Sunday Post: Unforgettable

DSC_0122Unforgettable? I’m 62 years old, and I have a lifetime of unforgettable moments; I had not truly appreciated that fact until I started to look for images to post for Jakes’s Sunday Post.

I now realize that I am blessed to have had far too may unforgettable moments to post on this blog.

Unforgettable: the first time I opened the blanket to touch Baby Elle’s little toes three years ago. (“Image by Mona” … nope my son/her daddy took this shot.)

Unforgettable: All of the incredible moments I am fortunate enough to spend with her as she grows into a remarkable little girl.

Unforgettable: If you’ve followed my blog for any time at all, you know that I spent the past two summers working and playing in China, part of it trekking about by myself. The first summer, when I was 60, I took a night-train from Shanghai to Beijing alone and toured the major sites with an English-speaking tour group. The second summer, I spent a week alone in Shanghai. This might not be that remarkable to those of you who are seasoned travelers, but it is quite UNFORGETTABLE and remarkable for me because this was my first time out of the United States.

Unforgettable: An invitation to dinner in a private home in Feicheng, Shandong Province, China. What’s even better is that we were allowed to “help” in making the dumplings.

New to Word press? Whether you’re a beginner or a professional, you’re invited to get involved in my Weekly Competition to help you meet your blogging goals and give you another way to take part in 2013 Lucky Snake Event. (It’s the Year of the Snake!) Everyone is welcome to participate, if your blog is about photography,Video, Graphic Artwork Or Writing.

1. Each week, Jake provides a theme for creative inspiration. Show the world based on your interpretation what you have in mind for the theme, and post them on your blog anytime before the following Sunday when the next photo theme will be announced.

2. Subscribe to jakesprinter so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements. Sign up via the email subscription link in the sidebar or RSS. GET THE BADGE FOR YOUR IMAGE WIDGET….

 

Make sure to have the image link to http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/ so that others can learn about the challenge, too.

Posted in: Sunday Post

Sunday Post Challenge: HOPE

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

~Emily Dickinson

Yesterday, while taking pictures at the picnic, I learned that hope comes from enjoying life, spending time with other people, giving time, sharing laughs and struggles.

Thank you to jakesprinter for another inspiring challenge. If you haven’t visited his blog, step on over; I think you’ll enjoy it.

water-dragon-poster1-1

Through the eyes of a child

Look at life through the eyes of a child, who is amazed and awed by the wonders of the world.

My favorite model, my granddaughter, who is almost 3.

My favorite model, my granddaughter, who is almost 3.

Can you imagine approaching your day as if you did not dread it, anticipating it to be boring, routine, possibly stressful or dreadful? Can you find something in your life today to look at closely, to appreciate, to find interesting, delightful, or wonderful?

St. Paul writes, “When I was  child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man [woman], I put childish ways behind me.” (1 Corinthians 13:11)

I think that life might be better if we did not put away all of our childish ways. I think that we would enjoy life more if we approached it with the wonderment and delight of a child. Perhaps our enjoyment of life might spill over to those around us and they just might just have a good day.

I Miss Blogging

Ducks on a pond

Ducks on a pond

In the past, I posted nearly every day. Like a child showing every drawing and scribbled attempt at poetry, I snapped away, made a few edits, posted, and said to the world hey look at me look at what I did! I did it! 

I’m still taking pictures; having the camera in my hand is like holding the hand of a trusted dear friend. However, there have been a few changes in my life. First, I’ve promised myself better health,  which means getting more sleep. Second, I’m more focused on work, prepping for classes and preparing reports. Finally, I moved into a small place, by myself. (Someday, when I find a way to write about this without hurting others, and in a way that it will help others, I will….maybe.) The move has almost doubled my drive time to work and to my son’s house.

Consequently, I have less time to edit pictures, write, post, and read other blogs. And I miss it so.

Most important, for some reason, I’m rarely happy with my pictures. Is my eye becoming more discriminating? Or am I in an artistic slump? The truth is probably a combination of the two.

Last week, between appointments, I stopped at a city park and worked on getting a sharp focus. The above shot of the ducks is the only one out of 83 shots that does not disappoint me.

But I had a treat today as I babysat my best playmate, my granddaughter. She had just gotten out of bed, and because I was focused on work, when she asked, “Grandma Mona, I need your iPad please!” I handed it over and took out my camera, forgetting all about the work.

Christmas Means Family

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Christmas 1955 with my brother Mark.

I loved Christmas. Bringing sugar cookies alive with red and green sprinkles, narrating the Christmas story for Mother’s church group, saving money for months to buy a small deep-blue bottle of cheap cologne for Mother, singing Christmas Carols at Midnight Mass with Daddy, discovering the magic that Santa left under the tree, playing Monopoly with my family, laughing, screaming, teasing. Christmas meant family. Lots of them. In addition to my own family of 6 boys, 4 girls, and parents, I had a huge mess of cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and we spent time with them. The gift of family and time.

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My family: Daughter-in-law with new grand-baby due in February, #1 Son, Granddaughter, #2 Son, and soon-to-be Daughter-in-law

Now my family dynamics are very different. Yesterday, on Christmas Eve, I was blessed to spend four hours with my small family. Instead of the typical Christmas dinner, I fixed a Southern breakfast for brunch: ham, eggs, grits, & homemade biscuits, made a little bit fancy with Mimosas. They’ve gone now. To Chicago. To the other side of the city. To lead their own lives and build their own family memories. I miss them terribly.

Sunday Reflections

Tonight's Moon: ISO 100, 200 mm, f/8.0 at 1/250 sec

Tonight’s Moon: ISO 100, 200 mm, f/8.0 at 1/250 sec

I gave myself an unplanned silent retreat today. It began this morning when I spent several hours with Lectio Divina (a way of prayer and meditation using the Scriptures). My spirit began to grow quiet and calm with the silent study, prayer, and reflection and I decided to allow myself the luxury of more.

My home was silent, with no TV, music, cell phone. In addition, I avoided the noise of computer interaction; Internet and email are just a few of the noisy distractions.

Now, I go to bed with peace.

What does this have to do with the image of the moon? Not much … but yet, a lot. On my walk with Sophie tonight, I was completely filled with thanksgiving for the stars in the sky, for the cool air, and for the brilliant moon hanging low, just above the rooftops. I rushed her through her walk, hastily assembled the camera, and set up in the front street to capture the moment.

Good night, moon. Good night everyone.

I am thankful…..

My future daughter-in-law with #2 son.

We had a party because she said “YES”!

I’ve been away … Well, I’ve actually been right here in this bizarre southwestern city that clings tenaciously to the heat. I’m wearing a sweatshirt tonight just because I miss the change of seasons, thinking that possibly, if I wear winter clothes, we might experience a chill in the air for longer than the 15 minutes before the sun rises.

But I’ve been away from my blog in order to catch up on reports, lesson plans, grades, and sleep. Another reason I haven’t posted is that I had not had the camera in my hand for a while, and when I did, the images I produced were either boring or totally awful.  I think exhaustion saps creativity and crumples knowledge and skill.

Last week, with a few days away from school, I got some good shots when my little family of six gathered for Thanksgiving.

My #2 son with his fiancee and his brother, my #1 son

My #2 son with his fiancee and his brother, my #1 son

I had handed my camera to someone else for the first shot above; that’s me on the left, toasting my son & his fiancee, who combined their engagement party with my sons’ dad’s Night-Before-Thanksgiving-Casino Night. (How’s that for a mouthful?)

My beautiful daughter-in-law asked that I not post any pictures of her on FaceBook (does that include this blog?) because she is expecting my 2nd grandchild in February. She has no idea how beautiful she looks. Respecting her wishes, I have not included any pictures of her.

What am I thankful for? I am thankful for my family: Two handsome, intelligent, and successful sons; two beautiful, intelligent, and talented daughters-in-law (soon); one incredible granddaughter; and one baby on the way. I am blessed!

1962

No theme …… No real reason for this post, except nostalgia.

It was 1962. My sister Rose was a baby. Rose is not the youngest in our clan; in fact, two boys and a girl follow her.

Notice that my sister Phyllis & I are wearing identical blouses, which means that my mother probably made them. (I’m the one with the dark permed hair in the back.) By the way, I’m the oldest of the clan.

Check out the buzz cuts on my brothers; Mother took the electric clippers to them regularly.

Our growing family

Saturday with Elle

I’m beginning to adjust to being back in the states and am starting to settle into my new apt and the new school year. Tomorrow, I’ll go to school to set up my classroom, getting prepared to greet 150+ freshmen on Monday morning.

Today, I babysat. My granddaughter and I built houses from blocks, read countless books, drew pictures, had tea parties, pretended, danced, giggled, and told stories. As you can probably tell … she is my light and joy.

Waiting

Coy

Her mother is a superb pianist.

Sparkling Beads, Bracelets, Princess High Heeled Slippers, Princess Crown, and ATTITUDE!

She wore the crown for hours. Elle: “Where’s my crown?” Me: “On your head.” Elle: “Oh yeah!” I had to giggle…so much like her grandma!

Evenings in Feicheng

One of the best aspects of life in Feicheng, Shandong Province, China is the sense of community. Although Feicheng has a population of nearly 1 million people, it has a small-town feel.

After the evening meal, the people come outside. They walk, sit and chat, gather together for a type of exercise that appears to be is a slow moving line-dance, they buy and sell on the sides of the streets, they watch their children play or perform.

They are doing a line dance.

The dance is coordinated, fluid, and beautiful. I’ve seen such dancing all over the city.

Here, it looks as if they are marching. No, they are dancing.

I watched this man for a long time before I was able to capture his image. I like the concentration on his face and admire his willingness to get out there and dance.

This little girl is working with her mother to sell on the street which is lined with vendors selling everything from shoes to batteries.

These little ones are learning how to roller blade while their parents look on.

The young people put on a taekwondo demonstration.

I frequently see the old people sitting quietly on their small folding stools.