(Click photo for best resolution)
This was quite possibly one of the largest webs I’ve ever shot, and it was a bonus that the architect happened to be home. The weather has switched back to hot and humid. That means some early morning fog, which can make for some interesting photos.
Horses live for the green grass of summer. Unfortunately, it’s been so muggy and buggy that they haven’t spent much time in the pasture. They venture down between rain storms and graze for maybe an hour or so, then head for the shelter of the loafing shed. I feel a little sorry for them. I know they’d much rather be out grazing instead of hovering around the barn. But with bugs the size of a small dog I can’t blame them for giving up. I’d like to think it will get better soon, but the weather pattern has set the stage for a very buggy second half of the summer, and it will probably continue well into the fall. Oh well. Better luck next year!
It wasn’t a spectacular fall this year. That makes two years in a row that we’ve had a less than stunning seasonal display of color. And I have to admit, I’m not exactly grieving over it since I’m still not back to normal vision yet. If anyone told me back in March that it might take eight months to get my vision straightened out I probably would have postponed the surgery. But they didn’t. In fact, when I specifically asked about side effects and complications they more or less pooh-poohed my asking. “We do this all the time with great success. We’ll cross that bridge when … no, IF we get to it.” Well that bridge came up awful damn fast.
Most people don’t understand what it’s like to have screwed up vision. We’ve had major advancements in glasses and contacts so those who suffer from myopia seldom have to struggle for very long after a problem has been detected. When I was in grade school every child received a vision and hearing test at school, as well as a dental cleaning and exam. In addition, we were marched off to the nurses office every spring for a remedial physical exam.
The eye test was pretty basic: the students were asked to read an eye chart using first one eye, then the other. Next, the tester would give the child a red, green, white and black marble, and they would hold a picture card in front of you and ask you to place a specific color marble at different spots on the picture. This tested for depth perception and color blindness. I usually nailed the color and depth perception of this test, but after second grade I struggled to read the eye chart.
After the eye test was finished the student was ushered to another room where an audio tester waited with a big black or blue square box. The box had lots of dials on it and a chord with large, clunky headphone attached. The tester adjusted the headset to fit your head, then had you sit on a stool with your back to them as they worked the different dials that made the tone sounds. You were supposed to raise the hand that correlated with the ear that heard the tone. The pitch and intensity of the tone jumped all over the scale from very high to low and super soft or moderately loud. There never seemed to be a pattern for the tones, though like my father I always tried to find one. I was never very good with this test either, but my mother said that was because I had inherited her tiny ear canals and I was prone to inner ear infections.
I hated the dental cleaning and never understood why I had to have it done since our family saw our regular dentist every six months like clockwork. The dental hygiene chair was big and uncomfortable and the water that swirled continuously in the cuspidor made me have to pee. The hygienist would start by asking us to chew a chalky, bright red disclosing tablet, then she would hand us a hand-held mirror so we could see all the “dirty places” the pink stain revealed. I always thought this was kind of unfair since it had either been hours since I’d brushed my teeth or my visit came after lunch. What did she expect? Anyhow, she’d get out her big set of plastic teeth and gums, an over-sized demo toothbrush and would patiently explain how I was supposed to brush my teeth, after which she’d polish my teeth with her oily, belt driven prophy brush. I knew I was almost done when the hygienist shoved a gooey, overflowing tray of orange flavored fluoride in my mouth. The only good thing about visiting the school hygienist was that we got a kit that had a new toothbrush, a slim tube of Pepsident (Mom only bought Crest) and a strip of a dozen or so disclosing tablets.
In the spring our teacher divided us into two groups (one boys, one girls) and escorted us up to the nurses office for our annual physical exam. During my grade school years we had a delightful school nurse who looked just like Meryl Streep and had Meryl’s compassion and witty sense of humor. Sometimes I faked feeling sick just so I could be fussed over by Mrs. Hatfield. I adored her. I think all the children did. Anyhow, Mrs. Hatfield didn’t do the exam, a real doctor did it. I felt kind of cheated by that. I mean, I went willingly because I like Mrs. Hatfield, but I wasn’t crazy about having some old man I didn’t know see me in my underpants and undershirt. He looked a little like Harry Morgan, who played Col. Sherman T. Potter in the TV. show MASH. The doctor tried to make small talk as he placed a cold stethoscope on my scrawny chest and back. Then they weighed us and measured our height, before checking each child for something called scoliosis. Last, but not least, they handed us a little paper cup that held a clear, sweet tasting liquid that was going to protect us from something called Polio.
Back when I was in grade school there were lots of kids who relied on school health services such as these. For many, it was probably the only time they ever saw a doctor or a dental hygienist and for others, it may have been the only time they had toothpaste or a toothbrush. Not that I lived in an overly poor neighborhood. I didn’t. But you always knew there were one or two kids in every class who just didn’t get the simple basic necessities we took for granted.
The Nearness of You by Nora Jones from Come Away With Me
I thought The Nearness of You would be kind of appropriate given the photo. Funny how two spiders can park themselves right next to one another and be fine, but humans? Not so much.
I’m temporarily suspended from riding until I get the Doctor’s OK. Hopefully that will only be a week or so, but I’m pretty sure my horse is fine with that!
The architect of this beautiful dreamcatcher wasn’t home. She was probably watching me from a safe distance.
It never ceases to amaze me how much work goes into making a web. I may not be all that fond of the engineers, but their handiwork is impressive. Especially when you consider that each web either has to be remade every day or undergo extensive repairs. Some webs are small, but this web was quite large. I’ll have to check and see if it’s still up and in good working condition tomorrow morning.
It was another foggy morning … good for shooting webs. I didn’t have a lot of time to explore options today because I had things to do and Gus was waiting to come back out and go burn off a little energy. I took a few photos, then set my camera and tripod aside. The whole time I was shooting the horses were patiently grazing in the side pasture by the barn, but as I approached them I suddenly spotted a HUGE web suspended between the two strands of electric fence! I quickly retrieved my camera and struggled to find a place that would support the tripod and allow a decent shot. While I was doing this the horses continued to munch grass directly behind the web, which was so light-sensitive that if Dharla moved away from the fence the web just vanished into the fog. Naturally, almost as soon as I had things set up both horses got board and started to wander off, so I picked a couple of handfuls of green grass and tossed it over the fence. I hoped that would entice at least one of the horses to come back, preferably Dharla since she’s the darker of the two horses. It worked, and I was able to get a few interesting shots of the web with Dharla in the background for contrast.
Only A Dream by Mary Chapin Carpenter from Come On Come On
My older sister is eighteen months older than me, my brother and sister only a few years younger. As kids we were thick as thieves, doing almost everything together as a family. But as we grew into our teens we either drifted apart or made alliances where and when it was to our advantage. I shared a bedroom with my older sister all but the last two years I lived at home. Given our extremely different personalities, it’s amazing that we got along as well as we did. She was a neat-nick, I was a slob. My sister was a girly-girl and a goody two-shoes who loved fashion (mini dresses), make-up and boys. I was a tomboy who never wore anything except jeans (preferably the same pair, over and over) listened to rock and roll and liked recreational drugs. There were times when we actually had to draw an invisible line down the middle of our room just to keep the peace. Never the less, when the rubber met the road we always had each others back. Always.
In the summer of ’72 my sister went to The Art Institute of Pittsburgh PA for a trial program. This was the first time in my life that I’d ever slept in a bedroom alone. I didn’t have to use headphones to listen to my music at night, I didn’t have to pick up my clothes and I didn’t have to tiptoe around my sister’s erratic mood swings that always had something to do with her boyfriend. In fact, before she left she made me guardian of her boyfriend’s high school ring. It was a big clunker of a thing with a Tiger’s Eye stone and a half a ball of yarn wound around the shank so it would stay on her slender finger. I remember feeling pretty honored. Then, after pretending the ring was mine for awhile (from an imaginary boyfriend) I put the ring in a drawer where, later that summer my cousin stole it during her visit. I didn’t miss my sister all that much, unless of course you count the times a thunder storm rolled through or I needed an opinion on something important.
Before I had time to get used to having my own space my older sister was back home again. We continued to be roommates for another year, though she was so preoccupied with her life that she hardly had time for me unless it was to ask if she could borrow something or accuse me of taking something of hers. The following summer she had a job and dibs on the family car and I saw even less of her. I’d hover in her periphery and ask questions about her boyfriend or her job, but for the most part I didn’t register a blip on her radar screen. In autumn when she left for college I was pretty used to her being gone and so it was just a matter of taking over the empty space she’d left in her wake. Her twin bed housed our childhood collection of stuffed animals and I took over her space in the closet, but I was pretty sure it was only a matter of time before she’d be back again. Little did I know, it was the last time my older sister would ever live at home or share a room with me. A chapter in my life had closed for good.
When I graduated from high school I enrolled in a tech program in a nearby city. I chose to live in a dorm room with three other girls and once again I found the rotating company enjoyable. I guess I’m just one of those people who doesn’t mind sharing my space with others. When I finished the program I found a job working for a local dentist and moved back home to the farm. By then, my younger sister had moved into my old bedroom, forcing me to occupy my brother’s empty room. My younger sister and I got along well and we started to get reacquainted. A five year age gap had been tough to bridge when we were kids, but I soon discovered that my fifteen year-old sister was a good listener and a supportive friend. We spent many a night talking late into the wee hours of the morning. It was during this period of time that I rekindled a relationship with an old flame who lived out of state, which entailed driving to various locations to meet him on the weekend. My sister listened to my exploits and encouraged me to follow my heart, which ultimately led to my decision to leave home.
My parents were fairly understanding when I announced I was ready to move out. I mean, it’s not like they didn’t know where I was going every weekend. I’m sure they figured it was only a matter of time before I decided to do something more permanent. Still, I found it hard to pull up the stakes and leave. I’d been paying my parents rent and while I liked the sense of freedom it allowed, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be totally on my own. But I had a fat savings account, a new car and I thought the road was calling me. So I set a date, proceeded to give my two weeks notice at work and started to pack my meager belongings.
Feeling time was of essence, my sister and I spent every evening together talking about our future hopes and dreams. I cherished those nights of sharing and laughter, never once stopping to think how hard it must have been to know you’ll be the last child left at home. The four of us had once been somewhat of a team, but as we grew up one by one, each child set sail for the next chapter of their life leaving the younger siblings behind. Now that it was my turn to fly my mind was on the future and the exciting new changes to come. I wasn’t thinking about how empty the house would seem to the last sibling still living at home.
All too soon my date of departure arrived and although there was a faint surreal quality to it, it was really just a day like any other. The sun came up over the pasture and the barn swallows swooped over the yard scolding the fat lazy cats that lounged on the front porch. I gave my camera to my mother and asked her to snap a few photos of my sister and I standing beneath a big pine tree in the front yard. Our eyes were swollen from crying, but we composed ourselves and smiled bravely for the camera.
My sister and I hugged and whispered our goodbyes in hoarse, wavering voices. I promised her I’d come back for a visit soon, knowing full well that I wouldn’t. I hugged my mother and told her I’d write, which I seldom did either. (Mom wrote to me faithfully every week for many years, sending coupons and correcting my spelling with every correspondence) My father had already left for work after pausing only long enough to give me a big, but dry-eyed bear hug and tell me, “The door swings both ways.” I wasn’t quite sure what that meant, but I’ve since learned it’s 70’s Dad-speak for, “Love you, honey.” I’d like to think my father shed a tear or two after he drove off, but I’ll never know.
Unable to stall any longer I climbed into my loaded hatchback and turned the key. I inched down the long gravel driveway while taking a moment for one last sweeping look at the beautiful farm I’d grown to love. Deep down in my heart I missed it already. I turned in my seat and waved one final time at my mother and sister, then pulled out onto Victor Road. As I drove off I glanced in my rear view mirror. My mother had vanished into the house, but my sister stood stoically waiving like a princess in a parade. Through my tears I watched her until I drove around a bend and the house dipped out of sight. I never lived at home again.
The day you left home you got an early start
I watched your car back out in the dark
I opened the door to your room down the hall
I turned on the light and all that I saw
Was a bed and a desk and a couple of tacks,
no sign of someone who expects to be back.
That must have been one hell of a suitcase you packed.
Twirl me about, twirl me around
let me grow dizzy and fall to the ground
and when I look up at you looking down
say it was only a dream.
Things are starting to get super busy, but there’s nothing like a few weeks with daily temps in the 90’s to sap your energy. I’ve done my best just to soldier through it, but word has it that the next few days are going to be even hotter. Looks like morning and evening hose duty is going to be mandatory. I’ve planted several shrubs out by the new barn and if I don’t spend a good chunk of every day watering them, they’re going to fry. I’m hoping they’ll take, and by this time next summer I won’t have to do a thing with them.
We still have some decisions to make about the stain for the barn. We both want something that will look as natural and barn-y as possible. We already have a red barn, so we’re not looking to repeat that hue. Ideally, I’d like the barn to look like it’s always been here, but who would think there’d be so many different shades and tones of “natural” to pick from? And let’s not forget about several kinds of opacity. Good grief! I’m not good at making that kind of decision and I always end up second guessing my choice until the project is done. However, we can’t stain with the temperatures this high, so I’ll have a little reprieve to torture myself with the final decision.
More exciting news and changes to come soon, but in the mean time I think I’m going to need a catcher’s mitt … like the spider web I shot one foggy morning this week.