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Friday, March 28, 2014

A Scare

A week ago Wednesday, I went for a routine mammogram. The next day, I received a call that they had seen something on the mammogram, and they wanted me to come back for a "spot compression" that would give them a closer look. The appointment was made for yesterday, the 27th.
 
I won't keep you guessing...nothing at all was seen on the re-exam.
 
But I'd like to tell you about my emotional state during the week leading up to the re-exam.
 
Now, I'm a Christian. I know that my sins are covered by the blood of Christ and that, when my body dies, my spirit will be very much alive in His presence. I also know that, in the words of a popular Christian song of many years ago, nothing can happen to me today without passing through my Father's hands.
 
Nevertheless, I experienced some anxiety during that week. One obvious reason was that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 53 and died eight years later of cancer that had spread from that original site. But maybe the biggest reason for my anxiety was knowing how hard it would be for my sweet hubby to watch me go through it if the test revealed cancer.
 
I don't know how to explain what I was feeling. In one sense, the spiritual sense, I guess, I was totally at peace with the possibility...even probability...that this could be it for me. But we are multi-faceted beings, and my mind was racing with things that I'd want to take care of before leaving this earth.
 
A big one is our financial records. I take care of all the finances for our household, and I do most of it electronically. Doug and I were both single until we were in our forties, and he's very capable of handling that job every bit as well as I. He just doesn't enjoy it as much, which is why I do it. But I would have to get all of the online stuff transferred back to manual and snail mail if I were to expect Doug to step in and take over. He just doesn't do computer, except for an occasional game of Solitaire.
 
I've got an unimaginable number of photos from our life and travels together, but most of them are on the computer. I would want to get those into scrapbooks so that Doug could have something tangible to look at and remember.
 
I was even thinking about what Hospice Home I would want to go to when that time came.
 
And there were thoughts about the details for a funeral service. We have the major parts of our funerals already planned and paid for, but there are things like music and photographs and messages that we want to convey that still need to be worked out.
 
I know that some reading this will think that my Christianity doesn't go very deep if all these thoughts were keeping me awake at night...and they were. Maybe there's some truth to that. But I honestly didn't feel anxiety about dying. It was more about leaving...leaving one sad puppy of a husband...leaving things undone that could make life easier for those left behind.
 
In the course of all that thinking, it occurred to me that I spend way too much time on the computer. Well, I confess that that wasn't a new thought, but it became clearer during my week of sleepless nights. Blogging does take a lot of time that I might better spend doing other things. I'm not sure yet where that train of thought will lead me.
 
Anyway, I just felt the need to share my heart about my experience. Maybe it will help someone else.
 
The day before my re-exam was scheduled, I received a letter from the diagnostic company that does the tests, saying that there was no need to be anxious, that approximately one out of 10 women get called back for a second exam, and that the majority of those show no problem. I thought to myself that it would have been nice if the person who called to set up the appointment for my re-exam had told me that six days earlier.

After the good results of yesterday's re-exam, I told Doug that I thought the scale would weigh a lot lighter the next time I weighed myself. He asked why, and I replied that a big burden had just been lifted. He heartily agreed.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Skies

I've been busy the last few days, trying to get our tax returns done and filed. So I'm a bit late getting my Tuesday blog post up today. I went through some older photos and came up with this collection of sky images. I hope you enjoy them.

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September, 2010

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July, 2010

100_0203-Sunset At Indy Airport
August, 2010

The next three were taken with my first digital point and shoot camera, a little sub-compact model made by Hewlett Packard:

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September, 2006

HPIM1334_Sunset_Clouds
September, 2006

HPIM1336-Sunset
October, 2006


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Fall Colors in New England, by Beckie

I was going through some old photos this week and came across this one that was taken by my niece, Beckie while on a New England vacation trip in October, 2007. I think it's so pretty that I decided to go ahead and post it here, even though I can't take any credit for it.

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Wishing you all a blessed Lord's Day.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Clouds Over Gull Lake

Last September, Doug and I went with some friends to a Christian conference at Gull Lake Ministries in Michigan. Sitting on the dock one evening at sunset, I snapped these photos of the sky over the lake.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mingus Mill

Mingus Mill, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is a historic grist mill which uses a water-powered turbine instead of a water wheel to power all of the machinery in the building.  Built in 1886, the mill is located at its original site, just north of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center, near Cherokee, North Carolina.

From mid-March to mid-November, a miller is present to demonstrate the process of grinding corn into cornmeal. In addition, cornmeal and other mill-related items are available for purchase at the mill.

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The previous three photos were taken in the early evening on November 7, 2013; and the lighting wasn't the best. So I decided to include the following image, also taken on November 7, but five years earlier, in 2008, and at mid-afternoon.

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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Elk Watching in the Smokies

I mentioned in my last post that one of the drawing points of the Cataloochee area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee was the opportunity to see some historic frame buildings that have been preserved in that valley. But another big draw is the presence of elk.

Elk were released in Cataloochee Valley in 2001, as part of an experimental program to reintroduce elk to the national park. The herd can be seen regularly in the fields of the valley, especially in the early morning and evening hours.
 
Our decision to go to Cataloochee on November 7, was based on a desire to escape the rain in another area of the park. It was afternoon when we reached our destination, and we didn't have very high expectations of seeing any elk. But we saw lots of them, including two bulls who were bugling challenges to each other across two different meadows, separated by a row of trees.

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This female is wearing a radio collar.

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Not everyone was viewing from the roadway.

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I'm not sure how safe this method of viewing is, but it makes a pretty picture.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Palmer Chapel

The isolated Cataloochee Valley, once one of the largest and most prosperous settlements in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is nestled among some of the most rugged mountains in the southeastern United States. Some 1,200 people once lived in this lovely mountain valley before it became a part of the national park.

Cataloochee is the best place in the park to see historic frame buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I'm sharing just one of them here. It's Palmer Chapel Methodist Church. The photos are from our trip to the Smokies during the first week of November, 2013.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

More from Our Fall Trip to the Smokies

All photographs in this post were shot during the first week of November, 2013, during our trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

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Our friend, Pat, on a trail at The Sinks

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River along the Tremont road

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Douglas Dam, where we spent a relaxing and scenic afternoon reading.

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Douglas Dam, panorama shot

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This colorful branch was on the Abrams Falls Trail.

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Taken from an overlook in the Cataloochee area of the national park.

I'll have more from the Cataloochee area coming up.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

A Look Back at Fall

The first week of November, 2013, Doug and I and our friend, Pat, spent several days at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.
 
The fall color season draws huge numbers of visitors to the Smokies in October, making lodging rates in the area ridiculously expensive. Since those rates drop drastically the first week of November, that's when Doug and I usually make our fall visit to this national park. By that late in the season, the colors are usually completely gone in the higher elevations and past their peak in the lower elevations, but there's always enough color remaining to charm the senses.

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Little Greenbrier Schoolhouse
 
According to Wikipedia, the Little Greenbrier School, built in 1882, functioned as the community school until 1936. During that time, it also served as the house of worship for a Primitive Baptist church. We've never seen the building this dark before. Apparently, the Park Service had recently given it a darker coat of stain.

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Little Greenbrier Cemetery, near the schoolhouse

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This old barn can be seen from the road leading into the national park from Wears Valley.

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This is the house that goes with the barn.

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These trees were in a rest area where we stopped on our way to Tennessee.


Thursday, March 06, 2014

How Do You Like Your Water?

I've been experimenting with waterfall photography. I always used to argue that natural was best. But I think that was mainly because I didn't know any other way to do it.
 
Here are two photos of Abrams Falls, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. The first was taken at a shutter speed of 1/100, which captured the waterfall as it looks naturally. The second was shot at a slower shutter speed so that the water has a softer, blurred look.
 
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Following is a short video of Abrams Falls:


So...how do you like your water?

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

White Ibis

This is my final installment of my "Florida Birds" series, and it features the White Ibis.

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That beak seems a little unwieldy, to say the least; but I guess it works for the ibis. I read that this bird is a non-visual forager, probing with its beak at the bottom of shallow water, and finding its prey by feel rather than by sight.
 
Don't we live in an interesting world? 


Sunday, March 02, 2014

Tricolored Heron

The Tricolored Heron was another bird that we saw in Florida in January. Today's post includes several photos of this medium-sized heron, with a short video at the end of the post.

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The photo above was taken from the video that appears at the end of the post.

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