Please forgive this post. I blame it on my brother and the fact that I’ve been struggling to write.
“Why don’t you write ’10 Things About Zombies’?” my brother suggested.
“I don’t know ten things about zombies,” I said.
“Make them up,” he said, but I couldn’t think of anything.
“Zombies are dead,” I told him.
“You need to come up with something more interesting,” he replied.
So I tried.
I came up with five facts, but the first one is really a correction.
Zombie Fact #1: Zombies are not dead; they are undead.
Cee Neuner is starting a weekly photo challenge called “Alphabet with a Twist.” For the next 26 weeks, she’ll feature a different letter ~~ with a twist ~~ for her Fun Foto Challenge.
Maybe it’s because I’m a little twisted myself — but, I felt like I could commit to this challenge.
A (with a twist) is Ap. The photo needs to feature something that begins with the letters “Ap.”
I’m adding my own second requirement for this challenge. I’m going to use old family pictures.
Zombie Fact #2: Zombies don’t like to be photographed. Most zombie photos are staged and not real.
A few years ago, I started scanning my father’s slides to get them into a digital format. All of the photographs in this post were taken by my father before I was even born. Not staged. 100% real. No zombies.
So…. A is for Appetite.
Zombie Fact #3: Zombies like watermelon.
Watermelon is red and juicy. If you look at zombie pictures (which I know are staged) they often have red juicy stuff running down their chin. Watermelon, while not the consistency of brains or flesh, looks appetizing enough to fool your average zombie.
My mother told me that watermelon was sometimes soothing for a child that was teething. I like to think that’s why she was feeding it to Stewart in this picture, but she may have kept watermelon on hand in case of zombie attack.
Zombie Fact #4: Zombies are delighted when they see a baby with food on his or her face.
Zombies really aren’t so different from the rest of us. What parent hasn’t taken a picture of junior with spaghetti on his head or chocolate ice cream smeared all over his face?
For zombies, though, they find it attractive because they identify with it. Most zombies have lost their swallow reflex. Remember the zombie pictures with red liquid dripping down their chin? Well, they can’t help it. Their swallow reflex died with them and didn’t come back to life. That’s why they talk the way they do. That’s why they eat the way they do. When they see a baby with food all over his face, they think he’s one of them. They feel a kinship.
This can actually be used to a family’s advantage when under attack. Hold the food-covered baby in plain view while the rest of the family slowly backs out of a room invaded by zombies. The zombies will be so enamored that they won’t attack. Once everyone is out the room. Shut the door and run.
This is a picture of my mother feeding Stewart.
He doesn’t have anywhere near enough food on his face to distract zombies. It’s okay. He lived his whole life without a single zombie attack.
My mother and my oldest brother have both passed away but they will never be zombies, because —
Zombie Fact #5: A person who lives a life of service to others can never become a zombie.
My mother and my brother both gave freely and generously of themselves. It’s like a zombie vaccine.
This should serve as a reminder to all.
We should be kind.
We should be generous.
We should put others first.
— if for no other reason than it will keep us from being zombies.
For a couple of years, my father kept saying, “I need one of those things,” and he would mimic someone holding a device in their hand and tapping on the screen.
We tried to convince him that an iPad would work well for him — it’s bigger and does a lot of the same things — but no dice. He was sure he needed a smart phone.
Last summer one of my sons upgraded from a iPod Touch to an iPhone, so we gave his iPod to my father. We could connect it to wi-fi in the house and it would function in basically the same way as a phone. My son set up an iTunes account for him, and I had my sister send him his one and only message.
At 87, this is one new trick the old dog can’t learn.
It sits on his tray table. I charge it about once a week for him. The one time I forgot, he told me that we needed to buy new batteries for it. Modern technology is hard for an older person to understand — even the basics of recharging a device.
But every day, he picks it up and pushes the home button. I put a picture of my mother on his lock screen.
“Good morning, Elinor,” he says, and then he sets it down.
I think he finds some security in seeing her face each day.
He found a use for the iPod I wouldn’t have guessed.
I loved the idea of reenacting a piece of art for this week’s photo challenge: Life Imitates Art
But what to do?
I asked Laurel if she would sit on my lap and put her hand on my cheek, like a Mary Cassatt painting, but she said no. It probably would have looked kind of strange anyway. She may be my baby, but she’s taller than me now.
So — swimming. I decided to ask my swimmers to recreate some swimming posters.
This one — Michael Phelps doing streamline — I just wanted them to see. Streamline is such a foundational skill. We work on it from Day 1 of swim season — and still, about half look nothing like this, hand over hand, squeezing the head.
I stood on the balcony and took pictures of each swimmer leaving the wall in streamline. For you photo-geeks, all I have is a little Sony Cyber-shot that I bought on sale at Target for $59. I guess you get in clarity what you pay for.
Still, it was a great learning experience for the kids. I showed each one the picture I had taken of them and we talked about how they could make their streamlines even better.
For fun, at the end of practice, we tried to recreate another swim poster.
I pulled our little Kodak PlaySport out of retirement (it can take underwater photographs), charged it up, and prayed that it would work. Laurel was the photographer as each one of my swimmers did a cannonball off the diving board. This was the best shot.
Or this one.
So — thank you Daily Post for the photo challenge. I may not be much of a photographer, but this was fun.
We’re getting to the end of this alphabet challenge and I’m starting to feel punchy. I thought about posting my picture taken at Laity Lodge of a turkey vulture and then accompanying it with vulture jokes.
But when I started looking up vulture jokes, they all sounded so familiar. It’s not that we sit around telling vulture jokes here, so I wondered if I had already written about them. Sure enough, yes, I had, in “Vultures (and a box full of Buechner).” If you’re interested in vulture jokes, you’ll have to go there.
I had forgotten that post because, at the time I wrote it, I was in a fog of grief regarding my brother’s death. There are a lot of things I don’t remember from that period.
But Frederick Buechner now occupies a significant chunk of shelf space and I like that.
The other day Andrew Peterson, my original inspiration for a vulture post this go-round, posted a picture of a t-shirt that said “Beek-ner“. The photo was captioned, “A gift from the Buechner Institute at King University. Educating non-Buechner fans one t-shirt at a time.”
Although, really, vultures have nothing to do with Andrew Peterson or Frederick Buechner.
I’m sure you’re scratching your head over this nonsense.
Welcome to my world — a jumble of thoughts and weird associations that I am forever picking through to try to make sense of things.
So back to vultures. And Laity Lodge.
I went on a hike there. We looked over a bluff. The view was spectacular.
And a turkey vulture seemed suspended over the canyon.
Like on a wild stringless mobile hanging over the world, moving on unseen currents, without ever seeming to have to use its broad extended wings.
Andrew Peterson’s song “Nothing to Say” is about a time when he is struck speechless by the beauty of Arizona. He sings,
I see the eagles swim the canyon sea
Creation yawns in front of me
Oh, Lord, I never felt so small
Maybe he was watching turkey vultures. They really are quite spectacular.
Since I had been to Laity Lodge the previous year, I knew where to head as soon as I arrived. A place called Threshold.
Last year I spent a lot of time inside Threshold. I sat on the cold stone seat.I looked up.This year, when I went in, I found myself looking out.I sat outside and looked in.I went early in the morning, before dawn, and looked at it in the dim light.I tried to take pictures of the sky, which was clear and blue-black and star-studded, or star-spangled, or star-strewn. You get the idea. But all my star pictures look like this.I think I need a fancier camera.
Because the memory of those stars is etched in my mind.
I spent a few feeble minutes trying to take a picture, but I spent hours, literally hours, sitting on a chunk of limestone and looking up at the twinkling luminaries of the night.
“Why do stars twinkle?” Laurel asked the other day.
“So we can sing songs about them,” I told her.
She was looking for the scientific explanation and read to me from her science notebook.
The stars twinkle because the air over our heads is turbulent and as it blows past, it distorts the incoming light from the stars making them appear to slightly shift position and brightness level in seconds…
Like Monticello. That’s where the bus broke down. It’s so easy to mentally go back to those broken down places.
But M is also for Moving On. It may be easy to go back, but it’s also important to move on.
M is for Mirrors, because reflection is important.
M is for Meals, each one a sumptuous feast at Laity Lodge. More than the food, though, is the sharing of stories that happens over a meal — telling the tales of broken down buses or lives, and finding peace and acceptance even when the whole story is told.
M is for the Moon. Its light is merely a reflection of the sun’s light. I don’t want to be corny about it, but my friends also reflect the Son’s light for me, and that’s very precious. Because sometimes the night is dark, and the only light we can see is a reflected one.
And M is for each Moment and the Miracle of living life — because each breath we take should no more amazing than that first breath from the womb.
Each blade of grass, each rock piled on rock, each bird at the feeder, each tear, each friend, each mountain, each sunset, each lift-off, each landing, each ( fill-in-the-blank ) — they are all miracles.
We lives a series of miracles most of which escape our notice.
Life is rich. Magnificent, in fact, when we choose to embrace it.