Tag Archives: photo essay

Where Have I Gone?? Episode 2

Downsizing one’s home isn’t always an easy thing to do; downsizing two homes is more challenging still… and that’s what I’ve been up to lately. My wife and I live in a house that is close to 4,000 square feet in area, while my Mom has lived in a home of around 2,700 square feet. We are moving in together in a house that’s about 1,800 square feet.

Oh my.

After all of the furniture was gone, not the usual pose for someone who is 93 years old!

Of course we’re doing this because my Mom is nearly 94 years of age and is getting to the point where she really shouldn’t be living alone… 2,000 miles away. Oh don’t get me wrong, she’s still kicking well enough even though she’s become rather hard of hearing, and forgets things more than she used to; but she knows the time has come to give up some independence. Of course parting with anything is another story.

Even so, I filled up a 13X5X4 foot trailer with stuff to send to the dump, and sent load upon load of stuff to the Salvation Army, and got rid of 5 rooms of furniture, often when she wasn’t looking, to get the move down to two rooms of furniture and 56 cartons of stuff.

That was fun…

…and it was also the easy part as it turned out.

While I was in California from June 26 through July 12 She Who must Be Obeyed was busy here in the Midwest. As I mentioned earlier, the new house purchase closed right on schedule on June 26, and with that came the very important project of upgrading the house’s electric system from a 60 amp fuse box to a 100 amp panel before the Homeowners Insurance people found out about the 60 amp box… or they’d cancel our insurance. She was all over this project and it was promptly completed along with a few other repairs and improvements that were revealed as being needed by an inspection report: So far so good.

At this point, our tale won’t make much sense until I tell you a little more about the new house: First it is the newest home my wife and I have lived in, being built as it was as recently as 1921. (Our previous addresses were built in 1870, 1918 and 1895.) The previous owners bought the property in 1960, and it is quite clear that when they bought it, they did a serious renovation, and what we acquired was a 1921 Arts and Crafts home with a series of 1960 improvements. Yet in spite of that, the house is in great shape; just dated to the wrong time. As an example, here’s a photo of the upstairs Master as we found it:

So what’s wrong with that carpet?

The really amazing thing is that this almost 60-year-old carpet was in fantastic condition, almost like brand new, yet She Who Must Be Obeyed wasn’t having any of it, and while I was gone, she went to Home Depot and bought parquet flooring and made arrangements for its installation as soon  we arrived back in the Midwest after the cross country trip, and it was delivered on July 17… and I had to unload it from the truck myself because the driver wasn’t physically able to do so an omen of things to come as it turned out.

She also made arrangements for new carpet to be installed in the downstairs living room and hallway at Home Depot, and set up a meeting with their bathroom renovation people to redo the upstairs bath and add a shower…

I spent the lions’ share of the 17th ripping up 1960 carpet (also in great shape) and tack strips from the two downstairs bedrooms in preparation for the movers’ arrival from California the next day with my Mom’s furniture for those two rooms; she wanted wood floors.

The movers came early the next day and did their thing in a very efficient and workmanlike manner; I can’t say enough good things about my experience with Allied Van Lines. The only bad part about this was that since they were 2 days early, I would have to paint those rooms with furniture in them, but that’s OK, it isn’t like I’ve never done it that way before.

After the movers had gone on their way back to California, I had cartons everywhere; most of these had to be moved into the basement…

…which already had quite a few put there by the movers.

Of course, in spite of everything, my Mom knew that these pieces of furniture, seen in their new “residence”, the garage, would fit in the new house where she wanted them, even though she was advised against moving them; anybody need a leather couch or a China cabinet?

Other improvements that need to be done include a new heating and air conditioning system, a new kitchen and a major upgrade of the downstairs bath, but somehow I think some of those might have to wait.

The next day, July 19 was the day that the people would come and install the flooring on the second floor; the plan was that they would have the floor done by the 21st and then install the downstairs carpet on the following Monday and Tuesday, and we would move in the next weekend, the 29th. Tomorrow, I’ll tell that story, and I must say it isn’t all that humorous as it turned out; hope to see you then!

Advertisements

The Magnificence of God’s Creation

The magnificence of God’s creative handiwork is all around us, it’s in the garden, in the trees, the flowers of the fields and the mountains, the sky; it’s even evident within our own bodies. Yet for me, for whatever reason, it is never more evident that in the seas, for the seas move and churn, they can be tranquil and they can be raging; it’s almost as though they are alive.

And the sea is so vast, stretching out as far as the eye can see and for thousands of miles beyond.

These pictures were taken on a small island a couple hundred yards from the mainland of Jamaica. The island sits high up on the rocks giving a fantastic view of the surf below. Om this day, we were in a very strong gale under overcast skies with temperatures running about 80 degree F and wind gusts blowing to 70 mph with heavy seas. The best part was riding in the small boat to and from the island, and timing your jumps on and off the boat that was being tossed in the surf; the next day, there were no more boats running…

I wanted to capture the surf as it crashed against the rocks and then was caught in the wind, without having my camera ruined by being blasted by the water, since it isn’t recommended that you let it get wet. I decided to wrap it up as best I could in my shirt, and stay as far back as I could to keep it reasonably dry, but in that wind nothing was dry for long as the raging surf would travel 40 or 50 feet in the air with every wave. To make this happen, I had to use quite a bit of optical zoom which sounds easy, but makes freezing the fast moving water much more difficult on a gloomy day.

 

Another complication as always was my poor eyesight; I couldn’t really see the waves coming and had to listen carefully and guess at the timing, not easy to do in those conditions where you had to shout for the person next to you to hear you in those conditions.

As you might imagine, I missed more shots than I captured; thank goodness for digital cameras!

Light was interesting too because the overcast was moving very quickly and it would lighten up and then get very dark with only a couple of minutes in between, making interesting effects in the images.

The most interesting part of this day was the feeling of being one with God’s Creation. Certainly this environment was one in which the sights, sounds and feel of the spray and the wind were impossible to miss. It was as though I could hear the voice of God on that island that day, and for me that was the second time I had that experience on that particular island, the first having taken place two years earlier to the day. (I posted about it back in November 2014.)

OK, that one drenched me, I had pushed my luck with camera, and I took no more pictures that day…

Rafting Down the River

I was informed last Tuesday by She Who Must Be Obeyed that we were going on a little trip to the Martha Brae River about an hour away from where we were staying in Jamaica. I wasn’t all that anxious to do this, but since there is no “He Who Must Be Obeyed” in our family, I grabbed my trusty camera and off we went. Upon arrival, I realized right away that having gotten away from the coast, we were out of the gale that had been going since before we had arrived in Jamaica, so at least we would have a respite.

The shades of green that we found were nothing short of amazing. The trees were of various shades, as was the river itself, depending upon the way the light struck it. It was an overcast day on the edges of Tropical Storm Otto (soon to be Hurricane Otto), but every so often the sun would peek out between the clouds, and the entire appearance of the surroundings would change. Add that to the overhanging trees, and there are some interesting opportunities for photography. Yet along with interesting opportunities came some equally interesting challenges, like the fact that I am not all that good at photography, oh yes, there’s also my very poor eyesight. Above all however is the fact that when in a raft going down a river, you get no second chances.

If you have never been in a place like this, and this was my first time, you would be amazed at the silence and the slowly moving river twists and turns its way through the jungle.

Then suddenly the sun pops out and a shot looms right above you…

A moment later, the sun is gone and there is a heron watching for an unsuspecting fish.

Up ahead the sun pops in again and creates the most amazing shades of green…

…and around the next bend a completely different scene

All the while you gently float down the river as though there were nobody else in the world in a sort of serene amazement at what God has created.

Random Ramblings: October 30, 2016

nz1cmki-lp

I’ve always been partial to autumn; I’m not quite sure why that is, but I have been.

As a youngster, I always looked forward to summer; I would imagine most kids do since school is out. mqcgayc-lpEven now I look forward to summer. I like the warm weather, being outside and everything being green with abundant life; I never want summer to end…

Even so, when summer does pass by and autumn begins to burst onto the scene with cooling temperatures and amazing displays of color, I sort of glory in its beauty. It is almost as though God sat down at his easel, mixed His paints and began to show us His artistic abilities, an artistry that no mere human can begin to compete with.

When I was young and growing up in Los Angeles, Fall was more subtle than it is in many places; the seasons are not nearly as drastic in their differences there. For one thing, the months of September and October are sometimes the hottest of months. For another, most of the trees do not turn, and the ones that do change color in late November and early December. I can recall nf7ipyylplooking at magazines as a youngster and seeing pictures of Fall in other areas, and I must admit that I marveled at them and looked forward to a date off in the distant future when I might travel and see such sights. The funny thing is that when I grew up and actually experienced the autumn landscape, I was shocked to discover that those photographers who took those pictures that I had seen in magazine must have been wearing coats; I had seen those things in a place where the days were in the 90’s and over 100.

I still chuckle at the memory.

I left California in my early 20’s and have experienced the wonders of autumn ever since, and I must say that it has become my favorite season of the year. I love the colors of the leaves, the landscapes, the pumpkins and even the cuisine.

There is more to the season than this, however. Autumn is a sort of metaphor for something far greater and more significant that just amazing sights, for to me anyway, it is demonstrative of the faithfulness of God. Every year the seasons come at their appointed times and do what they are supposed to do. When o3ewp14-t-lpspring comes, things begin to grow, the flowers display their color, and the grass of the fields begins to turn them green. Farmers plant their crops and they grow. Then summer comes and the days heat up as the grass and fields become lush with green life

Fall comes along and much of the plant life begins to grow dormant; grass turns brown, crops are harvested and the forest puts on an amazing display of glory; the grand finale of the year before their leaves fall to the ground and die. Finally the winter comes and cold grips the landscape reminiscent of the cold grave. Many animals hibernate, the rest struggle to survive the winter. In many places the ground is covered by snow; nothing is growing…

Then, spring returns and the land is reborn.

Aren’t our own lives on this earth much like that?

We are born, we grow and flourish for a time, and then we fade and die. Yet many of us go through this life process with the surety of hope that the day will come when we, like the plants of the fields, will come forth again to the glory of God.

I think of the autumn and I am filled with a childlike wonder when I consider how God takes such care to show off His paintbrush, for in doing so He reminds us that He is still in charge, and that when the winter has had its season, life will return to the earth.

Yes, the older I get, the more comfort I find in the autumn of the year.

The View From Up Here

Sometimes I like to go to a high place and look down; you can see a lot from up here.  Down there on the streets of town you can see the details, but it’s hard to take in the whole thing… your view gets blocked by the buildings, the traffic, the people…

Up here you can see the whole town at once and how it fits into the terrain, you can see the hills, the river and the railroad tracks, and you can see how everything is laid out… a little like looking at a map but with the rooftops plainly in view.  I wonder what goes on in all of those buildings, how old they are, who went inside a hundred years ago…  The view from up here makes me think about things, and it also helps my mind to wander outside of the everyday kind of stuff…

…And after that you can look to the side and get some perspective on the scene; remember that your feet are still on the ground; the view is wide and high, but reality remains.

In a funny way, these kind of views are a lot like the Bible; you get an eternal view but your feet are still on solid ground.  God’s Word contains the wisdom of the ages, but remains entirely practical.  You can find out what people did thousands of years ago and come to realize that little has really changed.  You can also discover that like the town in these pictures, the Universe and our lives were laid out with a plan; everything is in its place and relates in a logical way with everything else… and you can also see that God has a plan for each one of us.

Just like the town, the people don’t always follow the plan, sometimes people do the wrong thing, that’s why the town has a jail and a court… and in our lives sometimes we don’t follow God’s plan and we come to wish we had followed it…  And of course, we discover in the Bible that God’s plan covers a lot more time than just our lives; it’s eternal.  It’s a lot like this little town.  It’s been there for a long time; it was the home of General Grant before and after the Civil War.  It will be there long after I leave… It might be a good idea to get with the plan!

Yep, I really like to visit high places, it really helps to get my head screwed on straight.

Naked Ladies

No, I didn’t use this title so you would look… but I guess you did.

Actually, that’s what these flowers are called. OK, technically, they are called Amaryllis belladonna, but I think the common name is easier to remember for some reason. They are very strange flowers because they have no leaves, just a stem that pops up in late July or early August, this year, the ones in my yard are in bloom now.

The thing is, I can’t see how they survive without leaves; even the stem is only alive for a short time. They popped up about two weeks ago, and began to bloom on Sunday. If past years are any indication, they will be done by next Sunday, and then the stem will dry up and break off, and I’ll forget we even have some in the yard… until next year.

Here’s a picture from the internet so you can get a better view…

5895381771_7ae8525ae5_b

(That was an interesting image search, but I did find what I was actually looking for eventually)

How does God make flowers that seem to defy what I learned about how plants live back in my school science class?

Even though I don’t get it, there they are every year, and every year I can only think that we have an amazing Creator!

Adventures in Yard Work

I mentioned a week ago that I needed to do some clean up in the yard, and that as a consequence I wouldn’t be blogging as much as usual; this is my “report”.

I had some adventures outside this past week, but for the most part, they didn’t involve having fun; I really don’t like yard work much. I found that tools I needed were no longer around and had to buy some new ones, I discovered that plants that used to be there are gone, and in a few cases, I found that plants I thought were gone are still there. Of course, I also got a refresher course on yard work itself, since I haven’t had to do any since 2013…

I had actually forgotten what it’s like to work in the yard when you can’t really see things; you’re always having to stick your hands into places you can’t really see, and you’re constantly being scraped and cut, you think you’ve got an area cleared out and then you get a closer look or a look from a different angle and discover that there’s more you hadn’t seen… blah blah blah.

Then, on Friday and Saturday, I was reminded of why I bother with it all; things that had been budding, but of course I hadn’t actually seen the buds, suddenly started to open up; early yesterday morning I took a few pictures…

I never knew that tulips close up at night… that IS a tulip, right?

Those miserable trees that made such a mess dropping their leaves are coming to life suddenly…

Yesterday afternoon those things that I think are probably tulips look a little different…

OK, so now I remember why I bother in yard; well, other than the fact that I hear about it if I don’t. Even now after the neglect of the last few years, there are still some of God’s creations out there that are trying to come out and display His glory, and in the garden man and God work together to do something wonderful. Yep, a nice reminder, as they say; I’ll be focusing on yard work again this week. I made a dent, but there is still so much to be done!