It’s All About the Light

Len’s Artists Challenge #162: It’s All About the Light

This week the Lens-Artists team invites you to join us in exploring the magic of light…your challenge is to share images that illustrate the power of light ….

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Walk in the woods…catching the light

In my mind, the magic of light hides in shadows and the secrets they reveal. I love the surprise. I’m always on a treasure hunt…discovering the hidden lines and shapes of nature’s artistry.

It can be anywhere…a photo taken indoors near a sunlit window…crouching down on the floor…whatever it takes…

…or downtown, walking along a chain link fence…at just the right time of day…waiting for the clouds to part for the sun…

The shoreline at the beach…end of day in November…light and color merge in spectacular fashion…

Hampton Beach, NH

However…perhaps nothing takes the place of well placed natural light streaming through a window…at the perfect moment…capturing a 5 year old’s uninhibited profile of joy….

It is indeed…all about the light.

Postcards

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #159: Postcards

...If you have some real postcards it would be great if you would like to share them with us, I’m sure they have a nice story behind them…

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Postcards? I still have every postcard I ever received. Musty, faded & bent corners …no matter. The connection forged with the actual written word is unique because it is so very personal. I also have postcards passed down to me – as the family archivist for better or worse (someday they will be passed down again). Such a fascinating peek into the past…both for the images on the front and messages on the back.

The “postal card” was used in 1913 as a form of advertising; probably because it was a cheaper way to communicate via the US mail. It seems similar to the junk mail of today, but it also doubles as a fascinating snapshot of history over 100 years later. I discovered this postcard in a box of photographs & letters from my grandparents. I looked closely at the photo for the first time. Hamilton Ave…1913…boats in the street?!? A few mouse clicks later, I solved the mystery: March 26th, 1913 – the “Great Miami River Flood” in Hamilton, Ohio (as well as other towns in the Miami Valley). The river crested at 44 feet, resulting in 467 deaths.

The Stanley L. Dornseifer Company used an image of the devastation 6 months later to let customers know they were still in business…their sign prominent in the photo… Postage? 1 cent.

Postcards were apparently also used to share class photos – in addition to advertising a photographer’s services. I found this example featuring my grandmother’s grammar school class in Cincinnati, Ohio. Not sure which grade…circa 1914 -1915.

My grandmother (Oma) always labeled everything (for which I am eternally grateful)…so here’s the back…

Fast forward 50 years or so and I began collecting postcards…mostly from my grandparents. They often sent me newsy notes when I was at Girl Scout camp (...I suppose you are having a good time playing games, singing and dancing…Do they play baseball? We both miss you very much...Love, Oma and Opa.). Or when they went on trips to let me know they were thinking of me. The handwritten cards are so precious to me, but I have to admit I wonder at the interesting (?) choice of images…

At the time I’m sure I was more focused on the messages…I was never a big fan of cats anyway.

Over the years, I’ve always checked out the postcard section in card or souvenir shops – both when traveling and shopping locally – and I have amassed quite the collection of humorous postcards. Some were mailed off to friends and some I have kept. Below is a tiny sample.

Memes before there were memes…

I hope postcards never go completely out of style.

Side Views

A Photo A Week Challenge: From the Side

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO (OR THREE…) THAT CAPTURES YOUR SUBJECT FROM THE SIDE.

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I agree with Nancy Merrill, who is hosting this challenge…when you photograph “from the side” you are able to capture the focused look on someone’s face.

It can also provide a unique opportunity to capture a truly candid moment…or two.

One morning, during a June visit to celebrate my grandson’s 5th birthday and meet my new granddaughter, I noticed 5 year old C listening intently to a long Grampa story. It was a rare sitting still couple of minutes. I don’t remember what the conversation was about, but judging by my stealth photos it must have been quite entertaining…as Grampa stories usually are.

Handy for a Hammock

One Word Sunday: Handy
BeckyB’s July Squares: Treesquare

Father & 3 year old daughter – 1985

What is a tree (or two) handy for? Besides climbing that is.

Trees can be perfect for hanging a hammock!

A place to settle on a hot August afternoon, when a little girl says…let’s read a book daddy!

Split in Two

It was a month ago yesterday. A day split in two…spent jumping across a great divide between a mountain of horror and one of profound joy. And then back again. The beginning of a surreal progression of hours and days trying to make sense of the first part. While rejoicing in the second part. I had no head space for much of anything else.

Part One:

Are you sitting down? My youngest sister’s first words hit me like a tidal wave when I answered the phone. I could barely understand anything else she was trying to say. Through the tears. And the terror…as her voice rose in pitch.
What is it? Please slow down! I can’t understand you.
Are You Sitting Down?
I had just finished lunch. I sat back down.
In bits and pieces she told me…our other sister’s only son had killed himself. He was found the next day, alone in his apartment. No No No The despair filled my heart and it broke. It broke for my other sister and her daughter and the unimaginable loss of a son and brother. It broke for the rest of the family – aunts, uncles, cousins, grandfather, a niece & nephew. My son and daughter had visited their cousins last fall. The last time they would ever see him.
Why? Do you know why?
No, there wasn’t a note. We asked each other…But how can this be? He was such a kind and gentle soul. We went back and forth in disbelief for a few minutes, both of us crying & shouting and trying to understand the enormity of it.
No No No this can’t be real. He was only 34 years old. My mind flew back 20+ years to family reunions and to when he came along on several family vacations with us. He and my son became close and were sweet playmates during those times…separated in age by only a year. That’s how I will always remember him…the smart, funny, kind of goofy kid who told me when he was 11 that he wanted to be a businessman when he grew up. And that’s what he did.

My son (on the right) & his cousin, 1996


As it often happens, family gatherings and reunions became fewer and farther between as the years went by. Eventually just limited to weddings…and funerals. I hadn’t seen my nephew in person since his older sister got married in 2013, when he walked her down the aisle…their father long since passed.

You figure there’s always time. Until there isn’t. You think someone is okay because they act like they are. But sometimes they aren’t. Do we see what we want to see or do we need to look deeper…ask more questions? Are we afraid to do just that? Afraid of the dark places ourselves? I really don’t know. I also don’t know how his mom…my sister…will ever survive her grief…as strong as she is.

Part Two:

One hour after my sister’s call…a text message from my son-in-law…we are in the hospital. My daughter was 9 months pregnant and this surely meant good news. Two hours later…my cell phone dings with another text message. Up pops a photo of my daughter, son-in-law and their brand new baby girl…snuggled on her mother’s chest cozy as can be. My little granddaughter was born right on her due date – healthy, safe and perfect in every way. The photos kept coming and filled me with a soft ray of hope and calm as I fell in love with her on the spot…even though I live 500 miles away. That night we met on FaceTime and I gratefully lept over the divide to the mountain of profound joy…on the day split in two.

One month – and one week long visit later – and I am still rejoicing.
Thank you sweet girl.

Fourteen months

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Curious

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Today’s RDP defined my day last week (was it only last week?) when I flew from Boston, MA to Washington DC to visit my kids and their families…including one adorable grandson (well, my kids are adorable too…but you know). I had not entered an airport or stepped on a plane since February 2020. Fourteen months ago. I had not been in a crowd of people of any size since then either. I don’t have to tell any of you why. But now I am fully vaccinated and as protected as I’m going to be, so it was time to take that leap.

As a lifelong curious person, I am known for asking questions – lots of questions – but this time there was nobody to answer them ahead of time as I planned this trip (I am also a rabid planner).

Such as…
What would it be like at the airport during a pandemic? Would people cooperate and wear masks? Could I check in at the kiosks? What would change about going through security? Would it be crowded on the plane? What if…

First positive sign: the kiosks were working (good news since my home printer was not). Checking in with security meant inserting my driver’s license into a machine where it disappeared for several seconds and then spit back out. The masked agent behind the plexiglass looked straight at me…would you pull down your mask please? The big reveal lasted only a few seconds, but felt bizarrely like I was being asked an intimate question.

My carryon and I made it through the screening process without incident. All the while I am breathing through a N95 super mask with rubber bands around my head trying not to hyperventilate. Which I had just pulled down for the agent. I wondered…what if?

As I walked to the gate I began to notice changes…

Except for passengers waiting at one gate, there was hardly anybody there. Most restaurants were closed. Coffee kiosks were gone. The bar was closed. This was mid afternoon.

So far it looked similar to the outside world as we know it now. It also sounded similar…muffled…as gate agents gave directions through masks into microphones. The directions for boarding were posted on the information screen as well. Perhaps that was why.

The flight was only about half full…allowing distancing…sort of. Drinks and snacks were handed out. Masks came off to eat and drink. That…I thought to myself…is one good reason why you wait to fly until you’re vaccinated. And then – as a friend of mine once said many years ago – you give it to God or whatever higher being you believe in – at times like these.

The plane arrived in DC on time. I knew my daughter would be arriving soon to pick me up. I figured I had a few minutes to linger in the gate area before leaving to find her in the line of cars outside the terminal.

I noticed how, in DC, passengers apparently don’t need roped off seats.

My daughter would usually text almost there! when she was about to arrive. When I hadn’t heard from her after a few minutes, I decided to make my way out past security anyway. By then most passengers from my flight had left. As I carefully rolled my suitcase past various security guards – paying close attention to where I was walking – a random thought hit me…I wonder if people still come inside to meet passengers anymore...

Which is why clueless me didn’t notice this masked little blonde almost 5 year old until he came close to alarming the security guard…

I will wonder no more…people still DO meet passengers inside the airport. Three of my favorite people in the world were there to surprise me. Daughter. Son. Grandson. I hadn’t hugged them since last August. Far too long.

Four days later I flew home and it was much the same experience. I am, however, already looking forward to returning in June to meet my newborn granddaughter.

I am very curious about her. ❤️

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: April 2

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: April 2

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. How about you? 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 published April 2, 2019 as an entry for the Photo a Day Challenge. Flashing back to happy times remembered in this post (when birthday parties were…normal) appealed to me more than flashing back to a 2020 pandemic post. This blog began as the keeper of memories….and today I revisit some funny ones.

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Funny Faces

This post inspired by April photo a day challenge

Today’s prompt: Funny

When my kids were growing up, they had a birthday party every year they wanted one.

Several actually. One with family. One with friends. Sometimes a celebration at pre-school as well.

Why not? Another year. Another milestone or two.
Time for cake. Presents. Games.
Fun with friends.

One tradition…a group photo.
Squirmy party guests lined up on the couch.

The first take: Smile Say Cheese!

The second: Make A Funny Face! Make A Silly Face!

Always the favorite.

Little children making funny faces never disappoint.

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Six year old fun
Five year old fun

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: March 5th

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: March 5th

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. How about you? 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 published March 5th, 2019 as an entry for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge. I enjoy Cee’s photo challenges and this was no exception. Tender moments? I have dozens of photo albums full of them. Frozen-in-time moments that trigger sweet memories and smiles. The big sister and little brother below now live only a few blocks from each other. Little brother is a grown-up uncle to his big sister’s 4½ year old little boy. This May he will also be an uncle to his big sister’s new baby…a little girl. More tender moments to come.
(on a totally unrelated side note: I will be a grandma…again…which probably should have been the lead sentence! 😊)

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Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge – Tender Moments

This post inspired by Cee’s B&W Photo Challenge. The topic this week: Tender Moments

Being a big sister is not always easy.

I know that from experience, as I was a big sister 4 times. By the time my youngest sibling was born, I was in high school and became more of a surrogate parent than a sister. 

My daughter was almost 6 when her brother was born.
Five and three quarters! she would be quick to remind us.

The transition to sharing parental attention was a challenge I understood and tried to make as smooth as possible for her.
Without shortchanging her little brother.

Well, my husband and I got lucky. And with some guidance on our part…their relationship blossomed from the start. Her love for her brother was palpable. As was his for her. Not without some healthy competition of course. And normal periodic friction. Racing to the front door to be first. To the car for the front seat (Shotgun!). And down the stairs to see what Santa brought.

But there were also the quieter moments. Looking at picture books.
Playing games. Giggling at secret jokes.

And sitting under the backyard trees exploring what was hidden in the grass.

tender moment 9-3-88
Big sister age 6½…exploring nature with little brother…age 1¾

Their childhood together lasted until he was 12 and she was 18 and left home for college. Nineteen years ago.

But their connection remains solid to this very day.

And for that, I am eternally grateful.