“Whatever makes you weird is probably your greatest asset.” ~ Joss Whedon
One evening Angie and I went driving. She stopped quickly and pointed to this house. The sun was setting perfectly. I showed the image to Pam Kingfisher the following day. It turns out that this is the house she passes frequently and photographs during stunning sunsets. It also happens that her great grandmother’s house was next door. It has since met its demise, of course, much like this house will do sooner rather than later. There’s nothing quite like an Oklahoma sunset. Even the boring sunsets are something to behold. A good sunset drive with Angie is my favorite.
“Those with a passion for life have saved the world for all of us.”
~ Joan Chittister
Happy Solstice everyone. May this year’s longest day bring you every happiness. As the days begin to get shorter, and the nights longer, may our kindness and compassion for one another grow with the coming seasons.
“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.”
~ Marianne Williamson
I was supposed to be at Serpent Mound in Ohio to watch the sun set into the serpent’s mouth as it does every summer Solstice (technically Solstice is tomorrow, but observance was tonight). Instead, I sat inside most of the day and watched the winds of Tropical Storm Bill blow rain sideways and ruffle trees like they were weightless feather dusters. Waiting out the storm wasn’t much of an option since it was headed directly to the place I wanted to go. However, by 6 o’clock this evening, as the sun was peeking steadily from behind the clouds, I was kicking myself for not going. I’m pretty sure the folks who weren’t bothered by the threat of flooded roads are right now preparing for a beautiful sunset over the native mound. Meanwhile, I’ll watch the sun set down the center of my suburban street, just me and Wally and my trying-ever-so-hard-not-to-be-bummed positive attitude. Solstice isn’t the only time to enjoy Serpent Mound. I will try again.
There was a tiny sliver of sunlight late this evening. It hit the blooming dogwoods and parting rain clouds just right, but for only a moment. I grabbed my camera. It felt so good to do that. Sometimes you take for granted how little things like that can be impossible if you have a migraine, or some other debilitating malady that keeps you from enjoying all the beauty and glory life has to offer. Never take the little things for granted.
“The one thing we can never get enough of is love. And the one thing we never give enough of is love.”
~ Henry Miller
An advantage driving west in the evenings are the sunsets. There’s little finer than a colorful sunset. They say every snowflake is unique, that no two are the same. I’d say the same about sunsets. A good sunset can remind you to be thankful for another day lived, and to give hope for tomorrow. I was given a beautiful sunset this evening.
“Peace: It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart.” ~ Unknown
This is the last day of my forties: light snow flurries and bitter cold. I’m told it was a day much like this when my mother went into labor. Twenty-two hours later, at two in the morning, I arrived at the old West Liberty Hospital where Bank of the Mountains now stands (what’s left of it after the tornado anyway). Unlike forty, the approach of which filled me with no small amount of dread for some reason I still can’t explain after ten years, I am actually quite proud to turn fifty tomorrow. I’ve survived a half century despite my ridiculously perilous/fearless ways; driving way too fast on mountain roads long before a seat belt law; playing in creeks filled with glass, cottonmouths, and God knows what else; sliding down muddy mountains, sometimes face first; traveling 80,000+ miles a year for years on end; taking my chances in every smoky beer-encrusted dive bar from New York to California, dodging drunk bar flies left and right, no doubt I passed a serial killer along the way, but who would know? They look like us; eating horrible, horrible foods, drinking horrible, horrible drinks; even a very bad gallbladder and extreme case of Mononucleosis didn’t take me out. Do you know how lucky I am to have lived this long, let alone live and be in good health, save for the allergies? I’m extremely fortunate. As loved ones have punched their time cards and walked on over the last few years, there has not been a single day that I don’t know just how lucky I am. I have been blessed beyond measure with devoted family, trusted friends, a good dog(s), strong mind and body, and an unquenchable need to do better, live better, and be a better human being. I don’t know what else anyone could ask for. Goodbye forties, and thanks for everything.
“We probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of us if we could know how seldom they do.”
~ Olin Miller
I spent the day helping Crystal Heis photograph a wedding. She’s a real pro at this stuff. She knows how to pose people, and how to make them look their best. She even knows how to make an impromptu boutonniere when necessary. All her hard work makes my role fun and easy. I’m the camera off to the side; the camera that gets to go find fun stuff to shoot because I’m not busy herding cats like she is, which is essentially what it’s like when photographing large groups ready for an adult beverage.
This photograph is from Cassie and Jeff Whitehouse’s wedding in 2013. It was my second wedding with Crystal. I was both a guest and a photographer as Cassie is the daughter of my Rental Sister, Pam Bick. That makes her my Rental Niece. Cassie married one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met. It was a gorgeous wedding for two of my favorite people, and to get to photograph their special day with my bestie Crystal made it all the sweeter. I wouldn’t do weddings with anyone else but Crystal. She’s just that awesome, like Cassie and Jeff.
Growing up, I remember many a football game framed by beautiful sunsets. The Sorghum Bowl of 2014 lived up to those memories. Back then, the field was inside a double fence with ivy growing up its chain links. The vines had become so tall and thick that it formed a canopy you could walk through like a tunnel. It was dark like a tunnel, too. Legions of stories born inside the leafy confines were no doubt lost when the fence came down. That happened long before the tornado blew through. It’s all left to nostalgia now.
Tonight, Kim Cox, my BFF from High School, introduced me as her “partner in crime” to her man Tim Tingle. With good reason, too. We had quite a few laughs about our shenanigans inside that ivy fence. We were so lucky to grow up with one another in such a loving, kind little town. And contrary to our youthful indiscretions, we were actually very good kids. I wouldn’t trade her friendship for anything.
West Liberty is very, very different now, but I couldn’t be more thankful for it. My life would be so less rich without this little village and all its beautiful sunsets.
“May we not take one sweet day for granted,
may we give thanks for all the human and animal blessings that flow in and around and upon us.
May we close our eyes, now and again, in simple gratitude.”
~ Nikky Finney
One of the great things about getting out of a late class in fall is the sunset. Enjoy!