Anne Notations

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanks, a lot

These guys (above) are what I'm most thankful for. We had our first small Thanksgiving Day in many years when my brother-in-law's family was unable to host the clan for dinner yesterday. While the disruption of the annual get-together was disappointing, especially for the kids, there was a simple joy in just hanging out here as a family.

Having Melinda home from Syracuse for four days was the whipped cream on the apple pie, as it were. The household has sparkled to life with her upbeat spirit, and she's had friends stopping by – my other daughters, I call them – to increase the fizz quotient.

Hope you all found something to enjoy yesterday, whether it was close friends, beloved relatives, or an especially tasty turkey.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Take it with you

Experience or record? Absorb or capture? I'm often torn.

Since age 10 I've been involved one way or another in reporting for print and Web. The impulse to save an event or a moment in writing and pictures runs strong in my psyche.

Gorgeous sunset developing? Quick, run inside for the camera. (It has become a family joke.) My impulse to capture each and every one of the amazing sky-shows last fall became a habit – and the genesis for my photo blog, Splendor in the Sky.

Alternatively: How about I just watch the sunset? Ouch. It goes against my nature.

Thus, I simply had to run down to the beach this evening in a -10F windchill to get some shots like the one above. (Note that you may click on any photograph here and see it larger and in more detail.)

Is a sight or an experience more valuable for being recorded? Of course not. It's good to maintain a healthy balance between simply experiencing and capturing. But an image captured is an image you can go back to and enjoy. Why else would we all cherish family photo albums and home movies?

This fall brought some beautiful foliage to Providence, where I work. One day a few weeks ago I brought my camera with me and spent my lunch hour wandering around Thayer Street, Charlesfield Street, and the courtyard garden behind my building on the Brown campus. These are places I walk every working day, and I always enjoy what I see. But finally, simply looking and absorbing wasn't enough. I had to capture the sights digitally. As always, I am most happy when I can share them with my friends.

This vivid red sugar maple was planted several years ago in front of the Watson Institute for International Studies. It's one of a row of sibling trees that march down the sidewalk on Thayer Street. (see below)

The sugar maples contrasted vividly with the green leaves of a taller elm that hadn't yet changed color.

Look down, underneath the red maples, and there is a piquant arrangement of leaves on cobblestones.

Just around the corner on Charlesfield Street, the bricks and windows of a student dormitory and its surrounding iron fence form another interesting grid.

Behind my office building, the leaves of this enormous tree are a crimson canopy overhead.

The soaring trunks are impressive.

In the past few weeks, all the trees shown here have dropped their leaves and now stand bare. This is what drives me to photograph and describe what I see: the ephemeral quality of nature … of life. I want to hang on to every beautiful thing, hold it close, and never let go.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Can’t help myself

Still marveling here, still left breathless by history.

A friend said she has hope, now, that dignity may be restored to the White House after too many embarrassing years. Maureen Dowd agrees in her lyrical New York Times column today.

Kevin reported that at school yesterday, every class was devoted to discussion of the election result.

Melinda and thousands of her fellow ’Cuse students ran onto the Quad after the two speeches and celebrated long into the night.

If you go to YouTube and type "Obama celebration" into the search window, you will find some amazing footage of spontaneous joy erupting all over the United States. Check the one in Portland, Oregon, where near the end a huge crowd in the streets burst into the "Star Spangled Banner" in unison.

Taken in the aggregate, these scenes resemble a nation's jubilant liberation from an oppressive occupying enemy force. I know that's not true; as much as I deplore much of what Bush's administration did and decry the cruel Darwinism of his cronies, I won't label them evil.

But, just look at us Americans. We're in a recession, we're at war, the unemployment rate is still going up, houses stand empty after foreclosure … and still we join hands in relief and amazement at what this country can, after all, dream and achieve.

These photos and some other stunning ones are on a Boston Globe site. Some verge on the cloyingly iconic, but I'm not complaining. I'm pretty sure we all know that our president-elect is a man, not a god; that he will make some mistakes; that healing our country will take time, hard work, and sacrifice by all. That's nowhere near reason enough to rain on our parade.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The color of power

My rock idol Jack White (above) chose the White Stripes’ color scheme because, he believes, red and black is the most powerful color combination.

So, yeah. I was pretty excited to see this family on stage last night:

Tonight (for Martin)

Tonight is yours, Dr. King.
That dream you shared two score and five years ago?
– It's closer than you could know.

Our nation rose and lived its creed:
All are created equal.

Descendants of slaves and of slave owners
sat together, and from a mountain of despair
hewed a stone of hope.

We judged character, not skin;
beheld a leader, voted him in.

The jangling discords of our nation
fall – perhaps not silent,
but chastened in the face of change.

From coast to coast let freedom ring.
With you, sage saint of civil rights, we sing:
Thank God almighty. Praises be. Amen.

And now, with hope-filled hearts, we greet Today.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Walk, run, rock, roll... just do it

Tomorrow. November 4. You know what to do. Listen up to Natalie, aka Senator Amidala.

Get up offa that thing and dance your way to the polls. I'll be the one doing the hully-gully.

Great pumpkin

The only downside to our Syracuse trip this past weekend was missing Halloween at home on Friday. And that meant missing our granddaughter Caroline, who dressed up as a pumpkin.

Scary? Ummm, not so much. More like adorable.

Mom Leslie reported that our little extrovert, who will turn three at the end of this month, loved her evening tour of their neighborhood and boldly knocked on doors and/or rang doorbells in search of loot.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Among the things we learned at the Syracuse University Family Weekend, just ended:

• Nobody calls it Syracuse! It's "S.U." or "’Cuse." (So quoth our daughter.)

• Everything is orange and blue at S.U. Everything. Even construction equipment.

• A pregame performance by the Orange drumline and marching band on the Quad is downright goose-bumpy. Ever see "Drumline," the 2002 Nick Cannon movie? If so, you know what I mean. If not, look here for a taste of what we saw Saturday afternoon in front of Hendrick Chapel. The guy with dreads playing the snare and smiling his heart out was everyone's favorite.

Click photos to better appreciate the scenery.

• Even after much of the fall color is past, the campus remains very pretty.

• The newly completed sciences building and its attractive atrium (above) are cool places to contemplate light, shadow, and architectural form.

• The daughter is very happy to be at ’Cuse, where she has so many friends her phone buzzes with text messages nearly every minute. Above, Valentine (from France), Julie, and Melinda at the Schine Student Center.

• Last and best: In spite of the independent veneer proudly worn by college freshmen, they not only appear to appreciate a big parental bear-hug, they will even reciprocate. More than once! And that makes their parents very happy indeed.