Nature

MY BIRTHDAY PARTY

Hi Friends!

I just turned 55 years old and had a fabulous party at Kensington Metropolitan Park in Milford, Michigan with my human bestie, Pat Petroline, and many of my wildlife and barnyard friends. I enjoyed the photographs so much that I compiled them into a video slideshow featuring all the images from the day, set to the song, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

I just love it and I hope you do too.

All my best to you, friends.

Sweet dreams.

 

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Categories: Animals, Holidays/Birthdays, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

PURE MICHIGAN MAGIC – Look Closely

Here is my first narrated, 2.30 minute slideshow featuring my voice (eeek!), some beautiful music, and my favorite wintery Michigan photographs.

Please take a moment and share with me. Thank you!

http://youtu.be/DZy-Jd6bBLU.

xoJulia

Categories: Downriver/Detroit, Michigan, Inspiration/Motivation, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

ONE STEP BEYOND

Can you imagine how dull life’s travels would be if all the roads were straight? WINDING ROAD

I used to feel anxious and off balance by life’s many twists and turns, and navigating them was as much fun as trying to drive through quicksand.

But I know that beautiful and astonishing discoveries are not going to come and find me at home on my sofa where I am safely tucked away in my comfort zone.

I have to take a deep breath and put my uncertainty aside. I have to make the effort and physically leave the house.

I have to take one single step . . . beyond the familiar.

I have learned that with a new point of view, a few tools, and a little practice, that these twists and turns, these disruptions and deviations, can teach me fun new driving skills and lead to wonderful and exciting experiences.

Instead of anxiety, I call it excitement. And instead of fearing the unknown, I now seek it. And embrace it. I celebrate the newness and am giddy with anticipation.

Sometimes, the greatest joy is in the journey . . . and the destination is just a happy consequence!

Categories: Adventures, Inspiration/Motivation, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

SOME LIKE IT HOT

SOME LIKE IT HOT.

Categories: Humor, Nature, Physical Health | Leave a comment

WHY LIVE IN OKLAHOMA? I KNOW WHY!

WHY LIVE IN OKLAHOMA? I KNOW WHY!.

Categories: Family, God/Spiritual, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Nature | 2 Comments

WHY LIVE IN OKLAHOMA? I KNOW WHY!

I have never been to Oklahoma, but my niece lives there with her husband and three children. She tried to tell me once how special the people are, and being a Michigander and just a bit miffed, I said something stupid like, “Honey, we all think that of where we live.”

oklahoma-map

The State of Oklahoma highlighted on U.S. map.

I didn’t know . . . so much.

I’m embarrassed to say that until I Googled this map, I didn’t really know exactly where Oklahoma is. My uneducated impression was that it looks hot and dusty, has lots of snakes and big spiders, and gets a lot of tornados.

I could never wrap my brain around the whole tornado thing, even when I see them on television. I just can’t imagine.

moore-OK-5-20-2013

Then, on May 20, 2013, it hit a little closer to home. Moore, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City, was hit with a monstrous cyclone, called an EF5 tornado. It was 1.5 miles wide, traveled approximately 210 miles an hour, and was on the ground for nearly 44 minutes.

It was a monster.

It tore through tracts of homes, two schools, and a hospital. And it killed 24 people. Nine of them were at Plaza Towers Elementary School, of which seven were very young children.

Oklahoma Tornado

The destroyed Plaza Towers Elementary School is seen in aerial photos during a mission flown by the Civil Air Patrol Sunday, May 26, 2013, in Moore, Okla. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel).

Thankfully, my niece and her family were safe. We talked that night for three hours.

We cried together in relief. And for the fear she had felt for her husband who was out working and almost didn’t reach a shelter. And for her in-laws who were away and didn’t know if they had lost their home or their cherished family dog. We cried for the children. And for the heroes.

I waited until the next day to watch the news coverage. It was heartbreaking.

Journalists interviewed residents wanting to hear about the massive storm, their near escapes, their fears, and their heroic stories. And they wondered, as many of us Americans have:

Why in the heck would anyone want to live there?  

I don’t wonder anymore.

I know why.

They call it The Heartland. And the Bible Belt. And there’s something to all of that.

I watched the interviews and I heard some incredible stuff.

There was a man and his wife standing in front of a pile of rubble that was once their home. It was just flattened. There was nothing recognizable. They stood in front of the camera looking dusty and winded and grey. We would expect them to be overwhelmed, exasperated, and emotionally devastated. And they were. But there was something else.

I listened to the stories; teachers lying on top of children and using their bodies to protect them from debris, a neighbor getting harmed trying to help another neighbor, emergency help being right there immediately afterwards. In interview after interview, I saw the same people, with different faces, saying the same things over and over again.

They were devastated. And they were standing in front of the wreckage that used to be their living room, or bedroom, or bathroom.

“It is just stuff.” They said.

Long before the government appeared or produced any help, the many Churches of Oklahoma had already hit the roads with food, water, supplies, and help. They were ready. And they didn’t waste a minute.

“I thank God that my family is safe.” They said.

Some of them ran towards the storm, knowing that their help would be urgently needed.

“We were much luckier than others were.” They said.

It just blew me away.

I cried as I heard the stories.

But I was never so proud to be an American as I was watching them.

They are so genuine and humble, so strong and devoted . . . and so grateful.

And although I am quite the liberal gal, and I imagine these Bible Belters to think quite differently than me, none of that matters. Not a bit. We could all learn a lot from them.

They are our fellow Americans.

They are Oklahomans.

And they are a beautifully unique breed of something I have yet to see anywhere else.

“It is just stuff.” They said.

I’ll never forget those words.

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TO HELP THOSE IN OKLAHOMA:

American Red Cross

The American Red Cross has several shelters open in Oklahoma and Red Cross Emergency Response Vehicles have begun delivering hot meals throughout the affected areas. The Red Cross is also working to link loved ones in Moore who are OK through a website called Safe and Well. Text REDCROSS to 90999 to give $10 to American Red Cross Disaster Relief, donate online or by phone at 1-800-RED CROSS.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is activating disaster response teams and mobile feeding units to help residents and rescuers in Moore, as well as in other locations in the Plains and the Midwest that were impacted by tornadoes. Donate online or text STORM to 80888 to contribute $10 to the Salvation Army’s relief efforts or make a donation by phone at 1-800-SAL-ARMY. If you’re sending a check make sure you put the words “Oklahoma Tornado Relief” on the check, and mail it to: The Salvation Army, P.O. Box 12600, Oklahoma City, OK 73157.

AmeriCares

AmeriCares has a disaster relief team working with first responders and local health care organizations on the ground in hard-hit Oklahoma City suburbs. Shipments of water, medicines, and emergency aid have been sent, with more shipments underway. You can help by donating through the AmeriCares website or by phone at 1-800-486-HELP. Text LIVE to 25383 to make a $10 donation. You can also mail a check or money order to: AmeriCares, 88 Hamilton Ave., Stamford, CT 06902.

 

Operation USA

Los Angeles-based international relief agency Operation USA announced it’s providing emergency aid where needed to community-based health organizations across Oklahoma. Donate online, by phone at 1-800-678-7255, or by check made out to Operation USA, 7421 Beverly Blvd., PH, Los Angeles, CA 90036. You can also donate $10 by texting AID to 50555. Corporate donations of bulk quantities of disaster-appropriate supplies are also being requested.

Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief

Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief says it has deployed at least 80 volunteers to respond to severe weather in Oklahoma. Those interested in helping can make a tax-deductible donation to the BGCO’s Disaster Relief ministry online or call (405) 942-3800. You may also send checks to: BGCO Attn: Disaster Relief 3800 N. May Ave. Oklahoma City, OK 73112.

Feed the Children

Feed the Children, which is headquartered in Oklahoma City, has transported bottled water and food to the impacted area. The organization is accepting diapers, canned goods, non-perishable food, snack items, water, sports drinks, and cash donations. Text “Disaster” to 80888 to make a $10 donation. After receiving a confirmation message you must type “yes” to complete the donation. Cash and corporate donations can be made online or by phone at 1-800-627-4556.

Samaritan’s Purse

Samaritan’s Purse, which provided relief to residents of Moore after the devastating tornado in 1999, deployed two Disaster Relief Units from their North Carolina headquarters before dawn on Tuesday. One will be based in Moore, and the other in Shawnee. Samaritan’s Purse is looking for volunteers to help with the relief effort. You can donate online or by phone at 1-800-528-1980. To give by mail, please send donations to: Samaritan’s Purse, P.O. Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607-3000.

Save the Children

Save the Children is mobilizing staff to provide support, relief and recovery services to communities and families in Oklahoma. The organization is prepared to deploy their Child Friendly Space kits in shelters, creating safe play areas for kids. They are also ready to deploy infant and toddler hygiene materials to support young children displaced from their homes. Text TWISTER to 20222 to donate $10 to Save the Children and help the response effort. You can donate online or call 1-800-728-3843.

Operation Blessing International

Operation Blessing International, a Virginia-based humanitarian group, is deploying to Moore, after working on tornado relief in Granbury, Texas, following last week’s storm there. A caravan of OBI emergency equipment was sent to Moore, including a construction unit, mobile command center, trucks full of tools and supplies, and a team of construction foremen. You can donate to the group online or donate by phone at 1-800-730-2537.

PLEASE DON’T FORGET THEM. THEY NEED OUR HELP. THANK YOU.

Categories: Family, God/Spiritual, Inspiration/Motivation, Kindness & Compassion, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

IN A GARDEN . . . AS IN LIFE

We don our gardening boots and floppy hat

and brave the sweaty burning sun.

.

With aching knees and blackened hands

we love the dirt

that nourishes all our promises.

.

From the coldest winds

and driest heat

we protect our unborn bulbs

with acceptance

and a smile.

.

And long before she bursts open

and into glorious song

already we are in love

with the dream.

.

In a garden . . . as in life

our toiling makes no guarantee

of fairness or reward

.

but we do it anyway . . . on faith.

.

And sometimes . . . we are allowed

to glimpse

the gloriousness of a precious petal

only to have it

.

quickly fall away.

.

That is when

we must close our eyes

to see the flower.

LEAF TEARS upclose

Dedicated to all Mothers suffering the loss of a child.

Categories: God/Spiritual, Grief/Healing, Nature, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments

PRECIOUS WATER LILY

A water lily is born in the darkness beneath the water, and grows upward, reaching towards the light. When it arrives at the surface, it is there that it blossoms . . . in the sunlight.

Similarly, our grief is born in the darkness of loss, where we struggle in our hopelessness to find the light again.

When we reach the surface, that place of bitter/sweet sad acceptance, it is there that we begin to grow.

The sun may not feel as bright, but it is still warm.

And although we are not the same as we once were . . .

WATER LILIEScloseup

. . . we can still blossom again.

In our grief we may be overcome by the emptiness and pain of our loss, and isolate. We want to seclude ourselves from what we need the most; the care and comfort from those we love.

It is good to say the words . . .

WATER LILIESblog

“I am not alone”.

 

Categories: Grief/Healing, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , | 36 Comments

WOULD I GRIEVE A SUNRISE?

Driving in my convertible, my hair goes wildly to the wind; I honor his birthday with my display of freedom and my disregard for someone else’s thought of it.

The Angel Statue silently greets me, surrounded as she is by a hexagon of paving bricks.

I kneel.

“Happy birthday, sweetie. Mamma’s here.”

006

For many years my grieving was trapped internally; tearing at things as it bounced about trying to find its place.

Today, I wear it on the outside . . . let it breathe and know the air. Without pride or care of observation, I come and kiss his name. It isn’t sad. This memory brick is like a Christmas tree.

CHRISTMAS TREE

Not meant for quiet repose in a solitary heart, it longs for light and decoration, and celebratory songs to warm it. It is in the sharing that the greatness comes.

Would I grieve the sight of a beautiful sunrise . . . because the rising is done and it is now a new day?

“Sunrise in Petoskey, Michigan”, by Julia Kovach.

*****

For more information on the Christmas Box Angel Statue and the DECEMBER 6TH CANDLELIGHT VIGIL at Angel Statues across the country, please read, “An Author, An Angel & A Healing Brick” at: http://wp.me/p2ckKM-nx .

Any may God bless all our baby angels and the ones who have lost them.

*****

Categories: God/Spiritual, Grief/Healing, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , | 25 Comments

SOME LIKE IT HOT

I don’t.

As a youngster, I enjoyed the winter, but looked forward to the summer. Now that I’m older, summer is too hot and winter is too cold. Sheesh. Seems like an old gal just can’t catch a break.

This past week, Michigan’s heat wave has been one for the books. Ugh . . .

Towards the end of our first record-breaking day, with temps of 102 degrees, my electricity went out. Just like that. Done. Over. Nadda. Adios TV, adios lights, adios air conditioning.

Hello humidity . . . humility . . . heartache. Okay, maybe not heartache, but a lot of whining, for sure. Why does this always happen to me?

“Lord, you’ve mistaken me for Job! I’m Julia!”

After groping in the grey for a power bill with a phone number, talking to a computerized automated system for several minutes, and waiting through an unimaginable hold time, I was told that a power restoration time could not be estimated and that I was free to call back for an update. I was left pitifully powerless. 

The heat had its affect on all of us.

Allie did this:

Baxter did this:

And I did this:

And this:

And this:

(I would’ve done THIS anyway!)

I tried reading by candlelight but the air got thicker and I started to panic, so I settled for a restless sleep.

During the night the power came on; the television blared, the floor fan whirred, and the air conditioner purred like a beautiful baby kitten.

I thanked God, (and DTE Energy), smiled, and went back to sleep.

In the morning, I awoke and realized something disturbing; I can’t survive without air conditioning! I’m a  modern girl, a whimp, a lightweight! I admit it! I don’t have a tough bone in this calcium deficient, decrepit, old bod.

It got me to thinking: Who invented air conditioning?

So I Googled it and this is what I learned.

In 1902, only one year after graduating from Cornell University with an Engineering degree, a young Willis Haviland Carrier was challenged by a Brooklyn printing company to solve their temperature and humidity problems. Carrier carried us into a new era with the invention of the first reliable and stable air conditioning unit that addressed humidity control.


(Employed by the Buffalo Forge Co. for a starting salary of $10.00 PER WEEK.)


Other temperature-sensitive industries, like tobacco, breweries, bakeries, and food processing plants, were quick to prosper from the new invention.

In 1924, the first “human cooling”, (rather than industrial cooling), units were installed in the J.L. Hudson Store in Detroit, Michigan.

And in 1928, Carrier developed the “Weathermaker”; the first residential air conditioner. Yay!

So today, it is with enormous gratitude that I dedicate this week’s blog to my new hero, Willis Haviland Carrier, who is soley responsible for my spoiled and luxurious 21st century survival.

I raise a glass to you, Willis; your insight and ingenuity have allowed me to live healthy, happy, comfortably, and . . .

Categories: Humor, Nature, Physical Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

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