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Sunday, May 3, 2015

TheBrains Fulfill a Promise

emoticonPsst. Hey.
emoticon Yes?
emoticon I thought she was going to post about that camera.  Didn't she promise?
emoticonYes. She did.
emoticonWell. Well?
emoticonWell, I think she has been too busy.
emoticonHuh. Not any busier than us.
emoticonThan we
emoticon Pbbbtth  Not interested in a grammar lesson, you conjunctionist.
emoticon(grins) Okay. But I think she hasn't written about the camera because she's not sure if she plopped all that $$$ down for the wrong purchase.

    Fujifilm FinePix S1 16.4 MP Digital camera

emoticon What? What? What?
emoticonAnd don't go all Brian Gavillan on me.  You know it's true.



emoticon Well, weren't you just sick and tired of all that dithering she was doing? Gawd - she read so many camera reviews that every time we looked at TheInternets we were bombarded with camera ads.
emoticonYes. I was tired of it and the truth is, I think she'd set herself an impossible goal.  I don't think there is a ThePerfectCamera - at least, not a perfect point and shoot one.
emoticon And I HATED the old camera - I didn't even want to pick it up any more. And I resented not being able to take pictures.
emoticonYou're right. I noticed we'd just stopped taking it with us. It was so tedious to have to hunt around for some background trees to hide the spots made by the scratches on the lens.  But I do think you were unfair with her, lusting after those super zooms.
emoticon OMG - but look what you can do with them. drool city!




emoticonAnd I'm not sure the dog photos look right - something about the edges ...

emoticonOh - I don't know - I think they look pretty good and the landscape photos are very nice




emoticonHmmm. Well - they're okay. But they have such little sensors that it's hard not to get noisy pictures.
 emoticon Noise shmoise.
emoticonWell. did you like those first photos we took.



emoticon (squirms a little) well. No. But don't you think ... it's not the camera's fault - it's ....
emoticonYes. I do think that we are pretty ignorant photographers.  When you see photographers in action - you know, the real ones - they just seem to point and shoot.  But really that's not what they're doing. They're twisting dials and pushing buttons and setting things up so the pictures all come out right.   Point and shoot is never going to be National Geographic. It's like those ads that use thin models and show them eating cheeseburgers with huge big bites - you get to thinking you too could be thin if you just open wide and bite.
Image result for taking a big bite

emoticon LOL yes. you're so right. It feels like you should just be able to go click click click and have prize photos. But that's just stupid. Well. You know I love it when we know stuff and I love to learn new things.  We can learn how to take better pictures.
emoticonYes. I think the more we learn about how photography works, the more we'll love that new camera.
emoticon I'm glad we bought that beginner's guide to photography book.


emoticonI am too - already we've improved on those first shots.
 

emoticon and don't you like that zoom lens? I mean - really - aren't you happy that you can get up close with those fragile wild life pictures? Did you even KNOW a frog had those mimicking camouflage teeth?


emoticonNope. No. I think it was a good thing to get the super zoom. We live in an area where wildlife abounds. It would be a shame to miss out on good quality closeups.
emoticon Besides - I don't feel like this is the last camera we'll ever buy. I mean - what if we get really good at photography - we might want a DSLR
emoticonLOL - you greedy puss you. Just looking for another opportunity for Retail Therapy.
emoticon(Grins) It's never too far away - but no. not any time soon. I want to become a better photographer and I'm ready to take that baby out and play with her.
emoticonSo? Let's Go.
emoticon Uh - and - uh ... let's just keep this between us. She'll never know - she can just think everything's hunky dory and never know we had this conversation.
emoticonYou think?
emoticon Nope. I just feel it's the right thing to do


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Missing Mama in the Springtime



On Easter Sunday we drove to the city to spend it with precious cousins. The day was beautiful, the temperature just right, and the winding drive through Virginia back roads was long enough that once we were into the second hour, Mr and Mrs Chatty ran out of things to say.  This might not have happened had we not just taken a somewhat shorter drive down these same back roads the day before, but once we were nestled in the car-cocoon of silence, the tiny emotional crack in my heart had a chance to split wide open and I began to yearn for my mama.

Easter Sunday was one of the days I would drive to the city to visit with Mama. Last year I took her daffodils. Every year I took her daffodils. Daffodils were her favorite flower and for some reason she never had very many. I, otoh, have thousands of them so I can be ... not just generous ... but lavish.  In the spring I would snip a cluster of them, wrap them in wet paper towels, pop them in a zip-lock bag, and head west - first to her home on the other side of the city, in later years to her assisted living apartment, and finally to the nursing home.

How her eyes would light up when I'd step through the door with my golden sunshine bouquet. Each enthusiastic greeting was completely sincere - as if it were the first time anybody had ever given her daffodils. I understand that. Every year, when they begin to open up along my lane, I feel like there has never been a flower before and now there is this swath of gold. There really is no flower quite like the daffodil.

She and I would sit with the bouquet between us and sniff its Easter scent. We'd touch each outer petal - the perianth - and praise it. We'd run fingers around the rim of the cups. We would discuss the color, the fleshy texture, the vivid eyes of the small flat ones. We would sigh.  One of us would say "Oh how I love daffodils."  The other would say "Oh, me too. They're my favorite flower."

Which is not exactly true since when the roses are in bloom, they are my favorite  flower, and the pansy! oh my - who doesn't love a pansy? And stocks, with their clove scent.  And gladiolas! Be Glad! And the snapdragon! How fruity they smell. They were the ubiquitous cut flower in bouquets sent to mothers of new babies back in my childhood, in my southern town. I can still remember Mama, in bed with the new baby in one arm and me, snuggled up close, beneath her other arm as she showed me how to pinch the sides of the blossom and make the dragon open and close its mouth.  Imagine that! A puppet flower!

It's odd that Mama didn't grow many daffodils since she had the greenest of green thumbs and could push a stick in the ground and a few weeks later it would blossom.  She was country born and bred - but at a time when country was actually within walking distance of town. She grew up in the tenant house down the slope from her grandmother's farm - not 2 miles outside of Johnstown PA - and walked to school all her life - in town.  Her dad was not a farmer - he was a mechanic - and an inventor - but her mother certainly had many farm girl skills.  According to Mama, her own mother didn't want anybody in the kitchen so Mama didn't learn to cook.  I say "according" because Mama wasn't at all above inventing a better story than the real one if it suited her. Neither did my utterly delightful mother-in-law. In fact, I once caught Grandma (M-i-L) in an outright fabrication and called her on it - to which she replied, "I know it's not true but it makes the story so much better!"

Well. I utterly adored both of those women - Grandma running a close second only to Mama - who really was the pinnacle, the shining star, the most beloved woman in my life.  I was doubly blessed.  Come to think of it - neither of them ever bragged about their cooking - and Mama would go so far as to look up with tears in her eyes when Daddy complained about one of her odd meals and say "You knew I wasn't a cook when you married me!"

I don't actually know if she really was barred from the kitchen as a girl or if her sisters did learn from their mother to become good cooks or if she just hated cooking or if she was too busy dreaming of her next painting to pay attention to cooking. We always had free reign in the kitchen so long as we cleaned up after ourselves. She assigned meal preparation to her daughters as quickly as they grew interested in it and by the time the last one had moved out, Daddy had retired and they ate reheated canned stuff in front of the nightly news.

Springtime memories of Mama all seem to pivot around naughty girl experiences: Skipping church to walk along the James River, where, she declared, "I'm sure God can hear our prayers just as easily as in church."   Or maybe taking a day off from school just to go walk the paths of Maymont Park.  Or a lunch in a restaurant - an extravagance in those days when restaurant meals were for special occasions only.

For all that Mama grew up in the country - she wasn't much of an outdoors girl. What she loved to do was paint - and draw - and mold things with clay. My house is full of her artwork and I have only a tiny sampling.  That was her life when she wasn't ferrying around 4 girls; to music lessons, school functions, rehearsals or interesting sites around the city. As only a come-here can - she explored her city constantly, tracking down parks and tiny museums and finding tours of local industries that gave away free samples. She honored where she lived more than anyone I ever knew.

Image result for gladiolusBut the most precious springtime memory I have of Mama is of the day we planted gladiolas - a day I wrote down years ago in an essay called Love in the Garden - and here is the important part - the bit about Mama and how much she wrapped me in love in the springtime in the garden:

... when I seek love, and not just romance, in the garden I harden back to an afternoon - probably April, likely I was 8, and home from school on one of those oh, so precious and rare days when Mama would let me skip school for a time-out day. Mama was planting gladiolas. “GLAD- iolas” I thought. Glad to be out of school. Glad to be digging in the dirt. Glad to have Mama all to myself. In my memory there are no other people on earth.  The flat round corms, like turbans or the crown on one of the kings in the Christmas crèche, some of them with last year’s ghost shape still on top. The new ones that were a little more golden colored than the ones who had spent time in the ground in August, fattening for the following spring, feeling smooth against my fingertips.  But most of all I remember how loved I felt as we talked quietly, easily, unhurriedly, and prepared, as gardeners have done since the beginning of time, for summer’s bounty. When I plant gladiolas now, I always feel that warmth of Mama’s love washing around me.