Tag Archives: appreciation

Stepping Back in Time

What a weekend! It was Tom’s 50th Class Reunion (twice delayed), which sent us heading to Scottsdale, AZ for Memorial Day Weekend. The class reunion was great and provided my hubby with the opportunity to connect with folks from his past, talk about high-school pranks, project cars and hobbies. We enjoyed much laughter and good connection with some of his former classmates. During the video presentations of senior pictures, I realized those students looked like the kids I graduated from high school with 50 years ago. They sure looked young! My guess is they were like the kids I graduated with. They thought they knew much about life, Didn’t we all experience a surprise?

Though the reunion was fun, our accommodations were the highlight of the weekend. We stayed in the house where Tom grew up. A home built in the early 50s, designed by a renowned architect and built by Del Web as one of his first homes before he became famous for building communities. This house was a one of a kind in a unique neighborhood developed by invitation of the owners of Ride ‘n Rock Ranch. This house was the initial build within the area and identified as the Ranch Guest House. The owner never stayed in the home, but used it as a perk for his executives and for tax benefits. A breezeway separated the bedrooms from the main structure, with each bedroom having its own entrance and a private bathroom. Tom’s parents were the second owners of the structure. During their tenure there, they enclosed the breezeway, which resulted in the first bedroom being connected to the main part of the house.

There’s a one lane road leading to the home, which is set back with plantings and trees lining the walkway to the entry. I felt like I was entering an enchanted zone.

The current owners are passionate about the history of the home and understanding changes performed on the property. They have amassed a huge history on the house and the neighborhood.

Tom has told me many stories of the place and his growing up experiences. I have to admit, I struggled to understand the layout or the neighborhood. His stories came to life for me. It felt like I stepped back in time.

Week Four…

… was another week of connecting with folks. Scripture is replete with imagery of believers being a family. The last week has born witness to this truth many times. We stand in awe of our God. It is amazing how large and diverse God’s family is, and equally amazing how easily family members connect, breaking down cultural and geographic boundaries. We have been blessed as we’ve worshipped, dined, and chatted with friends around the county and beyond this week.

We spent Sunday with Tralee Baptist Church. We were blessed to witness how this community of believers has bonded together with genuine compassion and care for one-another. The church has a large outreach to the local technical college, with about 1/3 of their congregation coming from the college. This fellowship group meets in a historic site, which was cold when we arrived. The room was not heated yet. The caring for one another filled the room with warmth. 

Each week, we connect with the Tuesday Fellowship. They are continuing a study on the power of praying for healings.

We enjoyed lunch with a pastor and his wife (Michael and Ninfa), sharing stories of how God is working in each of our lives. Then we drove to Galway to meet up with a young couple who we met in 2016. They have been missionaries in the Galway area for 10 years. (Chris and Larena) Their heart burns with a passion for the Irish, particularly in Galway, which they now call home. They are stepping into a new adventure as they prepare to plant a new fellowship in downtown Galway. They planned for us to stay with friends of their’s, also in the ministry. (Sean and Julia) They are close to our age. It was a pleasure and blessing to hear their story, to learn how they became pastors, to witness their hearts for the Lord and the Irish. Then they shared more about the country’s faith history and struggles. How I would like to bring them to the United States to help others understand why we answered God’s call to work in Ireland! Being Irish, they have put words to many of the things we’ve simply felt within our spirits.

Friends in Galway doing God’s work

Our week was full of stories of how God is moving and working, stories of how each is reaching others, and stories of Irish history and culture. It was a powerful week and our hearts were overflowing.

The trip to Galway is a three and half hour drive where the countryside becomes less rugged, the hills more rolling, fields and homes larger and the sky sports blue more frequently. Unless it isn’t! We saw both sides of the weather. The trip home from Galway didn’t provide many photo opportunities. It stormed all day. We did stop by one of our favorite businesses though. A couple runs two operations side by side. She is a baker who specializes in gluten free and dairy free pastries sold in her café and coffee bar. He runs a bean to bar chocolate factory buying raw cacao from South America, roasting the beans and creating a luscious line of chocolate creations. Much of the drive was along the “Wild Atlantic Way,” and it was wild. Looking at the ocean, everything was grey except for the white caps of the waves. You couldn’t tell the difference between the sea and sky. Tom was a trooper doing all the driving. We took the ferry across the Shannon River, grateful to return to our little cottage and shut the weather out.

Time with the writers was rich. We spent an afternoon and then a meal with Judy, discussing possible family connections. We identified many similarities in our histories, but her history records don’t go back as far as ours. Still, we will look. What an afternoon of fun we had talking about Irish culture and telling “Flynn” stories. Laughter bounced off the walls until we drove to town for an early meal.

While in Galway, we also connected with Maire, the “Writer in Residence”, during most of Covid. What rich stories of history. She had many questions about what we do in Kerry. She was interested and encouraging. 

Writers Connecting

We’ve experienced several culinary treats which may creep into dishes we fix. First will be the search for recipes which seem to match what we ate. It is one way we carry Ireland home with us.

Week Two

…in Ireland

Jet-Lag has been difficult to shake this trip, but may finally be behind us. Yeah! Just as Jet-Lag may be behind, it appears many of the Irish COVID restrictions will also be behind us. You may ask, how does that affect us while we’re here?

No longer will we have to show vaccination proof to enter an eatery, or indoor facility. Seating at pubs and eating establishments will no longer be limited to a maximum of 6 per table. Establishments can return to their normal hours of operations, (pubs and restaurants were required to close by 8 pm) and the work from home orders have been lifted. Masks are still part of one’s attire. Travel restrictions in or out of the country remains unchanged at this time. 

Most of week two was under the old rules. We’ve been walking the neighborhood, the beach and several of the towns. Sunday, Living Rock church provided the opportunity for corporate worship and the chance to connect with a few folks we knew from previous travels and meet a new couple. A group of us went to the hotel next door for lunch, where we sat in the rear of the dining facility occupying four tables of four in close enough proximity to see one another, but not really converse between tables. Our drive home from Killarney afforded an opportunity to be at Inch Beach for sunset. This is one of our favorite walking beaches. You can literally drive out on the sand and park as close to the waves as you dare. What a treat!

Tuesday, we attended the house fellowship in Dingle, held at the location where we’re staying. It was the first “in person” meeting in some time, but most were familiar faces. It was good to connect with them again and participate in their study. The format has evolved, resulting more in a teaching than an interactive study. Everyone enjoyed the fellowship of being face to face with in person laughter. 

Wednesday was the local writers meeting in person at the Meadowlands Hotel in Tralee. We were seated in an alcove area of two tables and there eight in attendance. What a treat for Linda to connect in person. Some of this group is also part of the weekly Zoom group which meets on Thursday. Good food, good stories, good friendship. It was a fine afternoon. When Tom arrived, one of the ladies asked who he was. Another replied, “my cousin.” They then realized he was Tom. Much laughter ensued. This woman and I have spoken before. Due to similarities within the family stories, strongly suspect there may be a family link and hope to resolve this question during our time here this year. 

Friday, while out walking, we received a call stating there’d been a cancellation and if we could make it to Tralee Friday evening, we could attend a performance of “The Importance of Being Ernest.” Yes, we could meet the schedule. This was a high school performance, done well and entertaining. The show ended early enough for us to be able to just get into one of the restaurants we’ve enjoyed in the past. This rounded out the evening with good food, good memories and a great chat with the owner of the establishment. It’s a small family owned business, and he spoke of the challenges of COVID and some of the changes he has seen. His expectation is the impacts aren’t over yet even though the restrictions are being lifted. 

We are certainly living in uncharted, ever changing times. Isn’t it wonderful to know, God is NOT surprised by any of this and HE is still in control. 

Holiday Decorations 2021

This is the first year since leaving Wisconsin that we have a Christmas tree inside the house. Our Colorado years sported a dressed tree on the deck outside our dining area. Sturdy ornaments able to withstand the elements donned the tree. Many of the years, dustings of snow graced the branches and sometimes birds would land in the tree. All those years our fragile ornaments hid in boxes wrapped in tissue. It was a treat to open those boxes and see treasures stored away.

The decorating process unleashed memories from years back, memories of family events, memories of friends. The nativity set I grew up seeing at my grandparent’s house now lives at mine. Unwrapping each piece stirs memories from my childhood, when its home was a corner table in their living room. I treasure the story of how the set was acquired. First the stable with the holy family, then, as finances allowed, they added to the collection. The pieces don’t match, but they warm my heart as it’s part of my history. Several years back, my husband purchased a new stable for the set. It was our way of putting our own touch on this set.

Antique Nativity

The other set comes from hubby’s family and was purchased by his parents many years ago on a trip to Italy. The pieces all have exquisite facial features, all are in the same style. It is a simplistic piece that finds its home on an end-table each Christmas. I love both sets, and unwrapping them is our introduction to the holiday season.

Italian Nativity

Unpacked ornaments lay on the table, ready for the tree. Hubby picked up a piece and said, “Is there a history here? I see so many snowmen.”

I chuckle. “Yes. I have a friend who knew I liked snowmen and for many years, she gave me an ornament or two for my tree.”

I’m grateful he asked. It brought back so many pleasant holiday memories after my children were adults and I lived alone. Friends are so important in life.

He asked about other ornaments or decorations. Some were from my mom; some made by children; some purchased on travels; some, I don’t remember. Then we talked about some ornaments he brought.

I have many things my mother gave to me over the years. So much has changed since last year when we were absorbed with cleaning, unpacking and getting settled in our new home. There were no Christmas decorations. In retrospect, I recognize that may have been healthier for me. This year, I’m able to pick up a piece and enjoy the thought of my mom giving the ornament or decoration to me. Many of the items reflected her personality. The simple styles, or elegant lines, reflected who she was and how much care she gave in selecting gifts for others. Last year, I wasn’t ready to appreciate the memories associated with those items. 

Time is a healer.

Still learning…

Fall 2021

Almost a year of tending a rose garden

No prior experience

Gaging water and fertilizer needs

Spraying insects

Pruning for shape and plant health

Always guessing

Questioning decisions

You think you have learned

Then the seasons change 

So do the needs of the plants

Sigh!

Cooler temperatures arrived

Buds abound

First cutting this season

I know way more than last year

Yet know there is more to learn.

A Morning in My Life

…By Shamu

I uncurl from my sleep and stretch, allowing my front paws to touch your arm. You’re still sound asleep and I’m hungry. I knead on your arm, but you just roll away. That will never do. I stretch a few more times and jump to my feet and come up by your face. I butt my head against yours. With groggy eyes you glance at me and rub my ears. Still you don’t arise. I decide you must be told what to do, so I start to talk to you.

“Oh, Shamu, why do you insist on such early mornings? Okay. I’ll get up.”

You slowly grab your robe to head downstairs. I’m way ahead of you, talking all the way. You set out fresh food for me then fix your coffee. I pick at my food, then saunter around the kitchen looking out the patio door. I know you’ll never let me outside. How I would like to get out, but only if you’ll come with me. 

Waiting for you
…by Felicia Marie

I stretch out on the couch and watch you until you come and also sit on the couch. I roll over and approach to sit on your lap. You know I want to be close to you, but you never sit still for very long. 

Your daughter arrives, and I approach her. She will pick me up and cuddle with me. I purr and butt my head against her. She’s grand and I love her, but you are still my preference. 

In Charge
….by Felicia Marie

Some People Say…

…2020 was the lost year.

I disagree

2020 was the year… 

I became focused

I got serious about my writing

Enjoyed contact with writers from around the world

Was challenged and encouraged

To be bold

To let the words out

To trust my voice

Learned the peace of spending time with my thoughts

Found joy in simple pleasures

Around my house

With my husband

Enjoyed time to read

And then read some more

Cooked some amazing meals

Wrote, and wrote and wrote some more

Became comfortable with Zoom and its limitations

Met other creatives who were open about their struggles during this time

Up rooted myself

Moved

Settled in to find myself surrounded by unknown plants

Doors opened to new learning 

Writing continues

Meeting neighbors and others

Continue Zoom meetings with writers

Projects progressing…

2020 was the year that continues in 2021!

Amazing Agave or Dr. Seuss Tree

Crescendo

The blue agave is still reaching for the heavens.

Still Growing

Branches to hold some of the blossoms are forming.

Branching out

For some who’ve witnessed an agave bloom, you may wonder why I’m doing this.

My fascination with the new and different vegetation of this area is getting the better of me – and I’ve never seen anything like this before. So, I’m sharing…

Perspective…

Can you see the excitement building?