Friday, July 30, 2010


The pages on the calendar show that it is time to start making your plans to attend one of the most colorful "feast for the eyes" that mankind has ever produced. It is the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico ( or l-888-422-7277). Even if you are not a person that has a "bucket list" of what they want to see or do before they die, the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is an event that EVERYONE should try to see, if at all possible!! The dates for 2010 are October 2 - October 10. That is when thousands of hot air balloons from all over the world will be converging in the city and surrounding areas to put on a spectacle of Olympic proportions! Their website describes it as "the most spectacular display of sound and color in all of aviation", and I definitely concur with that statement.

It is not surprising that Kodak is a major sponsor of the event, considering it is a photographer's dream. The excitement a photographer feels while trying to capture all the colors, shapes, and activity that are going on during the Mass Ascension is beyond belief! And when I say "Mass Ascension", I am not referring to a Catholic religious service. Rather, the Balloon Mass Ascension is when hundreds of balloons are in the process of being filled with hot air just as the sun begins to rise over the New Mexico landscape. But leading up to this "uplifting event" the first day at 5:45am, is the "Dawn Patrol". That is when a group of about 12 balloons do an ascension that has been carefully choreographed to music. This group of balloons known as the dawn patrol are the "scouts" that judge the flying conditions, and the data from their flights is valuable to the other pilots who have yet to ascend. After the Dawn Patrol has reported their findings, then the first balloon of the Mass Ascension takes off, flying the flag of the USA, while the Star Spangled Banner is played over the loudspeakers, located throughout the balloon park. The balloons are divided into "waves" of ascent, such that the second wave cannot go until the first wave has lifted off, etc., etc. If you are thinking to yourself that 5:45 am is WAY too early for you to have your eyes open, don't worry, as you can still have an opportunity to see a fantastic hot air balloon event, called the "Balloon Glow". This activity occurs in the evenings, after dark, and is made possible by the bright flames from the gas burners used to heat the air, for the inside of the balloons. The flames give a warm glow to the inflated balloons and makes for even more photo opportunities, of a different sort. The first-ever Balloon Glow was held in Albuquerque in 1979, and has grown to be a major part of the ten day festival, followed up by a huge fireworks display.

Another day of the fiesta is designated as the "Shapes Rodeo". That is when balloons of every imaginable configuration come together to begin the process of being filled with hot air, so they can take to the skies and promote whatever product their special shape resembles. For example, the "Michelin Man" balloon and "Canadian Mountie" balloon in the first photograph, as well as this gigantic grouping of red chili peppers in this photograph, would be part of the Shapes Rodeo event. The first year I went to the Balloon Fiesta, I actually got to ride in one of the special shapes balloon, and it was the balloon designed to look like Mickey Mouse, and owned by the Disney folks. It was a great ride, that was made even more special by the place where we landed. Our very slow and gentle landing took place on the streets of a residential area, full of little children. You can imagine the screams of delight from the excited kiddies, as they exclaimed to their parents that "Mickey Mouse" has just landed in our neighborhood!!! Anyone who gets a ride in the Mickey Mouse balloon receives a special Disney Collector.s pin that resembles the Mickey Mouse balloon, and I still have mine, to remind me of that fun experience. Albuquerque educators have taken advantage of the fascination that children have with hot air balloons, and have started a program called "Aloft" that takes places at area schools on the first Friday before the balloon fiesta starts. Pilots take their balloons to designated schools and teach the kids about aviation, answer their questions, and if conditions permit, may even offer tethered (i.e. "tied down") balloon rides. Also, the balloon park operates a "Balloon Discovery Center" throughout the event, that is aimed at interactive displays and activities for children. It is no wonder that ballooning is such a part of the culture of that part of New Mexico. I remember that even the taxi driver we had that took us from our hotel to the airport, was a licensed hot air balloon pilot. He said he drove the taxi to support his ballooning hobby!

The great thing about getting to actually ride in a balloon during the Mass Ascension, is the bird's eye view you get of the entire park as you are drifting ever higher above it. This photo was taken from inside the basket of the balloon, on a different year that I attended the balloon fiesta, and I was able to ride in one of the first wave of balloons going up that day. Usually, only 3-4 people (depending on their weight) can ride in a standard size balloon basket, although a few balloons have been designed to accommodate larger groups. But even if you don't get to actually ride in a balloon, EVERYONE can be a part of the excitement by helping hold the balloon open while it is being filled, unwrapping it from its carrying bag, or otherwise helping the small crews that usually travel with a balloon. One of the postcards I purchased at the fiesta, had this "Balloonist Prayer", which seems an appropriate way to end this post: "May the winds welcome you with softness, May the sun bless you with his warm hands, May you fly so high and so well that God joins you in laughter and sets you gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth." Miles of smiles----Up, Up, and AWAY!! Tricia
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Saturday, July 24, 2010


As soon as I saw this church building, surrounded by scaffolding, and obviously undergoing a renovation, in the small town of Alexandria Bay, New York, I thought of an old cliche I have heard in the South: "The work is not finished, but the carpenter has moved in." It is referring to the fact that once you make a decision to be a Christ-follower, you are not instantly free of all your bad habits and "stinking thinking". Rather, it means, that you have allowed Jesus (aka "the carpenter") into your life to start the transformational process of making you into that new creation that is promised to you in the Bible.

This photo of a historic church building in the tiny village of Thousand Islands Park, New York, shows workers doing the necessary preventive maintenance on it, that is necessary to keep it a functioning and usable space for people to gather. The sign outside (bottom photo of collage) proves the point that it is a well-used meeting space----movies on week nights , Catholic mass for the Sunday morning early risers, and Protestant service for the mid-morning folks. Likewise, the wear and tear on our own, well-used bodies (which the Bible calls "the temple of the Holy Spirit") requires preventive maintenance. We cannot keep using them, and using them, expecting them to keep being productive, if we don't do some "preventive maintenance" on our bodies as well. Part of that preventive maintenance includes putting the appropriate "fuel" into our body, to provide the maximum benefit.
While I was traveling in Vermont and New York this past spring, I had the opportunity to see lots of different sizes and colors and types of temples (some of them are shown in the photo collage). Although they are all different in appearance, they all have one thing in common: They were created for the purpose of worshiping God. How tragic it would be to read in the local newspaper that vandals had gone into one of these beautiful temples, and dumped garbage and slop and toxic chemicals onto the altar, and throughout the sanctuary of the temple. Yet, that is what WE are doing when we "dump" unhealthy foods into OUR temple (aka "our body")! I have heard people make the statement "It is my body, and I will do what I want to with it." But I Corinthians 6:19-20 says otherwise: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body."

If you are interested in learning more about how to take better care of "your temple", AND you could benefit from doing so, in a non-judgemental, friendly, supportive, group setting, join us for First Place 4 Health Orientation at 6 PM, September 1, in room 1203 of the CLC (Christian Life Center) of First Baptist Church, at 400 Club Boulevard in Mountain Home, Arkansas. At this no-obligation, free Orientation Session, you will learn all about First Place 4 Health, a non-denominational, Christ-centered health improvement program with an emphasis on weight management. The Bible study for the fall session is entitled "God's Purpose For You" and can be purchased from most major bookstores or over the Internet. Persons who do not want to purchase the written material may use a copy of the book available for check-out use at the CLC. The actual classes for First Place 4 Health will start on Wednesday, September 8, at 5:30 pm - 6:45 pm, in the CLC, and will meet weekly at that same time on Wednesdays until mid-December. If you are not able to attend weekly classes, there is also an "on-line" version of the program that you can learn about by clicking on their website address . So here's wishing you miles of smiles---First Place 4 Health smiles! Tricia Turner
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Oshkosh Fly-In Expedition

With the date quickly approaching for the 2010 Oshkosh Fly-In, I wanted to alert readers to an event that would be very worthwhile to include on your "Bucket List", especially if you are the least bit interested in aviation. The dates in 2010 are July 26 - August 1, and the revenue that it brings into all kinds of businesses in the Oshkosh, Wisconsin area, make it a welcome income producer for an otherwise slow economy. The new, official name for this air festival extravaganza is "EAA AirVenture Oshkosh" ( and the EAA is the abbreviation for Experimental Aircraft Association. The very first EAA Fly-In was held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1953, with just a few attendees. It was moved to Oshkosh in 1969, and since that time, has grown to be the world's premier aviation event. I had the opportunity to attend the event several years ago with my son, and it made a lasting impression on us. We were wondering aimlessly through the airfield, when one of the EAA-member pilots who had flown his airplane to the event, invited us to be his guest " beyond the ropes " where only the pilots and their guests were able to walk around. Just like hundreds of other pilots and their guests were doing, we had our lunch while sitting on the ground under the shade provided by the wing of his airplane. He gave us a few tips about a strategy for seeing as much as possible at the airshow, and told us about the big news for the day, which was the visit by the famous CONCORDE. So as you might expect, the highlight of our visit was getting to see the CONCORDE aircraft not only land, but also, take off again, complete with its movable, pointed "nose piece". It was on the ground for a very short time, and my son and I actually were allowed to walk up the stairs and walk completely through the plane, from the pilot's cockpit to the bathrooms in the back of the plane. That wouldn't be so amazing, except that there were no crew members on board as we walked through the cabin! (As you can imagine, this was BEFORE the tight security measures, taken after the 9/11 terrorists attacks by jet airplanes.) All the crew had exited the plane, and as they were walking away, I casually asked one of them if we could go on board, and to my astonishment, they not only said "yes", but let us go unaccompanied!At the time, I was collecting and framing restaurant menus from places I visited around the country, so I felt compelled to add the menu from the Concorde to my collection. That is a photograph of it with this blog. It was more like a "tray card" than a menu, but it certainly brought some "class" to my otherwise, humdrum menu collection! There were lots of vendors selling all kinds of aviation-related items, so my son bought a model of an airplane. He spent the entire time, of the drive back to Arkansas, working on putting that airplane model together. The exhibit selling airplane models was all I remember that was specifically targeted to kids. However, these days the fly-in has a special section called "Kidventure", with hands-on, aviation-based demonstrations , and activities, including tethered hot air balloon rides.
Although we were only at the fly-in for one day, most people stay more than a day, with many of the pilots sleeping beside their aircraft. There may be as many as 10,000 pilots who fly their planes there, and there are at least 2,500 special "Show air craft" on display. The displays include homebuilts, antiques, classics, warbirds, ultralights, and rotocraft. In addition, there is an air show every afternoon. The Oshkosh Fly-In (aka "AirVenture Oshkosh") has become an international gathering place for aviation enthusiasts, and something I would heartily recommend attending at least once in your life! An event like this always reminds me of what I call "The Expeditioners' Psalm" because one part of the 139th Psalm (The Message) says "Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? to be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you're there! If I go underground, you're there! If I flew on morning's wings to the far western horizon, You'd find me in a minute---you're already there waiting!" Remember these promises from God each time you go "Up, Up, and Away"!! Miles of smiles! TriciaPosted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Labyrinths and Lanes Expedition

The theme for the Grandparent/Grandchild Day that we did yesterday was all about "keeping it between the lines". As is our tradition, (and not just because our theme was "keeping it between the lines"), when we first got into the automobile, we gripped our steering wheels (real or imaginary) with both hands, and voiced this prayer: "Lord, please STEER us in YOUR path (based on Psalm 25:4), and put a HEDGE of protection around us (based on Job 1:10). Then we headed for Terra Studio,, which was a few miles east of Fayetteville. It was there that we found the bark-covered trail, through an enchanted forest, that led us to our first labyrinth. I explained in the earlier blog called "Mt. Shasta Lavender Farm", how a labyrinth is different from a maze. The labyrinth at Terra uses upright flagstones, firmly planted into the ground, to mark the curving lines of their labyrinth. We were fortunate to have a Channel 5 TV news reporter, and a Terra Studios associate, come by while we were walking through the labyrinth. With their help, I have the photos shown in this collage.
The next labyrinth is shown in the second photo collage, and it is located in the Fellowship Hall area of St. Paul's Episcopal Church ( The lady who oversees the use of the labyrinth there is Mary Miller and she was kind enough to take the lower left photo of all three of us, before we started . We learned from Mary that there is no right or wrong way to get through a labyrinth, and she gave us a print out on how to make the most effective use of a labyrinth for prayer and meditation purposes. She also told us about the prayer labyrinth at Washington Regional Medical Center. I was glad she did because the WRMC labyrinth had not been listed in the national register for such devices, The outdoor labyrinth at Washington Regional Medical Center ( is located in a beautiful area of their campus near the bike path, pond, and footbridge. This third photo collage shows us in one of their numerous park benches surrounding the area, as well as photos of Jacob and Kaitlyn walking the outside edges of the labyrinth, plus a shot of them in the center, after they had completed the many "crooks and turns" surrounding the center.

The fourth photo collage of this post shows our last stop on the tour, and it was at Fast Lane in Lowell, Arkansas ( We had a great time bowling, and Kaitlyn even landed a strike! I was glad Kaitlyn noticed that some of the bowling lines had little "guard rails" on either side of the wooden lane that the ball rolls on. After she checked with the employee there, she found out that children under age 10 could request that the "guard rails" be raised when it was their turn to bowl. This was done, so that anytime it was Jacob's turn to bowl, the guard rails would automatically come up. His score definitely went up after the addition of the guard rails. It was a good visual aid for me about the importance of guard rails or "boundaries" for youngsters, to keep them on the right path, while they are acquiring the wisdom and experience to continue on with their life. In this collage, both Kaitlyn and Jacob are shown as they make their bowling balls hurl toward the pins, and the photo of "grandma" bowling is intentionally blurred, as the side being photographed during bowling is not a pretty sight in my case! Although it is not pictured here, being with the grandkids at Fast Lane, enabled me to participate in my first-ever game of lazer tag. That was great fun, as was trying to stay in the proper lane, and at the proper speed, when we rode around on the indoor go-cart track. All in all, it was a most enjoyable day of trying to "stay between the lines" with two totally awesome grandkids, named Kaitlyn and Jacob, who are definitely headed down the right path in their young life. Miles of smiles! TriciaPosted by Picasa          EDITOR'S NOTE:  Since I published this article, I read more about labyrinths in a publication called Christian Retreats, where this verse from Psalm 16:11 in The Message paraphrase was quoted, which says, "Now you've got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face.  Ever since you took my hand, I'm on the right way."  The article also listed another website with the address of that gives additional resources for persons interested in labyrinths.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mt. Shasta Lavender Farm

I had been wanting to visit the Mt. Shasta Lavender Farms ( ever since I read about it several years ago on the Internet. However, it wasn't until last month that one of my visits to the Mt. Shasta area coincided with their period of being open to the public (June 12th thru July 18th in 2010). In reading up on lavender, I learned that the ancient Greeks called the lavender herb "nardus" and it is also called "nard". It was one of the herbs used in the Biblical Temple to prepare the holy essence, and nard is mentioned in the Song of Solomon. Lavender was used in Roman baths to scent the water, with the late Latin name being from the base word "lavanda" which means "things to be washed".
Local folks have the luxury of checking the Shasta Farms website frequently to find out when the blooms are at their most photogenic, but I only had a small window of time to visit---regardless of whether the plants were completely bloomed out or not. Consequently, as you can see in these photographs, there are lovely GREEN rows of lavender plants, making a striking contrast to Mt. Shasta in the background. But no matter when you visit this location, you will find it worthwhile. During my time there, I observed families enjoying a picnic in the shaded area provided for such activities (lower left photo), or just strolling around the fields, looking for photo opportunities. Fortunately, there was a place to set my camera, so I could put it on "automatic", to get the self-portrait in the lower right part of this collage.
One will go through several miles of rural farmland to get to the farm, but once you are there, you will find ample parking, and an attractively designed building with clean restrooms, and inviting displays of products related to all things lavender. They were even giving complementary samples of lavender lemonaide on the day I was there, and of course, they sell culinary lavender (with accompanying recipes of how to use it). The upper right photo of the collage shows the owner of the Mt. Shasta Lavender Farms, David McGee-Williams.
The last photo collage of this group of four, shows some scenes from the Labyrinth that has been planted among the otherwise, long straight rows of lavender plants. Although other areas of the farm permit cutting the lavender plants ($4/100 stems), this special area is a "no scissors" zone, as illustrated by the symbol under the Labyrinth sign. In medieval times, the labyrinth symbolized a hard path to God, with a clearly defined center (God) and one entrance (birth). Since most people cannot travel to holy sites around the world, the labyrinth has become a symbolic form of pilgrimage; people can walk the path, ascending toward salvation or enlightenment. In fact, there is a Labyrinth Society that provides a locater for modern labyrinths all over the world ( One simply puts in their zip code, and a listing of labyrinths within a designated number of miles of your home will appear. A prayer or meditation Labyrinth is a contemplative tool with an unambiguous through-route to the center. This is different from a maze, which can be defined as a "tour puzzle", in the form of a complex, branching passage. When I visited the Labyrinth Society website, I learned that I had unknowingly visited one of the most famous prayer labyrinths in the world, when I visited the Cathedral of Chartres in France, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I spent so much time there photographing the famous stained glass windows, that I had to hurriedly go through the prayer labyrinth designed into their marble floors, and was unaware of its significance as a pilgrimage site. After I found out the labyrinths located in my area of northwest Arkansas, I have plans to use the labyrinth as the "theme" for one of the "Grandma/Grandchild Day Trips" that I like to do during the summer, when school is not in session. Therefore, I have the Mt. Shasta Lavender Farms to thank for a lovely afternoon of enjoying/photographing that famous northern California agriculture, PLUS inspiring me to learn more about labyrinths! So here's to wishing you "miles of smiles" through labyrinth pilgrimages wherever in the world you are! Tricia Posted by Picasa