Advent

It has been a busy December for me. So busy that I have been remiss in posting anything. Time to make up for that. As a Christian, Advent is a special time for me. It is a time of preparation for Christmas. Christians prepare for celebrating the birth of Jesus by remembering the longing of the Jews for a Messiah. In Advent, we’re reminded of how much we ourselves also need a Savior, and we look forward to our Savior’s second coming even as we prepare to celebrate his first coming at Christmas.

Our church prepares for Christmas by decorating the Narthex and Sanctuary, as well as the entire church. We put up two Christmas trees, one traditionally decorated, the other decorated with Chrismons. Every Sunday of Advent a candle is lit in the Advent Wreath, with the central, white candle being lit on Christmas Eve.

Advent is also a time for community outreach. Our church participates in Operation Christmas Shoe Box and Operation Santa Claus. Operation Santa Claus provides gifts for children in foster homes while Operation Christmas Shoe Box provides a shoe box of gifts for needy children worldwide. We also participated in a program that packaged 40,000 meals for distribution all over the country.

As for myself, I have been busy doing the other things that fill my day. Reading, photography, church work (I am the treasurer among other hats I wear), traveling around, and shooting. Yes I cling to my guns and Bible. Just kidding.

The only down note is my beloved Golden Retriever Max has been sick. He turned 12 years old in November and has been diagnosed with liver cancer. He has been on chemotherapy and Prednisone for some time now and although he seems to be holding up remarkably well, his eyesight is failing. It is probably a combination of the drugs and the cancer but the vets aren’t sure. It is agonizing to watch your pet slowly go blind and not be able to do all the things we used to enjoy doing together. He is being treated for the blindness but the prognosis is unknown.

I will leave you with some photos to document recent events in my life. But before I go I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holiday, or whatever you celebrate during this time of the year.

God Bless you Richly

 

 

Holidays, Holidays

Holidays, holidays, tis the season for holidays. Halloween is over, not much to talk about there except I love the seasonal decorations that are everywhere. Where I live, I seldom get any trick or treaters. I still buy a bag of candy just in case but end up eating it myself. Then if you celebrate these days, there is All Saint’s Day and All Souls Day. They are sort of related to Halloween I think but I’m not sure. Next up is Veterans Day, then Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve. And of course my sons birthday is in December and my dog Max will be twelve this month.

When the weather has cooperated I have been getting out and doing what I love best, taking photographs. With my new camera and lens, I have been able to better express myself through photography. Although I have been taking pictures since I was a child, I still want to to develop my talents more every day. I see some of the fantastic art on Flickr and it motivates me to do better. I have two friends that are professional photographers and they inspire me to be more creative.

When I’m not out taking photos, I spend time reading, surfing the Web, shooting my firearms, and being active in my Church. I am an elder, treasurer, department head, and go-to guy for all the technical things that need to be done. I designed and maintain the church website and well as the church Facebook page.

My formal training was as an electrical/electronic engineer and I have spent my whole professional career in one field or the other of engineering. I have been employed by the power company as a nuclear engineering technician at the Surry Nuclear Power Station here in Virginia. I have also worked for the Navy in the overhaul of A-6 and F-14 aircraft, in the IT department with Public Works, and with Training and Doctrine Command with the U.S. Army at Ft. Monroe, Virginia.

But as you might have surmised, I have been retired now for more than 7 years. But I do pretty well at staying busy and it sure is great to have all those hours to do the things I really enjoy, like not having to commute to work every day.

That’s about it. It is a bleary day here in Virginia and I hope I can find things to do to fill my time.

God Bless.

Fall is here and so is a Hurricane

Fall has arrived and with it it is bringing a lot of rain and maybe a visit from Hurricane Joaquin. For the last week we have had endless rain and the ground is now saturated. If Hurricane Joaquin passes nearby, we are assured of 10+ more inches of rain and tropical force winds. Heavily saturated ground with high winds equals trees and power lines down. Not anticipating a fun weekend. Being that I have been through many hurricanes in my life this is nothing new and we are as prepared as we can be. At least I hope to get some interesting photos and videos of the storm which I will post as soon as I can.

As for the other aspects of Fall, the weather is cooling, the leaves are changing colors and falling, and there have been lots of festivals. I am looking forward to all things pumpkin, along with lots of hot cocoa. Our church is having its Fall Bazaar this Sunday and as a part of that we cook and prepare over 400 quarts of Brunswick stew for sale. It is a LOT of work but we always manage to pull it off and everyone enjoys the fellowship. While I can’t give you the exact recipe for the stew (Top Secret), I can give you a list of the ingredients, except for the spices used. (Top Secret).

  • Chicken
  • White Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Celery
  • Corn
  • Lima Beans
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Chicken Stock
  • Bullion cubes
  • Worcester Sauce
  • Water
  • Fatback
  • Butter
  • Top Secret spices

We cook it outside in large pots with wooden paddles over propane burners. It takes 6-7 hours to cook enough batches to fill all the orders. That does not count the pre-cooking of the chicken, peeling and chopping of vegetable, etc. At $7.00 a quart it is a great deal. Wish you could stop by and try some. Now if only Hurricane Joaquin will go away…

Spring Things

Spring is here. No more snow, the flowers are blooming, the bees and butterfly’s are flying, the pollen is in the air, and the days are warmer. Winter wasn’t all that bad, except for some really cold weather and some snow storms. Now that I am able to get out of the house more often I have been busier than during the winter. I have been going to the gym more often, and taking more walks with Max.

Easter season has been busy with an egg hunt for the kids, our 65 annual Maundy Thursday service, Pizza/Movie night, and Easter Sunday Service. I have also become addicted to college basketball. A friend of mine who is an ODU season ticket holder took me to two ODU Monarch basketball games at the Ted Constance Convocation Center and now I am hooked on college ball. I watched almost every game during March Madness using either the ESPN app or the NCAA March Madness app. I was hoping for Wisconsin to take it all but at least they beat Kentucky.

Baseball season is almost upon us and I hope to take in at least a few Norfolk Tides games. We are having our annual family picnic at Woodstock Park in Virginia Beach April 26th. I am looking forward to seeing all my family members. The family has been constantly growing and we have become quite a clan.

On the tech. front, I bought a new HP Stream 13 laptop from Best Buy. It has a 13 inch touch screen, 2 GB of RAM, a 32 GB SSD, card reader, USB ports, and HDMI out port. It is running Windows 8.1. So far so good. I also bought a Netgear Range Extender to extend the range of coverage for our WiFi. It works amazingly well. Did I mention I bought a Raspberry Pi Model B to play around with? I also have a new wrist watch from Fossil. I love it.

Well, enough for now. I think it is going to be a great Spring. I’m getting refunds on my State and Federal taxes, my Social Security is coming in now, and I am on Medicare and a new medical plan with Aetna Blue Cross Blue Shield. All is well.

God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

P50207-203034 P50207-201518

 

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

NativityChristmas if my favorite holiday and Advent is my favorite time of the year. As a child it was all about Santa, the Christmas tree, decorations, cookies, and the anticipation of Christmas Day and presents. It really was hard to sleep Christmas Eve as the excitement and anticipation was more than a child could handle.

Over the years Christmas has become less about presents, Santa is gone, and my son is all grown up. Now Christmas is more about family and the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I still enjoy decorating the tree, the food, and I wouldn’t mind getting a present or two. My family has grown in some ways and shrunk in others. My Grandparents, Mother, Father, and most of my Aunts and Uncles are gone. But my brothers, my son, and my Church family have made Christmas as joyous as it was when I was a small child. But the biggest joy of the Advent Season and Christmas is God and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As a child, Jesus was not on my mind during Christmas. There was only Santa, presents, and my family. But today, I have so much more to be grateful for. Looking back over the many Christmases of my life, I can truly say that I have been blessed each time with so much love and happiness. I pray that you and your family will experience the same joy and happiness that I feel every Christmas. Just as long as you remember the real reason for the season, all your Christmases will be joyful, no matter your circumstances.

Merry Christmas and A Blessed New Year to all…

Now if only it would snow.

 

Labor Day

Today is Labor Day Monday. Again, it has been a while since my last post. The big news is that my son Jason has accepted a new job with a company that includes a much bigger salary than he is currently making. In fact, his salary is much more than anything I ever earned. I could not be happier for him. Now if he could just find some time for grandkids for me.

This summer, and especially August, has been very wet. I have spent the entire summer mowing, weeding and trimming. All the trees and bushes have grown dramatically. I will be glad when the grass stops growing so I can get a rest from the yard work.

Finally, in addition to red foxes in the neighborhood, we have seen our first deer. Not sure why all this wildlife is starting to show up. It may be because the railroad tracks have been removed and all that land is starting to grow over. Wonder what will show up next, a black bear? I wouldn’t be surprised. That is all for now.

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It is Christmas Day

It is Christmas morning once again. The weather service is calling for snow today. This will be the fourth snowfall we have had this Fall and Winter. The last significant snow we had on Christmas Day was a long time ago. My son Jason is coming over as is Teresa’s daughter Dana and her boyfriend Chris. We will be having a Christmas brunch of waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, and ham. Then it will be time to open presents and have a great Christmas.

Last night our church had our annual Christmas Eve communion. I did the slide show with the accompanying lyrics for the hymns as well as being the voice of Jesus and serving communion. There was a large crowd in attendance and the service was lovely. The service always helps to put me in a Christmas mood and reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas.

So to all of you out there, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Seasons Greetings, and all that. Be excellent to one another. Live a cut above. Do not succumb to the vices of this world. Be the miracle you seek.

A Day at the Zoo

Teresa, Kirk, and I went to the Norfolk zoo Friday morning, taking the new Honda Element for a ride. The first thing I want to say is that the zoo has come a long way over the years. It used to be a dreary affair consisting mostly of fenced in enclosures. Now it more closely resembles a modern zoo with natural, open enclosures for most of the animals. It also seems to have more than just one of every animal as it had in the past. The weather cooperated, with overcast skies keeping the sun from beating down on us.

The zoo is in the process of building a modern enclosure for its tigers. The enclosure is very impressive and I can’t wait for it to open. The biggest new feature of the zoo is the African savanna section of the zoo. Enclosed in a very natural looking area are elephants, a rhino, giraffes, bongos, lions, antelopes, zebras, and other African animals. There is also an enclosure for a large group of kangaroos which is located next to a beautiful garden. There are also enclosures for American bison, eagles, prairie dogs, red river hogs, meerkats, and a fennec fox. Completing the zoo are a large building for the invertebrates and a barn/farm which houses your typical domestic farm animals such as cows, chickens, goats, and pigs.

I know I left out a few things, like the beautiful fountain area as you enter where children can cool off by running and playing in the multiple fountains. All in all, it was a very enjoyable day and I will be back soon to see some of the things I missed or did not spend enough time looking at. I took a lot of photos and some video which I will link to below. If you live in this area I highly recommend a day at the zoo. Next stop for us will be the Mariner’s Museum.

Lions Video Meerkats Video

Norfolk Zoo photos

lions

Thanksgiving

Yesterday was Thanksgiving and we had dinner at Smithfield Station. Teresa’s brothers Paul and Rodger along with their wives and kids joined us for dinner. The meal was excellent as was the view of the Pagan River at sunset. Today I am at work but it is going to be an easy day as most of the staff is off. Cox cable is coming by this afternoon to hook up a cable box so that we can get my HD programming to watch on our new 32″ Samsung LCDTV. Our old TV as over 10 years old and it was time to step up to the digital age. Teresa is out shopping this morning along with all the other crazy shoppers on Black Friday. She wants to buy two recliners to put in the TV room. She has been redecorating the house and has painted the walls in the dining room and the living room. I am looking forward to a relaxing weekend enjoying the new TV. I still have some Christmas shopping to do but most of it has already been done. Last weekend we went to the Christmas display at the old courthouse in downtown Portsmouth. The display used to be owned by Coleman’s nursery but they sold the displays when they went out of business. I think I am in the Christmas spirit now, I hope I can remain there for a while.

Halloween and Fall

We are finally starting to see some Fall weather. Last night the temperature dropped into the 30’s and today was a beautiful, crisp Fall day. But the next two days are forecast to be in the lower 70’s, still a little warm for me. Teresa has been sick the last couple of days and finally went to the doctor today. The doctor thinks she may have colitis or diverticulitis. She is scheduled for a CT scan tomorrow and she has an appointment with a gastroenterologist. She has been given some antibiotics and something to drink tonight before her CT scan. I think everything is going to be OK but I have been stressed out over it. Tomorrow at work we are having a chili contest with six of my co-workers bringing in their own deadly recipes. I just hope the Alka-Seltzer and the Tucks medicated pads are in supply to cover any aftereffects. Tomorrow is also Halloween, one of my favorite holidays. We don’t celebrate it as much as we used to because we have no children in our neighborhood to trick or treat. But I have been enjoying the horror movie marathons on AMC and the SciFi channel.