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Posts Tagged ‘family’

A long-time family friend always says goodbye by saying “Be good!” My father always answers the same way: “Have fun!”

You can see which side Samuel Clemens occupied.

“Be good + you will be lonesome. Mark Twain” British Library digitised image from page 10 of “Following the Equator. A journey around the world [With a portrait.]”

I at least try to split the difference.

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Today’s Astronomy Photo of the Day is a video, two and a half minutes of the Perseid meteor shower as seen from the  Indian Astronomical Observatory in Hanle, India.

Video Credit & Copyright: Vikas Chander & Dorje Angchuk; Music: Tea Time via PremiumBeat

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Watching this takes me back. We would wake up at three in the morning and head to the back yard to watch meteors burn through the atmosphere. I’d anchor myself on Orion, my first and still favorite constellation, then watch the sky for the next magical streak of green.

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I sit beside the fire and think 
Of all that I have seen
Of meadow flowers and butterflies
In summers that have been

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
In autumns that there were
With morning mist and silver sun
And wind upon my hair

I sit beside the fire and think
Of how the world will be
When winter comes without a spring 
That I shall ever see

For still there are so many things
That I have never seen
In every wood in every spring
There is a different green

I sit beside the fire and think
Of people long ago
And people that will see a world
That I shall never know

But all the while I sit and think
Of times there were before
I listen for returning feet 
And voices at the door

― J.R.R. Tolkien

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Photo by Murilo Silva on Unsplash

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It seems we each have a fundamental core where we feel most comfortable, or most ourselves. It may come as no surprise to those who have spent any time on this site, but for me, it’s books and food. 

Those aren’t all I’m made of, of course, but those two elements were established early, before my memories became fixed. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love books and food. One of my first real recollections is sitting on the side steps of the porch eating an artichoke with my father, and it’s hard not to feel happy in a kitchen or library.

Now, if I’d had different experiences growing up I might have become an engineer or a tailor or a computer scientist. I make things and sew and code but not with the intuitive ease some have. Instead, it’s books. And food. I’m ok with that. 

* * *

I’m in the middle of a writing class, designing story ideas and characters. It got me thinking about how experiences become preferences and worldviews underpinning our actions. 

My father and I visited the Grand Canyon once, road-tripping north to the South Rim to hike and camp. The trip was great, full of summer heat and happiness, astonishing vistas and challenging trails.

I may also have spent some of the visit sitting by the edge, reading a book. Because we had a few minutes and that’s how I roll.

* * *

Like places, people have layers. Understanding how time and exposure, pressure and purpose combine makes it easier to build complex and interesting motivations, or to understand our own.

We just have to sit back and consider what we’re made of.

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Photo by Jenn Wood on Unsplash

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I’m looking for a good German plum cake recipe. There are (of course) many versions available online, but the problem with that is you never quite know what you’re getting, and I only have the one batch of plums.

There’s also an added complication. I am looking for a plum cake recipe because I made one as a teenager, and it was astoundingly good. Flavorful pastry base, creamy plum filling, and delightful streusel crumble on top. Now, that remembered experience is the standard to which I hold all future plum cakes. 

Was it actually as good as it is in my mind? Maybe not, but I think so:) My mother also remembers the cake. It was her favorite type of German dessert, from when she lived in that country once upon a time. She brought home a classic German cookbook, source of the original plum cake recipe. 

I hold out hope that she still has the cookbook, and can find that recipe, but until then, I am on the hunt for the kuchen of my dreams.

* * *

Photo by Alexandra Kikot on Unsplash

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Grandma, Smiling Down

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My father is going through old boxes of photographs and other memorabilia and sent me a story, one of my first, called “The Devil’s Crutch.” I couldn’t write or (as you’ll see) grasp the intricacies of grammar, geography, or complete sentences, but I dictated it to my mother. 

First we have the story from when I was, what, maybe three years old? I‘ve changed since then (I can even hold a pen all by myself!), but I tried to understand at least a little of what might have been going through my head that day. Then for fun, I turned it into a drabble.

(My father seemed particularly taken by the word “smitchey.” I no longer know what it means but I kept it.)

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The Devil’s Crutch

Once upon a time there was a old, old house up in the south pole. There in the house there is a little room in the playroom and in the room there was a lot of dust. In the room there was a lot of dolls. The dolls didn’t have dust on them because a little smitchey girl had been playing with them. The house was haunted. And this couple moved in the haunted house and every night a ghost came out at twelve o’clock and every night when the ghost came out the couple woke up and saw the ghost and the ghost disappeared whenever the couple saw the ghost. The ghost disappeared. One night the father and the mother was sleeping on the sofa and the devil’s came instead of the ghost. And the owner of the crutch came to the house with the crutch and the owner of the crutch was the devil.

The End

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Once there was a haunted old house way up in the South Pole. It had a playroom of dusty dolls, a grandfather clock and a crutch like bleached bone. 

A family with a smitchey little girl arrived. Every midnight the towering clock cried out. Even when the mother stopped the pendulum, and the father hid the key.

The girl saw a little ghost waving from inside the clock.

She slept huddled under the playroom table. The dolls said it was safer that way.

One night the clock stayed silent and the ghost hid.

And the owner came for his crutch. 

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Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

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A Silver Lining

Thanks to the dynamics of heat, humidity, and Tropical Storm Fred muscling his way up the East Coast, most of my family members down South were under a tornado warning today. 

My father texted to say that they were in the basement because tornado. Cue a round of frantic texting to make sure my hard-of-hearing mother had, in fact, heard the warning. Half an hour later the danger had passed and thankfully, everyone was ok.

Those of you living in places like Tornado Alley, the Caribbean, tsunami-prone coastal region, anywhere currently under a fire warning or similar hot spot may not be impressed, but this is one of the first times my family has had to head to the basement for safety, hunkering down like Neolithic ancestors in caves. I doubt it will be the last. Extreme weather and other such events are on the rise. That’s the bad news. 

The good news is that unlike our ancestors, we have first responders, health care workers, disaster preparedness centers, and we can see it coming.

Stay safe! I’m off to back up my hard drive. And to celebrate with homemade pizza and ice cream, because who doesn’t appreciate a silver lining?

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Photo by NOAA on Unsplash

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My ancestors continue to get younger, it seems. My mother found a portrait of herself as a baby and sent it my way. I like both general and family history, plus I was happy to have another chance to practice my photo restoration skills:

So cute!

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Adultitude

My nephew is one of the thousands of young adults starting college this fall. I’ve seen a lot of “things I wish I’d known” and “advice for the college-bound” articles, some of which are on point for this thoughtful, capable, and confident kid, some not as much.

There’s the obvious, of course: be kind, don’t drink too much, call if you need bail money, that sort of thing.

All good advice.

But if I had to boil the foundations of a constructive mindset down to just one thing? I saw this quote the other day and thought it was pretty on point:

No matter who or what or where they are, 

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” 
― Bill Nye

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