Drifting through vacation

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Images captured while speeding down a highway.  Road signs proclaiming their welcome from one state to another.  One night’s stay in a hotel here, another night’s stay in a different hotel there.

Sounds kind of transient, doesn’t it? Drifting from place to place. Stopping only briefly.  Just passing through.

That describes our recent vacation pretty well and transient just happens to be this week’s photo challenge theme.

We traveled in our trusty vehicle northward along the Hudson River Valley, stopping at places that we listed on our itinerary and other spots that just beckoned to us to pause and enjoy the scenery.

One night’s stay in a New York (the Empire State) hotel. Then up early the next morning to drive into Massachusetts on our way to Boston for a couple of days sightseeing and nights of restful sleep in a blessedly cool air-conditioned room with a king-sized bed.

Passing through the Bay State (MA), we decided to detour from our intended path and drive the entire length of Cape Cod, just passing through, but stopping here and there to enjoy the seashore, capture some photos, hike to a lighthouse, and eat a picnic lunch.

Then continuing our transient journey, we headed for the Ocean State (Rhode Island) and into Connecticut (officially the Constitution State but also called the Nutmeg State). Again, another couple of nights in a cool and comfortable hotel room in between more sightseeing and adventures.

Back in our vehicle, we traveled around NYC, drove through the Garden State (New Jersey), and headed for home. But not before another stop. 

Another place to pass through. Another event to place in the memory bank of special moments.

We breezed into Papa’s old hometown, traveled up and down streets familiar yet now different to him, passed by his former homes, and visited his parents’ grave sites. Then we checked into yet another hotel.

But the best part of all was arranging to meet someone for lunch the next day. 

We had a wonderful visit with Papa’s oldest brother, his wife, and our grown up nephew. Brother is 17 years Papa’s senior, a Navy veteran, and someone my husband just doesn’t know all that well because time, distance, and both his and our being transient and moving often separated them.

It’s been almost 19 years since they have seen each other in person and we had a joyous sort of family reunion.

While just passing through. Catching a moment to remember like the fleeting glimpse of a road sign.

“Catch, then, O catch the transient hour; improve each moment as it flies!” ~ St. Jerome

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com
 

 

The heat stole my focus

blogIMG_0049It wasn’t supposed to be like that.

Papa and I recently took a well-deserved vacation, something we haven’t been able to do for a few years. We decided where we wanted to venture, plotted our route on the map, and planned a tentative itinerary for each day.

Prior to leaving, I examined and re-confirmed weather forecasts for the areas we were going to visit. Why? Not because I was fearful it would rain. Instead, I wanted to ascertain that the weather would be mild. Because you see, I’m a fair-weather kind of gal.

I absolutely despise hot, humid temperatures. They make me wilt. They make me melt. They make me exceedingly cranky. That’s why generally, summer is not my favorite season.

So I was truly hopeful that the weather forecast I kept checking was accurate and wouldn’t change. Yep, I was that focused on it.

And of course, you know what happened, don’t you? The weather changed drastically. Temperatures that were supposed to settle down in a cozy, comfy mode of pleasant mid-70 degree Fahrenheit weather instead flared and fired up to the mid-90’s.

When the thermometer hit 95 degrees, my face flushed beet-red and my body temperature gauge felt totally out of control. I literally began to drip perspiration, dreaded all the outdoor walking we had planned to do, and thought I’d just turn into spontaneous combustion right there on the city streets of Boston.

That’s when I lost it. My brain fried, my misery escalated with each soaring degree of temperature, and I totally lost my focus.

And that just happens to have been the photo challenge last week – out of focus.

That perfectly described me – out of focus. I couldn’t concentrate on the historical sights we planned to see.  I couldn’t enjoy the city we had looked forward to visit so much. I couldn’t even dredge up the energy to take photos.  (Now you know how far out of focus I was!)

All I could think about was how scorching hot it felt. How the sweat stung my eyes, dripped off my nose, and ran down my back like a waterfall. How I couldn’t wait to find some cool, air-conditioned spot to just sit and vegetate and try desperately to get my focus back. Even Papa, history buff that he is, realized his enthusiasm was draining as well.

So we succumbed to being senior citizens who can’t take the heat. Folks of a certain age whose focus, energy, and gumption lagged as the roasted heat of the day took its toll.

We took a trolley tour of the city of Boston. We still saw all the sights from our shaded trolley seats but I didn’t get many pictures to prove it. And I just didn’t care.

After the tour ended, we decided to take a harbor cruise in hopes of cooling off a little more. It helped somewhat, but I found myself still…well…out of focus.

We opted to head out of the city and stop along some other points of interest on our way to Rhode Island and Connecticut.  The heat still followed us for a while, but I regained motivation when we drove the entire length of Cape Cod, where I snapped the above photo.  

Hot temperatures were like that beach fence separating me from the cooling waves of the Atlantic. The heat, causing me to become out of focus, distracted me from enjoying a couple vacation days.

But once I regained my focus on appreciating our vacation, the rest of the trip was the balm it was meant to be. Ocean breezes always calm me down like a slathering of cool aloe vera gel on sun-scorched skin.

And oh, yeah, guess who forgot her sunscreen?

“Getting distracted by trifles is the easiest thing in the world… Focus on your main duty.” ~ Epictetus

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Just visiting a friend

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Mama’s Empty Nest is visiting today at my gracious Florida friend Debby’s blog.  I’m honored that she asked me to be a part of a friendship series she’s hosting at her site.

Please check out my post, A Friend For All Seasons, at Debby’s site. Click here to read it. 

I’ll be back here tomorrow for Wordless Wednesday.

“A friend is a gift you give yourself.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Birthday resolution

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This was one cake I could have and eat too

Another trip around the sun just completed. Yep, a full year has gone by and I celebrated another birthday this month. 

Sixty-some years on this planet and I can honestly say, I’ve never before in my lifetime seen so much animosity exhibited between human beings as I have in the last few years.

All the name-calling.  All the politically-charged posts on social media. All the mean-spiritedness because someone doesn’t agree with you. All the disrespect for other’s opinions. All the anger. All the rage. All the crude vulgarity. It literally makes my stomach churn.

And you know what else it does? It makes me wonder how far it’s all going to go. How horrible of a world will my grandchildren have to live in if this hatred continues?

Because call it what it is. Hatred. On both sides of the issues.

I logged in to my personal Facebook page on my birthday and my newsfeed was assaulted with sites that seemed to provoke divisiveness. Blasting comments arguing over issues that they do/don’t agree with.  It left a really bad taste in my mouth on a day I just wanted to sit back and enjoy.

The smiles and good will my FB friends meant for my birthday in the form of kind wishes and greetings posted on my wall seemed overshadowed by all the other ugliness I saw. Each time I scrolled down my newsfeed more hostility continued to affront me causing me to cringe, log out, and not return, determined to not let it ruin my birthday.

But I must get something off my chest. I’m sorry, I just cannot believe that social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, or whatever, is the proper place to air all your fury and wrath against this or that. And I certainly cannot see where it does any good in changing folks’ opinions. It just seems like arguing vehemently just for the sake of arguing. And really, who needs that? Doesn’t it raise your blood pressure to an unhealthy high?

Foremost, I want to ask those who do so, do you really, truly believe spouting off on social media and attacking others’ for their beliefs and opinions is going to change their minds? Seriously?

I’ve said it before and I will continue to repeat it. A verse from my Bible, spoken by Jesus, tells me that a house divided cannot stand.

“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” ~ Mark 3:24-25 New International Version (NIV)

In this same month, June, back in 1858, Abraham Lincoln used part of this scripture in his speech upon receiving the Republican candidacy for the United States Senate, a seat he lost to Stephen Douglas. At the time, according to an online article about our 16th President, even Lincoln’s law partner, William Herndon, considered Lincoln as morally courageous but politically inappropriate in using the reference in his speech. 

Lincoln is quoted as saying this about the reference: “The proposition is indisputably true … and I will deliver it as written. I want to use some universally known figure, expressed in simple language as universally known, that it may strike home to the minds of men in order to rouse them to the peril of the times.”

A house divided cannot stand. …that it may strike home to the minds of men in order to rouse them to the peril of the times. Maybe we need to take heed to those words and apply them today.

Years later, Herndon said Lincoln’s speech “did awaken the people, and despite Lincoln’s defeat, he thought the speech made him President.”

As we all know, at the time Lincoln delivered that speech, our country was headed for a Civil War, which did occur during Lincoln’s presidency. Civil War. Divisiveness against each other in our own land. Brother fighting against brother. Hatred against one another because of opinions and beliefs.  Is history repeating itself? It surely seems so on social media and on the news.

It saddens me to see a great divide in this nation. I know we are not a kingdom, but we are a country called the United States of America, and all of this in-fighting causes me to think it will be our demise.

But you know what? I realize I can’t have my cake and eat it too. So, I dismissed the ugliness for my birthday at least, and tried to enjoy the rest of my day, which I did.

However, I’ve made a kind of birthday resolution that I will not be a part of this. I’ll continue to stay out of the social media frenzy and fray.  I still have my strong beliefs and opinions and I willingly share them with those who want to have civil conversations about that, but I will not plaster my disagreement with others via Facebook or here in my blog.

Why? Not because I live in a rose-colored world where it’s all flowers, rainbows, and lollipops. Remember, I’ve been on this earth for more than 60 years now and I am a realist.

I know that what I say can be twisted and misinterpreted and cause dissension and strife. I know that what I say may cause others to react defensively and stir up anger.

Because as a believer in Christ, I do not want to cause other people to stumble.

And because my actions and words are models for my grandchildren, and I do not want to teach them to hate those who don’t sit on the same side of the playground as they do.

“Life is divided into three terms – that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present, to live better in the future.” ~ William Wordsworth

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

 

Order in the vault

blog056 (2)I guess it’s time to let you in on a little secret.

I’m kind of an orderly person. No, if I’m honest, I’m kind of an order freak.

When my house becomes cluttered, items get misplaced, or stacks of out of place belongings start appearing, it totally stresses me out.

I like order.

I like neat and tidy.

I like to have all of my ducks in a row.

Yes, I am that person – the organized one. Everything in its place and a place for everything – that just makes me happier than a kid running up to an ice cream truck on a hot, summer day.

Chaos and disarray make me feel out of control and – ask Papa and he will vouch for this – when that happens, I am one majorly cranky Mama.

So it doesn’t surprise me that when I noticed that this week’s photo challenge theme is order, a photo in my cache came to mind.

Several years ago on a trip to the Deep South, Papa and I drove through Louisville, Kentucky for a bit of sight-seeing.  Before a stop at Churchill Downs, we decided to visit the Louisville Slugger Museum.

It was a fun way to spend a fall morning and we both enjoyed the museum and the factory tour where we got to see how those famous wooden baseball bats are made.

I made sure to photograph a number of items that caught my fancy, including Ken Griffey, Jr.’s bat, who was our son’s favorite baseball player at the time.

One of the areas of the museum that caught my attention though was the Bat Vault. Louisville Slugger bats are used by about 60% of major league baseball players. The Bat Vault is a special room where model bats that were fashioned for 8,000 players who signed contracts with Louisville Slugger are stored.

In order.  Baseball bats used by the greats like Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle. Nice, neat rows of Louisville sluggers preserved for posterity.

It was enough to make an organized gal like myself breathe a sigh of admiration.

“Good order is the foundation of all great things.” ~ Edmund Burke

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

If I call you friend

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Me (front right) with some friends on my 13th birthday. 

Friend. It’s the weekly photo challenge theme.

And the timing of the challenge is perfect because I recently received a surprise long-distance phone call from a friend wishing me a Happy Birthday. 

My friend lives all the way across the country from me. My friend is someone I spent a lot of time with over 20 years ago. She is someone who I haven’t seen in person for about 15 years.

Time and distance separate us, but yet when I have the chance to talk with my friend, it’s like time and distance disappear. We pick right up where we last left off and away we go. There’s never a lull in conversation. Never an awkward moment. Never enough time to talk as much as we want it seems.

“A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I can think aloud.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friend. How many people can I attribute that title to?

Friend. If I look on my blog stats, I have 1000 friends because so far, that’s how many people follow my blog. But a huge majority of those people are folks I’ve never met or shared any kind of conversation with online or in person.

So, even though I appreciate each and every one of those who follow my blog regularly, I can’t really call those readers my friends. What you know of me is only what I write publicly and very few of you even know my name. And what I know of you is probably much less.

When it comes to Twitter, it’s the same story. Many followers, but only a couple that I actually know. So friends? I don’t think so. Not so long ago, I deactivated my account because Twitter just seemed so senseless to me. (I know what people believe about having writer’s platforms, etc., etc., but it’s just not for me.)

Turning the social media page to Facebook, at last count, over 100 people like this blog’s fan page. Some of those are personal friends, some are not. Some are complete strangers to me. 

On my personal Facebook page, I have only 245 friends – small potatoes compared to those who have thousands of “friends.” But I purposely keep my personal Facebook page limited to people I actually know, those who have personal connections with me,  and folks from the past with whom I’ve continued to maintain a friendship. 

So if I call you friend, who are you?

Friend. Childhood friends come and go, but three of my childhood and teen years friends have always been there for me, sharing happiness and sorrow, disappointments and accomplishments.  True steadfast friendships that have endured to this day. Lifelong friends.

Friend. College friends seem like your best friends during those years because you share living spaces, new experiences, heartaches, and fun times with them. But only a couple of those friendships have stood the test of time.

Friend. During my season as a young married military wife, friends who shared the same hardships and the ups and downs of standing alongside husbands who served their country became lifelines. Some of those friendships have prevailed over the years, others have not.

Friend. In my career years, gals I worked with were my supportive and understanding friends. Ones with whom I could share frustrations with over lunch or on break or during a shopping trip. But many of those friendships have faded over time.

Friend. Then came a season of stay-at-home motherhood and I found myself in a new circle of friends. Moms like me with families and a home as our priority. These friends provided a listening ear, a helping hand, and much support since we lived so far away from family. Several of those friendships remain intact even though we are separated by distance, we connect on Facebook.

Friend. And then there were my friends of faith, particularly when my family lived in the Pacific Northwest. How precious they were to me as they helped me cultivate contentment in my circumstances, or how to be thankful in all things, or how to pray consistently and effectively for my children. Those friendships always remain special to me.

Friend. As my season of life changed yet again with a move back to our native state, friends helped sustain me through the illness of my mother, both my mother and mother-in-law’s deaths, and getting acclimated to living in a rural setting once more after so many years in suburbia.

Friend. While working for a non-profit ministry, I gained another new set of friends. Mature and spiritual friends with whom I regularly prayed. Friends who anointed and laid hands on me for healing when I faced my own cancer diagnosis. And to quote a Michael W. Smith song, “Friends are friends forever when the Lord’s the Lord of them.”

Friend. The empty nest, when the last of my three children graduated from college and moved away, literally knocked me for a loop following the death of my father.  I felt adrift in a turbulent sea without a rudder to steer by. 

I struggled with the concept of friendship during that time because those relationships I had with my children’s parents changed dramatically.  My heart ached for like-minded friends who were willing to be soul-sharing kind of friends, not just acquaintances.

That’s when I turned to blogging to pour out words which seemed trapped in my head, heart, and soul. And that’s when the Lord orchestrated another crossing of paths in the pursuit of friendship.

Friend. I never would have thought that I would find good friends online. People whom I’ve never met in person, yet are so dear to me for their encouraging words, thoughtful emails, and in one case, even handwritten letters, texts, and phone calls.  Only a handful, yet you know who you are.

Friend. Being friends requires a lot of giving of oneself. Friends require understanding. Friends must travel a two-way street.  Friends need one another. Friends are good sounding boards, cheerleaders, and sympathetic listening ears.

Much about this life is uncertain, but one thing is clear. If I call you friend, you truly are just that.

Friend.

“To know someone here or there with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of distances or thoughts expressed – that can make life a garden.”~ Goethe

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Ruffled feathers

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An experience I encountered a couple of weeks ago still surfaces to my mind and I find myself wanting to write about it.

Thinking back over what happened, an entire list of old-fashioned sayings came to my mind. You know, the kind your mother or grandmother used to say. Now days, it seems people tend to use vulgar language out in public instead of those archaic, mild-mannered phrases.

Myself, I’d much rather say and hear more genteel versions than the rubbish that comes out of people’s mouths now.  I much prefer to be in the company of Downton Abbey’s Countess Dowager who said, “Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.”

But I digress because the instance that’s on my mind did not include vulgarity of language, but instead perhaps rudeness of character.

When I was young and someone invoked my temper or said something that offended me, my mother used to admonish me with this old saying, “Don’t get your feathers ruffled.”

Today, we’d probably say, “Don’t get your shorts in a knot.” Or maybe, “Put on your big girl panties.”

Well, I encountered someone whose feathers definitely got ruffled.  By me. By an innocent comment I made which invoked a rant causing me to not be able to get a word in edgeways even if I had wanted to.

Papa and I traveled out of state to visit our son, daughter-in-law, and baby granddaughter for Mother’s Day weekend. We had a lovely time spoiling baby girl, conversing with family, and witnessing a sweet baby dedication at church for our little one.

One of our excursions included attending a vendor/craft show at a nearby shopping center on a leisurely Saturday afternoon.  As we strolled along, eyeing up the wares for sale, we stopped at one kiosk to take a closer look. Everything was hunky-dory at first.

The gift items for sale were hand-made and very nice.  A few had sports themes and as I pointed to one cute baseball-themed gift, which was decked out with logos of only one particular MLB (Major League Baseball) team, I casually and quietly remarked to my daughter-in-law, “That’s really cute even though I wouldn’t buy it because I don’t root for that team.”

Well… batten down the hatches!  (There’s one of those old sayings meaning prepare for trouble.) My comment apparently went over like a lead balloon (another one of my mom’s old sayings) with the vendor.

Her head came up and her eyes made a bee line for mine.  It was more than obvious that my comment got her goat and definitely got her dander up.  She definitely wasn’t as happy as a clam!

My son tried to explain my comment by saying, “Oh, they’re from… (and named our nearby city).”

And heavens to Betsy, instead of diffusing the situation, that just really put her nose out of joint. Added fuel to her fire.

Between you, me, and the bedpost, she obviously had a bee in her bonnet, and she was going to let it out to sting us. We endured an outburst about how much she hated our city’s NFL football team. I mean HATED. Hated our team’s quarterback. On and on it went.

She beat that horse until it was as dead as a doornail.

And all I could do as her tirade continued, even while my daughter-in-law was purchasing an item from her, was stand there like the cat had got my tongue. I was speechless at her animosity towards a potential customer.

Okay, in perspective, it’s only sports but I had not insulted her favorite team. For crying out loud though, she certainly didn’t keep it under her hat how she disrespected ours, and in turn denigrated where we were from. Her sour grapes left a bad taste in my mouth.   

As we quickly moved on to the next vendor, I couldn’t help but think that she really had cut off her nose to spite her face because I would have continued to check out her wares and may have even bought something if she hadn’t let the cat out of the bag.

I’m not sure if she was trying to take me down a peg or two or just couldn’t get off her high horse.  But her reaction and her rant caused me to hope that her chickens would come home to roost (her rude interaction would come back to bother her).

She did ruffle my feathers a bit and I felt like I escaped from her wrath by the skin of my teeth. Part of me wanted to tell her she was too big for her britches and another part of me wanted to throw a couple of other old phrases at her: “Heavens to Murgatroyd, lady. Don’t have a cow!

It would have been easy as pie to retort back in a rude manner, but instead we all chose to hold our horses, like it or lump it (endure it willingly), and just move on.

Maybe I should have left her with one parting comment, one that my mother always said to me when I was out of sorts – “You’ll be better before you’re married.”

But then again, I think she was already married. And I think I pity her husband because he better go whole hog and root for the same sports teams as her or he might be up the creek without a paddle

“If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.” ~ another old saying attributed to Aesop

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com