Looking for Green Fields

Once there were green fields kissed by the sun,
Once there were valleys where rivers used to run.

Green fields are gone now, parched by the sun,
Gone from the valleys where rivers used to run . . .

What do you see when you look out your window? I once saw a healthy green lawn and tall, leafy trees. Now? Thanks to the drought in California, the lawn is mostly brown. The trees are dropping crisp tan leaves that should have stayed on the branches for months to come. We’re allowed to water 5 minutes twice a week. That’s it. Much of the green is gone now. So, when we traveled to Michigan recently, we marveled at all the green, everywhere.

A day at Greenfield (!) Village gave us green vistas in every direction. Here are some of the sights, seen through my green-starved eyes.

Once you lose something, you realize how much you took it for granted. Now, every green blade of grass is something to treasure.

How about you? What do you see out your window? I hope your view is lovely this week.

Linking up with Little Things Thursday and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where my song choice is “Green Fields” by The Brothers Four (1960) — an oldie but goodie!

You’ve Got a Friend

You just call out my name,
and you know wherever I am
I’ll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
all you got to do is call
and I’ll be there,
You’ve got a friend.
– Carole King

We met Huntley our granddog this spring when he was just 5 months old. One sunny morning we visited the dog park in Kansas City. Huntley made so many new friends!

Huntley sandwich.

Bon jour, Frenchie.

The large lake is a popular feature of the park.

His “person” told me this working dog has appointed himself an important job. He is guardian of the stick. He is friendly, but he takes this responsibility seriously.

Follow the leader, so fun.

Isn’t she lovely?

Still working . . .

Stately, even when soaking wet.

Still working . . . (I fell in love with this guy) . . .

Terrier fur. Spending the morning with this little bundle of goodwill showed me how fun it can be to make new friends. No matter the age, size, color, shape, personality of those approaching, Huntley anticipates and enjoys a meet-and-greet. What a great idea for us people, too, right?!

A few months later, Huntley traveled to California to visit us. He made friends here, too. When we ventured to a local lake, he met this little girl with an oxygen tank in her tiny backpack. She and her mother are from Russia and spoke no English. But no words were needed; Huntley made her smile and laugh.

How about you? Have you made any new friends lately? Huntley’s a great role model. I’m hoping he visits us again soon!

Linking up with Little Things Thursday and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where my song choice is “You’ve Got a Friend” by Carole King.

Fireworks

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, show ‘em what you’re worth
Make ‘em go, “Aah, aah, aah”
As you shoot across the sky.

You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine;
Just own the night like the 4th of July.
– Katy Perry

Do you enjoy a grand fireworks show? We made our way to the local park with hundreds of others to watch fireworks this 4th of July. Families sat on blankets on the lawn while young kids scampered around. Glow necklaces lit up the darkness as we waited in anticipation. Finally, the first zinging rocket climbed higher and higher and burst open in the black sky.

The song “Firework” ran through my mind as we all watched entranced. I love the idea that we all have inside us that spark. We may be afraid to let it show, afraid to try, afraid to attempt to create. But look at fireworks and you’ll see there’s such variety. No right and wrong, just so many shapes and sizes and colors.

I swear this burst has a red heart in the middle. See it?

And these look like palm trees.

Some fireworks are perfectly shaped.

But at the end, the grand finale gets messy. Smoke and bursts of light pile up in the sky and the boom-boom-boom gets loud.

When you look at fireworks, you can see the beauty is in the differences.

Baby, you’re a firework
Come on, let your colors burst
Make ‘em go, “Aah, aah, aah”
You’re gonna leave ‘em all in awe, awe, awe.

Boom, boom, boom,
Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It’s always been inside of you, you, you
And now it’s time to let it through.

How about you? Are you thinking about trying something new? Creating something you’re afraid to try? Think about the fireworks and be inspired. It’s fine to be messy and free. Let your colors burst!

Linking up with Wednesday Around the World and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where my song choice is “Firework” by Katy Perry.

 

 

A Picture of Love, Sweet Love

What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
It’s the only thing
That there’s just too little of . . .

Have you seen love, sweet love in action lately? Here’s the story of a recent time that love swirled around me and melted my heart. My family spent a day touring the Henry Ford Museum and most of the time all of us enjoyed it to the hilt, including the youngest of our family, Hunter.

In the morning, each young one chose a toy from the plastics machine. Before your eyes, the machine pours hot plastic and molds the toy, which then falls, still warm, out of the chute into eager little hands. Hunter chose a silver train. He carried it all around.

Hunter hung out with me outside the textile shop because spools of thread are not really very interesting when you’re 4 years old. See the train in his hand?

If you watch very long, you see the bond between Hunter and his dad. They oohed and ahhed over a miniature train set.

They learned about spinning wool.

We all enjoyed the tin maker’s shop.

All went well until we rode a horse-drawn wagon through the streets. Several families journeyed around the park on this train. Suddenly we heard a cry. Hunter had dropped the train out the window. His dad promised to run back and look for it the second the train stopped, but Hunter couldn’t be consoled.

Blocks later, the ride came to the end of the line. Dad bolted away down the street, sprinting back to the place Hunter lost his train. Soon, he reappeared around the corner, waving the little train. By a miracle, he found it!

Hunter ran to his dad as fast as his little legs could go. He leaped into Dad’s arms and wouldn’t let go. He didn’t grab for the train. He just held tight to his daddy’s neck.

Love, sweet love is stronger than a treasured toy train. Stronger than anything else.

The rest of the day, we all made sure Hunter and his train stuck close. Here he’s playing with it while we sat in the courtroom where Abraham Lincoln tried cases.

Hunter came home that night holding the train in his hand, and his daddy’s love in his heart.

How about you? Have you seen a picture of sweet love lately?

Linking up with Wednesday Around the World, Life Thru the Lens, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where my song choice is “What the World Needs Now Is Love” by Jackie DeShannon, recorded by Diana Ross.

The Last Time I Saw Paris

The last time I saw Paris
Her heart was warm and gay
I heard the laughter of her heart
In every street café.
– Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein

Do you enjoy knowing the layers of changes the years have brought to a place? One of the joys of visiting Paris is wandering the elegant streets and taking in the history behind the beauty.

Notre Dame, for example, stands by the Seine River as it has done almost since of founding of the city.

Nearby is the sprawling former home of kings and queens, now known as the Louvre. You can hang out in the front yard.

The Eiffel Tower, symbol of Paris, is a more recent addition to the landscape, first appearing in 1889. It’s just as thrilling as ever to stand beneath this massive structure and marvel at this engineering feat.

The famous sculpture of The Thinker is in the garden of the last home of Rodin. The Thinker sits in stone as the flowers come and go with the seasons and visitors meander through the manicured lawns.

And just a few blocks from this peaceful garden is the gold dome that guards the tomb of France’s general Napoleon.

You can visit the Shakespeare and Company bookstore and trace the footsteps of authors such as Ernest Hemingway.

The song, “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” has a fascinating story. It was written for a musical before WWII. By the time the song won an Oscar, the war had started and Paris went dark. In the years right after the liberation of the city, this song was played often, with a new meaning to the words written earlier.

Yeah, the last time I saw Paris
Her heart was warm and gay
No matter how they change her
I’ll remember her that way.

Paris did change, becoming the City of Light once again, but war times would not be forgotten. Today, plaques around Paris commemorate those who fought for its freedom. On this wall at the center of the city is a tribute to liberation and it hangs right below some of the damage from bullets suffered on that liberation day.

Fresh flowers hang on the walls here and there, testament that those who fought for freedom in that most recent war are remembered and honored.

The last time I saw Paris, I fell in love with this city of inexhaustible depth and loveliness. I dream of going back and experiencing once again the heart of this place.

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, Life Thru the Lens, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. The first photo of the Eiffel Tower is edited with a Kim Klassen texture. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where my song choice is “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein.

 

Touring the Henry Ford Museum

Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long.
If you’re going my way
I wanna drive it all night long.
Sung by Rascal Flatts

More than anyone else in America, Henry Ford is associated with the automobile. Ford’s Model T helped move the country from the horse and buggy era to a nation that moves on a highway. The company he founded still manufactures cars and trucks that populate our roadways.

We toured the Henry Ford museum in Detroit and marveled at the variety of cars collected in one place. Through the years, so many different models have carried people to and fro and here and there.

Some are fancy.

Some are classic.

Some designs never caught on.

Ford and his company proved successful for many reasons. He had vision and the ambition to try and fail and try again. Two of his companies went bust before he designed the Model T. Some of the cars he sold after that didn’t last long.

Ford kept at it, though. He adapted to changing economies. During WWII, his company produced the Jeep. It’s no exaggeration to say that this fine vehicle helped the Allies win the war.

A tour of the Henry Ford museum inspires us to dream, to experiment, to press on again after failure, to be willing to learn and change and try a new way.

If you’re in the area, plan to spend a day exploring the Henry Ford. Think about the innovation and bravery it took to design, fail, design, fail, and go for it one more time.

And the most fun? You can ride in a Model T on streets closed to modern traffic. As you zip by a horse-drawn wagon, you feel the speed and wonder that this auto brought to life a hundred years ago.

How about you? Have you visited an inspiring place lately?

Photos are taken at the Henry Ford museum in Michigan — an enjoyable experience for all ages!

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, Life Thru the Lens, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. The last photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s Lightroom preset “Chocolate.” Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where my song choice is “Life Is a Highway” recorded by Rascal Flatts.

 

 

Tis the Gift to Be Simple

Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free,
Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be . . .

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend, we will not be ashamed,
To turn, turn, will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.
Shaker song

Plant. Grow. Harvest. Eat. This is the simple cycle of the  grains, vegetables, and fruits that sustain our lives. Driving through the countryside in Michigan recently, I found farms everywhere that remind us of this cycle of life.

These are places where the simple life of planting and growing crops takes place. But so many of the buildings are decaying. They lean, cry out for paint and repair, show their age.

My family told me this structure was upright just a week earlier.

For this city girl, a tour of farm country is fascinating. I do fear, though, that this simple way of life is endangered.

Just a few miles on a busy road and I was once again in the city, passing large grocery stores and restaurants. I’ll treasure the afternoon I spent in farm country, though. Life just seemed simpler for a little while.

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. Some photos are edited with Kim Klassen’s Lightroom presets. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where my song choice is “Tis the Gift to Be Simple.”

 

 

School Days, School Days

In honor of school coming to a close for the year, here’s a glimpse of school days in the late 1800s. We spent a day in rural Michigan learning about what it was like to attend a one-room schoolhouse in 1870.

School days, school days
Dear old Golden Rule days,
Reading and writing and ‘rithmetic . . .
The youngest kids sat across the front.

The oldest (who were the parents during our visit) sat in back.

The children learned to write on their slates.

They read their McGuffey readers.

One of the youngest raised his hand and asked the teacher how old she is. She laughed and answered him.

At recess, simple, old-fashioned games kept the kids interested. Stilts require a bit of skill. Young and old enjoyed the challenge. (I tried but sadly would have earned a failing grade in stilting.)

Hoops, jump rope, and tug of war . . .

After recess, the children filed back into the class, but they were a bit squirrely.

Soon the school day ended and the children spent the afternoon catching frogs in the pond. (No frogs were harmed during this activity; they either were placed back in the water or jumped out of the hands that were holding them — ha ha!)

These are children raised on electronics, who play Wii and smartphone games. But for a day the calendar turned back more than a hundred years, and they were happy as could be. I loved seeing the enthusiasm, joy, and wonder in their eyes.

How about you? Have you spent time going retro, back to a simpler time, and really enjoyed yourself?

Photos are taken at the Chippewa Nature Center in Michigan — a wonderful place to visit!

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, Life Thru the Lens, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. Some photos are edited with Kim Klassen’s Lightroom presets. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where my song choice is “School Days.”

A Morning in Bayeux

Oh, what a beautiful morning
Oh, what a beautiful day!

This song sparks memories of a beautiful morning we enjoyed in the Normandy town of Bayeux. Spared by bombing in WWII, this village lies just 4 miles inland from the D-Day beaches. It boasts cobblestone streets and buildings that are hundreds of years old.

We decided to join the locals and walk to the Saturday morning market. We made a friend along the way, too.

The town square comes alive for these markets, with splashes of bright color everywhere.

I’m sure the French folks can tell from our accented “Bon jour” that we don’t live here, but everyone greets us warmly and we mingle happily. People shop with children and pets in tow.

You can find flowers, scarves, clothing, bags.

And the food – oh, the food.

This calls for a picnic! Fruits and cheese, of course. Choosing cheese is serious business. I recommend the camembert. It melts in your mouth.

Then, it’s on to the bread store down the street. Isn’t baking bread one of the best smells?

A little sweetness to top off our lunch.

We bagged up our purchases and headed out enjoy the countryside. Oh, what a beautiful day!

How about you? Have you spent a delightful morning discovering a new place?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, Life Thru the Lens, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. The last photo is edited with Kim Klassen’s Lightroom preset Dreamlike. Also linking up with the song-inspired party, Song-ography, where the song is “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.”

Searching for Flowers

I must have flowers, always, and always.
                                   -Claude Monet

Do you have flowers where you live? Here in southern California, the drought has turned places that should be green and flower-filled into patches of dried grass. The yellow wild flowers bloomed early in the season and are nearly gone. I’ve been watching the agapanthus buds shoot up lately around my house, ready to bloom in the next few weeks. But today I got home to find the construction crew working on my neighbor’s roof trampled a bunch of the plants today. When I told the carpenter that made me sad, his response was to complain about the complicated job. So it’s not a stellar year for flowers, but I did find beauty in a nursery where the plants get tender care, plenty of water, and lots of love. The purples and touches of yellow were exquisite.

I’ll take beauty where I can find it this season. Some years are more colorful, less weighed down with trouble. Still, even in this dry spring, the wonder of a flower  is worth searching out.

How about you? What’s blooming where you live?

Linking up with Texture Tuesday, Wednesday Around the World, Life Thru the Lens, and Sweet Shot Tuesdays. The first is edited with Kim Klassen’s Lightroom preset Dreamlike.

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