Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Friday, April 27, 2012

Mama Needs A Project

I didn't work today.  My laptop needed it's Windows program updated to a newer version.  Unfortunately, there wasn't any other way to do that besides overnighting it to the Mother Ship in Minneapolis.  That meant sending it Thursday afternoon, and they fixed on Friday/today, and sent it back to me for Saturday delivery.  The total charge for a laptop box and first overnight shipping was $192.19.  I thought that was insane, and I hope no one gives me any trouble about expensing it.  Since I'm not an actual employee (I'm a contracted worker) I don't have access to a department FedEx account, so... I guess it costs what it costs.  It's nuts, though.

L came home from work and our physical therapist friend came to our house to give L's shoulder some tough love.  It's been bothering him for weeks, and it's time to do something about it.  We're a pair, L and I - him with his extremely sore shoulder, and me with my crippled ankle.  I help him put on his shirts and jackets, and he helps me put on shoes and boots.  We're such an old couple, and I'm not liking it very much.  I do, however, love this friend who comes over with his table and ultrasound, and works him over.  I personally find him hilarious, and he and I talked and laughed and talked, and L said later that he was a little resentful that we had seemingly forgotten who the patient was.  Then I felt bad that I had barged into his session and proceeded to enjoy myself.  Next time, I'll have to stay upstairs out of the way.  It'll be hard though, because Mike seriously makes me laugh, although he makes L cry a little bit while he's working him over.

After the pain and agony L and I went out and grabbed some dinner at our local Mexican restaurant.  For me, it felt sooooo good to get out of the house, but poor L was feeling a little puny.  Mike told us that grape juice was a good thing to drink to speed healing because of the antioxidants, so after dinner we went to the store and bought grape juice and a bunch of strawberries and blackberries (they were on sale).  And more soy milk.  Did I tell you that I'm on a soy jag?  I've been reading a book where the author (an MD) said that soy is a wonderful thing to work into your diet if you're trying to drop some poundage.  So all this last week I've been making myself smoothies with soy milk, sometimes adding either silken tofu or powdered soy protein along with bananas, strawberries, or other berries.  The protein content is high, the carbs are low-ish to low and I've been able to drop 3 pounds over the past week.  This is a miracle for me.  I haven't been able to do that in a long time.  Usually I'll lose a pound, then gain two back, so this steady but gradual loss is very encouraging!  All of the extra protein keeps my body satisfied, so I'm not constantly thinking about eating.   I even discovered a good smoothie made with chocolate soy milk, peanut butter, and banana - more of a treat than the fruity ones, but nice for a little change.  My snacks have been roasted soy nuts - not that tasty, but they have a satisfying crunch.  Things are looking up, my friends!

I bought the daughter of a good friend a baby gift today.  I've known her since she was a little girl and I wanted to get something special.  She has 1 little boy now, and now she's having a little girl.  I agonize too much over things like this, but I finally went to the Etsy Shop of one of Katie's friends - Chimi and Changa - and bought this in an 18 month size:
And to go with it, I went to my daughter Katie's MiaMoo Designs shop and purchased this necklace to go with it.  I love her fun necklaces and was excited to have an occasion to buy one.

It's not your typical lace and ruffles outfit - in fact, it's exactly how my daughter dresses her girls, and I think it's really cute and fun.  So I hope my friend's daughter likes it.  Katie was never a fluffy lacy girl, and while I think frothy girly clothes are so pretty, I tend to go more for the fun ones with unusual details.  It's how I'd want to dress if I were little, I think.

I'm kind of a fan of both girls' work - Chimi and Changa is original art screen printed on comfy and colorful knit dresses and tops, and MiaMoo Designs is impossibly whimsical necklaces - and they often collaborate on their collections so they coordinate.  So fun, and pretty...

Although I admit on the one above, it could also be the donuts talking very persuasively to me after a week of soy milk smoothies...

So that was my ball of fire Friday.  I sure hope the weekend is a little more exciting or I may just snooze through it.  I find that life is like that: sometimes you're on the go so constantly that you just yearn for life to slow down so you can breathe.  And then, when it does, you can't wait for the excitement to start up again.  Complete satisfaction is fleeting.  I'm at that point.  I need a project.  Or some travel.  Something.  I'm getting stagnant working every day, bike riding on weekends,  and getting my hair colored every 4 weeks.  That is how my life has been calendared lately, and I need some shakeup.  Something to fill up the in between besides TV.  I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sassy, Silly & SENSATIONAL!

Today was a special day.  It was our Lexi's 6th birthday.  I thought about her all day long, wondering how her birthday plans were going, feeling a little bit sad that I wasn't there.  After dinner, I gave her a call, and while I waited for her to get on the phone, I talked to her mom, Ronna, and found out that Daddy Rex had strep throat.  They are supposed to leave for Maui on Thursday, so that was not good news!  But apparently he is fortified with a new Amoxicillin Rx and he should be feeling pretty good by Thursday.

I heard Lexi's little voice getting closer, and pretty soon a very bubbly and excited little girl was telling me all about her 6th birthday.  She loved the Pocahontas princess doll, and the John Smith doll, and the Flynn Ryder doll that L and I had sent.  She had invited a little school friend "Mary" to come celebrate her birthday with her, and they went to McDonald's for lunch, and then to Froyo for frozen yogurt.  Then back to the house for presents.
And what a richness of presents she received!  Strawberry Shortcake, and Calico Critters (a house AND a bunny family and mouse family!)  There was more, but it was all too much for me to remember.  And then she said "And Mema, all of my presents - they were all NEW!"  (I guess, as opposed to the old crap that people usually give you?)  Whatever - she was beyond thrilled with everything, and even told me all about her number 6 card that said she was Sassy, Silly, and Sensational.  I couldn't agree more.

I wish you could hear this little girl chatter on and on - it's a treat.  She told me she was going to graduate from Kindergarten on May 31st, and then she wouldn't be in Kindergarten anymore.  She would be having a summer break "forever" - but then her mother reminded her that it was for just 2 months.  And when she goes back to school in August, she will take her lunch to school AND a snack because she "won't come home until evening" - at which point Ronna reminded her that it would be afternoon.

She told me that little Skylee is 7 months old now, and getting new teeth, and almost crawling!  Startling news!  She informed me that the pink blanket she holds now when she wants to suck her thumb is going to be put "into STORAGE, Mema" and that when she is sure she won't suck her thumb anymore she will get it out and give it to Skylee.  What an amazing little girl to have such a plan!

She said that Daddy was sick, and so she couldn't kiss him anymore until he was better.  I told her that was a good plan because strep throat hurts.  A lot.  I also told her Papa and I wanted to come and visit in a couple of months, and we would do some playing with those Calico Critters then.  Well - she immediately had a plan for that: Papa could be the Daddy and brother bunnies and mice, I could be the Mama bunny and mouse, and she would be the sister bunnies and mice.  Obviously she is planning on having our full attention.

I thought back to when she was a baby - she was our first grandchild.

It's always been hard to have their family so far away from us, but we've tried to visit as often as we can.  L and I were there for her first birthday,

and we've tried to go to visit as often as possible - they change so quickly!

She was a very happy, very well celebrated 6 year old.  It was such a delight to hear her happy little voice telling me about everything, such joy in all of it.  Life is pretty good at 6.  It makes me even more itchy to go for a visit.  I mean, there are new toys to play with, and Skylee is crawling for heaven's sake!  We plan to go in June for Matthew's birthday and hopefully we'll be able to find some reasonable airfare.

My dear blogging friend, Darlene, at Robbins Nest also had a birthday today.  She is 85 years young.  She is curious about everything, intelligent, talented, fascinating, and is a real character to boot.  My favorite kind of friend.

I found it such a happy coincidence that both of these wonderful girls share a birthday.  They are, each one, sassy, silly, and completely sensational.  Happy 6th birthday to Lexi, and happy big girl birthday to Darlene!  Lots of love, and best wishes to each of you for many, many more!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Following the Conversation

I had my pedicure yesterday and it was such a nice treat to give control of my feet over to someone else for an hour.  The polish color I chose is a dark rich brown with a hint of gold frost - called Native Soil.  After the brilliant aqua blue of Ebb and Flow I had for the last spring-y two weeks, I was ready for something a bit less... brilliant.
The girl who gives me my pedicures is named Kim.  She is Vietnamese, and her last name starts with a "G" so everyone just calls her "Kim G."  For the longest time I thought it was Kim Chee.  That's what I heard.  And that is where the problem begins.
I love Kim G.  She is funny, and generous (she once treated me to a chocolate peanut butter smoothie - you haven't LIVED until you've had one of those.  Unless you're allergic to peanuts.  Then it could kill you.  But I digress.)  She does the absolute best job making my feet as nice as possible.  She never mentions my chronically swollen right ankle - she just treats it with care.  She never complains about how bad my callouses are (too much information?) - she just buffs them off.  She has given me the best recipes for spring rolls and beef and lemongrass rolls.  I put them into "Notes" on my iPhone while she dictates.  I look forward to my visits with her.
The problem is that she is Vietnamese and, like many Asian women, speaks very softly.  I never thought my hearing was bad (although my kids would argue that point) but there are many times when she is telling me something - usually a long story about her mother or her sister in law and I have no clue what she is talking about.  So I do this:

I can't believe that I'm the only one who has this problem.  I want to follow the conversation - I really do.  And it's not the accent.  I'm good with accents.  I just can't hear her very well.  Americans talk really loud, I guess, and that's what we're accustomed to.  But Kim's voice is soft and sweet, and half the time I'm totally in the dark.  I mean, I called her Kim Chee for several visits until one of the other girls laughed and told me what her name really was.  An American girl.  Kim never did correct me.  I laughed it off, but when I saw this cartoon, I realized that I'm not alone in this charade.  You ALL do this, don't you? *looking stern*   I know you do... there's only so many times you can say "Huh?" before it's really annoying.  So we assume the appropriate expression and play along.
Anyway, I saw this cartoon on Facebook, and it made me laugh, since it's exactly what I was up to yesterday with Miss Kim.  She was trying to tell me something about her sister in law and it was all blah blah blah...  I think I smiled or looked concerned at the appropriate times, but we're never sure, are we? She probably tells her next customer about the crazy deaf lady in the previous appointment.  And for some reason it's only during her stories.  When she's giving me a recipe my ears are suddenly like a bat's.  Perhaps there is some magic in the power of food, or even the suggestion of it.  But we already knew that, didn't we?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I Hate Bread

My daughter and I have started a self help Lose Weight Now club via email.  Every day we email each other what we had for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as what exercise we did.  Now, if I were doing this with any of you I'd be tempted to tell fibs - you know, to make myself look just a little more in control than I really am.  But my daughter knows me.  She knows I would never do 50 pushups or run for 5 miles. Heck, she KNOWS I can't run 5 steps, let alone miles!  (Heaven help me if a car ever careens out of control and locks in on my location like a missile...)  She knows me well enough to know I never have a day where I eat nothing but nuts and carrot sticks.  And she knows I hate bread... *eyes darting around*  Bwahahahaha!  No - I LOVE bread, I crave bread, and all things bread-y, and carb-y and sweet.  It's like a character flaw.
So we're on Day 2.  I had a stellar day yesterday, as first days often are.  Breakfast was 2 eggs and a piece of toast.  Lunch was a chicken chopped salad.  Dinner was the same, only it was new and different chicken, as opposed to leftover chicken at lunch.  It was so good I thought I'd repeat it for dinner - plus, we were low on provisions, and I had to make do with what we had.  But it was a good day.  I stayed on track.  I went to bed feeling proud of ME.
Today was different.  It was a bread fest from start to finish: a bowl of Kashi Honey Puffs and a piece of toast with peanut butter started things out in the wrong direction.  Lunch was an improvement (cold chicken) until I added 3 slices of rosemary baguette bread spread with Brie.  And dinner is going to be BBQ chicken pizza and a Caprese Salad.  So instead of crudite, and lean protein, the day was mostly filled with bread and dairy - the worst things of all for me.  *hanging head*
In my defense, I did have a dance party in my office about once every hour.  I'd taken a helpful iTunes suggestion from blogger Katie here, (it was a genius post, so do enjoy all of the links - especially the last one) and helped myself to not one, but TWO CDs worth of music from Eric Hutchinson.  It got me up and dancing I tell you.  Fired up.  It wasn't pretty, but it was pure fun.  I felt sassy, and one thing led to another, and before I knew it we were having a Lady Gaga dance party, moving on to Fun and "Some Nights."  Iggy Pop and Guster.  If you had seen it, you would probably wish you hadn't, but I had myself a fine time moving to the beat whilst wearing my sexy sexy biking shorts (we're riding tonight and I didn't want to have to change clothes - I'm lazy like that) and my clonky but supportive cross trainers.  Yes, I'm a dream come true, friends.  Hot, hot, hot.

I did drink a lot of water though, so that was good for me.  I discovered that I would drink a lot more of it if I cut up lime slices in the water and drink it ice cold, instead of old plastic water in the bottle.  I've guzzled four  1 pt. 0.9 size bottle's worth so far.  Not to worry - I am nothing if not eco-conscious.  I just keep refilling the same bottle and then dumping it in the glass with ice.  Why refill the bottle?  Because that way I know exactly how much I'm chugging.  I like to know things like that.  It makes me feel smug to know that, although I consumed 4 times my limit of carbs today, I did, at least, drink water until I sloshed.

I'm not sure if our little diet club will work for me or not.  It is effective to write down what you actually eat though.  I remember Weight Watchers telling us to keep a food diary years ago when I was trying to shed baby weight, and I scoffed, lazy girl that I am.  But it's true: when you see it in black and white, it really does seem like more than it did when it was going in your mouth.  It makes you think.  It makes you regret.  It makes you repent.  It makes you turn on loud music and bust a move.
Tonight after dinner we'll take the bikes out for a spin.  Return to the scene of the crime where I last rode at night in the dark.  And son of a biscuit - it's trash night again!  Pray that I don't plow into another trash can.  I think I'm much more coordinated now though, so I will be fine.  Yes, I WILL be fine.  I will.  Because I'm awesome.
Today was not so awesome in terms of low carb foods.  (Mid-life I hate thee!)  But in the morning I have another bike ride - this time with Wendy.  It will start the day off right.  I will not eat Kashi Honey Puffs when I get home.  (Ptooie!) I will fall in love with lean protein, lovely vegetables, and rivers of lime water.  I will continue to hold dance parties during the workday as the mood strikes and the shades are drawn.  I will twirl.  I will shake my booty.  Heck, I might even sing.  (THAT'LL impress the neighbors!)  And my reward for sticking with it?  A pedicure tomorrow at 3:30.  (I'm all about short-term rewards!) I'm in a good mood already.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Zap Your Pain

It rained today.  Hard at times.  There were moments when the wind was driving the rain sideways.  I was sitting at my desk by the window watching it pour down.
Did I mention that I love rain?  I love the sound of it pounding down on the roof (unless my roof is leaking), I love to watch small river torrents running down the street.  And I especially love it when there's thunder and lightning.
We got it all today.  The whole enchilada.  And I got to watch the whole show from the warmth and comfort of home, instead of battling bad traffic and avoiding accidents on the freeway.  For most of the day it was a little rain here, a little rain there.  But suddenly, it would really come down.  The wind blew hard, the rain came down like a monsoon, lightning flashed, and thunder boomed.

Sorry about the gigantic weeds...

I tried to capture the intensity of the rain without actually going outside (because I work at home, and I "sometimes" don't even comb my hair until 3pm.  Let alone get dressed.

But that's our little secret. *wink*
I promise you, though, it was coming down hard.

It's been a long week.  Remember last weekend?  Easter?  Well, apparently (and it's embarrassing that I've developed into such a delicate flower - just when did this happen??) I spent a little too much time on my feet to suit my joint-ritis condition.  My bad ankle was a little angry about the abuse, to tell you the truth.  So Monday I didn't go to yoga, instead opting to stay home and rest.  On Tuesday, it was a little iffy, but I went to class.  Bad choice.  Somewhere between the Warrior I pose, and Warrior II, my ankle decided to mutiny.  I limped out to my car and it all went downhill from there.  It seems with RA, you don't just get sore muscles - you treat yourself to a full blown flareup.  Sweet.  It felt like I'd broken my foot - like a stress fracture.  Walking made me whiney on Tuesday afternoon.  Wednesday wasn't much better, but that evening a friend who is a physical therapist was coming over in the evening to see about L's sore shoulder, and my sore shoulder - which, typical of RA, decided not to be sore anymore, and instead transferred to my ankle.  Still with me?  (Trust me, it's a disease which makes no sense at all.)  The good news is I was able to buy a Tens unit from him.  Those are the electrical impulse devices where you place the electrodes on what hurts, and the electric pulse calms everything down.  They range from very expensive (my company makes them, and they are implantable) to very reasonable.  The one I have can be bought on Amazon for $39!!
So I've been happily zapping whatever hurts for 30 minutes at a time and I'm feeling so much better.  Thank you for asking.  My ankle has gotten better each day (admittedly, with an extra helping of steroids on top of the zappage), and today I am walking almost limp free!  It's a beautiful thing, and as soon as I can I WILL dance.
So now that I've gone totally geezer on you, and gone on and on about all of my aches and pains, I'm going to stop droning and attach the electrodes to my ankle and electrocute myself a little bit.  Get my buzz on, in a manner of speaking.  It's weirdly soothing and a little addictive.  But maybe that's just me.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter 2012

It was a good Easter weekend.  Very busy, but good.  We (L and me - but mostly me, me , me) cooked for two days.  Saturday I'd planned to make the famous bunny cake and the vegetable quiche, leaving the potatoes and chicken for Sunday.  In between I'd planned on getting the three tables set and ready.

 Good enough planning, or so I thought.  At 7:30am on Saturday my aunt called wondering if we could help her with some things she was bringing in from Hemet to her storage unit.  Such bad timing, but I couldn't say no.  When she finally got in the area, she called, saying she was lost and couldn't find the storage place, so I had her come to my house instead where we'd figure it out.  When she arrived, she realized she didn't have the key to her storage space.  She'd left it.  In Hemet.  To make a long story short, what should have taken about 45 minutes ended up taking almost 3 hours by the time we made a bunch of calls and ended up renting a new unit to put her things in.  I was thinking that it all made up for the time I threw up on her bed when I was about four.  Yeah - she's put up with a lot from me over the years, so one hot, frustrating afternoon is the least I can do.
By Saturday night, the quiche was made, and it looked really good.  The bunny cake was... well... a little over cooked.  Sadly, the recipe I was following was for a 10 cup bundt cake mold.  My total mold was 9.5 cups (it includes two bunny halves and two Easter egg halves) so I didn't give it any more thought.  But I should have.  It was supposed to bake for an hour, but I should have taken into consideration that the bunny mold is not as dense as a bundt mold - especially the ears.  The crispy, burnt little ears.  Well, at least they didn't break off coming out of the pan, which is what they did the last time I made the cake.  A little too brown, ears definitely brown and crispy, but the cake overall was still lemony good.  And after the lemon glaze was added, it was really good.  I wrapped it up for the night, deciding to do the filling and put it together on Sunday.  I limped off to bed on my sore little dogs.  They were really barking.

Sunday morning dawned, and I kept hoping someone would tell me to stay home from church.  (No one did.)  And that's a terrible thing to admit on the 2nd biggest religious holiday of the year, but I was soooo tired.  But you'll be proud of me - I was up and ready and off we went.  And it was a beautiful day, the choir was lovely at church, and I was glad I'd made the effort.  It was easy to remember why we celebrate Easter after such a lovely morning.  In between yawns, anyway...

After church things kicked into high gear.  We peeled 5 pounds of potatoes and sliced them on the mandoline I'd gotten for Christmas.  What a great tool that is!  Slightly trecherous, but great!  The potatoes were sliced in 2 seconds, and we had two pans of scalloped potatoes ready in no time.  L took over searing the chicken while I got the third table set and ready.
Next, I decided to fill and complete the infamous bunny cake.  I'd had the idea to use sweetened mascarpone cheese on one half and lemon curd on the other and then put them together.  In my head it  tasted and looked amazing.  It ended up being a very bad, very horrible idea.  It tasted great - yes it did.  But I didn't realize that mascarpone cheese is way too wimpy and runny.  I should have used cream cheese because it would have held up.  As it was, it looked like poor bunny's innards were pouring out.  And underneath his little cottontail, there was a very unfortunate pool of blended mascarpone cheese and lemon curd that looked a little like the runs.  I'd planned on having it out on display on the cake plate, but I hid it in the fridge instead.  I had my mom help me cut and serve it, she being handy with a knife and all, and even she laughed when she saw poor sick little bunny cake.  *hanging head in shame*
But sliced up and served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, it was delicious so all was well.  A good ending to a good time together.  And I have to apologize to you, dear readers.  I took pictures of two of the tables.  I took pictures of the eggs we colored on Saturday night.  (A couple were marbelized a la Martha Stewart - are you impressed?)

And I had my camera ready and waiting when everyone arrived.  But from the time my parents arrived to the time the last guest left, I never gave the camera another thought.  So no pictures of family at all.  *sad face*  I need my daughter to move back here from Massachusetts just to take pictures and document family gatherings because clearly, I cannot be depended upon.
I'm glad I decided to have everyone over.   In particular I enjoyed having my brother and his wife over.  It gave me that "we need to do this more often" feeling.  I had fun getting to know Ashley's brother Ben - I liked him a lot.  So easy to be around - he kind of charmed everyone.  I wish everyone lived closer so we could be a huge gang, but I'm grateful for the ones who do still live close by.
And now, back to routine.  Moving on from bunnies and baskets.  But it sure was fun while it lasted.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring's Dance Party

I'm having the whole family over on Easter Sunday for dinner.  It's a little bit daunting, but I really felt impressed to do it.  I've said it before - our house is really tiny.  6 people in our living room constitutes a crowd, and we will have somewhere between 12 and 18 people on Sunday (one brother and his family are still on the fence).  But I'm excited: I have the menu all worked out, and it's a good one.  Lemon caper chicken, scalloped potatoes, green salad, and rolls.  For desert, I'm bringing the bunny cake mold out of hiding, and making a bunny shaped (3D!) glazed lemon pound cake filled with lemon curd and mascarpone cheese, and served with sliced strawberries and whipped cream.  I also plan to make some cupcakes decorated with toasted coconut nests filled with jelly bean eggs.
 I say "plan to" because it's all going to be fluid according to time and it's realities.  But a small miracle has occurred this year, and I've relinquished some control to others to help out and bring some of the food.  My SIL Jill makes a killer green salad, so that will free up lots of time for me.  She's also bringing napkins for dinner, and Easter napkins for the dessert - a small but key detail that I probably would have overlooked until it was too late, so thank goodness for her!  My mother is slicing the strawberries for me, thus saving me another hour (or more) of time.  Ashley is bringing the rolls, so I won't have to worry about those.  The point being, that I've had many many dinners where I couldn't/wouldn't let anyone do anything, insisting on doing everything myself.  And then I'd melt down when it was all too much.  Maybe I've grown up, maybe I've just gotten over needing to do it all, maybe I'm just old and tired.  Whatever, it was lovely to be able to count on my family to be willing to help.  I think it's going to be a fun afternoon.  Plus, I have my not-so-secret weapon: L.  When I start to get wound up, he just steps in and gives me sweet relief.  He's very at home in the kitchen and we are each other's assistant chef.
So the countdown to dinner prep begins.  I'll be getting a few things done tomorrow, with the balance being done Friday night (shopping) and Saturday (prep).  I'd love to say that I plan to color eggs with natural vegetable dyes, but no.... no, I don't see that happening.  And for the first time in years, I'm ok with that.
Yesterday was a quiet work day.  It was sunny and warm outside, so at lunchtime I sat outside and enjoyed the great outdoors on my patio.  I saw one of these fluttering by

and the usual gangs of hummingbirds were flying around.  My next door neighbor has a hummingbird feeder, and I have a big hibiscus bush,

so between our two yards, the hummingbirds keep their tummies full and their wings busy.  All of a sudden I noticed that one rogue hummingbird was dive bombing me. He did it about 3 times in a row, coming within about 5 feet of me.  I looked all around, but saw no nest anywhere.  Maybe I was too close to his food?  A hawk flew over head, and so I thought for a few minutes he was just warning the others of the danger.  But no - in a few minutes he was back to diving bombing me and giving me his tiny stink eye a couple more times.

Again, this morning when I stepped outside, I heard so many birds singing and fluttering about in the trees.  Small finches, and millions of hummingbirds.  We have a hillside full of pepper trees, and the little birds just love those trees.  Anyway, I tried so hard to get a picture of one, but I don't have a zoom lens, and frankly, I don't have the skill.  This was the best I could do:

Before I lived here, I'd never seen hummingbirds just sitting still. EVER.  But they do it all the time.  Such pretty little birds.
Then I started noticing what else was going on around my little kingdom.  The orange tree is starting to bloom and has little baby oranges starting up.

There's the aforementioned hibiscus bush in full bloom, attracting birds and butterflies alike

The sweet potato vine is starting to bloom again after a rough winter (of being ignored, with 
not enough water *sad face*)

On the front porch, the pot of Kalanchoe is blooming crazily

And while walking from back patio to front porch I noticed how truly beautiful red and white
geraniums can look in a sunny window box. (Pay no attention to the dirty windows.)

Spring is abundant and joyous.  It's having a dance party in my yard.  This afternoon I need to get out and sweep the patio - clean it up for this weekend's Easter soiree.  It's a little neglected looking after the wind and rain we've recently had.  And so, as nature refreshes and renews, so do we.  We clean patios, trim plants, pull weeds, and scrub the winter debris off of the patio furniture.  We prepare to gather with family and friends.  I'm missing my grandmother this year - she who could whip a meal up out of nothing, and who never said no to traveling.  She loved family parties and gatherings of any kind, so I'll try to do her proud.  Because somehow, I think she'll be close, watching out for us girls still learning the dance.  

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