Friday, December 31, 2010

Best Photo and Article/Entry of 2010

And the winners are:

Well, one small commercial before I announce the winners.

I want to make it clear that the best photo and article/entry do not mean that they are the best events of 2010. I went over the best events of the year yesterday in 2010 Events of the Year.  The winners today are for the picture which spoke to me the most and the article/entry that I enjoyed the most on rereading.  In both cases the selections also needed to represent the eclectic approach that I take to this blog.

My blog is--my blog. It is personal and yet public. I cover a wide range of topics from news to family items and events. I also include leadership thoughts and reviews of movies, restaurants, wine, concerts and other items that strike me. I even include some jokes, and writing/poetry of my own. I do not believe that anything is off the table--although I have considered breaking the blog into other smaller bodies of work.

I appreciate feedback and I have even been called out on some of my statements this past year and I appreciated the time my friends took to educate me on the items that I did not fully understand. I admit I have opinions and fairly deep rooted beliefs about much of what I write about.

Thank you to everyone for the time you take to read my thoughts and for your comments--either directly on the blog or in Facebook.


And the winners are:



My favorite photo of 2010:



No Caption Required
This image was in the article Patrick and Tina get Married which was published on Sunday, June 20, 2010. I felt that this was one of those stand alone images--hence the name "No Caption Required."  I can still feel the love of the moment as I look at the picture.

My Favorite Article/Entry for 2010:

Dark Trees

I was outside Tuesday evening
looking at the night sky.
Chris bought a telescope at a yard sale--
I thought I'd try it out.

I saw Jupiter and three of its moons.
and craters on the Moon as well.

But bathed in the bright moonlight
I noticed the trees
towering above me still full with leaves.

They were dark.

The lightening bugs that made them shimmer
during the nights of summer--
were gone.

Dark and foreboding.
Silhouetted by the moon.

They were not yet autumn trees--
robed with red and orange leaves.
Nor were they the eerie trees of Halloween--
leaf-less, sketching scary shadows on the lawns
for the ghouls and goblins to dance with
in the moonlight.

No--these were still summer trees.
Standing tall against the winds and rains.
Reveling in hot summer sun
providing cool shade to travelers
pausing beneath their branches.

Yet, they were dark.

I imagined them gloomy.
As if they sensed the change.

The coolness of the still not yet autumn breeze
swept across my bare arms.

I paused, breathing deeply,
savoring both the musky scent of summer
and the sweet smell of recently mowed grass.

A dog barked in the distance
returning me to my driveway.

I had drifted off
to a summer-bathed sandy beach.

The light in the window reminded me
that the time for sleep had come.

And dreams.

The dark trees stood tall.
Nodding, it seemed
in the cool gentle breeze.

Autumn was at hand.

Dark Trees appeared on September 23, 2010. I love the imagery and the sensory nature of this poem. One of my favorite lines is: "... the eerie trees of Halloween--leaf-less, sketching scary shadows on the lawns for the ghouls and goblins to dance with in the moonlight." I actually can see playing out in my mind as I read it--and it really still strikes me. Reading the line "...breathing deeply, savoring both the musky scent of summer and the sweet smell of recently mowed grass" makes me relive summer and warmer times while I am trapped here in the winter time.

In conclusion--
The competition was fierce and stiff--and I considered including the runners-up, but that would be a bit presumptuous of me.

Thank you for reading and commenting during 2010, and I pray that your year ahead is full of hope and blessings.

Don't party too much tonight and if you drink--don't drive.  Spend the night or get a taxi.




Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Events of the Year

What a year 2010 was.  We celebrated three major life events during the year, went on two kick-butt vacations and enjoyed so many special times with family and friends.  I am not even going to try to pick one best event--whether I wrote about it in the blog or not. But, I do want to write about the Events of 2010 because the year was a truly special year.  And so, in an effort to keep them all on a level playing field, I am calling them the Events of the Year and will try to keep them in chronological order.

So take a moment with me to review the great events of the year.

Lucas. The third grandson and Jeremy and Nicole's first child. The year got off to a grand start right in January with the arrival of Luke. Births always bring the family together--and this one was no exception. We have had the opportunity to watch him grow through this first year of life and develop already into a great kid. He is all in--in everything he does.

Snowpocaplyse. Snow in more amounts than we can remember. The dueling blizzards closed down the region for the better part of two weeks. I wrote a number of blog items about the snow but one of the coolest things that happened was the impromptu Super Bowl party we hosted for the neighborhood because we were all trapped by the snow and could not get out to our planned parties. We learned a lot about our neighbors and the whole neighborhood came closer together as a result of the blizzards.

Napa. The first of out two kick butt vacations of the year. Our first trip to Napa and a great time with Pennie and Scott. Not just wine--but natural beauty and wonder as well. It was a great week in a great place.

Jax clean bill of health.Jax went through some really tough medical testing during May. He was sick and they tested him for so many different diseases and syndromes that we had to continually remind ourselves that the doctors were searching for a needle in a haystack--or in this case Jax's blood. In  the end, God provided the answer through all of the testing--there is nothing abnormally wrong with Jax--no disease and no syndrome. He was just having a rough time.

The Wedding. The planning, the talking, the execution. It was simply elegant. We enjoyed the union of Tina and Patrick--and a beautiful June day in Baltimore with family and friends. Everyone contributed to this day in some way and that is what made it so special. Plus--the reception was a fun experience and the after-reception party was fun as well.

Florida Vacation. I love Florida and Jupiter. What more needs to be said? A week with Nicole and Mike and the boys followed by a week with Mary and Fran in an awesome place. We survived a glancing blow from a hurricane, swam with sharks and manatees, went on a safari, snorkeled and really enjoyed ourselves. There are so many blog entries on this that it is easy to get the flavor of how much I enjoyed my time away from the grind of life.

Ethan Off to School. A momentous event in every child's life. E is now firmly in the grip of the public school system.  And the reward--E-day. Wednesday afternoons Ethan and I get some alone time which I call E-day when I get to provide after-school care.

Wine Weekend with Friends. A mini-vacation in October when our friends accompanied us for an overnight to Charlottesville, VA to visit the wineries and reengage with some history.

Thanksgiving Family Gathering. Mom and Dad made one of their infrequent visits to Maryland to celebrate Thanksgiving with us. And we did celebrate. Patrick won the annual Axis and Allies tournament that we hold the day after Thanksgiving and everyone had a great time. Nicole and Mike hosted a great meal on "the day," and we overdosed on football and desserts.


Consensus Wine Blending. Read the blog entry. Chris and I did this last year and determined we wanted to win this year--and we did. This day is just great fun.

Christmas. Family, friends and fun. We gathered together a couple of times--Christmas Eve breakfast, church, Christmas Day presents and dinner. A truly special celebration of Christ's birth.

And there you have them--the Events of 2010.  All of them special and important. They, together, are the winners for the best events of the year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

December Grasses

Sometimes I find the neatest things right in my own yard.

This morning I looked out the window and saw the sun, yes, really the sun, illuminating the now brown grasses around the pool. The sky was blue and the grasses were golden and shimmering in the sunlight.

I wanted to cut them down a while ago--I have to do that every year, but now I am glad that I didn't. 

It was over 40 degrees today for the first time in over two weeks--it felt like a summertime heat wave.

It felt good to be outside, I also build a bird house with Ethan during the late morning and early afternoon. It only took a few hour--but I wound up emptying the garage in order to get a workspace for us to construct in. We had to take many breaks to warm up. Some hot chocolate and a couple minutes inside and we were back at the project which only required two trips to Lowe's for supplies.

So the in between week has been full of some different activities.  And relaxing and at times frustrating (installing my new router highlighted a problem with my laptop).

But it is a week I look forward to every year. And although I have to work tomorrow, I am excited about the new year celebrations which are just a couple of days away.

Favorite Blog Items - 2010

I reviewed the massive amount of writing I did for 2010 and tried to get it down to the top ten items or articles. I got close. I will announce my winner with the picture of the year on December 31st. And the nominees for favorite item from the blog for 2010 are:

Integrity Lapses End Badly. An item about the resignation of the Mayor of Baltimore because she had some integrity issues.

Lucas Arrives. An item about the arrival of the youngest member of the family.

"To Do" or "Not To Do"? lists and my use of lists to not do things. Don't let things get put on my list!

Grandfather - Other Duties as Assigned. This is about taking off a day from work to spend as the primary caregiver for Lucas and how much fun I really had.

For the Love of My Dog - Keeping Life in Perspective is about how having a dog keeps me grounded.

Quote of the Day. It was April 6th and we were in the Napa Valley at the Old Faithful Geyser and there were some little sheep of a different variety and Chris made this really humorous statement when she saw them.

Complicated Factors. I got on my soap box about people.


Home Projects--the Blood Factor. About how home projects just never are as easy as they seem or that they should be.

Afternoon with the Bride and Groom. One afternoon with Patrick and Tina finalizing arrangements for the wedding.

Sand and Beaches. Some thoughts about beaches.

Fizz in the Glass of Life. Some random thoughts about grandchildren and life.

Plug-n-Play Leadership: the Wrong Answer. A rant about something I see as really wrong about leadership in government.

Consensus Blending - Fun at the Winery. Retells the fun we had one Sunday at Keswick blending wine.

Boy in the Window is about how seeing a small boy playing in a store window reminded me of a 50 year old memory.

Wine Club Dinner: The 2010 Version is a Hit reviews the dinner we enjoyed with the wine club.

Dark Trees was one of the eight poems I wrote in the blog this year.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Favorite Pictures from the Blog - 2010

Below are my nominations for the best picture of the year from my Blog. These are all images that either I or my lovely wife, Chris, took on our cameras.  I will announce the winner on December 31st along with my best blog item of the year.

1. Jax is the coolest 2-year old on the planet. He has the world always under control. And for that matter he always has his parents and grandparents in the palm of his hand, too.  I love this picture because I really love this hat. I wish I could wear one with the confidence that Jax does! 
Jax--I love this Hat!
 
























Baby? Where's the Baby?


2. Jeremy after Lucas was born. I don't really remember what was going on, but this picture really captured the emotions of the time--the joy, the excitement and the terror.



















Snowpocalypse through the crystal of the door
3. "Through the Crystal" as I have titled this image,  is shot out the front door of the house looking into the post 1st Snowpocalypse event in February. I thought about this shot and felt it would provide a cool memory of the event. Of course, at the time I had no idea that a second even larger storm was on the way. When we were done, some almost 60 inches of snow lay on the ground. We were trapped for four days--with over 40 inches of snow in the street. The driveway was clear--but the street was impassable.

















4. Makayla loves the snow. She was having more fun in the snow during the Snowpocalypse than should have been allowed. It was fun to watch her run through the snow and shake it all over herself. It was not fun, however, cleaning off her feet when she came in from playing.
Makayla Loves Snow
5. The roads were impassable. Chris and I and Makayla took a walk to check them out. The day was snowy and cold. Just the kind of weather Chris and Makayla like. I remember about the snow and cold for the entire walk. I was a true downer to be with since the snow spirit was so high in Chris.
Barely Passable

 6. I needed some color and we found it in California at a winery. These flowers just brightened up my whole day. And this image brightens my day every tome I look at it.
California Colors of April
7. As we walked through the Redwood forest during our Napa/Sonoma vacation, we spied this web glinting in the sunlight. Chris worked her magic--walking off the path and into a dry stream bed to snap this shot.
Spider Web in the Redwood Forest
8. This is one awesome looking dude! Getting ready for the wedding and looking his best--even with the half smile. Look at him--he is such a cool looking dude all decked out.
I'm the Man!

9.  At the wedding of the year. This image, I think, really captured the emotion of the day. Nuff said.
No Caption required

 10. On the beach in Jupiter, armed with her Kindle--reading and relaxed.  No--she did not take this image.
I'm Bored with Beaches

11. Sometimes an image just captures a scene exactly as I remember it. The hurricane was moving off shore. The surf was rough.  The sky and the clouds we vivid and to be remembered. The wind was strong and it reminds me of paintings I have seen of the sky and surf.
Like a Painting--Jupiter Beach

12. Before I managed to destroy my underwater camera, I had a great day of snorkeling and was able to capture this school of fish. I love the way the sunlight is playing with the shadows on the bottom and the sand is being channeled by the action of the waves. I felt like a member of the school as I was swimming with the fish the day. I enjoyed the snorkeling, but I would have loved to just be laying on the bottom in scuba gear--eve though ti was only 10 feet deep. I should have rented a tank.
I'd Love to be Sleeping with the Fishes
13. And off on the rocks--not 50 feet offshore one day and group of manatees came to sun themselves. They were awesome--not as awesome as the one that caught us by surprise a day later when Chris and I were snorkeling--but nearly so. In all of the years we have been coming to Jupiter, we had never seen manatees--but this past winter was especially rough on the manatee population, with some 10 percent dying due to the cold. So their patterns must have changed a bit. No problem--we thoroughly enjoyed seeing them.
Manatees! Right There!

14.  My favorite bird! I don't know why--it just is.
Real Birds Wear Pink!

15. We were out driving one evening after dinner and saw the perfect spot to snap an image of Jupiter Lighthouse. Chris took it--and I was sure it wouldn't come out--but look--it did.
Jupiter Light House
So I Can Find My Way Back
16. Lucas, asleep. 2010 is the year of Luke! What a great kid. What fun--and how he has so changed and developed. He is such a neat kid. One of the "Gang of Three."
Lucas
A New Definition of "Sleeping Like a Baby"
17. The first day of school. I can feel the anxiety in the image.  That would be his Mom's anxiety.
Every Mother's Nightmare
The First Day of School
18. No year in review would be complete without my favorite past time being included. This bunch of Cabernet Franc grapes was at Keswick Vineyards in early-October.  A beautiful Sunday morning.
Walking in the Vineyard
19. My Pair of Kees together. BFF.
A Pair of Kees
20. And to end the year--the Eclipse Equinox. Chris took it, but I got up to view it as well. A truly unique event almost 400 years in the making.
Equinox Eclipse

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010: Twenty Pictures

And as a summary of Christmas with the family--here are twenty pictures to relive the memories.
Ornaments on the Tree

Reflecting the Beauty
 Jax totally toasted about 5PM--the day caught up with him.
Jax on Christmas 2010
 The family--chillin after the presents
Christmas Afternoon

Who Took My Present?

Ethan: Spy Hunter

I Love Coats!

Dad, When are they Leaving?

Nicole--Relaxed

Grandma? Who Gets the Next Gift?

What a Cute Butt!

Chewie chewing

Riordan under the Christmas Palm

Picture of the First Picture with the New Camera

Pop-pop and Lucas Digging In

Christmas Eve Brunch: And So it Begins

The Women in my Life
Shhh! Santa has been Here!

The Family 2010

The Youngest Fighting for Grandma's Love

Monday Musings - December 27, 2010

1. 363 days until Christmas 2011. Five days until 2011.  Who are you partying with?

2. Did you read about the 9 year old boy who is the youngest American ever to be classified as a chess master?  Read about Samuel Sevian.

3. I found it scary funny that North Korea was declaring a holy or a sacred war on South Korea. How does an atheistic country have anything holy? Isn't that an oxymoron?

4. I heard this at work and it is a funny way to end the season--Why does Santa have three gardens?  So that he can hoe, hoe, hoe.

5. I love sports--and I have watched some cricket when i have been on international travel--but there is something really weird when someone can score 498 runs in an inning. CNN International reported that the other day. Really? I remember one time, when I was at a British RAF base for the 4th of July, we played the base cricket team a game of softball. It doesn't transfer well, suffice it to say.

6. I love the CIA.  You have got to read this article about a new group they created--WTF.  It made me LOL.

7. The day after Christmas when the presents are all gone--the Christmas Tree looks so lonely and forlorn.

8. It snowed a bit today--and the entire region panicked.

9.  The saddest part about Christmas is that it ends and we so quickly forget everything and return to the way we were.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Day After Christmas

It's the day after Christmas and the skies are all gloom
2010 Family Christmas Family Picture
The toys and the stockings lay strewn round the room
The dog's still in hiding, the cat can't be found
And hordes of young children lie heaped in a mound
And Chris in her pj's, and I in my briefs
had just woke from sleeping off two pounds of beef

Well, you get the idea. Months of planning led to the successful execution of the game plan, and unlike the Cowboys last night who couldn't get an extra point when they needed it--the Christmas 2010 plan was a total success.


Eleven people gathered for dinner yesterday and enjoyed the spirit of the holiday, together. I do recall that on Christmas Eve, with the additional family of friends, we needed 16 seats in church--and miraculously we got them all in a row.

And so--although on the calendar Christmas was yesterday--we are still in the season of Christmas through January 6th--don't let all the planning that has been done during the past couple of months be lost so quickly.  Take a minute--thank God for your blessings and then take a deep breath and reflect on hopefully happy memories with friends and family.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Prayer 2010

Father in Heaven

The world moves too fast and I let it rob me of time to spend with you. Help me to see the glory of your coming to earth as you promised to provide a way back to intimacy with you. Intimacy that I don't appreciate, for I use my time to do other things and to satisfy other pursuits. But I need to spend more time with you.

If I start by changing one heart, mine, perhaps another will change and then one-by-one the world will change. I don't appreciate your miracles anymore: that the sun rises each day and that after a night of sleep I wake up to a day filled with opportunities and hope and promise. I know in my head that I am blessed, but I really don't in my heart appreciate that I live in the the greatest country in the world, and in one of the richest counties in that great country. You have blessed me and my family beyond my expectations. And I fail to take time to say thank-you at the beginning and ending of each day. Forgive me for not giving the glory of my world to you.

Where would I rather be? I spend a lot of time thinking about that question. I would rather be right here doing the work that you have given to me to do. I must stop being so selfish and day dreaming about a beach somewhere with warm sand on my toes. You have put me here for a reason and I need to step up and do the tasks you have set before me--with joy in my heart rather than the sadness I pick up to carry when I get into one of those "o woe is me" times in my life. Forgive me for wanting to show everyone the cross I think I'm carrying.

Let me find the joy that You send into my life every day. Let me appreciate the sunrises and the sunsets. Let me give you thanks for every meal and the the heat in my house, the car that I drive, the clothes that I wear, and the family that loves me even when I am a grouch. Remind me that the sand on the beach, the water and the fishes in the ocean, the air I breathe, and the stars I long to travel among are all yours and that you graciously allow me to enjoy them.

Father--this Christmas, make me not ashamed at the tear that wants to roll down my cheek as I sing Hark the Herald Angels and allow my mind to pause for a moment and think about how great you are that you came to this planet and want to have a personal relationship with us, including me. And as the Gloria of Angels We Have Heard on High rolls off the tounge, make my heart joyous and imagine what it will be like someday to sing with the throngs of angels standing in the light of your presence.

Finally, Father, send your holy angels to protect the service men and women and civilians on duty around the world this night. The forces of evil are gathering and your guidance and protection is needed to guard and protect them. Be with the leaders of our country, may they turn to you for guidance and wisdom. Be with the homeless, that they may find shelter; the hungry, let them be fed; the grieving, that they may find peace; be with the children that they may have hope.

The magic of Christmas is that I pause and turn my thoughts to you. Restore the magic of your gift in my heart and help me to be giving to others during the year ahead.

Thank you for Christmas and reminding me that we need to reconnect. Forgive me for drifting away. Help me to do better.
Heard this morning while preparing breakfast for the family: "I've got to go downstairs and get the good plastic for breakfast."

Addendum to this Morning's Post

No, I really didn't forget the dog.  I could have though.
Heard this morning while preparing breakfast for the family when asked why she was headed downstairs to get silverware, which we don't keep there: "I've got to go downstairs and get the good plastic for breakfast."

Are We There Yet?

I was summarily handed a list the other morning--these are your tasks for this afternoon to prepare for the holiday.

Ugh! The more we do the more there seems to be to do. Maybe if we started later, there would be less that needs doing?

Vacuum? Really? Vacuuming is one of those things that always needs to be done--so skip it and wait until the last minute rather than doing it, redoing it, and then doing it for real. I don't need practice vacuuming!

Ah--but it is finally Christmas Eve. And i am the offensive line for my quarterback who is calling the plays.

Now the real fun begins. The weeks of preparation have wound down into this final push to the end zone. It is time for the "Two minute drill" right now.

Last gift? Is it wrapped? Where is the gift bag?

Stockings? Found, acocunted for and hung by the chimney with care, or nails, or tape whatever will hold them!

Carrots for the reindeer? Cookies for Santa? A glass of wine for me? (OK--2 glasses and then quit counting)

Dog groomed? (Where did I leave the dog?)  Chris, have you seen the dog?  OMG--she's at the groomers, overnight? Ugh!

And so mentally I slump into the chair exhausted--but it is only 6AM. I have a massive family breakfast (or brunch?) planned, followed by a nap, then church, then dinner, then dessert with friends and then maybe church again--just because it didn't take the first time.

And by then it will be tomorrow! Christmas.

O, I forgot to clean out the fireplace!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Eve Eve

I remember when I was a kid needing to name this day something. It was natural to call it the eve of Christmas Eve--hence, Christmas Eve Eve.

It is probably the toughest day of the year to be a kid. Or a parent!

It is like the middle innings of a ball game, or the middle of the third quarter of a football game.The end is in sight--but not yet close enough to be real.  It can still go either way.  There is a lot of playing time left. The excitement is building, but it is so easy to still crash and burn.

For myself--I'm going about my regular day. Racquetball at 5:30 AM, work, home, dinner, football on TV, conversation with the woman I cohabitate with, and then sleep. The wrapping is done--the decorations by now are all hung. Relaxation is in the air.

The big news this year is that Christmas Eve Eve is also a Friday.  I know, you are thinking, but wait, it is Thursday. Aha, you are right--but then so am I since Christmas Eve is the Federal Holiday Christmas Observed--and I don't have to work on Friday, then Thursday essentially becomes Friday!  AND (now here is the really crafty part) this week effectively has two Saturdays.

If that makes sense to you, then you are as wacky as I am.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Eclipse Picture

Lunar Eclipse on Winter Solstice
21 December 2010 about 0300 EST
As proof that at least one of us was awake for the eclipse on early Tuesday morning as the Winter Solstice was also occurring--an image. Chris took her trusty Sony and got the moon while it was eclipsing (is that a word?).

She remarked, "Do you know how hard it is to find the moon in a camera?"

Wednesday: When Hours Matter

There is a family on the street that connects to ours with one of those day, hours, minutes counters until Christmas in their front yard for everyone to see.  It sure hits home how close Christmas has come.

Today, though, it almost is better for it to go just to hours so people face the magnitude of the task in front of them.

Consider noon.  60 hours until Christmas!  By bedtime at 10 PM, only 50 hours remain.

So, how's your shopping and wrapping coming?

Stockings hung yet?

Did you clean out the fireplace so Santa won't track soot all over your newly cleaned for the holidays carpets?

There is so much to do and the time for procrastinating is long over.

I'd rather watch a movie.

And drink a glass of wine.

Maybe munch a cookie.

And stick my head in the sand. (Beach? Sun? Warmth? Sand?)

But you know what?  Christmas will arrive anyway--and I better get ready like a sports team preparing for a game. Have the game plan ready and the plays all lined up. I know who my quarterback is: Chris, and I've got to do a lot of blocking and protecting her so that she can get the plays run successfully. She better not get sacked!  Or I'm in trouble.

And the clock up the street just keeps ticking off the seconds!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It's Been Almost 400 Years!! Solstice Eclipse

Wow--I love it when rare things happen. Were you up early this morning to enjoy a rare, once in a lifetime event? (Actually, once in a lot of lifetimes?)

A Lunar Eclipse coinciding with the Winter Solstice--something that has not happened in 372 years.

Lunar Eclipse
I also learned a new word--selenelion. Look that one up!  According to a BBC News Article, a selenelion, occurs when the sun and the eclipsed moon can be seen at the same time.  Of course, you had to be in Ireland or the UK to see that this time--but I had never even thought about an eclipsed moon and the sun being visible at the same time, let alone there being a word for it. That happens a lot more frequently.  There is an interesting article: In Search of Selenelion, which provides a story of one person's search for this elusive occurrence.

But the eclipse with the winter solstice is even more fascinating.

In olden times, it might have been thought to one of those signs in the heavens. Probably not a good sign, either. Panic may have ensued as the populace feared for their lives when the moon turned blood red and disappeared. Although, after a short time, it reappeared.

Now, we rational and scientifically minded people sleep through it. It is a well understood event, barely worth noting. A cool coincidence. It was cold outside and in the "wee" hours of the morning when only the night workers are awake and the lonely soldiers are on duty guarding their positions. I'm sure there were clouds. Somewhere. But in my area it was clear and a million mile visibility. Fortunately, Chris woke me up and I went outside to view the blood red moon at about 3:00 AM.

There are three interesting Bible verses which mention the moon turning to the color of blood:

Joel 2:31:
The sunlight will be turned to darkness and the moon to the color of blood, before the day of the Lord comes – that great and terrible day!  -NET bible

Acts 2:20
The sun will be changed to darkness and the moon to blood before the great and glorious day of the Lord comes. --NET Bible

Revelations 6:12
Then I looked when the Lamb opened the sixth seal, and a huge earthquake took place; the sun became as black as sackcloth made of hair,  and the full moon became blood red; --NET Bible

I wonder what the prophets who wrote each of these saw in their mind as they wrote these words--was it an eclipse? What was God putting in their minds that they were trying to describe?

What will today bring as this Christmas Season continues towards its finale.  What does this sign in the heavens, similar to the star so many centuries ago, foretell? 

It is a sign. We should take note of this sign. It can be a sign of peace or war. It can be a sign of feast or famine. It is a sign--He is coming, quickly. Like A thief. And we celebrate his arrival for he first time this very week

(Look! I will come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays alert and does not lose his clothes so that he will not have to walk around naked and his shameful condition be seen.)  Revelations 16:15 --NET Bible

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday Musings - December 20, 2010

1. The snow that fell on Thursday has remained pretty well in place since. It is cold out there. It makes going outside a very unpleasant experience.

2. Christmas in a word--Emmanuel.  Look it up!

3. Football is a fickle sport--sometimes the seemingly better team loses. It is always good when the home town team defeats the defending Super Bowl champs in a close game.

4. A quiet evening alone at home with Chris, a nice fire in the fireplace, a bottle of wine and soft lighting. A respite from the troubles of the day. The perfect ending to the week.

5. Let's be clear--this is the plan.  Those at least are the words associated with the events currently penciled in for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  At least we have the meat in the freezer.

6. Our church announced that all four services on Christmas Eve are completely full--what a great problem to have.

7. The weather for the past two weeks has been like February cold. I hope it is not even colder in February.

8. It is  funny how a little bit of snow makes every one's cars look so dirty.

9. I hope your shopping is done. There isn't much time left.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Dry Run

It must be that practice is required to enter a sleep deprived state and enjoy the day.

Ethan and Lucas
For some unexplained reason, I am up bright and early on a Sunday morning. Before the clock struck 6, I was up and at the side of my tortured wife who is feverishly trying to ensure everything is ready for the big event which is still some six days away.  In my sleepy, still groggy state I am trying to make decisions about menus for Christmas Eve--breakfast and dinner. Church is sandwiched in there somewhere and there remains the possibility of a midnight service as well.

But, trying to solidify menus before my first pot of coffee is just crazy. I can't even spell my name yet.

Something about french toast and pot roast, mimosas and wine. I sure hope I can keep the meals straight.

As the weekend approaches I am sure things will get a bit crazier on the home front. Let's all smile, because all too quickly it will be over.

Lists are everywhere--being checked twice and not just gift lists either. Menus and cleaning, banking and washing. Lists--life is a list this week it seems.

Oh well--it is said that Christmas is for children and it seems at least the grandsons know how to make the best of it. Lucas loves to be pushed in a laundry basket by Ethan. Nicole watched over the operation to ensure it was was safe.  That was last week's entertainment during football. No list required.  Just fun.

And so it begins. Stand by for the craziness to begin.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

One Week to Go!

Well, if the panic level wasn't high enough already--it certainly gets ratcheted up today.

The Christmas Season is drawing to a crescendo! Excitement abounds. Traffic is excruciating. And every visit by the mail person, FEDEX, or UPS provides renewed excitement.  Riordin, our new cat, is especially interested in all of the packages arriving and being stowed around the house.  He seems to enjoy the taste of the wrapping paper.

I know for myself, I am looking forward to a four-day week next week. And then Christmas Eve--with brunch, and church, and most likely friends for the evening.

Chris and I are thinking about finding a mid-night service to attend, something we have not done in years (or actually since we stopped singing in the choir at church). It was just too tough to do it all and it made for a long evening. But now--I think we could pull it off.

My Florida Dream House

The snow on Thursday--aside from really snarling the drive home, provided a needed boost to the Christmas spirit. Although, I did send Tegan a quippy note (she's in Australia) in her Blog about checking out the beach for me.  I really think I would be good with Christmas on the beach somewhere sunny and warm.  Even hot!

 Wouldn't a cookout around the pool to celebrate Christmas be awesome?  I'm a huge fan of Christmas Palms.  I want to get one on closeout after the holidays and put it in the yard next year.

Actually, I'm told the guy who owned our house before us did that one year to the tune of a couple hundred dollars to open and heat the pool.

But that seems a bit excessive--and propane is not $3 per gallon and not the $.20 it used to be.  It would be $500 easy now with propane and opening and reclosing the pool.

But, I'm dreaming of a beach Christmas--just like when I was in college a long, long time ago.

It was especially more of a dream after I shoveled the driveway yesterday and nearly froze my hands putting washer fluid in Chris' car and flattening the boxes to place them in recycling. 

Let's agree on one important safety tip: 17 degrees is just too cold!

Next week--the post-Christmas clean up begins. But for the next week--be sure you wish everyone a Merry Christmas!  They really want to hear you say it!
My Zimbio
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