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Raw oysters …

are one of those things that evoke an immediate and unwavering response.

One either loves or hates them.

Adores or abhors.

People who know me personally would say loudly and with confidence that I would never, with intention, put a raw oyster in my mouth.

They would be sadly mistaken.

I love raw oysters.

There is something about slurping the organism and the juice around it into my mouth that takes me right over the edge of culinary ecstasy.

A delicacy that did, I freely admit, surprise me.

I was apprehensive at the thought of my first raw oyster, but I wanted adventure and, well, come on, what is more adventurous than a raw bi-valve.

I remember closing my eyes, as if that would somehow make the experience less traumatizing.

But when that sweet, salty taste co-mingled with the sharp bite of horseradish hit my tongue, I was hooked.

Joyous.

Delectable.

Intoxicating.

The fear of an immediate emetic response was eradicated and pleasurable endorphins poured in to take its place.

It is like everything else in life … don’t knock it until you try it.

If, by chance, you’re ever in the Outer Banks of NC, take highway 12 to Buxton and check out Pop’s Raw Bar.

It will, I promise, be worth it.

Those were, I say with utmost confidence, the best raw oysters to ever pass my lips.

If you go, tell Wendy that the Virginian with the suspicious Ohioan companion said “Hi”.

At last I say this … try new things.

Divert from your everyday ritual.

Fear of the unknown will keep many wonderful things from your perspective.

I know this because I lived, many years, with fear.

Now, unless it involves spiders, I give it the finger.

I still freak out at spiders.

Overcome what you can, run screaming from what you can’t.

Pretty simple when you break it down.

image

Vacation is over …

and tomorrow, it is back to business as usual.

The Outer Banks is a fond memory, both recent and distant.

It seems that, while I know I was there, I wasn’t there at all.

A week isn’t enough time to find everything I left there the year before, or the year before that or the one before that.

I feel, while I am there, as though I am as much a part of that world as the marshes and gnarled, wind-withered trees.

Yet now that I am back in the world I know, I wonder if I were ever there at all.

Will it remember me?

The sea, the sand, the wind, the beauty, the essence?

Will it long for me as I do for it?

I think not.

I am an outsider, a passerby, an intruder.

I am a stranger.

It doesn’t make it any less compelling or beautiful.

It simply makes me sad to know that there was nothing of myself I could leave behind to remind that place who I am so it will recognize me when I return.

 

Sunrise in an orange sky

Sunrise in an orange sky

Sun melting into the Sound

Sun melting into the Sound

Sunset fisherman

Sunset fisherman

Currituck light

Currituck light

Bridge at Whalehead, near Currituck light

Bridge at Whalehead, near Currituck light

Tears …

have their place.

For the most part, they are useless and do little more than induce a headache.  They can quickly escalate from simple tears to uncontrollable sobbing.

While sobbing uncontrollably  can be purging and purifying, it is one of those things that lands you in the back of a police car in the wee hours of the morning for a personal escort to the nuthouse.

I’m not guessing here, I’m telling it straight.

Tears sometimes come unbidden, unexpected and inexplicable.

No reason.

No provocation.

They come as they like because tears have that kind of power.

The power to overwhelm, discombobulate and wreak havok.   They lie and pretend and make merry of themselves without any indication to their derivation.

I have plenty of things I could, were I so inclined, to cry over, but I choose not to because crying doesn’t change anything.    And yet tonight, I find tears that I cannot define and have no understanding of running down my face.

I cry over many things, that is true, and sometimes, I cry just to be crying.  But I know when I’m crying that it is for a specific reason or, as is sometimes the case, just to be crying.

I am not, as I am tonight, stymied by the origin of the tears or their purpose.

So I came up with the only explanation I could think of …

these tears aren’t mine.

I don’t know who they belong to, but I am rejecting ownership.

I cry when I need to cry; when the wind is right, when the clouds are perfect, when lightning finds its way into the lens of my camera, when someone close to me is gone, when my friends are hurting, when I miss someone, when I realize that I am an idiot, when leaves change in Autumn, when I’m mad (mad tears being the ones that get everyone in trouble), when I’m happy … well, this could go on for days, so lets just say, I know when I cry even if I don’t know precisely why I cry.

I’m not the one crying.

Not this time.

These are not my tears, but because someone is crying them, I will endure them for their sake and hope that the morning brings them solace.

I like to imagine that I live in a world where the few people close to me  know me unconditionally.  I realize that while they  know me, they, in every likelihood, will never really understand me.

That is a constant that I have learned to live with over the years.

I can’t keep up with my own madness so how, pray tell, could anyone else.

There is no fault, no blame, no accusations.

Just the smack in the face of reality and reality, make no mistake, can pack a serious punch.

My drummer plays a tune that is out of sync with the real world.  That’s how it is and I live with it.

But … since these are not my tears, I simply say wth, wipe them away and move on.

Or try to.

They are persistent, these tears that are not my own.

I have a life to live, photographs to take, places to see, dreams to dream, music to learn, piano to play and I don’t have time to play emotional games with players that apparently, since they can sic their tears on me, outrank me by a considerable margin.

It would be more conducive to rational behavior were the tear-sharer to make themselves known to me.

If I sound nuts, then all is right with the world at this moment, because I am, even on a good day, teetering precariously on that fine line between reality and insanity.

I don’t deny that.

But dammit, I know when I’m crying tears that belong to me.

I am what you see, what you see is what you get, what you get is what you see and there aren’t any games.

So … somebody claim these damn tears and face your own demons because my schedule is already full.

my depiction of an eye ... a pencil sketch.

my depiction of an eye … a pencil sketch.

I got lost …

for a bit of a while.

Wandering aimlessly even though I knew full well the direction.

But I didn’t follow them.

The directions.

It happens to everyone at one time or another.

I left what I knew to be true and followed what I wanted to be true.

A path that can lead to nowhere in particular.

I have made it clear in previous posts that “religion” has very little to do with me.

Depending on what someone believes, their “religion” could be just about anything.

I love Jesus.

I do.

I fail to show it more often than I succeed, but it is true.

People fail.

It is in our nature to falter and to struggle.

We. Are. Not. Perfect.

But Jesus doesn’t expect perfection.

And that is a very good thing.

Otherwise, we would all be doomed to what we have done.

Don’t shake your head and say you haven’t done anything because trust me, you’ve done plenty.

If my past was the crux of my salvation, I would already be doomed.

I could tell you stories that would curl the hair on your head, and if your happen to be bald, it would sprout growth.

I deserved to have stones thrown at me.

I still do, every day, and yet, for some reason, Jesus loves me.

One day, He will dry the last tears I will ever cry.

That is a lovely line and I would like take credit for it, but it comes from a song from Casting Crowns called “The Wedding”.

It says a lot of things that mean something to me.

Why?

Because I know that any goodness I have, have had or will ever have comes from Jesus.

He made a choice to give His life for all of us.

God didn’t make him.

Jesus was, as we are, of free will.

He could have opted out and even prayed that the cup be taken from him.

He could have refused.

But He didn’t.

It should be enough to know that he could have and didn’t.

I judge myself daily, multiple times.  I don’t need others to judge me, but they do anyway.

All I really know is that He shows me incredible things through His creation.

I feel the wind on my face, the sun on my skin … see the lightning and hear the thunder.

I am amazed by who He is and what He has done.

I feel odd saying that He loves me, but He does.

I don’t know why and have stopped asking.

He just does.

Via Casting Crowns:  “There’s a stirring in the throne room” … “the last tears she’s will ever cry have been wiped away”.

Today is Easter.

The “Third Day”.

“Resurrection Day”.

I believe this just as I believe the birds sing, the sky is blue and the moon is beautiful.

He loves me even when I am unlovable, tainted, scarred, sinful, judgmental .

He finds me beautiful as He will find you.

I will share this day, not my photographs, which He has given me through the eyes of His spirit, but a song by the group Casting Crowns.

Know your worth in Christ.

He is beautiful and finds you to be the same.

Don’t be ashamed of who you were, be joyful in who you are.

We are His and He loves us even though we are not worthy.

A beautiful thing, that.

Psalms 139:14 ~ I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.

 

 

I had every intention …

of blogging about driving around today with the convertible top down, the music loud and the wind in my face; of blooming trees and budding flowers, puffy clouds in a blue, sun-drenched sky and the perfectness of a warm April day.

But I just hung up the phone after talking to my mom and the things I previously held up in importance faded into the background.

She is a rock, a beacon, a lighthouse, a safe haven.

She knows everything about me, the things that shamed me and, at one time or another, shamed her.

In my youth, I hurt her deeply and couldn’t find within myself the knowledge or ability to make it right.

She knows of my dreams and aspirations and is always the first one to encourage me even as she puts her own dreams and aspirations on hold.

It isn’t easy to explain to someone that thoughts, images, words, experiences, memories and a myriad of other flotsam runs through my head, in a constant stream, even when I’m sleeping.

And that is when I am at my baseline and not in manic mode.

She takes it in stride without judgement or condemnation and, I have come to realize, did so even when I felt I was being judged and condemned.

Nobody can condemn me any more than I condemn myself.  It is the nature of my world and I live with it.

She knows, though, simply by looking at my face or hearing my voice ,when I am in the throes of mania or, thankfully more rarely, the despondency of a depressive crash.

She understands that sometimes, I have to go away; from her, from myself, from everyone and just be dormant.

She knows these things and doesn’t hold them against me.

There is no “well, you did this or that or the other thing”.

She isn’t like that.

She is patient and kind.

She is, without doubt, the Proverbs 31 woman.

I would like to be like her, but that is an aspiration that will never come.  It isn’t that my cup is half empty, but that I live, as much as I can, in a reality-based existence.

She is a light in a dark place and I migrate to her when I need simply to know that someone loves me unconditionally.

I tell her I love her, but how do you describe to someone that  you cannot imagine a life without them.

Unless I die first by some freak event, by the natural order of things, I will lose her at some point in my life.

I cannot imagine a world without my mom.

So I will put that with other things I cannot imagine into a box that lives in the outer-regions of my heart.

When I am manic, the box will break open and I will have to face the possibility, but for now, when I am am simply on overdrive, it is secure in the  little locked box.

She inspires me with her acceptance and encouragement and that, without doubt or reservation, beats blooming trees in springtime seen from a back road drive with the convertible top down.

I love you, Mom .

A houseguest

 

My Mother's Mother's bleeding hearts

My Mother’s Mother’s bleeding hearts

 

This is how she makes me feel ... cherished

This is how she makes me feel … cherished

All of that being said about my mom, I want to extrapolate to another area and  extend prayers and encouragement to a friend that I have long lost touch with.  She lost her son, the light of her world and is now lying among the shattered pieces of her world.  Keep Pam Begley in your prayers when you pray.  I cannot fathom losing a child.

 

If I had a song to play …

I would play it now.

But I don’t.

Not because I don’t love music, the sound of it, the melody, the thought-provoking, beauteous sound that it makes.

No, none of those.

I don’t because I can’t play a note.

Not one.

I haven’t even mastered Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which most kindergartners can play on their I-Pads.

It is pathetic, in a profoundly sad kind of way, that I depend of others to give me my music fix.

Ok, let’s be specific.

My piano fix.

I love many kinds of music, but there is something about the piano that takes me to that other place.

I love hands, and that may be part of the obsession.

Hands can tell so much about a person.

Being a photographer, I spend a good deal of time photographing hands as each one has a story to tell.

IMGP6190 (2)

Some are gnarled and twisted with arthritis and yet still maintain the ability to button a jacket.

Some are destined to labor and become calloused and sore as they work, year after year after year.

Some are chosen to be used to create music, others, prose.

Some are used to touch the afflicted, without fear of contamination, and to comfort the comfortless.

Some are of no use at all, hanging silently and without guilt or guile at what they, were they so inclined, could accomplish.

Some are at the ready, pressing the shutter button to capture images that will take the present well into the future in images.

Some are folded, reverently, in prayer as they pray and give thanks for all manner of things.

Hands, more than any other feature, have a story to tell but, as hands, they are too humble to say so.

Look.  See.  Experience.

And know that simply by looking at someone’s hands, you have had a small glimpse into their soul.

handsPapaw’s hands

rideforjuvenilediabetes-22A Cyclist’s Hands

fishermanhandsA Fisherman’s Hands

littlehandsA baby’s hands

violinhandsA Cellist’s hands

clarinethandsA Clarinetist’s hands

bassoonhandA musician’s hands

 

Life is precious …

although sometimes, until it is compromised, we can forget that simple fact and take for granted that we will just wake up every morning.

We forget that no-one is promised another day, another hour, another minute.

I did.

Took it for granted, that is.

I set my alarm each night in a way that is likely odd to most.  I set it for 1:00 am, then hit the three hour snooze which takes me to 4:00 am, then hit the preset alarm for 5:15.  And when it goes off that last time, I spring up and begin my routine which is exactly the same every morning.

No deviation.

Ever.

This past Friday, I followed the same pattern.  I woke up, started the coffee, brushed my teeth, drank half my coffee and took the rest into a scalding hot shower for 20 minutes, started my car (it’s pitch dark here at that hour, so clothes are optional), fed the cat, dressed and went to work.

I arrived without incident, but while walking into the building, I passed out.

A friend I walk into work with most mornings was with me and kept me from busting my head on the concrete, for which I am grateful, and got me to the ER.

I was found to be profoundly anemic and the plans to administer a transfusion were quickly underway.

But in the meantime, life interfered.

My heart stopped.

I don’t recollect that as it was for less than two minutes before the adept ER staff had me back up and running, but it doesn’t change the fact that, for a period of 96 seconds, my heart did not beat.

I left that part out when I told my family about my transfusion because, well, I suppose I don’t have a good reason except that they would have made a big deal about it and worried unnecessarily about the whole thing.

I didn’t see any lights or hear voices nor did I venture into the afterlife.

I have no stories to tell or visions to embellish.

What I do know is that each moment, even the boring and insubstantial ones, carry some importance.

I could have simply slipped away.  That would have been ok as I know who I am, to whom I belong and where I well be when my time is up.

I’m thankful, however, that I have more time to love those who touch my heart, to offer encouragement and to continue to walk the path I have been given.

I am, yet again, blessed … and I am thankful.

Each moment unfolds when it is meant ...

Each moment unfolds when it is meant …