Thursday, June 25, 2015

Back Roads Only

A 35 mile drive on an old gravel road beside the Colorado River is breathtakingly beautiful.  Rather than trying to describe it, just look at the photos.   Some call this the "Don't Be In A Hurry Road" running through Gore Canyon and valleys, sparsely dotted with a few historic ranches.  A "real" cowboy was rounding up an escaped cow too.  Not fun for him but an authentic view for us.

Dramatic is not over stating the surroundings.   Take a look.....and, oh, the wild yellow roses blooming this time of year. And picnicking in Hot Sulphur Springs, and the Arapaho Wildlife Preserve...  What a day!

Wild Roses
A Paved Portion of Road
River, Rails, and Road

Sheared Rock

Where We Stayed

Friday, June 19, 2015

Best Part Of Yesterday

A summer Colorado road trip brings a load of delights...and a sunburn and dehydration if you aren't careful.  It's really a feast for the eyes and the soul.
Wading in the Colorado River quickly went from being refreshing to my feet to, oh yeah,  "this is liquid snow" freezing!!!  And then a little movement in the brush and I got to see a moose up close...chomping away on his breakfast!    Being super careful I just stood there taking it all in...and wishing for this peaceful moment to encompass everyone and everything.
From a snowy picnic in the woods to heart stopping drop off ledges over two miles high, a day spent on Trail Ridge Road headed toward Estes Park in Colorado never fails to delight.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cumberland Island, Ga

If you ever want to visit a completely natural beach that is also in vogue because John Kennedy married Carolyn Bessette here, Cumberland Island off the coast of Georgia, fills the bill.

The Spanish first brought horses to our country and let them run wild and breed on Cumberland.  Even today they raise and feed themselves, not attended in any way by humans.  Not the healthiest horses because they eat way too much salt in their natural sea habitat, but I bet they love it.  

There is an ongoing feud of a sort among conservationists in the area.  Are the horses being neglected because their needs are not met by humans and they are not healthy and, yes, they eat too much salt.  Or are they in their natural bliss and want to be left alone.  What do you think?

Enjoy the view!

Amelia River...I think.
Can't you just imagine a sweet wedding in here?
A picture of the photographer.

After way too much lunch and some to take home for tonight.
Boats and more boats everywhere.
These horses only live about 10 years because they eat too much salt!
New baby horse and mom.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Z Is For Zumba: A To Z Challenge

Beautiful April is almost over, and so is this A To Z Blogging Challenge.  The challenge was to blog every day, except Sundays, going right through the alphabet to choose your topic.  So, finally, today is Z! 

Whenever I go to Zumba class, like I did this morning, I watch the instructor with laser focus.  If I don't I'll surely "mess up" and salsa left when I should salsa right. 

But every now and then my mind wanders.  Today I found myself thinking, "Wonder what I could write about for Z?"  Of course, zoo came immediately to mind and was promptly rejected.  Then, the even-more-obvious choice came to mind and I decided to end the challenge with zumba.

It's been a couple years since I've been into exercise.  Although it should be a priority, sometimes life gets in the way and it falls to the bottom of my list.  But today I went back and recognized the faces and the music and even a few of the steps.  If you haven't zumba-d yet, try it.  If you don't have a class, you can find one on You Tube.

The dance craze came out of Colombia in the 1990's and despite rumors that it is fading away, I don't think it ever will.  It's fun and is good for you too.  The choreography includes hip-hop, salsa, samba, and  merengue' with a few squats and lunges thrown in.  Creative instructors add a few golden oldies too, so we get a little mashed potato and twist in the mix...and maybe even YMCA.

Thanks to the sponsors of this Challenge and for the time it takes to monitor and encourage.  It has been interesting. See you again next year.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Y Is For Yachots, Oregon: A To Z Challenge

Yesterday I mentioned Yachots in one of my favorite vacation places even though I have only been there once.  I bet most of you haven't even heard of it, so today's post in the A To Z Challenge is about Yachots.

This little town is on the coast of Oregon in the northern quarter of the state.  It's small, only about 1000 people.  Right now it's 56 degrees there, just about what it is here in Georgia, USA, 3000 miles away.  It is pet friendly and people friendly with gorgeous scenery.  We stayed at a little hotel along with collies, labs, and shepherds...not ours.  Our little shih tzu stayed home.  It seemed that people around there all loved really big dogs, including the travelers.  Other than that and a charming lobby with an adorably quaint gift shop and fireplace, there was nothing special about this hotel.  Except.....where it is located.

The Fireside Motel is perched on a hill right on the ocean.....and I do mean right on it.  At high tide it breaks all over the big rocks dotting the beach and just at your feet.  It's wild, untamed, un-manicured and natural.  We loved it at dusk and at early morning the most.  And what a noisy ocean which makes you love it even more.  It isn't about "things to do" when you are there.  It is just about being there and being thankful for every moment you get to breathe it in and enjoy its power and beauty.  

Enjoy the pictures.  Wish I were there!
Lighthouse, Yachots, Oregon

Fireside Motel    Yachots, Oregon

So Pet Friendly

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X Is For Xylophone: A To Z Challenge

Why would someone pick a Xylophone for their X word?  Well, if you were an A To Z Challenge blogger, what would you have picked for X?   It has to actually begin with the letter X, not just contain an X.  Well, for me it is Xylophone.

Didn't you play with one when you were little?  Maybe it was your first musical instrument.  I think it was mine.  I really loved it because it was bright and colorful and it made noise.  Correction, you made not only noise, but a song.  A toy that has withstood the test of time.

Probably my xylophone contained lead based paint.  It was that long ago.  I think it had sharp edges too because I'm almost certain the "keys" were painted metal.  The stick was wooden though and it made the most delicious sound.  

Some xylophones  take two people to play them.  They are that big.  Bands, orchestras often have them over to the side.  If I had been in a band, I would have played that instrument.  

So remember your own first xylophone.  I hope you had one.   Nice memory, huh?

W Is For Waiting: A To Z Challenge

"Wait Time":  consciously waiting for a student to have time to think when you ask him a question. 

Do you ever remember being called on in school and needing just a moment?  Many students need time to formulate their answers and recover from hearing their name called when they were praying you wouldn't say it.  You can almost see it plastered on their forehead:  "Please do not call on me."  "Okay", I sometimes said to my teacher-self.  "But you better be ready tomorrow."  It's kind of like when I watch Jeopardy at night.  Every now and then I actually know an answer, but they go so dang fast that someone has already answered before I have even had time to think it through.  I guess if you need extra time, you aren't going to be on Jeopardy!  That is for sure.  But giving a student "wait time" is an effective strategy that every teacher should times.

"Wait Time":   consciously waiting in court for your traffic case to come up.

Now this is curious.  I say that only because, a. I am not here because I have done something "bad" like maybe the girl next to me who is crying.  and b.  I am retired, so I have time.
This kind of wait time is optional. You can choose to pay your fine online and never show up. I decided to wait. The judge impressed me.  He talked about the U.S. Constitution and charged us to read it when we were back at home.  He talked about how it protects us from society, from politicians, and from the government.  That is what he said.   I am taking this quite seriously even though I only have a minor speeding ticket, but I can't help noticing the young guy next to me checking Facebook.  I am straining to pick up every detail because it is interesting to me, and he is "liking" stuff. 

"Wait Time":   consciously waiting for your first grandson to enter the world on his own schedule.

If you've ever awaited the arrival of your own baby or some one's close to you, then you know exactly what I am talking about.  Can't rush it.  Just breathe.

"Wait Time" is everywhere we go.  In the line at the grocery store, in traffic, in the dentist's office, at the bedside of a loved one, waiting for water to boil and flowers to bloom.  Wait Time is a gift, huh?  Enjoy choosing how you will use those moments when your wait time comes.

Monday, April 27, 2015

V Is For Vacation: A To Z Challenge

Is everyone cheering?  I bet so.  What is better than vacation?  I can answer that.


It's not just that you are vacating your premises.  You are also vacating your responsibilities and appointments.  For a few days anyway, no job, no grass to cut, no doctor appointments, no clothes to wash, no alarm clocks to blare, no traffic to fight, and, if you are lucky, no meals to prepare.

No wonder we love our vacays!  What is your most favorite vacation?

I cannot pick a favorite but here are a few I love.  One favorite is Yachats, Oregon.  And Shelter Cove, California,  Beverly in Massachusetts,  the Outer Banks on the east coast, and St. Simons Island in Georgia.  Although I love the mountains and the plains, the ranches and Big Sky country, nothing tops my love for the coast.

Wherever you are, pick a day soon and make it a vacation.  Even if it is just your day off, make it out of the ordinary somehow, so you feel you have vacated normalcy in favor of renewal. And enjoy.

U Is For Un-Ring The Bell: A To Z Challenge


Don't you wish sometimes you could un-ring the bell!  Once an event occurs or a word is spoken it can't be undone. 

Once you have a bad sunburn, you can't go back and put on sunscreen.
Once you pour bleach in the laundry water, you can't take it back out.
Once you cut down, say, a tree, or a person, you can't un-do it.

A therapist friend told me once that we should allow people to "take it back".  Maybe something is said in anger and frustration that is out of character....and maybe that person really wants to take it back.  They really want to un-say it but that I impossible.  So they are "sorry".  And they want you to forgive them.  

True forgiveness, I've heard, is choosing to no longer even remember the offense. "I'll forgive you, but I'm never going to forget it."  Is that real forgiveness?   In reality, we do remember it but forgiveness says, "I won't bring it back out and use it to hurt you one day.  It is really over."

But un-saying would be so much better.  If only we could.  Stop the clock.  Turn the hands back a few minutes.  Then choose something else to say that is kind.  Or say what you have to say in a kind manner.

Ringing the big dinner bells out in the country around noon signaled, "It's time for lunch.  It's on the table."  Lunch was called "dinner" back then and the bell called the workers from the field to the 'dinner' table.  That bell could be heard a long way off.  It echoed miles away.  Any other time than noon, ringing the bell brought people running from miles as it was also the way to summon help.

You can't un-ring the bell.
You can't un-say the words.  Sometimes we wish we could.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

T Is For Toothless: A To Z Challenge

My mom died when she was 93.  My sister announced that she was going to do mom's hair and makeup for the viewing.  I said, "You're going to do what?"  She said I didn't have to go with her and I said, "Don't worry.  I'm not."  But then I did. Somehow we giggled our way through it instead of crying.  And mom looked great.

Sis and mother shopped for clothes together and got their nails done. She took mom to the hairdresser and helped her keep it together and even painted her toe nails with silver glitter before her untimely heavenly departure.  So it seemed fitting to her.  

The funeral home guy complimented her work and added, "And she still has her own teeth."  

I can only imagine my mother seeing all of this.  My sister and I fluffing around still striving to make things as good as humanly possible.  And then some stranger remarking on her teeth.  Her response would have been priceless.

Flash forward:  The other day our insurance company sent a nurse to our house.  We are not sick. They do this for everyone in our age group.  They actually pay us $25 each to allow them to come and check on the status of things here.  It amazes me. They do a physical check up just like in a doctor's office and ask all kinds of's about preventative care, to save them money in the future.

So the nurse says to me: "Do you have your own teeth?"  What?  I think it was the first time I've ever been asked that question. But I'm learning that more and more people are interested in the subject.  I guess the answer speaks more volumes than I know.

"Yes, I have my own teeth."  It runs in the family.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

S Is For Sanctuary: A To Z Challenge

Where is your sanctuary?  Surely you have one.  A place that is safe, secure, and sacred.  A place you go when you desire to find your inner peace or celebrate or feel gratitude.

Since I asked you, it's only fair that I share my own.  When I was a little girl the only time I heard the word "sanctuary" was at church.  It was the biggest place in the church and had an altar, center aisle, a lot of windows, a place for the choir, and a place for the preacher to stand.  I knew I wasn't supposed to play in there.  There was a gold painted sentence up front that said, "Be still and know that I am God".  That's what I thought it meant as a still, don't wiggle, don't talk, and don't laugh.

But back then, I saw as a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.  I saw through the glass dimly.  Yes, that is 1 Corinthians 13.

Now I know my sanctuary does not have to be about place, although it might be.  It can be anywhere that opens my heart to peace.  A place that morphs that stillness we associate with peace into unbounded joy and depth of feeling that moves in us.

A "place", be it a church, your back porch, the sea shore, the 

mountains, a lake, a rocking chair, or a hospital.  It doesn't really 

matter what leads you to your God.

Creating Life Beautifully - A to Z Challenge

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

R Is For Rain: A To Z Challenge

Rain is rain; we invent the rest.

We may see ourselves cleansed by the rain,

nourished, quenched,

or we may feel ourselves splattered,

submerged, drowned.

 A lot of years ago I came across this poem in an airline magazine during a flight.  I cannot find who wrote it so I can't give credit...but it wasn't me.  I did, however, appreciate it.  It spoke to me.  

We've had a lot of rain around here.  

Rain calls to a different part of you.  It lets the sun-shiny,vibrant on-the-go, fix-it part of you take a break.  You can't control the rain. It's one of the great uncontrolables.  You didn't cause it either.  

Whenever it rains again at your house, notice if you are feeling splattered and drowning....or cleansed and renewed.   We are always at choice. 

It's  pretty deep around here....I think I will go float a leaf boat in the puddle.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Q Is For Quinoa A to Z Challenge

Seems like it was a few years ago I started hearing about this power food.  I had just landed squarely and securely on the brown rice bandwagon and now there were those in the health food world saying there was something even better.

First of all, I love white rice. I love it with Chinese food, but  I like it with gravy best of all!  That is the gravy you make from fried chicken or country fried steak.  When my kids were growing up we probably had that at least once a week with a couple sides of green thrown in.  I also love white rice with butter, but don't come near me with rice pudding.

Then, I evolve.  I learn white rice is not such a good thing, but if I just switch to brown and ditch the gravy, I'll be just fine.  That's a pretty easy swap.  I started with 'fast-cooking' brown rice in a bag, moving along to "real" rice and just cooking it longer on the stove.  I'm good with that.

Then, when I've settled into my new staple, here comes quinoa.  It's touted as a Superfood that puts brown rice to shame.  I hate to know what it does to white rice! Well, I experimented....with mostly good results.  My whole kitchen life has changed in the last few years... and including quinoa is one of the basic changes.  Oh, and the mouth-watering, crispy, fried chicken and gravy-smothered country fried steak are just a distant memory.

So quinoa it is.  You pronounce is "keen-wa".  Rice is mostly from China and quinoa is mostly from Central America.  Small world!

Before you cook quinoa, always make sure you rinse it really well in a very fine strainer.  If you don't it will taste bitter and expose you to terrible, horrible, atrocious chemical dangers. After that it cooks pretty much like brown rice....just note the water proportions on the package.  I like to cook mine in chicken broth as I am not a vegetarian and I love the flavor it gives.  After that you just add whatever you have on hand.  I've added shredded chicken, grated carrots, onion, garlic, celery, black beans, tomatoes, little green peas, mushrooms......anything you like.  Make a dressing with equal parts olive oil and vinegar with a splash of lemon juice, salt and pepper, and you are good to go either hot or cold.

So if you haven't jumped on the quinoa bandwagon, you might just consider doing so.  More protein, fiber, and B.  My husband?  He dumps a pile of ranch dressing on top of his.  I had to see it to believe it and didn't say a word.  At least it wasn't mayonnaise! 

Saturday, April 18, 2015

O-P Is For Oil Paintings

"You can't do that," says a voice in my head.

"Do what?", says another voice in my head.

"You can't use two letters at once?"  

"Why not?"

"Because you just can't."

Both of these oil paintings are about color.  I hope you enjoy them.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

N Is For Nixon: A to Z Challenge

Why did I think of Nixon today on "N" Day?  No one has mentioned him in a long time.

But there was a week back in August 1974 when President Richard Nixon was all over the news.  We didn't have CNN or cable news back then, but the three major networks had a field day in the name of informing the citizenry.   

Political tensions were high during this phase of the Vietnam War. Almost everyone knew someone in their neighborhood who didn't come home.  No one knew how to win the war, and no one knew how to get us out of it.  It took a long time to get there.

But when it came to getting information they wanted, Nixon's men found a way.  They bent  broke the rules...a lot. He knew about it. And then he found himself thoroughly embroiled in the Watergate Scandal.  That meant his people, on his watch, had broken into offices in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C. and absconded with facts that did not belong to them.  They stole. A President openly breaking the law? Well, yes.

I was really into the whole thing as it unfolded day by day on television.  Denials, confessions, trials...all the stuff intrigue is made of. There was even a "Deep Throat"....code-names.  Nixon had two daughters, one about my age and I identified with her.  How awful for this to happen to her and her family.  His wife, Pat, was very sweet; she didn't appear strong like our political women today. She always seemed frail and maybe a little afraid.

And then the day came when our President was going to be he resigned.  He would pack up and leave by "tomorrow at noon".  At 24 I was still a very sensitive young woman...still a child really. We all sat glued to the TV and listened intently to his impromptu, rambling, heartfelt speech. It went on and on.  I'm sure I cried. He did too.  I mean, his girls, his wife....our "first" family?  And tomorrow they would walk from the White House, which was their home, board a helicopter, and wave goodbye....their father in total disgrace. So dramatic.

History went on to round things out as it usually does. Nixon was the President who ended the draft, and they found other good things Nixon did and gave him some grace, and eventually a pardon. If social media had been around back then, I can only imagine the venom.

Below is an excerpt of some of his departure speech.  You can read the entire speech if you are interested. But this is how it ended.  
"Always give your best, never get discouraged, never be petty; always remember, others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.
And so, we leave with high hopes, in good spirit, and with deep humility, and with very much gratefulness in our hearts. I can only say to each and every one of you, we come from many faiths, we pray perhaps to different gods -- but really the same God in a sense -- but I want to say for each and every one of you, not only will we always remember you, not only will we always be grateful to you but always you will be in our hearts and you will be in our prayers."
Thank you very much.
Richard Nixon - August 9, 1974