Category Archives: Reflection

Shadow’s Spread


Good morning everyone!

This Summer's Bedspread

Usually, Mark and I keep the same bedspread on our bed year round, only changing it out periodically to get it cleaned, but this summer, we decided to switch the regular comforter out for a lighter bedspread.  The bedspread  is  lighter and more comfortable than the regular comforter for summer, but there is another reason I like the bedspread, aged though it is.

 
 

Quilting that remains on bedspread

Shadow loved this bedspread.  It was originally quilted.  Stitch by careful stitch, night after night, without messing up one single square of fabric or alerting us to what she was doing, over the course of her 16 years, Shadow managed to pull out every one of the quilting threads in the bedspread, leaving only a few on the side.

Before and After

We have been without Shadow for over nine years now, but I still won’t get rid of her bedspread.  20 years from now, in whatever condition it is, I still will be carrying it around.  I can’t touch Shadow any more, but I can touch the bed spread she worked so hard on, and smile at the memory.

Shadow and I at Calloway Gardens

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

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Blogging Lessons I Have Learned


Good morning Everyone!

This post today will be my 108th post.  I have been blogging since February 22, and this is as good a time as any to take stock of what I have learned since then.

1)   It is wonderful to be able to write something someone else reads and have them say, “I like that!” 

2) I have written approximately 54,000 words in 108 posts which have included 516 images.  Each post has taken (on average, unless lots of pictures are involved) 45 minutes or less to write.  That is equivalent at least to a novella! 

3) I can sit down every day and write.  In fact, I enjoy doing it.

4) SEO does not involve a corporation’s management structure, bounce rate is not a basketball statistic and “keyword” and “password” are not equivalent terms.

5) The “site stats” page on WordPress is addictive.

6) So is getting Freshly Pressed.  It happened to me once, (Rules I Never Thought I’d Need) and I still harbor a faint hope with every post I make that another one will get Freshly Pressed some day…

7)  There are lots of extremely interesting people from all over the world who read this blog.  I have had the chance to get to know some of them.

8)  My family and friends read this blog almost every day –  devotion above and beyond the call of duty.  Some people who didn’t know me originally read this blog almost every day, too, which is really amazing!

9) My daughter is an exceptionally good sport to let me write about her.  The dogs don’t really care what I write about them.  Mandy is much better at finishing her food now that I write beside her while she eats.  (Dog Rules)

10) Toasted bagels with peanut butter and typing on a keyboard are a messy combination. 

11) Someone out there keeps searching “husky-basset hound mixes.”  Whoever you are, I would be really interested to know why.  I thought we had the only husky-basset hound mix in the world. 

Mandy, Our Husky-Basset Hound Mix

12) No matter how many cameras you have, (I’m at 3 right now), you still can manage to forget to bring one when you need it.

13) Even the most mundane things are funny, if you look at them the right way.  (Light Switches.) 

Hall Light Switch

14) I love to hear from you, and am very grateful to every reader who has taken the time to comment on a blog. 

15) Pens continue to disappear at an alarming rate at my house.  (Of Waves and Pens.)

16) Life is beautiful and it is fun to share!

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident


Happy Fourth of July! 

For those of you who read this blog and aren’t from the United States or familiar with our history, the Fourth of July is the day we celebrate the creation of our nation.  July 4, 1776 is the day that the delegates to the Continental Congress voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence, setting forth the grounds for our choice to become our own country. 

The Declaration of Independence is one of the two most important founding documents in our country.  (The other is the Constitution, adopted in its original form in 1787.)  It was written by Thomas Jefferson, and approved by a committee appointed by the Continental Congress, which included John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. FN. 

The Declaration of Independence is a masterpiece of prose and a cornerstone of political theory.  It contains the grandest sentence ever written in American literature. 

We hold these truths to be self-evident:  that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

The men who adopted this document were not angels, not perfect, not supermen.  No women or minorities were at the convention, and there were men among them who were slave-owners, among them Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.  But these men understood that people had the right to be governed with their consent, and understood that, at the end of the day, all humankind is entitled to certain fundamental rights that should not be stripped from them.  They were men who stood to lose everything if they lost the war for independence, and they came very close to doing so.  The fact that our nation survived the next six months is a miracle.  (Read David McCullough’s 1776, and you will understand why.) 

How many of us lately have had to put everything on the line for our beliefs, our lives, our property, our families’ welfare?  We honor the members of the military who have chosen to do so and marvel at the fact that they are volunteers.  The fact that we don’t have to is owed in part to these first few men who had the vision and the courage to adopt the document to start the nation whose birth we celebrate today. 

Our nation is not, and has never been, perfect.  It can’t be, because no person is perfect and our government is governed by people.  But we never give up the quest for perfection, sometimes improving in leaps and bounds, sometimes starting to lag a little bit behind, but always, ultimately, based upon the hopes and dreams of the entire populace, moving forward just a little bit more.

Please have a good time today; enjoy your barbecue time, your family celebrations and your fireworks.  But also please take a small moment of time to think about what it is to be an American, what our nation stands for and how we who are Americans can help it to move forward and thank God for the great gifts he has given to us.  Then this holiday will not only be a good Fourth of July for you and your family, but for our whole country also.

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

FN.  John Adams was a key player in getting the Continental Congress to declare independence, and the second president of the United States. David McCullough has written an excellent biography of him that is worth reading, and HBO did a mini-series on his life that also was excellent. I am going to make the rash assumption that Benjamin Franklin needs no introduction, but Walter Isaacson wrote a very good biography of him also.

Hometown Heroes: The 214th Comes Home


Hi Everyone!

I hope you had a great weekend!  It is unusual for me to need two or three days to put a post together, but I think this one was worth the effort.

I have written before about aspects of living in a small town, e.g. Of Waves and Pens, but last week I was privileged to observe another facet in the town where I have worked for over 20 years.  

Last year, on June 12, 2010, the Alabama Army National Guard 214th Military Police Company was deployed to Iraq for the third time, this time to help train Iraqi police officers. (The 214th’s prior deployments were in 1991, as part of Operation Desert Storm, when it was awarded the Meritorious Unit Award, and in 2003. )

364 days later, on Friday, June 10, 2011, the small town where I work turned out to welcome the first wave of returnees back home.  Originally, 170 members were deployed; over 100 of those got to come home Friday; another 57 will follow in about three weeks.  While the unit draws on individuals from my working town, the neighboring communities and one small city, the deployment of 170 people always has a serious impact on small towns and their surrounding communities.  There is an economic price since there are not as many people to buy things, but there is an even larger human price – each one of those guard members have family – husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, children, aunts and uncles and cousins – who need to “hold the fort” while the members are gone.  I am sure there are sleepless nights for both the guard member and the family, wondering how things are going “over there” and hoping that nobody gets hurt.  A small town feels that pain, necessarily, more so than a larger community.  It is hard not to know someone affected by the Guard’s deployment in one manner or another; even if you don’t have a deployed member in your family, you know someone who does. 

These men and women, who choose to serve, leave their families when asked by the Army to fly halfway across the world in order to protect all of us.  They deserve our respect, and gratitude, and I was very proud of my town for showing out in force to demonstrate both.

Well before Friday, yellow ribbons started appearing all over town, welcoming home the 214th.  There was a yellow ribbon on the local hospital’s main sign:

The Local Hospital

at the antique and framing store downtown:

Local Store

 

One of the prettiest buildings used by local government had its yellow ribbons also.

as well as the town roundabout.  (The town roundabout is the latest answer to a traffic issue my town has faced for over 100 years, the circle around the courthouse square.  When a great fire came along and destroyed much of the city in the 1900’s, a newspaper article was written expressing the hope that something could be done to better enable traffic flow around what was, at the time, the County Courthouse.  The roundabout has helped some, although when I am in a particularly absent-minded mood,  I sometimes have the feeling that I may have circled the road three or four times before I hit the right exit!) 

Because of its location, the town roundabout is, in a way, the heart of the city.  It was properly decorated with ribbons was well.

Our law office had yellow ribbons on both the front and the back doors.

As did much of the rest of downtown:

Downtown

On the four-lane highway through the outskirts of town, each light post was decorated with a yellow ribbon also, while every other light post had two flags on each side of it.  A huge cliff in our area, called Patriot’s Point for the huge flag that permanently resides there, also boasted a “Welcome Home 214th” sign about halfway up the cliff – someone had to do some climbing to get there!

On the four lane and at Patriot Point

Here’s a closer look at the sign:

Patriot Point Sign

The City Sportplex decorated both of their entrances with yellow ribbons:

Entrance to the City Sportplex

Looking up at the Flag at the Sportplex

as did many other business in the area, including two funeral homes, the local community college, City Hall, and a multitude of stores.  By the time all the ribbons were up, you could definitely tell that something was about to happen!
 
And then that something did happen, on Friday about 12:30 p.m. Word came that the two air-conditioned buses carrying the returning members were approaching, and the final preparations were made. The local police stopped traffic for the parade route.
 
 People gathered at spots where they thought they would be able to see the buses and the people in the buses would see them; I chose a side road for my observation point because the next turn the buses would take from that side road was the road that would lead them to the armory. From my spot, I could see people gathering: 
 
Cheerleaders from the local schools:

Local Cheerleaders wait.

The Crowd Gathers

And other people, as well.
 
 This woman was waiting for her nephew to come back home,

Waiting for her nephew

 
 
 
as were these people beside her:
 
 
Finally, after about 20 minutes more of waiting, we started hearing sirens and cheering coming from the four lane, which let us know that they were about to arrive!  The first escort car that pulled around in front of the buses was a local radio station’s car, closely followed by a police cruiser, who was then followed by the two buses. 

The Procession begins

More people wait

Then the police car leading the buses came up the road, with its lights flashing and sirens on.

Second Vehicle in the procession

 Followed by the first bus:

Bus 1

Then, as the buses pulled into sight, the people started waving:
 

Waving hello as the buses get into sight.

Finally, the buses themselves came into view, rounded the corner and took the final turn that would lead them back to the armory, where their families were waiting for them.
 
 

Second Bus

The final road to the armory

I did not choose to go forward toward the armory to see the final reunion between loved ones;  that moment belongs to the families, and only to them, but it made me feel happy to know how many families were about to be made happy and whole again. 

I am very proud of my working town for putting together a celebration that would help these military members know how welcome they are, and how much we honor their service, but I am even prouder of the men and women coming home; their service is essential to our country’s security and I admire them for the sacrifice that they make. 

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

Next Article Published on Yahoo: Words That Let You Live: Six Inspirational Bible Verses and What They Mean To me


Hi Everyone!

I have had another article published on Yahoo. This assignment was to write about six inspirational Bible verses, so I chose six and explained why they matter to me right now. I hope you enjoy the article. Here is the link:

Six Inspirational Bible Verses

I hope you enjoy the article!

Nancy

P.S.  This is not my post for the day; I just wanted to share!

Poem for Memorial Day


Hi Everyone!

I wrote the following poem for Memorial Day, which, for any readers not from the United States, is the day we set aside to honor the men and women throughout our history who died serving their country.  This poem is for all of them, but especially for my cousin Charles.  Please read it, and then forward to others so that we all take a minute during this three day weekend to think about its purpose.  Thanks!

Memorial Day:  A Beacon Lifted High

Nancy

Why are the birds so happy? Don’t they know it’s morning?


Hi Everyone!

It’s morning again, and I am still trying to shake off the tiredness that comes just from having to wake up before 6 (or 7 or 8 ) in the morning, in between rescuing various articles of clothing from Darwin this morning – so far I have rescued a shoe (in time to prevent damage) and a sock (already crippled for life, but just as a matter of principle I don’t think I should let him keep it.) 

Darwin

But outside, even with the windows shut, I can hear the many birds that inhabit the woods around our neighborhood chirping at the top of their lungs.  It’s a pleasant enough sound, but it does cause me to wonder, WHY DON’T THEY EVER SLEEP IN? 

Exhibit A: The Rooster That Crows at Dawn

If you are up early enough (and I try very hard not to be) they are even happier and louder immediately before sunrise.  WHY?  They don’t have to be anywhere at any particular time, although all that foraging for food certainly does take a lot of time, but always are up at the (pre-)crack of dawn anyhow.  They must have a lot of the foraging done before noon, because by that time of the day, at least our suburban birds have grown for the most part silent, except for the occasional red-winged black bird that likes to sit on telephone polls and make sporadic cries all afternoon.  The mocking birds will occasionally get into a spat around mid-day too, but other than that it gets pretty quiet. 

The Red-Winged Blackbird; Photo by Alan D. Wilson

Are they able to get up so early because they get to take a nap mid-day?  If that’s the case, how do I sign up for the whole mid-day nap thing?  I lost the right to take a mid-day nap somewhere around kindergarten and would really like to re-claim it at some point!  I kept begging Kayla to hold onto her nap privileges as long as she could when she was in pre-school and kindergarten, but alas, like most short-sighted 5 and 6 year olds, she couldn’t wait until she didn’t have to take one anymore!  The birds get to keep nap time; why can’t I?   

 All of which proves yet again that I am NOT a morning person.  I’m not the only one  – I suspect the Owl inherited the night because he didn’t hold with all this bright and perky morning stuff either!

The Great Horned Owl, taken by Peter Manidis (AKA falxius)

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

Thoughts on the Way Home from Pri-Med


Hi Everyone!

Tuesday night, Mark and I decided we both needed to go to Pri-Med as that most elegant of Southern illnesses, the crud, simply refuses to leave us alone even after two (Mark) and one (me) rounds of antibiotics, and it appeared we were headed South towards bronchitis.  Since we went, of course, Kayla had to go too. 

From Print Shop 2.0 Professional

We had a rough start to the evening when I discovered that on the day when Kayla knew she had the most homework to get done for the week, she chose not to do a single bit of it at after school care.  Not her best move with two sick parents!  So she was working on long division in the back seat of the car, while I was trying to help her from the front seat while Mark drove.  Long division is not the best subject to work on for homework at any time; she knows how to do it but wants someone to verify that each step is correct as she does it (not exactly equivalent to actual test conditions!) and if you don’t she tends to get frustrated.  Still, we prevailed somehow.

Kayla's Spring School Picture (Age 9)

When we got to Pri-Med, we had to wait for a while, which gave her time to finish the spelling and the long division, and then once we were in the examination room, we reviewed her science notes.  The doctor came in, looked at us, and sent us home after two shots each (Kayla was quite relieved when she realized it was her parents and not she that had to take the shots) and more prescriptions. 

From Print Shop Professional 2.0

It was on the way home that Kayla became thoughtful.  It had started to rain and she had been chattering away in the back seat without my really paying attention (don’t tell me you don’t do that either sometimes as a parent!) when something she said caught my attention.  I asked her to repeat it and she told me that she knew why clouds rained.  I asked her why, and she told me that just like we get full of water and had to go the bathroom, the clouds get full of water and have to go to the bathroom too.  That’s what I thought I had heard her say originally.  It’s not the most elegant analogy but at the same time, I couldn’t really fault her logic, either.  (When I was her age, we lived in San Diego and went to Sea World frequently, where they had a fountain show about water with a song, and the first lines of that song are indelibly etched in my brain for some reason – “The seas yield vapor to the skies, and the skies return it as rain.”  Isn’t that close to the same thing she is talking about?) 

From Print Shop 2.0 Professional

Then she chattered away some more before announcing that she was starting to not like barbecue, so she was afraid she was turning into a veterinarian.  We corrected her word choice to vegetarian, which she agreed was what she meant, and Mark explained that just because she didn’t necessarily like the barbecue at school anymore, didn’t mean that she wouldn’t like all barbecue, and that there were lots of other meats besides barbecue.  (I promise, folks, we eat lots of meat at home, and most of the time it is not barbecue.)  She was relieved, because I don’t think she really was ready to “turn into” a vegetarian.  

Breakfast with Cheese Grits

I explained that at the end of the school year, (we have about three weeks left) the cafeteria probably is trying to use up everything it can so there isn’t anything left to spoil over the summer.  This observation did not placate her;  she reared up in outrage and said, “Good Grief!  Why on earth don’t they use up all the cheese grits then!”  I wanted to say it was because she probably had eaten all of the school’s stock already  (last I heard, she gets six helpings of the things when they do have them at school) but I didn’t.  After that she got sleepy, which ended her reflections and let us put a sweet, tired little girl to bed when she got home.

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

Help: I Need a Break From News!


Good morning everyone!

Today I am going to practice speed blogging, which is code for the fact that I tried switching my morning routine up by doing everything I needed to do to get myself dressed and Kayla and Mark out the door and the dogs fed (except for Mandy finishing up – bless her heart, when I came out to sit down and blog, she still was eating her food) and then write my post – but without getting up earlier, which is the second part of my plan for a smoother morning.  So, I am sitting here in a dress with (almost) perfect make-up and smoothed over hair and 25 minutes to write.  I suspect the getting up earlier is going to have to happen, too. 

  • Help!  I need a break from the news.

It has been quite a news laden few days, hasn’t it?  We had the tornadoes come through Alabama (and other states) on the 27th during the day and night in what was one of the worse tornado outbreaks in history, so we spent Thursday the 28th beginning to deal with the their aftermath, which was particularly immediate here in Alabama.  Then, on Friday the 29th, we had the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, who are now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, which received extensive media coverage throughout the weekend, and then Sunday night May 1 Osama Bin Laden was captured and killed and the media coverage since then has dealt exclusively with that. 

The three events are very different, aren’t they?  The tornadoes’ aftermath is horrible, and we in Alabama are just beginning to pick up the pieces and will be working to fix the damage for a very long time.  Most of the day Thursday (and a good part of Friday, even while we were keeping an eye on the wedding, those of us with electricity at least) was spent simply trying to find out if the people we knew in the affected areas and their families were safe and had homes.  In Alabama, no-one is much further than one degree of separation from knowing someone who either lost a home or a  loved one in the storm. 

The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton was a lovely and happy occasion, and, whether you like it or not, an event worthy of the coverage it received – after all, one day, Prince William will be the head of State of many countries, including the United Kingdom (where he also will be the head of the military), Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Jamaica and several other places.  (I admit, I had to look that up.)  I did get a little irritated at the ridiculousness of some of the style and fashion coverage, but it was an event deserving of world-wide coverage and at least it was beautiful to watch. 

Then the death of Osama Bin Laden – to me it was a solemn, somber event.  He needed to be pursued and captured for the terrible crimes on September 11, and if he died in the capture attempt, then he died.  But that death is also a reminder of all of the lives lost on September 11, 2001, and the terrible price we have been forced to pay in lives, money and in the shift in the fabric of our lives as a result of that day.  My family lost a cousin of mine in Iraq a few years ago, a lovely man who simply was serving his country at the time.  My daughter will never know what it was like to take a plane to the airport and have your loved ones waiting at the gate to meet you – remember getting off the plane and running to hug your grandparents, parents or friends right there when you came off the gangplank?  Or going to pick someone up, and standing eagerly by the window as you watched the plane pull up to catch that first glimpse as that someone got off the plane?  Or taking someone to catch a plane, and being able to stand in the gate area and wave and watch until the plane taxied away and began to take off even though you knew they couldn’t see you?  She won’t even know what it is like to get on an airplane without having to take her shoes off, an operation I never can manage without a great deal of awkwardness! 

So, until next Monday at least, can we just have a quiet, peaceful period of news where the main story is about a dog that saved its master by dialing 911 (or was that a cat?  I don’t remember), or inner city children from Los Angeles enjoying a field trip to Washington D.C. courtesy of an eccentric philanthropist, or the invention of the riding vacuum cleaner, self-folding dryer or self-emptying dishwasher or Congress engaging on a lengthy debate on something completely innocuous such as whether the possibility of farming raspberries in the middle of the Arctic ocean should be explored?  The breather would sure be appreciated!

Have a great day everyone!

Nancy

The Morning After


Good morning folks!

It was a wild last night at our house, and I am sure at many other houses throughout the State of Alabama.  Tornados ripped through our state with a frequency and magnitude I have not seen before.

Tornado in Tuscaloosa. Source: ypages.twitter.bjmillican

I am thankful that our house, neighborhood and town do not appear to have been very hard hit, although another part of our county as well as the county where I work suffered severe damage.  And I mourn for the loss of life that I know has happened and which will be revealed during the day.

Only some of the devastation in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Source: WRBC TV.

From the Birmingham News: Devastation in Cullman, Alabama

As the sun comes up, the full extent of what happened will be revealed, and the full enormity of the damage as well.  The effects of what happened here, in this state, will begin to sink in with an immediacy that even the highest amount of compassion can’t give you unless you have been to, or know someone from, that place. 

Almost everyone in our state has driven to or conducted business in at least one of the places that have been damaged.  Because we are one of the smaller states population wise, even if our area survived intact, many of us are concerned about relatives and friends in other areas of the state. 

 So today, I will pray a prayer of gratitude for the storm passing over me and mine this time, and a prayer for healing and hope and comfort for every one of those people whom the storms hit, and the families of those who were killed.  And then see what else I can do to help from where I am….

Sunrise from our house, April 28, 2011

Please have a good day, and stay safe, wherever you are!

Nancy