An inspirational beginning

winter rainbow

There are two rainbow pieces in the sky, one on either side of the sun. My phone camera didn’t do it justice.

I went to bed around 9 p.m. last night and while I was awake briefly around midnight, I didn’t turn the TV on to watch the ball drop. The New Year began without me needing to watch a countdown and I was happier warm and asleep than awake and staring at a TV screen.

I lingered in bed this morning until the sun started peeking through my curtains and Jazzmin’s pathetic eyes finally convinced me to get up and take her outside. The kittens were content to cover me with their furry bodies and try to keep me in bed, but I slid out from underneath their sleeping bag warmth and began my day.

There were some freelance projects in need of my attention so I completed them by the afternoon. The WeatherBug app on my phone told me it was 18 out with a wind chill that made it feel like six and I didn’t envision Jazzmin and I walking in that. Even so, I decided I’d at least take her out with me to get the mail and once outside, I realized it wasn’t quite as frigid as it had been in the morning.

While I successfully posted a blog post every single day in December of 2014, I was unable to stick to my vow of walking Jazzmin every day. I couldn’t walk her while I was sick and getting back out in the cold lost its appeal after that. Regardless, I realized I really needed to start 2015 off right with some sort of walk, so I saddled up Jazz with her backpack and booties and dressed myself in warm clothing.

Despite the wind whipping about, the sun was out and somehow that helped combat the chilly temperatures. I decided we’d take the walk up an adjacent road to a certain black mailbox because it was a bit longer distance than we’d gone on since I recovered from being sick.

As we walked down the first little hill, a hawk alighted from the branches and flew across the road a ways in front of us. That’s always a good sign and told me that walking had been the right decision. We were making our way up the next hill when I just happened to glance to the right and see a raptor flying over the trees. I paused to watch him and figure out what exactly he was (I wasn’t sure if it was a hawk of bald eagle after the bald eagle appeared in my field) and as I watched, I saw a second raptor flying near the first. The way the sun was catching their wings and the distance between us made it difficult for me to determine if they were hawks or eagles and I believe I expressed my confusion aloud.

Much to my amazement, the two raptors immediately started soaring closer to me, as if they’d heard me wonder what kind they were. As one drew close enough, I realized he was indeed a red-tailed hawk and I watched with wide eyes as he flew right above me and then across the road. His companion called to him from a bit further back and while she never came as close to me as the first, she came close enough to show me that she was a red-tailed hawk too. I was so astounded by their behavior that I never thought to get my phone out and try to take a picture. My phone’s camera wouldn’t have done them justice anyway and I think it was far more important that I enjoyed the moment.

Elated by the experience, I continued the last bit to the mailbox and then turned Jazz back around toward home. As I turned to look toward the sun, I received yet another surprise as I saw a small piece of rainbow in the bright halo around the sun. I then saw a second piece of rainbow in the sky on the other side of the sun and I’m certain that my joyful smile was bright enough to match that of the sunlight. I’ve seen a full circular rainbow around the sun before on cold winter days and I’ve also seen the little rainbow pieces as I saw today. Any type of rainbow is a positive sign and omen and considering that I’d noticed them right after the hawks, I felt doubly blessed!

There was a happy lightness in my step as we walked back toward home and Jazzmin was quite pleased to have gotten out for some exercise. I was a few strides from my driveway when I saw another hawk fly through the trees in the distance and my spirit lifted further at the sight of my fourth hawk on such a short walk. The powers that be were determined to start this year by reminding me that I’m never alone and to inspire me as I continue the ever-predictable and wonderful journey of life.

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Getting back out there

image

The lovely blue sky today


The weather lately has been decidedly un-winterlike with temperatures in the 40’s and no sign of snow. As much as I would’ve liked a white Christmas, I can’t control the weather so instead, I made the most of it.

When I was sick, I didn’t walk Jazzmin at all and I’m trying to make up for that now. We aren’t going on walks as long as they were before I got sick, but we’ll get our stride back eventually. Jazz is just glad to get back out there and put pawpads to pavement.

As the weather isn’t bitterly cold, I can pause during the walks to enjoy the scenery and listen to the birds. I love my walks the most when I can linger and appreciate the world around me. Jazz might be happier walking for eternity, but I’m not a dog, I’m a human who likes to truly experience being out in nature.

Snowpup

snow dog

Jazzmin is determined to sniff down to whatever animal tracks are hidden.

While the snow that fell yesterday is lovely, the frigid temperatures are getting old rather fast. I did manage to take Jazzmin for a short walk despite the wind chill in the single digits but I’ve been struggling to warm up ever since. These are the days I long for a nice, big garden tub that I can fill with hot water that doesn’t stink of sulfur. Someday!

Jazzmin isn’t as bothered by the cold as I am. In fact, she loves to plunge her head all the way into the snow past her ears to sniff the tracks in the dirt far below. She always comes back up and snorts the snow off, shaking her head as if she doesn’t understand why her head is all cold and frozen. I envy her ability to withstand the cold because I know I’ll never be a snowbunny…or a snowpup in this case. 😉

Winter wonderland

snow covered road

The view on our walk this morning.

 

Thanks to one of those peculiar weather systems that’s spinning the wrong direction and moving east to west, it’s been snowing all day where I live. In New England, this precipitation was freezing rain and rain but when it moved west to where I live, it transitioned to snow and cold. It isn’t a blizzard or anything near the amount of snow dumped on Buffalo recently, but it’s the most snow we’ve had yet. As it’s still the holiday season, I don’t mind the snow and I’m enjoying the sight of it gently falling as it creates a winter wonderland.

kitten snowball

Daisy playing with the little snowball I brought inside. Jazz ate is shortly after this.

birdwatching kittens

The kittens were exhausted from birdwatching.

A little snow and cold wasn’t going to keep me from my vow to walk Jazzmin every day so we headed out this morning when there were only a few inches on the ground. Jazzmin is always happy to walk but she’d be happier if it wouldn’t snow on her head. Even with the cold and the snow pelting my face as we walked, I was happy because I know how lucky I am. I have a strong dislike for driving in snow and thanks to working at home, I don’t have to worry about driving into an office every day, no matter the weather. I’d much rather be out walking Jazzmin as I’m bundled up to my eyeballs than working for someone else helping them achieve their dreams. Nowadays, I get to chase and achieve my own dreams.

dog pawprints

Our footprints in the snow.

Despite a few unexpected interruptions, I was able to finish my work for the day before dinnertime. One of those unexpected interruptions was actually a welcome one as they cancelled afterschool activities and I had to pick Jordan up from school. She usually rides the late bus with her sister to their father’s house on Wednesday afternoon, but the canceled activities meant she needed somewhere to go. That’s yet another reason I feel blessed to be able to work from home, I’m there for my girls when they need me. Living only three minutes from the school comes in handy on days like today and thankfully, the roads weren’t too bad. Jordan and I enjoyed a quiet afternoon together before her father picked her up and I resumed my tasks for the day.

lights on the walkway

Glow of my walkway lights in the snow.

I’ve already had to shovel five inches of snow off my deck and I’m sure I’ll have to do tomorrow since it’s still coming down, but I’ll manage like I always do. I know that the cold is only temporary and that even when I don’t have my girls, I have my felines and my pup to keep me warm and remind me that I’m loved.

kittens and dog

Snuggling on the couch tonight.

“Neither snow, nor rain…” how about both?

“Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night, stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” – Herodotus, 503 B.C.

That is the unofficial motto of the United States Post Office and it sprang to mind (though I didn’t know the exact words at the time) as I contemplated walking Jazzmin this afternoon. The wind was gusting at up to 30 mph, the temperature was rapidly dropping out of the 30’s with a wind chill in the teens, and the clouds couldn’t decide if they wanted to spew out rain or snow so they were throwing down a combination of both.

When I took Jazzmin out to answer nature before I headed into town, the wind chilled me, the rain beat at me and I thought to myself “No way am I walking in this!” Then as I led her back into the house, my thoughts shifted to “Well, if I put earmuffs and gloves on, it won’t be so bad.” It’s not a challenge to take the easy way out and say it’s too cold and yucky to walk, and no one would blame me for skipping it today. Nonetheless, I really wanted to keep my promise of walking Jazzmin every day because she and I both need it. Therefore, I chose to rise to the challenge and head out once I got home from errands.

Jazzmin is always excited about walking, even if the snow is up to her chest and the wind freezes her nose and ears off, so when I got home, changed, and saddled her up in her backpack, she was happy as could be! When we stepped out the door and she started being pelted with the tiny, hard snowballs descending from the sky, her enthusiasm waned a bit. We set out anyway and her step was as light as usual, even as the sleet/snow/frozen mess bounced off her head, ping-ponged off my coat, wove into my hair, and sometimes snuck down my neck.

The view as we turned the first corner.

The view as we turned the first corner.

As we turned the corner off my road and onto the next, the sleet snow started to come down harder and Jazz’s ears flattened to her head. We continued though and I actually laughed at how ridiculous it was that we had voluntarily chosen to be out in such weather. If Mama Nature thought she was going to force us to turn around, she was wrong!

Jazzmin is NOT impressed!

Jazzmin is NOT impressed!

The sleet snow was stinging my face but I thought to myself that it was a wonderful and 100% natural exfoliant for my skin. The wind was freezing my body but I reassured myself that shivering must burn more calories. My hair was drenched with cold wetness but I knew from past snow experiences that when it air-dried my natural wave would bounce back happily. I knew the cold, wetness, and discomfort were temporary and that the walk was good exercise for Jazzmin and me.

My road is waaay down that way...

My road is waaay down that way…

When we returned home, the mini snowballs of precipitation had accumulated into a noticeable layer on my deck. Jazzmin was eager to go inside to thaw out her cold paws and I was happy to be inside the warmth where I could start warming up again.

Jazz's paw prints from where she stood waiting for me to open the door.

Jazz’s paw prints from where she stood waiting for me to open the door.

Despite the chill in my body, I was proud of myself for venturing out when a lesser woman would’ve huddled home, safe under blankets, sipping a latte. I’d kept my promise of walking every day for the third day in a row and with this blog, I’ve also completed my daily entry. As far as winging it? Well, I think if Jazzmin and I had possessed wings today, the wind would’ve carried us off into the sunset.

Winter writing, walking, and winging it!

winter field

December has arrived with cloudy skies and temperatures dropping into the teens by tonight. One would expect such frigid temperatures this time of year in Upstate NY, but considering that yesterday it was 50 degrees with occasional sun, I’m thinking it wise to expect the unexpected this month.

Along that thought, I’ve already decided something unexpected this month and that is to post a new blog entry every day in December. I was slacking a bit in November with the holidays and having to write my college research paper, but now that the paper is done and I know exactly what I’m getting for gifts for my girls, I can focus on writing for pleasure again! I don’t want my pursuit of a writing career and writing-based college degree to kill my love of writing so it’s best that I continue to express myself with the usual rambling Julie here.

Writing rambling or writing serious work are both easier when it’s cold outside. What isn’t easy when it’s cold outside is working up the motivation to walk Jazzmin. Nonetheless, she and I both benefit from our walks so I vow to walk every day in December! If there are days when it’s -20 with a wind chill we might not make it out, but I’ll do my best to make up for it with more than one walk a day if necessary! Jazzmin could walk forever so I’m certainly not worried about tiring her out and considering how much I love Chex Mix and sweets during this time of year, I could use the beneficial tiring out. 😉

Another thing that tires me out is overthinking. I don’t know if overthinking is just part of being a writer or if it’s just an unrelated malady I have, but it’s an exhausting quirk. I’m constantly thinking of the “what ifs” and “shoulda coulda wouldas” of life and all it does is make me overly anxious and waste my energy. Therefore, for my third W of winter (or at least for December) I’ve decided to wing it. As in go where the wind blows me and not worry so dang much about things I can’t control.

I know two very potent remedies for my overthinking and they’re beading and writing in fantasy books. When I use my overly active mind in my handmade creations, I’m amazed with my own capabilities. Focusing my highly excitable imagination into my writing has helped me come up with plots lines and character developments that astound me. I believe that if I just let go of my worries and allow hope, inspiration, and faith flow freely, I’ll finally be able to break through my writer’s block and create stories the world will love to read. 🙂

Foggy flurries and furry fluffballs

My snowy house this morning.

My snowy house this morning.

Today marked the first substantial snow for the season here. The calendar may still say it’s fall, but Upstate NY has never been a place that abides by such silly notions. I don’t mind snow when it first begins and my girls both seem to love it. I remember loving it when I was a child, but once I became an adult who had to drive in it, snow lost a lot of its magic. The “magical first snow” today started overnight and hasn’t let up since. It’s not accumulating fast but it’s heavy, wet, and perfect for making snowballs.

And make snowballs I did! When I took Jazzmin out this morning, I made a couple snowballs and tossed them at her. She happily caught them in her mouth before spitting them out when she realized they were strange, cold tennis balls. I then took a snowball in to show the kittens and they were fascinated by the cold, white, balls of water. They love water and I’m always plucking them out of the sink, bathtub, and dog’s water bowl. I eventually plopped the snowball in their water bowl and Daisy watched it intently until it melted.

Once the girls were off at school, I did a bit of freelance work and then settled on the couch beneath a blanket to begin some new beading projects. I’d reviewed a new set of instructions for making earrings this morning and I was eager to try them. What I created came out better than I expected, but I discovered I need to start using a thimble to avoid poking my pointer fingers constantly. Thank goodness fingers heal quickly! It’s worth it though because I’m so pleased with last week’s creations that I need more hours in the day to create all the jewelry designs that have popped into my mind.

Modeling last week's beaded earring and pendant creations.

Modeling last week’s beaded earring and pendant creations.

The snow never let up so there was no point in waiting for it to stop before taking Jazz for a walk. I bundled her up in her booties (which she hates) and warm, blue sweater and I bundled myself up similarly in my winter jacket, boots, and earmuffs. It wasn’t exactly frigid today but there was a breeze and I wanted to keep my ears warm. Our walk wasn’t very long but Jazz was happy to be out and we both became thoroughly coated with snow. As we were heading back home, fog began to roll in from the top of the hill which detracted from the beauty of the first snowfall.

Jazz in her sweater and booties.

Jazz in her sweater and booties.

The snowy trees.

The snowy trees.

Jazz smells something...

Jazz smells something…

Yuppers, it's snowing!

Yuppers, it’s snowing!

The fog rolling in down the road.

The fog rolling in down the road.

Jazzmin and I were both happy to get home and thaw out. The kittens were fascinated watching the falling snow and took turns looking out the window or hogging my desk chair because it’s so cozy.

Daisy looking out the window.

Daisy looking out the window.

Angel hogging my desk chair.

Angel hogging my desk chair.

I had to get my snow shovel out of the shed to clean off my deck steps and create a path to the door and it’s now resting beside the door, ready to be used again. Winter has definitely begun but with the combination of foggy flurries and furry fluffballs, I know it will be anything but dull!