Thursday, February 2, 2017
So, allot has changed since Christmas, however, life marches forward, and so it has, right to the annual Orchid Show at The Denver Botanic Gardens. Last year, I was still using my trustee little Nikon, but this year, my sweet, not so new anymore, Sony has proven worthy. I have been studying up on how to take photos of flowers and I am so pleased with these results. The Orchids are ridiculously colorful, delicate, sensuous, strong, and very very tricky to bring to full bloom. Hats off to the miracle workers at the Gardens for making this feast for the eyes, beauty for the soul, happen. It was an usually warm day, so the greenhouse sliders were open, and instead of glass and steel for some of the backgrounds, I had full access to the big Colorado skies. I took my time, met some nice people along the way, and lo and behold...for those of you on social media, I will be posting the 6 pics you have not yet seen on my Instagram feed, but spreading them out over the next many days, so, enjoy twice over. For those of you not on social media, enjoy!
'O Lord, how manifold are your works!' Psalm 104:24
Saturday, December 24, 2016
'My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
And I give unto them eternal life;
and they shall never perish,
neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me,
is greater than all;
and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
I and my Father are one.'
To our Friends and Family who celebrate, have a blessed, inspired, joyous and
Friday, December 23, 2016
For years I have been posting about the Maccabee Brothers, every Chanukah, I post about the Maccabees. So, if you anything about me at all, you know how much I love those Maccabee Boys. They said, no way, no how, it is not going to happen to Antiochus' men when they came to a village in Modi'in. A Greco-Syrian soldier entered the Temple and started to sacrifice a pig on the altar. Enraged by this action, an old priest named Mattathias stabbed the soldier to death and the revolt began!
For me, this year Chanukah carries even more meaning. When I was in New York in October, as I have mentioned a few times, I went to the 'Jerusalem:1000-1400, Every People Under Heaven' exhibit at the Met. I had one of those moments when history, DNA, the resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto, and the present collided and had me completely frozen with awe. There it was, one of the Books of The Maccabees. I wanted to hug the exhibit glass, but, that would have landed me out of the museum. I wished they had had a stool or ladder for short people to see the case of these books from above. I don't know how long I stood there soaking it all in, time stood still. This book is huge, at least 2 feet or more by 18" or more. The craftsmanship, unmatched. What an incredible work of art! This is so amazing, because if it looks like sheet music, it is! Here is what the caption said, "Europeans fighting for the Holy Land considered the Maccabees, Jews of the 2nd century, B.C. as examples of the struggle for Jerusalem. The hymn that begins with this pitched battle is a plea for peace taken from the book of the Maccabees." It is strewn throughout the Bible that praise, blowing of the shofar(s), songs of worship were sung before battle, Joshua 6:1-20, being a well known example. As was custom, I learned from this exhibit, that everyone, of every religion, in the region scribed. More so, the books have survived literally thousands of years.
Pursued by the Greco-Syrians, Mattathias and his 5 sons, known as the Maccabees fled to the hills surrounding Jerusalem. There, the resistance movement took form. Before he died, Mattathias selected his son, Judah to lead the fight, which he did, and valiantly. Through strategy and foresight, the rebels overcame all of Antiochus' forces, including an army riding elephants. In victory, the Maccabees liberated Jerusalem from the invaders, and on the 25th day of Kislev (this year, the first night is tomorrow, the 24th day of Kislev) they cleansed the temple which had been defiled. Chanukah, which means dedication, commemorates that day.
The miracle occurred, when looking for holy oil to light the Temple's candelabrum, there was just a very small cruse of sacramental oil, just enough to last a day. Knowing it would take eight days to prepare new holy oil, the Maccabee Boys, used the little bit they had and lit the menorah. Lo and behold, the oil burned for 8 days. Look at God!
To my Family and Friends who celebrate, a very joyful and blessed Chanukah!
Monday, November 28, 2016
The 'REFLECTIONS II 2017', limited edition calendar was delivered the day before Thanksgiving...and it began! I have the 'REFLECTIONS II 2017' calendar and the 'REFLECTIONS' Jewish calendar, 2016-2017/5776-5777, both listed in my Etsy shop, Lilleypics, with FREE shippping in the U.S., for this day labeled, CYBER-MONDAY. May it be known, that shipping is normally $10. Both calendars have been well received, most thankfully/gratefully. The Jewish calendar, although we are almost 2 months into 5777, will continue to be sold in the shop until the very last day of 5777. With each passing month, the price will drop.
I am signing and dating every page of every calendar which leaves my home, as the 10"x10" archival quality of the photos can be easily framed! The calendars make a great gift for this busy holiday season!!! So, happy shopping!!
'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.'
Friday, November 18, 2016
It happened quickly. The inspiration to create a 2017 calendar came upon me, and within a couple of days, it was finished. The kinks had been worked out from the REFLECTIONS, Jewish Calendar, I had some new photos to add, prayed about what scriptures the Lord would have me to use in this critical hour, got back in touch with Jonathan, from Mixbook, (his customer service was so excellent, he was an important reason I have called on Mixbook a second time, along with the rich quality of the finished product), ordered 1 copy to proof, and I was on my way. I received my copy yesterday, and this is why it is a must when publishing anything, to have that all important, 1 copy. All of the pictures, front and back covers, were 'auto-enhanced'. This is a feature which Mixbook offers, but it is one which I do not choose, as I have done all the editing on the photos. Thankfully, I was able to take side by side pics from the Jewish calendar and send them off to Jonathan, along with previous e-mails, confirming that the auto-enhance was not to be applied. I had some minor changes to be made with type size and my back cover statement. Jonathan and I worked everything out, and I placed my order. I am not sure when the calendars will be arriving, probably after Thanksgiving, so I have listed them in my Etsy shop as, 'Pre-order REFLECTIONS II 2017' Limited Edition. So, Psalm 46, and for the month of December, 1 verse from the Book of Isaiah! Whew....
'God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.
The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.
Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth.
He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire.
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.'
Thursday, October 27, 2016
|The Atlantic, my old Friend...|
I went, I saw, I conquered. I came back with a mean head cold, I am still processing conversations, hard fought get-togethers with precious friends, how many times I ate Japanese food, having some alone time to see some of my old haunts and an afternoon @ The Met, seeing my Goddaughter, Jennie, star in her first lead role on Broadway as Nettie in 'The Color Purple', (she was beautiful and perfect, see Jennie, if you can!), celebrating my Aunt's 95th birthday in Baltimore, and totally touched that she was totally touched when she saw me, I was a surprise...lots of happy tears shed.
|Sunrise looking north from Chelsea and, below, the full moon over the City...so beautiful!|
I stayed with my cousin in Chelsea. She is 88 1/2. Just to give you an idea of her energy, on Friday's, she has 4 exercise classes, in 4 different locations, all before one in the afternoon. I stayed with her from Saturday-Saturday, and every night we would hug, so pleased with ourselves that we still liked one another. It was very sweet. We did so well together. I decided that she lives in the center of the universe, because everything anyone could possibly need, juts out, like spokes on a wheel, from her building. But, that is what a neighborhood is. Definition: a district, especially one forming a community within a town or city; synonyms: district, area, locality, locale, quarter, community; part, region, zone; informal neck of the woods, hood, nabe, stomping ground, stamping ground.
|Lobby of the Met, fresh flowers, always...so beautiful!|
|Jennie, in 'The Color Purple', so beautiful!!!|
When I went back East last summer, I decided that I simply had to go back at least one time a year. So, when the idea of going to Baltimore was presented to me, I knew it was the right time, and I worked backwards, as Baltimore was the last stop. This was such a different trip than last year. When I said 'hard fought' get-togethers, what I mean is, we are doing this, the arrangements might be last minute, and then change on a dime, there was allot of improvising, texting, and phone calls, but every 'Okay great', made the way for me to spend time over pizza, Japanese, Greek, Vegan, Spanish, and Japanese food again, with people who wanted to see me as much as I wanted to see them, and we all made it work. I loved that with my whole heart. Discussions ranged from getting older, more than once, to hearing about a friends surgery for a large brain aneurysm and the metal which is now in her head, to lovely fellowship and sharing of hearts, firming up old relationships and building on some new ones, and of course, as if no time had passed, (because what G_d does, He does well), with many.
So, this happened. It was a week ago Tuesday. I went to The Met to see the Jerusalem: 1000-1400, 'Every People Under Heaven' exhibit. I went up the grand stairs, made a left, looking down @ the American Wing, hung a right @ the statue, walked down another hall, and there it was. The exhibit. It was a little dark, as there are slides being projected on to the walls. I thought I heard my name, but, really, what are the odds? And then in the next moment, a clear voice calling, 'Auntie Amy!' I turned around and it was Mari Harney (older sister of my Goddaughter, Jennie), working @ the exhibit!! Hand over mouth, other hand in the air, leaning back a little, then ginormous hugs. This visit, this meeting was not scheduled by either of us, but clearly, well appointed. Imagine, in a little corner of a massive museum in a City of 8 million. Just too too good!!!
|Pot for cooking lentils, brass, 11th century, Caeserea...so beautiful!|
Spending a short 24 hours in Baltimore was full, it was joyous. I was with my Cousins and it was perfect. I felt my body telling me that it had had enough, as I began to get emotional about leaving, all guards were way down. I do not know what the future holds. I do know, that New York, the East Coast, will always be home, that I cannot be in 2 places at one time, that coming back to the quiet of Colorado along with all of its gifts is exactly where I am supposed to be, so, in that I rest and recoup from all the running around, eating, talking, loving on my Friends and Family, and receiving equal portions in return. I am so thankful, so grateful, so deeply appreciative. Until the next time New York; you can take the Girl out of the City, but no way can you ever take The City, out of the Girl...but you already knew that...
|Betsy and Aunt Sue, and below Jennifer helping to blow out candles, joy overflowing, so beautiful!|
|Descending into Denver, Rockies in the background, so beautiful!!|
'To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.'
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
Sunday, September 25, 2016
2 things. Wow, it has been a month since my last post and I did not post anything on the blog about this years garden. To close the gap a bit, the last day of the outdoor pool could not have ended any better given the perfect weather that day, and taking in all the hundreds of laps I clocked in by the end of the season, I was grateful beyond words. As one of the lifeguards said, 'You have just been a swimming machine this summer!'. Best thing I could have heard. So, to back track, to around Memorial Day. I bought a 3 tiered raised garden bed KIT. I had to build it. Seemed simple enough, but, as has been stated here before on many other projects, it was more work than anticipated...and it took a ton of soil. With the help of our neighbors, drilling some drainage holes on the floor board we bought to keep the soil in place, and the brand spanking new palettes we found outside of a shop, whose owners said, 'Please, take them off of our hands!' I was on my way.
I bought small heirloom tomatoes, white eggplants, green peppers, strawberries, 6 varieties of basil for eating all summer and then to make pesto to take us to next summer, flat leaf parsley, which we have also been enjoying all summer as well, and dill. The strawberries died almost immediately, replaced them with something else (I forget), and it died, then replaced that with cucumbers which had blight, so that little corner never happened.
That said, I have never had tomatoes grow so fast and with such strength in their stems. They are still blooming, and I have hundreds of them. The white eggplants were beautiful to watch bloom and grow from a lovely purple flower to a baseball sized eggplant. I cut back 10 of them just yesterday and cooked up some eggplant parm. There are ALLOT of seeds in these small guys, so, they can border on bitter. But, the Boys enjoyed it, along with the fresh basil and pesto made from scratch included in the ingredients. It was a great moment in the kitchen, and I froze 7 healthy portions!! I am in the process of dismantling, the large, beautifully weathered terra cotta pots of basil, making pesto like a machine. Last summer I froze 58 4 oz. containers, and so far, as of today, I have 41. The nights have been cool, so time is of the essence. All in all a great garden, yielding a bounty for us as I harvest the haul. I am a grateful little gardener, still busy busy busy, just like the bees who have graced us with their presence all season....
|It is hard to imagine what will happen..|
|...but in a short amount of time, THIS!!!|
|The whole gift giving plants and herbs...|
|Strawberry leaf which never took, but so pretty..|
|White eggplant showing herself...|
|Strong and tall, still blooming...|
|Cut back bouquet of 6 basil varieties for pesto...|
|Last but not least, just yesterday, 10 of these babies...more still growing!!!|
'Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce.'
Post script: By days end, there are now 51 frozen 4oz. containers of pesto!!!
Post script: By days end, there are now 51 frozen 4oz. containers of pesto!!!
Saturday, August 20, 2016
So, it was my first day back at the pool this Summer. June 2. I had great anticipation upon getting back in the water. What would this year look like, I wondered. How many laps would I manage, especially after a long winter. It was a beautiful day. I think I eeked out 36 laps, which was good. They were not done all at once but over the course of the afternoon. 4:15ish rolled around and I decided to head out. As I was leaving, I was met with, what felt like a swarm of yellow bathing caps. I looked around and saw many young teenagers, many. I asked a woman who had been speaking with one of the adults, who were all these kids??? THE SWIM TEAM, she replied. I was in formed that they would be there everyday, like clockwork at 4:15PM, stay until 6PM, Monday- Thursday, that they were taking 4 of the 6 lanes, and that the adults would have to 'share'. I left feeling, well, annoyed would be the correct word. I remembered last Summer, at the end of the season, around now, when school started, that THE SWIM TEAM invaded the pool. It/they felt very invasive.
As the evening progressed, and I was processing this information, I started to get mad. The woman I spoke with earlier was very matter of fact...'The adults will have to share 2 lanes!!!'. I lost sleep that night, and first thing the next morning, I called the Corporate Office. This phone call was on the heels of the Stanford swimmer who had been on trial for rape. He was/is the fruit of the 'entitled' sportsperson, be it swimming, football, baseball, golf, soccer, etc. We have seen it in many different venues, college and professional. I explained to the nice man I was speaking with that it seemed rather unfair that people, adults, who work hard, get off of work around 4 or 5pm, who have paid their monthly fees, should find themselves at the pool, looking forward to a quiet, therapeutic swim, only to realize that they would have to share a lane (they are not very wide, and you know, I am tiny, sooooo...) with another adult. Could there be a compromise, maybe the kids could have 3 lanes and the adults 3 lanes. I went on to say to him that they were sending these kids the wrong message!!! We are here, so you have to leave, period. And as they progress in life, to the next swim team or the next sport, we are here, I am here, so you have to leave. Entitled. It is an ugly word. Wrong wrong wrong. (Do not misunderstand me, I am all for organized sports. I grew up playing organized sports.) He told me that I sounded very passionate about swimming and that he would get in touch with aquatic director. I thanked him, wished the SWIM TEAM well, and we said our good-byes.
A few days later, I received a call from the very young sounding aquatic director. I repeated my concerns about sending these kids the wrong message, that it was also wrong that they thought it was okay for two, 200 pound men, or two, 150 pound women to share a lane, after having worked hard all day, etc. I was met with a wall. Seriously, as if I were speaking to a wall. She did her utmost to make my every word invalid, that it was perfectly fine for adults to share lanes. She did not ask me one question about myself. Clearly there was not going to be any sort of compromise. THE SWIM TEAM had the pool.
I had to regroup. THE SWIM TEAM had won the battle. I decided, the best thing for me would be to go earlier in the day, and leave around 4pm. What was interesting as well, that every time I checked in, for about the first 3 or 4 weeks, I was met with a friendly face, which immediately, once my name came up on the screen, changed. It was palpable. I was determined, and frankly, did not care one way or another if there was a red flag next to my name. I simply wanted to swim. Which is exactly what I have done this summer. Hundreds upon hundreds of laps. I remained sunshiny and polite, and I have met some wonderful people at the pool. I have received some unexpected compliments along the way. I have not seen one yellow bathing cap, I have not crossed paths with THE SWIM TEAM since that first day, June 2. My plan worked.
So, in light of what we have just witnessed at the Olympics, with the bad behavior of a few entitled members of THE SWIM TEAM taking over headlines (the Media is a whole other post, which will probably never be written here), this is what I have learned at the pool this summer. I had never witnessed 'entitled' first hand until my short, but somewhat profound encounter with THE SWIM TEAM on June 2. It is up to the ADULTS to teach our children, and the children in our charge, starting at a very young age, that it is NOT OKAY to push anyone aside because you have arrived, that it is NOT OKAY to think that you are better than anyone because you belong to a team, that it is NOT OKAY even if you have won Gold Medals at the Olympics or if you are on the Stanford SWIM TEAM to be anything other than a kind, compassionate, empathetic, human being. I think, I pray, that the children I encountered were young enough, that here is hope that they will not believe the terrible lie and that 'entitled' will never be a part of their vocabulary, even if the word itself is never spoken.
I have 2 full weeks left before the outdoor pool closes. I have had a great great time at the pool this summer, and, in a way, I feel very much like I WON THE WAR!!
Sunday, July 31, 2016
|The chosen one...|
I have Mom and Dad's bridge table and chairs. I always remember them being there, which renders them antiques (and, me as well)!!! They have never been recovered or reupholstered and after all this time, they were looking pretty shabby. So, I decided to have a go at it. The thought stayed with me for a while until I actually pulled off the worn material from one of the chairs. It was nasty, just because the chairs are old. The all important question of what to cover them with, also stayed with me for a while. We recently went to the Cherry Creek Art Festival in Denver, where I got allot of great ideas for framing my photos, and that was good. However, as the day went on, we wound up going into a store which carries only handmade wares from around the world. I spotted some beautiful material. I touched it, I stayed with it for a time, and then I realized, I have drawers full of Mom's old tablecloths!! Why spend 100's of dollars for a piece of material when I have my own stash at home. That's when it all kicked in. As soon as we got home, I immediately started rummaging through my drawers and found this one. I love this tablecloth, and it had a hole in it which was un-fixable. I double checked to make sure it did not have napkins to go with it. It did not, so, I was ready to proceed.
|Laundry mark from Ding-Ho laundry...|
As always, I see the finished product in my head, but, the work is always more than anticipated. This was no different. Just getting the stripped seats unscrewed and off of the chairs was a to-do, as they had not been touched in decades. The answer was easy, 3-In-1 Oil. Once that was done, I laid out the table cloth, then, with a deep breath, took a scissor to this precious material. Interestingly, I found the laundry mark, which was on all of our linens and tablecloths growing up. I will never forget the many many trips to Ding Ho Laundry, on 20th street off of 1st Avenue, picking up carefully wrapped packages of crisp, clean linens. This little piece of material, with the number on it will be saved.
|Work space from above...|
|Before and after...|
|Before and after...|
|One singular sensation...|
I used the tablecloth itself as a grid, because, well, you see the pics. I carefully cut the batting and 'stuffing'. The wood seats are so thin, but extremely sturdy (they really do not make things the way they used to), I was not sure the upholstery nails I bought would work, I thought they might be just a little too long, but, most thankfully, they worked. The first chair was the hardest to do. I could see that there was no way I could hammer these tiny, sharp nails into the seats without doing permanent damage to my right hand, which was attempting to hold the nails in place. After trial and error, I wound up using one of my jewelry tools to hold the nails and, lo and behold, it worked very well. Hammering, I might add is an excellent way to vent, to express frustration, oh, I don't know, about a few things. I took my time finishing this project. The Art Festival in Denver was the weekend of July 4th, and I completed everything yesterday. I polished the chairs and Scotch-Guarded the newly covered seats. Getting them screwed back on the chairs, was also a to-do, as some of them would not 'take', at first. I was determined, and now all 4 seats are secure! Each chair is a little different, as you can see, but I like that. And of course, The Girl, with her million places to curl up, picked the used work sheet. The chairs have been re-distributed around the house, all of us very pleased with the 'new' look of what was old, made new-ish!!! Do it yourself....