Weekly photo challenge “Name”

Gloria

I spotted this abandoned boat yesterday morning, moored on a small creek in Westport, CT.  A name displayed on the bow was carefully written in simple block letters…GLORIA.  Captivating in its stillness with not a soul in sight, it instilled a feeling of both peace and melancholy.   Returning home I researched to discover the boat was owned by a gentleman who lived his entire life in Westport and worked as an oyster fisherman aboard the vessel. The boat was both his work and home, when weather permitted.  “Gloria” was the name of an old girlfriend who clearly left a mark on his heart.  He passed away recently yet the barge remains, a testament to earlier days and a time long gone.  This past Christmas, an unknown angel strung festive lights on the boat in memory of the late fisherman. It must have been a beautiful sight. I wonder if Gloria ever knew she was his muse?img_2682

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/names/

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WPC – “Spare” – The Lonely Sweater

Spare (Defined) “Not currently in use; in reserve”

Glancing in the window of a recently closed children’s consignment shop, I spotted this tiny, orange sweater hanging forlornly in the now abandoned store front.  I pondered why this one vibrant item adorned with teddy bears, remained.  Perhaps a testament to a dream that was not to be or more simply that the sweater was left in haste?  I like to interpret it as a statement of fortitude left behind from the proprietor.   A symbol that whatever the future brings, he or she will survive.     I shall leave the interpretation to you gentle readers, but this melancholy image brought to mind the word spare for this week’s challenge.   

sweater

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/spare/

 

Summertime in Sepia

I love this dreamy throwback photograph, taken on the outer banks of North Carolina circa 1960.  My beautiful mother in law Mary (on the right), adored this summer refuge where her parents owned a home.  She is pictured here with her best friend Dottie.  When I look at their carefree expressions I can almost feel the warm breeze and the lazy days of summers past.  I love her retro swimsuit too which she sewed by hand. She left us two years ago after a brief illness.  At her memorial service, I met a lovely older couple who spoke of Mary (as we all did) with love and adoration. As we reminisced I couldn’t stop staring at the elegantly dressed woman who seemed so hauntingly familiar. As I held out my hand, she introduced herself as Dottie…

 

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MY BEAUTIFUL MOTHER IN LAW (LEFT) AND BEST FRIEND. SUMMER LONG GONE 1956.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Sepia Tones Only

WPC Challenge – Life Imitates Art

“What was any art but a mold in which to imprison for a moment the shining elusive element which is life itself — life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose.” Willa Cather

 

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An artist’s sketch of my sister and me at the Dublin Horse Show circa 1970’s

 

 

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Sisters in real life

 

caricature
A caricature of my sons at Universal Studios Florida

 

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My sons in real life

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/life-imitates-art/

 

WPC “Circle” – Paper Plate of Positive Traits

 

The instructions were simple, even for a first grader.circle

“Write one nice thing about your classmate on his/her paper plate.” The plates were distributed to the children on the last day of school to take home as a memento of the year.

This simple but lovely exercise always touched me, particularly the heartfelt but honest sentiments scrawled by the children.  One phrase that appears several times for my son was “You are so nice to me!”

I loved that compliment. So easy to do and clearly too so very much appreciated.  After all, who doesn’t like to hear something positive about yourself?

I found this paper plate tucked away in a closet yesterday and thought it perfect for this week’s challenge. Find something positive in someone today, even if you have to dig a little. You may receive the compliment in return. Full circle.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/circle/

 

One word photo challenge “Shamrock”

O, the red rose may be fair,
And the lily statelier;
But my shamrock, one in three
Takes the very heart of me!
~Katherine Tynan

shamrocks
Green (shamrock) is my favorite color. Vibrant yet equally soothing. My entire life contains touches of this lovely hue. The first photo (upper left) is a hand-carved tombstone compliments of my husband, in memory of our little hamster that passed away. The C is for “Cookie.” We buried her in our back yard directly among the daffodils that bloom each spring. I scattered the stone with what else? shamrocks..

One Word Photo Challenge: Shamrock

Magic Drinks

kodak

ROCHESTER, September 26 — Eastman Kodak Company today announced its intent to stop making and selling slide projectors by June 2004.

“The Kodak slide projector has been a hallmark for quality and ubiquity, used for decades to produce the best in audio visual shows throughout the world,” the company said. “However, in recent years, slide projectors have declined in usage, replaced by alternative projection technologies.”

One of my happiest and most comforting memories of childhood was our family slide shows.  These coveted movie nights which generally took place once a year, consisted of nothing more than three simple ingredients:  a blank wall  in our living room, a Kodak carousel slide projector with my father at the mast and myself and three sisters,  huddled on the sofa,  pressed together in anticipation like peas in a pod.  My mother, who had seen the slide shows too many times to mention, usually busied herself with other things, occasionally stopping in to comment on a particularly beloved picture.  Prior to turning off the lights, my father would announce in a deep theatrical voice “Who wants a magic drink?”

They were always different in taste and made from whatever struck his fancy that night; orange juice with a splash of pineapple juice and Grenadine or perhaps apple juice and ginger ale with a jigger of seltzer.  The ingredients were unimportant.  It was the anticipation of what was to be and the lovely ritual of our movie night routine that we cherished.  Those magic drinks were just part of the show.

There was always one slide, without fail, that was turned upside down. This would halt the show momentarily, as my father with a slightly frustrated “tsk” would right the renegade slide. And we were ready to go once again.

I loved that Kodak carousel projector and the faded yellow boxes of slides stacked beside it. They were never labeled so each reel was a surprise in itself.  Who might appear on the screen that night was anyone’s guess — my six or sixteen year old self?  Our first family pet Bubbles the beagle, or our gentle giant of a Great Dane we called Jenny?  My mother posing on the beach in her youth, or proudly cradling her first grandchild? The lack of chronology only added to the experience.

Some days, in the quiet of my mind, I can still hear the slow deliberate click of the projector, advancing slowly, telling without words the story of our life.  Slide to slide, toddler to teenager, mother to grandmother, youth to twilight.  An entire lifetime displayed on the wall of the darkened living room.

When my parents died, I cared about no other of their possessions albeit that time warped machine that could somehow transform me back to family vacations, birthday parties and people and places no more.  With my sister’s blessings, I brought it to my own home with the promise to bring it to family gatherings, a carousal reunion of sort.  Though it is yet to be.  It sits up on a shelf in an unused room.  I have taken it down one or two times in a half -hearted attempt to have my own family slide show but then, as it spits and jams due to age, return it in frustration to the lone closet.  Surely there is somewhere that can restore the Kodak carousal to the beauty of its youth so we may once again enjoy those magical images.

And I will mix for my own sons, those magic drinks..

Gregory’s Goodbye

Featured Image -- 293 He left us yesterday.  My twelve-year-old son’s best friend.  It was not unexpected, yet we were not really ready to say goodbye as we stood in his driveway that balmy September afternoon.

He was to attend a therapeutic boarding school in the rocky mountains of Colorado, for the next two years.  A school that specialized in the emotional as well as the intellectual needs of boys who were struggling.  He had battled anxiety and ADHD for as long as we knew him but lately a more sinister villain called depression was taking over.  Public school was not working for him and his daily trips to the counselor left him dejected and angry.  He hated school, he told us again and again.

He took refuge in nature. Whenever upset, he would flee to the solace of the woods, headlamp in place along with a survival kit he had purchased on the internet. Gregory loved the forest which seemed to hold for him, its own therapeutic powers.  As a going away gift we gave him a lithograph night-light with a forest of trees etched within, the golden hue soothing and calm.

He is a beautiful boy with deep red hair, fine features and porcelain skin.  His face reflects an impishness that is infectious. He is highly intelligent and intuitive.  My son and he became fast friends three years ago and enjoy a special bond as best friends do. We both knew this path was the best thing for Gregory but it did not make his leaving any easier as he had become a fixture in both our lives and home.

All contact at his new school was to be via letter, no social media of any sort, so I made it a point that we would write to him, at least once a month.  I have a book of postcards, each one a different flower fairy illustrated by the brilliant Cicely Mary Barker, an English artist known for her life-like depictions of fairies in nature.  I chose for Gregory a red-headed mischievous faced boy fairy and penned in the margin “this reminded us of you!” I then enclosed a second self-addressed card already stamped for him to return to us.

The next card we sent to him contained a dried wishbone from our previous night’s roast chicken. Growing up my father would always save the wishbone for me and my sisters. I thought it was just the type of ritual Gregory would enjoy.  “Find someone you like at your new school and break the wishbone!” I scrawled.  “We miss you.”  But then, a week later thinking again about the wishbone, I was filled with dread.  What if gets the long end and his wish is to come home? What had I done? In trying to comfort him I could possibly have made him feel worse.

One afternoon several weeks later, I paused at my son’s bedroom door after hearing him talking on the phone to what sounded like Gregory.  He was clearly upset, distraught and his words a hurried jumble of emotion.  “I want to come home.  I hate it here. I miss you so much!”  He had sneaked his mother’s phone while she was visiting to make the call. After several moments, my son replied in a calm voice “You have to push through…”  I had never before heard the expression nor my son use it. When I asked him what he meant by “push through,” he explained that his middle school track coach always told the boys to push through the pain no matter how hard and they may just find they were stronger than they thought.

I worried about how he felt losing his best friend “Do you miss Gregory?”  His response was always the same. “It’s fine mom.”  And then I realized, perhaps the strain of seeing his friend in so much pain was harder than letting him go.

The last thing we sent him was a care package right before Halloween. It contained fake fangs, a calendar book with different photos of forest scenes, two packages of his favorite gummy bears and a small stuffed owl that had strangely beckoned to me from high on a store shelf. I imagined the little owl sitting on his night table. I also included a pre-stamped fairy card he could send back to us with ease.  When I called his mother to review what I was sending, she paused when I had mentioned the stuffed owl.  “He asked me if he could have a real one last week for a pet!”

Several weeks later, we received the fairy card by return mail.  Gregory’s familiar hurried scrawl contained the following sentiments:   “I loved the red-headed fairy card — I am learning to play the banjo! — Thank you for the owl, I keep him in my backpack.”  But it was the last line that remains with me.  “I still don’t like it here” he confided, “but I am going to push through…”  And those simple words were all I needed.