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Friday, December 31, 2010

The Shadows Lengthen


shadows of pinesRemember that I said I missed an interesting shadow shot? I was able to capture it (almost) a few days later. Even though the sun was only two or three days different, I swear the shadows aren't the same as the first time I saw them. After all the years we've been here, I had never, ever noticed how the sun comes through those pines in the late afternoon of an early winter day. There is always something new to see!

And I thought the whole imagery of shadows moving would be a fitting idea to close out the year of 2010. There are always changes... and like the shadows they move and shift. Some images grow while others shrink. We are here chasing those situations around, trying to interpret them, and to make the best of our lives in the midst of the swirling stream of events.

As I mentioned briefly, I will begin training for a part-time job next week. The reason that I have to do something like this is because I just haven't been able to make enough money to sustain life with only my self-employment income. If you are interested in my attempts to make money online, you can read the long Year End Report 2010. That doesn't represent my entire income, but, sadly, quite a bit of it.

I'll be a Field Data Collector for a company that takes contracts from insurance companies. I will go to homes of people who want to buy insurance and measure the buildings and take pictures. Then I come home, draw basic plans and send it all to the company via the internet. I like the flexibility of it all, but I was hoping for about 10 hours a week, and they are predicting 20 hours.

Therefore, I have no idea what impact this will have on blogging and writing. For sure, I will be keeping up this blog- it's my favorite. I'm also sure that some of the others will have to have more relaxed schedules.

I have no idea if I'll be able to take an extended summer hike or not. I'm trying to not think about that yet. I've worked really hard over the past 20 years to build a sustainable (at some level) lifestyle that allowed me real freedom, but with the loss of my two biggest web site clients, I'm in trouble. This is all crimping my style, a lot, but I can't continue to run a negative balance on the cash drawer, so to speak.

Well, this second picture was taken just an hour later than the first one. See how much things have changed? And they are brighter, too. Maybe it will work the same way for me, and this job.

shadows of pines



Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Best of 2010


Most years I make an informal list of some of the "bests." Since I reported on 2009, I guess I should do likewise for 2010. Lists may not always have the same categories. Years aren't all the same! Since I've been writing and blogging like crazy, I've written more about many of these things... hence the links.

Best Recipe Finds
Actually, these are both adaptations of old favorites to make them more healthy.
Holiday Jello- the recipe is pretty far down in the page, but it's there!
Lower Sodium Chuck Roast

Best Accomplishments
Finishing the North Country Trail!
Finishing Loretta's Afghan

Best Books Read
Alice's Drive
Because of Winn-Dixie

Best Rediscovered Song
There is a Quiet Place

Best Purchase
parts to fix an old floor lamp, so I can SEE when I'm reading

Best Homemade Gifts
Elderberry Syrup from Ester
Dill Pickles from Ellen

Best New Thing Learned
Autumn Olive berries are edible, and wonderful!

OK, that's all I can think of for now, but this might get updated if some great escaped fact comes to mind.


See Housecleaning and the Best of 2009


Hints


Are you thinking about the monthly contest? Don't be afraid to guess, but if you are obsessive, you can find posts about #1,2,4,5,9 somewhere in the past on this blog. That's all I'll say, because I don't want to give late entrants an advantage over the four people who have already entered.

It seems that adults are hesitant to just be zany, and GUESS. Make something up, have a laugh! Entries due by midnight EST, Dec 31, 2010.


See Contest Day- Win an Ad for a Month


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Can You Go Back Again?


Granny on Snowshoes

Loretta left for Alabama today. We sure had a good time with her. But before she left, she helped me do something I've wanted to for quite a few years. I'll explain.

My monthly newspaper column was due at noon today. I've been struggling mightily for a topic this month. So I finally wrote up 500 words last night, but it was terrible. Most definitely the worst, most boring column I'd written in the 4.5 years of this gig. After I went to bed, I got an idea. It had to do with snowshoes... and you will be hearing more about that in the next week or so.

So, first thing this morning, I wrote a funny, MUCH better offering, and decided to illustrate it with this picture of my grandmother on snowshoes. And now we come to the project Loretta helped me with. I still own the snowshoes that Granny is using in that picture, although they've been retired to my wall. They were made by Indians in Maine in 1910. Not only that, but I still own the snowpants and sweater that Granny is wearing in that picture. I've always wanted to recreate the photo. I couldn't match the trees. The originals are 800 miles and 70 years away.

Here's our attempt.
Joan on Snowshoes

Don't forget to enter the contest! Just have fun... don't be so serious about it.


See Varnishing the Snowshoes


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Loretta's Afghan is Done!

 

spring garden afghan

It's done! Loretta is happy. I am happy. She has to leave tomorrow, and I have actually finished this more than 5 minutes before she is walking out the door. So unlike me (grin).

spring garden afghan

The last picture isn't so artistic, but it shows the layout, which I see has a design flaw... now that I'm all done. Grrr. Oh, well.

spring garden afghan

If you would like to see the directions for this afghan, I have published them at Spring Daisies Afghan


See the afghan with just four rows done- Jan 2010
See The Next Big Craft Project just begun, Oct 2009

Monday, December 27, 2010

What Fun!


Loretta did make it, and I've been crocheting furiously- I think the afghan is going to be finished before she has to leave. Sorry, but visiting your blogs has been a casualty of that project (and cooking).

Christmas Dinner

We had Christmas Dinner yesterday. Everything turned out great (horray!), and it was fun to have someone to share it with. snowshoeing

This afternoon, I borrowed an extra pair of snowshoes, and we took a little hike- about a mile. Loretta said that was perfect. She has to wear a knee brace, so shorter hikes are best.

We are having a great time... we watched a couple of movies, hiked, ATE yummy things! Hoping you all have had some great parts of your holidays, too!



Sunday, December 26, 2010

Contest Day - Win an Ad for a Month


Play this little game and win a 125x125 banner ad for a month! Everyone has an equal chance here- no writing skills required! This is mostly called creative guessing. Yes, there are two animal tracks... but you can just guess at those too, if you don't remember. Or, if you have OCD you can go hunting through my blog! But, please don't let these keep you from entering. Have fun... you might win.

So, all you have to do is send me your best guesses as to what these 10 images are. Send to jhy@t-one.net. Entries are due by midnight Dec 31, 2010, EST.

1.
close up photo

2.
close up photo

3.
close up photo

4.
close up photo

5.
close up photo

6.
close up photo

7.
close up photo

8.
close up photo

9.
close up photo

10.
close up photo



Saturday, December 25, 2010

Green- A Short Tour of the Christmas Tree


Christmas Tree

Here it is- GREEN! It did get up and decorated. We had a quiet Christmas. Josh has neither showed up nor called. Steve called this morning, and we did gift opening on speakerphone. I was pleasantly surprised that he wanted to do that. He had some gifts shipped to us, but we just sent him cash. He cant get packages at his apartment because the mailman won't leave packages in the hall, and he can't get personal packages at work because there are new security rules in his building.

snowman ornamentHow about a short tour of a few of our ornaments? This old plastic snowman was my first ornament, so, it can be dated to 1948.

homemade ornamentThis pedestrian offering I made for our first Christmas together. We had almost nothing, and I cut strips of a detergent bottle, covered them with Christmas tape and made a tassel for the bottom.

fancy ornamentFor a number of years, Om's mother made these fancy ornaments for everyone in the family. We have quite a collection of various styles!

stained glass ornamentThis is one of a whole set of fake stained glass ornaments from a kit. We did these with the boys one year. You put the frames on foil, poured little beads in the spaces and baked them in the oven. A few have survived the years.

eagle ornamentFinally, for this tour, this is one of Om's favorites. He's an eagle nut. This glass eagle came from Bronner's in Frankenmuth, Michigan. If you live in the Midwest US, you know that Bronner's IS Christmas. This is one of our most expensive ornaments, but it's a favorite.

I hope you had a very happy day! Loretta is supposed to arrive yet tonight. The storm missed all the places she had to drive through, once she got out of her town.

Tomorrow... the monthly contest. No essays required this time! Come back and play.



Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve- A Poignant Question


child's face
Tonight we went to a community Christmas Eve Service. There are lots of things I could tell you- the music was great, we saw some friends, but one moment stood out in my mind.

It was made so meaningful by the little guy you see here. This family was in front of us. This picture was taken during the closing, candlelit song. But I wanted you to see the extemporary, key player in this drama within a drama.

drama- soldiers question a couple

Part of the program was a drama, the story of which involved a secret church somewhere in the world where people were worshiping illegally, and celebrating the Christmas Story. You need to know that the little guy you've just met is either a little older than he looks, or rather precocious. He was paying close attention. At the point in the drama, a little before the picture you see here, the soldiers came and disrupted the service, tied up the pastor and his wife, and led them away. The little boy was quite distressed, and twice asked his daddy, "Why?"

Pretty good question, don't you think? We sure do take our freedoms for granted. As church dramas go, it was performed slightly better than average, but definitely amateur. However, that one poignant question lifted it into the realm of the highly relevant.

candlelit Christmas Eve service

The service ended with everyone lifting a lighted candle, while we all sang Silent Night.

And so, I wish you all a Merry and Blessed Christmas! Not Happy Holidays... no matter what your faith, please don't be offended. Accept a blessing of celebration, and have a wonderful day!

I've postponed the beginning of the contest for one extra day (I don't want it to start on Christmas), because tomorrow, I'll keep my promise to bring you... GREEN.


See Orange or Green?


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Only One Picture- It's the Skis' Fault


Sorry, this isn't going to be a very interesting post. I've missed two more great pictures because of the skis. "Huh?" you ask. At least at the beginning of the season, I don't feel confident enough to take the camera out on ski adventures. So... yesterday I missed a really interesting shot- a shadow I've never seen before. If we get afternoon sun again, I may be able to yet bring you that one.

However, I missed pictures today that there will probably be few chances to repeat. I thought I saw "my" hawk flying over the field coming from the cemetery. But then, I realized that it was a bald eagle. There are quite a few in the area now, but this is only the second time I've seen one in "my kingdom." Sigh.

So, what you are going to get is yesterday's sunset. It was nice to see the sun!



Yes, Loretta, I worked on the afghan today. And... I think I have a part-time job. I start training on Jan. 3.



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Random Act of Joy- Part 2


Here it is... such as I could produce it. I should have just taken video, and not tried to sing. They didn't really need me. Anyway... Om took the still pictures, and I had the video set up on top of the shoe display! I captured the audio, and a few film clips were worth using. Then I added in a whole lot of his still shots.

It made the 11 pm news on channel 9&10 News from Cadillac. It was a lot of fun! I'm sure we weren't making great music, but we were certainly joyful.




See Random Act of Joy- Part 1


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Smiles, Skis, and Squares


smiling friends

This is one of those horrid pictures where you hold the camera and point it at yourself. But we don't care, because we wanted a picture. This is a friend I haven't seen for a couple of years, even though she only lives about 25 miles away. Her name is also Joan. She stopped by with a basket full of treats, and we visited... just chatty stuff, but very nice to catch up.

ski tips
I've been skiing a lot this week. The conditions have been good for it, and I've been feeling a little bit more brave than last year. This fall, I finally found a path down the biggest hill that doesn't have a nasty bump in the middle. I got it mowed (so it doesn't have snagging berry canes), and it's the path you saw me riding a bike down at the end of I'm the Mountain Girl for You. I'm really not too good on skis, but I like it. Here's the hill with snow cover.

ski hill

granny squares
Finally, I set some goals for the day, and made them all. I completed a certain amount of work on the writing site Shared Reviews. I also needed to make significant progress on Loretta's afghan. I sort of bribed her into coming with the promise of a completed project. So, to have any chance of delivering on that I needed to crochet a whole row's worth of squares today. Here they are!

If you would like to see the directions for this afghan, I have published them at Spring Daisies Afghan

No kitchenhenge, and no eclipse... nothing but clouds in the sky. Those would have been very cool, but I have to take the gifts that are given.



Monday, December 20, 2010

Random Act of Joy- Part 1


people in church

What are all these people waiting for? They are waiting for this lady, Becky Sopha, to stand up and get us all organized.
woman leading choir

OK, so we are organized, and you can see that there is sheet music involved. We practiced for an hour...
people singing

On Wednesday evening, at a large local store (it's a secret), over 300 people will be singing the Hallelujah Chorus! Thankfully, enough of the participants know their parts well enough to carry it off. Me... I haven't sung it in a group for years. There's one alto section that I have no recollection of at all. Yikes! I need to mutiny to the tenors, where my voice has gone, but my brain still knows the alto! Oh, well, it will all be over in about 5 minutes!

Stay tuned for Part 2 on Wednesday.



Sunday, December 19, 2010

One Arrow in My Anti-Depression Quiver

 

Christmas Tree
Disclaimer up front- this is not our Christmas tree! This is part of the decorations at the church where I chose to go this evening. They were having a Christmas Carol sing, and I wanted to participate.

So, let me just remind you of the origins of this blog. If you haven't read the whole thing, it's at What is My Quality Day? Briefly, the truth is that I'm not "Little Miss Sunshine." This exercise in finding something good in every day is easy sometimes, other times, not so much.

I tend to have a bad time with holidays. This year, Steve isn't coming home, and Joshua is difficult- not to mention that he's avoiding me because he owes me money. I really can't deal with a lot of holiday decorating (I always leave that to Om- who loves it), and although I like the good food, I've really cooked as much as I care to for this lifetime. OK... I'll stop now. This blog is about the positives.

Anyway, I realized that I was going to need to do some serious Quality Day work to be able to deal with this, and to be no more Scrooge-like than my reputation allows.

Christmas Singing

So, this event is part of my plan. I love to sing, even though I have a rather unreliable tenor voice. So, I went and sang! We sang for an hour. It was mostly traditional carols, but they began and ended with some wonderful Christmas songs of a general nature. As you can see, the decorations were beautiful!

Christmas singing

Other parts of the plan that you've seen are the Polish Porcupine Balls, and the crafty creche. Ellen and I skied here the other morning, and I'm helping my friend Betty with a little project of hers. I rounded up all my Christmas CDs and set up an old player in my office. I usually don't like music while I work, but I'm GOING to be cheerful!

I have a few more arrows in the quiver for this week. Stay tuned.



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