When I started this project, I never imagined that I would find myself photographing trash cans, yet here I am doing it again. I love to happen upon something quirky or absurd out in the world and capture it in a photograph. I get a certain sort of joy out of these moments that I find nowhere else.
Coffee is one of my favorite sensory experiences. We grind the beans and fill the pot in the evening as part of the kitchen clean up. The dark aroma of the grounds creates a craving for a cup, no matter how late the hour. First thing in the morning, whichever parent awakens first starts the pot brewing. We anxiously await the burbling noise that signifies the end of the brewing as we sort out breakfast for the kids. Morning with early-rising children usually finds me feeling a bit fragile and harried, but that first sip of slightly sweet, slightly creamy, fresh-brewed coffee fills me with hope and fortitude for the day ahead.
As I was looking over my photos from today, I was struck by the unplanned animal theme. I see each of the animals pictured here as rich in meaning, emblematic and symbolic beyond their surface illustration of "elephant" and "fish." Each evokes a specific mood and association quite distinct from the other: a new baby, softness, innocence; a refreshing drink, cool smoothness, festive company.
I've been saving broken bits of crayon since my son first started drawing with them as a toddler three years ago. Today we attempted our first crafty project with them, making "stained glass" with crayon shavings, wax paper and an iron.
Once we felt we had enough crayon shavings, my son decided to draw the shape of a butterfly in the pile. My original plan was to make separate piles for each color, but I hoped to finish this project while my daughter napped, and she takes extremely short naps.
Mixing the colors all together proved more efficient, but they bled together more than I expected when we applied the iron. At first we were both disappointed that the butterfly shape was entirely lost in the melting process, but the closer we looked, the more beauty we saw in the blended colors. And we have an ever-increasing wealth of broken crayon bits to work with, so we have ample opportunity to experiment.
I baked some delicious muffins this weekend in order to make use of some leftover fruit stashed away in the freezer. The muffin tins I used once belonged to Honey, one of my paternal great-grandmothers. I pull these tins out quite frequently, and every time I find myself marveling at the beauty of these functional items.
After spending a psychotic afternoon doing yard work in typical Virginia July heat and humidity, we did the only reasonable thing we could imagine: we took the kids for ice cream.
After hitting the DQ drive-through, we did a little exploring and discovered a park we had never visited. The playground was surrounded by baseball fields, with this football practice equipment marooned in the middle of it all.
Toward the very beginning of this project, I posted a picture of the upstairs carpet in my house. Today my husband came home from work with a rented steam cleaner. The carpet is still ugly and old, but at least it's clean now.
My neighbor's yard is usually a mess, so I couldn't resist the pretty morning sunlight on their momentarily orderly space. They're the only people on the block with a mailbox near the road, rather than on the house. I wonder how that came about.
This is the sight that greets you as you drive north into Pearisburg on Route 100. "Small Town, Good People" Everything about this town is so quaint.
We traveled past Pearisburg this morning on our way to Narrows, Virginia to check out a cool park on Wolf Creek. I noticed this colorful laundry glowing in the morning sun while we were fumbling around town, trying to find the park.
In the afternoon, we headed up to Mountain Lake Conservancy, where the resort scenes of Dirty Dancing were filmed. We followed this old hot rod and a beer truck up the final leg of a long, narrow, twisty mountain road.
The hiking at Mountain Lake proved a bust, so we continued on the gravel road that led into the wilderness region in search of the trailhead to Wind Rock on the Appalachain Trail. The trail is described as "moderately easy" for adults, but it was a fairly tough climb for my preschooler. We took our time, with frequent stops to rest and look around and give some encouragement. The view at the end of the trail was well worth the effort, and the return hike down the mountain was much quicker.
This morning the kids and I visited Dismal Falls on the Appalachian Trail, such a perfect spot for a hot, muggy day. After driving a mile up a gravel road, we stopped at a pull-over just a few hundred feet up the trail from the falls. I miss the days when I would have started further up the trail, but this extremely short hike ending in a natural pool was perfect for two young children. They spent a wonderful morning splashing in the water, and we enjoyed meeting three AT through-hikers, for whom this spot was a unique chance to cool off and wash away the sweat of weeks of travel. I was disappointed but not entirely surprised by the amount of litter and food waste at this lovely spot.
We returned to the farm to find that my husband and his apprentice had completed the installation of the two small handrails portion of the project.
Today my family and I headed to Pearisburg, Virginia, a tiny little town west of Blacksburg in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My husband and his apprentice were scheduled to install a custom railing they had created for an amazing new home built by a couple that raises Merino sheep. We stayed in an old farmhouse on the property for the duration of the installation. After driving about five hours to get there, we spent the rest of the day settling in to our temporary home.
Another window sill discovery. These two pieces of wooden fruit need to be rinsed off, and they wound up here to dry, reminding me of an earlier shot of this little turtle and another orange.
I stopped at this park a few weeks ago to try to capture an image of the city skyline. The bright, early evening sun and a family playing on the only blue structure meant I didn't get the shot I had in mind, and I've been wanting to return for another try.
Now that I see all the images together, I think I might prefer the shot in the previous post. I like the spontaneity of the first shot, while these are more careful, controlled and less risky shots.
I stumbled upon a fascinating material today. On a whim and based on a partial memory of toddler crafts, I mixed some cornstarch and water to entertain my daughter. But I couldn't seem to get the mixture right. One moment it was solid cement, the next it was thin as water. Did I need to add more cornstarch, or more water?
I turned to the internet for the answer and realized I had mixed up a batch of Oobleck, a non-newtonian liquid that can be poured but acts as a solid when force is applied. What an exciting discovery! The kids and I had a blast playing with this cool gooey substance, mixing up batch after batch until the box of cornstarch was empty.
Today the kids and I met up with some friends at Point of Rocks Park on the Appamatox River. Not only does this park have one of the coolest names I've ever heard applied to a county park, there is a gigantic playground area and, as if that weren't enough, a nature trail that includes a boardwalk through a marsh.
I don't normally include nature-y photos here, especially ones that include absolutely no blue to speak of. But the exotic beauty of this marsh as a tremendous thunderstorm blew in was breathtaking beyond the normal nature-y stuff and worthy of breaking one my rules.
My talented sister made this for me as a gift one year for Christmas. She knew that I liked to keep track of important events and milestones in my son's life, then the only child, in a journal that was almost full.
I've gone in the opposite direction since that time, from noting every cute saying and escapade to jotting quick notes on the calendar. Life is much busier with two little ones than I ever could have predicted when we were a family of three.