I didn’t drive for 11 days straight. That has to be a record for me. For 11 days I was surrounded, literally, by family, and friends close enough to be family. I was hardly ever alone, and for the last few years I have been telling myself that being alone is just the greatest thing. No witnesses is what I told myself was the best part, for my own silliness. And for the most part that’s still true. But it’s so quiet in here now that the coffee pot has finished its morning duties. The traffic noises haven’t begun. It’s too quiet. Turning on the TV might provide noise, if noise is all I wanted to hear. This has been my home for a year now, but I’ve been traveling for half that time at least. And now I’m here, surrounded by all my things. Sentimental reminders of other times, of the people I have cared about my whole life. But sitting in the dark and quiet I realize that I can’t hear the sound of breathing. Of life. That’s the sound that’s missing…
Something caught my eye and I looked up to see a brilliant sunset going on just outside the window. It caught me by surprise, it seemed too early in the day for the sunset, I thought, and yet there it was. And as quickly as I noticed and hurried to take a picture, it was gone. Used up, faded, and forgotten, aside from photos.
Much as I found myself feeling during my recent visit with my daughter and grandchildren. Oh it was an enjoyable time, there were no problems. Almost anyhow. All was fun and games the whole visit, until I happened to glance into a mirror and found my mother looking back at me. I never think of my age, I pretty much feel as good as ever so it hasn’t demanded attention. But there it was. Undeniable. I’m old. I’m as my mother was during the last years she visited with us. I remember how distant it felt to me to notice the signs of aging etching themselves into my mother’s face. I saw that it was happening to her, but somehow I never considered that I would also age in the same way. There is a lot of life written on my face, now that I look at it. I earned the wrinkles and the gray hair. So while I notice the changes in myself, I will try to remember that each sunset seems to reach it’s most glorious just as it slips below the horizon. It’s a good thought, it’s a reason to keep going. So yes I’m old, but my light is still burning, and I don’t think it’s even close to burning itself out, not yet…
I doubt that any amount of editing would have been able to improve the quality of these photos. The movies they are taken from have been collecting dust for about 64 or so years. The person behind the camera had his/her own thumb featured prominently in some shots, and each stop to record only lasted a second or two. Trying to pause the film and take a picture with the phone at just the right moment was a challenge, and I would miss that split second opportunity time and time again.
But I hope you’ll indulge me this trip down memory lane because these pictures represent a favorite memory, and the only real vacation trip my family ever took. We drove in a caravan with several other families, and I remember it so fondly. I remember rafting in Ausable Chasm, seeing the colors of the rock walls rising up on each side of the river. I remember going to Fort Ticonderoga, and the ferry ride on Lake Champlain. But the memory I remember most is the pony ride at Frontier Town, and how mad as a hatter I was that they didn’t let me just ride that pony by myself. I was sure I knew all there was to know about horses. No, not only did they not let me just take off on my own, but they had my sister leading the pony. If a cowboy had been leading the horse I might have taken it better, or maybe not. I’m happy to say that it looked like I was having fun so I must have kept my annoyance to myself. Seeing a movie of exactly the memory I remember best was pretty amazing. What also stood out as I watched the movie was that I was amazed to see the actors galloping into town during the re-enactment of a bank robbery. The visitors were right there, milling around, and they just galloped those horses through the town. I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t fly these days! And apparently water boarding was a thing too.
I’ve talked quite a few times about how much I cherish the memories I have from exactly this age. From the neighborhood I lived in then, and the people who made a lasting impression enough on me that I never actually let them go. And I’ve been so lucky to reconnect with them and to have them in my life again. And now to actually see that little kid that I was., the me before I let the world beat me into submission, so to speak. I liked that me, I’m glad to have her back…Thanks for indulging me this trip down memory lane.
I bought this puzzle as a prop for a blog post. It was a while ago and I can’t remember what I called it or what my point actually was at the time. Something about life falling into place. Ha! I’m sure I was convinced at that moment that happily ever after was just around the corner. When will I learn that ‘ever after’ is an illusion and right this minute is about all you can count on?
I dumped the puzzle pieces out onto the table and took a picture, and then put them back into the box and forgot all about it. But while on a trip recently there was a puzzle out on the table and we all attempted to put it together, and failed, but it was fun. I used to buy a Christmas puzzle every year and we’d all work on it, I loved that family activity. Consequently I bought a table just for that purpose, one with sides that fold down, and it sat up against the wall ignored most of the year. Not any more though. That table is now my do-everything table. All sewing and crafts, plus it’s where I stick things that I can’t figure out what else to do with but also feel like it would be a sin to just throw them away. After they sit there long enough they do get tossed, but it’s like the left-overs in the refrigerator, I have to let them age a while before I can feel saintly about getting rid of them.
And so when I got home from that trip I got the irresistible urge to ‘do’ that puzzle, and even though I told myself that I shouldn’t, that I’d wind up mad at myself with a puzzle half-done and some other use for the table in mind, but I dumped it out anyhow. And sure enough, it has taken over my life ever since. This is exactly the reason I shouldn’t bake, because no matter how I tell myself I’ll put those cookies in the freezer for ‘company’, I eat them. I don’t buy candy, bread, and ice cream for exactly the same reason. I really should listen to that voice in my head once in a while, but I hardly ever do.
Then this long, cold, rainy/overcast, weekend arrived, and I was determined to get that puzzle over-with. So I could get my sewing machine out. And by last night I was convinced that the puzzle-maker had screwed up. I had several puzzle pieces that both belonged in the exact same spot, and there was supposed to be a skinny yellow window in one of the doors of the puzzle, and those pieces were simply not there. I was composing a scathing letter to Big Ben Puzzles in my head, and there may have been a cuss word or two spoken. Enter my uncle, who picked up the problem section of puzzle pieces and moved everything one space to the left, and like a miracle everything fell into place! From now on when I reach an impass in life, and am ready to tear my hair out, I hope I remember to move one space to the left and see how things look from there…
I brilliantly took a picture of the puzzle box, which was small and it was impossible to see the details of the puzzle on the image. Then I put the picture onto the computer screen and zoomed in and I could roll over the image and see the details. See the feature photo. And even that didn’t help. I’ll never know if I’d have figured it out on my own. This determination to do everything by myself isn’t always the best idea.
When I signed on to join the photo group for a trip to the Old Car Museum I didn’t have an agenda. I was just glad to have a different place to go for photos, plus I’ve spent enough time with members of the group that I knew I’d have fun. The agenda came later. I wanted to see a ’56 Chevy BelAir, even if I knew that I didn’t stand a chance of seeing one like the one I learned to drive on. That one was colorful. The roof was black and the body of the car was yellow. But that was before my father had a fender bender in it. Replacement front fenders and hood came from a junk yard, and they were green. Let’s just say that you saw that car coming. My father taught me to drive. He was a fireman and therefore was able to get a key to the huge fairgrounds in our town. With it’s roads and buildings it was a good place to practice your driving skills. One memorable day I took a corner a little fast and nearly clipped the corner of one of the buildings. My father breathed a sigh of relief and told me that he was going to tell me to watch out but in the moment he couldn’t remember my name!
It wasn’t temperamental, this car, you could start from a dead stop in any gear. I was driving my father to work one day and as we went over a bridge the hood popped up! You had to keep on your toes with that car. It wasn’t beautiful, or a status symbol, but for some silly reason I remember it fondly. Or maybe it was the time I spent with my father that makes me sentimental.
And no, search as I did I didn’t find a ’56 Chevy Bel Air. The closest I got was a ’57 (I think.) The tail light detail was rounded, softer, in the ’56. Maybe next time…
A favorite author of mine is William Least Heat Moon, and my favorite book of his is Blue Highways. What struck me when reading this book was his descriptions of the land and scenery as he drove the blue highways on the map, purposely avoiding the major roadways to better appreciate the country and the people who populate it. He was describing what he saw in his travels, but his descriptions showed me a connection to nature and the land that was so different from my experience. Was it his Indian heritage that connected him in that special way? I thought so.
I’m currently reading his River Horse, and have been for months. It’s in Kindle so I can resurrect it whenever I feel like it, and I’ve forgotten about it for weeks on end. In it he is attempting to cross the country by river, which, it turns out, is a much more complicated undertaking than I ever would have imagined. But just now I came across a passage that really spoke to me. He was quoting the famous Lakota holy man who says in Black Elk Speaks:
Everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything tries to be round. In the old days when we were a strong and happy people, all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation, and so long as the hoop was unbroken, the people flourished. The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop, and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The east gave us peace and light, the south gave warmth, the west gave rain, and north with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance.
I’m certainly not an Indian, and not a deep thinker, but those words struck me because I saw my own journey into the past as a completion of a circle. And I don’t think that having made the connections that I made on my trip has closed that circle in any way. The heart-warming whole that it created is still with me…