Blossoming

The world outside is coming to life again and so am I. As much as I try to fight it, the winter months quiet me. The long stretch of cold, sharp months make it hard to find my energy and motivation. Many of those days find me slogging through my daily routine. And I don’t even often realize what a rut I’m in until the air begins to warm, the sunshine visits more frequently and suddenly I feel as if I’m exiting a long, dark tunnel.

Spring makes me feel alive again and I know I’m not the only one. A coworker who was tanning during the last weeks of winter told me, “I know it’s bad for me. I just need the light and the warmth right now so much more than I care about the health hazards.”

Last weekend, as Kacey and I were running errands, she exuded joy when she exclaimed, “It’s so good to see the sun! It just makes me so happy!

I know what she means. Just a little sunshine and warmth is all it takes sometimes to make me realize what a cocoon I’ve been in the last several months.

It’s been warm this week. It’s been a no-jacket kind of week (and what a treat that is!) It’s been a week when I welcome the sound of the alarm clock, lace up my running shoes and head to the gym. (It’s still just a bit too dark and cold at that hour of the day to do my exercise outdoors.)  It’s been a hop in the car, roll down the windows, crank up the tunes and sing along like nobody’s watching kind of week.

The robins are back!

The robins are back!

It’s rainy and overcast this morning. And tomorrow will bring a dip in temperatures and I may have even heard there’s a slight chance of the S-word. But it’s not going to bring me down. The extended forecast calls for more spring-like temperatures. Winter’s in the rearview mirror now!

Streams of water trickling down the street

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Birds singing…

Sun shining…

The front windows are cranked open just a little bit and I wore my flip-flops when I ran a quick errand to Target this afternoon with Kacey. She came home this weekend for a summer job interview.

Last Thursday and Friday brought what I hope was our last snowstorm.

The rush-hour drive into work Friday morning was a mess. Here at home, we probably got five or six inches of snowfall. But by the work day’s end, it was already beginning to melt. Warm temperatures have held steady throughout the weekend and the mounds of snow around our yard are disappearing right before our eyes.

The sunshine feels SO good. Just ask Lucy. She is so done with being inside!

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It was a busy week. We finally got serious about buying a car. I narrowed down the list of vehicles I was considering to just two. We visited the Chevy dealership where Brad bought his truck last year and spent some time talking with the very same salesman. He was a nice guy and knew his stuff. We took a test drive in an Equinox and I liked what I saw. But we left without making a purchase. I’ve also been considering a GMC Terrain and I was pretty sure I liked it just a little bit more than the Equinox. I wanted to see it, drive it, and compare pricing.

20140406 aSo the next night we visited a GMC dealership. A very young salesman met us as we approached the showroom. I was a bit skeptical of working with him, considering his youth, but as we began to talk, I could see that he knew what he was doing. I took a Terrain for a test drive and young Sam the salesman pointed out when the quality of the road changed and what I should expect to feel as we drove over various stretches of road, as well as when we navigated curves and sharp turns. I really liked this car and I knew if Sam could give us a price that came close to what we’d be given at the Chevy dealership, the Terrain would be my choice.

When all was said and done, he gave us the right price. Unfortunately, the vehicle that fit our specific requirements did not exist in the dealership’s inventory. Sam said he could do a dealer trade with another GMC dealership and promised he would do his best to find one that fit the bill. Yesterday, we got the call. A dealership 150 miles north of here has a shipment of vehicles coming in straight from Detroit. The Terrain I want is in that shipment – which isn’t arriving until somewhere near April 18th. And once it arrives, someone has to go get it and bring it down here.

Well, it’s been more than a year since Mark and I started talking about a new car for me. I guess I can wait just a little bit longer. Anyway, it will give me time to spiff up my old car for Kacey before handing it off to her. And let me tell you, she is every bit as thrilled to be inheriting my old car as I am to be getting a new one! And we’re both glad for friendlier weather as we get to know our new cars!

Melting

It’s been happening in small doses lately and it brings me hope! Over the past few days, we’ve been hearing that the weekend could bring the warmest temperatures this year. Keep your fingers crossed! The snow cover is slowly diminishing, but there is still a long ways to go.

20140328Lucy and I haven’t had any regular morning walks in months. There has been too much snow and too much cold. I feared for the well-being of her paws. But with all the talk of a warm weekend, I was determined to get out there again. I didn’t dare say the word to Lucy before it was time. Last night as she was sitting with me in the recliner, I told her, “Tomorrow, we’ll go for a double you!

Her curiosity was piqued and she tipped her head to the side, looking at me with questions in her eyes. “I can’t tell you anymore right now,” I told her. “But I promise. You’ll be happy.”

When morning arrived, even though I knew better, I said the word before my teeth were brushed or my shoes were on. As my electric toothbrush hummed in my mouth, Lucy whined and pranced in the bathroom doorway, wanting me to hurry up and take her on her walk already! When we finally hit the pavement, she was bound and determined to race toward all of those fun smells and sights.

The weather app on my phone said nineteen degrees this morning. I knew the warmer weather wouldn’t show up until later today, but nineteen degrees was better than the single digit and below zero temps that hung around for too many weeks. Lucy and I had the path pretty much to ourselves, save for one ambitious runner who wore a black mask over his mouth and nose and passed us by pretty quickly. We had to weave our way off the path and back again here and there to avoid large patches of ice, but the fresh air and sunshine felt amazing.

See the ice up ahead?

See the ice up ahead?

Also, that annoying kink in my back that I haven’t been able to shake all month feels like it might be gone; Just one of the many perks of outside versus the treadmill. Lucy and I burned off a bunch of cabin fever! Looking forward to many more mornings like this in the coming months (minus the snow and ice!)

Turning the Corner

I had to pull myself out of vacation mode this week and get back into the swing of the usual routine. It wasn’t too painful, except for that first day back to work. My email inbox was overwhelming!

Kacey is home from school this week on spring break. She’s happy for the reprieve from homework and studying. Lucy is happy for the company and for having someone to play with and snuggle her during the day. And I’m happy to see Kacey’s smiling face when I come home from work. She’s kept me entertained with her stories and great sense of humor.

The weather is finally breaking and we can all actually tolerate being outside for more than a few minutes. Our walking paths are clear of snow once again and we can take Lucy for walks. The other night, she was so enthusiastic to be outside the confines of the yard, that she yanked on her leash, pulling Kacey along in her hurry to keep exploring ever further. We had to dodge some pretty large puddles, but it was worth it. The neighborhood seems to be coming back to life.

Spring 2014

Finally, the Sun!

The weekend weather was beautiful, almost as if we were being rewarded for putting up with a week of clouds and rain. When I opened my eyes Saturday morning, bright sunshine was peeking around the edges of the pleated shade in my bedroom window. There was only one thought on my mind and that was to get out there! I brushed my teeth and pulled on a pair of my workout capris. Lucy seemed to understand by the way I was dressed that I was going outside and she did not want to be left behind. She sat whining by the front door until I slipped her harness over her head and hooked on her leash. Then she pulled me out the door and took me for a walk.

It was glorious! The sun was such a welcome sight and the scent of lilacs filled the air. Lucy raced along sniffing the ground every inch of the way. We crossed paths with other walkers and runners. And I realized how friendly morning people are. Everyone greeted us with a smile and a cheerful “good morning!”

Up in the northern part of the state, the wind was making it difficult to take a boat out on Lake of the Woods. The fishermen opted to call it quits a day early rather than sit around in their rented cabins wishing they were fishing. Mark called to tell me they were heading home and should be back by dinner time. But they weren’t feeling sorry for themselves. They caught their limit of fish and had some great father-son bonding time.

Lake of the Woods-Boys b

The mighty fishermen

By the time I’d finished my chores on Saturday afternoon, the clouds had returned and temperatures had dropped. It was early evening before the guys got back home and by then, it was raining off and on, but we weren’t upset. The weatherman had promised that Sunday would be the best day of the weekend.

And it was. Lucy and I again started the morning with an early walk. She is so fun to watch as we travel along our route. She’s like a curious toddler, not wanting to miss a thing. There are so many scents to sniff and so many other dogs out greeting Lucy as she walks by. On our way back home today, there was a Rat Terrier barking from behind a chain link fence. He jumped furiously to get our attention, as if his barking weren’t enough! He launched himself in the air with all four feet, his body remaining level while he sailed upward and his head bypassed the top of the fence. Over and over he jumped, trying to get Lucy’s attention. He was such a funny and impressive sight!

Later in the day, I had lunch with my pal, Rose. Rose and I first met when we were six years old and have managed to stay connected all these years. Lately though, we’ve been more likely to communicate over email than in person. It’s been too long since we’ve seen each other. So we scheduled a lunch date, with no real plan as to where to go until this morning.  I suggested we go to Stillwater, a neighboring city full of history. We ate our lunch at a crowded outdoor restaurant with a view of the St. Croix River. Afterwards, we wandered the streets of downtown Stillwater among crowds of other Sunday visitors, browsing antique stores and talking non-stop for several hours. Before we headed home again, we walked along the river, making our way back to the car.

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Boaters waiting for the lift bridge to rise

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Lifelong friends

We’ve been waiting for a day like this for so long. And it was amazing!

 

A Week of Rain

SperryKacey had a birthday a couple of weeks ago. When asked what she wanted for her gift, she said shoes. She’d had her eye on a particular pair for quite a while. We had to order them online to get the exact style she was looking for. When they were delivered to our front door a few days later, she squealed in delight.

The weather has been full of rain. The new shoes sit in their box on Kacey’s bedroom floor, not yet worn. She says that she has wanted these shoes for so long that she refuses to take a chance on getting them wet and ruining them. She’s sprayed them three times with waterproofer. Still, she’s taking no chances until things start to dry out.

All week long, the skies have been gray. The sun comes out here and there, but mostly its dull skies, thick clouds and rain. The wind blows endlessly, tree branches swaying side to side, back and forth. Pink crab apple tree blossoms past their prime  float away in the wind, dropping like snow onto the pavement. When I open the patio door to let Lucy out in the mornings, the wooden deck and backyard grass are still soaked from the nighttime rains.

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Today there was bright sunshine streaming down from a sky that felt heavy. The wind refused to die down. After noon, weather reports warned of heavy storms in nearby areas.  I worried about Lucy at home all alone. Poor dog  is afraid of thunder! But by the time I got home from work, the sun was still shining, the wind was still blowing, and the heavy stoneware vase on the front step was laying on its side, shattered. I salvaged the decorative branches that had filled it and tucked them away in the garage. I scooped up the landscaping rocks that had added weight to the vase and tossed them back into the front garden, then picked up all the broken pieces and dumped them in the trash barrel.

Kacey came home from work as I was wandering the back yard with Lucy, tossing her ball, patting her head, and asking her why she keeps sneaking into the tomato garden. (She offered no reasonable explanation.) I joined Kacey up on the deck and we watched big puffs of clouds clump together and sail across the sky, moved along by the persistent wind. I asked, “Tacos for dinner?” She said, “Yeah, that sounds good.”

I chopped onions and tomato at the kitchen counter while the ground beef defrosted in the microwave. Kacey sat at the table and chatted with me while I got the fixings ready. The kitchen radio was tuned in to the Country station and we sang along. Baby you’re a song… You make me wanna roll my windows down … and cruise…  We got a little loud and too late, remembered we had slid the patio door open to let in some fresh air. I wondered if the neighbors had heard us from where they sat out on their deck. They probably think we’re weird. Oh well.

I heard about Kacey’s work adventures while I fried the meat at the stove. Lucy scratched the screen door to go out and then remembering she missed her people, scratched it again to come in. Kacey absently reached for the door and accommodated Lucy each time. Darn dog is wearing holes in that screen.

I was putting the taco seasoning into the ground beef when there came a frantic plea from the dog to be let back in. Kacey slid the door open once more and said, “Hey, it’s raining out!” But the sun was still shining brilliantly. Lucy doesn’t like to be rained on, but Kace and I stepped outside to marvel at the sunshower that was happening in our neighborhood. It was a quick, little shower and by the time we sat down to our taco dinner, the sky had turned threatening.

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The heavy rain came then, splattering off the canvas canopy on the deck and forcing us to crank shut the living room windows. Lucy warily watched the drops pelting off the deck. The rain was keeping her away from her playground and she wasn’t happy. It was over though, by the time we cleaned up dinner. There were still some interesting looking clouds up in the sky, but the worst of it was over. I realized then how green all the yards are. The grass is lush, the trees are full. And there was a hint of a rainbow to the east.

006bThe weekend is here. There’s more rain in the forecast for Saturday, but Sunday holds the promise of sunshine. Finally, maybe, a nice day to enjoy being outside and celebrating spring! And maybe Kacey can finally wear her new shoes!

Oh Happy Day!

It is 72 degrees Fahrenheit as I write this at 4:45 pm and I am happy, happy, happy!

Lori and I escaped the office at lunch time. We slipped on our tennis shoes and took off walking down the path around the pond. The sunshine and warm breeze felt so good after months of shivering and seemingly endless days of gray, cloudy skies. We walked to Jimmy John’s, bought some sub sandwiches and then found a place to sit outside and enjoy our lunch under a flawless blue sky.

The boss was feeling generous and “ordered” us out of the office an hour early this afternoon. As soon as I got in the car, I rolled the windows down and cranked up the radio. Riding down the highway, it felt like celebration was in the air. Most of the other drivers had their windows rolled down too. We were all soaking up this bit of springtime after being deprived of it for so long! I couldn’t wait to get home and take Lucy out for a walk in the sunshine.

She was waiting for me when I got home. So was Mark, who has a new ambition to join us on our walks due to the unwanted spare tire that has grown around his middle over the winter.

Many of the neighbors were outside as we took off on our walk. They stopped to talk for a few minutes or just waved from their yards. Out on the path, we came across other walkers, with and without dogs. There were children riding bikes and scooters, or just running or skipping along the path. There were runners out welcoming the warm weather. Lucy thought they were all out to see her. She pulled toward every person and dog we came across and as they went on their way, she looked confused, as if to ask, “Why didn’t they stop to pay me some attention?”

 

It was glorious! And to think only three days ago, things looked like this!

Oh, it's SO pretty! (When it's NOT April!)

I don’t miss it. Not one little bit!

Beating a Dead Snowflake

Remember on March 5th when I arrogantly declared it the last snowfall of the season? Yeah, that was kind of stupid.

Just for the record – let me state that today is April 23, 2013. And we got more snow overnight.

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Even Lucy's enthusiasm for the snow seems to be diminishing.

Even Lucy’s enthusiasm for the snow seems to be diminishing.

Oh, it's SO pretty! (When it's NOT April!)

Oh, it’s SO pretty! (When it’s NOT April!)

Dear Snow: We are sick of you. Go away.

Dear Snow: We are sick of you. Go away.

Attempt to provide stress relief around the office.

Attempt to provide stress relief around the office.

But there’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel!

Weather Forecast

 

Do you see that? (Check out Sunday!) Sixty-Eight degrees! 

I. Am. READY!

April Snow and Other Falling Oddities

Last year we had the winter that never showed up. This year, we’ve got the opposite with a snowy season that has worn out its welcome. I swear, I’m not complaining again. I just thought I might want to look back on my blog entries someday and remember the year when we were still getting significant amounts of snowfall on April 19th!

Lucy got to be the first to initiate the new snow yesterday morning at 6:00 am went she went out to the back yard.

002bSnow flurries continued for a while yesterday morning, but eventually the sun came out again and the snow began to melt a little. On my drive home, listening to the radio, the weather man said to expect more rain and snow over the weekend, but not as much as we’d received Thursday night into Friday.

Sigh! Really? How long can this possibly continue?

And as if the weather weren’t enough weirdness…

I was in the kitchen right after getting home from work yesterday and heard Mark ask Jake, “What was that noise?”

I hadn’t heard a noise. Jake, who was stretched out across the love seat watching television merely shrugged at Mark. Mark shrugged back and they both returned their attention to the t.v.

A few minutes later, I was glancing out the living room window when I noticed something strange across the street.

012bAssuming there had been some excitement while I was at work all day, I looked at the guys and asked, “What happened around here today? How did the street light end up laying on Neighbor Bob’s roof?

Mark and Jake jumped out of their seats and came to look.

“That wasn’t like that just a little while ago,” Mark exclaimed!

Guess we figured out what that noise was. Good thing the light went over when no one was around. Neighbor Bob and his wife, Mary Jo had gone off somewhere. If they had been home, it would have been a good bet that Neighbor Bob would have been out wandering around the yard along with his dog, Jack.

I sent a text message to Mary Jo to tell her there was a street light laying on their house. Mark called the city to let them know they might want to come pick up their fallen street light. Neighbor Bob and Mary Jo were at happy hour at a nearby establishment. They said they’d come home after they finished their beers. No need to rush, I guess. I mean, what are you going to do when the damage has already been done, right?

Later, I asked Mark, “What do you think would make a big street light just fall over like that?”

Mark reminded me to think about what Jack does when he’s out in the yard with Bob. He pees on the base of the street light. Before Jack, there was Reggie. Reggie peed on the base of the street light. Neighbor Bob has lived in his corner house for twenty-some years and he’s a friend to all the neighborhood dogs. Who pee on the base of the street light.

“Dog pee can’t take down a street light,” I said to Mark in disbelief.

“Wanna bet? Dog pee is highly acidic. The bolts on the base of that light were rusted straight through.”

I guess it could happen! But what a weird thing to happen! Never a dull moment!

And at least the weather man was wrong. Today has been sunny and warm and I am grateful.

And in spite of it all, it was a good day

This morning arrived with a dark and heavy sky. The rain was already falling and when I let Lucy outside, it appeared as if it had been raining for some time. The deck, the trees, the streets – everything in sight was drenched. During the brief moments I was holding the door open for Lucy, a cold blast of air snuck inside. Just a little more than an hour later, before I left for work, I could see ice forming on the wooden decking. It promised to be an intense day.

At work, I had my head buried in a ginormous Excel workbook.  I was looking for a few needles in a haystack and was several hours into my task. I’d pinpointed the data I was looking for and had isolated it to its own worksheet when the unthinkable happened. excel error

Uuuuuggggghhhh! NO!

That’s what I get for being too confident. I was feeling pretty good, thinking I was on a big roll. I was getting all impressed with myself for tackling such a big problem in so much less time than I’d imagined. (I’m pretty new to this particular work. I like it and have a knack for it. But I need to learn to be patient!)

Had I saved my work? Not recently enough to let this roll off my back. Microsoft Excel was trying to recover my document and I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. Fifteen minutes later when the recovery progress bar seemed stuck at about 10%, I went in search of an IT guy and made him look at my screen.

“PLEASE tell me you can do something,” I pleaded.

“Eh,” he said. “If your document is really big, your system probably just doesn’t have enough horsepower to recover it quickly. Just leave it be. Hopefully it can be saved. You can work on something else while you wait.”

So I sat at my desk and willed my document to recover, but it didn’t appear to be making any progress. I knew I’d saved my work at about the half-way point. I’d learned enough by running my process the first time that I could figure out how to shortcut my work to get to the same results. So I went back to it, setting up match formulas and filtering results.

Just as I’d pinpointed all of my “needles” again, the original document recovered.

Save your work! How many times have I heard that warning? Next time I might actually remember. I think this lesson was painful enough to make it sink in.

During a brief break, I glanced outside to see that it was still raining. It was coming down steady and sideways. Later in the day, the snow began.

I buried my head again in more Excel stuff. By quitting time, my brain felt like mush and the outside world had become a winter wonderland.

The drive home was slow. The freeway was a slushy, sloppy mess and the snow seemed to be shooting from the air at my windshield. But I made it home safely. When I’d pulled into the garage, I had the strangest experience. I could hear a chorus of birds singing from the tree in the front yard. If I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine the color and warmth of spring. Except for the sound of cars slicing through the frozen muck out on the street.

We joke about the never-ending winter at work and among friends. Earlier this week, while discussing yet another forecast of snow, my pal, Lori wailed dramatically, “How will we go on?”

We all laughed, but really, I know we were all thinking it. “How will we go on?” This is crazy!

I’d be better off if I had an attitude like Lucy’s. She doesn’t even know or care what month it is. Snow makes her happy, no matter when it arrives. Maybe I could learn a thing or two from her.

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Then again, Lucy licks her butt. What does she know?