Sunday, February 19, 2017

Signs


There's a long story behind this sign.

It contains words like

vision
innocence
joy
fun
love
future
possibility
integrity
devotion
decency
respect
loyalty
stability
credibility
deceit
disgrace
sorrow
naivete
honest mistakes
ineptness
poor judgement
lack of discernment
closed mindedness
re-vision
potential
selfishness
instability
nepotism
arrogance
insecurity
failure




Saturday, February 4, 2017

Fence Faces


Last summer when I was pondering life from my deck swing, I noticed a pattern on the back fence that reminded me of Blu2, my Afghan Hound.


The other day when Khaleesi & I were enjoying an unseasonably warm afternoon, I found myself lazily gazing at the fence again. I saw Blu2's face and felt a twinge of sadness. I still miss him.
But I also noticed a couple more patterns. 


I don't think I've gotten any weirder; let's agree that the fence is getting more weathered! What do the photos above & below remind you of?


I know it sounds crazy, but think of it like seeing shapes in the clouds.


 So I said, hey! these are cool! I need to take some pictures and call this series "Fence Faces."


I used Lightroom to bring out the images so you wouldn't have to stretch your imagination so much.



By the way, here's Khaleesi enjoying 72 degree temps in January!





Thursday, January 26, 2017

Foxes & Afghan Hounds

Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen...
~"Hair"



OK, so maybe this 70s song wasn't exactly referencing Afghan Hound hair, but it's an introduction into the metaphor of how "little foxes spoil the vine."

Catch for us the foxes,
the little foxes
that ruin the vineyards,
our vineyards that are in bloom.
Song of Songs 2:15

Hippie song to Bible verse?

I admit, it's a stretch.


Do you see the beautiful coat on this dog? If you think it looks like a lot of work to keep up, you would be right and you would be wrong.  Regular brushing keeps it looking good. It's the "little foxes" that cause the problem.

Here in Oklahoma, we have an annoying weed that we've fooled ourselves into thinking is lawn grass. It's called Bermuda grass. It grows like a vine but it can endure the hot summers better than the nice, soft northern fescues and ryes. I personally hate the stuff but don't have a choice in the matter.


Dead grass and furry pets are a tough combination. From late fall to spring, their little paws double as mops sweeping in the dried grass & leaves. Every day you have to clean the floors.


Dead Bermuda grass and long coated pets are a test to try the patience of a saint. This viney vegetation has little hooks which I suppose is what creeps along the ground & buries itself to carpet the yard. The problem occurs when the grass dries and those little hooks catch in the dog's silky hair.


My Khaleesi looks like a glamour queen and plays like an 8 year old country boy. She loves to run in the rain, dig in the mud, and roll around in the grass. That's fine in the green season (excepting the rain & mud), but this dry wintertime is ... really keeping me busy.

Even with regular grooming I still find mats. I carefully brush them out. Sometimes I have to work some detangling product into it. Strand by strand, separate the golden hairs. Brush, brush, brush. Nine times out of ten, do you know what I find in the middle of this cluster? A teeny, tiny grass hook! It can be smaller than a peppercorn, but it causes a big problem.


This happens in our lives, too. We bounce along, busy with work, family, friends, hobbies, entertainments. Unnoticed, an insignificant, little peppercorn with a hook attaches itself. We sleep in and miss a workout. Before long, we're back to being a couch slouch. Or we're running late and skip our devotional time one morning. Then another. And it gets easier to skip it altogether.  We make a sarcastic comment disguised as humor. People laugh and sarcasm becomes our way of conversation. We have a drink at the end of a hard day, not realizing there's a whole week or month of hard days still to come.

You get the idea. Bad habits don't just happen; they creep up on us. With a little watering, they'll start to cover the lawn of your life. Without the discipline of regular "brushing," you've got a mess of a mat that you'll have to spend much time untangling. If you let it get too bad, you might even have to cut it out.

But what does that have to do with foxes?

In our pop culture obsessed, hi-tech, sophisticated world, the Bible seems outdated; a book for dull, old people. Quite the contrary - the wisdom it contains is timeless and it was written for our benefit. The foxes represent the seemingly harmless things that, when allowed to run rampant, will make a matted mess of your life. Your life is symbolized by the vineyard. The blooming vineyard speaks of your spiritual fruit. Spiritual fruit also yields wonderful fruit in your daily world.

Be alert to the little foxes (or grass hooks), that may be trying ruin the good things God wants to produce in and through your life!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Good Morning Sunshine!



After a dreary drizzly week, it was nice to see the sun this morning!


That's all we have to say today. Have a great week, wherever you are!

An Old Celtic Blessing
May the blessing of light be on you—
light without and light within.
May the blessed sunlight shine on you
and warm your heart
till it glows like a great peat fire.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Phone Klutz



I admit it. I'm a cell phone klutz. My family gets annoyed because they can never reach me. My phone is either in my purse or needs charged. I cannot thumb text. Typing a text takes me 4-ev-er and the only means of communication my staff acknowledges is a text. Ugh.

Right before Christmas I had to waste an hour at the phone store replacing the 2-year old device (but yay for upgrade time!) I had been shopping, and as we tend to do nowadays, wanted to take a picture of an item I was thinking about buying. Removed phone from purse. Had it firmly in hand. Went to press the camera icon and would you believe that thing literally jumped out of my hand? I am not making this up. Splat, face down on a concrete floor.

Good news (2) / bad news (1):
I love the new phone. I didn't lose the pictures I really liked because I usually copy them to my photo folder. But I didn't back up my phone contacts. Such is life.

Which brings me to the photo here.

I stopped by a local business to check out some display materials. I got the phone out - CAREFULLY - and snapped the pictures I needed. Then I found out this phone also has a mind of its own! No, it didn't suddenly leap from my hand. It took pictures all by itself! Don't ask me how. Just call it a mystery.

But I love this picture! This phone has an artistic eye. I think we're going to be happy together.

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016: Year in Review in ABC Order

In January 2015, I wrote a review of my 2014 by going through the alphabet. (Click here to see what I mean). I thought it would be fun to try again. As I review this before posting, I can see that 2016 was a pretty good year for me personally, all things considered. The upheavals of 2013-15 began to settle down. Several of the alphabet titles are the same as '15 and more than one mentions the dogs, but that's because I'm having a hard time thinking of events that match the alphabet. And let's be honest, the dogs are a big part of my life!

Well, let's give this a whirl & see what I come up with.

A - Afghan Hounds
I hate to start off on a sad note, but there is a happy ending. You know my love for this breed; I've often posted pictures and stories of my Blu2.  To my great heartbreak, he crossed The Rainbow Bridge in September. But we were not to be long without a dog in the house; by the end of the month Khaleesi joined our family and quickly settled in as the queen around here. Both those stories can be found in the archives (September 2016).

 Blu2
Khaleesi

B - Busy, Baltimore
It was a really busy year! Between the expansion of the ministry my husband directs and my joining the staff of another church, we both found ourselves having to intentionally carve out time for each other and for the hobbies we each enjoy.


Baltimore - I attended a conference there in May. I love conferences! I could be a professional conference-attender for those of you who are required to go but don't like going. I attend every possible workshop, Q&A session, and gather up all kinds of knowledge and materials. Hire me! Also had time to do a little sightseeing, too.

C - Church
On a day trip to Arkansas, I had time to stop at this old church we always pass on our way to other sites there. It certainly looks abandoned. The church in general is going through a shift. While some are thriving, others are shutting their doors. I know one in particular that has actually abandoned her people, not the other way around. I think, across the board, many have abandoned "the church" but not Christ.




D - Death
Again, sorry for the gloom. The news about the passing of so many famous people became a news story itself. 2016 started us reeling in January with the shocking news of David Bowie's death and on it went from there. We lost a distant relative in our own family (and the dog, who was very much family). We said goodbye to some precious friends who all seemed to leave us around the same time. Was there an express train to heaven this year?



E - Earthquakes
Oklahoma set a record for quake activity and finally, finally, decided it was related to fracking. To quote Russell Casse from the movie Independance Day: I been sayin' it... ain't I been sayin' it?


Randy Quaid as Russel Case

F- Fabric Store / Facebook

Another change!! My favorite fabric store went out of business. I actually worked there for awhile in the early 2000s. I was able to collect a nice fabric stash doing that. In fact, I was shopping at their closeout sale when I got the phone call that one of our friends had died. Come to think of it, I was in a fabric store when I found out our Newfoundland died a few years back. Geez. It's like a pattern (no pun intended).


As for Facebook - it's been a very fun tool for reconnecting with old friends, staying in touch with family & out of town friends. But in that volatile election year, wow, some days it sure frayed the nerves.

G - Game of Thrones
How could I not list GoT???  What a season #6 was! Jon Snow was resurrected! R+L really does=J!
Episodes 9 & 10 - wow, just wow. This year I have three GoT things to look forward to! In March we're going to the GoT Experience Concert; in late spring/early summer, Season 7 starts; and some time this year, George may actually release the long awaited "Winds of Winter." Or not. Because - that's George. And yes, don't I wish I had taken this picture myself!



H - Helicopter, Health, Home
We had our first ride in a helicopter in December. Loved it & wish it had been longer!
Health  - we all managed to stay pretty healthy last year.
Home - too busy to do any special projects around the house. We were just keeping our chins above water with the weekly chores. Nevertheless, our home remains our haven. It's our own sanctuary. I love being home. A few years ago, I was able to split my job between working from home & going in the office. It was ideal. Maybe I'll be able to retire in a few years. Well, one can daydream, right?

I - 
I'm using a dream dictionary for Inspiration to find relevant words for my alphabet list. "I" is a hard one. Insurance - yes, it's going up an insane amount but I've ranted about it already. Interview - I did have one early in the year for my new job, but it was basically a formality. I knew them, they knew me.  We went to Illinois to get the dog. We unknowingly got stuck on the toll road and received a gift from the state in the mail this week - an $80 fine, thank you very much. Indigestion - gotta watch what I eat nowdays. Insomnia - sometimes happens. Exercise, magnesium, and low amounts of caffeine help in avoiding it. So the letter I is not very interesting; let's move on...

J - Job
As mentioned, I started a new job in February. One of my favorite people, and a former boss, called to see if I'd be interested in coming back to work for him. While I loved, loved, loved where I was at, I couldn't pass up this opportunity. There was still a lot to learn as new jobs go but I've just about got the cycle of one year under my belt. That's where you go through, not just the daily routine, but every event that comes up annually. Each one has to be learned from scratch. Whew - glad that part's over!

K - Khaleesi
Khaleesi (Khali, for short) is my new afghan hound. She continues to entertain & delight! If you haven't met her yet, click here. True to the breed personality, she is quite a clown!


Kimchi: Just some trivia for you from the Dream Dictionary: To see or eat kimchi in your dream represents an emotional barrier. You are wanting to prevent yourself from getting hurt in a relationship.
Fortunately, I've never eaten kimchi in either a dream or my waking life. I have a Korean friend who enjoys it almost daily. Do you even know what it is?

L - Links 
At our holiday outreaches, church friends from years past (many of whom are going to different churches now) came to help. I am continually amazed to find out that people you'd never imagine are old friends, or even relatives. Tulsa is like a small town in that respect. The people & their histories here are unbelievably interwoven. That's why you never say anything negative about someone - they're probably connected to the person you're gossiping to.

M - Magazine
One of my dolls made the cover of an art magazine. Photos I took of a friend's doll made a prestigious art-doll magazine. I can truthfully say "I'm published!" haha.


N - New
2016 brought, besides a new job, a new - or should I say re-newed - sense of God's presence in my life. Lots of healing, fresh insights, new ways of thinking. That was good. And much needed.

O - October
It remains my favorite month. In October, we spent a week exploring parts of Colorado. It was restful, fun, and beautiful!




P -  Photography, Politics
I got to do the "papparazzi shots" at a friend's wedding. It was beautiful & gave me so many great shots.



Politics: 'Nuff said about that, right? What an insane, intense, surprising year in politics. I did attend a Marco Rubio Rally. Not because I was a supportor (by no means!) but because he was here and it was convenient.

Q - Queen
That's an easy one. We have a new queen in our house. I remain Empress, but Khaleesi is Queen. It took over a week before she ascended the throne vacated by Blu (his chair in my craft room) but since then she has gotten privileges that no other pet before her has enjoyed, such as laying on the couch with us or jumping up on the bed. Although she still has to sleep in her crate, I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't end up with a special spot in the bedroom when she gets older.


R - Road Trips
Yay! We got to take two road trips together last year. One to the Chicago area to get Khali and the other to Colorado for some R&R. Then I did two short ones by myself. One to see a friend in Arkansas & another to a women's retreat in OKC. Love road trips!


S - Spring, Smokey Mountains
Spring brings such promise, doesn't it? We're really in such an innocent frame of mind, thinking of growth, new life, new possibilities; completely oblivious to what the coming months may bring.


The terrible wildfires in the Gatlinburg area were so sad. Which is an understatement considering lives were lost. We so enjoy spending time there and to see it brutalized by fire was heartbreaking.


T - Television
We don't watch a lot of tv, nor do we have cable. Last year, we tried Netflix again (the first time was long, long ago). We had a good time binge-watching The Blacklist. I also enjoyed The Crown, and Grace & Frankie. We still watch Survivor and our summer lame-embarrassed-that-we-watch-it show, Big Brother.  I really wish Homeland was on Netflix.

U - UFO
I haven't seen any this year. But I'm always looking :)


V - Venus
My hubby got himself a pretty decent telescope year before last. He loves looking at the stars and has become very knowledgeable. I just love how Venus looks like a big diamond in the sky. One of my favorite summer pastimes is to sit on the patio swing and gaze at the night sky.

W - Walks, Windmills
When my Blu2 passed, I thought my early morning walks at Haikey Creek Park were over. When we got Khali, I looked forward to starting that up again. However, she was crazy-skittish and terrified at even putting collar & leash on. I gave her a few weeks to feel comfortable in our back yard, then walked her around the yard on leash. Then we graduated to the front yard. Her natural curiosity got the best of her; she decided maybe this isn't so bad! Then we stepped off the curb and ventured halfway down the street. Well, now we're talkin' baby! All I have to do is stand by the front door with the purple leash in hand and man, she is right there! So I'm back to late evening walks. Haikey will have to wait a year or so because I'm afraid she will go bonkers seeing all the squirrels and I'll end up face-planting.

Walking Blu at the park

Windmills -  I almost forgot - I was going to do a whole post on windfarms. We passed 100s of these things on our trips. I love seeing them.



X - X-ray
Oh dear. My sweetie has turned into Tim the Toolman Taylor. He's had to make a stop at Urgent Care twice in the past couple weeks. The good news is, both injuries were minor and healed quickly.


Y - Year
It's been said again & again...2016 was a crazy year. The whole country was able to agree at least on this one thing! For me personally, it was overall, a good year. There were sad moments, but also some really great things happened.

Z - Zen
I love words. Zen is one of my favorite ones. Although I haven't "reached zen" I am a little closer, in the Christian sense, than I was the previous years. Not a bad way to end my ABC Year in Review!


I wish anyone reading this a most blessed 2017!
This year take time to
rest
reflect
inspire
renew
bless
be present
enjoy
appreciate
refresh
learn
listen
sing
dance
pray
and most of all, love.

~all the best, Mystical Gypsy

(all photos were taken by me except for the characters Jon Snow & Russell Casse)


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Holiday MindStreaming

I haven't done a mind-streaming post in ages! Let's see what ramblings are flipping thru this brain of mine...

An update on my Christmas Sabbatical.
It was great! I highly recommend you try this at least once. Imagine the biggest holiday of the year being totally relaxing and oh so peaceful. This was the extent of my decorating (picture was taken after I tossed the pine branches).


We have done just I said we would: had a great dinner with days of delicious left-overs; saw "Passengers" (good movie); went out for coffee & book browsing; played dominoes; and actually got caught up with some needed projects around the house - in a nice-paced, pleasant way.


But, my hubby did have one surprise up his sleeve. He can never not do something at Christmas, but this was really special - a helicopter ride to look at the lights! We loved it! Forget the lights - the whole area is lit up at night anyway - it was the ride itself that was a blast. We could've stayed up there for hours.


I did some reading on shooting from a 'copter but when it came to it, I just wanted to absorb the experience. A couple quick shots on auto and that was it.


I could not believe it when I saw this at WalterMart before Christmas Eve! Shame!


That reminds me - I want to smack Oprah every time I see her Weight Watchers commercial. It's just the latest in a long line of her obsessions that she thinks everyone must share. Next year she'll be on some other kick.


One morning I had to be out & about early to shoot some event pictures. I've seen this smoke column before (I'm not sure what it's from) but never had the camera handy. It was one of those happy moments where you can take time to stop and see art in the air. A crisp, clear morning, camera in hand, no responsibilities after the shoot. Ahhhh.


I just noticed this - it looks like a hand making the "ok" sign. And there's a heart between the thumb & forefinger. It's a sign! It's all gonna be just fine.


We have some wonderful guys who help my hubs in the ministry warehouse. They try to be gruff but what I found the other day tells me different.

While browsing the bookstore today, I noticed the 1/2 price calendars. It used to be a big deal to choose one for my old office. And we always got hubby one for his office that featured either Newfoundland dogs or Harley D. motorcycles. Techy everything seems to have dimmed the popularity of the calendar kiosks. One that caught my eye featured hummingbirds and that's actually what started my mind-streaming today. All of sudden I was ticking through the list of simple things I love and could look forward to in the new year.


January: winter evenings, comfort food, fireplace on, evenings spent watching movies, crafting, reading (without feeling guilty that I should be outside!). Maybe a surprise snow day? And sweaters. I love to wear sweaters.

February: when red, pink & white fill the store aisles; Valentines to chase away the gray days. One or two months of those are plenty.

March: OO OO OO!!! Big month - we're going to see our son AND go to the Game of Thrones Experience Concert. Got my tickets!

April: spring starts a-poppin'. Fresh, soft and pretty. Usually accompanied by weather drama of some kind. It's exciting as long as nobody gets hurt.

May: gearing up for summer! And at some point Game of Thrones Season 7 will start - yahooey!

June-July-August: summer in Oklahoma. It's a love-love/hate thing. But it does bring hummingbirds!  Sitting on the deck swing is a favorite pastime - watching the birds, the stars, and my afghan hound romping. It brings convertible rides in the evening; chasing the moonrise or sunset for that elusive, perfect picture; and going out for ice cream.

September: on the other side of triple-digit temps and looking forward to fall. New tv shows or favorite ones starting back up. Kids are back in school & stores are much quieter.

October: oh my favorite month of all. Just the turning of the calendar to October makes me smile. Perfect weather, perfect color, best photography time. We usually take our vacation this month.

November-December: well, here's the rub. We're back to the Holiday Season. But I do love seeing the stores loaded with harvest & holiday foods. It looks so...bountiful! I do like seeing all the decorations. I love the extra days off work! Will I participate in the holiday madness next year? Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

I know 2016 was really hard on so many people. It was definitely a harsh year on many levels. 2013-15 were our difficult years. For me & my family, a lot of issues & loose ends from previous years were resolved satisfactorily in 2016.


Now it's time to look forward and I find myself looking forward to very simple joys. New books, new creating, time with loved ones. Fun with the Khaleesi. Taking more pictures. Dinner & conversation with friends. I guess I've reached that point in life and I'm thinking it's not a bad place to be.

May 2017 be a blessed year of reconciliation, renewal, replenishment, and restoration of whatever was lost or stolen from us the past few years! Happy New Year!