Burning Love

Today is John’s birthday.

It’s the fourth one I’ve been able to share with him and while he doesn’t like to make too much of his own birthdays, he goes out of his way to make mine special. Right about now you may be thinking, “If it’s John’s birthday, why are we looking at a picture of you blowing out candles?”

Let me tell you a story …

Remember when I wrote here about being in Scotland for my birthday? Well, we were there because John had big a reunion nearby with former colleagues from the television station where he’d worked before retiring. A few months before the event, he noticed the date was on my birthday and he kindly asked if I would mind going that evening.

Once he was sure I was fine with sharing the day, he began planning how he might make it memorable for me too. He knows I love a trip to Scotland so it was big part the fun we had on my birthday and our evening finished with a small carrot cake in our hotel that night after the reunion. The cake part presented a little problem though.

I’m a big believer in candle blowing and wish making on birthdays. There’s something hopeful, thankful, and celebratory about the act that feels necessary to me and I can’t imagine a birthday without it.

John is not that bothered by it on his own birthday but he knows how important it is to me. We took the cake with us on our outing thinking we might have it during our day out in Scotland, but stayed in motion so much that we decided to save it for after the reunion. When we rushed in to shower and change for the evening, we realized that we didn’t have a way to light the candles for the cake.

He went out to buy some matches or a lighter and was gone so long I was beginning to worry. I didn’t know that since we were in a hotel in the center of Carlisle and it was evening that the shops would be closed.

Poor John searched everywhere for an open shop to get what we needed and finally ended up a good distance away in a pub that he was familiar with from his days of living there. They didn’t sell matches, but the guy behind the bar gave him a box they had for the pub’s use.

After hearing about his search, I asked him how far he’d had to go before finding them and was really touched when he said, ” About a mile. “

Life with him is like that. A million little sweet gifts of service that say love. I am a fortunate woman to have found this gentle man and I am so happy to be able to celebrate another birthday with him today.

Of course I had to save the matches … I’ll use one later to light a candle or two for John and hope to post a picture here later today of him making a wish.

Here’s a photo to save the spot for now. I think of this look as his determined face. I’ve seen it before although it does look a bit different with the beard and all.

I imagine this was the expression he was wearing all around Carlisle a few weeks ago and it makes me smile just thinking about it.

Birthday Travels & Scary Castles

Double Click On The Image To Step Into The English Countryside

John and I went north last week to attend a reunion with some people he used to work with in Carlisle. Since my birthday fell during that time, we added a few days to make the long drive more fun. I’ve got about 700 photographs from the area where Beatrix Potter used to write about her friends on the farm, and I’d love to show you a few, but you’ll have wait until tomorrow when I’ve had time to sort some out for you.

We skipped over the border of England into Scotland on the 10th for my birthday and came across an 800 year-old castle that too scary to me to even go into. John wouldn’t have minded, but I had an odd feeling and was content to snap my photos from a distance. I’ll tell you what I discovered later when I researched the castle online. Here’s a photo or two so you can see what I mean about spooky.


I’m usually quite fearless when it comes to poking around ancient monuments, but some places feel less inviting than others. Although John never seems to feel this way, I’d be willing to bet that some of my readers know what I’m talking about.


300 Year-Old Graffiti – What We Leave Behind

I tend to think a great deal about what we leave behind when we die. I’ve always been this way. I went through a period at eight where I buried every dead bug I could find in our backyard just to have a reason to talk about the impact of their little bug lives.

What might seem a morbid fascination with death and dying was more of a training ground for creative writing and I got pretty creative delivering my sad little eulogies at the funerals of the roly-poly’s who’d curled up for the last time.

After assembling a collection of stuffed animal mourners, I’d go on and on about their contributions to the bug world and how they would be missed, but not forgotten.

I wonder if the craftsman who built this wardrobe for storage or the person who painted the design on the front for beauty ever considered how long it might last after they were gone.

Even the young want to leave their mark in some way. I guess it never changes, this need to say, “ I was here.”

Yesterday, while walking through a darkened side of a cathedral in Carlisle, I discovered some names carved into the wardrobe sitting next to a stack of modern-day chairs in the photo above.

They were left long ago by what looked like young boys and seeing them makes me wonder who they grew up to be and what kind of lives they lived.

Some of the names were dated over 300 years ago. I bet they could not have imagined they would be shared one day, going all around the world on something called an internet. It makes me think a bit more about what I write and where I leave it.

Today’s my last day of 50 so I’m looking back quite naturally at the past, considering in particular this last year and what I’ve done with it.