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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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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.

 

 

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Never Say “Never”

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I can’t even begin to count the times I’ve said I would NEVER do something only to wind up doing exactly what I said I’d “never” do.  

  • I said I’d never live in a white house–I now live in a house with white siding.  
  • I said I’d never ride a bike–I now LOVE riding bicycle.  
  • I said I’d never like eating wings because it was ‘barbaric’.  Well, I now thoroughly enjoy sitting down to a heaping plateful of messy wings and tearing into them like a ravenous dog.
  • plus MANY more……..

 

One thing I said I’d never do was to have any kind of vacation place.  My husband had been talking about it for years and I’ve always said that was something I’d never do.  Well………yep, you guessed it, we now own a cottage in a nearby state forest.  As my husband kept showing me picture after picture of cabins, cottages and homes in the woods I continued to adamantly tell him that it wasn’t something I wanted.  Then, one evening he showed me a picture of a cottage that had recently been listed.  To call it ‘love at first sight’ might be an overstatement, but for some reason my attitude changed and I could immediately see our family spending time at this little cottage in the woods.  Knowing how much our kids loved camping in this area when they were young, I knew they would want to spend time at this little place.  We went to see it with family members and it was unanimous—everyone loved it.  We became happy owners of a little cottage in the woods.

 

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“Fern Gully” (aka Adelaide)

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Even though I loved the place and expected to enjoy it, I had no idea how much I was going to NEED it.  Just the time we began to spend time there things began to happen within our family.  

  • My daughter delivered our granddaughter 4 weeks early after an extremely difficult pregnancy.
  • My father, who had been ill, passed away suddenly.
  • Other things happened within the family that brought sorrow.

 

As all of this was happening, I found that spending time at our peaceful, little cottage enabled me to process some of my emotions.  Many nights were spent sitting on the porch praying and crying while coming to terms with some of the grief and fear.  Sitting on that little porch in the woods, listening to the sounds of the forest as nightfall came filled me with a sense of calm.  My soul began to heal as I rocked, cried, prayed and yes, sipped wine

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The “Special” Porch

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This cottage has been something our entire family needed.  We have had several wonderful weekends at the cottage with the kids/grandkids enjoying many things as a family.  

  • sitting around the fire
  • enjoying dinner together
  • falling asleep under the same roof and then waking up together
  • seeing our first bear
  • working on projects together
  • hiking
  • canoeing
  • etc……

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Nothing beats sitting around a campfire.

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One of our hikes

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When I first looked at the pictures of the cottage, I knew it would be a fun place for our family, but I had no idea how healing it would be.  Even though I didn’t know all those things were about to happen-God did.  He gave me something I needed before the need was even there.   I can’t help but wonder how often God does this and we don’t even realize it.  I hope I can become more and more aware of all the ways I’m cared for by my loving God.  

 

I encourage you to never say ‘never’.  You might be saying no to a special gift that God wants to give to you.  It might be something you never wanted, but turn out being exactly what you need.

 

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A Gift from Above

 

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Forest

The Beauty of the Forest

Being in the woods is something I’ve always loved. I’ve done a good bit of hiking, backpacking and simply enjoying time in nature. Tonight I’m enjoying time in the forest from the comfort of a porch.

I sit on a covered porch surrounded by a white railing with glowing candles along the top. The sun is setting and the night sounds are beginning. It’s light enough that there are still birds chirping even as the night insects begin their chorus. The various insect sounds are particularly clear because there is no wind rustling the trees—it’s completely still. Hummingbirds are still coming to grab an evening snack from the feeders. There are many sounds, yet it is peaceful here.

I see various types of pine trees, a few deciduous trees, ferns and other plants that grow among the trees. The only colors backlit by the darkening sky are green and brown, yet is a beautiful sight. The trees are tall and graceful.

It’s a very simple setting, yet one that nourishes my soul. This is a place that I feel at peace and can allow healing to take place in my heart. There have been many worries and sorrows in my life lately, but time on this porch is one thing that touches my heart.

I’m feeling very thankful for the beautiful creation that God has given to me.

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“Road Work”

What do you picture when you hear the words ‘road work’? Workers in bright yellow vests, orange cones, traffic delays….? Well, for me it has an entirely different meaning.

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I design and make jewelry for a living. Anyone who knows me is aware that I not only do it as a job, but thoroughly enjoy it and am very passionate about it. I have a work bench at home where I make most of the jewelry, but I almost always have several trays ready with projects to take with me wherever I may go.

 

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My husband and I have taken many long trips in the car and for me, many of those hours in the car have been spent with a tray in my lap and tools in my hands. I have been able to make things I needed for upcoming shows as well as fill orders from my Etsy shop.  I’ve even come up with new designs during a few of the trips.

 

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( I often find time to work in the hotel rooms too. )

“Road work” is a win-win situation for me. Making jewelry makes the time pass more quickly, which REALLY helps on the extremely long rides. It also enables me to stay caught up on work that needs to get done while we travel. Luckily my car has a very smooth ride and I’m able to do many different things.

 

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I’m notorious for working in the car, no matter how short the trip may be. My son has actually joked that if get one of the cars that drives itself sometime in the future, I could even make jewelry when I’m the driver instead of the passenger.

So, I may not wear a bright yellow vest, but I do a LOT of “road work”.

PS—I’ve also done this quite often on airplanes. Hmmmm…..maybe I should start a jewelry-making ‘mile high club’.

 

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Music has always had a profound effect on me. Certain songs make me want to get up and dance, white other songs are sure to bring me to tears. Music seems to have the ability to reach inside of me and stir my deepest emotions. Depending on what I’m listening to it can be invigorating or calming, healing or even sometimes painful. I’ve often said that music is the “key to my soul”.

 

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In the past few years piano music is the one type of music that can touch me in especially profound ways. At times when I have found myself in a low place it has been the only kind of music that I could ‘feel’ in my soul. It has allowed me to tap into emotions that I had pushed down and tried to ignore. The music has given me an avenue to work through some of those feelings.  It has provided a real sense of peace and of healing at times I needed it the most.

 

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One song in particular can move me like no other—Crisofori’s Dream by David Lanz. The minute that song begins to play my heart comes alive. That song takes me through a myriad of emotions. It begins with a very sad feeling, but there are moments of joy as well. There are several ups and downs during the course of the song and my heart soars and falls along with those changes. One section always makes me feel optimistic and give me a sense that things will be ‘ok’. For me the song always ends with a feeling of peace. The last part of the song is the sad melody, but it somehow gives me a sense of acceptance and contentment.

 

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I’ve listened to that song countless times, but I am now able to feel it in a new way – playing it myself.  I played piano when I was younger, but had given away my piano some years ago. I recently made the decision to play again and bought a beautiful piano. Of course, the first song I learned to play was Cristofori’s Dream. The minute I began to play the opening notes I felt such a sense of ………. I don’t even know what word to use…contentment, peace, passion, healing, excitement, joy and even grief. I knew that I would be spending a great deal of time at my piano.

 

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As I worked on learning the entire song I didn’t really feel the usual emotions due to concentrating so hard on getting notes and inflections right, but as I conquered more and more of the music, I began to experience it in an emotional way. One evening I was playing and at one section I found myself beginning to weep.  Now as I play it, I am able to enjoy it and ‘feel’ the music.

 

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I’ve since learned several more beautiful and moving songs, but this one will always have a special place in my heart. When I just want to sit down and ‘feel’ the music this will most likely be the song I play.

If you want to ‘experience’ this song, here is a link to it being played by David Lanz. Cristofori’s Dream

 

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An evening at my piano with a glass of wine…….wonderful!

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Playing Cristofori’s Dream

***I was listening to Pandora as I wrote this and just as I was typing the last sentence, guess what song began to play………and yes, it still brings me to tears.  

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Make My Day

Home Show 2013

Home Show 2013

 

As a woman who designs and makes jewelry, I not only enjoy the actual process of creating the pieces, but LOVE hearing that women have enjoyed wearing it.  The message at the bottom of my receipt is “I hope that you enjoy wearing this jewelry as much as I enjoyed designing and making it”. I get great satisfaction when I receive positive feedback from women who buy my jewelry.

 

I've received many compliments on this design.

I’ve received many compliments on this design.

 

One way that I receive this kind of response is at shows. I have many repeat customers walk into my booth and tell me that they were hoping I would be there. They talk about pieces that they have bought in previous years and the compliments they get when wearing them.  They are always excited to see my new designs.

 

My booth at the Apple Harvest Festival

My booth at the Apple Harvest Festival

 

I also receive feedback from my online Etsy Shop customers . After making a purchase they are able to rate the product and write a comment. Reading the comments on my feedback page  always brings a smile to my face. I love hearing that my customers are pleased with the quality of the jewelry and that it brings them some enjoyment.

 

Holiday Home Show 2013

Holiday Home Show 2013

 

All artisans long to hear this kind of feedback from their customers, so when you buy something that is handcrafted, be sure to let the artist know how much you like it. It will make their day 🙂

To read some of my reviews, click HERE

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Melissa Laine (My 2nd Granddaughter)

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Last year this time my daughter and her husband were expecting their first child, a baby girl, to be born in the middle of August.  Unfortunately, on July 2nd my daughter was rushed to the hospital with a severe case of pre-clampsia.  I didn’t know much about this pregnancy complication, but it is life-threatening to the mother and child.  The only way to cure it is to deliver the baby – which meant their little girl was going to be born six weeks premature.

 

As Anna was in the delivery room, all of the grandparents-to-be were waiting in the hallway for our little Melissa (Missy) to be delivered.  We were praying and trying to be hopeful that she would be ok.  We were in a location where we would see the baby being taken from the delivery room to the NICU.  I commented to my husband that we would know what condition the baby was in by how fast the nurses would be moving.  Well, as they rushed past us and we got a quick glimpse of our tiny new granddaughter, we knew we were in for many challenges ahead.

 

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 Missy–a few hours old.  (still cry every time I look at this picture)

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Little Missy weighed 5 lb. 11 oz. which is fairly large for being 6 weeks early, but she was born with Pierre Robin Sequence which caused her to have a cleft palate and other issues with her jaw and tongue.  This created serious difficulties with eating since she could not produce any suction without her palate.  The first 6 weeks of her life were spent in the NICU which meant daily trips back and forth to the hospital for my daughter and son-in-law.  (1 hour drive each way).  Her feeding issues meant that my daughter had to pump in order to be able to give Missy breast milk through a feeding tube.

 

all_dressed_upMissy- a few days old

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The day they brought her home from the hospital was a joyful, yet frightening one, because she was still on heart and breathing monitors as well as the feeding tube.  I watched my daughter and son-in-law handling things that most parents don’t ever need to think of—removing and inserting a feeding tube, learning how to tape lead lines for monitors, learning infant CPR, etc……

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All parents have some amount of fear that their baby might stop breathing, but for them this was a very real possibility and did happen several times.  The first time I was with them when the monitor went off it broke my heart to see my daughter and son-in-law rush up the stairs so fast that they were literally falling over each other.  The panic I saw them experience was something I will never forget.

 

For many months they endured difficult times including a week in the local Children’s Hospital where Missy struggled to breathe due to an inflamed esophagus.  Their life consisted of constant keeping records of feeding & weight gain, reading monitors, sleepless nights, and with my daughter continuing to pump her milk.  Little by little Missy began to overcome the feeding issues and was finally able to eat without the feeding tube. She has grown and developed in many miraculous ways.

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Beginning to Crawl

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Now that nearly a year has passed and Missy is approaching her first birthday, she is clear proof of what amazing love and care she has been given by her parents.  They have gone through things they couldn’t have anticipated, but have handled each hurdle with the strength that comes from loving a child.  They have made tough decisions along the way and have chosen wisely.

 

As I watched my daughter go through all of this I was continually amazed at the amount of strength and courage she showed and am very proud of the mother she has become.  Missy is now a happy, healthy, 24 pound little girl who is already trying to take her first steps.  When I look at the first picture of her I could never have pictured anything this wonderful one year later.  As I watched little Missy fight to overcome her various struggles, I have come to realize that my daughter isn’t the only one with incredible strength…..she passed it on to Missy.

 

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Anna and Missy at the Beach.

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Missy with her amazing Mommy and Daddy

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Missy will be having the surgery to correct her palate this Fall and she and her Mommy will need that strength.

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Honeysuckle High

 

OK, I confess—- I got high today, but not the way you think.  I didn’t partake of marijuana, cocaine or any other illicit drug, but I was definitely feeling that kind of euphoria earlier today.  (at least what I’m TOLD it feels like–wink, wink)  Curious?  –  I guess I should explain.

 

I enjoy riding a bicycle and today was a perfect day for a cycling…temperature in the 80’s, very low wind and mostly sunny.   This particular ride was like many others except that it had a specific purpose.  Here in South Central Pennsylvania the honeysuckle is in full bloom and it smells AMAZING, so today’s ride was a ‘honeysuckle ride’.  I chose a 25 mile route along  back country roads that I knew had the largest sections of honeysuckle.  I rode by patch after patch of fully-blooming honeysuckle and as I passed each one I took a slow deep breath through my nose in order to inhale as much of that alluring scent as possible (taking care not to hyperventilate.)  I enjoyed each and every wave of the heavenly scent and even found myself moaning a few times–luckily nobody was around.

 

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As with any ride I enjoyed many aspects such as the breeze on my face, getting wonderful exercise, seeing many beautiful sights along the way, but the biggest pleasure today was being able to continually savor that sweet aroma of honeysuckle.  I may not have used an illegal substance today, but I definitely ‘inhaled’ and got as high as possible from honeysuckle.   Believe it or not the song “Rocky Mountain High” kept going through my mind, except I was singing it as “Honeysuckle High”.  I was enjoying myself so much that if my legs hadn’t gotten tired I might still be riding.

 

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If you’ve never tried it, I suggest you give it a shot.  I must warn you that it IS addictive.   😉

 

 

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 Sulphur Mountain Banff Canada

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The line between courage and craziness can sometimes be blurry. As a 52-year old grandma, I viewed myself as somewhat courageous because I’m still very active—I enjoy many outdoor activities including road cycling and backpacking. My perspective on that, however, has come into question.

 

My husband and I were in Banff, Canada, in the Canadian Rockies, for a business trip and we decided to make good use of the free time before the organized events began. The first day we rode mountain bikes along two fairly easy trails, but then decided to attempt a third more difficult trail. I quickly began to question our choice as it wasn’t a typical mountain bike trail, but had steep banks that had been filled in with loose rocks/gravel because the dirt had been washed away. There were many times as I was slip-sliding my way up a hill or inching my way down another that I was doing some serious praying. (i.e. “Please let me survive this.”) After several hours we did make it back to the hotel in one piece albeit with very tired legs and arms (from holding on so tight to the handlebars.)

 

 

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 Me before the trail got rocky  (thus the smile)

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The next day took my questioning to a higher level. We decided to hike Sulphur Mountain, which is a fairly aggressive four mile alpine hike to the summit. I think under normal conditions we would have been OK, but the trail had a lot more snow than we expected. The trail started out as dirt and mud with little patches of snow , but as we climbed there were more and more sections that were snow covered and slippery. We both found ourselves slipping every once in a while, but then as we neared the top, I made one very poor choice in my footing. I was on a very snowy stretch, but there was a narrow strip of dirt along the edge of the trail and I decided to walk on the dirt since it was less slippery than the snow/ice. Unfortunately, as I set my foot on the dirt, it gave way. I instantly found myself on my back, sliding down the side of the mountain — I mean SLIDING at a fast rate of speed. Please understand that this is the kind of thing I’ve only seen in scary movies, but suddenly I was living it and I was TERRIFIED!

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 Me before the fall (again, smiling before disaster)

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As I slid, I frantically grabbed at any branch, root or plant I flew past. At one point I caught the branch of a pine tree but was moving so fast that I couldn’t keep my grip and began to pick up speed. Just as I lost hope of being able to stop myself I saw a tree in my path and braced for the impact. Luckily, I caught the tree with one of my thighs and finally came to a stop with my legs straddling the tree and my arms wrapped around, holding on for dear life. I breathed a sigh of relief as I could tell that nothing was broken, but that there were lot of cuts and bruises. My husband had started to slide down to try and help me, but its was so steep and slippery that he lost control too. He managed to stop quite a bit above me and we began to talk and try to figure out what to do next.  If we tried to climb back up to the trail by ourselves the risk of beginning to slide again was a very real possibility.

 

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 Trail before it got more snowy and scary

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Just then, some ‘rescuers’ came upon us. There were 3 strapping, young men coming up the trail behind us and my husband called out to them to ask for help. They carefully supported each other and climbed down to help us back up to the trail. Once I was safely back on the trail, I realized that the only way to get out of this mess was to keep climbing and finish the last mile of the hike so that we could ride the gondola down.  (Yes, we could have ridden the gondola to the top, but where’s the fun in that?)  Trying to hike back down under such slippery conditions would have been WAY more dangerous than continuing to climb. After another mile or so of hiking through snow with my shaky legs and stinging cuts we finally reached the top.

 

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At the top—shaky, but smiling

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Back at the hotel, as I got my wounds cleaned and tried to assess whether I needed stitches, I began to ponder the question of whether I’m courageous or crazy. I realized how lucky I was and felt grateful for several things. First, I was very thankful that I didn’t break any bones and that I somehow escaped with just scrapes on the back of my arms, larger cuts on my legs and bruises in all kinds of places.  I was also grateful that I had packed mostly slacks and long sleeved shirts for the rest of the week since my arms and legs were NOT very pretty. I was, of course, also thankful that my hands escaped unharmed so I could keep making jewelry. 🙂

 

So…here’s the question…..is a 52-year old Grandma that does somewhat risky things like this courageous or crazy? …. And, even if she’s crazy—– should she stop? I kinda think that crazy isn’t always a bad thing. 🙂

 

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Gondola ride down Sulphur Mountain

 

20140517_121807View of trail near the top from Gondola

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PS—Believe it or not, I climbed back on a mountain bike a few days later, but I was VERY nervous and extremely cautious—-basically a ‘chicken’.  I guess I’m going to stay ‘crazy’, but maybe a bit more cautious than before.

 

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