Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Springtime Continues....

Spring continues it's slow path, but each day brings new growth.  It has remained rather cool, but sometimes cool is good in the Spring, it allows the Spring flowers to stick around longer.  The daffodils are still blooming, the forsythia still cover their bushes in bright yellow flowers, the tulips are just beginning to bloom, all because we have not had a heat wave that tends to rush these early Spring-time flowers into dormancy.  Spring comes and goes so swiftly that to enjoy these springtime delights longer makes my heart sing.  

It rained yesterday, really rained

And today my quince began to open....yea!!!

PS...If you are looking for a good book to read, "Me Before You" by Jo Jo Moyes is just the ticket!!

Until next time....

Friday, April 25, 2014

Be Wary

Do you see that rug with it's browns and deep rusts and blue greens?  And ofcourse you see the cute kitty...well this happens to be my daughter's home, the rug was originally intended to grace my entrance hall instead of her living room floor.  I ordered this from an on-line company fully expecting the rusts to be more of a burgundy color along with softer pinks, but as you can plainly see that is not what arrived, photos can be deceiving, especially with no description attached. And to make matters even worse, the company did not accept returns....even after a sent a letter of complaint.  They did offer me a $10 credit toward my next purchase, of which I have yet to use.

Which leads me to another story that has been simmering in my head for several weeks.  You know how they say you shouldn't say or do anything while you are in a fretful state of mind, to wait until the anger subsides so you won't do or say anything that you may regret later? After calmness returns and the anger subsides then state your issues and concerns.  I probably shouldn't be using the word anger so much as disappointment.  I briefly hinted a few posts back that the workshop I attended in Charleston, SC did not meet my expectations.  In reality, there was no workshop, there was no individual instruction, there was no classroom time, there was no critiquing of work, there were no hints or tips on how to take better photos.  There was no back-up plans if the rains had continued.  Not only was this "workshop" costly at $799.00 for a mere 2 1/4 days, we were responsible for our own transportation, both coming and going and while there, our own hotel costs, our own food (altho they did make reservations at restaurants which I never came away for less that $35-$40 a meal) our own fees to the plantations and parking fees in downtown Charleston. I walked away from this workshop feeling cheated.  In comparison to the absolutely over-the-top workshop I attended in Tennessee for a full 5 days, with classroom & critique time, one on one instruction continually, planned trips with back-up plans, for $850. I definitely felt cheated.

I will not publish the name of the company I ordered the rug from, nor the names of the instructors, but I felt the need to get this off my chest and remind everyone to be wary of what you purchase, what "workshops" you invest in (and it is an investment after you total up your costs) and to dig a little deeper before plunging into a costly adventure that may not meet your expectations.

"Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness."  ~ James Thurber

Until next time....

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I Do Believe Winter Is Finally Done....

So, to continue where I left off on Monday, after I forgot to change batteries, I did go back to the Arboretum later that same afternoon and even tho it was a little breezy, I was able to capture the magnolias that are in bloom right now.  They are so fleeting, as all Spring flowers seem to be.  The beauty of Spring comes and goes so quickly we really do need to "stop and smell the roses".  This time next week, I am afraid that most of these beauties will have fallen to the ground,

Many of our flowering trees and shrubs have not burst into bloom yet, in fact my quince bush that always blooms each spring with bright pink flowers seems to be in idle mode.  There are tiny buds, but even after the warmth of the weekend weather they are still just as tight as they were last week. I will be disappointed if there are no blooms this year, but I fear that may be the case.  I think Winter was so harsh on our plants that some may not burst forth this year.

Eventho we are still waiting on blossoms, many of our trees have begun to sprout new leaves...those fresh young, bright green leaves.

I even found a red berry or two still left from the winter...

I do believe Winter has finally decided it's done (I say that ofcourse with fingers crossed).

"The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper." 
 ~ Eden Phillpotts 

Until next time.....

Monday, April 21, 2014

More to Come....

Boy, you talk about a bird-brain, not the beautiful robin pictured above, but me....arghhh!! Yesterday's weather was stunning, the warmest in over 10 years for an Easter Sunday which I am sure was God's way of saying, "Thanks for sticking thru that "god" awful winter I dumped at you, now I am treating you to the best Easter weather ever."  And it was glorious.  I will even have to admit getting a little too warm sitting out on my daughter's patio yesterday afternoon, can you believe that came out of my mouth..."too warm???"  ahh we humans, so fickle.

Anywhoo, I knew that the Arboretum would be absolutely packed all weekend, so decided that due to the wonderfully warm weather, there must be tons of blossoms and buds bursting everywhere and today would be the perfect day to go with camera in hand.  Only (this is where bird-brain enters) I forgot to change the battery in my camera. Only after I pulled into the parking lot and taking a couple of shots, that I realized the battery was low.  After saying a few choice words under my breath.....I headed back home to change the battery.  Thank goodness I only live 4.85 miles from the arboretum. When I arrived back home and put in the 2nd battery, it too was low on power. while I am waiting for one of the two (that's why I have two, so I have a back-up....I did mention bird brain didn't I??) batteries to charge thought I would post the only 2 pics I came away with.  And this is only the parking lot....can you imagine what lies ahead?  Stay tuned....more blossoms to come.

Until next time.....

Friday, April 18, 2014

Signs of Spring

Yippee, we are finally, and I really mean that, finally we are seeing signs of Spring in our corner of the world.  Now those little buds probably aren't the most robust signs of Spring, but for me those little tiny nubs of color represent signs of the beauty that will burst forth in days to come.  With the forecast of 60's and 70's with a shower or two is indeed the requirement we need to finally leave old man Winter behind, good riddance I say, and a halleluja welcome to Spring.

The daffodils are making an appearance but with that snow earlier this week, it kinda lowered their little faces downward...I am hoping with the sun back and the temps more springlike, their little faces will once again turn upward toward that warming sun.

Another huge sign of Spring, at least around my house, is Cinder is no longer wearing her bright red Christmas sweater.  She was so out of fashion for far too long so begone and another good riddance....I did buy her a bright pink one somewhere around February, but there must have been something in the material that bothered her because she scratched it until it was literally in shreds, so it was back to the red one.  And fyi, Toby is making great strides in healing.  And he sits still and lets me put in those ear drops without a whimper or a snarl.

No, the tulips are not blooming here yet, still have to purchase them at TJ's, but what would Easter week be without those beautiful blooms that represent Spring and new life.....

Today we Christians honor and celebrate "Good Friday", the day that Jesus Christ died on the cross for mankind.  In these last 40 days prior to Easter Sunday I have given much thought and tried to be mindful of giving up something "bad" for Lent.  No, I did not give up candy or Pepsi or desserts, but what I have tried to give up is apathy, jealousy and being judgemental, being more mindful of conversations, and realizing that with each passing day my life has decreased by one, so living it to it's fullness and awareness is of the utmost importance.

Happy Easter, friends, may your life be full of the grace of new life.

If you have a moment, please hop over to my collaborative blog "Focusing On Life" where I am musing on the platform of our lives.

Until next time....

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Four Letter Word is Back...

I am trying to get back in the habit of blogging on a more regular basis, since I seemed to have lost that MOJO I was talking about earlier.  I guess you have to work at your MOJO, it doesn't just re-appear like a lost shoe.  It's like good habits, you have to work at those daily or you can slip into bad habits.  And so it is with writing and photography, it is a practice that needs regular tending.

We did have a touch of spring last week, but Sunday the clouds rolled in with rain and much cooler temperatures and then late yesterday afternoon that dreaded four letter word returned...SNOW. The weathermen had predicted the snow, but said because the weather had warmed up, that surely it wouldn't stick.  Hah, again Mother Nature fooled us.  It stuck and this morning I woke up to winter white again.  But....the sun is shining, and we will return to Spring later this week, albeit not warm it should be back in the 50's/60's.  Springtime in Chicagoland is always fickle so this should not be a surprise to any of us.  I remember the first Spring we arrived here back in the 70's, Easter Sunday was not tulips and daffodils, but snow and cold.   My son with his new white pants blended nicely with the fresh fallen snow, blended yes, looked ridiculous, yes.

My Toby has been fighting an ear infection for about a week.  Kids....took him to the VET last Wednesday and because it was pretty bad and the Doc couldn't quite determine exactly what the bacteria was, it (not his ear, but a swab of the crap that was oozing, have I grossed you out??) was sent to a lab for further analysis.  Now on his 2nd round of antibiotics and over $400 later he is on his way back to good health.  YIPES!!  Thank goodness it's not contagious or I might be looking at another boatload of money for Cinder.  No wonder there are so many dogs out there looking for new owners thru these adoption agencies.  In these tough times, I can imagine the affordability gets too overwhelming for some.  So far I have been able to disguise his meds via peanut butter, but this latest med is a topical ointment, which means getting into that sore ear.  Hmm, wonder how that is going to play out.

Hoping your week is gifting you with Spring and all the newness it brings....

Linking to Kim's Texture Tuesday today.

"You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety."   ~Abraham Maslow

Until next time....

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Pony Express...

Today is the anniversary of the “First Mail Delivery Day” delivered via Pony Express in 1860 when a westbound rider arrived in Sacramento, CA from St. Joseph, MO.  It took approximately 10 days of hard riding for the mail to be delivered by a band of men, a stable full of horses with many stops along the way for the 1900 mile ride.

And now here we are 154 years later with the US Post Office in dire financial stress, with hints of discontinuing Saturday deliveries and to be honest most times my mailbox is cluttered with unwanted “junk” material.  The art of handwritten letters is too almost gone.  Very few cards or letters ever grace my mailbox, but when they do, it is always a delight.  Thank you notes have now become a quick text or email for many.  Granted technology has made great strides in communications, but sometimes I miss those “bread and butter” letters where you could sit and read about the latest news from a family member or an old college friend. 

Last night I spent a delightful evening with my good friend, Marti where we attended a night with Ben Vereen.  You remember Ben Vereen don’t you?, a great song and dance man, but definitely from an earlier era.  As he told stories and tidbits from his past, he relayed one where he referred to receiving a telegram.  The audience giggled, and then in the same story he mentioned record albums, record players and cassettes.  Words that are not even in our vocabulary today, and most young people have never heard of “telegrams”.   Their telegram is simply a “text” via their phones.  Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for moving forward and new technology (altho I have to admit it moves too fast for me at times), but sometimes a simple card or even a telephone call seems to add a more personal touch.  Can you imagine waiting 10 days via pony express to hear of a birth or a death, no I can’t. So hurrah for the strides we have made in instant notifications, but my hats off to those pony express riders who braved tough trails to bring those much wanted letters from loved ones.  

And by the way ....none of the images have anything to do with the story, just some I had not posted from my Charleston trip.  Hope the week a head is indeed a fulfilled one.  A grace filled Holy Week to my Christian friends and a blessed Passover Week to my Jewish friends.   

"The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience."  ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

Until next time.....

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Has Anybody Seen My MOJO??

Yes, I am still here.  Somewhere over this past winter I seem to have lost my blogging MOJO, and I wish I could say that it's back in full force, but it ain't.  Even with trips to Phoenix and Charleston (the "workshop" was a great disappointment compared to the wonderful workshop I attended in the Fall in the Smokey Mountains) somehow didn't seem to bring me back up to snuff.  Both were delightful trips and eventho the "workshop" wasn't up to my expectations, I did enjoy my time in Charleston. Maybe a swift kick in the pants is what I need.  I can't even blame it on the weather now.  We have had several days in a row of sunshine and warmth with the grass turning greener and a few trees beginning to grow little nubs of buds.  A couple of days ago I walked to my neighbor's house that always has the first signs of Spring popping up in her front yard and compared to former years, the signs were sparse.... I think ole Man Winter really did a number on not only our plant life but on our souls as well.

And with only nubs on the trees I decided a trip to my local garden center might be in order to bring some color and new growth into my winter-worn eyes.  Ofcourse I went right at noon-time when the sun is shining its's brightest, the absolute worst time of the day to take flower shots (told you I lost my MOJO) but I did enjoy the walk and I did capture a few shots.  Then I came home and sat outside in that glorious sunshine, drinking it in and savoring those sweet moments of warming bliss.

So if any of you out there has seen my MOJO walking around appearing lost, could you please return.

And it has been grandson and wife are having a baby girl...bring on the pink!!

"It's a good thing to follow The First Law of Holes: if you are in one, stop digging."  ~ Denis Healey

Until next time......

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The 2nd Day....Doors and Windows

My friend, Jeanne, from Butterfly Tales was flying in from Dallas to join me on my 2nd day in Charleston, SC, but would not arrive until the afternoon.  I had all morning to plan and certainly did not want to waste a moment in this beautiful city.  I decided to sign up for a morning walk in the historic center of Charleston presented by the historical society.  Who better to know this city that one of the docents that took us on this early morning stroll through the cobbled streets of this fabled city.  As you can see by the images many of the trees were not in bloom yet.  They had experienced colder weather than normal like so many of us have this past winter.  And it was cold on this morning....30 degrees cold, so it felt good to see the sunshine.  Thank goodness I had been tracking the weather for about a week prior to my coming and packed warmer clothing, knowing that it wasn't predicted to be very warm during my stay.  I didn't want to make the same mistake I made when flying off to Phoenix with nothing but summer-time clothing only to be greeted by cool weather resulting in a shopping trip. This time I was prepared.

Eventho some of the trees were not in bloom, many of the window boxes and front porch pots were filled with beautiful flowers, something I am only dreaming of back home.

Shutters adorn almost every window....

Painted colors of blue, black & white, yellows, greens, reds, and pinks could be seen everywhere 

And the old brick, with moss growing between the cracks only add to the charm...

At the completion of the walk, I still had some time before Jeanne arrived and since it was lunch-time I decided to eat at the Mills House restaurant, an elegant hotel right across the street from the Historical Center.

After a delicious lunch where I had to try the She Crab Soup, a staple in this area, Jeanne called and said she was on her way to the hotel.  OK, time to get back to the car and return to the hotel....only I couldn't remember where I had parked the car.  I knew it wasn't far but for the life of me I couldn't remember the exact location.  After walking up and down Meeting Street for what seemed like a lifetime, and after asking several people about parking garages, I finally stopped by a young man that was selling trolley tours.  He pulled out a map and began asking me questions about what I had seen as I came out of the garage.  You talk about feeling really stupid...old lady, lost in the middle of historic Charleston seeking help in finding car...sounds like a "want ad".  Anyway the young man was sure it was "this" parking lot, circling the spot on the map.  Sure enough, stupid, lost old lady finally made it back to her rental car and returned to the hotel, while Jeanne had time to unpack and even take a nap.  I told you it seemed like a lifetime....needless to say she was a might worried, but all was well.  Then we headed off on another adventure.

"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it."
Until next time.....