Almost Fall Photo Walk, September 16

43808751485_73a56cb0d1_k (1)

Signs of early fall defy the persistent heat. Our neighborhood ice cream stand has closed for the year, and the canopies of trees are starting to change color.

The morning dew made the flowers of tall grasses just as beautiful as any garden specimen.

44716779701_4167fa5c92_k (1)30846611768_e5248ae6ee_k (1)43999117104_c433ea68f9_k (1)42907696280_037bdc5dcc_k (1)30846978868_5ce0a466f5_k (1)30847024848_5fb86994bd_k (1)30847019168_a784413b71_k (1)

Garden, September 15

30827702748_6ee10701d8_k (1)

The construction phase of the yard sidewalk project is now done. The crew took an entire month to finish this job, but a small percentage of this month represented actual work. I have been stewing in irritation over that fact all the while. I admit that the majority of this anger was irrational, but I did not appreciate the time of their actual work at all. For example, I had just three days of true vacation this summer. Of course they did 60% of this project’s labor during those three days.

I could vent on this matter more deeply than is healthy for me or my readers. My enthusiasm for this project has been indifferent at best, and I feel selfish that I haven’t been more supportive of something that is important to my husband. Why is it that I can’t just be smooth in enduring things that don’t interest me but matter to someone I love? Why did I have to be the mom who was secretly relieved that my child quit band?

The garden is enduring the late summer heat. This weekend I pulled some of the flower pots. They hadn’t fared well with the contrasting heat and rain of this past month.

The hibiscus bush is blooming at a different pace this year compared to the last two years. While it had a mass flowering in July and October during those years, this year it hasn’t stopped blooming since it started.

43979985664_9a520bf112_k (1)43788837575_ecc4033916_k (1)43788841865_87bebc0db9_k (1)

Year of the Cat

41229952_10215046959545310_1741390822261129216_n

The music of childhood can resonate for years. There are some songs from those years that can evoke just how I felt the first time I heard a particular song. Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat” is one of them.

I think I was watching a rainstorm from the picture window of our living room in suburban Indianapolis when I first heard that one. The photo above was taken right around the same time; Snoopy was my likely companion for this reverie, too. I recall that the song transported me to a wistful feeling that was novel at the time, like I was longing for the future as someone older might long for a time in the past. I sensed that rainy days were good for solitude so one could reflect on curious feelings and things, like what happened to the toy elephant in that made several appearances in the pictures of my sister taken before I was born? One of my earliest memories was breaking something, like the sound of its shattering awoke me into conscious memory. Had I broken that elephant?

The song itself seems to be just as lost in time as my feelings were on that day. I feel like there’s an underlying sense of the British trying to find their place in a postcolonial world. That has little relevance to a American in the Midwest, except that sometimes I do feel like I am living in an outpost of a bygone empire.

Today has been just as rainy as that afternoon when I watched the storm from the picture window of our living room in the late 70’s. I heard this song as I drove home from work today and knew that it was the right music for this day that was 40 years in the future from that afternoon.

Summer Photo Walk, August 23

43501681114_d869ba49c6_k (1)

Each year I take a few days from work to help my daughter get ready for school. This morning I made a quick walk through a local public garden to capture some late summer blooms. Bumblebees attended sunflowers both tame and wild. I also spotted dew on some dark caladium leaves that looked like something from a dream:

42411319990_1b47770ee8_k (1)

I will close with a few other pictures from today’s walk, and then I will return to the yearly ritual of the back to school. The next step shall be the haircut. At least the hairstyles nowadays are simple and free of the perms and big hair of my school days.

44170837472_5992a2ae59_k (1)30351389858_ad787aa130_k (1)43313564585_1da801892d_k (1)42411418460_f7212ed27c_k (1)

Garden, August 19

43226998905_3fa568574b_k (1)

August has been hot and damp enough to make the garden defy taming. We also are in the middle of a sidewalk construction project whose end is unknown due to the weather. Today I offer a few shots of the garden, even though it had become overgrown and somewhat wild.

29195849997_fabdc32f7d_k (1)42324979500_85afcb6ee7_k (1)44133712141_d44c6be537_k (1)43226944365_c3a83ac73b_k (1)

Surrender

0818181012d (1)

I’ve been remiss in creating updates about my garden because parts of our yard are literally under construction due to changes in drainage and expansions to our sidewalks. The tension I’ve felt over this project has been out of proportion to the event itself. Trying to pinpoint when an outdoor construction will take place is about as productive as guessing exactly when the cable repair person will arrive. The timing and shape of the event defies prediction.

I’ve suggested to my husband that we could have sped up the start of the sidewalk project by telling the contractor not to arrive on a certain morning because we’d be sleeping in due to some fictional day trip that had occurred the day before. I think he was just a bit offended over this suggestion, like I’d betrayed one of his clan. He himself has a job involving a bit of outdoor construction with a schedule is subject to the whims of weather and emergent repairs. The thought that fiction could tame the chaos of such work may have sounded outrageous to him.

In the time I’ve been away from this blog, I’ve had some “teachable” moments that have made me consider that I need a full-scale re-calibration of how I think of others and my place in this world. I suppose there’s no point in relating a story whose principle characters can’t be defined with precision, but I will tell you that I’ve recently been reminded that alcohol, negativity, and anger have nothing of value to offer.

I have no problem avoiding alcohol. There have been some years in this century in which I haven’t had a single drink with alcohol. In other years, I’ve had drinks a handful of times. I learned through personal experience and witnessing the alcoholism of family members that alcohol at best offers empty, fleeting joy and at worst leads to destruction. That’s not a popular point of view in this era, but it is one that is important to me.

For me, what is harder to avoid is the seductive force of anger and negativity. I think that anger is the easiest emotion to convey. It is easy to think that there’s strength to be drawn from anger and sarcasm, that one can emerge victorious by “telling it like it is.”

I’ve seen someone else self-destruct in negativity, and I’m taking a step back and noticing that I’m not so far behind that individual in the darkness of my feelings and thoughts. Lately when I’ve thought of many people I know in real life, I’ve done so to find the faults in those people. The habit reminds me of that moment when King Lear goes mad and proclaims, “Then let them anatomize Regan; see what breeds about her heart. Is there any cause in nature that makes these hard hearts?” (King Lear, 3:6:76-78).

The problem with “anatomizing” the people you know is that it becomes a mutual process. By focusing on the faults of others, you open yourself to much of the same criticism. The more cutting the judgement, the harder it is to resist sharing those thoughts. It is so tempting to get a laugh out of revealing how deluded and wrongheaded someone else is, always when the person commented upon is never close enough to hear your words. It is inevitable that people will eventually start talking about you when you leave the room, too. Eventually you’ll find out what those words are.

In real life, I’ve learned that I’ve failed to convince many (but not all) people that my chronic pain is real. It doesn’t matter that I have medical proof of the cause of my pain. The MRI’s and procedure records may as well not exist. Opinions about my parenting and my daughter are more divided. Some (again, but not all) people think my daughter doesn’t really have autism, that I’ve given her autism through bad parenting, or that I’ve failed to correct her autism through lack of discipline.

Long story short, silence is almost always the best choice when you notice the faults of other people. To give these things a voice invites a harsh verdict of yourself. Is there a greater emptiness than the no-holds-barred opinion others may have of you?

There is great truth and wisdom this the age-old advice:”If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

It is hard to be kind and easy to be mean. I’ve struggled so much with pain and uncertainty in the past two years that I’ve made the easy choice all too often. The harvest of these moments when I thought I’d been so clever to say what everyone else must be thinking has only been alienation and depression.

So I take my first steps into the light. I will try to think of no one unless those thoughts are kind. Likewise, I will try not to dwell on my failures of the past and present and the unknowns of the future. I will hope for a better harvest.

Summer Photo Walk, July 28

Blog Image - Food #1

This morning I traveled to Kendrick Woods to see how the wildflowers are faring. We’ve had unreliable rainfall and higher than average temperatures throughout most of the summer this year, so I expected the wildflower prairie to look a bit different this year. As expected, the prairie was not quite as abundant as I’ve seen it in the past. However, there were plenty enough blooms to justify the trip.

Now is the time the wild sunflowers reign. Different varieties will take their turn blooming until the first frost. I also spotted some dame’s rocket and wild indigo, whose pods will age into purple-black before summer’s end. I looked up the red wildflower and found that is called Silene virginica, or fire pink.