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The Beauty of the Orchid

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My husband gave me this orchid as a gift several years ago. We were able to enjoy it for many weeks, but eventually the blossoms faded and fell off. For the next year or so I followed all of the instructions on how to care for an orchid and to get it to bloom again….all to no avail. I was just about to give up and throw it out, but decided to put it outside on my back deck this past summer and see if it survived. I didn’t really water it or give it any special attention. (actually forgot all about it) Much to my surprise, when I looked at it near the end of summer, it was shooting off several new stems that were loaded with buds. I was thrilled to see that my ‘neglect’ paid off.

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First bloom

 

As the nights got colder I brought it in the house and then closely watched the buds as they became swollen and then finally the first flower opened.  One big surprise was that it had been so long since it had bloomed that I had forgotten what color it was.  I was so excited when the first flower appeared and then realized that there were MANY more blossoms to come.  After that first bloom a new flower would open almost every day.  I counted 30+ blossoms total.

 

 

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What a joy to watch the blossoms as they opened

 

I saw the timing of this re-blooming as a gift from God.  My husband was away on a mission trip to Niger, Africa during January and February of this year.  (Don’s blog)  There were some lonely, dreary times in the house all by myself, but seeing the gorgeous blossoms on the table every morning was very uplifting.  Just looking at the orchid reminded me that spring would come again and that thought would put a smile on my face.

 

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Every single flower is stunning

 

Near the beginning of February it finally reached the point where all of the blossoms were open and it was stunning.  I began to wonder if it would still be blooming when my husband returned in early March.  Well, I didn’t need to worry….it’s now mid-March and only 2 of the blossoms have fallen and the rest are still as glorious as when they first opened.  Now my husand is able to enjoy it’s beauty as well.

 

 

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My ‘neglected’ orchid – yes, I did wait a little too long to stake the stems.

 

Shortly after his return home he surprised me with a new orchid.  I’m wondering if the same formula of ‘neglect’ will work on it next year as well?

 

 

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My new orchid.  (This could be the beginning of a collection/addiction. 😉 )

 

 

 

 

 

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Winter Wonderland

 

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Cute, little birdhouse on our front porch

 

That first significant snow of the year is always exciting.   For us it was even more wonderful since were able to get away to our little cottage in the woods.  We arrived just as the snow stopped falling.  It was so beautiful to pull in the drive and see everything covered in a blanket of beautiful, white snow.  

 

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First snowfall of the year at Fern Gully

 

As soon as we got unpacked and had a bite of lunch, we headed out for a walk in the woods.  Our dog, Denver, was THRILLED.

 

Denver in the snow

Happy Denver

 

We passed several neighboring cabins along they way and they all looked warm and inviting nestled in their new covering of snow, although they were probably all freezing inside since many of the cabins do not have heat.   I couldn’t resist pulling my phone out to snap a few pictures.

 

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Cabin in the woods

Cabin 2

Don’t you just want to drive down that lane?

Cabin 3

Beautiful cabin surrounded by pines

Osaga Lodge

Osaga Lodge

 

After passing several cabins we took a trail through the woods.  There is nothing like walking through virgin snow in the forest.  (Michaux State Forest)

 

Path in the woods

Into the woods

 

I’m sure that by February I won’t be quite as thrilled by the snow, but for today it was absolutely breathtaking and I enjoyed it thoroughly!  🙂  It’s a beautiful day in the Michaux State Forest.

Gone in a Flash

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I would have never thought that keys could disappear so quickly.  Warning – if you are squeamish this post might not be for you.  So, back to the story….I’ll bet you’ll never guess how/where they disappeared?   Yes, I flushed my keys down the WC.  Let me explain:

 

Years ago I learned the lesson of not placing valuables in the back pocket of my jeans as my phone took a dive in the potty ….and it never recovered.  I thought things were safe in the front pocket, but I was WRONG.  This particular day, I used the ‘facility’ and midway through the reassembly process I turned around to flush.  At the very instant that I pushed the lever, my keys fell out of the front pocket of my jeans into the swirling water.  In a flash (or should I say flush) they were gone.  Crap.

 

I began yelling, “MY KEYS, MY KEYS, MY KEYS” and my husband came running to see what was wrong – he just shook his head.  Soon he began to try to retrieve the lost keys.  No matter how much ‘snaking’ or ‘fishing’ we tried,  we could not locate the keys.  At that point I began to worry that they had traveled into the pipes and that would result in a huge plumbing repair.

 

We weren’t about to give up that easily.  We didn’t use that toilet or flush any more and the next day my son came over to give it one last try.  He pulled the toilet up from the floor and discovered a round metal object at the bottom of the seal…it was the aromatherapy ball that was attached to my keys! He was able to pull the entire set of keys out completely intact.

 

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The fact that we were actually able to find the keys was the first bit of good luck, but the news gets better.   The key to my car is one of the electronic variety that is very expensive to replace.  My husband took the key fob apart and laid it out in the sun to dry.  Well, we were ecstatic when we put it back together and it worked!

 

Of course the rest of the other keys were scrubbed clean and obviously I replaced the aromatherapy ball with a new one.  Miraculously I had my keys back after having flushed them down the toilet.  Yes, this was one of my more humbling moments in life, but maybe you will learn from my mistake.  Empty ALL of your jean pockets before using the restroom.

 

 

I recently went for a beautiful hike in the Michaux State Forest.  As always I was surrounded by beauty, but this time I noticed something different on the floor of the forest– a wide variety of Fungi.  I don’t think I had realized until that day how many various shapes and colors of mushrooms were in the forest.  I soon began to see a different mushroom around every turn.  Here are just a few:

 

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Unbelievalbe color!!!

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This is more a ‘typical’ color

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BOLD!!

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These little fellas were almost glowing.

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Loving the purple!

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Just plain cute 🙂

 

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I wish the picture was clearer…it was a very ‘fancy’ mushroom.

As I walked along taking pictures of a variety of fungi, I caught sight of my husband ahead of me on the trail and began to chuckle as I thought of the pun…a hike with fungi and a fun guy.  (ok, I’m easily amused. 😉 )

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The ‘fun guy’, my husband 🙂

I guess to be accurate I should say I was hiking with 2 fun guys…one who walked on two legs and one who walked on 4 legs.  Our faithful dog, Denver, was along for the enjoyment.

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It was a day where I was able to appreciate many types of beauty in nature.  Along with the fungi and the fun guys, there were also many other beautiful sights.  I took ALL of them in.

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Just one of the streams we crossed

I LOVE hiking!

Easter Sunrise

It’s the practice of many churches to have a sunrise service on Easter morning.  There is something symbolic and meaningful to see the dawning of a new day and know that it is the day we are celebrating the resurrection of Christ.

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The sun is just rising above the trees.

This year I had a different type of sunrise service.  It was held on the back porch of our cottage and instead of sitting in a pew I was sitting in a rocking chair.  Instead of being all dressed up I was in my pajamas.  🙂 The porch faces South-East and I was able to enjoy a beautiful view of the sun coming up through the trees.

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It’s now daylight.

I sat quietly listening to the birds singing for a while and then decided to listen to a song that seemed appropriate,  Allegri Misere.   I played it on my laptop so I could see the pictures and the words.  It is sung in Latin, but this particular video shows the words in English as well.

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Getting Brighter

For me there are two things which touch my soul and cause me to worship the Creator  –  the sounds of nature and certain music.  As I listened to this worshipful song which was accompanied by the chirping birds I realized that I was hearing two beautiful things which can help my heart and soul to worship God at the same time.

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My Cathedral in the Forest

There are also two places that I feel closest to the creator–in the woods and in a Cathedral.  ( I know, they are vastly different, but they both have a profound affect on me. ) As I was watching the words on the video and the stunning pictures of cathedrals, I realized I was also seeing two things that bring me into a worshipful place.  I literally had my Cathedral in the middle of a forest.

I may not have gone to any ‘official’ sunrise service, but I was able to worship the risen King in a very real way  –  possibly more than if I’d been in an organized service.

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Can’t you FEEL the emotion on her face?

Plan “B”

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Leaf Trail (aptly named) 

 

Often in life our plans change due to unforeseen circumstances.  It can be difficult to adjust to the new directions we are forced to follow, but once in a while Plan “B” isn’t a bad direction at all.  This past weekend we finally had a spring-like day and my husband and I were anxious to spend time on our mountain bikes on a local trail.  There are a TON of trails near our cottage and we are just beginning to explore them.  While I still prefer road biking, I’m quickly developing a love for riding through the mountain trails.  For me it combines two great loves – hiking and biking.  It’s like hiking on wheels.

 

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Ready to hit the trail

 

 

We rode up a big hill just to get to the trail head and we excitedly started down the trail.  Some of the trail was a very smooth mountain path and other sections were more technical.  (I tend to walk the more difficult sections. – yes, I’m a wimp.  )  We were riding for about 10 minutes and we suddenly found ourselves faced with needing a plan “B”  While going over a large group of rocks my husband’s derailleur completely snapped in half and the bike could no longer be ridden.

 

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The derailleur is the piece that shifts the chain between gears.  (this one is not broken)

 

We then had a decision to make—just walk the bikes back to the cottage or park them by a tree and continue on the path by foot.  We, of course, chose the latter option.  Since we love to hike it was a great alternative.

 

White I was disappointed that our original plans got derailed, (pun intended 🙂 )I realized as I walked that I was able to see things from a totally different perspective on foot than on the bike.  On the bike most of my concentration goes to avoiding obstacles – trees, rocks, roots…..  Much of the surrounding beauty is overlooked due to the necessity of needing to watch the trail directly in front of you.

 

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Ready to enjoy Plan “B”

 

I began to take pictures of things I would have missed if I was still on my bike.  The first was a moss-covered rock.  The bright green just jumped out at me.  With spring just now beginning here in South-Central PA nature is just now starting to sprout green around us.

 

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Gorgeous shad of green

 

At one point I stopped and looked up at the sky.  It was so beautiful to see the sky surrounded by various tree tops.  This was something I definitely couldn’t have done on a bike.  (Try looking up at the sky while riding a bike – not a good idea)

 

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Beautiful spring sky as seen through tree tops

 

We hiked to the end of the trail and began the trek back to pick up our bikes and head to the cottage.  I had passed by this tree going the first direction, but it was an entirely different view from this side.

 

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One funky tree 

 

We eventually reached the spot where our bikes were leaning against a tree and began the process of walking them back.  While it was definitely not fun walking a heavy mountain bike over all of the obstacles on the trail I wouldn’t have given up the chance to simply be out in nature.  All in all it was a wonderful day.

 

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Bikes are a lot more fun to ride than to walk. 😦 

 

Enjoy the Journey

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Quite often in life, I get so focused on where I’m going that I forget to enjoy the beauty along the way.  I become so absorbed with finishing everything on my to-do list that I miss the special moments that occur along the way.

 

Earlier this week I had to make a trip to our cottage for a small task that needed to be done.  I awoke thinking of all the things I needed do as I’m preparing for my Holiday Home Show and had a ton of tasks on my to-do list.  I wasn’t looking forward to taking 1 1/2 hours out of my already busy day to drive the whole way there and back for an errand that would take only 5 minutes to accomplish.

 

That morning as I took my dog out for his morning ‘constitutional’ I was greeted with the sight of a gorgeous morning sky. As I stood looking at it I was reminded that even when life is harried that there are gifts of beauty along the way that are easily overlooked.

 

morning-sky

 

As I  drove up the mountain to the cottage I began to notice just how beautiful the scenery was along way.  It’s late-Autumn here in central PA and the leaves are turning amazing colors.  Both sides of the road are lined with trees and it seemed as though each time I drove around a curve in the road the colors were more amazing than the the last.

 

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One section is lined by pine trees.  Even though the bright colors of the deciduous trees are extremely beautiful, the line of green pines has it’s own charm.

 

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As I turned onto a gravel road the scenery changed, but still had a special kind of beauty.

 

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Entering the driveway I felt a sense of peace (as I often do).  This time of year when it’s completely covered by pine needles and leaves even the car was quiet.

 

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Even though the cottage is nothing fancy, to me it’s a beautiful sight.  It’s my ‘piece of heaven on earth’ – a place I can relax and experience a sense of peace that I don’t always feel at our home.  On this day, as I got out of the car and headed to the door, this is what I saw:

 

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My Happy Place 🙂 

 

I couldn’t help but smile as I imagined the sound effect you hear in movies when something has a bright light shining on it – like an angelic chorus. (Click here to hear the sound I heard in my head)  I know that may sound a bit dramatic and a little silly, but in a real way, this little place has been a heavenly gift to me.  It’s where I can slow down enough to focus on the truly important things in life and be able to appreciate all of the beauty that is around me.  On this day, even though I wasn’t able to spend much time there, I did take time to notice the beauty on drive.  I wish I could always have the mind-set to be more aware of special moments along this journey called ‘life’.  I hate to think that I am missing any heavenly gifts along the way.

 

I can’t remember if I finished everything on my list that day, but I do remember feeling grateful for all the beauty around me.

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