Tuesday Photo Challenge – Go Big!

Here is my entry for this week’s challenge hosted by “Dutch goes the Photo”


The theme this week is “Go Big!”

During the last 20 or so years we lived in our former home, we were visited every spring by wasps. They insisted on building homes behind the shutters, in the eaves, window casings, under the deck, stairs…wherever they could hide. Nests usually the size of a walnut or up to a small egg. I was constantly on the lookout and usually managed to evict them before they infiltrated our living space. Or stung us. Allergy and all.

That is, until one beautiful September day…when walking across the backyard, I glanced up and discovered a monster wasp nest like I’d never seen before. At least the size of a football. Attached to a branch in the maple tree.

The wasps were alive and well.
And not happy to be discovered.
A good friend suggested we sell it on Ebay.
I declined.


September Surprise



This post was inspired by:

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #17: Attention



“Pay attention to me! Pay attention to me!”

My 7 year old daughter, eyes narrowed, stamping her foot for emphasis, shouted. I was circling our small deck operating a camcorder; videotaping family fun: her, her little brother and my sister (who was visiting). She knew I was distracted. Focused on the view through the camera lens. This was almost 30 years ago.

My 2 year old son was capturing most of the attention, as 2 year olds often do – throwing a ball, giggling, running back & forth. Adorable and scene stealing.  In the video, my daughter’s face jumps in and out of view as she tries to get in on the action. After all, she had the “floor” – and family video time – all to herself for 5 years. Although equally adorable, she now had to share the family stage.

It’s hard to give up that attention to an unasked-for little person who bursts upon the scene for no apparent reason. “Remember the good old days?” she asked quite wistfully every once in a while when he was a newborn. It didn’t take long, however, until she loved her little brother deeply and fiercely…and slowly learned to share time…and attention…with him. She knew there was more than enough love to go around.

I often commiserated with her…I agreed it’s not easy – and it’s often confusing – being the oldest. By the time I was 7, I had 2 little sisters & 1 little brother. One more brother arrived when I was 14.

From a very early age I discovered that attracting my parents’ (positive) attention could be tricky. And elusive. Especially my mother’s. Becoming her helper – that’s what seemed to work. At least on the surface. Household chores and taking care of my siblings. Worthy lessons to learn, I suppose. I did leap into independent life with a full skill set.

andrea profile

However, my childhood was much more about paying very close attention to my mother. All the time. Watching. Reading her mood. Her facial expressions. Body language. Her tone of voice. Listening. Interpreting.  I developed a keen second sense for what she needed – from me – to stay…steady and okay. And not get mad. Or sad. Or disappointed. I usually got it right. But even so, I was never completely sure. Did I miss anything?

Over the years, I became a confident observer and listener.  Again, worthy skills to develop – becoming a human radar of sorts – with deepening intuition and vigilant attention to details. Which has been valuable in my personal, as well as professional life. Paying attention paid off. But not without cost.

I would never have dreamed of shouting out “Pay attention to me!” to my mother. Never in a million years.
But I am profoundly grateful that my daughter felt safe enough to do so. And did.


A Photo a Week Challenge: From the Back

Nancy Merrill Photography is hosting a photo challenge:



When my children were growing up, one of our many Christmas traditions was making special cream cheese sugar cookies. Mixing the batter, rolling out the dough, cutting out the shapes and decorating with sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, red & green sugars. We made bells, candy canes, Christmas trees, stars, Santas and gingerbread men.

Our daughter is older than her brother by almost 6 years, so by the time he could participate she willingly offered her expert big sister help. Even as adults in their twenties, they wanted to continue making Christmas cookies. If possible, together.

I loved the sight of the two of them – for over 20 years – standing in the same place – in the same kitchen…using the same cookie cutters that I used as a child.  I have yearly photos documenting this activity – and my favorites are the ones I took from the back.

xmas cookies1990 copy


xmas cookies1993


xmas cookies1998 copy




Tuesday Photo Challenge – Our World

Here is my entry for this week’s challenge hosted by “Dutch goes the Photo”


The theme this week is “Our World”

My world is “new” as of 2 years ago, when we downsized and moved to a condo in a different town.

In one of those circle of life circumstances, our new town happens to be where we had also lived 40 years ago. Back then…in a tiny 2nd floor apartment above a paint store downtown. It had a small “deck” out the upstairs door overlooking the river. We watched the Blizzard of ’78 roar through town from the back windows.

In 1978, the Exeter River ran behind all the buildings on that street (aptly named Water Street) – but it was a dam then. The water would often reach high levels after extreme rain events. It often flooded the lower floors of many businesses that bordered it. Over and over.

Since then, the town removed Great Dam (as it was called). No more flooding. Businesses came back to the downtown area. The river now flows downstream; connecting several rivers throughout the state.

When I stand on the bridge, instead of high water I see what looks like a giant terrarium. A wide variety of plant life.  I assume the concrete blocks indicate the old water line and one can imagine “what used to be.”


Version 2
The Exeter River 2018



The Exeter River 2018

Our old apartment is still there…complete with an expanded deck!




Good Golly Miss Molly!!

right after

…will you love me tomorrow?….

right after

…grace finds goodness in every thing….

My car has 7 year old bluetooth capability.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But my 2 year old smartphone usually finds this connection and randomly starts playing my music. I don’t ask it to. It just does it. And always has. Right out of the box. When this first happened I nearly drove through the garage door. But now I am just curious. So I leave it be.

What will it decide I should listen to?

Apparently I have a few hundred songs on my phone. I find that hard to believe, but that’s what it says right there in settings → general → about → songs. (how is there room for so much music next to over 4000 photos?)

It remains set on “shuffle” – so I have no control over what comes next. I realize this is the deal with shuffle – and I could just choose an album or playlist…but there’s a part of me that wants to live on the musical edge. My own personal radio station.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Sometimes it’s Barbra, and then Barbra again, then Bonnie, back to Barbra. Maybe next it’s Bruce. Then Pink. Then Carole. And sometimes it’s a song I don’t recognize at all. What the heck?

I call out a song title. Siri ignores me. So I just wait and see listen.

Last week shuffle was into CSN&Y. And Mary Chapin Carpenter. And Barbra. All good. Setting the mood for my drive. However, other times I’ll be feeling perfectly upbeat and then the next thing I know it’s Cat Stevens. But before long Colbie Caillat or Sara B. bring me back up. Then I’m chilling to Mr. Withers. Then Barbra. (say what?) (again?) How does Ms. Shuffle know what to pick? It’s a rollercoaster ride.

Back to today…I am driving home.
Another Monday after grocery shopping — an activity that can be a real mood changer (I mean seriously, can’t they have someone at the fish counter?…do I always have to…well never mind)…

The shuffling starts up as I exit the parking lot —

U2 singing about grace…I lean back a bit in my seat at the stop light.
segues into Carole King…now I’m starting to relax…
which segues into Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels…

I sit straight up.

Good Golly what grocery store?!



Quote of the Day…

For me, writing something down is the only road out.”

Anne Tyler



Ah…but where?
Where to start that road?  The way out.
Gotta begin digging somewhere. Turning over rocks. Roots. Dirt.
The perfect spot.
Or the less than perfect spot…but the best spot.

Which direction…right…left…forward…backward?
Prepare the foundation. For strength. Support.
Begin at the middle? the end?
Curb? Maybe no curb. Perhaps it will be wider than normal.
That’s okay.

And those trees. In the way? Or build around them?
Maybe no trees.
Maybe flowers instead.
Color it up.
Or not.


A proper base for the layer of asphalt. Maybe concrete.
Or perhaps just throw down some gravel and be done with it.
Or forget the fancy stuff and pack down the dirt.
After all it’s just a road.
But it’s your road.

How does one find this road?…that’s up to you.

A sign.
A name.
So travelers will know.
It’s your road out.




A Photo a Week Challenge: Ready, set, action!

Nancy Merrill Photography is hosting a photo challenge:


The theme this week is: Ready, set, action! – A photo or two that features movement of any kind.

Back in the 1990’s my very active son showcased movements of every kind…all day. Every day. When he was 3 ½, I showed him how to dribble a basketball. And he was hooked.

Channeling all that energy into basketball conveniently coincided with the emergence of the 1992 Olympic Men’s Basketball Dream Team. And then, more specifically Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. My son would dribble & shoot for hours and hours with the Dream Team in our driveway. His imagination was active too.
He played basketball all the way through high school and grew to be 6’3″ tall.

In the (35mm) photos below, at the age of 7, he gives his father a workout.

basketball movement005

basketball movement004