the lady of the lake

June 21, 2010

It was a very average sort of evening stroll, complete with “deep woods” bug spray and a dog dead-set on tramping through the muddiest “cricks” . . . but suddenly I practically clapped with giddy delight at the picture-perfect pose . . . Jenna’s combination of a walking stick plus deer-fly-combatting hat took on an ethereally lovely aura of a pastoral painting when combined with the pond she had ventured down to explore.  Sometimes it pays to have a camera as an extra limb :-)

There are people in the world who, I think, inspire creativity.  Some simply because of a muse-like nature.  Some because they are themselves so creative.  And some, like my friend Jenna, who contain within them such a unique combination of qualities that not only do other people end up inspired, but Nature herself seems to cooperate with oddly coincidental moments of delightful circumstance.

Tonight, for instance, is a case in point.  Jenna chatted happily, hopping from one topic to the next.  And over the course of the evening she periodically interrupted herself to point out to me, in an off-handed manner, perfectly magical moments . . . A huge black bear lumbering into the woods in front of us . . . A flock, making its way across a field, that consisted of a couple of grown up [harried, I imagined] geese, shuffling a brood of approximately 20 lively goslings . . . A spot through the woods [that I pass daily] where, if you look a bit more closely than usual, you see the most fairy-tale-like brook, complete with a series of perfect little waterfalls . . . One cannot help but wonder if the world would be a bit kinder of a place if it were populated by more Jenna-like folks :-)

bank on it

June 6, 2010

If one must lose a wallet, the bank is not the worst place to do so.  And yes, I’m afraid I can vouch for truth of this assertion . . .

So it was that a highly anticipated day of scheduled errand-running and lecture-attending became instead a day of highly uncomfortable waiting, phone calls, step-retracing, and re-calibrating.  All is well.  My wallet was found, thanks to an after-hours manager who met me there at the closed branch, made some phone calls, and discovered the finder of said wallet.  All my financial documents are now in a vault, awaiting my pick-up on Monday.

And I am realizing, yet again, the futility of relying upon illusions of normalcy and control.   Because when it came down to it, the day’s unexpected moments were far better than any planned “perfection” I could have orchestrated: a last-minute boat ride invitation; the acceptance of help from those with more power than I; a sunset walk . . . and a boldness in photo-taking with my walking companion.  I was so smitten by the evening light that I opted to point towards the light.  And her being as lovely of a subject as she is, I think it turned out just fine :-)

in the intangible

June 5, 2010

I think there are days when our task in life is to just sit tight with discomfort.  To be “in the waiting” without being able to cling to any tangible semblance of needed-ness . . . and for those of us prone to people-pleasing, this is no small task.

So today I plodded my way through a day of work that felt aimless, free moments that felt unproductive, and efforts at helping that felt helpless: a day at the close of which I wonder if anything that I did really did anybody any good . . .

But all is well.  And tonight, driving home as the sun was setting, I glimpsed to black bear cubs cavorting in the field.  I leapt at the prospect of a photo, grabbing for my camera.  When they dashed off into the distance before I could capture them, I even drove back, parked the car, and walked back and forth along the road for awhile, silently praying for their return.  They did not return and now I wonder if it is better that they did not–for it completes the day’s lesson for me: that glimpse was meant to be sufficient.  It was a snippet of creation that I could hold in my memory even if I have nothing tangible to show for it.

I suspect that it is, after all, in the in-tanglibles that the greatest living of life happens . . .

Today is Nonfiction Monday in Children’s Literature circles.  So I decided to go back a few years and pull out a review I wrote when in graduate school, of one of the Caldecott Winners . . . It remains one of my favorites, so here it is :-)

Hush!, by Mingfong Ho/ illustrated by Holly Meade

Having recently discovered my love for Holly Meade’s artwork, I decided to indulge in a study of her illustrated works.  First, I looked more closely at her styling in the book I had already chosen for my Caldecott study [see below].

In this book, I did not initially recognize the medium.  This is due in part to the effect that the process of printing has upon the original work of art.  It is also, however, due to my own artistic ignorance.  While I have dabbled in art, and studied it some, my knowledge is certainly not extensive concerning different types of media, never mind how to pinpoint different types.

And so, I looked to the expert in question herself: Holly Meade.  As it turns out, the artist of this book that had chosen me so fiercely also wrote about her artwork in the 1998 “Picture Books” issue of the Horn Book.  In this article she explains why collage is her preferred medium for illustrating picture books.  Knowing this, a further examination of the pages of Hush! revealed clear signs that collage was indeed the medium of this particular book.  For instance, I noticed the fuzzy edges [torn paper] of the bits of mud splaying out from the pig’s mud puddle.  I also noticed that these bits were next to smooth lines surrounding other figures, clearly indicating the mixture of materials that Meade had carefully placed together.

The important part of all this examination, of course, is not the details of the different media, but the entirety of its effect on the viewer.  What it tells me is that a great amount of thought and effort has been put into each minutiae of each page, and I, for one, am thankful.  Because what I get is the privilege of that unparalleled phenomenon we know as the experience of beauty.

just another loon

May 30, 2010

As I dragged the kayak out onto the water this afternoon, I wondered if those who teased me were right: I was told I would end up beached, with the waters as choppy as they were.  But I just couldn’t resist the serendipitous combination of a few hours of free time + the fact that I had not yet been on the lake this year [only “in”].

So while out I chuckled at this feathered companion as she dove in and out in the waves; each time she disappeared under the surface I would scan the area, hoping to catch her as she emerged.  I also could not help but take comfort in the fact that I was not the only “loon” out on the lake.

*You may just have to take my word for it that the small black triangle near the center of this photo is, in fact, the head of a duck . . . not exactly the most obvious visual aid :-)

It’s official: all of my old blogspot content now “lives” here.  So thanks to all who read/look/follow, and feel free to make this new site a favorite, a bookmark, a blogroll link . . . whatever you like :-)


May 24, 2010

Knowing to expect the unexpected is one thing. Having that same unexpected happen is quite another . . . which is, I think, one of the main reasons I love telling “true” stories so much: I am one of those who delights in the re-living as much as [and often more than] in the moment itself. So telling about those moments is no trivial matter—telling the tales of the absurdities in a day in a life almost makes the day, the life, worth living.
But enough of that: I have a bad writing habit of overly prefacing . . . on to the story:
A portion of this particular day was spent at two area assisted living facilities. One of which I had been to already, many times, to visit my grandmother. But the other was a new one to me. When I arrived I took some time navigating the maze-like, under construction hallways, searching for members of my group. Eventually I found what looked to be the gathering room and entered, looking for a place to stash my camera and gather song sheets and itineraries. As I did so, a woman came towards me, looking directly at me as she did, with an expectantly cheerful look on her face. She looked rather young, and very aware, so I assumed her to be a member of the staff. But instead of an expected approach, and then [personal space bubble allowed] stop, she continued her walk until her face was an inch away from my own. Rather stunned, I just waited, wide-eyed. And for several minutes she stood there, smiling, as she hummed “Mimimimimimimimimi . . .” in a high-pitched monotone. Then, her song complete, she inched slightly closer yet, and then [still looking straight into my eyes] walked away. I surmised my error in her identity pretty quickly and carried on in preparations.
A bit later, as we began a prayer, she came towards me again, with the same “Mimimimimimimi” song. This time, anticipating her actions, I quickly ran through a few courses of potential action for myself: Should I keep my eyes open and look at her? Should I just pray as usual? Should I smile? I opted to look at her, smile quickly, and then close my eyes and continue joining in on the prayer. When I closed my eyes I felt her face and realized that now, instead of just peering into my own, she was giving me “Butterfly kisses,” brushing her nose side to side against my own.
This time I just couldn’t help but giggle. Seriousness aside, how can any reasonable 30-year-old woman stay straight-faced when being given Butterfly kisses by a bright-eyed slightly-older women? I decided not to try.
And the day continued—as a day does—with other moments of ups and downs, of the unexpected and the expected . . .

To say that Mom’s garden is impressive is decidedly understating the reality: it is, in fact, an amazing array of vegetables and herbs that far exceeds the norm for regional growth. And so it is in no way the fault of the harvest that our dinner greens this evening were a meager affair; rather, my own lack of expertise in gardening is the problem. What I thought was a large bundle of carefully-chosen Swiss Chard stalks boiled down to the equivalent of approximately 1 Tablespoon per person, for of the three of us dining tonight. Ah well–I know better for next time. And thankfully, 20-some-odd brimming bundles remain in the rows from which I gleaned tonight’s portion :-)

still-living stalks

May 19, 2010

As I headed out the door to grab my camera, I grinned with a smug sort of satisfaction at the sound of Mom’s laughter . . . I find it to be oddly gratifying when I manage to amuse my own family members. I had announced to her my intent to photograph the lavender I had just planted, playing up the haste with which I had to do so: “I know that, since I planted them [and you did not], they won’t last long–I have to document their existence while they are still living . . .” And off I rushed. So here they are: beautifully still-blooming sprigs, duly documented :-)