Posts Tagged With: photos

I wanted to share the stories

Tuesday last I went to the PO to send out all the photos I sorted for my friends and family.
I sent five large first class envelopes, three bigger priority mail padded envelopes, and one big priority mail box.

The first text came from my cousin Chris at 11:32 Thursday morning.

Bless you Robyn! Bless you. Just got the pics you sent me. Brought some much needed happiness, and a tear to my eye. Love you.

The second text came the same day at 5:02 from his sister.

I got the pictures. Thank you so much. Perfect timing Chris is coming over tomorrow.

The third text I got was from Sally at 5:11 Thursday afternoon.

Who are the other two folks?

I got Nicole’s text at 3:24 on Saturday.

We are loving all the pics! Thank you!

At 5:40 this came from Kristen. She taught second grade to both my girls. When Thing 2 was in her class, she had her first child. We saw them frequently. With the aid of social media we stayed in touch all these years, and she was here to celebrate with us last summer at the party for Baby K!

What a surprise!!!! Thank you!!!

He’s checking himself out (heart emoji)

I heard from Becca later Saturday evening at 8:18.

OMG!!!! Loved it!!! Thank you (with a bunch of smiley heart emojis)

Sundance got quarantined away from home, so her package is at her house waiting for her.

And the big box was delivered to the Things father, but I haven’t heard anything. I mean, not that I expected to. But I keep thinking, now I regret being kind to you.

Thing 1 said, “Momma, never regret being kind.” and she’s right.
None of these packages were about me. About the response I got for sending them.

I sent photos to my friends and family because I wanted to share the stories.
Their kids were babies in some of these photos. The stories of their whole young lives caught in these images. I wanted to share those stories, those memories with their families.
I absolutely adored going through these photos. The stories they told came back in vivid detail. Jogging my memory of other stories. I spent a few days reliving my daughters young lives. It was a sacred place to be.
It was also bittersweet. This part of our lives is past. And dwelling too long there would be less precious and more painful with every passing moment.
The time I spent revisiting my life, the lives of the people I love was a beautiful gift. I’ve sent off photos to my friends and family so they can revisit their own journeys. I find myself ready to once again look forward.

I’m pleased to be finished with that portion of the process. I look forward to the time when I can be with each of my girls and go through their boxes of photos. Sharing memories, stories, laughter, and maybe even tears.
In the meantime, I have the last two boxes. These are more photos from my past. Some of me as a child. Some from the collections of my parents and grandparents.
They feel less fun to me. Though, I remain hopeful that I’ll find pics that tell a story I don’t remember. Or one the girls don’t know so I can share with them.

I do still have a box of photo CDs to add to one of those external hard drives. Though, I’m not in a big hurry to get after that. I need a break from my life as a young mother. I don’t want to feel that bittersweet feeling. That pull of the past.

Those CDs will be there. Sitting in that box. Waiting patiently until I’m ready.

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knowing and telling of stories

In case you were wondering the status of the great and arduous process, here’s an update.
This is what It looked like when I finished through 2002.

Each of those boxes was chock full of photos.
I finished the preliminary sort and purge, and returned to those boxes only the photos about which I wanted to share stories. Or photos I wanted the girls to be able to decide what to keep and what to purge.
There are five finished boxes, in those boxes, I sorted the pictures into the following categories.
Thing 1 only
Thing 2 only
the Things together
me
Mommie, Daddie, and Grandaddy (yeah, all in one box, but I only had five)

Of course then I had to bring the rest of the boxes upstairs.

At this point, I’ve gotten through 2004. I haven’t looked at photos since Saturday last. I needed a break this week.
As I sort, if it’s for one of my girls, I write the year and who’s in the pic on the back. First and last names and where the photo was taken if I know. That’s to help jog their memories.

In addition to sorting out photos for the girls, I’m setting some aside to be sent to other people. My intent is to box these up and put them in the mail just as soon as I finish the initial sort and purge. I’m only writing the date on the backs of these.

From left to right, these stacks will be sent to the following people:
Becca
Nicole
the next two are for my cousins
Brooke
Sundance
Sally
the Things father

Grandaddy was on each of these ships.
Either in WWII or Korea.
With a teeny bit of research, I was able to verify which ship was which and label accordingly.
This Golden Dragon thing was kind of cool, I just wish I knew more about it.

I have all his Navy information in a container in the basement. I’m hoping to connect each ship with his time on it, as well as locate his ribbons, dog tags, etc. and compile all that information in one place. For what purpose? Well, in the meantime, just for me. If at some point Thing 2 wants it, yay!, if not, equally yay!, it’s her choice.

It’s interesting to learn more about the man who raised me. He never talked about himself, or his life. As far as we knew, he didn’t exist until the day I was born. He was simply Grandaddy. My mom didn’t talk about his life either, or her own. I grew up knowing practically nothing about the people who raised me.
I tried to do that differently when I became a mom.
I want those girls to know who I am and why. That in addition to being their Momma, I’m a girl. A human being with thoughts and feels and plans and dreams and a sense of humor and flaws. And love.
Knowing and telling each other’s stories is so important!

I’m planning to go back to the photos this coming week.
But today, YBW and I are going to set up the porch! After his cleaning and protective sealing of the porch a couple weeks ago, I purposely waited. I wanted to let the pollening happen before we set it up for porch life. But I’m tired of waiting! I’m looking at the oak trees and realize I simply don’t have the patience to outlast them.
We’re going to set up rugs and furniture and umbrellas today.
Then I’ll be able to go out and porch life whenever I please!

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what story is more important than this

These are the thoughts that hatch as I go through seventy plus years of family photos.

It comes down to being the last living person who has any real understanding of some of these photos, and people. My girls knew my parents, but only in the capacity of children. They didn’t know Grandaddy at all, even though Thing 2 is named for him.

I’m trying to pare down photos of my Grandaddy, mom, and dad, and keep only what tells a story. And then share those stories and let Thing 2 decide how she’s going to proceed. I don’t want her to have to sift through photos and wonder who’s who. Who’s important. Or that she should feel obligated to keep them without being able to answer those questions.
I don’t want her to feel guilty about parting with anything she doesn’t like, want, or understand.

I’m being mindful about each photo I touch. I’m saving much more than I’m actually inclined to, simply because I want to give Thing 2 the opportunity to touch these same photos and see if they mean anything to her.
One example is a letter my great uncle sent to Grandaddy and my grandmother in 1948. My mom was about to celebrate her 3rd birthday and my great uncle was sending pics of being in the army. That was what actually initiated the four and a half hour call to Thing 2. I’m saving all correspondence for her now, so she can see the handwriting and photos and make her own choices.

This process is helping me feel close to my family, but also picking at the scab of grief.

My Grandaddy died in 1992.
I miss him every single day. Not purposefully, it’s just there. A part of me. In my skin. It’s comforting and a sad at the same time. He has always been a part of me and always will. He was my first love. The one who helped me see that love didn’t have to be cruel and conditional.

My mom died in 2011. Mostly I’m relieved I can’t disappoint her anymore. But there are times when I miss the idea of her. Sometimes you just want your mom, even though you know she won’t actually bring you any comfort.
A part of me wishes she could see Thing 1 be Baby K’s mom. But only as long as she kept her criticisms to herself.

My dad died in 2014.
I miss him. The relationship we were building in the last few years of his life. After he came out he was different. Like, he had spoken his truth and could breathe freely for the first time in his life. He loved YBW and was building a strong friendship with him. He was becoming a wonderful grandfather to nearly adult girls and they loved that. I find myself still thinking, Oh! I should call Daddie and tell him…

Going through these photos is helpful.
I feel that twinge of missing them. But I feel peaceful in that.
Seeing pics of Grandaddy in his whites. Or wearing a red wig and making crazy faces.
Or my parents when they were young and actually thought they loved each other.

I want to share as many stories with Thing 2 as I can remember! I want her to know her family.
I’ve got a million photos of me as a little girl, teen, etc. I look so forward to sharing those stories with her!
However arduous this process may be, I’m so joyful to be going through it.

I look forward to sharing stories with her about her childhood. The ones she doesn’t remember. I’m hopeful seeing and touching these photographs will trigger some of them for her. If not, I’ll tell her everything I can remember.

Thing 1 said it wasn’t as much that she didn’t care about the photos as it was she didn’t want to go through thousands of photos to find the six she wants. I’ve solved that problem for her. She can go through hundreds to find the six she wants. I want to share stories with her too, but she remembers so much more than Thing 2 simply because she has three more years of life.

I found this photo of me. Homecoming 1989 maybe?

I sent it in the girls group chat and said, Hey, your momma was kind of a hottie.

How’s that for a story?
Is it only with the power of hindsight we begin to truly see? To truly understand?
I don’t know. But I want to share these stories and these photos with the people I love. I want them to be meaningful and maybe even powerful.
This is us.
This is our life.
This is our history.
What story is more important than this?

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the great and arduous process

Tuesday I brought the first five boxes up from the basement to the Nest to begin what I’ve decided to call ‘the great and arduous process’. Otherwise known as going through the last three decades of photographs. By bringing them upstairs, I’m able to use all three of my work desks to sort instead of sitting in the floor downstairs.
Score 1 for me!

These photos are sacred.
They’re my life.
The lives of my children.
The lives of my parents, and grandparents.
It feels important for me to celebrate these lives. So, I pulled out a champagne coupe and popped a bottle of bubbly.

This was meant to be a Thing 2 and Momma task, but Thing 2 isn’t coming because the world is currently safer if we stay in the place we are.
I’m doing a preliminary purge and sort. I’m working to be mindful about what I keep and why. Then she and I will do it again when we’re able to be together.
She loves photos, and the history behind them. She will be the one who carries that on when I leave this world, and I’m content with that.
About an hour and a half in, I called her to ask a somewhat unrelated question and we stayed on the phone for four hours, thirty-four minutes and eighteen seconds.
We laughed, we cried, we talked and told stories.
So, in a way, we did start this project together, if only for a little while.

My friend Holly asked me what was my end goal.
I didn’t actually have an answer for her.
But after thinking on it a moment, I replied: I think really just keeping what we want and letting go of the rest. Thing 2 will help make that decision. She’s going to pick up the mantle of being the keeper of photos at some point. Thing 1 already said doesn’t care about them, so it will really come down to what Thing 2 wants to do. I’m trying to be mindful about what’s going to be important to and for her. I want to avoid her having the ‘deal with’ them when I’m gone. If she’s involved now, we can decide together what’s important in the long run and what’s immediately important.

I look forward to the joy of sharing more stories while we hold photos in our hands.
That’s powerful stuff.

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colombia

Of everything about this trip, I was most excited to visit Cartagena, Colombia. Geeking out over, and romanticizing the rich history, imagining how it would be.
I was fired up!

Then we got there.
It was straight chaos.
There was an Iron Man competition going on, as well as a huge Italian cruise ship in port with us.
The city was teeming with people. Narrow sidewalks and streets were crowded. It was overcast, hot and humid. To say I was overstimulated is a gross understatement.

However tricky it was getting around, it was as beautiful as I’d imagined.
Through the benefit of hindsight, I realize I enjoyed it much more than it felt like I did when I was actually there.

I learned to pronounce the city name properly. It’s car-tah-hey-na not cart-a-hayne-ya.
I learned that ‘no’ is the same in Spanish and English.
I was reminded of how much patience and kindness my husband has in him.
I was reminded it’s OK to admit it when you’ve got nothing left in your tank.
I learned that when a man shows up in a taxi, miraculously at the exact moment you need him most, he was sent by the Powers That Be to rescue you, bring you a bit of peace, and change your entire point of view.

I think when traveling it’s easy to consider one’s excitement, anticipation, and expectations and much more difficult to recognize or acknowledge when one is travel weary.
By the time we got to Cartagena, I was travel weary, but didn’t realize it. I truly felt like a little child, over-tired, overwhelmed, overstimulated and on the verge of a meltdown. I did my best to hold it together. To embrace and enjoy the beauty of the city.

The old city is a ridiculously beautiful place, and this little street was absolutely my favorite!

This ‘bucket list’ trip was everything it could possibly be and even more.
Time with YBW away from the daily grind was a precious gift. We travel well together. We understand what piques each other’s curiosity and interest. We enthusiastically engage in sharing experiences.
We are as content to explore crowded streets, manage language barriers, and ride in death trap taxis as we are to quietly lounge in the shade, drink cocktails in a piano bar, and stargaze.
I’m so grateful we made this trip together!

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canal day

Canal day!
That’s what I called it even when we first discussed this trip.
For us canal day was Thanksgiving. And though I was disappointed I missed the Macy’s Parade, spending the day on the balcony with YBW was the loveliest way to participate in Thanksgiving day!
YBW decided all along that he would spend canal day on the balcony with his cameras and drink wine. And y’all, he absolutely did. He never left the balcony until we were safely through Gatun locks and into the Atlantic.
Then he had a quick nap before we went to dinner.

We started with mimosas and breakfast on the balcony.

We remained on the balcony through both of the Miraflores locks. But we were at the front of the ship when we got to Pedro Miguel locks.

It’s actually hard to see anything because the ship is up so high.

A stormy sail through Gatun lake drove me indoors, but YBW managed to stay out of the rain with his wine and his camera all day long.

At Gatun locks we had a much better view of the lock systems.

At one point a huge container ship and three tugs moved together into the lock next to us. The tug shown entering the lock did donuts in the canal waiting its turn to join the container ship. I’m not ashamed to admit how much joy I had watching that!

I adore tug boats! They’re the James Brown of the shipping industry. You know, ‘the hardest working boat in ship-biz’.
It really is the little things that bring me the most joy!

For some, moving though the Panama Canal is a once in a lifetime experience, for other’s it’s simply all in a day’s work. While we were in the canal, I thought, this is cool! I’ve done it and can check it off my list, but don’t think I’ll want to do it again. But now, after going through the photos, and talking about the trip with friends and family, and writing a little about it now, I find myself with a willingness to return. I wonder what more I’ll learn? Will I notice anything I missed? What new experiences await another trip?

Here’s a profile of the canal system provided by the Panama Canal Commission in case you’re curious.

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panama city

So, Panama City is a huge banking center now. I didn’t realize that until we were there.

Of all the places I’ve been in the world, this might be the place with the most disparity between the haves and the have nots. This gorgeous skyline, with these huge sky scrapers literally right next to the worst possible housing, barely fit for humans.
Apparently it’s quite cost effective to live in Panama City. Penthouse apartments (the top two and three floors of some of these buildings) 250,000 USD. I’m like, dang, we could sell our house and nearly buy two. Meanwhile, it’s still Panama City.

The old city was actually kind of quaint. Chock full of partially demolished buildings, also loads of construction. The people there feel a way about it too.

And dear God, was it hot. And humid. I mean the air was downright wet, that makes for some tricky breathing.


I was completely obsessed with all these gorgeous brick buildings that used to be churches!

I’m not sorry we had the opportunity to explore a bit of Panama City, but to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t entire impressed.

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costa rica

Costa Rica. The rich coast.
Y’all! I would pack up and move there in the blink of an eye!
But probably not during rainy season. And most likely only at a certain altitude. In the mountains, the temperature is delightful, the sun and sky and breeze create an environment in which I’d never want to leave.
However, at sea level it’s damn steamy. So what’s the rainy season like in the mountains?

I was most eager to go to Colombia on this trip, but Costa Rica was my favorite stop.

This botanical garden specializes in orchids.

It was steamy here, but stupid gorgeous!
I shot so many different types of orchids, I lost count.

We left the gardens for the coffee plantations in the mountains.
This is Doka Estate coffee plantation.

I’m not much of a coffee drinker, I mean I like it, but mostly with dessert after dinner. If I’m drinking it in the morning, it’s hot and black and I’m either hungover, eating donuts, or straight desperate for caffeine.
However, I’m an avid (container) plant grower, and I was excited to learn how coffee beans grow, are tended, and harvested. How they’re dried and roasted for human consumption.

The beans are picked several times throughout the season. The red ones are ripe, the green ones stay on the plant and wait their turn. Apparently you can eat the red beans right from the plant and they’re a little sweet tasting. I didn’t, so I cannot verify.

There is a saying in Costa Rica, ‘pura vida’. It means pure life, and to be perfectly honest, it’s so much more than just a slogan, it is truly a way of living.
The flora is gorgeous.
The coffee is on point.
The food is delicious.
The living is pure.


I’m already planning a return.

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nicaragua

Nicaragua is more beautiful than I imagined.
Even standing at the mouth of a volcano.

The juxtaposition between the dark lava rock and bright colors of healthy vegetation and bright blue skies makes for breathtaking views.
And some pretty decent photos too.

Speaking of photos, YBW was getting his photog on like crazy!

In addition to spending time at (the very active) Masaya volcano, we also spent time at the Masaya artisan market.

A place where native artisans sell their wares. I mean, sure there was a great deal of touristy junk, but some of the handmade items were not only gorgeous, but nicely priced too.
There is a huge stage and open area for folkloric shows, and local entertainment.

It was lovely.

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los cabos

Cabo San Lucas.
You hear that name and think Spring Break, right?
And at the cruise port, there is every evidence of a party town. Including a big ass Senor Frog’s.
However, if you go just a few miles away to San Jose del Cabo you’ll be treated to the most precious town square, arts district, mission-turned-church, and a glass factory using only recycled glass.


San Jose missionary church faces the precious Plaza Mijares in the heart of the historic and arts district.

We happened to be in Mexico on November 20th this is Revolution Day.

Children were out of school, and there was a huge parade in this little town. In addition to the kids the fire and police departments were lined up as well as people in authentic time period dress on horseback.
You know, as soon as the kids saw us with our cameras, they were shouting and hamming it up for us to take their photos. So many duck faces and peace signs. Doesn’t matter where you are on the planet, put a bunch of kids in front of a camera, they’re going to show out. Those kids brought me joy.

They only use recycled glass at The Glass Factory.

There is a courtyard chock full of every color glass you can imagine. Apparently, the glass factory waited nearly two years to have enough glass to begin their work.
I’ve been to many a glass blowing shop, and the way they work at The Glass Factory was no different. It was however, more beautiful than many I’ve seen.

We didn’t party in Cabo.
We experienced a beautiful arts district, learned a bit of Mexican history, marveled at blown glass, and stood on the cliffs over looking the sea.
It was a truly lovely day.

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