Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Portugal is not Spain

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

When on the Iberian Peninsula, never confuse one country for the other. Different language, different food, different wines…and driving styles.
Portuges sounds like French with some German guttural sounds; total gibberish but semi- readable with some Spanish knowledge. The average Portuguese prefer French before English as a second language.

They like a lot of fish, but also tripe!! And pork over beef.They are proud of their pastries and bread and red local wine,which is cheaper than cola.
Grapes, collards, kiwi, apples, and citrus grow in most yards and we also saw many a family cow kept in the garage. Dining doesn’t happen until 7:00 but 9:00 in the bigger cities. Partying goes til dawn and the work force takes their time getting to their job.

Portugese (male) drivers prefer the entire road and seem to make it a sport to scare pilgrim hikers into the ditch. Close calls are the norm and eyes at the back of your head are essential! And they prefer cobbles over asphalt on all roads but freeways.

Lots of special cities and villages that I’ve never heard are proud of their uniqueness and are immaculate as far as litter goes but don’t stand still long or you will be covered with graffiti; everywhere and nothing is sacred.
It’s been a lesson in culture but that’s what traveling is all about.

Being on the Board

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

SEEDS: Sending economic encouragement to the distressed. It’s about making a difference!

What a privilege to serve on a Board of Directors. ( I serve on two but this one has my heart at the moment) This group of special ladies created from scratch an organization that has given over $350,000 to deserving groups that seek to improve and encourage those very less fortunate than I. Without leaving home, I have had a part of bringing air conditioning and heat to a refugee center in Greece, Christ-centered curriculum to South American countries starting in Bolivia, and a safe haven for sex-trafficed girls right in my home town. 18 grants in all over the last 10 years; at home and all over the world.

Creating a giving circle was all it took! ( and a lot of love and hard work) We got our friends to join us in pooling their money so that we might make a bigger impact! Through the process of vetting worthy charities, we also became better friends, enlarged our hearts, and pitched in with our labors.
We thought that worthy of a celebration!

Focus on Colorado Springs

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

Focus On The Family Visitors CenterPart of us lives in Colorado. At least one month a year. Our volunteer work over the last 6 years has filled our lives with forever friends and given us a small bit of the good feeling that comes from helping a great cause.
I am about FAMiLY; as God meant it to be, and that needs all the encouragement possible as it is attacked on every level.
This year , July 2018,we worked hard on the Volunteer Appreciation Banquet at a beautiful ranch in the yet undeveloped part of Colorado Springs. Barbecue under the stars, Greg Smalley as speaker, square dancing, and a s’mores bar! We boot scooted our western garb (shopped for at thrift shops) and tied burlap and sunflowers to anything that wasn’t moving. Storms threatened but God provided a clear evening and a hand painted sunset as His seal of approval on the evening.
Hard work…good times!

Family time is a Holiday anytime of Year

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018

Now that we are spread apart by an ocean, being together as a family has to be the Easter,Thanksgiving,Christmas, birthdays all rolled into one that we would miss because of distance. So it has to have food, decorations, games, and maybe even costumes! Oh and lots of photos because everyone is growing: Up, Older,(Wider?) and we want to preserve that moment to look back on and remind the youngest ones that they are part of a loving family…warts and all!

Reflections now that I’m back.

Tuesday, October 25th, 2016

Many pilgrims talk about how their lives radically changed after completing the Camino. Some devote themselves to charitable endeavors, or a more spiritual lifestyle,or planning their very next camino, and even giving a lot of their earthly possessions away. I agree that life should be simpler, but we’re good with making it a solitary endeavor. We know that life gets hectic, but we do make time for our christian walk and we we are passionate about the charities we invest our time and money in. So has the Camino changed us?
A shower after a long,arduous hike will never feel as good as a shower at home, nor will a plate of pasta and a bottle of wine ever taste quite as satisfying. I’m not as likely to plop down at a table of strangers and start up a conversation or reveal my inner most thoughts with people i’ve just met. The frailty of life was never more apparent but neither was the beauty of it either. The world could have it’s tragedies and scandals but my focus was on making it over the next hill and praising God for His creation.
I found a quote that I think sums it all up.
“The journey home is never a direct route; it is in fact, always circuitous, and somewhere along the way, we discover that the journey is more significant than the destination, and that the people we meet along the way will be the traveling companions of our memories forever.”(N. DeMille form his book “Up Country.”
Yep, that’s a wrap for this time. Thanks to those who came along for the adventure of a lifetime!img_2620

Lincoln Cottage

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

During Lincoln’s presidency, the White House was one big Open House for anyone who wanted to have his ear. There was no peace and certainly no place to think about all that swirled around the chief executive during the Civil War years. So Lincoln did not live in the White House most of the time! Three miles away from the craziness of the city is the “Lincoln Cottage.” (the word cottage in those days IMG_0121referred to a second home, not the size of the dwelling ) Here, Mary and Abraham took solace from the turmoil of the city as well as mourned the death of their dear son, Willie. Every morning Abe got up and rode 3 miles on horseback into the city to conduct business and then back again to the Cottage. It is a beautiful building with lovely grounds that support a veterans home  to this day as well. There is tranquility here and intimacy. It is grand and special in a comforting way. The Lincoln Cottage is another unknown jewel in our Capital and worth the search.

The FIRST Lincoln Memorial

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

April 14th 2015, marked the 150th anniversary of the killing of Lincoln. I was blessed to be in D.C. and see the cherry blossoms, azaleas, and dogwoods and learn more about this great man.
In a neighborhood park on Capital Hill there is a statue of Lincoln with an unfettered slave at his feet. This statue was commissioned immediately after his death and solely funded with freed slave IMG_0108donations. The very first donor was Charlotte Scott, who used the first $5 she earned as a free woman to kick off the fund raising. This first heart-felt memorial was in place ten years after Lincoln’s death but the larger Lincoln Memorial took until 1922 to be in place. There are two copies of this early memorial; one in Boston(1875) and the other in Edinburg, Scotland(1893) There are so many wonderful things to learn on walks through our nation’s capital.

The Madonna

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

A friar from the Church of St. Stephen visited Florence and talked his buddy , Michaelangelo ,into sculpting him something for his church. And he did! The ONLY example of Michaelangelo’s work outside of Italy is in Brugge, Belgium. And this beautiful Madonna and Child (naked Jesus as a toddler) is a center character in the movie “Monuments Men.” The movie is awesome and very true to the book . The work of these dedicated fellas is accurately told and very moving. The Madonna was located in a salt mine in Austria after the Germans kidnapped her and even killed a monuments man in the taking. She has only left her perch in the cathedral twice; once Napoleon stole her (but was returned) and then Hitler wanted her. It was very moving for me to seek her out and gaze at her beauty while spending a rainy day in Brugge. She has quite a history.

A real 'movie star' !

A real ‘movie star’ !

Advent Anticipation

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

DSC03226Where the United States starts selling Christmas the middle of October and our special holidays have started running into ‘happythanksmas’, here in Europe (or at least in Austria and Germany) no bulb is lit before it’s time.

Advent is the big build up to Christmas, St. Stephens Day, and 12th Night.

I find it exciting that windows are draped to prevent their seasonal decor from being viewed. Crews are hanging huge light displays across pedestrian malls and city streets but NOT turning them on.

There is a build up that is generating enthusiasm as the stalls for the Christmas markets are being built and decorated. Add to that the crisp air, the fragrances of mulled spices, music everywhere,  and drums of fire roasting chestnuts that are already in place and you have a recipe for a Merry Christmas!

TP Trees

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

In  the region around Lucca, there are all sorts of groves of birch-like trees planted in any little spare plot of land available.

They don’t have many leaves or branches but they are THE source for Toilet Paper in Italy! Hmmm, guess I’m glad they’re around.