Posted in Adventure, photography

S U M M E R

Ah, summer, a most beloved time of year. It’s the time for exploring, adventuring, and of course, the ever-important-staple… ice cream. Though we have some time yet, before summer officially transitions into fall; I can already feel the change in the air, (despite the still-hot temperatures). The change of seasons, is such an integral part of  life, yet it still manages to catch us by surprise.  It’s mysterious and magical when a season begins to change, and in some inexplicable way, it makes me feel closer to God. My senses seem to be more heightened and I feel more aware of life, itself.
So in tribute to my love of summer, and this year’s memories, here’s a look back:

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With any season, there are certain things that you only do at that particular time of year, and as I was thinking back to what I’ve done, I was thinking that I really hadn’t done much.

I didn’t go on any extravagant trips, or accomplish any spectacular feat, (as I always dream of). But then I remembered all of the small, seemingly insignificant things that I’d done. And I had to smile to myself, when I realized I hadn’t done “nothing” at all.DSC03666

Like the fact that I went swimming, in an actual pool. I once vowed that swimming pools were off limits, germaphobe that I am. It was only going to be oceans or some other great, natural body of water. (Both of which I live very far from.) But this year, I found myself neck deep, in a public swimming pool. Not once, but TWICE! I have to admit, though, it wasn’t as bad as I feared, and I actually had fun. Especially because I was able to spend time with my friends and family. And surprisingly, I managed to avoid catching a brain-eating amoeba along the way.
Hooray!

DSC03713Another unexpected surprise, was my sister convincing me to “camp” OUTSIDE. I’ve never  been camping, and I can’t really say that I’m sorry. The closest I’ve ever come, is sleeping in a hammock, in my backyard. And I never wanted to do that again, simply because I didn’t get any actual sleep at all. Why would I make myself miserable all night, when I have a nice comfy bed, right there; the notion baffled me. Yet at 3 a.m., I found myself in the back of my dad’s pick-up truck, piled with blankets, and pillows, staring into the night. I watched the stars streak their way across the sky, listened to coyotes howling in the hills, and felt the warm summer breeze on my face. While I didn’t get a wink of sleep all night, I did have a lot of fun playing card games, and eating snacks late into night, with my sisters.

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Summer is also the time when we harvest fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden. This year happened to be a very good one for peaches. We didn’t get many, but the ones we did get were enormous, and beautiful, and exquisitely delicious. The memory of biting into the sweet, sun soaked fruit is one I won’t soon forget. Nothing beats a summer harvest of fresh fruits and vegetables! I’m just sad I ate them all.DSC04640

Something I don’t always do, yet is always a treat, is going to an all-American baseball game. Nothing else quite captures the essence of summer, like wading through swarming swathes of people, squeezing into hot crowded seats, and paying for exceedingly overpriced mediocre snacks. Though I’m not a huge fan of baseball, or large crowds, it’s nice to get out and enjoy it for an evening. Especially when fireworks are involved. DSC03170

There are dozens of other little things that filled those lurid, summer days. Like climbing onto the roof in the evening, for a bird’s eye view of the neighborhood. Or making late-night runs to the drive through for ice-cream, spending lazy afternoons watching stormclouds march across the horizon, and countless other ramblings.DSC04605

Whatever shape or size it comes in, summer is one of the most special times of the year. My life varies very little, but it’s the subtle changes that make all the difference. In a few months time, when I’m shivering beneath a blanket, I’ll be able to look back at these fond memories of the time when it was warm, and green. I hope you enjoyed seeing a glimpse of what my summer looked like this year. And no matter what you did, I hope you breathed in deep, and cherished even the tiniest, little flavor(s) of the season.

“For he who would love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.” 1 Peter 3:10-11  

How about you?  Have you done anything special  this summer? What makes it “summer” for you?

Thank you for reading,

Lady S

Posted in Adventure, nature, photography

More Mountain Mishaps

A few weeks ago, I went on another mountain adventure. Or should I say- misadventure? It may seem like mountains and I don’t quite get along, but I can assure you, we like each other very much. We just tend to have a lot of mishaps, together. (Read here about my last excursion.) This time though, might just take the cake, for being the mightiest misadventure yet. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

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My sister had the day off and planned a hiking trip with a friend. It was supposed to be a hike to a ghost town. Since I had work, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to go, but the prospect of seeing a real-live ghost town, was very enticing. So last minute, I was able to get the day off. Woohoo!

Unfortunately, my other sister wouldn’t be coming along due to a recent dental procedure, (I’ll spare you the details…). Though she kindly leant me her very expensive camera, to document the trip. Early the next morning, the three of us hopped in the car, and headed out to see this mysterious, ghost town.

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We were told that the hike is considered to be ‘intermediate’ and would be about three and a half miles, round-trip. I thought it sounded like a fair match for my abilities. I brought lots of water, a first aid kit, and a few other,  ‘just-incase’ items. When we arrived, it was still early morning and a bit chilly; I knew that would change later, so I enjoyed the cool air, while I could.

After only a few minutes in, we saw a serious issue ahead. The path forked. We had only seen one sign, (back in the parking lot) which had gotten us to where we were. Luckily, though, we had a book in our possessionwith “directions” to our destination. An old book, with simplistic, if not primitive, instructions. It went something like,  ‘After you pass this field, go right. And when you have passed that stream, go left.’ Clear and concise, right?

After an agonizing attempt at deciphering the directions, we did as the book suggested, and took the path to the right, though my gut was uneasy.  Nonetheless, we forged ahead, even with our doubts and uncertainties. The path was pleasant and peaceful. We passed a camp ground and a small stream,  just like the book said we would. But ever so slightly, and hardly noticeable at first, the trail began shrinking.

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Do you see a trail anywhere?

The terrain was getting more and more, rough. And at points, the trail would disappear altogether, and we’d have to wade through bushes, and ravines, to meet it again. The further we went, the more sure we were, that we had taken a wrong turn. So after climbing up a very steep hillside, and leaving the trail behind altogether, we decided we had to do something. GPS was finicky in the area, but after a few attempts, we got a signal.

Our suspicions were confirmed. We were definitely NOT on the right path. But we didn’t seem to be too far off, and thought, if we could just veer a bit to the west, we might bump into the correct trail. So we forged on, trekking uphill once more. When we checked the GPS again, we weren’t any closer. By this time we all agreed that our only option was to go back, and start again from the beginning. We had been traveling for over an hour in the wrong direction. Ouch.

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My ‘sloth’ sister.

With my energy level tanking, and several rough slides, and surfs down the mountain, I decided to employ the help of a sturdy stick, which was tremendously helpful in our slippery decent. We got plenty of scrapes and scratches, as thorns and twigs snagged at our skin and clothes along the way. Tired, grouchy, and by this time quite hot, we reached that cursed split in the trail, (another hour and a half later). After scouting around more throughly, we spotted a small map on the side of a tree, and we were shocked by what it showed. The path we had taken, was marked by a black line, snaking up the mountain. Black, indicated that the trail level was EXPERT!

I am proud to say, that I can now call myself an expert hiker, since I survived that trail. Just barely, though.

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That’s not creepy…

But the story isn’t over yet. With the help of our little friend, GPS, we started out once again, on the correct trail. It was hot, and we were tired and a bit discouraged, but we weren’t going to give up. We came here to see a ghost town and we weren’t leaving until we found it. The trail was definitely easier now, but still challenging. The path cut steadily upwards, and as we climbed higher, so did the temperature. Between the long stretches of burning hot sun, every small piece of shade felt like heaven. My dear old sister began walking at the pace of a prehistoric sloth. (I have no idea if such a thing existed, but if so, it probably would have walked faster than her.) Every fifty feet, she had to stop and take a break and would refuse to move, until I threatened to drag her behind me. Fortunately, these breaks did allow me to take some photographs. I myself, wanted to give up, but with my trusty stick in hand, I persevered. I imagined that I was Gandalf, leading the way through Mirkwood, with the help of my magical staff. That helped a little.

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My wizard’s staff.

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After another torturous two hours, of muscle twisting climbing, we saw the first actual hint that we were getting close. The “hint”, took the form of an ‘ancient red car’, as the book described. And the second hint, was an old wooden sign with the word, ‘hotel’ etched on it, and an arrow pointing ahead. With the teeny-tiny, bit of energy we had left, we forged on toward the abandoned ghost hotel. We noticed small remnants of civilization; just broken bits of debris, really. Despite the exhaustion, our hearts still stirred with some amount of excitement at the prospect of finding this ghost town. But then, we ran into another group of hikers, who were heading down the trail and, bluntly delivered the news. That pile of debris we had just passed, well… that was the so-called ‘town’.  It couldn’t be.

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…And the disappointment of the year goes to…

An old car, and some old boards, was a ghost town? It seemed too cruel to be true. But alas, the truth really does hurt. (In the knees, especially.) We had hiked for four exhausting hours, and were rewarded with a pile of old sticks. Our only consolation, was that we need go no further. We could finally have our lunch, and have a well deserved rest. Before hiking another two hours back to the car, that is.

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Worth nearly 7 hours of pain and hardship? I think not.

There you have it folks. If you thought this tale would have some kind of redeeming reward at the end, you are sure to be disappointed. But I can assure you, you won’t be nearly as disappointed as we were. The one small takeaway though, is that if you asked me beforehand, if I thought I could go on a nearly seven hour hike, I would answer with a resounding, no. But I surprised myself, and finished strong. And got some pretty good photos along the way. Yay me!

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In hindsight, it was quite a spectacular adventure and I’m glad I took it; misadventure, though it was. (I hope it was a bit entertaining for you too!)

P.S. If you happen to hear about a ghost town in the mountains, don’t believe it.
Trust me.

Thanks for reading,

Lady S

 

Posted in WORDS

What Does God Mean to Me – A Tag

Today I have a tag to bring to you! This is the first time I’ve ever been tagged, and I want to thank Chelsea, over at An Ordinary Pen, for tagging me. You should definitely check out her blog.

Anyway, let’s get on with the tag – What Does God Mean to Me…

 

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Who is God to you?

God to me…is everything. The Creator, the Composer, the Completer, the Author of the universe.

I feel that God is too big, and almighty to limit to just a few words, but I think those listed above, get pretty close.

Which Bible verse do you think has shaped the way you live?

The scripture that has been most impactful on my life is, Romans 5:3-5.

“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

For me, those three verses completely capture what it is to be a Christian. They remind me how I should live, (especially, in these insane, and scary times). It is a powerful reminder that life is hard. There will be many trials, and heartaches, but through our tribulations, we are beckoned closer to Him, and shown His magnificence and great love towards us.

Which Bible character do you identify with the most?

That’s a tough question, but I would say that someone I really look up to, is Joshua. When all of Israel turned their backs, and disobeyed God, only Joshua stayed by Moses’ side. He never gave in, or buckled and followed the masses. Despite how difficult and challenging things got, he remained faithful to the Lord. That is a wonderful reminder and something I try to focus on, and keep in the forefront of my mind.

 

What is your favourite way to praise God?

One of my favorite ways to be with God, and be grateful and appreciative for His blessings, is to just be outdoors. There, I am away from technology, and away from the distractions of the world. There, I can just “be”, in the midst of His creation, and relish in the beauty, peace and craftsmanship of His handiwork. Outside in the fresh air, is where I always feel the most connected to God; and feel such immense blessing and gratitude. I truly believe we are all meant to spend time outdoors. It can really bring our focus back to Him.

What is your favourite praise song or Psalm?

One of my favorite praise songs is, Joy, by Page CXVI.  It’s a hauntingly, beautiful rendition of a classic hymn.
I also really like, O God Forgive Us, by For King and Country. Seems I never get tired of that song, and it always touches my heart.

 

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So, I guess that’s it! I had a lot of fun answering these questions, and I want to again, thank Chelsea, for tagging me.

At the end of these posts, one usually tags others to participate, but instead, if any of you out there would like to have a go, you can answer the questions in the comments down below. Or if you have a blog, consider yourself tagged, by me.

Thank you for reading, and I look forward to hearing from you,

Lady S

Posted in Adventure, photography

Spring At Last

For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.

Song of Solomon 2:11-12

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Spring has arrived, at long last. It’s become visible in the small green sprouts, poking out through the old leaves, and the small buds forming on the trees. Winter wasn’t much in terms of coldness, and snow, it was very dry and mild. Nonetheless, I’m excited to have leaves on the trees once again, and to see colors breaking up all the dull brown.

With every new season, there comes with it, its own set of tasks and duties.

One of spring’s first tasks is yard work. Lots and lots of yard work. Through the winter, the garden rests, and so do I. There’s very little that needs tending, but in the spring, oh my! The soil needs to be turned, beds need to be cleared, debris needs to be raked up, and plans need to be made. I don’t think I’ve ever really “liked” yard/garden work, but recently, I’ve really come to enjoy it.

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Another of my spring tasks, and one of the biggest undertakings of the season, is brushing out my dog’s fur, which may not sound like a big deal, but let me tell you, he has a lot of fur. Two layers, to be exact. Come spring/summer, he sheds an entire coat, (his winter insulation) and it takes me almost the entire summer to brush it all out before it starts growing back again. In the end I’m left with big bags full of ‘wool’. So much so, that if I knew how to spin, I could make enough yarn to turn it into a sweater. Who needs alpacas, anyway?

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Look at him, not a care in the world!

Spring is also very busy for me, because it means I go back to work, where my job-title is planter-in-chief. I work seasonally in a greenhouse, and in the early part of the year, we work fast, and furiously, to get thousands of flowers, and vegetables planted. All this must be done in time for folks to purchase the plants, and get them in the ground of their own gardens. Fortunately, the “growing season”  in the nursery is only about four months. But let me tell you, it’s a very tough four months! But I love my job, and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

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Each one of these has been planted, and placed by hand. (My own, and a couple others.)

Spring also means it’s my birthday, dun, dun dun. Which is both good, and bad, I guess. Good because, I get cake and presents. Bad because, who actually likes getting older every single year, and making the announcement to the entire world? This year is an especially dreaded one, because it happens to be a landmark birthday. I will be exactly two decades old. Perhaps it’s time to start saving for my funeral, and begin thinking about my will? Who will I leave all my books to?
I suppose I’ll get over my melancholia at some point. I mean, next year it’s just going to come round again, and I’ll have to bemoan the fact that I’ll be older still. I’ll never get used to this whole ‘growing up’ thing. Bleh.

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And finally, the next not so pleasant, sign that spring has sprung, is the timely arrival of my allergies. The loathsome side effect of this thing called ‘nature’. I actually begin to feel it in my very cells. Tissue and allergy meds become my constant companions. My face can get itchy, and my eyes can swell shut, but that’s just par for the course, right? Who’s complaining?

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In short, spring is probably my favorite time of year. It’s a nice in-between, where the days are warm, and the nights can be a little chilly. The trees are pink and flowery, and I can make grandiose plans for summer, all before the sweltering heat of summer sets in. For now, its time to enjoy my time time outdoors, and be grateful for my opportunity to see the world wake up.

So, just wanted to take a moment to commemorate the changing of the seasons, and what that entails for me. I hope that this spring will be a good one for you, (or Autumn, for my pals ‘down under’), and that you will take some time to touch, see, smell all the beauty that is, spring.

Thanks for reading, Lady S

 

 

 

Posted in Adventure

Calamity In The Kitchen & Other Life Lessons

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My mom’s birthday passed recently, and as usual, I was in charge of making the cake. She’s a big chocolate lover, so I planned on using my favorite chocolate cake recipe. Everything was going according to plan; two cups of flour, one cup of milk, two cups of sugar… and so on. I finished fairly quickly and got it into the oven. I cleaned up the kitchen and put my tools away. And about thirty minutes later, it was time to bring the cake out.

I opened the oven and knew immediately that something wasn’t right. In fact, something was very, very wrong. It didn’t rise at all and it baked hard and solid. The color and texture was off too, not at all how it should have looked. I knew for a fact that I put the correct amount of baking powder, but I thought that maybe somehow, (however unlikely,) I had added too much flour. My mind was racing, trying to figure out what could have happened. I held onto the hope, that with some frosting it would be okay, and disguise my unsightly creation, and maybe even pass as edible.
But before icing, I decided to do a taste test, just to make sure that it was in fact, going to be edible. So with a butter knife, I gingerly cut off an itty bitty, piece.
As soon as it touched my tongue I was horrified! I couldn’t spit it out fast enough! It couldn’t be! Nervously, I looked back to where the ingredients sat, and confirmed my suspicions. To my great dismay, I saw in the usual place of the sugar bin, a big tub of  S. A. L. T. NO! Not two whole cups of salt in my beautiful chocolate cake! How could this happen!?

The cake tasted so incredibly bad, that I instantly felt ill, sick to my stomach. Nothing I tried would get the taste out of my mouth. After I broke the news to my mom, and everyone else in the house, and took a few moments to grieve the cake that would never be, (and also have lunch) I tossed the abomination straight into the trash!
A short while later, I felt more composed (and full) and ready for my second attempt. This time I would do it right. No mistakes allowed. I made sure to read every ingredient before it went into the bowl, twice.
Confident that I had done everything correctly, I once again put the pan in the oven. As before, at the thirty minute mark I pulled the cake out of the oven; and it was perfect!
Beautifully colored and perfectly risen. A success! Hallelujah, praise the LORD! My mom’s birthday wasn’t going to be ruined after all.
Later that night, when we finally cut into it, it turned out to be one of the best cakes I’ve ever made. And, in the process I even managed to invent one of the best, most delicious frostings I’ve ever made!

So what I learned from this mishap, wasn’t only how to make a cake properly, but I was also reminded how important it is to be vigilant about ALL our tasks. I learned that no matter how many times I’ve done something before, I should not allow myself to become lazy or complacent. That I should do all things with intention, dedication and focus and be present in what I am doing.
And when I’m feeling unsure, I shouldn’t ever be afraid to ask someone for help, (especially, when trying to verify whether the sparkly white substance in question is salt or sugar).

Secondly, on a deeper level, to me it was a living example of how God works.
When we think we have it all under control, sometimes we are met with a huge wake-up call, that actually, we don’t. Yet, we are not to lose hope, for our failures are rarely wasted and usually happen for a reason. That reason, may be an opportunity for us to learn something new, and to gain wisdom and understanding. When we DO try again, we will know better and our successes can be even sweeter.
We can see that cycle repeated throughout the Bible. God takes something that was sad, sorry and miserable, and transforms it into something wonderful.
That was quite a revelation, I received from a cake gone wrong, and no matter the situation, we can still find God, speaking to us in ways we might never imagine.

“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the LORD upholds him with His hand.”
PSALM 37:23-24

“It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.”
PSALM 119:71

If you want to know the recipe I used, you can find it here.

Anyway, I hope my mistake made you chuckle a bit.
I sincerely hope that all of your baking endeavors turn out better than mine, and that you never end up in a situation like this.
(Although, if you’re a baker, and you bake often enough, you’re bound to make a mistake or two at some point!)

Thanks for reading,
Lady S