Sunday, March 15, 2015


I don't know how this proud, and perhaps slightly anxious boy is. This tiny photo, part of a contact sheet of three pictures taken at some kind of carnival/amusement park, was one of the things in a folder full of vintage photos from my grandmother's things. The sign in German (Eilt-sehr! -- Very urgent! so, caution for sure) makes me even more perplexed; this was the grandmother who did not come from a long line of Germans and Austrians (that was the other grandmother).  Her ex-husband, my beloved Papa Paul, was born to a German father and Irish mother -- but everything about the age of the photo wouldn't make sense and I have no reason to think that Paul would have ever gone to Germany as a child (and lots of reasons to think that never could have happened). My grandmother's things are mostly about my dad, her only child -- and he's the most reasonable boy to suspect except for the part about the signs being in German (he definitely didn't travel abroad as a child).

Most of the photos in this particular stack are without any kind of labels on them and I'm limited in the people I can identify.  I can distinguish family members I knew or knew of, and don't know which are photos of friends.  Makes me think about how it is that junk shops/antique stores end up with boxes and boxes of old photos; if the people who end up with them don't know who's in them, then the photos seem worthless.  Given that I'm the sort of person who buys old photos from junk shops and sometimes online, I'm going to hold on to these.  But, it's a good reminder to start labeling so that Dean doesn't end up with cartons of photos that seem worthless.

Meanwhile, I'm delighted and relieved to have him home after his month in Panama.  I am listening to his stories and looking for signs of change; it is the kind of experience, on the bring of turning 17, that dictates all kind of change.  I'm mindful of how hard it can be when you are growing up to know that you are changing -- to reach for and embrace change on the journey to becoming -- and yet to feel constrained in time and in being by your family.  We play a role in our families that depends in part on our being who they think we are, and that can be difficult to deal with when they don't see or acknowledge when we've grown past their vision of us.  I want to honor and see the person he is becoming, even as I acknowledge all the difficulties in that for me (I age less, for one simple matter, when he doesn't grow up).

"Riesenrad" -- that's Ferris Wheel.  Held in place, going around but coming right back. Moments held in time as people move on. I hope it was sunny that day.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The winter of... what?

This was from a couple of storms ago; I believe (hyperbole-free) that we've had another 18"+ since this was taken.  Actually, probably more like 20" since this was taken.  Snow is falling as I type, and our fingers are tightly crossed that it stays snow and doesn't turn over to rain of any kind. At this point, the snow that cannot be raked off the roof will become dangerously heavy if soaked by rain, and we've got a few problem areas around the foundation that -- thanks to the amount of snow piled up and around, could leak.

I keep trying to have an "it is what it is" attitude and despite evidence to the contrary I'm actually worn out and tired of talking about the weather.  If I had a button maker, I'd sport one that says, "Can we talk about something else?"  Hmmm.  Might need to figure out if I can whip something up!

Meanwhile, I am so thankful yet again to have Natalie for a friend.  I feel so cared for, having her prompt me to getting going already! here; she's the most delightful and consistent blogger I know and my fez is always off to her.

I have to do some finishing and photography for proof, but am I telling you that I learned to read my very first knitting pattern in order to make polar bears and it was easy.  The couple of things I wasn't sure about, I found detailed and helpful YouTube videos for.  I am making mine tiny (fits in the palm of your hand) because that's how I roll.  I see that this is the point in the winter where I usually lose my crafting mojo (super busiest time at work, hands wreaked from shoveling, delights of the season wearing off) but I'm determined to keep going.

I want to make this the winter of something else.  Not the winter of the record-breaking, back- and spirit-breaking snow, but the winter that I, that we... what?  Knit 100 polar bears?  Got my new stove and learned to make the best ever... focaccia? caramel corn?  The winter that Dean spent a month in Panama and came home fairly fluent in Spanish and focused on becoming (a marine biologist? a rain forest ecologist? a traveling journalist?) -- although I have to remember, while I imagine and celebrate his possibilities to also pay heed to my own.  The winter that I learned to let him go?  The winter I decided what my next goal is, I hope.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Power makes all the difference

Stayed cleared of snow for a day or so, and now....  

 Ken is out there now, battling the coupla three feet or so (with drifting) that has fallen so far.  We are fortunate that it's so cold (in the low 20s) that the snow is pretty dry here, which greatly lessens the likelihood of power lines coming down, or roofs collapsing. Towns on the ocean are in rougher shape, with all the moisture from the sea, and the swells from high tide, causing serious damage. It's still extremely hazardous to have this much snow, in that as soon as it does go above freezing and starts to melt, the weight increases and it has to be off roofs and decks and porches by then; also all the roads are closed and so my heart goes out to anyone with need of emergency care.  We do seem to recover fairly quickly in this region, so I am optimistic that things will be all right (and figuring we have not tempted fate by failing to run out to a grocery store yesterday for emergency provisions). I continue to be thankful that we moved to where we did (this is our third winter in this house) because here we are on town water (which means that even if power is out the water still runs -- at the old house we had our own well and a pump that required electricity, so no water could be run, no toilets could be flushed without power).  We also have a gas stove here and so can still cook (it was electric at the old house).  We live in a more populated area with more businesses around, so that also means that power here does get restored a lot more quickly when it does go out (we went almost a week, one winter, at the old house, without power -- our tiny little street was the last. one. in. town. to be brought back online).

A new-house tradition, then, is the fresh-from-the-oven batch of chocolate chip cookies when major snow removal is underway.  Never thought I'd replace my old, best-ever recipe but again -- when King Arthur Flour tells me they have the recipe of the year, I have to try it.  AND right they are.

I've been trying to spend more time tooling around the blogsphere, and I am lately struck by the number of amazing, but abandoned, blogs.  Not one to talk (at least in terms of the abandonment thing) but it makes me so sad -- I discover people doing amazing things but who've lost the blogging mojo.  I get it; at least for me, I feel as though I still haven't really figured out what I'm doing here, or why. But not doing it hasn't made me realize anything, either -- but perhaps plugging away will.  In any case, I'm so grateful for the friends I've made as a result and that is more than enough reason to be here.  Powerful stuff.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Blatant disregard

 Weather gods were feeling mocked, or somehow disrespected, apparently; this is just a little preview of the 24 inches (somehow sounds less daunting than *2 feet*) we're supposed to get tomorrow night.

But that will just mean a snow day, for which we are entirely overdue, and ready.  This magical loaf can be made by following these instructions.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Don't talk about the weather

It is New England, here, where I live. Every year, winter comes. It varies in severity, but we can rely on at least some snow, and on at least some really, really cold weather. We're in a cold snap at the moment -- right at a time when one could reliably predict such a thing -- days that barely make it out of single Fahrenheit digits, nights in negative numbers, a weak sun that doesn't provide anything other than psychological warmth.

And yet, just as reliably, so many people seem so utterly shocked, appalled, and all-consumed by the fact that it is winter and it is cold outside. Yup. Every year. Get just like this. And we survive.

I guess some number of people each year decide to leave New England because of the weather. I guess they move to Florida, or California (southern, if they understand the varieties of weather there), or Arizona. Maybe they are retirement age and they have had enough, or maybe they are college age and are striking out for anything and everything different. Maybe they are college grads and they want to start their new, adult lives in a warmer place.

But most people stay. And most people seem annually confounded.

I was thinking, when we took down the Christmas tree yesterday (so absolutely dried out that ornaments were starting to fall off of branches bent low by lack of moisture), that I might just have it in me to be the crazy lady who leaves her Christmas tree and decorations up all year long. It would require, really, an artificial tree, but that's about it. However, even though now there are bins of ornaments waiting for me to wrap them all up and put them all the way away, I realized that it's the absence of Christmas during the rest of the year that makes Christmas so wonderful. It would lose its magic if it were always here.

So I am thinking of winter that way. It comes, every year, and it brings some challenges along with it, but it is in fact a wonderful thing and as much a part of the measure and glory of the year as every other mile marker we watch for during the annual parade of weeks, months, and seasons.

Happy winter to you.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


Our offices at work re-opened yesterday, on Friday, for no particularly good reason in my opinion (although I'm not sorry to have had a quiet day to get caught up and ready for the back-to-action that Monday will bring); a cold, grey, bitter morning was made better by a warm, crunchy dinner out with my boys. Thinking about playing with this two-photo format for a while.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New year, new start

Just jumping on the built-in change to get a kick-start; no regrets, no promises, just starting again with a fresh energy for all kinds of things.

As always, I got the big-time craft bug bite right at Christmas and, as always, too late really to do much in time for gift giving this year. However, I am forging on and hope to have a whole box full of gifts made over the course of the coming months and have made a start here with Mr. Fox. I've eyed the pattern for a couple of years but resisted on the sound basis of having so. many. other. patterns.  (Not necessarily fox patterns, but for more things than I can make in this lifetime.) He just kept calling me, though, and finally -- delighted I gave in. Directions were pretty good although I'll do several things differently next time. Planning a skulk of foxes.

Ready for this new chapter with all the warm feelings that I'd have curling up with a new book in a sunny window and the time to read. That's my secret, I realize; deciding to be mindful with my time.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Dean is taking a photo class at school, and loving it. Black and white, actual film -- learning how to process film and print his own photos. Loving it. I'm trying to let only the right dollop of my joy level show; yes, I want him to love it and have been trying for the past, oh, 11 years or so to put a camera in his hands, but I don't want to overwhelm him. I know I can be overwhelming when I mean well, so I'm trying to be an encouraging voice on the sidelines in a way that makes being there appreciated.

The rolls of film I ordered for him haven't arrived yet (I'll let you know if it turns out a certain online source was bogus or not). The 200 sheets of paper on which to print have arrived; I told him that being able to be free to do what it takes to get the print you want is important and it was a luxury neither Ken nor I really had during our own photo class days.  He is working with a camera provided by school -- I haven't been able to convince him to try one of my cameras yet, but I did manage to get him to let me change the lens for him on our expedition today.

His weekend assignment was to shoot landscape, so I asked if he wanted to check out the beach. We're about an hour from the ocean but we rarely ever go -- traffic in the summer is ridiculous, and there isn't generally the enthusiasm for the leaving-before-dawn-to-get-a-parking-spot aspect of the journey. Today was sunny and cold-ish (45f) and windy and it felt fantastic to breathe in that salty air and walk -- although we should have brought hats and gloves and all. Next time. I'd planned to take us to a more wild/secluded-ish kind of beach, but a massive roadworks project meant we couldn't get there so we just stumbled upon a spot in Lynn with parking and a long, wide beach just waiting for us. (Boston area beach access tells a fascinating story of major wealth vs. old-time working class, as well as of the prominence of commercial verses recreational use of the ocean; as you can imagine, the story twines around accessibility to the water -- a concept which, as a Chicagoan raised on something like 25 miles of publicly accessible, beautiful lakefront, is foreign to me.)

 Trying not to get ahead of what our shared story might be. Eager to see his work, when he's ready to share, and to be able to talk about photography. He loves it, meanwhile -- did I mention?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Making art and making the grade

I have done everything I could, always, to encourage Dean in the arts.  Oodles and oodles of supplies, and time to experiment, and conversations, and always saying what I truly believe -- that everyone is an artist.  Our output is the output that we, and we alone, are capable of producing.  We may judge our output harshly, against all those killer standards that beat us all down one way or another, but the reality is that we can all make art and that the art we make is uniquely our own.  Art is visual, auditory, aural and oral.

Dean was always a "process" guy growing up -- much, much more interested in getting his hands deep into the paint and rubbing over and over the surface telling a story as he went (a story that was obliterated in the end, but that gave him pleasure in the making), much more engaged with seeing how much color and texture he could put down but not interested in the end result.  He'd draw, a little, again to tell his own stories, but it wasn't his passion and I can't think of the last time he drew anything.  He still loves to dance, but on his own terms (although he is looking forward to a dance class later this year).  He does play piano, and is newly inspired to push himself to practice and experiment more.  But, at least at this point in his journey, he doesn't feel that he's a visual artist and doesn't have a great deal of interest.

His school, however, requires that all students work across all disciplines, and he must take music, visual arts, dance, theater (and all students focused on the arts must meet requirements across every other academic discipline).  He just finished up his Sculpture 1 class, and stands next to himself up there -- self portrait, full-sized bust in cardboard.

I see his work and I am thrilled.  I know how far out of his comfort zone he has been in this class, and I am awed by his work.  On the other hand, I understand that this is a real, academic course -- the school takes the arts seriously.  I get that.  I even understand how other students in the class produced *better* work.  But the bummer is that he got a grade he's not happy with in the class, which tragically has him re-convinced that he's NOT an artist and wanting to shimmy his way out of any other visual arts courses.  (He will have a photography class coming up, and he feels pretty positive about what he'll be able to accomplish).  I wish there were some middle ground; I wish there were some feedback the teacher could have given him that was more encouraging, even if that had to be the grade.  It's difficult to teach someone how to deeply engage with the art they are tasked with making (my mom was an art teacher so I had a front-row seat on this), how to show their thought process even if their execution is deemed somehow lacking. Back to that business about loving the process -- if he's engaged in the process and the thinking, should that "count?  I believe so.  You don't begin to make art unless you feel good about and are willing to undertake the process.

And the grade isn't the end of the world in my eyes, by the way -- but the issue is the way Dean interprets that....

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

And on

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I stopped carrying my camera with me today, because it is heavy and I already had a lot to transport to and from work and and and.  And I missed the opportunity to take a photo of the incredible praying mantis that was hanging out on a bush just outside my office door. So THAT tells me something....

I have an idea about doing some little something of clean up in my studio every day for the next thirty days, but the count will not coincide with the calendar because I don't quite have it in me to jump in yet.  I type that and instantly feel lame; I do just need to do it. Kind of so much to juggle every day in life already -- we're in one of those "just need to make it through the next couple of weeks" mode with a zillion things going on for each of us and me feeling in the center needing to hold it all together for every one.

Right. And that's really what's at the heart, for me, about the challenge of choosing to do something every day that will feel positively productive. I will try. I will start now, and I will try. And meanwhile I will see about remembering to carry my camera with me.

September thirty

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September twenty nine

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

September twenty eight

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Friday, September 27, 2013

September twenty seven

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My friend Polly is wondering who else might still be playing along, trying or practicing or perfecting something for 30 days.  Doesn't matter if you've been on top of every day, but have you been having some fun that you'd like to share?

I'm glad to see the end on the horizon, as much as I have enjoyed these 27 days of photography.  It does sometimes feel burdensome, either in the taking or the posting (or the thinking about or the adding it to the to-do list), but to have the body of work to look at and ponder -- that's where the beauty of really pushing yourself to do a thing every day really pays off.  Thinking about whether or not to continue, or to try something different, or -- bold thinking -- to continue and ADD something.  Natalie would be proud....

September twenty six

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