Have husband, will travel.
After many years of family vacations, Papa and I discovered a few years ago how much we enjoyed traveling together, just the two of us, especially in the off season when families don’t usually make vacation plans.
Since one of us is basically retired from the working world – that would be me – and one of us only has one foot in it still – that would be Papa – we have found time in the last couple of years to travel more often than we did in the lean years when we put three kids through college and paid for weddings.
Travel. It’s become a pleasurable aspect of life here in Mama’s Empty Nest.
“If you never learned the lesson of thankfulness, begin now. Sum up your mercies; see what provision God has made for your happiness, what opportunities for your usefulness, and what advantages for your success.” ~ Ida S. Taylor
Today in my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I’m so appreciative and grateful for the opportunities to set our sights on new horizons and take some trips together outside of the nest. As I sum up my thankfulness for our excursions in the last couple of years, I decided to share a few of my favorite photos from those journeys in a slide show below.
From week-long vacations to weekend jaunts to day trips, Papa and I have been blessed by our travels by car, by plane, by boat, and by train. And I hope we have more opportunities in the future for those blessings.
“All that we behold is full of blessings.” ~William Wordsworth
The sound of silence.
The folk rock duo Simon and Garfunkel released a song of the same name in the early 1960’s. The words to the seemingly haunting music are still embedded in my brain like the vision Paul Simon wrote about in the lyrics:
Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Within the sound of silence. ~ Lyrics by Paul Simon
All those years ago when I was a young girl and even into young adulthood (before children), the sound of silence bothered me. I didn’t like it.
If it was completely quiet, I needed to have noise. Music from the radio or the stereo floating through the air in melodic harmony or sometimes crashing loudly in the form of rock songs filled the silent surroundings.
Or turning the television on just for some background noise did the trick. It didn’t matter what made noise, just so there was some. I just seemed to need some sound to break the eeriness of complete silence. That need probably stemmed from a little fear that niggled in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to be totally alone.
When I found myself in a solitary mode, I filled silence with conversations either on the phone or in person with a friend, neighbor, or family. Anything to eliminate silence.
But then along came children – one, two, three – and our home was saturated with noise. Crying, sibling squabbles, boisterous play, and a houseful of neighborhood children adding to the mix eliminated silence.
Our kids’ teenage years brought even more noise – loud music and video games ruled the air. Chatty teenagers lounged in our family room, wrestled with one another, played round after round of Dance, Dance Revolution. Our house was one noisy place!
By the time the empty nest loomed in my future, I was more than willing to accept the sound of silence. But oh, that empty nest was sooooooo quiet. As the lack of noise became reality, I found myself wandering through an empty house in complete silence. For a while, it unnerved me. It saddened me. It made me feel as if that old loneliness called solitude enveloped me once more.
But I adjusted. I learned to accept the new version of my life. One with the sound of silence. I found I enjoyed time alone. Quiet time to think. Tranquil time to read unhindered. Peaceful time to pursue aspects of life that fulfilled me, like writing in this blog, reading my Bible, capturing photographs.
And in my serenity, I also found that the sound of silence provided me with something that had been missing in a major way in my life. Time to be quiet and listen for the Lord’s voice, His direction, His guidance, His inspiration. Time to be alone without the noisy interference of the world and to relish the sound of silence.
On this eighth day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving, I’m thankful for the sound of silence and for finally learning to accept it with an open heart, mind, and ears to listen.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~ Melody Beattie
It occurs each and every day of the life we are given.
We crawl into our cozy beds weary from a long day of whatever we must accomplish, eager to acquire some rest, and if our minds will just slow down and allow us, we fall into slumber.
Night draws its dark curtain around us as we succumb to relaxation and our bodies and minds absorb the much-needed respite they need.
And then without warning or fanfare, something miraculous occurs in the eastern sky.
The sun slowly makes its appearance on the horizon, chasing away the shadows of the night, adorning the sky with magnificent colors and rays of light shining through the clouds.
Another day granted by the Creator of the universe. The Master Painter of our skies. The great and omnipotent Lord of all. The One who gives us life and determines when it will be no more.
Life. Another day. A gift we take so much for granted. A gift we often fail to be thankful for.
A gift I lift my words of gratitude and my heart and soul up with thanks to the Almighty Father on this seventh day of my 30 Days of Thanks Giving.
“God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say ‘thank you’?” ~ William A. Ward
I often think how thankful I am for a camera.
My husband, Papa of this empty nest, has given me many lovely gifts over our 40+ years of marriage but the best gift (other than our three children) has been my DSLR camera. I’ve always enjoyed photography from the time I got my first Polaroid Swinger camera at age 12 to the present, all these decades later.
My father was a camera buff. He could always be found behind a camera documenting our family’s events, occurrences, and his surroundings with either a still or movie camera. Stored away are reels of Dad’s home movies made throughout a number of decades starting with the first time he brought home a movie camera in 1961.
So I think the photography bug rubbed off of my father onto me.
After my Polaroid became obsolete, I stopped taking photos until I used a little Instamatic camera occasionally in college. But taking photos moved to the back burner as I had more important things to fry – getting a degree.
Papa and I invested in our first 35 mm film camera when we were young married folks. Eventually, that camera also bit the dust, so I possessed a succession of cameras that used film after that, capturing our children, our travels, our friends and extended family.
Then along came digital cameras. What a breakthrough! You didn’t have to wait until you got your film developed to see if you had decent photos or not. I inherited our daughter’s old digital camera when she purchased a better one and fell in love with taking pictures all over again.
I progressed onto my own digital point and shoot and it served me well enough for a time. But the more time I spent taking pictures, the more dissatisfied I became with my point and shoot. Then one day, Papa gave me the most amazing gift. A DSLR complete with camera bag and a serviceable lens.
That thoughtful gift opened up a whole new world of creativity for me. I truly am an amateur photographer and don’t even try to compare my photos to professionals. But my photos give me so much pleasure and accomplishment, not to mention how they inspire me in writing too.
I try my best to capture my own photos to accompany my blog posts, but occasionally I just don’t have one that fits well, which is why you may see some stock photos from a free source with my posts, especially as I attempt to post each day in my 30 Days of Thanks Giving. I just haven’t had enough time to use my camera as much while I’m writing something for this challenge I’ve given myself.
Still, I’m thankful for my trusty camera and the avenue of creativity it opened up for me. It serves me at home when a photo opportunity presents itself. It travels with me on trips. It helps me chronicle fun family times with my loved ones. And it captures my sweet little grandchildren as they grow and change.
As I focus on the subject I’m capturing through the seeing eye of my camera lens, I focus on aspects of life that bring me so much joy. I focus on things I may never have noticed before. I focus on something other than myself. And that makes me grateful.
“Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the abundance that is already present.” ~ Marelisa Fábrega
To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog.
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done.
That little nursery rhyme came to my mind when we visited an indoor farmers market on a little excursion in late summer.
In our neck of the woods, there are a couple of small outdoor farmers markets where we can support our local farmers. But Central Market in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania was on our to-see, to-do list because we wanted our granddaughter to experience going to a farmers market on a grander scale.
In addition, this market holds the distinction of being the oldest, continuously running public farmers market in the United States. The building, where more than 60 local vendors sell their goods, dates back to 1889. But the market was established in Lancaster in 1730.
This Nana grew up in the country where my grandparents and parents always had large gardens. So a lot of our fresh food came from our own plot of land. Milk came from a nearby dairy farmer and later it was delivered by the milkman to our insulated milk box on the porch. Fresh eggs came from a chicken farmer’s wife who delivered them each week to our doorstep.
But Papa grew up in the city. Smack dab in the city where you stepped outside the front door of his home, walked down steps to the sidewalk, and then you were on the street. No grass anywhere, not even his back yard which was covered in bricks.
So there was no place for a garden. Fresh food came from the supermarket, but every week his mother also went to the city farmers market. Papa has fond memories of going there with his mom and of the delectable food purchased. I too remember when we would visit my in-laws, going to market with my mother-in-law as such an enjoyable experience.
So on our excursion one hot summer morning, we walked up and down the aisles of this Lancaster farmers market taking in all the sights and aromas of the produce, fresh meat and poultry, cheeses, baked goods, flowers, and herbs there.
I sipped a cool, refreshing, just made spearmint iced tea in between capturing photos. Every aisle proved enticing and we had a chance to support local farmers there, such an important thing to do. Without farmers, where would many folks get good, nourishing food?
“People don’t realize or appreciate how the food at the market gets there.” ~ John Hull
As I wait for my favorite season of all – fall, I’ve been looking back over photos I’ve taken in years past. This one remains one of my favorites.
A favorite photo for a favorite season. And some descriptive words found in my notebook of quotations to accompany it.
Seems fitting for this Words for Wednesday post.
When the trees their summer splendor
Change to raiment red and gold,
When the summer moon turns mellow,
And the nights are getting cold;
When the squirrels hide their acorns,
And the woodchucks disappear;
Then we know that it is autumn,
Loveliest season of the year.
~ Carol L. Riser
There’s something about sunflowers that just makes me smile.
Whether it’s their brilliant yellow petals or the way they tower above other plants as they grow so lofty and strong, sunflowers command my attention when I see them.
They always turn their faces towards the sun and that’s what I strive to do as well. Maybe that’s why they evoke feelings of positivity and happiness in me.
Sunflowers have been my oldest daughter’s favorite flower since she was a young teen-aged girl. And each time I see those perky, cheerful flowers, I think of her and that also brings smiles to my face and happy thoughts to my mind.
The sunflowers that grew in our backyard garden are no more. They slowly commenced hanging their heads as if they were saddened to see summer depart and their sturdy stalks withered and shriveled.
But all is not lost because the sunflowers’ season has come to a close, for left behind are their dark centers chock full of plentiful seeds.
Those sunflower seeds make yummy treats for the bird population that frequents our yard. And perhaps, one of those seeds will fall into the fertile garden soil and surprise us with a new sunflower plant next spring.
An optimistic symbol of life – maybe that’s another reason why radiant sunflowers bring me pleasure.
They remind me that seasons come and seasons go. Life changes occur and dark shadows can threaten my joy. But the sun will reappear and its warmth and light will bring sunflowers back into my sight once more.
“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” ~Helen Keller