Friday Faves edition 44

Friday Faves – Edition 44

It’s Friday.

I can’t begin to tell you how relieved that I am that it is Friday. This has been an exhausting week. Mostly because I’ve spent most of it in that “bordering on sick” phase.

You know, the phase where you’re coughing, congested, and have general feelings of malaise, but since you aren’t bedridden, nobody actually thinks that you are sick.

Yeah…that’s been me.

Given this fact and that it’s a busy time of year, participating in this Gratitude Challenge has kept me in a mostly good mental space.

I mentioned in last week’s Friday Faves that the flurries of snow had begun, but weren’t expected to stick. As the evening wore on, the snowfall picked up.

The snow continued and began to stick to the ground.

First Snow.

We awoke to a blanket of snow. Not enough for sledding or snow angels, but enough to cover most of the dull brown. Miss Sunshine wanted to take Maverick for a walk on the Roanoke River Greenway. The hubby, Miss Sunshine, Maverick, and I loaded up in the Jeep and headed over there for a stroll. Maverick loved it and I got a chance to capture some of the beauty of the first snow. I shared some of those photos in Wednesday’s post.

 

 

Maverick the Goldendoodle.

By the next day most of the snow had melted. It was pretty while it lasted. I spent most of Sunday curled up on the couch. Even though I could feel the sickness coming, I went to Pilates on Monday. It was a real good workout… and good that I went. Today was my first time back in the gym this week.

Tuesday I had a hair appointment. I love when I come out of the salon with some fresh color and a nice blow dry. I try to avoid washing my hair as long as possible because I can NEVER get it to blow out as nice as my stylist can. I claim it’s because she can hold the hair dryer and brush at a different angle than I can for my own head, but I suspect the real reason is that I’m lazy. I have a lot of hair and it takes a LONG time to fully dry.

That night, the temperature starting dropping and flurries again. It was in the 20’s F and the wind chill made it feel about 10 or so degrees colder. We were concerned because Mr. D had to close at his job that night. Since he is a recent solo driver, we needed to monitor the roads to be sure they weren’t icing. Otherwise, we would have needed to make alternative plans for him to get home. The roads nearby ended up being fine.

However, Roanoke is a valley. On either end of the county are mountains, Bent Mountain and Catawba Mountain. The weather conditions on them are often much different than in the valley. Apparently they were because around 8 p.m. we got the message that school would be closed the next day. Normally we end up being jarred awake by a 5:30 a.m. call that school is cancelled, so I appreciated the early notice.

Since Wednesday was another freezing day and I was still feeling like junk, it was a lazy day. Miss Sunshine had her end of season soccer dinner that night and shortly before it ended I received a text from the hubby.

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Fire.

The neighbors fire had burnt our fence. This is only a small segment of the damage. When he had walked outside there were four fire trucks at their house. This was between properties so there wasn’t damage to homes. Thank Goodness! You can see that it did singe the ground into our yard. I’m thankful it wasn’t much worse. The trees lining our fence are evergreens planted long before we came. Had those caught on fire, I suspect the outcome would have been much different.

Even though the firemen were confident that the fire was fully out, I admit that my sleep that night was restless. Thoughts of “it only takes one ember to set an entire forest on fire” tried to replay in my brain. I was thankful that the side of the property that the fire happened on was the one that my bedroom faces. It helped give me peace that all of the children’s rooms are much farther away. Still when I would awake in the night, I would glance over toward the blinds to be sure I didn’t see an orange blaze. And yes, I have real issues with anxiety. Given the circumstances, I could actually see and feel the benefits of my meditation practice and the gratitude challenge. I was able to be calm and be thankful in those moments.

Interestingly, the next day’s gratitude prompt was “challenges”. I was like “I’ve got this one covered!”

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Instagram.

Every year, there is website where you can find out your best nine instagram photos for the year. I’m a curious type, so I always check it out. These were my top nine. You all are getting the first view. I’ll be sharing it on Instagram this evening. I’m not surprised that it’s all sunsets. I also think that the results are completely skewed. The changes to Instagram’s algorithms made me virtually invisible on the platform. I think these photos had close to 400 likes, a few had over that. That was already beginning to be lower than the year before. However, after the change, my number dropped to around 150. And not to discredit the sunsets because I loved them when I took them… and still do…but I’ve learned a lot since I took them…like how to make sure the horizon is level (in the beginning, that was hit or miss).

Some days I want to give up on Instagram altogether, but then I remember that I love photography so I keep putting my stuff out there and keep getting inspiration from all the other things on there that I see.

I’m slowly getting ready for the holiday, so that is what I’m off to do for the remainder of the day and into the weekend.

I mentioned that Maverick loved the snow. His favorite part was to eat the snow. I didn’t think I had a video of it, but as I was scrolling through my phone today, I found that Miss Sunshine had indeed captured it on my phone. I put together a silly little YouTube video of him for all of you to see.

Once again, YouTube has recommended an awesome video for the week. This is Vasilis Vasiliou. He is playing the Carol of the Bells on a handpan. It was beautiful to listen to him play. Once fact that he shared in his description which was new information to me was that this was not originally a Christmas Song. The composition is based on a Ukranian folk chant, “Shchedryk”.

According to the information I found at ThoughtCo., the music was composed in 1916. The English lyrics were written to accompany the melody in 1936. While the lyrics are copyrighted, the composition is not.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful instrumental version.

As you go into the weekend and next week, I wish you beautiful days filled with many kindnesses and smiling faces.

Rumi quote "Don't you know yet? It is your light that lights the world.

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

The King's Old Building or The King's House at Stirling Castle

The King’s Old Building At Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle.

When I traveled to Scotland with my mom and aunt at the beginning of June, one of the day trips on our list was traveling to Stirling Castle. I’ve written a little about that day trip in this post.

Stirling Castle is maintained by Historic Environment Scotland, which preserves historic properties across Scotland. They care for over 300 properties whose histories span 5,000 years.

One of the buildings at Stirling Castle is the King’s House. We had seen the King’s House, now known as the King’s Old Building, perched upon Castle Rock while we were walking along the Ladies’ Lookout. If you’d like to have some bearings as to the layout, I’ve linked the castle map here.

Cliffside of Stirling Castle - Stirling Scotland

The King’s House or King’s Old Building.

The King’s House, or King’s Old Building, was built upon Castle Rock for James IV around 1496.

It is believed that a 12th-century timber castle probably once stood here. It is also likely there were even earlier fortifications.

Inner Close.

Coming in to the Inner Close, you can see the front of the King’s Old Building.

Housed inside the building is the Regimental Museum, which traces the history of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders from 1794. Among the many artifacts and exhibits are uniforms, weapons, soldier’s personal items, and even a drum belonging to Drummer Kennedy which saved his life by deflecting a bullet during the Boer War.

Entrance to the museum is free, after having paid for entry to Stirling Castle. However, the museum is maintained through public donations and some funding from the Ministry of Defence, so do consider donating what you can.

 

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Douglas Gardens.

Towards the end of our visit there we meandered toward the Douglas Gardens.

In the map, it is in the walled area below the photo of the Chapel Royal (whose arched windows you see in the photo of the Inner Close).

Tradition holds that after the 8th Earl of Douglas was murdered by James II in 1452, his body was flung out of a window near here.

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North End of The King’s Old Building.

This end of the King’s Old Building was rebuilt after a fire in 1857.

Robert William Billings, the Victorian architect who restored St. Margaret’s Chapel at Edinburgh Castle, was enlisted to complete the restoration.

Not everyone was happy with the baronial style that he chose.

In fact, in 1893, Sir Robert Rowan Anderson, the architect of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery described it as a ‘very pretentious building… utterly out of harmony with all the surroundings, and a great disfigurement to the castle.’ (source: signage on the castle grounds).

Not to be disenchanted, I climbed the stairs for a closer look at the architecture.

I am enchanted by symmetry in architecture and felt this segment of the building held plenty of symmetry.

…and the door! I knew that I had to share this door that was hidden in the Douglas Gardens with all the Thursday Door folks.

Castle Wall.

Located on this north end of the building is also a stairwell that leads up to a section of the castle wall.

The wall walk leads beside the roof of the Magazine, which was built in the Douglas Gardens and dates back to 1681.

From the wall, there is a view of the Nether Bailey and the surrounding countryside.

From these heights, with views spanning as far as the eye can see, you can certainly see why Stirling Castle was built upon Castle Rock.

Given its location between the Highlands and the Lowlands, it’s easy to imagine how it came to be such an important stronghold.

Know before you go:

  • The castle opens daily at 9:30 a.m. Closing times vary. Be sure to check their website before visiting.
  • Ticket prices through March 2018 are £15 (ages 16-59), £9 (ages 5-15), concessions (a word I learned the meaning of while in Scotland) £12, and under 5 (free when accompanied by an adult).
  • Last admission is 45 minutes before closing.
  • Castle admission tickets also include a tour of Argyll’s Lodging, a 17th Century townhouse. (at the time of writing, it’s closed for maintenance, but if it’s open, I highly recommend taking a tour. I enjoyed the furnishings and architecture).
  • It is recommended that you purchase your tickets in advance. We purchased ours at the tourist information center in Stirling. You can’t get a discount on the tickets this way, but you get fast-track admission. The line to get inside Stirling Castle wasn’t long when we visited, but I’ve heard as the summer progresses, the lines get lengthier.
  • Be prepared for all types of weather. It rained for most of the time we were in Stirling.
  • If you take the train, be sure to know what time the last train leaves.
  • Also if you are walking from the train station, bear in mind that the walk is steep.

Every man dies. Not every man really lives. -William Wallace

Let your light shine!

Amy

 

wpc: ascend

Gratitude challenge prompt of music

Gratitude + Music

Gratitude for Music.

Today is Day 11 of my December challenge.

I have pondered each daily prompt of gratitude. I have taken photos. I have shared little snippets on my Instagram story. I have journaled. I collected ideas and thoughts and felt gratefulness for this amazing thing called life.

When I came to today’s prompt, I knew that I wanted to make a post about this prompt… this word… music… because really music embodies so much more than a word.

Playing the guitar plaid blanket

Playing music.

I have always loved music.

My father taught himself how to play the guitar by ear. His father played the banjo and his grandfather played the fiddle (aka, the violin). My dad used to serenade my mother on the shore of the beach back in their dating days. During my youth, whenever a family function would come around, my father would load up his guitar to take with us. As the evening wore on, the adults would crowd round in chairs and the children would lounge on the floor or the ground and my dad would play and my mother would sing. I remember feeling so proud that everyone loved to hear them.

My dad’s record collection was huge and I was forever listening to them and delving into my mom’s box of 45’s. When I’d saved enough money, I started my own music collection. I still remember days of taking my 45’s and trying to find the groove that I’d just removed the needle from as I wrote down the lyrics to the songs (not all music came with the lyrics and you couldn’t just google it).

If you’d think that I got the gift of music, you’d likely be wrong.

I can strum a few cords on a guitar, but I can’t play an entire song.

Singing.

I grew up singing (not solos) in the church, but had no training. I don’t know how to maintain my key when they are playing the high notes on a piano. There came a point as a pre-teen when I just couldn’t hit those notes and resorted to singing falsetto (I didn’t even know that was what it was called, just that it didn’t hurt my vocal cords) or moving my mouth to the words, but emitting no sound.

I took chorus in both 7th and 8th grade. I did have to sing the scales for my teacher in 7th, where I learned I was an alto (kind of obvious). In 8th grade, my chorus teacher had an opportunity to take one alto and one soprano on a field trip to the University of Miami. I was chosen as the alto (Not because I was spectacular. This was a different school than 7th grade and chorus was a new program there. I was chosen because I’d already spent a year taking it.) Our teacher was listening to music on the bus ride over and she let us pop on the headphones. It was scat music and I’d never heard anything like it before. I had never visited a University before. I remember it feeling quite overwhelming (I was 12). The only thing I remember were the warm-ups where we sang “be by be, be by bo, be by bicky, bicky by bicky bo”.

I had no dreams of grandeur as I still probably couldn’t carry a tune. I spent four years of high school in drama where we did musicals aplenty. I took the leftover roles (I loved drama because on stage I played somebody else, but trying out for a part was “me” in front of my peers, something I was highly uncomfortable with and so avoided) which meant the singing was done in crowds.

But long before I sang out tunes, I listened to the words.

Song writing.

This was the first song that I ever wrote. I cringe when I read it, but hey, I was only three or four. We still lived in the school bus  and my brother hadn’t yet been born. We were listening to music and I told my mother that they just kept repeating the same thing (the refrain) and that I could do that. I asked her to write down what I said and this is apparently my genius. There’s a little more on the back, but it’s equally as cringe-worthy.

I remember a time in that 7-10 year-old range when I thought that I’d become a songwriter. I thought that everybody had those type of dreams. It was until recently in a conversation with my husband that I realized musically based dreams are not universal childhood ambitions.

What about you? Did you have any dreams of creating music?

If you’re curious about the inspiration behind my song, given that I was born in 1977 and the lyrics I’ve written, my guess is Baby Come Back by Player.

I can see the similarities. Can you?

 

Cadence.

I have sometimes felt that if I could just crawl inside certain compositions, I could be happy living there. Music calls to a space deep within my soul.

I had a recent conversation with my mother-in-law about my writing. She is the English major that I am not. I was telling her that in certain pieces of my writing (usually my introspective pieces), I try to convey my feeling through a certain cadence.

That is the only term that I can find to explain how the words move through my head.

Cadence is defined as a rhythmic flow of a sequence of sounds or words.

I think about how I would speak the words in a way that would have you journey along with me in the emotions that I am experiencing. Sometimes as the words pour out, they feel like a rushing stream, gliding over rocks and sweeping around bends. At other times, I can’t find the exact words to sweep you along the journey and I recognize that there are  spots where the stream is broken only to pick up again. I think of these moments like the skipping of a rock. Each splash creating a ripple and yet there is a space before the next.

Each concept beautiful in its own way.

Ways that I can’t do justice in trying to describe.

Perhaps this is how I express my music.

With this flowing of words, this spilling of thoughts…

Today, I am grateful.

 

 

Art washes aways from the soul the dust of everyday life - Pablo Picasso

Let your light shine!

Amy

Friday Faves edition 43

Friday Faves – Edition 43

Friday Faves.

This week has felt productive. I can’t put my finger on the why, but I feel like I am on a path forward… not standing still, or worse, moving backward.

As I move toward the end of the year…and closer to the 2 year mark of this blog, I am reviewing the posts that people are interested in reading and those that fall into the “perhaps not so much”. I’m reflecting on how I see things moving forward. I signed up for a trial of Tailwind because I keep reading about how Pinterest is so many people’s source of traffic. I’ve still yet to see that prove valid even though I actually have quite a few monthly viewers to my Pinterest page. So I’m guessing there are things on my part that I should be tweaking and learning. That’s what I’ve been doing in my downtime.

Not that I have much of that!

On Tuesday, I shared that over the weekend we traveled to a Christmas Tree Farm to choose our tree this year.

Christmas Tree

We tend to keep our tree in its natural state and enhance it with some lights and our collection of ornaments. The bottom is intentionally bare this year because we weren’t sure how Maverick (our 65 pound Goldendoodle puppy) would react. So far, he has made no attempts to touch it. I was surprised as he eats every stick and tree branch that he can in the yard. I assume it’s because he knows that he can’t touch the peace lilies that sit beside the fireplace, and therefore realizes a tree inside is a no-no to touch.

Many of our ornaments have deep sentimental meaning to us. Some are handmade, some adorned with photos of my three children who are now teenagers, one on the cusp of adulthood.

I am slowly capturing photos of those ornaments that I hold dear to share in a future post.

This ornament holds no special endearment. What used to be a set of six bulbs has dwindled down to two, the others meeting their demise on tile or wooden floors. The bulb is covered in glitter, yet opaque. I always hang it in front of a light so that its color can shine through. I loved the snowflake design even though I kept a home in Florida for the first fourteen years of home ownership.

Now, we are expecting snow tonight. In fact, there are flurries outside as we speak. I watched Maverick’s eyes grow large when he saw it coming down.I feel a sense of newfound wonder as I watch someone ( a dog in this case) see something for the first time.

I still recall the first time that I saw snow as a person grown enough to remember. I was 21 and in the mountains of Georgia. I looked out the window and was pretty sure it was snow. But if I were incorrect, then I would be disappointed. So instead, I said to the hubby… “look, it’s raining ice”. He told me that it was indeed snow and I was so excited! Perhaps he had a moment of newfound wonder through my eyes?

I have been consistent with my December Challenge. I have shared a moment of gratitude from the prompt each day on my Instagram Story. I am also taking photos with my Sony Alpha that fall under the prompt, as well as journaling each evening about more moments of gratitude based on the prompt.

I’ll probable compile a synopsis of my month of gratitude in my review of how the challenge went.

Today is day 8, and the prompt is self-love.

I had to spend some time with this one. I have had plenty of struggles over the years learning to be at peace with and love myself.

 

When I was younger, I wanted to be petite. I wondered why I looked like the Jolly Green Giant next to my mother or had shoulders as broad as a linebacker (I’m exaggerating of course, but I thought that as a teen). These big hands that fit into no warm gloves and feet that would make a sasquatch proud. These are the thoughts I fought. We often want what we aren’t.

I was certain that I must have Scandinavian DNA. If you’ve read about my results from Ancestry.com then you know that my results were only 5% Scandinavian. I’m still not convinced that my 79% Great Britain and 10% Ireland/Scotland/Wales isn’t rooted in Scandinavian ancestry. Have you ever read Celtic mythology? The Tuatha Dé Danann (and similar in the Mabinogion) were gods who came in ships from the sky (clouds) and were fair-skinned with red or blonde hair. I’ve read an account that supposed that just as Troy was found to be an actual place, perhaps the Tuatha Dé Danann were Vikings who sailed through the mist on their ships.  However, I do believe in magic and they could have been magic as well. Maybe that’s why I find a strong desire to visit the standing stones in Scotland. Hmmm?

But back to self love.

I grew babies in my womb. Babies that have grown and grown. Babies that have my shoulders, hands, and feet and it has helped me to love my own more. But the journey towards self-love is a continual process.

Meditation has definitely worked in helping me draw deeper into that space. But also yoga and pilates. They have shown me that my body is strong. That my body is capable of doing so much more than I thought it could. I realize my form could be better in the photo (that’s what happens on a 10 second timer), but I can actually do side plank crunches (yes, at some point I have to do them from my elbow because my shoulders can only handle so much work in a session). That is something that I never dreamed I’d be doing.

I grow to love myself more each day.

My other fave of the week is that my L.L. Bean boots FINALLY came in! The first pair I ordered were too small and so I had to send them back to be exchanged. My sasquatch feet range between a 9-10 in a woman’s shoe, mostly being 9.5. Bean boots are known for running large and it said that if you were a 1/2 size to size down 1 to 2 sizes depending on whether or not you planned to wear thick socks. I do not plan to wear thick socks because I own a pair of Sorel and a pair of Eddie Bauer snow boots that I wear to be able to capture photos like the one below:

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I just wanted a cute waterproof boot to wear instead of always needing to opt for my tall Hunter boots.

Anyways, I ordered an 8 because I could fit my feet in Miss Sunshine’s size 7. But nope! I needed a 9. Keep that in mind if you do ever order a pair. I love that they include a card that lets you know who hand stitched your boots.

This week as I hunted “new to me” songs on Youtube, I came across this Swedish Indie Band, Mountains of the Moon. I hope you enjoy their sound. I did!

I hope that you have a beautiful weekend.

I’m off to watch the snow as it flurries down outside my window. I think I’ll make a cup of tea and settle in with some Middlemarch.

I hope that you catch a glimpse of the world through new eyes.

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Let your light shine!

Amy

 

 

 

 

Photography and History of Telephone Boxes in Scotland

Telephone Boxes In Scotland

Telephone Boxes (or Booths, as I call them).

I am a lover of things reminiscent of the past. Especially when it comes to telephones. When I was young, I dreamed of owning a Victorian style phone. Later in life, I perused thrift stores because I want to find an old rotary dial phone for Miss Sunshine’s playtime. I was never that lucky, but I did find push button corded ones.

I’m old enough to remember phone boxes (booths)… and old enough to have kept a stash of quarters in my car in case I needed to use the payphone. I rarely see a phone booth around anymore. Sure, there’s the one over by Target…with no phone book. I’m not even sure it has a phone. I just know that it’s surrounded in yellow caution tape with a sign saying that bees live there.

However, the phone booths around the United States that I’ve traveled about, are nothing like the spectacular beauties found in the United Kingdom.

The red telephone box was designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, following a competition in 1924.

From 1926 and onward, the exterior of the telephone boxes had a crown, representing the British government.

Bubble blowing on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh Scotland

Of course with the advent of further technologies (aka…cell phones), the telephone boxes became less necessary.

Due to their popularity, some of these telephone boxes are being given a new life by entrepreneurs and communities.  You can see that evidenced in the background of the photo above (taken on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh) where the telephone box says “Cash”.

 

 

You can imagine my excitement when my mother and I stumbled upon the telephone boxes actually housing telephones. I don’t have the location of this phone booth since the photo was taken by my mother. I suspect that it is in Glasgow as my aunt wasn’t out with us on this walk and my mother and I did some touring around Glasgow on our own.

If you’ve missed that walk around Glasgow, we walked to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, and then made our way up to the University of Glasgow and into The Cloisters, which are located there.

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There is an iconic sense to this telephone box set amongst the crowds that walked along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

Its red color standing prominently in the sea of stone buildings.

According to this BBC article, there are 8,000 traditional red kiosks.

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While I fell in love with the phone boxes from an aesthetic standpoint, I am also happy that I have witnessed a piece of history.

A history that is being steadily preserved.

To see more preservation, be sure to check out Norm’s Thursday Doors where you can see photos of doors captured from around the world.

And then there is the most dangerous risk of all - the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself freedom to do it later - Randy Komisar

Let your light shine!

Amy