Wrong forecast, right day

spring dawn by JulieAnn Corbin

For the past few weeks if the forecast calls for overcast skies and/or rain, it’s pretty certain it will be overcast and/or rain. Even if the forecast doesn’t call for such conditions, it’s pretty certain they’ll arrive. Yesterday the forecast said fog in the morning then clearing and becoming mostly sunny. Well, it was certainly foggy in the morning but it never really cleared and I can count the times I saw the sun through the clouds on one hand. On top of that, the predicted high was 55 and it only got up to 46. I was rather bummed because I really wanted to see the sun after days of cloudiness and rain.

I didn’t have much hope for seeing the sun today as when I checked the forecast last night it was predicting rain and clouds all day long. However, when I woke up this morning, the sky appeared brighter than usual and lo and behold, when I looked out the window, I could see the sun! I was so happy I almost did a little dance! I managed to control myself though and went about the usual morning duties of waking the girls, making their breakfasts, packing their lunches and seeing them safely on the bus to school. You can bet I was smiling the whole time though!

plum tree in country by JulieAnn Corbin

Plum tree, my back yard and the farmer’s field beyond.

After I did a couple freelance blog posts, the clouds had returned but the forecast had changed from all day rain to chance of scattered thunderstorms. I considered that a vast improvement! As it wasn’t raining yet when I finished my work, I decided to tackle cleaning up and arranging my backyard bird oasis. I started the bird oasis two springs ago and every year it’s in the same spot, but always a little different. I put a little fence up around my bird feeder poles and I set planters of flowers around them with a fountain/bird bath in there somewhere.

After mowing the grass that had grown a foot tall around the formerly fenced border of the bird oasis, I then arranged the area, put the little fence pieces back in the ground and filled the fountain/bird bath. Unfortunately, when I turned the fountain on, it didn’t work so I’ll need to buy a new pump to get it running again. Not a big issue and the fountain can serve as a water holder for now. True to form, I hung my bird feeders, crouched down to fix a few things and then stood up whacking my head on the bottom of one of the feeders. I just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t do that at least once and it’s usually more than once…

backyard bird oasis by JulieAnn Corbin

Needs a few more flowers and feeders but otherwise good!

I usually move all of my bird feeders off the deck and into the backyard bird oasis, but I’ve grown so fond of watching the birds out my desk window that I’ll be leaving some on my deck this year. That means I have to get a few more for the oasis, but there are two hanging back there now and the finches have already found them and started feasting.

Once the bird oasis was arranged, I had some lunch and then took Jazz for our daily walk. The sun popped out a few times as we walked, which helped warm the day up further. After the walk I eagerly spread the comforter out on my deck swing, grabbed my beading supplies and settled out on the swing to focus on beading up flower earrings. I hooked Jazzmin up to the lead I attached to the deck and as it’s long enough for her to sit in the grass next to the driveway, she happily stayed there watching for squirrels.

Beading on that swing with the birds eating at the nearby feeders and Jazz on squirrel patrol nearby is one of my new favorite past times and I beaded away blissfully for a couple hours until I realized it was past dinner time. I wasn’t especially hungry yet, but I figured Jazz was so I brought her inside and got her dinner before assembling my own. Once I was done eating, I was back out on the swing, refusing to waste a single moment of warmth and periodic sunshine after being trapped inside for so many days lately.

beaded flowers by JulieAnn Corbin

My beaded flowers and new bead mail. Tons of happiness!

Eventually the sky turned rather dark, the temperature dropped and it started to sprinkle as a little rain cloud passed over so I decided it was time to call it a day and head inside the house. I took my beads inside and then went back out to fold up the comforter to bring inside and I realized that my cheeks were sore because I’d been smiling so much while I was beading. My mind, body and spirit had really needed the warmer temperatures, sunshine and fresh air that I got a huge dose of today and although the forecast had been wrong, the day had gone very right!

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The Power of Sitting Still

downy woodpecker by JulieAnn Corbin

Yesterday was a bright, beautiful, sunny spring day so I decided to sit out on my deck swing in the afternoon. The swing is rather large and can fold down flat into a bed, something I used to do more often when I wanted to take naps outside on nice days. The swing was a Mother’s Day gift many years ago when I was still married and although it wasn’t easy to relocate from my ex’s house to mine, I wasn’t about to leave it behind.

Due to daily assault from sun, wind, rain and sometimes snow, I’ve already had to replace the seat cushion and the original canopy ripped through a couple years’ ago. The current seat cushion is starting to rip too so I cover it with a bedspread when I sit out there and a few days ago I had the clever idea of using plastic tablecloths as a new canopy. I’ve used a sheet in the past but that doesn’t keep the rain off if it’s sprinkling lightly and I want to stay outside, but the plastic tablecloths offer some protection, come in various colors and patterns and are easy to replace when they wear out. Jordan helped me put on the two new plastic tablecloths I purchased from the dollar store yesterday and I attached them to the canopy frame with some tablecloth clips and duct tape. Never underestimate the power of ingenuity and duct tape!

After placing a nice, thick, seashell-themed bedspread on the slightly ripped seat cover, I sat down on my swing and enjoyed the gentle rocking motion in the warm sunshine. I had a small notebook with me to jot down ideas for my jewelry designs and business plan and so I opened that up and started writing things out in cursive. I usually print my writing, but I periodically write in cursive so I don’t lose a writing ability that schools don’t seem to want to teach anymore. Both my printing and cursive are nearly impossible to read because I’m left handed and my teachers didn’t know how to teach a lefty, but I can usually decipher it or make it more legible when I write slower.

As I was writing, I started hearing little scraping sounds on the deck railing and I looked up to see a downy woodpecker hop-flying from one railing post to the next in an effort to creep closer to the suet feeder without me noticing. I have the frame from a child-size cushioned swing on my deck and although the seat part is gone, I hang bird feeders from the frame so I can see the birds when I looked out the window next to my desk. My cats love sitting on top of the bookshelf by that window to watch “Bird TV” too.

Sitting on the deck mere feet from the feeders, I continued to watch the male downy with his spot of red on the back of his head and I remained very still as I watched. He eventually felt confident enough to fly to the suet and begin eating and I smiled, happy to be able to watch a bird so closely.

A few minutes later Jaycie came outside and wanted to sit in the swing with me. She sat down next to me and I told her that if she sat very still, the woodpecker or other birds might come back and eat. Although Jaycie managed to sit quiet and still for a few minutes, no birds came to the feeders and she eventually grew bored and went down the deck steps to swing on the swing set (her favorite outdoor activity.) I didn’t really expect my 9 year old to be patient enough to wait for birds, but I’m sure someday she’ll appreciate the merit of sitting still.

Eventually Jaycie went back inside the house and I remained on the swing, writing in my little notebook. The longer I sat there, the more comfortable all sorts of birds became with me and within an hour, there were chickadees, nuthatches, sparrows, goldfinches, purple finches, blue jays, and downy woodpeckers frequenting the feeders. A pair of cardinals flew into the nearby trees, but they weren’t brave enough to come to the feeders and the male chose to sit in a branch and scold me for daring to sit near his feeders.

Although I wasn’t sitting perfectly motionless because I continued to write in my notebook, the birds were no longer as afraid of me and I could quietly observe them as they came and went from the feeders. Chickadees are by far the bravest birds and a couple of them came to the feeder hanging on the big swing frame within arm’s reach of where I sat. Someday I hope the chickadees trust me enough to eat from my hands, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure with patience and perseverance, it will.

sparrow goldfinch and nuthatch by JulieAnn Corbin

Goldfinch on top left feeder, sparrow on middle blue feeder and nuthatch on deck below feeders.

Sitting still on a swing may seem like a waste of time to some people who feel the need to always be on the go, but to me it’s a necessity. I need my quiet time in nature to recharge my spirit and refocus my energy. Moreover, I was still being productive as I worked on ideas for my jewelry and practiced the dying art of cursive. You don’t always have to be moving and in a rush to accomplish great things, sometimes taking some time to sit still can carry you further on your journey than you imagine.

Little gifts, big meaning

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Card and gift from my daughters.

I received all my favorite birthday gifts yesterday: time with my daughters and my mom, well wishes from friends, a handmade card from my girls and a hand sewn stuffed owl from my oldest daughter, Jordan and a little moola from my mom to buy whatever I wanted. It was a truly wonderful day!

Such a wonderful day went far too fast but I enjoyed every moment and that’s what counts. I even provided a little after dinner entertainment for my family when I tripped my way into the kitchen with my usual Julie “grace.” If grace and poise is supposed to come with age, it’s not happening in my case, but I’m okay with that. My clumsiness is one of my most endearing qualities. 😉

Before I settled in for a day of college work, I headed to the closest bead store to buy supplies for a recent butterfly barrette order. The bead store is like paradise to me and I had a hard time choosing only what I needed. I managed to make it out of there spending only my budget consisting of birthday money and the down payment on the barrette and that was truly a miracle!

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So many beads to choose from!

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Today's bead haul.

Now that my work is done for the day, I’ve settled on the couch to do some beading and watch some Netflix and I can already tell that being 38 is going to be awesome!

The Power of Music

On my drive back from my latest trip to New England, I heard a song played on one of the many radio stations I scanned through when my smartphone didn’t have a strong enough signal to stream Spotify. It was new to me, but probably not new to the radio and I instantly loved it. It reminded me of the late 80’s and early 90’s pop music I grew up with and it was upbeat and perky, just like me!

After listening to the song a few times on different stations, I finally learned that it was Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon. I’d never heard of Walk the Moon, but then there’s a lot of current artists I don’t know because I rarely listen to actual radio stations. When I went on YouTube to watch the video for the song I was extremely happy to see that it went along perfectly with the song. So many music videos these days are weird or totally ruin the meaning of the song, but the video for Shut Up and Dance was spot on with a very 80’s look and feel. Having grown up during that era, it’s rather odd to see it all coming back, but odd in a good way.

I finally remembered to get the Walk the Moon album with the song I liked on it yesterday and I’ve been listening to a handful of the songs on repeat ever since. Overall, there’s only 3-4 songs off the album that mesh with my tastes, but the ones I do like, I REALLY like! How can you tell when I really like a new song? Well, it makes me dance in my car, dance around my kitchen while cleaning it and dance while painting.

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I hadn’t painted a new picture in several months but the new music was exactly what I needed to kick my inspiration into gear. It felt so wonderful putting brush to canvas and smearing acrylic colors all over the place! Painting is a very freeing experience for me and I always listen to upbeat music while doing it. As I already said, I dance to the music when I paint and I also have my living room curtains open so anyone driving by can see me if they look in. I don’t particularly care though as I imagine I’m already known as the “peculiar single woman who walks her yellow dog a lot” by most of the people in my neighborhood.

All that matters to me is that the power of music can lift my spirit and my feet and spark my creativity in the best way!

A little something

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I’ve finally been able to do some beading the past few days and even that little something is a big thing! In the past when I’ve been sick, I’ve still had the energy to at least sit on the couch and bead, but with this bronchitis, I’ve only had the energy to focus on one thing and that’s been either taking care of my girls or working. Today I managed to find energy for my girls, my work, and my beading and that made me much happier! I still needed an afternoon nap, but I wake up feeling a little better every day and I’m hoping that soon I’ll be able to work out again. I’ve grown tired of feeling like a tired lump and I’m eager to feel animated and energetic again!

Why do beads excite me so?

For tonight’s blog, I decided to post the very first assignment I received during last term’s Intro to Creative Writing class. The prompt was to write a poem that addressed a burning why question and after quite a bit of thought, this is what I came up with. Poetry is not my strong point, but I did my best and received a decent grade for my efforts. Enjoy!

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3 cut beads

Why do beads excite me so?

The sight of beads excites me
Because their myriad of colors
Ignite the fire of creativity in my spirit
The way writing used to do
Long ago before my muse departed.

Within those small, round
And perfectly polished pieces
Of colored glass
I see the potential to create
Artwork, jewelry, embellishments
That glimmer with life in sunlight.

Opening the latest delivery
Filled with shiny bead bags, hanks, and tubes
Of new unique hues, tiny sizes, and sparkling finishes
Sends feelings of warmth and eagerness
Through my entire body
As my mind begins to turn.

Shall I create a new pattern?
A beaded picture captured
In a bracelet, barrette, pendant, or earrings
Where each colored bead
Works like paint on a palette.

Or shall I just choose colors?
Cool blues, fiery reds, refreshing yellows
Calming greens, regal purples, earthy browns
Start weaving with needle and thread
Through suede or felt
Until what I see in my mind
Appears in my hands.

The smooth feel of beads relax me
The tiny percussive sound of beads energize me
The spills that send them
Scattering across table and floor
Excite me in undesirable ways
As I’m certain I’ll never find them all.

Beading is my meditation
My Zen garden in a world of chaos
A way to regain focus and calm
Shut out the frantic fears
Of a writer who lives in doubt
That my patterns of words
Will never again be as beautiful
As my beaded creations.

A quiet start to an amazing New Year

fireplace in luxury cabin

How I’ll spend New Year’s Eve in my dream home/cabin in New England someday. 😉 Image courtesy of RedWolfFalls.com

It’s New Year’s Eve and I know there are tons of people with plans to attend fun parties with friends, family, and/or coworkers. I haven’t gone to any type of New Year’s Eve party in many years and while there are aspects I miss such as being with friends, I’m content to just stay home.

My daughters are off with their father to attend a friend’s party where there will be other children their age and lots of fun to be had via the Wii, board games, and other toys. I had them on New Year’s Eve last year and we just hung out at home and snuggled on my bed until midnight to watch the ball drop. I think the girls were asleep by then, heck I think I was half asleep by then.

I have some freelance writing projects to work on today and errands to run before I stop at my mom’s house for a visit and one of my notoriously long bubble baths. I’ll be leaving her house before it gets dark because I don’t want to be on the roads with party goers who might already be inebriated. Once home, I have a bottle of inexpensive sparkling wine to pop open (or twist the top off of), grocery store oriental for dinner, and a cheddar cheese ball to snack on amid beading, creating new paintings, and exploring a new area of craftsmanship I’ve been wanting to try for months. After that, I’ll be snuggled up on the couch with my circus of animals as the electric fireplace heater creates a warming glow.

It will be a quiet New Year’s Eve for me, but that’s okay because I know in my heart that 2015 is going to be an amazing year for me full of new accomplishments, opportunities, and exciting discoveries. Happy New Year!