Monday, March 24, 2014

I Know You Can, I Know You Can....

I am packing, whoop whoop on my way to Charleston, SC tomorrow to drink in the beautiful surroundings.  My sweetie and I took a vacation there back in the 80's and somehow I don't think a lot will have changed.  The South, especially the Charleston area is so proud of their heritage that they maintain, not tear down and rebuild like so many areas do.  We Americans do have a habit of getting rid of the old, sometimes before it's time, and building something bigger and in some eyes better.  We don't restore like England and many parts of Europe do.  I know it must be terribly expensive to restore, which is probably why glass and steel have replaced stone, wood, and granite. I am off to enjoy some of our American heritage and hopefully capture some southern springtime beauty.

So today I am happy that the suitcases are filling up with springtime clothing, not boots and wooly mittens and hats,  And speaking of suitcases....before I went on my trip to Phoenix in January I purchased some new luggage. The old stuff was heavy and awkward, I upgraded to lighter and with those 360 degree turnaround wheels, it was heaven on wheels, really.  So in this case, it was a good thing to get rid of the old and go with the new.

And speaking of new, my little mums are still looking as new as they did yesterday.  Linking to Sarah Carletti's Macro Monday even tho this isn't truly macro it's close enough...!!

Ho hum, we are predicted for snow tonight and tomorrow morning, putting Spring on hold, once again.  I feel like one of those hampsters in cages running on the wheel that never goes anywhere, just keep seeing the same things over and over again.  But as I filled the bird feeder today for the last time until I return, I spotted a little feather on the ground.  I picked it up, brought it into the house and set up a little springtime vignette.  Now the bird's nest is one that the cardinals nested in last year that I recovered after they fled the nest, the eggs are leftover Easter candy from last year that resemble eggs, heh, I am all for making the most of what you have on hand and since the birds are not quite nesting yet, it's the best I got.....but the feather is fresh from the front yard.

Sadly I have to set up my own Spring vignette for Spring to be present here.  But I know it will come, like the little Engine that could, I know you can, I know you can.....

"Every man is rich or poor in proportion between his desires and his enjoyments."  ~ Samuel Johnson

Have a great week, everyone!!  Probably won't be around much until I return from Charleston.

Until next time....


Sunday, March 23, 2014

The End of the Discontent

It’s been a bad winter and I am just not speaking of the weather which for many of us this was a winter that we do not want repeated any time soon…no, I am speaking of my attitude and my loss of joy during these past few months.  I am not saying that I was in total misery, but many times my daily joy in the little things somehow vanished and I found myself in a winter of discontent. 

Friday I drove to the small town where my daughter lives and where my sweetie’s Memory Care Facility is located until I needed to move him from there to a nursing home facility due to the extra care he needed last summer.  I realized that as I made the drive how much I missed  this trek, this open road with farms on each side of the highway, growing corn or soy beans, or an occasional horse farm.  Prior to moving him this was a regular trip for me and usually after a visit I would wander the country roads snapping pictures of old barns, country roads, and occasionally I would come upon horses, cows or sheep.  This always brought me a feeling of contentment, of peace. 

As I drove yesterday I realized that this trip, this drive, this open road was a big part or lack thereof of my winter of discontent.   There were times when the snow would fall I thought that a drive to the country to capture the fields and barns covered in white should be on my agenda, but somehow I would inwardly talk myself out of going, thinking it might be too cold, or too ice covered, or too many back roads impassable.  So as the winter continued on, my discontent grew. 

Yesterday I spotted a horse running, and kicking, his head bobbing up and down as tho he had just been released from a winter of imprisonment and finally allowed to run free. Almost the way I was feeling as I drove the highway, altho I wasn’t kicking nor was my head bobbing up and down, but I had that same feeling of freedom. 

I witnessed the willows as the color of their flowing branches turn a brighter yellow, a sure sign of spring, and against the pale blue of the sky was a photo op waiting to happen. I saw fields freshly plowed waiting for planting, and a pick-up truck piled high with bags of soy bean seeds in preparation for spring sowing.  While I did see patches of snow, but after the amount of snow that blasted us this past winter, I was surprised that only patches remained.
After a wonderful lunch and girl-talk time with my grand girl, Brie, she wanted me to see her new “babies”….oh my, now what.  Brie’s ambition and her degree will be in zoo keeping, always having a strong love for animals this is the perfect career for her.  Her babies were a pair of gerbels….the only animals that are allowed in her apt at school.  Kinda reminded me of a couple of mice, but I had to admit they were cute.  It was definitely a challenge to capture this image....she NEVER stop moving.

Over at A Beautiful Mess, Elsie and Emma have challenged their readers to a 100 day happiness challenge.   And since my winter of discontent is hopefully drawing to a close, I want to be more joyful, more happy, so I am taking that challenge and each day for at least the next 100 days I am going to be "happy" about something during each day.  Almost like the 30 days of gratefulness I did in November.  I think happiness and gratefulness are coupled, don't you?

So day number 1 I am happy for spending the afternoon with friends enjoying a delightful concert and this beautiful bouquet of little pink mums from my fav flower vendor, Trader Joe's.

What makes you happy??

"A good life is when you assume nothing, do more, need less, smile often, dream big, laugh a lot and realize how blessed you are for what you have." 
-- Author Unknown 

Until next time.....

Friday, March 21, 2014

Random Five On Friday - The March 21, 2014 Edition

Joining in with Nancy for her weekly meme....Random Five on Friday...hop on over and enjoy.

1) Happy Spring everyone.  Now admittedly it is definitely not Spring weather here in Chicagoland since I woke up to this yesterday morn......

The only one in my household that doesn't seem to mind the snow is Toby...

It didn't last long, the sun began shining and the temps warmed up into the 40's to welcome in our new season.

But we are supposed to soar into the 60's today which will be a literal heat wave.  Shorts and sandals will be the attire among the younger set today for sure, but this chick will keep with her less layered attire, probably stripping off one or possibly two layers as the temps rise.  But it's only a tease since the cold is AGAIN returning for the weekend and into next week.

2) I am headed to Charleston, SC on Tuesday for a week's stay which includes a photography workshop, "Charleston in Bloom" but now I am wondering just how much is going to be in bloom.  Hopefully some spring flowers will be popping their heads and a wildflower or two will be emerging, but let's just say the suitcase will be filled with warmer clothing in anticipation of cooler than expected temps. I made that mistake when I went to Phoenix in January.  I fully expected capri weather, but was greeted by much cooler temps which resulted in a shopping trip to add longer legged attire.

3) Yesterday, my oldest grand girl, Bailey took off work for the day and we went shopping at the outlet mall, dinner at the Corner Bakery, and bookclub together.  It is been far too long since I have been with either of my grand girls, with Bailey's job moving her to Rockford instead of convenient Naperville, and Brie is far away at school. Brie is on spring-break so I am meeting her for some girl time today.  My week is always brighter with my grands in view.

4)  I love that app Waterlogue, Even with my old phone it takes decent enough pictures that turn out to be little works of art.  I think it must have gone viral by now because I am seeing it everywhere. Everyone I show it too downloads it immediately and then they show their friends and family and it goes on and on.

5)  Whee, my son gave me a Kindle Fire for my birthday.  I love I see my book titles in color, can enjoy magazines, newspapers, my e-mail...I never purchased any books for my old Kindle that contained pictures (ie: Cookbooks or even Photography Books) because of the lack of color.  But now that has been eliminated with this new gift.  Thank you, Lane. And btw, on my shopping trip yesterday I had to buy a pretty new Vera Bradley sleeve to wrap around my new gift....after all I did have my birthday coupon that made it's cost easier on the wallet.

And if you could, please hop over to my collaborative blog, Focusing On Life where I am sharing one of my writing assignments from the recent Writing class I just completed.

"Be willing to take the first step, no matter how small it is.  Concentrate on the fact that you are willing to learn.  Absolute miracles will happen."  ~ Louise Hay

Until the next time....

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A "Cozy" Story

My garage is so crammed with "stuff" that there is only room to squeeze the car in on one side of the 2 car garage. I do have an excuse....well, I call it an excuse.  I cleaned out the office last summer with some of the leftover furniture aka file cabinets etc being hauled into the garage and along with that "stuff" add to that more "stuff" leftover from the move of my sweetie from the Memory Care Facility to the Nursing Home.  At the Memory Care facility he had a nice apartment style room with his own furniture, linens, art work on the walls, etc.  In moving to the nursing home, none of that was needed. So between the office remodel and the switch in "care" facilities my garage took the brunt.

When our "record breaking" winter took it's first stab at us way back in December, which by the way seems like ions ago, I felt it was time to make room for the 1 car in our 2 car garage so I pushed, piled, and shoved to make room for my Honda CRV.  She needed to be out of that bad wind, snow and cold. I certainly didn't want her dying on me when I did find the courage to venture out.  There is so little room that I have to turn sideways to walk between the "stuff" and the car. I can't tell you how many times I have brushed up against the winter dirty car which leaves winter crap all over my coat as I inch my way into the driver's seat.

I mentioned that the snow is melting big time here, and instead of snow this week, we are getting rain instead.  That is a good and bad thing.  The bad thing is that it is adding more puddles of water to our already water-logged soil which in my world translates to more mud on my kids' paws, but the good news is I decided to leave my car outside for a free car wash.  The thing is....due to the coziness (I love that word so much better than crammed full of stuff) I can't get my garbage bins out of the garage unless I back the car out to allow room...those are pretty big bins, wider than me so there is no way I can inch those bins out without first moving the car.  And yesterday being garbage day, the car was moved outside.  And ofcourse the car remained outside until Mr. Garbage Truck picked up my curbside garbage.  This story is really getting exciting isn't it....garbage, just exactly what you all are dying to read about...snort. So being the ever lazy person that I have become as the years pass, I never went out to drive the car back into the "cozy" garage.  I said above that "I decided to leave my car outside"....heck it was just pure laziness thru and thru that prevented me from returning the car to it's almost too tight spot in the garage.  But as it turned out, leaving the car outside did indeed prove lazy worthy, she is clean again.  All that winter crap has been washed away and down the proverbial drain.

Oh and by the way....these pictures have absolutely nothing to do with the story I just told.  Just figured after writing about crammed garages and garbage a little pretty might brighten up this post.

"Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world."   ~ George Bernard Shaw  

Until next time.....


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A New Word, A New House, and New TV

Did you know that the average amount that a tulip stem "grows" after it's been snipped is 1 inch?  How is that possible?  The flower is phototropic.  Look at that word thought I misspelled photographic.  Well, admittedly they are photographic, but the spelling is correct, it is phototropic meaning it stretches toward sunlight, even when snipped, placed in water and sitting in a lovely vase. So to keep your bunch (of which I bought 2 after church on Sunday....Trader Joe's is just across the parking lot) pert and pretty, rotate your container 180 degrees every day.  This way the tulips won't lean too far in any one direction as they extend to that 1 inch.  And to keep them fresh and and staying longer, trim the stems and change the water daily.

Well, holding my breath, we have had no snow for a few days, every bit of snow is gone from the front yard (replaced with mud that my kids find with no problem) thus presenting me with, you got it, muddy paws.  If Toby weighed a pound heavier I would not be able to pick him up and commence the foot bath in the kitchen sink.  It was while I was giving said foot bath that I spied out the kitchen window the sweet little house finches house hunting.  Or I should say nest hunting.  I have a lot of ivy growing up the sides and under the eaves of the screen porch and it appears that they may put on option down on a spot under the eaves.

Mr. was already gathering bits to begin the furnishings, a sure sign of Spring.  Boy I did a rotten job of clean-up last fall.  That is a double dead hanging planter that the Mr. is helping himself to.  Well at least it is getting some use after hanging around all winter.  

Have you watched any of those new TV shows that started a week or so ago....Resurrection is one and the other is Believe?  Resurrection has me curious and Believe leaves me exhausted after all the running and hiding.  And then "Dancing With The Stars" is making it's appearance again for the 17th time. But I gotta admit here I am having some trouble with who is the star and who is the dancer.  So many faces I don't recognize, but both of those Olympic ice skaters can move around the dance floor as beautifully as they did on the ice.  Derek's partner (he is one of my favs) the lady that had both legs amputated, amazing.  And I also have to say that Erin Andrews does a bang up job with co-hosting.  Hint....tape it and watch it without all those dang commercials. The 2 hour show can slide into 1 hour with omitting all the ads and the extras.

Hope you are having a star studded week, and Spring is making an appearance in your world.

"Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film."   
~Ansel Adams

Until next time....

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Week That Was....

After seeing a glimpse of Spring on Monday & Tuesday, Mother Nature decided our winter and snow was not over yet.  But this time she gave us a glorious, magical snowfall.  The kind of snowfall that can spell danger for possible heart attacks because it is filled with ice crystals and wet, wet snow.  As beautiful as it may look, it is the worst kind for clean-up.  But since I am not part of the clean-up crew my perspective is more positive.  I am seeing pure beauty.  You know the kind of snow I am talking about, the kind that clings to everything it touches leaving behind blankets of pure white snow.

Now we have had our fair share of snow this past winter....what am I saying fair share??? I mean we have almost topped the all-time record for snow this year, but it has always been that light puffy snow, easily removed, but not the good snow-ball - snow man making kind of snow.  I need to go on a treasure hunt to find some good home-made snowmen, but unfortunately I think because everybody is so fed up with winter and snow, that not even good packin' snow is enticing many to venture out as it would have earlier in the year.  Even the ducks and geese are ready for this winter to "be gone"...

Well, it is now Saturday, didn't even finish this post that I began on Wednesday....oh inspiration please return.  Even tho I have moaned and complained (and by the way I am definitely not the only one complaining about this winter, just to be clear) one good thing that has returned to my life is my love of reading.  There was a time that I literally devoured books, finish one, immediately start another.  But then, something happened, don't know what, I stopped reading.  Well, not completely, but the only books I read for probably the last 4 years was whatever my book club was reading for the month. And many times I skipped those.  Books enrich your life, so why did I stop?  Still a mystery to me....but anyway with this lengthy winter I began reading again and it's brought me a lot of the joy I used to feel as I read good books.  I love the way some authors can just literally mesmerize you with their style of writing, their way with the written word.  And with the lightweight of the Kindle it makes it easier to hold books for long periods of time.  I gotta admit as this aging process takes over my body, the arthritis in my fingers has progressed to the point where it just downright hurts to hold a book, especially a hard back book for long stretches.  I still would prefer to have the "real" book sitting by my bedside table, but for comfort and ease I have fully embraced my kindle.

Spring is on it's way....slowly, very slowly.  After the wet snowfall we had on Tuesday night, it began to warm-up again with the melting snow piles getting smaller.  And ofcourse the mud, and the dirty paws, but that comes with Spring, part of the ritual.  The birds are returning, you can see them gathering bits to begin their nesting, green is beginning to make an appearance underneath the melted snow.  I know winter is not over yet, but at least we are on the downhill swing.

And one last pic.....I couldn't resist.  The only thing that Cinder cannot  pass up is a piece of paper that has fallen on the floor.  A napkin, a paper-towel brings Cinder to inspect and and begin to rip and chew until I stop her with just a word.  She usually does this in secret, but somehow one of the "pieces" caught on her tooth and there was no hiding the guilt.  It's like the proverbial "kid caught with the hand in the cookie jar".

And another Lenten thought.....

Do more than belong: participate.
Do more than care: help.
Do more than believe: practice.
Do more than be fair: be kind.
Do more than forgive: forget.
Do more than dream: work.  ~ William Arthur Ward

Until next time.....

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Birthday, Some Melting, and Waterlogued

Happy Birthday to Me
Happy Birthday to Me
Happy Birthday to Meeee
Happy Birthday to Me 
 (and many more)

Did ya get it....yeah, today is my birthday.  Not sure how I am going to celebrate.  Good friends are out of town, daughter is up to her eyeballs in work, grands are all busy with work and school, son is too far away. I go shopping?  Do I go on a little photo jog? Do I stay home and read? Do I work on my writing assignment for the week? Do I clean out a closet....omg NO.  

The sun is shining and it feels almost like Spring outside....the big thaw has commenced bringing puddles and mud and slop.  But at least there is a hope of Spring finally making an appearance in this winter that will soon be written down in the annuls of Chicago history as being one of our worst on record.  We could still get snow, but with the days ticking off closer to the official start of Spring it's not likely to stick around too long.  And how about these longer days....sunsets so much later and we have gained over 3 hours of sunlight since December.  That in itself is something to celebrate.

I finally downloaded that app, Waterlogue onto my very old and very out-of-date I-Phone, but I love the results that this app gives to images.  I have always been a watercolor fan, so this is right up my alley.....sure makes those flowers from TJ's that are almost in the wilted stage look beautiful.  

And yesterday after church and enjoying breakfast at a new spot in town with a girlfriend, driving home I snapped a couple of pics in our older part of town....

Gotta go, the "kids" are wanting to come back inside which means major paw clean-up.  Have a wonderful day and a springlike week!!  

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." 
-- Thoreau 

Friday, March 7, 2014

My Random Five on Friday - The March 7, 2014 Edition

It's time once again for Nancy's meme Random Five On Friday....I always enjoy this, not so much for myself as I enjoy reading the randomness of other blogging be sure and hop on over and read all the random fun thoughts from the many that join in the fun.

1)  First and foremost and the MOST significant event in my life this week is ....drum roll please, I am going to be a great-grandmother.  My grandson, Brandon and his lovely wife Hilary are having a baby....whoop whoop.  It has been far too many years since we have had babies in our family, so with this news I was beyond overjoyed.  Actually I have known this for almost 2 weeks, but they wanted to keep it under wraps until all was well.  Can you imagine how difficult this has been for me?  Me who likes to share just about everything about my life.

2) And another family event, today is my daughter-in-law, Nelly's birthday.  She and my son Lane have been married for 2 years and I can honestly say that she has made my son the happiest I have ever seen him.  He was 43 years old when he finally met and married Nelly, this Mom had pretty much given up on ever having a daughter-in-law, but fate moved in and the rest is blissful history.

3)  I am not sure which I enjoy more during these last days of winter....the bouquets of flowers from TJ's that bring so much color into the house, or the bright colors of the beautiful cardinals that brighten the world outside.

4) Read in the newspaper this morning that there are 24 days until baseball season begins...there is going to have to be a whopping amount of melting going on in these next 24 days for this summertime sport to make its debut in Chicago.  According to the forecast it could reach 50 by Monday....oh that makes my heart happy.

5) And, a hop over to my collaborative blog "Focusing On Life" would be much appreciated where I am musing on "Lasting Impressions" today.

So that's is pretty calm right now, will see my friends from Arizona this evening for dinner after 3 days of them being with the family of his good friend who passed away.  I was hoping to spend more time with them, but they were where they needed to be.

"There's nothing like having grandchildren to restore your faith in heredity. "  ~  Doug Larson

 Until next time.....

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A Few Thoughts

So, today starts the season of Lent.  I know that in some Christian faiths that might mean giving up something like I gave up Pepsi when I was younger.  Some give up chocolate or today I heard someone say they gave up round cookies....what the heck, all you have to do is drop the box and now the cookies are crumbs, and no longer round.  Personally I don't think giving up Pepsi's or round cookies is exactly what Lent is all about.  Have a better attitude, give or help someone in need, forgive an old grunge that has been hanging around forever, pray more and whine less, be a positive not a negative influence on someone's life, smile more and frown less....these are a few of my ideas of what Lent is about.  Has a little more impact than giving up Pepsi's.

I know my attitude of late has been pretty sour....I'll blame it on the weather and the bad cold, but instead of whining about it, I should have been doing something more constructive, more significant. But today, with the beginning of Lent, I am going to try my darndest to bring back that more grateful attitude, try to shed those negative thoughts and realize the bounties that I have.  That white stuff will eventually disappear, it may be June, but it will go away and while it is melting I want to be joyful and not mournful.

It snowed again today (so what's new) but instead of sulking about it, I decided that I would go to the Arboretum, which always brings me joy, and see the fresh fallen snow,  It was a perfect time to go, very few cars so I could stop anywhere and step out of the car and snap a pic or two without the worry of anyone behind me, There was such a sense of peacefulness.  The only movement was the squirrels searching for those nuts they had buried last Fall and a few birds that fluttered up above.

It's hard to believe that maybe (keeping fingers crossed) that this time next month a wildflower or two might be peeking thru after being asleep for such a long winter.

"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It's perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we've learned something from yesterday."  ~John Wayne

Until next time.....

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Happy Paczki Day

Happy Paczki Day....what's a Paczki you might ask?  A polish donut, a particularly sweet, delicious, filled donut that is traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday (kinda of an appropriate name for consuming these sweet morsels).  Fat Tuesday is the day before the beginning of Lent in the Christian world. This Polish tradition was to make these tasty morsels to try and use up all the lard, sugar, eggs & fruit in the house since it was forbidden to consume these during the Lenten season.  Using these kitchen staples is no longer forbidden during Lent but the tradition of Paczki's continue (thank goodness)

Now I am not Polish, not a lick of Polish in my blood line, but that doesn't stop me from joining in and eating these delicious mounds of sweet, fruit filled delights.  Today was cleaning lady day and she happens to be Polish, so not only was I treated to a nice clean house today but also a couple of Paczki's in a brown paper bag.  Yummy.  I ate one and then shortly thereafter ate the other, and no I didn't even think about taking a picture.  They were consumed before I even thought to pick up my camera. 

Today was my first day out of the house in over a week.  Oh my did that feel good, the sun was shining and the temps were all the way into the 20's.  Went to the hair salon so Laurie could do a little trimming and shaping of the straggly hair, stopped by Trader Joe's to pick up more pomegranate seeds, dog food and ofcourse a bouquet or two of flowers and then treated myself to lunch at Panera's.  The daffodils are out at TJ's, so that must mean spring is on its way.  But I'm hearing snow is returning again tomorrow. What the heck, enough is enough.

My friends from Phoenix are flying in tomorrow, the friend that had been suffering from Pancreatic Cancer passed away and his funeral is this week.  It will be nice to see them again so soon, but unfortunately for unpleasant reasons.  Cancer is such an ugly disease, too much suffering.  

But on a brighter note, today is my youngest granddaughter's 21st birthday.  Now all 3 of my grands are adults, able to vote and drink (legally). Happy Birthday, Brie!! 

Joining Kim Klassen for her Texture Tuesday today with a couple of images of the dried roses that I hung onto from last week. I think roses are beautiful in all of their stages, from bud to bloom to dried, each one a beauty.  I used Kim's "Daisy" texture on both images, only one layer at soft light.  

"Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face". ~ Victor Hugo  

Until next time....