Press Play

Last month I took a road trip with my kids Elijah and Beatrice, my sister Constance and her daughter Jane.

All roads lead to Grand Teton National Park, or they ought to.

We’d heard that Teton Pass might be closed due to wintry weather, and that temperatures were dropping below zero at night.  We decided to try and squeak in a quick visit before winter arrived, and were so glad we did.

The National Parks are among this country’s greatest treasures, but Grand Teton is the jewel in the crown.

It teems with history…

…and more history.

Wildlife…

…and more wildlife.

And beauty.

So much beauty.

Like my four sisters before me, I studied geology in Jackson Hole at the University of Michigan’s Rocky Mountain Field Station. I became a dedicated pedestrian, and spent a season hiking the trails in the park while waiting on tables in Colter Bay.  For more than fifty years it has been a place of pilgrimage for our celebrations and family reunions, as it has surely been for others.

Some things never change.

The town of Jackson has mushroomed, with strip malls and box stores everywhere.  Its old-fashioned drug store soda fountain has been turned into an overpriced rug store.  But Grand Teton National Park is as pristine as ever.

Every day, as we drove to a new trailhead, we popped a CD into the player and sang along, practicing our yodeling with Roy Rogers, Bill Staines, and Ranger Doug.  Every night after dinner, out came a bottle of wine and the musical instruments, usually in that order.  Back in the Saddle, Don’t Fence Me In, and My Sweet Wyoming Home were at the top of our playlist.  When we sang about a home where the buffalo roam…

…and the deer and the antelope play…

…we were really feeling it.

It had been years since the cousins had met up.  They were a little shy at first, but there’s nothing like making music to break the ice.

Music, for many of us, has come to mean the pre-recorded tracks on CD, iTunes, or the radio.  We experienced the joy of playing music, however imperfect, and being part of a creative endeavor larger than just ourselves.  It helped us tune into the soundscape all around us, ever changing and shifting…

…yet timeless.

©2017NaomiBaltuck

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

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Depth Perception

Last Tuesday we went downtown to attend a concert at Benaroya Hall, commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz.

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The performance was called Art From Ashes, and was produced by Music of Remembrance.

I had mixed feelings about going.

It was a wet cold day in Seattle.

The city seemed dirty.

…And sad.

It would be heartbreaking to listen to works by Jewish composers whose lives and legacies were cut short at the death camps of Auschwitz and Dachau.

But the music proved more poignant than heartbreaking.

These doomed artists plumbed the depths of their despair, gleaned beauty from their cruel twisted world, and imbued their swan songs with love and longing.

Each note, each word a parting glance, a declaration of love, a prayer…

“…Tearfully stolen from the distant west, a gentle pink ray on the thin twigs, settling its quiet kiss on tiny leaves..”

As Jake Heggie wrote in his song Farewell, Auschwitz, they cast off their striped clothes and held their shaved heads high.  “The song of freedom upon our lips will never, never die.”

Ashamed and bewildered by the depths of depravity to which humankind has too often sunk, I also felt a fierce pride for its passion and courage and tenacious love of life that can raise art from the ashes.

Copyright 2015 Naomi Baltuck

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

 

The Art of Work

Imagine a world without art and artists.

They help us see the world through different eyes.

And artisans infuse our everyday lives with beauty.

 

Works of art come in many disciplines.

 

And on many scales…

 …some more grand than others.

 

My artist sister Constance’s painting, “The Poet”, celebrates the literary art of poetry through her visual art.

But I have great appreciation for people who would never consider themselves artists, and yet they make an art of work.

Some apply exceptional creativity to their work, like this fellow who rigged a bicycle to power a sugar cane juicer, to crank out a little work of art one cup at a time.

Some turn an ordinary business into something with a very personal touch.

 

In Ireland,  I was moved by the gravestone of a man lovingly remembered for his gift of turning his work into an art.

Be it traditional…

 

…entrepreneurial…

…fleeting…

…or a treasured heirloom…

 

…art is all around us, and everyone is an artist in his or her own way, whether practicing with a paintbrush, chisel, camera, wooden spoon, plow, or scissors.

Art is in the eye of the beholder.

Also on the tongue…

…in the ear…

…the nose…

…the heart…

and the mind.

Whatever you do, wherever you go, party arty!

All images and words c2014Naomi Baltuck.

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

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

My Wish For You

Winter break!!!!!

After a long quarter and a case of pneumonia, Bea came home for winter break, taking the train up from Stanford with her BFFs, Ben and Michael.

And my son Eli flew into Sea-Tac after ten months in Argentina!

Such great kids!  And it’s wonderful when your best friends just ‘click’ with each other.

They filled our home with music…

…and were prone to spontaneous bursts of dancing…

…and juggling.

And they cooked too!

Not for nothing are they known in certain parts of California as ‘The ‘Stache Squad.’  All for one, and one for all!

 

A game of Risk becomes a costume affair.

 

Bea and Eli shared their hometown, and took in a bit of culture while here.

Proof that the sun sometimes shines in Seattle!

Gifts were exchanged, most of them homemade.

Eli’s gift was to write an original murder mystery for the whole gang.  He put his storytelling experience to good use.

It was, of course, a costume affair…

…set in Russia in 1860.

It seemed to capture the social turmoil of the times.

We were sad to have to send Ben home in time for Christmas.

But it felt like we had already had Christmas, and the icing on the cake was a day of snow, a rare treat, a white Christmas.

The only thing missing was Ben.  So the kids made…


…a SnowBen!

Of course, juggling ensued.

And huggling.

And snow angels!

And it wouldn’t be a proper snow day without hot chocolate.

Another bunch of friends and family have arrived, and it’s hard to believe we have yet another Christmas to celebrate.  It makes me realize that holidays have less to do with the dates on the calendar than the light we create in our hearts and homes and between each other.

My dear friends and family and blogging buddies from all over the world, after health and happiness, my wish for you is this:

May you never be too old for dinosaur pancakes.

…or dress-up…

I wish you a Merry Christmas, a happy Solstice, Kwanza, and New Year.  And whatever the New Year brings, may you always have, no matter what the calendar says, or however large or small, an occasion to celebrate and  a shoulder to lean on.

All images and words copyright Naomi Baltuck.

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

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

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

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.

As I Was Going Up the Stair…

Yesterday upon the stair, I met a man who wasn’t there.

 

He wasn’t there again today.  Oh, how I wish he’d stay away!

photograph c2013 Naomi Baltuck

This is the first stanza of Antigonish, written in 1899 by Hughes Mearns.  It was inspired by rumors of a ghost roaming the stairs of a haunted house in Antigonish, Novia Scotia.  It inspired a popular Glenn Miller song in 1939, with vocals by Tex Beneke.

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

Click here for more interpretations of Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Stairs and Steps.