Days of Political Civility?

U.S. Capitol Old Senate Chamber
Old Senate Chamber at the U.S. Capitol

One of the best tours I’ve had in Washington, D.C. was recent at the U.S. Capitol.  It’s always nice to go back and hear of the efforts, struggles and successes of our democracy. 

U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I especially enjoyed seeing the legislative seats from the past.  I tend to ponder how civil they were back years ago compared to the debates (mostly bickering and arguing) of today.  I’m sure there were some heavy discussions back then but maybe they accomplished a lot, ensuring the best interest of the nation.

Old Senate Chamber in U.S. Capitol

To me, there is something special about the old senate chamber.  Can you imagine the conversations and debates in this respected meeting place? 

During the senate’s residence in this chamber from 1810 to 1859, it grew from a small advisory council to the primary forum for the great national debates of the mid-19th century—an era known as the Senate’s “Golden Age.” Here the “Great Triumvirate” of Senators Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, Henry Clay of Kentucky and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina fiercely debated the issues of slavery, territorial expansion, and economic policy affecting the new nation. The Senate became the sounding board for the nation, and its galleries were packed with visitors hoping to witness these memorable proceedings. In this chamber senators forged a series of compromises that held the Union together in the four decades prior to the Civil War.  (Check out more of the history at https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/art/resources/pdf/Old_Senate_Chamber.pdf)

A good video of the senate chamber is provided by C-Span at https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4633919/senate-chamber.

Do you think the debates in the old senate chamber were different from the debates in the current senate in the U.S. Capitol?

Blessings and love along the way,

Ron

What’s red in winter?


Poinsettias surround the display of natural resources at the U.S. Botanic Garden, depicting the U.S. National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Where were you thinking? I was thinking about the red-flowered plant called the poinsettia, typically used as a Christmas plant?

The poinsettia is native to the tropical forest of the pacific coast of southern Mexico.  There it grows as a large shrub reaching up to 30 feet in height. It blooms in late fall after the rainy season ends.    

Poinsettias
Photo of information poster at the U.S. Botanic Garden and Conservatory in Washington, D.C.

The plant’s common name refers back to Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. minister to Mexico.  He sent seeds and samples of the plant back to the U.S.A. back in the 1820s.  (Information obtained from the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.)

During the 1800s the poinsettia was a greenhouse curiosity often used as a short-lived, but distinctive, red cut flower.  It wasn’t until the 1920s and 1930s that additional colors were discovered and brought into the trade 

In the 1960s the introduction of varieties that produced bushy, compact plants led to mass production and marketing. 

Intentional radiation exposure of the poinsettia tissue in the 1980s resulted in mutations and mixture of color as well as new growth forms we have today. 

There are currently more than 100 new cultivars in development.  I still like the old-fashioned red color during the winter though. 

Do you have a poinsettia?  Here are a few tips to care for the plant beyond the winter season, according to HGTV.  https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/flowers-and-plants/poinsettia-care-through-winter-and-beyond

Warm and Bright: It may seem strange due to their holiday connotations, but poinsettias are tropical plants. Provide lots of sunlight — a sunny window with east, west, or southern exposure is best. Also try to keep the temperature between 65 and 70 degrees F during the day, keeping in mind that the area around a drafty window can be quite a bit cooler than the rest of the room. If your plant’s leaves are touching a cold window, they may drop off. At night, poinsettias like a slightly lower temperature (55 – 60 degrees F), but avoid drastic drops in temperatures.

Hydrated and Humid: Make sure to water the poinsettia whenever the surface of the soil feels dry. Give the plant a good watering, but don’t flood or soak it.  Gravel in the bottom of the pot will help keep the roots dry. If your home is dry during the winter months, a humidifier or plant mister can help your plant stay hydrated.

Prevent Leaf Loss: If your plant starts to lose leaves, there are a few likely culprits: is the plant resting against a cold window or near a draft? Is it too warm or dry in the room? Is the plant thirsty?

With correct care, poinsettias can be encouraged to re-bloom next holiday, but it’s a touchy and time-consuming process that not all poinsettia fans are prepared for. Choosing the right poinsettia for a long-term commitment and carefully maintaining it after Christmas is over can help.

Blessings and love along the way,

Ron

Starlight

Sunset rays through a tree near the national Christmas tree in Washington, D.C.

Is there ever a time when light doesn’t overcome darkness?  I know some would debate this.  However, this was my thought after looking at the photo from one of our grandchildren during our recent visit to Washington, D.C. 

Each state within the U.S.A. was represented by an array of trees decorated in unique designs. Atop one tree is a star illuminated with the sun, practically not noticed through the camera’s eye.

As I ponder this image, I think light shining so bright.

The one who is Light of the world has indeed come, whether we accept it or not.

The one who loves unconditionally lives today, not contingent on our belief. 

How far does the light reflect shining from afar?

It permeates the universe – down to the micro abode.

Some light provides singleness of color, lighting the ornaments scattered around.

While some lights provide color – like in a tree – for those who behold.

The Light that came into the world still shines as bright,

Unless we cover it to diminish its way.

May we accept the light that shines today,

And not hide it under a basket, nor suppress its glow.

But let His Light shine throughout our being,

By simply accepting the gift of Light and Life within. 

The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1 NIV)

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  (John 8:12 NIV)

Let the Light of Christmas and this special holiday carry over in our lives as we reflect true Light and Love to others about us. 

Blessings and love along the way,

Ron

Holiday special – replica train depots and life

Salt Lake City Union Pacific Depot , Utah

One of the unique items I found at the U.S. Botanical Garden in Washington, D.C. was a varied display of train depot replicas made with natural materials. Combined with these depots were trains running throughout the display area.

I really liked the festive, natural environment around the displays – with all the holiday color and excitement. Take a look.

Don’t you enjoy the hometown feeling as you look at this artwork and seeing the trains move about the tracks? There seems to be something magical about trains. They tend to let us escape from our stress a little – maybe giving us a sense of taking a trip.

Here is a little video clip of the various trains in the U.S. Botanical Garden and Conservatory.

Replica of Union Station in Washington D.C., made of natural materials

Also, while walking through the Union Station in Washington, D.C. we liked their decorations in the central hall. Travelers were scurrying about to reach their destinations. They appeared to like the festive displays, which provided a little brightness in their day.

So, let’s take a ride and escape the pressures – enjoy the beauty, enjoy the season – remembering the efforts God made to bring peace to this world, allowing us to cast our cares upon Him.

Yes, life gets busy, especially during occasions like Christmas and various holiday celebrations. But, let’s not forget to pause some, enjoy the ride, the sights, the sounds of life all around.

Each of us has our own spiritual thoughts and beliefs as we all have freedom of choice. I choose to believe in and trust in the one born to give us abundant and eternal life – Jesus Christ. We can have peace and love, even in the midst of the traveling and the stress of life.

Where is your train depot and which journey do you want to take?

Blessings and Love along the way!

Ron

New Mexico back road

U.S. 87 traveling toward Amarillo.

While traveling from Colorado to Amarillo, Texas, we were never short of something interesting along the route.   Interstate 25 was picturesque and intriguing, and then we took U.S. 87.  

I could imagine the area filled with prehistoric creation combined with volcanoes in this area.  

Another thought occurred too.  Is this part of the terrain where monstrous cloud systems form, creating super cells and major tornadoes heading east?  That was certainly on my mind.  It didn’t help that occasional signs with warning lights warned motorists of potential high winds crossing the roads.

As we approached a dark image ahead we first thought it was part of a mountain range – BUT, we soon learned it was a large cloud.  Should we turn around? 

No, we would continue and see what it was about.  

While we didn’t see lightning I was still apprehensive about continuing through this cloud.  

Well, we didn’t even encounter rain until farther along toward Texas – just a lot of gray cloud cover.  

So, when things seem dark and scary as we face them, unless there is real danger we should continue pursuing our destination.  Sometimes the threat is not as ominous as we initially think.  

I thought it was neat to see the long trains on each side of U.S. 87 – sometimes on the left and sometimes on the right.  Here is a little video of the ride at certain segments.  

Traveling along U.S. 87 in New Mexico from Colorado toward Amarillo.  

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Stand the test of time

Rocks that tell the tale of time.

As I look at these images over and over again,

I can’t help but wonder what has passed by through the ages.

Rocks of old, pinnacles and spires – formations;

Taking untold years of change and erosion,

From the affects of the sun, rain and water – life.

But they stand, albeit weathering that which would take it down;

Representing a part of our own lives, and how we can endure.

When the affects of life take their toll and we wonder how we’ll go,

But we’ll endure with God’s help as He preserves our being,

When we have our trust in Him – 

This I know.  

National Park Service image display, edited for clarity

According to geologists and the U.S. National Park Service:

Morrison Formation, Jurassic (bottom left of photo) – Picture herds of dinosaurs grazing alongside streams; turtles and crocodiles slip unnoticed in an out of the water; termites scurry in and out of underground nests.

Dakota Sandstone, Cretaceous (next level up) – This cliff band was formed from warm river valley habitats; fossils of lush flowering plants are trees are found here.

Mancos Shale, Cretaceous – Fantastic creatures lurked in the ancient waters of a broad inland sea that deposited this shale layer; ocean waters covered Colorado.

West Elk Breccia, Tertiary – A mud flow from the West Elk Volcano that froze in time.

Blue Mesa Tuff, Tertiary (top right of photo) – Cemented ash from towering volcanoes once found near the present day San Juan Mountains. 

Pancake mountains?
National Park Service image display, edited for clarity

The Dillon Pinnacles are an example of the many spires found in the Curecanti National Forest, Colorado.  You can tell how the wind, rain and ice carved away at the landscape.  This process happens everywhere but how does the rock at this area form pinnacles? 

When the erosive forces hit the hillside, the underlying weaker rock wears away rapidly.  The more resistant tuff forms a cap of rock on top.  The cap rock helps protect some of the rock underneath while the surrounding rock erodes more quickly.  Thus, a spire or pinnacle forms.  Eventually the cap (tuff) erodes like many of the pinnacles in this area.  (U.S. National Park Service)

Hiking information in this area can be found at https://www.nps.gov/cure/planyourvisit/hiking.htm.

Blessings and love along the way!

Ron

Aspens and life

Aspen trees glowed as we traveled through Kebler Pass 

Come!  Let’s travel a little distance along the Kebler Pass in the Colorado Rockies.  The Pass connects Crested Butte to Paonia to the west.

Kebler Pass is a terrific high-mountain pass and is a gorgeous seasonal shortcut to Aspen, Colorado.  

The pass summits at 10,007 feet above sea level, passing through the Gunnison National Forest.  It’s probably best know as one of the premiere spots to be blown away by the fall aspens.  It’s home to one of the largest aspen groves in the United States, situated in the Elk Mountains. https://www.uncovercolorado.com/scenic-drives/kebler-pass/

 
Aspen trees glisten in the breeze.

As I looked at these photos and thought about Thanksgiving in the U.S.A., I couldn’t help but begin writing out my personal thoughts.  I trust it is okay with you, if you choose to read them.   

As we see the beauty that rises up and around, beholding life that God has provided – even the air that we breath, the sun, the trees.

We are all special, just as we behold the Aspen in the beauty of the Rockies.

Can we say to this tree you are more important than the other?

Can we say to the leaf, glowing with brilliant, gold color that you are more beautiful than the green leaf that has not adjusted for the pursuing winter?

Can we say to the leaves that glisten and shine that you are more important than the ones that do not gather attention of the passer-by? 

The air moves and causes disturbance of the stillness; leaves move and sway with the direction they were moved, like an orchestration of love and beauty.

They enjoy life and fulfill their calling, adjusting their color, falling, providing cover and support, foundation for some of creation.

They yield as the cold gathers and the whiteness from the sky causes a new glisten – and they are renewed when the time is right.

I am thankful for the simple things of life. 

Is one day sufficient to be thankful for all that is around?

Family, friends, life, air, freedom, sustenance as energy for the shell that is home to my inner being, my soul.

I am thankful for life and the abundance of it – physical, mental and spiritual; for God who loves us and desires for us to see his beauty around; 

That He draws us to know of His eternal plan – and that His love surpasses all understanding.

Let’s listen to each other, love each other, be thankful for life and all that is offered. 

Being thankful is not for just one day of the year or even a month.

Recognize all that is around us – living each day – loving each day – caring each day,

Knowing that we are all different and created special for this moment.  

Blessings along the way!

Ron