Fandango’s Flashback Friday: April 9

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: April 9

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 9, 2019 as an entry to a Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. A year later – at the beginning of the pandemic – I was back to watching the nightly news. It was my only connection in real time to what was going on. And that what was literally a matter of life and death around the world. The horror of what unfolded – and I won’t summarize here as I (and probably many of you) don’t need to revisit those images. Now, in 2021, I still watch the news and maintain the hope that I will begin to see less negative and more positive. That has not happened although vaccination sites and listings of how many people got “shots in arms” is often the lead story. I’ll take that as a positive, although there is a still a long way to go. One thing hasn’t changed…I am still looking for kindness to get more than 2 minutes at the end of a broadcast.

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Path

If you stop to be kind you must swerve often from your path.

Mary Webb

I have stopped watching the nightly news. Which is totally unlike me. Usually wanting to know…What Is Going On. The importance of being informed and up-to-date was always at the top of my list. Part of being a responsible citizen.

It seems to me there used to be more balance. The good and the evil. The positive and the negative. Now all I do is wince. Our leaders fighting. Shouting. Accusing. Deaf to the voices of reason…or fairness…or empathy. Especially empathy. Unwilling to even pause and consider a different path.

Nightly Breaking News punches story after story. Announcements line up in 10 second sound bites. Assault…Abuse…Cheating…Lying…. Young child missing…young child found in a shallow grave. Inconsolable parent. Another shooting. Blurry security camera video. One more senseless loss of a sister, a brother.

The news anchor drones on, his face barely changing expression. Night after night.

Rarely would I see kindness…until the final 2 minutes of the broadcast. Showcasing an act of generosity. Compassion. Selflessness.

Good to know there are people still out there…
On a different path.

They deserve more than two minutes of air time.

walking trail

CFFC – Walks, Trails, Sidewalks

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: March 12

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: March 12

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 12, 2019. It’s been 2 years and what feels like a lifetime since I detailed what it was like to vote in our small town election. The 2021 Town Meeting took place this past Tuesday March 9th and, as you might expect, was night and day different from 2019. Arrows taped on the floor directed voters to entrances and exits. Plexiglass barriers separated poll workers and voters. Signs were posted on walls and doors with familiar messages…Masks Required. Hand Sanitizer here. Stay Six feet Apart. Not as shocking as in 2020. By now we’re used to it. At least I am.

By the way…the middle school expansion was voted in…and due to the pandemic…construction proceeded ahead of schedule.

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Give Peace (and Education) a chance

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.

Maria Montessori

IMG_8175

Vote YES for the middle school expansion!

Today is voting day in my small town. Or…as it was formerly known…Town Meeting Day. Or, more specifically, Town Meetin’ Day.

Many years ago, it was actually an open meeting for all town residents. Who assembled on folding chairs set up in the town hall. Votes were cast on various budget items and for the election of town officials. Attendees were given an opportunity to stand and voice support or opposition to the matters at hand. Sometimes a paper ballot. Sometimes just a voice vote.

Now, as the town has changed – and the population has increased – we vote in voting booths. In the former high school’s gymnasium. Exactly the same way we vote in the general elections.

Some may say these local elections are not all that important.
I disagree.
We are choosing the individuals who will sit on the School Board. We are voting for the members of the Board of Selectman, which governs our town. Making crucial decisions. Rules affecting how we live, where we live, where we park. Public safety. Fire trucks. Street signs. Police activity.  Water quality. Local businesses also absorbing the direct and indirect ramifications.

Today there are over 20 individual budget items to consider, including the annual operating budget. One item on the ballot – for the 3rd year in a row – is all about education.

The middle school desperately needs to be expanded and renovated. Each yearly proposal has slashed more of its requests to reduce the cost. Letters to the Editor in the local paper shout out We Need This! or A Waste of Money!  Often implying that the senior citizens…or those without school age children…are the reason this hasn’t been approved.

The financial burden of property taxes (which is how our schools are financed) is real. I get that. But I also know that the dollar increase due to this ballot item is not extraordinary. It averages out to a few monthly meals at the local bar and grill over the course of a year. Maybe. Or a weekly latte at the coffee shop.

So I ask myself…why don’t people understand the significance of educating our children to the best of our ability? Why do they want to keep class sizes large and cram kids into a too-small cafeteria? No music room? Art on a cart? Educating the whole child…what happened to that, I wonder….and its ramifications if not done with care. And, yes, with some sacrifice.

As cliché as it sounds, it remains a fact: (Everyone’s) Children are the Future.

My children were raised in a different town than where I currently live. I will always be grateful to the citizens who voted in favor of school improvements and supported the teachers with the salaries they needed and deserved. Despite the sacrifice. I know many of those voters were senior citizens. Who had the foresight – and wisdom – to understand the need. And the significance.

Our children and their education is important.
Voting is crucial.
Let’s not take either for granted.

IMG_8173

Three years later…

We all hang by a thread, and there are many things we cannot choose about our lives. It’s how we react to the inevitable that counts.

Mary Higgins Clark

Desk View
February 26, 2021

Three years ago today I began posting on oneletterup. Up until about a year ago, it was a total deep dive into recording family history and stories. Sometimes also dipping my toes in the murky waters of difficult emotions. I tried my hand at poetry and flash fiction…while attempting all the while to silence that inner critic…which I’m happy to report… gradually quieted to a dull roar (well, most of the time).

Memoir is my go-to topic, but then I wondered…how long will this be interesting to others? Hopefully family will circle back to it someday when they get to be my age…curious about family history and who came before…back in the “old days.” I wish I had more family stories (from the “way old” days!).

Blogging became a solace during the early days of the pandemic as waves of fear and uncertainty crashed down around me. Huge knock-me-off-my-feet waves. A year of seasickness. Just when I thought “things” were calmer, something awful happened. Pandemic wise. Personal wise. Political wise. News wise. The unimaginable kept happening over and over…to me and everyone else. Some much worse than others. I’m not talking about the toilet paper emergency.

I read your stories and knew I was not alone. As isolation intensified, so did the need for connection. At first it was helpful to write about what was going on in my neck of the woods. Oh yeah Andrea, I understand…that’s happening here too...from around the blogging globe…a virtual hug.

However, after a while it started to feel…well, disingenuous…to share funny stories or otherwise mundane tales of my increasingly restricted (and mostly boring) daily life. While at the same time…strangely enough, I gravitated to – and enjoyed – those very same stories on other blogs.

“Normal” blogging in a surreal 2020 world eventually became less about writing and more about photography. Camera in hand, I recorded what I knew would be there no matter what. Mother Nature was dependable and I loved her all the more for it. Walking in “my” woods…always a comfort.

I only made it to the beach a few times, as pandemic parking restrictions curtailed more frequent visits. Watching the tide come in and out will have to wait for this summer.

June 25, 2020
Hampton Beach, NH

I ground to a halt in December and took a month off from blogging. Everything was just too much. I think many of you know what I mean. To those who checked in on me…I can’t tell you how grateful I am for that.

Let’s hope 2021 brings back some semblance of a new “normal”…soon. Whatever that may be.

As always, thanks for visiting! 🙂

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V.J.’s Weekly Challenge: Waves

Sun Soaked

What a desolate place would be a world without a flower.

Clara Lucas Balfour

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Very much inspired by Dutch goes the Photo’s Tuesday Photo Challenge: Renewal

…please share what brings renewal to you

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While scrolling through my plethora (I love that word) of photographs looking to complete a project, I happened upon this one image (amongst many) of a sunflower. Frank’s prompt for this week immediately came to mind. I stopped scrolling…Renewal!

I remember that beautiful day last fall (last fall? seems like years) wandering through a local apple orchard, but being much more interested in the rows of sunflowers nearby. Many had already been cut away and sold, but a few remained. A singular flower with its face to the sun in particular caught my eye and made me smile.

It still does.

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: February 5

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: February 5

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 February 5, 2019 as an entry for V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #34.

When I wrote this post two years ago it was almost the Superbowl (same quarterback, different teams) – just like it is today. This morning…strangely and coincidentally…I also happened upon a news clip featuring the current “kid correspondent” interviewing the same quarterback.

The hope of the day still remains…inescapably…the same.

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Quote of the day…hope of the day

light in forest

I have a certain way of being in the world, and I shall not, I shall not be moved from doing what I think is right by jealousy, ignorance, or hate.

Maya Angelou

When recently asked about “the haters” by an 8 year old boy, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady responded with a smile.

…the haters? We love ’em! We love ’em back!
Because we don’t hate back.

Just about knocked me off my feet getting dressed one morning last week. While watching Good Morning America’s “kid correspondent” interview football players at the pre-Super Bowl media events.

No matter what you think of TB12 or the Patriots or even football, that answer shines a bright light. What a concept: Love them back.

Perhaps easy for someone like Brady, who is privileged and insulated from those aforementioned haters. Who troll on his Instagram feed and who knows what else.

However…
What a concept for a child to hear from a public persona. A role model even.
And…dare I say…for adults to hear as well.
ADULTS.
Who, it seems, in the last couple of years have grouped themselves into political camps of haters…on one side or the other. Who is in charge in the USA. And who isn’t.

Notice I don’t say haters and non-haters. There is too little visible love on either side. There is just hate, distrust and fear for the “other.” Whether it be the other political party, the other politician, the Other who looks nothing like you or sounds nothing like you. Or doesn’t think like you.

In many cases, this fear slips out…crossing that invisible line…morphing into hurtful anger directed at those you profess to love. Your partner. Your parent. Your sister. Your brother. Your best friend. Your child. Because they disagree with what you hate. Or don’t hate.

How could he believe that?
How could she vote for him?
How could he vote for her?
I just can’t visit them anymore.

Is it fear…or ignorance…
Or perhaps inescapable helplessness.
Doors slamming
As reality tilts and shifts.

Right becoming righteous
When grounded in hate…
Blindly insisting on one way.
Shades of gray disappearing…
Crowding out space for understanding why…
And where do we go from here.

In the end
Reaching for what
is right
begins with
tolerance
respect…
for our shared humanity.

With empathy…
somehow…
someday…
hopefully
we will
inch
closer
to
loving the haters.

At least it’s a start.

IMG_7813 2 copy

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #34: Reaching
and An Upside Down World

From Camp to Kites

A good snapshot keeps a moment from running away. 

Eudora Welty

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This post inspired by two challenges this week…

Lens-Artists Challenge #115: Inspiration

We look forward to seeing your thoughts and images on what inspires YOU.

V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #113: How It All Started

…think back to those moments that changed your life. No need to use the prompt; just demonstrate how “it” started.

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I was only 10 years old when I got my first camera. And fell in love with photography. I don’t remember the circumstances of who gave me the camera or why. I just thought it was cool (or as we used to say back then…”Keen!”…”Sharp!”) and I’ve never been without one since.

My first attempts at photography – with a Kodak Brownie camera and black & white film – manifested as square blurry images of trees, lean-tos, and other 10 year olds at Girl Scout camp. Hard to believe that a week of rustic living became a defining moment in my life as a photographer, but I guess it did. This despite my most vivid memory being the latrines (just plywood for seats, people – I mean seriously?) and how I dreaded making the trip to That Building (no pictures, sorry).

It was also where I discovered (after the film was developed) that when I held the camera on the lean-to railing the blurring disappeared…

Over time, I slowly improved at steadying the camera and moved on to capturing my younger siblings when they least expected it. As the years went by I became the family photo historian by default. Even more so when I advanced to color film! Very exciting.

My friends knew I would always show up with a camera as the unofficial keeper of the memories. Even at a young age I became acutely aware of how quickly life – and people – could change. It became very important – for me at least – to preserve what I could. I do remember feeling all of that. Which kind of astounds me now.

Oh…and it was fun.

I was 14 ½ when my 4th and youngest sibling was born and he became a willing subject for photography practice. Never mind that he was exceedingly cute and followed me around constantly. I was “in charge” of him most of the time so taking pictures was easy.

The photographs I took at college and summer jobs are best left off the internet, but they are definitely treasured keepsakes.

I graduated to a Canon SLR camera shortly after I got married and burst onto the taking-pictures-of-my-children-at-every-milestone-possible scene. They were my inspiration for decades and have appeared in many blog posts, so I will restrain myself from adding them in here. Same goes for my grandson, who is now 4 and very comfortable getting his picture taken as a child of the smartphone generation.

However, now (accompanied by a Canon DSLR camera) I am also inspired by the ordinary…what’s outside my window…down the path into the woods…winding around that chain link fence. The mesmerizing waves at the beach. I am constantly looking up and down and to the side…not in as much of a hurry as I used to be.

The best photo moment – for me – still springs from the unexpected…no matter what (or who) the subject happens to be.

Last week I was able to return – after several months of Covid restrictions – to walk along the water’s edge at Hampton Beach. The tourist season is over. Crowds are gone. The parking rules have been relaxed. I couldn’t resist the trip on such a beautiful…sunny…blue sky windy day. Even with a mask on, it was worth it.

As I made my way across the sand to walk back along the street, I spotted something bright in the sky.

Off came the lens cover.

It wasn’t the surf or the rocks or what usually fascinates me about the beach.

I had to get a closer shot.

I set the camera on what I call Grandson Mode or Freezing the Action Mode.

And I was off…

Hampton Beach, NH

And…by the way…it is still fun.

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.

Two years later…

The most extraordinary thing about writing is that when you’ve struck the right vein, tiredness goes. It must be an effort, thinking wrong.

Virginia Woolf

 

window desk
Desk View
February 26, 2020

Two years ago today I started posting on oneletterup.com. At first I just “practiced” and kept the blog private, as I built up courage to go public 2 months later on April 15. I began with my adventures in moving. The empty nest. Stories from childhood.

I had always been a “writer” since I first took pencil to paper in a diary at the age of 9. I put the word writer in quotes because I was in awe of real writers who crafted stories that transported me to exciting places. Writers of actual books! How could I call myself a writer too? A real writer. I could not possibly be in that league.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t help myself. I wrote letters. Cards. Notes. I kept journals. I took a writing class in college. Joined local writing groups. Attended a week long writing symposium at a university in 2007. I wrote story after story about my children’s childhood moments. When the details were fresh in my mind…I couldn’t help it…I just had to record the sweet magic I witnessed. I put together memory books and stories for family. In the 1990s I submitted stories to magazines. A few held on to them…we’ll see if we have a need for this…but ultimately no publication.

There was never enough time to make writing a top priority. Without feeling guilty that there were more important things I should be doing.

Until my husband and I moved from our house to this condo. Until my children were grown and independent. Until I retired from my consultant job in dietetics.

Until I had a room of my own.

Two years ago, I took the plunge and thought…why not? After all, I wasn’t getting any younger…or healthier.

A blog would be a place to write what I wanted. Try to ignore the inner critic. And see what happens.

I discovered the creative fun of writing challenges, photography challenges…and what has turned out to be the best part…

…Meeting and interacting with other bloggers. It is like being in a virtual writing (and photography!) group. I’ve learned so much from all of you.

My mission in February 2018 was to start writing and not look back.

So far…mission accomplished!

A big thank you to all my blogging friends for your support and encouragement,
one letter Up
(aka Andrea 🙂)

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V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #85: Mission

No Worries

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #79: subtraction

This week think about what you might subtract from your life to free up energy – emotionally, physically, or psychologically. Naturally, creative discretion is yours – this doesn’t need to be a personal subtraction; global issues work too.

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drawers

 

Surely the consolation prize of age is in finding out how few things are worth worrying over, and how many things that we once desired, we don’t want any more.

Dorothy Dix

 

A noble cause it is…

To subtract the worry
The wildest of imaginings
Endless admittedly useless
Exercises of the mind.

Avoiding…

The treadmill to nowhere
Leaving one sweaty
Breathless
Exhausted
Back at the beginning.

No Worries! they admonish.

Not so fast.

I’d like to know…
Where it’s that easy.

I’ll just keep working…
To carefully tuck away
One worry at a time.

So far so good.

Already I am lighter.

A More Present New Year

At the end of the day, your relationships with the people in your life will be greater assets than any material things. Take time. Be present. You’ll thank yourself for it later.
Vironika Tugaleva

 

Today is January 1st.

It’s also the time of year when resolutions are made…

A new year. A starting line for change…

The underlying message?

Who you are is just not good…enough.

Do more. Be more. Or…in some cases do less.
Stop eating so much. Stop smoking.
Save more money. Get more exercise.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Don’t get me wrong. These are all worthy causes and beneficial behavior changes. But they also pile on the guilt if…or when…you can’t push that plate of pie away. Or throw out those cigarettes. Or make it to the gym. You look in the mirror and just feel worse.

It’s also a lost opportunity to look at a bigger picture…

A resolution can be a serious committed decision. A pledge to work towards something truly worthwhile. That isn’t just skin deep. That actually lasts.

It can be a sharper focus on the people in our lives who have slipped to the back burner. The friend you haven’t spoken to in months or years. The neighbor you used to see out for walks. The distant relative who stopped sending holiday cards. The family member who stays hidden behind a wall of pain.

I believe that connections are what make us human. But they need our care and attention.

Another thought:  Texting technology has its place, but there is no substitute for the sound of a loving voice. Or the comfort of an in-person hug.

And…there is absolutely no substitute for an actual conversation complete with eye contact.

I see it all the time…a family sitting together at a restaurant. Everyone texting with eyes glued to their phones. A forever lost opportunity. It breaks my heart.

Take time.
Be present.
Pay attention.

3 chairs

There is too much to lose.