Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Easy reminder

It's not too late to answer the Easy -- like Sunday morning, question of the week.  Click >here< for the entry.




Sunday, November 27, 2005

Our First Season

Our first weekend selling Christmas trees is now over.   Not a bad start.  We sold 10 trees ranging in height from 4 feet to 15 feet; the 15 footer was for a local church.  I did another walk about to inventory the tags and counted 14, even after several people came to pick up trees they previously tagged.

Yesterday was the busiest.  Didn't have a steady stream of customers, but had an interesting mix of people.  One family brought their German foreign exchange student with them.  I learned in Germany only the adults go out in search of the Christmas tree, and while the children sleep, the adults bring the tree into the house and decorate it.  The next morning the children are told the tree was brought and decorated by angels.  :)   That's pretty cool.  The exchange student was delighted to take part in her host family's tradition; watching her face I got the sense she felt honored to participate.  Such are the sweet moments of life!

I really got a kick out of watching and listening to the children as they covorted around the trees.  Oh, to tap their energy and enthusiasm!  It really put me into the spirit of the season, being around that youthful energy so alive and excited about the experience of finding the family Christmas tree. One little boy was extremely excited to find his Christmas tree growing just a few blocks away from his home.  From the mouths of babes.

Easy - Week #28

Easy, like Sunday morning!

We watched CMT Crossroads last night and had the pleasure of experiencing Lionel Ritchie sing this song with Kenny Rogers!  What a treat and a most excellent show.  Throughout the song, I was grinning as I pondered between two different questions for today.  And my mind is made up.

As always, post your answer in your journal, then come back here and leave me a link in the comments.  I'll post the answers next weekend and then we'll start all over again.

Tell me...

If you dropped a penny from your pocket or purse, would you stop to pick it up, and why?

Yes, both Sam and I will pick up a penny if we dropped it.  For me, it goes back to Ben Franklin's belief of, 'A penny saved is a penny earned.'  I save all my change; as I get coins back from purchases, they go into a giant container.  Ka-ching, ka-ching.  I love that sound.  When I have enough saved, I cart it to the nearest CoinStar machine and cash it in.  It adds up pretty fast.  Last time I did, I walked out with $167, which took me maybe a year to accumulate.  Comes in handy when you need a little cash. 

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Answers to Easy Week #27

Easy Week #27 -

Here are the responses to the November 20th, Easy--Like Sunday Morning question.  Thank you to all who participated and to Kelly for pointing her readers in my direction.

I asked:  When you were growing up, what did you want to be as an adult and is that what you are doing now or did your ambitions change?

Lisa dreamed of helping people through work in the ministry, and now as a business owner she puts people to work.

Christy thought about becoming a doctor and is now Dr. Mom.

Linda kept her options open, and put her heart into being a mom.

Kelly wanted orbit the earth, and her daughter Grace thinks she's out of this world.

The following participated in the comment section of the original entry.
Barry dreamed of flying Spitfires to defeat the luftwaffe, and now he writes with a Vengeance.
Karen wanted to be a cop, and is now on a spiritual quest.
Robin wanted to be an archeologist, but found greater treasure in her family.

Again, thank you everyone for playing.  Tomorrow I will post another probing question.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Fiver -- Week #2

Very cool graphic Robert!  Great job.


1. Do you already have your Christmas tree up? If so when did you put it up? If not when will you put it up?

No tree yet.  It will probably be another week before we walk across the street to cut them.  Today I was thinking I need to pick out the two trees for the house.  We sold our first tree off the lot today!  And I did a brief walk about the lot and counted twelve trees already tagged.  Tagged trees are those that have been selected for cutting by someone who will return at a later date to pick up.


2. Do you have any particular theme when it comes to decorating your tree? Maybe you do all Disney ornaments? Only blue lights?  Tell us how you decorate your tree. Kudos if you have a picture and post it.

Our upstairs tree is done all in all white lights with gold and maroon bulb ornaments.  Downstairs is all white lights Hallmark Keepsakes and other ornaments I've collected over the years.


3.  What is your all time favorite ornament? Only one.  Kudos again if you have a picture and post it. 

My all time favorite ornamentis the very first ornament anyone ever purchased just for me.  Itwas a gift from my Dad given to me in 1981, the year we were reunited.


4. How many stockings do you hang and are any of them for pets? And...where do you hang them?  (Not everyone has a fireplace)

We hang three stockings on the mantle; two are Amy and Kari's and one is for Miss Kitty.  Although this year, we'll need to hang another for baby D.  Guess I better get busy on that project.

5.  Tell us about one of your Christmas traditions.

Every year on Christmas Eve we celebrate the holiday with Sam's family at our house.  Sam and I spend all day preparing a feast; sweet and sour meatballs, hot wings, chips and dips, veggies, deli meats and's quite a spread.  We spend the evening singing songs, sharing stories, and watching the children open their gifts.  It's great fun and by the time every one leaves their hearts are light, their bellies are full and they are ready for a visit from Santa.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

From my home to yours!

Graphic courtesy of PrintMaster 12

Better Living Through Chemistry

Went to the doc this morning; follow-up visit for a nagging shoulder.  Told the doc about the dark cloud that's been hanging around me.  Question and answer begins, followed by a serious discussion.  I walk out with medication.

:) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Why didn't I do that sooner?


~~Women and cats will always do what they want.  Men and dogs should just get used to it.~~

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What's In a Name? Part Duex

Did you know that rearranging the letters of "George Bush" gives "He bugs Gore", "Madonna Louise Ciccone" gives "Occasional nude income" and "William Shakespeare", "I am a weakish speller"??!

Anagram fun with names...

John Smith = Shh! Not. Jim.
Jane Doe = One jade.

Now, for people I know...(omitting their names, out of respect)

Mine = Anxious, cooled.
Female 1 = Thereby alarming. (yep)
Female 2 = Crankily. Ox. (definitely)
Female 3 = Irrate nicest human. (sometimes)
Female 4 = Jolly.  Keen than an amen. (???)
Female 5 = Rub dozier groin. (uh huh)
Male 1 = Gas coy Marx.  (okay)
Male 2 = Jahn hole  (pretty darn close)
Male 3 = Not curve tit. (hmmmm)
Male 4 = Wet, mutant he. (we won't tell)
Male 5 = A slimy jeer. (don't think so)


My hometown = Witty, nice fools.  (whole lotta truth there)

Go...try it yourself.  click >here

Monday, November 21, 2005

Misty morning Monday

Our back yard shrouded in a fine morning mist.

Even as the tree once grew as a single trunk, so the trunk has split; and yet the tree grows on.  Look and you will find its roots firmly planted in the place it all began.

This portion of this entry is a bit of an addendum, on Tuesday.  I selected the above photo yesterday because of its I see it as symbolic.  My thoughts are scattered at times, one of the many side-effects of my job, and aging, I suppose.  Yesterday as I stared at that photo I knew I wanted to place it in my journal as a visual statement of my local weather.  Today, through these same eyes, I see it now as a visual statement of something bigger--my world.


The following is taken from the blog of Judith Heartsong -


Monday, November 21, 2005

we are family........... (hearing the version from The Bird Cage in my head)

The last week and all its upheaval has been disconcerting. AOL turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to paying customers who have written in ad-free journals for years now has really put a spotlight on corporate greed and a machine that will roll over anything in its path on the way to the all-mighty dollar.

The bigger concern however is that a few people in our own journals have taken the opportunity to fling insults and open wounds in a totally unnecessary way when people are already hurting so much at being displaced or unable to write. Some journalers have chosen to stay, some have chosen to go.... and I support everyone in the decisions they have made. That is what this community has always been about, support and a warm place to land.

What needs to be said at this point is that it does not matter who hosts our blogs. It does not matter. We are one community, one ship of souls that came together in the writing and sharing to build something very special in this vast space on the internet. Our connections need never suffer because of where we write

(reprinted with Judi's permission)


~~The world is sown with good, but unless I turn my glad thoughts into practical living and till my own field, I cannot reap a kernel of the good.  -Helen Keller~~

~~When we discover the still, quiet place that lies within each of us, we can see it as a base to untangle ourselves from the doubt, indecision,ill health, guilt and other forms of old programming that result in confused and defused actions. -Hallie Iglehart~~




Graphic courtesy of Print Master 12

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Weekend Assignment #86 - Thankfully Remembered

Weekend Assignment #86: Who are you thankful for -- who you won't be able to spend this Thanksgiving with? This is a chance to tell us about the people you care about who will be far away from you this holiday, or who have passed on but remain in your heart.

Extra Credit: Pumpkin pie vs. pecan pie -- which do you choose for Thanksgiving dessert?

My mother, sisters, and my father.  I am thankful for the years I had with them.  My mother and father are gone; my sisters are alive, but spread across the country.  It's been 28 years since I shared Thanksgiving with my mother and sisters, and 8 years since the last Thanksgiving with my dad.  I spent that holiday at his bedside in the hospital, knowing full well it would be our last holiday together.  Given a choice between spending the day with my dad, or my husband's family, in my mind there was no other place I wanted to be.  Dad died three days later, on Sunday.  I will never regret my decision to stay by his side that day.  Someday, when Sam and I retire I hope to have the opportunity once again to spend Thanksgiving with each of my sisters.

Extra credit:  Pumpkin pie, hands down.  I love pumpkin pie.  I do love pecans, but not pecan pie.  Pie filling should be soft and creamy, not crunchy.  But that's just me. 

If you want to participate in this click >here<

Easy -- #27

Kelly (In My Opinion) and I were 'chatting' the other day and I asked her why she stopped doing her Sunday Easy entries.   She told me why and then she suggested that I take over, giving me her blessing to carry on her idea.  So, I'll give it a go. 

EASY -- Like Sunday morning!

Here's my question of the week.  Answer it in your journal and come back here and leave me a link in the comments.  I'll post your links next weekend and we'll start over again next Sunday.

Tell me.....

When you were growing up, what did you want to be as an adult and is that what you are doing now or did your ambitions change?

Growing up, I wanted to be a jockey.  I had a love affair with horses that lingers to this day.  I followed everything that had to do with horses and dreamed of being a jockey, until my early teens when my height and weight made it obvious that I had exceeded the reasonable size for a jockey.  Now, I'm doing the one thing I never dreamed I'd be doing, accounting.  I hated math in school, preferring to spend my time on creative writing and art. These days I write and dabble in photography for fun in my spare time; which worked out for the best, as I'd probably starve if I had to rely on either as a means to earn a living. :)

Those in your own backyard

As we prepare to gather at the table with our loved ones to celebrate our blessings, please remember those less fortunate than us.  This has been a year of giving; many of us have dug deep into our pockets to help thousands of disaster victims, across the country, and around the world.
Now with the holiday season beginning, please don't over look the need for giving in your own community.  Perhaps your community has a food bank, Salvation Army, YWCA, YMCA, or any number of social welfare organizations helping others.  There are many.  Here are just a couple I found today.
America's Second Harvest: The nations food bank network- provides a way to search for your local food bank or rescue organization.  Results for searching by state provide statistics such as poverty rate, child poverty rate, and unemployment rate.
Food Network - have a cook on your gift list?  Looking for the gift that keeps on giving?  Food Network published Food Network Favorites: recipes from our all-star chefsProceeds from the sale go toward each chef's favorite charity, including America's Second Harvest, as well.
Be a light in someone's life.  Sometimes all they need is a little break, and to know people care.

Friday Five - Week #1

Robin (These Are The Days of Our Lives) started a weekly question and answer entry in her journal.  The  Official Friday Five begins now!

* Ooops! That title is about...Five Fun Questions for the week? Fun Five? FREAKIN A' Five? Fiddlesticks I thought I had an original idea Five? Help me name it.

Needing a's about Five For Friday.  Although I do like your Freakin' A' Five.  You should use that one.

1.  What is the one thing on your Thanksgiving table that you will NOT eat?

Brussel sprouts.  Too bitter.  No amount of cheese or white sauce will ever improve their taste.

2.  Did you ever play in a pile of leaves as a kid? If so do you have a picture of you or someone you know playing in the fall leaves? Post it if you do!

Yes, I did.  But no, I don't have a picture of either.

3. When you think of Fall what are the three things that come to mind?

Harvest moon, golden leaves, hot cocoa with peppermint Schnapps.

 4. When was the last time you had pumpkin pie? Was it last year or have you already had some this year?

Does pumpkin bourbon cheesecake count?  If so, two days ago when I made one for work.  Yummers!!!!!  If no, then last Thanksgiving. 

5. Tell us something really nice about the last person you read an email from.

The last email I read was from Jimmy (StupidSheetGuy).  On the surface Jimmy may seem like a bit of a grouch.  I believe he is truly a warm and caring individual who, like so many of us, gets fed up with self-centered people who do not practice common courtesy, are clue less about civility, and wouldn't give a care if someone asked them to.  Jimmy's more vocal about it than others are, because he cares about humanity.  He's the genuine article, through and through, and best of all he has the greatest sense of humor.  He pokes fun at the lemmings and he ALWAYS makes me laugh.  ALWAYS.


If you want to participate too, click >here<.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Gone to the Moon

"Never go to bed angry.  Stay up and fight."  ~Phyllis Diller

These days it's hard to be proactive in a reactive world.

Last night I got caught up in the heat of the moment and I did the knee-jerk thing, threatening to make my journal private, and possibly drop AOL, when only a few months ago I promised to leave my journal public.  I don't like to eat my own words and I've had 24 hours to step back and sort my thoughts.  I'm staying.  It's gonna take a lot more than some unwanted ads hovering over my head to push me out the door.

This morning as I got ready for work, thinking about J-Land, a song began to play on the oldies radio station.  The song, 'Everyone's Gone to the Moon' struck a chord with me.  The words caused me to stop and listen.  It just seemed to fit into that point of time.  Ironically, forty years ago in November 1965, 'Everyone's Gone to the Moon' was in the top 20 of the music charts.

I once wrote that I keep this journal to one person at a time.  I believe one person can make a difference in another persons life; I know this because I have done so, here at J-Land.  And the other person has thanked me on several occasions for being here, and for reaching out when she needed a friend.  That's pretty powerful stuff and it's what I'm all about.  If there was any chance that those ads would prevent her from reaching me, well now that would be an entirely different matter altogether.

I'm fed up about a lot ofthings, and truth be told there are many issues to get upset about: child abuse, domestic violence, substance abuse, hate crimes, poverty, homelessness; in the grand scheme of things AOL banner advertising ranks pretty low on my list of social priorities and injustices.  I'm not happy about it, I've said so and those are words etched in stone.

Just the other day I wrote about not allowing anger to push reason out of our heads and I could never live with myself if I allowed my anger to cause me to lose my perspective.  I must and I will honor my beliefs and my words...they are my truth.

As I grow older, I care less about what people think and more about what people do.  So, I'm not going to bed angry.  I'm gonna stay up and fight.

Everyone's Gone To The Moon
Johnathan King

(Words and Music by Kenneth King)

Streets full of people, all alone
Roads full of houses never home
Church full of singing out of tune
Everyone's gone to the moon

Eyes full of sorrow, never wet
Hands full of money, all in debt
Sun coming out in the middle of June
Everyone's gone to the moon

Long time ago
Life had begun
Everyone went to the sun

Hearts full of motors painted green
Mouths full of chocolate-covered cream
Arms that can only lift a spoon
Everyone's gone to the moon

Everyone's gone to the moon
Everyone's gone to the moon

Next stop...the Twilight Zone

First, this entry is coming by way of Internet Explorer.  Just like last nights entry did.  I logged on to AOL this morning, typed my new entry and just like last night, I got an error message every time I click on 'Save.'  This is not the way to run a fee-based service. 

Did the earth suddenly shift on its axis?  During the staff meeting Monday I asked that question, in jest.  Now I'm beginning to wonder...

I know the banner ads are there, yet it seems some people do not see them.  I noticed comments to that effect posted to John Scalzi's blog yesterday.  Alas, here above the Blue Skies I do see an ad.  No point in mentioning whose ad and perpetuating their name.

Woke up this morning to a rather interesting horoscope. 

Horoscope for: Wednesday, November 16, 2005

You are not as adversely affected by the weird energies floating around today. Everyone else may have a difficult time making sense of what's happening, but you just keep moving your projects along toward completion. Even if you are determined to stay on track, be open to unexpected changes for the sake of growth.

Okay, don't know about the affected part but I'm always receptive to the possibility of growth.  Change is constant.  This could fit either work, or personal as there are many changes a foot everywhere.  And as I sit here typing this I'm wondering if this entry will post when I click the 'Save' button.  Last night's entry came by way of Internet Explorer; I had to exit AOL and launch IE in order to post an entry to my AOL journal.  What a pain. 

On the positive side, I do like the new Spell Check feature.  That was a move in the right direction.  But it does not make up for the fact that I have to post journal entries by way of IE.

For several months I have considered starting another journal elsewhere because AOL isn't the only game in town.  I like it here and have invested a great deal of time into this journal, and maybe someday my granddaughter will read the words I wrote around the time of her birth.  And maybe she won't.  I love writing, I need to write and if my words make someone's day a little better, then I will have accomplished what I set out to do.  They say haste makes waste and so it is true.  For now the only change I plan to make is the removal of the side bar counter.  I never was into popularity contests anyway.

What I am into is service delivery and AOL falls short in that category.  Having worked in the software industry I have a keen sense of what drives these firms to operate the way they do.  The bottom line.  And I'm guessing the stockholders gave AOL managers a directive: improve the bottom line or else.  Find a way and just do it.  Business is business and love is shit.  That's just the way of the world.  Sooner or later all those free journal places will make a change when they start feeling the pinch of growing pains.

Money always talks, and bullshit always walks.  That, from this peace loving Taurus.  Go figure.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I needed a bone to chew on...

While I echo the sentiment against the intrusion of these banners at the top of everyone's journals...I have a this to add.

Clearly all our journals are drawing lots of traffic and hits, both within AOL and without; with each rotation of the visitor counters AOL managers must have been wringing their hands in eager anticipation of possible revenue streams, ripe for the plucking. 

Yes, I do have links to both not-for-profit and for-profit websites on my sidebar.  I have my reasons for making those inclusions and did so with a clear conscience as no one is paying me for those links.  Some are local small businesses I wish to spotlight, as I live in an extremely economically challenged area.  Others are charitable organizations close to my heart.  If including these links to enterprises in my sidebar gave AOL management the impression that I wouldn't mind having some corporate giant's moniker hanging over my header, well then let me make this perfectly clear.  I do mind.  I mind very much.

However, I seriously doubt that anyone who takes the time to visit my journal will be distracted from their purpose by a mortgage ad or other financial frivolity flashing across the screen.  I think people are smart enough to know how to use the scroll bar to make those annoying banners disappear from their view.

Having said that, AOL would be wise to find another way to promote America's corporate economy.  I do my best to help out in that arena, but I draw the line at having my personal space exploited in this manner.

If the ads are still here in seven days, I will make my journal private.  If the ads do not go away permanently by December 1, I have no problem dumping AOL and cancelling my subscription.  I did it before, I can do it again.

So much for AOL's latest televison campaign.  Guess they just forgot to mention the users won't be protected from AOL.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Mail order wisdom

Who knew wisdom could be found inside a catalog.  Picked up my slog of catalogs in my post office box today...and found two unexpected tidbits of wisdom in the new Wind & Weather catalog.  I was delighted.

ABCs of Life

Accept differences.  Be kind.  Count your blessings.  Dream.  Express thanks.  Forgive.  Give freely.  Harm no one.  Imagine more.  Jettison anger.  Keep confidences.  Love truly.  Master something.  Nurture hope.  Open your mind.  Pack lightly.  Quell rumours.  Reciprocate.  Seek wisdom.  Touch hearts.  Understand.  Value truth.  Win graciously.  Xeriscape.  Yearn for peace.  Zealously support a worthy cause.

And just for all us Baby Boomers...

ABCs of Aging

Avoid collagen.  Bloom late.  Celebrate.  Dance at weddingsEat more chocolate.  Fall in love again.   Go grey.  Hold hands.  Inspire.  Jettison grudges.  Kiss like you mean it.  Laugh.  Mend fences.  Nurture friendships.  Open doors.  Perspire with aplomb.  Quit whining.  Rekindle romance.  Spoil babies.  Teach someone to read.  Upset convention.  Volunteer.  Wear red.  eXpect joy.  Yield gracefully.  Zing.

Words of wisdom.

Okay, I'm getting started on this right away...and starting with 'Eat more chocolate.'  I hear some Ghiradelli's sitting on the fridge calling my name....

But...perspire with aplomb?

And speaking of baby boomer's...Sharon posted this yesterday and it's much too good to pass up.  click >here< and prepare yourself. 

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Landmarks

Time to look through your photos, because this photo shoot is a bit of a challenge:

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Display a picture you're taken of a famous man-made landmark. Significant buildings, big statues, great walls (particularly in China) -- it people put it together, it counts.

Well, I had to go back through the years...1998 to be exact, in order to find one that fit this challenge.  If you've ever visited Mt. Rushmore, you probably made the drive up the mountain road to the site.  Just before you round the final corner that leads to the entrance, if you turn around and look out your back window, this is what you'll see...George that is, not necessarily the goat.  I like this point of view because it shows a different side of this famous face looming over the rock from which it came.  The only reason why I caught this view was because mountain goats where walking along the road side and completely stopped the traffic.

Cute little guy isn't a shaggy kind of way.


~~One way to feel the holiness of something is to hear its inner resonance, the more-than-personal elements sounding-vibrating through. --M. C. Richards~~


Can You Really Count On These Counters?

It's one of the questions I always ask myself.  Are the counters included in these journals really accurate?  I'm not convinced.

There are journals that I know receive a lot of traffic.  Every day there have handfuls of comments posted, yet the counter barely moves.  What's up with that? 

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Someone's not in the kitchen with Dona

This entry is for Alphawoman1.
Contrary to popular belief, I am not a domestic goddess.
No siree.  Far from it.
Okay, so there is evidence that every now and then I venture into the kitchen and emerge with homemade goodies.
But, truth be told, I really don't shine in the kitchen.  The first time I made jelly by myself, I almost burned down the house and ruined a brand new stove.  Just the year before I had learned how to make grape jelly at the home of my friend, Bona.  And she warned me, more than once, don't try to make jelly by yourself.  You should always have someone helping, especially once the fruit, sugar, and water mixture starts boiling.
So one fall evening a couple of years ago I wanted to make some more grape jelly for Christmas gifts.  Bona was supposed to help, but her back was flaring up and she was down for the day.  Same for Sam, who had put in a doubly full day at work and was physically drained.  Fresh grapes are only fresh for a short time, and I had picked these grapes days before, so I decided not to wait any longer.  I gathered all the necessary tools and ingredients and got cookin'.
I turned the solid grapes into liquid, and ended up with about 12 cups of juice.  Into the pot goes 8 cups of juice and 5 cups of sugar (shock!  yes, 5 cups).  Set heat to high and wait for mixture to boil.
They say a watched pot never boils.  Oh, it does.  The second you take your eyes off it.
I'm keeping one eye on the mixture while I get the jars ready to receive the hot liquid.  The jelly pot is close to boiling when I turned my back just long enough to line up some of the jars so I can begin to spoon the jelly into them.  Both my hands are full of glass jars when out of the corner of my eye I see the liquid level in the pot quickly rise to the top...and begin to spill over.  In horror I put the jars down on the counter, shut off the burner and remove the pot from the heat, after grabbing two pot holders, of course.  Safety first, you know.  Too late.  Our stove is electric, not gas, and is one of those solid surface types that take forever and a day to cool down after the heat element is turned off.
The pot is no longer into a rolling boil, but now smoke is billowing...quite profusely I might the stove top.  Thick, grey sugary sweet smoke.  SHIT!  Switch on the overhead exhaust fan.  Forget trying to wipe the sugary mess off the stove, the heat has now crystalized the sugar and bonded it to the stovetop, which is still pretty hot and doing a mighty fine job of filling the kitchen with smoke.  SHIT!  Run around the kitchen, opening every window and the door.  The stove is still smoking and the exhaust fan isn't working.  Visions of fire fighters rushing into my home armed with axes and fire hoses immediately come to mind.  This would be an appropriate time to panic before the smoke detectors start going off.
Run around the house, calling out to the hubby who is downstairs in the family room.  Continue to open doors and all available windows...continue to panic.  The living room is now filling up with smoke.
It's a rather eerie feeling to open the front door of your home and literally watch thick, grey smoke being sucked outside.  A tad unsettling as well.
Walk back to the kitchen and banish the thought of trying to cover up my little faux pas.  I'll never get away with hiding the evidence now.  Busted!  The look on Sam's face when he walked into the kitchen was....well, in a word, indescribable.  And I won't repeat what he said.  I've choosen to forget.
An hour later, the smoke finally cleared.  Two hours later Sam finished scraping the burned grape syrup off the brand new stove top.  That was my version of 'How to break in a new appliance.'  And a darn good hootin' I job did of that if I may say so!
When all was said and done, I called Bona, knowing she could use a good laugh.
To this day I can't stand in front of that stove and watch something boil without thinking back to that day.
I now own a very tall stock pot which I use to make my jelly in and I never fill it more than one-quarter full.  The jars get set up before I make the jelly mixture.  And to look at the stove, you'd never know what happened three years ago.  Not a trace of burned sugar remains.
What happened to that batch of jelly?  Well, it became grape syrup; it never got the chance to become jelly.  A lot of work goes into turning solid grapes into juice and I wasn't about to toss all that work down the drain.  Pissed as I was at myself, I just couldn't throw that stupid stuff away.
Looking back, I probably should have and written it off as an offering to appease the kitchen muse.

Breezin' Through My Mind

Everyday I drive by a flag in the middle of a rose garden.  Everyday I see the flag and the rose bushes, and yet most of the time, I never see them.  It's as if, having driven by so many times, these things are either burned into my conscience so I no longer 'notice' them, or I'm so preoccupied with getting to point B that I no longer realize they exist.

The other day on my drive back to the office, the wind was blowing and I had to stop for traffic.  A fierce gust caused the flag to unfurl completely, whipping the immense fabric open to it's full glory.  After months of summer air, dense and still, the flag suddenly came to life.  It took my breath away.  How is it that I can drive by something everyday, hundreds of times, and yet totally miss it?

I constantly remind myself to stop each day and take note of the little things.  There are days when I feel completely surrounded by the little things that make life so magical.  Days when I feel fortunate, lucky to be alive.  Moments in a lifetime of days I will always remember.  And then, it seems I can go for weeks without ever noticing anything.  Everything just blurs by in a continuous span of lost time.  Time I know occurred filled with moments I don't remember.  As if a light was turned off somewhere, shutting down my sense of being, unplugging my sense of wonder.

What happens during those moments when I feel like I'm just going through the motions, living, alive, yet seeing nothing?  Are those the times when I allow the stress and strain to take over?  It feels that way.  I am amazed that I can do something everyday, over and over, and totally miss it.  Then turn around the next day and see once again.  Everyday I park in front of a massive tree, but I never noticed the tree.  Until the day the wind blew the flag.  Everyday I drive by another tree, a huge tree, a Swiss Family Robinson tree, yet I never paid much attention to it until that day.  I always saw the tree, but I really did not notice it.

I just realized the why.  It's my camera.  On those days when I carry my camera with me, my eyes are open, my senses are keen.  And the days when I leave my camera at home, are just another blur.  Not always, but it seems that way.  I remember with acute recollection the moments of days when I have my digital eyes with me, and the days without my camera are lost like bits of dust in the dark.

When I take my camera, when I take a picture, there is  more going on than just my eyes peering into a viewfinder.  Looking through the lens opens my perspective on what I see, and connecting those images with thoughts...words...opens my eyes; aligning all that is good with beauty, and all that is right with wonder.

The magic of an everyday person, brought to life, through the lens of a simple camera

~~Have a vision big enough to be uncomfortable--not all dreams come easy.~~

~~We are all created to make a difference.~~

A Good Hair Day

"Today is a good day," the woman said as she walked through the hair salon.

There was something in the way she said it.  A calmness in her voice that pulled my attention to her.  Ev stopped cutting my hair momentarily and looked up as the woman sat down in the chair at the station next to us.  With a smile, Pam draped a shampoo cape around the woman.  "Oh?" she remarked as she cocked her head, eye brows raised in curious expectation.

"Yes," the woman smiled.  She looked up at Pam, then said, "Today my son is back on American soil."

With those words everything stopped.  She held our attention.  There were only four of us in the salon, but with her words I was taken by the sense that I would carry this moment all my life.  Ev dropped her arms to her side as I turned in the chair to face the mother, swallowing the lump I felt in my throat.  "You must be relieved," I heard Ev say.  "Does he get to stay home for the holidays?"

The mother turned to both of us.  She radiated with a glow; a peaceful serenity of total calm surrounded her.  "He's home to stay," she replied, her words floating in the air like the promise of a new day.

Pam asked the question we all formed in our minds.  "Where was he?"

"Iraq."  It was a simple one word response, filled with such emotion I wondered how many times she had said that word before, her voice then filled with uncertainty and a mother's fear.  The uncertainty of wondering how much longer, how many more times would she say that word.  The uncertainty was gone, replaced by pure joy.

For the next few minutes she shared her joy with us.  Through her words I learned.  Her son served in the National Guard, called to duty almost two years ago.  Now he was returning back to everything he left behind, his family, his home, and even his job.  His employer was holding his job for him.  I learned the most dangerous part of being in Iraq for the soldiers, is the trip home.  The soldiers do not fly out of Iraq, they must make a long journey across the country...a journey across open terrain in which they are vulnerable.  A journey that for some ends much too soon.

"That," she said, "is when many of them die.  On their way home."

As she calmly spoke my thoughts turned to them.  Silence followed.

It was an ordinary day that started like any other.  Normally I make my hair appointments late in the afternoon, after work.  But when Ev offered the lunch hour time slot, I took it.  I'm glad I did.

I am a creature of habit and while I don't always resist change, I thrive in the mundane and routine.  In the structure of that routine I find security.  Then one day, I changed the routine and did something differently, with a few second thoughts.  Now, I realize that change can bring us blessings.  I felt blessed to be there that moment.  It gave me the chance to witness first-hand one of the happy stories.  After months of hearing and reading so many negative accounts of this war, for me, this one moment helped to counter balance some of the negative.  Not all of it, by no means, but some of it.

The mother finished sharing her story with us, then eased her back into the chair as Pam lowered her head down to the sink.  The salon was quiet as Ev turned to me and lifted her hands back to my head.  I turned my thoughts inward, silently remembering all the news reports, all the numbers, all the anger.

It was the opening of a simple door, and a simple change in my schedule, that brought me to the moment.  A moment I never expected...a moment I will never forget.  Guess you could say it was a good hair day.

Moments ago, as I was preparing to save this entry, I heard the sound of a car door outside.  I looked up from the computer screen, out through the window and watched a young couple with a baby walk into the tree farm across the street.  For years I have watched families walk amid those trees.  Today I watched this young couple, undeterred by the blowing wind or cloudy skies, their baby carefully bundled against the cold, moving carefully between the trees, searching for and then selecting just the right tree.  Creating a tradition.  It is a time for traditions, old and new. 

Change, it seems, can be apowerful thing.  Sometimes change is good for the soul.


~~Create a new tradition this season; do something out of the ordinary!~~

~~Forgiveness is a choice to release the other person from the need to make them pay for what they did that caused harm.  Forgiveness is the key to restoration in a relationship.~~


Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Before & After

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Do "Before and After" photos on any subject you like. The idea is to show change over a bit of time. Some easy ideas would be haircuts, cleaned-up rooms, kittens growing up into cats, and etc. And yes, this means you can dip into your collection of old photos (they certainly qualify as "before").

Feeling a bit like a copy cat, because I decided to use a tree for my before and after shots; the difference is where John's tree starts with lots of leaves and ends without any leaves, mine goes in reverse.  A lovely specimen Dogwood, seen first in full bloom last spring, or about six months ago; secondly, as it looks today.  If it seems as if the dogwood looks fuller, or lusher, in the after photos, your eyes are not deceiving you.  In the spring, dogwoods display only the delicate flowers with no leaves, which come on later.  So there is actually more foilage on the tree in the fall than there is in the spring.  The leaves start out bright green in late spring and turn bright red in the fall.  Talk about a transformation.

BEFORE - Dogwood, April 2005

AFTER - Dogwood, November 2005


~~Pause often and take deep breaths; it is good for the soul.~~

Terms of Endearment

I can not believe how much baby D has grown these past few months.  Sure both her parents are tall, as are both her granddaddies, but she has grown so much in this short time.  Grown may be an understatement; she's almost outgrown her car seat already. She's grown so much that Sam has taken to calling her 'Bubba.' 

Where does he come up with this stuff?


Monday, November 7, 2005

Positive Self-talk

I'm always talking to myself.  And I've heard it's okay to engage oneself in long as you don't answer.

Okay.  Sounds good to me.

Over time I have crafted this ability into a fine edged sword, that cuts both ways.

 Parry.  Thrust. 

I can talk myself into...or out of...almost anything.  I can easily fall into the pit of tearing myself down.  I often think we...women...excell at this, more so than men.  Why is that?  I know I am harder on myself than anyone else can possibly be on me.

Lighten up.  Those times I catch myself berating this or over analyzing that, I stop.  What am I doing to myself? 

It's one thing to do something well, but it's another thing to over do it.  And there is such a thing as overkill.

Years ago I discovered the art of self-talk and positive affirmations. There is power in affirming what is good and using the aid of visualization to bring goals into the here and now.  Some might call it day-dreaming...okay.  In our day dreams lies what we want, and maybe how we can get there.  In our dreams live the future.  The possibilities of our lives thrive in those dreams.  That is a magic.

Last week I found myself thumbing through the current issue of Ladies Home Journal, but alas I was waylaid by the new Stetson ad.  Tonight I picked the mag back up and another ad caught my eye.

When was the last time?

It's been too long.  This I know because I don't remember when.

I believe we must all be good to ourselves, and to each other.  We are the role models young people look to for guidance.  What are we teaching them?  How will they remember us?  Memories can last a lifetime, and some of the strongest memories we all carry are a mixed bag of happy days and crappy days.  And when things aren't going well, which will get us through those long dark tunnels, compelling us forward to the light we know is there?  The happy or the crappy?

I can't watch reality tv; what's real about it?  It's edited before it's aired.  Edited for ratings and entertainment value with one goal, pitting human against human.  When I see the ads on CBS I often wonder, are we as a society moving forward, or going backward.  If future generations, fifty or so years from now, were to watch these shows, what does the show say about us? 

We live in stress-filled times.  Little things can go wrong every day, and a series of little things can set us off.  Our anger can rear that ugly head at a moments notice and quickly go out of control.  Remember the wife who ran over her cheating husband in a parking lot?  No, cheating isn't a little thing, but something...many somethings...must have happened to her to push her past the point of reason; it seems she lost her perspective.  There are many other ways she could have dealt with his infidelity, less violent ways.

Keep your perspective.  Make it positive, full of lifes possibilities, brimming with promise.  With three simple words...

Keep hope alive.

I'm rambling, and I've proven that a picture is worth a thousand words.  Funny how one simple ad featuring one little girl can have this much impact.

On The Road With My Camera

Funny how some things come about.  This morning while going through my photo albums in search of a specific photo, I stumbled on a couple of funny pics I took years ago.  Moments where I was glad I had my camera with me.
Well, I just can't keep some things to myself, so I decided to scan these pics for my journal.  When I logged on a few minutes ago, Robin had sent me an e-mail joke titled Why You Should Always Take Your Camera With You which had me giggling in no time (sometimes I wonder if she can read my mind).  The photos in her message were colorful adult humor type pics and you won't find them below.  Sub-title the following my G rated version of Why You Should Always Take Your Camera With You

That's one way to recycle.  Year: 1988  Location: Seattle, Washington

The day I realized not all bikers are bad.  That is one beloved Teddy; hard to see in the photo but Teddy is wearing the lastest in fashion eyewear, custom fitted goggles. Year: 1988  Location: Hayden, Idaho

The pilot for a new television show, Plushie Poker Games.  The show never gained a captive audience, but inspired the current show World Poker Tour.  Year: 1994  Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico  This would have been a really great shot if not for the wrought iron gate.
I am curious, what with all this comedic talent and open perspectives here in J-Land...what other possible captions work for these photos?  Like #3 could also be 'What happens when Plushies go bad.'

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Mixed Blessings

The local news just reported the mother of the five children killed in a crash yesterday is reaching out to the driver of the other vehicle.  Family and friends say the mother is drawing upon the strength of her faith, and the support of the community.  There is, it seems, a light of hope for the future.  She is expecting her sixth child in six weeks.  Also, investigators initally reported none of the children were belted in; they now say some of the children were belted in.

And, this is not the first time tragedy has struck this family.  Seven years ago the family was camping and a mountain lion entered the campsite.  The oldest daughter was attacked by the lion, who clamped its jaws around her head, tearing apart pieces of her skull. The mother heard her daughter screaming and was able to frighten the lion away.  The lion was later destroyed by a game warden.

Even in the midst of trauma, the human spirit lives on...inspiring, reaching, and touching.  I pray for all the people touched by this tragedy; the mother, the father, the other driver, and their families.  May peace be their anchor in this horrific storm.


In another local story, common sense seems to be prevailing in the case against Joseph Duncan, the man accused of kidnapping young Shasta Groene and murdering her family, among other things.  Defense attorneys have dropped demands for copies of videotapes Duncan made after kidnapping Shasta and her brother.  The images on these tapes have been described by prosecutors as graphic and disturbing, leaving them concerned that, if released, copies of the tape could become public.  Both legal teams struck a deal to prevent copying the tapes.  The deal allows the defense to see the images at any time, and the prosecution agreed not to use the material at trial or sentencing if the case gets that far.  Finally, proof that attorneys have not lost sight of all their moral values.

There is always hope.  Maybe this case will set a prescendent for current and future cases to protect the innocence of victims.  Sometimes the public doesn't need to see everything.  As some things are better left unsaid, some images are better left unseen.



Buckle Them Up...Please

Tragedy has struck the community of Spokane in a horrible way.  This morning on the news I learned of an automobile accident, a head-on collision involving two vehicles.   The driver of one vehicle crossed the center line.  He is alive and in the hospital.  Investigators believe weather contributed to the crash, and alcohol is not suspected.  The driver of the other vehicle survived and is hospitalized, but his five children, ranging in age from 2 years to 12 years, did not survive.  None of the children were wearing seat belts.

Before you put that vehicle in drive, make sure all your passengers are always buckled up.  Please.

MSN has the story, click >here<

Be safe out there.  Jimmy has an entry related to driving, too.  With an unhappy ending as well.  Click >here< to read his entry.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Men in Black....:)

My new retirement savings plan.  If the government will print this photo on all paper money...I won't spend any more dollars.

I promise.  I will learn how to save.

Ladies, it is time for ol' George and Ab and Thomas, et al to step aside.  I say our money deserves a new face.  Starting with the one above.




'Nuff said.