Notes About This & That and Aging

I was waiting in the car while Jim ran into the hardware store, getting a little perturbed that he had stopped at a table of discounted merchandise outside the front door. I was in pain and wanted to go home. Then he turned around and started walking back to the car, towards my side, he had a question for me. I watched him walk across the parking lot and I thought about how he walked the walk of older men whose muscles aren’t as strong and joints not a flexible as when they were in a younger man’s body. And I thought, Oh how I love that man that he is today; I love his aging body, his maturity, his gentleness, our shared laughter and our shared fear. He asked if I wanted one of those retractable rulers that was marked down to $2, for my quilting. I said no but to buy it because I knew what we could use it for. He smiled really big as he was gazing in my eyes, turned and walked back to the store to also buy some birdseed. It continues to amaze me, as we are navigating old age, that the changes taking place in our bodies, the wrinkles, the sags, the age spots, the brain lapses, and decreased energy just don’t matter. Is my eyesight getting really bad or do I see these things but they don’t trigger the emotions of “being old” because what I see with my heart and soul is a beautiful man who has been my best friend for over 60 years. 

Bird of Paradise

We are now in Florida but it was a really rocky road getting here. During the past year both of us have hit some health pot-holes that threaten to change our lifestyle significantly and trigger unwanted thoughts that our days together are numbered. We had days when we were angry that our bodies were old and failing us. We had days when we were frustrated that all we seem to do is go to health care appointments and as problems are being checked out with imaging and blood tests, other problems are identified. And the best we could do to keep us going was to tell each other that it was better than the alternative. A lot of gallows humor crept into our conversations. But we made it to Florida after a week’s delay for me to visit a new doctor and to get pain under control because I fell down backwards, my already compromised lower spine hitting cement. We have both found some good solutions, if not cures, for the most pressing problems. But I am once again wrestling with the meaning of life and death.

Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann

I went through the frustration of another changing of our clocks, back from “daylight saving time” last weekend. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t very big, just another minor frustration similar to a clothing tag that irritates my neck or side. But I do get a little feisty on those two dates each year when it happens. I mean, what does “daylight saving” even mean. If they really want to save daylight they should gather some of the sunlight of the long days of summer into a “light box” and release it over the dark days of winter for those who live closer to the North Pole than to the Equator. Maybe I should just give up this phantom battle and view it as just another slight shift in light similar to taking a short trip across time zones or migrating back and forth from Michigan to Florida.


This morning I was reading some articles in the New York Times about chronic pain and thinking about some new insights I gained about being in charge of my own treatment, especially in finding exercise that helps and doesn’t hurt my unique chronic pain. Jim was leaving for a bike ride and I initiated the following conversation:

I’m reading some articles on chronic pain and am thinking that I feel best after spending some time walking around with my camera. If the car is gone when you get back, I have either gone to the beach or Fliechman’s Park.

What’s that got to do with climate change?

I look at him as my brain contorts a little in my skull and start chuckling. I said “chronic pain.” 

He joins with a belly laugh as he says he heard “climate change.” 

We both love the fact that we can laugh about our strange interactions/actions that seem to have multiplied as we have worked our way through our 70’s.

A new place to “sit a spell” in the Naples Botanical Garden

No matter our age, may we all find that magic balance, that sweet spot that encompasses both taking control of our lives to make them better and giving up some control to let others help us through the rocky spots. Stay safe and love much.

Sculpture, Art and Architecture

When I saw that this week’s Lens-Artist Photo Challenge is “Interesting Architecture” the only photos I could think worthy were used in a post I published in 2013. I had to go back in my posts (way back) to find the photos but decided that I couldn’t do much better than my original post. I hope all will forgive me for repeating – especially if you followed me and can remember the post from 8 years ago.

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I don’t think any building has impacted me as much as the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. I’ve seen some pretty amazing buildings in big cities such as Chicago, London, St. Petersburg, and Washington D.C that are huge and elegant and gilded in gold. I’ve also enjoyed some very impressive world-class art museums. The Broad Art Museum is small, a basement and two floors, with a small footprint but it packs a big wallop. There are three display rooms that are the typical, windowless rooms that hold a special display. I’m not going tell you about it because these rooms and this art could be most anywhere in the world.

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Instead I am going to tell you about the building and the art and the building that is art, from the outside in. It is new and very modern. I am not turned off by modern but I’m not usually drawn into it. It doesn’t speak to my soul – until now. This is the full length of the building, completely covered with metal panels forming different patterns of light and shadow and lines. Even the bench and the landscaping become a part of the angular design. The whole exterior is covered with angular panels.

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The two sides come to a point at one end (top image), with the main entrance in the shorter side of the triangular shaped structure and another entrance under the apex. It looks like an impenetrable fortress until I see glimpses inside. As I walk around the outside, lines and shapes draw me in and begin to open the structure ever so subtly. Let yourself be drawn in too, by clicking on the first photo of each gallery to see larger images.

The front entrance seems closed and hidden but as I move closer it opens up. I am drawn in by light panels on the ground that are designed to pull my eyes to the building. I am drawn in by the sculpture by the front entrance that feels softer and curved until closer inspection reveals that it, too, is angular. I am drawn in by the angular shapes and lines of the building that show me where to go. It plays with my emotions – holding me out while drawing me closer.

I walked in and stop, taking it in, surprised. It is a small space in area but not visually. Walls that are solid from the outside are filled with windows.

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The solid fortress is open and full of light so that the inside and outside become one. As I move through the building, busy Grand River Avenue becomes a part of the art. This very modern building integrates with the older brick buildings of the campus.

I move further into the building and see that every detail becomes a work of art, the art of the architecture.

Most amazing is the integration of art and architectural form. When I walk into the first exhibition room I am drawn to the side wall. The art is subtle, almost not visible, feeling like a shadow.

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I walk closer to see what makes the shadows, the movement, the undulating lines. This art isn’t hanging on the wall, it is a part of the wall. I look from multiple angles to see the pins, the string, the shadows of pins and string, and the glistening heads of pins. I step back to see the sum of the parts, repeating the process again and again.

There aren’t many pieces of art but all are artfully displayed and frequently seem to become a part of the architecture. I feel as if I am a part of the space and from this perspective the art becomes alive – interactive. As I move around the space, from side to side, from main floor to balcony, from room to room, the art interacts with light and architectural lines to form new images.

We were most intrigued with a sculpture of hexagons hanging on very thin threads. The tops are mirrors and the bottoms have designs painted on them so they reflect what is above as they gently move with the air currents caused by passing visitors. They also reflect the light from the windows, my clothing, and my camera lens. It is like an open air kaleidoscope; it is mesmerizing.

I walk across the gallery and sit on a bench to take in the room. I realize how much this sculpture is a part of the architecture, the architecture supports the sculpture, the architecture is a part of the art, and visitors become a part of the exhibit.

In fact I begin to notice that people become an important part of the interactive experience of this structure, of the art.

This is what a museum should be like. This stimulates my intellect that loves the interactive integration that results in a total that is greater than the sum of the individual parts. It excites my emotions because what is, is not what it seems to be.


A Whole Lot of Sand

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Lake Michigan, Michigan

We have been visiting the Sleeping Bear Dunes for many years, beginning when our children were small and they tried to climb the big dune so they could walk across it’s top to where they could see the water of Lake Michigan. I remember hearing one daughter yelling in panic to me. She was almost half way up and couldn’t proceed because she was afraid she was going to fall of. I had to climb up to hold her tight as we slid down the very big sandy hill.

It is now a National Shoreline and it is possible to drive to the top and walk along a boardwalk to view down the long, steep face of the dunes to the water below. People can go down this hill, but there are warning about the 2 1/2 hour walk back up and the cost that climbers would incur if they needed to be rescued. I can’t comprehend how many grains of sand are making up these massive dunes. These are high dunes!

I was amazed when I processed these photos they triggered my height anxiety. I know I was safe when I took the photos but when I look at them I feel the fear my daughter felt – I experience the fear of falling down the hill.

I hope this is enough sand for Cee’s CFFC: Sand or Dirt.

Macro Wildflower Seeds

The main purpose of macro photography is to capture the intricacies of a subject that we normally don’t register with our eyes. It allows us to slow down and look deeper into the soul of nature.

In response to Cee’s CFFC: Macro or Close-up.

A Blustery Day at the Beach

The wind was blowing hard, and the waves were rumbling.

A blow-your-hat-off blustery day at the beach.

On Thursday night a front went through that lowered the temperature and humidity here in southern Florida. I sat on the lanai watching the lightening and listening to the thunder exploding and rumbling around us and felt cool rain, misted through the screens, fall on my warm skin. Jim joined me so we ooh-ed and wow-ed together, then laughed out loud.

The next morning Jim saw on the local news that the waves were 11 feet high at the pier but I had physical therapy so I couldn’t think about checking it out. That evening we went for supper at Alice Sweetwater (isn’t that a wonderful name for a pub/restaurant) and split a wonderful baked cod with crab stuffing. Our supper was so very enjoyable but I was also thinking about our plan to go to the beach to see if the waves were still high. High waves are a treat for me because the Gulf is generally calmer than the Atlantic coast on the other side of Florida.

We were over an hour early for sunset but the sun was low, sending rays down through the clouds, and down the beach to the right were some wind surfers taking advantage of the wind and waves.

Is that an urban skyline reflected on the beach? Naples doesn’t have building more than three stories high.

The Naples beach is a long, public beach with every east/west street ending at the beach with parking. Where we parked the beach was narrower than at other places and it was close to high tide. I had to point one eye down to make sure the surf didn’t come up over my shoes as I was keeping my other eye looking through the viewfinder. We have had a super tide (when high tide, a full moon, and extreme change in atmospheric pressure converge) and high tides due to hurricanes but I have never been on the beach when it was this high.

What fun to watch the waves reach out long onto the beach and then retreat, only to return to stretch even further, leaving behind white foam that would blow further inward toward the high side of the beach.

Is that snow I see?

This sand structure touches my personal story somehow, but I’m not sure how. If and when I figure it out I can use this as the lead photo for, as Paul Harvey used to say, “and that’s the rest of the story.”

Thank you, Amy, for this wonderful Lens-Artist Challenge: A Day of my Week. Check out her post for her beautiful images, links to other’s posts, and to participate yourself.