Our body and our minds can take us only so far.
Our spirit can lead us all the way home.
It is in the colorful changing of seasons that I feel as if my heart renews into a deeper hue, a truer tone. The masterpiece is in the beauty of the land, but the magic happens deep in one’s soul. The autumn palette always makes me feel more strongly about life around me. I feel the need to match the colors and enhance them and blend them into a new portrait.
Why is the desire of autumn more intense, more desirable to me? Perhaps it’s because I feel in colors and think in tones. That somehow makes me an artist, and I can paint my own journey and write the stories that present themselves along the path.
The quieter you become the more you can hear.
Listen here to “Autumn Leaves”
I most often take you down New Journeys on Old Roads, but in April, you can ride with me along some New Roads I’ve never traveled. We can stop and dip our toe in the Atlantic along Florida’s beaches, breathe in the salty magic of the ocean, ponder the history of the struggles of a people, and feed our soul on the blues music of the Deep South. We’ll drive Atlantic Ocean’s 1-A1 Route viewing Florida’s coastal lighthouses. We’ll visit the sprawling Naval Station Norfolk, largest naval station in the world. At the halfway point of the tour, we’ll enter the southern portion of the 2,000 miles of the Appalachian & Allegheny Mountains. Before I bring you back home, we’ll visit FAME Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals AL and see some musical collections in Memphis. But don’t worry…after I drive you out of the Deep South, we’ll celebrate more music in the dazzling and magical Ozark Mountains before we turn south to the Red River and back to TX.
Magical Musical Historical Tour
Beginning on the Historic Bankhead Highway Route, we’ll leave North TX along I-20 into the East Texas Forests, through Caddo Parish LA along Highway 80 to the Bossier Strip casinos.
We’ll cross the Mississippi River in Vicksburg MS where the river boats roll, and we’ll imagine the captain might be Mark Twain.
Just south of Vicksburg is Natchez, MS. The historic Natchez Trace Parkway is a forest trail extending roughly 440 miles from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi, linking the Cumberland (in TN) and Mississippi Rivers.
At the point where we pull onto the Trace, you’ll need to be ready to pause & reflect upon one of the harshest exercises of US laws—the Indian Removal Act of 1830. By 1838, over 100,000 Native Americans Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole were forcibly relocated from the rich fertile soil of their ancestral homes in the South to a newly cleared desolate dirt land called “Indian Territory” (present day OK). This “herding” has been called the “Trail of Tears”; more than 15,000 died on the trail.
At the Forks of the Road intersection in Natchez, in the decades before the Civil War, this marketplace was where enslaved Africans were brought from southern plantations to be bought & sold. For this reason, The Trace is sometimes referred to as the “Slavery Trail of Tears.” After arriving in the southern part of the Trace, slaves were marched to the Mississippi River to be placed on barges for delivery to owners. The 13th Amendment ended slavery in the US 1865.
I can’t be only a history seeker—I must feed my other passion—MUSIC
The most prominent highway in blues lore was U.S. Highway 61. With the advancement of the automobile & national highway system in the 20s & 30s, the blues, jazz & spirituals by African Americans singing about the riverboats, trains & railroads expanded. The sound, too long trapped in the Deep South, moved along this same trail as other historical migrations. From the Birthplace of the Blues in New Orleans, moving northward through Memphis, St. Louis and eventually to St. Paul changing music for centuries to come.
About 3 hours later, we’ll pull into Selma Alabama, the location of another type of cultural crisis occurring in the 20th century playing out in an ugly horrific scene on March 7, 1965. Known as “Bloody Sunday,” African-Americans seeking voting rights crossed Edmund Pettus Bridge to walk to the capitol in Montgomery. They were met by law enforcement on foot and horseback blocking the way off the bridge; many were beaten including now-congressman John Lewis. By March 21st, accompanied by the Alabama National Guard under federal command, the march was peacefully completed once again led by John Lewis and joined by Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King and Andrew Young. In August 1965 President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Voting Act.
The next stop on this Magical Musical Historical Tour is St. Augustine FL. I’ve never traveled to FL so I picked this scenic city with a rich history.
Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States. Its prominence and location made it ripe for trade & settlement but also a target for invaders and pirates. The territory suffered through multiple turmoil during its history including marauding European Empires’ explorers, Civil War Confederacy, the Civil Rights Violence, and persistent developers trying to quickly buy it up as the “winter haven” for the northern rich.
St. Augustine Lighthouse
The scenic drive along the Southeastern Coast’s A-1A features numerous lighthouses–a landmark I try to visit in all my travels.
When we leave St. Augustine by way of US Highway 17, I’ll do my best to not get lost as we cross rivers, inlets and bays tracking along the shore for most of its 1,000 miles parallel to I-95 from Punta Gorda, Florida to Winchester, Virginia. We’ll cover some 665 miles through places which are little more than a small country road, while in others it’s a main thoroughfare. I’ve identified some 15 bridges along the way…and may I say this is a “challenge” for me!
We’ll visit the sprawling Naval Station, the largest Navy station in the world, supporting 75 ships & 134 aircraft alongside – 14 piers and 11 aircraft hangars housing the largest concentration of US Navy forces. The air operations conduct nearly 300 flights a day on average totaling over 100,000 arrivals/departures each year.90 miles southeast of Richmond VA, Norfolk is about 18 miles from the Atlantic Ocean near the popular beach town of Virginia Beach bordered by Chesapeake Bay and Hampton Road Harbor.
Family Time – where life begins and love never ends
(unknown author but I’ve decided to make it mine!)
I’m spending some time with my new great granddaughter. She’s a big part of this journey–pretty good reason.
After a while, we’ll say our goodbyes and I’ll begin a NW route where we’ll encounter the Appalachian Mountains, the Shenandoah River and into the Monongahela National Forest. The Forest comprises 1/3 of the Allegheny Mountains, and, as such, part of the Appalachian Range forming the East Continent Divide.
Family Time – where life begins and love never ends
In Elkins I’ll visit with my son & daughter-in-law who live on a piece of beautiful property backed up to the Monongahela National Forest with their horses & cats. Some TX sized stories will be shared and then I’ll load up for the SW run to TN.
The city of Knoxville is one of the gateways to the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, its location at the confluence of three major rivers in the Tennessee Valley brought flat boat and steamboat traffic creating one of the South Eastern’s merchandising areas. Between the ridge-valley of the Appalachian Mountains and Cumberland Plateau, Chattanooga is called the “Scenic City.
…a musical note here…city made famous in the 1941 song “Chattanooga Choo Choo by Glenn Miller. (if you don’t know or just want to hear again, here’s the song).
What is THE MUSCLE SHOALS SOUND?
It won’t surprise you that my Magical Musical Historical Tour calls for a detour here in Northern AL. It has been said of this lonely-looking building there is a quiet magic in the air. There are tours of this iconic studio so I’m going to experience the magic!
Artists from the Deep South and some from outside the South gathered with the local musicians to create their own sound at FAME (Florence Alabama Music Enterprise).
Detroit rocker Bob Seger’s signature song — “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll” — began as a demo tape at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. An engineer’s mistake gave the song its distinctive da-da-da intro. Seger liked the sound and kept it in the final song.
Over the years, some of the artists who recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio included The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Willie Nelson, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Joe Cocker, Levon Helm, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Rod Stewart, Cat Stevens, Elton John, Boz Scaggs, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Dr. Hook, Julian Lennon, Oak Ridge Boys, Cher, Alman Brothers, and Glenn Frey
I could talk music all day, but I’ll leave you with a couple sites you can visit for more details.
Bet I’ll be singing some of those great songs recorded at FAME as I turn NW out of AL headed to a sundown in one of the most beautiful river towns in the Deep South—defined as a region stretching from Memphis TN in the north to Vicksburg MS in the south and from Helena AR in the west to the Yazoo River in the east. I’ll be entering the city on part of the Blues Highway 51 that carries the name of the undisputed King of Rock ‘n Roll Elvis Presley Blvd. Highway 51, a north/south terminus, runs parallel with Highway 61 visited in the beginning of this tour
There is no other thing that captures my mind and soul like music. That’s why I keep coming back to revisit the “never-since-replicated” music of the 50s & 60s. Not only is it part of my “coming of age” timeline, but these songs form the base of my musical interests. You’ll remember we began this Magical Musical Historical Tour on the Mississippi & Blues Highway 61. We now come back to visit more of the sounds of the Delta.
This will set the tone for the places I’ll walk:
Scholars disagree as to whether there is a substantial musicological difference between blues that originated in the Mississippi Delta and blues from other parts of the country. They note the defining characteristics of Delta blues are instrumentation and an emphasis on rhythm; the songs are typically expressed in the first person and often concern love, sex, the traveling, lifestyle, life’s tribulations, sin, salvation and death.
The list of musicians who got their start in Memphis reads like a Who’s Who of music royalty. Led by “the King” you can add Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison Booker T & the MGs, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Al Green, Percy Sledge, Sam & Dave and B.B. King.
There are so many landmarks to visit, I’ll just mention a few:
- Beale Street (national historical landmark);
- Sam Phillips’ Sun Studio;
- Stax Records (soul sound grittier than Motown);
- Heartbreak Hotel;
I’m taking a tour of the Rock & Soul Museum; here is their site for details. You may want to make the museum part of your next trip.
While lost in my thoughts and the tunes of blues, I must not forget Memphis is home to Tennessee’s largest African-American population and played a prominent role in the American Civil Rights Movement. The city on the Mississippi was the site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination at the Loraine Motel. The city hosts the National Civil Rights Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate institution. There is also an outside museum at the Loraine Motel.
I’ll make my final crossing over the Mississippi as I leave out of Memphis, taking a NW road through the Mark Twain National Forest on Highway 60. That day’s journey will bring me to Branson MO.
It’s been called a “Nashville in the Ozarks” first developed in the 1960s, the theaters of Branson abound with various musical shows, revues & good food on the lake. Theaters bear the names of heavy weights in the industry: Andy Williams Moon River, Glen Campbell Goodtime, Roy Clark, Oak Ridge Boys, Wayne Newton, Ray Stevens, Mel Tillis, Osmond Brothers, Lawrence Welk Orchestra, and Bobby Vinton Blue Velvet.
No matter how I love the music, nothing can surpass the allure of the mist on the Ozarks. Mountains, I hear your song!
This Texan always feels the flat lands of OK/TX calling me home. A turn southwest out of the Ozarks leads you across that territory I first mentioned called “Indian Territory” My grandfather was born there before it became the state of OK.
But we’re not through with rivers yet. We will cross the Arkansas, a major tributary of the Mississippi River flowing east/southeast across Arkansas and Oklahoma. At 1,469 miles (2,364 km), it is the sixth-longest river in the US & the second-longest tributary in the Mississippi-Missouri system…and the 45th longest river in the world.
I know the last river I’ll cross is the one mentioned in the songs of “Western Swing” and “Cowboy Songs” my daddy sang.
Waylon Jennings sings about that place in his lyrics:
But when you cross that ol’ Red River hoss, That just don’t mean a thing
Once you’re down in Texas, Bob Wills is still the King
Crossing the Red River joining OK/TX makes my heart beat a little faster, my feet feel more solid, and draws my gaze to the sparce vegetation. We’ll quickly begin to see a line of 200-300 ft wind turbines utilizing all the wind-swept vastness of these plains.
Magical Musical Historical Tour
As a seeker of history, I must remain open to other’s stories and other’s experiences. That is the only way we humans can mend our differences and understand what happens around us.
The musical portion is not a side “note” for me but an integral part of my being. I listen to music not only for the beat or rhythm but for the depth of someone’s soul displayed in the sounds of words or relationship of the notes & chords that come forth.
If you have visited some of these areas, please let me know of your experience. I’ll come back to this post and give you some highlights of this
Note: please read my comment policy under “My Rules”
There was never a night or a problem that could defeat sunrise or hope.
Angels are like lighthouses passing by in the storms
We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive.
He who is devoid of the power to forgive
is devoid of the power to love.
There is some good in the worst of us
and some evil in the best of us.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Drive me back to yesterday and
let’s remember when
dreams were big and we were young
the way it was back then.
We’ll dance to the songs on the radio
and laugh with all our friends
remembering a simple time
the way it was back then.
It happens to all of us sooner or later…more or less frequently. We think we’ll just toss out the map and not even use the GPS directions. “Of course I know the way.” “I can find it in my sleep.” “No, I’m not lost…I’m just not there yet.”
Then it happens! You have to slow down, lower your head, breathe deeply and clear your mind. Well, isn’t that why I’m lost…because I cleared my mind!
I hear myself whispering to myself:
I could have found the location if they hadn’t built all those houses and stores.
Of course, I know how to get there even if they’ve changed the road.
Yes, it’s a familiar road but when did they build the new highway that goes the wrong direction?
That’s what life is about.
Change. Progress. Update. Different. New.
Why do those things bother me so much?
In this space, I offer you a look at New Journeys on Old Roads. It’s more to me than that. It’s the place I throw my thoughts on a blank page. Come along. We’ll find it together. I’m back on track.
“The real voyage of discovery consists in not seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” Marcel Proust
MILE MARKER 1
YOU ARE INVITED
…to travel with me across some of the 268,820 square miles of TX over the next few months. The contrasting topography with its wide-open spaces, mountains, hills and valleys, river boundaries, and shorelines (longer than either SC or NC) defines the State of Texas. Its unique “shape” marked by jagged edges, curves and straight lines is internationally recognized.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Multiple incursions and battles between Native Americans, settlers, frontiersmen, soldiers and conquerors established, refined and changed Texas. Long after half of the United States was settled with stable growth, Texas fought for and won its independence from Mexico in 1836. Known for its “independent” attitude and spirit, Texas cannot help but be a product of its upbringing.
Texas history doesn’t fit easily into a timeline or narrative because Texas has had many frontiers and a collection of settlers broader than most states. The story of Texas was still in its formation and infancy when missionaries, explorers, ranchers, immigrants, tradesmen and families pushed into the regions of the canyons along the Rio Grande River, the bayous along the Gulf of Mexico, East to the Sabine River and Piney Woods, and North to the Red River ultimately harnessing the vast arid land of the Panhandle Plains.
ONE TEXAS TRAVELER
Traveling back roads and lesser known towns often provide the untold story or long-forgotten history. These posted segments are NOT intended to be an official Travelogue or History record. I’m simply a TEXAS TRAVELER who is intrigued by the geography of Texas and compelled to peek in on some of the dusty old corners of Texas courthouses and buildings. Through the Texas Historical Commission’s Courthouse Preservation Program and Main Street Cities, travelers have available to the them revitalized downtown areas offering restaurants, businesses, shops, museums, and historic buildings and architecture.
Left: Chisholm Trail sign, Decatur, TX; Middle: Majestic Theatre, Eastland TX; Right: Main Street, Junction TX
Hopefully you’ll discover something new about Texas or find a place you’d like to visit. Come back soon for new information and photos. I will be posting various sources and references for travel to or within the State of Texas. Some travel tips will direct you to a specific historic site, an Interstate road or multiple paths to get you from here to there. But just as intriguing are the off-road experiences when you leave the bypass and head to the “historic downtown.” You never know who you’ll meet in the city square with a monument to their memory.
Maybe you’ll find your own reason to travel~
Perhaps you share the same wandering spirit I possess.
Don’t need a map to get there—
you can get there from anywhere
when you’re going in your head.
DISCOVERING THE STORY
Whose name is on that building? And is the year scripted in stone when it was built? What exactly is in a name? Proprietors once had their name proudly displayed on the building’s façade, or in other cases, they had it set in tile at the building’s entrance. That street has an unusual name. Why is the street sign in German? A lot of the names are Hispanic. Was that an old depot? There’s always a story.
Here is part of mine.
- I was born in a small town in West Texas called Eastland (see how that works?)
- I even grew up in a small town in South Texas – Clute.
- I recently revisited Abilene (medium-sized town in West Texas where I lived in 60s-70s)
- After years of living in Ft. Worth, I found another small town in which to retire.
Small towns have a uniqueness that can be either loved or loathed. You know there’s no Starbucks™ and the chain restaurants are limited or nonexistent. The high school sports and activities bring out the entire community limiting when the town’s businesses close down on Friday nights. You’ll see monuments to veterans of various wars. You may arrive just as the parade begins (and you don’t even know why there is a parade!) There is probably more than one festival or celebration each year. In the county seats of government, you’ll find the “old courthouse” either serving as current business for the county or maybe standing only as a museum or historic site now. It’s not uncommon to see US flags staked and waving in the wind or booths set up around the square.
Left to Right: Jackson County, Edna; Hood County, Granbury; next 3 Wharton County, Wharton
Don’t be surprised if there are antique cars parked around the courthouse square. If you love small-town living, you’ve found your paradise because those town squares still exist. If you want to be amid the hustle and bustle of business, trade and entertainment, you’re probably happier in the city.
I enjoy trading the comforts of a city for the local café with its mismatched dishes. I feel comfortable in small towns so that is where I began and continue my story of adventure. More than a year ago, I set out on a mission of traveling old roads as part of my conceptualized blog –
NEW JOURNEYS ON OLD ROADS
Those words described the revolution within myself. I was moving from some health issues to a more normal and peaceful place. Blessed beyond my expectations, I was able to retire, and found I could return to traveling and discovering. I became much more confident so I set out to mark my new journeys. I didn’t know how many miles that idea would include. If you’ve traveled here with me before, you know Music is my Second Language; therefore many of my travels are woven into and scheduled around concerts, live performances, bands and oprys.
Many of the towns I put on my list to visit were remembered from my Daddy’s stories—he had traveled EVERYWHERE! My mother gave me insight into some of the little farm towns or the oilfield towns of the 30s, 40s, 50s. My grandparents were travelers, too. They often traveled to CA. How far was that? I wondered.
As a second thought – but maybe because I’m a lover of history – I started looking at courthouses. Those old buildings, with both new and innovative architectural designs, seem to be standing not so much as a beacon of activity and business but more as a starting point to see how the Texas residents, settlers, landowners and government representatives designed the past to shape its future.
Texas was settled with immigrants from Germany, Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, South American countries and Baltic States as well as the African-Americans here as slaves and the Native Americans (estimated around 50 tribes in the region.
These original immigrant founders constructed what they had seen in the Classical Revival, the Romanesque or imagined other architectural styles. I find all architecture design intriguing (even if some of these historic sites are a bit ugly). The blending of many cultures is evident in the architecture, town names, or artwork in Texas.
Hood County, Granbury Texas, Second Empire with Romanesque.
Burleson County Courthouse, Caldwell, Classical Revival
THE TRAIL’S END
The State found itself looking for methods to rebuild war-torn Texas after the Civil War. Other than crops (impossible to grow in some regions of Texas), stock trade became the primary means of trade and livelihood bringing about the well-known history of the “cowboy” life style. Brahman cattle were imported from India, and the Longhorn breed was specific to Spanish settlement. Early cattle drives were initiated by Nelson Story and Charles Goodnight. Cattle were driven across the Chisholm and other trails to railheads (i.e., Abilene KS/Dodge City KS/Ft. Worth TX).
Life on the open range changed forever with the invention of barbed wire. Fences, combined with the back to back killer winters of 1886 and 1887, changed the cattle industry.
The need for water for stock and way stations for people/goods traveling the stagecoach and pony express routes created stopovers and towns simply for the need of water. I’ll introduce you to some of these towns in later segments. Many of the original routes are preserved today as a testament to the harshness of Texas and the strength of those who shaped it. Once Texas roads served to provide wealth and distribution of product. Now some roads lead you through towns in major decline. These roads have witnessed the new highways and interstates and re-routed railroads all whispering the cycles of boom and bust telling the story through generations of the land and its people.
Not only the geography and climate of TX reflects the differences, but the ways in which towns grew to cities and rural turned to urban.
A traveler to Texas should never make an assumption that all of Texas has oil wells, cattle, gun-toting citizens or cowboy hats. Yes, you will absolutely find those, but you’ll find the folks in business suits handling the business of oil/gas production, real estate and financial services. You will definitely see the workers in the oil/gas fields wearing flame resistant coveralls and covered in dirt and mud. But you’ll also witness advanced technology utilized by oilfield crews.
You’ll see many Texans devoted to the fine arts with world-class music, art and design displayed in the performance halls and museums, community theatres and town centers across the state. Hundreds of universities and colleges with various concentration (i.e., Technical, Liberal Arts, Science & Health, Agricultural & Energy) are preparing tomorrow’s workers, owners and educators for an ever-growing Texas which should be able to rise & develop future energy systems as well as advancements in science health and product development.
Left: WagnerNoël PAC Midland/Odessa TX; Right: Bass Hall, Ft. Worth TX
 http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h306.html  Texas Historical Commission www.texastimetravel.com the.state.tx.us (512) 463-6100 c. 2014.  Lyrics to Ozark Mountain Jubilee recorded by The Oak Ridge Boys; Songwriters: SCOTT ANDERS, ROGER MURRAH © EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group; Release 1983.
To begin your Texas travel journey, visit:
Texas State Travel Guide is a comprehensive directory for all the elements of your Texas adventure. www.TravelTex.com
NEXT SEGMENT: MILE MARKER 2
How to Visit Small Town, Texas
Texas Roads – from dirt to Interstate
Geographical Regions – Climate & Energy
Travel Regions Highlighting Historic Sites
County Courthouse Stories
Town & Cities & People
Cultural Influence & Festivals
Mysteries & Ghost Towns
Interesting Facts About Texas
Don’t let anyone rob you of your joy;
Don’t let anyone discount your ability;
Don’t let anyone discredit your knowledge;
Don’t let anyone reduce your security & comfort;
Don’t let anyone prohibit your future safety net;
Don’t let anyone make your choices for you;
Don’t let anyone denounce you or ridicule you;
Don’t give away what is rightfully yours.
It’s your life ~
take control ~
be courageous ~
be honest ~
be fair ~
When I find it hard to go on without those who’ve gone,
I turn to songs.
I mix a potion to heal my wounded heart by melding
lyrics to those songs.
When I seek to bring hope and peace to others,
I write words that rhyme.
But when I try to say how you touched my life,
I find the music is out of tune and out of time.
I know this dissonance surely can’t be right.
But I know One who can calm the troubled shores~
One who loves no matter what – and then even more~
One who says, “You don’t have to do it all alone.”~
I’ll stay with you through the darkness of the journey home.
I can feel when we’ve turned the corner into light.
I reach deep inside for the music that strengthens my heart.
I listen quietly, the prayers take rise, and the music starts.
With your memory close inside me for the lonely times,
I’ll come back again and sing to you the words I’ve I turned into rhymes.
I had the chance to drive through my birthplace a few days ago. Does anyone know what you are supposed to feel when you re-visit the past? I didn’t have a plan or a place to put that experience. But when you arrive, you might as well see it all.
It’s just Small Town, Texas. It has the obligatory “old” post office, the usual run-down Main street, and more than one place that is older than me! The highways leading to it are either farms, crops growing or dying from drought, “fracking” for natural gas sites or oil wells pumping. The land is so flat you truly can see for miles!
I felt a little warm hug when I turned off the Interstate and saw that “welcome to” sign. It’s not like I was raised there–only first grade then we moved. But I am sure I saw some shadows around the old theatre and the original hotel of folks who had lived there longer than I’ve been alive. Those kind of towns don’t change much. They don’t usually have a Starbucks or a dozen choices of drive thru restaurants. They still conduct business at the courthouse on the town square. There are still a few stores operating on the perimeter of the square. And they usually have a “town opry” or a “fairgrounds”or at least a “city park” or “town square.”
Not sure what I expected to do on that short drive through town. But it did make me feel grateful that some things, like Small Town, Texas, still exist. They make good places to drive into and out of taking just a little piece of memory. Most of the tour around town was more in my mind than through my camera lens. I probably can’t explain what I felt to anyone, but then, they are my own memories. So glad I took that turn off the fast lane.
Back to the Interstate, set the cruise control, and head on toward more flat land in west Texas.
It is often hard to distinguish between the hard knocks in life and those of opportunity. ~Frederick Phillips
Seize every opportunity along the way, for how sad it would be if the road you chose became the road not taken. ~Robert Brault
A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties. ~Harry Truman
Grasp your opportunities, no matter how poor your health; nothing is worse for your health than boredom. ~Mignon McLaughlin
Today is the first anniversary of this blog, so I wanted to let you know I appreciate your spending time here.
If you’ve been traveling with me for the last year, THANK YOU for hopping on board.
If you are reading this post and visiting this blog for the first time, WELCOME to my journey.
If I could write a blueprint for living, I would wrap it in love, tie it with ribbons of hugs & present it to you anytime you need to be reminded you are God’s child.”
I hope my message has been clear, both to my children & grandchildren. I believe in treasuring the wonderful times & even the troubled days…for how can you know you are blessed if you haven’t seen the other side.
To say that I’m in my second “life” would be an understatement…I’m living again and maybe fully for the first time…but I can clearly see it’s right for this time.
When I retired, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do. I thought my purpose was over. Now I’m finally understanding that I am here EVERY DAY for a purpose. It has amazed me the people who have followed my blog or tweets who connect because of a comparable belief, thought or interest. I never imagined some of those casual contacts would become true friends across the miles – but that’s what has happened. I didn’t imagine either that old acquaintances would re-visit me emerging from this new tool.
I’m honored to hear from my readers with comments such as:
- “I needed your thought today”
- “Thank you for caring”
- “ Welcome to my world”
- “Hope to meet you”
- “Good to see your post”
With a dream in my heart, I knew it was time to live it! Nothing fades faster than an opportunity not explored. Writing has been my passion, so I began this journey one year ago. It is here on these blank pages I can pour out my thoughts, beliefs, ideas & words. It has become my peaceful place to offer a word of encouragement or a lesson learned in my life.
Having come through some health issues, daily I’m grateful I’m still standing upright & even standing! I’m really careful about where I step, walk & things I do…but for the most part…I’m trekking down paths I never thought I would be able to explore.
New Journeys on Old Roads has become more than just a title for my blog; it has come to describe my life more than I ever imagined.
- Sometimes the roads are rough, so I slow down and approach with caution.
- Sometimes they have detours, so I look for an alternate route.
- Sometimes they are brand new black-topped roads over what used to be dirt, so I speed up a bit.
- Sometimes I get lost…but I get out my map, connect to my GPS, and try again…a lot like what happens when you fall down or fail.
If something I’ve presented here has been helpful, I invite you to post a comment or contact me in other methods listed here on this blog.
THANK YOU FOR TRAVELING WITH ME ON MY
NEW JOURNEYS ON OLD ROADS!
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”
― John Donne, No Man Is An Island
Sometimes it feels that the world gets smaller each time a person’s life is lost. I appreciate that it’s human to feel a twinge of sadness even if you didn’t know the person. Even if you knew someone that knew the person, it should render us at least sympathetic.
Then sometimes we go for a while and the memory gets less. Maybe we should pledge to never let the memory become so vague it walks out of our thoughts.
Home is one of the hardest words to define. Is it the building? Is it the geographic location? Is it where I’m from but not where I am at the moment? Is it the collection of people who are relatives? Can it be a group of people who aren’t related? What if you can’t define home?
Being a product of the “baby boom generation,” I finished high school in the mid 60s living in a peaceful, suburban area where all the kids looked alike—middle income and white. There was another world out there that most of us never saw—the race riots, horrors of the War in Vietnam, new discoveries in space and astonishing acts of violence that took the lives of a president, a presidential candidate’s and a race relations leader.
I was on the tail end of a generation where young women were making their choices of an advanced degree in college or homemaking and motherhood. I never regretted the road I chose. I just see it so differently now in a generation twice removed how the roles have changed & women are allowed/accepted women in many roles i.e., professional wife/mother; single mother; adoptive mother to children of the family or from other families and even foreign countries. Lines are more blurry now of who is related to whom and who is a good role model.
I know the definition and the difference between home & family. I know the words don’t mean the same to everyone. For me, the choice was part of who I was growing up to become. I completely felt the need to follow my young husband first to college, then into the ministry, then the military, and back to college to complete a degree.
Before I was old enough to vote, I was a mother. I became a mother the second time 2 years & 8 days from the birth of my first child. I reveled in that role with full commitment and understanding. How could I achieve that so young? Because I had seen family and home in my life as being the safe place where we live. It is the place we hone our skills of personality & acceptance.
There is forever that “leaving” that happens when children reach a certain age. And who in the world can find what that perfect age is? For me it was a way to be with the man I loved and start our family. Those little tiny packages that came on hot summer days in the years of 1967 & 1969 were the most precious little human beings I had ever seen. They were the perfect companion for a life I was to live. They were sweet, loving and so cute; they had tempers, crying spells and their own little personalities. And, in the end, I was left to build and modify the mold in which they would be shaped.
Experiencing some changes just as the beauty of glass comes after the heat of the elements, I was alone to take them into their teen years & adulthood. How could I do it? Who would I lean on and turn to?
…there’s no other word that conjures up for me the feelings of peace and strength. In family I find encouragement and understanding. I had such a huge lesson to teach my children and I didn’t know where to start. How could I instill in them the importance of relying on each other? How could I be sure they would always do the right thing when I wasn’t always there? What would be their choices when I let them make those choices.
Suffice it to say I was in fear of this huge responsibility. But, time was marching on; and as each orbit marked a day upon a day, I knew one of those days was THE moment when I let them choose and make their path.
Oh, how could I be sure they’d ever come back home? What would I do if they failed? How could I be there for them when time & space wouldn’t allow it?
…the never-ending self-sufficient heart-warming kind of feelings that would translate to trust and safety. Did I need to worry about them in their lives? Of course, I would but I didn’t NEED to because I had equipped them with the best tools I knew: love, trust, faith, friends, family and a HUGE amount of self-worth and purpose to which I added load of hugs. I then added my words of trust and confirmed to them that I knew they had made good choices. It was such a hard time, BUT I EVENTUALLY GREW UP!
Forty plus years later I can see I need not have worried about how and what they would choose. They have gone through the same questions I did. They have made good and bad choices. They have learned from certain mistakes but they have kept their faith and love close to their heart and have given it to those with whom they surround themselves.
I didn’t need to worry at all. I didn’t need to lose sleep waiting up for them. I had no real reasons to check on them even when they said “it’s all good.”
I didn’t have to…but I wanted to! I wanted them to remember that home & family are the place you find the strength to take your first baby steps and those young adult bigger steps and the huge giant steps when you create your own little human beings.
I humbly say, “I’ve done well.” But so can they…they can be proud of where they are in their life now and what it took to get there.
Want to come home? Need to come home? Sure that’s an option, but I’m much happier they’ve made their own homes with those they love.
Good job, kids!This post is dedicated to my children who recently had August birthdays..and to my granddaughters who are on their own now making choices. My advice is: pray about your life; work at it; stay true to yourself; think of others…and most of all…learn how to love and be loved. Life is a fabulous gift…use it well. Johnny Mathis “I’m Coming Home”
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I’m sure at one time or another you’ve been just absolutely BLANK–nothing is in your mind let alone anything that is interesting.
Sometimes your mind is just VACANT…but a Blogger or Writer is supposed to have loads of material…so they write about it. Yes, IT! You must write about the NOTHINGNESS that sits before you.
It’s even worse when you are a Traveler & Dreamer and that BARE and EMPTY feeling comes over you. Where do you go? What do you look for? Oh, thank goodness, there’s a sign up ahead that will help me.
Oh, No! It feels like a episode of Twilight Zone and I’m traveling in Area 51…
Now I wish I was an artist so I could draw you a picture of my mind!
But because there’s nothing there how can I give you details?
Because my mind is void of thought, I can only say:
Words have deserted me.
I am silenced!
It finally happened!
People are like stained glass windows: They sparkle & shine when the sun’s out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there’s light within.Elizabeth Kübler Rossphoto by Van'14 Ryman Auditorium, Nashville TN
INSTALLMENT #1 TRAVELOGUE OF 2 SISTERS ROAD TRIP
Have you ever made so many U-turns you’re not sure if you are headed back to the beginning or on a completely different route?
That recently happened to me on a road trip. Best laid plans and all that! Had maps marked, turn-by-turn directions, GPS, and many other devices that should have made the traveling a little easier. But, you know, when you pass up that exit and you’re in the wrong lane, things fall apart right then.
And it doesn’t even have to be on a multi-lane interstate. It can be a highway junction in a small town that throws you off. Seems more and more junctions are being laid out to give an “easier” way around the town. Large or small, roads can get you mis-routed in an instant.
So after you try a couple of new perspectives on it and you’ve still not found your connection, you do the unthinkable: ASK FOR DIRECTIONS FROM A LOCAL. That doesn’t often turn out well even from the first statement when they begin:
You know where the old post office was? Well, you go down four or five or maybe six blocks and you turn by the old gas station. ‘course it’s closed down now and they’ve bulldozed it all down and widened the street there. I think it’s a flea market now or something.”
If I knew things like that and if I was from ‘round these parts’ I probably wouldn’t be asking for directions. Just then another voice chimes in:
“You know where old man Smith’s place is? It’s past that a bit…can’t miss it”
Oh, my, hasn’t that been helpful? You smile and return to the car and try to readjust your antennae…and, with a renewed spirit you start toward the old post office.
But I’ve learned in traveling (as in life) if you have to turn around and try again, something different will happen. It won’t be the same journey [even if you do see old man Smith’s place]…and you may still be lost. Why didn’t you ask them to draw you a map? But then why would their map be any better than all the ones you got from the travel agent, the state or the one you pulled up on your smart phone?
Oh, gosh, do you think that place we just passed was old man Smith’s!! I know the guy said ‘can’t miss it’ but I think we just did.
On one dreary afternoon when my sister and I realized we weren’t anywhere close to being able to tackle the up-coming city (because of an “alternate” road we’d taken in our approach), we made a major decision. We just threw all caution to the wind, tossed the state & city map into the back seat and braved the city one street at a time.
My comment was: You know our parents and grandparents traveled across this great United States in the 30s,40s & 50s with no map. Surely we can do it.
And we did. We found more things in that city than they’ve ever put on a tourist guide. We found beautiful scenery, expensive homes in a well-to-do suburb (even a Frank Lloyd Wright designed house). We located and identified six various kinds of art deco architecture within a 4-block area of downtown. We tasted that city’s grit to grime believing our new route through the run-down section would connect to another road. It did…just not the right road. When we photographed our last shot in the dying sunset, we found the right highway connect. At that moment we felt we had enjoyed that city more than any that could be on our trip.
If you missed the turns in your life, you’ve got some options:
- You can make a u-turn and head back looking at it from the other side
- You can analyze that if you “square it off” you’ll get right back where you were before (but remember…you were lost then, too)
- You can take the new directions from the locals and get a chance to see that old post office
- You can throw up your hands, toss the map out the window and wing it from there and see something else that wasn’t even on your list.
You can do any of these things…and none are really wrong decisions.
But, failing to try again can be the most unpleasant of all. You’ll never get on the right road if you don’t turn around; you’ll never get to see the old post office and you’ll miss the entire journey.
Be brave! U-turn now…go back and see where you missed that turn…go back and try it again! Remember the last time you missed a turn and you just kept going? Yes, you do remember how that turned out, don’t you? Make some decision…because indecision is the same as standing still.
You’ll never know what you’ll discover on “alternate” roads. Here’s a few things I would have missed if I’d followed the exact directions.
Solitary road found during a U-turn in TX
Frank Lloyd Wright designed house in Tulsa
Gates swinging open at Graceland
Monument to school desegregation in Little Rock
Rock of Ages Farm Barn Route 66 OK
Smallest portion of Route 66 (13 miles) in KS
Town of Santa Claus IN – decorated 365 days a year and lights turned on each night
Quiet road found during U-turn in TN
Metal from World Trade Center sculpture (ORNL)
Oak Ridge TN
Cumberland River in downtown Nashville
Directions are easier to see once you turn around!
I can’t guarantee you’ll find exactly what you are looking for with a U-turn or change in direction. I can guarantee that it’s different–and isn’t that what we are hoping when we’ve realized we made the wrong turn?
I looked into the sun, squinting to make out the road sign; As I U-turned to look from the other side, it was clear. Not clear that I ‘d found what I needed but clear I was lost. Sometimes, discovering you are lost is as good as knowing where you are. Make the journey; start the adventure; map it out; But when best laid plans come up short, make a new plan. Never too late to start a new journey on an old road.
ALL ROADS LEAD TO SOMEWHERE…and that’s where I’ve been for the past month. After 28 days on the road; after crossing 11 states and 15 major rivers…a familiar road led me back home!
After nearly 3,600 miles, I can truly say each turn and each straightaway brought unexpected views and amazing vistas. Some were paths; some were dirt roads; some historic drives; some interstate highways; and some should not have even been where they were!
I believe even more now than before that there’s only one reason I venture down the pathways of life…and that is to find New Journeys on Old Roads.
Welcome back! I’ll begin posting stories, photos, trip routes and ramblings over the next few weeks. Follow along…let’s travel across this great country of ours. See part of America through my eyes!
Over the next 30 days I’ll be posting pictures of America at her best…from the Arbuckle Mountains to the Ozarks; the Smokies to the Appalachians…crossing rivers, skirting lakes…walking Beale Street and Main Street…crossing 11 state lines and driving some of the remaining original segments of the Mother Road (Route 66).
If it’s been a while since you’ve taken a ROAD TRIP through some of the country’s historical landmarks, roads and byways, maybe you’ll remember some of your past travels or get the map out and plan your next one.
Because it’s springtime, roadsides and highways should be teeming with wildflowers. We will stop to capture as many as we can.
Some of the best places are off the main road.
It’s the moments you take the time to explore an old road, a quaint bridge, a field of flowers, or Small Town, USA that will fill your heart with joy and your photo albums with memories.
…and doing it all with your best friend & sister…priceless!
Hold on! Here We Go!
Click to hear “I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash
Have you been there?Leave me a comment and let me know how you’re enjoying the drive. Let’s share America with everyone.
Fields, roadsides & ranch lands are in full bloom.
Texas wildflowers have arrived!Bluebonnets and Brown Eyed Susan Indian Paintbrush and Indian Blanket Evening Primrose – from white to lavender to pink
Bitterweed and cactus blooms The scenes look like a Monet painting.
Wildflowers always surprise me when they shoot forth randomly among grass, rock and hard dirt. They are a bit like your life being interrupted with troubles. Neither worries nor wildflowers seem to care when or where they appear. They are just there!
Does a problem, concern, or fear seem to appear out of nowhere? It’s like that with wildflowers, too. A week ago there were no blossoms. It even seemed maybe they wouldn’t come this year–like something or someone had intervened and there would be no wildflowers. But they’re here!
Do you think you could learn to see a purpose and beauty in the thing that appears uninvited in your life? Like some folks, I tend to want to spend some time with my worries. I want to bemoan them, even show them off to others.
There’s another similarity between your worries and wildflowers. They are right in front of you. If you think you can just hurry down the highway and ignore them…think again! The same is true with your worries. You can’t ignore them or outrun them. There’s a formula for dealing with both–your worries and wildflowers. You must:
Stop and face them.
Spend time with them.
We know Bluebonnets don’t have to face the fear of spring storms, the pain of hail, the pounding rain or the long-suffering drought alone–because they are joined by their friends: Indian Blankets, Paint Brush, Evening Primrose, Bitterweed and Brown-eyed Susan. Like the Texas Bluebonnet, we are not alone.
Just as hard as it was for the wildflower to work its way up through rock and limestone, your worries will push through to your thoughts. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if your next worries looked a little more like the wildflower that comes but then goes.
There are rules about each–worries and wildflowers. They are there to remind you that pleasant or unpleasant surprises often catch us unaware. Here’s another rule about wildflowers and worries.
Don’t pick them.
They are not yours.
Leave them there.
…And when you turn away from the wildflowers…or the worries…
when you need to get back to your journey…
you’ll leave less burdened…more joyous…
and ready for your next experience.
JOY SPRINGS FORTH
For happiness one needs security, but joy can spring like a flower even from the cliffs of despair.Anne Morrow Lindbergh
People pray for it
They write about it
Some curse it
Many welcome it
Some run through it
Some run into it
Some run from it
What is the one thing that can elicit the most
It’s simply RAIN
As a child did you ever sing
“rain, rain go away; come again some other day.”
Learn to live in it
Try to praise it
write odes to it
sing about it
It’s only RAIN!
It will pass
it will end
it will move on
Don’t be caught
looking the other way
or you’ll miss the very best thing
of all about rain…
What does it take to stand out in the crowd?
conviction of purpose
commitment to values
courage to own every decision
Sometimes it takes just one act of courage; sometimes it takes many occasions strung together through a lifetime.
Turn your uniqueness into the loudest voice among the crowd. Make the right choice for you. Stand strong through it all.
You’ll never regret an action based on your conviction.
But you might regret remaining silent.
Well, finally! Spring is here!
Some may not be sure of that fact if they’re looking out their window today. But I’m sure it’s spring…the calendar says so.
I wonder…as ancients were following moon cycles and earth’s rotations and printing calendars–if they thought there should be some dramatic drum roll to herald in each season of the year. I think of all of the seasons, spring should come with a shout if only to replace that dormant winter that is slowly—some say too slowly this year—leaving the dead and dying leaves and debris in your back yard. Have you heard those small cries from your shed? It’s your rake, broom and hoe just yearning to come out and play.
We think of winter as the time when the earth recedes under and into itself to commensurate and ponder the questions of its existence. We tend to use that time in the same manner so it’s time for us to wake up our body and mind. Winter may even say that it rests so well while blanketed and snuggled beneath winter’s cover that it can stay as long as it wants. Who can make winter leave that hibernating slumber?
SPRING CAN! That’s who!
Spring can break forth, finding its way up through frozen tundra and dead grasses and piled leaves. Spring has the added expressions of the flowers’ smiles, the birds’ songs and the caressing breezes necessary to push away a sleeping winter. It seems as if it doesn’t take much trouble on our part to welcome spring and play our way through it .
You remember how hard you prepared for winter? You checked your house for possible pipe leaks/bursts and insulation/heating problems. You “weatherized” your car. You prepared early for the livestock, animals, and even your own little kitties and doggies. You got the snow blower repaired, purchased a new shovel and started thinking what you would do on those extra days that may come your way as “snow days” if you couldn’t get out of the driveway.
Such hard work…and yet like a whisper and a refreshing clear, deep breath, spring is here and you didn’t have to do anything. Well, there was the clearing out of the wardrobe–the coats, hats, gloves & snowshoes. And there was the 3 days you spent tilling up the yard so you could plant those lovely blooming plants.
But for the most part, you get to just sit back and watch spring arrive and watch your soul and body regenerate and rekindle.
Now a time of serenity has come to replace our weary thoughts and plans. Come on over and let’s join in and welcome spring with as much excitement as it deserves and bid our final farewell to this long, hard record-breaking winter.
[Enjoy the video below as you think about spring. “Song of Spring” by Mendelssohn]
Oh, I surely hope you aren’t suffering from the allergens arriving daily. I truly wish the spring storms bypass you this year. But most of all I beg you to make the most of this arrival of renewal.
Before long, we’ll be making ugly faces at that thermometer.
How long do you think it will take for you to utter the words?
Boy, I wish it would cool off soon.
There are no rules for architecture for a castle in the clouds
G. K. Chesterton
Later in this column, I’ll give you the scientific definition of WIND. But for the moment, think about wind only as a source of energy—something we can’t see but can feel. I consider it the most mysterious of weather conditions. Where is it? If it can be so powerful, why can’t we see it?
This winter of 2013/2014 has proved to be one of the most extreme weather patterns in recent years (in some cases decades).
Mostly we consider wind to be the “source” that:
- messes up our hair
- takes the dirt/dust in the air and collects it on our cars,
- sends the pollens into our red, watery, itchy eyes.
It is also that thing which causes your little speeding golf ball to take an unruly path away from the hole on the green.
And you may remember the frustration of trying to fly a kite which is difficult with too little or too much wind.
For all the things we can blame on wind, I want to consider it’s positive force—how it makes you feel. Whether you think of wind as in the concept of power or gusts or you think of it as a whisper fluttering the leaves, it undeniably has power like no other part of nature.
To me it is the way I feel in the wind. I know, scientifically, there is energy and power in the wind. But to feel the wind as it touches my face and body, to let it drift over my mind and thoughts, just to see it moving the other elements of nature is so representative of a force greater than you and I.
It seems to have the ability to make my mind clear – like clearing out the cobwebs. It actually affects my body & health. It takes only a few minutes outside in quiet solitude before I feel as if I’d done spring cleaning in my thoughts completely removing the problems and worries and enjoying the deep breaths I draw.
Regeneration is a word that reminds me of what “wind” does for me.
Let’s think about when wind mixes with a particular element–that brings on a whole new meaning.
- If it is snow blowing and swirling, then we have a blizzard;
- if it is sand or dirt blowing, then we have a dust storm;
- if it is rain that is moving with the wind, it may result in tornadic or hurricane force winds.
- The coolness of an autumn breeze;
- the snow moved softly by the wind;
- the pollen pushed forth by the blowing;
- the rain shower that blows upon us for only minutes.
Like most of us in the US, I’m awaiting those days that will soon burst forth giving us more pollen, more rain, more movement than has laid below our frozen tundra and iced vegetation. As the Spring of 2014 drifts upon us in a few more days (weeks), I hope I will be able to appreciate what the wind provides for us and greet it with welcoming smiles.
Wind dusts off, cleans away, and refreshes the earth as well as our body. The power of the wind reminds me the source of all wind (all energies) is controlled by my Creator and that God is the maker and purveyor of this earth.
Scientific Information about wind: For any of you who wish to read a “scientific Description” of wind, you may click this link. It seemed to me to be very mysterious in its definition—a little like wind seems to me! http://www.weatherquestions.com/What_causes_wind.htm
For the wordsmiths among us, here are other words for wind:
breath ♦ breeze ♦ draft ♦ ozone ♦ puff ♦ blast ♦ waft ♦
whirlwind cyclone ♦ flutter ♦ cyclone ♦ flutter ♦ tempest ♦
typhoon ♦ zephyr ♦ ventilation ♦ chinook ♦
Wind has so many attributes and has often been used in music & poetry.
One of the songs about “wind” is represented in the1969 Hollywood film “Paint Your Wagon” (They Call the Wind) Maria (pronounced /məˈraɪ.ə/) performed by Harve Presnell. Here is a video of that performance.
The exact opposite of Maria is when “wind” brings us the soft, wistful thoughts. “The Breeze & I are whispering goodbye…” For those who want to dance in the breeze, I’ve included that haunting melody here
The Breeze and I - words by Al Stillman, music by Ernesto Lecuona music written in 1929 as a piano piece called "Andaluza,"part of the Andalucia Suite by the Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona - words added later by Al Stillman - sung here by Caterina Valente, 1953
The breeze and I are saying with a sigh
That you no longer care
The breeze and I are whispering goodbye
To dreams we used to share
Ours was a love song that seemed constant as the moon
Ending in a strange, mournful tune
And all about me, they know you have departed without me
And we wonder why, the breeze and I
The breeze and I
Here is a little known fact related to weatherology:
As mentioned, the song “They Call the Wind Maria” was featured in the 1969 Hollywood film “Pain Your Wagon, starring Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood and Jean Seberg. It was George Rippey Stewart’s 1941 novel Storm, in which he presents the storm which is the protagonist of his story and named it “Maria” (pronounced /məˈraɪ.ə/).
In 1947, Stewart wrote a new introduction for a reprint of the book, and discussed the pronunciation of “Maria”:
“The soft Spanish pronunciation is fine for some heroines, but our Maria here is too big for any man to embrace and much too boisterous.” He went on to say, “So put the accent on the second syllable, and pronounce it ‘rye'”
The success of Stewart’s novel was one factor that motivated U.S. military meteorologists to start the informal practice of giving women’s names to storms in the Pacific during World War II. The practice became official in 1945. In 1953, a similar system of using women’s names was adopted for North Atlantic storms. This continued until 1979, when men’s names were incorporated into the system.
Think about how the wind moves through nature and through you.
Sometimes our fate resembles the fruit tree in winter. Who would think that those branches would turn green again and blossom; but we hope it; we know it.
Johann Wolfgang van Goethe
In every winter’s heart, there is a quivering spring and behind the veil of night there is a smiling dawn.
If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.
click link below to hear musical version of Joyce Kilmer’s ONLY GOD CAN MAKE A TREE featuring Mario Lanza, recorded 1952
Printed Lyrics to Only God Can Make a Tree
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree
A tree whose hungry mouth is pressed
Against the sweet Earth’s flowing breast
A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair
Upon whose bosom snow has lain
Who intimately lives with rain
Poems are made by fools like me
But only God can make a tree
Joyce Kilmer (born as Alfred Joyce Kilmer; 6 December 1886 – 30 July 1918) was an American writer and poet mainly remembered for a short poem titled "Trees" (1913), which was published in the collection Trees and Other Poems in 1914.
If you’ve heard this story before, maybe it’s worth a second look and another read. Help of any kind is usually a good thing.
FLYING IN ‘V’ FORMATION
When you see geese flying along in “V” formation, you might consider what science has discovered as to why they fly that way. As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own. People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.
When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone — and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird in front. If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay in formation with those people who are headed the same way we are.
When the head goose gets tired, it rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point. It is sensible to take turns doing demanding jobs, whether with people or with geese flying south. Geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
What messages do we give when we honk from behind? Finally — and this is important — when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out of formation, two other geese fall out with that goose and follow it down to lend help and protection. They stay with the fallen goose until it is able to fly or until it dies, and only then do they launch out on their own, or with another formation to catch up with their group.
If we have the sense of a goose, we will stand by each other like that.
My favorite concept of this scientific study of nature is how two fall out to aid a fallen member of the group. If birds understand the need for teamwork and concern for others, why is it such a difficult concept for us as humans?
A flock of geese leave their lake and take wing, turning into poems in the sky. ~Dr. SunWolf
Lessons from the Geese was written in 1972 by Dr Robert McNeish of Baltimore. Dr McNeish, for many years a science teacher before he became involved in school administration, had been intrigued with observing geese for years and first wrote the piece for a sermon he delivered in his church…for complete story go to http://suewidemark.com/lessonsgeese.htm#nutshell
For further scientific information, go to http://www.npr.org/2014/01/15/262607399/the-science-behind-flying-in-v-formation
click video below to see scientific aerodynamic explanation:
Winter sunshine is a little elusive. It hides part of the day and then rushes out to warm the barren trees just before the dark of night engulfs them again.
There are many people as cold and lonely as those leafless trees. What if you were the only person who had the answer for them? Is it possible you are the only one who can touch a broken heart or a saddened soul? That’s a huge gift to be entrusted to you.
My experience tells me if you begin your day with the belief that you may be able to touch a person’s heart, you will. If you have been chosen to be the person, for reasons unknown, there’s no way you can keep it to yourself. A heart full of joy and sunshine must be shared or given away.
It’s just impossible to out give love. There’s no replacement for the gift of a kind word to a troubled life. Just imagine…you have that gift within you.
Share it willingly and abundantly. You will be blessed beyond your imagination.
Have you been searching for a more peaceful existence? I was; and when I let go of my concerns about what people might say if I put my feelings on display, I found the best part of myself.
Revealing your inner thoughts on a public forum are sometimes frightening because you are opening yourself up for criticism. I know that to love and be loved, you must be available. Now I know to be accepted and accepting, I must make myself available, too.
If you are afraid of your emotions, your thoughts, or your opening up to others, there’s only a few answers for that.
- One is to be bold.
- Another is to be brave.
- Another is to know it’s your time.
- And, finally, believe you deserve the best life has to offer.
Love yourself. Then you can love others. Give them the best YOU you can give
Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.
I glanced at the calendar this morning. I don’t really need to do that to know what day is near. Each year I begin to feel it permeate my thoughts for weeks before. I need no calendar for that purpose
It’s been a few years since a friend of mine left this earth. Among my circle of family and friends, we have had time to experience life without that precious presence.…it doesn’t seem right…it doesn’t seem fair… it doesn’t make sense…
There’s not much of anything you can do about it when a person’s time is up. Obviously, you can mourn. You can stop living yourself. Or, you can decide to do your best to carry on. But you are not the keeper of time or extender of life. You have no input or vote on that.
But then you ask yourself:How am I going to get through this world without them?
You need an answer for that, so you dig into your psyche and you try to reach into your heart and you can find nothing that really explains why it happened and what you are supposed to do about it.
Then, with time, comes the answer. In a moment of clarity and perception you understand the simplicity of that answer.There’s nothing you can do about the fact it happened & most likely nothing you could have done to prevent it.
Your job is to continue on without them. Maybe you can make a memorial to them; perhaps continue a legacy they began; you can live your life…that’s all. The choices are few but it’s evident the only plan left for you is to honor the person with a permanent place in your thoughts allowing and not rejecting those thoughts. It’s not a bad thing to think about a person who is no longer breathing on this earth.
I’ve discovered one way to honor your loved one is to talk about that person. Think about that person. Tell your family about that person. Especially tell your children about that person. Share with someone else who knew them in a different way and you’ll have a new light shed on the person you loved. It’s OK to have all those feelings because you still love them. That doesn’t have to die–it can live on in you and those with whom you share your memories.
The only way I’ve been able to make it through such losses is to remember the good things, and time itself takes care of the bad things–they begin to move to the rear of your thoughts. Oh, sure, you can harbor them and hang on to them but to what end? That is no honor to your lost one.
When the thought of their absence is so real it hurts, that’s okay, too! Spend a moment in that thought…and then think about another time, another memory, another story. Perhaps a smile will cross your face or you might even laugh out loud at what seemed a silly thing back then. Allow yourself those beautiful and funny thoughts…that’s okay too.There are no rules, no guidebook, no right, no wrong. It never gets easier—it just gets different!
That’s what I’ve learned from experience. My hope for you is that you find people around you who allow you to talk about your loss and your feelings. I hope you have special memories that become more precious now that they have been entrusted to you to keep. That’s a big job…to keep the good of a person going. But you can do it—with love, hope, prayer, faith. Then trust in all the memories you have to become the stories for others and create that as the legacy for your loved one.
If you are reading this and you have lost a friend or loved one, I am sorry for your loss.May you find peace in the midst of your pain.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ If you need more help than you’ve been able to find, there are professional people for you. Look around your community for churches or organizations that offer counseling, or call your local hospital or contact your minister/rabbi/priest. For those related to a military member/veteran, contact your local Veteran's Affairs office or your military base commander/chaplain. Here are three organizations online where you can find help immediately.
I love the mornings–early before the world starts to make noise, before the cars taking people here and there drown out the sound of the birds singing their good morning song. There’s nothing like the new day to set out to do some good thing–to try to make the hours worth the living–to reach out to someone.
Although it’s always in my mind that I should do those things, how many days have I squandered just watching TV, sleeping late, thinking of myself and never accomplishing even one of the goals I know life expects and deserves of me.
Often it’s just a word of “hello“ or “how are you doing“ that can make the difference in someone’s lonely heart. And can you imagine if they are hurting and in pain and lonely what words like “have a good day“ or “you look lovely today“ could do for their spirit.
I’ve spent years rushing and being a part of the noise the world hears. There has been day upon day that I spent complaining or gossiping or thinking bad things about others, and that wasted my energy and left me with nothing accomplished. When do we finally learn that those things are worthless if we have not accomplished anything during those hours between rising and retiring at the end of another exhaustive day?
I think it’s now! For me, I am finding such peace and joy in the day that begins early listening to the birds sing their arias and the quietness of the world around me strengthening my soul.Johann Wolfgang van Goeth said:
One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words.
Shall we join together to make our days worth the living and be worthy of the next day that comes our way–if it is to be.
Make each day you are given be worth the living.
In every winter’s heart, there is a quivering spring; and behind the veil of each night, there is a smiling dawn
It was just a spur of the moment trip. I really had not planned to go anywhere last Friday, but there I was, driving west and headed to an old familiar place. I’d taken this road many times—back and forth to my dad’s place over the last 30 years. The road felt like an old friend. I knew where each turn was, where the speed traps were, and how far it was to the next bathroom. I knew where you had to stop and fill up with gas because THAT gas station was always the cheapest. And I would stop there again–just because. I knew I could make the trip in less than 4 hours.
You start off heading west on Interstate 20 as if you were going to California—because, if you don’t stop for several days, that’s where you’ll be—or at least El Paso for an overnight stop! In El Paso, you can catch Interstate 10 and then scoot across the edge of New Mexico around Las Cruces and Lordsburg. From there it’s just hours on to Tucson. That’s where your compass might become confused because you come to a crossroads.Crossroads can sometimes be confusing if you don’t have a clear idea of what your final destination is. But I didn’t need a map today…I knew the road and my destination.
From Tucson, you can continue to California by taking a hard northwest on to Phoenix and then set your sites on The Los Angeles area. Of course, don’t get me wrong…that’s more than the 4 hour trip that I’m making to west Texas…but if the music on the CD is right and the gasoline card and credit card have enough available balance, I just might keep on those west-bound roads and be sipping a cool drink on the pier in Santa Monica. Tempting!
But I’ve overshot my daydreaming just a bit. I’ve just arrived near the small town of Cisco TX so this is one place I have to make a decision. Do I make that south turn and go on to my dad’s place—or do I set out on a 5-day trip that takes me all the way to California.
I know deep down he would think the trip west was a good idea. He traveled all of those roads for many years and told great stories of traveling across the US during the depression and WWII years working when they could.
I would love nothing more than to sit with him again and hear all those great stories. But a few years ago, his life, well-lived, came to a close. I’ve gone back only a couple of times since then…and maybe that’s enough…to see if everything is still the same in the town’s rock-road cemetery. What do I expect will change about it? I don’t know, but it feels as if I ought to watch over his place like he always watched over me.
…could do anything—and I mean ANYTHING! A carpenter by trade, that didn’t stop him from fixing my dainty jewelry, helping with homework, building a house for us, or making sure that we had enough to survive.Seems it didn’t take as much in those days to get through—something about our greedy desires have increased since the 50s & 60s. What we didn’t know about, we didn’t need.
A town of about 5,500 located in the geographic heart of Texas, Brady had been a place I had looked forward to visiting every summer when I was a little girl. My mother and dad would go for a visit to my Mama’s & Papa’s house there, and I’d get to stay for a couple of weeks.
That was just great—especially when I was the last of the cousins (and the youngest of a dozen) to still think it was cool to be gone for a couple of weeks in the summertime staying with some old people. My Papa grew vegetables and they had chickens. I didn’t like that at all so I’d just stand at the wire and watch my Mama feed the chickens from the pockets of her always-present apron.
My Papa would pick and dig up vegetables and put them on the big picnic table under the tree to ripen. I could already imagine those juicy tomatoes, that warm yellow watermelon, and those snap peas cooked in a big pot with potatoes!
Yes, my grandparents were old, but I didn’t mind because I was alone with them and my thoughts. They had lessons to teach if I would just listen.
The town hasn’t changed too much from those days. The roads are still made of shale rock and unpaved in most of the town. Many of the old houses still look like they did when we would drive slowly (because everything in that town was/is slow) to the town square.
The square, built around an old county courthouse constructed in 1878, never changed. There were maybe 40 stores around that square. As I drive in today, some are still closed up and some have transitioned from a theater to a hardware store, to a boutique, to a coffee shop, to another empty store in a dying commerce of downtown shops.
My destination is just a little off the square northwest on Highway 87 There, in the constantly blowing wind of west Texas, is the old cemetery. My dad’s place is looking sleek and clean—because nothing can stay long under that incessant wind. I tell him how much I love him, think to myself of how hard he worked, how much he liked Country Music & TV, how much he loved me from the time I could remember to those recent few years ago. Many times he rode his white horse (really a brown Ford pickup truck) to save me from a bad decision I had made or a situation that surprisingly turned bad.
I put some yellow roses in the vase near his name with birth and death dates. Then I blow him a kiss and let the wind clear my eyes. The skies look clear out here because the wind just blows the clouds out of those west Texas skies. I look up and I feel the power of God in that wind and I know my daddy is resting in His arms.
I’ll get another cherry coke and start that ride back. It’s less than 4 hours. When I get to the crossroad again, I’ll turn east back into central Texas. El Paso, Las Cruces, Phoenix and Santa Monica will have to wait for another time.
Driving away from the setting sun with the road humming along and my music set to old country music–the kind my daddy loved. I start to sing along, like my daddy always did. I felt sad but comforted by the trip to my daddy’s place.
In some ways, today I carved out a new journey down this old road. Traveling never looks the same when your purpose changes.
It’s good to know God will help you if you develop a new vision
or if you need to take a new journey
even if it is down an old road.
LOVE as though you have never been hurt before,
SING as though no one can hear you,
LIVE as though heaven is on earth. —Souza
______________________________________________________The story below came to me via an e-mail friend. I couldn’t let the heart of the story pass without sharing it with you. An old woman wrote this letter to her friend. The last line says it all!
I’m reading more and dusting less. I’m sitting in the yard and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I’m spending more time with my family and friends and less time working.
Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experiences to savor, not to endure. I’m trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.
I’m not “saving” anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, or the first Amaryllis blossom.
I wear my good blazer to the market. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries. I’m not saving my good perfume for special parties, but wearing it for clerks in the hardware store and tellers at the bank.
“Someday” and “one of these days” are losing their grip on my vocabulary. If it’s worth seeing or hearing or doing, I want to see and hear and do it now.
I’m not sure what others would’ve done had they known they wouldn’t be here for the tomorrow that we all take for granted. I think they would have called family members and a few close friends. They might have called a few former friends to apologize and mend fences for past squabbles. I like to think they would have gone out for a Chinese dinner or for whatever their favorite food was.
I’m guessing–I’ll never know.
It’s those little things left undone that would make me angry if I knew my hours were limited. Angry because I hadn’t written certain letters that I intended to write one of these days. Angry and sorry that I didn’t tell my husband and parents often enough how much I truly love them. I’m trying very hard not to put off, hold back, or save anything that would add laughter and luster to our lives. And every morning when I open my eyes, tell myself that it is special.
truly is a gift from God.
Take a few minutes to share this with a few people you care about, just to let them know that you’re thinking of them.
Life may not be the party we hoped for,
Click to listen to the touching song “The Dance” by Garth Brooks
WHAT ARE YOU READING?
Reading is like traveling in your mind. I’ve always loved books and love to tell the story of going to the Bookmobile in the summertime. I was allowed to check out only one book. Well, I’d be through with that the next day and had nothing to read until the next week when the Bookmobile came and parked at the school. I asked, and received, special permission to check out as many as I wanted! I was the happiest 4th grader in town.
When I would run out of books, I would read anything around the house–my dad’s Outdoor Life, Field & Stream and my mother’s Bible. Any story was better than none!
You might well imagine my house is full of books. I don’t like to get rid of them, so I buy more bookshelves to hold them. I stack them two rows deep, I file them on shelves, I arrange them by color, I turn them any way making them fit to the top of the shelf. Sell them? Oh, no…never! In my “final wishes” I’ve instructed my family to NEVER SELL my books…give them away…that’s OK…BUT NEVER SELL THEM.
From time to time I will share with you here what I’ve been reading.
Will be back here soon to update you on my reading list!
The first time I came across the story of Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach was in the 70s. At the time I was reading other books like Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet and Shirley McLaine’s Out on a Limb. Those types of books were part of the cultural/spiritual evolution and revolution of the 70s.
That period of time was a particular new discovery for me, and I found “Jonathan” to be inspiring this time for me in a whole new way. As I’ve traveled some journeys in those last 12 years, I have revisited “Jonathan” again and again.
If you are one of those people who needs or searches for some solid comparisons of how your life can be experienced by others and how others find answers, it might be worth a first or another read for you.
“We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free. We can learn to fly.”
I have discovered that being free from shackles of inefficiency and ignorance can lead us to perform great tasks—greater than our minds are capable of imagining.
Upon “Jonathan’s” achievement of the ultimate (he thought it was at the time) life in heaven, he realizes he has broken free of his earthly limitations; he learns the art of flying high and soaring (which is not nature for a seagull). His mentor explains to him:
“You will begin to touch heaven, Jon, in the moment you touch perfect [speed]. Perfect speed my son, is being there.”
Nearly two years ago upon my retirement during an occasion where my colleagues were honoring me and my service, I thought about “Jonathan.”
I told the group what has come to be my anthem about those people and opportunities that come into our life and either pass through or stay for a while or maybe a lifetime.
“If our friendship depends on things like space and time, then we’ve destroyed our brotherhood [mankind]. Overcome space and all we have left is HERE; overcome time and all we have left is NOW. In the middle of HERE and NOW don’t you think we might see each other once or twice?”
That is my belief—that we never say goodbye to those in our lives—we simply meet them on another level.
As the reader nears the last pages of Jonathan’s tale, there are comments and references that will remind you of the story of Jesus—how He came to the earth to help His people. “Loving the flock enough to return to it and help it…” His mentor continued, “…[this] is an unlimited idea of freedom, an image of the Great Gull, and your whole body, wingtip to wingtip, is nothing more than the thought of itself.”
I’m not saying this story is a replacement for any religion or philosophy nor does it suggest nor does it address any religion. I don’t think it is meant to do that. I am, however, saying that the thoughts of who we are encompasses what we are here on earth and the idea there is more that awaits believers.
If you want to watch a process unfold before your eyes, pick up the book today and let the author’s thoughts walk—or fly—among your thoughts.
Richard Bach. Jonathan Livingston Seagull – a story. MacMillan Publishers, 1970. ISBN: 0-380-01286-3; Library of Congress Number: 75-119617
After Notes: this link will bring you up to date on Richard Bach and his writings. After a near-death experience, the new publications are a must read to any fan. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/feb/11/richard-bach-jonathan-livingston-seagull-part-four
Wanted to tell you I just finished From Elvis to Elvira-My Life on Stage by Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys, with Steven Robinson. Autographed & available from ORB website @http://oakridgeboys.com/merch
If you are a fan of the Oak Ridge Boys and their more-than-40 years of entertaining, you will enjoy this behind the scenes look. Moreover, if you are an Elvis fan, find out how Richard Sterban is associated with “The King.”
When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes. Erasmus