Friday, April 8, 2016

Photos of My Mind

I love to take pictures. But sometimes, I stop and think about the photographs I didn’t take.
The first one that comes to mind is a new born foal on a misty morning on a back road in Ohio. 
I had cut through Zanesville, turning south from I-70. It was around 8:30 in the morning and as I drove a light fog had settled in the pastures that lined the narrow and curving road. My camera was tucked in the backpack on the passenger’s seat beside me. I came into a straight stretch of road and through the mist I saw about twenty horses huddled together by a fence. About twenty yards away were two men and a young boy. One of the men was pulling a foal out of the mother horse as she laid on the ground. I pulled over and reached for my camera. Then I stopped. If I took the time to get my camera out and get the settings just right, the moment would be gone. As the baby hit the ground, I chose to be in the moment. The picture still exists in my mind. And every time I think of it, I smile.
The same thing happens when I pass an amazing sunset behind rolling hills and silos. Barns, some with Amish paintings displayed on the side, draped in the shadows at the days end. The mountain peaks, vibrant green against the spectacular blue sky. A running river, cutting through the forest, white water churning against the grey rocks. I pull over and just sit there. I blink my eyes and take a mental picture. 

Family members, celebrations, panoramic views, quiet moments. As many actual pictures as I have taken with my camera, there are thousands tucked into the photo album of my mind. They are there where I can take them out at a moment’s notice and marvel in the incredible picture gallery of my life.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Move

I recently had the privilege of moving my Mother into her new home.  It was hard.  The home she was leaving had been the family home where gatherings had been celebrated and reunions enjoyed for over 58 years.  All four of my siblings had been brought from the hospital to our home. (Except Jeffrey who had to stay at the grandparents with Mom as the other three of us had the flu.). 
Kirk and I arrived on Tuesday.  Mom had been cleaning out closets and drawers slowly over the last year preparing for the move.  Kirk and I sat Mom on a chair and placed the first box on a stool in the middle of the kitchen.  We handed plates and dishes down.  She told us about each one.  Where it came from; Great Aunt Doris, Mrs. Mechwart, Grandma Sanders, her Mother. Each piece held a wonderful memory, and as she lovingly wrapped and placed each piece in a box we realized how lucky we were to share in these moments.  Many of the other boxes held a plethora of historical papers and pictures documenting a family’s story. We moved throughout the house, each corner held a new memory.  We laughed about how the brothers had memorized how many steps in the entry way and back the hall it took so you could come in late at night.  Or the moments when you thought you had made it but heard a voice from the darkness, “Wendy, we’ll talk in the morning.” Then there’s the wall by the fridge that held markings for the various heights of the kids and grandkids and great grandkids. Or the shed where Dad would paint with the grandkids.
On Friday Mom signed the papers and moved into the new condo.  It was smaller but cozy.  We had the kitchen completely set up by that evening.  Kirk moved several smaller pieces into the house and we watched as the memories moved with her into her new home.  On Saturday my brothers and nephew Matt showed up to move the heavier pieces.  Two truckloads full and she was in. Ali and Nick showed up to help move and assist with furniture placement. Maddie, Emily and the kids gave the place a feeling of home. The cherished crystal and glass pieces were in the antique cupboard.  Drapes were hung, washer and dryer delivered.  By Saturday night the house looked like she’d lived there for a long time. 

People asked if I was okay with the move.  I said yes.  The house had gotten to be too much.  The yard work overwhelming.  As I looked around her new home I realized that the building is not the family, the people are the family.  Wherever my Mom is, that’s my home.  Wherever we gather as a family, that’s my home. And as hard as the move was, it was a privilege to be a part of this new adventure in my Mother's life. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

My Favorite

I was having a discussion with my friends that other night about children.  More specifically about which of our children was the favorite.
 I told them this story.  I was sitting at a bar one time at PF Changs.  My daughter Brooke was bartending, my daughter Lauren and I were doing shots of Patron.  It had been a rough day.  And it was only 3:00.  The other bartender says, “So who’s the favorite child?”  Without missing a beat the girl’s both said, “Dan.”
Not true, I scoffed. But, I don’t love them equally.  They have three VERY different personalities.  You can’t love dissimilar things the same.  It’s like Pizza, Steak, and chocolate.   Love them all.  But differently.
Daniel has a tough exterior, but soft inside.  If something is bothering me he sees it before the others.  He also is the first to call me out when I am going in the wrong direction.  His loyalty, honesty and integrity amaze me.
Lauren is a people pleaser as well as a creative soul.  She is the first to try to make things better, also the first to be hurt.  When she was traveling around Europe my grandmother died and she called constantly to make sure I was all right. Her sensitive and creative soul amazes me.
Brooke is strong, independent and loving.  When she was two a friend of mine who was visiting asked if Brooke wanted to go home with her.  Brooke looked over at me and said, “Bye, bye.”  But she is fiercely protective of family.  Her artistic abilities and loving soul amaze me.
So my answer to my friends was this - My favorite is the one that needs me.  My favorite is each one, for I hold them in my heart, where I cherish the moments from their childhood, rejoicing in the exceptional people they have become.  I embrace their differences and appreciate their similarities. 
They all love animals.  Probably more than most people.  They all are appalled by injustice.  All are involved in some form of fundraising for various charities.
So I said to my friend, how, how do you choose.  The simple answer…You don’t. 

You embrace.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Poof



We all have moments in our life that come back to us as brief flashbacks.  Not the major milestones, but those small moments that make up a lifetime.  I have noticed lately that they happen at the weirdest time and are usually brought on by some outside influence. 
The other day I was at a friend’s home and she was using Dove dish soap.  The aroma of that detergent set off a memory.  POOF - I was taken back to my Grandmother’s kitchen, a sink full of dishes after a family meal.  The kitchen, my Grandmother standing next to me, the soap smell combined with the grease aroma from the fried chicken all hit me as if I were actually taken back to that time.  Snapshots of the family gathered together for a holiday, the men going off to hunt, the women congregating in the kitchen.
On the back of our property in Georgia stands a grove of Hemlocks.  On a breezy day, if I stand there and close my eyes, POOF - I am taken back to my Grandparents farm in Southern Ohio.  I am taken to the grove of Hemlocks on a neighboring ridge, the sweet smell of the pines hanging in the air as my sister, cousins and I climb the trees and play the day away.
When I am close to a lake and a breeze comes across, as I feel the warmth of the day and hear the lapping of the waves on the shore, POOF - I am immediately transported to Lake Erie.  The summers of my youth were spent on the Lake.  Quick snapshots of us fishing, running through the park, eating ice cream at Tony’s. 
Sometimes these memories bring to mind simple moments like a picnic in the yard or helping my Dad work on a car.  Sometimes it’s a quick flash of sitting at a brother’s sporting event or holiday surrounded by family. 
The other day I was in the dentist’s office and he had a small fan aimed in my direction.  I closed my eyes and POOF- I was transported to the top of a hill behind my Grandparents farmhouse.  I sat on the tree stump out back and looked out over the back hills.   A cacophony of color shouted out, deep reds, bright yellows and vibrant oranges, the colors of fall.  In my mind, I tilted my head back and felt the cool air tickle my face. 
It seems these glimpses of my youth come more frequently as I get older.  Maybe they are the gifts God gives us to remind us of this wonderful thing we experience called life.  Sometimes…it’s the little things.

Monday, April 29, 2013

To See If I Can


Five little words.  Just five.  I uttered them last week when I felt the need to photograph the full moon out back that was so incredibly beautiful. 
The words?  To see if I can
It was nine o’clock at night.  I sat out back with my camera hoisted on my tripod and tried different shutter speeds, iso settings and apertures.  It was incredibly frustrating.  But I kept on.  I would stop and head into the house every once in awhile to take a break and re-group.  I studied my owner’s manual; I went online to see if there was any information that might lead me in the right direction to capture that one perfect shot. 
One site suggested I buy a telescope and adapter to get the best picture.  I googled.  $1500 and up.   I made the practical decision to try to get the picture with the equipment I already possessed. 
Back outside and tried a few suggestions I had found online.  Manual focus, ISO 100, Aperture F11, Shutter speed 125 and lens set to infinity.  (I shouted, “To infinity and beyond” to see if that would help.) With these settings in place at 11:53 pm I got the shots I wanted.  250 shots of the moon over 3 1/2 hours and I kept 7.  But they were a good 7.
I had experienced an  “to see if I can” moment.  And even though it was sitting in my backyard shooting picture after picture of the beautiful full moon, I thought of something; when I was younger I had so many of those wonderful moments where I stepped outside my comfort zone and stretched the boundaries of my somewhat safe existence. 
Sure I can jump off that cliff into the water below.”
“Let’s climb up the steel trusses of the ranger tower.”
I won’t go into some of the other “to see if I can” moments of my life as some were just too stupid and I would prefer you all think of me as that “grown up” you all know and love. 
These moments might change as we age, maybe they’re not as  physically demanding.  But that wonderful moment when you see that you can learn something new, conquer some fear or just step outside your comfort zone and try, well these moments are priceless.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I Love It!!!


Something has been bothering me for some time now.  It has to do with words.  Not the overuse of the word “literally.”  Not the overuse of the words “whatever” or “awesome.”  Not people who say “irregardless.”  Actually, those things really annoy me.  But what really drives me crazy is the overuse of the words “love” and “hate.” 
I was talking to a friend about a new movie and she said, “Oh, I won’t see it. I hate Tom Cruise.”  You HATE Tom Cruise?  I may dislike an actor’s acting style, or their role choices, but hate?  No.  I save that emotion for more serious matters.
Let me give you an idea of what I mean. 
I hate that my Father died so young.
I hate Cheetos.
Do you see the difference?  Can the feelings in these two sentences even compare?
I dislike Cheetos.  I can’t stand Cheetos.   Cheetos are not my thing.
I think maybe this all boils down to my love of words and their true meanings.  We throw love and hate around so casually that they lose their meaning. 
I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you.
I love spaghetti. 
I love my children.
I love lattes.
Overuse of the words tends to make the sentiment less.  Less meaningful, less important. 
We need to respect the words.  We need to allow them to express their true meaning.  Because if you stop to think about it there are no two words as powerful as Love and Hate.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I Cry


I just finished a book called The Weird Sisters.  At the end, I cried.  It was a happy ending, but still…I have always been a crier.  Happy, sad, anything moving can bring tears to my eyes.  I have to admit that as I have gotten older I cry easier but it’s always been there.  I used to cry at commercials.  The Kodak one with the little kid being licked by golden retriever puppies or the Folgers one where the young man comes home and his sister says, “You’re the only gift I need.”
It used to bother me.  When a movie I was watching with the kids hit the happy/sad moment, I would casually wipe the tears before the kids could say, “Are you crying?”  It was a Sesame Street movie, but Big Bird was just so sad.  Don’t get me started on Old Yeller.
As I’ve gotten older I have embraced my tears of joy or sadness.  I rejoice when a book or movie moves me to tears.  In this day and age it is so easy to become hardened to emotions.    
Yesterday, I was curled up on the couch with a good book and my husband was watching golf... (no surprise there!)  Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a short commercial with a returning soldier surprising his son at school.  The tears started.   Three Kleenexes and several minutes of a perplexed husband’s quizzical look later I returned to my reading. 
I noted several things:
1.  My eyes and nose get a good cleaning.
2.  I somehow feel as if I have had a therapeutic moment, very Zen, cleansing if you will.
3. The smile after can bring about a momentary change in an otherwise tedious day.
So, bring on that new baby, emotional homecomings, heart tugging commercials and poignant family moments.  My Kleenex and I embrace you!!!!