The images I share here come from my heart. They are not to be reproduced without my express written permission.

Gumbys on the mound


Even if you don't like baseball, you have to acknowledge that pitchers are supremely flexible!

 







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Feeding time at the NCSue Zoo


It's party time! 
This is blog post # 500! 
Thanks to all of you who have visited, followed, commented, and shared your photos here. 
I'm truly grateful!

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 Two cats, two different approaches to requesting food.

First, Tommy's approach:


Forrest has a more laid-back method:





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So glad we got to Gogh!


We went to Immersive Van Gogh recently and I highly recommend it.




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Happy 50th Anniversary, my love!

 

You've been gone from earth for 147 days. You remain in my heart.

Happy Anniversary!


 If you came for this week's linky, check the next post. But for those of you who are grieving, here are some of the things I've learned in the past 147 days:

·        After the death of a loved one, emotions can be all over the place – from sorrow to rage to numbness and everywhere in between. Allow yourself to feel the feelings.

·        In the days immediately following your loss, avoid looking too far ahead. There are plenty of tasks to take care of just to get through the first few weeks. Trying to figure out the future can be overwhelming. The fact is, we can only live one day at a time.

·        “Widow brain” or “widow fog” is real. After a devastating loss, it is common to find oneself forgetting even the simplest things. Carry a small notebook and pen with you to jot things down or use an app on your phone as a memory aid until the fog clears. It gets better.

·        Create a list of things you need help with. People often want to help but not know what you need.

·        Things may seem overwhelming. Keeping a to-do list – and crossing off tasks as they’re completed – can help you stay organized. And crossing things off the list can give you a sense of accomplishment.

·        Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Stay hydrated, try to eat healthy, get some fresh air, and keep your routine medical and dental appointments.

·        Avoid making major changes for a year after your loss if at all possible.

·        Consider journaling. It can help you clarify your thoughts.

·        Don’t narrow your focus solely to what you’ve lost. Remember also what you had together, and what you still have to be grateful for. Start a gratitude list; write down 3 things (big or small) that you have to be thankful for each day.

·        Often people who haven’t experienced grief are unable to understand, but find someone you can talk to honestly.

·        Many people find that participating in a grief support group or speaking to a counselor or spiritual advisor is extremely helpful.

·        Be patient with yourself in early grief, but if the rollercoaster persists or you get “stuck” in an emotion, consider seeking help.

·        There is no way around grief; the only way out of grief is to go through it.

·        Do things when you’re ready, and trust yourself to know when the time is right.

·        We all grieve differently. There is no perfect path to healing from loss.

·        At some point, you will smile or laugh or have an enjoyable experience. Don’t apologize for having a good moment, or even a good day. This is something to celebrate.

·        Even after you are on the road to recovery, you will most likely experience “ambushes” or “flashbacks”, when something – a song, a memory, an anniversary - triggers a wave of emotion. Ride it out. They get less overwhelming and less frequent with time.

·        If you anticipate that a birthday, anniversary, or holiday may be challenging, make a plan. This may be a great time to get together with friends, do something creative, head to your “happy place”, take a class, or volunteer for something that has special meaning to you or your loved one.

·        One of the best ways to brighten your day is to do something kind for others. Walk across the street and visit the lonely old lady who lives there. Compliment the harried cashier at the grocery store. Make a batch of cookies and take them to the police department. Offer to cuddle a young mother’s baby for an hour so she can take a nap or go for a walk.

·        As time goes by, you may find that some of the things you did together aren’t as much fun without your loved one. You may even find new interests.

·        Grieve what you've lost, but allow yourself to move forward when the time is appropriate. We only get one life. It's ok to eventually be happy again.

·        It is impossible to honor the life of a loved one by refusing to live.

Gogh if you can!

 

I had a marvelous time at Immersive Van Gogh. A marvelous experience!







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Yowzah


I was recently reminded of this event from several years ago. We returned from dinner with friends and parked our trusty old Buick, which had well over 100,000 miles on it. Once inside while puttering in the kitchen, I heard an odd sound from outside and looked out to see a quite unwelcome sight. Fortunately the fire department arrived quickly.
As you can see, the car was close to my husband's truck and our house.
The house was undamaged. The plastic around the headlights on the truck was a bit melted.
Although the fire burned through the asphalt driveway and the car was a total loss, we felt fortunate!


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Try some yummy pretzel rolls!

These are great for sandwiches or just for munching!

 Pretzel Rolls

Yield: Makes 15 rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 10 cups water
  • 2/3 cup baking soda
  • Pretzel Salt (or coarse sea salt), for sprinkling

Directions:

  1. Combine the water, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.
  2. Add the flour, salt, and butter. Mix with the dough hook on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  3. Separate the dough into 15 equal pieces. Form the dough into rolls and arrange on a lightly floured surface about an inch apart and cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap. Let the rolls rest for 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425° and lightly oil a baking sheet.
  4. In a large stockpot, bring the cold water to a rolling boil and add the baking soda. Drop two rolls into the boiling water and boil for 30 seconds, turning once. Carefully remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the prepared baking sheet, being careful to let the excess water drain off into the pot. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Repeat with the remaining rolls.
  5. Bake the rolls for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Let rolls cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack. Serve warm, or at room temperature.


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The concert

 I had the opportunity to attend a concert given by the son of a friend of mine. I didn't know what to expect, really, but what I heard was rather magical. The pianist's name is Phil Cook, and his album is now available here. I've found it to be just the balm I need in this midst of all the craziness of this world. It is titled, "All These Years". 







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Ukranian Church: National Shrine of the Holy Family


While in Washington DC on retreat just before Holy Week, I finally took the opportunity to walk over to the beautiful church beside the retreat center. I'd noticed it for years and had wanted to visit as I was curious to see the interior. The retreat staff mentioned that it was a Ukranian Catholic Church, and in light of the devastating news from Ukraine recently, I had to go. While visitors were welcome to come in to see the church and to pray, there was no one present to answer some of the questions I had about the interior of the church. But I wanted to share this beautiful church with you and ask you to pray for the brave people of Ukraine and for peace in our troubled world.






I can only guess that the multicolored origami figures represented the souls of those who have perished.


Pussy willows were to be used rather than palms as part of the Palm Sunday liturgy.

For the first time in the years I'd been near this church, the chimes never rang. I'm sure they will peal joyfully when this war is over. Pray for an end to the violence.

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