Sunday, November 30, 2014

334/365-2 Give Thanks for the Holiday Season

"The Season"

Today marks the start of Advent, the beginning of the new liturgical year.  Today is also the eve of World ADIS Day.  Tonight I was honored to play for a service that remembered those who have lost their lives to AIDS, celebrated the accomplishments made by researchers in finding ways to manage this disease, and gave thanks for all those who are living long and productive lives despite being HIV positive.

333/365-2 Thankful for an Early Start

"Home for an Early Start to the Holidays"

Most of the day was spent traveling, but we did make it home in time to attend a holiday party at some friends' home.  It was a nice early start to the Christmas season.  OK, maybe it isn't really early for the rest of the world, but I am so far behind that it feels too early for Christmas to be in full swing.

Friday, November 28, 2014

332/365-2 Thanks for Traditions

Stand Back and Watch"

For me there has been nothing traditional about Thanksgiving this year.  Because of my schedule and things that needed to be done here in Delaware, I have spent my first Thanksgiving away from home and away from the girls.  Weber and I were graciously invited to my aunt's house for the holiday meal.  It was nice to be with them as we have not seen much of each other lately except under stressful conditions.  Still, it was not like being at home.  So, photographing tradition today was kind of tough.

After taking care of a bunch of business this morning, Weber and I went to the beach this afternoon.  It was so cold down by the water.  Weber actually stayed in the car.  I bundled up and headed out with my camera and tripod.  The wind was strong that even with my camera on a tripod, I couldn't keep it steady.  None of today's pictures were very sharp, but unlike the fuzzy photos that I took in Dover, today I know why.

On this Black Friday, I kind of feel like these gulls, watching the crashing waves and being glad that I am standing on the sidelines.  The thought of going anywhere near a big shopping area today was not appealing at all.  I don't like big crowds of people and there is nothing that I want or need that is so important as to necessitate me having to deal with the mayhem that is Black Friday.  I will get my holiday shopping done, probably sitting at home in my PJ's late at night.  I love online shopping!!!

Being on the beach was not without its discomforts.  In addition to the wind, it was super cold.  My hands got so cold that I could no longer feel the shutter release button on my camera.  That is when I had to quit.  Even having bone cold hands that hurt once they were no longer numb was a more pleasant experience than shopping today would have been!

330/365-2 Thanks for a Colorful Scene

"Colorful Cold Sunset"

I am making up here for Wednesday's photo that eluded me.  The weather on Thanksgiving eve was just plain nasty.  Here is Lewes it was wet and cold and gray.  Fortunately we did not have any freezing precipitation, like was the case just a little bit north of us.  Nonetheless, the day was not pretty; there were definitely no colorful scenes to be photographed.  In my current lack of creativity I couldn't think outside the box so that prompt had to wait until today.

It was still quite cold, but the sun was shining.  We took a stroll down to the beach.  The water was so blue.  It actually looked cold to me.  The Setting sun brightened the sky and warmed up the image a little.  The scene is much more colorful than anything I saw on Wednesday!  I particularly like the book dancing across the water.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

331/365-2 Give Thanks for Family

"Him and His Coffee"

When your day begins with a cup of coffee this big, you have to think hard about whether or not there is anything else for which to be thankful:-)

I am thankful to wake up and share every morning with him and his coffee.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

329/365-2 Give Thanks for Dessert

"Pignolis for Two"

The more appropriate quote to accompany this picture is, "If at first you don't succeed, eat dessert again."

I spent a lovely day with fellow photographers Michele and Peggy exploring  Delaware's capital city of Dover.  We walked, talked, listened and took a few photos along the way.  We ate a tasty lunch and then made our way to a quaint little coffee shop to have dessert and accomplish today's photo prompt.  Dessert was indeed delicious, but my photos were a colossal failure, not just those of dessert but the whole day.  I don't even know what went wrong, but every image was blurry and just plain bad.  I don't know if it was some kind of equipment issue or user error.  I'm really hoping that it was user error because that is easier to address than having to send my camera or a lens off for repair.

The upshot of this was that Weber and I had dessert tonight too so that I had something to photograph.  It was for the sake of art!  Oh the sacrifices...

Monday, November 24, 2014

328/365-2 Thanks for Enough to Share

"Tea For As Many As There Are Cups"

We are beginning the overwhelming task of figuring out what to keep and what to find new homes for  at my dad's house.  Actually, it was my grandparents house and much of what is here belonged to them rather than my parents.

My girls want these tea cups that belonged to their great grandmother.  There are enough of them to share and both girls still have plenty.  The cups have a few different patterns, all of them pretty and colorful.  As I was photographing the cups and thinking about my girls having them, having "enough to share" is not really about the cups themselves, but the fact that they represent hospitality.  My hope is that my girls will always be willing to open their hearts and homes to others, to share the literal and figurative cup of tea with as many people as their are cups.

I chose to process this without color to take some of the focus off of the beauty of the cups themselves.  Perhaps I am being a little too introspective with my photos right now.

327/365-2 Thanks for Unfamiliar Places

"Road to..."

We are back in Delaware for the week.  It will be strange not to be at home for Thanksgiving, but we needed to make a trip back east and this worked out to be the best time.

I took a walk down the road in the late afternoon.  I have been walking on this road almost all my life yet it is beginning to feel a bit unfamiliar.  On "our' end of the road, the houses date from the late 1800's.  Now there is all kinds of new construction going on further down.  Needless to say it is a little shocking to move from the colonial period to the 21st century in just a few steps.  I don't know why this seems so strange to me when I saw this very thing all over Europe - Gothic Cathedrals next to modern buildings.  Maybe my uneasiness is because this was at one time a very familiar place and now it is not so much.

326/365-2 Give Thanks for a Dramatic Sky


There were no dramatic skies in Texas on Saturday.  It was gray, rainy, and just plain yucky.  The only dramatic anything in our world this day was the blooming amaryllis.

Friday, November 21, 2014

325/365-2 Give Thanks for the Unpredictable

"Disco Leaf"

Nothing says unpredictable like the combination of me and a Lensbaby.

And, thank you Jim for sending the photo of the Virgin America plane that reminded us all of those disco days.  Just the mention of "You Should Be Dancing"  sent me right back to the seventies:-)  I'm not sure that's a good thing:-)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

324/365-2 Give Thanks for Companionship

"Purrfect Pals"

There is no shortage of furry companions around our house.  There was, however, a shortage of those furry companions willing to be photographed today.  I managed this candid shot of Brooke and Frankie.  The cat loves it in the evening when everyone settles down and she can find a cozy spot next to someone where there is the real possibility of a little attention...but not too much.  Frankie did not want to sit on Brooke's lap, or even share the chair with her.  The feline preference was for her own chair, but her own chair that was in reach of her sissy's hand so that continuous head rubbing could happen.  This worked for Brooke as well in that she had a quiet companion while she read.  A win-win situation...the best kind!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

322/365-2 Give Thanks for Final Stages

"Endings and Beginnings"

I struggled with today's photo.  I have admitted recently that I am in a creative rut, but it was more than that.  I sat for awhile trying to think about something that I could photograph.  Coming up with nothing, I thought a little more about final stages, about the end.  I realized that the source of my difficulties is that I don't really believe in absolute endings, but rather changes that spark new beginnings.  Endings and beginnings, in my way of thinking are not at opposite ends of a continuum,; rather, they are points side by side on the circle of life.

You would think that having experienced the loss of my dad this fall, my perception of final stages and the end would be quite different than it is.  Don't get me wrong, there were final stages, but those final stages led to new beginnings rather than absolute endings.

This time of year is confusing as well with regard to beginnings and endings.  The secular world sees the year as coming to an end.  Healthcare choices for 2015 need to be made.  Taxable donations need to be doled out.  New calendars need to be bought.  All before December 31st, the end of the year.  Yet as this world has its sights set on the coming end, the liturgical world is preparing to celebrate a new year with the beginning of Advent and a new church year.  Beginnings and endings side by side.

We won't even talk about the academic year, which has a whole other schedule of beginnings and endings.

I know this all sounds a lot like that cliche saying, "When one door closes, another door opens."  I really don't like that particular saying.  It sounds like we are playing "Let's Make A Deal."  And who says that when a door closes it is an end?  Perhaps doors close to give us time to think, to pray, to be still and know.  Perhaps it is that same door that will re-open but at that point we are in a different place.  Is that a beginning or an end?  Perhaps it's both.  And if it's both, which is more significant?  Can one exist without the other?  Or do either of them really exist?

So you see,  my mind is awash with many questions and few answers thus the source of my frustration and difficulty with today's prompt.

So now I will end my day by beginning to sleep so to awake in the morning at the end of the night to begin a new day...

Monday, November 17, 2014

321/365-2 Give Thanks for Comfort Food

"Comfort Food"

The suggestion with today's prompt was to photograph a can of soup.  Nothing says comfort like chicken noodle or tomato soup, right?  But, after photographing oatmeal yesterday as my lame response to home cooking, there was no way that I was going to photograph a can of soup today.  

Chicken and sausage jambalaya was on the menu tonight...from scratch!  It was warm and hearty and comforting.  Since the intention of today's prompt was to challenge ourselves to find an interesting perspective on the can of soup, I decided to at least focus on the vessel in which the jambalaya was served.  The gorgeous tureen was made for us by a wonderful friend.  

As we ate, we were comforted in body by a warm, healthy home cooked meal and comforted in spirit 
in knowing that we are blessed by such caring friends.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

320/365-2 Give Thanks for Home Cookin'

"Oatmeal for Dinner"

I am truly chuckling as I post today's photo...of cooking from scratch???  I do enjoy cooking ...from scratch.  I do cook most of our meals...from scratch.  Today just didn't happen to be one of those days.  After church this morning we had a fantastic lunch with a group of our most treasured friends.  Lunch was delightful and filling.  When dinnertime rolled around, neither of us was particularly hungry.  Finally I decided that I should eat something...and oatmeal it was.  In my defense, it was not instant oatmeal!  The stove was used and there was a cook time that exceeded one minute.  And, I added the milk and brown sugar myself.  Surely that counts for something on the home cooking scale, doesn't it?  Honestly, oatmeal was the perfect comfort food on this chilly snowy night.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

319/365-2 Give Thanks for the Beauty of Nature


After a morning rehearsal, I "took the day off."  I didn't do anything today that resembles work in any work for school and no household chores.  Right now this feels really good.  Tomorrow when I have to do laundry and prepare for school next week, I may be sorry for my day of irresponsibility, but right now I am feeling pretty darn good!

It was cold and wet here today.  I didn't have much inspiration or much incentive to go looking for the beauty of nature.  Truthfully, I am in a serious creative rut.  The best I could do was wander out into the yard hoping to find something.  Amidst the wash of brown that is our yard, I did notice this lone bloom on the Mexican Heather.  The pink really stood out against the non-color that surrounded it.  

I wish that I had the same will as does this little flower to persevere against all odds.

Friday, November 14, 2014

318/365-2 A Quiet Place

"Sleepy Boy"

Our boy likes to talk - mostly about food.  He also likes to tell us how happy he is when we get home, which usually takes at least an hour.  He likes to talk to the critters outside.  He also likes to tell us how much he loves us.  When he finally finds his quiet place, the rest of us can also enjoy a quiet place.

317/365-2 Holding On To Memories

"Making Memories of Pumpkin Bread"

At this time of year my mom always used to make pumpkin bread, a favorite treat of mine.  When I got married (the first time) she copied by hand many of my favorite recipes from my childhood (and of few of her favorites that have never made it on to my favorites list).  For many years, I pulled the card for the pumpkin bread straight out of the box and used it as it was, unprotected from the drips of pumpkin, vanilla and who knows what other ingredients.  In my youth, I had no idea how much I would later value having these recipes written and preserved by my mother's hand.  I still make this recipe many times a year, but the recipe card is now protected by a plastic sleeve.  I have also typed and saved the recipe on my computer, but for some reason, the pumpkin bread just doesn't taste right if it is not made by reading from the stained and smudged blue index card.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

314/365-2 Give Thanks For New Adventures

"Time To Zip Up"

Our 80 degree temperatures of today are going to become freezing temperatures over the next couple of days.  Like most of the United States, Texas is preparing for its first blast of cold air of this season.  I am ready for it!  I like the cold.  Tonight I dug out my warm clothes wool coat.  I am looking forward to the days when I can come home from school and put on my sweats and flannel shirts.  It may not be sexy, but it sure is comfortable.  And comfort trumps sexy any day in my book!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

313/365-2 Perspective


...a good piece of advice for all of us.

And I am finally caught up!!!

312/365-2 Interesting Light

"Us In November"

Today's photo was supposed to be a portrait using interesting light.  Truthfully, I was uninspired.  There is not much creativity here and there certainly isn't any interesting light.

Each month I have attempted to take a photograph of each of the girls and one of Weber and me together.  Amidst the chaos of the month of October, I didn't get a photo of us, so today was the day.  Everyone has to break the rules every now and then.

311/365-2 The Little Things

"Little Big Things"

In the few days after my dad passed away, countless people asked me what they could do for me.  Admittedly, I am not very good at asking for help, but during that time, I didn't really even know what to ask for...except from one person.

My dad always loved gardening.  He always had a vegetable garden and he always had houseplants.  When he retired from the Navy and moved back to Delaware, he went to work for a high school friend who owned a greenhouse business.  When that person inquired as to what I needed, my immediate response was to ask if he could ship some of dad's plants to me.  He graciously agreed to do that.  They arrived on this day.

These are just run of the mill house plants...cactus, aloe, some jade plants...but several of them dad propagated.  In my simple little mind, in them a small piece of him still lives on in these plants.

310/365-2 Mother Nature

"Chaos and Calm"

My life right now is an equal dose of chaos and calm.  There is nothing in between.

309/365-2 Where I Stand

"Heading Home"

...after a long day at school and then choir rehearsal that night.

308/365-2 Movement

"Texas Is Red"

It was a dismal day in Texas.  There was no movement at the traffic or in the politics.  Red prevailed in both places.  A very sad day for our state and our country.

307/365-2 Good Smells

"Sweet Smell of Shortbread...and Coffee"

Tonight Brooke made me my favorite...chocolate chip shortbread.  And what better way to enjoy it than with a cup of hot coffee!

306/365-2 Sun to Light Your Path

"Looking Up"

I did't see much sun on my path today, but I was struck by the sun coming through the tree in our neighbor's from yard.

305/365-2 Yourself


I am still playing catch-up with regard to posting photos here, but I did get back on track as far as taking my daily shots beginning on November 1st.

On the first of November, All Saints Day, we celebrated my dad's life at a memorial service held at St. Pete's episcopal Church in Lewes.  I crafted a service whose readings and music I thought best reflected the man that man dad was.  Father Jeff Ross preached a moving and meaningful homily.  The service concluded with members of the U.S. Navy presenting me the flag that had draped the casket last week and then Taps followed by a twenty one gun salute.  This service was everything that I wanted and needed it to be.

A reception was held at the Lewes Yacht Club.  It was not what I would have planned had I been in charge.  However, I think people enjoyed it.  Those who wanted to were given the opportunity to say a few words of remembrance.  I did enjoy hearing people speak to many aspects of my dad's life - grade school and high school friends, classmates from the U. S Naval Academy, people who had served with him at various times during his career and those in Lewes who knew him from his involvement with the Lewes Historical Society and the Overfalls Lightship Foundation.

When we got back to the house, we were all in kind of a reflective mood - thinking about lives lived, lives passed, and all the memories made in between.  I found this portrait that my parents had done of me when I was around three.  As I looked at it,  I was thinking about how grateful I am for all that I have had and all that I have done in my life as well as for all the people that I have met on my journey on earth.

Here is another picture that better shows the actual portrait.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Rest of October

Dear Blog and Blog Readers,

I am sorry that I neglected you during the month of October.   October became a whirlwind month of travels both literally and on the emotional roller coaster of life.  Now that the month is over, I can look back and see that in the difficult days, there were also many blessings.  In this single post, I am including most of the photos from October and the story of my last month.  As you will see, some days the photos just didn't happen.  Though I will "make them up" so that my Photo A Day from 2014 is complete, leaving the holes as I post today is also indicative of the way my month went.

Thank you all for your patience and support.

With gratitude,

283/365-2 Off-Prompt

On Friday October 10th, Weber and I left early in the morning for Delaware to go visit my dad.  Though our trip had been previously planned, it turned out to be a good time to visit because he was in the hospital.  When we arrived, Dad looked much weaker and more frail than he had six weeks earlier.  He was running a fever and the doctors suspected that he had a touch of pneumonia.  They pumped him up on antibiotics with the hope that that would keep the pneumonia from progressing and generally help him to feel better.  He had very little energy so long visits were not the best thing for him.

Hospital visiting hours ended at 8pm.  Weber and I went back to the house to settle in and find something to eat.  On the table was a book,  A History of the United States.  That doesn't seem like such a big deal; there are lots of history books in the world.  This one, however, had a copyright date of 1876.  It was written for the United States centennial and it ended with the Grant administration.  Needless to say, the history buff to whom I am married disappeared into these pages for awhile that night.  Dad gave us the book to bring home.

284/365-2 Vibrant

When we arrived at the hospital Saturday morning, things were not looking any better.  In fact, they were really not good.  It had been determined that dad had received all of the possible treatment for his cancer.  There was nothing more that could be done.  Though he said that he wanted to go to a care facility, I was fairly sure that that was not what he really wanted.  He was just saying that to make things easier on me.  By the middle of the day, I finally got him to admit that he wanted go home.  That set into motion all the things that needed to be done to arrange for hospice care as well as around the clock care once we came home.

Originally we were supposed to stay in Lewes only through Monday of the following week.  It became clear on that Saturday that we needed to stay longer, how much longer we weren't sure at that point.  Both Weber and I sent emails saying that we would not be back at school on Tuesday as we had planned.  We are both blessed to work for understanding people who told us to take as much time as we needed.  That made all that we were dealing with a little more manageable.

285/365-2 Leaves

On Sunday we continued making arrangements and readying the house to bring dad home.  We needed to have a hospital bed delivered because he could no longer walk up the stairs to his own bed. Though he was not eating much, we went to the grocery store and stocked up on things that he liked and might eat.  About 3pm, the medical equipment people brought everything we needed and about 4 a good friend arrived home with dad.  We wheeled him in (he trusted me to maneuver the wheel chair) and got him settled in his recliner.

Dad's mind was one hundred percent functional, but his body was failing quickly.  He needed help with anything that required physical exertion.  I am grateful to have had the honor to help him during this time.

286/365-2 Frolic

There wasn't much frolicking going on in our world; we were all moving slowly but by some miracle efficiently.  We had time to sit and talk and enjoy one another.  And to watch this chubby robin frolic in the bird bath.

We began to establish a daily routine.  I learned the way that dad was comfortable having things done for him and he learned to be patient with me as I did my best to keep him safe and comfortable.

287/365-2 A Warning

After two nights of me sleeping downstairs on the couch and Weber sleeping in the recliner, I needed a few minutes to get out and walk and stretch and get a little fresh air.  I walked the block up to downtown in the small town of Lewes.  Lewes is a beach resort town.  It is overrun by tourists during the summer months.  The town makes quite a bit of revenue from these meters thanks to the tourists.  It just so happened that this day was the last day that the meters were in effect for this season.

288/365-2 Pumpkin Time

Though many of the shops were decked out in fall decorations, the weather was still fairly warm and the trees had not yet started to change much.  I did enjoy an afternoon walk looking at all of the fall colors in the shops and in private yards.

Dad's friends came by the house non-stop.  That was good for us in that it gave us break, time to step back and make sure that we were doing what we needed to do both for us and for dad.  It was also good for dad to see how many people care about him, but it also made him very tired.  When someone would call and ask if it was OK to come by, I was always torn between not wanting to turn them away and not wanting to tire dad.  In the end, I think I told anyone who wanted to come to come on; he might be asleep, but he might not.

289/365-2 Yellow

This was taken in dad's garden.  The red flower definitely pops, but there is yellow booked so I decided that was good enough for the day's prompt.

290/365-2 In the Front

After arranging 24/7 care at home for dad, Weber and I decided to head home on Friday morning, October 17th.  We already had tickets to be back the following weekend.  Leaving Friday would give us the weekend to catch up and prepare for school.  Since we had not intended to be gone for the entire week, our lesson plans were a little scattered.  I gave dad a hug and told him that I loved him.  We left Lewes about 9:30 in the morning.  We made our way to Salisbury for the first leg of our flight, which took us to Philadelphia.  After a layover, we landed back in Dallas about 8pm.

I called to see how things were.  The caregiver said that she had called the hospice nurse because dad had taken a serious turn for the worse.  He had asked to get back in bed about 11am and had not been up, or even really awake, since then.  His breathing was slowing.  By 9pm, he had passed away.

We made flight arrangements for Saturday morning, again sent emails saying that we would not be at school on Monday, and dumped the dirty clothes out of our suitcase and repacked.  By 8am the next morning we were back on a plane headed back to Delaware.  At that point I had no clue what was even in the suitcase.  The previous twelve hours were a great big blur.

291/365-2 Lingering

I'm not sure why we felt such an urgency to get back to Lewes.  There wasn't a whole lot that we could do over the weekend.  We got back and walked into the house.  It was exactly the same as when we had left the day before except that dad wasn't there.  I wondered how it would feel when we got there.  There was a strange sense of peace.  Perhaps I felt this because I know that Dad left this world peacefully and in no pain.

We wandered down to the garden and noticed a few red peppers lingering.

The whole day felt a little surreal.

292/365-2 Return

This was our view many days during the month of October.

293/365-2 At the Market

294/365-2 Bats

295/365-2 #20

296/365-2 Where I Stand

The funeral home with whom we worked in Lewes were absolutely amazing.  They were kind, compassionate and so helpful.  I decided that we would do the burial on October 24th and have a memorial service the following week, November 1st.  This would give people who had to travel long distances and opportunity to make it to the memorial service.  

The burial service was short but beautiful and meaningful.  Dad was buried with full military honors. I wasn't sure whether it was acceptable to take photos so I asked the funeral director and he said that it was perfectly alright.  I am glad that I have this photo.

297/365-2 Sweets

We spent the following weekend in Philadelphia because I had a NOAH board meeting.  It was nice to have something else to think about for a couple of days.  And I consoled myself with peanut M&Ms when things got tough.

298/365-2 Costumed

299/365-2 Drive By

300/365-2 My Week

After being away two weeks,  we finally went back to school on October 27th.  Though we both had a great deal of catching up to do, I would not have changed anything.  I am grateful that I was able to care for my dad during his last week on this earth.

301/365-2 Gray

I laughed when I saw the daily prompt of "gray."  It would be so easy to wallow in the gray dismal-ness of all that had been and was going on, but I knew I couldn't do that nor did I really want to.  On this day I received these flowers from a friend.  I love the vibrant colors.  To place them against the gray of the sidewalk was all the power that I was willing to give to the color gray.

302/365-2 Spooky

303/365-2 Raven

304/365-2 The Loot

 On Halloween we headed back to Delaware for the memorial service.  The girls joined us for the weekend.  The service was beautiful but not all in Lewes is pretty right now.

As Weber so aptly says, where there is a will, there is a relative.  There are few people that couldn't wait to start telling me all of the things that they want from the house.  Needless to say, I was appalled by this behavior on many levels.  Yes, there are some things I want; the most immediate was dad's Navy sweatshirt.  And Erin, the Texas Ranger fan, wanted her granddad's Phillies hat. They were supposed to attend together the 2014 season opener between the Rangers and the Phillies here in Texas, but his cancer diagnosis kept that from happening.