hobbies

Entering our house with fresh eyes you may notice a few things that the regular inhabitant has taken for granted. There’s a piano against one wall, a couple of African drums, a violin and music stand. All of these things fit within the small living room with the big window opening onto our xeriscaped but lush yard. In a glass cabinet are a variety of glasses, coasters celebrating various brews, as well as a hydrometer for the craft of brewing one’s own. You’ll also see a few books, the compilation of poetry and a shelf full of materials that date back to Karyn’s English major and thesis writing. Most amusing to me, right now you’ll find the books “Knitted Lace of Estonia” and “Beautiful Sheep” sitting out on end tables. I’ve joked how I’m so happy we have the record of Estonia’s lace, because the lace of the Czech Republic just doesn’t do it for me. For Eastern European woolen crafts, Estonia is the place to go.* And,while the sheep pictured in that volume really, truly are beautiful, it’s still an odd selection to see sitting on someone’s end table. It all begins to make more sense if you turn to the wall you’ve yet to take in and see the baskets of yarn, a mantle with spools and balls of the wooly stuff, and very likely a knitter will be sitting there, needles blazing on some project.

It’s interesting that our hobbies display themselves in one small front room. You can probably get a good feel for the things we like to do (and admit to doing) just by spying in our front window, while standing in the yard we’re so proud of. Taking this all in, you might neglect to realize that Karyn’s other gift is on the wall, facing you as you came in. Framed in black and matted with white to focus your eyes, the sharp grays of these images that Karyn’s taken show the girls in various stages and poses. She updates these about every year, leaving a few as legacy images. And they’re all marvelous. It’s spectacular beyond words to have images of your own children that qualify as art.

One oddity about having a photographer in the house is that often we’ll find more of her work in others’ homes than in our own. It’s beautiful to see these things. Similarly, you can peer through the work that Karyn’s done for others (and even order prints for yourself of other people’s children if you really wanted to) on a webpage that’s continued to amass images of clients and friends and children, and even a few of ourselves. Yet, I don’t think she always appreciates exactly what she’s produced. It’s that much more remarkable given the fact that Karyn is mostly blind. This might seem like an exaggeration, but really, take her glasses off and she’d never make it. Evolutionary rules would have had her eaten by another mammal or fallen from a cliff long ago if it weren’t for these optical aides. It’s even more remarkable that she drops drops in one eye and has had the other eye cut into twice, all just to keep the vision that she has, making sure the small grapes don’t squeeze too hard from the inside out. Squinting one eye and opening the other strains them more than usual ever since the surgeries, and after photo shoots she comes home with a matter-of-fact headache.

What I’ve been promising her (somewhat) and myself (mostly) for the last several months is to update the portfolio on her webpage, containing both recent work and pre-surgery images. As soon as she finds this, she’ll have others to add and there are still some formatting things to do** and probably it will all change. Still, whatever changes are yet to come, this is an amazing compilation. While Karyn was gone most of this afternoon, I got to pull these out of folders and try to find ways to fit them on screens and page through them; and every time I look at these it’s a surprising gift: seeing lives — sometimes even my own — in ways I never would have otherwise. In particular, I get to see through the very extraordinary and remarkable eyes of my spouse. In spite of what troubles she’s had with them, her eyes continue to have a way of seeing and capturing things that the world would otherwise be without.

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*This also gives me the giggles because about a year ago our campus I.T. person was comparing our computer troubles to Estonia’s. “At least we’re not as bad off as Estonia,” we cried, taking delight in the absurdity of the comparison.

** I’m having a hard time organizing the various submenus and thumbnails right now for small screens, but I’ll fix this.

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