Friday Night Light … of the photographic kind

Looked out the front window earlier this evening and saw this …

Thunderhead… and that should give you some idea of how far away Lake Michigan is from my house because I’m guessing that cloud formed right out over the lake.

I went out to take the above picture and became distracted by these, which are growing by our front porch.

Rudbeckia

Those  made me so happy that I had to take this …

Rudbeckia

… and this …

Rudbeckia

And then this came running across the yard:

So fast, as a matter of fact, that she’s a bit blurry.

Finally, I wandered around the corner of the house only to find one last little bit of light shining right here …

Hydrangea

The End.

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Stuck

I’m stuck.

Several months ago while I was apparently pretending to be someone else, I resolved to exercise my creative side more this year.   Clearly that other more-motivated me has left the building, because lately I’ve been everything BUT creative.  I’ve been bored, distracted, overwhelmed and disorganized with  little bursts of productivity stuck in there for good measure.

I did manage to work my way through volumes of paperwork, more laundry than you can shake a stick at, and some pesky, weedy flower beds only to find that the rest of the house was falling apart while I wasn’t looking.

Perhaps it was the distraction of the new puppy we adopted in March, her broken leg in June, or my broken foot in July.  Maybe it was the change in schedule when the kids got out of school.  Maybe my husband’s return to work?

Whatever it is, I’ve been off balance for a while now, and I’m searching for that little something that will help me to right myself.

I’ve been trying to shoot some photos over the past few weeks, but I’ve made no progress on the photography class I was taking.

I have two “craft” projects that have been largely ignored for months now — a window treatment for our dining room and a window-seat cushion for the lovely window seat/bookshelves my husband built for our daughter’s room. Completing those seems like a pipe dream.

I have a number of the supplies I need to re-do the kids’/guest bathroom.  It needs a new floor, too, and some paint.  The living room also needs to be painted and the office.

All of the carpets need to be cleaned.

To top it all, I decided back in November it was time to shed these 30 or so pounds I’ve been lugging around for a few years now. I’m a little more than 1/2-way there now. I was 2/3 of the way there, but I slid backwards.  I don’t think it’s any secret that I eat when I’m stressed.

I have no idea which one of these to tackle next.  I’m just stuck.

I think I’ll go do some more laundry. When all else fails, there’s always laundry.

Posted in Family, Learning | 2 Comments

Keep the Change

So, apparently blogging isn’t my forte. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, or even that I don’t want to do it. It’s just at the bottom of my list of important things to do.

We’ve really been pretty boring here. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; we’ve had a pretty tumultuous past 10 years, so we relish boring. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave me much to write about.

At the front of the line are the changes I’m trying to make to my physical state. I think I’m falling into that middle-aged crisis cliche state of mind, which makes me cringe. But I’m finally getting it. The whole diet and exercise thing really does work. Eat sensibly and exercise. Who knew it could be that simple? (Note sarcasm, please.)

I’m not sure what clicked with me recently. Maybe it was the fact that my cholesterol was beginning to creep up along with the circumference of my waistline. I’m not ready to consider myself middle-aged, and I’m not ready to buy the next bigger size of jeans, either. So, this past week I took a big plunge and added Jillian Michaels – 30 Day Shredto my daily “regimen.” I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how quickly things have begun to change. I really like feeling like my muscles are being revived.

Pair the new exercise routine with the help of the new and improved Weight Watchers PointsPlus plan, and I’ve manage to shed about 10 pounds since Thanksgiving. I’m pretty proud of that. I’ve been making feeble attempts for the past couple of years to get rid of this extra weight I’ve gained, but I’d become convinced that I couldn’t do it. A couple of friends finally convinced me to go back to Weight Watchers. That’s when I discovered that everything I hated about Weight Watchers has been replaced by common sense! I was ecstatic!

Weight Watchers now actually encourages people to eat real food! It’s amazing. I wonder if they’ve been reading the same books I’ve been reading.   In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan is the one that got my attention first. Then I discovered How to Cook Everything and Food Matters by Mark Bittman.  Both of them made me realize how dependent our collective diets have become on convenience foods and how simple it is to get back to making those “convenience” foods for ourselves.  Not only can we reduce the number of additives in our diets, but we can reduce the amount of waste that leaves our house on garbage day.  I need to get into Quicken to verify this, but I’m pretty sure I’m spending less on groceries, too, not to mention fewer dollars on restaurant outings.

We still have a long way to go here, but change is a journey not a destination.

Which brings me back to Weight Watchers.  Some of the long-standing Weight Watcher members are finding it difficult to wrap their heads around the changes being thrown their way. They’re so used to buying food loaded with artificial sweeteners and no fat that they can’t believe the new program can actually help them lose weight.  I’ve even heard some of them say they’re still following the old plan “behind their leaders’ backs” because it works for them and they’re afraid to change.  I understand the fear of change; I hope what they’re hearing in the meetings sinks in and they change their minds anyway.

And so change is what I’m focused on right now.  I need to keep the changes I’m making:  eating right and exercising.   The creative outlets will fall into place as time passes, but I think my blogging effort is going to be much more hit and miss than I had anticipated.  So, all 10 of you who are sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for me to post again can be free.  Go out and do something important in the world.  I’ll be back later.  I’ll try to bring pictures.

Posted in Family | 4 Comments

Monday. Already?

Wow … it’s 10 o’clock on Monday night.  This is the first time today I’ve had a chance to sit down and write something, and now I’m completely out of brain power.  It’s Word of the Week day, too.

What’s a blogger to do?

Go to bed.  That’s what this blogger is going to do.

Instead of inventing stress, I’m going to go to bed.  I bet the sun will rise again tomorrow  and perhaps it will bring some inspiration with it.

Good night!

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Word of the Week: Descry

I love words.  I love learning new words, and I especially love learning how they came to be.  In honor of my love of words, I’m going to attempt to be very disciplined and post a Word of the Week.  Since today is Monday, and since I’m holed up here on the couch with some post-holiday illness, here is this week’s word:

descry

\ dih-SKRY \ , transitive verb;
1. To catch sight of, especially something distant or obscure; to discern.
2. To discover by observation; to detect.

Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 03 Jan. 2011. <Dictionary.comhttp://dictionary.reference.com/browse/descry>.

I thought it might be helpful to illustrate the meaning of this word.  So, please indulge me while I tell you a little story.

We have cats.  We did not choose to have cats, nor do these cats actually belong to us. Who knows where the first one came from.  It doesn’t matter.  All that matters is that there was a first one, and clearly, somewhere along the way, there was a second one, too.  Because in the past several years, there has been an explosion of cats.  I’ve counted upwards of eight cats lounging on the deck of the house across the street, which is where these cats originated. I’m guessing that since we are the only house within a 1/2-mile radius without a dog in the yard, our back deck has become a welcome oasis when the cats are out doing what cats do.

It all began a couple of years ago on New Year’s Eve. One of those cats decided to go exploring.  Whether or not that cat was encouraged into our yard by one of the neighboring dogs is inconsequential.  The fact of the matter is that she found her way into our yard and onto our back deck.  That this happened during our annual New Year’s Eve party served her very well.  She showed up when I was at my weakest.  My children spied her, fed her, and now I have about a thousand pictures of kittens in an album in iPhoto …

Luna and her kittens

Luna (mom), Oliver, Adelaide, Callie and Willow

Some wonderful friends ultimately adopted all four kittens.  My children would have loved to keep lovely Luna (the mom), and she was a most wonderful housecat; however, all members of a household must want a cat in order for the household to remain at peace.  Therefore, lovely Luna had to find a new home.  Long story shortened:  I found a wonderful cat rescuer who took her in, fell in love with her and is now keeping her as a permanent resident.  Luna is living a luxurious life, and I guess she knew what she was doing when she showed up on our back deck that New Year’s Eve.

Back to the Word of the Week.

We have more cats.  Apparently, Luna has been corresponding with the cats across the street, because a number of them (six at last count) have been regularly visiting our back deck.  My children, thinking we’ve started a new tradition, set up a cozy little box for them.

What does this have to do with the word “descry?”  Well, the Cats on the Deck have made it their personal mission to always know where I am in the house.  But if I’m sneaky, I can catch a glimpse of them without them noticing.  You might even say that if I cleverly peer through the rail of the deck, I might descry the cats without being detected!

Then again, if the floor should happen to creak, or if I should accidentally knock into the window while trying to adjust the tripod …

… this happens.

Through the glare of the window, and the murky depths of the kitchen, I have been descried.

Then again, perhaps it wasn’t me they were looking for.  It could be that as they press their little noses up to the window, they detect movement in the shadows.  Perhaps it is this they descry …

… a tasty morsel, should they have their way.  Another reason why lovely Luna had to move on.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Word of the Week.  Check back next Monday to see if I’ve managed to stick to my plan.  In the meantime, here’s a little extra cuteness to hold you over:

Sunny & Kat

Posted in Learning, Word of the Week | 8 Comments

New Year’s Resolution

My Dear Husband is the photographer in our family. He’s rarely in photos unless he sets up the camera and then passes it off to me so that I can push the button. Candid shots of him are rare. Occasionally I’ll grab the camera when it seems like something noteworthy is about to happen. Every now and then I get lucky and catch him in action, like this:

Ouch

Identity has been concealed to protect the fallen

This was a most unexpected success, and really, it was only a success to one of us. Dear Husband came up feeling not quite so successful, but at least now he can look back and see where he went wrong.

You’re probably wondering what this has to do with my New Year’s Resolution. Well, I’ll tell you. I’ve resolved to make a more focused effort to hone my creative talents. I love to create, but I’ve never gotten very good at any one thing because I tend to be a dabbler.

For a really long time now I’ve wanted to be able to take photographs that really capture the moment and show what I’m seeing and feeling. You can imagine, then, how excited I was to discover that our library offers free online courses. These are real courses with real instructors and a real grade. I find this very motivating because I like to get feedback on what I’m doing; otherwise, what’s the point?

I just finished reading through the first lesson, and my assignment is to take a couple of pictures using The Rule of Thirds. Well, it just so happens I was goofing around with the camera earlier this evening, and lo and behold, I used the Rule of Thirds without even realizing it. I must be a natural.

Stop laughing.

It’s a good picture, and I’ll show you why. Here it is:

Nativity

Baby Jesus loves Christmas lights

Do you see that?! Baby Jesus is very happy about those Christmas lights! Look at how excited he is! Please also note that I cleverly positioned him on the right third of the frame. He’s in the middle third of the picture, too, and the pretty lights are in the left third. I would feel even more clever had I actually intended to do that.

I guess I can still say that I learned the point of the lesson because I can now look at my pictures and notice why some work and some don’t.

And that’s what I learned today. Happy New Year!

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After-Christmas Reflection and Ramping up for the New Year

Christmas is over.  The spoils of the holiday are littered around the family room and kitchen waiting to find their new homes.

The artifacts in the kitchen really need to find a new home in someone else’s belly. Hopefully, that of my skinny teenage son.  Of course, he’ll have to remember to eat them.

Conjure up the image of the Absent-Minded Professor, and you will have an accurate picture of my son.  He’s a different sort of kid, but we all love him anyway.  I’m not quite sure where we’d be without him.  He’s our Geek Squad, and many things here would still be broken if he hadn’t fixed them.  Of course, many things here wouldn’t be broken if he hadn’t fixed them.  He’s a mixed blessing and — like I said — we all love him anyway.

Dear Daughter, the second child, is much easier to figure.  She and I are much alike, and while we can be very focused and productive at times, there’s nothing better than stealing time to nurture our creative sides.  She’s an artist and a writer and an all-around good-natured friend to many.  She laughs easily and easily makes the rest of us laugh.  She reads and draws, and she writes lists that are later forgotten.  I have no idea where she gets that.

Loving Husband brings order and discipline to our home, but I love him anyway.  He keeps us on track, and despite my heels dragging across the floor, he keeps things moving forward.  Occasionally, I need to make sure he doesn’t take a straight line to our destination, because side trips are often more fun than the direct route.  He likes to have fun, too; his sort of fun involves numbers and neat rows of things and driving sort of fast on his motorcycle or camping with bears.  He does have a dirty little secret, though.  It’s those stacks of boxes in the storage room.  The man can’t throw away packaging for anything.  This strange obsession has come in handy on occasion, so we don’t really bother him about it.  Much.  He also enjoys a good twist-tie. You never know when they’ll come in handy.

Me?  I’m The Mom. I’m the one you call to when you suddenly realize that your underwear drawer is mysteriously devoid of undies.  If I were the sort of mom that did things in a predictable, orderly fashion, this would never happen.  But I like to mix things up a bit.  It keeps the level of excitement around here just right.

As I was saying, though, Christmas is over.  It was a joyous, snowy time, and while I really love the holiday, it’s also nice to have it behind us.  We have one more week with the children home from school.  That means one more week of people getting enough sleep and no arguments over homework.  It also means we need to get busy because we are the perennial hosts of the Neighborhood New Year’s Eve party, and in just five short days we will be hosting the cast of characters that make up our neighborhood.  I’m really looking forward to it, but I also turn into a perfectionist when it comes to having people in my house.  So, please excuse me.  The Mad Frenzy is about to begin!

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