Monday, December 31, 2012

a year end list.

I'm a sucker for lists and love the 'year in review' shows on TV and articles that seem to show up in every media venue known to man. Not one to be left out in the cold I'm shamelessly stealing the idea from everyone who has already posted theirs the last few days. Here is a brief overview of some of my favorite happenings throughout the months of 2012.


The once in a lifetime trip to Antarctica.  (really the list could stop there, it doesn't get much better than this!)

A behind-the-scenes visit to the Library of Congress

A fantastic St. Patrick's Day brunch

Spring in the District

Camping in Pennsylvania

Hanging out with the cutest nephews in the world

Nats games!

Road trip to Rhode Island

The US Open

Running a 5K

Hosting Pie Day

Capping off a year of great performances and concerts with a few holiday shows

It always gives me pause to see just how far I've come and what has happened in the space of 12 short months. Lives can change in the blink of an eye and yet sometimes the longer increments of time seem to fly by without any noticeable changes at all. I'm grateful for the various outlets I have for keeping track of all that I've done, the things I've seen and experienced and learned that help me keep life a bit more in perspective when I feel as if I'm stuck or not accomplishing all I'd hoped to accomplish. Sure, there are a ton of things still left on my list but I've crossed off quite a few too! Here's to a new year, new lists and new experiences. Tune in tomorrow for the latest edition.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

a fun-filled holiday season.

As most of the world can relate, the holidays are often so jam-packed with goings on and things to do that one usually feels more harried than happy, more manic than merry. And while I had my moments of madness, mostly I was surrounded by incredible friends and family, busy making gifts and memories and basking in the events of the season.

I was able to travel home for just over a week for Christmas itself and spent time cuddling the nephews, soaking up the wisdom of my grandparents, enjoying the snow and the company of great friends, getting visits from Santa and eating my weight in delicious food.

making treats

playing in the snow and the mountains
Santa loves me!
one of many delicious meals
more treats
one of many fabulous light displays
more lights
Man I've missed you! My life has been in an emotional upheaval lately which you'll hear about soon enough but I needed to make some belated updates on the holidays and steal some ideas from some friends' blogs to get myself feeling caught up and ready to tackle life and regular postings again. So, pretend this really was posted a week and a half ago and many apologies for the tardiness of it all.

Friday, December 14, 2012

a promise of peace.

In light of today's horrific events a friend had posted the words to I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day on facebook.  I thought it was a beautiful tie in and a great reminder that while we won't experience peace on earth in a worldwide sense there are always moments of peace to be had and the promise of peace to come.

 And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

 The Prince of Peace has given us His comforter in times of trial and will come to reign personally over all His creations eventually.  So while our hearts and prayers go out to those who are the victims of senseless acts of violence or natural disasters, abuse, disease and so many other things I'm grateful for the knowledge that these things "shall be but a small moment" and in time we will all have peace.

(I'm also grateful for the knowledge that God is just and will measure out His judgements accordingly!)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas music!

If you are mutual friends with either of my wonderful music swapping buddies, you'll know that I am very behind in posting this.  For those of you who aren't, let's just pretend that first sentence doesn't exist and go merrily along under the assumption that I'm totally on top of things!

A few months ago two friends and I held a playlist swap before one of those friends moved on to greener pastures. We had such a great time we decided that we should carry on the tradition in a quarterly fashion, sending mix CDs to each other in the mail to whatever far-flung regions we should find ourselves. Thus it was that I found myself wracking my brain to compile the ultimate (and slightly obscure as these ladies are much bigger music junkies than I could ever hope to be) Christmas album.  Here's what I came up with: (Click on any of the links to listen)

1. Christmas Child Carbon Leaf
2. I Saw Three Ships Nat King Cole
3. Winter Moon Mindy Gledhill
4. Il Est Ne The King’s Singers (this one is impossible to find, but it's my absolute favorite version of this can hear another version here)
5. Winter Wonderland Jason Mraz
6. Let It Snow! Ella Fitzgerald
7. It Snowed Meaghan Smith
8. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Jack Johnson
9. One More Sleep Til Christmas The Muppets
10. Angels We Have Heard on High Seabird
11. In the Bleak Midwinter Julie Andrews
12. Good King Wenceslas Mel Torme

And thus it also was that I returned home from long days at work to find fun packages in the mail brimming with holiday tunes!  Some of my faves? I've loved revisiting this John Denver classic, and disovering this version of Auld Lang Syne from one disc. The other contained this amazing version of O Come, O Come Emmanuel (one of my favorites! okay, most of them are my favorites, but still...) and this version of Come Thou Font of Every Blessing, not technically a Christmas song but definitely one with an appropriate and corresponding message.

Go here and here for the full lists.

Happy holiday listening!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

an auspicious date!

Happy 12-12-12!

I had hoped to mark the 12:12 time today as well but I was waiting for a technician to come look at my dryer and the time slipped by unnoticed.  Good thing the date lasts a little bit longer.

If you're superstitious you probably bought lottery tickets or got married today.  Congratulations! Or maybe you're counting down the last few days until the world ends (12-21-12 if those Mayans are to be believed).  Hope you're living it up!  Or maybe, just maybe you're like me and have spent the day celebrating the birth of one of my favorite people: Frank Sinatra!

Okay, so I haven't really spent the day celebrating. Unfortunately, having an actual job precludes much superfluous celebrating. But I did take a few minutes to watch some YouTube videos and listen to some music and thought I'd share a few of my faves with you in honor of Ol' Blue Eyes and his special day.

Born 12/12/1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey, the scrawny, only child of Italian immigrants grew up idolizing Bing Crosby and never graduated from high school. But he'd been singing for most of his life and figured he might be able to eek out a career in music. Though he never learned to read music he went on to release over 60 albums and won 13 Grammys. But singing was just the start.  He also appeared in over 50 pictures, won 3 Academy Awards, had tumultuous love affairs, made friends with politicians and mobsters, fought for civil rights and influenced billions. He died May 14, 1998.

Happy Birthday to The Chairman of the Board! (And if the world really ends next week, I'll be seeing you and expecting a personal, heavenly concert on the other side!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

a good book!

Man, it's been a long time since I've done one of these! I have no good excuses for my lack of blogging of late.  Holidays, sickness, church commitments, home hoopla, you name it it's gone on but it's all a pretty sad reason for not being more diligent.  I've missed you all! So, here are a few of my favorite picture books from the past month or so in no particular order. There've been some real gems come out this year and there have been a bunch I've missed but you can't go wrong with these.

Sleep Like a Tiger
Author: Mary Logue
Illustrator: Pamela Zagarenski
Pages: 32
Age Range: 1-5
Published: 2012
Genre: Picture book
Cover Score: *****
Overall Score:*****
Rating: G

A young girl who is not at all sleepy goes through the motions of getting ready for bed after her parents tell her she can stay awake all night as long as she's in bed. But once tucked in she tries another delay tactic and begins asking questions about other animals, do they all sleep too? Yes, her mom assures her, the whale and bats and dogs and bears and tigers and other creatures all sleep, some in the daytime, some in water, some in nests. Soon the girl has imitated each of the animals in some way and drifts off to sleep.

This is a beautiful story that has hints of Goodnight Moon about it but rather than framing the child’s world it acts as a magical dreamscape blurring reality a bit. The narration is gently repetitive and lyric, lulling the reader into a doze but it’s the illustrations that truly shine. The lush, deep-toned, mixed media layouts carry bits of Americana, Klimt and a myriad of charming details in the collage that can be pored over incessantly. It’s simply lovely and would make a great gift for new parents or toddlers.

Monsieur Marceau: Actor without Words
Author: Leda Schubert
Illustrator: Gerard Dubois
Pages: 32
Age Range: 5-9
Published: 2012
Genre: Picture Book
Cover Score: ****
Overall Score: ****
Rating: PG (mentions of violence, older themes)

A great intro to the life of the world's premier mime, Marcel Marceau. Born in France in 1923, young Marcel was entranced by Charlie Chaplin and would practice miming and acting for his friends to make them laugh. His happy existence was interrupted by the onset of WWII. Of Jewish descent, he changed his last name and joined the resistance eventually saving the lives of hundreds of children and hiding Allied soldiers. After the war he studied mime, performing in countless countries on stage and in film; his signature costume and movements being instantly recognizable the world over.

I’m a huge fan of picture book biographies. I love that so many amazing people are made accessible to children through this medium and this one is really well done. Simple text brings his world to life for even the youngest of readers while an afterword and end matter provide some extra meat for older readers. The crux of the story revolves around his career, what a mime is and how he does what he does something many readers today probably aren’t familiar with. Several complete spreads are devoted to showing him working his craft. Beautiful oil illustrations capture his charm and the fluidity of his motions, the bleakness of war and the dramatics of show business. Perfect for Francophiles, artists, actors, or anyone with a curiosity about the lives of others.

Waterloo and Trafalgar
Written and Illustrated by: Olivier Tallec
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-9
Published: 2012
Genre: Picture Book
Cover Score: ****
Overall Score: ****
Rating: PG (violence)

This is one of those rare books that can appeal to the masses but will most likely slip under the radar and be missed by most. A wordless battle goes on over the course of years and pages between two men, one orange and one blue (showing clearly their lines of demarcation) until a small bird comes along to show them the folly of their ways. It’s a brilliant and obvious cry for the ridiculousness of war with just enough silliness to keep young readers enthralled and enough truth to get older ones thinking. And the irony of the two men's names will add to the meaning for even older readers. A gem.

Creepy Carrots
Author: Aaron Reynolds
Illustrator: Peter Brown
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-8
Published: 2012
Genre: Picture Book
Cover Score: ****
Overall Score:*****
Rating: PG (Some scary elements)

Jasper bunny loves carrots and the best carrots come from Crackenhopper Field. He stops by and picks and munches every chance he gets. But one day he hears the distinct sound of carrots creeping up behind him and pretty soon he's seeing creepy carrots everywhere! His parents don't believe him of course so he takes matters into his own hands and builds a moat/fence/gate all around the field so the carrots can't get out. A perfectly Hitchcockian twist at the end will leave you laughing, I promise.

I'd meant to showcase this one at Halloween but life got the better of me, as usual, so here you have it with my belated apologies. The story is one that will be enjoyed by most readers but will be truly appreciated by an older audience (parents, rejoice!) It's perfectly paced, slightly spooky, and filled with tongue-in-cheek descriptions of 'the soft...sinister...tunktunktunk of carrots creeping' and 'terrible carroty breathing' that may give tiny listeners pause. Black and white panel illustrations evoke frozen film noir frames with only the carrots and their dopelgangers (a bright malevolent orange) breaking up the monochromatic scenery. And the carrot-filled end pages are delightful!

Written and Illustrated by: Birgitta Sif
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-8
Published: 2012
Genre: Picture book
Cover Score: ****
Overall Score: ****
Rating: G

Oliver feels a bit different. He doesn't like the things that everyone else seems to and spends most of his time by himself. But he's not completely alone, he has an entourage of stuffed animals and toys that keep him company and combined with his rich imagination he's never bored or lonely. Together they search for treasure, cross bridges, fight sharks and even visit the other side of the world. But he comes to realize that his 'friends' can't always give him everything he needs. One day while playing tennis by himself the ball rolls away and he loads everyone up in the wagon for another adventure. But what they find isn't at all what they expected; the beginning of the best adventure he's ever had. I won't give away the little twist at the end but it's a good one and leaves Oliver being true to himself and the reader satisfied with the world at large.

Ahh the illustrations! Pencil sketches that have all the charm of Marla Frazee's stuff but in an entirely different style. Big eyes, spaghetti limbs, backgrounds that nearly overwhelm small Oliver and yet perfectly highlight his contentment at being practically swallowed by the world around him, filled with details and characters with charms and personalities all their own. And the lovely green tinted gallery on the end pages; be still my beating heart, they are almost worth the cover price on their own! Beautiful!

With the holidays swiftly approaching I'm going to take this opportunity to advocate the giving of books as gifts. There are few gifts that can have as lasting an effect as the perfect book. The ones above are fabulous choices, of course, but there are so, so many out there to choose from that with a little help you are almost guaranteed to find something for everyone on your list.  A book can also be a vehicle for another gift as well if you don't want to be known solely as 'the person who gives books'. (I've already garnered that honor in my family, thank you very much!) Here are a few ideas:
  • give a non-fiction book about a favorite animal along with passes to the zoo, aquarium, circus etc. to see the animal up-close and in-person
  • movie tickets or a DVD along with the original literary version
  • how-to book paired with equipment for the task (ie cook book and spatula, knitting and yarn, drawing and pencils etc.)
  • biopic of a favorite musician with a CD or itunes gift card
  • travel guide, historical fiction or non-fiction of a place along with plane tickets to that location-for those big spenders out there :)
  • your favorite poetry book paired with magnetic poetry
  • an epistolary novel (written in a series of letters or journal entries) along with a set of stationery or a journal
  • for kids any book can be tied into a corresponding toy (a book about spring? kites!  a book about vehicles? toy cars! a book about a bear? a teddy bear!)
  • for more brilliant ideas check out this website
And if you're giving a book can I put a plea in for the personal inscription?  I LOVE when there's a note from the giver in the front cover! I'm not always good at this but I've already got the inscriptions planned for a few of the books I'm giving this year.

This one for dad
A couple of these for the nephews
This for mom

Who's on your list?  What books have you given/are you giving/been given? Can't wait to hear about them all, but until then...Season's Readings!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

listening to a legend.

We've lost a lot of treasures this year and today we're forced to say goodbye to yet one more; jazz legend Dave Brubeck.

I grew up trying to clap along to the syncopated and crazy rhythms of Mr. Dave Brubeck and his 5/8 and 9/8 timings. I wish I could say I conquered them but unfortunately it's something I still have to really, really concentrate on. (I try not to listen to the more challenging pieces while I drive, I've been known to tap the gas and break alternately and sporadically!) But he helped shape the way I listen to and appreciate music.

He was influenced by and influenced scores of musicians, jazz and non-jazz alike and the world will have a bit less cadence and pulse without him.

a life lesson.

I haven’t been MIA on purpose, despite how it’s all looked lately. I’m still trying to decide what to do about the lack of storage space issue.  Apparently blogger gives you 5 gb free storage for photos and videos and then after that you have to pay a monthly fee. So, I’m debating whether to go back and delete superfluous photos or just suck it up and pay the money or see if there’s something else I can do. And on top of that I’ve had a whopper of a cold this week.  Home from work and subsisting on a steady diet of soups and cheesy Christmas movies I’ve had a lot of time to think…but I haven’t. Mostly I’ve just soaked up a myriad of lessons from tv and the kindness of friends and roommates.  I thought I’d pass on a few of the best to you all! (You can thank me later.)

  • There is healing power in homemade gingerbread
  • All wishes come true
  • There’s no such thing as too much Lysol
  • Christmas music is the best music of all, and finding new faves makes the season even better
  • A hot bath and a good book can cure a host of ills
  • Even if things don’t quite go as planned along the way the end result will be better than you imagined
  • You can relive/makeover your entire life in the span of 24 hours (or a couple of weeks, tops)
  • Soup, in its endless varieties, is a near-perfect food
  • Packages in the mail make even the worst day bearable
  • A meddlesome Santa/family member/guardian angel is the best matchmaker (and if you don’t marry the person they’re trying to match you with your efforts to escape them will lead you to The One)  
  • To increase your chances of finding love volunteer at a dog shelter
  • And if all else fails hire someone to be your significant other to fool your family and you’ll be married by New Year’s!

So, adios to the first cold of the season. (Did you hear me? I'm done with you!!)  Let’s hope this isn’t a portent of things to come but rather the only blow, leaving the rest of winter (or pseudo summer if you’re experiencing 70+ degrees and sunshine like we have been…or so I’ve heard) sickness free!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

being grateful.

Hmm, you may have noticed I haven't been quite as diligent as I had lead you to believe I would be.  I'd like to say it's because I've been hard at work on my novel but mostly it's just that life, boring old life, has gotten in the way. Bleh!

So, here's my pathetic attempt at catching up on the last week's worth of entries...

November photo-a-day challenge #20
something old

Old books, my fave!
November photo-a-day challenge #21

The first Christmas tree of the season

November photo-a-day challenge #22

The ginormous poinsettia dwarfing our coffee table and mocking my lack of  Christmas preparation

And apparently I'm out of storage space, so we'll have to pause while I figure out these technical difficulties...any pros out there?

Who knew this would be such a production?!

Monday, November 19, 2012

being grateful.

November photo-a-day challenge #19
Written words
A card written in my grandmother's hand and passed down to me from my mother.  I've traced the words at least twice as they've faded so they're probably now more mine than hers but I cherish them all the same. And they've brought me hope and comfort often throughout the years.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

being grateful.

November photo-a-day challenge #17
Something funny

November photo-a-day challenge #18
Favorite food

I have a friend who has introduced me to the wonders of Pie Day.  In lieu of gorging yourself beyond all hope on Thanksgiving and then not having enough room to enjoy dessert, her family has claimed the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving as Pie Day, a day dedicated to the dessert and all its glory. She is out of the country this year so I took it upon myself to steal her tradition. I spent all day Saturday baking, decorated with quotes and images of pie, and invited a ton of people to share their own pies and the day.  It was a success! We had over 15 different flavors and mmmm, were they delicious!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

being grateful.

November photo-a-day challenge #16

Keeping busy the past few weeks.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

being grateful.

November photo-a-day challenge #14

A typical  night in traffic

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

being grateful.

No photo today.  Instead I'm reposting a video that's currently making its way around the interweb.  This is Mr. Sean Bean reciting a poem by Wilfred Owen in honor of Britain's Remembrance Day (or Veteran's Day as we call it here in the US.)  This man could probably bring me to tears with a recitation of the phone book so be prepared for some chills and more than a momentary pause to think on the words and meaning of what he's saying.

And as always, an insufficient thank-you to all those who have served and are currently serving in various military positions throughout the world. To my grandpas, uncles, cousins, friends, neighbors and strangers who put their lives on the line to preserve our freedoms and oppose tyranny, all my love and gratitude.

Never forget!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

being grateful.

November photo-a-day challenge #10
I made this collage (thanks to various pinterest pins) using old maps, modge podge, stickers and paint. This is my new mantra. (Gracias to the Avett Bros for the quote.)

being grateful.

November photo-a-day challenge #9
In my closet/clothes

being grateful.

November photo-a-day challenge #8

being grateful.

November photo-a-day challenge #7

This post is two-fold. I've finally joined the modern world and gotten a smart phone (isn't it cute?), and our internet is back up and running after several days of being down.  Hooray for technology!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

being grateful.

November photo-a-day challenge #6
So grateful to live in a country where we have so many freedoms. Did you exercise your rights today?

Monday, November 5, 2012

being grateful.

November photo-a-day challenge #5
Starbucks salted caramel hot chocolate.  Yum!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Saturday, November 3, 2012

being grateful.

November photo-a-day challenge #3

The lights in one of the Kennedy Center theaters. I've been there twice this week and man, I love that place!

Friday, November 2, 2012

being grateful

November photo-a-day challenge #2

the ghostly blurs of cosmic bowling (it looks way cooler on my camera)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

being grateful.

November Photo-a-day challenge #1 *
An inspiring person
statue of Abraham Lincoln on the site of Lincoln's Cottage in NW DC

*in the spirit of full disclosure--I intend to take as many new photos as possible but some days there will be photos that I've taken previously that have been re-touched or edited, just so's ya know!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

submitting to a challenge.

I'm going to be taking a sort of hiatus here on the blog for the next month. I've been slowly chipping away at a book I've been writing for a couple of years now and recently it's been weighing on my mind more and more. With November being NaNoWriMo I've decided to focus my writing attention solely on my book and nothing else for those 30 days. I'm not sure how much I'll get done but even if it's just a few chapters it will hopefully be enough to get me out of the slump and on towards actually finishing it.

November is also the gateway to the holidays and as we begin to celebrate the gluttony and excesses of our society by shopping until we drop let us use November to remember all that we have and give thanks for the many blessings that enrich our lives. So, while I'll be verbally silent here for the next few weeks I'm still hoping to post a daily image following (sort of) this photo challenge. One image of gratitude daily throughout the month leading up to and ushering in the holiday season. Hopefully it will help get my heart and my priorities in the right place.

Wish me luck and I'll 'talk' to you all again in December!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

a gratefulness checklist.

  • Power still on? Check.
  • Nothing flooded? Check.
  • A two day break from work? Check.
  • Closets cleaned? Check.
  • Downton Abby season 3 watched? Check.
  • Halloween costume ready? Check.
  • Winter clothes out? Check.
  • Possible end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it cookies consumed? Check.
  • A celebratory mug of Postum drunk? Check!

Frankenstorm left us relatively unscathed here in the DC metro area. There are some without power, some flooding near the Potomac, a bit of clean-up that will have to take place, but in the scheme of it all we came out mostly untouched.

During the storm

The aftermath
No mocking the uber fashionable green sweats tucked in the rain boots, please!

Prayers are being sent double-time to NYC and NJ where they were hit much, much harder. It will be awhile before they're back to normal but I'm grateful the mass destruction wasn't as widespread as had been predicted. Hope everyone reading this is safe and sound!

Monday, October 29, 2012

a taste of fall.

This past week since running my race I've fallen off the wagon as far as my healthy eating/diet is concerned.  I had been convinced that it hadn't made a huge difference. I felt a bit better but I wasn't necessarily getting more sleep or noticing any vast improvements and the emotional turmoil of avoiding so many things I enjoyed (including baking, social invitations and just plain old eating!) didn't seem to outweigh the slim benefits. So, I'd determined to add a few things back in but still eat primarily fruits and vegetables and avoid the processed foods and sugars in particular. Well, the best laid plans as they say...

I think I ate vegetables 3 or 4 times the entire week and let me tell you, it really did make a difference.  I feel super sluggish, I have much less energy and mental clarity and just feel overall bleh (yep, I just made "bleh" an adjective.)

This week will be a little crazy as we'll probably lose power so we've had to go the non-perishable grocery route but as soon as things are back to normal I vow to return to a cleaner way of eating. But, until then I've been enjoying some fall treats and they've definitely pleased my pallet, if not so much the rest of me.

Here are a few of my favorites: *

Roasted Brussels Sprouts I left out the barley 'cuz I didn't have any, but otherwise a winner!
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas tonight's dinner, delish
Pumpkin Pie French Toast pumpkin? french toast? what's not to love?! I poured a bit of buttermilk syrup over mine (thanks M, for the recipe!) and it was divine!!
Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies Oh, my, word! There are no words for how delicious these were. Eat them fresh out of the oven when the caramel is gooey or top them with some pumpkin ice cream or dip them in dark hot tasty!

Now I just need to get me a salted caramel hot chocolate and a hazelnut steamer from Starbucks and I'll be ready to purge my system again!

What are some of your favorite fall foods and flavors? Anything I should squeeze in before I launch back into reality living?

*All of the recipes were found on Pinterest originally.  How did I survive before without it? I shudder to think!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

a peaceful reassurance.

As we on the East Coast gear up for what could possibly be the storm of the century I've had some time to do a bit of reflecting as well as preparing for the worst case scenario and the unknown.  Our Bishop (congregational ecclesiastical leader) reminded us all today at the end of our worship service to watch over one another, pray for those who will be in harm's way and to remember to 'fear not.' 

There are some obvious parallels between preparations for a real, physical storm and those preparations made against the emotional, spiritual and temporal storms that we face in this life. But we've been counseled time and again in our church that 'if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.' And while so many around us have shifted into panic mode we can take comfort in those words, no matter what kind of storm is headed our way.

I've got a ton of batteries and flashlights perched in various places throughout the house, my candles and matches are also strategically poised in case of power outages. There are stacks of bottled water and closets full of canned food. The storm windows are on, the car is full of gas (and parked as far away from a tree as possible, in this neighborhood that equals about 4 feet!) and I have plenty of books and goodies to sustain me through at least the guaranteed day off tomorrow.  But how does one prepare for storms of non-Biblical proportions? Interestingly enough, the Bible has the answers to that! 

A strong character is a good starting point; honest, hard-working, full of faith, selfless. These qualities can go a long way to providing you with a foundation of preparation. In my own life I've found that trying to imitate Jesus Christ and trusting in His teachings and promises can make up any deficiencies in my own life, human character and preparation. 

A couple of my favorite scripture verses echo these sentiments.

Helaman 5:12
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that e must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.

Matthew 7:24-27
Therefore whosoever hearth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock:
And the rain descended and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.
And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house: and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

And finally, along the same lines and offering some great counsel and reassurance, one of my favorite hymns:

How firm is your foundation? Are you prepared? Have you reason to fear?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

a fall hike.

I'd been planning for months to take a trip out to Sky Meadows state park in western Virginia and there was always something that got in my way; an increase in the number of Saturdays I have to work, various social commitments, hurricanes, the usual. This weekend I'd planned once more to try and make it when we got word of the monster storm headed our way and I was afraid I was going to have to cancel yet again.  But the odds were in my favor this time and I dragged a few friends with me to do some hiking. 

About an hour west of DC, the park sits on the edge of the Blue Ridge Mountains surrounded by horse country and vineyards. Translation: It's beautiful! The drive was unexpectedly smooth (I-66 is notoriously yucky at all days and times) and quick and we were able to spend about 3 1/2 hours hiking through fallen leaves and enjoying views like this:

The weather held, slightly overcast and cool, a perfect fall day. It's nice to know there are little bits of heaven not too far away and places to go to recoup and recover from the grind and perpetual push of day-to-day living.

After we'd exhausted ourselves we decided it was time to venture on to part 2 of the day's outing, a late lunch! We followed some winding, tree-lined roads through the countryside and into a little town called Middleburg where we ate lunch at a fabulous little cafe. (Thanks, M, for the suggestion!)

The Upper Crust bakery served us up some fantastic sandwiches on fluffy homemade bread, a delicious slice of chocolate cream pie, a to-die-for chocolate croissant, and a few cookies for the ride home.  We all left feeling delightfully sated and ready for an afternoon nap!

I now feel perfectly rejuvenated and ready to handle anything Mr. Frankenstorm may decide to throw my way!  Happy weekend to you all!