A never-tiring affection

Carla made sure that I had flowers for Valentine's Day this year. February 2017

Carla made sure that I had flowers for Valentine’s Day this year. February 2017

“One by one, as they march, our comrades vanish from our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent Death. Very brief is the time in which we can help them, in which their happiness or misery is decided. Be it ours to shed sunshine on their path, to lighten their sorrows by the balm of sympathy, to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection, to strengthen failing courage, to instill faith in times of despair.”
Bertrand Russell

Yes, dear readers, Valentine’s Day was hard for me this year, harder than any that came before that one in 1978 when I had my first “official” date with Jeff (a very long and funny story). But still, it was not as difficult as it might have been.

My sweet sister Carla (unofficial motto: “Taking care of Julia since 1956”) sent me those gorgeous roses. Amy and I went for a Galentine’s Day lunch at my favorite restaurant, La Madeleine, and then she left me with some delicious homemade treats very long on sugar and chocolate and nuts and popcorn, which I consumed within 48 hours (ok, they were for Matt too, and he did get his share).

Alys sent me the most wonderful Valentine package of some lovely handmade tea-themed cards I had been trying (unsuccessfully) to order for myself for months. They are gorgeous, and all the more treasured because they are made by students with special needs who live in her district. And Jena indulged my love of poetry, as she has done for at least four years now (or is it five?) by sending me some of her own favorites, and even including some of her own work, all of which were beautiful. I’m happy to know that marriage has not left her too busy for romantic poetry!

If you’ve read this blog very much, you will recognize those names. Do you see a pattern here? I do.

May your path be warm with the sunshine of sympathy, courage, faith, and never-tiring affection!

Bonus shot. I always prefer to shoot with available light, but here is how it looks when shot with a flash. Which do you prefer?

Bonus shot. I always prefer to shoot with available light, but here is how it looks when shot with a flash. Which do you prefer?


  1. Good morning, Julia!
    “Ain’t love grand?” Not just romantic love, either.
    I prefer the natural light.
    I prefer the natural light of late afternoon.
    Could you get a shot like that? 😀
    I bought my own steak and flowers this year. Daffodils and white baby carnations!
    I like Carla’s motto.
    Love pouring on you from all directions!
    I’m sending big cyber hugs, too!

    • Thank you, Susan! Carla didn’t even know about that motto until she read it here, but she does know very well that I have had an unusually strong attachment to her nurturing presence for as far back as I can remember. I will try some late-afternoon shots sometime. To be honest, I never really thought about the difference time of day makes, but in my college years, the only time I formally studied photography at all, I probably was never up and out in the early light 😀 and just naturally ended up with mostly afternoon shots. After six decades of being a reluctant (i.e. forced) early riser, I can affirm that some people are STILL definitely not wired to be early birds no matter how long they get up early! So afternoon light is good with me too.

      Thanks for the hugs and love, from all directions! It really does make a difference. ❤

  2. Sheila

    Good Thursday morning, Julia. ☕ I’m so happy to know that your Valentines Day was somehow brightened by the various show of love and friendship. The roses are so beautiful and I’m sure they are lasting longer than the sweet goodies! I sent a card to y’all (Jacquie Lawson) and wanted you to know I was thinking of you. We had the “Family At 428 Dinner” for Valentines and it was fun. Jeff’s photo and invitation are on my refrigerator so he was remembered many times during the evening as questions were asked. ❤️ Our path is made brighter with sunshine, whatever the circumstances. 😉💖😎Love, She

    • Sheila!! I somehow missed the email notifying me of that card, but when I got your message here, I went hunting for it (in the increasingly wild jungle of my inbox) and found it. I just sent you TWO replies! 😀 The 428 Dinner sounds fabulous. You can’t beat the atmosphere OR the company. Thanks for being mindful of us, not only now, but all along…<3 ❤ ❤

      • P.S. I forgot to add…as I always tell Raynard, virtual cakes are the BEST! No calories, and they don’t disappear as you enjoy them! 😉 Plus you chose my favorite flavors.

  3. The picture with natural light has so much more depth. I’m glad you had roses and chocolates and kind people…

    • Thank you. I think you may have just identified why I like natural light better, though I had never realized it.

  4. Julia, wonderful friends!
    And to have them means you’re a good friend.
    Happy Chocolate Day!

    • Merry, thank you — and Happy Chocolate Day to you too! (Every day can be Chocolate Day — why not? 😀 )

  5. Carolyn

    Roses for a beautiful friend, they are pretty in both shots. Take care, sending hugs and love.

    • Thank you Carolyn! Sending our hugs and love right back to you. ❤

  6. Aww! Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed them and I hope to continue for many years to come. 🙂

    • Hey, not only did I have some poems to enjoy, but I also treated myself by making a nice pot of David’s Coffee Cake tea, which I was saving for just such an occasion. I steeped it and re-steeped it and re-steeped until it was coming out of the pot almost clear. 🙂 You’ll never guess who gave it to me, hee-hee.

      • LOL! I can’t imagine. 😉

  7. Ann

    What wonderful, thoughtful friends you have and isn’t it wonderful that Carla is your sister and your friend!,

    I prefer the photo with natural light.

    Still a constant reader just fewer posts. One of our two dogs died last July, the other only a month ago. We have found two rescue dogs that are litter mates and will bring them home next week. Hopefully they will brighten our lives and we will brighten theirs.

    • Ann, I am so sorry you lost your canine family members! I hope that you are blessed with many happy memories, and that the two rescue dogs will be a wonderful addition. I’m glad you are still here as a constant reader…you have been with us almost the entire 4+ years, haven’t you? I really do appreciate your presence and support here.

  8. MaryAnn Clontz

    The 1st photo is best to me. They look so FRESH, like still on the bush! It makes me very happy that you were surrounded w/ such “never-tiring affection!”

    In the thank you card you sent, Paul noticed something that should have jumped out at me over the years. He showed me how much Matt looks like his dad. Paul said, “This is Matt w/o a beard; the other is Jeff w/ a beard.” WOW!!!
    Sending much love~~~

    • Thank you, Mary Ann. Yes, people have often remarked about how much Matt resembles Jeff. The shape of his head, even as an infant, seemed nearly identical, at least to my eyes. Some people also have pointed out a likeness that I didn’t notice until Matt was an adult with a moustache…he also resembles my Daddy. Same big toothy grin (which Jeff had too) and same receding chin (which Jeff did NOT have, thankfully, though I certainly do). Matt is more gregarious than Jeff was, but his temperament is very like his Dad in many other ways. They were ideal companions for each other and I know that gap in Matt’s life will never be filled…

      • MaryAnn Clontz

        Gregarious: yet another confirmation of the JOY Matt & I encounter each time we see or think about one another! We have many attributes in common, not the least of which: we love each other!

        • It’s always great when it works out that way. 😀

  9. Such dear friends and family–you are so fortunate to enjoy their care.

    • Thank you, Cynthia. It is always nice to hear from you.

  10. The flowers are lovely, Julia. You have some wonderful and thoughtful friends. It’s terrific you have such a strong support system in place. The next Valentines day will be easier, only by a little. The roses look great either way to me. Have a wonderfilled weekend ahead.

    • Thank you Marlene. I agree, it’s hard to mess up a photo with pretty roses in it. I will try extra-hard to build in some wonderfilled moments this weekend. We are supposed to get some unseasonably warm weather again, so that should help. Giant late-winter hugs!

  11. Julia, you’ve made it through another loaded day. Good for you! The roses from Carla are stunning. I like the composition of the first photo, as I always enjoy the contrast of the flower with the leaves. What a thoughtful gift. I’m happy to hear you spent some time with Amy and how thoughtful of her to send home all those goodies. Yum! And poetry, too, from Jenna. Cupid has his eye on you, but as is often the case, the girlfriends deliver. xo

    • Yes, Alys, I’ve been walking through an emotional minefield that seemed front-loaded with many high risk occasions, but somehow Matt and I have survived thus far. One thing I learned very early in my life is the importance of friendship. I don’t know how I would have endured life without friends. As C. S. Lewis wrote in reflecting on his own friends, “Sometimes [a person] wonders what he is doing there among his betters. He is lucky beyond desert to be in such company.”

      • That’s a lovely quote, Julia. I’m always impressed the way you can pull these out of a hat, perfect quotes for whatever the situation. I’m sure others feel exactly the same way about your good company.

        • Aww, thanks Alys…but it’s a combination of having the work of so many astounding minds easily accessible, the blessing of amazing search engine power, and having (at UH) sat at the feet of one of the world’s great authorities on how to find info online. So I really can’t take credit. But I’m glad you enjoy the quotes. ❤

          • Julia, when I see you, please tell me more about this interesting man and your work together. I’m intrigued.

            • Alys, I wish I could claim to have worked with Dr. Péter Jacsó, but I was merely one of hundreds of students lucky enough to be in his online information classes. Of course, not all would use the world “lucky” in connection with having him as a professor– he definitely did not suffer fools gladly. Brilliant, witty, dogmatic and demanding, he was an ideal teacher for those who are serious about learning and willing to give it significant chunks of time and effort. But no matter how hard he made us work (and I’m guessing most of us worked hard indeed in his classes) it was always evident that he was working as hard or harder than we were, to give us the tools we needed to succeed as information professionals. I have a lot of funny stories to relate about things he told us, and generally about how the info world used to be, when everything was text-based. In those days, there was no natural language searching, and almost all database searches were done in tightly controlled language, with many databases costing hundreds of dollars per hour to access. In those days, surgical precision in search strategy was a MUST for paid search intermediaries, because false hits or missed targets were very expensive.

              • That’s fascinating, Julia. It’s so easy to take the web for granted. Like anything, we get used to it and then wonder how we ever did without it.

                • Yes, and maybe it’s my imagination, but it seems to me that the more rapidly our technology progresses, the shorter our memory of even the recent past becomes. Logical, but also disturbing…

                  • It is disturbing. I heard a program about this just recently on NPR. We’ve created a whole new world with tech in just a few decades. All other changes throughout history have been far slower.

                    • I’ll have to look up that NPR program. It may feature some of the many authors who are sounding the alarm, and whose work I admire (Sherry Turkle and Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, among others). Progress is a two-edged sword, that’s for sure, but our generation seems to have seen far more than its share of dizzying speed when it comes to changes.

  12. Amy

    I think the natural light gives a truer representation of the color but the flash is awful pretty. 🙂 Hope that helps. I love you.

    • Yes, it’s nice to have both. Love you too.

  13. Harry Sims

    A flash view is a reproduction.

    When I look at another person It’s always in available light.

    Available light seems true-er to me.


    • Harry Sims

      Ps Julia…God loves you! …We love you! … Have a Brobdingnagian Day!

      • Thank you, Harry!

    • Harry, good point. I had not thought of it that way.

      • Harry Sims

        God bless Carla.
        May she have a Brogdingnagion day. 🙂

  14. Look how beautiful those are! The natural day light is always my favourite too. I smiled at your sisters ‘unofficial motto’ 😀 Well I’m a slouch for not even sending out a single card even though we make, fuss, and fix up Urban to the nth degree for the day. It’s like that mechanic who’s car never gets fixed…..do you know what I’m referring too? Such a blessing to be hugged with heartfelt acts of love xoxoxo

    • You are NOT a slouch in any sense of the word! What you and others do at Urban helps less creative folks such as me, and inspires many people to brighten other people’s day. Once at a checkup in the hospital where Jeff worked, the doc was asking me whether I had had this or that routine test done recently (no, no, and no) and he looked at me and said “Do you have Doctor’s Wife Syndrome?” 😀 which is kind of like the mechanic with the broken down car, or the hair stylist who just piles it all up under a clip and works on and on, making others beautiful. So YES I do know what you are referring to…but I think when it comes to adding sparkle to other people’s lives, you are definitely in the top tier. BTW the little church you made me as a Christmas decoration stays out year round…sometimes I even light it up now that you told me it could do that. 😀

  15. Megan

    I hope you got Grady’s Valentine’s card too! I think three years old is the true beginning of holiday enjoyment — Grady got a big kick out of giving Valentine’s out! Carla was so thoughtful to send flowers and glad you got to have a Galentine’s lunch too! Did Matt get to have a Valentine’s party at his program? Lots of love, a week later. 🙂

    • Yes, I did – thank you! He’s at such a wonderful age. I can just imagine him giving out those Valentines and making sure each person got one. Matt did have a Valentine party at his program, and I think he enjoyed it. At his age, everything is much more toned down, which is good. Love and hugs to all. Can’t wait to see you soon and see Owen crawling!

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