52 Photos ~ Hearts

Winter heart

Barn heart

Second in a series of two

Did I have a song in my head this week? Of course, I did…

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These photos and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ Crooked line

Crooked line

River within the river

Snow bridge

Morning lines

Rivers in bark

Rose lines

I went to the doctor, I went to the mountains
I looked to the children, I drank from the fountains
There’s more than one answer to these questions
pointing me in crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.

–The Indigo Girls, “Closer to Fine”

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These photos and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ My reflection

Outside Inside

As I mentioned before, these weekly photo themes often put a song in my head. This week’s song is Reflections, a Burt Bacharach song from the 1973 movie Lost Horizon, which I’ve never seen. That movie was a remake of Frank Capra’s 1937 film of the same name, also which I’ve never seen. Both movies were based on a novel by James Hilton. Which I’ve never read.

But I know the song. Note for note. Word for word. And this is because I heard it about five million times (I’m exaggerating only slightly) when I was about 10 or 11 years old.

And this is because my parents chose to use the song as background music for a slide show they were producing for a client. Some of you may remember the days before desktop computers, before pocket video cameras, before Powerpoint. Back then, if you wanted to make a presentation to share with your company or clients, you could make flip charts on paper, or draw on a black board (white boards also didn’t exist). If you had a bigger budget, you could hire someone to make a film that you would display with a whirring film projector on a pull-down or pop-up screen in the conference room.

Or, you could take photographs of your subject matter, develop them on slide film, arrange the slides in a carousel slide projector, record a narrator on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, record background music on another track of the same tape, and then synchronize the narration/music sound track with the slides.

The entire process is a lot of work. It takes awhile, and it’s quite manual. As kids, my sister and I didn’t see a lot of the work that went into these slide shows (and there were many), but the one part we were submerged in was that final sequencing/synchronizing where my parents would spend hours and hours every evening making sure the slides were in the right order and that the next slide was shown at exactly the right pause in the narration and the right beat in the music.

Tape player on. Click. Advance slide. Click. Advance slide. Click. Stop recorder. Rewind. Play. Click. Click. Stop. Rewind. Play. Click. Click. Click. Click. Stop. Rewind. Play.

A painstaking process. Whereby you learn every. single. note.

Which reminds me of the hours that we would spend trying to figure out the lyrics of a song by playing a tiny portion of the song on the record player, lifting the needle, writing the lyrics we thought we heard down, starting the song from the beginning to verify what we heard, then moving on to the next line and the next.

Hours spent with our heads down, as close to the speakers as possible, grateful for clear enunciators, cursing Elton John for his slurry diction.

All of which has nothing whatsoever to do with the photograph at the top of this post.

Unless you take it as a metaphor: standing on a present-day city street, wrapped in a puffy winter coat, nose pressed against the shopfront window, the contrast of inside and outside, past and present, and the layers of reflection that dance between them.

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This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ Wide open spaces

Phoebe's field

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

–Wallace Stevens

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This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ Something really small

Pu Erh Pearl

Fujian Silver Needle

Linden

Mango

Black Dragon Pearls

Fujian Rain

Tardis blend

Barley

Seven Fairies Flower

Mango - brewed

Convection

Tea at the Palaz of Hoon

Not less because in purple I descended
The western day through what you called
The loneliest air, not less was I myself.

What was the ointment sprinkled on my beard?
What were the hymns that buzzed beside my ears?
What was the sea whose tide swept through me there?

Out of my mind the golden ointment rained,
And my ears made the blowing hymns they heard.
I was myself the compass of that sea:

I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not but from myself;
And there I found myself more truly and more strange.

–Wallace Stevens

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These photos and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ The first day of 2014

New Year's tradition

Before

Tabletop Toronto

On New Year’s day, we always do a jigsaw puzzle. We never finish it that day, but we start it soon after we wake up (however late that is) and go all day, snacking on New Year’s Eve leftovers as needed, turning on the lights around 4 so we can continue into the evening.

This year’s puzzle was a doozy: the map of downtown Toronto in three levels – the street grid from the lake shore up to Dundas (and all 640ish pieces, devilishly, the same shape and size); a second layer of just the city streets fashioned out of foam pieces with cutouts for buildings; and then a set of 110 plastic models of the skyscrapers and other historic buildings to be inserted into the proper cutouts in the foam, on the streets where they live.

We started it together, but I finished it alone a couple nights later. All except for two buildings, one which was missing (did I place it in the wrong place?) and one extra, that I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where to put…

It’s kind of nice to start the year off with a manageable project. The parameters are defined, and we all (M, H, my sister, and I) get to contribute as we like.

For some reason, I usually end up working the puzzle upside down. In this case, it felt particularly apt, taking the view south, from where my grandparents lived, imagining the car, subway, or bus ride from Bathurst to downtown, the walk to the harbor front, the ferry to Centre Island, the view across the choppy lake from the country where I felt at home to the country where I lived.

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These photos and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ Holiday traditions

Holiday tradtions

Between an early Hanukkah, a late Thanksgiving, and Christmas arriving spot on time, haven’t we been observing holiday traditions for months now?

So it feels.

We have a handful of holiday traditions, but we’re just as apt to throw tradition out the window, paring the celebration down to a few essentials to mark the day as significant.

For instance, for Hanukkah, we light the menorah every night. Well, most nights. And sometimes more than one menorah, depending on our moods. And we make at least one batch of latkes during the week, sometimes eating most of them just as they come out of the pan, after they’ve cooled slightly on paper towels. Since the days of H’s tiny childhood, every night we hide a blue plastic dreidel (which conceals a few chocolate coins) somewhere in the house for her to find.

Most years for Christmas, we make candied orange peels and beef jerky to give to our friends and family. Some years we make jam, or cajeta, or cookies, or granola, or candy, or bread, or pickles, or applesauce, or membrillo. Some years everyone gets some. Some years, only family.

Without fail, we cut our Christmas tree with old friends every year. Most years we take the dogs. Some years, it seems a bother.

What doesn’t seem to change are the holiday movies. Somewhere in late November, we start singing, “I’m dreaming of a White Christmas…” and then we debate if it’s too early to start watching Christmas movies.

Nope. How can be it too early?

We watch a variety every year, but the three that we always seem to return to are the classic, singable “White Christmas,” the gloriously moody (and funny) 1951 version of “A Christmas Carol” (or “Scrooge”), starring Alistair Sim, and the gentle, light-hearted “We’re No Angels” (the original 1955, thank you very much).

Maybe one or all of these are your family’s favorites, too. Just in case you haven’t seen them, here are a couple excerpts to give you a taste.

First, one of our family’s favorite scene from any movie, the part in “We’re No Angels” where Bogart, Ustinov, and Ray debate how and when to tell Cousin Andre that he’s just taken a box with Adolf, the poisonous snake, into his room.

“He knows already.”

That line is like a perfectly baked little cookie we eat only once a year, crisp and full of flavor.

Second, the delightfully fun ending to “Scrooge,” after Ebenezer has been transformed by his visits from the spirits of Christmas. I’m particularly partial to the scene that takes place on the staircase, around 3:40:

If Ebenezer’s rebirth doesn’t bring your heart some holiday cheer, I don’t know what will.

What are your favorite holiday movies (or songs, or books)?

Whatever your traditions, or the holidays you celebrate, the people you are with, or the people you are missing, the foods you eat, the movies you watch, the stories you tell, we wish you all a beautiful week, and if it applies, a very Merry Christmas!

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This photo and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.

52 Photos ~ Comfort and joy

Heart

Moon burst

Nextdoor Neighbor

There is comfort in the contours of a dog’s paw. The rough pads, separated by soft tufts of fur, curved to fit each other like matched puzzle pieces or continental plates. The dog flying effortlessly across an ice-glazed trail, the rhythmic clicking of nails on wood floors, the four paws collected in a bouquet bundle when he naps.

The flickery glow of the wood stove is an obvious comfort, both mentally and physically. All day long this week, I’m orbiting around that metal box, sticking as close as I can without scorching myself, feeding it stick after stick. The splinters are less comforting, but the price we pay.

A full hay barn, like a full wood pile, heating oil tank, or bank account, is a comfort. A worry deferred.

The pile of books to read is a comfort. A barrier against the dark and the cold, a plan for the long nights, anticipated escapes to others’ imaginations.

The moon, just beyond arm’s reach, neighborly yet remote, is a great comfort. You know I prefer light and warmth, but all the same, it’s hard to gaze lovingly at the sun. The moon, though, you can take it in, watch its phases, and realize, sometimes gradually, sometimes with a jolt, that you are not alone.

We here, riding this lush rock, are billions among billions, though all we generally see of our nearest neighbors are pinpricks of light on black velvet nights. The moon, though, constant companion, tells us we are in context of something else, and multitudes of something elses in this galaxy and the next and the next and the next.

It’s a comfort to find yourself in company on a long dark night.

And then to realize that all you know and have known, all you have loved, is contained here on this ball of dirt and rock and water. Everything you’ve read or seen. Every hand you’ve held. Every heart that has broken yours. Every note of every song you sang to yourself on your most miserable or most elated days. Everyone you’ve lost. It’s all here, conserved, blue and gauzy when beheld from the moon.

Last week, our friend Clyde made sugar on snow for an audience of children and me. I’d never seen it made before. I’d read about it, so I thought I knew what it was. But as she boiled the maple syrup, then drizzled it, gentle spoonful by gentle spoonful, onto the fresh collected snow, I knew I had no idea about this little alchemy. The way the syrup solidified, filigreed on the snow, the way the children, then I, dipped our forks in, spun them like spaghetti eaters, lifted the golden candy with flecks of snow to the light, swallowed the sweetness.

I have no idea what in the world I don’t know. And this, too, is a comfort.

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These photos and post are in response to this week’s theme for the 52 Photos Project. You should participate, too! Read about how it works here. You can see a gallery of everyone’s photos for this week’s theme here. To see a list of all my blog posts for this project, go here.