Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Guest Post from a Victim of Hurricane Harvey

image from

This is an excellent post by a lady writing from the fury of Hurricane Harvey.  It is worth reading. I cannot possibly add anything to it.

The Good Thing Harvey Washed Away

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sandy Thoughts With Watery Conclusions

The thrill continues, living along the Atlantic Coast after years of mile-high living against the Rocky Mountains. At times I hardly know myself. I feel almost like a different person since we moved here earlier this summer.

from the Internet

I wear Bermuda shorts and flip flops nearly every day, and my hair has grown past my shoulders. I wear long dangling earrings to where I hardly know myself when I catch a glimpse in the mirror. I even used a brown rinse to cover the gray hair. Beloved said the other day, "You look like a million bucks!"

from the Internet
Yesterday we drove to the beach, not to swim, just to look at the water. I love to do that. (sometimes we don't want to fool with the sand on our feet)
from the Internet

In addition to the horrible Hurricane Harvey out on the Gulf Coast and in Texas, there has been a storm #10 (as the weather casters call it before it becomes something more serious, which this one did not) out in the Atlantic.  Blessedly, it only came within about 300 miles of Savannah and then turned to chug its way back out to sea in a northeasterly direction. 

the view from Joe's Crab Shack

But even that disturbance caused our beaches to have dangerous rip currents. Local television told us to not go in the water, but of course the surfer population considered that an invitation to go anyway. The waves were too much to resist.

stuffed shrimp wrapped with bacon on dirty rice
(I shared my Hush Puppies with Beloved since they were not gluten-free)

We had lunch again at what has become my fav seafood haunt on the beach. This time we ate outside under a tin roof at the bar on stools so we could see the waves crashing on the shore.

from the Internet
As much as I love visiting the beach, and how dearly I would love to have a blue-and-white wood cottage nestled among the sea oats on a sand dune (or should it be buttercup yellow?), practicality runs too strong in me. Lessons observed from this week's news reports about the devastation along the Texas coastline tell me I could never sleep easy if a storm were to form while I slept in my beachfront house.

Here in my new hometown, there is much on the news about hurricane preparations, and especially since Matthew did some serious damage to the city pier when he visited last October. 

We have been directed to a map of our county that shows which areas of the city would need to evacuate first. That is a sobering picture, but we are thankful to see our house is in a fairly safe area (all things considered, of course). 

We have stocked up on gallon jugs of water (1 gallon per person for 3 days for both drinking and bathing), the pantry is full of canned beans and fruit, we know where the flashlights are along with additional batteries, and a weather-alert radio sits atop the entertainment center beside the TV. (note: there is no need for me to stock up on tp. Beloved tells me I'm always overstocked with that.)

We've even talked about how if things got bad enough, we could move certain items to the second floor, and if it got worse than that, we could climb out the upstairs windows to stand on the porch roof to attract the attention of a helicopter to rescue us....

See where the mind goes?! "Earth to Barbara! Come in, please!"

from the Internet

Truth be told, there is no place on earth that is completely safe from disaster. We do our best to prepare wisely, trust the Lord, and go on with our lives.

I am still oh so glad to be here.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Dreams Realized and Spectacular Events

screened-in back porch
It is Saturday afternoon -- that time between busy activity and starting dinner. The photo above shows where I am sitting now, although the picture was taken a couple of days ago. 

My computer is balanced on my lap as I sit barefoot in that chair you see, waiting for my pedicure to dry.  (smile) The photo looks like there is a floating lamp shade in the back yard. It's really a reflection of a lamp in the family room. 

The screening of our back porch was installed on Thursday and we love it! I am reminded of Sue who, when she lived in Florida years ago, would love to sit on her covered patio beside the pool in the quiet of early morning to do her Bible study. I had a similar arrangement at my house (also in Florida at that time), but sitting outside for an extended length of time in the warm humidity was unthinkable to me. Now, here I am, doing that very thing with a happy, very contented heart.

Age and perspective have been the Creator's tools to change my heart on some matters. He is doing things within me I never dreamed possible.

Often my prayer on Saturday morning is asking the Lord to help me prepare my heart for church on the morrow. I do that now as I recount to myself (and to my readers) some of the highlights of this past week. There is so much for which to be thankful.

Starting with some of the basics, the Lord has given my heart permission to continue beating regularly and the energy to expand my lungs with fresh air. Exiting my bed every morning has been a painless action. Every single day I was able to follow my habitual route through the family room into the kitchen, flipping on light switches. Later, when I turned on the local morning TV news, I could readily see the Lord had faithfully watched over me through my hours of sleeping.

On Tuesday was the spectacular solar eclipse, and although clouds diminished the show in my area, from news reports we could tell it was truly a remarkable event wrought by God's hands.

the inside of our church sanctuary,
as seen from the balcony
before the service began

Wednesday night we met with our newfound church family for their usual supper served in the gymnasium. Beloved and I know next to nobody, so it was a delight as I put my plate at an empty table to have a female voice call out from behind me, "Are you alone? Come sit at my table!"

One of the senior members of the church was speaking to me. I picked up my things and took a place beside her, with Beloved following suit with his plate and cup. This pleasant lady introduced us to the couples who joined us, making sure we all got the names right, and then carried on a pleasing and informative conversation to make us feel welcome. That was a dream realized. We have been asking the Lord to put people in our way who will call us to themselves in a warm welcome.

After our dishes were put away, Beloved found his way to prayer meeting while I joined a ladies' Bible study class. By the time everyone had arrived, we had at least twenty in attendance. I have been looking forward to studying the Word with a group of women and making friends. As we went around the room introducing ourselves, I wondered to myself who would be my next good friend.  I am blessed with good friends sprinkled across the nation, but local friends are needed, too. This is a dream in-the-process of being realized.

Getting the back porch screened in is a dream, too. Over forty years ago I sat on a similar porch of Beloved's aunt in Alabama. On that warm muggy afternoon, much as it is here today, a ceiling fan spun above our heads. I thought how "southern" that was and I loved it. We lived in South Dakota at the time. I never thought that one day we would have our own porch in a warm climate with a southern fan gently cooling my skin.

newly-installed porch fan before the screening was installed
In the wake of the eclipse, another spectacular event is going on right now, as I type. Not a happy thing for those personally affected, of course, Hurricane Harvey is doing impressive things in Texas and Louisiana. Our nation is seeing, whether in person or on the media, the strength of nature created by our God. 

It has been a week to remember. As I ponder these things and prepare myself to attend church tomorrow, I meditate on the meaning  of worship as defined by Lauren Chandler, "Remember all the ways [God] has rescued and will continue to rescue." We are to "speak out loud of His faithfulness and thank Him for it."

Comments are closed for the weekend.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Eclipsed By Clouds

Some of this week's Hodgepodge questions by Joyce have to do with science. I'm answering the questions and then linking up with other bloggers over at

1. Did you watch the solar eclipse? Your thoughts?

We watched the solar eclipse on TV. The event in my town obscured due to clouds with rain showers, but it still got 91% darker, so that was good enough.

Sun Chips, Moon Pies, Starburst candies, a Blue Moon beer, a Sunkist orange, or a Milky Way candy bar ... what's your favorite eclipse-related snack on this list?

I'll go with the Starburst candies. I love that rush of sweet-sour in my mouth!

2. What are you 'over the moon' about these days? What's something you enjoy doing every 'once in a blue moon'?

the forest in our back yard
I'm 'over the moon' with the abundance of green trees, palms and the blue ocean here in Florida after living so many years in the semi-arid West where there is an abundance of brown.

Something I enjoy doing every 'once in a blue moon'  -- hmm, that would be going to a concert, a play or a conference downtown. Once I get there it's all good, but the traffic and crowds involved with going and coming back are not my favorite things at all.

3. Tell us about something in the realm of science that interests  you. How do you feed that interest?

I've never been much into science. But I do enjoy watching science fiction movies with my husband (Star Wars, Star Trek, etc -- nothing gory or too scary). I saw a space launch in person once at Cape Canaveral. That was very neat.

4. What are a few things  you remember about going back to school as a child?

I've had more than my fair share of new schools because my family moved a lot, so going back to school as a younger student was not a favorite thing for me. But as I got older, I looked forward to the back-to-school shopping for clothes.

5. I've seen several versions of this around the net so let's make one of our own...share with us five words that touch your soul and briefly tell us why.

Jesus Christ - without Him and what He has done for me, I'd be a genuine mess!

Heaven - it will be better than any of us can possibly imagine.

Marriage - the blessing of my husband has helped to keep me sane and focused on better, wiser pursuits.

Family - I'm thankful the Lord has seen fit to give me very dear relatives.

Quilts - sewing quilts over much of my adult life gave me a creative outlet and a means for serving others. Note: with this move I have given up sewing except for the occasional mending that may be necessary. I gave away all but the most basic of my sewing necessities so I can now devote myself to more reading, improving my cooking skills to accommodate my food allergies, and perhaps improved blogging.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

"before" the screen installation
This week our back porch will get screened in. I'm excited for that so we can enjoy sitting out there without the bother of bugs and other creepy crawlies. Yes, I realize that 'nature' can still find their way inside, but the screening will be a huge help.

* * * * *
Linking up at From This Side of the Pond,

Monday, August 21, 2017

This 'n That

wreath on our front door


I'm typing from the comfort of my red recliner. Beloved is in his recliner, playing a computer game on his laptop.

Today’s calendar:
This was the day of the solar eclipse. Here in my town it was predicted we would see 91% of totality. However, we had some huge thunderstorms this morning and those clouds were still with us at 2:45pm when the eclipse was in progress. It got darker around here, but the event was not real exciting. 

We had not planned to watch the eclipse outdoors anyway, so I took some snapshots inside the house to record the differences in lighting.

The TV coverage was good. This experience reminded me of how Beloved and I prefer to watch the 4th of July fireworks on TV instead of in person. As we get older we seem to prefer the safety of our own home rather than face loud noises, traffic, unpredictable people, and (in the case of an eclipse) possible blindness. 

I guess that sounds like life would pass me by without television, but we don't watch it all that much. Really.

This evening for supper we had oven-fried pork chops, boiled-halved-and-browned itty bitty potatoes, and a salad with mixed dark leafy greens, diced apple, dried cranberries, toasted almond slices, green peas, and a molasses vinaigrette. (I should have added some diced red onion, but I forgot.)

The dishwasher is at work in the kitchen, just steps from where I am sitting. The air conditioning is also softly blowing. I am so thankful for both of these 'servants.' (and no, the TV is not turned on) Silence can be golden.

The Art of Southern Charm by Patricia Altschul.  This is a secular read I picked up at Sam's Club, thinking I'd learn something about southern hospitality. As of now, I am on page 177 of 219. It's not my favorite book, but I want to see it to the end as it's an autobiography of a rather colorful woman and there is always something to learn (good or bad) when examining a person's life.

Yes, I'm learning some things about the author's version of southern hospitality. I feel certain she doesn't speak for everyone around here.

The pastor's wife at the church we joined this past Sunday will be leading the ladies in a Bible study over the next seven weeks. I am so looking forward to the study and getting acquainted with new people. Now that we are unpacked and settled into our new home and location, it's time to make friends and get involved with the community. 

Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler
The response of God to the Cries of Our Heart

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Peace in Troubled Times

sharing this from Face Book
The TV news this weekend has been unsettling. We need to remember that just because people have the means to televise something does not mean they are feeding us the truth. Much of the time the original story has been exaggerated or embellished with implications that are false, or worse.

Fear is a choice. Fear leads to worse things. 

Trusting in God is a choice. Trusting in Him is peace. Depend on Him to win over whatever troubles you. 

If you have accepted the salvation Jesus Christ offers, then you are covered for all of eternity and that will never change. Even when things on earth take a turn for the worse, our eternal security through Jesus Christ is never threatened, changed, or lost.

Choose faith in God. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Food for the Soul

the backyard of The Brown Bungalow,
edited from my former neighbor's camera

Karren texted me a snapshot of my flower bed at The Brown Bungalow. It was refreshing to see the "legacy" of flowers in one of Beloved's raised planter beds, as well as the three Austrian Pines lined up near the back fence. 

The white and pink flowers are Cosmos; the taller purple-flowered bush is Veronia Speedwell. She is a transplant from my brother-in-law's yard in the Midwest. 

With closer inspection based upon the four years we lived in The Brown Bungalow, I also see some rebel weeds growing out there.

The last time I saw that yard was nearly two months ago, so what we see now is the result of our planting and regular watering by the sprinkler and drip line systems in our absence, as well as some slackness in weeding since the house is still vacant and it no longer belongs to us.

You could say that this is our legacy, to those who are still in the neighborhood of the The Brown Bungalow.

I am reminded of a verse my mother wrote inside the cover of a Bible she gave to me years ago:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

III John 4

Every day, Beloved and I pray together for our children. We do our best to live so they will be influenced to wholeheartedly follow the Lord. It is our desire to leave a godly legacy (a 'flower garden') that will help others to see God's love and eternal provision for them through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 

The most satisfying moments of our lives are when we see our children following the Lord.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Where Everything is Old

St. Augustine is just down the road from us (sort of), an easy drive of about 28 miles. On the Atlantic coast, this place is the oldest continuously-occupied settlement in the United States. 

We did our homework by deciding ahead of time what things we wanted to see on this trip, and then found a parking garage in the middle of it all. The address for the parking garage was put into our cell phone map app and off we went!  

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is a huge stone structure on the coast of the Matanzas River, which is near the Atlantic Ocean.

Note: we got in for FREE with our National Parks passes. If you are 62 years or older, waste no time getting yours. They are good for the rest of your life! We have used ours many times across the country.

We were here about 21 years ago, back when we lived in Orlando. It was good to visit it again. We have discovered that although history has always been interesting to us, it is more so as we age and have the time to explore and think about its implications.

The beautiful setting on a sunny day hides the realities of war. I stood at this lookout, picturing in my mind the fear I would have felt when ships made their way toward the fort, seeking to do battle. I doubt I would have functioned well under such pressure.

Beloved, of course, having served his share of military time in years gone by, and also because he is an avid reader of historical fiction and science fiction -- he was very interested in the weaponry on display.

Let's see... how many cannons would you like to see? (smile) Beloved was able to give me an interesting description of how the various ones worked, how they would load them, the expected distance they could shoot, and so forth. 

It was interesting to see the notches placed at regular intervals in the top walls for the placement of the cannons. 

The Matanzas River is named after the Spanish word for "slaughter." Need I say more?

By the way, the stone used for construction is called coquina and is made up of sea shells. It is extremely durable. Instead of shattering when a cannon ball hit, the wall sort of absorbed the cannon ball. They would pluck the cannon ball out of the wall and re-use it! Re-cycling at its best!

In the center of the fort was a courtyard. During peacetime the soldiers would congregate here to deal with their muskets. When the town of St. Augustine was under siege, the citizens would gather here for refuge.

Cheerful tunes wafted over the breeze as we looked into doorways and windows.

There were no Memory Foam mattresses for the soldiers, but the necessities of life were made available.

After the war was over (or our tour of it), we sought the Colonial Quarter, just across the street from the fort. Shops and eateries lined the pedestrian area on both sides for several blocks.

We had two requirements as we looked for lunch:

1) air conditioning
2) a menu to satisfy my food allergies

After walking past several open-air places, we found the Bull and Crown Public House, which worked out very well. Beloved had a burger and I had a spinach salad. The air conditioning was a relief!

We wandered in and out of the shops, but didn't buy anything (this time). My faithful readers know how much stuff we disposed of to make the move from Colorado to Florida. I still can't bring myself to get very excited about shopping and buying more stuff!!

We love the architecture, flowers, fountains, trees, and palms. I feel like I'm in a dream, getting to live in such beauty!

As we strolled back to the parking garage, we stopped in at Ben and Jerrys for ice cream. Beloved got Butter Pecan and I got the Berry Sorbet (gluten-dairy-egg free).

This cemetery was on our route to the car -- we didn't stop because we were hot and tired, but headed on home to our recliners so that we, too, could 'rest in peace!' Ha!

It was a wonderful day.

P.S. There are many more things to see and do in historic St. Augustine, but our feet were tired and it was a hot day. We will return when the weather is cooler.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Food for the Soul

Main Street Bridge in Jacksonville

So give your servant a discerning heart 
to govern your people 
and to distinguish between right and wrong.
For who is able to govern 
this great people of yours?

I Kings 3:9 NIV

Comments closed for the weekend.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Hodgepodge Wednesday

"I saw the light!" when replying to Joyce's questions this week on the Hodgepodge. See my answers below, and then go to Joyce's website to see how other bloggers have responded to these same questions.
1. Do you try to set rules for yourself about how you use your time? Explain.

.Yes, I have scheduling rules for myself that I use MOST of the time. I wash clothing on Mondays, wash towels and clean bathrooms on Wednesdays, plan menus and the grocery list Monday - Wednesday, grocery shop on Thursdays, try to serve a dessert on Friday nights, attend church on Sundays, and have a daily quiet time of Bible reading and prayer. There are other rules I have for myself, but these are the ones I’m willing to share.

2. Monday was National Lighthouse Day. Have you ever visited a lighthouse? If not, do you have any desire to see one up close? Of the 10 Most Beautiful that made this list which would you most like to see in person? 

Lindau Lighthouse (Germany), Fanad Lighthouse (Ireland), Portland Head Light (Maine), Yaquina Bay Light (Oregon) The St. Augustine Light (Florida), Peggys Point Lighthouse (Canada), Start Point Lighthouse (England), Tower of Hercules (Spain), Bass Harbor Head Station (Maine), and White Shoal Light (Michigan)

.We have been to some lighthouses and they are interesting.  On the list given above, I’ve been to Portland Head Light in Maine, and the St. Augustine Light in Florida. Of those listed that I have not been to, the other one in Maine, Bass Harbor interests me, as well as White Shoal Light in Michigan. The one in Spain looks really great (and is OLD!!!), but I'm not interested in international travel right now.

When you've been away, what's your 'lighthouse' telling you you're on the right road home?

.We use the map app on our iPhones when traveling. It has also been VERY HELPFUL as we learn to navigate our new home town!!

wall decor in our den

3. What have you unintentionally stopped doing? Is this something you need to pick back up and begin again, or is it something you need to let go of for now (or even permanently)?

. I can’t think of anything I have unintentionally stopped doing. I tend to be pretty disciplined about the things that really matter.

4. We've had a full week of August. Share a GRAND moment from your month so far.

.Two of our grandchildren came to see us this past weekend and we all went to the beach together. We made the move a couple of months ago from Colorado to Florida so we could do this very thing: see the grandchildren more often. It’s wonderful!!

a tickle fest on the floor this past weekend:
grandkids, pups, and their mommy

5. Tell us one song you love with the word 'baby' in the title.

. Beloved and I collaborated on the answer to this one:

"The Ronettes" singing Be My Baby. (click on the title to watch the performance) By the way, spell check doesn't like the way this group spells their name and keeps "correcting" it to Rosettes. But if you are from my generation, you will know who I mean.

6.  Insert your own random thought here.

Raggedy Ann and Andy wait for the little girl to arrive
.This past weekend was the first use of the bunk beds we bought for visits of our grandchildren. We have 6 sets of them, 3 sets in each of two "dorm rooms" as we are calling them. We debated for weeks about the bedding options and finally decided to put sheets on the bottom bunks only, and make a rule that the top bunks would have sleeping bags only, AND you have to be at least 6 years old to sleep up there.  

If you have ever tried to put sheets on a top bunk, you will understand this reasoning perfectly. I am happy to report everybody cooperated fully with this idea. 

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I'm linking up today with Hodgepodge Wednesday! Will I see you there?

Monday, August 7, 2017


We've been in Magnolia Castle for a little over a month now -- long enough to detect areas needing change so our abode will meet specific requirements the previous owners did not have.

I am blessed to have a husband who takes pleasure in working with tools, in spite of the fact that he was not raised to do much of that in his boyhood years.

sliding glass door leading out to the back porch
The drapes by the back porch were left by the sellers, as well as wood blinds at all of the windows. We were grateful to not have to give window coverings a single thought as we moved in. However, the drapes on the left of the sliding glass door had a tendency to blow out the door every time we opened it, which could make them dirty, or even encourage critters to latch onto them and get a free ride into the house.

drapery hook/pull-back
We bought this piece of hardware in the drapery section of Lowe's. Beloved installed it with two 'mollies' (wall anchors). It works perfectly. Two of these hooks came in a package, but we didn't need to install the other one, and the window on the right side of the door   is too close to put a hook there.

drapery hook holding back the drapes

It's a more casual look than what we've had in the past, but I like it and this solves the problem nicely.

In a previous post titled "Decorating Conundrums" I wrote about the rounded walls throughout this house -- which is one of the reasons I'm calling my new home the "Magnolia Castle."

powder room wall
The powder room had some especially tricky issues. There was no toilet paper holder, so we bought a free-standing, self-storing holder. But I was not happy with that, and was having to re-fill the storage "can" in the holder too often. 

Also we have at least one young grandchild and her pup who are in that stage where, if left unattended, playing with the t.p. is a temptation too hard for either of them to resist. 

But with the curving wall, we weren't sure there was a flat enough space to install a traditional t.p. holder.  

a new style of toilet paper holder

We stayed in five different hotel rooms over the past few months and every one of them had this style of toilet paper holder, where it's attached at only one end of the tissue roll. This was the perfect solution since we didn't have much truly FLAT wall to work with.

a place to store additional tissue and hand towels
Also in the powder room, we had no place to store additional tissue rolls and more hand towels. We bought this cabinet (again, at Lowe's) and used dedicated teamwork to get it installed ourselves.

Of note: don't anybody ever anywhere ask us to do this again! We thought we had it up, secured in four places in the back when it literally fell into our arms off the wall moments after we had it hung!! But it's up now (as of several days ago) and looks to be secure.

laundry room shelves

The laundry room in this house is a tight squeeze, to be sure, and was not a hot selling point when we first walked through the house last April. However, we decided we could make it work. In the process of that, I knew more shelves would be needed. A person of my short stature can 'make do' only a little with the high wire shelves they put above appliances these days. So Beloved designed, built, and painted these shelves to the right of the drier. I am so grateful.

We have what is supposed to be a coat closet under the stairs, but I need that space for cleaning supplies and storage of the vacuum cleaner. It was a very dark place, so I asked Beloved what he could do about that. There was no electricity anywhere near it.

the light

His solution was to place an online order from Lowe's for a motion-activated LED light. He installed it above the doorway so that as we enter the closet, our movement turns the light on. As long as we are moving in there, it remains on. When movement stops, the light goes out after 60 seconds. It was  simple solution that helps me a lot.

the back porch of Magnolia Castle
As of this writing, we have no more home improvements planned that we can carry out ourselves. But we did sign a contract a few days ago to get the back porch screened in sometime in the next month. We had a screened-in swimming pool with our house in Orlando years ago and it was wonderful. It's like another room but it's outside, minus most of the bugs! It should be completed in time for the wonderful autumn weather with slightly cooler temperatures. Of course, I'll share pictures of that when it's done. 

Beloved on the back porch