Monday, December 26, 2005

More Christmas Lights Adventures

Add to the previous blog, the fact that this time I got to go see the Holland Michigan Lights again with my dear friend and family, Lil Koning and her husband Phil. Phil's secretary lives on a street where everyone goes all out for Christmas, and this time the neighbors out did themselves. It is always a lot of fun to go see these lights with the Konings. To the beauty of the lights, I also got to see beautiful snow falling everywhere and to enjoy seeing Rosita and Kendall. We got to play mancala and monopoly, and was there competition! When I get back to Florida I will post the fun pictures of everyone playing.

I flew into Calgary Alberta Canada on Tuesday the 20th and didn't get into Brooks until one o'clock at night, though it felt like 3 o'clock Florida time. Ana-Elba, my daughter drove the whole way and I only started falling asleep when we were 16 kilometers out of Brooks. I held out, but I really had to struggle. The next morning I saw my two granddaughters who were very glad to see Grandma. Some of the best times here have included making cookies today, going to the candlelight service on Christmas Eve, followed by opening gifts, and enjoying the glee of the two girls as they opened each present. Then on the 25th in the evening, after a delicious turkey dinner, we went out to see the lights. Chris my son in law, had both girls looking out of their side of the car and referred to the lights according to whose side they were. So naturally they kept track and there were so many of them. You mostly could hear Zanneke mentioning the colors, "mine blue, or mine green(stretching out each word), that my side", while Arwen mostly enjoyed the sights or both laughed with the sight of a Santa on the roof, going down a chimney, or deer, or glittering sparkling snowflakes, or a huge inflated polar bear with a blue cap on or a small santa next to a large one, even a snow bowl full of snowmen. The fun was in the journey. Even the most beautiful lights could not compare to the joy of seeing them enjoy so many people celebrating Christmas. Last night's Christmas lights are one more for my list. Christmas lights with the Arwen and Zanneke, "mine blue, mine green, that my side!"

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas Lights

One of my favorite things to do during the Christmas season is to go see Christmas lights. Last week, my friend Cassandra and I went to Mt. Dora to see the lights. We took pictures but they do not do the displays any honor.

When I think of all the arrangements I have seen, I don't know if it is the lights themselves or the originality of their arrangements that amazes me. I don't claim to be so creative or extravagant with my own Christmas lights but I don't stop marveling over the arrangements some people go to great lengths to put up. Some of my favorite Christmas light aren't even in Florida, though some are. I thought I would make a list, but not necessarily in order of importance:

1. Composite lights in the apartment buildings off el Expreso Las Americas, blinking on and off, on almost every apartment for at least 20 stories. Some of these apartments didn't even have curtains but they most certainly had money for lights, arranged like triangles for a tree, others like a big star of David, for the star of Bethlehem, or a simple string zig zagged to the metal bars of a balcony. So as you drove past at 50 miles per hour, you had to be careful not to look to closely or you could crash.

2. Another memory that stands out was when on a Christmas vacation to Holland MI I went to see lights with Lil Koning, Rosita's mom in law. On our drive through town we stumbled upon a marvelous display of lights outside in the suburbs. About 3 or 4 neighbors decorated their houses and front lawns with deer, mangers, carolers, sleighs, and actual music being piped out into the air. Wow! Terrific!

3. My next memory is of hundreds of Christmas lights strung across one side of the street to the other in Old San Juan at about 50 foot intervals all the way up and down all the old cobblestone streets. These white lights looking more like diadems highlighted the red poinsettias in the Spanish balconies of the old city. Now that is beautiful.

4. Once in Old San Juan you had to view the Christmas arrangements at Gonzalez Padin store front in Old San Juan, in front of the Alcaldia, or City Hall. What a tradition that was! In fact, some one seems to still decorate the "vitrina" or store front, just to keep up with the tradition, in spite of the fact the store has long been closed. Around the corner was the Departamento del Estado with its huge green wreaths with enormous red bows. It was a customary and mandatory ritual to go see the Three Kings in front of the Capitolio and then the lights in Old San Juan, at least once during the Christmas holidays. Christmas wasn't Christmas without that drive.

5. Now that I am in Central Florida, I still enjoy, Christmas lights and there are no better ones than the display put up by the quaint town of Mt. Dora. They decorate the whole town square, with a colorful display which includes about 15 lit trees from top to bottom, as well as, a horse and buggy, Santa and his sleigh, and other secular delights. The rest of the town gets into the act with even the marina area all dressed up in lights and as well as the surrounding lake front properties having their individual docks all lit up, too. It is quite a sight.

6. Another favorite and I think the most harmonious display, has always been at El Monte Apartments in Rio Piedras. These neighbors would get together and design a unified design which would span the entire height and width of these two enormous curved buildings. The designs varied year to year, one year it was The Giant Three Kings bearing gifts for Jesus, another time huge red pascuas or poinsetta, A guitar and maracas y guiros, or a manger scene.

7. But you know, as I look back, my favorite lights were the ones on my tree as I would turn off the lights in the house and lay down on the floor with my children and look up into my Christmas tree with my three little ones lying right next to me, on the cool terrazo floor in Valle Escondido enjoying and loving each other and the wonder of the moment usually singing Silent Night acapella.

So now, go ahead, kick back, and recall your favorite Christmas lights. Making a big deal about Jesus' birth is a good thing. Let your lights shine and honor him.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Much a do about Nothing, well about something...

So I got a wisdom tooth removed today. I don't know about you but whenever I hear the word operation and me in the same sentence, it does not conjure happy thoughts. In fact, I have sort of dreaded the idea of having this wisdom tooth removed. Of course, I have heard the stories, the swollen faces, the fact that you have to restrict your food intake, the mishaps and side effects of anesthesia. So this morning of course I was little apprehensive, but praise God, everything went well. I went to the doctor with my good friend Maria. God bless her, she had to pick me up at 7:00 am. In fact, they wouldn't even admit me if she wasn't there. Unfortunately, when I went in she went out to a produce store in the strip mall. At first, the nurses didn't notice anything but when she came back they were not in the least happy about her leaving and let her know it. They expected her to have stayed there in case I had had a problem. Fortunately, nothing happened.The first thing they did was give me some laughing gas and then they started an IV and the doctor came in and said hello, and the next thing I knew they were asking me to move to the next room. I was bit groggy then but was able to move without being dizzy or falling. I didn't feel a thing and the tooth apparently came out easily, thank God. The first couple of hours were the worst, but I have been taking my pain medicine dutifully although in half size portions, and applying ice and looks like I might even be able to go to work tomorrow. Of course, it all depends if the swelling goes down. You know how the song goes,"You're (I) so vain..... and " I am just a little, I have to admit.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Fall Colors from an automobile!

As I was driving home, I had to stop several times to take in these breathtaking views of the trees changing colors in Georgia. The following pictures were taken in the Oconee National Forest, near Bishop, GA. Enjoy! Cut those Cables!

Rolling Hills

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Reds, Greens, Yellows together

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Peek a Boo Oranges

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Flaming Reds

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Brilliant Yellows

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The Wedding Party

This was a video shot originally. So if it isn't very clear that is why. Posted by Picasa

Picture taking time!

Did you ever see so many grooms men? Posted by Picasa

Danny, Lynda, and Lydia

We had so much fun at the wedding and don't their smiles just confirm it! Posted by Picasa

Mr. Mairn

Jen's dad gave a toast and wish the couple much happiness, and also that he was happy to have Roman join his family and that this wedding sealed the weddings in his household and that the Hammes had at least five more to go! Posted by Picasa

Burke sharing his thoughts

After Jen's dad, Mr. Mairn, gave a toast, Burke also spoke a few words to wish the new couple, much happiness and in a couple of year many grandchildren. Posted by Picasa

Burke and Ruth-Anne

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Rutledge and Jen

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Georgia on my mind...

This weekend I went to Athens GA for a wedding and like the last one, it was a well thought out event full of fun and friends. Glad I drove the distance. It was worth it!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Lobby at Ft. Wilderness Lodge

The moment we stepped into the Lodge's lobby, we were greeted by Stan, a very knowledgeable gentleman. He seemed to know all the ins and outs of the hotel. First he informed us that the interior wood was brought from Oregon by truckload, and none of the wood was live but standing deadwood. A gifted woodcarver was engaged and did all the wood carvings in the lobby, which included a wolf howling at the moon, elk, beavers, bears, and deer, among others. Notice the beautiful teepees used as lamp shades. It was impressive to say the least! Posted by Picasa

The Fireplace

At Ft. Wilderness they do every thing in style. Notice the size of this fireplace with its very elaborate ironwork. The big open lobby was full of authentic indian crafts from the Blackfeet and other tribes. The crafts made it feel historic though many other things were replicas from the Old West. Posted by Picasa

Goofy Totem Pole

I know my granddaughters would get a kick out of going here and seeing this totem pole! So here's grandma! Posted by Picasa

Ft. Wilderness Lodge

Now doesn't that look like Montana? Well guess what, it ain't! It's Ft. Wilderness Lodge in Disneyland. After getting lost at least three times trying to get there, we finally found this well hidden hotel which is an attraction all by itself. As if we hadn't already been manhandled the night before we decided that we were ready for more punishment. Not that the Lodge was unwelcoming, but we went to a restaurant there that is designed more for woodsmen that ladies, but again, it was all done in jest. This time I was the target and our waitress MT, short for More Trouble, made us laugh like crazy! Posted by Picasa

A Night at Capone's Dinner Theatre

Last weekend, Lydia came down with her momma, Mrs. Glover, and good friend Betty and we all went out on the town to a dinner theatre. Here we are with infamous Vinny, our waiter, who was a riot. He waited for Betty to go get seconds and then yelled in a gruff voice, "Hey, you, Betty, ya through with this chicken?, Huh?," like a true gangster. In this pose again true to his part, he was pointing the gun at me, but alas, I control the crop, and the gun is gone! The show was funny, full of dance and song reminisent of Chicago in the 40's. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Learning to Read bills and other Blessings

Today has been a terrific day! Complicated but blessed. There are some power struggles going on at work and God is fighting my battles. Things are looking up. Anyway, I got a real pleasant surprise today. I do not know if I told you but I was in the hospital a time back and when I got out of the hospital I almost got a heart attack when I saw the bill for $3,106.80. I said, " Oh my God, how am I going to pay for this?" I will have to go deeper in debt. I was commenting to a friend about it today, but was saying I really needed that hospital stay for many reasons, not the least of which was to get my blood pressure under control and the other to gain a better perspective about what is important in life. Whoooaaa deep. Well, not so deep, but just a little glimpse of what is important. I am laughing as I write this because I am not deep, okay! I know that, and you know that but.... family, friends, eternity, laughter, love, joy, and peace with God and others. Chill a little, laugh more, enjoy my granddaughters and the thrill of getting to hear and converse with my precious children, and talk to my momma. And hand over my cares to God. Not let the cares of this world make me unfruitful. We all have to live on this earth and walk a fine line. We were never told we wouldn't have problems but putting them where they belong and responding to people in the right way can make a big difference.

So about my debt... I was worried about it and I prayed about it. God said, I got it. I am your provider. Yahweh Jirah, my provider. So I worried about it anyway, me of little faith, and I started to get calls from the hospital the day before yesterday, yesterday, and today when I came home I had two more calls. So I mustered all my courage and called the hospital to inquire about the calls and the bill. Turns out the calls had nothing to do withThe Bill. They were to preregister me for some tests that are coming up...relief, whewf... then I called back to inquire about The Huge Bill. Well guess what? The insurance covered almost everything except for $270.21. Less than one tenth of the original bill. I almost started crying jumping and praising God all at the same time. Of course I paid the bill with joy right on the spot (by phone). The guy must have thought I was a little crazy.

Grateful is what it was. Grateful. Thank you Lord.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hurricane Wilma

Frankly in Orlando, Wilma was a lot of wind, pelting rain, and frightening tornadoes. Fortunately, none of these tornadoes hit my neighborhood, but they were south, west and east of here. Unfortunately, a lot of homes got flooded, but again south or east of where I live, so I am counting my blessings. I had electricity, water, and internet service during the storm, but yesterday afternoon after it was all over, my internet service went down and with it my new Vonage telephone service, so I was somewhat incomunicado. I got the service back an hour ago so welcome back world! Got to run, its almost midnight! Oh with the hurricane, we got a cold blast from the north and it is a chilly 45 degrees outside. Can you believe it?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Here's Annie now

With one of her precious daughters, Arwen, with a big smile on her face! Typical, isn't that wonderful. Happy birthday again! Posted by Picasa

A little older now

Our lives have changed so much but life is good. Annie is very active at church with the youth group. She has really close friends Christina Melendez, Coppelia Gandara, and Carmen Rivera. They are constant sleepovers and outings. Here we all went to Old San Juan for the Regatta which was the 500th year celebration of the Discovery of America. Posted by Picasa


When you were 12 you told me that you were already a teenager, since you were 12 + months...who could deny that! Posted by Picasa

A cheerleader for Cupey Maria Montessori

Now what did you do to earn that ribbon? Posted by Picasa

Learning to walk

We are in the backyard in FairView. Almost a year old. Posted by Picasa

All together now

Here Annie is getting ready for her kindergarten graduation! She is a big sister to Rosita. Posted by Picasa

My favorite picture

Today is Annie birthday and she is 29 years old. Happy Birthday! In your honor I am doing a picture diary showing you growing up. Here we are when you were only a couple of months. God was very good to us. Posted by Picasa

At Boqueron

This was our second outing to a beach but this time we stayed for a weekend at the Boqueron Balneario. We had an awesome time collecting shells, walking the beach. Pictured from left to right are Sarita, Annie, myself, Michelle, Mami behind me, Nana y Tito (que en paz descansen) enjoying each others company. Papi Jean took the picture. Posted by Picasa