Mother Blue

I photo. I take day trips. I lightsaber battle. I analyze the stuffing out of myself.

Month: December, 2011

Staring into Snow Globes Makes Me Feel Like a Little Kid

The Ladies Who Lunch.

December 23rd is my favorite day of year.

In fact, the time spanning from December 20th through December 23rd are simply the most… “something…” days of the year. There is an unprecedented “something” in the air that simply can not be described. Everyone is excited. Every moment is cliché. Every emotion is extreme. Everyone is coming up romance, or regret, or worry, or melancholy. Everyone is pushing to get final projects done, or slacking from their work, or daydreaming their December away. Everyone is either making merry or bah humbugging the merry makers. And everyone outside of your immediate family is trying to get one last chance to see you before Christmas eve. Everyone is feeling “something.” And it seems as if everyone’s holiday treat has been laced with ecstasy.

I never really liked Christmas Day. It always felt like a big let down. The commercially fabricated Christmas specials, the emotionally induced high of gift giving and receiving, the spirituality, the evening parties, and all the rest of the “stuff” that was the previous month ends on that day, most likely by 10 am. In the past, I usually spent the rest of the day trying to find a way to recapture the magic 23rd.

Over the last two years, I have been gradually trying to alter my holiday perceptions. I always dreamt of hot cocoa, a holiday medley around the fire, and Vermont style inns. What I usually received was a nice holiday that never quite lived up to my unattainable Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye expectations. (My expectations often lead to excessively elaborate production numbers often involving a piano.)

This year, I have decided to try to make the best of everything that happens or does not happen. I have decided to make my holiday week a week worth remembering. I decided to fill it with fun and little expectation, and I decided to at least try to attend every extended invitation. I decided to make time for moments instead of succumbing to the pressure of the big picture.

View from the Parking Lot.

I headed to the Strip District on Tuesday to meet Sarah Wojdylak and Lisa Toboz on their lunch break. I was struck by the fact I had not really hung out in the Strip since working there many years ago. The smells, sights and sounds of that place both transports me to and makes me long for New York City. I had spent many a day eating crab cakes at Roland’s, fresh fish from Wholey’s, or devouring meatball subs while sitting on the roof of our office building watching the cars drive across the 16th street bridge. Gosh, I love the Strip.

Waiting at Sunseri's.

I saw Lisa’s plastic umbrella emerge through the crowds of holiday shoppers even before I saw the two of them walk towards me. The shape of her umbrella took me back to being a kid in the late 70s and early 80s. It’s one of those umbrellas that takes over the entire upper half of your body when you were a kid. It was always warm inside and your voice sounded modulated from the way it bounced off the clear thick walls. I imagined it as a giant snow globe and I immediately wanted to capture it “on film.” Prior to our meeting, we had briefly discussed trying to find a weird holiday display on this lunch break (maybe even dolling ourselves up in tinsel) and photographing ourselves in front of it; like some sort of weird Christmas card homage. But there were no real cheeky, technicolor-like displays in the Strip. Lisa mentioned an out-of-the-way church courtyard that may have “something” to it so we followed. I was fixated on the umbrella/snow globe. When we arrived we knew right away that we had found something wonderful. We excitedly passed around my shabby Nikon Coolpix point and shoot camera that has truly seen better days but still take great images. Our time was restricted due to their lunch schedules. I could have shot for another hour. I am grateful for these little impromptu sessions. They always reenergize me. I felt like a little kid posing and watching them inside our makeshift snow globe. It gave me that intangible, magical feeling you only get around the holidays.

Lisa's Plastic Fantastic Umbrella.

A friend of mine once described a difficult event in his life as someone “shaking up his snow globe.” This year, mine has been rattled to the point that I am still waiting for the snow to settle to reveal the fabrication inside. I am weirdly humbled and mostly thankful for all that has happened these past 12 months because it has led me to some joy filled moments happening right now, like this one: these snow globes of abstract something. I don’t know what the rest of this week will bring, but for now I leave you with this most recent set of makeshift snow globe moments (below) and I wish you all the merriest of holidays. (Photos by me, Sarah Wo and Lisa T. Thanks for the inspiration, ladies.)





Spinning Spirals at the Passing Planes: Tension and Release

The end of fall

I realize haven’t written an entry this blog in a very long time. No excuses, just life and the participation in an extremely long two months, filled with too many distractions/projects/illness. Time and a reoccurring flu became the very personification of an enemy. But even when the clock and toxic phlegm keeps a person from their written thoughts, those thoughts still manage to emerge, just in a less linear, more imperfect fashion. Over these past few months, my brain did a lot of scattered thinking and I experienced a few random moments that seemed much more linear at the time.

• • •

View from the Mausoleum

I watched them lower the coffin into its casing before lowering it into the sealed structure into the ground for all eternity. Another funeral. My seventh for the year. I am running out of black clothing. (That is something that this normally dark attired person never thought would transpire.)

I marveled at my shoes in the reflection of the hearse’s hub caps, as I pondered whether or not to take its picture. I didn’t…

I guess this seemed an appropriate ending to this year. It began with a death in the second month and ended with another death in the second to the last month. Little did I know there would be yet another death only a few weeks after this one.

Roadside Flower

I watched my husband and his brother witness the sealing of the coffin into a larger cement box. The process reminded me of Russian stacking dolls. The deceased’s name was etched on the top of the outer box. I didn’t photograph that either… My not photographing these moments is something I regretted at the time but I now realize they weren’t the moments I was meant to/needed to capture. The air was thick with enough final goodbyes and tension. Theses “photo moments” were merely insignificant interruptions no one should dwell on. Someone whispered over my shoulder about the sadness of “said and done” and “being left with nothing but a casket.”

The “box” was transported by a small crane driven by one of the grave diggers, lifted far too high and descended far too quickly into it’s final resting place. I had never seen anything like this set up and delivery. The cement encasing was carried along by nothing but two ropes looped around the left and right sides of the lid. The ropes were taught but could be removed easily. I asked my husband how on earth did he think that casket was being suspended without a hook, wire, or other apparatus securely affixed to it.

What’s holding it up?


I exhaled as he walked over to someone. That word hung there. There couldn’t have been more perfect utterance of syllables in that moment though neither one of us realized it’s significance but later discussed on the car ride home.

Picking a direction

…I lost track of time and got bogged down in the process. In my quest for simplicity, the simple became complex… Missed opportunities. Missed moments…

After eight funerals and eight funeral home visits and eight reflections and eight observances, I realized the words that were being uttered there were the same words I was uttering to myself.

If we’re lucky, we choose to build our lives on ourselves first, and then on something or someone substantial. Relationships are led by our choices and finding joy within the company you keep. But sometimes we thrive on tensions, and those tensions are the only thing holding our everything together. We can not remove the tension without removing the supportive ropes. And the ropes are our only connective tissue. Observing things now, I have seen tension in place of too much for far too long for far too many, all bubbling underneath the surface.

• • •

Passenger planes outside my window

I watched the planes take off at the tiny restaurant beside the tiny airport. We dined in the Frank Sinatra room. There were pictures of Ol’ Blue Eyes everywhere. I couldn’t imagine Sinatra hanging out in Latrobe. But there he was, looking right at me in glossy black and white. We were the only ones dining that afternoon. The sky was beautiful. I was moving from window to window trying to see as much as I could. I had arrived at a restless sense of peace for a moment for the first time in a long year.

I watched my niece make faces in the kitschy wall-sized mirrors. I knew this transition year was coming to a close, and the Pandora’s box of revelations that have simultaneously surprised, and empowered, and exhausted me on an almost daily basis were temporarily at bay. The recognition of those I love and those who love me were coming into focus.

The food was delicious and the company calming. We drove home full and ready to nap.

Frank Sinatra Room

There are so many other thoughts to have, but they all seem distant and stale. So for now, I leave behind some imagery relating to this entry as well as a few random moments of “somethings” from the last two months. Hopefully I am leaving death behind and coming into newfound words and images in the weeks to come.

• • •