Sunday, October 19, 2014

Postcards from the Road ~ Another Year Older and the 2013 Scrapbook is Finito!

Dear friends, the retirees are still enjoying the mountain views. The rain has finally stopped, leaving the air amazingly autumn. I’ve pulled out tights and sweaters and boots and, call me odd if you will, that makes me one happy camper.

After two days of rain, Wednesday was overcast and perfect for driving through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We’ve driven through many times, taking various scenic routes, but I’ve never seen it looking more spectacular than it did on Wednesday—the river was high and just enough foliage ablaze to make you catch your breath around every curve. We took the 18-mile road known as Little River Road, but the photos can’t truly tell the story. If you ever have the chance to drive through in autumn, you won’t be disappointed.

In other news, for the second year in a row, I celebrated my birthday away from twin sister. I’ve already decided that next year will be different—we will be together, Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise.

I was born seven minutes ahead of Gayle, but I never existed without her, not even in the womb. Being an identical twin cannot be explained to anyone who isn’t one, but Gayle understands perfectly when I say that the words, “I love you,” almost have no meaning, as there isn’t a word or a phrase to describe the feelings between identical twins; we share a language and feelings uniquely ours. 

Despite missing Gayle, my birthday was filled with good food, precious cards from home, a slice of apple spice cake, with a little rum sauce, and a tealight candle for making a wish, which I did but I can’t reveal here, lest it not come true. (wink, wink) The Man always goes above and beyond for all of life's special occasions. I am blessed to call him mine.

Speaking of The Man, my birthday evening also found a little posing going on with Mr. Handsome. In case you’re wondering who that bespectacled female is, I have two new pairs of specs and decided to try out a pair last night. The girl is getting old. Things are changing.

In case ye think otherwise, it hasn’t been all play around these here parts. On Thursday, I put on my determined face and got my scrapbooking completed for the year 2013. Finito! That still leaves me about a year behind, but I have crazy faith that I will get ‘er done before my granddaughter arrives in February. I've had such faith before, to no avail, but it's been a unique year, so I may skip most of it and only hit the highlights. That should make things move along quickly.

Currently, a golden sun has found us here in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, the outdoor thermometer registering a pleasant 61-degrees. Wish you were here.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Postcards from the Road ~ Smoky Mountain Monday Musings

Hello, kind readers. The captain has turned off the seatbelt sign and Cloud Nine has come to a halt. The road warriors are in Pigeon Forge, a favorite autumn destination of ours; matter of fact, we were here just last year. True, the 969-mile journey from home is a long one, but we take our time arriving, which makes it bearable, even enjoyable.

On Friday, after a gentle morning rain, we headed to Dollywood where Octobers always find the sweet and stirring sounds of Southern Gospel music in the air and in the theater venues. As two people who sang and played in church most of our lives, what’s not to love about the harmonizing of voices and instruments?

Saturday, I awoke to the sound of more rain on the rooftop, tapping out yet another melody fit for an October morning. Outside, leaves in shades of bronze and orange glistened wet against the ground, autumn's jewels. After making coffee, I sat at the dinette and stared out the window, letting the rain and the hush of morning seep into my soul—life and nature doing its own harmonizing. 

I can't explain why autumn, why the month of October has always cast a spell over me; perhaps it has something to do with being born in October, but as a writer needs the simplicity of words in order to tell a clear story, I need the simplicity of an autumn day in order to gain clarity for the road ahead.

Until next time, sweet friends, thanks for following along on my journey. May your week be filled with the gems of October.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Living in the Moment ~ Autumn's Spell and Assorted Ramblings

Dearest friends, here in my little woods the seasons have been battling it out. There have been showers and winds and a bit of wrestling back and forth as autumn attempts to take over. Summer can be stubborn around these parts, but right now the air has once again cooled down, a pleasant breeze rustles the trees, and the wind-chimes fill the yard with the sound of music.

As I write from my office, I feel as if I have little to say these days, that the words I type land with a thud, heavy, boring, and repetitious. But when you strive to live in the moment, you can't skip over the moments that are not light and airy. You must consider that not every note rings of joy; some moments, some melodies are quite solemn.

As I ponder this truth, I glance over my shoulder and at once I'm inspired by the sight of October’s sun stretching across the dining room table in familiar ribbons of gold. I grab my camera before the moment is lost. 

And then I get a whiff of onions and garlic and tomatoes and chili peppers coming from the homemade chili simmering on the stove, and I'm filled up with gratitude for the simple pleasures that can be found in an ordinary afternoon, for the golden moments that offset the rest.

On Thursday, I discovered this loveliness in the remains of my gardens, and I thought of the words of Mother Teresa: "Lord, give me an open heart to find you everywhere, to glimpse the heaven enfolded in a bud.”

In a few short hours, Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise, The Man and I will be on the road for an autumn adventure. The pace will be slow and easy, with lunch in small town cafes, treasure hunts in dusty thrift shops, and trails that call to wanderers. 

There’ll be familiar mountain vistas that never grow old, and campfires for lingering come evening time. If we’re lucky, we’ll see the forest come alive in shades of red and yellow and orange. Autumn has cast her spell and I must go. I’ll be sure and send postcards here and there along the way. 

There is much to do before I can climb aboard Cloud Nine so, until next time, may the magic that is autumn settle gently around you as October's journey begins. As always, thanks for keeping me company here. It means ever so much.


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Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Perfectly Imperfect Trunk

The last few years found me searching for the perfect trunk. The one you can't describe but you'll know it when you see it. Yeah, that one. 

High and low, in every antique shop and thrift store, I searched but came up empty. But last week, while twin sis and I were out gallivanting around, we saw it and the search was suddenly over. I gave the nod and into the truck it went.

It is big and heavy and functional and imperfectly perfect for my lifestyle. 

And those leather straps make me swoon.

It's scuffed and charming on the outside, and cavernous and metal on the inside, a perfect combination for the propping up of assorted feet, and the storing of assorted ... stuff.

If you know me, you know I have an aversion to change, but after having the same perfectly good coffee table for 27 years, it was time for a change.

This trunk has the feel of home and I expect to keep it around for a very long time.


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Friday, September 26, 2014

The Tradition Continues ~ It's a Girl!

Well, I have news. In keeping with tradition on my side of the family, we learned this week that my daughter and son-in-law are having a girl! 

While I would have absolutely adored a boy, I must confess I was secretly hoping for a girl. I mean, why else would I have saved a pile of my daughter's stuff for 28 years? I'm talking clothes, shoes, toys, baby dolls, you name it and it's probably in a tub in the attic somewhere. It has to be destiny, my friend and I'm simply over the moon about it.

I'm seriously in love with her already, and we haven't even met. But doesn't she look adorable in her latest photo? 

And look how much she's grown since July!

As I watched the DVD they brought back from the doctor's visit, this powerful passage in Psalm 139 came to mind. There she was, my precious unborn grandchild (now about the size of a sweet potato) moving around and stretching her tiny limbs, growing and changing with each passing day. What a miracle, the miracle of life, graciously granted by God.

Until next time, dear friends, may your weekend be one of soft landings and sweet faces.


Monday, September 22, 2014

10 Books That Influenced My Life ~ Monday Musings

Recently, I was challenged by a Facebook friend to share 10 books that influenced my life. I don't generally accept Facebook challenges, but this one, well, how could I not? 

Since such probings take time, and since I tend to get long-winded, I have chosen to share this first as a blog post, rather than a Facebook status. Aren't you the lucky ones? (wink, wink)

There have been way more than 10 books that have influenced my life, but I'll stick to the challenge. These 10 books are listed, roughly, based on my age as I encountered them, from my youth up, shall we say. 

OK, here goes, and I challenge you to do the same, but that's entirely up to you, of course.

1. As the daughter of a preacher, the Holy Bible was a constant in our home from the day I was born. Like a golden thread, its words were woven throughout the tapestry of my life. I was captivated by its stories in Sunday school, at home, and in the messages I heard preached. As a youngster, I adored the varied characters of the Bible, and envisioned each one of them in my mind. When I became an adult, I fell in love with the Bible’s truths and its message, and most of all, with the God who made it all possible. The Bible shown here was given to me by my parents the Christmas after I turned 18. It’s pages are worn and some are even torn. I’ve marked up the margins and underlined verses galore. I’ve read through it, cover to cover, several times. I would never want to be far away from my old green Bible. It continues to be a book I turn to daily for strength, for direction, for answers, for comfort, for peace, for salvation. It is the Bread of Life, and I find something new and fresh every time I open its pages. The Bible's influence on my life cannot be measured and will never cease; it is eternal.

2. I loved books from a young age and used to haul home mountains of favorites from the library each week. The book, Henry and the Clubhouse, by Beverly Cleary, put me in touch with my storytelling tendencies. I fell madly in love with all of Cleary’s books and the assorted characters she brought to life. Somewhere, in a dusty box in the attic is my very first short story, written in fourth-grade, "imitating" the voice of Beverly Cleary. Predictably, I titled it, “Henry’s Clubhouse,” but of course.

3. One of my fondest memories from childhood was being read to by my mother, and my favorite book, without question, was Eleanor Clymer’s The Trolley Car Family. As a child, I was transported by this book, by the unique story line, the illustrations, the characters. Truth be told, I still am. I found great joy in sharing its pages with my daughter many years later. Lord willing, I will do the same with my grandchild.

4. I was probably 21 when I first read the novel, Just David, by Eleanor Porter, a story that moved me to tears—so much so that I remember having to lay the book down so I could sprawl out on the bed and sob unashamedly. When a book can do that, you know you’re reading the work of a great storyteller. It was the first time I fully understood the potential power in a single story. I’ve never forgotten this book, nor the impact it had on me. It will always be a favorite pick from my library.

5. It took several readings before I came to fully appreciate Charles Dickens’, A Christmas Carol, but it remains one of my favorite classics. The messages it contains are priceless ones, no matter our age. When readers witness the transformation of "a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner," as Scrooge was, and when they meet loveable characters like Tiny Tim, who, despite his grave illness and living conditions, remained a cheerful lad, it leaves them with a feeling of hope for all mankind.

6. As a new mother in 1986, I found very little time to read, which was why the small gift book, Children Won’t Wait, by Helen M. Young, was a welcome addition to my library. Given to me by my older sister, this book mirrors my own feelings about motherhood, that “no other career is so precious, no other work so rewarding, no other task so urgent.” Young urges mothers to not neglect, but accept their role gladly, “for children won’t wait!”

7. As a young parent, I relied heavily on the wisdom and experiences of those who’d walked a mile in my shoes. One of my favorite authors during the busy years was Chuck Swindoll. His book, Growing Wise in Family Life is a great source of information and direction, and offers parents a look at both what can help and what can hinder the nurturing of a child, based on not only he and his wife's experiences as parents, but on the experiences of other parents, as well. I remember being blown away by his advice to say "yes" to harmless activities as often as possible.  When a parents' first response to a child's simple requests is generally, "No," a child quickly becomes discouraged and frustrated. In the opinion of Swindoll, what harm is there in saying "yes" to having a picnic for lunch? "It is amazing how much of a positive influence that simple guideline provided for our home," he writes. This book's lessons served me well through the parenting years.

8. In 1990, my mother gave me a life-changing book entitled, The Power of Optimism, by Alan Loy McGinnis. This book left its imprint on my heart and in my daily activities. I learned that simply being optimistic and having a cheerful disposition, no matter what troubles may be swirling around you, can change not just your day, but your life. In the words of McGinnis: “Optimism is not saying that everything is getting better and better every day in every way. Nor is it saying that our worst days are behind us. We don’t know either of those things. What we do know is that this world, for all its faults, is a big world filled with good things to be savored and enjoyed.” Oh, that people everywhere could understand and embrace this truth.

9. If I were imprisoned on an island I would hope to have in my possession Mrs. Charles E. Cowman’s Streams in the Desert, Volume 1. This daily devotional was given to me by my older sister for Christmas in 1999 and I have read it through every year since. Each day's Scripture is accompanied by insights from long-ago men and women of God. Their writings never get stale and have, on my occasions, provided the precise message I needed for a particular day or season. I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s influence on my life has been great, and continues.

10. Every summer, since discovering this book, it's become a tradition that I read again the classic, Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I didn’t discover this book until well into my 40’s, but, perhaps mid-life was the best time to encounter this gem. Published in 1955, this book contains timeless truths, words to live by, a steady reflection of women everywhere. It's a small book (barely 100 pages), but its richness requires time to absorb it all. And, if you ask me, those are the best kinds of books. I've quoted from Gift from the Sea often in my blogging and I believe every woman should have a copy of this remarkable work in her library.


Until next time, sweet friends, keep calm and read on! If you're up to it, I'd love to know what you're reading, or the books that have influenced you, from your youth up.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Change in the Office

For a number of years, I enjoyed this plaid wing-back chair in my office. It has been with me a long time, but its history is another post for another day (or not).

In early 2013, my grand-niece, sugar plum I call her, had just turned two, so when I found a little table-and-chair set in a thrift store close to my mom's house, I snatched it up and brought it home. The office seemed the right place for it, so I relocated the chair. I knew sugar plum would have a whole lot of fun in this space, at this table. 

And that is precisely what has happened. From Play-Doh bonanzas, to puzzles, to drawing, to eating lunch, this little table has been, and continues to be, a perfect fit for the youngsters.


But there was one chair that I dreamed of having in my office, a chair I’ve loved from the day I sat in it at my sister’s home many years ago. 

So when it came up for grabs last month, I raised my hand and said, “ME, ME! Pick me!”

And that's how it came to pass that this cozy chair is now in our home office. In time, I may slipcover it, but for now I’m enjoying it to the fullest and I think it still looks wonderful.

It’s big enough to sleep in, practically, and plenty big enough for two while reading books.

As for the little table, it now sits in front of the window, behind the big chair, still bringing joy and a happy space for the little ones. And with a grandbaby on the way, I expect it will be around for many years to come.


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