Nikon D750 … f/4.5 1/125s 85mm

The grass does not refuse

To flourish in the spring wind;

The leaves are not angry

At falling through the autumn sky.

Who with whip or spur

Can urge the feet of Time?

The things of the world flourish and decay,

Each at its own hour. ~Li Po (cited: Trans: A Waley & B Li, The Poet Li Po. Project Gutenberg Ebook)

Horsetooth Reservoir Nikon D750 f/7.1 1/200s 50mm

A song out there… Why, it is a beggar singing! If this old man who never had a silver coin can sing, why must you with rich gold memories sit here and sigh?

~Tu Fu (cited: The Jade Flute: Chinese Poems in Prose, gutenberg.org)

This week scillagrace invites us to share Getting To Know You photographs that show our relationship with a subject that generated our attention, won our affection and taught us a thing or two.

on a makeshift bridge
we make friends…
croaking frog
~Issa (cited www.haikuguy.com)

I enjoy photo walk abouts…it is as if a camera has a third eye that invites me to look/see. Over time, I’ve enjoyed expanding my efforts to include using double exposure, long exposure, window reflections in street photography.

Introducing body language as a way to introduce emotions within street photography.

Exploring window reflections as a means to compose a frame within a frame as well as create an abstract street image.

Accepting the challenge of in-camera double exposure.

And…may I invite you to spend a few minutes watching a mom and child, getting to know each other through laughter and validation. I know you will find yourself smiling.

Bebê italiano aprendendo a falar

https://fb.watch/51pEYvmHHV/

As the ink flows onto the page, 

each word creating and tumbling into another,

she wonders aloud to no one in particular,

“are these sleeping memories

left in the shadows of grief …

a past writing on and on

this tale and that …

moving my pen across the page

as if a bridge to yesterday?” 

my face – my mother’s

lingering scent of sweet peas

mirrored reunion.

meandering tales

beyond a haze of tear drops

my mother’s face – mine.

faded looking glass

a cup or two of coffee,

“Let’s linger a bit.”

I felt my mother’s touch as I opened a donation request letter from the food bank. Unknown to her, there were nights I, on the top bunk, eavesdropping … peeking into her late at night…the children are asleep (so she thought) conversations. When the lights were just right, I listened in to those adult-only conversations by watching the mirrored images…the refrigerator’s reflections of her hands dancing in the air.

“No! No you cannot use my children’s money!  It is for them!”  Children’s money, Social Security survivor benefits for her three oldest children … entrusted to her to protect in order to stretch around a family’s budget.   

Children’s hands crumbling soda crackers into bowls of soup, evenly divided.  Crackers stretching a can of soup to feed lunch for six. Oatmeal, in place of bread crumbs, added to the meatloaf mix; later to be served with canned corn, a filler, on the side.   

Oh how I resisted those government food programs. Pitchers of milk that had been expanded with clumps of powered milk mixed with water. Dinners of sliced and fried Spam with scrambled eggs or French toast made with powered eggs whisked into the egg batter. Syrup made with brown sugar and water. Peanut butter with a thick layer of peanut oil … shiny oil to cut through with a knife before spreading on a slice of homemade bread.

“But why not?”  I once pleaded to fingers that snapped, “No!  Kellogg Corn Flakes and Shredded Wheat are enough!  We cannot afford sugared cereals!”  Cold non-sugared cereals, lumpy watered down milk, and a vague memory of a summer I waited for that shetland pony I had won. Still waiting…

A determined stance. Eyes that said, “No I will not bend.” Firm hands saying, “One capful of dish soap is enough to wash the dinner dishes.” 

Homemade quilts … heavy quilts … made of haphazard geometric shapes of cloth.  Materials saved from scraps of cloth from previous sewing projects, various kinds of fabrics only found in a Saturday rummage sale, shame-filled church donations, and mended hand-me-down children’s clothes, worn and tattered…transformed into … never seen before in all of history…unique quilts.  

Asking for money for a candy bar or a soda pop to buy during a school outing would result in being sent to the kitchen to make no-bake chocolate oak cookies? Once again, “good enough.”

Yet, behind all those times is that one singular moment … she and I standing on the sidewalk in front of a second hand store.  With a quarter in her hand and eyes of regret intermixed with sadness, “I could not find a swimming suit for you. I have only this quarter.”  

No memory of that sense-felt longing for a swimsuit. Her eyes…emerald green eyes … validating and embracing … those eyes…those parent eyes that only a child can hear.

upon the salsify

morning dew

both … at rest

I felt my mother settle beside me as I picked up a photograph … four generations of women, “you seem fragile sitting there with a half smile. I didn’t see your aging … the tellings of you as a grandmother … a great grandmother.  It is as if I remained within a 6 year-old time frame while you rode a time train into your future.”  

Eyes glistening and an acknowledging smile and nod, “Within an album is another image, a faded photograph … unique to the 60s and 70s.  Together, on a couch…your grandmother, you, E, and I.  Four generations.” 

My left arm wrapped around your waist…my right hand reaching towards E.  B, sitting on her mom’s lap, her dress pulled up … hiding her face, as toddlers are known to do, playing pick-a-boo.  It is as if I was a conduit … arms reaching through the barriers of time…connecting each of you to the other.

Two moments of togetherness…four separate lives within one time frame … a telling of our ancestral heritage. 

Tomorrow a birthday celebration, your great great granddaughter.  Within her unabashed joy, glimpses of you. 

Adopted 70 – 74 years ago. A teddy bear, 12 inches tall and 9 inches wide.   A child’s toy stuffed with long, fine wood shavings. A faded pink ribbon … placed around the neck … frayed … a limp bow.  A mishmash nose …the tip reconstructed with thick black thread. Missing mouth and eyes.  Matted and worn wool body  … the muted yellowish brown colors of early spring.

Well traveled … bits of time along the east and west coastlines of the United States as well as the mid-west and Rocky Mountains. Deployed with the family for 2 years in Australia. 

The numerous times the childhood family and then my family moved … household items, furniture, toys, clothes left behind … moving sales, yard sales, donations, and tossed in the trash things … a shedding of things…leaving a trail of chosen and then discarded things.  

Never though … photograph albums … ones she created for each of her children, her marriages, and her childhood family.  Each one a chapter within a visual memoir … validating her life.  

But why this one teddy bear … adopted during the first chapter of her life as a wife… a young mother of two girls?

A teddy bear … a child’s gift tucked away for safe keeping.  Later an adult’s re-given gift of a mom’s unspoken memories kept close to her heart.  

summer will soon

wander

between wild flowers.

in our next lives

let’s meet as butterflies

afield

Outside my window the world is dove gray…a late spring snow … powdered snow covering tree branches like the powdered sugar she sprinkled on the top of one layered cakes.  

The silence of snow gently interrupted, “Why was I sent to that school with D?”  D, her first born.  A black and white framed photograph reminds me of the softness of her permanent like curls crowning her head and the same unabashed joy of our mother…our mother before she was our mother.  The photograph belies her strawberry blond curls…golden tipped curls.  

“So she would not be alone.”  Alone…the same aloneness that accompanied her during those years she was separated from her family…sent away to school?  

Me, the second born…given a purpose at birth, ”A playmate… a barrier, a protector against being alone.”  

There were those nights when darkness became like a blanket that settled the house into a quiet silence.  A silence that opens a door to a private passage to a realm where thoughts and images become ethereal and reality is colored by the imaginings of self free to roam.  And then…unexpectedly, consciousness shifts to a gentle voice, “ring ring” responded to with, “hello.”  Uninterrupted exchanges between sisters, separated by darkness—confiding, sharing, questioning—creating private night time stories lulling us into sleep.  

Years later the darkness of night often would invite a repeating dream. No…not a dream. A nightmare where a sudden appearance of a dial phone transformed me into a relentless pursuer.  A series of events, where I stumble over one into another … the phone line remains silent; “this number is no longer in service;”  I can’t recall the number as I dial; a nearby phone book opens up to blank pages; I have no coins; my mind goes blank when I pick up the receiver. Failure becomes an enemy which I fight, again and again, until waking releases me to another darkness…

My mother’s grief  … her felt emptiness … her loss of her first born child and first born grandson…together in one grave…not alone. Her emptiness hidden within a Sanskrit word, Vilomah…against the natural order…a parent whose child has died.  A Vilomah who, in later years, would also be a parent whose two sons had died. 

olden memories

so brisk

in their fading

100 days 56

A pocket-sized hard board notebook…forest green within a package mailed from California.  Black and white photographs of extended family…lent not given…to be returned to sender.  

Within the notebook her father’s carefully written numbers…some lists seemed to be Union Pacific Railroad time schedules while others household expenses.  In the back – two facing pages – a written exchange between a father and daughter.

She was his first born.  She loved him.  She felt his love and his gift of inclusiveness.  

She knew her grandmother’s love.  Sitting together in a rocking chair her grandmother reading aloud biblical scriptures, “I did not know what she was reading from the Bible. It was enough sitting on her lap…being close.”

His smoking…she loved watching him roll his cigarettes…and evenings at the neighborhood bar, two sources of discontent within the family.

It has been told that she sometimes accompanied him to that bar during family visits.  There was that time, father and daughter sitting together at the bar … her mother and siblings outside at the window looking in.

They were walking together to the train station…the state mandated her education be a placement within a school for the deaf.  When she first began school she was enrolled in the school in Idaho. Later, a transfer to Salem, a new state requirement – enrollments to be within the state.  Home visits, family celebrations and holidays were now difficult to arrange.

His words … written words messaging understanding and reassurance.  A writing style evoking calm.  Her writing  – a resigned resistance.

When she was 14 … away at school, a fatality at the railway roundhouse.