August 29, 2011

Magical Realism

One of my favorite authors, Sarah Addison Allen. In her own words, her books are all about magical realism. My thought is, of course they are, what other can of realism is there?

Her characters are all quirky, magical and sometimes not even human. A psychic apple tree, books, a lucky red sweater!  I love every word and every sentence, but most importantly, I have absolutely no trouble believing it all!

Haven't you ever had a book jump out at you while walking through the aisles of the local library or Barnes and Noble? Ever been stuck in a major dilemma, wondering what to do, asking Source a question and listing your alternatives over and over in your head; then you turn on the television, radio or just walk into a room of strangers and hear the exact words or phrase you needed to resolve the problem?

Life is magical. Anyone who says it's not is living in a dark and dreary dream.

Liv, one of my most magical friends would say that life is numinous. She might reach up first, holding her hands about a half inch from her curly salt and pepper locks at her temples and tweak her amygdala's forward (funny how they always need a little adjustment, amygdala, not locks!). If you take a picture of her she often has various globes floating about her, or a wavy aura. Word to the wise, if Livvie points at you, duck!

Mitch, another mystical friend exuded magic. While escaping from communist Yugoslavia, Alchemy followed and obeyed his every thought.  The full moon in the sky was like a spot light on him, pointing him out to border guards. He turned moonlight into cloud cover. When the darkness proved too much he called in the occasional lightening to illuminate the trail and thunder to cover up the noise of scrambling through the underbrush.  He escaped the walls of his prison and found that he even had more freedom than the Nazi guards.  He believed in magic and freedom of spirit, the guards believed in restrictions and restraints.

My granddaughter, before she believed in the solid world, passed her fingers sideways through my nose. She giggled and said, "Nana, when you are asleep, I can wave my fingers through your nose!"  I wasn't asleep, and I felt those little fingers pass through me like ticklish stirrings of air. It was remarkable.

Mary, another one of my magical friends (Happy Birthday, Mary) can read your mind, can find a missing person or your keys by just reaching into the ethers.

Are Liv, Mitch, Jocilyn or Mary more magical than you? Of course not, they just believe in living life to the fullest. They don't believe in limitations. They know in the very deepest part of their souls that everything and anything is possible and they aren't afraid to dip into the possibilities.

Roll your sleeves up, friends. Take a deep breath, slip that cloak of limitations off your shoulders and make some magic!

August 16, 2011

A Really Good Man

The past several weeks I have been searching for an article published in a Reader's Digest Magazine sometime in the mid-to-late 40's.  Now I haven't found the article but that hardly means that the search has been unsuccessful.  Often, my research projects lead me down paths of numinous wonder!  This has been one of those times.

When I was a youngster (literally I was a Young-ster as my maiden name was Young)...I digress, when I was a kid and that petite Reader's Digest arrived in the mail in its tight brown wrapper my heart did a little happy dance!  Behind The Lines! Life In These United States and my personal favorites: Toward More Picturesque Speech and Quotable Quotes!

Strange to be going through the archives of a magazine, glimpsing our world in the 40's, a world being encouraged to hate, to be afraid, yet a world encouraged to have faith, to have hope.  Political Correctness was unheard of, apparently.  Alas, even with the "not so nice" verbage and philosophy, I still love the magazine and love the trails it leads me down, the treasures it exposes.

One of the monthly offerings was a short personal commentary of someone's "Most Unforgettable Character."  Lovely pieces describing personalities and characters of people who had touched one's life.

I am inspired to share a couple of my own Most Unforgettable Characters.  First character, my husband. Frank. A man I love, admire and trust, not because he is my husband but because he is, truly, a good man. When I use the word Character, it describes Frank in its fullest definition. He is a man OF character and he IS a character.

He was recently interviewed on a radio show about people who are passionate and purpose directed.  What are his passions?...Hmm, thanks for asking!

Frank is passionate about all things sky, by that I mean he loves weather, clouds, astronomy, birds, flying, hang gliding, kites, etc.  He also loves family, children, travel, discovery. He lives to be outside, and has spent the first two weeks of Daylight Savings Time, every October that I've known him, complaining about what a waste "darkness" is. How can he blow leaves on the driveway or clean rain gutters in the dark?

He has a work ethic that has no end. If I had my own company I would want a dozen Frank's working for me. He goes to work early, stays late and works 7 days a week if that's what it takes to get the job done. He doesn't stop at getting the job done but always goes beyond. In fact, he has been working 7days a week until about three weeks ago when his boss finally told him he could take Wednesday's off!

He works at Crown Camera in Redding, California.  He has worked there for over 22 years. Photography is another one of his passions but like everything about Frank, there is a back story to the passion.

When he was a young boy someone gave him an old camera. He experimented with picture taking, the desert, some old cars, odds and ends. In high school he took photography and joined the photo club. He enjoyed the creativity and processes.  Not a passion yet, but an interest, something fun to do in the few moments of spare time that he had. Frank had very few "spare moments". From the time he was 12 he was working. The oldest of 10 kids, he helped run the family business after school and in the summer, eventually taking over the running of it while his father worked a second job.  Frank has basically worked full time since the age of 12.

Shortly after his 18th birthday, his father died of complications from open heart surgery. Frank gathered all the photos he could find of his dad.  He wanted to make sure there were copies for everyone. It was vital to him that his little brothers and sisters have pictures of Frank Sr., he wanted his dad remembered. What if the little kids couldn't remember Dad's smile or his wavy black hair?

When Frank went back to the photo lab to pick up the precious pictures his heart was crushed and a passion was born. The lab had lost all the photos. No copies were made, no originals to be given back. No photos of his father to keep the memory alive in his nine brothers and sisters!

That was the day when Frank realized how truly vital photography is. Nothing is more important to most of us than family. Recording family memories, reminders of times shared with those we love, images of those familiar faces, smiles and even frowns became a priority in Frank's life.

Why is he successful at Crown Camera? Because he believes in photography and he believes in people. He knows that it is different for each person who walks in the swinging door on Market Street. He wants to help you record your history, your passions, your gardens, your kids, your grandparents...your dads!

If you have met my husband, in the store or out, you know that he is all about getting those pictures and printing them. I often wonder why I don't hear him whisper in his dreams at night, "...get those pictures off your hard drive and print them!..."  He knows the pain of lost images, he doesn't want you to lose your connection with the past and lost loved ones.

Frank is passionate about teaching people to take the best pictures you can! He is passionate about matching you with a camera or equipment that you will be comfortable with and that you will use.  He could sell you a camera with all the bells and whistles but unless you have the experience and expertise, he never would. He wants you to use your camera. A camera sitting on the shelf gathering dust because you are afraid of it is not what he is about.

Our phone often rings at odd hours of the day, from sun up to awesome sun downs! "Frank! How do I capture this sunset?" "Frank, there are too many shadows, what should I do?" He loves those calls, because when he hangs up he knows that you are going to be so happy with your photo that you will take more.

He takes people out on the river trail or sits at our kitchen table to help them learn their camera, their new lens or just learn about composition.  Ever the teacher, Frank is definitely in his element helping others be the best they can be or doing the best they can.

What else about my Frank? He is just as passionate about having fun and he is also passionate about God.  He is one of the most spiritual men I have ever met.  Not a man who preaches his religion to others, or judges others because of their beliefs, but a man who nurtures a personal relationship with God, every day.

There is a Perpetual Adoration room at our church, a part of the church to sit, quietly with Christ through the Eucharist.  It is manned 24 four hours a day, 7 days a week. Frank has attended Adoration every Saturday morning at 1:00 a.m.  for a quiet hour of prayer and has been for about 10 years. It is the rare Saturday that he is not there. He also sits in prayer and adoration on Monday's at 6 p.m. and at 1 a.m. one Friday morning  a month for the Knights of Columbus.  He is a Eucharistic Minister and has often conducted communion services for shit-ins and taken Communion to nursing home residents. Frank has taught Altar Servers, training them not only what to do during Mass but teaching Servers "why" they do what they do during mass, always emphasizing "reverence".

He taught RCIA classes at Our Lady of Mercy for a couple of years.  He loved sharing his faith with returning Catholics and those new to the faith.  Now one might think that Frank would have a "know-it-all" kind of attitude but nothing could be further from the truth.  He searches every day for a closer relationship with God and a deeper understanding of his faith. Often exclaiming out loud, with joy, of his newest "aha moment!"

Frank is a good man, a really good man.

Oh, at last but not least, one of my most favorite things about Frank?  He makes me feel cherished! And that, my friends, is a good thing!