Thursday, November 24, 2022

Thanksgiving Repeat


I have probably already blogged about this previously, but Thanksgiving Day urges me to repeat: 

When I don’t quite know how to pray about a specific challenge in my life or someone else's life, I just borrow one of Paul’s prayers. This one is from Paul's letter to the Christ followers in Philippi.

Philippians 1:9-11 NIV And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:9-11 NIV

What a comfort it is to know that I can put family and friends in the hands of One whose nail-scarred hands are infinitely more capable than mine! 

May your day be filled with blessings and that you are able to recognize them for the gift the are.


he Water Keeper by Charles Martin.  (Murphy shepherd Novel Book 1)The Water Keeper by Charles Martin.  (Murphy shepherd Novel Book 1)

A Home For Exercise

When we planned for our downsized home, we included a carport with a concrete ramp beside it up to the entry door. The ramp was also under the roof. 

It offers a great space for me to walk with my rollator down our concrete ramp, around the carport and back up the ramp to the entry door landing then back down and around again til I'm bored or tired. 

Another exercise that the ramp encourages has me leaving the rollator locked on the entry landing. I step to face the hand rail on the east side of the ramp and hold on with my right hand. I step to the side with my "good" foot, then bring my left foot next to the right foot. 

It sounds simple, but getting that stroke-affected left foot close to my right foot is a challenge. I repeat the process until the end of the hand rail. At that point I head back up, leading with my left foot, and bringing the right foot next to my left foot.  

That was one of the many challenging exercises that my physical therapist had me do when I was in the therapy "gym" after my 2011 hemorrhagic stroke. The difference is that holding on was a no no, but usually two or more therapists were grasping my gait belt then. 

Now, stepping solo, I feel no guilt in hanging on to that railing for dear life. Ramp and railing are just a few of the features that make us thankful for Kris Hines, our building contractor. 

He took our rough ideas and capitalized on the natural features of our property. The result is a down-sized home we cherish. He also fine-tuned features we wanted that help me maintain some degree of independence and mobility.

Earlier in his career his construction experience in anther state was with companies that focused on upscale housing developments. He was overseeing building entire new neighborhoods using the same few blueprints the company provided.

I'm nosy. I asked him why he left such a lucrative position.

He preferred working with folks who were looking for help to turn their ideas into the home they envisioned. 

He said his goal was to take advantage of the natural features of a property and build homes that meet the needs and dreams of the owners.

I think he was bored with cookie cutter houses. 

He was a thoughtful guide and champion throughout the construction process for our home. We needed a champion. 

There were some subcontractors in the building trades who, after receiving specifications seemed to view specifications as suggestions and they could just do whatever. 

Kris made sure things were done the way we planned. 

That was about six years ago, and this well-loved abode is showing some wear. Hubby had to repair the kitchen faucet recently, but our home is still giving pleasure. 

Today, cooler temps had us enjoying morning breakfast by the fire in our wood stove. 

Afterwards Hubby exited to our screened porch with his computer and with a sweatshirt on to enjoy the brisk 52-degree breeze.  

That may seem warm for some of you folks from the north or higher elevations, but that is cold for coastal Mississippi. 

It's not surprising this time of the year to have cold days here followed by days that call for air conditioning. 

A few days earlier, breakfast was in front of our wood stove with temperatures in the 40s. 

After breakfast, I wore my heavy jacket for a drive to our local coffee shop. Once inside ceiling fans and what felt like AC had me snugging my heavy jacket over my shoulders as I enjoyed hot tea and blogging.

With age I can usually tolerate cold weather a bit better than in my younger adult years. Back then October was when I took out thermal underwear to wear beneath slacks or jeans. Now I'm comfortable and happy in slacks unless it's freezing or near freezing and windy.

Praying that this day is filled with good weather and joyful moments for you.


Saturday, November 19, 2022

Smoky Mountains 9/25-10/2/22

After almost a week of dry weather, Day 7 of our camping in the Smoky Mountain National Park was wet, wet, wet!

It was also the day before heading home for us and our oldest son and family who had joined us for the last few days of our camping trip. 

Breakfast that rainy day was a delicious day-before-departure meal out of the rain at the Log Cabin Pancake House in Gatlinburg, Tenn. 

After our morning feast our son and family declined our invitation to join us for the traditional photo at the sign near the national park's entrance just outside of Gatlinburg.

They had a schedule of touristing activities planned but met us for an evening meal at Marco's Pizza, a family favorite that offered indoor seating out of the rain. 

Hubby and I had enjoyed five days and most of the sixth day of beautiful weather.

Even the wet day was full and happy for this grandma.

The afternoon that son and his wife and three youngest arrived, we made our traditional pilgrimage through Cade's Cove. At the Cove's entry, the grands climbed into the bed of their dad's truck.

They  had the coldest ride but also the best view of the mountains, scenery, wildlife, and a dramatic sunset in the Cove. 

Missing was our oldest grand. His class schedule kept him hard at work at college.

With age, some traditions have changed for us, but Hubby still rustled up tasty breakfasts for chowing down around a morning campfire at our Elkmont campsite. After breakfast the younger Skupien family headed out for hiking and touristing. 

Hubby and I enjoyed the campfire, a walk around the campground and a drive to explore.

As evening approached, everyone gathered back at our campsite and campfire. Young and old contributed to the evening meals through hands-on preparation plus keeping the fire, conversation and laughter going.  

Dessert involved toasting marshmallows over the fire for assembling s'mores, a required camping tradition.

The last morning our son and family headed out on their return trip to home, work and school. Hubby broke camp. These days my job is to stay out of the way!

  Our not-quite traditional farewell to the Smokies
with just us at the national park sign


Saturday, November 5, 2022

Traveling for Wedding Bells

Hubby and I hit the road in early September for the wedding of nephew Matthew and Katelyn, his bride-to-be. 

The rehearsal and wedding were outdoors in a beautiful rural area of northern Maryland on family property between Katelyn's childhood home and her grandparents' home.

Both homes were above a lovely green valley, just a small section of the property passed down and treasured by the family for generations. 

I was seated next to Katelyn's grandmother at the rehearsal supper and enjoyed her account of the family history entwined with their acres and acres of farmland and forest.

The wedding the next day was filled with music and scripture that honored God and celebrated His plan for the couple's commitment and loving treatment of each other.

It was also child friendly. The brothers of the bride ushered  Matthew's and Katelyn's parents to their seats.

Departure from tradition had each brother holding a tiny baby in one arm. Those infants were cooperative, snuggled and content with their daddies while their moms served as bridesmaids.

After the ceremony and before a wedding luncheon, we joined others taking advantage of chairs and benches set up beneath a large circle of old oak trees that provided shady comfort. 

There were even corn hole and other games set up for guests during the wait. 

Then surprise, surprise, a personal chauffeur appeared. Katelyn's grandfather showed up in one of those Gator rigs to transport me to the barn, location of the luncheon. 

He drove up a steep ramp and into the barn. I had been wanting to ride in one of those for ages, and it didn't disappoint.

Hubby appeared to help me ooze out of the Gator, and my brother led us to our seats.

If that barn had ever been used for farm animals, it had to have been decades ago. It was pristine. 

There were banquet tables with white table cloths, flowers, and greenery. Lovely strings of white lights and the aroma of pulled pork, brisket and sides competed for my attention as the bridal party and guests were welcomed.

After Matthew and Katelyn did the traditional dance, some of the groomsmen and bridesmaids followed with fancy dance moves and some impromptu moves that were hilarious.

The food was delicious and this old lady's taste buds demanded seconds. I could barely resist eating thirds and fourths. But people watching was also a treat, especially watching our little great nieces. 

The six- and five-year-olds were flower girls. The two younger ones had weeks earlier convinced their mother and grandmother that as wedding guests, they needed white dresses with blue sash and bow just like the flower girls. 

They had no responsibilities, but their pride in their "wedding dresses" was apparent as they and the flower girls twirled and danced while their parents enjoyed food and fellowship.

With the day's events and a full tummy, my stamina was spent. Hubby and I savored goodbye hugs. While my brother walked us to the exit, I tried to spot the wedding cake. 

I don't think there was one. I liked what I saw even better--a humongous tiered cupcake holder with huge, scrumptious looking cupcakes in lots of varieties

Yum! Perfect! Hubby's selection was one of the various golden versions. Mine was a spectacular chocolate creation. 

My brother helped us across the expanse between the barn and our van. 

I can't remember if an additional cupcake or two appeared after we were on the road. Maybe it was just the huge size of each cupcake. Or maybe my brother had sent us off with an extra dose of wedding joy. 

Whichever, the cupcakes sure distracted me from weepiness at saying goodbye to loved ones and leaving for the journey from northern Maryland to home on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.