Saturday, August 30, 2008

Jewelry Haiku and Limerick

Mad Kane's current prompt is "jewelry, crafts and engagements".

I read this haiku and the following limerick ov
er the phone to my son in Denver. The limerick brought a snort of laughter, then he said, "Isn't that kind of gruesome?" So, in order that you not think that I am bloodthirsty, I offer the haiku first:

Diamond ring sparkles
intentions of life-long love.
Plain gold ring seals it.

Yes, that's my hand and it shows my age.
I was holding my camera in one hand
to take a picture of the other hand.
My diamond really sparkles a lot more than that!

CHOKER (limerick)

Amanda was known to be feckless
And also was frequently reckless.
With a flick of her wrist
Her beads were atwist
And she strangled herself with her necklace.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Machu Pichu was somewhere we always intended to visit.
At left is daughter Candace.

(Somewhere is the prompt from Sunday Scribblings)

Somewhere is a seeker’s word, a dreamer’s word, a Will-’o-the wisp. It is the siren song that lures one on but can never be reached. When the dream is achieved or the lost is found, somewhere loses its first five letters and is transmuted into here.

The old prospector knows that
somewhere there is gold. Perhaps he is doomed to wander fruitlessly in search of it. But “Eureka!” He has found a trove of golden chips! He has found the mother lode! Now the gold isn’t somewhere. It is here, where he must face the reality of back-breaking labor in the heat of the day, of nights plagued with mosquitoes, with the details of filing his claim then protecting it with his rifle by his side. Somewhere was vague and dreamlike. Here is harsh fact.

The tiny lost child is
somewhere. Her frantic parents search the neighborhood, imagine accident or abduction, call her name, finally find her weeping because she has lost her way. She is no longer somewhere, she is here, safe in the warm circle of her father’s arms.

Somewhere can be a terrible place. Somewhere in Africa a mother holds her skeletal babe who is dying of starvation. You know it is happening somewhere because you have seen the pictures. But for the volunteer who is on the scene, it is the dreadful here on a scale that defies his resources.

I once dreamt that
somewhere there was a man whom I could love forever. He is no longer somewhere; he is here in this room, still asleep at this early morning hour. And where has somewhere gone? It must be somewhere else.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

F is for Fluttering Flight

Mrs. Nesbitt has worked our way down to the letter F for ABC Wednesday Anthology and/or ABC Wednesday Round 3 See these for other fascinating F entries.

I have many photos of butterflies that have landed on flowers, but I wanted to capture them in flight. These two are still fluttering their way to lunch. I read somewhere that butterflies were originally called Flutterbys, and that the word butterfly, which we use, was originally intended as a joke. Do you suppose that's true?

I couldn't resist adding this Fluttering Fairy in Flight seen at the Berkeley Kite festival.

Friday, August 22, 2008

How I Met The Love Of My Life

Otto up a tree with a
sack of salamanders.

My best friend, Ba, and I sat across from one another in a booth of The Cellar, a favorite meeting place on the Stanford campus. As we sipped chocolate cokes from The Cellar fountain and waited for our sandwiches, she caught me up on the events of the last two weeks. While I had been away on vacation between summer and autumn quarters of 1939, she had become friends with Bill Johnson, a very nice graduate student of electrical engineering. He had been meeting her here almost every day at lunchtime. She had barely finished telling me this when Bill appeared, accompanied by another student.

“This is Otto Smith,” Bill and Ba chorused, hardly taking their eyes off each other as Bill slid into the booth beside Ba. Which left Otto to slide in beside me.

This is the bare tale of how I met my future husband. But was it love at first sight? Not by a long shot! We made pleasant conversation, established that I was majoring in art and that Otto was a graduate student of electrical engineering and an assistant at the Ryan High-Voltage Laboratory.

During the autumn quarter, a sort of loose alliance formed among five or so electrical engineering students and Ba’s and my best friends. It had started largely because of Bill’s and Ba’s growing infatuation. None of the rest of us paired off (yet), but we went on picnics and hikes together, riding in Bill’s already antique Hudson named Bessie, or Bill Brennner’s equally ancient car. I think I sat with Otto in the rumble seat of the latter on one of our excursions.

During Christmas break, the YMCA and YWCA planned a folk-dancing party at the Duveneck’s ranch in the foothills of the Coast Range. The Duvenecks generously shared their property with many worthwhile organizations. Their beautiful home, where the party was to be held, was set among tall redwoods.

Bill and Ba offered me a ride to the party in Bessie, which I accepted happily, as I had no wheels of my own. When they arrived I was surprised to see Otto was sitting in the back seat, since I knew that Margaret was planning to go with him. But then I thought that we would also go to pick her up too.

But no. The car wound its way through the foothills, and Otto held my hand. Lights streamed from the ballroom of the Spanish style house and music had already started when we arrived. To me, happiness is a fast polka or schottishe, and Otto apparently agreed. We danced. And danced. We became so hot from the exercise that cups of punch no longer sufficed, and we escaped through the French doors into the damp coolness of a foggy night, with fog drifting among the huge trunks of the redwoods and a carpet of soft needles underfoot. We held hands and drifted downhill, and suddenly I felt like a bird about to fly. That was the beginning of my falling in love with Otto.

And I’m still in love with him sixty-nine years later.

Otto Smith, the love of my life

P.S. Ba and Bill wed not long after, and lived many happy years together until Bill’s death. Otto and I were guests at Ba’s 90th birthday party last December.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

E is for Evening of Eve

The ABC Wednesday Round 3 letter of the day is E

As the sun set, the sky above the trees
was a promise of joy for the wedding tomorrow

On the Eve of Cedric's and Susan's wedding. I shot most of these photos of the "rehearsal dinner" (i.e. barbecue in the beautiful backyard of daughter Candace and son-in-law Clinton, the parents of the groom) on the Evening of August eighth. To see photos of the wedding, see my previous post.

Long buffet table laden with fresh, newly-picked corn
and several varieties of potatoes
from the farm,
salads, and steak, chicken, and salmon from Clinton's grill.

Clinton tends barbecue grill (out of sight of feasters) enveloped in smoke.
(photo by Candace?)

The groom joins his Uncle Otto and Aunt Kristin
in serenading the feasters.

The lawn is surrounded by flower beds and trees.

Three long picnic tables seated the wedding party and their families.
(photo by Candace or Clinton)

As the sun set, lanterns were lighted among the trees


A few Evening flowers among the many hundreds.

For more E entries, see ABC Wednesday Round 3 and Wednesday ABC!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cedric's and Susan's wedding

The sun shone on Susan's and Cedric's wedding on August 9 in St. Michael's Church in Ontario, Oregon. Otto and I, as grandparents of the groom, were seated in the front right pew, giving me an almost unobscured view of the altar. I carried my new Cannon S5 SS digital camera, which I set unobtrusively on my lap. With its larger view window and X12 zoom capabilities, I didn't have to even lift it to compose the photos I wanted to capture. And of course I kept the flash firmly disabled. I wasn't sure whether I should have been using a camera in a Catholic church, but when the younger priest winked at me, I felt reassured. The blue cast to the photos is due to the large, predominately blue, stained glass window at the front of the church.

This is just a quick overview of this happy event (mostly for you, Joni!). There will be more tomorrow about the after-rehearsal barbecue in the yard of Candace's and Clinton's house, etc.

The photo at left above is of the flowers at the right of the alter, echoed, of course, by its twin on the opposite side.
And below is the beautiful bride.

Susan's cousin was matron of honor and Cedric's brother, Byron, was best man.

Susan and Cedric just radiated happiness as they became Mr. and Mrs. Shock.

The wedding was followed by a luncheon and reception with dancing. Below, Cedric dances with the flower girl. I had not yet mastered action shots with my new camera, so I apologize for somewhat blurry shots.

And Susan dances with the little ring bearer, now divested of his formal clothes
and wearing a Spiderman suit.

Here is a photo of the groom's family
composed by the official wedding photographer
but snapped by son Otto's wife, Kristin, from a stairway.

Kneeling at the sides of husband Otto and me
are grandsons Cedric and Byron. In the rear are
granddaughter Myrtle (one of Susan's bride's maids)
and son-in-law Clinton Shock and daughter Candace.

And it would be a shame to omit a photo of Otto and Kristin,
who provided music at the barbecue and as guests arrived at the reception.
I didn't get a picture of them at the reception entrance, but here they are at the barbecue.
This is the only picture here not taken on the day of the wedding.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Observer in South America

The Sunday Scribblings prompt for this week is observations.

Observer Sterling at San Julian, Argentina

My father, Allen Sterling was hired in 1916 by the Carnegie Institution at Washington to be an "observer.” The specific thing that he was hired to observe was terrestrial magnetism of the South American continent.

As you can see by this second page of guidance (above) to “observer Sterling”, his instructions were very vague. In the next few years and three separate postings, he observed on both coasts and from the Equator to the tip of Tierra del Fuego, crossed the Andes on horseback, rafted down tributaries of the Amazon, and was the the first white man to penetrate areas of the interior of Venezuela and Brazil. Whereas he had been advised to go up tributaries of the Amazon as far as “navigation and steamboat schedules readily permit”, he did one better than that: he crossed the Andes and rafted down tributaries, thus establishing observation stations at places that would have been inaccessible by any other method.

On muleback at about 16,500 feet.

One of Daddy's tales was of riding up a narrow switchbacked trail that was one mule wide (Or was he on a horse? He used both at various mountain crossings). It was so steep and difficult that they speculated as to whether there would be any shelter where they could spend the night. Reaching the top, they found a large well-equipped hotel - with a grand piano in the lobby! Every part of it would have had to be transported up that one narrow trail.

On a raft such as the one in the picture below, he traveled with an indigenous guide with whom he communicated in bad Spanish, which neither spoke well. “He was my best friend,” my father would tell me.

Raft at Collapo, September 1917.

It was at a village along one of the tributaries of the Amazon that Daddy acquired a little spider monkey. It seemed happy at first to be traveling with its two new friends. In fact, every night it insisted on curling up on Daddy's face. Several days later there was a commotion of monkey calls (what did they sound like? I wish I knew!) and the little spider monkey responded and became very agitated, obviously wanting to join his own kind again. Daddy was tremendously lonesome for the girl he loved (eventually his wife, my mother) and sympathized. They put ashore and let the monkey leap joyously into the jungle.

All of the snapshots above were sent back by Daddy to the Carnegie Institution and are in their archives.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

D is for dragon

The Wednesday ABC letter of the day is D

I am enamored of dragons: I collect them as figurines and carvings and toys. I also draw dragons. Some drawings are "serious", such as the large drawing of Dramock (my
favorite dragon) entering a cave. Some are humorous, such as that of Brom, that mischievous imp at the right or like poor little Freebie at left below, who is looking for someone to adopt a little dragon who, when excited, breathes fire, which is bad for curtains, furniture and even the "I am free" sign that he is holding.

Dramock entering cave

Night dragon

Here I am looking at my dragon display case.

This is a Chinese dragon my friend, Frances Townes,
brought me from China. Chinese dragons have no wings.

This embroidery is approximately full size before enlarging.
Be sure to click on it to see the fine (almost unbelievable) workmanship.

I even write poetry about them. This sonnet is not new, but possibly appropriate:

I’ve never tried to trap a unicorn.
It’s not more graceful, say, than a gazelle,
an earthly beast I’m sure would do as well;
and what’s so great about a single horn?

Nor have I tried to snare a horse with wings.
I’ve flown across the sky, but in a jet.
I see no earthly use for such a pet;
I’ll save my sugar cubes to sweeten things.

But dragons! Ah, now that’s a different story:
great flailing tails that slither, thrash, and crash,
tough armored scales to hide the wicked core,
the iridescent wings a blue-black glory,
the knobbly claws whose talons rake and slas
My favorite mythic beasts breathe fire and roar!

For beautiful "D" photos and entries go to Wednesday ABC! or ABC Wednesday Round 3.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Sunday Scribblings-ASK

The Sunday Scribblings prompt is "Ask". Sometimes the problem with asking a question in order to determine a course of action is that the question asked is not the right one.

I am in Ontario, Oregon to attend the wedding tomorrow of my grandson, Cedric Shock. There are lots of relatives to visit and have fun with, and I don't have time to write something original. So I will post something
very old: my very first published work in a national magazine. This is a scan of the original verse in Country Gentleman of November, 1949. Country Gentleman was a Curtis publication, a sister magazine of The Saturday Evening Post.

The bracket is one I drew, of course. As though I couldn't find my own verse on the page!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

C is for Costa Rica and Cathedral

Wednesday ABC! calls for a "C" today.

In 2004 Otto and I took a trip to Costa Rica and Nicaragua. These photos were all taken before I had a digital camera.

This iguana was spotted near Curu, Costa Rica

This bell is in the Cathedral at Leon, Nicaragua.

This bit of street theater is in front of the Cathedral in Leon, Nicaragua.
Behind the dancers (on stilts) you can see the bell that is in the previous photo.

For more fascinating photos inspired by the letter "C" go to WednesdayABC! or ABC Wednesday Round 3

Friday, August 1, 2008

Do I Have To

The Sunday Scribblings prompt for this week is “Do I have to?” And because I am trying to get things together for a trip to Oregon next week to attend the wedding of my grandson. I will not try to answer any weighty questions such as “Why do I have to pay taxes to support wars I don’t approve of?” or “Why do I have to pay taxes so that big corporations can have their taxes cut?”

No, I will answer a more personal question: “Do I have to go to sleep when it’s dark?” Oh, I stay up late at night, even into the early morning, but only in well-lighted spaces. As soon as I turn out the light, I go out - well, out like a light!

One of the most embarrassing examples of this “have to” occurred several years ago when Otto and I, long past our own university days, decided to take a course in astronomy from one of the most charismatic professors on the campus, the noted astronomer, Dr. Alexei Filippenko. His lectures were clear, often funny, never anything but fascinating. Our problem (“ours” since Otto has a lot of that same “have to”) was that the lectures took place in the great, elliptical, partially underground, windowless, physical sciences lecture hall.

Note that word “windowless”. After the flocks of students trooped down from the entrance to find a place in the arced tiers of seats, the general lighting was turned off, leaving only the pool of light at the lecturer’s podium or the occasional beam from the projection room as slides were shown.

Otto and I at first stayed near the back of the hall. In the darkness our eyelids would droop, and we would lose consciousness until roused by some burst of laughter. We would try again to concentrate on the podium, but at the end of the class and the return of the general lighting we would wake up, heads leaned precariously against one another.

We decided that something must be done to correct this situation. It wasn’t that we weren’t enjoying the course. Dr. Filippenko left copious notes that we could access at the library, the assigned problems were challenging. But we wanted to hear his lectures!

We decided to sit far down the room practically under his nose. We wouldn’t dare to fall asleep there, would we? Yes, we would! The question of “Do I (we) have to sleep when it’s dark” was answered!

We studied hard, but Prof. Filippenko must have been surprised that we ranked second and third in the final exam for that humungous class. Otto ranked #2 and I ranked #3. A Japanese student was #1 with a perfect score. Maybe he had heard the lectures.