towering mirrors

This is a photo I took almost 10 years ago to the day, from a trip to New York City for a conference in April of 2004.

It’s funny to think that 10 years ago, I was just really getting comfortable using my first digital camera.

Last night my front porch was visited by the ghost of William Morris

William Morris (1834-1896) was, among other things¹, an Englsh artist and textile designer. His iconic designs featured intricate and highly stylized plants and flowers. I became familiar with his work largely through my familiarity with the variations of his Acanthus leaf design that was used for the wallpaper, signage and even wrapping paper in Barnes & Noble stores through the late 1990s.

It came as quite a surprise to me this morning to find evidence that his ghost had visited our home in the night, and apparently had a tryst with Jack Frost on our front porch.

Intricate patterns of ice covered the whole width of the porch, and varied in detail and density and style.

There were ferns, leaves, flowers, and brambles.

Mr. Morris also included some beadwork in some of his designs.


Thorns.

A view from my standing height, to give a sense of the scope and size of the patterns.

Wherever I looked were more things to photograph. (Click on any of the photos to see a larger version and zoom in. You will be very impressed by the designer-ghost’s attention to detail.)

It snowed overnight here, and there was apparently freezing rain and wind as well. I had opened the front door to get a look at the snow in the front yard, and was greeted by all of this. As best I can guess, little drops of watery ice that landed on our porch were blown around by the wind, leaving little streaks of ice behind them. (This is much like what I guessed happened the morning I found frost feathers on my car.) Either that or it was indeed the ghost of William Morris, and he spent the whole night drawing his patterns on the porch.


¹ I had no idea that he was also an author of fantasy novels. This may support my ghost theory.

Death and Taxes

“…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” –Benjamin Franklin, 1726

April 15th is known in the US as tax day, the day when tax returns for individuals are due. It is a date that leads to much crankiness and frustration.

The Boston Marathon is always held on the third Monday of April. Marathon Monday is traditionally festive occasion for the state of Massachusetts. Last year was a year when the two dates coincided: tax day and marathon day.


Flowers in Copley Square, from a late summer day several years ago.

With the anniversary the bombing of last year upon us, I find myself thinking back to that day, and the crazy week that followed. I wasn’t in Boston, but my close ties to the city, updates from my school, my colleagues, and my friends, kept me feeling tethered.

I was out with the kids that Marathon Monday, it being a state holiday and the first day of school vacation. Phoebe was recovering from a stomach bug, so we didn’t go far from home. We were parked at the music school before Phoebe’s and my violin lesson when I got text alerts from BU with notification of the explosions, and warnings to stay away from Copley. I couldn’t really process the news, and didn’t want to worry the kids. As the afternoon and evening wore on, I found more detailed reports of deaths and injuries. Like so many, I worried about the safety of my friends, and realized that my friends and family would worry about the safety of me and my family. It was very unsettling to learn that one of the dead was a BU grad student. (I, too, am a BU grad student.) I found myself wondering about the other BU grad students I know. Were they safe? The news that one of the people killed was a little kid left me feeling shattered. Even though I was many miles away, and my family and I were safe, it all just felt so horribly close and personal.


The view from Storrow Drive at dusk, from 2010.

That week, I remember reflecting on my fondness for the city, and spent probably too much time hunting for photos I’d taken there. (Naturally, I have hundreds of photos of Boston, if not thousands.) I am not a Boston native, but I have lived outside Boston for over 18 years. I spend a lot of time in the city. It feels like home.

Today I got caught up in memories, reading stories and articles of the many lives that were so deeply affected by the bombings. I was distracted and contemplative, and managed to get a time mixed up for something I’d committed to, which made me very cranky and off-kilter.

The day ended up rainy and stormy, which actually quite fit my melancholy mood. And probably also the cranky moods of so many faced with the frustrations of tax day.


Under my umbrella this afternoon, waiting to get the kids off the school bus.

crumbs


Waffle aftermath.

Life has been busy the last few days, full of lots of good things, but leaving me without much time to write much of substance here. In my commitment to posting daily this month, it feels a bit like I’ve been dropping crumbs.¹ I have several posts that are brewing in my head, but not yet ready.² One post that will be coming up soon is thanks to my friend Sarah, who has picked me as one to carry on a meme about the writing process. I entreat you to follow these crumbs to her blog³ and sample her words. Her writing is expertly prepared, rich with buttery layers, and baked to a golden perfection.⁴ If you are like me, you will find her blog to be at once satisfying and leaving you wanting more.⁵

¹ Or scraps and the occasional shard. I admit that I do enjoy the sequence.
² Though with my crumb metaphor, a baking metaphor would be a better one. The dough of several posts is rising in my head? Um…I don’t think so. My brain doesn’t like the sound of that at all.
³ And by that, I mean, click the link.
⁴ I totally just made myself want a croissant.
⁵ She also said some nice things about me.
⁶ This post has a very high footnote to sentence ratio. This footnote doesn’t go with anything, really. I just felt like it.

shards

Stepping out of the building after a meeting in Boston on Wednesday, I enjoyed the warmth and fresh air of the Spring afternoon. I was startled, therefore, to see what appeared to be clumps and shards of ice on the ground. (Certainly there had been ice in that very spot not so long ago, but to my knowledge, there had been no new ice since the thaw.) As it turn out, it was a shattered glass bottle. The clear glass glittered in the sunlight, and was full of interesting patterns and lines.

Naturally I had to stop and stoop to take some photos.

These bits look a bit like crystal.

This afternoon, Phoebe and I went for a walk down the street to deliver the last two boxes of Girl Scout cookies that had been ordered. (Sales finished weeks ago, but we had not managed to find this family at home on days when we were delivering.) Phoebe wore some shoes she hadn’t worn since winter had come, a pair of sparkly high-top sneakers to complement her colorful spring choice of outfit. Unfortunately, her feet had grown since last she wore the shoes, and by the time we arrived at the house to deliver cookies, she realized that she was getting blisters. It was a beautiful, sunny warm day, so I let her take her shoes off and walk barefoot. Because of this, we were both on the lookout for hazards to bare feet. It is entirely possible that we might otherwise not have noticed the broken bits of glass we passed. (Case in point: I did not notice any broken glass on the way out, when Phoebe had her shoes on.)

In any case, we not only noticed the glass, but we stopped to look more closely at it.

(And, naturally I took some photos.)

This one looks here like a chunk of amethyst, but its color seemed to change from different angles, sometimes clear, sometimes, gray.

Of course, this is not first time I’ve posted photos of broken glass

scraps

The other day, I snacked on a clementine, and set the peel down next to me on a plastic bag. The rays of the late afternoon sun caught the peel (or was it the other way around?) and the peel glowed.

I find it wonderful how light and shadows can transform the ordinary.

Evening mahjong games in Beijing (friday foto finder: game)

This week’s friday foto finder theme is game While I enjoy playing games, and we have loads of games around the house, I couldn’t remember any particular photos of games. I played with the idea of taking a new photo, but that seemed like too much work. Happily, I remembered this photo I’d taken in Beijing during my brief visit there in 2012. My cousin and I had gone to see the Great Wall in the morning, and returned to the city in the early afternoon. After a bit of rest and recovery, we went for a late afternoon walk, exploring some older neighborhoods of the city.

At one point, we walked along a street that ran parallel to a canal. The street and sidewalk where we were walking were several feet higher than the canal level. Looking down towards the canal, I saw walkway that ran alongside it where there were bunches of people standing and sitting around tables, playing and watching games of mahjong. I paused to take a photo, but one of the onlookers looked up at me and glared, so I kept going after taking only one photo. (I always feel a bit strange taking photos of people I don’t know, and yet I find that the presence of people often make photos much more interesting.)

Even though I only managed one photo, it was fairly sharp, and when I zoom in, I can make out the mahjong tiles.

These are a couple of crops of that one photo shown at the top.

I actually know next-to-nothing about mahjong, and looking at this photo makes me sad about that. I’m sort of wishing I’d thought to buy a mahjong set while I was in China, as it seems like it would have been a meaningful souvenir for a game-lover like me.

To see what other games have been captured in photos, pay a visit to the fff blog. Want to play along? Sharing photos on a theme is a fun game in and of itself!
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