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

Monday, August 31, 2015

Since I'm transitioning to the new blog site I think that for a while I'll share the link here when I post to one of the other blogs.  In time, I'll smooth this all out, but thank you for your continued reading while I bump through this! 

Here's the link to Inside the Old Blanco County Courthouse.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Stained glass effect

It doesn't matter if the colors are bright or subdued or if the subject is religious or modern.  A room with stained glass seems peaceful, calm.  The colors, the shapes, the subject, and the light seem to tell the viewer to be still, to contemplate, to reflect. No matter how many times you've looked at a piece you will always notice a little different detail each time.  

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Fives 08.28.2015

(If you are new to this blog Friday Fives is a feature I do from time to time.  Go to Friday Fives 05.08.2015 to read about the origin of these posts. This post also appears on Small Simple Things of Life)
This Friday night I am thankful for these things:
  1. August is drawing to a close.  The waiting is over and Labor Day will soon be here followed by football, pumpkins, chrysanthemums and cooler weather.
  2. The sunrises and sunsets I've watched in my rearview mirror.  It gives another perspective to the start or end of the day.  This morning the early morning sun was reflecting in the shiny black Suburban in front of me as I crept along in rush hour traffic.  The perfect mirror image of my car and the hundreds behind me snaking along the freeway was illuminated by the sun reaching up into the sky that still held that early morning deep blue shade. 
  3. The loving looks on my dogs faces.  Everyone needs a little love sometimes and these pups share theirs with me all the time.
  4. A change in the weather that knocked down the humidity.  How nice to walk out tonight and instead of suffocating heat it only felt slightly warm. 
  5. And, I am thankful for this Friday night that leads into the weekend.  It's been a wacky week at work. I am thankful for a little down time and a weekend of simple chores.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wednesday 08.26.2015

Large oak tree next to Boerne City Hall (Kendall County Texas).  I wonder how old it is!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

It's gone!

I'm a regular reader of Preservation in Mississippi.  Last week one of the articles featured what happened to Ceres Plantation and the sad tale of its demise and the subsequent waste of the property in the name of "development and progress". Today the area that was developed to be what was touted as an invaluable resource of the future sits pretty much abandoned and all traces of historic Ceres are gone. 
I'm a preservationist, strictly amateur, but nonetheless I believe that preserving properties of significant historical value is very important.  Preservation matters to me.
Recently I've had a first-hand experience with a situation where there was a total lack of preservation and a home was allowed to sit empty and deteriorate.  The property in question has significant historic value to me and my siblings; it was the house that belonged to my maternal grandparents. I spent many, many happy hours in this house and on the surrounding property. Those experiences made me who I am today and continue to influence me now.
My grandparents bought this property in 1941 (if I remember correctly).  My grandmother told me one time about the tiny house that was on the property and showed me how the kitchen became the bathroom and the front room became the kitchen.  The original bedroom was the room where I always slept. Somehow my grandfather scraped together enough money to have a small lake constructed by building an earthen dam across a little stream on the property. He also built a barn out of lumber salvaged from an old house that was being torn down!
December 1956
This picture of my parents shows part of the original house.  The house had no air conditioning and was heated by space heaters.  All the rooms interconnected and the windows provided cross ventilation. By this time my grandfather had enclosed the back porch that extended across the back of the house and added what was referred to as the utility room where among other things a large deep freeze was installed.

December 1964
My grandfather added a carport and side door while we were overseas along with the siding (which was probably full of asbestos and other substances).  When we returned in 1961 my parents were quite pleased to have a carport to park their car!  This picture is how I remember the house. The carport took out quite a bit of my grandmother's flower garden.  She still had numerous different types of flowers when I was growing up, but my mother commented one time that her mother never had flowers again like she did around the original house.
December 1975
My grandfather had his first stroke in 1973 and eventually had to enter a care facility.  My grandmother struggled to take care of him and the property. Thank heaven for nearby family and neighbors who pitched in to help.  Still, the property began to decline.
June 2008
 I don't remember how the drama played out, but my uncle ended up with the property.  Upon his death it passed to his son.  The house was allowed to sit year after year.  By the time this picture was made it looked bad.  My cousin's wife had tried to open a small business of some kind in the house and did some remodeling on the front rooms as well as the hideous paint on the outside.  They tore off the utility room, too.  My mother was very upset about what had been done, but she had no voice as the property wasn't hers any more.  The last time I passed by was on the way home from my mother's burial in December 2008; it looked even worse just six months after this picture was taken. 
I'm not sure what happened, but this is what Google street view is showing today.  At first I thought that maybe I had the wrong place.  But continual swinging around showed my great-aunt's house across the road and another house that was unmistakable to me.  In horror and disbelief, I clicked out of the view.  No, no, it is a mistake.  The next day I looked again and zoomed in as far as I could.  My grandparents had an outside hydrant a few feet from the back door.  The hydrant was on top of a pipe that was about 12-18 inches high.  When the county mandated that everyone switch to their nasty water my grandfather had defiantly left this hydrant on the well so they could water their garden!  The pipe was still there, it was unmistakable.  The house is gone.
After going through the stages of grief I finally had to admit that perhaps there was a calamity that befell the house and made the clearing away a necessity.  There are no signs of fire, but perhaps a summer lightening storm or winter ice storm had brought down a tree on the house. I had to wonder if it was just simply neglect and something like the roof caving in led to it's clearing away.  And, perhaps, just perhaps, the house was relocated somewhere.  But in my heart, I know that my cousin probably got tired of seeing it and called in a bulldozer and dump truck.
So shame on you cousin that I haven't seen in over 40 years and probably never will see again.  You never spent more than a few days at a time in this house when you came to visit.  You never spent a summer here and knew our grandparents one-on-one like I did.  You never worked in the garden and spent hot summer afternoons sitting under the trees snapping beans.  You never snuggled down under a quilt on a winter night as the warmth from the space heater faded.  You never sat for hours looking at old pictures and talking to Mamaw about who those people were (do you know your family  tree?). Shame on you for building your big modern home on the hill above the lake and turning your back on the poor little house by the road.  Shame on your father for letting it begin the descent into no turning back.  Shame on my mother, too for so hastily signing over her portion of the property and then not encouraging her brother to maintain the house. Shame on me, too, although I don't know what I could have done. 
This has turned into a long post, thank you dear readers for staying with me if you got this far.  There are many things I want to say, but I'm going to conclude with just one thought. 
It doesn't matter if it is historically significant property or just a humble house along the road.  There is no excuse to let it deteriorate due to neglect.  There is no excuse in thinking that it is just an old building that needs to be torn down.  There is no excuse!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wednesday 08.19.2015

My church sits on the edge of a new cross-town thoroughfare that will soon be completed.  It has given us a new flood proof entrance with this sign on the exit side.  While it will make driving much more convenient I am sad because there are considerable deer in this area along the creek.  I'm sure there will be many that loose their lives by this encroachment of the city on their space.  I also miss walking out from night activities and listening to the night sounds and feeling like I was miles from everything and not in the middle of a city.  But the sign is beautiful and I hope that each time I leave I will remember to take that peace with me out into the world.

(Remember this post will also be on Small Simple Things of Life my new site)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

When what-if becomes reality

Made in America 1957.  Still running perfectly today.
Several years ago I started playing the what if game with myself.  It started one boring day at work when I realized that my desk was perfect for cross stitching (at that time I was still under the delusion that I had time for intricate stitchery).  The lighting was perfect and my chair was comfortable; what if I could just sit here and stitch for the rest of the day, I asked myself.  It was a delicious day dream that gave me a little encouragement. Then the what if became: what if I could set up my beloved Featherweight machine and sit here and sew all day?  There's even room for a small pressing board and little iron.  I could just see those little fabric pieces rolling under the chattering needle!

I still play that game with myself.  But now I am coming to realize that those what-if's are really dreams that are coming from my inner self.  My heart whispers these longings to me in the form of a dream in the what-if game.  Now when I have the "what-if I could" thought I find myself stopping to consider if that what-if could become a reality.

One of those dreams to reality has now unfolded itself and I want to share it with you, dear readers, in this post.  I love writing and I love sharing words. Over five years ago I started this blog and have written over 500 posts.  But, still I've wanted more and often had the thought what if I could take this writing to the next level.  One of the ways I've wanted to do that was through a web site where I could continue with posts but have opportunities for offering more than what is available through Blogger.  I'm excited to share that the web site has become a reality!  Now, honestly, it isn't quite a true web site (maybe someday), but through WordPress I'm able to have my own domain and customize a site quite a bit.  I've been working on this for several months and decided to go ahead and publish the site now because I know that it is going to be an on-going process that I will never complete! 

The new site can be found at  I've been putting a few blog posts from here on it, so it may look familiar.  Blogger has been very good to me and I'm leaving the dog's blog and Doorway Into the Past with Blogger.  For a time I'm going to post Small Simple Things in both places, just until I feel completely comfort with WordPress.  I'll be writing more about the new site in future posts.  I invite you to please join me on the new site.

The next what-if?  Well, what if I could write a book, or two, or three.  I'm listening to those whispers from my heart! Thanks for reading here and please keep reading as I make this change and share more words in the spirit of bringing peace and joy to the reader!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wednesday 08.12.2015

Creativity and inspiration often surprise me when I'm not expecting it.  I've lived here almost 12 years and I've threatened several times to take down these dust catching shutters that are on either side of both doors into the kitchen.  I was afraid that if I did the walls and the space would be bare.  The shutters frame the doors and give the rooms depth. 

The thought came suddenly one day:  Why don't you use these to hang pictures up on since you are short on wall space?  Go get some hooks and give it a try.  I just happened upon these frames at Michael's with ribbon already attached.  Selecting pictures and experimenting with the arrangement took a while, but I'm pleased. 

I have family pictures on the doors into the breakfast area and pictures of flowers on the doors into the formal dining room.  Perfect solution, but I have to wonder why it took me 12 years to think of this!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pushing 100

When the temperature is pushing 100 degrees and you haven't had air conditioning for almost 48 hours this is what you want to see on your driveway.  And, the old unit is what you want to see coming out your front door. 

Unfortunately, my savings account is not as pleased as the dogs and I am tonight. But, there's a 10 year warranty on this thing so I don't intend to be this hot again for a while!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wednesday 08.05.2015

Hidden Away
Last night after watering the plants I decided that it was time to pull up the tomato plant.  It was still making blossoms, but I knew that realistically it would not set any more fruit.  Time to pull it up and let the pot rest until it is time to plant a fall tomato.  But the plant gave me two nice surprises before I pulled it up.

The first was the discovery of one perfectly ripe, un-bird pecked tomato.  Just perfect to pick. I pulled it and the handful of remaining green ones to put in the kitchen window to ripen.  That's when I had the second surprise - a warm memory from my past.

As I picked the tomatoes I remembered that my grandmother always wore an apron.  Always.  It came in handy for more than just keeping her clothes clean.  The pockets held odds and ends that she picked up here and there as she went about her chores.  As I stood there clutching the tomatoes I remembered how she would fold it together to gather vegetables in it as she watered the garden in the evening.  She had done the main harvesting that morning and the few things she found didn't justify going to get a basket. We would walk back to the house with her holding the corners of the apron that was full of vegetables. Just another simple thing from long ago.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Prayer Shawl Ministry

When my church announced that a prayer shawl ministry was being started I remember thinking, "how hokey, no one is going to want to have one".  Several months later one Sunday morning the steps to the altar were draped with many prayer shawls of different colors and patterns; I became a convinced believer that morning.  Before our pastor led us in a prayer of blessing on the shawls our pastor shared that a few shawls had been taken to the local military hospital that was receiving many wounded soldiers at that time.  The person at the hospital had looked at them and then glanced around and asked if that was all we had to donate as they had people asking for them all the time.  The person delivering the shawls was told that the hospital would take all our church could make! 

So, what is the idea behind a prayer shawl?  Here's a quick summary: As the shawl is constructed the maker will begin work with a prayer of blessing and then pray for the unknown recipient.  When completed the shawl will be blessed again by the group of people involved in the ministry.  The shawl is then given to someone in need of comfort with the idea that when they wrap the soft shawl around their shoulders they will feel comfort and solace. 
In January I talked to the lady that coordinates the ministry and she explained the process.  There is no set pattern, but they use a size of 24" x 72" and soft acrylic yarns.  I had a hard time getting going on a pattern.  I pulled some off the internet and tried adapting a crocheted afghan pattern, but I wasn't satisfied with the results.  When I went to the first meeting I asked about the pattern that most of them appeared to have been made with; a dear lady explained that you just knit.  Yes, just knit!  How easy! Many groups use patterns that use a grouping of 3 stitches to represent the Trinity and as you knit each stitch you remember Father, Son, Holy Spirit. 

At the meeting everyone brings finished shawls and shawls that are in progress (we knit while we talk business).  There are always skeins of yarn that have either been donated or bought with donated funds as well as needles and hooks, so you don't have to buy anything.  At the first meeting when they realized I was struggling one of the ladies handed me two pairs of needles and explained that they were a good size that I would find easy to use.  I also picked up two skeins of light blue yarn even though I had an ample supply of yarn at home - the blue just called to me.  While working on it I've delighted in its softness and often as I spread it across my legs to work I felt a sense of peace come over me (trust me, I needed it!).
I've got two in process at this time and alternate working on them with other projects
I've been in several groups where a member was sick, facing surgery, or in need of comfort. We would all gather around the shawl to be presented and touch it or each other's shoulders and then offer a prayer of comfort for that member. Many souls lifting up prayer is a moving experience. I've heard so many recipients (and sometimes their family members) say that the shawl brought them so much comfort and strength. Making one is easy, it is something I enjoy doing, but it is also a blessing for me because it makes me take time to sit down, quiet my thoughts and offer a prayer.  I think it is one of things where the receiver and the maker are blessed!

A Shawl Maker's Prayer 
© 2015 All rights reserved - By Diane Burgess
Dear Lord; Bless my hands as I knit today.  May each
twist of the yarn guide me to create a pattern of love and
comfort in my work and remind me of Your ultimate protection.
Wrap me in Your spirit so that I will be more caring towards
those in need.
Grant me patience as I create this shawl.  And bless
my handiwork as it travels to bring comfort and peace
to someone in need of Your warming embrace.  Amen.