Sunday, March 29, 2015

Pilgrimage and Jubilee: My First Fifty-Ish Years in Poetry, Prose, and Pictures

Dear friends,

For many years, I had been plotting to compile a book of my poems, favorite essays, stories, and photos to chronicle my first 50 years of life. I knew I would call it Pilgrimage and Jubilee. My initial goal was to do it in time for my 50th birthday, but that was over a year ago. However, I did manage to pull it off in time to print up several copies as Christmas presents for my family. I finished it on Christmas Eve, so I was cutting it close!

Anyway, I thought you all might like to see it, too, so I have uploaded the PDF file to Scribd and embedded it here in this post. You can scroll through it or download it as you like. If you want to view it full screen, you can click on the rectangle button on the right side of the Scribd bar underneath the document window.

It even has color pictures, which the printed version didn't. I created all of the art work and most of the photos.  
If you are one of my relatives, you might be particularly interested, because I put in a lot of information about our mutual ancestors, too. Even if you aren't part of our clan, the historical details might intrigue you. What can you find out about your own family?

Let me know what you think!

Much love,

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Tabebuia, The Brilliant Yellow Flowering Tree of Spring

The brilliant yellow tabebuia trees are in bloom everywhere around the Orlando area, but only for a short time. I see them in every neighborhood as I drive around, but this tree is only a block from our house.

I meant to get out and photograph it earlier, but by the time I found my way over there, camera in hand, so many blooms had already fallen. Even as I clicked away, dozens more floated to the ground. I do love the yellow carpet effect, though. I had to watch where I stepped, because the bees loved it, too, and were buzzing around my feet, busily gathering nectar and pollen. I'm not afraid of them, but I do have a healthy respect and don't wish to disturb them from their labors.

We do not have the traditional "seasons" in Florida. No snow, not much autumn brilliance. But I do try to stay attuned to blooming times of the magnolia, camellia, rain tree, flame vine, and tabebuia. I try to stay mindful in the moments and appreciate the beauty where I can find it. Then I memorialize them with my lens so I can enjoy them all year long.

How about you? 

Flowers in the Neighborhood:
All flower posts on this blog: Flowers

Most recent flower post from Leu Gardens, with links to botanical gardens posts: Flowers in Florida (A Bit of Spring)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Flowers in Florida (A Bit of Spring)

Dear friends,

While much of the rest of the country is snowed in, we've got flowers blooming in Florida. If you live in the north, you can enjoy this bit of springtime color vicariously!

These photos are from Leu Gardens in Orlando. I think they are all in the butterfly area. I didn't take a lot of pictures when we went this time since we were wandering aimlessly with friends and I was having trouble getting into my camera settings. However, I have a few other Leu Gardens posts linked at the bottom, and those have a bazillion photos!


The pictures in this post were shot with a 
Canon Powershot ELPH 135
and edited with Picasa -
not fancy, but they do the job!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Maryland Through My Lens #6: Sister Time in Sykesville

Short post this time! My sister Barb had an appointment in historic Sykesville, and I went along with her.

As we did last year, we savored crepes from the French Twist Cafe - mine berry and hers spinach and tomato with cheese.

We also browsed through an antique store and an indie bookstore (A Likely Story). I bought Susan Branch's gorgeously illustrated travel book, A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside, as a birthday present for my daughter Rachel, who hopes to travel to the United Kingdom this spring.

We have lovely and historic sites in the States, too, like the beautiful old Methodist church building nestled in the center of Sykesville.

We had driven through the countryside many times during the days I was in Maryland. I kept seeing these beautiful bare white tree trunks in among the brown ones. I hadn't had much luck getting a good picture of one as we whizzed by on our way to wherever. When I mentioned this to Barb, she pulled over so I could get a photo of this glorious one. What are sisters for?

That's it for my Maryland Through My Lens series. The other posts are:
Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

Maryland Through My Lens #5: Around Home

It's another post in my Maryland Through My Lens series! My two youngest daughters and I flew up there for several days earlier this month to visit family.

My favorite room at my parents' house in Maryland has always been the dining room with the big picture window looking out over the bird feeders. I haven't yet mastered bird photography, but I'll keep trying!

More outdoor photos - just a little ice and snow left on the ground for my Florida girls!

 Back inside the nice warm house...



Yours truly!

Barb and my little girl

My teenage sweetie
loves to draw on her hands!

A trip to Maryland wouldn't be the same without playing Scotch Bridge, a tradition passed down through the Hess family.

That's it for this one!

Other "Maryland Through My Lens" posts:

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

Maryland Through My Lens #4: The Works of Our Hands

Welcome back to my Maryland Through My Lens series. I've been back home for over a week now.

When I was trying to figure out how to divvy up the pictures among blog posts, I decided to do it by subject. One post was on our visit to the Clara Barton home, and another on a Sunday celebration in honor of my dad's autumn wedding to Anny.

In this post, I am including several handmade pieces by the women in our family. Most of them are in Maryland, but the last two in Florida. This post will jump around the decades a bit!

The inspiring needlepoint above was created by my late grandmother, Dorothy Ransom Hess. She also enjoyed making afghans and Christmas ornaments for her children, grandchildren, many of her great-grandchildren. You can read more about her here: Sweet Grandma, Dorothy Ransom Hess.

Though I was first an oil painter, I started machine quilting as a newlywed. I haven't quilted in many years, but here are two of my early pieces. I designed and sewed this Bethlehem star as a present for my sister Barb, and it still hangs on her wall!

I found this quilt square hanging in the kitchen at my niece and nephew's apartment. I recognized the fabric, because I used it in some other quilt pieces. I think I made this one in the late 1980s.

What's with the roosters? When my sister and I were on a road trip with our family in 1976, en route from our home in California to grandmother's house in Pennsylvania, I would pester her for suggestions of what to draw. She would invariably say, "A rooster!" I thought of that shortly before we left on our trip this month, so my youngest daughter and I each sketched a rooster for her when we were doing a home school unit study on pioneers and farming. Unfortunately, at nine, she didn't realize you're supposed to keep them flat instead of folding them for transit!

Here's that sweet little one wearing a hat knit by her Aunt Barb, who is quite talented with her yarn and needles.

Barb is showing Anny one of her latest knitting projects, a shawl.

Another recent project by Barb - a hand knit sweater. This is a little detail from a picture I took while she was wearing it. The design on the right is on the front of the sweater. Isn't she talented?

Anny is an amazing knitter, too. She made this lovely lacy scalloped scarf for me for Christmas.

Shortly after we arrived, Anny pulled me aside and told me she had something that she thought I would want. It was my mother's, a small photo album with Bible verses written on index cards. What Anny didn't know is that I am the one who made it for my mother. So sweet to see it again and bring it home.

Here's a peek inside at some of the pages - such a wonderful reminder for me even now. I can't even remember when I gave these to my mom, but I'm guessing it was over 20 years ago.

Speaking of my mother, she was a amazing crafter, too. Her specialty, besides sewing dresses and blankets for her grandchildren, was stained glass. She designed these two pieces for me many years ago because I have camellia and magnolia flowers in my Florida backyard. Beautiful!

I hope you've enjoyed these "works of our hands." The phrase comes from Psalm 90:17.  

"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it."

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

P.S. One more old picture! My mother in the middle with four of my kids more than 10 years ago. The afghans were made by my grandmother.

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