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.

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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!