Monday, January 21, 2019


When I had picked up Snowdrop at school on Friday, I told her she had before her a three day weekend.
There's no school on Monday, I said.
I know, she replied. Martin Luther King!
Surprised to hear her on this, I asked what she had learned at school about this forthcoming Martin Luther King Jr Day.
She piped up without hesitation -- banks are closed!

Perhaps this was volunteered by one of the kids in class. I don't know that Snowdrop fully knows what a bank is. In any case, I pressed on and did learn that my explanation of the man pretty much did match what she had learned about him in school. I added one additional fact and it turned out to be as significant as all the rest, because yesterday, at the dinner table, she turned to my daughter and said:
Mommy, did you know that Gaga was actually alive when Martin Luther King lived??

Ed and I wake up late today. We'd been working with software snafus in the wee hours of the night, so sprinting out of bed at daybreak would have been painful. Thank goodness that this isn't our usual busy Monday. Not only are we tired, but, too, it's really cold. -11F (-24C) at dawn. These are the Wisconsin winter days where you want to say "thank you" to your furnace every time it comes on to heat your comfy living space.

The cheepers huddle, Stop Sign catches bits of sunshine to keep herself warm.

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Did I mention that at least this morning, we have streams of lovely sunshine?

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Breakfast, in the south facing front room.

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In the afternoon, the kids and their mom come over for a visit. I'm trying out my new camera and liking it quite a lot. It hasn't the price tag nor the bulk of an SLR and importantly, it does a pretty good job at tracking a moving subject even in lower light situations. In other words, it is a much improved small-ish camera over the Sony I had "loved" for so many years. Ed says -- it's not small, it's kind of large. He's right, it's bigger than my (currently malfunctioning) Sony but it is still a compact little thing in my eyes. So far, I am a fan. May it be my friend for a long long time!

(Snowdrop wants to perform fairy magic...)

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(And Sparrow? Not unhappy!)

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(Oh, that young child's dance! So full of heart!)

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Happiness is...

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... a pile of Sophie and Mercy books!

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When the farmhouse grows quiet, I return to my camera work. I've read that quite a few people leave their beloved brands (Nikon, Cannon, in my case  -- Sony) to take on Fuji and for most of us, it's a huge shift. Fuji does things just that much differently. Not understanding the reasons behind the madness is foolish. Why spend precious (retirement!) resources on something you don't fully know how to use?

So I read. And in the quiet of the winter evening, I take small breaks and pauses and I remind myself about why pictures matter. Why stories, told visually or with the help of words are important.

I don't often read poetry, but  I do have a favorite writer - someone whose poems are as sublime as the best photo you'll ever see of a landscape on a cold winter's day.  Mary Oliver. She died last week and an Ocean friend sent me the lines of one of her poems that I'll reprint here for you. That, followed by a poem about, well, the moon. Can you see how one theme weaves its way into the next? That's life, no? So much that falters, so many punches. And still, if we can find it in ourselves to look out at that moon, at the flowers that bend their faces to her light, well, then maybe we can pause, take a deep breath, eek out a smile and share it with those we love... 

by Mary Oliver

I am in love with Ocean
lifting her thousands of white hats
in the chop of the storm,
or lying smooth and blue, the
loveliest bed in the world.
In the personal life, there is
always grief more than enough,
a heart-load for each of us
on the dusty road. I suppose
there is a reason for this, so I will be
patient, acquiescent. But I will live
nowhere except here, by Ocean, trusting
equally in all the blast and welcome
of her sorrowless, salt self.

by Mary Oliver
What is the good life now? Why,
look here, consider
the moon’s white crescent
rounding, slowly, over the half month to still another
perfect circle —
the shining eye
that lightens the hills,
that lays down the shadows
of the branches of the trees,
the summons the flowers
to open their sleepy faces and look up
into the heavens.
I used to hurry everywhere,
and leaped over the running creaks.
There wasn’t
time enough for all the wonderful things
I could think of to do
in a single day.  Patience
comes to the bones
before it takes root in the heart
as another good idea.
I say this
as I stand in the woods
and study the patterns
of the moon shadows,
or stroll down into the waters
that now, late summer, have also
caught the fever, and hardly move
from one eternity to another.

Mary Oliver was beloved by everyone except those who took pride in criticizing her uncomplicated verse. Those critics, they missed the point, didn't they? In simplicity lie the more complicated and profoundly beautiful truths. At least, that is my belief.