Outakes (some of the spoils)

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This movie, while not necessarily the most complete plot I’ve seen in Pixar, is probably one of the most beautifully animated films. The music and the visuals are truly a treat, and it is thanks to my glorious Aunt, Uncle, and cousins on my dad’s side that I now own this.

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Looks like a slab of marble, but is actually a wonderful hand crafted soap gifted to me by ZeldaStark. The company is Sweet Harvest Farms, and this particular soap is Teah Par Ti’ and it contains “Palm Oil (sustainable), Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Green Tea, Rosemary Extract, Vitamin E” according to the label. I’ve mentioned a deep love of craft soaps, and this one has only further deepened that feeling. I have enjoyed it beyond words already, and I only received it recently.

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Some Christmas tunes gifted by the lovely Baloo. Considering my slight sadness at not adding to my Christmas music the last two years, I was beyond excited.

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My parents know me well, and it doesn’t help that I’m the only one around to eat it all….

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A most perfect project bag made by the ever-talented ZeldaStark. I have been in desperate need of such a product, and I could not have wished for one more lovely.

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From left to right: a handmade ornament (ZeldaStark of course, the girl is a crafting beast), a hand carved “hug” from the Global Gecko ( vendor who came to the Christmas event at the park. I wanted everything in her booth, but I could only happily afford this wonderful little carving.), and this wonderfully perfect little tiger friend ( gifted so sweetly by Baloo. He heard I wanted one of the park’s tiger ornaments, and this is the one he picked up. The one I originally wanted was cool, but this little guy is by far superior. I was instantly charmed the second I saw him.)

Merry Christmas to me 🙂

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Merry Christmas, Thanks to a Friend

ZeldaStark: My dear, what are you doing for Christmas?

Me: (considering my response carefully, deciding to go with the truth plus a dash of exaggeration) Sitting in my apartment with my imaginary feline.

ZeldaStark: …..that is simply unacceptable. I will not have it.

Such conversations are how one finds oneself in a car driving into the countryside with a dear friend to join in her family’s Christmas festivities. You see, I did not have the ability to be with my family this Christmas. That has never been the case, and while I was keeping it generally to myself (or making light of it when asked, hence the imaginary cat), I did not relish the thought of being by myself on the holiday. My mother and other distant loved ones were also concerned that I was going to be lonesome. Thankfully, ZeldaStark and MommaStark came to my rescue and invited me to join in their Christmas celebration. I found myself in the midst of a large group of people who treated me like I came to every holiday gathering, and I spent the afternoon happily chatting, knitting, and stuffing my face with various delicious treats. Not only did my friend and her mother so graciously invite me to this shindig, but also made sure I had a few lovely things to unwrap during the opening of presents. ZeldaStark made me a most perfect project bag, an ornament, and she got me the coolest looking (and most awesome smelling) soap ever!!! (I have a thing for naturally crafted bar soap, judge me all you wish.) Her mother provided a large candle that smells of heaven and unicorns cuddling with kittens. All I wish for my readers to see in this story is people who are beautifully generous spirits who exemplify what Christmas is supposed to inspire. Although I still missed my own loved ones dreadfully, I was buoyed by the company of those who were kind enough to invite me into their celebration. I could not be more grateful, nor more full of true Christmas joy. Merry Christmas to all, may your New Year be even more beauteous 🙂

What To Do with a Bad Day

From the excellent children's book, Alexander's Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day. Truly one of my all-time favorites

From the excellent children’s book, Alexander’s Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day. Truly one of my all-time favorites

 

We all have had such days. Now, granted, mine did not start poorly when I awoke. In sooth, it was only the very beginning, and the very end of my shift that caused my day to be so ultimately sour. To put it shortly, I spent my day making snow. While that may sound fun, the truth is that such work is not going to be on my list of future jobs. The job is cold, extremely damp, and trying to finagle the apparatus responsible for the snow dispersal is, I imagine, somewhat akin to wrestling an extremely cantankerous anaconda while attempting to trek across the world’s largest snow cone. The situation was enough to break down every barrier I carefully erect in order not to lose it while in public, and then top it off with near exhaustion. By the end of my shift, I was so razzed I nearly broke down in front of my coworkers. Yeah, Alexander, I totally understand.

Now, we all have terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad days. Such is the way of life. However, I have determined that bad days can be salvaged by doing a couple of very important things. Try any one of them, and I can almost guarantee at least a small smile before the day is out.

-Crying (do it lots): Okay, I would not consider myself a constant crier, but I am a hypersensitive person who feels things pretty acutely. This means things can sometimes strike me sideways, and I know I am not the only one to have this facet to his or her nature. Ultimately, if I just allow myself a good solid cry-fest, I will feel immensely better. I hold that the same is true for more people than will admit to it. I always encourage a good, solid, snotty, cry, because then the stress is released in an outward way that allows one to move onward with more clarity.

– Shower: Seriously, are there many things better than a long hot shower after a crummy day? Or even a good day?

-Recognize the Stress, then Let Go: Part of my problem is that I want to be cooler than I am. This is not self-deprecation, it is merely a recognition of the fact that I react strongly to things. The problematic part is that I try to talk myself out of being upset…which often makes me more upset because I then feel ridiculous. If I can recognize my stress, allow myself to feel it WITHOUT guilt, then I can move on from it once I truly process the emotion. I know why I was miserable today, and the world did not fall apart because I was miserable, thus I have no reason to feel guilty for that feeling. Now, the event is over, and tomorrow is a new (and hopefully slightly better) adventure. Time to move onward and sluff off the yuck in favor for the usual anticipation for the day yet unlived.

– Do Something for Someone Else: The difficulty with terrible days is that they tend to encourage me towards self-pity. Screw that nonsense. I felt pathetic earlier, but that does not mean I am. What pity do I need or deserve? I am rich beyond all count in the things that mean more than any wealth. Though not materially wealthy, I know I have enough to share with someone who could use a good Christmas. So, off to buy an art set for a 13 year old boy whom I have not met, but did request such a thing for the holiday. A friend kindly supplied his other request (video games), but I knew I could pick a decent supply of artistic materials. Then, the dollar store for wrapping materials, and ta da!!!! How can you not feel better looking at such a nicely wrapped package for an artistic teenager?

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Outakes (Christening a new lens with some avian subjects)

Recall a post where I displayed a beautiful new telephoto lens for my glorious camera Clara? I am not a brilliant photographer, but documenting my work for my portfolio is very important. Thus, one very good Christmas, my parents gifted me with a Canon Rebel, and I have never wanted for a better camera. Not only does she do a smashing job with portfolio pictures, she also provides a great way for me to enjoy memories from my various excursions, particularly of the natural variety. I have been aching for a lens that allows me more variety in my close-up shots, and the rents came through yet again. I took the little beauty for a test drive at Lettuce Lake, and let’s just say many a bird gave me quite the money shot 🙂

One of my favorite marshland birds, I find them extremely graceful and elegant.

One of my favorite marshland birds, I find them extremely graceful and elegant.

Extremely common down here, but this loveling posed so nicely I just had to capture.

Extremely common down here, but this loveling posed so nicely I just had to capture.

These guys are super- neat. They create shade with their wings so that fish will gather there to escape the sun. Then WAM!! Fishy delicious.

These guys are super- neat. They create shade with their wings so that fish will gather there to escape the sun. Then WAM!! Fishy delicious.

Not sure of the name, but would never have gotten such a little one before this lens :)

Not sure of the name, but would never have gotten such a little one before this lens 🙂

Again, not sure of the bird's name, but I see them only occasionally hidden in the vegetation. It's always the eyes that catch me.

Again, not sure of the bird’s name, but I see them only occasionally hidden in the vegetation. It’s always the eyes that catch me.

Sweet little fellow, and they don't get much bigger than the length of my forearm.

Sweet little fellow, and they don’t get much bigger than the length of my forearm.

I cannot begin to describe how hard I fought for this shot. This little snot insisted on ducking in and out of various vegetation for twenty minutes. Becoming frustrated, I left for a half hour. As I came back, the beauteous snark had moved into a perfectly open area and looked at me innocently as he posed. Not. Fooled.

I cannot begin to describe how hard I fought for this shot. This little snot insisted on ducking in and out of various vegetation for twenty minutes. Becoming frustrated, I left for a half hour. As I came back, the beauteous snark had moved into a perfectly open area and looked at me innocently as he posed. Not. Fooled.

See, I can fly too!!

See, I can fly too!!

Outakes (An excellent trip)

Two weeks ago, I visited my parents in their new domicile for Thankmas (considering I could only finagle one holiday off, we decided to combine them.) My rents live very close to the coast and were in the midst of Sandy.

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The beach was beautiful….

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…but evidence of Sandy was apparent. In the second picture, you can see the pilings in the sand where the boardwalk used to be located. And see the pile in the background on the right? Kind of looks like a hill? That’s the boardwalk itself.

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On the plus side, some companions from both north and south came to visit that weekend, and we had a grand time jetty-jumping, game playing, conversing….

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….and creating some delectable s’mores cookies. Merry Thankmas to me :)!