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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Playing in the dirt

pansies in planters by JulieAnn Corbin

Although the weather forecast changed overnight from mostly sunny today to mostly cloudy, the predicted high was a vast improvement over yesterday as was the lack of rain. I know exactly how cold it was to be outside yesterday because I was at Home Depot in the evening looking for pansies, snapdragons and other flowers for what I call my “bird oasis” behind my house. I hadn’t worn a coat because it didn’t feel too cold to me when I left the house, but walking around outside at the store looking at the flowers showed me just how cold it was as my fingers and face froze.

I suppose the chilly weather was a good thing though because I tend to get carried away buying tons of colorful, happy flowers that I’ve browsed through. Browsing happened rather quickly yesterday evening though as I picked out my favorites of pansies and violas along with some new additions of phlox, foxglove and silene (catchfly). Those last three plants are perennials and although I’ve never had much luck with perennials actually coming back, I thought I’d give it a try again.

When I got up this morning and saw my flowers still sitting safely on the deck where I’d placed them last night, I knew I had to get them transferred to my planters today, rain or shine. Usually I get the bird oasis set up and put the flowers in the planters all on the same day, but the bird oasis area needs a bit more work than I realized and the grass was still wet so I decided I’d just deal with the planters today.

I carried all of the planters from the bird oasis in the back yard to my deck walkway by the driveway and brought the flowers down from the top of the deck to begin the transplant process. I opened all the windows in my car and played the music from my phone through the car radio via my FM transmitter so I had a soundtrack to my gardening. It was still overcast out but considering how easily I burn in the sun, that’s probably a good thing.

I had Jazzmin out on her lead with me and she chose to sit in the gravel driveway of all places. There was plenty of soft, green grass for her to lie in, but she preferred to lay behind my car as if she were guarding the driveway from intruders. She did at least keep the squirrels away from my bird feeders by sheer pup intimidation (lying like a lump in the gravel) so that was a nice bonus.

I always get my leather work gloves out when I plan on working with flowers, but I never actually wear them because I prefer getting my hands right in the cool, moist soil to move it around and settle the individual flowers in their spots. As I sat on my walkway with my upbeat music blasting from my car speakers I took my flowers out of their store containers and settled them in the dirt of the planters, feeling immensely happy and at peace. It’s impossible for me not to smile when I see pansies because they have such unique color combinations and are hardy enough to survive my oftentimes brown thumb.

I didn’t know this until a friend pointed it out to me, but apparently playing in the dirt, i.e. gardening, has scientifically proven mood-boosting properties. Antidepressant microbes in the soil stimulate serotonin production, which makes us humans happier and more relaxed, according to the article, “Antidepressant Microbes in Soil: How Dirt Makes You Happy” from Gardening Know How.com.

I’ve experienced this mood boosting effect many times when planting flowers, but I thought it was purely from the fact that I was playing in the dirt just like I used to when I was a kid. I’m not a woman who’s afraid to get her hands dirty and her work jeans too in the process as I used them as towel to wipe the dirt off periodically. As I always say, everything washes and really, the whole point of work jeans is to get them dirty. I had dirt all over my hands and under my fingernails, but I didn’t care.

If I hadn’t run out of flowers, I would’ve kept planting and playing in the dirt for hours and if I had endless money and time, my entire 1.4 acres of property would be covered with flower gardens. Maybe I’ll get it to that point someday, but for now, I’m happy to play in the dirt of my planters as I bring a spot of color and joy to my home and life.

The best flowers…

image

Today's bouquet of violas

The best flowers are those that pop up in unexpected places. Like the tulips that popped up last spring when I didn’t even know there were bulbs there. This year’s surprise flowers were the little purple violas that bloomed in one of my planters from last year.

I’ve discovered that violas and their larger counterparts known as pansies, are the best flowers for me because despite their seemingly delicate appearance, they’re actually quite resilient. I’d like to think that I’m a lot like them, but I don’t think anyone who knows me would call me a “delicate flower.” 😉 Resilient yes, delicate not so much.

Seeing those violas pop up this spring convinced me that I needed to plant more this year and that’s exactly what I did. The new violas are thriving in their pots and despite an animal digging a few out, they’re still quite lovely. What I find even more pleasing are the violas thriving outside the pots.

image

Some of the violas that planted themselves in my yard.

Apparently some of the seeds from last year’s violas planted themselves in my yard by the bird oasis and now they’re popping up all around it! I pick them before I mow and I’m always surprised when more show up. I picked myself quite a little bouquet today and I’m going to try replanting the few with roots in the planters with the other violas.

Violas are such happy looking flowers. They always look like they’re smiling at me and that makes them some of the best and most beautiful flowers to me.

Press Pause (re-post)

My lilacs were beautiful in Spring 2014!

My lilacs were beautiful in Spring 2014!

I don’t want to stop my streak of a blog post every day in October but I fear tonight, words again elude me. So I’m turning to a re-post yet again. The weather turned rather cold today and I know it’s just the beginning of the long wait until spring, which doesn’t thrill me. However, I decided it was a good time to look forward to nice weather with a post I wrote about my love for lilacs and the importance of enjoying every moment of life.

 

Press Pause (5/10/2012)

I love lilacs. Their clusters of delicate looking blooms, their bright green leaves, and their simple sweet beautiful fragrance. I was so excited when I moved into my house last summer and discovered that the bushes in my back yard were lilacs. The bushes are already well established and too tall for the deer to do too much damage to so I was hopeful I’d have tons of blooms in spring. Alas, this spring was not kind to them. The weather warmed up really early in March and my lilac bushes all budded out looking eager to bloom. Then we got almost an entire month full of frigid nights, wind, rain and snow and my efforts to preserve the delicate buds failed. By the time the weather warmed up and stayed warm almost all of the multitude of buds on my lilac bushes had wilted and drooped on their stems. There are a few tiny clusters of blossoms that survived on the smaller bushes and I’m certain next spring they will all be amazing if Mother Nature has a few less mood swings.

With my bushes ruined, I had to get my lilac fix elsewhere. Happily there are some homes in the town I work in that have lilac bushes. I take a walk on my lunch break whenever the weather is nice enough, and yesterday the rain had finally stopped and the sun peaked out now and then. I hit the sidewalk  with my cell phone serving as my MP3 player and my ear buds blasting up-tempo music into my senses. There was a nice breeze to help cool my skin and the leaves were coming out on all the trees and I couldn’t help but smile. Due to the erratic weather, the lilacs seem to be blooming at all different times so while one lilac bush I walk by was past its peak, another one I passed on my way back was in its full glory. It was in the yard of the American Legion and it was so beautiful I had to get closer. I walked up to it, cupped one of its overflowing clusters of blooms in my hands, closed my eyes and lowered my nose to breathe in their sweet fragrance. I grew up with tree-size lilac bushes behind my house and whenever I smell lilacs I’m taken back to those younger days when life seemed so much simpler.

I could have stood there for hours enjoying those lilacs but alas I had to return to work before my break was over. So yes, I do actually stop to smell the flowers. In this busy life with its seemingly non-stop pace, I make sure I always take the time to press pause and enjoy the peaceful moments. Tomorrow is never guaranteed and now may be all we have. Every moment, every memory, every new experience, every lesson, every smile, every hug, every kiss…claim them, embrace them, and know that no one can ever take their power from your spirit.

Is it really love if…

sunlight snow

I went to the store yesterday for some groceries and the moment I walked through the door I was greeted by the sight of big displays of roses, boxes of chocolates, card and over-fluffy red and pink stuffed animals. As today is Valentine’s Day, the displays didn’t surprise me, nor did the number of people milling about the displays.

My girls are my Valentines and I love them and know they love me without any special holiday. Watching the men and women searching through the flowers, cards and candy, I shook my head. Is it really love if you’re out at the last moment, scrambling for the perfect gift to make your loved one happy? Does buying something sparkly and expensive or taking your mate out to dinner on an over-commercialized holiday mean that you really love them? Is it really love if you only remember to express your love when endless advertisements and heart-filled displays bombard your senses? Love is an all the time thing, not a one-shot deal.

Last year on this day I wrote a poem entitled “Love is Deeper” and posted it on my Corbin Creations blog. Rereading it today, the sentiments still hold true and they always will. I’m re-posting it here and hoping that all your days are special and filled with love in its many forms.

***

Love is Deeper – 2/14/13

Boxes of chocolates
Bouquets of flowers
Love is deeper.
Sparkling trinkets
Folded paper cards
Love is deeper.
Plush stuffed animals
Brightly colored balloons
Love is deeper.
Written words of rhyme
Melodies in song
Love is deeper.
Wiping a tear away
Enfolding in embrace
Love grows deeper.
Interlocking fingers
The soft brush of lips
Love grows deeper.
Sharing in laughter
Evoking a smile
Love grows deeper.
Listening and hearing
Offering understanding
Love grows deeper.
The cry of a newborn child
Holding a swaddled babe
Love is endless.
The coldest of nights
A breathtaking dawn
Love is endless.
A sky full of stars
The moon gazing down
Love is endless.
A light in the darkness
Unfaltering friendship
Love is endless.
The love of a child
The loss of a parent
Love is eternal.
An unbreakable force
The tie that binds us
Love is always.

 

The Tenacity of Roses

Some very tenacious rose blooms

Some very tenacious rose blooms

A few months ago I had to do some serious pruning on the rosebush growing by my kitchen window. The bush is actually two types of rose bushes planted almost on top of each other for reasons I don’t understand. The previous owners of my house did a lot of things I will probably never understand. Somehow both rose bushes survive within each other and produce their unique blooms periodically through the season. One bush makes small, dark red blooms and the other makes larger, orangey-pink blooms that reach up quite high. I don’t quite think the colors work together but as they grow with little help from me, I’m not messing with it.

The bush had become overrun with vines that were not only strangling it but threatening to climb up the outside of my house if I didn’t get things under control. Following an afternoon of mowing in the hot sun I decided I’d tackle the vines since I was already sweaty. The vines were tangled around almost every branch of the rose bushes and other nearby undergrowth so it took considerable yanking and cutting to get them all out. In the process I also had to cut back a large amount of the rose bushes because they were sagging into the yard. Once free of all the vines, the rose bushes looked rather sickly and pathetic and I wasn’t certain they’d recover.

To my surprise, the rose bushes survived and their branches remained covered with bright green leaves. I received yet another surprise a few days ago when I saw that a handful of the orangey-pink blossoms had sprouted from the top of the bush. I’d completely failed to notice that it even had new buds! When I looked at it last night I saw that the smaller, dark red bush had also produced one little bloom further down among the tangle of bushes. I am so very impressed that the bushes found the strength to bloom once more after being nearly strangled to death by vines.

In my endless search for lessons and meanings in every new experience I concluded that the tenacity of roses is something to aspire to. Those roses kept growing despite the hardships they faced. Those bushes created new buds and blooms even when other natural elements had tried very hard to bring them down. Even amid the rain and gray skies, their colorful petals burn brightly and their fragrance is soft and sweet. Roses have thorns to protect themselves but they’re never afraid to share their beauty with the world. A rather unique demonstration of nature’s eternal sense of balance.

Blooming Potential

The birthday gift from my  daughters.

The birthday gift from my daughters.

At times I can resemble a little whirlwind of chaos and despite the predictability of my life, I am not predictable. I have been told that my energy and exuberance can power a small town, or something like that. I can’t help it really, it’s who I am.

I imagine that the lives of the people I encounter are never the same after they meet me. I am a multi-dimensional and quirky being. I like to think that friendship with me, no matter how brief, serves a higher purpose than even I realize. I’m not implying I’m a deity of any kind, that would rival my desire to be humble. A queen yes, a goddess no. A girl has to keep things in perspective.

Today is my birthday. I was born into a family with two loving parents and two older brothers. I am the youngest and the only girl and yes, I was a bit spoiled. The only thing I’m spoiled with nowadays though is the love of family and friends. I work hard for everything I have and gain a deeper sense of pride by doing so. I am unique and I am blessed with many intangible gifts. The potential that exists within me is always blooming in new, colorful ways that I can’t always comprehend.

My snapdragons are blooming again!

My snapdragons are blooming again!

There will be no grand party in celebration of the day of my birth, but that’s more than fine with me. I did not sleep in or awaken to the luxury of breakfast in bed. I snarfed a cookie when I got up actually. My girls have school and I have to go into the office. After the routine of the day is done though we’re going to my oldest’s chorus and band concert and listening to her musical talent tonight is a perfect gift. Ice cream cake with my mother will follow and then we’ll all retire to bed…to perhaps fall asleep within an hour despite the night owls that reside in my home.

I know how fortunate I am to be enjoying this amazing journey called life. The adventures are never-ending and the companions I’ve had and continue to have on such adventures are brave, fearless, loyal and loving. I am surprised that some of them have stuck with me so long and I believe that speaks to the quality of my character and theirs. One of my closest friends says there’s a difference between having character and being a character, among his many other words of wisdom. My strength of character impresses even me sometimes and I am definitely a character you will never forget meeting.

So today is the day the powers that be placed me on this world and said “I wonder what will happen if we just wind her up and let her go?” What on earth were they thinking…