Thursday, October 20, 2016

Walking the Labyrinth

Back in August, I was on the west coast for work.  On my last evening there, I spent some time in a local quilt shop.  I still had several hours before I had to be at the airport for my red-eye flight home.   I had read about The Grotto in Portland, so I decided to visit.
The property was bought and developed as an answer to a promise Fr. Ambrose Mayer made as a young boy.   His mother was near death after giving birth to his sister.  He prayed for their survival and vowed to do a great work for the church.  He found a large plot of land that, with help, he purchased and built a tribute to Mary.  A large grotto was hewn out of the cliff left behind when the land was quarried by the Union Pacific Railroad for their rail beds.
An elevator ride to the top of the cliff leads to a second part of the property that was developed as parkland with areas for reflection and prayers.  There are areas dedicated to St. Joseph, the Rosary, the Stations of the Cross, various saints, and, of course, the Virgin Mary.
Tucked away in a secluded spot is a labyrinth.  Designed as a replica of the medieval labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral in France, this is supposed to offer an opportunity for meditation and contemplation as one walks to the center and back out again.

I have to admit I was a bit dubious about the whole thing.  It always seemed contrived and gimmicky, verging on new-agism, to me.  But, since I had time, and no one was around, I figured I would give it a try. 
I walked it slowly and deliberately, saying a few prayers, thanking God for productive trip and asking for a safe journey home.  I don't remember everything I thought about as I moved through it.  I had a few insights to some personal situations with which I have been struggling. 

For someone who is not good sitting in quiet prayer, I can see how the labyrinth could be helpful.  Moving through the path helped me quiet my mind.  I don't think I need a labyrinth to do that, though.  Our local parks provide an opportunity to walk, enjoy peaceful surroundings, and have prayer time with our Lord. 



Thursday, October 13, 2016

Funny Foto #19: Baby on Board?

Last week at lunchtime I made a quick stop at Home Depot.  As I got out of my car, I noticed the vehicle across from me not only had the yellow Baby on Board sign, the same message was on the license plate frame.
I was tempted to wait for the owner to come back.  I  wanted to find out if the very loud German Shepard or the Doberman that had laid down was "baby".

Monday, October 3, 2016

eighteen: Endearing and Enduring

Eighteen years ago I said I do.  I am not certain I grasped the full extent of that little phrase.  All I knew was that I was marrying the love of my life.  How little that love then is compared to what it is now!
We are frequently amazed that it has been, in fact, eighteen years.  It seems like yesterday and it seems like forever.  I don’t remember what life was like before him.  It’s as if he has always been a part of my life.
I love how we can know what the other is thinking with just a look, no words needed.  But when we do use our words, we  have our own jokes, our own “isms”, our own sayings.  Things that make us “us”.
We often say that we have both endearing qualities and enduring ones.  The endearing ones are the those traits that are sweet and kind and good.  They are the ones that probably attracted us to the other in the first place.  But, when one of us does some lame or annoying, we often joke “that’s just one of your enduring  qualities.”  It’s just something that we just put up with, probably not one of our best moments.
Although it wasn’t one of the readings at our nuptial mass, I reread one of the more popular wedding readings, 1 Corinthians 13, today. 
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.

It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

In a sermon, our pastor once suggested replacing the word “Love” with our own names.  I tried it and found that as I go through all those qualities that love is supposed to be, my tone changes.  They start out as statements but quickly turn to questions.  Am I patient, or kind?  Do I rejoice in the truth? 
Those are the qualities I see in Himself and the ones I hope he sees in me.  They are ones the are durable and lasting.  And, hopefully we'll have eighteen or twenty-eight or a whole lot more years together to work on our enduring qualities!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

TToT(18): It's Fall!

one:  It's Fall!!  I am certainly loving the weather that comes with it. 
two:  I finally am enjoying my gardens.  Other than watering them in the summer's heat, I didn't spend too much time in them this year.
three:  The new dahlias that we purchased and planted are doing well, at least two of them are.  We picked out three new ones, but the tubers of one just rotted in the ground.  The other two, however, are doing great as you can see below.
four:  The pot on the patio turned out great, if I must say so myself.  And, even better, it was cheap.  The only thing bought was the curly grass.  The ivy was started from a clipping of a house plant that I have.  The zinnia profusion was started from seed which I "obtained" last year by deadheading a plant at a local historical home.   
five:  I had another work trip this week.  All went well, and it was quick - leave Monday morning and home on Wednesday evening.  And, we had an evening of site-seeing.  More on that later in the month.
six:  We had new backyard visitors.  Although we know turkeys are in the area, in the twelve years that we have lived here, we have never seen them in the yard.  I still haven't, but Himself did and got a few shots of them.  Thanksgiving anyone??? 
seven:  Did I mention that the weather has been great?  We've been enjoying the hammock a lot these last few weekends.
eight:  The Hairy Beast has been a good dog, except when he isn't.  But most of the time good, so we'll count that as a plus. 
nine:  Said Hairy Beast requires lots of walks, which is probably a very good thing.  I get out to our local parks and I get exercise. 
ten:  The little, local airport has a "wings and wheels" event a couple weeks ago.  People park their planes and old cars on the tarmac for viewing.  A number of planes that aren't normally in the area come for the event.  As they come and go, they usually fly over our house, a nice view from the hammock. 

Check out more goodness at one of these hosts:

Saturday, October 1, 2016

First Photo: October 2016

I waved the white flag last month, admitting that the heat of summer had gotten the best of me.  We endured a couple more weeks of unseemly heat.  I wanted so much to just hide in the cool recesses of the air conditioned house. 
And then it changed.  Glorious, wonderful, sweet cooler temps.  Oh, Fall, you are my favorite!
"How shall I show my love is proved by deeds? Well - the little child will strew flowers...she will embalm the Divine Throne with their fragrance, will sing with silvery voice the canticle of love.
Yes, my Beloved, it is thus that my life's brief day shall be spent before Thee. No other means have I of proving my love than to strew flowers; that is, to let no little sacrifice escape me, not a look, not a word, to avail of the very least actions and do them for Love. I wish to suffer for Love's sake and for Love's sake even to rejoice; thus shall I strew flowers. Not one shall I find without shedding its petals for Thee...and then I will sing, I will always sing, even if I must gather my roses in the very midst of thorns - and the longer and sharper the thorns the sweeter shall be my song."
Story of A Soul, Chapter XI
St. Therese Lisieux

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Getting Out of the Weeds

I looked at this poor little blog the other day and noticed how neglected it appears.  It's not much different than this year's vegetable garden.  Started with good intentions and then pushed aside. 

Not gone.  Not forgotten.  Just not a priority at the moment.  I'm not sure what is. 

From a distance, it doesn't look like much but weeds and grass.

Close up, however, there are a few things growing.  We managed to gather a few peppers and tomatoes recently, and wax beans early on.  We often say that it is a good thing that we don't live or die by how the garden does. 

That is how I've felt lately.  My mind, and thoughts, are in the weeds.  But posts are growing, bit by bit, on scraps of paper and Word documents here and there.  It's just a matter of knocking down what shouldn't be growing, like all that grass in the garden, and focus on what is good.

I recently saw a link for the Write 31 Days challenge.  Have you ever done that?  I'm not sure what category I'll fit into, but I think I am going to give it a try.

It certainly beats looking at all the weeds.


Thursday, September 1, 2016

First Photo: September 2016

At the beginning of summer, on a warm, no, hot day, I would often remark "I refuse to complain about the heat.  In just a few months we will be complaing that it is too cold."

I give in.  I'm waving the white flag.

I've had enough of the heat. of the humidity, of the scorching sun.

Bring on autumn's cooler temperature and softer light.  Give me oranges and yellow and reds decorating the trees.

I'm ready for the soft end of the year.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Photo Blogging Challenge (August 2016) - Black & White

This month's theme, Black & White, intrigued me.  I initially thought about taking pictures of black and white items only, but that was easier said than done.  There was still too much color in the photos.  So, with Himself to the rescue, I used photos we took and then made b&w. 

I only did a couple of the photos below and found the process more complicated than I thought it would be.  Not that the acutal physical process was difficult, but deciding contrast and gradients, and shadows and highlights were far from black and white decisions!

I took this picture on our second trip in which we played tourist in our own hometown.  At first the original looked almost b&w, that is until you compare it to one that has been converted.  The gull posed for me for quite a while and was probably sorely disappointed when I didn't reward it with a treat.

It seems one of our all time favoriate places to photograph is the local county park.  It was once owned by a farmer who still owns the barn in the background.  The county harvests the grass for feed of animals at its other parks.  Himself took this on a beautiful, sunny day.  Changing this photo to b&w certainly changes its mood.  
One of my favorite places when I travel to the west coast for work is Portland's International Test Rose Gardens.  Oh the colors and the scents!  
Lunchtime?  Dinnertime?  He doesn't seem to care.  We seem to share that bench with a lot of critters.
Multanomah Falls, about a thirty minute drive east of Portland, is absolutely stunning.  In b&w this photo seems timeless to me.
To see more, visit A 'lil Hoohaa

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Material Girl

At the beginning of the month, I was in the Portland, Oregon/Vancouver, Washington area for work.  Since I was traveling by myself, my evenings were my own.  Yeah!  It's not that I don't like my coworkers, but going out to eat and sitting in a bar every night is just not my cup of tea.
I had received the monthly newsletter from my local quilt shop.  They are participating in the Row by Row Experience.  Quilt shops in the US, Canada, and Europe create patterns for a quilt rows and make them available for free in their shops.  The idea is that when you travel you should find the local shops and stop in for their patterns.  Once you've collected a few, you stitch them and put together in a quilt reminding you of your travels.
I had time to kill my last night before I hopped on the red-eye home, so I checked out one of the local stores.
Oh my!  I was in heaven! 
Fiddlesticks in Vancouver, Washington is my idea of the perfect quilt shop.  The owner, Cheran Bee, made an old workout facility into a cozy, artistic, delightful place for me to spends wads and wads of money.  She uses old, antique furniture to display both bolts of fabric for sale and quilts, showcasing what can be done with it all.
That wall of fabrics in the first photo below is all batiks, my favorite, and that wasn't all of it.  Did I mention I was in heaven?  'Cause I was. 
If you saw my basement, you know I don't need fabric.  But really, I just had to have those three purple and teal batiks.  Besides,  that's all the I could fit in my suitcase.  I'll save the rest for another trip!
'Cause we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl
You know that we are living in a material world
And I am a material girl

Sunday, August 14, 2016

TToT(17): Quick Takes Version

I know it is often said, but where is this month going?  We're almost halfway through it.  Considering I have spent two thirds of the month away from home, I guess I understand why it seems to be flying by.
one:  I'm home.  We attended the Chesterton Conference, spent a night at Sis's house and then I flew out to the west coast for work for the better part of a week.  It's good to be here.

two:  Thank you to all who kept our friend, K, in prayer.  The surgery went well and K is recovering.  God is good. 

three:  Sis and her family watched the Hairy Beast while we were at the conference.  It was good to know he was being well taken care of.

four:  The conference was awesome!  More about that in another post. 

five:  The conference was close, only a two hour drive.  After the drive two years ago, it was a welcome ride.
six:  My work trip went well.  All flights were on time, and even a bit early.  Other than the dweeb that made me toss out my face soap because it was more than three ounces, getting through security was a breeze.
seven:  A couple of weeks before all of this traveling, I found out that I won a local garden center's photo contest.  I now have a $40 gift card to spend on whatever I want at their place.  Decisions, decisions! 
eight:  Speaking of gardens (we were, weren't we?), the vegetable garden isn't doing well this year.  It's mostly due to a lack of attention, which is due to a lack of time, energy and interest.  Although that sounds bad, it means I won't be canning and freezing this year.  And that's good.
nine:  We're doing some re-landscaping in front of the house.  There were two Yews that had to be removed.  We dug out the first stump together.  One night I was bored, so I worked on the second one.  Two hours later, I had it out myself.  There was something oddly satisfying about that chore.
ten:  I either inherited or was given a lot of fabric.  I've been able to make use of some of it lately by sewing quilts.  I'm on my fourth one for the year.  Fun!