Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: A Day of My Week

A day of my week: Sunday. A day in the Wheel of the Year: October 31. Halloween. All Saints’ Eve. Samhain (saa-wn). Halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. The beginning of a darker, wetter time in Oregon. The last day the marsh trails are open at the William Finley Wildlife Refuge before the over-wintering birds are given the privacy they deserve. It was a gloriously sunny afternoon, and my family joined me for a walk along the marsh and past the historic buildings. Here’s a gallery of shots from today.

“Go, sit upon the lofty hill, And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them— The summer flowers depart—
Sit still— as all transform’d to stone, Except your musing heart.”
— Elizabeth Barrett Browning

My days are often spent just musing on Nature, the seasons, and the activities of flora and fauna. I have a lot of time to sit still, since I’m unemployed/retired. Most days, I don’t bother to bring a camera with me wherever I am, but that doesn’t mean I don’t see beauty all around me. I hope that you can say the same about the ordinary days in your week. Thank you to Amy for hosting this week’s prompt. Please visit her site and join in. Click HERE to find out how.

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 Challenge: Seeing Double

I missed last week’s Lens-Artists Challenge because I was in Oregon visiting my three youngest children. I’m glad to be back for Tina’s challenge this week on Seeing Double

My two middle kids have been best friends all their lives. I call them “The Bobbsey Twins”, even though they are two years apart. They have shared so many adventures and continue to be “besties” as adults in their 30s. And you can definitely tell that they swim in the same gene pool!

Brothers and sisters are as close as hands and feet. – Vietnamese Proverb

My final shot for “Seeing Double” is a tribute to the creepy holiday coming up – Halloween!

May all the pairs of things you begin to notice after looking at “Seeing Double” challenge entries remind you that you are not alone. May that comfort you and bring you joy! 

Happy Halloween!

Steve and I enjoy an ongoing game of “arcane book ideas”.   Yesterday, it was The History of Halloween.  I wonder if that book’s ever been written?  In our neighborhood, trick or treating was commuted to Sunday.  There was a block party followed by an hour and a half of trick or treating at certain houses designated by orange and black balloons tied outside.  It was a very organized affair.  An informative flier went out a week ago with a tear-off response section on the bottom.  There was even a neighborhood bank account set up to receive contributions.  As far as I could tell, the block party was moved indoors because of rain.  The barricades remain on the parkway and never went up.  But we could hear the children, teens, and parents slogging through the drizzle in the dark.

Halloween is a big thing here in the Midwest.  I lived in California for 15 years and never saw more than a dozen trick-or-treaters.  (Okay, spell check didn’t like that term and offered me an alternative: trick-or-anteaters.  Can you imagine?  Love the visual on that idea!)  Maybe people there are just way too suspicious of their neighbors and scared to let their children roam.  We were.  My husband used to reminisce about trick-or-treating in his cul de sac with the parents following doing their own trick-or-drinking.  Candy for the kiddies, cocktails for their parents.  Very Californian.  My mother was the most unpopular Halloween hostess on the block.  She kept trying to think of low-sugar alternative treats.  Most years, it was little boxes of raisins.  One year, it was balloons.  Deflated ones.  This was before choking hazards got much press.  Another year, it was nuts in the shell.  Again, before nut allergies got much press.  I was always so embarrassed (and disappointed) by our “candy bowl”.  She was adamant about limiting sugar for the sake of our teeth long before healthy choices were fashionable.  She was also a stickler for sunscreen before SPF was displayed on every bottle.  Now that I’m almost 50, I should thank her every time I look in the mirror and a full set of teeth and a smooth pair of cheeks smile back.

In my day, Halloween had very few rules.  You went to school in costume, partied all day, and then trick-or-treated all night (or for as long as your mom would let you).  When my kids were young, that was the initial routine.  Then the village posted trick-or-treat hours, usually from 4-7pm.  Then there was the year that parents and teachers decided that too much instruction time was being lost on this dress up holiday with occult overtones.  So they had each grade level run a study-themed costume and activity day.  The third graders were doing a prairie unit, so they all dressed in pioneer outfits and made corn-husk dolls and bobbed for apples and that kind of thing.  The fifth graders were doing a Native American unit, so they wove tiny patches of yarn onto looms, deciphered symbols, and ate popcorn.  I really liked the idea.  They got to dress up and have treats and play games, but they were very creatively centered on specific social studies units.  I was rather a serious mom myself.  But my kids got candy.  Sacks of it.  And I raided their stash every year.  One year, when my oldest was just a toddler and we were living in California, I bought some Halloween candy (Mounds, my favorite) and ended up dipping into it myself before the big night.  I figured we wouldn’t get many visitors anyhow.  Well, we got a few more than I expected, and I ran out of candy.   So when the doorbell rang, my darling daughter ran to the door to see the costumes.  “We don’t have any more candy because my mom ate it all,” she explained.  Well, at least I taught her honesty.

I enjoyed my part at the Nature Center as the witch.  I’m glad we did it two weeks ago when the weather was a bit drier and warmer.  The prosthetic nose and chin were rather a pain.  My pointy toed boots were even worse, though, after three hours on my feet.  But the wide-eyed little tykes in fairy wings and hockey gear were just as adorable as ever.  I will never get tired of playing dress up…or eating chocolate.