Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

“Forward” is the weekly photo challenge prompt.  Hmm.  Directional.  Nautical.  Paths…I have a bunch of shots like that which I’ve already posted.  Boring.  Check the dictionary.  Aha!

a : strongly inclined : ready

b : lacking modesty or reserve : brash

: notably advanced or developed : precocious

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...

Guess which daughter is Emily…

...and Mema, who is always too fabulous for words

She is really too fabulous for words, but “Forward” describes some of her.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss

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.  What 7 year old kid would take a photo of his big sister kissing her boyfriend?  A sweet, generous one.  Thanks, David.  Always grateful.

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

January 7, 1984

July 3, 1992.  Recovering from open heart surgery.  Mom tries to kiss it better.

July 3, 1992. Recovering from open heart surgery. Mom tries to kiss it better.

December 2008.  Eyes wide open.

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.

Valentine’s Day is For The Birds

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!


Did I mention it's still cold here?

Did I mention it’s still cold here?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home


Home.  A weighty concept in some ways, but also tending toward the sentimental.  It can connote fortification, shelter….and yet, homey can be quaint and trivial.  We invent and reinvent our relationship to home throughout our lives.  A place to go to, a place to run from, a place without, a place within.  Maybe the truth about ‘home’ is that it is changing and fluid.  That’s what I want to illustrate. 

This photo was taken out of my bedroom window, from within the warm nest where I find safety, comfort, and respite.  And yet, the window is transparent.  It doesn’t completely shield me from the cold visually, nor does it keep me from feeling it (it’s an old drafty house, not well insulated at all!).  It lets me come face to face with the physical realities of frost and even pulls me beyond the immediate perimeter of my house, across the street, up into the trees, and all the way out of the Earth’s atmosphere to the Moon.  And still, this is all my home, too.  The Universe is where I live.   Home is near as well as far.  And why should I not feel safety and belonging in all of the world’s manifestations?  Cold and death and distance and infinity do not annihilate me, nor do they exalt me.  They are familiar and comforting, too.  I do not control my home as I do not control the weather…I live in it.  And life is bigger than most of us imagine.  

For another picture of home, mundane and temporal but nevertheless real and interesting, my last post was about our home business, Scholar and Poet Books.   Please click here and take a look!