Made With Love

Food is love.  In so many ways, whether we grow it, buy it, prepare it, or serve it, the act of sharing food is a way of showing that we care for another. Our holidays and rituals often have food associated with them, and they involve rituals of planning and shopping and preparing that invest the food with memory and meaning far beyond its nutritional value, flavor, and calorie count.

And I don’t cook.  It’s not that I can’t cook, in fact, like many women, I learned to cook at my mother’s elbow and even went through a period in high school where i prepared dinner each night for my family in exchange for not having to do the dishes.  It didn’t last for long.  If I were going to cook, I wanted to create.  But I’m not interested in eating as much as I am in creating.

Luckily, I married a man who enjoys cooking and has cooked for me and our family since the beginning of our relationship.  He cooks for holidays and occasions, he cooks for my friends and family, and he cooks each and every day, day in and day out, even when he doesn’t want to, even when he doesn’t feel like it.  And each and every meal is made with love.

This morning, Easter morning, he had already planned to make buttermilk biscuits from scratch.  Inspired by a meal last week outside of Nashville at the Loveless Cafe, he looked up a recipe, bought a quart of buttermilk, and decided to see if he could make biscuits as good as the ones we ate last week.

And when he got ready to cook this morning, I got out my camera to capture the steps in the process.  (I’m lucky that he is a good sport about my photography–even when it gets in his way!) So I snapped some shots of the biscuits in process.  As I was taking pictures I was also thinking about my friend Karen’s Make With Me invitation at the NWP ianthology this month–which is all about making food.  I knew I was unlikely to contribute a food make since i really don’t make food…but with my photos in hand and Geoff’s great food make, I was inspired to use the photos to build a movie about the biscuits.

The biscuits were amazing…and delicious!  And he even made lattes at home to go with them. Making the video was fun too…completed start to finish on my phone.  This is my first solo video…I’ve done bits and pieces before, but never the whole thing and never on my phone.  So it felt good to put this together.  And it’s funny, I’ve written about making biscuits before…here...and the memories entwined in that process of making food in my childhood. Even for someone who doesn’t cook, food is associated with memories and with love. My Easter, with an empty nest and no kids at home, was filled with food and love today as Geoff cooked for me this morning and reveled in his own creation and my creation based on his creation…and then later cooked for my parents, treating us all to an Easter dinner made with love, creating space for talk and memories and full bellies.

buttermild biscuits

In many ways the video I made today was a love letter back to my husband for the love he puts into the food he makes.  And the process of making with someone else in mind fills me, as the maker, with love and appreciation.  Food is love.  And today, making this movie (about food) was love too.

 

On Top…Perspective Matters

There are so many ways to see the world and each has its own advantages…and drawbacks. All too often, we see the world by looking at eye level.  We often don’t consider that things will look different if we crouch down, climb up, or change our angle.

This week’s photo challenge from the Daily Post is On Top.  And that had me thinking about how my photos reflect that theme.

This first photo shows the scaffolding on the top of the bridge over the Cumberland River in Nashville.  But what I think is even more interesting than the bridge structure is the clouds on top of that.  I love the layers in this photo and the dimension and depth visible in the clouds.

clouds on top of bridge

And in another picture from Nashville, I looked up to see this fire escape on top of me.  I have found that I like to take pictures looking up into the sun through structures (both man made and living).  I notice so many interesting things about the sky, clouds, buildings…when I shoot from this perspective.

fire escape

This third Nashville photo captures the tourists on the different balcony levels of the honky tonk…as the country music blasted into the streets.  Even before noon, these folks seemed to be having a great time on top of the different levels of this establishment.

honky tonk in nashville

This final photo is from on top of the Ocean Beach pier looking towards the beachside community.  The funny thing about this photo is that it looks like the large kite is well off into the distance, over the beach goers on the shore. In fact, this was a tiny kite flown by a girl standing on the pier…probably not ten feet away from me when I shot the photo.

kite above ocean beach

When I look through my lens, I find myself intentionally looking in new and different ways.  I try to see places and things and people anew…through a fresh perspective.  And when I do that, I see what I had often overlooked or seen differently before.  On top, from below, up close, from a distance…perspective matters.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Small

Enjoy taking photos?  Love to share them with others?  Welcome to this week’s photo challenge! (I post a new challenge every week…check in each week and join the fun!)

Small things are often underestimated in our biggest, strongest, fastest focused world.  Too often, small gets overlooked or trivialized as merely cute.  And yet, when you look closely, small can reveal so much more.

I was out with my macro lens in my backyard yesterday and noticed these tiny weed buds neighboring up to a potted plant.  I love the gentle curve of its stem, like a dancer in motion rising from its leafy brethren below.

tiny weed bud

And then there’s the energy and inquisitiveness that comes through this small hand…the hand of a child who just discovered this bean growing in the school garden.  She was excited to taste this morsel, exploring the bounty students planted and nurtured.

hands with bean

And how often do we dismiss or turn in disgust from these small, slimy creatures?  I came across this slug on my sidewalk as I ventured out to take a peek at the moon the other night.  I nearly missed the small brown creature…or worse, nearly stepped on it!

slug

And sometimes something small is revealed by something larger.  This hearty, healthy dandelion emerged from a small crack between the sidewalk and wall.  Weeds don’t need much space to grow–they grow where they can, making use of small, often unused spaces.

weed in the crack

So this week’s photo challenge is to look for and capture small. Interpret small in ways that work in your context.  Small might mean smaller than your palm, or small in relation to something larger than life.  Use a macro lens, lean in closely, or maybe even pose your small next to something large.  Post either the photo alone or along with writing inspired by the photo. I also invite you to use others’ photos as inspiration for your own writing and photography. I often use another photographer’s image as “mentor text” for my own photography, trying to capture some element in my own way.

I like to share my images and writing on social media…and I invite you to share yours widely too. (You might consider Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+) Use the hashtag #small and include @nwpianthology to make it easy for us to find and enjoy. You can find me on Twitter and Instagram @kd0602. I’d love to follow you if you share your handle.

You can also share your photos and writing by linking to this blog post or sharing in the comment section below. I’m looking forward to seeing small through your lens!

Spring Break: In 25 Words

Sometimes in writing (as in life), less is more.  Coming back from our spring break, we asked our students to zoom into some aspect of their spring break activities and compose a 25-word story to capture the experience.  25 words is short…and it’s not as easy as you might think to come up with a “story” in only 25 words.  But our first, second, and third graders gave it a try. Here’s a couple of examples (the links are to their published blogs–they would love comments if you have time!):

There is new growth in my family garden! Carrots are growing in nice soil (getting sunshine, too!) Making me want to eat the delicious vegetables!  (E.F.)

My brother fell out of a tree, he was in pain! He got crutches, he screamed a lot! Hopefully he didn’t break a bone! (M.B.)

My friends and I went to my Gramma’s house, we had tons of pure fun. We got lost sometimes but it was still extremely fun. (N.B.)

Biosphere two is an amazing place where the scientists are in Arizona, the desert and survived 2 years trapped, researching plant life in threemile greenhouse. (A.R.)

And then there is the student who writes the 25 word story…but can’t resist expanding on the story in her blog post!  (A girl after my own heart!)  Here is the 25 word version…you can click on it for her blog post.

Suddenly a foul ball comes hurling our way. It bounces, jiggles, is everywhere. It happens quickly but suddenly the ball’s in my brother’s sweaty palms. (M.O.)

And of course, I had to try to my hand at a 25-word story about my spring break.  It took me a number of tries to come up with this one…and I might have to try another dozen or so to really craft a story.  And I will include a few photos to enhance my words!

nashville mural

Toes tapping and fingers snapping, she explored the city along the banks of the Cumberland in her new cowboy boots. Her camera captured the details.

Nashville downtown

Cumberland river

 

 

Haunted Wedding Selfies

Last weekend I attended a haunted wedding. Okay…maybe not a haunted wedding, but a wedding that took place in an old southern mansion…that just might be a little bit haunted. The Riverwood Mansion is located in a residential neighborhood outside of Nashville, TN. There are the requisite beautiful tall old trees, long gravel driveway, and stately old architecture complete with a pillared front porch. (You can see a photo of the mansion in yesterday’s post, here.)

Don’t get me wrong, this was a lovely wedding. The early evening outdoor wedding in the garden area enjoyed a warm gentle spring breeze, sunlight just beginning to settle down into the treetops, and of course a gorgeous bride walking down the aisle to join my nephew in marriage. And the idea of haunted really didn’t cross my mind—at least consciously at that point. I knew the wedding would take place at a venue that was an old plantation house, and of course all things southern come with lots of history (and often a ghost or two!) as well as rich, and often complicated stories..

It wasn’t until the reception that ghosts and haunting crossed my mind. The sun had set and candles and twinkly lights accompanied the softly lit reception room and the house itself. We headed up the stairs for the buffet and found ourselves in front of an old, elegant floor-to-celling mirror. I immediately wished for my phone/camera (the downside of women’s dresses—most, including mine, lack pockets) as I saw the four of us in the mirror. Luckily, Geoff had his phone and snapped a picture of us in the mirror. As I looked at the photo, I kept expecting to see the image of a ghost in the background—like the hitchhiking ghosts on the haunted mansion ride at Disneyland.

4 of us

And I couldn’t resist. After dinner and the toasts by family and friends, I headed off with my phone on a photo walk. I found old upholstered furniture with that velveteen fabric and intricately carved wooden backs that seemed to be so popular in the past.

chairs

And an interesting staircase with solid wood banisters leading to rooms above with a stained glass window highlighting the landing below.

stairs

I peered out a window into the garden where the wedding took place and noticed the archway lit up with tiny lights. When I went to take a photo…an apparition appeared…me!

dark reflection

And from that point on, every photo I took seemed to capture my own reflection…in windows, in mirrors…

fireplace selfie

And then I had to pose just one…I dragged my husband back to that mirror I described before so we could pose in that silvered, antique mirror. And the result seems to me to be a new (or old and new) version of the famous American Gothic painting with the man and woman and the pitchfork. Our version replaces the overalls and farm clothes with wedding finery and the pitchfork with our cellphones…and I love the result.

american gothic selfie

My poor husband…I’ve been spending time over the last week or so working on improving my selfie skills—most with him included. And then, without even thinking about it, the wedding created unplanned selfies. I think I will call this series of selfies the Haunted Wedding Selfies.

Have you taken any haunted selfies? Or maybe just unexpected selfies? How are they different from your intentional selfies? Or is all of this just an exercise in narcissism and vanity? It probably is…but it’s also fun. I’d love to see an example of an unexpected or haunted selfie from you…share please..and link back to this post!

Monumental: Old and New

I love the complexity and juxtapositions of urban spaces.  They are crowded, often teeming with tourists, business people, and very often, the down and out.  Downtowns are an amalgam of old and new, history and current events, a place where wealth and poverty rub shoulders.

I’ve noticed this in my hometown, in big cities like San Francisco, New York City, Chicago…and I saw it again today in downtown Nashville, TN.  Music City.  Downtowns have their own personality.  Some are all about food, some all about architecture, and some, like Nashville, are all about music.  Live music poured from bars and restaurants…even before noon.  Guitars and banjos were prevalent, and street performers were also in evidence.  There were the requisite bars on every corner and tucked into alleys and happy hour seemed to start early on this warm Friday afternoon.

And today I was especially tuned in to the contrast between the old and new.  New (ish) restaurant chains occupied historic buildings…and springing up in the background were shiny, reflective, skyscrapers.

old and new nashville

And in some instances, the new buildings seemed to emerge from the top of the shorter, older ones.  Almost like they were grafted on, breathing new life into an older, more classic and established host.  (Isn’t that how it works with fruit trees?)

springing up nashville

And while taking a photo of the Ryman Auditorium, I noticed that the more interesting shot was the reflection of the auditorium in the facade of the glass of the building across the street.  A reflection of the past in the shine of the present?  A mirror of the interconnections of history and current events?

Ryman reflection

There is something monumental about this juxtaposition of the past and the present, the intermingling of history with life today.  The present keeps the past alive and relevant…the past keeps the present grounded and forward thinking as it reminds us all to learn from history.

And then there is the river…the powerful force that gives us energy and life, and if we are not careful, takes both away.  Downtowns always seem to be close to water too.  Maybe water is the true monument.

river in Nashville