“This holiday season, we’re throwing you a photo challenge color curveball. With this week’s challenge, show us what yellow means to you.”

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With or without Sharpie. Take your pick.

Who doesn’t want to know that we notice them and value them? And who might respond to us better when they feel that they matter? It probably cannot be overstated – it matters…that people matter. ~Steve Goodier~

ProjX WrappingThis past Saturday was a day that mattered for other people. People that I didn’t know. It was a day when a small church community came together to show how love is given freely to others, no matter their life’s circumstances, their outward appearance, or their behavior.

If you are suddenly in a cold sweat, ready to run because I typed the word church, relax and read on.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. ~Martin Luther King Jr.

I hate the word hate. It has a negative connotation that wrinkles my forehead. I would rather use “dislike,” although I must admit that I do hate liver and the cheeses of goat, bleu and gorgonzola. Blech. When it comes to the human being, however, I refrain from using the “H” word. I cannot bring myself to utter the word, even when I bring up the ex-husband or someone in the news who has committed a heinous crime. It’s not in my nature and I’m not fond of how hating a human being makes me feel.

In The Blog’s article, Toxic Emotions can Lead to Serious Health Problems, Dr. Cynthia Thaik talks about the effects of anger and hate on the human body.

Anger and hatred are natural, but they are also some of the most toxic emotions that we can have. Feelings of rage and hatred build up in the mind, body and soul, affecting the body’s organs and natural processes and breeding even more negative emotions. Prolonged bouts of anger can take the toll on the body in the form of high blood pressure, stress, anxiety, headaches and poor circulation.

I “hate” feeling anger or loathing about another human being. In my opinion, there is no purpose in it unless you really enjoy the toll it takes on self. Hating brings about terrible ills in society – physical abuse, emotional abuse, racism, discrimination, murder and war. Why one human chooses to hate another, rather than love them, is often incomprehensible to me. Perhaps I’m a softie and one of those “bleeding hearts” that the ex-husband used to label while he angrily rambled on about someone who did him wrong 30 years ago. He was, and still is, a bundle of anger and hate.

Hate carries beyond our own angry soul. When we hate, we spread hate to our children, family, friends and neighbors – continuing the negative cycle to those who listen – and creating victims of the innocent and those who understand love. Consider the people in this video from the University of Leicester, UK, and how hate and non-acceptance affects their lives.

I spent Saturday morning shopping for a family of three – mom, dad and their 11 year-old daughter. The family has no home of their own, living with a woman who has shown generosity despite her own poor living conditions. It became known to our team of two that dad had been thrown in jail that morning, the circumstances unknown. It would have been easy for us to feel hate or contempt toward this man after having purchased items from his list with the community’s donations.We could have easily taken the “how dare he?” path and left him with nothing at Christmas.

But that’s not how it works.

Within my church community, I see an outpouring of love toward all humans. I see non-judgmental giving, even when dad is in jail or mom can’t conjure up a “thank you” when gifts are delivered to her doorstep. As Christians, our community embraces scripture from Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

If you’re sweating again, so sorry. I’m almost done.

The point here is in bold above. Love your neighbor. Or neighbour if you live in Australia. Nachbar if the couple across the street live in Germany. Vecino in Spain. 隣人 in Japan. Love your neighbor in any land, under any circumstance. How would the world change if people stopped using the word hate toward their neighbors and other human beings? Would it make a difference? Would it bring about a wave of change?

Obviously, there is hatred around the world that may never go away or will take many years to disintegrate. The terrorist organizations and its people that hate and commit atrocities, like the Taliban in Peshawar, swim in the darkness. Excluding the word “hate” from their vocabulary will not help them. It will not save the rest of us. Unfortunately, they only know hatred and murder and they pass it on to their children. I do not know the resolution…how to bring these people to love all humans rather than make plans to murder.

Perhaps it’s a matter of starting with self – making the effort to hate liver or Monday mornings, but love the guy down the street who lets his dog poop in your yard; or the micromanaging boss; or the store manager who won’t give you a credit for the hot pink leggings that Aunt Susie bought you for Christmas. It’s my opinion that the more one loves, the less one feels a need to hate. The more one opens their hearts to people of all countries, ethnicity, and situation in life, the more that one understands that we are all one people – messy, imperfect people.

In this holiday season, whether or not Jesus is the reason you celebrate the holidays, find it in your heart to love. Love others.

Show the human race that they matter.

 

I was thoroughly surprised on Sunday by an early Christmas present from Red.

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So were Gibbs and Ziva, much to their delight.

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These two have only left their places on high for food, a drink,

a poop or an occasional go at the small red dot.

Thank you, Red, for your gift of friendship.

That hug? It wasn’t long enough. You rock.

It appears that I have a few extra minutes to rectify the shortcomings of a fuzzy reblog for this week’s photo challenge.

From Christmas, 2013 – A twinkling tree of red and gold, plus a little mischief.

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Any guesses why the ornament was purchased? (Hint: One word, five letters, starts with G)

 

bikerchick57:

Two reblogs in one week? Say it isn’t so! Where’s the original writing, the original photography? Well, I have justification – another busy and hectic holiday weekend complete with time in the kitchen, time with mom, and wrapping gifts at church for families far less fortunate than myself. So, in response to this week’s photo challenge, I am reblogging a post from December 6th…the soul of a cat and the twinkle of a mesmerizing ornament. Happy Holidays!

PS: If the photos in the reblog appear blurry to you, please check out the original post.

Originally posted on Mary J Melange:

“Being the spirit of the house is somehow built into the soul of the cat

the way joy itself is sewn into the word Christmas.”

~unknown~

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bikerchick57:

I don’t usually reblog my own posts, but here goes. I thought it appropriate since I just spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday baking seven different cookie recipes; running to the store every day for missing ingredients; and doing dishes until I puke. New this year in the cookie artillery is a lemon crinkle recipe that is extremely messy, but only requires four ingredients: Lemon cake mix, one egg, an 8 oz container of Cool Whip, and powdered sugar. They are extremely yummy and I shall be making them again next year. Give me anything with lemon and I’ll love you forever! Anyhow, if you enjoy baking and have a favorite cookie recipe (holiday or otherwise), feel free to post a link to it in the comments. I’ll start…

http://kitchenmeetsgirl.com/lemon-crinkle-cookies-guest-post/

Originally posted on Mary J Melange:

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Today begins Cookie Baking Extravaganza week! WooHoo!

I have started baking Christmas cookies for my friends and family (and a few for myself). Today’s blog post is merely a break in the action (my back needs a rest).

It’s an annual event that I start in early December so that I have time to get the cookie varieties packaged in tins and a couple of boxes sent to my brother and his girlfriend.

Today, I passed on church in favor of an early morning swim and a start on the “let’s throw flour everywhere” process.

Last year, I tried a few new recipes. Only one deserved a repeat performance. The remainder of my baking set list returns to the annual favorites – those that always get the “thumbs up,” the cookies that are “expected”.

Chocolate Crinkles… (it’s chocolate!)

Outrageous Peanut Butter/Oatmeal/Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies… (Good-for-you ingredients)

Date Bars

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“Being the spirit of the house is somehow built into the soul of the cat

the way joy itself is sewn into the word Christmas.”

~unknown~

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Ziva Tree 009

In this week’s photo challenge, show us what “gone, but not forgotten” means to you.

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Never forget the summer.

It’s memory is dear -

biking, hiking, communing with nature.

Picnics in the park, flowers on the balcony.

The smell of grass and the glow of campfires,

light up the soul and the landscape.

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The season warms the heart

and makes us angrily sweat,

then leaves in the blink of an eye.

Never forget the summer,

ever.

lest you LOVE winter.

January          Gibbs Sun

Polar Vortex? I do not know the meaning, only that the human has cursed those two words since the beginning of December, 2013. It sounds awful, like hell on earth, and the cursing usually occurs as the human walks in the door, literally shaking. This polar vortex must be out there, somewhere along winter’s landscape, holding court with the snowflakes and ice. I press my nose against the patio door window and am surprised by how cold it feels. Brrrrr. After a shiver, I slink back to the couch and take my tenth nap of the day. I’m so tired…

Human has been searching for a part time job. She says it’s because the Queen and I eat and poop too much and all of her extra money goes toward food and litter and dangling toys. We are being blamed for living. I am insulted. I need to eat and take a nap.

February

The human’s incessant whining about the cold and snow is becoming pathetic. I wish she would shut up. Why doesn’t she stay inside where it’s warm? Instead, human goes to her regular job, out to see her mom and friends, and hang with others that worship a non-feline God.

Oh, and human has found something called a chocolate martini. Again, I do not know the meaning of these two words, but it seems to make her happy.

March

The human has terrible cabin fever. When at home, she constantly sits at the computer and watches TV when she could pay attention to ME. The human prattles on about how she’s been “blogging” for a year and the definition of another word escapes me. Blogging? Is that like The Facebook? I don’t understand. What I know is that she laughs hysterically every time she sees a picture of a grumpy cat. Hmpffff. Pay attention to ME.

The Queen is sleeping and eating her way through the remains of the cold season. I think she’s getting fat.

Spring came around toward the end of the month and human mumbled something about hope and moving. The latter scares me. I believe there’s more to this moving than getting up off the couch to fetch my dinner.

April

I feel like I’m two again. I do not know why. Perhaps it’s the spring air that is occasionally allowed to enter through the big glass window. I want to howl and jump and act like a fool (more so than normal). I wish the human had a bigger cave. I need to run.

May

The moving word comes up again. Without warning, the human starts putting her possessions into boxes. Every day, bit by bit, boxes are taken away or the human takes things to a place called “St. Vinnys.” Is the human offering sacrifices? The Queen and I are confused. Our home seems to be going away and we don’t know why. The human keeps telling us that soon we will be moving to our new home and we will love it. What is moving? Do I really want to know?

I guess I found out. The Queen and I are in a strange place. It smells funny. There are strange noises. There is another human living here. This is weird. I’m not sure if I’m anxious or excited. I cannot seem to relax at the moment.

Meanwhile, the human talks occasionally with a bad English accent and flails her arms about. I always suspected she had a split personality.

June

There are birds everywhere. Birds by the dozen. Out in the field. On the rooftop. Fluttering around the window. Making lots of noise. Birds! I find myself jumping at shadows and alarming the other human. The Queen sits and cackles at the birds, I try to figure out how to catch and eat them.

It is a frustrating month as I am overstimulated by birds and burdened by rules. I must obey rules or be fired upon by a stream of water. I do not like the stream of water. If I wish to be wet, I’ll go swimming in my water dish.

July

More birds. More rules. The weather is nice. The human goes camping (I know what this means and I wish she would take me along as I am certain I would delight in exploring the outdoors). The Queen and I are getting used to this new place, although I have discovered sticky mats on the kitchen counter tops. They are keeping me from my nightly investigation of places that are forbidden with the daytime rules.

August

The human’s family came to visit and celebrate another human’s 95th birthday. It seems odd that any living animal could live that long. I hope to make it to my 15th birthday…everything after that is chicken gravy.

The human is gone quite often these days. She puts on her knickers and excitedly talks about “riding the trails.” I see her (from the window) attach a two-wheeled contraption to the back of a four-wheeled contraption and leave for hours and hours. I don’t know what she is doing, but much like the chocolate martini, it makes her happy.

The Queen and I were humiliated today. We were placed in these boxes, then in the four-wheeled contraption, and taken to a place that smells funny. Once on a metal table, a strange human came in and poked at me and stuck something up my butt. The Queen was not happy and neither was I. This was a horrible experience and we were both thrilled when our paws met the safety of our home.

September          Gibbstired1 

I feel a change in the air that comes through the window. The number of birds in the field has increased dramatically of late. Our human tells the other human that autumn is on its way and they must enjoy the last remaining days of summer. That translates into the humans putting on their knickers again and leaving for three days while the Queen and I lay around and do nothing. It’s the human’s birthday this month and I wonder if she bought herself a tuna cake or chicken as a gift to herself. I know that’s what I would do if I were human.

Oh, and the human is excited by something called football. I do know this entails lots of loud yelling in front of the TV. The Queen and I stay in the bedroom as the human scares us when she jumps up and down and screams DEfense!

October/November

Don’t judge me for lumping these two months together. My paws are becoming sore from typing and I’m trying to wrap things up for 2014.

The outdoors is colder. Much colder. I don’t know how the human survived her Halloween party, dressed in a short skirt and feathers. The silly human scared me with her mask. I thought she was a robber or something. I tried to tell her it wasn’t funny, but she just laughed. I’m still trying to figure out how to get even.

The Queen and I spend more time sleeping. There isn’t much else to do since the birds have left and our patio time is extremely limited. I discovered this white stuff out on the patio the other day and found it absolutely delightful. The human said I made a snow angel. I’m disappointed that she didn’t see it was a Picasso-inspired creation. Artists are never taken seriously!

The humans put up a white lighted tree in the corner of the big room. It’s shiny and beautiful, but I’m not allowed to chew on it. I was trying to floss my fangs when a spray of water came my way. I hear “no” quite a bit from the humans and am frustrated with their attempts to stymie my outgoing personality. They are fuddie duddies.

December

There isn’t much to say since it’s early in the month. The human hasn’t been happy with me. I have been banned to the bedroom at night because she says she cannot trust me alone with the counters and tree at night. She calls me incessant. I am saddened by this news, but I do not give up. I let my human know at 4 am that I am displeased with this situation by incessantly consistently pawing at the door or pawing at her head. She tries to calm me down with water, but I am determined.

Wait a minute…what are those dang sticky mats doing here?

The Queen and I plan to sleep, eat and poop through the rest of the month. I hear rumblings of more human visitors at the end of this month, which means there will be others to pay attention to ME. My own human isn’t always good about that. She is more interested in baking cookies, singing songs about two guys named Santa and Jesus, and leaving us to run about doing who-knows-what. Bah-humbug.

There’s always hope in 2015 for things to improve. I wish everyone what I wish for the Queen and I: Plenty of play time, a human’s touch, lots of chicken and treats, birds by the window, a soft bed, clean litter box and no drooling dogs, spraying water or sticky mats.

(The prior ramblings have been shared due to the recent writing challenge.)

They’re magical, those elves.

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They converge when you least expect them,

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leave elfin snowflakes in their wake,

dress the hallways in glitter and sparkly ornaments,

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and silently leave in a flash of light.

Red came over early in the week to decorate the tree. This year’s theme: Elegant black and gold.

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It is spectacularly beautiful, far more than photographs can relay. The remainder of the festive decorations are up, including a gathering of Santas and two flamingos on the patio – colored green and gold and numbered 12 and 52. Go Pack Go!

Thursday, was Feed-Your-Face Day or Thanksgiving.

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I eat like it’s my last meal – turkey, stuffing, mashed taters, green bean casserole, harvest salad, lemon coconut cake and anything that contains pumpkin. As much as I don’t care that I overeat, I always feel like this afterwards…

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Yup, fat and comatose.

I’ve been on vacation since Thursday and it has been somewhat non-stop: Going to the movies, shopping for cookie baking ingredients, finishing the decorations, visiting with mom, taking care of the laundry, etc. Natasha and I will soon be out the door to enjoy dinner with her daughter and a good friend. More gorging! And when we return, I’ll either be baking the first batch of mouth-watering Christmas cookies or watching Star Trek DS9 reruns on Netflix. Or perhaps I’ll do both! Sunday promises to be the same – go here, go there, do this, do that, watch football.

This is how the holidays start.

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He beckons to go out

Placing soft pads and retracted claws on window

Repeatedly

Consistently

Okay, out you go, gray moggie

Out into the lengths of snow

That covers three-fourths of the patio

He exits and stops short of the white edge

Sitting on the brown

Looking

Staring

Questioning his next move

And then the soft pad tests the white

A nano second passes

And the soft pad quickly retracts

Disturbed

Confused

A decision is soon made

The soft pad finds ground again and stays

Confusion turns to exploration

The other soft pad joins in

He moves forward

Into the layers of wet, white snow

Amazement

Wonder

What is this?

He becomes born again, kitten anew

Digging, pawing, moving snow

The soft pads and legs in motion

Until he is finished

The gray one turns, eyes on her

Look! See what I’ve done!

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Pride

Accomplishment

It’s the rough draft of a heavenly creature

A first snow angel

A first foray into snow, never to be the last

Moggie takes a final look

And places soft pads and retracted claws on window

He beckons to come in

After all,

It’s kind of cold out there

Chilled