Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Freeways, Expressways, Highways

Cee threw out another of her Photo Challenges this week, the topic being: Freeways, Expressways, Highways – in another words, roads where you can travel fast on.

She left me thinking of how very many places I’ve gotten to travel this past year, and how very different those places often were. I thought I’d put a couple of high contrast images on here as examples (contrast of places and temperatures, not necessarily photo technique).

The first was taken on my iPhone-5 (yes, I still have a 5 & would have my 4 if I hadn’t fallen on it while crossing a creek – what’s your point?)… while traveling on I-70, I believe, on my way toward Idaho Springs. It was last late July; but as we went up into those mountains on the Guanella Pass, the temperature dropped quickly from 80-something degrees to 40 degrees at the top.

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Contrast that with the second image from the first of March this year in the Yei, South Sudan area (in which I dug quickly for my Nikon and stuck it against a dusted plane window around the propeller). I believe this should be the Kaya Highway down below (the large dirt road in front of the mountain range). You might also imagine the contrast in temperature, which was around 105 degrees when we flew out that day (and felt like 140 degrees on the plane), with temperatures that didn’t dip below 90 degrees even in the middle of the nights. I also don’t have to point out the contrast in the types of roadways.

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As for speed…were you to see the ruts on the Kaya Highway, you would think, “that doesn’t meet Cee’s criterion of roads you can travel fast on.” True…unless you put it into perspective compared to the roads back in the gaba (the bush)…or unless you’re a UN truck on Kaya Hwy. You should see those convoys barreling down that road while waving all pedestrians, livestock, boda-bodas, and four-wheel vehicles out of their way (as if we’re not already wanting to give right of way of our own accord). “What ruts, they say? Only you, if you don’t get out of the way!” (Besides that, I was in a plane when I took this picture – okay, a puddle-jumper, to be exact – but I figure that added some extra speed when my photo was taken!)

Happy trails (and byways) to you!

-jody

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An Open Letter to the Unnamed Trucker on Amnicola Hwy Today

Dear Trucker in the Rain on Amnicola Hwy today –

I really feel like I need to have a word with you. In retrospect, I really should have turned my car around today and tracked you down. Had I done so, I probably couldn’t have been held responsible for my actions, though. You see, if you had pulled that truck over, parked, and stepped out, I likely would’ve tackled you right there on the spot. And then possibly laid a big kiss on you. Adrenaline’s like that. It sometimes causes your emotions to get all confused where you do inappropriate things. Or maybe that’s just me and my emotions. As it turns out, you were safe from being assaulted in this manner only because I was shaking so badly from head to toe, the only thing I could think to do was remain on auto-pilot and head back in the direction of my work.

You and I are one of a few select people who know what you did today. Yet, you’ll never receive a commendation for it. I’ll never even know your name. Heck, I don’t even know what kind of truck it was you were driving, besides a pretty one. Let me take that back. It may have been the most beautiful truck I’ve ever seen before in my life – which I still have today (my life, I mean), thanks to you.

As I was sitting there on Amnicola around 2:00, hemmed in by thick traffic at the stop light in the rain, I saw you in my side mirror as you pulled out of the fast lane and started to come up the wet turn lane. I didn’t think too much about it. But just before you came up beside me, something else caught my eye. A little white car came flying out across the two lanes of traffic from my side – and right into your path. As it darted out from behind the black SUV, an old memory flashed through my mind. I thought of a time I saw a German Shepherd dart across a few lanes of traffic when a small pick-up truck hit him. Emphasis on small truck and big dog. Nevertheless, I won’t describe what I saw happen to that dog; it’s too gruesome. I will say it made me cry hysterically for the next two hours. So it didn’t take too much imagination for me to realize that, when your big truck t-boned that little compact car today, I was about to see something much worse.

When you laid down on those brakes and your truck began to bounce, I knew you could see the worst of the possibilities too, despite the fact you were already jack-knifing while sliding down that lane. I sucked in a breath and held it, praying for you and whoever was in that little car, thinking there was no physical way you’d be able to stop in time. I could already hear and see the future debris flying. That’s when I realized there would be another consequence to your decision. That debris wasn’t going to come my way as quickly as your trailer, which was about to take out the entire driver’s side of my own little compact car. I believe I understand enough physics to know that, even after that, that trailer wouldn’t have stayed upright. I’m guessing it likely would’ve toppled onto me and/or the someone else in front of me. I really don’t know how you did the next thing you did, but I watched you pull your wheels the other direction and somehow straighten out your load – while still managing to avoid a certain death about to take place in front of you. Your truck may have bounced and skidded back and forth, but in a gentlemanly fashion, you made sure it kept all of its body parts to itself.

Sir, I commend you on your lightning-fast reflexes. I realize that the person in the little white car had absolutely zero chance of living beyond you stopping in time. I also realize that my only fighting chance would’ve been increased had I been able to get out of my seatbelt, climb over to the passenger side of my vehicle, and dive into the floorboard had that trailer continued coming my way. We both know that Mission Impossible scenario still has a lot of holes in it. Thank God your real reflexes were much faster than my make-believe ones could’ve ever been.

I also commend you on whatever expert driving skills those were that you displayed today. That being said, please don’t take offense to my next words. This event somehow reminded me of watching one of my boys when he was little, playing in the living room with his Tonka truck, picking it up and setting it down exactly in the spot he deemed it should be. You’ll have to forgive me if this example seems too simplistic for the actions you took, but from my point of view, it was like watching the hand of God reach down and do the same with you. I take comfort in that.

Most of all, I commend you on your heart of gold. It was obvious that you were aware of and concerned about not only yourself, but all of those around you on that road today. Because of your quick, alert and clear-headed actions, one or more of us went home to families who would’ve otherwise missed us this evening. When I told my teenage son our story, I can assure you that he expressed his gratitude to you. So please believe me when I tell you that – even though I may never know your name and even though you probably heard no gratitude beyond the gratefulness you had over the silence when you stopped – your actions didn’t go unnoticed. Today, I feel the need to let others know – you truly are my hero.

God bless you.

-jody

Weekly Photo Challenge: Half-Light

The  PHOTO CHALLENGE for this week is:

Half-Light

Share a photo inspired by a poem, verse, song lyric or story.

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I took this photo while in the Holy Land a few years ago with an early version pocket digital camera and added a little editing effect.

For my poetry, I’m selecting a couple of excerpts from Joseph Brodsky’s reflective piece, “I Sit by the Window.”

I sit by the window.
 And while I sit
my youth comes back.
 Sometimes I'd smile.
 Or spit.

I sit in the dark.
 And it would be hard to figure out
which is worse; the dark inside, or the darkness out.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Harmony

Even though I’ve learned a little Juba Arabic for communication purposes in South Sudan, these little ones don’t speak either that or English. They speak Kakwa. Regardless, that didn’t keep us from our own universal communication –

Living, laughing, and loving harmoniously…

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(Nor did it keep me from learning to mingle the posho!)

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(In response to the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge on Harmony)

Be a blessing & be blessed!

-jody

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: State of Mind

As I walked through the bush in an unforgiving heat during the end of the dry season in South Sudan this past week, the scorched brush bristled beneath my feet. Yet, I was reminded of how, even in the harshest of environments, beauty will always struggle to come forth and be seen.

Take notice around yourself today and see what hidden beauty can spring forth!

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This photo is in response to the DailyPost Weekly Photo Challenge on State of Mind.

Be blessed!

-jody

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimism

In the Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge, we were challenged to reflect on Optimism.
Specifically, “How do you fuel the fires of optimism?”

The other night, as the winter day seemed particularly short and dreary, I climbed atop my bicycle in the warm indoors, attached to a trainer that allows me to travel no further than my imagination can take me this time of year. About 35 minutes into my ride, my brain became more complacent than my legs. I reached over to grab my iPhone, switched from the MapMyRide app that was faithfully ticking away with nothing more than time, likely anxious as to why it wasn’t being allowed to log a more interesting route of progress. After thumbing myself into boredom with a few other apps, I noticed a new email had popped up a few hours earlier in my special email account – the one that has, as of late, been reserved for receiving polite rejection letters on my finished novel, Rolling River. (Granted, I’m convinced there’s a steeper learning curve to writing query letters than the actual book, itself. Yet, I’m also determined to woman-up and keep at it for the sake of all my wonderful friends who continually encourage me to persist.)

Lo and behold, I had something completely unexpected and earth-shattering happen! I opened an email response to my query that began with, “Sounds intriguing!  Please send the full manuscript + synopsis as attachments to my direct email.  I look forward to reading your material.” By the second reading (the one where I realized this wasn’t just an encouraging “this isn’t quite right for me, but best wishes” response), I nearly toppled off my trainer! Seriously. I forgot I was clipped in, as I tried to climb off to greedily gobble up those delicious words again.

Let’s be clear. I understand that, as of this moment, this doesn’t mean my book will be published. But this event is still magnanimous, as I won’t ever forget the literary agent who gave me that gift of optimism. (I may surely share her name at some point in the future, but I won’t put that pressure on her today.) She will always be my first non-rejection hopeful response – the person (beyond those who already loved me) to say that my project had enough value to earn her attention. It was a mountain-top experience, to be certain!

And I surely yearn for mountain-top experiences. Admittedly, I’ve had some colder-weather ones lately; but this photo from Grandfather Mountain this past July (in near 100-degree heat) best brings the appropriate words to mind when it comes to climbing on toward your challenge:

mountaintop

So how have your fires of optimism been fueled lately?