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Away and Back Again

July 4th, then a trip to Denver for a huge singing conference… And it’s August already. Not sure how all that time got lost — but subbing for other people’s vacations at work, dealing with my own workload = a lot less time for introspection, writing for myself, or just painting and sketching.

The trip to Denver was lovely, and part of the time was spent with friends up in the mountains. We missed a lot of the heatwave on the East coast of the US, although the past 2 weeks now that we’re back have been a bit of a struggle with all the rain, thunderstorms, and 100 degrees one day outside.

Pictures should show up eventually on the sidebar. I might write about what it was like to sing in a music hall with my chorus, in a space that seats 3,000 (couldn’t see the audience for the blinding lights, and so no jitters). But mostly, I feel incredibly rewarded that I got to go to GALA, represent my region and chorus, explore a new place, and hear some fabulous groups. You guys: you have to see the Seattle Gay Men’s Chorus sometime; if Mano a Mano ever comes back to the States from Cuba, see if you can score some tickets… they have an album you can download from iTunes on that link; the Gay Men’s Chorus of LA was fab; and the youth LGBT choruses — still thrilled by all their talent and optimism. I wouldn’t have had the guts to sing in front of such a large group. This video [YouTube Link] from Dreams of Hope out in Pittsburgh was shown, and should be seen outside of our region and the US. It really talks about the issues of kids who don’t fit into heteronormative society.

May Days

trailingvinesThe days are filled with flowers. This whole week has also been rainy, so I pause to marvel at a new bloom, a new bud forming, and rain drips down my raincoat’s hood, and slowly runs down the bridge of my nose. I’m loading photos onto my flickr feed as fast as I can. The colors are fabulous.

We’ve seen the first stirrings of the fig tree closest to the house coming back. Leaves have unfurled like tightly wrapped green fans, and I think I’ve seen some of the breve’ figs. The Gardener has been fighting a fight to the death with old tree roots, trying to get a patch set up for new raspberry bushes (a more intricate endeavor than I knew, with lots of space needed between the canes… and no idea if that means between the roots as well).

Also with spring comes: Mother’s Day and the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. It’s always either raining, or blistering hot, with lots of hours spent hiking about looking at the alpacas in pens, sheep shearing, and sheep on parade.

In the merry month of May, the Midatlantic region gets ready for Preakness . Preakness is always an exciting time, with tours of the stables at sunrise, and the unveiling of the Mayor’s hat (there is a female mayor in Baltimore right now…. I’m not sure a man’s tophat would be all that interesting). The stars, of course, are the jockeys and horses that come to Pimlico to race, and it get very exciting. [It also gets very tempting to go to the free sunrise tours, to see what the track looks like.]

The bird watching has been marvelous: titmice, mockingbirds, blue jays, red tail hawks, a brown creeper, and maybe a wood thrush. We’re ignoring the cardinals and robins that never seemed to leave. (I’m also ignoring politics right now. Focusing on birdsong, flowers, and a weekend that’s packed with too many things. MD Sheep & Wool is always a grand time, by the way. But I’m double-triple-booked.)

Vantage points

In life, there are different perspectives…
Hearts beat to different times,
Memories are caught in grand moments
— or small —
That we cannot explain to others, as though trapped
In a Faulkner novel that repeats

That repeats
That re-beats

Until it falls out of memory and skips back to
Moving forward.
With just one timeline to light our steps.

 ©rjn, 13 April 2016

Postcards

I have postcards all around my office. Some of them are antique, framed ones, showing photos of places that were near a camp I used to be a counselor at. Others are of bookish things from the British Isles. Still others are art postcards, bought when a local artist’s work delighted me, or a museum had a postcard of a particularly meaningful painting. I’m in the process of making more room in my office, and find that I’ll need to have a postcard framing and hanging afternoon, hopefully when it’s icky outside.

Artists whose postcards I’ve collected:

Martha Dougherty is a contemporary artist who does lovely watercolors set in Baltimore, Maryland — both interior views and external street scenes. Truly lovely. Here’s another one [Madison at Charles Street]. In some of the saturated street scenes, she’s the artist whose work is the closest reflections of the way I see color in landscapes. Very interesting. Linda Hall is another contemporary artist who does watercolors in Chestertown, Maryland.

So, have you collected postcards? If so, are they just mementos of places you’ve been, scenery you love, mail you received from loved ones, or affordable art?

 

 

Attics

Our attic is like many others after winter: dusty, filled with any number of weird things, and incredibly chaotic. While in the process of straightening things up, I stumbled over:

  • Textbooks (honestly, the philosophy books and Fowlers book on literary crit can go)
  • Children’s books (I’ve tagged most of these for the Little Free Library down the block)
  • Art books (I’m sending several out as surprises, to people I think will like them)

Books I’m sending to the secondhand bookshop include books that scared me witless in 6th grade, and The Endless Steppe, which some child might find interesting, etc.

And then I stumbled over the doll clothing. Most of the doll clothes were all lovely little things that my mother had. Petticoats, pantaloons, dressing gowns, dresses, pantsuits for boy dolls, little flower girl dresses, dresses from Gone with the Wind. Tightly crocheted little caps. And I wonder, eyeing the boxes in the attic: where are the dolls that would have worn them? And will it be a nice or startling surprise.

Birds on film

Unfortunately, this doesn’t reflect what I’ve been able to catch with my camera. But the DC Eagle Cam is up, and it sounds like at least one chick is showing signs it wants to leave the egg.

The infrared camera captures all nighttime activities. Photo: Sue Greeley.

Photo from the Washington, DC Bald Eagle web cam (not my property – see attribution below)

© 2016 American Eagle Foundation, EAGLES.ORG

Click here to go to the Eagle Cam with live bald eagles in Washington DC: eaglecam. It’s the closest humans are going to get while they are in their aerie. Me, I’m a little bit obsessed, after seeing one of the nesting eagles last year flying in the vicinity of the National Arboretum. Meanwhile, after typing the word “eagle” many times, I’m plagued with self-doubt about the spelling.

Enjoy!

 

Spring driving

When winter is nearly over, and spring is starting to bloom or leaf out, I like to vary my commutes so I can take advantage of the sunshine and see a bit of the countryside before I head back to the city. This evening I drove through the hilly valleys where there are state parks and many, many farms with white farmhouses. Some homes had bunting on their gates for St. Patrick’s Day (not sure that was the goal, or it’s a reference to Easter?). A few have egg trees, one house has a northern magnolia in bloom and another has very early forsythia.

And in one place, near where a creek bed snakes along the road, and there’s a small pond, I could hear the spring peepers. I talked about them last year too. Their song is one of the mysterious gifts given to us living on the east coast of the USA. I’ve heard them up in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and Vermont. As a city dweller, when I hear them, I’m enchanted. People who live near them during the entire spring peeper mating season may have different reactions, since they can get quite loud.

In my yard, I have an egg tree set up (plastic eggs hung by wire from a miniature magnolia), and underneath it there are mini daffodils and crocuses blooming. Truly lovely. Maybe we’ll have a day without fog and rain when I can take a picture.

So, any detours that invite you when springtime arrives? Or are you more likely to do small auto trips in autumn, to enjoy the cooler weather? It will be cold again by the weekend, so I’m trying to soak up as much sunshine and warmth as I can before then.

 


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