November, Gift of Light

DSC_1228“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life. The rich colours of grass and earth were intensified by the mellow light of a sun almost warm enough for spring.” ~P.D. James

DSC_1118“I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its leaves are a little yellow, its tones mellower, its colors richer, 

DSC_1102and it is tinged a little with sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor of the power of summer,

DSC_1057but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitation’s of life and is content.” ~Lin Yutang

DSC_1095“The human soul is slow to discover the real excellence of things given to us by a bountiful Creator, and not until the shadows of death begin to gather around the object that we love, do we see its worth and beauty. 

DSC_1069Autumn is the dim shadow that clusters about the sweet, precious things that God has created in the realm of nature.While it robs them of life, it tears away the veil and reveals the golden gem of beauty and sweetness.

DSC_1103Beauty lurks in all the dim old aisles of nature, and we discover it at last.” ~ Northern Advocate

DSC_1154“How beautifully leaves grow old. How full of light and color are their last days.” ~ John Burroughs
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Another autumn nears its end. These very brief, fleeting days find me outside more than any other time of the year. The colors are just breathtaking and I constantly fight this irresistible urge to try to capture the breadth, length, and height of it. As we know, it’s an impossibility. I know autumn means to contemplate, absorb, and enjoy the richness of  its beauty. It’s also a time of remembrance as the year draws to a close and we look back.

Autumn is such a paradox. Brilliant, glimmering. But it is truly a descent into decay and ultimately … death. It is, in essence, a progression into loss. Just like autumn, we’ve all experienced loss in some fashion this year. Perhaps God fashioned autumn so brilliant just so we could see some sort of beauty in loss. But the journey of loss always holds gain as God brings something new to replace what we lost. We won’t know what it is until we look to Him in faith and ask.

As the leaves fall, shrivel, and die some things in our lives must do the same. I’ve endured a couple of deep, unexpected losses this year. As I grieve I look to God and the glorious creation He surrounds me with and try to grasp the new blessings in my life. Just as the inclination is strong to hold and capture every photo of autumn, I cling tight to what is no more. And I have to ask God for even the faith to believe there is something better. There always is. The truth stamped in autumn tells me so.  That though the days are long and dark, that light will return, brighter than bright. Tells me there is spring.

And it’s not too far from now.

Peace, Alexandria


This is my contribution to the new Lens Artists group, which has a new theme every week. It’s been a busy year, hence, quite some time since I’ve blogged. But I hope to participate in this, since it saddened me greatly that WordPress quit it’s Weekly Photo Challenge. I’m so thankful for these few photographers who’ve continued this trend! Thank you, Tina and Amy! (I think there is one more but I can’t remember the name. Sorry!) 🙂

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Travels and Trifles

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Joy in Weathered Space


November 2011

“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.” ― Sarah Dessen, Just Listen

When I started this blog in 2011 I had no idea what I was doing. But I had a lot of things going on in life. A lot of sadness. Not due to anything done to me personally. But a lot of circumstances affecting my dearest loved ones and, I guess you could say, the way I hurt for them and tried to help them resulted in my own deep, deep sadness. Hence, I started to write.

December 2011

Every year some new tragic circumstance hit. Numerous things. Fractured relationships, unusual illness, untimely deaths, even a destructive tornado I found myself right in the middle of.

May 2013

Loss, loss, loss. Each year I prayed for quiet and each year the tsunami’s came. And all this is just a fraction of everything.

January 2012

So I created SimplySage. I needed a “happy place”. A place to find joy in the midst of all the sadness surrounding me. Combined with faith and some good friends, I found an additional place of solace here. And I poured out myself to pull out joys in my everyday surroundings. Simple things, really.


February 2012

And as I looked around my eyes opened to ways that nature mirrors some of the sad times. Then, a long-buried hobby of photography revived. And suddenly I found solace in all the beauty that surrounded me. It was as if God opened my eyes to metaphors in nature. Like the one above. In the dead of winter, there bloomed brilliant orange. Wonders like these carried me to indescribable dimensions. Many of them I could not capture. A photo could never do them justice. All I could do was stand in awe.


March 2012

But I wrote and wrote and wrote. And the storms kept coming. And each year I’d wonder “what next?”


April 2012

Then 2017 hit. And guess what. It was a good year. Actually, an amazingly wonderful year. Yes, the bumps and nicks still came but it seemed to be nothing that absolutely cut you to the heart. And there was a lot of love and joy in 2017. Blessings beyond imagination! Laughter returned and filled every part of my life.

But something else happened.


May 2012

I kinda quit writing.

I guess in all the joy and laughter I was just soaking it all up, And I just kept doing that. Soaking it all in. It was, in a sense, a healing balm to me. Yes, there are some scars left from all the troubled years. Some sadness still trickles in as I ponder all the pain. But I guess I needed a break. To just rest in all of it.

It was wonderful.


June 2012

I could sit here and wish and hope for another year like 2017. But there may never be a year like that again. And if there’s not, a few big lessons stay with me as the storms blow in. Here are just a few:

  • There is no one like the Lord, God of heaven and earth, whom you can cry out to from your heart every minute of the day.
  • There is nothing like the comfort and truth in His Holy Word, the Bible.
  • There is nothing like His marvelous creation.
  • There is nothing like a few close, loving friends and family.
  • Deep down, people are fragile, and are fighting battles within and without. It’s important to understand why they act like they do; and still be kind.
  • There is nothing like the kisses and hugs and sounds of children.
  • There is nothing like gratitude for so many things we take for granted.
  • There is nothing like a nutritious healthy meal and a good, silent walk.
  • Joy can be found anywhere, anytime. All one needs to do is look; and be still enough to enjoy it.

As to writing and this blog? Of course, I will continue! Not making any promises, but I will be here. I thank you, my community of readers, for being here. I don’t take your visits lightly. I don’t equate you in terms of “traffic, stats, or bots”. You are friends. And a part of the joy in all the pain.  I welcome you always.


2017, Best Photo

And as for 2017, for now I say, farewell.  I will never forget you.

Peace,
Alexandria


Weekly Photo Challenges:

Weathered

2017 Favorites

 

Once, We Were Young

“Two golden hours somewhere between sunrise and sunset. Both are set with 60 diamond minutes.” ~ Horace Mann

As another autumn (and another birthday) are upon me, and as I face the daily blows of life, this is always a time of reflection of who I am, where I’ve been, and how I am to face my next year of life. 

I finish the year attending to important deadlines and mail that piled up over summer. I try to stuff the idea of the holidays for now, as I’m just not quite ready. 

When I feel particularly burdened about something, I remember how easy it was when I was a child. And I yearn to go back there.

And it’s dawns on me how little of life is spent during those wondrous years.

What is it about being a child that’s so wonderful? The laughter, the chatter, the sheer delight of everything! Think of it. Their smiles, great big hugs, and very wet kisses! Their unconditional love. Their close bonds with family; aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents. The humor. Their innocence. Their nonsense! It’s all so magical and enchanting.

We were all children once. And then one day we woke up and began that rocky trip to adulthood called “adolescence”.

I remember that time. I was not ready at all and I didn’t want to let go. I distinctly remember the summer that spending untold hours in my best friend’s pool no longer captivated us. Instead, we started sitting around just “talking’ by the pool, rather than playing in the pool. I remember feeling so sad about that. My friend and I even discussed it because we didn’t understand why. It didn’t take long to figure it out. But still, we were very sad to see our carefree days slip away so fast.

And adulthood stayed; it never transitioned into another stage. For me, it swiftly outlived its welcome.

Plus, I discovered that we are adults for the majority of our life. And we are adults the rest of our lives. As we constantly deal with the blows and stressors of the adult years, how much do we look back and long for those days as children?

Yes, at times we thought they were dreadful; like when mom and dad said no to candy. (What could be worse!) Or how we couldn’t trudge through the house after building a snowman. And vegetables … ugh! Those vegetables! As adults we laugh at the perplexity of those “problems”, don’t we?

It’s so short … childhood. And adulthood … it’s so long … and so serious.

The thought struck me about those two golden hours—how the sun gets to beam and glow, even finger-paint and watercolor—the sun gets to play just like a child. Everyday. For two solid hours! Morning and night.

I wish during those two hours—sunrise and sunset, that we could become children again, for real.

Just two hours! But can you imagine, just imagine, what would happen in this serious world of adulthood?

Think about it. In some places it would be absolutely hilarious; others, a complete disaster! No, we couldn’t do that, of course!

But at sunrise and again, at sunset, could we not use those times as markers to get our attention, to cultivate an hour to release the cares and seriousness of adult life. And just glow

Maybe we can’t just abandon our post in life to utter nonsense and irresponsibility. But maybe we can let go of life’s burdens for a bit. Maybe stop and just enjoy that golden hour, even for a little while. Smile. Laugh. Release ourselves inside, for a moment, to utter nonsense!

Like a child.

Once, we were young. Can we not be again?


Photo Credits: The spectacular orange Indonesian sunset goes to my friend and guest author, Stephen Deal. Probably one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. Thank you, Steve!

Peace,
Alexandria

Why Is Your Structure Such?


You fascinate me.

I don’t know you. Don’t know much about you, actually. I know the monarchs; so regal, vibrant. The little yellow ones—fleeting, quick. But I’ve never seen you.

As I chored about the yard, I caught glimpses of you. And I thought, you’re different. What unusual beauty. Such graceful movements.

But…

So dark. Dark as a moonless night. Dark as a storm front. Dark as deep ocean.

But such a comforting dark. There’s a softness about you. Why is your structure such?

When your lovely flight pattern stopped, I moved closer. You didn’t fly away. It looked as if you waited, and actually posed for me. Your dark was then so beautiful. The rust tinge. The white. The astonishing scallops. And then that lovely shade of blueness. Black and blue. Oh, why is your structure such!

Why did God make a black and blue butterfly??

I’m not exactly sure but I thank Him. For because of beautiful creatures like you, I see the blackest of my days and the blueness in my soul are still tinged with color, and pure white, even if there’s a touch of rust around the edges. Like a lot of things in my life.

If I would just be still; and take notice.

You dawned my day with your dark.

And perhaps that is why your structure is such.

Oh, I know you won’t be around for long. Your life is sadly very brief.

And I may never see you again. But I’m glad we’ve met. 

And I’m glad of the structure that is you.


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the themes “Structure” and “Waiting.” We don’t typically see black swallowtails around here but this year we’ve seen several. These were some of the thoughts that came to me as I observed and enjoyed them. I hope you enjoy as well. 🙂

Peace,
Alexandria

Deep Space Collage

“To go boldly where no man has gone before.”

Star Trek. The theme quote. A timeless story.

Aside from Star Wars, it’s possibly the most popular sci-fi series of all time. I loved that show. Captain Kirk—the gutsy, cunning, yet vulnerable leader was a character I most admired! Star Trek, the great predecessor of Star Wars. Still to this day they are both sheer, utter enjoyment.

Space fascinates us, doesn’t it? Huge star ships floating with grace. Hyperspace! Vulcans! Other exotic humanoids (yuk, some of them I could live without ever seeing!)

And who doesn’t love a full moon or a starry night? The constellations that have guided mankind for millennia are mind-boggling.

But did you know you could travel deep space right outside your door? It’s always been there. A space that, once entered, holds as much beauty as the stars in the sky.

Take just the rose, for instance. It’s been out your door all this time  You forge ahead in your day, maybe glance up at the sky, or in your phone, as you rush by, day in and day out.

But have you ever once thought to stop? And finally travel in? Or taken a real camera and captured it? I don’t know—maybe phones these days can do it, too

By gently separating the delicate petals, you can. Yes, they might press against your lens, which you’ll have to clean after. (Such work!)

But the trip is genuinely worth it, isn’t it? Take in the symmetry, the order of this collage of wonder; its beautiful design.

Take some time and enter into the deep space right outside your door. Waiting for you. All these years. Ttop and look. Play around a bit with angle and depth. You’ll behold a wonder you never imagined. Go boldly where few take the time to go.

And you’ll wonder why it took so long.


This is my contribution to the  Wordpress Weekly Photo Challenge with a previous theme, “Order” and the current theme “Collage“.

The designs I find in nature seem so random. Yet they are not. Even in the wild woods that surround me, there is this combined symmetry; a collage that fits together perfect. Our Creator is a master of design. Stop and take a look around you. Don’t dismiss the designs. The order. No matter the collage that is your life, which perhaps at times seems more like chaos, the majesty within nature reminds you of His presence.

Peace, Alexandria


First two photos credited to Sean M. Smith. The rest are by mine, taken with Sony DSLR.

ShadowLands

Moon ShadowsMoon Shadows

“Shadow is the obstruction of light. Shadows appear to me to be of supreme importance in perspective,

German FogSun Shadows

because, without them opaque and solid bodies will be ill-defined;

1-IMG_2533Cinderella Shadows

That which is contained within their outlines and their boundaries themselves

1-IMG_7343(1)Snow Shadows

will be ill-understood unless they are shown against a background

dLong Shadows

of a different tone from themselves.” ~ Leonardo da Vinci

Shadow Friends

“Friendship is the shadow of the evening, which increases with the setting sun of life.” ~ Jean de La Fontaine


Tree Shadow

“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” ~ Michelangelo

Morning WalkMe Shadow 🙂

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine, and shadows fall behind you.” ~ Walt Whitman

Peace,
Alexandria


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge theme of “Shadow”. I hope you enjoyed. 🙂 Click here for more interpretations.

The Green-Eyed Ninja

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He came right to my door, yes he did.

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As he circled, I froze at such weaponry! Was I friend or foe?

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Before I could speak the eyes stared me down. Green eyes! Green eyes staring at me! And he reached for his swords.

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Again, I froze. What next!! What was to become of me!

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Swashbuckling about, I knew something about him was familiar. Those green eyes…those deep, green eyes.

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Staring at me. And at last my mind cleared with recognition!

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photo credit: Emily K. Morgan (emilykmorgan.com)

I’d know those green eyes anywhere!

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photo credit: Chris Lymberis

I just never knew he was the mysterious warrior known as the Green-Eyed Ninja!


This Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is “Transmogrify”.  I’d never heard this word before. It means to “change in appearance or form, especially strangely or magically; transform.”. So I chose these photos of the dashing Green-Eyed Ninja that showed up at my doorstep last year. And little did I know my grandson was a super-hero by night!

I thought it fit the theme well. And yes, indeed, he does have beautiful deep green eyes! 🙂

Happy Halloween!
Alexandria

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photo credit: Emily K. Morgan (emilykmorgan.com)

This week’s post features two photos by Emily K. Morgan; the two with my grandson in the bow tie. Emily is a photographer from Los Angeles and is known for exceptional creativity as well as technical skills. She captures her subjects beautifully but also captures the emotion and energy of every event. Her wedding photography is absolutely stunning and I hope to share more of her work on future posts. I highly recommend you look at her portfolio at emilykmorgan.com

My Local Artist

This week I’m featuring the photography of my favorite local photographer.
(Be sure to turn up your screen brightness for these.)

Hello There

His chosen profession is law enforcement. He’s one of those gems—giving out more warnings than tickets, soft-spoken, oh-so-witty, and just plain smart. But there’s a little known fact about this tough-looking officer.

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He’s a natural born artist.

Star Blanket img_7352

The story goes that at age two, he drew a detailed sketch of a train that was shockingly accurate. It’s true. I’ve seen the picture.

A Room with a View img_7354In school, he didn’t exactly draw. Or color. He “sketched”. He turned down crayons and insisted on colored pencils and by fifth grade started a new trend. According to his art teacher, all the kids wanted colored pencils! They thought if they had colored pencils they could “sketch” like him!

Show Me the Way img_7355

Thinking he was headed for a career in art, in middle school he took up the piano. (By now, I think you know this police officer-artist is none other than my son.) 🙂

Unexpected Bloom

Until I could find a piano teacher I quickly gave him a “Pattern Piano” DVD instruction set. He watched a bit and I distinctly remember his voice, “I think I got this figured out.” And off he ran to the piano.

Jeep

It seemed in no time, he was playing beautifully, without lessons. I’m not sure he ever finished the DVD’s. He still plays to this day; and it’s lovely.

River Dusk

Then he did the same with guitar, as well as singing and harmonizing. No joke.

Drink

He took up photography in high school and was off taking pictures of everything, finding the beauty in the small and unnoticed.

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And this week he upgraded his camera—big-time I’d say!—and has been out and about, capturing the local countryside. These are some of the results and I will let you be the judge. But I think they are stunning. Click on each one for a fuller view. It’s definitely worth it!

Sky Lights img_7353

I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating but I’m truly not. Just ask his sisters! All full of sugar and spice, they are pure sweetness. They’re smart and artistic, too, but they admit, without hesitation, their brother’s artistic gifts confound them. Of course, they’re not shy about telling anyone either!


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Local“, featuring the photography of my own local artist, my dear son. I’m glad he’s out taking pictures because my life’s been a bit full as of late. He might fill in for me a bit but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. At all! 🙂

Peace,
Alexandria

Of Sunbeams and Rainbows, Look Up!

IMG_0282“Hold out your hands to feel the luxury of the sunbeams.” ~ Helen Keller

Be Thou the Rainbow1-DSC02109“My heart leaps up when I behold a rainbow in the sky.” ~ William Wordsworth

Summer Love 1-IMG_2063“Friendship is like a rainbow between two hearts.” ~Author unknown
Come the MornIMG_2432“The beauty of the sunbeam lies partly in the fact that God does not keep it; he gives it away to us all.” ~ David Swing

“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.” ~ St. Francis of Assisi

“As on the driving cloud the shiny Bow, that gracious thing made up of tears and light.” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“In the world’s audience hall, the simple blade of grass sits on the same carpet with the sunbeams, and the stars of midnight.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

“The smiling daughter of the storm.” ~Charles Caleb Colton

“Rainbows apologize for angry skies.” ~Sylvia Voirol

DSC_3462“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” ~ Roald Dahl

Family Tree 1-DSC_0096“Laughter is a sunbeam of the soul.” ~ Thomas Mann

“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” ~G.K. Chesterton

Home Sweet Home“Never has the warm caress of a sunbeam seemed so ominous.” ~ Joel Achenbach


The Photo Challenge theme this week is “Look Up“.

It’s been a very tragic week in these United States of America. As I watch the events my heart breaks for so many, for so much, and especially for my country. It’s easy to be buried in all of this and tempted to think we will never emerge from the stain of racism. But are we really that racist? The extreme rhetoric from both sides that fills the internet would convince us that we are. But those are words. Do we really act that way in real life?

My own community of friends and acquaintances are from different races and countries. We care deeply for and respect each other. We laugh and cry together. We share life together and accomplish wonderful things; like rainbows and sunbeams that split through dust and clouds and rain.

One friend told me the story of how her tire blew the other day. She was alone on the side of the highway and two different people pulled over to help her. One was a Black man. The other Hispanic. She is White. Not one hint about skin color. Just people working together to help someone in need. Sunbeams and rainbows. They are in our very midst everyday. They don’t make the news but their actions are how most of us really are.

I’m glad God sets examples in the sky; sunbeams and rainbows. Neither can happen really well without dust and clouds and rain. Aside from the events of the past week, life is very hard just on its own. It’s tough to work and make a living, to take care of our families, to raise children. Life is filled with a lot of stress—dust, clouds, and rain. The people we rub shoulders with everyday are the rainbows and sunbeams that get us through.

Though my nation is filled with clouds, dust, and storms right now I hope we can look up and find the rainbows and sunbeams that surround us every day, just like my friend did. Just like I do.

We may never make the headlines. But we are a great story.

I hope these photos lift you up from where you are.
And remember, we are all Americans.
Let us love one another.

Peace, Alexandria

Opposite Attraction | Moonstruck

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“Look how the pale queen of the silent night
Doth cause the ocean to attend upon her….” ~Charles Best, “A Sonnet of the Moon”

Light and dark. Opposing forces. Both strong in their own right. Both necessary to our human existence. These opposites are not offended whatsoever when one space invades the other.

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“Moonlight is sculpture.” ~Nathaniel Hawthorne

For nothing shows their contrast best than when they invade the other’s space. They actually flourish together. Both are resplendent in beauty.

They are a remarkable, blinding, spectacular pair. 

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“Together, we form a necessary paradox; not a senseless contradiction.”  ~ Criss Jami

It is said opposites attract. In nature it seems to be a constant. But our human nature seeks to avoid what is opposite.

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“A man is a very small thing, and the night is very large and full of wonders.” ~Edward Plunkett

Though we can draw many lessons about light and darkness, the opposites in nature serve only to enhance each other. The moon shines brilliant. Stars sweep across the black sky in a breathtaking swash. Yet there is no complaint from the sky as these intruders invade its space.

Why, we humans even invade and see what happens? All so lovely!

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“The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand.” ~Frederick Knowles

Perhaps we should not fight our opposites whoever they may be. As dark sky “walks down the moon” to merge in a shining display, and we add our playful silhouettes, can we not do the same with each other?

Would we be any less spectacular?

Peace, Alexandria


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Opposite”. The theme can be interpreted in so many ways but I chose the contrast of light and dark. For others, click here.
P.S. Apologies if you received this twice. The link didn’t work on the first one. I think it’s fixed on this one. 🙂

Purely Summer

Wash Over Me 20130905-202159.jpg

Purified

With summer in full swing here, I’m going to change things up a bit. Increased family demands and just loving the outdoors has nudged out any time for writing so I’m taking a break from it this summer.

Evening Blush DSC01436[1]

Evening Blush

But with the camera as a welcome part of the demands I’ll be sharing more photos.

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Arrival of Morn

I’m trying to take part in the Weekly Photo Challenge hosted by WordPress, my blog platform. But I hope to share in-between as well. The writing will be brief, three-hundred words or less. After all, I’m sure you have plenty of other summer reading to do!

Fire over Water

Fire over Water

For this week’s Challenge, the theme is “Pure“. My mind went several directions until I finally settled on some photos of the ocean. Since the beach is my “go-to” place to purify my heart, I thought I’d share some favorites. Be sure to turn your device to landscape to capture the full purity of the views. Makes a difference! 😊

Zoom for a closer look. Turn phone to side

Dawn. Crisp, Clear. Pure.  Zoom in to see a crescent moon. Stunning!

Storm over Water

Storm over Water

Then there’s the storms and artistry of clouds. So settling. Cleansing!

Wind over Water

Wind over Water

The breezes gently sweep and scatter all the busyness that inhabits my mind. It clears the clutter and tidies up my heart and with renewed clarity, I can focus on what’s really important.

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Pure Morning

I am swept clean! Purified!


I hope you’ll enjoy my upcoming summer “short series”.

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Let’s have some summer fun!

But most of all, have a fun summer! 🙂

More soon,
Alexandria


P.S. SimplySage is in transition. It’s gone from simplysage.org to simplysage.me to simplysage.live.  It takes several weeks for search engines to re-index my site so I’m kind of lost in internet space right now. The .me and .org do not work.
I’ll spare all the reasons. If I explain I’ll go way beyond three-hundred words! 🙂


For other interpretation of “Pure”, click here.

Jubilant Community

Jubilant Spring 1-IMG_5807

The Weekly Photo Challenge theme this week is “Jubilant“.  I’m sharing the abundant flowering of a clematis I bought three years ago at WalMart. In its first year it had less than five blooms.

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Thinking it wasn’t feeling too much at home here, I nestled it among good things; roses, lilies, shrubs. I gave it the proper light and good old-fashioned fertilizer. And I remained … waiting.

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In gardening of any kind there is so much waiting!

In its second summer it was just a scraggly green bush. Cute. But so shy! And so I waited another year.

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And it finally opened up!

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And blossomed unimaginable!

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 No more shyness. No more hesitation.

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 In fact, as the quote says, it is a perpetual astonishment. We are nearing June and it’s full of buds.

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The vine is branching out beyond. But it’s still connected to home. Through the wind and rain it’s held tight.

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It’s all become its own little community. The vine gently weaves a pattern with the flowers. Together they reside. Yet the tender flowers are never destroyed. Nor is the vine ever suffocated by the broad, expansive flower.

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Look how they cling to each other as good friends. Neighbors. Caring for, looking out for each other. And the seed pods are so abundant that next year I’ll need to add another trellis. This community is growing! Good neighbors do that.

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Good neighbors promote growth. And speaking of neighbors …

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What ever happened to being a good neighbor? Watching out for, protecting, sharing, loving, being kind?

Different, but dwelling together?

Whatever happened to “community”? Real community. Real people rubbing shoulders with real people. In the earlier photo, the clematis is neighbors with the lilies, roses, and shrubs. All different. But look how beautiful together.

Today there are all these “online communities” and believe me, I’m all for them.

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But sometimes I wonder if we’ve forgotten how to be with real people. We sit in our temperature-controlled environment and pluck away on the keyboard or our smartphones and call it community.

And another thing I see as I scroll through social media is how easily it is to be unkind. Words filled with so much venom. I wonder would they be that way if they were face-to-face?

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Somehow, I think not.

There’s an abundance of words and opinions nowadays. And I am definitely a free-speech warrior. But imagine the human—the actual real live person. Think about your words before you type. And work toward a jubilant display such as this. Nurturing beyond just existence. Nurturing to grow.

Good neighbors.

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Can we not do this? Whether online or in person, is it so hard to do?

Peace, Alexandria

 

 

Color Me Red! | Vibrant

imageHere in the depth of winter the Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Vibrant“.  Ahhh … a winter break from black and white! And what a great theme to showcase my favorite color—red! Our recent blizzard allowed this red bush a standing ovation.

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Amidst the ice and snow the bush got my attention. So red!

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I zoomed in for a closer look,

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and the vibrant, red leaves glistened as the ice completely enveloped them, dripping like jewels.

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And since I’d just replenished birdseed, another brush of red caught my eye through my kitchen window. After juggling the camera and ten pictures later I found this one deemed worthy. 🙂

Rust-Tinge

I love all vibrant colors but red always turns my head.

From barns,

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to cars,

Vintage Companions

to mums,

Magnificent Mums

to roses,

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to my four-wheeler. 🙂

Capture the Mooon

I’ve even splashed it on a few walls in my home,

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and it graces my front  door. 🙂

Welcome Closer

I just love red and can’t help but share the following quote. I’m no psychoanalyst, but maybe this is why:

“I’m in love with red. I think it’s such a passionate color. Every flag of every country pretty much has red in it. It’s power. There’s no fence-sitting with red. Either you love it or you don’t. I think it’s blood and strength and life. I do love red.” ~ Brian Batt

Fire and Ice

And while taking the blizzard photos I noticed one of the ice-enveloped leaves glistening in the shape of a beautiful heart.

Midwinter's Night Dream

So, while I’m at it, Happy Valentines! 🙂

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


For more bloggers’ interpretations of Vibrant click here.
Other “Vibrant” posts I liked:
Say It With a Camera
Campbeltown and Islay Photography
Pauses and Clicks

Change, Certain as the Seasons | Weekly Photo Challenge: Transition

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And so we are deep into Autumn— glittering, majestic autumn. And as I ponder nature’s stunning finish, it’s that time where I do some real hard thinking about the past year. The transition is so rapid from day-to-day that if you wait you’ll miss that particular color or hue. And as fall dozes into winter I think about my soul; how the seasons mirror my own rhythm. The time for reflection is upon me.
Autumn.

imageFall Dozes

And then winter.

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Winter Sleeps

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As nature curls into hibernation, it seems I do the same. The transition into winter begins here with the holidays.

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But once the tree and tinsel are down and tucked away, so am I. Oh, there’s plenty of work to do; my home, family, and job. But with no deadlines or travel my soul goes into a hibernation of sorts; rest. Just pure, glorious rest.

Right now I live in a place where seasons change. I lived in the American desert southwest for a brief period. Though it possesses an outrageous and incredible beauty, I missed the changing seasons. Once you get used to those rhythms your soul ever longs for them. We’re always ready for them, aren’t we?

Spring Sings!

But there’s something else about the seasons that fills me with something bittersweet. Because with those rhythms comes the certainty of change. And I don’t like change. I wish everything to stay as is. But “there is a time for each matter under heaven” and I know God has his hand in every aspect of my life—blessings and difficulties. Difficult times will come, but there are many good things surrounding me, too.

Oh, life–the blend of trial and blessing, seasons filled with change. Remembrance of last year fills me now with warm nostalgia. Things have changed this year and some changes I don’t like, but some I do.

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Summer Shouts!

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As I look at my sweet grandsons I wish so hard they would stay children. But they won’t.

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As I relish their moments of childlike delight I wonder, will they have this much fun next year? I cling a little tighter to these moments and to them, all the while knowing they both slip from my grasp.

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Why do I resist change when I know change is certain? Why does change fill a corner of my heart with an unsettling angst? I cry against it to no avail and it comes anyway. Why can’t I be like nature, welcoming with open arms, and just settle into it quite nicely, ready for the next? Yes, change is certain.

But there is a certainty of which I’m glad there is no change.

“I the Lord do not change.” ~ Malachi 3:6

First Voice

Though God set into motion seasons of glorious nature, he exempted himself from change. This truth abides. This is the certainty I most need. I need his constant grace, mercy, and forgiveness. And he gives all. His love and mercy are the same—when we fall, when we stand. His hand is ever there to walk us through storms or meadows.

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Within the unexpected turns of life He knew we needed–I need–a constant something.

Or rather—Someone.

And I’ve never been out of His hand.


“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1

“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


This is my interpretation for the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Transition”. I hope you enjoy. 🙂
Peace, Alexandria

Best Buds |Weekly Photo Challenge: My Happy Place

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When I saw the photo challenge titled “Happy Place” the words that immediately came to  mind were “travel destinations”—places that invoke that glorious feeling of combined rest and joy, one definition known as “happiness”. I thought of places I’ve been (North Myrtle Beach).

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or places I’ve dreamed of going (Moorea).

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When I went to Acadia National Park (above) I thought, “Oh, now this it. This is the ultimate, the place to unwind, to get away.” I was happy!

However, travel can bring its own stresses, as we all know. The planning, packing, and getting to-and-from can be tiring. You’ve heard people say, “I need a vacation from my vacation!” 🙂

a rainbow in the sky."

It can feel like chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,

Moon Shadows

or trying to truly capture the presence and majesty of another breathtaking moonrise,

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or that ever elusive butterfly.

But when you’re in immediate and desperate need of joy, finding a happy place cannot always be found by thumbing through travel guides for yet another trip or even dreaming of those places.

It’s times like that I totally forget a happy place that lives right out my front porch. Most of the time I find I’m looking beyond it, rushing past it toward some goal, the “next thing”, that place called “when I finally get there, I will be happy!”

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I forget the happy place staring straight at me. It’s a place where they’re straining their necks to grab me, to get my attention, to make me stop in my haste to happiness and see that they are what I really need;

that they live, they thrive, they exist to make me happy! (I’m convinced they serve no other purpose.) They are my never-ending friends, through every season, through every joy, through every sorrow. They are constant and oh, how I take them for granted!

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They remind me that we both endure some thorny paths and sticky situations,

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that I’m not the only one out there feeling so alone,

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drowning in life’s demands,

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and kind of hanging by a thread,

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or in need of a hug;

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that while we pass each other everyday in the coming and going, we can still rise and hold our head high, together, and shine in the sun!

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You see, when you have best buds you can find happiness no matter where, no matter what. 🙂


I write this in honor of my friends and family, my “best buds”. Thank you for being just a phone call away. I always miss you.

Peace, Alexandria

 

These Are a Few of My Favorite Grids | Weekly Photo Challenge: Grid

A Cupful of Friend

Relaxing in the screen grid

As I looked at the Challenge this week with “Grid” as the theme, I perused through my pictures. And it was amazing to me how much of my everyday life is filled with design.

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Grid bench, where I enjoy my favorite flower.

Be it work, home, or play I’m constantly living life in a myriad of grids. Why, I glance at my desk right now and it’s filled with cubbies of lovely baskets and throws and it’s grids bring warmth, reminding me of my favorite things. And so, I thought I’d share a few with you.

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Rust-colored trees border a grid fence. Barren beauty. (Sometimes I feel like that. Sigh …)

I think deep within all of us there is a hunger for design, composition, and order. Perhaps it’s because so much of life is unpredictable and seems out of control. But then we’ll see something beautiful. And we’ll snap a picture.

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Inhale the forest through the grid. Ahhh….

Everyday we’ll snap pictures of moments. And they become a small piece of peace to latch onto and it all nourishes our soul, doesn’t it?

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Grid grill. Yum! One of my favorites!

Perhaps they remind us that in that very photo we destined order in our chaotic world.

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Light within the grid … shine for me, please.

Our eyes searched for and found the grid. We put composition where it was not.

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The grid shines through. (Sigh … it’s that time again!)

We found design in small things. Like a clean oven. 🙂

Friendly ferns love the grid, too!Grids make a space for everyone, especially friendly ferns!

I don’t know about you but all of these pictures make me smile. I brought a piece of order and composition to my own chaotic world.

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My favorite beach grid. Yes, here I come!

And they make me happy. Very happy!

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A grid to play with bugs. Fun!

And isn’t happiness what we’re all searching for?

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Revived skill behind a grid. Pleased. Very pleased.

So, as you go about your day, look around.

Singing in front of the grid. Inspirational!

Find the grid. Snap the picture. Tell your story. But tell it to yourself first.

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Mmm … yes, lock me behind this grid forever!!

Then sit back and smile. And be happy!

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Let this grid warmth fill me all year long! It’s coming soon!

For happiness abounds! 🙂

Peace,
Alexandria


For more entries for the Weekly Photo Challenge with the “grid” theme click here. Have a great week!

Hydrangea Joy | Weekly Photo Challenge: Vivid

Hydrangea Joy

Vivid

Grand

Generous 

Abundant

Joy-giving

Smile-maker

Favorite flower

Enjoy!

Peace,
Alexandria

Fragile, Handle With Care | Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

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“Words and hearts should be handled with care, for words misspoken and hearts when broken are the hardest things to repair.” ~ Unknown

Ever do this? Say something then feel the immediate twinge of regret? You wish, how you wish, you could somehow take them back. But they stick like glue. Sometimes they are just casual, oh so casual, “I didn’t really mean it.”

We utter them right off the top of our head, just because we need to talk–oh, how we need to talk,  to say something—oh, how we always need to be saying something.

Sometimes they are tinged with hints of sarcasm—just enough hint to hurt.

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Sometimes we lash out in anger. And that’s the worst kind—so far from kind.

And then there’s the so unkind kind that cuts … deep, sometimes scarring to permanence—like a car that’s been wrecked and declared totaled.  Total damage.

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If we would but look into the eyes, we would see the heart of each.

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But no, we shrug away, whispering, “So what.”

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Our culture actually takes pride in telling someone off. We hang on to the brash words of reality television and celebrate the celebrity spewing trash-talk. Bullying is a problem among our children. It’s like we celebrate hate.

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What have we become?

Yes, conflict is part and parcel of life. But my mother used to say “Fight nice.” The word hate was so repulsed it was never allowed in our home, under any circumstances. Not even an “I hate brocolli!” was permitted.

Words can build or destroy. Choose them wisely—choose to soothe, heal, protect, build.

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Why not declare to say, today, words tinged with, dare I say, … love?

And if you have nothing to say, it’s perfectly okay to just say nothing.

“Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent.” ~Proverbs 17:28a

Spent, or Well-Spent?

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” ~Plato


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme “Broken”. I chose to use the theme in the context of “words”, which can break and shatter as powerfully as they build and heal.

Our modern world is filled with an abundance of them. Sometimes even one sentence can wreak a force as destructive as a volcanic eruption. (Think Twitter with its mere 160 characters. It packs a powerful punch, doesn’t it?)

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Our WordPress community continues to be a safe haven for words, a place where thoughtful expression is wrapped in respect for everyone. I’ve found it to be thus far, and I hope it continues.

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“Let your speech be always with grace.” ~Colossians 4:6a

Peace,
Alexandria


For other interpretations of the Broken Challenge, I hope you’ll take some time and visit here. You’ll enjoy the endless creativity of WordPress photographers, both amateur and professional. Enjoy! 🙂

Locomotion| Weekly Photo Challenge: Motion

Slushy FunMotion

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M“There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a person being themselves. Imagine going through your day being unapologetically you.” ~ Steve Maraboli


This is my contribution to the Weekly Photo Challenge theme of Motion. As you can see, a child is a perfect picture of never-ending motion … and locomotion … and commotion! All wrapped up into one!
EnJoy!
Alexandria

Fire and Ice | Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird

imageIt was back in January and I am up before dawn, carving a wondrous niche of solitude for myself at the early bird hours.

And it’s January. Frigid and dark. And so begins my worst time of the year. Curled up in my fluffy robe, I hug a steaming cup of coffee. In the clutches of deep suffering, my heart is a solidified mass of stone. (See Reward’s of Winter)

But suddenly out of the darkness, a glint catches my eye. I peer out the window and there it was.

imageThere it was, all melting the chill that seeped into every crevice of my stone-cold heart.

A purple haze of light rises. Oh January, why beckon me! Why taunt me! I’m all cozy and wrapped up tight! Just like my heart! Wrapped up tight these days! The last thing on my mind is taking pictures! You know I don’t like you anyway! Oh January!

Beautiful and brilliant it was! All fiery and cold. Stepping onto the porch I press my nose against the ice cold screen.

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The holidays are a mere memory. Blah, bleak days are here. Days that drag on … and on … and on. But here comes January, showing off.

And here I go, throwing a down coat over my robe and running out the door with only an iPhone. Oh January, I know you’ll run from me if I don’t get out there! And YOU, only YOU could do this to me! But anyway, you got me out here. Now show me what you’ve got!

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And so, January delivered–an early show filled with purple’s and magenta’s, lights and darks, glaring and glinting off bare branched trees and surly cloud covers.

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Fire and ice mingle and I’m in near tears over it. Oh January, perhaps the reason I don’t like you is because I am so much like you.

Fire and ice.

Stubborn. Determined. Self-centered. Show off. Oh, look at you, January, you show-off!

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Cold. Rude. Impatient. Angry, a fire-brimming volcano. (I’m not proud of that.)

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And so loud sometimes! Stop it, January!

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But alas, I see you are all of those things and none of those things. For what I’ve come to realize is you are just filled with … passion. You come on so strong because of your complexity.

You are passionate about life, love, passionate about everything.

All fire and ice.

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You’re so, so … so …
human.

Human … just like me.

Why would I ever treat you with such disdain? Oh, January, I’m so sorry. Come near, my friend. Every year come near, and keep me company.

Nourish JoyYou’re so beautiful.


This is my response to the Weekly Photo Challenge theme of Early Bird, in which we were challenged to get up early and explore the morning light. As usual, nature’s visual’s carry my mind to the endless lessons I learn about life. I hope you enjoy.
Peace, Alexandria

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