Sunday, July 14, 2019

Sunday Sentiments -.02

Did I offer peace today?
Did I bring a smile to someone’s face?
Did I let go of my anger and resentment?
Did I forgive?
Did I love?
These are the real questions.
I must trust that the little bit of love
that I sow now will bear many fruits,
here in this world, and in the life to come.”

 - Henry J. M. Nouwen

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Just Around The Bend - An Impromptu Road Trip To Tennessee

I mentioned in my last post that converting a van into a "home on wheels" and traveling the country has been Bill's dream for several years now and we're recently begun taking some steps to bring that dream to fruition, though it will most likely still be another year or two before we embark.  But in that pursuit, Bill found a van earlier this week that showed some potential.  It appeared to have everything we were looking for, the most important of which is a high ceiling.  If we are going to make this our home for a couple of years, we want to be able to stand up! :). It also had lots of windows, was less than twenty years old, had low mileage and it was within our price range, + + + +!  And to slather the icing on the cake, it was only about four hours away in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and we're always up for a trip to the Smokies! So Bill changed his work schedule around a little and we pulled everything together and took off late Thursday afternoon.  Right now we have the back of our SUV converted into a camper and when we camp we either stay in state or national parks, or we seek out a BLM spot, which is honestly our favorite thing to do. But because this trip was rather spur of the moment, we decided to boondock at the local Cracker Barrel, which essentially means we spent the night in their parking lot!  Most Cracker Barrel locations across the country allow this, as well as Walmart, but we prefer Cracker Barrel and in return for their hospitality, we always try to eat breakfast there the next morning.  We pulled in around 10:30 p.m. Thursday night, just as a light rain was starting to fall. It wasn't the most restful night we've had, it was pretty hot and humid, but that's just the part of the adventure!

The next morning, after we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at Cracker Barrel, we headed to where the van was located. We had a couple of hours to kill, and since one thing Cracker Barrel is not known for, at least in our opinion, is their coffee, we decided to seek out a quiet place where we could brew up a cup of instant Starbucks, which is a staple in our camping kitchen! The first six pictures you see above are of the little spot we happened upon. This is actually a picnic area that one of the white water outfitters provides for its customers, but since it was several hours before they opened for the day, we took a chance that they wouldn't mind if we borrowed one of their tables and enjoyed a cup of coffee. I was immediately flooded with memories from my childhood when I saw the swaying willows and the bright pink blooms on the catalpa trees. My parents had a weeping willow and several catalpa trees in their yard when I was growing up, and I would spend hours playing outside and cooking up imaginary meals, pretending the tiny catalpa leaves were green beans. At some point in the season they sprout these long bean pods which I loved as well, and I would open them up and pretend they were English peas. I even fed some to my brother once, which resulted in a frantic phone call to poison control! He survived, but after that I my mother kept a closer eye on my foraging! It was a such lovely little spot, and I would have loved to linger longer but as the temperatures began to rise the gnats set in and drove us away.

In the end the van just wasn't quite tall enough.  Bill couldn't stand up in it and my head reached the very top, and since the plan is to fully insulate it and build a new floor, we knew that would raise the current floor a little higher and neither of us would be able to stand up in it comfortably.  The van is owned by a guy who works as a guide for Smoky Mountain Outdoors and takes people white water rafting, so it was right on the river as well. But we were so busy looking over the van and taking measurements that I didn't get a chance to take many pictures, other than that cute little make-do garden in the picture above. But Cory, (the van owner and resident guide), graciously invited us back before the end of the season to ride the rapids and we already have plans to take him up on that! If you're interested in trying out some white water rafting yourself, especially if you don't live far from the area, I would highly recommend getting in touch with them!  Cory is a GREAT guy and we can't wait to make the trip back and have some fun! I'm sure that then I'll be able to take a few more pictures, because the area where it is located is so beautiful!

In typical road-trip fashion, we took the long way home.  We're not opposed to interstate travel, especially when timing is a factor. But overall we like to travel much like we try to live our lives, in the ★ S L O W ★ lane! We are seekers of side roads and small towns, and love leaving room to stop in at places that pique our interest along the way. One of the places we stopped on this trip was a used book store. I won't mention the name because overall we wouldn't give it the highest rating.  But they did have a wonderful section of seasonal crafting and cook books, which I proudly resisted perusing except to take a quick picture. And I did find "Pooh Corner" in the children's area endearing. If the rest of the store had been as charming and the staff had been friendlier (they never even acknowledged us), I might have enjoyed it more.  Eventually the road wound through Abingdon and Damascus, two of our all time favorite places. The mountain laurel is in full bloom right now, pictured last above. It was such a beautiful drive home and I hated for our time to come to a close.

I'm excited that we'll be making the trip back again, and we've also decided to spend a week in the Damascus area towards the end of October and hike Grayson Highlands and The Virginia Creeper Trail.  In the mean time, as we continue the quest for our van, I'm sure there will be other impromptu trips that pop up along the way, providing ample opportunity for seeking beauty and traveling in the
★ S L O W   L A N E ★!  And of course, I'll be sure to share!

Until then my friends, seek out beauty wherever life takes you this weekend!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Lazy Summer Days

I haven't done much this past week, other than cross stitch. After I finished my little trio of salt box houses and got them in place, I set to work on this seasonal piece. I still have a black checkerboard border to stitch, which I will hopefully finish over the next few days, and then I plan to stuff it and place it in a little seasonal display I'm dreaming up. I'm a little late to the game with summer, so I will probably set immediately to work on Autumn to get ahead. In the end I will have one for each season and display them with some other "seasonal" trinkets to observe the changes of the year, which always brings me such delight!

Part of me has felt a bit lazy, and maybe even guilty for sitting on my rumpus so much lately.  But after pushing myself hard for close to a month, I knew that if I didn't take some time to rest that I would eventually crash, emotionally and physically, which is never pretty. But come next week, there is furniture to be painted, curtains to be made and hung, and a plethora of other things that will need tending to, so in the mean time, I'm going to embrace grace and allow myself to rest.

In other news, we think we've found our van, although in all honesty, I have very mixed emotions concerning that. I think I've shared before that it is Bill's dream to convert a van into a "home on wheels" and then take a year or two and travel the country. And while I'm almost always up for a good road trip, this last move has kind of done me in on the idea of relocating any time soon, especially living on the road. That's not to say I'm not game, it's just the timing of this discovery that has made it a little hard to warm to. But he promised that we won't be setting out "any time soon", as in, at least until the end of our lease which is a year from now, and he expects it may even take a little longer than that. If I'm part of this deal, full time anyway, I have some specifications regarding the way I want things to look, feel and function.  Being a "homebody", if that is going to be on the road for a few years, then I need as many comforts as we can fit into that small space. But I have to agree that this van does seem to hold all that we had hoped for, structurally anyway. It is less than 20 years old, has low mileage, a high ceiling, meaning that you can stand up in it, and the price is right. And while we won't be heading out on a grand adventure in the near future, outfitting it will be fun and inspiring as well. The only problem we are facing right now is where to park it during the build, since we now live in an apartment.  But as with every step of this journey, we are trusting that if this is God's will that He will provide. With that, we're heading for the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee tomorrow evening and hope to be back by Friday or Saturday at the latest. The trip itself will be fun, and perhaps a little "get away" will do us both good. I'm hoping to make a little time for reading on the drive up, or listen to a favorite podcast.  With the move, I've fallen out of habit with enjoying both of these pleasures and a road trip can make the perfect setting for both.

And speaking of reading, I picked up the latest issue of Bella Grace magazine earlier this week and I've been perusing through it a bit, usually before bed. One of articles that piqued my interest was 25 Whimsical Ways To the Enlighten The Light Of Summer.  Just listen to the opening words of the first paragraph.

"At the mere suggestion of summer, possibilities seem endless.  There appears to be a litany of days that run one into another, stretching sunshine long into twilight.  Periwinkle evenings are met by petal-pink dawns, and the parade of summer clouds appears with invisible music you don't hear but can feel."

I don't know about you, but words just feed my soul, and these have wet my appetite to perhaps be even more intentional in relishing in the warm glow of summer's light. The article goes on to suggest ways to savor the summer days.  Here are just a few of their suggestions that I enjoyed.

★ If you feel like you're missing your youth, then go to the library and check out all of the favorite books you read a child.  Curl up with your old teddy and read the stories aloud in the character's voices.

★ If you are feeling adventurous, then get in your car with no phone, no map and no agenda of when to be back.  Get lost on purpose, turn by turn, just drive!

★ If you are blessed with a thunderstorm, then embrace every moment of it! Turn off al off the lights in your house and burn candles.  Cuddle under a blanket made of only the softest material, and into a a new novel and read it cover to cover.

I think I might just partake in all of these, and there are several others in the article that I sparked my interest as well.  What about you?  What are some ways that you are savoring summer, or an idea you have for something you can do to be intentional about making time to take in all the warmth and light this beautiful season holds? Our little impromptu road trip tomorrow has inspired me to seek out some beauty, and once we're back I'll be sure to share my finds with you!

Until then, my friends, savor these summer days!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Sunday Sentiments - .01

When the scarlet cardinal tells
Her dream to the dragon fly,
And the lazy breeze makes a nest in the trees
And murmurs a lullaby,
It is July.

When the tangled cobweb pulls
The cornflower's cap awry,
And the lilies tall lean over the wall,
To bow to the butterfly,
It is July.

When the heat like a mist veil floats,
An poppies flame in the rye,
And the silver not in the streamlet's throat,
Has softened almost to a sigh,
It is July.

When the hours are so still that time
Forgets them and lets them lie,
'Neath petals pink till the night stars wink
At the sunset in the sky.
It is July.

- Susan Hartley Swettn