Down Dirt Roads: Wooden Silo

20150724-041JB had urged me to get some photographs of the wooden silo on Henry Road in northern Jackson County so Julie and I put it on our agenda for last week. It felt like an exciting find for us, but I also felt grief. Michigan has so many wooden barns, but the winters are harsh and the owners we have talked to say they are very expensive to maintain so they are having to let them deteriorate. Some are covering them with metal or vinyl.

I have photographed lots of silos but this one captured my heart as no other. What makes it so special is the workmanship. The people who built it had tremendous skill in working with wood, and put a tremendous amount of effort into it. I wish I knew in what year it was built.20150724-035The person who built it took great care to make it solid and study. It must have been a younger man – but not too young. He would have had to be old enough to have developed the skill but young enough to believe it would serve his family forever. I hope this family prospered. I wonder if there are ancestors who remember, and grieve the loss of his work.

20150724-033I’m a realist, and know that for everything there is a season. Life entails loss, lots of it, and we grieve. It is a part of our human condition to mourn those things that were but are now being lost. It seems that I notice those things that are being lost more so now that I am old. Maybe when we are young we are so focused on building and creating, so absorbed with thinking about our future, so sure it will go on forever, that we don’t notice what is being lost. It makes me wonder what part of our current culture will be mourned 70 years from now.

Patch, Patch, Patch

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A few years ago, friend Barb said that old age is a process of “patch, patch, patch.” We weren’t that old when she said this but I laughed because I was old enough to begin feeling it. Now I really get it.

In my younger years I went to the doctor with the expectation that whatever was wrong would be fixed. I didn’t have any chronic conditions so with some pills, ointment or a scalpel my acting up body could be made good as new. In the past few years the goal of my medical treatment has shifted. First I am sent for an x-ray or some other more sinister test to make sure there isn’t something “serious” going on. Then the work begins. Patch, patch, patch.

They call it life-style changes – until there isn’t any style left to my life. Maybe I could keep a food diary to find out what is irritating my digestive system – although I already know what foods don’t agree with me. They are the foods I enjoy eating, that I eat when I am with friends or for date night. I’m flexible and can compromise by ordering something different – I suppose. But research says that, after good health, having a strong, caring social network is most import for graceful, happy aging. Sitting around a table, laughing with friends who love me, and sharing food that is good (but not good for me) is just what the researcher ordered. Trumps my doc, although I do a good job of eating healthy foods when I do the cooking.

Another life-style change I have been urged to make is exercising. Now this is even harder for me than changing my eating habits. It is a whole new concept; there is nothing to change because exercise was never a part of my life. I hated gym class. If I hadn’t loved math and English and government classes, I would have quit school because of gym class. Now I am working to embrace exercise as a life-style. I have my feet taped to decrease heal pain so I can walk. I go to a gym to keep my core and legs strong so I don’t fall. I climb stairs to… well, to keep my titanium knees working so I can climb stairs. I carry a step counter in my pocket to motivate me to take a few more every day to keep my bones from breaking. Patch, patch, patch.

I think I’ve accepted the fact that my body is wearing out, meaning that I will face deterioration for the rest of my life. Put like that, it hits hard. It is scary. But I have also felt something close to relief since I accepted this fact. I am no longer fighting a losing battle of trying to get back the body I had 20 years ago. It has helped me focus on what I can do to maintain as much functioning as I can while realizing that I can also relax with the flow of time. There is real joy in taking a guilt-free nap on those days when I need one.

I’ve never been happier. I think this a lot but hesitate to say it out loud. There is a part of me that says that can’t be. How can a person be happiest at 70 when her body is falling apart and death is right around the corner? Wasn’t I happier as a newly wed, as a young mother, when I went back to school, when I was having a successful career? I was very happy then, but this is where I am, and my life is the best I can make it for who I am, what I am, and where I am. I can’t be who I was, and don’t want to be. To add to the lyrics that inspired me in another decade, “I am woman. I am now.”

Thursday Lingering Look at Windows

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Yesterday we were very happy dirt-road travelers, Julie and I. Michigan has been very gray and rainy since early spring so we haven’t had many outings and when we went out we weren’t happy travelers. Yesterday was absolutely perfect after a few nasty, stormy days.

We pulled off the road because I wanted a photo of a hay field that was in the process of being mowed. We had arrived at US-12 were there are a few commercial buildings so we lingered a while. This two-lane truck route goes between Detroit and Chicago, kind of like a service road to I-94 that goes through lots of small towns. It was originally called the Sauk Trail and later the Detriot-Chicago Turnpike. We were at the small community of Somerset Center and these photos of windows are of a building that was built and run as a general store, post office, and social meeting place since 1871. Well, until it became an antique store.

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Fai Chan’s Photography: Bluebird on Evergreen

Bluebird on Evergreen (1 of 1)My friend, Fai Chan, loves to take photos of birds – like traveling great distances to go to places where different birds are sited hoping to catch a glimpse and a good image. He also like to attract birds to his back yard so he can take their picture through the sliding glass door. He e-mails me photos with a short message about where or how he took the photo. I obtained permission to feature his photos on my blog so I’ll be sharing them periodically.

Here is what he said about photographing this beauty. I love what you did with the green, Fai.

Now that the pair of bluebirds has lost all inhibition to come to the perch and ask for food, I thought that I would put a small evergreen next to the perch and put some crickets on the evergreen today.  The results are shown in the attached picture.  I toned down the green color and let the blue show.  I like the blue and green contrast very much.  He is actually looking for crickets in the evergreen.
I have another week or so before the babies are hatched, I might try some yellow or red flowers and see if they would perch on the flower.  Just keep the rain coming because they ask for food more often during rainy days.