Friday, October 31, 2014

On Halloween

The other week we'd gone on a co-op field trip to an area patch. The kids were happy to run off and play at the different attractions. I caught a few pictures and hung out with the moms.

I even snuck off for an apple cider donut (shh).

Later that afternoon was my niece's wedding rehearsal and we headed to that side of the county. I realized, as we were leaving the patch, we hadn't done the hayride or purchased a pumpkin.

"I just grab a $2.99 one at the store," one mom said to me. Very different from years past when we'd head to the local pick-your-own and I'd have a ball photographing my kids in a seas of orange pumpkins.

But that's what I did. On the way home one morning from a photo session for a family reunion, I stopped off at a country store, got a package of apple cider donuts, and two pumpkins.

Erin painted hers. She left it outside to dry. The next day, I noticed the dog had paint all over her legs.

"Where's your pumpkin, Erin?" I asked.

"It's outside," she said.

And it was, on the back lawn with a good quarter of it missing--likely, in the dog's stomach. I hoped she wouldn't get diarrhea.

This year, Lanie is dressing up as a cheerleader, and Erin and I were out last night at the craft store getting brown felt because she wants to be a puppy. God help us. My sewing skills are awful (flashback to the year I tried to make Lanie a cat, and she resembled a skunk. A two year old will not remember these things.)

Erin's good friend Viviana is coming over to join us for dinner and trick-or-treating.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


This past weekend was busy with the camera. My niece asked me if I'd photograph her wedding rehearsal, and I felt so honored that she'd want me to. Of course, I said yes!

The next morning, a dear friend allowed me to come over and photograph her family--her father is terminal and his children and grandchildren came for a last visit. I was a crying mess all week long as I thought about the privilege to be a part of their lives at this time, and hoped and prayed I'd give them images they could enjoy.

It was hard to meet this man, so loved and so loving, to feel the warmth of his hands, to see his eyes and he looked into mine--his were so strong and his look was intentional. This shoot completely changed me.

Sunday, two families came to our house to let me practice on photographing groups, learning how to work with people and natural light. I learned a lot. I have a lot more to learn too.

Today, two more families are coming out, and I have at least six more in queue over the next few weeks.

I'm not charging for the shoots because I'm so thankful for the experience and practice. My kids probably are too--having been my subjects for their whole lives.

Sunday, Shane got in on the action by helping me find good light in the yard. I'd tell him where to stand, and then I'd step back and take his picture. We walked all over the yard. He was such a great sport. I put together a collage of him doing this. And for whatever reason, I howled with laughter because he was my light model and that the families who came here were in all those same spots where I put him.

He indulged me with a few selfies. He even smiled.

Monday, October 27, 2014

One thousand gifts and still counting (6173-6188)

Such a blur of a weekend. Thankful, Lord:

for entering into private times with families as they celebrate

and as they mourn

for opportunities to serve

a niece's wedding
a last reunion
the warmth of his handshake, and the kindness in his eyes
dinner with Linda (and laughter over burned chicken)
someone to watch our kids overnight

glitter shoes on loan from a friend
a pretty blue dress
faces encountered over years and occasions
red wine
70s music

a filling calendar for photo shoots
the delight of learning
and the joy of giving it away

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Black walnuts and wood stacks

Despite the weekend wind, I was outside raking leaves and cleaning plant beds and driving the tractor over leaf mounds. We haven't lost even half of the leaves, and already I feel like I'm behind.

Next I went into the field to pick black walnuts off the ground. This year's harvest is abundant. I watched a video by a Canadian man explaining what to do with these nuggets. Peeled off the green outer layer. A water bath to mix the nuts against each other as an abrasion for any remaining pulp. Cure in a sack for two weeks. Hammer apart and pick from the five chambers. 

"Why are you doing this?" Shane asked, Erin and I outside at the time, peeling off the green.

"Because we have them, and I wanted to try it," I said.

I got as far as bagging them to cure. Hands stained. I did wear gloves for half the work, but didn't realize how stained my hands were becoming in the water, tossing and turning the mixture. The stain deepened overnight. I don't care.


I told some people at co-op about the walnuts. One woman commented how her dad loves black walnuts--I invited her over to get some. Another student who has a love for culinary arts wanted some too.

The woman showed up after school yesterday, here for the first time. I looked around at leaves on the patio and dirt on the walkways from potting and dog hair swept into a pile on the floor. A bag awaited the recycle can. Was anything clean? (Can anything be clean in the woods?)

I know full well: some women will judge you if your house is dirty, or if it's clean.

I felt an apology ready to spill. But then, she didn't notice, and looking at the land she said, "Your place is beautiful."

We talked about remodel projects and cold, old houses and I felt like she understood me.

We walked to the field with bags to fill. Her sons helped. I explained what I learned while we filled the bags to bulging. We walked back up the hill.


Today, I went outside to load my arms with wood. Looked at the sun rising and shining through the woods line. Dew glistened. I grabbed the dry wood and started a fire for the school day.

weekend first fire, absolutely delicious

kids taking over the dog mat in front of the first fire

black walnuts

Tuesday home work day by the fire. Oh, those braids. Oh, those toes.