Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: Oh, Henry!

Weary of being at home in dreary weather, we two empty nesters decided to go do a little exploring one day last month when the sun showed its cheery face for a while, but temperatures remained chilly.

What we uncovered on our little jaunt day-tripping was a surprise. In a county within driving distance, we discovered it boasted 23 covered bridges, the second most of all Pennsylvania counties. Something we didn’t know!

We found three different driving tours to see these historical structures, but since we had already devoted most of the day elsewhere, we knew time wouldn’t let us visit them all.

So, we settled for one tour of four covered bridges in the eastern part of Washington County.  We encountered another pleasant surprise when we realized two of the bridges were situated in 2600-acre Mingo Creek County Park, about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh.

And that park was yet another nice surprise.  Well-maintained and operated by Washington County Parks and Recreation, there are plenty of trails for walking, running, nature hikes, mountain biking, and even horseback riding.

For families, picnic shelters and playgrounds are located throughout the park, even a designated spot called Cozy Cocoon for those with autism spectrum disorder. Outdoor sports enthusiasts can make good use of ball fields and a disc golf course.   

Or for those who enjoy flying remote model aircrafts, the Washington County Model Aviation Association operates an airfield in a secluded area of the park.  

And yet another surprise is the Mingo Creek Park Observatory where visitors can view the sky via permanent telescopes or bring your own.

For history buffs, two historic homes are also in the park in addition to two covered bridges. Last week I highlighted the first one we found, Ebenezer Bridge, and today’s Tuesday Tour will showcase the second, Henry Covered Bridge.

Oh, Henry, you are a puzzle though since the history of this bridge is basically not known. It’s possible Henry Bridge was constructed in 1881, but some historians think it was erected in 1841.  The bridge builder also remains a lost mystery and is unknown.

Regardless of its age, this 36-foot long, 12-foot wide bridge crossing Mingo Creek is photogenic and can be viewed on all sides.  And visitors can either walk or drive through the structure.

Like nearby Ebenezer Covered Bridge, Henry is a red painted, vertical boarded, Queen post structure with two windows on each side, and a tin gabled roof.

Henry Covered Bridge is also designated as a historic bridge by the Washington County History and Landmarks Foundation.

From there, we traveled to two more covered bridges on the eastern Washington County driving tour which I’ll share next week.

We can’t wait to find time to go back and discover more surprising historic bridges sometime soon. We truly enjoy finding these treasures from the past.

“If a life can be a series of perpetual surprises, that’s the most joyous experience you can have.” ~ Deepak Chopra

© 2023

Posted in Life

Words for Wednesday: shakin’ going on

Have you ever felt the earth move under your feet?

Maybe you felt that way when you fell in love as the lyrics reveal in a 1971 song, I Feel the Earth Move, written and performed by Carole King.

♪♫ “I feel the earth move under my feet. I feel the sky tumbling down; I feel my heart start to trembling whenever you’re around…”♪♫

Or maybe some of you know that unnerving feeling because of an earthquake tremor. That’s a scary scenario I’ve experienced a few times.

When our family moved to the Pacific Northwest from the Midwest in the early 1990’s, I often wondered why we needed to prepare earthquake kits every school year for our children to store in their classrooms.  

Then we felt the movement of the earth twice, and I learned that the possibility of earthquakes there wasn’t just an idea but a reality.

One morning around 5:30 am I was awakened because our bed was shaking, and I heard a ticking sound caused by our dresser mirror vibrating against the bedroom wall.

Our house shaking was brief and caused no damage, but we soon learned a 5.6 magnitude earthquake had occurred south of our Portland, Oregon suburb.

The next year, we felt a slight tremor while on spring break at Disneyland. It was just a couple months after a 6.7 earthquake in southern California caused fatalities, thousands of injuries, and major damage.

Just shortly after checking into our hotel, the floor shook a bit for just a few seconds. Papa and I looked at one another with a bit of trepidation and determined it was an aftershock tremor.

Still scary and I must confess I worried a bit about a more damaging and longer-lasting earthquake happening while we were being entertained on those Disneyland rides. Thankfully, our trip was uneventful when it came to that kind of earth moving experiences.

Around a decade ago or so, the earth moved under my feet once again while I was at my workplace here in Pennsylvania.

That time I was seated at my desk, busy on my computer, when my desk, credenza, and the very chair I sat in began shaking and rattling. Fortunately, nothing rolled since a slight earthquake tremor lasted only a few seconds.

Unlike the Carole King song, the sky didn’t tumble down and blessedly neither did any buildings during those times, but they did set my heart to trembling a bit.  

Sometimes those earth-shaking memories come back to me and that occurred a couple months ago here at Mama’s empty nest.

Since both Papa and I are retired, we’re home a lot. One day, we heard some very loud, thumping, vibrating kind of noises outside.

Living in the country where it’s pretty peaceful and quiet, thunderous, booming noises cause us to peer outside to see what on earth is happening.

Along the two-lane state highway in front of our property, some trucks inched along like snails, then would stop, lower some kind of equipment to the ground, and the noise would amplify.

This continued for some time, and of course since it was an unusual occurrence, I grabbed my camera to snap a few photos.

We were temporarily stumped by what was going on but soon discovered that it was a form of seismic survey performed by a seismic testing company’s “thumper trucks.” And naturally, I had to research online to learn what that was all about.

Here’s what I found. A large “shaker” plate is attached to the truck’s center and is lowered to the ground. Then the truck’s weight is placed on the plate and shock waves or vibrations are sent through the ground to collect data.

The plate is then raised up so the truck can move to another point and repeat the process.

Don’t ask me all the scientific and mechanical details about this procedure because I’m not sure I understand it all. I imagine our mechanical engineer son could explain it better.

But I did read that the vibration frequency typically ranges between 20–150 Hz, so not only did we hear the thumper trucks, but could also sense the vibrations. Even so, there wasn’t a tremendous amount of shaking going on, so we weren’t very concerned.

Why was this being performed? In our area, some companies have been drilling for natural gas.

So even though that doesn’t necessarily make the earth move under my feet, or the sky to tumble down,  or even cause my heart to tremble, it does reassure me that the natural resource that heats my home is found right underneath us in our part of the state.

And that reminds me that when the earth does feel like it’s moving out from under me, when circumstances in life come that I don’t understand and certainly don’t want, when my heart begins to tremble a bit, I need not fear. My God is always with me, no matter what.

“So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.” ~ Psalm 46:2 (New Living Translation)

© 2023

Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: unforgettable

Often when I write posts for this blog, song lyrics come to my mind while I link words together.

I’m not sure why that filing cabinet in my brain spits out those lyrics when it does, but it happens more times than not. Say or think or write a word and a song queues up ready to sing.

This quirk of mine occurred again when Papa and I were day-tripping (oh gosh, there goes another song in my head) last month.

After our stop in a particular town to view sights there, we uncovered some picturesque and well-maintained covered bridges. Of course, I had to jump out of our vehicle and snap away with my trusty camera.

We found four historic covered bridges in eastern Washington County, Pennsylvania, but there are 23 throughout the county! 

Because we had already spent time exploring a different locale that day (which I’ll share in a future post) and viewed the only remaining covered bridge in Westmoreland County (last week’s post), we were running out of daylight.

That just means we must plan another day-long road trip to see the other 18 bridges. Yay!

The first Washington County covered bridge we visited sparked an old hymn in my mind, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, written by 18th century pastor Robert Robinson at the age of 22.  

The hymn begins with ♪♫“Come, thou Fount of every blessing; tune my heart to sing thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise…” ♪♫

But it’s the second stanza that played in my head and caused me to start humming the tune: ♫♪ “Here I raise my Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home…”♫♪

Perhaps a definition is needed by what is meant by raising an Ebenezer. In the Bible’s Old Testament, an Ebenezer was a stone set up to commemorate how God intervened for His people in a significant and mighty way. (1 Samuel, Chapter 7)

In the Hebrew language, Ebenezer means “stone of help.”  That stone was so people would remember for generations to come how God had rescued His people.

You might have guessed by now, the name of the first Washington County covered bridge we located is Ebenezer Bridge. And now once again, I am singing this song in my head as I write this.

It’s unknown when this structure was built, but it’s safe to say long after that hymn was written. Its builder is also unknown.

The vertical boards of this 32-foot long, 12-foot wide bridge are painted the traditional barn red and there are two windows on each side.

For those who wonder why bridges were covered, the reason was to protect the structures supporting the bridge from the weather.

According to the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges, keeping the wooden timbers dry from decay and collapse made a bridge last longer.  When wooden bridges were not covered, being subject to the weather caused them to only last about 20 years.

So covered bridges protected a bridge’s truss – the wooden beams that make up the bridge. Ebenezer Covered Bridge is a Queen post truss style bridge, which means it uses two central supporting posts.

Ebenezer is also a transplant. It originally crossed the south fork of Maple Creek near a place called Ginger Hill in Fallowfield Township.

When construction of a major highway (Interstate 70) in 1977 began at that site, this covered bridge was saved from destruction, sold to Washington County, relocated to the county’s Mingo Creek County Park, and placed on abutments of an earlier bridge once situated over Mingo Creek.

Then Ebenezer was renovated, and its deck was covered with new planks and reinforced with I-beams. The bridge is open for both vehicle and foot traffic and is a most photogenic spot because it can be viewed from many angles.

While we were there, a professional photographer was capturing some pictures of a young lady posing with the bridge in the background.

Not only is Ebenezer a popular site for photographers and park visitors, but it is also the site of a yearly Covered Bridge Festival held during the third weekend of September. For 2023, the festival will be held September 16-17 and will run from 10 am-5 pm.

Visitors can find Ebenezer Covered Bridge, designated a historic bridge by Washington County History and Landmarks Foundation, in the southwest corner of Mingo Creek County Park, about one mile from the park’s west entrance. A parking lot is located nearby.

Perhaps someday, we might be able to say we’ve visited every covered bridge in our state. Pennsylvania has the most covered bridges of any state – 213!

Until then, I’ll raise this Ebenezer and ask God to continue to grant us good health and the means to travel to see sights that amaze us two empty nesters. And I’ll remember to be thankful.

“Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.” ~unknown

© 2023

Posted in family, grandparenting

Words for Wednesday: magical birthday

How did our first grandchild get to be eight years old already?? Grandchildren are like flowers, you never get tired of watching them grow but…they grow up too quickly!

“There’s nothing like a grandchild to put a smile on your face, a lump in your throat and a warm feeling in your heart.” ~ unknown

© 2023

Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: finding a gem

A road trip was calling our name.

A bit disappointed that we empty nesters cancelled our road trip south for the time being, this Mama and Papa still felt the need to hit the road. So one recent day with semi-nice weather (it wasn’t rainy or extremely cold), we filled up our vehicle gas tank, and hit the road.

Where were we going? Somewhere not too far away as this was a day trip. But we found several gems in our own backyard, so to speak. And today on this Tuesday Tour, I’m sharing one of those with my readers.

Some of you recall that we enjoy discovering covered bridges; I love photographing them and featured those relics of the past in a series here at Mama’s Empty Nest.

We drove south (obviously not to the southern state we intended to visit though) with one destination in mind, which I’ll highlight in a future post.  But along the way, we “uncovered” five covered bridges we’ve never visited.

Today’s tour features Bells Mills Covered Bridge near the small town of Yukon, Pennsylvania. Unlike surrounding counties, Westmoreland County, where this structure is located, can claim only one remaining covered bridge – this one.

Spanning Sewickley Creek, this peaceful bridge isn’t far from busy highways (about three miles from I-70) and Pittsburgh suburbs of Allegheny County, yet it sits in a very rural area.

Painted the typical barn red that distinguishes historic covered bridges, the span was designed by  Daniel McCain, an Allegheny County bridge construction superintendent, and erected in 1850. Of note is that McCain also worked on Pittsburgh city bridges and Pennsylvania and West Penn Railroad bridges.

Depending on different sources I found online, the length of Bell Mills is reported as anywhere from 90 to 107 feet long. No matter its length, it’s a well-maintained bridge that you can drive through.

Named for the Bell brothers, who operated a gristmill near there, Bells Mills Covered Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. Eight years later, the bridge was completely rebuilt and in 2009 repaired after a fire damaged it.

Obviously, Westmoreland County does a great job maintaining this historic treasure.  The bridge was painted with fire-retardant paint, a new roof was installed in 2012, and another repair was completed in 2019 when a hit-and-run incident damaged the bridge.

Even though the bridge doesn’t look as picturesque as it might in spring, summer, or fall, our winter visit to Bells Mills was very enjoyable.

Next week, I’ll showcase the other covered bridge treasures we dug up during this day-long road trip.

“Your diamonds are not in far distant mountains or in yonder seas; they are in your own backyard, if you but dig for them.” ~ Russell Conwell,  Temple University Founder

© 2023

Posted in family, Life

Words for Wednesday: downward dog

When our entire family congregates at one place from time to time, I always keep my camera handy.

I don’t just capture good memories and family love with it, but also some funny and entertaining photos.

Times spent together as a family don’t happen as often as I would prefer because so many of our dear ones live far away from Mama and Papa’s empty nest.

But when our three adult offspring, their spouses, three young grandchildren, and the grand-dog manage some time together, whether here at our home or theirs, we celebrate with lots of games, good conversation, laughter, and yummy eats.

And sometimes, a spontaneous and chucklesome photo opportunity just presents itself. Like this one — a comical version of the yoga pose downward dog.

“Family is the heart of a home.” ~ unknown

© 2023

Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: a slice of Pittsburgh

Alas, what to do when you’re in need of a road trip, not just for a change of pace but also as blog fodder for your Tuesday Tour posts, and you’re stuck at home?

We two empty nesters planned a short getaway recently. Just a little respite for a few days. We had hoped to head southward in search of sunshine and some warmer temperatures.

But the day before we were scheduled to leave, cold symptoms (not the you know what) showed up. We decided to keep our germs to ourselves and we didn’t want to travel when we might not feel so well during the trip.

So, road trip postponed until later. Disappointing? For certain. But we’re planning to take it later.

Since we haven’t ventured too far from home lately, I decided what better place to highlight today than our nearby city? It took over a week to gather the pictures you’ll see here because I literally searched through hundreds in my photo cache taken over the last decade or so. (In case you were wondering, that’s why I didn’t post last week.)

For those family and friends who live nearby, today’s post won’t showcase anything new, but for those readers who live in other parts of my state, my country, and even across the world, I’m hoping you enjoy a little slice of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The second largest city in the state, Pittsburgh has gotten a bad rap in the past, leftover from its smoggy steel mill days. But even back in 1784, apparently there were people who thought Pittsburgh would never amount to much as evidenced by this historical display I discovered.

That 18th century Congressman Lee was very wrong. And I’m going to prove that there are so many great things about this city making it more than “considerable.”

Because two major rivers – the Allegheny and the Monongahela – join in the city to form the Ohio River, Pittsburgh has been called the “City of Bridges.” That’s right – there are a lot of bridges, 446 to be exact.

Not only must you navigate over bridges, but you’ll drive through at least one of three major tunnels there: Fort Pitt, Squirrel Hill, and Liberty.

One aspect I never tire of is the amazing view from seeing nothing of the city as you enter the Fort Pitt tunnel going northward and it suddenly unfolding before you when you emerge. Either daylight or nighttime, it’s a sight to behold, and I never have been able to capture the photo well from a moving vehicle at night.

Another view of the city that never ceases to capture my attention is the spectacular sight of it from atop Mount Washington.

In the last decade, Pittsburgh was named as one of the most livable cities. It’s rich in history and culture.

“There’s so much that I like about Pittsburgh, actually. The cultural district and museums are wonderful, and I encourage everyone to check them out. And the food is excellent, too!” ~ Troy Polamalu, former Pittsburgh Steeler

When it comes to Pittsburgh cuisine, visitors surely will find something that suits their taste buds either from exquisite fine five-star dining at the Le Mont with its spectacular view of the city…

…or if casual good eats is more your style, you’ll enjoy the iconic sandwich made famous by Primanti Brothers. (Although we’ve eaten there many times, I’ve failed to get a photo but this one was found on Pinterest.)

Pittsburgh is home to some big-name universities like University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University as well as 60+ other colleges in the surrounding area.

Top-notch medical care and medical research also has a home in this city. And several technological firms have offices there as well.

In many ways, the city has something to offer for everyone, and today I’ll show you just a few more sights in this underrated city.

History buffs will enjoy visits to the 250-year-old Fort Pitt Block House, located in Point State Park right at the confluence of rivers in downtown Pittsburgh. 

You can learn more about this historic spot here.

While you’re there, you can enjoy the Point State Park fountain too, shown below from Mount Washington.

Then head to the Heinz History Center where you’ll not only learn about the city, its people, and its history, but also about the famous Heinz ketchup.

Another must see is the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and its counterpart, the Carnegie Museum of Art. So much there to see and marvel about.

For more culture, visitors can take in plays, musicals, art exhibitions, opera, ballet, and symphonic concerts in one of the cultural district venues, which includes Heinz Hall. Also a visit to the 1928-era restored theater re-named the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts is a must; it’s historic and beautiful inside.

Sports fans, take your pick. Either wear some black and gold and wave the “Terrible Towel” to cheer on NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers at Acrisure Stadium (once called Heinz Field).

Or catch a Major League Baseball game at PNC Park with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Maybe you’d rather sit ringside watching NHL ice hockey with the Pittsburgh Penguins. If you’re a soccer fan, you can attend a Pittsburgh Riverhounds match.

And speaking of rivers, of course, for those who love boating, waterskiing, or any kind of water craft sport, the three Pittsburgh rivers welcome you.

You can even take a river cruise on the Gateway Clipper fleet.

A visit to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens provides some beautiful examples of nature…

…as well as the many parks in the city, including Frick Park and Schenley Park.

For family fun, visit the Carnegie Science Center, where even we empty nester adults enjoyed the exhibitions.

Or the Children’s Museum with its educational and fun activities and an entire floor for water play.

Or the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Or one of two amusement parks in the vicinity – 124-year old Kennywood, featuring seven roller coasters, or Idlewild Park, where families can enjoy not only the rides but also Storybook Forest.

There’s a lot more to explore in this city, but a trip to Pittsburgh wouldn’t be complete without a ride on either the Duquesne Incline or the Monongahela Incline.

Have I convinced you yet to visit Pittsburgh?

“Pittsburgh. I’d been there. One of the most underrated cities in North America. People who’d never been there thought of it as a graveyard of abandoned steel mills, but it was a beautiful city, and it would be good to have it back.” ~ Steven Brust, American author

© 2023

Posted in photography, travel

Tuesday Tour: what they say in Nevada

Have you noticed that mystical “they” that we all quote from time to time always have something to say? You know…”They say Rome wasn’t built in a day” or “They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”…you get my drift, right?

One of those sayings they utter occurred to me as I was perusing my cache of photos this week in search of something to highlight on today’s Tuesday Tour, since we haven’t been traveling too far from home lately.

What wisdom “they” impart came to my mind when I spotted certain pictures?

They say that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Of course, they mean Las Vegas, that neon bright hotspot in the Nevada desert.

I can say I’ve been to Vegas, but honestly, I’ve never really been to Vegas, nor do I have any great desire to visit.  

Las Vegas and all it has to offer just doesn’t appeal to me even though family and friends have enjoyed their trips to that glitzy place that glows in the dark and seems to fascinate so many.

The famous crooner/movie star Frank Sinatra was once quoted as saying, “Las Vegas is the only place I know where money really talks, it says goodbye.”

If I have to spend our retirement money, I’d prefer to spend it on something I really would enjoy and that would not be gambling, extravagant shows, expensive stays at over-the-top hotels, or indulgent meals.

Twice I’ve technically been in Las Vegas having flown into the city’s airport back in 2018 when Papa and I journeyed west to visit family in Arizona and then flying back out of that same airport.

But really, all I saw of Las Vegas was the inside of the airport and its many gambling slot machines, those one-armed bandits, and the area surrounding our terminal.

We landed in Vegas at night, family picked us up at the airport, and we drove south through the inky dark desert to their Arizona home. The only sights we could see were a couple casinos here and there in small towns on the way.

We departed from Vegas a week later in the early morning, so again our drive to the airport was shrouded in darkness, although we could view a bit of terrain once the sun arose.

But for Papa, it’s a different story. Several years ago, before he retired, his job as an industrial company salesman required his travel to Las Vegas for a trade show.

He managed to sightsee just a bit, and he took some of the photos you see in today’s post.

Other than the glittery, eye-popping neon lights of the strip district of the city, he and his boss managed a day trip to Hoover Dam.

This huge dam (726 feet high and 1,244 feel long), was erected on the Colorado River in a place called Black Canyon located at the Arizona-Nevada border.

Thousands of workers constructed the dam during the Great Depression years, and a monument to those can be seen there.

Hoover Dam is the highest concrete arch dam in the United States and is a popular tourist spot claiming around 7 million sightseers each year.

Lake Mead, considered to be one of the largest artificial lakes in the world, was created by the dam, which supplies water to the area’s population, as well as hydroelectrical power and agricultural irrigation.

Papa enjoyed that little side trip; Las Vegas, not so much.

Papa and I certainly could return to the Las Vegas area for some sightseeing and entertainment, but it’s really not on our bucket list of places to go during our retirement years.

Let’s just say we’re not ones who would be prone to exclaiming “Viva Las Vegas!”

Instead, we’ll save our money for locations that provide a little more enjoyment for old fogies like us. Or at least that’s what “they” might call us.  

“Retirement is like a long vacation in Las Vegas. The goal is to enjoy it the fullest, but not so fully that you run out of money.” ~ Jonathan Clements

© 2023

Posted in family, Life

Words for Wednesday: crafted with love

I have to admit I’m not too creative. Oh, I can throw some words together and for the most part, communicate the thoughts that light a spark in my brain alright.

But when it comes to crafts…not so much. My creative juices don’t flow that way. Back in the day before I became an empty nest Mama, I played at crafts a bit though.

I did my fair share of counted cross stitch, embroidery needlework, made hairbows for my girls, and even sewed a few Halloween costumes here and there for my growing children. But there were patterns to follow for all that. I didn’t have to create from my own inspiration.

I went through a season of scrapbooking but only to make albums for my children. I tried my hand at cardmaking with stamp art, but I never was extremely satisfied with the results.

And when it came to decorative kinds of crafts for home, I relied on my crafty friends to inspire me with ideas that they could show me how to accomplish.

I actually have fond memories of spending time with hot glue guns and supplies when my group of friends would meet not just to make something but for lunch and good conversation.

And I once had a neighbor who was sweet enough to talk me through making crafts she was excellent at doing.

But for the most part, I kind of gave up on crafting my own doo-dads.

Then grandchildren came along. And when a grandchild asks you to paint rocks with her, you do just that. (Our masterpieces shown in photo above.)

When she wants to “make some crafts,” you climb up a stepstool, open the cabinets in your laundry room, and pull down whatever materials she wants to use to create something unique.

Although those crafts wouldn’t win any awards or buyers at a craft show, we enjoy making something together. And this Nana also enjoys being the recipient of some lovingly made crafts. (Also pictured above.)

Recently, this Mama/Nana donned my crafting hat once again when our oldest grandchild wanted to decorate a T-shirt for her 100th day of school.

Some children at her school opted for dressing like a 100-year-old person, but my sweetie wanted a creative and distinctive shirt to wear for that special day.

Her mama, who says she’s craft-impaired and not a Pinterest perfect gal, provided a clean white T-shirt and said, “Mom, can you help her come up with an idea?”

Mama/Nana wracked her brain. Then Mama/Nana dug through those laundry room cupboards to see what she could find.

Ribbons. Several different spools of different colored ribbon and a couple handfuls of ribbon scraps. Now I understand why I kept those bits and pieces even though I thought it was just because I was raised by parents who lived through the Great Depression years.

What could we do with ribbon? On a shirt? Grandchild and I thought and thought. We could make 100 little bows. But that didn’t lend itself to any kind of theme other than 100 items.

Finally, it came to me…ribbons tied in knots. 100 ribbons tied into 100 knots. And the slogan? “Ready or ‘knot’ Day 100”.

But what to use to write the catchphrase on the T-shirt?  Back to the cupboard to find a bottle of blue glitter glue that grandchild and I used for some other craft.

Little One remembered where we had purchased it, so Papa drove to that nearby store to buy a bottle of pink glitter glue so we would have two colors.

After a day of allowing the glitter glue slogan to dry, 100 ribbon knots were hot glued onto the T-shirt. And my grandchild was ecstatic and couldn’t wait to proudly wear our creation to school on the given day.

She was then even more excited to be chosen for wearing a very creative shirt – entirely unique from everyone else – and get her photo taken for the elementary school’s Facebook page.

Happy grandchild; happy Nana.

Crafting with love. Memories made. Mission accomplished.

“You don’t have to be artistic or creative to capture your memories.” ~ unknown

© 2023

Posted in Life, Love

Lasting Love

Today’s post is a little diversion from the usual. Every Tuesday for a couple years now, I usually publish a Tuesday Tour post showcasing some place this empty nest Mama and Papa have journeyed.

But today is different. It’s Valentine’s Day. That one day a year where the world supposedly focuses on love.

Hearts and flowers. Chocolates and stuffed animals proclaiming “I Love You.” Sentimental greeting cards gushing with words of affection. The aisles in the stores are full of these items. It’s one of the busiest days of the year for florists.

All to proclaim love for the one who receives the gift. For some, those gifts truly make their hearts sing. For the receivers. And for the givers. Those folks who claim giving gifts or receiving them as their love language are feeling mighty happy about all of these Valentine goodies.

For me, those things don’t matter. If you give me a gift, I’ll be appreciative that you spent the time thinking of me and I will thank you profusely.

But gifts don’t really float my boat. They’re nice. They’re lovely. They often are extremely thoughtful. But they don’t necessarily bring joy to my heart. 

Several years ago, I asked my husband to stop spending money on gifts for me, especially on Valentine’s Day. Flowers fade and die.

Plants need someone who can coax them into growing and flourishing. My black thumb kills plants, and if you viewed that gorgeous, blooming amaryllis plant I shared last Wednesday, it’s not my doing. It’s the result of Papa’s green thumb.

My expanding waistline doesn’t need chocolate candy, even though I agree chocolate can be the answer to any problem. Greeting cards pile up and then what do you do with them? Store them away forgotten in some closet or discard them in the trash.

Jewelry is lovely, but honestly, I have enough. Trinkets proclaiming love just clutter up the house and I certainly don’t need anything more to dust. I’m not a foodie, so even going out for a nice dinner doesn’t make my heart swell with appreciation.

So Valentine’s Day gifts just aren’t my thing.

I’d rather my true love show me love in other ways – spend engaged time with me either at home or on an adventure or do some act of service for me. And after all of these years of marriage, the Papa of this empty nest, finally gets it.

Love, for me, is showing me you care with actions. Listening to me. Being there when I need you in good times and bad. Through thick and through thin. You know, that for better or for worse thing that so many of us married folks said in our wedding vows.

Years ago, before carpal tunnel and arthritic hands, I enjoyed doing cross stitch projects. The photo above is a piece of that kind of embroidery I completed a long time ago and is an insert on a wooden shelf that has hung on our entry hall wall ever since.

It simply says love abides. And isn’t that the truth? Real, honest to goodness love does abide. Love, no matter what day it is whether it’s Valentine’s Day or just any old Tuesday, is what carries us through life.

My Valentine’s wish for you is that you find and keep that kind of love – lasting love that abides. And you share it with those around you.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers.

“Love is what carries you, for it is always there, even in the dark, or most in the dark, but shining out at all times like gold stitches in a piece of embroidery.” ~ Wendell Berry