Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Brenda Photo Challenge & Other Thoughts...

The Brenda Photo Challenge is today.  The category for this challenge is "wood".  To see my pictures, go to: Nita Jo's Photos.

To see the other photographer's entries, click on The Brenda Photo Challenge and follow the links.  This is a fun photography challenge.  They welcome amateurs like myself, and there are some very experienced photographers too.

Now on to other thoughts... 
I am amazed I got even two pictures ready.  I've got the sneezing, coughing, achy head, sore throat... junk!  I took my Alka-Seltzer so I'm feeling pretty good right now.  I just can't get back to sleep.  It's working out fine for me though.  I've been sorting through my photographs, doing a bit of organizing.  

Another job I started to tackle today was going through my books one by one.  I decided it is time to purge some of them out of my life.  I ran out of space on my bookshelves a long time ago, and I have several of them.  My beloved classics and childhood favorites will stay... Little Women, David Copperfield, Mary Poppins, Anne of Green Gables.  Also, staying are my Agatha Christie collection, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, all my C. S. Lewis, and many of my mystery books.  Some spiritual and inspirational books.  A few books of poetry.

That sounds like a lot, but if you could see my shelves... well, I have every book ever given to me, purchased by me, or left to me.  My love of reading started very early.  Books were a window into other lives and worlds.  They were magic carpet rides into foreign lands, where amazing adventures were waiting to be discovered.  What I will pass on are the books that were "one time only" reading quality.  Those that no longer speak to who I am.  They will go to other readers.  To friends, to libraries, or to second hand stores.  It will take more than a day or two, but I'm really looking forward to reclaiming some space in my home.

Wishing each of you a peaceful, blessed weekend.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sunday Scribblings - When Pigs Fly

This Sunday Scribblings prompt was fun:
When pigs fly!  When hell freezes over! Is there anything in your life that you are so certain of, you'd say these words?  What won't happen, "In a month of Sundays?"  

I chose to use "pie in the sky".  Click My Sunday Scribblings to read more of my writing.  Go to Sunday Scribblings to read what other writer's submitted.  This is the story I created:

Waiting for Pie

Cassie leaned on the pole fence looking up into the starry night.  "Getting daddy to agree to this marriage is just pie in the sky." she said softly.  "Pie in the sky?  What do you mean by that?"  Joe asked.  As he listened to her answer, he mentally traced the line across her brow, down the bridge of her nose, across the cheekbone, down the jawline, and rested on her lips.  Those pretty pink lips.

"Why, haven't you heard of pie in the sky?  Rev. Ike on the radio talks about it all the time.  It's like saying when hell freezes over, or something like that.  It's that dream that will probably never happen, at least in this lifetime."  She sighed deeply.  "My daddy thinks I'm too young to know my heart, and he thinks you're just an over-eager boy with no way of supporting a wife."  She giggled quietly, "Joe, are you an over-eager boy?"

Joe looked into her glistening eyes,  sheepishly he answered, "Well maybe I'm over-eager, but I'm no boy."  She had hit a nerve.  He went on, "I'm 21 years old.  I'm working six days a week at the Quicky Lube.  I can pay my rent and bills, and I still have enough left over to show you a night out on the town."  Clenching his jaw, he looked out into the dark North Carolina night.  Cassie reached over and placed her hand on his.  Hers soft and pale, his strong and bronzed.  In almost a whisper, she said, "Pie in the sky is special.  It doesn't happen every day, but I'm willing to wait for mine for as long as it takes."  "Oh baby, I love you," he groaned, as he pulled her into his arms, "I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make you mine.  If that means waiting, then I will wait."

copyright February 20, 2010 ajj

Footnote:  For the rest of their story, go HERE

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

One More Giveaway!

Karen Valentine, of My Desert Cottage, is hosting a Giveaway to celebrate reaching 500 followers.  She is giving away a pretty box she made, and she has filled it with all kinds of treasures.  You can enter the giveaway by going to My Desert Cottage, and leaving her a comment on the Giveaway post.  Karen makes all kinds of beautiful things.  I'm sure you'll enjoy visiting her blog.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

I hope each one of you is having a Happy Valentine's Day with someone you love, whether it's a sweetheart, a family member, or a dear friend.  And, if you find yourself alone today, do something that makes your heart happy.  

This image made me laugh when I saw it.  Take it if you like... it's a free image.  I don't have many, but if you click on the link it will take you to the other free images I've shared.

This has been a good day for me.  My writing muse kicked in again for the Sunday Scribblings prompt.  I must warn you that it's a sad story, so if you don't like sad you may want to skip reading this one.

My husband is baking sugar cookies for us to decorate, and eat, later this evening while we watch the Olympics.  There's a roast in the oven that will be ready in about two hours.  It smells so good already.  All we have to do is whip up some potatoes, make a vegetable dish or salad and we're set!  

The sun was shining most of the afternoon.  It was gorgeous.  People were out walking with their dogs, their families, or both!  There is now a grey cloud cover, but my happy sunshine feeling remains.

Sunday Scribblings - Ethics/Ethical

This is a short piece of fiction written for today's Sunday Scribblings prompt.  Go to Sunday Scribblings to read more writer's submissions.  Go to My Sunday Scribblings to read what I've written on other prompts.

 The Abyss

He stood there in his uniform looking proud.  A man to respect.  An upstanding man with strong ethics.  As he greeted people, they were obviously impressed by his stature.

Seated on the floor, next to the sofa in the little front room, they sat side by side.  Three little girls, solemn, quiet.  As their daddy made the rounds thanking people for their sympathy and for the food they brought, the girls were still, barely breathing.  The minister paused, then leaned down, "You girls will be fine.  You're lucky to have such a fine man for a father.  Don't worry, he will take good care of you."

They would remember this day for the rest of their lives.  Daddy looking so perfect, dazzling everyone with his high moral code, his ethics.  And, poor sweet mama in the pine box, under the ground.   They would remember what really put her there.  They would be thankful to have survived all the years in each new, horrid, little house.  They would keep their unspoken oath of silence.  The teacher had taught them well.  It wasn't for them to question a man of God, like their daddy.  He lived under a higher moral code.

Folks would wonder why those three lovely girls never married, living solitary lives.  Why didn't they practice the faith of their father?  How it would have broken their poor mama's heart to see what lives they chose to lead.  Such a shame.

The girls would wonder why folks could never look past the cloud of ethics and see into the dark abyss that was their daddy's heart.

copyright February 14, 2010 ajj

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Another Fantastic Giveaway

Sandi, of Wayside Treasures, is hosting a Valentine Giveaway to celebrate reaching 200 followers! The goodies she included are:   "Forever in Love" by June Cotner, a  gorgeous necklace that she picked up just for you {two sided}, a handmade heart with tattered roses {made by Sandi}, and she will also throw in some chocolate. ~ The winner's name will be drawn on Valentine's Day.  Go HERE to enter!  Please take some time to browse through Sandi's blog.  It's filled with all kinds of "eye candy" to inspire you.

Sunday Scribblings #198 - The Good Old Days

For this prompt, I decided to use a poem.  It expresses just a small moment in my "good old days" memories, but one I remember so vividly.  I imagined flying right out of the swing into the beautiful autumn sky.  A happy coincidence was finding this song, "Dream" by Priscilla Ahn, which goes along the same theme.  Before selecting "play" remember to go to the top of my page and pause my Playlist selections.

Here's my poem:

Taking Flight

My feet push against the earth
Higher, higher
The swing takes me up
To blue sky and then back again
Toes striking the soft, dusty brown earth
Pushing, pushing
Reaching for the sky
Imagination taking flight with the seagulls,
The robins, the wild geese
Grandma calls, “Dinner”
Releasing the chains I fly through
The air for an instant
Then feet connect firmly with the ground and
I go running back to reality and the mundane

Click on Sunday Scribblings to see what other writers came up with, and click My Sunday Scribblings for more of my work.  As with all my writing, journaling, photos and art, please do not reproduce or copy without express written permission.  Thank you for respecting my copyright.

"Taking Flight" Copyright January 11, 2010 ajj

Sunday Scribblings - Yes

I'm playing catch-up on some of the Sunday Scribbling prompts.  This one is "yes" #199.  To see other submissions go HERE.  To see more of mine, go HERE.  Below is what came to my mind from this prompt:

I cast aside weary thinking.  You know, the kind that beats you up over what you have not done... of dreams left behind... wasted years.   I could have, should have been... one long ago day, one moment in time.   

I used to dream of peace in the world, traveling, touching peoples lives.  Singing my heart, singing for change.  But the singing left me long ago.  Now it’s the writing... neglected for so many years, suddenly the words are banging inside my head wanting to get out.  I have to say yes today.  I have to make time to let it happen.  Let my fingers find the keys, the letters, form the words and get the stories onto the paper or the computer screen.  

Copyright January 11, 2010 ajj 

Sunday Scribblings - Message

This is a short piece of fiction I created for Sunday Scribblings.  To read posts from other participants, click HERE.  To read my older submissions click HERE

The Message

She stared at the phone.  No message, nothing.  How long since anyone had called?  It was just too much to take.  Tears streamed down her cheeks, falling, leaving the evidence of their journey on the legs of her blue jeans.

When had she become obsolete?  When had she disappeared into a place where the silence was so deep that there were no longer friends, or even messages from friends?  Maybe the machine was broken.  She gathered up some change and left the apartment.  About a block away was a payphone.  It felt odd standing there.  Pay phones were quickly becoming extinct because so many people now carried cell phones.  She might too, except for the tight budget she was on.

Dropping the change into the slot, she listened for the dial tone and then began to punch in her number.  There it was, the distant ringing of the phone.  After six or seven times, the machine picked up.  “Hi!  I’m not here, but I hate to miss your call.  Please leave me a message after the tone and I’ll call you back.”   She heard the tone.  Without thinking, she began to speak, “Hi Stacy, how have things been?  You are a good person.  You should have lots of friends lining up to spend time with you.  Don’t be sad when they don’t leave messages.  Life just gets so busy.  It doesn’t mean you are not loved.”

Stacy looked at the receiver in her hand, and then hung it up.  She walked quickly home, unlocked the door, and went immediately to the telephone.  One message, it said, the red light blinking.  She pressed the button and listened to the message.  It made her smile.  When it reached the end, Stacy pressed save.  There would always be a message waiting for her now.  A message that someone cared.  It didn’t matter that it was from her.  Doesn’t being loved, start with learning to love yourself?  That’s what she’d always been told.  Stacy walked into the kitchen and picked up the cup of pills she’d been planning to take.  She poured them down the disposal, turned the water on and flicked the switch.  A second of grinding was all it took.  Her shoulders felt lighter.  She could breathe again.  Somewhere deep inside of her a voice had cried out and she had heard it.  Message received. 

Copyright February 11, 2010 ajj (revised from original 01-13-10)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Giveaway at The Feathered Nest!

Here is another wonderful Giveaway.  It's at The Feathered Nest.  

Dawn is celebrating 3 years of blogging.  If you've never taken a look at her blog, go now!  She has one of those blogs that you have to visit daily, because she shares so much.

To go directly to the Giveaway post just click on the image.  The Giveaway ends Sunday night, February 14th, 6 PM EST.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Giveaways and A Night Out

Donna, of Brynwood Needleworks is hosting two Giveaways!  The first is a Valentine's Giveaway and the second is The Brynwood Needleworks 200th Follower Giveaway.  Donna has put together an amazing assortment of items for each of the giveaways.  To sign up go HERE and look for the two separate posts.

Stephanie of Rose Petals and Rust is hosting "A Sweet Giveaway" and this lovely necklace is the prize.  It is a soldered charm necklace with vintage lace and a forget me not inside.  To enter this giveaway, go HERE.

I try to post links to all the giveaways I know about.  There are so many generous and talented people in the land of blogging. 

Sometime, hopefully in the very near future, I will be hosting one of my own.

Now on to other things.  I had the most amazing time last evening.  For the second day in a row, I was feeling well enough to get out of the house.  My cousin Laurie treated Lana (my lil sis) and I to dinner out.  It was so nice to go out to a restaurant.  The meal was delicious, but the best part was the visiting.  We always find so many things to talk and laugh about.  I was glad the restaurant wasn't busy, so we didn't feel rushed.  Gathering together with people you love is like a mini vacation.  It lifted my spirits and reminded me how important it is to keep connections with family and friends.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Belated Thank you notes... and Visiting Grandma

Susie of  From My Home To Yours  hosted a Give Away last fall for this vintage copy of "The Susie Book" and I was the winner.  To go right to the October Give Away Post click HERE! To make things easier, I will call this Susie, "Blogger Susie", and my Susie, "Pastor Susie" (fitting because she is one of my pastors).  The contest was to celebrate Blogger Susie's birthday.  She asked each person to write about a Susie they knew, and why we thought this book should be passed to our Susie.

It took this long to post a "Thank You" because I hadn't given the book Pastor Susie yet, and I knew that she occasionally read my blog.  I didn't want to spoil the surprise.  I intended it for Christmas, but I was laid up and unable to drive.  Next plan was for her birthday... still unable to drive, so after this long story... today was the day!  I was able to get out of the house for a couple of hours.  It felt so good to drive again.  I dropped in on Pastor Susie at her office and finally gave her the book.  It was fun to win, but even more fun to pass the book along to Pastor Susie!

I just want to thank Blogger Susie for hosting the Give Away.  Take some time to visit her beautiful blog.  She has a lot of fun decorating ideas, and loves antiques and gardening. 

My friend, Donna of Cottage Days and Journeys hosted her Give Away to celebrate her two-year blogging anniversary.  To read Donna's post go HERE.  The prize was a lovely polymer clay pen, shown below with my dream journal and notebook.  I love the swirly purple and green colors, and it writes beautifully.  The pen was made by Jackie of The Pleasant Pheasant.  To see Jackie's other creations, visit her Etsy shop HERE

I hope you'll take a moment to visit Donna's blog HERE.  She writes about her life, her travels, and shares her talent in photography.  It's always a pleasure to sit down and visit there for a while.

The other blessing of getting out of the house was getting to visit my Grandma.  I hadn't gotten to see her since November.  I had tried talking with her over the telephone a couple of times, but she doesn't do well on the phone anymore.  I'm always amazed, and so blessed, to find that she still knows me.  Her memory comes and goes, but as soon as I said "Hi Grandma" she reached for a hug and said "There's my girl."  She was sitting up in her wheelchair at the dining table.  It was about 30 minutes till dinner and the staff was starting to get everyone seated.  As I sat there and took her hand, she took hold with both of hers.  

It's not always easy when a loved one begins to lose their memory.  You never know from one visit to the next what they will remember.  There were several times when she faded a bit and didn't respond, so we just sat.  She laughed a little when I asked her to sing me a song.  Whenever I hear Mahalia Jackson sing, it reminds me of my Grandma singing.  That's why I keep a couple of her songs on my playlist.  I grew up hearing Grandma singing.  She had a very low alto, almost tenor voice.  She taught me to harmonize.  We used to do duets together... that seems so long ago now.  Beautiful, precious memories that I treasure.  I have been so blessed in my life.

Copyright February 02, 2010 ajj

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sunday Scribblings - Milestone

Reaching 2010 is a milestone... a marker in my journey.  I've been looking back over the past 10 years.  They have been years of change... there has been fear, joy, sadness, faith, loss, miracles.  I want to share about some.

Ten years ago, the year 2000.  Life was pretty good... then in June came the news that I'd both feared and expected.  "You have Multiple Sclerosis."  My mom and I sat without speaking for a moment.  I asked the usual questions. What is the next step?  How bad will this get?  Are there treatments?  The neurologist went through everything step by step... yearly MRI's, injections, the exacerbations, possible results; blindness, loss of kidney and bowel function, becoming paralyzed, loss of mental acuity, the list went on.  While we sat and listened, I held the terror inside.  I know my mom did too.  We made plans for the next visit, politely said our goodbyes and headed for the car.  Somewhere in the lobby I felt my breath catch in my throat, mom reached for my hand and the tears came.  Not the loud sobbing kind.  The quietly streaming tears, pain in the chest and throat, unable to take a breath or to speak kind.  "It will be ok." mom said through her own tears.  That was the beginning.  There were more trials to come.  More losses.

A lot of what happened in the past 10 years is a blank page to me.  I don't really know if it was due to the MS affecting my concentration, or if it was a signal that the stress had gotten to be too much. 

Illness and loss are things so many families deal with.  I bounced back and forth from being plagued with fear and "what ifs" to being in a place of complete faith and peace.  Right now, I am listening to Mahalia Jackson singing "Take My Hand Precious Lord".  As always, I am struck by how much her singing reminds me of my Grandmother's singing.  It's one of those small things that lift my spirit.

I am now on a search for the missing memories of the last 10 years.  I've been combing photographs and letters.  I'm finding the joyful moments that had somehow faded into obsolescence for me.  In ten years, there were heartaches, but there was also great joy.  Even as I look at my journey with MS, I see hope.  There was a point where I had to be helped to stand.  The dizziness and muscle spasms required me to use a walker.  I progressed from the walker to a cane, and then one day I was able to lay the cane aside.  Recently, a few symptoms have returned which require some use of the cane again, but still I rejoice.  I am nowhere near as disabled as was predicted.  Some of the "white spots" on my brain disappeared and the newer ones were very small.  I know some of this is medicine, but I believe that much of it was due to faith and prayer.

As I reach my ten year milestone in June, I will remind myself that loss is part of living.  I will remember the joys I was privileged to share.  My focus is on living each day.  When I do look toward the future, I do it with eyes of faith and it looks bright.

Copyright February 01, 2010 ajj

Good Morning!

It's 3:06 AM... I know, I know... I should be sleeping.  I decided to do a "quick" February update on my blog.  It's taken a lot longer than I anticipated, and it's still not quite what I wanted.  I'll try again later on.  For now, it's time for a nap!