Tag Archives: Featured

2020 Hindsight

A year of flowers, clouds, raindrops…

I just finished going back through the posts from this year, a longer project than expected. I posted a lot this year, including two months where I posted at least once a day!

Going through the posts, I noticed a few trends: lots of flowers, mostly taken while walking the dogs around the neighborhood:

Lots of sky photos with dramatic clouds, mostly taken locally (Puget Sound region), although New Zealand had some great clouds as well:

…And raindrops: a lot of pictures with close-ups of raindrops, perhaps a sign of spending most of my year in Seattle:

I’ve also been spending time learning about photo processing. I learned how to take things for a spin (and a lot about blending modes in the process):

…And spent quite a bit of time learning about black and white:

These experiments, and wanting to give myself some structure around keeping the experimentation up, led me to start a new monthly challenge on my other website:

The one-to-three photo processing challenge an opportunity to try out new techniques and share what you have created.

In conclusion

I was not in a great place as the year started, because of some turmoil in the family. Until I reread the first post from 2020 : Another year over…I’d forgotten how depressed I was! I even left my 2018 wrap up in the featured block because it wasn’t sad. Turns out my conclusion was almost foresight, although not in the way I would have predicted!

We were truly blessed to have been able to spend some time with our son over Chinese New Year, we met in the middle (more or less) in New Zealand, and the pandemic was rearing its ugly head as we parted.

Since parting we message daily and have a video talk once a week. We are so fortunate to have these connecting technologies. It was so much more difficult for families living apart during the 1918 flu…most people didn’t even have telephones in those days!

So ends 2020.

I am opposed to making New Year’s resolutions and too many things are up in the air right now to make predictions…maybe it has always been so and, until now, we just didn’t realize how fragile our norms were.

I wish you all happiness and health in the year ahead!

For the beauty of the earth

Even though I haven’t thought of this hymn for a long time, the prompt Earth brought it to mind.

For the beauty of the earth,

for the glory of the skies,

for the love which from our birth

over and around us lies;

Lord of all, to thee we raise

this our hymn of grateful praise.

Not too hard to see how my mind went to pictures taken from airplanes. Being above the earth gives a sense of the planet that one rarely gets from earthbound viewpoints.

Yet the story of the planet Earth is more complicated than beautiful vistas of mountains and clouds. One of the ways travel has affected me is my understanding of the complexity of the world. So many things interact with each other, and often the results are not what “everyone” thought would happen.

This picture gallery shows a mish-mash of images of the Earth taken from planes. I included some that are not exceptionally good photos or pretty scenery to illustrate parts of the Earth’s story:

Nairobi Rooftops: you can really see where the poorer part of town is. This is also is part of the story of the Earth: These economic realities affect how we take care of the Earth.

Arriving at Kichwa Tembo: Masai Mara means spotted plain in Swahili, some of the spots in this picture are Tembo (elephants) and other animals, not trees. The story of the Earth is, at least in part, the story of its inhabitants..and not just human ones. Many of the animals at the Masai Mara  game park are endangered.

Patchwork Fields: this isn’t a great picture but it shows another part of the earth’s story: carefully laid out and cultivated fields in Europe (Ireland, I think). It contrasts dramatically with both the scenery of untamed areas, like the mountains in North America and escarpments in Kenya, and with the rooftops of densely populated Nairobi.

Great Wall of China: again, this isn’t a great picture, but the wall was visible from the plane window when we took off last fall. The Great Wall is just visible as a line on the landscape. Often (at least in my experience) it can’t be seen because the air is not clear. The great wall is endangered by the expansion of the Gobi desert, some of which is due to human activities.

The planet Earth is very beautiful, our hymns of grateful praise are deserved, but perhaps we ought to do more. At the very least our hymns could caution against taking the beauty for granted. Things are changing pretty fast.

Gramps’s Legacy

Going through papers looking for the information needed by the VA for a pension for Grandma , I found these items in an old chest of my grandfather’s, things he collected and cherished.

Memorabilia from the Marines. Including all the letters related to his Distinguished Flying Cross. He was a Marine, an everyday, ordinary hero, manning up until he could no longer stand up.In physical therapy during the week before his death you could see him struggle, but he never complained.

His ukulele book. He taught himself to play the ukulele and brought it along on many vacations. We learned the songs with pauses for chord changes.:

  • I’m looking over a four leafed clover, That
  • I over-looked before.
  • One leaf is sunshine, the…
  • second is rain,
  • third is the roses that…
  • grow in the lane…
  • No need explaining, the one remaining is…
  • somebody I adore. 
  • I’m looking over a…
  • four leafed clover that
  • I over-looked before.

A joke we had fun with. Can you figure it out?

  • MR DUCKS
  • MR KNOT
  • OSAR
  • CM WANGS
  • LIB
  • MR DUCKS
  • MR SNAKES
  • MR KNOT
  • OSAR
  • CM BDIS
  • LIB
  • MR SNAKES
  • MR FARMERS
  • MR KNOT
  • OSAR
  • CM MT POCKETS
  • LIB
  • MR FARMERS
  • MR MICE
  • MR KNOT
  • OSAR
  • CM EDBD FEETS
  • LIB
  • MR MICE

I don’t know how I want to be remembered. My brain seems to only be firing on a couple of cylinders right now, but when I saw the prompt, it made me think of Gramps.

I can almost prune an apple tree, due to his coaching. I would be up the ladder in the tree and I could tell when I should cut a branch off because his hands would twitch, as if he were using clippers.

I mostly find humor in things…and I sing “I’m looking over, a four leafed clover” with gusto, out of tune and with rests in all the wrong places. And I tend to stick with things…to a fault sometimes. Maybe, just a little bit, I am his legacy. And maybe what I wish for as a legacy is someone who remembers me with fondness, even though I am usually out of tune and it takes me a while to change chords.

Semper fi!!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Don’t You Forget About Me.” and Legacy.

Happy Mama

KSM-20140418-HappyMama-12-480pxI was in Qingdao, China. In an adorable cafe called “The Giraffe”. I was with Emily, my son’s girfriend, and our ability to communicate together was quite limited, smiles, laughter, shei shei, Emily’s cell phone app and my Lonely Planet phrasebook, and I was tired, oh so tired.

James (my son) insisted that I should have a Chinese cell phone so I could reach him or Emily in case I needed as I wandered Weifang alone while they worked. I got it the day before Emily and I went on our outing to Qingdao and had set the alarm for 5:30 am since Emily was going to pick me up at 6. I went to sleep and was wakened by the cell phone. It felt like I had only been asleep a few minutes. I crawled out of bed and headed for the hot pot to make instant coffee. I was so tired my eyes weren’t all the way open. After a cup of coffee my brain started to function. It seemed awfully dark for that time of morning. Turns out it was11:00 pm. My phone had bleeped because its battery was dying.

KSM-20140418-HappyMama-01-480pxThe next morning I was in a little better shape, but the caffeine at 11 meant that I didn’t get the best night’s sleep. We rushed to the train station. The ticket line was so long that we were not going to make our train. Emily talked a young woman who was close to the front of the line into buying our tickets for us. This meant that we were all sitting together.

After leaving the train station we went to the beach, bought some souvenirs then headed out to see the town a bit. Emily had a Chinese map of the city and was looking for the house of a famous author. I later learned from my son that Emily, while she has many fine attributes, can’t read a map.

I really didn’t much care about seeing any particular site. The cherry blossoms were out in force and it was a beautiful day, sunny, mostly clear skies, not too hot or too cold.

But as noon approached these old bones needed a rest and I really needed something to drink, preferably with a bit of caffeine.

KSM-20140418-HappyMama-10-480pxWe spied the light pole first. As soon as I realized it was a coffee shop I somehow communicated that this was where I wanted to be.

At the table they had a little book for people to write in, and people from all over had written notes. Emily enjoyed reading them and wrote something in the book herself then passed it to me. I wrote that I was happy to be there with Emily, since she does not read English I looked up “happy” in my phrase book and signed the note XingfuMama. (In Chinese Characters).

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “All About Me.”