Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wenatchee, Washington (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Will this blog challenge ever be over?  I'm over it.
I ran out of steam at about letter H. That's how it is with me and I know this about myself. I'm not a quitter but I sure can drag something on to the bitter end. Kind of like our Sunday drive last weekend.
We drove 300+ miles and I only lifted my camera for 4 shots. This is the only one that made the cut. It wasn't a total waste of a day as my hubby and I talked the entire drive. Can't do that on a motorcycle.
Our end destination was Leavenworth (22 miles north of Wenatchee) because I had never been. He kept saying it wasn't worth the drive but I wanted to judge it for myself. He was right but now I can check that off my "wander" list. 
I'm not much for the kind of shtick they sell in Leavenworth. I hear it's pretty during Christmas-time when all the lights are up. There are lots of souvenir stores and it's all cutesy, if you're into that sort of thing. There is no sign of corporate America there, I'll give them that. Oh wait, I did see a McDonald's on the way out of town.
Took a chance and pulled into the little town of Cashmere, which is a few miles south of Leavenworth where I got this great shot of the river while standing on the bridge. Not much in Cashmere but I felt like at least I'd have one photo so I could remember this forgetful trip.
We tried to find a Thai place in Wenatchee but there was nothing open, not even a Mexican restaurant. Bad idea to leave the house with only a small container of grapes. We did find a great Mexican restaurant in Othello but by that time I was so hungry that I over-ate and was miserable all the way home.
If you are still reading, I'm sure you are wondering if this post will ever be over.  It is.
Have you ever gone someplace and been disappointed? Did you find something to like about the journey anyway?  Do you love "shtick"?
love, susan

Friday, April 24, 2015

Use What You Have (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

I'm not a very traditional person. I don't like to buy the best and fanciest of anything ... I prefer to use what I have.  I use what I have on my craft table, in my camera bag, in the fridge, etc. to create whatever it is I'm into at the moment.
Recently we were invited to a friend's house for Easter dinner.  Miss L and her mom were there too and I got to snap a couple of images of her cuteness in her Easter dress.  It was very impromptu and kind of cold that day. Our host grabbed a blanket and we looked for some kind of suitable background as quickly as possible.
I'm super happy with the color combo here. The image was a bit blurry as I'm not all that fast with my settings and honestly, this little chica is on the move now and doesn't sit very still for my camera. I don't have fancy equipment or props I drag around. I love the freedom this gives me to think quick and use my imagination.
Have you ever come up with a great new recipe using just what you have in the fridge? Do you ever just draw a Mandela on a piece of white paper with a pencil? Ever just place a few cute stickers on your outgoing bills to make the person on the other end smile?
love, susan

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Take the Picture! (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Three years ago, I traveled to Lansing, Michigan to visit my kids. Lansing has a quiet charm that I warmed up to quickly. Could be it's because my kids live there but I found something to like about everything I saw there. We did a bit of walking in those three days.
After dinner one night at a place called Meat, we walked around the corner and there was a wedding reception going on in what looked like an empty storefront. The entire front was window from top to bottom and inside were young people, dressed for a wedding and dancing. My son looked at me and said "NO, mom!"  He knew I would lift my camera to take a pic but I decided to not embarrass him. Now, all I have left is a picture of the getaway car. In my mind, those dancing kids will remain forever young.

So many times, I have not taken the picture because I was too afraid to look like a weirdo. The time we walked by two guys playing cards on the back of a taxi cab in Mexico City ... I should have taken the pic. I walked right past them and almost turned around but didn't. I took a mental snapshot instead.

I'm getting better at not hesitating. Tips from readers have helped.

Have you ever passed up taking a picture? Do images remind you of a place and time? Do you take mental snapshots?

love, susan

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Secretary's Day (A to Z Blogging Challenge)


I am so behind in this A to Z challenge but I'm not giving up. Just last week someone told me one of our attorneys is entered in a full marathon. I had no idea he was a runner, much less a marathon runner. Another woman in our office, who is older than me, is also a marathon runner. She likes to go to places like Las Vegas to run. She says she does it for the cool medals. Whatever.  Haha! I never was a runner. My point? I'm not giving up on this blogging challenge. Today I bring you the letter S.
I'm a secretary.  Old school, you know. Nowadays we're called Administrative professionals, legal assistants, etc.  As if being called a secretary is a bad thing.  
I'm super proud of my profession. I learned to type when I was in high school.  I've often written about that wonderful teacher, Mrs. Pryse, who taught a small classroom of girls how to make it in this world. Learning to type was the single most important thing I came out of high school knowing. The other things like having phone manners and customer service came from many mentors along the way. But typing? It's a part of my everyday life, even when I'm not being paid for it. My husband loves to hear me typing in the morning while he's still waking up. I love that he loves that about me.
Anyhoo, today I lift my coffee cup to all my friends who are in the business of helping others by typing information, answering phones, sending emails, and just being all-around helpful to their bosses. Last night right before I was leaving the office, I saw an attorney sneak a big pot of beautiful red flowers out to the hallway. My office is planning some kind of thank-you for all the assistants. This will be my 3rd year celebrating Secretary's Day and I can tell you that I know it's going to be fabulous.
It's my day!
Do you have a secretary?  Are you a secretary?  Do you love secretaries?  Be sure to thank them today in your daily dealings.  We love serving you but more than money in the bank, we love to hear your praises.
love, susan

Saturday, April 18, 2015

uPtown funk (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Finally ... P day got here! Photography is my favorite past time. This morning I was asked out for coffee so I grabbed my camera just in case something caught my eye.

The last time I was at the Uptown Mall in the little town where we live, I noticed they are sprucing the place up with wall painting. I saw a photographer taking images of a young couple against the wall pictured here and I'm hoping to find some victims to shoot against this great background soon.  Right now I've got Uptown Funk stuck in my head. Please, I beg of you, if you've never heard Uptown Funk, hit the link and prepare yourself for the best upbeat, fun, get-off-your-seat music by Bruno Mars. Just do it.
When I started this blog back in 2010, my intent was to find a place to drop my photos and talk about them. That is still my intent today, although once in awhile I go on a rant but not often. Mostly, I just love to write about what I saw and experienced today.

Miss L (pictured here) came for coffee with us this morning. She is the sweetest little person on the planet and even though she isn't feeling her best today and had a couple of teeth cut through this week, she was all smiles.
See what I mean about photography? And, the day has hardly even started. Headed out for a spring maiden motorcycle voyage with my camera in the bag and my handsome, high-maintenance hubby who has ruined me for anyone else. Hello weekend!
Do you love taking photos?  Do you carry a camera with you? Do you have a favorite subject to shoot? Is your significant other high maintenance?  Please, please tell me .... do you love Uptown Funk?

love, susan

Friday, April 17, 2015

One Minute Post (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

The letters N and O got away from me this week.
It's Friday. I'm tired. You'll forgive me if I just leave these beautiful spring flowers here for you, right? Write.
Change is coming. You can take that to the bank.
I haven't been stopping enough to smell the flowers but that is about to change.  The weather is expected to be in the high 70's starting today.  Vrooooom vrooooom! Dusting off the motorcycle and heading towards adventure to see whatever comes my way.  Did you just hear that old Steppenwolf song right now when you read this? 
Okay, well, go out there and make it your best day ever.  I'm going to!
Have you had your best day ever yet?  What would it look like? What's your favorite thing to do on your days off?
love, susan

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Memoir (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Abigail Thomas writes in her Thinking About Memoir that "memories survive on a wisp of fragrance, or a particular shade of blue, or a song that reminds you of a song, and you don't want to miss anything."
I've taken up photography as a mad passion the last couple of years. I was always a picture taker but now more than any other time in my life, I feel the need to document everyday happenings. I have a horrible memory and I'm afraid it is not getting better. I tell myself it's because there is no room remaining in my very full hard-drive of a brain. However, there are times when stuff from very long ago bubbles up out of nowhere.  I'm amazed and intrigued by the memories that have survived years of being buried at the bottom of the burn pile, still smoldering and hot.
I started writing memoir last year. The date on my document is exactly one year ago this month. I have not opened that file or added to it since I closed it. It got too painful. And, I hadn't even hardly gotten started.  Abigail writes: "Truth is what I'm ultimately after, truth or clarity ... once in a while you come too close to a nerve, and your writing goes flat, and your first thought might be to change the subject."
She nails it.

Why write memoir?
One more passage from Abigail's book I'll leave you with really shook me this morning, especially the last line:
"My husband, Rich, lost his memory after he was hit by a car and suffered traumatic brain injury. In a moment of perfect clarity he once described his loss like this:  "Pretend you are walking up the street with your friend. You are looking in windows. But right behind you is a man with a huge paint roller filled with white paint and he is painting over everywhere you've been, erasing everything. He erases your friend. You don't even remember his name."  It's terrifying. Because who are we without five minutes ago?
Are you a writer or photographer? Do you have a good memory? Do you wish you only remembered the good things?  
love, susan

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Look and Listen (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Today I had a date with my very charismatic dermatologist. He is the coolest thing on two legs, a democrat for sure, with super great taste in music. His nurse is a fabulous weekend photographer who lit up when I asked her how her business is going. She has a FB page so I get to see her work when she posts.  I was covering myself with my shirt while she dabbed something on the moles that were to be removed, all the while talking about how her weekend business has grown and how much she loves photography. I get it! Once we moved into the little surgery room, Dr. Wonderful came in, said he liked my khaki pants and asked his nurse to change the music to Dobie Gray's Drift Away. Can I tell you how much the banter helped relieve my fear of having my back cut on? It took 8 minutes, tops.

You know what? I love days like this. My life could not be any better, I'm quite sure. If I take the time to look and listen, I can find the beauty in everything. I saw it today.

Did you .... see the beauty in today?

love, susan

Monday, April 13, 2015

Keep the Kitties (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Old version of image
I'm a keeper. In the last 3 years, I have learned to do a little editing on my photos that I've been keeping for a couple of years. This image was taken in 2012 when I was using my little point & shoot and had no editing programs on my computer. I still don't have the big, fancy-dancy Photoshop program but I found an old version of it (Elements) at a thrift store for $5. It has served me well along with a free Google product called Picasa 3.
I'm cheap, I know it. But I'm having fun and would you agree that the updated version of this kitty photo makes it worth keeping?
A little background on this kitty. He/she was in a litter that my friend Tabby found while out in the country one day. She had parked to watch stars or something like that and heard these kittens crying. Someone had dumped them. She picked them up and brought them home. I raced over to take a look and snap photos. If my memory serves me correctly, she found a rescue group to take them and really saved the day!
Moral of this story:  Keep your images, even if you think they are dull and boring. You might learn something later that will you help you brighten them up. And, never pass up the chance to help others, even abandoned kitties.  It will improve your life immensely.
Do you have old digital photos you've spiced up with new programs? Do you have an old photo you wish you could spice up? What program(s) do you use?  Have you ever rescued an animal?
love, susan

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Heartspace (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

I'm short on time today so borrowed from my archives this post I wrote in November 2014, originally titled Do Nothing.  Today I'm feeling behind and pressed for time. I hope you'll read something here that helps your heart today.

from the archives

Hang on.  Or let go.

Thank you to my friend for giving me a topic to write about this morning. I've been feeling brain dead the last couple of weeks. I know there are ideas somewhere in my mind but lately I 've been working so hard that all I am doing is simply surviving. It's a temporary situation, thankfully.
She is not my only friend who is struggling with decisions. When I look around me, there are decisions taking place about gut wrenching, real-life stuff and it has affected my heart space. Tears have been shed for my friends. Major medical issues, relationships, plumbing problems, employment difficulties. You name it, my friends are experiencing it.  On Sunday I had a real breakthrough when I realized that I've been where all my friends are right now, in those awful transitional places that are hard, super hard and seem like the most horrible situations for them. I've been struggling and feeling their pain and the truth is that its all about the growing pains. Theirs and mine.
I've had all the above mentioned situations and then some. I often wonder when the other shoe is going to drop now because my life has been on smooth for so long. One thing I know for sure, it will drop. How I handle it is different than how I used to handle crisis.
G-d, grant me the serenity to accept the things
 I cannot change, the courage to change the things
 I can, and the wisdom to know the difference
I like this prayer. I use it often as a filter for things going on in my life that are out of control or where I need clarification for what to do next. Sometimes, doing nothing is the action I need to take.
I'm going to leave it at that for now. Think about it.  Have you ever just done nothing, slept on it, decided to not decide, etc.?
love, susan

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Free (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Who doesn't love free? I was talking with a friend last night and the conversation was a great inspiration for this post. When asked what she'd been up to she said she's been trying to have fun without spending money. Great conversation starter and we briefly talked about ways to find free things to do.  If you are in the money saving mode, I hope this list will give you some creative ideas and my greatest hope is that you'll leave me a comment with your creative ideas for doing free stuff. Once in awhile my son and beautiful daughter-in-law go on a 3 month hiatus from spending. The rules are no purchases outside of groceries, gas and monthly bills. If you think about it, most of us have everything we need. My favorite thing in the world is to do or see something different in my off time and if I can do it for free, even better!
Go for a walk. 
Call a friend.
Take a drive, if you have gas to burn!
Take your own coffee.
Go for a picnic lunch.
Make some art.
Write a blog post.
Write a letter to someone.
Sort through old photos and make an album.
Clean a closet.
Go shoot some photos.
Brush your dog.
Rearrange the furniture.
Visit a park you've never been to.
Cook something fabulous.
Try a new recipe.
Visit your downtown area, park and take a walk.
Window shop.
Bird watch.
Check your local newspaper for free weekend events.
Visit a friend.
Shoot some photos.
Make your bed.
This is a short list.  What would you add to it?
love, susan

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easy to Create (A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Continuing a month long blog fest using the alphabet 'aint easy. My blogger friend over at Angels Bark has spent the last 6 months putting together her A to Z posts. It is a comprehensive review of 70's music that will make you glad you were alive back then. I hope you'll go check it out.

Me? I'm writing this post right now, early Monday morning ... not because I don't like spending time writing but because I spent my weekend doing the fun things I like to do in the creative department; things I love to write about. We took a drive Saturday (read: Artist's Date) and although it was not sunny where we ended up, I used a few creative buttons in my editing program and made the skies the blue I was seeking. Easy fix.
I have a ton of tricks up my sleeve for creating. Just off the top of my head, here is a list of things I do to stay an easy, creative person because let's face it ... if it's hard, I'm probably not going to do it.
  • Carry a camera everywhere I go
  • Keep colored pencils and pens on my home desk top
  • In my bag I carry a quart-sized zip loc bag filled pens and blank cards for creating Zentangles (that post will be at the end of this series)
  • Have photo prints made of my favorite images to affix to blank cards for quick note cards
  • Use color in the kitchen when I'm creating a meal
  • Highlighters ... I keep them everywhere!

How about you? Got any easy tricks up your sleeve?  If you're like me, you're always looking for new ways to be creative. Tell me what little things you do to help that process.  I'd love to hear from you!

love, susan

TOMORROW: F words!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Develop (Blogging A to Z Challenge)

I am in the love with the word develop. In fact, I think it should marry the word create and have kids. 
When I signed up for this challenge, I immediately began developing a list of ideas. The problem was that I kept starting lists and throwing it in my purse or I'd have a sheet of paper on my work desk to write down ideas.  I was so excited about writing a post everyday that I could barely sleep for the thoughts rolling around in my head. My ideas are all over the place. 
So ... what if Develop did marry Create? What would their kids look like?  Here are the words that I found on one my lists for this challenge:
Art forms, artist's date, Begin, blog, budget, beach, Cards, calendar, cookie, cake design, cooking, creative juices, Dogs, designs, destination, decoration, Economizing, Fun, free, fiber, festive, friends, food (deviled eggs), Glass, gleen, garbage, Handwriting, hearts, Image, Jacob Norby, K (I got nothing!), Lists, learning, Mind mapping, Not too late, One thousand words, Photography, pictures, photo walks, podcasts, process, Quiet time, Rubber stamping, Sunshine, SuddenlySusan, Themes, U (still, I got nothing), Various, variable, vice, visual, Watercolor pencils, writing, X, Y, Zentangle.
Okay, now you've seen a bit of my crazy side. How do you develop new ideas? Do you love making lists? Do you have lists everywhere? What's on your lists?
Thank you for stopping by. I hope you'll visit again.

love, susan

Friday, April 3, 2015

Create (A to Z Challenge)

Creating is difficult to par down to 300 words or less so I 've broken this post into categories. I think you'll find some great ideas here if you'll take 5 minutes from your busy day to read it. 
For the last 3 years I have chosen one word to focus on as a New Year's resolution. Using one word opens up a large can of ideas for me and has proven helpful in all areas of my life.  Previous words I've used are minimize, develop, and focus. Following is how I think about the word create.

When I think about creating, or forming new ideas, I determine how much time I have to go shoot photos, have coffee with a friend, bake something fabulous, or simply sit and read a book. Recently I've become a big fan of podcasts. When I sit down at my craft table, I turn on a podcast. Right now I'm enjoying one by Michael Hyatt called This is Your Life.  If you click on this link, in this episode he talks about 10 Ways to Generate More Blog Traffic. It's free and I think you'll enjoy it.

My friendships are important to me and I think having like-minded friends is super helpful in the creative process. I discovered last year that I have quite a few hidden artists among my gal pals. You probably do, too! Start by asking them, what kinds of things do you like to create? Your friends may tell you they are not creative but I guarantee you it is because they don't see themselves that way. I have one friend who recently has been bitten with the "gardening bug". Her eyes light up when she talks about it. If that's not creative, I don't know what is. I love that!

Two years ago, I started a 30-day photo scavenger hunt on FB. I tagged a few people and got some interested in following along. One of those friends created a FB group for us and now we have 197 group members. We take turns coming up with a month long list of creative items for people to shoot and post. Lots of ideas happening there. You could start your own scavenger hunt. Get creative!

I discovered a couple of my friends are painters. We got together a couple of months ago for an artist's day and they demonstrated watercolor and acrylics. I picked up a new love for watercolor pencils. I also make my own greeting cards with rubber stamping and decorating chalk. I don't spend a lot of money on any of it, picking up items at thrift stores and items people have given me over the years. Lack of money is no excuse for not creating. I use my own images when I blog. I use Picasa 3 (free) for photo editing. Susan's Rule: never let a cable bill go out without a pretty stamp on it!
I use a few simple tools in the kitchen to stay creative. My lunches always have lots of color and I like to keep it creative even when I'm serving my husband a sandwich on the weekends. Colorful food items like grapes and green olives make me so happy. I keep cute little cookie cutters on hand for heart shaped slices of cheese. Think about it! Who doesn't like to see a little love on their plate?
So, you see, there are many ways you can be creative if you give it a chance. If you are blogging, I know you are a creative person and I would love to hear from you.
What do you like to create? Do you have some ideas about creating you can pass on to me? Do ideas ever keep you awake at night? What word would you choose to focus on for a whole year?   Thank you so much for stopping by. Hope you'll leave me a comment!
TOMMOROW:  Develop
love, susan

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Blogging Tips (from A to Z 2015 Challenge)

I've been blogging since 2010.  My very first entry was the dumbest post ever about banana pie.  I had no idea what I was doing but I wanted to get started. I often refer back to that first post because when I am encouraging others, I need to let them know where I started.

Since that first post, I have used this blog to document the parts of my life that are fun and perhaps worth sharing. I have been on an adventure with my husband for 14 years now and I regret that I waited so long to keep this public journal.

After I got going with posts every day, I discovered a feature called "Labels". I use labels to tag my posts into categories. This has been useful, for example, when at the end of a summer of motorcycling my husband will say "we hardly went anywhere this summer". I started documenting all the road trips we took and labeled them so I could prove him wrong.

Another feature I am using during this challenge that you might like to try is "Schedule".  I am writing this particular post on Wednesday and will schedule it to publish tomorrow morning at 5:30am. There is a certain feeling of accomplishment I get when I do that. I know the post is sitting there, waiting to go live and I have a deadline if I wish to change anything in it. If you haven't tried this feature, now is a great time to try it.

After writing this blog for 5 years now, sometimes I feel short on ideas. I like to Google "writing prompts". I also handwrite in a journal almost every morning and often ideas will bubble up. I enjoy photography, Zentangle, cooking and most recently watercolor penciling. Most of my post ideas come from a visual place in my mind.

Where do you get your ideas? Do you ever feel stuck? What do you do to un-stick yourself?  Have you ever gone on an artist's date?

Thank you for stopping by my blog!


love, susan

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Artist's Date

A is for Artist.   I have a hard time calling myself an artist but I have to tell you that I never feel better than when I'm creating something. I don't make a living at it but I believe it is in my DNA.
This is my first post for the April A to Z Blog Challenge 2015.  I'm excited about the possibilities for learning new ideas and making new blogger friends. I participated last year and I went with a random theme. This year I decided to use the word "Create" as my theme, a word  I chose in January in place of a New Year's resolution. The word alone conjures up a lot of ideas ... so many that it makes my head spin some days.
I do want to tell you about my most recent artist's date inspired by Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist's Way. The Artist Date is a space of time one saves for themselves to rejuvenate and allow for creative juices to flow back in where work and daily living can suck the ideas dry. I'll be forever grateful to a mentor who pointed me to Julia's book.

Some of my favorite artist dates  are with a friend who loves photography and walking. We get together a couple of Sundays every year to snap photos and solve world problems. A couple Sundays ago it was quite chilly when we started out so we just took pictures of our dogs playing in her back yard. Even though it is spring here, I love how the cold air caused frosty breath in the morning sunrise. It was heaven.
Feeling creatively stuck? Make a date with your inner artist and see what happens.  What do you think you'll do? Where do you think you'll go? Will you feel weird taking yourself out on a date?  Try it!
love, susan 

You Made My Day, Dude!

A couple weeks ago while I was driving back to Portland after spending the night on the Oregon coast, we came up on some road construction ...