Friday, April 17, 2015

Beautiful Pollen....

I have had an exceptional hard Spring with allergies....

My voice has sounded like a deranged bullfrog pretty much since Easter, and it has not been pretty.
My sinuses have been clogged and airways have been restricted.

All thanks to the pollen that has been flying around...

My misery and bleary eyes, however, still love the beauty of Spring and all of the blooms and blossoms the pollen brings......

On Thursday afternoon, two days after the snowstorm, my mom and I went down to Thanksgiving Point to see the Tulip Festival.  It was a double bonus event.  My mom volunteers regularly at Red Butte Gardens, here in Salt Lake City, and as a Thank You for Volunteer Appreciation Week, they hosted an afternoon/evening at Thanksgiving Point in Lehi, so our admission was free.

I was concerned about my allergies, especially since the wind was blowing.
We were both concerned about the state of the tulips after the windstorm on Monday and the snowstorm on Tuesday.

Our concerns were soon put to rest as we explored the garden, except for a grouping of Lilac trees that sent me sneezing.

Our first grouping of tulips along the walkway
Thanksgiving Point is a Show Garden, of 55 acres, which means as soon as something goes out of bloom, they dig it up and plant something new that will bloom next.  There were over 250,000 tulips in over 100 different varieties planted for the festival, which means as soon as they are done, 250,000 tulip bulbs will be dug up and replaced with another plant.  Can you imagine the work?  Their volunteers are amazing!  Red Butte Gardens, where my mom volunteers, is a conservation garden which means when something goes out of bloom, they just let the plant be and show it as is.  I have a feeling that most of us gardeners do a little of both....show and conservation.

If you live in Utah and have a chance to witness this festival, GO!!!!!!

there were blooms of every shape

and color and texture

and even some still in bud....

They said there were even brown ones.  Do these count as brown?

But all were Beautiful...
This outing also helped me get back on track with my New Year's Resolution of getting my camera out more.  I laid on the ground, got covered in sticks and leaves, and really had fun!

I worked on some photography skills

aperture settings

details

working all in manual to get the detail I wanted.
Thanksgiving Point's Gardens are wonderful to walk through.  A Rose Garden, an Italian Garden, a Monet walk, and even a Secret Garden are all different sections to explore.....

on our way thru....

We even found a girl playing near a stream

the walkway of the arbor in the Rose Garden

the fountains of the Italian garden

Another angle of the Italian Fountains...

lanterns to guide our way
There was even a waterfall area near the amphitheater and a not so patient goose, who I thought was going to attack during its photo session.
one of the 4 waterfalls

I just find running water so soothing...

See the diva like attitude I had to deal with?  :)
As we were just about out of the gardens, the sun started to shine thru the clouds and I got my favorite pictures of the day....
it just set the tulips to glow

This is why I love Spring

Nature just showing off a little bit.

I will put up with a stuffy nose and watery eyes for an experience like that.....
No longer complaining about my allergies,
Melissa








Tuesday, April 7, 2015

1st Quarter Book Report


If you recall and documented here, I am doing a Reading Challenge this year, and in the spirit of documenting and being open with my New Year's Resolutions, and not wanting to overwhelm you at the end of the year, I thought I would split my updates into quarterly reports...

So here is my 1st.

#8 A funny book

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris  

I had never read him before and it will not be the last time.  At times, laugh out loud funny and at times, heartbreakingly sad, I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

#11 A book with a one word title

Motherlunge by Kristin Scott

I read this one for my book club, and it snuck up on me how much I ended up enjoying it.  It deals with some pretty serious subjects, yet retains a real sense of humor that isn't fake.

#12 A book of short stories

The Turning by Tim Winton

I can not tell you how much I loved these stories.  Characters reappear in multiple stories in wonderful ways and in the end, all the stories are woven together...  A great recommendation by a friend.

#17  A book a friend recommended

Walking Home, A Poet's Journey by Simon Armitage

Someone recommended this to me, but not who I thought, so if it was you, Thank you....

I enjoyed this adventure of a completely unprepared man attempting a hike the Penine Way in Great Britain.  The ending, however, to this day, DRIVES ME INSANE!!!  I won't spoil it for you, but GRRRRRRRRR!!!

#18  A Pulitzer Prize winning book.

Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Read about my adventure here, because I just can't go back.....

#21 A book your mom loves

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

This book robbed me of sleep.  I could not inhale it fast enough.  I now love this book about coming of age.

#26 A memoir

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

I had no clue what this book was about when I started it in mid February.  A memoir of grief.  I had a hard time with it, because her approach to grief was almost the polar opposite of mine.  I appreciated some of the information and enjoyed her writing style, but ultimately I really did not enjoy it.

#27 A book you can read in a day

The Major's Daughter by JP Francis

An enjoyable read that blends real life and fiction about a part of our U.S. history that I had no clue about.  Did you know that there was a POW camp in New Hampshire during World War II for German soldiers?  I didn't....  

#31 A book with bad reviews

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

I should start off by saying that this book was popular enough that it is now a series and I believe being adapted into a movie.  I, however, will not be continuing or seeing the movie.  It didn't start off so bad, but about half way through the book I just got tired of it.  I got tired of him telling me what Jane Austen really meant to say and of the half hearted attempt to keep it serious.  Embrace the camp if you are going there.  Take a minor character that shows up periodically and when they are not in the book have them off killing zombies--that I would of loved....  This debacle, however, I did not.

#34  A book with a love triangle

Embers by Sandor Marai

Not your traditional love triangle as most of the book is one man's soliloquy on the relationships and the moment that changed everything.  It is so richly written that you savor every word....

#40  A graphic novel

Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley

I didn't get it.  Maybe I'm too old (I really hope not), but hopefully this is just one of those things that does not fall into my wheelhouse.  This challenge is meant to introduce me to styles of books and authors I had never read before and that is how I am approaching this one.  I tried it, and now I can say, "No thank you..."

#43  A book that takes place in your hometown

The FireEaters by David Almond

If you recall, I chose a book from the area I was born in England.  I wrote a review on goodreads that went like this, "Brave yet scared.  Strong yet tender.  Knowing and also a bit confused.  This book summed up a coming of age in a turbulent time. (It is set during the Cuban Missile crisis)"  My only complaint with this book is that it took me almost half the book to get used to the Keely Bay slang, but it would not be as authentic if the author had changed the language, so it is a complaint I can live with.

#44  A book originally written in another language

Night by Elie Wiesel

If you are like I was I and have not read this book, please go find it immediately and read it now.

It is heartbreaking and hard to read at times, not due to poor writing, but the content, but in the end it is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read.  As soon as I have reading time, I am going to read the entire trilogy.

#46  A book written by an author with your initials

Lost Laysen by Margaret Mitchell

This novella was written when Margaret was just 18 and you can tell.....  It was not bad, but it did not have her maturity shown in Gone With the Wind.  The accompanying information that was included in the version I read about Ms. Mitchell's life was far more interesting than the actual story.  

#48  A banned book

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

This was actually the first book I read in starting this challenge.  It is an interesting read, especially with everything going on with women's reproductive rights going on now.  It will offend some, but I found it a fascinating and well written book.

#49  A book turned into a TV show

About a Boy by Nick Hornby

This has actually been turned into a movie, as well, that I have seen and enjoyed.   And for the first time, I prefer the movie.  I have not seen the TV show, so I can't give an opinion about it.  In the book,  I really did not like a lot of the characters that I found charming in the movie.  It became really weird when some of the dialogue in the movie is a direct quote from the book, yet one of the major plot lines is changed.  I had never read Nick Hornby before and I'm going to read another of his books before I form an opinion about his writing...

As you can see, I am a bit ahead of schedule.  The plan was to read a book a week, and by the end of March, my total should of been 12 and I'm at 16.  I had some weeks that I did not read at all, and others where I would read 3 books on the list.

My next update, at the end of June, is going to be a bit different.  Instead of waiting at the end of the quarter and writing from memory and losing my immediate reaction, I am going to have an unpublished post that I update as I finish a book.  The result of this will be that the numbers will not be in order, I hope it will be ok.....

I hope you've enjoyed a good book lately...
Melissa

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Diving into Procrastination....

I have edited, completely rewritten, and ignored this post long enough....

I started it in late February,
couldn't find the words I wanted, so I left it alone for a while.

I revisited it in early March,
and found I was in a mood to write privately, not here in my blog.

By late March,
I felt like too much time had passed to write it.

On the 5th day of April,
I have decided to just do it......

To write about my Polar Bear Plunge

or

How something that gets all messed up and ends up perfectly.

(Are you listening Melissa?  It doesn't have to be perfect)
Life lesson here....

I was supposed to do the Utah Special Olympic's Polar Plunge at Utah Lake on February 7th, a Saturday.

If you recall, I was in Georgia and it was 2 days after my Dad's death....
Plunging in Utah was not an option.

It dawned on me on that Saturday and I mentioned it to the family that was there, and they said, "Why don't you just jump into the pool here at Dad's house?"  It was unheated and I can verify COLD.

My original plan was to jump in my own clothes, but a better option was given, I would borrow clothes from family.

Standing on the pool deck, when it all seemed like a smart idea...
I dove...why, oh why did I dive?  The deeper I got, the colder it got...
completely submerged...
It wasn't where or how I had intended, but it was perfect.....

It shocked me out of deep grief and onto the road back to myself.....
It reminded me that in my last conversation with my Dad, I had mentioned I was doing a Polar Plunge and he had just laughed and said, "only you...."
It completed a Bucket List item in a very memorable way..
It reminded me of the love and support of family....
And it still raised money for a great cause.

It was not anywhere or how I had planned,
but I'm OK with that.

Life is a goofy, wonderful adventure that has twists and turns that you can never see coming...

I'm learning not only to embrace that, but
CELEBRATE it...

No more procrastination.
Dive in.
Melissa