Alda’s Mirror

“Is there anything else you want?” my father asked?

There wasn’t, but I knew no was not an acceptable answer.

“Take anything,” he insisted.

This was 1999. We were in the garage attic of my parent’s house, looking at the trunk that held my grandmother’s belongings—my father’s mother, Alda. I never knew her. She’d had rheumatic fever as a child, which left her with a weak heart. Alda died of Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 1936 when my father was 10. He couldn’t remember a time when she wasn’t sick.

I’d already taken the pink Depression glasses: a few small juice glasses and several larger water glasses. They were wrapped in newspaper in a pile next to the trunk.

I picked up the girl doll with the porcelain head and cloth body. She was big, about two feet long, with dark hair that felt human and eye lids that opened and closed. She wore a green velvet hat. If the hat were life-sized, I would have worn it myself. Continue reading Alda’s Mirror

Do Selfies Spoil the Present Moment?

When we got to the top of the mountain, I didn’t take my phone out of my knapsack. But my hiking companion did. To document our being there, at the modest summit, on a late August afternoon.

She asked me to sit on a rock ledge; I complied; she took my photo. I complied again when she turned the phone’s camera inwards and photographed us with our heads together. I politely offered to take her picture, then centered my friend in her phone’s video display with the surrounding valley as background. I tried to keep the four radio towers out of the frame.

The whole process took five minutes at most, minutes more concerned with remembering the present moment than being in it. Continue reading Do Selfies Spoil the Present Moment?