Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year

Reflecting on a year that has past and a new slate opening for 2019, I think of all my blessings and joys and challenges.  The more mature my thinking gets, I realize that life is not always joyful.  Yes, I used to childishly think life should be like a fairy tale where good always wins.  It has challenges that must be dealt with.  Being positive remains a strong suit for me and I'm so thankful for that bent in my personality.  I refuse to let the joy that comes my way go unnoticed!  

There is plenty in this world of mine to get discouraged about!  But then Joy comes in unexpected moments.

Like the squirrels that hides nuts and seeds and then joyfully finding them, I'm looking for the joy that surrounds me.

I like to think of Joy as something that must be looked for and pursued daily.  Don't let the disappointments of life take it away.  

"Beneath the rust and grime which dulls the shine of our weathered hearts, Joy patiently waits to be discovered. "

John Mark Green

So as I say goodbye to 2018 and hello to 2019 I will continue to seek Joy!  Happy New Year, my friends. ♥ 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Christmas Joy

We've been decorating more and more each day and it really is beginning to look and feel more and more like Christmas.  Having a helpful husband certainly takes the burden of trying to do it all away. 

Our Christmas tree pretty much looks the same every year as we use the same ornaments that have been collected over the years.

Beloved ornaments from our parent' s trees as well as gifts from our children find a special spot each year.

Our family history is all tied up on every branch!  If you've been reading here very long, you've seen the same ornaments year after year.  I'm not one to do a themed tree.

I'm an old fashioned gal when it comes to Christmas.  I tend to want the same menus, the same decorations, the same family members visiting though I know changes happen over the years.  Embracing traditions, I have to be careful to embrace change as well. 

Having snow over the weekend has certainly added more joy to our environment.  Even though quite early for us to have snow, the blanket of white certainly makes it feel like Christmas, even if we hardly ever have that! 

The above photo was taken from the indoors where the Christmas tree lights seem to light the Leyland Cypress as well.

As you can see I need to change out the Autumn pumpkin garden flag to a Christmas one!

"Christmas is a bridge.  We need bridges as the river of time flows past. Today's Christmas should mean creating happy hours for tomorrow and reliving those of yesterday. "
Gladys Taber

We never get too old for cookie making at Christmas!

Chocolate chip are my grands favorite, so their grandmother indulges them.

Merry Christmas to you, my friends!  I hope as you add all the layers of Christmas to your home and heart you feel JOY! ♥

Thursday, December 6, 2018

It's December

Hello my friends.  It's been a while since I've posted here.  I'm sure you are as busy as I am as December seemed to arrive when I least expected.  Not feeling too well has kept me unmotivated to get much done in this busy season.  We've celebrated our son's birthday and enjoyed Thanksgiving with family.  Warning: If you are looking for inspiration, you might as well move on to another blog.

There are still many gifts to buy and cards to write.  I'm trying to focus on the reason for the season and not my anxiety that is visiting my brain and heart daily. 

Feelings aside we have decorated the Christmas tree and boxes of decor have occupied the Florida room waiting for me to bring them out to see the light of day. 

We had new windows installed in our basement last week.  The task of putting the blinds back up has fallen to Grayden as new woodwork has been installed around the windows.  So I'm in charge of decorating, though not feeling up to par.  I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, so I must apologize.  I am so blessed with a wonderful family and a home and food to eat.

 Do you have expectations of what the Christmas season should be?  Are you feeling overwhelmed by it all?   I'm promising myself to do what I can and not add more pressure.  Blessings to you as we ponder this Holy season. 

"Christmas, my child, is love in action."
Dale Evans



Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Island of Oahu

After leaving Maui, our ship made it's way during the night to the island of Oahu.  We were docked in the port at Honolulu.  What a surprise we had in store for us!  Honolulu was a fairly large city when we visited in 1971, but we both were so surprised to see how big it had grown!  The total population of Oahu is 953,207 and the population of Honolulu is 390,738!  No wonder there is so much growth of high rises and homes.

I imagine it's unfair of me to think everything will look like I remember from so many years ago.  Our little town is no longer little from that span of time either.

We booked an excursion that would give us a good look at the island.  We boarded our coach for an eight hour day that took us around the island to spots we wanted to visit.

As I noted in my journal we had a beautiful day complete with a wonderful tour guide.  Our first stop was Pearl Harbor.  We had visited this memorial before, but felt we must do so again.  As we were getting off the bus for our tour there Grayden checked his pocket and discovered he didn't have his wallet!  Oh my goodness did that give us bad start to the day.  We reported it to our driver and he said he would be on the lookout for it, but we were pretty stressed about it.  I did not bring my purse so we didn't have any money.  I often don't bring a purse since having back issues.  

We didn't want this episode to spoil our day so we joined our group on this touching tour.  

On December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service.  This surprise attack led to the United States entry into WWII.  Twenty one ships were lost or damaged during this attack.  All but three were returned to service for the United States Navy.  In Pearl Harbor, The USS Arizona was a total loss with 1,177 men perishing.  Their remains lay entombed in the harbor.  Men who survived this horrible attack and served on the Arizona have the right to have their remains entombed here. 

The memorial park is operated by the National Park Service in conjunction with the United States Navy.  This solemn and sacred park touched my heart to the core.  Having been here with young eyes, I must say I saw it with a different reverence on this day.  We began our tour by watching a movie about the events of the day and then boarded a boat skippered by Naval personnel to get a more close up view.

The USS Missouri is the first ship we pass.  This is the ship that hosted the signing of the surrender of Japan that ended WWII. 

The USS West Virginia was sunk by Japanese torpedoes and a bomb from the air.  

The USS Tennessee was hit by two bombs that incompletely detonated.

The USS Vestal, a repair ship, was hit by two bombs intended for more important vessels.

We then slowly approach the USS Arizona.  There is complete silence aboard as we make our way along Battleship Row.  The design of the Arizona memorial is attributed to Alfred Preis who was detained at the beginning of the war because of his Austrian birth.  The design is meant to represent defeat in the center and victory on the ends.  The Arizona is no longer in service but is an active U.S. Military Cemetery.  2,335 military personnel were killed. 2,008 Navy personnel, 109 Marines, 218 Army, 68 civilians, making the total lives lost 2,803.  Wounded came to 1,143. Total Japanese loss was 55 men.

We had to stop and reflect on these horrible events.  How can such hatred exist?  I do not know and I must say I worry about it for my grandchildren.  Dear God, please teach us to love one another.

As we were leaving Pearl Harbor I couldn't help but photograph such a lovely peaceful harbor and remember it was not peaceful at all on December 7, 1941.

Riding along the Interstate H3 (yes they have three interstate highways on the island) we are treated to glorious views as we make our way to the North Shore.

Our tour guide reminds us that we are going to stop for lunch soon.  Grayden and I look at one another and say--no money, no lunch for us!

We go inside and look around at the gift shop and our guide sees we are not in line for the lunch buffet.  We remind him we have lost a wallet and he says--"Oh your meal is included with this tour."  I can tell you there was one man very happy to hear this. 

After lunch we continued on our tour of the lovely North Shore.  As you can see we had rain off and on, but still enjoyed the beauty before us.

We were told that portions of Jurassic Park was filmed in this area.  

Next on our visit was a stop at the Dole Pineapple Plantation.  Sadly the pineapple companies of Hawaii have left like the sugar cane.  There are fields of them for Hawaiian consumption.  The old fields are now being developed into subdivisions. 

We enjoyed watching a pineapple cutting demonstration.

This was the sweetest pineapple we have ever tasted!  We were happy to end our day on a sweet note. 

As we boarded the ship we both wanted to head straight to our cabin and see if Grayden's wallet was there where he thought maybe he had left it.  We went into the room and didn't see it anywhere.  Then we opened the safe and there it was!  That sure made the end of our day feel much better.  It was an emotional day in a lot of ways for us. 



Saturday, November 10, 2018

On to the Islands of Hawaii

We both were excited as we checked out of the Queen Mary and walked over to board our ship!  As you can see the rain had just stopped as we rolled our bags to check into the Carnival Splendor.  The Splendor is certainly not The Queen Mary, but she definitely showed us a good time.  The Queen Mary is on the left so you can see we were literally next door to our next ride.

As we boarded the ship we were greeted with a lei!  You can't go to Hawaii without one.  In 1971 we went to Hawaii when our daughter was a two year old.  When we left the plane we were presented with fresh flower leis.  These were not, but still festive and fun.

It's always fun to enjoy the sail away as the ship leaves the port.  The weather began to improve and we even saw some blue skies as we headed into the Pacific Ocean.

Checking into our stateroom I was surprised to find flowers from our children for my birthday.  They certainly made my day even more special.   

The flowers lasted our whole two weeks and were greatly enjoyed in our stateroom.

Even our cabin steward Carter remembered my birthday!  He took such good care of us making sure we had everything we needed and made the cutest towel animals everyday for our bed.

For me the best part of a cruise are the relaxing days spent reading and gazing at the beautiful ocean!  We have never been this far into the Pacific Ocean on a ship.  It was absolutely gorgeous!

After traveling trans-Pacific for four days we reached the island of Maui.  Hawaii was admitted to the USA in 1959 and is our newest state.  It is located on an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean 2,223 nautical miles to Honolulu from Los Angeles.  Today we stopped on the island of Maui that is one of the 8 major islands that make up Hawaii.   We booked a tour to the Iao Needle Valley and a Tropical Plantation.

As we enter the Iao Needle Valley we are in awe of the towering emerald covered peaks of lava that are covered with vegetation and beautiful water falls. If you look closely you can see the falls cascading down the mountains.  Our guide mentioned that we are lucky to view that as there had been rain the day before.

We hiked the short walk to the viewing area to take in the beauty.

There were many plants popping up all around us that we were told were not native to Maui.

The famous Iao Needle is the center of the Iao Valley State Park.  It is a sacred place for Hawaiians as in 1790 the Battle of Kepaniwai is where King Kamehameha I clashed with the Maui army in an effort to unite the islands.  This battle changed Hawaiian history forever.  Even with the cloud cover, we were able to view this lovely park and its botanical interests.

In the valley you can view the Pacific Ocean.  It was time for us to board the bus and go to the Tropical Plantation.

Walking into the Plantation I knew we were in for a treat.

Sugar cane machinery was used as a focal point in this pond.  Sadly sugar cane is no longer grown commercially in Hawaii.  It is now grown in other countries where they employ cheap labor.

Just before boarding the tram I peeked into a cafe that had the most lovely arrangements on the tables.  All in the open air!

The Maui Tropical Plantation was quite interesting as we boarded a tram to ride throughout the fields of pineapple, papaya and coconut palms and many other interesting plants that I never see growing in our little corner.  Our guide was a lovely Hawaiian beauty who explained the plants along the way.  She even demonstrated how to properly open a coconut.

We enjoyed seeing the wide variety of plants that are grown here for local consumption.

It was fun seeing the chickens wonder about the gardens.  The wild nature of this plantation had a very serene feeling. 

Our bus tour guide, Henry brought us safely back to the ship after a wonderful day on Maui.  We enjoyed this excursion very much and have fond memories of our time spent on this lovely island.  I hope you will join me again as we travel to Oahu.  We will be visiting a very important place that touched us deeply.