31 March 2010

the serpent.

Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Said the Serpent to the Photographer: "Must you take my picture? Capture my image at my worst, when I'm old and tired and defeated? At the end of my rope? ...In my hay day, I was something magnificent! I was strong and beautiful and ever poised to strike. --Why could you not have taken my picture then?"

Said the Photographer to the Serpent: "But then, I was afraid of you..."

"Life is one long process of getting tired."

...Samuel Butler

P.S. Thanks Greg! =)

27 March 2010

like a box of chocolates...

This morning, 7:30 am
Son: "Mommie, can Dora and Diego come to my house? Mommie, Mommie, Can Dora and Diego come to my house?"
Mommie: "No honey, Dora and Diego live in the TV. Go back to sleep."
Son: "Can Dora and Diego come to my house Daddy? Huh? Can they?"
Daddy: "Uh huh... Go back to sleep."

Back to my tales of travel:
While in Gatlinburg, after our visit to the Ripley's Aquarium, we hit up the Hollywood Wax Museum... While Liam didn't really know who any of the statues were (with the exception of Batman and the Wizard of Oz crew), he quickly learned that the purpose of being there was to pose and take pictures. He was happy to oblige and had his photo taken with Forest Gump, Jeanie (Barbara Eden), Willie Nelson, Michael Jordan, the cast of Star Trek, and Jason (Friday the 13th) among others.

This was to be our last stop before heading out toward home. Arriving at the car, I noticed that he was missing his cap, so I put away my camera and back we went to the wax museum... where we found his little hat lying on Hugh Hefner's bed. I had totally missed Hef the first go 'round. Apparently Liam had been trying on the Playboy bunny ears while consorting with the mastermind of the Playboy empire.

And me without my camera.

"If a man is after money, he's money mad; if he keeps it, he's a capitalist; if he spends it, he's a playboy; if he doesn't get it, he's a never-do-well; if he doesn't try to get it, he lacks ambition. If he gets it without working for it; he's a parasite; and if he accumulates it after a life time of hard work, people call him a fool who never got anything out of life."

...Vic Oliver

26 March 2010

way, way out there.

Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Since I40 has been closed for many months due to a rock slide at the NC/TN border, I had to take the scenic US Highway 441 on my journey to Kentucky (the only other main road through the Blue Ridge Mountains). This isn't a bad drive at all if one has time to spare, in fact Highway 441 offers some of the most picturesque landscapes of any road I can think of as it crosses the Great Smokey Mountain National Park and meets the Blue Ridge Parkway. Just the drive alone through the Park and Parkway is an absolute revival.

(Please note: this photo is most certainly not an example of said picturesque landscape and was not taken along US Highway 441.)

Upon my return however, I found that 441 had also been closed off due to snow and ice. The advised alternative route lead back into Tennessee, through the edge of Kentucky, and back into NC via Virginia. HUH? --I was SO not doing that. I was certain there must be another eastbound route through the mountains and thus set out to find it.

The above photo was one of many delightful scenes along the unmarked, unnamed, winding one-lane mountainous path I took... So intrigued by this heaping mess no words can adequately describe, I had the overwhelming urge to take more pictures, though it was my fear of a) being shot, or b) being buried in an avalanche of hillbilly garbage that kept me in motion.

Of course, this scene (see photo) was a shocking exception to the tranquil countryside that I witnessed. There were many beautiful old barns and lush green fields (and snow), a few farms still in operation and some who had seen their better days, mountain creeks, magnificent cliff-top views, and excitingly low, unprotected shoulders. Occasionally I ran across a cozy log cabin with smoke billowing from it's chimney though whatever the home, they were each miles apart. I also happened upon a couple of quaint little communities that didn't exist on any map, but were charming all the same.

Those of you who know me well, must be thinking to yourselves, "You've got to be kidding me! This girl has NO sense of direction. How on Earth did she find her way through the rural mountain terrain when she can barely find the way out of her own bedroom in the mornings? How did she ever make it out alive?" Trust me, I've pondered my good fortune on this one too; though I did stop once and ask some flannel and camouflage clad bear-hunting locals for directions and then hoped like hell that they were telling me the truth and not setting me up unknowingly for a sequel of Deliverance. Turns out, they were just good ole mountain boys.

All in all, it was a grand adventure, and not such a bad one at that. It was almost just like being on a Survivor episode of Tennessee Backwoods Mountain Roads, minus the camera crew and prize money.

Having grown up in [CENSORED] County, I know a little something about country life way out in the boonies, though I recognize that there are lots of folks who have never experienced life beyond a city limit so I've developed a Top Ten list of ways to know when you're really way, way out there:
  1. The road on which you are traveling is either not paved, not painted, or both.
  2. The road is a one-laner, requiring you to shift into four-wheel drive to navigate through the mud and/or ditch when passing oncoming traffic.
  3. The road upon which you are traveling has no official name nor can be found on any map.
  4. It goes without saying that GPS navigators are useless dash ornaments.
  5. There are no road signs nor any other directional indicators (unless of course you were a boyscout and know which direction the sun rises, sets and about the moss on trees thing).
  6. There also are no posted speed limit signs though somehow there are extenuating factors that prevent you from putting the pedal to the medal (such as continuous sharp curves or free range strolling livestock).
  7. There are steep cliffs and dangerously low shoulders and no guard rails.
  8. You see more animals than evidence of people.
  9. You are more afraid of stopping to ask for directions than of driving around lost until you run out of gas and perish on the side of the road.
  10. And when at last you do get up the courage to ask for directions, they include such phrases as, "jus' keep on goin' 'til ya reach the black top road..."

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

...Mark Twain,
Innocents Abroad conclusion, 1869

25 March 2010

the one that got away.

morning mist & a Chevy., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

I could not believe my luck when I captured this enchanting picture; I had already fallen in love with the image before I ever took the shot. --Scenes like this make me wish I was the early-riser sort... the world, in my humble opinion, is at it's peak beauty before it fully wakes.

Just two miles or so away from this sleepy Cherolet, appeared the most breathtakingly hypnotic and beautiful site -- which will forever be etched within the recesses of my mind and ever more be known as "the one that got away"... or, the photo I did not take.

Okay sure, it would have required illegally stopping on a major highway bridge (with an illegally loaded gun in the car) in a steady flow of morning commuters and briefly abandoning the vehicle and a minor child while endangering my own life in order to get the shot, but hey, in retrospect, I still think it would have been worth it. (Damn the common sense and protective maternal instincts!) No doubt, had I been traveling alone, this is what you would see:

...Misty morning mountain fog floating like a ghostly curtain above the quiet currents of the river, so heavy its drapes that even the banks of the river are hidden from view... The sleepy sun, in a slow assent to its perch, illuminating the silvery whisps and creating an air of what can only be described as Magic. And there below the glowing haze, a lone black duck glides softly upon the still water toward sunrise, rippling a perfect "V" behind him.

Visual Poetry. *sigh*

"Morning has broken like the first morning,
blackbird has spoken like the first bird.
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning,
praise for them springing, fresh from the word..."

...Cat Stevens,
Morning Has Broken 1971
(from Eleanor Farjeon, 1931)

24 March 2010

the road to a friend's house.

Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
Whoever said that the road to a friend's house is never long, never traveled across three states in a car with a three year old.

...I had imagined this as an opening line for the post-adventure blog entry, alas, 'tis not so. In fact, I had an absolutely wonderful time traveling with my young co-pilot and am still basking in the after-glow of our enchanting memories together.

Everything from staying the night in a hotel to petting a horse at a rest stop was part of our special adventure together... Liam saw the mountains for the first time; I saw them for the first time again. We drove through big cities and learned their names. (We drove a lot!) We also learned about road signs. We sang songs on the radio and made some up. We saw ducks, llamas, wild turkeys, and elk. We had smiley face pancakes at IHOP and ate dinner at "Old McDonald's." We saw sharks at the aquarium and they smiled at us. We took no naps and it was okay because we might miss something. We saw snow. And we played and played, laughed and giggled until we just plain wore ourselves out. We ate ice cream before our meal and stayed up late at night watching cartoons in bed. And wee (pun intended [read=Liam]) discovered the boyhood joy of peeing outside and well, I took pictures because that's the kind of mom I am.

Best of all, we saw dear old friends who love us and made new friends to love too... and I was reminded once more that family is indeed what we make it, what connects our lives in soul, whether or not we're related.

Yes, I have to admit now that it is true after all: the road to a friend's house is never long... especially when traveling with a three year old.

"Only those who look with the eyes of children can lose themselves in the object of their wonder."

...Eberhard Arnold

23 March 2010

sunset in blue.

sunset in blue., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Over 1,500 miles, more than 24 hours in the car, three beds across three states, and getting trapped in the Tennessee mountains... and the adventure can be summed up with this one photograph...

"I am taught the poorness of our invention, the ugliness of towns and palaces. Art and luxury have early learned that they must work as enhancement and sequel to this original beauty. I am over instructed for my return. Henceforth I shall be hard to please. I cannot go back to toys. I am grown expensive and sophisticated. I can no longer live without elegance: but a countryman shall be my master of revels. He who knows the most, he who knows what sweets and virtues are in the ground, the waters, the plants, the heavens, and how to come at these enchantments, is the rich and royal man. Only as far as the masters of the world have called in nature to their aid, can they reach the height of magnificence."

...Ralph Waldo Emerson,
Essays Nature, 1850

17 March 2010

portrait of a leprechaun.

portrait of a leprechaun., originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

For my Irish hubby's birthday today, we had lunch at Napper Tandy's.

I could hardly believe my lucky charms when we happened upon a leprechaun. Alas, there was no gold to be found.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

"Leprechauns, castles, good luck and laughter. Lullabies, dreams and love ever after. Poems and songs with pipes and drums. A thousand welcomes when anyone comes... That's the Irish for you!”


16 March 2010

without handlebars.

Weee!, originally uploaded by Luna Soledad.

Raising a child with special needs is sometimes like riding a bicycle without handle bars. You know where you’re supposed to go and no idea how to get there. You will fall and you will get back up and go again because you have to. And you will get tired of the journey, of going around in circles, of the monotony of your days… You get tired of hurting, of hoping, or wishing, and the fear of the unknown. But you keep going.

There are times when you find yourself angry and asking, “Why me?” while other bikers pass swiftly by you, carefree and oblivious. Often they smile out of kindness, or pity; others may even stare and ask what is wrong with your bike? Still others might just pretend you aren’t there, afraid to look. You learn to deal with it and keep going.

Some days you’re just tired of being tired. You have to get off and walk the bike. There are even times when you have to kick out the kick stand and park it so you can find time to cry. But you keep going.

And just when you feel like you can’t go any further… something magical will undoubtedly happen – a milestone. Although delayed and awkward and clumsy, it happens and suddenly you know joy and pride that no typical run-of-the-mill biker could ever know. And that makes the journey all worthwhile…

Like a sudden burst of energy, you will find your strength… and do it all over again.

© Crystal J. De la Cruz, 18 June 2009
Raleigh, North Carolina

"Congress acknowledged that society's accumulated myths and fears about disability and disease are as handicapping as are the physical limitations that flow from actual impairment."

...Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.

packing on a road trip.

Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
So, this coming weekend I am hitting the open road, the great wide yonder, running for the hills, gettin' the heck outta dodge, blowing this Popsicle stand, and I'm not gonna let the door hit me in the ass... W00t. Yes, a getaway is long overdue as is a visit with my sister, so I decided to head out to Kentucky to remedy that.

I've always enjoyed the peace and solitude of the open road and have always been one for road trips. I especially love driving through the mountains of the Blue Ridge Parkway with its fresh rolling hills and lovely panoramic landscapes; a salve to the spirit. Sigh.

Well, probably not this time. Might as well forget the audio books too. Because this trip I am not traveling alone and I suspect that my three year old co-pilot will talk for the entire 12 hour journey... each way. Should be fun!

In any case, a girl's gotta be prepared when traveling long distances with a little man who still sleeps in a pull-up, so yes, when I travel, I'm usually packin'. That's right.

FYI: In the state of North Carolina, one must acquire a permit to purchase a firearm, however there are no ownership permits nor permits to carry, unless you carry concealed. It also is perfectly legal to wear a firearm if a) it is worn in plain sight, or b) one has a conceal-carry permit. Of course, in both instances this excludes running about brandishing your weapon and/or carrying it into places that have signs posted prohibiting guns, such as (duh) a bank. You may also drive with a gun in your car so long as it is in plain sight and you have enough common sense to declare it and keep your hands visible should you be pulled over by law enforcement. (They don't really like surprises.)

Since I'll be driving through Tennessee to reach Kentucky, I decided to check the state's gun laws so I called the Tennessee Department of Gun Something-or-Other... I had assumed that neighboring southern states would have similar agendas. Silly me.

The gun-officer-person tells me that Tennessee honors gun permits from all states.
"So what if my state does not issue gun permits?" I ask.
He tells me that without a permit, then I would need to store the gun separately in the car from its ammo. Well that's helpful.

"You mean to tell me that you honor all states' gun permits but because North Carolina does not require a permit to own nor carry that I am not allowed to carry a loaded gun in my car if I'm driving alone across three states with a toddler? What do you expect me to do with an unloaded gun? Throw it at somebody?"

He tries to explain again as if repeating himself will somehow enlighten me. Uhm, okay. I politely thank him and tell him that I'll take my chances.

I mean, come on. We've all seen Deliverance.

(Let me just take this opportunity to point out that the great state of "Agriculture and Commerce" is also the same state that has the Road Kill Bill. No kidding. --Hey, waste not, want not. Right?)

So Tennessee, I am putting you on notice: I will be illegally carrying, in my car, a loaded revolver through your state this weekend for my own protection.

"I believe everybody in the world should have guns. Citizens should have bazookas and rocket launchers too. I believe that all citizens should have their weapons of choice. However, I also believe that only I should have the ammunition. Because frankly, I wouldn't trust the rest of the goobers with anything more dangerous than string."

...Scott Adams

15 March 2010

I don't want to.

Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
This photo was actually posed on a fun day when I took my recently-turned three year old to the beach for a birthday photo shoot... Since that time, I've seen this expression a lot - as we have now entered into a new developmental state I not-so-fondly call, the "I-don't-want-to stage."

The I-don't-want-to stage is proceeded by the "I-do-it" stage, which needless to say, is sometimes frustrating, but not worth fighting over and mostly leaves one with a sense of pride over their little one's new-found independence.

Example: "Here, let mommie help you..." mother says sweetly to the eager child shoving his head through armhole of his shirt. "NO! I DO IT!" comes the angry reply and after about 800 times of this, a helpful parent eventually realizes that this isn't really a battle worth choosing as it just cannot be won.

And this my friends, is exactly why you see small children toddling around in grocery stores and other public places in too-small winter hats in summertime with super-hero capes, and monster-feet bedroom shoes or with Little Mermaid nightgowns, pink cowboy boots, and their underwear on backwards. Because the parent(s) lost the fight against "I-do-it."

Then, out of nowhere, while our guard is down, comes "I-don't-want-to" and we're slammed into the other end of the spectrum. The natural first response is, "Huh? What do you mean you don't want to [insert any verb here]?!"

For instance...
Parent: "Time to eat."
Child: "I don't want to."
Parent: "Okay, don't eat."
Child: "I don't want to."

In attempts to commiserate with friends with older small children who I thought surely would understand and feel my pain, I relay my observations of "I-do-it" and "I-don't-want-to" and am met with unexpected laughter as they respond, "And next comes the-whys!"

Which is exactly how the phrase, "because I said so!" was born.

"Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them."

James Baldwin

find your cool.

Originally uploaded by Luna Soledad
The older I get, the more I realize that life is a great big cycle of irony and mayhem and smaller cycles... and if we're lucky, we find our way through this insane labyrinth, often feeling our way in the dark, and love and are loved along the way.

For instance, one such cycle is knowing everything and knowing nothing... I can remember a time when I thought I had all the answers (just ask my parents) and then suddenly, I discovered that I knew nothing about anything. Then came wisdom. And doubt. Then confusion. --It's a vicious one, this cycle, and it will play on like a broken record in the background of our existence.

Thank goodness for good humor and friends.

For all the heartache and sorrow I have known in my thirty-something years of wandering around in the dark (and there's been a bunch), I must confess that I have been blessed with fortune in my friendships. Sometimes, that makes all the difference.

Recently I reconnected with an old friend from what seems like a lifetime ago... someone I knew from college, before my first marriage, before Germany, and children. Indeed, a lifetime ago.

Sometimes I don't even feel like the same person I once was, before - before everything... as if my life has been a succession of novels I've read in which I was the main character in some ridiculous drama or romantic tragedy. Volumes stored and recalled.

My friend Greg was from a time when my life wrote itself with ease and filled the pages with fun-filled laughter void of responsibility. I was a likable and charismatic character full of joyful energy...

That was over fifteen years ago.

We met for lunch and then set out about town talking and capturing images of whatever struck our fancies. We walked and talked and laughed and to my most pleasant surprise, I found that my dear old friend was one of those rare and wonderful people with whom time does not stand still... We just picked up right where we had left off.

Knowing, accepting, and being ourselves.
And that, is a gift indeed.

Very cool.

"I am already kindly disposed towards you. My friendship it is not in my power to give: this is a gift which no man can make, it is not in our own power: a sound and healthy friendship is the growth of time and circumstance, it will spring up and thrive like a wildflower when these favour, and when they do not, it is in vain to look for it."

William Wordsworth