Dream Vacation

Inspired by Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #55: Dreamy

 

Living in the northeastern United States, I have endured many snowstorms, blizzards and variations on the theme of freezing rain and sleet. Along with gloomy cloudy skies for days on end – with matching sub freezing temperatures.

I know there are people who enjoy the sitting-by-a-roaring-fire aspect of that time of year…known as late fall, winter and early spring where I live. They enjoy wearing multiple layers of cozy flannel shirts, wool socks and thick sweaters. Before venturing outdoors. To navigate the front steps. Which are icy.

Not me.

I dream of warm…and sunny…and relaxing.

Destination?

San Diego – more specifically Coronado, California.

I was lucky enough to vacation there 6 or 7 times. Just my husband and me. Our two children came along twice. They loved it too.

In 2006 – my last visit there – it was me, myself and I.  Back when I could travel easily. Hustling through an airport with several suitcases…not a problem. Eating whatever and wherever I wanted to. Enjoying local cuisine…with no worries or restrictions.

And most importantly: the energy to walk and explore for hours.

I’m so glad I didn’t wait.

 

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Coronado Beach 2006
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Sunset Cliffs, San Diego 1999
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Coronado Beach 2006

 

 

 

Twisted

Inspired by Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week Challenge. The prompt: Twisted

 

All it takes is a simple twist. Or two. Or three. Of wire, silk and nylon.

Six strings stretched tight. But not too tight. The ends threaded into post holes. Then twisted…little by little…with the turn of a peg. Carefully. Adjusting the tension.

Until each one – when plucked – sounds…just right.

On a simple guitar made of wood.

twisted strings

 

My first – and only – no-name guitar shows its age. As do I.

Bought with saved up allowance for $28 on September 29, 1967.

I headed to guitar lessons taught by a local folk singer. For weekly group lessons with other aspiring young guitarists…struggling together to strum chords…

G  and D7…to play through Ain’t Gonna Study War No More.

C, F, Am and G7…for Blowin’ in the Wind.

Added Em and B7…and we managed to make it through Cruel War.

By that point the fingertips on my left hand were sore and complaining. From pressing down on those strings…especially strings 4, 5 & 6…the thickest ones.

three strings

Those twisted strings were replaced many times. As I sang and played through a thick looseleaf binder of mimeographed folk songs assigned by my teacher. To which I added my carefully typed copies of Homeward Bound, Hey Jude, It Was a Very Good Year, Leaving on a Jet Plane…among many others. Guitar chords written or typed in red above the words.

I did not sing or strum with much finesse, but it was the 60’s after all – and it was fun.
It never occurred to me to take it more seriously. I never saw any female guitarists on Ed Sullivan or American Bandstand, heard any on AM radio or in my stack of 45s.

This guitar went to camps and college with me. It was then retired to a closet…until my son tried it out after his college days. It traveled up and down the east coast with him for a few years…until he had a guitar of his own. Like his dad…and his sister.

And now it is back here with me.

my guitar

Ready for its next chapter.

 

 

Presence

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #57: Presence

 

woods presence

 

Do you shop at this store alot?

I looked around and my eyes settled on a woman about my age. Dark hair. Glasses. Head swiveling from shelf to shelf, before meeting my gaze.

Yes I do.

She smiled…Do you know where I can find the cornstarch? I’ve looked and looked.

We were standing in the baking aisle. Clearly the right place.

It should be in the baking aisle. Which is this one.

She thanked me and started to wheel her cart away, giving up the search.

I spotted 4 varieties of cornstarch on the top shelf and called out…I found it. Here it is.

Thank you so much!

She dropped the cornstarch into her cart and added…Now what can I do for you?

What can she do for me?
Remarkable.
To be Clearly Present in a public place…
Seen. Heard. Acknowledged. Offered assistance.
A full circle personal exchange.
Quite Noteworthy.

Interesting thing about these advancing years. Well, maybe not so much interesting as downright alarming and often depressing…is how we become more invisible. When exactly did the page turn to this chapter?

When you start to fade from public view. Even when you are in the public view.

Was it a certain age? A shift in job status? The nest? What?

I am still trying to figure it out. It shouldn’t matter that I can’t walk as fast.
Drink as much. Eat the same. Sit as long. Stay up as late.
As I used to.

Obviously I didn’t pay close enough attention to any warning signs pointing to my impending invisibility. But perhaps there wasn’t anything I could do about it. Except to develop the presence of mind to reclaim my spot. When I’m ignored. Or dismissed. Interrupted mid-sentence. Deemed irrelevant.

After all, as the infamous line from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” repeats…I’m not dead yet!

Maybe if I’d known what to expect, I wouldn’t get as pissed off about it.

However…let’s think positive.

There is the grocery store. Which is a start. Apparently I am very present…not sure why. For random fellow shoppers – of all ages…with burning comments and questions: Is that a good brand of bread? What is the best gluten free pasta up there? Do you know that those detergent pods burn holes in your clothes? I love your sweater, where did you get it? Does that chicken look fresh? That broccoli isn’t too good, is it. Where do you get your hair cut? I can’t find a damn thing in this store since they remodeled it, can you?

And a few days ago…What can I do for you?

I understand about being present in my personal life.
But me, myself and I is not enough.

In the meantime…at least I know where the cornstarch is.

 

cornstarch

 

Detail

Inspired by Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #54: Detail

 

 

salad
Spring Mix

 

It’s all about the details
which are so often missed
when diving into a salad
as delicious as this.

Crunchy green goodness
poked fast with a fork
delivering a sample of
mother nature’s best work.

 

Language

Inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #56: Language

This week, let’s think about language. Notice the places where words flow confidently and those where words falter.

~~~


You did too much

My mother admonished me after I made my way down the stairs into the living room…two days before Christmas in 1986. After I discovered blood where there shouldn’t have been any. My hand smoothing my slightly rounded belly – as if that would stop what was happening.

What I feared was happening…

As I called out from the small confines of our brand new second floor bathroom. A short distance from a third bedroom…finished a few months earlier. Space for a new family member.

My voice unheard over the cranked up stereo down below…You Better Watch Out You Better Not Cry…in anticipation of the holiday to come. My 4 year old daughter over the moon excited about Santa. And her grandparents’ visit.

You Did Too Much

Four words.

Language that jumpstarted slivers of guilt.  Mixed with grief and anger and fear.

Compounded by my doctor….who, hours later with eyes averted, added…

These Things Happen.
It’s Probably For The Best.

What did I do?…

The unanswered question wrapped around my heart…until the day almost a year later…when my beautiful healthy son was born. And I exhaled.

No words necessary.

Our family of four complete.

 

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Grandparents

Nancy Merrill is hosting a photo challenge. The prompt this week: Grandparents

IN A NEW POST CREATED FOR THIS CHALLENGE, SHARE A PHOTO OR TWO FEATURING GRANDPARENTS OF ANY KIND.

~~~

I think of my grandparents often. I have written about them in this blog many times. I miss them still. I have included links to their birthday posts for those who would like a peek at the lives of these exceptional grandparents. Two of my favorite photographs are posted below.

 
My four grandparents were the definition of unconditional love.

 

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Opa and Oma with me (age 3) and my sister

Opa – my mother’s father, wrote me countless letters (which I still have). I was his “Pen Pal.” He showered me with words of encouragement and support in all my childhood adventures. His sense of humor is family legend. He awakened my love of all things cards and games. Opa and I would sit across from each other playing Pinochle for hours on end…one of my last memories of him.

Oma – my mother’s mother, learned to drive a car so she could make the 45 minute trip from NY to visit me – her first grandchild. At the age of 47. She baked birthday cakes for her grandchildren and made a mean macaroni and cheese. She wrote to me at camp and sent postcards from her and Opa’s many trips around the USA. We became very close as she spent her last few years near my home.

 

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Grammy & Papa and me (age 3)

Grammy – my father’s mother, lived many hours away from my family…but she wrote me countless letters – full of details of her life “down South” with her sisters. After Papa died, I got to know her better as she made extended visits to stay with us. She was a character and not afraid to speak her mind. An expert seamstress, she made dress-up outfits for my sister and me. Doll clothes too.

Papa – my father’s father, made an impression on me during the short time I knew him…as he died unexpectedly the year I turned 10. I still have a few of his letters. I remember him as a quiet, sweet and patient man who made me feel special.

 

[As a grandparent to a spectacular 3 year old, I now understand how much fun it is!]

Reclaim

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #55: Reclaim

 

rock wall woods

 

The things that women reclaim are often their own voice, their own values, their imagination, their clairvoyance, their stories, their ancient memories. If we go for the deeper, and the darker, and the less known we will touch the bones.
Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

What’s done is done.
What’s over is over.

One by one she closed the chapters
Convincing herself
it was so.

She shelved them high…year after year
Dust settled slowly
Coating spine after spine.

But that glimmer still surfaced
Again and again
A nagging suspicion…

Is done really done?
Is over really…over?

So she emptied the shelf
And cracked open each volume
To travel chapter by chapter

From whisper to shout
Addendum in process
The jury still out.