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


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


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


and to shine from the inside again.


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.

images.duckduckgo.jpgnot my photo

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




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!






Last week, in Part One, I wrote about seeds of rage. Seeds we see harvested on the nightly news and in the headlines. But these aren’t the only kind of seeds growing and being harvested in America.

Bundles of Bales 4

A friend read the following article in the Wall Street Journal and passed it on to me and now, I’m passing this on to you. ‘Cause you certainly won’t hear this on the evening news. But could you imagine what would happen if every town U.S.A. adopted the attitude and actions of the citizens of North Platte, Nebraska.

While the story in and of itself is wonderful and amazing, be sure to catch the information this wasn’t the first generation of North Platte citizens who planted seeds of a town united…when called on this isolated town in Nebraska again repeated what they had been taught for several generations.

Thank you, Wall Street Journal…

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So a little over a week ago the weather people told us the U.S. jet stream dipped well into the southeast. This was a good thing, (for here) right? Everything above it was cooler, below it is unimaginably hot.

No one has any idea how long this will be.

Ok, so yes, it’s good (for here) but with this comes rain. Meteorologists can explain why. All I know is we have basically had solid rain for going on 8 days now. With thunder mostly.

The thing about that is rescue dog Lulu won’t eat when it thunders. She turns around in circles by the back porch door, crying until I let her out. But she won’t go outside when it is raining. Well, that’s smart. And I do have these herbal chews thatIMG_0170.JPG are supposed to relax Lulu. They have lavender, chamomile and colostrum. They only help when she collapses in exhaustion from stressing over the rain storms and sleeps for about 2 hours.

2105551020-bfcf7f5f049178968f2aab6a0d35bdf1.jpgBut then rain is a blessing. Obviously without it nothing grows. No gardens, agriculture. No irrigation, no water.  Just because something appears inconvenient or is612294559-aa1bfc74e56dcb5f6d475ea40290989a.jpg not to my liking does not mean it is wrong. I learned long ago my perspective is a tiny fragment of a much bigger picture and the amount of control I have over this picture is not as significant as I sometimes may think. Like the butterfly effect. Generally something that ripples out far beyond anything I will ever see and will have an effect that is far removed from the initial thought or motion.

And many blessings are in the eye of the beholder. In food, in relationships, in acts of nature, in politics. I have learned to, if not be thankful personally then to thank God for whatever purpose He intends for whatever or whomever is the object of the moment. Whether I like it or not.

And I can be like Lily, reluctant to step out into the life that is happening because it is not to my expectation or liking, yet as the popular phrase goes, “it is what it is,” and my participation or lack of will not necessarily change things. It might, though. But avoiding it orIMG_0169.JPG hiding from it will accomplish nothing because Life goes on whether or not I choose to participate.

So, blessings.  Like beauty. Definitely in the eye of the beholder. Moreso if the beholder has wisdom.1599110096-Bible-Passages-Scriptures-Quotes-and-Verses-about-Blessings-pictures-and-images-Blessing-Verse.jpg



the blue velvet poodle parlor

There were many things I wanted to be when I grew up, one of which was veterinarian. Science was not a good subject for me so the closest I came to practicing in an animal hospital was as a veterinary receptionist. This was not complicated. Answering phones, calming agitated pets, occasionally their persons, running a cash register (the worst part of the job), and taking specimens back to the lab. Once in a while a vet would ask for assistance wrestling a dog or cat still to clean ears, give a shot or trim nails or something.

Often clients would ask for recommendations for shampoos, food, or groomers. Hands down, Blue Velvet Poodle Parlor got top recommendations.

This was not easy for me to do. Just saying the name sounded comical. At the time I had a West Highland terrier. My dad had given me a professional dog clipper to groom her. The problem with grooming Westies is they have 2 coats: a soft, downy undercoat and longer, coarse outer coat. The professional method of grooming them is called “stripping” with a special comb/razor blade tool that actually stripped out the undercoat and then they tackled the outer coat, face and legs. This sounded too painful so Dad gave me the clippers.

Having clippers and knowing how to properly use them are not the same.

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I did try to trim Piper’s hair but she got so many curious looks and “what breed of dog is that?” that I gave it up. And decided to try the ‘Poodle Parlor’ having been assured they groomed dogs other than poodles. This establishment was behind and beneath one of the foremost bridal salons in the city. A tiny strip mall of only 3 shops in an exclusive neighborhood, I knew it would be costly.  But I made an appointment.

I brought Piper inside and placed her on the grooming table the groomer indicated. She sized me up as much as Piper. Then she examined Piper, her head to her tail. Looking steadily at me she said, “$35.00?” I nodded, relieved I could afford to do this and left Piper in her care being told to return for her between 4 and 5 pm.

Aside from the blue satin bows behind her ears Piper looked picture-perfect beautiful. She even smelled powdery fresh. She bounced and pranced knowing how nice she looked and likely felt good with 3 pounds less hair.

She enjoyed her visits at the poodle parlor. I don’t even know if it is still there but since I have grown to mistrust American dog breeders, and there are so many healthy dogs in shelters and city pounds in such need of homes I adopt rescues now.

And Lily and Lulu have made it pretty clear they are happy with a brushing and occasional shampoo.

But no clippers.

 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith?”     –Luke 12:27-28



When I was married and my (now ex) husband got a job in Tennessee I was, for the first time, at sea. Fortunately I did not know this. My method then IMG_0109.JPGof adaptation was to flounder comically until I found footing. Others were distracted because I was good at making people laugh by laughing at myself.

One kind person did take me under her wing (briefly) to help with altar guild at the church we attended (briefly). Before she finally gave up realizing I was not detail oriented she told me to “bloom where I was planted.” This was wisdom I’d never before heard because I’d bloomed well wherever I’d been, just not there. And I have not forgotten what she said and it has been helpful at times over the now very many years.

No matter where I have alit in life I have made a friend or two and gratefully we have kept in touch. I learned that people are basically the same –good– wherever I am, no matter their manner or customs.

After rescue dogs Lily and Lulu and I have taken our pre-dawn morning walk I set out to take a longer walk, more for exercise than sniff for messages. One recent morning I came upon a plant that somehow I’d not seen before. This thing is called a blue agave or century plant since it blooms once every hundred years. And here this thing had sent up its inflourescence (flower). I thought it was a yucca but their flowers are very difIMG_0104.JPGferent and nowhere near as tall as that. The blooms are ivory-colored and branch singly off the flower stalk. They do not appear to have branches like a small tree.

I marveled at this plant! Here is something on the outer back corner of a drug store that looks like it was planted as more of an afterthought. It has grown here happily in nutrient-poor sandy soil and bright, full scorching sun since and now shows itself in all its glory. I wondered if anyone else saw the flower. It’s really important because, after this plant flowers it dies! It sends out what are called pups or little plantlets, offshoots, but the original one’s life is over. I don’t think this plant has been here for 100 years. I suppose it’s possible but the subdividing and development that is going on in this town lends itself more to plants being put in the landscape when buildings are built. I somehow doubt construction would have protected this single plant when the store was being built.

I could be wrong.

IMG_0124.JPGThis is another one in the landscape of a subdivision near the one that is blooming


This is a baby one I have. They grow very slowly. And though they are the plant from which culinary agave nectar or tequila are made I do not know how to do this and I bought this plant more for decorative landscape purposes than imbibing. If what I learned about it is true I likely will not live long enough to see it bloom. Though I have seen an aloe bloom, in Florida. It has a tall stalk with pretty orange and yellow flowers.

So while Lily and Lulu have no problem making themselves right at home, wherever they find themselves

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it may take some of us longer to bloom.

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”    2 Peter 3:8