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Links to Joy: Mothers and Grandmothers

Family relationships take many forms, ranging from fabulous fulfillment to frightening failure.  Today I want to focus on the brighter side of this spectrum.

A special bond I’ve shared throughout my life is the multi-generational “girl power” shared between grandmother, mother, and grandchild.  I remember loving the time spent with my mom & grandmother as a child, whether we were shopping at Yellow Front or Alco (remember those old stores?), taking camping trips on motorcycles to places like Yellowstone National Park, or turning up the radio to sing and dance in the living room.  Even while typing this post, I sit here smiling as I recall those special times spent with my loved-ones.

My grandmother is no longer living, but, thankfully, this triple bond has filtered down a generation to include my daughter.  She is blessed to be near both of her grandmothers and has enjoyed many memorable experiences and traditions with them.

My daughter can fondly recall many days with her grandmothers that involved taking walks, playing games, camping, afternoon shopping trips, picnics, and many other fun times.  She honored me a few days ago by saying she hoped to raise her future children similar to the way we are raising her and hoped that her children will have as great of a childhood as she’s had.  How many teenagers are that grateful and think in such terms?  (Wow, I’m so blessed!)

This month is an exciting time for our family trio — it’s time to go on our third annual Girl Trip to Hot Springs, AR!  Don’t get me wrong, we love the men in our family!  But there’s a unique joy in having a girls’ day out to laugh and play and do all those girly things we girls do.  ha ha  This year we are bringing one of my daughter’s best friends with us, and I have a nice surprise in store for them all (I’d mention it here, but I don’t want anyone to find out prematurely).

The three of us have become photo bugs this year and are looking forward to honing our photography skills while capturing images of beautiful outdoor spaces and interesting architecture.  Hopefully, I will soon have a heart full of new happy memories and a camera full of impressive (ha ha) photos to share with you…

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Do you have special activities or traditions with your friends or family that you’d like to share?  I would enjoy hearing your stories!

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Photography 101: Landscapes

Day 15:  A beautiful landscape is the focus of today’s assignment, with an added tip about cropping photos to get the best effect.  No problem!  Even before I was very interested in photography, landscapes are what have attracted my camera lens my entire life.  Since today is dreary, rainy, and cold, I think I’ll search back through old photos and see what I can crop into something appealing.

~~~~~later in the day~~~~~

Well, I quickly realized something that will make me eat my words at the beginning of this post…All the great landscape photos I had in mind are either pre-digital age or I erased them years ago to save room on an old computer we had that went berserk and crashed.  So…

Here’s all I came up with:

view from the hill above Hot Springs, Arkansas

This photo is from a vacation we took in Arkansas last year. It was taken from a picturesque walking path above historic downtown Hot Springs.

Not an impressive photo, I know, but I did have fun reliving memories this morning as I scrolled through old photos on my computer.  While this may be one of my worst Photography 101 posts for you as the viewer, it was still quite enjoyable for me; so please indulge me this pitiful photography post.

During my search, I found old family photos I had forgotten about that were taken off my parents’ 35 mm slide projector.  I used them to update an earlier post about my grandmother’s handmade quilt.  I hope, if you have time, you’ll take a peek at it.  Feel free to comment and share your fond memories, too.

Technology and time march ever forward, but fond memories linger, still and constant, in that special warm place inside the heart…

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Links to Joy: Handmade Quilts

Here’s what’s making me smile today:  warm, cozy quilts! Right now I am curled under a couple of them which were made by my wonderful grandmothers.  Looking at the patterns on these quilts, running my hand over the different fabrics, I can remember the fun times I spent as a child with my grandparents.

The quilt I’m looking at while I type this post was a surprise gift from my father’s mother. She had given it to my mother years before I was married, saying, “Save this and give this to her when she gets married because I know I won’t be around by then.” She was right.

My grandmother gave me this red, white, and blue quilt as a wedding present.

It was a bittersweet moment when my mother presented this quilt to me, but it is dear to me and is treated with special care.  When I look at this quilt in particular, I remember spending the night with my grandparents at their house in the “holler.” (Let me translate that for all the “city folks”:  They basically lived in a small, deep valley.  Driving a car down their driveway felt like trying to follow a mountain goat trail without falling off the cliff!)

Their home was a wondrous playland to me as a child, since I am so fond of nature and the outdoors.  A frigidly-cold spring flowed out of the rocky hill on one side of their yard, which formed a small pool and then cascaded across their yard like a tiny, gurgling stream.  My cousins and I would grab an old plastic margarine tub with a lid and walk down the road to the creek to catch crawdads (a.k.a. crayfish, crawfish, mudbugs, freshwater lobsters).  Triumphantly, we would bring back the bowlful of critters and deposit them into the tiny spring pool to watch them grow and multiply in their new home.  The babies were hardly bigger than large grains of sand when they hatched!

Special memories with my grandmother include using homemade cane poles to fish for perch and catfish in their pond and watching her spread piles of flour and milk right onto the kitchen counter–never measuring any ingredients–as she made some of the best biscuits in the world.  (Thankfully, my father picked up her biscuit-making skills and helped me create a recipe that closely-approximates her huge, fluffy treats.  Hooray!)

three fresh, delicious strawberries

My all-time favorite thing to do at their house was to hop the mini spring “creek” and walk to the sandy strawberry patch in their garden.  Grandpa was a hard-working man who would faithfully stand in the blazing sun to hoe and pull every weed in that strawberry patch, not even bothering to stop and wipe the sweat that dripped from his forehead.  Grandma and I would pick buckets of berries, some of which actually made it back to the kitchen, rather than into my stomach.  The berry patch was nearly three feet wide and, from my child’s-eye point of view, about a quarter mile long!  (My parents say it was actually about 250 feet in length.)

I don’t have time to elaborate upon all the other adventures I enjoyed at my grandparents’ house (nor would you wish to read through it all, I’m sure.  I’m impressed that you made it this far without falling asleep!  Lol).  Today this warm, cozy quilt stirred up warm, fuzzy memories, and I just wanted to share a few with you.

Do you have special memories of family and friends that warm your heart and moisten your eyes?  Cherish those precious memories whenever you have the chance!

Feel free to share some memories in the comments below, if you’d like.  I’d love you hear your stories!

If you don’t wish to share a memory, but you would be willing to share something you are thankful for or something that just makes you smile, please encourage others by adding your comments on the page called “Reasons to Smile.”  Thanks!

~~~~~UPDATE: 3/20/15~~~~~

Oh, wow!  Look what I found while working on an assignment for the WordPress Photography 101 class:  a photo of my grandparents’ garden!

my grandparents' large garden, photographed from an old 35 mm slideshow

Does anyone remember the old 35 mm slide projectors like this one?

35 mm slide projector and slides

photo from Legal

My parents had many photos on these old slides.  In 2008, *CLICK-CLACK* my family gathered around in my parents’ living room *CLICK-CLACK* with a screen on a tripod and the old slide projector on the kitchen table *CLICK-CLACK* and walked down memory lane together *CLICK-CLACK* as I took photos with a camera to try to preserve some of the old images *CLICK-CLACK* because the slides were beginning to degrade. (Remember the constant clicking noises?  the flash of light and dark?  the occasional voice saying “Oh, wait, I’ve got that one in upside-down!”)

Aaahhh…memories…

my grandparents' large garden, with areas labeled