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Finding Beauty in the Season of Brown

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I'm looking at brown - brown tree limbs, brown leaves dangling and then letting go to drift slowly down to carpet the grass. The same grass bare of leaves just a few days ago. Only the sky differs, and it's gray and heavy with another bout of rain.

A hint of green lingers on the grass but will disappear all too quickly.

I'm not fond of this season; I just want to curl up under flannel sheets with a steaming cup of coffee by my side and just read. Mostly, I inhale books that provide mindless entertainment, the type that I send tumbling to the floor when I fall asleep and roll over. The type that when I pick them up, it doesn't matter if I find the "right" spot, because I won't miss much if I don't. Somehow, they're soothing at this time of year.

Right now, those flannel sheets tumble in the dryer, shedding lint like a dog leaving a trail of fur. I love these sheets, soft and rich to the touch, and ready to cocoon me in layers of warmth. But, being new, they take what seems like forever to dry.

Downstairs, traces of last night's homemade turkey soup linger. Each time I wander into the kitchen, the aroma teases my nose and taste buds. I know I can grab another bowl for lunch, and I just might do that. It's more than a bowl of soup; it's all the love that Phil put into this past summer's herbs, the slow and steady mincing of fresh veggies, and the patient wait for it all to blend into something wonderful. Good things really do come to those that wait.

Last Friday, the infamous "Black Friday" that will find me anywhere but a mall, we went a wandering in Virginia's wine country. A Facebook write up intrigued me, inviting me to "walk off my wobble" by climbing a small hill, grabbing a ticket to prove I'd made it to the top, trotting back, and then claiming a house made truffle. I can assure you that the truffle was well worth my climb!

And, I have to fess up, that Phil and I had avoided this winery for the longest time, visiting several others in the area instead. For some reason, its write up had me thinking that it leaned toward the snobby side. (We've inadvertently landed at some of those!), and blue jean clad me wanted to be able to relax...and to afford some wine! 868 Estate Vineyards...doesn't that name sound snobby?...pleasantly surprised us. It has an onsite restaurant to be explore later, but also tons of picnic tables for casual (and inexpensive!) fun, and just a great friendly air about it. The "868" turns out to be the elevation of where their new tasting room will be built, and where we had to climb to claim our truffle. So, a good lesson learned: First impressions aren't always spot on.

I'm meandering here, but then so are my thoughts. Some of them are working on convincing me that it might be a good idea to get at least one set of my physical therapy exercises done. Other thoughts, and rather louder thoughts, take great pleasure in reminding me that I'm going to hurt when I'm done. And, then the first thoughts come back and chortle, "No pain, no gain!" So, at some point, I'll great my teeth and get them done.

Okay, self, it's time to wrap this up. The dryer's buzzing impatiently. Floors desperately need vacuuming and mopping or both.

And those damn exercises need to be done.

So Much Laughter


Snippets of conversation,

Silverware clinking,

diners tucked into tiny booths.

Bright lights overhead countering gloomy skies outside.

Words flowed as the four of us found our places, eyes skimming a menu we knew so well; we hadn't been here in months, maybe even a year. But, we knew it well this place, eating here before PTO meetings, springtime concerts, and more.

We passed around the Iphones, sharing photos of new grandchildren, growing grandchildren, and a condo with a wealth of boxes waiting to be unpacked.

Challenges of caring for aging parents,

memories of former students,

and each of us missing the teaching, the kids,

but not missing the paperwork, lesson planning, and grading.

Four women, reconnecting with each others' lives, and laughing, laughing, laughing.

One, a former nuclear physics engineer and instructor at the naval academy, then moving onto teaching middle school science, and now happily creating gorgeous jewelry and doing tech work at local theaters.

Another, finishing up her last year of teaching, and looking forward to her new job at a rectory, keeping the assigned pastor organized.

The third with her doctorate in special education and a wealth of years as a learning specialist, now cherishing grandchildren scattered across the world.

And, one of us, having left the world of math and ancient history, moving on to writing, journaling, photography, grandkids, and more.

Some of us gray, some of us helped by Miss Clairol.

Some of us trim, others needing to lose a few pounds.

Some of us single; some of us married for a good many years.

All of us in transition, finding our places in this second half of our lives.

The worlds' problems and politics got left by the wayside; it was the reconnecting and catching up with personal lives that mattered. We seemed to hop, skip, and jump among our different lives. I suspect our conversation made very little sense to anyone listening, but we could follow the jumbled varied strings seamlessly.

Each time we meet, we chat less about the school and the students that brought us together. That part of our lives will forever remain important, but it's fading. There's simply too much else happening, too much else to be shared.

There's laughter and much laughter and so many hugs.

This time together is important; the realities and losses in our lives remind us that we won't always have this time.

So, we make the best of it.

We savor the food, but we savor the conversation more.

Four women in the second half of their lives...wise crones, each of us, knowing what's important - our friendship, our connections, both old and new. It's the husbands, the grandbabies, the new careers, the nieces and nephews, the aging parents demanding our care.

It's love, hugs, and laughter.

It's letting go of old hurts, of jobs that defined us for so long, and simply delighting in what's here now, and what's to come.

It's exploring new things and places.

So, we talk.

We hug.

We laugh...oh, do we laugh!

Yeah, I'm That Lady...

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Yeah, I'm that lady -

You know, the one who plays with her food.

But, it's for a good cause, truly it is. Because, you see, I was "on assignment." As in a "Photography Assignment."

I love participating in on line photo groups; they stretch my brain. They keep me thinking "outside the box." (Phil says I need no help what so ever in "thinking outside the box.")

My assignment? Skin. And it had to connect with nature.

I decided I was so not going with my own skin, too common. Too "inside the box."

And, besides, previous photo classes taught me all about surrogates, as in something that could stand in form me.So, I need something else that had skin; I also need inspiration.

Off to the computer to do some research, being very careful what I typed into my friend, Mr. Google.

Very, very careful. Talk about a loaded word.

Deciding that a dictionary/thesaurus would be a good place to start, I partnered with Mr. Google, and soon learned that besides being "the natural protective body covering and the site of sense and touch," it could also mean "bark," "surface," "pelt or hide." It could also mean "struggle or scrape" as well as "living aliveness."

"Peel or pare" got my attention. I had apples. I had oranges. I had knives.

Off I went, deciding I was hungrier for the orange.

Then the fun began...

I arranged my peels on cloth and on plates. I fussed and fiddled with them, looking for the most interesting bits.

And, I took a ton of shots with my Iphone's native camera as well as the Hipstamatic App. Let me tell you, I got some real duds. Some perfectly ugly pictures.

But, I'm kind of liking the one above, being in love with the colors and the textures. It intrigues me, and partly, it amuses me.

After all, to be perfectly honest, I am posting a photo of garbage. But, it's such interesting garbage!

Now, it just needs a clever name, and I have to fess up that I don't have a clue at the moment. If you do, please let me know, okay?


The Cows Couldn't Offer Any Help


Yesterday, I spent time picking...well, watching my husband and twit#1 picking...about 55 pounds of apples. And, for just a few minutes, I tried a bit of conversation and mind melding with the cows and their leader - that big guy in the center, otherwise known as a bull.

Mostly, I shot photos while the picking commenced, but when I got home I noticed that my I Phone and I Pad weren't not playing nicely together. The phone insisted on hogging its photos all to itself, which annoyed me no end. My eyes wanted the photos on the I Pad; its screen is bigger, and I edit far more easily.

But, nope; not gonna happen; the phone just pitched a fit, ending in typical fashion, just sitting there, mocking me. Turning it off and on didn't help; resetting it didn't help. So, I did the smart thing and went to bed, hoping for better luck in the morning.

I wish I could tell you that I woke up, and ta-da, the photos had taken up dual citizenship on my I Pad. I wish I could tell you that, but I can't.

So, at 5:30 this morning, my good friend, Mr. Google and I chatted. Mr. Google kindly sent me on my way the the Apple Help Page. The first several responses caused my eyes to cross, me to say a few choice words, and then to wonder why my two devices still carried on their feud, and why I shouldn't just chuck both of them right out the window.

Phil snored away; I thought about waking him up, but in the interest of a happy household and marriage, chose not to do so. You see, he's not an Apple guy, and he'd just do the same thing, go see Mr. Google. He'd then end up on the Apple Help Page, begin to swear, and we'd have two unhappy cranky people in this household. No, not a good choice.

So, I continued to plow through responses to this particular problem (Apparently, it happens fairly frequently.) trying various suggestions, none of them seeming to work.

And, then, I read it, that horrible piece of news. If I did manage to work a miracle between the two feuding parties, the photos I shot yesterday would remain on the phone alone. There was no fixing matters after the fact.

According to Apple, I needed to do various magic things and then try shooting another photo, and see if it appeared on my I Pad.

So, I did.

And, it did!

Yay! Somewhere along the line this poor 62 year old brain, hit the right combination of buttons and sliders.

Yesterday's photos offer two options: 1) Just edit them on the phone and suck it up as far as dealing with that tiny screen. 2) Email every blasted photo to myself, save it, and then edit it.

I think I'll go with Option #1.

Oh, the cows? I suspect they're still standing around chewing their cud. Their fearless leader, Mr. Bull stands guard at the fence, daring the apple pickers to come closer. And, a few young ones periodically, kick up their heels in glee, frolicking away, not a care in their world.

None of them could care less about my photos of apples. I mean, they didn't even want anything to do with eating the apples a few brave souls offered up yesterday. I think they are completely over apples.

And, it could be that I'm completely over them as well, at least for the next few days. Did you notice that I chose to edit a photo of some cows, and not some apples? Granted, this is a dslr shot, but still, NO APPLES!

P.S. Photographing completely black, or nearly completely black cows is not an easy thing.




Listening to the sound of the furnace, cycling off and on, more on that off, as it works against the bitter cold outside.

Eating Chinese food: shrimp and fried rice. It feels good to be starting to eat "real" food again, as I get used to these new teeth!

Drinking a glass of wine as I watch Downton Abbey with Phil, tea and coffee during the day.

Wearing a comfortable pair of black sweats with an old gray tie dyed sweat shirt,along with thick fuzzy socks as needed.


Feeling a bit blue that we weren't able to head to the beach today; Mother Nature conspiring to send our first sizable snowstorm last night. Looking forward to heading out tomorrow though.

Sunny weather, but bitterly cold; snow covered branches today against a crisp blue sky. I'm content to be holed up inside reading part of the stash from McKay's Used Books.

Wanting to be watching the waves ebb and flow...tomorrow this time, God willing, I'll be in Bethany Beach.

Needing some couple time with Phil, just to relax, talk, and dream, or simply snuggle up together and read.

Thinking of all the places we might go wandering - Lewes, Berlin, Rehoboth, me with my camera tucked in my hands. Also thinking that I'll get to try some of the new iphone camera tricks I've been learning! Can't wait to try a few night shots, if I can manage the cold that is.

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Enjoying time in my studio, creating this journal page out of the "throwaways" on my art table...using up left over paint, and creating something from nothing. No plan, just pure play, seeing what happens.

Enjoying continuing to work on my collaged art deck, fitting random bits and pieces together.

Looking Like a Bobblehead Doll


Disclaimer: This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this post...I just like it!

I made myself as comfortable as I possibly could in the chair and looked around. Ah, pastel blues and golds on the wall, meant to be soothing, and if I hadn't spied the tray with the instruments of torture in plain view, I probably would not have had to resort to some deep breathing.

They really should cover that tray.

Dr. E entered and greeted me warmly, with a cheerful, "How are you doing?"

"I'm here," was about all I could manage.

I continued to sign paperwork; so much paperwork. Paperwork in the lobby. Paperwork in the dental chair. Paperwork that told me everything that could go wrong.

And, then the fun began...oral surgery which lasted 3 1/2 hours, involving about 25 shots.

I can only estimate the number of shots since I stopped counting at 18.

I can't tell you the exact number of rosaries I prayed either, not even trying to keep count.

And, there was a lot of deep breathing along with forcing myself to relax into the chair, no easy feat, especially as I heard the drill and knew it was drilling into my jawbone.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

And, it was over. Done.

But not quite.

The plan was for the nice doc to pull teeth, put in some implants, and give me my new teeth.

Teeth pulled. Check.

New titanium implants. Check. (Will I set off security alarms? Well, guess I'll find that one out!)

New implants. Nope...too much swelling.

Go home, take your meds, relax (yeah, right) and come back on Friday. Oh, and are you in pain?


Would you like me to numb you again.

No, thanks!!!

Forward 24 hours: I looked in the mirror and  realized my face was swelling...yikes, an allergic reaction to the meds.

Phil called the dentist, who said to substitute Tylenol for one med, and to take myself immediately to the emergency room if my throat swelled and I had trouble breathing.

My face continued to swell, but luckily my throat never did...but I sure was rocking the bobble head doll look!

The 6 year old grand did a double take when he saw me. I reassured him that it would go away. He pronounced it weird but not scarey. And, God bless that child, after the initial gaze of disbelief, continued to visit with me and hug me.

Oh, yeah, I also now sported some bruises on my face and could only eat smooth, cold food.

Talk about being hungry! Nothing like being told you can't eat to make you want to eat.

I have now graduated to hot food...still pretty much whatever doesn't need to be chewed, which really does limit options.

The bruises are faded, and I've been back to the doc again, but since there is still some swelling, have to wait a few more days to get the teeth.

Life is just a bit surreal at this moment, but honestly, as I sat in that chair, I realized that while it was painful and I was NOT having fun, better things lay ahead. I'm not fighting cancer or some other major illness, and other folks had gotten through the procedure. I could and would, as well.

Life does seem to be a sort of comedy of errors, though!



Cranky Pants in the Snow


Outside my window, huge white snowflakes are drifting toward the grass and sidewalks. It's a beautiful, calming snow, and it's settling me down.

I am thinking that I need to get over my cranky self. As I told my sister, none of what is making me cranky is a huge calamity, not even a small calamity. So, to quote Ms. Taylor Swift, I need to "Shake it off!"

I am thankful for this time to just journal and play with art supplies, to process what I'm feeling, and to not let it get its talons into me. Art play is such good therapy!

From the kitchen, the dishwasher is calling to me, "Come unload me, already!" Then, fill me up and let me do my thing. I wish I could tell you there are delicious smells wafting up to me studio, but, alas, it's peanut butter and jelly time. Although, I think I might brew some tea and add orange infused honey to it.

I am wearing my cleaning clothes - baggy sweat pants and a tshirt. Styling, I'm not.

I am creating tons of journal pages. Getting back into the flow of it has been tricky and has progressed in fits and starts. I'm rusty for sure, but I'm still loving it.

I am going to art classes with Seth Apter this weekend...the first on my birthday. Not a bad present, huh?

I am reading The Magic Art of Tidying Up. The author is fairly preachy, and she's absolutely sure hers is the only way to declutter, a bit off putting. But, I'm plowing through and taking what I can use. The house is slowly getting there, and space is opening up, which I love.

I am hoping to get back into the rhythm of blogging as freshen up the blog and to publish it more often. I've written tons of posts in my mind, but I haven't put the keyboard to work.

I am hearing the clickety clack of the keys as I type and the sounds of muted traffic.

Around the house, things wait to be sorted and put away. The dryer just buzzed, wanting me to go rescue the load of jeans.

One of my favorite things is dark chocolate, and I think I have some stashed away...with sea salt no less!

A few plans for this week - subbing tomorrow and art classes over the weekend.

5 Really Good Things

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1. Summer fruits and veggies! Right now, I'm savoring fresh peaches with cottage cheese, sprinkled lightly with chai sugar. I really would love a Starbucks iced chai...but, well....I've read the nutrition label. This is my way to get just a hint of chai! And summer's flowers ...oh,my...thank you, Mother Nature.

2. A husband that grows his own herbs, grills those summer veggies which then taste awesome, smokes ribs and whole chickens, and well this is why I need to read nutrition labels.

3. Getting my postcards with my photos on them in the mail this week and then sending them out to the world. Sending and getting cool mail is one of life's pleasures.

4. Having time to leisurely read the paper, do the crossword and suduko puzzles.

5. Working again in my art journal, relaxing, and enjoying this personal form of meditation.

Thank you, Liz, for your 5 really good things, which I read early this morning, and which prompted this post.

Photo Heart Connection: April

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April's Photo Heart Connection nearly got away from me, and I would have been sorely disappointed had it done so! And, at first, I thought, "Oh, no. I really didn't take many photos last month."

Uhm, no, not so. Not even close. I'd forgotten just how much bumming Phil and I had accomplished. We put many a mile on our gypsy shoes....what a wonderful partner in crime, I've got!

So, tons of photos, right? And, here's where a little knowledge becomes a dangerous thing. As I looked at each photo, I began overthinking should have used aperature priority mode here. This one? A faster shutter speed would have equalled a crisper shot. And so on, and so on, and so on. Or, as they say in "The King & I," etc. etc. etc.!

Lack of techinical expertise aside, I love this shot. It evokes time with Phil, just the two of us. Great conversation over great food. And, I love Frederick, MD...the colors, the architecture, and an array of wonderfully unique shops. (I did some serious damage at "Metro Retro!") Best of all? There's two...not one, but two....dangerously awesome chocolate shops. I patrionized both, of course.

Clickety clickety on the button below, and go a visiting. There's some seriously cool photography to check out, but better yet, are the stories that go with the photos.


It Works for Me!

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Over at Artsyville, inquiring minds would like to know, "What's working for you?" After mulling it over for a few days...and quite frankly, being brain dead, for most of those days, I've compiled my list:

...vanilla spice lattes from Starbucks

...macro lenses

...wide angle lenses walks

....curling up with a good book (Just picked up J.D. Robb's newest!)

...Suduko and crossword puzzles at the end of the day

...early morning prayer time in our school chapel

...dark chocolate sea salt caramels

...working my way through Trader Joe's coffees


...photoshop elements

...weekend time with the "grands"

...making lists

...picking up homemade pierogis and halushki on Fridays during Lent

...destashing and decluttering time in the studio

...sending/receiving cards through Postcrossings

...having my photographs printed as postcards and sending them through the mail

How about you? What's working right now?