Skip to content

surface tension

January 18, 2013

one morning this week daylight was late in arriving.

a low cloud cover was  thick and gray

and the light that filtered through so weak

that colors were late to bloom.

the indigo kimonos hanging on my bedroom walls

remained a dull slate two full hours past sunrise.


i was swimming in a sea of monochromia,

trapped in a roll of film from the 1940’s

and feeling strangely disoriented,

distanced from my world of vibrant colors.


it takes light to discern colors.

an object will absorb all colors of the spectrum but the one it reflects,

which is the color that we “see” when we look at that object.

in the absence of sufficient light our eyes discern only shadows.


I find science intriguing.

this was not always so.

in fact, it wasn’t until I was a non-traditional age student

finishing my undergraduate work

that i took an elementary science methods course

and the light burst forth in all its glory!

everything that i had struggled with—

biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, meteorology—

suddenly made sense in a way that fascinated me.

the fascination continues to this day,

especially when i encounter situations in everyday life

that benefit from a little understanding.

pouring my morning coffee the other day

it was just a little too strong

and I added just a little more cream…

a little too much cream, i realized,

as the level of liquid pooled over the edge of the mug,

held in place only by surface tension.

hoping to take a sip before it spilled,

i leaned in fast enough to see close-up

the point where surface tension gave way

and the lines of cream floating on the surface

rush to make their escape over the edge.

grabbing the sponge and lifting the mug to wipe up the spill

i was surprised to notice that there was no liquid under the mug—

in a scientific experiment that i could not replicate

the spilled coffee had come in contact with a paring knife on the counter

and, forming a new bond, lay pooled beneath the edge of the knife’s handle.

i like to think that it’s a sense of

curiosity and wonder that kept irritation at bay

over the matter of spilled coffee,

but it just may be another benefit of retirement.

the idea of surface tension stayed in the back of my mind all day,

although now developing well beyond the limitations

of the molecular bonds of liquids.

(welcome to my mind and its inclination towards tangential thinking.)


in the past couple of weeks i have made a point

to spend time with people important to me,

and i begin to realize that for decades i have borne my own

form of surface tension, a fragile suspension of time

held tenuously in place to let no more in or out

than my delicate sense of balance would allow.

admittedly, that’s my (former) personality with its

rigid adherence to perfection (snort.), but with a job


and a marriage


and a family

denver wedding photographer

and continuing education


and horses



and art interests


and photography


and a house


and a yard


and travel


and a desire to write


and and and…  well,

it seems as if perhaps there was a sin of omission in

the relationship and friendship departments.

and i’d like to say i’m sorry,

to apologize for my inability to capably juggle

the number of balls that were in the air.

and to those of you who have remained at my side

throughout the wild and sometimes bumpy ride—

an astonishing number of you, i delightedly find–

i tip my hat to your commitment and dedication

and thank you profusely.

let’s get together for coffee.

retirement, even in its early stages,

is yielding benefits i could only have dreamed of…

including the restoration of relationships…

along with my deep sense of wonder.


my elementary science methods professor would be so proud.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. January 18, 2013 4:55 am

    that took much thinking and much writing.
    the concept wound its way through and became quite metaphorical.
    all those photos….every one of them gave me pause and study [you know i’m going to say this >>] especially the horse photos.


    • sassysistersink permalink*
      January 18, 2013 5:00 am

      yes, the concept wouldn’t leave me alone until i got it written.
      sometimes things like that just keep growing and i have to tame them.
      as for the horse photos, those are my two newest canvases of the babies–
      part of the retirement gift from my staff.
      *love* them– and i’m glad you liked them!

  2. Mary Harte permalink
    January 18, 2013 7:11 am

    Love this and love you!


    • sassysistersink permalink*
      January 18, 2013 2:47 pm

      love you, too!
      come see me!

  3. Jenny permalink
    January 18, 2013 5:39 pm

    I like this. A lot. I am so glad I live close enough to be near retired you.

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      January 18, 2013 6:48 pm

      yes, this is working out rather splendidly, isn’t it?!
      want to come over and grab a shovel????
      😉 xoxo

  4. Tara Chesler permalink
    January 25, 2013 1:13 am

    Very well said, as always! 🙂 I soooo much enjoyed our afternoon last week! I can’t wait to see you in the VERY near future. The kids in my class were in complete wonder and interest (metallic paper!) about our new art piece in our classroom. You are still inspiring kids, even though you’re retired! 🙂

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      January 25, 2013 1:27 am

      oh, tara– thank you!! i LOVED our time together. yes, let’s do it again VERY soon!

  5. February 15, 2013 9:26 pm

    Writing serendipity: I just finished a post that is something of an explanation/apology/hope-you’ll-stay-on-the-journey-with me plea about how *I* am having trouble juggling everything in my life right now (actually, for a couple of years now)–and it’s a much smaller set of juggling balls than yours, and of course I’m coping in my own way, but still… This is the first thing I read here today, and it spoke to me so deeply. Thank you.

    • sassysistersink permalink*
      February 16, 2013 5:09 am

      amy, i’m glad that this message resonated in you. i have stayed with you and you need to know that. i’m happy to see you blogging again, certainly because i enjoy reading what you write but also because i know how important it is to remain connected! thanks for sticking with me!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: