Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Slice of Life: Dear Day Designer!

One of my favorite things to do each summer is to pick out my new planner. I'm one of those folks who loves to purchase a planner that begins in July and ends in June. Maybe it's from all my years of teaching or maybe it's because I like a fresh start in the summer.

For the last several years, I've purchased a Day Designer calendar. I love the pocket that's near the front, perfect for coupons. I love the two page spread for each month with a space for Notes & To-Do, and the inclusion of the prior month's calendar and the upcoming month as well. I like the two page spread for each week, with a space for This Week's Top Three (perfect for goal setting), the lines provided for each day's plans, and the daily To-Do list with boxes for checking things off. 

As you can see, I have the ALMOST perfect planner! But, every year about this time, I get cranky with my planner. I NEED calendar pages for the three months ahead (July, August, and September). It's not yet time for my new calendar, but most of the events I want and need to enter are for future months. 

I was totally excited when I picked up my new planner to see a bonus feature of two additional months. Hurray! They have finally seen the light and next year, I'll have the July and August planning pages as I near the end of my planner. But wait! The bonus month pages are for May and June of 2019. Now why would I want the previous two months when I start using my new planner in July???

While I was writing this post, I hit upon my own solution to this problem. I'll copy the July and August monthly planning pages from my new planner and glue them onto some of my blank note pages in the back of my current planner. But please, Day Designer, could you include those months in my 2020/2021 planner?  It would make this satisfied customer extremely happy!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Spiritual Journey First Thursday: Connection

It's the first Thursday of the month 
and time to show up with my friends 
for Spiritual Journey First Thursday. 
I'm hosting this month and
our theme is connection. 

 June 6th is a significant day.
Yes, it's D-day and this year marks the 75th anniversary.
It's also the day my parents married, June 6, 1941.
It's also the day my dad died, June 6, 1980,
on their 39th wedding anniversary.
(My sis pointed out to me that today
also marks 39 years since daddy died.)
And so I chose significance as my theme for this month.

But each of these significant dates
(except for D-day) is highly personal. 
So I switched our prompt for June to connection,
a significant word for our spiritual journeys. 

Of course the first thing that comes to mind is connecting with God. And there are many ways that can happen. For some of us it occurs in daily quiet time and prayer. "Be still and know that I am God," is one of my favorite passages of scripture. 

Sometimes we feel connected to God by the glory of nature. I cannot walk in the woods without celebrating the glory that is manifest there. I've loved the words to the hymn "How Great Thou Art" since I was a young child. "When through the woods and forest glades I wander . . . Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee, How great thou art!"

Sometimes we feel connected to God when we recognize His hand at work in our lives. This happened last month when I was in Texas helping my older sister move into her new home. We had just completed a shopping expedition to Target. She was exiting the mobile chair she used to navigate the aisles and the parking lot. I was getting into my seat on the passenger side of the car when I heard her call out, "Oh no, I'm falling." I couldn't get there in time to help. By the time I came around the car, there she was, on the ground, legs splayed in front of her. When someone stopped to ask how she could help, I sent her into Target to ask for assistance. 

Suddenly, a man stepped over from the next row of parked cars and said, "I can pick her up." I immediately replied, "No, you can't. Someone is coming from Target to help us. Wait for someone else to help you." But he insisted that he could pick her up. Sliding his arms under her arms, he lifted her and held her there briefly while she gained her footing. I truly believe that the Lord was looking out for us that day and sent this man to help us. I'm sure the Target employees would have insisted that we wait for an ambulance. I still have no idea how he was able to lift her from a seated position on the ground, but he did. And I believe he was there at that time for a reason. He was our angel!

Another way that we connect with God is when we trust in Him, when we trust in the power of faith to overcome fear and worry. I love this verse, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."  Anne Lamott says it this way: "...we do the next right thing. We tell the truth...We remember mustard seeds, that the littlest things will have great results. We do the smallest, realest, most human things. We water that which is dry." We connect with God and then we draw on His power to meet the challenges in our lives.

If you're interested, here's a post I discovered when I googled connect with God. You take a quiz to discover your worship personality and then you're directed to a variety of ways to connect with God via your particular worship personality.  

I'm looking forward to reading your posts about connection. Leave a comment with your link and I'll round up the posts. (Sorry, I don't know how to use Mr. Linky.)

Ruth reminds us that our connections are fraught with the pain of separation. She shares reassuring words from Henri J. M. Nouwen's book, Life of the Beloved. 

Irene shares what helps her feel connected and a book she's reading from every day this year. 

Margaret discovers a new connection to a friend after a funeral. She shares a poem and encourages us to seek meaningful, loving, and God-filled connections.  

Karen shares a new-to-me poem and reminds us that while connection may be what it's all about, it's also challenging work which her faith community has spent some time pursuing together. 

Carol has experienced a week filled with connections. She connects us each season with her gallery walks of photos and poetry. Her post is no exception. We're transported and connected to her garden by her words and poetry. 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Celebrating Three Months!

I used to participate in a weekly celebrate post. When our group evaporated, I decided to do a monthly celebrate post. I knew I had two months to write about, but a look back at my blog revealed that it's been three months since I celebrated. 

March 2019
  • Our yearly book club retreat  
  • Will's birthday
  • Christmas gift massage (nothing beats it for total relaxation)
  • Thirty-one days of slicing for the Slice of Life Challenge summarized in my post, Looking Back  
  • This glorious sunset on the last day of March
April 2019
  • Grandson Robby's arrival

  • Love these pics of springtime in DC
  • Celebrating National Poetry Month with a Skype visit with niece Kara's 4th graders in Oklahoma

May 2019
  • Brothers connect over a chat about cars
  • Our grandparent group met at Island Books to discuss Anna  Quindlen's new book Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting
  • Sara and her boys 
  •  Mother's Day in Virginia with Blake, Teddy, and Stefi

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Slice of Life: Pics of Old PIcs!

I've spent the last week in Bryan, Texas, helping my sis, Kay, and her husband, Ben, get settled in their new home. Last night, I pulled down one of her photo albums and immediately found myself wanting copies of quite a few pics. My latest strategy is to take a pic of the pic. And so today I'm sharing several pics taken 70+ years ago. 

My grandfather, Andrew T. Scifres, was a Baptist minister. He preached for the last time on April 29, 1945, at Mountain Home Baptist Church. He was 89 years old. Here's a picture that was taken on that day.
My grandfather, Andrew T., is on the back row, 7th person from the left. He's wearing suspenders.

He was the father of sixteen children, thirteen who lived to adulthood. He died on June 14, 1945, just six weeks after this picture was taken. He had three sons who had recently returned from serving in World War II: Lee who served in the US Navy and was at stationed at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed, and Elbert and Ellis (my father) who served in the US Army. 

The next few pictures were taken at my grandmother's funeral, Martha Ada, who died on June19, 1945. The first pic includes all the living children, except for Estelle who was not in attendance, the three children who died in childhood, and Cordie who  died in 1942.
 Front Row: Minnie Crownover, Melissa Ryan, Mary Howard, Ellis Scifres, Henry Scifres
Back Row: Perry Scifres, Hezakiah Scifres, Lee Scifres, Elbert Scifres, Jim Scifres, Alfred Scifres
Children of Andrew T. Scifres & Sarah Anlin Smith 
Front Row: Mary Howard, Melissa Ryan
Back Row: Perry Scifres, Hezakiah Scifres, Henry Scifres
Children of Andrew T. Scifres & Martha Ada Young
Left to right: Lee Scifres, Elbert Scifres, Jim Scifres, Ellis Scifres (my dad), Minnie Crownover, Alfred Scifres 

It's exciting to visit and label these old pictures. I'm grateful for my sis (nine years older than me) who knows who's who in each picture. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Slice of Life: Scary Territory (and a belated celebration)!

I'm at the airport, headed to Texas to help my sister move into a new home. Her truck arrived yesterday. She has water and electricity, but no internet! And she hasn't even scheduled it yet. So I asked about Starbucks and the local library. She didn't know where either one was located! Because even though I'm coming to help with the move, I still need to be able to connect. So I hopped online and found that yes, indeed, there is a local library and plenty of Starbucks. Whew! I'm breathing a bit easier. Now if the weather will cooperate, I should be there before too long. I'm willing to help, but don't ask me to do it without the internet.

And now it's on to the matter of my belated celebration! I was amazed last week when I opened blogger to see that I had reached my 1,000th post with last week's slice of life. Back in March during daily slicing, I noticed that this milepost was on the horizon. However, in my recent compulsion to record my photo slices and thoughts about my trip to Italy, I totally lost sight of it.
This morning, I scanned a few slices and noticed that I'm sharing my celebration of 1000 posts with Terje. She's my Estonian blogger friend who loves books and bookstores and pictures of nature and cups of tea as much as I do. An unexpected benefit of joining this community is the connection I feel with so many of you. I hesitate to start naming people because I'm sure I would leave someone out. I'm grateful for those I've met in real life and for those I know only through your words. Thank you for your kind words that encourage my writing and reading life! And now it's on to my gate and getting ready for Texas time!

Friday, May 17, 2019

Poetry Friday: Favorite Anthologies for Preschoolers!

has this week's round-up of poetic goodness.
Her students share nature pi-ku written on 
a day-long field trip to City Park. What fun! 

This week I'm sharing a stack of my favorite poetry anthologies for our youngest listeners. If you're not familiar with the two Prelutsky collections on the bottom, Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young and The 20th-Century Children's Poetry Treasury, then you should remedy that immediately. Both were favorites when my two were little, and I'm loving introducing them to the grandsons. Kay Chorao's lush illustrations in Baby's Bedtime Book accompany a variety of traditional rhymes, familiar favorites, and little known gems. Every household needs a Leaves From a Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson and a book of Mother Goose. I especially love this collection illustrated by Sylvia Long. The final two are newer discoveries, but still well-loved favorites. Julie Andrews refers to her anthology Julie Andrews' Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies (compiled with her daughter, Emma Hamilton) as a collection of their "favorite things." And Ken Nesbitt's One Minute till Bedtime: 60 Second Poems to Send You Off to Sleep is filled with poets you will recognize, some of them are Poetry Friday friends. So there you have it, seven favorite poetry anthologies for the youngest set! Leave a comment if you have a favorite anthology for preschoolers.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Slice of Life: Day 9 - Florence, Our Final Day of Fun!

Our first stop on our walking tour of Florence was the National Central Library of Florence, founded in 1714 when scholar Antonio Magliabechi bequeathed his entire collection of approximately 30,000 volumes to the city of Florence. Since 1870, the library has collected copies of all Italian publications. The flood of the Arno in 1966 damaged nearly one-third of the library's collection. It is a public library open to anyone 18 years and older.

Our next stop was the Piazza Santa Croce, the largest piazza in Florence. It is the site of the annual Calcio Storico, a violent game - a mix of soccer, rugby, and wrestling or boxing (depending on who is describing the game). The finals are played in June, but as our guide explained to us, that afternoon the Match of the Siege would be played at 4 on the piazza. We would be on our way back to Rome by then. Later that afternoon, we would see the teams and other representatives assembling from the four historic quarters of Florence for the corteo storico or "historic procession" before the game.  

The current structure of Santa Croce was begun in 1294, replacing an older building of the 1220s. It took almost a century to complete and lacked a facade. The Santa Croce is also referred to as the Temple of the Italian Glories since many notable Italians are buried there, including Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Alfieri, and Rossini. We were unable to tour the interior of the church since our visit occurred on Sunday when regular services were being held. The Jewish architect, Matas, designed the facade which was constructed from 1857 to 1863. A blue Star of David is near the top of the roof. Matas wanted to be buried inside Santa Croce, but due to his religion was buried under the porch.
The statue of Dante, erected in 1865 by sculptor Enrico Pazzi to commemorate the poet's 600th birthday, stands next to the church. 
Additional views near Santa Croce
 My beautiful traveling companions!
 Commemorative plaque for Michelangelo's birthplace
Gorgeous Florentine blue sky!

Palazzo Vecchio
The Palazzo Vecchio was completed in 1322 and was originally known as the Palazzo Popolo (Palace of the People), but later renamed to Palazzo Vecchio (Old Palace). From the 14th century on, Florentines gathered at the square for important political occasions and rulers often addressed the citizens here. Today the former palace is the Florence Town Hall.

Piazza della Signoria 
This L-shaped square in front of the Palazzo Vecchio is Florence's most important square. It has been the cultural, political, and social heart of the city since the 14th century and remains a significant gathering place for Florentines and tourists.

Loggia de Lanzi is an open air sculpture gallery built between 1376 and 1382 to house the assemblies of the people and hold public ceremonies. 

Perseus with the Head of Medusa 
by Benvenuto Cellini (1554)
 The Rape of the Sabine Women
by Giambologna, completed in 1583

 Ponte Vecchio
The most famous bridge in Florence was built across the Arno in 1220. The structure seen today dates from 1345, a replacement for the earlier bridge which was destroyed by a flood.
The houses across the bridge were initially used as workshops and a diverse array of shopkeepers did business here. In 1593, Duke Ferdinand I decided to replace them with goldsmiths and jewelers because the shops produced too much garbage and foul smells. 

 Views of the River Arno from Ponte Vecchio

 Piazzo del Duomo
The baptistery was first constructed in the 6th century and completely rebuilt as a Romanesque octagonal structure beginning in 1059.  In 1128, it was consecrated as the baptistery of Florence and is the oldest religious moment in Florence.
The baptistery doors are the great treasures of this building. The Northern Doors are copies of the originals by Lorenzo Ghiberti and depict stories of the life and passion of Christ taken from the New Testament. Ghiberti's Eastern Doors, the Gates of Paradise, received their name by Michelangelo who is believed to have exclaimed: "They are so beautiful that they would be perfect for the gates of paradise." The doors consist of 10 rectangular panels that depict scenes of the Old Testament from left to right and from top to bottom. The doors displayed today are copies, the originals are at the Opera del Duomo Museum. 
The Duomo (cathedral) of Florence was originally designed by 
Arnolfo di Cambio in 1294. Work began in 1296, but would take more than 140 years to complete. The dome was built from 1420 to 1436. The cathedral facade however was not complete until 1887.
The freestanding bell tower, or campanile, is the work of Giotti who was appointed chief architect of the cathedral some years after Arnolfo's death.

The Accademia 
This art school and museum houses the original of Michelangelo's David. From the 18th century on, this is where Florentine artists were trained. Nothing prepared me for seeing the majesty of this David. Almost 17 feet tall, the statue was carved from one block of marble from the Carrara marble quarries.

Then it was time for lunch in the Mercato Centrale, a two-story glass and stone building erected in 1874. Every possible kind of produce from Tuscany is available here. 

There's something lovely about encountering street musicians playing classical music on a street in Florence. I actually recorded their impromptu concert. Listening to it immediately transports me to Italy and the delightful memories of our trip.

After lunch we had a bit of time for shopping. Our guide highly recommended this establishment for hot chocolate. We were not disappointed! 

We followed the steady drum beats to see the assembling of men in costume representing the four neighborhoods of Florence. They would be part of a historic procession through the streets before the Match of the Siege game that was scheduled for that afternoon at Santa Croce. 

Then it was time for the long walk back to our hotel and our bus ride back to Rome. We enjoyed a farewell dinner with our group before heading to bed for a few hours of sleep.

This was the view that greeted us as we arrived at the almost deserted Rome airport at 3:30 am on Monday morning.
Arriverderci, Italy!
You captured our hearts and we hope to return someday. 

(Sunday, February 17, 2019)