Friday, February 16, 2018

A Walk at Alexander Park

This afternoon I went for a walk at Alexander Park. I took some pictures while I was there, and here they are:

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Me and Mom in the Kitchen, Lilburn, Georgia, ca. 1981

We’re both wearing blue, and neither of us looks all that happy. Not unhappy, just…normal, average, the way most of us look most of the time. We were just living our lives, starting our day (whatever random day that happened to be), getting our breakfast together—in front of me is a plate of pancakes, and also a bottle of syrup, the same kind I use today, I think; in the background, on the left edge of the frame about halfway down, you can see that there’s still some coffee in the coffee pot.

This picture shows an everyday scene of such mundanity that I doubt most people would think it worth pointing a camera at, especially back then, before digital cameras and smartphones with built-in cameras, when film had to be purchased, and then you had to pay to have it developed after you’d used it. I’m not sure why Dad took this picture--I’m pretty sure it was my father who took it; who else could it have been? Maybe it actually was a special day, though I can't find here any clues as to what that might have been (a birthday? Easter? the first or last day of school?). Maybe Dad was testing a new camera, or using up the last exposure on a roll of film so he could take it to be developed. Maybe he did it just to annoy Mom.

Whatever the impetus for this picture’s existence, I’m glad I have it. It offers a glimpse into my youth I treasure. I'm pretty sure that at the moment this picture was taken, Mom and I were mostly taking that moment for granted. I had, I’m quite sure, no idea I would someday look at this scene and be happy to revisit it. I’m sure I just wanted to eat my pancakes. I hope I enjoyed them.

What I hope even more, though, is that it would have occurred to me, at least every once in a while, to be grateful I had a mother who would make me pancakes, and who on other days made French toast, or creamed chipped beef on toast (sometimes without the beef), or bacon and eggs, or any one of a whole host of other breakfasts she regularly made for us. I am grateful now for all of that.

And though I'm sure it would have been surprising news at the time to say that that kitchen would ever be an object of appreciation, all these years later I have a great deal of affection for it--linoleum floor, tacky wallpaper, and all. On the counter, in front of the syrup, is a little container Mom used to screw on to our blender to make...what? I have no idea. And behind me, just at my left elbow, you can see the red bun warmer that we had for years. Above that, just under the vent hood--where some years later a microwave oven would go--hangs an assortment of spatulas and ladles and strainers. And, as I pointed out earlier, on the left edge of the frame you can just make out the coffee maker. Mr. Coffee? Maybe. We had one at one point, but I don't remember what we had then. Proctor Silex? Hamilton Beach? Perhaps. Maybe it doesn't matter.

But in a way, it does matter. These little details, in their very ordinariness, their everydayness, are among the things I love to see when I look back at these old pictures. Most of them are pretty mundane, with nothing special about them, but put together enough ordinary little details and they just might add up to a whole past.

Remember what Emily asks the State Manager near the end of Our Town? "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?" The answer, of course, is "No."

Maybe one of the reasons I love looking back on these kinds of pictures is because they help me realize life, even if what the picture shows happened thirty-five years ago. In one of her short stories, Amy Hempel writes something like, "looking back shows us more than looking at." Sometimes looking back is good enough. If you realize life in retrospect, that still counts.

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Walk at Stone Mountain

The girls didn't have school today. We spent the morning laying around and watching "I Dream of Jeannie" on the Roku Channel (I think we watched a full twelve episodes before any of us got dressed). But after lunch, Jessica said, "I want to go somewhere," and Elyse and I did too, so we all got dressed (a process that took a full forty-five minutes) and we went to Stone Mountain to go for a walk on the Cherokee Trail.

Here are some of the pictures I took:

Jessica had specifically wanted to visit the Nature Garden (though she didn't quite remember that's what it's called), which is along the Cherokee Trail a bit east of Memorial Park (the lawn where they do the laser show):

(You can read about The Atlanta Branch of the National League of American Pen Women here:

We practically had the place to ourselves; much of it, in fact was closed for maintenance. We wanted to get a snack and something to drink, but nothing in Crossroads seemed to be open:

The Skyride also wasn't running, but they were doing stuff to it and testing it, so the cars passed over quite a few times, empty, as we were walking.

Friday, February 2, 2018

"A Night in Paris"

Tonight Elyse and I went to the "A Night in Paris" Father-Daughter Dance at J.C. Magill:

Anna took this picture of us just before we left:

(I know I look like a 1950s professor, but that's kind of what I am, and that corduroy jacket is the only one that still fits me. Wool sweater vests may not be the current fashion, but they suit me fine, and nobody else there was wearing one!)

Elyse took Tasha and Owen, two of her stuffed friends, who did all the dancing for us. Like me and my sweater vest, these friends were unique to Elyse:

(It was actually much more crowded than the above picture might lead you to believe.)

(And busier than this picture represents.)

We waited in line for fifteen minutes to get our picture taken, then waited in line for thirty minutes to get our food--a salad for me, which was pretty good, and chicken Alfredo tortellini, which I liked but which Elyse wouldn't try, and baked ziti, which, thankfully, Elyse did like (even though she didn't eat she didn't actually eat that much). This meal was, I must report, after we'd already had cupcakes; on an occasion like this, it seemed okay to have dessert first.

We decided to leave at about 7:20:

I don't know if we were the very first to leave--there was another car leaving the parking lot when we did, but that could have been a teacher who worked late--but we were definitely among the first. I can tell you one thing: I bet we were the only ones who went straight to Arby's to get something else to eat!