Category Archives: NaBloPoMo


3 things I’m grateful for:

1) My crazy spun-in-a-blender (vs “blended”) family, with all their quirks and differences. And especially, my husband, who has had to put up with a lot of my family stuff recently and has been very understanding about it.

2) That the leaves on the trees are starting to turn. I’ll miss summer, but I like to watch the leaves reveal their true colors. It always fascinates me that the color in leaves is there all the time, but that we only see it once they stop photosynthesizing and producing chlorophyll.

3) That the library sends email notifications before books are due. Since the local library and I just became friends again (I know some would be aghast that I haven’t made use of the library for a few years; others at the amount I’ve spent in bookstores during the same timeframe), I have determined to not accumulate late charges. Have only read 2 out of the 5 books. How could it be time to return them already?

Soon the woods will look like this: crisp autumn morning

Bits & Pieces & Bullet Points

Bonita Beach

* I realized that my digital photographs are now in the same state of arrangement as my film photographs. But like everything else in this speeded up digital world, it only took me 5 years — mostly in the last two, but 5 sounds better — to achieve the same degree of chaos as I have with over 30 years of print & negatives. Why am I surprised?

* Best quote of the week: Life keeps coming at you. Isn’t that the truth!

* Books read: < 1. Total pages read: probably < 100.

* I'm liking the cooler weather. I'm not liking having to wear heavier clothes.

* # of days of total stress, in the last 7: 6

* # of opportunities to realize how thankful I am for loving family & friends: countless.

TGIS — and that tomorrow starts a new week. Hope yours is great!

Photo Friday: Glowing

When I read this week’s Photo Friday prompt, I immediately thought that I didn’t have anything that fit the prompt “GLOWING”. If that were really the case, I would not have spent the last two hours looking through folder after folder of pictures that I could have used. I finally settled on this one — over glowing sunsets or harbor mornings, over bright, sunlit clouds and bright lights of Big Cities reflected in building windows — because I like the way that the girl’s dress has the same colors as the light sculpture behind her and that both sets of colors are reflected in the water. I also chose it because I suspect that the children’s faces are glowing as well. Can’t you see that in this picture?

Glowing Feet; Glowing Faces

Taken May, 2010, Crown Fountain in Millennium Park, Chicago, Canon Rebel xSI, 1/400, f5.6, ISO 400

Some things in nature are beautiful, but you need to keep away

I have to say, bees, wasps and hornets fascinate me, even though, like ants, the social colony aspect of them seems creepy to me. I also think that it is a good thing that these creatures are so tiny, because they would be truly horrifying to look upon if they grew to the same scale as humans.

I started noticing yellow jacket activity near one of my hummingbird feeders the other day. I watched for a while, from several different angles to see if I could find where they were coming from. I was concerned that it might be one of the house soffits. In another house, many years ago, I had a huge yellow jacket next in the attic space. I found out about it when they ate through the drywall ceiling and filled my house. My son was in kindergarten and learning to count to 100. After the terminator had fogged the house and we vacated for eight hours, we returned and B practiced his counting as we cleaned up. I think we reached 100 about 8 or 9 times — and that didn’t include the ones that I vacuumed from chair cushions and window sill corners. But, more memorable, was when the contractor tore out the dry wall, filling a large trash can with wallboard and hive. The sticky sweet stench was overpowering. It was in hopes of avoiding a repeat that I tried to find the nest.

The next day, as I was returning from my morning walk, I noticed a constantly moving stream of winged creatures near one of my shrubs. And then I saw it, hanging like a paper lantern, under one of the limbs that reached out over the drainage ditch.

I got close enough to it to see that they weren’t yellow-jackets and to decide that I needed to call an terminator. I also thought: Cool! I need to go put my macro lens on my camera! I can get some great shots.

Luckily, I gathered some practical sense and decided to look on the internet to see what sort of winged stingy things these were. Turns out that Bald-Faced Hornets are one of the more aggressive stingy waspy things in this part of the world and that they don’t need much to provoke them. Revised plan: telephoto lens.

The hive really is beautiful, but I’m glad that I wasn’t stung repeatedly. I would have liked to have held the nest, to feel how heavy — or light — it was. The texture of the nest, the way that the wavy lines gently swirl around the asymmetrical sphere: beautiful. In the late afternoon light, hidden in the shadow of the evergreen, it seems as smooth and cool as a piece of opaque art glass.

The terminator apparently came by this afternoon and removed the remains as he said he would. I won’t experience the stench of their sap and remains. I wish that they had chosen to build their home this summer high up in a tree, far away from my driveway and mailbox and the street, someplace where I could have left them undisturbed, where they could have stayed in their beautiful home without posing a threat to us humans who claim this space too.

Why I’m afraid that I would never finish Joyce’s Ulysses if I started it

At the end of the book, the characters Molly and Bloom drift off to sleep under “[t]he heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.”

I found this quote somewhere yesterday. (I don’t remember where, unfortunately. I’ll update this later if I find it again.)
Update: How could I have forgotten where I saw this? Facebook news feed from Metropolitan Museum of Art referring to Richard Hamilton’s print The Heaventrees of Stars.

How could you ever want to reach the end of something that contains such beauty?

Heaventree of stars

humid nightblue fruit

Absolutely lovely.

Must amend To Be Read list. Must find time.

Spam. A Lot.

For years my sister tried to get my octogenarian mother to get on the internet. You need email, she claimed. “Are you going to get rid of the spam for her”, my older sister would ask. “Or help her recover from shock when she opens some of those emails?” I would add. “You know she will not read the subject closely and thing that someone is trying to sell her pens. ‘Why do I want large pens?’ she’ll ask?”

Mom dragged her feet for years. A few years ago, she and her husband set up an account, but afraid of spam, they blocked every email address that isn’t in their contacts. This was a good idea, except for one thing: they didn’t have any contacts.

Now my mother is constantly griping about “The Facebook” and how it is a stupid idea that she doesn’t understand. “I haven’t ever seen it”, she cries, “and I don’t need to! Why do you want all that stuff out there. Seems dangerous! And stupid!”. I received an FB friend request from my aunt the other day. Could it be that Mom may reluctantly join too?

At least with FB, there isn’t much of a chance of pornographic spam directed at seniors. In fact, I’ve noticed that much of what gets trapped in my email filters these days are not trying to sell me things to enlarge appendages that I do not possess. Could it be that the spam pornographers have moved on to something else? I basically don’t get when spammers spam. What on earth do they get in response to those crazy messages?

The ones that I get on this blog are even more perplexing. Today, a comment was trapped that asked if I spent a lot of time thinking about my blog posts before I wrote it. The comment’s author apparently didn’t think a lot about spelling or grammar. How am I sure that it was spam? I followed the link — probably exactly what the spammer wanted. Oh no! Now he knows that he spammed a real person and he probably knows my ISP too! Allegedly, the site was for decorating services. The entries were poorly translated, but there wasn’t much there except for really informative copy that indicated that a kitchen was were you do the cooking. The comments said things like “this is a nice site. I like products. I may have a bed.” There didn’t appear to be anything actually sold on this site, though I suppose that there could have been some sort of virulent computer-born illness downloaded and now infecting my machine.

What? For what purpose? It’s too much to think about why. Instead, just enjoy some spam, or some lobster thermador with delicious stuff & spam. Or just watch Monty Python!

No Words Today

in a moment

Maybe it is because of the 9/11 coverage for the last week, most of which I have avoided — not because I don’t want to remember, not because I don’t need video footage replay and endless commentary to remember, and not because I think it is unimportant.

Maybe it is because I’ve seen carnage by the side of the highway recently: one slight distraction, one curve into the other lane at the wrong moment in a driving rainstorm.

Maybe it is because I am dealing with frail, elderly parents and have seen too many hospitals and health care centers recently that I can smell that unmistakable combination of human fluids, disinfectant and desperate, hopeful prayers in my dreams.

I don’t know the reason, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how things in one’s life can change in an instant. How everything you have planned for a day, or for a life, can crumbled to the ground, get twisted into a different form, or create a new rhythm on the heart monitor.

Certainly anyone who knew anyone in the twin towers learned that lesson ten years ago. Many of us who were hundreds of miles away and saw buildings disintegrate into a dusty nothingness and knew it wasn’t a special effect learned that too. For those who were there, it was inhaling the dust cloud that enveloped city blocks and the thunderous roar of the collapse, and later, for days, the stench of the smoldering rubble. For those of us watching on tv, it was the ear-shattering quietness that covered hearts and frightened our souls.

Driving down the interstate, it is too easy to rubber-neck at the accident site, almost as easy as driving by without noticing who is in the car, who is beside it, whether it will be drivable again, or if there will be an empty place at someone’s dinner table this evening.

Walking through the ICU ward a few weeks ago, I noticed that the names had changed on the boards, but I couldn’t have told you which ones, only the one that I knew. How easy it must be if you worked there to not remember who was there the shift before, or last week, though everyone I encountered cared deeply for the health, comfort and safety of their charges.

“Life is too difficult, sometimes” a friend of mine said to me the other day. Then added, after a pause: “I guess it is always that way.”

Things do change in a blink of an eye. You can wake one morning and have everything planned, not knowing what will lie around the corner at 10am. It is always the sudden, the tragic, the life-shattering that we remember: the moment that changes everything. It is as tangible as a moment can be, something to hang on to.

Yet, there are moments that we never know at the time what it will bring. Sometimes the ball starts rolling towards us and we don’t pick it out until later, or, sometimes, too late.

There are other unexpected moments we remember. People talk about love at first sight. A good part of the movie industry has been about just that (and, one could argue, the other part of the industry is about making movies for those other tangible moments). We believe in it, just as we believe that we won’t be in the wrong spot at the wrong time when the building collapses, or the car crashes, or the heart stop beating. In the blink of an eye, someone falls in love. Sometimes, it is years later and there is suddenly the realization that you’ve been in love since you met. It would be sad to realize that you didn’t know until later that you didn’t recognize it, but with love, unlike tragedy, loss and death, you feel good, so it doesn’t seem to matter much.

Life is difficult, as my friend said. Difficult, unplanned things that we cannot control can seem to overshadow all else. Being open to the unexpected, to grace, in all things just might take away some of the fear of straying too far from the life well-planned. But it is damn difficult to do.

I came across this quote today by WH Auden: “The difficulty for a writer…is that it seems to be a law of language that happiness, like goodness, is almost impossible to describe, while conflict, like evil, is all too easy to depict.” Maybe that is because we hang on to the memories of the terror so much that we know the language in which to describe them. I have told and been told stories — true, life stories — before that seem unbelievable. My cousin has said frequently about our extended family: “If you wrote it in a fiction workshop, the instructor would say: No way! Too unrealistic!” I’m sure that all of our lives are like that at some point.

Is there ever a day when you can’t say “I didn’t think today would be like this when I got up”? Would we really ever want a day like that? Sure, a day without airplanes hitting buildings, and bridges collapsing, and murders unsolvable, and unspeakable violence that we know the words to too well: nobody wants a day like that. But the other moments – the ones that we find so difficult to genuinely mark — isn’t that what we really want: inexpressible joy, beauty, grace?

Maybe I’ve been thinking about this because of 9/11, or car accidents, or illness and what I know is to come of it. Those things do make me hold those close to me closer. But wouldn’t it be nice if I was thinking about how things can change in the blink of an eye because, unknowingly, I saw someone fall in love and that made me want to hold loved ones closer still?

Photo Friday: Near

This week’s prompt for Photo Friday: Near.

Blue Far Away

Return Trip

Late last night I received a call from my son. He was still in the design lab, working on a project. He said he had an appointment at Wright-Patterson AFB today, but, knocked low with a cold, didn’t want to make a 3 1/2 hr drive by himself. What he wanted, he implied, was a chauffeur, so that he could sleep for a few hours. I didn’t have anything on my agenda that needed to be done today, so I told him that I would be glad to drive him the 2 hours from my house.

When he arrived this morning, he told me that my movement on the base would be limited, so I needed to find a place where I could hang out for a few hours. Since I couldn’t get on the base without him, he had to drop me off someplace; I couldn’t drop him, unless he was going to walk some distance from the main gate. Since it was a dreary, rainy day, that didn’t make a lot of sense, although, as we drove in, he did point out several of the places where he has run previously in the Air Force Marathon. Had he not been sniffling today and if it had not been raining, I might have teased him that those very sights certainly meant that he could meet me and that I could have my car for the duration of his business on base.

While I considered a coffee shop and even contemplated the high-caloric snacks at one of them, I decided that I would wander around the Air Museum located adjacent to the Base. If I grew tired of the museum, I could wait in the cafe until he was done. He promised that he would be done before the museum closed at 5 and would not leave me stranded in the rain.

Heading to the museum, I thought about the first time that I had visited. It was in the early 70’s and we had, with a lot of help from my mother, convinced my father to go to King’s Island Amusement Park. But, a concession was needed: Dad said that there needed to be an educational component to the trip. Of course, we were not allowed to choose what that would be; he did: the Air Force Museum. “It’s on the way. We don’t have to stay there for long.” Somehow, I think that we all knew that would not be the case since planes were involved.

Some basic facts: Indianapolis to Cincinnati is a 2 hour trip. Indianapolis to the museum, located near Dayton is approximately a 2 hr 20 minute trip. Dayton to Cincinnati is about 40 minutes. There are now, as there were in the early 70’s, interstate highways leading directly to both locales. The museum — even to the most geographically challenged, which would never have described my father in any circumstances — is not “on the way” to King’s Island. You wouldn’t even end up there by missing an exit on the highway. One requires traveling due east on I-70. The other requires a drive southeasterly on I-74. The entrances to each interstate are located 7 miles apart.

This is the only “long cut” that I’m aware of my father ever taking. He must have really wanted to go if he put up for an extra hour in a car on a hot August day with four young girls, restless to ride roller coasters and not a bit interested in air planes. He warned us, as the car pulled into the parking lot, that every time we asked “How much longer?” he would extend the amount of time that we stayed. My sisters and I looked at each other as we surveyed the seemingly small airplane hangar. We knew we could last without that question. “That’s it? “Let’s go!”

I don’t remember much about that building, but I vaguely recall that there wasn’t much in it, other than a few displays. We tried to push on quickly, encouraging Dad to not read every placard. We acted interested, urging him towards the next display by asking “Tell us about this one!” Soon, we were at the end of the hangar. Even my mother looked anxious to get back on the road.

“But we have to go out back”, my father said. We tried to act enthusiastic, although we hoped that there wouldn’t be another hangar. Instead there was a very large field — filled with air planes. A few months earlier I had flown for the first time from Chicago. I had been allowed to fly by myself and I was convinced I was a savvy air traveler. “There’s more planes than at O’Hare” I complained “and they aren’t even going anywhere!”

I’m sure it wasn’t true, but that field that day — as we walked by every plane listening to Dad, posing for pictures at several of them — seemed at least twice the size of the amusement park. It was well after lunch when we left Dayton. I remember my sister lecturing me to not be grumpy or Dad would head back home. Eventually, hot, hungry and exhausted, we arrived at the park and were awarded by Dad telling us that we could stay until the end of the fireworks show at 11pm. I think that might have received some grumbling from my mother, but we were off to ride the tilt-a-whirl and it didn’t matter.

I don’t know if my father ever returned to the museum, but he had a lifelong love of flying machines. Sometime in the mid 70’s he earned his glider pilot’s license. Several years ago, for his 15th birthday, I took my son for a sailplane ride. In the middle of a corn field not unlike the ones near Dayton, he hitched a tow with someone from the Soaring Society. That day, there was an older gentleman who had known my father. He no longer flew, but he would come out to the airstrip to watch the takeoffs. A few weeks later, I received in the mail a copy of a photograph taken the day my dad had his first solo flight.

The museum, now named The National Museum of the US Air Force, still has a few planes outside, but most of them are now housed inside the sprawling museum. I didn’t have time to go through the entire museum, but it was fun to roam as I did. I didn’t remember the interactive displays from my last visit, when my son was about 12, but I thought they were cool this time. Like a child, I played with all of them. It is apparently a good thing that I don’t have to stop a spinning helicopter rotor, or capture a drifting space telescope. I think I walked just as far, though, as I did on that hot summer day 40 years ago when all I really wanted to do was ride a roller coaster.

My son, after his appointment today, is one step closer to AF flight school. I still have some reservations about his decision to join the military, though he is an adult and it is his path to choose. One thing I’m sure of though: flying must be in his blood.