Friday, December 30, 2011

Foto Friday - A few Missions

Ya just gotta love being able to drive a few hours away from home on a mission . . .
and wind up at a Mission! Not just one, but several!!

One of the things I love about Texas is its diverse landscape where you can go from the canyons of the Texas panhandle in the Coastal Plains through the Mountains and basins and end up at the Gulf Coastal Plains. Of course that will take you an eternity of driving to get through it and in all the twenty years of
living here I have yet to have seen even a fraction of it!!
One of my favorite places we have been though is where the Spanish, during the 18th century, built a series of missions along the San Antonio river which later became the foundation they would use to build the city. And it's the largest group of missions in North America, each one with it's own gravity-fed irrigation system.

When I was in school I really, really, disliked history! And now I'm wishing I had paid a bit
more attention to it as I'm finding the history of people and their cultures fascinating. Just to roam about
where others have been, to stand where history was not only made but is still preserved today after more
than 250 years is just exciting! To open and walk through the very same doors, to stand on the very same ground of those that came before us, the ones that layed the foundation for where we are now makes me more aware of the connections we all share. The ones we make now that will affect the foundations we lay for the future, not just our own but for others. 

The first Mission we arrived at was the Mission Concepcion, the oldest unrestored stone church in America and probably because they chose to build it on a foundation of bedrock. Construction began in 1731 and took a little over 20 years to build. There are twin bell towers, outside walls that are 45" thick, and original frescoes that are over 250 years old that can be found in the sacristy. The outside of the mission, well most of the missions, had colorful geometric designs that are now no longer visible and have worn off and faded with time. I was a bit disappointed to not be able to get a full view of the front of this one as they had it blocked off for some reason.

This is part of a courtyard to a side entrance into the Sanctuary.

Next we made our way to the San Juan Mission. Again, the front was blocked off and and the church was closed possibly for repairs? I don't know much about this one other than it was a self-sustaining community where Indian artisans prepared hides and made tools and cloths. They also, outside the walls of the mission had orchards and gardens and in surrounding farmland raised sheep and cattle that allowed them to survive as long as they did in their later years.

Lastly, was the largest of the missions built on the banks of the San Antonio river. It was built only several miles from one of the most famous missions, The Alamo, and as an active parish they hold mass every Sunday. It's known as the "Queen of the Missions" for being the largest and most beautiful of the five missions.

We saw this mission 2 years ago, and it is just as remarkable seeing it for second time as it was the first. And this time as I am not shooting in automatic I was paying more a lot more attention to the light and shadows of things. In fact, it seemed to be another recurring *theme* and one I will share with you soon. ; )

Are these not the most magnificent set of doors, and that carving! I heard one of the park rangers say that
it's one of the finest carvings in all of Colonial North America. One of the reasons is because the stone found in the area is much more pliable and the carvers from Mexico were able to get quite creative in their designs elements. In the collage below is the famous "Rose Window", La Ventana de Rosa, and is found on the outside of the sacristy. On the right is the same window only looking out from the sacristy. The bottom left image is what is left of the colorful geometric patterns that would have been found on the entire exterior of the mission.

This is the breathtaking view through those beautifully carved front doors!

And through doors on the left at the front of the church, that say, "Blessed Sacrament Chapel, Respect and Silence", is the sacristy and where all the lite candles represent someones request for an answered prayer.

{shoot, edit, submit}

The bell tower, that sang every 15 minutes while we were there.

And remember the irrigation system I mentioned earlier? It's a 270 year old system and is what powers this grist mill that can grind up to 600-800 lbs of flour a day if it had to. It wasn't being operated this week, but I have been able to watch the flour fall into the bucket. Talk about technology that withstands the test of time. Makes ya wonder if we are really getting smarter doesn't it?

And this, this is the view as I turned and looked back as I walked to the enormous wooden doors that the park rangers were waiting at - waiting for me so they could close - yes as usual I was the last one out.
Do you ever just feel like ya didn't have enough time somewhere? I know I had been there before, but I just didn't feel like I was able to explore every nook and cranny and that perhaps I missed something.

In thinking about these missions, and how they have been preserved through history some over 250 years, I am reminded of how we all leave our mark or not on this world. Some of the very reason these missions have survived as long as they have is because they were built on solid foundation, on bedrock, but they weren't just built physically strong. They were also built on a spiritual foundation and with faith and not to build a palace but to build a community.

 So in reflecting and thinking about the new year ahead, I'm not starting over, I'm continuing. I'm continuing in that forward motion to hopefully build a foundation for what is to come in the future. Last year as I unpacked my bags in acceptance (here), it became the groundwork for my journey to discovery this year. 
I didn't do it on physical strength alone, but also with faith. And without even knowing it, we all share connections that are important in each other's journeys  - together we are building communities and just maybe someone will stand on the same ground that we have stood and ponder the same questions about those who have gone before them. I don't know about you but this gives me much to think about this next year. And I can't help but be a little excited about that!!

I look forward in this next year to continuing and making new connections.
Wishing you all a safe and Happy New Year!!

Love, Kim

Also sharing with Tuesday Around the World at Communal Global


Friday, December 23, 2011

Foto Friday - Just Two Days 'Til Christmas . . .

 . . . and all through the house
every creature was stirring, yes even the spouse!
Since we were out yesterday doing last minute shopping
 We found that the malls are still really hopping.
There were cars strung on streets hoping to get there
and some that forgot to use their manners with care.
We had filled our pockets with some of our cash
and knew it wouldn't take long before it was gone in a flash!
I was hoping to get a glimpse of that elusive St. Nick,
and as it turns out I'm just not that quick.
So I whistled and shouted and I called him by name
but all I heard back was, "Thanks just the same."
So off to the register like coursers we flew
with a cart full of stuff and a couple of coffees too.
This shopping thing is just so much work
 as the cashier looked over, he turned with a jerk
and on laying his fingers on the register keys
we knew he had done this before, he did it with ease!
He sprang into action and worked while he whistled
but we needed to dash away, as it was starting to drizzle.
And we heard him exclaim as we walked out of sight,
"Merry Christmas to you, have a good night!" 

This December,
That love weighs more than gold!

- Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon

Okay so maybe I'm not quite finished yet, because I got caught up with my camera?
last night I was playing and I asked my son for a paper plate and some aluminum foil, for what else,
a reflector of course! ; )
He walked into the dining room and said, "Ummm, WOW!"
Yes I had made an entire mess in my dining room all over the table, but I did have fun!

And Oh, Oh Christmas Tree, with each tiny light . . . yes, Monday I finally got the tree done!
I decided that the pre-lit 15 year old tree that was no longer lighting was going to have to wait til next year, so we brought out the smaller Charlie Brown tree. There is a reason why I love a pre-lit tree, wrapping lights is way too time consuming, but whew, it's done! The thought of turning around and taking it down in a week is haunting me!

Just about everything in my house at Christmas is adorned with some kind of bird or bird related objects - birds, nests, birdhouses - one of my fav's being the glass ornaments with clips! It makes it easy for them to travel around . . .

I don't know about you, but I do love going for a ride in the car in P.J's drinking my salted carmel mocha and taking pics of all the Christmas lights! Well, as a passenger that is - I'm always so sad when it's time for them to be put away!

As we were driving around we came across this pond with the refections of the trees and being as we were in the car and I couldn't use the tripod, I had to do my best to handhold this one at 1/6s   - yeah, that's tricky! I just had to go with the settings I had and I only got three shots before another car came along and the first two were a bit blurry. The street lights were an orange color and gave off this incredible light in the grass and in the sky. I'm kinda liking this picture!

{Shoot edit submit}

{linked with La-La's Home Daycare}

And what would Christmas be without some really big bokeh!

Now living on the Texas coast, snow is somewhat of a novelty and therefore there will be no Winter Wonderland, so that's when you just have to create your own!

One of my very favorite Christmas boxes to get out each year is that of my fairies - my Mark Roberts fairies!! He now has fairies for all occasions through the year. I think I've been collecting them for about 12 years now, although it's been about 5 years since I have bought one! Far too long...and now he even has elves and pixies, sigh!  I could just string them through my house if my budget allowed. This was my very first one, called the Anniversary fairy and one of his very early ones!! My fairies and birds get along quite nicely!

This one is part of the 12 Days of Christmas collection and because he is the smaller version (9" ornament) he doesn't come with all the accessories of the larger ones . . . He is the Four Calling Birds fairy, and it appears that his calling birds have gone calling somewhere else?

This is one of the larger fairies and I can't remember which one this is, but he loves flying from the chandelier! I met Mark Roberts a few years ago and he actually posed this one for me and signed him along with some of my other ones.  

And this is the Christmas Dreams fairy . . . 

He looks a bit too small to be carrying my Christmas dream of a new lens and from his expression I think I'll have to wait 'til next year!

And this, this is my Sugar Plum Fairy, and he takes his job very seriously!  I PROMISE I'm making cookies tomorrow, REALLY, and just in time for Santa! Of course at our house Santa does love his CHEESE . . .

Of course with all the Christmas shopping, there is one thing we need to remember:
The best Christmas present we can give and the one I think we all want in return- to love and accept one another as we are! It's free, doesn't need wrapping, it's something that multiplies when we give it away, but yet it seems to be one of the most difficult to do? Perhaps if we didn't attach so many strings we wouldn't get so tangled up in it!

So to be on the safe side, I'm not attaching any ribbons or bows on the presents this year!

From my house to yours, I wish you a very Merry Christmas!!
Love to you all,


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Scavenger Hunt Sunday

I'm kinda in a little disbelief that Christmas is a week from today!

Ummmm, NOT ready.....and you?

I feel like I've been a day late and a dollar short these last few weeks,
so I'm looking forward to the Christmas break and some extra sleep.

Okay, onward to what I found by the seat of my pants once again!

1. What is it? Yes it is something to eat.....I'll keep you guessing for just a bit!

2. Children/furbabies sleeping: You just don't photograph teenagers sleeping if you know what's good for you, and my furbaby was not very cooperative.  He didn't want to sleep when I had my camera, just too curious!

3. Joy: Lately my simple joy has been a salted carmel mocha and I drank it there today, at Starbuck's in one of their white mugs so that I could enjoy every lovely whipped creamy, caramely, salty goodness and with a spoon before it all melted and fell to the bottom.

4. Window: This week I went with a friend to an appointment, and then to lunch. In order to pay for parking we had to go inside the mall and lucky for me I took a shot of this store window while waiting 'cause I sure wasn't thinking about the prompts at the time. 

5. Half:  Okay, remember the first one - What is it? Well, here is half of it! A cranberry bliss bar, and I might add, it took some willpower to stop half way and photographic it.

Hopefully I will be a bit more creative and inspired with a little rest!

Don't forget to check out the other scavenger hunts over at Ashleys,
you won't be sorry!!

Love, Kim

Friday, December 16, 2011

A journey that started . . . one year ago today

One year ago today, I came across this quote:

“Too many of us wait to do the perfect thing, with the result we do nothing. The way to get ahead is to start now. While many of us are waiting until conditions are ‘just right’ before we go ahead, others are stumbling along, fortunately ignorant of the dangers that beset them. By the time we are, in our superior wisdom, decided to make a start, we discover that those who have gone fearlessly on before, have, in their blundering way, traveled a considerable distance. If you start now, you will know a lot next year that you don’t know now, and that you will not know next year, if you wait.”
~The William Feather Magazine 

After reading this, I immediately went to the blog URL address that I had set up 8 months previously and wrote my first blog post and hit publish. Yes, it was a new adventure and a little scary, but one that had been put on my heart. I had no expectations and wasn't sure where it would lead me but I was excited to know what I might not have known had I not started. I had no idea it would lead me here to all of you, the ones who come week after week to join me in my journey through life, and this journal I call Picking Poppies. I had no idea that I would make some of the connections that I have and I have been humbled by many of you who have let me know how much you enjoy what I share - it drives my inspiration - and for that I thank you.

It turns out that in this last year my camera has taught me things. Things I didn't know, things I knew but had forgotten, and most of all it helped me to think about things in a way I had never thought of before. My camera slowed me down so that I was able to hear the whispers of my heart and has been an instrumental tool in self discovery, understanding and thought about ordinary things in life that also created reflection about their meaning. No, I didn't solve any world problems, heck I didn't even solve any of my own but I did discover some things along the way and when I paused long enough I found lessons about life that are everywhere for us to learn. All we need to do is to open our eyes to all the things around us, the things that all too often we look at but do not see.

One of the things that I have always known is that there is magnificent beauty in nature, but not just in the seeing of it. My camera has brought even more attention to the delicacy of how it all works together. If you have been with me on this journey for any length of time it won't be a surprise that one of my favorite places to be is the beach. It's the place where my worries wash away with the tide and the secrets of my soul are revealed. It's also where a child paid me one of the greatest compliments when he asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up! And even though I told him I didn't know, it was then that I realized that the moment I cease to be amazed at the wonders of this world and forget the child inside will be the day I grew up too much!

One day while out in Galveston, clicking away, I realized I had a repeating theme in those photos. Almost all of them were of some kind of fence and it got me to thinking about the boundaries they keep that at times can sometimes be comforting. But I also realized that some of those fences that I find along my journey I put up myself, ones that have neither an entrance or an exit, and how I am trying to find the courage to jump them despite it.

And then there were doors, which can be tricky things. Doors prompted me to think about opportunities in life, those I've passed up, those I have ignored, and those I feel are impossible. When it comes to doors I often don't read the enter and exit signs very well but because of God's grace he continues to grant me more opportunities to walk through open doors, which for some reason is difficult for me.

 After being at the beach one day and looking back at those photos I again had an unintended theme. Nearly every photo from that day was of a bird in flight. There was yet another lesson but this time it was about wings. As I thought about wings and flying, God was reminding me that he has gifted each one of us with our own unique set of wings. Ones so unique that we are the only ones that can use them and that no one can do it for us. But the only way to know how to use them is to just jump off the ledge, knowing He will mend them should we fall.

This last year I have learned even more about the importance of being still in a busy life. That couldn't have been more evident as I looked back though each post. Starting about September when school started I had less thoughtful posts and I'm sure it was directly connected to the increase in my busyness. I don't thrive on being busy and the older I get the more stillness I enjoy. It allows me to better recognize my blessings so that I can truly receive them and that is not a gift I want to give up lightly.

Well, I guess I had to find somewhere to end this since I could just keep writing, as this is really only a handful of things that stood out to me as I went back through a years worth of posts. And until right this very moment I really wasn't sure why it was these particular things that I chose. But like everything else this year, I guess this too was a lesson for me. And to be really honest, I'm in tears right now because even though I don't always believe in myself, I see that God does and He never gives up on me. I just realized that with the posts I chose from this last year, Keeping Boundaries, Who's There, Taking flight and A Still Moment in a Busy Life,  that He is trying to tell me something. I think He is asking me to be still enough to recognize which door(s) to walk fly through, using the wings he gave me to soar above the boundaries I put in my own way.

Continuing in a forward motion is important, even though I may be stumbling and I need to use the wings
He gave me to get there wherever that may be. And it's in my looking back that I see the distance I have traveled and by not standing where I have always stood, things are starting to look different.

From my heart to yours, thank you for picking poppies with me!

Love, Kim

P.S. What do you know now that you didn't know last year?
Is there something that helped you see differently?
Please share!

P.S.S. You're a rock star if you read this whole thing!! ; )


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Picking Poppies . . . what's behind the name

"Picking Poppies", it has absolutely nothing to do with flowers,
and everything to do with picking . . .  weeds that is.

You see,
I knew someone who was very generous, and
not just because he gave often, but because he gave so much of what he had.
Who grew rhubarb in his garden,
 which was that one thing he would always want to show you when you came to visit.
 Yes, he was proud of that rhubarb.
And speaking of visits,
for as long as I can remember he had one every afternoon from a duck
and when he was tired, he would put his head in his pocket and fall asleep.
It was not unusual to find this someone in a white tank top, with his pants rolled up,
some leather driving slippers and his sailor hat.
Oh yes, I can't forget his white socks of course!
And you would, while you were visiting, most often find him in his yard
with a bucket and his dibble
and that is where we had some of our best conversations . . . picking weeds.
This someone loved me,
and I loved him back.
He was my grandfather . . . I called him Poppy.

I'm pretty sure he would be tickled to know that I named my blog after him, and even more so
at the technology of digital photography. I'm not sure how old he is in this photo, but isn't
he a handsome guy!  I miss you to the moon and back!!

Love, Kim

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