Nothing Lasts

In our back yard, just off the deck, is a large shrub or small tree that has the most beautiful flowers in the spring. I don’t know what it’s called (I am hopeless with plants – perhaps one of my readers can identify it?), but it’s lovely so I take a lot of photos of the glorious blossoms. Here’s one:The flowers last just a week or two, but even more short-lived are the buds they come from.They fascinate me. Not because they are there so briefly, but because they are so different from the flowers they will become. It’s hard to grab a photo of them in the short time they’re there, but I got one:

They are bright pink! Flamingo pink. Tropical sunset pink.

Where does that pink color go? Why is it there for the few days it take for the buds to become flowers? I don’t know, but I love it. I love that the plant invests in making that gorgeous color and then throws it away. I think of it as a flirty little secret it flashes to the world before setting down to its more traditional beauty. I feel privileged to share in that moment.

The world is a beautiful place, but beauty never lasts. We need to enjoy it wherever and whenever we find it.

Posted in response to the WordPress photo challenge: Transient

Mandala

In honor of Yom HaShoa, the Day of Remembrance in which we give honor to those who lost lives and family in the Holocaust, there were two things happening in the central atrium at my college. There was a gallery of photos of local Holocaust survivors along with their stories, and a group of Tibetan monks creating a sand mandala. They painstakingly dropped grains of brightly-colored sand in an intricate pattern that represents the positive energy of the Buddha gathered in that place. It takes several days to complete the mandala, and then it is ritually destroyed. The sand is gathered up and poured into a nearby river, allowing the positive energy to be released into the world as the river carries it to the boundless ocean.

I post this picture because it shows different kinds of focus. The focus of the monk is obvious, as he builds up a beautiful house for God grain by grain. Around the room, students stopped in their rush from class to class to focus for a moment on deeper stories of pain and perseverance. For one week in April, the atrium was a place of quiet remembrance, of sadness and hope for the future, of the deliberate invocation of peace.

May it be so.

Posted in response to the WordPress photo challenge: Focus

Inform, Inspire, Engage

The title of this post comes from the U.S. Library of Congress, the largest library in the world, in its description of what their collections do. My local library is nothing compared to this, but it is still important to me because it, too, does its part to inform, inspire, and engage. My photo this week is a glimpse of the nonfiction section in this library, a place where human knowledge is organized according to the Dewey decimal system, designed to be flexible enough to identify an unambiguous shelf location for books on everything from 000 (computer science) to 999 (extraterrestrial worlds).I love that the inherent complexity of human knowledge can be so structured, enabling anyone to find whatever they are looking for. Thank you, Melvil Dewey.

Posted in response to the WordPress photo challenge: Order

 

Live Long and Prosper

I haven’t been posting much lately (it’s been over 3 weeks), for a very good reason: Yesterday my daughter married a wonderful man in a delightful ceremony in an actual planetarium (complete with a star show), followed by a terrific party in the science museum. To give you a bit of a flavor of the day, the pastor’s message began, “You are about to boldly go where many people have gone before,” and everyone got it. He reminded them that they are not Time Lords, so they can’t try to go back and fix the past or skip directly to an imagined future, but have to take the slow way through life side by side. He wished for them that if they get angry and try to hurt each other, their attack rolls should all be botches and their saving throws against heart wounds should all be nat 20s.

The nerdy goodness continued into the reception, with a dragon theme. The couple drank their toasts out of dragon goblets. The most popular favors on the guest tables were the little plastic mini-dragons. They cut the cake with a dragon dagger. Their cake was designed to look like a medieval castle, and these are the cake toppers that were designed by the groom, 3D printed, and painted by the bride:

I was the primary wedding planner for this event, so I’m happy to say that things went off with just a few minor glitches. Everyone had a good time. Most importantly, the young couple were launched into their new life together surrounded by love, laughter, friends, and family. (And dragons.) Now that it’s done, my participation in the rest of my life can resume, and I wish my daughter and her fiance husband the same thing everyone there last night wishes for them: Live long and prosper.

Glass Block

I was visiting a local high school on Tuesday this week and stopped to take a picture of this glass wall between the hallway and the gym, just because I loved the abstract patterns of color and light. Then on Wednesday the WordPress photo challenge came up, and I knew this was the image to use! Yes, I know, what I’m seeing here is more about refraction than reflection, but I figure there has to be some internal reflection going on as well, right? In any case, I think it’s beautiful. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Posted in response to the WordPress photo challenge: Reflecting

A to Z Reflection 2017

I did it – another April participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge, along with hundreds of other bloggers around the world. This was my second time working through the alphabet, and it was just as much fun as it was before. My theme was almost the same as last time: haiku puzzles, but this time focused on words from science fiction and fantasy. The challenge was both harder and easier than last year. It was harder because my April was a busier month in my personal life, since I’m serving this year as chair of my college department and my daughter’s wedding is coming up in less than a month. It was easier because I anticipated this, so I worked well ahead to write the haikus and draft the posts, and then took full advantage of WordPress’s capacity to schedule posts ahead of time. Each weekend I stacked up all the posts for the whole week and got them ready to go. This meant that all I had to do during the week was reading and commenting on posts by other people, and responding to all the wonderful comments I got on my own posts. This is the fun part of the A to Z challenge, so I made sure to budget time for building and maintaining these connections.

Now it’s time to look back at the numbers for the month, and compare them with my stats from a year ago.

  • I posted 29 times in April, which is not quite as many as last time but still not bad for a 30-day month. This included the 26 alphabet posts plus three others, all related to the weekly WordPress photo challenge. (I only missed one challenge in April, which again isn’t bad for a month when the A-Z Challenge is happening!).
  • Focusing on just the 26 alphabet posts that were part of the A-Z challenge, I see that I collected a total of 850 comments (more than double last year’s count). The fact that people take the time to comment on my posts continues to amaze me. Every one of those comments lifted my heart! The post that earned the most comments, at 17, was the one for the letter Q:

He snaps his fingers,
And with limitless power
Plays games with starships

The answer to this haiku is simply Q, the designation for one of the recurring antagonists in Star Trek. Since he sees himself as infinitely superior to us puny mortals, Q would be completely unsurprised at coming out on top in any category you care to name.

  • All together, the 26 letter posts this month earned 192 “likes.”  This isn’t double last year’s number (137), but it’s still a substantial increase. The post for the letter P was the one with the highest number of likes at 17,  and is also one that earned only marginally less than the top number or comments, at 16:

Nasty hobbitses
what is in its pocketses?
No! That’s mine! It’s MY —

I guess lots of people love Lord of the Rings. Some of the science fiction/fantasy fans I know say that, knowing the letter of the day was P, all they needed was the first line. Nobody else but Gollum would say that, and all Gollum talked about was his precious.

  • One more number. During April this blog gained 25 new followers, bringing my total up to 185. I can’t say how much it means to me that there are so many people who find what I ramble on about here to be useful, or entertaining, or in some way worth their time. Every single one of you counts as MY precious! I will do my best to return something to you for the gift of time you’ve given to me

Let me say thank you
To everyone who stopped by—
You are all the best!

Location Danger

Yes, I’m still working on my book. That was actually the original focus of this blog, way back when it started, and it’s still part of what I do here, though I’ve branched out and most of my posts are on other things. Today I get to connect the writing-a-novel thread with the weekly-photo-challenge thread in one image.

About 18 months ago I visited the real-world spot where most of the action in my book takes place, and I wrote at the time about how useful this visit was. For today’s photo challenge I’m sharing one image from the trip, one that shows what the view might be like from my fictional hotel.This is the vista of Lake Ontario from the Devil’s Nose bluff, and the sign warning me to keep away from that edge. It was good advice. The drop to those frigid waves is about 20 feet (around 6 meters for those of you in more scientifically enlightened places), and it would not be easy to climb back up the muddy bank, especially if you’re wet and shivering!

In other ways, though, I don’t want to keep away from the bank. There are times when the whole idea of writing a novel is terrifying. Maybe that’s part of why I’ve taken so long to get from finished first draft to first revision. I blame it on other things (taking on extra responsibilities at work, preparing for my daughter’s wedding in JUST FOUR WEEKS), but we all know that I could carve out more time for this if I really tried. There’s an edge there that’s scary. So now I want to tell that sign to go jump in the lake – I will NOT keep away from bank. I will go to that bank, right up to that edge, and finish that book.

Posted in response to the WordPress photo challenge: Danger!