Joy in Blue Things

Today’s January Joy Dare is to find joy in three blue things.  As with the three yellow mercies, I had to think that over a while.

Blue sky – that one was easy!  It’s easier to be cheerful when the sky is blue.  When I’m cheerful, it’s easier to be hopeful, encouraged, productive, joyful and grateful.  There’s something about a blue sky (and getting sunlight) that  helps my mind and body.

Blue travel mug – this is an extension of my breakfasts at Cracker Barrel.  This travel mug is fairly new; my beloved Caribou travel mug had a glass liner and eventually met the fate of thermos’s everywhere when it fell on the floor and broke.

I received this as a gift from the partner of a consulting firm that I use, so their name is on the side.  I don’t care.  It’s the right size and my iced tea stays cold for most of the morning.

Cracker Barrel has a wonderful policy of offering coffee / tea to go.  By using my own mug, I save a cup, lid & straw from the landfill.  Because we’ve gone to this Cracker Barrel for so long, the staff asks where my mug is when they don’t see it on the table during a last refill.  I appreciate that they make an effort to make sure I have my tea when I leave.

Blue Araucana eggs – I buy these at the farmer’s market.  Araucana eggs are slightly smaller than regular eggs on the outside, but they must have less air.  When I crack them open, they provide as much volume as any store bought egg, but with a much creamier texture and taste.  It’s like the TARDIS on Dr. Who – bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Others know how good they are – I go to this farmer as my first stop.  If I wait too long, they’ll run out.  A different farmer has started raising them, but last year the eggs were very small due to the hen’s immaturity.  I didn’t care – I bought them anyhow.  He was surprised – he knew they were worth it, but he was having trouble convincing his customers to buy a substandard small egg even with a marked down price.

Here’s a sky shot from mid-December.  This tree has since lost more of its leaves, but is still pretty to see in downtown when I take my walks during lunch.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Saturday Errands

My sweetie and I woke up Saturday to a gray and dreary day.  Although it was icy on the trees, the deck and the windshield, the roads were warm enough to be safe.

maple tree in our backyard

After breakfast at Cracker Barrel (my favorite place for breakfast!), we decided to do some errands.    My sweetie has been doing most of our cooking this last year and lately has decided I was right about the better flavor from fresh ground pepper.

love all those things to try!

Not only that, I discovered that we were out of most of our Italian seasonings that I buy bulk at Penzey’s.  I don’t know how it got used up from the freezer without me making a note to replace it, but it was gone.

I loved all the reds from the various paprika's

When I first started shopping at the local Penzey’s, they asked if I’d shopped there before.  No, I replied, but I have mail ordered from you for years.  They said a number of their customers said that and they were pleasantly surprised at how many former catalog customers now came in to buy.  The last time I’d referred to Penzey’s, KittyHere mentioned that she was a mail order customer of theirs also.  They really are good.

Don’t you love the old brickwork in this building?  It’s a nice complement to the wooden shelving.

there is so much to look at and pick from

It was so gray and dreary out that we took our time to look at each type of peppercorn, read the labels, and decide what we felt like bringing home.  We checked out most of the shelves, opening the jars and smelling all the herbs and spices.  It was a fun and lazy way to spend Saturday morning.

view of Cary Street from inside the store

At this point, my sweetie discovered he didn’t have his wallet.  Rather than stay downtown to grab lunch, we headed home to make sure it was on the counter and let the dogs out for a few minutes.  Shortly after bringing them back in again, my sweetie noticed that the big oak tree outside our fence had a new batch of dead leaves – yep, the hawk was back again, blending into the scenery.

taken through the window and a screen

It was positioned in the tree in such a way that from our back door, its head was behind some branches.  From the window there was a screen, which made the resolution poor.  Plus it was still gray and raining out.

surprisingly, it didn't hear the squirrels scrabbling at the fence

Although I thought the weather was a bit nasty for the hawk to be hunting, the prey was out.  The squirrels ran along the back fence, sideways on the crossbeams.  I thought they were trying to hide, but my sweetie thought there was some . . . ummm. . . nookie involved and that they oblivious to the hawk.  The hawk didn’t react to them either.

When I stepped onto the deck, being careful to not make eye contact, the hawk silently slid away and I got no further shots.

the hawk was still there when this guy stopped

So we went out, got some lunch and did a few more errands.  A few years back, I’d bought some Bose headphones which recently a) broke and b) quit transmitting sound in the one ear.  The Bose shop gave me a very good trade-in towards a new set of headphones.  I was glad I found out they did this before I threw out the broken pair.

he's facing the fireplace!

We finally got home late in the afternoon.  I ran the fire for a while (no dogs cuddled with me on the couch!) and took a nap.  We decided to skip being productive and spent the evening watching our favorite BBC detectives in Midsomer Murders.

his back is to the fire so he can get as much heat as possible

Have a good week!  I hope you enjoyed spending some time with us.

Have you visited A Daily Life recently?  It has a new look to give it more color and make it more visually appealing.  The categories are across the top and make it easier to find something.

Recent posts include an idea for writing about knowing you are loved, a book review on writing about your life, and all kinds of challenges and prompts.

Stop & Go

Today’s theme for Six Word Friday is Stop & Go:

STOP!  Be quiet. . . wait upon God.

Go. . . when the timing is right.

My January goals are doing good, but needing some adjustments.  I’m not able to spend three hours a week organizing and decluttering, but I’ve gotten in a solid one hour each week.  I think that will be good enough.  Instead of ending this goal in March though, I’ll go through June.  That’s still less hours overall, but I should make a big difference in the piles of stuff.

I’m enjoying my class at the Digital Scrapbooker on making up a photo album about myself, but I’m not getting any real traction on it.  That might have been a mistake for this year.

I’ve been working on my book, keeping up my blogs, and continuing to take photos (thankfully not every day though).  Things are lining up for my writing and doors are opening that never existed in the past.

The dogs are enjoying their extra cuddles at night.  There has been some decrease in the blogs.  I’ve been unusually tired after work this week, so by the time I enjoy the warm bodies and the warm fire, I’m ready for bed.

And as I’ve written earlier, I’m doing my daily devotions using Jesus Calling.  That’s led to a variety of prayers, contemplation, and some attitude adjustments.

That’s the Friday update!  The beagle is back at the door waiting to be let out – again.  You never know what changed since 15 minutes ago.

Over at A Daily Life, Kate from Believe Anyway has some questions for you to use and an example from her own blog of writing about when you knew you were loved.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Gifts to Laugh, Pray & Be Quiet

Today’s January Joy Dare is to look for a gift that makes you laugh, a gift that makes you pray, and a gift that makes you quiet.

Laugh – I loved this post by Kate from Chronicles of a Country Girl.  She titled it “Let the Good Times Roll” and it shows her dog rolling around on his back.  Unfortunately, my picture of the beagle doing it looks like a beached whale and is not quite something I’d use anywhere to advertise my blog!

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Pray – I’ve found a Christian writer’s conference in May.  I’d given no thought to something like this (nor is it on my wishlist of travel this year either!), but other things are falling in line for my writing.  I think this may be a path in front of me.  For a number of reasons, my favorite boy toy thinks I should go.

I’ve gone to some of the weekend classes at the University of Iowa for their writer’s workshops.  They were fun and I got a lot out of them.   I’d always wanted to go back for a full week, but never did.  Although my writing has been a goal for quite a few years, this is the year it’s gaining momentum.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Quiet – I’ve taken down some of the Christmas decorations, but left up the lights.  The other night, my favorite boy toy went out to do some errands.  I sat there quietly in the dark, enjoying the fire and the lights, and just relaxed as I cuddled the dogs.  It was a wonderful gift of solitude.   I did some praying, but mostly I just sat there and absorbed the silence.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Thank you to my new subscribers!  I look forward to getting to know each of you better.  I’ve made so many new friends through this blog.  I hope to visit your blogs shortly, if I haven’t already.

Jesus Calling – Mary vs. Martha

My daily devotional for this year is from the book, “Jesus Calling“, by Sarah Young.  It’s similar to the classic, “God Calling“, but (for me), more contemporary.  I wanted something simpler for this year, that I could contemplate throughout the day.

However, I’ve already had a few meltdowns with it.  It might be short, but I’ve had things to work out each day as I read it.  A fellow blogger, Derek at No Throw Aways, had asked me what I thought of the book and I did a little venting – just a little:

Jesus Calling is a great book so far, but I’ve had to really do some thinking and praying about what is in there. I agree with it, but am really resistant right now. It’s the place I’m at, not the book.

For example, on day 1, it challenges us to come eager to be changed. I’m tired of change. I’m tired of my dreams being broken. I’ve been obedient and pretty much watched many things important to me get destroyed in the process. I’m getting better on that one after prayer but after all these years, it still hurts.

It also uses the Mary vs. Martha verses. You know what? I deal with a bunch of Mary’s in a particular situation. They dump all the work on everyone else so they can fritter off for fun. You know, the real stuff still has to get done and I’m tired of being one of the ones doing it. The Mary’s get to sit at Jesus feet because frankly, they don’t do their share of the work so everyone can sit at Jesus feet. Selfish and irresponsible is what I call it. So I haven’t quite worked through that one yet.

The other days haven’t been much easier. I’m not much liking starting the days upset, but am glad it’s simple enough for me to retain throughout the day and ponder.

Derek’s a youth pastor at the Cape Cod Bible Alliance Church.  He wrote me back a wonderful response that helped me to reset (he granted me permission to share his note back):

Yes, change is hard for sure, but it is a part of becoming a disciple of Jesus. Frustrations come because there is trouble in this world and a lot of it. Does that take away from God’s goodness or plan? No, it really doesn’t. So, I would encourage you to stick with it and consider these thoughts as important to your long term growth.

Mary and Martha is a great story about priorities. I understand what it is like to deal with people who don’t pull their weight, but this is not the most specific application of that passage. The point really is that we can get sidetracked with things that really don’t matter and miss what really matters; spending time with Jesus.

Yes, things need to get done. I have 4 children and a full time job and masters degree, work …..etc…etc…etc…So, we can’t just sit around. At the same time, the focus is on abiding in Christ (John 15)…following Him, walking with Him and pondering the Word as you go about your life. (as you are).  This passage does not give credence to laziness. The Bible has a lot to say about that as well– Read through Proverbs for that.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

It took me a few more days to realize that while I was frustrated with some Mary’s in my life, I’ve also dealt with the Martha’s, who were so busy doing that they couldn’t enjoy being nor would they let anyone else enjoy it either.  They were so busy with the superficial, they missed what was really going on.

The key is balance.  Had Mary helped more and Martha expected less (much less), both could have sat at Jesus feet to absorb his teachings.

I’ve been the Martha too.  It’s easy to fall into that trap.  As a working mother, I ran from work to the kitchen to homework to bed.  It was hard carving out quality or quantity time to spend with my daughter or husband.  I had a little orange tabby cat during that time.  He wasn’t much for cuddling, but when he wanted attention, he was dead last in my priorities.  He was lucky to have a few minutes in my lap on the weekends.  I felt bad for him, but there just wasn’t enough time to do it all.

Did I spend time at Jesus feet?  I don’t remember.  There were a lot of heartbreaks during that time.  The good times barely outweighed the bad times.  I can remember not trusting God, but praying anyhow.  I read through the Bible – all of it – several times, often using The Daily Walk.  So I guess there was a part of me that was Mary and sat at Jesus feet, however rushed or stressed it might have been.

I’ll share more about my thoughts from Jesus Calling throughout the year.  For now, I leave you with my thoughts on Martha and Mary for you to consider in your own life.  There’s always a need for balance, to get things done but to spend time with God also.  I’m not the only one who seesaws between the two and knowing that helps me to recognize it faster and make whatever adjustments I need.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

My post yesterday about taking a walk neglected to mention that over at A Daily Life, I provided other links from bloggers who wrote about their walks.  Today post is a book review on “Turning Personal Experiences Into Parables” by Eddie Jones and Cindy Sproles.

Today’s small stones:

The car is so cold.  Even with my gloves on, I feel the cold.  Finally, the temperature gauge starts moving.  I turn on the heater, yank off my glove, and feel the warm air flow over my stiff fingers.  I turn my hand this way and that, then take off my other glove to hold it over the vent on the other side.  I redirect the air to my feet – ahhhh, such bliss.  I start to smile as I warm up, happy to be comfortable as I drive.

Taking A Walk In January

I got off work early enough on Saturday to take a walk at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.

Not too surprisingly, the gardens were fairly empty.  The temperatures have dropped considerably and the wind had a bite to it.

I hadn’t intended to wear my winter coat to walk, but did so as I’d left my lighter fleece coat at the office from my lunchtime walks.

I was glad for the coat; shortly after I started walking, the clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped more as the wind got stronger.

The leaves have been gone for a while; the pitcher plants have died back.

But there was still beauty to be found.

It was rather bleak though and I found my mood matching it.

Which made no sense.  Work had gone well.  We’re over the worst of it.  My co-workers continue to be a strong team.  We care for each other and encourage each other to hang in there.

But I was tired and needing a nap.

I couldn’t resist looking at everything though, even if I didn’t know what it was.

It was nice being in the fresh air.

It was nice paying attention to look for beauty, even in winter.

I saw things I hadn’t seen before.

There was still a lot of green, from the pines to the ivy to the red berries.

As tired as I was, I went into the greenhouse to see what was there.  It was warm and there was no wind.

The Christmas tree was still up, but the flowers made me think of Valentine’s Day.

Then I came home, kissed my husband, cuddled some dogs, and took a nap.

Other walks are posted for March, April, October, and November.

For other ideas on taking a walk, visit A Daily Life to see examples of how others do this type of a post.

Accomplishing My Goals

Last week, I shared some of my ideas for my 2012 goals (listed in a separate tab above).  The list is lengthy and more than one person has asked me how I will get all that done this year.

I won’t.  I make up the list of everything that I could possibly want to accomplish.  It’s a reminder and a help in prioritizing my free time. But there is no way that I can physically get them all done.

Here’s the short list of how I will get things done in 2012:

  • Review the list each month
  • Set short term objectives (sub-goals)
  • Look for opportunities to present themselves
  • Use momentum to keep my goals moving forward

At the beginning of each month, I look over my list of goals.  Some are in process and I need to set a goal of what to accomplish for the next few weeks.  I realize that some goals aren’t going to get done and move them to the bottom of my list.  Some will come off because they are either done, done enough, or turned out to not be worthy of my efforts.

I believe in having sub-goals as they are the milestones to completion.  When I review my goals, I list the steps I will need to complete them.  Or at least the steps I think I need, as it is subject to constant adjustment.

For January, I plan to:

  • Do my daily devotional using Jesus Calling
  • Blog daily, Monday through Friday
  • Spend 3 hours a week in decluttering the house, either a little each night or at once on the weekends
  • Do my scrapbooking assignment for this month
  • Start organizing my notes for my e-book, looking into some software to help do it
  • Spend quality time with the dogs

Opportunities have already begun to present themselves.  NaNoWriMo (writing a novel in a month) was on my list last year.  I have to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November.  That means about 2,000 words a day or six double spaced pages.  I decided that to do it, I’d need to develop 50 chapter ideas, even if later they got combined.  By late September, I barely had 15.  I knew in October that it simply would not happen.

So it’s on the list again this year.  I’ve been reading a great book on outlining your book before you write it called, “Outlining Your Novel:  Mapping Your Way to Success” by K.M. Weiland.  She takes three months to outline her books.  Three months!  And I was whining about doing it in a couple of week in September.  My goal for this month is to complete her book.  Next month, I will start working the various suggestions that she has, probably doing it sequentially in the order she has in the book.

The scrapbooking class has a topic each month for recording our life.  The goal is to do a two page spread each month.  I’d love to do more than that, but realistically, two pages a month is doable.  More is not.  So far, I’ve downloaded the course materials and listened to them.  Next weekend, I will select the pictures I want to use.  The weekend after, I’ll create the pages.

One of my goals is contradictory to other goals – that of spending quality time with the dogs.  I’ve not given them as much attention since moving to Virginia.  The dog parks here are terrible, being not much bigger than our backyard.  I tried walking them more frequently, but the beagle’s back won’t take much walking and my back won’t take the three of them yanking me around.

They’re all getting older – as we all are – but I don’t want regrets.  When we got dog #1 as a puppy, I spent so much time with him that I failed to give cat #1 as much attention as he was used to.  I’m not sure I could have done it much differently as the puppy was high energy and needed lots of exercise.  But I still am sorry that I failed to give cat #1 as much attention as he needed.  I don’t want to repeat that.

For this week, I’ve been going to the couch after supper to give out hugs and cuddles.  All three dogs are showing up for that!  If I’m giving out love, there are volunteers lining up.  But it’s taking up my quality blogging and reading time.  If I give them the attention they need, I might be going right to bed afterwards.  Tonight I’m writing my blog post first, and dog #1 is under the kitchen table, resting his head on my leg and poking my hip when I stop petting him.  He wants me to stop paying attention to the computer and go in the family room.

I’ve done a few one-on-one walks during this nice weather.  The dogs have enjoyed that, although it’s getting harder to sneak out just one without the other one getting upset.  If the miniature pinscher could talk, it would be all over.  He gets excited and then frustrated when I leave him behind, but he can’t communicate to the other one that there’s a walk happening and they weren’t invited to go with!

So I’m still working that goal out as I type one-handed while rubbing a dog’s face.

How about you?  How do you get your goals done?  What do you plan to accomplish in January 2012?

The recent post at A Daily Life is a book review by guest Ellen Olinger, of “Breath For The Bones” by Luci Shaw.

I took this picture the other day along the canal.  The interplay of the light and dark is what attracted me to it, although the shadows could use some lightening.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Today’s small stones:

We had tostadas for supper tonight.  The flat yellow shells were so crispy!  I love the gritty, slightly greasy feel as I lift it to my mouth.  It snaps off as I bite down, then crunches as it mixes with the soft ground beef and refried beans.  The sharp edges scrap the inside of my mouth as my molars grind it into smaller pieces before I finally swallow it.