Colorful beacons

One of hundreds of beautiful orchids that brought me sunshine at the U. S. Botanic Garden, April 2014


“Flowers are those little colorful beacons of the sun from which we get sunshine when dark, somber skies blanket our thoughts.”Dodinsky

On the Saturday after Matt had open heart surgery, he seemed to be doing well enough that I decided to take Jeff’s suggestion and go down to the Capitol area to visit the U. S. Botanic Garden, where a special orchid exhibit was in its final day.  I hesitated but Jeff reminded me that he would be there with Matt, and I might not get the chance to get out again anytime soon.  So I had a nice few hours out, losing my worries and exhaustion just briefly in the lovely colors and beautiful, mild spring day.

When I got back that night, Matt had taken a turn for the worse, and the next few days were more difficult.  He did not leave the CICU until Tuesday, and it would be another full week before he was able to go home.  I’m glad I did not know all that was ahead of us on the Saturday I enjoyed the orchids.  It would have been overwhelming, and I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed myself even if I had managed to talk myself into leaving for a few hours.  But as it turned out, I needed the emotional boost I got that day, to help me make it through the next ten days.

If anything is bothering you, I hope you will be able to steal away today, or as soon as the weather is nice, for a quick springtime walk.  You can enjoy the fresh air and catch the glow of the flowers, beacons that soak up sunshine for for a showy display to lift our spirits when we need it most.


One year ago today:

The sense of the beautiful



  1. Just returned from two weeks in New York. Isn’t it wonderful how the Lord knows what to put in our path to help us move forward. I was happy to read this post Julia and also to hear that Matt is doing better. Still keeping you and your family in my prayers.

    • Thank you Patricia – hope you had a nice trip! I look forward to when we can travel again. We really appreciate your prayers and good wishes.

  2. Larry

    Those are vibrant colors on that orchid. It must have been like you found the end of the rainbow. I know it was good to spend a little time in a neutral emotional zone and get away. Did your shutter finger get a good workout? Sometimes the best way to see things is thru the lens of a camera. We love seeing these pictures each day.

    • Thank you, Larry – yes, I took loads of photos that day and had a whole rainbow of colors to catch. Orchids come in pretty much the entire spectrum of color. Just walking around the city is energizing for me and the flowering trees along the sidewalks outside the capitol were beautiful that day. Although I was fairly exhausted when I got back to the hospital, but that was probably because of all the bad news waiting for me there.

  3. raynard

    Julia between my daughter’s college graduation tomorrow, my wife has a training class ( Friday morning you know the drill. I’m suppose to start a 5 day vacation tomorrow and still recovering from our trip to N.C. Going to “try” to pull off one day with her. I know I know, it’s Memorial day Weekend.( I’m on vacation so no worries and dont have to rush..Saturday I might just come down to Virginia Beach for a DAY Trip. will keep you posted cause I want to have lunch or dinner and”not in a drive thru line if you get my point.. Stay close to your computer should know by today or tomorrow.. It’s also the annual motorcycle thing to Washing DC.My boss is a biker and going down there for that. Be blessed and have a great day..

    • Raynard, just be sure to avoid the worst traffic times. Jeff and I learned long ago that it just isn’t worth it to fight the holiday traffic, but if you avoid the worst hours it’s usually not too bad at the in-between times. I know a lot of bikers — I wonder if any of them are going to be in DC this weekend? When Jeff was at Walter Reed for his first liver resection, there were some bikers from some big get-together who visited the wounded warriors, which was really nice I thought.

  4. Gorgeous photo and great post as always Julia! ♥

    • Thank you so much! I am always happy to have you here.

  5. Even heading into winter there is beauty out there for the taking. I am so glad that you got that few hours to destress and refill your emotion/energy tanks ready for the remainder of that week.

    • Yes, it turned out to be more important than I realized at the time. I do hope to go back to enjoy the city more often in the future, when there aren’t so many worries hanging over us. But for now I relish being home.

      • Sometimes being home is the best medicine of all 🙂

  6. Julia…hello. what a beautiful photo. I’m glad you took some time for you and regrouped.

    • Thanks Merry! I’m so glad you like the picture. Orchids are intricate and amazing, aren’t they?

  7. Sheila

    What a perfect example of God’s paintbrush! You captured so much beauty and I’m sure more of the same with the many photographs that you took. Thinking of you tonight. I so hope all is well. 🙂

    • Thank you Sheila! We are doing OK although Matt was a bit crankier than usual today, which often means he isn’t feeling well. He has his appointment with cardiology today so we’ll be heading into DC this morning. I’m hoping they will give us some good news about the fluid on his lungs decreasing. I know he must be getting a bit of “cabin fever” but we can’t get him out around people until his lungs are OK (they want to avoid any chance of a respiratory infection). Hope you all are having a good week and Walter is getting just a taste of some tropical warmth as summer gets closer! Thanks for being here.

  8. Michael

    Gorgeous photo and reminds me of Atlanta botanical and their awesome display of flower power. It might be a Cattlayea? You probably read the, “Orchid Thief.” I think they also made a movie out of it. The period of history in England- known as a time of “Orchid fever” is fascinating.

    • Michael, Drew and Megan have a membership at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and the go there a lot. Re: Orchid Thief – I have heard that title but know nothing about the book or movie. Nor do I know about Orchid fever, although I have a vague memory of having seen the term. One more thing for me to look up; it does sound interesting. As they said in Yellow Submarine, “so little time…so much to know!” If I ever go back to working in a library I think I would like working in reference – it would be fun to help people find info on all these topics.

  9. Michael

    Maybe you could do it online?

    • Possibly – not long before we moved to the DC area I read where a No Va library was experimenting with telecommuting for some of their reference jobs. I found the idea intriguing so I called to talk to the person referenced in the job notice (through the VLA jobline). The person told me that it was an experimental program and it remained to be seen whether it was adopted permanently. I have not been watching the jobline so I don’t know whether they decided to do it permanently, but if they did, I think it might be a great way to work without being encumbered by the traffic issues.

  10. Michael

    On second thought I think it is a Miltonia Orchid. I was really proud of myself today as I went to a plant sale and did not buy a single item. First time ever. Trying to be frugal. Someone asked me about the origin of the term, “green thumb.” It seems the early tobacco farmers would take off the flowers from the leaves and in the process their thumbs would turn green. They would cut the flowers off with their finger nails. The flowers had no purpose and hence were removed.

    • Were those the Nicotiana plants? I think they are so pretty! I’ve tried to grow them in a couple of locations, but haven’t had much luck with them. Congrats on enjoying the plants without buying them! I would guess that I buy something less than 20% of the times I go shopping. Any kind of shopping, not just plants. Partly that’s because I have a hard time making decisions, but mostly it’s because I just enjoy getting out and seeing things. Jeff and I are at the age where we are shedding possessions, not collecting them…with a few notable exceptions such as books, where we try to at least stay even. We’ve had a wonderful weekend outside here in York. I’ve been clearing our badly overgrown woods and garden, and thinning/dividing plants. I have re-planted several azaleas, peonies and irises, but it remains to be seen whether they will survive in their new locations. Wish us luck.

  11. You’re remarkable, Julia. xox

    • Thank you Alys, you are so kind. I just do what anyone would do in my position. In fact, I know a lot of people who would probably do much better than I do at most of it. But it’s my life, so I try to show up and do my best.

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