Moon Shadows and Silhouettes

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“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”  ~ Hilary Cooper

On a recent trip to the Smoky Mountains my husband woke me from a deep sleep to come look out the window. Both of us being somewhat “moon-chaser’s”, we are always dragging each other to the window when there’s a particularly eye-catching one. No matter how tired, neither of us can usually resist the urge to look.

“You might not want to miss that big yellow moon out there,” he tempted me. I sleepily thought to myself, Oh, stop–not tonight! I’m waaayyy too tired to drag the camera and tripod out. I’ll just get up and watch a minute and then drop back in the bed. And so I did. I peered out the window and he was right. I did not want to miss this. But, no pictures tonight. So I watched.

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But not for long.

Unsure if my brain could even function with settings, I quickly grabbed everything and headed out to the balcony. There before me against a silhouette backdrop of mountains, the yellow deepened. Hmmm … Suddenly I woke up! And “click, click, click” away I went. Then, to my sudden surprise, it turned a brilliant orange! As I clicked away for a few minutes another phenomenon happened.

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It turned deep RED!  Then, guess who was dragging the husband back out of bed! Mind you, this took place in a span of only twenty minutes.

It hung there for a just few minutes before the earth’s rotation took it behind the mountains. As I dropped back to bed, I thought to myself, Oh, that was so worth it! Even if I don’t get a good photo it was so amazing! As you can see, I managed a few and each captures the color as it progressed.  It was one of those that felt so close you could touch it!

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But you know what really made this for me? This is the second red moon I’ve seen this year. I saw the real “blood moon” back in February. No, I did not stay up and plan. I was on my usual commute to work and as I made my way over a big hill on our country road, it stole my breath at 5 am. I pulled over for about a minute with my phone.

It’s certainly not a technical masterpiece, but I think the color says it all!

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But with the most recent, what if I hadn’t taken the time? What if I dismissed it as “just another moon” and stayed in bed? Sometimes God has these little surprises for me and I miss them because I’m waiting for some “big thing”.

Isn’t that how life is? Aren’t we usually striving and looking for such big moments that we end up missing the momentary, smaller glories right in our midst? And mine are usually right in my backyard.

Sometimes I just need to keep my eyes open.

Peace,
Alexandria

Summer Love Summer

1-IMG_2880 Summer: Welcome Is Still the Word

“Then followed that beautiful season …. Summer … Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light; and the landscape lay as if new, created in all the freshness of childhood.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Summer Lovin”, where we share favorite photos of what we love about summer–that wonderful break from a hectic year. Here are some of mine.

Summer Love: Beach!

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“A simple life is good with me. I don’t need a whole lot. For me, a T-shirt, a pair of shorts, barefoot on a beach and I’m happy.” ~Yanni

Summer seems to carry a certain rhythm, doesn’t it?  Here’s how mine goes: June jumps me in quick—no problem! July sets the pace. And August slows me down to linger a bit. But I just love it all.

Summer Love: Grill!

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“I love the culture of grilling. It creates an atmosphere that is festive but casual.” ~ Bobby Flay

Yes, there is still the day job, housework, tending the yard and flowers. But there’s also time for friends and family, vacations, and those luscious outdoor holidays. And best of all, no school schedule for my grandson—yes!

Summer Love: Pool Time!

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“The water is your friend.  You don’t have to fight with water,  just share the same spirit as the water, and it will help you move.”  ~Aleksandr Popov

Here’s just a few more things I love about summer.

Summer Love: Front Porch Time with Me and “Fern” (Yes, You are Welcome to Join Us!)

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 “The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a summer porch with, never say a word, then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation that you ever had.” ~ Unknown

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“Friends in your life are like the pillars on your front porch. Sometimes they hold you up and sometimes they lean on you. Sometimes it’s just enough to know they are standing by.” ~ Unknown

Summer Love: Lazy….(i.e. best known as “Rest”!)

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“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”  ~ John Lubbock

Summer Love: Flowers!

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“I have lived pain, and my life can tell: I only deepen the wound of the world when I neglect to give thanks for the heavy perfume of wild roses in early June and the song of crickets on summer humid nights and the rivers that run and the stars that rise and the rain that falls and all the good things that God gives.” ~ Ann VosKamp

And last, but not least, my favorite quote of all:

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“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” ~ Sam Keen

Yes, I’m finding some respectability for myself this summer! Come, let us be lazy together. :-)
Peace, Alexandria


Does your summer have a certain rhythm? Can you find a theme for each month? Feel free to share in the comments. I’d love to hear!

Happy Birthday, USA. It’s Time to Shine!

1-10259236_10153515755787925_696162760111206077_o“Fireworks had for her a direct and magical appeal.  Their attraction was more complex than that of any other form of art.

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They had pattern and sequence, colour and sound, brilliance and mobility; they had suspense, surprise, and a faint hint of danger;

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above all, they had the supreme quality of transience, which puts the keenest edge on beauty and makes it touch some spring in the heart which more enduring excellences cannot reach.” ― Jan StrutherMrs. Miniver

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Yep, that quote would be me. Next to Christmas, the Fourth of July is my absolute favorite holiday. First of all, I love fireworks. Period. But I also love the way it draws my nation together. We have a complex history and a lot of problems, yes. But there is and there never has been a country like ours. Most of us learn and grow from our nation’s mistakes. Though very diverse, there is one thing of which we are in solid agreement: America is great.

If you’ve never visited you won’t understand. And if you live and grew up here, it’s so easy to take for granted. Think about it. In the history of nations, never has a country had freedom and prosperity like ours. Never has a country cared for the world like ours. Never has there been an economy like ours.

I don’t blame anyone for leaving their country of origin to come here. Many go through great peril and cost to do that. As a citizen, I just ask a few things. Please follow our laws and do whatever is necessary to become a citizen. Be honest. Work hard. And learn our history. Take a Civics class to learn how our government works. Be educated on our current events.

Don’t believe everything you read in the media. Investigate the facts. In other words, become a well-informed citizen and think for yourself. Don’t let anyone “spoon-feed” you. America will offer you and your children the best life they could ever have. And don’t ever take that for granted. I don’t know any American that does not welcome you if you do this.

Now, onto the fireworks! I cannot close without drawing attention to these photographs posted on Dan Pope’s Facebook page.  He is a real top-notch photographer and friend of our family and I’ve featured him before. His link is on my sidebar. Dan is a fireworks nut like me. He captured these Friday night. And of all things, he caught this last one with a train rolling through. Nicely done, Dan!

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In closing, I’m posting this link to a  video of the Katy Perry song “Firework”, still an all-time favorite of mine on our Fourth of July. I think the words capture the human spirit quite well.

Shine everyday because–baby, you’re a firework!

Reckless Reclamation

Chalk Talk

“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Doesn’t it seem children have an insatiable desire to create? And don’t they provide continual delight with constant surprises of that creative urge? I can’t think of a better way to adorn a porch than with chalk.

Art in a Box
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” ~ 
Pablo Picasso

We smile and laugh. We are captivated. Enchanted.

But deep within lies a simultaneous lament, an angst that pains the delight. We look bare-faced at ourselves and realize we don’t do art like children do. We don’t dream like that. The gradual progression of life pushed and pushed, and the weight of the world gradually nudged out the child. And the dreams? Well, they drowned in the cares of life, swirled in a whirlpool down the drain.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ~ Thomas Merton

Creativity was meant to feed our dreams throughout life, from childhood to old age. To create an idea, to create vision, then to sing, to draw, to write, paint, build … heal. Yes, to heal. For heaven’s sake, is it not the function and privilege of art to nourish our souls, to rekindle a chord of tenderness in our heart, to keep us dreaming? To keep a continual cycle of dreaming, creating, healing.  To keep us … intact.

“The first demand any work of art makes upon us is surrender. Look. Listen. Receive. ~ C.S. Lewis

Children are risky and lavish as they create. They are not gripped with insecurity, fear, or hesitation that bounds we adults. Why are we?

A great-grandpa that knows how to stay a child and builds something delightful.

“Creativity takes courage.” ~ Henri Matisse

Should we not reclaim the artist within? As grown-ups isn’t it strange how we must be intentional this time because we have lost our natural inclination to do so? It seems the art of creating and reclaiming our childlike wonder has now become an art in and of itself. An almost lost art. Think of how we “pencil it in our schedule”. But it is so worth the effort, no matter how small.

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” ~ Pablo Picasso

After all, our Creator has the same insatiable desire. Look at the intricate beauty He presents to us everyday, everywhere—the art of heaven. We do well to imitate Him. And chalk is a great place to start. :-)
Peace, Alexandria

Dances with Daffodils

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“Awake, thou wintry earth
Fling off thy sadness!

Opening Numbers

Fair vernal flowers,
laugh forth Your ancient gladness!” ~ Thomas Blackburn

Within

“O Love-star of the unbeloved March,
When cold and shrill,

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Forth flows beneath a low, dim-lighted arch
The wind that beats sharp crag and barren hill,

Best Friends Forever

And keeps unfilmed the lately torpid rill!” ~ Sir Aubrey de Vere Quotes, Ode to the Daffodil

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“Friendship is a shiny thing, a steady beam of light
A lantern on a lonely street, a song far in the night

Singular Beauty

A smile,  a touch of loving hand,
a quiet moment on a hill
And, oh, what a happy little child bringing home a daffodil.” ~ Unknown

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“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,

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 And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”  ~ A.A. Milne

Happy

Like many this year, the street views outside my window have been winter barren in the most extreme sense of the word. The branches of my beautiful trees faced me everyday, some days covered with ice, some with snow, days filled with grey. And just when I thought they’d faced the worst, there came more. Storm after storm after storm.

My trees wear beauty in any season, any weather. But this winter, one of the worst ever, tested them. I’d peek out the window everyday and my stately trees stood staring, branches outstretched, as if to say, “When is enough? How long? This seems never-ending.” And me, warm inside, unable to soothe, joined their song of longing. It seemed to linger forever. They bore the stark beauty of winter proud. And we waited as one. Drawn in, still, preparing for the day of green. And then the day came.

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Cold, frozen ground gave way to green, gave way to buds, gave way to these yellow lovelies pushing through, popping up out of the ground.

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Yes, the days remained cold and windy and gray, but one day the sun shone bright. And I could no longer contain myself. Leaving a sink full of dishes, the rays irresistible, I ran out and joined all of them. I threw a blanket on that frigid ground and got under them, over them, and around them in a contortion of child’s play, smiling and laughing among a sea of yellow dancing. And hmmm … was that birdsong I hear? Ahhh … just a little more time, my friends, and we’ll be dancing with the sun on our back and spring in our step!

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“Daffodils that come before the swallow dares, and take the winds of March with beauty … ” ~ William Shakespeare

This is but one view of  life on my street. On the last post I promised you daffodils. As you can see, I kept that promise! I hope you enjoy. :-)

Happy Spring! Alexandria

{Photos taken with Nikon D60 with Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 55-200mm lens, in RAW mode. If you want any metadata you’ll have to contact me. Thought if you clicked on the photos you it might be there, but not so. I recently took another photography class and this is the first roll-out of photos using full manual mode and applying some of the new techniques. As per usual, there is very minimal, if any, post-processing–nary a crop except the first one. Most are completely untouched. What do you think?}

Other street views I enjoyed:
My Cyber House Rules
Beyond the Brush
Thoughts and Entanglements
Blogagaini
Depth of Feelings
Life in the Foothills
Find Later Photography

 

Me, My Selfie, and Someone Else

Me

When I first heard “selfie” was the Oxford Dictionary’s “Word of the Year” for 2013, it struck me as odd. I remember first hearing the word from my tween grand-niece. I grinned and shook my head. Young, beautiful, fit, self-absorbed. Yep, no surprise there. Typical tween.

But the word for the Weekly Photo Challenge? Really? Isn’t selfie reserved for the above? The last thing I want is my façade out there for the world to see! Family and friends is one thing. But the great big internet world? No way!

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You see, I am a grandmother. And has it escaped anyone’s notice the whole-hearted near-absence of grandmother selfies? Think about it. Can you really imagine a group of grandmothers taking selfies and plastering them all over the Internet?

I think it’s partly because we’re a bit more private. But let’s face it. Since most of us do not fit the above adjectives, we remain nearly absent on this self-portraiture that has taken the world by storm. (For heaven’s sake, even world leaders take selfies!)

But, the reality is the young are photogenic and few of us are. At least on the outside we are not. But please understand, we are totally okay with that. Though absent in the selfie realm, trust me—we are not absent.

We are most present. And extremely so.

And Someone Else

Perhaps, more so.

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“To get the full value of joy you must find someone to divide it with.” ~ Mark Twain


Related article:

The Christian Pundit: What a Christian Woman Knows About Beauty

 

Fleeting Objects of Affection

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Sunsets, like childhood, are viewed with wonder not just because they are beautiful but because they are fleeting. ~ Unknown

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 If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older. ~Tom Stoppard

 Did you know that childhood is the only time in our lives when insanity is not only permitted to us, but expected?  ~Louis de Bernières, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

Canon EOS5D Mark iii Focal length 31 F number 5.6 Exposure time 1/200

Childhood is measured out by sounds and smells and sights, before the dark hour of reason grows.  ~John Betjeman, Summoned by Bells

For this set of photos I invited my dear “like-a-daughter”, Emily Morgan, to share some photos of her children. I’ve known Emily since she was a baby. Her mother is one of my closest friends since college and we spent a good portion of life raising kids together.

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Emily blossomed into a loving mother of four adorable children (ages 6 and under!). She is also a talented photographer. She and husband, Andrew, have settled in Los Angeles, where Emily frequents the Pacific beach with these sweet little ones.

The beautiful photos above, captured in silhouette, drew my attention because they capture those fleeting moments of childhood. I’ll let Emily explain it in her own words.

“Hearing waves crash and children laugh are two of the best sounds in the world. The moment when your 6 year-old and the sunset collide and you happen to have your camera handy and are able to capture that fleeting moment to hold onto forever is truly special. The way I feel behind the lens of camera brings me to life, but the better gift is being able to hold onto that moment forever in a photograph.” ~ Emily Morgan

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I am convinced that God gave childhood, not as moments forgotten or pined for, but to recapture it in our adult years, much as a photograph captures. So we would not forget to live each day with childhood eyes and wonder, to view every moment with passion and exuberance.

But what happened as we grew out of those wonder years? As adulthood seeped in, it gradually pushed out that wonder and we became grown-ups. Pushed by life and all it’s demands, the wonder nudged back and for some it fell off into the throes of deadly cynicism.

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We could never have loved the earth so well if we had had no childhood in it. ~George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss, 1860
Maybe we can’t banter about as children every living moment of the day but can we not view each day with a semblance of wonder? And spend at least some moments of the day smiling, laughing, running, playing, even dancing?

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With what eyes do you see the ocean above? Are they hardened by life’s demands, unable to drink its beauty … old? Can you not see this vast ocean is but one landscape to keep you young and filled with wonder? To heal you of the cynicism, which robs you of life itself.

Let the waters spray you with healing. Climb those rocks and perch up there. Listen to the words of Emily and let yourself collide with the sunset. After all, it hasn’t moved.

But perhaps you have.

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Experience the healing wonder of childhood … everyday.

Peace, Alexandria
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After a hiatus of bearing these four little ones, Emily is resuming her photography. I invite you to view her  portfolio at www.emilymorgan.la
This is in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the Theme “Object”. The ocean is the landscape and the silhouettes of children are the objects. True objects of affection. :-)


Welcome is My Word|Beginnings

Welcome“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

“One Word That Will Change Your Life”
The book title sparked my curiosity. One word? Really? The book’s been around awhile and I have to say, I like this idea. Instead of lofty New Year’s resolutions, it holds to a one-word theme for the year. Smaller actions center around that word. The smaller acts compound throughout the year, where the meaning of the word takes root and becomes the impetus for real, long-lasting change.

One word. So simple. And I love anything simple. The author recommends using the entire month of December to choose a word. Mine surfaced immediately.

Welcome.

It was certainly different from some of the other suggested words like joy, health, and patience. But I really liked it. I knew it was mine. And as I thought about it, I realized it was a pretty hefty word. In fact, I started to visualize other words like spokes on a wheel hub. Words like hospitality, cooking, decorating, and gardening. Such fun! I’m liking this! I envisioned thumbing through magazines filled with luscious gardens and yummy recipes. But other ideas surfaced, too. And that’s where it got hard.

Words like housework, unexpected dinner or overnight guests, digging in hard clay dirt, keeping the kitchen and great room cleared of surface clutter, keeping bathrooms presentable. Then there’s my love-hate relationship with the screened-in porch. Ugh! Those cobwebs and outdoor dust cling with a vengeance. And how can I forget the spare bedroom—that extra “space” meant to be space for overnight guests? Sometimes instead of a spare bedroom it turns into a spare-parts room, filled with assorted what-nots that have no particular space yet.

Not that I am a clean-freak, (am I?) But I do find myself filled with excuses for a lack of invitation to anyone outside my grown children and grandchildren because of one simple word–ready. I am not ready, or at least I think I’m not. Well, in my mind it’s more like not ready enough.

But another excuse really gnaws at me–invitation. I do not  invite in an intentional way like I used to. Oh, I’ll throw out a “just drop in whenever”. But “whenever” turns into “never”, which never becomes “when”. Yes, the kids drop by on a continuum, but that even lends to another excuse. “My cup is full and there is no more room.”

Welcome Closer

But there is room. If I make room. You see, welcome is not just for others. It’s for me. And it’s good for me. It’s good for me to reach outside myself and into the world of someone else. To provide a comfy room for weary travelers. Have the neighbors over for dinner. Extend a listening ear. I can get so self-centered and forget that the blessing of my home was not meant just for me and my family. It was meant for others, for the world. I may not change the world, but my welcome may touch a life that will. “Welcome” speaks love and love is not love til it’s given away. May I live generous.

I am ready!

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”~ Maya Angelou
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This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Beginnings”.  Also, I’m wondering if you noticed the ferns at Christmas? It just happened to be a warm stretch so they got to come outside. Why not? :-)
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My favorite “manuals” to stay welcome-ready. Time to pick them up again!
Once-A-Month Cooking by Mimi Wilson and Mary Beth Lagerborg
Dwelling: Making the Most of the Space You Call Home by Mary Beth Lagerborg

The Lesser Light|One Favorite Subject

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“And the sun and the moon sometimes argue over who will tuck me in at night. If you think I am having more fun than anyone on this planet, you are absolutely correct.” ~ Hafez

The theme of the Weekly Photo Challenge is “One”, in which we are to focus on one subject. I chose one of my favorites, the ever elusive moon. In photography light is everything and for outdoor photography the light source is usually the sun. We look for certain times of day, angles, cloud cover, or clear. And the sun takes it from there. In fact, when you combine the best of these factors the sun really does all the work for you. Think sunsets and sunrise, the Golden Hour. An endless array of colors provide astounding results. No skills needed.

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“The moon is friend for the lonesome to talk to.” ~ Carl Sandburg

But the moon is a different challenge altogether. For a great moon shot you have to really work at it. Photographers go through great lengths to capture the immediate presence and stunning glow the moon provides. Even then it is hard to capture the emotion of moment. You just have to “be there” and experience it for yourself.

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“The moon is a loyal companion. It never leaves. It’s always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it’s a different version of itself. Sometimes weak and wan, sometimes strong and full of light. The moon understands what it means to be human. Uncertain. Alone. Cratered by imperfections.” ~ Tahereh Mafi, Shatter Me

In the Bible the moon is called the “lesser light” (Genesis 1:16). It is too dim for cameras to mimic exactness, but for the human eye it holds not just brilliant beauty but deep, deep emotion. For some unexplainable reason the moon feels like a faithful friend. It provokes us to stop, quiet our busy minds, take a few deeps breaths and just relax. I don’t know of anyone that can gaze at a brilliant moonlit night and not feel a simultaneous sense of glory and comfort.

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Tell me what you feel in your room when the full moon is shining in upon you and your lamp is dying out, and I will tell you how old you are, and I shall know if you are happy. ~ Henri Frederic Amiel

Perhaps it is the lesser light because of this very thing. We need a constant, unchanging reminder that we are not alone, that there is greatness and majesty tucked in our universe. A reminder of the presence of God through every dark night. And that is this lesser light.

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The lesser light may take second place to the other grand luminary. But perhaps it is this very notion that makes it so human. And in this sense we see that our great God, by giving less, actually gave more.

Peace, Alexandria

N “But even when the moon looks like it’s waning…it’s actually never changing shape. Don’t ever forget that.” ~ Ai Yazawa

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Related Articles:
Wenjie Zhang of LightSlant on how to photograph the moon
Weekly Photo Challenge: The Power of One, Travels and Trifles by Tina Schell
Clicky Chick Creates, Christmas Favorites

November Thoughts | One Last Bling

DSC_1266“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.” ~ Jim Bishop

DSC_1018November is the month of my birthday. Which means it’s the time of year I purchase some special things I’ve wished for throughout the year. I usually add a few pieces to my wardrobe, buy a few kitchen gadgets, sometimes add a new piece of jewelry. Overall, it’s my month to do (or not do :-)) and get something special.

DSC_1193I know this sounds crazy but this year I purchased some very sturdy scaffolding. We are do-it-yourselfers and those extension ladders make me dizzy. 

DSC_1036-001Plus, I needed some peace of mind. I am tired of holding my breath and nearly passing out when my husband or son-in-law climb to clean or paint the upper level of our home.

DSC_1192I know. A strange purchase. It was expensive and kind of blew my birthday budget but it’s truly what I wanted.  

DSC_1179However, I still managed to secure some bling—but not the jewelry kind.

November BlingAs autumn progresses in my part of the world, November emerges as the month of gold. It’s the bling I wish and wait for all year-long. It’s as if the trees wish me a big, happy birthday. The celebration goes on as they glitter and glimmer the whole month. It’s a nice, warm welcome to another year of life.

imageSo I’d like to say thank you to my lovely tree friends for all the abundant bling. I feel dressed to the nines another year and now I’m ready to face winter.

DSC_1204November is truly a great month for a birthday.
;-)
Alexandria

P.S. I would be remiss if I did not recognize two other “friends” who said good-bye this month. The last hydrangea and yellow rose. Thank you so much for lending your beauty one last time. See you next year!

“In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus
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I enjoyed the November Bling at these places, too. Thought I’d share.
http://streetsofasheville.com/2013/11/30/novembers-last-days/
http://letsgolescophotos.com/2013/12/01/wrapping-up-30-days-of-so-much-thanks/
http://haikugesundheit.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/haiku-93-end-of-november-nablopomo-30/
http://johntharding.me/2013/11/26/photo-of-the-day-autumn-dazzler/
http://digger666.com/2013/11/22/leaves-of-summer-past/
http://digger666.com/2013/11/19/hidden-in-autumn-leaves-by-takk-b/
http://thesirenstale.com/2013/11/17/the-years-last-loveliest-smile/
http://kittnoir.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/sunset-on-autumn-gold/
Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light

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