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Friday, December 25, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas At The Mansion


On a beautiful Sunday afternoon my sister, sister-in-law, and I visited the Arkansas Governor's Mansion, the official residence of the governor of Arkansas. I've driven by and looked through the massive wrought iron gates, but I've never been inside before. Somehow I've missed the fact that they have an open house each year at Christmas.


Carolers greeted us as we walked up the steps.



Just stepping into the foyer took my breath away. The mansion's rooms were decorated using the theme "Carols of Christmas" with each room featuring a holiday song or carol. 


I have to admit that I did not recognize the carol "Break Forth O Beauteous Heavenly Light" which was the theme for the dining room. I did look it up and read the words. It was written by Johann Sebastian Bach in 1734. 


The room was filled with elegant silver and gold decorations.



The theme in the formal living room was "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing." This Christmas carol first appeared in 1739 in collection written by Charles Wesley. It was solemn, not the joyful tune we know today. A hundred years later in 1840 a cantata was written by Felix Mendelssohn. William H. Cummings adapted part of Mendelssohn's music to fit Wesley's lyrics.




The many angels placed around the parlor were beautiful!


"Let It Snow" was the theme in the glass atrium. There we found Old St. Nick with his sleigh and beautiful snow covered trees. The lyrics to this carol were written by Sammy Cahn and the music composed by Jule Styne in July 1945. I thought it was interesting that this carol was written in Hollywood, California during a heat wave as Cahn and Styne imagined cooler conditions! We could use a little of those cooler conditions around here, too!!


The lower atrium was decorated with whimsical elves, sweets and goodies. It wasn't the most gorgeous area, but it was a very popular area. There were delicious pastries, cookies, candy, punch and apple cider available for everyone to enjoy. 


Of course the decorations wouldn't be complete without a few Santas around!


I was most happy to see several nativity scenes throughout the mansions. There were small ones to this very large one which was my favorite.

The beauty of the mansion put me in such a good holiday spirit. 

What have you found this Christmas season that brings you joy?

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Let's Go Hiking!


We didn't have a normal Thanksgiving this year. We didn't have our meal on Thursday. We didn't have fancy dishes. We didn't dress up.

In fact, we had our meal on Wednesday. We used throw-away dishes and we ate with a little dirt on our jeans. 

It was the most wonderful Thanksgiving week. We spent our week at a cabin in the beautiful Ozark Mountains. Of course you can't go to the Ozarks with doing a little hiking. 


We all arrived in stages, so on the first day my daughter, her three boys, and I walked the Whitaker Point Trail. Our destination was a rock formation that juts out from the bluff that resembles a Hawk's beak. Thus it's called Hawksbill Crag. It overlooks Whitaker Creek and a huge valley. Above you can see my daughter and boys. Below, I'm with the boys and you can see the rock formation. Although it is a little scary knowing that you're out on a rock even if it is a wide rock. We didn't go near the edge and we made the boys sit down! I'll have to confess, I wasn't about to stand up!


On the second day, my son and his family arrived. We all hiked the trail to The Glory Hole. The Glory Hole is a waterfall cascading through a natural-made hole in a rock down into a cave. The trail is steep in places, especially going down to the bottom of the waterfall where the rocks are damp and slippery with leaves. None of us minded taking a few breaks along the way!


Gramps arrived in time for the hike on the third day. Lost Valley was our destination. This was my favorite trail. It's beautiful with so many rock formations, a waterfall, a cave, and unusual trees. The trail starts out easy, but as you climb becomes more difficult.


Our little Isaac, whose is two, walked with me at the beginning of this trail. We brought up the rear. Ahead of him is Jerry (my husband), Randy (son), Patty (daughter, on left), Aimee (daughter-in-law on right) and the three other grandson way up there in the distance. You can barely see them. Although Isaac walked as much as he could, his dad had to carry him through the difficult parts.


This trail has a Natural Bridge where water flows out of a tunnel into a reflecting pool. Remember I said it got harder. We actually climbed up the right side of the waterfall into the tunnel. I still can't believe I did that. That's me in the picture above, far left.


There's a second waterfall on this trail, Eden Falls. What happens when you put boys and water together? You get lots of rock throwing! As the rocks hit the water their sound echoed loudly around us. It sounded like small canons.


Rest time again!


The rock formations were breathtaking!  


One last picture, of me and the boys. You'll notice that our oldest grandson is not with us except on the first day. He and his dad hiked the Buffalo River Trail, a total of 39 miles. An amazing accomplishment for these two!  So proud of them both!


(picture taken by Jacob, my son-in-law)

Thanks for hanging around and getting to the end. There's just so much I want to share about our week. I'll be back with a few more nature details as soon as I'm able.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What Does The Word Mean - Part III

Another group of words from the challenge to photography "the solace, nourishment and underlying meaning of everyday words" from David Wythe's book, Consolations.

* * * * *

DESPAIR
In the depths of despair when we feel frozen and do not want to be found or to feel, there is still hope. Hope, that will thaw our despair and allow us to return to joy.


* * * * *

DESTINY
The roads I choose for my life are just that; my choices. I believe spiritual guidance is involved in my choices, but not a force the predestines my life.




* * * * *

DISAPPOINTMENT
"What do you do when disappointment comes
When it weighs on you like a rock.
You can either let it press you down
until you become discouraged, 
even devastated, 
or you can use it as a
stepping-stone to better things."
~ Joyce Meyer



* * * * *

FORGIVENESS
Forgiveness is a choice. Choosing to forgive brings reconciliation and a fresh start. Forgiveness will help prevent further deterioration of relationships.



* * * * *

FRIENDSHIP
"A friend
knows our difficulties
and shadows
and remains in sight."
~ David Whyte


I'm still enjoying this study of words. I find myself going past the obvious meaning and searching for a more in depth definition. If you'd like to see how I've photographed others words look here and here. Pick a word today, let it mull around in your mind, and even if your not a photographer think about how you could illustrate it. Words are magic! 

"In words are seen the state of mind
and character and disposition
of the speaker."
~ Plutarch

Friday, November 6, 2015

Is it too early to think about Christmas?


The question:  Is it too early to think about Christmas?
The answer:  YES, IT IS!
BUT, if you don't think about it now it will be gone!
At least the pretty Christmas decorations in the stores will be!
They'll be picked over and sold out!


That being said, a trip to The Painted Tree, a fairly new vintage market, was necessary. I'm not quite sure how to describe The Painted Tree. It's filled with vintage items, repurposed items, new items, and decorator items. All, I know is it's a fun place to spend a couple of hours or more.


I really fell in love with this nativity set and I really want it, but do I need it? No, not really since I don't really have the space to display it properly and it really cost too, much!  Did I use the word really too many times?  I wrote this with a whiny tone in case you can't tell!


The Painted Tree is a wonderful place to find weathered and worn items which I love. There's just something special about old doors and peeling paint that tugs at my heart.



There are always things that stir my memories too, like these vintage pot holders. It will really tell my age, but I loved making these as a child and later helping my daughter weave them on the little loom. As a matter of fact, if I dug in my craft closet deep enough, I would probably find a loom hidden away!


Like I said, there's a little bit of something for everyone. This piano fountain topped the list for unusual. I have mixed emotions about this fountain. It's pretty seeing the water splash over the keys and the sound of the water did seem musical, but being a very nostalgic person, it almost broke my heart. I had trouble getting over the fact that the water was totally ruining the old piano. Although I'm sure the piano was probably on the brink of ruin anyway. I could tell that parts of it had been damaged beyond repair. I suppose a fountain would be better than the dump.

That's it for me, I WON'T think of Christmas again until after Thanksgiving! (yeah right!)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Where ya wanna go?


Where ya wanna go?
I don't know, where ya wanna go?
North, east, south, west?
It doesn't really matter, just get in the car and let's go.

That's what my sister and I did one chilly morning. All we needed to be sure about was that we had our cameras and food. We never go without food! As we wandered west and then north and then east and then south we stopped when we wanted and took lots of pictures. We stopped at four churches. At least I think it was four, may have only been three. My sister has started a project photographing church steeples, so when we spotted a church we stopped.


We photographed an old barn which looked like it might not be standing too much longer.


We wandered through five old cemeteries


including one where some of Jerry's ancestors are buried. It's a small family cemetery, the Rose Garden Cemetery or better know as the Wilheim Cemetery. Jerry's ancestors that are buried here are the first generation of Hubmanns in the US. They immigrated from Switzerland, in the late 1800's. 


They originated from the German speaking section of Switzerland, near the border of Germany. Several of the gravemarkers are engraved in German.


As we made our way home we decided to stop at a garden center. I've never stopped at a garden center just to take pictures. I've been afraid they'd tell me to take my camera and leave, but not here, they welcomed us. We met the nicest lady who also loves photography. She gave us some pointers on where to look for good pictures, which was a big help since the center covers 30 acres.


She also let us use a golf cart to run around in. We hesitated about driving the golf cart. Neither one of us had driven one before and we knew it was pretty simple, but when we're together we can get ourselves in some unusual fixes. Did we dare?  Sure, we'd just be very careful and not drive off into the creek that cut through the property. There was a lot of laughing, but we made it safely around the center. It was beautiful with an amazing array of colors.







Among the pots and birdbaths was the biggest lantana bush I have ever seen. It is taller than I am. We had to check it out and yes, there's just one plant there. I love lantana, since it's so hardy it does well in my unattended yard.


The pansies, what can I say about the pansies? They are the happiest little flowers and they were certainly wearing their best colors!


It doesn't matter which direction we head, we always find interesting and amazing things and places. At the end of the day we're tired, but we feel so relaxed and so grateful for the time we can spent together.

Where ya wanna go next time?
I don't know, where ya wanna go?

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sunday Sundries - Edition 69


"Life is like a Ferris wheel.
One minute you’re on top,
the next you’re at the bottom.
Just stay in your seat,
enjoy the ride,
and hang on until you reach the top again."
- Susan Gale

It's time for me to end my Sunday Sundries posts. Instead of being enjoyable, it has become a chore. It's been a fun ride, but it's time to move on to another adventure.


Friday, October 23, 2015

Reed's Bridge


I was never very interested in history as a child. It seemed that history only consisted of memorizing names, dates, and places. I never was very good at memorizing and struggled through every history class I took. My interest in history peaked later in life. As I've grown older, I've taken the time to read about and visit historical places and I don't have to memorize a thing! One such place is a short drive from home near Jacksonville, Arkansas. Right outside of town is the Civil War Battlefield of Reed's Bridge. Reed's Bridge crossed the Bayou Meto which is a tributary of the Arkansas River. It is a low stream with a miry bed, abrupt banks, and a heavy growth of timber on the sides. 


On the battlefield site a small homestead has been reconstructed. The main log cabin has one room downstairs and an attic for sleeping. When my sister and I arrived the cabin doors were locked. I had been here several years ago and it was all open, but due to vandalism they are now locked. We were a little disappointed that we couldn't go inside. Much to our delight one of the battlefield preservation society members happened to drop by while we were there. He was so kind and opened the doors for us. The inside of the cabin was only lit by the sunshine coming in the two doors. In the attic, the only light was from our camera flash! Therefore, these pictures are really grainy.


The last time I was here I sat in one of two rocking chairs on the back porch and ate lunch. The chairs are no longer there. I wonder if they were destroyed or stolen. 


Behind the main cabin was the cookhouse. The preservation society really did a pretty job of decorating the cabins for autumn.


One of the cabins that had been there several years ago is gone. All that is left is the chimney.


Beside the cookhouse was the garden. 


A beautiful garden still producing vegetables. I've never seen such black, rich soil and I've never seen a garden so healthy in late October!  Someone spends a lot of time here!



 On the other side of the garden is the barn . . .


complete with an old red wagon.


We had a great time exploring the homestead and walking a nearby trail, but as we walked through the battlefield we became more and more quiet. Men were wounded here and lives were lost in the battle to keep the Federal Calvary from crossing the Bayou Meto on their march toward the capital city of Little Rock. At the end of the day the Confederate Army were able to hold the field and the Federal Calvary retreated. There is a feel to this place; a feeling of sadness and loss.