“People live in each other’s shelter.” —Irish Proverb
“If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment.”
― Georgia O’Keefe
Yesterday a friend gave me yellow tulips. Thanks Anna. Resting on my kitchen table was an eight-day-old bouquet curling, turning brown, and dropping petals.
I just had to photograph them. Damn, I find decay so tragically beautiful and mysterious. You might get tired of my fading flora images, I’ll be posting many more in the near future.
I’ve always been drawn to remoteness, old farmhouses and a chill in the air. My recent visit to my childhood home in Burke, South Dakota offered it all up for me. A blizzard, below zero temps and a borrowed four-wheel drive vehicle to venture anywhere I dared.
Around Burke, South Dakota—January 2020
Thank you Willa for being my photographic partner in crime.
Moving thousands of miles away from the security of family and friends, settling or cultivating unfamiliar land and trying to create something out of nothing is what many of our ancestors did in order to create a new life for themselves and their families.
- PIONEER noun: a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new country or area
- HOMESTEADER noun: someone who acquires or occupies territory as a homestead
I believe my heart and mind are new territories meant to be explored continually—expectations managed as circumstances dictate. I’m a pioneer on my very own emotional homestead, granted the privilege to manage exactly as I choose.
Excerpt from The Homestead Act of 1862
“Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land. After 5 years on the land, the original filer was entitled to the property, free and clear…”
“The Homestead Act, enacted during the Civil War in 1862, provided that any adult citizen, or intended citizen, who had never borne arms against the U.S. government could claim 160 acres of surveyed government land. Claimants were required to “improve” the plot by building a dwelling and cultivating the land. After 5 years on the land, the original filer was entitled to the property, free and clear, except for a small registration fee. Title could also be acquired after only a 6-month residency and trivial improvements, provided the claimant paid the government $1.25 per acre. After the Civil War, Union soldiers could deduct the time they had served from the residency requirements.”https://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=31
my great-grandmother or my grandmother for that matter on my maternal side. Nora died in 1938 before my mother was born and my grandmother, Mildred died before I was born.
However, in this chapter of my tender, and profoundly inquisitive, middle-age life, I want to know more about the women I share DNA with. They’re a part of me, my mannerisms, my choices and so much more that I’m completely unaware of. I need to know more.
Who was Nora? Mildred? What did they love? What did they fear? What made them laugh?
Unraveling the mystery of who they were simply will not leave me alone right now.
My father died just over a year ago and I so wish we had videotaped him telling some of his favorite stories. When families start losing a generation, the stories often disappear too.
This Thanksgiving folks, ask the elders at the table to share their stories. Let the kids ask questions and record their responses. You will be so happy to have the assurance that these treasured stories won’t disappear and can be shared for generations.
Enjoy your time together asking about the good ole’ days.
PS To any Kyte or Millette relatives who might read this, please contact me. I would love to learn more about Nora and Mildred. I would be so grateful for anything you’re willing to share.
I’ve had a really hard time getting out of my own way lately. So, I asked myself this very question.
OK, Lisa, are they real or imagined?
Damnit, I had to answer honestly…most of them, of course, are imagined.
They aren’t barriers per se, they’re just excuses—everyday run of the mill, tried and true excuses I’ve used for years and years and will continue to use far too frequently. However, now I have to face at least a little personal accountability, especially around my creative goals.
So, what barriers are you willing to bust through to reach your goals?
when the world feels like a batshit crazy place is pretty challenging. I don’t know the best way to access a more grounded version of myself, but I do know the quickest. When I’m acting childish and feeling like I deserve more (or less) of whatever—a little gratitude for all of the good things in my life seems to ground me the most.
Gratitude not attitude seems to do the trick.
grounded—mentally and emotionally stable: admirably sensible, realistic, and unpretentious (Merriam Webster)
I’m not entirely sure about “admirably sensible” or “unpretentious“. However, feeling grounded, well, that’s worth a little exploration.
I shot these images somewhere northwest of Burke, South Dakota last Saturday. I really want to learn more about the history of this house. If anyone sees this and has more details, please let me know. The starkness and that big South Dakota sky just made me swoon.
I can just imagine the stories of the families that lived there. Work & Rest. Health & Illness. Joy & Heartache. Births & Deaths. Bounty & Scarcity. Warmth and Bone-Chilling Cold.
I’m staying in my childhood home in Burke, South Dakota. Today I got up very early to write. I made coffee and stepped out on the porch for some fresh air. I was dumbstruck by the beauty of the sunrise and the moonset in unison over the east-facing field.
Left: today’s sunrise/moonset Right: last night’s sunset.
The moon was so seductive to me that I actually felt a little “witchy”. I hopped in my rental and headed east on gravel roads to get closer to the moon. Deer. Stars. A light wind. Birds chirping. Lovely.
NOTE: Speaking of “witchy”, I was born with an extra finger on my left hand (as was my daughter, Lucy). I’ve been told that it’s the sign of a witch, although from what I’ve read, it was mostly the patriarchy and the churches afraid of women who used herbs and other methods of healing. Oh, men, always so threatened by powerful women.
Once thought to be a sign of witchcraft, extra digits are actually the most common developmental abnormality found at birth. About two children in a thousand have extra fingers or toes.
Marilyn Monroe didn’t have extra digits, urban legends notwithstanding, but Anne Boleyn and Winston Churchill both did. And Atlanta Braves pitcher Antonio “The Octopus” Alfonseca was born with six fingers and six toes.https://www.futilitycloset.com/2005/02/10/a-great-big-hand/
I don’t have a telephoto lens or the patience for long exposure images, but I was able to capture these images. A perfect October experience in South Dakota…chasing a waning crescent moon.
My mother always told me that I looked a lot like Winston Churchill as a baby. Now, I know why—Lucy and I share a rather unique trait with him.