Thursday, March 15, 2018

Spring is Almost Here

It's wonderful seeing Spring peeking out from behind the gloom of winter here and there.  Sunshine and warmth reaching our bones. My yard and flowers are starting to awaken.  Yesterday I saw a cardinal perched on my back fence.  The squirrels have become more playful and are teasing the cats through the windows in the sun room.  My heart just sings at the thought of winter leaving and Spring and Summer coming.  I have gotten some of my 'To Do List' done this winter but not as much as I had hoped.  I'll just have to continue to work on it throughout the year.  Eventually, I will have it all knocked off.  

As soon as I'm sure there are no more freezes scheduled by Mother Nature here, I intend to plant flowers and work my flowerbeds.  That always perks everything up around here and gives the house a fresh face.  I love flowers!  Well,  I love planting them but once planted I forget to water or weed them.  Thank goodness for my wonderful husband who comes behind me and makes sure everything lives and survives.  It will also be time to check to see if there is any painting on the outside that needs my attention.  I always check to make sure that the trim is well covered and sealed so that no water can get in the wood and cause wood rot.  And then finally, wash the outside of the windows.  I can never get to the second story though, how do people do that???? Of course I can hire someone for the windows, and have in the past but how do people do it themselves ... little elves? ... fairies?  ... there has to be a magical way to do this chore. 

Spring is always exciting to me for a number of reasons, one of course is that winter is going back into hiding ... that is always a good thing.  Another is that it's always amazed me how the earth awakens from it's long sleep.  One day you see a few little pieces of green and then it's like over night and you wake up and the world goes from black and white and gloomy to this wonderland of bright color and amazing sounds and smells.  The grass is green, the trees are green, the flowers start blooming, the butterflies return, the birds are everywhere singing and flittering around.  The little creatures like squirrels and rabbits are running around and playing.  In the evenings you hear the crickets and frogs.  Sometimes it's just overwhelming how everything wakes up at once.  I absolutely love it!  But there is one reason that is more important than all of that and that's that summer is right around the corner and I know that Rachel and Phoenix will be here soon.  I look forward to my daughter and grandson's visit so much.  It's like all the holidays combined into one.  I wish our son-in-law could come as well but he doesn't get as much vacation time and I understand that but it's wonderful for those two weeks to have our family all together again.  

Today I have planned to get out and find For Sale by Owners to contact and see what I can get going.  It's a beautiful day. 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Cold Weather and Sweet Cuddles

It's quiet tonight, Gary's in bed asleep and the cats are settled in the cat tree.  They love their new cat tree and I like the fact it doesn't take up as much room as the old one did.  Kali climbs it by shimming up the side poles and Bandit uses the ladder.  It really doesn't matter I guess how they get up there, they enjoy it and it wasn't as much of an adjustment as I thought it would be. 

It has been so cold, I've been getting out only when I had too.  Today I was out showing a house, spent my weekend showing houses and doing an Open House but other than that, I stayed home where it's warm and comfortable.  I think the animals have it right ... hibernate!  Too bad we don't get to do that as well.  Wouldn't it be nice to sleep for a couple of months and wake up and it's Spring?  Yesterday we heard a woodpecker and just can't fathom why it's still hanging around  It is cold, cold, cold!  Poor animals are so confused by the Oklahoma weather this year ... 70s one day and 20s the next.  None of us can quite get used to it.  The cats love to go out to the sun room but it's just been too cold for them out there so instead they have decided to drive me crazy. 

Bandit ... she will actually let me take her picture.

Kali ... hisses and spits when you try to take her picture

The new cat tree.
These are our babies and different as night and day.  Bandit is all girl and prissy.  She's sweet and cuddly and very gentle.  Kali is playful and mischievous and constantly getting into things.  She can climb the door frames in the house and walk the ledge above the doors so we are always flinching when we walk through a doorway wondering if she's going to drop on us.  Both are very much loved.  Both are crazy about tuna and every time they hear us opening a can they think it has to be tuna.  They both have fun personalities.  

Well, it's time for bed.  Sweet dreams everyone. 

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Passing Around the Love

When you're out walking, do you smile at everyone you meet?  Smiles are free, I give them out as often as I can.  Do you stop to compliment the person at the checkout stand at Wal-Mart or other places?  I try to always have a kind word, a compliment to pass on to them.  You know they hear complaints all day and what a horrible, negative day that can be.  It doesn't cost anything to give them something positive, something good.  A smile, a kind word.  It might help them take a second breath and feel better for the next person. 

I've noticed this past year how negative, how angry and just how mean people can be to each other.  Social media is a wonderful thing but it also takes away the face to face and allows people to forget there are feelings behind those screen names.  Using Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts to attack someone or bully them is just cowardly and mean.  I hate to think that so many people  are so unhappy with their own lives that they have to attack another to feel good about themselves.  What a miserable life, a miserable person that must be! 

We have always been a nation of diversity, yet this past year we have taken so many steps back.  Has anyone forgotten where we came from?  This nation was founded on diversity!  The freedom to worship as you want, that doesn't mean you can force another to worship as you do.  The freedom to buy a home wherever you want, that doesn't mean you get to tell everyone else where they can live.   The freedom to choose your own career, you do not get to choose the career they have by their nationality or gender.  You cannot choose to stump the growth of another because they are possibly doing better than you.  Work a little harder, try a little more ... give your best.  Where did all the jealousy come from?  Be able to lift your head and be proud of who you are and what you've accomplished.  Some will always accomplish more and have more, is that really a big deal?  If it is, look deep inside yourself and figure out why it's a big deal.  Why do you feel you deserve more, have you worked harder, pushed further, given it 100%  or are you just expecting everything to be handed to you?  This has become an age of entitlement and it saddens me to see it. 

Be happy with who you are and what you have.  Start there.  If you need to improve, do it.  But first, be happy with yourself.  Be honest with yourself, learn who you are and then befriend you.  That's really where it all begins.  If you work on yourself, you don't have time to judge everyone else or to be jealous of them or to hate them.  It's so much easier to reach out to another and help when you like yourself.  No more anger.  No more cowardly bullying.  No more judging.  John 8:7 says, "Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."  That is a clear view of what Jesus thought of judging and bullying.  He was always there to help those that were in need.  As Christians, we also should be there to help those in need, because being Christian is supposed to mean being Christ like.  We are supposed to follow his teachings and do what we know he would want us to. Don't twist that to mean what you want it to, it's clearly written as to how he wanted us to behave.   Start with a smile, pass it around and give them out ... as I said earlier, they're free.  When you pass a person on the street, don't automatically go to judging the way they are dressed or the color of their hair or skin or how they behave, find something positive about that person.  Stop them even, they too may be in a hurry and tell them "I think you have the most beautiful eyes" or "your smile is contagious!" or even "you have such nice posture".  There are a million things that you find with each person to compliment.  It only takes a few seconds and the more you pass around the better you will feel too.  

Today is Open House day for me. It's a beautiful sun shiny day which means I could get a fair amount of traffic.  Have a wonderful day everyone and please, love yourself.  

Saturday, January 27, 2018

A Little Work & A Whole Lot of Playing

Today I worked a bit on organizing one of my closets.  Going through my clothes is a daunting task, LOL.  The more I weed out, the more I find.  I really want to reduce my clothes to one closet.  My shoes are going to be the biggest issue.  I love shoes ... I mean I LOVE shoes.  I can't seem to have enough of them.  I built shelves in our smallest bedroom closet and I have rows and rows of clear boxes that hold my shoes.  I try to go through them and give them away but they end up back in that closet.  I really can't let them go and I keep adding to them.  I guess I should have started this post with ... Hi, my name is Debbie and I'm a shoe addict.  I do wear them though, in my job I should always be dressed nice so I wear all my heels. In the summer I wear all the sandals and in the winter I wear all the boots.  So ... I'm thinking it's really not so much an addiction as it is a necessity.  But, truly, I do love shoes!

 Today turned out to be warm and sunny for a January afternoon so I took some time off and ran to Best Buy to find myself a new camera bag.  My old one is just not large enough for everything and I've already outgrown the one that came with my camera.  Things have changed a lot since I bought my last one, it's almost all backpacks now and that is what I ended up getting.  I thought about it for a while because I could always go online and order one but after trying several over my shoulder I found one that was really comfortable and roomy enough to hold all my photography stuff in it.  This is the one I chose:
The pack is slim and the straps or extra padded.  Very comfortable to wear over one or both shoulders

There's room for everything.  I was able to put in all my lens and camera, cleaning stuff, extra battery and filters.  I found a place for the battery charger, and all the cords. Everything is in one place. 

After I packed my new camera case, I went outside and played with my camera a bit.  I wanted to record the difference between the different lens so that basically I would understand what each does, what their pros and cons are.  Mostly I took pictures of tree tops and sky as I was wanting to know how true the color records to the photo.  I also wanted to play with composition a bit as well.  Today I played with the 24mm, 40mm, and the 18-55mm lens. I tested how close I could actually get without losing focus and how far I could shoot without losing value.  making sure that I chose the same things to take pictures of helped so that I could compare the photos. The 18-55mm allows you to get closer to your subject.  I was within 3-4 inches before it got blurry.  The 40mm I had to be 6-8 inches away.  The 24mm I could be within 4-6 inches.  All of them shot at a distance pretty much the same but I had all the lens on auto focus.  This was my favorite shot of the day:

shot with the 18-55mm. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

Gloomy Days of Winter

Gray cast skies today.  Why does winter have to be so gloomy?  It's bad enough that it's cold outside but to see everything gray and dead looking is just depressing.  My new mantra is ... Spring will be here soon ... Spring will be here soon, and it will be.  But, until it arrives, I have the opportunity to do the things I never have time for during the Spring, Summer and Fall.

  • Cleaning out the attic ... a job I have put off for years but has needed to be done.  Oh my it is a mess.  We live in a two story house so it's a walk in attic and I have a tendency to store junk, ten years of junk actually.  So this is a big job and most of this should have been thrown away years ago.  Note to self:  Get rid of junk, don't store it!
  • Cleaning out closets ... how many of us collect clothes thinking we'll wear them again someday?  Or maybe they were favorites at one time but basically have been replaced by other favorites.  I think I'm a shopaholic.  My closets are crammed full and I don't wear a tenth of what's in them.  I hate trying on in the store so I buy, bring home, stick in closet and when I finally try it on ... I really don't like the garment.  Time to donate or discard.  Note to self:  Take time to try on clothes in the store and save yourself a lot of money!
  • Clean out from under sinks, kitchen and bathrooms.  I don't know if you're like me but I have every cleaner known to man under my kitchen sink and again I only use a handful of things.  Time to toss all the others and get real when I'm shopping. Note to self:  Quit buying crap you don't use!
  • Finish painting the upstairs hallway!  Oh man this one stings ... it's been halfway painted for a few years now.  It should have already been done but basically out of sight out of mind.  This has to be done before I start any new home renovation projects.
  • Finish putting up crown molding in downstairs hallway.  Ouch!  This one is not out of sight so it needs to be done first.  
  • Strip carpet from stairs and do wooden stairway.  Oh my, this will be my reward for getting the last two projects done.  I've wanted to do this for quite some time.  I hate carpeted stairwells.  We have two cats so constantly vacuuming the stairs and that's one of their favorite places to play.  
  • Redo cabinets in kitchen and paint kitchen.  Again, something I will enjoy.  
Well, as you can see, I have lots to keep me busy plus I have just gotten a new camera that I'm learning to use.  So these next 5 or 6 weeks should fly by.  I also have returned to my sewing machines and have started several projects there.  So there's really not a lot of time to absorb the gloom of winter since I'm going to have to hustle to get ready to welcome Spring.  Can't wait to open windows and let the fresh air in and hear the birds sing.  I want my house all clean and fresh and ready for it as well.  

I've been going out a few times a week taking pictures and I'm going to attach a few to this post that I think are note worthy.  My husband, Gary, and I went to Oxley Nature Center in Tulsa and took several of the trails while I played with my camera.  It was one of those rare warm, sunny winter days. It had followed a really bad freezing few weeks so it was nice to get out and feel the sun on my face.  It had been several years (probably over 20) since we had been to the Nature Center in the winter so it was like discovering it all over again.  Enjoy the pictures.  
This was the marsh area.  An area we avoid in the summer because of the mosquitos 

This was the lake area, this is always a beautiful area no matter what time of year. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

To Challenge Myself

Brrrrr!  It's cold outside!  This is always the hardest time for me ... the cold, cloudy days of winter.  I hate to get out of the house, I want to just burrow in and read or watch a little TV.  So each winter I decide I have to have some sort of challenge, something that gets me out of the house and keeps me active.  This winter, I've decided to take up photography.  I've always been interested in it and I've dabbled in it for years but now I really want to learn everything I can about it.  I just ordered myself a really good camera so when it gets here I'll make myself get out and take pictures.  I'll learn new things and have something wonderful to show for it.  I've also just gotten a new sewing machine that does quilting and my first serger so I'll be making myself challenges with that too for those days that's just horribly depressing and too miserable to get outside.  I'll post things from time to time to show what I have learned. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Saying Goodbye to 2017

This past year has been a difficult  ... devastating  ... enlightening ... challenging ... blessed year.  I think I have either been dizzy or breathless the majority of the time from the roller coaster style my life decided to adapt this last year, but I stayed on that roller coaster and I road it all the way. Sometimes screaming at the top of my lungs. Sometimes laughing as tears streamed down my face.  My grandmother, bless her sweet soul, used to say, "God will never give you more than you can handle."  I thought of that a lot this year.  "God will never give you more than you can handle."  Such a simple statement but my grandmother believed it totally.  I can tell you there were times my faith was challenged and I leaned on my grandmother's faith instead.  There's a country song about the voices in our head and my grandmother's voice is in mine quite frequently.  If ever I had an idol, it was her.  She died in 1994 not long after she turned 94.  I have a VHS tape of that birthday party and her singing Sweet Willie.

Grandma read her bible every morning sitting at the small kitchen table in her small trailer facing the little window.  I can still picture her there with the sun shining in, it always seemed to encase her while she read.  I remember thinking when I was a young whimsical teenager that she was reading the bible with God's glory surrounding her.  I always felt she had a direct line to Jesus, that he listened to her prayers first.  Grandma was the closest thing to perfect I ever knew, I thought she walked on water.  "God will never give you more than you can handle."  She'd lived through trials and tribulations my young mind just couldn't quite grasp so if Grandma believed that, then so must I.  As I grew older, I would question some of her faith and she would just smile with love and tolerance and tell me that  Jesus knew our hearts better than we did.  He knew our fears, our thoughts, our dreams, our wants and our desires.  Now that was a little scary.  Being a teenager you have a lot going on in that small hormonal brain.  When I was hurt, she would comfort me.  When I was angry and confused, she would sooth me.  When I was lost, she would help me find my way.  There never was nor will there ever be another that touched my soul the way my grandmother did, so her words even now bring me comfort, keep me in line, or give me hope.  "God will never give you more than you can handle." Those are the words I lived by this year.

 In the beginning of the year we found out my husband needed to have brain surgery and we couldn't find a neurosurgeon anywhere near here that would touch him, we found one in Phoenix, Arizona.  Those words ran through my mind as I sat by myself in the waiting room and waited the outcome of his surgery.  I prayed but I reminded God that my grandma said he wouldn't give me more than I could handle and I couldn't handle losing Gary, just in case he needed a little help.  God must have agreed with me because Gary came out of it fine.  We spent the next few weeks with him learning to get his balance back and recover everything but he went back to work and life was almost back to normal.  "God blesses us daily." Grandma smiled and whispered and squeezed my hand.

Then came the wedding.  My baby brother was finally getting married, they had lived together for almost 6 years.  I watched his eyes glisten with tears as he said his vows to her.  He really loved her ... he was happy. "God blesses us daily."  Life was good.

Then I came down with the Shingles.  Oh my, never have I felt such pain.  "God will never give you more than you can handle."  Boy did I think that was a big fat lie when I was going through that, but you know what? I did handle it and I did survive it.  As I began to recover, summer broke in Oklahoma.  I would sit outside a little each day trying to recover my strength and just feel the glorious sunshine on my face.  My sun room welcomed me again in the mornings as I drank my coffee and the birds sang, the bugs buzzed, and the trees filled out and became a canopy once again to cover and shade the backyard. The squirrels chased each other up and down the trees and across the yard.  They were so playful and happy.  I had missed Spring and the awakening but I could celebrate the rebirth.  "God blesses us daily."  Grandma's voice whispers in my head and I smile, "Yes, I am blessed."

The children came to visit for a couple of weeks.  What amazing, wonderful children we have!  How can anyone doubt the glory of God when they look at the gifts He has given them in their children.  It humbles me to think these two marvelous human beings came from our love.  A daughter and a son, how could I have ever asked for more?  Our daughter came to visit and brought our wonderful grandson with her.  He's growing so fast, it's hard to keep up. A teenager now, taller than me. Handsome, smart, witty, so easy to talk to and be around.  He has such a wide range of interests.  Yes we are blessed.  Two weeks packed with activities that we could all enjoy and then some down time for me to recover until the next activity.  I was still feeling the aftershocks of all our previous months, so many times I just wanted to reach out and touch their faces to make sure they were really there and not just a dream.  Rob got to visit with them a lot as well.  Grandpa spent time with Grandson.  The two weeks went so fast, it seemed they had just gotten there before it was time for them to leave us.  Saying goodbye was hard and I always cry when they leave but I know they are always just a phone call away and we'll see them again at Christmas when we go there to visit.  I feel Grandma's hand squeeze mine, "Sometimes you have to let go of what you love for it to find it's way back to you."  I think she had been referring to something else, probably one of my many broken hearts but it fit this as well.  We do have to let our children go, we have to let them live without us.  We were given a job, although a quite pleasant one, of raising that child to become an independent adult.  I did a remarkable job ... my children have no problem being independent, responsible adults ... I'm just not sure I'm an independent parent.  Sometimes I think I need them more than they need me.  Yes, Grandma, I am blessed.

Back to Arizona we went.  This time I was not as afraid.  My time with the children had renewed and revived me.  We had a few problems and Gary almost bled out on the operating table.  Afterwards they sent us back to the hotel with instructions to watch for more bleeding and make sure to call 911 immediately because, as they put it, "it's a main artery and he could die in minutes if it's not stopped." You leave in a daze wondering if they understand that Real Estate Agent doesn't come under the medical care category. The first night I don't even sleep, I watch him sleep.  The second night I hear Grandma saying, "God will not give you more than you can handle. He is with you." But I am not my grandma, I cannot let go of control and sometimes blind faith is more than I can comprehend.  I guess you could say my husband put his faith in the doctors, I wasn't doing that either.  By the third day there was no more signs of trouble.  The blood had quit leaking out and so the plug had taken well.  I finally relaxed, Gary slept a lot during that trying to regain his own strength.  We enjoyed a week at a lovely condo in Phoenix.  We visited with wonderful friends.  We made beautiful memories.  I am blessed.

A few weeks home and I find out that my baby brother is heartbroken.  This woman that he loved, who he had lived with for almost 6 years and been married to just a few short months has decided she doesn't love him anymore.  How does one recover from that?  I wanted to choke her.  I had loved her too.  I called her sister.  I trusted her with one of the most precious things of my life, my brother's heart.  He was devastated and she was just ... well we won't go there.  I drove down to spend some time with him.  My mind reaching out to Grandma, "help us.  Help me help him.  I know you say God doesn't give us more than we can handle but this is too much."  She whispered to my soul, "Be there, listen to him and let him talk."  Sometimes I was able to do that but there were a lot of times I was trying to give Big Sisterly advise too. If I could have ripped her from his heart, I would have.  If I could have erased her from his mind, I would have.  But I have no magical powers so I hurt for him, that's all I could do.  He did get stronger and he did recover and I did not kill her ... yet.  I would not wish that confusion and pain on anyone except maybe her.  I do hope Karma catches up to her.

Thanksgiving came and it was quiet, just family.  It was Mama's favorite holiday and always brings memories of her.  This was almost a repeat of the Thanksgiving following her death.  It was sad and awkward, but we were all together and that's what mattered.  Holidays can, at times, be like little shards of glass that stick in your heart when your hurting and bleed you dry.  But then you can heal, make new memories and move on.  For us this was part of the process.

My niece came up before we left for Georgia to make cookies and fudge with me.  It had been a lot of years since I had done that.  It was important for us both to have that time together.  Again, a healing process.  I love her with all my heart and I want her to feel she is always welcome here. She was able to take half of everything home with her and the rest was left for Rob to enjoy while we were gone.  "Family is everything." Grandma whispers.  Yes, I am blessed.

This would be the second year Rob wasn't going to be able to go with us to Georgia to see Rachel, Jacob and Phoenix.  It's hard to be home alone for Christmas or any holiday for that matter but he had to work.  I hate being torn between my children, I want to be with them both.  We flew to Georgia and spent a week with the kids.  Such a fast week but a pleasant one.  We got to see the changes in the renovation Rachel is doing on her house.  We spent our evenings in the family room sitting around talking, laughing and sharing.  Homemade hot chocolate.  Good food.  Phoenix with his friend playing Xbox.  Rachel and I watching classes on the laptop on various crafts or sewing projects. Gary reading a book and relaxing.  Jacob explaining how Google Smart Home works.  You leave with a warm heart, happy memories and a few extra pounds.  It was a wonderful visit. I am blessed.

We flew home and spent New Year's Eve with Rob and New Year's Day.  It was another quiet day but one we all enjoyed.  Saying goodbye to 2017 isn't going to be hard.  It was a year that held a lot of fear, pain, confusion and sadness in it as well as joy, laughter and bliss.  Sometimes we have to hop on the roller coaster and ride it out because otherwise we'll miss all the good that came with the bad.  Sometimes the roller coaster just has steeper hills and sharper curves than what we want to tackle but Grandma was right, "Something good could be waiting on the other side."  Yes, Grandma, I am blessed.