am able to calm my busy mind and love in the moment, by being there for Patty, stress turns to feeling of connection, gratitude, compassion, love.

When wind and waves wane I see more clearly.

It's Not All Sunshine

I spent three rainy, wonderful, days at Kripalu Health and Yoga center in Lenox Mass. My objective - capture a little spring sprout. A long-term objective is to capture a little of each season and put together a seminar with daughter Bridget on ‘Seeing through YOUR lens’, or something like that. - It would make a great Kripalu workshop, or for that matter, a good workshop to be offered in the Champlain Valley.

I am big on, what I call, image reflecting - my version of nature mindfulness - meditation - reflecting on whatever comes to mind, prompted by a focused image capture. Also, (attest this blog) I am big on living my Love Priorities. A workshop to connect with others, while playing out passions, would be great.

I would not create this workshop without Bridget’s leadership. She offers creativity, nature mindfulness and life coaching insight. The balance offered by the two of us - yin and yang, if you will, will be interesting, fun, and a great life experience.

Nature teaches us a bunch about balance. Initially, I was disappointed with no sun at Kripalu. But thank God for the rain. After spending time in the rain, I felt much gratitude for the moisture and saw spring sprout, more so than I would have with sun glare. Sun and rain are Spring’s elixir. One without the other is like us without our daily dose of water - no water no life.

I bumped into a trail runner, also at Kripalu for a respite. She was exhilarated running in the rain, as I was shooting in the rain. I asked if she was cold, running bare armed. She said she loved it - it feels so good. I usually make a habit of staying inside in the rain. It’s a mistake - I think the rain connecting with body is like a sapling absorbing needed moisture. I love it! I embrace it!

Monk’s Pond PhaseOne IQ180 80mm 1/3 sec f12 ISO 35

I’ve posted a number of Kripalu surrounds images on www.mesipe.com under New Prints. Please visit. Kripalu is a great experience. People there are prepared to connect.

Walnut Woods

I’m realistic - I know I won’t see Walnut Woods to maturity. But, it stretches my imagination, visualization and desire to plant a seed for future generation’s enjoyment - I love it - the miracle of living, growing, nature.

I see 100+ beautiful, big, nut bearing trees, mostly in the north east corner of Purple Lark Farm - Seventeen acres of precious land, not wasted on us.

Walnut Woods Sony RX 100VI 9mm 1/500 f5 ISO 125

I guess I planted more than a seed - I’m anxious to see the walnuts - it takes eight years before bearing fruit. I planted a eight year old Honey Crisp Apple tree for the same reason … and I have tasted the fruit already - I love it. It is never too late to visualize a fruitful future. Like our 11 month old granddaughter, Olive - growth is so visible, and exciting to watch, at the start.

Plant a tree, while you can - it may out-live you, but just image.

Winter - From Fall to Spring

Purple Lark Farm - our newly named place of farming activity - experienced two major, picture worthy, snow dumps this Winter…. not really Winter…. The first came late Fall and the second early Spring. I got my planned, image capturing, dose of Winter snow birch bend - enough already. Winter stretches too long, beautiful as it is, in the Green Mountain state. I am now ready to capture Spring sprouting at Kirpalu in Stockbridge, MA. I love it - thank you family, for making it possible..

Winter Ash PhaseOne IQ 180 80mm 1/200 sec f11 ISO 35 2 image stitched

"Follow the trend-lines, not the headlines"

Bill Clinton is given credit for saying: “follow the trend-lines, not the headlines”. It’s a great line - one to keep in mind for sanity sake. I watch a lot of news and never hear about what war we are not having. The nature of the news, these days especially, is to opine on the bad, ugly, sensational.

I read Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation for a little daily dose of sanity. It is good Big Picture stuff, for me. Today it spoke to me on violence - how one can feel hopeless, if you abstract the headlines. Look at the trend-lines on violence:


Some still fall, most remain tall. Life is good. Love it all.

Who am I trying to convince - me for sure - it’s a cure.


CFP Board Emeritus

I retired practicing as a CFP, March 31st, 2013 - hard to believe it’s been six years. About the time I feel really, ‘out of it’, as a planner, the financial planning industry contacts me about being a founding member of their recently trademarked, CFP Board Emeritus program. This is a great idea - maintaining contact with good-standing, retired CFP’s who have practiced as a CFP for twenty five years or longer. They have rules and fees - it is good though - I can’t practice as a CFP - not having maintained my CPE - and I haven’t. They provide volunteer opportunities and welcome industry promotion, while keeping you informed about changes in the industry.

Their invitation prompts me to reread ADVOCATE PLANNING; To Do What You Love To Do, to see how well I promote CFPs. I do a good job of promoting CFPs - the industry would be proud of me. More importantly, I surprise myself with the staying power of the wisdom of my observations and ideas - A focus on prioritizing passion activities is the future of planning. I feel bad I am not able to practice what I preach - I don’t advocate plan for others, any longer. I do however advocate plan for myself. After using the process for a number of years I know it is good.

This blog is a reflection of me living my Love Priorities. I am much better prioritizing my passion priorities doing the process I profess - I am delighted.

I invite you to reread the first and last chapter of ADVOCATE PLANNING - it is a free download on my website www.MikeSipe.com or www.MySCGpriorities.com. I know… it is tongue in cheek to think you read the book - read the first and last chapters anyway - it is a quick read… and if you want more details you will read the chapters in between.

I focus on my, now, SCG priorities - family and fine-art photography are the lion’s share. Even though I am willingly medical homebound, 2019 includes an active involvement in a CARERS group, learning more about photography, and image making, photo and print making workshops, finishing up two books - Smell the Roses and Our Basin of Relations, involvement with growing CBD - the family farm venture - and whatever else turns me on - no time to feel sorry for myself - engulfed in my love priorities. Thank God for my family and a little advocate planning.



Since I began to focus more on my photography, upon retirement from life-wealth planning in 2013, I express my desire, passion, as capturing my ‘image of a life time’ - one that can be printed BIG, displayed on walls, and hold the attention of on-lookers. I am happy to announce I have reached a point of possibility.

The Studio, with Epson 44” p9000 printer is in place. I have now printed my first, BIG, canvas print - ready for exhibit, as part of the September 2019 book release - OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS, the art and science of living with water.

Red Sail Yellow Marker

I can’t say I have captured, printed and displayed, my image of a life time - how can I - I am active - shooting, image reflecting, and playing with new processing ideas - I hope I will forever, but know I won’t be. When I can no longer capture and display beauty, a lovely time will be over, and I will choose my image of a life time, and hopefully connect with you. In the meantime, visit me at www.MikeSipe.com or in person, at the Studio Farm.


Tenants Harbor Adapting, PhaseOne IQ 180 240mm 1/20 sec f25 ISO 100 multiple images

I captured this image of Tenants Harbor, Maine, from our family vacation rental, sunset, early Fall 2018. It captured me - I have been reflecting on the image for months, and tweaking to my delight. I think I’m done - for now.

I call the image Adapting - Tenants Harbor adapting to change: nine feet of water rise and fall twice a day, seasons, light, temperature, fishing conditions, fishing quotas, fish - varying cycles of abundance and depletion - the world’s first CSF (community supported fishery) just a few miles down the road in Port Clyde - survival for the small guy… Are the sailboats taking over, like in Rockland and Camden?

My center of interest, with Adapting, is the island jetties, and white, harbor watch, compound on the breakwater island - the evening sun making the compound a light house, for the moment - at least from my view. Can you image the views from the compound at sunrise, looking out over the vast Atlantic, and the sunset harbor watch?

I reflect on my adapting - my changing life in Vermont with Patty, family, ventures - I quote Glen Libby of Port Clyde, author of CAUGHT, time. place. fish. “what-ever will be will be and everything is as it should be.


Blue Mindful is the state of "clean water understanding." Integrating this understanding is essential to a healthy existence.

Feeling gratitude for the availability of clean water is paramount to taking action to protect it.

We protect what we love. We love what we need and what feels special to us.

I found the perfect book to support and build on this premise: Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols. "The surprising science,” he writes, “that shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make [us] happier, healthier, more connected and better at what [we] do."

Dr. Nichols' claim is lofty, but he does a great job supporting it with all kinds of statistics and anecdotes. I especially appreciate his holistic approach, emphasizing the seeming contradiction "emotional science.”

Nichols offers up observations made by the Apollo 17 astronauts, referring to OUR earth as the tiny blue planet; a blue marble in space.

Water is everywhere. In us. We are of it. Without water there is nothing.

GREAT NEWS: Wallace Nichols, author of BLUE MIND, has expressed interest in writing the Foreword for OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS.

Please consider being a sponsor to publish OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS - proceeds from the sale of the book will go to clean water projects. Details of sponsorship are at the bottom of the introduction of the book printed on this website, www.MikeSipe.com, under the tab at the top OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS.


Stowe Stream PhaseOne IQ 180 35mm 1/10 sec f11 ISO 35

Stowe Stream PhaseOne IQ 180 35mm 1/10 sec f11 ISO 35

Splendor in Nature is wonder forthcoming.

Follow the flow, portage the passions.

Open to love and Love will be there - certain as spring time streams snow-covered mountains.

We are Nature’s gifted souls.

Hear Inner Wisdom - Love abounds.

All is precious and pristine - Reflect - Respect and Protect.

We are bestowed Free Will to love in nature.

Marvel in the moods of the sky.

Feel the touch of love from all that is provided from above.

Light, Heat, Water, Air… and Love -

All are Life’s essentials.

What’s to happen if we do not care?

OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS is ready for print

I began photographing the pristine of the Lake Champlain region about fifteen years ago. My initial vision was a coffee table book, sharing the beauty with the world with one hundred, sharing-quality images. Since the start, I captured thousands of images, with hundreds worth a second look, and a good hundred, sharing-quality. Thirty-five images are included in OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS, the art and science of living with water.

About five years ago a weightier purpose, for a book, hit me like a brick - WATER QUALITY - the lake water quality is deteriorating with dangerously high levels of phosphorous - toxic enough to close swim areas, threaten drinking water, and maybe even, harmful to breathe! Blue Green algae is not that good to look at, either. This I know is not unique to Lake Champlain.

A few years ago I had the opportunity to get involved with the Vermont Clean Water Network - I learned much - realizing that most of us aren’t aware of the issue, and how we can help. I believe we want to help - protect what we love…. and we love…. and value, water. Knowledge and inspiration empowers - producing resolve.

A couple years ago, because of my connection with the Vermont Clean Water Network, I became aware of an article in the Burlington Free Press, called Thinking like a Watershed. The article was written by environmental teacher, writer, poet, Trevien Stanger. I loved the article and knew I had to marry my photos with his word wizardry - and do my part for clean water - albeit small.

Trevien is the curator of nearly fifteen articles by water quality advocates in OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS, the art and science of living with water. Trevien wrote the introduction - It is reproduced on this site, www.MikeSipe.com, under the tab OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS. I invite you to read it, be inspired, consider some level of sponsorship to help publish OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS, and have proceeds from the sale of the book go to clean water projects.

Book sponsorship details are at the end of the introduction. Please help clean water.


If you wish, I will send you a 16 page BLAD (Basic Layout And Design) of OUR BASIN OF RELATIONS to help you decide about sponsorship of the book. Thank you.


It’s January - time to start a fresh, and share my favorite images of 2018.

I shot less in 2018. I thought I would not have much to share, but I was wrong. It was a very personal year - a lot of precious family time - special personal images - and some with, I believe, artistic value.

Patty Rosebud, origin Floribunda 2007, Reprocessed Canon EOS IDS Mark iii 105 mm 1/30 sec f9 ISO 100

Richard Reach the Sky PhaseOne IQ 180 80 mm 1/30 sec f11 ISO 35

Richard Reach the Sky was taken three months prior to my brother Richard’s death, August 8th, 2018. The image was captured in Torrey Pines nature preserve, on a side excursion, while working with Richard on completing his trilogy of poems - SMELL THE ROSES, feel the soil / reach the sky. I have no idea where the seemingly supernatural colors came from - to me, a gift of Richard relevance.

A third image I share here is another gift image I received at Walden Pond - The morning light overwhelmed the view. I preserved the moment by highlighting contrast with black and white. I read (listened to) Thoreau’s Walking five times. It was a great treat to saunter the land of Walden Pond and capture the feeling this image insights in me.

Walden Pond PhaseOne IQ 180 80mm 1/20 f14 ISO 35

Thirteen more of my favorites for 2018 can be viewed at the Photography tab of this site www.MikeSipe.com.

I started my favorite of the year images beginning 2011 and now have over one hundred favorite images - It’s time to stop. Instead of showing all those images in Order Your Print, I decided to pair it down by showing only those images that have been framed and have proven Wall-life. (I have projected a little for the 2018 images). Now there are only sixty images that rise to Wall Worthy, by that definition. Take a look. I love it.

I will only add an image to the Order Your Print images, derived from yearly Best of year images, by eliminating one. I hope to pair the list down more, over time, maybe to my favorite ten. Given the personal attachment to my images, this will be quite the challenge, and hopefully an exercise in deep reflection.

Room with a View

It’s been over two years since we moved from Burlington proper to Williston, now Richmond. You would think I would change my address on my Blog on a more timely matter. It’s not that I have a hard time giving up the past, after all we’ve moved twenty times during the last fifty one years. It’s just that I gave up easy on trying to change the address on the Blog. I rationalized, what the hell, what difference does it make anyway.

Now that I expect to live out my life at 60 Wolf Lane, Richmond, VT 05477, I gave it another try and believe I succeeded - we’ll see when this post is made with Mail Chimp.

Connecting with you is important to me. I have had a few people call for our new address - I suspect - hope - to send us a Christmas wish - update. I love cards, I make some from images I love, often.

This Christmas I am not sending cards. I connect here-with and am working hard to timely publish, SMELL THE ROSES; feel the soil/ reach the sky, a book my deceased brother Richard invited me in on, about a year or so ago. He is not here to see it’s completion - I wish he were - the tributes to him are beautiful. The book of poems, images and reflections are an interesting delivery of self reflection. I’ll let you know when it is available on Amazon and FriesenPress - probably January.

Illustration by Michael Morgenstern. Book cover. Release early 2019

Connecting with you, with my blog, book, images is in my small way saying I love you, like the song translates the touch of a hand sake. Connecting is life blood and I’ll risk the vulnerability for the joy and fulfillment - little ways that are big to me.

Bed room view 60 Wolf Lane, Richmond, VT 05477

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Birch and Aspen

Birch and Aspen - certainly different, but hard to tell the difference, at a glance - believe it or not, they are not even in the same family. We have both on the Photo Farm, and I love it.

As a recent Robert Frost fan, who was also a part-life Vermonter, I will refer to both white bark attracters as ‘Birches’, in honor of Frost’s poem titled the same .

Frost writes in Birches: “Earth’s the right place for love: I don’t know where it is likely to go better. I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree, And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more, But dipped it’s top and set me down again. That would be good both going and coming back, One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.”

Birch Bend SonyRX 100 VI 12.25mm 1/125 sec f4.5 ISO 125 stitched

After a recent snow fall, I better visualize Frost’s sentiments on swinging birches. I shake a snow covered, weighed down, birch over the driveway, as I plow my way to Wolf Lane. Me and my green and yellow John Deere are now white all over. What is astonishing to me is, with a little shake, the tree sprang back to nearly upright, like a catapult. I would have been pulled off the Deere, to the sky, if I hadn't let go.

A short while ago I designated a cove, on the Photo Farm, in a patch of birches, to be a proper place for a bench to rest and meditate. I am moved more to do such, with my recent visit to capture the snow impact.

Birch Cove SonyRX 100 VI 9mm 1/200 sec f6.3 ISO 125

I am now, in my mind, “Some boy too far from town to learn baseball, Whose only play was what he found himself, Summer or winter, and could play alone. One by one he subdued his father’s trees , By riding them down over and over again Until he took the stiffness out of them, And not one but hung , not one was left For him to conquer.”

Care or Control?

I am not one to control another. In fact, I fault myself for a lack of boundaries while child rearing. I remain a big believer of personal freedom. Being a caregiver for Patty, with her memory breakdown, is unnatural for me. I am in a cloud. How to care for Patty is unclear to me.

Lake Cloud Canon EOS 1DS Mark iii 420mm 1/125 f4 ISO 100

When is care control? Does care need to become control in the late stage of Alzheimer’s?

The answers may be obvious. I can’t win for losing with Patty. Patty doesn’t accept care well - she is fast to feel controlled, and she resists, even the obvious…. (at least, to me) - She is always telling me I am trying to control her. ‘No’ is her favorite word.

An example - I suggested she wear a coat for an outing to eat, yesterday. She says she doesn’t have one. I bring her the coat to wear and she refuses, saying I am trying to control her. She says she is not hungry anyway, even though she hasn’t eaten. I say ok. (one might say it wasn’t a mere ‘ok’…. maybe more like I huffed off to my corner). We don’t go.

Patty is ok going with me to my hair wash and cut today. I said I have one every two months - she should. I offer to make an appointment. She says NO. Patty’s last wash and cut is nine months ago. I can remember only two times she showered, in the last year, even though she says she showers frequently.

Patty would kill me if she knew I talked so openly about her. It’s necessary for me. It’s at the stage that she can’t disguise the decline, and I don’t know what I am doing!

Thanks for listening.

God help Patty. God help me.