Category Archives: photography

Lucky to Live in the ROC (Part 3)

Previously, on Lucky to Live in the ROC (Part 1) and Lucky to Live in the ROC (Part 2), I shared two great places to visit in Rochester, New York: the Little Theatre and Highland Park. In Part 3, I reveal more attractions, including THE FOURTH-OLDEST ROLLER COASTER IN THE WORLD!

SEABREEZE AMUSEMENT PARK

Seabreeze is a historic amusement park situated in a breezy part of town where Irondequoit Bay meets Lake Ontario. It’s been a summer destination for young and old since 1879. I used to go there in the 1960s.

My favorite ride then was Over the Falls, which in those days meant a slow, creaky ride through dank, cobwebby tunnels, and a 40-foot plunge into a pool. Over the Falls eventually got to be over the hill, though (what does that say about me?), and was replaced in 1984 by the Log Flume.

Although I was daring enough to go Over the Falls, I never had the intestinal fortitude to brave the Jack Rabbit, built in 1920. It’s the fourth-oldest roller coaster in the world, but at 102, it’s also the oldest continuously operating roller coaster in America.

Jack Rabbit

Yes, the Jack Rabbit isn’t just old, it’s an antique – entirely constructed of WOOD. And if that isn’t enough to send you screaming from the park, consider this: you’ll be strapping yourself in for a wild ride full of sharp twists and turns on track that clickety-clacks like a rattlesnake (over 2,000 feet of it) , a 75-foot drop, and a dark tunnel signaling the merciful end.

But hold on a minute. If that type of cheap thrill isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other rides here at Seabreeze (including swirling teacups, which caused me to have to sit perfectly still for an hour after being swirled in one of them).

Although Seabreeze Amusement Park happens to be the fourth-oldest operating amusement park in the United States, not all of its rides are old. Here are some of the other rides you’ll see there. Pictured below are the Time Machine, Tilt, Screamin’ Eagle, Revolution 360, Log Flume, Carousel, and Bobsled:

Speaking of old, seniors get in free every Tuesday. They can enjoy all rides for free that day, too. And yes, if you must know, I was there on a Tuesday.

In my next installment of Lucky to Live in the ROC, an epic road trip in search of the perfect pizza leads to some unexpected paintings in the strangest of places.

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Lucky to Live in the ROC (Part 2)

I’m back with another exciting installment of “Lucky to Live in the ROC,” an ongoing series in which I extoll the virtues of my hometown, Rochester, New York.

(Bonus tip: Scroll to the bottom to see the CUTEST PICTURE EVER TAKEN OF MY DAUGHTERS, and then return here to continue reading.)

Part 2: HIGHLAND PARK

When I first moved to Rochester as a child, I immediately noticed the abundance of trees.

Maybe my impression was colored by the fact that my former street was a busy four-lane highway, and my new address was on a quiet road covered by an arc of leafy elms. But to my twelve-year-old mind, Rochester was a green oasis compared to the drab Buffalo suburb I’d come from.

I soon discovered many lovely parks in and around Rochester that supported my first impression. And, of all the parks in the area, Highland Park turned out to be my favorite.

Highland Park was designed in the late 1800s by Frederick Law Olmsted (the designer of New York’s Central Park). Its 150 acres are located within the city limits. It’s an arboretum that showcases more than 1,200 lilac shrubs (over 500 varieties), as well as magnolias, rhododendron, azaleas, and many other beautiful plants, while maintaining a natural, flowing vibe. It also features an amphitheater, Highland Bowl, that is used for outdoor movies, theater productions, and music concerts.

Highland Park is a great place to visit in the spring, when many flowering plants are at their peak. For a guide to what’s blooming when, click here.

A Lilac Festival is held in Highland Park each May, with music, art, food, and – of course – lilacs.

Winter in Highland Park can be a good time for photos, too, until your fingers get numb from the cold.

Here are my top three memories from past visits to Highland Park:

#1: Attending a Sarah Vaughan concert in the 1980s at the Highland Bowl amphitheater. Fun fact: My daughter Erica (age 1 at the time) came along with me. About 30 years later, we learned that her husband, Richard, had been there, too. Coincidentally, they tied the knot at Warner Castle, located IN HIGHLAND PARK! Could their fate have been written in the stars that night?

#2: Seeing Herman’s Hermits there during the 1990s. Somewhere in my archives, I have a blurry snapshot of Peter Noone (taken by me) singing “I’m Henery the Eighth, I Am.”

#3: Taking my daughters there to see the flowers. One year, on Mother’s Day, a reporter noticed Katie and interviewed her. She was on the news that night!

Well, I guess you can see why Highland Park is special to me. I think I’ll go there today and take more photos.

Tip: Follow me so you won’t miss the next fascinating episode of “Lucky to Live in the ROC,” in which I’ll discuss the FOURTH-OLDEST ROLLER COASTER IN THE WORLD!

Lucky to Live in the ROC (Part 1)

A friend is staying with me this summer, and the weather has been cooperating. In fact, since his arrival, we’ve had almost constant sunshine (and that’s really rare for Rochester). As a result, we’ve been going out on little adventures every day.

Now, through my friend’s eyes, I’m starting to appreciate my hometown more than ever, and I’ve decided to write about this in my new series, “Lucky to Live in the ROC.” In each segment, I’ll discuss something really special about Rochester, New York – something that makes me glad I moved back home.

PART 1: THE LITTLE

The Little Theatre, a.k.a. “The Little,” is located at 240 East Avenue in downtown Rochester. It was built in 1929 as part of the Little Cinema Movement (an alternative to commercial movie houses), was constructed in the Art Deco style by Edgar Phillips and Frederick Pike, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In my opinion, it’s the best place in Rochester for movies, especially if you like independent and foreign films. In addition, it has a great little café with live music and food (including a light, delicious limoncello layer cake).

The Little Theatre, Rochester, NY

We recently visited the café at The Little to hear Hanna & the Blue Hearts. Hanna PK grew up in South Korea; her parents were in a rock band. She learned to play piano at a young age, but it wasn’t until she was an adult that she discovered American blues, and it knocked her out. (My friend Aleks, guitarist for the Blue Hearts, tells me she was “gobsmacked.”)

You can read more about Hanna’s evolution as a blues musician in the WXXI news story, “Music Heals Hanna PK and the Blue Hearts.

Tony Hiler (drums), Hanna PK (vocals),
Aleks Disljenkovic (guitar)
Gian Carlo Cervone (organ),
Hanna PK (piano, vocals), Tony Hiler (drums),
Aleks Disljenkovic (guitar)

I love Hanna not only for her musicality (she plays piano and guitar, covers the blues and American classics, writes her own songs, and sings), but also for her huge heart, which comes across in her original lyrics as well as her stage presence. And the music she and the band play is world class. To my mind, hearing Hanna & the Blue Hearts play the blues is one of the most uplifting things I’ve experienced, here or anywhere else.

And I’m getting an education about the blues, too. After hearing the Blue Hearts’ version of Memphis Slim’s “I’m Lost Without You,” I asked my friend Aleks about it, and he sent me a link to a video – Memphis Slim performing the song along with famed guitarist Matt “Guitar” Murphy. I’d never heard the song before, never heard of Slim or Murphy, and now I’ve heard both of them play another great version of the song.

Then I did three things: I looked up Memphis Slim (and learned his real name), I looked up Matt “Guitar” Murphy (and learned that he played in the Blues Brothers band and even played a role in the Blues Brothers movie), and I listened to Hanna’s version of the song, which is track 4 on her new CD, “Blues All Over My Shoes.” I learned a lot that day.

As I said, I’m lucky. Lucky to live where I can hear Hanna & the Blue Hearts playing LIVE at the Little Theatre (and all over New York State).

Do you feel lucky living where YOU live?


Simultaneous Success

I’ve got two big announcements this week. It’s rare that I have even one, let alone two, so I’m calling this a Simultaneous Success. Or a Spring Fling. Or maybe just a Win-Win!

PHOTO SHOW

I’m honored to be included in Image City Photography Gallery’s annual Black and White Invitational, June 14 – July 10, 2022, along with six other photographers. Twelve of my photos will be exhibited during the show!

Here’s a preview link, showing a sample of photos from each of the photographers, including one of mine, titled “All Souls Child.” It’s also shown below, and was taken in 2014 at the annual All Souls Procession in Tucson, Arizona. (The All Souls Procession is a community-wide event held in early November, celebrating the lives of hundreds of departed loved ones. It’s a colorful, joyous, respectful, somber, and unique cultural event associated with Día de los Muertos.)

I knew nothing about picture framing for a gallery show before this. Usually, I just buy ready-mades at Michael’s and pop them in. But for a gallery, I knew things needed to be a tad different. For example, there was the matter of attaching picture-hanging wire to the back of the frame. How on earth do people do that? I decided I’d need to splurge on professional framing. But then I discovered how expensive it is. Over $100 per picture, times 12. Nope, I’d need to find another way.

After many Google searches, I finally asked a photography mentor for ideas. He said he just buys kits and assembles them himself. Easy for him to say, but I can barely hold a screwdriver. And then I remembered that my sister Lisa used to frame pictures for a living! I felt like a fool for forgetting that fact (sorry for the alliteration) and I sheepishly asked for her help.

Not only did she offer to teach me the art of picture framing, but she offered to help me frame the pictures!

Once I’d chosen my frame style, glass type, and mat color, I ordered the materials and then pleaded with the universe that the stuff would arrive at my house on time. (It did.) I scheduled a trip to see my sister, then drove the 200 miles to her house with all that glass in the back of my car. Yikes!

None of it broke, but there was one tiny glitch: I’d mistakenly left two pieces of glass at home! But Lisa was such a good teacher that I was able to frame those two items myself once I’d returned home.

Here are some photos of me learning to frame, and then doing it myself:

BOOK SERIES

My second announcement is that my 3-book series, “Wordle Poems: A Poem a Day for Wordle Nerds,” has now gone international, with readers on three continents! To celebrate, I’ve combined all 3 books into 1. You can dip your toe in the water and purchase just 1, or you can get the 3-in-1 version, shown below.

You can even borrow the individual volumes for FREE using Kindle Unlimited. All are available on Amazon or Kindle.

Here’s a sample poem from Book 2. I call it “Cheeky Chair.”

Cheeky Chair (Wordle 246 3/6)


“A three! A three! I’ll take it!”
I shouted from my chair,
“I didn’t think I’d make it,
but see! I did! Right there!”
“Oh no, you must have cheated,”
my chair said, playfully.
“You’ll have to be unseated,”
it laughed, ejecting me.

Now it’s time for me to go celebrate this rare occurrence of simultaneous success!

Two Bridges and More

Inspired by a recent post by my friend Mary (“A Bridge Too … High!”), I’ve decided to post something about bridges, too.

While Mary’s article is about a bridge in Ireland; mine is about two bridges in Italy.

And, while hers is witty and thoroughly entertaining, mine is more along the lines of “here are some photos of bridges, and here is all I can think of to say about them at the moment.” Oh well. One can’t always be witty and entertaining!

I hope you enjoy the photos, and that you’ll check out Mary’s blog as well.

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy, 2017:

Ponte Vecchio (“Old Bridge”) is aptly named; it’s over 1,000 years old! (The first written record of it is from the year 996.) These days, it’s lined with shops, and tons of tourists. I just noticed that there are at least six bridges in this photo!

Gazing at this picture brings me back to the moment when I captured it. I’d just toured the nearby Uffizi Gallery. In fact, I was standing inside the gallery when I took the photo, looking down at the Arno River. It was my first trip to Italy (first time in Europe, too). I’d flown there from Tucson, Arizona with a small travel group (only eight of us). Together, in just one week, we visited several interesting and beautiful sites around Tuscany, including Florence, Pisa, San Gimignano, Lucca, and Siena.

On my last day of the trip, I took a 20-minute bus ride from the outskirts of Florence, where we were staying, into the city, all by myself, just so I could absorb some of the local culture and language on my own time. It was an amazing experience. I could barely speak a full sentence in Italian, yet the people on the bus (who barely spoke English) helped me out when I wasn’t sure which was my stop.

My day of solo museum-hopping (which included a delicious three-course lunch – meat, pasta, tiramisu, and of course vino) went by much too quickly. At about 5 p.m., after standing at the wrong bus stop for ten minutes, I discovered my error just in time to catch the last bus back to the hotel. I wasn’t the least bit nervous. It was a friendly, warm, and welcoming place, and gorgeous, too.

Ponte Sisto, Rome, Italy, 2019:

Two years after my first trip to Italy, I had the chance to go again with the same tour group. This time there were only four of us, and we were going to study Italian in Sicily for a week! After the week was up, rather than flying home directly from Sicily, two of us opted to spend two extra days in Rome. I mean, how could I possibly skip seeing Rome when I had the chance? (I LOVED Rome and hope to return some day.)

Ponte Sisto (the bridge pictured above) has a long history. From what I can gather from my online search, there was a bridge on this site in the 4th century known as Pons Aurelius. It was partially destroyed in 772 when Rome was attacked and taken over by a Lombard king, Desiderius. In 1473, Pope Sixtus IV commissioned the rebuilding of the bridge. It is now only for pedestrians and spans the Tiber River in Rome’s historic district. I didn’t realize it when I took this photo, but that’s the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica (in Vatican City) in the background!

* * * * * * * *

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about bridges. My post, “Bridges in Literature,” will bring you up to speed on the many appearances of bridges (or lack thereof?) in books, songs, and movies. Here’s a sneak peek at the photo I used in that article. It’s a bridge somewhere in southern Arizona:

* * * * * * * *

One last thought: The “featured image” at the top of this post is a blue and yellow banner in honor of Ukraine. These days, I’ve been thinking a lot about the bridges there, and about how so many thousands of innocent victims of the Russian invasion are trying to cross them to safety.

This post is dedicated to the brave people of Ukraine.

* * * * * * * *

If you haven’t already done so, please check out my brand new book, “Wordle Poems: A Poem a Day for Wordle Nerds,” on Amazon. It contains 30 original poems inspired by the daily act of Wordling. No spoilers! Reviews are greatly appreciated!

For more of my writing, visit my author page over at Bardsy, as well as my book, “Standing in the Surf,” on Amazon. It’s a photo journal about the Pacific Northwest area known as the Salish Sea, which includes Whidbey Island, Vancouver Island, Stanley Park, Butchart Gardens, and more.

Two’s Day/Cave Conversation

Today’s date, according to the Gregorian (western) calendar, is 2/22/22. And it happens to fall on a Tuesday! How cool is that?

Even cooler is the fact that TWO people pointed out the date to me today.

A date like that happens only TWICE every century! It took me a while to come to this conclusion. I had to write it out, like this:

            21st century:  1/11/2011 and 2/22/2022

            20th century:  1/11/1911 and 2/22/1922

            19th century: 1/11/1811 and 2/22/1822

        etc.

No sooner had I written this, than I began to wonder how far back the pattern would go. When was our calendar invented, I asked myself. And so, of course, I traveled down the proverbial rabbit hole and discovered that the history of the calendar is (a) fascinating, and (b) confusing!

What I can tell you, though, is that it has to do with the cycles of the sun and the moon that ancient peoples observed. You probably already knew that, but what might be news to you is the actual very first conversations by cave people in the process of inventing the calendar, which I’ve reconstructed here for the first time:

Cave Woman to Cave Man: Hey! Come here! Stop hunt! Look at sky! Light! Dark! Light again! Dark again! I make mark on cave wall each time! Okay, you make mark, I hold baby. Let us call marks “days.” … Just do it! Me no know why! Me just like sound.

Later, Cave Man to Cave Woman: Hey! Stop cook! Look up! Yesterday moon little! Now moon bigger! Other day moon very big! Me make more marks on cave wall! Oh, okay, I hold baby, you make moon marks. You make pretty marks. You pretty. You … okay, me go sleep now.

Much later, Cave Baby to Cave Parents: Mom, Dad! Look! Moon get big every time we have this many marks on cave wall! (Holds up both hands and flashes all ten fingers three times.) Let us call this many marks “month!” … Me no know why! Me just like sound.

Much, much later, Cave Grandkid to other Cave Grandkids: Hey! Come to my cave! We have many cool marks on my cave walls! (Flashes all ten fingers 30 times.) Marks in color! Come see marks, then play games!

Outside of cave, Grandkids playing rock, rock, rock (paper and scissors not invented yet): Winner make up funny word for 300 marks on cave wall! Okay, how about … “year?” (Howls of laughter)

And now for a photo I took last summer in the Adirondacks, in honor of Two’s Day:

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If you haven’t already done so, please check out my brand new book, “Wordle Poems: A Poem a Day for Wordle Nerds,” on Amazon. It contains 30 original poems inspired by the daily act of Wordling. No spoilers! Reviews are greatly appreciated!

For more of my writing, visit my author page over at Bardsy, as well as my book, “Standing in the Surf,” on Amazon. It’s a photo journal about the Pacific Northwest area known as the Salish Sea, which includes Whidbey Island, Vancouver Island, Stanley Park, Butchart Gardens, and more.

Where Did I (Gink)Go?

photo credit: olga drach on unsplash

Quick: What ancient Chinese tree is known for its reputation as a memory-enhancing supplement?

If you guessed “GINKO,” you’d be just partially right, because you misspelled it. The word is “GINKGO,” but I’ll forgive you for using only five letters, because you’ve probably been playing too much Wordle.

I’m writing about the ginkgo tree today for three reasons:

  • Their leaves are gorgeous.
  • They’ve managed to survive for thousands of years.
  • I have some photos of ginkgo trees to share with you.

But on a deeper level, my reasons are more complicated. As you may remember if you’ve been taking your ginkgo supplements (just kidding!), my dog Maya and I packed up and moved cross-country last year. You can read about our journey in my previous blog series, “New Latitude.” I stopped blogging temporarily, but now that I’m all settled in, I want to get back to my mission: writing stories inspired by my camera.

Yesterday, I uploaded 24 new photos, and I’ll be writing about each one, starting with GINKGO LEAVES:

And now for some Fascinating Facts about the Ginkgo tree:

  • Its scientific name is Ginkgo biloba.
  • It’s native to China.
  • Although its natural range is a small area of China, it has been cultivated in other parts of the world. (My photos were taken at Highland Park in Rochester, New York.)
  • Fossils in the Ginkgo genus date back to the Middle Jurassic period (about 170 million years ago). It was cultivated early in human history.
  • Its DNA genome is about three times as large as our human genome, which is thought to be why the ginkgo tree has many natural defenses against bacteria and chemicals. In fact, it’s so resistant to environmental assaults that six specimens growing in close proximity to the 1945 atomic blast at Hiroshima, Japan survived and continued to grow as healthy plants. They are still alive today.
  • According to an article by the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, its use as a dietary supplement for the treatment of various diseases is mixed, and more study is needed.
  • It originally was two separate Japanese words pronounced “gin kyo.” Its current spelling dates back to a probable spelling error by a German, Engelbert Kaempfer.
  • It can grow to over 100 feet tall.
  • It’s considered a “living fossil.” Some living specimens are reported to be over 2,500 years old.
  • The ginkgo leaf is the symbol of Tokyo.

I’m glad I thought to take pictures of those pretty ginkgo leaves in Highland Park last summer. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been so inspired to learn more about this admirable tree. I’d love to read about what inspires you. Please leave a note in the Comments section if you’re so inclined.

Before I go, I just want to say it’s (gink)GOOD  to be back!

—–

If you haven’t already done so, please check out my brand new book, “Wordle Poems: A Poem a Day for Wordle Nerds,” on Amazon. It contains 30 original poems inspired by the daily act of Wordling. No spoilers! Reviews are greatly appreciated!

For more of my writing, visit my author page over at Bardsy, as well as my book, “Standing in the Surf,” on Amazon. It’s a photo journal about the Pacific Northwest area known as the Salish Sea, which includes Whidbey Island, Vancouver Island, Stanley Park, Butchart Gardens, and more.

The Curious Case of Life Imitating Art

The muse must have been looking over my shoulder yesterday because, unexpectedly, I stumbled upon a case of life imitating art. Or was art imitating life?

I’d spent most of the day walking my dog, talking with friends online, and reading Anna Quindlen’s novel, “Still Life with Breadcrumbs,” the story of a photographer whose career is in decline.

In late afternoon, I decided to take my car out for a spin, since the last time I’d started it up, it had been sluggish. I feared the battery was about to reach its moment of planned obsolescence. (That would be about par for 2020.) But I hoped that if I drove around for an hour or so, maybe I could revive it.

On a whim, I grabbed my camera before heading out (something I haven’t done in a while, since it’s been too hot during the day for photography). “You never know,” I thought, imagining for just a second a chance encounter with a dust devil, or maybe a space alien. The car sputtered to a reluctant start. Before it could die on me, I put it in gear and headed north.

My destination was Oracle, about half an hour up the road – an unincorporated town whose most famous resident to date has been Buffalo Bill Cody. En route, it occurred to me to plug in an audiobook that was in my phone.

Unfortunately, I’m not too good with modern audio systems in cars (or in phones, for that matter). In fact, I was surprised I’d managed to get the book copied into my phone at all. So as not to cause an accident, I turned off the main highway, Oracle Road, and onto Biosphere Road (which, inconsequentially, leads to Biosphere 2) in order to park, thumb through my owner’s manual, and figure out how to tell my car to read a book to me.

After a few hundred feet, I came to a turnaround. It looked like an ideal place for rattlesnakes and tarantulas to hang out, but I wasn’t planning to get out of the car and join their party, even if they were wearing masks. Heavy, dark storm clouds were gathering in the distance, and a few were above my head. I was anxious to queue up my book and get back on the road.

The clouds had other ideas. They suddenly moved out of the sun’s way, and a shaft of light landed on something smooth, tall, and bright along the trail: a scarred and dusty shrine in the middle of the desert.

It seemed to be a case of life imitating art. You see (spoiler alert), on page 37 in Still Life With Breadcrumbs, that book I’d been reading earlier that day, the protagonist goes for a hike in the woods and comes upon a shrine – a white wooden cross with a glittering child’s volleyball trophy lying on the ground next to it. She takes some photos.

I felt like life was trying to tell me something, so I shut off the engine, grabbed my camera, and got out of the car. Scoping out the ground for snakes or spiders, I cautiously approached the little memorial and took a few photos. As soon as I’d finished and gotten back in my car, I realized I might have made a mistake.

It was 107 degrees out, and there I was in the middle of the Arizona desert with a car whose battery was on its last legs. I wondered how long it would be before AAA could find me. I turned the key in the ignition. The engine choked for a few seconds, and then, reluctantly, it caught.

I sighed, turned the car around, and glanced back at the shrine, but by then the sun had ducked behind the clouds again; the scene was now in shadow. I’d gotten there just at the right moment.

All I could think of on the drive home was the phrase, “life imitates art.” So today I looked that up and learned a thing or two. The idea has been around since at least the time of Plato, who believed art was a poor imitation of life, and for that reason could be dangerous. Aristotle, on the other hand, welcomed art’s imitation of life. And Oscar Wilde’s take was that life imitates art more often than art imitates life. Even Dostoevsky got into the debate, describing it as more of a codependent relationship, where art imitates life, which then imitates art, causing life to owe its very existence to art.

As for me, I was totally flabbergasted by the way my life (finding the shrine) seemed to be imitating art (the book I’m reading). Or maybe art (the book) was imitating life (its pathos) which in turn was imitating art (the shrine). It’s something I thought was worth pondering, especially when I realized one more thread:

In “Still Life With Breadcrumbs,” the protagonist doesn’t notice a certain, possibly significant, detail on the cross until she gets home and enlarges the photo. That same thing happened to me – I didn’t notice the coins at the base of the statue until I got home. Can you spot them?

Shrine 5

I’ve searched online for other photos of this shrine but couldn’t find any, so I don’t know who it’s for. I wish I did. In any case, I think I’ll return soon and add some coins to their collection.

 

 

Do You Have a Muse?

Do you have a muse? Someone or something that inspires you to create? I guess I do, because it seems that every time I decide to post a photograph, I end up writing. Take today, for example.

I sat here at my desk with the intention of posting a photo of a hummingbird, one I’d seen while out for a walk yesterday. I usually write a few words to go with my photos, so I wondered what I could say about this one.

Before I had a chance to start typing, though, I heard a voice (my muse?) telling me what to write.

“Write a poem,” the voice said.

“About what?” I asked.

“Well, what are you thinking about right now? What are you feeling?”

“Well, duh,” I said. “I’m thinking about the pandemic, what else is there to think about?”

“Okay, but are you sure you want to write about something so intense? Maybe just write a poem about a bird.”

“I have to write about what’s on my mind,” I countered. “Maybe I can work the little bird into the poem somehow.”

“Alright” the voice said, “it’s your blog. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

You see, I’d been lying on the sofa today, feeling a sense of unfocused inertia. I’ve been feeling that way on and off for the last couple of days. Have you been feeling that way, too?

For the past month, I’ve been busy doing things like working from home, writing, making masks, talking to friends, figuring out how to safely get food, and, of course, watching Netflix. I’m not a total nerd. But I’ve also been glued to the news, and that’s okay, because I want to know what’s going on. I think it’s important that we stay on top of things. But sometimes I try to do too much, and then it seems as if my brain just shuts down and all I can do is crossword puzzles. And that’s okay, too.

Anyway, I was feeling very foggy-brained and distracted by (a) my phone, (b) a crossword puzzle, (c) my Spanish flashcards, and (d) thoughts about the pandemic. (The correct answer is all of the above.) I had  just told myself to focus on only one thing at a time when I got up to get something (I forget what) and I found myself sitting here at the computer. I know, I probably need meds more wine.

And while I’d been on the couch, I kept thinking about something Billy Collins said recently in one of his live-from-home poetry talks. In speaking about social isolation, he said we’re  living under a “futureless condition,” not knowing how long this situation will last or what life will be like afterwards. He compared it to being in 4th grade, where the only future you can imagine is “5th grade.” I thought that was a great description of how I’ve been feeling. And again, it’s okay to feel that way. I guess another way to describe it is how Bob Dylan would have put it: “no direction home.”

Then I looked at my little bird photo through the “futureless condition” lens, and I could imagine how that bird must feel, clinging to a tiny branch, swaying in the breeze, not sure why he was there or where he would be heading to next. And I knew I wanted to try and put all of those thoughts and feelings and images into a poem.

I did write the poem, but I have no idea whether it’s “any good,” so I’m going to let it steep for a while before I publish it. Meanwhile, here’s my little muse, the light little bird that inspired all this heavy thinking today.

And before you go, if the spirit grabs you, don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know how you’re doing. Do you have a muse?

Black-chinned hummingbird watermarked

 

 

Zooming and Blooming

Today’s post is about Zooming (video conferencing with my kids) and Blooming (photos I took about a month ago).

I haven’t been outside with my camera for several weeks, for fear of encountering someone on the trail who might sneeze on me. That actually happened to a friend of mine. Maybe my next batch of photos will be of the still life variety, taken indoors.

Let’s see … I could artfully arrange that pile of work folders that’s sitting on a stool in my living room. I might create a colorful collage from the pile of fabric rectangles stacked up next to my sewing machine. Or perhaps the world is ready for a sculpture I’ve created out of my pile of dirty laundry — the laundry I’m hesitant to do in the community laundry room. Then there’s my dwindling pile of toilet paper rolls … I really had better photograph it before it’s gone.

I’m doing okay, though. I just had a fun three-way video chat with my daughters. Tomorrow is the older one’s 40th birthday, so we celebrated by using Zoom. After the initially unsuccessful attempt at connecting, there we all finally were on the screen, looking like a pared-down version of the Brady Bunch (without the makeup, weird hairdos, or fake smiles). Well, in my case, I had put on a touch of makeup. They may have, too, but I couldn’t tell because they always look beautiful to me.

It wasn’t exactly the birthday party my daughter would have wanted, but it definitely made my day. I got to see with my own eyes how they’ve been coping during the pandemic, and it was reassuring. They even hilariously modeled their new masks, which they’ve made by cutting up the many pairs of leggings that they own, and making holes in them to place over their ears. It’s genius!

As always, they made me laugh, demonstrating how the stretchiness of the masks enables the wearer to quickly change them into long earrings, headbands, or a clever way to hide a double chin.

It was also a chance for me to visit with my grandsons. The 4-year-old (who tells his parents every day that he’s “so sick of the coronavirus”) said “I love you” (unprompted) and the almost 1-year-old smiled and waved and blew me an almost-kiss, touching his open palm to his mouth and holding it there for about 20 seconds. I have to say, it might have been one of the longest kisses I’ve ever received. It was definitely one of the best, anyway.

I hope you enjoy these photos of budding life and the promise of spring.

Bud 1Bud 2Bud 3Bud 5Bud 6