“When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am.”

To my fellow bloggers/writers, I hope this inspires you as much as it inspired me today. RIP, Maya.

The Daily Post

Maya Angelou by Spanglej, CC BY-SA 2.0.Maya Angelou by Spanglej, CC BY-SA 2.0.

Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with deeper meaning.

Find a beautiful piece of art. If you fall in love with Van Gogh or Matisse or John Oliver Killens, or if you fall love with the music of Coltrane, the music of Aretha Franklin, or the music of Chopin — find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that it was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less.

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.

When I am writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how…

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Holiday Weekend Rain Update

Over the long holiday weekend, we received OVER FIVE INCHES OF RAIN!!!  Add that to our pitiful .9″ that we had received in all of 2014 to date, and we are now slightly over our yearly average rainfall for this time of year for the first time in years.  For many people in a seriously drought-stricken area like ours, that is nothing short of a miracle, and most of us are still praising God for his healing rain, even after four days.  In our brief drive yesterday, I saw three separate signs that all basically said, “Thank you, God, for the rain!”  I love living in a community where so many people are willing to voice their prayers, as well as their praise.  Even a local news station reminded readers in a Facebook to post to “give thanks” for the rain, too.  A couple of naysayers tried to make an issue of that comment, but the vast majority chimed right in.

Glorious Rain

Backyard Flooding

Backyard Flooding 2

Six separate storms moved through our area over the four-day period, and the last storm on Monday evening was fast-moving and very intense.  It lasted only five minutes, but we received almost 1/2″ of rain, lots of small hail, 70 mph winds and had two very scared dogs.  We all briefly took cover in our interior bathroom, due to some low energy land spouts that literally passed right over our neighborhood and ended up doing some pretty significant damage less than a mile from our house.  Fortunately, I believe no one was hurt.

We ventured out in the car about an hour after that last storm to check on our RV at the storage place, and we saw a lot of flooding and some downed trees and power poles in the area where one of those land spouts may have briefly touched down.  I never like to see damage of any kind, but it often comes with our storms, especially this time of year.  The area around the storage place was quite flooded, but fortunately, no damage was done, and there was no flooding inside the storage area itself.

Shortly after the big storm, we let our dogs out in the backyard and ended up having a really good laugh at them.  Red, formerly Little Red who is not so little anymore, didn’t know what to think of all the standing water in our yard, as he had not seen any significant rain before this weekend.  His true colors finally had a chance to come out, as standard poodles absolutely love being in water.  He and Girly Girl both embarked on running fits, chasing each other through all of the big puddles and splashing water everywhere.  Red would also just lay down in the puddles, and he got completely soaked.  He discovered a new joy that he didn’t know even existed, and we both just laughed and laughed at both of them and their happy escapades.  Part of me wanted to join right in and splash that blessed water all over me, but common sense prevailed.  At least this time.

The weather system that brought this wonderful rain has now passed on to the east, and I will resume my daily prayers for rain once again.  While this is a very good start to hopefully making a significant dent in this horrible four-year drought, it is only a beginning.  We have a long, long way to go.  In addition to some rain, though, we have a renewed hope, and that means a lot to souls that are so very parched.

(I also have one more reason to be especially joyful this morning.  As of this morning, I have now lost 33 pounds since January.  I lost an additional five pounds over the past month, even after taking a few small liberties with my diet while on vacation.  Woo hoo!!!)

Thank you, God, for your “healing rain” that renews our land, our bodies and our spirits!

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Rain, Rain – Glorious Rain!!!

The weather forecasters finally got one right.  Up to this point in the year, we have only received .9″ of rain in our continuing drought.  Our area has been in a horrible drought since 2011, but as of this weekend, it looks like we will be getting some much-needed, slow falling, glorious rain!  Overnight, we received just under 2″ of rain at our house, and the weekend forecast shows that it will rain all the way through Monday!

And all the West Texans said… “Thank you, God!”  🙂

Praying for rain is just a given here, especially since 2011.  Along with praying for family members and a few friends every day, praying for rain is one of the continuing items on my daily prayer list.  Sometimes it has been tough to say that particular prayer, too, especially when we have gone for so long without a drop.  Today is providing a big lesson on the persistence of prayer, and I stand encouraged, and grateful, once again.

I spent some wonderful time this morning just sitting on the back porch, listening to all the birds sing their own songs of praise and watching the robins feed on a feast of worms in the backyard once again.  I could hardly keep from joining them in singing, but I didn’t want the neighbors to think I had lost my mind.  😀

My Facebook feed literally blew up this morning with praises to God for the rain, and it was wonderful to see.  Young and old were expressing their gratitude, and it made me very happy to know that others felt the sincerity of what I felt on this beautiful, wet morning.

Persistence in prayer is not an easy thing… at all.  But when that particular prayer is answered, even in part, it is a beautiful thing to behold.  This is where my heart is today… uplifted and so very thankful!  As I walk through some other “droughts” in my life, I can stand on the assurance that God indeed hears my prayers and will act in His perfect timing.  I just need to keep the faith.

I have been singing this song (in my head) all morning… and maybe in the shower… and the kitchen. 😉  May it also be a blessing to you today where you are struggling in your own heart.

We will most definitely continue to pray for rain, even after this most welcome rain event.  It will take a lot of rain to turn around this horrible drought, but for now, several small communities in our area will hopefully get a reprieve on their immediate water issues, as some of them were down to less than 90 days of water.

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The Flight to Kauai

One of the most challenging parts of our recent trip to Kauai was simply getting there.  We had to change our outgoing flights three times, including a last-minute change due to a large snowstorm that hit the Denver area and could possibly have delayed or canceled our flight from there onto Kauai.  The airline was very good to work with us and allowed us to make the changes without any fees, including that last-minute change, since we had a good reason each time to make the needed changes.  Unfortunately, making the change to go through Houston instead of Denver caused us to lose almost a full day in Kauai, but we made the decision to make that change in hopes of just getting there and not get caught in the middle of the snowstorm in Colorado, which dumped a foot of snow in the Denver area.  It was a good decision.

We left on Monday afternoon and first flew to Houston, where we spent the night in a hotel near the airport.  Our flight was almost an hour late arriving at Bush Intercontinental, though, so we ended up having a late dinner with our dear friends that live in the area.  We ate at Pappasito’s Cantina, which is always a treat, to be sure, as we do not have one in our area.  I had the Shrimp Brochette, which was legal on my diet and so very good.

Pappasito’s Famous Shrimp Brochette – “A skewer of mesquite-grilled shrimp, stuffed with cheese & fresh jalapenos, wrapped in bacon with pico de gallo”

We had a nice visit with our friends, and just as we finished our dinner and headed to our hotel for the night, the rain began to fall.  I think it rained all night, which was quite welcome in that area.  As we left on the airport shuttle bus the next morning, it was still raining just a bit, but several roads in the area were apparently flooded, as it rained almost 3.5″ overnight!  Fortunately, we made it to the airport without any delays, and our flight to Los Angeles left right on time around 9 am.  I later learned that several flights that left after our flight were delayed, though.

Houston Rain
Raining in Houston

The flight to LAX was uneventful, which is always a good thing.  Hubby napped and I listened to some great tunes that I had downloaded from Spotify, which is a new thing for me and something that I am truly enjoying, I might add.  It is well worth the $10 each month for me.  I think we also flew over Meteor Crater on the way, too.

Meteor Crater Arizona
I think this was Meteor Crater in Arizona, as seen from our plane

When we arrived at LAX, we decided to find a place to eat lunch, which proved to be quite a challenge.  I had not been to LAX in many years, and honestly, I don’t care if I ever go there again after our horrible experience on this trip.  We were relegated to a very small area in the terminal that was extremely crowded with few options for dining.  After checking out our options, which took only about five minutes, we decided to eat at a 50’s style diner.  The food was terrible and very overpriced, and I ate only about three bites of my burger.  That was likely three bites too many because in about an hour, I started to feel quite sick at my stomach.

Our layover at LAX was just under five hours, and it was a miserable time there, to be sure.  It was about 100 degrees outside on that day, and part of the airport had no air conditioning, including a long hallway that went to our next gate area.  It was so miserably hot, and I started to feel even sicker for that reason.  Fortunately, when we finally made it to the gate area, the air conditioning was working well.  We waited there for about an hour, then boarded our flight to Lihue, Kauai.

As we boarded the flight, we quickly discovered that there was no air conditioning on the plane, and my heart just sank.  I had just started to feel a bit better, but after only ten minutes on that hot plane, my stomach started up with a vengeance once again.  I got up and went back out to the gate area for about fifteen minutes while they finished loading passengers, but then I had to get back on the plane as that task was completed.  I have never, ever been on such a hot plane.  The unit that was to cool the plane while it was on the ground was not working, or that was the excuse that was given to us, and I guess they had no problem loading us on a plane that was 100 degrees inside.

The first three hours of that six-hour flight were horrible, as the plane never really cooled off during that time.  Fortunately, about three hours into the flight, we heard a compressor kick on, and the plane finally started to cool off.  I must sadly say that our cabin crew was bad, too.  I have never had a stewardess refuse to get me a simple drink of water until this trip, but that actually happened.  On the entire six-hour flight, I only managed to get two small cups of water.  I learned a valuable lesson on that flight, and I will never get on a plane again without buying a bottle of water before I get on the plane.  In fact, we will also make sure that we buy food to take along on longer flights, too, as the food to purchase on the flight looked very unappealing, and many people just passed, despite the fact that we were in the air for just over six hours.  Lesson learned – do not rely on the airline to provide food and drinks, no matter how long the flight is.

By the time we arrived in Lihue, about 7 pm Hawaii time and midnight our time, I was pretty dehydrated and very miserable.  However, it still did not reduce my joy to just be back on the island once again.  It was cloudy and cool when we arrived, and the open-air airport is always a treat, and immediately you feel that you are a million miles from the rest of the world.  I waited with our bags just outside baggage claim while Hubby picked up our rental car, and it was wonderful to just breathe in the cool, moist air and realize we had finally made it back to paradise once again.

Welcome to Kauai
The welcome sign at the airport in Lihue

Fortunately, we spent our first night at the beautiful Marriott, which was only a ten minute drive from the airport.  I was never so glad to see a hotel room and comfy bed in my life either.  Hubby got me a cold drink from a vending machine across the hall, and after I sipped on it and took some nausea medicine, I finally felt much better and slept well that night once my stomach finally settled down.

Thankfully, the rest of our flights on the trip were very nice, and all of the equipment worked just fine.  However, if we ever go back to Kauai again, I will do everything I can to avoid connecting through LAX.  The connection through San Francisco was so much better.  SFO is a beautiful, well-equipped airport, and LAX does not even fall in the same category, in my opinion.  I miss the direct flight on Continental to Hawaii from Houston, but I guess that is now a thing of the past.  That flight was so much fun, and the cabin crew always dressed up in mumus and leis to really make the flight a lot of fun with outstanding service.  There was no such fun on this horrible flight, but we didn’t let it dampen our spirit once we finally arrived in Kauai.

In a future post, I will share about our time in Kauai, both on this trip and a couple of previous trips.

Update 6/26/14:  If you would like to continue on this trip journey with me, read Two Days in Kauai and Magnificent Big Sur!😉

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Wordless Wednesday – Big Sur Sunset Silhouette

Big Sur Sunset Silhouette

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A Wonderful Vacation

We returned from our vacation yesterday afternoon and wasted no time in picking up our special four-legged family members who were very glad to see us after being gone for a week.  In a small way, seeing the excitement of our special pups once again made coming home a little easier to tolerate after such an incredibly fun and memorable vacation.  The trip started off a little rocky for me, due to an upset stomach on the day we flew to Kauai, but thankfully, it passed quickly.  I won’t deny that I was quite miserable on our flights that day, though.

Big Sur
Big Sur near Ragged Point

The weather was gorgeous every day of our trip in both Kauai and California, and despite the fact that we stayed in six different hotels in seven nights, we really had a great time and don’t feel too terribly tired now that we are finally home once again.  We made the most of our time in both places, while still enjoying some nice down time in Hawaii, too.  My birthday was last Friday, and it was fabulous to spend the first part of the day in Hawaii, then fly to San Francisco where my daughter and her hubby were waiting for us at the airport that night.  We all made a road trip to Big Sur on Saturday and Sunday, which was a lot of fun.  We stayed at a beautiful place on Saturday night that had some outstanding views of the ocean and cliffs, and we also celebrated my birthday with a gourmet meal that evening.  We even got to hike for a couple of hours at a beautiful state park there on Sunday afternoon, which we all definitely enjoyed.

Nenes (endangered) on our lanai in Kauai

As always, good vacations are just too short, and this was definitely the case for us on this trip.  I would really love to just spend about a month in Kauai and now have that goal as a little “bucket list” thing that perhaps we can do after we retire in years down the road.

Hanalei Valley
Beautiful Hanalei Valley at Princeville

I will try to share more information about our trip and some of the beautiful sites soon.  Kauai was not a new destination for us, as we have now been there three times, and hopefully this will not be our last time either because I dearly love Kauai.  However, Big Sur was a new destination for us and one that we truly loved, too.  Our daughter and her husband go there often, and it was nice to have such knowledgeable “tour guides” to drive and tell us all about the area.  But more than that, it was just nice to simply spend some quality time with them again.

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All My Bags Are Packed…

Finally, today is the day at long last!  Our big trip is about to commence, and I’m so ready!  We’ve never been on a trip quite like this one, and I think we are both pretty well rested for the week to come.

This is a celebration trip for us, as we will primarily celebrate our 35th anniversary, along with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and my birthday, which is later this week.  I cannot think of a better way to celebrate than how this trip has now (hopefully) turned out to be, too.

Yesterday, Sunday, we had to completely change our outgoing airline reservations to avoid a huge winter storm in Denver that was expected to dump almost a foot of snow there.  The reservation agent strongly advised us to change our flights to avoid Denver while we could still do so, and we heeded her advice, especially since our flight to Denver was to be on a smaller commuter jet.  I said it earlier, and I will still say that I think a little bit of divine intervention has been involved here, as we got the last two flights out of our airport this afternoon to Houston.  We will overnight there, then catch our flight to Hawaii tomorrow morning.

The big bonus in this for us is that I will finally be able to see one of my very best friends in the world and her family for dinner tonight.  She was thrilled when I told her about the change that would now route us through Houston, and she will pick us up at the airport when we arrive.  We have been long-time friends, even dating back to when none of us had kids, and this has added yet another joy for me in this trip!

For someone who seldom gets to see her kids and this special friend, I will get to see both of my kids and this friend in the very same week to celebrate these special days.  We had a wonderful Mother’s Day dinner last night at our house with my hubby, my mom and our son.  It was a casual time, and we just let a local restaurant “cater” our tasty BBQ dinner for us.  We visited for three hours, played with the dogs, opened gifts and had quite a few laughs.  A perfect evening as far as I’m concerned.

Talk about blessed!  Yes, I am.

And as of this morning, I am only 4 ounces shy of losing… 30 pounds!  Yet another reason to celebrate for me, too.

Houston, Kauai, San Francisco and Big Sur… here we come!  😉