Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Many Seasons of Us

I'm sitting in my living room making out my list of things to do today and glancing outside to see the sunshine.  It seems that over night everything has awaken.  My heart soars seeing all the leaves budding on the trees, the green shoots of bulbs breaking ground and the first signs of grass peeking up from beneath the brown layer of death.  Spring has finally arrived.  I think you need the naked starkness of Winter to fully appreciate the bloom of Spring.  I hear so many people say that Spring and Fall are their favorite seasons ... they appreciate them because of the milder weather.  To me Spring means hope, a new beginning.  Every day new leaves appear, bulbs grow into flowers and you can see the birds and bees busy gathering the nectar and pollinating and spreading the beauty, slowly eliminating the devastation of Winter.  I have been playing with photography for a while now and looking at the pictures I took over the winter I've noticed there are no lies.  As in a black and white photo, all the flaws are visible.  The houses that have been neglected, the trees whose limbs have broken due to the heavy ice storms or strong winds, the roofs that need repairing or just replacing.  The roads with huge holes in them from the travel over the years,.  There is no camouflage, no beauty that allows you to look away and be distracted ... it's all there right in front of you, facing you.  Some of it looks tired, used and worn down almost bringing you to tears with it's reality.  Some enjoy Winter, but for me it's the saddest season, the season of death.  Everywhere you look you can't escape it.  Dark and gloomy days or days with the bright sunshine illuminating all she struck down in her path.  Once, where there was a flowerbed full of bright cheerful flowers, there is now a bed of dark, discolored mulch ... a graveyard of memories long ago nurtured and lovingly taken care of.  So we celebrate when life returns.  We open our windows and breathe in the air and the scent of the new.  We smile as we see the first blades of grass, bulbs and bushes appear.  Color has returned.  Soon the trees will be in full bloom, some of them will flower, hiding all the flaws that Winter refused to hide.  

We, too, are made of seasons.  We can only see our Winter season if we strip away the others.  We have to look beyond the outer dressing ... beyond the smiles and makeup ... deep into our souls.  How hard that is for many.  It's a time to face our harshness ...our coldness ... our prejudices ... our truths ... reality.  Do we face our flaws?  Do we embrace them and strive to repair them or do we just camouflage them with our Spring?  Do we try to live on the surface of who we are ... the smiles and beauty ... the window dressings of our soul ... the face we show the world?  Perhaps we also bring Summer out, the side of us that's all fun and sunshine.  The warm side of us.  Wouldn't it be nice to stay in Summer?  Some people get stuck in Fall, where the memories are stored.  They take them out and remember every detail of the past but refuse to move on and enjoy life again.  They just keep gathering all those memories and storing them in fear of facing Winter.  Whether it is in myself or outside my window, I have never enjoyed Winter.  I have never been able to embrace it in the outside world and can only allow myself small peeks of it at a time within myself.  Winter is harsh and cold and true ... so therefore frightening.  So, yes, Spring may be a favorite season for us all ... a new beginning ... beauty ... hope.  I stand by my earlier statement ... You can never truly enjoy Spring if you have not faced the cold, harsh, unforgiving Winter.  Only then can you see and appreciate the full bloom of Spring.   

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.