Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Feast To Famine

Today is one of my favorite days of the year....it's Mardi Gras!  This is one day I can wrap my head and my heart around.  I love a good party, therefore Mardi Gras is right up my alley and I happen to smile when I see the colors purple, green and yellow together!  I also love food... so whether it's Mardi Gras or Pancake Day to you, either works for me.  Today is all about indulging or over indulging as the case may be.  Party on!  Eat those pancakes!  Empty the larder!  Throw me something mister!

The first two months of 2017 have been a veritable feast.  I've traveled to some lovely and interesting places.  I've spent time with some of my favorite people. I did not make any ridiculous resolutions this year so my diet has not yet begun.  The signs of excess fun, food and frivolity are beginning to show which can only mean it's time to dial it all back and refocus.  Time to slow it all down, be more introspective and shut out some of the chatter.  Maybe it's time to stay home for a while (maybe...). It's definitely time to use more discipline when it comes to eating and drinking.  Cue Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of 40 days of living simply, praying more and fasting.  Through these practises we are able to focus more on the journey Jesus made for us and prepare for Easter. Time spent living simply can bring my attention away from the material aspects of life and more to the spiritual ones.  By praying more I have something better than the Internet to connect me to something much more important than anything online.  By fasting I am reminded of the discipline it takes to lead good life in the midst of temptation and can remind me there are many who are in need every day.  This leads to one more part of Lent, alms giving.  This is a great time (well, any time is a great time) to give a little more to our favorite charities or give our time generously to those who need us.  Lent is hard work, right?  But hard work reaps great benefits!  One more reason I love Mardi Gras....Ash Wednesday.

Friday, February 17, 2017

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

I did not learn to speak French or Spanish fluently.  I have not become the next great American writer...yet.  So, now I am learning to not become the next Ansel Adams!  Yes...I am taking a photography class.  Another one of my efforts to not let my brain turn to putty.  The good news is...I love it!  The bad news is...I have a lot to learn.  Maybe that is good news too.

TJ gave me a new camera for Christmas, small enough to travel easily but big enough to take decent pictures.  This camera has many settings and options and the only setting I used for the first month was the Auto setting.  I decided I really should learn to use the camera to its full capacity.  Why own a camera that does tricks and never do any tricks?  I am finding out that my little camera can do many tricks!  This makes me very happy!  Now I want to go somewhere other than my neighborhood or my backyard after my classes and practice my new found knowledge each week.  I find myself thinking of my usual photo taking opportunities (grandchildren, sunsets, bonfires, etc.) in my class and how I can utilize my new found skills.  "If only I had known this or that when I was here or there!"  but alas, I am just here....in my house....surrounded by stuff I see every day.  No majestic sunsets, no cattails on fire in the night sky, no waterfalls....just the house I see every day in a neighborhood surrounded by freeways.  Not exactly the stuff that makes a camera jump for joy.

I am sooo looking forward to my next excursion when I can pull out my camera and take control of my aperture or shutter speed and take beautiful photographs.  I have always been a photograph lover and now this class is empowering me.  Watch out everyone!  So far, I have learned....

 to go from this....
to this!
or this...
to this!

not impressed yet?  Come on!  Depth of field....blurred background.... detailed background!  It's my best suburban effort.

I'll try another...
Frozen water
water in motion
All of this with the turn of a button.  Being able to take these pictures makes me want to go sit on a bridge above the traffic just to get one of those pictures of the car lights streaming down the highway.  These are things I have always wanted to do but never knew how to do and my class is teaching me the great mysteries.  Beware blog readers....the pictures on this blog may improve. (Lord willing!)

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Where Did January Go?

January blew right by me this year!  I haven't been home much which may be the reason the month seems to have flown.  Mexico City was followed in quick succession by nine days in Madison with the grandsons while their parents celebrated the other grandparent's 40th wedding anniversary in Maui.  We got freezing rain, sleet, a bit of snow and lots of gray skies while they got blue skies, azure water, whale watching and sunset cocktails.  It was an even exchange I'd say.  I got little boy kisses every night and all the mac and cheese I could eat!

And they made "welcome home" cards for Mommy and Daddy!
Then there was a week and a half spent in Houston recovering from a nasty cold brought on by travel, exhaustion and a carrier husband.  The good news is that it rained many of those days which made me feel a lot like the weather and I had no FOMO on any golf games.

We NEVER have standing water in our back yard...that's a lot of rain!
While I was home I caught up with my other grandson, Logan, and his parents!  It was good to see them.  It is amazing how used to seeing each other we become and then a few weeks away seem like ages!  Logan is changing so fast I hate missing any of it!

The end of January is our annual ski trip to Park City.  We usually have friends and/or family joining us on our trip.  This year, due to schedule conflicts, the Super Bowl, life, and time conflicts none of our usual suspects could join us.  This meant that it was just the two of us!  When your husband works from home, time together is not at a minimum.  I was a bit concerned, I hate to admit, about how so much together time was going to work out.  You see, TJ is an 8:30-4 skier and I'm a 10-3 skier.  He is more aggressive than I am on the slopes so I just knew this was going to be either frustrating for him or very challenging for me.  Plus, all that time together!

We are still both smiling!
The ski gods smiled upon us and the snow conditions and weather were both perfect.  One day I chased TJ down the mountain all day, one day we both chased our friend down the mountain and the last day TJ chased me down the mountain so it worked out well for everyone.  Whenever we ran out of things to talk about we would just look at each other and say,  "What a gorgeous day!" and that was enough.  

A few reasons I love ski trips are.... you get to be outside all day in the fresh air, using muscles that don't get used every day, surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery God created, and at the end of the day there is absolutely no guilt over eating a good meal and going to bed early.  What was I even worried about?!  We also met up with some friends who live in the area which thankfully added  more to the "What a gorgeous day!" conversations.

Who needs conversation when you get to look at this all day?!
After four days and many hours on the mountain, every muscle in my legs, arms and back feel well used.  My face and lips are feeling just a bit wind or sun burned.  And thanks to the untimely death of my flat iron a day ago, my hair looks like I stuck my finger in an electric socket.  Braids and pony tails to the rescue!  I never go anywhere without taming my locks so the first stop when we get home is to buy a new flat iron before I see someone I know!

What is better than a mountain view?  A mountain view at sunset!  Bring on February!
It's nice to have friends in high places....literally!

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