Sunday, December 30, 2012

Movin' on...

I have to chuckle and cringe whenever I get one of those year-in-review letters.  They are usually from people who I haven't seen in forever, haven't spoken to for so long, no longer associate with, and have absolutely nothing to do with my life.  The letters usually start out noting how busy the author has been because of all the wonderful happenings in their life.  Then they go on to list all the fabulous events of the year...none of which I was included in.  Please, I say, continue...I love it when you make me feel such a part of your life.

Ease into 2013 with some homemade
oatmeal chocolate chip pretzel cookies...yum!

Oh, don't misunderstand or get the wrong impression.  I love my life...I have everything I need, I am blessed, I am satisfied, I am lucky, I am grateful.  What I am, however, is simply amazed.  I'm amazed at how these people who just stated how busy they were, have been able to find the time to write this six-page letter and recall every single event of the past year.  Did they make notes over the course of the year in their organizers specifically for the purpose of composing this novella?  Now that's organized!

Relax in 2013 with delicious French milled
soap of milk, honey, wild almonds, and oats...hmmm.

Well, there will be no such letter from me...ever.  Unless I filled the pages with little white lies and exaggerations, you would be reading about all the run-of-the-mill, mundane, normal events of my days.  When I want to tell you something, I'll call you or e-mail you or visit you or, if it's for public consumption, blog about it.  So, as I read these wonderful letters and as 2012 quickly fades into the sunset, I'm desperately trying to recall the stellar events of my life during the past 365 days.  OK, give me a couple of minutes....I'm thinking...still thinking...still thinking....I should have made notes...I'll get back to you.  Right now, I'm movin' on to 2013.

Get a grip on life (or try) in 2013 with some meditations and reflections...breath.

Happy New Year Everyone!
May it be healthy, happy, joyful, and prosperous!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


(A Weekly Top Shot entry)

When I arrived at work on Friday, there was a box on my desk. Usually this is not an unusual occurrence…especially at this time of year. We get gifts from all over because we have business contacts all over but, this box was different. It immediately brought me back to a place when life was a lot simpler, a lot slower, and maybe a lot tastier.

I suddenly recalled, as a child, going to the local bakery with my aunt or mother for cookies. You know those cookies…the ones that are bursting with butter, dipped in chocolate or sandwiching sweet jelly, coated with colorful sprinkles, or rolled out so thin they became lacy. And when your order was placed, you were guaranteed to find a hand reaching over the glass case with a sample just for you.
With your fingers wrapped tightly around that red and white cord, you carried that box home like it was a sacred treasure. After all, you didn’t want to find any broken cookies when that special cord was cut from the box. Those cookies were joined by a glass of cold milk and, this simple routine, this recurring exercise, became a bit of heaven.  It’s amazing what a simple box of cookies can do for you…it brings to mind comfort, quiet times, security.
All gone!
Dear Robin, thanks for these memories and Merry Christmas!
To all...hoping your Christmas and this holiday season is as sweet and delicious as these cookies were and you are blessed with love, peace, hope, and prosperity in the coming New Year.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Finding your niche...

(A Weekly Top Shot entry)

When I got my very first 'adult' camera, I was 22 and newly married.  I loved all those dials and settings and lenses and...and...and...that's were the love affair ended.  I just couldn't wrap my head around apertures, ISOs, focal lengths, DOF, and shutter speeds (still having problems with that one).  But I struggled through it.

When my son was born in 1977, I moved from the fully manual Yashica to a Canon Rebel....yippee! no more manual focusing.  But between taking care of a baby and working and commuting, the camera stayed on automatic and, over the years, there wasn't really that much time to devote to taking photographs.  What I was taking were of my son doing everything and anything, family get-togethers, holidays, etc.

Fast forward to 2012...I think I'm finally taking photographs.  But, I recently reviewed what I'm shooting and I don't think I've found a niche...a subject that I truly love to the point where I want to explore every aspect of the it, know it inside and out and, most importantly, be expert at it.  Actually, I'd love to be expert at everything I shoot but that's not going to happen.  So, I may not be an expert, but I know what I like...scenery, still life, florals, and macros, playing with depth of field and experimenting with natural light.  Don't ask me to take a photo of a person (even if that person is willing to step in front of my lens) or use a flash (I'd rather up my ISO).

So, have you found your niche?  Have you found the 'thing' that lights up your passion?  I wonder what will happen if and when I find mine.  Photokismet maybe?

Some things I liked this past weekend...including the heavy fog...


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Eat Hearty...

You're standing in a checkout line and the person behind you is standing way too close and sniffling and coughing all over the back of your neck.  You're at the ATM and the person in front of you just sneezed all over the touch screen.  Or the person in the bathroom stall next to you just left without washing their hands.  Ahhhhhh, you know that feeling....the 'Good God, I think I'm coming down with a cold and the holidays are around the corner' feeling.  What to do, what to do.

I came home from work Thursday night with that dreaded feeling.  I could feel something lurking, I could feel something sinister waiting to attack.   But noooooo, not so fast bud!  I've got homemade soup, whole grain bread, and a bottle of wine here and you don't stand a chance.  Besides, I'm on vacation tomorrow and you won't ruin my day off!

So that's what I did...I ate something hearty.  I heated up some homemade cabbage soup, toasted up some wonderful thick slices of bread (with dipping oil, of course), and opened up a bottle of red.  And, just in case I needed reinforcements, this was followed, at bed time, by a shot of Tylenol Multi-Symptom Nighttime Cold Medicine.

Bully Hill Vineyards I Love My Goat red wine...
I am not a wine connoisseur so, if you see this wine
in the +$15/bottle section of your liquor store, someone
has made a mistake.  Return to the $8.99/bottle section.

And all is right with the world....until the next 'attack.'  It's the cold and flu safe everyone!

T-J Miracle Soup
(from Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, Washington for Overweight Heart Patients)
  • 6 large onions
  • 2 green peppers
  • whole tomatoes (fresh or canned) - I use canned diced tomatoes and do not drain.
  • 1 head of cabbage
  • large stalk of celery
  • season with dry onion soup mix
Cut up all the vegetables and cover with water in a large post.  Boil 10 minutes.  Cover, lower heat and simmer until the vegetables are soft.

Yes, this soup is great if you're dieting.  You can eat as much as you's claim is that it does not add any calories.  However, beware if your system is sensitive to know what I mean.  It freezes well and everyone in my family loves it.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Pull Up Tree

I have been notorious over the years for extremely large Christmas trees...trees that require me to move furniture out of the room and, at one point, out of the house; trees that prevented you from easily getting into the living room; trees that, once decorated, could not be moved and had to be placed on plywood and slid across the carpeting.  But everyone has got 'tree stories.'  I have many friends who no longer put up a Christmas tree and some who are getting their very first tree.

My attitude long as I can get around, I'm going to have a tree.  However, I realized last year that I could no longer safely handle the 7 1/2 foot tree stored in the attic.  Getting it down from the attic took five trips and that did not include the decorations.  And then there was the two step stools and ladder from the basement needed to decorate it.  The whole process took me 2 to 3 days.

So this year I've made a change.  You might say I'm's really not a tree.  But, I couldn't resist the ease of this thing - it took 10 minutes to put up.  I didn't have to move furniture out of the room and it came decorated.  I did add my favorite brass star for the top and some additional special ornaments and balls but the lights were already there and most ornaments.

And when the holiday is over, the tree will come down with the decorations attached, the pole it hangs on will come apart in two pieces and put in the box with the stand and it will all fit under a bed or in the back hallway.  Yes, Martha Stewart would probably cringe but I'm's a good thing.

Happy decorating!