Moments of Joy: January 2016

Last month’s post demonstrated a sweet side of teenagers and mother-in-laws.  Today I’ll show how the season of gift-giving does not have to stop when the holidays are over.

collage of blessings: working heater, wedding, health, clean home, snow, friends, compliments

The blinding glare of the late afternoon sun forces me to walk down the narrow paved street with my eyes almost closed.  The warmth which penetrates my face, shoulders, and arms feels so soothing.

Sixty-eight degrees, wow!‘ I think to myself.  “It seems so crazy to be walking in a sleeveless shirt when last week I was stomping around in four inches of snow and ice!

To my left I can hear the clicking sound of 16 little black toe nails tapping out a rhythm on the pavement.  The main reason I decided to take this walk was to reward my sweet dog after she tremblingly endured me trimming her thick, fast-growing nails.

The rough asphalt and concrete will file them nice and smooth by the time we get home. She needs the exercise, too.” The thought makes me smile; I always love accomplishing two things at once.

I turn my face away from the bright sun and look behind me to check for traffic before turning onto another street.  No one is in sight in this sleepy neighborhood.  No trucks, no cars, no trains, no planes, nothing disturbs the air except the pleasant sound of birds chirping and the continued pitter-pat of my faithful companion’s feet.

The sun emerges from behind a small wisp of cirrus cloud.  “This is so relaxing,” I muse as the sun’s warmth intensifies slightly, now concentrated on my left shoulder.  “This moment is like a special gift, appearing out of nowhere between last week’s snow and next week’s forecasted cold front.”

A happy realization flashes in my mind: “I’ve had a lot of wonderful moments like this lately, many special gifts and blessings!

My thoughts wander over things that have happened since the holidays, and the “gifts” begin to stack up in my mind…

  • On one of the coldest Saturdays right after Christmas, our central heater quit working.  We tried several things to fix it, but had to give up and call a repairman.  Fortunately for us, we were able to borrow a small electric heater while we waited.  And, more fortunately, the heater was not broken after all!  A small safety switch had flipped during the night due to unusually strong winds that happened to blow down the exhaust pipe at just the right angle.  The repairman figured it out in less than five minutes, showed me where the switch was, and gave us a few extra tips about the heater.  Then he left with a friendly goodbye and said it would be no charge for his time.
  • The next weekend, my family was invited to a lunch in honor of special friends of ours who were back in town for a wedding.  We were able to attend the wedding with them later that afternoon.  The very creative bride had been making plans for the event for nearly a year, and it truly was one of the most beautiful weddings I’d ever been to.  Every tiny detail was amazingly coordinated to be as fun and beautiful as possible, right down to their departure in the evening under the light of a tree-filled courtyard draped in miles of pale blue holiday lights.
  • My daughter had her wisdom teeth surgically removed.  I had misgivings after an initial consult with an oral surgeon.  Thankfully, we followed the recommendation of several friends and got a second opinion.  The second surgeon did a wonderful job (and saved us $1,300 in the process — HOORAY!).  During the procedure, I was chatting animatedly with a friendly lady in the waiting room.  Suddenly, in walks my husband with a large bouquet of flowers in hand. He had worked it out to take a break away from his job to give sympathy to his girl.  On the drive home, our drugged-up daughter couldn’t remember how she got into the car or why she suddenly had her coat on; but she did remember getting the flowers from her daddy.
  • The threat of surgery was looming over my mother.  Thanks, again, to the recommendation of friends, she found a doctor with an alternative treatment idea.  Within hours of meeting the doctor, my mother was feeling better, and surgery was no longer even on the horizon.  We all breathed a sigh of relief for that one!
  • Another weekend, we were able to spend the day with family, touring their new house.  It was a lovely home on a great piece of land, that put put them quite a few miles closer to us, too.  I’m so happy for them!

I notice the sound of panting has joined the rhythm of my dog’s tapping toes.  Her tongue is hanging out and she’s fallen behind me a bit, so I slow our pace for the last couple of blocks.  I search my memory during the remainder of our sunny walk and easily add more “gifts” to my growing pile.

  • Teaching Home Ec as part of my daughter’s homeschool schedule means I’ve had motivation and help for deep cleaning the house!
  • We woke to a beautiful, and unexpected snowy day, which afforded me an easy excuse to practice my photography hobby.
  • My husband and I were invited to a get-together with a group of college students from church.  It is so fun to spend time with them!
  • I’ve been missing my busy best friend.  Out of the blue, she set up an evening to go out to dinner with my daughter and I.  We had a great time catching up, and she even demanded to pick up the tab.  Finances are going well this month!  Lol
  • I surprised my mother-in-law by cooking some very low-salt venison chili to share with her. She is on a low sodium diet and was so excited about the mention of chili that she gave me a big hug.  After sharing a couple of bowls with my neighbor, he told me, “I honestly think that’s the best chili I’ve ever eaten.  I’m not kidding!  It was that good.” (And he’s in his 80s — that’s a lot of opportunity for tasting chili!  Lol)

The reverie ends as we arrive back home.  “What a month it’s been!  The best gifts don’t come don’t come in a package…”

My pup collapses in the middle of the living room and prepares for a nap.  My husband looks up from the football game he’s watching and gives me a smile.  My cup runs over!

bible open to Psalm 23, King James Version


It’s Too Soon, Little Ones!

The changing of the seasons is a beautiful thing.  In certain places, they seem to change every couple of weeks.  We never know quite what to expect around here, and neither do the poor plants.
bush honeysuckle bud sealed in ice and snow

This honeysuckle bush is a wonderful plant to keep in the yard. Heat, cold, flooding, drought, there seems to be nothing that fazes it; yet, it is not invasive like most varieties of honeysuckle (Lonicera).

one bush honeysuckle bloom escapes the ice

I enjoy this particular honeysuckle bush because it stays green and sports fragrant flowers year round. Honeybees love it!  This provides food for stray bees that wander out on warmer winter days.

weeds growing out of a crack in the concrete, covered with snow

Don’t worry, this little green guy can’t die — it’s a WEED!

red quince buds sealed in ice

branch of red quince buds in ice and snow

Red quince is another beautiful bush to grow in the yard, but watch out for the thorns! I quickly get reminded of those when I lean in to get macro shots of honeybees in the spring!

quince bud with icicle to the side

Here are a few more icy images from this morning:

chain link in snow and ice

chain link icicles

icy green bird house

Icicles prevented the birds from going into several of my homemade bird houses this morning.

rows of icicles on a tree limb


icicles on a tree branch

Sometimes I like to frost or color the edges of a photo (in this case, it was to distract from the ugly storage shed in the corner). What do you think? Does it add to the image, or detract from it?


Daydreams and Nightmares

I had a camera in hand and an unusual amount of free time.  That wasn’t a great combo because I wasted a perfectly good evening playing around with lighting and online photo editing programs!  I present the results for your amusement:


macro photo of eye staring off as if daydreaming


In the Spotlight

eye staring into flashlight in dark room


Paranoid Panic

macro photo of panicked eye, with zoom effect


Crocodile Tear

tear running down cheek


Creepy Cornea

partially lit eye, seen from side with light shining through cornea


Pixlr Gone Mad

macro photo of eye and cheek, edited to look like green monster


This was fun, but in hindsight I think it would have been wiser to put down the camera and go to bed!  Lol

Frankincense Oil Is Now an Essential Part of My Daily Routine

frankincense tree growing precariously off the side of a rocky bluff

Hang on, there’s always hope! (photo of a frankincense tree by Alexandre Baron)


In September I published a blog post about the blessing of good health.  It has become a personal health journal, of sorts, that I update periodically, mainly for my own records.

I’d like to draw public attention to my latest update because I think it has the potential to change (or possibly save?) lives.  It’s about my positive experiences with frankincense essential oil.

Please click on this link and scroll way down to the update from January 9, 2016.  The information may be valuable to you or someone you love.

If you have success stories involving essential oils or cancer remission, please share them in the comments below.  Thanks!