Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Revenge

About a week ago, when reading my Bible, I came upon a paragraph that made me laugh out loud. The Bible is many things, serious, majestic, sometimes frightening, full of love, but funny? Not usually. I was reading in the book of Luke. Here is the passage - Luke 9:51-56:

"When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village."

Picture the above scene. I can tell you that I would have been just like James and John - how funny is their request? As if Jesus was the local Mafia guy and, having been disrespected, takes out his revenge on those who "dissed" him. Then, after James and John ask Jesus if he wants them to torch the place, I can just see Jesus rolling his eyes heavenward - or, Three Stooges like, a quick smack, smack on the tops of James and John's heads....."he....rebuked them." I'm sure Jesus did neither, but let them know their attitude was inappropriate. But for some reason, when I read the above passage, I just burst out laughing and pictured the irreverent response of Jesus. Perhaps I watched too many Warner Brothers cartoons when I was a child......

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!


I haven't written in a while. First I was working, and now that I'm off, my sister is here visiting, so I haven't been blogging much.

However, it is now Christmas Eve and I hope everyone is getting ready to have a wonderful holiday. Tomorrow my sister, my husband and I drive up to where my parents live. My dad is 89 and my mom is 80 and they're still on their own. My oldest sister and her significant other will be there - and it'll be a family reunion. The sister that is staying with me doesn't live in Florida, so we're not a full family very often. My oldest sister lives about 2 hours away - and we're both equidistant from my mother and father's house. So tomorrow we'll all be together. My cry for the New Year is: "Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly." I'm thinking the Rapture of the Church isn't far off - and it is my fondest hope and desire as the world grows ever darker.

All praise to Him who was born (perhaps on Dec. 25, perhaps not) - the Lord Jesus Christ - to die for the sins of the world, for our sins, so that we, by believing in Him, could spend eternity with Him.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bail Out The Taxpayer!!

As you can see, I've added a widget to the left side of my blog called, "Bail Out the Taxpayer". It links to an article by Newt Gingrich calling for a 90 day cessation of Federal Income Tax - the taxpayer would get to keep their OWN MONEY - what a concept! We could actually get OURSELVES out of trouble, rather than billionaires who don't deserve it!! Don't forget once you get to the article site - go to the bottom and click the link for the petition and add your name to the list of signers!! Here is the complete widget since my side panel cuts off the right edge of it:

Hey, here's an idea, Nancy Murtha O'Reid. How about you bail out the American taxpayer? Instead of swizzling around hundreds of billions in a fruitless central-planning exercise, cut federal income taxes to zero for 90 days. For every taxpayer. I can guaran-dam-tee that less mortgages will fall behind, more cars will be purchased, retail will go nuts, etc.

Asheville Photos

Finally - Asheville photos. First, photos while driving around Asheville - I literally took these while driving so they're not very good, but some of the buildings were so majestic I had to take the pictures anyway. It was a very dark and cold day in Asheville - but I loved it. It felt so Christmasy to me and whenever I went back to Grove Park Inn, all the beautiful decorated trees and the giant fireplace made it so cozy and warm inside.

This Episcopal church was at Macon and Charlotte Street on the way down from Grove Park Inn.



This is an old stone building that looks like it's being used as apartments. It was kind of messy outside, but it looked like it had a noble history.


Huge First Baptist Church in downtown Asheville.



Asheville street view while driving.



Another Asheville street view while driving.


Old house turned into Christian Bookstore on Haywood outside of Asheville.



Back of old house/Christian Bookstore that appears to be falling apart.



Inside of old house/Christian Bookstore - everything is stuffed and jumbled, but very cosy. The old house had character - the mantle/fireplace was where the register was. The floors squeaked and moaned - I loved it.



The portal to the used book section. This was the second Christian Bookstore I went to in the Asheville area that had used books. Old used books, hardcover, some from the 1800's. I was hooked.



Back out on the streets of Asheville, headed back to Grove Park Inn, my car full of old Christian books.

Long street ahead, mountains in distance.



Detail from an old building painted purple, except for the old ad signs.



Same purple building toward the front.



Toward the S&W Cafeteria building.



Closer to the S&W Cafeteria Building.



The S&W Cafeteria Building is not a cafeteria anymore, but shops of some sort in downtown Asheville. It is a beautiful building, though and I couldn't help but take it's picture.


And now - the Grove Park Inn. This is actually the back view. There is a terrace where you can sit and look toward Asheville in the distance and the mountains beyond that. There is an underground spa recently added to the Grove Park Inn. The services are WAY out of my budget. $100.00 for a pedicure. $250.00 for a massage, but it is a spectacular place. You enter the spa through underground rock caverns, lit with soothing dim lanterns. Mini waterfalls line the way, tinkling down the rocks, and there is music from hidden speakers that is Celtic in sound. The picture above is taken from the outdoor entrance to the spa lobby. What a magnificent place! Here is the web site so you can explore, too



This is one of the giant fireplaces in the original lobby of the inn. If you go to the history section of the Grove Park Inn site, you'll see that this is original and has not been changed. There is another fireplace of the same size facing this one across the giant great room. There are rocking chairs lining this fireplace and they are always filled, so you have to wait for someone to leave to sit down and enjoy the fire. It is worth the wait. Since it is the Christmas season, everything was festive and beautifully decorated. The day this picture was taken, there was a group of adults and a 1st grade class from an elementary school in Asheville singing Christmas carols - in the great lobby next to the fireplace.



This is one of the long hallways leading to the lobby area. Each of these on each floor were lined every so many yards with differently decorated Christmas trees. You can see that there are also rocking chairs facing the windows, looking out over the view.
video
The above video is from my non-high-techy phone. You can see the gentleman tending the fire - that shows you how huge the fireplace is. Then I move to the right, past the small wooden bar where you can get some potent Irish Coffee to warm you, to the area where the Grove Park Inn workers assisted by the elementary school children begin to sing a Christmas Carol. It was SO lovely, and a memory I will cherish.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How Full of Grace is God

Let me be the first to tell you that of so many Christians I can name, I am the least. This is not false humility - this is the truth. I zig when God wants me to zag, and that's not the least of it.

Well - the Lord blessed me this week with a wonderful vacation trip. My husband has had to go to Asheville, NC on a business trip, and, since we took no vacation in October, I went with him on this one, mostly paid for by his place of work. We have to pay some of my expenses, but that is minimal when you consider the blessings. We are staying at the famous Grove Park Inn on a mountainside overlooking Asheville. To say it is healing to my spirit, that the nature all around us is magnificent, would be an understatement.

The Lord has been with us from the time we hurriedly left our home in Florida to get to the airport on time, to this very moment that I am typing this in a beautful room overlooking some misty, clouded, cold and windy - but ever so Christmasy to this northern soul - mountains.

There are Christmas trees every few feet in this inn, and they are decorated beautifully, although my favorite is the one decorated with natural items from the mountains.

I will post some pictures when I get back home, but for now I just wanted to share how blessed I am - and certainly NOT because I deserve it in any way, shape or form!!

There is a giant - maybe 15 feet across and about 10 feet deep - fireplace (and that is only the open area where the flames are - it is surrounded by a wall of rock) with rocking chairs in front of it. There are Christmas carols being sung by a group and poincettias everywhere. You look out the windows and the sky is overcast and dark, low gray scudding clouds are touching, then obscuring the mountaintops - and it is oh SO cosy inside this great stone inn.

I've found two used Christian bookstores - something I've never seen before, so I've bought some wonderful old titles.

In all of this, my goal is not to make others feel bad, but to let everyone know that the Lord God is a giving Father, one who waits to pour out wonders upon His children.

Now, before you think I believe in a prosperity Gospel, let me say that the blessings I am experiencing here are the kind He knows I would particularly love. I was born in a rural, mountain community, and I have not lived in that type of area since I was 23 years old - and I am now 52. Mountain places sing to my soul, they comfort me as nothing else can, and we could not afford to go on our once a year vacation in October to the NC mountains - so the Father had something better in mind. A pre-Christmas trip to those same mountains, but paid for by someone else mostly. We could never afford to stay at Grove Park Inn, and I am not going to the spa part of the inn that is also quite famous. The services at the spa here are unbelievably expensive.

The Lord knows what makes me tick - after all He made me. He knows I love the countryside, wildlife, old books. I could care less about the spa treatments - although I love a good massage, but not at these prices!! I'd be too stressed to enjoy the massage! The Lord made sure I passed a small Bird Sanctuary on Beaver Lake, and He made sure there were hundreds of birds all taking their afternoon repast yesterday when I walked through. I do have some pictures of that I'll be posting when I get home.

The Lord also made sure I found two out of the way Christian bookstores, both full of used books - some of which are over 100 years old. One of the bookstores was in an old, dilapidated, but picturesque house. The girl that worked there was wearing three layers of clothes to stay warm and had a heater by her feat. She was quite young and expecting a child soon. The second Christian bookstore was in the opposite direction and was off the beaten track as far as Asheville is concerned.

We may go to the Biltmore - just to see it decorated for Christmas - I don't care about all the rest of the folderol. All I know is that I am feeling a little bit what it will be like in heaven for me. The Lord Jesus shows me His love in so many ways - and He sure knows what makes my heart sing with joy.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Icy Memories

I was reading Coffee, Tea, Books & Me this morning and Brenda mentioned having to walk carefully down the driveway to get the newspaper because of the icy surface.
I have lived in South Florida since 1979, but I remember the first year of my (first) marriage when we lived in an apartment in my home town in upstate NY.
There was a washer and dryer room in the basement of the center building. There were about 7-9 buildings in total. I was not in the building that housed the washer and dryer room, so I had to gather our dirty clothes, shove them in the carry basket, put on all my winter clothes and then navigate the sidewalks to the building with the laundry room. The maintenance men put salt on the sidewalks leading directly to our buildings, but for some reason, they didn't put any on the connecting sidewalks between the buildings. The sidewalk leading to the laundry room was particularly treacherous. My home town was a hilly town and the area where our apartment was was no exception. In the summer this was not an issue, but in the winter, the sidewalk leading to the cement stairs down to the laundry room (all of which was open to the cold winter sky) was not only not salted, but it faced downhill.
The possibility of slipping down the sidewalk, and then falling down the 10 or 12 cement stairs, also icy, to the laundry room floor was a very real danger.
The only way to make it safely? Sit down. On the icy sidewalk. And slide on my bum down to the steps, also sliding on my bum down each step until I reached the safety of the basement floor. I think I pulled the basket behind me - how I got IT down the stairs without tipping it I don't remember.
I look back on that now with amusement, but it was a real chore back then. Sometimes, I'd be carrying my clothes back and I'd have forgotten to bring a plastic bag, and they'd get wet with rain or snow.
I can't imagine how I'd negotiate icy sidewalks now. I'm much older, much heavier and more delicate than I was then - I think I'd be traveling by sitting down on ice a LOT if I lived in a climate where iced walkways and driveways were common.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Off to Work

Before I get dressed and ready for work, here is Psalm 11, that I read this morning:

Psa 11:1 To the choirmaster. Of David. In the LORD I take refuge; how can you say to my soul, "Flee like a bird to your mountain,
Psa 11:2 for behold, the wicked bend the bow; they have fitted their arrow to the string to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
Psa 11:3 if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"
Psa 11:4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD's throne is in heaven; his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
Psa 11:5 The LORD tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
Psa 11:6 Let him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
Psa 11:7 For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face.

I highlighted Psalm 11:3. That phrase means "what do the righteous do when everything falls apart, all the foundations of civilization and government fall apart", according to my ESV Study Bible (my own words of what I read there). It makes sense to me, and is quite apropos in these days of history that we are living in.

The answer to the question? Psalm 11:4-7. The Lord is the REAL foundation and He remains in place unmoved by the failures of men and their organizations. That is who the righteous (the believer) looks to - the Lord who sees all, knows all and who loves His children.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Wounded Friend

I have a blog friend whom I read every day, every post that she writes. She is one of my absolute favorite blogs because she is a wonderful testimony for faith in Christ under pressure. Christians can write all day long about what they believe, but when the rubber hits the road, I want to read the words of someone who has already been down the road of suffering ahead of me - and is Victorious in Christ!! Someone who reflects Christ more every day in her attitude and in the witness of her blog.

The blog I am talking about is Coffee, Tea, Books and Me. Recently, the writer of this blog posted one of her "stock up the pantry" entries. The point is that times are economically hard and getting harder, especially for those on fixed incomes or very low incomes. This lady is in that position and continues to persevere beautifully under the load. She has pitifully little to stock up with - as in, money, to buy those items one needs extra of, so that when prices go up and up, you have enough of that item to keep you and your family for a while.

She and her husband have visited area food banks to supplement their food needs, something she may have to do more of in the future, as they are on a very low fixed income.

Because her blog is meant to be a comforting, loving place, she does not give every detail of her life, so she doesn't mention how dire their circumstances are at times. If you have any discernment at all, read between the lines, and you'll have an idea of what this lady is up against. I have been reading her blog for a couple of years now, and every once in a while, some nasty self-righteous person visits and posts a judgemental, accusing, hurtful comment. Usually these people are named, "Anonymous", since they have probably only visited once or twice. Blogs are very personal things. If you don't like what someone says on a blog, don't read it and - for heaven's sake - don't post comments there.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today's Bible Reading

I don't have to work until late today - I go in at 11:00AM. That gives me plenty of time to soak in the beautiful, cool morning sun (we had a reinforcing cold front last night that brought the pre-sunrise temperatures here to the 40's). My computer is in front of a window that looks out towards the southeast, so the sun comes pouring in, shedding it's clear light on my pink and salmon colored Bougainvillea, s well as the mostly green Cape Honeysuckle that Iggy the Iguana lives in. The cape honeysuckle blooms bright orange flowers, but I have to fertilize and water (and I haven't done so) so the blooms are not so plentiful. I can also see purple Mexican Petunias from my window.






















The bottom photo is what I see when I sit in my chair at my computer and look out the window. The top photo is what I see if I stand up and look out. It is beautiful, and a gift from God.

Here is a photo of Iggy's brother. I couldn't find Iggy, the original - he had moved since I first saw him this morning. It was COLD this morning for an iguana, so he is soaking up as much sun as he can get.
















Anyway - you may be asking what the heck this has to do with Bible reading. Well.....as I look out my window, it is impossible not to give thanks for the glory that God has given us, even in these uncertain times. How peaceful and beautiful it all is viewed from my little window. I can even see green monk parakeets on the electrical wires behind my back yard. They are getting ready to come down and eat some black oil sunflower seeds I put out a little while ago. They are gregarious and fussy birds. They often get into tiffs over placement on the wire or on the feeders, and when they do that, the noise is quite loud and raucous.

Back to the original purpose of this post. Here is what I read from "Valley of Vision" first to get my mind in gear for the Word:

If you own this book, it is on page 282, and the prayer is called, "God All-Sufficient":

"O Lord of Grace,
The world is before me this day,
and I am weak and fearful,
but I look to thee for strength;
If I venture forth alone I stumble and fall,
but on the Beloved's arms I am firm
as the eternal hills;
If left to the treachery of my heart
I shall shame thy Name,
but if enlightened, guided, upheld by thy Spirit,
I shall bring thee glory.
Be thou my arm to support,
my strength to stand,
my light to see,
my feet to run,
my shield to protect,
my sword to repel,
my sun to warm.
To enrich me will not diminish thy fulness;
All thy lovingkindness is in thy Son,
I bring him to thee in the arms of faith,
I urge his saving Name asd the One who died for me.
I please his blood to pay my debts of wrong.
Accept his worthiness for my unworthiness,
his sinlessness for my transgressions,
his purity for my uncleanness,
his sincerity for my guile,
his truth for my deceits,
his meekness for my pride,
his constancy for my backslidings,
his love for my enmity,
his fullness for my emptiness,
his faithfulness for my treachery,
his obedience for my lawlessness,
his glory for my shame,
his devotedness for my waywardness,
his holy life for my unchaste ways,
his righeousness for my dead works,
his death for my life."

That is so very powerful for the days in which we live. The world is a very scary place these days, but God in in control, and He is my Father, so what have I to fear?

Next, I read Luke 5:1-11, where Jesus recruits Peter, James and John. First, Jesus has a huge crowd following him. Peter, James and John are off washing their nets after an unsuccessful night trying to catch fish. I wonder what they are thinking as they see the crowd approach. Jesus sees their two boats and asks Peter to take Him out a little ways from land in the boat, which Peter does. So there is Peter sitting in the boat with Jesus, as Jesus teaches the huge crowd - giving the Gospel message which at that time still included the possibility that the Jews would accept their Messiah right then and there (although God knew they would not, but it was offered anyway). Peter must be sitting back, listening to the whole thing, and he is believing. The crowd must be jealous a little because Peter gets to be so close to Jesus during this entire teaching - right in the boat with Him. (Of course I always picture a small canoe sized boat, but that wouldn't be accurate if they are trying to bring in a net's haul of fish, so it must be some size larger than that for sure!)

When Jesus is done teaching, he doesn't get back out of the boat. He addresses Peter - He suggests that Peter take the boat out into the deep part of the lake and let down the nets. Peter calls Him "Master" and lets Him know that they had no luck the night before, but because He has asked it, Peter does it. Of course, you know what happened next. The nets filled with so many fish that Peter had to signal James and John on the shore to get in their boat and come out to help him haul the nets up. I'm sure Jesus helped them, too - pulling and tugging on the huge haul of fish.

When Peter saw what had happened and knew Jesus had made it happen, he acknowledged Him as Lord and Messiah. Jesus had his first disciples, and He calmly told them, "Don't worry, now you'll be fishers of men." (not literal - my wording). And the last words in Luke 5:11? "And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him."

Everything. That was it - no more fishing. He caught Peter, John and James hook, line and sinker, so to speak. I wonder what Peter's wife thought of all this. Remember when Jesus cures Peter's mother in law of a fever? So Peter was married. Just put yourself in her shoes - how will they pay their bills, raise their children (if there were any)? Once she met Him, I bet she understood completely. At least I hope so.

And that's my Bible reading for today. I'm off to get dressed and go to work now - where I will need to apply that prayer from "Valley of Vision" at the beginning of my post. I have a great job, but I need Him every minute of every day.
















By the way - this is a cape honeysuckle flower. I think Iggy is eating them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Funny Lizard Story

Our internet went down. We have Comcast wireless and our modem is over 4 years old, so we wonder if the modem is losing it sometimes. Also, from where the cable wire enters the house, there are several splitters, so that may be an issue too.

What we did NOT count on was a lizard, a baby iguana, to be exact. It was 7:00PM, and I was ready to relax and spend some time on the internet. My sister called me and wanted me to view a web page she had made, but the internet was sooooooo slooooow, like the Slowskis times 10. I tried restarting my computer, since the first law of Technology Repair is restart. That didn't help; in fact, the modem "online" light just kept blinking and I could now get NO internet at all.

I got to work. I put on my sandals and grabbed a flashlight and went outside to the back yard where the cable wire (we have Comcast) comes from the telephone pole to our house and then the splitter insanity begins. There is a splitter on the outside of the house. The wire goes into the back room, formerly the garage, and outside it splits off, and the new wire heads for the bedroom on the opposite end of the house. It travels up over the screened in porch and then travels along the underside of the roof to a hole in the wall and into my inner sanctum - the bedroom at the other end of the ersatz garage.

I trundled outside to see if any branches from our many overgrown bushes were infringing upon the precious life-bringing internet wire, but I saw none on the old garage side. As I moved to the side where my bedroom/inner sanctum is, I shone the flashlight on the wire and......what is this?? A baby iguana was draped and balanced on top of the wire, fast asleep, his exquisite greenness limp and his eyes closed (or what passes for eyelids on lizards were closed over his eyes). I saw this guy first on Saturday of this past weekend and tried to catch him then.

I'm an animal and nature lover. I just wanted to hold him for a moment - to admire him up close, let my husband photograph him and then let him go. But on Saturday, he was too fast - and I could not catch him.

However, at night, the power is on my side since lizards aren't great at night time sight. I touched this iggy's back claw and he didn't even wake up. I wondered if he was dead, but when I persevered in touching him, he opened his eyes and moved forward a bit, disoriented at what could be attacking him at night.

I was able to reach up and grasp him about the midsection and - I had achieved my goal - I was holding the baby iggy.

Here is one of the pictures my husband took. I was so proud of myself, went right onto the porch and called Hubby so he could rush to get the camera and photo my Iggy boy.

Hubby had been messing with the internet wires trying to get something to work.



















Isn't he beautiful? He is shedding his old skin, which I tried to help him with, but when I discovered it didn't come off easily, I stopped, not wanting to hurt him.

All in all - a total win win. I got to finally hold the baby iggy, the internet went back on due to nothing we can figure out - and here I am posting the entire adventure.

I love lizards!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'm Still Here

I voted early, and then went to sleep early on November 4. I couldn't stand to watch the talking heads conjecture on and on. When I woke up on November 5, my husband told me Obama had won.

Along with the deepening recession/depression and the sense of catastrophe that wafts in the air, some days stronger and some days not as strong, hearing that a socialist had won the Presidency of the US was a reminder that we are truly in a downturn in this country. Unless Mr. Obama does things differently than conservatives expect, he will bring the last of the ramparts down around our ears.

That said, my Lord is in charge of history, and the US is probably on schedule for an a$$ whooping, since we don't need God, don't believe He exists and our policies regarding the sanctity of life echo that disregard.

I feel darkness around me at work, where many are just thrilled to see Obama win. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is giving me little nudges that the times, they are definitely a-changing, but not for the better.

More prayer, more immersion in the Word, more time with my Lord - in preparation for the future that only He knows. I gain inspiration and comfort from this blog. The lady at Coffe, Tea, Books & Me bids us remember the grace of the Lord toward His children.

We are in the midst of redemption, the time of His coming is getting closer and closer. I can tell you, I am more than ready to call it quits on this planet and move into the Heavenly realm.

If I have any readers left, since I'm not timely in my posts, do any of you feel the same way? A sense of expectancy, a sense of dread? As if we have put our ear to the ground and hear the dull roar of a distant buffalo stampede coming closer? If you feel the same, leave a post.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Comes First


I don't know about you, but I get tired of seeing Christmas merchandise in stores before Halloween. Granted, Halloween has become almost as decoration intensive as Christmas, so retail owners don't want to short one money filled holiday to advertise another. But Thanksgiving? You cannot find it mixed in with Halloween and Christmas. There are a few "Harvest" decorations in stores, but harvest is not completely what Thanksgiving is all about. Yes, the harvest had come in for the Pilgrims and they were celebrating - but they were celebrating God's care of them by thanking Him en masse for all His provision.


So let's concentrate on Thanksgiving first, not just for the holiday, but in our lives every day as well.


Go to this site to sign up and to carry the Thanksgiving First message on your blog:


http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com/2008/10/thanksgiving-comes-first.html

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Friendship

This lovely lady so generously passed on the Friendship award to me and my blog:









I love the design of this award, the different mug designs, the warm cocoa or coffee or tea that I imagine to be in each cup. In a virtual kind of way, each day, I share a hot, comforting beverage with many of the bloggers on my side panel listing. We may not sit at the same table, or even at a table. Some of us are in our jammies and some of us might be at work. Some sit at a desk or in an easy chair with a laptop. But, in the spiritual realm, we meet and extend the hand of friendship and caring for each other. I know of some who have transcended the virtual world of blogging and have either met their blogfriends physically, or they have read of a need and clicked on a Paypal button to donate, or have sent thoughtful, caring gifts by mail. The internet has extended the world of friendship in a wonderful way. Where there used to be penpals, now there are blogpals, and my life is so much richer because of this. Thank you Cathy - and all of the blogfriends I have out there in blogland.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Chapter 2 - Sassie and Ninnie

I'm sharing a portion of the book, "From Scenes Like These, Life in a Christian Family", by Ethel Wallace, copyright 1945. To read from the beginning, go here.

Now for Chapter 2, called, "Sassie and Ninnie."

Mother and Sassie and Ninnie had always lived together and felt toward each other as sisters, in spite of the great difference in their ages. Sassie and Ninnie were the eldest children of Grandma's eldest sister, Aunt Mary, who with a large family even for those days, was called on by her husband to leave their home in the East and go to the "wild and woolly" state of Ohio. As traveling was rough and life there difficult, she left her two oldest girls to be raised and educated by her sister. Many were the tales which came from Aunt Mary of pioneer hardships - of terrifying visits from Indians who would leave only after they had been given a chicken or a side of ham or something to wear. To the young woman raised in Philadelphia, it was a trying experience.

Aunt Mary had named the eldest daughter, Sarah Jane, after two of her sisters, and the second daughter, Virginia Isabel, the first name after a heroine of one of her favorite novels, the second after her husband's first wife. When we children were learning to talk we changed the names "Cousin Sallie and Jennie" into "Sassie and Ninnie" which nicknames were their delight, although it was often suggested by others that they were neither appropriate nor complimentary. But so they remained, and were used by all the children of the community.

Sassie and Ninnie lived on the third floor, their rooms filled with heavy Colonial and Victorian furniture. Ninnie's room, much smaller than Sassie's, was crowded by a huge wardrobe where her few dresses hung almost lost in the vastness. On her walls were framed prints, one of Saint Cecilia being visited by angels, the other of Evangeline dreaming of her lost lover.

Ninnie was "a lady" in everything she said or did and inspired in us awe as well as affection. She had enormous gray eyes much too large for her frail delicate face. Tall and painfully thin, she carried herself with a dignity becoming a queen. Such slenderness was considered a detriment in those days so she always wore ruffs and starched things to make her stick out here and there in the right places as she swept through the rooms in her long dresses. Her clothes and person were always immaculate although a new dress was such a rarity with her that I can only recall three. When she went out, even if it were just to the corner, she wore gloves and a bonnet tied under her pointed chin.

It was a period when delicate ladies were very much in style, and almost every family could boast of one who was in a state of decline. All our family even to the distant relatives were filled with anxiety and solicitude for Ninnie. She could eat scarcely anything and do nothing in the way of housework except see to Sassie's and her rooms. Occasionally when she was feeling at her best she would make some sugar cookies which she worried over as she mixed them and guarded carefully when baked, counting them out one by one. She never could go anywhere because she was always laid low with a sick headache the very day she had expected to start. Yet she lived to be seventy-three and as far as I can remember never had a severe illness although a prolonged coughing period in the early morning was part of her daily routine. I sometimes wonder whether if she had lived today when sickness no longer seems attractive and women do so much hard work in the world, she could not have done her share.

Ninnie was a dreamer and romanticist and outside of the walls which she inhabited, her spirit soared in search of beauty and elegance. She and Mother were very close in their relation and would spend long hours in conversation, sometimes discussing things that had happened that day, oftener what had occurred years before. It was a relaxation for Mother and an inspiration for Ninnie, for her life was very confined and uninteresting it seemed to us children. The greatest excitement I ever remember her having was when she went to town one day before Christmas and had the bag in which she was carrying twenty-five dollars which she had saved up all year for Christmas presents for the family stolen by a pickpocket. She was a nervous wreck when she returned home, but was provided with a dramatic incident to relate again and again in years to come.

Ninnie had had one beau in her youth, she modestly boasted to us girls. She had met Thedy Eustick on one of her visits to cousins in the country. He was so shy that he hadn't come to see her, but when she returned to the city, he had written her a letter signed, "With love, Your Thedy."

It was thought dishonorable for a young lady to receive continued attentions from a young gentleman unless she expected to marry him. I can well remember Ninnie's horror-filled eyes as she listened to the gleeful account of numerous proposals and rejections by an attractive relative from the South where innocent flirtations have always been in vogue.

One of the incidents which Ninnie recalled oftenest was her visit to the stormy sessions of the General Assembly of our Church which met in Philadelphia at the start of the Civil War. When a group of Northerners insisted that the Southerners swear allegiance to the flag, the latter in a body left the Assembly and the Church. Although not at all in sympathy with the Southern position, Ninnie anonymously sent flowers to the offended commissioners, feeling that they had been treated in an ungracious manner.

Sassie's room was very large. In the center a marble-topped table on which was a big oil lamp topped by a white china shade, and a huge cookie jar set purposely in a conspicuous and handy position, and a small pile of books on top of which lay a shabby, much-read Bible. On the walls hung life-sized photographs in oval walnut frames of an old and well-loved pastor and of a niece who had died as a beautiful young girl. On top of the Sheraton bureau and sewing table were trinkets which we had brought her from our trips, marked conspicuously with the names of the places visited as was customary in souvenirs of those days. A blue and white Sheffield china pitcher and basin stood on a small wash-stand in an inconspicuous corner.

But the bed in Sassie's room was the most interesting of all her furniture - a huge old four-poster with a deep feather mattress. Every Friday night when small we girls would sleep with her. In anticipation of this visit, she would bring home five big round gingerbread cookies which we would either eat out of the bag or toast on the kerosene heater which warmed her room in very cold weather. Having disposed of this treat, we would all jump into bed and cuddle up in the feather mattress. And Sassie would tell us stories of her childhood or of the aunties' childhood, or repeat over and over again at our solicitation old rhymes which tickled our fancy such as

"Rory O'More courted Kathleen O'Brawn
She was mild as a doe and he bold as the dawn,
He tried every way his young Kathleen to please
But all he could do was to kiss and to tease."

Or we would whisper about a farm which she promised she would buy when she retired out of the gold she was saving in a bag. And as we were to go there every week-end to visit her we would discuss at length what animals we would want. (The farm was never bought and the gold pieces - $140 - were found in a little bag among her valuables after her death.)

In the morning Sassie would rise and be gone before we had unclosed our heavy eyes. She worked in a religious publishing house for fifty dollars a month from the time she was eighteen until the day of her death. She started to the train with such regularity in the mornings that some of our neighbors said they set their watches by her passing.

Sassie was rosy and well formed, with small hands and feet. She wore her hair piled high in bands around her head with spit curls on her forehead. She was animated at home and even in her later years could sing like a lark. She always dressed in black and was unassuming in her manner as befitted a woman earning her living in those days when this was considered a misfortune if not a disgrace.

At Christmas time her room gradually became a veritable sweet shop filled with the choicest candy in elaborate boxes given to her by her customer friends. A week or two before Christmas the first question we would ask when she arrived home was: "Did you get any presents today?" and she would answer, "Come up to my room after dinner." So we would run up there three steps at a time and help her untie the beautiful packages and gaze long and covetously at the contents before succeeding in making our choice. And then the box was laid out open on the bureau to be joined by others which kept arriving up to the very day before Christmas.

On Christmas Day Ninnie would untie her presents delicately, smelling the fragrant salts or smoothing out the fine handkershiefs we had given her. But Sassie would open each package with little screeches of joy, and hold the homemade carrot-shaped pincushion or the lacquered box up for all to admire while she expatiated beamingly on its merits. I say it now although many years have passed since our last Christmas together that Sassie's enthusiasm and joy at that time is one of the most fragrant impressions I have of childhood.

My husband just pointed out that I can scan the pages of this book. Duh. What a dummy I am - I've been typing all this out and getting a sore wrist. Tomorrow, for the next chapter, I will be scanning!!! Hope you are enjoying this book.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Part I - The Grown-Ups

Poem excerpt at the beginning of the chapter:

My boast is not that I deduce my birth
From loins enthroned and rulers of the earth,
But higher far my proud pretensions rise,-
The child of parents passed into the skies.
William Cowper

The name of the first chapter is "The Grown-Ups". I cannot type the whole chapter - it is far too long, but I can type a portion of it:

"The home of my childhood was in the suburbs of Philadelphia, readily accessible by train to the city, but in those days sparsely settled and alluringly primitive. We lived in a big house with long flights of stairs which led from one part to the others. A cellar and attic with dark mysterious corners extended the length and width of the house below and above. A deep porch, in summer inviting with rocking chairs and low-swinging hammock and screened in by heavy masses of fragrant honeysuckle, stretched along the front and one side almost reaching another porch which in September was heavy with the scent of white clematis. The house was set in a wide lawn with rose bushes untidy in their profusion on either side of the entrance walk. Back of the house was a dark forest - too far away to cast the shadows of its great trees on our lawn yet near enough to be an important part of the landscape and of our daily lives.

It was a large family that lived there - Father and Mother, and five of us children, and Grandma, and two cousins of Mother's who were nearly as old as Grandma, and Great-Aunt Lizzie who was paralyzed and required a trained nurse. In spite of their size, families then seemed to get along together better than they do today. There were no two-room apartments or old people's institutions to which parents and grandparents were consigned so that young couples could have their homes to themselves. Nearly all of our little friends had grandmas and grandpas living with them - indeed a family without one didn't seem complete at all. It was a wonderful training in learning how to get along with people. We were taught to have the greatest respect and consideration for all the older members. Even if we would on occasions disobey Mother, we would never think of disobeying them.

GREAT-AUNT LIZZIE
My only recollection of Great-Aunt Lizzie is an old lady dressed in a long black dress always seated in a wheel chair who, on our visits to her room, would show us her poor crippled hand and ask if we didn't thin it opened more than it had when we were there before. She was a godly woman and had been for many years a city missionary. But a stroke had paralyzed one side of her body and brain, and although she could talk beautifully about many things, yet at times she would swear most dreadfully. the profanity she had heard so often in her work among drunkards and libertines had evidently stuck in her subconsciousness and when her mind could not function properly, it came out - so it was explained. As a result, it was only occasionally that we were allowed to visit her for no one could tell when one of these fits of swearing would come upon her.

I remember so well the day when, through the carelessness of a hired girl who had set an oil lamp directly under a lace curtain, a fire broke out in the second story front room. as it was confined to that part of the house, we children were sent to Aunt Lizzie's rooms. Immediately upon arrival, as we were very young and thoughless, we announced excitedly that the house was on fire and she would burn up because she sat in a chair and oculdn't possibly run when it reached her room. Poor Aunt Lizzie! what a dreadful state she was in when Mother and the nurse returned. She did some swearing that day!

When the firemen had gone, and we had returned ot our rooms, we found them not only somewhat charred and disarranged by empty of a number of things. Among the things missing was a highly colored glass picture which had hung on one of the front windows reflecting all the brilliance of the sun in the rich robes of the figures, a picture which had always fascinated us. We learned that in the exdcitement the firemen had th4rown it and several other perishable and treasured things out of the windows, and had carried the pillows and rugs carefully down the stairs.

It was only when we were grown that we appreciated Aunt Lizzie's great labors among the downtrodden before she was stricken. One of her helpers had been young "Sam" Gordon, later well known as S.D. Gordon, author of "Quiet Talks."


From Scenes Like These

I have a book on my bookshelf - an old friend - that I just happened to pick up this evening, having forgotten whether it was fiction or biography. I bought it in a shop in Mount Dora, FL., and, after having got it home, looked it up on Google. I found that it wasn't a well known book at all. Even now, look up "From Scenes Like These, Life In A Christian Family" by Ethel Wallace (copyright 1945 by Harper and Brothers) and you won't find much at all. I found, today, two copies of this title for sale, both about $29.00, a lot more than I paid at the little shop in Mount Dora. The most I paid is $1.00 or $2.00.

Tonight when I picked up the book anew, I saw that it is a series of vignettes from the life of a Christian family from the early 1900's - just the sort of fare we need in these dark days of economic woe and political fear. The book is also, I believe, out of copyright, so I'm going to give you a vignette a day. I love reading them and I think you will too.

Here is the dedication:

"To the Millions of Christians who in this day, as my parents in theirs, follow humbly in the footsteps of Him Who went about doing good. To them belongs the making of a better, freer world. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

Here is the Foreward:

"Many are writing today about their families and the incidents of their childhood. This little book, differing from those which hold up relatives to ridicule, and resembling thousands that could be written, tells of the Christian home in which I was reared. The Bible does not omit the shortcomings of the saints, so I have written of the frailties as well as the virtues of my family. They were not angels, but sinners redeemed by the grace of God - a fact they would have been the first to acknowledge.

Several years ago a friend brought out for my inspection a recently finished patchwork quilt made up, as is the way of patchwork quilts, of squares, some gay colored, others dark, stitched together at random. As she spread it out on the bed, she said: "This is the patchwork of my life. Each square was once part of a dress which is associated with what was for me a momentous occasion. My mother cherished my childhood garments and preserved them. That white muslin with the tiny tucks was my very first dress, this china silk with the hand-embroidered pink roses was the robe in which I was baptized, that pale blue my first party frock, this heavy satin my wedding gown and my mother's, this was the last dress my darling Eva wore, this black velvet is the material out of which was cut the gown in which I christened the battleship last month. I shall hand the quilt down to my children's children." the following pages are my patchwork - squares some gay colored, others dark, happenings of long ago and of today, placed together at random.

As from the vantage point of years I view the world today, I see that it is a very different world from the one in which I grew up. We cannot return to the old world and in some ways we would not if we could. but in that day many more Americans lived close to the rudiments - to the Christian beliefs, principles, and inhibitions upon which this country was founded, which made it great, and which for a long time remained its very bone and fibre. If we return to them as individuals and as a nation, we shall be enabled to meet War and Peace, Death and Life, unafraid. "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them," said Jesus, "I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock; and the rains descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell not for it was founded upon a rock."

I hope you enjoyed the very beginning of this book. Each day I will add another chapter, or vignette, so that you can also enjoy looking at life from a long time ago.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Emergency For A BlogFriend

This lady is about to be evicted from her apartment and she needs a donation. Any donation is better than no donation. Just click on her Paypal button and do what you can. I've been reading her blog for a few years now and as far as the eviction? There, but for the grace of God, go I. With the economy the way it is, who knows how many other people, including ourselves, will be in dire straits at some point, and needing a helping hand.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Japanese Sandman

This is a beautiful song from the early 1900's - I think 1922. The singer is Nora Bayes, a vaudeville star from the late 1800's to the early 1900's. She has a lovely voice, but I like the lyrics of this song most of all. Here they are (I'm only unsure of the "peaking on with the dew" part - but the rest of quite clear):

The Japanese Sandman

Won't you stretch your imagination for a moment and come with me....
Let us hasten to a nation lying over the Western Sea....
Hide behind the cherry blossoms, here's a sight that will please your eye:
There's a lady with a baby of Japan singing lullabies.

Here her as she sighs....

Here's a Japanese Sandman
Peaking on with the dew
Just an old second hand man
He'll buy your old days from you

He will take every sorrow
Of the day that is through
And he'll bring you tomorrow
Just to start life anew

Then you'll be a bit older
In the dawn when you wake
And you'll be a bit older
In the new day you'll take

There's a Japanese Sandman
Trading silver for gold

Just an old second hand man
Trading new days for old

Then you'll be a bit older
In the dawn when you wake
And you'll be a bit older
In the new day you'll take

There's a Japanese Sandman
Trading silver for gold

Just an old second hand man
Trading new days for old

These lyrics are so whimsical and gentle. The mental pictures I see are beautiful. Think of the magic phrase, "across the Western Sea"- sounds so mysterious and distant., and the idea of trading old days in and getting new ones is an allegorical picture for aging that is quaint and old fashioned.


SeeqPod - Playable Search

Saturday, October 4, 2008

My Daughter

My daughter is beautiful. Her smile, so like her father and so like myself - mini me - is, within the frame on my bookshelf, trying to convince, uncertain, wide and open, wanting to believe. Betrayed by her parent's divorce, unable to face the nastiness of life, she negotiates a path that won't offend anyone, that won't draw attention, for fear, just for fear. She is so smart, so incredibly deep emotionally and I'm a little afraid of her. I can't reach into the depths of her pain. I can't fix it and make it better. I'd plunge my hand into the midst of it if it would make the crooked straight.

If only she knew she could stand alone, stand alone with the Lord by her side. He is quiet, hard to discern, the small, still voice. I'm asking Him to take care of her.

She puts her face to the cold wind, finds no comfort, sees no beauty, has a piece of my soul but not my eyes. She doesn't trust beauty. She keeps walking the same path to heal the wound in her soul, but never quite finds the way.

I love her, Lord, and I ask you to forgive me for not being what I should have been for her. Please make up my lack, fill her need, help her to find her way, open her eyes to you and lead her soul to comfort.

No one who is beautiful, smart, funny, loving, humble, human and a part of my heart should have to try to put the pieces of this life together without a hint, without the answers, Lord. This is my prayer. You love her more deeply than I ever could, You charm her soul with warmth and love, be all that she needs and that I failed to be. Teach her the things she needs to know - and most of all, let her know that You Are, and that You love her.

Dream Vacation vs Practical Vacation

Every fall this northern soul misses her favorite season and the change of color and cool crisp air that goes with it....up north. Here in Florida, days don't stay dry until mid-October at least, and there is no real cool here unless a cold front of some magnitude comes through. Cold fronts don't normally occur until after October is over - sometimes not until December.
Last fall we visited my old home town in NY State. My husband had never been there and I wanted to show him where I grew up. It was SO wonderful for me.
This year we were going to go to Smoky Mountains Park as we've done in past years, but it just isn't feasible. The economy is too scary, there are gas shortages in the area we would be vacationing in, and - bottom line - we just don't have the money.
We have saved - for us - much more money than we have in the past - we have now amassed $5000.00, which is in a savings account at a local Credit Union - where I hope it is safe. Our monthly budget has absolutely no fat in it since we have way too much credit card debt, we owe on about 7 advance loans from my husband's retirement, and - the piece de resistance - our home mortgage is about $30,000 - $40,000 more than our home is actually worth - AND - our mortgage is an A.R.M that comes due for change in 3 years.
We would have to pile on more credit to go on vacation because I don't want to touch the cash savings we have. Plus we have about $3200. in a CD, but that is untouchable, I think.
So next week, we have already taken the time off - we're going to do some much needed work around our house and yard and we then will take a 2 or 3 day trip inside Florida. There are tons of beautiful places in Florida.
Both my husband and I are far more comfortable with the new plan, even though we would, of course, love to go to the Smokies. Actually, I'd give my right arm and a kidney to move to the Smokies, but that is another story. Besides, we couldn't sell this house in the market that exists now.
So - we've made some very stupid financial decisions over the years, some were necessary and unavoidable, but most were just dumb. God have mercy on us - and it is time we took charge of the fiasco and stopped the bleeding - and it will hurt, I must say.
We can still play the Lotto once a week - a dollar to buy a "quick pick". Meanwhile, I'll be thankful in these perilous times to hold on to my roof and enough to eat. Holding onto that roof may be a bit tricky in the next few years, and if one of us loses a job, the jig is up.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

One Hour In My Backyard

This afternoon I spent one hour in our over planted, overgrown backyard just observing the wildlife there. It was pretty amazing and there was a LOT I didn't photograph. I DIDN'T photograph the squirrels, including the short-tailed one I nicknamed "Stumpy". I didn't photograph the many tiny butterflies or the $%@^&* pigeons or the chipping sparrows. I didn't photograph the bees and wasps. Here is what I DID photograph:

This bird is a black throated blue warbler - a first for our backyard. The only other place I've seen this warbler is on a trip we took to Jacksonville one time. There were two of them and they flew right over my head a few times as they went back and forth from one set of bushes to another eating insects.










































What got me to go outdoors to begin with was the sight of a male common yellowthroat through the window of my computer room. Outside that window is a Cape Honeysuckle bush that we have to constantly trim back. The yellowthroat was deep in the bushes, but I could see him from my side of the window. If there hadn't been a screen to ruin the photo, I'd have taken a picture of him from there. Once I went outside in search of him, I found the black throated blue warbler and got distracted. It took about 45 minutes before I could get a picture of the common yellowthroat. I saw him several times, but by the time I put the camera to my eye, he had moved too far for me to track. I'm not sure if the third pictre is a female common yellowthroat or a female black throated blue warbler - they are pretty drab compared to their mates - and they look somewhat similar from a distance.



















































The day wouldn't be complete without at least one dragonfly:













And one Skipper:







































Then there was the swallowtail butterfly that I've seen so often but never been able to photo. He stopped long enough to let me take pictures today, although they didn't come out as sharp as I would have liked:



































There were the usual birds. The bluejays usually get their picture taken, but not so much today. I couldn't resist this one fellow who looked like he wanted me to take his picture:






















We have a pink bougainvillea that has one pure white flower on it amongst the pink - kind of like an albino flower. I have no idea how that happened - it's the first time I've ever seen that, but I took a picture of it amongst it's "siblings":















Here is boat tailed grackle next to a dove - two of the regular visitors to our yard. My husband and I notice each August how the birds look like they've been in a bar fight. Their feathers are scraggly and missing, some have no feathers on their heads or no tails. They look awful. Then, come September, their molt is finished and they look absolutely beautiful. This fellow is no exception:






















The red winged blackbirds are back, too. There was a first year male in our yard. You can still see the speckles almost finished turning pure black. His wings were beautiful and I tried to get a few photos where he was moving his wing so you could appreciate his "epaulettes":



































































Here is the female redwing:






















The redbellied woodpecker was visiting today, also. We put peanuts and suet out for him, so he and his wife are regulars. Here, he is telling the red wing to take a hike:






















Here is the red bellied woodpecker using his long beak to reach into a feeder he is not supposed to be able to get into - but I don't mind:






















Even though this warbler wasn't in my backyard that I know of today, he WAS there on Saturday - er, rather, she. I almost always see female American Red starts, never the male.















Just for fun, I'll add a couple of photos that were taken recently in the Everglades. These are migrant warblers:
































Rudolph the Red Nosed Dragonfly? Plus, he has a Snidely Whiplash mustache:






















Pretty everglades sweet smelling vine:
















Weird everglades yellow flower:






















A honey bee and a bumble bee - I love bumble bees - it doesn't seem possible for such a fat bug to be able to fly with those little wings. I'm seeing a lot more honey bees both in my yard and everywhere down here - I am SO relieved!!





































































Beautiful jewel-like fly:






















A Cardinal in the Everglades and a White-Eyed Vireo:












































Last, but not least, a flycatcher that was trying to nap with his foot tucked up into his chest:






















That's it for now. Phew!