Saturday, November 30, 2013

334/365 Grateful for Sincerity

"A Swing and A Smile"

I have so enjoyed my Thanksgiving break!  As is usually the case with me, I have not accomplished everything that I had hoped over this long weekend,  but I have enjoyed it and have no regrets about the things left undone.  And, I have not stepped foot in a retail establishment of any kind...not even the grocery store.  We won't talk about online purchases.

After going out to breakfast with Weber this morning, I went to get my hair cut - nothing new or drastic; just basic maintenance.  This afternoon Erin's boyfriend's family wanted some photos taken while kids were home from college for the weekend.  It was a beautiful day for pictures at the park.
The youngest of the group (who is not in college:-)) was all dressed up for the photos.  Though he was patient while I was taking pictures, he really wanted to be playing on the swings.  The above photo is a snapshot taken between locations.  I love the juxtaposition of the "grown up" clothes and the smile of a happy little boy.

I haven't yet had the chance to weed out and process the family photos.  That will have to wait until later in the week.  Below is a quick edit on a shot of Erin and Edgar.  I never have to do much work on their photos because they are so photogenic!

Friday, November 29, 2013

333/365 Grateful for Legacy


It's funny where the mind goes when you think of legacy.  My first thought was to cookbooks.  Though I don't have any of my mother's cookbooks, I do have some recipe cards that she made for me that are in her handwriting.  I also have Weber's mother's cookbook, the one with all of the handwritten favorites on scraps of paper and those recipes cut from packages, magazines and newspapers.  Every family has a cookbook like this.  They are treasures because family recipes shared at family meals are the backbone of most family memories.  Even though I believe all of this whole-heartedly,  I went a different direction with today's photo.

As a crafter, I also believe that many family traditions live on in those things made and crafts shared. As babies, my girls were wrapped in the same afghan that my grandmother knitted for me when I was born.  They also had one knitted by mother.  Should they have children of their own someday, another generation will share in this legacy.  We can learn so much about those who came before us by looking at the things they made.

The photo above is Weber's mother's sewing cabinet.  It was made by his grandfather for his grandmother.  Though Weber's mother died in 1980, the cabinet's content have remained almost untouched since then.  It still contains all of her sewing notions.  This is another way for me to learn something about a woman I never met.

By looking at the spools of thread I can tell something about her favorite colors, or at least the colors she liked to wear.  And the button drawer is fascinating.  It is full of leftover packaged buttons from things I assume she made.  There is also an assortment of buttons that look like they were removed from garments before they were discarded.  Then there are the extra buttons that come with store-bought clothing.  I had fun not too long ago digging through the drawer of buttons to find just the right ones for a baby sweater that I made.

My skills as a seamstress stopped with toddler sundresses.  (The clothes I make are only suitable for someone moving too quickly for anyone to notice the imperfections.)  So, I will never use the items in the sewing cabinet in the ways that they were once used.  I will, however, always look first to the button drawer when looking for just the right buttons for a knitted sweater.  And, the thread comes in handy when I have to sew on that occasional button.

I wonder if someone will dig through my yarn stash someday and try to figure out what kind of person I was.  There will be no question about my favorite color.  Hopefully I won't be the person who is remembered as the one who never seemed to finish anything!  Maybe I should leave just one sock unfinished to spur on the next generation of knitters.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

332/365 Grateful for My Life

"The Sweet Spot"

I did a terrible job of photographing our Thanksgiving!  I didn't even pick up my camera until almost all was said and done.  I'm not sure how that happened.  However, in many ways, this picture sums up our Thanksgiving fairly well.

Erin appointed herself the mastermind of this year's celebration.  We all gathered at the house in Denton.  This arrangement took a lot of pressure off of me - no major cleaning!  Erin assigned all of us something to bring.  Weber smoked a turkey.  Brooke made roasted brussels sprouts, pumpkin pie and, of course, bread.  I was assigned chocolate chip pie and mashed potatoes, which I actually made with cauliflower.  FYI, they were really good, at least I thought so.  Mike, Jason, Erin and Edgar banded together and made the dressing, sweet potatoes and green beans.  Needless to say, there was no shortage of food!

A tradition that has been a part of our family Thanksgiving celebration for many years is a movie, actually at the theater, after our meal is finished.  This started when the girls were younger and Mike travelled a lot.  Because they all share a similar taste in movies (one that I don't share with them) this was a time for the three of them to spend some time together and an opportunity for me to go to a movie by myself and have some alone time.  We kept up the tradition, sort of, today.

Mike and Jason were not interested in a movie.  The kids all went to see the new Hunger Games movie, one that Weber and I had absolutely no interest in seeing so we went to Philomena.
I'm not sure what the verdict was about the movie the kids saw, but Weber and I really enjoyed our movie.  After our trip to the theater, which gave our meal time to settle, we returned home for pie.  And, I remembered that I hadn't taken a single picture yet.

I caught Erin taking her first bite of the pumpkin pie that her sister made.  I'll have to wait until Christmas to get a picture of us all together.  But, since Erin did most of the real work for our day today I am OK with this picture as my photo of the day.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

331/365 Grateful for Home Made

"Grateful for Bread"

Since Brooke has been home with us, and even more since the girls started their bread baking business, we never have a shortage of freshly baked bread.  For me, the carbohydrate addict, this is like heaven on earth.  I, however, do not take this abundance of bread for granted.  It is a spiritual thing to watch all of the ingredients, separate as they are, come together into these beautiful loaves.  The process is sometimes long and rather meticulous.  Temperatures and time are important.  

Bread at our house is not uncared for or unwanted.  And, it is certainly not taken for granted.  

As we approach these next days of holiday celebrations, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, let us be even more mindful of the bread that we break with our families and friends, that we acknowledge its role in nourishing our bodies and our souls.  Let us also remember those who are lonely and hungry in body and spirit.  Pray that they too will be fed.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

330/365 Grateful for The Journey

"Lifelong Journey"

I can't believe that I have been teaching at Brookhaven for 20 years!  Time does fly when you are having fun.  I do have fun.  I can't think of a better place for me to be.

Monday, November 25, 2013

329/365 Grateful for Relationships

"Second Chances"

Brooke's Kitchen Aide mixer decided that it had mixed enough bread and ceased to play nicely with her.   Not to be defeated by a mixer, Brooke turned to the Internet to see if she could diagnose its exact ailment.  Based on her findings, she decided that it needed a new gear.  She found the parts and ordered them online.

They arrived yesterday and today was surgery day for "Matilda."  Brooke managed to get everything taken apart except for the final piece, a snap ring that would not budge.  She enlisted Weber's help.  Between the two of them they were able to successfully replace the ailing part.

My original intent was that today's photo would be about Brooke's relationship with her mixer.  To capture the relationship between these two is a bonus for me.  And, I suppose it also captures the intimate relationship they both were having with the innards of a Kitchen Aide mixer!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

328/365 Grateful for Contentment


After church this morning, we came home to a nice calm rest of the day.  With the cold temperatures it seemed a perfect day for a nap and then a big pot of chili.  Content does indeed describe how I have felt today.  Despite that, I struggled with a photo.  I'll just have to be content with what I got.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

327/365 Grateful for Imperfect Moments

'It Will Take Two"

Winter has finally hit Dallas!  We spent the morning running errands.  Despite the chilly temperatures, we decided that when we got home we try to take a few pictures of us together.  This is always tricky interns of camera settings and focus, kind of like the selfies.  Today it was more than tricky; it was pretty much a disaster.

I'm not sure what my problem was, but my camera and I definitely were not one with each other.  First I had difficulty getting the correct exposure.  That shouldn't have been a problem.  The sky was gray and overcast.  What light there was was nice and even.  Once I got the exposure problem solved, then I was plagued with focus issues.  No matter what I tried,  I failed to get us both in focus.  In a word, the day's pictures were terrible.

I found this all kind of funny given today's prompt - "imperfect moments."  

Normally I would have considered this kind of day a failure and deleted all of the pictures.  Instead, I decided to see what I could salvage.  This one is the best of the bunch.  Sad, isn't it.  Oh well, tomorrow is a new day.  Maybe a little rain, sleet, snow and ice will make for better pictures.  It certainly can't make them much worse.

Friday, November 22, 2013

326/365 Grateful for Wide Open Spaces

"My Bundled Up Baby"

Texas is full of wide open spaces but I wasn't going to go in search of one of them to photograph today.  The weather here was cold and rainy and just plain yucky to be out in.  My baby did come see me tonight and I couldn't resist taking a picture of her all bundled up for our first cold snap of the year.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

325/365 Grateful for Boundless Spirit

"Life Touched"

This month's Inspired class prompt is hands.  Yesterday while teaching a composition lesson I was stuck by the juxtaposition of my hand (top left) with that of my student's.  All I had was my phone, but with permission I snapped this shot.  As I thought about today's prompt, boundless spirit, this image resonated with me as being a perfect depiction for several reasons.

Personally, it speaks of my deep love of teaching and of music.  It also speaks of the truly boundless spirit of this student.  Let's just say that she refers to herself as my surrogate parent.  After retiring from a career as a professor herself, she has returned to the other side of the desk as a student studying music composition.  Here we are putting the final touches on a composition to be entered in the Daughter's of the American Revolution composition contest.

These hands also paint and sculpt and are learning to play the piano.  They have written books, planted flowers and petted dogs and cats.  

Though theoretically I am the teacher in this student-teacher relationship, I feel more like the student; It seems to me that I learn so much more than I teach during our time together - maybe not about composing, but about living life to its fullest.  I hope that when I am her age that I will embrace life with the same energy, joy and boundless spirit as does my student and friend.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

323/365 Grateful for Photography

"Not So Random Words"

Why did I have such a hard time with today's prompt?  I am amazed that with as much time as I spend with my camera in my hand or my head in a book about photography I couldn't come up with a meaningful image to document how grateful I am to have photography in my life.  I'm feeling kind of like a loser.  

I finally settled on a photo of a collage that I did as part of a creativity workshop.  We chose random words from magazines and newspapers and then had to arrange them into some meaningful statement.  These words say a lot about how my soul is touched by photography.  

 The picture of the collage was blah at best.  I did enhance it a little bit in PS.  It is still blah but this will have to do for today.  Hopefully tomorrow will bring with it a dose of creativity.

Monday, November 18, 2013

322/365 Grateful for Entertainment

"Easily Entertained"

Somebody at school decided that it would be a good idea to have dual monitors on our computers.  I don't need nor do I want dual monitors.  I don't multi-task.  Period, the end.  Someone who does not multi-task does not want to look at two different monitors.  However, the screen saver that morphs across the two monitors is very cool!  I am embarrassed to admit how entertained I was today as I sat eating my lunch and watching the colors ebb and flow.  Perhaps I need a life.  Or a lunch buddy.  Or, maybe a therapist.  Don't judge me!  I'll get through this.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

321/365 Grateful for Special Friends

"Daddy's Little Girl"

These two have a special bond.  I'm convinced that the story of their coming together is one of those "God Things." 

I wrote here about the day that Harley came to live with me.  The part of the story that occurred before I got to the knit shop that day is what makes this picture most fascinating. (What I am about to say will not make complete sense unless you have read the earlier post.)

Prior to me arriving at the knit shop on that cold February day,  Alissa had called Weber's then wife, who was a mutual friend (Don't go jumping to conclusions; its not what it sounds like!) to see if perhaps she wanted a puppy.  She and Weber had just lost the last of their dogs and Alissa thought that maybe they were ready for another.  Without much thought, the response was  "No!"  Since this conversation occurred during the school day, Weber was not home and was not consulted on the decision.

Fast froward almost two years....Weber was divorced.  Mike and I were divorced.  Weber and I were dating and discussing our future together.  A year after that we were married and were renovating Weber's house, the house where Harley would have lived from the beginning had Weber's ex-wife agreed to take her in the first place.

Scroll down through this post to see how the two of them like to spend their Christmas Day.

She was meant to be Weber's girl.  It sure was a crazy ride getting to this point!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

320/365 Grateful for Color

"Colors in the Wind"

This is the status of my Christmas knitting.  It is probably in this particular state because I was taking pictures of the yarn rather than knitting with the yarn.  Apparently I have a problem with priorities.  But the colors sure are pretty all clumped together.  Maybe I can give 'Do-It-Yourself Hat, Scarf, Slipper  Kits"  to everyone.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

319/365 Grateful for Nourishment

"Everyday Nourishment"

Everyday, regardless of what else we pack for lunch, there is always an apple.  This was not a conscious decision; I suppose it is a habit that we have formed and neither of us has ever questioned it.  Whoever makes lunches slices an apple for each lunch.  No discussion.

We don't pack any kind of dessert sweets for lunch.  For me, my apple satisfies any desire that I may have for something sweet after lunch.  Honeycrisp apples are the favorite around here though we can only get them in the fall.  The one pictured is an Arkansas Black.

Somewhere deep down in our subconscious mind we must be firm believers in "an apple a day keeps the doctor away."

Thursday, November 14, 2013

318/365 Grateful for Progress

"Half Stoned"

Just keeping things real today...

We are almost done with the renovations on the inside of the house and have now started on the outside.  Most of the outside work is being done on the entry way and front porch.  The biggest change is the addition of stone to some of the red brick on the front of the house.  The stone is in place but is waiting to be grouted.  A fresh coat of paint will also be added as soon as we choose the color.  We are hoping to remove a few shrubs and expand the front entry a bit.  As I am writing this, it seems like we have a lot left to do.  Hopefully we can accomplish it all before the end of the year.  We'll see...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

317/365 Grateful for Unspoken Words

"Wise and Quiet"

"The good and the wise lead quiet lives."

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

316/365 Grateful for Simple Pleasures

"Perfect Match"

Someone who loves me left me a treat on my computer keyboard when I stepped away for a minute.  I had a lot to do tonight and was a bit on the stressed side.  It is not necessarily a pretty thing when I am trying to do too many things (like more than one) at a time.  I get grouchy.  It is very possible that this gift left for me was really an act of self preservation.  A little chocolate and peanut butter will settle me down for at least a few minutes.  Whatever the impetus, I enjoyed it!

Monday, November 11, 2013

315/365 Grateful for Freedom

"Not Forgotten"

This is the POW / MIA bracelet that I have had since 1969.  Though I was much too young to understand all of the politics of the Viet Nam war, it was very real to me because my dad spent a year in Viet Nam.  Thankfully, he returned home safely to us.

As a child, I wore two of these bracelets.  In 1973 while living in Hawaii, I had the honor of meeting each and every plane carrying the POW's who were returning home.  Stepping off the plane in Honolulu was the first American soil that these serviceman had stepped on since their release.  I was able to give me other bracelet to the man whose name was engraved upon it.  Like my father, he returned home to his family.  CDR. William P. Yarbrough did not.  To this day, I pray for him and his family.

On Veteran's Day, I give thanks for all of the men and women who have and are serving our country and protecting our freedoms.  And, I remember those who lost their life so that the lives of others would be better.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

314/365 Grateful for Selfless Acts

"For the Love of Students"

Much of who I am today is the result of teachers that I had along the way, teachers who believed in me, nurtured me, and challenged me.  There is no doubt that they all imparted knowledge, but it is the wisdom of these most influential people that has remained with me, particularly in the case of those teachers who taught calculus and chemistry.  The greatest way I know to honor what each of these selfless people did for me is to give to my students that same kind of learning experience that I was given.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

313/365 Grateful for Challenges

"How Do I Challenge Thee?  Let Me Count the Ways"

Challenges are a funny thing.  We seem like them when we choose them ourselves...better a run time, finish the Friday crossword puzzle, lose weight, finish a pair of socks, stay awake until we finish the book.  We tend to meet the  challenges that we set for with enthusiasm.  Is this because we know that if we are willing to set the challenge ourselves that we are fairly certain that we can meet and overcome it?  

Part of today's challenge was the monthly self-portrait.  After eleven months of doing this, it is now the technical aspects of it that challenge me a little more than the emotional ones.  Back in January, it was all challenging!  I am coming to grips with who I am and what I look like.  There is not a whole lot that I can do about that really.  (At least not until my Photoshop skills improve greatly.  Then, who knows, I could become six feet tall, tan and a size 4.)  I really am glad to have a few photos of myself.  Some of them are even OK.  I think that this one is the first head to toe shot that I have taken this year.

You may be wondering why I didn't dress a little more appropriately for a photo shoot.  Today's attire is actually part of my response to challenges.  When we were in Portland for the NOAH Adult Weekend, it seems that some of the locals were a bit taken aback by seeing twenty  adults with albinism walking through their streets.  One evening as we were walking back to our hotel after dinner, someone (probably a drunk someone) yelled, "What is it with all of you with white hair and pale skin?"  A quick thinker among us responded with, "We are the Swedish Bikini Team."  This seemed to satisfy the inquirer.  As we continued to walk, another curious soul asked if we were part of a cult. There was no question that this person was experiencing better living through chemistry.  Rather than engage her in conversation, our fearless leader encouraged us to "swim on."

As the weekend continued, several inside jokes evolved.  Someone decided that we needed a T-shirt to commemorate our weekend.  In a moment of unclear thinking having nothing to do with any mind-altering substances, I agreed to design the T-shirts.  Another challenge; I have never designed a T-shirt before.

I knew that it had to be simple, but I also wanted to include as many of the meaningful little moments from the weekend as I could.  Starting with the green...there was something about Portland and ducks and green:-)  Everyone seemed to be wearing green.  And, the shirts needed to be a good background color for pale people in bikinis.  

There are five women and one male on the bikini chorus line.  This is because one night as we were sitting in the lobby of the hotel, several women but only one male with albinism, another confused Portland party-er asked, "Are you all family?"  The lone male replied, "Sort of...they are all my wives."  I'm not sure whether the questioner was jealous or felt sorry for this guy.  His response, "I figured you must be Mormon."

The girls' bikini bottoms are heart-shaped.  This is simply a nod to the love and kinship that we all feel for one another.  There is comfort in being around people who understand through personal experience the most difficult struggles that we face in life.

The final challenge in today's photo is actually wearing the shirt out in public.  Why?  Because it is an invitation for people to ask, "What the heck is the Swedish Bikini Team?"  I have to be prepared to openly discuss albinism with this stranger, to risk being made fun of.  The flip side is that it may also be an invitation to educate and advocate not only for persons with albinism, but for anyone with any kind of differences.

I realized this final challenge when I was placing the order for the shirts.  (As an aside, I ordered them from; they are an awesome company to work with!  I highly recommend them to anyone who finds themselves responsible for ordering shirts for a group.)  Both customer service representatives that I spoke with commented on how much they liked the shirt design and wanted to know what they were for.  Umm...they are a response to being made fun of on the streets of Portland?  I ended up sharing most of the story with the reps on the phone.  They were truly supportive of our message and our mission to educate the general population about albinism.

The shirts arrived this week and Weber and I got them all packaged and mailed to the rest of the team this morning.  That could have been a challenge if I had been responsible for creating the database with everyone's name address and shirt size.  Thankfully, my beloved husband did all that.  I truly have an artist's temperament when it comes to that kind of stuff.

Friday, November 8, 2013

312/365 Grateful for R&R

"Friday in the Park"

I am grateful that today is Friday and even more grateful that tomorrow is Saturday.  More and more I appreciate the weekend.  Yes, there are household chores to be done and a few errands, but none of that requires setting an alarm, only having time for one cup of coffee before heading out the door, or being dressed before 7am.  Life over the next twenty four hours is looking pretty darn good from my current vantage point!

This was a good week; it just never seemed to slow down - until now.  That may not be an entirely good thing, though.  I have had time to surf the Internet looking at photography books.  I purchased a couple of ebooks.  The others on my list will end up on my Christmas list.

I spent the day at school with Weber mentoring this morning and then staying to hear their Veteran's Day assembly this afternoon.  It is so much fun to hear those young musicians.  The band, orchestra and choir all performed.  These kids, many of whom have only been involved in music for a year or two, are only four or five years younger than some of my college students.  It is amazing to think about how much they will grow in those next few years.

We stopped by the park on the way home from school.  I knew that I only had about forty-five minutes of daylight to accomplish the day's photo.  I had a few ideas.  After quickly working through my list, I was most happy with the above shot.  I like its simplicity, its nothingness.  I have learned in the last few years that it is OK to take a few moments and do absolutely nothing.  That is the only way that I can truly relax.  For many, many years I never stopped.  Now I know why I was stressed all the time. 

We only spent a few minutes sitting at the park, but that was enough time for me to unwind from the stresses of the week and relax into the weekend.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

311/365 Grateful for Quiet Times

"Going In Circles Is Not All Bad"

Most days I feel like a hamster on one of those exercise wheels...round and round I go only to end up right back where I started not knowing for sure what I have accomplished.   Feeling like there is something else that I need to be doing all the time makes it hard for me to slow down, take a deep breath and calmly and quietly reflect on the day.  One way that I like to celebrate my day is by drawing a mandala.  This sacred circle helps me to gain a better perspective on the crazy circles that I have run all day long.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

310/365 Grateful for the Little Things

'It's in the Little Things"

Thank you , Sara!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

309/365 Grateful for Birthdays

"The Right Time"

Despite all the jokes and teasing that usually come our way on birthdays, especially once you cross the 50 mark, they are still deserving of a joyous celebration.  To have the opportunity to greet another year is such a blessing.

One of the ways that we honor and celebrate the lives of our parents who have died is to light a remembrance candle on their birthdays.  It is a small but meaningful gesture.

Monday, November 4, 2013

308/365 Grateful for Harvest

"Harvesting the Brain"

Took this one a few days (weeks?) ago for my baby the math nerd.  It will have to do for today.  It was a rainy gray day here and there was nothing being harvested.  

I am grateful that the Lego mini figures always come to my rescue when my creativity is pretty much non-existent.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

307/365 Grateful for Sight

"The Better To See You With"

I am grateful for all the things that make it easier for me to visually navigate through my days.  My iPad, phone, glasses and monocular each do a little to make my world a little better.  Because light sensitivity is one of the issues with my eyes, I chose to over expose this photo as a nod to that.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

306/365 Grateful for Lessons Learned

"Follow Your Dreams"

I have learned many  many lessons in my lifetime, most of them the hard way.  The one that I value the most and the one that I wish that I had learned much earlier in life is to follow your dreams.  I have tried to teach that one to the girls.  Aren't parents supposed to try to keep their children from making the same mistakes that they did?  I am happy to see the girls trying to make a go of their bread baking business.  I wish that I didn't see so much of its mess in my kitchen, but I do enjoy seeing them trying to create something that is their very own.  Who knows, maybe they will be the next Wonder Bread.

This picture is far from technically good;  that speaks to another lesson that I have learned.  Everything doesn't have to be, nor can it be, perfect.  It has taken me a long time to learn that one but I think I might almost be there!

Friday, November 1, 2013

305/365 Surprise

"A Friendly Surprise"

Our friend Paul, who collects Hot Wheels and knows of my fondness for Lego mini figures, discovered that Hot Wheels and Lego have joined forces.  This car has the iconic Lego "pegs" so that the mini figures can stand.  How cool is that!  It takes a true friend to know and appreciate how excited I would be to be given this Hot Wheels car as a surprise today. Since Paul started as our contractor and became a true friend during the process of the house renovations, it seemed only fitting for the day's photo to include the mini figure that best represents Paul.