smart phones

This must be because they can do what we normally did ourselves– keep calendars, address books, camera, small libraries, maps, driving directions, and they can even ping to be found if misplaced.

Then you add things.

I love birds so I have an app from Audubon that gives information about all the birds, their songs, habits, areas and migration. I put a Bible app, a star chart, an app for my library and the weather.

This was why I put having one of these off for so long. Initially cell phones in my life were for emergencies. No one even knew I had one. With the disappearance of phone booths if I had car trouble how would I call anybody?

But the lure was too great. And they are pretty handy. Until they completely interfere with your life and sanity.

I first became obsessed with the health app, being a walker of my dogs and self. Now I have to keep this phone with me at all times to count each step I take.. And I found every time I pushed the steps I took this phone increased my daily average. So  now I have to keep up with the phone.

But the most recent distraction is a game my sister-in-law and niece play. This was something I was absolutely sure would not get me hooked.

I was wrong.

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It is a little game, free, called “Word Cookies”. I love words. I only had 2 years of Latin but being a reader I love learning new words. That’s all this game does. It has many levels, modeled after chef names and has levels within them named for foods. Within that there are 20 levels where you’re given a scrambled word, anywhere from 6-8 letters and you have to find all the words within this word as well as unscramble the main word.

I cannot stop playing this.

I never knew I could be so caught up in any game. Along with figuring out the words you collect coins for different tests and games. The coins can be used if you get stumped. The problem with this for me is I easily become frustrated when a simple word is hidden so well I cannot see it, so I use a coin, then berate myself for having wasted the coin for “into” or “ion”. I am not frugal here. Everywhere else in my life I am very careful.

Maybe this can be a test for me to learn better self-control by limiting the amount of time I play this game. Or patience, waiting until the word I cannot find becomes evident.

Either way I can’t let this thing run my life.

And it just added 700 more levels. At that rate I probably won’t live long enough to finish them all.

“Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend.”   –Theophrastus

pictorial musings

Vacations are a time of rest, refreshment, regrouping, regeneration, renewal, restoration, reuniting. A time to reconnect with old friends

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And new ones

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IMG_0471.JPGAnd IMG_0295.JPG renewing promises to ourselves and to our family and friends.

Learning new things and new thoughts

IMG_0411.JPG and realizing that, no matter what, no matter how tangled, complicated, mundane or jaded things become there is a new opportunity with each new day

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to reconnect with our childlike dreams, our impressions, our perceptions

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and remember what we love, what makes us alive, happy, connected to our first love

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and to shine from the inside again.

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Statuary photographs taken at Brookgreen Gardens, Pawley’s Island, SC.

star parties

Perseus it turns out, being a son of Zeus, had a lot of power but evidently did not know it since he went to great lengths with powers borrowed from other gods: winged sandals from Hermes and the shield of Athena, to avenge his mother’s captor, marrying Andromeda along his odyssey way.

They were immortalized as stars. Well, constellations.

I once had a star named for my son. It’s a thing you can do. Of course, they don’t really name the star but you get this official-looking certificate showing the sector of sky and coordinates of the star that makes you think so.

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The Perseids meteor shower began on July 26 this year and will go through the month of August. The peak of the shower is this weekend, a double bonus because there is a new moon so no celestial light “pollution”. Even in cities where there is a lot of light these can be seen.

The shower is actually caused by the comet Swift-Tuttle. Its orbit goes through our atmosphere this time of year and the debris, seeming to come from the Perseus constellation, causes the shower. This one is famous for its large meteors and earth-grazers, fireballs that move slowly through the atmosphere leaving a golden trail.

I am not a night owl and the best time to watch for these is between midnight to just before dawn. For the U.S. they begin to appear above the northeast horizon and around 3 a.m. will occupy the radiant of the entire night sky. They are very dramatic. Like the Leonids in winter. Winter because there is low to no humidity and the atmosphere is much clearer.

My family and I are enjoying our yearly week at the beach beginning today. I fully intend to plant myself out on the sky-dark beach late tomorrow night in a nice beach chair with maybe a beach towel if it gets cool (unlikely) and watch. Even though meteors can be seen pretty much any given night during the year these are most visible. There are between 60-80 meteors per hour at the peak time.

So I hope the sand crabs decide I am just too big an object to drag home for a midnight snack.

“He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them. Great is our Lord and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite.”  –Psalm 147:4-5

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disconnect

So last March I made plans to visit my favorite place in the mountains and returned home earlier today from a 4-day weekend.

It rained.

No, strike that, it poured.

Interstate driving for me is pretty relaxing. For the most part. But this trip? First I made a stop in Charlotte, NC. In a year they have made it nearly impossible to get in or out. There is construction on the east side for a new toll road. Leaving from the north there are mammoth overpasses being built at the conjunction of two interstates and the highway itself is being widened from 6 to what looks like 10 lanes. I lived in Miami and the interstates weren’t that wide. They were parking lots all the time.

Seven hours of driving in a downpour is trouble enough but in mountains it’s a real challenge. People had stopped at underpasses, on the emergency shoulders. Flashing hazard lights everywhere. So I stopped for gas and waited a few minutes till it let up, then set out to go over the mountain.

The Cove in Asheville, a retreat and training center, is itself built on a mountain. Two guest inns, a chapel, cottages for conference leaders, the training center lodge and hiking trails all over the mountain.

My conference– “How to be right without being insufferable”, dealt a good bit with truth. Not agenda-driven truths, Bible truth. The truth so many either have forgotten, chosen to ignore or just don’t believe it applies to them. He was pretty circumspect about everything, assuming most of us were at least open to the Bible being the basis of what is true, and God being a loving but just God, merciful when we ask Him to forgive us, help us, or just listen to us. So after roughly 6 hours of sessions and a few Bible references I got the gist, I think: when we speak to others who may disagree, be loving. See their point of view. Understand where they are coming from. But don’t ever compromise the truth.

Well, that’s a whole other ball of wax. He did not begin to get into psychology, just tried to help us understand never to dodge a question on the truth. Never be afraid to speak up for what is true. And always convey what we speak in love.

So I disconnected one afternoon when (finally!) the sun shone. No sessions were scheduled. After a bite of lunch I raced down the mountain to my room for a change of clothes and sneakers and went up the mountain. IMG_0234.JPG

I forgot how steep it was. Or how high. Gulping in huge breaths of air I stopped now and then at a switchback to steady my heart rate. And looked at the untouched beauty. There are bears, and at this time of year their young are about 7 or 8 months old. Very small, cute and very protected so whenever I heard a crashing sound I moved a little faster. Our black bears are very shy and will scare off if you yell, sing or clap your hands at them but I’d not like to see how that works.

It is beautiful at the mountaintop. As I said to others I met on my way down it is worth the effort. I assured them they were well past the steep parts of the climb (if they were), and told those  who were not that they could make it. At one point on my way up I heard *crunch*crunch*crunch*crunch* behind me and turned to see a young man who is in the military actually running, as if he were going down, not up! I’d never have survived basic training had I enlisted.

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This was the first year I have enjoyed a conference here. Most years I go for a personal retreat, which it is and it is wonderful. But I met so many good people, there were about 300 from 25 states, I am glad I was brave.

And no amount of walking is helping my sore leg muscles!

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