At the Window

At a Window
by Carl Sandburg

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

(Public domain)



I’ve written and deleted so much blather about windows these past few days.

It’s hard to gather all the loose ends of my thoughts into something — anything, really — that makes sense.

I love this picture I took two summers ago when the milk house was being torn down. One window remained of the broken down building. It had the prettiest view over the valley.

Roger Bacon said,

Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater benediction, and the clearer revelation of God’s favor.

The world is so broken.

Yet somehow, in the midst of it, or over it all, a great benediction is being whispered — and it’s that little bit of love. That hand that reaches in to touch me in my dark room, breaking my loneliness.


Now I look through a dirty pane
Where cobwebs
and
The dust of the world
Blur my view

I rub at it
With my fingers
And though my hands
Come away dirty
The grime on the glass remains

If I but drop my eyes
No glass obscures my view

And to my right
A larger scene awaits

Overhead
The sun
(so bright I dassn’t look)
Shines
and
Brightens the whole world:
The valley
The river
The barn on the horizon

Yet I squint
At my dirty pane
Wishing I could see more

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Cows

 

My like-affair with cows probably began when my parents bought an old farmhouse next door to a working dairy farm.

When little-girl-me pulled up a handful of grass and held it out to a friendly cow, my new bovine friend would take from my hand, drawing my fingers close enough that I could feel her smooth wet nose. There’s nothing quite like a cow’s muzzle.

Teenage me spent a week one year at the county fair, helping with the 4-H dairy judging. Not judging them, of course, but distributing ribbons. I watched, and listened, and plodded around the ring, stepping over fresh cow-pies, handing ribbons to my peers dressed in showman white.

“I really like the dairy-ness of this cow,” the judge said about an exceptional animal, and, to this day, I have no idea what he meant. It was a cow. A dairy cow.

When adult me traveled to Bosnia this year, I put together a little photo album of my family to show the family we were helping. Since I had a few empty pages at the end, I stuck in a view looking across the valley from our front door, and a picture of the cows down the road. The Bosnian women loved looking at the photos of my children. One of the Bosnian men got very excited about the picture of the cows. He pointed to the picture, then pointed to me, then back to the picture, obviously asking, “Are these yours?”

I shook my head. “No, they live down the road from my house,” I said. When it was translated to him. he looked sad. Maybe he was hoping to talk dairy.

I don’t know much about dairy, but I do appreciate cows’ wet muzzles, sorrowful eyes, and the clunky gait they have when they run.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge for this week, part of her Alphabet with a Twist series, is the letter C – The C word needs to be at least 4 letters in length. C-O-W-S — yep, that works.

Below is a series taken from a junior livestock show near us.

On the way to the show

Saying hello

Waiting to enter the ring

Refusing to enter the ring

Walking the perimeter of the show-ring while the judge watches

Posing — so the judge can get a good look

The judge asking a few questions

Relief

 

At the Corner

At the corner of Grove and Spring Streets, I paused. Maggie dropped her fish and panted while I stepped back to survey the building from a different angle.

It’s a lovely setting surrounded by trees. Porches and patios invite the residents to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Quiet and serene, the building stands removed just far enough from the hubbub of busy our tourist town. Expanses of lawn buffer it even more.

When I’m inside, I’m all yes.

When I leave, I wonder.

Maggie picked up her fish and we continued walking past the building.

I looked at the porch with its flower box. To the left was the dining room. I had eaten there a couple of weeks ago with my father.  We were just visiting, but I was impressed. Tables for six or eight, set with white linen table cloths and real china. Real food, not institutional. Servers who were both pleasant and competent. A little jazz played in the background.

“They take turns choosing what kind of music to play,” the administrator told me. “Also, people sit at the same table for about two months, but then we rearrange the seating plan so cliques don’t form and they all get to know each other.”

Every resident’s room is unique in configuration. Some have window seats. All have walk-in closets, high ceilings, and private bathrooms that include showers with seats and grab-bars. The rooms are spacious and cheerful.

I just never wanted to see my father leave his home.

But this isn’t an institution. It’s almost more like a sanctuary.

“We have lots of activities for the residents,” the administrator said. “We get tickets to the Hall of Fame Classic baseball game and sit in the grandstand so they are shaded from the sun.”

Dad would really enjoy that.

“Next week we’re going on a boat ride on the lake and maybe having a picnic on one of the beaches.”

I would like that.

I reached the end of the block with Maggie and looked back at the building.

From this corner, it still looked lovely.

I guess it’s time to finish the application for him.

Fun With Google Translate

I have a word problem. I really, really like words. A lot.

It should come as a surprise to nobody that on my trip to the Balkans I took pictures of words to look up later.

Nor should it come as a surprise that I can spend hours playing with Google Translate.

Forget squirrels or shiny things — these are the rabbit trails I follow for amusement.

For instance, this photograph was taken of the tray back on my Croatian Air flight.

I recognized molimo vas from the language app I used before the trip. It means please. However, I wanted to figure out the rest of the words even though the translation was right below it.

Vežite se dok sjedite means Sit while you are sitting. (Google Translate: Croatian to English) But vežite, by itself, get translated tiePerhaps the literal translation is something about tying yourself in your seat?


The one time I was brave enough to use Croatian was in the Franciscan monastery in the Old City Dubrovnik. “Dvije,” I said to the man at the ticket table, indicating that I wanted two tickets.

“For that you get in free,” he said, in perfect English. He was delighted that I attempted Croatian.

Inside, we visited a beautiful garden and an art gallery. A war scar was framed on the wall.

Udar granate means A missile shot according to the sign below.  Google Translate (GT) says it means grenade attack. Close, I guess, but different.


This one is a mystery.

GT translates ĆIVU FRANA CUNDULIĆA NAROD means THE LIVING OF FRANCA CUNDULIĆA NAROD so maybe it’s a person’s name.

But if I drop the capitalization, the same words mean  a living shroud of crowds of people.

If I drop the “narod” because it’s on a separate line, and just look at the first line in all small letters, it means (according to GT) some cranium brake or the black break crank.

I kind of thought our guide said it was a music hall, but who knows?


I used the public restroom at The Tunnel of Hope Museum outside Sarajevo. There I encountered my first squatty potty. It caught me by surprise, especially when my phone fell out of my pocket. Ew. Thank goodness it didn’t fall in. I took a picture of the toilet itself to show my children, and then this one of the sign on the tank to see how it translated out.

Molimo ne bacajte papir u wc šolju, već u kantu za smeće translates to Please do not throw paper in the toilet, already in a garbage can (GT: Bosnian to English) Not bad, really.


Last, a tee shirt.

I have no idea what the guy thought when I snapped this picture. This was after the soccer game (fudbalski) — and it looked like one of those “I’m with Stupid” shirts.

GT defaulted to German for Er heiratet, translating them he marries.

We were in Bosnia at the time, so I tried to force a Bosnian translation — but GT said it meant Er hieratet.

The other team was from Croatia, so I checked the Croatian translation, and GT said, That’s a heir. I thought GT would know that it should be an, not a. But I’ll forgive GT because the words were, after all, German.

GT couldn’t translate Wir sind nur sum saufen hier from Bosnian or Croatian. In German, however, the words meant we’re just drinking here.

A groomsmen shirt. Wedding humor.

When words are playthings, and Google Translate is available, fun is all around. I found that on my trip.

A is for Appetite (Or, 5 Things About Zombies)

Please forgive this post. I blame it on my brother and the fact that I’ve been struggling to write.

“Why don’t you write ’10 Things About Zombies’?” my brother suggested.

“I don’t know ten things about zombies,” I said.

“Make them up,” he said, but I couldn’t think of anything.

“Zombies are dead,” I told him.

“You need to come up with something more interesting,” he replied.

Exactly.

So I tried.

I came up with five facts, but the first one is really a correction.

Zombie Fact #1: Zombies are not dead; they are undead.

Cee Neuner is starting a weekly photo challenge called “Alphabet with a Twist.”  For the next 26 weeks, she’ll feature a different letter ~~ with a twist ~~ for her Fun Foto Challenge.

Maybe it’s because I’m a little twisted myself — but, I felt like I could commit to this challenge.

A (with a twist) is Ap. The photo needs to feature something that begins with the letters “Ap.”

I’m adding my own second requirement for this challenge. I’m going to use old family pictures.

Zombie Fact #2: Zombies don’t like to be photographed. Most zombie photos are staged and not real.

A few years ago, I started scanning my father’s slides to get them into a digital format. All of the photographs in this post were taken by my father before I was even born. Not staged. 100% real. No zombies.

So…. A is for Appetite.

Zombie Fact #3: Zombies like watermelon.

Watermelon is red and juicy. If you look at zombie pictures (which I know are staged) they often have red juicy stuff running down their chin. Watermelon, while not the consistency of brains or flesh, looks appetizing enough to fool your average zombie.

My mother told me that watermelon was sometimes soothing for a child that was teething. I like to think that’s why she was feeding it to Stewart in this picture, but she may have kept watermelon on hand in case of zombie attack.

Stewart eating watermelon

Zombie Fact #4: Zombies are delighted when they see a baby with food on his or her face.

Zombies really aren’t so different from the rest of us. What parent hasn’t taken a picture of junior with spaghetti on his head or chocolate ice cream smeared all over his face?

For zombies, though, they find it attractive because they identify with it. Most zombies have lost their swallow reflex. Remember the zombie pictures with red liquid dripping down their chin? Well, they can’t help it. Their swallow reflex died with them and didn’t come back to life. That’s why they talk the way they do. That’s why they eat the way they do. When they see a baby with food all over his face, they think he’s one of them. They feel a kinship.

Stewart with food on his face

This can actually be used to a family’s advantage when under attack. Hold the food-covered baby in plain view while the rest of the family slowly backs out of a room invaded by zombies. The zombies will be so enamored that they won’t attack. Once everyone is out the room. Shut the door and run.

This is a picture of my mother feeding Stewart.

He doesn’t have anywhere near enough food on his face to distract zombies. It’s okay. He lived his whole life without a single zombie attack.

My mother and my oldest brother have both passed away but they will never be zombies, because —

Zombie Fact #5: A person who lives a life of service to others can never become a zombie.

My mother and my brother both gave freely and generously of themselves. It’s like a zombie vaccine.

This should serve as a reminder to all.

We should be kind.

We should be generous.

We should put others first.

— if for no other reason than it will keep us from being zombies.

 

 

Flower Power

When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment.

Georgia O’Keefe

The summer of 2014 was the Summer of Flowers.

Owen and Emily were getting married in September and I filled my garden in Greene with flowers that we might be able to use for the wedding.

Emily is incredibly organized. She planned everything so well. She probably didn’t need me to grow flowers, but it was a gift to me — to choose flower plants, and watch them grow and bloom.

These are all flowers grown in my garden in Greene for Day #6 of a nature photography challenge.

Florida

Our family visited the shore
Well, not just one trip — it was more —
We drove all the way
(Nearly a full day)
To Florida! There we explored.


We collected shells on the beach
Not picking up all within reach
’cause that would be silly
Gathering shells willy-nilly
“Be selective” — that’s what we preached.


We also paddled canoes
At a place where the manatees choose
To swim when it’s cold
(That’s what we were told)
We saw them, in ones and in twos!


We went to a beach meant for pups
(Well, they let in some kids and grownups)
The dogs chased after toys
And played with their boys
But some owners didn’t clean up (ew)


These are photographs from several different trips to Florida. I’m sharing them as part of a photography challenge to post pictures from nature for seven days. This is Day #5.