flowers


This is not really about “my” world, but about a world I recently visited. I took more pictures there than I do here (at least of things I can post since I do not post pictures of my kids and their friends playing very often), and there were some very interesting things, so “My World” will be about Orlando for two or three weeks.

When I was flying into Orlando, I saw lots of water on the ground, and it was overcast. No surprise. But what did surprise me was large wooded areas with no leaves on the trees. I had no idea trees lost their leaves there.

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Then later I saw a tree with orange leaves, fading from its peak of autumn glory… in JANUARY! Maybe I am the last person to know that Orlando has some form of autumn, but previously I never knew, so I thought it was interesting.

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Right next to the “autumn tree” was some tree unidentifiable to me that had yellow flowers on it. It was amusing to me that one tree was in bloom, and the tree next to it was orange and losing its leaves.  What a different world from mine!

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My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

There have been four times in my life when I have been REALLY sick. Sick enough to think about mortality, even if I knew that probably was not going to happen. Sick enough to take more than a week to recover.

The first time I was eight. I had a horrible case of strep throat that kept me out of school for three weeks and in the hospital for one week. I was actually probably too young to think about mortality then, but I remember my dad threatening to make me eat potato chips if I did not drink enough pear juice in the hospital. (Pear juice was the ONLY thing that did not feel like it was ripping my throat to pieces as it went down.) I think my parents might have been a little worried at the time.

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The next time was twenty years later. I had just moved into my first house with my first husband. It was December, and I got the flu. The BAD flu. I do not believe I had ever had that before. I suffered a week off work without getting any better and finally realized I was not going to get better, and I needed to go to the doctor. I did not care if I lived or died. I lost 15 pounds in one month, and it was a full month before I could work full days.

Ten years later I was pregnant with Chicklet. That little creature sucked everything from me. She took every nutrient and bit of strength I had, then she took my immunity. In a 7-month span I got three sinus infections, three stomach flus (more than I had had in my entire life before that), and the BAD flu. Most days I worked as much as I could in the morning and lay on the sofa all afternoon. It was not a good time. My midwife did not really believe I was sick. She treated me like I was trying to get drugs. (Twice in this time I got to see a doctor who was kind, understanding and gave me medicine to get through the current problem.) A week after Chicklet was born, I was in nearly perfect health. She was not, and I have to think it was because I was so drained that even though she took everything from me, it was not enough for her.

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It has been five years since then and I am really sick again. (For those of you who are into numbers and trends, are you as frightened as I am about what is going to happen to me in about 2-1/2 years?) I have “severe” esophagitis. I noticed it a week ago yesterday when we were headed out of town. I could feel (and it was uncomfortable) every bite of food that I took from the swallow until the opening to the stomach. It got progressively worse over the weekend to the point that Sunday I did not want to eat. When we got home Sunday night I ate a small amount because I knew I needed food. I have not eaten more than 300 calories in a day since last Saturday, and the 300 calories is a HIGH number. I have only done that a couple times. (Thus the title of the post–which I must say is the silver lining to this problem.)

Eating is painful. It is usually not a burning pain, but a pain that grips my whole chest and radiates to my back and into my neck  and ears. This happens for anything swallowed, even a drop or two at a time. This has created another problem in that I am not getting enough nutrition and am incredibly weak. The problem with this is that my life is busy and it is the holiday season and I have more going on that usual.

My stamping business is somewhat intentionallybusier than usual for December. Last Thursday evening I had a workshop and Prince Charming arranged a babysitter and did it for me. I went with him, but mostly just sat with the guests and heckled him. Thank goodness for him because I would have been in bad shape had I done it alone. My personality would have made me suck it up and put on a brave face, but I probably would have collapsed in the car when I left.  Tomorrow I have another one, and a friend (who is assuming the role of my mother at the moment) is going to fill in as Prince Charming did. I will go, but she will do the presentation for me.

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This friend has made me face humility in other ways. Right now I am home when I normally would be headed to church. She insisted that I stay home while she takes over leading the program for the 4-6-year-olds today.  I am so grateful for this because I am weak and tired, and tonight is our church’s biggest annual event, the “Festival of Lights,” a holiday musical program. I am planning on pulling all my strength together so I can go. The music is always incredible.

Which leads me to the other thing this friend did for me and is making me be humble. Who would you guess makes the programs for the Festival of  Lights? Of course it is me! Last year was the first year I did it. I made 500 of them. We used less than 400, however, so this year it was decided to make 400. Not because I procrastinate, but because I have so many things going on in my life, those were not finished when I got sick. Another friend had volunteered a couple of weeks ago to do part of the stamping, so I allowed her. I had done a little more, but with my schedule and being sick, I just was not even close to being finished. My motherly friend (who is only a few  years older than me) decided that she was going to take an afternoon off of work to help me with them. Her daughter called, and she came as well. The two of them finished the program covers on Thursday afternoon. THEN yesterday morning, another friend and her mother-in-law came and helped me put all the inserts (with program information) on the inside. The programs are finished, and I probably did the minority of the work. (Prince Charming is proud.)

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So why am I sitting her painfully sipping  liquid nourishment to tell you this? Somewhat because I am weird like that, but mostly to explain my absence in visiting you. The only reason I have posted this week is there were time sensitive (to me) things about which to post, or I would have been completely absent.

When I went on a trip in October, you know I got way behind in blogging. I was slowly catching up with my visits, but then we went on last weekend’s trip. Now I am sick. I have not looked at my reader much at all this week. I am sure it is over 1000 again. I am going on another trip next weekend to visit my cousin. I am coming to grips with the fact that I may not catch up on the reader at all. I may just have to start with what is current when I can do it again. I may not be able to return every visit here. My personality tells me I must, and I will definitely try, but I am not just a little sick, and I have a whole lot of other life that needs attention in the moments when I can get up and do something.

Thank you for your visits even when I have not been visiting. And this post was definitely not for you to feel bad for me or wish me well, but only to tell you why I am gone and that I will be back when I can. Having not eaten substantially for a full week and likely not to be able to for another few days (the doctor said it would take at least a week from when I saw her last Wednesday for the esophagus to heal), my recovery is probably going to be slow. I will probably be weak and tired for a long time.  I will come when I can.

Incidentally, this is my 100th post. I had determined not to even mention it when it happened, but I find it amusing that this is the topic for my 100th post. And I probably would not have noticed it, but when I got online this morning, WordPress had changed their screens and the number of posts I have published was right in front of my eyes.

The flower pictures are a bouquet Prince Charming got me this week. I love them. They look like an antique painting to me–not really real. I think I will be surprised when they wilt.

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This post is a meme hosted by  Sonia at Leaves of Grass. This is not the first time she has hosted Ecological Day (I have been aware of it at least twice before), but it’s my first time. Pop on over and see what everyone else is posting this month! I think it will be fun. Most pictures in this post will enlarge when clicked (and likely worth it.)

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Our mountain on the way to school

Our mountain on the way to school

Last year when Chic started school, I hated whined about complained incessantly about did not like the drive to school. She goes to a private church school, so it means driving. It is less than 7 miles to get there, but we have horrible traffic. Between the traffic and unloading everyone and walking her in and talking to this teacher or that (since I am involved in many school activities) and getting home, the minimum round trip time was 45 minutes. Often it would be an hour or more. I had to do that twice a day, except Wednesdays when I taught art, then I was there all day and it was only one trip. This was/is a serious time drain on my life. 1.5-2 hours a day DRIVING. I cannot get anything accomplished then. (Not even phone calls because a large portion of the trip is in a “dead zone.”) And not being the type to be running around town all of the time, the gas used for these trips to school really bothered me. It wasn’t over $3/gallon yet, but just USING that much gas bothered me. I tried all year to find someone with whom to carpool. Several lived in my area, but none wanted to do it. It was frustrating.

Our mountain on the way to school with moon

Our mountain on the way to school with moon

I wanted to ride my bike–I had a bike trailer–but there were two obstacles. One was that there was not a bike path the entire route, and the part without would be VERY dangerous for a biker, especially hauling a bike trailer. The other obstacle was a giant hill. GIANT. Cars with smaller motors have trouble getting up that hill. How would I ever make it on a bike, hauling a bike trailer? Biking just was not an option.

Summer over, the whole school grind started again, and I was no closer to a carpool, and still had the same obstacles preventing my biking. Until… a rocket scientist (because apparently it takes one to come up with a different idea) had the idea of driving to an area, then biking from there to his work. I started thinking about where I could drive and then bike. Driving part-way is not as good as not driving, but biking part-way is better than not biking at all. So each day after dropping off Chic, I would scope the route. There was a library at which to park, but there was the block in front of it without a bike path, and I was not sure how to safely get to a bike path from there. There was NO parking where the bike path started. Finally I found a sand road between the library and the bike path. Not optimal, but it would work.

Chic & Chicklet in bike trailer

Chic & Chicklet in bike trailer

So a month ago I began driving about 2-1/2 miles to the library and biking the rest of the way to school three mornings a week. I make nine trips to school a week, and am now biking 3 of them. Considering the amount I drive, my guess is that I am using 25% less gas every week. Would I like to do more? Yes. Is more realistic? No. 25% is better than nothing.

My shadow while riding

My shadow while riding to school

Biking is somewhat of an inconvenience, but I have decided that to be friendly to the planet, we have to be willing to be inconvenienced. My phrase for this is “conveniently inconvenienced.” The time factor is fine. I spend only a small amount more time biking to school than I did before with the combination of drive and exercise. The incovenience for us is that we are leaving our house 40 minutes earlier than before, meaning our children get 40 minutes less sleep. I allow that they rest a little in the bike trailer. Also, I have to drive Prince Charming’s truck (mid-size) on those days because I do not have a bike rack on my car. (And am not yet willing to spend the money to get one.) I am not a fan of the truck, but most days I do not have other errands. Another factor is that I have to eat breakfast earlier than before, at 5:45 a.m., in order to allow about an hour before exercising. (My body needs that.) And I cannot get dinner made most of the time before I leave for school (which used to be my goal). There are many inconveniences, but it is worth it. If we wait until being ecologically friendly is convenient, it will never happen.

Edited: After many of the comments, I feel like I should edit this to say that this was not meant to be “preaching” about ecology, the environment, or anything else. Not everyone can do this. My point was that for a whole year I wanted to do it but could not figure out how. Someone else gave me an idea to make it possible. But although not everyone can ride a bike or something similar, we can all do something, but it might require thinking beyond our regular ideas and routines. (Or allowing someone else to put the idea in our heads.)

The mesa with golden morning sun.

The mesa with golden morning sun.

These are a few of the things I have seen on my bike trip. I would be seeing the outdoors if biking around my neighborhood, but some of this would not be seen in my neighborhood.

I love how the petal tips curl on these floweres. (Click to enlarge.)

I love how the petal tips curl on these floweres. (Click to enlarge.)

"Russian Olive" with copper fruit. I've never seen that before.

Russian olive with copper fruit. (I've never seen these in copper before.)

Chicklet loves rabbits. This one posed for us.

Chicklet loves rabbits. This one posed for us.

It got tired of us, but left slowly. (Cute tail!)

It got tired of us, but left slowly. (Cute tail!)

I have to be honest and tell you I never thought I would post a rainbow picture for Sky Watch Friday. Rainbows are spectacular, but from my perspective really difficult to capture in a way that shows anything about how wonderful they were. And I am not saying these pictures captured what it was really like, but I like them anyway.

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

During “monsoon season” here in the desert southwestern United States, we have lots of rainbows, and this year there were even more because the season (which is still going for some crazy reason) has been much longer than usual and the frequency of clouds and light rain more than usual.  But although there are a lot, they are fleeting. The rain is so isolated and sparse, that rainbows seem to last not long at all. Often I do not even get a picture, let alone have time for it to be a good one.

But this rainbow was unusual. It was a “full rainbow” covering 180 degrees. Those have been rare in my life. And it lasted a long time. I decided to drive for a better view, and got one somewhat better, but my lens wouldn’t even capture the entire thing. But the EXPERIENCE was the wonderful part. I watched it change for a good thirty minutes. I was just getting ready to pack up and head home when I realized how low the sun was in the sky. So I stayed for a spectacular sunset as well. (I am not showing you the sunset because I do not like to put too many pictures up for SWF, and I will be needing archives when this monsoon seaon ever ends!)

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

May your weekend be as brilliant as my rainbow!

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures,  head to the SkyWatch blog hosted by Tom, Sandy , Imac and Klaus.

 

It is time for some awards. I love awards for two reasons. My FAVORITE thing about them is passing them on because I love so. many. blogs, and I like to share that with others. The other thing I really like is hearing the nice things other bloggers said to me when they gave each award to me. Who doesn’t like that? But for me, it is strange, because I HATE attention in real life. HATE. IT. I hated my wedding showers and my baby showers. I just do not like being the center of attention. But it seems that when a computer is in the middle, it is fine with me.

My apologies to the people who gave me these awards that it has taken so long to get this post together. That is part of my charm… RIGHT? Also my heartfelt thanks to all who gave me these awards. I cannot tell you how these surprises (every single one has been a surprise) make me smile.

And before I get to the actual awards, I will remind you of “Louise’s Award Policy.”

-I am changing the rules, so you can, too!
-If you receive an award from me, it is up to you what to do with it. I do not notify people in comments that they have received an award, therefore they may never even know they got one! I tend to nominate people on a much higher plane than myself, so it is often likely they do not even read my blog. SOOOO, if you happen upon an award from me, you can take it or leave it, display it or not display it, pass it on or not, acknowledge it or not.
-If you have received the same award from someone else, see the above rule. No one is making you take this.
-If you have received an award from me before, see the rule two above this.

The Award I begin with is the one I got the longest ago from Antigoni’s Diary. But let me tell you why I like HER blog! She lives in Greece, and she has fabulous ocean pictures! OK, there is a lot more to her blog than that, but those two qualifications would win me over without the rest. (The rest is fabulous, mind you, but I’m just sayin’…)

Here is who I am passing this award to:

Quintino at … lenses and vision… for amazing photography. Amazing.

John Theberge at Maine Nature Photos.  Flowers, bugs, scenery. All excellently shot.

Marvin at Nature in the Ozarks. Marvin does not “do” awards, but I cannot help it. His posts are amazing and so educational.

Yrsa and Chrome3D at 4 Seasons in Southern Finland. I love the photography in this blog and the subjects which they choose to photograph.  Chrome3D has his own blog which is not into awards, so this one might not be, either, but again, I cannot help myself.  I want YOU to know about this blog!

Woman in a Window. This woman is an excellent writer. She creates imagery that makes a story larger than life, but it still feels like real life. She talks about real life, but in an incredibly eloquent manner.  Definitely. worth. reading.

David at Authorblog. David will probably not believe I am giving him this award because in my comments more often than not I jokingly make fun of his wit. This is a blog I read before I began blogging myself. It is the blog that let me to SkyWatch Friday, which is how I found (directly or in a round-about way) most of the other nearly 200 blogs I read.  This is a “brilliant” blog because it is so multi-faceted.  He is an excellent photographer (and traveler, so we see many things). He has ludicrous news stories. He writes limericks. He devotes a post every day to other bloggers. The list goes on.

And finally, Jennifer at Thursday Drive. Another amazing, poetic writer.  She writes about life and things beyond life. She is the reason I joined the blososphere.

The next award is from The Fish Whisperer from Picture This Digital Photography. This guy is so nice to me! And his blog is incredible. I love his photography, and he lives in Fiji. That is so completely foreign to me, but it has water, and water is VERY GOOD, so I love HIS blog, too!

Then I got the same award from Denise at An English Girl Rambles and also from The Fishing Guy. I love Denise’s blog because there is some excellent photography and commentary and actually, I like the same thing about The Fishing Guy. And I have already told you about the whole country music thing with The Fishing Guy.

 

Below are the people/blogs who get the above three awards.  If you get one, you can claim any or all (or, of course, none).  And to be honest, if you are reading this, I want to pass it on to you because you are not likely to be reading this unless I have read your blog, therefore I like your blog.  But there are still a few for which I will make special mention (because it suits me at the moment):

Morgan at Stumble, Survive, Smile. This is a very new blog from a very open and honest girl about life. She knows how to write about it, and I love reading it. There is just something about reading honest, heartfelt writing about life that is so appealing.

TBNIL at Traveling, but Not in Love. This guy makes me laugh. Not all his posts are funny, but most have a humorous side to them, and he knows how to make it that way. If we were to meet in real life, I am sure we would have very little in common.  He is much younger than me and his lifestyle is completely different (mine is pretty boring in comparison), but he is just fun to read.  REALLY fun. EXTRA fun. Go read! (And if you comment, check back in the comments for his worth-reading replies.)

Rich at Championable. A raw look at life. His posts are short, but powerful. Often funny, but often not. But there is always a funny element in the sign-off…  Even you…

Deirdre at ReluctantFarmChik.  OK, I JUST gave her an award, but I LOVE her.  I LOVE her blog! It is still new, but it is getting even better with every post. She is funny. She is worth being in your reader! (And if you have not been there yet, you must go to hear about Prince FARMING.)

Mrs. Chili at The Blue Door. I found Mrs. Chili by reading her comments on other blogs. I LOVED her comments. She was always sensible.  Always sincere. Her blog is the same way. She covers a lot of territory as her life covers a lot of territory, but she is a genuinely wonderful person who writes an open, honest, sometimes controversial post. But she is not a controversial person, so even those posts come out pleasantly, even if I happen to be in the other corner from her! Mrs. Chili is a wonderful, remarkable woman.  (And it doesn’t hurt that she has 2 red-headed daughters!)

I was making a list so I could do this post, and there are ten more blogs on my list, but I know if I list too many (may have already), no one will take the time to check them out.  I really hope you do, because they wouldn’t be up here if I did not really believe they are worth it.

And again, if I were to list all the ones that I can say, “I love your blog” to, it would I am sure be anyone reading this. I read yours because I LOVE IT!

This post is in response to a prompt from Kelly at *Weekly Anamnesis.*  I like Kelly’s word prompts to help me think of something to write.  She is not picky about when someone uses a word.  It can be a word from previous weeks, which I have done before.  But today I am using “Smelly” which is actually this week’s word. Anyone is welcome to use her prompts.  Just go there and follow the instructions. I love to see what different people write about the same word prompt.

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click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

When I first saw Kelly’s word this week, I thought of several things about which I could write.  I have an incredible sense of smell.  The problem was which thing relating to smell should I address?  I had several ideas, but was not sure I wanted to go down those paths.  Then I thought of another post I have been wanting to do for a long time, and it involves “smelly stuff.”  I had it planned for last Friday.  But last Friday was not a good day for me.  Fridays are always busy–probably my busiest day (which is why my usual Friday post has been sporadic since school started), but last Friday was the worst yet.  So no post about smelly stuff.  No post at all. And that post will have to wait because for ME (not you, but this is my blog), that is a Friday-specific post.  I will try again next week.

So that left me with what should I write about for Kelly’s prompt?  I still cannot really decide, so I will just tell you a few things about me and my wonderful sense of smell.

Having an acute sense of smell, as you can imagine (or know if you have one, too), is not always good.  In fact, sometimes it is very, very bad.

Like the time I was on a six-hour flight to Iceland a week after having my wisdom teeth pulled.  I was still a little sick from the anesthesia.  (Anesthesia and me are not the best of friends, although I would suffer through the effects of it every dental appointment if allowed.)  I am pretty sure this was after I learned to be afraid of flying, and the flight was more than a little bumpy.  It was bumpy enough that my ginger ale was sloshing over the side of the cup. 

Icelandair in earlier days (I do not know about now) was a wonderful airline, except that it was crowded.  They would cram six seat across when most planes would have five.  And I think cram four rows where most airlines had three.  Something like that.  On this particular flight, there was not an empty seat, and there were a bunch of demanding people on board.  I do not remember where they were from.  All I remember is that they were continually making demands from the flight attendants, who were bouncing around bringing them this and that.  My ginger ale was gone, and I had politely asked for more.  They forgot about me in the mess.  (I LOVE Icelandair flight attendants; it was not them that was the problem.) 

In addition to this, I was in a middle seat.  I would never get a middle seat now.  NEVER.  But then it could not be helped.  On one side of me was someone who should have purchased two seats.  I had about half of my seat available for my use.  (A six-hour flight, mind you.) And on the other side of me was a girl who was smelly. She was thin, and we could have shared some space, but I know she had not showered or bathed in more than a week.  (Or maybe she had just finished a marathon and had neglected cleaning up.) Remember my queasy stomach?  This was not a good time to have a good sense of smell. 

Waiting for more ginger ale, I sat and sat and sat and watched things bump and slosh. My nausea increased.  I turned the air full force on me in hopes of relieving some of the sickness, but to no avail. Finally, I realized I had no choice but to make my way to a lavatory. This was long before “September 11,” and the line for the lavatory was at least 15 people long.  Knowing I was good at holding back throwing up, I was still uneasy about the line.  I took the bag in the seat pocket in front of me with me. 

Time was irrelevant as I stood in that line. I have no idea how long I was there. I only remember focusing on things other than how I felt. I actually felt the smallest bit better after getting away from the smelly girl, but things had gotten too far before I left.  When I made it to the lavatory, I threw up.  I was proud for not doing it in the aisle-way (which would have caused a chain-reaction if anyone near were anything like me), but I had never done that on a plane before. 

Feeling enough better to survive, I returned to my seat, climbed over the sleeping, smelly girl and sat on the half of my seat that was left due to the very large sleeping man next to me. Unfortunately, I never sleep on planes.  I wish I could, but sleep always eludes me. As I sat down, the flight attendant brought my ginger ale. The rest of the flight would be better…

When women are pregnant, often their sense of smell heightens. For me, I knew every time I was pregnant before any test would show it (other than a blood test) by the things I smelled. It is no wonder women get morning round-the-clock sickness those first weeks (16 weeks for me) of pregnancy. Every time I remember smelling cows when I knew the nearest ones were several miles away.

But having a keen sense of smell has some benefits. I can smell my roses when I am coming up the street from someone else’s house. When visiting my family in Missouri in May, I can smell the honeysuckle hundreds of yards away.  What an intoxicating scent that one is! Scents I love can completely change the course of my day.  My days are stressful, but the right candle, my favorite perfume, the bread baking in the oven, rain or a million other beautiful smells can nearly make me forget my stress.

Hopefully, this Friday will clue you into my “smelly stuff” post.  It really is not about “smelly stuff,” but that plays a part which is why I was going to use it with this prompt.  It will be a fun one when I get to it.  It has something to do with Prince Charming, so be on the lookout.  (I am pretty much duty bound to get that done this week now, am I not?)

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

On Monday (Labor Day Holiday for the U.S.) our family went letterboxing. It took us to a nature park less than an hour from our house of which we had never even heard. (That is something we love most about letterboxing.) It was on “the other side of the mountain” which has a different climate than “our” side. It gets more rain, has more trees and green grasses. It was a beautiful day that was not hot, and there was plenty to see. The clouds were interesting because it has been overcast and rainy the entire day before (unusual), and it was all clearing out.

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures,  head to the SkyWatch blog hosted by Tom, Sandy , Imac and Klaus.

Well, it’s award time again.  I got two surprise awards back-to-back a couple of weeks ago and am just now getting around to acknowledging them publicly and passing them on.

But first, a GIANT Congratulations to Mrs. G at Derfwad Manor and Klaus at Virtua Gallery who have both just had their 1-year Bloggaversary or whatever it is called.  These are two very different blogs, but I love both of them.

I began reading Mrs. G before I started blogging myself.  Most of the time she writes in a way that gives me one of the best laughs I will get all day.  She does, however, get serious periodically, and she is always logical and blunt.  Exactly my type of girl.  If you have never read Mrs. G., really, it’s worth the time, especially if you need to smile.

My fortune was good that Klaus found my blog very quickly after I began.  It was probably through Sky Watch Friday, but whatever it was, it was good because his is one of the best photography blogs I have seen, and his pictures are not only beautiful works of art, but so inspirational.  They inspire me to take better pictures and go find more birds and other natural things of which to take pictures.  Plus he’s an all-around funny and blunt guy.  (Can you see a trend here about things I like?)

OK, hope you check those out, but the rest of this post is about checking out other blogs, too.

click photo to enlarge

Now to the awards.  Reiterating that my “award policy” is that I do not necessarily follow the rules and you do not have to follow the rules at all if you get one from me.  You need feel no obligation to pass these on, display them on your site, or even acknowledge them.  I am passing them along because I like something about you or your blog.  If you do not like it, then just ignore it.  I personally like to pass them on because I LOVE to tell people about blogs I like!  But what you do is up to you!

The first award is this:

 

It’s from Lara at Laras Welt:  Photos From Romania and Austria and Other Ramblings.  Her blog always shows life.  She has done some wonderful series on festivals that make me feel like I am right there seeing the bright colors, dancing to the music and smelling and tasting it all. 

This one is going to:

Chrome 3D at Cloudbusting.  Another blog I followed before I started my own, and always an inspiration to see what he has seen in the sky.  He says right on his site not to give him awards; he doesn’t pass them on.  That’s fine with me, but I want to acknowledge him anyway.  He also leaves great comments on my posts that make me laugh a lot of the time.  And he’s blunt.

Your EG Tour Guide at East Gwillimbury WOW! The blog is aptly named.  There are a lot of WOW! photos there.

Lisa at Lisa’s Chaos.  There’s no telling what might show up on this blog, but there is a lot of nature photography.  Recently there have been some absolutely fabulous dragonfly shots.  Go look!

The Fish Whisperer from Picture This and XStreem Fishing.  He is an excellent photographer who lives in a beautiful place and takes pictures of it all.  What really inspires me at Picture This are his reflection shots.  Not every post is reflections, but he does a lot of them, and they are all amazing.  He also leaves me encouraging comments.  Sometimes I think I throw garbage up on my site, and maybe it is, but he says nice things about it anyway!

Pietro Brosio at Pietro Brosio Gallery.  Brilliant photography with some original artwork thrown in periodically.  In his photography, it is evident he has the eye of an artist.  Terrific stuff at that site.  Also an encouraging commenter.

Shimmy from Shimmy Mom. Shimmy blogs about her life, and it can cover anything.  She is funny and nice.  When I was traveling in her area, she gave me weather updates.  I was going to give her this award anyway, but then she gave me the one that is below, and here is what she said:  “Louise at Potted Frog who always has a bright outlook on the things in life. She is an avid visitor who always has a kind comment. And her posts maybe long, but they are always good.”  Prince Charming laughed out loud when he read that.  Shimmy, you are just too cute for words!

Julie from Sydney Eye.  Fabulous photos.  Perfect Haiku to go with them.  Encouraging comments.

TSANNIE from The Tombstone Chronicler.  Another “expect anything” blog with lots of great photos.  She is from my home state (as is Lisa from above), so that makes her (and Lisa) extra special!

RuneE at Visual Norway.  The blog name says it all, except it does not say the photography is excellent.  I love the glimpses into life and scenery in Norway that are on this blog.  Also says nice things about my posts and pictures.

OK, I realize I mentioned comments a few times above.  If I said something about your nice comments, please do not feel under pressure to continue!  I appreciate what you have done, but I know making it public like this sort of puts the pressure on.  Forget about it!  Just thank you.

click photo to enlarge

The next award is from Shimmy Mom.  I already talked about her above, so I will just show you the award and tell you who gets it from me.

Madge from It’s A Mad Madge World.  First, I love Madge.  Second, she is funny.  Third, she gave me my first award.  Fourth, she has things like: “It’s National Madge Is Going To Post Every Day For The Next 37 Days Month Which Is More Than A Month But What The Hell It’s My Blog Month OR NaMaIGoToPoEvDaFoThNe37DaMoWhIsMoThAMoBuWhTheHeItMyBlMo”.  You just have to love that.  (And I am not chiding that I have not seen a post in a few days. That whole school starting thing knocks the wind out of you–well at least it does me.)

Maria from One Day in Hania and Organically Cooked.  Oh my goodness have I learned so much from this woman’s blogs.  She gives detailed descriptions (with pictures) about all kinds of things pertaining to her life in Crete, and her cooking blog is just amazing.  Although she is Greek and grew up in New Zealand, and I am a midwestern American, we have a lot of common background.  OK, not everything (I didn’t get stuck in a foreign country for months due to outbreak of war when I was little), but more than one would think.

And last, but never least is Deirdre at ReluctantFarmChik. I have referred to her before as my “best” or “dearest” friend, but said those were not exactly the right words.  (Neither of our personalities support “dearest” with one another.)  So saying she is a “joy” to me is sort of in the same category, but in all honesty, she IS a joy to me.  She just started blogging, and I love it because it is just her personality coming through her stories.  She makes me laugh.  In real life she makes me laugh and pushes me places I would never go on my own.  Hanging out with her always means special privileges. And even though she is sometimes tough, she is NICE.  She treats me like family.  (Better than some family!)  Oh, and she’s blunt!

I hope you take a moment (or a few) and check out some of these blogs.

by Louise Cannon

Note:  The magnolia photos were taken in June in my neighbor’s yard.  None are blooming now.  And they do not enlarge when you click on them.  No idea why.
Mom's Donkey

Mom's Donkey

Yesterday I went to a funeral.  It was for a man from my church who suffered from a stroke about three weeks ago while recovering from a long illness.  He was a funny old man. 

It was the second funeral I have attended since my mother passed away in early December of 2006.  The other funeral was for a dear friend who passed away unexpectedly.  He was like a grandfather to Chic and Chicklet, especially Chicklet (who we have previous established has special relationships with men).  His funeral was in our church.  The one yesterday was in a funeral home.

Yesterday’s funeral had a couple of things that I thought were unusual.  The first was that there was a social time afterwards in the funeral home (which is what was completely new to me) that had appetizers–potluck style.  Chicklet was with me, and the service had already cut severely into her nap time, so I dropped off my dainty tidbits and left.  The other thing was that the during the service, the funeral director pulled every card from every floral arrangement and had the greetings read to the entire group sitting there.  Although I was not offended by this, I can think of a few reasons why that might not be a good idea.  It also took a very long time (cards were being pulled as the reading was happening).  We were already well past an hour of actual service, and Chicklet (age 4) was about fed up with quietly sitting still.

But through all of this, I did not mind being at the funeral home…

Funerals are not something I like.  OK, who likes them?  But I detest funerals.  By the time I turned eleven years old, I had been to well over 25 funerals that I could remember.  My father’s aunts and uncles were old.  My parents helped out old people.  We just seemed to be connected to a lot of people that died, and I had my fill of funerals at an early age.  Personally, the necessity of funerals had escaped me.  I have never thought I needed a funeral for closure.  To me they are mostly a time of misery.  A few forced laughs to check the flow of tears periodically, but overall not something necessary in my world.

Funerals are, however, necessary for most Americans, so whether you like it or not, when someone dies, there is usually going to be a funeral.

When my mom died the funeral was three days after her death.  Due to the circumstances of her death, and knowing what she would have wanted, my father, my brother and I decided to do it quickly and simply with no fanfare.  My mother’s family did not appreciate this at all and made the whole thing a big ordeal by their interference.  Their wishes were not granted.  (This is a completely different story, but they spent a lifetime making my mother’s and father’s lives miserable, so I was pretty firm about not bowing to their desires.  It was just their desires, and I knew it was against everything in which my mother believed.)  Since that time they have on their own done things to make my mother’s passing more to their liking, but at the time it was not at all to their liking. 

I was not with my mother when she died.  I knew she was going to die, and I had been there eight days before.  Had she lived I would have returned four days later, but I did not live close, and it was not possible for me to be there the entire time.  As we were driving back to Missouri after we learned of her passing, we got countless phone calls from my mother’s family, my mother’s caretaker and my father’s family all telling their side of whatever story and why we should do this or this or that, or complaining about some other party that had been calling us.  As was often the case before her death (years before), everyone was mad at everyone, and I was supposed to fix it.  At this time I probably was the logical person because my father and brother had been in the thick of things until the end, and neither of them had the emotional stamina to deal with selfish people.  Because selfish is what they were.  The reasons given why we should do this or that was never in consideration of my mother, her husband or her children.

Apparently, these people will never learn that it is unwise to order me around.  Making absurd demands of me, especially at a time like this, meant that I would do the exact opposite, if that was possible.  The only reason those people got anything the way they wanted was that I was on the road when my dad was at the funeral home, and he caved to one demand–to have a funeral.  (I would have had a private graveside service, which is what my mother wanted.)

Funerals are never pleasant events, and they tend to bring out the worst in people.  I do not think that was the case with my mother’s funeral because her family always has their worst on display.  For some crazy reason my mouth would still drop open at their unbelievable selfish behavior (shouldn’t I have been used to that after 41 years living around them?), but they were no different at the funeral than in daily life. 

Since I hated funerals, I was truly dreading this one.  I did not want a bunch of people comforting me.  The circumstances of my mother’s death (she had a 9-year illness that rendered her unable to take care of herself all those years) meant that I would have to put on the fake smile to many insincere people offering condolences.  Maybe some were truly sorry about our loss, but many ditched both of my parents when my mother’s illness began.  I have always been honest (brutally honest in the opinion of some), not false.  Politeness in this case would call for being deceptive, which I not only dislike, but think is wrong. 

The funeral went better than expected.  The family room at the funeral home was open to my dad, my brother, my mother’s caretaker, me and my family.  The other family was irritated that they were prohibited from being there, but their irritation was more than fine with me.  When it was over, I was relieved and just happy to be done with it…

Back to yesterday.  As I sat in the funeral home, I was comfortable.  It was not anything about it specifically (the sound system was bad, the decor was extremely dated, the service was too long and had odd additions to it), but just being there.  I thought about it the whole time I sat there and finally came to the conclusion that it was comfortable because I connected it to my mother.  The last time I had been in a funeral home, it was for my mother’s funeral.  It was after her life ended, which had not been so wonderful for many years, and she was finally at peace.  The last time I saw her face (with WAY too much make-up; she did not wear makeup at all) was in a funeral home.  Seeing her lifeless form was not a comforting experience, but the last time I saw her face before that, it was wracked with pain and pleading eyes.  She could not talk for several years before her death, but her eyes communicated quite clearly.  Near the end her eyes spoke of fear, pain and “PLEASE LET THIS END!”  So I guess when I saw her again, she was at least in a restful state.  No more pain.  No more family garbage.  Just rest. 

So as I sat there yesterday, I suppose my reflections were what they should have been at my mother’s funeral, had that time not been laced with so much emotion and family political posturing.  I had time to process and be comforted.  It was nice.

by Louise Cannon

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

After last week’s SkyWatch post, I wondered, “What can I find that is as spectacular?”  The answer is that I can’t find anything.  And I guess if I could all of the time, it would cease being spectacular.  Right out of college I lived in Iceland for seven months.  There was little daylight for more than four months of the seven.  There were amazing sunrises and sunsets, and that is all we saw in “daylight;” the sky was always pink or dark.  I remember the first time in the spring that I saw blue sky–the sun was up long enough to not have pink sky.  At the time, it seemed the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

This week’s SkyWatch is just a happy cloud behind some of my cosmos flowers.  What cloud wouldn’t be happy looking down on those cheerful blooms?

Cosmos are one of my favorite flowers.  The first year I planted them (on a whim), they were so prolific and beautiful that I made Prince Charming make a whole flower bed dedicated to them for the next summer.  I love this picture because of the cosmos, but also because of the deep blue sky, and very white, happy cloud.

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures,  head to the SkyWatch blog hosted by Tom, Sandy , Imac and Klaus

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My regular readers may have noticed my posting frequency has decreased.  I thought this might happen once school started.  It did.  There is nothing I can do about this crazy schedule.  I know you do not sit on the edge of your seat waiting for my posts, but just wanted to let you know what was up.  My first priority is reading your blogs, so if I have time to post when that is done, I work on it.   But there are lots less “available” hours in my day now than there were in the summer.

by Louise Cannon

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