The Joy of Words

Dear Reader:

I have had one reoccurring dream since I first laid my eyes on St. Jude’s Chapel of Hope in Trust, North Carolina. I imagine myself standing in front of it in the snow.

Several years ago a magazine photographer apparently did just that… Admiring this beautiful scene-I can smell the snowy pines and smoke from a nearby campfire, see red cardinals playing in the snow and hear the beautiful melody of Greensleeves or What Child is This?

I always wake up just as I open the door to the Chapel pulling me into its comfort and joy.

I have a feeling that the one time I am allowed to stay inside that little Chapel filled with glorious music, light, and warmth… it will be at the end of my passing… awakening this time in my new home.

A God Wink… I ” randomly ” discovered a very special message from Bill Barutio ( builder and owner of St Jude’s Chapel) It was sent to me about a year after starting the post. I was so nervous reading it-afraid I might, in my zest to tell the chapel’s story, overstepped boundaries or offended someone-instead this is what I read.

Dear Becky

Last month I searched ” Trust, NC” on Google to try to get an update on events in that special spot that we called home for almost 20 years. I was directed to your blog, read the archives, and was inspired to contact you. Thank you for your eloquent and heartfelt entries that describe the sense that Beverly’s spirit of hope and courage are palpable in the little Chapel and its setting.

I was saddened to read that, as Beverly used to say, the ” annoyance of cancer” has altered your life again. Please maintain your positive attitude. My wife, Nancy, and I are praying for you. We will also ask our friend, St. Jude, to intercede on your behalf.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any help.

Thank you for your tributes to Beverly and for your promotion of the Chapel. Beverly always believed that the Chapel would have a ” life if it’s own.” I am sure that she is smiling down on your efforts to assure that it does.

With thanks and prayers for a speedy recovery.

I remain,

Very Truly Yours,

Bill Barutio


Even now, a decade after Bill Barutio, Beverly’s husband and partner in building St Jude’s Chapel of Hope-wrote this ” Blessed Assurance ” note to me… it remains in my heart and soul.

So until tomorrow… ” One kind word can change someone’s entire day” ( This message sure did)

Today is my favorite day. Winnie the Pooh

Don’t forget to say ” Rabbit” ” Rabbit” on the first day of the month-especially December! We all want a joyous celebration of the birth of Jesus-being watched and adored by a loving Rabbit!

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A Pause Between Holidays…

Dear Reader:

As I am writing this blog Monday afternoon… it is hard to believe I was still in mountains Sunday and in one day… my slower, relaxing mountain ventures have turned into washing clothes, unpacking and trying to find bags for all my ” katrillion” pumpkins inside the house and out.

I have made a conscious decision, however, not to let Christmas pressure me this year-as far as a time-table. Decorations will get done along and along… some things I simply cannot do by myself any more-so the tree will go up when it works out with my tree elves. Besides tomorrow is the first day of December-I have one more ” Be good to Boo Day-today”! ( Anne and I met at Oscars for lunch today and had such a blast … it has been a long time since we last ” hung out!”)

So visually the pause between Thanksgiving-and Christmas-looks like the calm before a storm -deceptively tranquil and bare except for light holiday pillows. So think of these pictures as the ” before” and in a week or so there will be the ” after.” Personally there is a certain beauty in the uncluttered before the decorations!

Pillows-the easiest decorations of all!
Ruthie, the angel doll, is patiently waiting to be placed at the ” tip tip top of the ” Perfect Christmas Tree.”
The big wheel is waiting on the wreath, the angels and smaller wreaths -to add color and greenery to the mantle!

The only Christmas decoration to date is this old homemade light that was made one year by students taking ” shop” at school.

So until tomorrow… And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul!

One Dingle family is ahead on the Christmas To-Do list-family Christmas photos!

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

HAPPY PAUSE DAY! Pick a day and Enjoy it!❤️

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A Thanksgiving for the Memories…

Dear Reader:

These days Thanksgiving transitions into Christmas or at least Christmas trees faster than you can get home from a Thanksgiving weekend.

My pumpkins are still waving at passerby street neighbors as their houses lit up last night with Christmas trees and decorations!

But that is okay because we got to see Highlands and our lodge tree lighting… Christmas came to us there over the weekend.

By now we know Clemson won big and that put a wonderful exclamation mark by out trip last night. In fact we stopped in Clemson and did some Christmas shopping on the way home.

We journeyed to two falls Friday-Dry Falls was right off the highway-Bridal Veils you had to walk down stone steps and there was black ice on several steps but with Tommy’s help I made it there and back safe and sound.

Back home… Rutledge and Lachlan ” manned” up and got their vaccinations and lollipops… while Eloise is getting ready for Christmas attire!

Will have to check in with John and Mandy to see how their holidays were -sure a lot of fun with the exception of that loss to Alabama-what a heartbreaker but also what fortitude-played their hearts out!

So until tomorrow… Goodbye Thanksgiving and pumpkins-welcome Christmas and the Christmas Star!

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

A wonderful local legend is revealed between Cashiers and Highlands while driving the curving roads-in certain months ( like November) the sun’s shadows produce outlines of animals … especially the BEAR!

All was so wonderful on our get-away and it ended that way last night as I fixed tomato soup and a hot grilled cheese sandwich! Home Sweet Home!

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Chasing Waterfalls-the Good Kind

Dear Reader:

Yesterday was nature day… a most beautiful one! Tommy, Kaitlyn and little Pip and Atticus ( the dogs) and I went chasing waterfalls.

The only treacherous part was holding on to the bannister down stone steps where ice was slowly turning to water. And there were beautiful icicles everywhere!

Here are some pictures – the kind you takes for lots of lasting memories !! Oops-no waterfall but Pip is fired up for Clemson!

Of course … once you go down… that means you have to climb back up! I was huffing and puffing-but did it!!!

So until tomorrow… the game is on… will be back tomorrow and back on track. Crazy WiFi up here in the mountains!

Today is my favorite day! Winnie the Pooh

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Baby It’s Cold Outside

Dear Reader:

Yesterday we witnessed a little miracle of nature but it will have to wait until all the photos come through and I get home-nature never ceases to amaze me. *** ( It just came through-will add at the end-👍)

Will put in some random photos -just know we are having fun and in love with Highlands-the town should have a bow on it!

So until tomorrow-the right picture popped up-the miracle sighting by Susan outside our rooms -a daisy survived the overnight freeze! There is always HOPE!

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh-Especially if Clemson is successful against Carolina! Tommy brought his lucky Tiger Rag!

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The Day After Thanksgiving and Still Thankful

Dear Reader:

Some WiFi problems but here are some pictures from Thanksgiving in the mountains!

So until tomorrow… May we all be thankful for life , family, and friends! So thankful!!!

Today is my favorite day! winnie the Poih

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First Gratitude, Then Joy

Dear Reader:

I fervently hope everyone is thinking about all the things and especially people who we are thankful and grateful for today!

I showed you yesterday a grandchild ( Eva Cate) turkey she made for me to bring to Highlands-I love it! I also love the simple idea of making a centerpiece turkey out of pine cones and add construction paper feathers on it-everyone takes a ” feather ” and writes down something they are thankful for and then shares it with the table.

Brene Brown discovered an “Aha” moment in researching the relationship between joy and gratitude. She went into the research thinking that the relationship between joy and gratitude was: if you are joyful, you should be grateful. She discovered she was wrong-it wasn’t that way at all.

In twelve years of research on 11,000 pieces of data, she didn’t interview one person who described themselves as joyful, who did not actively practice gratitude.

Actively expressing gratitude should be a daily ritual. Every day, not just Thanksgiving, we should let others know how much joy ( by just their presence) they bring us and actively share with others to list what things happened in each day that brought a sense of gratitude to it.

So until tomorrow… there is a great quote from a Jesuit priest that says: ” It’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful!”

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

Let your light be bright today!

Please keep Joan and WT Turner, John’s parents in your thoughts-they lost Mickey-the last in Lucy’s litter still living… Same time as last year when John and Mandy lost Tigger! But little Winnie is flying with the family this year to Joan and WT’s in Huntsville for Thanksgiving-hopefully she and the children can help fill up the vacuum temporarily. Happy Thanksgiving!

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It’s the Giving… Not Just Gathering

Dear Reader:

To gather simply means to come together or assemble …which can be good …but haven’t we all seen too many gatherings recently from entertainment stampedes to terrorist invasions of Christmas parades go terribly wrong-gatherings that started out happily turning into tragedies?

Thanksgiving has become synonymous with the word ” gathering ” -family and friends coming together to share food, news, celebrations and stories. A long-standing tradition in our country’s culture.

But just because we gather doesn’t mean Thanksgiving will be a fond memorable event-it takes everyone sharing their own unique stories and strengths to bring everyone else in the fold-activities that include everyone’s participation and acceptance.

I am looking forward to sharing time with my youngest son, Tommy and wife Kaitlyn along with her parents.. Susan and Butch. As close as we all live near each other… it seems that everyone’s lives are on high speed and the growing traffic in the popular Charleston area is an increasing hindrance to gathering as much as we wish.

So to have a few days to slow down and actually be able to ” talk turkey” is so appealing right now-especially this year.

We are staying at the Skyline Lodge in Highlands NC. I know it will be wonderful-and am taking my decoration to add to the table .

I want to take a moment to thank friends for Thanksgiving cards-here are Honey’s and Gingi’s -actually matching the garden arrangement!

So until tomorrow-using Dee’s message inside hers… May this holiday be meaningful, May happiness surround it, May good things fill your table, and May love bless those around it!

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

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Once in a ” Blue Moon”

Dear Reader:

On a cool foggy morning yesterday, Ted Parker, Brooke’s husband of 32 years was laid to rest. Thanksgiving Day is their anniversary.

Ted’s service will always be memorable for the personal stories told by his friend, Bill Young, the present mayor of Walterboro. It really brought home this quote:

… And yesterday the network had everyone chuckling with laughter. It brought back to mind the adage ” We are our stories-we tell them to stay alive.” So what we must hope for with our final send-off is that someone else will re-tell our stories for us. And did Mayor Bill Young accomplish that assignment with grace and knee-slapping humor!

It is told by different Plains tribes that children once were taught never to reveal their real names to strangers …because it was sacred. Instead they were taught early on to respond to the question with this response-” I am the story of myself.”

And yesterday we were regaled with stories about Ted that kept us all entertained immensely. Stories define us better than any list of things we did ever could.

It was while driving home that I realized time was running out for autumn trees and their leaves. Gusts of wind sent leaves scurrying across my windshield-to the point I had to turn the wipers on to see.

One fact many of us heard for the first time was that Ted loved the old song 🎶 ” Blue Moon” and would break into singing it anywhere at anytime. He had a rich baritone voice and loved impromptu serenades.

So as the recessional began …as we watched family and honorary pallbearers leave… there was definitely a little more ” giddy up” in everyone’s step as Blue Moon was playing throughout!

As I drove into my driveway… I slammed on brakes-my beautiful red pear tree had lost literally half of it’s leaves since I left that morning -just in time for Thanksgiving! By the time I get back from the mountains there probably won’t be a leaf left!

With the first frost possibility tomorrow morning I told my morning glories good-bye too! ( Just in case)

So until tomorrow… Brookie… Look what was blooming on the camellia bush, you gave me several years ago for my birthday… stunning-just for you …to cheer you up and remind you to continue blooming and living your future stories.

Today is my favorite day-Winnie the Pooh

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Jack Frost Nipping at Our Noses

Dear Reader:

Today is the last transitional day before the cold weather comes drifting in tomorrow. ( So glad for Brookie and family for Ted’s funeral this morning! )

The first Frost of the season is scheduled to show itself Tuesday and Wednesday morning and then myself, Tommy, Kaitlyn, Susan and Butch are off to the mountains for Thanksgiving ! So excited …so we will see a lot of Frost.

One good think about aging is that we start seeing past challenges-even in some of its most difficult periods -in a lighter context. We realize now that the ” sky wasn’t falling” and the world didn’t come an end! Even things that broke our heart.

When we get to the place that we can actually laugh or joke about it… we know the scab can come off permanently!

This time of year …with Jack Frost ready to make him his annual appearance, I have to laugh at one of my most embarrassing ” teacher ” moments … and believe me there were plenty.

It must have been a teacher work day or half-day, I and a teaching colleague went to Eva’s Restaurant ( I believe) for lunch. It was soon after school had started and I was excited about some great students I had and mentioned several names to her.

Suddenly my friend began waving at a man waiting to check out -he came over and she introduced me to him -saying that I had just mentioned his son’s name and how much I enjoyed teaching him!

We exchanged pleasantries and then I asked the father his name and he replied ” Jack Frost.” I burst out laughing and retorted ” Good one! I used to be Snow White… but I drifted!” ( oldest Disney joke on record)

He looked slightly startled but nodded , wishing both of us a good year and left.

I nonchalantly went back to eating until I looked up and saw my friend’s face… ” That IS his name” -where is that beach hole to China when you need it?

But these days.. it is one of my funniest memories… just needed Jack Frost to sew my mouth shut-forget nibbling at my nose!

So until tomorrow… No matter how difficult the dark periods in our lives are…joy, wonderful joy… will fill our human vessel again and again!

Rick, Harvey and Rick’s sister Janet came to visit Ben yesterday -I met them at Wellmore ( Ben’s friends from Conway) and we had such fun together! Thank you everyone for your kindness, friendship and time!

Here are some pictures from Kaitlyn’s birthday party.

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