Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Still Feels Like Vacation

Sunday we visited Foley's outlet center in search of a French bread pan. The place was very busy with holiday-weekend shoppers. Wendell made a loaf of French bread for the first time today. It was pretty good, but it needs some tweaking yet.

All that walking in the mall worked up an appetite, and we ate out for the first time in a good while. We agreed on The Original Oyster House in Gulf Shores, which we still consider our favorite local restaurant after eating there for the first time last January. It was covered up with folks, but the wait staff was on-the-ball and prepared to serve lots of customers.

The congested parking helped us discover two more photo ops:

One is of me and Wendell –
taken by Wendell ...

... and the other is of Wendell –
taken by me

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More Sacred Music

I did a post on Sacred Music last year — so today's is more sacred music.

Itsy Bitsy SpiderI just finished listening to last weekend's sermon entitled "Other Terrorisms" preached by Keith Tonkel. He concluded his sermon by singing Itsy Bitsy Spider. I couldn't agree more that it certainly is a religious or sacred song.

Probably most of you learned this song when you were children, with hand motions to accompany the tune. It's a simple story that can rally anyone who considers the determination of the little spider. How many times do you suppose a spider has her web destroyed, but she keeps right on building it back. As people, we have the same kinds of challenges the spider has. You know what yours are, and I recognize some of mine.

Scripture for Sunday's sermon:
2 Corinthians 4:7-12 · Treasure in Jars of Clay
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

John 12:27 · The Son of Man Must Be Lifted Up
“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour."

Luke 22:47 · Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
While he was still speaking, there came a crowd, and the man called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He drew near to Jesus to kiss him ...

The Sunday bulletin for this service had Keith's usual brief prose as follows concerning the scriptures:
The only people who donʼt worry are ill,” someone said with strong conviction. A counselor replied, “True. Sociopathic people donʼt worry much.”

The rest of us worry. With and without good cause. In fact, worry can become a kind of terrorism. An alternate and other kind of fear and challenge. It brings on an anxiety that causes all sorts of fear and difficulty. Why is this? Because we are human and the world is complex.

Even Jesus dealt with it – Before going into Jerusalem when things were bad there for him we read: “Now my heart is troubled.” Or in Gethsemane: “If it's possible, let this cup pass from me.”

Worry happens because life happens. And we have to deal with it. But not without help. “The power belongs to God and not to us.” Doesnʼt sound like much help, right? Unless itʼs Godʼs power working with us and in us. We can be afflicted, but not crushed, confused but not delivered into craziness. We will experience times of different types of persecution, but in such moments weʼll find that we are indeed not alone, that the Holy Spirit is indeed with us.

All too often, for one reason or another, in one way or another, we are knocked down. Thankfully, we do not need to be knocked out!

All of life is a ʻlife and deathʼ situation. But with the Life of the Resurrected One working with and through us, we can meet terror head on, and put it in its place. Easy? No. Quick? No. Once and for all time? No. Worry, anxiety, and terror may come. Now, however, such things can be met and overcome! Life is much more at work in us, than anything else!

Whatever your challenges, I encourage you to overcome them with the determination of the Itsy Bitsy Spider and keep on keeping on.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Memorial Day

The Memorial Day Weekend is upon us. Let me wish you a happy holiday, whatever you do.

This first summer holiday weekend of the year, as I think of it, has some memories for me. The first thing I think of is our family's first tent camping trip, when we went to Natchez Trace State Park from Memphis in the 1970s. I wonder if our two daughters remember that as vividly as I do. We got there after dark and set up our big tent on a sloping hillside, because, as fledgling campers, we evidently didn't realize that a campsite is more comfortable when it's level. The park was covered up with campers. The next day, in the daylight, we moved our tent to a more level site. Wendell recalls seeing a man from Texas in the restroom that thought he was about to freeze to death. It did get down in the 40s that night, and we surely were not prepared for those kind of temps ourselves. I had on just about every article of clothing I had with me trying to keep warm. We did not have real sleeping bags except for one junior bag. The rest were slumber bags. (Yes, Chris, I expect we had the one with us that you still use.) Another memory of that weekend is that we cooked hamburgers on the grill. There were so many of them, I tried to eat two of them. That's went I learned I did not have the ability to eat two large burgers in one setting.

Another special Memorial Day weekend was when my sis and bro-in-law came from Arlington to visit us in our condo in Jackson. There are photos from that trip, but where they are is a question I don't know the answer to.

Speaking of photos, I am wondering if we have photos from our many vacations camping. Some of them are still riveted in my memory, whether or not there are photos or not. The activities from various camping trips flood my memories. If I can find photos from them, I may share some on wendellmaedeanTHEperpetualvacationers.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend to all of you!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Prince & Princess ~ Our Squirrel Treefrogs

Lover GirlIt seems that Lover Boy has found his princess. I've seen him accompanied by this lovely green treefrog twice, both times at nightfall, shortly after they descended from their home in the eaves outside my kitchen window. When Lover Boy made his usual bark, the other one remained silent, so I'm assuming he's convincing her to become his mate.

I briefly considered calling her Sarah, which in Hebrew means princess. After feeling unsure if our youngest granddaughter would want a frog named after her, though, I've settled on Lover Girl.

Although these treefrogs are small, I don't believe they're quite as tiny as the pet frogs at Wolf Creek Fish Hatchery last Fall. I intend to keep my camera ready for more impromptu snapshots of the happy couple. Several photos are currently posted on Webshots:

Squirrel Treefrogs ~ Lover Boy & Lover Girl

Not as easy as it looks:

Test your skills with this clever
Frog Jumping Test

Friday, May 16, 2008

Quality Time

Mae Dean and Carla in Olive BranchAfter several days with our daughter's family in North Mississippi, we ended up leaving with lots more stuff than we arrived with. We hauled off some remaining belongings, including Wendell's smoker and the vacuum cleaner that our carpets had begun to really need. So while Wendell was making plans to smoke some meat once we got back home, I was actually looking foward to vacuuming. (Never thought I'd say something like that!) I even purchased a few new things during a morning shopping trip with Carla.

An extra treat: Wendell's brother Kerby drove over for an afternoon visit.

I suspect this relaxing back-yard scenery makes all that mowing worth it
Backyard bamboo patch

See more Olive Branch photos in this mixed-up Webshots album:
Familiar Places & Faces

Wendell and Mae Dean in Olive BranchMiss in her favorite spotRipley hosta that will eventually follow us south to LA

Sunday, May 11, 2008

This frog could be someone's prince

In spite of being confined to its porch swing, life is exciting for DD — who wasn't the only adoptee living around here this week:


It wasn't easy, but it was sorta fun to have the goal of identifying this creature. After several days of hearing but not seeing it, I initially guessed it was a squirrel by its loud bark. I discovered the source of the noise just after sundown yesterday — this tiny frog sitting below the kitchen window, just outside of the screened-in porch.

After I babytalked at it for several minutes, it leapt to the porch door. Good thing it was less camera-shy than babytalk-shy, because a photo allowed me to identify it as a Squirrel Treefrog — and its bark revealed that IT is a HE:

Rraak, rraak, rraak, rraak ...
Mating call of the male Squirrel Treefrog (Hyla squirrela)
Like any proud mother, I've given him an appropriate name: Lover BoyJ

Be the treefrog by moving your cursor around in the green box.

Feed the treefrog by clicking in the green box. A tasty insect will appear ... and then disappear.

May 19 update:
After no signs of Lover Boy for several days, we assumed he'd left us in favor of a nearby tree — but upon returning home from Mississippi, he was barking loud and strong. And we soon realized it's because Lover Boy's found his Lover Girl.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Just what I wanted

How To Photograph Absolutely EverythingDoesn't everyone wish they had an expert at their elbow when they are trying to learn something new? Now I have Tom Ang at my elbow just waiting to tell me what I need to know about photography.

Who is Tom Ang? I didn't know the answer until I read lots of stuff on the Internet about him. Although I was surprised that Tom Ang's official website doesn't mention this book by name, it does include a link to iDigitalPhoto, where this book comes in.

There's no doubt that both of my daughters know how goofy I am about taking photos. Inside the book it reads:
To feed your love of photos
Happy Mother's Day – Angie & Carla
As I learn the tips and tricks of the pros, I may share tidbits on this blog. Stand by ...

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Dumpster Rescue

After taking out the garbage several weeks ago, Wendell returned with this doll. All we know about it is a message that was pinned to its chest.
When you think you want to climb the walls or stand right up and shout,

Here’s a little dammit doll you cannot do without.

Just grasp it firmly by the legs and find a place to slam it,

And as you whack the stuffing out, yell

Dammit - Dammit - Dammit

Dammit Doll

Since the doll's in such good condition, I suspect it hasn't fulfilled its intended purpose. Instead of just tossing it in the garbage can with leftover spaghetti, it was left neatly perched at the dumpster. Just like Moses' family wanted him to be rescued, perhaps the doll's previous owners hoped someone would give it a home.

Has anyone out there ever seen a Dammit Doll before? Although Wendell's dumpster find is the first one I've seen, they're evidently common. Among my discoveries:

  • Weezie's Guide To Stress Relief includes How to make a Dammit Doll instructions.
  • Mary Saunders' Knitted Dammit Doll pattern has been designed with an easy-to-grab head. According to Mary, this version is also "a good way to use up leftover scraps of yarn since the doll isn't fussy about her looks", and she gracefully suggests "uttering your favorite epithet" while slamming it around like a rag doll (no pun intended).
  • The Dammit Doll Store offers dolls to fit the situation, such as the Computer Dammit Doll, Road Rage Dammit Doll, and the popular Sports Rage Dammit Doll, and suggests a gentler phrase for those of us who don't use crass terms like Dammit.
The doll's message suggests that it's just waiting to have the stuffing whacked out of it. With that pleasant smile on its face though, I'm not sure I can bear to whack it on anything ... yet.J

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Kwirr cha-cha-cha*

Baldwin County seagullsDaybreak was just occurring as I brought my first cup of coffee out to the screened-in porch. While listening to the songs of the neighborhood birds, I was inspired to search for bird call audio bites. With plenty to choose from, I didn't have to look very hard. Although I'm already familiar with a number of bird calls, this will be an interesting pursuit in the future. Just another one I have discovered because of my Internet addiction.J
  • If you want to hear some bird songs, just check out what I found at Bird Songs Goggle Search. (About 489,000 results -- toldja there were plenty!)
  • I also found some Bird Song Cartoons and would have loved to post several here, particularly the first one, but didn't because of those annoying copyrights. The cartoons I liked the best were by cartoonist Dan Reynolds (AKA Reynolds Unwrapped).
Living so near the Gulf, I hear the sounds of the gulls every day. But I’m sure this is not confined to areas like this. I have often wondered about the gulls and other birds on Jackson's Ross Barnett Reservoir that remain there year round. Why did they decide to stay? Here’s what I have concluded through no scientific method: I’m thinking they just got blown there by a storm and were so confused at that point, they were just happy to find a place to rest. Once they were rested, they decided to call the reservoir home.
Now it's almost 8 a.m., and I continue to hear *the familiar call of the red-bellied woodpecker.

Nostalgic moment: A minute or so of one red-bellied woodpecker's day was recently set to Glenn Miller music by Waste of Time Productions.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Have a great day. I certainly intend to.J

And I helped!

I was called away for breakfast by Smitty. Yes, I'm a lucky woman! He used this Shake-N-Bake phrase because even though he cooked this morning's breakfast, and I helped applied to me. I asked, "Ya mean because I cooked the sausage yesterday?" He replied, "I was really thinking about your staying outta the way."

Nice! I reckon I'll begin using this phrase more often, starting with the after-breakfast clean up.J

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Never a dull moment

South Baldwin touring mapWe're quickly learning that Baldwin County's not just a fun place to visit; it's a great place to live! The South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce provides a handy touring map (shown above) that includes all sorts of ideas for enjoying the area:
  • Historic attractions
  • Recreation
  • Golf courses
  • Festival events (17 at last count!)
  • Wildlife areas
  • Shopping
  • Entertainment
  • Baldwin is Alabama's largest county -- 1,234,948 acres!
  • Baldwin County is one of the largest counties east of the Mississippi River.
  • Its long growing season and fertile soils have made it an agricultural leader.
  • Baldwin County is now the leading tourist destination in Alabama as well as a leading relocation site.
  • Baldwin County is almost an island. It is bounded on 3 sides by water -- the Gulf of Mexico (South), Perdido Bay at the Florida line (East), and Mobile Bay and the Mobile Delta (West).
  • The history of Fort Morgan at Mobile Point is said to go back to 1559.
  • The famous "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" charge was made by Admiral Farragut at Fort Morgan in 1864 during the Battle of Mobile Bay.

One item that particularly caught my interest was Baldwin County's alligator habitat. When my sister recently asked what kind of alligators we have in Baldwin County, I told her I'd check with the neighbors. Although I haven't done that yet, Alabama's annual gator hunting season certainly gives the impression that they're more plentiful than desired.

  • One of the largest captive gators in the world is kept at an alligator farm in nearby Summerdale, Alabama. I just may have to go see this monster ... assuming he's fenced in! See its 2007 capture in this You Tube Moment: 13-Foot Gator Caught In Florida
  • With our Summer travel plans up in the air (no pun intended), we may have the opportunity to attend one of Baldwin County's biggest attractions next month: The Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival