Sunday, December 25, 2011

Snowflakes for a Very Merry Christmas Time!

I am up and about early this Christmas morning greeting Santa and waiting for my family to wake.  When I think of Christmas time I think of the hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating our home with festive family treasures, and the tremendous joy of family gathered together to celebrate the season.  I am so happy to be able to spend this time with my wonderful family!

I have always associated Christmas with hot chocolate, warm fires and snow.  It rarely, if ever, snows where I live.   Oh, we can find snow alright, but  to do so we would have to take a two hour drive to the mountains.  Alternatively,  there are plenty of paper and plastic "snowflakes" hanging in all of the local stores.  Some of these "snowflakes" are really beautiful, and some...not so much.

Although real snowflakes are ephemeral, they are beautiful and mesmerizing in their complexity.  In 1885, Wilson A. Bentley of Vermont produced actual photographs of snowflakes.  "Snowflake" Bentley, as he became known, created a process using an old microscope, a bellows camera and a black velvet surface to capture over 5,000 images of snowflakes during his lifetime.

W. A. Bentley Snowflake, 1890

Bentley described snowflakes as "tiny miracles of beauty" and "ice flowers".    I have included a few selected images on this page.  You can view many other Bentley snowflakes, however,  by browsing The Bentley Collection website here.

Sadly,  "Snowflake" Bentley died as a result of his work.  He contracted pneumonia after walking for miles through a blizzard to capture more photographs of snowflakes.  He passed away just two days before Christmas in the year 1931.

"Snowflake" Bentley at work


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mothers and Sons

The Sepia Saturday prompt for this week is a beautiful photograph of Princess Marie-Gabrielle of Bavaria in a loving embrace with her son Prince Luitpold taken sometime during the second decade of the twentieth century.   The prompt reminded me of all of the photo sessions I have had with my children through the years.   My husband and I both enjoy taking pictures of our children and I am convinced we have thoroughly documented each of their lives!  There were many photos of my son and I in our collection that I could have chosen to match what I saw as this week's theme:  the loving bond between mother and son.   Rather than look for a photo from my own life, I decided to look instead for a photograph of my father with  his mother.  My father was born in 1917, so a baby picture with his mother would represent a comparable era to the photo of this Bavarian Princess and her son and would thus be apropos.

My father's mother was the strength of his family.    Born in Tennessee in 1891, she  traveled west as a youngster with her family in a covered wagon pulled by oxen.   They settled in Oklahoma territory at the turn of the century living initially in a half-dugout earthen home as was common for folks in the area.  Like her father, she became a school teacher when she came of age, and continued a career in the classroom until she became too old to go on.   She and my grandfather were married in 1915.  While he took up farming initially, my grandfather later tried his hand at other businesses (insurance, construction, etc).  He was not a good businessman and did not manage money well over the years, which was most likely a strong factor in my grandparents' eventual separation.   My grandmother's teaching career became the sole source of income for the family.

My grandmother was not Bavarian and was definitely not a princess,  but she and my dad had a very strong and loving relationship throughout their lives.   He often talked of her with both pride and respect.   In his later years he wrote of her, "She had a tremendous love and loyalty to her family absolutely seeing and accepting no wrong in any family member."  He went on to say, "She possessed tremendous strength both physically, mentally and emotionally.  She was a fighter for her beliefs, stubborn in her thoughts, loyal church member, proud of community."  He concluded "one could only be proud to have her as a mother.  Hats off Mother, to a life well spent."

When I came across the photograph below I chuckled and thought it would be a perfect selection for this week's post.  It shows that while relationships can be strong and loving, there will always be little spats along the way.  Oh, what I would give to know how old he was and what restriction my grandmother may have placed on my father the day he did this:

Please click Sepia Saturday to visit the other posts for this week.