connections, coping, courage, death, faith, family, grief, healing, saying goodbye

My sister…

She was a kind and generous soul. She went the extra mile for her friends and family. Her daughter and grandchildren were the loves of her life. She is gone now, quite unexpectedly, despite a long history of health issues. She was my sister. I was in NH visiting when it happened, so I was grateful to be able to be with my niece and her family as this new reality set in. I’m back home now and settling back into my routines isn’t coming easily. It seems I just needed to say a simple goodbye to a sweet soul who asked little and gave much. She is at peace now…

'scene' along the way, a second look, death, finding my way, grief, growing old, history, life goes on, memories, moments, perseverance, photography

Rose Hill…

Not every trip out to take photos is the uplifting sort of trip that warms my heart. Yesterday I went out to explore a cemetery that I’d seen a while back when the GPS had routed me from one destination to another. I was at a traffic light and noticed a cemetery with a big water feature, and it seemed like a spot that would have an east facing view for the sunrise. I made a mental note of it, and while I thought of looking for it again from time to time I never did, until yesterday. It was easy enough to figure out where it was when I looked at Maps, a big green oasis, and I saw the name Rose Hill. The GPS had me pass up my destination and do a u turn to come back to it, and then it said to take a right, even though I saw the pretty lawns and water of a beautiful cemetery to the left. I took the right, and entered a sad little cemetery with lots of sand and weeds and no green lawns or water feature. It was hard to figure out where I could park the car, I was afraid I’d drive over a grave. I got out and walked a bit and took some pictures, but my heart wasn’t in it. I felt like an intruder. While it first seemed like a sad little place, it wasn’t forgotten by any means. Pops of color were everywhere. Graves were being visited, people were being remembered. That I wanted to come to this place for my photo ops felt very wrong. The wind was out of my sails, I headed home.

Yes, I did stop at the neighboring Cycadia Cemetery, but that feeling of being an intruder stayed with me. I took a couple of pictures and left. It just wasn’t the day for it I guess…

a second look, backyard visitors, birds, blessings, coping, Cranes, facing facts, finding my way, Florida wildlife, grief, healing, life goes on, loneliness, memories, nature, old dogs new tricks, perseverance, photography

A crane story…

These cranes are the entire reason that I started writing this blog. These pictures are from nearly 4 years ago when my camera was new to me and they can’t be improved now, they are what they are. That was the February that two sandhill crane chicks hatched right on the island in my little pond in the back yard. I watched them hatch, I watched them leave with their parents every morning, and I watched them return to the pond in the late afternoon. I saw them as one lady-like chick who stayed close to her mother, and one adventurous chick who was off on his own just a bit. Several times I saw only one chick with it’s parents and I waited to see that second chick appear. Just as I would give up hope, thinking he had gotten a little too adventurous, he would appear out of the grasses, much to my relief. He was my favorite, even though it made me feel a little guilty to realize that I felt that way. Mothers aren’t supposed to play favorites.

Every story needs some drama, and theirs certainly had that. One afternoon I watched in horror as my favorite colt, as they are known as they grow, seemed to be dragging a wing. Again he was off by himself a little way from the family, and even more horrifying was that the parents seemed to be driving him away. I was heartbroken to see him leave the pond alone, trudging up the hill, dragging that wing. But a few minutes later the rest of the family followed, a little way behind but up the hill in the same direction that he had gone. I felt so helpless to be watching this and not able to do anything about it.

So you can imagine how I worried all day at work the next day, would they return the next evening, and would there be three or four in the family? When I saw them return as a family of three I was broken hearted, and mad too. I was upset enough that I told myself that I wouldn’t take pictures that day, not of just the three of them. But then they started to dance and I couldn’t help myself, I took pictures.

That isn’t the end of the story, I’m happy to say. Several days later I saw all four of them on a lawn in the neighborhood. The wounded colt was laying down, the rest of the family nearby. I called a rescue facility and was told that if they were with him then they were taking care of him, and that was best. I seldom saw them come back to the nest in the backyard after that, not to spend the night at least, but the last time I did see them out there I saw my wounded colt spread his wings and stretch. I choose to believe that he healed, and that he would be okay. It was about that time that I happened to take a photography class on how to start a blog, something I had given no thought to before, but we left the class with the bones of a blog in our computers, and I wanted to tell their story. I had no idea that four years later I’d still be writing, that I’d have made new friends through photography, or that I’d be so okay with the twists and turns my life has taken in the last six years. But I’m grateful.

a second look, coping, facing facts, family, finding my way, grief, healing, life goes on, memories, perseverance, photography, simple things

Charley Barley…

Charley was raised by his mother and grandmother to be a dentist, in the footsteps of his grandfather and his great-grandfather. He was to be a dentist as they both were, there would be no discussion, so it was lucky that he had the personality and dexterity for the job. He was born on the same date as Prince Charles, 11-14-48, but that’s not who he was named after, even though I’m pretty sure that his mother identified fairly closely with the Queen. No, he was named for his grandfather, Charles Edward Wingo, and, when questioned, his mother insisted that she never realized that he would probably be called Charley Barley.

A pet peeve of his was that dentists were commonly portrayed as bumbling idiots on TV sit-coms, I heard more than a few tirades about that over the years. But he was quite gracious when patients came into the office for their appointment one day and they had a gift for him, an Avon book, the title of which was Today’s the Day! They couldn’t wait to tell him that the main character in the book was a little piece of barley named, you guessed it, Charley Barley. Yup, roly-poly little Charley Barley blew into the book on a puff of wind, and, spoiler alert, at the end of the book he rides another puff of wind on to win the race. He appreciated the thought, even if the character wasn’t exactly a big improvement over how he thought dentists were portrayed in general. Still, there was a definite resemblance between them.

This all occurred many years ago of course, and many, many changes have taken place in my life since then. If I had been presented with the dilemma of downsizing from the house we lived in for 30 years in one fell swoop I would have agonized over what to keep and what to get rid of much more than I did. But there were three moves which have led me here to my current little spot, and each move required downsizing my possessions yet again. And yet somehow this silly little book is still here with me, forgotten on a shelf for most of the time we had it. I’m not even sure I ever read the story before. So here I am, still sorting through ‘our’ stuff with an eye to paring down some more, but for now this little gem is going back on the shelf, I’ll decide it’s fate another day…

a second look, dogs, finding my way, grief, healing, life goes on, loneliness, memories, perseverance, pets, photography, simple things, solitude

It’s not about the bees…

It’s not about the flowers either.  It’s about the dogs.  About how living alone, but with dogs, isn’t really living alone alone at all.  You talk to them, or I did anyhow.  And because of them you go out for a walk and find things like a cactus covered in gorgeous white flowers.  And you wonder how it is that you only just noticed them now that you are interested in photography, because you also walked the same route with the dogs for years before that was true.  Walking them also led to fun exchanges with people on the street, like the guy in the convertible who stopped to say, “I didn’t think you were allowed to have livestock in Spring Hill.”  He was referring to the fact that these dogs weren’t the daintiest of God’s creatures, all 250 pounds of them.  And then there’s the breathing.  They were out of the house for a month after my husband died, my son having taken them over while Charley was in the hospital.  I kept the house dark and quiet during that time.  It wasn’t a choice, I needed the solitude.  I don’t know how long that would have lasted if not for the dogs.  When I did bring them home to my quiet house I found myself listening to them breathe.  It was as if the house had come back to life, the house was breathing, and maybe I also took a breath.

I probably wasn’t trying to hold two leashes while I took these pictures with my iPhone 7+.  I used to drop the leashes and step on them if I could, but if not I’d let them go because they waited patiently for me to finish.  Nope, I wasn’t ever alone when they were part of my life.  I miss them.

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a second look, changing times, childhood, connections, coping, courage, death, faith, family, finding my way, friends, grief, growing old, healing, home, memories, perseverance, photography

Connections…

An uncle came to stay with me once, I’m not even going to try to think of how long ago that was.  He was an academic all his life, a college guidance department head, which is probably why he phrased it as wanting to see my ‘nest’.  That that thought came to mind seems like a natural progression during this nesting season here in Florida, when birds are on my mind a lot of the time.  And somehow that phrase further brought to mind something my closest friend’s husband said to me once after visiting with them.  While I had always felt the closeness between this friend and myself, communication was not so easy in the days when we both had little kids, businesses to run, and lived 3000 miles apart.  So I invited myself to visit them after many years, and when he drove me to the airport to leave he said that we were ‘two peas in a pod’, and that it was a crying shame that we hadn’t been able to be part of each other’s daily lives all along.  On my way to see them on that visit I had said to myself that knowing myself I ought to be nervous, after all I was going to see people that I honestly didn’t know, but I wasn’t at all worried.  And from that first moment that I stepped back into my friend’s life, and home, I felt completely at ease.  More than that though, I felt like myself.  My true self, the ‘real’ me.  Silly, huh?  Who’s life was I leading all those years, living all over the country and raising my kids with only occasional visits to the place I continued to think of as home?  Those were happy years that I treasure, but there was a little part of me that felt alone.  No, apart.  Disconnected.  But not any more, not since I’ve made connections to the past, connections that are mine alone.  Little children that we once were, and who have lived such different lives, are now knowing and cherishing each other in this last part of life.  How we got here hardly matters, it’s just so wonderful to be here.

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