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Posts Tagged ‘how I spent my summer vacation’

Tree Pendant, domed resin pendant using ybonesy doodle, image and doodle © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

Tree Pendant, domed resin pendant using ybonesy doodle,
pendant and doodle © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 
 
 

Tree Pendant, domed resin pendant using ybonesy doodle, image and doodle © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved

 





Tree Pendant, domed resin pendant using ybonesy doodle, image and doodle © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved    Tree Pendant, domed resin pendant using ybonesy doodle, image and doodle © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved    Tree Pendant, domed resin pendant using ybonesy doodle, image and doodle © 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved






Other titles I thought of for this post:

  

  • Look Mom, I Made It Myself!
  • Coming Soon to a Store Near You
  • Would Say More But Must Go Make Tile Pendants
  • What Children and Husband?
  • Yogurt & Popcorn for Dinner
  • Not Planning to Lose My Day Job Yet, But Dang, Am Having Fun!!

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Cotton Cloudiness, St. Simons Island, Georgia, July 2008, all photos © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved

Cotton Cloudiness, rainbow over St. Simons Island, Georgia, July 2008, all photos © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.











cotton cloudiness
Atlantic ocean rainbow
ghosts of St. Simons











-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

-related to post: haiku (one-a-day)

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I remember last week, we were pulling out of Uncle B.’s driveway. Mom and I were both clean, showered, and shorn, but already drenched to the bone with Georgia humidity. “Oh, Passion flowers, you should get a picture of those,” Mom said. I tried to peer over the edge of the Benz window to see what she was talking about. Low and flat to the ground were these starbursts of purple, the likes I had never seen before. Passion flower. The leaves around them were a broad, deep green, providing a little yoga mat for their luscious blooms. I hopped right out of the car with my Canon.

Mom waited while I took a few shots. I found myself wanting to spend most of the time in Georgia inside in the air conditioning of cars, motel rooms, and my uncle’s new home on Clarks Hill Lake. But the trip demanded that I experience the dogged heat of July in Georgia. I wonder if those dog day afternoons come from the way animals lie in the shade or drape over anything cool they can find so they don’t have to move. That’s the way I felt most of the time we spent outside in the Deep South.

Except by the Atlantic on St. Simons Island. We spent only one day on the beach, two on the island. Mom sat on a blanket high on the sand while Liz and I rolled up our pant legs and traipsed around in ankle deep salt water. It was low tide and all the beachcombers were searching for shells. Liz happened to find the most beautiful conch shell (she’s lucky that way) and pulled it up for all to see. A young girl about 12 came over to see what we had found. Her dad was quick to tell us that we’d have to boil the critter who was living in it out of the shell or it would stink to high heaven.

He also said there were very few shells on St. Simons so Liz was lucky to find one so beautiful with not a crack or chip in sight. After running the shell up to show Mom, we decided to return the conch to the sea. Liz wandered out a ways from shore and dropped her back under. Later that night, we ate at 4th of May on a little shopping strip street that runs into the pier. Afterwards, we took the pier walk and checked out the lighthouse. The salt air was blowing across the Atlantic. It was the coolest I had felt in days.

It felt good to travel somewhere new, to get out of my own environment and drop into Summer. The next night, my second cousin came down to St. Simons from Midway. Mom had not seen her in something like 40 years. I turned on the tape recorder while the two of them talked about family history. Some I was too young to remember. But I had seen the photographs. Their perspectives on my great grandmother varied with their childhoods. One’s ceiling, the other’s floor. I was fascinated. We whipped out the queen-sized family tree I printed out before we left Pennsylvania. And Liz talked to my second cousin’s husband about the sci-fi book he was writing.

I kept thinking about how different our experiences are, even in the same family. I thought of my brother and everything he was going through in Pennsylvania, the stress on him, the stress on the family. I thought of the cool 92 degrees in Minnesota, the home I had left a week before. I thought of the rural drive through small towns in Georgia, the Claxton Fruit Cake people, the record breaking catfish caught by a local Georgia angler. I asked Liz if she liked catfish. “I don’t like to eat bottom feeders,” she said. I thought about the huge carp my step-dad caught when I must have been only 8 or 9.

Was he in Yamasee with my grandfather? Or fishing Clarks Hill Lake where he swears he once saw an alligator. After that, when Liz and I were sitting on the dock, reading Flannery O’Connor’s letters, The Habit Of Being, I could swear she was keeping one eye open for gators. It did make me a little leery of dipping my pinky into the lake. But the kids jumped in headfirst. They are fearless. A water moccasin once swam by me when I was about 10, swimming in Clarks Hill Lake. I was paddling along shore while Mom was out waterskiing. I guess I used to be fearless, too.

I have noticed how much more fearful we get as the bones move up in years. But Passion flowers keep blooming, alligators keep snapping, conch shells still swim the 7 seas, and I can’t change the history of the past. I can only learn to know it. Keep writing it all down. My interpretation. Another layer of cracked clay and burnt orange sediment at the bottom of a life.



-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, August 9th, 2008

-related to Topic post: WRITING TOPIC – SUMMER

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Bay Street Blues, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Bay Street Blues, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.








mask of summer tears
moon over Pennsylvania
sinks into rivers



dark moss covered squares
Savannah moon cloud cover
drapes soldiers and kings



laughter on Bay Street
rattles cobblestone cameras
hmmm, River Street sweets



Augusta new moon
throws heavy arms around me
clean beads of rain sweat



mother-daughter light
since the beginning of time
July Thunder Moon








Full Moon In The Pines, Augusta, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Moon River, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.MoonPie In Georgia, In-Between, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Moon Under Savannah, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Full Moon In The Pines, Moon River, MoonPie In Georgia, Moon Under Savannah, Savannah, Augusta, all places in-between, Georgia, July 2008, all photos © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Friday, August 8th, 2008

-related to posts: savannah river haiku, haiku for the live oakhaiku (one-a-day)

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Flannery O‘Connor -- The House I Grew Up In, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Flannery O’Connor — The House I Grew Up In, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



It’s almost time to leave the South. It seems like I’ve been gone forever. I had hoped to write more from the road but, I tell you, I’ve just been too exhausted when I drop into bed at night. That on-the-road research and writing takes a toll. And so does the heat. Yesterday it was 95 with a heat index of 108. Humidity like that saps my energy, and takes my breath away. This is the South of Flannery O’Connor.

To really get to know a writer, you need to walk in her shoes, live for a while where she lived, breathe the air she breathed, visit the places she called home. Flannery spent her childhood years until the age of 13 in the heart of the Historic District of Savannah, Georgia. She lived in an 1856 Savannah gray brick home owned by her beloved Cousin Katie. At the time the O’Connors lived in Savannah (from March 25th, 1925 to March, 1938 when the family moved to Milledgeville, Georgia) the population was three to four times greater than it is today.

According to the notes from a talk by Bill Dawers at the O’Connor home last December, a dozen or more people might have lived in the modest home in Lafayette Square in a dwelling that now houses only two or three. Savannah was more integrated with regard to race and class in the 1930’s, too. Before the automobile and the suburbs, nearly all Savannahians lived north of Victory Drive and people from all walks of life bumped into each other on Savannah’s city streets.



Flannery’s Neighbors, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



The two days we visited Savannah were sweltering hot; the evenings surrendered to cool breezes pooling off the river. We ate at a place called Moon River and walked through Greene Square (one of Oglethorpe’s many city squares) on the way back to our hotel room that night. Our visit was brief, as we spent most of our time down on St. Simons Island about 80 miles south; every minute counted. Our last stop heading out of Savannah was Flannery’s childhood home in Lafayette Square. She could see the spire of the Catholic church where her family worshipped from their second story bedroom.

The Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home Foundation celebrated her March 25th birthday on Friday, April 11th, by having a cookout and celebratory burning of the 207 East Charlton Street mortgage papers that had just been retired. Their vision of establishing, preserving, and maintaining the birthplace of writer Flannery O’Connor began in 1987. I am grateful for their perseverance. 

A generous donation from Jerry Bruckheimer (whose wife, Linda, has long been a fan of O’Connor) restored a 1950’s kitchen back to the family library where Flannery learned to write and read. Many people have donated time, money, and original family furnishings, and the Florencourt Sisters, Louise and Frances, keep the aim true to the writer. It’s a partnership between many that works for the good of all.

My small donation was to purchase a few books before we left and the friendly and knowledgeable guide closed the doors for the day on Flannery’s childhood home. One came highly recommended — The Letters of Flannery O’Connor: The Habit Of Being. The guide told me if I want to learn about writing, read Flannery’s letters. I highly recommend them. Flannery called herself an “innocent speller” and I’m encouraged to see the humility she embodied through her casual misspellings and religious letter writing.

Before she flew back to Minneapolis earlier this week, Liz and I started reading the letters out loud to one another. My favorite time was sitting over Clarks Hill in the sultry afternoon heat, barely able to move, with the neighbor’s peacocks welting out their prehistoric caw in the distance. Flannery loved peacocks. In fact, she loved all birds, domestic and wild. Her letters are full of fowl references and a wicked Southern sense of humor that rattles my funny bone (I can relate, having grown up with it myself).



Lafayette Square, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



The Habit Of Being is a thick tome. I’m reading her letters in chronological order from beginning to end. The sweat that pours off of me each day I’ve spent in the South only reinforces childhood memories of the slowness with which people move, the Southern drawl that rolls off the front of the mouth, the sweet iced tea and grits, the longing for that one next simple breeze.

Flannery died in 1964 at the age of 39. She suffered from lupus. It did not keep her from writing two collections of short stories (A Good Man Is Hard To Find, Everything That Rises Must Converge) and two novels (Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away), and winning the O. Henry Award three times as well as being the posthumous winner of the National Book Award in 1972. Flannery lives on in her work and the lively letters edited by her close friend, Sally Fitzgerald.



  Savannh Gray Brick, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Savannh Gray Brick, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Savannh Gray Brick, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Though she doesn’t write much about Savannah or her childhood in the letters, Flannery calls Cousin Katie’s home on Lafayette Square “the house I grew up in.” She slept in the room on the second floor over the kitchen with bright windows that look out over what was then a dirt courtyard. At the age of five, she taught a chicken, a buff Cochin Bantam, to walk backwards in that very courtyard (there are 15 seconds of movie to prove it). And she makes this comment in a letter to Maryat Lee: “I think you probably collect most of your experiences as a child — when you really had nothing else to do — and then transfer it to other situations when you write.”

It is to this end, that our childhood homes hold the weight of being. Think about the house you grew up in. Is it surrounded by farmland, an urban parking lot, mountains, desert, rivers or streams?

I travel back to the quicksand, red clay, and gangly pines of the Southern hometown where I spent my childhood (same years as Flannery, birth to 13) in hopes of learning what I am made of. I always drive by the house I grew up in. It’s a part of me that has taken years to understand. I’m still gathering like a maniac. I’m still unraveling.



Flannery O‘Connor‘s Childhood Home, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Flannery O’Connor’s Childhood Home, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008,
all photos © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Post Script:

We were not permitted to take photographs inside the Flannery O’Connor home except in one location. I did capture a few images of the writer there. But I think I’ll save them for Part II. Part I is about home and the sense of place that surrounds us growing up. In Part II, I hope to talk more about what I’ve learned about Flannery from her letters, visiting her Savannah home, and the way she lived her life.



State of Georgia Historic Plaque, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.State of Georgia Historic Plaque, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.State of Georgia Historic Plaque, Savannah, Georgia, July 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Friday, August 1st, 2008

-related to posts: Homing Instinct You Can’t Go Back – 15 Haiku, Memories Of The Savannah, Excavating Memories, Book Talk — Do You Let Yourself Read?

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pecos yellow (one), first in a series of yellow flowers from the Pecos Mountains, July 24, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



There has been a spate of articles lately about how gas prices and the state of the economy in general are forcing many Americans to spend summer vacation at home or close to home this year. There’s even a term for it: staycation.

I guess my family qualifies as stay-at-home vacationers. During one of my two weeks off from work, we managed to keep our miles down to a mere 300, all spent right here in our very own Land of Enchantment.

Here are highlights from our “trip-ette” and some of the ways we cut costs:

  • “Flower-watching” in the mountains (although we didn’t have guide nor guidebook to tell us the names of the flowers).
  • The girls made “$aver-enirs” by collecting tree sap, letting it melt in the sun, then forming the sap into objects.
  • We took Jim’s childhood boat out for a cruise along the river.
  • Used the swimming hole at Pancheula Creek (and swam in our clothes so we wouldn’t have to splurge on new swimsuits this season).
  • Harvested and sautéed exotic fungus (a puffball mushroom, not pictured), although I refrained from sampling any in the event it turned out to be poisonous; designated driver rule.
  • Weiners and buffalo burgers on the grill.
  • Fancy s’mores for dessert every night.
  • Antique collecting.
  • Fossil hunting.
  • Simulated day-spa (i.e., reading an entire memoir in one sitting while lying under blankets the day it rained, a fire glowing in the wood-burning stove).


Where did you go for your summer vacation?







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Small hand, charcoal sketch by Em, August 2007This year at my daughters’ summer camp, the art instructor used sketchbooks. She said sketching was in keeping with the theme for the camp, Look To This Day. I think what she meant was that sketching was quick. You capture what’s in front of you — a hand, a tree, maybe a thing floating in your imagination. You don’t labor over anything or tighten it up. Just sketch, then move on.

These are some of the images from Em’s sketchbook. Em is eight. The first time we took her to camp, last year, she was the youngest kid there. Usually they don’t let kids attend camp unless they’re eight or over, but Em got to go at age seven since her older sister was also attending. Em loved it. She didn’t get sad or need to call home. Not that I thought she would. One thing I know about this youngest daughter of mine: she’s easy-going and independent.

Eye to eye, charcoal drawing by Em, August 2007This past Sunday Em and I flipped through her notebook to pick out sketches to post on red Ravine. She stopped at one done in colored pens. “This is my favorite,” she said. “It’s my teacher’s favorite, too.” 

She told me the art instructor liked it so much that she made a photocopy to take home with her. Em’s whole face was smiling when she said it. Em has big teeth and a big mouth; her smile really does stretch from ear to ear. “Is it a dog,” I asked her. “Hmm,” she said. Apparently she hadn’t given it much thought until that moment. “It’s maybe a dog,” she finally said.

Maybe a dog. I like that. And I love the art instructor for making a fuss over Em’s art. We get our cues early on whether we are good or not. 


                     Maybe A Dog, sketch with colored pens by Em, August 2007
                     Maybe A Dog, all sketches © 2007 by Em. All rights reserved.

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