Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Starts with ‘S’

This is Susan.She has such a sweet smile. And she sure is silly!

She has some seriously silly siblings as well, and simultaneously, their silliness is something super special. ‘Specially the sisters!

Silliness by the seashore is a specialty as well.

This post has been brought to you by the letter ‘S’ and by Patti of Lens-Artists. I hope you found it scintillating!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: A Glimpse into Your World

A Glimpse into your world’. Show us the things you love that make your world spin or things about your world that make you delirious with joy. – Sheetal Bravon, host for Lens-Artists

“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

“We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.”
― Mother Teresa

“I can wade Grief—
Whole Pools of it—
I’m used to that—
But the least push of Joy
Breaks up my feet—
And I tip—drunken—
Let no Pebble—smile—
‘Twas the New Liquor—
That was all!”
― Emily Dickinson

“You are not a drop in the ocean; you are the entire ocean in a drop.
― Rumi

My joy at being reunited with the ocean and with my adult children approaches delirium. These loves are far bigger than myself and help me to expand in appreciation and generosity beyond myself. They are a world of life and the life in the world.

Anticipation…

I choose the table cloth, polish the silver and wipe the crystal glasses until they shine. I light the candles and arrange the appetizers in a tempting display. I listen for a knock on the door.

Some day, soon, visitors with parcels of food, wine, games, and gifts will arrive cloaked in the enchantment of their laughter and love. Soon…but alas, not today. Not this year.

Patience…gratitude…peace…contentment…joy. All is well, even now. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Cherished Moments

“The secret of life
Is enjoying the passage of time.
Any fool can do it,
There ain’t nothing to it.
Nobody knows how we got
To the top of the hill.
But since we’re on our way down,
We might as well enjoy the ride…

The secret of love
Is in opening up your heart.
It’s okay to feel afraid,
But don’t let that stand in your way.
‘Cause anyone knows
That love is the only road.
And since we’re only here for a while,
Might as well show some style.
Give us a smile...

Isn’t it a lovely ride?
Sliding down, gliding down,
Try not to try too hard,
It’s just a lovely ride…

Now the thing about time
Is that time isn’t really real.
It’s just your point of view,
How does it feel for you?
Einstein said he
Could never understand it all.
Planets spinning through space,
The smile upon your face,
Welcome to the human race.

Some kind of lovely ride.” ― James Taylor

Amy, the Lens-Artists host this week, invites us to “share some of the precious moments we have had, before or during the pandemic”. These images are favorites of mine, as is the James Taylor song. In my days alone of late, I have often returned to the pictures and music etched in my mind. I am grateful to have a rich array and a powerful memory. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: California Picks

 

“There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.”
— Edward Abbey

For this week’s photo challenge, Tina invites us each to pick our own theme. Having just returned from three months in California journeying with my family of origin through my mother’s hospice care and death, I have new photos to share and a complex perspective.

A jewel in the sparkling allure of California to me is my siblings who live there. I reconnected with them in an intense situation and discovered that they are exceptional human beings…and they really do like me, after all!Our days together were full of the poignant joys of life: memories, change, and resilience. We hiked the mountains, beaches, and urban green spaces to keep a grounded perspective. The natural surroundings in California are breathtaking, but the impact of humans is often completely overwhelming. While I was there, record-breaking temperatures, catastrophic wildfires, and the Covid-19 virus often prohibited us from leaving the confines of our protective shelters. How ironic that the things that make California a popular place to live also create the populations that make California unlivable. Finding a sustainable balance is the never-ending challenge here.

“It was a splendid population – for all the slow, sleepy, sluggish-brained sloths stayed at home – you never find that sort of people among pioneers – you cannot build pioneers out of that sort of material. It was that population that gave to California a name for getting up astounding enterprises and rushing them through with a magnificent dash and daring and a recklessness of cost or consequences, which she bears unto this day – and when she projects a new surprise the grave world smiles as usual and says, “Well, that is California all over.”
― Mark Twain

How to live gracefully on this planet, in a human body, with all the complex interactions going on all around me, continues to be the challenge that I strive to meet. Grace is an attitude of balance and mercy, I think…but I’m still pondering it. 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Now and Then

“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” — Roald Dahl

Some recent nonsense…

And some nonsense from ‘then’…

My family has gone through some very painful and pivotal changes during the pandemic. However, we all manage to make each other laugh even in the midst of difficult times. Yesterday, eleven of us gathered to lay my mother in the earth to join my father, my husband, and my sister. We were outdoors and masked. Our next gathering will be a Zoom call for Thanksgiving. I’m confident that there will be some nonsense and laughter again. 

Thanks to Amy for hosting this week’s challenge and giving us occasion to reflect on the differences and similarities between Now and Then. 

Lens-Artists Challenge: What a Treat!

Trick or Treat? It’s all in the attitude. An attitude of gratitude can turn your perception around completely. 

“When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.” — Tecumseh

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” — Voltaire 

Today, I am most appreciative of being able to spend the last two months caring for my mother in hospice. She died on Thursday evening, quickly, peacefully, willingly and with the promise to “haunt us”, a comment she delivered in the last week with a twinkle in her eye. What a treat to have been able to move cross-country in pandemic conditions and to find myself unemployed and free to be at her side when her illness became apparent. Those circumstances might seem upsettingly tricky, but truly, I wouldn’t have missed these last weeks by her side for anything on earth. My mother was a widely acknowledged treasure!

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Learning how to work with your thoughts and receive the pleasures that are all around us is a great trick, one that contributes to wisdom and health. 

“Stressed is desserts spelled backwards.” — Unknown

May all your sorrows become sweetness in the joy of being! 


Thanks to Tina for hosting this challenge and sharing her amazing wild animal photos! I am so grateful that there are still some wild places left on the planet, and so concerned about their destruction. I recommend the documentary David Attenborough: A Life on This Planet (Netflix) as an excellent narrative on this issue, with hopeful solutions. 

 

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: A Labor of Love

“People all over the world honor their workers in a variety of ways. In the U.S., we honor those who labor by setting aside the first Monday of September as Labor Day. But world-wide, people pour themselves into their work — paid or unpaid — with commitment, ingenuity, and a sincere desire to make a difference. For them, work has become more than just work. It has become a LABOR OF LOVE.”
Rusha Sams, Oh the Places We See 

This week’s Lens-Artists photo theme is timely and beautifully illustrated and described by the guest host, Rusha Sams

Along with my two sisters, I am committing myself for the weekend and for the indefinite future to the care of my mother, who is now in hospice at home with lung cancer. I just arrived in town yesterday and am adjusting to the situation both physically and emotionally. So far, my proudest contribution is that I made her laugh. While raising her hospital bed, I said, “Second floor, ladies’ lingerie…” – an oldie that she used herself many times in the elevator at the senior living home she left last year. 

This blog post is dedicated to all the care-givers who labor in love to give support, succor, comfort, life-saving intervention, and all other forms of ongoing assistance to humans of every age and stage of life. I am appreciative, impressed, and inspired as I witness the process of caring change the lives of people I know intimately. In my own family, I picture loved ones involved in labors of childcare, massage, elder care, estate care, feeding, clothing, housing, and so many other acts as well as in the gracious receiving of care. I’ve seen and experienced the transformation of family relationships in the give-and-take of caring. A task done in love transcends the merely useful dimension and becomes a life-giving act for both initiator and recipient.

May your labors spread love both inwardly and outwardly, enriching your own life as you enrich others’ lives. Namaste!

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Everyday Objectives

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” ― Annie Dillard

I moved to Oregon from Wisconsin in order to be closer to my adult children, in order to spend more time with them, in order to make the special occasion of a family gathering into a more frequent habit – not to make it less special, but to make it more accessible. 

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Yesterday, we celebrated my birthday and a host of other August birthdays in our extended circle of family and friends. There were 15 people on the Zoom call with six of us present at my new place. 

If every day you see people you love who love you back, if every day you have food to eat, then I should think that each of your days would give you occasion to be grateful. 

“In dwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present.”
― Lao Tzu

Still life is still life. I am grateful for food and tools and objects of beauty. I am amazed at how these things can be used to create meaning and purpose and alleviate suffering. My heart is mindful of many who are suffering in the pandemic, the wildfires, the process of aging, the loneliness of separation. I wish them comfort; I send them love. 

Special thanks to Patti, our host for this week’s challenge

 

 

Alice Through My Lens

(Reblogging from 2012. Today would be Alice’s 61st birthday, but she will be forever 20 years old.)

Blue eyes.  That was one thing that made her unique among 4 sisters.  She had our father’s eyes.   She was the shortest among us; I believe I grew to have at least a half an inch over her.  But that took a while.  Since she was 3 years older, I trailed behind her most of my life.  I definitely didn’t mind following in her footsteps.  I adored her.  She was the sweet sister, the kind one, the one who loved children and animals and had friends.  She somehow spanned the gap between being a nerd and being popular.  Not that she wasn’t picked on early in grade school.  We all were, and she was very sensitive to it.  When she was 10, she ran away from a boy who was chasing her down the sidewalk.  He caught up to her and managed to grab the back of her coat hood. He yanked her down hard, and she fell backwards onto the sidewalk, hitting her head and fracturing her skull.  The boy was sent to military school, and Alice recovered amid cards and gifts and angels surrounding her bed. 

She started dating first among us, though she wasn’t the oldest.  I wanted to learn how this “boyfriend” business worked, so I watched her very closely, sometimes through the living room drapery while she was on the porch kissing her date goodnight.  She modeled how to be affectionate in the midst of a distinctly cerebral family, shy about demonstrating emotion.  She gave me my first pet name: Golden Girl or Goldie, and then the one that stuck in my family, PG or sometimes Peej.  By the time I was 16, we were very close friends as well as sisters.  She invited me to spend Spring Break with her at college, and enjoyed “showing me off”.  She told me that the boys were noticing me and that she’d need to protect me.  I was thrilled!

Alice and Mike in Los Gatos, summer 1979

We spent that summer at home together in CaliforniaI introduced her to my new boyfriend, who eventually became my husband.   She begged our parents to allow me to be her passenger on a road trip back to campus at the end of the summer.  She had just bought a car, and although I couldn’t drive, I could keep her company, sing with her along the way, and be her companion.  The road trip was a travel adventure flavored with freedom, sisterly love, and the sense of confidence and brand new responsibility.  We flopped the first night in a fleabag motel in the same bed.  She woke earlier than I and told me as I roused and stretched how sweet I looked cuddling the stuffed bunny my boyfriend had bought me.  Then we stayed with her friends in Colorado.  Our next day’s journey was to go through the heartland of the country and hopefully, if we made good time, get to Chicago for the night.  We never made it.

Nebraska is flat and boring.  We’d been driving for 6 hours.  I was reclined and dozing when we began to drift off the fast lane, going 80 mph.  Alice over-corrected, and we flipped.  She had disconnected her shoulder strap, and flopped around, hitting her head on pavement through the open windowHer fragile, gentle head, with two blue eyes.  She was dead by the time we came to rest in the ditch.

Life is an experience, a journey of unexpected and unimagined happening, a verb in motion, not a noun.  Alice was in motion, at 20, and may be even now…somewhere, in some form.  I still taste her sweetness floating near me from time to time. 

Three of four sisters, Christmas 1978