Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It's beginning to look a little like . . .

I found this entry hiding in my drafts. It was supposed to be posted in December. Ooops!

This year we decided to do a little more Christmas decorating than in the past.

In addition to Garfield and our fiber optic Christmas tree, we added a couple of Christmas trains to the top of the TV.

Here's a close-up.

The trains needed a little something extra, so we added snowy mountains in the background.

The trains on the television were so nice we added more trains . . . to the dining room table.

The dime in front of the train car gives a better sense of the size of the set.

Fall color . . . in Florida

While many newcomers think that Florida only has one season -- hot and humid -- it is possible to find fall color in Florida.

Here are a few examples:

The fruit of Balsam-Apple Vine (Momordica charantia) reminds me of a tiny pumpkin.

The bees love the Cosmos sulphureus flowers.

The Wild Coffee plant (Psychotria nervosa) is ready for Christmas with its red and green berries.

The Tropical Sage (Salvia coccinea) provides a splash of color.

Speaking of splash -- this little tadpole (trying to hide under the leaf) has rear legs and will soon be hopping away to join the other frogs.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Surf the change

While Forest Gump may have thought life is like a box of chocolates, I think it is more like the ocean:
* the currents are constantly changing

* there are many different levels of activity

* you can only see part of what is happening

* it's important to be aware of what's going on around you

* when you get knocked down, get back up, or you'll stay under

Life is full of change. We can choose to float along and see where change takes us, fight against the current, or surf the change!

Experienced surfers, kayakers and rafters know how to read the water and detect currents others might not notice.

Life works that way, too. The more you know about who you are and where you want to go the more easily you can take advantage of opportunities and and avoid possible dangers.

Instead of being tossed about by the changing tides and currents of life, it really is empowering to "ride the waves".


Saturday, November 3, 2007

What's in your cup?

Have you ever been walking through a crowd with a cup in your hand and suddenly had someone bump into you? Did you enjoy your impromptu bath? Probably not. Finding yourself dripping with what had been intended as a refreshment is no fun.

What happens when someone "bumps" into you emotionally? A co-worker says something snarky. A family member is unappreciative. A friend "forgets" they promised to help with a project. What spills out of your emotional cup?

Just as you know that coffee will spill on you if your cup was full of it when you are bumped, your emotional contents will spill out when you are bumped emotionally.

Right now I am wearing a bracelet to remind me to monitor my thoughts -- and my words. Bracelets are available from A Complaint Free World. As Will Bowen says:
Your thoughts create your world and your words indicate your thoughts. When you eliminate complaining from your life you will enjoy happier relationships, better health and greater prosperity. This simple program helps you set a trap for your own negativity and redirect your mind towards a more positive and rewarding life.

If you want to start monitoring your thoughts right now, you can use a rubber band or bracelet on your arm as a reminder. When you notice that your thoughts or emotions are more negative than you would like, put the rubber band or bracelet on your other arm.

As I have done this, I've discovered that, at least for me, negative thoughts travel in packs. If I have one negative thought, it brings along 2 or 3 or more of its buddies along. Since that seems to be the case, I simply wear the bracelet to remind me to monitor my thoughts and emotions.

Try it for a week, and I think you'll notice a difference. Most people believe that incorporating a new behavior into your life for 21 days will secure it as a habit. Three weeks to go . . .

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cow moments

I'm stuck.

I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do, but I can't seem to get there from here.

My friend and I call these "cow moments" -- those times when you're quite happily trotting along, only to meet up with something unexpected. You stop in your tracks and vapidly stare at this new thing in your life. For whatever reason you can't seem to make your way past it. You've encountered the human equivalent of a cattle grate aka cattle guard .

How do I make my way past this "grate"? I have found several effective ways to move around the barriers I encounter.

First, I have to recognize that I am stuck. It make take a while. One day I may notice that I stopped midway in a project. Why? I reached a point where I got stuck.

Second, after I recognize I am stuck, I'll look for "alternate routes". There are usually several options available, and when I stop focusing on the way that won't work, things fall into place again.

Third, if I'm still stuck, I'll discuss it with someone else. They will probably be able to see my "path". Joseph Campbell wrote: "If you can see your path, clearly, all the way, then you are following someone else's path. Your path becomes clear only as your foot touches the ground, moment by moment. That's why it's your path." For some reason, it's much easier to see another's path than it is to see your own.

While getting stuck seems to be part of life, staying stuck doesn't have to be.

Happy trails!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Goodbye, Aunt Margaret

Last weekend was spent in Georgia as I attended my Aunt Margaret's funeral. She had celebrated her 80th birthday in June.

The pastor obeyed the marching orders she gave him and read exactly what she wanted from The Book of Common Prayer (1928, of course!). This would not have been unusual were it not for the fact that her funeral was held in a Baptist Church!

That was Aunt Margaret. She made sure things were done the way she wanted.

As we left the church, we were each given a photo of Aunt Margaret and a single red rose.

The motorcade from the church to Oak Hill Cemetery would have pleased her. Several police cars, sirens blaring, led the way as we passed the courthouse made famous by her book, "Murder in Coweta County", and the movie that it inspired.

When we arrived at the cemetery, red roses in hand, we gathered under the canopy as the pastor read the 23rd Psalm (also from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer). As we left the red roses were placed on her casket as a final, fond farewell.

Goodbye, Aunt Margaret. You will be remembered.

Monday, September 10, 2007

What's in your yard?

Last weekend Naturewise, a local native plant nursery, held an "open house".

A walk through the rows of plants sent me on flashbacks as I recognized flowers I'd gathered while playing in the yard as a child.

It was also nice to be able to verify that the plants I've let move into my flower beds are indeed natives: beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa), and Spanish Needles (Bidens alba), among others.

Today I planted the natives I "adopted" last week. I like my "Florida Native Plant Garden".

As I finished planting, a butterfly fluttered past as if thanking me for providing more food and shelter. Glad to oblige, neighbor.

Monday, August 27, 2007


It seems to be my nature to complicate things. For some mysterious reason a previously tidy room is engulfed in books, papers and craft supplies after I've spent a few minutes in it. In a case of pure irony, the clutter often includes several books about simplicity, organizing and clutter control!

The idea of throwing out something that is still perfectly usable is distasteful to me, however, the concept of editing possessions makes sense. Thinking of my house as a box that can only hold a limited quantity of items helps me see the benefit of editing those items.

There are numerous ways to find homes for the "stuff" that no longer fits in my life, among them:
The Freecycle Network has groups around the world that provide a way to relocate items. As they say: "It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills."
eBay, craigslist and local consignment shops present ways to make a little money while opening space.
Local charities with thrift shops are also a source for new homes for "edited" things.

I keep an "editing" box in the garage so I have a temporary home for the things that no longer belong in my home. When the box is full, it goes to a new home. It is going to take some time, but I'm looking forward to "wide, open spaces".

Friday, July 27, 2007

July showers produce . . .

Since July has been quite a bit more rainy than previous months, I have enjoyed walking around my yard to see what has been growing there.


The first thing I found as I walked out of my back door was a blooming catnip plant. The seeds are from catnip that I sprinkled on the back porch for the cats. When the porch was swept and rinsed off, the seeds ended up outside where they sprouted and grew.


While I've seen mushrooms in the yard before, I haven't seen one that looked like this.


As I approached the front yard, I saw this pink zinnia glowing in the flower bed. Most of the other flowers in my yard are oranges, yellows and reds, so this one really caught my eye.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Happy Birthday!

My Aunt Margaret has led quite a life, from journalist, to army wife, to author. Yesterday she celebrated her 80th birthday with, among other things, petits fours, chocolate and steak. (My Uncle Billy is a chocolatier.)

As a young journalist, she wrote about the happenings in her hometown. Years later, that experience led to one of the books she wrote, "Murder in Coweta County". "Murder" is a true story. Criminal justice classes often used it as supplemental reading.

It was made into a CBS television movie starring Johnny Cash and Andy Griffith. Aunt Margaret got to appear in the movie -- as the court reporter! Rather fitting, I think.

My favorite of her books is the more whimsical "A Buzzard-My-Best-Friend", which tells the story of the time she and her family spent as owners of a Virginia farm. I have fond memories of the summer my family and I visited that farm. (It may also be the root of my love/hate relationship with the idea of owning a small farm.)

Seeing what she has accomplished over her lifetime reminds me that, while life may be considered one great adventure, in reality it is a series of adventures. I'm going to remember to enjoy each one.

Happy Birthday, Aunt Margaret. May your adventures continue for years to come!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Summer fun

Now that the outside temperatures have reached the point of having a comfort factor in the 100's, I'm pretty reluctant to spend daylight hours outside. Instead, I'm finding amusing online sites that will keep me occupied while in the house.

Ever wondered what you would look like after a facelift? Try it out at Modiface. If you're too squeamish to try it on yourself (even in cyberspace), they have photos to play with before you decide if you want to go under the virtual knife.

Thinking about taking a road trip? Try Roadside America and make a list of the unusual places you'd like to visit. You might even find something close to home.

Need something to do on the way to your destination? A visit to Mom's minivan can provide loads of fun to keep the occupants of your chosen mode of transportation entertained.

If a road trip is too mundane for you, perhaps you would like to consider Space. You'll find lots of videos and articles related to science and technology.

No desire to wander? If you're feeling crafty, visit craft. You will be inspired by their projects, podcasts and blog.

How about a good book? Check out the Project Gutenberg. You'll find online versions of books whose copyrights have expired. Works are available in numerous languages.

Good hunting!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Goodbye, Blackjack

When I came home from work on Monday, I noticed that our neighbor's fence was gone. Not a good sign.

The fence had weathered many a storm, including hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne, one of which dropped a palm tree on it. In spite of being battered, the fence stood.

Now it was gone. That meant one thing -- Blackjack was gone.

Blackjack was our neighbor's dog. He was a sweet-natured pound puppy of medium height and weight and unknown parentage. His name came from his coloring. He was solid black except for a triangular shaped white patch at his throat. I guess you could say he was the dog equivalent of a tuxedo cat.

Although he was our neighbors' dog, Blackjack was part of our lives, too. He would greet us as we passed his yard on our way up and down our driveway, and when he was outside of his fence, he would come back to our yard to "patrol the perimeter". We always felt safer with Blackjack on guard.

I like to think that right now Blackjack is patrolling Rainbow Bridge.

Goodbye, Blackjack, we'll miss you.

Friday, July 6, 2007

It's not too late . . .

Everyone had dreams when they were kids - things they wanted to do, see, create and be.

As adults we look back and see how we lived those dreams -- or not.

Ever dream of being a "rock star" but thought you were too old? Check out the Zimmers. They're all over 60, and their average age is 78!

If you want to see what could be possibile for you as you age, check out Age Venture, an online magazine that reports on longevity research and lifestyle trends.

No matter what your age, there is a wealth of information available from the U.S. Government.

It's never too late -- or too early to consider your future.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Of cats . . . and mice

Believe it or not, there is a website for cats. NO, not cat loving people, cats. It's called, appropriately enough, cattv. When you're not using your computer, you'll have a new toy for your kitty.

If you want to watch cats on your computer, head to cat cam. There's also a link to web cams of all kinds. Tired of the view out your window? Check out the view on your computer monitor!

Quite a few universities have begun calling their campus cameras "Hi Mom!" cams. It's an easy way for parents to be assured that their student is alive and well and on campus.

Before you head out on vacation, you might want to check for webcam locations. Rather than sending a postcard, just notify your friends with your cell phone, BlackBerry or iPhone and wave at the webcam!

Thursday, June 28, 2007


How you would like to help the small (population 380) town of Fargo, Georgia replace their firetruck while getting a cool souvenir at the same time?
Have you heard about the "Bugaboo T-Shirt"?

Here's the story.

Here's the order form.

Get a shirt (or two) today!


While I was chatting with a friend at lunch, she mentioned that she rarely (if ever) listened to music on the radio because she never liked any of the music that was played.

That's when I told her about Pandora. Pandora provides a way for people to have "stations" that play music suited to their tastes. They explain how it's done here.

They also have a blog and podcast.

It really is an interesting way to explore different kinds of music and examine what types of music appeal to you. I can't wait to hear what kind of station my friend creates.

Toilet paper wedding gowns

While I'm all for recycling and wise use of resources, I must admit I would not have considered creating my wedding gown from toilet paper!

The dresses are quite lovely. My only concern would be rain storms and tears (crying). Well, I would be afraid of tears (rips), too.

There are quite a few instances of clever use of unconventional materials. The most famous is probably duct tape, although there are other examples.

Here's a clever use of coffee sleeves.

I'm feeling inspired now! Let's see what I can create . . .

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Ebb and flow

While I don't live very near the ocean, I do notice the ebb and flow of life. I frequently see it in the garden. Sometimes it's brimming with flowers, other times with weeds, and if it's very cold or very dry, then there's not much growing at all.

Nasturtiums that were in my garden a couple of months ago have taken their leave of the garden. If all goes well, there will be a few volunteers to welcome the new seeds I plant next year.

As the nasturtiums departed, morning glories and cosmos brought their contrast of color as cool purples and blues mingled with warm, rich orange.

Now the morning glories are gone and marigolds, zinnias and daylilies have begun their summer show.

Life tends to be like that. Activities that take priority at one point fade into the background at another time. Sometimes you return to them, other times you don't. While it may be sad to say goodbye to something that was once part of your life, that's the way of the cycle of life.

When you learn to recognize your personal ebb and flow, you will find that you are better able to plan your activities to match your strengths, interests and energy levels as they occur. It gives a whole new meaning to "go with the flow"!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Summer is here

I know that Summer doesn't officially begin for a few more days, but my garden says that it's summertime.

My "garden guardin' goddess" is ready for her second season. She could stand to have a bit more spanish moss hair, and her garden twine dress has seen better days, but she's happy to be in the yard where she can enjoy the sun, breezes, and growing things. This summer I may make a sister or two to join her.

Now that the rains have returned, the yard is starting to fill up with plants and flowers.

The tomato plants have reached the point where they present a ripe tomato each day when I come home. That may not be a big deal to a lot of people, but my tomato growing history is not a happy one.

The first tomato plants I grew were taller than me -- and had no fruit. They had spent all of their energy growing green stuff, not red stuff.
The next time I tried, I did have some nice tomatoes ripening on the plants, until the bugs and animals got to them before I did.

This year I decided to try grape and cherry tomatoes . . .

Success at last!

I think they're too small to catch the attention of the critters, so I've been able to enjoy my tomatoes this year.

Meanwhile, the flowers are flourishing.

Seeds planted several weeks ago are sprouting and starting to bud and bloom.

The sunflowers, while small, are continuing to grow, as are the cosmos, marigolds and zinnias. The garden is full of splashes of yellow, orange, and red.

The bees and lizards and dragonflies zip around the yard using my bamboo stakes as launching and landing pads.

I really enjoy seeing the wild creatures enjoying the garden.

Excuse me, I think I hear my garden calling . . .

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What to do?

When I walked into the living room the other day I saw a flash of movement in the tree by the front door. As I sat and looked out the window, I realized it was a tiny bird.

It hopped from branch to branch and then flew to the archway leading to our front porch and clung to the stucco wall. After it left I went to the front porch to see what attracted the bird there.

To my delight and horror, I found a lovely little nest the bird had built in one of my pots. The nest is a work of art and represents hours and hours of labor from this little creature. Unfortunately, the location is very, very bad. The pot is on a stand that is only a couple of feet high, and it's right by the main entrance to our house.

While we wouldn't touch the nest, others might. We don't have many human visitors, but we do have frequent visits from raccoons, as evidenced by their muddy footprints left on the concrete walk after they dig in my water garden. Raccoons are omnivores and will eat anything.

There are also two large Cuban treefrogs who live on our porch light. They also will eat anything that will fit in their mouth!

What to do? I looked at birdhouses and thought of ways to hang the pot so the bird could still reach it, but I came to the unhappy conclusion that they would not return to the nest if I touched it, and they and their babies would be at risk if I left the nest there.

I had to move the nest.

While not a solution I would have gladly chosen, I took the nest out of the pot and put it at the edge of the woods. I know the bird won't use the nest, but I hope someone will use the materials to build a home for themselves.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007


Is change good or bad?


The choice is yours.

Diane Mashia says: What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, God calls a butterfly!

How do you find the butterfly moments of your changing life?

Since change is part of our lives, we benefit from learning how to cope with change.

Choose your goal and approach it one small step at a time. It’s easier to commit to small changes and simpler to adjust your course when necessary.

You are daily surrounded by opportunities to make progress toward your goal. As you focus on your goal, you will become more aware of these opportunities.

When you decide to change it is important to remember:
Change is uncomfortable, even if you have chosen it.

Anatole France said, "All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another."

Are you clinging to things that are holding you back?

It may be time to release some of the things that suited you at other stages in your life to make room for the things that will help your reach your current goals.

Is it time for a change?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A false sense of security

As I took my morning walk today I saw a bunny. It is not uncommon to see at least one bunny when I walk, but this particular bunny caught my eye because he (she?) didn't run as I approached. It continued to munch away on the vegetation as I walked past.

Why? Because the bunny was on the other side of a chain link fence and beyond my reach.

The bunny felt safe because the fence provided a barrier of protection. What the bunny didn't know was that the fence surrounded our neighbor's dog run - and he was on the inside!

Blackjack, the dog, wasn't in the area - he's too old to bother chasing a bunny anyway, so the bunny really was safe. (Maybe it wasn't such a "dumb bunny" after all.)

This made me think about the times I've felt safe when I really shouldn't and the times when I've not felt safe when I should have.

I have chosen to place my self in "danger" by, among other things, going whitewater rafting and flying with $5 Frank.

Then there were the times when I have felt fearful when there was no need, usually in situations when I was "on stage", either figuratively, or literally.

In both cases my reaction was a choice. So, what did I learn from my bunny buddy? Examine your situation and remember to choose your reaction wisely.

Oh, and the bunny? I saw it again this afternoon. This time it was outside of the fence, and it still didn't run from me!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


The rain is finally returning to our area.

It has been dreadfully dry - so dry that my sunflowers barely reach my knee. In the past they have grown taller than I am - usually well over six feet high.

I have watered my garden plants enough to keep them alive, but they always respond better to rain. At the beginning of May, when the rains first began, everything perked up and looked much greener even after the most brief rain shower. I'm looking forward to seeing how my garden grows with sufficient rain.

It seems that our lives are like that. We have basic needs that must be met, and we seek ways to meet those needs that aren't always authentic. We may grow a little, but that growth is stunted when we substitute a "good enough" solution for the best.

So, how do you know what's best for you? The words of Plato come to mind:
"Know thyself."

Abraham Maslow describes a hierarchy of needs .

Douglas B. Richardson offers this career advice.

Numerous sites offer quizzes that will "reveal" your personality and more. When taken with a grain of salt, they can be entertaining and somewhat informative. (If nothing else, you will learn whether on not you enjoy quizzes!)

While it may take some effort on your part, you will be delighted when you learn to recognize the "rain" you need to help you grow to your full potential.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The hitchhiker

As I turned off the main road on to my street a flash of color caught my eye. It was a butterfly making its way across the street. I carefully moved to the right side of my lane to avoid hitting it.

I didn't hit it, but . . . because my window was open, I suddenly had a butterfly hitchhiker! It rode down the street with me.

As I turned in to my driveway, my newly acquired passenger gently climbed up my arm and onto my shoulder. When I opened my car door, the butterfly startled and flew into the back seat. I caught it and put it on one of the flowers in my garden so it could rest from its adventure.

When I checked later, my new friend had resumed its travels, leaving me with a lovely memory.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The cat who loved baths

When we moved into our house in 1987, I soon discovered that it came with a cat.

She came up from the woods one day as I was looking at the back yard. Since she was orange, I chose to call her "OJ". (Not very original, but she didn't seem to mind.)

As she became less wary of me, she would allow me to approach more closely. What I saw was a scruffy stray cat with cataract clouded eyes. I didn't think she'd be around very long. Luckily, I was proved wrong.

She had several litters in our flower beds and while I made sure all of the kittens were "fixed", I could never get close enough to put her in a carrier.

Her last two kittens were born just before Hurricane Erin. She and the kittens rode out the storm in our garage. After that she allowed me to put her in the carrier and take her to the vet. When she came home, she decided staying in the garage instead of outside wasn't such a bad thing.

One winter morning I opened the garage door and she was just sitting there. Her back legs didn't seem to work. She didn't fuss when we brought her in the house. As she warmed up, her legs began to work again and we decided she was staying in the house.

The longer she stayed in the house the more she loved to interact with us. She would talk and dance when she heard the cat food, and she thought being brushed was terrific. It was a joy to have her with us.

When she could no longer bathe herself, I decided to risk life and limb and give her a bath in our shower stall. The warm water must have felt wonderful to her, because she never struggled or protested.

One day I decided to try bathing her in the bathroom sink. She was a tiny cat and easliy fit in a sink full of warm, soapy water. She loved being in her own little hot tub! This is what she looked like:

While OJ is no longer with us, she lives on in our memories and through the offspring* she left in our care.

*George (see my 1st post) was one of OJ's boys.

PS: I just learned of a "big" cat who loves the water: Odin , a Bengal tiger, lives in California.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


How many opportunities have I missed because I did not see them, did not recognize them, or chose to ignore them?

If I didn't see the opportunity, it was probably because I was distracted and not fully aware of what was going on in my life. I let the past and future block my view of the present. This is best overcome by being conscious of my thoughts, actions and attitudes. (For fun, there is a Cosmo quiz to see if you are "Living in the Now".)

If I didn't recognize the opportunity, it was probably because I didn't know that it would be beneficial for me. I have found that keeping a journal helps me be aware of the things that are very important to me so I can recognize opportunities to achive those things. Julia Cameron recommends Morning Pages. There is a 43 Things group working on Morning Pages for those who would like to see how it works and compare their findings with others.

Why would I ignore an opportunity? Barbara Sher discusses "resistance" in her book, Wishcraft, which she offers free online. Her bulletin board offers advice from Barbara and from those using the board. This is a great resource for anyone who wants to call upon the vast knowledge and experience of others who are also seeking to reach their full potential.

The bad news: there are many ways to miss an opportunity. The good news: there are just as many ways to find an opportunity!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Taking steps . . . or not

Have you ever found yourself sailing through a project only to suddenly find yourself flummoxed by the next step you need to take?

There are times when I'm happily progressing toward a goal and suddenly happen upon something that, for one reason or another, stumps me and stops me in my tracks. Recently I've become aware that it is usually okay to avoid a step that is holding me back from accomplishing something I want.

I am learning to recognize when a step is vital, and when it would be nice, but not crucial to the success of a project. If the step that is holding me back is not truly important to the completion of my task, I skip it.

If the step can't be avoided, I re-examine it and see if it can be approached from another angle, or if a similar action can be substituted.

It seems to be working for me. I'm learning how to complete half-finished projects, or how to pass them on to someone who will enjoy finishing them.

The ghosts of unfinished projects past are slowly leaving my life.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

5 things I do every day to be successful

At the beginning of the month Andy Wibbels wrote about the 5 things he does every day to be successful and invited his readers to do the same.

So, here goes:

I have a daily routine. Routine is often assumed to be boring, but I find a routine frees me to concentrate on my goals and helps keep me on track. I may not be diagnosed with ADHD, but I can very easily find myself distracted by things that will keep me from accomplishing anything if I don't have some way to corral myself and stay focused.

My morning walk helps me get started. My body gets a workout from the walk, my spirit gets a workout thinking about the positive things in my life, and my mind gets a workout as I consider short and long term goals I want to accomplish. Spending this time alone in the morning refreshes and prepares me for the rest of the day. I'm also becoming more aware of my biorhythms and can take advantage of that to accomplish more when I'm at my peak mentally and physically.

In addition to my morning walk, I spend time outside each day. It may only be 5 or 10 minutes, but I stop and really look around at the sky, the landscape and any animals that may be in the area. After a few deep breaths and a stretch or two, I'm ready to go again. Maintaining contact with nature helps calm me, keeps me aware of changes in my environment and reveals the beauty around me, even if it's something as tiny as a seedling popping up through asphalt. If I can't get outside, I can go online for sights and sounds of nature.

I have a ready supply of 3 x 5 index cards on hand to record ideas, lists and anything else that comes to mind. They may be old-fashioned and low tech, but they don't need batteries, fit in a pocket or purse and can be readily sorted and stored. It's easy for me to purge index cards that I no longer need, and that's important to a slowly recovering pack rat.

Last, but not least, I include breathing space in my schedule by alloting more time for each activity than I think I'll need so I don't have to rush and I'm not frustrated when I hit a roadblock, literal or figurative. So many people seem to be rushed and angry; I don't want to be one of them.

I know that none of this is earth-shattering, but I have found that when I include these small steps in my life I am much more productive.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Self-taught musicians

Today I discovered two very different self-taught musicians on YouTube videos.

The first is "Nora, the Piano Playing Cat". Some of the "licks" (pun intended) she plays actually sound quite modern. According to the person she lives with, she began playing on her own. She does seem to enjoy playing, preferring the mid-range notes. Her performance has encouraged many other cats to post their videos.

The second musician is twelve-year-old Conrad Oberg. Born in the summer of 1994, he taught himself to play piano (at age 2) and guitar (at age 10) and has been playing live concerts since he was 4. Quite an accomplishment on its own; all the more so since Conrad was born prematurely (3 1/2 months early) and has no eyesight in his left eye and only 15% of the vision in his right.

What in the world do these two have in common? Music, practice, and following their bliss.

What can I learn from this? Don't be hesitant to pursue the activities that utilize my talents and abilities. I may never be famous, but I'll enjoy my life a lot more!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

How do I want to spend my time?

If I could spend all of my time doing anything I wanted to do, what would I do?

Good question.

What do I do with the "free" time I have now?

I may not have 24/7 to myself, but I do have at least 2 hours a day of "discretionary time". If I really considered what I wanted to do and used that time to focus and aim toward my goals I would eventually get there.

Back to my original question: what do I want to do?

I enjoy reading, learning, and being with green, growing things. Most days I do spend at least some time doing all of the above, so I am doing what I want to do for a portion of each day.

What else? I like to work with clay and would like to fuse glass. I also have several ideas for the piles of fabric in my guest room. What's the roadblock there? Space. Stuff from previous projects (that will not be finished -- ever!) needs to be removed so there is room for new experiences.

I have read numerous books about simplifying and organizing and have gleaned helpful information from most of them. The book I am currently reading, It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh, has been most helpful. He gets to the heart of the matter by asking you to imagine your home the way you want it. This makes it easier to remove the parts you don't need.

I can verify from personal experience that enormous amount of time, energy and money can be spent trying to organize too much stuff (clutter).

The FlyLady also shares numerous helpful techniques for removing the chaos from your life.

Right now, the best use of my time is to spend at least an hour per day "freeing" myself of things that no longer belong in my life. It's time to send them on to people who will appreciate and use them, not just have them stacked up and collecting dust around the house.

Yesterday I pared down 3 boxes of stuff into 1 box. I feel lighter already!


As I was taking my morning walk I reflected on the interesting things happening in the lives of my friends and began comparing them to what is happening in my life.

I know, comparison is rarely a good thing -- you tend to become smug or dejected.

This time I think it was a positive experience.

My friend, Monette, has just published a book -- Knit & Crochet Combined: Best of Both Worlds. It is a terrific book and just one of many amazing things she has accomplished. Here's her website and her blog.

Other friends are in Scotland right now. Their daughter is competing in the 2007 World Irish Dance Championship - Oireachtas Rince na Cruinne. She dreamed of this from the moment she discovered Irish Dance, and now she's there!

Ok, yes, my first reaction was to hold a gigantic pity party and whine that everyone else gets to do fun stuff while I stay at home and do the same old things.

When my brain resumed functioning properly, I had to admit that I have chosen not to do what they are doing. The life I am living is a result of the choices I have made.

They both chose what they wanted to do, focused on it, and achieved it.

So . . .if I want to do "fun stuff", it's up to me to decide what I want to do and take the steps to get there.

Excuse me while I start my list . . .

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A lesson from the garden

As the weather continues to warm, volunteers are popping up in my flower beds. Seeds from last year's four o'clocks, morning glories, cosmos and hyacinth beans are starting to sprout and flower.

It's fun to see who chooses to return and what form they take. The offspring of purchased seeds often return to their heritage. New (to me) colors and sizes appear as plants arise from the seeds of previous generations.

Of course, there are other plants popping up that have to be removed from the bed. While they may have lovely flowers and beautiful foliage, they do not share space with others. They want to take over every square inch of soil. This will not do.

Isn't that the way life happens? The results of things we've done in the past and have forgotten suddenly pop up and surprise us. Sometimes the experience is pleasant, other times not so.

I'm reminded to be careful what I "plant" in my life and to remember to "weed out" stuff (physical and emotional) that might inhibit the growth of the things I want to nurture in my life.

Online funeral

After I went to a funeral last month, it occurred to me that it would be a great service if funerals could be viewed online.

Evidently there are funeral directors in Ireland that think it's a good idea, too! http://

They have been offering this sevice for a couple of years. Family members around the world have the opportunity to view streaming audio and video of a loved one's funeral. Special software and a password are required, so access is limited.

I think this is a wonderful idea because it could allow more loved ones and family members to have the funeral service available as part of their grieving process. (Not to mention the convenience of having different venues in case there are those who would not want to be in the same room.)

Friday, February 16, 2007

My Wists

What are Wists? A Wist is a web wish list. Wist is short for weblists.

It's a fun way to share the interesting stuff you find on the Web.

Here is my Wist:

Wists, top web picks from WhollyPiecemeal for all. Wists, social shopping scrapbook, wishlist

Friday, February 9, 2007


As I understand it, the essence of carving an object out of wood, marble, stone, etc. is to cut away the parts you don't need to create the object you want. I'm trying to do that with my life -- removing the things that are no longer necessary or representative of who I am or want to be.

It is much easier for me to say "goodbye" to something when I realize that it no longer reflects who I am. Many of the things I've held on to were valid parts of my life at one time. Now they need to be given away.

Some things are more easily removed than others -- shoes that always pinch when I wear them -- the itchy sweater -- the shirt that doesn't go with anything. Then there are the sentimental favorites -- a lovely nightgown -- red glitter sneakers -- an embroidered shirt.

This week I began selecting one item per day to remove from my house. When I look at things and ask myself if they reflect who I am or want to be, it makes it much easier to remove what doesn't belong.

Just as there is limited space in a box, there is limited space in my house. I once read of a person who limited themselves to a certain number of posessions. When something came in, something had to go out. That would be the ultimate way to prevent clutter, and while I'm not there yet, I'm headed in that direction.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


At the end of January I planned to go to an event with my sister. I spent the night at her house and woke to a cold, windy, rainy day. Not a bad thing, except for the fact that the event was scheduled outside, in a field, on a hill, early in the morning. The organizers canceled. My first reaction was disappointment.

Before I walked outside and appreciated the wisdom of the cancelation, I considered my options: go home early (too boring), stay all day and whine about the cancelation (too whiny), think of something else that would be fun to do (fun is good!). I decided to go with the flow and see what happened.

After a tasty breakfast, we sat and brainstormed. And the winner was . . . The Polk Museum of Art.

It had been a while since I'd visited a museum, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. They have a delightful collection of Pre-Columbian art including bowls, whistles, jars and numerous figures. This was my favorite piece:

In addition to the permanent collection, the works of "Two of Central Florida’s best painters -- James Michaels and Gary Bolding" were on display. Very inspiring stuff.

There is a virtual tour of James Michaels' work here.

Dr. Bolding is an art professor at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. His work will be on display at the UCF Art Gallery in Orlando from February 1 through March 2. If you are in the area, I highly recommend that you go.

You might enjoy reading the graduation speech he gave at Stetson in December, 1998. I found it witty and quite entertaining.

So what did I learn this time? Go with the flow and you will enjoy the journey.

Appearances can be deceiving

We have two citrus trees in our yard, neither of which we planted.

The first tree is in the woods at the edge of our yard. It is full of lovely oranges. They are about the size of a baseball, a gorgeous shade of . . . orange, and slightly sweeter than a lemon. It is a sour orange tree. The juice can be used for marinades and marmalade, but you probably wouldn't want a glass of it with your breakfast.

The second tree is a scraggly little thing snuggled next to a larger tree at the edge of our pond. We could tell it was a citrus tree because of its flowers, but never saw fruit of any consequence. It does have a healthy array of thorns which have made their presence known numerous times. Encounters with the thorns made it quite tempting to remove this "weed", but we didn't.

This year the scraggly tree was full of fruit, but they were small and pale. Hmmm . . . small, pale fruit -- could it be? I grabbed a couple of them and took them to the kitchen for an experiment.

A friend of ours has a very pampered key lime tree. He keeps it safe and warm and makes sure nothing will harm it. He had a bumper crop this year and shared his limes with us.

I took out one of his limes and placed the fruit from my tree next to it. Same size, same color . . . I got a knife and cut them open. They looked the same. I squeezed juice from each into glasses and tasted. Hooray! I have a key lime tree!

Here are the limes I harvested from my tree. (That's a quarter in front of the bowl.)

What have I learned from this? When life gives you thorns, make key lime pie!!!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Thinking Place

Few things hold my attention for any great length of time. I tend to flit from one "interesting" idea to another, like a bee in a field of flowers. Instead of bags of pollen, I carry snippets of ideas around, letting them jumble around in my head until they clump together in a new way.

While I do come up with a number of ideas, my lack of focus results in "lots of eggs, but no chickens". I never stay with my ideas long enough to bring them to life.

That said, I have decided that I'm going to set aside a place and time on a regular basis to practice focusing on things I'd like to accomplish.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tiny steps

Why do I have to continually fight the notion that progress is made only with giant steps?

Most failure sneaks up in barely noticeable increments:
  • Just one more bite of dessert. . .
  • Too much to do this morning; I'll exercise tonight . . .
  • I'll finish this later . . .

Why not aim for success by making barely noticeable changes?

  • Take 5 minutes before going to bed to make sure the stuff I need in the morning is ready.
  • Instead of going for a doughnut, go for a walk.
  • Drink water rather than something else when I'm thirsty.

Moving forward is the objective; consistently moving forward, one tiny step at a time.

This year I'm taking tiny steps forward, and this is one of them.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

What I learned from George

Saturday morning we said a tearful goodbye to one of our cats.

His name was George. (He's the one in the middle.)

While we still have several cats, our house is strangely quiet.

George was a talker. The other cats don't seem to be quite as vocal, maybe because they couldn't get a "meow" in edgewise with George around.

He also seemed to know exactly where we were going to step, and made sure he checked the spot so it would be "safe" for us to move there. This, of course, meant that he was usually underfoot, especially in the kitchen.

As I've considered "life with George", I find it comforting to think about the things I learned from him.

George taught me:

* When you want something, ask for it. Continue talking to people until they understand what you want and give it to you, or show you where to get it.

* Know where the things you like are located so you can point them out, if necessary.

* Savor every meal and welcome the company of fellow diners.

* Hugging is a good and necessary part of every day.

* Avoid confrontation if at all possible.

* Spend time in the fresh air every day.

* If you get lost, stop and listen. The information is there, if you are still and quiet.

Farewell, Georgie. You'll always live on in our hearts.