11 September 2009

An Early September Morn

I awoke early this morning to a clear day. Rising, I began to do a few tasks, much as on any other day. For that is what this would be--just an ordinary, normal early September day.
Eight years ago, on another coast thousands of miles away, many average Americans and those living and working in the States were doing the same thing. They arose from their beds that morning and prepared to start their day. Some boarded planes that would take them to different destinations; others arrived at their jobs in two east coast cities. They too had no reason to expect anything other then a normal early September day-it was clear and beautiful outside then too and all appeared to be ordinary as they began their tasks and flights.
And then terror struck--the hatred of mankind one towards another; unspeakable acts of violence and terror of strangers against average people they had never met, never conversed with, never shared a cup of tea or coffee with, or a laugh. In that moment these average people--most civilians--were thrown into circumstances that would dramatically change their life’s journey and the journey of those they loved and who loved them. And for a few terrible moments hate ruled the day.
Some of these innocents would go to their deaths never knowing the reason; others would fight back when they realized the aim of the evil aboard their plane that morning. Normal, average people called upon to become heroes -- showing extraordinary courage in a situation which brought out the worst in some, who sought to destroy, but in others brought out the very best - the latter whose only aim was to thwart the evil goals of those who had so much hate in their hearts that clear September morn. And again love began to rule, though hate would take its cruel toll.
And in the cities fireman, policemen, average Americans and military personnel were called upon to help and show extraordinary courage too as they entered the damaged Twin
Towers and Pentagon or battled within those buildings to save the lives of strangers, co-workers and friends who only minutes before they may have conversed with or shared a cup of tea or coffee or perhaps a laugh. And love appeared in those office spaces and in the stairwells as average Americans did what they could for their fellow man out of a sense of brotherhood and good will.
And on that day and the many following it, America (and many other nations) wept for those they had lost; and America’s citizens pulled together as one. People sat transfixed in front of their TV’s as those terrible images passed in front of them one by one and they cried out to God for help. And families who lost so very much that day felt the pain that only one bereft of a loved one could feel but also felt support from average people just like them. And all over our nation and around the world, children and adults alike asked how hate like this could be when there was another choice.
Today, on this normal September morning, average Americans got up and prepared to go to work - some in cities, others in towns and some on the land they live on. And they remembered the many sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers who would not rise today to go to work--the average Americans and others who are no longer among us. And in two lands far away average Americans turned Soldiers and Marines also remembered this day when hatred made time stand still and Americans wept together for their lost. And they hoped that love would again rule all our days in America and around the world.
In memory of those innocents lost before their time on that clear September morning and their families, where ever they may be, who still bear the immeasurable pain of their loss; and to those who keep watch both here and abroad over our nation. May God bless and comfort those who lost so much that early September day and on the days after, and may God grant true peace to all of us.
Blessings this early September day as we pause to remember once again,
"There are three things that will endure—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love." I Corinthians 13:13 NLT
Japanese-style lantern in the Garden for My Son.
Bible Verse:
Ilumina software, © 2003 Tyndale House Publishers.

10 September 2009

"The Bluest Skies You've Ever Seen...."

Happy September 10th!!

Have you heard that song before? If you are of a certain age group then most likely you have. Well it still rings through my head everytime I lay eyes on the Emerald City's skyline--a place of beautiful memories for me. Memories of the wonderful ice cream I used to get in the U of W district, the canals and waterways filled with ducks and boats, the city's hills, the parks, the lakes....OK I know I am gushing but I can do so--after all I did live here at one time:)
But it's not just Seattle that I love; for Washington state is an amazing place! And I love it... the peninsulas, islands, ferries, waterways and mountains for just like its southern neighbor, Oregon, this is a land of contrasts--from the very green (and often wet) rain forests of the west to the more arid eastern portion of the state.
I have family history here, too, and often wonder what my ancestors (and extended family) thought as they viewed for the first time the beauty of this area-a snow capped Mt Rainier, the blue Hood Canal--a fjord and the lush green of the rain forests. I know these scenes still take my breath away even though I have seen them more then a few times!
So to nourish my soul today -- a few photos of Washington state.
Forever may you stay green (and blue)!
Beautiful, serene and peaceful.
This is my beloved Washington.
I thank God for you.
Seattle - the Space Needle.
Olympic Peninsula
Central Washington (2 photos)
Northern WA--along I-5 (2 photos)
Olympic Peninsula (2 photos)
SW Washington
Note: Some of these were taken with my older camera and are not of the best resolution (not that my newer camera is a lot better--LOL). Sorry about that but I hope they will still give you an idea of why I love this place so very much!
Links of interest:

Note to blog visitors

I recently added a search feature to this blog because I needed a quick way to find a post I had written about a particular song. I couldn't find it under the label "Music of my life" and didn't want to spend the time doing a manual search. By using the search feature I quickly determined it wasn't on this blog at all and could then go on to check the forum I write on -- where it was! Yippee!

However, the reason I am putting this note here is the search feature would come in handy if you're looking for a specific PNW (or other) location-such as Astoria or Seattle on this blog. I don't think it works perfectly on older posts, but it's fun to use and besides I love learning and (using) new features. BTW search results will appear at the top of the posts below the title photo.

Checked out the Blogger 10th Birthday gift blog lthe other night; there are some pretty interesting new features there. Might give them a try at some future date. Let me know if you have used any of them yet and what you think.

BTW hope you had a happy 9:09 AM & PM on 9/9/09----I am saying that for my DH "Farmer Boy":)

Blessings all,

09 September 2009

A Walk in His Garden: Scenes of September

I love this time of year.
When plants & trees begin to take on the hues of autumn.

When the fragrance and colors of the grapes begin to become more pronounced as they move closer to harvest time...

and the season of peaches, sweet corn on the cob and tomatoes draws closer to its end.

Autumn flowers share room with summer begonias and the garden seems to be a more peaceful place.

Blessings from the garden,
Pieris against a handmade concrete-rock table
Laceleaf Japanese maple after shower (an authentic one this time!)
Nandina Moyer's Red by our upper pond
Chrysanthemum 'white Gigi' in planter (love this mum!)
Grapes: Concords & Niagaras (my favorite treat the last part of September!)
Tomatoes, sweet corn on the cob & Elberta peaches fresh from a farm (I would give up meat for these!)
Begonias & violas.

08 September 2009

God's Words of Hope for the Hurting

Happy September 8th!
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they go right on producing delicious fruit.” Jeremiah 17: 7-8 NLT
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you. “ I Peter 5:7 KJV

"The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. For He understands how weak we are; He knows we are only dust" Psalms 103: 13, 14 NLT
"And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can’t, and life can’t... Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38a-9 NLT
“Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might He increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31 KJV

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness“. Isaiah 41: 10 KJV
Blessings this evening,
Harrison Lake, Harrison Hot Springs, BC, Canada
Dad & I
Pacific Ocean--probably central coast of Oregon
Eagle along Young's Bay, Astoria, Oregon

Bible note:
NLT verses - Ilumina software, © 2003 Tyndale House Publishers

07 September 2009

Autumn Storms

As we move closer to Autumn, I find myself feeling much as our weather has been as of late--stormy at times then sunny at others and with pools of sadness and loss piling up in my heart just like the puddles of rainwater on our road.
You see just as the season will be changing soon, so is my life changing and I find myself trying to deal with this loss of a dream-again,
About 6 years ago our daughter and her family moved to another state and I still feel the loss all too keenly of them. And now as summer gives way to autumn, it is my son and his family's turn to leave for what looks like a permanent change. And so my heart is filled with mixed emotions--very happy that they will be together again and in their own place; sad because I am a 'selfish' grandmother and will deeply miss seeing them, being part of their lives and doing things that just are not possible when you are separated by hundreds of miles (and many, many hours).
With this change my mind is drawn back to one of my grandmothers and I wonder how she must have felt when her only child moved even further from their hometown and she could see them (and us) only once or twice a year. How did she deal with the pain she must have felt in her soul? I wish I knew for sure, but I do have a fairly good idea because she lived a life of faith. Soon, very soon, I will be walking in her moccasins and now I have more then just sympathy for what she must have felt like; now I have empathy--the true understanding that only comes when one is walking the same path as another. But even then there are differences in her path and mine, for she was a widow by that time and I am not.
There are other changes too---the bad house situation is no better and yet we're still on hold because of circumstances we have little to no control over as the colder, wetter season sets in on us. The 'other' situation, which I have known about for quite awhile as a possibility, which then became a probability and is now on the edge of being a certainty will happen soon---again I have no control over this. And my walking and hubby's health issues combined with going into the flu season-one which there still is no vaccine for.
Can I say overload? All of these very big stressors could easily rob me of the peace in my heart. It would most people if they were honest with themselves.
And yet ...they only have the power I choose to give them...for I have learned that even in times where you have little to no control over your stressful circumstances or when your stress is anything but small, you still have a choice. By that I mean you can focus on your circumstances or your faith. You can surround yourself with things of peace or you feed the 'wars' that want nothing more then to rage in your soul.
You see, this past year, I was put into a circumstance I did not choose for myself or my family and which in fact, because of my faith upbringing, placed me in a situation where my innermost being was being pulled opposite ways at the same time. Talk about mixed emotions! But through this time God clearly showed me His grace and peace -- sometimes through the kindness and prayers of total strangers; at others through the prayers and kindnesses of family and friends. Often through the songs of prayer (songs which mirror the prayers of my heart) I so often listen to and through the verses that would at just the right times pop into my mind. I can say honestly that for most of the time the stress I was under, the burden I was bearing was bearable. And all this in spite of world and national events.
Did this mean I never broke down? That I never felt true anger or fear? That I did not at times wish to be in the position other then the one I found myself placed in? Of course not! I am only human after all:) But I found that when my focus changed towards God and away from my circumstances and feelings I was more and more drawn into His world--a world of peace and total, unconditional love (now I am NOT saying I was transported anywhere or anything like that). So I poured out my feelings to Him in songs of prayer, often with simple words when that was all my heart could utter. Over time, I began to better understand Paul and Silas when they were physically shackled in a dismal prison and yet their spirit soared free and they could sing peacefully and with much joy of their Lord's greatness!
So as these changes come upon me one by one, I find myself again letting go and turning my focus from my very human (and very normal) emotions of loss, fear and sadness over them -- to HIM who understands and loves me unconditionally.
Today (and for the days that will come after) as the singers raise their voices in songs "Thanks be to God...", "Father I put my life in your hands", "You are my hiding place" and "Lord I know my life is in your hands" I do the same thing -- most imperfectly at times--and trust that He will, in the end, work all things out according to His purposes and His glory. And that this promise written centuries before to Jewish captives held in a nation far from their own good land is still true today --
"For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me in earnest, you will find Me when you seek Me." Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT (Ilumina software, © 2003 Tyndale House Publishers)
So just as the sun has again broken through the storm and the light again shines through the window there is still summer in my soul. And just as the birds will again sing their God given melodies, so do I.
Blessings & peace from my home to yours,
Jon Michael Talbot's "Father I Put My Life in Your Hands" and "You are My Hiding Place"; unsure of other songs--sorry!

06 September 2009

Walks in His Gardens--the Mountain States

Some photos from my son's collection. We have a deal--I lend him a camera and he brings me back beautiful photos like these. We like the arrangement because this way we both get to enjoy the photos he takes...we hope you enjoy them too! Thanks son for giving me permission to post them here and yes, let's make plans for a trip soon.
This is a photo from Colorado -most likely in the area south of Denver and north of Colorado Springs. My son's favorite memories of that trip was the transportation and eating at Cracker Barrel (we both like that place SO much; the first thing we do when we are near one is eat there---near being defined as within an hours drive) Unfortunately there are none in the PNW at this time--unless you include Idaho in that area. I SO miss their grits...
I believe this photo is from Nevada, possibly close to Las Vegas.
As is this one. You know, even though I am a PNW girl, when I look at a photo of a desert or mountain area like this I feel peace. I think it is something about the colors; in the more arid areas of the SW they are simply amazing -- especially in the early dawn and at sunset. When I am there I often wake up early--it is as if my spirit longs to experience this most peaceful part of the day to be refreshed by the sight of God's creation at its best; of course when I am home....but we won't talk about that tonight:)
Nevada or east California.
Ah! This looks very familiar. I believe I've been over this very same bridge more then once; it crosses over the Snake River in Idaho and you can find amazing views of the canyon and river at the memorial area on the right side after you cross the bridge.
Since we started with a bit of green we will end with some too. This should be southern Wyoming. When I think of peaceful places, I think of rural areas like this one and mountains and forests and the desert and, sometimes, the coast. Peaceful, tranquil and serene. And that is the way I want to end my day today (and everyday).
Blessings this night to you,
All photos on this post © 2009 J. Blessings & A. Blessings.
A BIG thank you-again-to my son for use of his photos here:)
Note: photos were taken in the following months--mid June for the Nevada photos and early September for the photos in both Idaho and Colorado.

PNW Farm Tour: Lavender & the Hood River region of Oregon

On our last 'walk' way back here we traveled to the Columbia River Gorge---an area renowned for its incredible beauty. In this post we'll continue that 'walk'--this time in the Hood River area, located on the river between Portland and The Dalles.
Since I am SO into lavender this summer (having visited 3 farms thus far) we'll start there--at a lavender farm that is.

Now to do this walk well you'll need to use your imagination a little. I want you to imagine yourself in this field with me. We're surrounded by several kinds of fragrant lavender; all set within sight of two beautiful snow capped mountains under a warm summer sun.
The flower stalks are swaying in the breeze, on this nice day, and you aren't rushed for time. You don't need to run and get groceries, gather dirty laundry or wash the dishes piled in the sink. No phone is ringing, no TV is on and you have plenty of time to stop and gather lavender bouquets to bring home and dry for later use
(and if it is culinary lavender you can even use it for cooking or making lavender sugar).
You can take a moment (or maybe more then a moment) to relax in the picturesque gazebo and savor the sweet atmosphere of this idyllic setting
or sit in the Adirondack chairs and bask in the sunshine.
It truly is a place where the views are beautiful and the setting peaceful.
As I've already said, you can see two mountains from the lavender fields. The first as you look towards the field's end is Mt Hood, located not too far from Hood River, and this one, located to the north, is Mt Adams. You can see it, peeking above the green trees, as you walk towards the gift shop/farmer store. Mt Adams is located in Washington right across the river.
Isn't it beautiful? I SO love snow capped mountains, don't you?
After you've gathered armfuls of fragrant bouquets, taken your fill of beautiful photos and made memories of this incredible place---there's still two more to make here!

The first is in the farm store!

Since I LOVE farm stores we just have to stop and shop there for a bit. Besides it's great when you can actually talk to the owners of the stores where you visit--hate to say it but today's supermarkets, although well stocked with products from A to Z, are just too impersonal for me. I use them but not with the delight I feel when shopping at a farm store :)
Well I found what I came for--besides the views and lavender that is. Lavender flavored honey and lavender-raspberry jam for winter toast, and maybe an aebleskiver or two! And as long as I'm here, I have to pick up a few of the trial sized lavender toiletries--nice for guests and me!
But there is just one more thing I HAVE to do before we can leave---Yep, I just have to peer inside the Lavender Loo! After all, not everyone can visit a Loo that is this pretty...

and lavender.
Time to leave now as there are many more places to explore in this area. Since we're a bit short of time, we won't get to drive the Fruit Loop or visit the numerous farms there, but maybe-hopefully when you're in the area again we can do that!
This area has a large agricultural presence and in some ways reminds me of the farm areas of north-central Washington and British Columbia that are located along the Columbia River there. I think this area gets more rainfall though. Another thing to keep in mind for any future visits is that, depending on the season, there seems to be many festivals and celebrations here--events that honor the fruit blossoms, lavender, hops, heirloom apples, pears and more!
But now it's time for us to move on to our next stop. All that talk about fruit and strolling through the lavender fields has made me very, very hungry and there are some nice places to eat here, some with great views of their own!
Nope, we are not eating at a pear orchard--although the restaurant we're eating at is known for its yummy pear dumplings! It also has great Caesar salads too (and Aimee has loved her Caesar salads since she was much, much younger then she is now). We will be eating at the Riverside Grill where we can get both AND a good view of the river!
While we are there enjoying our food we might get to see a windsurfer; after all the Gorge is THE spot to windsurf! But don't expect this grandmother of 5 to engage in that very popular pursuit; NO way will I EVER go there with you--no matter how much I like you, BUT I will be most glad to show you my support by staying right here while you do your thing. OK?
And I will even try to get a picture of you doing your thing--in between bites of pear dumpling that is! Yum, munch, munch, yum!

After a relaxing lunch we can do a bit more sightseeing if you'd like. We can drive the road again that took us to the Lavender farm. Wow! Look at that view of Mt Hood; one just never gets tired of seeing that mountain!

I wonder what my pioneer forefathers and mothers thought as they viewed her for the first time when they came through here in the 1850's. What a change from the drier areas of the eastern part of Gorge they had just traveled through. Both have their own beauty though, as does all God has made.

And here is part of the Hood River Valley.

Love it here; always have.
Wish we had more time. If we did we could run up to Panoramic Point, located not too far from here where there is a gorgeous view of the valley and more! And travel the rightfully famous (and often photographed) Hood River Fruit Loop drive mentioned above.
But we'll just have to do that at another time, won't we?
Until later...
Blessings, Aimee

Photos: 1-4: Lavender Valley; 5,7, 8: Locations near Lavender Valley; 6: Riverside Grill deck

Links of Possible Interest to the Hood River Visitor:
Note: Let me make a little disclaimer note here. Though the businesses (farms, shops, eating establishments, etc) I feature here on my blog have all kindly given me permission to do so, they may or may not agree with the writings and opinions found on this blog. I didn't ask them so I don't know. Also, I have not been paid to feature them here or are, in any way associated with these businesses, but because I TRULY think they're wonderful places to visit and felt, from my own time there, that others might enjoy doing the same, I am featuring them here.
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