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.

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Travel Theme: Walls

How could I pass this one up? I was fortunate to walk on THE WALL two years ago on my solo trek to Beijing.

The Great Wall at Mutianyu was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century upon the foundations of the wall built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (AD 550-77).

The Great Wall at Mutianyu was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty in the 16th century upon the foundations of the wall built during the Northern Qi Dynasty (AD 550-77).

Before my once-in-a-lifetime visit to this testament to the determination of man, I did a lot of research and saw images of breath-taking vistas and panoramas of the wall snaking across the mountain ridges. However, that was not my wall. My wall was shrouded in mist…a mist that turned into the most awesome thunder and lightning storm I’ve ever experienced. At 3 PM, the black sky was punctuated with flashes of brilliant light that revealed torrents of rain.

An hour before the skies opened and Zeus let loose with his thunderbolts, I was lost on top of the wall. YES! I was alone and lost, standing at a Y in the wall, not recognizing a single brick or stone. To my relief, I was saved by young tourists from Northern Europe who pointed the way to the tram. Oddly enough, I was not afraid, only bemused, thinking, well, if I die, at least I’ve had this incredible adventure. I did not, however, welcome the idea of spending the night alone, huddled against the cold on the top of the wall.

Click on any image for a better view and description. 

As I am putting together this post, Billy Joel’s song toys with my memory. Why not? Here, for your enjoyment, is one of my favorite artists:

We could have gone all the way to the Great Wall of China if you’d only had a little more faith in me

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.

Las Noches de las Luminarias

I’ve lived in the Phoenix area for more than 25 years, and each year I’ve promised myself that I would get to Las Noches de las Luminarias (literally, The Nights of The Lights) at the Desert Botanical Gardens.

The powerful saguaro appears to guard the adobe house decorated with luminaries.

The powerful saguaro appears to guard the adobe house decorated with luminarias.

Two nights ago, I kept my promise. At first I was disappointed that I could find no one to go with me, but, once there, I was thankful for the chance to wander alone through the paths lit with the soft glow of more that 8,000 hand-light luminarias and thousands of twinkling white lights.

I was delighted by the sounds of jazz, blues, flamenco guitar, didgeridoo, and a hand-bell choir, along with stories told by a Native American storyteller. I finished my evening with a hand-warming cup of hot chocolate and more jazz in the garden.

And of course, because this is a post about The Nights of The Lights and because I love taking shots of the moon, I must include the picture I took last night of the most magnificent Light of the Night, the last full moon of 2012. (Click on any image for descriptions and slideshow.)

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 Post: Peaceful

I took this shot July 3, at a city park where I worked in Feicheng, Shandong Province, China. I’ve returned to this image frequently, trying to attach a story to the woman.  At first look, this might appear to be peaceful scene, but the more I look at it, I don’t think it is.

Resting After Supper

Resting After Supper

The reflection of trees at the top of the image give us a feeling of peace, and the woman is resting in the peace of the evening. However, the lotus leaves cut across the shot, right in the center, creating a feeling of unease and unrest. Look closely; there is a discarded paper cup littering the lotus leaves. A metaphor?

The woman, herself, appears to be more troubled than peaceful. Her brow is raised; her posture is not relaxed. She has carried her portable stool down the hill to the lotus pond, possibly searching for a quiet rest,  for a moment of peace. Is she praying for someone? Her husband? Her child? Herself?

You can find other posts in response to Jake’s Sunday Challenge at his link:  http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com