31 January 2011

Barn Charm

A deep red barn in contrast to the pastel sunset.

For more lovely Barn Charm


29 January 2011

Cabin Fever

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

A little cabin fever setting in here.  

Snow and frigid temps started before fall ended this year.  We are only half way through the winter months and it's getting more challenging to remember the warmth and light.  As the snow continues to fall, I'll enjoy the beauty, remember that cold is but temporary, and listen for the voice of the inner glory.


28 January 2011

Tao of Forgiveness - Book Review

The Tao of Forgiveness The Healing Power of Forgiving Others and Yourself by William Martin
This is my first contribution to the Take a Chance Challenge 3 (staff members choice), book reviews.  I need to begin with the fact that I have never written a non-academic book review or one for a blog, so I'm going to wing it a little.  I selected this book from a grouping chosen by my local library staff.  I will probably get all of my books for this challenge from the library versus book stores.  First, because I have a really good system near my home, and second, because said awesome system just passed another property tax levy that I will be paying for - I should use it!

Brief description:
Martin has a series of books influenced by his use of Lao-tzu's Tao Te Ching.  This book focused on forgiveness in many different ways.  The book is laid out in a series of short stories (23), followed by brief discussion, a few questions, and finally a Tao mind exercise.  I imagine it was meant to be read and re-read as life changes.  You can return to a particular piece and review what you have learned or how it can be applied to life.  It is meant to be digested slowly, preferably (in the author's view) with a journal for reflection and I found, in small doses.

His introduction refers to the practice of forgiveness, because like most things in life, we get better with practice.  He reminds the reader that forgiveness is already there, but understanding it, applying it, and adjusting the "conditioned mind" is where the work comes in.  The brief narratives are diverse, probably in attempt to cover a range of ideas and hopefully provide something for anyone who may happen upon it.  Each topic/section is related to the others, but may also stand alone. 

The book is only 198 pages, but would not refer to it as a light read, if the reader's intent is to learn.  However, it can also be enjoyed for the stories and discussion on face value, without all the interaction of the exercises, if that is the goal.

My Thoughts: 
I am a very practical person, so it was a stretch for me to look at a philosophical book so clearly out of my daily processes.  Or so I thought.  Once I stopped trying to summarize while I was reading (an old academic habit), I actually got much more out of this book.  It did not feel judgemental, but rather, provided new ways of thinking about situations I have encountered.  It spoke to forgiving ourselves and others, because quite often, that is the "solution" we might be seeking.  I found the narratives entertaining, and some of the exercises useful.  Others I skipped, and then forgave myself for using the time elsewhere in my day.

Some of the subtopics that caught my eye (and this would be different for each reader I imagine) included not taking things personally, acceptance can be freeing, conditioned mind and voices can still change, fear does not bring safety, and separateness is a dream (Martin, 2010).  I am pondering these subtopics a bit more and can see myself incorporating them into future posts, individually.  So for those of you visiting regularly, stay turned!  For new folks that have found their way here through the book challenge, I hope you'll return later for tea and a chat.


25 January 2011

Peaceful moment

I've been wanting to join in with Barn Charm, so I kept looking for a good barn.
When I was out in a rural area one morning, I came upon this barn, 
holding on for dear life.  I feel like the tree next to it is protecting it and keeping it company.

Can't we all use a friend like that some days?

It was a beautiful serene morning that made me want to stay out in the country a little longer.
Here's hoping for some peaceful moments in your week.


24 January 2011

Delicate Macro Monday

I knew when I saw the fuzzy buds on this bush that it would look lovely with snow.
When the storm hit full force the other day, I walked out back with my camera to try and catch some delicate snowflakes.  
I have been so jealous of people's perfect flakes and had to try.
I was happy to get a few very distinct flakes!

Happy Monday; to those of you in the deep freeze, stay warm.  
To those of you in warm climates -send sun!


22 January 2011

Over the river and through the woods...

No, not to Grandmother's house, just trying to get to my house.
The other day we did get the snow that was promised, and the traffic tie-ups that followed.

I grew up in part of the U.S. affectionately referred to as the "snow belt" because when the storms come through, they get far more snow than any where else.  Sometimes also called the "rust belt" for the damage done to cars (before the technology kept this from happening) due to months of snow, salt and other things on the roads.  This means I learned very young how to drive in snowy conditions.  The key being, slower (but not dangerously so) speed, lower gear, more space between me and the next car, and take my foot off the gas to slow down, don't slam on the brakes and all-wheel drive is great, but not everything.  I no longer live in that area and the folks where I live drive as though they have never seen snow - every time it snows.  And let me tell ya, it's winter a solid 4 months here.  We've had bad weather before.  Here is an example of problems with people who fail to acknowledge winter - and don't brush the snow off their cars before heading into bumper to bumper traffic.  Hmm, I'll never understand this at all.

It is 10 miles from where I work to my house.  That's all, 10 miles that took more than 2 hours of drive time to accomplish.  After about half way home I decided if I was going to be that late, I might as well peel off near the park and take some pictures.  So I drove into the parking area, which had zero tire tracks at this point (but I do own an all-wheel drive car, so I'm good), gathered my camera, hat, gloves, and zipped up the ski jacket to tromp through the woods.  It was snowing pretty well, but I loved the quiet after all that stress on the roads.  My destination was a path that I have been using for a 4 season project.  Here are the first 2 seasons:

And here is the winter version, which had a little surprise:

There's a bridge in there!!  I have never seen that before.  I usually take the photos down that direction, but walk the other way through the park because the river is the other way.  I did not venture down to see where the bridge went on this day.  It was really cold and I was starting to shiver already.  I will go back soon and see where the bridge takes me.  I'm sure it would have been hilarious to see me standing there, completely shocked by the presence of a mere bridge.  It was like a fun reward for pushing through the traffic to get the snow pictures that day.

Colossians 1:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, 
unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness

Although I posted a sky photo Friday, with very little of anything atmospheric, 
later in the day I saw small rainbows on either side of the FINALLY visible sun.  It was a very unique event.  
I was only able to get a clear shot of one of them at a time.

(Cell phone photo, not fabulous)  The rainbow is on the left on this shot and look - Sun!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.  It's a balmy 3 degrees here today, I'm thinking indoor activities and crafts. 
I'll venture out tomorrow to the vacation expo, time to look for travel ideas!


20 January 2011

SkyWatch Friday - Sun?

I looked and looked this week for a beautiful sky.
This chopper is what I found.

Oh well, more sun next week - I hope!

For lovely skies around the world:

A few more winter and snow photos coming soon...


19 January 2011

Hangin' Around

 This has been one of those winter weeks.  
A day or two melting snow, then back to cold.
It's windy, cloudy, and just plain icky.
Not a ray of sunshine to be found.

Here we have some fine friends hanging out talking about the next storm.
 "Do you see those clouds?  Another one comin' this way."

These lines (and birds) hang over a river near a bridge.  I drive by them most days in the afternoon.
Some days there are 2-3x as many just settin' for a spell, waiting for the sunset.
Today it would be a long wait, no sun, just clouds.

I'm taking out my camera again tomorrow in hopes that the new 
fluffy snow they promise will produce some lovely shots!
Until then, you can hang with my birds on a wire. :)


18 January 2011

A little help from my friend

I've mentioned before my love for sushi and our (almost) weekly lunch trips.

But even with all that practice, some days I'm terrible with my chopsticks.
So my friend Joanna thought she would give me some help.

Yep, chopstick holders!  Ok, so they are intended for children, but I appreciated the thought!
(I haven't eaten at Noodles, so I was unaware of these little helpers.)
I'll keep practicing without them, but might keep a pack in the pocket for a really bad day!

Everyone needs a friend that will look at your weakness
with humor and help you have fun with it anyway.
I hope you have a great day...and good eats.


17 January 2011

Macro Monday

This is Molly's ear.  She spends a lot of time laying on my blanket this time of year!
She is a lap cat, when she wants to be. Don't even think you are going to go pick her up.

She held still for a bit, so I snap a few close ups.

More Macro Monday:


16 January 2011

Listen to the animals

The weather folks talked about a big snow the other day.  They say that a lot 
this time of year, to cover all the bases.  Really, what they meant was a bunch of people 
would be getting a lot of snow, and we *might* be part of it.

I went to work that day, taking my camera in anticipation of some nice snowy landscape shots.
Instead, about 2 hours before lunchtime it started to snow big fluffy flakes and the birds began stockpiling.  
There are trees outside my window with berries (the header photo is from there). 
These birds were coming to gather their version of milk and bread before the storm.

They came in packs, flying left and right, trying to find the berries.

Taking them to the adjoining trees and sharing with the neighbors.  They were even on the ground.

So, while I may not completely believe the weather folks and their doppler radar toys, I do believe the animals.  
When they come and pick the berry tree clean, it's time to get ready for the snow!

(I have to tell ya, these birds don't look like they've been wanting so far this winter!)
I hope you enjoyed my outside office mates.

For more camera critters:


13 January 2011

5 Question Friday

I haven't done this in a while, so I thought I join Mama M and folks with 5 question Friday.

Here they are for this week:

1. What movie could you watch over and over again and not get tired of?
 Sound of Music. 
Really, I watch it every time it is on.  
Short version, full version, doesn't matter to me, 
I'll just sing along with it no matter what.

2. What's your biggest pet peeve right now?
 People in good jobs whining about what could be better. 
Oh, and really bad fly-away hair days with the winter re-cycled air!

3. If you had to describe your best friend in five words or less, what would you say?
 Loyal, funny, brilliant, hard-working, loving.

4. If you did not have to worry about money or go to school 
what would you do for a living? 
Travel photography...which might also include travel food reviews, 
but I'd have to get much better at my food photos! 

5. What is your one "splurge" item, that you will always buy, no matter the cost?
Chocolate - I'm an addict and I'm perfectly fine with it!

Happy Friday!


11 January 2011

Watery Wednesday - Summer memory

For today's photo I'm ignoring the raging wind and cold while diving into late summer archives.  I went to practice with my manual settings at a nearby park.  There is a fountain there that you can run through, as the water comes up from under the pavement in different patters.  I suppose it is like ones you would see in Las Vegas or a really large indoor mall.  It is heaps of fun for the kids during the summer.  This was a hot day, later afternoon, but when school was in session...which is the only way I could get photos without kids all over!

I love how some of the water seems suspended in the air, while the waterfall in the background keeps flowing.  It was great fun to test all kinds of shots out there.  For more water photos:

Now back to you regularly scheduled snowstorm...


10 January 2011

Macro Monday -Is it spring yet?

My tree out front is without snow - for the moment. 

It has itty bitty buds, as if to say "I'm getting ready for spring!"

Yes, I know it's months off, I'm optimistic.

For more macro fun, join Lisa's Chaos for Macro Monday


08 January 2011

American Hero

When I started this blog it was to share the things I do, the pictures I take and the places I go.  
Most of the time I get to go to fun places and do entertaining things.
This week, however, I had to take a difficult trip and thought it was important to share it with you.

On January first, late in the morning, Deputy Suzanne Hopper became the first police officer in the US killed in the line of duty for 2011.  January first, not even past the first day of the year, not even lunch time and we lost a peace officer to violence.  The trip on Friday was with thousands of others to celebrate her life and show her family how important their daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend was to everyone.  (News story here.)

There were almost 1000 police vehicles from across the country, Maryland to California 
and all points in between.  The procession of cars was 4 miles long.

The cars met early, but due to the large number, it took extra time to get into the church and cemetery. 
They used the largest church in the county, 2 overflow rooms (gym, school) and 
could not fit in everyone who showed up to celebrate her life.

Along the route were signs, lowered flags, and many community members 
who stood in the cold for hours to show their support and thanks.

(These are SOOC and from a moving vehicle, sorry for the blur).

It was very cold and at one point snowing, bless them for staying out there.

Outside the church, no matter where you looked there was a cruiser, fire truck, or medic parked there.  I did not take photos during the portions of the service itself, out of respect for the family.  Just picture people standing elbow to elbow in every space available, using every chair they could find, and crowding around the doors to hear what was being said.

"Suzanne heard another call...our Angel with a Badge."

Scripture and a Snapshot - Katie Lloyd Photography

Straight out of the Camera - Murrieta 365


07 January 2011

SkyWatch Friday - Winter Sun

This sky seemed to reflect the day today - feeling a little bit fuzzy, 
but still being able to see the sun shine through.

I took a road trip today (which I will share over the weekend) and found this sky in the late morning.

For more lovely skies around the world: