A Broken Spring

Thus far, this May has not felt very consistently spring-like. We’ve even had snow!

The trend seems to be a nice warmish spring day followed by several days of winter temperatures and it’s been rather frustrating.

Fortunately, it looks like the weather is finally warming up and staying warm. They’re even predicting 80 this coming Sunday. After the unpleasant May we’ve had thus far, I’ll believe it when it happens.

Even with the up and down temperatures and rain and clouds, I’ve still managed to get walks in with Jazzmin. I relish every moment of the nice weather because it seems so fleeting but hopefully soon it will be here to stay for more than one day.

Winter, Spring, Winter, Spring? 

Despite my eagerness for spring to arrive and stay, it doesn’t want to cooperate with my wishes. In the area of Upstate NY where I live we keep having nice, spring days, then winter days then spring again. It’s a constant yoyo of weather and difficult to keep up with.

This past weekend I took a little road trip to a different part of my state and on my drive out and for the first day, the weather was cold and winter-like. Then on my drive home Sunday the sun was shining and it was warm and spring-like. It was also March when I left and April when I came back so the weather coordinated with that.

Yesterday and today’s weather has been decidedly spring-like with sun, clouds and periodic rain. The temperatures have been in the 50s and 60s and the birds and peeper frogs are singing with increased excitement for warmer weather. Unfortunately, temperatures are supposed to drop again the next few days as winter tries to hold on.

I took Jazzmin for a nice long walk this morning when the sun came out on what was supposed to be a rain-filled day and it was so warm I didn’t need a jacket. A few hours later though the weather changed again, rain returned and now there’s a chill in the air. The forecast for next week looks promising with 50s and 60s but we have to endure the last remnants of winter just a bit longer. One thing is for certain, I’ll be savoring every moment of spring once it finally arrives for good!

Marching Into March 

Yesterday was the first day of March and it started off overcast but pleasantly mild. Hoping to avoid the predicted rain showers, I took Jazzmin on the short hilly walk right after breakfast. Although the clouds were thick, it was warm enough to walk without a coat and it didn’t start sprinkling until we were almost home. On our walk we were treated to the sight and sounds of a large group of turkeys in a field. I always enjoy seeing the males all puffed up as they try to attract the females.

Once back home and freshly showered, I expected to hunker down inside for the rest of the day and work while it rained outside. Mother Nature had other plans though as the rain stopped and the sun broke through the clouds. Not one to waste such beautiful weather in the midst of winter, I took Jazz for a second walk, much to her delight! 

I spent a bit more time outside taking care of other important tasks because I knew the forecast was calling for a drastic drop in temperature the next day. Sure enough, this morning dawned with temperatures in the teens even though it had been 50s with I went to bed the night before. Such extreme temperature changes ushered in by ridiculously high winds seem unfortunately normal these days.

It was too cold to walk Jazzmin even once today and I ventured outside as little as possible but I know the weather will rebound eventually. March is a temperamental month as if it knows that everyone is eager for spring and it wants to hang onto winter a bit longer. Regardless, the world around me is starting to reawaken as spring nears and I’ll take it one day at a time while looking forward to warmth and new beginnings. 

Beautiful storms

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Storm clouds swallowing the sun


From my western facing deck I always have a great view of the incoming weather as it makes the way across the valley and to the hills where I live. On clear days, I can see blue sky stretching into the horizon and on stormy days, I can see the dark clouds slowly swallowing the blue in flashes of lightning and visible lines of rain as they approach.

Today was one of those stormy days and although it wasn’t raining when I put Jazzmin out this morning, the air was thick with humidity and the breeze promised additional moisture. The air was cool but not cold and I watched later as the storms approached, changing the sky from dark to darker.

When particularly turbulent storms approach, full of rumbling thunder and flashing lightning, I love to stand on my deck and watch them grow closer. Especially in summer when it’s been a hot day and I can just feel that the storm is going to bring relief. There’s something so raw and beautiful about the power of mother nature as she stirs up the wind and brings the rain that drenches the earth.

I can still feel that power even after the rain stops as I walk into the wet grass with bare feet. It’s as if the pulse of the ground received an energetic jolt from the storm and I can feel the heartbeat of the earth much more vividly. I often close my eyes when I’m standing in the grass to feel the breeze upon my face and listen to it whisper of more beautiful storms to come.

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!

The return of familiar songs and soaring

Adult male Red-winged Blackbird

There was snow on the ground yesterday morning but today started out warmer than it had been for the last week and it just got better from there! The forecast calls for 50’s and 60’s all week with plenty of sunshine and the occasional rain. Rain is fine because we need it for things to start growing and to wash off the roads that are still white with salt.

When Jaycie and I headed out for the bus this morning there was a hawk soaring in the sky and he glided from west to east upon the breeze as we watched. I told her that I gauge the arrival of spring by when I see the first turkey vulture because they don’t stick around our area all winter. When turkey vultures return and start gliding through the skies on their huge wings searching for roadkill and carcasses, then I believe that spring is truly on its way.

Turkey vulture

A few hours after Jaycie got on the bus, a turkey vulture soared over the trees across the road and I smiled feeling as if the universe had heard my words this morning. Now that I’ve seen those familiar scavengers soaring in the sky I’m certain that spring is coming and that this nice weather isn’t just some cruel trick. I spent the morning working on my writing projects inside but by noon, I couldn’t resist the call of the beautiful outdoors any longer. I got Jazzmin strapped in her backpack, tied up my sneakers and grabbed a light sweatshirt because while it was 53, the wind gusts were making it a bit cool to go without a coat.

As Jazzmin and I walked, I heard the familiar songs of birds that had returned from their winter vacation to the south. I heard the songs of robins, red-winged blackbirds and killdeers. Although the “Winter Wonderland” song states “gone away is the bluebird” a few of my bluebirds never left and I heard their song all winter long. Now that it’s warmer, there will be more bugs around for the bluebirds to eat and they will be more plentiful,  which always makes me happy.

Eastern Bluebird

I feel a special connection to all the birds that frequent my feeders through the winter and into the spring and who make their homes on my property. Just through watching and listening to the birds in my yard an on our walks, I’ve learned to identify various species by their song, size and plumage. Quite often I hear birds but don’t see them and I feel a small surge of satisfaction that I can recognize them just by their song. I’m still not good at identifying the different types of hawks I see around because they’re not really fond of close observation, but eventually I’ll sort them out too.

Northern Goshawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Sharp-shinned hawk

Red-shouldered hawk

Red-tailed hawk

Right now I’m just enjoying the return of the familiar songs and soaring of spring!

The sideways rainbow

sideways rainbow across blue sky

As I missed posting one day in April and I promised to post every day this month, I’m writing two today to make up for it.

I visited my mom’s house this morning to catch up with her and enjoy relaxing for a while in her lovely sunroom. It was another gorgeous day with sunshine and temperatures in the 60’s and that sunroom is the perfect place for talking, reading, beading or all of the above.

I headed home after lunch and shortly after I got on the road, I saw a breathtaking sideways rainbow across the clouds! I’ve seen small “brush strokes” of rainbows across the sky several times before, but this was the first time I saw one that wide and well-pronounced. The rainbow stretched across the wispy clouds and looked like flames through the sky. I was able to see it the entire drive home and as I watched, the colors kept changing to more blues and greens and then back to fiery red.

I was extremely happy that it was still partially visible in the sky when I got home even though by then it had split up into two separate rainbows. I quickly snapped some pictures of it with my Canon camera hoping to capture its colors. It no longer had the fiery appearance I’d seen originally, but it was still beautiful and I took it as a very positive sign for a colorful future!

sideways rainbow across blue sky

The eastern segment of the sideways rainbow

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Close up of eastern segment

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Close up of western segment (same segment as featured image)

The power to keep going

looking down farmers road

My day started at 5:45 a.m. as it usually does with my Pandora alarm playing whatever random song it came up with. These days, Pandora is far less random than it used to be and it tends to play one of the same five songs every morning, but it accomplishes the task of waking me up anyway.

Now that it’s spring, the birds usually start chirping at around 4:30 a.m. and it’s actually getting light by the time my alarm goes off, so eventually I’ll probably start climbing out of bed sooner. I hate wasting the nice weather days because they’re far less numerous than the miserable, cold winter days and I’m more of a morning person than a night owl so come summer, I’m often up long before the sun!

Once I got both girls up, fed and off to school, I ate my own breakfast and then settled at my desk to work. By lunchtime, I’d accomplished enough to make me feel like I deserved a break in the fresh air so after eating, I took Jazzmin on a walk up the farmer’s access road. He has an iron swing gate across it to keep unwanted vehicles out, but he knows me and I’ve seen him on his tractors along the road many times and he’s smiled and waved so he doesn’t seem to mind Jazz and I walking it.

The farmer keeps that access road mowed and maintained for his tractors and trucks and I was happy to discover today that it had dried out after the recent rain. Jazzmin loves that road because it’s full of deer, squirrels, chipmunks, birds and things that rustle in the brush that we never see. I love that road because it’s safe from cars (even when the farmer’s on it he doesn’t drive very fast) and I don’t have to worry about encountering other people’s less than well-behaved dogs on leash or (worse) off.

There still aren’t any leaves on the trees so the sun was quite warm without shade, but I’d dressed appropriately in walking shorts and a tank top so I was quite comfortable. The fields at the end of that access road appear to stretch forever and the views are breathtaking. I always feel like I’m in another world out there when really it’s not that far from my house.

Jazzmin and I explored the fields a bit and enjoyed the feeling of peacefulness among the blue sky, puffy clouds, and surrounding hills. The only sounds were birds, bugs, the wind and our footsteps and it’s where I go when I need to center myself and restore my spirit. When the weather warms up more, the fields will be full of dragonflies, monarchs and other butterflies and I’m looking forward to watching them.

pond in field

The small pond in one of the farmer’s fields

After our walk, I decided it was past time I tackle the yard work. I live on 1.4 acres and that might sound large or small depending on your perspective, but for a single, 5’5” chick, it’s a substantial amount of work keeping it up. By now I know what order to tackle projects in so I don’t get too tired to finish so I started by trimming the bushes in front of the house. I had them hacked down considerably last year, but I call them “demon” bushes because they grow really tall, really fast and they live to scratch me.

Once I’d accomplished that task with my scissor style clippers, I wondered if I had the power to keep going. I briefly considered calling it a day, but instead grabbed my wheelbarrow and started going around the yard picking up the seemingly endless assortment of fallen branches from my numerous trees. I don’t know how some of the trees are still standing with all the branches they lose every year! I filled the wheelbarrow four times with branches (I’ve learned from experience that overfilling it to make fewer trips doesn’t work because I leave a trail of branches I have to go back and clean up) and dumped them all in my burn pit in the back yard. The pile isn’t overly huge now, but it will be substantial by mid-summer when I decide to light it.

With all the sticks removed from the yard, I again considered stopping for the day and continuing another day but again I found the power to keep going. I then cut several grape vines out of my hedgerow trees in an attempt to stop their invasion. Grape vines give off a distinctive smell when they’re hacked and pulled and there are some types of wine that I can’t stand because they taste too “viney” to me. Maybe other people who have fought with vines know what I’m talking about or maybe I’m just nuts…

I couldn’t get all the vines down out of the trees because they were wrapped so tightly around them, but I certainly tried my hardest! Nothing like yard work to make me feel like I’m too light at 150 pounds! I think I could’ve hung from those vines for days without them ever giving way.

Exhausted from that task, I figured I’d gotten that far and definitely had the power to keep going so I decided it was time to plunk down on the mower and tackle the unruly grass. It’s still rather early in the season so the grass is really long in spots and still half dormant in others, but I knew if I waited too long, it would grow too tall and bog down the mower. Getting to my mower involved taking my large deck swing out of the shed, but I’ll save that tale for another day.

I’d hooked my mower up to the charger at the start of my yard work just in case the battery had gone dead (as if it seems to do every year). While it took some cranking to get the engine to turn fire up, eventually it did and I was able to run the mower without the charger for the rest of the afternoon.

Mowing my lawn took the usual 2.5 hours and went relatively smoothly, but it’s still a long process and my lawn hasn’t been rolled in years so it’s a bit bumpy. I was so very proud of myself when I was all done though! Just like I always am!

View of my mowed front yard from the road.

View of my mowed front yard from the road.

mowed back yard

View of half of my back yard from my deck.

Everything I accomplished today reminded me (for the zillionth time) that I’m stronger than I think and that I always have the power to keep going if I just believe in myself enough and refuse to quit. It’s up to me to be my own cheerleader so I can get things done on my own just like I have since I moved out of my ex’s house in April of 2011. I’m quite capable of handling my house solo and I will continue to do so with stubbornness, tenacity, and a splash of sass.

Sunshine, singing, and staying up

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When I woke up to today’s beautiful weather, I made a decision that I wasn’t going to nap today. Considering I’ve had to nap daily since I came down sick a couple week’s ago, that was a pretty big declaration. But I had stuff to do and I didn’t want to waste the first really nice day of spring sleeping. I’m a rather stubborn person but I wasn’t sure that and my determination would be enough to keep fatigue at bay.

After lunch, the girls and I headed to Canandaigua for some errands and to enjoy the sights and sounds of the park by the lake. On the drive there, I knew I was finally feeling better because I had the energy and desire to actually sing along with the radio.

At the lakeside park, a majority of the sounds were from seagulls calling for food from the multitude of people, but the sights of the calm water and blue sky were lovely! The girls and I walked around a bit soaking up the sunshine and then headed to my mom’s house for an afternoon enjoying the breeze in her sunroom.

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The weather was perfect and I never felt the need for a nap. I also started singing random snippets of songs, an odd genetic trait in the females of my family, and while my oldest was happy I felt better, she could’ve lived without my singing. Regardless, even with her grumbling, I know she’s relieved to have tired, half-dead mom replaced with peculiar, half-crazy mom.

Breaking out

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It was supposed to be dreary and miserable all day today, but shortly after noon, the sun broke through the clouds and blue sky drove away the gray. It was a very welcome sight and lifted my spirits, which was especially nice since I’d had to go back to bed exhausted this morning after the girls got on the bus.

Even though I was still feeling tired and like there was a small elephant on my chest, I decided I’d try taking Jazz for a short walk. My weather app said it was 56 out and I longed to feel the sun and breathe fresh air, so off Jazz and I went.

I didn’t walk very fast and we only went down to the end of my road to the stream, but it felt great to be out of the house. The stream that runs under the end of the road is very full and fast thanks to all the snow melt and recent rain so I decided to sit in the grass of the bank and enjoy the sound and sight of the water. The sun was so bright and warm I took my sweatshirt off to feel the warmth on my skin as the breeze stirred my hair off my shoulders.

I sat there in the grass with Jazzmin beside me for quite some time just enjoying being outside breathing the fresh air. I was still tired, but my spirit felt renewed by being outside and seeing evidence that spring really is finally settling in. I also realized that even though I’m not at my strongest now, I will be again. Spring is a time of renewal and I’m certainly ready for some renewed energy!

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.

Fences, flowers, furry pups and feathered friends

Fruit tree blossoms down the road from my house

Fruit tree blossoms down the road from my house

It was another beautiful day today that felt more like summer than spring. I happily enjoyed it because 80  and humid is infinitely better than -25 and three feet of snow!

Morning thunderstorms cleared out rather quickly and have only recently started up again now that it’s dark. I don’t mind thunderstorms at night except when I have the girls. I don’t blame them for being scared when lightning flashes and thunder shakes the house. I think they’ve finally settled though so I’ll continue my rambling.

I took Jazzmin for a short walk in the early afternoon and the heat off the pavement was intense enough to make her pant by the first turn. Even on that short walk though we saw an abundance of spring beauty and I took some pictures with my phone camera. Only after returning home and looking at them did I realize that most of them included a fence of some kind. To be expected since I live in the country near several farms but certainly not intentional. Regardless, they turned out surprisingly lovely for my little camera phone.

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Upon returning home, Jazz was hot, tired and happy. She laid on the floor panting while looking eager to go back out walking once she caught her breath. Once again proof that the pup wants to walk 24/7 in any kind of weather!

Jazzmin panting a smile after our walk.

Jazzmin panting a smile after our walk.

This evening I was blessed with the return of my resident hummingbird. I was watching the birds in my wild bird oasis and in the hummingbird zipped looking for his feeder! I hadn’t put it out yet so I quickly remedied that by hanging it where the unoccupied barrel bird house had been hanging. He returned later as I watched the storms roll in and he seems to know where his feeder is now. Always nice when he returns because it means the buzzing little birdies think it’s a safe bet that warmth will stick around. I certainly hope they’re right!

Sweetness on Earth Day (recipe included)

A heart-shaped glimpse of blue sky this afternoon.

A heart-shaped glimpse of blue sky this afternoon.

Today was Earth Day and while it started out overcast and rainy, it was still beautiful. I added my own touch of sweetness to the day by baking a fresh batch of chocolate chip orange bread and that made the house smell amazing! I’ve included the recipe at the end of this post.

Chocolate chip orange bread, yum!

Chocolate chip orange bread, yum!

When I completed my freelance work for the day, I happily sat down at my craft desk and finished up the pair of earrings I started working on yesterday evening.

Pink and burgundy glass pearl earrings.

Pink and burgundy glass pearl earrings.

I then started working on a new earring design and as I did, the sun started to break through the clouds. I took that as Mama Nature’s approval of what I was doing and I smiled as I continued to fiddle with beads, findings and wires. Time flew rather quickly and it was soon time to head to the school to pick up my daughters. Jordan was staying late to practice for choral solo fest and was going to meet her sister Jaycie and I in the gym.

When I arrived at the school and snatched a nice close spot, I stepped out of my car and was overjoyed to see more breaks in the clouds and glimpses of blue sky. One of these blue sky breaks reminded me of a heart and I took it as Mama Nature’s way of saying that when you love Mother Earth, she loves you back. Along with the blue sky, I also saw see numerous signs of spring. The cherry trees were on the verge of opening blossoms and several clumps of daffodils by the front entrance of the school were budding or already blooming.

Daffodils soon to open.

Daffodils soon to open.

Blooming daffodils

Blooming daffodils

My daughters and I headed back home and the sky turned gray once more but that’s okay. Rain is necessary for reviving the earth and restoring life to grass, trees, flowers and all living things. We must pay attention to, honor, help, preserve and protect this planet every day, not just on Earth Day because it’s the only planet we have. I hope that my daughters and all future generations get to experience the amazing sweetness of nature and life.

*****

Orange Bread with Chocolate Chips

Modified from the recipe for Fresh Orange Muffins found on Food.com. I removed the butter and replaced it with yogurt and applesauce. I also reduced the sugar because the orange and orange juice are already quite sweet.

Ingredients:

  • 1 orange, unpeeled, quartered, seeds removed
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup vanilla or plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup applesauce (I use Motts Natural applesauce or homemade)
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/8 cup sugar (I use Sugar in the Raw)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees, spray an 8×8 cake/brownie pan with non-stick spray, set aside
  • Put orange quarters in food processor with orange juice and process until pureed
  • Add egg, yogurt and applesauce into processor and blend until combined. Pour into large bowl.
  • In separate bowl, combine dry ingredients then add to orange mixture.
  • Stir to combine. Add chocolate chips if desired and mix them in.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until top is just turning brown. Let stand until cool enough to eat. (I always eat one piece warm from the oven)
  • Place orange bread in fridge and enjoy cold or heat for a few seconds in microwave. Enjoy!

 

Signs of spring

Roadside stream near my house

Roadside stream near my house

March in the Northeast U.S. is a month full of Mama Nature’s mood swings. She’s not quite ready to let us have warm, sunny days regularly so she tosses one in here and there to tease us amid cold temperatures and scattered snow flurries. That’s okay though because I make sure to enjoy every moment of the nicer days by going outside on walks, while snuggling inside on the less nice  days.

Thursday is the official “First Day of Spring” but truly, that’s an optimistic notion. I’d be extremely pleased if it was suddenly 55 degrees and sunny out and the muddy, snowy bog that is my yard instantly dried up and sprung to life with green grass. No wait, nix the grass, I’m not ready to mow yet. Flowers will do nicely instead! I’m really just tired of being cold and waking up to dark mornings. The dark mornings will slowly get lighter again as the month progresses but wow, the time change makes it hard to get up early all over again!

I took Jazzmin on a pleasant, two-mile walk this afternoon and was happy to discover that I’m not terribly out of shape from being sick and mostly in bed for the past couple weeks. My legs do still have muscles and my lungs still work up to capacity! A grand discovery indeed! We saw a young fox frolicking in the field during our walk and I grinned from ear to ear because foxes are always a sign of good luck! When he saw us he immediately dashed across the road and into the woods out of sight but I thanked the powers that be for sending me such a positive sign.

The fox was a sign of continuing luck and I welcome it with an open heart, mind and spirit. I’ve had several promising changes in my freelance writing career today and it’s a grand boost to my confidence! This blog is where I ramble about whatever I like and it’s very freeing but it’s also nice to know what my professional writing is appreciated and sought after. Spring has sprung with positive omens and soon it will pop and flourish with warmer days, blooming flowers and leaves on trees!

A Shattered Evening

I HAD to mow my lawn yesterday afternoon. The grass was up to Jazzmin’s belly, almost long enough to make tiny, adorable bales and I had several varieties of mushrooms popping up all over the place from the wet weather. Yesterday it finally stopped raining and it was supposed to be sunny for the entire day. The way this spring has been going, that’s not a window of opportunity I could afford to miss. As it turned out, I had some fortunate and unfortunate luck with windows yesterday.

I checked the gas tank in my mower and saw that I had enough to do the back yard. I decided I’d get started and then go into town for more gas when I finished that largest section of the lawn. It was a lovely, sunny afternoon so I sprayed on my sunblock, popped in my ear buds, donned my big, clunky, noise-dampening ear muffs and cranked my mower up to set to work.

My lawn looked less like the field finally!

My lawn looked less like the field finally!

I put Jazz out on her lead by the swing set so she could get fresh air and be in the shade safely away from where I was mowing. She of course chose to lay in the full sun and ignore the shade. I glanced over toward where Jazz was every time I went by that way and she was either laying down in the sun or sniffing around. I was about halfway done with the back yard when I looked over at her and saw her sniffing around in the driveway. That confused me because her lead doesn’t reach that far. Then it clicked. She’d gotten off the lead! I stopped the mower as calmly as possible, turned off the blades and turned it around toward the shed and called Jazzmin cheerfully over. She followed me to the shed and I grabbed her collar before she realized she wasn’t on any sort of leash.

I decided it was the ideal time to drive into town for more gas. With Jazz in one hand and the gas tank in the other, I walked to the car, happy to be off the mower for a while. Jazz hopped into the front seat and I loaded the empty tank in the back and off we went on the five-minute drive into town. It was 75 out so I had the AC cranked and Jazzmin took great pleasure sniffing and snotting up the air vents. She loves riding in the car and looked around at the passing scenery.

Jazzmin ready to go!

Jazzmin ready to go!

I filled up the mower gas can and my own car at the cheapest station in town (which had a line out to the road) and made the quick drive back home. I put Jazzmin in the house so she could stay cool and out of trouble and then resumed mowing. It took me another hour and a half to finish mowing and I was extremely happy and relieved when I was done! No more tall grass, no more mushrooms, no more caring that it was going to rain for the next several days.

The local farmer was baling the large field behind my house and I took a few pictures while mowing and afterward. As I set my lawn furniture back in the grass and out of the driveway, I considered relaxing in a chair for a bit to watch the farming demonstration.

The farmer windrowing the hay

The farmer windrowing the hay

The baling machine at work

The baling machine at work

Gathering up the large bales

Gathering up the large bales

I saw something odd out of the corner of my eye and turned toward my car in confusion. Something wasn’t quite right about the passenger side window. I took a step closer and my mouth dropped open. There was a large hole in the window and the remaining safety glass was shattered in place. I groaned at my own stupidity. I’d mowed with the shoot toward my car and a stone had flown up and hit the window. I know better! I emitted a long slow swear word and sighed heavily. The damage was done and getting angry about it wasn’t going to change anything.

Large hole in my window and remnants of glass

Large hole in my window and remnants of glass

Shaking my head, I grabbed my leather gloves from the shed and started picking the glass out of the window and front passenger seat. There were tiny pieces of broken safety glass everywhere and the remains of the window collapsed the moment I touched it, sending several pieces of glass into my boots. Deciding it was as good as it was going to get for a while, I went inside and showered. Before full dark I ventured out with a clear garbage bag and duct tape and created a makeshift window to keep the bugs and forecasted rain out.

Thankfully I have full glass coverage on my auto insurance so I called in the claim and scheduled the window replacement for the following day. That drama dealt with, I turned on the Stanley Cup Playoffs hockey game to root for the Boston Bruins against the Chicago Blackhawks. With the game on in the background, I set to work redesigning my Boston story ebook cover and tried my best to leave the shattered evening behind me.