5 Fun Things To Do in Colorado Springs…

5DBF9478-2C7D-4941-8FBA-602F3BA62033Now, y’all- I live in a coastal southern state- the beach is just a few hours from where I live at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, and we’re talking foothills … not a mountainous terrain by any stretch of the imagination. Alabama is one of the lowest in terms of sea level in the nation…that means any place above 500 feet in elevation is …well, it’s way up there. For instance, Colorado Springs starts at 6200 feet above sea level!  Still. Even with all of that thin air, after several trips to Colorado Springs, I’ve decided that some of the best things to do in Colorado are literally seeing America the Beautiful.

BF9D8F52-D53B-4222-87D2-8F58AE27455DWhere else, but Colorado Springs, could you go where the deer and the antelope actually play, where a schoolteacher named Katherine Lee Bates stood atop Pike’s Peak inspired to write ‘America the Beautiful’ ; where you can actually stay in one of Teddy Roosevelt’s favorite hotels, built by his friend Spencer Penrose; Colorado Springs is where Gymnasts, Swimmers and Skaters have trained for and won Olympic Gold Medals and where you can view a flyover by the famous Thunderbirds at graduations from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and my goodness, somewhere in them thar hills… folks track the movements of Santa Claus every Christmas? Yes, some of the best America has to offer are found close to Colorado Springs. 3F8674CD-3231-4401-8A6B-3BD129951C78

Here’s my top 5 Fun Things to Do in Colorado Springs and best of all, it’s great any time of year!

  • 1. Garden of the Gods– this area is magnificent with red rock formations so huge and so amazing…it’s unforgettable! A man named Perkins left the area to the City of Colorado Springs with the wish that it would be maintained and open to the public! Rock Climbers climb, horseback tours are a sight to see and of course there’s always just a drive through with a stop or two just to gawk at the magnificent Red Rock Formations!4E57252A-A1D7-4692-BB0B-CA1A78E81417
  • 2. The Broadmoor Hotel– if you’re headed to Colorado Springs, to my way of thinking there’s no where else to stay for the full experience of Colorado Springs than the Broadmoor. When you drive up to the portico, look up! (The opening photograph) Blue Stars just say- America! Welcomed by the most outstanding staff anyone can imagine, your Broadmoor experience is just beginning! Built by Spencer Penrose and his wife, they opened the doors to 200 of their friends in 1918, for over a 100 years now…they’ve been offering guests more than the imagination can offer…wonderful views, genuine Remington sculptures are casually on display in the main building- you know the fella whose work is iconic of the American West. CAEC40E1-DE78-4337-A329-4AAF7A47C5D9There’s even a museum on the grounds which hold even more memorabilia. All throughout the hotel, the décor is luxurious. Oil paintings on the walls, a theatre, a bowling alley- even the children have their own concierge! The Broadmoor has continually maintained 5 diamond status since the award has been given over 40 years ago. Over a dozen restaurants including a pub called The Golden Bee is so authentic- the interior is an actual English Pub which was dismantled and brought piece by piece, then installed with precision- every night a piano player plays as song books are handed around and beer is sold by the pint or yard whichever you think you’re able to consume and it’s not your imagination- when you leave you’ll have little golden bees stuck to your clothing too!AC89855A-04B0-4532-92E7-5F7FCBA5E07E At Julie’s, a French inspired patisserie, chocolatiers are behind glass in a climate controlled working- small wrapped chocolates are delivered to your room with the turn down service every night! A five star spa which even has an oxygen bar- for folks who are having a bit of trouble with the altitude! The list is almost endless, if you’re not inclined to ever leave there- The Broadmoor will show you a wonderful time!
  • 3. The Royal Gorge. Just a short hour’s drive from Colorado Springs down to Canon City is one of the most magnificent train rides in the whole of America!  In the 1870’s miners of lead, silver and gold (yes, there are still working gold mines near Colorado Springs! ) The miners inspired a 50 mile long railway pass along the Arkansas River…it winds along the same way even into six mile long gorge with sheer rock walls so high they plunge into the river- it makes me dizzy to think about it! 47857B6A-C591-4902-ADBF-7EEA24AE1948This narrow 30 foot span is where a hanging bridge was built in 1879…anchored to the walls with girders, Royal Gorge Hanging Bridge is still maintained to this day! A trip through the Royal Gorge is a can’t miss – it’s a must, to see the awe inspiring scenery!04E76755-ED3B-4F44-94F2-0AADA4A90B3E
  • 4. Seven Falls is a waterfall maintained by the Broadmoor- but open to the public. If you’re brave enough to climb well over 200 steps to the top, there’s a hiking trail on up from there. I took the old mine elevator halfway up to the viewing deck! And an unexpected treat was a restaurant called-  Restaurant 1858, where you can enjoy the falls at lunch and dinner… the menu has things like wild boar and even vegetarian options. What impressed me, was the rugged terrain going back into the Seven Falls area, as you take a short hike or tram ride into the cavern… there’s a western style log cabin that honestly looks like Ralph Lauren just left! Navajo Rugs, nailhead trimmed leather chairs and perfect prints inspired during the 1858 era. A great place to warm up or catch your breath!E4C1B47B-F837-4805-ABB0-6A0C053E7932
  • 5. Pike’s Peak-  is that enough said? Well, if you’re going to Colorado Springs, this is a not to missed experience, rising over 14,000 feet above sea level, the Pike’s Peak mountain range is stunning… there’s always snow at the top and the best donuts in the world rise high above the clouds! Ok, it’s freezing up there and the guides will tell you, the chances are you may not make it to the top but on the way- you’ll stop in the Crystal Lake region and get a chuckle of the Sasquatch Statue- otherwise known as Big Foot; where it’s maintained that the first sighting of Big Foot was reported.

    Just the hairpin turns make this a very exciting tour any time of year. The first time we went, some poor soul took a family photo of us- I had it printed in black and white photos made into the ‘Ugliest Family Christmas Photos’ and actually mailed them! Oh my!41758AF8-C4D9-46C9-BB4D-FA84B70FB404 If you take a small bag of Cheese Curls on your trip be prepared to watch in amazement as it swells up with the altitude change which is significant! Pike’s Peak might be best known for the patriotic song…‘America the Beautiful’ which was written by schoolteacher Katherine Lee Bates, who was so inspired by the sight she saw from Pike’s Peak and I ask you- Would you have wanted to miss that beautiful song? Yes, Pike’s Peak should have been Number One on the list…but there’s always building up expectations to high- just know the journey is worth it whether you get to the top or not! We’ve been 3-4 times and have only reached the Peak once! But the breathtaking views were well worth the risk of not making it!ED9374A4-54AD-4AB9-968A-E3CB4D19E520

  • Cheyenne Mountain Zoo This is a bonus fun thing to do! Guests of the Broadmoor have been enjoying the highest elevation zoo for years and years! The giraffes are a can’t miss area- the zoo has placed walkways up high so you can feed them! Look at that long black tongue! There’s even a bronze statue of Will Rogers inside the zoo, Rogers was a friend of Spencer Penrose too. These days, the zoo is maintained separately from the resort, however, guests of the Broadmoor do enjoy a free shuttle service that takes them right to the gates and believe me- it’s a real time saver! The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is one of the most popular activities in the region…get an early start!

122F5FF3-16F4-4CB1-B9B8-111CC0402028Okay here’s a few bonuses! There’s the need-to-see Downtown Colorado Springs and nearby Manitou Springs which are fun drives too! Both have charming shops and restaurants too. BD0D3E73-0063-47FE-8692-98AD5167C769

One restaurant I can highly recommend is- Carlos Miguels. It’s a reasonably priced white table cloth Mexican Restaurant just a short drive from the Broadmoor and is truly excellent! Then, there’s the somberly beautiful U.S. Air Force Academy, The Cave of the Winds is awe inspiring as well- where the inside temperature is a steady 53 degrees year round, regardless of the outside temperature! If you are real thrill seeker, the Broadmoor has a Zip Line Course that is ranked in the top 5 in the world…I’ll let you experience that one and tell me about it later! And, near Manitou Springs,there’s an area that can be explored of very early cave dwellings. And!

The very inspiring U.S. Olympic Training site where Paralympics also train and please don’t miss the beginning slide show inside the center, watching those gold medalists brought tears to my eyes! Athletes who were not trained to ‘come in second place’ have lived, worked, healed and trained to be the very best they can be actually seen training on this large campus!

E4C1B47B-F837-4805-ABB0-6A0C053E7932These are my Top Five Fun things to do in Colorado Springs and a few more ‘can’t-miss-if you have time’ locations! One stunning thing: Pike’s Peak is almost always in view with the distinctive snow cap… and when I see it I must admit…I start humming if not outright singing…

‘Oh beautiful for spacious skies… for amber waves of grain…for purple mountains majesty…’  

If you’re looking for a Spring or Summer- or anytime of year trip- check out Colorado Springs. Every time I’ve come back down closer to sea level in my sweet home here in Alabama, I’ve come back in awe of just how beautiful America is!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine! *And there are of course other fine hotels in the area! And wonderful dining options as well!

Let there be…

30966989-F009-458C-A820-7951995A564BAn enormous crowd … people from many nations were gathered…young and old…friends and families waiting in peaceful anticipation as- 015697A6-E8CC-494B-8D8E-34D6C8F599C9

A glorious display of fireworks began…intertwined with music and a chorus of voices singing…D498C228-B22F-4BD8-97CD-3D60E81A2CA1

‘Let there be peace on Earth and let it begin with me. 015697A6-E8CC-494B-8D8E-34D6C8F599C9

Let there be peace on Earth, The peace that was meant to be. 5095ADCF-32FC-42B2-B5DA-7AADDC256CDB

With God as our Father- Brothers all are we. Let us walk with each other in perfect harmony! EA3E422F-91E4-4F4E-9E4F-F85651A32AC0

Let peace begin with me, Let this be the moment now. With every step I take, Let this be my solemn vow: To take each moment and live each moment- In peace eternally. 6969BF50-E9C9-4182-859B-F6BDF777E04C

Let there be peace on earth, And let it begin with me!’32B64D7B-4649-4CEC-8F28-9B2423FB4715

The night sky was filled with points of light- bright white fireworks, the crowd quietly exclaimed. Some, like me- shed a few tears… As the beautifully illuminated faces of children of all ages…

B165CDF6-D653-45C1-8651-CDE950B7BF28For one brief shining moment stood in perfect harmony. A perfect celebration of the Prince of Peace. And so, I wish you all, a Happy New Year, filled with Peace and Harmony.

Love y’all, CamelliaE1BBA3F9-ADA9-4E09-9F46-8992E872C73F

*Fireworks Display from the Holiday IllumiNations held at Epcot – Walt Disney World, Orlando Florida. The song, Let there be Peace on Earth, was written for the International Children’s Choir in 1955 by Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller. Copyright rules may apply. Photographs obviously taken by me.67EFC5DB-5BDA-4FA4-A81B-55AA1875AE3A

Away in a Manger…

‘Away in a Manger, 

No crib for a Bed-

The Little Lord Jesus lay down His Sweet Head.

The Stars in the Heavens look down where He lay-

The Little Lord Jesus Asleep on the Hay.’

83FFBA76-D5F9-4937-B981-1141A62DC83D*The lyrics of this beloved Children’s Christmas Carol have an obscure history.  Long thought to have been written by Martin Luther for his children in the late 1400’s- with variations of the first two stanzas being referred to most often in the late 1800’s. Since that time researchers haven’t found anything like it in Luther’s Writings and could have originated with the Lutheran Church instead- it remains a mystery to this day.  Apparently, numerous publications recorded the prose in the late 1800’s right here in America. The composers of the melody have not been fully established, but all agree ‘Away in a Manger’ is thoroughly American.

Luther’s Cradle Song, as it was called- is known to have been recited in Children’s Sunday School Classes  in Nashville Tennessee in 1893. Widely acclaimed thereafter, Away in a Manger was most likely set to music in the early 1900’s using only the first two verses. Starting in 1955, when Bing Crosby recorded ‘Away in a Manger’- many well known recording artists have performed this sweet song. The Christmas carol became very popular in the United States, Great Britain and Worldwide and remains so until this day.

Whenever and however the sweet song came into being… it epitomizes the humble Heavenly Miracle Birth of the Christ Child and continues to be one of the world’s most beloved Christmas Carols. I love this Divine Lullaby, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without it.

Love y’all, Camellia

*read more about ‘Luther’s Cradle Song’  here-   *photograph is obviously mine.

In the Garden…

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‘I come to the Garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses; and the Voice I hear falling on my ear, the Son of God discloses.’IMG_3525

 

‘He speaks and the sound of His Voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing; and the melody that He gave to me within my heart is ringing.’IMG_3527

‘And He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own, and the joy we share as we tarry there, none other… has ever…known.’ IMG_3528

This wonderful hymn was written by C. Austin Miles, at the request of Dr. Adam Geibil in 1912. It was commissioned to be a tender sympathetic song which would ‘ bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the weary and downy pillows to dying beds’.

Even though it was written over one hundred years ago- this Great Hymn of the Faith- called, ‘In the Garden’ – remains a restful comfort and source of sweet communion in the stillness of a quiet garden. I know I felt His Presence in the garden here at Camellia’s Cottage, as I headed out to do a bit of early fall cleanup one morning. IMG_3512

The simple beauty of a Garden Bench, the sweet birdsong and the morning stillness was of a great comfort…‘when the dew was still on the roses…’

Have a Blessed Lord’s Day!

Love y’all, Camellia

*All photographs are obviously mine.

Home Going…

IMG_3292My father in law would have loved his funeral last week… I know, I know…he was ‘absent from the body but present with the Lord’.  Still. If he could have been in the body, he would have loved his Home Going – all of it. But then I’m getting ahead of myself… Wallace Wyatt, Sr. was my father in law for decades, he lived to be 93 years old- he had a long, well lived life. He was born in Cool Springs, then made his life just a few miles over in Beaver Valley- in his beloved St. Clair County. A county older than the State of Alabama, where he served the people for 14 years as their Judge of Probate. I remember he told me once that being Probate Judge was the closest thing to the role of a pastor within our government- with duties ranging from adoptions, marriages, guardianships and of course the end of life business with wills and estates. He said that a good probate judge needed to know and love the people he served. He did. He passed this on to his son- ‘To know and love the people he served.’ This is the motto of a true public servant.

He was surprisingly well travelled for a home body. I recall when he and my mother in law went to Israel, they were in their sixties but both of them rode camels, one of the camels thanked him by spitting in his eye! For their 50th anniversary, one of his daughters asked my father in law if he had gotten their mother a gift- he replied, ‘Well, I bought her a pre-paid funeral plan!’ Of course he got her more than that! On their 60th anniversary- if you can believe it- the two of them went for a little anniversary trip to Cheaha State Park, the highest point in Alabama.  She would die less than two years later. I still miss her every day. Two days after his funeral, would have been their 73rd anniversary, he went to a far higher place to spend it with her. IMG_3249

Always a generous man, when he worked for Alabama Gas Corporation, he ran up on a young girl who was blind, her family told him she was learning Braille. He couldn’t get it out of his mind; so he talked to his Union Brothers about her. Those men raised enough money to buy her a Set of Encyclopedias written in Braille!

Mr. Wyatt was one the Tom Brokaw’s ‘Greatest Generation’– a World War II veteran, who got lost from his unit in France… it was an experience he rarely talked about. Someone at the funeral told me that- lost from his unit in a foreign country in the middle of a war was frightening enough but my father in law ran up on a Mortuary Unit. They fed him and furnished him a place to sleep with the living and the dead. The next morning, the soldiers told him he was welcome to join up with them, he graciously declined saying- ‘Well, you boys sure are nice and I appreciate what you’re doing; a mighty fine job of it too- but if it’s all the same to you, I think I’d ruther be at my own duties then do yours!’ Can’t say I blame him.

The last years of his life were spent at beautiful Veterans Home in our county- the Colonel Robert L. Howard Veteran’s Nursing Home. When he died, his body was prepared…then- while ‘Taps’ was played, his flag draped body was rolled down a long hallway lined with fellow Veterans- standing or in wheelchairs, gave him a final salute- some with arthritic hands.  This is called ‘The Walk’ and is a fitting goodbye to an Old Soldier; he would have loved it.FullSizeRender

His firstborn child was a ‘war baby’, Wallace Jr.(above) -Next, were his pretty girls- following soon after his son, Carol Jane, the next, Eleanor Kay was born 6-7 years later, the last was a late in life baby, Vicki Lynn. Then there was me, his favorite daughter in law. Really.

The first time I went to their home in Beaver Valley, newly engaged- I got ‘The Talk’… He explained, ‘Our family doesn’t believe in divorce, you’re in it for the long haul, just so you know.’ Sort of put the fear of God in me with his bright blue eyes- I nodded in perfect understanding. He restored perfect harmony by playing a stereo record – It was his favorite gospel music group- The Swanee River Boys. swanee river boys

I should say right here that I knew nothing about gospel music- does ‘Michael Row the Boat Ashore’ count? As the Swanee River Boys sang so smooth…I could not believe my ears! Mr. Wyatt alternately sang-All Four. Parts…

  • Bass,
  • Baritone,
  • Tenor and
  • High Tenor, have you ever?

Well, I can tell you now…I still have never heard anything like it.  What I was about to find in this huge family that embraced me… they all could sing or play. In fact I was told, if a baby was born Tone Deaf in the Wyatt family- they pinched their heads off at birth!

Can I just say right here? They (the entire clan) told me stuff like that all the time, for the shock value I guess or maybe they had detected I am practically tone deaf.  I’ll have you know, my children have perfect pitch! Needless to say, there was music at the Funeral for my father in law, last week- just enough and just what he’d like and I tapped my foot a time or two.

A full blown Wyatt event, family reunion, wedding or funeral closely resembles an Ant Bed, occasionally a Fire Ant Bed, depending on who’s there. Pine Forest Baptist was the host of the Ant Bed last week, for decades my father in law was a Deacon there. For the record he would have loved having so many members of his family and the folks that he claimed kin to at his Home Going. vintage women's shoes

He would have loved the ladies in sensible block heels, flats (me), cowboy boots and four inch heels- especially if they were toting a Crock Pot or a Casserole Dish- Oh my! He would have loved the food, do I need to describe it? Groaning Church tables loaded with Food were Begging for Mercy. That’s the most poetic way to describe it. The only thing that was missing was my mother in law’s Coconut Custard Pie.

Pine Forest Baptist is a small Rock Church nestled in a piney grove, the smell of pine always permeated the dinners on the grounds, surrounded by beautiful farmland. Then there was a growth spurt and a fine Trade School was built across the road….Several sent out directions to the funeral service- my favorite was:

‘Head north on 231 toward Ashville, at the crossroads right at the Trade School, turn right like you’re going to Rainbow City, Pine Forest is beside Dollar General on the right.’

Pine Forest was at capacity, there were fine suits and designer dresses, Versace ties, denim and sequins, work clothes and a few in Military Uniforms- My father in law would have loved it all.  His youngest nephew, Danny- the only one who has become a member of clergy was lined up to preach the funeral, three Nieces were asked to sing a favorite gospel song- ‘Unclouded Day’ , his Grandsons were the Pall Bearers and a handsome group that was! This is a family that can put on a funeral at the drop of a hat. My father in law would have loved-

  • hearing his Nieces sing for him one last time,
  • he would have loved Danny’s sermon,
  • he would have loved the Masonic Funeral Rites which were done in such a moving way by Brother Talley.
  • Mr. Wyatt would have loved hearing Taps at graveside and-
  • that the Flag which had draped his body was given to his son.

Yes, he would have loved his Home Going- but most of all- I know he would have loved hearing the recording with his old friend Buford Abner of the Swanee River Boys- the foot tapping upbeat- ‘When I Wake Up That  Morning’

Who knows? He might have been singing along- All. Four. Parts.  As his favorite daughter in law, I would have loved that. There will never be another like him. For sure. William Wallace Wyatt, Sr. was greatly loved. He will be greatly missed … May he rest in peace.

Love y’all, Camellia

*Okay,  I know you want to hear it- take it away Swanee River Boys! https://youtu.be/CVFWDnJtV88

Gratitude…

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Have you ever gotten a line or two of a song in your head and just couldn’t stop thinking about it? That happens to me occasionally…for instance recently, I kept thinking about this line…‘I hope Life treats you kind..’ from Dolly Parton’s famous song, ‘I Will Always Love You’. Dolly wrote the song when she left the Porter Waggoner Show. Later, Whitney Houston elevated this same song to unbelievable heights and popularity. Country and Pop music fans loved that song! It’s a song about leaving, heartbreak, loss, bittersweet memories and to some extent betrayal.  A sad song really.IMG_0155

Often, when a line from a song or a portion of Scripture stops me in my tracks… I want to sit with it a while…contemplate it. With Dolly’s Song… I let the words run around in my head, moving on to that line about ‘Bittersweet memories…’ Ultimately, in the privacy of my own home- I broke out singin’ it- loud….no, I did not sound like Dolly or Whitney- more like a bad version of Willie Nelson, in case you’re wondering. Then, there was a Scripture, I was reading a devotional recently and a portion of a verse just hopped off the page and stopped me in my tracks-I wanted to sit with it awhile- here it is:

 ‘…the same night in which He was betrayed, He took bread; and when He gave thanks….’  First Corinthians 13:23-24.

 Jesus was betrayed…He shared a meal, He gave thanks. Think about it. Betrayal and Gratitude are puzzle pieces that rarely seem to fit. I wondered, what if it said-

  • ‘And after she lost her job…she gave thanks’  or
  • ‘And after he was put on hospice, he gave thanks…’ or
  • ‘After she was abandoned, she gave thanks…’
  • ‘After his father had beaten him, he gave thanks…’

Think of any emotional damage that causes human suffering. Sit with loss, betrayal, abandonment, physical illness, abuse and heartache for a while. Think of them as Gunshots to the Soul. Now, insert those grave wounds into that same Scripture… Does hosting a meal and giving thanks follow heartache? It hardly seems possible. And yet…there is a deep truth in there. Suffering isn’t convenient- a gap opens up, right in the midst of Living. The Betrayal occurred right in the middle of the Last Supper that Jesus would have with his closest friends;  He continued living, He turned to what remained of His life; gave thanks and resumed the meal. I must be honest here, I am not a big fan of telling folks to count their blessings when they are in the midst of suffering– it seems to add an unnecessary burden onto an already wounded spirit. However, for myself…I have found when I am able to allow light to come into my suffering- turn to what remains- the good that life still offers- it takes the form of gratitude and the healing begins…IMG_0152

Life is hard; it never permanently gets easier. Bad things still happen to good people. Promises are broken and some dreams die.  You cannot go back and make Life different. If you look at the photograph, you will see Crepe Myrtles blooming at the back of our yard. There is a gap between the trees- where a clump of beloved dogwoods used to be- they died this year and were cut down.  I mourned the loss- this area is a Memory Garden. The loss of the dogwoods seemed to be a metaphor for what has already been a year of difficulties-among them, the loss of two sweet friends and my mother. As if to drive the heartache/ gratitude connection home, the crepe myrtles are blooming their heads off! Meanwhile I’ve been staring at the Gap- the Loss. These trees have never bloomed so profusely before this year, maybe the dogwoods were blocking our view! IMG_0156

I took photographs of the heavy blooms hanging down close enough to be at eye level- midst the most incredible blue sky with puffy white clouds- the fragrance was faint and lovely. I had stared so long and so hard at what I had lost, feeling the dogwoods had betrayed the Memory Garden… having bittersweet memories… I realized I was missing the near and present loveliness!  ‘Life was treating me kind…’ Thank you, Dolly. The day after the photographs were taken, to further emphasize the point of the Scripture from First Corinthians which I had been contemplating for days…one of the big crepe myrtle branches heavy with blooms broke.  ‘And the same night He was betrayed, He took bread, and after He had given thanks, He broke the bread…’ Wouldn’t you know? In the sun-filled blue skied day, the truth of Jesus’ actions broke through my mind…instead of dwelling on one more bad thing-I decided to cut the blooms from the broken branch and make something of it! I’m so thankful I did! IMG_3105

Just look at the planter shaped like a woman’s head! She’s surely grateful  for the glorious flower-dy hat she’s wearing! Turns out the broken branch isn’t a mortal wound… Life does go on, bright blue skies mingle among the cloudy days- enjoy what you can and when you think of it? Give thanks to God… He will always love you! Have a blessed Lord’s Day!

Love y’all, Camellia

p.s. Be honest now, you’re humming Dolly Parton’s tune aren’t you?

Christmas Bride…

‘In her soul- a woman never forgets a man who has occupied her heart so many years’                                                                                                                Author Unknown

I met him when I was a freshman at the University of Alabama. His date was beautiful, mine wasn’t exactly Prince Charming. I looked across the room and saw him, there was a knowing. I went back to my dorm and told my roommate and two other friends that I believed I had met the man I was going to marry.  It was a turbulent time, my cousin had died in Vietnam the previous summer just three days after his arrival;  yet on that beautiful Tuscaloosa campus there were protests against the Viet Nam war. And I had met a brown eyed handsome man, who was a gentleman, clean cut and the most decent person I had ever met. He still is. I felt calm when I was with him. I still do. Our first date was on Valentine’s Day, 1970. He loaded his old car with my friends and took us anywhere we wanted to go. He still prefers old cars to new ones, gets sentimental amount them. I appreciate this now that I’m an older model myself. He was athletic, had been All County in Football and Baseball, he was in a Tank Unit in the Alabama National Guard and went on to become a paratrooper Special Forces Green Beret. He was unpretentious, and even after a lifetime of achievements- he still is. His favorite TV Show was Andy Griffith, it still is. He liked Country and Classical, I liked Motown and Soul music. His Chet Atkins’ style guitar-playing won me over. I still love the songs he played back then- Silver Wings, Long Black Limousine, Miller’s Cave and Windy and Warm. When he finally got that Country Gentleman Gretsch™ Guitar, like Chet’s it sounded even better!

He made me laugh with his  dry sense of humor, like the time I asked him-

  • ‘Do these shoes look funny?’
  • ‘Well, they’re not hilarious.’

We married ten months after we met. I was a Christmas Bride.2014-12-11 16.50.53

We were told we would never have children, for eight years we didn’t. Then just 21 months apart, we had two delightful baby girls. This Christmas Bride found out we were expecting, not once but twice, just days before Christmas! We would never get over our miracle babies. We’ve enjoyed every minute of being their parents. Given the chance we would do it all over again. Our children are the joy of our lives. They have made us better people. During these many years, we have known-

  • better and worse,
  • richer and poorer,
  • sickness and health
  • yet we have never forsaken each other.

Those vows I made as a Christmas Bride were easy to keep because of the man I married. He has made my life richer in so many ways and through so many folks we have known. Our life has been full of rich experiences. Everyday he still makes me laugh and every single day he brings music into our home. img_0512

I have embraced his deepest beliefs as my own- Don’t Mistreat People. Do What You Can to Help. Pay your respects. Never forget the folks who helped us. Be there. He’s better at it than I am-but I know this to be true:

We honor our vows when we honor those beliefs.

This man has occupied my heart for  many years; I became his Christmas Bride on the twelfth day of December. Dare I say it? Young Love is sweet but Old Love is best.

Take it away Chet! And Happy Anniversary Darlin’, Camellia

 

Autumn leaves…

Autumn leaves, in all their glory are among life’s most beautiful displays. Fall has nearly come and gone here, it’s been so dry, the leaves have mostly curled up and died without bothering to show much color- it’s made me melancholy. Roger Williams’ playing the classic ‘Autumn Leaves’ is a melancholy song…it’s about a man whose girlfriend has left him; its about a man who misses her; and he misses his darlin’ most of all when ..‘Autumn leaves start to fall…’ Well, I have a few tips for Roger, but first I’ll let you listen to this vintage version- Roger, darlin’ take it away…

It’s my personal opinion that if Roger Williams had ditched that Leisure Suit- his darlin’ might have stayed. She probably said ‘Roger, bless your heart- you play that piano jus’ as good as anybody ah’ve evah heard, makin’ those trills sends chills up mah spine- but darlin’ my Momma would have a hissy fit if I brought home a big strappin’ man wearin’ a wild printed shirt and a white polyestah suit! And there’s just no tellin’ what mah Daddy would do…why that polyestah would get picked faster than a bale of cotton!

Roger Williams went on to have a brilliant career in music, made more money than they keep in the vault at Farmers and Merchants Bank. Chet Atkins went on to play a version her daddy liked better…but lordie mercy, we southern girls do have our standards

Love y’all, Camellia

Haunted Houses of Alabama?

Step inside if you dare…

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Alabama has always claimed to have some hauntings…Lord knows I’ve been some places that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck! So, just for fun, I scanned through some of Jeremy Miniard’s wonderful photographs of Alabama with ghosts, goblins, squeakin’ swings, creakin’gates, swingin’ doors or rundown chairs in mind! I found peeling paint, rusted out roofs and ominous clouds over old montrous mansions and scary broken down houses for some spooky and frightfully good fun! Enjoy!haunted-house-10

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                                                                                     Boo!

Don’t plan on going trick or treatin’ at these places! And make sure you have your face pot in plain sight to scare away the evil spirits! Camellia’s Cottage has one that seems to be working so far! imageBut there’s this fella playin’ his guitar upstairs- sounds like he’s singin’ Long Black Limosine…whew I’ve got the shivers …IMG_0596

Love y’all, Camellia

as always we are so thankful to our resident photographer, Jeremy Miniard- all the good photos are his- the face pot and the guitar picker photos are mine. Find Jeremy at www.jeremy.miniard.finartamerica.com  ‘Long Black Limosine’ is an old song by Bobby Bare- I have to admit it always makes me cry…

If…

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Such a little word…IF. Right in the middle of the word ‘Life’ is that tiny word – If… Part of the human experience uses the word- If… generally in a ‘looking back sort of way’. IF often stands for questioning regrets, the ‘what-if’s’ -the ‘if only’s’ which haunt us, disappointments with life and with God…

  • Lord, if You had been here…
  • Lord, if You had not allowed this.
  • Lord, if You loved us…

‘Help us Lord, to watch for that day, when our eyes see You. Give us that gift of faith, which believes when all else says impossible. While we are waiting for You to heal our broken hearts, to straighten out our paths- give us Light for an unsure future- let us see a shimmering glimmer of You. You know there are hidden places in our hearts where we just gave up. Help us renew our commitment to believe, until You reveal Your purposes in circumstances that puzzle us, in situations that are stubborn and have not changed in many years. Whenever we stumbled; whatever happened that made us stop believing; wherever the IF’s are in Life, wherever we were-whether by the grave or by the way, give to us the courage to lay down the IF’s; so that we might pick up our faith once more. In the Strong Name of Jesus Christ. Amen’


Trouble, regrets and storms are a part of life, I hope we won’t waste too much time using that ol’ word IF. Remember the old saying? ‘We can’t always control the wind, but we can adjust our sails’ as you listen to this beautiful meditative version of ‘Sails’ by Chet Atkins!https://youtu.be/TkVKPfEBoiE

Love y’all, Camellia

Top photograph- the Beautiful Sunset by our photographer friend -Jeremy Miniard. Prayer and Excerpt from Chapter 7- If is a Part of Life, page 48 of ‘Four Days-the Lazarus Principle’ by Brenda Wyatt- more information on ‘About Us’ page Bottom photograph by Tony Marlar for his YouTube video of ‘Sails’ by Chet Atkins