Gifts from the Earth: Mystery Solved

Two weeks ago I shared five images altered in Photoshop and left readers with the task of guessing the original images. Everyone who played along thought they were flowers. That’s not surprising, since most of the images I share on the blog are flowers. However, they were wrong, wrong, wrong!

Well…not exactly. In fact, they were more than half right. Three of the five images were indeed flowers or blossoms.

Have you been anxiously awaiting the answer?  🙂 Wait no longer! Here are the images in the order presented in the post:

Flowers in front of the Farmer’s Market on campus. Shot last June. I’m trying to remember why I was on campus in the middle of June. ???

Flying Dragon Trifoliate Orange [Hardy Orange] in the Huntsville Botanical Gardens. I photographed these a couple of summers ago. That reminds me–I still haven’t shared the zillions of photos my son and I shot that very hot summer day. Maybe, you’ll see them in next week’s Wordless Wednesday…

More flowers near the Farmer’s Market. These were “photoshopped,” of course.

A gourd from the Huntsville Botanical Gardens.

Azaleas from my parents’ neighbors’ garden. These beauties were in full bloom in the middle of February.

So yes, flowers AND no, flowers. But all gifts from our beautiful planet.

Still Dews.

“Vetch and Milk Thistle.” Photographer, Art Wolfe.

As I head into the weekend and to Sabbath rest, I am whispering in my spirit the penultimate verse of John Greenleaf Whittier’s poem, “Soma.”

Many recognize the words from the hymn, “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind,” but do not know they come from the longer poem. What they also may not know is that Whittier–seeing it as showy or unnecessarily dramatic–was not a fan of singing in church; he believed that God should be worshipped in silent meditation.

Worshipping God through song is the gift I can always offer [alone and with other worshippers], so I do not agree with Whittier’s stance. However, there is incredible value in quiet contemplation and meditation, so on that point, he gets no argument from me.

May these last two verses from “Soma” usher you into a period of quiet rest, meditation, and contemplation.

from “Soma”
John Greenleaf Whittier

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
Thy beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the hearts of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be numb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm!


About the image: The card above came from Karen B, one of my partners for Love Notes 31. The “Vetch and Milk Thistle” scene–from Cappadocia, Turkey–was shot  by photographer-conservationist Art Wolfe.  A portion of the proceeds of the Pomegranate card supports the Sierra Club’s efforts to preserve and protect our planet.

Why Wait? I Look Good in Purple

We head into the weekend with English poet Jenny Joseph’s 1961 poem, “Warning,” which illustrates what we’d all [?} like to be–free and unhampered by society’s notions of propriety.

Warning
Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

I read somewhere that Joseph, who was 29 when she wrote the poem, never wore purple because she felt she looked terrible in purple. Unlike her, I wear lots of purple and I look good in it! 😀


About the image: When I shared the sunflowers a few days ago, I mentioned that my Love Notes friend, Eileen V, had enclosed a special treat. The image above–a well executed copy of a souvenir cover of the poem–was drawn inside the card! Isn’t it fun?

Letter from Lu! | Snail Mail Quick Tip

Squeals!!!

I received a “letter” from my little great-niece Lu [my niece Tiffany’s daughter]. Isn’t it adorable? I know you don’t understand the special language she used to write her letter, but trust me. It is full of ❤ for her favorite [great] aunt–me, of course! She even used my favorite colors!!!

Thank you for sharing your spectacular work, Lu!

Lu is the adorable baby in this post and this post. She’s now a whole two years old, grown enough to make art and send mail!

We’ll be spending a lot of time indoors over the next few weeks, and kids will probably be making art almost daily–drawings, sketches, paintings, crafts, and more. If you’re like me, you already have an entire museum of your kid’s art in albums, on the walls, in piles on your desk, and in a sealed bin beneath the art table. 😀  Do you really want the task of finding ways to display or store weeks more of artwork?

Of course not!

Lu’s special letter prompted me to offer another snail mail quick tip: Art in the mail!

Sending art mail is a cute way to dispose of  share some of the precious art your kids make. Simply place those one-of-a-kind masterpieces in an envelope and send them to grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, friends, and/or the kind senior citizen who has a soft spot for your family. This will not only let them know you’re thinking about them but will also provide a bit of  sunshine while we’re all sort of “stuck.”

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I send and receive a lot of art mail. So–even if you don’t have children, you can send your own art.

It is so easy, but yields so much joy!

International Women’s Day | Keep Showing Up

You might have heard about Aleta, my amazing bestie, in earlier posts. Well, she once again sent me a fierce, woman-empowering package. This one for my birthday (in October)–which her hubby delivered to me early December when he visited.

Three of the items rest in “my happy place.” One of the items has a quote on the front that I am compelled to share today:

There are women who make things better…simply by showing up. There are women of wit and wisdom who–through strength and courage–make it through. There are women who change the world every day…women like you.  –Ashley Rice

In your search for whatever it is you’re searching for, remember there is greatness in you. Through the ordinary of your every day, you do amazing things. Keep showing up. Keep showing out. Chin up, shoulders back to tackle the daily grind, the little things you do that make a world of difference in a life or two or maybe 100.

Happy International Women’s Day!

All Wrapped Up in Joy

I woke up this morning with all the “things to do” on my mind and all the uninvited annoyances that entered my sphere days earlier nagging my heart. Before jumping out of bed in a frenzied rush–15 minutes later than I’d intended and an hour later than I should have–I paused and convinced myself to spend my usual first moments of the day in meditation.

I thought about my blogging friend Rev Russ’s query in his post “It’s All Hard”: Is life hard or have we become wimps [not exactly his words]?

I mused for a moment about just how difficult it can be to navigate all the “stuff” that comes our way from day to day, just how hard it is to push past the everyday slights and disappointments, how hard it is to [always?] act and speak with prudence, how hard it is to accept [not tolerate] difficult people, how hard it is to forgive repeat offenders, how hard it is to love ourselves, flaws and all.

The thought of it all made rising from bed a bit challenging, so I asked God, “How can I face the day when I wake up bone-tired? Weary?”

He immediately answered with three doses of His Word, so I wrote them in my journal and determined to let them direct my day.

When things were said or done that had the potential to unsettle me–A person whose desires rest on You, You preserve in perfect peace because [she] trusts in You (Isaiah 26:3).

When a sense of my very present vulnerabilities threatened to overthrow me–My grace is enough for you, for My power is brought to perfection in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). 

When I felt like the tasks were unmanageable, too much, impossible–I can do all things through Him who gives me power (Philippians 4:13). 

Despite the disappointments, the distractions, the conflicting personalities, the tedious work, the “must get done” list, my step was a little lighter today; my mind at ease; my spirit unencumbered.

As I wrote the last scripture in my journal this morning and click-closed the pen, God whispered one more word into my heart–The joy of the Adonai is [my] strength (Nehemiah 8:10). The peace, the grace, the power–all wrapped up in His joy.


Forgive me for the wordy #WordlessWednesday. The image above is an edit of a fallen hyacinth flower. I visited my family in New Orleans last weekend, and the gorgeous and über aromatic hyacinth plant stole the show in my mother’s garden.

All scripture from the Complete Jewish Bible (CJB).

Let’s Be Teddy Bears

It’s Monday. It’s raining. Midterm grades are due. I still have two sets of papers to grade, so I’m dropping in for a few seconds to share the über cute bear card my swap-bot friend Beth B. sent. She found the teddy bear stamp–words and all–at a yard sale. She thought of me immediately, so she couldn’t pass it up. As you can see the bear is “wearing” my favorite color. Beth also enclosed some “uncolored” stamps for my use (yay!), and I plan to experiment with them this week.

If you don’t have any other plans…

Let’s be Teddy Bears in our next life…Everybody loves ’em. Nobody cares if they’re fat & the older they get, the more they’re worth!

Have a warm and fuzzy week!

Today…

Today marks one year since my sister Lori’s passing, so I punched purple tulips in her honor.

Today, my sorrow over [both] my sisters is tangled up with grief over the loss of my favorite uncle, who ministered so ably and lovingly when we lost Karlette and Lori. He passed away two days ago.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to put into words all the things my uncle was and is to me.

Today, I sat in front of my window–journal and pen in hand–and desperately willed the words to come. They refused. Usually my readiest companions through the most challenging moments, lately, they have failed me time and time again.

So today, I punched purple tulips in honor of my sister.

“It Is the Rain That Calms Me” | #WordlessWednesday

“Purple Hibiscus Unfolding”

“The Things That Consume Me”
Zubair Ahsan

It is the fire that consumes me;
It is an inexplicable love,

It is the rain that calms me;
It is a melody from above.

It is the wind that humbles me;
It is everywhere and nowhere,

It is the sand that fuels me;
It is the artistry of nature.

I’m consumed by what I am,
I’m calmed by a riotous noise,

I’m humbled through arrogance,
I’m fueled by what is in poise.

I’ve much cherished the mystifying,
I’ve heard the unreal symphonies,

I’ve been moved by the inevitable,
And I’ve hailed the epiphanies.

Finding Color with the Tiny One

“The Little Explorer”

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. –Oscar Wilde

The Southern magnolias are blooming and spring is breathing her last. Last week when we visited my cousin and her family, her daughter who is four, noticed me photographing the magnolias and the tiny purple flowers near the front door and made it her job to find all the remnants of color and flowers left in the garden.

So while the guys looked over a “fixer-upper” vintage Corvette, we searched for all the bits of color still hanging on in the garden. [Click images for a closer look].

We found pink in “once roses.”

 

Purple, always camera-ready.

 

Almost-missed yellow hiding out in all the green.

 

White hydrangeas hiding in the shade of trees in the front garden. And my favorite “unloved” flower, dandelions, in the back.

 

Green, of course–new holly berries and lettuce, one of the many leafy greens growing in their back garden.

 

Purplish/blue hydrangeas hiding against the back fence. [They look purplish here, but they really were more bluish “in real life.”]

And more purple from the lamb’s ears plant that I’m sure was some small animal’s feast.

We found a tiny green heart-shaped leaf.

And lots of colorful flowers on the little explorer’s skirt.

These photos aren’t so great. In our search for color, I simply followed directives. The tiny one was a taskmaster, so there was little time for composition and focus.

Just as we had exhausted color in the front yard, their neighbor’s dogs came charging at us full speed and barking ferociously. That was my favorite part of our adventure. Not! I stood shock-still in terror while the tiny one stood chatting away, oblivious to the danger the dogs posed.

It’s amazing how quickly things change. Just weeks ago their gardens–front and back–were exploding with color. I missed the hydrangeas and roses in full bloom, but I managed to capture the Japanese magnolias and apple blossoms.  I have yet to post the apple blossoms on the blog, but if you missed their gorgeous magnolia, click the link and take a look. They’re certainly a treat for the eyes and soul.

Wishing you a weekend full of color and light…