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Friday, June 30, 2017

In Tune With June - 2017 - Elementary My Dear Watson

Earlier this year I wrote about getting the Sherlock Holmes Tarot cards.

I will admit that I am by no means an expert in the Tarot, but I am intrigued by it and so I have done a "reading" or two using the deck and the results (or the way I have interpreted them) have been pretty interesting.  I even did one for my daughter that turned out to be a bit prophetic. 

For the last month I've pulled a card at the beginning of the week to use as a "guide" for the week, keeping in mind my vision cards and the things I want to accomplish over this year.  I've had some questions in my mind about getting more into the crafting world and adding more things to my Etsy site, as well as stepping up the weight loss.

The first week I pulled The Ace of Observation.

The book notes on this card say:  "You possess clarity and power and from this new ideas arise.  Truth and ethics keeps you focused...."  The "keys" keys of this card are Strength and Power.  Given that we had just returned from our trip to Reno where we did the Big City Hunt and that I had an idea to make mini-scrapbook albums based on those adventures, this seemed very fitting.  I even thought about trying to collaborate with the Big City Hunt people to offer my scrapbooking services to other people who went on the hunts.  Strength and power speak to the weight loss efforts and being more focused on what I'm eating since we came back from vacation.

The next week I pulled the Peeler card from the Suit of Deduction.  This card talks about seeing things through to the end, taking pride, being patient and determined, trustworthy and methodical.  Okay, that fits with where I am wanting to go.  So far I am being methodical and finishing up some other projects and making lists of things that still need to be done.  I'm a great list maker!  I have lost a few of the pounds I gained on our trip and I am being patient and not expecting results overnight. 

Last week I pulled the Hansom Cab.  It's legend says "Purpose and determination to move ahead in the case.  Mastery of skill or ability brings a successful outcome.  Self-confidence and self-discipline.  Navigate with a clear sense of direction.  Determination and courage.  Leap forward with your hands on the reins.  Success and fame are the rewards.  Victory.  Well, I'm not so sure about the fame part but success would be nice.  Self-confidence and self-discipline are things that I am pretty familiar with so again I'm thinking I'm on the right track.   I'm doing some research and taking some online classes to learn new techniques. 

This week I pulled the Five of Observation.  This was a strange card and talked about theft of identity, slander or loss, thwarted plans, abuse or assault.  A sense of defeat.  Cowardice.  At first I was a little apprehensive.  I checked all our bank accounts and told myself to be really careful when I was using a credit card.  I tried to make sense of this in relation to my goals.  Identity theft is all we need right now!

I've started to take daily walks around the neighborhood to help with getting in some exercise and I find it a great way to do some thinking.  On my walk it hit me...the card was talking about ME, not an outside force!  Words like fraud and phony started swirling around in my brain.  Cowardice!  A sense of defeat!  The card was telling me that I need to stop my "list making" and "learning new things" and actually DO some of the things on the list!  Stop talking about the plans and actually start with some action!  Stop being a coward and take the plunge!  Thinking back to last week's card about taking the reins in my hands and leaping forward made me realize that I've been procrastinating on some things.  What am I afraid of?    

So, action steps this week were to add a few blocks to the walk I have been doing.  I walk a bit faster during some of it so it only takes me a little while longer.  I started making some more cards to add to the Etsy site and I am working on a travel mini-album.  That immediately made me feel more in control of the situation.

I'm still going to keep my eye on our bank account and be careful when using credit cards, etc., but I really believe that the card was telling me to stop talking and take action.  How about you?  Ever use a tarot deck?  What do you think of my interpretations?  

Sunday, June 25, 2017

In Tune With June - 2017 - Vision Card Update

Every year for the last few years I've been making Vision Cards, as introduced by the wonderful Jamie Ridler.    Half the year is gone so it's time for me to check in and see how I'm doing.  Here are the ones I made for this year:

The first has to do with self-care.  I have done pretty well with my Hungry Girl eating program and have lost about 18 pounds since January (44 total since last year).  Not a huge amount but at the same time I don't feel like I am depriving myself or starving.  We eat out occasionally and I certainly don't kill myself exercising but for the most part, I am happy with the way things are going.  In the last month I have really stepped up my walking, taking a walk around the neighborhood almost every day.  I have set myself some weight loss goals and so for the next six months I am going to make a more focused effort in that regard. 

Next has to do with my creative life.  My goal is to be able to increase my income by either selling the cards and mini-albums I make and/or earn some money through affiliate programs.  I haven't really worked very hard in this area yet, although I am now an affiliate for both Blitsy (an online craft store) and Creative Live, an online education resource.  You can see both of those on the right side of this blog (if you are seeing it on Blogspot - I haven't added them to the WordPress site yet).  I have been taking some of the free courses offered on Creative Live about how to utilize my Etsy site better and be found in search engines.  In the second half of the year I hope to put all the research I've been doing into practice.  I do have one craft fair scheduled in November.   

Travel and Adventure is the next card.  I think we really covered that well with the Big City Hunt that we went on last month in Reno.  We have the voucher for one in San Francisco that I want us to do now that the weather is getting nicer.  I'd still like to hit Carmel and Monterey but I'm not sure that will happen this year.  

Finances is something that is a never ending battle it seems.  Just when I think we are getting ahead, something happens to stall us.  I'm not giving up though and will continue to work toward making our retirement less stressful.

Finally, we have our home.  The makeover it got last year did wonders and I wanted to continue the trend.  We used up our financial resources for the most part so the things we do now need to be at minimal cost.  We have made a great start in the last month in two areas.  The backyard, where I have started to detangle the jungle that has grown there and the garage where my husband has really made huge improvements on cleaning out and organizing.  It is a tricky area because I can only offer my opinion when asked as the things in the garage are mostly his.  I wouldn't want him to come and organize my craft room though, so I totally understand. 
Not too bad for half a year.  I really find making these cards more helpful than just making New Year's resolutions.  I know I am not going to get everything accomplished in every area, but having the cards and checking in with them periodically keeps me focused.  

How about you?  Make any vision cards?  New Year's Resolutions?  Have plans for the next half of the year?  Love to hear about it.    

Saturday, June 24, 2017

In Tune With June - 2017 - Backyard Blues

We have lived in our house for 21 years now as of Flag Day (June 14).  The house was built in 1955 by the original owner and he used redwood to build it so we have been told that it is very well constructed.  We are the second owners.  About a year after we moved in we were able to participate in the Airport Noise Abatement program and got all new double paned windows, sturdy doors throughout the house and insulation in the attic for free.  Living smack dab between the airport and the train, those improvements helped a lot.

Over the course of the last 21 years we admittedly did very little ourselves to the house, inside or out.  We did paint both bathrooms and all three bedrooms (the kids rooms we did a couple of times) but that was years ago.  We had a leak in the kitchen so we patched the roof over that area but other than putting new sheet rock over the bad spot on the ceiling we haven't done anything there.

In January of 2015 we had to replace the back fence.  You can read about that here.  Last May we took the plunge and gave the outside a face lift.  You can read about that here and here.   Then in November we tackled another major hot spot, the front bathroom and went from this:

To this:

The next big inside project will probably be the kitchen but that is going to be HUGE so we have to build up our savings again (or win the lottery) before we can tackle that.  

Less expensive and maybe even more irritating to me is our back yard.  We have never really utilized our back yard to its fullest potential, especially now that the kids are grown and don't "play" out there anymore.  (Heck, they don't even LIVE here anymore - LOL).

When we did the siding and roof we were able to clear off the back porch and turn it into a nicer place to sit: 

This is what the backyard looked like then.  You can still see the top of the back fence.

This is the corner of the porch now.  You can see the blackberry vine starting to come over the edge.

It looks like a wheat field and the top of the fence is disappearing.

There is massive overgrowth of I don't know what all.  It was getting so bad that I could hardly go down the back steps to the garage without getting attacked.  (What was that horror film called?  Children of the Corn???)

Finally I decided to take measures in my own hands and spent a day at least clearing the area by the steps so that I could walk out there without fear.  As with most things I do, I threw myself into the project with determination.  Four big garbage bags and a very full green refuge bin later...

This is all I was able to clear before I stopped.  I was out there for about four or five hours.  The area is maybe six feet around.  

I was not very smart because it was a hot day so I was wearing shorts and a tank top and got scratched pretty good from the thorns on the blackberry vines.  Also, I could barely move for two days because I was not used to all that pushing and pulling and bending.  Ibuprofen was my best friend.   

However, it's been a few days now and Bill just took all the garbage bags to the dumps so I think I'll have another go at it.  This time I'll wear better protective clothing and take a couple of breaks.  Our goal is to get it all uprooted and down to dirt.  Then we're going to do something so nothing will grow back again (? cement? rocks?).  I am definitely not a gardener but I do have visions of some chairs and maybe a fire pit.  It is a huge backyard and has lots of potential.  

We would hire a company to come and do it (and actually have had it done twice already although not to the bare bones) but after spending so much money last year, we are looking for more inexpensive ways to go for some of this stuff.  Ibuprofen is much less expensive than a gardener :)

I'll keep you updated as to the progress.  How about you? Any big home improvement projects planned?  Got a fire pit?   


Friday, June 23, 2017

April 2017 - #Atozchallenge - Verifiably V

Okay folks, here it is...the last letter in the A to Z Challenge that I skipped.

V is for Van Halen!  We had pretty good seats for this one, on the floor in the first row of the second section.  We were afraid that we weren't going to get a chance to see them because after the tour started they cancelled a bunch of their shows because they said they overbooked themselves.  Of course there was speculation of fighting between them and/or drugs as per usual.   Fortunately, our show was not one of the ones that was cancelled.  

Kool and the Gang were the opening act and they got the crowd off to a good start.

There was a big screen behind the stage and Van Halen used it extensively.  Having the images on the screen like that makes it easier for me to get some great shots.

Eddie may be getting older but he can still play a mean guitar.

I must admit that although there are a lot of songs I like, I was not a very big Van Halen fan in my younger days.  To be honest, I don't even know if I can tell the difference between the songs that David Lee Roth sings from the ones that Sammy Hagar sings.  Given that, I thought they put on a pretty good show.  My husband, being a bigger fan, was a little disappointed.  I know that we both were not thrilled with the little tidbits that David Lee Roth put out there about his old girlfriends and his dog.  Sing the songs, don't give me your personal history.  He did his twirling of the microphone and some leg kicking but I don't think he was nearly as acrobatic -- but he is getting older!

A huge cloud of red and black confetti spread over the crowd and I managed to get a few pieces to include here.  I included a shot of the area seating and marked where our seats were in this layout.  

There were also two reviews of the show in the local papers and I have included those with the scrapbook as well.

So, there it is.  I can finally say I really finished the A to Z Challenge.  Looking back on it now, I realized that I had originally intended to tell a bit more about my scrapbooking process and explain different techniques I used and the supplies, etc.  However, as I got farther and farther into it, I realized that I didn't leave myself enough time to do that and the pages that I had done a while ago I could not remember the different names of paper styles, etc.

I also realized that I TAKE A LOT OF PICTURES AT CONCERTS!  I have come to the conclusion that I don't need to keep every single picture I take and that I need to be more selective and edit them before I print them.  I was getting free prints from Shutterfly because my son worked for them and that was one of his perks.  Since he doesn't take pictures he let me have them.  I had a lot of pictures printed that way.  Now that he no longer works there, I have been trying to take advantage of their sales and giveaways and be more careful about the pictures I have printed.  I'll still take a lot of pictures at the concerts because you never know when something special is going to happen, but I don't have to keep them all!

Now it's time to start thinking about what I can do for next year's A to Z!  Hope you have enjoyed reliving my concerts with me.  Love to hear any comments!  

Even though the challenge is over now, you can still click over to the main A to Z Challenge page to see what other participants have come up with for this letter if you are so inclined.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

In Tune with June - 365 Pictures update

It has been quite a while since I added any of the pictures I've been taking.  Here are a few of my recent ones:

#169 - In honor of Father's Day I picked this one of my dad helping me blow out the candles on the occasion of my first birthday.  Somewhere I have one of him holding me but I couldn't find it now (of course - which leads me to add sorting photographs to my current to-do list!)  My dad passed away about 35 years ago so he didn't get to meet my husband or our kids, a fact that I'm a little sad about.  I know he can see from heaven, but I am pretty sure my kids would have gotten a kick out of him.  Wasn't I a cute kid?  There is a sparkly thing on my left hand which I am pretty sure is a ring given to me by my godparents.  Who in their right mind would let a little kid have a choke magnet like that?  

#158 - Speaking of fathers, my husband has this to say to any guys who want to date his daughters.  Any girl who wants to date our son has me to answer to :)  (No, my husband has not ever actually been in jail - just in case you were wondering).

#160 - We had our full moon.  I took a clearer picture of the moon itself but I kind of like the way the clouds are forming around it in this one.  Kind of looks like angel wings to me.  

#164 - Book #10 on my reading challenge.  This was a good one that I had heard a lot about but never read.  Actually made me cry a little.

#168 - Tuesday's With Morrie was a quick read so here is book #11.  This is based on a true story of a Holocaust surviving family.  It is one of the "mystery books" that Bill brought home from Oregon.

#161 - One foot in front of the other.  I've been walking around our neighborhood to get some exercise in and trying to take note of the world around me as I walk.  I happened to catch this shot by accident but kind of like it.  Reminds me that it takes putting one foot in front of the other to get to my goals.

#166 - This is one of the interesting looking flowers I saw at Safeway.  I'm not sure what it is (my father, the florist, would be disappointed in me I think for not knowing the names of all the flowers), but I really like the way it looks.  

So, there you have some of the pictures I've been taking this month.  I am "cheating" in that sometimes I take more than one picture a day that way when I get to a day I forget, I have one to add.  Sometimes I have to take two or three in one day to catch up.  I set the rules for this game I'm playing so as long as I end up with 365 pictures for this year, I'll consider it good.  What do you think of these?  Have you read Tuesday's With Morrie?  Taken any walks in your neighborhood?  Have rules for people who want to date your children?  Love to hear about it!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

April 2017 - #Atozchallenge - Suddenly S

If you pay attention to the dates on the blog then you'll know this is seriously past due for the A to Z challenge.  I made it one of my goals, though, to finish the letters so here is my letter "S."

Sade is one of those singers like Adele, who does not tour very often.  When she came out with her "Soldier of Love" CD we were hoping she would do a show near us.

John Legend was the opening act, which was a pleasant surprise.  His first song was a cover of Adele's "Rolling in the Deep!"  We had some real Legend fans around us who kept shouting, "Sing it, John!"  "That's right!"

Sade took FOREVER to come out.  We had heard rumors that she was slow to start her shows but we were beginning to get frustrated.  All that changed, however, when the first beats of "Soldier of Love" started and she rose from underneath the stage.

She sang songs from the new album and also lots of her hits from other albums.  She had a really good backup band.  When she came out for her last few songs after a costume change, she wasn't wearing shoes!  I thought that was pretty funny.

Unfortunately, because she was so late in starting the show, we had to leave before the encore or we would miss the last BART train home.  Still, it was a great show and she has not done a big tour since then so I'm glad we went.

Even though the challenge was over a month ago, you can still click over to the main A to Z Challenge page to see what other participants have come up with for this letter.

I have one more letter left, "V," and then I really will have finished the A to Z!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

In Tune With June - Another Mystery Blogger Award!

Interestingly, I was nominated for another Mystery Blogger Award!  Since I have already participated once (read that here) I decided not to go ahead and do the full list of requirements, but I will answer the questions posed by the person who nominated me, Miss Andi.

Miss Andi is one of the bloggers I ran into during the A to Z challenge.  She talked about living courageously, something we all need to do!

Miss Andi asked the following questions:

1.  Why do you blog?  Do you have any specific goals?  Have you reached any yet?

  • I blog because I think I secretly want to be a writer.  Or maybe I just like to talk and no one around me listens?  Originally I started blogging hoping to get some increased traffic to my Etsy site.  That is still one of my goals.  Also, I'd love to be able to supplement my income by making some money blogging.  That is something I am investigating now, since my transcription business is diminishing.
2.  Are you planning/dreaming about writing a book?
  • When I was younger I used to write stories all the time.  I even submitted one to a magazine once.  Unfortunately, they did not accept it but at least I tried.  I don't know about writing a whole book, but see question #1 about making money blogging!
3.  Who is your favorite writer/blogger?

My Agatha Christie Collection
  • My favorite writer has to be Agatha Christie.  I fell in love with her mystery stories at a young age.  As far as bloggers, I ran into quite a few good ones during the A to Z.  See my list in my reflection post.
4.  Do you think blogging will stick around in the era of podcasts, videos, Snapchat, etc?
  • In my opinion, yes.  There are people who are a bit technically challenged who may be able to master typing a blog post but not uploading a video or people who would prefer not to show themselves in front of a camera.  (Naming no names and admitting nothing!)
5.  What do you consider the bravest thing you've ever done?
  • That is a really tough question.  I moved out on my own at age 21.  I had three children without anesthesia of any kind.  I started my own transcription/secretarial service 16 years ago.  I have participated in a couple of craft fairs to try to sell the cards and things I make.  All of those things took a lot of courage (at least to me).  
+1.  If you could be an animal for a day, what would you choose and why?
  • Definitely a cat.  I watch our cat lay around in the sun all day and do nothing and it just looks so inviting.  Not a care in the world!  

So, there are the answers to the questions posed by Miss Andi, another deserving Mystery Blogger Award winner :)

How about you?  What animal would you like to be for a day?  Done anything that took a lot of courage?  Love to hear from you!  

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

In Tune With June - Believe It or Not

Each year for the past few years I have chosen a word of the year.  In 2014 it was "Courage" and in 2015 it was "Change."  In 2016 it was "Focus" and this year it is "Believe."  Throughout the year I try to incorporate that word into my life in lots of different ways.  Some are obvious, some not so much.  I wear it in a locket around my neck and I have little notes in different spots on my planners and things.

Sometimes the word shows itself to me in very unexpected ways.  The background:  We were offered 4 free nights in Reno, which is our usual getaway at this time of year to celebrate our anniversary (33 years) and so I booked them for the end of May.  My husband has been retired since June of last year and we are living on his retirement and pension plus my transcription work (I am self-employed doing medical transcription for the last 16 years).  Things were going reasonably well and since it was Memorial weekend I figured I could take a few days off. 

Then little things began to pop up that made me have some second thoughts.  Bill was injured at work a few years ago and we are expecting a settlement from his Workers' Comp which I was hoping would come before the trip.  It did not.  During the weeks before we were set to go I lost one of my transcription clients (he retired without warning) and the volume from another major client has significantly decreased so my income basically has been cut in half overnight.  I really agonized about whether to cancel the trip and stay home and was trying to think about ways that I could start to supplement my income - maybe even go out in the "real world" and get a job.  I decided we should go ahead and go on the vacation and we could start exploring new ideas when we got back.  After all, the hotel rooms were free and we were going to be doing some inexpensive, fun things while we were there.  If our financial situation is changing, we probably won't be able to do a trip like this again for a while.    

While in Reno we went on a Big City Hunt which I wrote about in a previous post.  One of the places we were led to was a sculpture in the middle of the city.  We approached it from the side and all I could see at first was a tall metal piece with birds cut out in it.  Bill was a bit ahead of me and he said, "Honey, look at what it is."  As I turned the corner to see the whole sculpture I just lost it and started crying.  This is what I saw:

Even with the person sleeping on the bottom leg of the middle "E" it was still very impressive.  I felt like a shock went through me.  I held onto Bill and the tears just came.  I had not told him of my concerns because I didn't want to worry him and then when I started crying, I explained my fears.  He held me and being the sensitive guy he is, he totally got what I was feeling.  There was another couple there and we took their picture in front of the sign and they took ours.  Don't know why we didn't move to one of the other letters so the guys feet wouldn't be in the picture.  Guess I was still a bit emotional.

Then Bill took one of me:

Talk about a sign, huh?  We had a really good time while we were away and now that we are home, I believe that we will find a way to make things work.  I have to.

How about you?  Ever get a sign like that?  Do you pick a word for the year?  Have any transcription work you need done?  Want me to make a special scrapbook album for you?  I have some time :)