Friday, December 30, 2016

Happy New Year: Looking Back

To go wrong in one's own way is better than to go right in someone else's.” 

― Fyodor DostoyevskyCrime and Punishment

I admit it. My worldview can be a little skewed. The things that attract or interest me aren't always the ones that others like. I see beautiful landscapes and, I admit, I am a little jealous. I don't have the equipment or the expertise to do what these people do. However, I've discovered I like my own smaller viewpoint just fine. So here are a few of my favorites this year. You may or may not agree. There are probably some that you like better. Or you may not like any of my pictures. I've put them all in square format to keep it simple. Your comments are welcome. 

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Happy Winter Solstice

As I write this, I am reflecting on a year that has been less than stellar in a lot of ways. A lot of good people died. A man will be the next President whom I fear will be a bad fit and cause a lot of problems. I can't help but wonder what the next few years will be like. I can only cling to what I know: my husband, my son and daughter-in-law, my brother and his wife, my mother, my extended family. 

As I write this, one of the last of my uncles is dying. He's actually younger than his older sister, my mother. When I was a little girl we used to visit my grandparents on Sundays. For several years he was living at home and going to college. He had been in the navy, had been a football player in high school and in the navy. When we visited on Sundays, he was usually sitting on a chair with his feet up. I would go over to him and he would put a nickel between his thumb and forefinger and tell me to try to take it out. Of course I never could. Sometimes he let me have the nickel. Sometimes he didn't. He was there for Christmas dinners as were some of my other uncles and aunt. 

I used to enjoy Christmas. I often wondered why my parents didn't. It wasn't such a big thing when they were growing up. They didn't have a load of presents under the tree. There were always lots of presents under our tree, but I was always reminded how lucky I was. Do you really want to hear that constantly when you're a kid? That came from my Dad. He didn't mean to be that way, I realize. He was really a good father in a lot of ways, but I think the whole excesses of the season that he saw after the war ended in 1945 got to him. 

When our son came along, I decided to do things differently. I wasn't always successful. Sometimes I made things more difficult than they should have been. I wanted a storybook Christmas. That's the problem with stories. They aren't true. Yet you start believing them. 

There are some lovely things though. This picture is one of them. When my son was in cub scouts he made this sled ornament out of Popsicle sticks. It's a fairly common craft. What made it special was that "Rosebud" he painted on. I was in one of my period "I adore 'Citizen Kane'" moods and had told him about it. If that seems a little young to some of you, I wanted him to learn about good films even then. He watched a couple of years later. He was still young, but he got it and liked it. It's still one of my favorites. 

So this is one ornament I will NEVER EVER throw away. Maybe I will arrange to have it cremated with me unless Rob wants it. 

Sometimes I talk to young women with their children. I hope they realize how lucky they are. I hope they realize how fleeting it is. I hope they are ABLE to have the time to enjoy their children to the fullest. Because it just goes by so damn fast. One day you're holding a baby in your arms, the next you're taking them to college and the next they are visiting you and helping you with some of the chores that you can't do yourself anymore. I hope my son looks back on his life when I'm not around and remembers more of the good things. 

As for my greeting, I'm feeling contrary. No Merry Christmas for me this year. I'm sticking with Happy Solstice. My cards are going to be a Philadelphia scene with a Happy New Year sentiment. 2016 Has been a crappy year. A lot of good people died. My Uncle John is dying. That will cap off the year although we still have this month to get through. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

"There Are A Few Things In Life That Are So Beautiful They Hurt"

There are a few things in life that are so beautiful they hurt:

swimming in the ocean when it rains

reading alone in empty libraries

the sea of stars that appear when you're miles away from the neon lights of the city

bars after 2 am

walking in the wilderness

all the phases of the moon

the things we do not know about the universe

and you


 Some things never leave us. It may seem silly that I still mourn my little white cat, Kinsey, but I do. We had to euthanize her after first her rear legs, then her front legs went. She was in pain. It was obvious. She was 16 years old. She had a good life with us, but until her legs went out, she was still pretty active. We had someone come to the house to euthanize her so that she wouldn't have to go to the vet. She was so frightened of the vet. I miss her. It's been four months, but I miss her.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. – By John F. Kennedy

It's evening as I write this. Another Thanksgiving Day is coming to a close. Now it begins: the craziness and the beauty of the weeks before Christmas. I've already seen lights on some homes and some people have shared pictures of their trees up and decorated. I plan to start decorating for the holiday season. I will say up front that I'm not a Believer in the Judaeo Christian tradition. However, I do enjoy the lights, the colors, the sounds, the smells and traditions of Christmas. I've told people at times that I prefer to celebrate Winter Solstice and get some odd looks. 
One of the things I dread is social media postings about "keep Christ in Christmas" or "Share this if you still say Merry Christmas" or one of my favorites "Are you afraid to say Merry Christmas? Share this if you're not." UGH UGH UGH is my reaction. More than once I've said that nobody CARES if you want to say Merry Christmas, but that's mostly aimed at stores that DARE to tell their workers to wish people Happy Holidays. Because actually there is more than one holiday season in short period. 
Some people get annoyed when you tell them that Christ was actually born in March based on the fact that there were lambs in the fields, and that the celebration of the birth of Christ was moved to December to replace Saturnalia. If you think about it, that's a pretty masterful stroke. Don't try to wean people away from their celebration of light at the darkest time of the year. Supplant it with a religious theme. They did the same with churches which were built atop the ruins of Roman temples. Cathedrals were often built right on the same site. So there are layers and layers of history in one spot. 
That all begins tomorrow though. Right now, I'm going to try to enjoy that lovely feeling of having had a nice meal with my family. That's the best I can do at the moment before the mad rush of the holidays begins. 
On the other hand, I'm looking forward to some terrific photo ops! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

"Autumn Paints In Colors Summer Has Never Seen."


Fall color always comes late in October in the Mid Atlantic area. Despite that people always seem to be surprised. They are always surprised at the lingering warm weather, the changes in temperature from day to night. I'm not sure why. If you pay ANY attention to the world around you, you'll see that both fall and spring are times when the weather is in flux. It's normal. It really is. We'll see the same thing in  the spring. We'll see people say how the weather is crazy. No it's not. As a kid I can remember Halloweens when it was freezing and others when it was so warm that I sweated under the heavy layers my mother insisted on swaddling me in lest I catch a cold. We lived in Maryland until recently and went to a park that was planted with tulips. Some years it was warm and beautiful full of picnickers and people playing frisbee. Other times it was cold and windy. This year fall colors came in very late. The best color I saw was in November in Pennypack Park which is right near where we are living right now. It's reminiscent of a book by the found of Temple University, Acres of Diamonds. Sometimes the best things are in your own backyard. 


Catching Up

I had forgotten about my photo blog, so I am catching up today with a selection of photos from March-October. Fall Pictures are not included. That's a separate post .

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Looking Around

"To be engrossed by something outside ourselves is a powerful antidote for the rational mind, the mind that so frequently has it's head up it's own ass- seeing things in such a darkly and narcissistic way that it presents a colo-rectal theology, offering hope to no one."

Getting read to move has caused me, to a certain extent, to do exactly this. The phrase "I'm too old for this comes to mind" as we box things up. I've discarded yet more books, but there are many - probably too many - that I can't let go. So they will be moved to the new place, and probably to the NEXT new place. I have put several of my books into a book swapping website and found instant interest. That will give me more points so I can get yet more books. Meanwhile, I am continuing to read "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott and marveling. Why didn't I read this before?  I ask myself. I've had it sitting on a shelf for years while I wasted too much time on Facebook trying to have a "discussion" that will ultimately go nowhere, or watched a political show on television that ultimately set my teeth on edge. 

I've wondered on and off why I've become so engrossed in photography. I think I've found the answer. As a kid I was always interested in what was going on around me. I still am. Some people think of that as being nosy. Seeing two people sitting and talking and hearing snatches of their conversation get me thinking about what it would be like to be a part of that conversation or makes me glad I'm NOT a part of it. When I hear an interesting conversation, I long to be a part of it. Interesting conversations are few and far between. Getting interested in photography has made me interested in faces and movement and more. I see the world in a different way - in a way more like the kid I was. 

I walked back and forth to school four times a day. It was nearly a mile. We had to go home for lunch if we lived less than a mile because my Catholic school was so crowded and lacked lunch facilities. This was the baby boom time. Our classes were large, our world view was narrow. We had just "won the war" as my parents liked to say. Looking back, it wasn't so long after World War II, but it seemed like a million years before. 

I was a loner kid who didn't have a lot of friends, so I often walked by myself. Looking back, that wasn't a bad thing. It made me look around and see since I wasn't engrossed in conversation that would, most likely, be quickly forgotten. There are few things that I remember, but I do remember this: the smell of spring and walking home on a windy day at lunch time and feeling the wind trying to pick me up. It was a little frightening but also exhilarating. Would I be blown away?

And what exactly does spring smell like? I may have mentioned that to someone and got ridiculed. I do remember keeping things like that to myself. It seemed as if talking about the things around you - the smells, the sights - made you seem a bit weird. Well, that's fine. I've come to terms with THAT! 

Some of my questions annoyed my parents because they were unanswerable. I always wanted to know why people lied, why they said the things they said. My Dad used to tell stories about his childhood that made me laugh. My mother mostly talked about how poor they were although she had a few stories that evoked the time. One of them is about homogenized milk. They didn't have that when she was growing up. The milk would be delivered with the cream on the top. Her brothers would grab a bottle and drink the cream which would make my grandmother really mad. On a cold morning the cream would be partially frozen. What a treat! 

Am I the only person who occasionally buys a container of heavy cream and sneaks a little bit to drink. It's such a luxurious feeling. 

The world is full of beautiful and not so beautiful sights, smells and textures of all kinds that both attract and repel. However, even the ones that repel can also attract. A fence with barbed wire, a graffiti covered wall, a street full of empty buildings, flowers, mountains, water, great food, movement of all kinds and more are there for all of us to enjoy. 

Then there are those moments in time that evoke a memory for me: a little girl getting her nails done at a street festival & geese making their way through a crowd enjoying a day of fiddlers. 

What the world needs now is less navel gazing and more looking around and seeing, in my opinion.