For 43 years now, this birthday guy and I have been proof that men and women can be best friends without all that romantic nonsense that seems required when a boy and girl become friends. We have had a fairly gender-less relationship.
It’s not that we haven’t had a bunch of different roles with each other. We’ve tried ’em all, believe me. 43 years is a long time.
For 30 years or more of those years, we had a delightful tradition of competing over our birthdays…who could outwit, out do, out surprise the other? My favorites from him involved dinner on a train with friends, a sunset cruise with his family, and the really sneaky one, when I met him for a drink in a very dark, very fancy bar, where it took me the better part of an embarrassing hour to realize all the other patrons in the bar were friends of mine…just waiting for me to discover them and be surprised! My favorite for him was the time I had a limo drive him all around town to very specific locations. Waiting for him in each destination, was the friend (sometimes a long-lost friend) he had shared a memorable event with in that very location. That one I was so proud of because the logistics (arrival times especially) were a nightmare and this was before GPS, cell phone contact, etc. It all went off perfectly. The evening culminated in dinner at his family’s favorite Mexican restaurant, and by then, our limo driver, having witnessed all these emotional reunions, was so connected, he joined us for dinner.
Each year, this tradition became more dramatic and elaborate until I think we both maxed out and silently agreed to just stop, and go back to corny, insulting birthday cards.
We do have our other ongoing battles for sure (sometimes feeling like the sibling role we adopt with each other). When we were younger, the fights we had were, uh, intense, heated, passionate, dramatic, elaborate, but always clean. He is the person in my adult life who taught me, through experience, people could be really angry with each other, and it didn’t mean they would leave or the relationship would be permanently damaged….or damaged at all, for that matter. Not my experience growing up, believe me.
Here’s a milder example of one of our disagreements.
I believe art is about taste, and only “good” if you happen to personally like it. He believes art is inherently either good or bad. Different upbringing for sure. He is widely educated in, and had a lifetime of exposure to historically and world famous art. His whole family is well versed in the field. He knows “good art” and will tell you exactly what’s wrong with “bad art”. He’s just that informed.
I, on the other hand, have very little interest in or knowledge of “real art”…although, when he and his family took me to the Getty museum, I have to admit getting goose bumps standing in front of several paintings. But I couldn’t tell you now who was on exhibit at the time.
I think, because my Dad taught me so young, to observe the “art” in even the smallest details around me, I instead fell in love with photography. Starting in the 4th grade, I never went anywhere without a camera. Are you old enough to remember that cheap Brownie camera so many of us had? Then the Instamatic, and I also had a Polaroid or two. I even got my first real job working in one of those little drive-thru Fotomat booths. People were thrilled to be able to get their pictures developed in ONE DAY!! And I loved being around all those people who loved snapping pictures like I did.
One of our ongoing debates has been about photography. Can it be “art”? He has leaned toward “No”. But to me, there is nothing more beautiful than capturing the “art” that actually exists…in real life…right there in front of you and your camera!
Being such a good friend, sometime in the early 1980’s, he gave me my first real camera…a beautiful Nikon, with amazing telephoto and macro lens! In some ways, it was wasted on me as I never really maximized my knowledge of that great camera. But I did get hooked on that macro lens. Imagine some 35 years ago, being able to take a close-up of a butterfly’s feet, or the mountainous texture of wrinkled blue velvet. Of course, now most of our phones can do that, but back then?? People seemed impressed because that kind of close up was so new. I kinda got it in my head that I might be ever so slightly “artistic” with my camera…a bit of a stretch, but the bottom line is I became completely enthralled with photography and it has been one of my favorite hobbies (passions? obsessions?) ever since. I LOVE taking pictures.
I have my best friend to thank for that.
So for his birthday (very few know his actual birth year, because he looks and acts much younger than his age) I am dedicating this post to him. To say thank you for the life-lessons, the experiences, the joy all these years, and for sharing his family with me. But most especially, to thank him for finally finding his princess…a lovely modelesque, blond-bombshell, adorned in all her pinks!! (He’s met his match with her, educationally, artistically, and she is so wonderful, she may well bump him into the 2nd best friend position!)
Oh and to say thanks for that now almost antique camera.
Here are some of my favorite photos, many of which I deserve no artist credit for because they were completely accidental. But they are my version of Art, so I share them in love and gratitude. There are a lot of them but in keeping with our tradition, I had to go BIG and be dramatic!
Hope you enjoy! (If you want to see an individual photo bigger, click on it and it should enlarge.)
Flowers and other growing things
Hummers and Crows (different from the other birds…)
I would love comments!!! Even if they are to debate!!
green eggs and ham, anyone?
I disappeared again. Not that you would necessarily notice, but I am house sitting for three weeks and it has turned out to be more time and energy consuming than I expected.
I thought I’d be writing beautiful posts and taking amazing photos to share, but I am exhausted!
It’s a lovely home in a beautiful (and surprising) setting…a bit of country right here in the city!
My primary charges, two wonderful dogs, are a huge handful of sweet, with more energy than hummingbirds!
Even though this property is unusually big for the area where we live, besides playing in the yard, the dogs require a lot of additional walking every day, especially the small Setter. Even though he only has three legs (a recent change for him), he could run for hours, like a full size Irish Setter!
I discovered on my first day here, because of my ailing hip, I have a hard time even making it up the hill (driveway) from the house to the road, so have had to take the dogs in the car to find some flat land to exercise on.
Then there are the fish…I have no idea how many there are but their huge tank needs cleaning…badly. The schedule says not until Wednesday, but I’m going to have to break down and do it today…which requires remembering all the faucets and hose nozzles and twists of valves and different positions and, and. and…
Day one vs Day six
Even as my temporary employers were demonstrating the process before they left, the tank overflowed all over the floor. (Hmm, I wonder where they put that huge, clever twist-able mop…you know, just in case…) And the big tube they used to suck the water out, they almost lost a tiny fish up that tube, right in front of me!
Maybe I’ll just fill the bathtub and let the fish have a leisurely soak while I’m cleaning their home.
Lastly, but actually first each day, are the 7 chickens and 3 ducks! I panicked the first day as I could have sworn they told me there were 13 chickens. I knew they had had a recent Great Horned Owl incident and were down one duck so that first day when I only counted 7 chickens, I lost it! My people were still en-route to their destination so I could not confirm poultry numbers for 36 hours!! Stressful to say the least.
Then, on my second day, I had to quickly learn the difference between a chicken that is almost dead, (unmovable, head lolling to one side, stuck inside the laying house) and what’s called “broody”.
I finally found this article which helped immensely with my panic and guilt! Interesting read, whether or not you ever care for chickens. I moved her yesterday so we’ll see if she stayed moved this morning. (Nope, she was back!)
The whole thing was strangely poignant, until I remembered all those years in my late thirties and early forties when I would have done obscene things to be able to have another child!! And, I have “adopted” countless adult children over the years.
I understand “broody”.
The next issue with these chickens is a plethora of eggs! I’ve carried 2 and 1/2 dozen eggs over to my nearby home to share with my neighbors.
All in all, this has been a wonderful, enlightening experience.
One week down. Two to go!!!
Ola, the Wonder Dog, left us this week. She hadn’t been herself , activity-wise for a while, but her essence never changed.
“Ola” (the African definition, not “hello” in Spanish), was rescued as a precious puppy, by my sister and her husband more than 10 years ago. Soon after they brought her home, they left on an amazing trip abroad for several weeks. So James and I got to be Ola’s Foster Parents while they were gone.
We seriously bonded with her during that time. I mean, look at this face! Who wouldn’t??
John and Lenore had wanted a young dog while their elderly one, Lily, the Three Legged Miracle, was still able to teach a new dog the lay of the land.
This family lives on a glorious piece of land on San Juan Island. The property includes lots of acreage, a large pond with a variety of water fowl, a Bamboo Farm, and arguably some of the most beautiful and prolific vegetable and flower gardens in the Northwest.
And they live in what James and I lovingly call the Hobbit House. Built by John, using lots of found and custom designed materials, it is so fairy tale-like, you are transported to another world.
I write about this place, our second home, often. Here’s one example:
When they chose Ola as a puppy, they wanted another smallish dog that would not overwhelm Lily, and they predicted Ola was another small, lab mix’ just like Lily.
Being very familiar with Rottweilers and Pit bulls, I took one look at Ola’s sweet face, and said “Uh oh.”
Not many months later, Ola had grown into a HUGE, beautiful, regal dog, over 100 pounds. But she still seemed guided by that angel on her chest.
Lily immediate adopted young Ola, and trained her to be a “stick right close to your Humans” dog.
No fences in the Hippie Valley part of San Juan Island. Dogs (and deer) are free to roam and except for the occasional “play date” with a neighbor Dog, both Lily and Ola were right there, watching over the homestead, 24/7.
Lily left us not long after Ola joined the family but the two of them had some really good times together before she died. She taught Ola how to play Tug O War with ropes and sticks when Ola was still very young.
And she trained Ola to leave the cats alone (probably for her own safety!)
Ola became such a big part of our house-sitting experience all these years. For several weeks at a time, she became “our” dog again. No matter how much time passed between our babysitting jobs, she would greet us with 100 pounds of enthusiasm!
She hung out with us where ever we went,
and stayed close to us at home.
Yep, she was our dog…..But only until her real parents came home!
Ola was always within feet (or calling distance) of John and Lenore during their daily routines.
Ola was one of the sweetest, most gentle dogs I’ve ever met. I will miss her so much. I can only imagine how long it will take her family to get used to the huge empty space she leaves behind.
Good Dog, Ola. Good Dog…