Playing Perspectives

BeckyB July Squares: Perspectives

Today is the last day of Becky B’s fantastic month long challenge. Every photo has to be square – and in some way portray this month’s theme: perspectives.

It goes without saying that life around the world has changed in the last few months – and our perspectives along with it. I can only speak for myself as to specifics – but along with the isolation, restrictions and fear…there has been at least one silver lining in my family life.

My husband teaches guitar for a living – has been doing so for over 40 years. Both of our children have guitars and have benefitted from his influence and guidance over the years.

Our son’s interest in the guitar began during his senior year in college and he made do with my old acoustic from childhood. He started his post-college life in the Washington DC area and during a 2014 visit, Dad was able to give him a few lessons.

While I obviously snuck around taking photos…as usual…

March 2014 guitar lesson
March 2014

We gave our son a new guitar for his birthday shortly thereafter.

However, as a busy young finance professional, he hadn’t had much time to really dive into it. Until COVID-19 hit and changed everything.

Quarantined at home in Washington, DC, he picked up the guitar again this past March. He has been connecting with Dad on a weekly basis for lessons and conversation ever since.

Guitar lessons and connections during a pandemic…a new perspective.

guitar lesson
June 2020

 

Lens-Artists Challenge: Winter

Lens-Artists Challenge#107: Winter

“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand, and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”

Edith Sitwell

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Winter brings back the cold. Reliable get-out-the-thick-sweaters cold. Gotta put on a coat before stepping outside cold. Hats and gloves cold.

Most of the time, however, this season of cold shows off…with spectacular displays of snow. My favorite time is right after a snowfall…while it is still fresh and new.

snow maple

Before the city plows started piling it up at the end of our driveway…

snowplow

That’s how I remember winter days back when we owned a house with a driveway and a walkway and a deck. Where the oh-so-beautiful snow couldn’t remain where nature dropped it. When we had to shovel and snowblow and move it out of the way.

snow deck

Color exploded in the sky our last Christmas at the house where we lived for over 36 years.

sunset69
December 2015

Along with Christmas comes a gathering together of family. Complete with holiday lights and decorations.

Winter also brings about changes at the beach – the sand is groomed into hills to guard against storm surges. At least that’s what the hippy guy from town told me – who I crossed paths with the day I took this picture.

winter beach
Hampton Beach, NH – January 2020

A January walk in the woods isn’t totally devoid of color…if you look closely…

winter berries

And last…but not least…in my growing family winter always meant…
…are you ready for some basketball? 

Both of my children played for their high school teams and enjoyed it immensely. As did my husband and I…watching and enthusiastically cheering in the comfort of a heated gym.

Box Out! 🏀 Defense! 🏀 Go Team! 🏀

Silly Business

One Word Sunday: Nosy

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Life with a 2 year old provides a perfect opportunity for Supreme Silliness. One of the many benefits of parenthood.

This image from 36 (!) years ago popped into my mind when I saw the topic for this week’s challenge. It took a while to locate…and the print quality isn’t the greatest…but it’s proof positive that Groucho nose glasses never made anybody grouchy in our house!

1984 nose glasses
July 1984

Happy Sunday Everyone!

Lens-Artists Challenge: Spring

Lens-Artists Challenge #105: Spring

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Except for the errant March (or April!) snow storm that rears its ugly head here in the US northeast, Spring changes my world from black and white to Color. Remember the scene in The Wizard of Oz? Almost like that.

The dull grays and browns and monochromes begin to fade. Colors start appearing in the tiniest of places. Since I’ve dived into macro photography, I am noticing these hidden gems.

early spring
March 28, 2020

 

early spring leaves
May 3, 2020

Once Spring bursts onto the landscape full time, technicolor takes over…including my favorites…

IMG_1666

 

forsythia

IMG_5939 2
And let’s not forget the gardeners among us…who look forward to the long awaited beginning of the growing season.

It’s the time of year to carefully nurture life…from seed to plant. And once the harvest arrives…a welcome addition to the dinner table.

Spring gardener age almost 2
May 2018

Lens Artists Challenge: Summer

Lens Artists Challenge #104: Summer

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“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” – Cynthia Ozick

Up until 2020, summer was a fairly predictable time of year. I could plan trips and get togethers with friends and family…without a second thought. Including return visits to favorite summer festivals and fairs.

I painfully realize now how much I took all of that for granted…thinking oh we can come back next summer…when the 2019 schedule got crowded. This summer…it’s all cancelled.

I actually look forward to the seasonal chore of storing away sweaters, hats and mittens. And then dragging out the “summer clothes” from a high closet shelf. Pulling out shorts, T-shirts and sandals. Ready For Summer.

Well, I can still switch the clothes around…but that’s about it.

However…thinking back on life “before”…

During my earlier days of parenthood, summer always included extra family time together with my children. Camera always in hand.

Nothing fancy. Sometimes just day trips…

summer93 copy
York Wild Animal Kingdom, Maine 1993

For over 20 years we established a family tradition. A week away…to connect and just enjoy each other. Most vacations were only a 90 minute drive to a special place on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. The last 2 were cross country on the California coast.

summer2000 copy
San Diego, California 2000

Fast forward about 17 years…and summer included the next generation…

beach summer
Hampton Beach, NH 2017

During the 36+ years we lived in a house with a yard, we delighted in beds of flowers that exploded into life every summer.

One of our favorites: black eyed susans…

black eyed susans
We have continued one summertime activity through the years, despite moving to a condo and emptying the nest. Picking fresh blueberries! They are amazing when eaten within hours (or days) of being picked.

One of our neighbors, where we used to live, let us pick from his carefully tended bushes. Now we visit a local farm that has a “pick your own” field of blueberry bushes. Fortunately you can still do this during a pandemic by following the posted rules: Wear a Mask and Social Distance.

No Problem.

Here is this week’s harvest…

blueberries
Fresh New Hampshire Blueberries

They taste just like summer.

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??

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?

~~~

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

No Words

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #98: No Words

This week’s focus is inspired by the events unfolding in the news, but is not limited in its scope. There is much in life that leaves us speechless – both tragic and awe-inspiring. This week, think about the moments that leave you searching for words. Responses can be written, photographic, artistic, or musical.

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The evening national news had just concluded. The entire broadcast consisted of live coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests happening around the country. Reporters conducted interviews with protestors, political figures and children struggling to understand what was happening.

The interviews that stood out for me the most were with African American mothers and fathers. I saw such profound fear in their eyes. Longstanding fear for their children’s safety – especially their sons – both young and grown. They voiced long held terrors…Will their sons return home for supper unharmed? Will they return after a run? Will they return at all? Or will they be targeted by a white member of the community or by the police just because they are black. Look what happened to George Floyd. And so many others – both male and female – like him.

Goodbye and be careful son…takes on a whole new urgency.

I turned off the TV and asked my husband:

What would it have been like if we had needed to worry about our son’s safety every time he left the house…because of the color of his skin? When he left to ride his bike. When we left him off to play basketball. Or baseball. When he drove the car to his friend’s house. Or to the mall to go shopping at Christmas. What if he got stopped in the car…or out in public…for any reason at all? What if?…

Because we did worry about his safety. About what we thought were the “usual” parental concerns. Accidents. Behavior. Illness. Choices.

But due to our privilege as white Americans, we didn’t – and we don’t – experience the searing ongoing daily unimaginable life and death worry about safety that African American parents have always lived with.

What would it have been like?

What would it still be like…?

My mind screeches to a halt. My eyes fill with tears.

I have no words.

waiting for bus 1996

Sprinkled

Double inspiration this week…

Lens-Artists Challenge #95: All Wet

I hope you’ve enjoyed my departure from the everyday challenges of our COVID-19 world, and that you too have some archived wet images to share.

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #95: What a Child Knows

This week, let’s tune into the wisdom of children, or look inside to reconnect with our inner child and innate wisdom.

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If you own a home…with a yard…you often end up with a lawn that gets a bit finicky every now and then, especially in the summer.

In other words it gets crunchy in places.

Back in the days of such situations…when rain became elusive, we dragged out the green 25 foot garden hose and attached our sturdy “oscillating” lawn sprinkler. It needed to be positioned just right – in order to direct the much needed drink of water to the thirsty spots on our lawn. This took patience.

You also had to calculate exactly when to dash out of the way to re-position the sprinkler when necessary.

No sense in soaking yourself, the driveway or creating a river into the street.

Just the grass needed to get…All Wet…

With special attention paid to the Brown Spots.

sprinkler

 

Children meet up with a lawn sprinkler…and it’s a whole different story.

Never mind the grass. Or crunchiness. Who cares about brown spots? They sure don’t.

Water shooting high into the air out of a rotating metal bar with holes in it…is not about soaking the grass. Not at all.

It is really just a mechanism designed to get them all wet and cooled off in the hot summer sun.

Including a variety of delightful shenanigans…

Enjoying every sunlit moment.

They know.

backyard001