Saturday, January 05, 2008

Beholding beauty: Epiphany's Eve

A few pictures taken between January 1 and January 5th.

Inside our front door looking out...I wondered who will pass through this door this year?

I always thought it would be neat to have a leaded front door. I still think it is wonderful.
And a tall red headed woman was the first person through the door this new year. That is considered to be bad luck in some cultures, but around here, we think it is a blessing!

I looked out the window at our Crepe Myrtle.
The beautiful graceful limbs remind me of the sculptured knees of the Pieta in Milan.
A knee ready to bend and run...the limbs are smooth and cool, yet have a texture like firm skin. I often run my hands over them, enjoying touching this tree that has so many guises throughout the year.
The camellia budded just before we left for SLC. I expected it would have bloomed by the time we returned; instead it has swollen only slightly in the past two weeks. I photographed it Friday morning.
Maybe it will fully bloom in time for Epiphany.
It rained a bit on Saturday. Two days ago it was freezing, and we brought in our potted plants. This morning it was warm and muggy out, and the rain drops lingered on every surface, trapped against the humid air.

Splashes of red still spangle the yard; the mostly bare trees have shed their colorful leaves, yet a few linger on in glory.
I would have missed this exuberant design had it fallen earlier when leaves were fluttering freely all over. I'm glad I got to see its unusual pattern.
A drop that stayed, and was admired, while others passed to the soil without notice.
A trip to Target for household supplies; how different the trip felt with Bernie gliding slowly beside my elbow.
Going three wheeling in Target: Not quite every man's dream. But oh so much insight was gained about life!
At the garden center I was disappointed in the selection of pansies and other winter plantings. As I wandered about I saw a young man seated amongst saplings, looking intently at the tiny plants.
I asked him what he was looking at, and he told me he was watching the caterpillars.
Monarch butterflies, still in earthbound form.
Their black antenna waved about as they nestled against the willowy branches.
A few chrysalis were found. I marveled at how the beautiful little form was anchored to the pottery with a fine silken threads.
How wonderful that our garden center leaves the caterpillars alone on their plants, letting them feed undisturbed.

I wonder if I will see them again fluttering by in the garden in the spring.
Late in the evening I rode my bike down to the end of our street to pick up our mail. The air was warm and a gentle breeze fluttered my hair as I rode through our quiet neighborhood. Overhead the stars were brilliant.
It was the last night of Christmas.
Somehow the lights that seemed so crazed to me at the end of November seemed peaceful and right to me now.
"Yes, it is still Christmas for a few more hours," I though.
Tomorrow we will celebrate a new shining forth, a new revelation, a new manifestation.
I hope there will be many moments of epiphany in the coming days for us all.

12th day of Christmas....

Twelve drummers drumming?
Who on earth would want that?

Instead...since Laura has arrived and is settled in, we are having FUN!

Remember yesterday's "new look-a-thon"?
Several people really liked this look best.

So we tried several looks on Laura as well, and guess what?
I like that style on her best too!

The "add mascara" feature really played up her eyes...isn't she gorgeous?

Of course you KNOW what that led to.....

Sometimes a guy just wants to feel pretty.
(B. comment: "I would date her...")

Glam up little brother?
Why not!
Oh I always wondered what another daughter might look like.
But why stop there????
Yes, even Tiggie looks great in this hair style!
I haven't laughed this hard in months.
I just can't stop trying different hairstyles and make up patterns on my men folk and cats.
Need a post holiday let down lift?
I think this is it.
Big time.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Eleventh day of Christmas

Eleven pipers piping...that's a lot of plumbers, or cake decorators or Scottish musician... or is it the faithful disciples?


Still cold here. Brrr. Yesterday I ran errands all over the town, shivering, and went to Barnes and Nobel Books in a quest to find a good book that will unlock the mysteries of Photoshop for me. It would have been a really good idea to have noted which version of Photoshop I own, as there are several and each book is specific to the version.

In a odd combination of events, in today's For Better or For Worse comic, the two older women are lamenting that they now have age and images issues beyond what a good night's sleep or a cream will rectify. The final square of the comic noted that the only sure fix is Photoshop.


While I was at the bookstore I scanned through a book on how not to look old by Charla Krupp.

The quick take:

Never wear holiday sweaters or you will look like an old lady (OL). At least I have given those up.

Never wear running shoes with jeans. OL. As I looked at the book I was wearing my jeans with running shoes. High waisted jeans at that...which was serious a no-no. (I don't want to hear a word out of you about this Lovella! )

Never wear flesh colored nylon. OL. Only patterned, opaque color or fishnets (flesh tone) look young. I love fishnets, but have you ever gone to a party and worn fishnets and had the skin on the soles of your feet destroyed? I have...ouch.

Never wear lipstick that is any shade other than pale pink. I understand that, but I still feel washed out in pale lipstick.

Only wear natural pink or beige nail color on the hands. Oh goodie, score one for me. Only because I chip nails so fast it just works better for me to skip the paint and just buff naturally.

Pants should never be higher than your hip bone, and thongs should be worn with the low cut pants. After three abdominal surgeries, all I can say is ouch. I wore low cut jeans and cords over Christmas to look younger; I should have just bent my tummy over a carving knife. Same feel, less cost.

As to thong panties:

Anyone who says I should wear a thong panties is gonna get hurt. Seriously hurt. I'm old enough to remember sanitary napkins held in place with a belt and a piece of shrapnel. It wasn't fun then, and pretty elastic and lace won't be enough to make it fun now.

Never wear penny loafers or flats. OL. Always wear heels, especially with your jeans. The author was around forty. Maybe younger. I want to see her talk about this in ten years. She says she always has THREE pairs of shoes with her: a low heel to walk to work, high heel for work, and stiletto heel for after work. She must drive her husband crazy. She is driving me crazy...who wants to hang out with someone who always hauls two extra pairs of shoes with her as she goes about her day?

Always wear bangs to look younger. And have hair that moves, and is longer. No dying hair dark. Got the longer and moving and no dying dark part down.

But the bangs part...ah...that caught me. The author had several pictures of celebrities with and without bangs, and yeah, everyone pictured did look younger with bangs.

I painfully grew my bangs out about three years ago. Hot flashes and Houston humidity were making my bangs look drippy/stringy all the time, and it felt cooler to have the hair off my forehead. I grew my hair long so I could whisk it up and out of my way when I was out and about. It worked for me in terms of comfort and ease, even while I have not been really 100% sold on the look.

I've got a very high forehead, and have always, ALWAYS worn bangs, so it took a lot for me to get used to seeing this big slab of face over my eyebrows.

Anyway, the book got me thinking. I had read about a free feature on the Marie Claire website where you can upload a picture and try on different hairstyles. You can change the hair style, flip it so the part can be on either side, raise the hairline and lower it, make the hair bigger or smaller, streak it, all kinds of fun stuff. Pick different hair colors, streaks, add different lip colors, lip shapes, eyeliners, mascara (best part! More mascara please...!!!) blusher colors and pattern.

The virtual hair salon is accessible here.
Registration is required; it is free, and they don't bug you either.

I had Bernie snap a couple of picture of me with my hair back and I was up and trying on hair styles in no time.
If only doing the morning hair and make up routine was as easy as this!

I'd be interested in hearing what you think of the options. Please vote and let me know!

View #1: My current look, hair tucked behind ear.
View #2: Shorter, side swept bangs.
View #3: Current look, hair not behind ear.
View #4: Layers with side swept bangs.
View #5: Straight bangs, side part.
View #6 Straight bangs, no glasses.
View #7: Shorter hair, side swept bangs, no glasses.
View #8: Hair pulled back, glasses (and no make up except mascara...I have got to learn photoshop!)
View #9: Hair pulled back, no glasses.
I also glanced through Victoria Magazine's Jan/Feb issue while I was at B&N. There was a quote in there that if you won't be bothered with sylish shoes then wear a great hat, or something to that effect. Sara, if you have the magazine handy, maybe you can quote it for me.
I'd ammend that statment to: If you don't want to be bothered with sylish shoes and or stylish hair...just wear a great hat.
Oh so true.
(PS: If you want to try this virtual hairstyle/blog/vote thing, just print out your hairstyles, and take a picture of the picture. Then just blog the picture!)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Tenth Day of Christmas

It is still clear and cold here with hurt your eyes clear blue skies etched with bare tree tops and circling birds.

It is not as cold here as it was in SLC, but for some reason while I was comfortable in a turtleneck, jeans and a jacket outside there, here I feel bone chilled cold even inside with the heat turned up to 68.

Jeff always says it feels colder here at 40 degrees outside than it does in SLC at 20 degrees.
I think it has something to do with the humidity.
Oh well.
It will warm up here soon enough.

Meanwhile the African violets have been loving life around the bathtub.

My mom taught me how to grow African violets. It is a pretty simple routine: East/Southeast facing window, double pot your plants so the water wicks from the bottom, feed heavily, and change out the African violet potting soil yearly.

Two other tips: Too many leaves mean less flowers, so keep the leaf layers down to about three rings, and when the trunk of the plant gets thick and neck like, chop the crown off and re-pot.

This lavender blue plant was a newly obtained last January.
I love the variegated leaves on the plant next to it.

The Houston African Violet Society has a show sometime this month; most cities have a society, and they sell their "babies" at the show.
If you want to start growing interesting looking violets, watch the local paper for events and head on over.
And for heaven sake, if you have an African violet that has never bloomed, do it a kindness and at least try the tips I mentioned.

The news on Bernie: We are still a bit on hold until he can get a MRI.
The doctor examined him and the good news was that ACL damage has been mostly ruled out. Hurray for that, as that is the knee part that makes the leg go back and forth; much more therapy is needed when there is damage there.

The doctor said that B. most likely has meniscus damage; either a rupture or a tear. The meniscus ligaments are on either side of the knee and regulate the side to side motion. Much easier to rehab, and surgery would be done on an outpatient basis. He could likely be able to walk on it the same day.
He also got a different kind of brace. He can now bend his knee, which is very helpful.
A six foot three inch length from head to sole doesn't fit into very many places, even sideways.

The Tenth Day of Christmas is Lords a' leaping.
My household Lord of the Manor is hobbling and happy just to be off his crutches.

PS: If anyone is tinkering with the idea of trying out the twelve days of Christmas (I'm looking at Darla here...yes, you missy) here's a link to a page that runs throught the possible symbolism for each day, and is polite enough to mention that the interpretation has been argued both ways by historians and theologians.
As a librarian, I appreciate it when sites are willing to do that.
PSS: If anyone needs to feel better about their interior design and decorating skills, be sure to drop by our free range nurse Laura's blog today. She is on the road heading here and stopped in at a budget hotel in New Mexico last night.
Just when you think you've seen it need to enlarge the two pictures to get the full effect.
Man, does my house look GOOD compared to that place!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

On the ninth day of Christmas....

It was clear and cold. No one is particularly feeling up to the nine dancers dancing will have to go to it without us this time.

We are heading to the doctor at 3 to find out exactly what happened to Bernie's knee now that we are home and swelling has gone down.

He can work, except for flying, which is what his business usually requires about three days a week.

Oh boy...this is going to be interesting.

I tweaked my back during Thanksgiving, and now it is really touchy too. I'm hoping to see someone about that soon as well.

As promised, for those of you who are really bored, or really interested, here is the 1000 picture best of 2007 album. Set to one second per picture it is about a fifteen minute show. It doesn't include the pictures I took in Minnesota, or our SLC Christmas pictures. It may take a few moments to open when you click on the link...there are a lot of pictures to load!

I did create a 1,696 picture album in Picasa to include all the pictures. Next year I think I will try to snag my "best of 2008" pictures monthly, then it will be easier to do this yearly.
Maybe by doing it that way I can even get around to writing documentation on the pictures as well.

Organization is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, right?

Tiggie is getting organized.
He has packed up Hart since there wasn't any Christmas stuff to box up this year.

Hart is not so sure this is such a great idea.
There's a lot of post Christmas let down going around as people have gone about the chore of "taking down" Christmas.
Not so much here, but as a suggestion to counter act that cultural tendency, I thought I'd include a link to a woman named Britt-Arnhild in Norway who was kind enough to explain the Scandinavian custom of "Twelve Days of Christmas."
It makes perfect sense to me: Clean the house on Dec 23, bring in the tree December 24, celebrate Christ's birth December 25, then celebrate with friends and family gatherings and gift giving for eleven more days, until Epiphany.
Advent is time of spiritual reflection, Christmas is the time of celebration, and a reasonable twelve days of it at that.
The American day after Thanksgiving until Dec. 25th "Christmas" is an exhausting and confusing 28 days.
Tell the truth: Isn't the night that the Christmas tree goes up really the moment Christmas arrives in your house anyway? How weird is it that it is all anticipation of bunching up and opening gifts (and eating...) that is the Official Christmas Eve/day leads to so much stress and strain. Families divy up trying to fit all the fun into 48 hours, lest some one feel left out.
Imagine twelve days to gather over small events, and small gift giving times. Baby's cranky today? It is still Christmas tomorrow. Got a cold? How about celebrating Christmas on day eleven,when you feel better?
I had friends who were very involved in ministry and had very limited funds. They chose to open gifts on Epiphany, simply because it was cheaper to buy everything for the celebration after Dec. 25th.
I am not Roman Catholic, but I have admired their traditional stance that no decoration is done in the church until Christmas. Really, shouldn't most of the Christmas carols be sung after the birth day proper?
Think about the words....I think you will see what I mean.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Years!

Happy Eighth Day of Christmas!

Happy New Year!

Happy January!

Um...not a lot to report from here. I've spent most of last night and a lot of this morning selecting my favorite pictures from 2007 to load into a "Best of 2007" album.

That would 1150 pictures out of who knows how many. Ten thousand? Twenty?

I've never regretted taking a picture; I have regretted not taking a picture.

That kind of thinking leads to a LOT of pictures.

I had forgotten some places that we had visited this year. When you can't even remember everywhere you went, maybe it is time to stay home? (smile...we'll see about that...)

I was so blessed as I reviewed the pictures. It was humbling to see what a great year we had.

As the pictures flicked by in a slideshow, I imagined the judgement seat will be a little like this. Scenes from your life. Unedited unless covered by the blood of Christ. Oh yeah, please delete, crop, whatever some of those shots from my life.

Nature and place pictures are probably a lot prettier, you know what I mean?

It is taking forever for the pictures to load into a sharable web album. I'll post the link later on so you can view them if you have any interest. The web album will *only* allow 1,000 pictures. (Eyes of my reader now crossing...)

Meanwhile, I hope everyone is enjoying the first day of the New Year.
Here's a special version of "Aud Lang Syne" for you to enjoy.


Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve reflections

Would you care to join me on the bench for a moment while I reflect on the passing year?
I always enjoy this particular bench. The huge tree in front of it looks different to me each time I encounter it as the ever changing light, seasons and moods create new feasts for my eyes to contemplate.

It is always the same tree...yet always a different experience.

Parts of the tree have grown apart, then rejoined together, making frames for the views beyond.

Life is like that, no?

Overhead I sometime see jets streaking across the sky. I tip my fingers in a salute...these trails are from our military; the pilots keep watch overhead. As I trod the forest floor I feel just a bit safer for knowing the jets have flown by silently overhead.

And I count it a blessing that 2007 was a year of peace in my land.

A million leaves budded, unfurled, provided shade, colored, and silently drifted to the earth while I walked. A handful of those leaves I captured with my camera, the rest have returned to enrich the soil unheralded.

The bayou reflected the sky and the trees whether I was there to see it or not. Yet when I see the beauty, I count it as a gift to me from above.

Beneath the still waters fish swim, and crawfish crawl. The cypress knees grow; and the scene changes color throughout each day.

Across the lake the scene has gone from bare limbs to vibrant green to rusty reds and back to bareness again.

Moss has crept between the plates of the pine bark, weaving colored patterns as it grew.

Fungus has another form of silent beauty as it feeds upon the fallen trees.

Rosy mushrooms erupt from the mulchy pine needles that blanket the forest floor.

When I get down on my knees with my face near the earth, I look up at the small things and see wonders unfold.

These were a few of the treasure of my world this year. My path has taken me far and wide.
I've had a year like no other in which I embraced and appreciated nature; the flowers and the leaves, spiders and snakes, raccoons and opossums, rainbows and snow flakes, alpine meadows , swampland, red rock reefs and glaciers.
Switzerland, Italy, Germany and Canada have welcomed me.
Minnesota, Colorado, Utah and Louisiana have enliven my soul with vistas and sounds found no where else.
I really don't want this year to end.
As I click through the thousands of pictures that I took this year, I am in awe of the beauty of my world.
I am in awe that more beauty displays itself in every part of my planet in places that I will never see.
I am dazzled by the changes of seasons across our lands.
I want to thank you all who stopped to see what I have seen, and read what I have lived through.
And I especially want to thank each of you who also treasured your world and life enough to seek out the time to take pictures and to write words that allowed me to enjoy the treasures that you found in the place where you live.
Please keep seeing and capturing the moments.
Please keep posting them on your blogs.
I love that you do so.
And pray that next year will be a year of peace and beauty in your life.
May God bless you in the new year!