Sunday, July 27, 2008

Some Places We've Been, And Things We've Seen.

My granddaughter Mckenzie and her dad left for home Saturday morning, after spending 6 days with me. We had a wonderful time visiting, eating, going places, and just being together. I thought I'd post a few of the many pictures I took. I hope you enjoy them.

As we were heading to Big Spring State Park in Van Buren, Missouri, I took this picture of the scenic view from the car window.

We decided to have lunch at the beautiful stone Lodge, in the park. Here is Mckenzie posing nicely at the entrance to the Lodge.

Big Spring State Park is a beautiful park. Unfortunately, after lunch, when we went to the spring itself, my camera gave me the message that my memory card was full! Ugh! But at least I have a few pictures, like this one of the Lodge itself.

The view from the window inside the Lodge, where we sat and enjoyed a delicious lunch, while we also enjoyed the view of the river below.

Our favorite place to hang out, besides at home, was our little cabin on the river. We spent most of our time there.

Our favorite vehicle to cruise the river on.

Heading down to the water for a swim. Let's go Nana!
Back in March, when we had the flood around here, the water came up right to the edge of deck, where Mckenzie is in the picture, but fortunately, never actually got to the cabin itself. The cabin does sit on a hill, about 50 feet from the river.

Swimming in the Current River is fun and especially nice when the temperatures are sizzling!

Hope you enjoyed the pictures. Thank you for reading. I am so behind on visiting, but will catch up with everyone this week. Have a wonderful week. Hope it's cooler where you are!

PS. I miss you, Mckenzie, but will see you in October! Maya misses you, too! xoxo

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Having a Good Time Together!

We have been having a wonderful time going places, and just being together. Although I don't like to post pictures of myself, here is one taken yesterday, wrinkles and all, with my favorite guest. We're off on another adventure together today. Have a happy rest of the week, everyone!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Twilight in the Woods, and an Award!

Just a song a twilight,
when the lights are low,
And the flick'ring shadows softly come and go,
Tho' the heart be weary, sad the day and long,
Still to us at twilight comes Love's old song,
comes Love's old sweet song.
--From Love's Old Sweet Song, Lyrics by G. Clifton Bingham

Because I'm surrounded by thick woods on all sides, I never get beautiful sunsets around here, though sunrises can be spectacular in the winter, when the leaves are off the trees.

But I do get what I consider a magical phenomenon, at this time of the year. The setting sun's long arm reaches over to the eastern side of the property, and creates a lovely light show. Sometimes, in the tree tops, sometimes in the sky, as was the case the other evening, at twilight. I took this photo from my kitchen window, of the wispy clouds, illuminated by the setting sun, just before darkness fell. Isn't it lovely?

As I was watching the darkness descend, the chorus of the very old song, Love's Old Sweet Song, came to mind. I could only remember the first two lines, but Eileen remembered the rest of it, and sang it to me over the phone, while I wrote it down. :-) I thought the words went perfectly with the picture, and I've been humming the lovely melody all week.

I would also like to acknowledge an exceptionally nice award I received from Ann , or Ancient One, a few days ago.
Isn't it nice? Thank you so much, Ann. I am honored to receive it. I would like to pass this award on to all my blogging friends. You all have a Brilliante Weblog, in my book!

My older son Joe is arriving from Ohio tomorrow, bringing along my eight year old granddaughter, Mckenzie, and I'm looking forward to having them here for almost a week. The cats and dogs around here can't wait to see Mckenzie either, since she is more fun to have around then a barrel of monkeys!

Have a wonderful week, everyone, and God Bless!

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Purple Castle that Inspired this Writer.

Finally, I have managed to upload some of the images of the Purple Castle that has inspired my imagination for years now. Unfortunately, the exterior of the house is neglected. So use your imagination and imagine this unusual house in a beautiful green setting, with colorful flowers all around it, instead of the dead grass and weeds that actually do surround it. And think of a man and wife, who had a dream of building a unique house, 14 years ago, and actually did it. All the work, from beginning to the present, was done by the two of them. They designed it, and built it together from the ground up, which is quite an accomplishment, if you think about it. Above, you see the backside of the house. When I shot this photo, I was afraid to step back anymore than I already had, because just a few feet behind me is a steep ravine/hill. This is the side that you see in the winter, when the trees on the huge hill the house sits on, are leafless. And as you're traveling on the highway below the hill, you get this glimpse of the Purple Castle, looking down on all travellers. (Well, okay, the purple house that sort of resembles a castle.) And that's Sandra standing to the side. I didn't realize she was in the picture until I uploaded it. Duh!
This is the front side of the house with its purple fence, as it faces a two-lane blacktop road. It is where Eileen and I were parked, when I ventured out to take pictures of the house, and Sandra came out and gave me permission to take as many shots as I wanted.
As you can see, the porch is stacked up with furniture and other stuff which isn't exactly flattering looking, but you can nevertheless see the unusual architecture of the house.
This is a giant, wall-sized painting, inside the house, of a magnificent buck, done by Sandra, who is an artist. Isn't it beautiful? She said the painting was a labor of love, even though it took some time to finish it. Click on the picture to enlarge it and see it in all its glory!

As a writer, I enjoy doing exercises that are called prompts. The Purple Castle became my prompt and inspired a story. A fantasy fiction type story. It is slowly evolving, and it's about an unhappy, lonely woman who has the reoccurring dreams of a beautiful, Purple Castle. She begins to love the dream so much, that she doesn't want to wake up again! Well, that is all I will give away about the plot of this story, but Eileen is already talking about making it into a movie, with the theme music in the background to be "Deep Purple." LOL. But I'm just hoping to get a short story out of it, even if just for my own satisfaction.

I have several more pictures of both the exterior and the interior, but I think the few that I have chosen to upload, were good choices. As always, click on the pictures to get a larger, full view of them.

Well, I have made this post long enough for now. I hope you enjoyed seeing this writers inspiration from a lovely Purple Castle!

Thank you for reading. Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Success at Last!

The other day, I was reading blogging friend Linda's This and That blog post, when I discovered a solution to my grrrrr problem! Linda wrote about being ticked off because she forgot to take her memory card out of the reader, so even though she had her camera along at the 4th of July cookout she attended, she couldn't take any pictures! So she was ticked off! And who can blame her?

But you know something? I was glad she forgot her memory card, because writing about it, I had the chance to find out about memory card readers. Sorry, Linda, but it's true. :-)

Memory card reader? I have never heard of it. Could this possibly be a solution to my uploading problems? I called our local Radio Shack and asked about it, and the guy said, "Yep, it will work with your camera. It works with any digital camera." So I went to town yesterday, and bought a memory card reader, and voila, I can get my pictures uploaded from my camera! Woo Hoo!

The last few days, I have been enjoying taking pictures of sun and shade, light and dark, and although they are not real good pictures, I thought I'd show them anyway.

This is Dottie, the doe with the lump on her face. I wrote about her before. She's had this growth on her side for almost six years now but seems to be doing well. The other afternoon, she was standing in the shady side of the field, watching me, while the sun shone brightly behind her. I thought the sun and shade effect makes an interesting shot.
Yesterday at dawn, this young doe was out in the front early. I saw her from the kitchen window and went out with my camera. Her glowing eyes make her look surreal, don't you think? But she posed for me nicely.

Here is my front yard in the early morning. This picture really has to be enlarged to see the sun and shade better.
And here the sun was playing peek-a-boo through the tree tops.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my sun and shade attempts. I'm just happy I can upload pictures again, and will post my purple castle pictures soon.

Have a great day, everyone!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Two American Ladies-A Story

I was fourteen when I boarded the old Navy ship, The General M. B. Stewart, in the port of Bremen, Germany. I was with my grandparents, who raised me, and hundreds of other people, many of them Hungarians like us,who were fortunate enough to have been accepted to immigrate to America.World War II had torn apart our lives and displaced us, making us refugees.

Though our arms ached from all the required shots, our hopes and dreams soared as we began our journey to America. Our prayers had been answered. Once aboard ship, women and children were ushered to one huge area below deck, men and older boys to another. Then we were all assigned sleeping quarters. I got the upper bunk, Grandma the lower. Grandpa, of course, went with the men. After settling in with our meager belongings, Grandma and I joined Grandpa up on deck.

As the ship pulled out to sea, the people on shore waved and shouted"Auf Wiedersehn" (until we meet again), and many had tears in their eyes, for we knew we would never see our homeland again. I remember studying my grandparents’ faces; their teary eyes revealed the bittersweet feeling I shared. But we were on our way to America, the land of golden opportunities. We had heard so much about America from friends who had gone before us. And two years before our departure, I started studying English in the refugee camp school, but my command of it was still poor.

Our Atlantic crossing took ten days, most in raging, stormy seas. My grandmother was seasick much of that time, but I thrived and soon made some new friends. A young America named Dave, who worked in the enormous galley, brought me my first Coke, a new taste delight. Then he asked me where I was going in America.

"I go to India," I had told Dave, shyly. He smiled at me and said, "That’s probably Indiana. Not India. In-di-an-a," he emphasized the last part, adding, "You will like America."

"In America, everything will be okey-dokey," I giggled, using the new phrase I had picked up from Dave.

Most of the kids on the ship whiled away the hours playing games and watching Roy Rogers movies in the huge recreation room. There was also plenty of excitement. One day while a friend and I were sharing an easy chair, an enormous wave hit the ship, throwing the chair across the room, sending us and everyone else in its path scrambling for safety. In the enormous mess hall, where we had our meals, we often had to hold on to our trays with one hand as we ate, to keep them from sliding off the table. Topside, we’d often watch dolphins at play in the water, bobbing up and down in the great waves. Sometimes, we even saw other ships passing, like the luxury liner The Queen Elizabeth, heading towards Europe with its American passengers! When we chugged past the White Cliffs of Dover, we sang "There’ll Be Bluebirds over the White Cliffs of Dover." Someone in the recreation room had taught us that song.

Then, one morning before dawn, my grandmother awakened me. "Hurry, getup, sweetheart. The lights of New York are visible in the distance!" she told me excitedly. I jumped down from my bunk and quickly dressed, and then we headed out to the deck, where hundreds of people had already gathered.Grandfather was there, waiting for us. I remember gazing sleepily into the black distance, becoming slowly entranced by the trillions of lights out there on the dark horizon. It looked like a fairyland. It was my first look at America! Then, as dawn broke, someone in the crowd shouted, "There she is! There she is! The famous Statue of Liberty!"

Mesmerized, I gazed upon the vision of that grand lady with the torch rising magnificently out of the sea. From my vantage point on the ship, she seemed to hold her torch higher and higher on the New York skyline. I was overcome with emotion and could almost hear Lady Liberty saying the words I had learned in English class at the refugee camp school: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." And it seemed like she was speaking directly to me. That vision is indelibly etched in my memory.

Later, as we pulled into the harbor, the "Star Spangled Banner" played over the loudspeakers, and we learned that it was the national anthem of our new country. Once again, tears filled our eyes, and many others aboard. We had arrived in America! After several hours of being processed, my grandparents and I were finally released to our sponsor, Mr. Levin, and his wife. We traveled with them by train to our new destination, Indiana.

During the long train ride, I answered Mrs. Levin’s questions in my broken English, painfully aware of my shabby condition. But I thought she was the most beautiful, kindest lady I had ever met. After helping us get settled into a small house they had ready for us, Mrs. Levin came by with some news for me.

"You’ll be going to school soon, so tomorrow you and I are going shopping," she announced with a bright smile. ‘And how old did you say you are?"

"I’m almost fifteen," I replied shyly.

"Well, I was thinking that a young lady of almost fifteen might like to get rid of her little-girl braids, so we’ll visit a beauty shop, too." Her smile was so kind and bright that I had the urge to hug her.

"Oh, thank you," I said. "I would like that very much."

So the following day was a day of transformation for me. I got a stylish new haircut and stylish American clothes and shoes. Then Mrs. Levin took me to see a movie, where I got another boost to my adolescent self-confidence when a couple of teen aged boys "made goo-goo eyes" at me in the lobby. That’s what Mrs. Levin said they were doing, while I blushed, but was secretly pleased about it all. She shared many other insights and in many other ways helped a shy young Hungarian girl become a confident young American woman.

So it was on that bright September day in 1951, I met two special American ladies who forever changed my life: one who welcomed me into the land of promise, and one who helped me make my way in this golden land. I will always remember Mrs. Levin’s kindness and Miss Liberty’s warm welcome.

First published in Mature Living Magazine, copyright (c) July 2004

Thank you for reading the long story of one proud American lady! Happy Independence Day, everyone! God bless America!