It was a delight to receive an email from graphic design artist and photographer Cindy Dyer earlier this year. I had “liked” a post on her beautiful blog and she had visited mine in response. She liked enough of what she saw to invite me to include my essay, Seeds, in the Spring 2013 issue of her digital magazine, Celebrate Home. The issue is on newsstands now, so to speak, free to download and print issues can be purchased. Seeds can be found on page 95 but I encourage to check out all of the writing, imagery, and recipes to found in this lovely publication. And you can check out Cindy’s blogs via the following links: http://www.cindydyer.wordpress.com/ and http://www.gardenmuse.wordpress.com/
Posts Tagged ‘family’
Posted in Inspiration, Nature Notes, tagged Celebrity Home, childhood, Contributing Writer, family, fathers, home, imagery, magazines, nature, Photography, recipes, seeds on May 22, 2013 | 5 Comments »
I’m a lucky person. Adults tell me stories. Children like to give me art. Or sell it to me for good causes. I don’t only accept the art to make the child feel good. I accept the art because it is unpretentious and celebrates a freedom of expression. The child artists in this post are between the ages of three and ten years old, live in different parts of the country and do not know each other. They are different ethnicities. Some are related by blood, and others I’ve come to know through friends. I encourage them to send (or sell) me more images. Maybe one day they’ll send me their words.
I have learned that my brother and I have been independently dreaming of front porches. We live in homes now that have porches of a sort but not the porch of our childhood. Each of us is feeling that call that comes at this time of year to make ready the porch. Paint and put out the chairs. Hope the maple tree next door will provide enough shade. Try to grow some potted plants. And so on. In honor of those memories, I share this link to an essay I wrote not long after moving up north from down south: Sitting on the Front Porch.
By the way, when I wrote this essay, my brother still lived in the house. He now rents it to an older lady who likes to grow tomato plants in all available space including along the front porch. And the elderly lady who appears near the end of the essay is still alive. I visited her during a trip back to Virginia. She was very welcoming from her front porch and even took us inside to sit for a bit where her children had to remind her at some point, “Mama, you are 99 not 89.” Her response was “Is that right?” And so it goes.
Posted in Branches, Inspiration, Nature Notes, tagged Arnold Arboretum, beauty, compassion, family, Inspiration, landscape, love, nature, Photography, random thoughts, storytelling on May 6, 2013 | 3 Comments »
… inspired in part by reading Tattoos on the Heart The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle. An excellent read that highlights the power of compassion, the strength found in families (however family is defined) and the impact of telling someone “you matter in this world.” The book is composed of nonfiction stories. I suppose that’s why stories keep bubbling up in my mind.
My brother remembers it as the “rumble in the jungle.” I remember it as the school bus ride from Hades. The short of it is that I was in the 8th grade and he was in the 6th grade. I don’t remember how the message was communicated but somehow during the school day I was told that he was going to get jumped on the bus ride home that afternoon. And he was. And then he remembers me saying, “Get your hands off my brother.” Luckily our older brother had taught us how to make fists ’cause there were plenty of them flying. Eventually the school bus made it back to school, the older boys were suspended, and my brother remembers that no one ever tried touching him again. I remember the principal saying to me, “Cynthia, what were you thinking? How could you get yourself into a fight?” I didn’t reply but the answer was easy. I wasn’t thinking. There was no thought at all involved. No one was messing with my brother but me. Family ties, right?
But what tied my aunt to the girls who wanted to mess with her granddaughter? There was an incident where my aunt had to sit on her brownstone stoop to bar entry to this gang of girls. As I wrote in an earlier post, she said to them, “I do not know why you did what you did to my grandchild. I do not care what you say now, that you want to play and not fight. You shall not enter this house without removing me first.” The girls looked at her, how frail she was. My aunt returned the look and shook her head. “I love my grandchild, do you hear? I love that child and,” she added without hesitation and with great sincerity, “I love you too.” The girls, all of them, walked away without further word. My aunt did not know those girls and yet she did and does still love them. Why?
Other random thoughts flutter through my head like butterflies (in shades of gold and gray and a bit of blue). But I must stop and get up from this computer and head out into a sunny day. Where ever you are in the world, I hope you are having a good Monday.
Reading Emily Toth’s The Public Library Was My Bookstore just reinforced for me that there is no greater public institution than the public library. As a child in Lynchburg, Virgnia, the public library was one of the few places my mother would allow my younger brother and I to walk by ourselves. When we were older, and our young niece and nephew would visit for the summer, we would literally carry them piggyback to the library to keep them entertained. My nephew who is now 30 with a child of his own still remembers those rides. Once I moved to the Boston area, one of my homes away from home quickly became the Boston Public Library.
If you are ever in Boston, please visit the main branch located on Boylston Street in Copley Square. It was the country’s first public library and remains one of its most important. It is an expansive structure that has evolved over time. In the “old part” you will find some of the most beautiful and unique art of John Singer Sargent. In the “new part” you will find the books and there amidst the shelves and sitting at the tables you will find the mix of Boston’s humanity – young mothers with children, high school students studying (kind of), college students researching, business people escaping the office for a bit, the homeless resting, people learning English with tutors, tourists snapping photos (without flash), and everything and everyone in between. It is an experience.
This is why I like having family fact checkers. After a friend recently gave me a grapefruit, I simply remembered that my mother used to love that fruit. When I called my brother, he was able to add, “Yep. That’s right. She used to gum ‘em.”
You see she had false teeth that she only wore for school meetings or doctor visits. At home there was no need for pretense. Gum the fruit, she may have, but she also had lovely serrated spoons made special for scooping out grapefruit pulp. According to my brother, the whole family ate the sour fruit and with lots and lots of sugar. He said that he and I shared a single fruit. When most of the pulp was gone, we would try to squeeze the last remnants of juice into a glass.
“So we shared?” I said with a smile. He agreed, and then added, “Unless you made me mad. Then I’d put dogfood in the glass.” It’s those little details …
Posted in Inspiration, Nature Notes, tagged aurora, colors, family, gifts, imagination, Inspiration, Joan Feynman, light, nature, Photography, plasma, Richard Feynman, science on February 28, 2013 | 5 Comments »
I do not know if I will ever see an actual aurora in the sky. But as I downloaded these images from my camera, that is what I thought of.
The strands of light were produced by a little USB plasma ball. An office gift, Steve plugged it in one night to delight a young child, but turns out I was the one delighted by the light display.
I’m sure there are much clearer pictures I can take over time but I kind of like these dreamy shots. They stir my imagination. And they remind me of the words of Joan Feynman, thanking her brother for giving her the aurora. Hear her for yourself via this short Youtube video.
a gold butterfly on cellophane sent via post by my cousin
for my paper work projects
Once upon a time, I sat in my father’s arm chair while my parents sat side by side on the neighboring couch. I’m not sure how this seating arrangement happened. I do remember that in the big chair I was loudly sharing my knowledge of the world. With each proclamation my parents just nodded or said, “Mmmhmm.” So I felt completely affirmed in my beliefs, right? But then at some point in the conversation, they denied my request to do something. I stood up with all the wrath and righteousness of a fifteen-year old and said, “You can say that now since you think I’m a baby, but when I’m 99-years old …” My mom interjected, “When you are 99-years old, you will still be our baby.”
That story keeps coming to mind as I show pictures of my brother Keith to friends. They are used to my stories of a little boy who planted a seed in a cup. Or stories of the little boy I used to send to collect dandelions in our empty Easter baskets. When they see pictures of the small boy now a man who towers over most people, and of the child now a father, they always exclaim, “I thought you said he was little?” I just shrug and say, “He is little. He’ll always be my little brother.”
I have been trying to photograph a vase of baby’s breath for quite a while now. The stems were part of a larger bouquet, just filler for the fancier flowers. But as those flowers passed away, the baby’s breath remained, tall and strong though with a certain fragility.
This morning as I sat at the kitchen table thinking about the chaos in many a friend and family member’s life right now, people who are bearing the weight of so much sadness, my eyes kept falling upon the vase of baby’s breath. The light from that same sun that struck the green sage mentioned in an earlier post now fell upon fine white petals.
Against the backdrop of a window still covered in frost, the petals reminded me of fresh fallen snow with the dazzle of glistening flakes and the accompanying quiet that descends upon the land. In those moments, I always think of snow as a beautiful thing.
I once wrote a poem about white being the color of sadness. When I wrote those words years ago, that feeling was true. Today I feel differently. I don’t know what color sadness is for me today, but I know it is not white.