All posts by Sunny Bridge

I love travel, seeing and photographing new places, meeting new people, learning languages (focusing on French for the past few years).

Welcome, Brooks!

Brooks – 10 February 2022 – Photo  credit:  Amber Hall

Brooks Ellis Johnson was born 2.02.2022 as predicted, weighing 8 lbs. 11.5 oz. and measuring 21 inches long. He was definitely making himself at home in the womb, but it was time to come out and meet the family, so with just a little medical encouragement, he did.

Brooks – 10 February 2022 – Photo credit: Amber Hall

Beckett suddenly looks so grown up!

Beckett and Brooks – 10 February 2022 – Photo credit: Amber Hall

Chelsea and Brian have a lot going on right now. In addition to wrangling an active toddler, while managing two full-time busy careers, as well as the round-the-clock care a newborn requires, they just sold their house and are in the middle of building another. Their realtor kindly gifted them with a newborn photo shoot with her niece: Amber Hall of Rustic and Roses Photography. All the best shots in this post are hers, not gonna lie!

Brooks – 10 February 2022 – Photo credit: Amber Hall

I was on call for Beckett duty, so I stayed over there from the 1st until they came home on the 3rd, and it was a blast. We colored and played with Play-Doh and read piles of books. There was a raging snowstorm and absolutely frigid temperatures, so we didn’t venture outside at all. Beckett got his energy out by jumping on beds and couches and into a foam pit full of pillows and by chasing the dogs around the house. I . . . supervised. My energy, I can assure you, was adequately utilized without jumping on anything at all.

I’ve started teaching Beckett a little French, so we made a few tiny videos. Here’s one where I asked him to say, “Bonjour, Natacha” to send to my French tutor and friend: He actually can pronounce it all better than that now, and we made one to send to Pascale, too, that at least had the “bonjour” part enunciated better. Still,  I adore this video so thought I’d share it with you.

Then when Chelsea sent us a funny, grumpy-face photo of Brooks, less than 24-hours old, we decided to do  our own photo shoot–quick snaps with my phone–of various Beckett expressions:

So, Brooks, welcome! Yes, life can get hard. Even the grumpiest expression may be warranted every now and then. But I promise, sometimes it’s super fun. Either way, you are loved already!

 

Waiting

I know I’m not the only one waiting right now. Maybe if you can look at clocks this beautiful, even if only in photos, it won’t be so bad.

Musée d’Orsay – Paris

I imagine we’re all waiting for something — for the days to get longer, the weather to improve, for something long-backordered to finally arrive, for the news to be less depressing, for the pandemic to loosen its grip on our lives. I hope you are also awaiting even better things than those, as I am — new classes to start, a new baby to arrive.

Here’s Beckett then and now. He’s awaiting a baby brother, expected VERY soon. I’ll keep you posted!

Christmas was also a bit of a waiting game. I went over to Chelsea and Brian’s on Christmas morning, which was relaxed and lovely, even though Beckett was not feeling fabulous. We had to delay our full family Christmas until the 31st, to accommodate  scheduling with other parts of everyone’s extended family. It was worth the wait. We ended up with a lovely white “Christmas” and the broken oven mentioned in the poem in last month’s post experienced a Christmas miracle and came back to life just long enough for us to bake Courtney’s delicious cinnamon rolls and later roast the beef tenderloin. Lots of games, lots of laughs, lots of love.

The long-awaited delivery of the new oven was postponed to January 3rd. Ugh. But it’s here now and even provides a little slide show of gorgeous nature photos behind the clock numbers. Not something I ever thought I needed, but it is beautiful, and is about all the nature I’m getting these days. I’m waiting for spring!

Jonquil, La Rochelle, France

If you’d like a bit more spring while you wait, click here and here and here.

Brittany got tired of waiting for her post-chemo hair growth to catch up with the remnants, and had most of it cut off. She now has a sassy new short cut, with healthy, thick, thriving hair, and best of all, her smile is back.

Brittany’s New Do – January 2022

She and I went to a cheese-making class this past Saturday. Super-fun and interesting. We came away with a small waxed cheese, about the size of a hockey puck, which we were ideally to store at 50 to 55  degrees to age for several months. Yes, more waiting. My wine fridge has an adjustable temperature setting, so I  increased it to 53 degrees, a choice the fridge apparently doesn’t like. Occasionally I hear an eerie, moan rising from below, as if something had taken to haunting the place. A bit creepy until I tracked down the source of the sound, not gonna lie! But still, I will wait.

So here’s wishing you patience and all good things in this new year. While you and I wait for . . . well . . .  whatever is to come, here’s a tiny, adorable video created by (granddaughter) Felicity. Thanks, Felicity! 

 

 

Advent Peace

Things got away from me at the end of November, when I would ordinarily have posted something, and even the beginning of December was packed. There were fun things, like a quick road trip to Minnesota. We saw this again on the way:

Carhenge, Alliance, Nebraska

We had no Sharpie, but Brittany managed to sign the one designated “signature” car:

We were headed to Shakopee to surprise Courtney (Jay’s idea) with an early 40th birthday celebration, although the big day is not until the 20th.

Courtney and Brittany – 4 December 2021

Chelsea didn’t have as much time off, but of course, she wouldn’t miss it, so flew in to join in the fun:

Chelsea and Courtney – 4 December 2021

So we were all together. Jay pulled it off. Courtney was completely surprised and nearly in tears when she saw us. Worth every mile to see her smile!

Then, both Brittany and Courtney had surgery on the 8th, but I’m happy to report both are recovering nicely, although it takes time.

Meanwhile at my house, all kinds of things were going wrong and needing attention or time or money or all three. Yikes. Here’s a poem I wrote around the time things were going haywire at an alarming pace: 

I’ll Admit I Have a Thing for Snow Globes

And yes, I did just willingly fork
over forty bucks for the privilege
of watching silver glitter flash
and swirl around a cockeyed
scene in ceramic—
a tiny steepled church,
leaning left, as I do,
dwarfed by three tall spruces,
green-painted branches tipped in white.

And yes, the oven needs replacing,
and the HOA is demanding
funds for a road,
and a window was broken
by landscapers who are not
happy to pay, no matter what they say,
and a blind won’t obey
when the button is pushed,
and the heat just kept heating
and blowing and burning,

pulling me from sleep,
waking to summer’s heat
on that cold winter night,
the night of the day where I paid
with funds needed elsewhere, I paid
to smile and stare
and pretend myself there,
in a sparkling, pristine,
beautifully serene,
miniature world.
My new snow globe

Of course, a snow globe can only do so much on the inner peace front, but things are getting done. The landscaper turned out only to be busy, not reluctant, and has paid me. Yay! Several other issues resolved with little or no expense, and suddenly here we are in Advent and it’s nearly Christmas.

Apparently I’m not the only one occasionally feeling a bit frazzled these days. I heard an ad the other day recommending Legos to adults as a source of peace, but if you’ve ever stepped on one barefoot, I doubt peace was the immediate result. 

Which brings us finally to the reason for the title: “Advent Peace.” (I know you were wondering.) I’ve been thinking about the four themes of Advent especially this year, because I was asked to write and present something for one of the four weeks, which include Hope, Faith, Joy, and Peace. If you know me at all, you know I’m a pro  worrier, so it may surprise you to hear I chose to write about peace.  Weirdly, wonderfully, supernaturally, I do often feel the peace of God, even in the midst of whatever is going on, even if it’s going wrong. He meets me where I am, if only I pay attention.

I’ll be presenting what I wrote (and lighting the candle–yes, they’re trusting me with fire) this Sunday, the 19th.  But if you won’t be there or watching online, here’s the shorter version–it’s already short:  The very best gift you could receive this Christmas is the transcendent peace of God, which he gives freely to anyone who asks. I hope you will. 

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a glorious New Year!

Peace

Color Therapy

October for me is always about color.

La Grosse Horloge, La Rochelle
Japanese Garden, Portland, Oregon
Le Marais Poitevin – May 2014
Sunset on St. Pete Beach – March 2015
Key West Sunset Cruise — February 2015

Fall foliage, especially, always feeds my soul somehow. As Brian Doyle used to say, “Nice work, there, God! Now you’re just showing off.”

Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire 2013

 I’ve also been enjoying color in a few of the classes I mentioned last month.  My first photography class with Eli Vega has started, and I’m loving it. He absolutely knows what to do with color. Check out his website here. Now I’m scrambling to get my technical skills up a bit to be able to even attempt some of the things he’s demonstrating. But until that happens, you can revisit a few of our more colorful adventures, like the Outer Banks and colorful Key West and the post about the maddening butterflies.

I’ve also started the “Loose Watercolor” class with Steve Griggs, another who knows his way around the color wheel. Check out his website here. One of the great things about that class is that it’s on Zoom, so NO ONE can see what I’m painting, or rather the mess I’m making, so it’s 100% stress-free. Super fun. 

The “Food and Culture” class with Chef Larry Canepa was only three weeks, so that one’s finished. Here’s his website, including recipes. Yay! His visual aids were a feast of color, especially yesterday, when he talked about herbs and spices. Reminded me of a great little restaurant we enjoyed in La Rochelle in 2017 with Tom and Lexi. I’m afraid his spice photos were way cooler than anything I have on hand, so you’ll have to use your imagination (or maybe stay tuned, if the photography class goes well). 

My life is very much about reading and writing, so literally black and white much of the time. I have to lift my eyes from the page to notice and appreciate all the color around me, but it’s worth it every time I do. 

Beckett appreciates his fall leaves in a slightly different manner.

Beckett enjoying the leaves – October 2021 – Photo credit: Jennifer Mosley (his nanny) 

What a great gift color is. I’ve tried to give you about as much of it as I can fit into one post, but I hope you get out and savor the real thing in nature, even if you, like Beckett, prefer rolling on the ground to unleash the full joy of the moment. Enjoy!