November, Gold at its Finest

DSC_1036-001 November.

image That golden month.
Shimmery, glittery,

1-image29-e1417103368582Dripping Gold.

imageGold waves flutter against azure sky.

imageSun shatters, splits, scatters light.

imageBlinding good.
Hmmm. And people think real treasure is found in golden coins.

imageThink again!

imageGold‚ÄĒStrong. Malleable. Resilient. Unchanging.
Constant.
Coins and jewelry buried for years, centuries, remain intact. Truth be told, we don’t know how much gold the earth has.

imageIt used to be the standard of finance. No more as we print a non-existent value. Fool’s gold. But November still governs by the gold standard.
Of that, there is no doubt.

Heavenly WalkIt’s said in Heaven we walk on it. November gold holds but a glimpse.

imageOh, and another thing. If you’re into those golden years, smile.

imageNovember wears gold quite well.
So should you! ūüôā

imageAnd one last thing. On cloudy days I notice the gold is more brilliant against the stark, grey sky. It seems I’m surrounded by gold, gold, and more gold.

imageGold everywhere!

So on the cloudy days of life, take heart. Like fire refines to gain pure gold, so you can stand more brilliant against those hovering clouds.
Just like November.

imageSeems I take more pictures in November more than any other time. I’m up runnin’ out early to catch the rays. And with holidays in full swing, how fitting The Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “yellow”. They did that on purpose to contrast the reds and greens of Christmas. For me it’s perfectly fitting as I wasn’t ready to let go of my November gold quite yet!

If you’re all snuggled in from the cold temperatures, how about I bring the “gold” from around “these thar hills” to you!

1-DSC_1042And so I present to you, November gold. The year’s finest achievement. Worthy of honor and distinction. Most valuable of all.

EnJoy!
Alexandria


All photos by yours truly, except the third. I introduce to you, Joshua Burgard, of Shadow Rest Ministries, who took this stunning shot of unexpected snow in early November. For more of Josh’s lovely shots, check out the Shadow Rest Facebook Page.


Other “yellow” posts I liked:
JPicks
Variety of Light
Love in the Spaces, Yellow Light
Still Life with Rubber Gloves

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Summer’s Last Stand

Glistening October So it’s October.

GlistenCrisp temperature’s, rust-tinged leaves.

Green BackgroundTime to finally bid summer goodbye.

SpindlyThe flowers, spindly and spent, yawn into a stretch,

1-DSC_0190“Can we finally stop? Isn’t is time for bed???”

Stretch“Sure, summer. Autumn’s arrived. Yep, I think it’s time to call it a day (season).
Goodnight, dear summer. Sleep tight.”

Yet, I was wrong as wrong could be,
As another stretched high her neck, towering above all.

I'm Still HereAnd, what next???

BlinkAnother blinked open her eyes!

GreetingsThen another … and another … and another!
Hmm … you remind me of someone I once knew, way back in time, known as “spring”.
But isn’t it autumn? You’re not supposed to do that!”

Of course, I said it with a wink and a grin. ūüôā

1-DSC_0100“But what is all of this! Why all this!” I still wondered.

Tossing their woolly heads, they mocked, “Why, why, why all these questions!”
With a wink and a grin, of course. ūüôā

So I, expecting more-of-the-same dearest autumn‚Äďmy usual neat, tidy, predictable rows of life‚ÄďI let go of¬†more-of-the-same, and blink my eyes open to the unexpected.

Staring right back at me.

dsc_0107I feel outsmarted, laid bare in my ignorance. I thought I knew the next chapter‚Äďautumn. After all, it’s October! ¬†The calendar says it is autumn, well past September twenty-first it is!

It is autumn!

But it’s never the same, is it? Something is always different.

Rust-TingeNothing ever stays the same, but nothing ever arrives the same either. Every season has the final say and knows exactly when to shut their door and lie down in sleep.

Who am I to order, predict, and explain?

As visitors hearken my harvest-laden porch,

imagethey cannot miss it.

dsc_0046And I hope they can appreciate that as much I tried to make autumn happen,

dsc_0057some things are just completely out of my control.

dsc_0119As is much of life.

But sometimes the unexpected is when joy shows its loveliest face.

Peace,
Alexandria

On Top of the World!

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‚ÄúAn adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.‚ÄĚ ¬†~¬†G.K. Chesterton

Perched on the balcony I watched all day long. In the morning the boat arrived. The crew worked in a methodical manner to ready the day and after some time the gigantic rainbow sail would finally hoist. Then¬†back and forth across¬†clear blue ocean, sunlight glistening, they’d fly. A beautiful sight. Exhilarating. Peaceful.

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Determined to get away for a few days, our plan was to¬†do nothing … sit on the balcony, stare at the sea, sleep, maybe read. So I lazily sat, sipping coffee, and enjoyed the view. ¬†I brought the camera yet had no great ambition. But I couldn’t resist a few captures of the sight before me.

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Why not hone my telephoto skills a bit? They were a good distance and since doing nothing was pretty much the goal, I had nothing better to do. Zooming in, however, my interest piqued as I watched. I was taken aback at the skill and finesse of the crew, the size of the sail and cables, then how easy they make it look!

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“Flying without feathers is not easy; my wings have no feathers.” ¬†~Titus Maccius Plautus

I couldn’t help notice¬†the¬†grace with which they¬†lifted off, one, two, three at a time. So rhythmic as the sail climbed higher, and higher. So high. Until …

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they were walking on top of the world!

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So the next day I handed the telephoto to my husband. Out the door I scrammed, leaving him a few instructions and Auto Mode. ūüôā

Next thing I know …

1-1-DSC_0661-001“The air up there in the clouds is very pure and fine, bracing and delicious.¬† And why shouldn’t it be? – it is the same the angels breathe.” ~Mark Twain

I’m not only on top of the world.

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“I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.” ¬†~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I think I went higher!

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‚ÄúThe purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Eleanor Roosevelt

So much for doing NOTHING!

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When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.  ~Leonardo Da Vinci 


Many “mahalo’s” to Randy, Mark, and the crew at Aloha Watersports in Cherry Grove, North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. They are an excellent parasailing crew, also offering banana boat rides, bicycle rental, and surf-related sports. You cannot find a better bunch of folks. Hospitality and professionalism all wrapped up into one. For a regular dose of beach photos and fun click¬†here for their Facebook page. If you’re vacationing or in the area, give them a call! (843) 249-9908. You’ll be glad you did.

As you can see, I’m hooked! I suppose you could call it “love at first flight”. ūüôā

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Randy with some young visitors.

1-148666_543429229096919_4779159421620850208_nCaptain Mark giving another beautiful ride.


Other adventure posts I liked:

ThreadsandTies
Far Out in Africa 3-2-1 Bungee!!
Invisible Horse

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‚Äďnot 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‚Äďthat 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‚ÄĒno 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‚ÄĒyes!

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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¬†‚ÄúThe 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.‚ÄĚ ~ Unknown

The Pillar 2871

“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. ūüôā
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.‚ÄĚ ‚Äē 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‚Äďbaby, 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
‚ÄúEvery child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.‚ÄĚ ~¬†
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‚ÄĒthe art¬†of heaven. We do well to imitate Him. And¬†chalk is a great place to start. ūüôā
Peace, Alexandria

EverSpring

The Vernal

“Everything is blooming most recklessly; it it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

After the darkest, frigid, snowiest, iciest winter I think I’ve ever endured, finally came the day when¬†spring began its¬†gradual, grand entrance.

Vernal

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want¬†‚ÄĒ oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” ~ Mark Twain

And it seems one of the most beautiful I can remember. The flowers are¬†abundant, dripping in buds, and more colorful; the grass greener and lusher than I think I’ve seen in years.

Hanging Out

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” ~ Anne Bradstreet

And my soul mirrors the unfolding‚ÄĒmy song called hope.

Together

“Spring shows what God can do with a drab and dirty world.” ~ Virgil A. Kraft

I’ve endured many winters. But not just the season called “winter”. There’ve been other types of winter, winters more unbearable than the actual season. They are winters called “heartache”,¬†“loss”,¬†“tragedy”. And when you think about it, these winters¬†can hit at any time.

Raise Me Up

“That God once loved a garden we learn in Holy writ,
And seeing gardens in the Spring I well can credit it.”
~ Winifred Mary Lett

Tragedy knows no season, no night, or day. Blustery winds and downpours rush in with no forecast, no warning. Blizzards can chill your heart any day, any time.

First Rose

First Rose of 2014

“The beautiful spring came; and when nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.” ~ Harriet Ann Jacobs

But spring reminds us there is always hope, that “the steadfast love of the¬†Lord¬†never ceases;¬†his mercies never come to an end;¬†they are new every morning;¬†great is Your faithfulness.”¬†{Lamentations 3:22-23}, and thatGod is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble.” {Psalm 46:1} and “when you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.” {Isaiah 43:2}¬†

Done

So welcome spring with its promises of hope. Real hope springs from the Eternal One, and yes, it does take faith to turn to God. But He is the EverSpring that arrives in the midst of every winter. He really does show up.

Peace, Alexandria


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Spring”. Though some of my perennials did not survive, others returned with a force so powerful that each day takes my breath away. I’m out taking lots of photos¬†so I’ll be¬†sharing Spring with you the weeks to come, maybe into summer. ūüôā

 

Quiet Street, Busy Land

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Yep, this is what I call “my ‚Äėhood”. ūüôā
Street Life in the Country

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Photos taken with Nikon D60, various lenses, Sony Cybershot, Pentax, iPhone 4 and iPhone 5. Deer photos taken inside through a window‚Äďsheer luck ūüôā
Hope you enjoyed the slideshow format for a change!
(Note: If you’re using the WordPress App Reader the slide show will not work. At least it didn’t for me. Try a regular web page. Good luck!)
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.‚ÄĚ ¬†~ 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. ūüôā

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‚Äďnary 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

 

Inside the Yellow

The Smiling Cardinal

“A smile is the light in your window that tells others that there is a caring, sharing person inside.” ~¬†Denis Waitley

I spotted the flickering blotch of red. Could it be? Squinting my eyes hard, I saw him!¬†There he stood, outside the window, inside the yellow‚ÄĒa beautiful, blazing red cardinal.

Flicker of Red. Will you stay?

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” ~ Joseph Campbell

As February made way for March it arrived full-force as a roaring lion. The daffodils bloomed, then froze as temperatures plunged. Their icy petals drooped to the ground as if they wouldn’t survive.

Stay Inside the Yellow

“We are all alike, on the inside.” ~ Mark Twain

Peering out my window it was sad to see the cheery yellow blooms hunched over, bearing the last weight of winter, striving to usher in spring. How I look forward to their arrival every year! A sign that winter will soon be over.

While admiring their tenacity to overcome this harshest of winters, I spotted the bird. I’ve seen him before but he is usually gone before I can get the camera. This time I hoped he’d stay. And he did!

Inside Growth

“The fatal metaphor of progress, which means leaving things behind us, has utterly obscured the real idea of growth, which means leaving things inside us.” ~¬†Gilbert K. Chesterton

From my distance I could barely make him out as that flower bed is a number of yards away. I’ve cropped the photos significantly because I thought his poses were so charming. Lack of clarity is sometimes exchanged for color and under these less-than-ideal circumstances I was grateful to capture anything close to resembling what I saw.

The Greatest Story Never Told

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ~ Maya Angelou

And I am happy to report that following this last blast of cold air, the daffodils prevailed. They raised their petals high again! {I’ll share those pictures in another post.}

I Like This Place!

But on¬†this¬†dreary winter day this lovely cardinal, inside the daffodils, brought a big smile to my face. I hope he does the same for you. ūüôā
Peace, Alexandria

Happy Inside

“Happiness is an inside job.” ~William Arthur Ward

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 Berni√®res,¬†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?

Canon EOS 5D Mark iii Focal length 70 F number 2.8 Exposure time 1/8,000
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. ūüôā


Joyeaux Noel!

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“I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.” ¬†~ Harlan Miller

DSC_1514Remember
This December,
That love weighs more than gold!
~ Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon

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“Instead of being a time of unusual behavior, Christmas is perhaps the only time in the year when people can obey their natural impulses and express their true sentiments without feeling self-conscious and, perhaps, foolish.¬† Christmas, in short, is about the only chance a man has to be himself.” ¬†~Francis C. Farley

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“Christmas is for children.¬† But it is for grown-ups too.¬† Even if it is a headache, a chore, and nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chill and hide-bound hearts.” ~ Lenora Mattingly Weber

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“Christmas is a time when you get homesick – even when you’re home.” ¬†~ Carol Nelson

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“One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don’t clean it up too quickly.” ~ Andy Rooney

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“Fail not to call to mind, in the course of the twenty-fifth of this month, that the Divinest Heart that ever walked the earth was born on that day; and then smile and enjoy yourselves for the rest of it; for mirth is also of Heaven’s making.” ¬†~ Leigh Hunt

¬†The Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is Joy. Need I explain? ūüôā
Merry Christmas, everyone.
Peace, Alexandria

Other favorites:
Weekly Photo Challenge: Joy
Merry Christmas in Many Languages, I See Beauty All Around
An Atheist Excerpt, Found
Christmas Favorites, Clicky Chick Creates
Christmas Family Traditions, This Man’s Journey

The Lesser Light|One Favorite Subject

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‚ÄúAnd 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.‚Ä̬†~ 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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‚ÄúThe moon is friend for the lonesome to talk to.‚ÄĚ ~¬†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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‚ÄúThe moon is a loyal companion.¬†It never leaves. It‚Äôs always there, watching, steadfast, knowing us in our light and dark moments, changing forever just as we do. Every day it‚Äôs 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.‚ÄĚ ~¬†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 ‚ÄúBut even when the moon looks like it’s waning…it’s actually never changing shape. Don’t ever forget that.‚ÄĚ ~¬†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

Welcome the Light

I‚ÄúBlessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.‚ÄĚ ~ Hamilton Wright Mabie

Here we go again! Another Christmas. What better way to start off than with a challenge about light. Whether one is a believer in the Christ-child or not, we all must agree‚ÄĒit’s the time of year we lay aside our differences and go all out.

IEveryone’s just a bit more kind as we take in all the wonder. There’s an abundance of generosity in the air. The young can’t contain exuberance. Those older contemplate years gone by, watching children with joy, and become child-like again. The return of Christmas reminds us of how fragile, fleeting, and precious every person and moment is.

As a devout Christian I have said Christmas makes us all believers. Something strange, almost mystical, no‚Äďmiraculous‚Äďoccurs.

I‚ÄúChristmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ‚ÄĚ ~ Norman Vincent Peale

We all celebrate. Does heaven gasp as the world wraps itself in Christmas‚ÄĒa spinning ornament studded with lights, glitter, and tinsel‚ÄĒanother majesty of sorts‚ÄĒglistening from the most tasteful decor to the gaudy, even overdone? Or simple Charley Brown’s, from rich to poor, overdoing everything from lights to food to drink to family to travel to lavish spending?

IIt’s the celebration of the world‚ÄĒthe glimmering earth spins in space, dripping in lavish everything.¬†Is God upon His throne inhaling the wonder as His creation celebrates the greatest event in all of human history‚ÄĒEmmanuel‚ÄĒGod with us?

IThat miraculous moment when the divine intersected humanity.

Skeptics and unbelievers try with all their might to squelch Him, to destroy Him, to snuff Him out. But try as they might, the world, believers and unbelievers, celebrate the mystery.
He cannot be silenced.

I‚ÄúHe who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ‚ÄĚ ~ Roy L. Smith

Just gaze at the stars and sun above and you will see‚ÄĒnight after night, day after day. Christmas is always there for you and for me.
You just can’t miss it.

“And God said, “Let there be light, and there was light.”” ~ Genesis 1:3

d“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” ~ John 1:1-4
“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” ~ John 1:14

DSC_1352-001“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” ~ John 8:12

This is why I believe. If you find your faith waning this Christmas, why not rekindle it with the Light?

I“God is here. This truth should fill our lives, and every Christmas should be for us a new and special meeting with God, when we allow his light and grace to enter deep into our soul.‚ÄĚ ¬†~ Josemar√≠a¬†Escriv√°,¬†Christ Is Passing by
Peace and joy this Christmas,
Alexandria
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light

Leaf Layer

DSC_1246“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” ~ Emily Bronte

DSC_1170“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.” ~¬†Henry David Thoreau

DSC_1169“Autumn is the second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~ Albert Camus

DSC_1240“Everyone must take time to sit and watch the leaves turn.” ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

DSC_1275“Never say there is nothing beautiful in the world anymore. There is always something to make you wonder in the shape of a tree, the trembling of a leaf.” ~¬†Albert Schweitzer
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

November Surprise

Be Thou the Rainbow

I saw the lovely arch
Of rainbow span the sky,
The gold sun burning
As the rain swept by.
~ Elizabeth Coatsworth

"Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life." Lord Byron

Ah, November is now upon us. I tried to find some really sweet November quotes on the web, thinking I would find a lot of poetry and quotes depicting the glory of this great month. How shocked and depressing to find literature filled with so much melancholy and gloom.

I suppose in many parts of the world the climate lends itself to melancholy in November. Around here, as October slips quietly into the sunset, November carries on the work of autumn slow and magnificent. And for me personally, November is neatly sandwiched in-between the end of Indian Summer and the bustling holidays. When you think about it, don’t the holidays serve as a huge distraction as the bleakness of winter rolls in? We wake up in January and it’s like, “Wow, it’s winter!”

The other side of the rainbow

But back to November. While I sat perusing the poetry, how fitting a chilling rain should suddenly befall the midst of all the gloom and doom. Great! Dear November, you just confirmed what I’m reading! Stop the madness!

But suddenly, a voice shattered the madness. My husband was off in the back field calling to get my camera and come running. And to my great surprise, what I saw proved those writers and poets dead-wrong. What began¬†my November was this glorious arch spreading over the sky. Yes‚ÄĒ¬†a RAINBOW!¬†¬†Far, far from melancholy. Oh, how I wish you could have been there! Just amazing.

Forever Chasing Rainbows

Rainbows usually conjure images of spring freshness and oh, how writers praise, praise, praise the endless wonder, relieved to the nth degree that all the bleak and blah of winter is finally gone. But just to prove those highbrow writers wrong, nature decided to blast forth this November with a rainbow. No room for gloom this time!

So what do you think about November?¬†Rather than leave it up to famed writers and poets, perhaps it’s now up to the world of everyday bloggers like you and me to change that reputation. Even if your climate is cold, bleak, and cloudy, is there not some glimmer of magnificence? You may not get a rainbow like I did but November holds plenty of surprise. It’s there, to be sure.

I Hope

You might have to do some searching to capture the beauty in the bleak. But even in the worst of times, there is always a place, a space of sanity and glory, that silver lining of hope‚ÄĒpossibly even a rainbow. With November ushering winter at our doorstep, together let’s find that surprise. I’m ready. How about you?

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‚ÄĒbut¬†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.
ūüėČ
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!

‚ÄúIn the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.‚ÄĚ ‚Äď 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

Inside the Thorns

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When life gives you thorns …
“Lift your hands toward the holy place, and praise the Lord.” Psalms 134:2

DSC_0842When life gives you thorns …
“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” ~ Dale Carnegie

DSC_0836When life gives you thorns …
“A single rose can be my garden… a single friend, my world.” ~ Leo Buscaglia

DSC_0828When life gives you thorns …
Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses. ” ~ Alphonse Karr

Lo, How the Rose Enduring

Mystifying, life defying,
Wrapped inside the
deadly piercing.
Delicate, yet
Strong emerging.
Not weathered torn.

But …

Beauty dazzling,
Lightly rising,
Fragile petals,
buds reach praising,
Inside eye
of dreadful storm.

Shall we fare less
inside our thorn?

DSC_0857“When life gives you thorns, grow roses.” ~ Alexandria Sage
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Another contribution for NaPoWriMo 2014.
Poem and photos by Alexandria Sage. Photos taken with Nikon D60 with AF-S Nikkor lens 18-55 mm. Photos have no post-processing, editing, or cropping.¬† It’s the same rose, different views.
Perspective matters, doesn’t it?
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

The Place For … | Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea‚ÄďPoints of View

The sea. The place for …

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Thoughts … To contemplate, ponder, focus.
Emptiness … To let go, exhale, relax.

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Filling … To see, inhale, rejuvenate.
Cleansing … To wash clean within.

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Forgiveness … You have been forgiven. Therefore, forgive.
Giving … Gratitude, glory, praise.

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Receiving … Love, grace, mercy.
Quiet … Stillness, rest, knowing.

IMG_1952Noise … Breeze, waves, seagulls.
Laughter … Children, laughter. Families, laughter. Couples, laughter.

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The sea.
The place for joy.
It brings out the best in all of us. ~ Alexandria Sage

“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.” ~ Arthur C. Clarke

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea
Weekly Photo Challenge: Point of View

All photos taken with iPhone. No photo edits, cropping, or straightening‚Äďwith exception of #4, in which the built-in iPhone enhance tool was used. Yes, everything looked that beautiful!

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