1266. Man is never out of range of surprises! ~Mehmet Murat ildan

Life is so full of unpredictable
beauty and strange surprises.
~Mark Oliver Everett

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I’m not a professional photographer, but over the years I have and still do take some pretty good photos. However, when I go out on a photo shoot, I’m so focused on the object I’m trying to capture that things often appear in the background that I didn’t see or anticipate. Most of the time it means I have to toss those photos out because something has marred their beauty, but every now and again the unexpected surprise does create a thing of beauty. Such is what happened this morning while I was trying to capture morning glory images. It was very early and a few times my flash popped up, and I don’t really like to take close-up photos in nature with a flash because I find that it distorts the color and in others, the background remains too dark. Then when I edit them and try to lighten the dark background up, bad effects occur on the object(s) in the foreground. But this one above, I really liked because the flash picked up the adjacent neighbor’s pool slide and other objects around his pool that together with the two morning glories created what I think is a nicely colorful vignette.

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This second one was taken several years ago at an indoor rodeo. The barrel racer I was trying to capture was riding extremely fast of course and alongside a railing decorated with American flags which in the camera’s eye created wavy bands of red, white, and blue along with yellow bands from the artificial lighting as well as double visions of her. My daughter and I loved this one so much that as a gift to her I’ve had it blown up and created into what looks like a painting. Surprises like what’s in these 2 photos and other ones I’ve taken are the reasons I’m so passionate about taking photographs and gardening. And I’m fairly sure that I am not the only one surprised and intrigued by strange and unexpected sights.

So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” ~Exodus 3:3  ✝

1213. May you touch dragonflies and stars, dance with the fairies and talk to the moon. ~Morgan Bergeron

THERE are fairies at the bottom of our garden!
It’s not so very, very far away;
You pass the gardner’s shed and you just keep straight ahead —
I do so hope they’ve really come to stay.
There’s a little wood, with moss in it and beetles,
And a little stream that quietly runs through;
You wouldn’t think they’d dare to come merrymaking there–
Well, they do.

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There are fairies at the bottom of our garden!
They often have a dance on summer nights;
The butterflies and bees make a lovely little breeze,
And the rabbits stand about and hold the lights.
Did you know that they could sit upon the moonbeams
And pick a little star to make a fan,
And dance away up there in the middle of the air?
Well, they can.
~Excerpted lines from a poem
by Rose Fyleman

And if ever there were a place on a summer night such as this to look for the fairies at the bottom of the garden, I’d start by peering up into this enchanting, blue clematis bloom.

Praise Him(God), sun and moon; praise Him, all you shining stars. ~Psalm 148:3  ✝

**Image of blue clematis taken in my garden by me

985. Well, one can’t get over the habit of being a little girl all at once… ~Lucy Maud Montgomery


The reluctance to put away childish
things may be a requirement of genius.
~Rebecca Pepper Sinkler

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I am often accused of being childish.  I prefer to interpret that as child-like. I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things. I tend to exaggerate and fantasize and embellish. I still listen to instinctual urges. I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind. I never water my garden without soaking myself. It has been after such times of joy that I have achieved my greatest creativity and produced my best work. ~Leo F. Buscaglia

I resemble all the remarks above, and I’m darned proud of it. Mike Dolan said that we should “anticipate the day as if it was our birthday and we are turning six again.” And that works quite well for me thank you very much. Perhaps that’s why I squealed with delight late last night when it began to snow on my blog. I had forgotten all about WP’s snow option and was delightfully beside myself when it started to fall across my computer screen. We don’t get a whole lot of snow, if any, where I live, but now I know that for an entire month, it will be snowing all day long and into the night on my blog. How much more merry and bright can it get?! Love, love, love it, and so I refuse to put away the fabulous “childish” things that are part of the miracles during the season of lights. And another thing, what’s the best part of the Christmas tree? Isn’t it the lights? Well I think so, and that’s why the last two years, I’ve put a lighted outside metal tree in my house instead of the traditional tree. There’s no icicles nor ornaments nor any other decorations on it. It’s just the glowing, twinkling, multi-colored luminescent glory of elfin lights!!! How’s that for being a kid??? And a genius, I might add! Oh December is going to be a fun month this time around because the little girl in me is alive and well again!

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. ~Matthew 18:2-4   ✝

586. And so the Shortest Day came and the year died and everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world came people singing, dancing, to drive the dark away. ~Susan Cooper

They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive.
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling and
partaking of the wassail.
~Adapted excerpt from Susan Cooper

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Wassailing
~by Unknown Author

The word “wassail” is thought to come from the Anglo-Saxon “wel hal” which means “be healthy.” The Anglo-Saxons used the phrase as an everyday greeting. “Waes” is a form of the verb “to be.” “Hal” is the ancestor of the modern English words whole and hale. Thus, “waes hal” literally meant “Be healthy.”

The Vikings who later settled in Northern England used a variant of the same phrase, “Ves heill.” Since the Anglo-Saxons and Norse shared a custom of welcoming guests by presenting them with a horn of ale, a cup of mead, or a goblet of wine, the greeting evolved into a toast.

The phrase eventually evolved into the single word that we know today as “wassail.” The use of “wassailing” to mean “caroling” very likely descended from the custom of singing songs while drinking from the wassail bowl during the Christmas holidays.

Cranberry Wassail
1 gallon ocean spray cranberry juice
5 cups apple juice
2/3 cup sugar
4 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp allspice (whole)
1 medium sized orange sliced
20 whole cloves

Combine cranberry juice cocktail, apple juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and allspice in a large pot. Heat to boiling over medium heat; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Strain punch to remove spices. Serve warm in a heat proof punch bowl or chill and serve over ice. Garnish with orange slices studded with cloves. Makes 42 4-ounce servings.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and day and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on earth.” And it was so. ~Genesis 1:13-15   ✝

** Image via Pinterest

571. There are dark shadows on the earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast. ~Charles Dickens

We look at life from the back side of the tapestry.
And most of the time, what we see are
loose threads, tangled knots and the like.
But occasionally, God’s light shines through, and
we get a glimpse of the larger design with God
weaving together the darks and lights of existence.
~John Piper

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No moon, no stars, no sun, no blue of sky… No bees, no butterflies, no adoring, garden paramours… Only a foggy Sabbath steeped in silent, grey stillness as bit by bit by bit color empties out of the landscape leaving in its wake pallid, watercolored remains to blanket the lawn… Autumn has but a fortnight left before she relinquishes her throne to winter’s chilling reign. So I wonder if she’s weeping, if the falling mists are her crestfallen tears. It would certainly seem so as gloomy and grey as her recent days have been. Her palette, once streaked with chestnut and chocolate, maroon and mahogany, mauve and mulberry, orange and ochre, red and russet, is soon to be washed of all but grey and beige and evergreen. Thankfully, however, there are the brightly colored lights of Christmas to brighten the dying year’s ever-increasing, muted days.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. ~James 1:17  ✝

546. God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars. ~Martin Luther

The Fall of the year
is more than three months
bounded by an equinox and a solstice.
It is a summing up without
the finality of year’s end.
~Hal Borland

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As we backed out of the garage not long ago, we saw this, the clearly defined, edge of a line of the thunderstorms. As I took the photograph, it occurred to me that in a much slower progression, that’s the way all of the aberrations of nature pass over the earth during the course of a year. Sunny days come and go, hot and cold periods come and go, flowers come and go, fruitings and harvests come and go–in other words God’s good provisions are always in a never-ending flux of comings and goings. Autumn then, as Borland says, is indeed a summing up of what’s happened throughout a year’s trip around the sun, and thankfully it only takes away what the gardener holds dear a little bit at a time. We may be just steps away from winter, but given earth’s history of unfailing continuance we are not too many steps further away from spring. So to recall a familiar phrase, all’s well that ends well, especially when we’re blessed with the divine promise for more. Is there any way God’s enduring love and goodness could be even the slightest bit more grand!

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.
~Psalm 136:1-9    ✝

542. Most glorious night! Thou wert not meant for slumber! ~Lord Byron

I often think that the night
is more alive and more
richly
 colored than the day.
~Vincent Van Gogh

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On a dark, windy November night huge raindrops were slapping autumn leaves against the car or sending them whirling, willy-nilly all around us. As we drove on towards home, more and more of the colorful foliage litttered the slick black pavement ahead of us. As I listened to the sound of the leaves and rain smacking against the windshield in addition to the clicking back and forth noise of the wipers I was being lulled into a deep reverie of personal reflection. But as we turned onto a more traveled thoroughfare, the bright street lights illuminating our neighborhood duck pond broke my preoccupation with the day’s troubling matters. At that moment I looked up, away from my thoughts, and saw a few mallards and some geese gliding serenely along on the reservoir’s glazed, rain-spattered surface. In the halo-like light and the falling rain, the buoyant creatures looked surreal. They were like visions of floating grace and peace seemingly sent to testify that God is with us even in the midst of bothersome realities on cold, rainy nights.

I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. ~Psalm 16:7   ✝

**Image via Pinterest