Wednesday, February 24, 2021

In the Shadow X 3

 Over at Dee's, she's recently posted a photographic prompt.

 "The prompt for this writing was to imagine someone in shadow."

It caught my imagination immediately. That prompt along with a recent email conversation with a family friend, which brought to mind a childhood photo. It's not the one below, as the one I was thinking of couldn't be found. The missing photo is these same 3 girls, minus the mother.  Here is what I would write based on my memories about that photo.

It's the early 1960's and three young girls are visiting a beach in sunny California. The adults ask the girls to pose on the 3 rung ladder of the monkey bars. The two big girls are asked to sit on the top rung, side-by-side. They place their sandy feet on the middle rung, ready to smile for the camera. The little girl is placed on the bottom rung, their feet brushing up against her and her own feet firmly planted in the hot sand. She scowls at the camera, the adults and even the big girls above and behind her. She wants to sit up top with 'the girls', or maybe in the middle, even if it's too squishy. She doesn't understand why she can't be with them. She knows she has the physical skills to climb up there. She feels left out, unseen, apart. She may be two years old, but she feels five years old like them. The camera shutter snaps the photo showing the two big girls grinning and each one hanging on to the support bar on her side, chests puffed out, and the little girl bent over into the space between the bottom two rungs. Her face says all of what it's like to be below them, in the shadow.

The photo above may have been from that same beach day. I don't remember this photo being taken in the same way I do the missing photo. I remember how I felt on that bottom rung. As a writing exercise, I can easily take my feelings from the missing photo, mixed in with general feelings from that time and write the prompt for the photo above as follows.

There's a long cinder block wall, which separates the wide sand of the California shore from the black asphalt of the steaming parking lot. Three girls and their parents are visiting the beach, but stop momentarily to capture the event in a photo. One by one the girls are lifted up to the rounded edge of the wall. It feels quite warm on the backs of the little girl's thighs. The mother steps into the shot, while the father stands a few feet back, ready with the camera. In the split second before the shot, the big sister flings her arm around her mother's neck, claiming her for her own. She leans into her mother, relaxing and flashing a huge grin. The middle girl sits up straight and smiles at her father, almost reaching towards him with her bare tummy. The little girl places the fingertips of one hand on the warm wall to hold on as best she can and the other hand on her own right leg, as there is no wall to hold onto there. Her leg is pushed up against the middle girl's leg. She can feel her skin. Her tummy is pulled in, muscles tight. She looks across the big girls bodies to her mommy. What do you suppose she is thinking? Perhaps she wants to be near her mommy too. Perhaps it is a bit too warm and a bit too high to feel secure. Perhaps she is wondering why she can't climb a metal ladder, but she can perch on a wall. We may never know. It's too late to ask her.

This is actually the first 'shadow' photo that came to mind. In thinking about it, I sort of recalled placing it here on the blog a long time ago. I did a lot of looking back to find it. A lot. If it's here, I couldn't lay my eyes on it. However, the trip back in time, down memory lane had its own rewards. One thing that really stood out is that I believe I've repeated myself over the years of blogging and with that repeating, I'm not sure the story is told 100% the same each time. I think I used to feel that this was somehow not okay. Now I feel that it is perfectly understandable since our perspective can easily shift and change over time. What is "truth" in this regard? Who's truth is it? We are never the same from era to era, experience to experience...we evolve and with that see past events with new eyes along the trail. Plus, i think I've gotten forgetful! haha
Anyway, here's is what I could say about this photo, again based on reflections on my life experiences, but maybe not as much from actually remembering this photo being taken. This photo came to mind because I was literally in my older cousin's physical shadow, although I've also been in more figurative shadows too. Again, I'm the 'little girl', with me are my sister and our cousins. We are at some kind of event that I always recall as a 'fair' of some sort. Who knows what it was truly.

It was a family event. Something special. Something treasured for the little girl, especially if it involved her auntie. She adored her auntie. In the photo, paused on the walkway in the middle of the crowds, the four cousins pose for a photograph. She loves her sister and cousins and is glad to be with them. But, she also feels small with them. The baby. They talk and play in ways that don't always include her. Her sister and younger cousin stand on one side. He turns his body, ever so slightly, towards her. They are the close in age. A pair. Her sister looks straight ahead, toes pointed forward, showing herself as the primary grade girl she's become. The older cousin stands on the other side of the group, booklet in hand and a smile on his face. He holds the little girl's hand in a protective manner. Lastly, there is the little girl, a bit squished between her sister and her oldest cousin. She is wearing a favorite dress, green and white checked with a petticoat! Her face shows the unsure expression of being little in a big crowded place, of being little within her family, as if she may just get swallowed up or pushed back and out of the line. The wind blows her baby fine hair, a feeling she isn't wild about. But, she remains there, being held onto and doing what she is told. Stand still for a photograph. She does.


As I've said, these may not be proper memories in the way one considers a memory to be. These are maybe more like a writing exercise based on memories and storytelling and the way I remember feeling. In the bottom photo, I have no idea how my sister or cousins did or may have felt, so purely writing there. Thanks go out to Dee for once again inspiring me to do something creative (she's real good at doing that!). Also inspired by Dee's recent posts of family look alike photos.
 That's me in my first day of Kindergarten photo by the front door. I can still hear that screen door banging as I ran in and out to play. The other photo is of my children, ages about 4 & 7. I am amazed at how much my son looks like me! Crazy.

May you find a little fun

May you enjoy the process

May you hold memories loosly


Photographs by NAE ©2021

Friday, February 19, 2021


We got a little plant, which we're trying out on the kitchen counter - seen from the living room. I've said for months on end that it would be nice to have something pretty to look at right there, instead of just the kitchen sink. I loved that one of this plants names is the Mother-in-Law's Tongue ~ pointy and sharp in looks. I had a mother-in-law like that once. I am hoping it will get enough light there and be able to claim that corner as its home. After all, the Jungle table is bursting!

You remember the wolf below, which we found on a recent drive/walk here

First J. picked it up to have a look, then we took it to throw it away, then I kept it as a collage prospect. It was floating around the house, as I considered how I'd use it. I wanted wolf to be howling out 'something', but wasn't sure what that was. Then while over at Acey's place, I saw her page of hearts for Valentine's Day. Yes, of course I thought. Wolf could be howling out LOVE. when I pulled out my small collection of collage papers, it all just fell together.

I found papers to represent things I love, besides the howling of a wolf. I made hearts out of an old piece of water colored paper that's been giving me love since the 1990's! How do I still have some of it? I also made hearts from "map" scrapbook paper, also about that old. These represented my love of being on the road...out in nature ~ night on one page, morphing into day on the next. I used textured looking papers from old quilt magazines to fill in.

On the daytime side, the traveling hearts floated over to a road trip and more textured quilt magazine hills and naked, symbolic trees. The collage box also held a photo I'd taken of a hawk on a lunch walk in Goleta, CA. Perfect. Perfect choice for my daytime wildlife!

Done, or so I thought. About an hour or so later, after everything had been put away, I remembered the last paper I'd meant to add. So, back to the cupboard I went. I added an wobbly shaped orb to represent the sun. I love sun.

I was glad to fill in some of the space in that corner. I also considered adding branches to the symbolic 'trees', but let it rest for now. It'll probably stay that way.

On a last note (which may be here in this blog somewhere, but since I can't recall, I'm adding it here), this is "The Board". I purchased this when my some was a toddler. It cost 2 bucks at a yard sale and was missing the wooden stand even then. Both of my children and I have used it all of these years. This board has been a place, a base for art making, puzzle building, block towers and more for almost 39 years. It made the move 2 years ago under the categories of 'useful' and 'sentimental'. I'm glad to still have it.

 Thanks Acey for the inspiration. This was fun to do. 

May you remember to have fun, we need that these days. 

May you share the love.


Photographs by NAE ©2021

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Wednesday February 17, 2021

We started out with a plan.  We'd head North to a nearby lake to bird watch. It was so windy (gusts up to 50-60 MPH I later learned) and coolish - for here (51-64 degrees. depending where on the drive we were). The weather played some tricks with my asthma a bit, but this turned out to be more drive than an out of the car adventure.

Wind in the palms
That far shore is where I spent many a sunny day as a teen. 
Our plan of going down to the lake to hang out for a bit was changed when the cost to park was discovered!

These hills are the ones I've recently photographed from afar.

We headed back home, down one of the roads we've been exploring and I've posted about.

This time though we traveled in the opposite direction as we have in the past. This made things look so different to me. Just like the western author Louis L'Amour used to write, the trail going back never looks quite the same as the trail heading out. During the late 1970's - early 1980's I loved his westerns and read all of them. To this day I think of his writing and what I learned from it and I still look for the animal trails while on the road and make sure I glance backwards now and again, in case I need to find my way back.

Trail through the canyon. The wind about blew me over the edge!

There's actually a road way down there and maybe water?

We drove through the burn area again. Even if it's not atypical for the trunk to be this red under it's bark...this scar, this scene of charred trees made me sad.

As I've said, I'm the navigator on these trips. But, on this one I told J. that it must be like riding with a dog as my head turns this way and that watching for wildlife, trails and interesting discoveries. I love being the passenger and am forever grateful for that opportunity.
This sight had me hollering to turn around so I could understand what I'd just seen.
A dried, dead Joshua Tree, a sculpture. 
There were so many crows on this drive. They looked like they were having a ball playing in the wind. And there was one hawk, which I think was a young Cooper's Hawk.
What a delightful ride! I wonder where we'll go next?
May you discover the new on old trails
May you look ahead towards your goal, may you look back now and again,
but may you live in the moment.
Photographs by NAE ©2021

Wednesday, February 17, 2021


 Imagine a drive through geology and history

Down roads, through time and space,

where what you may be seeking, may not be what you find


I decided to go online, searching for other quite local places we could take drives and go exploring. I found the website below, which has lots of choices and information. We decided on a drive up Soledad Canyon, a big loop.

Suggested Drive 

 He enjoys and is knowledgeable in the geology aspect. I just want to get out!

Notes were made and off we went. We actually didn't find many of the places or rock formations mentioned in the article (not that it matters), but we found enough and we got a good lay of the land for future trips.

NOTE TO SELF: A smart phone would come in handy during drives like this.

Imagine a delphinium sky with tissue paper clouds

Imagine them stopped on the side of the curving road

Imagine him looking one way, with binoculars and her, head tilted back, as far as possible

Imagine the 67 degree breeze blowing her hair as she shields her eyes to the sky

Imagine a trio of red tail hawks, circling 

Imagine the three of them tilting, weaving in and out of one another while riding the thermals

Imagine her heart full to bursting, for these birds are her heart vision

I'm the navigator and one who hollers to STOP. It may be nature related or in this case a photo opportunity. I am sure this building has history, a story...but I don't know/care what that may be. I saw it as a photo, a scene.


Rock Formations

More Views

Juniper Berries
On this day, we saw tons of juniper bushes, some with a few berries, some completely loaded like this one!

Houses push further and further towards the base of the hills.
What's this I spy?
Oh, a place to sit and enjoy the outdoors.
For some reason, this felt more like a 'placement' than a dumping.

Imagine those two driving through another canyon, heading towards civilization

Imagine a tight well-traveled canyon, oaks and various other trees and a spattering of homes

Imagine two hawks flying low up the canyon, right above their car roof

Imagine the two of them practically ducking, expressions of amazing lighting up their faces.


May you imagine!




Photographs by NAE ©2021

Friday, February 12, 2021

Driving on Thursday

Off we went for another drive, same general area, but with a focus on the mental note we'd made of places to return to.  So, we turned left just before the MAGA sign. So curious that the terrain was both similar and not. There was so many birds this time. 

Crows ~ Scrub Jays ~ Hawks ~ some kind of Finches ~ Quails ~ Ostriches (again)

There were many very small ground squirrels and we saw one lizard (although I'm sure there were tons more!) ☺

Can you see them?
Look now, here ⤵
There were deer!
Middle of nowhere!

Walking out on the road, the air was nice and cool...a breeze was whistling through the trees.

It was so quiet.


As we traveled on, we marveled at the amount of mostly dead trees. Space after space, filled with them. Dead trees with hanging hunks of mistletoe! Some long ago fire out here. Everywhere we travel - time told by layered fire damage.

We came to a "T" in the road, turning left landed us on the Old Ridge Route Road. Supposedly passable, we lasted about the first couple of miles clattering about, before turning around. The view were amazing, again. Somewhere in all of that expanse, is the 5 freeway, running North/South through California!

Here's a great link, showing part of this road:


If you scroll down to the road sign, then to the sign above, you can see some of the rickety road and much grander views than my camera will capture (we only went a bit further past the maintained road section). And you can see the map too. We covered a lot of that country. San Francisquito Cay Rd. Elizabeth Lake Road - Lancaster Road - Old Ridge Route Road - Bouquet Canyon Road on and on...more and more roads...through as many 'towns' Green Valley - Elizabeth Lake - Neenach - Quartz Hill - Pamdale - Saugus...from city to small town to mountain to dessert to agricultural areas to...

You get the idea!

The sage smelled so good! It is such a heart scent for me.

Here is a great link I just found about the dam breaking that I recently posted about here.
It's hard to really get a good visualization, but I'm having fun trying! 

I've been enjoying these drives and then the researching and documentation here.
I've felt a need to mark these moments in time, this time, even if I only leave this story behind for me.
Stories are important.
⟲     ⟳

“I would ask you to remember only this

one thing,” said Badger.

“The stories people tell have a way of

taking care of them.  If stories come to

you, care for them.  And learn to give

them away where they are needed. 

Sometimes a person needs a story more

than food to stay alive.  That is why we

put these stories in each other’s memory. 

This is how people care for themselves. 

One day you will be good storytellers. 

Never forget these obligations.”

-Barry Lopez

Crow and Weasel


May you embrace and share the stories of your life.

Photographs by NAE ©2021

Thursday, February 11, 2021


Dis - jointed

A good description in many respects. I feel like many of my posts read/feel that way. Part of it is I have so little to contribute these days. Being home, when I'm used to going out and being a worker is so different for me. But, now it is normal. What is normal anymore?

Motivation for the needle only arises now and again - and only for the word cloth. I have added a new word, which was considered for some time. I think what really fascinates me, what I really like is both how the words come to me on their own and how the meaning of each one ebbs and flows over the days/weeks...the meanings are so fluid, within the general meaning. I have a sense of not 'trying' to capture some big, deep, grand thought. The words come to be considered and I do. Then if they feel right, I stitch them. That's it. Period. I'm also practicing not putting specific thought into the placement, kind of 'where will the length of this word fit?' That's it. In doing so, I've noticed the words land near complimentary words, so the ideas expand & talk to each other.

I added some green-ish stitching to SAFE, because safe is ongoing. I've got a couple of other words percolating. We'll see where/if they land.

As I go, I'll continue the attempt to ignore elements that are not appealing, aesthetically (yes, the uphill climb of MATTERs still doesn't 'look good' to me, but I'm trying for good enough). I wonder when/how I will know that I'm done with this cloth, this holder of words & symbols? I wonder what a cluttered mess it will look like?


 Thanks go out to Liz for the recent surprise gift, including the book I wrote about back in August: White Snake Diary

I read it rather quickly (for me!) and have been reflecting on the reading and on diaries themselves ever since. At this point I'm thinking about the photos, illustrations etc. I really like those included, as they fill out the story so nicely. I've considered how the early entries in a child's voice tell much more than I'd considered before. Also interesting to me was her inclusion of a spattering of professional writings/notes/letters. Being that those writings were in the field of Early Childhood field as well. Interesting. She is a retired researcher, something I've always considered a direction I'd have liked to go. I love observing children (and everything else!). I'll leave it there for now, but I will offer to share it with anyone who would like to read, just as Liz so generously shared with me.

 Unrelated: While we were watching an old episode of Andy Griffith, my ears pricked up when Andy tells little Opie to stop pulling the 'horse hairs out of his lapel'. What? Off I go to research and low and behold, I discover the "floating canvas". I never knew!


Happy February to all!

May your heart be full with the love of others

May your heart be full of self love

May your heart be full


Photographs by J ©2021


Saturday, February 6, 2021

Away We Go

 Friday Drive 

We took off on the same road North as the last drive, but this time we stopped at the Power Plant No. 2.   I was mostly interested in actually getting a look at the beautiful building after driving past it last time. There is a lot of history in this canyon, probably the biggest story being the collapse of the St Francis Dam.

Last November it was a large leaf, today a large pine cone ☺

We drove past places old and new, googled things when home again to satisfy curiosity and learn about some local places and a cool truck we saw. We went much further North than last time and came home down the freeway, which is quicker and less interesting.

Eons ago I went to a work retreat on this road, which I remember as a very special time. The
The Painted Turtle is a pretty special place too. It is the place my friends volunteered at years back. It is sad to think that this special place is impacted (like every place else) due to the pandemic Of course they've found other ways to be of service right now. We drove past Shadowland - a place I think I remember from a past Pow Wow, where I met a wolf! We saw many other roads that looked worth investigating.
Strange sights that leave questions - what was this thing before it was rust?! You can't really tell, but there is a road down in there and J. is on it. The trail down, a bit gravely and steep for me, so I read my book (Song of the Seals) and enjoyed the vast views up above. Maybe next time I'll head downhill too.
We stopped at Elizabeth Lake for a quick view - water & wildlife. It was nice to see water here, as local droughts can have their impact on this body of water.

 We drove through where the Lake Fire had been, back in August. The photos don't do justice to the sad looking, burnt out feeling. Many of the trees only burnt on one side or only towards the bottom, not the top. Hillsides, completely gone...but every house (but maybe one) we saw stood strong. Trucks and trailers, out buildings maybe and motor homes left as charred remains, but the houses stood still. The successful work of the firefighters was amazing to see. We drove on and on through the burnt hillsides, snowy mountain tops, completely impressed.

It looked so barren, but there were many new sprouts at the base of so many trees! 
Isn't Mother Nature wonderful?!

Then we got to this sign and things just felt icky. Can you read this sign?
"Forever MAGA Country" - with a gun, population 200. We drove on anyway. I could find nothing online about this sign. Just show a photo, like it's nothing at all. Sigh.
But, there was also Quail Run Ranch, an ostrich farm. We made a note to return another day to explore further. 
We discovered Quail Lake, someplace we've never been before, even though we've seen the road signs!

It was nice to go out discover new watch the hawks fly.
I wonder where we'll end up next time?
May you get out there 
May you find the pretty & look past the ugly
May you learn
Photographs by NAE ©2021