Thursday, June 30, 2016

Rinda's Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2016

My blog friend, Rinda, is hosting her annual summertime photography scavenger hunt for the sixth year in a row. Of course, I'm participating again! There are a total of 21 items on the list of things to find, and today I'm sharing eight of those items that I've found and photographed so far.

I'm sharing my finds on Instagram, so these shots will be repeats for my readers who follow me there. Only difference is that here, on my blog, I'll include some stories where I can.

Item 1 - A "wild heart" - a naturally occurring heart

Long-time readers of PaperTurtle will know that I have a really nice heart-shaped rock collection, thanks to my sweet hubby, Doug. I figured that if, by the end of the summer, I hadn't come across a heart in nature I could always use one of my heart rocks as a fall back. Alas, I won't need to do that because I found this sweet little perfectly heart-shaped leaf early in the season.
 
Item 8 - A drawing, art project, artistic photograph,
scrapbook page,
greeting card, or art journal page
created by you.
 
Mandala art by me. Surprise (not).

11 - Fresh produce

There's an international market close to my workplace, and also in the same shopping center where Carrie and I meet from time to time for Thai food on my lunch hour. This photo was taken after one of those lunches. Baby bananas. So cute.

13 - The moon

Man, it's tough to photograph the moon. I thought I might find a clever alternative and use a little play-on-prompt with this one, but the prompt does read, "THE moon." Not just any moon. I was actually fairly pleased with the shot I got, taken the night before the second full moon in June which was actually called the "strawberry moon." Perfect.

16 - A map showing a trip taken during the time period

It just so happens that we have an old Arizona roadmap in the glove compartment of my car, so when Doug and I took a little road trip to Tucson earlier this month I captured this photo.

17 - Twins

So, we were sitting at our table during a party to celebrate my nephew and his fiancĂ© when I noticed my niece Savannah sitting at another table with her friends. Carrie mentioned that the boys she was sitting with were twins! I watched for a few minutes as the kids laughed and were thoroughly enjoying each others company before I risked embarrassing my niece by approaching them for a photo. I explained why I wanted the photo and my niece announced, "Well, they're fraternal..." and I said, "I don't care! They're twins and they might be the only ones I see all summer!" The boys scooted close to each other and their happy, fun and goofy demeanors promptly vanished as I took a few photos. Haha. This photo just cracks me up though, and I put a check mark by item number 17.

19 - A seasonal cocktail or beverage

I'm not sure a margarita is a "seasonal" cocktail because I live in Arizona where margaritas flow year-round, but this one was taken at Carrie's birthday celebration during the month of June so I'm calling it item 19.

21 - A photograph of you with a newspaper or
calendar page from the time period covered in the hunt.

Item 21 of Rinda's photo hunt always involves a self-portrait and it's usually the last item I ever check off the list. This year I randomly checked it off first, before taking any of the other photos above. I love that it's for the month of June (Carrie's birth month) and also includes sunflowers (my fav) and I don't have to worry about item 21 for the whole rest of the summer. Bam!

Rinda's hosting a link-up party on her blog today. Click here to visit her blog and have fun clicking around and visiting some of the other bloggers who are participants in this photo hunt. There are blog friends from all over the planet participating, and it's always so fun to see the different takes on each of the prompts.

Big thanks to Rinda for hosting this fun event for the sixth summer in a row!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A hand to hold on to



I showed up on the final day of hospice volunteer training and took the same seat I'd occupied on all the other days I'd attended - front row, inside aisle. Our facilitator mentioned the small pad of blue paper that had been left for each of us, and asked that we set it aside for an exercise later in the day.

I picked up the little blue pad of paper and flipped through it with my fingertips. An exercise that included little slips of paper? I just might love this, I thought.

Toward the end of the day, we were instructed to tear the blue pad of paper apart and spread the pieces out in front of us so we could see each one. There were 20 of them, and I methodically laid them out - five across and four rows down.

We were given instructions on what to write on the pieces of paper. First we were to write five values that were important to us. Then, five hobbies we enjoy. Then, five possessions we held dear. And finally, five people (living) who are special to us.

"Uh-oh," I realized. "Just because it's paper doesn't mean it will be fun..."

Once everything was written down, our facilitator began to read a story. The point of the exercise was to allow us to appreciate what hospice patients go through, and he began to read...

It began with something like, "You're drying off from your shower and find a lump you've never noticed before........ You make a doctor's appointment......... The lump is larger by the time you see the doctor..........."

And then he said, "Take one of the slips of paper in front of you and crumple it up."

Gulp. I didn't like where this was going.

The story line continued with tests run, diagnosis given, treatment administered and hospitalizations. With each stage came instructions to "take three slips of paper and crumple them up" or "take two slips of paper..." until we were down to our final five pieces. The five slips of paper remaining in front of me were my people: Doug, Carrie, and my three siblings.

Everything had been stripped away - my hobbies, possessions, and even the values I held dear no longer mattered. I sat there, staring down at the last five slips of paper with the names of my people, my own handwriting barely legible through my tears. As he read through the final paragraph I prepared myself, but nothing could have prepared me for him to walk by, reach out and grab one of my slips of paper without my permission. My sister Valerie. Her name was gone in a flash. Not everything is within our control.

I'd been so proud of myself for having maintained a strong demeanor through the course of the hospice volunteer training. In that moment I felt so vulnerable, so raw and so stunned. We had to remove two more pieces of paper, and in the end I was left with my loves, Doug and Carrie.

There wasn't a dry eye in the room, and for what seemed like forever there was just silence. We each had a deeper understanding, and I gained a sense of renewed commitment for being a hospice volunteer. When everything is stripped away and we're at the end of this journey, having a hand to hold onto will be all that matters. And if a loved one can't be there to hold a hand during someone's final hours, I will be honored for them to hold mine.

Yes. That's what I'm going to do.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Around here this weekend

Happy new week, blog friends!
Do you ever have one of those days when you have a whole lot to say but really just want to keep your mouth shut? No? It's very rare for me, but I kind of feel that way this morning.

A month or so ago I noticed a sprout shooting up in the middle of my flower garden. It didn't look like a typical weed, so Doug and I agreed that we'd let it grow and see what it turned into. A couple of days ago we woke up to a beautiful white flower. I was so excited and headed outside to take a whole bunch of photos. {Of course.} I posted it on Instagram to see if anyone could identify it, and several thought it might be Morning Glory. Turns out that it's Datura, also known as Jimsonweed, also known as Devil's Trumpet, also known as poisonous. WHAT?! Thanks to my friend, Sam, for the info. Pretty on the outside, wicked on the inside...shame.

Friday night we tried a new-to-us Mexican restaurant for Friday night date night, and Carrie & Andrew joined us to celebrate his recent work promotion. It was fun to sit with them and share a meal, and this is the only photo I took that night:

Really yummy chips and salsa spread. And the house margarita was really small and warranted a second.

Saturday I attended the final day of my hospice volunteer training...

The photo above was taken at the end of an activity we did and I just couldn't even...I still can't... It was a day full of emotional subject matter and conversation. By the end of the day I was simply spent and as I was driving home I took a detour and ended up at Whole Foods for a salad, glass of wine, and a little retail therapy.

I strolled around Whole Foods in a bit of a daze. I ended up with a potted sunflower and a couple scoops of decadent chocolate before heading home to Doug.

Sunflowers and chocolate always help. ♥
 
Doug worked both days this weekend, working for a client who just purchased a house and wants it painted before their furniture is moved in later this week. Left to my own devices yesterday, I moved a whole bunch of things around on our walls - pictures and what-nots and small shelves that landed in places when we moved in and that I have been wanting to rearrange for a while. So yesterday was about pounding nails and folding laundry and making cookie dough to replenish our freezer supply.
 
And just like that, it's Monday morning. I love my new work schedule and not working on Friday's, but that in itself presents a few challenges that I'm sorting out in my mind this morning. Time to click the "publish" button and get this show on the road.
 
But first, yoga...

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Backyard Before and After Pics

I was poking around in my photo files and came across some photos of what our backyard looked like when we first bought our house 10 months ago. I thought I'd put together a quick post and show you the difference already. Thanks to Doug, here's what we enjoy now:


And here's what it looked like when we first got our keys! Can you even believe it?






A previous owner had installed screens around the patio - maybe a nice idea in the beginning, but by the time we took possession the screens were no more and it felt like we were standing in a cage every time we went out our backdoor. So Doug removed the screen frames early on, and we lived with it like this for a while:



Doug removed two overgrown oleander bushes, the rotting railroad ties around the perimeter and those brick pavers off the left side of the patio. He installed all of the sprinklers and drip system, and we had more cement poured to extend the patio slab as well as a sidewalk in front of the turtle habitat.



We added a corner flowerbed at the end of the patio, and our turtle pen got its own little wall. You can see the short turtle wall on the left in the photo above. We also had an extra row of block added to the top of our fence, and Doug painted the entire exterior of our house (+fence) which was a huge improvement as well. We've had three new trees planted, and plan to add raised garden beds on that far section of rock eventually.

One of the things we hated to leave behind at our last house was the pretty backyard. I can't believe how far this new one has come in such a short amount of time. I so appreciate all the hard work Doug has put into this space, and I'm so excited to see it continue to fill in and be a space that we enjoy so much.

Pretty cool, huh?

Monday, June 20, 2016

This weekend, our turtles, and the heat

Oh my goodness, it is HOT in Arizona!
Welcome to summer in the desert. Our air conditioner ran constantly all weekend, and yesterday's high in the "Valley of the Sun" was 118°F (47°C). I will try super hard to not dwell on our crazy heat over the course of this summer here on my blog, but this weekend was brutal in terms of weather. The silver lining is that the sun is shining and our skies are a really pretty blue.

For the past several months I have been asking Doug to install drip lines in our turtle pen. Now that summer is upon us, we really needed to make that happen. I had such a cute plan in my head, and Doug moved forward without me and...well...bless his little heart...what he did wasn't really the same as what I had in my head. {I know, I know. Poor Doug.} This weekend seemed like a really good time for me to learn how to hook up drip lines and bury them right where I wanted them, according to the plan in my head. So the photo above is Casper, walking under a drip line before I did my digging.

But first, there was this:

Friday and Saturday I attended hospice volunteer training at Hospice of the Valley. I was in a class of about 25 new volunteers and we learned about boundaries and ethics and that we are not allowed, under any circumstances, never ever ever to administer medication. So, I'm pretty sure I won't be dealing with medication.

This building is just east of Mercy Gilbert Hospital, and this corn field is just east of the parking lot:


I stepped outside during one of our breaks to warm up. Ha! The air conditioning in that building was so cold that I wore a sweater both days, and had to go outside to thaw out. Anyway, I thought it was cool to see a lush field of corn still amidst growing urban construction.

Carrie and her crew came over Saturday night and brought dinner for Doug's Father's Day celebration. She made a yummy batch of spaghetti and meatballs, and spent some time playing pool with Doug. Oh, and she also brought a pan of brownies that we topped with vanilla ice cream and sprinkles. I love the relationship that she has with Doug, and he loved being celebrated as her father figure.

So, back to the turtle pen. Over the past week Whiskers has decided to be a meowing alarm clock at 4:30 a.m. which is extremely annoying, but to my benefit yesterday. I really needed to be outside at sunrise in order to get my time in before it got ridiculously hot outside.

I'll admit to being fairly grumpy at the beginning. Why didn't Doug just wait for me before installing those drip lines? Whyyyyy... And why did he choose yesterday morning to meet his brother at the archery range to shoot their bows? Whyyyyy... Well. As it turned out, it was good for me to learn how to put those little connectors on the drip lines. And since the turtle pen is my realm, it was good for me to dig and bury the lines and know exactly where they are for my ongoing future reference. And since my Taurus spirit craves all things earthly, it was really good for me to dig in the dirt and put things right where I'd pictured them in my head.

Plus, it was fun that my little Casper turtle was really curious about what was going on in her habitat. I had to be very mindful where I stepped because she was out and about checking out what was going on as I dug and buried and moved things around. Rexy stayed hidden while I played, and I've already see him out this morning, cruising around the perimeter assessing the changes.


I planted more dichondra grass seed (see the green in the photo above?), and I also threw in a couple of sunflower seeds to see if they'll sprout. Time will tell. The little red marbles will eventually disappear under the thick grass that's to come, but I love the way they look for now.

Doug arrived home at 8:30 with breakfast sandwiches from Starbucks, just as I was finishing up with my work in the dirt. I was in much better spirits when he came home than I was before he left. :o)

I spent the remainder of the super hot day inside, taking care of laundry and drawing mandalas. I was on a mandala roll this weekend! I created four pieces that I was able to photograph to use for promoting my upcoming mandala workshop in August. Whiskers, the meowing alarm clock, was close at hand.



This week holds more extreme heat outside, with me remaining calm, cool, and collected on the inside. Eh-hm. Gosh, the heat can cause some interesting irritability and random unreasonableness. Sounds like a job for my yoga mat...

Peace out, blog friends.
Be cool.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Cookies with a touch of green

I tried a new recipe last weekend ~ chewy coconut lime sugar cookies. Oh my goodness, they were delicious!

I had made the cookie dough and left it to chill while Carrie and I went shopping, and when we returned to my house she stayed long enough for the first batch to come out of the oven.

She said what I'd been thinking - that maybe the tops of the cookies needed a little bit of green sprinkles to emphasize the lime part. But rather than do that, I came up with my own bit of green with a mandala drawn on the tag of the bag I gifted to a friend.




Here's a link to the original cookie recipe. It's delicious made just the way it's written, though I think next time I'll omit the coconut extract and add a little more lime juice instead. These cookies were even better on day two - the coconut keeps them moist and chewy.

I baked some of the dough and saved two dozen cookie dough balls for the freezer. They'll make a yummy surprise treat for Doug in the near future.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Our weekend and a quick road trip

Happy new week, blog friends.
Ahhh... A little cold front moved in for us this past weekend and our temps were only around 101°F (38°C); a relief from the previous weekend when we were hit with 118° (47°C). Really, 101° is tolerable for us, 118° is just plain awful!

Anyway, enough about the weather...

{the desert in Tucson, Arizona}


Friday evening we met some good, long-time friends for dinner at a nice restaurant in Scottsdale. It was a great way to kick off the weekend, and we came home with a doggy-bag full of rib bones that Lucky snacked on all weekend. I even sent a few home with Carrie for her doggies and I smile thinking of her wondering if they'd know what to do with them. Must remember to ask her how they liked them...
 
You know, I gave up teaching yoga on Saturday mornings, and this was the first Saturday that I was really able to enjoy the luxury of getting out of bed and having no commitments for the day. Very nice! I spent a good amount of time on my own yoga mat, took care of a few things around the house, and did our grocery shopping before it was too dang hot outside.
 
I came home from grocery shopping and mixed up a batch of cookie dough - a new recipe I'd been wanting to try and I will share more about that later this week. Once my cookie dough was mixed and chilling in the fridge, I went mall shopping with my girl, C.

Fun thing that happened this weekend: My aunt, Kathy, visits my grandma every couple of weeks and stays with her for a few days. While she's at Grandma's house she cooks and cleans and takes care of things that Grandma can no longer do herself. (Grandma will be 96 this summer and still lives alone. ♥ ) The past couple of times Aunt Kathy has been at Grandma's house she has texted me and we share photos and messages back and forth for Grandma. So on Saturday, Aunt Kathy texted me a photo of a new chair that Grandma bought and had wanted me to see, along with photos of her pots of plants and flowers on her little patio. I texted back photos of our backyard and a couple of selfies, including the one above of Carrie and me at the mall.

While Carrie and I were out shopping for clothes, Doug was home working on our master bathroom remodel.

Over the years of working together on construction sites, Doug and his brother, Don, have been drawing goofy pictures of each other and then covering them up behind walls and layers of paint. The one shown above was drawn, photographed and texted to Don before being covered with a fresh sheet of drywall. Don's text reply was, "DOUG!!!!" Lol. Those two.

Doug is making slow and steady progress on the bathroom remodel. It's going to look amazing when he's done! :o)

And yesterday we took a little road trip...

I met Mindy and her husband, Carey, while I was in Tulum, Mexico on my yoga retreat. They live in Atlanta, Georgia and were staying at the same resort for a few days. We ran into each other several times over the course of their stay and we became fast friends. This past weekend they were in Tucson for a wedding, so Doug and I drove south to meet them for lunch. It was so nice to be able to sit and share a meal with them! We bid farewell, trusting that our paths will cross again someday.

I had wanted to make a little side trip to see the Saguaro National Park, so on our way home Doug accommodated my request. The park was 16 miles off the freeway and we made it 13 miles before pulling the car over, taking a few photos, making a U-turn and heading back to the freeway. Cactus are cactus and we see our share all the time anyway.



Heading back toward the freeway...



It was a fun way to spend a Sunday, and we were home by 4:00 p.m.

Here's something cool about this week: Doug and I made the decision for me to cut my hours at my corporate job, and [after some negotiating] my boss agreed. Starting this week, I'll be working Monday - Thursday with Friday's off in order to pursue other interests. Specifically, I'm going to begin volunteering in hospice work on Fridays. ♥ For the next two weekends I'll be in volunteer training, then once my required training sessions are complete, I will begin volunteering in various capacities with Hospice of the Valley. I'll share more about this as it unfolds for me.

Time to feed the turtles and get ready for work.

Have a lovely week, sweet friends.
Count your blessings.
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