Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oh Holy Night

On the way home last night, I missed my turn and ended up going through "Christmastown USA." "Dang it," I thought. "It's going to be 9pm before I get home now." I had four hours of sleep in me, was hungry, and I was worried about one of our dogs who had been sick. Perfect. This is really great. I braked hard and braced for another shot of frustration. The cars were bumper to bumper.

People were walking in the street; even little kids. "Shouldn't they be in bed by now? It's a school night." Grrrrr. People had their headlights off so I reached over to turn mine off as well. I crept along a foot at a time. The engine and my mind wanted to go faster. I resisted and dropped the roadster into low gear. I didn’t want the motor to whine going down the hill so slow.

My face was flushed. I was hot. I rolled down the window. It was a beautiful night. Cool and crisp. How had I overlooked how pretty it was outside? I turned off the blaring radio. I could hear Christmas music playing in the distance. It was “Oh Holy Night.”

A car in the oncoming lane had their sunroof open and a little head poked through it. "Merry Christmas," he said. "Merry Christmas." This little man, of maybe four, was wishing everyone he passed a Merry Christmas. I smiled at him and waved. So stinkin’ cute.

It was in that moment, I was reminded of the true spirit of Christmas. I vowed to slow down and really appreciate the simple beauty of the season… before it passes right by me.

Savor the details.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Ending of an Occupation

My dad, who is in his 80s, has successfully sold most of his large farm equipment on eBay - combine, grain truck, wagons, cultivators, etc. He had a friend help him with the technology and he handled the negotiations. I'm proud of him for taking this on.

Last night when I talked to Dad, I sensed a little sadness in his voice when he spoke about people coming over and buying the equipment. It's an end to his career and a pretty clear indication that none of us kids will be taking over the farm.

At one point, I never imagined anything other than farming. It's how I grew up and what I knew best. Living off the land and being your own boss is the American dream. Isn't it? No one to tell you what to do and how to do it. I  imagined living in a cute farm house with cats and dogs; maybe a few livestock. It would be a lifestyle right out a child's storybook.

But the reality is really much different. Farming is hard work. The pay is unpredictable and the hours are long. It is dusty, dirty work too. The mud never really comes out from under your nails. Just thinking about it, I can still smell the Goop hand cleaner that my Dad used to take the grease off his hands at night.

Farming is physically demanding and often dangerous. Back surgeries are common; as are hernias. And it can be lonely. You are often left by yourself working a field most of the day. Your only companion a radio, a cell phone and someone who brings you a sack lunch.

As a child I can remember packing sandwiches and taking them with my mom to the field for a lunch time picnic. We'd sit in the shade of the tractor eating our lunch. Dad liked candy bars so there was always a Butterfinger or Snickers bar waiting at the bottom of the picnic basket.

Dad loves the land and can grow just about anything. His green thumb runs deep in his veins. He comes from a family of farmers. His father farmed and nearly all his brothers and sister's families live off the land. But this heritage will not be passed down to my siblings or me. It is an ending of an occupation for my Dad and really for our family. It was an occupation that was so much more than a check that paid the bills. This rural lifestyle has formed who I am today and know I am truly blessed.

Savor the details.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just Not the Same

I love Willy Wonka Bottle Caps. The Coke flavored ones are delicous and brings back memories of my childhood. I only buy them at Halloween so it's been a year since I've had them. This year though, at least in the theater-sized box, they've changed the shape. They are thicker and don't have the concave middle. They are harder to bite into and crunch now. I'm disappointed that my favorite non-chocolate candy is no longer my favorite.

Savor the details.
Old version
New version

Friday, September 30, 2011

Mindful Eating

This Eat Mindfully stuff is sinking in. I went to lunch today and thought - "Hmmm... Nova's Tuxedo Cake, I'll have a piece." Two bites and I thought, "this really not all that good and certainly not worth the extra calories. If I'm going to have a treat like this it better be fantastic."

Help! I've been brainwashed and I've turned into a food snob. Unbelievable.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do a Good Deed Day

It must be Do a Good Deed Day. While headed out the door of work to pick up a coworker who's car had been towed, a homeless man asked me for money. I stopped giving homeless people money a while ago. So, I asked, "What are you going to do with the money?" He said, "buy food." I said, "What kind of food do you like, I'll see what I can do on my way back in." I think he was initially a little taken back but said he'd like Wendy's. There's one really close by so I swung by there on my way back into work. By the time I had gotten back, campus security had pushed him out to the city street. I gave him the food. He seemed appreciative. I wonder how people fall off the tracks? And where's their family? 

Be kind to others and help someone today. It really makes you feel good.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lunch Sketchers

Lunch Sketchers = Quick and fun sketches done over lunch.

I tried to capture the energy behind flyball. It's a crazy loud sport my dogs really enjoy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Motivational Posters

Have you been to despair.com? The motivational posters crack me up.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Begging for "Change"

I was sitting at BoJangles eating my lunch and reading a magazine. In front of me pops a man, who is asking for change to buy gas. He has dark sunglasses on but is reasonably dressed in shorts and a button down cotton shirt, baseball hat down low. I look at my purse next to me. There's no money inside. I used it all over the weekend. There's change but I don't really trust this guy enough to look down again and fish change out of my wallet.

"No, sorry. No cash," I say. I wonder where he's going to put the gas since he doesn't have a gas can with him.

He quickly moves to another woman eating alone and asks for change. I see her give his a few coins and he exits the restaurant.

I can see him moving from car to car at the nearby stoplight. I assume he's asking for more change. He goes over to the AutoBell across the street and they shoo him away. He is circling around the stopped cars at the light again - like a buzzard. That thought makes me cold and I wonder if I've really become that judgmental.

I finish my sandwich and stop to talk to the woman who gave him change. She said she gave him 40 cents because it was "just 40 cents and it wouldn't break her." I told her that I didn't give him money. She said she's been burned before by panhandlers and usually doesn't give them money and didn't feel good about giving him money but did so anyway. I wished her well and left.

As I was approaching the light to cross, I see the beggar pull from the bushes a bicycle. He jumps on it and rides off down the road. I shake my head. I guess it wasn't gas he was wanting to buy with his money after all.

He was begging for change but it's not the kind of change you'll find in your wallet. It's the kind of change you will find within yourself.

Savor the details.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Think I Can. I Think I Can.

We started Sissy, our retriever mix (?) in flyball about six weeks ago. She's a great dog but a worrier. I can see the stress of learning something new in her face. She doesn't pick up new things as easily as the Border Collie but still loves to go.

She especially loves to swim in the doggie pool after class when there's time. She paddles out to the deep end, swims around, and comes back out in the zero entry only to slither back into the deep end from the side of the pool. She loves water; swimming around in circles and lapping it up.

I'm not sure she'll ever be a flyball dog like Susie, the Border. I don't know how she would handle the tournament stresses. It's very loud, dogs everywhere, staying in a hotel, and the worst part - the crate.

She's not crate trained. I've been working on it slowly by feeding her meals in the crate most evenings. I think it's only causing her to gobble up her dinner even quicker so she can be done and get out faster. She goes into the crate just fine. She doesn't freak out anymore when I slide the noisy latch over to lock the crate. Sissy seems ok in there if I leave her alone for a few minutes after she eats. But eventually, she barks and whines to be let out. Normal for crate training but I have a soft spot in my heart for this one.

We don't know her history. She's a rescue and found us when she was 1.5 years old and a thin 32lbs. She stared at me from behind the kennel wires, begging to let her out, play with her, and give her a chance. We did and somewhere around the 5th kiss on the cheek we were hooked. That sweetness in her eyes, that look of despair, and willingness to please has to surely be part Golden Retriever but I'm not sure.

I hope she can pick up flyball and all the chaos that goes with the sport. If not, that's fine too. She won us over five years ago from the behind those kennel bars; a desperate black dog with statistics working against her. She was looking for a new family and some people to love and maybe just maybe learn a new sport.

Savor the details.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cars the Talk

Occassionally I see some pretty odd/interesting things on cars.
Here's a few:

I don't think I want someone doing my construction project when they have their back window taped together with duct tape.
I'm just saying...

I see this a lot here in the south. Cars in memory of someone. Does that mean they used the insurance money to buy the vehicle?
I'm serious - I don't quite understand this.

There's a window air conditioner in this truck.
Note: the windows are down and it's like 100F so I'm thinking it's not working.

Savor the details.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What a FInd

I really love it when people let their guard down and are themselves. No worries about trying to impress. No doubts over if what you say or do is politically correct. Most people, in the work environment at least, aren't themselves. There's some unwritten rule that in order to advance you need to wiggle your way into conversations, brag heavily about your accomplishments, not listen to others, and basically think you know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING. It's comical.

Often times while this is happening, I enjoy just kicking back and observing it all unfold. I stay quiet and watch others. They say that 80% of our body language is non verbal. This I believe. Unintended eye rolls, sighs and clock watching is not usual while all the holy-moly bologna swirls in the air like a Harry Potter spell.

Two days ago, a coworker of mine found this Hercules Rhino Beetle in the parking lot around the street. She was so proud of her find. She brought it back into the office. Cupped in the palm of her hand, she proudly went from office to office displaying her new find. She was acting childlike and from a 50-something, it was totally refreshing. I smiled when she came into my office and asked me if I wanted to touch her find. "It's so soft. Just touch it." "It smells like a Stink Bug," is what I was thinking. The beetle did not look real. It was dead but maintained it's perfect shape and shiny shell. "Unbelievable," was what I said. "It's perfect!"

"Just perfect." But I didn't just mean the dead beetle. Perfect was her reaction to the find. As if she was a two year old discovering a hidden plastic Easter egg in August. She showed us all her true side; her curiosity with Mother Nature who can be so surprising and beautiful. She didn't care what we thought of her parading a dead beetle around the office as if it's her turn at show and tell. She just didn't care and I loved that.

Savor the details.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Quick Bite

Lunch at Panera. I love their salads and I usually head there later in the day so I miss the rush. There's a very nice woman that works there. She's chatty, funny and knows me by name. It's nice to get out of the office and go somewhere where the food is good and people know you.

I quickly munched away. A last minute rush job waiting for me back at the office didn't leave me with much time for lunch. Happy though because supper involved friends and pizza, who cares if lunch is short and salad.

I took note of the people surrounding me; an older gentleman with his 3pm coffee, a 40 something dad on his earpiece chatting away while his pre-teen son sat in front of him - totally bored, three friends who had never been to Panera and took an unusually long time to decide what they were going to eat while I patiently waited behind them, a casually dressed business man (a banker I would guess) eating at the table directly in front of me.

I brought with me the local, small town paper that was in my car. Skimming through it reminded me of the paper I grew up reading. There was usually someone mentioned that I knew in it. After 15 years here in the south, I rarely know anyone in this paper.

I glanced up to take inventory again. The 40 something dad was off the phone and asking his son to "promise" to do something. The older gentleman was lost in thought with his coffee. I caught his eye and he smiled at me. A kind smile and a reminder of why I love the south. The new customers were nodding and enjoying their lunch. And the casual business man was gone. Mostly. He left his plates on the table. I wondered what makes someone think it's just fine to leave their mess on the table and expect another to pick up after them? There are clearly garbage containers in the restaurant. I bet his wife picks up after him at home. Maybe his mama never taught him manners? Maybe he's been called back to the perform life-saving surgery? Maybe he's Superman? Who knows...

I quickly finished up and dutifully stacked my plate, silverware, and bowl by the garbage. No one would be picking up my mess. I'm perfectly capable and really grateful that my life isn't not so rushed that I can't do this small task.

Savor the details.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mr. Toad

Look who visited me last night on the back steps. Mr. Toad nice of you to show up for your photo shoot.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Looking for Lincoln"

I watched the film "Looking for Lincoln." It is a part of the traveling American Library exhibit. The film examines the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln and is written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

I had no idea Lincoln was such a victim of his own moral contradictions and by today's standards would be considered a racist. Or that's what the movie leads you to believe. Or maybe that's just what Gates wants you to believe. I don't know. I really don't remember learning anything about Lincoln in school. It seems like I would have at some point but I don't recall.

The film is shot in a "60 Minutes" format with many Lincoln experts being interviewed. I found it annoying how many cut away to Gates there was and at one point, I swear he was using his walking cane in the other side. Did I really need to see Gates reading Lincoln's manuscript, Gates walking around a museum, Gates at Gettsyburg? It seems over the top in cockiness.

Overall the film was thought provoking and introduced new ideas to me about Lincoln. Perhaps he was human after all?

Savor the details.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I Will Send a Check Soon

Last Saturday, I volunteered at the local spay/neuter clinic. It wasn't surgery day so it wasn't too hectic. I made the ID kennel cards and bands for the pets who would be coming in for surgery. While I was there at the front desk, a woman came in who said she had called about receiving some donated food yesterday. Mike came up to the front and she was given a bag of dog and cat food. She left with a huge smile on her face and said, "I will send a check soon. I start my new job next week and I just didn't want to give up my babies because I could not afford to feed them. Bless you." It was heartwarming and heartbreaking all at the same time.

The economy has put many people out of work, unable to find a job, and with a limited income coming in; tough decisions have to be made. I hope I'm never in that situation. I can't imagine having to give up my pets because I can no longer afford to feed them. They are very much a part of our family. I talk to them... outloud. I poke fun of them. I play games with them. I love them. I can't ever imagine giving them up.

At the clinic, that moment I felt very proud. Not only does the clinic offer affordable surgeries to help with animal overpopulation but it also provides pet food to those in need. It made me want to do more to help people out until they could get back up on their feet and it got me thinking about a new project. Stay tuned for more details.
Here are a few photos I took of the resident cats at the clinic. Savor the details.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


When I least expect it, someone expresses heartfelt thanks. It always catches me off guard; this honestly and sincere gratitude. It's unscripted and often emotional. When I'm old and look back at my life, these are the moments that I will remember.

Savor the details.

Fair Warning

Do not eat the white jelly beans with yellow markings. BBBBBLLLLLEEEECKKKK! They are buttered popcorn. Disgusting!

But fun to balance on your nose.

Savor the details.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Beginner's Grace by Kate Braestrup

May you comport yourselves with dignity and treat others and yourselves with kindness.
May you remember to say 'I'm sorry' when it counts
And 'I love you' when it's hard to say that therefore matters most.
May you both express and experience thankfulness.
May this be a life of courage, kindness, and honor. May it be a life of joy. Amen

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Someone told me about Tagxedo. It's a website which pulls words from any url and you choose what shape, color, etc. you want and it fills the shape with the words. I thought this was a neat idea and it's so easy to use. Give it a try.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Irises

I brought the flowers inside so there was no wind. I'm pretty pleased with how these turned out. I was experimenting a good bit with exposure, shutter speed and the flash. Savor the details.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bugs in the Yard

I have a whole zoo of aphids on this plant and it's a bug eat bug world. Savor the details.

Friday, April 15, 2011

More Sketch Club

Another sketch from Steve's Sketch Club. This week is a skull. Having fun with these and it's pretty interesting to see the different styles. Check it out at http://www.pencildreams.com/.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I love irises. I have some in the yard and they are blooming. I can't wait to get back out there and take some more photos. Savor the details.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spiral Staircase Handrail

The spiral staircase handrail is coming along. We are long overdue for a handrail.