Friday, December 31, 2010

Love In Progress

"The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image-otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them." Thomas Merton

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Reading Challenge

I'm always hesitant about signing on for a challenge, but this one was so different that I've decided to do it. I have several books about Ireland I've been wanting to read, so this will give me the impetus to get on it.

Here's the list from my own books that I plan on reading in this challenge:
1. How the Irish Saved Civilization-Thomas Cahill
2-6-The Irish Country Series by Patrick Taylor-There are five of them
7.The Luck of the Irish, Our Life in County Clare-Niall Williams and Christine Breen
8.The Pipes Are Calling, Our Jaunts through Ireland-" "
9.Anything by Oscar Wilde

Anyone want to make a recommendation for an Irish book? I think I'm going to like this challenge. I've been wanting to go to Ireland for years. Maybe after reading these books, we'll take a trip to the Emerald Isle.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Best Way to Live

Here's an excellent quote by Alain de Botton, which I took from the blog Becca & Bella, on the contemporary difficulty of constant distraction and our tendencies toward indulgence and over-feeding in all areas of life:

"One of the more embarrassing and self-indulgent challenges of our time is the task of relearning how to concentrate. The past decade has seen an unparalleled assault on our capacity to fix our minds steadily on anything. To sit still and think, without succumbing to an anxious reach for a machine, has become almost impossible.

The obsession with current events is relentless. We are made to feel that at any point, somewhere on the globe, something may occur to sweep away old certainties—something that, if we failed to learn about it instantaneously, could leave us wholly unable to comprehend ourselves or our fellows. We are continuously challenged to discover new works of culture—and, in the process, we don’t allow any one of them to assume a weight in our minds. We leave a movie theater vowing to reconsider our lives in the light of a film’s values. Yet by the following evening, our experience is well on the way to dissolution, like so much of what once impressed us: the ruins of Ephesus, the view from Mount Sinai, the feelings after finishing Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Ilyich.

A student pursuing a degree in the humanities can expect to run through 1,000 books before graduation day. A wealthy family in England in 1250 might have owned three books: a Bible, a collection of prayers, and a life of the saints—this modestly sized library nevertheless costing as much as a cottage. The painstaking craftsmanship of a pre-Gutenberg Bible was evidence of a society that could not afford to make room for an unlimited range of works but also welcomed restriction as the basis for proper engagement with a set of ideas.

The need to diet, which we know so well in relation to food, and which runs so contrary to our natural impulses, should be brought to bear on what we now have to relearn in relation to knowledge, people, and ideas. Our minds, no less than our bodies, require periods of fasting."

Top two photos are from my 'mind fast' last weekend at Fripp Island.

The cloister photo was taken in Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury, England.

My Favorite Authors

I've been seeing on various blogs different 'favorite authors' lists. I thought I'd post my own. This is not exhaustive, and as soon as I'm finished, I'm sure I'll think of someone else to add.

So here goes:

Mark Twain
Anthony Trollope
Kathleen Norris
Elizabeth Goudge
Pat Conroy
Susan Howatch
Rosamunde Pilcher
Barbara Michaels
Jan Karon
Susan Vreeland
C.S. Lewis
Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Diana Gabaldon
Alexander McCall Smith
Bill Bryson
Jean Craighead George
D.E. Stevenson
L.M. Montgomery
Madeleine L'Engle
Beverley Nichols
Gladys Tabor
Jane Austen
Mrs. Radcliffe (Anne)
The Bronte Sisters
Daphne Du Maurier
Augusta Jane Evans
Thomas Hardy

And my favorite 'beach trash' authors:
Janet Evanovich
Jude Deveraux

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Happy Place

The top two photos are the views from the deck of the tiny house I'm renting this weekend at my beloved Fripp Island, SC. After the super busy fall I've had, I needed a getaway before Christmas gets here. I'm having a good time reading, planning, watching videos, walking on the beach, and anything else that catches my fancy.

The same day I left, our youngest son graduated from college. We're so proud of him and all he has accomplished. The flames are from a Japanese restaurant hibachi where we went to celebrate after graduation.

The musician is none other than the famous, Dr. Michael Braz. All five of our children have been under his tutelage in the community youth choir. I thought it was fitting that he send Dylan out into the world with his lovely music.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Reasoning of a Child

Grandson #3 spent several days with us last week. Army son, Garrett, brought home a case full of his old toys for me to keep. He said his nephews could play with them, so Bauer picked out the pink Power Ranger. It turned out to be female with two different heads that can be changed about; one that's normal and one that has a helmet. He turned the normal head into position and said to me, "Nana, is this how you looked when you were a little toy?"

How do you answer that?

Monday, November 1, 2010

In The Garden

Some fall photos in my overgrown garden. The morning glory took over the iron table and the hanging flower bucket, but I like it that way!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fall in Tennessee

Some photos from my visit home this week. The leaves were pretty much gone, but there still was plenty to see. I love, love, love this time of year!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Art and Life

"Not all are called to be artists in the specific sense of the term. Yet, as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: in a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece." Letter of Pope John Paul II to Artists

I don't believe that God has called me to be an artist in the specific sense of the term. I do believe that he's called me to surround myself with beauty and share it with others.

This is the photo which won The Heritage Award in Photography at our local county fair last week. I've tried for years to win first place. Finally, it happened. This has been a good month for me, photographically speaking. One more thing to mark off the ole' bucket list.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Comments on my Blog

I've been thinking for some time about responding to comments left on my blog. I've always felt rude for not commenting but wasn't sure of the best way to respond; do I e-mail the commenters or comment on my blog directly below the comments?

I've finally decided that the easiest and best way is to just comment below each of your comments. If anyone knows of a better way, please let me know.

So look below your comment if you want to hear my response. Libbyquilter, you said I have my settings at 'no reply'. What does that mean? If it's not a good thing, how do I change it?

What We Need

What we need is not new light, but new sight;
Not new paths, but new strength to walk in the old ones;
Not new duties but new wisdom from on high to fulfill
Those that are plain before us.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Busy, busy days

I didn't post at all last week, because my life right now is super busy; busier than I like it to be. But what do you say when your daughter wants you to keep her four boys for four days so she can have a little r & r with her husband? Yes, of course.

And what do you say when your son calls from Ft. Benning and says that he's coming home for the weekend? Yes, of course!

And what do you tell a twelve-year-old daughter who wants to enter things in the fair which means taking those things there one weekend and picking them up the next? Okay, I reckon.

So now with all those things behind me and my birthday coming up on Wednesday, I'm heading for the mountains! It'll be a short trip, but I don't care. I HAVE to see the mountains in the fall and get apples at Mercier's Orchard in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Check them out on the internet.

After tending to so many family needs these last two months, I'm going home to be pampered by my parents. It's nice to be little again every now and then.

P.S. The photo is one taken last Christmas of us and our five children. It's a photo of a photo, so the quality is pretty poor.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tea Olive Beauty

I confess that I bought my tea olive bush because I liked its name. Little did I know that it would grow so big or smell so good. It smells like an orange tree or something mighty similar. It's blossoms are tiny yellow flowers that all fall off the same day and make this lovely, mass profusion of petals.
I wonder why it's named Tea Olive? And does it only grow in the South? I've never seen one anywhere else. Does anyone know the history of this plant? Do you have one?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Tea Olive, An Autumn Bouquet, and Pink Damask

I bought this lovely bouquet at Wal-Mart last week. It was forgotten in the car until the next day when it was discovered with no lasting damage. A quick cutting off of the stems and a little packet of miracle reviver added to the water, and it is good as new.

I treated myself to a slow walk-through of a favorite thrift store yesterday, and I found this mint condition pink damask tablecloth with ten matching napkins. The reason it isn't on the table is because of the 4-H mini-booth you see in the background. I hope to reclaim the table for Sunday dinner as the project has to be turned in to the fair this Saturday.

And the scent of the tea olive is divine this time of year. I can smell it from every room. It grows about fifteen feet high at the bottom of the back porch steps and reaches all the way to the roof of the second-storey balcony attached to our bedroom. I just love the way the blossoms fall like rain and look so lovely on the steps.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Engaged... by the grace of God!

Well, our son, Garrett, FINALLY got back from Iraq on Tuesday. He came home for the weekend and brought a female person with him. She had flown down from Chicago the day before and was coming to "meet the family". They met when she was assigned to his office as an interpreter and were pretty much twitterpated. Anyone know where that word comes from?

I knew he was going to pop the question, the big one, and was trying to help him think of a way that both would remember for a lifetime. I came up with this: I was having a photography exhibition in the main gallery of our local art gallery. The Emma Kelly Theater is the building beside it. I arranged with the director to have WILL YOU MARRY ME LINDA put on the marquee outside.

It all went beautifully, but because I was inside making a speech while he was outside making his, I didn't get to see it. There are pictures (thanks, Charlotte) that I'll post later.

She said, "Yes!" So in order to show her what kind of family she was marrying into, everyone but me got up at 5:00 the next morning and went dove hunting. She borrowed some shoes and a jacket from Darcie and a camo shirt from Gayle (her future father-in-law). I'll have to say that she's a good sport!

I said, " the grace of God" in the title because when Garrett left for Iraq he said, "How am I going to be able to find a wife in Iraq? I AM NOT marrying anyone in the army!" I said, "Well, you never know how God is going to work things out. I just know that it'll be at the right time and it'll be good."

I knew he was very skeptical and doubtful, but finding a wife there anyway, who wasn't in the army, has been a big boost to his faith. God can do in abundance more than we can ever imagine.

More pics later as they become available. No wedding date has been set yet, but since soldier son has to be in Ft. Sill, OK in May, it'll be before then...and in Chicago...and an Eastern Orthodox Assyrian affair. I'll bet she'll have lots to teach this southern family.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Take This Fun Test

I found a new blog called The English Muse that had this blog post "I write like...Kurt Vonnegut??"

I took a five-second test to see whose writing mine most closely matched. The results were Cory Doctorow. I don't know who he/she is but will definitely have to find out. I was hoping for Jane Austen. Maybe I'll be surprised after reading some of Mr./Ms. Doctorow.

Take the test and let me know who you write like. It's fun!
I write like
Cory Doctorow

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

More Grandboys

Two more reasons I love being Nana.

Our Soldier's Home!!!

The long-awaited day finally came, and we picked up our son. It's been the longest year of my life and the most prayed over one. But that won't stop. He now has to get his old life back, and that may take a little while. Who knows what issues are going to pop up as he goes about his daily life?

I'm constantly being amazed at how much our four adult children are being prayed over. I remember when they were very small and we were visiting my Grandma Collins. I had grown weary from the dailiness of my life and made this comment, "I'll be glad when it's just the two of us again and the children are married and settled." She started laughing and I started thinking, "This can't be good. Why is she laughing?"

Then Grandma, in her wisdom and experience, said, "It'll never be like that again, because you'll always keep adding more people to worry over and pray about. First there'll be spouses and then grandchildren."

My shoulders slumped as I realized she was right. I knew that I'd just have to put on my big girl panties and deal with it. Further slumping of shoulders.

Sometimes I think that I can't add one more person or thing to think and pray about, but God knows better. He's bigger than that. add to my oldest daughter who is struggling (and doing very well...much better than I did) with four little boys, my favorite son-in-law (so far) who likes to trade cars and build Legos for sale on E-bay, my next son who just returned from Iraq, the middle son who is looking desperately for a job and direction in life, the youngest son who is finishing up his last semester in college and trying to decide where to go for more schooling, the daughter-in-law who wears many hats while her husband finishes school, and the twelve-year-old daughter who delights in horses and cute boys...add to that a first-time meeting with soldier boy's new girlfriend he met while in Iraq. Lord, help us all!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Inventing Your World

Invent your world. Surround yourself with people, color, sounds, and work that nourish you. Sark

Friday, October 1, 2010

Art for God's Sake-Part 1

Whew! This has been a crazy week. I'm still working on getting the photo exhibition together. It's due Monday. I have one more photo to handtint and several more to finish framing. I have two and a half days left to work. I think I can do it.

Garrett, my soldier in Iraq, is coming back Monday night. We're meeting him at his base and spending the night and next day with him. He can't leave until he takes some classes on how to re-enter the real world and what signs to look for in case he develops post-something-syndrome that soldiers get. I can't remember the name of it right now.

I've just re-read Art for God's Sake by Philip Graham Ryken. It's a great book and a short read. I'm trying to learn to articulate why art matters from a Christian perspective and what art should be and look like. Not all art is good art, but why? I want to be able to answer that question. I come in contact with artists all the time and would like to be able to speak about art from God's perspective.

Here are some passages from the book: "At its best, art is able to satisfy our deep longing for beauty and communicate profound spiritual, intellectual, and emotional truth about the world that God has made for his glory."

This refers to man being made in the image of God. "The characteristic common to God and man is the desire and the ability to make things."

"God wants all of the arts to flourish in all the fullness of their artistic potential, so that we may discover the inherent possibilities of creation and thereby come to a deeper knowledge of our Creator."

John Calvin said, "All the arts come from God and are to be respected as divine inventions."

This quote is talking about the many different art forms available and how we are free to choose, according to our ability, which one(s) we will pursue and how we go about it. "The latitude God gives to the arts, however, does not mean that anything goes. God has high standards for art, as he does for everything else. God's aesthetic standards include goodness, truth, and beauty. And these standards are not relative; they are absolute."

"What constitutes excellence in art is inherent in the art forms themselves, and thus it comes from God as part of his general revelation. The difference between good art and bad art is not something we learn from the Bible, primarily, but from the world that God has made. But what the Bible does tell us is that God knows the difference, and that he has a taste for excellence. To be pleasing to God, art must be true as well as good. Truth has always been one important criterion for art. Art is an incarnation of the truth."

"Art is always an interpretation of reality. The kind of art that glorifies God is good, true, and, finally, beautiful. In a world that has been uglified by sin, the Christian artist shows the plausibility of redemption by producing good work that is true in its beauty."

I don't want this post to be too long so will continue it another day. Point: God does care about art. Many biblical references were given in this book including the case text of Exodus 31, the building of the tabernacle. God handpicked the artists who worked on his tabernacle and gave them the ability to do skillful, excellent work on this very important structure.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Surprise Landing

I was standing on the porch the other day and looked down to admire my Simple shoes. There was this pretty butterfly on my jeans. It stayed there while I went into the house, got my camera, and snapped the pic.

I don't just randomly walk around looking at my cute shoes. I'm usually in flip flops. I was headed to town to look for some boyfriend jeans. I know you've seen them. They're kind of baggy with rolled up cuffs. I looked in several stores to no avail. I went to Goodwill and what did I find? This pair of Ralph Lauren jeans for $5.00. They are exactly what I was looking for. Can't beat that with a stick!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Autumn Equinox

I was just now sitting here reading a few blogs before going to bed, and realized through their writings that today is the first day of autumn. I can't believe I almost missed it!

Today didn't turn out at all like I expected. I spent two hours this morning Skypeing with my son in Iraq, so I didn't get any more work done on my upcoming photo exhibition. That's okay though. I haven't talked to him in ages, so it was good to hear AND see him. What a wonderful invention! I can't believe I waited until a week before he'll be home to get it.

Then early afternoon I got really tired and nauseated and rested the rest of the day. I watched Grey Gardens on the instant play feature on Netflix, another great invention.

I also started reading Green Dolphin Street by Elizabeth Goudge, one of my all-time favorite authors. I've wanted to read it for a long time. I think there's a movie, too.

So before going to bed, I'll sit on the porch swing for a few minutes in the light of an almost full moon and pray that Garrett gets home quickly and safely. After we talked, he e-mailed me and said that there's been a big sandstorm there which has delayed all flights. That means they've all been pushed back a few days. I'll find out tomorrow when he'll get to leave.

And I'll thank God for all my blessings and hope I'm able to go to church in the morning.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Upcoming Photography Exhibit

I took this self-portrait with my camera mounted on a tripod and a timed shutter release. I would depress the button to take the photo, run and get into place, and wait to hear it click. I had it set for sixteen seconds; long enough for me to get into place.

It took about twenty tries before I finally got a good one. I had to make sure the railing wasn't reflecting in the glass. The grass was reflected, but I tilted the photo to where the grass's reflection was where the field was in the photo. In the real photo the foreground isn't green. Clever of me to work out the problem in this way, wasn't it?

The reason for the self-portrait is that I've been asked to be in the main gallery of our local art center for six weeks beginning October 8. The other photographer that was scheduled to do it backed out at the last minute. So they called me. I said, "Yes, of course!"

I'm very excited about being in the main gallery. I have to put together thirty works in two weeks. Fortunately, I have quite a stockpile, so I have half ready to go. The other half has to be enlarged, framed, or handtinted.

"What is handtinting?" you may ask. It's when I take a black and white photograph and paint over it with translucent oil paints. It's ethereal, old-fashioned looking, and very subtle. I'll have about three or four of them in the show. I'll show you one when I finish it.

I'm meeting with my personal photo enlarger dude in the morning to tell him what I want done to the images. And then it's off to Hobby Lobby to buy frames at 50% off. Good timing on their part!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Praying, Scheduling, and Thinking

"To do the work that I am given to do, I am going to need to do some homework. I am going to need to do some thinking and wondering and studying about my gifts and my talents. I am going to need to be sure that what I do with my hands actually comes from and nurtures my heart. I am going to have to examine its effects upon others and how it fits into the kingdom that has already come. And I am going to have to be clear about why I am doing it and my hopes and my dreams.

To have the rest--for my spirit and my mind and my body--that is needed to live a life that does not eat me alive, I am going to have to plan the ways in which I spend my days. I am going to have to make choices about time and attention, and about habits and diets and schedules and such. I am going to have to set aside days on my calendar to go away and be silent, and days to go and listen to those who can show me the Way. I am going to have to learn what Sabbath actually means and how to live it in my life.

To participate in the community of those to whom I have been given and who have been given to me, I am going to have to identify them, identify the ones that truly are the holy communities of which I am a part. I am going to need to be sure that my time and my resources are aimed in their direction. I am going to have to be clear about my role within them.

And if I think that all of this is going to happen without my making a list or two, I am kidding myself." Taken from Living Prayer by Robert Benson

This is why I've been planning and scheduling for about a month now. I love making lists and seeing how to get the optimum results from my day.

I also have a bad habit of not sticking completely to any schedule I've made; not because I've learned to be flexible, but because I'm a rebel at heart. I don't want anyone telling me what to do; even myself. How twisted is that?

I think I've done enough scheduling and thinking. I now need to implement the schedule and cover it with prayer every day. All day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Monday Morning

Give us grace, we pray,
Joyfully to do the things You have given us to do
Knowing that nothing is menial or common
That is done for Your sake.

from THE PROPER for February 27

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Grandma's Letters

If our house was burning and I could rescue three things, this stack of letters would definitely be one of the three.

They were written to me by my maternal grandmother after I left home in 1973. They cover my college years, my marriage and move to California, our move to Georgia, and go through the birth of our second child in 1983.

Grandma was a letter writer. She kept in contact with all of her siblings, her daughter-in-law, her children who lived away, and her grandchildren. She also wrote a few friends, too.

My favorite memory of her is when I would walk into her house and see her sitting in her chair listening to the local radio station with pen and pad in hand writing to some lucky someone. She would smile sweetly, say hello, gaze out the window, and continue writing. It was enough for me to just be with her.

She was the most influential person in my life growing up. She showed me what a godly woman looked like. Her life was simple. She took care of her home and family. She took in strangers and helped out the sick and needy. That's why her letters are so precious to me. I want to be just like her.