November 29, 2007

Linda's Photos of the Smoky Mountains

Our view from the tram above Gatlinburg, TN to Ober Gatlinburg (Nov. 2007).

The bear pools were as close to bears as we got! (Poor bears.)

Clouds and fresh snow cover the tops of the Smoky Mountains. (Click photo for awesome view!)

One of my favorite pictures. This snowfall cancelled our road trip up the mountains.

Fall and winter merge into one!

300 mm lens makes it seem miles closer! (Click over photo)

There's more that I'll post that in part two.
Take Care on the Journey,

November 28, 2007

Part 2 - Linda's Smoky Mountain Photos

Leaving Gatlinburg on the tram carrying over 100 tourists, we looked down at our van where Sheba and Ching were waiting for our return! It's the maroon van on the outside edge #11 from the left!
Click pictures for closer view

Inside the tram, a man sneezed and 125 people said, "bless you".

No sky lights in the bathroom?

Hairpin curves we just traveled on our way to Gatlinburg!

Expansive expression...

Shovel snow and rake leaves all in one day!


"Y'all came back now"

Take Care on the Journey

November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving Majesty, Magic & A Dusty Angel

My family and friends who got our Christmas Letter already know we were planning a trip to the Smoky Mountains for our 10th anniversary and Thanksgiving. Hubby had never been to Gatlinburg! We had a reservation in Pidgin Forge (just up the road) and had a wonderful four-day vacation together.

Our room provided the private Jacuzzi that I requested, and a bird’s-eye view of the spectacular “Smoky Mountains” who lived up to their name! We could see the clouds resting on the tops of the great hills, but because it had snowed a foot of that cold white fluff near the chimney peeks making the high roads icy and impassable, we couldn’t make the trek up the mountains as we had planned!

We did take an auto tour through the lower parts of the cascades that was thrilling enough! The forest floor was covered with earth colors of golden-orange leaves, and the river tumbled over giant flint rocks creating many rainbow sparkling waterfalls.

Driving inches from the huge gorges was slightly unnerving as the drop-off changed from my side to his side, but my excellent driving skills kept us safe in the middle of the one-lane, one-way narrow road.

I’m sure the 15 cars backed up behind us wondered how old the driver was, but my goal was to keep hubby comfortable! We didn’t see any bears or bear caves. Nor did we spot any of those big trout purported to be hiding in the river! But it was a feeling of awe and magic to drive in the midst of the majestic mountain gorge and feel the clean cool air against our face while taking deep refreshing breaths of natures own purified oxygen!

Later, we stood in an hour-long line for tickets to ride the incline two-miles up above Gatlinburg to Ober Gatlinburg. I'm looking forward to getting the film developed and sharing the breath-taking views here with you. We could see the new snow on the far mountain tops! At Ski Ober Gatlinburg there are many activities especially for the young and agile. We watched many ice skaters (young and old!) fall down on the ice rink, but at that particular ski area, they didn’t have snow for the skiers so it was a rather desolate place for a skiing adventure that many had planned for the holiday weekend.

The ski shop and fireplace reminded me of when my boys used to go skiing as teenagers in various places near Michigan resorts. Long lines for food and lots of grumpy looking dads and fussy mothers towing children begging for goodies!

Our furry children (Sheba and Ching) rode in the back seats of the van like well behaved children who didn’t say a word the whole time! We gave them dogs bones and treats along the way so they were happy campers! They slept in the motel room with us and after the first night of trying to control all the noise in the hallways, they gave up and slept quietly. Sheba has made adjustments to her failing (almost blind) eyesight. I told people she was blind and I was her seeing-eye master.

The people were kind. The food was good. Black Friday shopping at the Outlet malls was an adventure. Locking my keys in the van while getting gas after dropping hubby off at the mall was tearful and extremely unnerving, but God bless the kind man who opened my van door with a coat hanger he just happened to have in his car! He got a great big hug and my tears on his shirt, but wouldn’t take anything else. His wife was sick, but he saw my distress and came to my rescue. Thank-you Mr. Kind Neighbor from Indiana and thank my dusty angels for the miracle I didn't even ask for!

We are now official members of the great Westgate Resort Family with our own small log cabin tucked away in the hills of the Smoky Mountains. Be nice and I’ll invite you to enjoy our resort vacation with us next year! This addition to our lives was not expected but feels a little like magic to us!

We got back Sunday afternoon and I started a full-time nursing case on Monday so my personal writing time is more limited than usual. I’ll try to keep up with my postings here so no one will stop checking for updates due to lack of activity.

Take Care on the Journey,

November 14, 2007

Grandpa Mascunana and Christmas

Our grandfather, Jorge Mascunana, legally adopted my sister and me.
A co-worker surprised me the other day with some bad news. She was feeling depressed and at her wits end. Usually the noisiest person in the place and bubbly with laughter, I have sometimes felt like I was no fun at all around her. Now she confided that she felt used by everyone, overwhelmed with work and unloved by her family. She was even considering leaving the nursing profession. I was speechless. If this wonderful selfless energetic fun-loving friend could feel so helpless, how many other people are going through the same feelings and not expressing them?

The other night coming home from a little outing with my husband, one of those monster trucks sat on my bumper and gave our car a long rude honk!

“Did I do something wrong?” I asked my husband in alarm.

“No darlin’. You’re a good driver,’ he assured me. (Even if I hit the hammer a little hard and tailgate when I’m deep in thought.)

We decided that the man was angry about something and was taking it out on our car – or at least “me”. At an intersection, he pulled up beside us huffing and puffing his engine and didn’t even look our way.

Jim and I agreed that a lot of people are angry these days. Frustrated with lack of TLC (tender loving care), overwhelming debt, unresolved disputes, marriage disappointments, too much bad news in the world and a lack of personal relationship with God or anyone else.

There’s a change in the air as we approach a new season and the holidays starting with Thanksgiving next week. Our insecurities and worries become like dark shadows that follow us everywhere. We can become sad at times and downright morose all the time.

Family relationships in distress seem vulgar and ghostly. Financial difficulties become worrisome and depressing. Past hurts feel stronger. Unresolved pressures cause us to lash out at others.

As the seasonal music already permeates through the sound waves, (Right now I hear, “Have A Holly Jolly Christmas This Year” on the digital channel of my TV), we can’t escape the expectations and challenges of the Thanksgiving and Christmas season.

My oldest son has a belief system that includes a greater picture than Santa and lots of Christmas gifts. Yet, he has to admit it’s difficult if not impossible NOT to succumb to some of the expectations of the season. (Like mom wanting him home for Christmas and putting lights on a tree in the front yard.)

Last night while picking up a bunch of pictures that fell on top of my head as I was looking for a box of Christmas cards on the top shelf of my closet, I came across a letter that my dear “Grandpa Mascunana” (Jorge Mascunana) had written to me almost 40 years ago while I was in nursing school in Dayton, Ohio and feeling lonely for the family.
(He always referred to grandma (his wife) as "mother". He only referred to himself as "daddy" in his letters to us. - all other times he was "grandpa".)

”I talked to Mother on the phone last night…She told me you are feeling lonesome. Linda, my dear, don’t feel that way. Remember, Linda, this old man, has not forgot you. My love, my heart is yours. I love my two little girls (of course they are not little now, but that’s how I always called you)…Have courage and always remember our Lord and Mother and this old man! that loves you and always will. Be cheerful. Will you promise me that? Yes. I guess and I must close with all my love. God bless my dear girl. ~
Daddy ~PS All my people send you love."

So, to all my readers here. I encourage you to remember that you are not forgotten, and you are loved. Please, be cheerful. "Will you promise me that?"

Take Care on the Journey,


November 12, 2007

Albert Jordan

For those who read my book, "Dusty Angels and Old Diaries", you will recall with fondness, Albert Jordan, the kind neighbor and friend on Carver Creek. I received an email from Grace that Albert passed away last night. He was a very good man.

Take Care on the Journey,

November 8, 2007

My Autumn Song
With snow flurries making news around here, and a chill that drives to the bone, many have been talking about the weather.

I've had this poem in the making for several days. Thanks to hubby for his ideas - especially the furry creatures of the woods as they also make ready for winter soon to blow across the Midwest.

Sit back. Think of me sitting at my computer composing this for you.

My Autumn Song

Lock the windows. Stuff the cracks!
Old Man Winter is coming back!

In Sunny Florida and Texas too
There’s not much change. Nothing new!
But in the North and Great Midwest
We feel that we are truly blest.

Yellow and orange mixed with gold
Tells a secret of beauty to behold!.
Full moon peeks through a silky mist
Seeks the autumn winds to kiss.
Pairs of honking geese fly low
Preclude chill winds that often blow!

Scarfs and mittens – Soft as kittens
Hats and boots – Wool Winter suits!
Wind that blows through my hair
“Good Hair Day” – It doesn’t care!

Leaves that dance like dinner plates
Scoot across the road with little skates!
Or scamper by like busy mice.
Be sure to cover that sugar and spice!

Hot tea for all, and grandma’s shawl
Evenings spent watching football!
No springtime chirpers in the creek.
Dry grass crackles beneath my feet.
Open windows through the trees
Give us a peek across the creek.

Deep in the woods, rodents seek nest upkeep.
Shy fox yaps lonely in the wind
As she seeks to find yet another den.
Majestic buck displays his velvet rack and never sleeps.
Innately watchful. Waiting. His harem to defend!

Fields dusty with the first snow flurries
Bring thoughts of bigger winter worries
Bitter chill brings new ills and lots of pills
Soon we’ll see some winter spills.

Lock the windows. Stuff the cracks.
Old Man Winter is coming back.
We wouldn’t have it another way.
Snowfall brings fun and play!
Lacy designs on window pane.
Thanksgiving family on jet planes!
Soon Christmas bells and candy canes!

Autumn winds bring some change
In how we live in our domain.
Some think it is a ball and chain
With cold winds and snow again.
Bit here in the great Midwest
We truly feel that we are blest!
~ by Linda Meikle
November 8, 2007

Take Care on the Journey,


November 4, 2007

Still Hanging Pictures and Unpacking Boxes

( photo)
...Will it ever stop? The computer went out again. The dog got sick again. There's still boxes to unpack (but not very many) and pictures in the hallway waiting for me to select a good spot to hang them. We're slowly making progress.

They say it's suppose to spit snow a little tomorrow night. I'm still expecting some Indian summer! In the meantime, our "old fashion" clocks that were automatically set to move back last week have now 'caught up' with the NEW new time. Only if you have a clock that was off by one hour for the past week, do you know what I'm talking about. Suffice to say, perhaps we are all on the same time now.

Do any of my blogger friends know what I can't put paragraphs in my postings that are already posted? I went back to edit the first posting on my website and just can't get it to break up the paragraphs now.

I'll have a few days off this week (hopefully) and will be back to say more next time.

Take Care on the Journey,