Fifty Shades of Yellow

Purple is my favorite color, and it always has been.  But I love yellow for its cheerfulness.

It’s my daughter Bea’s favorite color.

And she wears it well, don’t you think?

She isn’t the only one.

Whether yellow comes as a tasteful accent…

…a warm background…

…a pleasing bit of contrast…

…or a big splash of color…

…Ma Nature wears it well too.

…and so do her children.

We’ve borrowed this sunny hue from nature to brighten our homes on the outside…

…and on the inside too.

It shines a cheerful light through the darkness…

…and lifts our spirits.

It warms us from the inside out.

Yellow comes in many eye-catching colors and goes by many names…goldenrod, schoolbus, taxicab yellow…

Maize, saffron, lemon…mmm, yellow never smelled so good.

 Yellow means different things to different people.  Does this signal mean approach slowly?  Or go very very fast?

It might depend on whether you’re coming…

 

…or going.

Is it animal, vegetable, or mineral?

Never mind.   That’s neither here nor there.

Want to dance?

All images and words copyright 2014 Naomi Baltuck

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

The Object of My Affection

It will be thirty-one years next month since Thom and I sent out this wedding invitation.

(designed by my sister Constance, poem by Langdon Smith).

In his wedding vows Thom borrowed this passage from Robert Browning, “Grow old along with me!  The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made.”   I thought they were sweet words, but I was slender and pretty, with my whole life ahead of me; I could hardly imagine growing old, let alone growing old in concert.   Now I understand their import, and cannot believe my good fortune in having found such a wise old soul in such a young man.

Thom gave me the world.   With him I made my very first trip overseas, back in 1987.  We spent five weeks exploring Britain and Ireland.

We loved traveling so much we went back to Europe the next year.  That was to be the trip of a lifetime, so we hit all the must-sees:  Rome, Florence, Venice,  Paris, The Swiss Alps, Munich, Vienna, Madrid, Barcelona.

But instead of the trip of a lifetime, it became a way of life.

Travel is still a vital part of our life journey together.  I now see myself as a global citizen.  I wonder at the similarities between cultures, and celebrate the diversity.

We have shared this gift with our children.  We took them back to all the hotspots of Europe.  But the kids were good travelers and, with their encouragement, Thom and I have gotten more adventurous.  We have taken them to the Australian Outback, the Amazon, and Turkey.


I’m not surprised that both kids have grown up to be writers, storytellers, artists, and travelers, who are bilingual and trilingual.

Should I ever question my choice in a mate, I need only look at my children.  Through their eyes I see a better world, and am a deeper participant in life.

Dear Thom…

…You have always been and will always be the object of my deepest affection.

All words and images copyright 2014 Naomi Baltuck.

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Object

You Can’t Change That

Like a brilliant sunset, it’s here and then gone.

As fleet as a bird on the wing…

Passing as unnoticed as the morning dew…

…even as it goes speeding down the track of no return.

From here.

To here.

Like a river, it flows, with its twists and turns, its highs and lows.

But mostly highs.

But it’s just as they say.

 Time…

…and tides wait for no one.

Childhood, theirs–not ours–slips away like water through our fingers.

 

Or a kite caught up in a strong wind.

As warm and wonderful as a hug, but just as fleeting.

Suddenly they’re all grown up; intelligent, creative, compassionate human beings, ready to make their contributions to the world.  Which is the whole point, isn’t it?

Their childhood is a gift…

…we gave to each other.

It has its season, and then it’s gone…

Off they go to seek their fortunes.

Dang!  And just when they learned how to cook!

But here’s something they won’t know until they have children of their own.  Long after our kids are parents, long after they’ve gone gray, long after they are elderly orphans…they will still be our babies.

 photo e44fa7f6-b8ce-4182-b007-8bfc3bce5a47_zpsee121352.jpg
Neither time nor tides can ever change that.

All words and images copyright 2013 Naomi Baltuck

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

A Celebration of Fenestration

The Latin word for window is “fenestra.”  The old English word for window, “eagbyrl,” means “eye-door.”   Just like a door, it can be used for peeking out…

…or peeking in.

Whether you are looking in or out, there are so many things to see, just behind the glass.

The earliest windows were holes in a wall.

Narrow slits, to let in a bit of light with the cold air or to shoot an arrow through.

The ancient Romans were the first to use glass.

Then came windows of animal horn or hides, cloth, and in the Far East, even paper.

The Inuit people say, “Don’t let the window of your home be so small that the light of the sun cannot enter.”

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross said people are like stained glass windows.   They sparkle and shine when the sun is out…

…but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed.

In the Ukraine they say you don’t really see the world, if you look only through your own window.

And what a world there is out there to see!


There is another old saying, “The eyes are the window to the soul.”

…and one that says a smile is a window on your face to show your heart is at home.

The world on either side of your window can be sad…

…distant…

…daunting…

…and scary.

All the more reason to let the light in.

Let your window’s light shine like a beacon…

…and reflect upon the beauty of our world.

All the windows of the world!

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck

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

Who Turned on the Lights?

People find the light in their life in so many ways and places.  It can be as easy as turning on a switch.

 

Some find all the light they need in a sunset…

…or a moonrise.

Others find illumination in a church…

…a synagogue…


…a mosque…

…or a library.

Sacred is a place that lights up your heart.

It isn’t always easy to find…

Some look for it in food…


…at the bottom of a wine glass…

…or through yoga.

Some light up with the joy and anticipation of adventure.

And what constitutes an adventure is very personal.

Sometimes light comes from the joy of creation in all of its many forms…

 

Everyone’s light shines through differently.  To each his own.

For me, love shines brightest of all.

 

It’s our life’s work and pleasure to follow the light…

…or to make our own.

It is there.

It is there.

It is there.

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck.

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

Shadowplay

What is life?  The flash of a firefly in the night, the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime.  It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.  –Native American Blackfeet–


Every man has a different idea of beautiful…best to take the gesture, the shadow of the branch, and let the mind create the tree.–Wm. Faulkner

A man cannot jump over his own shadow–Yiddish proverb

Beware the dog–it’s shadow will not bite.  –Danish proverb–

Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.  –Swedish proverb–

If you stand straight, you need not fear a crooked shadow.–Chinese proverb–

Observe carefully, and you will find wisdom even in the shadows. –African proverb–

One can live within the shadow of an idea without grasping it.–Elizabeth Bowen–

The shadow is often more interesting than the object itself.–Ellen Thompson–

There are dark shadows on earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast.–Charles Dickens–

Imagination is the real and eternal world, of which this vegetable universe is but a faint shadow.–Wm. Blake (1757-1827)

No hill is without gravestones, no valley without shadows. –South African proverb–

Like our shadows, our wishes lengthen as our sun declines.–Edward Young–

Count your nights by stars, not shadows; count your life with smiles, not tears.–Italian proverb–

All images c2013 Naomi Baltuck

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

Click here to see Turkey, a Land of Light and Shadows.

No Such Thing As An Odd Couple

Couples come in all shapes and sizes.  They always have, since the beginning of time.

 

Life is short, and often cruel.  Finding true love, or even a true friend is not just a comfort.

It’s a miracle.

But I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. True love happens.

It is easy to recognize when you see it.

Love…

..in all its many forms…

..is a gift to us all.   It fills the world with light.

Let it shine!

All words and images copyright Naomi Baltuck 2012

Click here for more interpretations of the Weekly Photo Challenge: Partners.

For more interpretations of The Weekly Travel Theme: Friendship.

Favorite Place in the Whole Wide World

Our family has enjoyed many adventures.  We have discovered so many special places along the way.

Hot…

…cold.

High…

…low.

Near…


…far.

Silly…

…and sweet.

It’s impossible to look back and choose one favorite place from so many golden ones.

Whether I’m high or low, whether they’re near or far, I hold them within my heart.  In that place, whatever happens, I know we can be together in a heartbeat.

And that is my favorite place in the whole wide world.

All words and images copyright 2012 Naomi Baltuck

Autumn in Italy: Every Day a Slow Day

April in Paris, sure, I’ll go.  But autumn is the best time to see Italy.


No crowds, no sweltering heat, and no mosquitoes!  My sister Constance and I rented a little Fiat at Fiumicino in Rome…

…and drove straight to Orvieto, one of the ancient hilltop towns they call “Cittaslow,” or a ‘Slow City.’   Cittaslow status is open only to towns with a population under 50,ooo.  These towns are committed to restricting modernization.  They resist homogenization and globalization in Italy (and around the world), and promote cultural diversity and the uniqueness of individual cities.  The pace of every day urban life is slowed by restricting traffic flow and saving open space for local markets, not parking lots.

Slow Cities fiercely protect their environment.  They market local produce…

…and maintain their own traditions.

Orvieto is situated dramatically on a 300 foot high volcanic plateau.

Originally Etruscan, it was conquered by Rome in the 3rd century B.C.   (Fun fact: the word ‘Tuscany’ is a derivative of ‘Etruscan.’)  Like the ancient Egyptians, the Etruscans believed in a life after death, and were obsessed with death and burial.  Vast cemeteries–cities for the dead–were often carved into cliffs at the foot of Etruscan cities.  Orvieto looked down upon this one.

On top of the plateau, at the heart of Orvieto, stands a cathedral begun in the year 1290.  The facade is impressive.  It has all the extras…

…and even comes with black and white sidewalls.

In neighboring Todi, also a Slow City…

…they tell a story demonstrating the intense rivalry between Italian city-states.  In 1291, a year after Orvieto’s cathedral was begun, Todi broke ground for San Fortunato, a cathedral they claimed would be even more impressive than Orvieto’s.  Todi hired the same sculptor, Lorenzo Maitani, to create a new cathedral with as beautiful a facade as he had created for the cathedral in Orvieto.  Not to be bested by their rival, Orvieto authorities prevented this by having Lorenzo murdered.  Italy is a land of many stories, with such a colorful and passionate history!

My sister Constance is an artist, and was there to paint…

 

…but  I went to research a novel set in Italy.  Even for autumn, it was unseasonably cold…

and wet…

But we didn’t mind.

We made day trips to surrounding villages.  We drove past beautiful scenery, including Lake Bolsena.

…and were lucky enough to stumble upon Pitigliano, my favorite little village in Italy.

The surrounding landscape is dramatic, with a network of ancient ‘sunken roads’ carved by the Etruscans into the soft volcanic rock.

Some extend for half a mile, with walls as high as thirty meters on both sides.  Their purpose is a mystery.  Perhaps for defense, but more likely a pathway for funeral processions leading to the necropolis where tombs were carved into the tunnel walls.

What I loved about Pitigliano had nothing to do with funerals and death, and everything to do with survival.

We also visited Civita di Bagnoregio, built 2,500 years ago by the Etruscans.

Civita di Bagnoregio is accessible only by this narrow bridge–no motor traffic allowed.  In bygone days, goods were packed in by donkey, but now they are delivered by motorized vehicles small enough to cross the bridge.  If you go in autumn, beware of strong sidewinds!

Today, the population varies from 12 in winter to 100 in summer.  It was incredibly charming.  We passed a middle-aged man in knee britches and vest.  Con said, “Is he for real?”  I said, “Only if his name is Geppetto.”  We saw more quaintly dressed people, and wondered if we’d walked through a gateway into the past.  I asked a woman in an old-fashioned dress, who kindly told me, “Chee-nee-mah! Pee-noh-chee-o!”  They were filming Pinocchio, and we might really have seen Geppetto!  I pointed to her costume and said, “Bella!  May I photograph you?”  “Si!” she said.  After posing for a picture, she led me back to where the film crew and cast were preparing to film the next scene.  “It’s okay to be here?” I asked.  “Si, si!” she said, obviously proud of her role in the production.  When we parted, I said, “Molte grazie!”  She lifted my hand  and pressed it to her cheek, then released it to blow me a little kiss.  I found the gesture very moving, and I know exactly where in my novel I will use it.  It’s the sort of souvenir you don’t find in a tourist trap.   And it’s the kind of research you just can’t look up in a book.

All images and words copyright 2012 Naomi Baltuck

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

One Village

In my travels I prefer a village setting to a big city, and will bypass London for thatched roof country, or head straight out of Rome to explore the ancient villages of Umbria , Tuscany or Ligurnia.  All over the world, they are so different.

On the little island of Aeroskobing in Denmark…

…or above the clouds high up in the mountains of Switzerland.

At sea level in Iceland…

….or at the foot of a Norman castle in Ireland.

In the shadow of Cesky Krumlov Castle in the Czech Republic…

…or on the shore of a fjiord in Norway.

Beneath an ancient Roman aquaduct in Spain…

…or on a little cobbled street in Dorset.

Each has its own unique story and history…

Tastes…

 

Traditions…

Colors

And characters…

All so different and yet so familiar.

Almost like family.

Copyright 2012 Naomi Baltuck