Memorial Day Observance

Memorial Park Cemetery
Sioux City, Iowa
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Those who have long enjoyed such privileges as we enjoy

forget in time that men have died to win them.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
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I’ve loved this photo for years. It wasn’t very good, but the emotions when I saw those flags was so strong that day and it has stayed with me ever since. Let me put it this way – it only took me a couple of minutes to dig this out of all the film photos I have stored!

This year finally, my skill set was good enough to do something with it.

I created this using the following:

From Topaz Studio:

  • Finger Painting
  • Crisp Morning Run

From on1:

  • Radiance Sunshine
  • Black Soft Glow
  • Red Door Texture
  • Subtle Vignette
  • Dano Border

Happy All Year

One of my blogging friends used this phrase recently – Happy All Year – and I really liked how it captures the feeling of carrying blessings through the entire year, not just one one day. Doesn’t that just warm your heart to be happy all year?  It does mine.

I pray for all of you to be Happy All Year, to rejoice in the life you have, to be faithful with the resources you’ve been given, and to give thanks for a good life, whatever it may be.

To cheer your heart, here’s the Christmas pictures from 2014.  The first set are the “normal” family pictures.  The second set. . . well, we had fun.

 

If you look carefully at the last picture, it appears my daughter is aiming the remote at the mastiff to turn it off!  This is after my son-in-law tried to wrap up the same dog for a gift for one of us.

 

Merry Christmas 2014!

When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.
— Bob Hope

Merry Christmas everyone!  Enjoy your family and friends, be of a cheerful heart, and love what you have.

[The pictures were taken by my son-in-law and used with his permission.  I did some stylizing in Topaz Adjust that resulted in some slight changes.]

A Walk At Night

After a diligent weekend of doing laundry, cooking and paying bills, I skipped out after supper to take a night walk at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.  I wasn’t planning on taking pictures – I really wanted just a walk – but I hadn’t taken any daily pictures.  Oops.  So I took my camera and tripod and practiced some night photography.

This year’s theme is bicycling, a nod to Lewis Ginter’s bicycle club as well as the 2014 USA Cycling Race that came through Richmond this summer and the UCI Road World Cycling Championships coming in 2015.  There were a number of bicycle themed decorations, but the Christmas tree made up of all bicycles was the best!  I’ve ever quite seen a Christmas tree like that before.

If you blow up some of the other pictures, you’ll see that I figured out the aperture settings on my camera to get the little starbursts on the lights.  Cool!  I was really pleased with it.  I even got a flare on the moon – that’s not a Topaz effect – I got it with my camera.

Greenhouse at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia
Greenhouse at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia

Because it was nearly 8 pm by the time I got to the gardens, I didn’t have a lot of crowds getting in the way.  As closing time came, the garden emptied out quickly.  Of course, being so cold helped encourage the crowds to leave.  I wore my heavy hiking boots, but even with that  my feet got cold after several hours.

Since I have more time this holiday season, I plan to go back and hone my night photography skills more.  Well, no, I mostly want to go just to enjoy the lights and pretty things.  Because it was just fun to walk around in the cold, look at the holiday decorations, and simply enjoy being there.  But working on night photography skills just sounds so much more noble.

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
Norman Vincent Peale

 

 

Christmas Long Ago

Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Almost 50 Years Ago

This year for Christmas, I’ve been fascinated with decorations.  I want to look at them, photograph them, and just enjoy them.  I was browsing the Williams-Sonoma catalog and found a lovely set of Christmas plates and started drooling.  I wanted those plates!  It didn’t make sense.  We don’t have parties or entertain.  We go to our daughter’s house every holiday.  But those plates just called to me.

Continue reading “Christmas Long Ago”

Battle of the Turkeys

My son-in-law, my daughter, and his cousin's wife
My son-in-law, my daughter, and his cousin’s wife

One of the newest traditions for Thanksgiving is the battle of the turkeys, done for the second time this year.

My daughter roasts a turkey in the oven; my son-in-law smokes it in the Big Green Egg.  There’s a fair amount of taunting teasing as to who will have the superior turkey, along with the usual craziness of trying to get them to both finish at the same time.

And for the second year, the oven roasted turkey won!  My poor son-in-law.  He needs to up his game if he’s going to win this challenge.  It’s either that or get razzed again next year.

My son-in-law relaxing while waiting on the turkey in the smoker.
My son-in-law relaxing while waiting on the turkey in the smoker.

And for your entertainment, I also have some baby bump pictures.  My daughter finally looks pregnant!

Book Review: You’re Already Amazing

[Today’s photos are from this week’s photo challenge of “forward”, using pictures from Christmas 2011 at our daughter’s house.  To see more pictures of the puppy at play, click here.]

One of the non-fiction books that I recently completed was “You’re Already Amazing” by Holly Gerth.  Written for Christian women, it encourages us to accept and apply to our lives that we are the way God made us and that it’s time to let go of the expectations, the over-busyness, and the overly critical ways we treat ourselves.

At the very end, she summarizes her book by saying:

You’re already amazing because God made you, formed you, and lives within you.  You’re amazing because you belong to him, because he has a plan for your life, because with him there’s nothing you can’t do.

We're looking forward to visiting our daughter if we just get through this traffic!
We’re looking forward to visiting our daughter if we just get through this traffic!

Her website has interactive tools from the book that can be downloaded.

Other things I enjoyed from her book:

  • Appreciate our strengths and accept our weakness, because if we were good at everything, we wouldn’t focus on anything.
  • Our goal is not to be perfect nor is it to make everyone happy.
  • The skills we use to display our strengths will change with the seasons of our lives.
  • God doesn’t compare us to anyone us and neither should we.
  • ALL of our emotions are gifts from God.
  • God’s journey for our life is different than everyone else’s.
  • We need to align our lives with love in the way God created us to be.

It's always much better to see the sunset when we look forward instead of looking into the mirror to see it behind us.
It’s always much better when we’re driving on these trips to see the sunset when we look forward instead of looking into the mirror to see it behind us.

In the book, Holly says:

You are not required to please people.  You don’t have to meet their expectations.  You are a servant with one master. . . If you’re loving God, others, and yourself, then you’re already doing enough. . . You have a purpose no one else has, and how that unfolds will look different for you than for any other woman in your life.

This is hard for women!  We feel that we have to keep up with others around us; meet the expectations of our families, friends and employers; and in general, be someone other than who we really are.

There's usually a litter of puppies when we go visit.  This one got himself stuck under the table.  He eventually propelled himself forward and got out.  We weren't sympathetic - it kept him out of mischief for a few minutes.
There’s usually a litter of puppies when we go visit. This one got himself stuck under the table. He eventually propelled himself forward and got out. We weren’t sympathetic – it kept him out of mischief for a few minutes.

It’s a fine line to walk – the need to improve ourselves and wear off our rough edges while accepting our personalities, needs and wants and not letting others diminish or denigrate them.  For example, my need for solitude replenishes me mentally, emotionally and physically.  If I’m not careful though, it can also be an excuse to avoid people and situations and not get things done.

I highly recommend the book and the exercises at the end of each chapter plus the end of the book.  It’s a welcome encouragement to be ourselves and see our lives as Jesus intended them to be.

Awww. . . so tired after being a terror.  At least he fell asleep facing forward so I could get some pictures of that sweet face.
Awww. . . so tired after being a terror. At least he fell asleep facing forward so I could get some pictures of that sweet face.

At The Stroke of Midnight

Today’s daily prompt asks,

Where were you last night when 2012 turned into 2013?
Is that where you’d wanted to be?

What a laugh!  I was where I usually am at midnight on New Year’s Eve – giving my sweetie a kiss as we wish each other a Happy New Year.  And as happens on so many years, we were watching Dr. Who re-runs.  This year was the David Tennant series (2006 to 2009), when he’s between companions, having just left Donna Noble behind.

We’ve been doing this for years.  Once upon a time, it was the Tom Baker series (1974 to 1981), complete with a small child in her pajamas who was fascinated with Dr. Who and his many villains.  Our favorite Dr. Who is Christopher Eccleston (2005), who only had one season.  He was outrageous, brash, and larger-than-life.  He was a thug, not a dandy.  But in the end, we enjoy them all for their individual quirks.

Over the years, we’ve critqued and compared the various Dr. Who’s and their companions.  We’ve laughed, slept, and snacked our way through the various New Year’s Eve’s.  Very few are memorable, but what we remember is each year being here at home, telling each other “I love you”, and starting the year with a kiss.

It doesn’t get much better than that and yes, that’s exactly where I wanted to be!

I don't think it looks comfortable, but he seems to like it.
I don’t think it looks comfortable, but he seems to like it.

Over at A Daily Life are links on the controversy regarding the terms of service for Instagram, a reminder to act by January 19, and a link for how to download your photos and delete your account.  Click here to read more.