Color me autumn

blogIMG_1915Color me…

I suppose nearly everyone can name a favorite color.  It’s usually the color we’re drawn to the most – the one that delights us or perhaps even defines us as a person. 

If red or dark purple fascinate you, you might be bold or aggressive.  If you fancy blues and greens, you like peaceful, calming effects.  I imagine someone who favors orange is outgoing and extroverted.  

If I have to choose a favorite color, yellow it is.  I’m drawn to it like a bee buzzing around a succulent flower.  Yellow just makes me jubilant all the way around.  I find it cheerful, sunny, and just happy.

Because I love yellow, you might be inclined to think spring or summer are my favorite seasons.  After all, those times of year are usually filled with abundant sunshine and brilliant yellow flowers breaking out in vibrant color.

But no, color me… autumn.  Color me a mixed palette of yellows, reds, oranges, golds, and even browns splashed amidst green here and there.

Color me sunshine shimmering through the leaves of ever-changing trees creating a feast for my eyes. 

Color me warm sunny days and cool frosty nights.

Color me acorns and crunchy leaves underfoot. 

And color me blazing bonfires set against an inky night sky.

My favorite color – the hue of me – isn’t just one color at all.  My favorite color is autumn. And I find my favorite color when I venture outside with my camera and allow my favorite color to encompass me.

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.” ~ George Eliot

(A note from me: This is a re-post from my October 2013 blog; I thought it worthy of sharing once more. Autumn’s colors have not arrived yet in our area and I’m longing to see them.)

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Words for Wednesday: morning has broken

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“Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leave you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing, and listen as Heaven whispers, do you like it? I did it just for you.”  ~ Max Lucado

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Everything old is new again

blogIMG_8996When is something that’s old and worn out really ready to be thrown away?

In this fad of the times – upcycling, repurposing, reusing – everywhere you look online on Pinterest, home decorating sites, Etsy, etc., you find old items whether from your own stash or garage sale and thrift store finds staying out of the landfills.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good thing, but it seems like some people have just discovered the thriftiness of that mindset or think they’ve invented it. Look back at older generations and you’ll find doing so was a way of life.

My parents and grandparents were staunch re-users and repurposed a lot. I possess a quilt, probably sewn in the 1920’s or 30’s, which my maternal grandmother fashioned from old feed sack material and worn out dresses. Proof positive of repurposing long before the current times.

Back then, nothing was thrown away that could be used over and over again. Worn-out or broken items were fixed not ditched, and other usable goods were saved for a rainy day. In other words, don’t throw anything away, you might need or want it later.

My parents continued that frugal way of living and I find myself doing it as well. Before I even toss something in the recycling bin, I stop and ponder whether it can be reused somehow.

All of this reminds me of the song, Everything Old Is New Again, written by Peter Allen and Carole Bayer:

“And don’t throw the past away
You might need it some other rainy day
Dreams can come true again
When everything old is new again.”

Which brings me to the photo above. Some of you may be too young to remember when barns had tobacco advertisements painted on their sides. Every once in a while, you may notice an old, faded remnant of those somewhere. But many of those ads were painted over and the advertisements relegated to the “remember when” category.

Recently, there’s been a renewed interest in restoring and preserving the ones that still exist. Many years ago, such an advertisement on the side of a building in a town near us was painted over but apparently not forgotten.

A community project to restore the Mail Pouch Tobacco advertisement on that building was launched and completed last month. Papa and I happened to be driving through that town one day and we pulled over so I could snap a photo of the refurbished wall.

“The best things in life are old, loved, and rescued.” ~ unknown

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

For the love of family

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Family game time

Family time.

It’s always been an important aspect of our lives here in this empty nest home even when it wasn’t empty.

When our three offspring were young, we tried to spend as much time as possible together, attending activities and sports events to support one another. At times it was oh, so very hectic.

That and living at a great distance away from our extended family – parents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and cousins – prevented us from spending as much time with our relatives as we would have liked.

Over 20 years ago, we relocated back to my hometown to be closer to some of our family. Our kids were teens and pre-teens and our household was still a busy one; Papa’s work travels interfered, but we managed to devote time to parents before they passed away and to some of our extended family.

But since Papa’s extended family lived several hours away, we couldn’t always attend family events like reunions.  As the years passed, we found ourselves only seeing those family members at funerals.

Circumstances changed as we entered these retirement years, and we’ve found ourselves with time to devote to family gatherings afar. As the older generations of our families are now gone, it seems more important than ever to stay connected.

Now days, families are scattered hither and yon. Two of our own grown children live in other states as does one of my sisters and one of Papa’s brothers and their families. Visiting with them requires major trips.

Maybe that’s why I relish time with family so very much. We just don’t get to experience that luxury very often.

Back in the beginning of September, Papa and I traveled across our state for an overnight stay to attend a family reunion with his mother’s relatives. Uncles and aunts are now long gone but still the cousins meet on a Sunday afternoon at a state park for a picnic and time together.

We enjoyed our visit and picnic lunch in a quiet, tranquil area of the park. It was a joy to see the “kids” all grown up with spouses and little ones of their own. The day resulted in a wonderful time of reconnecting, reminiscing, and reacquainting.

Just last weekend, we were blessed with another joyful time of family togetherness when our own “kids” all came home for a visit. The house was full. And with two preschoolers running around, a baby, and a dog along with seven adults, it was a loud and boisterous place.

Quite a difference from what this empty nest home usually is like but we wouldn’t have traded that time and noise and chaos for all the world.

It’s family time. And it makes me happy and contented and looking forward to the next time we will gather again.

Christmas this year in this ol’ empty nest is going to be the most wonderful time of the year.

“When we sit thoughtfully pondering in a quiet place and the Spirit speaks to us, there will come into our hearts and souls the things that are truly our greatest desires, those things that are more important in the long run than anything else. Away from the appeal of the world, that greatest desire usually relates to relationships with family and with the Lord. And when that priority is in place, then we begin to plan our lives with purpose. We begin to have goals that cause us to live with anticipation.” ~ Ardeth Kapp

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Read between the signs

blogIMG_8704.jpgWhere do old, outdated, and worn out highway signs go when they die? I think I found one of the answers.

Abundant highway signs are everywhere, always visible when traveling down any road or by-way. Signs tell us to stop, what route number we’re traveling on, names of streets, when to yield to oncoming traffic.

They warn us of people and animal crossings, one-way streets, curves, and hills. Signs tell us how fast we can legally drive our vehicles, when we’re entering a work zone, when passing lanes end, and when traffic lanes shift.

But have you ever wondered what becomes of old signs? Do they just end up in a landfill somewhere? Or are they recycled?

On one of our day-trips northward, Papa and I exited off the interstate highway (I-79) to search for a restaurant in the town of Meadville, PA. After sightseeing all day and starting the drive home, our empty stomachs gave us signs that dinnertime was approaching.

Paused at a stoplight signaling red, I noticed some unusual art work on the side of the road. Before I could grab my camera to try to snap some photos, the light switched to green.  We continued on to the restaurant we’d chosen, but I was determined to capture that art on our way back to the interstate.

blogIMG_8703.jpgI marveled at the ingenuity and creativity of whoever fashioned this approximately one-quarter mile long art display.  

Several years ago, the Meadville Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) maintenance facility wanted to welcome visitors to town with reclaimed road signs. So they reached out to art professor Amara Geffen from the town’s Allegheny College to help initiate a project.

Working with college art students, PennDOT welders and road crews created the first part of the mural – a sculpture garden of road sign flowers fashioned from cut and welded old, used signs. That clever display consists of 12 flowers, each around 10 feet high.

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Road sign flower garden

Even more discarded signs were utilized to construct a long, creative wall sculpture. This quirky but amazing mural contains blue hospital signs fashioned into ocean waves; a red barn, constructed from stop signs, complete with a white silo made of junction signs; rainbow colored hot air balloons; and other creative sculptures, some of which have moving parts.

blogIMG_8706.jpgThis unusual way of recycling old highway signs caused me to remember an early 1970’s song, Signs, by Five Man Electrical Band.

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind

Do this, don’t do that, can’t you read the sign?

Those song lyrics were written by a man named Les Emmerson as he was traveling in California on Route 66 and couldn’t help but notice that so many billboards obscured the scenic views.

I couldn’t help but think that the art display alongside the road in Meadville wasn’t blocking out the scenery but enhancing it. Instead those signs presented something unusual and interesting to gaze at. And that artwork did kind of ‘break’ my mind.

“In the eighteenth century, it was ladies and gentlemen and swings in a garden; today, it may be Campbell’s soup cans or highway signs. There is no real difference. The artist still takes his everyday world and tries to make something out of it.” ~ Corita Kent

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Love and marriage

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Engagement ring bridal shower cupcakes

Marriage is on my mind this week – if you’ve read my last two posts, can you tell?

Maybe it’s because Papa and I are celebrating our wedding anniversary this month.

Or maybe it’s because two of our grown offspring are also celebrating anniversaries this fall with their spouses. Year seven for both of them.

Or maybe it’s because I just viewed Facebook photos that two of my blogging friends proudly displayed of their sons’ recent weddings. Such love and joy radiated from those pictures.

Or maybe it’s because I recently attended a bridal shower for the daughter of one of my best friends. That sweet young lady will be marrying her true love this fall.

Or maybe it’s because my lovely great-niece is walking down the aisle soon to wed her own handsome prince.

So wedding invitations decorate the front of our refrigerator and my thoughts have turned to RSVPs and gift buying…and marriage.

Weddings are the fun part of marriage. All of that planning and prepping to make that special day just perfect. That is definitely exciting and kind of fairy tale like.

But after the big day is over, real life sets in. It may take a year or two, but eventually, that couple in love realize marriage isn’t like a Disney movie; it’s hard work to live happily ever after.

The shine and glitz of that wedding day can wear off and romance may even wane. But that’s when the two, now become one, have to dig their heels in, look each other in the eye, and say, “We are going to make this work.”

And that’s what I wish for these young couples starting off life together.

I wish they would never allow the realities of life to cause their love for one another to fade.

I wish for perseverance when the tough times come to them.

I wish they understand that you don’t just find the right one to make a perfect twosome, you be the right one.  

I wish them love, not just the fluffy, stars in the eyes, giddy feeling of butterflies that the movies portray, but real, honest-to-goodness love.

The kind of love that makes each one of them remember to insert his or her own name in place of the word “love” in this well-known passage from the Bible.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Because that passage easily describes how a marriage can last until death do you part. May all of these marriages be so.

“True love stories never have endings.” ~ Richard Bach

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

Words for Wednesday: marriage threads

blogIMG_8866 (2)I never understood those cartoonish caricatures of marriage. You know, the ones that show the husband attached to the old ball and chain as if being married is like being a prisoner.

And likewise, I remember when our children were planning their weddings, I noticed a cake topper which portrayed a bride as ‘catching’ her groom as if she were a spider ensnaring him in her web.

Some folks’ idea of marriage, no doubt, can be explained that way I suppose. But I don’t think of it that way.

Maybe it’s because my own parents’ and my in-law’s marriages were long-lasting and successful. Both of their unions lasted longer than 50 years until the death do us part came to fruition.

It saddens me immensely to see so many marriages fail. And in today’s world, that is the norm. I’ve often read that about half of the marriages in our country end in divorce. But apparently, that figure is changing.

I recently read that according to some studies, the divorce rate dropped 18% between 2008 and 2016.   But in addition to that seemingly good news is another caveat – marriage rates have also dropped. Fewer and fewer people are walking down the aisle and pledging to “love and cherish until death do us part.”

Maybe it’s time we change those tired, old jokes about marriage. It’s true that marriage is a binding contract. You do make vows that should be kept to one another for a lifetime.

But marriage isn’t a prison sentence and it doesn’t come with a ball and chain when two people respect and honor one another. And it’s not a trap you find yourself in when both husband and wife work together, weaving the threads of love and understanding for one another to make their union last.

“Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years.” ~ Simone Signoret

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Thumbs up for the ride

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It’s been 42 years today. Over four decades now since two young whippersnappers, who thought they knew it all, stood at the altar of a country church and said those words of promise, “I do.”

Those whippersnappers are now retired folks (well, Papa is semi-retired) living in an empty nest home which once rang with the noise and laughter from three children, now grown and living their own lives and probably thinking they know it all just like their parents once did.

The whippersnappers from all those years ago learned a lot through life’s lessons in the last 40+ years. And no, we certainly did not know it all especially when it comes to the hard work of marriage. Because it IS hard.

It’s hard to deal with the day-to-day aspects of wedded life that gets your shorts in a knot. When he can’t seem to remember not to throw his dirty t-shirts yanked inside out into the clothes hamper or she always leaves the pantry door open. When she gets impatient and cranky over computer/technology glitches and he gets grouchy and rants about politics.

It’s hard to realize you will have disagreements. That you won’t see eye-to-eye on everything.  When you’re newlyweds, it’s difficult to imagine that you will sometimes think, “I don’t really like you right now” in the middle of an argument. 

It’s hard to suffer disappointments in one another because after all, we are human and we will disappoint even our beloved spouse from time to time.

It’s hard to endure changes and setbacks and finances and relocations around the country.

It’s hard to put your heads together and plow through job losses and deaths of parents and heart-wrenching difficulties that threaten your children’s happiness.

Marriage is just plain hard sometimes. Marriage is not a fairy tale or a Hollywood movie. Marriage is real life which sometimes gets awfully messy. But hanging in there, working together through life’s complications as they come, encouraging one another, and bringing out the best in one another while not dwelling on the worst is worth every effort.

Take it from a 42-year veteran.  Papa and I both give a hearty thumbs up for marriage today on our wedding anniversary.  It’s been a worthwhile ride and we look forward to more to come.

“The great secret of successful marriage is to treat all disasters as incidents and none of the incidents as disasters.” ~ Harold George Nicolson

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

A losing lesson

blogPNC Park1We didn’t get to raise the Jolly Roger.

If you’re not a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball fan, you won’t understand that sentence. So I’ll explain for those of you don’t get it. Whenever the team wins, the Jolly Roger flag is raised – you know, Jolly Roger as in the flag flown by pirates…Pittsburgh Pirates.

Even though the Pirates lost the game (4-1) to the Seattle Mariners, it was still a beautiful night for us to attend a Major League Baseball game in Pittsburgh’s lovely PNC Park, located in the North Shore district of the city right along the Allegheny River.

Back in July, my name was drawn for a door prize at our church picnic and I received a voucher for free Pirates tickets. Summer slid by us quickly though and before we knew it, baseball season would be coming to a close. So we checked home game schedules and our calendars and secured tickets online, making use of that voucher.

We couldn’t have picked a more perfect evening to attend a ball game. No hot and humid weather that day, just nice balmy temperatures and as the sun set, a cooling breeze floated off the river and into the stadium. 

Our seats located in right field behind first base perhaps weren’t ideal but we were very close to the field and I could actually see players’ facial expressions when they were stretching and preparing pre-game.

The Pirates though were not so perfect as the game unfolded. Unfortunately, they haven’t been all season long with a dismal bottom-of-the-rung standing of 66 wins and 91 losses.

And it showed by gazing around PNC Park that evening. The stadium, with a capacity of over 38,000 people, wasn’t even half full of fans. With an attendance well under 10,000 folks that night, PNC was only a quarter full. 

So many empty seats. In the words of the old Take Me Out to the Ballgame song, there certainly wasn’t a crowd nor a lot of “root, root, root for the home team.” Actually, it seemed as if more noise and applause came from a small section of Mariners fans instead of the home team supporters.

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Too many empty seats!

Sad, I thought. And demoralizing for an already losing team.

We watched patiently as each Pirates batter either struck out or hit pop up fly balls resulting in quick one, two, three outs. There was more action on the field on Pittsburgh’s part at the end of the fifth inning when the “Great Pierogi Race” was held than during the game. Click here if you want to know what that’s all about.

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The Great Pierogi Race. (Not one of my best photos, but you get the idea.)

Pitching was no better especially when the hurler allowed the Mariners two home runs, one right after the other.

Needless to say, those nine innings of baseball didn’t result in a long game. ‘Fans’ started leaving the game even before the game ended.

And of course, this gave me food for thought.

I wondered what effect the lack of fan support had on those players. I know they’re baseball professionals, they garner boatloads of money to play, and they’re used to the ups and downs of the game, winning or losing, but they are still human. And humans have emotions, positive and negative.

Did it discourage the team when they noticed there were so few fans in the seats? When very few people even clapped for them when the starting line-up was announced? That lack of fan support had to bother them somewhat.

And where were all the baseball fans? Are they that fickle? What’s up with that? Human nature, that’s what’s up.

Why is it that we only seem to get behind winners? Why do people, other than true, die-hard fans, only want to attend games to cheer on a winning team instead of supporting and encouraging a losing one?

We can’t all be winners all the time and yet, that’s what our hearts desire. If the Pirates had been enjoying a winning 2019 season, I guarantee you that ball park would be crowded and full of fans screaming at the top of their lungs.

There’s a good lesson for life in this. When you’re down and out, that’s when you need someone rooting for you, someone in your corner, someone who has your back. Someone who will sit with you, even in defeat, and say, “You did your best. Keep trying. I’ll still be here to cheer you on.”

You know, that’s the kind of person I want to be in life and it took a losing baseball game to remind me of that.

I want to lift up those who feel like they’re failing, those who are downtrodden, with words of encouragement and cheer. It’s more difficult to be the one who stays until the bitter end of a losing battle than running wild with the winner’s mob.

But you know what? It’s worth it.

“There are four words that, when said, will bring out the best in your team, your employees, and your family. They are: ‘I believe in you.’” ~ Coach K

©2019 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com