I Cannot Pass Up

Taken near Brown's Island in Richmond, Virginia

Taken near Brown’s Island in Richmond, Virginia

Things I can’t pass up:

  • Books – love, love, love them.  I can never have too many books.
  • Bookstores – I have to check them out whenever I see one.  Each one carries something a little different, so who knows what treasure I’ll find.  Checking out 2 or 3 in a weekend is better yet!
  • Taking pictures – No, this list is in no particular order.  I enjoy the walk, looking and observing, and recording it for future enjoyment.
  • Writing in my journal – I find it relaxing and rewarding to record my life.  It helps me work out my thoughts and emotions, plan, and later, remember what happened.
  • Chocolate – especially dark chocolate.  Yummmm.


Lunch at the La Petite Tea Room near Williamsburg, Virginia

Lunch at the La Petite Tea Room near Williamsburg, Virginia

  • Tea – I love buying loose tea, making tea, and drinking iced tea.  Everything about the tea process makes is irresistible to me.
  • Glass – I really like glass items, from paperweights to canning jars.  The feel and texture just draws me.
  • Leather – same as glass.  Leather has a great scent in addition to how good it feels.  Surprisingly, I’m not very nuts about leather coats or gloves, and my purses tend to be nylon.  But I love leather wallets, leather shoes, and leather books (no surprise there – two for one!).
  • Dogs – Yes, I love my three, but I also love petting dogs whenever I find them out with their owners.  I always let them sniff my hand first.  If a dog doesn’t want to sniff my hand or doesn’t wag after sniffing me though, I don’t touch it.  But I’ll pet every dog I see if it lets me.
A rare picture of all three them together!

A rare picture of all three them together!

  • Popcorn – I can’t stay away from fresh, hot popcorn.  The taste, the crunchiness, and how it fills me are all appealing.
  • Stationary – I love stationary and I love browsing through it at the stores!  Unfortunately, I’m not very good about actually using it.  This is something I try to not buy, as much as I love it.
  • Blogs – Reading blogs is a fascinating past-time for me.  There are so many great ones out there!  I love reading about people and their lives, finding out information, and so often, learning that I’m not the only one with that problem or who feels that way.  I have to limit how much I read on-line, but I’d do it all day if I could.

The tomatoes were from the garden; the berries came from the local farmer’s market.

  • Berries – These are my favorite fruit.  I love them all – strawberries, blueberries, and especially raspberries.  When my daughter was younger, we went to see “pick your own” farms.  We’ve done it a few times more recently when I visit her in the spring.  It’s fun, but a lot of work.  These days, I’d rather just buy them at the store.
  • Sea salt – In the last few years, I’ve become quite the connoisseur on the different sea salts.  I use different ones different ways, from the pink Himalaya salt in my regular cooking, to a smoked version for my soups, and the charcoal based ones on my meats and rice.  I enjoy trying out new ones too, so each time I see them at the store, I have to stop and look them over.
  • Pinterest – there is such a wealth of information on Pinterest, from diet to recipes to photography and everything else.  Some of it’s garbage, but much of it is actually very good.  If you’re interested in following me, click on the link to the right.  My quotes board is particularly good!
  • Surfing the Internet – Similar to reading blogs and pinning on Pinterest, I find the Internet to be endlessly fascinating.  It’s yet something else I have to be careful to limit.  There is a lot of garbage out there and it’s not worthy a lot of time.  But I like it nonetheless!

So that’s my list for Day #2 of 30 Days of Lists.  My personal journal was just a straight list, but I wanted to share it here with some commentary.  I don’t know that I’ll do that each day, but this was fun (for me). 


Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

I’d think that with all the pollen on these hollyhocks there would be a lot of bees.  I was surprised to see just this solitary bee partying at the feast.

I feel the same way some days, like I’m the only one that sees or enjoys the beauty or laughter around me.  I’m always gawking at what’s around me, whether walking during lunch or sitting outside on the deck.  I see the bees and the butterflies.  I notice the peacefulness of the trees and the sky.

The day the blue heron was fishing in the James River near the bridge, I accosted people on the path to go look at it.  No one else noticed it.

I wish I had my camera for that, but I didn’t.  Not everything can be captured in a photo and somedays, remembering beauty and laughter is enough.

To see how what other photographers posted for “solitary”, check out the comments here (at the bottom).

Last Few Days Of Summer

I’ve been enjoying these last few days off.

The tax returns were in good shape heading into the weekend, so I took Friday off to go Colonial Williamsburg.  Did I ever take the pictures!  I’m still working on them, but here’s one of many from my camera that day.  Right now I couldn’t even tell you what my favorite picture is – I’m still reviewing them trying to decide what even turned out.

The Governor’s Palace had two beds of lantanas that was full of butterflies and moths, as well as a type of sphinx moth known as a hummingbird moth.  The hummingbird moths don’t stop moving, even when they’re sipping from the flower.  I cranked up my ISO to a faster speed and put my camera to continous shoot, but even with that a great many didn’t turn out.  In other words, I got this.  Can you find a moth in this picture?  I couldn’t.

I haven’t seen sphinx moths since we lived in Iowa.  As soon as I saw it, I knew it wasn’t a bee, but I had to watch it for a minute before I realized what it was.  I have some pictures in sharper focus, but it was hard trying to find one in focus that was sharp yet showed the moth sipping its nectar.  I have several that show how transparent its wings are, but I have to go through more photos to find one that’s sharp enough to share.

The flowers were beautiful of course.  Some of last spring’s flowers are now pomegrantes that look pretty edible to me after they finish ripening.

I’m glad I went on Friday.  The rest of the weekend has been hot, humid and rainy.  I decluttered more piles, tossing and shredding several garbage bags worth of paper.  I also went through the current month’s pile of papers, paid bills, and got some “to do” items done that were in the piles.

I’ve also had some relaxation.  I’ve been reading “Dearie” by Bob Spitz about Julia Child.  I’m up to the part where she has just met Simca and they’ve started a teaching school for other American women living in Paris who want to learn French cooking.  Up to this point in her life, Julia Child’s had little focus or purpose in her life.  She’s nearly 40 by the time she’s learned French cooking and hasn’t even started contributing to the book that she would eventually be famous for.

I’ve also done some much lighter reading – Kathy Reichs’ new book, Bones Are Forever and Tess Gerritsen’s Last to Die (Rizzoli and Isles).  Both were good entertainment for a few hours.  Thankfully it’s been cool enough in the mornings to just sit on the deck, supervise the dogs, and enjoy some fresh air.

I haven’t done much in the garden.  It needs to be cleaned out and dead plants removed.  I did pick some ripe tomatos (finally!  yippee!) and squished caterpillars on the collard greens.  Some of those poor leaves are practically skeletal.

That’s not all that’s skeletal – my parsley has caterpillars again!  I watched them this morning eating quickly and voraciously.  When I looked again this afternoon, they’ve already doubled in size.  There’s no sign of the robin – yet.

The beagle’s been back in the lantana again and it’s looking pretty beat down.  I think I’ll have to get a little cheap fence around it to keep him out.  Of course, if the watermelon in the middle of it would ever ripen, that would help it too!

As I was working on my photos last night, I watched last season’s Doctor Who and this year’s season premiere.  I hadn’t watched much of it last year as the storyline didn’t appeal to me.  But the season opener was really good – quite a twist to the Dalek story.  I’m glad I saw it.

Here’s another Williamsburg picture for you as a reward for reading this rambling post.

Enjoy your holiday (those of you who aren’t having to work)!  Hopefully your weather is good enough to spend some time outside.

Summer Doldrums

I’ve got the end of summer doldrums big time.  I don’t feel like doing anything.  I want to sit outside, read, pet the dogs, and just daydream.  Not on the rainy days – those need a nap – but on days like today, when the sky was a beautiful mid-blue with big white fluffy clouds.

It’s always like this with me at the end of summer.  I don’t want to exercise.  I can’t hardly stand to be inside.  I want no responsibilities, no rules, and nothing to do for days on end.

Of course, that’s not life.  Work is in full swing now that the federal tax return is nearly done.  My team has already started working on the state income tax returns.  But the rest of my life?  Slowed down.

I love this quote:

Rest is not idleness,
and to lie sometimes on the grass
under trees on a summer’s day,
listening to the murmur of the water,
or watching the clouds float across the sky,
is by no means a waste of time. 

John Lubbock

I know this won’t last very long – by next week I’ll feel more like being productive.  But for now, I’m relaxing and enjoying the last few days before the holiday weekend.

I’ve also been playing with my pictures from Colonial Williamsburg.  Here’s one of the private residences, straight out of the camera:

Straight out of the camera

And here it is, done up as an oil painting:

And here is. . . a beagle who just got yelled at for trampling the lantana.  What, you thought I did the building a different way?

Enjoy the last few days of August.  Here’s a final thought for you:

Summer afternoon, summer afternoon;
to me those have always been
the two most beautiful words in the English language. 
Henry James

Working Back From Discouragement – Overwhelmed and Overdoing It (#3)

This is part three of a series on how I’m dealing with discouragement right now.  This is from a post I did in May and the wonderful comments that my readers left for me.  So far, I’ve explored why I need to lower my expectations and not be so perfectionistic, the limits of my time and energy, that trying things and not liking them is okay, and my job is a factor in my free time.

Here are two more things that are contributing to my being so discouraged.

I feel overwhelmed and unsatisfied.   I have more to write than I have time or energy to do.  It’s hard for me to write after work and I don’t like writing when I’m so tired.  Reducing the amount of my posts and writing them over the weekend helps me enjoy the process more.

It would be wonderful to post every week day, but I’m not much enjoying the journey.  Last year I posted every day for the random word challenge, but a fair amount of posts were short and superficial.  There are so many good blogs out there that I don’t want to do that simply to post to my blog.  I’d rather reduce my frequency and say something more meaningful.

Surprisingly, I’m continuing to increase subscribers even with my recent slowdown (thank you!!), and I want it worth everyone’s time to read what I’m writing.  Which you do – I don’t have lots of subscribers like other blogs, but my goodness you are faithful to leave comments and respond to my blog.  That is SOOO satisfying.  Thank you for your loyalty.

I also overdid it.  I love reading blogs, leaving comments, and I really love having relationships with other bloggers.  But it got to be way too much.  I’ve unsubscribed a bunch of E-mails and / or newsletters that I was getting where bloggers or advertisers had no idea who I was.  I’ve reduced to a weekly frequency blogs that I’ve not built a relationship with.  That leaves daily my fellow bloggers who leave me comments and push the “like” button.  It’s much more manageable for me to follow the blogs where I have a relationship and read the others as I have time.

I’ve reduced the number of comments I’m leaving too and I’m sorry about that.  Some weeks it’s easier for me to sit and leave you notes, other weeks it just isn’t.  I also need to be more timely responding to the comments you’re leaving me on my blog.  I’m thrilled each time someone takes time to leave me a note, which is why I try to respond to each comment.

I plan (for now) to keep my other blog going, albeit slowly.  I have such a love for keeping journals and recording my life.  I want to encourage everyone to do it, whether in a journal, blog, or photo album.  I believe the greatest gift we can give to future generations is the legacy of who we were and what we did with our lives.  I might not use as many guest bloggers due to lack of time, but I still want to post ideas, how-to’s, and encouragements to record our lives.

I could collapse the two blogs together, but not every reader of this blog is interested in the topics of A Daily Life.  I probably shouldn’t have separated them out, but it seemed right at the time.  Until I decide otherwise, I’m going to continue with it for now.  That’s always subject to change (of course!).

My next post will be a wrap-up of a few more things that have been bothering me and the steps I’m taking to make changes.

I love this little house in Colonial Williamsburg!  The garden is constantly changing and the scene is different each time I stop by.  I took this shot in mid-May, the same time as this one here.

Some places just sing songs to me and I can’t take too many pictures. This is one of my very favorites.

Lingering In The Moment

One of my mantras lately is to linger in the moment, whether I’m enjoying going out for breakfast before work, reading my book during lunch or anything else that I’m particularly enjoying.

This is distinguished from savoring the moment.  According to Wiktionary, savor means “to appreciate, enjoy, or relish something”.  Linger however, means “to stay or remain in a place or situation, especially as if unwilling to depart”.

Clearly I am savoring the moment if I decide to linger in it.  But for me, lingering in the moment is to stretch it out just a little longer.  If I’ve gone out for breakfast before work, I’ll stay for a few more minutes to visit with my favorite boy toy before going.  If I’m reading during my lunch break and finish eating, instead of running back to my desk, I sit there a little longer and enjoy more of my book.  My walks stretch out more on a nice day, I fondle the dog’s ears longer when I pet them, and I stand outside looking at the sunset and let my mind wander without rushing right into the house to get more done.

I’m finding myself more relaxed, more enjoying the moment, and overall just happier.  I don’t know why I started doing it – probably on a particularly bad day I took a few minutes longer and enjoyed it so much it became a habit.  I’m glad I do it though and I’m glad I’m reminding myself to do when possible.  As with anything, it has to be done with discretion.  My employer expects me to come in and get my work done, chores have to be done (especially if it involves feeding the dogs!), and life lived.

But each day has some enjoyable moments and it’s worth hanging around with them for just a few more minutes when I find them.

This lovely picture is from Colonial Williamsburg last month.  I took a vacation day and spent the day by myself taking pictures, eating out, and sitting by the little pond in the Governor’s Palace.  All day I lingered in the moment and came home in a wonderful mood.  It was a beautiful cool day with low humidity, so instead of taking the shuttle bus from the visitor’s center, I walked into the historical area and walked everywhere else I wanted to go.  I enjoyed the beautiful weather that day by staying outside (even to eat) and turning my face to the sun everywhere I went.

This week has gotten hot and humid; the heat index has been in the upper 90’s all week.  I’m glad I enjoyed the gorgeous day when I did.

Bridge along the footpath from the visitors center into Colonial Willliamsburg. You don’t see this bridge if you take the shuttle bus.

This picture was stylized using Topaz Labs filters to give it a dreamy look.