Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Breakfast c/o Waffle House

We had a service for Mom on a Monday. My godmother, aunt and uncle and cousins came into town, as did a number of good friends, which was quite nice. I thought it would be in 'bad taste' to take my camera with me to the service, ashes scattering or reception though in retrospect it seems sort of silly...as one friend's husband asked when told of my decision 'who was she going to offend?' So there are no shots of the elaborate and wonderful spread that Mom's Sewanee friends put together for us, which included cream puffs, ham and chicken salad sandwiches. Nor are there any photographs of the slightly smaller gathering we had at the house afterwards, where plenty of wine was had and I kept trotting out more and more photo albums of our family's life together. I did, however, bring my camera to breakfast with my aunt, uncle and cousins at Waffle House the next day. I ordered a full breakfast complete with hash browns and sausage patties and demolished it. Then we said adieu to my aunt, uncle and one cousin. I kept K. for an extra day.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Morning Mountains

My mother's health didn't hold up while I was away, and on Thursday my father called to tell me that it would probably be for the best for me to make my way back south as quickly as possible. I chose to drive instead of fly. I stopped for the night in Wytheville, Virginia. By the next morning Mom was gone. This is what the back of the Ramada parking lot looked like as I left.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Gnocchi, Car Washes Etc.

One night when I was in Philly I went to J. and J.'s for dinner. He-J put together a great cheese spread, as he often does.

S. asked me to take a photograph of him eating his apple with honey. I was happy to do as I was asked.
For dinner proper He-J made some sort of crazy tasty mushroom cream sauce with gnocchi. Delicious and rich it was.

During the visit S. and N. used laundry baskets to create a train (kept together with copious amounts of tape) and then S. had the great idea of making a car wash...

Limoncello, fantastically just right as always.
And then they became a space rocket.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Last Maryland Breakfast

On Sunday morning B&D made breakfast before I departed. Steak from the night before plus potatoes, eggs and bacon. It was a good way to start the day and the drive.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rally Relevance

On Saturday I went and had coffee with R. down the street, as I was going to stay at her place that night and keep an eye on her cats (one of whom only has three legs, I might add). It was a quick but good visit. While I had been a friend of her brother's growing up, I have seen more of R. in the last three years and have enjoyed getting to know her a bit more and enjoying her lovely deck and hospitality. Anyways. I drove to the Forest Glen Metro stop a good hour or so before the rally was to begin, thinking that would lessen the crowds at such a remote outpost (third from the end of the line). I was mistaken. I spent 20 minutes just standing in line to get a metro card and the train I got on was already packed when I added my weight and breath to the mix. While I was surprised by the crowds at this time and location, I understood that this was how it was going to be at the rally...but one woman with three children under 10 seemed surprised by this fact. I worried for the children's safety and the woman's sanity...does that count as ironic, since she was going to a rally for sanity?
And this is what it looked like once I got off the train.
I ended up around 7th and Madison, so far from anything that I had no idea which direction I even wanted to go in for a while. There were plenty of eccentrics and a smattering of assholes in the heaving, shoving mass of people I struggled through for an hour before giving up. C. and I had planned on meeting up but cell phone service ceased functioning, so there was no way to know where she was and I was so far away from the stage and soundsystem that it was just a test of whether I was going to have a panic attack or not. Sanity. I think not. Once I got out of the swarm and walked a block or two, cell service returned and I received C.'s text saying that she and her group had also decided that the frustrations of the crowds weren't worth the trouble. They had gone on to a bar to watch the event on television, so I met up with them and watched the majority of the show from a bar near Union Station, the name of which I forget, but I think they liked some mid-western college football team or something.

I went because I thought it would be funny. I went because I thought the overall reason to go (to be counted as someone who was tired of all the polarized everything in this country) was one I could get behind. I went. It was a disappointment. And while I am emotionally intelligent and won't go crazy over this, I can't help but think that I shouldn't have gone. Instead of returning to TN after the event I went up to Philly to work for the week, and by week's end my mother had died. Had I really thought this was likely to happen during my absence, I wouldn't have gone...but to say that I didn't see the writing on the wall would be false. So. Yeah. I went to a rally for sanity while my mother was living out her last week, and the rally wasn't even that much fun. I blame Stephen Colbert. Not really.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Salad and Steak

On Friday evening B&D fixed dinner for me and their two friends from out of town. I'm not sure I know what cut of beef it was but it was good. And the grilled asparagus were also delightful.
A pleasant evening was had by all I would think...except for B.'s sofa and Milo the dog maybe. It was really great to see B&D, and so kind of them to let me bunk in their guest room over the weekend.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

After my arrival at the B. and D.'s I took the old dog walk around the neighborhood. I saw this bird. I do not think it is a crow.
I remember when the I. boys' dad built this tree-house for them. It was pretty cool...now I think it's probably a death trap. Also, the creek was missing. B. tried to assure me that this is how it was at this time of year, but I don't really buy it.
This is a spot that used to have a house. A beekeeper's house. My godmother, C. and her husband M. lived there when I was a kid. Now no trace remains. Well, except the land and the sign, I guess.
We would walk through the woods to go to the pool in the summer and to the sledding hill in the winter. I would like to stand on this stump, which seemed much higher when I was much shorter, and sing a song about taking off my underpants. Perhaps the second verse of a trick or treat chant? I would jump off at the end. I'm glad the stump is still there.
See that slight rise in the round on the upper left part of this photograph? There used to be a school there. And just down the hill, in front of the ivy-covered fence, there were great, if outdated and probably strangulation hazards, playground equipment. Gone, too.
Sledding hill still exists.
As does this woodpecker bird.
I don't really care for change. Especially to things well cemented in my brain as fact and/or memory. I guess a memory doesn't change just because the thing it's keeping in your brain disappears. It was a good day for a walk, but I was wearing the wrong socks with my boots, which led to a blister ... not good timing for the rally stupidity that would follow the next day.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Beach Drive

I left Tennessee on a Thursday evening to get myself up to Silver Spring on Friday in order to be able to get to the rally on Saturday with no problems. When I finally reached my old stomping grounds it was mid-afternoon, so I took a small driving tour of a few spots I recalled from my childhood. Mostly along Beach Drive. Here is a view of the Mormon Temple, I could see the tops of its spires from my bedroom back in the day.
I had been remembering one or two years when I was really into going to this one pond along Beach and getting frogs' eggs and bringing them back to our porch. While many became tadpoles, none became frogs. But that pond, which was not ever super deep, I'm sure, no longer exists. In its place was a shallow puddle.

I crossed a stream to find the shallow puddle and got sucked into taking pictures of the water. It happens.

Not exactly the same, but awfully close.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Conflating Nature

I took this photograph a few weeks back. Today I was outside, and there's this big tree, with the sort of bark that looks like it's peeling off itself, but is not, in fact, doing any such thing. I began hearing the sound of geese but when I looked up all I saw were large individual leaves disembarking from the funny-barked tree in tandem with individual goose honks. For a moment I humored myself and thought that it wasn't a flock of geese doing their thing above the heavy, foggy clouds but, instead, each leaf making a goose swan song.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Small Tribute

My mom died late last week. This is what I wrote and read at her funeral:

My mother liked her soup hot and her oysters cold. She enjoyed a strong cup of coffee in the morning and an equally well made gin and tonic in the evening. I tend to experiment when I am in the kitchen, but she preferred to follow a recipe instead of making it up as she went along. When it came to beverages and meals she believed in following a set of rules (truly let the butter come to room temperature before adding it to the cookie batter etc) but when it came to the people in her life she was far more flexible and forgiving.

From our family’s annual pair of new Christmas slippers to a necklace or earrings for my birthday - or a new shirt my father was convinced he didn’t need but would inevitably find to fit just right - she had great taste and had an uncanny knack for finding the gift perfect for whomever was on her mind. To that end it was she, without my being present or giving her much guidance, who found not one but two dresses for me to consider wearing for my senior high school prom. It’s so easy to feel misunderstood or unknowable in this world, and yet by her tokens of affection to me, I was given a clear message: she saw who I was and knew what I liked…no easy feat as a mother of a teenager, I would expect.

Mom was an artist and a teacher, and had a great ability for dealing with the whims and moods of children and adults alike, which definitely served her well in regards to my father and myself. As a child I loved looking at the photographs underneath my parents’ bed, which Mom had created before I existed. There was something so fascinating about seeing this creative inner life that predated me, and there is no doubt that my own interest in photography was inspired by that treasure trove of black and white images. Her lifelong commitment to looking at the world and reflecting it through her creative endeavors is admirable and something I will always value about her.

Throughout her life, many of Mom’s friends would describe her as ‘sweet’ or ‘quiet’ and while both these adjectives are fitting, you didn’t really know my mother unless you understood that under that sweetness and quiet there was an active, intelligent and funny mind at work.

Though she had her convictions, Mom never tried to overpower anyone with her ideas or opinions, but that shouldn’t be confused with her not having any. Whatever thoughts she did have on a subject, whether how to make a bed or what to do about a boy, she tempered her delivery with compassion and insight into her audience’s feelings and perspective. This, of course, made her a wonderful sister, aunt, wife, mother and friend. Earlier this week one of Mom’s friends mentioned that she felt that she could tell my mother anything without having to worry about being judged or misunderstood, and this is a sentiment I echo heartily as well. My mother was an unfailing sounding board for any scheme I came up with or dilemma I encountered in life. And while I didn’t always follow her patient guidance, her perspective was invaluable to me and influenced who I am and how I live my life. My belief that you should try always to see the good in people and take whatever life throws at you with grace and as much humor as you can muster are just a few examples of what my mother taught me.

My mother never swam with her head completely immersed in the water and didn’t care for murky lakes or strong waves. And yet she encouraged me to swim and embrace that which she feared. I can only hope that she had this impact on many others in her life. She was, simply put, a fantastic human being.

While I know grief fades and the absence Mom has left in our lives will soften, I will miss her forever.

I don't know why these fonts won't behave for me, I made the text plain before copy and pasting it, but it's weird.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Walk to Green's View

On a Saturday I took a day walk to Green's View. On the way there I ran into this fine fellow. Swooped out of nowhere and then perched in a reasonable position for me to take a few shots. Could be better. But whatever. This is a bird of prey.

What nature does with fall colors is really something.

To me this looks like a boat, which makes no sense because it's a sign for a golf course.
The road to Green's View.
Green's View. I should bother with photoshop, but I'm not.

I started down one of the trails a little ways.
But soon decided that the full additional three mile trek could be for another day. It was nice though.