And then there were two…

Thursday night was a blessing, a confirmation of my decision to “pass the baton” of my photography class to Cheryl. While I enjoyed sharing my thoughts on composition that evening, as 9:00 pm rolled around I was tired and ready to call it a night. One of my students asked a question about capturing the little raindrop splashes formed when rain hits existing puddles. I froze — not because I couldn’t answer, but because class was over and unlike in the past, I did not want to stay late.

Cheryl jumped in and offered to take the two students who’d stayed behind (everyone else was gone) out to a fountain near the entrance of the building. She said they could play with their cameras and see what they came up with. I put my things in my car and then wondered over to the fountain to see how the impromptu shoot was going.

I could not be putting this class in better hands! Cheryl very generously explained some technical concepts required for shooting both moving water and shooting in low light. She then offered to pull her car around so the two students could use its headlights  to play a little longer, since by this time it was well past 9:30 pm.

We have two classes left (if you don’t count the Saturday field trip to Galveston that I throw in as a “bonus”). I’m feeling a little bittersweet, but in a good way. I’ve already given some of my resource materials to Cheryl to use (or not) as she sees fit. There’s a lightening in my spirit with the passing of this particular responsibility.

I expect I’ll always enjoy making photographs of the things that I find lovely. For that reason, I expect my blog name will continue to be “A Scribbler & A Shutterbug” for the random occasion I share a visual story with you.

 

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I regret not picking up this Baby Brownie I saw in an antique store in Comfort, Texas last May. Aside from the fact that it’s so stinkin’ cute, I wonder who owned it and what memories he or she captured with its lens. 

 

I’m Still Here…

…just been super busy with business stuff, family stuff, and a wonderful trip to see my bestie in Ohio the last week of August. We’ve been friends for 41 years — since we were 13 years old. She probably knows me better than almost anyone, except My Guy, of course. But even then — she has probably known me longer than anyone not related to me! She is my “sister by choice,” and I am ever thankful God brought our paths together.

I have one grainy “selfie/usie” I snapped of us with my phone when we stopped to have some coffee. Other than that, I chose to “be in the moment” while I was there. I actually took an extra suitcase to hold my camera bag, and never even took it out! And I don’t regret it one bit.

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Best Friends/Sisters by Choice since the last day of school in 1977.

Sometimes you have to let your mind record the memories. You miss so much when you have a camera separating you and what’s happening. I can’t believe I’m saying that, but it’s true to some degree. If you’ve never seen the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (which is nothing like the short story, I’ve been told) I strongly urge you to watch it. The ending has a powerful message about slowing down, sitting still, and really SEEING what’s happening before your eyes. Here’s the clip:

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Twenty-Two

I became a mom twenty-two years ago today. I could wax poetic about what an amazing and beautiful young woman my daughter has become. I could share with you the mixed fear and pride I felt when she traveled (with great excitement) to a Central American country to serve in missions. I could tell you how smart she is and that the creative gene is stronfullsizeoutput_8522g in her. We could chuckle over how she curls up on the sofa in comfy clothes and teaches herself new embroidery stitches while watching episodes of Doctor Who, like she’s a really cool granny. I could rattle off her literary accomplishments — completing NANOWRIMO four times, having her poem published in the college literary magazine, rocking it like Noah Webster in the writing department.

 

But then I’d just be bragging.

 

 

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My girl is twenty-two today and I love her very much.

 

Happy birthday, Jami-girl!

A Tuesday Reunion

Yesterday I spent some time filling out my planner for the week. One of my goals is to be more diligent about scheduling my time. That encompasses responsibilities and fun! So when I sat down yesterday and entered appointments and to-do’s in my Agenda 52 Planner, tomorrow’s entry was especially exciting.

Years ago when I worked at the law firm, I had the pleasure of working for a legal assistant named Sallie. We were a good match and I enjoyed working for her until life took us in different directions. We lost touch for many years, and then one day I decided to see if I could reconnect with her through Facebook, and was happily successful!

Tomorrow (or today, depending on when you read this) we are meeting for lunch and I think we both are as excited as little kids. It will be so nice to catch up with each other after such a long time. She is a wordsmith, in addition to many other things (a lawyer, a realtor, a homeless animal advocate), and I look forward to hearing all about life since we worked together back in the day.

I’m not sure lunch is going to be long enough.

Grace’s Beauty Shop

When the blue-haired ladies of Liberty went to Grace’s for a shampoo and set, they entered the East Texas beauty parlor through the door located on Hawthorne Street. When I went to my MaMaw’s beauty shop, it was always after hours and I let myself in through a swinging door hinged along the top, which separated the shop from MaMaw’s home. We were never allowed to go between the house and the shop during business hours. We would have to go out the back door, through the carport, down the sidewalk and back up to the door on Hawthorne Street. Health department rules or some such nonsense.

When we’d go for a visit, MaMaw and my mama would sit at the kitchen table drinking coffee and sharing recipes MaMaw had collected from her Eastern Star sisters. The shop was much more interesting than their recipe-trading, and MaMaw never minded my playing in there as long as I put things back where they belonged. I remember pushing that strange swinging door with all my six year old might, making just enough space to slip in, letting go quick enough so I didn’t pinch my small fingers when the door swung shut with a loud smack.

Once I’d navigated the dangerous door with all my extremities intact, I found myself in a shop that was a treasure trove of grown-up beauty for a little girl just recently allowed to use Tinkerbell “cosmetics.” The mingling fragrances of shampoo, setting lotions and hairspray were intoxicating, and to this day when I smell the laquer-y scent of Lamaur Vita/E hairspray — still sold in the same brownish-gold can — I’m immediately transported back to MaMaw’s.

Two black vinyl chairs beneath two slick black porcelain shampoo bowls were situated to the left of the swinging door, opposite MaMaw’s chair where she took care of her clients. A tiered stand stood nearby; its bins held pink, blue, purple, yellow and gray Toni perm rods of varying sizes. The nubby plastic rods were thinner in the middle than on the ends. Little stretchy bands attached to one end and connected to a stopper that plugged into the other end once hair and perm papers were wrapped around the rods. I enjoyed putting all the plugs in the ends of the rods. Now I realize it might have made MaMaw’s work a little harder the next day. At least I made sure to keep the colors separated!

My beautiful pictureMy short legs didn’t need the foot rest on any of the chairs, but a telephone book worked fine the time MaMaw gave me a shampoo and a pixie haircut. (My daddy didn’t speak to her or Mama for three days.) I sat in MaMaw’s chair when she took care of me, trimming my hair with the precise snip snip snip of her shiny hair shears. Sometimes she’d use a little Dippity Do and curl my hair with brush rollers and long white plastic picks that held the rollers in place. Those picks were a little uncomfortable, but I felt so grown up, I didn’t mind. MaMaw would perch me on the trusty phonebook and I’d stretch as tall as I could when she lowered the hard plastic helmet of the hair dryer and the warm air flowed over my head.

There were two additional chairs near the dryers — I can only assume other beauticians worked there at times, although I don’t remember them clearly since I was usually there after hours. A small rolling table used for manicures stood in the corner. I’d get the nail buffer out of the table’s little drawer and rub the soft chamois across my bitten nails. MaMaw would sometimes give me a quarter for the slider Coca Cola machine across the room. Standing on my tip toes, I could just barely slide the Coke along the rail to the opening on the left which allowed removal of the bottle after depositing my coin. MaMaw would help me clamber back through the swinging door opening where I’d sit at the kitchen table and drink my Coke, feeling every bit as special as those blue-haired ladies of Liberty.

Where Did That Come From???

I’m almost 54 years old and I can count the times that it’s snowed where I live on one hand, with fingers left over. I’m not talking about flurries or a scant dusting on the deck. I’m talking about a good blanket that allows you to make a snowman and requires the wearing of rubber boots. I’ve seen that less than five times in my life.

Today’s surprise snowfall would have allowed for snowmen, except we’d already had several days of rain, so there’s mud under that pretty white blanket. Who wants to build a muddy snowman? Then there’s the fact that it’s December 8 in Southeast Texas and it was almost 80 degrees less than a week ago. The ground is still too warm for this to hang around for any length of time. In fact, it started melting just a short time ago, so I’m really glad I got out there and took these photos while I had the chance. (Click on each for captions.)

This may be all we get this year/decade… the last time was in 2003… or 2004. I forget. But when it’s here, it sure is pretty.

Monday Morning Good Stuff

Monday Morning Good Stuff …

Truth be told, I didn’t have anything good to report this morning, and then put off writing anything at all until this evening. Saturday evening our twelve year old golden retriever died. We’d gone to Galveston for the day, first to attend the Greek Festival and then we hung around for ArtWalk. Dinner with the fam and when we got home late that evening, my husband found her in the backyard. He said she looked like she’d been lying in the sun (it felt good to her old joints) where she’d just fallen asleep.

Early Sunday morning, before church, he dug a grave for her next to our daughter’s Chorkie, Evelyn, who passed away in 2016. They are both under the sycamore tree, side by side, which seems appropriate. When Evelyn was still alive, she would climb on top of Hurley and use her for a cushion. Hurley was the sweetest dog ever, and mothered Evelyn, even though they were not biologically related. So I like the idea of their final resting places being so near each other.

I think at some point we are going to put a little birdbath out there as a marker. Or maybe some wind chimes in the tree. But there’s no hurry.

Be joyful, y’all. Even in loss there is joy for the memories.

Laura

I’ll Never Be A Minimalist…

IMG_1180I’m a very sentimental person. Whenever I use or admire one of the many “hand me downs” in my home, it’s a point of contact with the person it originally belonged to. I use an old bottle opener with a Bakelite handle that belonged to my husband’s grandmother, GG. The Pyrex salt and pepper shakers that my mother handed down to me before she passed away have a very 1960s’ “race for the moon” feel that bring to memory snippets of my very young childhood. There are a few EAPC (Early American Press Cut) glass serving pieces my Grandma Power gave me when I moved into my first apartment. I’m pretty sure she picked them up at a garage sale — she loved garage sales, and I enjoy that memory of her. Things like these, that are in regular use and help to keep the memories of loved ones alive — I will never get rid of them if I can help it. But the rest of it? I am cleaning house, my friends.

Last night I spent about an hour posting items for sale on VarageSale. The most time consuming part of this is taking decent photos to upload to the site. Decent photos are important because potential buyers need to be able to tell if the item is in good condition. I look at listings on eBay, Etsy, and VarageSale regularly, and if the photo is blurry, I just keep moving on. I’d already taken quite a few photos of some things I want to sell, so actually posting them goes pretty quickly. I woke up this morning to discover a lady wants to buy three of my listings: a crystal vase we received as a wedding gift (can’t remember who gave it to us), a crystal rose bowl that was at my mom’s (have no idea where it came from), and crystal candlestick holders I bought for a party we had about eight years ago that I haven’t used since.

$28 for things I don’t use, and I’m decluttering, too. It’s a win-win!

IMG_1181I’ll never be a minimalist, though, because I’m just too sentimental. When I see my mother’s copy of “Etiquette” by Emily Post sitting on my bookcase, it reminds me the importance she placed on good manners and the importance she placed on how we treat people. Flipping through that book when I was a teenager was how I learned about “bread and butter” letters (a short letter of thanks to one’s host and/or hostess after an overnight visit). And when I look at the children’s world globe (still reflecting the United Soviet Socialist Republic!) my husband gave me our first Christmas with a sweet, but cheesy, note that said he would give me the world, I remember the butterflies of newlywed love. IMG_1182

Yeah. No. I’ll never be a minimalist.But I am working on making sure what’s here deserves to be here.

Be joyful, y’all!

Laura

A Flash from the Past

In my purging/organizing frenzy, I’ve run across a disc that holds most (if not all) of my blog posts from Xanga, when it was still a thing. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to import them here, so I’m going to go through and copy/paste entries that might entertain you. This one is especially poignant for reasons that don’t need to be explained — a simple reminder to keep praying for all those in the Caribbean, that they will recover and come back stronger than ever.

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

The green-eyed monster has me by the tail . . .

Cane Bay

This is where my sister-in-law is right now.  And where I am not.  While the average Jill might be a little green with envy, a tiny bit jealous . . . I am CONSUMED.

This is St. Croix, U.S.V.I., and St. Croix is where I spent 15 of the most glorious months of my life when I was a teenager.  In fact, this picture that I copied for your viewing pleasure happens to be of Cane Bay, where I made my certification dive when I was 15.  Yours truly swam out to sea and dove a deliciously scary 80 feet down the Cane Bay Wall (which continues to drop a toe-curling 3,200 feet before hitting bottom — think phosphorous glowing fishies a’ la “Finding Nemo”).  I saw the most amazing creatures, collected the most beautiful shells, made the most wonderful memories.

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Colony Cove, formerly The Barrier Reef

While it has been 24 years since we returned to Texas, I am positive this is the condominium we lived in the first three months we were there.  The name has changed — it was called “The Barrier Reef” when we lived there, but the view is the same, the design of the condo is the same, I’m certain this is it.  In another photo on the website, I identified the condominiums next door as Mill Harbor, hence my confidence.  I learned to snorkel off this beach before advancing to my scuba adventures.  The reef we explored was full of sea life and named “The Barrier Reef” because it resembled (on a much smaller scale) the Great Barrier Reef off Australia.I remember wandering through the 300+ year old streets of Christiansted and shopping in store fronts that were built by Danish settlers in the 1600’s.  My best friend, Cindy, and I would roam the shops and then grab a sandwich at Reed’s Deli followed by a trip to Steele’s Smokes and Sweets.  Did you know that the aroma of flavored tobacco mingling with the sweet scent of chocolate is intoxicating?  We bypassed the smokes (although the antique lady’s pipe with a pink coral bowl and long ebony stem made smoking a pipe seem almost elegant), indulging in the chocolates that were to die for.

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The Cruzan Rum Distillery

I don’t know why, but many of my memories are tied to scent:

Each morning, our school bus drove past the Cruzan Rum distillery.  Even now, at the age of 40, when I smell rum, I think of Good Hope School and the school bus . . . weird, I know.

 

 

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The Good Hope School

It was an awesome school — a private school built on beachfront land donated by Laurance Rockefeller.  We had a rotating schedule, which was geared toward making sure that we were wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at least one day a week for each subject.  (So, if you had Math, English, and Science on Monday, you’d have English, Science, and Math on Tuesday, and Science, Math, and English on Wednesday, etc., etc., etc.)  I had one open period in my schedule and I often spent it in the art classroom pretending to be talented or sitting on a rock down on the beach until my next class started.

I met probably the most intelligent and interesting educator of my life while a student there.  Richard Collings was my European history prof and even now, I occasionally correspond with him.  An amazing man, he was born in England and travelled all over Europe and other parts of the world.  He was able to teach history with so much more depth and make it so much more interesting because he’d actually been all the places he was telling us about.  While he managed to keep us on track lesson plan-wise, he still allowed us time to discuss issues that were important, confusing, or interesting to us.  One topic that came up repeatedly was the hostage crisis in ’79 – ’80, when Americans were held prisoner for months on end in Iran.  We were 9th graders, and for the first time in our lives, we realized that sometimes things happen that our parents might not be able to protect us from, or even themselves.

In my mind’s eye, it seems almost like yesterday when we left.  Three days after my sixteenth birthday, we boarded a plane and came back to Texas.  It was really difficult for me, because I’d made some very close friends in the brief time I lived there.  I wrote some heart-wrenching poetry (thank you, teenage angst) and slowly but surely readjusted to life in the “real” world.

Someday, I hope to return.  I’d like to take my husband with me and share “my” island with him.  If I’m feeling particularly generous, I might take my daughter, too . . . but it would be an awesome “just the two of us” trip.  Jami might have to stay with her MoMo. 


A lot has changed since I wrote this — our girl is grown and finishing college. My mom passed away two years ago. As much as my mom was a homebody, I think she enjoyed our adventure as much or more than we did. She settled in to life on the island really well, learning to drive on the left side of the road quickly and was not hesitant to get out there and explore, even while my dad was at work — taking care of us, running errands, participating in the HOVIC women’s service league. She bought cookbooks to learn how to fix the crazy things Dad brought home from his snorkeling and diving adventures — I can still see her standing over the stove, frying conch fritters and letting my sister and I make “creatures of the deep” with the leftover batter. Sometimes I think she adapted to life there better than any of us. I know if she were here now, she would be praying for the islanders, too.


I have borrowed photos from a variety of sources discovered through Google Search for the purposes of this blog post. As best I can tell, they are not copyrighted.

My Island

My island is not really my island, but for the short period of time I lived there as a teen, I fell in love with the rather small rock in the middle of the Caribbean, and I’ve never forgotten St. Croix. Right now, she is being battered by the winds and rain of Hurricane Maria, and I have been and continue to pray that loss of life will be zero, and there will be some sort of miracle as far as damage goes.

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It was on St. Croix that I first experienced that painful ache of viewing something of indescribable beauty, and the overwhelming desire to record it and remember it as best I could. It was on St. Croix that I really started flexing my poetry muscles with any sense of satisfaction. Keep in mind, what I share below was written by a fifteen year old teenager. At the time I thought it was pretty awesome. And now as I wait for news, as I wait for answers to my prayers, I read these words written almost forty years ago and remember.


Twilight Sea

Silver moonlight,

Diamonds scattered

By a careless hand

Across the waters.

Cool winds,

Scents of hibiscus,

Ginger thomas.

Peaceful winds,

Quiet shadows,

Gently moving palms,

Swaying flamboyant trees.

Cool winds,

Peaceful winds, 

Bring the spirit 

Of a twilight sea.

(1979)


Turquoise in Portrait

The ocean:

A turquoise stone

Melted into fluid motion,

Waves capped with

Ivory froth,

Ivory that is swallowed 

By the turquoise sea

And comes forth

On the next wave,

Undaunted.

(1979)


The Lonely Ruin

Turquoise, sky blue, deep purple

Blended together in a velvet sea

Washing golden white sands.

Long, stony road

Through tangled vines and

Tall mahogany trees of an ancient rain forest.

Clearing in the forest —

Ragged, crumbling vine covered walls,

Hundreds of years having stood.

Silent ghosts roam the halls

Open to the skies.

Gentle rains wet the floors

That have known the tread 

Of the elite dwellers 

Of a bygone day.

Worn path leading away

Through hibiscus and sea grape tree

To a rocky, jagged cliff.

Below,

Turquoise, sky blue, deep purple

Blended together in a velvet sea

Washing rocky, jagged shores.

(1979)


Tuning into Memories

Every song brings back

The memories of a distant age,

Where life held no requirements 

On the spirit.

In my ear’s memory, I hear

The fading strains

Of our favorite band, Styx,

And the delicate taste of

Orange Lipton tea still lingers

On my tongue, while the

Click of backgammon die

Quietly punctuates the

Heavy heartbeat of the “Renegade.”

Those were such fine days,

The sun streaming down on

Your pale green shag;

I stretched like a sleepy Siamese,

And you accused me of

Laziness.

We raced down the hill to the courts

To play a game of one-on-one,

While Dennis and Dave sat in the red Datsun,

Feet on dashboard,

Ears keenly attuned to Pink Floyd dreams.

Sweat beads formed on your lip,

And I asked if you wanted a Coke.

As we walked toward the rec hall

Beneath the sea grape trees,

A breeze smelling of salt

Cooled us and made us long for Cane Bay.

(1980)