Boondock Ramblings

Visiting my childhood home

Visiting the place where your entire childhood was formed, if that childhood was a good one, full of more happy memories than hard ones, which mine was, you tend to feel emotions choke up from your heart into your throat. Then those emotions fill your head and memories run together like a movie reel and then it all spills out  down your face and you whimper into the phone at your mom: “Those were some of the best and happiest years of my life…”
Those were the years of innocence, before the hot pain of heartache, before the world’s bony fingers dug their way through the nourishing cocoon walls of idealism your parents wrapped you in and could protect you with.

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Those were the days of running in a yard soft beneath bare feet. They were sunny afternoons climbing trees rough and scratchy that left scrapes and bruises that you looked over in the bath that night. Those bruises told the story of a day full of real, hard play.

They were late evenings, playing until the last drop of sun slipped beneath the wisps of milky clouds against a pale gray backdrop.

They were nights of warm hugs, Dad pushing covers tight around you, Mom reminding you it was time for sleep not reading about Narnia or houses on the prairie.

Sitting in my van, in the driveway of that house, full of not only my memories but those of several generations of my family, it all rushed back like someone had pushed a button on the DVD player, or for the teens who might read this, clicked start on the YouTube video.

I opened the door to the van and set my daughter’s feet in the grass my own feet had touched 30 years before while my son ran toward the trees my hands had helped me climb with my friend Julia. Thinking back now, I realized we may have all been touching the same dirt my great grandfather turned to plant a garden.

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Maybe the same trees my great aunt climbed or my great grandfather’s sister leaned against to steady her arm to click the shutter of the camera she used to capture my family’s real moments.

Or the same earth my grandmother touched as a child, laughing with her friends.

Here I stood with another generation born from a man who left Scotland and others who left England and Ireland. Another generation ready to start their own journey through life and maybe this ground would somehow hold some memories for them too.

The house is falling down, really. The foundation is crumbling, the paint has chipped away, half of the chicken coop I remember running in and out of (screaming because a spider touched me or chicken poop ended up on my shoe) has been pulled down or has fallen down. Tenants have used it, abused it and tossed it aside, unaware of the memories held within it’s walls for so many. My parents aren’t sure what they’ll do with the property and though it’s hard, my brother and I wonder if it shouldn’t be torn down and the land sold to someone else so they can start their own memories.

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Oh how hard it is to think of that house not being there anymore, though. It’s only wood and glass and stone, but to us it is aliving soul who cradled us as we grew, comforted us when we cried, enveloped us when we laughed.

Here is the kitchen window, where Mom would stand to wash the dishes and watch for Dad to enter the driveway back from Grandma’s, or another trip to the hardware store in Dushore. Here are the stairs I’d stumble down each morning to get ready for school._DSC9508

Here is the room where I read about lives much more exciting than my own, where I filled journals with meloncholy ramblings of a teenager. It looks so small and dark now, I wonder how I didn’t feel more claustorphobic and wonder now if that’s why small spaces make me feel panicky.
Here is my brother’s room where he crafted poem after poem, about life and love and all that poems are meant to be filled with.

Here was the space beside the swing set (still standing some 30 years later) where Dad used to plant his garden: corn, squash, tomatoes, green beans, carrots and more.

Here is the spot where Molly’s Window once was. Molly, who carved her name in the window to see if her engagement ring was a real diamond, sometime in the 1930s.

Here is the driveway where I learned to ride a bike, with my dad’s hand steadying me while I pedaled and where he now helps my son learn to ride his own bike.

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The tears are hot again because here is my heart, inside this 150-year old wood, this crumbling structure where dreams were formed, steady foundations formed, and love was shown.

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Finding joy. Even in winter.

I’m not a fan of winter. Winter depresses me. It is cold, obviously, void of sun,most of the time and it is long and dreary and yucky and I hate it — so there.
I thought I would have longer before it stretched out its bony fingers but alas, snowflakes started  falling this past weekend, two weeks before Halloween. Yuk.

Before those flakes made their unwelcome appearance, the offspring and I enjoyed some time outside in the sun. I breathed in the smell of warm sun on brightly colored leaves crunching under my feet. I delighted in the sight of my children walking without coats, knowing all too well they would be soon bundled up and constricted in winter fabric.

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Constricted is how winter makes me feel. I feel trapped in my home but also inside myself. I feel like my creativity fades away with the sun and my excitement for life crumbles like the dead leaves strewn across the ground.

But this year I’m going to try my best to find joy in the dreary. I’m going to draw on my son’s enthusiasm for each season. He finds the good in what otherwise could be bad and I want to be more like him. I want to seek and find joy.

Yes, winter is cold and nasty and dreary and sad and all that is bad, but it is also an excuse to have an extra cup of cocoa and stay home to cuddle under a blanket. It is a chance for the world to slow down and families to find each other again as the snow piles up or the cold scrapes against the windows and doors.

I will not let winter steal my joy this year. This year I claim joy even in winter.

And I will enjoy Fall as long as it is here; until the last brightly colored leaf falls from the limb of the naked tree limbs.

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The Week in Focus | Sept. 28 to Oct. 8

I am very behind on my weekly favorites posts so I thought I’d just do some catching up for this week.
Last week my daughter had her first birthday, so of course it was a somewhat busy and crazy few days, but also a lot of fun.

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beauty from ashes |

Isaiah 61:2-4To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, 3To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.4Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, They will raise up the former devastations; And they will repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.…

Soft hair brushes against my arm and you sigh in your sleep.

I nuzzle my face against the top of your head and breathe in the scent of you. I smell honey from the shampoo we used to wash mashed pears out of your hair. Your chubby hand has somehow found its’ way into my hair and the strands twist around your fingers, trapping me until you’ve fallen into a deeper sleep.

I love these moments. I love the feel of your soft skin, your warm breath, your heart pounding. I love the feel of your life, a life I never expected but that, like your brother, has changed mine 180 degrees for the better.And here we are, at your first birthday. You’ve been here a year and it may sound cliche but it absolutely feels like it was yesterday.

It was the end of a long day when you decided it was time to come see your brother, dad and I.

By the next morning you were in my arms and it felt like you had always been a part of our life.

Your daddy counted fingers and toes but I never did. I knew you were perfect. I knew you were from God and that’s all that mattered. All I saw were your eyes and they were looking into mine.

You, joined with your brother,  have been the burst of energy, the breeze of freshness this stale, jaded, empty soul needed to remind me that life is still good, that God is still on the throne and that beauty comes from ashes.

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The Week in Focus | Sept. 20 to Sept. 27

The days sometimes seem long, but oh, they are so short in reality. How fast my littlest is growing, how quick she is moving. In two more days she is officially one. Someday I’ll have to write her story and how she was a very unplanned, but amazing surprise for our family, during one of the most inconvenient and dark times of my life. Her birth made me feel like Doctor Who, a soul with two hearts because they are both my hearts, as silly as that may sound. They are my hearts, walking around outside my body._DSC1913 9_27_15grace_sept_2015_DSC1777 9_24_15 _DSC2586 _DSC2559 _DSC2541 gracefeetgrandpa_DSC1939 _DSC2595_DSC2064 9_20_to_27_19_20_to_27_2_DSC1870

Faces from the past

The photos were in boxes in a cabinet under Grandma’s entertainment center. Most were sepia toned or black and white and featured stern or blank pale faces. But there were others, in a leather bound book, with black paper background, that were of smiling faces in Flapper style hair and clothes and suspenders and other early 1900 clothes
 

 

Who were these girls in striped leggings, straight bangs, pants and boys shirts, sitting on top of a train caboose, laughing and having fun? Curved letters on the back of the images dated them sometime in the early 20s and the one with the determined, fierce expression, broken only by the hint of a smile on one side of the mouth was Ula Gladwynn Grant, my grandmother, daughter of J Eben and Grace Grant.

My grandmother, Ula, is the girl in the middle. Two weeks ago I also noticed the woman in the window of the house behind the girls. I wonder now if that is my great grandmother Grace, who I named my daughter after.

I was enthralled with the images of Grandma as a teenager, laughing, smiling, looking determined. I wondered what she was thinking in the very moment the button was pressed to capture those images. And who took the images? Cameras weren’t as common back then as they are now. Phones with cameras that you carry in your pocket? It is something that in the 1920s Grandma could have never imagined. My dad thinks my grandmother’s aunt, Ivy, may have taken the photos, documented these real moments for future generations. They say Ivy died young. I’ve looked at the photographs of her and something about her wry grin and the sparkle in her eyes makes me think she and I would have hit it off very well.

I wish I’d asked Grandma more about the photots when she was alive. I wish I had asked her who the other girls were, who took her photos and why she was grinning. I wish I had asked her more about Ivy, the woman whose grave is facing a different direction than everyone else at the tiny cemetery behind the church, a sign to me that she was someone who liked to be unique.

Those images of my grandmother revealed someone vastly different than who I grew up with, or at least how I saw her. Somehow I seemed to think Grandma had always been old. She had never been a teenager, laughing with her friends. But these photos showed something completely different. Someone completely different, even though it was my grandmother’s laughter I’d captured with my camera one day when she was 88 that made me realize how much I love to photograph the real moments of life.

My grandmother is pictured with her father and sister, Onieta. I’m not sure who the woman with the baby is.

Sometimes I wonder if these photos were why I would later find myself desperate to capture the moments of my own families life. Her death was one of the timesI realized how important photographs are and that they can capture the real soul of a person, freeze a memory of that soul long after their body has left the earth. I even named my first photography business Gladwynn Photography. I still can’t recall why I changed from that name, but I guess it faded away, along with my full time business, when I decided to document my family’s real life more.

Those early, faded images of my ancestors showed me there is life to be captured and documented. I loved that many of the photos featured real expressions, not strained and forced smiles or stiff poses but life, real life.

The woman on the left is Aunt Ivy Grant. The woman on the right is named, but I don’t remember it.

Because of these photographs, I wanted to photograph my in between moments, my right now moments, my right here moments. And those are the photographs I still want to document for my future generations.

Weekly favorites: August 3 to August 8 | Bradford County, PA Photographer

It was a fun week this week. If I wasn’t pulling Grace out of the dog and cat’s water dish, I was taking the kids to a local farm so they could get up and close with the animals. Of course, we didn’t expect Jonathan to become a salt lick for a curious horse.
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Winter. 10 on 10 for February

Winter. It goes on an on and on and . . . well, you get the “drift”
Being stuck in Northern Pennsylvania during winter is not always fun. It’s a bit of a drag really. The sun is limited and heavy cloud cover is prevelant. By February my depression is setting in and my motivation is non-existant.

To try to keep my motivation going I get involved in photography classes through The Bloom Forum and try to get outside even if it means in the snow.

This past week our area got hit with 15 inches of snow in about a 12 hour period, maybe a bit less. We expected at least 10 but this was a bit extreme.

A couple days later we got hit with a few more inches and decided to head outside for a snowball fight and some fort building, after some battle preparations with General Grevious and the Power Rangers of course. Then we capped the day off with a warm bath.

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Be sure to keep following the circle by visiting Cara next! 

10 on 10: 10 photos from a day of cold

I’m so excited to be able to be a part of a 10 on 10 group with a group of women on The Bloom Forum! I can’t wait to see all the amazing photographers out there and how they interpret life through their lens.
The 10 on 10 project is a chance to take one day and capture at least 10 images that tell a story of that day.

For me, my day to capture was on a freezing cold day when school was canceled and my seven year old and I were stuck inside our house.

My son had cabin fever and was looking for any way to entertain himself.

A self-designed ninja costume was one way he entertained himself.

This month was a short one for me so I don’t have quite 10 photos, but I managed to squeak out a few at least!

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Please make sure you go around the circle and check out the other photographers and their work!

Roxanne Bappe  |  Imaging Rox  |  Central Iowa Photographer  http://www.imagingrox.com/2014/01/10/10-on-10-01-2014/