I collect snapshots in my “Pictures” folder on my laptop. They are images that caught my fancy at one time. I’m going to drop the latest into this post for you.
I had a very hard time photographing the ants, and will have to set up my tripod to do it properly one of these days. Sadly, the photos above are blurry because I was holding the camera in my hands. So here’s the deal: at the end of the branch of this fruit tree hangs the hummingbird feeder. The ants come from somewhere in the yard, up the trunk, aaaaalll the way out to the end of the branch, and down to the red plastic flowers with syrup in the center. They load up with juice, and haul the load back to the rest of the ants. I have stood, I can’t tell you how many hours, gazing in fascination at this never-ending train of ants. There are small black ants speeding out toward the end of the branch, and fat copper ants carefully placing their feet and methodically heading back toward the trunk of the tree. If the sun is setting, it shines right through their abdomen and lights it like a tiny amber bulb.
I captured this one from the window of the bus as I headed home one evening. I love the scene of the little flexible guy in his Taekwondo clothes.
We heard recently that the carpet is going to be replaced at the Portland airport. The local airport is a place packed full of memories for us, but the sense of place seems to be more striking for her. She exclaimed that it will be a loss not to walk into the airport from some plane, after having been in multiple airports, and knowing she’s home by the pattern of the carpet. My girl finds comfort in the Portland airport carpet; what a thought. Well, it makes sense for this traveling child. She has been flying around the country and around the world since she was an infant, and this has been HER airport for 10 years now, which is more than half her life. So we got a photo of Miss T and her comforting carpet.
It has been a year and four months since I returned from Japan. Sometimes I can’t believe it was so long ago, and sometimes it seems like it was only yesterday and I’m looking forward to talking with Norm, Kaori, Phil or Yasmeen, next time I’m in Sasebo. Then I shake my head and remind myself that I’m long gone. On the days when Japan has almost vanished from my thoughts, I come across some random Japanese thing that is instantly both familiar and foreign. In my pantry I still have the powdered sugar bag that Tara and I found at a grocery store in Iwakuni, and in my filing cabinet is one of the many flat rounded fans that everyone carried, with a map of the west shore of Honshu on it. The other day, bored with tea and coffee, I spotted this packet and added it to hot water. A delicious orange drink with orange peel in it.
My boy- friend Arno is raising two teenage boys. Can I state the obvious? Boys are different than girls. At their house I must get used to the implements of battle in every circumstance and conversation. We discuss the value of fabrics in German military uniforms vs. Russian uniforms. I am entreated to admire the latest model airplane, or ship, or helicopter, or tank, or sub. Once I was treated to an entire Vietnam jungle scene with palm trees and soldiers dressed in green, made out of Legos for a high school project. There are the latest and greatest airsoft rifles (plastic beebees ALL over their house), homemade handgun replicas, and target practice in the backyard with bow and arrows. And always, always there is the excitement over the latest eBay acquisition: throwing stars, knives, goggles, helmets, leather ammo pouches, oxygen masks for high altitude pilots. It’s hard for me to absorb. I’m getting better. I can’t help but sometimes wish the oldest would actually enlist and experience the military, and see that it’s not as romantic and heroic as he is convinced it is. Where does this war-worship come from? It’s not a particular thing to the teens in my life: it’s common to boys for time immemorial. I just don’t get it. But then…on an anthropological level, I do get it. Being warlike has kept the human race alive. Our pre-historic ancestors had to perfect this characteristic, and a couple thousand years of advanced civilization is definitely not enough to wipe it out. (A concept perfectly elucidated in Charles L. Mee’s play Big Love)
Tara burst into the house Friday night overflowing with emotion and relieved anxiety and a fried brain. She announced to me, frowning and fierce, “I am going to take over the kitchen, make cupcakes and then eat them! I am not going to do anything else and you can’t make me!” It had been the last day of final exams, and she was exhausted mentally, which is so grueling after two weeks of hardcore schoolwork. Arno whined, “How come my boys don’t make cupcakes when they need to let off steam?” After leaving her alone for awhile, she called out to me, “Mom? How do you make fondant?” Heck, I didn’t even know what fondant was, so I was no help. Still banned from the kitchen, I left her alone to figure it out. By dinnertime, there were cupcakes with fondant roses. I am in awe.
She’s in two art classes this year, which balances out her other classes, like Pre-Calc and AP Environmental Science. She made the poster above for me, which is now hanging in my home office. Hil-air-ious. We both love the Hitchhiker’s Guide books. Too bad she couldn’t have used large, friendly letters.
Our tastes are similar, which has been fun. We’re both crazy about Disney and Pixar, and now Disney/Pixar, and studio Ghibli. And we like the same TV shows, which we discover on the Internet, because we have no TV signal to our house. She introduced me to Sherlock, with Benedict Cumberbatch, which is so great. I suppose that means I’ll have to check out Dr. Who eventually, because it’s another of her loves that I know nothing about. The previously mentioned teenage boys got her this TARDIS blanket for Christmas, and she is usually not found in the house without it. She’d take it to school with her if she thought she could make that work.
The last shots are not my own, but sent to me from a very dear and longtime friend, who is charting unexplored territory in virtual space. Vlad gets absorbed in his roleplaying games and is particularly impressed with the artistry of it. I don’t blame him: the scenes are amazing. These are from the most recent set emailed to me. I love digital artwork; for example was just awed beyond belief when I tried to play Myst. And failed to make any sense of it. I love the puzzles: Tetris, Flow, Minesweeper, Mahjong, and solitaire. I did waste a gazillion hours playing Age of Empires II, but in general, I haven’t got the right mindset for computer games. So in closing, please enjoy the snapshots from Vlad’s computer screen.