Friday, December 29, 2017

The magic of Christmas

This Christmas season has been so nice and busy that I didn't get my post done before heading to Florida to spend the holiday with my family.  An attempt to post from my iPad was a big fail (for some reason.)  As I was wrestling with it on Christmas eve, kitty Pete visited me on the couch and gave me an inquiring look, "Don't you want me in your lap?"  Of course I did and put the iPad aside and felt great peace in watching him relax, his head growing heavy as he fell asleep.  So finally, here are some favorite photos from the last two weeks:

My tree almost didn't get put up.  I do love doing it, but couldn't find the energy for a few days, so the boxed tree sat in that spot.  My Richie bear came from the now defunct Rich's department store in Atlanta.  I'll leave it up until New Year's Eve.

I have a good mix of ornaments and love each one.  The glass Santa there came from the estate sale of neighbor Susan, who passed away earlier in the fall.  I wanted something to remember her by and told her family I would write her name on the box that holds the ornament, so I'll always remember.

 This was my mom's Nativity scene, with its porcelain figures.  The terracotta angel is something I added.  It's sitting on top of my "Kneeling in Bethlehem" book by Ann Weems - a gift from a beloved friend several years ago.  The angel card was hand painted this year by another beloved friend this year - I plan to frame it.

There was a quick trip to my hometown of Milledgeville, Georgia on December 16, where I spotted this adorable mailbox for letters for Santa.

The main reason for the visit was to attend the national wreath laying ceremony being held at the veterans' cemetery where my late parents' are buried.  I got to lay one at my dad's grave in honor of his World War II military service.  They would all have one by the end of the day, but I like to do it myself when I can.

And then it was on to Florida last Sunday, where the stockings were hung by the chimney with care.  

My sister and brother-in-law have a zillion ornaments and a big tree, but opted to just put up my late mother's little tree that she had had at her assisted living apartment.  The grandchildren helped hang the ornaments and were quite proud of it.

Great niece Kloie left homemade cookies for Santa and a personalized drawing of Rudolf.  He was good to her, as he was to all of us. 

Thank you for spending this time with me.  I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  I'll be visiting your blogs this weekend.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Blue morning, giving thanks and family time

A little catching up to do - I haven't posted in almost a month!  Going backwards, starting with last Saturday morning.

Last Saturday morning - 7:30am - the view from my front door.  A blue morning in a winter wonderland.  We are not accustomed to snow in Georgia.  I can't think of the last time it snowed.  It was glorious while it lasted. 

 It was already melting in the afternoon, once the temps rose.  Snowmen were everywhere, but my favorite was this little one on the table in front of Five Guys.

Not to worry - I was sitting completely still when I snapped this photo on Friday afternoon, during the harrowing ride home.  Georgians don't know how to drive on snow, y'all.  It took me two hours to go 20 miles, but it was lovely to get a fire going and have a little sofa nap later.  AND to wake up to that blue morning the next day.

Thanksgiving Day was spent in Fayetteville, Georgia at my cousin's house and the extended family.  Because my immediate family was coming together from Atlanta, Virginia, Florida and Mexico, we stayed at a hotel the night before.  I didn't realize how starved I was for family time until we were all together.  Favorite moment:  a smiling older couple from Detroit, Michigan were also staying at the hotel and just before they got on the elevator to go up to their room, they spontaneously jitterbugged for several seconds.  We applauded.  It was that kind of fun night.

 My cousin's home has lots of space, indoors and out, for the 40+ family gathered together in Thanksgiving.  We convoyed to my sister and brother-in-law's farm in northern Florida on Thanksgiving afternoon.

Thanksgiving crafts by two great-nieces on Friday morning. 

And all the little ones got a tractor ride on Saturday, before everyone drove away.  A lovely few days.

Next week - holiday magic.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Good Things Happened: along the way

New favorite quote: "Anyone who thinks fallen leaves are dead has never watched them dancing on a windy day." - Shira Tamir

 This very large leaf danced its way into my front door, so I let it stay.

This display at the first holiday open house I have attended this year made me want to buy a birdhouse and I already have one that my feathered visitors shun, for some reason.  I always love coming to the shop inside this old building, with its brick walls.  One more reason to love fall.

I hope you have a lovely weekend, my friends!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Good Things Happened: signs of autumn (finally)

My somewhat grainy photo of the Beaver Moon from the past weekend.  The Farmers' Almanac says the November full moon got its name from the native American Algonquin tribes, as this was the month to set traps for beavers "before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs."  It was beautiful very early on Saturday morning, when I couldn't sleep, and wandered outside to see it.

And later that morning, beautiful fall color at the condos.  Finally.

This is the dipladenia that I bought at the mountain nursery and blogged about here.  I didn't realize how much it has grown, until I looked at the photo of it on that post (the third photo, taken at the mountain house, before I brought it home to the condos.)  When I visited the mountain nursery last month and inquired if I would be able to keep it through the winter, the lady there said they don't winter well and she wouldn't try it.  So I thought I would pay tribute to it, as its leaves turn along with the leaves on the trees around it.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Good Things Happened: Weekend Warriors

Can you guess where I spent last weekend?  Yes - the annual Stone Mountain Highland Games, at which we celebrate our Scottish heritage. This vendor tent was doing a brisk business.  I love that so many weekend warriors get to do that Braveheart thing.  "Alba gu bra!" (Scotland forever!)

For some reason, there were a lot of Santas around the games this year.  (I spotted at least five.)  This Santa represented his Clan at the Sunday morning church service. 

My favorite part of the weekend is the Clan march.  I wish my photo could capture the scope of the endless array of Scottish Clans lined up to march onto the field.  It never ceases to thrill me to hear our surname called out as the massed bagpipe bands play us in.

We ended up lined up beside the Atlanta Pipe Band after we paraded in.  A young man in our group is interested in taking up Scottish drumming, so this was perfect placement for him.

By the closing ceremonies, late Sunday afternoon, I was ready for home, but loved being played out to my car by the pipes and drums.

Have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Good Things Happened: black and white photo challenge

A few weeks ago, one of my friends sent me a photo challenge on facebook:  "7 days. 7 black and white photos of your life.  No people.  No explanation."  So I did it and posting them here, too.  I liked the way black and white changes the mood of a photo.  A couple of them were just throw away photos that looked as if they told a story, when changed to black and white.  I followed the rules for the facebook challenge by not giving any explanation, but I'll give one here.

I was waiting for my typical-for-a-Friday-night take-out Chinese food at my favorite little neighborhood restaurant when I read the facebook challenge on my phone.  Photos of my life, I thought.  No time like the present, and lifted my phone for this shot.  The challenge did specify no people, but I decided that meant no friends or family members.  I love the way these three at the restaurant always hustle around getting orders ready.

The next morning, this old friend who can't walk easily anymore, was being pulled on this wagon-like device by his owners.  The look in his eyes as he gazes at his "mom" just exudes love.

 The Saturday before that, in Black Mountain, North Carolina. This is one of those "throw away" shots that worked out well in black and white.

 I posted this one in color in August.  I only noticed that leaf, there in the middle, in the black and white version though.

 And I posted this one from the September retreat weekend in color.  It got the most accolades on facebook.  Love those shadows on these old pews.

 On the sixth day, I was getting ready to head up to the mountains with my sisters, and was outside watering the plants, when I noticed this little tree frog.  It hopped out of the plant I was watering and took refuge on this rail.

And on the seventh day - this lovely view of the Hiwassee River.  I never get tired of this scene and loved the misty look of the black and white photo on that morning.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Good Things Happened: Annual sister time

My two sisters and I traveled from three different states (Virginia, Georgia, and Florida) to be together for a few days, by the banks of the Hiwassee River in the Nantahala National Forest, in western North Carolina.  The gentle flow of this river never fails to bring me peace.

On the second day, we took the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, which boards in Blue Ridge, Georgia, to sister towns McCaysville, Georgia and Copperhill, Tennessee.  There is a painted line that goes through the middle of the two towns that shows that you can stand in Georgia on one side and Tennessee on the other.

We rode inside the open air gondola on the way there and back.  The part I loved the most?  Gardeners, fishermen, construction workers, people in their cars, waving to us as we passed.

The weather is still so warm in the southeast that there isn't much fall color in the foliage yet, but I still loved looking for it.  Can you see the V in the water?  That is a fish weir that was constructed by Native Americans, long ago, to catch fish.  The fish swimming downstream would collect in the V and they would swim out and catch them.

On the final day, we visited The John C. Campbell Folk School Fall Festival.  I loved this family band - especially the earnest young man playing bluegrass music on the fiddle.

There were 41 pottery vendors, but I singled out a vendor that I particularly liked and bought a couple of things.  I've put myself on pottery restriction again.

 I was standing next to a jewelry designer's booth inside the festival barn, listening to this "jamming" band and told her she had the best spot in the house!  Music and dancing all day.  She agreed.  I wish I could have bottled this peace and shared it with the world.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Retreat, peace and beauty

This is the Presbyterian (USA) Retreat Center in Montreat, North Carolina, and is known universally among Presbyterians in the southeast as simply, "Montreat."  It was my pleasure to go on a retreat with church friends there last weekend.  A walking tour, shortly after we arrived, lead us past beautiful Lake Susan.

The conference center contains these old pews made of black walnut wood that have weathered over the years.  I love that they look so well-used and at peace.  

 This mural in the Chapel of the Prodigal, is of course, the Return of the Prodigal, painted as a fresco by artist Ben Long.  You can read more about it here.

And I loved this inset in the stone work in the courtyard of the Assembly Hall, where we slept.  Such a beautiful, peaceful place.  Now I know why everyone speaks the word Montreat in such hushed tones.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Special treat, special girl and new stickers

Beloved great-niece Kloie was full of pent up energy during the recent hurricane that passed through their area, and spent some of her time inside making a card for me.  I loved that it was addressed to Aunt Lynn.  She knows I love dragonflies and always incorporates them into her correspondence to me.

Dragonflies ARE awesome.  I quite agree.  I love her so much, too.

And I finally ran out of the "teacher" stickers I put on my calendar when I exercise.  So I went to The Schoolbox and bought more - frogs, sea creatures and owls.  It's the little things....

I hope you have a wonderful weekend, my friends!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Tropical storm, leafy friends, new friend

Lots of leaves, fallen limbs and debris - that was the main effect Hurricane Irma had on my home.  (It was actually a tropical storm by the time it reached us.)  I am so lucky to have not lost power either.  The neighborhood around me was dark for a couple of days.  More than a million customers in Georgia were without power after the storm - some friends don't have power yet.  All the plants had to come inside so they wouldn't fly around in the wind.

My living room looked like a happy jungle, but I wanted all my leafy friends to be safe.  This isn't even all of them in the camera shot.  :)  Thankfully, my family in Florida are all safe.  The crops were battered around, but seem OK. 

And I had to buy a new car - I really like this new friend now.  There it is behind that stop sign, under an ominous sky.  The woman who brought it to my home from the car finders service smiled when I told her how sad I would be to see the other one drive away.  She said that happens often - one man got up on his old car and hugged it before she left with it.  Does anyone else but me get attached to cars? 

And this video made me smile all the way through it.  It's Jennifer Hudson with a lot of friends, singing "Come Together."  Jennifer’s performance was part of a TV special called XQ Super School Live on September 8, where students, teachers, parents and celebs came together to “reimagine high school education.”  Watch it if you can.  I loved seeing Ringo the most!