Saturday, September 30, 2017

A Smile for You

This past summer as we were moving to Florida, we spent a night in a Hampton Inn along I-80 in Nebraska. These were the paper cups provided in the bathroom. I wanted to share them with my readers but forgot until now. Cute, huh?!

This is the day which the Lord hath made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

A Couple of Tropical Notes

September 2nd Rose

The month of September is winding down fast. Before it gets entirely by me, here are a couple of thoughts and pictures. 

trimmed and put into a vase on the breakfast table

Beloved and I always celebrate the anniversary of our first date on September 2. This year it was 49 years! (you can do that math as to what year that was, but understand, we were just teens at the time) I was in the kitchen preparing dinner when he walked in from an errand with an armful of gorgeous yellow roses. Always and still, he's a man after my heart! 

Dragon Fruit

It was very late August or early September when I was shopping the fresh produce section of Whole Foods Market, which is where I found this odd-looking item. Dragon Fruit, or Pitaya is a rich deep rosy pink color with a tough-looking outer skin. I had no idea what to do with it, so I asked the clerk who was stocking in the area. She said it has many tiny seeds, much like kiwi and that she had never tried it because she was afraid she would not like the texture.

Just one of these beauties was something like $4 but my grocery budget could handle the expense that day, and I was up for a small adventure, so I bought one. After getting it home I Googled "Dragon Fruit." (I love the Internet!) According to Wikipedia, Dragon Fruit is from several cactus species indigenous to the Americas. 

A sharp knife cuts through that tough outer skin to reveal  a milky-white texture inside heavily dotted with teeny tiny black seeds. I used a cereal spoon to scoop out some of the flesh in one half to taste. It was mildly sweet and the seeds were so tiny that they slid right down without a problem.

With my Internet research, I saw this clever serving idea, so I cubed up what remained of the white flesh in both halves and then served it to Beloved and myself in a 'bowl' of the pink skin. 

More research told me that Dragon Fruit is very nutritious, which is fine, but I decided at that price, we'll get our nutrition in less costly foods and not make a habit of buying this often. 

Hurricane Irma in my neighborhood
Of course the biggest story of the month has been the hurricanes -- THREE of them hitting American soil in less than four weeks' time.  I tried to get a picture of all of the branches of our front yard palm tree blowing in one direction at the same (ala Weather Channel), but alas, this was the most dramatic shot I could capture.

My daughter-in-law has told me hurricane season doesn't end until November 30th.  Even though we were blessedly spared serious consequences for the most part, we can hardly wait for the season to end.

Denise in the Rockies
One of the most odd, and yes, nostalgic, aspects of September for us this year has been the continuing of summer for us while so many of our friends in Colorado are reporting the changing of the Aspen trees from green to gold and the dropping nighttime temperatures. 

If we had not already felt a parting of the ways when our moving truck rolled away from The Brown Bungalow last June, then this realization that we will not experience autumn in the Rockies pretty much settles it. 

Jacksonville Beach
We hold those mountain-high experiences dear and take pleasure inhaling ocean air as often as is practical. 

positioned prominently in my closet so I see it every single day

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Safe Place to Be

Garcia's at the Fort Worth Stockyards
It's been my privilege to be in so many beautiful locations throughout the years, places with an abundance of both natural and manmade appeal. 

Most beautiful places give me a feeling of peace inside, but we know lovely scenes are no guarantee of safety. This summer we have seen destruction on a huge scale of areas ordinarily prized for their grandeur and impressiveness.

Where do we go when our protection crumbles or is overcome with flood, fire, wind, or man's evil inclinations? 

The first course of action is survival, of course. We do what comes most naturally to escape danger for ourselves and those nearby, and to protect our possessions.

But when all of that is done to the best of our ability and we wait to see what happens next, where do we go in our thoughts? 

During Hurricane Irma the time came when our power went out and the weather radio went off, telling us to go immediately to our 'safe place' because tornadoes were nearby. We did that. We grabbed our glasses and shoes and took refuge in the center of our house, away from windows, closing the door behind us.

Not a comfortable room, we sat on the hard tile floor, each in a corner both for the sake of space and for back support, padded with pillows and cushions and blankets tossed over our legs. 

There in my corner I knew I had done all I knew to do, all I sensibly could do to prepare myself for disaster and, well, whatever would come. What next?

Of course I prayed. When we come to the very end of ourselves and all that we can possibly do, we call out to the One who is in control of it all. We ask for His mercy and protection. We quote scripture to ourselves, using those very words of our Lord Himself as we speak to Him out of our fear. We tell Him of our trust and dependence on Him, reminding ourselves He has us in His hands and all will be well because we belong to Him. Whether we live or die, He's got hold of us.

All of this was happening while the weather radio continued to repeat the warnings to take cover. How did God respond to us? 

We fell asleep! Beloved dozed off first. The power had gone out and it was the middle of the night, so I could not see him at all, but I could hear his gentle snoring. He was asleep! Then sleep overcame me as well. 

That was answered prayer! That was God's mercies on us. He enveloped us with such peace that we fell into slumber on the laundry room floor while relying on Him to care for us. We stayed that way for the better part of four hours, until the radio had quieted down from the frantic reports and we sensed daylight was outside the door. 

The LORD is my shepherd...
He makes me to lie down...
He leads me beside quiet ...
Even though I walk through the valley
of the shadow of death ...
I fear no evil;
for Thou art with me...
Surely goodness and lovingkindness
will follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(phrases from the Twenty-third Psalm)

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Welcome Autumn!

front door message

I'm welcoming Autumn today. It's expected to arrive in my time zone somewhere between 4 and 5 p.m.  

It's advent will be of special interest to me since I usually greet the season with jeans, sweaters, socks, a light-weight coat, and sometimes a snow shovel. 

my fav footwear
This year, of course, I'll be keeping the boots and socks tucked on some high shelf while I continue my "life is better in flip flops" fashion mantra.

Yes, yes, I've read that wearing flip flops all the time is not a good idea (posture, back and foot problems, etc.)

But for someone who has been bound up with restrictive, cold weather footwear for decades, my toes are greatly enjoying this new-found freedom and cannot easily let it go. I've learned, to my surprise that flip flops are not just an accessory; they are a way of life! 

I will admit, however, that when I have serious walking to do beyond my home, I usually change out of the blingy footwear into a more serviceable sandal that can support my feet better. (Having my entire foot exposed to crowds of clumsy people and grocery cart wheels makes me shudder.) I still have a long-standing love affair with my 5 pair of Naturalizer pumps (with hose) that I wear most Sundays to church. (may they never wear out!!)

back porch table

Another difference in how I will greet Autumn this year is with more outside dining. In years past, September temperatures could vary from fantastically wonderful to suddenly cold (along with measurable snow). Enjoying dinner out on the deck was not an assumption.

My readers may remember that we brought with us from Colorado a beautiful, huge heavy black metal table and chair set that fit with lots of room to spare on our equally huge deck.  Due to some blindspots in our perspective, we didn't realize until we were unloading the moving truck that the set absolutely would not fit on the back porch of this house in Florida. We sold it to our realtor and bought this smaller round table.  The fit and look are perfect.

pancakes on the porch

Especially now that the back porch has been screened in, this has become a favorite place for breakfast, lunch, and coffee. Dinner? Well, the current angle of the evening equinox is such that the sun pierces through the forest trees, blinding us. This will change in the weeks to come, so when that happens, we'll be having supper out there, too!

Internet photo. Google Images: "cardinal"
The other day I was enjoying my coffee on the back porch when a fellow who looked just like this guy showed up just steps away! I was delighted!! Red Cardinals don't normally take up residence in Colorado but according to my research, they are in Florida year around. Later that same day, Beloved got to see both Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal in our trees.

Of course, in our former home, September was a time when the birds were packing up their bags and heading to warmer climes! 

jigsaw puzzle - TWO pieces were missing from the box!
As I work this line of thought about changes we experience with this season, there is one "elephant-in-the-room" difference between Autumn in Florida and Autumn in Colorado. Hurricanes. That is one dissimilarity that does not please me. 

When we moved here, we knew that kind of weather was a possibility, but in spite of Hurricane Matthew taking out the Jacksonville Pier just this past October, such storms were more of a rarity in northeastern Florida. We did not especially concern ourselves about that. Well. 

The deed is done. We are here. We will do our best, just like everybody else.  

As the storm came closer and we were gathering our survival supplies, we stopped into the Hallmark store to buy two jigsaw puzzles. That proved to be a good idea after Irma took down our electricity (at least during the daylight hours).

our dining room is just inside the front foyer of the house

With the arrival of Autumn, I don't know how much I'll decorate with the traditional cold weather themes, especially when we get to winter. I mean, we sold our snow blower and donated most of our really heavy winter clothes, so why would I feel obligated to decorate with snowmen?  Hmm. I may have to re-think that one. I do have some mighty cute snowmen in my collection...

beaded butterfly table runner from Pier One Imports

We were in Pier One Imports last week when one positive aspect of Hurricane Irma came to light: a reduction of an additional 30% off ALL merchandise (including sale items) in all stores affected by the hurricane! I have had my eyes on the beaded table runners for months but did not want to hand over the full asking price. 

The first one I saw was autumn leaves and it was gorgeous.  I looked through all of them to see if there was another one I might like better. That's when I found this one with the butterflies, a decidedly spring design, of course.

A mental debate ensued and I finally decided that since our house has a tendency to look a little dark during the daylight hours, I preferred the brighter colors of the springtime beaded runner over the one with the autumn leaves.  This is Florida, after all. 

close-up of the beaded butterflies

So with that conclusion, the purchase was made. Now that the jigsaw puzzle has been assembled (minus 2 missing pieces that apparently never left the puzzle factory, grrr!), the dining table is showing off the new table runner.

There is more to Autumn than what I've recorded in this post, food being one.  We will enjoy the traditional edibles of the season. Some things just never change, and that's as it should be.

Autumn door decor with a palm tree in the background

P.S. If you have the time, please visit the blog of my friend Lea who has encouraged me to invest in beaded table runners. She's been buying them for some time, which inspired me to add them to my decor.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Quick Wednesday Hodgepodge

Well.... I spent my blogging time tonight redesigning my header (above) so now I  need to rush through the weekly Wednesday Hodgepodge questions. Tomorrow I'll join the other participating bloggers at this link:

1. What's something you'd rate a 10/10? Tell us why.

Canned cherry pie filling. It never disappoints me. If I didn't know better, I'd eat a whole can of the stuff and call it dinner.

2. What job would you be terrible at? What makes you think so?

I would be an absolutely terrible cashier. I am not good with math/arithmetic/numbers. 

3. When did you last take a fall? What's something you're falling for (in a good way) these days?

There's my famous fall on December 6, 2008 when I fell from the kitchen counter while putting decorations above the cabinets, shattering my left shoulder and getting a replacement the very next day.

As for what I'm falling for now? Living in Florida with more family members and the ocean nearby. It's very nice.

4. According to the Travel Channel here are some of America's best fall festivals-

National Apple Harvest Festival (near Arendtsville PA, close to Gettysburg), Harvest on the Harbor (Portland Maine), German Village Festival (Columbus Ohio), Wellfleet Oyster Fest (Cape Cod), and Wine and Chile Fiesta (Santa Fe NM)

Have you ever been to any of the festivals listed? Which one appeals to you most? Does your hometown have any sort of fall celebration, and if so will you make it a point to attend?

I'd like to go to the Harvest on the Harbor in Portland, Maine. I don't know if Jacksonville has a festival -- right now people are pretty busy with cleaning up after Hurricane Irma.

5. What is your goodbye message to summer?

Is it really "good-bye" to summer when I live in Florida??  Compared to the last twenty years in Colorado, I think not.

6. Insert your own random thought here.

Disasters are coming more often these days: hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, shootings, protests.  Here is some thought provoking scripture from Matthew 24:35-39

Heaven and earth shall pass away,
but my words shall not pass away.
but of that day and hour
knoweth no man,
no, not the angels of heaven, 
but my Father only.
But as in the days of Noah were,
so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For as in the days that were before the flood
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
until the day that Noah entered into the ark,
And knew not until the flood came, 
and took them all away;
so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Linking up at

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Food for the Soul

Jacksonville Beach Pier during Hurricane Matthew 2016
Photo by Action News JAX

With this weekend post I thank and praise God for sparing many of us serious harm during Hurricane Irma these last several days. He answered the prayers of many by sparing lives and property. 

We dare not take His mercies for granted. The Lord appointed some of us for protection.

At the same time, I am so mindful of the many, many people who lost much, and some even their lives, as this history-making storm made its way across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc through many tropical islands and then up the peninsula of Florida. We grieve with them over their losses and help them rebuild their lives.

Genuine gratitude to God is an acknowledgement
He is good at all times.

We trust our Lord during the hard times that what He is doing has a purpose which will someday be clear. At the very least, those who stand in the rubble of what once was can declare they still have life. Houses, land, and material things can be replaced. Our lives cannot. 

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Psalm 107:21-22

Just some of the hurricane debris awaiting pickup in my neighborhood
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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Re-living and Restoration

Stranded Manatee after waters receded from Tampa Bay, Florida
as Hurricane Irma approached. (Internet photo)
He/she was successfully rescued.

Some of the glam associated with our move to Florida was clouded over with Hurricane Irma. She’s gone now. Today I can once again wear my cute flip flops to coordinate fashionably with my denim Bermuda shorts and eat lunch on the peaceful screened-in back porch with my Beloved.

However, as much as I’d love to be writing a whimsical post right now about my tropical life and the fun things we do around here from day to day, it is good mental therapy for me to share some of our experience over the past week. 

It’s one thing to watch a real-life storm story played out before us like a disaster movie on the home television screen (i.e. Hurricane Harvey). All of that changed dramatically when the forecast for yet another hurricane, this one the biggest one ever known to be spawned in the Atlantic, was heading straight for us!

Here is a list of just some of the thoughts and questions that went through our minds before and during the storm:

Hurricanes don’t normally hit Jacksonville because of the shape of the coastline. We'll be okay.

Hurricane Matthew in 2016 was a notable exception, and it was an exception. We'll be okay.

The storm will stay out in the Atlantic. We’ll be okay.

The storm is heading into the Gulf. We’ll be okay.

The storm is marching up the center of the Florida peninsula, but it weakens over land. We’ll be okay.

Our house has not been given an evacuation zone on the county map. We’ll be okay.

This house survived Hurricane Matthew (before we moved here). We’ll be okay.

The governor has declared all of Florida in a state of emergency. Do we have enough water?

Look at the flooding in Houston. Our house could face that.

How much time would we have to move valuable stuff upstairs if a flood threatens?

What should we move upstairs? 

Okay, so flooding is improbable and dangerous wind is more of a threat to us. Will one of those huge trees behind our house fall on us?

If a tree might fall on the house, we should not sleep upstairs. But our main floor master bedroom is on the side with the trees. We shouldn’t sleep there, either. 

What part of the house should we designate as our ’safe place’?

What should we put in our ‘safe place’? 

Does our weather radio work? Can we count on it to notify us if the power goes out and the TV, too? 

Fresh batteries would help.

Soo thankful for local TV news and The Weather Channel.

Soo tired of listening to local TV updates and The Weather Channel.

But I want to know what’s going on!

We’re going to bed with the TV on.

I’m sleeping in my street clothes. If disaster hits, I don’t want to be stuck in my jammies for the next week. 

I’ve got my most important prescription pills and my phone in my jeans pockets at all times. If I lose all else, I don’t want to be without my meds — they’re too hard to replace.

The TV went out! The power is out! 

The weather radio is making an alarm sound.

Get up, now! Put on your shoes and glasses!

Yes, we have to do this! Two tornados are moving south of us!

Yes, close the door. We don’t want to be hit by flying debris!

I’ll doze here on my pillows in the corner with the door stop jamming my back. 

Keep the radio on!

I think it’s  okay to leave the room. My backside is dead and my neck is stiff.

There haven’t been any more tornados reported.

Let’s open the sliding glass door for air. 

Do you want to open a can of beans for breakfast? 

I miss my coffee.

Looks like we’re okay. I see some palm branches on the ground across the street.

They say our power shouldn’t be out too long because we’re in the same grid as the hospital.

Let’s work on the jig saw puzzle while it’s still daylight.

After dark it’s going to be very boring.

Yay! The power is on!

Our land line is dead. No Internet.

The ice in the refrigerator is only slightly melted. I think the jar of mayonnaise is okay to eat.

Can I let the water out of the bath tubs now?

As my regular readers know from my previous posts, we survived Hurricane Irma nearly unscathed and abundantly thankful.

Of course, there are many others who did not fare so well. When we went to prayer meeting at church last night, announcements were made about various ways we can help the unfortunate. One is to fill a Bucket of Help. 

We went to Home Depot, picked up one of their orange buckets and filled it with items from a list. These products are things people need for the clean-up of flooded homes and businesses. 

When we got home, it was Beloved’s task to figure out how to fit everything into the bucket AND snap the lid on.

He’s a bright fellow. He got it done.

For more information about this effort by Florida Southern Baptists, you can visit this link:

from Face Book

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Tarzan and Jane

palms and the forest in our back yard

I'm looking for Tarzan. Have you seen him?

our back yard as seen through the porch screen
There he is! Oh wait, no. That guy's wearing white athletic socks with black crocs. And shorts. (Where's the loin cloth?) That's not Tarzan!

debris from Hurricane Irma
Although we haven't got the carnage in our yard that some people do from Hurricane Irma, Beloved went outside right after breakfast to pick up what had fallen out of the trees onto our lawn.

my "Tarzan"
It's a jungle out there. No, really. I'm not kidding. As a matter of fact, not too awfully far from here is the real jungle where Johnny Weissmuller filmed Tarzan! Years ago, Beloved's brother took us there on his bass boat. There are monkeys, too! Check it out: the Ocala National Forest. This area behind our house looks a lot like that. Only I haven't seen any monkeys.

wearing my boots from Walmart

I decided I wanted in on the fun, so  I donned long jeans with socks and boots. ... I wanted to be fully protected from whatever's living out there.

the swampy bog -- see the water just beyond the palm leaves
Which turned out to be a good idea (wearing jeans and boots) because once I stepped out of our grassy lawn and onto the forest floor, it felt very spongy, like it's made up of a huge accumulation of branches, leaves, pine needles.  I picked my way through carefully, on the lookout for slithery things, if you know what I mean.

We've been in our house for about 2 1/2 months but this was the first time either of us ventured out into the forest. It's not a place for pedestrian traffic. 

the back of our house, as seen from the forest
Many years ago when we lived in Seattle, our house backed up to a much larger forest. We forbid our young children to go back there because even with adults, it was all to easy to get lost if you ventured out of sight of the house. This forest isn't nearly that big, but like I said, there are creatures out there and swamp land.

modeling the boots
Beloved said I'm the Jane to his Tarzan... yeah, well, love is blind. We had fun with it.

We brought the fallen branches and twigs out into the forest, tucking them behind larger trees so the view from the houses would not suffer. It's nature in it's natural state, so to speak, but I don't want it to look untidy as I eat dinner on my back porch.

our front door - the welcome sign is not for reptiles
Back to the unsavory subject of slithery creatures, both Karen and Carla have recently told me true stories of how snakes like to lay along the base of a door, which of course, scares the beejeemies out of anybody who opens the door. Cousin Marsha told us an equally terrible story about a friend's wife who was bit by a snake laying at the base of an outside step.

Now I'm not packing my bags to return to Colorado...
..... but I have taken to bumping the toe of my flip flops against the base of the front door several times in quick succession whenever I want to check the mailbox.  I'm hoping the noise will serve as advance warning to critters that their slumber is about to be disturbed and maybe they will slither away.

fountain at the turtle pond
Our adventure in the jungle was brief but that's okay. This Tarzan and Jane aren't real outdoorsy in this climate. Our favorite reptiles are the turtles behind the fence in the neighborhood pond. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

We Survived Hurricane Irma!

our "safe place"
We thank the Lord tonight for bringing us through Hurricane Irma, a little worn for the experience but better for it. 

After watching a combination of local TV and The Weather Channel for hours on end, we went to bed this morning at 1:45. I did not put on my jammies. Not knowing what might happen, I went to bed in my street clothes. The wind and rain were torrential, so I slept lightly, to say the least.

Our weather radio woke us at 2:30am with a tornado warning and at 2:45 the TV told us to go to our "safe place." We had done a lot of advance planning for this, so we gathered our eye glasses and shoes, made sure we had our cell phones and hunkered down in the laundry room. 

We spent four hours in there with the radio on, hearing about tornadoes marching ashore in the St. Augustine area, south of us some 25 miles. 

At daylight we'd had about all of our cramped quarters we could stand, and the tornado threats had decreased.

As the day wore on, the rain tapered off, the wind blew crazy wild until afternoon arrived. By then the lack of electricity was wearing on us, but Beloved managed to heat canned chili for us on his gas grill and we had a peaceful dinner on the back porch.

The news is showing pictures and telling stories about the flooding. We are so very thankful we were spared that. We pray for those who have a very different story to tell.

Thank you for praying for us. It was exciting, and I'm glad I have this experience behind me. I've also decided I'd rather prepare for a snow blizzard over an incoming hurricane. But that's just me.... (smile)