Five Photos/Five Stories Part 4 – Loving Our Pets, the Weekly Photo Challenge: Today Was a Good Day, and one Not-So-Good Day

When walking in Piedmont Park, we  find lots of folks loving their pets.

Piedmont Park July 2014

Poodles in Piedmont Park!

Piedmont Park - Mar 3

A day in early spring: “Sunday in the Park with Sam”

A cat on a leash, a dog in a back pack, a friendly pot-bellied pig, who knows what you’ll find?  Here’s a round-up of pets in the Park. And by the way, Hooray for National Dog Day today.

Dog backpack in the Park

Thoughtful pet owners give their friend a rest on the way home.

Pepper the Pig - in Piedmont Park

Pepper the Pig – Dog meets Pig, Pig meets World, in Piedmont Dog Park

Confrontation - Cat and Dogs in the Piedmont Park

Cat on a leash – we asked: it was her first walk in the park (no pets were harmed in this confrontation).

This cat enjoys a walk in her Kitty Walker.

This cat enjoys an outing in her Kitty Walker.

Happy painted critters

Some 2D critters watch over the park.

Now, the not-so-good day: This post is dedicated to KoKo, Sam’s pet and friend of 16 years. We said goodbye to KoKo one week ago today.


In Memoriam: Rest in Peace beautiful KoKo.

Five Photos the rules are: “Post a photo each day for five consecutive days and attach a story to the photo. The stories can be fiction or non-fiction, a poem or a short paragraph, with each day including a nomination to challenge another blogger. I don’t have a pass-along today, but will try to catch up next post. Thanks once more to Jean at Social Bridge for nominating me for this blogging challenge.

Now back to the good days — do you take your pet to a Park?

More on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Today was a Good Day


Writers, Typewriters, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbol

What’s still a potent symbol for writers, even years (make that decades) after falling out of use?

L.C. Smith Typewriter - keyboard detail

Typewriters of course. And to carry it one step further, typewriter keys carry the symbols that make up our language. This is the vintage 1940s L.C. Smith typewriter my mother learned to type with.

Placing it on the newspaper for a photo op felt symbolic too…

1940s L.C. Smith Typewriter

Note that this typewriter is “super speed” — I don’t know how the space-bar got broken. Maybe someone was typing too fast…?

Here’s Jr-High me with the typewriter, supervised by Pete the Parakeet. Hipsters take note; my glasses might be back in style soon.  And, that space bar was just fine back then — I swear.

I learn to type on the L.C. Smith

This picture surfaced a couple of weeks ago, and deftly illustrates one of the dangers of finding old photos — they expose the dorkiness factor.

Another find when unpacking boxes, an antique green Oliver No. 9 Standard “Printype” —

Olivetti typewriter, Standard No. 9

From this angle it resembles a butterfly.

The keys are loops that come down toward the center from either side. I’m fascinated by the FIG key. I’m not sure, but I think it’s like a CAP key for the top row. I like the slightly offset  G* key too. It’s from 1912, folks, at 103 years old it’s OK to be a little out of line.

The Oliver was one of my first ever thrift store finds, and yes, I should have known better. At the time, I thought I’d have it cleaned and restored, but then computers came along and I never looked back.

Just one more  — this view of my father’s old Remington portable looks like it’s smiling despite its decrepit ribbon.  I never saw him use it. I was in love with its pop-up keys (they fold down so it can fit in its case). I thought I was rescuing it from the dust of his service station, but I didn’t get around to restoring it either.

Vintage Remington portable typewriter - detail

Now, what shall I do with my typewriter collection?

For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge: Symbol

A Blog Hop, and the Weekly Photo Challenge: Room

I still have the basement-blues after recent water woes. So before launching into my Blog-Hop news, I’ll share a photo of an upstairs room: as far from the basement as I can get!  This room used to be one of Bob’s store rooms. My goal in painting and decorating it was to use things I already have. Some things are from family, and some are flea-market finds from past years that I had packed away.

Spare bedroom with a quilt as a wall hanging.

A cleaned-up spare bedroom with a vintage quilt as a wall hanging.

Now for the Blog-Hop news. Thank you to Pip Marks at Sustainability Soapbox for tagging me in a blog hop in which I’m asked to answer four questions about writing. Pip’s carefully researched posts fill us in on social and environmental issues. Her topics always pique my interest, and, being on the opposite side of the world from me, bring up issues and topics I would never have known about, like … “Using Wombats to Promote Your Blog” for example.

Here are my answers to the four “why we write” questions.

  • What am I working on/writing?

I’m working up some additional chapters for my memoir about coping with grief after Bob’s death.  An editor at a recent writing conference gave me a positive critique on my work, but also told me it was too short.

  • Why do I write what I do?

Bob, my late partner, weathered two cancer diagnoses and many treatments, ultimately losing his life to a complication after he was cancer free.  Losing people we love is a searing and unforgettable experience that we all have to face sometime.  The more we can share our experiences, the greater the possibility for comfort and connection.

  • How does my work/writing differ from others of its genre?
Memoir about grief isn’t usually funny, but he was such an entertaining and eccentric person that it’s impossible to write about knowing him without a big dose of humor.
  • How does my writing process work?
I’m writing memoir, so I’m mining my experiences clearing out this house full of Bob’s stuff. OK, my stuff too. As one good example… there’s that basement I’m always complaining about. Having a leak in my grimy basement full of boxes may be horrible, but I’ll bet it’ll be entertaining before I’m through. Now all I need is a photo of me in my hazmat suit setting out to clean it up.


Hopping forward.  I’m pleased to tag the following bloggers as the next participants —


Sheila, at A Steward’s Heart writes about simple living and a missionary life in Italy. Be sure to check out those header photos on her blog — they’re views from her home.


Next is Christine at Red Pin Adventures. The red pins are points on the map, the places that she and her family live, and the points they travel to. After writing from her recent digs in Norway, this expat adventurer is moving again.


I look forward to reading their Blog Hop posts in the next few weeks. Please check back to see what they have to say.


Now, one last thing about that photo challenge.  If you can stand it… here’s a “before” shot of that room.
Spare Room "Before".

Spare room “before” —  when it was a storage room.

How’d I do?



And, P.S. apologies to anyone who noticed that I accidentally hit “publish” before I finished this post… I un-pubbed asap, but I’m not sure what happens with email format.  —   Sandy


Weekly Photo Challenge: Family (Photo albums, Copenhagen, and Hoarding Memories)

Bob’s father was the ultimate memory-hoarder. When Bob worked for the airlines, they took at least one international trip together each year as long as his dad was able to travel. I knew in the back of my mind that Copenhagen was a favorite, but that trip happened before I knew Bob very well. Bob always said he wanted to go back, but with going to new places, and then later spending time on health needs and hospitals, it was a trip we didn’t get to take.

After Sam and I came home from our own Copenhagen trip last October, I had a slap-upside-the-head moment, and remembered Bob’s father’s photo albums. Now I’ve got them out, and marvel at the detail: neatly organized prints, typed captions, and a three page trip journal. Does memory-hoarding get better than this?

Copenhagen street corner fountain

Copenhagen street corner fountain, July 1982

Trip Journal, Copenhagen

Trip Journal, Copenhagen

Bob's father with the Little Mermaid; Bob in the blue shirt, lower right.

Tourist’s Copenhagen — Bob’s father with the Little Mermaid, and that’s Bob in the blue shirt, lower right.

It gives me a jolt to see these photos from 30 (30? yes 30!) years ago and know that we so lately walked some of the same paths.

The trip journal doesn’t give me any details about where they stayed. I know they went with three friends, stayed in an apartment, and when the apartment’s owners came home from vacation, they all spent time touring together.

It dawned on me that Bob had a framed print that might be related, so I found it and pulled it out for a look. The names in the captions are the same as the people they stayed with, though the date is an earlier year. I don’t know if they’re connected, or if so, how their connection came about, and there’s no one to tell me now. This will have to remain one more mystery.

"København's International Settlement"

“København’s International Settlement”

Detail: "Københavns International Settlement" with captions

Detail: “Københavns International Settlement” with captions

Speaking of connections, I realize now that this explains the set of Royal Copenhagen dishes that Bob took such care of (but didn’t use), why he had the teak bookcases, the lounge chair and ottoman from the House of Denmark furniture store (all of which sit in my living room today), the Bing and Grøndahl Christmas plates he gave his mother each year, his favorite beret and navy wool sweater, and oh yes, that bottle of Aalborg aquavit that I found on a shelf the basement. This was a trip he cherished, and I’m sorry he didn’t get to go back one more time.

Color prints are not archival, and like all memories, these photos are starting to fade. I’ll scan some more now, and pass the album forward to the next generation of family while it’s still colorful.

What’s your favorite way of hoarding memories?

Copenhagen album: one more look

Copenhagen album: one more look

Thank you WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge for choosing the topic Family and reminding me to honor Bob’s father by sharing his album.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Window (Part 2, mostly shop windows)

I saw this window full of red lingerie in Copenhagen and immediately thought of Battlestar Galactica…. what, wasn’t that your first thought too?   Six, the slinky Cylon often found in a skimpy red dress and red spike heels, might enjoy shopping here. (WW6D?)  I thought the disembodied red leg in the middle of the window was a nice touch.

Something for Battlestar Galactica's Six to wear.

Something for Six to wear. Fellow BSG fans: could a shop like this have saved Caprica?

Copenhagen SMK: In museums, I’m always on the lookout for people who match the art.

People matching art, Copenhagen SMK, National Gallery of Denmark

Copenhagen SMK, National Gallery of Denmark

Still in Copenhagen, window shopping again: Sam noticed the pooch on the desk before I did. It’s views like this that make window shopping so much fun. You can see me in this picture too — see the reflection of my point-and-shoot camera and the blue shoulder of my jacket?

Inside the lighting store: a helper on the desk.

Inside the lighting store: a helper on the desk.

Through the same window:  Lamps.  See why I didn’t notice the dog at first? I was busy gawking at these.

Lamps: cute in Copenhagen.

Lamps: cute in Copenhagen. Now if only they’d had a chicken.

Vintage shoes in Reykjavik:  Shoes again. What is my problem?

Reykjavik vintage shoes.

Reykjavik vintage shoes. And they’re red! (Six could wear these too)

Red shoes at the Atlanta Botanical Garden: Wait, how did this photo get in? … oh, there’s the top of the greenhouse that’s sort of a window, and of course, there’s me getting carried away with the shoes.

"Orchid Daze" 2013, Atlanta Botanical Garden.

“Orchid Daze” 2013, Surrealist fun at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

And one more: Shoes in a shop window, New York, January 2013. A little something to deter muggers? What do you think — kicky or kinky?

NYC shoes: dressing for self-defense?

NYC shoes: dressing for self-defense?

I couldn’t resist adding this second Windows post, or rather, this “Son of WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows” post.

How about you — do you have a favorite place for window shopping?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows

Here’s hoping that a photo challenge post isn’t too far off-topic for a hoarder — after all, I’ve been hoarding photographs for years. I have cabinets full of prints and slides, and now that photographs are digital, it’s even easier to hoard them.

This post is for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge subject “Windows.” Well, actually it’s “Window” but  I got carried away Now pick a preposition, and let’s look at, over, under, in, down and out of windows.

Looking At: This display case window is at an exhibition in the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York City, January 2013.

Ambiguity of reflection in a MAD museum exhibition display case.

Ambiguity of reflection in a MAD museum exhibition display case.

Looking Over: I took this next one at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). I was standing on the open walkway looking over the lower display area when my eyes were drawn to the silhouettes of people on the windowed staircase opposite. The angles in this pose caught my eye.

MOMA staircase, New York 2013

MOMA staircase, New York 2013

Looking Under: (or is that looking through?) I took the following photo at the Victoria and Albert museum in London, October 2012. The large display case protects the carpet inside; the mirror above reflects it, and from this angle reflects the surroundings as well.

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, October 2012

Victoria and Albert Museum, London, October 2012

Looking In: Still in London — why do I always window-shop the shoes when traveling? I wouldn’t (couldn’t) wear these, but I had to have a picture.

Shoes in a window near Covent Garden: what would I wear them with?

Shoes in a window near Covent Garden: what would I wear them with?

Looking Down: Closer to home– here’s a screenshot from a mini-movie I took at the Peachtree Plaza’s Sun Dial restaurant.

Looking down at the revolving dining area, Sun Dial, Peachtree Plaza

Looking down at the revolving dining area, Sun Dial, Peachtree Plaza

Looking Out: Back home again, a moth takes a rest outside my screened porch. I love the feathery antennae, and regret it was too high up for me to see from outside.

A visitor to my back porch. Is it a polyphemous moth?

A visitor to my back porch. Is it a polyphemous moth?

Is anybody out there a John Irving fan? If so, you may remember the catchphrase the characters from The Hotel New Hampshire repeat to each other “Keep passing the open windows.” In other words, keep working, persevere, pass those windows and don’t be tempted to jump. I used to use that as a tagline at the end of my emails. All this talk about windows just reminded me.

Back to work now. I’ll keep passing the open windows and persevere on the task at hand. How about you?

Related articles:

One more time, here’s the WordPress link:

Best Holiday gift: a blogging award!

Happy Holidays and a much appreciated blogging award —

Thank you to One Girl One Suitcase for a Sisterhood of the World Blogger’s Award nomination. I love reading about her travels, and learning new things (my favorite: seeing her photos of Art Nouveau buildings in Riga, see it here). And read her post on setting goals for the New Year here:


Now I get to pass along the Blogger Award with new nominations — first, here are the Rules for new nominees:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.

2. Link back to the person who nominated you.

3. Pass on the award to other bloggers and link to them.

4. Let those bloggers know you’ve nominated them.

5. Answer the following questions  (here are my answers)

Your favorite color: It’s hard to pick just one (but I’m partial to hyacinth blue).
Your favorite animal:  Kitties!

Sam's KoKo, between snoozes.

Sam’s KoKo, between snoozes.

Your favorite non-alcoholic drink: root beer, no wait: coffee, no wait: spice tea… all of the aforementioned.
Facebook or Twitter: Facebook– my long-ago hometown has a community page.
Your favorite pattern:  A medieval sward of “nature nurturing” — Unicorn tapestries anyone?

Unicorn Tapestry Photo from "Web Gallery of Art" image collection.

Photo from “Web Gallery of Art” image collection.

Do you prefer getting or giving presents:  Giving. I have way too much stuff.
Your favorite number:  I have so many, all of them prime.
Your favorite day of the week: Friday, for its promise.
Your favorite flower:  For January, hyacinths.

Just started my January hyacinths, here they are with 3 days of root growth.

Three days of root growth on my January hyacinths.

What is your passion? :  Writing, visual arts, travel.
My Nominations:

The Acceptable Sin: Connie’s blog is centered on health-related issues, and keeps us mindful in an entertaining way. Among her other hats are children’s writer, reader, puppeteer, and cowgirl.

Pipmarks: her posts on “Environmental and Social sustainability in a brave new Internet World” are always thoughtful, yet presented with a twist of humor. I love it that she’s in Australia and I’m in the US: I can read her blog and see what’s happening tomorrow.

Treading My Own Path, another blogger from Australia, writes about a sustainable lifestyle and inspires me to work toward being plastic free. She’s just home from a trip, truly a Sister of the World.

Paula B Puckett’s “Random Thoughts from the Creative Path”: She’s an artist, a writer, and a craftswoman. With a nod to Richard Brautigan, I’ll say that Paula’s blog is “all watched over by alpacas of loving grace.”

Happy New Blogging Year to everyone —


All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace:

Blog-Tag: Focus on Writing

Today I’m taking a quick break from adventures in downsizing.  I’ve been tagged in a blog-hop post, with the assignment of answering at least four of nine questions about my writing.

This blog-tag assignment came to me from my friend Joan, whose Book Log keeps me reading and whose encouragement keeps me writing. She’s an avid reader, writer, past writing instructor, and was the original Regional Advisor for our area of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

I’ve been so intent on working on that aforementioned downsizing that I’m a little late in responding to the tag — late, but sincere. Here goes:

1. What are you working on right now?

I’m polishing a book proposal for my memoir about coping with grief after my partner’s death.

2. How does it differ from other works in its genre?

It ‘s a memoir about grief, but also about love, eccentricity, hoarding, and sometimes humor, centering not just on survivor’s guilt but on the impact of inheriting a hoarder’s collections, the messages I’ve found among them, and what I’ve learned by sorting through his things.

Retire: a sticky note I found in one of Bob's slippers. I took it as a message.

When I was worrying about whether it was time for me to retire, I happened upon a pair of Bob’s old slippers. Tucked inside one was this sticky note. I took it as a message and I followed his advice.

One of my earliest donations: canned goods.

This is the background photo on this blog, a record of an early donation of canned goods (the first of many). Working through Bob’s things, I began with food he’d stockpiled. It had an expiration date so it had to go soon, and I thought it was less personal, therefore easier. I was wrong about that — nothing was easy.

3. What experiences have influenced you?

I was Bob’s health care proxy. Still, I never dreamed the time would come when I’d be asked to sign the papers to take him off life support. I followed his directive, but I still viewed it as a choice. I felt the weight of that decision for years.

Bob on a Balcony in Crete 1983

Here’s Bob on a balcony, from a long ago trip to Crete. I’ve forgotten now which town we were in when I took this photo. He looks content, doesn’t he?

4. Why do you write what you do?

Bob when he looked like Father Time

Fast forward twenty years or so…

After Bob’s death I put away ongoing projects in children’s fiction to work on memoir. Going through Bob’s things put me on an emotional roller coaster. Even though I have in most ways “moved on”, it’s a task I’ve yet to finish, and writing about it is cathartic.

5. How does your writing process work?

I carve out writing time from the hours I have to spend on other necessary activities. It really ought to be the other way around — write first then do the other things — but I must do it this way if I ever want to get out of this house. It’s always hard to get ahead.

6. What is the hardest part about writing?

Like painting, putting that first stroke on a blank page can be both inspiring and intimidating. It’s difficult to live up to the early promise.

7. What would you like to try as a writer that you haven’t yet?

My education is in art. I want to write about artists, and I’m keeping notes for ideas on non-fiction for middle-grade readers. I have a bad habit of starting too many things at once. That’s how I manage to get nothing finished.

8. Who are the authors you most admire?

Playwright:  Tom Stoppard, hands down.  Arcadia hits all the right notes for me. I’ve seen it three times and would go again in a heartbeat.

In memoir: among my recent reads, Gail Caldwell for Let’s Take the Long Way Home and Ann Patchett for Truth and Beauty: A Friendship.

In children’s literature there are too many. I’ll have to be content with naming a few:  there’s long time favorite Philip Pullman for His Dark Materials, Rebecca Stead for When You Reach Me,  Ruta Sepetys for Between Shades of Gray, anybody who writes a good time-travel anomaly, and all my critique group friends, published and pre-published (you know who you are).

In Sci-fi: Larry Niven, for Ringworld, Protector, and The Mote in God’s Eye… that is, until he didn’t show up for his session at Dragon Con this year (this disgruntled fan is still wondering about that).

9. What scares you?

Losing what I value most in life.

Bob was a Mensa member, a math whiz, and a computer guru. He even had some of that ditsy lack of practical day-to-day knowledge that reminds me of the story about Einstein carrying his home address on a note in his pocket so he wouldn’t forget it.  I thought Bob was the smartest man I’d ever met. At the end of his life, complications from a medical procedure left him without oxygen too long for recovery. He lost that most valued attribute: his mind.


Now that it’s my turn to tag, I’m passing the blog-baton to the following three writers:

Moody Views (Rants, Raves, and Kidlit Bits)– I was introduced to Stephanie’s blog recently when she did interviews  with YA author Matt de la Pena and picture book author Sarah Frances Hardy, both of whom will be speaking at an upcoming SCBWI conference. I heard Stephanie in person when she gave a memorable introduction to the keynote speaker at the SCBWI fall conference in Birmingham Alabama.  With her background in journalism and public relations, she’s equally adept at speaking, writing, and interviewing.

Solarblessed – She amazes me because, with her pioneer spirit, it seems there’s nothing she can’t do. Writing, painting, gardening, building, planning, she’s a can-do woman. (All that and she raises chickens too!) See her blog for tips on living off the grid, and for links to her books Unplugged and Unplug From the Grid, as well as her YA fiction.

The Forget-Me-Not Cultivation Blog – When I worked for the airlines it didn’t take many vacation days to lure me to travel to the UK. I went as often as I could, and in some fantasy future life, I’d love to live there. Reading about Sophie’s garden adventures and seeing her photos gives me a glimpse of what seems to me to be an ideal life. She mentioned “na-no-wri-mo” lately, so if I tag her, maybe she’ll tell us what she’s writing about when she’s not blogging.