I spied with my little eye…

BeckyB JulySquares: Perspectives

SixWordSaturday

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I almost missed witnessing a clandestine dewdrop convention during a walk last week. Fortunately a glint of sun caught my eye…stopping me in my tracks.

What is that?

I carefully trespassed a few yards onto an expanse of lawn to investigate. Nobody was out and about…so I was safe to proceed.

First look:

drops far back

How the heck were those drops hanging there? No signs of a cobweb that I could see.

Gotta get closer.

Second look:

drops closer

Maybe…it really was magic.

Third look:

drops floating

Yup. Magic. That explains it.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback: July 3

Inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback: July 3

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year….Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

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I wonder about young children today. What will they remember in the years to come? Just staying distant and wearing masks?

Apparently bicycle riding has become more popular since the pandemic began – among those with access – so perhaps kids forced to stay “distant” will be more apt to gravitate toward solitary outdoor play such as this. I hope so.

“Zooming,” however, takes on a whole new meaning.

The following post was originally published on July 3, 2018

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Bicycles: Times Past

 

Irene Waters’ “Times Past” prompt challenge topic for this month is: Bicycles.

https://irenewaters19.com/2018/07/01/bicycles-times-past/

I am a baby boomer and grew up in the suburbs of New York and New Jersey, USA

I remember always having some type of 2 or 3 wheeled transportation to call my own when I was a kid.

 

tricycle A010
1956

I started off on a tricycle and stepped up to a “big girl” bike around the age of 5 or 6. Pink, with coaster brakes and a loud horn, this bike was my ticket to freedom – once I fully learned how to stop…. My most vivid bicycle memory is the day my father removed my training wheels. I started pedaling in front of our house – at first wobbly – but with my father’s hand steadying the back I managed to remain upright. I picked up speed as I – by myself!- headed toward the end of the street. After flying by 2 or 3 houses I realized I had absolutely no idea how to slow down and stop. Either nobody told me it was the same as with the training wheels or I simply forgot. Brain cramp. So what did I do? I clearly remember the heart thudding moment-of-panic as I made a split second decision (perhaps my first and that’s why I remember it so well). I steered into the curb and fell over onto the asphalt. Nothing broken. Just a few bumps, scrapes and bruises. Lesson learned.

Bike 1
circa 1959 – my new bike (sister not impressed…)

Despite my early braking mishap, I absolutely loved riding a bike and rode with no fear. When I outgrew (or wore out) the pink one, I got a bigger white bike in the 5th grade. Coaster brakes again. In those days, still no helmet. Despite the fact that my father kept accidentally bumping his car into my “new white bike” (as noted in my diary) it lasted quite a few years. The garage was small for a car plus multiple bikes. There were 4 kids by then.

When I was 10 and 11, I often rode to the small grocery store/strip mall that was 6+ blocks away. Errands for my mother or to get bubble gum and comics for myself. Or sometimes to sample all the perfume spray testers at the drug store with my girlfriend Kathleen. It was mostly downhill from my house. I’d start at our backyard (which bordered another backyard) and take off bumping over grass, tree roots, gravel and into the neighbor’s yard in back. I’d jump the bike over their curb and into the street, turning right. Zooming past about 4 houses, I turned left and then…the best part – a hill straight down bisecting at least 4 streets on the way to the main road and my destination…the Acme! The drug store! My hands flung out to the side. Feet off the pedals. The wind. Nothing like it before or since.  Sometimes I’d shut my eyes for a second or two. Riding back home…uphill…was another story altogether; but totally worth it.

Bike riding was crucial to my quest for exploring the vast suburban wilderness. The many blocks to the candy store, the woods at the end of the street, my friend Kathleen’s house two blocks away. My parents didn’t and couldn’t track me. “Be home by….” was all the direction I got. Priceless freedom.

When I neared the end of high school, I saved up and bought a “folding” bike which I brought to my summer job at a camp in NH. It saved space during travel and was fairly simple to store. I also brought it with me to college where I rode it from one end of campus to the other. Since my first car took center stage after college graduation, I sold my folding bike and moved on.

As an adult – in my late 30’s or early 40’s – I owned a bike again. I wore a helmet. I rode it around the rural neighborhood street where we were raising our kids. Around and around. Kind of boring. I was no longer as fearless. And what’s with the hand brakes??

Lens Artists Challenge: Surprise

Lens Artists Challenge #103: Surprise

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I am often surprised when I transfer the photos from my camera card to my laptop. The images I remember from clicking away do not always coincide with the actual results. Sometimes this is disappointing, but often I am pleasantly surprised…sort of like that excitement on Christmas morning as a child. Or opening the mystery treasure box with a special key in the gift shop at a local restaurant after dinner.

When I took the following photo, I focused on the lamp’s reflection in the window, but the resulting image morphed into the trees instead.

I actually like this one better than what I originally had in mind.

lamp in the trees
Then there was the rain pounding on our living room windows early one evening last week.

Raindrops! Photo!

I thought I was standing far enough to the side to avoid my own reflection. In the camera’s viewfinder it looked like I was. However…

Surprise!

I had to look twice, but…there it was. Do you see it?

screen drops silhouette
And last but not least…

During a quick dash down the frozen food aisle of a local grocery store, I glanced up…and ahead of me…on display at the end of an extensive beer display…

Surprise!

beer bear
Bear Selling Beer

Since this discovery, I have seen the beer bear (now wearing a mask) also promoting chips, crackers and boxes of cookies.

Yogi would have been jealous.

Macro Monday: Salty Pop

 

macro pop

My husband and I have popcorn making down to a science of deliciousness, using an electric popper that stirs the kernels as they pop in extra light olive oil. We have tried sesame oil as well. Either oil does the trick for flavor and eliminates the need for butter. As it sits steaming in its clear plastic bowl, I add the salt.

Popcorn has been my snack of choice for decades. Last week a fresh batch caught the setting sun streaming into the kitchen…resulting in an impromptu photo session.

We were preparing for an evening of entertainment…stay-at-home pandemic style. One of many such evenings since March. First on the list was catching up on movies we had meant to see before the Academy Awards broadcast in February. Movies such as Bombshell and Richard Jewell, which feature nominated actresses. Both films were excellent.

We also discovered an amazing documentary from 2015: The Wrecking Crew. And checked out a movie released right before movie theaters closed…The Way Back.

Who knows when we will be able to enter a movie theater again the “old way.” Without worrying about our health and safety. Local theaters are opening this week but with new rules and procedures. I’m not sure when I will feel comfortable trusting that those sitting nearby will follow those rules. In the meantime, we have our own homestyle theater which works just fine. Along with the best popcorn around.

 

Ragtag Daily Prompt: SALTY

Covid Push

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #101: Decisions

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dark clouds

I’m done two weeks from tomorrow!

My friend of over 30 years called a few days ago with the news. She had made the decision to “retire” after 35+ years from her job in outpatient healthcare at a physician’s office owned by a local hospital. I put quotation marks with retire because her decision was made out of desperation. It was not made easily. It wasn’t what she had planned.

It’s the Covid push.

I had not heard the term before, but she mentioned it as an afterthought. We’d had many conversations over the last few months about the challenges she endured at work. The powers that be prioritized her schedule to include in-person visits throughout the entire pandemic. She has been terrified. At high risk herself, she was also counseling high risk patients. One after the other…when tele-health video visits would easily have sufficed.

Let’s remember, however, that insurance companies reimburse health care providers the most for in-person patient visits. Then there’s tele-health video…and the lowest reimbursement? Telephone counseling. It’s all about the money…don’t get me started.

My friend is an excellent practitioner and educator. Caring, thorough and the ultimate professional. She is also hoping to be around for her adult daughters and grandchildren for many more years to come.

It’s just not worth it anymore. I can’t do it.

I had never heard those words from her before. But there they were. Her husband, a teacher with the same risk factors, had been teaching at a public high school. He also “retired.”

They scrambled to restructure finances and find other health care options. But for the first time in many months, I heard relief in her voice.

The decision had…finally…been made.

Fandango’s Friday Flashback: June 26

Inspired by Fandango’s Friday Flashback: June 26

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year….Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

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This post was originally published on June 26, 2018. I am thrilled that this week’s flashback challenge coincides with the post I wrote in memory of my maternal grandfather.

Opa was a constant loving presence in my life…especially during childhood…and, as I remember it, always my biggest fan.

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Happy Birthday Opa

Beefeater’s martini straight up. No ice. Lemon peel on the side – if I wanted lemonade I would have ordered it. 

That’s how Opa ordered his drink – the first order in the first round of drinks – when he took our family out to dinner when I was growing up. It sounds kind of rude, but I would imagine if time after time he got the lemon peel in the drink…well, he ran out of patience. I would wait with great curiosity to see what the waiter or waitress would bring. The fancy stemmed glass filled with a clear liquid served on a small plate…where a few slices of lemon peel hopefully (!) would rest. I don’t remember where the olive was supposed to go. Worst case scenario: a glass filled with ice AND lemon peel AND the gin. High drama for us kids.

Next up was ordering off the menu. We could all order what we wanted. No children’s menu. I always felt so grown up learning the fine art of “find out what goes with the dinner.”

Split and toasted!

When the inevitable basket of dinner rolls arrived to keep us fed while waiting for the meals to arrive, Opa would send it back to the kitchen. Please have these rolls split and toasted! And they did and they were amazing and warm and crunchy with butter melting all over.

The bunny!

While we crunched on warm, toasty rolls, Opa made magic happen with his white cloth napkin. He turned, napkin hidden, to the side – carefully rolled, then twisted the cloth and…turned back to face us. And there in the crook of his left arm was a napkin “bunny” – that kept “hopping” up his arm as he patted it with his right hand. All the while he would be talking to it and to us. We’d stare and stare. Wow. That’s entertainment.

The bra!

As we got a bit older, the bunny didn’t capture our attention like Opa’s napkin bra could. He’d quick fold up his napkin, pull the corners and briefly hold it up in front of his tie and pressed suit jacket. Ta Da! Opa had a bra! Hysterical and ridiculous every time. This napkin trick embarrassed my mother immensely but thoroughly entertained his grandchildren. How did he do this? Simple (but I didn’t figure it out for a long time):

  1. Fold napkin so that the 2 sides meet in the middle.
  2. Fold the opposite way so the open edges are on the outside.
  3. Grab left corners with left hand and right corners with right hand and pull.

 

Sparklers!

When it was someone’s birthday, there was a cake brought out to the birthday girl or boy. A cake with a lit sparkler! The cake could be seen from across the dining room shooting sparks into the air.  As it was set before you everybody sang Happy Birthday to You, You Belong in a Zoo….

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I am honoring my Opa’s memory on June 26th – what would have been his 112th birthday – by sharing his restaurant tricks & talents. Valuable hints for grandparents everywhere. How to continue embarrassing your children and endearing you to your grandchildren forever.

Happy Birthday Opa!

opa&me

 

Lens-Artists Challenge: A Quiet Moment

Lens-Artists Challenge #102: A Quiet Moment

This week, we are challenging you to capture “A Quiet Moment.”  Maybe it’s a walk early in the morning or the time you sit down with a book and a cup of coffee.  Include shots captured at home or in your neighborhood, or from a trip to a faraway place months or years ago. It’s totally up to you.

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There have been many quiet moments in the last 3 months. More than usual.

Much of the time those moments were also peaceful, particularly during solitary walks around the neighborhood next to mine. The winding street was usually empty. Cars remained parked in garages or driveways. People staying-at-home indoors, except for a few dog walkers.

There is a pond tucked in a bend in the road – which (I assume) holds water for irrigation and firefighting purposes. I usually pause for a moment when I pass by and captured this moment a few weeks ago.

cupalo and bench
June 2020

However…6 months ago…quiet moments were few and far between at my daughter’s house during the hectic holiday season. What with a talkative 3 year old whirlwind, parents and grandparents everywhere you’d turn, it was a home filled with happy noise. Music! Making cookies! Telling stories! Playing games! Time to eat! Grandma come!

There were also two sweet family dogs trying to adapt to all this fun craziness. At least that’s what I sensed. One was a friendly brown and white rescue named Taco, who was visiting for several weeks. He actually belongs to my son and his girlfriend, who traveled to Europe for the holidays. And there was Lutra (the resident pet!), a friendly black rescue dog, who belongs to my daughter and her family.

I was fascinated by the dynamic between the two pups. Taco made himself at home immediately. Lying on the couch. Napping in Lutra’s bed. Chewing on her toys. Lutra would immediately leave the area when Taco entered…and then stare at him from under the kitchen table in the next room.

However, something was apparently resolved during a loud barking session between the two in the backyard shortly after my husband and I arrived for our visit. Lutra was (I assume) communicating an important dog message. Perhaps establishing something along the lines of packs and boundaries and this is my house. I’m obviously just guessing here. But after their noisy discussion they came back into the house…entered the living room and chose seats. And that was that.

Thankfully, the Singing Santa had mercifully stopped its journey across the rug.

Neither one of them moved during the many shots I took.

A Quiet Moment of Dog Detente.

quiet dog moment
December 2019

Macro Monday: Gone to Seed

How many of you used to look for those white puffballs as a kid? Those mysterious used-to-be dandelions with fuzzy heads that mysteriously appeared every year – sprouting up in lawns most everywhere.

I did. I was never disappointed.

I’d gently pick one…carefully…at the base of the stem…and then blow the fluffy hairs all over the place. Or run around and wave it back and forth until the fluff was gone.

If I was really lucky I found a perfect one, all hairy things (as I called them) still attached. It didn’t go over too well with my parents who were trying to rid the yard of dandelions.

Those are the seeds. Stop! Those are the seeds!

OH WELL!

There are plenty of dandelions where I live now and nobody would care if I were to resurrect such rebellious behavior from childhood. I don’t think it is listed as a prohibited activity in the long list of condo Rules and Regulations.

However, now…I have a healthier respect for the natural progression of all things nature – as well as the fact that running through the woods waving an old dandelion would not be nearly as easy and carefree as it used to be.

I’d rather take its picture…

Dandelion gone to seed

It got me thinking…what is a dandelion called when it gets to this stage of life…besides “old dandelion”?

How does it get from yellow petals to white seeds?

Apparently – and unsurprisingly – I’m not the only inquiring mind that wants to know. So for those interested…Ms. Google pointed me to a demonstration of the process on (where else) YouTube.

However, I could not find a consensus about an actual name for this stage except “white seed head”…”sometimes called blowballs or clocks.”

Mmmm…I think I prefer “puffball.” It has a nicer ring to it.