Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Beginnings: Just getting you "caught-up"

Beginnings: Just getting you "caught-up": I've been asked why I haven't posted to this blog recently. The honest answer is that I just haven't. Life in our little corn...

Just getting you "caught-up"

I've been asked why I haven't posted to this blog recently. The honest answer is that I just haven't. Life in our little corner of the world has been interesting, crazy, full, busy...well you get the idea. From July through Christmas, I often felt like I was in the front car of a roller coaster, speeding out of control while my hair was on fire, (picture that, why don'tcha). Honestly, I love the chaotic pace. It keeps me on my toes and prevents boredom.

Let me give you the "Reader's Digest" version of our lives since July.
We welcomed two new grand's. Haime's grandson is a proud papa of Haime's first great-grand. She is a beautiful little girl. Unfortunately, she and her family live about 1500 miles east of us. About a week later, we welcomed another beautiful little girl, my granddaughter. Our hearts are bursting! Then, after spending every weekend, (literally), and most week days, hunting, buying, refurbishing and building items for our annual church festival, (thanks Candee and Bob for helping nearly every step along the way), we auctioned off our treasures and waved goodbye to that business at the end of September.

October consisted of travel and  weddings. First mom and I took a cruise to two ports in Canada then to Maine and Rhode Island. I'm so glad that she is back to her old self and is able to be my "travel buddy again." Haime and I  literally had three weddings on three consecutive weekends. One
of those weekends was Reece and Chelsea's wedding. We all had a job to do and I think we did them well.

Haime and I travelled to Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. We visited his daughter and her husband in their beautiful home which is a repurposed barn; did a bit of touring and attended his grandson's renewal of wedding vows ceremony. The countryside was breathtaking, the ceremony beautiful and it was great to get away for a little R & R. By then it was time to ready our home for the holidays, and host friends for a Thanksgiving dinner.


Mom and I travelled to Arkansas to watch my nephew walk the stage as he graduated from the University in Fayetteville. To say he was excited would be a GROSS understatement. We are all very proud of him. We returned just in time to celebrate Christmas with mom's siblings and their families as we do every year. The turnout was smaller than we would have liked but those of us that braved the crazy cold weather had a great time.

Of course Christmas followed. It was fabulous. We celebrated with family and friends so the love was tangible.

A funny thing happened after New Years...I awoke to NO PLANS! That is to say, no one was making demands of my time. I had no deadlines for project completion. No projects that I'd started and needed to finish...NOTHING! It was wonderful...for a day. Then I found myself in a funk. I was bored. I had crashed from months of  non-stop activity and I was not handling it well. So after a couple of days of starting clear closets and drawers, I found a new project...

I found that I had way to many leftover fabric pieces from previous projects this year. I decided that I was not going to be a "crazy fabric hoarder lady," (I come from a line of such people so I recognized the beginnings of the ailment). I decided to put those leftovers to use and pieced them together in a quilt top. Then, in the spirit of "using what I have," I cut apart several pairs of old sweat pants and shirts, sewed them to each other and used them for the "batting." The backing of the quilt is an old sheet. It is possibly the worst quilting job I've ever done because the thing is "HEAVY" and I used my $99 machine that I purchased at Wal~mart several years ago. The top looks pretty good and it is WARM! I won't share with you the nickname I gave this little endeavor, suffice it to say that it reflects the crazy number of hours required to finish it.

In the end, it did the job. My funk is passed and I'm ready to hit the ground running. I've started walking again, though I will not be going back to Spain this year. In fact, this is going to be a year of "stay-cations." I've challenged myself to rebuild my travel budget and see how much money I can save simply by reusing, repurposing, reinventing and reducing. So, the yard and gardens will probably look better than they have in years and I plan to tackle some more of the projects that I've saved on Pinterest and I'm boarding the "diet wagon" again (probably should be called the yo-yo wagon).

So, if you have a project with which you need help, or ideas for fun adventures for a stay-cationer...give me a shout.

Happy new year everyone.

Love and Hugs
TTFN
Lois





Sunday, July 24, 2016

Beginnings: We Made IT...Never a Doubt

Beginnings: We Made IT...Never a Doubt: The night before we were to walk into Santiago de Compostella, we stayed at this former manor house. It came complete with it's ...

We Made IT...Never a Doubt


The night before we were to walk into Santiago de Compostella, we stayed at this former manor house. It came complete with it's own chapel, (pretty impressive). The house and grounds definitely spoke to ages past but it was extremely welcoming, comfortable and a great "last night" inn. The courtyard and gardens begged to be strolled and enjoyed. Unfortunately, time did not permit the exploration that they deserved.                                                    
We awakened on that morning of the final day of our walk and to a person, we were anxious, exhilarated, thankful, and all agreed with the adage of strangers becoming friends via shared space, time and experiences.

                          and then, we were off...For those of you who know me personally, you know that I live very close to San Marcos, Texas. So, when I saw the sign on the right above, I had to memorialize it.

 

 As we entered the outskirts of Santiago, we were welcomed by beautiful arches, sculptures and beautiful frescos. I was wearing my "Texas Aggie" windbreaker again during this final days walk. When I arrived at the first park, a young woman came running up to me and introduced herself saying how wonderful it was for her to see someone from "Aggieland." She explained that she grew up in College Station and that her parents still live there. (The Camino is rich in its ability to bring strangers together.) Gotta love that Aggie Spirit!!


 The city of Santiago is pretty large. There is a university there and, much to our dismay, at times, there are fewer Camino markers therein. The one below, the small shell in the stone, is a typical marker in Santiago. Obviously Santiago is a very old city. There are small, narrow winding city streets that are inviting to explore. I found the quilt covered bench particularly welcoming. It was done in honor of the Perigrinos along the Way.

As we got closer to the cathedral square, we passed through a stone arch and were welcomed by the sounds of a bagpiper and a soloist...what a way to enter the square!

 And then...we were there!

The Cathedral is undergoing some much needed renovation and repair, as evidenced by the scaffolding and tarpping around one part of the exterior. We were so excited! If you look closely at the pic on the right, (those are my very dear friends, Dick and Laura, they and their children are part of my extended family...you know, that one that you choose for yourself). You'll see that we are wearing matching caps. They were gifts from my friend Candee, (another of my chosen family members). The red crosses are made from microbeads that she wove on a loom then attached to the caps. Similarly, she gave each of us a "Cross of St. James" that she decorated with wire-wrapped beads. Dick brought his along with him and carried it along the Camino with him...very special. This pic is taken immediately outside the door to the cathedral...we are obviously very excited!


 

Sadly, I have no words to adequately describe the incredibly beauty of the cathedral, nor to accurately convey the emotion of being there. As we found seats and awaited the mass to begin, we were cognizant of the myriad of languages being spoken around us. It simply added so much to the experience.
The video to the left was taken at the end of the mass. In it, you'll see the very large Botafumeiro which is a famous thurible used in the cathedral Santiago de Compostela.  I took the video from the main perspective of facing the altar. It swings across the altar above the transept and almost touches the ceiling...AMAZING!!!

                                     

If you look closely                                            The middle pic above marks the entrance to the
at the picture of the                                           sepulcher where the remains of St. James are 
altar. You'll notice a                                          held...pretty incredible.
statue of St. James
directly above the altar.
This is the statue from
behind. People
are encouraged to hug the
statue and offer a prayer.

Well, that was almost the end of our incredible journey. We decided to finish our journey the next day with a tour to Finnisterre, (literally, the end of the world). So, I'll have one more post about our amazing trip...stay tuned.

TTFN

Lois





Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly...

Carol Wheeler and Soul II Soul wrote the perfect song to describe my world for the past couple of weeks since I've returned from my Camino. You might remember it:

Back to life, back to reality,
back to life, back to reality,
back to life, back to reality,
back to the here and now yeah
Show me how, decide what you want from me,
tell me maybe I could be there for you.

So, I've been remiss in posting these thoughts and pics of my Camino. I apologize. Anyway, I decided to simply post some pics of our trip. The descriptions of the pics will be above each. I hope they accurately convey the beauty of the people and places that we experienced.

Fortunately, we found several examples of these coffee shop/cafes along our walk.  Without exception, the staff was so incredibly friendly and helpful, they added something incredibly special to our experience.
It was quite obvious that we were in farm country. We saw chickens, a horse (who was very pleased that Cheryl fed him some of the fresh green grass that grew on our side of the fence), cows, pigs (well, one morning, we came across a pig that met his demise and would soon become bacon, ham, pork chops...you get the drift). Oh, yes, farm life was in full swing.

 The country side, as I've said in earlier posts was simply majestic!

 We visited every open church that we came across. Some were simple, country churches and others were more ornate. I was struck by their beauty and the obvious love of God that was present in each. They offered rest, sanctuary, and the opportunity to just sit and have a chat with Our Father. What could be better than that?


Now, this was an example of readiness! Quite the stack of fire wood, right?

Getting closer...


There were several of these "tanks/concrete ponds" etc. This one would be very tempting for a "dip" on a hot summer day...well, if the water hadn't been "gross-green."
More cows being shepherded


These are grain storage structures, designed to keeps rats out...We saw them all over Galicia.


Did I mention that it rained? For the 3-5th days of our walk, we were perpetually getting misted/sprinkled/drizzled/rained on.  None of us really minded, except when we reached a part of the way that was nearly completely underwater.





We saw several examples of "memorials" along the way. Many are stacked stones, much like the ones in this pic. They always left me wondering about the people who left them as well as the reasons for the placement of them.


 One of the advantages of the rain in this are is the resulting greenery, as seen in the ferns along this wall.
The town on the hill was moved to that location from the bottom of the hill when the river shown was dug out and enlarged. The river is beautiful. It would be interesting to scuba down to see what remains of the original town.



 Town plaza

 My hiking buddy
 Many of the towns that we traveled through, had statues and/or markers like this one. They added to our experience.
 I think one of the best parts of the trail were the many small waterfalls that formed by natural springs and small creeks. They were soothing, especially on some of our longer hikes.

 And then there was the wildlife that we encountered...Now that's a slug!
 
Its hard to see on this pic but this earthworm was blue and pink...I think it was one of those species that can become either male or female, depending on the need...wink wink.


I'd really like to claim the empty beer bottles were ours, an ice cold beer would have tasted might good about the time we passed this cantina. Unfortunately, we were only a few kilometers from our lunch rendezvous and hunger was definitely a driving force!


My next post will be about our walk into Santiago and the mass at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella...trip of a lifetime! Please join me.

TTFN
Lois