Drowned Picnic

Have you heard about the historically high water levels in Lake Ontario, the last and smallest of the Great Lakes? Record-setting rainfall in the spring overwhelmed the ability of the lake to handle everything that’s coming down from the other Great Lakes, given the restricted flow out through the St. Lawrence River. It’s battered shoreline properties on both sides of the lake, in the US and Canada. This picture I took just a month ago sums it up for me. Under the tree out there is a lamp post, a bench for looking out over the harbor, and a picnic table, but it’s all out of reach due to high water. Is this related to climate change? No one can say for certain, but something has surely changed.

Posted in response to the WordPress Photo Challenge: Delta

Camping Again

Two years ago I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, and it worked for me – I hit the 50,000 word goal by the end of July and pushed on to complete the first draft of my novel in August. Since then? I’ve been working with a critique group to revise the draft, making it better all the time. I’ve almost gotten all the way through the draft with them, and expect them to be reading the last chapter for the first time in a couple of weeks.

So now I’m going to try camping again. This time it doesn’t make sense to set a word-count goal. Instead I’m setting a time-on-task goal: 30 hours (almost, but not quite, an hour a day in July). I’m also thinking of it as a chapter a day, since I think my book will have 25-30 chapters when I’m done putting it all back together.

If it all works out as I hope, I’ll have a completely revised version to share with my critique buddies in August. Wouldn’t that be something?

Wish me luck.

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.