Good morning! Welcome to "Morning Musings".

Musings: to meditate, think, contemplate, deliberate, ponder, reflect, ruminate, reverie, daydream, introspection, dream, preoccupation, brood, cogitate.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

TA-DAH! Week 5




#5 - Treat Yourself to Pleasure and Passion

I found this rather amazing:  Loretta writes, "In a study of ninety-six volunteers, Arthur Stone, Ph.D., a psychologist from the State University of New York, found that pleasant events such as dinner with friends or a weekend hike in the woods gave a boost to the immune system that lasted for two to three days.  In contrast, a stressful encounter such as an argument with a boss or spouse had a lesser effect, slightly depressing the immune system for just one day."  It seems the absence of ordinary pleasures has a worse effect on us than stress.

When my children were little I was really into playing my guitar.  As you see we'd "jam" sometimes.  Interestingly, the one on the drums went on to play the drums in the middle school band and then switched to the piano in high school and ended up getting a degree in music composition in college.  It is not his career now, but he has a band and so still keeps it a part of his life.  

We all need to find what gives us pleasure and make it a part of our daily lives, if possible.  I took up gardening once my youngest child became more independent at around age 2.  It was something I could nurture and gave me an outlet for my creativity.  Over the years I've found more interests and as I found the time added them to my "play time".  Your assignment this week is to allow yourself at least a few minutes EVERY day doing something you love--even if it's just soaking in the tub for 15 minutes--then let me know what kind of difference it made in your day.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Day Away - Part 2


After our day away in Winchester and our visit to the Museum of Shenandoah Valley last week we decided this week we'd head over to Front Royal, Virginia, "where the Blue Ridge Mountains meet the Shenandoah River" and is the gateway to Shenandoah National Park where Skyline Drive begins.

We parked at Front Royal's town square....

and browsed the several antique/thrift shops on Main Street stopping for lunch at an outdoor cafe. That is Ken waiting for the bill while I go back to the Square to take the above picture of the trees....
Then it was onto Skyline Drive.  You can see it was a hazy day, as it always seems to be when we come.  That clearing on the side of the mountain is where we just drove from to this overlook....
We stopped at the overlooks to the West as we drove South.  That is Massanutten Mountain in the distance....
These next two photos are the same shot using my telephoto lens to zoom in closer....

We only drove as far as Skyland Lodge at the 41.7-mile marker.  The Pollack Dining Room was closed but we were able to get a table in the adjacent Mountain Taproom overlooking the dining room so we could still take in the fantastic view while we ate our chocolate cake and blackberry cobbler with a couple cups of coffee.... 
Then we headed back north stopping at the overlooks on the East side.  There we could still see the results from the Chestnut Blight.... 
It was growing late in the afternoon now and the shadows were long....
I climbed up onto the stone walls to get a better shot and thought about all the men who built this Park in the 1930's as part of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the New Deal.  I'm sure there were folks who thought it was a waste of taxpayer money, but it employed 2.5 million men around the country and millions more are still enjoying the results today....

This particular overlook had some interesting rock formations with trees growing out of them....
The moon was already claiming its spot in the sky....
I couldn't help but take note of the grasses and bushes at my feet when the setting sun lit them so magnificently....
Mary's Rock Tunnel is considered one of the Drive's engineering feats....
You can see why this mountain range is called Blue Ridge....
This names the peaks in the above photo....
This was our last stop at an overlook so I could zoom in on the pond in the valley....



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

TA-DAH! Week 4



#4 - Take Time to Listen to Yourself

Loretta says meditation helps us to listen to our inner voice and that there are two basic components to getting yourself to relax:  use a mental focus such as watching your breath or repeating a word/sound or phrase; and second, have a passive attitude toward distracting thoughts.  

In the book I mentioned in an earlier post, "The Untethered Soul--The Journey Beyond Yourself", Michael A. Singer encourages us to step back from our thoughts and just observe them.  We're not to judge them.  I had a recent experience that illustrates this.  Last week I did a post about our weekend in Garrett County.  Going back and taking a look at the post I found I had warmer feelings about the weekend than I did at the time I actually experienced it.  Looking at the post with the pictures and details of our activities was like standing back and just observing my thoughts and feelings.  Because I was just an observer now I did not get tangled up in the disappointment I felt at the time about the rain and not being able to do all the outdoor activities I'd planned.  If I'd thought to step back from my thoughts and feelings at the time, I would have been able to enjoy the activities we were able to do together.  My perspective would have changed.

So your assignment this week is to try meditation if you feel you can, but if not, at least be aware of your thoughts and feelings so that you can step back and just observe them for a few moments to see if your perspective changes.  Remember don't judge your thoughts and feelings.  Just observe.  Report back your findings.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Day Away


Friday we decided to take a day away and drive the hour to Winchester, Virginia to visit the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.  Along the way we saw this roadside pumpkin stand and stopped to purchase the pumpkins for the Pumpkin Carving Contest I'm having for my family next weekend....
 These gourds had been painted with colored shellac....
 Winchester is a charming little big town.  We wanted to visit their pedestrian mall and have lunch there.  This is the alleyway from the parking deck....
These puppies caught my eye.  It seems they had the run of the store.  I did not notice the sign until I saw my photo....
 We lunched here because it had a lovely outdoor area....
 The lunch special was crab-swiss-asparagus quiche.  It was delicious....
The old County Court House, now a museum, was across the way from us....
My parents drove down from Pennsylvania to be married in Winchester in 1950, and I wondered if that is where it took place.  Ken suggested we visit their records department to find out.  We went to the City Hall on the next street....
....but we were referred to yet another building for the records.  When we could not locate their names in the records I began to wonder.....so I asked if there might be a reason we weren't finding their marriage certificate.  The Clerk told us they may have been married at City Hall instead of the County Court House and we should check the records in the next department.  Still no record of my father....So the clerk checked under my mother's name and there she was.  The Clerk went to get the certificate leaving me wondering if I was about to find out my father wasn't who I thought it was.  But, there his name was.  I think the Clerk had checked the wrong index for my father's name.  So, with that settled we headed for the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley.  

The museum is located on the grounds of Glen Burnie, the home of the founder of Winchester, James Wood.  The house was closed for renovations but the Museum had this replica made--right down to the furnishings....

 The grounds were extensive.  This is the entrance to the family cemetery....
 The house was passed down through the family to the last descendant, Julian Wood Glass, who died in 1992 and stipulated in his Will that the house should be opened to the public.  He renovated the house and added structures such as the Pink Pavilion....
...along with the formal gardens....
A small stream runs through the property which lies in the valley, or glen, of the Shenandoah mountains, hence the name of property:  Glen Burnie--burn being the Scottish name for stream.  There I found these geese....

This is the drive in front of the house....
We eventually found our way back to the Museum for a tea/coffee and scone/brownie break before going through the Museum.  There was an entire room of miniature houses and rooms created by Mr. Taylor who did the Glen Burnie replica.  This was one of my favorite because of the copper pots....
There is another room that chronicles the history of the Shenandoah Valley exhibiting several of the handicrafts....

....and a room with Mr. Glass's art collection such as this painting of Harper's Ferry by Ferdinand Richardt in the 1850's....

We ended our day with a visit to a used book shop and the SPCA thrift shop where I found this beautiful vase for just $2!
A perfect ending to a lovely day!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

TA-DAH! Week 3




#3 - Touch Someone Else's Life

This week's Ta-Dah! is about being altruistic.  The physical reward is that it slows your heart rate and disease-fighting chemicals rise.  But then, if we did things for others for that reason, it wouldn't be altruistic!  However, if you are able to use your particular talents to help another, you can't help but reap the rewards along with the person you're helping.

When I moved to Maryland after I married I was a 12-hour drive or more away from my parents and my grandmothers.  Perhaps that is why I found myself drawn to older people and wanted to befriend them.  When I quit work to start my family I started volunteering in my county as a Friendly Visitor.  They assigned me to Mrs. Smith, the lady in the above photo who lived in a nursing home.  She was 82 in this photo, 78 when I started visiting her every week.  Sometimes I'd take her out in my 2-seater sports car (before my boys were born) to shop at McCrory's.  I brought her to my  home at Christmas and on other special occasions.    I took my children to visit her, a particular delight because she'd lost her only child from meningitis at age 8 in the 1920's.  She called me her angel, but she did not realize how much she filled a need in my own life.

Loretta LaRoche points out that it is hard to be depressed when you're helping someone else.  Some suggestions she makes are:  welcome a new neighbor (with flowers or muffins), leave flowers on a co-worker's desk, pay the toll for the person in back of you.  I'd add visit an elderly person in a nursing home and take along your children or your pet (after checking to make sure the pet is welcomed), help out at the community food kitchen, become a Big Sister or Brother, offer to babysit your neighbor's children so they can go out for an evening.....you get the picture.  Just look around to see if there's something someone needs that you can offer, and do it.  Be sure to let me know what you did.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Garrett County Weekend


We recently spent the weekend in western Maryland's Deep Creek Lake area of Garrett County with our family....  

Gabriel had the back seat of our minivan to himself... 

It was only a 2-1/2 hour drive.  Most of it was on the Interstate Highway which has some terrific scenery.  This was the last leg of our journey to the cabin along a country road....

The houses line the lake....

This was the view from our deck....

The weather was wonderful when we arrived late Friday afternoon, but I had no time to walk down the stairs to the lake with all the unpacking and preparing supper.  This was taken on Sunday before it started raining again....

The view looking back up at the house....

The rest of our crew (8 of us plus 2 dogs in all) arrived Friday night.  Saturday morning we awoke to rain so we piled into two cars and drove into Oakland.  It's a lovely little town with a Farmer's Market on Saturdays.  I loved the interesting-shaped squash....

....and carrots....

I bought the cup of flowers on the right....
 

We walked the few blocks to the shopping district and found some interesting shops like the Book Mark'et & Antique Mezzanine....

Englander's Antiques was also very interesting on the corner of 2nd and Alder Street.  I especially enjoyed the Historical Society Museum.  Then about 3:00 the sun began to appear!  Yay!  Outdoor activities!  Wisp Resort is only 15 minutes away.  Several of us took the Scenic Chairlift ride....

The rest of the crew did the Mountain Coaster....

There was still some daylight so we headed over to Swallow Falls State Park.  Ken walked down the stairs that lead to the bottom of the Falls to take our picture.  Meanwhile we were just hanging around at the top....

Ken overheard the lady next to him say to her companion that she couldn't take her picture until "those random people leave".  Ken told her those "random people" were his and shouted for us to line up....

We complied, he snapped the picture, and we dispersed automatically.  The couple started laughing.  We did too when we heard we were a bunch of random people!

The path continued along the river....

Sunday's forecast was for rain all day, so we did not hurry to get up.  Once we realized it didn't look like it was going to rain after all we headed over to Mountain Lake Park where we found the museum closed but this interesting sculpture.  I wrote more about it here....

Later we walked the woods path along the lake....

One of our sons brought a borrowed inflatable kayak to try out....

That's when the rain decided to return.  Back to the house we went.  Soon we bid farewell to one son and his wife, ate sausage soup, and then played games by the fireplace.

Monday morning we packed up and took the back roads to the Interstate stopping first at this charming shop where the owner's dog followed me around.  She must have known Gabriel was in the car and was hoping to be introduced.  I loved their outdoor display....

This view can be seen from an overlook on Rt. 219....

After stopping at Penn Alps in Grantsville, Maryland, my all-time favorite restaurant and walking through Spruce Village Artisan Village next door where Ken took this picture....

we headed home.  Before too long it started to rain again.