Merry Christmas from the Maxwells

Greatest gift

Merry Christmas friends and family!

I was asked recently if I was religious. I wasn’t sure how to answer other than we are Christians who believe Christianity is different than all other religions because Christ comes to you instead of you working your way or being “good enough”. He loves us all. Period.  We believe in God the Father, Jesus His Son and the Holy Spirit, faith, prayer, grace, and salvation. We believe Jesus died for our sin and if we accept this gift of Jesus in our place, paying our sin debt, that we don’t deserve, or could have in any way earned and accept Jesus as our Savior that we can have eternal life in Heaven.

I don’t really see how anyone could look at this awesome beautiful intricate world and not see something bigger than themselves. In this spirit and because we pray every person, all family, and every friend also accept His gift, we wish you all a blessed Christmas and pray you know the real reason for the season.

For the 31 million seconds of twenty seventeen…

What they say about time flying by as you get older must be true. I have no idea where this year went. We’ve had our share of ailments and illness this year but since complaining doesn’t do any good. I’ll just focus on the good stuff.

I kept my local camera club membership and shoot photos for their monthly themes and critiques, but what I love best are all the field trips to places I didn’t know existed.  If you type CCOH in the search bar on the main page you can see these.  I even did an overnight trip in May to Little Switzerland with the group. A few of the gals went on our own excursions too. It’s nice making new friends with similar interest. I am going to continue making scripture photos where I take photos, add scripture and share. I continue to enter photography contest and appreciate each of you who take the time to vote.

I continue to design book covers and product photography and my wonderful husband continues to do construction- although overdoing it has caught up with him. He skipped the yearly beach golf outing last year and this year. I hope he is able to do that next year!

We have come to enjoy sitting on the porch with a beverage in the evening if the weather permits. We gave each other a firepit to extend that time.

24796320_10214314001301902_5786036643306432468_n2017 waterfalls

I didn’t think that we’d hiked to so many waterfalls until I started working on my 2018 calendar and they hardly fit on the page. If I remembered to tag them all you can see them here.

January we had a snow with huge beautiful snowflakes and I finally got a photo that I liked. This year probably held the record with me standing outside at night with my camera pointed toward the sky. Starting this month when I shot the trio of the moon, Venus & Mars. I love the fog in the mornings and took several morning walks with my camera. It’s amazing how much more you can see when you don’t care if you’re presentable before heading out the door. Mom invited me to Biltmore House and I enjoyed it more now that they allow photography, although I prefer the outside to the house interior.

February we got to work on the back privacy fence, where I spotted a new “M” for my last name project. Hubby had found an old twisted tree that l wanted in the backyard for birds to land on. I put varnish on it and stuck it in the ground. A pair of woodpeckers were the first to check it out. Not really the birds I’d hoped for if I want it to last a few years.  We gave mom a pass to the NC Arboretum for her milestone birthday and we went walking a few times over the year. Shooting toward the sky again, I shot the penumbral lunar eclipse and tried my hand at capturing the space station fly over.

On a March Sunday we woke to snow, the roads stayed clear and it was gone by that afternoon- now that’s hubby’s kind of snow. I love the four seasons we have here in western NC. Then again I don’t have to work outside when it’s in the 20’s either.

KY April 2017-287 (Mobile)April we actually took an anniversary trip in the month of our anniversary. We were going to go somewhere a little farther off but we spent some of our “anniversary budget” on new porch furniture. Now if the neighbor’s cat will just stay off it. I don’t want black hair all over it, and I don’t want my indoor-only cats freaked or stressed by its presence. Charlie is a pretty cool cat… in his own yard. We went to Kentucky and like all the vacations I plan – we saw a ton of things including horses, Mammoth Cave, the Ark, Keeneland, a baseball bat factory, Shaker Village, Makers Mark Distillery, Kentucky Stonehenge, a natural bridge and Cumberland Falls.

Tyler & Trinity turned 10 and have finally gotten used to the gravel driveway sound and most of the time the ice-maker. They continue to bring me joy and laughter. I don’t care how much my husband protests – he has set times and patterns with both cats that they both look forward to.

I went with a friend to help hold stuff for a photoshoot she was doing and I actually used my tripod and got a few shots of the falls. I’ve been to Pearson Falls several times now but it’s an easy walk and I see new beauty every time.

May started a record high spotting of snakes through spring and summer. Most were black snakes but a few were copperheads. Of course, May is mother’s day and this year at Biltmore church they had cards out to sponsor children for Compassion Child. We picked Sofia who turned 8 in November. She’s a cutie and I hope someday to get a photo of her smiling. While continuing to work in the yard and trying to figure out what do with the stream Hubby made a little pond, I named Maxwell Pond, but when it dried up he did drainage pipes underground instead. We discovered that the almond tree he bought and had to move to build the house is actually a peach tree. Who knew they were in the same family?

In June hubby partially enclosed the carport. Cut several huge pine trees and we planted lots of leylands, with some Carolina sapphires and maples trees and put out lots of mulch. We went to Roan Mountain but we’ll have to make another trip because we haven’t seen the rhododendrons blooming. That same day we saw Elk Falls, and the Elizabethton covered bridge where we saw a heron catch a fish in the Doe River.

July mom and I drove to Tuxedo to see the flags representing the 22 per day Veterans that take their lives. So sad. After we left we were just driving and saw a sign for the Poinsett bridge in SC so we went to look. What a beautiful stone bridge. I think the sign said it was once a road. Sort of last minute we decided to go watch the fireworks this year. I wanted to try to do a pull technique with my camera only to find out it won’t do that. I went with Paula for another photo shoot and she drove up to Jump Off rock afterward we saw a fire and a rain shower while watching a sunset. What a trio! Hubby and I took a goof-off day and went to find waterfalls. We were on a road near Mount Mitchell that was just covered in blue butterflies. We saw Walker Falls, Douglass Falls, deer, and Roaring Fork Falls and somehow managed to not get rained on when we were out of the car. I tried again to capture lightning but still, have nothing notable to show for it. Toward the end of the month despite a manhunt on the parkway for a killer we went up so I could try to shoot the milky way. We were not even sure if we were looking at it but the camera saw more than our eyes did. We scouted out places in the path of totality for the solar eclipse. We were going to hike to the top of Table Rock in SC but I just couldn’t do it in the time constraint we had. We did see a waterfall and copperhead in the park.

August brought the much anticipated total solar eclipse. I’d planned for this for months! I bought filters, I read all sorts of stuff including my camera manuals. We decided on Bald Rock in SC. We got there early and baked in the sun until the clouds rolled in and we got rained on. We brought umbrellas which helped with the rain but at totality, there were so many clouds all we could see was the sky turn to dusk. We heard of several people under clouds that parted just in time to view totality. Since I had the filters anyway I discovered I could capture sunspots on the sun which was pretty cool. We tried our hand at making jelly from Hubby’s grapes. It turned out good but now I know just how much darn sugar is in jelly! My cousin came to visit and we went to the arboretum, up the parkway and up to wonderfully cooler Mount Mitchell.

September we’ve been in the house a year now and we are still not done painting the outside, but we’ve done lots of work in the yard- making it larger than we intended. We went to a Lynard Skynard / Marshall Tucker concert in SC to a venue we’ve never been to. Without notifying people they decided to not allow chairs. Thankfully we had one blanket in the car.

We watched kayakers then hiked to Harper Creek Falls, and Walker Hollow Falls. The first waterfall made me wish I’d picked a backpack (mom’s birthday gift to me) and carried bear spray. It’s a pretty waterfall and one to see as the pictures just don’t capture this large double falls. We bushwhacked off the beaten trail to find a “hidden waterfall” in Dupont with a sandy beach. We had it all to ourselves. This month I finally got the space station flyover shot I wanted and a bonus plane trail. I captured my all time favorite hummingbird shot while sitting on the porch. It actually may be my favorite shot this year- this or the sun ray shot at Craggy.

October we took the train ride for my belated birthday, stopping at Alarka Falls first.   I went to the WWPW led by Mike in Asheville and I led another WWPW and picked the NC Arboretum this time. I’d made several trips to scout it out this year.

We went to Little Branch falls, followed by sunset up at Max Patch with a stop to see the cross at Lake Junaluska. First outing my new photo backpack went on and because of my back and right arm it was the only outing it made this year. I hope to use it a lot in 2018.

November we did a long day of our annual leaf looking.  We went to Virginia to see Mabry Mill and came back a long drive back on the Parkway stopping at several overlooks. We went back to the parkway to Looking Glass overlook to see our first sunrise on the parkway.

December we drove back to Kentucky specifically to see the moonbow at Cumberland Falls during the super moon. While we were there we walked to Eagle Falls. In early December we got 11″ of snow and our poor Carolina Sapphire hedge took quite the hit. Hubby just can’t be contained by snow so we drove up to Jump Off Rock. We went to see the  Winter Lights at the arboretum- that’s where the top image came from. I’ve been doing one all white ornament each year since 1991 – this year it was the snowman on an all green decorated tree.

A super nice client, Ceil with New Sun invited me to their Christmas dinner at the Grove Park Inn. I got there about an hour early to see the gingerbread houses. The detail on those are amazing – even in the youth category. The camaraderie and view were both a joy.

This year, especially this month has been packed. Just not enough hours in each day. Throw on top of that stuff you didn’t plan for and the time just vanishes.

Since you can follow me on social media and here on my blog  (and there are almost always pics to go with my post-hence all the links) this will probably be my last Christmas letter recap because for most of you I’m writing stuff you already know about. If you’d like to see post throughout the year, you can sign up under Follow this Blog if you’d like to get emails when I post.

Merry Christmas.

I hope each and every one of you
have a blessed, and happy 2018.

Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

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Follow my blog here https://kimberlyhmaxwell.wordpress.com/

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