Springtime and Hoppiness

Springtime makes the world seem fresh and new.

It’s a time to recover from the hardship of winter.

So full of promise…

…and new life.

Now is when we truly celebrate the new year, clearing our closets of junk and old baggage, and planting something fresh and beautiful in the good earth.

Happy New Year, and Hoppy Easter, friends!


All images and words cNaomi Baltuck

A Few of My Favorite Things

Sixteen months ago, I wrote my first blog post.  Since then, I’ve met fascinating people, made many friends, and discovered a new form of storytelling.  I’m like the Tortoise, not the Hare–slow and steady. Finally, I get to post for the hundredth time!

Through this blog I share my passion for travel, photography, writing, storytelling, and that which I hold dearest, my family. But if not for you, this blog would not exist.  There is an Armenian folk saying…

Three apples fell from heaven.

One for the teller,

One for the listener,

And one for the one who took it to heart.

Thank you for being here, for reading, for caring enough to follow this blog, and for sharing your thoughts, your stories, your lives with me through your blogs.  To mark this milestone, here are a few of my favorite posts from the past sixteen months.

Sunday Post:  Doors

Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward Movement

Oceans (and the Irish Coastline)

Sunrise in Gibraltar

Flowers (are like people)

One Village

Weekly Photo Challenge: Create

To Shorten the Road

Reflections (On Life and the Art of Aging)

Where Are We?  Where’s Walter?  And Where is That Fleeting Moment?

Editing Monet’s Garden

All words and images c2013 Naomi Baltuck

Prepare to Be Boarded

Recently my daughter Bea declared her major at Stanford: Privateering.


Her friends Ben and Michael signed on as awkward incompetent first mate and shoulder parrot.  So my sister Constance and I decided to try our luck as chief cook and bottle washer, and cabin boy.

Bea was flying home for spring break. We went to meet her at Sea-Tac airport.  We picked up a cart, to carry our booty.

Not only did Bea immediately don the captain’s hat and coat we brought along, just in case Cap’n Bea was traveling incognito….

 

…but from out of her pack she pulled out her very cool pirate goggles to top off the outfit.

 

The next best thing to a contract signed in blood, we press-ganged an innocent bystander to photo-document the deal.

 

I have proven once again that it is impossible to embarrass Beatrice.


But we can just keep trying.

Unless otherwise stated, all images and words cNaomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Hats.

Click here for more interpretations of Cee’s Odd Ball Challenge: Week 9!

Warning: Mature Subject Matter

I have two sisters with very different attitudes towards aging.  One plucked out every gray hair as it came in, until finally she realized she’d have to dye it or go bald.  The other said, “I earned every one of those!”  And she wears them proudly.

When I went out for fish ‘n’ chips with my friends Pat and Sharon, I was a little shocked when the guy behind the counter offered me the senior citizen discount.  No mistake!  I qualified for the 55 and older 10% discount!

Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve been carded.  Worse than that, the guy took my word for it!

Mom once told me she was riding the escalator at Hudson’s department store in downtown Detroit.  She saw her mother riding down the other side and waved before she realized she was looking at a giant mirror, and was waving at her own reflection.  She said it was always a surprise to look in the mirror and see an old woman, when inside she still felt like twenty-five.

But my mom was always young at heart, brave and adventurous.  When suddenly widowed with seven young children, she packed us into a VW van and drove us up 1200 miles of gravel road on the Alcan Highway through the Yukon to Alaska.

She had an open heart and an open mind.  She never stopped learning, she traveled at every opportunity, and never took herself too seriously.  She set herself challenges, read everything she could get her hands on, learned new pieces on the piano, played Trivial Pursuit.  At fifty, she memorized The Iliad, in Greek!  It all kept her young.

My mom, when she was terminally ill.

We have choices.  I’ve heard it said that life expands or contracts in direct proportion to one’s courage.  We can live in fear of old age, and watch our world shrink.  Or we can find new ways to savor it.   I know someone who resumed smoking cigars and eating sausage at eighty.  I’m not judging him.  Well, yes, I am.  I think it’s great.  I want to grow old, you know, wearing purple and enjoying my Good ‘n’ Plenties.  When my knees go, I’ll find other ways to travel.  When I can no longer walk, I won’t be an armchair traveler.  Like my Aunt Loena, I’ll be a wheelchair traveler.  The world is full of stories, and I want to hear and tell them all.

All photos and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Inevitable.

Flying High

Last week my son Eli and I got into the car and drove down to Sea-Tac airport.

It was a beautiful day.  We saw honest-to-goodness sunshine for the first time in a long time.  I was glad I remembered to bring my camera.  Turning onto Main Street, we saw the Olympics in all their glory.

Eli and I have a very simple system for sharing the camera. If I’m driving, it’s “Eli, quick, take a picture of that.  Without the power lines, if you can!”  Sometimes he gets excited, and says, “Ooh, Mom, can I have the camera?”   South of downtown Seattle, we rounded a bend, and gasped at the magnificence of Mt. Rainier, looming over the city like a great white ghost.  “Quick, Eli, take a picture!”

He got a good one.  Only this time, I asked him to take another, with the carpool sign in it.  At the time I wasn’t sure why, but I realize now it’s because I wanted to remember being together in our little family carpool, sharing that moment in our beautiful home town.
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Everything seemed so natural, and ordinary. Except this time, we parked at the airport, checked his bag, and grabbed a cuppa joe and a goodbye kiss, before he boarded an airplane to Argentina as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant.

While inching his way through the maze toward the security gate, we waved and smiled at each other each time he passed by.  He reminded me of a kid waiting in line to go on the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland.  Only this was the real thing.  My son put on his shoes, grabbed his backpack and ukelele, and gave me one final salute before hurrying off to his gate. Then I went to the parking garage, got into my car, and blubbered.

I’m so proud of my son.  He’s courageous and adventurous.  He’s doing what all our baby birdies are supposed to do.  We hatch them, and nurture them….

They test their wings…

 

…and then they fly.  That’s their job.

My  job is to miss them, and worry, and love them wherever they are, and to get on with my life.  I had shows to rehearse for, a manuscript to finish, out-of-town company coming to visit.

It seemed impossible that I should be arriving back home while Eli’s plane still sat on the tarmac waiting for take-off.  I swung by the water, and saw that the sun was still shining.  Cars and people were still coming and going.

Ferry boats too.

On the way up the hill to our house I passed another familiar sight.  I’d always appreciated the simple beauty of this little wooden structure, vaguely wondering who had built it on such thickly forested unoccupied land–and why.  That day I perceived it as a work of art, an invitation, a gateway to adventure, to the unknown, to the future.  And  I stopped to take a picture for Eli.

Click here to read Elaiya Blogea, Elijah’s very funny, very interesting blog about a year in Salta.

All images and words c2013 Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Transport.

When We Come to It

So many  bridges.

Bridges of concrete…

…iron…

…and steel.

Ancient ones of stone…

…brick…

…mortar….

…and wood.

 

Some are famous…

…celebrated in story…

…and song.

Some draw pilgrims from all over the world.

So different…


…yet they serve the same purpose.

To span distance…

…to connect…

 

…to deliver us from troubled waters.

There’s an old saying…it is better to build bridges than walls.

Click here for more interpretations of Nancy Merrill’s Photo a Week: Bridges.

Click here for more interpretations of Jake’s Sunday Post: Bridges.

Click here for more interpretations of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Bridges.

Click here for more interpretations of Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Theme: Bridges.

All images and words c2013 Naomi Baltuck