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Sleeping-Do Not Disturb

23 Mar

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

Christmas 2015 I gave my husband a life altering gift and the interesting part is that I gave it to him on a whim. Here is the story.

Our granddaughter loves drawing  and painting so each Christmas we give her some form of art supplies. I usually pick them up through out the year when they are on sale. This particular Christmas, I realized that I had more gifts for her than our grandson and we all know that wouldn’t play well. What to do…? Then I remembered that my husband had been taking “night” art classes, as in while he was asleep. Apparently, the voice tone of painter Bob Ross lulled him to sleep. So on aforementioned whim I wrapped the art supplies and put them under the tree.

Christmas morning he was quite surprised when he opened the gift, but he thanked me nicely. Fast forward to January 29, 2016. He was bored and decided to pull out the art supplies and play with them. This is the result.

I think we were both shocked. His success set him on course to actively pursue learning about painting. He watches videos while he is awake! He is also mentored by our friend, DiVoran Lites. I think he is getting better with  every painting and sometimes I am stunned when I walk past his open door and see what he is creating. I particularly like this one he painted last week. I am thrilled with his newly discovered talent. He has always wanted to be able to capture life on canvas, but never dreamed he could.

All of this led me to wonder whether our sleep and or dreams do affect our waking life. I am beyond blessed to know without a doubt that God loves me. I have mused in the past on what my parents did to instill this into my heart. Looking back, I think it came to me while I was sleeping.  As a small child, I found church service made me sleepy, so I would lay my head in someone’s lap and take a nap while the good news of God’s love and Jesus plan for salvation was spoken. Plus, my parents attended a weekly prayer service that was held in someone’s home. They called them cottage prayer meetings.There would be a lot of singing and praying and I would find an out of the way place, my favorite being under a coffee table, and fall asleep. I have vague memories of feeling the  hymns wash over me as I drifted in the half awake/half sleep state.

Science tells us that sleep time is when the body repairs itself. So it stands to reason it can also be a time when our brain carries out its unique functions. Sleep matters and so does what we listen to while we sleep!

Just Twelve Items

2 Mar

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

Just twelve items per family. That is all our church food pantry is able to give to families in need and it breaks my heart. And yet, the women and men who come are so darn appreciative of just twelve items. One woman was thrilled to get a dozen eggs. She was wanting to make her family a caramel cake. I asked if she had a recipe for it and she pointed to her head. “It’s all up there, if i can remember it, I haven’t made it in so long.” Eggs are a new addition since I worked in the food pantry last winter and they seem to be a big success.  The face of a child lit up, when he saw the eggs. “We get real eggs!”

My job this week was to greet people, assist them in choosing their items by answering questions, then bagging the groceries up and offering help to their car. I was fascinated watching them make their choices. Some knew exactly what they needed, while others browsed. I enjoyed the woman who was planning meals as she put items on the table. She exceeded the limit on soup, but there was no way I could bring myself to disrupt her plans. Imagine planning your meals for the week around just twelve items.

One of our regular ladies brought someone new. As she was showing her around, she placed an arm on her friend’s shoulder and said, “this is not food from the government, this is food from the people.”  We are a small church and went three years without a permanent pastor and many members left. Last December our food pantry ran out of money and our shelves were bare. We are working hard to connect with business in the community to help us serve our neighbors. Another option is asking friends to consider setting up a food donation box in their workplace. It may not seem like much, but just twelve items make a difference in someone’s life.

I don’t take pictures at the food pantry so I decided to share one of DiVoran’s lovely paintings.

mockingbird

Fishing Therapy Part 2

16 Feb

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

Because my brain begins racing as soon as I wake up, I have asked God to give me a scripture or song to start my day in a grateful mindset. Last Thursday morning I was given the word joy. My first thought was oh boy, what will I face today that I need to count it as joy.

 

We had planned to try out the fishing at Port Canaveral but I wasnt feeling  energetic so we changed our fishing plans and went back  to the park close to home.

A beautiful family from Ecuador stopped by to talk and we enjoyed communicating with my high school Spanish and his pretty good English. Then they went to have lunch under the pavilion.

 

boatramp-pavillion

 

A few minutes later, the little boy around 4 yrs old and his sister around 8 came running up to me with big smiles. The little guy had a fresh chocolate covered glazed donut in his hand for me. God’s joy gift can come in many forms, today it was in smiles and my favorite donut!

This fishing trip resulted in actually catching some fish. I caught a whiting, which is my favorite for eating, a silver trout and my husband caught a speckled trout. We didn’t keep them as they were too small, but it was fun catching them. Even though we tried to be gentle, the trout after swimming away, showed up floating on the water, I wanted to believe it was resting  and I was upset when the gulls tried to make it their lunch.

The fishing reel I use is a bait caster and over twenty years old. It is having some problems. I think I am going to go back to my favorite reel for fishing in the river, a Zebco 33. It’s kind of like having a reunion with one’s first love.

Something scary did happen during our outing. I had placed my phone in the drink holder of my bag chair so I could listen to the radio. It was very windy and when I stood to reel in my line, a gust blew my chair over and my phone went flying towards the water. My heart sank. Then I realized I could faintly hear my phone and when I looked over the side, I saw my phone lying on a boulder. My husband went down on the rocks and retrieved it. I feared the screen would be broken but it was fine. I thanked God for this and added another item to my lessons learned list.

This week we won’t have a chance to fish. I will miss it.

Fishing Therapy

9 Feb

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

My family ended up in Florida on the advice of my dad’s doctor. I know, you folks who are digging out of the snow today are wishing your doctor would advise the same. Sorry, but this was 1954 and doctors at time recommended salt air for people with bad lungs. Now they give you an inhaler.

Back in January when we were in North Carolina, my husband came down with a sinus infection that left him with a harsh and lingering cough. After we arrived in Florida for the winter, I decided to try the old-fashioned remedy that worked so well on my dad, Fishing Therapy. When we moved to Florida in the early 1950s, my dad found work in Orlando. It was not close enough to the coast to get benefit from the salt air so for almost every weekend in my memory, we loaded up the car on Friday night or early Saturday and drove to the east coast to fish. It seemed to help my dad, so why not try it on my husband?

We decide our first therapy session should be someplace that would not require a lot of walking so we settled on a park at the local marina. We didn’t catch a single fish but it was a beautiful day and the salt air was wonderful.

There were a number of sailboats anchored offshore and beyond the bridge the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly Building can be seen.  There’s something about the joining of high-tech space flight and nature that fills me with wonder and contentment.

I saw these birds in the boat ramp parking lot as I was on my way to the facilities. Something about them flocking together in the parking spaces tickled my sense of humor.

bird-parking-lot

We enjoyed our day and I think it helped with his breathing, so we embarked on a second therapy session, this one at a park closer to home. The wind was brisk and cool, which I love.  As a child, both my husband and I had spent many hours fishing and playing at this spot when it was a wide open space with no facilities. I must say I do appreciate the comfort of a restroom.

I caught a tiny fish and a blow fish. My husband caught three horseshoe crabs.

 I had my heart set on having fresh fish for our supper and this day’s catch wouldn’t feed Rebekah’s cat, so after cleaning up, I went to our local fish market, Wild Ocean. They were out of the type of fish I wanted, so I changed my plans and bought two pounds of Cape Canaveral large white shrimp. Oh my, they were good!

The entire front wall of the store is covered in a this mural. If you should be traveling on US Highway 1 be sure to stop in Titusville and check out the murals downtown. You might want some fresh seafood too. Wild Ocean will cook it for you. Take a look at their menu.

mural-at-wild-ocean

I Have Questions

2 Feb

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

On a recent shopping trip to our local produce market, I found Kiwi on sale, 10 for $1.00. As I chose ten of them, I joked with the man putting them out that if I ate all ten of the kiwi super fruit, I would live to be 150 years old. It seems that I get emails everyday touting the latest superfood. But I have questions. How many of the “super foods” does one need to eat, to be super?

fruits

During blueberry season this past year, I purchased two quarts from a local berry farm. I think I may have eaten almost a quart the first day. A week later I had some scheduled blood work and the results were the best I have had in years. Does this mean I need to eat a quart of blueberries a day?

I visited the American Heart Association page and it listed some super foods but except for fruits and veggies, It didn’t tell me how many servings I would need to be super. They recommend 4 ½ cups Fruits and veggies. I can do that!

From there, I decided to give WebMd a shot at enlightening  me.  The second food on their list is blueberries. It seems I over did it eating a quart of them. WebMd recommends ½ cup per day. If I eat them every day, they will lower my risk of heart disease, cancer and inflammation. They also mention them being helpful in weight loss. I can debunk that one.

Tea is a listed super food. I guess it makes sense to provide a beverage to wash down all these things I need to eat. Does it make a difference if it is hot or cold? I do live in the south, so this is an important question.

Let’s talk about fish. It seems I need to eat 2-3 servings per week of salmon, mackerel, herring, or sardines. How do I determine a serving?  Sardines are a lot smaller than salmon and mackerel.

Speaking of fish, tomorrow is THE DAY. The universe has aligned, the winds are perfect, the temperature not too hot and we are going fishing! We got our resident fishing license renewed last week, put new line on our poles and we are ready! Now I just have to figure out if the fish we catch qualify as a super food since they won’t be caught in cold water.

Like I said, I have questions.

PS How could I have forgotten this? DARK CHOCOLATE is a super food! There was a caution against eating it in large quantities. Gee, this is one instance when a vague guideline makes me happy, happy.

cat-with-glasses

How do you manage to fill your daily meals with super foods?

After the Snow

12 Jan

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

We had seven inches of snow last weekend which is a lot for our area. It took four days for the snow and ice to melt and . I  enjoyed our quiet time of being surrounded by snow It was a good feeling to have everything we needed here in the house without needing to leave home, but it was also good to be able to join the world again.
During our snow days I read multiple Christmas romance novellas for entertainment. It seems in romance novels, a person’s heart  thrums instead of racing or pounding when one is near their beloved. I told Rebekah the word is banned from her writing.
 I am going through Jesus Calling again, this year. Wednesday’s reading about storing up treasures in heaven, presented a new way to think about treasure in relationship to trust. By trusting God in the daily non-crisis times, we are storing up coins of trust in heaven so that when storms come, my trust balance will be sufficient to see me through.
I have been thinking about the young people who seem to be without a trust account and need the current “new thing” safe spaces. They are a generation that has been taught nothing is absolute. Rather they have been set free to decide truth on a minute by minute basis. How tragic for them.
Ok, that is my deep thought for the month.  I am looking forward to our transition to Florida for the winter. We are blessed with good friends there, but I will miss my friends and family here in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. I am hoping that Rebekah’s latest book will be released sometime in April and we can celebrate with a Tea.

Life After Christmas

5 Jan

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

I am emerging from my Christmas fog. It began in mid December when I succumbed to a sinus infection. Since I am rarely sick, I spent quite a bit of time in denial. That might have been a contributing factor for the fog. Suddenly, it was Christmas, then Christmas eve. I do remember that we had a lovely Christmas morning with our children and grand children, then the fog descended once more.  I emerged again to celebrate our daughter’s birthday with a drive to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

The trip had been planned for several weeks but after the fires roared through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and down into Gatlinburg, it took on a poignant mood. We drove through one of the hardest hit areas, Chalet Village, and the devastation was heartbreaking. Out of respect for the owners and those who had lost loved ones, we did not take pictures.  If you would like to volunteer your time to help the hurting families, visit Volunteer East Tennessee

We ended our day in Pigeon Forge at The Island. The two big restaurants are The Timberline Grill and Paula Deen and there is an assortment of shops as well as an area with a carnival atmosphere including one of the new Eye rides. It is very pretty at night.

The Island

Two days later we drove to one of our favorite places in Franklin, Wayah Bald. Wayah was one of many National Park areas that were targeted for arson during November and December and we were anxious to see how the park fared. We knew that the roof on the fire tower had burned, but we were unprepared for the extent of the damage to the Flame Azalea plants as well as the smaller trees that lined the path. It was also odd to see green foliage next to burned tree trunks.

 I do clearly remember New Year’s Eve. We spent the evening with at least fifty talkative cousins, aunts and uncles. I love them so much! I have high hopes the fog is gone!

Snow is predicted for tomorrow night. We haven’t had snow yet this winter so I am excited and I have the required milk and bread! Hopefully I will have some pictures and a story  to share next week.

If you are in the path of the storm, stay safe and warm. If you are in Florida, you might want to pull out that sweater you seldom have the chance to wear.

coffee-cup-snowman

Christmas Dinner “Take Out”

15 Dec

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

The Christmas dinner I wrote about last week, gave me an unexpected “take out.” I didn’t ask for it and would have gladly left it there, but alas, it was somehow sent home with me and for the next twelve days I found myself changed into a cough factory. To complicate matters, I decided to bring out my stubborn panties and refused to see a doctor. After nine days, I waved the tissue of surrender and visited a walk in clinic. And voila, three days later I am on the mend.

As I am writing this, the sweet Holy Spirit tapped me on my heart, reminding me that the nasty cough is a learning opportunity. The next time I get my panties in a wad, don’t wait until I am miserable before taking the problem to the ultimate physician.

Ok, moving on… At our home in the North Carolina mountains, I like to celebrate the seasons and my favorite way is with an entryway display. I am not a crafty sort of person. Well, I can be devious, but I am talking about being crafty in an artsy sort of way, so this is a stretch for me. Over Thanksgiving I asked Rebekah to help me do something special for Christmas. I have an old Windsor chair that is the central piece. ( I think my mother rescued it from a trash heap)

Usually, I add a woven basket and fill it with shiny Christmas ball and pinecones, but this year I wanted to change it up. Our town in Florida recently was blessed with a Hobby Lobby store and the abundance of Christmas stems had me itching to use them.

I wanted the items in the display to have a story and as my mind make a mental inventory of items I could repurpose, I remembered a butter churn that came from my grandparents farm. It was old and dull and the paddle was broken. It lived at my parents home. One year my mother and husband worked together to give it a fresh coat of paint and fashion a new paddle. They gave it to me as a Christmas gift, a labor of love and I have treasured it. I decided it would make a perfect “vase”.

Rebekah helped me choose white, glittery poinsettia to go with the rather dashing red and green spray-ish  stem I had chosen to give it height. In some leftover Christmas supplies I found  red mesh ribbon and we tied it around the churn and attached a glittery bow ornament. ( Can you tell I am in a glittery phase) Now the poor paddle looked naked and lonely, so I rummaged through discarded tree decorations and found some tightly wound tinsel. We wrapped it around the paddle handle and it looked good, but was missing something. Rebekah pulled out a tree topper that was too heavy for our current tree. It is made of beaten metal and the lights gleam through Mickey Mouse ear shaped holes. Perfect!

For the chair, I decided to use a precious quilt a friend had made for me out of pieces of my mother’s favorite clothes.  We spread it over the chair, then placed a white stuffed bear, a discard from a grandchild, on the seat. I thought he looked a bit bare, so I went through drawers and found a pair of Sponge Bob Square Pants Christmas boxers. They were used one Christmas when the whole family wore Christmas PJs.  I slid them on and although they are too big and droopy, I like them. Memories are better than making a fashion statement. We added a Christmas pillow and a couple of small stuffed friends and the display was complete. It certainly is not elegant but the glow I feel when I pass it, makes it beautiful to me.

christmas-churn-copy

If you look closely you can see the star lights on the paddle top, peeping through the shiny stem.

Ten days until Christmas!

Let the Christmas Fun Begin.

8 Dec

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 Whew!  The Christmas season is upon us and I feel as if I am five steps behind.  We are going to a Christmas performance tonight, put on by our local theatre company, but I wanted to tell you about our ladies Christmas dinner at our church, last Friday night.

Since moving to the mountains (well part-time moving) I have been blessed to attend my churches Christmas ladies dinner. It is an outreach to the women in the community and is totally free. We fund raise for it all year.  It is a fun affair and men in the church volunteer to serve and clean up. However, the women of the kitchen staff do the cooking ahead of time.

This year I volunteered to help. My job was to put tomato sauce and cheese on top of 180 servings of cream cheese pasta.  The servings go into individual dishes to make it easy for the men to serve. Once they were filled  we tucked them into a large warmer oven. It took me most of the day and I was tired!

dishes-copy

Other ladies of the church volunteered to decorate tables, using their personal Christmas dishes and decorations. They were so pretty!

During the dinner, my husband worked in the kitchen getting the food to the servers. He said it was chaos! Imagine a group of men all scrambling to get hot food out to the ladies. We had four courses, French onion soup, cranberry salad, main course with roll and dessert. It was a challenge and I think the men did a fabulous job.

Once everyone was served, the men brought out coffee and Russian tea for us to sip while we listened to an inspiring speaker.

As you can imagine in a room full of ladies, there was a lot of cheerful noise. I loved every minute and look forward to next year.

I would enjoy reading your story too. What kind of fun activities are you enjoying?

UPDATE: In the beginning of this story, I mentioned husband and I were going to a Christmas performance. We arrived in PLENTY of time to get a good parking space. As in 24 hours early! Yes, I had the date wrong.  Can I blame it on the cold meds I am taking?

I Like Black Friday Sales Events

1 Dec

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

It seems to have become cool to bash people who participate in Black Friday shopping, Well, I am not ashamed to admit that I enjoy Black Friday shopping. The critics bemoan the greed and commercialism, while feeling superior that they don’t partake of such activities. My answer is good for you! Last I checked there was no law requiring one to participate and I respect your choice. Now, how about serving up a helping of respect for people like me, who do enjoy it?

Black Friday shopping began for me, as a way to get a lower price on items I wanted for my children’s Christmas. We didn’t have a lot of fluff in our budget and I found that by being a savvy shopper, knowing the regular price of the items on my list, I could save some dollars.

As the years and our finances evolved, I no longer shopped the sales every year. Plus the internet made it easier to find deals.  I began going to the sales again about five years ago after we purchased a home in a small town in North Carolina. Wal-Mart was offering a 32 inch televisions for ninety nine-dollars and we needed one for our new home. Our son was looking for a television too. The four of us, my son, daughter in law and daughter decided to give the sale a try. My husband, having been traumatized by a Kmart  sale in years past, volunteered to stay home with the grandchildren. It turned out to be a fun and memorable experience. The store was well staffed with friendly associates and an orderly system was in place for distributing the items. It was a very different experience from what you see on the television and created a happy memory. Since then, my daughter and I have ventured to the department store sales in Florida and overall they have had pleasant experiences.

This year, we were in North Carolina for Thanksgiving. We decided to go to the Thursday evening sales. It was interesting talking to the  folks who were working. When asked if they had been able to celebrate with their families, all  of them said yes and no one I spoke with was upset about working.

As i mentioned before, our home is in a small town, so it was an easy drive to shop in the four main stores. In the first store, while looking over a display of laser Christmas lights, we encountered another mother-daughter team looking at them too and we discussed the merits of the laser. Throughout the rest of the evening, we ran into this team in every store. By the end of the evening, I wanted to invite them to go with us for hot chocolate…but I didn’t. I watch too many crime shows.  : )

Ten years ago, we were on a cruise ship over Thanksgiving and the cruise line decided to offer Black Friday shopping.  A group of tables were arranged in a square outside the shopping area and merchandise  rested under paper covers until the official start. Once those covers came off, people went crazy. Those standing next to the tables began scooping up piles of shirts and other articles, without even looking at them. When their arms were full, they moved  next to a wall and began sorting the items. I was horrified that people could act in such a way. I don’t know why some people go crazy at these sales. Maybe, for them, it is greed.

I have friends who can’t imagine living in a small town, but I wouldn’t trade the lifestyle for any big town I know. I guess I am a Green Acres kind of woman…without the farm and chores!

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