When Our World is Full of Sunshine, Someone Else is Experiencing Life's Darkest Storm

Sunday, July 15, 2018
 Even in your brightest moments, it's good to remember there is someone experiencing their darkest storm.........

This was one of the tranquil scenes John and I were experiencing last Sunday afternoon as we drove the back roads of Fulton and Montgomery Counties.  These roads are often the direction we head when we're in need of some recharging, some quiet, some peace.  It's on these roads we are able to get back to basics and soak in the simple gifts God has provided.....the beauty of the landscape, the deep blue skies dotted with airy, drifting clouds, an expansive view of the amazing world we live in.  It's a place where we can observe the most faithful and simplest living people, the Amish, on their farms.  On Sunday it's not easy to spot them compared to other days of the week when you can see them plowing the fields, milling lumber, tending their crops.   Sunday is their day for worship not work.  Only the little children at play are in sight on Sundays.  You don't see miles of laundry hanging on clotheslines on this, the Sabbath day.  It's a strong reminder of how it used to be decades ago when Sundays were family days, when stores and gas stations were closed and we surrounded ourselves with family, friends and fellowship.  We slowed down and took a pause to savor the important stuff.

It was probably one of the prettiest days we've seen in recent weeks with the clear blue sky, low humidity and bright sunshine.  Scenes like the one above - so beautiful it almost made me breathless with joy and gratitude.  Riding along it felt the world was perfect and peaceful.............yet no matter how beautiful our view, not everyone was enjoying the same kind of day.  Not everyone was feeling the same peace, the same serenity, the same 'all's right in the world' kind of day we were enjoying.  My peaceful afternoon came to a screeching halt when my cell phone rang just as I passed this tranquil view.
Last week some very close friends of our family closed on the sale of their house on Saratoga Lake and began their journey to Alabama where they were beginning a new chapter in their life.  Al & Veronica were moving to Alabama to be near their daughter, Charlene, and four granddaughters.  They had purchased property and planned to build a home right in the same development of Wetumpka.  On July 5th they began the long drive to Alabama.  They arrived on July 7th, a day that should have been the start of a wonderful new adventure, but before the day was done life would take a drastic turn and what should have been a day of celebration turned to the darkest of tragedies. That evening Charlene's husband shot and killed Charlene, shot their three triplets, poured accelerant throughout the house, started it on fire then shot and killed himself.  Thankfully their oldest daughter escaped.  One of the triplets, Cadence, died from her injuries, the surviving two, Patricia and Katherine, who were shot multiple times, underwent surgery and are recovering.  Hearing my mom relay this story as we parked along the side the road felt like something out of a dream, a terrible, horrible dream.  Stories like these don't happen to people we know, they happen to strangers on the news or in t.v. dramas.  They don't happen to wonderful friends, happy families, beautiful children, wonderful moms.  But according to the news my mom was relaying, that's exactly what happened, a beautiful mother, wife, teacher, Air Force veteran lost her life to the hands of her husband - a 20 yr. Air Force veteran.  According to the published press, illegal drugs may have played a part, but what is wrong with our world today that people can become so distraught, so insane that they'd take the lives of their own flesh and blood.  How does a father shoot his 12 yr old triplets multiple times?  How does this happen?  As I edited the photos from this day I noticed something that sort of illustrates this.   In this first photo, everything looks perfect and in tact.......no problem here.
When we look closer, we realize nothing is in tact...

In fact, it is obvious that things are about to implode and soon collapse, not unlike so many folks walking around today.  Are we missing the signs?  Are we ignoring the symptoms?  How can we fix this broken world where people can look fine on the outside but be so broken on the inside?  Something has to be done.
But, in the depths of despair, in the darkest of times, that's when people come together. Friends and strangers come forward to support, to love, to pray, to mourn.  The local community where Charlene lived has come together to mend the brokenness and help put the pieces back together.  A furniture store is donating a bedroom set for each of the girls, a gas station donated a year's worth of gas, a rent-free home has been donated for the time it will take to build a new home, and a Go-Fund Me has already collected $46,000.  Many other fundraising efforts are also underway in their local community.  None of this will bring Charlene and Cadence back, but I know that the love and support is helping Al & Veronica face the challenges that now lie before them.  Nothing can help their broken hearts, only time and God's grace.  I struggled all week about whether or not I should tell this story.  I didn't want to prolong the pain of the event, but in the end I felt it was important to share because it demonstrates that tragedy doesn't just strike 'other people', it also strikes people we know and love, people who don't deserve it, people who have spent their lives doing things for other people.  Bad things do happen to good people and in this case, terrible things happened to some of the best people I know.  If you feel moved to help this family out, I'll leave links at the end of this blog.  I'd ask that you keep all of them in your prayers tonight - Al, Veronica, big sister Adrianna and recovering triplets Patricia and Katherine as well as the rest of the family who are helping during this difficult time.  Life can be cruel and unfair.  It can test our will, challenge our endurance and test our faith.  I don't know why things like this happen and I so wish they didn't, but my faith assures me that God has a plan and I know He'll be present as this plan unfolds.  A God who created a world as beautiful as ours, a God who created people as good as Al and Veronica, does not desert us in our hour of need.  Please keep them in your prayers and look for links to donate at the end of the rest the images from of our ride.

To Donate to the Orsi Family:
Redland Elementary School's Parent-Teacher Organization is accepting monetary donations for the family. Checks need to be written to “The Orsi Fund” and mailed to the 
Redland Elementary School at 495 Scholars Drive Wetumpka, AL 36093
A card drive is also underway to offer encouragement and support to the sisters. If you would like to participate, cards can be mailed to the:
The Gab Salon and Spa, 
102 SW Main St #A,
 Wetumpka, AL 36092

Shades of Tranquility at Shades of Green in Charlton NY

Thursday, July 5, 2018
Gardening is the work of a lifetime:  you never finish.
-Oscar De Laurenta

I'm pretty sure Wynne Trowbridge, the master gardener and architect of Shades of Green can relate to this quote.  If you've been visiting Shades of Green for a few years or more, like I have, you know that this enchanting garden is a never-ending work of art evolving from year to year, improving where one wouldn't imagine any room for improvement.  We made our annual visit to Shades of Green last week - just before the heat wave arrived, thank you very much, and no matter how many times I visit, I'm always awe-struck with the beauty within this shady piece of heaven.

If you happened to read my earlier post about my landscape project this year (https://www.lifeasiseeitphotography.net/2018/05/one-yard-several-gardens-and-two.html), you might remember that I felt confident that this year's visit to Shades of Green would be easy on my wallet since I have no room for any more plants.  I'm here to give full disclosure.......I might have lied, or at least shared some overly optimistic thinking.  If you've already been to Shades of Green, you would have realized how unrealistic my prediction was and you probably laughed at my lofty expectation.  And you would have been justified in doing so because I did not leave empty handed and let's be honest.... I never do, and I highly doubt anyone does.  And why would you???  That being said, purchase or not, visitors to Shades of Green take away so much more than a trunkful of green goodness.  They take away serenity, a slower pulse, a ton of inspiration and maybe a few mosquito bites.  Have you figured out yet that I love Shades of Green?  Who wouldn't?  Shades of Green (http://www.lotsahosta.com/) is so fabulous, this year they are part of the Secret Garden Tour of the Saratoga Soroptomist International!!  But that's a secret.....so shhhhhh!  For more information on that (this weekend, shhhhhh) you can click here: https://soroptimistsaratoga.org/node/91  For a little preview of what visitors will see, here's a few ;) photos of our visit:

Look closely at the big guy loitering on this leaf!!

Charm in a Potting Shed

Hostas for as far as the eye can see......

Lime Ruffles Coral Bells

I went home with three small size hostas: Pure Heart, Mighty Mouse and Church Mouse, along with the Lime Ruffle Coral Bells which I potted in an old urn with this stunning sweet potato vine....

What a spectacular shopping venue, right?  I'll take it over the box stores any day....awesome quality at competitive prices, set in the most magical of settings!  Whether you garden in sun or shade, whether you garden or not, you can't miss a visit to Shades of Green.  I promise it'll have you searching for a patch of shade anywhere in your own yard or patio.  You'll find more than hosta at Shades of Green. You'll find loads of Heuchura, Brunera, Astilbe, and many more shade loving plants. Shades of Green is located in Charlton NY at 2036 Cook Road and is open Tues-Saturdays.  Check the website http://www.lotsahosta.com/ or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Shades-of-Green-Nursery-) page for specific hours and information.  Thank you Wynne for always making our visits feel like time spent with an old and dear friend and for not holding me to my word when I say I'm only here for a visit ;)  You know me well enough to know that would never happen.  Now that the heat wave is over, make a date to get over to Charlton soon, maybe even this weekend for the Secret Garden Tour!  Thanks for stopping by for a visit to Life As I See It.  I hope you'll be back soon and will share today's post with your shade and gardening loving friends!

Cruising Saratoga Lake Aboard the General Schuyler, The Perfect Saratoga Experience

Sunday, July 1, 2018
 Well it would seem that summer has arrived....officially on the calendar... and by the sweltering temperatures we're experiencing.  Meteorologists are in their glory with high heat warnings, historical statistics and possible record breaking temperatures to talk about....for seven days straight.  Unless you're one of those who live for this steamy kind of weather, you're probably looking for ways to stay cool either inside an air conditioned space or perhaps in or near the water.  If you know me, you know my heart is always happy near a body of water so we spent Friday evening at one of my happy places - aboard the General Schuyler cruising Saratoga Lake with the Adirondack Cruise & Charter Co.  Scenes like this one are guaranteed therapy for anything that ails me and especially when nothing ails me.
Great Blue Heron atop what's left of the old railroad trestles 
If you're a regular reader, you've probably read my previous posts (see my Directory) about the Adirondack Cruise & Charter Co.  If you're a newby to the blog, don't worry, I don't mind repeating myself when it comes to things and people I love.  And I love the fact that I don't have to own a boat to enjoy the beauty and relaxation of being in the middle of my old home view on Saratoga Lake.  It's one thing to drive around the lake, another to be able to sit on the shore but it's entirely another whole level of enjoyment and contentment to sit back and soak up the fresh air and lake breeze as you cruise along  the center of such a scenic body of water.   You don't have to be a tourist to enjoy a cruise aboard the General Schuyler.  I grew up on Saratoga Lake and I enjoy each and every cruise - and I learn some new tidbit about the local history each and every time.   Whether they're locals or tourists, folks enjoy kicking back and relaxing aboard the 1900 replica fantail launch.

Deckhand Jack helping narrate Saratoga Lake history!
Deckhand Jack (l), Captain Anthony (m) and Captain Hal (r)

This is the third year for the Adirondack Cruise & Charter Co. bringing back public cruises on Saratoga Lake. Hal Raven, a Captain on some of the bigger cruise ships on Lake George, began his public cruises on Saratoga Lake in 2016 with the Kadeross, a  22 ft. pontoon boat. Cruises were popular with locals and tourist, especially their sunset cruise and their coffee cruise up Fish Creek. That wasn't enough for Hal though. Hal had a dream of bringing history back to Saratoga Lake, reviving the old days when the Steamboat Alice sailed the lake in elegant style in the early 1900's. Hal finally found his dreamboat (literally) in Wisconsin and wasted no time bringing it to Saratoga Lake last summer.  Cruising aboard the General at 7 mph provides a shaded, smooth and relaxing ride for it's passengers.  During the course of each cruise Captain Hal or Captain Anthony or Captain Curtis, tells a very comprehensive history of Saratoga Springs and its beautiful lake, points out local landmarks and notable sights along the shore.  Most of this 'organized' portion of the trip takes place during the first half of the cruise. All the Captains have a wonderful and warm hosting style which results in their guests feeling quite relaxed. By the time the boat makes its turn to head back to the north end of the lake, passengers are usually milling about, chatting with the other passengers, and generally just soaking up the experience.

The Adirondack Cruise & Charter Co. offers a variety of cruise options from afternoon cruises, sunset cruises, even moonlight cruises as well as specialty cruises for viewing the Fourth of July fireworks, dinner cruises, coffee cruises and even private charter cruises. Looking for a special employee recognition event, maybe a bachelorette party, surprise engagement venue? The General Schuyler is just your venue! Whether it's one of their regular cruises or a private charter, the Adirondack Cruise & Charter is ready to accommodate your special event on one of the most beautiful lakes in New York State.  But it doesn't have to be a special event.....it's also the perfect ending to a long, hectic week.  What better way to unwind and usher in the weekend?  What a great way to entertain out-of-town guests?  Pack a snack, grab your shades and make a reservation to cruise the lake in old-world charm. If you're looking for more scenes like these, check out the Adirondack Cruise & Charter Co. today.   Regular cruises normally run Wednesday - Sunday.  Reservations are required.  Links to their Facebook and website are included below:

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