Monday, February 9, 2015

Play on, Mom!

In the 4th grade I decided to learn the viola and joined the school orchestra.  That endeavor lasted a year.   While others excelled, I broke strings and learned to make noises that resembled cats dying in an alley rather than beautiful melodies. 

In the 5th grade I decided to switch from orchestra to band.   The cornet was my instrument of choice.  My mother had played the cornet at Bowlegs High (seriously—Bowlegs, Oklahoma).   Evidently she was pretty good, even using the horn my grandparents bought for her at a Seminole, Oklahoma second hand store.  She kept it polished and would occasionally pull it out of its case and play a few notes for us.   Rather than purchase a new horn for me, the cornet was brought out from the closet and became mine for the year.  There was a problem.   Even though Mom could muster up a few notes, it was still old (heavens…it was second hand when Mom got it—now it was “third hand” for me!).   I could barely get a note out of it.   How I even passed band that year, I do not know.   I can’t remember ever being able to play a single song on it.   I gladly returned the horn to my Mother’s possession at the end of the year.  

Eventually the cornet became a decoration in our home.   It sat upon a shelf—a source of entertainment and laughs brought down on family reunions and gatherings.   To try to blow a note could mean almost passing out from the effort.   Only Mom could really play anything that remotely resembled music.   The rest of us could make it sound like a cow needing to be milked at best or someone with bad gastric problems at worst.

Mom’s home was demolished in the May 3, 1999 tornado.   Possessions and memories were swept away with the wind.   Under a wall—a few more dents, not quite as pretty—was the cornet.   Digging more we found muddied photo albums…and the photo of Mom in her Bowlegs High band uniform.  

Play on, Mom!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Moon, the Stars and the Sun . . .

A couple of nights ago there was an eclipse…creating a “blood moon.”   Even though it was a once in a lifetime event, I had decided to just enjoy the photographs from friends and those posting on the internet…and sleep right through it.  I felt, around mid-afternoon, justified in this thinking:  It was cloudy.  It had been decided for me—no moon tonight.   However, the clouds blew away, the stars came out—and then the moon.   Still, bed beckoned…

(Quick side note of explanation:   My husband and I manage a retirement community that includes the amenity of having “live in managers” who respond to emergency calls by the residents.   This is one of the main reasons we do this work—we believe in being there for our residents and having someone that “knows” them be the person that responds to their emergencies.   Last night Dan & I were “on call” or “on duty”…we would be responding to any emergencies).

By 10:30 p.m. I was literally asleep in the bathtub…stumbled into bed and was having the best dream when the alarm sounded around 1:30 a.m.   A call to 9-1-1 brought the firemen and EMT’s to assist a resident and transport him to the hospital (luckily nothing very serious).  This call was followed by another alarm—a burned bag of popcorn set off a smoke detector.  

Two minor emergencies right at the time of the eclipse.   Seemed like a sign from God that I should go outside (Dan just took it as a sign to stumble back to bed).   “Do you want to go see the eclipse, Dan?”  “Not really.”   You get the pic.

(Quick side note again:   On nights that we are “on duty” I keep clothes to pull on in a flash to respond to the e-call.   These are not fashion statements:   my Crocs for shoes, an oversized t-shirt, and crop leggings.   Sometimes colorful socks, sometimes not.   Hopefully I have time to run my fingers through my hair & remember my glasses.   I should come with a warning—I could frighten someone with a heart condition.   I don’t think the firemen would recognize me during the day time with makeup, hair done & real, coordinated, nice clothing).

So, this is the garb I decide to go “check out the moon” in…plus my winter coat because the temperature has dipped to freezing. 

Have you ever tried to put together a project at 2 a.m.?   Your brain isn’t clacking on all the tracks.   First, I can’t find my tripod (discovered it hidden behind the exercise stick to make my arms skinnier that I never use).   Discover that the little base thingy that screws into the base of my camera which then hooks into/locks the camera in place on the tripod is the wrong one for this particular tripod.   Race around the house looking for the other tripod.   Must be in the back of the Jeep.  Debate going to dark parking lot to dig round in the back of the Jeep—cancel that idea.   Find a mini tripod that isn’t very secure, but it is 2:15 a.m. and it now makes sense to use it.   Grab the paparazzi lens (500 mm super-duper-makes-me-look-like-I-know-what-I-am-doing [fake out] lens.   Screw the monopod into paparazzi lens.  Figure out how to adjust monopod and tripod to work together.  Decide I shouldn’t say cuss words and wake up Dan.   He isn’t known for his understanding of my projects in the middle of the night.   Head out to the back “yard” of our community.  

In order to make the wrong tripod/monopod combo work, I had to set the camera contraption up on a round cement table.   By this time the moon is high in the sky.  To get the camera to focus, I ended up having to stabilize the monopod in a flower pot and lay down on the cement bench to get the camera pointed “up” enough.   Remember I’m in my Crocs, crops and pea green winter coat with the fur around the hood.  

Needless to say, my photographs were less than spectacular.   But you know what?   I didn’t care.   The eclipse was simply breathtaking.  

As I sat there, freezing, wondering what that noise was coming from the dark bushes, I also thought of all of my friends who were as crazy as me and up in the middle of the night “shooting the moon.”   I was pretty sure Mark Jackson would be (turns out he was in the dessert getting a good dark sky), Karen Sparks stayed up for some good shots, too.  Who else was looking at the moon?  I started thinking of my friends around the world and it seemed as if they were there with me watching the moon.

“I see the moon, the moon sees me.    God bless the moon, God bless me.”    May the moon shine bright wherever you are and God bless you!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

In defense of Dandelions… is a matter of perspective.

Who can resist a bouquet of freshly picked dandelions from a child? Remember your innocence when you thought they were so pretty?

I am a sorta kinda military brat…that is my dad worked for a company that worked with the U.S. military. We moved quite often, usually locating near military bases. My brother and I attended schools “on base” along with “regular schools” depending on where we were stationed. That meant (for me) a different school from third grade thru my senior year in high school (except for three years in junior high in Korea). The dandelion is the “official flower” of the military brat: A dandelion is able to live and thrive wherever it is planted. Almost every part of it is useful. It travels where the wind blows.

Several years ago my husband worked for a gentleman from India. He told my husband this story:
When he was a young man, he moved from India to the United States. He found a home to rent and soon his young wife joined him in the States. He returned home one day to find her very excited. “Look at our backyard!” she exclaimed. “It is full of flowers!!!” He went to the patio window and discovered the dandelions had “bloomed.”

Are those weeds in your backyard…or has God planted a wildflower field just for you? It is just a matter of perception.

Friday, April 4, 2014 of art

On the first full day in California we drove from Santa Rosa to San Francisco. In what (or so it seemed to me)was a short distance south of the Golden Gate Bridge we turned into a neighborhood (which looked like it was from the movie "Tootsie" to me). There we visited the Holy Virgin Cathedral (Russian Orthodox). This beautiful multi-domed cathedral was so different
Catholic Church
Catholic Church
Catholic Church
from any other churches or cathedrals I have ever visited before. A service was going on and we were allowed to stand in the door way and observe for a few moments. I did not take photographs inside (out of respect for the service & in respect for those worshiping at that moment). A short distance later we stopped at another church/cathedral. This is where we were able to watch the artist repairing one of the walls. Fascinating. Enjoy these photos of both cathedrals.
Catholic Church

Catholic Church
Gate to Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church dome reflection
About the Russian Orthodox church:  "Holy Virgin Cathedral"
Stop & Smell the "roses" (whatever flower they might be) outside the cathedral!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

California Dreamin'....or is it Spring Fever?

I've been quite remiss in posting to the blog over the winter...and here it is spring already!   I am finding that keeping up with the blog AND keeping up with work AND keeping up with my granddaughter AND my photography...I just need more FREE time!! 

So, why not take a vacation??  That's just what we did!   We just returned from a dream trip to northern California.   We visited with my husband's brothers & my niece, her husband & great-nieces.  I met in person a good photography friend I had only known via Facebook (& had an awesome day shooting with her & my sis-in-law, Sherri in the vineyards)...just a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime trip.  

The next few blogs will "take you with me" via photographs as we travel northern California.   First stop:   Old Sacramento & Placerville, CA--where the gold rush and trains and "go West young man" brought the adventuresome to the Golden State.


Road to Sacramento






Old Sacramento



Hardware store in Placerville

Hardware Store in Placerville

Hardware store in Placerville

Bell Tower in Placerville

Old Hotel in Placerville

Wood carving on balcony of old hotel in Placerville
Espresso anyone?
Antique sewing machine--Placerville

Old park in Old Sacramento

Placerville reflections