Friday, October 28, 2011

A Mother's Dilemma

Playing with the ISO last night in the snowstorm. That's a whisper, in case you can't tell.

It was pitch dark outside, with just one porch light illuminating behind me. I kicked up the ISO to 6000, opened up the aperture wide and hoped for the best. 

Depth of field is very small. But there's plenty of light. And grain. Can't forget the grain when the ISO is that high.

{But it beats not getting the shot at all.}

And some sad looking mums. I think they're in shock at the snow falling around them.

J was target practicing this week. He let me look over his shoulder and take a few photos.

I was trying to get it just right, when he let go of the arrow. Startled me enough that I jumped back. 

Evidently you can't hold an arrow back long enough for someone to take their sweet time setting up the perfect shot. As he informed me when I said, "Why'd you shoot?"

Oh. I didn't think of that.

~~~~~~~~~~

A friend of mine has a dilemma. 

She has three daughters - the oldest is a senior in college, the middle one is a senior in high school, and the youngest is a freshman in high school.

When her oldest was a senior in high school, my friend did NOT buy an ad in the yearbook, the sole purpose being to wish her daughter the best as she walked off into her future. It was her oldest, for Pete's sake. You don't know anything with the first one.

{As I found out the next year when J was a senior. And I didn't buy an ad in the yearbook for him. And now I don't know what to do with K.}

But my friend wants to buy the middle daughter an ad. She checked with the oldest daughter, who said she doesn't care.

For all you moms out there, you know the kind of dilemma this is causing.

It's the keep-everything-fair-and-even dilemma.

If she buys the ad for the middle daughter, what's she going to do with the youngest? 

If she buys an ad for the youngest, the oldest will be the only one without a yearbook ad.

If she doesn't buy an ad for the youngest, then the middle child will be the only one who got an ad. Then the other two will feel that the middle child is Mom's favorite. 

Which you know is what every child thinks when they suspect one is being favored over the others.

~~~~~~~~~~
This has been the topic of many discussions lately and she still doesn't know what she's going to do. She thought about putting a "P.S. Hello, oldest daughter. I love you, too," in the middle daughter's ad.

But that seems a wee bit tacky.

We've been telling her she really can't do it for any of them, once she left out the oldest daughter. If she wants to keep it fair and even.

Unless she really does like the middle child best. Then all bets are off.

What do you think?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Snow and Heat....Four Letter Words

Plain. Simple.


Sweet.


I love wrapping presents in brown paper. I often wrap them with red twine. And at Christmas-time, I add jingle bells.


But not for baby presents, silly.


Instead, I used children's books. I picked out the really pretty pages and cut out the babies' initials. While this may look like a creative thing to do, it was really necessity that brought it about.


Three babies to send presents to, three packages to keep straight, three packages of similar size and shape. Uh-oh. I better label these things or I'm going to send the wrong gift to the wrong kid.


That's when I had my a-ha moment. And decided to cut out their initials. 


I love it so much, I'm going to do it on lots of packages from now on.
For those of you who live near me, you know what happened tonight.

Yup. Snow.

S.N.O.W. 

A four letter word, if I may say. And let me also add, it's way too early for this stuff and nonsense.

We finally had to turn the heat on. I was holding out until November 1st and we were doing pretty good.

Of course, it helped that it's been unusually warm this fall. Jeepers, I was in shorts a week or so ago because it was in the eighties.

It's all over, now. Once that heat goes on, it stays on until May. Ugh.

Hello, heat. Goodbye, savings account.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes...

Orange marigolds. All that's left in the garden. 

The Man worked today at cleaning out the beds, ripping out vines and plants, turning over the dirt. But he left the marigolds. They are the last of the color in the garden.
Thousands and thousands of these helicopter seed cases flutter all around. On a windy day, it looks like snow falling.

Most of the leaves in the yard are dull brown but every now and then one stands out, in full color, brightening the bunch.
Another sign of fall. 


Spiders.


Blech.


This greeted me one morning as I was heading off to work. It may not look like much in this photo but that web was big. 


B.I.G. Big.


And no, I'm not exaggerating. Despite what the Man may think, I can accurately describe the size of a spider and it's web, unlike some of the fishermen in our family who may take certain liberties with the sizes they report.
When I looked down the clothes line, the spider had built a lot of little webs between the lines. And had web strands flying all over from the roof of the porch to the clothes line.


That spider had to go.


Only I couldn't find it.


Not that I was looking too hard. I wasn't going to kill it. I just wanted to know where it was so I could report to the Man. And let him take care of it.


It hid for several days, and then finally, on Saturday morning, I found it. I stepped out onto the back porch, and there was a gigantic web in, and above, my chrysanthemum pot. 


Right outside the back door. 


With a pretty.darn.big.spider sitting in the middle of the web. And several large insects next to it. 


Double blech.


I skedaddled back into the house, found the Man, and carefully reported my findings. Maybe a little enthusiastically, but truthful, nonetheless. I told him I thought he should take care of the spider before I got home because I think the spider was eyeing the house, like it was thinking of moving in for the winter. Then I went out the door, down a different set of stairs, far from the spider web, and got in the car. 


When I came home, the web was gone. The spider was gone. 


And I was happy. The Man is my hero.
October sky. 

Stormy, dark, threatening. Harbinger of winter to come. And the snow that will follow.

Blech.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Letting Go

Snap. Oh, there's a good picture of my dad, aunt, and uncle as young children.

Snap. I love that figurine Nana has in her display case.

Snap. Look at the baby shoes. So cute. Better take a picture of those.


I take a lot of pictures. Of all sorts of things. Everyday moments.


During visits to my grandmother's house, I snap pictures of things that I want to remember. Like the picture above, that hangs on a wall in my uncle's old bedroom. Or the Hummel like figurine I used to stare at for hours when I would sleep on the pull out sofa as a kid.


We spent {many} weekends at Nan's house when I was growing up. Both of my parents had lots of family in the city, so we would leave on Friday night after my dad got home from work and stay until Sunday night. Once we got into the city, we would drop my mother off at the church hall where she would meet Nana to play bingo. Dad and us kids would travel on to my grandparent's house and we would get comfortable, waiting for Nan and Mom to come home.
My dad's younger sister, Aunt N, always lived with my grandparents. She never married. And never moved out on her own. So we spent a lot of time with her. Most Friday nights she was busy with a date, or her girlfriends, or in her room, catching up on her soap operas when VCRs came about. We didn't really see much of her on Friday nights.

But on Saturdays....those were the best days of the weekend. Nan and Aunt N would take my sister and I "downtown" after lunch and we would go shopping. We got dragged into every department store there was, waiting while Aunt N tried on shoes, and pants, and suits, and tops, and everything else that caught her eye. 

We always went home with BAGS of new clothing for her. And a little something for us. Nana would take us into the five and dime and let us pick out some toy or book, a small item that made us smile.

After shopping we would go to the 5:00 Mass at the Catholic church near downtown and then go home for dinner.

Some of my best childhood memories are of me and my sister, snuggled up in our winter coats, sitting in church with Nan and Aunt N, kind of sleepy because we were so toasty warm after walking around the city all afternoon, knowing we were going "home" to a warm meal after church. 

No worries, no cares. Just two kids. Surrounded by a whole lot of love and affection.

I didn't know how much I would miss those days until today.
We've been saying goodbye to Aunt N for the past week or so. She got rushed to the hospital because something wasn't right.

She was incoherent. And sick, with a very bad chest cold. But not anything too bad. Surely the doctors could fix her. But then we found out she had sepsis. 

And things got worse. She had a heart attack. 

And never woke up.
For the past week, we've been holding vigil with her. Sitting by her side, massaging her arms and legs. Caressing her cheek, kissing her, telling her we love her.


I don't know if she knew any of this. But if there was a chance she could hear us, or feel anything, I wanted her to know she was loved.


She.was.loved. We were her witnesses. She mattered. She was important.


God called her home this morning. I know she's in a much better place.


But we will miss her.
As I said, I take lots of pictures of everyday moments. 

Last summer I wanted pictures of hands. Nana's hands. Aunt N's hands. And them holding holds.

I love these pictures. I think she would too.

She was 66 years old. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Dance Partners

There is nothing I like better than to sit down under a cozy, furry blanket with a cup of coffee and watch a romantic movie. I've watched A LOT of them. And I watch them over and over. Bridget Jones Diary, Leap Year, Sabrina - just a few of the many that I love. 

One of my favorite romances?

Shall We Dance?

This isn't a movie for newlyweds, or people dating, or even younger married couples. 

Nope, this is a movie for us older, married folk. Couples who have dodged some bullets together. And gone through some fire together.

Mature love. Comfortable love. Love that takes work. And choices. And time.

When asked why people marry, the wife in Shall We Dance? says it's not for love, but because, 
We need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet... I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things... all of it, all of the time, every day. You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness'.
Yeah, that sounds right. And reassuring. But not totally true.


I married for love.


~~~~~~~~~~


Watch the clip from the movie. It's the most romantic scene I've watched in a movie. EVER.


He's right.


We know how to dance with our spouses. We've all been doing it for so many years. We know each other's moves, and strengths, and weaknesses. We know when we have to lean and when we have to be the strong partner. When to speed up and when to slow down.


It's a dance I only want to do with one man. The Man.


One husband, one wife.

Twenty-two years ago we promised to stay that way forever. And we will.


God willing, we will.

~~~~~~~~~~


Happy anniversary, sweets.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ninety-something

I love working with the public. Well, usually.


I've met some really nice people over the years. And some horrid ones. Most of the time I think the horrid ones are just having a bad day. I try never to hold a grudge.


I may roll my eyes, but I don't hold a grudge.


It's not good for you.


~~~~~~~~~~


What I really love are the stories. You know how I love a good story. Especially in photographs. But that's not where this story comes from. 


This story comes from a 90-something-year-old woman who happens to come in and visit the library several times a month.


~~~~~~~~~~


Josephina, not really her name, has been coming in to the library for many years. She always takes out lots of books, because she reads all.the.time.


We didn't see her for a long while. And whenever we don't see an older patron for a while we get a wee bit nervous, thinking all kinds of things. But we started seeing her daughter pick up books for her so we knew Josephina was okay.


Her daughter would keep us up to date on how her mom was doing and we found out she had undergone cataract surgery.


I didn't expect to see Josephina again.


~~~~~~~~~~


And then one day, I looked up as the front doors opened, and in strolled Josephina. Cute as a button, she smiled when I said "hello" and came over to the counter.


"Josephina! How are you? Is your daughter with you?" I peppered her with questions as she was putting her books into the book drop. 


"No, she's back home," was the answer.


Huh. Ninety-something, recent cataract surgery. Who's driving?


"Who drove you here?" I asked.


"I drove myself," she replied.


Oh. Hmm. Ummm, is that really a good idea?


"Does your daughter know you're driving?" I asked, skeptically.


"Well, no, not really."


I really need to ask my next question. "Are you okay to drive? Can you see okay?"


"I can see out of the eye I had surgery on. And I'm recovered from the concussion."


Concussion? Concussion?


"Well," she starts, "I tripped over an ottoman in my living room and fell down." She continues to put books in the book drop. "When I woke up, I got into bed and woke myself up every half hour."


What?


"I've had concussions before, you know." She must have seen the look on my face with her good eye. "I knew what to do. And I called my eye doctor the next day and told him I better have that cataract surgery before I kill myself, falling over something and hitting my head again." And with that, she folded up her empty book bag and toddled off, over to the fiction stacks to get more books.


I didn't know what to say. So I kept my mouth shut.


~~~~~~~~~~


Several days later, I saw her daughter. I asked how Josephina was doing.


"She's rip#$%&," said the daughter. 


"Why? What happened?" I wanted to know.


"Well, since she had that cataract surgery, she can see better than she has in years. And she's rip#$%& because she thinks she looks like she's eighty. And she wants more makeup."


Geesh, I hope I'm like that when I'm ninety-something.





Monday, October 3, 2011

One Friend, Two Friends/Old Friends, New Friends

For a long time I've thought that high school friends were friends because of proximity. 

We all lived in the same town. Went to the same dance studio.

Played on the same ball teams.

I went to church with a good number of them. Ran into them in the local grocery store.

Worked with them at the same gas station.

I saw them all.the.time.

And that made us friends.
But when I went off to college, I didn't know that it was likely proximity that made us friends. I assumed me and my high school friends would be friends forever.

That we'd always live just down the road from each other. 

We'd be in each other's weddings. We'd have barbecues with our families. 

And our kids would grow up together.
But that doesn't happen, does it?

Some of us stayed close to home. Maybe we went away to college, but the draw back to family is strong so we came back home to settle.

The rest of us settled elsewhere. Way out in the big, big world. Far away from home.

Oh, I tried to keep in touch for a few years but eventually, we drifted apart.

New friends came into my life. 

And old friends became those people I might exchange Christmas cards with or talk to once a year.
Then a funny thing happened. I hit mid-life. Actually, there's nothing funny about that at all.

And I started to lose people I loved, either to illness or tragedy. Or just natural causes. Whatever it was, it was a loss. And it hurt. And it made me sad. 

I started to hunger for innocent times in my life. Times when I didn't know what death or separation or divorce was, times when someone was always around to make things better.

So I started reaching out, searching. Finding old friends again. Friends who have those same memories of better days, or at least days when I didn't have to face losing people I love on a {now} regular basis.
Old friends came back into my life. 


We make time to get together. We share meals and talk. We travel together. And remember. And laugh. Always, we laugh.


Oh, yes, please let's laugh. We need more laughing in the world.
And history. There's a lot of history between me and my high school friends. 

It turns out these friends, and all the things we did together, shaped me. Molded me. Are a large part of why I became the person I am.

They are important.
So my message to K and her friends is simple. It's not mine but it's good.

Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver. the other gold.