Monday, December 28, 2009

of ice and men

As I embark on this adventure of weathering winter as, I suppose, it is intended to be, I am realizing that so far I have a decidedly conflicted relationship with the snow. I resent the way in which it hinders transportation and spontaneous outdoor excursions . . . yet I find it hauntingly, inspiringly beautiful.
This evening, for instance, I stopped on my way into the library, awed by the apparent ice-sculpture of a snowman that was in the neighboring yard. So when I walked into the library, instead of doing anything library-appropriate, I blurted out a query as to the creators of the stunning snowman outside. The librarian was confused as to the snowman itself, but she did say that she assumed it had been constructed by the children who had, in fact, just been in that same library shortly before I was. I took this apparent familiarity as a bit of a photographic go-ahead, so here he is, in his icy loveliness.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

slip n' slide

This evening included a normal sort of Sunday drive--normal, probably, only in my family, as it meant a trip to the dump. But this particular drive also included a stop at an all-too-familiar tree, as of last night. Here is a snapshot of that tree. Sideways, you say? Well, not exactly: for this is the perspective I unfortunately, had, as I tried to decide how exactly I should extract myself from the car without tipping it, the rest of the way, over from its precariously wedged position. Yes, it's high time for those snow-appropriate tires: no more excuses forthcoming from my winterly-wimpy self!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

how's the "water"?

I know I said I wasn't tempted by my icy lakefront anymore . . . but I guess that wasn't entirely true. Because today I dove right in--or stood right on, as the case may be. Seeing a father/son ice fisherman team from the shore, I couldn't resist heading out with my camera. They were kind enough to even let me try my hand at the sport, though I didn't manage to make a catch [which is probably just as well, considering licensing issues!]. So, in case you're inclined to come join me for a swim, here's a glimpse for you of how the water is, from where I stood :-)

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Funny thing . . . somehow my summer swimming haunt doesn't quite beckon me to dive on in anymore: why might that be? :-)

Friday, December 11, 2009

on frozen pond

I have never before been witness to the freezing process of a lake. So when I ventured out this morning for the first time since returning to the NE, I was floored at how beautiful it was. With the combination of the freezing pockets and the wave-shaped already frozen portions, I just could not get over how lovely the effect was . . . had I not been so frozen myself, I would have been tempted to just sit and watch it freeze :-) Here is one of the photos I took, out of a series of various angles and segments.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

a goodbye

The weather seemed in sync with the day as we gathered for the funeral: the steady drizzle as soothing as it was dreary. We wrote our final goodbyes on sticky notes, our somber collage to be lowered into the ground with the coffin. "May you have peace," I wrote. Then we parted, with teary hugs.
And today, one day later, the sun shines warm and bright.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

a wintery apology

It's no big secret that I'm not so good at winter. But that doesn't mean that awaking to the first snow did not make me gasp at the beauty of it all . . . and rush to snap some wintery shots. So much so that I was cutting it a bit close for the morning's travels, and ended up messing things up a bit: shouldn't I be too old to have to be rescued by my mother? Thanks, Mom--and sorry :-)

Monday, November 30, 2009

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.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

enough said

If a picture says it all, then I will gladly hold my tongue on this one. Except to say that this is us, Giving-Thanks . . . I love my family :-)

Monday, November 23, 2009

small ones spreading cheer

Yesterday was the church's annual Thanksgiving Basket party and, as usual, it was a flurry of fast-paced assembling action. What I particularly enjoyed was seeing how involved the little ones were in the process: little hands and feet excited to join in the generous spirit of the season.

Monday, November 16, 2009

a pool with a view

The summit of today's hike proved to be well worth the [cold] trek. Once at the peak, I braved the raging winds in order to photograph the beauty for you all. And though we were supposedly there for the 2,930-foot view, I found myself more struck by this pool of ice-blue water than by the view itself . . . but you can still see a bit of the scenic overlook in this photo, if that is more your pleasure :-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

ode [against] a wall

You'd think a slab of granite would be
Just a neutral chap--

A simple set of holes and holds
To kindly guide one up.

But, truth be told, this one fine slab
Is not so kind as that.

No, he is out to thwart brave souls
Who aim to, him, summit.

And thus is was that, yesterday,
I fumed--e'en cursed--a bit,

While battling this ornery rock,
Trying not to throw a fit.

For we assumed t'would be an easy,
Leisurely day's sport,

When in fact this slab was concealing
His tricky, slippery side.

Therefore it was with great delight--
Nay, more with childish glee,

That finally I won the war,
Standing tall, on top of he.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

a photo and a shop

I was eager to get out yesterday, in order to experience the artists and artisans participating in the state's "Open Doors" weekend. Making good use of my camera was the expectation; the unexpected delight came when one artist opened up the woodworking process to those of us "in the audience" of his workshop . . .

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

stopped in its tracks

I have a new toy. A toy that has me in Photographer's Heaven. Thanks to a kind friend, I am the proud owner of Photoshop Elements. And today I have been playing with it for the first time . . .
Yesterday we stopped by a picturesque old train station while out shopping, deciding that it was too lovely not to photograph. So here is one of the shots I took, after "playing" with it: I thought it might be fun to add a bit of visual action to the life of a train that no longer gets to run around :-)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

defeat [?]

Our first day "on the rocks," I gasped as I peered behind me, once high enough to see the view from my cliff perch. We had chosen the most perfect of days, with unseasonable warmth and sunshine that had baked the side of the mountain long enough to leave the climb significantly more pleasant than my last icy-fingered effort. And the hour in which we finished the route provided a breathtaking sunset finale--a virtual paradise of North Carolina countryside from our birds eye view high on the mountain. It is an exquisite sensation, a mixture of fear, awe, and child-like glee, to realize that you are suspended hundreds of feet up in the air. At one point I joked, pretending to be about to let go, saying "Look Ma, no hands!" J, in turn, teased that this was one view, peering down at me from above, with the valley directly below, that he would not want my Mother to see.
Consequently, I have no visual aid for you all :-) Mind you, I am inspired to look for a suitably portable camera, after several experiences so far in which I longed to show the world the beauty that I was witness to at the time.
But this story does not end with the beauty. It is a more well-rounded account, as the next day of the trip proved significantly less triumphant. On Day 2, the mountain won the battle, in that I summited only one of the intended 3 pitches of that particular climb. Finally, after multiple efforts to master one set of holds, I gave up. My fingers were numbed by the shady chill of the day's route, my arms weakened by numerous attempts, and my body shaken by the fright of a fall that had come as such a surprise that I was not aware enough to utter my normal "Falling!" warning. And so, finally, as tears sprung to my eyes, I admitted with finality that I just couldn't do it, that I had to let go. It came as a bit of a shock to me that I took it so hard, in fact. Intellectually, I knew that I may not be able to do all that we hoped to do. But mentally, the act of surrendering to the mountain proved to be so much more humbling that I could have anticipated.
But you know, when all is said and done, my frustration did not take away from the satisfaction at days end. Somehow my spirits were still calm and content at the end of the day. I wonder if that is in some manner due to the fact that it was Creation, in all its glory, that defeated me; if I think about it in that sense, it is no wonder that I cannot begrudge such an awesome defeat.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

in sync

As I walked to the lake this afternoon, eager to soak up a bit of the sun's surprise rays, I was noticing how brilliant the colours were, all around. I couldn't help but marvel at the odd loveliness of the canoes, out of season now, with their complementary hues. Even the turned leaves behind the boats match, in yellows and reds, as if human and divine creations were choosing to act together to form a natural work of art.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

what's wrong with this picture?

I had just enough time this afternoon to follow a "Covered Bridge" sign that had been tempting me for quite a while now--camera in tow, of course. It proved to be a highly satisfactory detour and also provided an occasion for me to have a bit of photographic fun with the result . . . can anyone tell what I did?
P.S. The correct guesser wins a prize
P.S.S. I retain the right to be biased as to what sort of prize to bestow, depending upon the identity of the prize winner :-)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

peeping tigger

By the time I had maneuvered my way, this afternoon, through what seemed to be the entire state's population of vehicles centralized into one small town's Main Street, I was slightly less inclined to get excited about the sea of pumpkins that were drawing such a crowd. As a result, I had to laugh when I spotted this little fellow: he seemed to be blazing his own trail of interest, ignoring the prize-winner behind him so that he could peer into this jack-o-lantern . . . presumably looking for the "treat" that he knew must be hidden therein :-)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

as it was, this time around

Weddings being what they are, and family being what it is for my own, I have developed a habit of somewhat obsessively writing about these events when they occur. And in our family, they have occurred with some regularity over the past several years.
Most of my wedding writings have tended towards the more serious side. I'm not sure I can explain this completely, except to say that such ceremonies bring out the "worst" of my sentimental, emotional side. But this day, yesterday, felt different somehow. Perhaps it was due to the fact that we have had the 2 first grandbabies born this past year. Or perhaps it is simply because this is the 3rd brother-wedding in just over a year. But for whatever reason, the day felt a bit more light-hearted. I kept laughing at the funny things that were said and done. Sure there were the meaningful moments that should, and did, occur: father and son shared a King Fu round during one of the dance songs. Mom and Lou danced, another dance in which Lou tenderly supported Mom so that she could enjoy the experience . . . And yet, even the "serious" moments tended towards a bit of levity: the bride and groom's first kiss, for example, was a dramatic, drop-kiss affair. And my brother took his 4-week old daughter out on the dance floor for her first hip-hop groove. Along the dance theme, my brother and I enjoyed bringing a bit of good Southern culture into the mix, leading the crew in a round of "Boot Scootin' Boogie" [I was actually a bit surprised to discover that I still remembered all the steps, as soon as the rhythm kicked in. Afterwards, his wife noted that, unbeknownst to us, it seems that the 4 of us siblings share a bit of natural rhythm when it comes to the dance floor.
So yes, it was a joyous, festive occasion. And one in which laughter felt like the predominant theme. So along with that theme, I will close with a snippet of a couple quotable moments from the day:
As we line up for the post-ceremony family photos, Alex turns his head from side to side, then circles around, then blurts out rather loudly, "Hey--where's my baby?"
Walking out to the cars for the wedding-to-reception caravan, Alex looks at Ian and notes, "Hey, brother, you know that tux is pretty slimming on you." Ian checks himself out in a passing window reflection and replies, "Nah . . . I think it makes my butt look big."

Friday, October 09, 2009

monet behind my window blinds

Each time I catch a glimpse of this hill, I am struck by the impressionistic art of nature's current attire. And being privy to such a stunning display, I thought it only right for me to share with you all my daily view, in hopes that I can, in some small manner, do it justice . . .

Monday, October 05, 2009

this 'bow's for you?

Can a rainbow be claimed as one's own simply because it happen's to fall on one rainbow lover's day of birth? I don't see why not . . .

Saturday, October 03, 2009

shining through

It has been raining steadily all day, getting harder as the day progresses. So I had just about given up on my longing to capture some more photos of the season's stunning displays. But then, as we finished dinner, I glanced out the window and noticed that even through the falling rain, the leaves were practically glowing with the setting sun's reflections. In mid-sentence, I said "Hold that thought," and dashed out to snag my camera from the car, braving the weather for the sake of the photos.
And here it is, nature at its stunning best, with no need for any sort of photographic touch-ups.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

the view from here

We had been following narrow gravel roads for an indefinite, but decidedly long, amount of time, seemingly getting closer to pretty much nowhere. As such, we were beginning to wonder about the effectiveness of the climbing guide book's directions, with its striking lack of street names, with directives like "follow the first paved road to the right until you reach a sharp curve of gravel road that becomes a rough dirt road, occasionally impassible, depending upon the time of year . . ." I kept having the urge to console my trusty Toyota and apologize for subjecting her to such treatment.
But then as we rounded one bend I gasped and blurted, "Stop, please!" Understandably perplexed, J did so and waited while I fumbled for my camera and hopped out, and then on top of, the car [for prime viewing purposes]. This, then, is the documentation of the day's climbing adventure, as I'm afraid I did not snap any while scaling the cliffs . . . hopefully the loveliness of this sight will suffice for the snapshot of the day :-)

Friday, September 25, 2009

the scolder's secret

Bathtime!, I call out from upstairs, in my habitual sing-song tone--Lego time's up: chop, chop!
Then I slip into the hallway, folding a Spiderman pajama top and pretending not to be waiting . . . listening for the patter of little running feet . . . watching for the white flash of a little bare bum.
Rinsing the suds out of his blond curls, I "remind" him to put his dirty clothes in the hamper, where he knows they go . . .
What I don't tell him is that I love every second that I spend picking up those tightly rolled jerseys and strewn-about socks. I smile each time I see that forgetfulness, and the sight of a rapidly shed pair of shorts, knickers still propped up inside, more lovely to me than a Mona Lisa smile.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

dreamy conversations

As I have indicated, my seven-year-old charge has quite an intriguing thought life, as children so often do. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that his dream life is also an interesting one--certainly more so than mine at the moment. And as such, I have grown to look forward to those unscripted conversations that come when we are not in the middle of school preparations, bedtime routines, mealtimes, and the like.
Mind you, I do not always have the privilege of such thoughtful insights: sibling relationships being as they are, such conversations are much more likely to occur when big sister is not with us--like this evening . . .
We were heading to the bus drop off, discussing the odd nature of the rain that had been falling in fits and starts all day. Then T launched into the topic of his dreams: one in particular. In this dream, he discovered a new talent for turning pencils into wands. Each pencil that he picked up turned into a different wand. I asked if they each had different spells but he said that no, they did not. He, however, was able to tell all manner of different spells, no matter which wand he held. Because, of course, he was the one with the magic skills, not those pencils: didn't I know pencils couldn't cast spells?
Yes, of course--silly me :-)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

cloudy conversations

My 7-year-old charge and I had the exquisite delight of a 4-hour marathon at the creative children's museum today. Returning home, we spent a portion of the drive in that contented sort of quiet that follows such a happy expenditure of energy. Revealing his own train of silent thought, T interrupted the reverie to note that he had just spotted "one of those spiny-backed dinosaurs--but without a head--made out of clouds." I looked up through the open car top long enough to affirm his assertion, prompting a few other mentions of cloud creatures. He then launched a new series for our conversation: a series of questions that I dutifully responded to after considerable contemplation for each . . .
"What would you do if it started raining . . .
houses? [I would click my heels and say 'there's no place like home']
street signs? [I would get even more lost than is my general tendency]
cars? [I would drive until I felt almost as classy as I currently do in my temporary ride--a convertible VW]
asteroids? [I would dig a hole and burrow for cover]
kittens? [I would adopt 20]
puppies? [I would adopt 1, and name it Kiwi Jr]
. . . And so on. All in all, I decided that T's inner thought life at the time was
considerably more interesting than my own, which was pulled aways from ponderings as
to what I could quickly prepare as a passably edible dinner for us. Yes, I think children have infinitely more intriguing thought lives than those of us on the more old and crotchety end of life :-)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

as nature intended

I have developed a bit of an obsession with the changing colors . . . perhaps easily attributable to this being my first autumn in New England? As such, I was telling Mom this morning that I have been longing to snag a bit of photo-taking time for myself, in the middle of a rather hectic Fall season thus far. So this afternoon, once I had returned from the airport drop-off, I did just that. And now I am unapologetically pleased with the [untouched, edit-wise] resulting shot :-)

Monday, September 07, 2009

not just for boys

Though I've wanted to for some time now, it was not until tonight that I sat in on my stepdad's weekly Kung Fu lesson. Because of a passion for the sport and a love for teaching, he has spent the past year sharing his black belt skills with a few children and their parents. While the basement lighting leaves much to be desired for photographic purposes, I thought this "action shot" illustrated, decently at least, his intensity of dedication. It also, incidentally, has the perk of showing off in the background one of his favorite big kid toys, which I intend to try my hand at as soon as possible :-)

Saturday, September 05, 2009

what's the buzz?

This, disconcerting as the thought may be, is a foot-long hornet's nest that has been living in the front yard of my French students' home. Since discovering it approximately a month ago, the girls' parents have been debating how exactly to undergo the eviction process without risking any lives or limbs in the process. Some of the possibilities included waking in the coldest hour of the night to startle them with a strong whack. They would have a trash bag ready to whisk the entire nest into the freezer--this option would have the benefit of extermination plus preservation, for future posterity. But their mother nixed this idea, deciding that her small freezer was not suited to a hornet's home nestled between the popsicles and frozen peas. So they have just completed round 3 of super-spraying and, seeing no live creatures for the past few days, an intended chopping down this evening. I have entertained the thought of joining in on the fun . . .

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

picking a peck

I actually snapped this shot yesterday, as I admired the bountiful harvest of my apple-picking neighbor. But it seemed rather fitting to share it with you all today, considering the fact that we have just entered the month in which the "harvest" season begins. He admitted to me that he actually did not know what variety these are: the family has always simply titled them "snack apples," referring to their small size, sweet taste and, I would add, picture-perfect appearance :-)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

the summer that almost wasn't

Last I checked, my calendar still read "August." And last I knew, August was considered to be rather strongly positioned in the summertime. As such, there has been a twinge of sadness to my recent delight in the beauty: while passing the trees on my morning running route, I've seen the signs of what I have always thought to be the most lovely of all the seasons.
So today I decided to capture a sampling of these signs, carting my camera along for a bike ride along my normal route. This made for an oddly slow trek, gone about in fits and starts of camera-grabbing pit stops. During one of these pauses, a couple caught up with me for the 4th time as they enjoyed a leisurely family stroll; I told them that they could feel free to brag about how, with a stroller and a Baby Bjorn, they out-paced a solitary biker :-)
I also couldn't help but wonder where my tandem partner was--someone who could pedal me around as I snapped to my heart's content . . .

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

to catch a dragonfly

I saw such a pretty plethora of dragonflies while canoeing this afternoon that I was determined to capture them on film. Doing so proved to be decidedly more difficult than anticipated, however: each time that I thought I had paddled into a suitable position to pull out my camera, the wind would change direction, promptly blowing me directly on top of the poor little creatures I had intended to photograph. My fourth attempt finally worked, though, and I was able to snap this shot of the flitting lovelies.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

here is the steeple . . .

As I enjoyed a post-rain stroll, I stopped to admire this church. It was photographically inspiring to me so, for what I thought was no particular reason, I snapped this shot. Shortly thereafter I described the spot to my dinner host, trying to be as descriptive as possible. There was no need, however, as she was quite familiar with the church: turns out she was married right there, 31 years ago.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


First I stopped to admire this sailboat, being a sucker for any worn, seaworthy vestibules. Then I chuckled at its rather foreboding name . . . is that why this particular vessel is now land-locked and sail-less?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

from the mouth of a babe

The way I think about my mind is that it's like a little library in my brain. There's a little person that's like me in my brain. And if I forget what I'm going to say, then that means that the little person in my brain has just dropped something. So that's how I forget what I wanted to say.
This is the brilliant bit of insight that I just learned from my young friend Maggie. At the age of 6, she already astounds me with her intelligence, and that last comment is just one example of the ways she does so.
Now she is writing a story, and this is what we have so far:
in a big, big, swamp, a big, big, crocodile lived. he was king of the swamp animals. he was a terrifying king.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

is she real?

Thanks to one of today's passers-by, who asked if she could take a photo of the "living" statue, I can offer to you now a vignette of a day in the life of a statue :-)

Saturday, August 08, 2009

being venus

This was my first official day as Sculpture Garden Attendant for the annual week-long art fair. As the only person there, for an all-day affair, I knew I was going to have to be creative in keeping myself occupied [being there to be available in case anyone was interested in a purchase meant no book-reading or leaving my post.
My first duty was to water all the plants, which took a good half hour with the multiple trips to the pond to refill the pitcher. While busying myself with this and, apparently, looking like I knew what I was doing, I was asked what belonged in the vacant spot of the garden. This being the first time I had noticed it, I was a tad bit embarrassed to have to admit that I did not know.
I assumed, however, that one of the intended works of art had not shown up, as this was a similarly mulched and flower surrounded round as those containing the other works of art.
But then it occurred to me that, clearly, I belonged in that spot: thus I proceeded to amuse myself for the remainder of the day by trying my "hand" at being a living sculpture.
Well, who knew: it seems I am relatively good at it, judging by the responses. I soon lost count of how many whispered comments I overheard along the line of "Is she real?". Others were less fooled, so I also ended up with numerous jokes about how there was no price on that one . . . this led to my easy reply that I was, of course, the most expensive piece in the garden. And as all the prices were quite high, they did not want to frighten people by listing such a cost.
The most fun I had, however, was with the children: if they were young enough to simply stare and wonder, I would try goofy tactics like sticking out my tongue at them when I caught their eyes. Once they knew I was "real," I would tell them that people under the age of 12 had a special privilege--that of requesting the next pose of the "statue." This led to some interesting poses to figure out logistically: a dragonfly, for instance. One youngster got so into his job that I finally had to cut him off and say that it was my turn to choose my next pose :-)
Tomorrow I will be back at my sculpture post, so we shall see what the new day brings . . .

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

fungus profusion

I seem to have developed a bit of an obsession with photographing mushrooms. In my own defense, I can blame it on some combination of the nature of my current work, my coworker's encouragement, and the sheer proliferation of various fungi in this area. As I lamented to my boss here, "All I see is mushrooms!" Here is one of them that I particularly liked, standing proud, if not tall [not quite 2 inches in height].

Thursday, July 30, 2009

in the skin

As promised in my "career possibility" post, here is a shot of our newest reptilian addition to the family. I have been watching for him in vain for some time now, but tonight I guess he decided he wanted to show off for company . . . so as we headed out for our post-dinner stroll, we found him slithering along on his own evening jaunt.

Monday, July 27, 2009

it's a bird: it's a . . . lily?

While out kayaking today, we noticed a swan . . . and then realized that, in fact, there are no swans on this lake. It was actually a lily that rather strikingly resembled one: don't you agree?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

alight a lily

Sometimes it's worth it to take a risk. Had I been listening to my inner voice of prudence this afternoon, for instance, I would certainly never have carted my camera into the kayak with me: what novice paddler in her right mind would take such a valuable creative tool into the middle in a lake? But I just could not shake the nagging itch to take a water photo shoot.
And had I not done so, I would have never paddled towards the brilliant burst of bluish-purple of a lily sitting pretty in its pad. I would then have missed the sight, upon nearing the flower, of a flurry of dragonflies, perfectly matching its hue as they lit upon the neighboring leaves.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

that was then . . .

So remember that farm shot from June 20 (["in the [farming] flesh)? Today I was there at that farm again, and was struck by how obvious the passage of time is, there in the gardens. I took this photo to illustrate that fact, as this similarly lovely female farmer is in the same position, location-wise, as was the friend in the June post. How does your garden grow? Quite remarkably, I dare say!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

the world as we know it

This week my mother and I have been working as an "Ambassador Team" for our church. This is the week of Work Camp, during which about 400 high school students from all over the country are staying here at a local school and doing home repair work for houses in the area. Our job has involved going to our assigned sites to get to know the home residents, take photos of the work, and check up on the workers. When the pastor emailed us to give some further information, he asked us to update him as to our experiences. Here is what I wrote, as it occurred to me that it may make for an interesting blog post for you all out in blog-land:
Dear Pastor D,
As you requested feedback, I couldn't help sharing one snippet from the rounds Mom and I made today.  I don't know if you were familiar with the devotional they did today, but it was about opening our eyes to poverty, and to the different ways it manifests itself in our world.  At one site, we were listening in and, after the time of minute-long reflections on each of the 5 facts about poverty, the question was raised as to how we reacted personally to them.  Most were the expected sorts of replies concerning how strange it seems that life reality for many involves spending great deals of time and energy expended for things that we take for granted [drinking water, food, not risking malaria with each mosquito bite, etc].
But then one young man, in the most strikingly matter-of-fact manner, said that the AIDS statistics made him think of his mother.  After a brief moment, he continued, saying that she had died of the disease in 2002 . . .
How fittingly stark of a reminder, it seemed to me, that we need not search for long for "poverty" and "sickness," as in its various forms it is as close to us as our next-door-neighbor.
Here is a photo to go with this event, as it is of 2 of the group members reflecting, right after the other had shared his perspective.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

a diamond in the rough

Once we had finished introducing our small stuffed bull to the field's resident milk cows, we headed out in a different way than we had entered. Our hope was that we could locate a better exit than the rickety barbed wire fence we had precariously maneuvered for lack of an obviously better entrance point . . . but that is another story :-)
This particular post is about the fact that, as we tramped through the mud, Mel pointed out a striking butterfly; it had, as she noted, chosen a rather odd spot in which to linger. I agreed, but also found it beautiful, in a strange and unexpected sort of way . . .

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

career possibility?

Lou and I enjoyed a mini-adventure the other night. During dinner, the neighbor called, a bit frantic after multiple calls to AWOL family members. This neighbor is actually quite a hardy sort: a no-nonsense New Englander who is accustomed to taking care of her family in a quite self-sufficient manner. But this time she was perplexed as to how to coax a 3-foot snake out of her bedroom. Not knowing what kind it was, she was not ready to get close enough fish it out of the corner where it had been persistently camped out for the day. She explained that she was only calling for help as she could not envision falling asleep with it there: daytime was one thing, but overnight was quite another.
So Lou leapt into action as Mom relayed the details of the call, and shortly thereafter we were heading across the street. Lou asked if I wanted to be Moses or Aaron, and I opted for Moses, as this meant I would get to bear the large "staff" . . . if it worked for Moses, Lou reasoned, it should work for us :-)
Sure enough, we emerged victorious a bit later that evening: Lou's garden-gloved hands grasped firmly around the neck of a quite handsome, and good-sized, Garter. We decided we should go into business together, as we apparently made quite a team of snake handlers. And to round out the evening's successes, we returned to Mom and announced that we had a 4th "child" for her to add to her brood of garden-dwelling Garters. Stay tuned for a visual aid . . .

Monday, July 06, 2009

no mermaids here

In case any of you out there in blog-land were tempted to lose hope, here is proof that today I at least got my feet wet :-)

Sunday, July 05, 2009

"sunshine on our shoulders . . ."

. . . makes us mighty pleased to live on a lake on such a weekend as this one has been! I'm afraid I have to admit, however, that I have not braved the lake water --yet--but I am happily documenting those who do :-)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

family style

Tonight I teased Lou for knowing how to treat his women right--my mother and I, that is. We were out for a fine evening, being wined and dined in style . . . true to our family's style: it was a busy day for us all, you see. My work day ended slightly early, as I had to head out a bit before usual for a doctor's appointment. Mom was accompanying me for the exciting outing, after her weekly dump run. Rendezvousing in the Hannaford's parking lot, we consolidated cars and continued for the hour commute to the clinic. A few directional issues later, we were headed back to our planned meeting point.
Lou had gone from work to the nursing home to visit his mother and, afterwards, he joined us back in the parking lot. Thanks to cell phone correspondence, our evening was well synchronized: Lou hopped from the subaru into the jeep, I doled out the plastic utensils from the back seat, and we ate our pita chips and pasta salad in the grocery store lot, Lou in his srubs and mom with her hair still damp from the pool. First course in our "progressive dinner.
Our intended next stop was down the road to the donut shop, to use a gift card . . . but it had already closed for the evening, here in our bustling metropolis. So we settled for a convenience store, where we got hot chocolate from the vending machine. Lou and I ping ponged potential lyrics for our own version of "Hey Diddle Diddle" while Mom gave her order at the Quik Stop. We debated the effects of the new tax law instated as we lingered there in the parking lot. Then, polishing off the last of the date bar we passed around to split between us, we headed back to the grocery store, split into our respective vehicles, and wound along the country roads, home to the pets and people awaiting. Just another day . . .
Funny the sorts of things that make you muse on how sweet it is to be a part of a family :-)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

in that blue canoe

After watching folks out and about on the lake today, I figured I had better get out there too . . . in that blue canoe :-)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

a blue canoe . . .

. . . and the morning light made this too lovely of a sight to resist: I ran past it . . . then raced home, grabbed my camera, and returned before the photo op had run away :-)

Monday, June 22, 2009

yesterday's poem

Inspired by a contest being run by a local Ice Cream Parlor, I wrote a poem for my stepdad for Father's Day. The subject was "What flavor ice cream would your Dad be, and why?" This is what I ended up with . . .
*Note: circumstances portrayed are entirely fictional ;-)

Ode to a Flavor

"If you were an ice cream, Pop, what flavor'd you be?"
"Why, plain old vanilla, I reckon," said he.

Raising my eyebrows & frowning, I turned,
And looked at my Mama, so serene & so learned.

"Mother-Dear," said I, "what do you say on this one?
You've always been right, judging from who's lost & who's won . . . "

"Surely," she said then, "I know just the one:
Rocky Road, I would think, and this here's the rea-zun:

It suits him quite perfectly, I'm sure you'll agree--
A bit messy, a bit nutty and, I guess, well, rock-y" ;-)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

in the [farming] flesh

After I made my daily purchase [swiss chard], I was pleased to glimpse my radish-bearing, farming friend behind the shed. After snapping this shot, I called out to her that I had "gotten" her this time on film. She laughed and replied that so long as she looked happy she didn't mind . . . I replied that she needn't fear as, so far as I am concerned, she always looks perfectly, contentedly cheery.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

hettie & herb

The afternoon's encounter with a delightful couple, with tales to tell, prompted this photograph. This photograph, in turn, prompted its own story: as I requested permission to capture them on film, Herb launched into the rousing account of a high-speed chase along the River Thames, back during the 2nd World War . . .

Monday, June 15, 2009

back to the farm

. . . this time camera in hand, prepared to provide a proper visual aid of the day's agricultural selections.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

radish-ly radiant

1 bunch swiss chard $1.25
1 bunch lettuce leaf $0.75
1 lb rhubarb $0.75
Total $2.25
(plus 1 bunch radishes $0.75)
New total $3.00

So I scrawled on a piece of yellow notebook paper in a little blue shed this afternoon, as we deposited our change in the aluminum tin.
Mom and I discovered a farm. Then we saw the sign for produce. And what we found inside left us open-mouthed with the thrill of a happy discovery: a bountiful harvest of the most beautiful vegetables you could possibly imagine. We were mildly disappointed when we saw that the radish bin was empty, save a few small wilted leaves.
But as we walked out, a stunning picture came towards us: a small sprightly woman in rubber boots, leather gloves, and a farmer's sunhat. In her hands she held 5 bunches of gloriously scarlet and strikingly huge radishes. She was a sight for sore eyes, and I told her so. But as I did not have my camera in hand, I had to rescind my spontaneous request to take her picture. Later today, mom obliged my plea for a substitute holder-of-the-radishes . . . beautiful, no? :-)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

the nose knows

Day 2 was spent with another friend, who has a curly-headed little one named Jack. Before I departed this morning, Jack was kind enough to inspect my car for its travel readiness. He pointed knowingly at the hood and told me his expert diagnosis. After wards, his mother enlightened me as to what he was telling me . . . this, he was saying, is the "nose" of my car. But of course it is :-)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

becca's blooms

Night 1 of my road-tripping adventure was spent with my friend Becca and her kindly hospitable household. Becca is, quite simply, beautiful. She also happens to be a gifted gardener. Consequently, I spent the evening enamored with her glorious blooms. Her roses smell like my Oma's garden. And her cabbage plants have the most perfectly cabbage-patch-like baby spheres. So I could not resist snapping this shot of Becca and her cabbage patch kids :-)

Friday, June 05, 2009

a family photo

I did a family photo shoot for a friend today and, after the "normal" family photos, I did a few randomly inspired shots . . . not surprisingly to me, these were the photos that I ended up liking the most: here's a sample :-)

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

and the livin' is easy

I made an unfortunate discovery recently, after a few horrendous photos: my camera lens, it seems, has gone on the fritz. But this has ended up leading to a highly fortunate outcome--I have discovered the joy of manual photography . . . and, consequently, a bit of an obsession with experimentation.
So today I snagged a moment for a photo walk. And the obvious choice of a destination, in my mind at least, was the carousel; my suspicion was that I just might happen upon some perfectly summertime-ly subjects . . . I think I did :-)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

a bit of earth

Can it be true? Dare I hope that the bud shall blossom, that the fruit shall flourish? Could I have miraculously managed to nurture such a delicately vegetal life?
I do dare . . . do choose to hope, against reason, perhaps, that this small sphere signifies some small seed of a successful gardener within my unlikely-exteriored self . . .

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

in the act

In case you have been inclined to disbelieve my tales of such oddities as green eggs and shameful egg-thievery, I humbly submit this photographic bit of evidence to you, the jury: this is me, today, caught in the act of said green-egg-theft . . . um, would that be caught green-handed? :-)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

it's just a piece of paper . . .

. . . but I must admit to being rather fond of it :-)