Posted by: ktzefr | August 12, 2015

Words…and the trouble they get into

Birds, Mayan Textile; Photo:KFawcett

Birds, Mayan Textile; Photo:KFawcett

I was reading poetry this morning in Spanish, side by side with the English version, and thinking about the images lost in translation.  Sometimes the translations on Facebook and other online forums are almost silly, in addition to being incorrect.  And I can imagine all sorts of misunderstandings as a result.

In any case, it’s the beauty of the Spanish language that is often lost in translation.  Even when the English is correct, i.e. the meaning is accurate, the image may not be as…pretty as it is in the original.

Consider these…

“…dentro de cada palabra existe una sonrisa”  Translated: “…inside every word there can be kindness.”

The meaning is okay, as translated, but isn’t the Spanish, “…inside every word exists a smile” prettier?

Or…

“…por los caminos olvidados de California” Translated: “…through the backroads of California.”

Of course, we call them backroads, but think of the different image for olvidados when it’s more specific — forgotten/left behind“What the heck is a forgotten road?” someone may ask, but a poet knows.  

Or…

“…de sus labios brotaban palabras melodiosas”  Translated: “…rhyming words would pour out of her mouth”

I suppose if the English version said “from her lips sprouted melodious words” it would sound a bit awkward.  But…words can be melodious without rhyming.  And sprouted?  I like it.  I image tiny seeds in the mind that become sturdy sprouts before they’re spit out. 

Oh well, when you read the English translation of a Spanish book, just remember that chances are it’s a whole lot prettier in Spanish.

So, I’m not a poet, but I like to play with…

Words

I am a collector of words.

I pick them up from one page

and pluck them down in a new spot

to see where they take me.

 

Words do not sit still. They walk and run,

Skip and hop, fall and fly. They bounce.

They fling themselves from one place to the next.

They can dive and splash or soar above our heads.

They leap, but sometimes not too high.

They can be cautious, too.

 

Words are time travelers.

They can go from here to there,

And from there to here,

On a moment’s notice.

 

One word can jog a memory.

 

Words are not like people; they mean

What they say.

 

And they don’t care whether

you like them or not.

 

Some words are weak; some are strong.

Sometimes one is better than another.

 

It’s no secret that some words act like they’re alive!

They can run amok and cause great harm.

But the right word at the right time can also heal.

 

Words can change the world…

But only if they’ve been picked up

And plucked back down

In the right places.

******

 

Posted by: ktzefr | July 24, 2015

Favorite Foto Friday — Blue-Footed Booby

Blue-footed booby, Isla Espanola, Galapagos; Photo:MFawcett

Blue-footed booby, Isla Espanola, Galapagos; Photo:MFawcett

Isla Espanola, Galapagos — We are in a panga, a large rubber raft, headed to a clump of black volcanic rock — one of the few dry landings on the island.  Turns out not to be as “dry” as we thought.  We scramble ashore with the waves splashing against the rocks and walk single file along a natural jetty where we are met by a welcoming committee of one  — a blue-footed booby perched on a tall boulder preening himself.

As birding goes, the Galapagos is the place to be.  Since the birds have no fear of humans, they will sit for any number of portraits. 

A few interesting facts about this pretty bird…

1)  They love their colorful feet and they strut around, stepping high, to show them off during the mating ritual. The fancier the dance and the bluer the feet – the better to win a mate.

2)  Blue-footed boobies are carnivores.  They especially enjoy anchovies.

3)  These birds can live up to 17 years and have a wing span of 5 feet.

4)  They are excellent divers; when they see a school of fish, they fold back their wings, streamline their bodies, and dive headfirst into the water.  Their eyesight is excellent and their aim is on target.

5)  Blue foots can hatch 1 to 3 chicks and both parents feed and take care of them.  They use their webbed feet to cover their young and keep them warm.

6)  These birds are not graceful on land and their clumsiness may be why they were called boobies, which comes from the word bobo, meaning stupid. They are not, however, dumb birds. Early explorers considered the birds dumb because they showed no fear and were easily picked up and carted off to the dinner table.   But it wasn’t stupidity that caused them to be easy targets; they simply had no fear.  They had never met human predators and had no reason to be afraid. 

I’m glad boobies can still live, for the most part, without fear.  They show only curiosity.  This is the most striking characteristic about the animals of these islands.  I knew this, of course, but I still wasn’t quite prepared.  I continue to be mesmerized by the memories of these beautiful creatures.

I have tried, on occasion, to imagine a world in which humans live without fear, a world in which curiosity would take its place. 

Can you?

 

More info:

National Geographic   (Blue Footed Boobies)

National Wildlife Federation ( Blue Footed Boobies for kids) 

 

 

“I have felt nothing ever

like the wild wonder of that moment.”  ~Rumi

wild flower

I pass this flower every day.  It’s a volunteer and a survivor, growing in the pavement cracks.

*****

“…look up: see both worlds…the ocean shaping and carrying

you along.  You’ve heard descriptions of that sea.  Now

float, trust, enjoy the motion.” ~Rumi

Bunny; photo:KFawcett

Wild Bunny; photo:KFawcett

Our neighborhood has been especially full of bunnies this spring.  I haven’t seen a fox in a long time — could be the reason.  The bunnies are trusting of us humans; if they’re enjoying breakfast, they don’t bother to run away.

*****

“I look for the light I used to

see.  The key is hidden here

somewhere.” ~Rumi

Rose of Sharon; Photo:KFawcett

Rose of Sharon; Photo:KFawcett

My own Rose of Sharon bush has deep pink flowers.  This one I often see on my walks is multicolored.  The same bush has both white and pale pink blooms.  In the back of my yard we have a few stray lavender twigs and a bush or two that I brought from a previous house more than 20 years ago.  They spread like weeds.  I’ve given twigs away that have also spread like weeds in the yards of others.  Years of stories are hidden in the Rose of Sharon.  This one, by the roadside, must overhear some juicy tales from all those walkers and joggers and kids going to school. 

*****

“Friend, there’s a sweetness to the moon’s

one pearl, but consider the ocean it

grew in, and the soul’s great turning

wheel.  Grafitti people on bathhouse walls

have intelligent origins, but think who

drew the mind!” ~Rumi

Swallowtail Butterfly; Photo:KFawcett

Swallowtail Butterfly; Photo:KFawcett

…or the butterfly or the bunny or the flowers.

*****

“Spirit is so mixed with the visible world that giver,

gift, and beneficiary are

one thing.  You are the grace raining down, the grace

is you.  Creation is

a clear, flat, fast-moving creek, where qualities reflect.

Generations rush by, while

the stars stay still without a splash.” ~Rumi

Photo:KFawcett

Photo:KFawcett

I have been walking by this tree for more than 20 years and just noticed a few days ago that it’s two conjoined trunks.  How does one pass something like this and not see it?  I have also walked this way many times with friends and don’t recall anyone ever noticing or mentioning the weird tree. 

I’ve decided to slow down, start really looking at stuff, and Rumi-nating on my morning walks to see if I can feel a bit more “wild wonder” in the moments.

*****

Posted by: ktzefr | July 2, 2015

Hummingbird Wisdom…

Hummingbird; Photo:KFawcett

Hummingbird; Photo:KFawcett

I look up from my laptop and watch the hummingbirds come and go, come and go, all day long.  They take long sips from the red plastic feeder that is supposed to look like a giant flower but really doesn’t.  It holds more sweetness, however, than a bunch of flowers — and it takes a lot less work for the little fliers to get the nectar.

He sits on the rim of the feeder and looks up and down, side to side, scanning the surroundings for other birds, protecting his territory.

It doesn’t matter if there are two feeders or three or more.  A hummer does not like to share.  When another bird comes, he swoops down out of nowhere and chases it away.

I watch him sit on a tiny dead branch of the dogwood tree.  On guard. Perhaps the hummers know something we humans often forget: if you don’t guard the sugar water, someone else will take it.

He does not know, cannot know, that at my house the supply of sugar water is endless, that it’s okay to share, that I could feed a flock of hummers and prepare them all for the long trip across the Gulf of Mexico next fall.

If I could talk to a hummingbird, I would set his mind at ease.  In exchange, perhaps, he would tell me what it feels like to fly.

********************

 

Dragonfly; Photo:Dylan Fawcett

Dragonfly; Photo:Dylan Fawcett

A dragonfly dips and dives

into a swarm of gnats,

the cloud of insects growing

smaller with each pass

of the green giant,

like a torpedo finding its mark,

a red-hot, just-fired missile in flight,

catching them unaware.

There is no safety in numbers.

I sit and watch with a cup of darjeeling tea

and a Hershey bar with almonds.

I sit and watch beneath blue skies and bright yellow sunlight

this first week of summer.

And I am amazed —

by the extraordinariness of the ordinary,

by the brevity of a gnat’s life,

by the luck of the dragonfly,

and by the simple delight in

a cup of tea

and a chunk of chocolate.

Things I didn’t know about dragonflies until today:

1.  They are carnivorous predators.  They love meat!

2.  A dragonfly can eat food equal to its own body weight in about 30 minutes.  That translates to more than most humans eat in a week. 

3.  Dragonfly nymphs, just out of the egg, start looking for food underwater.  They’re very fast swimmers and have no problem overtaking their prey.

4.  Once airborne they are killing machines that can out-fly and out-maneuver many other insects from mayflies to mosquitoes.  A handful of dragonflies can devour a huge mosquito population and keep the pests under control.  One negative, however, is that the dragonfly can also become a pest to bee populations.

5.  Dragonfly fossils from prehistoric times show insects with wingspans up to 2 1/2 feet.  Today, a flying critter that big with the same proclivity for meat could easily gobble up frogs and fish and small pets.

*********************

Don’t forget to slow down on occasion this summer and watch the dance of nature.

Check it out:  

Dragonfly facts, art, books, and gifts

Posted by: ktzefr | June 22, 2015

10 Fun Facts about Eating Bugs

Milkweed bug; Photo:KFawcett

Milkweed bug; Photo:KFawcett

I don’t recall the first time I ate a bug by accident,  but it probably happened one summer night when I was streaking across the yard yelling back and forth to friends with my mouth open and my eyes on the flicker of fireflies.  I suspect I ended up with as many gnats in my mouth as beetles in the Mason jar.

Then there were the weevils.  Occasionally, my mom discovered them in the flour bin.   How did they get there?  “That’s what happens when the flour gets old,” Mom said.  But where did they come from, I wondered.  It never occurred to me that the weevils had been in the flour all along and that I had been eating unhatched beetles in cakes and cookies and biscuits for months.

Years later, I discovered moths in the pantry.  I opened the door and a moth fluttered out from amongst the cans and boxes and jars.  It happened again and again.  I looked for a nest of moths but found nothing.  Then I discovered a moth inside a bag of Georgia pecans that a friend had sent me for Christmas several months earlier.  On closer inspection I noticed that some of the pecans had tiny, pin-sized holes, and there was a pinch of nut dust that had settled in the bottom of the bag — sort of like the sawdust  on the floor beneath a board that has been “chewed” by a saw.  Still, my first response was to wonder where they came from and how they got into my pantry and into a sealed bag of pecans.  Sometimes the obvious answer is the one that’s hardest to acknowledge for one reason or another.  (It’s that way with a lot of things in life.) The moths hadn’t come to our house looking for the nuts in the pantry; they had come to our house via the nuts in the pantry.

Though I don’t recall the first time I ate a bug by accident, I do remember the first bug I ate on purpose — a clump of roasted ants in a chunk of chocolate.  It had the texture of a Hershey’s Krackel bar — the crispy rice replaced with crispy critters.  Not bad — so long as I kept thinking “just like rice” as I ate.

I’ve eaten baby bees, centipedes, and grasshoppers all dipped in chocolate.  I can’t say that I really love the taste of bugs, but I rarely turn down chocolate.

Honeybee on Honeycreeper Milkweed; Photo:KFawcett

Honeybee on Honeycreeper Milkweed; Photo:KFawcett

How many bugs have you eaten today? None?  Don’t be too sure.  It has been estimated that the average person eats (unintentionally) one pound of insects each year.  Some of the bug facts below reveal how the creepy crawlies may make their way to your plate.

 Bug Facts

1.  There are 60,000 species of weevils.  They are found in many dry foods, including flour, grains, nuts, cereals, and seeds.  They love pancake mix!

2.  More than 1,400 different species of edible insects have been recorded.  These include cicadas, crickets, grasshoppers, grubs, ants, bees, and caterpillars.  Scorpions?  Yes, there’s fried scorpion on a stick or the roasted or grilled variety.  The scorpion stinger becomes nonpoisonous when exposed to heat, and some nonpoisonous scorpions are even eaten alive!

3.  Flavor and color additives in processed foods often come from insects.  One of the most widely used is cochineal, which comes from the desiccated bodies of insects harvested mainly in Peru but also found in Mexico and other countries in Latin America.  The bug makes the most beautiful red dye, which has been used for centuries to color textiles.  Today it’s also used to color cosmetics and food — yogurt and fruit bars and candy and juice and a zillion other foodstuffs that are pink, red, or purple.  The label may say natural coloring, cochineal extract, carmine, carminic acid.  Or it may simply say “color added.”  It takes about 70,000 bugs to produce a pound of carmine.  (Don’t be too concerned if you find cochineal in the strawberry ice cream.  Bugs are generally safer than the artificial colors that are used in foods unless you are allergic to the critters, and that’s rare.)

4.  Insects are low in fat and high in protein.  They’re low maintenance and easy to raise as a source of food.  In some countries farmers are being encouraged to collect and market pest insects as luxury foods.  They get rid of the insects and make money doing it.

5.  Insects are eaten in most parts of the world, a practice that has been around since mankind first appeared on the planet.

6.  Prisoners supplemented their diets with insects during the Pacific war.

7.  The practice of eating insects is called entomophagy.

8.  It is acceptable to refer to insects as “bugs,” although not all insects are true bugs.  True bugs are defined as belonging to the order Hemiptera.  They have a stylet (a mouth shaped like a straw) that they use to suck juices from plants. Insects belong to the class Insecta and they are characterized by three-part bodies, usually two pairs of wings, and three pairs of legs, (e.g., bees and mosquitoes).  Arthropods (spiders, ticks, centipedes, etc.) is a separate phylum from bugs and insects.

9.  In many countries people eat a variety of insects raw (alive and kicking).  For example, termites are eaten straight out of the mound in Kenya. 

10.  Here are a few other bug delicacies from around the world:

— Emperor Hirohito of Japan favored boiled wasps with rice.

— In Papua New Guinea the walking stick insect is eaten and its legs are used as fishhooks.

— Native Americans roasted june bugs over coals and ate them like popcorn.

— The markets in Mexico have piles of chapulines; the roasted grasshoppers are served with chile and lime.

— Madagascar hissing cockroaches are said to be yummy and have the texture of greasy chicken.

— In Indonesia people dip a reed in palm sap and wave it in the air to catch dragonflies to boil or fry.

— Lemon ants in the Amazon taste like…lemons.

 *******************************

For more buggy reading check out these links:

“Your Introduction to the Wild World of Eating Bugs”

“Pantry Pests”

What is Cochineal?

“How to Mindfully Eat a Scorpion”

“Bugs as Food: Humans Bite Back”

 

 

 

Posted by: ktzefr | June 16, 2015

Celebrating Father’s Day with Stories…

My dad told stories.  He and Mom ran a small country store in eastern Kentucky and there were a few customers who stopped by regularly just to socialize and hear a tale or two.  Around the supper table, in a shady spot on hot days, and in the cellar during storms…he told stories that always seemed to fit the occasion.

mom and dad

First married…

On a cold, winter night he told about the ice flood that came when he was a boy.  It had rained for days and then turned bitter cold and the backwater that overran the riverbanks began to freeze.  After the tide crested and started to recede, great slabs of ice broke apart in the rush of water.  He lay awake at night listening to the big chunks of ice grind together as they made their way downriver, he said.  Then he laughed and told us that the “old people” had thought the end of the world was at hand.

He had his own fears.  The one that caused us the most anxiety was storms.  In the middle of the night, at the start of a summer storm, he got us up and herded us  out into the rain, around the house, and down into the cellar.  The floor was loose bricks and the walls bare, damp clay.  The water tank sat in the middle of the “room” and shelves with Mom’s jars of canned tomatoes and beans and garden relish lined one wall.  There was nothing to do but wait it out and listen to a story or two.  Dad told us about tornadoes.  Storms he’d seen on his one trip out West with a friend.  He described huge trees being uprooted and houses sliced from their foundations to be sucked up in a great spinning cloud.  I sat on a wooden fruit crate, listening and visualizing and jumping with every crack of lightening.

Crabbing at the Eastern Shore...

Crabbing at the Eastern Shore…

Some of my dad’s stories were based in fact, some in legend.  “The moon controls the sea,” he said, explaining the tides.  We’d never seen the ocean.  “Don’t ever look at the sun; it’ll put your eyes out.”  When an eclipse was coming he read in the papers how we were supposed to view it safely — turn our backs to the sun, look at a blank sheet of paper with a dot drawn on it, somehow use a straw…?  We never figured it out.  Did the lost city of Atlantis really exist?  Maybe; maybe not.  “You can plant corn after the sun crosses the equator — not before.”  He had plenty of stories about impatient people and crops killed by a late frost.

 

We always had a good-sized garden.  Dad hired someone with a tractor to do the first big turning of the soil and then he pushed through the clods of clay and softened the rows for planting with a wooden hand plow.  My dad was handicapped, having lost an arm in a car accident as a young man, so this was an especially arduous task.  But he and Mom worked in the garden almost every day in spring and summer.  Although we had a grocery store full of food, he said the store was our livelihood.  We best plant and raise our own food as much as possible.  So we did — chickens and cows and pigs and a substantial garden.  We sold Del Monte in the store and ate Mom’s quart jars of tomatoes at home.  Every spring the cow ate wild onions in the field that “flavored” her milk so, for awhile, we got to drink Pet milk from the carton.

Dad played the French harp.  Mostly old folk tunes derived from the Irish ballads that were common in our area.  My dog’s favorite was “Turkey in the Straw.”  Dad played and Lady jumped onto an upright carbide can (the empty ones were used as stools) and sang/howled to the top of her lungs.  Sometimes their sing-along was a source of entertainment between stories.  At other times there were games — checkers, Monopoly, Rook.  My dad loved playing all kinds of games and often held checker “tournaments” in the back of the store during slow times.  He always played to win.  Otherwise, he might say, “What’s the point?”

Fish tales...Ocean City, Maryland, early 70s

Fish tales…Ocean City, Maryland, early 70s

Every day my dad read the newspaper.  When I was in elementary school and my brother and sister had started to high school he decided that we needed a set of encyclopedia in the house, so he took some of the savings and bought a set.  There were many important things we didn’t have, such as a bathroom indoors, but he chose to spend money on books.  Our education was a top priority.  Almost everything else was secondary, irrelevant, or downright frivolous.  And he used these spiffy new books as much as we did.  Perhaps more.  Sometimes in bad weather, when he knew there wouldn’t be much business at the store, he’d pick up one of the volumes and take it to read.  My dad is the only person I’ve ever known who read the encyclopedia for fun.  Though he did not have an opportunity for much education himself, he had a head full of knowledge and could converse about almost anything.  I can only imagine what great fun he would have had with the internet!

He recited the Bible and the poets with equal fervor.  “Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,/Old Time is still a-flying/ And this same flower that smiles today,/tomorrow will be dying.”  “God sees every sparrow when it falls.”  “What is first shall be last and what is last shall be first.”  Life wasn’t perfect, but we took it all in, grew up with abundant confidence, and lived in a house full of hope.

One spring my dad ordered a pear tree with visions of a tree hanging full of fruit.  The package that came in the mail, however, contained a twig that looked half dead.  He had talked so enthusiastically about it that I was disappointed for him.  Still, he planted the twig and fertilized, watered, watched, and waited.  Eventually, the tree grew above our heads and blossomed and bore fruit.  Mom even got enough extra pears on occasion to can.  (Turned out to be an easy tree for the grandkids and great grandkids to climb, too.)

Dylan in the pear tree…1990s

I have many remembered images of my dad that were not caught on camera.  This one comes to mind:  He is  looking up through the pear tree’s branches, holding a fishing pole with an old dust rag wrapped around the end of it.  The rag has been dipped in kerosene.  He sets it on fire and lifts the flaming torch up through the tree being careful not to burn the leaves and bark unnecessarily until he reaches the tent — a thin, gossamer sack stretched out and held securely in the forks of the branches.  Suddenly, it sizzles and flames up, causing the caterpillars to go crazy.  They fall in the spring grass all shriveled and crispy.  He was not going to let anything interfere with the pear tree becoming all it could be.

My wedding...Dad's first time in a tux!

My wedding…Dad’s first time in a tux!

I remember my dad on this Father’s Day and am grateful for the stories and lives created in the past and for the fun I continue to have creating stories and a life of my own.

**********

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: ktzefr | June 5, 2015

It’s Friday and the rain has stopped…

Good things…

It’s Friday.  We’ve had four days of clouds and rain.  Still, every morning I’ve walked two miles before breakfast, and everything is green, green, green! 

A new baby bunny was eating in the yard this morning.  The mowers haven’t been able to do the wet grass all week, so he was up to his ears in clover.  Took a quick phone foto before he ran away.

bun

The potted plants are beyond saturated, but they seem to be loving it.  I have several orchids that my husband has bought over the years.  Initially, the blooms are beautiful, but I can never get them to bloom again.  Most of the plants wither and die.  Shop people say to avoid watering them.  The attached directions always say that they need very little water; sometimes just an ice cube or two every few weeks.  But I’ve seen wild orchids growing in the rainforest where they get a good drenching every day.  So…this is what I’ve discovered over the last two summers:  if I put the orchids outside on the back porch and allow them to be soaked naturally by the rain, they thrive.  Already, the ones that looked puny and withering in the spring are spry again and sport new leaves. 

IMG_9165

When I was eating breakfast I spotted a male goldfinch headed to the thistle feeders.  Then a female…and another!  Two males and two females visited a couple of days ago and I wonder if these may be the same ones.  I’m hoping they make our yard a regular stop.

goldfinch at the thistle feeder; phonephoto:KFawcett

goldfinch at the thistle feeder; phonephoto:KFawcett

Annoying things…

Lately, I’ve been getting scam calls on my cell phone almost every day.  There’s no one at the other end.  The scammers are hoping to make me think someone important is calling and dial back…so I can be charged up the wazoo or they can steal my contact list and annoy my friends.  I listen to the phone ring, watch the screen light up, but don’t answer.  The call this morning came from Florida.  I know people in Florida — and my cell knows them, too.  It’s easy to turn off the sound and let the “unknown” callers ring to their hearts’ content.   

Shoes.  A new pair is arriving in the mail today.  I don’t want to stop by the shop again and endure another hour of shoe talk.  I am not obsessed with shoes.  I don’t care about the latest styles or who is wearing what these days.  I buy shoes because they’re necessary.  I can’t go to the mall in bare feet.  I usually like to browse for a bit (without being bothered or followed) and, when I find something I like, I ask for that particular shoe in my size.  It’s simple.  I don’t want to see the shoe in a variety of other sizes or similar shoes in my size or totally different shoes that are either the store clerk’s “favorite style” or “everyone” is wearing these days.  I get annoyed when the clerk spends forever in the storeroom and then comes out with his/her arms loaded with boxes — especially when the shoes I want, in the color I’ve asked for and the proper size, are not amongst the load.  So, yesterday I told the clerk exactly what I wanted and made it known up front that I would not consider any other shoe, color, or size.  I got a rather pinched look in reply, but it dramatically shortened my shoe talk time in the shop and the shoes were ordered and are supposed to arrive any minute.  With my luck, however, I’ll open the box and find — well, who knows…

It’s Noon.  Time for lunch.  All in all, it looks like the good things outweigh the annoying ones this morning. 

Happy weekend!

*****

 

 

 

Posted by: ktzefr | June 2, 2015

Worthless Treasures; Priceless Memories

In the early 80s we were driving along a country road in Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula in a place where the houses were few and far between, through patches of scrub jungle and alongside stretches of sand and sea.  We stopped for armadillos.  We stopped to take pictures.  We stopped even when we didn’t want to.  The rental place only had cars with standard transmissions, which neither one of us knew how to drive, so we jerked along lunging full speed ahead one minute and coming to an abrupt halt the next.  But we didn’t turn back.  This was our first time on the open road — a back road in Mexico, that is — and we were excited to see what was around each new curve.

A few minutes into the road trip we spotted this blanket…

IMG_9160

Local vendors had set up shop with a variety of cheap trinkets and a couple of huge cages with spider monkeys.  It was a mini zoo of sorts as the monkeys were not for sale.  The blanket was, however, and we bought it.  Thus began a life of buying stuff off the street and beside the road.

I call these my worthless treasures because, after more than 30 years of collecting, there isn’t a single thing amongst the stash that has much monetary value.  But the memories they conjure are priceless…

A young indigenous boy sold me a $5 ring in the market in Otavalo, Ecuador more than a decade ago.  I still wear it — a simple band with Inca markings that I can’t decipher.  I like the fact that they are a mystery.  In Lago San Pablo I bought a woven duffel that was made by hand by a family of weavers.  The wife worked the spinning wheel, her husband ran the loom to make the bag, and their son stitched the straps.  I still take this colorful duffel on trips.  Each time I start to pack it I remember that family welcoming us into their tiny home — a kitchen/bedroom combined and the two other rooms full of their handiwork.  Pretty rugs and blankets and sweaters and duffel bags.

IMG_9144

I have pottery from Costa Rica with leaping frogs that remind me of the real ones we saw on the banks of the Sarapiqui River one morning.  Our son sat on the smooth, round stones by a rainforest pool in the Tirimbina forest with real, thumbnail-sized frogs jumping all around him.

Pottery, Costa Rica; Photo:KFawcett

Pottery, Costa Rica; Photo:KFawcett

 

Charms.  Some from vendors; some from shops.  Inexpensive souvenirs from Europe — Denmark’s Little Mermaid, the Eiffel Tower, cuckoo clocks and beer steins from Germany, a windmill from Holland, England’s Big Ben, a gondola from Venice…

IMG_9161

I love island art, so I’ve picked up paintings and pottery in the Virgins and the Caymans and Cozumel.  Some are of places I know and love, a street in St. Thomas or a cove on Grand Cayman or an amazing stretch of beach on St. John, and some are mystery places of white sand and blue water.  The artists may not be world renown and the paintings may never accumulate great value.  Still, I wouldn’t trade “Aunt Bea’s Cove” by island artist Eileen Seitz and memories of the day we bought it for any precious work of art that comes to mind.

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Don’t get me wrong…I have a great appreciation for great paintings, and I enjoy spending time in galleries almost as much as I enjoy eating.  Perhaps, on second thought, if I did trade Aunt Bea’s strip of sand and sea for a precious work of art, I could then sell the more valuable painting and buy another print of Aunt Bea’s place…and still have money left over to purchase a whole lot of priceless memories.

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What’s sitting on YOUR shelf or standing in the corner or hanging on a wall that has little monetary value but is a repository of good memories?

Back from Kentucky…

I empty the coffee filter into the impatiens, remembering that my mom fertilized with coffee grounds and egg shells that she had steeped in water.  She was diligent about attending to her plants.  Every year she had a profusion of blooms. 

When I came back home I found the porches littered with helicopters.  The maple trees in front and back yards had sent down enough seeds to populate a mountainside.  I spent the morning sweeping the porches and pulling tiny maple seedlings from the window boxes.  

For several days this spring I watched a mom and pop robin perch in the dogwood where they could keep an eye on the nest with their newborns.  They took turns flying off to find worms.  When we came home the babies were gone.  Birds are dependable, their behavior instinctive.  It looks like something akin to unconditional love.  Baby robins do not take notes on how to parent as they are being raised.  They will simply do what they are supposed to do when the time comes — feed, nurture, and teach their own young how to fly.  What more can you ask of a parent?

I learned to fly in Kentucky.  If a bird’s view of the world is greatly influenced by where it learns to fly, I suspect the same is true for humans.  The way the earth looks in the place where one first becomes airborne leaves a lasting impression.   It colors the way all other places are seen and understood.

Things I saw, heard, and/or understood on my recent trip to Kentucky…

Yellow wildflowers amongst weeds by the roadside.

The hayfield lit up at night with hundreds of fireflies. 

A horse bathing in the pond.  Life’s pretty good when you can find a place to cool off and keep your head above water.

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The surprise of cheddar cheese in the lasagna at the first Italian restaurant in town because locals “won’t eat those Italian cheeses.”

My mom’s rose, planted years ago when she could enjoy it, still blooming as if nothing had changed. 

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Conversation overheard: “I wouldn’t trust him long enough for the water to boil.”  :)

Two weddings: one in a church and the other in a field by the river.  Globos (Chinese fire lanterns) aloft in the night sky; fireworks at the farm.  Champagne flutes filled with water (it’s a “dry” county).

Honeysuckle draped over the back porch railing. 

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Waking up to the cooing of doves in the woods.

A shattered vase still holding its beauty in the fragments. 

To be whole is a miracle.

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