My new friend Lori recruited Mamta and I to volunteer to flip pancakes at the 8th annual Desert Harvesters‘ Mesquite Milling and Pancake breakfast. I had a splendid time after I learned how different mesquite flour is to work with. Good thing I finally figured it out because I was floundering and totally losing my friendly bet with Mamta as to who was the better flipper. I’m so glad I was invited to be involved. It was a great community event.

A group of Mennonites attended the event, which I always love seeing. I did notice that their group did not include many younger folks which made me curious about the retention of young people within the religion.

I’m backlogged on photos to update. Here goes…

I have been slacking on my self-assigned project, although I have been sidelined by icky sickness. I did rally to get myself over the the University of Arizona for the annual Band Day to cheer on my eldest niece as she competed with her high school marching band. They were great(!) and it was super cool to see her – I even got a bit teary-eyed with pride. While I was out with camera in hand, I thought I should try to make up for some of my missed deadlines the past few days. It was my very first time inside Arizona Stadium and I was flabbergasted at just how truly small the stadium is. I’ve photographed in a lot, a lot, a lot of stadiums across the country and was amazed at how close the fans are to the field. It must be an awesome experience to see a football game there. I’ll have to see about getting some tickets.

I’m slipping on the “daily” part of this assignment, due to a series of big transitions at work, a busy weekend that included volunteering, training runs and a conference in Phoenix…and now I’m little bit sick. I may be taking photos from my bed in the next couple days looped up on cough medicine. Things are about to get interesting…

p.s.  Happy Birthday to my niece, Miss S!

I did shoot photos on Thursday, edited them Friday, pulled them into a multi-media slide show on Saturday and am posting in on Sunday. Click here to be linked to Vimeo to see my take on “The Evolution of a Dance Floor”.

I like today’s selection of images. All very cool, and different from one another. And for those of you who have followed my last project (the one that lasted five years) you’ll see a little something special in the first image because, try as I might, I can’t seem to get away from the darned things.

Today I learned of the death of a woman who was – as the mother of my first love – a very imporatant part of my life throughout my 20’s. For the six years that I spent with D, his mother Irene, was a woman I learned so very much from and loved dearly. From her cute house on a small town main street with the proverbial white picket fence, she was a true leader in her small community on the coast of California. Irene volunteered so much of her time and was active in the annual parade and celebration of the town that hailed itself to be “The Artichoke capital of the world.” (Don’t laugh….they take it very seriously!) She took up tap dancing (and skiing!) later in life and performed tap with her friends in sequined red leotards and black top hats. She gardened beautifully, crafted a welcoming home and in her butter-yellow-painted kitchen with the low cabinets built for her petite size, she made the most incredible cioppino (fish stew) you’ve ever had. Her son has her quick wit and wonderful sense of humor and the two of them – both naturally gifted storytellers – would have the room in stitches for hours and hours, telling and retelling story after story.

One story I can always call upon when I need a laugh is the trip D and I took to Hawaii for the wedding of friends of ours. Irene loved Hawaii (because of all the rainbows) so she and her husband, J,  joined us on our trip. Irene and I were sunbathing and chatting on the beach of the hotel’s private cove, laughing as we watched D zig-zag back and forth as he doggedly snorkeled after a fish. We turned our attention to her husband J who had moments ago been sitting on the beach – just at the water line – so that the small waves cooled his legs….but we found was now rolling back and forth in the waves, having been “knocked” over by the small waves. Irene and I watched for a few quick moments and each time J tried to get up, he’d get close and then a wave would gently pull him right back onto the sand. It was exactly something out of a Three Stooges episode. Laughing at himself, J called us to come “rescue him”. We ran over and as we tried to pull him up, the sunscreen we’d just applied made our hands and arms slippery so he kept slipping past and kept rolling in and out with the waves. At this point we were all laughing so hard we were crying and within moments I too slipped into the water and found myself in the same predicament as J…being gently rolled back and forth by the small waves in the most silly and helpless way. I found that getting up out of the water was an incredible challenge, made even harder because all three of us were laughing so incredibly hard that our ribs hurt and we were gasping for air. Even now, years and years later, I can’t recall a time that I’ve laughed harder or felt more like a kid. Irene eventually saved both J and I from the teeny waves that had us rolling back and forth like hot dogs at a Circle K rotisserie.

Most of all, Irene Loved. With a capitol ‘L’, she Loved…her family, her husband, her grandchildren, her kids, her community, her home, her customers at the bank. Everywhere I ever went with her she was received with such warmth and respect. I was in awe of this woman, who was a mother figure in many, many ways to me.

As a young woman, I learned from Irene – whom had been married for decades – that Love is a choice. We choose to love the people that we love….and that sometimes it is an easy choice – and sometimes, not so easy. Real Love is complicated.

My family is indebted to D forever. Without him, the arrangements for my own father’s memorial service might not have gone so beautifully or have been as incredibly meaningful to me as they are. D and his family were so very, very supportive of my family in the days after my father’s passing nearly 16 years ago, and I can only hope they know the true value of what they gave us.

In this moment, I want to celebrate the life of a woman who raised a good man…a woman who added much to my life that she most likely was never fully aware of…a woman whose kindness of spirit and dedication to family and community are things that I still strive to emulate.

So, today’s photo is dedicated to Irene…Lover of rainbows. I did not take this photo today. I took it in August, the month of her passing. In Love and celebration of Irene D.