Passing on the Joy of Photography

Grandparents pass on lots of things. Some of the things have laid in drawers and cabinets or on shelves and are lovely, and have a historical family meaning, and are lovely and meaningful.

Chances are, the grandchild will put those objects on shelves.

I have a few of those things that I will leave behind when I exit, stage left.

But those are just things. And most things, even with history, don’t change a person.

One of my grandsons stayed the night, Saturday. He is twelve. He will be a teenager next February.

These years before, there is no doubt that I have loved him, and watched him grow. But now is the time I see my work with him as just beginning.

What I want to leave my grandchildren with, is a joy of finding passions, enjoyments, learning and self expression. Since they were little, the two grandchildren who live near me, have had their own drawing journals. We have fooled with drawing and art. When my granddaughter did a cool painting, I copied it and had a print for her bedroom wall. Made. I had fabric made with one of my grandson’s designs. I want them to see the bigger picture of what they can do.

I did the same when I lived in Ohio and had my grandchildren over We headed downstairs to the art room. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do that with my youngest granddaughter, and distance makes it out of reach for them now. I miss having that opportunity.

But Saturday, my grandson and I worked on one of the big joys in my life, and I think a growing hobby of his.

Last summer, I took my grandson to Anne Springs Greenway, a beautiful nature area, in Fort Mill, SC. I gave him a camera to use and I had one. I gave him a few pointers and off we went. I watched as he walked along. I could tell he was framing pictures in his Ming. He’d stop and squat and shoot. I could see him doing what I longed for him to do … see the world in a different way.

I took photos, too. but mostly, I was interested in watching him. What joy.

This weekend we walked in my yard and garden and he went from plant to plant and snapped. I taught him about F-stops and depth of field and filling the frame, honing in and using natural objects as frames.

After an afternoon of taking photos and watching a butterfly enjoy a zinnia for a long time, I download his photos to my iPad and we got to see the world through his eyes.

Later that evening, when we were outside, again, I taught him to look for things to photograph that weren’t as obvious as a beautiful flower. I showed him the beauty and art of photographing all stages of a flower’s life. Look for what people miss. Seek out the shot. Look at the world through a mindset that sees something interesting in most everything. Look for the story.

And that is what he did.

He mentioned that it was interesting how I painted and then made felt and baked and now do flowers. I think he wondered why I did this, but didn’t ask. So I took that opportunity to tell him why I did this.

I told him I do a lot of different things because I have a curios nature. There is a finite amount of time to live, really live, and pursue interests. I mentioned that I like to get involved with different aspects of life, master them to a certain degree, and then transfer what I have learned, to the next project. It keeps me engaged with life, I said.

Instead of him looking at me like I had three heads and four ears, I think he got it. I think that he understood a bit more about me, and in the process, learned something about himself, and life. All of these things are here for the learning. And if you look at life and the world with curiosity, you will not be bored.

I made chicken tenders for dinner and we had fresh peaches and peanut M&Ms. We ended our Erving watching Bot Wars. I love Bot WArs. We tried to decide what names we would give ourBot and how we would build it.

Sunday morning, we were up early and hit the Dunken Donuts before heading to the shore of Lake Wylie. When I asked if he wanted to eat his donuts at Dunken, or go to the lake, he said, “Let’s go to the lake and catch the early sun.”

I smiled. I had taught him well.

When I showed him my blog, he asked if I would use his photos. Of course. So this morning, the photos are by CJ. And I share them proudly and with a smile on my face.

Susan

For The Love Of Writing

 

Just as there is a life cycle for a flower, in the public eye, or in the minds of some people, there is a time when people should exit the stage, leave, go fishing, take a hike.

Having written for going on 25 years, I am probably, one of those people who might have past their expiration date, as far as a reading audience goes.

I have thought about that, a lot, recently. Should I hang up my fingers and brain and words and exit the writing world, stage left? Are readers bored with me? Have I said everything ad nauseous?  Have I told stories over and over and over?

Probably.

Even as of yesterday, I mentioned to Nick, I think I am past my expiration date. I got off of Facebook for a purpose. Many people read my words and wrote that they enjoyed them. But that does not mean that they will follow you, stay with you, search you out, if you move from their comfort or energy zone.

That is humbling. But I also know that that is just people. Life is busy and priorities set in and lives take different directions. My life moths along. I move from different necceary duties and work and move on with new interest.

But writin. Writing and photography,  have never abandoned me. Readers might disappear, publications I have written for have come and gone and changed and love fresh voices of a new generation.

I noticed the shift after 9-11. There was a seismic shift then and with the market kefuffle in 2008.. For a while, I changed with the market. I found publications for my work.

Then I developed a nice following of readers on my FB blog. But FB bothers me. I love it and hate it. It has good technology that is often used in a less than forthright way. Politically, and otherwise. So, jut as I am independent politically, I decided to write independently.

There are more formatting options. It is mine. and that is nice.

All of that being said, what I am learning from this little venture, is that the bottom line is … independent of whether a large number of people read my words, or only a few, I love to write. It really is a spiritual thing for me. Though I have retreated. Somewhat. From a busy life, to one of gardening, nature and nurturing in a smaller way, writing makes me feel alive. It is how I sort my thoughts and let the world know that I have been here, I have learned, done some things well and screwed up othert things, and that is all part of the life I have built.

It really is a joy to touch people in some way, to strike a note of life that rings true, or is absurd, or cracks people up.

In this world of marketing, social media, LIKES, SUBCRIBES, and GOOGLE ANALYTICS, sometimes the point gets lost in my head. Not everyething can be measured in numbers. If one person reads and it affects them, it is worth it. And if I write for myself, it is worth it, too.

I am still learning to figure out life and how to live in this technology driven, results oriented, society.

But as long as the birds fly, butterflies have magic wings and the preying mantis visit, you will find me working in my garden, finding love in some aspect, everyday, and sipping tea ,,, I will write and take photographs that bring me joy. Sharing it is just a bonus.

Susan

 

Unexpected Losses

It isn’t that we were actual friends. More like pleasant acquaintances. I know of her but hadn’t talked to her until she began following my writing. At that point, we had a few email conversations about some of the subjects that I had written about.

One of those subjects was Ireland. It made her think about her trips to Norway, where she visited relatives.

I love Ireland. She loved Norway.

The last time I saw my friendly acquaintance, was just prior to our moving south. I saw her in a local carryout. I was buying scratch off lottery tickets pats and she had just purchased cigarettes.

We chatted for a few minutes. I told her we were moving. She mentioned that she and her husband had moved into a little schoolhouse type building. She mentioned that her son had bought their big house on the lake.

It was a peasant chat. Friendly acquaintances. A pleasant sort of relationship.

One of my sons knew her husband. I think that they were friendly acquaintances, too. One day, maybe a year or so ago, I received an email from my son, saying the husband of my friendly acquaintance, had died.

I didn’t know him, but I felt badly for his wife.

Remember when Robin Williams died? That hit me. I didn’t know him, but I grieved. The same with Anthony Bourdain. I recall, crying, when Nick told me what had happened. Nick asked why I was crying, and all I could say was that I was just very sad. I was going to miss him.

Maybe it is my age, or how the world is or just the way my mind works, but when I hear about certain deaths, though I might now have known the person, feel like a bit of a punch in the gut. My equilibrium takes a hit, and I grieve.

I have a friend that I have had for probably 35 or 36 years. Long time. Good friend.

The other day I called her. We chatted and caught up on what her kids were doing and how my kids are. We talked politics and laughed and about my old neighbors and that the people who bought our old house, which is next to hers, are taking good care of my cottage garden.

She asked me if I knew a certain person. This person was my friendly acquaintance. I said, yes, I know her.

“She died last week.,” she said.

My gut immediately hurt. She was only 67.

I can make 67 sound young or old. It depends on how I am looking at it. For death, it is young.

My friend told me the circumstances for the woamn’s death, which unsettled me even more. Fire, burns … suspected to be caused by smoking.

My mind flashed back to our chat at the carryout. She and her husband had a lake house and were planning on spending more time there. Her obituary mentioned that she and her husband began dating at 16.

Now, 3 years later, they both are gone. Their 3 adult children have lost their parents and their children have lost their grandparents.

And though I didn’t know either, well, they are in my craw.

Futures. Plans. Pasts. Unexpected Losses.

I think I will sit and watch some birds for a fe minutes.

Susan

Life Lessons From The Garden

I can be harsh. I can look at a diseased or dying plant and have it affect me much more deeply than it should.

I can hone in on the problems of the garden and life.

Instead of seeing the whole picture, the beautiful flowers and plants and the birds that arrive with bravado, I look at what needs to be done, size up what needs work.

That is what hit me in the face, yesterday, as I looked at a zinnia whose leaves had gotten some sort of black spot. Yep, I took it personally.

Abut after watching “A Gardener’s World” a lovely show about gardens in England, I walked to my garden and thought, wow, I have done a  lot of work and smiled … right before I dug in, and made a new path and began sweating like Shrek in the weather with a 77% dew point.IMG_1824-1-1

The mind shift and excitement came back to me as I saw possibility, and put away my stink-eye.

Sixty-six years old, and still have to work on my attitude.

In my life, I have met people who couldn’t figure out how to live. Life was always a problem. Nothing added up. Why can’t I have this, do that, look like …

Accepting things as they were or are, and not going down the path of self-doubt, or feeling angst and defeat is a big part of how one lives a peasant life in a day.

I am slow, but I am learning. I am seeing so much of life, and myself, in my garden.

Dirt that is rampant with fungus. It is there. The world will not end.

The plant that had glorious flowers yesterday, is dragging, today. There is no need to fret.

Weeds are coming up, again, where I thought I had gotten rid of them. Relax.

The hostas don’t like where they are. Move them and get on with your life.

You get the point. It is the same as in so many other areas of my life.

The dough I made didn’t rise properly. That need not be the benchmark for your day.

The 5 gallon pail with all of the birdseed fell over and spilled all over the patio. Shit happens. Smile anyway and laugh. The birds will still come, tomorrow.

Monte, the gardener from England, whose show I watch, made me realize I was being a tad anal about all of this, and that the garden (and life) will have its day, or most likely, a moment, when the flower is perfect, the plant is robust, the dough rose beautifully, and my hair looks pretty decent.IMG_2043

These are but moments in time. You take your mental snapshot and know that it is all going to change  because that is how life is.

But to only see the diseased plant or the flower with the gimpy pedals or to think you are a failure because your dough didn’t rise? That is like living in a no-outlet.

And that isn’t how I want to live. I shall, each day, marvel at the flowers and plants and events that make me feel that sense of marvel, wonder, and fulfillment.

This moment is temporary.

And so is life.

Susan