This week’s photo challenge, A Day in My Life, is a great opportunity for me to tell my readers about my New JOB! I have completed two days of training at Discovery World in Milwaukee, and although I haven’t taken any of my own pictures, you can see some on their website. In addition to my job in Guest Services at this museum, I will also begin working two days a week at Old World Wisconsin at the end of next month as a Costumed Historic Interpreter. This means that I get to do weekly time travel, from the 19th Century into the Future, and talk to folks of all ages about how things work, how we work, what we do with what we know, and what wonderful things are all around us! I think it’s pretty cool that someone’s willing to pay me to do that. And when I get home, I photograph, describe, list and sell all kinds of old and new stuff on eBay.
Favorite elements of my new job: hearing the screech of seagulls on the Lake, matching my breathing to the pace of fish in the aquarium (ever notice how flying ducks are always in a hurry and fish rarely seem to be?), watching a 5-yr-old stroke a Pencil Urchin with 2 small fingers, and seeing a kid’s face light up when he lands his plane in the Flight Simulator. I am looking forward to getting a deck tour and cruise on the SV Denis Sullivan when the ship returns from the Caribbean and taking in a film at the outside amphitheater at dusk during the summer.
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!
Gaaauugh! Why’d it have to be LOVE today? Being in a couple relationship is a whole lotta hard work. Honestly. Hearts & flowers & violins just aren’t on the horizon here today…did you have to remind me?! Okay, I’m gonna take another tack completely. Here it is, my interpretation of love….this is me and a Ponderosa pine in New Mexico. They smell like vanilla in the sunshine. Warm, honest, natural love without that mess of human complication: I give you TREES, ladies and gentlemen.
“What’s in a love letter, anyway?” he asked.
I was in a mood. A little pouty and weepy, my inner 4-year-old whining, “I just don’t feel special!” God, why does this keep happening every month? It’s so ridiculous. Okay, rather than stuff it and wait for it to go away, I will wrap that little girl in my own arms and listen to her. She wants to feel loved. She doubts her self-worth every once in awhile and wants someone to show a preference for her and please her. “Little One, you are precious,” I tell her. I am taking responsibility for caring for this vulnerable one. Me. Passing that burden on to anyone else is manipulative and fosters a kind of co-dependency. I don’t want that any more. Oh, but I used to rely on it pretty routinely. I had a husband who, for 24 years, lavished me with gifts and compliments and love letters. I have been with Steve now for 4 years. He has never even bought me a greeting card. I do not want him to be other than he is, and I believe he loves me profoundly. So, what is the love letter game about? “What’s in a love letter, anyway?” Steve asked.
Six parts flattery to one part youth…or is that a martini? So I began to make a list of the elements of a love letter, Cat Stevens’ song “Two Fine People” running through my brain. In one column, I put the parts that I know Steve would never embrace. In the other column, I put the bits that I think he does communicate, albeit in person and not in writing. The list began to resemble another amusing song: “Title of the Song” (by DaVinci’s Notebook), which you really must click on and listen to if you never have before. …Now, wasn’t that fun?
So I showed Steve the little orange Post-It note that carried this weighty list. On the left, I’d written “flattery; promises: to rescue, for future, to provide; declaration of desire”. On the right I’d written “honesty, appreciation, gratitude, description of how I love”. I told him that his description of how he loves is unique and authentic to him and doesn’t resemble Cat Stevens’ (“…though Time may fade and mountains turn to sand…’til the very same come back to the land”). He walked to one of his bookshelves and took down his “Bible”, a copy of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. “How’s this for a love letter?” he asked and read from “Song of Myself”:
The smoke of my own breath;
Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine;
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs;
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore, and dark-color’d sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn;
The sound of the belch’d words of my voice, words loos’d to the eddies of the wind;
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms;
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag;
The delight alone, or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides;
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun.
Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d the earth much?
Have you practis’d so long to learn to read?
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?
Stop this day and night with me, and you shall possess the origin of all poems;
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun—(there are millions of suns left;)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books;
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me:
You shall listen to all sides, and filter them from yourself.
The little girl opens her wet eyes and looks wide. Wondering, feeling alive, an equal to the sun and the trees and the birds in the sky and every playmate in the Universe. Is this not Love, this embrace? I reckon that it is.
I’m not a media watcher. I don’t even own a TV, but for some reason, I found myself drawn to Jodie Foster’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globe Awards this morning. I read the transcript online, then did a youtube search to see her performance of it. How do you get to be a gracefully aging woman of 50? How do you leave behind the fluff and come out real and wise and honorable? That’s what my blog project has been about, so I wanted to see Ms. Foster’s take on it. I was not disappointed. No doubt the lady is intelligent. No doubt she has compassion for the human race. What essence did she distill and pour for us in those 6 minutes of impromptu address being recorded for millions to see? Art is significant work. Media without privacy is exposure and becomes ridiculous and dangerous. Gratitude is important. Relationships are essential even though understanding is fleeting and loneliness is inevitable. And change is the atmosphere we live in, grow in, and die in. Resisting it is a waste of energy. Embracing it is mystically regenerative. I get that. I concur. Maybe I could be her soul sister, too.
I received a gift from one of my readers this Christmas: the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award. The kid in me who loved earning ‘A’s and other awards is absolutely beaming. A gold star to show my Mom and Dad! Pat myself on the head, spin around and pose with a smile! Okay, now that I’ve gotten that ego bit out of the way…
I owe this honor to lisalday111711 who writes not one, not two, but THREE blogs featuring her photography, her stalwart Weimaraner, and her spiritual journey. The award encourages recipients to do the following:
Display the logo on his/her post/page and/or sidebar
The Nominee must finish this sentence and post: ”A Great reader is…”
Nominate 14 readers they appreciate over a period of 7 days (1 week) – this can be done at any rate during the week. It can be ALL on one day or a few on one day and a few on another day, etc., naming his or her nominees on a post or on posts during the 1 week period.
The Nominee shall make these rules, or amended rules, keeping to the spirit of the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award, known to each reader s/he nominates.