Peculiar and inexhaustible influence

It's just too nice to stay indoors. Join me for a stroll!

It’s just too nice outside today to stay indoors. Join me for a stroll!

“Her pleasure in the walk must arise from the exercise and the day, from the view of the last smiles of the year upon the tawny leaves and withered hedges, and from repeating to herself some few of the thousand poetical descriptions extant of autumn–that season of peculiar and inexhaustible influence…” Jane Austen

Monday, the day before yesterday, was a hard one for us.  We had a long discussion with the liver surgeon, and the full reality of what Jeff is facing was sobering.  He had to stay at Bethesda for extensive cardiac testing– a precaution due to the risky nature of his upcoming all-day surgery– and Matt and I went on home, picking Jeff up at the metro station at the end of the day.  Despite our worries, it was impossible not to notice what a gloriously beautiful day it was, unseasonably warm and sunny.

On the way home, Jeff and I talked of how stunning the trees looked, despite many of them having lost their leaves.  He decided to take Matt to the gym while they still both felt able to go, and I took my walk while they were there, enjoying the perfect weather and breathtaking autumn beauty.  The sun was lighting up the colors to almost electric levels.  I took my camera so I could bring you along with me on my walk.  All these photos were taken within a mile of my home, along my usual routes for daily 2-mile walks.  None have been digitally enhanced to improve the color (partly because I don’t have time to fool with photo editing tonight).

Autumn trees 3 Nov 2013

The foliage is dazzling, and the sky is a beautiful blue!

Autumn tree 2 Nov 2013

The photo above is taken at the corner of our street.

Autumn walk 3, Nov 2013

Lots of neighbors and their dogs are out walking, but it’s spacious and quiet.

Autumn trees Nov 2013

Sometimes I just stop and stand there, looking up!

Autumn walk 5 Nov 2013

I think the leaves even look pretty on the ground.

Autumn walk 4 Nov 2013

Almost home!  You can see the roofs of our townhome row in the distance.

Autumn walk 9 Nov 2013

This trail runs right behind where we live.

Autumn walk 10 Nov 2013

Home again. Come inside for a cup of afternoon tea!

One year ago today:

An untroubled spirit

A year later, these are words we still need to keep in mind…


  1. Judy from Pennsylvania

    Walking ever forward, surrounded by a glorious beauty. Eyes drawn to look upward.

    Thank you for your stunning photographs and the meditation they inspire.

    And now I’ll join you in my kitchen for a cup of that English Breakfast tea from your cupboard. Julia, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    • Judy, thanks so much! I really enjoyed getting your email and photograph a few days ago, and I’ve been meaning to write you to thank you for it. It truly brightened my day! Your prayers are needed and appreciated by all of us!

  2. HarryS

    I can only imagine a bit of the deep suffering I’m sure you are going through. Your situation deeply troubles me and I just want you to know that my heartfelt prayers are with you. 🙂

    • Thank you Harry, I really appreciate your visits here as well as your prayers and kind thoughts. As hard as the situation today is, we have much more hope now than we did one year ago, and for that we are deeply grateful.

  3. Ann

    Thank you for taking us on your stroll! Our leaves have not been that colorful. How wonderful that Jeff and Matt could spend time together at the gym and you could see the beauty of the day. Exercise and routine always help me in times of stress, hope it helps your family.

    Prayers for all of you as Jeff’s surgery nears.


    • Thanks so much, Ann. Exercise is important to all three of us. When we go without it, we can tell a difference not only physically, but mentally too. One of the hardest things about the past year for Jeff has been his inability to exercise as much as he did before. He has exercised for 1-2 hours, 5 or 6 day per week, for decades. I think that contributed to his endurance of all that he has been through over the past year. Your prayers are needed and much appreciated!

  4. raynard

    Julia those excellent colors of your pictures, warms you up on a cold winter’s day.( that cup of tea “what flavor” I had cinaminon apple spice with my dinner yesterday.The big snow we had the year before last, I have lovely pics of my 1st dog playing in the snow…Thank you for all you do here daily,and may you and your family always be in the prayers of me and my family. Be encouraged and blessed and have a great day..

    • Thanks Raynard, it was cinnamon spice tea here, my favorite too, with or without apple! I have seen you tube videos of dogs playing in the snow, and they are all cute, but this one is my favorite. It amazes me how that dog tunnels through the snow. It makes me wonder what they put in his dog food! 🙂 Seriously, I don’t see how anyone can watch this and not smile! Thanks for being here and for always staying cheerful, and most of all for your prayers.

      • Linda Blackford

        Great video! And Harry Connick Jr.! My very favorite singer. I saw him this past Saturday night with my daughter and son-in-law, and he was better than ever! Chatty today, aren’t I? 🙂

        • I’ve always thought him so handsome. To be so good looking and so talented – WOW. I didn’t even pick up on the fact that it was him singing in that clip, I was so amused by that snow plow of a dog!

      • Sheila

        Julia, this is so precious, had to share with Autumn and Emma. I had to laugh when Autumn remarked, “Looks like an Oreo in the snow!” 🙂

        • Now that you mention it, “Oreo” would have been a great name for him! That dog cracks me up every time I watch that clip. Oh, to have his energy!

  5. Sheila

    Julia, walking is so therapeutic, in so many ways! When you mentioned in your comment on Monday, that it was a HARD day, I knew an extra prayer was in order. As beautiful as fall is, I often think the leaves fall, almost like tears. Your words have filled such an emptiness that I have every morning since my mom died. We talked at 7:00 without fail….7:15 and I was late!
    It started our day and it was OURS alone. She was a “Point Of Light”, a favorite country song (of hers) by Randy Travis. “All it takes is a point of light, a ray of hope in the darkest night.” Hugs across the miles, my friend. 🙂

    • Thank you Sheila, I’m sure your prayer helped us get through those long hours of wrestling with thoughts of all that is coming up. Thanks also for sharing about your Mom. You have obviously learned from her determination to shine the light! Thanks for shining here every day! Cyber hugs to you too :-).

  6. Jim Beavers

    Julia, thanks for taking us along on your walk. Yesterday was not a good day for us, and I awoke to a dark and gloomy world, but your beautiful pictures of God’s creation, and your “sunny” comments warmed my heart and brightened my day. Thanks so much!!

    • Jim, I am so happy to know that the post helped. I hope your day gets better. Did you get the bookmark I sent? If not, it should be arriving soon. Thanks for being here and sharing your encouraging words. I know many of our blog community will pray with me that God sends you and your wife special blessings today.

  7. The shades esp the red ones are stunning. Glad you were able to capture them in all their glory. Hope they have filled you with happiness and peace.

    • Thanks Bindu, they really do fill me with that serenity that only nature can provide. I’m so happy you enjoyed our walk together. I was inspired by a walk I took with you in your post of several months ago, so it was nice to go strolling again! I hope we will enjoy many more walks together in the beautiful lands where God has placed us, far apart, yet still connected!

  8. Today, November 20, 2013, I am learning things I did not know. e.g. discussions with a liver surgeon apparently over shadow anything a colo-rectal surgeon might have to say 😦
    Then, looking back a year – the words “stark context” jump out at me.
    deep emotion is within my breast

    • Remember, it was the colorectal surgeon who sent us back to the liver surgeon because he was worried about the new tumors, and wanted his input on what needed to happen next. One thing I’ve come to realize about medical sub-specialists is that the best ones work together as a team and consult with each other to make joint decisions in complex cases. Since Dr. M (the colorectal surgeon) has consistently been the most positive doc all along, when he felt uncomfortable, we knew to trust him and realize he was not just trying to set the bar low. One year later, the context is still fairly stark, but deeper and with many more layers. Emotion is something Jeff has gradually been forced to deal with more often and directly in the past year, and I think on balance that’s a good thing. Thanks for being with us on this journey!

  9. Linda Blackford

    “Defeat despair,” you have been telling us for the past year, and you have sought countless ways to accomplish this, Julia! The photos of the autumn color in your neighborhood remind me of what I’ve been experiencing the past few weeks here in and around Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’ve always loved the fall, and this one has been among the best I’ve ever witnessed! Please be encouraged and strengthened by all of our prayers. Defeating despair is a decision, isn’t it? Not “Try to defeat despair”! Do it! It’s a daily, and sometimes moment to moment decision, but it opens us up to cherish life and experience it more fully. Thank you for sharing your journey with all of us!

    • Thanks so much for your cheerful comment, Linda, it does brighten my day! I’m so happy you’ve had gorgeous colors in Tulsa too. Oklahoma has certainly had its share of sorrows, so the decision to defeat despair is something its residents have been living out in many situations. I’m glad you have had the glory of autumn as a gift this year. I appreciate your pointing out that it is a decision. Even at the worst of times, we can say with the defiance of Job, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” Your prayers, good wishes and support definitely encourage and strengthen us, more than we can say. Thanks to all of you for walking with us on this uphill climb!

  10. merry

    Julia, Beautiful. 🙂 the trees in our neighbor is also showing off their colors! Lifting you anf Jeff in my prayers during this stressful time. Blessings…

    • Thank you Merry! Aren’t these trees a joy? They have every reason to show off and I’m so glad they do! Thanks for being with us; your prayers are helping us get through as they have for so many months.

  11. Michael

    35 degrees here so not sure I am going out. Thanks for beautiful picts. On the other hand, someone said,”-the winter will drive you crazy till you learn to get out in it.”
    Thanks also for card.

    • Michael, I don’t blame you for not wanting to get out in that kind of temperature. I keep thinking your part of the world never gets that cold, but obviously that’s not true! We learned during our years in Ohio that life can go on in all sorts of weather, literally and figuratively. It was there I learned to drive in blizzards that hit in the dark, and there we dealt with our first harrowing experiences with Matt’s cardiac problems. Though we never ask for such lessons, they are indeed well worth learning.

  12. Carlyle

    Simply GORGEOUS. Thanks for sharing,

    • Thank you Daddy. I appreciate you and Mama for instilling in us a deep appreciation for the beauty of creation, in all its seasons and manifestations, and in so doing, teaching us the truth of Romans 1:20 – “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…”

  13. lynn

    that was a lovely walk. Thanks for bringing us along. When is the surgery ? I want to lift you to my prayer warrier team

    • Hi Lynn, the surgery is next week. I’ll send you a more detailed email update. Anyone who would like more details can email me at Thanks for the prayers! They are much needed and greatly appreciated!

  14. Sandra Watkins

    The photos and the encouragement today brightened my day. Fall has always been a special season for me. Praying for you and your family during this latest journey. God blessings, Sandy

    • Thanks Sandra, for taking a walk with us and sharing your thoughts. We deeply appreciate the prayers that have sustained us, and we feel sure they will continue to do so…

  15. It made me literally smile as I took a walk with you today! I needed that!

    • Kathy, for the benefit of those who haven’t been on our double-camera strolls, I would like to point out that you too must have had your camera along! 🙂 I’m sure more photos of you taking photos will show up here in the days or months to come…:-), meanwhile, thanks for being with us.

  16. MaryAnn

    The JOY you bring with your words & photos is treasured by many. I am blessed to be among this throng who show the beauty of caring! You & your family are in our prayers.
    Please keep all of us updated on “our” Dentons.
    Last week, I took some photos at the library (on purpose for you); because I believe the trees in Vacaville, CA are stunning this year! It seems like they may be “showing-off” similar to East Coast foliage. I will send them when I figure out the process, since I am digitally challenged. Film cameras I know….heehee….Thank you so much for taking us on your walk,
    Love to your family!

    • Mary Ann, thanks so much. I miss that Vacaville library; it was our second home, and set on such lovely grounds. I hope “progress” has not taken away too much of the beauty. I’m afraid I would scarcely recognize our little “cow town” if I went back there now. (“Vacaville” means “cow town,” for those who might think I intended an insult- I did not – we LOVE it!) I will look forward to your photos! Love to all our CA family!

  17. How utterly beautiful!! I was inside working and though I have a window the view is NOTHING like that. Thanks for sharing this. Keeping you all in our prayers.

    • Hi Amy, I really wish you could have been here to go walking with me. So near and yet so far! This year has been a crazy one for us both, but here’s hoping that next fall we shall have much more time together! Love to you and your family.

  18. Larry

    We enjoyed seeing those beautiful fall pictures. Some would say you should go to Maine or the Smoky Mountains to see the colors. The truth is you only have to look out your front door! Your colors are gorgeous. Jeff’s Great Uncle David said while looking at the fall colors in the Coble area, “No one can paint a picture like God can”. I have to agree and say “Amen”.

    • Amen here too! Isn’t it amazing how each season rolls around the same way, but never exactly the same and always a treat to our eager eyes. A few years ago I told Jeff, “New England is beautiful but I just don’t believe the colors could be any more vivid than they are here.” Having said that, this year in York County the colors were disappointing. I think storms and winds must have blown most of the leaves away before they reached their peak colors. I do know that with all that I loved so about living in northern California, I supposed the trees were what I missed most about the east. If you talk to Emily tell her that Jeff and I sympathize with her – hope she is doing well soon! Give Sadie and Gauge a hug for us.

  19. anna

    Beautiful pics. Have you asked your husband how he would like to be remembered?
    God bless your family.

    • Thank you, Anna. Jeff is a man of few words and even fewer discussions on such topics, but he has been very clear about wanting to be buried at Arlington Cemetery. He also mentioned a very short poem our older son wrote about him in Spanish many years ago. I came across it while cleaning out some old papers and gave it to him; he had never seen it and wasn’t aware it had been written, nor was I. I could tell it meant a lot to him. I believe he keeps it in his Bible. He’s been intensely uncomfortable with my writing ANYTHING about him on this blog, but I finally convinced him that I can’t write it without ever writing about him. For one thing, he’s in too many of the photos! 🙂 I try to walk the fine line between respecting his privacy and wanting people to know who he is.

  20. Thank you for sharing your beautiful walk with us. The colors of fall are both brilliant and energizing.

    My hear goes out to you, Julia. What a long and difficult day. ♥♥♥

    • Thank you, Alys. It was so nice to have the beautiful day as a solace for our overwhelmed anxiety. We feel a bit better now. So much of coping with any shock or sorrow is just getting used it. As much as we dread the surgery we are thankful for it, since it will give him a much better chance of longer term survival. I truly appreciate your friendship, kind words and encouragement!

      • I think you’re right. It’s the acceptance part of any grief. Shock, denial, anger, acceptance. It hits you in waves.

        You are remarkable. I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately.

        • Thanks so much, Alys! I really appreciate the encouragement and kind words. It means so much to know other people care. Hearing from all of you brings cheer to my day, no matter what else is going on! Thanks for being here.

  21. Rene

    Oh Julia, I have self-righteously pooh-poohed any suggestion that in SoCal, the seasons don’t change and the fall is not that colorful (while admitting that some of the color I love about fall is the dirt on the hill you can see from my front door 🙂 )…but, WOW! I will be a little more humble about our seasons. Seeing your pictures was literally uplifting, both mornings I came here…a total defeat for despair in my life! I will be praying for you, Jeff, & Matt.

    • Thank you Rene, I am so happy you found the photos helpful. As one who considers California my adopted home state (we lived 3.5 years on the central coast, and 5 years in northern California) I agree that it does have seasons, but they are definitely more subtle that what we have out here. I am still amazed at the foliage here in Virginia. Today in York County, after what many of us believed was a disappointing show of color this year, I had to get out and take some photos of amazingly gorgeous trees here too. Not quite as stunning as the ones in Alexandria, but beautiful! I appreciate your visits here, and your comments.

  22. You really have stunning colours surrounding your home Julia. We sure don’t see that here in Edmonton, although I believe Toronto might. They’re that much farther south. I’m glad you had all of natures beauty to temper your worrisome day. I remember walking and walking and walking when I was going thru a divorce. Even though it can’t change a terrible situation, just to be out in the fresh air on a beautiful day can bring renewal to a suffering soul. Thanks for taking us all, tea would be delicious 😀

    • Well, just choose a flavor from my embarassingly large collection! I have pretty much everything. Walking can soothe my soul like nothing else. Whether I’m angry, upset, tired, sad, overwhelmed, afraid or HAPPY, a walk always seems just the thing. I feel especially blessed to be surrounded by an ever-changing seasonal landscape, and having an entire jukebox of favorite songs OR dozens of favorite books, all at my fingertips on my MP3 player. I’m so happy you enjoyed the walk! Maybe we can take another snowy walk to town at Boomdeeadda this winter, for book browsing and then hot coffee! 🙂

      • Nothing would make me happier, I will share a little walk soon. Hope your day is full of things that put a smile on your face 😀

        • I will look forward to it! Thanks so much for taking care of my “happy fix” so often! 🙂


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