Category Archives: Discoveries

A Child’s Viewpoint

I recently had the pleasure of watching my grandchildren for a day.  Time with a 2-1/2 year old, 6 year old and 11 year old always brings a few laughs and simple pleasures.

The simple days, when at six years of age it is a tragedy when your younger sister won’t share her goldfish crackers.  Really?  She only has a couple dozen out of an entire bag, not like there aren’t more to put into a separate bowl for him.   The world is once again at peace, all thanks to a few crackers shaped like fish.

Why is it at 2-1/2 years of age you are capable of stripping all clothing off a doll more than a dozen times a day, but can never get them back on.  Of course once the doll is naked it must be dressed, but Grandma must do that.  The doll is dressed, life is good, until thirty minutes later when that doll is once again, for some unknown reason, naked.  And the hours pass by….

Planning for my future residence, Corbin (age 6) “It would be neat if you had a really big house with a space ship on top.”

Why, I ask, would I want a house with a space ship on the top of it.  The answer, according to Corbin, is simple.  “Because it would be cool!”

Okay, so there you go.  My retirement home floor plans are being laid out now.

When you don’t know how to respond to certain announcements, such as Austin (age 11), “Gunther is dead.”

Austin has autism, so comprehension is sometimes difficult, and he had just been dropped off after spending the weekend at his dad’s house, so with the same seriousness in which he expressed this loss I asked “who is Gunther?”

I received a very straight-faced, serious answer, “He is a Zombie.”

Sorry, I had nothing after that.  I guess the death of a zombie, or the creation of a zombie due to death, has a greater impact on some than it does on me.

Prior to the kids coming over and knowing I would have just Corbin and Alexandria for lunch I checked with my daughter to see what the best food choices would be and planned accordingly.    I had purchased the family size Velveeta Shells and Cheese, and let’s face it, as a general rule Mac & Cheese is a kid favorite.  Apparently sometimes this is not the case.

As he sits down to eat Corbin looks at the food and says “I don’t like macaroni and cheese.”

I responded that yes he does, his mother told me he eats it all the time.

Corbin — “Not today, I’m six and sometimes we don’t like things.”

Imagine that!  I thought six year olds were always logical and cooperative.  Guess I got that wrong.

Blowing bubbles, that wonderful outside activity that all children love to do.  The problem is Alexandria (2-1/2) simply doesn’t understand that it would be preferable if I moved the wand away from my body before she attempted to blow the bubbles right back at me.  Of course that is a toss-up with the other option of letting her hold the wand herself and trying to convince her that if she didn’t put her mouth on the wand to blow, she wouldn’t get the icky tasting soap on her tongue.  The results aren’t in on whether more bubble soap made it into the air as bubbles or if more ended up on our bodies due to Alex’s still to be perfected bubble-blowing technique.

Then there is the issue of cleanliness.  When I informed Corbin that he is supposed to flush and wash his hands after using the bathroom he said “you know, I washed my hands yesterday.”

Good to know, can we do it today as well please.  Of course this goes along with the request he wash his hands and him turning them back and forth saying “they aren’t dirty.”

Girls in that regard are so much easier.  I can say “Alex your face is dirty, let’s wash it.” and she comes and stands beside me waiting to get cleaned up.

A day with children is always entertaining, enlightening, and just plain fun.  Blocks, cars, trains, slides, bubbles, a messed up floor filled with toys.  Cracker crumbs, candy, spilled water, and more.  As the day wears on electronic pads filled with games are great for keeping children from killing each other off and/or driving an adult insane.

 

 

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Filed under Activities, children, Coping, Discoveries, exploration, Family, grandchildren, home, kids, Life is a Melting Pot, play, summer, time

It is Me

It is always interesting when you read things that are supposed to be a part of your personality and discover they are accurate.  Astrological signs, the zodiac, those predictions that say because you were born in this month on this date, this is your personality.   I am a Libra.  It is Me.

Libra I BalanceWith today’s internet if you search out something on any sight it will suddenly start popping up in massive quantities.   That was the case with traits of my sign, Libra.  What surprised me was how many of those quotes accurately reflect my personality.

“Libras can take forever to make a decision.”  Anyone who has known me for long will attest that this is true.  Why?  Because the Libra sign is the scales, we like things to be in balance so we must carefully weigh all the odds, then review them, then think about it, then ponder over whether or not we are making a good decision that will keep everything in balance.    Now you may think everyone does that when making a major decision, and I agree with you on that.  But with us Libras it can be a minor decision or a major decision.  Each receives equal consideration, so don’t ask me to make a snap decision between plums or peaches, I need a minute to ponder the positives and negatives of each option.

“Libra knows and feels way more than they express, let things go way more than they should; feel deeply, love hard and aren’t shy about taking the hard road.”
This is so true.  Again, we don’t want to rock the scales so we may be thinking and acting one way, but feeling totally the opposite because we don’t want to cause a disruption.  It is better, or easier, to go along with what someone else wants and keep everything peaceful and flowing than to object and cause a dispute.   Keep in mind this can be the process with both negative and positive things.  I may be feeling something positive, but what if others don’t agree with that, better to keep it to myself and not risk an upset.

There are several thoughts about the Libra personality that play into each other, and as you read through these you may see a flow.Libra over thinker

“A Libra will act as if everything is okay even when things are falling apart.”

“Libras are good at ‘saving face’ meaning they can have more turmoil going on in their lives than you can imagine but guess what?  They won’t let you see them sweat.”

“A Libra bounces back and recovers no matter how heavy the weight you place upon them.”

Those three quotes easily relate to each other, and anyone that has known me for very long knows that I fit that personality.  I have lived for years with constant turmoil of some kind or another.  The majority of people I encounter have no idea what has gone on ‘behind the scenes’ in my life.   When in conversation I have mentioned a small portion of what I have encountered people sometimes wonder how I am able to function.  What the heck am I supposed to do, give up on life?  No, I do what the Libra personality says I do, I act as if everything is okay when inside I’m falling apart.  I don’t let anyone see me sweat, I keep a smile on my face and purge forward.  Because I am determined to maintain a positive attitude I always bounce back.

When a Libra is finally tired of the bullshit they won’t look back and you will be history.”  We Libras may prefer to keep everything in balance, but be aware, we are not pushovers.  We do not like things or people that are unfair, rude, or disrespectful.  We will put up with a lot, we will forgive and forgive and forgive, but eventually enough it enough.  When we have been pushed to our limit we will walk away and never look back.  What happens if circumstances cause us to look back?  We will always be wary.

Libras are also a good judge of character.  “If a Libra appears to be shy or standoffish they’re likely observing your behavior before opening up.”  I like people, but I don’t have a lot of close friends.  We Libras are choosy about who we get close to.  We enjoy being wild and crazy, wacky and weird, but we don’t want people who are going to tip those scales out of balance.  There are a lot of people that simply don’t fit what we consider the ideal friend, and so they remain at a distance; close friends are few and we like it that way.

Libra Leisure and HobbyLeisure & Hobbies are important to us Libra.  We have a wide range of interests and taking time to enjoy the fun things in life is important to our well being.  While we are the scales and like things in balance, we also like to debate issues and I for one certainly go for the win.  However winning or loosing is not the ultimate goal, because knowledge is gained through debate so a good discussion is always good for the brain.  If you always associate with people who think just like you there is no challenge, no gain in knowledge, it is just an ongoing, never changing, boring existence.

Travel is always enjoyable.  Exploring places you have never been or sometimes revisiting places you love and enjoy.  For years Niagara Falls was my favorite city.  That isn’t to say I don’t still enjoy it, it just isn’t the same as it was 35 years ago.  I love visiting historic homes, walking in gardens, visiting areas that are cultural and stopping at scenic outlooks.  No matter where you are there is always something you can enjoy, and with me, something I can photograph.

Over the years I have dabbled in various hobbies and crafts, with my most prevalent being photography.  A hobby that goes with that is being a scrapbooker.  I have also done counted cross-stitch, embroidery, latch hook, and miscellaneous other crafts, plus I love to write.  I enjoy  playing video/computer games.  I do this to compartmentalize my brain.  At work when I take a lunch break playing a computer game while I eat helps my brain to re-energize for the rest of the day.  It gives it a break.  Besides, games are fun!

“Music is often the center of a Libra’s existence.”  I listen to music less now than I did when younger, and I think it may have to do with the environment in which I work or the fact that I now reside alone.  I have learned to enjoy quiet.  When driving alone music in the car is a must – I  “dance” as I drive, singing, enjoying every minute of it.  When cleaning or doing other manual labor around the house if I take the time to turn on the radio I am happier and tend to work faster.  I also take breaks to dance to my favorite songs.  Music just fits every mood, it is energizing and relaxing, whatever you want it to be.

This is just a slight glimpse into the many things that make up the Libra personality.  The more I read the more I know.  This is Me.  I am a true Libra, whether overthinking and weighing the odds of an inconsequential decision far too long, juggling turmoil, sizing up someone before letting them into my inner circle, shooting pictures, playing computer games or dancing in my kitchen, I am a Libra.  This is Me.

 

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Filed under assumptions, decisions, Discoveries, hobbies, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, reality

LIFE IS FUN

          Life is fun — the things you take in stride, the things that flip you out.  Sometimes neither make sense which is what keeps life hopping with laughs — the weird idiosyncrasies of each an every personality that make it unique.
         I am like most females, I like cute little things like kittens and bunny rabbits.  I have learned to tolerate spiders on my front porch, but anywhere else I want them demolished.  I don’t freak out over most rodents, but I am reasonably cautious and don’t want them invading territory they shouldn’t.
          That leads me to my Sunday encounters.  I went outside to mow the lawn.  I was putting gas in the rider, which is backed up to my house.  Suddenly there is this flash of movement from the area behind the mower.  Something jumps out and naturally I jump with it.
Life is Fun
          Now you have to admit, when you are not expecting it those cotton-tailed bunny rabbits can be pretty ferocious looking when they are scampering out from a hidden spot and making a mad-dash across your lawn.  Once I realized what it was I decided it was safe to proceed with my plan of mowing the lawn.  I am here to tell about it, no further attacks.
          I was riding the mower along a fence line where the ground angles, so you have to stay close and battle any tree or bush limbs hanging over.  As I am traversing the path I apparently disturbed a black hornet or wasp (I can’t tell the difference) and he was flying around and at me.  I do not like those creatures, they are not nice!  To keep him away I automatically swatted at him, which I had to do twice before he finally left.  Then the mind does weird things…what if he goes to get his friends and gangs up on me?  What can I say, I grew up when all the “killer bee” movies were out.  Luckily I didn’t have to relive any movies, he stayed away.
          So I turn the corner in the front yard and bump!  I drive through a weird depression or hole that hasn’t been there before.  I have no idea what it was, and I did not get off to inspect, but of course I wondered…was it from a snake, a gofer, a mole?  Who knows.  I’m not going to ponder the possibility.  Hmmmm, could that be the reason I decided not to rake this week?
          So now that I’ve been blasted by bunnies, hassled by hornets and bungled by bumps the rest of the week should be a breeze.  What other creatures could possibly invade my personal space?  A spider.
           I was driving my car down the road and get a glimpse of something.  It was a very tiny, microscopic spider strolling along the inside of my windshield.   Now I must say that compared to the ones that typically live on my front porch, this one was so tiny it almost isn’t worth mentioning.  However I feel the need to point out that not only did I not flip out, but I just shrugged my shoulders and went “oh well” and let him enjoy his stroll.  Attempting to kill a spider when driving down the road is probably not recommended.  As I am writing this I do have one thought though.  I let him remain inside my car….what if he grows?  That is a thought I do not want.  Hopefully it gets hot and he dies of heat exhaustion before that happens.
     So as you are going through your day and encountering the various creatures of the wild, laugh at your own goofy, stupid, exuberant reactions to things and let the good times roll.

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Filed under backyard, bugs, Coping, Discoveries, environmental, exploration, habit, insects, Life is a Melting Pot, nature, spiders, summer

Decompress a Boggled Brain

Let’s face it, some of us have this issue more than others.  It could be related to your lifestyle, age, career, family life, or just an occasional bumble in your normal schedule.  Sometimes it is a combination of all those things and is just plain hard to shake.

Maybe you’re like me and have a “to-do” list that seems like Mt. Everest x 3 and you feel like you’ll never get through it all.  When things seem overwhelming it can be hard to get motivated.   Sometimes you accomplish things but no one can tell.  If you spend 10 hours on paperwork, who is going to know except you?   That lack of visual accomplishment can make one feel as if they have nothing to show for their effort.

How do you prevent feeling overwhelmed?  When you want to throw up your hands and turn into a sluggish couch potato, how do you reverse the process?   You have to decompress your boggled brain.  Give it a break from life’s obligations.  Have some fun.

The time you spend decompressing the brain can be anything from a few minutes to a few days.  What I have found is that by taking a break I re-energize and am able to accomplish more than I would if I stayed on the straight-and-narrow work path.    It is easy to think “I shouldn’t be doing this” or “I should be doing this” because of that massive to-do list.   The trick is in the timing.Decompress - everyone needs time

I work full time as a paralegal.  I spend the majority of my workday at the computer writing pleadings, handling correspondence, and listening to people’s problems on the phone.  Very rarely is my to-do pile shorter than about 18″ in height, quite often it is more than that.  I do not leave the office at lunch; it is a one-person office and while eating I take calls or handle people as they walk in the door.  I decompress at lunch by skimming through Facebook and quite often spend time playing a game such as Candy Crush or Tetris Battles while eating.   Playing those games releases the brain from thinking.  Although the mind is active, it is relaxing.   I have found it to be a great way to re-power for the afternoon.

I am a photographer, and for the past three years I haven’t done much in the way of shooting pictures.  That is for a combination of reasons including working on cleaning out my parent’s home after they passed, a bad ankle that I finally had surgery on this past fall, and my own husband fighting cancer, a battle he lost 20 months ago.  I wasn’t going out and shooting because not only was it was physically painful to walk, but I also felt I have so much to do here at home that I should be here working, not out having fun.

So what did I realize?  I had lost my motivation.  I was here and getting things done, but not to the degree that I used to several years ago.   I lacked motivation and my productivity was down, which compounded my feeling of being overwhelmed.  I decided it was time to get out and participate in a few more things this year, attend more festivities and do more photo shooting.

Fun - give yourself permissionI will admit it was hard.  However forcing myself to get out and do things has been beneficial.  I am more physically active, which increases metabolism and energy.  I discovered I am happier by being once again out and about partaking in different activities.  The result is that I am more productive than I was when spending the entire weekend at home.  Why?  Because I have decompressed my brain so I am more relaxed, my energy level has increased, and therefore I am more productive.

When you are feeling sluggish, overwhelmed, ready to throw in the towel and call it quits take some time to decompress the brain.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Filed under Activities, career, communication, Coping, death, decisions, Discoveries, environmental, events, habit, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, lunch, Meals, mind, time, Weather, work

Childhood Cravings

I was grocery shopping recently and had a craving for a childhood snack — graham crackers with frosting on them.  I purchased the box of crackers and grabbed what I thought was standard chocolate frosting.  Imagine my delight when I popped open that little container and discovered chocolate mint — double yum!

That got me to thinking about some of the simple things from my childhood that kids today don’t have the opportunity to experience.   Back when I was a child life was more simple.  Summer was spent playing outside.  There weren’t any arranged play-dates set up by parents, we weren’t in day care centers, and our parents did not have us participating in scheduled activities.  childhood - chinese jump rope

We got up in the morning and walked or rode our bike to a friend’s house, rang the doorbell and asked if they could come out and play.  When was the last time a child did that?  Today’s children probably wouldn’t know how.   We didn’t have video games, cell phones, ipads, or any of the other technology that kids today rely on.  So what did we do with our time?  We had fun!

A field behind the house could be trampled down into “rooms” in which we could roll out our baby carriages and play house.  We would lay on our backs and look at the clouds, making determinations on what they looked like.  We played Ring-Around-The-Rosie, Duck-Duck-Goose, Mother May I, Red Rover Red Rover, Tag, Kick-the-Can, and hide-and-go-seek.

We only had three TV channels, and cartoons were a Saturday morning specialty.  Every kid sat in front of the TV watching their favorites.  Between Saturdays we had our comic books to read.   My girlfriend and I would put our comic books into the saddle baskets of our bikes, then read our comic books as we rode our bikes down the street no-handed….and we weren’t even wearing helmets!

childhood - jacksWe would sit on the porch playing jacks.  At one time I was able to handle pick-ups of 20 jacks at a time.  We played a lot.  Do kids play jacks anymore?  Are they even available to purchase?  Ours were tiny metal jacks with a small red ball.    What about hula hoops and pogo sticks?  With a swing of the hips your hula hoop could be forced up to the neck or down to the knees and back to the waste.  Regular jump rope, Chinese jump rope, and hop scotch kept us busy.

I lived in a small town.  We would ride our bikes downtown and go to the library and the dime store.  I did a lot of reading.  Nancy Drew was my favorite, and so was Alfred Hitchcock and Agatha Christie as I got older.   We bought pop in glass bottles out of a vending machine.  Everyone chewed Bazooka bubble gum, and we all loved the little tiny comics that came inside.  Gum wrappers were used to make chains…what we did with those chains I don’t remember.

We looked for 4-leaf clovers.  Flower petals were pulled off one-by-one saying “he loves me, he loves me not.”  Dandelions were held under the chin to see if your chin shone yellow, but I don’t remember why.  If we found a dandelion gone to seed, a “wisher,” we were thrilled….but our father wasn’t if he saw us blowing those seeds out into the lawn.

childhood - pogo stickBack then most people did not have air conditioning.  Windows were open, fans were used.  One strong childhood summer memory does not involve me but my father.  He would mow the lawn and then afterward watch the ball game on TV.  One of my favorite scents and sounds of summer is the combination of fresh mowed grass and a baseball ball game on the TV or radio.

What are some of your childhood memories?  No matter how old or young you are, if you are an adult I am sure things have changed since your childhood.   Do you have childhood cravings?  Do you wish your children and/or grandchildren could experience life as it once was, not as it is now?

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Filed under Activities, backyard, children, Discoveries, environmental, exploration, Family, flowers, freindship, friends, friendship, home, kids, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, play, reality, summer, time

Do I Like Living Alone?

I recently had a friend in a long-standing marriage comment that they wouldn’t mind living alone.  I was surprised.  Their comment had to do with everyone needing space, time alone.  Residing on your own provides that.

When my husband passed away in December 2015 I was thrown into living on my own for the first time in my life.  I went from living with my parents to living with my husband, and we were married 34 years.   I don’t mind living alone.  There are benefits.   My friend’s comment got me thinking, do I like living alone or have I adjusted out of necessity?

When you are married or involved in a co-habitation relationship patterns develop as to who does what.  One person pays the bills, another handles correspondence.  One mows the lawn and snow blows, the other cleans the bathrooms and vacuums.  Cooking involves making foods that both people like and predominately follows the preference of the person cooking.  Decorating incorporates the likes and dislikes of both people.  Each person tolerates things they don’t particularly care for out of consideration for the other.  It is a cooperative living arrangement that also provides companionship and support.   Living Alone

When residing on your own there isn’t anyone there to help carry the load.  You must figure out how to juggle it all on your own.  When like me it is suddenly dropped in your lap it has a definite learning curve.  Sometimes things don’t get done in the time frame you would like.   The benefit is that there is no one is there to interfere with what you want or the schedule you keep.

I can eat dinner when I want, whether it is 6:30 pm, 9:30 pm, or anywhere between.  I can cook what I want the way I want.  I only have to consider my own palate and my own schedule.   If I don’t want the TV on, it isn’t.  If I want the radio blasting at 2:00 am while I clean house, it is.  There is no noise, no one talking as I read my book with my meals.   Pictures on the walls, knickknacks set out, and the arrangement of furniture can all be changed to the way I prefer.   This is a slow, gradual process.  The house is slowly becoming more “me.”  I have made subtle changes that most people probably wouldn’t even notice.   I’m sure they will become more prominent over time.

So that brings me back to my friend’s comment.  Do I like living alone?  Yes and no.  I think living alone has been a good experience for me.  I have learned to do things I  never did in the past.  The basics of life always handled by my husband such as taking a car in for maintenance, handling the banking, trading in my vehicle for a new one, applying for a mortgage modification, meeting with a financial advisor, paying bills, gathering information for yearly taxes, mowing and trimming the lawn, etc. now must be worked into my schedule.

My husband, Ron, handled a lot.  I’ve never even painted a wall or put windshield washer fluid into a vehicle.  He handled it all.  Ironically Ron taught our son and daughter to do house maintenance, yard maintenance, how to use the generator, power washer, electric drills, shop tools, and how to hook up the trailer and pull it.  He just never taught me.  Those were things he took care of and there was no need for me to know how.  Ron took care of me.  That is what he felt his position was and I accepted it for thirty-four years.  Good or bad it is what it is.  Now I move forward.

I think living on my own and learning new things has boosted my self-confidence.  I have to handle things and if I don’t know how I make inquiries to find someone that does.   I have dealt with a plumber, a heating and cooling person, camera repair, computer support, and resolved issues with a hot tub repair. I have ventured into the unknown and survived.

I also think living on my own has been good from an emotional standpoint.  Ron and I were very wrapped up in each other’s lives.  We were happiest when it was just the two of us and we spent probably 90 to 95% of our free time together throughout our entire marriage.  We attended festivals, events, shopped, did photography, traveled, ate meals, watched TV, and so on together.  We had a few things we each did on our own, but the majority was together.

Living Alone 2The reality is most couples are not as completely consumed in each others lives as we were.  They spend more time doing things on their own and socializing with others.  Living alone has allowed me to adjust to doing things on my own.  I am still learning how to involve others in my plans so I am not always a solo act.

I think this adjustment period is important.   If at some time in the future I become involved in a relationship in which the decision is made to reside together I will be better prepared for the reality that most couples do not spend the majority of their free time wrapped up in each other’s life.  It will most likely not be such an all encompassing relationship as I had in my marriage.  I will also know that I am making that decision because it is a person I want to spend time with, not because I am lonely and/or trying to recreate what I had in my past.

So now we are back to where we started.  Do I like living alone?  Yes and no.  It has been and will continue to be a growing experience.  I have adjusted.  I am comfortable and would consider myself happy on a day-to-day basis.  I don’t desire it in the long term.  I hope that in my future I find someone who is interested in residing together and enjoying the benefits of daily companionship.   In the meantime I will make the most of living alone and enjoy it.

 

 

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Filed under assumptions, communication, Coping, decisions, Discoveries, exploration, Family, freindship, friends, friendship, habit, home, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, mind, reality, time, Uncategorized

Matthaei Botanical Gardens

This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit Matthaei Botanical Gardens in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  If like me you enjoy taking photographs of flowers and/or nature, this is a wonderful place to visit.

Matthaei has several options to fit everyone’s needs or desires.  There are several trails that are open sunrise to sunset seven days a week, plus the conservatory, garden store, lobby and display gardens are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm.  Admission is free; they do have a donation box inside the conservatory, and there is a reasonable parking fee of only $1.50 per hour or a maximum of $5.00 per day.  With the size of the venue I opted to pay the daily rate immediately._DSC6631

I arrived at 8:30 am.  It was quiet, with only a few people quietly walking out onto some of the trails.  I grabbed my camera and tripod and decided to walk the Sue Reichert Discovery Trail, which circles Willow Pond.   This trail is only 4/10 of a mile, which they estimate to be a ten minute walk.  I meandered slowly, taking pictures and stretched it into almost an hour, taking time to sit down a couple times on benches that were available.

The difference in time is whether you walk like the average person or walk like a nature photographer, skimming the area for possible subjects to photograph.  Doing so can make a fast walk take quite a while and is why I prefer to partake in such places either alone or with other photographers who understand the time frame needed to fully enjoy the area.

I decided to do the outside gardens first, and in looking over the map not only did I not go up into the Children’s Garden, but I also missed the Perenial Garden, Grower’s Garden, MiSo House and Bonsai and Penjing Garden.  I started in the Gateway Garden, a relaxing spot with benches, rocking chairs and fountains.  I took photographs of flowers there, in the Marie Azary Bock Garden and in the Sitting Gardens before meandering down the Commons, which are bordered by two other gardens on the east and bench seating on the west.

The commons leads you into the Alexandra Hicks Herb Knot Garden.  Here you will find chipmunks scampering back and forth amongst the plants and sometimes climbing up on them as well, but trying to capture them in a photo is difficult.  They are quick little guys!  Once I completed my photo rounds of the herb garden I strolled between that and the perennial garden and went through a vine/plant covered tunnel which led to the opening of the children’s garden.  I had the option of going up into the children’s garden or taking a nature trail around the children’s garden.  What I opted to do was take a short trail not shown on the map into the Oak Openings Garden.

There was nothing to attract my photographer’s eye in the Oak Openings Garden with the exception of wild strawberry plants that had begun bearing fruit.  It was the bright red of the fruit that grabbed my eye as I looked down to scan the ground for photo subjects.  I followed the trail through the Upland Woodland Garden and across into the Wet Woodland Garden.  Unfortunately the hot weather we had been having left nothing  wet, it was, on that day, better termed a dry woodland.  Nothing caught my eye for photographs, so I proceeded into the Great Lakes Garden, which led me into one end of the Prairie Gardens, then the Coastal Gardens and back up where I started in the Gateway Garden.   Unfortunately a group was there partaking in the rocking chairs or I would have grabbed one for a nice relaxing break.

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By now I had been wandering for a few hours and decided to take a snack break before visiting the Conservatory.  One thing to keep in mind, the conservatory does not sell meals, only a limited selection of snack food, candy and beverages.  If you plan to be at Matthaei Botanical Gardens for several hours you may want to consider packing a cooler with beverages and lunch or snack food.   I had not planned that far in advance, so I purchased a small trail mix and flavored water.  There are one or two small tables where you can sit inside to consume your snack, and there are also tables available outside on the deck.  Food and beverages are not allowed inside the conservatory.

The Conservatory has three main areas, the Tropical House, the Temperate House and the Desert House.  Here you will find many plants and blooms to view and/or photograph.  On this day there was a water Lilly in full bloom, Cocoa trees, pineapples growing, sausage trees with their “fruit” hanging in abundance, and numerous other flowers and plants.  The Desert House has the majority of their cactus growing in raised display beds, making it easy to enjoy and photograph the wide variety.  I’m sure this was also done to preserve the fingers of little ones who may be touring with their parents.  Some of those cactus spines are pretty long and wicked looking!

I spent about five hours touring the trail, gardens and conservatory, and I didn’t see it all.  Keep in mind I was walking slow, took several rest breaks on the numerous benches that are available throughout the property, and was taking photographs.  The average person might tour it at a much faster pace.

I would like to go back and walk some of the trails I chose to skip, plus with anything growing outside the gardens and trails are a constantly changing canvas with growing seasons and weather.  If going they do recommend appropriate footwear for walking the natural areas and that you stay on paths due to poisonous plants such as poison sumac and poison ivy growing in natural areas.  The Massauga rattlesnake also inhabits the area.  I did not encounter any slithering reptiles, but did enjoy the “music” of unseen frogs as I walked around the pond.

If you are in the Ann Arbor area I highly recommend a visit to University of Michigan’s Mattaei Botanical Gardens.

 

 

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Filed under Activities, birds, Botanical Gardens, bugs, Discoveries, education, environmental, exploration, flowers, insects, Life is a Melting Pot, Michigan, nature, nature center, Photography, spring, summer, tourism, travel, vacation

I May Be Sinking

I had such big plans, a long list of things to accomplish around the house and in the yard.  Things to organize, things to sell, things to clean.  I had deadlines that have passed.   I do have things crossed off, but the list is long and never ending.

Now I look at my list, at my yard, my house, stacks of paperwork to do, cupboards, drawers, closets and rooms to clean out and organize, things to sell or donate, and find myself frustrated at what I have not yet accomplished.   I want it over and done, neat and organized, manageable without me feeling overwhelmed.    I feel like I’m sinking in a mucky hole and I can’t make the climb back out.  overwhelmes

Now don’t get me wrong, small accomplishments give me great pleasure.  Unfortunately I frequently get a project partially done then get swung in another direction and don’t quite complete the task, so it is there dangling like a carrot in front of a horse, and I can’t quite reach it.    Part of the problem is I am feeling overstretched with what I need to accomplish, but what do I give up?  What do I let slide?  What am I overlooking or letting slide that I shouldn’t?  What if I’m doing it wrong?

The idea of letting things slide and not get completed does not formulate well in my brain.  I want balance, harmony, peace.   My life is out of sink.  I need downtime to relax and rejuvenate, but don’t feel like I should do that when I have other things to get done.  I need to get things organized in my life to bring it balance.   At the same time on those occasions when I “screw off” and get away from the house, even for a few hours, I feel Priorities - schedule themrejuvenated again.   It is a battle of the brain, which way to go.

Then I wonder, how did  I do things before?  Why is it a few years ago I could find time to scrapbook, write, read, attend festivals and events, go out for the day shooting photos, go places, do things.   Why am I not fitting those things into my life on a regular, weekly basis now like I did then?   Is my failure to go out and do those things causing me to falter in the other areas?   But if I spend time out doing things, then I’ll never get things done here.

Self-analysis can be enlightening and frustrating, it can help one reach a resolution to an issue or it can make one feel they will never accomplish their goals.   In my case, I’m still sinking in that muck.  If I want to get out I have to figure out how to balance my life.  I have to push myself harder to get things done.  I have to make a point of doing things I enjoy such as going to places where I can take pictures, attending events, or something so simple as sitting on my front porch and reading a book for an hour.  I haven’t even visited my favorite spots in probably close to a year.  I used to visit them all the time.  Balance - harmony and life

I have to get the balance back into my life.    Balance brings harmony.  Harmony brings the sun and dries up the muck.   Hopefully it is soon!

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Filed under Cleaning, communication, Coping, decisions, Discoveries, environmental, exploration, habit, home, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, mind, reality

Friend Frustration

It is a difficult dilemma, deciding how you want to handle a friendship that has times that are good and times that are frustrating.  This was a difficult situation, one which I contemplated over for literally months.  I hope the end result has a positive outcome.  The ultimate deciding factor was based on two areas that came into play….the friend’s emotional needs and my emotional needs.

This friendship is long-term.  We were very close for eight years, then completely out of contact for twenty-nine years.  In 2009 we connected on Facebook, doing the occasional Instant-Messenger chat, commenting on each other’s posts from time-to-time.  Nothing major.  Just casual contact.   That all changed in 2015.

In 2015 I was making regular trips back to my hometown to work on cleaning out my parent’s home.  My friend suggested we go out to dinner, and after about three months I finally agreed.  It was like deja vu.  Friends - someone is special when you eventually get together again and its like you didn't miss a beat

He picked me up at my parent’s home, which had the same furniture it did when he last set foot in it back in 1980.  We had a great time chatting about his marriage and kids, my husband’s battle with cancer and my kids.  We talked about our siblings and parents.  A connection that went way back.  It was a wonderful evening and after dinner we went back to the house, I invited him in and we continued to talk for a couple more hours before he went home.

It was a connection we were glad was re-established.  Throughout that summer I was making frequent trips into town hand he would on occasion stop by and visit for a couple hours.  It was a nice friendship, familiar, comfortable, but different.  We also maintained contact with conversations on Instant Messenger and an occasional telephone call.

We both realized that there was still an attraction there.  However we were both married and did not step outside of the boundaries of respective marriages.  Then the playing field changed.  My husband lost his battle with cancer.  We maintained the messenger and telephone contact for about three months, and then it tapered off.  He stopped responding to emails or instant messages for extended periods of time.

Friends - someone who speaks to you on their free time v someone who frees time to speak to youI found this frustrating as he suffers from depression and I would wonder how he was doing.  Then suddenly I would receive an email or message.  There were always reasons for his disappearance…busy, kids, grandchildren, sickness, depression…but were they reasons, or excuses?   In my opinion there is a fine line between the two, and I wasn’t quite sure on which side it fell.  Things would improve for a bit but eventually would fall back into the old pattern.

After a while I decided I wasn’t going to continue to pursue a one-sided friendship in which I always initiated the contact.  Instead I would wait and see what happened, and each time I did that I would ultimately receive a message from him usually by email.  He would apologize for his lack of contact and say he had been busy, sick, depressed, whatever, always wanting to preserve the friendship.  And so the cycle went.  This became a roller coaster ride that was irritating.  I didn’t like the feeling that I was making the effort and he was responding when it suited him.  I want the friendship, but not on those terms.  friendship - ignore me and I will ignore you

March 30th of this year rolled around and I received another email.   This one got down to the emotional nitty-gritty, it was honest.  The best one I’ve received because it got to the core of the situation.   He wants to remain friends, but the line is grey for him right now.  There are a lot of factors I am aware of but am not going to elaborate on.  Let’s just say that email put everything into perspective.  He is trying to get his mind straight and I have to be removed from the picture for now.  I’m good with that.  He closed with “Hopefully your friend.”

So what did I do?  I responded.  I don’t know if my response helped or hurt him in his situation, but it helped me in mine.  I was honest.  I told him we are still friends but that I find the friendship frustrating, that a person’s interest in maintaining a friendship is related to their response or lack thereof.   I pointed out that they say ex-lovers can be friends for one of two reasons:  either they were never in love or they still are.  That is the grey area.  I have accepted my grey area and can live with it.  A ghost from the past is not the reality of the present.  We are both different people than we were in 1980.

Then I tossed the ball in his court.  I can handle the give-and-take of being friends, but it is his decision on whether to respond and maintain the friendship.  If he decides to respond great.  If not I move on and don’t worry about it.  This decision was based on my emotional needs, not his, but it also supports his need for distance at this time.

So now I wait.  We are still connected on Facebook.  He has “liked” a couple of my posts; I have “liked” a couple of his.  Do I hope he contacts me at some point in the future?  Absolutely.  I will always be his friend, that is a given.  He is intelligent, funny, challenges the brain.  We have a past, a comfort level of true friends, a connection that can not be replaced.

I hope that right now we are just taking a break and that eventually the friendship is re-established on a more personal level.  However I will not allow my emotions to feel trampled by the friendship.  That is also a given and I have made that clear to him through my actions.

And that, my friends, is how you deal with a frustrating friendship.

 

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Filed under communication, Coping, decisions, Discoveries, freindship, friends, friendship, habit, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, mind, reality, time

Lingering Loneliness

This came as a surprise.  For the most part this is not something I experience.  I have adjusted to living on my own and consider myself happy in my current lifestyle.  I don’t know if it was the depression of days upon days of gloomy skies and rain, being overly tired from a month that was exceptionally busy and had me feeling overwhelmed,  or the fact that I came down with a horrendous head-cold.  Whatever it was, from out of the shadows loneliness attacked.

In reflecting back I think it was a huge melting pot of all those various factors.  It was rainy, wet, gloomy and cold.  Not my kind of weather at all.  Too many days of drizzly skies compounded the fact that my lawn was getting way too long and between the rain, a trip out of town for a memorial service, and my mower being buried in a shed where it was difficult for me to access, I was frustrated with not being able to get the lawn done.  Then the neighbor mowed his lawn and it made mine look just that much worse.   I don’t like having bad “curb appeal,” but I had and still have a negative “curb appeal” going.

I have been attending physical therapy three times a week, buried at work, and between the two have been more tired than normal.  I have crashed on the couch quite often in the evenings instead of getting things done.  That added to my frustration as my “to-do” list is impossible to complete and lack of energy aggravated me further.Loneliness is my least favorite thing

Suddenly I came down with a massive head cold.  I couldn’t breath, my nose was runny, and I had the chills.  As I lay in my bed shivering the loneliness enveloped me.   For thirty-four years whenever I was sick and had the chills Ron would wrap himself around me and the combination of body heat and human touch would help me to relax and go to sleep.   Now he is gone and I was alone and couldn’t sleep.  That is when it hit.

Ron always handled the yard work and now it is mine to do.  I’m frustrated over not having it done the way I want it.  Landscaping Ron was going to tear out and re-do didn’t get done and it needs to be changed.  The grass isn’t mowed and trimmed the way it should be.  There are things left in the drive, yard and garage from Ron’s scrapping days that I simply want gone.    It has me feeling overwhelmed, angry with myself for not being as fast and efficient at getting it done as he was.  Irritated at the mess I have to deal with.

Weekends were almost always spent together.  Ron and I would get up, have breakfast together and the conversation was always “What are we going to do today?”  Festivals, special events, arts and craft shows, or just going somewhere to shoot pictures.  Photography was a constant part of our lives.  Now I lack motivation.  My weekends are just me.  No one to have breakfast with, plan my day with, or go places with.  Just me doing whatever I want, alone.  On the weekends when I do get out of the house and go somewhere I feel much better, but self-motivation is difficult.

LonelinessBoy, does this sound like a major pity-party or what!  The fact of it is, I am alone.  I have to figure out how to juggle the yard work and get it done.  I have to eat alone, plan my own weekends, get out and be active by myself.  When I’m sick and have chills, that’s the way it goes.  I’m alone and I have to deal with it.    That is life.  That is reality.    Pity-Party over.

So am I lonely or was I just having a moment?  Probably a combination of both.  I don’t feel loneliness on a day-to-day basis.  I have enjoyed adjusting to life on my own.  If someone asked I would tell them I am happy with my life and it would be true.  Will I continue to have moments when loneliness hits me?  Most likely.  Do I want to spend the rest of my life alone?  Not really.  I would prefer to someday find someone who has similar interests and with whom I can share my days and a home with.  Until that time arrives I shall continue as I am and I shall be happy, because happy is the best way to be.

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Filed under Coping, decisions, Discoveries, environmental, Family, habit, home, Illness, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, mind, reality

10 Things I Can’t Live Without

When I stumbled across this statement it intrigued me.  Look around you.  You are living with dozens of “must have” items that did not exist 30, 50, 75 or 100 years ago.  Think of all the modern conveniences you use on a daily basis.  Which 10 things are most important, those items you can not live without?

There is so much we take for granted.  Things that in my lifetime have gone from non-existent to everyday use.  As I went through my day I thought about the things I was using.  What would life be like without this convenience?  That is how I came up with my list of 10 Things I Can’t Live Without.

  1.  Hot Water Heater — I know, pretty basic.  This occurred to me as I was climbing into my nice hot shower.  Before they existed people had to haul water in and heat it on a stove, then pour it into a tub and take a bath.  All that work just to get clean!  That brings me to my second item.
  2.  The Shower — before someone figured out how to force water up through a pipe and out above your head, everyone took baths.  Some people still do.  Some find it relaxing to climb into a tub and while away in a nice soak.  Not me.  I am a shower person hands-down.  One of the great inventions, and you don’t have to haul or boil water to receive it.
  3. Furnace — convenient heat.  No hauling wood, building a fire, having it die down overnight and waking up to a chilly home.  My furnace that I set at a temperature I want it to be at and it conveniently kicks on and off throughout the day and night to maintain the temperature of my home.  The convenience of warmth, or coolness if you also have air conditioning.
  4. Automobile — the ability to walk out, get into my vehicle and drive wherever I need to be.  It has heat.  It has air conditioning.  I can listen to the radio or news.  It protects me from the wind, rain, snow, cold, heat.  It gets me where I need to go quickly.  I can’t imagine life without the convenience of my vehicle.
  5. Internet — now I know there are people who live without being connected to the internet, or do they?  People are connected through their phones so they are never really not connected, just maybe not through a computer at home.  However I use the internet at work, at home, for staying in touch with family and friends, for gathering information, planning trips, mapping out routes, maintaining the website where I have my photographs, and writing this blog.  So much of what I do involves around the internet I would be very limited in what I do without it.  In fact when the power goes out, there is a tremendous amount of things I can’t do at home or work.
  6. Cell Phone — gone are the days of a phone attached to a wall with a 16-foot cord.  We now carry our phones with us everywhere we go.  It allows us to be in connection with others through phone calls, text messages, and social networks.  We use it as a computer, for navigation, for information, as a clock, as an alarm, stopwatch, to get news updates and weather reports.  The cell phone is a multi-use tool that we have all become dependent on to keep us in check as we go through the day.  How did we ever manage to live and survive without it?
  7. My Camera — I know, a weird one to pop up in this list.  A camera is the window to the world, past and present.  The images you capture hold forever in time a moment that will never again be repeated.  It is your memories held for generations to come.  Walking and looking around you, taking photographs of whatever captures your eye is relaxing.  I do the same thing driving, I see something, I stop and photograph it.  It is relaxing.  It is preservation of time.  It is important to me.
  8.  Paper and Pen — writing tools.  I can write without a computer.  I quite often write things by hand and later transcribe them into a typed format.  Why?  Because if traveling it is easier to pack paper and pen than my laptop.  Writing by hand slows the brain down, it causes you to spend more time formulating your thoughts.  It is not as easy to go back, erase and re-write if you are using paper and pen.  This is another activity that is relaxing and preserves thoughts and ideas for future reference.
  9.  Range/Refrigerator — those wonderful kitchen appliances.  Gone are the days of purchasing a block of ice and having it put into your “ice box,” although I do have an antique one in my garage.  Pull refrigerated or frozen food out of your refrigerator and cook it on your range, either on the burners or in the oven.  No hauling wood and estimating the temperature.  Push those buttons, wait for the “ding” to tell you it has reached the appropriate baking temperature and pop it in, then set the automatic timer to let you know when to remove it.  Convenience.
  10.  Washer/Dryer — laundry at its finest.  No hauling water, timing the cleaning of your clothes in proper order, whites to darks because you are re-using the water, then running it through the ringer to get the water out before hauling the basket out to the washline to hang the items to dry.  Although I will admit, I love the smell of clothes dried outside on a line.  Now I throw the clothes in my washer, add the detergent and fabric softner, set which type of wash it is –colored, towels, handwash, etc. — and push the start button.  I don’t even have to select how much water is needed, the machine weighs my laundry and makes that determination for me.   Laundry is now an load here, load there, convenience instead of an all day job.
  11.  Microwave — remember when these came out?  Convenience.  They were big, bulky, but fast.  Was it safe?  Who cared – it was a quick way to get things heated.  I will admit that the majority of my cooking is done the old-fashioned way, on a range, oven, or crock-pot.  However one cannot beat the microwave for warming up beverages, popping popcorn, reheating leftovers, or other quick-fix items.  It has made day-to-day life very easy.

    I know, I’m over the limit, not only do I have 11 items on my list, but on some I cheated and doubled up.  Once the mind got rolling it was hard to narrow down the items, and even now I can think of more.  What about crock pots/slow cookers, electricity, flashlights, gas grills, and more.  As soon as I send this I’m going to think — why didn’t I put such-and-such in?

    What are the items you can’t imagine life without?  What are the ten items you can’t live with out?

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Filed under assumptions, Discoveries, habit, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, reality, time, Uncategorized

Treat Time Properly

If you have been a reader for a while you know that I like quotes and sometimes use them as inspiration for my writing.  I stumbled upon the quote Self-help and in reading realized how well it fits me.  Self Help

How to stop time:  kiss.  This one shouldn’t need an explanation.  Lets just put it bluntly, kissing is a huge turn-on.  It can make time stand still or make it spin.  It is relaxing, comforting, exhilarating, exciting, enticing, enjoyable.  One of the best feel-good things there is.  Enjoy!

How to travel in time:  read.  Reading is a wonderful way to escape from the world.  Pick a subject, dive into a book and loose yourself as you travel to another world.  By selection of topic you can go anywhere, into the past, into the future, travel in outer space, get lost solving a crime or be entranced by romance.  The world is yours and the choice is yours on where in time you travel.  Pick a destination and explore.

How to escape time:  music.  Music has the ability to make you feel good and get the body moving.  It is energizing and relaxing, happy, and sad.  It can wake you up; it can put you to sleep.  It can create elicit memories of the past or help you dream of possibilities for the future.   There are no rules.  All you have to do is feel…enjoy the beat, sway to the rhythm, let the mind wander, escape reality, let the music flow as you escape in time.

How to feel time:  write.  I think this one is mis-labeled.  I don’t feel time when I write so much as I lose time, or rather loose track of time.   Anyone who is a writer, who truly enjoys writing, knows the feeling of becoming absorbed in their writing and not wanting to stop until all those thoughts that are in their brain course down through their arms, into their fingertips and onto paper.  Those thoughts must be put down and preserved.   If you want to lose time, write.

How to release time:  breathe.   How true this is, and how very important it is to understand.  You release time when you breathe.   When you breathe you release stress, refocus, re-energize, maintain balance.   You let time fade away and you regain your life.  To have a balanced, enjoyable life you have to allow yourself to breath and release time.

The answer to self-help is time.  Time to enjoy all the aspects of life.  Time to escape all the stress of life.  Time to be whatever you want to be.  Read something that exhilarates the mind.  Kiss with tenderness; kiss with passion.  Grab someone and sway to the music.  Breathe.  Relax. Enjoy.  Then put all those memories on paper.

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Filed under communication, Coping, decisions, Discoveries, exploration, Life is a Melting Pot, mind, reality, Writing

Caffeine Addicted Ants

Saturday morning I was standing at my kitchen counter when a small ant walked by…just one, strolling along nice as you please.  Well he was, until I ended his tiny little life.  I wondered where he came from but didn’t give it much thought and went on with my day.

That evening I saw three ants on the counter.  What the heck!  I don’t have any open food, nothing to attract them.  Just who do they think they are invading my kitchen, and for what purpose?  It isn’t as if I have a feast laid out for the taking.  More like starvation mode when it comes to open food availability.  Yet there they were.  Were, as in past tense, I ended their lives abruptly.

Easter Sunday and the troops have gathered.  A little march of several ants daintily prancing across the back edge of my counter.  Time for major action.  I get out the bottle of Clorox Cleanup, their lives and trails are about to come to a chemically abrupt halt.  I plan to start my cleanup where I saw them.  They’re gone!  Where did they go?  Did they some how have a sixth sense about what my plans were and went into hiding?

Not to be deterred I started at that end of the counter and began my chemically enhanced assault on their chosen trail.   I began a clean and search mission to determine what was attracting them.  My first thought was the catch trays on the toaster.  Nope, no ants there, but they are now clean and empty.  They weren’t attempting to invade my candy dish of Werther’s Originals, nor were they near my dish of York Peppermint Patties.  These ants obviously don’t have a sweet tooth.

I’m working my way across the counter, moving things, spraying with Clorox Clean-up and wiping everything down.  The smell of the bleach in the product should help to deter the ants, at least for a small while.   I haven’t seen a single one as I’m cleaning.  Where did they go?

Then I move the coffee maker to spray the counter underneath it.  Wow!  Numerous ants under the machine happily milling around.  When I had a pot of coffee run over there must have been some on the bottom of the machine when I moved it back into place, and it had created a dried puddle of coffee on the counter.  That is where the ants were congregated.

I would have never suspected ants to be congregated in mass proportions under a coffee machine.  Is it the coffee they are attracted to, or the caffeine?  They were not inside the coffee grounds, only under the machine.  How were they consuming or transporting that sticky residue?  Does the caffeine give them a nice burst of energy like it does some humans?  One thing I do not want is ants operating on high energy in my house. Ant drinking coffee

Those ants experienced a very sudden chemical bomb delivered via spray bottle filled with Clorox Clean-up.  If anyone feels sympathy for them, it was a very quick death so suffering would have been minimal and death instantaneous.  In fact the ants died much faster than the removal of the stain.  As difficult as it was to clean up, I can’t imagine how those ants were getting any benefit from it.

The good news is I have not seen a single ant since Easter morning.  Either I have killed them all off (as if I really believe that), or they no longer have a purpose in traversing my counter.  Of course they could be lying in wait, hoping for another coffee run-over.

Summer hasn’t even started yet, so I doubt I will be lucky enough not to see those pesky little critters again.  When I do the first place I will check is the coffee maker, chemical bomb in hand, ready to inflict mass destruction on their invasive little bodies.   I think a killer instinct in me has emerged.

 

 

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Filed under bugs, Cleaning, death, Discoveries, insects, Life is a Melting Pot, spring, summer

My Astrological Sign Causes Sleep Deprevation

I climb into bed at 12:30 am and lie there awake, tossing and turning, unable to sleep.  I look at the clock, it is 1:30 am, 2:15 am, 3:00 am, 4:30 am….I get up at 6:00, this is not good!  That is how I spent several nights in a row a couple weeks ago.  Every night, tossing and turning, the mind churning away.  Then I realized the problem, I am a Libra.

I can hear many of you going huh?  You are wondering how an astrological sign can create sleep deprivation.  I am a Libra, the sign is the scales of justice.  We like peace, fairness, everything in balance.  When the scales tip out of balance, or when a Libra personality thinks they may tip out of balance it is disturbing.

The part of the Libra personality that others often find very frustrating is that we are indecisive.  We want to weight all the options, keep everything in balance, and certainly don’t want to upset anyone else in the process.  When in a relationship the decision making process is easier because we can use the deferral method.

Anyone who has associated for long with a Libra will here “whatever you want,” “either one is okay,”  “What do you like?” “It’s up to you,” “I don’t care,” and so on.  Making a decision is so difficult we defer it to someone else.  This method works great as long as you have someone to defer to, but if you don’t the decision making process can be agonizing.Libra I Balance

That is what happened to me.  For the first time in my life I had to make decisions and in the process spend money…two things I am not good at.   Part of the problem is that I was making several decisions all in the same time frame and my mind went into a panic mode.   In the overall picture these were not major life-altering decisions, but in my Libra mind they had to be carefully weighed, checked, and then weighed again.  Heaven forbid something should go wrong.  And of course it did.

My cell phone was 2-1/2 years old and the battery wasn’t lasting.  I needed to replace the phone.  The question is which one to get?  For two weeks or more I analyzed them online, made lists, double checked features, and compared price.  I asked friends what they carried, I agonized over the decision, but finally I made a selection.  I go online to my cell phone carrier, make the selection, attempt to place the order, and the phone is not available and they don’t know when it will be available.     Back to the drawing board to make another selection, which I did and now have my new phone, but the decision making process was not easy.  To top it off I was also in the process of deciding to shut off my land-line phone and go to using only a cell phone.

So I had two decisions regarding phones causing my scales to wobble and tilt, and if that wasn’t enough I threw in another decision.  I had spent 1-2 months contemplating a trade-in of the car that had been my husband’s for a new car, something bigger.   The thought of trading his car that he had customized was hard, trying to decide whether I wanted to buy or lease, pick a color, pick the vehicle itself, and more were upsetting the harmonious flow through my brain.

Car buying was something I didn’t do.  My husband was a Ford retiree, there is no negotiating, tell them what you want, get a value for your trade-in, and close the deal.  The process was not difficult, very simple actually.  But the mind rolls, should I have traded his car, did I get a fair trade-in value, did I make a good decision on my new vehicle, did I make the right choice in upgrading to 12,000 miles per year, or should I have left it at 10,000.   It was four days from when I stopped and looked at vehicles to when I picked mine up; four days of agonizing over and justifying my decision.

Libra over thinkerAfter several nights with no sleep I finally realized what the problem was.  I wasn’t used to making these decisions.  I had always left them to my husband, but now with him gone I had to handle these things myself.  Once I realized that my mind was playing tricks on me and keeping me awake needlessly over decisions that were reasonable to make I was able to once again resume normal sleep.

Why did the realization of the problem allow me to sleep?  Because they were good, well-thought out decisions.  They are choices that are good for me, no one else.  When I realized I was lying awake trying to analyze my own decisions I was able to re-balance the scale, stop it from tipping and upsetting my sleep patterns, and resume a normal routine.

Will I ever get out of balance again?  Of course.  I am a Libra.  We are notoriously indecisive and while I may have balanced a couple small decisions in the large scale of things it is logical to realize that things will come up in which the scale is tilted.   Just keep in mind that if you ask me to make a decision you may hear “I don’t care” or “whatever you want” rather than a true answer.  That is how I keep my scale in balance.

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A Murphy’s Law Week

There is a saying “If Anything Can Go Wrong It Will” that is referred to as Murphy’s Law. This past week has had an assortment of bumbles that were not of major proportion and actually had positive outcomes.  When talking to my son on the phone about one of them his response was “so basically you did it all wrong but it was still good.”  Murphy's Law - If anything can go wrong it will

Murphy’s Law #1:  I cut a recipe out of a magazine that I thought sounded good.  Thinking I had all the ingredients except broccoli, which I purchased at the store, I pushed ahead with preparations.  A good plan…or so I thought.  The recipe called for Hillshire Farms smoked sausage; I had their Polska Kielbasa so I used that instead.  Next 2 cloves of garlic crushed, I substituted minced garlic.  A large red bell pepper, I had green so the dish wasn’t as colorful but the flavor is equal.  One package of frozen broccoli; I had purchased fresh.  The fresh seemed like a huge amount so I guesstimated how much to throw in.    Tomato sauce, didn’t have any of that either so I measured out an equivalent amount of condensed tomato soup.  No mozzarella cheese in the refrigerator so I used my taco cheese.  On a positive note I did have the instant rice, olive oil and one yellow onion.

The Benefit:  Despite all the substitutions it tasted great and I had leftovers to use for lunch at work and dinner when I got home late.  My son asked me if I wrote down my substitutions so I could make it the same way next time.   It might be easier to re-write the entire recipe!

Murphy’s Law #2 happened when my cable TV box stopped working and my provider informed me it would be $35-$70 to have a service call.  This was the second time the box went out and I told them I wasn’t paying for a service call, I would bring in the box and decide then whether to replace or turn in and cancel TV.

The Benefit:  They could suddenly provide me with a free service call and have the technician call me about one-half (1/2) hour before arrival so I could leave work to meet him at the house.    That led to Murphy’s Law #3.

Murphy’s Law #3:   The day I was to have the service call on my cable TV I received an automated call at work giving me a two-hour block for arrival.  I held for a live person and was informed that they do not make personal phone calls, only the automated system does it.   I explained what I had been told on the phone originally and she said tech’s can’t make calls.  I responded that was not what I was told, that no one would be at the house unless I received a call, and if it doesn’t get handled I will bring in the box and cancel the service, at which point I hung up.

The benefit:  Ten minutes later the service tech called and said he could meet me at my house. That lead to Murphy’s Law #4.

Murphy’s Law #4:  The cable technician and I both anticipated this being a quick 20-30 minute service call/repair.  He ended up at my house working four (4) hours to resolve all issues.

The Benefit:  Numerous problems were discovered which resulted in the replacement of all cables coming into my house, replacement of weird splits to the cable when it was run in the basement, adjustment of the bundle of cords behind the TV putting too much weight on the HDMI TV input and causing problems, replacement of the TV box twice.  My original wasn’t working and was extremely hot, and the first replacement didn’t work.  Four hours later the TV and internet were both working faster and smoother.

Murphy’s Law #5:  I received a telephone call confirming my post-op surgical follow-up appointment, but the time they gave me was an hour later than I scheduled.  The girl found where they did give me the 10:30 slot, but they had keyed it into their computer as 11:30, so she confirmed me for 10:30.  A few minutes later someone else called and said that they had keyed it into their computer wrong, but were heavily booked and if I came in at 10:30, I might not get called until 11:30.  I had booked the appointment six (6) weeks in advance and was not happy.  I asked about coming in earlier, which they were able to do.

The Benefit:  I arrived for a 9:15 am appointment and my name was called almost immediately.  I had X-rays taken, saw the intern doctor, saw the surgeon, and was out the door and on my way to work by 9:40 am.

Murphy’s Law #6:  After analyzing and contemplating for over a week I made my decision on which cell phone to upgrade to and went onto the Verizon website to order, only to find that although it is listed on their website it is not available and they do not have an anticipated availability date.  I didn’t want to wait indefinitely so checked to see if that phone was available elsewhere.  It was, but I either had to pay for it upfront in its entirety or pay interest if I financed it and then it would have had to be serviced through them instead of my cell phone provider.  Ugghhh, back to Verizon’s website I went.

The Benefit:  I decided to get the same brand, just one step down, which was a savings.  The only feature I lost in doing so was the shatterproof shield.  It came with free 2-day arrival and I had it shipped to my work location.  Added Benefit:  It arrived one day earlier than anticipated.

Murphy’s Law #7:  I had shopped and planned several meals to prepare throughout the week, but didn’t get them made due to getting home from work late and not wanting to cook at 7:30 to 8:00 pm.

The Benefit:  I made everything over the weekend and ended up with a batch of leftovers:  stuffed peppers, spaghetti, and chicken noodle soup to get me through the following week.

Murphy's Law - the full versionMurphy’s Law #8:  It has been a crazy couple of weeks at work.  Friday was like a triple Monday.  Throughout the week things had come up that took priority and pushed other things back.  I ended the week feeling burned out and more buried then when the week began.

The Benefit:  I work for someone who understands the pressure and commented that we have both been going crazy, are staying afloat but both need to plan vacation time or we will both burn out.  Added Benefit:  I like to take time off in small blocks and have some short outings/trips planned over the next few months.

Murphys’ Law #9:  I went from an IPhone to a Droid, which results in a learning curve.  First problem was when I was trying to make the transfer from one phone to the other.  I got the IPhone shut down and the Droid on, but it told me it couldn’t be used until I completed some set-up steps and I couldn’t get the steps to work.  I ended up spending 1-1/2 hours on the phone with tech-support to complete the steps.   Thought all was okay, but ran into a problem at work when I couldn’t figure out how to answer the phone.  Then on the second day every time someone posted on Facebook or sent any type of message my phone was playing music really loud, and I couldn’t get the notifications to stop or sound to go lower.  Embarrassing!

The Benefit:  I like the new phone and features not available on my previous model.  I am still on a learning curve but will figure it out eventually.

Murphy’s Law #10:  Saturday I was going to the drive-thru at the bank so wore a sweatshirt and no make-up assuming no one would see me.  I decided to drive through the lot at the car dealership and see what they had in the models I was considering, thinking the dealership was closed on Saturdays.  Wrong!  I got out of the car and was looking at one car when a salesman walked up.   He must have figured any female standing in the rain looking at a vehicle was likely interested in buying.  So there I was in an old sweatshirt, no makeup, hair frizzy from the rain, pricing out vehicles and test-drove one while my vehicle was being appraised for trade-in.

The Benefit:  I got a good trade-in value on my car, was able to lower my monthly payment by leasing instead of buying, and now have a larger vehicle with more room and more perks.

Remember:  If anything can go wrong it will, but if you look for the positive in each situation you will find it and reap its rewards.

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Happiness is…

love-is-side-by-sideI may be dating myself, but back in the 1970’s there were cute cartoon images, often portrayed by a little chubby couple, and quotes of “Love is…”  I was thinking of them the other day and it got me to wondering, what if we applied that formula to  happiness?  What makes a person happy?

I started jotting down things that make me happy.  There are so many simple things in life that bring pleasure.  I  suggest you make your own happy list.  You will realize how many wonderful things there are that bring joy to you every day.


Happiness is…

…a long weekend
…a cup of coffee and a good book
…a child’s laughter
…the smell of freshly mowed grasshappiness-is-a-family-vacation
…getting together with family
…a sunny day
…a day shooting pictures
…good friends
…the smell of lilacs
…a day scrapbooking
…time with grandchildren
…art fairs and craft shows
…children in costume yelling trick-or-treat
…singing and dancing to the radio
…planning a trip
…visiting somewhere you have never been
…traditions
…a warm summer day
…an old-fashioned country fair
… listening to a child’s viewpoint on life
…kettle korn popcorn and caramel apples
…time with your spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, significant other
…the glow of a fireplace
…creating Easter baskets and watching the kids go through them
…the beauty of freshly fallen snow
…carnations
…watching a parade
…the sound of water along the shore
…snuggling under a warm blankethappiness-is-a-warm-blanket
…front porch sitting
…handwritten letters
…peanut butter on a spoon
…walking a nature trail
…relaxing in a hot tub
…the glow of a Christmas tree
…historical and cultural events
…memories
…discovering and learning about your ancestors
…doing RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness)
…unexpected surprises
…a feeling of accomplishment
…seeing my byline on writings
…writing, writing, writing

This isn’t the end.  The more I think, the more I realize a lot of things make me happy, bring a smile to my face.  I hope you have lots of things to put on your own “Happiness Is… ” list.

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Crash and Climb

We all have a vision of how our life will be, who will be a part of our journey, our plans and dreams for the future.  Sometimes that plan goes untested.  Sometimes it has twists and turns, and those can lead to the ultimate crash.

When you crash you have two options — Crash and Burn or Crash and Climb.  If you crash and burn you have allowed circumstances to take control of your life.  Instead you need to crash and climb out of the rubble, rebuilding your life.  Remap your life, make new plans and dreams.  Great things can happen that would never have occurred before you hit that wall.comfort-zone-adventure-out-of-it-to-grow

During the climb you will learn new skills, new relationships will form.  People will enter your life and impact you in ways you never before imagined.  They may influence the way you conduct business, handle finances, travel, view life, invade your mind or leave a mark on your heart.

I hit a brick wall fourteen months ago when my husband lost his battle with cancer.  I have spent the past year climbing out of the rubble and rebuilding my life.  A good friend has knowingly or unknowingly guided me in the process.  They have pushed me beyond my comfort zone, asked questions to inspire my thought process.  Not judgmental, but thought provoking inquiries such as “How do you plan to do that?”  and “What are your plans for the future?”

I am happy with my life.  It isn’t what I originally planned, but that is okay.  I have climbed out of the rubble and embraced the change.  I have done things I never would have done prior to the crash.  I have developed friendships I never would have made before I hit that wall.

No matter how good life was before the crash, embrace the change.  Value the friendships.  Enjoy the journey.  Believe that the best is yet to come.

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Remember The Good Ole Days When People Talked To Each Other?

Have you ever looked around at people when out in public?  Have you considered your own conduct when socializing with others?  What about the way you make and maintain friendships?  We have become a society in which a large portion of our social interactions are electronically based.

I think there is both a positive and a negative to this development.  Social media…blogs, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, Stumble On, etc. are all great places for exchanging information and keeping in touch with others.  Social media is especially helpful in allowing families to stay in touch when they reside in various spots around the country and/or world.  I spend a fair  amount of time on Facebook and Pinterest so I am not at all opposed to it, but I do have some concerns.social-interaction-pay-attention-on-twitter

People are losing the ability and/or willingness to deal with people on a personal level.  They are unable to tuck their cell phones away and simply have a meal or conversation without repeatedly checking their phone.  Not because they are receiving phone calls, but because they are viewing their media feed, texting, posting articles, or other such activities.

I will admit to on occasion doing the “check-in” post letting my friends know where I am at and/or what I am doing.  Pictures of meals, selfies of people and who they are dining with have become common place.  People don’t sit at a table and converse with each other, they sit across from each other, each on their phones a/k/a social media.

social-media-strap-phone-to-foreheadA couple years ago my husband and I were in a restaurant that was quite busy and we had to wait for our table.  I was looking around the restaurant and I  mentioned to him that he and I looked very out of place.  The reason being we were the only two people in the entire restaurant, both the dining and bar areas, who were not on our phones.  We were talking to each other instead!  That is sad….people are losing the human connection.

It has gone so far that some restaurants have pads attached to the tables for games, order placing, paying bills, etc.  No human interaction.  What kind of message is this sending to our youth, and what will the overall affect be on society?

There is nothing on social media that cannot wait.  If your family really needs to reach you they will call.  The jokes, posts, news articles, photographs, and more that are posted on a regular basis do not have to be reviewed every ten minutes, thirty minutes, or hour.  If you miss a few the world is not going to come to a screeching halt.  Heck, people have become so self-absorbed they probably won’t even realize you are missing.

So what should you do instead?  Take a break.  Go to dinner, have a conversation, go for a walk, and don’t check your phone and/or post for at least an hour or two.  At first it may seem difficult, depending on how much of an addict you are.  However I would be willing to bet that you will find it refreshing and strive for more unconnected periods of time.  You may end up like me, wondering why people can’t just step away at least a few hours a day.  social-interaction-human-more-important

Look at it this way.  Life is meant to be experienced live, not through the power of electronics.

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Rhetorically Resolving Resolutions

Every year thousands of people make New Years resolutions which they ultimately give up on within the first month or so.   The act of making the list is rather rhetorical, as the majority know that they will never accomplish those resolutions.  The list is made out of tradition, not with the intent to succeed.   new-year-resolution-fatter-and-lazier

A resolution is an action taken to resolve a problem.  Who wants to start the new year thinking about a list of problems they must tackle?  A New Year’s resolution is a cumbersome burden no one wants to bear.  Just the sound of it is overwhelming.

Throw those resolutions out.  You are not going to accomplish them anyway.  Instead list your goals for the new year.  Think positive, dream big.  These are things you want to accomplish over the course of the next twelve months.

new-year-goal-setting-6-steps-to-successAhhh you say, isn’t that the same thing as a resolution?  Well, sort of, but it is a mind game for motivation.  Which do you want to do?  Which makes you feel that success is possible?  You can only pick one of the following:

* List your resolutions for the new year — those problems you intend to resolve.

OR

* List your goals for the new year — those things you want to achieve.

Which phrase encourages you to take action?  Which phrase makes you go uggghhh?  Do whatever provides you with the most motivation.  If taking a slew of problems you have resolved to correct inspires you, then by all means go for it.  If setting forth a list of goals to complete inspires you, then take that route.  new-year-goals

The desired outcome, whether you choose to set resolutions or goals, is to cross those items off your list one-by-one as you complete them.  Every item you cross off the list provides you with a feeling of accomplishment.  The more things you cross off your list, the more encouraged you will be to keep working on that list.

What are my plans for 2017?  I have made a resolution to resolve problems by setting forth a list of goals to accomplish within the next year.

Happy New Year!

 

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A Year Of Changes

learn-free-to-be-meIf you have been a reader for a while you know that my husband, Ron,  passed away December 7, 2015 and since that time I have been adjusting to living on my own.  In reflecting on myself now, plans for the future and introspection of the past I have learned a few things.

I am capable of living alone, and doing it comfortably.  When I met Ron I was 19 and living at home with my parents.  I got married,  moved in with Ron and had never lived alone.  I originally found the idea of living solo terrifying but had no choice.    What I have learned is that living on my own has its benefits.  I can set the thermostat where I want and it stays there.  I can blast the radio at 2 am if I chose without having to worry about disturbing anyone else.  I can eat what I want when I want and not have to worry about anyone else.  I can re-arrange and hang photos and other artwork on the walls, removing things that were never my choice to begin with and adding new items that appeal to me.   I can move, add,  eliminate or change anything I chose without wondering if another person is going to like the change.

learn-to-be-happy-aloneAlthough I never paid attention to our finances and had no interest in knowing about them, I am perfectly capable of paying bills, applying for mortgage modifications, listing property for sale, and making decisions on financial assets.   I’m not blindly doing what Ron told me to do as he was dying.  I’m evaluating my own circumstances and making a decision that I feel comfortable with.   My goal for the future is to learn how the stock market and investments work, to understand how to diversify and what everything means  so I can make informed choices.  Hopefully  I will get a grasp on this within the next decade.  I’m really walking in uncharted territory here.

I can now run a riding lawn mower, a weed wacker, call a plumber, take vehicles in for routine maintenance, find and hire repair persons for things such as air conditioning. However I have no intention of learning to run the snowblower.  That thing is just too big.  I’ll kill myself shoveling first.  I even look at the Harbor Freight and Tractor Repair sales flyers now in case there is something I need.  Okay, I’ll admit my big purchase this year was two tarps, but we all have to start somewhere.  learn-dance-in-the-rain

One big surprise, I like to cook.  I know that sounds funny after 34 years of marriage, but I thought I didn’t like cooking.  I have been cooking for myself for a year now and I realize  that I like it.  For the majority of our marriage Ron did all the cooking.  Over the years I told people didn’t like doing day-to-day rush home from work an cook a meal, but I liked doing the larger family meals.  I recently said those words to someone but later in the evening it occurred to me that the statement isn’t true.  I don’t mind cooking for myself at all.  I love grilling entire meals in the summer months.  So why the change in my thoughts?

learn-something-newWhat I have discovered is that it wasn’t the cooking I disliked, it was that Ron always had a criticism of some sort and tended to hover, questioning why I did things the way I did, telling me I should do things differently than I did.  Nothing was ever quite good enough, there was always a “why didn’t you…”  Basically, he thought I should cook just  like him.  After a while I tired of the negativity and simply walked away and left it to him.  He cooked, I cleaned up, and it worked.

Since Ron’s passing I have discovered that I enjoy cooking.  I like throwing foods together to see what I like, mixing different combinations.  If they are all watching from above there are three cooks in heaven that are probably surprised at what they see.

I would say Ron is probably shocked at the things I fix; that I enjoy the cooking and especially like grilling.  My Mother-in-Law is probably happy to see me not measuring, just dumping in many instances.  I learned early in my marriage that if you called her for a recipe she didn’t measure, it was  “till it looks right.”  My father was a great cook.  When he saw me go into the basement and gather an assortment of ingredients, throw them into a pot and end up with a soup he was probably going “hell ya, that’s the way to cook.”  One of my greatest memories is when he cleaned out the refrigerator and made “chili” with the leftovers.  How many people have eaten chili with spaghettio’s floating in it?  I have!learn-who-you-are

When it comes to traveling alone I have mixed feelings.  It is nice because if I want to wander around and/or make frequent stops to take pictures I can do that without any complaints.  Ron and I were both photographers and did that all the time, but the average person does not take pleasure in such activities or delays.

On the other hand, traveling alone can be lonely.   If taking in a tourist attraction, such as wandering a museum or park, you are always alone.  No one to talk with, share discoveries with.   You are always eating alone, and so I always dine with a book.  There is no one sharing your hotel room, no one to sleep with. Maybe we shouldn’t go there.  Let’s just leave it at that.

So learning about me happened by learning to live alone.  What a difference a year has made.  The good, the bad, the indifferent.  What have I learned? I had a fantastic marriage.  I will have a fantastic future.  Different than I planned, but that’s okay.  I have made decisions that a year ago I would not have made.  I have made changes in my life that a year ago I would not have made.  Life was different then.  I was different then.  I am happy with my life, and that is all that matters.  Whatever happens, whatever life throws in my direction, I am ready.  Bring it on!

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