Saturday, November 29, 2014

Childhood Demons

I  remember my Saturdays as a kid. They were always the same: we cleaned the house.
We vacuumed, and dusted, and brushed the carpets, and we put things in order all over the house – my sister and I.

My sister hates dusting. God gave me a husband who does, too. So, dusting has always been my job. I don’t mind it. I like it better than vacuuming, and brushing the carpet, for sure.

But one thing I hated back then was dusting around the doilies that both my mom and my grandmother had all over the house. They had doilies all over the furniture, with little, beautiful, sculptured China dolls on top of them. The doilies creeped me out! Dust will always cling to them, to make them sticky. And they never dusted well. And they would never lay flat! They would always curl up, to have little spots under them where dust could gather and make them extra sticky for next time.

And they felt like spider webs. I never wanted to touch them! They were like living creatures, holding history, and age, and … dust … and old timey creepiness inside their fibers.

My mom is a starch freak! She starches her bed sheets! And her doilies and macramés are so starched they sit flat on the furniture. If I had to pick doilies I can live with, they are my mom’s, because they are so starched, so stiff, they don’t bubble up – they just lay flat. No tricky dust pockets to potentially hold secret creepy stuff anywhere in there.

I just unburied one of her doilies from my huge pile of heirlooms that she constantly supplies, in my closet, and it reminded me of my childhood – of all those Saturdays when I dusted her furniture, and made sure the wood is clean, and her little China doll ladies are pretty and shiny. And … the doilies are clean, too … At least her doilies laid flat – as you can see in the picture. 

My mom's flat doily - she crocheted it, and I can still remember when she did it. But it will never see the sight of my furniture!

I came face to face with my fear of macramé last month, during a trip to Charleston, SC. The client I was visiting at the time suggested that I would stay at this old inn downtown, where they had a corporate rate. The inn was everything people come to Charleston for: old charm, antiques, history, everything … 

My Nemesis bed in Charleston, SC - see the huge doily as the canopy. Cree-py ...!

I checked in, at 10.30 at night, and walked into my room. And misfortune of all misfortunes the whole bed was like an altar dedicated to doilies: there was a doily canopy draped right over the four posts of the bed! My skin started to crawl and I started to cringe! I could only speed dial my husband to say “this place is haunted!!”.

I did not sleep a wink all night, and I left the lights on in the room, all night long. I was too afraid to sleep, in case the huge doilied canopy would collapse on my face and smother me, trap me, for crying out loud!

The smell and texture of ages, smothering me. The stickiness of dust and the webs … Eeww …

And I wonder sometimes why I have so little friends …

Monday, November 03, 2014

Late Fall in the Rockies

"I saw old Autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening to silence." (Thomas Hood)

If you have known me for a while, you know I fight the fall! I fight it for a while. Especially since I moved in The Rockies. I try to tell myself it’s not fall yet till my turkey comes out of the oven on Thanksgiving. I have loved fall, all my life, but here, where I live now, fall is short lived and it’s only the entrance door for the winter – which I hate!

Well, I don’t hate winter. I just hate the length of it. A couple of months won’t hurt. But 4-5-6 sometimes more months in a row … no, thank you! I need my toes exposed!

We made plans for weeks to venture out to shoot some of the colors of this season, but life has been getting in the way, and we have been procrastinating. But we have been lucky to have this beautiful Indian summer of sorts, where we’ve enjoyed warm, bright days with lazy sunlight resting on the still ripening tomatoes. We’ve had timidly chilled nights, with barely a drop of dew on the browning grass in the mornings. But this past weekend, we realized: we must go out and see what there is left to see, because winter is just barely in the air.

We got snow on the peaks this weekend, and it smells like frost! We drove around our house and we captured the tiring season, going to bed for a while. It was probably the last weekend where we could still capture some yellow and red still on the branches. But not very much. But as you can tell, the browns are beautiful too – and so diverse!

Every time I shoot the mountains, in any season, one deep and gnawing feeling pricks my heart: the mountains are where my heart, my brain, my soul, my whole being is! Their gentle or sharp slopes, their majesty, their height, their smells, their aspen and berries, and pines, their trails … leave deep, sharp marks inside my brain and my heart. And I cannot peel away from them! Wherever they are, for the rest of my life, I’ll try to be …

Here are some shots from our short (less than an hour, maybe) drive. 

 Our grass is almost always yellow, but it's muted in the summer. It was fresh and vibrant after this weekend's rains.

The Spanish Fork river, snaking lazily through the canyons - can you see the richness of the browns?! My sister calls brown "the most boring color" - but not in this context!

The long, country driveways and roads look longer and lonelier when they are lines by bright yellow poplars. 

A drive in the country: these sheep were something else: the herd dog had rounded them up in a perfect circle and not one of them was outside of it! Sheep at the mountain heals spells winter prologue to me.  

An open gate, a split rail fence, along the mountainside - the loneliness of the farmland in the big, wide open - you can almost hear life just slowly passing with the swing of that gate in the wind.

What would fall be without the steam coming off of the mountain? It's like the last breath - visible, touchable, real ... 

This is what Utah mountains look like to me: rock, bushes, pines and aspen - all coming together in the most perfect unison of color, texture, shape and height. All singing fall's hymns in all their contrast and harmony.

Aspen are my favorite trees in the fall, but maples are a close second: not so much in the majesty of aspens, as much as in the detail of every leaf: from various shades of red, to various shapes and sizes, they are the blood stream of the season ...

Red berries always spell Christmas to me! And cold - very much cold!  

I am ever the small town girl, very much unlike my big city sister! A small church, a two lane road, and tree lined lonely and empty streets, framed by mountains - that's it! Happiness cannot exist elsewhere, and I am convinced of this! 

On our way back to our house, I had to stop to shoot Mount Timpanogos: the dance of the clouds and their shades all over the valley was absolutely heart stopping! The snow, the rocks, the browns and the very lonely valley just spoke volumes of silence and beauty to me. The world is ready for what it is to come. You can hear the echo, and the surrender ...
Click on the picture for the entire album of this short trip.