Posts Tagged With: photographs

 
 

Forever Young

Friday Letter to my Kids – July 17, 2015 –

Dear J, J. L, and L,

A month ago, consistently and often, well-meaning sales associates, grocery baggers, repairmen and strangers insisted on offering me their senior discounts. What a sweet gesture to want to help me save ten percent on my purchases and services. Unfortunately, I always walked away from such encounters deflated and more tired than I already felt. I didn’t think I looked all that old.

Then one day in less than four hours I was referred to as “young lady” a dozen times. I wasn’t sure how to take that either. I’m no spring chicken, so the reference felt a little odd. I should have accepted it as their way of being polite without making me feel old.

Surely there’s a balance between “senior discount” and “young lady”. I’ll let you know when I discover what it is.

Mom circa 1957

Mom circa 1957

Yesterday morning I spent some time with my mom, your Grandma M, looking at some of the many photo albums she’s compiled over the years. Next time you’re up her way you should ask her to show them to you. (They’re in the living room closet nearest to the front door on a shelf, if she forgets.)

One album my sister N had put together for them as a gift. That album had  photos of your Grandma and Grandpa as kids and as teenagers, as newlyweds and as young parents. I wanted to snap photos of all the photographs but restrained myself to just a couple.

Those pictures bore witness to the my mom as a clarinetist in her high school band and as a smartly coiffed, high-stepping majorette. She also competed in the first Miss Morgan beauty pageant with four other contestants. Ooo la la! I’ll bet  you didn’t know that about her.

Dad circa 1956?

Dad circa 1956?

We stumbled across some postcards with a 1947 postmark that my dad and his brother had painstakingly written to their mother (your great grandma M) who had apparently gone to Illinois to visit someone who’d had a baby. Grandpa’s handwriting improved drastically when he became an engineer and had to hand letter blueprints for the DOT. You’ve probably seen his distinctive penmanship, which could pass as a typesetting font.

Some of my favorite photos in the albums were of Mom and Dad’s courtship days. Such smiles! Such innocence! Such true love!

The photo albums sparked remembrances located mostly in the recesses of my brain, such as:

  • my Dad riding a tricycle with his knees on the back stand and his hands pedaling, quite a feat of dexterity for an adult
  • my Mom hanging sheets on the laundry line or holding my hand on a hike
  • my Dad riding motorcycles on mountain trails
  • peeking in on my parents when they hosted a card game night at our house, laughing raucously with their friends like they never quite laughed with us kids
  • Mom holding a newborn baby after each of my five younger siblings were born
  • Dad’s ear-piercing  whistle that we could hear from the bottomlands of the local park

They were quite a team, raising such a gaggle of offspring. Almost sixty years later, they depend on each other like never before. Dad tries to fill in the memory gaps and missing sequencing ability that Mom’s strokes have destroyed. He makes breakfast every morning for her and she provides background music on the piano throughout the day. She insists on her independence as much as life allows. He still teases Lulu the cat as if he were a sixteen year old. She still makes jokes and laughs at the funniest things. Dad still has a wanderlust and needs to go somewhere every day in the car, even if it’s just to town or the grocery store.

Despite what my eyes show me when I visit them, in my mind they will always be forever young,

They’ve seen a fair bit of the world, from Russia to Cancun and a lot in between, which for a couple of western kids born in the 1930’s says a lot about their willingness to try new things and step outside their comfort zones.

In my mind, my parents remain that young newlywed couple with a future laid out bright and wide before them. There’s no other way to think about it. Anything less is unfathomable; forever young and together forever.

It’s what I’d wish for each one of you. May you also be forever young.

All my love,

Mom

p.s. Here’s a cover version of that famous song by Bob Dylan. Listen and enjoy a wonderful song.

“Forever Young” by Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young
Forever young, forever young
May you stay forever young.

Categories: Family, Friday Letters to My Kids | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

It’s All In How You Look at It

Earlier today I found myself once again deleting photos off my phone to make room for a boatload more photos I plan to take soon. Yes, I backed them all up to a different spot and ought to be able to just delete them all at once, (if I could only figure out how.) But I like having a “few” snaps available to look through and share without  diving into my storage facility and hunting for what I want. So I’m selectively deleting.

Santa left his hat on the couch and the world is slipping.

Santa left his hat on the couch and the world is slipping.

I’ve gone through the “stack” of photographs at least four times in the past month or two. A few more achieve nirvana and move on to their next incarnation as electrical impulses and ones and zeros. But more stay on the phone, taking up valuable memory.

Bonus!

I ran across this series of photos I’d forgotten about.

photo 2-6 copy 11

An open Sandra Boyton board book in the foreground.

Yup, they’re from Christmas 2014 or thereabouts. I figured since today’s a national holiday (Independence Day in the US) I can post a holiday themed set of photos if I want to.

I didn’t take these particular photos. My favorite then-three-year-old took the shots.

Wire  bead maze: a child's up close point of view.

Wire bead maze: a child’s up close point of view.

You kind of get the drift that she’s short. For her age she’s in the 95th percentlie for height. But compared to adults, her view on the world sits a couple of feet lower.

Huggy Bear, Tissues, Flat Screen. What is she saying here?

Huggy Bear, Tissues, Flat Screen. What is she saying here?

I like her perspective, don’t you?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there’s a photography genius waiting to blossom here, at least not that I know of. She does, like most kids born in the past ten years, seem to have an innate sense of how to run electronic gadgets and make use of them faster, better and more creatively than big people do.

There’s something in her viewpoint I can’t quite put words to. I just know I like it.

“If I push this button like this…”

I especially like her non-posing selfie. Usually she puts on her photo face if she knows her picture’s being taken. You can almost see her thinking here. I like that.

Book closeup. Very introspective, or something.

Book closeup. Very introspective, or something.

Plenty of blurred photos got the garbage can button. And fifteen or more shots of the carpet likewise bit the dust. And eight of just her forehead had to be obliviated. (Yes, I just made up that word: oblivious got verbed.)

I figure you have to crack a lot of eggs to get a few good photos, or push a lot of buttons to make cake, or something like that. Right?

Looking at life from a kid’s point of view isn’t easy. Our adult eyes and our size get in the way. In fact, looking at things through the lens of other people’s eyes proves difficult in the best of circumstances.

What a great reminder from a child.

I think I’ll try looking up, or sideways, more often. You never know what you might see.

~~*~~*~~~*~~~*~~*~~

Here’s my photographic contribution to today’s holiday:

Let Freedom Ring!

Let Freedom Ring!

Happy American Independence Day everyone!

Let Freedom Ring!

Categories: Fun | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Pay Attention to the Signs: or My Grand Grand Adventure

Grand doesn't begin to describe it.

Grand doesn’t begin to describe it.

It’s Gratituesday! I found out that you CAN go home again, after a fashion, and I’m thankful for that.

At thirteen years old I experienced the grandeur that is Grand Canyon. At the time I had two less siblings than I do now. So Mom and Dad only had five of us to keep track of. It’s a good thing back then that my Momfear genes hadn’t kicked in gear yet or I’d have been a total wreck.

We visited the North Rim, the less traveled and higher side. Ponderosa Pines line the roads all the way in to the edge. I love, love, loved my experiences there. Sunrise and sunset at the canyon invites heavenly choirs and every other supernal hyperbole one can imagine.

And then I never went back.

Why? Fear of heights kicked in for one thing. And living on the other side of the country presented obstacles for a while. But for the past eighteen years, living a mere three or four-hour drive away, I had no good excuse. Except I didn’t think I could survive having my children standing on a precipice with a mile drop off. Nope. I’m pretty sure I’d have died of a heart attack or anxiety attack or both.

Dad and Mom, spring chickens on an adventure.

Dad and Mom, spring chickens on an adventure.

During Dad and Mom’s visit here in November they decided they wanted to take me to the Grand Canyon. “Of course!” I said. “What am I thinking? I must be nuts!” I thought to myself. I can’t say no to my parents. (Oddly, it wasn’t a problem when I was a kid.)

I found it a bit ironic that the first time I visited the Grand Canyon and the only other time I visited a few decades later involved my parents taking me there. I am a grownup, after all.

I didn’t feel so very grownup next to the edge of that massive, gaping fissure in the earth. Even with fences and railings my legs turned to jelly and my stomach did this rollercoaster thingy. That’s a perfectly legitimate guttural response to danger.

Do you see this sign?

Important sign.

Important sign.

Here, look closer!

Important sign.

Very Important sign.

Yes. This sign. It’s in multiple languages! For good reason! This is an important sign. (Oddly it’s only about twelve inches wide and sits low to the ground. You’d think it’d be the size of a billboard with flashing lights at eye level. Government operating at it’s best there, folks.)

And yet millions of visitors go hang out on the edge every single year. Why? Because this place defies AMAZING! And logic seems to vacate brains in the face of such wonders.

White-knuckling it even with a fence and railing to keep me safe.

White-knuckling it even with a fence and railing to keep me safe.

A couple of people there had brought their dogs on a leash, and the dogs, bless their little palpitating hearts, did not want to go anywhere near the edge of the canyon. Smart animals!

One of my coping mechanisms of dealing with the terror I felt involved noticing the people around me. I can’t tell you how many different languages I heard spoken. And this wasn’t even during tourist season. We’re talking a Monday in November! And still the place teamed with humans from all over the planet. This made me feel really silly for not taking advantage of this stunning world wonder in my backyard. People fly from Tibet and Russia and Argentina and literally everywhere across the globe to my little desert state to visit this hole in the ground.

Layers and colors galore.

Layers and colors galore.

It’s a bit more than a hole. It’s epic. It’s Grand. It’s stunning.

The Grand Canyon defies description. I know people have tried. I’ve read some of the attempts. The place boggles my brain. How did something like this come to be? Was it really some gradual etching away by a tiny river? I have a hard time believing that. Seems like some massive flood of an interior sea had to have carved out such intensity. Or perhaps a cataclysmic earthquake pulling and pushing from the very center of the earth birthed such a wonder and then, rain and wind and erosion worked its slow magic on the fissure.

Crayola has nothing on the color spectrum that Grand Canyon provides. Every hue of red, orange, tan, green, gray, brown, gold, black, white and yes, even blue and purple began its life there. I could spend a week or more in that place and not get saturated with all it offers in color, sight, sound and smell.

Look close and you can see the virga.

Look close and you can see the virga.

While we were there a thin veil of clouds hovered at eye level between the south side, where we were, and the north side. The cloud released raindrops that evaporated before falling very far. Meteorologists call that virga, I call it art. An hour later the temperatures had dropped enough that the virga turned to tiny pellets of snow dusting the heads of visitors while the sun shone bright through the thin clouds. It felt like a moment of magic.

That's MSH in the bright orange sweatshirt on the edge, no railing whatsoever.

That’s MSH in the bright orange sweatshirt on the edge, no railing whatsoever.

Then, breaking the spell, MSH wandered out past the danger sign on to a ledge with a few other foolish souls. I told him I’d kill him if he fell. He had previously been saying how jealous he was of the birds who could fly out over the edge, swooping around, riding the columns of air. So I was more than your average nervous at this point. I couldn’t breathe while he stood out there, no fence to stop him or others from oopsing off the edge.

Getting me a bit sidetracked, Dad took up a conversation with a small group who spoke something Spanish sounding. Nope, he doesn’t speak Spanish, but they managed to communicate nonetheless. One of them pointed to herself and said, “Machu Pichu.” We understood that to mean she’s from Peru! Dad also overheard someone talking in a Russian dialect and yes, he does know a little Russian, so he chatted briefly with them. Boy were they surprised that an American could do that!

Finally after what felt like hours, MSH wandered back from the edge of death-by-falling-four-thousand-feet and I could start breathing again. He joked that it wasn’t the fall that kills you, but the landing that does you in. Not funny in the least.

Elk are big animals.

Elk are big animals.

We almost literally ran into a herd of elk. I, of course, jumped out of the car and ran across the road to take a closer picture. Those critters stand really, really tall, and foolish me stood only ten feet away. I’m sure they had a conversation among themselves that involved the words, stupid, human, squash and extinct. But I don’t speak Elk so I didn’t worry too much. I did get some great photos of these magnificent creatures.

In my younger years a part of me wanted to hike the canyon to give me a different perspective. I had set what seemed like a reasonable goal date, which has sadly come and gone. Part of me knew I was crazy and being unrealistic. Part of me still wants the experience. Visiting there renewed that desire.

I plan on going back again soon and staying longer, exploring more. Wouldn’t a Colorado River trip give The Canyon a whole different feel? Sounds fun to me. No potential falls involved.

Thank you Dad and Mom for helping me experience the Grand Canyon, both times. I loved sharing something so spectacular with two of my favorite people!

 

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 ~~~~~

“The glories and the beauties of form, color, and sound unite in the Grand Canyon – forms unrivaled even by the mountains, colors that vie with sunsets, and sounds that span the diapason from tempest to tinkling raindrop, from cataract to bubbling fountain.” ~ John Wesley Powell

 

 

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Short Days, Cold Nights

Nothing brings more joy and light into my home than a visit from one of my children. When they bring along their littles and a spouse, even better. The house nearly sings with baby giggles and cries, bubbles over with stories reminisced and glows with the warmth of family relationships rekindled and renewed.

And then all too soon, the vacation time ends. Farewells, hugs, goodbyes all around.

On the very day that lovely family visit draws to a close I feel a bit like a candle blown out, wisps of grey smoke trailing off in the chill morning air. I grasp hold of sweet moments, memories made, review photos snapped, hold close a blanket that snuggled a little one.

Winter light.

Winter light.

But warmth and joy elude me today. It’s like winter sun shining through a screened window. All light and no heat. Odd angles and too much brightness.

photo 3-4 copy 21

Bright but not very warm.

Instead I want to close the blinds and wallow in the shadows for just one day. One day to wish for lost days from years ago. One day to dream of living close to all the birds that have flown. One day to compare the silence to the noise and cherish both, oddly juxtaposed at strange angles.

A glass table adding dimension to the shadow.

A glass table adding dimension to the shadow.

Just for today I’ll mourn all my yesterdays. Tomorrow I’ll be glad again that I’m on this side of it all. I will. I’m certain of it.

At least, I hope so.

Categories: Family, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Home Again

After my acrobatic stair performance and subsequent recovery, coupled with a too long battle against Zombie’s taking over my lungs, I’m finally back to my morning walks.  I had missed that quiet time, I just didn’t realize how much I’d missed it until I stepped out of the car and set foot on the trail this morning.

Stunning, yes?

Stunning, yes?

The biggest difference? Twenty degrees cooler! Last time I went for a walk the pre-sunrise temps hovered at eighty-three. This morning? Sixty-three! Glorious! Even once the sun’s southern-leaning rays reached my skin I didn’t feel overly warm or wish for a water bottle. Summer seems almost behind us now. (It still hits ninety-something during the day.)

Other differences I noticed included:

'Shrooms!

‘Shrooms!

Mushrooms? Not normally in the desert! But yeah, two major rainstorms, nearly five inches the first time and two inches the second. A year’s worth of rain in one month did a number on our little dry patch of earth. Fungi popping up all over the place.

Green! More than normal. Every plant seems intent on growing faster and bigger than its neighbor.

Fewer rabbits. Not sure why. Too cold? Coyotes perfecting their hunting technique? They’re sleeping in and waiting for warmer late morning temperatures?

Three little birds…singing a sweet song…a melody pure and true.

Three little birds…singing a sweet song…a melody pure and true.

The birds seemed extra cheerful and more willing to sing out. Maybe that’s just a result of being away so long I’ve forgotten their sounds. I think they’re every bit as happy about the cooler weather as any other desert dweller, human or otherwise.

More night herons out and about. I had wondered all summer long if they’d moved on to other feeding grounds forever, but I saw more this morning than I’ve seen in the past four months combined.

Things that stayed the same:

My coyote friend still frolics in the tall brush of the dry ponds and watches from a distance as I watch back. I’d like to think we share a sort of connection, but I’m not fooling myself with that idea.

Yellow hollered for attention, too.

Yellow hollered for attention, too.

That creosote and mingled dust smell still permeates the air. Some people don’t care for it, but to me it’s the scent of wildness and quiet. Some days I go out of my way in the car to drive past with my windows open just to get a whiff of one of my favorite places.

Peace abounds and wraps itself around me as I walk. That, more than any other aspect of my morning ritual summarizes best what I missed the most this past month. Lacking a brush with nature, I stumble around off-kilter and unfocused. It’s not something I ought to neglect.

 

 “This early piece of the morning is mine.” 
~Wallace Stegner 

Categories: Nature, Outdoors, phoenix | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Certain Angle of Light

photo 3-5 copy 4Moisture pushes ahead of the straggling remnants of hurricanes limping far inland from the Pacific, bumping up against the northern and eastern mountains.

photo 1-5 copy 6A traffic jam of clouds fills the sky with swirling masses of whites, grays and blues.

photo 4-3 copy 10Cloud sculptures twist and swirl while light plays a melody in concert with the sound of distant geese calling out their imminent arrival.

photo 2-4 copy 3Dozens upon dozens of rabbits rush around drawing too much attention to themselves,  making use of the cooler morning hours.

photo 1-6 copy 3Sun breaks through the tangled muss of fluff with bits of light but little color.

photo 2-3 copy 5

Small birds twitter, tap, chatter, sing, peep, mimic, flit, flutter, flap, hum and tweet.

photo 4-5 copyLarger birds sit in silent patience.

photo 3-6 copy

A pair of hawks sweep low and silent along a path searching for the unaware and unwarned.

photo 1-5 copy 6I walk, finding more than animals, birds, sky, water, shades of green.

photo 2-2 copy 22I listen for solace and a different kind of silence.

photo 5 copy 4I look for something within myself as I walk the dawn.

photo 1-4 copy 20Thoughts clarify with each step I travel through this oasis.

photo-24 copy 29I gather courage and hope as I pass the creosote, palo verde and acacia.

photo 4-4 copy 2Each morning I claim sanctuary, and emboldened, face the day.

Categories: Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Color My World

I bring my binoculars out walking lately hoping for some fun sightings. I saw a coyote frolicking in one of the ponds last week, but that was twelve feet away. And I’ve heard there’s a bobcat in the area. That’d be fun to see from a distance. And you never know when some odd or unfamiliar bird will be flitting about.

All of today’s delights were up close and colorful. That’s surprising because the high temperatures have crossed the century mark. I think of summer here in the desert as drab black and white and gray. Even the color of sand seems to bleach out in the heat after a month or two. This morning’s walk through the local riparian preserve proved me wrong.

When I saw these tiny bursts of yellow with their brown buttons looking perky and bright I caught myself smiling.

photo 2-2 copy 9These fuchsia blooms won’t last much more than another day in such heat.

photo 4-4 copyLike pearls on a vine, these puff-balls diffuse the sunlight and capture the eye with a humorous elegance.

photo 1-5 copy 3A smallish black bird with christmas red markings under its wings showed up along the trail, but flew off before I could get my camera focused.

Red Penstemon tempt the hummingbirds and brighten the landscape.

photo-24 copy 2This gray rabbit dug a trench in the gravel and cradled himself in its coolness. His coloring and the rock colors match almost perfectly. If not for his face twitching and his dark distinctive ears I’d have missed him lying there. For all the hundreds of bunnies I see every time I walk here, I’ve never seen this behavior before. Reminded me of how a dog will splay out flat on tile to chill its body down on a warm day.

photo 4-3 copy 3Orange makes it mark among pale greenery, showing off in a concentrated saturation of color.

photo 2-3 copy 3The Saguaro are blooming with bright white flowers, still open even in the bright light of day.

photo 3-4 copy 4And here a tree sports yellow puff-balls, like dollops of paint splattered about by a rambunctious child.

photo 5 copy 2I nearly stumbled into a white Egret looking every bit as angry at being spotted as I delighted in sighting him. He stayed put for my photo, so I figure he must have had his eye on a juicy fish or he’d have flown off the minute I walked along.

photo 3-5 copy 2These brown cattails seem so foreign in a desert environment. But then, I have to remember I’m walking in a riparian area, with an abundant and consistent water supply. What a brilliant and delightful way to reclaim water and refill an aquifer.

photo-23 copy 3Green, of course, plays a dominate role along my entire route. Thank goodness for that. I’m not sure what I’d do without green growing things in my world.

photo 1-4 copy 6I didn’t expect to see blue, except for the sky, while on my walk. Blue flowers just don’t occur very often. But then, wandering down to the water’s edge, two fluorescent blue dragonflies chased each other across the water’s surface. Not much bigger than an inch in length, a photo of them wasn’t a realistic possibility. But, I did capture the scene where they played among the reeds and rocks and water.

Every color I could hope for showed up today as I walked. I’d call that a promising start to my day, wouldn’t you?


“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.” ~ e.e. cummings

Categories: Nature, Outdoors, phoenix | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Much More than Faces and Places

One of the advantages of a smart phone lies in having a camera always on hand. I think I like that more than the texting thingy. I use it like most people use a notebook.

Written on a mirror, so it's a little tricky to read.

Written on a mirror, so it’s a little tricky to read.

If I’m running low on a hair product, I snap a quick picture of it, so I can remember the brand, and which scent and what size and whatever other details will baffle me as I stare at three hundred options for that kind of hair product.  Saves me some serious mind bogglement. (Is that a word: bogglement? Well, it is now.)

Hangs from my rearview mirror. Bought it in Truckee, California.

Hangs from my rearview mirror. Bought in Truckee, California, while visiting Lake Tahoe. Good advice, don’t you think?

Headed to the grocery store to pick up ingredients for one of those recipes that have a zillion items in them, I just point and click a picture of that recipe card or page and voilà, there’s a photo of my grocery list. Nice.

Found another gift of a rock. I wrote about those here.

Found another gift of a rock. I wrote about those here.

I also photograph things in magazines at the doctor’s office, t-shirts people are wearing that make me smile, and things written on chalkboards and strange signs. And anything else that strikes my fancy.

A greeting card on someone's fridge.

A greeting card on someone’s fridge.

I ran across a few that made me smile and I thought I’d just throw out a random blog post with them included.

T-shirt, still being worn. Captures how I feel, especially on Mondays.

T-shirt, still being worn by a favorite teenager. Captures how I feel, especially on Mondays.

Long story short. Use your camera to capture more than faces and places. I’m sure glad I do.

 

Categories: Fun | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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