Temptation

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When thinking about temptation, my first thoughts go to chocolate. That is a nice safe topic. Not today. Today my temptation is not so innocent. It is about a behavior that I find unattractive in others, and yet, I want to engage in it right now. I’m not proud. If anything, let this encourage all of us to be kind when we speak about other people.

One of my pet peeves is gossip. Gossip is defined by Timothy Hallett, associate professor in the Indiana University sociology department…as “the unsanctioned evaluative talk about people who aren’t present.” (NY Times, 06/16/2012) In other words, it is me judging another person, and then going behind their back to tell others what I think about them.

Is there such a thing as good gossip and bad gossip? Gossip can help people to bond because it is a social activity. Good, right? Gossip can protect others from “being exploited by passing on information about bad behavior to warn others.” That is a benefit to the gossipers, so good, right? But, is that fair to the object of gossip? If someone’s reputation is hurt, that’s bad, right? I bite my tongue. I try to ascribe to the old saying – If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

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I was tempted to gossip about someone. I gave into that temptation and wrote about it here in this post. Then I erased it. This revised version is missing some content and that feels much better. 

The photos are watermarked and cropped small because it is my daughter and a friend enjoying friendship – not gossip. I try to protect personal images as much as possible. Please don’t copy them.

The Daily Post: Daily Prompt

 

Animals – Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge

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Wild Colonial Spanish Mustangs, long ago left on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, still live on its northern most beaches. These horses used to run free throughout the islands, but as houses were built and more and more people arrived, the horses were being put at risk of being hit by cars. They are now free to roam in a preservation area that can be reached easily if you have four-wheel drive. There are homes within the horse preserve and the horses are used to people. However, they are wild, and graze on the native vegetation. People are forbidden to feed them. I cropped the above photo to create the two pictures that follow.

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I took this photo of a cow and a nursing calf a couple of years ago, here in Virginia. There aren’t any cows left in my community, but they can be found nearby.

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Below are sheep, a llama, a lot of geese and a heron – also, here in Virginia. There is still plenty of farmland south and west of where I live.

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Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge

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France In Virginia

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My friend and I often eat at this casual French cafe when we go to lunch. We have occasionally dined elsewhere, but this is our favorite spot. It is somewhere between our two geographic addresses and we can sit and talk for hours. I often order the same meal. My favorite is the Crepes Romanoff.

It is very rustic and cozy, with a blazing fireplace in one of the rooms. There are large wooden library doors, beams on the ceiling, cast iron, brick and wood framed windows. Of course, I can’t find the photos of the dining area, so next trip, I’ll have to remedy that problem and take more.

When you go into the restroom, you get a French lesson. Yes, there is tape playing that will teach you to count and phrases you can use in the cafe, even though there is no need. Everyone speaks English here. But, the lesson is fun. And I haven’t learned a word of French, although it is a beautiful language. (I am making a stab at learning Italian.)

Last week, the restaurant was decked out for Christmas, with a special holiday menu.

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In keeping with the casual theme, we order food cafeteria style and then when it is cooked, a waiter brings it to the table.

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I don’t have a passport. I know that probably horrifies many of you, but it is true. I don’t like to fly. I dislike ships even more than planes. French restaurants might be as close as I ever get to France. And I am perfectly okay with that – for now. Maybe one day that will change.

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Sacred

At the risk of being cliche, today’s prompt made me think: Life is sacred.

Yesterday, I attended funeral services for a young woman, who took her own life at the mere age of twenty-seven-years-old. Her pain must have felt great. Her pain has ended. Pain, in the form of grief, has come to rest on her family and friends. The anguish her parents and young husband were feeling was palpable, sorrow invading their very being to its core. The feeling so pervasive that it crowds everything else out, until it alone survives. And yet, they shared stories about her life with humor and hope for the rest of us.

This is not the first time suicide has touched my life. The first time was in high school, when a very close friend chose to end his life. Since then, there have been others. And I don’t know why, but this is the third person I have known that died by their own hand this year. Two of them were mothers in their mid-forties. Thankfully, I have only been affected on the fringes, meaning no one in my immediate family has found this as the answer to suffering.

It isn’t my intention to judge anyone who feels suicidal or has attempted suicide, or discuss it at length. I don’t really understand it. My only purpose here is to encourage anyone who is contemplating suicide to pause and find help, or if you know someone who might need help, intervene before it is too late.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

The Daily Post Daily Prompt: Sacred

My Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude, family, friends, and too much food, if you are fortunate. I am grateful for these things, but I find myself spending this holiday with just me and my husband, for the second year running. Of all the holidays we celebrate in the U.S., it is my favorite.

Growing up, there was always a house full of family – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, parents, and siblings. Through many of life’s circumstances, that is not what my children experienced. We had smaller family holidays, usually spent with family who lived close enough to drive for the day. My husband and I are both from divorced homes. We have moved often. Our families have moved all around the country.

Our son, who lives almost nine hours by car, is spending the day with his wife’s family and an assortment of strangers, because his in-laws always open their home to people who aren’t with their families for the holiday. He texted to say he wishes he were here. I wish that, too.

Our daughter, who lives five minutes by car, is spending the day with my mother, step-father, aunt, uncle, cousins, and extended family. That is the family I grew up with and they have all moved south and are five hours away. There will be over forty people gathered to celebrate.

My mother called to say that she is sorry my husband and I will be alone for Thanksgiving. She wasn’t sorry enough to invite us. She likes to get my daughter and her family all to herself – in this case, with forty other people. I’m baffled. She has invited them in the past and tried to keep it a secret. Haha! My daughter and I don’t keep secrets. In spite of how this sounds, I get along with my mother, because I have learned to accept her. I can’t change her.

My father and step-mother, and my husband’s family, live too far away to drive there in a day. It has been a very long time since we have had a holiday with any of them. We will talk on the phone.

I am grateful for my family. I will miss them today.

Holidays stress me out, so you’d think I might be thankful for a quiet day with my husband. I have that every day. A little stress might have been welcome. We will be going to our favorite restaurant and a movie. It will be lovely. I am grateful.

Windows

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One of my favorite places I have ever lived was on the eighth floor in an industrial loft building. Above are the kitchen windows. To give you a little perspective, our ceilings were eighteen feet tall. The windows started a few feet off the ground and soared almost to the full ceiling height. Below is a photo of the windows from the outside of our loft. They are the thirteen windows that wrap the corner of the top floor. The last three windows all the way to the right side of the photo are the three windows in the above photo. I miss those windows and the great views of the river and the city seen from them.

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Windows

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Magic – Look Up

Magic is found in so many wonderful places. I tend to be a sky gazer, and if I just look up, I am often awestruck by the magical orbs and weather phenomena that can be seen there. Yes, I chopped off the top of the moon. Oops. Lots of energy was being spent trying not to shake. I piled a chair, stool, pillows and books in an effort to create a place for the camera. It shook even more than holding the camera in my hand. Haha!

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Last week, we had what is being called a Supermoon. It is when a full or new moon is at its perigee – its closest approach to Earth. This excited me enough to buy a new camera. Not feeling quite ready for a DSLR, I opted for a bridge camera; the Canon Powershot SX60 HS. I zoomed way beyond the len’s 65x zoom for the above photo. It is very flawed, but I was thrilled to be able to photograph the moon so that it is recognizable. I do not have a tripod yet, so there was a lot of wobble going on. The camera did help compensate. The above photo and the one below were taken about one minute apart.

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Below is yet another shot of the Supermoon over houses in our community. It was taken about five minutes before the two other photos. I took all of the moon photos through a window in my house.

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Even more magical than the Supermoon was a rainbow that appeared as I was leaving the grocery store this past weekend. It was a full bow, but I was driving in traffic without a camera. I grabbed my phone, an old Samsung Galaxy S3, and snapped a couple of photos through the windshield. It is a little blurry, but I really couldn’t take my eyes off the road to focus. It’s bad enough that I was trying to take pictures going around 40 mph. You will notice the cement Jersey wall to my right, not to mention all of the cars. I had to pay attention to driving. I do not usually use my phone in the car, but the rainbow was huge and it was beautiful. The photos don’t do it justice.

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I was lucky enough to stop at a red light for a minute. It was a double rainbow!

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The Daily Post Photo Challenge – Magic

Houses

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A farm house and barn in a valley near Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Houses and/or Barns

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The White House in Washington, D.C. It is where every U.S. President and their families live.

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Edgar Allan Poe House in Philadelphia. It is now a museum run by the National Park Service.

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Almost thirty years ago (1987-1990), we rented a hundred year old farmhouse. The house had a single addition; an indoor bathroom that was built fifteen years before we moved in (1972). Before that, the owner used an outhouse. This is a picture of the outhouse that was no longer in use, but still stood on the property. There were usually hay bales piled in front of it, where our children used to play. Behind it was a pen for the bull. Beyond that and down a slope was the cow pasture. It was a foggy day when I snapped this photo. I am still hunting for photos of the house.

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Local

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The photo challenge this week is to: Show us where your heart is. My heart isn’t really where I live, but that is how I interpret the word “local”. I don’t consider myself as someone who believes the grass is greener elsewhere; however, I do not love where I live. I don’t feel connected to this place.

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East of where I live is Washington, D.C.

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West of where I live is the Blue Ridge Mountain range.

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Between the mountains and here, there are a lot of wineries and horse farms.

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Between here and Washington, D.C., there are suburbs filled with endless houses, schools, shopping centers, people and traffic, because you can’t get anywhere unless you drive a car. I live in the land of minivans and SUVs. The one thing that characterizes this place more than anything else are the young families and lots of children. There are more than 80 schools in our town and they are always building more. I live in the land of more.

One of those children in the photo below is my grandson and he has my heart. He is one of the reasons I live where I live.

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This place where I live might not be where my heart is. It is where I am and that is okay.

The Daily Post Photo Challenge: Local