Random Thursday: Happy Edition

1. A few weeks back, the Wonder Hub and I were driving down some picturesque Colorado backroad, talking about Someday. We don’t know when he will retire from the Air Force, and we don’t know exactly where we would like spend our post-AF years, but we sure like to dream about it. We were doing just that as we rounded a bend in the road and a red barn came into sight. It was trim and bright and pretty as a picture. It made my heart do a little dance.

Me: You know what makes me happy? Red barns.
Him: We’ll get two.

2. I went outside to feed, water, and deadhead plants yesterday morning. I had just spent an hour in the backyard, and I was on a roll. As I settled in on the front porch, I heard a misplaced yet oh-so familiar tinkling sound. I got up, head tilted, and hopped off the porch. Brain going Mach 2, I rounded the shrubs and laid eyes on this:

 

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I can’t be certain, but my best guess is that she’d been out there for two hours, basking in the sunshine and surveying her kingdom. A little girl was riding back and forth, back and forth on a too-big bike while singing a sweet little made-up song, and I’m so happy my girl was there to keep an eye on her.

(I’m also happy that a deer didn’t happen by.)

3. I got up early this morning, slammed a cup of joe, laced up my sneakers, and took my car in for routine maintenance. Then I ran home. Three miles. Uphill. From elevation 5,946 to elevation 6,260. (translation: no oxygen)

So why on earth would this make me happy?
Welllll, let me count the ways:

1. I was happy because it was 65 and not 90 degrees.
2. I was happy because I had sneaked out of the house and could run without waiting around for sniffing and peeing and rabbit-stalking.
3. I was happy because I was DONE.

4. Lists. Somewhere in the recesses of my skittery brain, I remembered writing about lists. I did a search and, among five posts about lists, found this:

Random….Uh, What Day Is It?

Reading it made me happy. Reading the comments made me even happier.

5. When I started thinking about lists, back before I hopped down the list-post bunny trail, this was why.

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This week’s list. On Thursday.

Happy!

(Sure, there are things not listed, and sure, there are things that will be added, but let’s not dwell on that, shall we?)

6. Lip balm makes me happy. I’ve never been much of a lipstick girl. I’m not opposed to color, but something about the texture of lipstick makes me feel hemmed in. Buttoned up. It’s too much responsibility. Or something.

Lip balm, on the other hand. It wouldn’t take much to tip me over into the category of lip balm hoarder. Lip Balm addict. My favorite of all time is Origins Lip Tint in Organic Plum, which the organic jerks have quit making. In my hunt to replace it, I have tried all of the Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm flavors/colors. I have a Sonia Kashuk lip balm (I can’t tell you the color without reading glasses, and I can tell you that ain’t gonna happen), and a Neutrogena lip balm in Sunny Berry. My color-free favorites include good ‘ol Chapstick, Peppermint Chapstick, a couple from Goat’s Milk Stuff, and a newly purchased and perfectly lovely tube of Portland Bee Balm (also in peppermint).

I may or may not be wearing one or several of them right. now. And you know what? I’m happy!

7. I got a StitchFix package in the mail today. Do you know this StitchFix? It’s pretty fun, and I think I’ve kept one of five items in each of the four packages they’ve sent. Today, the hands-down winner was a geometric print maxi dress in bright, summery colors. I liked it so much that I put it on to run errands with the Monkey. I felt sassy, and for once in my yoga-pant life, put together. A good outfit, it just does something for a girl. It changes the attitude. It lifts the spirits. It causes one to stroll into Starbucks with her head held high (instead of skulking through the drive-through in shaded glasses and a ballcap), smile beamingly at the barista, and turn to graciously accept the compliment of a perfect stranger…

who actually stopped by to let you know the price tags were still attached and hanging there for all to see.

Happy? Good. I aim to please!

 

 

 

Random Thursday: Stop. Mollytime.

1. We all know that Molly Sue is livin’ the life, so I thought I’d paint a little day-in-the-life word-picture (and picture-picture) for you. Ready?

Ready.

2. FIRST THINGS FIRST

When I open my bedroom door at the ungodly (yes.it is.) hour of six, Molly is doing her sphinx impersonation. There is such an urgent look about her that if you didn’t know better, you would think she was desperate for a patch of grass out back. I do know better, so I greet her and assume the position.

The position?

Sumo.

I squat, legs wide and toes angled out, as Molly rolls over on her side. She heaves a trademark sigh and I commence with the early-morning belly rub. I rub and stretch and whisper sweet nothings to my good dog until my inner thighs can take no more.

3. BREAKFAST!

We trot down the stairs side by side and fall into the next phase of our morning routine, which brings to mind my grandfather wandering into my grandmother’s clean kitchen for the pure joy of being chased back out.

Molly sits up.
I give her a “Seriously?” look.
She hangs her head but stands her ground.
She makes me say it. Every single day, she makes me say it.
“Molly, it’s not time yet.”

Head low, she mopes to her bed and flops dramatically. SIGH.

I fumble with the kettle, grind the beans, inhale deeply and decide to live another day. I pivot.

She’s sitting up.
I roll my eyes and shake my head.
She mopes and flops and siiiiighs.

We repeat this until 7:00, when I have to tell her to sit up. She looks at me disbelievingly. I make big eyes and tell her again.

“Sitttt. Up.”

4. HUNTRESS

In Virginia it was squirrels. In Colorado, bunnies.

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5. When the various neighbors catch her stalking bunnies through their yards, we console them with the news that she’s never actually caught one.

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Until, of course, she did.

6. THE ‘W’ WORD

Don’t say it unless you mean it. And by mean it, I mean you’re ready to g-o, shoes on and leash in hand. Otherwise you’re bound to trip over Miss Now?Now?Now?? sixteen times as you gather your shoes and jacket, smear on Chapstick, and search desperately for the infernal keys/leash/doggie bag. Should you accidentally whisper the ‘W’ word before you’re stepping over the threshold, you can tell her to SIT. STAY. but every blessed time you turn around she’ll be sitting and staying in your immediate path and looking for all the world like Oliver Twist begging for gruel.

6. TRAIL DOG

This. This is what makes it all worthwhile.

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7. WHERE’S MY PUP!?

Every now and then I’ll stop and survey the landscape. The real treat is to catch Molly sussing out the bunnies’ hidey holes, because she bounds between shrubs and grasses, grinning all the while. Sometimes, though, I can’t spot her. I put hand to brow like Gilligan and survey the landscape.

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I call out, “Molly Sue!!!”

And again, “Molly SUUUUUUUEEEEEEEE!!!!”

Suddenly, where there was no pup..

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..there’s my happy, happy girl!

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She’s running straight into my arms!

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She loves me so! I am her human, and she is my good dog! Boon companions ever, nothing can keep us apart!

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Until she spots another bunny..

Easily Distracted

So I’m making dinner, which consists of warming up leftover (homemade, I want credit for that) Asian meatballs, and roasting broccoli with garlic, when Molly Sue begins barking her fool head off. I recognize the bark, so I grab my camera.

DSC_0009 It’s always the young bucks who get nose-to-nose with my girl, and this goes on for some time. When he gets bored,

DSC_0010 she lets him wander a few steps before resuming her mad dog bark and rushing the fence.

DSC_0013 And then they do it all over again.

Meanwhile..

DSC_0004 I catch the eye of this shaggy little lover.

DSC_0005 Who whispers to her friend, “Watch your back, the crazy camera lady is at it again!”

DSC_0007 And we stare each other down, until the incessant nagging of the oven timer brings me back to the real world…

DSC_0017 and to this. The real world sucks. The End

Random Thursday: Rusty Procrastinator Edition

1. So it’s been a few Thursdays since I randomed it up for all y’all. I’m feeling a bit rusty in the writing department. Writing is like exercise: when you’re on, you’re on. Conversely, when you don’t work your muscles, they atrophy. When your muscles atrophy, your butt gets big, I mean, inertia sets in, and so does fear. Both are hard to overcome, but fear might be the more difficult of the two.

I speak from a place of experience.

2. As we all know, I am a Master Procrastinator. It’s true. I used to bemoan my outcast state (name that sonnet), until the day the question was proposed at a writers’ conference and the entire auditorium rose to their feet.

I’d found my people!

Seriously, Google “Are Writers Procrastinators?” and you’ll come up with nearly 9,000,000 hits.

Procrastinators rule!

3. What was my point?

4. In an effort to deal with the exercise inertia (ahem), I agreed to run the BolderBoulder 10k on Memorial Day with Chris. Talk about fear. Talk about an example of procrastination biting you (me!) on the hiney. Talk about decisions that seem insignificant on the life-event scale when you make them, but then cause you to wake repeatedly in a cold sweat…

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5. Procrastination doesn’t always bite me on the hiney. Many times, it works in my favor. Many times, dare I say, the Mother Ship herself provides me with positive reinforcement.

Positive Reinforcement (n): the offering of desirable effects or consequences for a behavior with the intention of increasing the chance of that behavior being repeated in the future.

Example: Tuesday is garbage day. I knew the very full can needed to be taken out to the curb. But it was cold. And windy like you read about. When I heard the rumble of the garbage truck I raced to the front door only to see it exiting the neighborhood. “You had one job!” I told myself as I slumped against the open door.

And then it happened. No fewer than seven empty garbage cans blew down the street like so much tumbleweed.

Procrastinators rule!

6. Molly has been running with me. We are fortunate to live in a neighborhood that borders dedicated Open Space. The established trails on that space form two large loops, which, when combined, equal about 1.5 miles of varied terrain (according to the track coach, but I swear it’s more like 5). Molly and I are daily visitors. I slog up and down hills as she takes every opportunity to sniff, explore, and chase rabbits while periodically doubling back to check that I’m still breathing.

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7. In an effort to deal with the writing inertia, I procrastinated. I procrastinated the writing of several final papers and an extensive treatment plan required to complete the Master Clinical Herbalist program. As a result, I wrote them all in one day, under extreme duress and with exceedingly sweaty armpits. As a result of that, I think I worked the rust out.

See? Procrastinators rule!

Dinner Time! (Or: The Stalker)

5:01pm

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“Seriously? It’s 59 minutes ’til dinner, girl.”

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5:16pm

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(Deep breath, while doing math) “Molly. It’s…44 minutes ’til dinner.”

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5:33pm

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“Nope. Not yet. It’s still 27 minutes ’til dinner, pup.”

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5:43pm

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“Molly! Quit pouting! It’s only 12 minutes ’til dinner.”

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6:00pm

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“Yes, girl. It’s dinner time. Why aren’t you excited?”

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“Are you sticking your tongue out at me??”

Happy New Year And All That Jazz

For several weeks, I’ve been thinking about thinking about composing this first post of the new year for you. The standard format is to talk about resolutions, either those profound changes I have determined to make happen in my own life, or some brilliant words of advice for helping you achieve yours.

Unfortunately, I have a slight and ongoing problem with doing the things I should do. Especially when those things are the things which everyone else is doing. Perhaps it goes back to the Alabama roadies and my unrequited need for wild adventures, but doing the thing that everyone else is doing (that thing I should do) kind of bores me into a catatonic state.

So I’m not writing that post.

I don’t want to talk about what everyone else is talking about.

If you’ll hang out for a minute or two, over here where I am Queen of the Universe, we’re going to talk about……

The bonds of family, and my beloved cousin, who went out of his way to make me this:

 

 

 

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..and also this:

 

 

 

T1

 

 

And the thing that occurs to me is this: It would appear that my beloved cousin and I suffer from the same rebellious streak.

Yes?

Happy New Year, friends!

Photo Phriday: Instagram Edition

The scene: My front yard.

The characters: Me, exhausted and seven days post-op, having completely overdone it (again). A boy, one who used to be small enough to fit in the crook of my arm, who used to sleep on my chest in a curled up ball of intense, fragrant sweetness, but whose shoulder I can now kiss as he walk by (but only if I’m fast), brought me a chair from the garage, and overturned a bucket for my feet. My good dog is lying nearby, and various neighbors wave as they drive past. We’ve recently had nearly four inches of rain, and my world is a verdant place, full of the heady smells and sights of spring: the petrichor of rainwater-on-dirt, the decay of fading azalea blooms and the clarion magenta of freshly opened peonies.

The assignment: To complete a Photo Phriday essay without leaving my chair.

Ready?

Go!

 

 

 

Filter: Hefe

I call this one A Dog and her Boy…and the Garbage Can. I didn’t realize the Monkey was in the shot, shooting, no less, and I lovelovelove that. I could do without the garbage can, smack in the middle of my bucolic photograph, sitting there for goodnessknowswhy, but then I decided it’s a fitting metaphor for my life. Probably for yours, too.

 

Filter: Hefe

These are my German-and Swiss Pasty White with a Smattering of Freckles Ancestors’ Legs. I messed with the filter in an attempt to make them presentable, or more presentable, or whatever, but whatever. Focus your gaze instead on the refreshing glass of Pomegranate Lemonade there on my bucket/footstool, courtesy of one of the many angels of mercy who have brought by food and drink and PIE since my little vacation. It’s my new second-favorite beverage. Also take note of the cute pup just beyond my unpolished toes.

 

Filter: Lo-fi

The book at my feet. It’s killing me. I am physically dying because of this book. I want to gobble it up, to swallow it whole, to be done and to know. Instead, I find myself taking small, manageable bites which then require significant chunks of time to digest. I find myself re-reading whole passages, sometimes to clarify content, but more often, to relive Lamott’s tender prose, written as if it had just spilled off her tongue, stated without thought or Sh*tty First Drafts (her words) or kind-hearted brutal editors. At this rate, I may never finish. If that is the case, if I never finish and if, as odd as it sounds, this book actually kills me, please tuck in into my coffin, within arm’s reach.

Gracias.

 

 

Filter: Toaster

I had to cheat a wee bit with this one. For the record: I did not get out of my chair. Instead, I sent the Monkey to do my bidding. And then I sent him to do it again, because honestly, the child has the photography skills of his mother. Isn’t it glorious? This is one of the many things in creation that makes me pause and think, Evolution, my butt. Its beauty is astonishing, and yet it blooms mere days and is gone.

Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Luke 12:27

Filter: Hefe

One last photo of my girl. Really, though, I want you to focus on my prize hosta in the background. I just sent Bubba out with a tape measure, and he claims from furthest leaf to furthest leaf, she is five foot eight. Which, by the by, happens to be the height of the aforementioned Monkey. Back to the hosta. It’s hard to believe that I’ve never given the old girl a name. Let’s give her one now, shall we?

Beatrice
Elanore
Marjory
Gladys

Which do you think?

Random Thursday: 20 Minute Edition

1. I opened the Monkey’s door late last night to check on him. There was no movement, so I carefully stuck my head in and whispered to his sweet subconscious, “I love you.”

“Yo, man. What?”
“I love you.”
“Oh. Oh. I love you, too. Mannnn.”
“Sleep well.”
“Okay, but……………………………..mom? I love you.”
“I love you, too.”

(Silence)

Goodnight.”
“But Mom? I love you.”

2. This morning he was cranky, running late, cranky, and cranky.  He had no memory of talking to me at midnight. He had no desire to look to me, much less tell me that he loves me.

But I know.

3. I drove him to school with Flock of Seagulls hair.

It’s the little things.

4. Molly sees riding along for the late-to-school drop off as one of her chief duties in life. We race out the door in this order: Sullen, saggy-pants (and late) Monkey, Dutiful Molly Sue, complete with perky ears and happy tail, irritated 40-something woman sporting pajamas and wild hair. Because of the lateness issue, sometimes I trick her. I tell her there’s a squirrel in the backyard and open the slider so she can race out after it. Then I high-tail it out the front door.

She always knows. When I come back, I know that she will be sitting prettily at the slider, waiting to give me her wicked stink-eye. Then she’ll lie down on her bed with her face to the wall. Then she’ll sigh dramatically. And repeatedly.

Molly Sue would make a great teenage girl.

5.

“I don’t want to look at the camera, and you can’t make me! HMPH!”

6. I wonder if that photo is any good. I think it’s a problem that I have no idea. I’m afraid that I have no eye whatsoever for the whole deal.

That photo is SOOC, as they say, but what if I mess with it a bit?

Is that any better?

I have no idea.

7. I do know enough to know that this photo is terrible.

But I kind of like it. What does that say about me? About my future as a photographer?

What if I mess with it a bit?

Yes? Am I edgy? Innovative? Visionary?

Am I a creative genius just waiting to be discovered?

No?

No?

Is anyone out there?

HMPH!

Random Thursday

1. I had my first photography class this week. It was the second week for everyone else, as I had the privilege of speaking to some lovely mothers of preschoolers during my classmates’ first gathering. This was not a big deal, since Victor assured me that the class would only go over the basics of camera use and he would catch me up in no time.

Little did he know…one of my greatest struggles relates to where I am in the universe in regard to time and space.

This does not lend itself to photography skills like, say, composition. It also does not lend itself to me finding my way to class in a timely manner.

2. The class was busy sharing and critiquing last week’s homework when I arrived, flustered and irritated with myself, and a more than a little discombobulated. I slipped into a seat, smiled sheepishly at Victor, and worked hard to steady my breathing while mentally kicking myself for being, well, me.

A classmate helped me move my settings from Auto to Manual, where they are to remain for the next six weeks. Here, dear friends, is the first photo I took on this photo odyssey.

Yesssss. Nowhere to go but up.

3. I hung out with Victor after class to try and catch up. The previous assignment had been to take backyard photos showing depth of field. He showed me what that means and how to do it. Then he set two jars of pencils on a table, and told me to…

Focus on the near pencil jar so that the far pencil jar is out of focus.

Focus on the far pencil jar so that the near pencil jar is out of focus.

Focus on the lens cap in the middle so that both pencil jars are (more or less) in focus.

And then he set me free.

No, I don’t think he knows what he’s in for, thanks for asking.

4. Yesterday afternoon, Molly and I went out to the backyard to work on my homework.

Molly had no idea what she was in for, either.

I knew that the Manual settings on my camera had been tailored for indoor, low-light use. I kind of vaguely remembered the terms Shutter Speed, F-Stop, ISO, and kind of even more vaguely remembered what they meant. I messed with the first two of those settings, settled my yoga pants in the mulch, and started snapping.

 

 

 

Wait for it….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wait for it……

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeeeaaah.

I messed with some more stuff…

The sun was shining and I couldn’t see much on my LCD display. I thought I was giving Annie Leibovitz a run for her money, so I kept on snapping. I snapped about a million pictures.

Until Molly got cranky..

and bored..

and left.

5. Then I went inside, downloaded one million pictures to the computer…and realized that Annie Leibovitz has nothing to fear.

6. Then I took my Supermodel for a long walk. I sang to her while we walked. Molly Sue loves the sound of my voice. I sang every single Veggie Tales song I could remember. I sang Madame Blueberry, and the Hairbrush Song. I sang His Cheeseburger, and The Bunny. In between each song, I sang that one about the water buffalo. Molly is fairly convinced that she alone doesn’t have a water buffalo, so it was actually kind of mean to keep singing about how everyone else does.

When we passed other people–dog walkers and joggers and such–I hummed whichever of the songs I happened to be singing. I received a couple of knowing smiles that told me I am not alone in my great love of singing vegetables.

7. When we got back home, I gave Molly a couple of her favorite Trader Joe’s dog treats and coaxed her back outside…

..where I got belly-down on the ground and, pretending I was a rock star photographer, instead of the lame and clueless photographer that I am, snapped half a million more photos.

Some Days…

Some days, you have the best laid plans. For example, you plan that after your Tuesday ladies’ Bible study, after lunch with a friend, after a visit to the chiropractor, you will blog about saving the world.

(or something like that)

Some days, you realize that a 60 degree day in the middle of January is not only a blessing from on High, but a high calling as well.

Some days, you bump your save-the-world blog post plans back just a bit to accept the high calling of walking your dog in the sunshine of a 60 degree midwinter’s day.

Some days, you return from your calling to find this

going on in front of your house…

begging you to stop and watch for just a quick minute.

And you watch, with the sun in your eyes, a smile on your face…

..and your good dog in the cheering section.

Some days, you find the fact that your boy’s hiney is always hanging out of his pants

doesn’t make your eyeball twitch quite as much as it normally does.

On those days,

every single shot

ends with a swoosh!