Friday, April 18, 2014

Lesson 297: Ten Thousand Reasons

It's a good, Good Friday, Readers!

The sun is shining on the Lamp Post,
which is #1 of ten thousand reasons I am thankful today.

The sun wasn't shining so brightly earlier this week, though.

We felt the pressure of Tax Day in more ways than one.

But, because we Erieites are tough as nails, 
we carried on with business as usual.

Oh, how I love peculiar people!
("It takes one to know one"----I heard you through the screen).

It figures that would be the day I'd invite some new friends to try an outdoor workout.

They called me names and waved their fists at me,
but they were smiling by the end of the hour.
Reason #3,363 to be thankful.

Some silliness,

and the Bokeh Colorburst Texture was the remedy.

And within a few days, it was warm again.
Signs of spring were everywhere.

Track meets.

Baseball practice.

A growing fleet, gassed and ready to go.

Kenyan running half nude.

Bicycles with two wheels instead of four!

Yes, Sam did it.
He looks like a Zem Zem shiner on a mini motorcycle,
but my boy's got BALANCE!

We'll work on transitioning to that bigger bike in a few weeks.
For now, I'm content to look at this simile of accomplishment.

Reason # 3,271 my heart is glad.

The moon sure was pretty this week!
Reason #4561 to be happy.

I found some daffodils had popped up, despite the snow.
Reason #6,247 is a cheery yellow.

I got to run with some friends this morning--
Reason #7,387 I jump for joy.

But with the good, sometimes comes the bad.
A friend is moving away, and Eloise is sad to see him go.
Still, the sadness I feel is a good reminder of Reason # 8,341 
--making connections with people is important.

This guy helped motivate me to stay fit and help correct my chicken-like running form.

While we're on the topic of running, 
Eloise and sister are having a little Fun Run on Saturday, April 19th.

If you live in the area, and would like to stop by, please do!

You can venture over to Six Mile Cellars for some wine tasting at the finish.
We've also got some refreshments for you at the end

Grandma helped out with that.

Most grandmas knit their grand kids scarves and $h!t.
 This grandma buys booze.

I broke from my Friday night, green bottle tradition,
and tried some Blue.



Way prettier empty.
And not a bad cap, either.
I collect those, too!

The run benefits autism. 
Kenyan and I will be taking donations to the Erie Walk for Autism on Presque Isle
on Saturday, April 26th.
 Save the date.

 My school will be represented with a team.

Show your support for families 
raising some of the most peculiar children you'll ever meet.

Speaking of peculiar, that reminds me of some books I'm digging.

Ransom Riggs wrote them.

Eloise thinks Ransom is quite handsome!

These books are different--and I have a draw to All Things Unusual.

How Ransom turned his casual hobby into something spectacular
is Reason #9451 why I love creative people!

Ransom took a photo like this one,

and developed a story around it.

This was my favorite photo:

Here is Ransom's background on it:

 I agree with you Ransom:  
This is the ultimate creepy department store Santa.
He looks like he clawed his way up from Hell.

And while we are on the topic of Hell on Easter weekend---

Sam announced to my friend that he had just been to see the movie
Hell is for Real.

I think Sam meant to say this one:

We took the kids yesterday to see it.
In Siskel and Ebert fashion, Eloise gives two thumbs up!

The movie, based on a true story, is about a four year old boy's account of heaven.
You can see the real family interviewed on the Today Show, here:

An offshoot interest of mine, stemming from this book and movie
is the artwork of Akiane Kramarik.
She is a child prodigy who paints.
She painted this picture of Jesus at age 8.

Eloise hates to assign homework on a holiday weekend, 
so I'll make this one an extra credit assignment.

If you'd like to know more about Akiane and how she relates to Colton Burpo's story, 
click the links below.

The best song I could choose for Easter weekend is 10,000 Reasons, by Matt Redman.  My friend Tracy Southern sent it to me for my birthday, and it has been playing at the Lamp Post ever since.  My heart can find 10,000 reasons to love the Lord, but I highlighted just a few of them, in the best way I know how--captured them in a photograph.

Enjoy the photo journey through the eye of my lens.

Happy Easter,

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lesson 296: Eye Openers

Happy weekend, Readers!
The sun is out, Erieites!
Don't blink, or you might miss it.

After the long, cold winter, all most people do is wish for summer.
We want baseball games,
and ice cream cones,
and crickets,
and fireflies,
and beach glass,
and the sun 

I'm guilty of that myself.
Eloise is reminding you to keep your eyes open,
otherwise you'll miss all the surprises spring brings.

Cool picture, above, huh?

I swiped it. 
It's not mine.
It's Melissa's.  
She told me she Eloised it---
a term I dubbed myself.
It refers to the process of tweaking a photograph to make it better.

Here is an example of one of my raw vineyard shots.

Here it is Eloised.

It just needed a touch of a fade and a few words to make it better.

The ice was melting this week.
Now that's a real eye opener!
My husband is trout fishing this weekend and can't remember a time 
when he headed to the creeks while ice still covered the lake.

I spied with my little eye some birdies atop a tree this week.
These are European Starlings as identified by Kristen, 
my Enviro-Nerd friend.

I caught this fox on the Clark School playground.

The kids and I watched him eat a rodent.
He flipped it up in the air like a piece of popcorn
and swallowed it in one gulp.

The fruitless vineyards looked pretty in the morning light.

So did the cemetery.  
I love old graves.  
The older and more tilted, the better.

I spent the week reading this book on and off.
This one can only be handled in small doses.  
It's got some powerful information relayed by a peacefully powerful man.
Jimmy Carter writes about the worldwide abuses of women in girls.
We can't turn a blind eye to such atrocities, some even in our own country.
Let me know if you'd like to borrow my copy.  
It is a real eye opener, and I realized I've been living in a bubble for far too long.

Speaking of books, I'm steadily receiving notes from people who read and enjoyed
my children's novel, The Key.

To the people sending me keys and cards and special little notes of encouragement:


I can never have enough keys.  
They are one of my favorite things.

If you let me know you've read the book--
either by word of mouth,
or smoke signal
(Grandma--I don't mean with cigarettes),
I have a key waiting for you.
I select one from my collection based on the unique qualities of the recipient.

Above is my key collection.  It is very old and three quarters of them came from my dad, and I've been adding to the collection for years.  I find most of them.  In fact, now that I type this, if you did lose a set somewhere, you better call the Lamp Post.  I probably have yours.  Keys are one thing I never advertise in the newspaper if I find them.

All the keys are different.
Some are spray painted black.  
Others are gold.  
Most are rusted.
Those are my favorites.
The older and more beat up, the better.

The gold ones are old Harbor Creek High School National Honor Society keys that came in damaged. They were going to pitch a box of perfectly good keys, thinking they weren't honorable enough for the honorees--- and I rescued them.  

If you were a hellion in high school ........(Heather, CJ......) and missed your opportunity at getting one, prove your old teachers wrong and read my book.  It's only a fourth grade reading level so I am sure you can handle it.  I'll send you one of the National Honor Society keys and you can wear it to our 25th year class reunion this summer.  Compliments Eloise.  I'm all for the late bloomer.

Of the responses I've received so far, my favorite is this one that I received on Thursday:

I couldn't show the letter in it's entirety because it would give away the book's ending if you haven't had the chance to finish it.  This letter is from Eileen, who happens to be Farmer Richter's wife.  This should answer my most frequently asked question--are the characters real?

Most of the characters are based on real people.  I'll give you nuggets of information regarding The Key for the next few blog posts.  I won't reveal everything though.  What fun is there in that?  It's good to have things to wonder about.  

The easiest to answer question is about Fangs/Bandit.  Is he real?  

Here he is, alive and well.
He was barking at me as I stopped to take his picture.

"Pipe down, Bandit!"  I yelled at him.
I just made you Harborcreek's most famous dog.

It's a funny thing when you are a creative writer--how your mind works.  I see the story so clearly in my head, that when I look out my window, I can see the places that I've envisioned, but most aren't really there.

For example, this is the back yard of the Lamp Post.  Ellen really does have a tree house, which is a big part of the story.  I pictured Emily's and Rocky's houses where I indicated on the picture below, but really nothing stands there but trees.  But to me, even as I turn my head to look out of the Lamp Post window, I see Rocky's dog house as if it was really there--with it's faded red paint and mud worn path around it.

I do have a bedside table stacked with books.
I also have a box on it, but it is not hand carved and wooden as the novel suggests.

It's a LOST box, based on my favorite TV series ever in life--LOST.
I put in it things I find on my travels or things that have special meaning.
Here is a peek inside.

Take a close look.
What do you see?

If you noticed turtles, good for you.  For some strange reason, turtles kept finding their way into my life.  It happened so often, coming across turtle items, that I began to think it was some sort of message I was to be receiving.  I found both of the ones you can spot in the box, and several more I have sitting around in other places in the Lamp Post.  I looked them up and started to like turtles.  In fact,  began to identify with them.

They live long lives, which is a personal goal of mine.
They are slow, but steady.  If you've ever run with me, you know that's my style.
When storms roll through or enemies attack, 
they just tuck in their heads and hole up in their shells for awhile until the danger passes. 
That is kind of like me, too.
This, too, shall pass. 


My friend Heather, former high school hellion, passed this article along to me this week,
just as I was preparing to write this blog post.  
Check it out, especially if you see yourself as a bit of an introvert.
This is me, and I am proud of my inner tortoise.
I spotted a connection.
Can you?

These people sure as heck weren't moving like tortoises this week.
My workout group enjoyed a snow less track,

despite working out in tornadic winds
(fly away hair had a whole new meaning that night).

We all get together two or three times a week to improve our health.

Or not.

We did a bleacher workout on Thursday.  
There were so many of us, we had to split up to different sides of the field.

My peeps on the North Side were hard core. 
We pushed it to the maxx (double x intended).

Those on the South Side....
everyone has a down day.

Or week.

I will pray for you, South Siders.

Speaking of prayers needed,
shoot some my way.

Sam and his dad are headed to see a Live WWE event coming to my city.

The wrestlers are coming to town on Father's Day!

I even sprung for the more expensive seats because and event of this magnitude 
only comes around once in a blue moon.

Another once-in-blue-moon-kind-of-thing came about last week, too.
That big gold thing isn't a replica of a moon.  
It's a bowling ball.
My hubby went to Reno, Nevada to see the National Bowling Stadium
and bowl in a nationwide tournament.

It was quite a swanky place by bowler's standards.

The backdrop sure was pretty, too.

 With facetime on the iPhone,
 I was able to take a walk through the city with him for a couple of mornings.

I was glad hubby got his first get-away in 20 years.

But for Mother Eloise,
there was 

I'm a Tough Mudder, but I take more pride in being a Tough Mother.
I ran the Lamp Post solo for a few days, and boy, was it hard.
My fatigue shows here in this selfie.

I have to hand it to you parents who have a spouse that travels all of the time.
That would not be a good life for me.

Mostly because I had to put together my first K-Nex project with my son.
Mechanics aren't my strong suit.
But with patience,
and about 90 minutes,
I was able to build this digger thingy with Sam.
To the Ages 5 to 8 Beginner Kit:
---eat my dust!

Sam was so happy to see his daddy return home.
We all had to fight for space on his lap.

But in the end, we let the littlest one have it, 
and finally Sam's eyes closed all the way for the first time in four days.  
He took the business of being the Man of the House a little too seriously,
and was up several times a night "checking on things."

Eloise has the twinkle back in her eye.

My eyes are wide open, 
looking through my lens for new ways to capture life.
If you are in my line of sight this week,

I chose the song Pompeii by Bastille for the pictures this week.  You can find some of my best closed eyes pictures (all planned).  Thanks for being such good sports.

Keep your eyes open this weekend, Readers.  Don't turn a blind eye to those in need.  Make change happen and let it begin with you.

And most of all--Don't Blink!  It really ruins a group shot.