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!

SLC Christmas: December 30th Sunday

Well, my snow man was still out front on Sunday morning.
My Southern California upbringing explains why I expect Mr. Snowman to be knocked down or melted by now.
But he is still there, with a fresh dusting of snow on his cap.
We both are still smiling.

Things got a little complicated. Jeff was scheduled to assist with the church parking for three services, and snow was falling. I could have driven him to church, come back for Bernie, gone to church, driven home, then gone back to get him.
I am not too familiar with the area, and am skittish about driving his car on snow.
So Bernie and I stayed home and packed up while Jeff did his duties.
The snow fall was the heaviest that we had during our nine days in Salt Lake City. Snow flakes the size of quarters were dancing in the air, and gusts of wind swirled the air to whiteness.

I wanted to sit and stare out the window...but packing up takes time.
Jeff got back after freezing in the parking lot for hours helping people.
It was the wind that made it nasty of course.

We left a good two hours early for the airport, knowing it would be packed with holiday travelers and we would need to take it slow getting around.

Nine days...and as we left all I could think of was that I wanted just one more day....
It truly was a perfect Christmas time, even with Bernie's injury.
The beauty of the area and cozy family time: perfection.
And I even got to do all the baking that I wanted to do.
Most years that facet gets lost in the shuffle.
Once we were at the airport Continental Airlines was terrific. Jeff parked at the curb and ran our two suitcases inside while I backpacked my computer and carried Bernie's computer bag.
Continental staff came up to us immediately and got Bernie into a wheel chair. The guy who was helping Bernie was a blessing...he took Bernie's shoes off for security check through, and put them back on, and was helpful to me as well.
He had a small high cross on his tie, and he did the symbol proud by his care to a stranger.
Once on board the small regional jet we wedged into the bulk head seats. Bernie tried to sit sideways, and I swung my knees sideways as well. (see my knees in the lighter colored jeans in the picture above)
It was looking like it would be a very uncomfortable three hours for us.
I am most grateful for all the prayers for our trip. A single seat was available across the aisle; I was able to decamp, and Bernie sat sideways in relative comfort by resting the foot of his injured leg atop his other foot.
If he had been a half inch taller he simply would not have fit into the space.
The snow had stopped by the time we boarded the plane. Of course I enjoyed seeing all the snowy scenery from the air.

The unfrozen Great Salt Lake like a glowing sapphire nestled in lace.
I thought this was an odd geologic formation. It looked like a razor sharp ridge.

Once we landed, another gentleman awaited us with a wheel chair for Bernie. He helped grab our luggage from the conveyor belt, and assisted us to the airport door. I hopped a shuttle, got our car from the parking lot, and swung back to get Bernie. all turned out just fine.

It did feel good to get back to a sparkling clean house, and to slip into a bed with fresh sheets that were ironed and scented with lavender. The extra effort before we left really paid off in "ahhh.." factor after rushing around the airport.

Both the cats were very please to resume their guardian of Bernie positions.
It was good to be home, even thought I kept thinking that I smelled just a whiff of cigar in the living room.
I asked the boys about it, but they said they had no idea what I was talking about.

All in all, it was a wonderful sixth Christmas day.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

SLC Christmas: December 28th Saturday

This morning Jeff and I headed out for yoga while Bernie and Meowsie slept in.

No photos are allowed at 24 hr fitness, but this morning I took several pictures there with my heart.

It meant so much to me that my son asked me if I wanted to join him in a fitness class, and to work out beside him. The little boy that I loved so much has become a tall and strong man, on many levels. As the haunting Irish music played and we went through the various yoga poses in sync, I felt so welcomed in his life. It was a blessing that I didn't expect, and an event that was very precious to me, a gift that he cares about my well being and was not ashamed to have his mom with him at the front of a large class of people of all ages and shapes, men and women, all moving and stretching in unison.

I did get a laugh the ladies locker room there were two very beautiful young women freshening their make up after their work out. Their bodies and hair and skin were flawless. As I washed up, I overheard their conversation:

"Yes, that mirror makes you look pale. The one over there makes you look fat, so you want to keep coming and working out, and that mirror makes you look thin."

Believe me...when I checked, I looked exactly the same in each of the mirrors.
Darn it.
I would never had thought to assign editorial powers to the mirrors! But when you are totally beautiful, I guess you can notice small variations in your glory.

After we got back home, we loaded Bernie into the car and headed out to look at open houses in the Sugar House and Highland Park area of SLC. Sugar House is an area that was built between 1900-1930, with cottage/doll house style houses, with a central "village" and parks. The whole area looks like a village that you would collect for a display. Jeff is interested in perhaps buying a house in the area, and we are also considering a move to SLC in the future, so we wanted to scope out the area.

It takes *a lot* to think about living in a cottage after living in Houston. 12 ft ceilings in Houston have me spoiled, the 7 ft ceilings in the cottages worry me. I'm used to closets the size of the cottage living room!
It would be a life style decision; we could get a Texas style house in SLC, but it would be in the suburbs without all the quaint qualities of Sugar House.

Oh boy...I HAVE been SO spoiled by Texas housing!

After looking at a few houses, we came back so the guys could catch *another* football game. I bailed, went upstairs and curled up with Meowsie on the bed and caught up with my BGF Gail in Colorado Springs.

Until the game was over.
Hey...what ever floats your boat, right?

Jeff then drove me over to Temple Square to see the light display there. It was a rush trip; two major games are on tonight, but we could get to the Temple and back and not miss anything.

The Square was traced with bags gilded with various words in foreign languages, such as "Rejoice" written in Burmese as above.

And "Love" in Hebrew. There were words spelled out in American Sign Language, in Braille, in Hindi... if it was a language, it was represented.

The edgeless water pool reflected the trees beautifully.
You can see the bags lined up on the side of the picture above.

There is just something about a tree of glowing red fairy lights.

There were several scenes; the white Shepherd and white sheep in the snow was charming.

Me under the red tree. If I could figure out how to use my Adobe Photoshop program, I could have erased all the other people in this scene.
The snow started falling as we walked the Square, and in the distance we could see the Utah State Capitol building. Jeff lived on the mountain just above the dome for two years. The dome was being re-done the whole time, and was always covered with scaffolding. Now that he has moved it is shining brightly without the offending scaffolding.

Magical snow and colors.
Jeff standing on a walkway beneath a canopy of orange fairy lit trees.

A guy saw Jeff taking my picture, and asked if he could take a picture of us together for us. Isn't that nice? We always try to remember to offer to do that for people, it was very nice to have someone do that for us.

A star as I would imagine the Star of Bethlehem might have looked.
Years ago, when I first visited Salt Lake City to do some family research, I visited Temple Square. I loved this sculpture of a little girl looking at the new baby being held over her mother's shoulder. The girl's expression is so glowing and her posture is so wonderful...
A water feature runs through the Square and reflects the trees beautifully.

There were several versions of the Nativity scene, as expressed in various cultural dress.

This is my other favorite sculpture. The young mother dancing in play with her children. It is joyous and tender at the same time. A beautiful celebration of family love.
Another Nativity scene....

Orange, red and white rich and warm looking in the snow.
It obviously is a great place to bring children, and young couples walk hand in hand enjoying the magical colors.
I've seen brides being photographed there as well, with white velvet capes and hoods with fur edging. One bride's cape had a scarlet satin lining.
After we got home again, Jeff whipped up albacore sandwiches for dinner, and now the guys are watching the games while I blog.
Outside the snow is still falling in steady dime sized flakes.
The fifth day of Christmas had many golden moments for me.
I think I liked each of them better than any golden rings.

SLC Christmas: December 28 Friday

A slow least for me.
Jeff headed out to work early, and Bernie saddled up on his lap top for work as well.
I dug into some laundry, clean up, and odds and ends.
Later on Jeff took down his old vertical blinds and put up the new ones. His old one were plain white, no texture, the new ones are beige with a straw cloth/linen look.

Naturally they were not exactly interchangeable. A bracket had to be moved...then holes filled in and touch up paint. Hurrah for power tools though.

Back to work. In between work our next family vacation was booked: Hilton Head/Charleston/Savannah. Bernie found a great flight package. Yeah!

I finished up baking the cookie dough that Laura had made.
Bernie got an ipod from Laura for Christmas.
It is taking a little time to figure out how to load up the music and other features, but now Bernie is in another world with music and drugs all the time.
Which, in this case, is a good thing.
Meowsie decided it was a good day for an all day nap.

ALL day nap. Power snooze. Drug free too...well...we did give him some catnip in the morning. He did a few hops and rolls and batted at a string, so naturally he was bushed after that.
Snow was predicted all day, but all we got were a few tiny flakes now and then. I checked on my snowman several times just to make sure he was still there.
He was.
(Big smile!!!)
Jeff made an awesome salad while chatting with the grandparents. He even used the last of his garden's tomatoes in it.

Yesterday I had him mix up a batch of "No Knead Bread." He baked it in a Corelle casserole dish. (You can just see the new blinds behind Jeff.)

Oh man...this stuff is so good. Jeff made garlic toast out of it, and we had it with lasagna and salad for a dinner while we watched the Oregon State University Beavers play in the Emerald Bowl against Maryland.
Beavers won!!!!
Go Beavers!!!!
Today Jeff and I are going to a yoga class. I've got to get some exercise, and he swears that yoga is the best to keep limber. Tonight we'll see the lights in Temple Square, and other than that the day is unplanned.
Aren't unplanned days fun?
Today is the fifth day of Christmas you know.
How are you thinking of celebrating?
Getting five golden rings is sooo predictable you know.
I'd love to hear what you are going to get instead!