Weekly photo challenge: Summer lovin’

I was in Wickford the other night, so I visited the giant lotus pond on Rte. 1 again. We found the lotus three years ago after Mallory and Seth’s wedding, and I’ve visited the past three summers. It seems other-worldly to me every time I go, and it’s something I love to do. The leaves are large platters and the lotus are like porcelain.

Weekly photo challenge: Foreshadow


The man in the photo is my father-in-law, Bill Simpson, and he is sitting in an Army-issued tent during the Korean War in the early 1950s. He will soon marry the woman he left behind in the States, whose photo is tacked to the wall behind him. They will be married for more than 40 years, have four children, move from Philadelphia to New Jersey, spoil their grandchildren — and, too soon, he will leave her behind again.

We celebrated the 80th birthday of the woman in the photo, Joan Hopkins Simpson, at a large party of family and friends in Delaware in July. Joan planned the party herself to make sure it was just what she wanted. She has always tried to find the best in everyone and every situation — and I hope she knows she is an inspiration to many and a great storyteller.

Joan cut


Weekly photo challenge: Fleeting

Four sisters: me, Jean, Nancy and Mary


The stones, the blinding light of late-afternoon sun in summer, deep shade, a Sunday, surely a Sunday.

The dresses, the pin-curled hair, pigtails, the distant sound of bird song, a voice calling for someone, footsteps on gravel.

Three more brothers in the years to come. But, on this day, four sisters and a gravestone for one son.

The loss, still raw. The house, still quiet.

On another summer day faraway, their mother will tell one daughter that the boy would peek over her crib to make her laugh. She will say it was his favorite thing to do.

It will be the first thing she will ever say to the daughter about her brother.

It will be the last thing, too.

Weekly photo challenge: From above

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This photo was taken by my Dad in the Badlands of South Dakota in the late 1960s. I was standing near the edge of the platform, looking down into the abyss, and he was above us. We went camping with our cousins who lived in South Dakota on this trip. I remember that it was pretty cold, and we were freezing  in the tent.  I wish I could remember more about it, but I’m sure it was fun.  I’m sure it wasn’t as much fun for my mother, who still had to cook for six kids and a husband on a little camp stove.

I don’t have many photos that work for this week’s photo challenge. It will be interesting to see what others have selected.

Weekly photo challenge: Culture

This link will take you to a photo essay done by the New York Times a few years ago that features the voices of Marcus residents explaining this little town phenomenon that takes place every August in northwestern Iowa.


I’m not sure if it fits the category of “culture,” but it does describe the life I grew up knowing, and I do believe it is a landscape that is slowly — and sadly — disappearing. Below, are my own images from past fairs. I probably won’t make it back this summer, but not because I don’t want to be there.

Thank you to the volunteers who work so hard to make it happen every year.


Weekly photo challenge: Up


Weekly photo challenge: Up

If you don’t look up — and down — in Charleston, you will miss the most interesting bits of iron scroll work. I spent an hour in the art museum and three hours walking down lanes and alleys. I also loved the windows and window boxes. I’ll save the windows for another photo challenge.


Weekly photo challenge: Lunchtime

My mom with Nancy and me at a picnic at my grandma's.

My mom with Nancy and me at a picnic at my grandma’s.


I was too young to remember this day, but here are some sensory images of being three years old at my grandmother’s house in the country:

The pull and pinch of the clips in my braids.

The metallic taste of Kool-aid in the bright, tin cups.

The smell of Ambush and Aqua Velva.

Peeling off the skins of burnt hot dogs.

The heat of the sun, the sound of the wind.

The clematis that climbed the shed.

The swing with the longest rope in the world.

Looking at the photo’s date, I realize that my mother was just 30 years old, and has given birth to six children, with two more to come.

Weekly photo challenge: Blue

I thought I missed this week’s photo challenge, and then it showed up today without an apology for getting me all discombobulated!

Ah, but how can you stay upset with a late assignment that promises to treat us all to so many different eyefuls  of BLUE.

Let the BLUE begin!  This close-up of hydrangea in my backyard  is my favorite summertime blue in New England.

Weekly photo challenge: Together

Together: My sister Nancy (right) and me


I visited friends and family in Iowa last week, and one of the places I visited with my sister, Nancy, was the High Trestle Bridge near Madrid. The bridge is 13 stories high and one-half mile long. It is an amazing bike trail that I hope to ride on someday.

I’ve included a link for more information, a photo of Nancy and me on the bridge and a view of the structure itself. It’s so high up in the sky that it’s hard to take photos of the height. I’d love to ride the trail in the fall. I think it would be incredibly beautiful with all the trees.


Thirteen stories high!

Weekly photo challenge: Journey

Bill, Emily, Julie and Mallory about 20 years ago ... quite a journey!

The photo and the poem journey back in time …


Save My Life

Mallory’s bedroom door is closed,

but I can hear the music from my old LPs.

She has salvaged our turntable and the past.

“Save my life, I’m goin’ down for the last time”

from Flat as a Pancake by Headeast, circa 1980,

spins round and round on the warped vinyl.

Mallory’s high-pitched voice tries to match the lead singer’s.

Then I am humming and bumping around the kitchen.

I am back in that one-piece jumpsuit that Bill once loved,

spritzing the Charlie and slicking on Bonnie Bell lip gloss.

It is “disco” time, Saturday Night Fever,

the double bump and Donna Summers all over again:

“We danced and we danced and we danced”

with the lights flickering at our feet.

“Save my life –”

The music above stops abruptly.

Soon, Dave Matthews’ sad whine slips downstairs,

and I go back to my ironing.