Monday, December 29, 2008

hand in hand

On this, my last night to cuddle with my niece, I stared at her tiny hand as she slept, firmly clasping my own, more weathered and less lovely one*
*incidentally, the lighting of this photo is due to an attempt to capture the moment without awakening the little one with the disturbance of a flash. . . and only afterwards did I realize that I liked the consequential effect of the photo's color cast :-)

Friday, December 26, 2008

hair and there

tonight i was touched by the peaceful air of these two as they sat, my niece and her uncle. i was also, incidentally, amused by the contrast between full and not-so-full heads of hair :-)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

the evening mood

she seemed fittingly serene as i enjoyed a christmas eve cuddle with my niece . . . so at grandma's bidding, her uncle grabbed my camera to capture the moment

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

. . . by the chimney with care

i am blessed. thanks to my brother's marriage into a most amazing family, i am enjoying a welcoming "home"coming for the holidays. and one small example of this is tonight's project: here i caught a moment of Mom at work on my stocking. she has not yet missed one family member, in her traditional handwork, and i, even as a grafted member, am no exception.

Monday, December 22, 2008

as if . . .

. . . she needed to give her auntie an excuse to capture another moment of her "grace" :-)

Sunday, December 21, 2008


my perfect niece and her lovely mama :-)

Friday, December 19, 2008

from where i sit . . .

. . . i watch the snow fall over the Sound, happy to be on the inside looking out. the great thing about traveling is reconnecting with old friends. so tonight an old college friend and i take refuge from the cold in her lovely apartment. we dine on fine pacific fare, listen to seasonal music, and enjoy the warmth of fellowship on a cold day in december.

Friday, December 12, 2008

the end

As a good-bye gift, under the supervisions of my dear friend and coworker, the students all put together this book, into which each one contributed her or her unique portion. I have been sentimentally savoring it, amazed at their creativity and humbled by their thoughtfulness . . . is this the end of the chapter or the end of the book?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Since arriving in this area, I have been fascinated by the beauty of the Cattle Egrets, wanting to have my camera in hand each time I see them. So I was excited to have it while driving over to the nearby farm with Jill. As I stood outside the car to take this photo she assisted me by honking on the horn and startling the birds . . . and causing them to oblige my up-to-then vain calls and whistles :-)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

on this day

I remember, this day--November 30--in 1988. On this day, I awoke excited--no, more than that--I was ecstatic. I was running through lines of the Christmas program in my head, eagerly rehearsing for the program that night. You see, tonight we were performing for our families, for my family. They were on their way by this time, I knew, beginning the drive early that morning that would bring them along many lonely dirt roads, winding through villages and across open plains, to arrive here.
It had been 3 months now since I last saw them, when I boarded the little Cessna on the grass strip of our village, clutching my stuffed bear in one arm and holding my sister's hand with the other. We stood there waving goodbye one last time on the boarding stairs, and then waved again out the window as we sped along the airstrip and lifted off into the air. I loved that moment of lifting off in the airplane--and have ever since--the exciting rush of becoming airborne and soaring faster and faster through the air.
That day, however, my excitement of the beginning was tinged with the sadness of knowing I would be away from my family for many nights now. The days were always full of learning, fun adventures in the bush with friends and with various creatures to be discovered and trees to be climbed. The nights were the hard part, though, when I fought the tears that often came in spite of my fierce will, silently dampening my pillow while I stifled the shortened breaths that may give away my tears to the classmates sleeping near me in rows of bunk beds.
The 3 months since that last flight had passed quickly--3 months of good books read, math problems solved, geography discovered, play weddings acted out in free time, and all manner of grade 4 activities. I had also turned 9 the previous month, and knew my family would now celebrate my birthday and my brother's 4th birthday 3 days earlier, as soon as we made it back home. While on a shopping trip in South Africa, my Dad had acquired our first car, so the decided to make the road trip instead of Helen and I flying home as we had always done before. So, I knew they were loaded up in the Isuzu, along with 2 village friends--a teenage student of my Dad's and the Zambian pastor he worked with in our Church.
So that afternoon, after various activities designed to keep all us boarding students preoccupied so we wouldn't be bouncing off the walls with the excitement of our families' arrivals, we all filed out the drive-up area to await the first arrivals. I had in my mind the perfect picture of what to expect, so as each vehicle arrived, I craned my neck to see my mom's long arm waving out the window and Alex's goofy grin peering out from her lap. But the cars came, parents claimed their clamoring kids, and my picture-perfect arrival still had not appeared. Finally, a lady I recognized as the mom of some friends who lived fairly near us went over to our Dorm Mother and said something to her, gesturing in our direction. She then came and told us to go ahead and get ready for the program--not to keep waiting for our parents there.
I was disappointed, but assumed they would arrive at any moment, so just kept waiting as we practiced our songs. My mental image just altered itself to adjust to a late clamor of hugs and kisses rushed in before the program started . . . but the program came, began, and ended, and they had not arrived. The next morning we were taken to the Cessna, and told we were going to go back to the village by flight after all. This time I imagined the whole family standing there on the airstrip, coming into focus as the plane landed, with eager smiles and waves--still, no. The parents of a classmate took us in their car instead--so of course I changed my expectation once more, this time thinking they were taking us to our house where the family would be, picture-perfect, waiting in front of our little home.
Instead we arrived at their house. Auntie Elaine (according to British habit, all family friends were "Auntie" and "Uncle" to us kids) finished up dinner preparations while we helped set the table. And then, instead of sitting down to dinner, she asked Helen and I to come and sit with her on the couch--"Anna, Helen--I have some really sad news . . . your Daddy went to heaven . . . " Before the sentence was finished, I had burst into loud sobs, Helen looked at me and started crying, and Auntie Elaine and her daughter were both crying and hugging us.
I don't remember any mention of the rest of the family at that point--nor did I wonder, as far as I can remember. The rest of the day, of the week, of the month, passed in a sort of a fog, in which my memories are clear but displaced, as if each memory was plucked from its proper place in the continuum of time and placed instead in some never never land of homeless moments.
I remember falling asleep with fitful dreams, waking up convinced I had dreamed reality, and that Daddy would walk in and comfort me any moment. I remember being reunited with my brothers, staring at Alex's discolored and misshapen head, and carting Ian around carefully in his body cast, propping him up against walls . . . supporting him and holding his modesty blanket over his midsection as he pinned the tail on the donkey at his belated birthday party. I remember visiting Mom there in the Zambian hospital, horrified at the sight of my strong, active, beautiful mother lying there on the stretcher bed unable to move herself. At one point during a visit, the nurse had to turn her over so that she wouldn't get a bed sore. As she did so, she let go of the sheet and mom was briefly exposed to us all in the room. I didn't know whether to blush, sob, or scream--I wanted to just run away, to disappear forever into the endless, dreadfully beautiful African wilderness. I hated seeing mom like that, and dreaded the visits . . . and I hated myself for feeling that way, thinking there must be something wrong with me if I didn't want to see my mother . . .
Somehow, time passed. My Daddy's funeral passed in a blur of friends, strangers, languages I didn't know, and wails I knew only too well. As soon as mom was strong enough to be transported, we were shipped to the U.S., where hospitalization and then physical rehab came for her. I hid in my books--in beautiful worlds of fantasy--to the extent that my grandmother still teases me for always having my "nose stuck in a book" as a child.
And eventually Mom was well enough to take over the care of the 4 of us again. I still don't know for the life of me how she did it--a paraplegic supporting and caring for a home of her own and 4 not-always-angelic children. She did it well . . . she loved us well.
On this day, as a child, Mom beautifully commemorated the anniversary. She would buy what looked to me like hundreds of helium-filled balloons, bringing them home so that the house was bursting with balloons. Then she tied note cards to the string of each one, and told us to write notes on them--as many as we wanted, and whatever we wanted to say to a stranger. I remember writing things like "Jesus loves me this I know . . ." and "My Daddy died on this day, and he is now in heaven with God, because he loved God. I do too." I wrote silly notes, but meaningful ones, longing, in all my childhood intensity, to somehow tell the world that I had a great Daddy, and that some day I would see him again.
I still catch myself, when I am still enough to listen to the deeper desires of my heart, craving moments of remembrance of my Daddy, and eagerly clasping to memory any tidbits about him that people from his past may be able to share with me. And thankfully my own mind clamped down firmly on all the memories I had of my times with him, out of a personal need for them and, I suspect, out of a nagging suspicion that someday, somehow, there would be a greater use for, outlet for, it all.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Ian!

In honor of this oh-so-momentous occasion, here is an appropriately themed story written by one of my students. The assignment was to invent an interesting birthday party account, and this was Ntshenisi's tale:

. . . During the party an interesting thing happened. I saw a hot dog and daddy’s guitar dancing together. I looked closely to see, but I saw the same thing. I went to call Miss J. She saw a banana and an apple dancing together. She tried to see who was dancing closely but she failed.
She said her magic words. This is how they sound. Akabo bo zorbopo Aka bra kaka wizojo yo lagobrak. These words were hard to say.
She went to get Miss A.. Miss A saw an elephant dancing with an ant! She looked closely too, then she started to act like a monkey. I told her to stop and she did.
I forgot that it was my birthday. My brother also guessed who was dancing. Since he liked cars and dinors, he said a hot wheeler which is a car was dancing with a dinors. I gave him a slap. Miss J, Miss A, my brother, and I went to call the professor. He said it was just mom and daddy dancing.
I saw closely and it was!
The end.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ye olde recital

This morning we held the end-of-term piano recitals, and I was terribly impressed--not simply by how well the students did, but also by how each one so properly introduced themselves and the piece they were playing . . . along with the nice touch of a slight bow. Beautiful Womba had a special touch, as she included a second piece that she had composed: a truly lovely piece, entitled "Long Night," that she was playing as I took this photo.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

tortoise tails

It has been a rather delightful weekend all around. And since it was my off weekend, when I was not officially on supervision duty, I was able to spend a portion of my Sunday visiting a nearby orphanage. One highlight from this visit was the tortoise "tour": the orphans have been given a number of tortoises recently [once the villagers realized they enjoyed them, each new finding has been happily passed along to add to the brood], so the children have been enjoying learning how to care for them. After Chimwemwe had been holding this one for a moment, she turned him upside down and then peered with confusion at the large pink "tail" that he was displaying . . . which, incidentally, was quite a surprising sight to the orphanage Mum and to me as well :-)

Friday, November 21, 2008

picture perfect

As I plopped on the grass next to Jill, she lifted her head and we chatted a bit about the day's classes and our evening plans. When she asked if I'd gotten any good photos of the kids' football match, I smiled and told her that I had gotten a lovely one: it so happened that as I walked up to the game I had spotted a picture-perfect teacher, beautiful as she wound down from the day, sprawled out on her chitenge . . . :-)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

bloom & grow . . .

It may not be the most perfect of flowers: rain-battered and rather on the small side . . . but I dare say, it is about the loveliest of blooms to me. For it is the first orchid I have ever had growing in my own garden. And so I have been stealing glances and gazes, since discovering it yesterday, amazed at the wildness of this most intricate and stunning of horticultural delights.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

say what?

A portion of our lunch table conversation included a query as to what our Saturday night movie was going to be. Happy to display his knowledgeability in the topic, Yowano informed us all that is was to be "Fiddler on the Roof." Up to this point absorbed in pre-forming her nshima into perfectly bite-size portions, 5-year old Naomi now looked up from her plate to inquire as to who exactly was playing football on the roof?

Monday, November 10, 2008

a gamely gaze

Part of today's half-term celebration included a "football" match against a local team. Never having been a great fan of the game, I wasn't terribly engrossed in the match itself. I did, however, quite enjoy capturing a few of the bystanders, such as this young woman, with her piercingly lovely gaze.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

tali's tale

In my Grade 4 Literature class, my students have been working on different genres of story writing. This week they turned in the last story I had assigned—this one a short fiction project: it was to be a continuation of the beginning few sentences that I had provided for them [shown here in italics]. As I have been terribly proud of their work, I thought I would share with you one of their stories. Here is Tali’s fine compostion:Once last month, when I was camping with my family, my dad decided we should go for a hike. So we all left. Suddenly, behind a tree...
I saw a wolf! It was huge! I froze. I stared at the wolf and the wolf stared at me. Then I realized that I was alone! Suddenly the wolf came towards me! It came and licked my hands! I stepped back. It also stepped back. I stuck out my tongue. It too stuck out it’s tongue. So I walked home, my dad would shoot it. So I stayed in the woods that night. The next day I tied the wolf to a tree and left for home. When I got home I asked Dad if he would shoot a wolf, (a very tame wolf) if I brought it home. So he said he would go and see the village council and ask them if we were to shoot wolves. I f they said “Yes, you may shoot wolves,” then yes, he would shoot it. If they said “No,” well, no he wouldn’t shoot it. So off he went to the village council. In the end they said no. So my wolf was safe. When he came back he found my wolf on the porch! What a surprise!
Then I remembered that when I was 4, I had a pet wolf puppy! And, it had ran away! So I realized this huge wolf was now my pet. But loads of people would try to shoot him. So it was my duty to protect him.
The End

Thursday, November 06, 2008

weathering work

The rains have come. And in a place where we are so close to, and dependent upon, the elements, it is interesting to watch the ways that life adapts as the weather changes.
As I headed to class yesterday, encumbered by my own shields: the umbrella, raincoat, and warm jacket, I was stopped by a sight that made me smile. Instead of continuing on my way, I went back for my camera . . . and so captured young James as he, accompanying his father to work, focused on his own tasks at hand :-)

Monday, November 03, 2008

frangipangis aplenty

this week I have been marveling at the trees surrounding me: it is no small delight to have blooming these Frangipangi's right outside my door . . .

Sunday, November 02, 2008

viola's cake

This weekend one of my students asked me to be her party supervisor, as she had a birthday earlier this term. The way that birthdays work here is that parents can provide a cake if they have a way of getting it here. Then, on Saturdays, during river tea time, the child can have their cake and party guests, up on the Ant Hill. My job was to go up to the kitchen cold room to fetch the cake and knife, bring it back down to the river, and supervise the cutting and distribution of the goodies. What I did not know was that my job would also include an extra trek to get my camera, so that I could send photos to her family. It being a particularly hot day, and me having just finished giving swim lessons, without being able to get into the water yet, I was quite sweaty by the time my fetchings were completed ☺ But the festivities were thoroughly enjoyed, so I was pleased to see the pay-off. And thanks to my camera, I can offer you a visual aid of Viola enjoying her first bite of, strangely enough, fruit cake!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Along the lines of my swing post, here is another one: a childhood favorite that I am pleased to find is still being thoroughly enjoyed by my young students :-)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

dear mum and dad . . .

During our lunch break, a fellow teacher and I were discussing our current classes’ writing projects. As we have been going through the letters written, to send them out to parents, I thought I would share with you today another Grade 3 student’s writings, to offer another interesting glimpse into boarding school life:
Dear Mum and Dad,
How are you? I am fine. This week was lots of fun. On Wednesday I wrote an e-mail to Mummy. I am sure she is pleased. Yesterday, she sent the photo album. I was happy.
On Independence Day we had swimming races. It was somehow hard. We did a race which you have a ball in front of you, then you should hit the ball with your head. I came in third. Mr. Brock, Mrs. Dean, and Miss Long were the teachers on our team.
When it came to bonfire, we had much more fun. We danced around it and we played games. For snack we had hot chocolate and (turn over)
a sweet doughnut. This time we never had marshmallows. We had these things like fire work. I liked it on the bamboos were poping. They made a fun sound.
This term I found new friends. In gr. 4 her name is Penjani. In gr. 5 her name is Priscilla. In grade 6 her name is Kahalu. In gr. 7 I have two. Their name are Womba and Lombe. They help me.
Well I have to end here.
I love you.
Love, Ntshenisi

Sunday, October 26, 2008

an evening walk

My friend Jill showed me one of her favorite walks this evening, where we were able to watch a portion of this lovely Sunday setting.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

independence day festivities

Yesterday—October 24—was the country's Independence Day. As a result, we had no classes. Instead the day was filled with a special flag-raising ceremony, games and races at the river, special treats for our meals, and a final bonfire with songs and dancing . . . it was great fun. And it left all of us teachers rather worn out today ☺
As this morning was my Grade 3 & 4 letter-writing class, I think one of my student’s letters will be a fitting [and more interesting than my writing!] post today:
Dear Mom, Dad, & Lushomo,
How are you? I hope you are fine. Dad please send my cake for my birthday or it will be a day I will never forget and I am serious. It is not a joke. How did you celebrate Independence Day? . . . We celebrated Independence Day. Please tell Dairia I am missing her. Please tell her that I will send her a personal copy of the song I sing for her. In class Miss Young gave us prizes. I got a notebook, and sweet, and a balloon. The balloon has a bitter taste to the mouth. I am beginning to like Math. But it’s still my worst subject. My best friend Chijika is a good friend . . .
Love, Chile.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

mango "break"

I gave our PE teacher a well-deserved scolding after observing as his students picked mangoes during class. And not only were they eating them in between turns: impressively, they even munched on the unripe fruit while running across the field :-)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

down by the riverside

Being assigned “river duty” this afternoon meant that I got to supervise riverside playtime for all the students who had not traveled to a neighboring village for a combined prayer meeting. It meant answering “Yes, you may” to a chorus of questions required before they undertook various activities:
“Miss Anna, may I play in the river?” [allowed so long as they keep their clothes dry—a rule which lends itself to a long-standing tradition of tucking skirts and dresses into little undies] . . .
“Miss Anna, may I hunt for fruit?” [Juniors (grades 1 through 4) must be accompanied by at least one Senior (5 through 8), as they search for Leopard Fruit or knock mangoes down from the trees]
“Miss Anna, may I go to the toilet?” [an outhouse up the hill to which Juniors must have accompaniment but Seniors can venture to alone]
River duty also afforded me the surreal opportunity to join the students in some of the same activities I enjoyed at their age:
~catching tadpoles to corral in makeshift tide pools [I stubbornly persisted until I succeeded in capturing one today ☺ ]
~playing hopscotch [which I am hopelessly horrid at now, and lost by a longshot!]
~swinging over the river [which I can still do with a reasonable amount of skill ☺ ]

Saturday, October 18, 2008

about those moments . . .

I suppose I should not be too surprised by how full my schedule feels, as I am still quite new in the process of adjustment into life as a teacher here. But it is still with a wondering as to where the day went that I reach the end of another day of lessons & laughter, of remembering & reliving. Another day of moments:
~A letter-writing class with my Grade 3 writing students: “Dear Mum and Dad: Please send me a birthday cake. I am doing well in all my classes . . .”
~A breakfast table conversation, over our fruit bowls: “Miss Anna, do you know what we call these in my village?” . . . and the children are shortly talking over each other, laughing as they correct my vain efforts to pronounce the 20-some-odd-letter word. Here they are know by a much more simple name of “Leopard Fruit.”
~A sewing class, in which I butcher an attempt at a simple headband, while the students effortlessly produce elaborate patchwork projects.
~A lunch table conversation: After watching 9-year-old Joshua gaze sorrowfully at his plate for some time, in silence, I finally ask him what is wrong. “I don’t think I can finish it.” Why not? “They are so slimy,” he explains, with a dismay that I can only assume is due to the school table rule requiring plates to be cleaned unless the child feels sick. He confessed to me that he was not sick and oh, how I wish I could sneak the offending mushrooms off his plate! But being so new in my time here, I just cannot quite justify breaking the rules, as much as his downcast countenance tugs at my heart . . .
~An afternoon of pool-supervision duty. I find myself thrust into the role of swimming instructor, demonstrating with a few laps of Breast Stroke and then coaching the young ones as they imitate my motions. This role amuses me immensely, as I distinctly recall coming in last place [not just once!] in my younger days on the neighborhood swim team!
~An evening of bedside conversations and goodnight hugs. “Is that tooth still in?” She nods as she opens her mouth and wiggles it as proof . . .
I guess another day of moments shall have to pass before that tooth fairy pays a visit ☺

Friday, October 17, 2008

some things never change

This is a fort. I say that with pride, as I immediately recognized in as such, remembering my own fort-building days: I was immensely pleased to find that it remains one of the Half-Term riverside party activities, as some aspects of childhood should never die, regardless of the generation :-)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

after the rain . . .

. . . comes the rainbow :-)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

moments & hours

In the flurry of air travel, land travel, moving in, and beginning work, today it occurred to me that I had lost track of the passage of time . . . contentedly so. I do love the sort of life busy-ness that causes moments to stand still while hours fly by.
This particular moment finds me seated in the lounge of the girls’ dorm. Bath time followed dinner, and now the pajama-wearing pupils and I are enjoying Fiddler on the Roof—a portion of which is watched for each week’s movie night.
As for this day’s hours, they have included: daily classroom lessons [math, writing, reading], one-on-one tutoring with some of the students who need reading assistance [these we fit into slots when they are not in class, such as nap time and post-lunch play time], dining hall meals which I am happy to find still include the foods I remember from childhood, some of which I enjoy now though did not then [marmalade, marmite, and porridge, for instance], and others which I enjoyed then and still do [fresh cumquats, rice cakes, and “toads-in-holes”], humoring requests to sing songs and queries as to how many languages I can speak, jumping [speedily!] into a still icy-cold swimming pool . . . and other activities I cannot recall just now.
I still have not found the occasion to finish unpacking. Some of my belongings are in disarray, and laundry is not done. But happily, these things that normally would bother me do not at the moment. Rather, I am looking forward to another day and, now, content to go to bed with the “practical" work left undone :-)

Monday, October 13, 2008

lusaka morning

The day awakes, here in Zambia.


Just a quick travel update today, as I have a moment of internet access . . .
After a 2-hour Sunday shuttle ride, an 11-hour 1st-leg into Dakar, a 1-hour refueling pit-stop [alas, no chance to de-plane!], an 8-hour 2nd-leg to Johannesburg, a 2-hour layover, a 2-hour 3rd-leg into Lusaka, and a taxi-ride from the airport, I am happily settled for the night!
What a relief to have a bed, a clean face and clean feet, and a good 6 hours of sleep ahead before the final leg of the journey: the Cessna flight to the school . . .
More later :-)

Friday, October 10, 2008

come, set for a spell

Thanks to the 31 photo project I finally got up the nerve to tell my neighbors how much I loved the fact that they habitually spend their early evenings enjoying the view from their front porch. I had headed out for my daily photo walk when I saw them and went over to chat. Starting to walk away, I turned back and asked if they would mind having "celebrity feet" for the day . . . they kindly obliged :-)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

traveling in style

Knowing I was going to be stuck traveling on my birthday, I took the liberty of giving myself a present . . .
A lifetime of being on airplanes has left me with a silly obsession with the First Class section. I tend to gaze longingly at those roomy seats, replenished drink glasses, and catering stewardesses, thinking If only. . . Now the truth is that the realities of First Class benefits are not the sort of things I care for all that much: it is rather the romanticized idea of it all, and the reality that I have always been a lowly Coach passenger.
So when I booked this flight, I couldn't help but notice that my number of current sky miles equated to exactly the amount necessary for an upgrade. And with the state of air travel being what it is, I figured there was little reason to hang on to these miles for some future benefits. That being decided, I booked my first ever upgraded flight and, on my birthday this year, I was a First Class traveler :-)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

all in the family

How do you begin to document a day so meaningful as the wedding of a baby brother? I have spent the day pondering the weekend festivities and wondering how in the world I can possibly convey the intense significance of this event for us all. Frankly, I cannot. So instead of making some vain effort at telling you all how wonderful my family is, how beautiful the day was, how loved the bride and groom are, I will offer a small substitute, a snippet of a memento . . .
This arbor under which the two were wed was built by my brother. It was simply one of the countless details contributed by a couple with immense creativity: every where we looked over the past few days was another thing that wowed us all with the caring attention paid to the day, to the memories, to the guests. And this carefully constructed arbor is one of those. It is one of the reasons that I am such a gut-bustingly proud big sis . . . of a handsome young groom and a stunning new sister :-)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

a pane

This one was my second door-pane installation, and decidedly better than the first. But I still have room for improvement . . . perhaps the third time will be the charm [not that I would welcome the need to replace another, mind you!]

Sunday, September 28, 2008

a rose is a rose is a rose

Stereotypical, perhaps, as far as photographic subjects go. But so lovely I simply could not resist!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

things of beauty

While snapping this shot of Sugar I had a chance to chat with a friend, who also happens to be her owner :-) Our conversation has left me with a bit of realization-in-progress: I have been inordinately needy for beauty lately. And when I am drawn to, am surrounding myself obsessively with, all things beautiful, there is generally an underlying reason for it.
And I am terribly sensitive to the emotions of those around me. So this evening, as I saw the distress in Lynn's eyes as she spoke of her fears, it occurred to me that the flowers and photos that I give are a way of fighting such fears.
Our world is a frightful one, and these days are full of fears: financial, political, relational . . . people are afraid. And the fear I see in others frightens me.
My way of fighting my own fears is by doing the only thing I can think of to alleviate it in others. Beauty soothes me. It also captures my attention, in that I have found in myself a tendency to notice details that not everyone sees. So recently I have been giving small gifts of beauty to those around me. As one with little influence, power, or wealth, all I have to give is that which calms my own fears. It leaves me vulnerable to others, easily wounded by insensitivities, but I do not mind. The deep joy of seeing the rare moments when my small gifts can mean something to another far outweighs the pain of when they do not.
So here is another glimpse of one of those small beauties :-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

just one

The gardenia bush my mother planted is magical: everything, I suppose, that her green thumb touches, is similarly blessed. This particular shrub's magic manifests itself in the way it habitually blooms as it should, in late summer . . . and then continues to sprout surprise buds at "random" times of the year. It seems to me that each of these surprises comes at some significant time, or day, of the year: so that I benefit from the brightened soul and lifted spirits that a solitary bloom invariably delivers. This particular one now occupies the space reserved on my piano for those of its kind, floating in the glass globe similarly designated :-)

Friday, September 19, 2008

modeling sugar

Once the day's duties were done and my lawn-mowing completed, I had a mission this evening: a quite simply one, really . . . a photo shoot with Sugar. As you can see, by her "come hither" expression, she's quite the natural!

Monday, September 15, 2008

once-solid rock

This is the sight that greeted me this morning, causing me to gasp and lift my hand to my mouth in one of those involuntary reactions. At some point over the night, it seems, a vehicle careened into our street's marking stone pillar, leaving pieces of the car strewn about the road, and leaving this disaster of what used to be a solid block of stone. Having seen this marker without thinking about it for some 18 years now, it is a strange thing to see it so suddenly demolished . . . a sad and somewhat frightening reminder of the inherently ephemeral nature of so many things, both those inconsequential and those of great significance, in our lives.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

a family treasure

So maybe he's all growed up [as we say down here in the heartland ;-)] what with a sweet new wife and countless life accomplishments in his young man's lifetime . . . but he's still my baby brother. And consequently my big sister heart was proudly warmed just now at the discovery of this school assignment from many many years ago:

I am thankful for my home. I am thankful for my grandparents because they love my. I am thankful brother and sister.

Coincidentally, I claim the liberty of assuming that he was temporarily grammatically challenged, rather than the less appealing alternative that he was only thankful for one of us "sister"s . . .

Sunday, September 07, 2008

when the clock strikes 12

As I walked in to visit a neighbor, I asked her about the "cinderella shoes" near the front door entry. Perplexed, she asked what I meant and, when I pointed them out to her, Lyn laughed. "Looks like my daughter came over last night . . ." Came and went, leaving only this picturesque trace.

Friday, September 05, 2008

subjective objects

Sometimes I am caught off guard, stopped in my tracks by rather ordinary objects that are, for whatever reason, strikingly beautiful to me. In this case, a first venture into a friend's backyard made me return later in the evening, camera in hand, so that I could capture this colorful trio.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

photo finish

Trying to decide what my photo of the day would be on this all-important final day of the 31 photos project, I for some reason, unbeknownst to me, wanted to shoot the pool water. So I ran with the inspiration and carted my camera to the pool. Once there I snapped a few photos of the blank water and then decided it would be kind of cool to get feet along with it. So I called a random swimmer over and asked him to do me a favor. He obliged as I had him swim a lap of freestyle directly underneath my viewing window. Thanking him, I started to leave and, on the way, stopped to chat with one of the neighbors. She was assuming my photography was for some sort of newspaper article or write-up . . . for good reason: it turns out my "random" swimmer just happened to be the 50-yard freestyle champion in the city meet this past week! Fitting finish for last daily photo of the month, I think :-)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

today's lesson

a rain puddle. a pink parasol. and a sisterly hug. perfect

Saturday, August 23, 2008

art lesson leftovers

Sometimes the mess is just too nice to clean up :-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

connor's pickle

Connor happily showed me his garden again this evening. And as we inspected further, we discovered not just two . . . there are, in fact, five pickles in his garden. I, however, am particularly partial to the toes that also have been known to be found in Connor's garden :-)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

what does your garden grow?

I met my neighbors the other day, thanks to my bold curiosity about her gardening prowess. This evening, as I crouched on the ground to capture this stunning sunflower [and I didn't add a thing to this photo, so far as color or other touch-ups go!], their young son poked his head up from the vine behind me and made a proud announcement [he had already granted me permission to take photos in his garden]. "Hey! You can take a picture of this one too . . . we have a pickle . . . Wait--we have two pickles!!!"
Wow--I wish my garden grew pickles . . . .
Young Connor kindly consoled me for my lack of a pickle-growing garden . . .

Monday, August 18, 2008

pecking order

Watching the hummingbirds this evening, we wondered out loud as to the fact that there were only females flitting about. Then we realized why: a solitary male approached, and was promptly shoved out of the way by a female . . . he did not persist in his efforts and nor, it seems, did any other of these northern hummers!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

line of sight, take 2

So today's machine of choice was admittedly less productive--and decidedly more fun--than the last one featured! A post-service outing afforded me the occasion to have my first go at four-wheeling on the pastor's toy. Don't be fooled . . . preachers can wheel [and deal?] with the best of them :-)

Friday, August 15, 2008

line of sight

Yes, this is, in fact, a lawnmower. And yes, I did, in fact, take a photo of it today. Why? Well, it made perfect sense to me: for after spending the afternoon with this particular view, I realized that I was quite fond of it . . . and what is more natural than to want to capture the image of something you are fond of? Ok, so maybe it is the end result that make me so fond of this machine, but it doesn't need to know that, now does it?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

project do-it-herself

This was the day's DIY home repair project. And while it was certainly no work of fine craftmanship, done as best as I could figure out how to do it, I was proud of my work all the same. I was also amused by the fact that, as I crouched on the floor with putty-covered hands and concentrated push-point-placings, two burly athletes sat watching me. One took his mother's phone call, arguing good-naturedly about when he would make it to their family vacation; the other concentrated on his cell phone, cursing his large hands when he accidentally texted an unspoken message to an unintended recipient. And I contentedly carried out my solitary project to its satisfactory completion.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

the one

No doubt you wonder why I would be so interested in this, apparently mundane, sort of scene. The reason is a simple one--silly, even: it reminds me of a painting I clipped out of a magazine back in high school. It was an impressionist scene, of a girl lost in her delight, flying high in a swing such as this one, suspended over a forest spring. The depiction captivated me at the time so that I longed to be transported into the middle of it. But I have no idea who painted it, and have not seen it since high school, so who knows what that particular piece of art was, or if it would have the same impact on my now . . . in my cynical old age ;-)

Friday, August 08, 2008

still [not] the one

so this is yet another "side" photo: a glimpse. a gasp. an i-must-capture-that moment. another photo i took when i was out intending to take the photo that i have not yet posted . . . oh, the suspense :-)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

the photo that almost wasn't

this was not the photo i intended to take this morning. it was another sight that inspired me to grab my camera and dash out while i still had good morning light. and i did take a shot of the sight that had so inspired me . . . and then i saw this. and it was simply too lovely to pass up. so here you have it. i'll post the intended photo later ;-)

Friday, August 01, 2008

fly away home

This morning's sun glinted off the dew drops, catching my eye and making me kneel down to see what this was lying in my path in the cemetery. And then I was delighted--with its beauty, clearly, but also with the fond childhood memories that it brought to mind . . .
My girlfriends and I at boarding school in Zambia used to rescue dragonflies from the boys, as they were wont to torture the creatures with dismemberings and the like. We would do as best as our 6-year-old brains could conceive of to do in order to nurse them back to health, imagining them happily flitting off into a future of freedom and long-lived prosperity. Perhaps this particular wing belonged to one of those rescued creatures, carrying it across many oceans, years, and adventures, until it finally lay to rest in a little graveyard in the heart of the Southland . . . :-)