Thursday, May 31, 2012

Me, In a Nutshell (May Photos, Day 30)


As I think I might’ve mentioned before, I haven’t really been reading ahead in the prompt list for the daily photo challenge.  I mean, I read the whole thing, of course, but I didn’t really study it and make a plan.  So it is that I was a little surprised by today’s theme—“your personality”. 

Really?  I’m supposed to encapsulate my personality in a single picture?  That seemed pretty daunting.  I mean, forget just capturing my natural essence in a photo . . . first I have to decide what that essence is.

So, I thought and thought. (Actually, now that it comes up, it seems I’ve done a lot of thinking during this challenge.  hmm.)  Like most folks, I’m multi-faceted.  I like to think I’m kind, funny, open, and honest.  But I can also be cranky, picky, and withdrawn.  And what about my love for TV, music, writing, photography?  And being a huge Star Trek fan; that’s part of my personality, too, right?  How to choose what to immortalize?  And how to actually get it done?  Clearly, more thinking was called for.

But, eventually, it all started to make some sense.  And, honestly, it turns out being a Trek fan is a bigger part of me than I might’ve thought.  Because that’s the same part of my personality that makes me hopeful for the future; that makes me believe that human kind will find a way to get past all of our petty bickering and work together for the common good.  It’s the part that makes me think that the simplest way to get along with others is to live by the Golden Rule . . . and the part that gets hurt every time I realize not everyone will do that. 

It seems that the biggest part of my personality is the part that says the very best thing in the world is the ability to love others, to try and make kindness my stock in trade (and to find forgiveness on those occasions when kindness slips away), and to remain optimistic about the world we live in. 

As I said, I’m multi-faceted, so even the basic goodness with which I try to live my life isn’t all encompassing, but if that was all that a stranger knew about me, I think that would be enough.

What about you?  What aspect of your personality would you like others to judge you by?

30.  My personality

As the song says, I’m a lover, not a fighter. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Waiting is the Hardest Part


                                                                      Image courtesy Melissa Venable photostream.

Got a call yesterday evening from my sister-in-law; father-in-law had been taken to the hospital, and no one was exactly sure what the problem was.  Later in the evening, another call said maybe it was a mild heart attack, but the doctors weren’t even sure about that.  He was going to be kept in the hospital for a day or two for observation and testing.  Today, with things going a little bit downhill, they finally discovered the problem:  brain aneurysm.  He is currently being moved to a different hospital for an emergency surgery.

While my husband has never had what I would characterize as an extremely close relationship with his family, he does have—like a lot of sons—strong feelings for his dad.  That makes it difficult, at times like these, to be many states away.

My father-in-law—Pop, as he’s been known around our house since our son was born—is a relatively healthy man, but he is also an elderly man; he celebrated his 99th birthday just a couple of months ago.  Bleeding in the brain is not something to be taken lightly in any patient, but certainly not in someone who is so close to the honor of being labeled a centenarian. 

So, we sit here, 1500 miles away, wishing there was something we could do, but knowing there is not. 

And we wait.

May Photos, Day 29—A Number


29.  A Number

Want to visit a world of learning and magic, friendship and loyalty, childhood and rites of passage?  Then you need to take a trip on the Hogwart’s Express, boarding only at platform 9¾.

Best point of embarkation ever.


Monday, May 28, 2012

May Photos, Day 28—The Weather Today


It was another pretty day here in central Oklahoma—bright sunshine and very little wind.  Of course, it was also pretty danged hot—in the 90s, with a heat index of about 103.  Glad we had our cookout yesterday; would’ve been much more uncomfortable today.

But, the sunshine only lasted until early evening, and then some showers moved through.  Thankfully, we didn’t get the hail they said might come with the storm, just a mostly gentle rain. 

So, since we had a variety of weather, today’s another day where I’ve got a variety of pictures.  The caption ought to be the standard quip we use around these parts:  “If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, wait five minutes, it’ll change.”

28.  The Weather Today

What’s the weather like in your neck of the woods? 

Celebrating the Blessed Life (May Photos, Day 27)



  Image courtesy eddiecoyote photostream


I would be remiss if I didn’t take time during this holiday weekend to remember the reason it is a holiday at all.  We are blessed in this country to have a group of Armed Services who are willing to protect the liberties that we so often take for granted.  But the sad reality of such a courageous group of men and women is that when they walk into harm’s way, not all of them return home.  From the earliest days of America, continuing to this very moment, we have service members risking their lives in service to our country, and I am grateful for all they do.  So it’s the least I can do to publicly take a moment to thank them for their service and sacrifice, and pray that those who paid the ultimate price know that their countrymen are grateful.

As is our way around here, we commemorate such occasions as Memorial Day by enjoying the freedoms with which we’ve been blessed.  We spend the weekend relaxing, hanging out with family and friends, cooking out, and anything else that seems like it would be just plain fun.  Today, I honored that tradition.

The day was beautiful—unusually calm, bright sun but mild temperatures—just about perfect for sitting on the deck by the pool with family and enjoying loads of food.  Both my sisters joined us, along with the brothers-in-law and my 13 year old nephew.  We ate, and talked, and laughed for hours; it was great.

Memorial Day Cookout


                                               The family










And as for the daily photo, I mentioned the mounds of food, right?  Finding “something sweet” wasn’t a problem.

27.  Something Sweet

For those of you celebrating this weekend, I hope that your gatherings have been as enjoyable as mine. 

And for those of you serving, as well as the families left with only memories, I thank you.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

May Photos, Day 26—12 O’Clock


Every day holds two opportunities to capture what’s happening when the clock hands are straight up, but my midnight activities tend to be fairly consistent:  watching TV most often, though sometimes—like now—I’m spending time during the first hour of the new day blogging. 

But neither of those are particularly exciting photo ops, so that left left me with noon.  As it happens, I had to buy a new printer on Friday (don’t get me started on the way computer peripherals get outdated as you update the computer itself), so Saturday afternoon I was still figuring out how to use it properly.

26.  12 o'clock

  I only have a couple of specific needs out of my printer (beyond basic printing, of course, but I figure most all of them can get that done):  I need to be able to save a document directly to a PDF file, and—most important of all—I need to be able to scan multiple photos and save them as separate files.  In the category of bells and whistles, these things don’t seem all that spectacular to me, but apparently not all machines are able.

So, while I did the basic set up and tested actual printing on Friday night, Saturday I had to make sure I could scan and save photos properly.  Naturally, it was nothing readily apparent, but with a bit of reading, I did find the right buttons to choose the proper settings and get it done.  Might not be the most exciting way to spend a Saturday afternoon, but I’ve been meaning to get back to my project of digitizing all my old printed pictures, so it was a critical undertaking.  I’m glad I could call it a success.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dang it, Saturday Again!


Not that I’m opposed to Saturday, of course.  Really, just the opposite.  But, it means I let another Friday pass by without doing Five Question Friday.  (I did check last week, but they were taking a week off from the prompt list.)five question friday

Anyway, again under the heading of ‘better late than never’, here we go . . .   

Oh, and if you want to visit the original host, go here.


1. Are you a napper?

Every chance I get.  It’s one of those things that definitely can’t be fully appreciated until you’re older—too bad the habit is wasted on the kids!  On the other hand, I’m always up way too late at night and then often sleep in the next day, so I can’t say that my sleep patterns should necessarily be emulated.

2. What was your favorite subject in school? Most hated?

I always loved English.  Reading, writing, discussions about literature, it didn’t matter; I loved it all.  Heck, I didn’t even really mind diagraming sentences. 

The other end of the spectrum, though, was math.  As far back as I can remember, and all the way to my college courses, I struggled with the ‘rithmetic.   It’s really not any different now, except that I don’t have to sit through any more classes.  But if it’s much more complicated than add/subtract/multiply/divide, I am not your girl. 

3. Did you have the something old new borrowed and blue at your wedding? What were they?

Yep, but only two items.  Borrowed an old-time coin for my shoe, and got a new blue garter.

4. What one thing are you determined to do this summer?

There are two, really.  Continue my exercise regimen (which will hopefully lead to a loss of another 10 pounds), and get back to my project of scanning my old photos.

5. Ice cream or Popsicles?

As a rule, ice cream, though I’ve always been fond of Creamsicles, which are close to a lovely combination of the two. 

Yep, this is still fun, even if it is still a day late.  If you’re needing something to post about, or just something sort of light and whimsical, do play along.

Enjoy the holiday weekend.

May Photos, Day 25—Unusual


Well, I started the day—at 8:30am, which is unusual in its own right—helping Brian plant a new tree and then helping get rid of some wayward branches.  He snapped a pic of me pruning twigs off one of the things, and, really, me doing yard work is just about as unusual as it gets.

But then we went to Lowe’s in search of a replacement patio umbrella (no luck there, but we did finally find one at Wal-Mart.  Go figure.), so we were wandering around the garden area.  Seems there are plenty of unusual things for folks to sit around out in their yards/gardens.  Some are cute, some sort of ugly, and some are pretty close to incomprehensible.  I’ll let you decide for yourself to which category this guy belongs.  25.  Unusual

Friday, May 25, 2012

Another Door Opens (May Photos, Day 24)


24.  Something New


There’s no getting around it:  losing my job earlier this year was a crushing blow.  And the complete lack of success at finding a new job hasn’t done much for the positive mindset, either.

However, one of the things that’s been a positive outcome of the unexpected unemployment has been the time to focus on myself.  I’ve stepped up my walking regimen (NPI), started the Couch to 5K program, spent more time with my blog, enjoyed the daily photo challenge . . . it’s a pretty nice list, really.  And I’ve also spent a lot of time thinking about just what it is that I’d like to do with my life.

Well, I should clarify that I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to do that’s at least remotely practical.  I’d still love to become a world-famous author, or a globe-trotting travel photographer, or even an astronaut, but I think it’s safe to assume most of those choices are not really in the cards.  But one of my other long-time interests is the law.  Way back in the day—really way back, before I was even in high school—I even gave some thought to becoming an attorney.  But, it was criminal law that most interested me, and I could never decide whether I’d rather be on the side that occasionally acquits a guilty person or the side that occasionally convicts an innocent one.  Besides, by the time I finished high school, I wasn’t all that thrilled with the idea of another seven or eight years of school.

But, flash-forward to today, and you find an unemployed adult who long ago lost the aversion to school.  Like many older folks, I’ve come to appreciate the simple act of learning, and wish I could’ve recognized its importance enough to pursue a greater education in my youth.  But, as I like to tell my son, it’s never too late to do what you really want to do.  And, no longer working 60 hours a week finally gives me the opportunity to pursue something that interests me.

So it is that today I submitted an application to Rose State College, with the intention of pursuing an associates degree in paralegal studies.  If the bureaucracy moves quickly, I may even be able to get enrolled for the summer session and get the last couple of general ed classes completed so that come fall I can focus solely on the program courses.  My fingers are crossed on that one, but it will be a close race against time.

And, as today’s photo theme is “something new”, what better subject could there be than the page turning on a brand new chapter of my life? 

So, yeah, becoming one of the many unemployed really sucked, but there’s little doubt that had that door not closed, the door to Rose State would never have opened.  It’s time to take advantage of this new opportunity, and truly begin with something new. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

May Photos, Day 23—Technology


First, let me say that had I read ahead in the prompt list, I probably would’ve chosen a different subject for “something you can’t live without”.  Since I used my everyday technology for that photo, I had to think a little harder for today’s theme.

Still, I am something of a gadget freak, so finding some sort of technology around me isn’t really all that difficult.  Really, though, the subject I decided upon—3D television—is not one of my favorites.  Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s cool.  It’s especially cool that my particular television signal happens to be delivered to my new-fangled television set via a signal sent by an orbiting satellite.  Now that’s technology.  But, I’m not a big 3D fan—not in movies, not on TV.  Gives me a headache something fierce, and who wants to give themselves a headache just to watch a show?  My husband has no such problems, though he is not particularly fond of wearing the glasses.  But he’ll do it from time to time, especially if there’s a sporting event on—or if I need a model for my daily photo.

But in theory, it is really cool, and I do hope that someday 3D technology will move to something more like projected holograms or something.  Now that’s a third dimension I’d like to see.

23.  Technology

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

May Photos, Day 22—Pink


Having never been much of a girly-girl, I thought today’s topic might prove sort of difficult.  I’m pretty sure I don’t even have a pink shirt, much less any pictures, knick-knacks, or what-have-you.  And certainly no make-up or nail polish.  Not a girly-girl, remember?

But, it didn’t take too long in my daily wanderings to see all sorts of possible subjects.  I snapped photos of baby clothes, wildflowers, bags of cotton candy . . . all varying shades of girlish pink. 

But, while I prefer cotton candy, jelly beans made a much better model, and that’s how entries get decided.

22.  Pink

So it is that Jelly Belly jelly beans—bubblegum flavor—became today’s subject.  Look pretty yummy, don’t you think?  Even non girly-girls can be swayed by sweet candies.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May Photos, Day 21—Where You Stand


21.  Where You Stand

This is my Gazelle glider; I’ve had it for years.  In keeping with the stereotype for exercise equipment, it has spent many of those years stuffed in a closet or standing in a corner gathering dust and holding laundry.  But no more.  Now that I have an exercise bike and have also started C25K, I don’t use the glider nearly as often as I used to, but I still try to jump on several times a week for at least a mile or so.

I’ve “walked” a lot of miles on this thing, and though I’m sort of getting to the point where I’d like to trade it in for a treadmill, that’s certainly not in the budget at the moment.  So I guess the glider and I will still be spending time together, and it will be where I stand for quite a bit longer.

Monday, May 21, 2012

May Photos, Day 20—Something You Can’t Live Without


Well, there’s the obvious, of course—family, friends, enough money for food/clothing/shelter. 

But, today’s choice is a little more futuristic than those time-honored items—electronic gadgets.

20.  Something you can't live without

I suppose I could live without these things; after all, I managed for a good portion of my life.  But the idea of making do without them now is a little bit terrifying.  After all, these are the items that keep me in touch with those aforementioned family and friends.  I can’t really say that they do much for the money aspect of things, though when I was working, I did use the computer and phone for higher productivity, so maybe that counts a little bit. 

Mostly, though, they’re the way I stay connected with the people close to me and the world as a whole, and living without that ease of communication is something I don’t even want to try.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

May Photos, Day 19—A Favorite Place


I’m fortunate in a lot ways.  In this particular instance, I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to travel to some really nice places that I wouldn’t mind visiting again.  Also, I’m fortunate that even though I’ve been to some really nice places, I have yet to be anywhere that I’d rather live than my own hometown.  So, when deciding which favorite place to use today, I had quite a few to choose from. 

I contemplated Ted’s, my favorite restaurant.  I considered a shady spot in my backyard (especially since Brian just opened the pool today, so it looks nice out there now).  I thought about Disney World or Disneyland.  I gave a lot of thought to all the beautiful places we saw on our Alaskan cruisetour last year.  Any of those would have been appropriate for one of my favorite places.  Like I said, I’m lucky to have a lot to choose from.

But I did have to pick, and what I just kept coming back to was a place—well, a region, really—that I always say I want to go back to:  Northern California.  There are several places in that area that are beautiful.  Sea Ranch.  Mendocino.  Ft. Bragg.  And, the Redwood Forest.

Being among the those giant trees that are older than you can even 19.  A Favorite Placeimagine, listening to the kind of silence that only comes from areas that are largely untouched by meddling human hands, breathing in the clean air of nature . . . well, there’s really nothing like it.

Experiencing that kind of natural beauty simultaneously makes you feel insignificant and isolated, but still totally connected to wonder.

These are just a few of the photos I took years ago on our vacation, and they still take me back through time and help me recall that sense of wonder I felt when I was there.  And they still make me long for the day when I find a way to visit this favorite place again.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Bucket List Check Mark (May Photos, Day 18)


As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an author.  I suppose that’s why I’m now a middle-aged woman sitting at a keyboard chit-chatting in a blog, because at least it’s writing.  But, a few years ago, I got to put a check mark beside one very big to-do item when I actually had a book published.  So, for today’s theme—something you made—I present the item from my bucket list.                        


18. Something You Made


As you can see from the cover, technically I co-made this, but I still think that’s close enough to count for the theme. 

My co-authors and I met in a Yahoo! group about the television program, Hardcastle and McCormick, and we became good friends.  Before we got around to writing the book, we also successfully managed a campaign to have one of the stars—Brian Keith—posthumously awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Maybe one of these days I’ll tell you something about that process, but for now I’ll just say that—just like writing the book—it was fun, exciting, and exhausting.

Anyway, maybe a viewer’s guide to a television show isn’t the next Great American Novel, and it never has (or will) shown up on any bestseller or classics lists, but it still made me a Published Author, and now, if you Google my name, my Amazon listing is typically the first entry in the search results.  It’s something that I’m proud to say that I “made”. 

And it’s not that I’ve given up entirely on the idea of writing another book someday; I mean, who wouldn’t want to write a book?  But if it turns out that this is the only cover that ever bears my name, I can live with that.

May Photos, Day 17—Snack


Well, I did actually have a nice, creamy chocolate milkshake this evening (shh; don’t tell!).  And, it was good and thick, so I might could’ve shaped it into some interesting mounds or something for a photo op.  But, there was something much more photogenic going on in the snacking world, so rather than my decadent indulgence, today’s photo is something I’d never want to munch on, but it sure was appetizing to another member of the household.

                                                                                              17. Snack

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May Photos, Day 16—What You’re Reading


When I was younger, I read a lot.  I mean, a lot.  Somehow, as I got older, I have slowly gotten out of the habit.  I need to change that.  However, at the moment, I’m actually reading a couple of different titles.

I mentioned back in the day one photo post that I was reading a photography book, and I still am.  I try to go through a few pages every day.  It’s not the sort of thing—at least for me—that you can read cover to cover, but it is teaching me some things.  I’ve had this camera for almost a year now; probably time I learned to use it as something more than a glorified point and shoot. 

16.  What You're Reading

And as for Cell, well, I’m a long-time King fan.  This one has been sitting around on the shelf for a long time, but I’m only just now getting around to starting it.  My sister says it’s a zombie story, so it’ll be interesting to see how it unfolds.

Who knows?  Maybe having two books going at once will be the kick in the butt I need to get back into the book habit more regularly.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

May Photos, Day 15—Love


15. Love


These babies have been sitting in my living room for about 25 years now.  I have always loved teddy bears, and these are accented with our wedding color, so as soon as I saw them, I definitely had to have them.  And Brian loves me enough to understand—and to tolerate them in the living room for a quarter of a century!

Monday, May 14, 2012

May Photos, Day 14—Grass


Sometimes the simplest prompts can prove to be the most difficult, and so it was today. 

First, there’s the problem that most of the grass around our house is really just a bunch of mowed weeds, so it’s not all that photogenic.  Secondly, while I’ve had my DSLR for almost a year, I’m still using the lenses we had with our old 35mm camera, primarily a third party lens rather than a dedicated Sony.  Unfortunately, one of the things I’ve discovered is that the macro function just doesn’t seem to work like it should, and for something like grass, I really would’ve preferred a greater macro functionality.

So, I took several, trying to find a look that I thought was decent.  Here a few of the rejected entries.

                 DSC07942                                                   DSC07946



Not so great, are they?  Yeah, I didn’t think so, either.  But, really, the final chosen one wasn’t all that exciting, either, so I decide to play around a bit more than usual with the editing.  Today, I was using PicMonkey, which is rapidly becoming my favorite.

Before and after.  Thank goodness for PicMonkey.

DSC07951                  14.  Grass

Don’t you wish everything could be tinkered with like that, so life could be made just what you want?

C25K W1D1


Outline of a woman running on a path


No, that’s not some kind of nonsensical gibberish up there in the title, just a couple of handy-dandy abbreviations.  The real meaning? Couch to 5K, Week 1 Day 1.

But the real, real meaning?  Well, C25K is a running program, designed to turn a typical couch potato (like me) into someone capable of running a 5K distance without killing themselves.   It’s an incremental program, allowing you to alternate walking and running, increasing the running time as your stamina increases.  There are lots of versions out there, all with the same basic concept and slight variations in details.  Honestly, as horrible as this is to say, I don’t even know where the original idea came from, but it’s been all the rage for a few years now.  The version I’m following is presented in an app by a group called Zen Labs, and after one day, I think it seems mostly sufficient for my needs.

Why “mostly”?  Well, because this particular program is designed to get you to the finish line in eight weeks.  There are others that go longer, I think even up to 12 weeks.  Seeing as how this is a fairly major undertaking for me, I’d think the longer I could take, the better.  Still, the app makes it easy to repeat a week if you don’t feel like you’re quite ready to move on, so that’s a plus.

So, anyway, today was day one of week one.  By design, it’s a three day per week program, so my goal is to participate every Monday, Wednesday, Friday.  This first day had running increments of only 60 seconds, alternated with walking for 90.  I know it sounds pretty simple, but it took every one of those 90 seconds to get myself ready for the next jogging cycle. 

But, the important thing, as far as I’m concerned, is that I’m giving it a go.  I honestly have no desire to be a “runner”, nothing on my bucket list about finishing a marathon or anything like that.  This is strictly the next tool in my weight loss/improved fitness arsenal.  I do hope that I will come to enjoy it enough that I will complete the plan—I’m not very good at sticking with things that are absolutely no fun—but I’m not looking to break any land speed records, or anything.  We’ll see what my body thinks about all of this later tonight and tomorrow morning; hopefully all my walking will at least prevent most of the muscle soreness that I’d expect to come from beginning a program of this nature.  My fingers are definitely crossed on that.

So, C25K W1D1 is in the record books, and I survived.  Taking control of my weight/health has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life, so that can’t possibly be gibberish. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Still Holding My Heart (May Photos, Day 13)


It’s Mother’s Day, so of course the theme for today is “mum”, or, what we here in the States would call “mom”.

Ever since I’ve been a mom, Mother’s Day has been bittersweet for me.  When I was pregnant, my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  At the time of diagnosis, the doctors believed she had three, maybe six months to live.  She surprised everyone by lasting eighteen.  I was grateful for that for many reasons, but the greatest was because it meant she survived to become a grandmother.  She also survived long enough for me to celebrate one Mother’s Day with her after I had joined that special club, though that was the beginning of the bittersweet times, knowing that it would likely be the last with her.

Ever since then, of course, each and every Mother’s Day brings a bit of sadness, because she is no longer here with me.  I can’t call her to tell her how much I love her, or have her help me with my own parenting questions.  I can’t ask her when—if—being a mother ever gets easier.  When my son was little, there were times I thought I’d never survive without my own mother teaching me how to be a mother.  But now that he’s a grown man, I realize this might really be the time that I could use some guidance. 

Of course, I have that guidance.  I have my memories; I know how she handled different circumstances, and I try to learn by proxy by remembering. She was my first friend, and my friend until the day she died; she taught by example and I was blessed to have her in my life.  

As another Mother’s Day passes, I miss her all over again, and I take a moment to send a prayer her way.  A prayer of thanks for being the best mother I could’ve hoped to have, and a prayer for guidance to somehow help me still.  I know that I’ve fallen short in so many ways, and I wonder if she felt that way, too.  I wish I could tell her she needn’t have worried, and I hope she knows that she is still my shining light.  And, I hope it’s not too self-serving of me to hope that someday my son will feel that way about his mother, too.

Mothers hold their children's hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.

                                                                ~ Unknown Author

13.  Mum (AKA Mom)



The generations:  My grandmother, my mother, me, my son

Another Change

chores,construction,females,hardware,home maintenance,home repairs,industries,industry,paint rollers,painters,painting,people,people at work,persons,remodeling,tools,women


Well, it seems there are some technical glitches with the dynamic views here on Blogger.  First, it doesn’t play very well with Windows Live Writer, and I must confess that I’ve grown quite fond of working through Writer.

Secondly, while it may be fully user error, editing any post at any time from any platform seems to negate any formatting that was already in place.  I just can’t deal with having to reformat any time I want to go back in and realign a photo or correct a typo. 

So, it’s another new face.  I have to say, strictly on the aesthetics of it all, I’m not as fond of this scheme as my last, short-lived one.  Not that I hate it or anything, just not sure how I feel about it.  I guess it’ll grow on me.  Or it won’t.  Good to know change is always an option.

May Photos, Day 12—Something That Makes You Happy

I have always loved Mimosa trees.  Maybe it’s because my grandparents had one at their old house, and it became my ideal of the perfect “homey” tree.  I don’t know.  I know most people (at least around here) are not particularly fond of them; many folks consider them practically a weed.

Still, at the first home my husband and I bought, we planted one.  Unfortunately, we moved before it grew big enough to bloom.

In the fall of 1998 we moved into our current (and likely last) home; we planted a a Mimosa the following year.  It took 11 years before it bloomed for the first time, and I thought we’d be graced with those whimsical pink flowers every year from then on.  But then it didn’t bloom last year.  It was a dreadfully hot summer, and I was afraid maybe it had been permanently damaged. 

But today, as I was returning home from my walk, I saw a welcome sight:  blooms!  Only a couple so far, and on the “back side” of the tree (you know, the one I can’t see from my normal vantage point), but I’m thrilled just the same.  And since I went running into the kitchen to immediately tell my husband and show him the pictures, I think it definitely qualifies as something that makes me happy.  Yay for tree flowers!

12. Something that makes you happy

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pretending It’s Five Question Friday on a Saturday Afternoon


Yet more web browsing led me to yet another blog—My Little Life.  I haven’t had time to do a lot of poking around there, yet, but it looks promising.  I especially like the meme she’s got going on of Five Question Friday.  I liked her take on the questions, and I’ve enjoyed linking around and reading the responses of others.


So, even though I’m a day late, I’m going to play along.  So here we go:

1: What advice would you give a couple getting married?

Starting off with a hard one.  I think I’d say, remember that it’s harder than most of your friends make it out to be, and don’t feel like a failure if you’re finding it difficult to adjust, or it’s not all wine and roses.  Nobody likes to talk about the squabbles and crankiness; most would like to give the illusion that they’ve chosen the perfect mate and life is always good.  But the reality is, everyone argues, no matter how much they love each other, and the key is to always be willing to put in the effort to make it work.

2.  If you could tell your 16 year old self ONE thing, what would it be?

It’s okay to be who you are, so don’t worry so much about it.  You’re going to find that the people you’d like to impress now will soon fade from your life, proving how unimportant they were all along.

3.  What do you do to keep cool in the summer? (AC, windows, fans, swimming, etc.)

It’s almost impossible to survive Oklahoma summers without air conditioning, but we put it off as long as we can.  While it’s still mild, we rely on ceiling fans and fresh air.  And, we’ll open the pool in the next couple of weeks, probably, so that’ll help in the blazing afternoons. (Though there’s sadly little shade out there.)

4.  What did you (or your wife) crave most while pregnant?

I was lucky, or so I’ve been told; no cravings.   Thankfully, though, there was caffeine-free Coke, because I might’ve had serious withdrawal cravings if I’d had to give up my favorite beverage.

5.  Who is your favorite TV mom? Why?

Ending with a hard one, too, though you wouldn’t think so.  Honestly, I watch a lot of TV.  I mean, a lot.  But most of the shows I watch don’t have a very strong mother role.  If you want to go back a ways, I’ll say that I’ve always had a soft spot for Ann Romano, from One Day at a Time.  She wasn’t a perfect person, struggled with being single mom, and didn’t always know the right thing to do for her kids.  But she loved them more than anything, and always tried to learn from her mistakes just as she taught them to learn from theirs.  I’m not sure there’s much more important than that in a mother.

More currently, I have to say I’m a big fan of Martha Rodgers on Castle.  She can tend toward self-obsessed, but still manages to be a doting mother (and grand-mother) who can also ask the hard questions when needed.

So, that’s it, my Saturday installment of Five Question Friday.  It was fun.  I might do it again.  Maybe even on a Friday.

Friday, May 11, 2012

May Photos, Day 11-- Kitchen

Well, my kitchen is neither particularly exciting nor particularly tidy, so rather than the whole array, my focus is on a couple kitchen items I couldn’t live without.

11.  Kitchen

I’ve never been overly fond of the taste of the well water we have here at this house, so it’s either bottled or filtered, and filtered is much cheaper and better for the environment.  Win-win. 

And, when I started diligently trying to lose weight last year and track my food intake, one of the first things I realized is that I wasn’t very good at estimating portions.  Enter the trusty food scale.  I’m better at it now, but I’m still sticking with tried and true process.

And, incidentally, as much as I’m enjoying actually taking pictures with this challenge, I’m also having fun playing around with some photo editing software.  It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and this has been a really good excuse.

Some Things Never Change (May Photos, Day 10)

For my first post on a newly redesigned page layout, it somehow seems fitting that I talk about something in my life that I am confident will never change.

The photo prompt for the day is a favorite word, and the word today is friend.  It is one of my favorite words, because I think we all need some; they make the world a better place.  If we're lucky, we have several friends--maybe even many.  But if we're really lucky, we have one true friend.  A true friend is the kind of friend that you can always talk to, laugh with, cry with, whatever you need to do.  Time doesn't matter.  Distance doesn't matter.   True friends are always there; it's a bedrock foundation of dependability and trust.

I am lucky, because I do have one of those, and we've known each other more than half our lives.  I guess I was eighteen when we began working together, and she was still in high school.  Gosh, that was a lifetime ago.  In the intervening years, we've been with each other through all sorts of life events:  school, jobs, relationships beginning and ending, births, deaths--just about anything that you could imagine.  But that's what friends do.

And, on top of all that, her birthday coincides with the "favorite word" challenge, so even if there were nothing else, she would deserve to be my photo of the day.  But, of course, that's not all there is; there is more than could ever be described.  For that, I've got a couple of other favorite words:  thank you.

So, happy birthday, Kim; thank you for being my friend.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Time for a Change


I know just yesterday I was talking about how I like things to be nice and stable; it’s safe and secure that way.  And that’s still true.  But I think I’m tired of this blog layout.  It’s been this way for a long time, and now that I’m looking at it more often, I think it could use some freshening up. 
I’m going to have to do some browsing around and see what I like, because I think it’s time for a fresh coat of paint around here.

UPDATE:  Some changes have been made.  I think it's brightened things up considerably, but feel free to let me know what you think.

Creature of Habit (May Photos, Day 9—Something You Do Every Day)

Dull.  Routine. Predictable.  However you want to describe it, the fact is that—for most of us—our daily routines are, well . . . pretty routine.  We get up at about the same time every day, conduct the same personal care practices, get ready for work or whatever we do to fill our days.  Some people might think that’s the sort of thing that ought to be changed—that we ought to strive for more excitement, but I’ve always been okay with routine.  Besides being comforting and dependable, I think a lot of that stuff is what makes us who we are.  And, really, I’m pretty much okay with who I am.

So, today’s offering is a glimpse of just a few of the things I do every day.

9.  Something you do every day

















What about you?  What sorts of things make you who you are?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May Photos, Day 8—A Smell You Adore


8.  A smell you adore

They say our olfactory sense holds the strongest memory trigger of all our senses.  That may be, but when I walk into—or even just pass by—a Subway sandwich shop, it’s not that I get all nostalgic for my mom’s yeast rolls or my grandma’s cornbread (though I would gladly partake of either any day of the week). Nope, nothing that deep; I just get hungry! 

The smell of the fresh-baked bread that permeates the air in and around Subway is simply heavenly, and I love to breathe it in.

May Photos, Day 7—Someone Who Inspires You

Really, I should’ve taken a picture of the ATT technicians who managed to get my internet working today.  After three and a half days of being disconnected, I was pretty thrilled to get back online.  Alas, I didn’t have the grand thought until they were already gone. 

Instead, all day, I debated which inspiration to use:  my family, friends, political leaders?  Like most folks, there are a lot of people who have given me ideals to which I aspire, dreams that became my own, courage I might not have found otherwise.  I am blessed that this was a difficult decision. 

But I am at something of a crossroads in my life.  Being out of work for the first time in over 15 years, seeing my son move out of state, trying so diligently to improve my fitness level by making small changes to my lifestyle—all of these things make me realize that the road I choose to follow is completely up to me.  I may not have arrived at this crossroads through my owns choices, but how I move forward can be determined by no one else.  It’s time to evaluate my life—my hopes, my dreams, my needs, my abilities—and decide what I want to do with it.  It’s time to follow my own path and make the best decisions I can make for my own life.  No one else can do that for me.

So, that got me to thinking about people who’ve done those things for themselves, chosen a path and followed it all the way through.  Still a long list to choose from, but it’s probably not surprising to too many folks that I’d choose someone who makes a living with her words.  As I captioned the photo when I posted it to Facebook, J.K. Rowling created a world, and changed her own. 

7. Someone who inspires you

What better way to handle the crossroads of life?






                                            Image captured from

Monday, May 7, 2012

Drowning My Sorrow in Queso (May Photos--Day 6)

Today's theme is "you". It's apropos, as I was doing a lot of thinking about myself today as I entered into a new phase of motherhood.

Today, my not yet 21 year old son moved to California to make his mark on the world. Now, he had moved into his own apartment for a while last year, but that was a short-lived experiment. So, except for those six months, he's lived his whole life under my roof, where I can say hello to him each and every day and assure myself that the big bad world has not yet done him in. I'm having a hard time coming to grips with the idea I won't be able to do that any longer.

I've also been crying a bit. Silly, I know-- everyone leaves their parents behind at some point. And, of course, as much as I'd like to keep him wrapped up in the safety of home and parents forever, I know I can't do that. In truth, even if I could, I'd find a way to make sure I didn't. That wouldn't be good for him, and I only want the very best for his life.

But that's all about him, and as I mentioned, this is about me. That's how it came to be that hubby and I had dinner at my very favorite restaurant. It's the place I go to for celebrations, and also the place I go to when I'm feeling down and need a little pick me up. Today was definitely the latter. Thankfully, it was scrumptious as always and served to perk my spirits just a bit. Taking the above photo helped a little bit, too. There's rarely anything better at bringing a smile than plain old silliness. Although, truth be told, a fresh basket of chips, creamy queso, and a nice crunchy taco goes a long way, too. I'm glad I decided to partake in it all.

But, the photo challenge didn't end there. I knew I'd be writing this post, and I'm not sure there's much that's more "me" than my personal blog-- not even my favorite Mexican food. It seemed fitting that the official entry pic should include it all.

But, the truth is, I can't continue to dwell on missing my son. And I certainly can't continue scarfing down too large amounts of chips and queso to hide my sadness. So I guess I better find some more constructive options. Like maybe calculating how many text messages he could receive before he'd block my number. Or, better yet, maybe I need to start planning a vacation.

I hear it's nice in California this time of year.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May photos-- Day 5

I'm still clunking along with no home web access, and the tech won't visit until Monday. So, today's entry is a tiny bit of a cheat. This was taken a few weeks ago (mainly because i didn't think I'd have time to transfer a new photo from DSLR to computer then to iPhone for uploading), but I edited it today, so that counts, right?

Anyway, this was taken at our annual Medieval Fair, where there was a demonstration of birds of prey. It was pretty cool.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, May 5, 2012

First World Problems

Image credit: Simon Willison

Today marks day two of no Internet access at home. That means day two of trying to rely on the somewhat sketchy cell service at my address for all my browsing needs. You'd think that wouldn't be a big thing, but sometimes my browsing needs are considerable. (For starters, have you ever tried to find a CC licensed broken Internet graphic on your phone?)

Anyway, the other thing to be considered is that this morning also marks the beginning of day two dealing with tech support. Not the top of my list for a nice spring Saturday.

On the other hand, one of the best (relatively speaking) service coverage areas in my home happens to be in my bedroom, so I'm able to do this pondering and posting without even rolling out of bed. If only dealing with tech support could be so easy.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

May Photos, Day 4--Fun

This spring I must've taken a thousand pictures of butterflies. I haven't actually counted the ones that are really good, but I'm pretty sure I've got more than enough fingers to do the job. Still, when I get one that I really enjoy, it's a great feeling. And even when the results aren't that great, it's always fun to try.

So, that was my "official" entry to the challenge, but something else fun happened today, too.

While on my walk this evening, I happened upon a snake in the roadway.

Well, that's not really the fun part. I mean, it's a snake. And it was a big snake. Yuk.

But, while I was there taking his photo a few (dozen) times, the owner of the yard he was slithering in came out to see what I was up to. (A reasonable concern when there's a stranger standing in front of your house with a camera for no apparent reason.)

Anyway, turns out the homeowner's name was John, and he knew the snake was a bull snake. He also assured me it was a "nice snake". Not that it mattered to me; I wasn't getting any closer than my telephoto. But John wanted to move the snake away from the possibility of a premature death by traffic, and he let me take his picture with the thing.

So I not only got to see a creepy big snake, but I met a nice neighbor in the process. What could be more fun than that?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, May 4, 2012

May Photos, Day 3—Something You Wore Today

3. Something I wore today

Yesterday, when I was looking through the prompt list to see what today’s photo topic would be, I told myself to remember to wear something interesting or unusual or at least photo worthy in some way.  But, I had an appointment this morning, and, honestly, the only thing I was thinking about when I was getting dressed was how I really should’ve gone to bed earlier last night.  Needless to say, the jeans and t-shirt I threw on to get out the door were nothing to write home about.

But, later in the afternoon, I was checking my step count (as I often do throughout the day) when it hit me: Fitbit was the perfect topic for my daily pic, because it’s not just something I was wearing today; it’s something I wear every day.  Heck, it’s practically attached.  And, once I realized it was the photo of the day, I also realized it was finally time to write about the nifty gadget here.

I know I’ve mentioned fitbit in passing before, and it even made my list of things to be thankful for last year, but I’ve never really given it its due.  I think it’s time to change that.

But, to tell the story of my fitbit (or, fitty, as he’s often affectionately dubbed), we have to revisit the story of my weight.  It isn’t a pretty one, so I won’t dwell on it long; let’s just say that I needed to lose some weight.  I got serious about that goal back in January of 2011.

Now, the problem with my weight is (at least) two-fold: I like to eat junk food and I don’t particularly care to move around much.  It doesn’t take a registered dietician or professional trainer to know that’s a bad combination.  But last year (or maybe even late in 2010), I ran across the (not new) idea that simple walking could have huge benefits for both weight loss endeavors as well as general health.  I read an article that said two things that finally stuck with me: 

1) In general, walking ten thousand steps per day is a good idea

2) If a person could increase their daily step count even 50 or 100 steps a day—no more than an extra couple of trips to the coffee machine, bathroom, whatever—they would see exponential growth in their step count. (I don’t honestly remember the exact numbers that are achieved, and I’m too tired to do the math.)

Well, even to a confirmed couch potato like myself, an extra fifty steps a day didn’t sound like such a big deal, and if it could really help . . .  Enter the first of the cheapo pedometers purchased at the discount store.  I started keeping track of my steps (nowhere near 10K), and setting a goal to increase each day.  Of course, some days I made it and some days I didn’t, but the overall trend was improving.

The problem with cheapo pedometers, though, is that they’re, well, cheap.  The displays go out.  They get jostled around too much and stop counting steps correctly.  They break (easily) when they get dropped.  I needed something better.

As it turns out, my first foray into decent fitness tracking didn’t work out too well.  My next pedometer was an armband type, and it was not only sort of uncomfortable, but it ultimately turned out that I had an allergy to its material.  But I couldn’t bring myself to shell out even another five bucks for a step counter that I knew wasn’t going to last.




Enter Fitbit





Somewhere during that time, I was browsing the web (I’ve mentioned my adoration for the Internet, right?) and found a mention of this handy-dandy gadget called a fitbit.  “A pedometer on steroids” seemed to be the general consensus.  Not only would it would count steps, but also distance, calorie burn, overall activity level, and even track your sleep.  And all of this data would sync wirelessly to their website and deliver colorful charts so that you could monitor your fitness.  Wow.  But they had me at “count steps”.  (The latest model has been bulked up a little more and even counts flights of stairs.)



My dashboard display this evening.



I shelled out a hundred bucks and anxiously waited for it to be delivered.  In the meantime, I set up my online account and started browsing around their site.  And what I quickly discovered was that the nifty technology was enhanced by a helpful and welcoming community.  On the fitbit site you can log your food intake, examine all your activity charts, look at your sleep records—more information than you can shake a stick at, as my Granny would say.  But you can also browse the user forums to get answers to usage questions, insight on what diet/exercise plan is working for others, or just a bit of encouragement when you’re feeling down.


Still, even with all those bells and whistles, what amazed me about fitty was how this little piece of technology was able to get me moving. (That continues to amaze me to this day.)  Not like becoming a gym rat, or anything, just moving more than I’d done before.  When I first got fitbit, my daily step count was less than five thousand—not even half of what the experts recommend.  But fitty made me want to get my numbers higher.  I was taking those extra trips to the bathroom, parking a little farther away from the door—anything to get in a few more steps.  Within a couple of weeks, I had my first 10K day.  Then a few more, and a few more.  After a few months, it didn’t even seem all that difficult anymore.  That’s fitbit brainwashing though; every now and then, I still have days where I give in to my slugdom, and it’s really easy for me to drop back below ten thousand.  But fitty is my forever friend because he doesn’t let me have those days very often.

So, you ask, what about the weight?  That was the whole point, right?  Well, I’ve lost just over 60 pounds, 35+ of that since I got fitbit just about a year ago.  Sure, I could wish the pounds were dropping quicker, and I could wish fitbit was some sort of magic wand that would make the whole process effortless, but the truth is, I gained my excess weight slowly and it’s coming off the same way.  And fitbit doesn’t do the work for you; it’s a tool to help measure your fitness, not actually create it.  But it does encourage and motivate, and as anyone who’s ever tried to lose weight knows, keeping that motivation is almost always the difference between success and failure.  Fitbit stacks the deck in my favor, and—if I may mix metaphors for a moment—I’m glad he’s in my corner.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

May Photos Day 2—Skyline

instagram windmill




Today was a lazy day with nothing going on.  And I mean that just about as literally as it can be meant.  When I finally went out for my daily walk—at 3:00pm—I had to change out of my pajamas to do it.  And, I’m not too proud to say that once I got home, had a short work-out and shower, they went right back on. 

Everybody needs a day like that now and again, I suppose, though I had grander plans of driving into town to get a picture of the university or something to represent today’s skyline.  Still, there are lessons to be learned about not overlooking the things right in your own backyard, or, in this case, the neighbor’s back yard.  Even in a college town, there’s much more to enjoy than just the architecture and landscaping of the campus. 

With OU offering lovely brickwork, gorgeous blooming flowers, and a nationally famous football stadium, this simple scene will never make its way onto postcards for Norman.  But maybe it should.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Photo A Day May

So, one of the many blogs I’ve stumbled across recently is written by a lady named Chantelle called Fat Mum Slim (She’s Australian, so the “mum” in question is a mother, not a flower).  I don’t even remember now how it is that I came across it—you know how the Internet can be, right?—but she likes photography, loves her daughter, and writes about a bunch of stuff, including writing.  What’s not to like?

Anyway, one of the things she is doing on her blog is sponsoring a photo a day challenge.  She provides the daily prompts; all her readers have to add is a picture or two.  Or, in the case of May, 31.  Since I’ve recently been re-enamored of my photography bug—I’m reading a book about my camera and everything—this seems like the perfect way to pass a little time. 

I’ve already browsed around Twitter and Pinterest to see some of the day one offerings, and I have to say that a bunch of them put me to shame.  But, of course, it isn’t a competition; it’s a way to encourage blurbs of creativity from as many people as are willing to play along, and I am certainly on that list.  If you want to take a look yourself, just do a search for #photoadayMay.  I think you’ll be glad you did.  And if you’re looking for a little nudge toward creativity yourself, find all the details here.

And, now, for my day one entry:  Peace.




                 A tranquil spot in a local park.