It’s Still Your Birthday, Even if You’re Gone

A post from last year on this date- posting it again in memory of my brother.

Today is my brother’s birthday. Or it would have been his birthday were he still alive, though I feel that just because he is gone does not make August 6th no longer his birthday. His age will forever remain at 54, but the date will forever be his birth date. He died by his own hand in February of 2015. I wrote about him on the first anniversary of his death here.He wasn’t married, had no children, and struggled so the last years of his life. Today I choose to remember him before all that, to think of him long ago before the demons set in. To remember him with rose colored glasses on, filtering out the sadness and anger. Remembering him with a smile.82802100-SLD-001-0015

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Fickle Weather Brings a Bonus

The forecast for this morning was rain after 8 am, so at 6:30 I drove to a local park for my walk, hoping to take some photos along the way. I arrived to find the sun rising, just breaking through the clouds.

I started my walk with the sun rising in the East and as I walked South West the sky looked dark and threatening

I continued on, seeing a Northern Flicker bathed in sunlight as he faced into the rising sun

I could hear thunder in the distance, but where I was walking was still light and fairly sunny. Then ahead of me, in the direction where those dark skies were, there was a rainbow and the skies were now blue!

I can only imagine it must have rained wherever that was, leaving a rainbow across the sky. The camera could not do justice to what it looked like in real life- it was so brilliant, so bright, you could see every color like each was on fire. I even got a little choked up at the sight of it, it was so beautiful. I then turned my gaze across the sky and realized it reached all the way across, something I had never seen before. It stretched from ground to ground, but I could not capture the whole thing on either side, but wanted to catch that arc.

Just as I got the shot the rain started, quickly and fiercely, so I ran for that building on left and took cover, as my car was parked a mile away! In less than 5 minutes it stopped raining, at which time I headed back towards the car. On the way I spotted this little guy, feathers wet from the downpour

Just as I got into my car the skies opened once again. I smiled all the way home, having seen the sun, the rain, and a rainbow all in an hours span of time.

The Things We Remember

My husband and I were in the car driving, listening to the radio, when Mozart’ s Serenade 13 in G Major (Eine kleine Nachtmusik) came on the radio. In case you are not familiar, here it is.

My mother immediately came to mind. I could picture her at the ironing board, her glass Pepsi bottle with the sprinkler top on the ironing board, as she ironed my father’s shirts. When she was ironing she always had music on. This was my introduction to Mozart. I am able to hum along with every piece that was on that album. Her other favorite was Harry Belafonte. The album cover was red with a photo of Harry Belafonte on the cover. Day-O was a favorite, but Jamaica Farewell was the song she sang with. My mother did not have a singing voice, this was no secret in our family, she could hold a tune, but her voice was not strong. But when she was at the ironing board and Jamaica Farewell came on she didn’t care. Not only did she sing, she danced as she ironed. It was more swaying with the music as she sang, sprinkling the shirts to wet them and then pressing the iron to them, gliding it across. All to the calming beat of Jamaica Farewell.

Music is so often tied to our memories, we hear a song that takes us back to where we were in life at the time. It surprised me at how vivid this memory was, how my association with these songs allowed me to conjure up an image so clear in my mind some close to 50 years later. I smiled remembering those ironing moments, when my mother, not one to reveal much of herself, or to let her guard down, was able to do so behind her ironing board with iron in hand. To come out of herself a bit, and perhaps that is why I remember it so strongly. It was unlike her to be so uninhibited.

As my husband and I continued to drive, I looked up Jamaica Farewell on my phone and played it out loud. I still knew every word.

All Seasons: Summer

ALL SEASONS is about any experience you may have during the season -the beautiful, the fun,weather, nature, and anything else.

I love the summer, I don’t mind the heat, I prefer it over the cold of winter and even the chill of fall. I love the long days, when the sun is up early, the birds singing along with its rising. Days spent at the beach, visiting a park, walking with my camera capturing the beauty around me.

 

Summertime…..

The beach season has arrived and the weather has cooperated so that we were able to go twice this week. An hour and 1/4 drive and we leave the suburbs behind and arrive on the NJ shore, where the streets are lined with small bungalows and houses with large wrap around front porches.

This year we joined the rest of the beach crowd and purchased a wonderful carry all that is made to wheel on the beach- rather than breaking our backs carrying everything ourselves. What a difference!! There’s a bar to hang our chairs, a spot for the umbrella on the side, and room to spare for the rest of our things. 

Yesterday the wind was wild- we sat near the water for about an hour until we had to seek refuge alongside the dunes which blocked out most of the wind and kept our umbrella from blowing inside out. I have been trying my hand at Sudoku puzzles, but I am really more of a crossword kind of girl. All those numbers and boxes and columns make me crazy, but slowly I am getting the hang of it, and time at the beach allows me to keep practicing. I am also still trying to capture shots of the seagulls in flight- and still failing miserably. These two must have been coasting slowly with the wind allowing me get them.

Blue skies and umbrellas
and of course iced coffee and this year’s wrist bands that show I paid to get on the beach!

 

Father’s Day-My Father Myself

Father’s Day….. every few minutes a new post seems to pop up on Facebook or WordPress. Lovely reminiscences about fathers that are no longer here, fathers who played major roles in the lives of their children, fathers whose children are estranged from them.

My father was a complicated man; loving on one side, the other side a short fuse with a temper. Giving, but don’t cross him or his vindictive nature would come out. He could cut people off and out of his life. I share many of his traits, and often wonder if it is learned behavior or genetics, or a combination of both. He and I  became estranged for almost 14 years through my 30’s & 40’s. His doing, not mine. A new wife, a different life, his ego all contributing factors. I was glad I was old enough to understand the whys, and glad that while I was growing up he had always been there for me. I needed him less as an adult. We reconciled 4 years before he died when I found out he was sick. I thanked him before he died for playing such an instrumental part in my becoming who I was as an adult. The many good qualities I had that I knew came from his teaching.

He grew up poor with an alcoholic father and no education past high school, but succeeded in rising above it and away from it, following the lead of people willing to help him, observing people, paying attention to how they got to where they got to, and reaching those heights himself because of it. Did he have a darker side, yes, but I am happy to remember what was so wonderful about him, and understand where the darkness came from and why it was a part of him and accept it.

One of my earliest memories (I was 5) is of us going bird watching together. He was an avid bird watcher and part of a club. We would leave the house before daybreak, and meet his birding group. I remember spotting a Snowy Owl once- a major sighting! My love of nature and birds stems from those early morning trips.

He loved music and loved to sing. He had hoped to become a professional singer in his early 20’s, but real life came along and he needed to be able to make a living. His love for music was infused throughout our home-he always sang to us and for us, he played the banjo- old folk songs with verses we could all join in on.

My father recorded a few songs in a studio when he was thinking he could turn his singing into a career. The recordings were on 78 rpm records. Shortly before he died I was able to have the recordings converted to CD. I remembered hearing the recordings as a child, but had literally not heard them in 45 years. At the sound of the first note of him singing, what a rush of emotion- music or a song can always take you back to another place and time- but to hear his voice! What a gift to be able to hear that beautiful voice again.

His favorite poem was Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.

He read it to me many times, and always reminded me of the importance the following lines held for him.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

I am thankful to have had a father that understood me, helped me to grow as a person, and who lives within in me. I feel my ability to be a good listener, to search for deeper meaning in things, comes from him. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to tell him those things before he died. I made the following photo montage with one of his recordings playing in the background, if you’d like to take a listen.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunny Gardens on a Rainy Monday

It is a dreary and cold Monday morning here. It is June but my heat has come on in the house a few times over the past week because the morning temps are so cold. Yesterday we caught the early sunshine of the day and visited a beautiful  garden on Long Island in New York. Here are some of the sights we saw that I will carry with me today as the rain is coming once again. Hope you have a sunny week!