This first shot (below) I did not take (obviously, because I am in the the photo, but it is one of my most important photographs. It’s a picture of me with my very best friend, taken by my other very best friend.
We are all gathered on the beach in Port Townsend to do a Good-bye Ritual for my three pets, all gone withing two months of each other. This beach was my 16 year old purebred German Shepherd’s favorite place to run free.
This next photo I caught by accident many years ago but to your eye, the true subject matter might not be obvious. This is my very precocious 16 month old grandson, who has come upon his mother, washing her hair in the huge spa bathtub, in a beautiful mountain cabin we had rented. He is mesmerized by what he sees through the door crack and stays frozen in this position, watching, for 5 full minutes (an eternity, if you have ever been around toddlers).
These two are of our kitten Lucy. Neither really captures her essence but I thought the photos were kind of interesting.
Boy, I am realizing how poignant photographs From the Back can be…at least the ones I have taken.
The one below is of my son, his wife, and their boys, on what would turn out to be their last Family Outing…EVER.
A few weeks ago, the photo above of my family would have been one of my saddest ever, but my beloved 18 year old Heart Cat just died so this last picture, right below, has usurped that position, for a while anyway…
really gets me…
**The “featured” photo at the top is my son, with his son, walking in the woods on San Juan Island.
This may be a stretch but I wrote the following letter on this Mother’s Day morning to all the wonderful Mom’s in my life. It may not be a town or region but I myself have always felt most “at home” when I am immersed into motherhood…where ever I am. It is definitely my favorite place in the world.
Dear Beautiful Mothers:
It is such a beautiful morning. I am sitting outside with my coffee, and I just told James, I feel a little like a Disney heroine this morning…like maybe Snow White? I am surrounded by singing birds, bunnies, squirrels and my favorite crows (who come to my call each day). Surely, the seven dwarfs will show up soon…
I am thinking about what Motherhood has meant to me in my life.
I feel such overwhelming gratitude today, Mother’s Day, 2018, even though I had to start “mothering” at such a young age. I did a lousy, uninformed job of it with my younger sisters. (I did do a great job of it with Fluffy, the Duck and with Moose, my very first dog though.)
But what I got from that experience of early mothering was my life’s “calling”. I have been a mother, in one form or another for my entire life. I have never wondered if it was the right “job” for me. And I continue to be absolutely amazed that, for a large part of my adult life, I actually got paid to be a professional Mom…to hundreds…a few of whom, still honor me with that title today. Amazing! Unexpected! And what a privilege!
I lost my own mother so young but was blessed to have many teachers, mentors, counselors, borrowed Moms, and relatives who all gave me a little mothering along my path. My “adopted” Elaine/Mom took that job on in such a serious and permanent way, she was my mother for more than twice the number of years I got to have my first Mom.
One of my most important and beloved Mentor/Teacher/Auntie/Moms has been Jean Clarke. Lucky for me she taught me very early in our almost 50-year long relationship, that none of us can ever have too many good Mom’s! So, I have tried to live that philosophy…mothering others when I can and accepting that from others when I need it.
When Michael was in his early twenties, I apologized to him for having to be gone so much during his school years. As a single mom, there were years when I worked 3 jobs and was in school full time!! (How did I ever do that??) He said the kindest thing ever. He said “Mom, it’s OK. Don’t you realize what you did for me? I was never alone. You surrounded me with lots of other mothers to take care of me.”
Anyway, I wanted you each to know I think about you on this day.
Those of you who helped me raise Michael…
Those who trusted me to mother you…
Those who mothered me (and those who generously shared your mothers with me) …
Those in my tribe who still mother me today…
Those still mothering younger children with such dedication, creativity and love…
Those who mothered your children so beautifully, they have now become lovely adults…
And those who may still be waiting for the return of that one kid you mothered who has needed to be so very far away from you…I really understand that one…
But the Mom I am most grateful for today is my daughter’s mother, Barbara. I could not raise that beautiful little baby girl and I had to wonder for more than 20 years what mother my daughter had been given to. Now, I know the answer and what a wonderful, kind, loving, open-hearted mother she is. It shows up in her daughter, our daughter…
I am blessed beyond belief to have my daughter’s family in my life.
Happy Mother’s Day and thanks to you all.
I couldn’t really send out enough thank-you bouquets, so I made you all a slide show from my morning walk. I hope you enjoy it.
Love you all,
PS My sweet neighbor, Vasantha, recently gave me an out of the blue, and for no occasion gift, the very best kind! She gave me two pieces of jewelry she said reminded her of me; a ring (blue and silver) and a Two-Cat pin, complete with moving tails. She wrote a lovely card that said “to one who nurtures birds with broken wings, embraces stray cats, and gives shelter to folks wholeheartedly…”
My motherhood recognized…unsolicited. What a gift!
PS Again-And who would have ever thought at this point in my life I would have also earned the title of BUG MOTHER!!!
Final PS, I promise- Don’t even let me get started on Grand-mothering!!!
This might be a stretch. But if you happen to be a regular reader, you might be getting the idea that I am kind of a Rule Bender in a quiet-ish way.
This week, first came the Weekly Photo Challenge. I searched and thought and plotted to find or take a great Face-in-the-Crowd shot. I had the same weird internal ethical debates I always have about taking photos of strangers without their permission…even a face in a crowd.
Then my grandsons invited me to watch a movie. We watched Okja, an odd little Korean film. (Trailer down below, but it’s full of spoilers…better to watch unprepared, in my opinion.) By the way, Common Sense Media says 15 years plus, and though my grandsons are 12 and 14, I agree. My oldest one kept saying “one minute you think this is a great kid’s movie and the next it’s really, REALLY not!”
I will tell you that while watching it, I couldn’t help but thinking about the Weekly Photo Challenge Theme….which made me start thinking in a whole new direction.
I love animals and I tell you what, it is getting more and more difficult to eat anything with a face. I have been mostly vegetarian for almost 50 years…no red meat of any kind during that time and only the occasional fish and poultry…including Salmon of course ( I DO live in the Northwest after all) and Turkey on Thanksgiving!
With this movie giving me a new way of thinking of the face in the crowd, I remembered an experience a few years back that left me both in awe for the beauty of it and a kind of disgust and guilt for the fact of it.
On a repeated vacation to San Diego, the place where we stay has this massive Koi Pond. For a quarter, you can feed the spectacularly colorful fish.
They were beautiful and I suppose there is value in sharing that contained beauty with people if it heightens their consciousness about our cohabitants on Mother Earth. (Don’t get me started on the two sides of the whole Zoo Debate.)
But it was also an example of a pitiful and frightening feeding frenzy.
There was this one fish-face that caught my eye. I kept my eye on him so I knew it was the same one over and over. His face kept appearing midst the fevered quest for food.
Maybe it was that he was so huge and that made me wonder if this had been his whole life, battle after crowded battle for tidbits of man-made cereal nuggets.
That thought made me incredibly sad. I mean, Koi can live for up to 200 years! And these guys had already been trapped in this resort pond for 35 years that I know of.
It just felt wrong.
I don’t know any resolution, or if there even needs to be one. I mean, I raise Giant Leaf Bugs and keep them in a terrarium for their entire lives…my rationale being they live almost a year longer in my captivity than in their native wild. My cats are strictly indoor cats for the same reason…longer lives than if they ventured out among the hawks and coyotes in my area.
Anyway, this is my Face in the Crowd post for the week.
I’d love to hear what you think.
5 Interesting Facts About Koi Fish from https://www.sweeneyfeeders.com/5-interesting-facts-koi-fish/
1. Koi fish originate from Japan and represent love and friendship in Japanese culture.
2. Most koi fish outlive their owners, having a lifespan of 200+ years.
3. They come in a variety of colors, not just orange. They may appear orange, yellow, white, red and black.
4. Owners who received their koi fish as a gift are believed to have good luck.
5. In Japan, koi fish are often passed down from generation to generation, as a family heirloom.
I was so excited when I first spotted these eggs in the Rhododendron out in front of my house. I checked the eggs out every day for a while and couldn’t wait to show my Grandsons, who, at the time were about 5 and 7.
I took them outside, lifted them each up high enough to get a good look, and then we went back in the house to have the inevitable discussion about the problems of keeping the nestlings as pets once they hatched.
The next day, the youngest came running up all excited…”They HATCHED, Gramma!!”
Uh oh. I knew they couldn’t have yet, but when we went outside to check things out, there were the broken egg shells all over the ground.
I lied. Well, I agreed with them when, already heartbroken about the whole “no pet” thing, they concluded the baby Robins had flown away to a happy life in the sky.
I felt awful, for the tragedy (though as an adult, I can almost grasp the whole food chain thing in Nature) but also because I had lied.
A few days later I was reading about the habits of our local Steller Jays, about how smart they are. These cousins of the Crow have figured out how to watch other animals, especially human ones, as they discover and then repeatedly return to, a nest full of eggs….
Not only did I lie to my grandsons. Apparently I was also responsible for the discovery and destruction of those beautiful eggs!
Now I REALLY felt awful!
No Gold Star for this Grandmother today!
I have my own photo of Steller Jays somewhere but can’t find them right now. The above image was listed online as free.