It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Without ceasing

During my recent two night stay at the beach I wrote about the timelessness of the waves.  They never cease, day and night, day after day.  Without ceasing they continue to roll onto the sandy beaches following the predictable schedule of the high and low tides.  You would never arrive at the beach and see a sign that says,

" The ocean will be drained on xx date and will remain closed until xx date so that it can undergo annual cleaning and routine maintenance.  Normal ocean activity will resume on xx date.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause." 

Both mornings I was there I watched the sunrise.  I did not plan to wake up that early both mornings, but I just did.  I had seen on the news the night before that sunrise was at a certain time and when I woke up just a little before that time I knew I had to get up, grab a cup of coffee and get out to watch the sunrise.

Neither sunrise was spectacular, but the changing interaction of the sun, the clouds, and the reflection on the water was mesmerizing.  Just like the waves, the sun's rising is a constant, predictable event.  So is the sunset.  It always happens just when it is supposed to, without fail.

Today is the last day of May 2015; tomorrow will be the first day of June.  Where does time go, we ask ourselves.  It is another one of those things that never ceases, it just continues day after day, season after season.  We have no control over the waves of the ocean, it doesn't close down for maintenance like public swimming pools.  We have no control over the sunrises and sunsets, they will happen and cannot be re-arranged or delayed.  So it is with time.  We can try to manage it, we can try to organize it, but in the end the seconds just keep ticking steadily away like the waves of the ocean and the rising of the sun.  Without ceasing.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday Fives 05.29.2015

The reflection of light through the trees along Cypress Creek, Comfort TX
1.  I am thankful for the safety of myself and my family and our property during the recent round of destructive storms that have marched across Texas.  I am saddened by the loss of life and property that others have experienced.  Life is fragile.  More storms went through last night, but this morning they moved on leaving a cloudless blue sky to kiss the earth.  Thank you for rain and sun.

2.  I am thankful for early mornings on the deck, coffee cup in hand, sitting in the darkness.  My quiet time. I am not an early riser by habit, but having the dogs has changed that.  The plus side is that now I get to enjoy this time every morning and it gets me out of bed a little easier.

3.  I am thankful for light.  Just as I watched it reflect on the water of the creek in the picture above, I watched it this afternoon filter through the trees in my yard.  It illuminated spots on the trees and created a lacy pattern on the ground.  I would not want to live in darkness without the artful surprises that the light brings.

4.  I am thankful for health, but tonight I am thankful that I am almost pain free.  Between messing up my back while doing yard work and a fall I took during a rain storm my body has been in constant discomfort.  I am thankful that I am beginning to heal and pain is diminishing.

5.  I am thankful for those little plastic bags that zip close (don't laugh!).  They come in various sizes and types which makes the storage possibilities endless.  I appreciate these little bags that make storage so convenient.  Food, beads, little parts you don't want to loose, makeup you don't want to spill out into your bag, dog treats, mixes of spices, just about everything imaginable goes into these bags.  For conveniences, I give thanks.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wednesday 05.27.2015

My grandparents had a bell similar to this one in the area behind their house.  Usually it was full of yellow jackets, but occasionally when it was not occupied we would be allowed to briefly ring it at lunch time to signal the men that the food was on the table.  My grandmother never allowed repeated ringing as it was a signal to the neighbors in their semi-rural neighborhood that there was trouble and help was needed immediately.

And, I just have to note that we referred to our noon time meal as "dinner". Dinner was on the table and getting cold, better come quick and wash up!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Creek's Up!

On Thursday afternoon I headed out to spend a night in a B&B in Comfort, Texas.  Since I travel part of the way to Comfort every week day I decided to take a different route and choose a small 2-lane highway that I had never travelled before.  I was really glad I was driving and not in the back seat as it was a twisting, climbing, plunging roller coaster of a road!  But my choice was not without rewards.  Not only did I explore a new road, I saw the Texas Hill Country at its finest!

The recent rains have not only brought green life to the hills, but also it has brought the creeks up from almost dormant to overflowing.  There is nothing lovelier than the Hill Country creeks when they are flowing.  Unfortunately I was not rewarded with photo opportunities as there is no place to stop along the road.  I knew better than to pull into the grass that grew right up to the road - I was wearing sandals and didn't want to meet a snake and I knew how wet the ground had to be and didn't want to describe to someone where I was so they could come pull me out of the mud!

But this one creek was pretty good size and had a nice bridge over it.  I pulled over onto a bare spot that looked dry enough and walked back to get pictures.  Prior to the rains this was probably just a small trickle falling over the dam. 
The downstream view was so peaceful with the water running under the bridge and forming soft rapids before continuing on its way.  We've had more rain since Thursday and last night's storm was fierce with heavy rain.  I thought about this road and all the little creeks when they announced that TXDot was telling people to avoid travel in this county and several others.  When the rain comes down, the creeks come up!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Friday Fives 05.22.2015

Here's tonight's version of 5 things for which I am thankful.  In truth, there are many more.

1.  I'm thankful for cats that appear from nowhere and greet me when I go places.  At first I would marvel when I would go somewhere and a little cat would walk up.  It is still a remarkable event, though not totally a surprise anymore.  This little calico found Jaydon and me feeding the turtles on a recent trip to the Botanical Garden.  She was very sweet and affectionate, then walked off as if to say, "okay I'm done". 

2.  I'm thankful for things that make me smile, like the Landry's sign in the last post.  Today, driving home from a night in Comfort I passed a motor home pulling a small pick up truck.  On the back of the pick up was a magnetic sign that read, "Be patient with me I'm pushing a large motor home". Did that make you smile?

3.  I'm thankful for deciding to take a non-freeway route to Comfort yesterday.  The drive was a winding,  twisting roller coaster 2-lane road through the Texas Hill Country.  I had never driven the route before and although it was a slow drive it was very pleasant.  All the rain we've had has caused the little creeks to flow beautifully and the grass is greener than ever.  Unfortunately there was no place to pull over to make pictures and I knew better than to pull into the grass as the ground is very soft!  The unknown road proved to be a gift to me and I am thankful.

4.  I'm thankful for old buildings and the stories they sometimes tell us today.  I'm thankful for those who loving preserve these treasures to share for future generations.  The walls that surrounded me last night were those that had sheltered stage coach passengers long, long ago when Comfort was a stage stop.  As I fell asleep I thought about the weary travelers who had slept there after a day of being tossed around in a rickety coach.  I was thankful for my car with leather seats, shock absorbers, and air-conditioning!

5.  Having spent two nights on the coast I have to say that I am thankful for the gift of the sea.  It's surface waves that never cease fascinate me and sooth me at the same time.  The vastness of the water and the thought of far away places intrigue me.  The mysteries below the water are endless, like the stars that I saw briefly on my last night there.  The fish to be caught and eaten and all swimming creatures are things for which I give thanks.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nothing like fresh seafood to please the taste

When I saw this sign at the Landry's floating restaurant in Corpus I couldn't help but smile! I had already eaten somewhere else, but I have enjoyed a few meals here in the past.

I was never really a big seafood/fish eater until I found out how good really fresh fish tastes.  I have to steer away from shrimp; a few are okay and then I stop. And, honestly I've never been able to eat an oyster, but everything else is to be eaten and enjoyed.  Part of planning a trip to the coast always includes planning where to eat! 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Opening the house

Day 2 at the beach, not sure what day of my vacation this is, but that doesn't matter any more.  I do know it is Tuesday!  I've put a few pictures on Instagram, MySmallThings, again today.
The waves continue to roll
I woke up just before sunrise and knew I had to get up.  The sun rise wasn't dazzling, nonetheless it was worth watching.  The sun never fully showed through the moving clouds which created a constantly changing scene. The light changed color in the reflection on the standing pools of water in the dunes and on the ocean.

After morning coffee it was time to take a walk on the beach.  A few Man-O-Wars had washed up during the night, but there were none in the water.  I was intrigued at the pieces of debris that had already become host to small life forms, much like the ships that are sunk intentionally or accidentally that become a barrier reef for aquatic life.
My mind continued to empty itself and I wonder if this is what Island Time is really all about, a type of de-cluttering process.  This led me to develop the analogy of opening up a house that has been closed for a long time.  What is the first thing to be done?  You open the windows and begin to air out the house, letting the musty, closed up smell be wiped away by the fresh air pouring through the open windows.  I feel like the closed up house that is being aired out.

But what is next after you open the windows?  You clean out the cobwebs that have attached themselves in corners and along the rafters and you begin removing the layers of dirt.  There is always left behind debris as it is rare to close up a house and leave it in perfect immaculate order.  So then, the cobwebs and dust as well as the debris must go out.  So what are the cobwebs/dust/debris in my mind?  They have to be the distractions of life.

I let myself be distracted from contemplation by going into Port A for lunch and then a little more shopping (hey, I had to have another pair of sandals LOL and a lightweight zip up hoodie to keep warm after sunset!). Lunch at Castaway's is another beach ritual that cannot be skipped!
Perfect gumbo from Castaway's.  Thick sauce, seafood, and rice.  It came steaming hot and no extra Tabasco was needed-it sizzled!
The catch of the day was snapper and I choose the Caribbean style seasoning.  It was a very light white sauce made with white wine and garlic topped with tomatoes - a delight to the taste buds.  The snapper was so fresh and what a difference in the taste!

Tomorrow I will have to leave, but have already promised not to wait so long to come back to this place that claims my heart every time I come.  I feel energized and ready to tackle those distractions that clog up my mind after these two days and two nights on the island.

Monday, May 18, 2015

An emptying of the mind

(Just to note I'm posting more things on Instagram at MySmallThings.  Follow me there!)

Today is Day 3 of my time off from work.  But it is the first day of the planned travels.  No, I am not on the road trip I had wanted.  But this is what I needed.  When I started trying to plan the road trip I just could not coordinate all the things I wanted to do and the hours of operation of the places I wanted to go and the hours of driving.  In my frustration I realized that as much as I wanted to travel east to those place that I am on the road for an hour and half every day commuting.  I knew that a 5 or 6 day road trip like I was planning was not what I needed.  I needed to spend time somewhere relaxing.  When I let go of the road trip idea I knew immediately where I needed to start my time off:  at the coast. 
Balcony view - isn't it grand?
I don't know what it is about the coast and the Gulf of Mexico that entrances me.  Mesmerizes me.  The endlessness of the waves, night and day, never ceasing, never changing.  Low tide, high tide.  Is this what eternity is like?
Riding the ferry over to Port Aransas never ceases to tickle me.  Occasionally you will see dolphins jumping along side the ferry.  It is a short ride, but part of the beach ritual for me.
Of course, there's lunch in Corpus Christi as part of the beach ritual.  It's been several years since I was in Corpus and it was good to be back there today. Years ago you could walk out on the t-heads, but those days are no more.  I still love to read the names on the boats and wonder why the owners named them as they did.
As I left my house this morning I looked at the chrysanthemums blooming in their pots by the front door and thought that I should be staying home to spend time enjoying my house and working on long-put-off projects.  It is too wet to do much yard work, but I thought that I should be working on finishing quilts and painting the hallway.  But something deep within told me to go, that I needed to leave the house, leave the job to nowhere, leave the dogs, leave it all.  Go, go to the coast.

After I settled into the condo I took my notebook and pen outside on the balcony to write before a walk on the pretty much deserted beach. As I wrote I thought about what I had thought about on the drive down here - it was just a jumble of thoughts that I couldn't really sort out.  What was I thinking now I thought.  And I realized that it was nothing, just nothing.  A true emptying of the mind.  As I tried to write I realized that my mind would not think of the things I wanted to contemplate.  It was emptying it self.  It is as if first came the jumble of thoughts and then emptiness. 

The only book I brought with me is Gift from the Sea written in 1955 by Anne Morrow Lindberg.  I had read this before, but decided to pick up a used copy of the 2005 edition to bring with me.  It is the perfect book for this trip.  The first sentence of the book: 

The beach is not the place to work, read, write or think.

The last sentence of the first chapter sums up today for me:

One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach--waiting for a gift from the sea.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday Fives 05.15.2015

Here's what I'm thankful for tonight:

1.  I'm thankful for things that surprise me and make me smile.  That's what these cats did today.  I bought this little bag at the Quilt Festival last year and use it to keep my purse camera in.  I love Laurel Burch designs and this was just what I wanted.  Today I had put it on my desk and forgotten about it - until I looked around and saw these fellows looking me (bet those faces made you smile, too)!  A smile in the midst of a crazy morning was just what I needed!

2.  I'm thankful for a week's vacation, time off from work.  Actually, it's 10 days long because of the Memorial Day weekend.  While I'm not taking the road trip I wanted, I know that it will come in due time.  I do have some travels planned, and of course, will be sharing them here.  It is a good thing to know that the next 10 days are all mine. 

3.  I'm thankful for the rains that have come, including the fierce storm that went through this morning.  This afternoon the sun, less the humidity, came out and finished up a beautiful day.  The life giving rain has given a deep greenness to the trees, growth to the grass and shrubs, and food for the deer and other grazing wildlife.  For this I am deeply grateful to the Creator.

4.  I'm thankful for dining al fresco.  It is my favorite way to eat and I partake of most meals, weather permitting, that way.  The fresh air and peaceful, quiet of nature around me are a soothing accompaniment to my food.  Often I find myself lingering after the meal in these pleasant surroundings.

5.  I am thankful for the soft, comfortable bed that will welcome me in a few hours.  I am tired; I am ready for restful sleep with no alarm clock to wake me.  The walls of the room will wrap themselves around me and the roof will shelter me; I am thankful that I can lay down and sleep in safety and comfort.  I am thankful for the gift of sleep that restores me.

On this Friday night I have much for which to be thankful.  I'm sure you do, too!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wednesday 05.13.2015

Dear Readers - on this Wednesday I invite you to take 5 minutes out of your day and either stare at something lovely you have encountered or close your eyes and envision something lovely or meaningful to you.  In those moments of reflection I hope you will find a peace that will continue with you in your day.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Look up

On one side of my house is a ligustrum tree that came up "volunteer" probably as an offshoot of my neighbor's tree.  I let it grow since it does provide much needed shade in that location.  But I've always thought of ligustrums as a weed type tree and never gave it any thought.  Until tonight.

I was messing with the weed eater and as I stood up I just happened to look up.  Lo and behold this tree was covered in delicate, lacey blooms!  I really need to look up a little more as I had totally missed this.  What else have I missed?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Fives 05.08.2015

Several years ago I had a paper day planner that each day featured a quote from someone relatively well-known.  One day the quote was from Oprah and she stated that she kept a gratitude journal and each day wrote down 5 things she was grateful for on that day.  Not a bad idea, I thought.  I didn't keep a written journal, but I did try to start thinking of 5 things each day. Not hard as I found I could quickly name many things.  I began to use this trick when grumpy, upset or just out of sorts.  Thinking of the many things I had to be thankful always lifted my spirits.  This worked at bedtime, too, if I was exhausted and not happy how the day had gone. Only recently did I find that Sarah Ban Breathnach was the one who started Oprah on her gratitude journal.

From time to time I've written a 5 things post on this blog.  I did one last Friday; it felt so good to write those words that I decided to try (try) to do a regular Friday Fives post.  It won't be hard, let me assure you! 

 So, here's tonight's 5 things I'm thankful for:

1.  I am thankful that I have no needs.  I have everything I need.  Maybe not everything I want, but thanks to God my needs are supplied.  I lack for nothing and for that I am deeply grateful.

2.  I am thankful for small flowers whose daintiness enchant me.  So small, so fragile, yet perfect.

3.  I am thankful for books to read.  Books on my shelves, books on tables, books on library shelves, books on the internet.  Books to be read, books to be treasured, books I have read and will read again.  I'm thankful for the hands that write books and for the gift of words that weave stories and information in printed form.  I'm thankful for decent eyesight and the ability to read, too.

4.  I'm thankful for clean, pure water that flows from the tap when I turn it on.  We take it for granted, but there are those who do not have water in any decent form.  I'm thankful for electricity that makes my life so easy and the natural gas that heats my home in the winter.  These are things we take for granted, but for which I give thanks.

5.  I'm thankful for grandparents.  How fortunate I was to have spent time with all 4 of mine even though we lived so far away.  I'm thankful for the memories they unknowingly gave me.  I'm thankful for the influence they had on me as a child and for the fact that as an older adult I now know that they shaped me into the person I am.

Take a moment and think of 5 things tonight for which you are thankful.  Gratitude is good for the spirit. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Note writing

This morning as I turned out of my street I noticed that one of the girls waiting for the school bus was sitting on the curb writing on a piece of green paper.  She was probably middle school age and I didn’t think she would be writing out homework on green paper.  Immediately I had a flashback to my younger days and wondered if she was quickly writing a note.  Dear readers, did you ever write notes and pass them to your friends while you were in school?  I had totally, completely forgotten about writing notes until I saw this girl intent on her writing.
Note writing was an art, probably a lost art because I suspect that today’s kids just text each other.  But in my day it was a serious task.  It was the ‘70’s and colored paper was the preferred medium.  I remember that I had a pack of light orange paper and another friend had a bluish lavender shade; we would often trade.  Writing would be done during class, undercover and carefully hidden; this was easy if you were a good student and could pretend to be taking class notes.  While topics might be clothes, boys, hair, or other girl things the content was carefully written, often with little smiley faces or an appropriate doodle. It was serious writing!
The note then would be carefully folded into a square or in the preferred shape of a triangle.  This was tricky because you had to keep your eyes focused on the board or appear to be paying attention while folding the paper.  You would write the recipient’s name on the outside and add a little embellishment such as a flower or scroll.  Then it would be slipped secretly across the room or handed off during class changes.  If it was just one page and thin it might then be slipped through the air vent in your locker.  Reading a note was done while walking to class or carefully during the next class. And, every note required a reply!
Such a simple thing, writing notes to friends on notebook paper with a Bic pen!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Wednesday 05.06.2015

This interesting pulley is on a replica of a well in the
East Texas Pineywoods section of the
San Antonio Botanical Garden

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sunday Sevens

This turtle delighted Jaydon and me by coming up the steps to grab the commercial pellets we were throwing in the water!
(Thanks go out to Suzzassippi for inspiring this post!)

Seven things I'm thankful for this Sunday in May:

1.  I am thankful for a quiet, peaceful Sunday afternoon in May.  The temperature is unseasonably cool, no humidity, and a soft breeze is blowing through the trees.  And I can't forget the joy that the big fluffy clouds bring me as they drift across the sky, ever changing.

2.  I am thankful for all the little green cherry tomatoes on the plant in the pot on my driveway.  The plant is straggly, despite generous feedings of plant food, but the tomatoes are healthy and bug free.  I will take what the plant gives me and be thankful.

3.  I am thankful for laughter shared with friends. People need people and as much as I treasure my solitude, I value my friendships. A smile and a shared laugh lifts the spirit!

4.  I am thankful for the opportunity to serve communion to my brothers and sisters in the choir this morning.  As I placed the bread into each waiting hand and whispered, "This is the Body of Christ, broken for you" I was reminded of the human bond and the sweet fellowship that we enjoy between each of us as well as the heavenly connection.  The blessing was all mine in those sweet moments.

5.  I am thankful for a healthy body.  I am thankful that I can put my feet on the ground every morning and get out of bed.  Yes, my back hurts right now but I can live with it. I cannot and will not complain; good health is a gift that I am thankful for every day.

6.  I am thankful for the smell of fresh mowed grass that brings back memories of summers long ago and my dad's faithful mowing on Saturday afternoon followed by the start of the charcoal grill.  I am thankful for the smell of fresh washed clothes coming out of the dryer and being put on hangers, too.  Clean and crisp. For the soothing feelings from gentle scents I give thanks.

7.  I am thankful for the joy and satisfaction that comes from everyday tasks.  There is a continuity in those tasks that gives me a sense of peaceful accomplishment.  Simple things like taking out the trash, starting the dishwasher, and sweeping off the porch give me contentment.  For those tasks I give thanks.

I'm also thankful for soft, wet puppy dog noses that nuzzle me.  I'm thankful for a dear lady who helped me with my knitting problems last week so now I'm much more satisfied with my knitting.  Did I mention that I'm thankful for the satisfaction that comes when I finish a task?  But wait, I've gone way over 7 things!  I'll save some more for Friday Fives next Friday!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Another 5 things

It's been way too long since I did a Five Things post.  So here goes!

The first thing I'm thankful for is a special moment that I had on Monday morning.  I had called in sick, but I wasn't sick.  I'm nursing a very sore back that has plagued me after stupidly trying to turn over a large concrete planter full of dirt and water.  After doing a few early morning things I was sitting at the breakfast table and noticed the play of light filtering through the trees onto the shutters.  The tile table reflected the light and the large ficus outside the window that was also dappled in sunlight.  How beautiful!  I sat for several moments lost in the dream of light and shadow.  Why had I never seen this before when I've lived here almost 12 years?  Why? Because I'm too busy on other mornings when I'm home to notice something so simple.

Second - I'm thankful for walks in the park with the dogs.  Exploring a new trail and discovering new sights.  Quiet, peaceful, just walking along.

Third - I'm thankful for Friday nights with the fifth grader.  I've known for many years that someday he will have other things to do on Friday nights and treasure each visit that we have now.  Someday will be here all too soon. I'm also thankful he mowed my yard tonight!

Fourth - I'm thankful that the days are getting longer, giving me more precious hours outside.  I'm thankful for time to work outside until dark, going inside feeling like I've accomplished something. I love the evening hours.

Fifth - I'm thankful for Lacey.  She came to me as a young, starving mother and has contentedly lived in my garage ever since. She keeps me company while I'm working outside, but spends many lonely hours in the garage or on my front porch.  She doesn't mind the cold or heat in the garage; maybe she sees the sunny mornings as her reward.  She is a happy little cat with a sweet spirit. And, she can be very entertaining!