“To photograph is to hold one’s breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It’s at that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy.”
~Henri Cartier-Bresson



Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking at parts... of me.

I never cease to be amazed at Barbara Kingsolver's writing. I am a big fan and I don't read a lot of books. That's a confession that I hate to admit but it's true. I have so many things to fit into my life before I leave this wonderful gift of a world and I can't sit and read when the OWL might come back to the porch and my camera calls me from the shelf. My mind is filled with ideas that will last long beyond my time here... so reading is just another thing on my list that I need or want to do.
But, this morning I was looking at Amazon.com... for fun.
I coughed all night. Took some cough meds about 3:00 a.m. and woke up drowsy. I may be coming down with something.  Then, after two cups of coffee I felt better, so I went to Amazon books to see what I could see.
If you know what I'm talking about, when you bring up this site, Amazon gives you ideas and "recommendations" all around the edges of what you're looking at. This is to make you buy something that you really wouldn't have though of if they hadn't put the notion in your head with little "windows" of opportunity.
*More items to consider... *Related to items you've viewed... *Shop the best books of 2011 store and so on. Knitting, photography, felting, nature, animals,  Dean Koontz ( I love his twisted stories.), Michael Pollan and The Big Ass Book of Crafts by, (OMG), a guy named Mark Montano. Now that's cool. A dude that does crafts... and writes a book about it. Almost doesn't sound real.
So, I was trying to stay focused. I went back and clicked on Barbara Kingsolver-Small Wonders-essays.
They give you a "look inside" the book to tickle you interest.
I read the forward and the first essay. This first story alone told me that I must read this book. It is now winging its way to me. She wrote most of the essays right after 9/11.  for a magazine. It speaks to moving away from the "vast, unbearable pain" of any horrible tragedy in your life. How looking at the parts of a terrible thing, and the little sub stories which come of it, can help you control your pain and begin to heal on a smaller level and make the tragedy a little more manageable.
The first essay is about a family in the Lori tribe in the western province of Lerestan in Iran. They come home from working in the fields to find one of their children missing.
As I'm so easily upset by stories like this, I sometimes don't continue reading. My mind doesn't let go of things. I accumulate. But, something inside of me said, "Read it." Something saw the correlation  to 9/11 and so I continued. I also trust Barbara Kingslover to tell a story with such reason and humanity that I always know I would be less for not reading it.
I would recommend this book if the only written pages in it were the first essay. Please consider this. I sound like the "recommendations" on Amazon.com. but please take a look at the "read inside" on this book and let me know what you think.
I Googled a newspaper article on this real life story and I leave it here as a testament to how far we have pulled ourselves away from Nature and how we think that we are different... but, how very much we are the same.

Iranian toddler found safe in bear's den after 3 days

By Reuters, 10/02/01
TEHRAN, Iran -- A mother bear appears to have cared for a missing 16-month-old Iranian toddler who was found safe and sound three days later in the animal's den, the Kayhan newspaper said Tuesday.
The child's parents, from a nomadic tribe in western Lorestan province, returned to their tent after working in the fields to find him missing, Kayhan said. Three days later, a search party found the toddler, who it said had probably been breast-fed by a mother bear, in a den about 6 miles from the nomadic settlement. A medical examination showed the toddler was in good health, the daily said.
 

Happy New Year to my family and friends.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Christmas Day

I won't bore you with lots of pictures of relatives you don't know, but I would like to show you a few. We had such a lovely time and my sister had her home looking so nice.
Remember the Manzanita that she cut when she was up here around my birthday?
Remember how we lined them up and chose the best ones for her to take home?
Well, just look at what she did with them, over her kitchen window.
Really beautiful Sis! I love the lightly sprayed branches and the little lights.
And you even have a little owl perched up there... just like the little visitor on our porch.

Everything sparkled...
And, as Ben and Lily waited for the rest of the family to arrive,
I walked around and took a few pictures.
The entrance hall...  
with the Santos Doll in her glitz and bling.
And, on the wall, a joyful mirror reflecting all the activity of the day.

There were drinks and hors d'oeuvres to nibble on while a wicked game of Candyland was being played in the livingroom.
 Guess who was winning? Look at that sly smile. The Bean won hands down. My grandson BEAT my oldest son. Hard to believe, but he did. The Bean took his Uncle "M" to the cleaners.
Little Bean didn't even try to beat his brother. He sat on the couch and played his own game... by himself.
We had a wonderful dinner and later we had some dessert to top it all off... and candy... and, well, way too much of everything. But over indulging once a year isn't really that bad. Is it? It's Christmas. It's a time of GOOD CHEER... and FAMILY...
lots of CELEBRATING... Christmas Trees and Plum Pudding. Well it wasn't actually Plum pudding. It was Blackberry Pie and Italian Creme Cake... and ice cream... and SEE'S candy.
Oh my, I think I have to go on a diet next week.

Later, in the evening, after everyone was gone, Sis and I sat down with her husband and son to rest a while. I looked over on the sofa and saw... What?
What was this fur, upon fur, up on the back of the sofa?
What furry child is this...who laid to rest... on my sister's couch, is sleeping. I know, that was just wrong wasn't it? I tried to fit the situation into the song. What Child Is This? Greensleeves?  Sorry.
But LOOK! Tis a tired pup named Fozzy Bear.
Glad that everyone was gone and his home was peaceful and quiet again. Now it was time to put the camera down, give Fozzy a rub behind the ear and promise not to invade his home again for a long time to come. Thank you Fozzy Bear. Thank you Sis. It was a wonderful day.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Guess whoo's back?

Yes... I'm back from my three day Christmas visit to my family and I did have a wonderful time. But, I'm so glad to be home and look "whoo" arrived again, on Tuesday morning.
Looking a sleepy...
 And a little annoyed at me for bothering him.
And, "If you come any closer I'm going to fly down onto that camera and attack the darn thing."
So, I left him (her?) alone. The eave will belong to the owl now. It feels safe there.
The Prospector says that it's because of this...
 Maybe this small owl has chosen the corner of the eave because of the another owl (the silent one in the frame) that waits on the post.
Do you think that he (or she) notices the other owl? I wonder!
I hope the owl stays for a long time. The dogs don't seem to bother it... but then they haven't seen it yet.
It is such a delight to see this beautiful little creature out there every morning. 
I'm so glad it's back.

"Now Carl...."
"You be a good dog and don't bark at the owl. He's resting.... and if you annoy him he might decide to fly down and use his talons on your cute little nose. That would be scary, my sweet dog. So, be good."



Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"...Where there is sadness, joy."

It was a beautiful morning. I left my sister's house and drove north along Reliez Valley Road. Before I traveled the long drive home I stopped at the Queen of Heaven Cemetery and spent a while with my mother.
The hills are dry and brown now. The oak trees watched from the hillside above the cemetery.
A Magnolia tree guards this section where Mom is resting.
I heard chimes coming from the other side of the roads that cross each other in this huge resting place. Lovely chimes ...
And a Saint Francis of Assisi quote was shining in the sunlight against brown marble...
“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love,
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”

What a beautiful way of looking at our world and every day of our lives.

Someone must have read another quote of his. The one that says,
“All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”
because on some one's plaque was a small battery candle with a flickering flame. It was so pretty sitting there under the evergreens....
As if to keep the darkness at bay.

Many other places were filled with flowers, real and fake.
One had a handwritten letter, opened for all to read, in a plastic zip lock bag.
And two Bud Lights. They were for someones Grandfather. How sweet.
There were many little offerings... favorite things left in remembrance. Reminders of what this person loved.
Like the love of country...
 And dark chocolate covered cherries, lemons and Sierra Nevada Ale.
And a huge snowman cookie for someone named Thomas.... with a bite out of it. Maybe a bird decided  to help out and speed the ".. where there is sadness, joy." part of the St. Francis poem. Helping the cookie pieces reach into a deeper place where they could find this person named Thomas. Or... maybe the cookie will be gone tomorrow, enjoyed by maybe birds and little critters that come to find sustenance.

I realized that I had come unprepared. I didn't bring a plant or flower, beer, cookies or lemons to lay on my mother's granite plaque. I went to the car and looked for something. She would have loved a cookie but I didn't have one. She always had a sweet tooth. She would have loved a small box of orange almond nougat candy that my friend from Michigan sent me or a piece of blackberry pie that I made for Christmas dinner... but none of that was left.
I looked, again and finally found one small gift that I could leave her. It was in a bag that I had brought for my grandkids. I didn't give them the candy because they had so many other sweets.
So I took one and laid it on Mom's plaque.
You knew the St. Francis poem well, Mom. You live his poem.
You showed us how to live this way.
Sis and I are doing OK. We miss you but we will be all right.
I love you...

Isn't it a beautiful day?

Watch out for the birds. They like sweets.

Enjoy the candy cane...

Merry Christmas!