one hour

While I’ve been in Arizona, I’ve gotten up each morning to see the sunrise. Before I go to bed I check to see what time the sun will rise the next morning. I set an alarm so as not to miss. I’m blown away by the sun rises and sun sets here in Arizona.

Today I roused my reluctant sister to “rise and shine”, because the sun surely intended to do so.

We drove off at 6:45am, just enough time to get to our viewing destination and watch for the beauty to come.

For the next half-hour I stood outside the car and watched with awe and glee.

Good morning God,
This is your day,
I am your child
Please show me your way.
Amen!

Next stop – Starbucks.

Pajama day at Starbucks

Waiting for my order, I struck up a conversation with a young woman who was wearing an E R jacket, and scrubs with her name followed by RN, BSN. Since I have a granddaughter who is also an E R nurse with those same initials, I struck up a conversation with her. She told me to honor my granddaughter as the work she does is hard, tough. I assured her I do!

We drifted apart as we waited for our orders. I grabbed a gift card and loaded it. I walked over to her and told her how I manage Starbucks cards for my four grandkids, especially “my” nurse. I handed the just-loaded card to her.

With smiles and hugs, we gathered our drinks and went on our way.

7:45. ONE hour. Awe and joy.

“Two things fill the mind with ever-increasing wonder and awe, the more often and the more intensely the mind of thought is drawn to them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.”
~Immanuel Kant,

family

I am surrounded in this place by my Arizona family. I’m blessed that so many family members live here, and even more importantly, want to be with me when I’m in town.

I have a home with my sister while I’m here. She’s willing to get up early to drive me to the Sunrise,…

even when chased by a street cleaner while I have wondered off, astounded by the view.

Two days ago we drove south to Tucson where my brother and his family live. The two of us always choose the “back way”. No interstate, just two lanes, and views!

We hung out at all afternoon with my brother and sister-in-law in their beautiful place at the base of the Catalina mountains, gazing skyward toward the light show.

Sun Dog, parhelion

On the way to dinner we had quite a sky show.

Dinner for 10!

El Minuto Cafe

My sister and I stayed nearby and my early morning walk rewarded me with an Arizona sky to begin the day.

Tucson at dawn

After breakfast my sister and I headed back north. We had the luxury of time to wander. Time to repeatedly stop for a short walk, or to just gaze while inhaling the perfect crispness of desert air in November.

“before”
“after”

My Phoenix nephew and his wife joined us for dinner upon our return. After dinner, “…day was done, gone the sun”.

Today, even more family. A favorite cousin and some of her kids and grandkids live here, so five of us gathered for a lunch of tacos and conversation. It was so joyous to reunite, and it may be that I’ll start coming more often for the conversations like we enjoyed over lunch.

Another sunset view to close this delightfully delicious day.

“We grow accustomed to the Dark –
When light is put away –“. Emily Dickinson, We grow accustomed to the Dark

Ditat Deus – God enriches

Arizona’s state motto is “Ditat Deus” (Latin for “God Enriches”). I have seen the enriches of the sights and senses of Arizona when I have traveled to this God “decorated” place.

I’ve loved Arizona since I was a kid. Traveling often with my family, Arizona was always on the way somewhere.

While I’ll be staying most of the time with my sister, we will take a back-road drive south to Tucson to see our brother and his family for a couple of days.

Driving – I should say, riding – to Atlanta’s airport had its own enriches to savor early this morning.

In turn, God ‘enriches” them for every sort of generosity.’ —Proverbs 3:9

Traveling mercies

cherish

I’m home from my recent travel to Texas. Visits with my sons in the past ten days have brought the feeling of cherish to light in my heart. Being in their presence reminded me that I don’t just love them, I cherish them.

Cherish.

Of course I cherish many more than my two sons. They were just the conduit for my heart to open wide enough to recognize cherish.

I’ve been thinking about cherish now that it popped into my heart and reminded me of the feeling. I know in my heart that cherish is a special love and care for someone. I just haven’t known it out loud.

Cherish is also to care for tenderly. And oh how I do so for my “formerly wild” kitty, Glory.

I looked to scripture today to see if I might glean something deeper about cherish.

“Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands”. Isaiah 49:16. Oh, isn’t that lovely? How could one not feel cherished?

In Jeremiah we hear, “The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying,
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness.” Loving kindness. Cherish.

So what to make of this afternoon’s contemplation?

I’ve certainly deepened my sense of being cherished by God.

And, too, I want – and intend – to develop the habit of telling those whom I cherish, I cherish YOU.

i’m on a roll

I’m traveling once again.

This past weekend one of my sons came for a visit. Today I’m going to visit my other son. I’ll have seen both of my sons within just days of each other. Lots of joy for me.

Looks like a good day to take a seat in my chair in the sky.

“I’m travellin’ light…”

Just now in my head I heard Brandi Carlile singing “I’m travellin’ light”, a Dirks Bentley song. Today I am travellin’ light, ready to soar once again.

A small send off from “my club”.
Adding some zip in my oldering body for navigating ATL

Come along!

Traveling mercies.

off campus activity

After my visit with my granddaughter, I went on a road trip with my best friend. We journeyed to Bastrop, Texas, a small town surrounded by The Lost Pine Forest. If I understand it correctly, the Loblolly Pines around Bastrop were once a part of a much larger community of loblolly pines. The lost pines were separated during a possible geological event, such as a moving glacier, from their East Texas cousins about 80 miles to the east.

I’m not actually certain we saw any loblolly pines. I just felt the need to understand the loblolly pine forest history a bit, given it’s central to the description of Bastrop.

We filled up at Perico’s Mexican Cafe for the 2 1/2 hour drive west, northwest.

Driving west out of Houston we gradually gained some beauty with the skies growing blue, and the grass taking on shades of green.

Colorado River

Turning north we arrived in time for sunset.

The reason for the journey was because my friend was the preacher and celebrant for Sunday services at Calvary Episcopal Church in Bastrop.

It’s such a beautiful church…

…with such a warm welcome.

The music and worship were exquisite…and of course the sermon was off the chart!

The reverse slog home was pretty much that – a slog. We had beautiful scenes at the start of the drive to send us on our way.

Sunset tonight as we each pack up for separate travel early tomorrow morning.

Traveling mercies.

on campus

I met Valerie just after noon in front of Jones College where she lives.

We decided the first thing we should do is have lunch. I tapped the Uber app and in just minutes we had our ride to Bistro Menil, the restaurant just adjacent to The Menil Collection.

Oh what fine dining we enjoyed! Salmon Salad for Val, Cheese Selection with bread, fig jam, pecans and pears for me. I was too full for dessert, but my delightful lunch companion enjoyed Caramelized Banana and Nutella Crêpes.

After the delicious lunch and delightful conversation, we visited The Menil Collection. The Menil Collection is a museum that houses the art collection of founders John and Dominique de Menil. The collection is comprised of “approximately 17,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, photographs and rare book”. I have enjoyed this museum countless times over the years.

Designed by architect Renzo Piano, to me the structure itself is a piece of art.

We then returned to the campus by Uber, and Valerie provided a tour of places she wanted me to see.

Walking to the library, we stopped to watch…

Impromptu dancing

…then a much needed…

Coffee break

I was told by the barista that my hair is sick! That’s a new description that I think is a positive take on the blue.

The Fondren library.

Valerie often studies here. She reserves a room on an upper floor. She told me the higher you go up – six floors – the quieter one has to be. We did not go higher than the 4th level. Probably a good idea, given I was along.

Rice Memorial Chapel.

It’s a stunning campus to walk…

…made all the more so with Val as my guide.

We ended our time together with plans for a return visit early next year. We have the women’s basketball team schedule from which we’ll choose the dates to reunite. Go OWLS!

I had so much joy hanging out with my granddaughter. I believe the joy feeling was mutual.

i’m going to college!

I’m actually going to college to visit my granddaughter. She’s a freshman at Rice University. I’m so proud of her, and I’m oh-so-happy for her as well.

She moved into her college (this is what dorms are called at Rice) about seven weeks ago. It’s definitely time for a visit from Nana.

She’s free tomorrow afternoon, so I’ve planned my travel accordingly. Of course I begin by taking my seat in my chair in the sky.

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” ~Leonardo da Vinci

Traveling mercies.

nothing like a lamb lark

Who could have imagined the joy that we would have just because I gave my friend a sheep adoption? And then we went to visit Daphne.

Daphne’s twins

During our conversations with Tammy, the sheep farm shepherd, we sat in our chairs and shared sheep experiences my friend and I have had in other countries. Ireland, Iona, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands.

In Ireland the sheep have a unique color painted on their backs to designate whose flock they belong to. On a visit to Ireland, we encountered a situation that we felt needed our intervention. We became shepherds of one sheep whom we felt was in danger. In hindsight we thought we knew more than the shepherd. We persuaded the shepherd to return with us, and when we arrived on the scene, all was well.

In Iceland, shepherds on horseback ride across the country in early September to round up the sheep who have scattered great distances across the country since spring.

In the Faroe Islands, winter is not typically harsh. This lets the sheep remain out and about almost year-round. Years ago, in an effort to encourage Google to map the country, a local shepherd attached a specially built harness fitted with a Go-pro camera to five sheep to provide 360 degree views. It worked!

On Sunday, the day after our afternoon sheep sit, while enjoying coffee and maple sugar-covered breakfast items,

we decided to set our Sabbath worship as an “anything can happen” worship.

We began by choosing the Gospel for the day to be from John’s Gospel story of the Good Shepherd. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.”

The day before we had passed the entrance to a scenic drive as we drove into Manchester. So after coffee and shopping (yes shopping) we decided to circle back and drive the scenic road to the summit of Mt. Equinox, the highest point in Bennington County.

We drove Sky Line Drive up to the summit, altitude 3,855’.

We stopped at every scenic overlook. We said Psalm 121 as we stood and gazed at God’s wondrous creation.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”

We continued saying the psalm together, part King James, part contemporary.

“He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”

“The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.”

“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”

Along one side of the Saint Bruno viewing center at the summit, were a series of large marble blocks for sitting. We chose one, sat down and read John’s Gospel,

“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me…. You need to know that I have other sheep in addition to those in this pen. I need to gather and bring them, too. They’ll also recognize my voice. Then it will be one flock, one Shepherd.”

What a great trip wrapped up in shepherding!”

Homeward bound. Traveling mercies.

meeting daphne

Yesterday we drove from Hartford, CT through Massachusetts to Shaftsbury, VT. We didn’t stay on the interstate for long. Instead, we chose “the roads less traveled”.

Grilled cheese sandwiches and potato chips for lunch at the Blue Benn Diner. When was the last time you dined at a diner?

Or topped off lunch with a stop at Tasty Freeze.

An hour later we arrived at A Wing and a Prayer Farm

We had a wonderful greeting from the owner, Tammy, and the long hoped for greeting by the sheep.

We first wandered around the barn, meeting rescue sheep who were in quarantine as they had some health issues to overcome before joining the flock.

Tammy also dyes the wool from the sheep, the colors of which come from flowers, onion skins and various plants. She explained it all as we walked by the dyeing vats on our way to the pasture.

Tammy tossed several metal chairs in a wheelbarrow and we set off to visit the sheep.

The way it works with sheep is that you sit in your chairs and wait for the sheep to come to you.

Gradually the sheep strolled over. Tammy called all 60-70 by name as they began to move about.

Daphne

For well over two hours we sat with the sheep. It was a delight!! For us and the sheep I am sure. Tammy sat with us and told us all about being a sheep farmer – the joys and sorrows and the extraordinary amount of work it is. She’s an amazing woman.

We drove off smiling as we criss-crossed passed fields and through small villages to our destination for the night.

We mused about Tammy’s calling to shepherd her flock. Of course our conversation then turned to that of The Good Shepherd. More about that tomorrow.