Words for Wednesday: heavenly scent

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I bring this offering to you today to brighten your world.

Several of these bloom right off my front porch.

They are of the most beautiful bluish purple persuasion.

They are one of the reasons I welcome the season called spring.

Those delicate petals exude the most luxurious scent.

And I wish you could delight in their delicious aroma.

They are hyacinths. One of my favorite spring time flowers.

“Man needs bread and hyacinths: one to feed the body, and one to feed the soul.” ~ Sharon Creech

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

On a thankful Tuesday

blogIMG_1453What if?

What if instead of complaining about one more day of social distancing, self-isolation, or being quarantined, we found something to be grateful for…just for the day.

Each day.

I bet our attitudes would improve. I bet we would face the day looking for and finding that some thing, that one thing, on that one day which causes us to feel thankful.

I’ll start. Today.

I’ll call it Thankful Tuesday. I know, that’s not a very original title but spending each day and night with our five-year-old granddaughter during this time, I’m stuck on simple.

Besides, simplicity is often the best choice.

So today, even though I personally have been keeping my distance from others by staying at home with Papa and our grandchild, taking secluded walks in an outside area where few people go (there are definite advantages to living in the country), or taking a short drive and not getting out of the car, I am thankful.

I am thankful that we recently received a gloriously sunny and warm day to enjoy outside of the house  in the fresh air. And I’m grateful that our forsythia (that perky yellow-flowered bush which, when I was a child, I believed were just for me – ‘for cynthias’) was filled with blossoms.

Little One and I snipped some of those happy spring blooms off and arranged them in a vase for our kitchen counter.

Such a small thing. A simple thing. But something for which to be thankful on this Tuesday. And each time I look at these, my heart is full of gratitude even during these difficult times.

“Begin each day with a grateful heart.” ~ unknown

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Throwback Thursday: stop fishing

blogIMG_3009Almost 10 years ago, I started this Mama’s Empty Nest blog. Since then some aspects of life have changed and some have not. I’ve decided to share throw-back posts from the earlier years of this blog every now and then. Sort of a walk down memory lane.

Today’s post is a Thursday throwback to the year 2011. Back in January of that year, I wrote this post and today, I think it can still offer encouragement to my readers as we “shelter in place and flatten the curve.” 

Patience is not always my strong suit. It’s a virtue that I’ve tried hard to develop over the years and I think I’ve succeeded somewhat.

When that overwhelming urge wells up in me to complain over the slowness of the checkout line, or the traffic ahead of me, I’ve learned to squelch it. I silently ask myself what’s my big hurry? Is waiting five more minutes going to make that much of a difference? The answer is usually no.

But when I’m forced to wait for answers to the big deals in my life, I admit it isn’t so easy. Currently, I’m in waiting mode. My jet plane is flying in a holding pattern, just circling the landing strip, waiting for the signal that all is well, proceed to land. And it’s not easy.

I heard a snippet of information today that made an impact on my way of thinking.   Corrie ten Boom survived the heinous Nazi concentration camps during World War II, and wrote the book, The Hiding Place.  She once commented that God cast our sins into the depths of the ocean and then posted a sign that read “No Fishing Allowed.”

I liked the visual picture her words painted for me. And it prompted me to take this picture and apply it to my current holding pattern. I think we can cast our anxieties into the depths of the ocean just like God throws our sin into the deep.

If God is majestic enough to take care of the tiniest piece of plankton or the smallest sea creature in that ocean, He can handle any problem I encounter. He has the power to control the tides of the vast seas and if He is mighty enough to do that, He is powerful enough to wash my worries and concerns out to sea with the waves He commands.

But here’s where I must do my part. Once I cast my cares on Him, into the ocean of His love and sovereignty, I need to stop fishing them back out. Today on this 18th page of Chapter One in my new book of Opportunity, I need to put down my fishing pole, pick up my Bible and wait for God’s perfect timing.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” ~ 1 Peter 5:6-8 (New International Version)  ©2011 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Be encouraged, dear readers, and cast your anxieties on God. He cares for each one of us.

“Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.”  ~ Charles Spurgeon

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: desert adventure

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My brother-in-law leading us on an adventure

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That view!

 

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Arizona sunshine and beauty

“A man practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, traveling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies, and adopting new viewpoints.”  ~ Wilferd Peterson

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Turning rocks into gems

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It’s just an ugly old rock or is it?

Inspiration.

For me, it often appears in a visual form. Words do inspire me, which is why I keep an ever-bulging, tattered, old notebook full of quotations that “speak” to me.

But images. Oh, those sights my eyes behold, art work I may have the opportunity to view, photographs that I manage to coax out of my camera, they provide much of the spark that fires my thoughts and helps me put those thoughts into written words.

That was surely the case when we visited the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in our nearby city last month. Previously here in my blog, I shared some of my images and thoughts that fired up my brain when I entered the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems there.

The brilliant colors, the sparkle, the glimmer, and shimmer of those ‘rocks’ all lit up and displayed on ebony surfaces spoke to me without words.  Proof of that old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.

“These gems have life in them: their colors speak, say what words fail of.” ~ George Eliot

Viewing the decent photos I managed to take – it was difficult to photograph items behind glass and I’m nowhere near a professional or even knowledgeable photographer – continues to provide creative thoughts in this cluttered brain of mine and I want to share them with you.

We can look at a rock and say, “Well, it’s just a rock.” But what is on the inside of that rock? When split open, what you find may totally amaze you. What looks cold and mundane on the outside may radiate warmth and a magnificent treasure on the inside.

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Display in Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems @ Carnegie Museum of Natural History

The beauty of it reminds me that those rocks that exist under our feet, in mountains, in the deepest caverns, or elsewhere were all created by the God of the universe. The one God that can penetrate our own cold, stony hearts and fill it with light and love for His Son, a Savior, a Redeemer.

“Let us carve gems out of our stony hearts and let them light our path to love.” ~ Rumi

But even the beauty you may find on the inside of that cracked open rock can be further refined.  A number of processes cause a mineral or gem to form. Various conditions, forceful pressure, temperature changes all contribute to its formation.

Fracturing and friction produces another change into something much more precious and glittery – a gem stone. And that reminds me that we too can be polished up, our hearts made new. We can shine like the finest and most expensive gems in a jewelry store window when we give our lives to the One who loves us most.

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Gorgeous gems in the Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems

But often it takes going through some rough places, some difficult experiences, some really hard times to become a beautiful gem.

“The gem cannot be polished without friction nor man without trials.” ~ Confucius

And that reminds me of a passage of Scripture in the Bible. One of Jesus’ disciples named Peter wrote to his fellow Christians, praising God for salvation through Jesus Christ, for a living hope that believers can have despite frequent suffering and persecution.

His words are recorded in the New Testament in the book of 1 Peter, Chapter 1, verses 6-8:  “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.”

Out of difficult trials, as a believer in Christ you can still hold onto a gem of hope, a gem of light, a gem of joy, a gem of love. Aren’t those the most beautiful gems you may ever possess?

“Sometimes the darkest challenges, the most difficult lessons, hold the greatest gems of light.” ~ Barbara Marciniak

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Words for Wednesday: timeless

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“To provide meaningful architecture is not to parody history but to articulate it.” ~ Daniel Libeskind

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“Architecture is not about space but about time.” ~  Vito Acconel

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“Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.”  ~  Frank Gehry

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Unchanged hall of beauty

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Hall of Architecture @ Carnegie Museum

Over 50 years ago as an elementary school-aged child on a classroom field trip, I visited the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Art for the first time. 

Just to offer a bit of historical reference about this famous Pittsburgh, PA landmark, the museums were founded by the wealthy businessman and philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, in 1895. The original building which housed the fledgling museum was called the Carnegie Institute and also held the Carnegie Library.

The next year, the first Carnegie International, an exhibition of contemporary art, took place.  After that, the museum began acquiring a vast collection of artwork.

When Carnegie learned that prehistoric creatures’ bones were being uncovered in the western part of the United States, he sent crews of scientists to Wyoming where they discovered the first dinosaurs.

Dinosaur Hall was one of the aspects of the Carnegie Museum that I remember well from my first trip there. The other portion that I recall was the Hall of Architecture. When Papa and I visited the museum last month, I was pleased to find it still looked like it did all those years ago.  It was just as impressive and awe-inspiring as I remember it to be.

blogIMG_0583The Hall of Architecture, which first opened in 1907, is beautiful with its expansive space lit by a skylight ceiling. During that era of time, collections of casts were popular, so Carnegie’s institute began collecting architectural casts, plaster reproductions of classical sculptures, and bronze replicas. Today that collection is the largest in the United States.

blogIMG_0585To say the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Art is a gem is an understatement. Those who visit Pittsburgh should definitely include it on their list of “must see.”  They will not be disappointed. We certainly weren’t.

“As an architect you design for the present with an awareness of the past for a future which is essentially unknown.” ~ Norman Foster

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

There’s art and then there’s art

blogIMG_0600There’s an old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” I think that not only pertains to life but also to art as well.

Let me be the first to say I am not an art expert in any way, and I won’t pretend that I do know much about that world. But I know I appreciate it, admire it, enjoy seeing it, but sometimes I just don’t understand it.

When Papa and I visited the Carnegie Museum of Art, where some 32,000 pieces of art consisting of paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, and plenty of other visual art and objets d’art as well are displayed, I found some artwork beautiful and inspiring, some just was not my cup of tea.  

Many years ago, when I worked as an arts and entertainment reporter/editor for a daily newspaper, I wrote a feature article about an artist who had become a resident in our city. Gebre Kristos Desta was an Ethiopian modern artist and poet, who arrived in the United States as a refugee from his native country’s socialist regime at the time.

Kristos, as he asked me to call him, had studied art in Germany, returned to his homeland, and had been well received by the Ethiopian emperor during the 1960’s and 1970’s.  He became a teacher at the university in Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, but when the emperor was overthrown and socialism became ensconced in his country, Kristos was pressed upon to create political propaganda that he didn’t agree with.

In the late 1970’s, he defected from his native land and sought asylum in Germany. Denied refuge there, he eventually gained political asylum from the United States.  In 1980, he arrived in a place that must have seemed quite foreign to him – the plains of Oklahoma.  

I remember visiting with him at his tiny apartment with my co-worker, one of the newspaper’s photographers, and noticing how little Kristos possessed in his meager surroundings. As we talked, I soon realized what he had endured just to be free from persecution and free to express himself through his paintings in whatever ways he was inspired.

In the short time he lived there, some local art patrons embraced him and his work purchasing his abstract expressionism paintings. He was invited to hold an art exhibit as well. Sadly, within a year or so of my interview with him, Kristos passed away at the age of 50.

Through internet research, I’ve learned that a museum, funded by the German government and devoted to this artist, now exists in Addis Ababa where Kristos’ paintings that had previously been stored in Munich are now displayed.

Back then when I met Kristos, I was not well versed in the art world, and while I could appreciate the paintings he showed me, I truly didn’t understand them.  But I could sense the emotion he poured into his work and my memory of this soft-spoken, articulate man who sacrificed so much just to gain some freedom is what remains.

Now, some 40 years later, I’m still not very knowledgeable about art, but I do recall some of the famous artists of the past and their work.  Names like Rembrandt, Monet, Degas, Matisse, Cassatt, Van Gogh, Picasso, Michelangelo, da Vinci, Cézanne, Renoir, Munch, Vermeer, Dali, and Rubens.

So it was most fascinating for me to view a few of those famous artists’ works gracing the exhibit walls at the Carnegie. From Mary Cassatt sketches and Henri Matisse drawings to paintings by Edgar Degas, Edvard Munch, and Paul Cézanne, every display was attention-grabbing.

Those I particularly enjoyed were The Garden in the Rue Cortot by Montmartre Pierre-Auguste Renoir in 1876  (top left in photo below); Cliffs near Dieppe by Claude Monet in 1882 (bottom left);  and Le Moulin de la Galette by Vincent Van Gogh in 1886-87 (right).

I find that I’m drawn more to realistic and impressionistic styles of painting than abstract or cubism styles of art. Abstract art work leaves me baffled, pondering just what exactly the artist is trying to convey to me. And often I just don’t know. I’m too literal, I guess.

I have to wonder if those artists who express themselves in those styles understand their work either as I’m reminded of a quote I read once made by surrealist artist Salvador Dali, “If you understand a painting beforehand, you might as well not paint it.”

Some of the artwork exhibits that we saw caused us to be perplexed, scratching our heads in puzzlement. But I did find some of the modern art displayed to be thought provoking.

blogIMG_0591I admire those artists’ creativity and imagination. I appreciate their free-thinking kind of minds and I support the freedom they have in which to present their art.

I just don’t think I’d ever desire having it displayed in my living room. 

“Paintings must be looked at and looked at and looked at… No writing, no talking, no singing, no dancing will explain them.” ~ Charles Demuth, American watercolor artist

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

Words for Wednesday: Spring by Tiffany

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Tiffany glass art @ Carnegie Museum of Art

I’m longing for spring. I’m longing for color in my world. 

Green. In the expanse of grass on our lawn. In the leaves budding forth on the trees.

Purple. In the first crocuses of the season that pop up through the soil.

Yellow. In the daffodils that peek their sunny faces through the shrubs around our house.

Pink. In the aromatic hyacinths that make the air smell so sweet.

Red. In the perky tulips that make me smile.

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Tiffany glass art @ Carnegie Museum of Art

And if spring won’t cooperate and arrive soon, I’ll have to find those colors in these photos of beautiful Tiffany glass artwork on display at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

For me, they are a complete picture of spring.

“Some days seem to fit together like a stained glass window. A hundred little pieces of different color and mood that, when combined, create a complete picture.” ~ Maggie Stiefvater

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

A perfect day

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The first perfect day in the city

A perfect day. How would you describe it?

For some, a perfect day would be one without any mistakes made in everything attempted.

For others, a perfect day would depend on the weather. Lots of snow in the right condition on a mountain for skiers and snowboarders. Lots of bright sunshine and a day on the sand and in the ocean for beach lovers.

Perhaps a perfect day would be a day without arguments, disappointments, and complaints.

Maybe your idea of a perfect day is a day off from work.

Still for some people, a perfect day is time spent with a loved one.

Perfect days are as variable as we as individuals are. We each have our ideas of what constitutes a perfect day.

In the throes of dreary days and cabin fever, I often find it difficult to claim “This was a perfect day.” But recently, I found myself thinking exactly that and I realized that perfect days don’t necessarily depend on whether the sun shines or not, whether I’m at a certain location or not, or even when conditions are right or not.

Perfect days come from my attitude.

Two of those perfect days occurred when we ventured into our nearby city. The first happened when we left our empty nest home in a snow flurry and spent an entire day at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Art.

We had a great time together viewing all the exhibits and just enjoying each other’s company while experiencing something different than our usual schedules and routines. When we left the museum, I felt encouraged and invigorated and then astonished to find a beautiful blue sky overhead with warmer temperatures than we had before.

A perfect day!

The second such day came when we accompanied our daughter and granddaughter to the Children’s Museum. After a full day of watching our granddaughter’s eyes light up with excitement and interest in everything she experienced there, we departed from the building to find chilly temperatures and view overcast, gray skies.

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The second perfect day in the city

But still, despite the weather, it was a perfect day!

What made the difference? How I viewed each day – with gratitude for the time we spent together regardless of whether the sun shined or not. Gray skies or blue. Warm or cold. A day of life. A day with loved ones. A day of thanksgiving for life.

“Today is a day of completion; I give thanks for this perfect day, miracle shall follow miracle and wonders shall never cease.”  ~ Florence Scovel Shinn

©2020 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com