Friday, December 23, 2011

Good Tiding To You All!

"...And with true love
Each other now embrace;
this holy tide of Christmas
Doth bring redeeming grace"

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

One Hundred One

In May she will be 102.

But she fell Saturday and then again Sunday. She is now in the hospital, speaking to my grandfather that passed away 16 years ago. She thinks the son that is alive is dead...her mind is skewed.

She has been living on her own, limited sight and little appetite and not much ability to get around. 1600 miles away, we hear two different stories as to why she is still living on her own. But family dynamics make knowing the truth a hurdle too large to attempt. The divide has been too great. To question is taboo.

My son looked at me, when I smiled and pushed back the tears, and asked, "are you sad, mom?" (with a puzzled look). I found it hard to explain to him something he has yet to experience. Something I have not experienced much. How do you explain that while I do not wish for my grandother to suffer, while I realize she cannot do anything that she once loved and while the idea of sitting listening to a tv all day, by herself, is depressing, there is still sadness at the prospect of death.  I finally came to the realization that the saddness is wrapped up in a chapter closing. A final chapter in her book. At least this volume.

In my case, it is sad that family relations were what they were, and are, but I don't take on those regrets with quilt, because our family dynamics are shared by every member. And try as one might, many situations are going to be what they are going to be and we learn to find the little treasures of enjoyment where they may be.

I managed to call and catch my grandma home and awake a few months ago. It was the most pleasant conversation we had had in a while. Not the practiced safe topics conversations, but in this one, she seemed truly delighted and giddy. She laughed and talked away unabandoned. I treasure that conversation. Last week my Aunt sent out Christmas cards for my grandma. A picture of her now and picture of her as a young adult. One of my favorite pictures of my grandmother when she was young. I sent a card sharing the memories that that peice of mail brought back , sitting on the floor with her looking through all her pictures, over and over...I hope it did arrive last week as it should have.

This morning we are waiting to hear from family how the night went. I can't say there is not anxiety in the wait, and tears at the thought of her waking up confused, somewhere with unfamiliar sounds and smells and shadows and with people that she does not know. Then again, she might wake this morning in glory...all troubles erased, all pains eased and all at peace.

Update:  Strong heart keeps one going... Longevity is intriguing  . . .

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thematic Photo 174: Seeing Red

And the photo theme this week is RED... wanna join in the fun?

I see red

In the sea

and over yonder in the tree

(enlarge to see the red across the water)

I see red
behind a fence

In the sky
and even
while someone sends a text

There is red in being silly

and some more red in Philly

Red encased in ice

and on a back wall when I raised my eyes...

On the ground
and in the excitement of a crowd
...on the road? under a roof?
 Finding red didn't make me fuss, I even found it on the front of a bus

And if we may, a glass of red at the end of the day

 The End


Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Week Two - Peace

The Nativity Carnival hosted by Kerry - Thank you!

Peace… Or at least at our church, that is the order we are following. While visiting around the Nativity Carnival and various sites, I have noticed that not all follow the same order of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. I like that they do not. It helps to remind me not to become to rigid in the process, which would in turn, take the focus from what I am desiring to focus on.

Peace during this month is a concept that cracks me up, with all the seasons hurry, scurry of activities and demands. But, when I become still; when I focus on God, on the amazing, on the mysterious, on the gift, that feeling of peace comes over me.

I can honestly say, I have been a pendulum with that in the past few days. I suppose a pendulum is better than being stuck on the frantic, bah hum bug, that I have, in the past, arrived at.

Last week, I finished up Traveler’s gift box. I do not have a good track record of gifting Traveler with gifts that meet expectations. I decided to add a count down toChristmas, and the idea stuck to me like cooked sticky white rice. I really wanted to do an Advent/ count down to place in her box. Something to maybe keep Christmas in her world in a way that might be unique and add a daily gift. A little bit of home in her new home.

A Christmas Tree.

Some Garland.

A few goodies to open through out the month.

An Advent Countdown.

Bits of fun. Bits of scripture. Bits of service.

I hope she likes it, it should arrive today. But, back to the peace, I won’t allow myself to worry about the reception the box receives. I will focus on the One I need to be focused on and be at peace.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled,
and do not let them be afraid."

-- John 14:27

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thematic Photographic 173: Flash of Color

The Host, Carmi at Written Inc.

Flash of Color makes me think of brightness in maybe a not so bright this case fall.  Last November I tagged along with Hubs to Houston. While he went to class, I played. As I got lost one day (sorta) I had turned to head back into downtown Houston, and too see if I could figure out their China Town. As I approached a traffic light I noticed some art to the right.

With the silver grey skyline behind it. All the pavement. The grey skies and the silver/grey cars...well this was a flash of color and I had to snap a picture. Unique considering all of its surroundings.

(do click on the picture to make it bigger and see Ms Green vogueing)

While in Texas, we also hit a couple Mexican restaurants. In one, color was everywhere!

So here is the second Flash of Color ...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

An Early Gift

The other night, as I was surfing through various blogs about Advent, Demolition D came in to sit and talk. I am so enjoying the times he sits and visits – it is so nice.

As he talked he brought up Christmas, planning and then talking about Christmases past. His girlfriend is the daughter of two doctors. Her world and our world are different. I would imagine, at another time in history, she would not have been allowed to date my child – being from different economic worlds. But they have now dated over 2 years, and from my perspective, the only issues that have arisen from the financial differences is the sometimes flack Demolition D has given me.
As he was talking, though, he said, “The way they do Christmas and the way we do is so different.”
I responded with an, “oh?”
Demo D, “yes, they are really different, but you know, I like our way better…”
Me, “and why is that” (I don’t make my questions too very long)
Demo D, “well they get ALL these presents, like 20 from her mom, then 20 from her dad, and then the grandparents (20 is probably a little of an embellishment). It is all about the presents. We get presents and all, but there is more to our Christmas then that. Their’s is so material.”
Me, “you really think so?”
We went on talking about gift giving and some of the issues that arise and ways to simplify and yet be thoughtful, when he again brought up last Christmas, “like last year when Carrots (fake name) asked what I wanted for Christmas. I didn’t really want anything, and some of what I would have liked was not the type of stuff you ask other people for.”
“So I told her just make me something. Just do something creative. Her and Peas (fake name, and Carrots son ;)) made that Star ornament for me. I have it still hanging on my bulletin board. I think it was one of the best Christmas presents I got last year. I don’t think I will ever get rid of that gift.”
So as I had been reading about Advent traditions, and wondering what traditions we could add to add back that magical feel of Christmas, I was given an early Christmas gift. It seems maybe I didn’t miss the mark after all…

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
Matthew 2:9

(not my image...)

Enjoy more stories, recipes, traditions...more Advent at Kerry's Nativity Carnival (and link up your traditions too!)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nary A Lump . . .

I received this email and just had to share!
Hope all have had a great day and made sweet memories . . .

Twas the night of thanksgiving,
But i just couldn't sleep.
I tried counting backwards,
I tried counting sheep.

The leftovers beckoned -
The dark meat and white,
But i fought the temptation
With all of my might.

Tossing and turning with anticipation,
The thought of a snack became infatuation.
So, i raced to the kitchen, flung open the door, and gazed at the fridge, full of goodies galore.
Gobbled up  turkey  and buttered potatoes, pickles and carrots, beans and tomatoes.

I felt myself swelling so plump and so round, 'til all of a sudden, i rose off the ground.
I crashed through the ceiling, floating into the sky, with a mouthful of pudding and a handful of pie.
But, i managed to yell as i soared past the trees....
Happy eating to all - pass the cranberries, please.

May your stuffing be tasty,
May your  turkey  be plump.
May your potatoes 'n gravy have nary a lump.
May your yams be delicious.
May your pies take the prize,
May your thanksgiving dinner stay off of your thighs!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Yes, The Week of Gratitude and Thanksgiving

I would have to say, the mellowness of this song does not match my feelings, but I love it!
I enjoy the shades of color and feelings gratitude can take on. I think mine, this year, matches the bright
oranges, yellows and reds of all the leaves.

I am thankful for the color that has lasted so long,
and for the rain, so desperately needed, that will
wash the colors down and away.

I am thankful for all that we always give thanks for this time of year:
family, friends, jobs, homes and food on the table.

But I have had fun this week, trying to be thankful in all things,
to take in the world around me a little more.

I have not been completely successful, but I have succeeded also.

Yesterday, I had such a simple experience, but yet it was joyful too.
As I pumped gas, having noticed a couple gas stations .10 lower than
the stations near home (thankful), a lady on the other side asked me
how far to the interstate. I had to think, and am not sure how right I was,
but she was thankful when I said 20-25 miles, she said she was tired.
I noticed then, the tag on her car. Oregon. Oregon to south Georgia??
So I asked about the distance she had traveled, and she shared some of her
story(thankful). She retired in September, and had been on the road since October.
Making her way to a family members home, in Florida, for Thanksgiving.
She had zig zagged her way, by herself, across the states, and now was
less than a day away.

She said she was visiting the relative and then going to Peru. I took a chance,
and hoped I was not intruding, and asked about Peru. She wants to live
in South America for awhile.  She named a couple places she is considering,
knowing which were open in heart and soul, to accepting "outsiders."

It was a quick conversation, but she made me smile. I am thankful for those
that can step away from what they know and enter adventures such as that.
I am thankful for the independence and courage that some possess and inspire
the rest of us, who may not have it. I am thankful that she shared a snippet of her
story with a complete stranger. Because I loved her adventure...funny how something
so simple and not necessarily out of the normal can bring enjoyment.

There were many more "thankful moments" yesterday, and the day before, and
the day before that. I am sure there will be plenty today... I just hope to remember
to breath deep and take them in and keep my savoring for those moments,
more than for the pies and cakes and casseroles tomorrow...

Happy Thanksgiving To You All!!

"And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
Colossians 3:17

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Growing up, I had never heard the term Advent.
I was completely grown and had experienced the Christmas season in several different churches. Yet, advent was not a part of any of them.  And I really don’t know the history behind it. Is an advent calendar the same or is it different than counting down to Christmas?
I don’t know if this tradition is exclusive to just a few denominations, the church I attend has included this tradition in every Christmas season that I have attended (8 years), or not, but it seems like I see more and more on it.
So this year, I am learning more. I am seeking to see if a tradition can be added to our personal experience during the Christmas season, rather than just Sundays with the lighting of the candles. And I have to say, this has been an interesting topic.
Turns out the season of Advent goes back to the early church, 1st and 2nd century. While an exact date is not actually known, the traditions can be traced back to this time.  Early Christian's focus during this season was:
  • Remember the coming of the Son of God to earth in human form as a babe in the manger
  • The coming of Jesus into the lives and hearts and actions of those that accepted Him as their Savior
  • The future coming when Jesus will return to the earth as a king - "O come, O come, Emmanuel
Many traditions have evolved over the centuries, in various regions, that aided in keeping the reason for the season, the reason. At the same time, most Western Churches ceased to practice or observe the tradition, thus the reason for this seeming so foreign to me - I had attended those that did not.  While the church I attend now does, I came in not at the beginning of a new tradition but one that was already established and one that I did not fully understand. I thought it was just something unique and creative to this church, not knowing it was set in a very long tradition for many Christians.

Candles and wreaths and calendars...I did have a calendar growing up, and I do remember the paper chains. I don't remember them having any symbolism beyond a day closer to the receiving of gifts and the jolly, rosy cheeked chap that would sneak in during the night to leave wonderful things kids dream of.

But now, I wish I had known more about the season of Advent as Advent. I wish so many churches had not turned away from the Advent tradition. What a great way to guide families through the hustle and bustle of the season while showing clearly where the joy, anticipation, caring, and giving (not necessarily materially, not necessarily not) should be centered.

Searching through the stories and traditions is giving me what I needed this season. A lighted path to what I hope to add to our Christmas season days over the next month.

Do you observe Advent? Do you have a personal tradition that is considered an Advent tradition?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - Trees

Through the Woods

I have embarked on a journey.
A slow one. I am not very far from the warmth of what I know.
My journey is taking me away from what has been the norm for Christmas celebrations.
It is slow because I just don’t know how to maneuver my way to this new destination I so desire. At the same time, there is much of what I know that I do not want to leave behind. The lights. The wrappings. The colors. The sounds. Ahhhh So sometimes the journey seems to hit a wall.
Several weeks ago I was hit with how close the Christmas season was. Dread washed over me. I have kept the decorations somewhat simple the past couple years.
But that is not where the drain is.
I hear that Christmas music has already started. But I have not tuned in, yet. See I like Christmas music. That is not the drain.
I noticed Hallmark Channel begins its holiday marathon on Christmas movies on November 5th (might be sooner, that is just the first one I NOTICED). I have to say I truly enjoyed all the new movies Hallmark had on last year. But I will not tune in quite yet. Again, not really the drain.
The drain has come from many years of trying to meet that expectation that sometimes comes with the season. The gifts!
Disappointment from others has added its barb. Somehow the idea that Christmas is about meeting a wish list has trumped the real joy of giving: being simple and thoughtful.  I too have inflicted a few barbs on myself. How do you gift someone who has so much? Or how do you gift someone that buys what they need when they need it? Or once I decide, I second guess whether they will like it. Do you gift them by donating to those who really do have a need? Not necessarily…
Then there is the whole focus of the season. The commercial aspect has become the major vein of the season. And I have perpetrated that version year after year after year. I want to celebrate Christmas to share the joy of the God I so believe in. That has given so much to me. That has so much to give everyone.
So the spot I found myself in last year and again this year is, how do you give, spread joy and most importantly, share the Good News! (and keep the fun magical aspects of it: decorations, wrappings, visits, good food).
Last year I did take one initial step: No one is to ask me what I want. My feelings on this is: if creativity and simplicity fail to elicit a fun or simple or heartfelt gift, please, by all means, make a donation to a charity in my name! I really have all I need and I don’t really want for anything. I don’t wish for anyone to buy something for me for the sake of buying something. And definitely no store gift cards. I think those are great for young adults who are setting out on their own or on a tight budget. But if we are all going to just be exchanging gift cards, let’s end this and keep our own money and make a donation.
This year I remain adamant: if you have to ask, please skip me.
While I was dreading all this way too early, I did start buying. And wrapping.   Ok,  ok, ok.  That sounds a little silly so early, but it was the best thing I could have decided for my mood.
With Traveler now living in another state. Her gifts will be mailed. Last year was the first, and we saw a great appreciation for the thought behind the gift. For the gifts from those far away. The gifts were not elaborate.  The Man wrapped up a dozen Cow Tails, since that is one of her favorite candies. Gloves, an ice scraper, a gas card. Other family members placed items in the box. She really seemed to appreciate the box. The appreciation was much different and much more sincere then Christmases in the past.
So this year, I have bought a small counter top size tree, a string of lights and garland, and we will add a few more goodies to the box. We had to “build” a box to fit – and that is done. And full of Christmas glitter. More little wrapped goodies will be added and the box will be sent the first week of December. This did wonders for my attitude! The excitement and fun of putting together a goodie box: fabulous.  It has taken away from my Bah Hum Bug mood and I am having so much fun! The proven: giving is best.

But I am still wanting to find a way to make Christmas about more than the gift hunt and gift receiving. I want to get the focus more about the wonders of God and his provisions and love and expressing that to others. How do you do that when your kids are about grown (or grown)?  What can be added into the routine that will begin to feel normal and not be a trying too hard move?
Which leads me to: what traditions or what new activities do you have that ease this hectic season? That balance the expectation with the peace? The giving with the receiving? The reaching beyond our own little world? How do you put it all together so all can be magical?

Can't wait to hear . . .

Thursday, November 3, 2011


I forgot to mention in the last post, in addition to the butterflys, there were Eagle nest in several spots.

While I watched as much for an eagle as I did the squirrel, we were either late or still too early for the migration. But the picture above, in the distance, in the top of the tree in the center, no leaves but there sat the nest.
Have you ever wondered about signs? That one above caught my eye. Not that I have not seen Handicap Parking signs EVERYWHERE! But it was the fine that caught my attention. $138.50? I asked the park ranger about how the fee was determined. Naturally, he did not know, since it was decided by others. But really, $138.50? Why not $140? or better yet, just make it an easy $150...
If you look closely you can see the ripples on the water. The wind was amazing! You could walk 100 feet from the water and there was virtually no wind at all. The sun was quite warm and shorts and tanks were needed. But walk near the water? A jacket was needed to help keep warm. At one point, on the river this one runs into, it was whitecapping to the point, it looked like a mini ocean.

(dates are all wrong, not sure what my son's camera is set on)

The area was just right for several kinds of fishing. The gentleman above was a volunteer from Alabama,  volunteering 30 hours a year to this particular park. He was resetting the crab trap, he had caught over 20 at that point. I am sure a great dinner was had by all the volunteers when he fed them.

The area, if you are skillful enough, was an inland spot for catching shrimp too. Will and The Man tried this, I think, but no luck. But to take a trip with a teenager and see smiles? That is worth a ship full of shrimp!

Now the grin here? Well see those two shirts in the background? Well, one he wore the day we left. The other was the only other shirt he packed! Luckily as he search his backpack, he had not thoroughly cleaned it out and found this wonderful camo outfit (Ha!). Annnnd, he learned how to wash his shirts by hand! Who says we weren't roughing it...some.

After fishing from the kayak and The Man casting the net from the dock, the final catch was:
1 Eel (catch and release plan ;))
3 catfish
3 mullett

Time to grub. Well, actually time to clean fish first!

If you are looking for a spot to camp in the Panhandle area, this one was great! Now, I am not sure I would want to take this on between May and August, but fall, winter and spring should be just right!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Photo Adventures, Oakland Cemetery

Last December I gave myself a gift from husband (you follow that right?) . It was a voucher to learn more about photography and my camera with a company called Southeast Photo Adventures.

Well somehow, this year has flown by FAST, not unlike the past decade of them. But I found myself running out of time to use my voucher. I picked a couple dates and a couple classes, expecting them to be possibly full. 

The dates I picked were not full. In fact I was the only one trying to register for them. And if it came time for the class and I was the only one, the class would be cancelled. BUT, there was a class that Sunday (Oct 23) I could join.  This was on Saturday. October 22. The day before. Not a big deal, except this was in Atlanta. I live over a 150 miles south of Atlanta. That makes it a 3 hour trip there. A three hour trip back. 

What to do, what to do. Shoot, all the things that are left undone will still be undone and the world will not end. And then again, if it does, oh well!

So on Sunday, after church, I headed off to Atlanta. This photo adventure would be a hands on experience in the Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta. A definite adventure.

I had taken a few minutes to Google the Cemetery and found out it is a happening place. There tours and special  events all the time. The day before there had a been a "run like heck" marathon or half marathon. The weekend before, there had  been a benefit walk with a zombie theme.

As we entered the cemetery I was amazed at all the folks sporting high tech cameras, many shooting at the same spot. Not sure if it too was a class or a modeling agency - do they have a multitude of photographers for one shoot?

As we made our way through the cemetery, I enjoyed what I always enjoy about the big cities:
 the rustic and modern colliding.  To the left of the picture below was the Marta system and downtown skyscrapers. I love the crooked headstones and brick building in the back and the old rusted water tower. 

And still, seeing those in costume roam the lanes in and out and the photographers, well, all seemed somewhat surreal too!

While I was being taught about my camera, and instructed  about lighting and angels and polorized lenses.

I realized an afternoon with a guide through this history would be amazing. I can only begin to imagine the stories behind many of these tombstones. The above, of the girl angel, was a part of a pair of tombstones. The other was her brother, my picture of him did not turn out well - the sky lovely, he, a little blurred. And a broken wing.

I imagine hearing the stories would be like stepping back in time. As we entered the Jewish burial ground, three ladies walked by. I don't believe it was three generations represented, but possibly. Completely based on assumption, I assumed they were on their way to pay their respects to the memory of a loved one. Their shoes, their stockings, their coats - everything had a vintage appeal to it. But nothing about them seemed to be part of the halloween costumed clan that we had been seeing frequently.

While at certain moments I almost felt bad enjoying taking pictures in the cemetery, I knew no disrespect was intended. And having made the journey back home, I am thinking this might just be a trip with hubs one day. The instructor, Travis, shared a few stories as we made our way through. Stories he had learned from books he had purchased after his curiosity was piqued. I have visited the website again, and there are now cell phone guided tours (cool!). There are music events. Stories of love, of politics, of religion, of pride, of family, of evil. It is all there. And there is one section that, I imagine, is absolutely beautiful in the spring. Might just give the botanical gardens a run for their money.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ochlockonee River State Park: A Quick Fall Trip

I can't believe November is here, knocking at the door!

And I can't believe how busy and all the quick trips that we have accomplished...

One of the latest? Fall break and a camping and kayaking and resting  all rolled up into one neatly packaged trip. Fewer hiccups in this camping trip than the one in June. Yay!

This time, it was a two car trip. The Man driving me and one kayak in the van. Will following with our Tin Can and the Kayak.  I wasn't quick enough to click some of the more intersting sites on the road, but a gas station stop did let me check out this very PINK car. I just don't think I could ride around in a Barbie Doll pink car, even when I absolutely adored Barbies ...

Ochlockonee River State Park was a new site for us. We have headed North for years now, but for this trip we headed South. South of Tallahasee to check this campground out. 

We set up the tin the can and started unloading. This time, we tried something new - without a screen on the the front window, it makes a great portal for placing one of the kayaks (I do believe both would fit).

In reading about the area, I learned that just a bit futher south , is a site called Bald Pointe State Park. In the fall that  area finds itself the stopping ground for Bald Eagles and Butterflies. While we did not make it to that park, I did find butterflies in abundance where we were stopped.

But this park too, had its drawing points, nicely sitting between two rivers, salt water rivers, which rose and fell with the tide (the Gulf of Mexico but a  few mile away),

it is also home to white squirrels. They are not albino squirrels, but truly white squirrels

So I found myself watching right off the bat for these pale rodents.

and he was spotted!

I love the "short" twisted trees. Twist created by wind and natures elements.


... Purples and


He had an itch!

Kayaking: Wind plus Kayaks = Quite a workout.


I suppose that is all for now... I do have more to share, but I will save that for another day!

In the meantime . . .


Guess he wanted a bath...notice the soap ;)