The photo challenge for this week? Escape. So many associations….especially if you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. With whom would you plan an escape? I planned one with my oldest daughter yesterday. It was the only day I wasn’t scheduled to work in a museum this week, and she had just finished her last paper for her Master’s degree in Linguistics, so we decided to spend the day together celebrating Mother’s Day and her Graduation all at once. We planned to go to the Schlitz Audubon Center and play on the beach, but it was rainy and cold. Change of plans…
Escape can be running away; it can be freedom from entrapment; or it can be an egress or way of going forth, like helium from a balloon. A linguistics student might tell you the etymology of the word and how it relates to “escapade” and “vomitorium” (think “fire escape”)….which is why I recommend taking a linguist with you when you go for your weekly challenge photo shoot! Think of the interpretations that might open up for you! For example: in botany, a plant that becomes established in the wild outside of the area of cultivation is called an escape. (I have lots of botanical examples!) And all of us with computers know the little key in the upper left marked “Esc”. And birthing my daughter might be another example of escape as well…but maybe that’s a bit too graphic! (it was 28 years ago; no digital photos of that, lucky for you!) Here, then, are some of my shots of that marvelous day spent with my brilliant companion, Susan:
The mouth-watering prompt of this week’s photo challenge depicts a plate of cheeses from Italy with a pool of honey in the center. “Why aren’t we living in Italy?” Steve asked me just a few weeks ago. Good question. No good answer. But this post is not about cheese, or Italy, or even honey, but about angle and perspective. “Share a photo of a subject which you shot from directly above.” I have a new batch of shots from our hike along the Ice Age trail, so I looked through to find one which would be up to this challenge. Aha! Here it is:
I remember how any bridge on a trail hike would be an opportunity to play “Pooh sticks” when I was a kid. Just like Winnie the Pooh and Piglet, my sisters and I would choose a likely twig to toss into the water on the upstream side of the bridge. Then we’d wheel around to see whose stick came out first on the downstream side. This log wasn’t about to budge from its place, but I thought of those childhood adventures with my sisters and my dad nevertheless — tromping the woods in the early spring, greeting the season of Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Mayapples and violets, and playing ‘bridge’ games. Here’s another one: you pretend you are the troll under the bridge and the passersby overhead are the Billy Goats Gruff. Believe it or not, I played that one on my first date with Steve. We were hiking…and there was a bridge…and I just couldn’t help myself. “Who’s that trip-tropping over my bridge!!!” I bellowed. Yeah. I guess he found it endearing in some way, because we’re still together 4 and a half years later. Good thing.
Sunshine comes From Above, and for that I am always grateful. Stay playful, stay young at heart, and enjoy Spring!
The excitement is growing. I cannot be silent! My oldest daughter is getting married in July and just sent me a link to the blog post of her engagement photo session. I invite you to enjoy this whimsical, artistic and thoroughly lovely tribute HERE. Check out that Lord of the Rings paper flower! A thousand words to make a picture…
Susan is currently finishing up her Masters in Linguistics. She and Andy met as Spelling Bee rivals when Susan was 11 years old and Andy was 12. He won. She hated that…but was drawn to him anyway (rather obsessively). Finally, when he graduated from Middle School and could no longer compete, she won. Then they were on the Scholastic Bowl team in High School together. Can I really post about these word nerds without using words?! So, pardon my departure from your expectations.
I have rather a meager collection of photos of them together, but I’m sure that will change dramatically over the years! I am busily working 4 part time jobs and not taking many new photographs or spending much time on this blog, but I did want to share this highlight of my week…just because it is a source of joy for me. Finding a kindred spirit, a best friend, a fellow nerd, in this socially-driven but often shallow century may not be a miracle, but it is something to celebrate. I salute Susan & Andy for figuring out who they are, what they value, how to live from that and how to live in partnership with each other as those things evolve. Not easy, but definitely worth the energy. And look what fun they have doing it!! My deepest respect (and a bit of pride!) goes out to them.
COLOR! Wow. Great photo subject! It is now April, and color is slowly returning to the palette of the Wisconsin landscape. Lawns are still brown and dormant, but the little Scilla Siberica is pushing up bright green and blue in my garden. Hooray! I’ve been posting black and white photos for months. It’s time for a change! I am definitely agreeable to embracing the rainbow…and you can take that as a political statement, too, if you’d like.
Happy April, everyone! And Happy Birthday to my son, Joshua – thanks for making my life more colorful!
This week’s challenge is about a universal favorite: FOOD! I grew up in a family that was highly educated about and highly appreciative of food. My family was started in Massachusetts, moved to Chicago and then to California. Regional ethnic influences were explored and absorbed with gusto. Last night, as Steve & I enjoyed dinner at our local sushi bar, we got to talking about our personal culinary histories. Steve adamantly refused to eat anything but hot dogs, potatoes and asparagus until he was 16. Then, on a trip to New England, he actually tried fresh fish and realized that he was missing a world of wonderful taste. You can get lost in a food wasteland, if you’re not adventurous, in the Midwest. But there are plenty of opportunities to branch out.
Last year, on St. Patrick’s Day, we ventured into the city to see what kind of shenanigans we could witness. We had lunch at one of Steve’s favorite places: Beans & Barley. I love it immediately for its California vibe. Here’s a picture of my portabello and gorgonzola and roasted red pepper sandwich with curried potato salad:
And the beer? New Glarus Spotted Cow. The best in Wisconsin micro brews, IMHO. And you can’t buy it in Illinois. Oh, but that’s not all! DESSERT!
The cafe has a deli and market attached, were you can find a variety of locally made sauces, mustards, natural soaps, and ART!
Yes, indeed, ladies & gentlemen! Step right up to the Art-o-Matic vending machine, insert your token, make your selection, pull the knob, and PRESTO! A cigarette-pack-sized piece of genuine, handmade ART will plop into the tray! Decoupage, graphic, random, actual ART. Really, isn’t this a cool idea? Get your local cafe to install one TODAY! All your neighborhood artists will want to supply stock for it. I think it’s brilliant.
This year, on St. Patty’s Day, we’re invited to the Finnegan’s house (Steve’s sister’s) for garam masala corned beef & aloo gobi, naan, chutney and Chai spiced rice pudding. See, living in Wisconsin need not be bland!
Inspiration! Allow me to (re)introduce Emily. She is turning 22 on Wednesday. Last year, I did a Birthday Post dedicated to her, but she deserves more press. Especially with this theme! Ready, brash, precocious. She is much more than these, but she is these. Ready to act, in many senses of the word. Ready with her emotions, her opinions, her dreams. Ready, often, to take on any challenge. Brash, bold, unreserved, “larger than life”. Precocious….oh, the stories I could tell! When she got 2nd runner up in the Little Miss contest, they asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. “An artist…like Georgia O’Keeffe!” she replied in her 5 year old voice. In first grade, she was given the responsibility of trotting down the hall to the third grade classroom for reading because she was far more advanced than the rest of her class. Often, however, her teacher would find her in the nurse’s office having an extended visit, chatting, charming, helping out, telling stories. In high school, she was invited to lunch in the teacher’s lounge by a new staff member who thought she was a teacher. She is progressive. She is learning, growing, changing at an incredible rate, still. And she is someone whom I love so thoroughly and passionately that sometimes, I almost can’t bear it….the rush of oxytocin, almost losing her as an infant to meningitis, the fights we had, the pride when she performs, the fear we lived through…we are bound together and moving forward, deeper, higher all the time.
So, now, the photos:
Guess which daughter is Emily…
She is really too fabulous for words, but “Forward” describes some of her.
Photo credit: my little brother, aged 7. I set the shot up for him on my Canon AE-1 (a gift from Jim) and asked him to do this favor for me so that I’d have a picture to take away to college in 1980.
January 7, 1984
July 3, 1992. Recovering from open heart surgery. Mom tries to kiss it better.
December 2008. Eyes wide open.
The Kiss. What a photo challenge! How do you participate in a kiss and take a picture at the same time? Or if you’re not participating in the kiss, why are you photographing it? Are staged kisses different from spontaneous ones? Should kisses be documented, or should they be private? How many kiss photographs do I even have in digital format?
Well, that last one became the deciding factor. I have others in hard copy of my kids being kissed: as babies, on birthdays, at graduation and that kind of thing. I even have one of Hershey’s kisses that my husband arranged on the floor in a heart for the anniversary of our first kiss. These few tell a timely story, though. Five years ago today was the last day I kissed my husband. It was the day after Valentine’s Day. We went out to dinner at a local bar & grill, came home and watched TV, kissed each other good night and fell asleep holding hands. He never woke up. The clue to ‘why?’ is in the third photo. What’s different about the fourth photo? Different guy…and my eyes are open. Thirty years with Jim, full of youth and fairy tale and children and love and kisses, and I was often dreamy and often afraid. Four years with Steve, and I’m learning to face things, be aware, and take greater responsibility. Intimacy is even better when you’re fully awake. IMHO.
Our first Valentine’s Day together, Steve and I attended a presentation on raptors at the Volo Bog Nature Center. We got to hear about and see up close some beautiful birds of prey and learn more about their habits and how they differ from what the presenter called “sissy birds” – birds who migrate to avoid our Northern winters. Then we went and had sushi at a nearby restaurant. The next Valentine’s Day, we went to a presentation on animal mating habits at the McHenry County Conservation District education center. They provided some great chocolate snacks, warm drinks, a slide show on various courtship behaviors, and a candlelit ski trail hike. They played a recording of coyote calls to try to entice some real responses, but there were none. Still, the eerie, cold hillside was suitably mysterious and romantic for those of us who are simply in love with nature. This morning, we took off from Milwaukee to Madison for our weekly Naturalist Enrichment course at the Arboretum of UW Madison. We heard a professor from the zoology department give a presentation entitled “Why Do Birds Sing?” One of the main purposes for bird song is, of course, to attract a mate. Thus, the Valentine’s Day connection was made again. Steve asked a question of the presenter to try to find some explanation for the early morning activity of birds in our neighborhood. “What’s the best time of day to sing a love song?” Several audible chuckles and giggles were heard in the audience, which is predominantly silver-haired and female. The presenter talked about the morning chorus and the ability for sound to be carried further in the chilly predawn air. I smiled down at my notes and pressed my knee against his leg. After the talk was over, a nice lady with short, white hair and a thickly knit sweater came over and leaned across me. To Steve, she said, “You can sing your love song ANY TIME you want!”
I love hanging out with retired professors! And I love that my daughter lives just a few blocks away from the Arboretum and invited us over for “breakfish” afterwards. Valentine’s hugs all around and more conversation about her upcoming wedding. Very satisfying way to spend the day, indeed.
Nerd love and natural love to everyone! What a wonderful world!
In a display of shameless nepotism, I am using this blog space to announce a new daily blog that I now follow: The Elsewhere Condition, written by my oldest daughter, Susan. Grad student in linguistics, lead singer in a punk performance band, bride to be, and four foot eleven inch dynamo, she is an engaging writer and earnest soul. Here’s a sample from Day 2:
My other goal for this year is to lead a healthier life, which is rather like saying that I want my novel to be about “good stuff.” What’s “healthy?” How do I know if I’m healthier? Healthier than what? Healthier than the grad student grind isn’t hard to do. I’ve fallen into a morose and processed diet, the cornerstones of which are coffee, cafeteria sandwiches, ibuprofen, and the kind of pastries that come out of vending machines. This is offset by forms of exercise which include running after buses, lifting bags of books, pacing the hallways of the English building, and vigorous hyperventilating. Clearly, I can do better than this, but I’m still working out reasonable and helpful parameters.
Steve had a headache; I have a head cold. We talked about celebration and seriousness, listened to Medieval motets and re-read John Keats’ The Eve of St. Agnes. We watched The Apartment again, and fell asleep shortly after midnight, listening to music. Thich Nhat Hahn talks of birthdays and other milestones simply as “continuations”. Life goes on; time is our own invention. There will be another occasion for champagne. Today we slept and listened to our bodies healing.
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
from In Memoriam A.H.H. by Alfred, Lord Tennyson
blogged by thousandfold echo