Thursday, December 22, 2016

Letter to Ken

While I was on the ship in the Southern Ocean waiting to come home and say good-bye to Ken, I was keeping a little journal.  This morning - December 22, 2016 I thought I would put a blog post of one of my entries written on Saturday, November 5, 2016 - nine days after Ken died.

Ken,  It's the second last day of the trip.  I am here in our little three person cabin.  We finished photographing the Falkland Islands yesterday.  The blue eyed Shags - Cormorants were magnificent.  They were building their nests and courting and flying directly over our heads.  The Rock Hopper Penguins were there in the rocks - just as cute as they could be.  And the Albatross - oh the magnificent Black-Browed Albatross.  My pictures are O.K.  All these great photographers here make mine look pretty weak, but it's great to have such expertise all around.

Here I am without you for the first time in 23 years.  When I met you 23 years ago ASTM was giving me my anchor.  Although I was having a rough time with ISR (Institute for Standards Research.)  You came roaring into my life.  You were very - I don't know - smart.  You had a great brain.  Very organized - set in your ways - disciplined.  You were very kind and had great values.  Hard working to the nth degree.

I'm not sure what attracted you to me, but you were.  I was very attracted to you.  I loved your looks, your face, your hair, your eyes, your legs, your calves.  I loved that you loved to run and to cook and to keep your things neat and tidy.  I loved that you were a saver and not a spender.  I loved that you were a great listener.  You didn't talk too much.  You engaged me in a way that you got to know me - the real me - inside and out.

We fit together well.  I always loved you.  I always wanted to be with you.  Always wanted your approval.  You grounded me.  Kept me on the straight and narrow.  I calmed down immensely after we got together.  No more wild drinking or smoking.  We had a very good life together, good jobs, great house, and when Yumiko came a truly wonderful family.

And then in 2006 the Parkinson's Disease came.  It hit us square in the face.  Changed the trajectory of our lives completely.  But again - you were strong.  You helped me plan and execute a year in Japan.  We did the whole thing - getting our house ready for a year away.  Getting Yumiko's school situated (with Takae San's help.)  Then up and going.  Your Parkinson's was already affecting you a lot.  You had tremendous difficulty walking.

I found photography and just became obsessed with it.  Obsessed in a good way.  It gave me relief from the constant worry of watching you decline.

Ten years is a long, long time to be a caregiver to someone you totally love - Someone who certainly had vulnerability and weakness.  You expected a lot out of me Ken and I worked my tail off to keep us happy, keep us going.  I know inside you were proud of me - but because the disease consumed so much of you - you rarely let me know how much you appreciated me.

So now here I am in the Southern Ocean.  You've been gone for almost two weeks.  I've had to hold myself together and not been able to cry.  As it would be a mess here in front of all these strangers.

Dearest Julia D. is at our house - having done all the rescue work for us.  Cleaning house, making funeral arrangements, writing your obituary, making plans for Takae San and Masataka to come.

And so, I will be home in two days.  And I will pick myself up off the ground.  Get myself in good shape and live another 30 or 40 years happily ever after.

You made my life complete.  You made my life happy and rewarding.  You made my life hard.  But it was rich and good and worth every minute.

Thank you Ken Kono for being my Ken Kono.  I am so proud to have been your wife.  I love you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Just North of Antarctica

It is way past my time to get back to Valley Forge and start taking pictures again.  I finally pushed the button on my little book chronicling my trip to "Just North of Antarctica".  Here's a link:  It's a lot of fun.  Free to browse.  Go ahead take a look.  Be brave.  Click on the link.

Snooty Antarctic Fur Seal

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Albatross Love - Steeple Jason Island in the Falkland Islands

The Black Browed Albatross mate for life.  They mature at about three years old.  Then they do a little "dating" for a few years and then find their soul mate.  They can continue breeding into their mid thirties.  How about them apples!

Friday, December 2, 2016

King Penguins on Right Whale Bay

Taken from the top of Right Whale Bay.  Note the wounded penguin on the lower right.  They had been swimming in and out of the ocean and some were attacked by leopard seals.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Battle of the Elephant Seals

I was laying on the ground just clicking away at these GIANT elephant seals (weighing up to 8,000 pounds and 20 feet long).  They were battling it out for dominance over all the ladies in the harem.  Heart in my throat!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

King Penguins at Right Whale Bay on South Georgia Island in the Southern Ocean

Click photo and look closely and you can see penguins in the foreground, the middle ground and way back on the right - tiny faint little dots going up the foot of the mountain.  It was a dream.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

My Ken

It is hard to believe, but Ken Kono left this earth and flew to the heavens on October 26, 2016.  He was at peace and at rest.  My dear sister Julie was holding his hand.  He lived a full and extraordinary life.  I am so proud to have been his wife and friend for 23 short years.  Oh it was fun and full and rich and challenging.  A friend asked that I provide a link to his memoir again and here it is:
Oh! (Ken has) slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward he has climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things you have not dreamed of
 -- Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence.  Hovering there.
He has chased the shouting wind along, and flung
His eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
He's topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew--
And, while with silent lifting mind he's trod
The untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out his hand, and touched the face of God.
                                              --John Magee

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

All Packed and Ready to Go

Tomorrow afternoon I take off for a two and 1/2 week adventure to Antarctica.  My wonderful sister Julie, my best friend Carol Scafuro, and our spectacular daughter Yumiko will be here at home with Ken and the caregivers taking turns to keep the home fires burning.  Hope, hope, hope all is calm here and the camera bodies and batteries don't freeze or fall in the water there.  I'll be back just as the polls open with hopefully lots of fun pictures of penguins and sea lions and albatross and icebergs.  See you then.