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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Photo Friday: What’s Growing?

Tootling along recently, not far from my home, I came upon this very whimsical creation. Is it art? Is it nature? Could pumpkins and gourds really be growing from that tree?

Cheers to all those who take a moment to provide a bit of whimsy for themselves and others and, in doing so, make the world just a little more joyful, meaningful and fun!

Have you seen and photographed something unusual, whimsical, beautiful, or otherwise interesting in your travels? Has anything surprised you or caused you to pause? Or have you simply experienced a small, lovely moment that you wanted to capture? If so, I hope you’ll share with us by leaving a comment with a link to your photo. I look forward to seeing it!

 

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

You may also be interested in:

Photo Friday: Empire State
Everyday Whimsy: Two Reminders that the Mundane can be Made Fun
Postcards Between Poles: Spot of Whimsy

 

Photo Friday: Occident Flour

My love for painted advertising signs on the sides of brick buildings is well documented here. It’s not unusual for me to yell “Stop the car!” or slow my family on a walk to capture one with a camera. More commonplace in earlier decades, they used blank brick canvasses to sell everything from mining equipment to toothpaste. I love coming upon them on country roadsides and in city alleyways. This bright one near St. Johnsbury, Vermont, was no doubt repainted and lovingly refurbished to its old-timey feel. I don’t think the site is a general store any longer.

I’ve since learned that Occident Flour was produced by the Russell-Miller Milling Company in the midwest from 1894-the early 1950s. It was sold to the Peavey Company in 1962 and acquired by ConAgra in 1982. That trajectory, along with newer advertising methods, partially explains the loss of painted signs for individual concerns.

Have you seen and photographed something unusual, whimsical, beautiful, or otherwise interesting in your travels? Has anything surprised you or caused you to pause? Or have you simply experienced a small, lovely moment that you wanted to capture? If so, I hope you’ll share with us by leaving a comment with a link to your photo. I look forward to seeing it!

 

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman, Graphic from Occident Flour

You may also be interested in:

Photo Friday: Ghost Sign
Photo Friday: San Francisco Storefront
Photo Friday: Tamalpais Motel at Dusk


Honoring Birthdays

My family, like many, has always placed a great importance on birthdays. After all, that’s the day to celebrate a person’s actual birth, their very existence on the planet. By celebrating a person, we revel in the richness they contribute to our family and community life. We also mark the milestone by celebrating the birthday person’s life, their achievements and aspirations, perhaps even their birth story. Birthdays, even if shared within a family or circle, are still fairly unique. Each one gets his or her chance to shine on their individual day.

We always mark the precise day and time on our daughter Anna’s birth, and that moment has special power for us. Because Anna was born at 11:19 on a Saturday morning, we even often stop what we’re doing at 11:19 on Saturdays throughout the year. (This is a blessing of having a birth time when that is widely possible, as opposed to Thursday at 3 a.m.) We just make a simple note of that time – nothing more. We have all come to know that that is an expression of gratitude for Anna and even a little prayer for all the babies coming into the world at that moment. Now, in Anna’s teen years, this small gesture has survived as a shorthand.

Children at school or elsewhere on their birthdays can look at the clock and mark the exact time of their year turning, if possible. Of course, with numerous children, adopted children, busy lives and more or odder or less precise birth times, one may not be able to do this each week or even each year, and neither do we. It’s a nice gesture to remember and note the birthday moment or a token of it when possible. After all, what better birthday gift can there be than the knowledge that those around you are grateful for your existence?

Celebrations of both everyday and special occasions add rhythm and texture to family and community life. They allow people to gather for happy occasions and honor and celebrate a range of life passages, even some that may be challenging. They also allow individuals and families to punctuate time and mark passages for themselves, both publicly and in a way that carries over into ones internal life. Celebrations can lend power and blessings to events, and even moments, that help separate them from the everyday. Though modern life often ignores rites of passage that have been celebrated for millennia, birthday celebrations largely endure.

Once Anna went to school and I wasn’t always with her to mark her precise birth time, I began to try to pause on my own to reflect, and urged her to do so as well.  This year on her birthday, I had the joy of going for a neighborhood walk, on a break between rainstorms. I paused at 11:19 to enjoy shafts of autumn sunlight shining through these beautiful golden leaves and celebrate my radiant daughter.

Happy Birthday to celebrants all year and wherever you are.

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Seeing at Child-Scale Helps us Slow Down, Appreciate More, and Play

What does it mean to be a child in a city, or anywhere? How does a child see things? Quite differently from adults, as it happens. This perspective might help many of us to slow down, appreciate more, and be more playful, as we orient to a child’s experience of scale.

The Hand-Made Play Collaborative in Tokyo (one of the busiest cities in the world) investigated how children enjoy and learn from non-commercial play, by telling  “one story of the everyday treasures of a rainy day walk“.

This is their map of a child’s experience of a city.

Children experience a great deal from the time within the pauses of activity, the research tells us. They like routine —  a small ritual within a routine walk can have great meaning. They learn by experiencing and experimenting, by noticing similarities and differences and moving things around. Adults tend to hurry kids, to grow impatient with their observations and not honor the way they experience time.

The main message from Hand-Made Play:

Slow Down. Stop and listen.

It can be a challenge to get out of our adult mindsets and concerns to do this. The rewards, however, are rich for both children and adults. Paying attention to child-scale could impact our actions and even our city planning. As usual, it is beneficial to try to see through the eyes of a child.

Images: Hand-Made Play

Thank you, Kerala Taylor of Kaboom, who first wrote about Hand-Made Play.

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