Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dreams of the Heart

Today we went to "the country." We have a little land where my grandparents' lived. Their house is still there, but it has fallen into serious disrepair over the years (Hurricane Rita dropped a huge oak tree on the porch and since no one lived in the house the oak tree was never completely removed). We also have a small house we moved onto the property back in the late seventies, when we were both working and before we had children.

Then we moved off to Houston and didn't use the house very much. My parents still went up there occasionally but when my grandmother died, they quit going so much to spend the night and the house fell into disuse. We moved back to Louisiana in the early nineties and subsequently went through a lot of emotional turmoil and tight finances and the house sunk further into disrepair.

My husband and I would talk and dream about fixing it up again and using it as a weekend retreat. Sometimes we would talk about selling it and my heart always got a little sad when we talked that way. We've talked some more and we are going to try to get some things done around the house and get it fixed up so we can use it again. It's a bit scary to think about because it will be a stretch financially and it will take both of us being committed to the idea to get it all done.

We went today to talk to my uncle about doing some of the repairs. He is a carpenter and can do the things we can not do.
We also visited with one of his sons today who invited us to walk the path through the woods to his house to see his pigs. He has chickens too. :)

It's a different world back in those woods and things move at a different pace. I don't know that I'd like living there full time but I am looking forward to being able to go there on the weekends again. I hope it all works out. I hope I can be satisfied if it does not work out. Sometimes I fear I hang too fiercely onto what we once had there.

We walked the land a little bit today too, once we got through admiring the pigs and visiting. Everything near my grandparents' house is so grown up. We walked through briars and small bushes and trees to go all around the house and back to the building that used to be the tractor shed and my grandmother's chicken coop.
This is the window to the back bedroom at my grandparents' house. There were two double beds back here and before we bought and moved "the little house" in, this is where we'd sleep when we came. I have so many happy memories of being here when I was young and also as a young married adult.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


The question is: 
 "What do you do to lighten up? How do you let go of the stressors of your day? Open the wine? Turn up the tunes? Get it down on the yoga mat? Start a new book? Bubble-bath? Run-bike-hike-walk?"
(My contribution to Gallery 10 of the 52 Photos Project)

Many times I go to a quiet place with my camera.
Other times, I sit at the computer and play with the photos I've taken.
Sometimes I get a fresh pedicure (and then sit and admire my pretty pink toes)!
Sometimes I use my phone camera to snap a picture of the freshly washed apple I am about to consume for lunch along with the reflection of my feet in the restroom mirror!
I've been recently surprised to find how much I enjoy sitting quietly at my desk while eating a relatively healthy lunch (summer is so very quiet, this would probably not work so well during the fall and spring semesters).

Saturday, June 23, 2012

New Experiences in Prayer, a Boardwalk in the Marsh, and Wild Hisbicus

My husband and I spent the day at a Catholic Retreat Center, learning about the process of Lectio Divina. It was an interesting day. Although I am not Catholic I often avail myself of some of their spiritual practices and enjoy reading the works of some of their writers. 
The retreat center has a boardwalk that goes out into the marsh and ends on the banks of the Calcasieu River. I'd been wanting to get back here to walk and take pictures. When I am outside in a pretty place like this it is a meditative experience for me. It's really a pretty walk, even in the June heat. I heard lots of things, frogs, crickets, even alligators making that clicking sound they make. I tried to spot one but they are too well hidden in all the grass.
The marsh is so lovely but I find it hard to convey that loveliness in a photograph. Everything is pretty much green at this time of year, other than the bark of the trees, the moss and the red flowers. I think they are probably some sort of wild hibiscus.
I didn't stay as long as I would have liked, I had pressing business on the home front I had to get back to. But I stayed long enough to get several nice "flower portraits."
This one has an odd filter on top of it. "Smudgestick," I believe it is called.
I call this one "failure to unfold."

We came home for a little while then left out again to attend a Saturday night service at a church we've been visiting. The music is very loud but the preaching is good. I left my Bible and my notebook in the restroom after the service. :(

It's been a long day. I am filled. And exhausted. In a good way.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summertime Colors

The first thing I thought of for summertime colors was flower photos. Then I remembered this photo of water pumps and their bright colors and sparkling water.

This one makes me giggle. The duck looks so expressive to me, almost like she is ready to tell the water pump a thing or two!

And below is a grunged up sunny yellow flower.

Suddenly I want to redo this one and say "Live in the place where you stand. Or move on." Oh yes, I want to redo this one (but I'm probably not going to be moving on in any area of my life anytime soon).

*Edited to add the new "thang" with added words. . .

(My contribution to the 52 Photos Project. Click the button to see other summertime colors photos, or to join the in with the project.)
52 Photos Project

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day

He was a boy, and then a man, but never a father. There were times when he talked of days when he might have a wife and a family but he never got there. I don't often print up and frame my work. I had an 8x10 of this one printed and now have it framed. I'm still thinking about the composition, about whether I want to go back and shoot this shot up again, but with both the background and the boots clear and focused. I don't know.  I'm still thinking about a lot of things. Sometimes too many things, I think.

Anyway, I have loving parents so Mother's Day and Father's Day are easy and right for me as a daughter. But as a parent, these holidays are now somewhat difficult because of the missing piece of our hearts. Our home is really quiet this weekend.

Here is another shot where the boots are blurred and the background is focused. Maybe there is some kind of wise metaphor for the process of grieving hidden in these two photographs. I don't know. I'm still thinking about a lot of things. Sometimes too many things, I think. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


This week's theme for 52 Photos Project is "Shadows." I was going to get out and take a new photo incorporating the theme but it rained and I got busy and tomorrow is Friday. :) I remembered this self-portrait I took in 2006 when we were on a cruise in the Caribbean, where I am in one of my favorite places--the shadows!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

These Boots Won't Walk

I took a little alone time and went down to this open-air chapel that is surrounded by trees and water. There is always a nice breeze blowing and there is a fine-sounding wind chime hanging from the rafters. It is a peaceful place to be. There is a small bridge that crosses over the water.

I didn't actually go alone. I brought my son's first and last pair of boots with me. The little boots were up high on the closet shelf. My husband had to get them for me. Holding them again brought back so many memories for both of us.
I wanted to get a photograph of them on the bridge with it looking like the boots were headed off the bridge into eternity. For a number of reasons, things didn't quite work out that way but I got several shots that pleased me.

Then I brought them inside the chapel and set them up as if someone were in them sitting on the pew. You can see the pond and the trees beyond the pew. It is all wide open on four sides. It is a beautiful and simple little building.

Later I set them up at one of the edges of the chapel, looking out toward another side of the lake. I took several other photos of the boots that were okay. I will certainly treasure them. I also took some of the view of the water and of the building. Maybe those will show up on another day.

I spent time just sitting, listening to the chimes and feeling the breeze blow across my face. I miss my boy something fierce. I carry that always inside me.

Sometimes people don't know, especially if I keep smiling and don't say anything. It's one of my pet peeves, something I try always to keep in mind as I deal with people during the day.

Try to always be aware that the person you are dealing with might have greater pains and problems than what they are showing on their face.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Meeting SpookyRach

One of the reasons I keep writing here is because it is an outlet for me, a way to put down some of my stories and thoughts and observations. It’s not so much a journal as is my written journal (and for some reason, I have not written there so much since my son died) but it is a repository of the stories that are uniquely mine (and yet, I find, are also shared by many others). I realized this as I reread the whole blog over several days while putting categorical “labels” on most of the posts. I knew then that if nobody else ever read what is written here, or commented on it, the blog would still hold value for me as a sort of "memory box," evidence of a life; my life.

But the other reason I continue to write here is because I seek connections with others who are creative, or are hurting, or who value growth in whatever form that takes for them.  And, amazingly enough, I have made a few! One of the things on my “Unofficial Bucket List” is to meet some (several, as many as I can?) of my blogging friends in real life. 

This past Tuesday, June 5, 2012, that is exactly what I did! I met SpookyRach! In the cemetery! We took pictures! It was so much fun! I brought along a real life friend who had also hit it off with Rachel and really, we had a blast.

In real life, I don't do well at meeting new people (although in so many ways, Rach is not new to me). I am very quiet, and it takes me a while to warm up to people and start talking. I was not worried, but very curious about how it would go. What if we had nothing to say to each other? What if we didn’t hit it off at all? What if she really was an axe murderer? Silly me! I brought along a real life friend who had also hit it off with Rachel online and really, we had a blast.

We stayed in the cemetery (actually, it was SEVEN cemeteries in one area) for quite a while taking pictures and talking and getting extremely hot. It was funny how quickly we went from "just a little awkward” to settling into a groove and feeling like we had all seen each other just last week at some other cemetery. SpookyRach and my friend Denise are quite entertaining in the cemetery. We left around one, looking for lunch, where we met her family. They are just as delightful and personable as Rachel is. 

I’ve been blogging since 2004 and I’ve finally had a blogger meet-up! I hope eventually to get to have many more. 

Rach, it was so much fun to finally meet you, and getting to meet your precious family was lagniappe (I won’t tell anyone about the hugging, won’t mention anything about your sweet and friendly demeanor….).
(So many of the statues in these cemeteries have been damaged over the years by various storms. This poor woman had no thumbs (wish I'd look around to see if I could have found either of them laying on the ground-that would have been a cool, and most appropriate!, memento of the trip!) and both her hands were wired together. I put them in black and white here, and may eventually do some sort of "thang" with them. I'll probably try to post more photos here soon. I have another couple of blog posts brewing in my head and want to devote more of my time to blogging. If you are interested, I have the deal set up at the top right column where you can sign up to receive new posts by email...)

Friday, June 08, 2012

Six Months

Today made six months with my son gone. I had a difficult day, and not all because of this anniversary.

No one really knew. Life goes on. Today someone forgot that six months ago, I lost a son. Today people had a splendid day for their family. Today people complained about trivial things. All the while unaware of this remaining hole in my heart. 

I finally found a couple of quiet places in the day and told a few people. We talked and commiserated and shed a tear or two. I said something on Facebook about it and several people offered thoughts and prayers and love.

Just do me a favor and be kind and gentle to all you meet, for we never know what pain and burdens others are carrying and hiding behind smiling faces.

Today, I was the one smiling while suffering great pain. 

 (Pictures taken at a cemetery in Galveston. More on that story in another post.)

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Bare Naked Trees

I don't often feel like I get black and white photos right. I played with these a while. I don't particularly like the top one but I do love the moodiness of the bare naked tree below. :) It almost looks like it would reach down and grab you.

52 Photos Project

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Wherein She Talks to Herself...

Fear inhibits creativity, especially the fear of being judged. But personal conviction is the great vanquisher of fear. When I feel afraid of potential criticism, or wounded when it comes, I ask myself: Do you really believe in what you said or wrote – in the thing that’s bringing criticism? And if I do believe it, I can withstand anything. Not that criticism doesn’t sting – sometimes I feel punched in the stomach momentarily. But the moment does pass. Susan Cain (as seen on Brene`Brown's blog)
This is a quote from Susan Cain, who wrote Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking. Her quote is something I need to remember not only with my creative endeavors, but with my life as well. Also, I took the introvert test and aced it. I think I might need to read the book!

I watched the TED talk she did about her book. Toward the end of her speech she mentioned the concept of the things we carry in our suitcases. She said this to the introverts:
"But introverts, you being you, you probably have the impulse to guard very carefully what's inside your own suitcase. And that's okay. But occasionally, just occasionally, I hope you will open up your suitcases for other people to see, because the world needs you and it needs the things you carry."
Lately there have been times when I have wondered to myself, "Why the heck am I writing this blog? What is the purpose behind it all?" As an introvert I am extremely guarded about the contents of my suitcase. Recent experiences in my life have caused and helped me to be more open about what is in my suitcase. I think that is a good thing for me. This blog is another place for me to learn how to share some of the things I carry.

Maybe eventually, with practice, I will get back to being able to share more of the things I carry with people in my face to face life. There are things that have made me more cautious than I need to be in this area, one of them being fear of being judged.

I know that the "message" I have been receiving lately, from several sources is that fear is debilitating and risks are sometimes necessary in life.

It seems I've gotten a little too comfortable being here:

But still, having said that, I feel to compelled to remind everyone (myself mostly) of the storms I have weathered. I'm still not ready to go diving into the deep end. I am only thinking about dipping my pretty pink toes into the shallow section of the creek!