The Gift of Time

My sister gave me the best Christmas gift ever.  And it came early, too.   I had a big problem and she helped me take care of it. 

On the weekend before Christmas, she gave me the gift of time. 

Let me tell you what happened.

I barely noticed when it first started a few weeks ago.  The little winged moth seemed nothing more than an innocent traveler  passing through.  Now I think he was the scout, looking for a comfy place to take up residence, to invite his family and friends and populate.

My problem was pantry moths.  Have you ever heard of them?  Let me tell you, they are no fable.  They do exist. 

We declared war.  On the Saturday before Christmas, there was no peace in my kitchen.  Out went everthing in my pantry that was not in a can or hard plastic container.  We scrubbed the walls and shelves, wiped down everything we put back. 

Now look! 

Claudia is the best sister in the world!  Let the baking begin....

My Mother's Point of View

My sister and I went to upstate NY to check on my mother and aunt last week.  They are 80 and 88.

Aunt Aileen and  Mom, May 2009

Vascular dementia has its grip on my mother, and my aunt's heart is getting a little tired.  For now, they still live together, but those days are numbered. 

When I was last there in May for my mother's 80th birthday, I was able to take some sweet portraits of her.  This trip I decided to concentrate on "a day in the life" set, which I'll be processing soon.

One of my favorite images is of the view out Mom's bedroom window.  Every night, when she goes to bed, she opens the blinds in her room.   In the morning, the neighboring building and trees are the first things she sees.  In the summer, the trees are leafy green, blazing orange and yellow in fall, and majestically bare in the winter.  Mom loves that view.  She lies in bed, taking it all in before getting up to start her day. 

This image was taken from her bedroom window the morning of the day I returned home.  On this day at least, Mom and I were seeing eye to eye.

Giving Thanks

Welcome to my home!

My plan for today, "be thankful in everything..."

I have a very long list.

Many Thanksgiving blessings to you!

A Girl and Her Grandfather

God himself has said,
I will not in any way fail you
nor give you up
nor leave you without support. 
I will not,
I will not,
I will not in any degree leave you helpess,
nor forsake you,
nor let you down,
or relax My hold on you. 

Assuredly not! 

Hebrews 13:5b
Amplified Version

Moving On Part 2

We've  moved.

It is a relief to be at this point in the process, even though I'm still settling in and trying to make my new location feel as homey as my old office.  It was small but cozy, and I miss it.  No window in that old office, either, but even for this lover of light, it felt OK.  Now I have a beautiful north facing window, in a larger room, and I'm working on making it home. 

The day of the move was as you would imagine.  The flood of boxes and furniture came,  looking for a place to rest.  But when the granddaughter of one of my collegues showed up, suddenly everything became a lot more fun.

Sadly, Mary Anne had to go home, and I was left to go it alone. 

But it's  been a week now, and I can truly say that it is becoming more like home every day. 

Moving On

 It was time.  In fact, past time.  I was finally forced to clean out my desk this week.

For the last 12 months,  Exchanged Life Ministries Texas has been gearing up for relocation.   After nine years in a strip center, in a declining area with increasing crime, we will be moving next week to The Hope Center, a glorious building designed for organizations such as ours. 

Cleaning out my desk was like going on an archeological dig.  For a time, I shared my office with a friend.  So when I came upon some of her things, it was a sweet discovery, bringing back warm memories of our times together.  Other found objects were a mystery.  Why are there pieces of broken bowl in a small, square Pottery Barn box?  Perhaps I planned to use them as an object lesson, but I simply can't remember.  And there was a clock that used to sit on a table across the room from me.  It was consigned to that deep drawer when I could no longer read the numbers from that distance. 

But then I happened upon a true treasure.

Another person might call it a fossil, as it is at least, several years old.  A hopeless chocoholic, I switched brands a long time ago.

No, I didn't eat it.

Show and Tell

"It is by chance we met . .

By choice we became friends."

Last night I had dinner with Deb.  This woman is a most marvelously talented writer, educator and business woman, generous of heart, stylish and creative to the core.  Most of all, she is my friend. 

Many years ago, we met as young mothers at a Bible Study Fellowship class.  She loves to give me credit for sparking a creative fire that transformed her into a one of the most stylish women I know.  We share a love for color and fashion, and a determination to avoid the "matronly" look, even as the years carry us along. 

Though she moved to another city, I have never lost my friend.  Deb has the gift of pursuit, and she has held fast to me.  Our children have grown up, our bodies have changed, our lives are different.  I love her dearly and was so happy to have dinner with her last night when she dashed into town.

Here she is showing me one of her new accessories.  We do love our show n' tell.

It is a Village

A couple weekends ago, we headed out to Traders Village in Grand Prairie, Texas for a fun afternoon with our friends Jack and Melodie.  It was a chilly day and threatening rain.

There are acres of vendors in the open air, selling anything you could want or imagine.  A few vendors set up shop in what look like storage units, but most sellers brave the blazing summer heat or the winter chill, with a few balmy days thrown in.  It was our first visit.

In addtion to the fun of wheeling and dealing, here is what struck me:  the families.  Everywhere there were generations of families, selling and shopping.  Strollers were piled high, sometimes even with a child riding along. 

Every person was carrying something.

And sometimes the cargo was precious, indeed.

Child Photography in Ten Minutes or Less

Subtitle:  Child Photography in Ten Minutes or Else

This is not a how-to. 

Here is how it all started.  I'd just returned from Walmart (yet again) with a little pumpkin.  The pop of orange pumpkin against the purple dress took my breath away.

You know the feeling you have when you can picture the child, the prop, the mood, in one beautifully affecting image?  It's all right in front of you, so close.  Everything seems possible. 

Then comes reality.  The light is fading fast.  It's cool and we can't  find her shoes.  Go with the flip flops.  Pop them on and out the door we go. 

Note the natural smile.  And the flip flops.

Take a shot. Check the histogram on the back of the camera for proper exposure? Forget it! No time. Subject restless. Hope for the best, and maybe we'll get lucky.

Good spooky Halloween look.

Ooops, lost the top of her head.

Ditch the pumpkin.  Tend to baby.

I'm going inside; how about you?

Time elapsed:  8.5 minutes

Later, the shoes were found in the clothes hamper.

Time Divided

Today I brought home a stack of books from the library.  Ever since I was a child, the public library has been a place of refuge and adventure.  Usually leaning toward fiction, with a particular fondness for mysteries, today's finds were an unusual topical mix. 

Life in Color by Garza and Lupo
The Complete Eldercare Planner by Loverde (for my mother, but I guess I am next in line)
Cool Spaces for Kids by  Sam Scarborough  (for Piper and Eli)
Depression is Contagious by Michael D. Yapko, Ph.D (really curious about this one)
I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye by Noel and Blair (a book on grief)
Digital Photographer's Handbook by Tom Ang
Swimming by Nicola Keegan  (a novel)
Secret Sayings Hidden Meanings by Graham Cooke (not from the library, a gift from Jan for my soul)

I started Swimming and was almost immediately captivated by the story.  It is a first novel and I was curious about the author.  Her bio, on the inside back cover, reads, "....divides her time between Ireland and France with her husband and three sons."  There must be a story here. 

So then I started thinking.  How would my bio read?  "Karla divides her time between Walmart and work...."  Not quite the same.

Then I realized that my stack of books truly did reflect my life.  My loves (God, family, friends) and passions(God, photography, work) intertwine and overlap .  In my case, there are no clear divisions between the people I love, and the things I love to do. 

So here goes.  "Karla is doing her best to divide her time among....."

I'll bet it's this way for you, too.

For Brent

Well, the fun had to end sometime. 

After 10 full days of visiting and frolicking with baby Eli and Lindsay, we had to say goodbye at the airport today.  Only one thing could have made our time better, and that would have been the presence of husband and dad, Brent. 

Thank you, Brent, for sacrficing and sharing your family with us.  We missed you lots!

Brent, remember the misty morning when I was visiting in Knoxville last month?  You and little Eli toured garage sales in the neighborhood.  If he is anything like his parents, he is on his way to becoming a  bargain hunter and will learn how to profit from a good buy.

Hmm...didn't that baby carrier come from Craig's List?

And you know, someone is always watching to see what's going to happen next!


A few days ago, I received the email below from my niece, Rebecca.  It was so very timely, and I have had occasion to put the information into practice the last few days. 

Hope it benefits you, too!  Or even better, that you have no need to test it on yourself or a loved one.

the remedy is helping....

With the constant fear of H1N1 symptoms, the following measures can be
practiced by one and all. This is an information which I just received from
my father who is a Consultant General Surgeon & Gastoenterologist, based in
India and I do hope it could be beneficial to the students and their
families alike.

Tamiflu does not kill but prevents H1N1 from further proliferation till the
virus limits itself in about 1-2 weeks (its natural cycle). H1N1, like other
Influenza A viruses, only infects the upper respiratory tract and
proliferates (only) there. The only portals of entry are the nostrils and
mouth/ throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it's almost impossible
not coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with
H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is.

While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection,
in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development
of secondary infections, some very simple steps - not fully highlighted in
most official communications - can be practiced (instead of focusing on how
to stock N95 or Tamiflu):

1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications)

2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part
of face (unless you want to eat, bathe or slap).

3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust
salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal
cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling
prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same
effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't
underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

4.. Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm
salt water.
Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas
to clean nasal cavities), but blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing
both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective
in bringing down viral population.

5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla
and other citrus fruits). If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets,
make sure that it also has Zinc/bioflavonoids to boost absorption.

6. Drink as much of warm liquids as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the
same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off
proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot
survive, proliferate or do any harm.

All these are simple ways to prevent, within means of most households, and
certainly much less painful than to wait in long queues outside public

Willis Hulings
Former President
Honor Legion Police Dept's State of NJ

Wanna play?

One morning, Lindsay bundled up six week old Eli and we took a  trip to the Knoxville Zoo, as guests of her friend, Jennifer, and her little guy, Andrew. 

I will never forget the sight of the silverback gorilla in his enclosure, as he leaned back against the transparent wall.  The children in the viewing area were as entranced as we were. 

It's Official!

Today I joined the blogging world.  It's quite an exciting time to be alive for those who enjoy communicating.  Recently, I've been inspired  by my dear friend  Debbie Diller, who launched a blog last month.  And then a few days later, I discovered that my daughter and her husband have also begun blogging.  So now it's time for me.

What kind of blog is this?  That is still evolving.  I simply know I am living a life and I have something to say and display.  Perhaps a grownup version of show n' tell.

You also have something to say.  You should consider blogging, too.

Grandson Elijah Truett Gosnell and Cosmo in "The Guardian"
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