Bonus Time

Yesterday, a week ago, Nick thought he was dying.

I did, too.

But thank God and good doctors and support of his kids and caring neighbors, Nick lives to be quiet and then drop a zinger that makes people laugh.

He lived for another trip to Blowing Rock.

It has been a hot and cranky summer. Little rain, big water bills, and a rain dance or too, that involved a pool. I will not say if it were Nick or I, who did the pole dance. But I bet you could guess.

It was mountain type of day. Nick had rested all week and he was ready to see something different. Mountains. They have always been an elixir in our life. Some people love the beach. We love the mountains.

There was a buoyancy in the car that hadn’t been there for a long time. We played music. Nick didn’t even mind my opera. Pavarotti. Three Tenors. Me, screeching.

We didn’t stay long at Blowing Rock. I think we wanted to see if it was still there.

Oh gosh, there is my woodpecker. I love birds with long peckers.

I think I scared him with that remark. He flew back into the woods.

We walked just a bit in Blowing Rock and had to decide if we wanted to eat lunch in a restaurant or pick up a pizza from Mellow Mushroom and take it to the mountain lake that is covered in places, with water lilies, has a wide walking path, and makes you feel free and healthy.

We got the pizza and drove to the park. We ate by the car and thenNikc got his walking stick out that I bought him a few weeks ago at McDowellNature Preserve. I got out my walking sticks that I haven’t used since last summer.

And we hit the trail.

Nick has not been able to do this for a long time. His walking is mostly in shuffling steps. But since his episode last week, and treatment with strong antibiotics, he walks better. He still isn’t strong and he has to watch his balance, but he can move.

Hallelujah!

We walked toward what had been a fish hatcheries, but now, only has water and some crawdads.

Nick sat on benches or rock walls, to rest. I bopped along with my camera and found things to shoot.

We talked about a neat-o tree and the lilies and I pointed out things that others, without a camera, not see. That is the thing about taking photos … you look for what others might miss.

I played with settings and chatted-up a couple of passers-by.

We didn’t go far in distance, but we went an eternity away from where we were last weekend.

The drive home was delightful. Nick shut his eyes and rested and I drove along in silence. No opera. No lalalalala screeching from my throat.

It was great fun being a wife yesterday. Nick had a delightful time. Bonus time.

And now, I shall go make some scones, tend my diminishing garden, fold clothes and do whatever I have to do to live in gratitude.

Because we just never know.

Susan

The Ides of August

A bit of death is in the air.

August does it to me. Most every year, the month of August brings a sullen, confused time into my life … into my state of mind.

This year, I lasted about a week into August before it really hit me. I am done with summer. Worn out from digging, bending, schlepping, lifting and tending the garden. Even the heat is different.

Yesterday, afternoon, I walked outside to try to get enthusiastic about something. I was hoping to feel the magic of the garden.

I looked around my yard. I walked to the wildflower garden, all spent from heat and exhaustion. Their bright colors had transpired to gray. Their heads, once bonnets of beauty, looked like me when I need to have my hair colored. Their posture was like mine, too. Bent.

The hydrangeas, which had been transplanted this year, and had been warding off the fungus, showed signs of weakness.

After. Few minutes, I walked into the house, noting that their was no air to breathe outside.

The garden had taken a toll on my body. I know, I know, I did it to myself. No one told me to haul bags of pea gravel, lift it and put it around. I didn’t have a gun at my head switch someone saying, dig deep into this clay to land this spires.

No, I was my own garden warden. The vision was strong. The body did most of what was asked. And now, it was revolting, telling me that it was time to rest.

There are times when I dance as fast as I can. I get a project, a vision in my mind and I go for it. I do what it takes for as long as I can.

Even if it involves trips to an orthopedic doctor and MRIs and. Probably, physical therapy.

Last week was also the week before my 6-month mammogram and visit with the surgeon. My first check-up since I was declared cancer free. And I had been cancer-free. Once the surgeon had said those words, after surgery and before radiation, I lived my life free of cancer. I simply went on.

The funny thing about many kinds of cancer is that you feel fine and dandy, even though a group of cells are gathering to form a convention of attackers, often you don’t know it. It is like walking in your yard, as you always do, but this time, you look at the grass and see a copperhead. Yikes. But you get rid of the copperhead and move on, perhaps with a slower speed because you realize that you need to slow down and feel life, or you speed up things because you hear tick-tock, tick-tock.

For me, it wasn’t so much the episode with cancer … it is age. No matter how much I want to believe that age is just a number … for me, it isn’t. It is trying to balance attitude, looks and body. I rarely have them all in sync.

And August is my month when I feel everything shift. It is my of uncertainty, a bit of a foggy head and a sense of loss … ad transition.

I see photos of my grandchildren heading back to school. A couple of days ago, I got a phi tire of my two oldest granddaughters standing by each other. One is a senior and one is a freshman. The senior was going to drive the freshman to high school. I couldn’t help but get misty.

It is so difficult for me to put my arms around the fact that one of my sons will have a daughter in college next year.

I guess that August is a melancholy month for me. The air even shifts. What was simply hot and humid, become stifling. The sounds of outside are different. The nights are loud with a cacophony of insects and their hallelujah chorus. And even now, as I sit on the screens porch, the sounds of insects drone, not allowing silence of any kind.

I tend to craw my way through August, waiting for it to end. If I acknowledge and embrace this weird sense that I feel, I can almost laugh at it. But mostly, I don’t think it is very funny.

The good news is that when September arrives, I have figured out my next chapter. I have let my mind and body regroup. At this moment, I am uncertain about what my next act on life’s stage will be. Will I continue to write and allow people to see some of the workings of my mind and heart, or will I hang that up? What will I do to move my life and thoughts forward? Or do I have to look at life that way?

There is something good that comes out of putting one’s shovel down for a while. Breathing deeply and taking stock. Maybe that is what August is about? Perhaps the discomfort and uncertainty of and uncomfortable feeling of this month is part of the growing process. It is a realization of the seasons. Seasons change. So must I.

But for now, I think I will rest.

Susan

PS. Winston feels this way, too.


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