Monday, June 29, 2015

Keep learning

Years ago now, I had the privilege of walking into Holy Trinity Church.  This is the church in Headington Quarry, Oxford, England where  CS Lewis worshiped.
Moving through the doors,  knowing that at one time he sat in these pews gave me goosebumps.
To me, the man was a literary genius.  He was a Fellow at Oxford University and  wrote some of the best books of all time, including The Chronicles of Narnia.
 This is a picture of one of the windows in the church.   I have read many of his books, and thought I knew most things about him.  Not so.

I found this book in an old bookstore recently.
It's true.  The Magic Never Ends.  I never get tired of learning about this author.

Some facts I already knew.   His name is Clive Staples Lewis, but went by the nickname Jack.  His childhood home was called Little Lea, his mother died when he was 9, and he died November 22,1963, the same day President John F Kennedy was killed.

I am learning so much more.
For instance, I did not know he had a dog named Mr. Papworth.  It has a certain ring to it don't you think?

He wrote 38 books and all of them-all 38-have NEVER been out of print.

He didn't drive.

RARELY wore a watch.

From the age of 18, Oxford was his home.

"He often rejoiced when he was on a train and he could talk to an ordinary man about literature because, he thought, when you're talking to an ordinary man about Jane Austen, this man really liked her books."  ---Walter Hooper.

"Lewis was not known to enjoy certain social gatherings and preferred, when possible, to be at home writing."

He walked a lot.  Especially along a footpath called Addison's Walk in Oxford, and the rolling hills of the Cotswolds.
I love to walk, and I LOVE the Cotswolds!

He wrote The Silver Chair in a couple of months.

He was on the cover of TIME magazine September 1947.

He smoked...GASP!!!

He wrote because he simply enjoyed it.

I have not finished reading this book.  Too busy underlining all the new things I am learning!

All I know for sure is that this man was a gifted writer with an incredible imagination.  His nonfiction work is among the best books I have ever read.  Mere Christianity remains among my favorites.

Do you have a favorite author?

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Red white and blue.
The colors are much more noticeable being July 4 is next week.

I found this little book in the grocery store of all places.

The title hooked  me.
I picked it up, and sure enough, this is stuff  Americans should know.
Like what you ask?

Well, did you know that it's illegal to rip a dollar bill in half?  Not that I would do that, but still, it's illegal!

Or, how  about this one.
"The seven spikes on the crown of the Statue of Liberty represent the seas and continents of the world." I did not know that!  Also didn't  know that in the Statue's left hand, there is a tablet with the date July 4, 1776.  I mean, I knew there was a tablet!  Just didn't know the date was on it!  It is written in Roman numerals.  That would look like this.  July IV, MDCCLXXVI.  Wow right!

What does bicameral mean?  Well, it means "two houses" as in the Senate and the House of Representatives.  Hmmmmm....

Want to run for president?  You can if you qualify for the job!  Rules are rules.  First, you have to be at least 35 years old.  You MUST  have lived in the USA for at least 14 years, and you MUST be a natural born citizen.   I can check all three!  Maybe I should run?!

It's not easy to become an official citizen of the USA.  One of the things you must do is answer questions.  There are 100 of them.  Which ones do you need to know?  All of them, because you will be randomly asked 10.  You need to get 6 right to pass!
Here are a few...

"Who was president during WWI?"

"How many amendments does the Constitution have?"

"Name one of your state's US Senators."

Are you looking these up on google?!

What a great read.  Indeed, good stuff to know.

This I already knew by heart...

                              I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America,
                              and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God,
                              indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.



Thursday, June 18, 2015


No, I didn't misspell the word.
It's basal, not basil.
One vowel changes the whole word.

B A S I L=an herb.  A yummy herb, but still, an herb.

B A S A L.  Now there is a word.  A bad word.  As in Basal Cell Carcinoma.  The most common form of skin cancer.

A few weeks ago, I would have skimmed past the word.  Sadly, it truly meant nothing to me.

Not anymore.  I saw something "weird" on my husband's back.  I told him he needed to go to the dermatologist and get it checked out.

Long story short.  He went.  What I thought looked suspicious was actually nothing.  BUT, the big BUT.  The doctor found many other spots that were more than just suspicious.   They were the real deal.   Skin cancer.

Fast forward to this week.
The doctor took 3 of 11 spots.  Started on his back.  I was going to show you the wound, but quite frankly, its ugly.  Really ugly.  There are stitches that look like railroad ties, redness, blisters, and it is quite swollen.  He is sore and in a lot of pain.
      The bandages tell the story.  
My point with this post... go and get checked out.

We are grateful it was "only" Basal Cell.  It is going to be a bit of a bumpy road for a bit, but it is curable.
My advice:  Stay out of the sun as best you can,  and use lots and lots of sunscreen.  Wear a hat.  It's summer.  Hats are stylin'
In short...COVER UP!

Monday, June 15, 2015

A history

Admittedly, the only English thing about this blog post is the scarf I'm wearing in the below photo.
You have to admit though, it's a pretty cool scarf!
London is plastered all over it.  Union Jack, Big Ben, Tower Bridge.  My dear friend Yvonne found it.  Said, "it screamed your name so I had to buy it."   I'm so lucky.

So, about this post.  

I have this friend.  My forever friend.  We have  history.

Meet Alicia.

This weekend I went to see her for her daughter's high school graduation party.  It had been awhile since we have seen each other in person, so when we made eye contact, we went a little crazy.
Jumping up and down, shouting each others names, hugging.  That kind of crazy.  A guest spilled his drink he was so frazzled with the commotion!  
Yep.  She's that kind of friend.
We've known each other since 5th grade.
No secrets
In each other's wedding.
Of the two of us, she's the stronger one.  Hands down.  She amazes me.
There's that saying, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Yeah, that's her.

Life has been exceptionally cruel to her in the past.  It reads like something only a movie could make up.

Here's the short version:

A brother was killed while riding his bicycle around the time I first met her .

While we were juniors in high school, her dad and another brother were killed in a freak accident. An accident that could have easily taken her life too.

THEN, while she was in college, a drunk driver took her first love.

Alas, tis true.  

Thankfully, that's not the end of her story.
She knows pain, but she knows how to live.
She is  peaceful.  Nothing, and I mean nothing, rattles her.
She has Joe.   He completes her.
4 lovely daughters.  Randi, Alex, Sam, and Toni.  I love their names.  
Lives on a beautiful lake.   YAY!!!  If there is such a thing as someone "deserving" to live well, I am thrilled life gave it to her.
I watched her with her guests this weekend.   She ran around, hugging everyone who came,  and listened to what was going on in their lives.  
She is REAL.

Watching her, I thought of all the things we did as kids.   I spent lots of weekends at her house.  We would put green masks on our faces and wear it until it was concrete.  We scrubbed like mad trying to get those masks  off!
We watched Footloose every time we had sleep overs.
Stayed up late, and slept in until noon.

I'm the blessed one to have her in my world.  She is a great example of perseverance.

We vowed this weekend to make sure and see each other much more.
What I think I love the most about us is that we just pick up where we left off.  Like we never missed a beat.  We just know each other so well.  It's an easy friendship.  One with much history and a forever future.

I hope you have a friendship in your life like ours.  It's a priceless gift.  




Thursday, June 11, 2015

"Just show up"

This very week one year ago,  we were in Italy.  ITALY!  I still am in awe.
I have been reminiscing about this trip all week.    I'm thankful I wrote in my journal every day, and looking at  pictures has brought back such wonderful memories.

My dear friend Yvonne gave me great advice before I left.  She said, "at the end of each day, try to remember this:

What is my one perfect/blissful moment every day?"

Here are a few of my favorites.
We were out for a stroll,  turned a corner and WOW...what a sight.  Flowers spilling from the building!  What really caught my attention is the fact that  people were totally oblivious.  Look at the picture.  Cell phones kept most from missing a perfect moment.
   Gelato...yes please!!!

  Yes.  This view really exists.  Hiking in Cinque Terre.
I loved the food  at our bed and breakfast.  I can still taste the lemon marmalade.
Classic green shutters in Cinque Terre.
The drive up to our villa in Tuscany.  Perhaps my favorite picture of all.
Or, maybe this one.
All I know for sure...the entire trip I was in a state of constant wonder.
How am I so blessed?

Have you looked back at any trips you have taken ?  You need to.  Memories last forever.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Time out

This weekend I purposely unplugged.  I liked it a lot.
No cell phone, no social media, no computer, no nothing.  I didn't even get in my car.

I did manage to hop on my bicycle and watch the clouds roll by.
I spent lots of time reading.  I have discovered this really great magazine.  It is called The Simple Things.  A United Kingdom magazine actually.  My splurge every month is to go into the book store and buy it.  I could get a subscription, but I would much rather "have" to go in and get it!
Don't you love the words on the front cover?  TAKING TIME TO LIVE WELL.

Yep.  I did exactly that this weekend.
  There was tea, and catching up on magazines and books.

I am learning much about those royals.  This book is 512 pages of history of England.  For instance, Edward VII reign was a brief 9 years, compared to his mother, Queen Victoria, who reigned for 63 years.
George V didn't expect  to be king.  His brother Albert died from pneumonia,  making George the next in line.  He married his late brother's fiance, Princess Mary of Teck.   He reigned from 1910-1936.

Then, there was the abdication.  Lots written about that.  Crisis for sure.

Along came George VI.  This king came fast and unexpected.  He "set out to restore the good name and dignity of the royal family, which he felt had been blemished by the abdication crisis."
We know this king because he was the present Queen's father.
A movie was made about him.  Perhaps you have seen The King's Speech.

From Arthur, King of Camelot to present day royalty, it all fascinates me.  This book will fill in the details of chapels and castles and also Norton Conyers.  The house that inspired Jane Eyre.  Can't wait to read that!

I'm thinking this weekend will be a repeat in the near future.

Some unexpected great things happened too.  For instance, there was a visit from our great friends John and Yvonne,  and our daughter showed up and spent the night with us.

I couldn't agree more with the magazine...It's THE SIMPLE THINGS in life.

Have you unplugged lately?


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Generation gap

According to Wikipedia, generation gap is defined:  the difference of opinion on music, values, politics, etc., that occurs between one generation and another, usually between younger people and their parents and/or grandparents.

Enter the cell phone.
   This device connects me to my family through texts and calling.  I wish I didn't have to use it.  I much prefer a pencil and paper.  (photo below to help those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about!)

That yellow apparatus ..a so easy to use.  Just gently press on the white paper, moving your hand ever so slightly across the document, forming images (usually words forming sentences).  That pink contraption  on the end of the pencil...say called an eraser.  Simply rub it across any image you wish to delete and poof...gone!   One can actually write a "text," seal it in an envelope, and put it in a mailbox, landing in another  mailbox  a few days later like magic.    Imagine opening your mailbox (please tell me you know what that is) and a letter magically appears.

With all this technology,  letter writing really still exists, but that is for another post.

Funny story.
I admit, I do not really know very much about my techy phone.  I have had my children show me how to text and am able to answer it when it chimes.
I readily admit, until last Saturday, there were a few things I had no idea what to do.

Did you know there is a "brightness" dimmer on  your phone?  My husband and I were driving, and I noticed that my phone was really hard to read.  I know I need glasses nowadays, but it was exceptionally hard to see anything on my phone.   My husband even wondered what was wrong with it.  
We stopped in to the nearest cell phone store and thought maybe we would be buying a new phone.

We walked in, greeted by some 20 something dude.    "Afternoon guys.What's up?"

"My phone is dark?  I think something is wrong with it."

Seriously, within seconds, this dude figured out what was wrong with my phone.
I am quite sure he wanted to say, "You're an idiot!"
But, he was polite!  Whew!

"So, there's this dimmer on your phone.  Somehow you must have lessened the brightness on it.  Here is how to fix it."
Then he noticed that something was up with my voicemail.  He pushed a few buttons and I know he tried not to laugh as he said, " have a lot of voicemails on here.  Like, a lot!  Have you ever checked your voicemail?"

You can imagine the look I gave him because he said, "I'm guessing you don't know how to use your voicemail right?"

So, for all of you that have left me a voicemail...I finally got it!  He made it easy for me now.  All I have to do is push a button and voila...message received!

"There's an app for that!"

I don't want to know what that group of kids said when we exited the store!! you prefer texting or pencil and paper?

Monday, June 1, 2015


Over the past few weeks we have been painting, removing, and replacing.
Our living room has needed an upgrade for quite awhile now, and this month we finally got to work.
I figured out what color of white to paint the walls.  Do you have any idea how many whites there are in the color spectrum?!  LOTS!
It took some time, but I picked Antique white.   I love the results.  The carpet came last week, and over the weekend, we moved furniture around deciding what stays, and what needs to go.

I especially enjoyed hanging this picture.
It's a painting of a quaint little village home in the Cotswolds of England, given to me from dear friends.
Here is a shot of the real home in the painting.   Don't you love the door?  I stood near it!  Would have loved to enter, but it is someone's private residence!  
Across from the home, stands these lovely row of cottages.   Not your modern day neighborhood!  They are pure joy to gaze upon.  Like something out of a fairy tale.
I love that I get to enter my living room and recall a happy memory every day.  

Do you have a favorite picture that hangs in your home?