Welcome to JOYFUL REFLECTIONS. Also welcome to JULY!!!! Our Lilies are blooming now... So gorgeous!!! Here is one of my many favorites! Meet DIZZY.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Our Home --Season by Season

I love going back through old pictures...  Needless to say,  I have ALOT more now than I used to!!!!! (Maybe that is a good thing that I didn't have so many old pictures to go through!!!! I have too many to go through now.. Ha).... Anyhow---I wanted to show you our little home in different seasons.   One thing which I absolutely love about Tennessee is that we get all four seasons --but we don't get the extreme heat nor the extreme cold...It's no wonder why so many people retire here.  We are also 2000 feet UP --on the Cumberland Plateau,  so that is nice (especially when the temperatures in Knoxville and Nashville are in the 90's and we are only in the 80's).   Seems like the best of all worlds,  don't you think????

Anyhow here are four pictures of our home in all four seasons.  I'll begin with Summer of last year (August) which is pictured above.  As you can tell,  there's not a huge amount of color around although the roses still bloom until frost.

Here is a picture of Fall  (taken last Fall)--and the gorgeous colors we get up here.  It's a beautiful time of the year and a busy one for me --since I am in charge of raking and blowing tons and tons of leaves!!!

Here's a picture of late Fall/early Winter ---after the leaves were gone (almost)... I do have to rake and blow many times before they ALL come down.  As you can see (since the roses are still blooming),  we haven't had a frost yet.

I just have to show you my all-time favorite Christmas Snow picture --taken last year in December.  I've shown this before (the others also I'm sure) --but this one makes me say "AH" each time I see it...

We didn't get too much snow last year --but what we got all came at the end of December and beginning of January.  It was a hard winter for most --but we've had worse!!!!  One way I know that is because our Fall Pansies made it through the winter and are still blooming and showing off NOW.

And now--we are to Spring of 2011.  Since we've had lots of rain the past couple of months,  our yard and flowers have really put on a show for us.

NOW---check this out!!!  This was our yard in 2006.  (Compare it with the picture above.) There were no roses yet in the front and no big road flowerbed.  We did have the 3 little round beds by then --and we had our big side flowerbed (which is where we had roses planted at that time).  The roses struggled on the side because there's just not enough sun there... So-- George started moving them to the front in 2007... This year we have over 57 different rose bushes.

Finally, here's one of the first pictures we took of the outside of our 'new' home... OH--how much we loved it.  You can see me (this was in Fall of 1992)  inviting everyone to come in!!!!!  The little elderly couple who had lived in this house since it was built in 1985 was having to move to Arizona to be with their daughter.  The husband had had a stroke and the wife just couldn't take care of him by herself.  They were the sweetest couple--but were NOT yard people.  I think they had a lawn service to mow it --but that was about all they did.

We didn't actually move in until June of 2003--after I retired... George continued to work until 2006---so we didn't begin too much yard work until about 2005-06.  Since then,  we have stayed very busy.. It's WORK ---but oh how wonderful the results are to one's soul and heart once those little buds pop up out of the ground/dirt... AND then to give us the blooms they do----well,  you know how fabulous that is!!!!!


Monday, May 30, 2011

May Backyard Birds

Above is a RED-HEADED WOODPECKER.  To me,  this is one of the prettiest woodpeckers we have (although all of them are pretty).  I love these woodpeckers and they only come to the suet feeder in the Spring/Summer.  Last year,  they brought one of their little ones to the feeder.  Hope they do the same thing this year.  Right now,  we only have two (I think):  a male and a female.  The two of them look almost identical --but the female is a little smaller.  Below are more pictures.

Here's a picture showing Mr. Red-Headed's underside...  Like all woodpeckers,  they can eat from all kinds of positions and angles!!!! ha

This is the female I think.   She is a little smaller than the one pictured above.  She seemed a little unsure as to how to get up to the suet feeder...

I love this picture when the Red-Headed Woodpecker was looking at me.... Sorry about the rusty clip in this picture and the top one above.  I have to use this heavy clip to keep the raccoons from stealing the entire trap. They cannot BUDGE this clip!!!!

I can never do a bird post without showing one of our PILEATED WOODPECKERS.  These birds come to the suet feeder 2-3 times a day most days...  I never tire of watching them.

And here is a close-up of Mr. Pileated.... Note his red mustache (which shows the difference in males and females)... Look at those big claws!!!!

This is a GRAY CATBIRD---which has been coming to the suet feeder quite a bit lately.  I only see one --and this is the first year I've had one regularly at the feeders.  They are Summer Visitors only (Breeding)--so hopefully,  he will bring his family to the feeder sometime.

Finally,   we have 2-3 MOURNING DOVES who come to our feeders regularly.  They love to jump up in the Plate Feeder ---and 'hog' it as their own!!!!!  But--they are pretty birds,  aren't they?

Hope you enjoyed seeing more of my Backyard Birds today!!!  Sorry that some of my pictures are a little blurry today... I was filming inside through glass and screen...

I do have some bad news to report...   Something happened to my baby Bluebirds. The Daddy is gone (was probably killed) and even though I see Mama around the nest,  there has been no activity in the nest in over a week.  SO--this weekend,  George and I looked into the nest.  There were 2 dead babies and 2 unhatched eggs.  I could have cried and cried.. There was no trauma --so I'm not sure what happened.  With Dad being gone,  maybe it was just too much for Mama Blue.  I have been VERY VERY sad over this.  Hopefully,  another family will come and occupy the nest.

Hope you have had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend.  God Bless all of those men and women who have fought  and are fighting for our freedom.



Friday, May 27, 2011

Bull Sluice on the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River

When we travel to and from the beach (Ocean Isle Beach in North Carolina),  we always stop to see some waterfalls (or something) along the way. Coming home this year,  we stopped by Biltmore House and Gardens.  SO--going to the beach,  we stopped near Clayton, GA to see BULL SLUICE.

Waterfall purists may scoff at Bull Sluice being included in a guide listing waterfalls, but this Class V Whitewater Rapid is a textbook definition of falling water.  Tons of frothing,  aerated water explode over this drop each minute,  producing an audible roar far downstream.

Bull Sluice may be approached on either the South Carolina side or the Georgia side of the Chattooga River.  We went to the South Carolina side and walked down a path to the observation deck.   While there,  we got to see several kayakers negotiate the sluice.  There were also some whitewater rafts --but we didn't get to the overlook in time to get pictures of them.   Above and below are some pictures we took while there (April 30).

This close-up picture, and the one at the top of the blog, show Bull Sluice.  They were taken from the overlook.   There was ALOT of water there!!!

I love this picture of George ---as he took pictures from our overlook.

Here comes some of the kayakers... See them?

Here he comes over the top!!!   Get a good breath!!   WHEW!!!!

OOPS... Where did he go????  I see the oar!!!!!! ha

WELL--luckily,  all of this group made it!!!!  Now they can float down to the sandy beach and get some 'rays'....

We had a great time at Bull Sluice --and enjoyed watching the kayakers...

Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  Any big plans to celebrate this weekend?  We will be home --so I will post a blog on Monday.  Whatever you do,  have a good weekend.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Another Branch of My Family: the HOGE Family

This Family History search just keeps GROWING.   Today,  I'll explore a little of another side of my family,  the HOGE side.  My 2Great Grandmother was Margaret Anderson Hoge  (1825-1870).  She was married to my 2Great Grandfather,  Joshua Henderson Bruce (1825-1904).  They lived in Virginia --and are both buried in the Bruce Cemetery in Bland County, Virginia.  They had 7 children.

I have done alot of research on the Bruce side--but am just now getting started on the HOGE side.  Margaret Anderson Hoge's parents (my 3 Great Grandparent Hoges) were Daniel Hoge (1785-1857) and Nancy Ann Stafford (1783-1853).  They also lived in Virginia,  and are buried at the Hoge Cemetery in Wise, VA.  Besides Margaret Anderson,  there were 7 other children in the family.  (Another note of interest:  One of Margaret Anderson Hoge's sisters married a Bruce relative of mine,  Harvey Chesney Bruce. Her name was Susan Hoge.  Confused yet???ha)

Daniel Hoge's parents  (my 4 Great Grandparent Hoges) were James Hoge (1742-1812) and Elizabeth Howe (1750-1809).  Here's a story about James. Besides James,  there were 10 other children in the family.   I read that James went in search of one of his brothers, John, and ended up near Pulaski, VA.  His new found friend in Pulaski was Major Joseph Howe, an English gentlemen.  James fell in love with Major Howe's daughter,  Elizabeth, married her in 1763 and made his home near the residence of his father-in-law.  This home is the old southwest Virginia homestead later owned by Lt. Gov. James Hoge Tyler,  a great grandson of James.   I have tried to find a picture of that old homestead --but so far, no luck. I may need to make a trip to Pulaski, VA.

NOTE:  Added photo in October, 2012...  A long-lost cousin read my blog and sent a picture of the old homestead in Pulaski, VA.   This beautiful home is named Belle Hampton.  Thanks, Michael Gillman, for sending me this photo.

NOW--I'm going to stray off-course a little for some more interesting information.  Daniel Hoge had a brother named GEN. JAMES HOGE (1783-1861).   James married Eleanor Haven Howe,  his cousin. James Hoge was a distinguished officer in the War of 1812,  and was a Presidential candidate FIVE times.

James and Eleanor had 5 children.  One of them was Eliza (1815-1846).  Eliza married George Tyler (1817-1889) and they had one son,  JAMES HOGE TYLER (1846-1925).   Eliza died right after James' birth,  so James was raised by his maternal grandparents,  Gen. James Hoge and Eleanor Howe.

About 1862,  at the age of 16,  James enlisted in the Army of the Confederate States of America and served as a private until the end of the Civil War --RATHER than accept a commission as an officer and be separated from his friends.

James Hoge Tyler married Sue Hammet in 1868.They had 8 children. James was a devout Presbyterian and very involved in the church.  He was a member of the Board of Trustees of Hampden-Sydney College, the Union Theological Seminary, and the Synodical Orphans Home at Lynchburg.

JAMES HOGE TYLER was the Lt. Gov. of VA from 1890 to 1894, and was the 43rd Governor of Virginia from 1898-1902.    I am truly honored to say that a member of my family was once the Governor of Virginia.   How 'bout that????

I know that these Family History blogs can be pretty boring to any of you who don't appreciate Genealogy...  BUT--you would be surprised how many times I find a long-lost cousin who has 'googled' one of these names on the internet --and my blog pops up. That's why it is important for me to do this.  I hope I hear from some of the HOGE family.


ALL PICTURES in this post came from the Internet.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Jeff's Bird Pictures

When my son, Jeff,  visited us on the 15th,  my backyard birds put on a show for him.  He was able to get some great pictures with his camera and long lens.  Above is a picture of a BABY Male NORTHERN CARDINAL.   We have two young ones who frequent the deck  looking for some food.  Isn't this little guy adorable?  (One way to identify the young cardinals is by the color of their beaks.   Theirs is black, whereas adult cardinals have reddish/orange beaks.)

The PILEATED WOODPECKERS come to the suet feeders about twice a day.  I'm glad one came while Jeff was there.  He first captured the woodpecker on a nearby tree.

Here's a closeup of Mrs. PILEATED WOODPECKER.  (Note that there is no red whiskers --which the males have.)

The yellow GOLDFINCHES are so gorgeous this time of year.  Jeff got some great pictures,  didn't he?

Our little DOWNY WOODPECKERS are with us year-round.  They are such cute little woodpeckers--and definitely love suet.

Two larger birds which come to my deck these days are the Brown Thrashers and the BLUE JAYS.   Above is a picture of one of our noisy blue jays.  They are pretty birds --but certainly make alot of noise!!!!   (Those pink blossoms on the deck are the remains of some of the Rhododendron blooms.)

Finally,  here is one of Jeff's pictures taken when we were at Cumberland Mountain State Park the afternoon of the 15th.  He got a neat picture of a male NORTHERN CARDINAL  at the feeder there,  but look above his head....  Don't you just love this picture????

Hope you enjoyed Jeff's photos... (Thanks again, Honey, for visiting us.  We loved every minute of your visit.)

Have a wonderful day,  and thanks SO much to all of you who visited my blog post yesterday and said so many wonderful things to me.  That one was hard for me to write--but one which I needed to do.  If I can help one other person,  then it will be worth it.  So far,  I have had 56 comments PLUS 52 page views.  That means that 108 people read that blog post yesterday... Oh My Gosh!!!! Thanks again from the bottom of my heart.  I truly love all of you!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Truth about FORGIVENESS

Recently,  I looked at my blog stats.  Have you done that?  It's very interesting --and tells alot as to who is looking at our blogs and which posts they look at the most.  One post that I wrote in 2009 entitled "The Truth about Hugs" (click HERE) has had 5,439 views since I published it.  Another one I wrote only a month ago on Honesty (click HERE) has gotten 3,205 views already.  That just shocks me to know that so many people are reading our blogs.  They don't comment --so we don't know unless we look at the statistics.

Anyhow,  while thinking about those two titles,   there's another blog which I have been thinking about writing for quite a long time now.   BUT--since my blog title is "Joyful Reflections"--I try to keep most of my posts JOYFUL.  This topic which I have chosen today is a hard one  for most of us I'm sure.  We are all human and there are people in our lives which, for various reasons,  we have been estranged from or struggling with,  sometimes for years.  OR--life has changed all around us and we wonder how we can cope.  There is tension and stress and sometimes,  lots of bitterness.  In some cases,  things which have happened to us completely control us ---and take over our lives.

For over 25 years,  I worked for a church and did a fair amount of unofficial counseling.  I was a good listener --so people felt safe talking to me.  I also was not judgmental with others,  even though there were times when I had to work hard not to shake someone and just say:  "Get over it"....

Ninety percent of the time,  I was a help to others who sometimes just needed to talk. I heard many, many stories about family problems,  problems with relationships,  abuse--both physical and verbal,  death and bereavement,  along with who-knows what else!!!  The one thing I knew for sure when trying to help someone else is that no amount of words which I (or anyone else) could say would help unless that person is ready to make some different choices for him or herself.  It's like losing weight.  Nobody else can shame me into losing weight.  It only happens when "I" am ready to do something about it myself.

What nobody ever knew most of my adult life (while I was busy helping others)  was that I was sexually abused by a family member as a child.  It was bad enough for a child to go through that --but what was worse for me was the fact that when I confronted my mother with what was going on,  SHE didn't believe me.  I just had to move on ---and just ignore that it happened.  That is what I did for many, many years.  It affected me (through my weight problem) and it affected my relationships.  BUT--I was 'above' it ---and 'thought' that I was a BIGSHOT who didn't need any help getting over it.  HA.......

Finally,  about 1998,  a very good friend (he knows who he is) got me to talk about it --and helped me get counseling myself --for the first time in my life.  I was able to deal with it on a professional level, and learned alot about myself during those sessions.   YES---there are times when the bitterness rears its ugly head these days --but I am now doing fine.   (Of course,  it helps to have such a loving, supportive husband.)

Here are some things I have learned through my own experience and  by talking and listening to others all through the years:
-We cannot ignore situations which alter our lives.
-We need to be willing to admit that we need help.
-We need to do whatever necessary to get that professional help.
-We don't need to sit around and either feel guilty or feel sorry for ourselves.
-We don't need to allow hurtful situations to 'control' us and our lives.
-Sometimes,  all we need is TIME..  BUT--don't let that stop you from living.
-By ignoring a situation,  we allow it to grow and grow and turn into something worse than the situation itself.

And more importantly:
-We need to FORGIVE.   Most people think that by forgiving,  we are saying that what happened was okay... That is not true.  By forgiving,  we are saying that we no longer are going to allow the pain that they inflicted on us to control us.
-Forgive for YOURSELF--not for the other person(s).  You need to be able to forgive so that you can rid yourself of all of the baggage you have been carrying.
-You will never FORGET just because you forgive..   It happened --and it will always be there, inside of you.  But,  by forgiving, you can stand up and shout:  "I forgive so that I will no longer allow you to control me.  I am going to proudly get on with my life".

And the last thing which is also extremely important:
-You must LOVE yourself so that you are able to forgive and get on with your life.
-Love is the key.  I did not love myself for many years.  Now I DO--even with all of my craziness at times!!!!!

I didn't share my story to make you sad.  Mine is a SUCCESS story.  I did FORGIVE and even though all of my family are gone now,  I still love them ALL very, very much.

I have always enjoyed writing --but I never realized, when I first started blogging,  that I would be able to help others through my words... I hope that something I have said has made you THINK.   I am always here (email me) if you need to talk. God has blessed me.

Blessings to you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Gorgeous Rhododendron Blossoms--and More

Today I will share more pictures of our pretty yard this month.  Above is our big Rhododendron in the back yard next to the deck near the bird feeder area.  This Rhody is ALWAYS pretty this time of year --but this year,  like our Azaleas in front,  it has really put on a show.  (There are some advantages of lots of rain!!! Ha)

Here's a picture of the same Rhododendron taken from the yard --looking up at the huge bush.  We have two more Rhododendrons --one on either side of the large one.  For some reason,  one of them has never bloomed.  The other one is growing fast and trying to catch up with the big one.

Here's a close-up of one of the beautiful Rhododendron blooms.  SO pretty!!

When George and I bought this house,  we immediately looked for ground covers to add in certain areas of the yard where mowing is hard.   We chose the Periwinkle (which I have shown several times in blogs),  and we also chose some ENGLISH IVY.  Both are invasive --so you have to control where they go ---but once they are nice and thick,  they even take over all of the WEEDS....  We love that about them!!!!

Above you can see some of our ENGLISH IVY.  It is so pretty this time of year.  You can also see some little SIBERIAN IRISES (known by several names)  which were given to us by George's Dad several years ago.

Look at this flowerbed....Do you think the Lilies have taken over????? ha ha  (Can't wait 'til they bloom!!!)    Poor little Pansies are still trying to poke their little heads out---but the Lilies are 'in charge' in this bed.... ha

Here's a picture of our front yard showing those gorgeous Azaleas --and also some of our MANY blooming Roses.  If you look closely through the front storm door,  you can see part of the Rhododendron in the backyard...

Here's a close-up of one of the Azaleas --plus some of the roses.

Finally,  I saved the best 'til last.   This is my favorite rose,  DOUBLE DELIGHT.   Most of you know that we have over 50 Rose bushes  (Hybrid Teas and Grandafloras) in our yard... AND--many of them are blooming now as you can see if you click HERE...  I will share more pictures of our individual Roses in future blogs.  BUT--I just had to show you Double Delight today... It smells so good also!!!!!

QUESTION:  Is it just me,  or do your pictures seem to be darker after uploading them into Blogger now???? Did they do something to change some settings???? I am constantly having to go back and lighten them.  Geeessshhh!

Have a wonderful day and DO NOT MISS TOMORROW'S BLOG POST.