Category Archives: photography

The Hope that is Research

I have to begin this blog on a sad note. There have been personal and national tragedies that occurred since I agreed to write a blog about hope and optimism. I lost three friends to cancer in a week’s time … and last night, my city lost five police officers who were gunned down in cold blood while doing their job of overseeing a peaceful protest march. Sometimes, events make it hard to see joy and optimism, but it’s still there. We just have to look a little harder.

donna-roseEven though I will miss my friends badly, they each outlived their prognosis for stage IV lung cancer by years. The reason they beat the statistics and had years added to their lives after being diagnosed is because of the huge advances being made every single day in new treatment options.

…more…

originally published July 14, 2016

The Power of Owning a Pet

I am an animal lover. I always have been. When I was a little girl, my mother would let us have cats but not dogs. I remember frequently hugging a stuffed poodle and praying that God would turn it into a real dog.

As soon as I was on my own, I got a dog or two or three! I’ve had at least one my entire adult life. Usually, I have had two or more. They complete me. I suspect many of you know exactly what I mean.  …More…

Don’t Give Up: Taking Control of Your Life

donna-pastureI am sitting here staring at a blank sheet of paper, wondering what I have to say to you that will be worth your time reading it. I am no scientist. With the advent of chemo brain, I don’t even really enjoy reading and researching like I once did. So I have no great wisdom to impart.

What I do have to pass along is hope. Such a little word but one that has the ability to change your life. Hope crowds out anxiety and pushes away fear. It fills you with peace and can motivate you.  ….More

 

Happiness is My Normal

I was just looking at my Facebook memories. I love those! I find myself posting things I want to remember to Facebook now so that they will show up in my memories in the future. Am I the only person who does that?  More…

 

A few years ago, I wrote a number of blog posts for Patient Power. I am going to provide links to them on my blog.  Happiness is My Normal was originally posted 4/28/2016

 

 

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas, Y’all!!

I want to share The Twelve Days of Christmas with you. My friend Rose, her husband Vic, and I went to see the amazing display at the Dallas Arboretum on Wednesday night. If you have followed my blog much, you know that the Arboretum is one of my favorite places to go. I love to go and spend time in the gorgeous, no matter the season.

My beautiful friend Rose. Isn’t her name appropriate? She is definitely as lovely as a rose.

But, it is especially special at Christmas, when you can enjoy the extravagant display of The Twelve Days of Christmas. When I can go with friends, so much the better!!

Despite the popularity of the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, I must confess that I can never remember the lyrics. In case you are like me, I will post them here, along with some photos I took. Truthfully, it is a song I never liked much, but I love the display at the Arboretum. I hope you will too!

Merry Christmas 2017

The Christmas extravaganza at the Dallas Arboretum made its debut in 2014. I keep wondering how much longer it will be displayed. Because I never know if this will be the last year it will be seen, I try to see it with new eyes every time I go. I have shown you pictures in blogs from visits I made to the display in past years.

Ho-Ho-Ho

The $1.6 million display took two years to complete. You will see why when you see some of the detail in the of the exhibition.

Santa Claus made his debut this year (or, at least, it is the first time I have seen him). That’s what is so fascinating about the Arboretum. No matter how often I go, I always find new things to enjoy.

In addition to the twelve 25-foot Victorian-style gazebos that house the Twelve Days of Christmas displays, there are 500,000 lights illuminating the park and a 30-foot tall tree is found in the center of the property.

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Taking a Day Away from Cancer

Do you take a day away from cancer? Where your cancer is not front and foremost in your mind? I do. Actually, I take lots of days like that. It isn’t that I ever forget that I have cancer, because I don’t. Always, in the back of my mind is the fact that my body is hosting an intruder that could decide to kill me at any given moment. But, while the knowledge is there, I refuse to dwell on such thoughts.

I have a philosophy about cancer. I figure that if I don’t let it rob me of my life while I’m still alive, then I win and it loses. I might someday “lose my battle against cancer,” but I’m going to win all of the little skirmishes along the way!! I won’t give it any more of my time on this earth than I absolutely must.

I keep my calendar pretty full of activities that I want to do. Unfortunately, some tasks that I need to do, but don’t want to do, do not make it to the calendar. Things like cleaning house. Or cooking meals… I wish I had enough money to hire a maid and a cook!!

One of the things I love to do most is go to the Dallas Arboretum and take pictures. I don’t know if I will accomplish my goal or not, but I am hoping that I will make it out there at least once every month. I want to document how the garden grows throughout the year.

I have never been that it isn’t beautiful. Of course, here in Dallas, our winters are fairly mild usually … but our summers can be brutal. It is amazing that the master gardeners who keep the arboretum growing are able to keep it gorgeous even when the unrelenting sun beats down and temperatures soar to well over 100 degrees for weeks on end. But, they do!

This month, a friend and I spent about six hours exploring the property. We went places I have never been, but we missed a lot of places that I usually see. I am nearly certain that I could visit the Arboretum every single week and still miss seeing areas. Everywhere you look, there is something worthy of your attention. Have I said it? It is incredible!!

When I arrived home from our visit, I immediately popped my SD card into my computer so that I could begin to download the pictures I took this visit. I knew I must have taken a bunch. For the first time ever, I exhausted the battery to my camera. Sure enough, there were nearly 900 pictures waiting to be transferred!! A few were blurry; a few were basically duplicates; but mostly, they are worth keeping.

Last month, the tulips were in bloom. Everywhere. They were splendid. Absolutely gorgeous. This month, the maples are awesome and the azaleas nearly beyond description. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to capture with my camera just how beautiful the azaleas were. So many colors and in prolific bloom. Somehow, my pictures just do not do them justice. For that, I am very sorry.

Besides the plants, the structures and features of the Arboretum never fail to fascinate me. Most of them I see every time I visit, but they never bore me. And, then there are the birds, the squirrels, and the bugs, particularly lady bugs and bees, that capture my attention. Many of the birds and squirrels are so accustomed to humans that they nearly pose for the camera! Even the bees are so busy collecting pollen that they ignore the fact that I’m sticking a camera lens into their space.

This year, I have documented every visit to the Arboretum with a little video made from some of the stills I took. I’ll post the three that I have made so far here, in case anyone wants to watch. I hope some of you will enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed making them!

I saw someone else’s video yesterday that I really liked much better than mine, so next month, I will be trying something a little different. If I remember … gotta love chemo brain. Stay tuned.

At any rate, taking a little time to watch will hopefully take you away from any cares and troubles you might have for just a brief moment. God’s magnificence shows in every picture.

(I actually didn’t decide to document every month of the year until it was too late to go to the Arboretum in January. I did the next best thing and visited very early on in February!)

February 3, 2016

The trees are still mostly bare, though some are beginning to bud, despite the fact that it is still wintertime. Our weather doesn’t support the calendar month! It has been unseasonably warm the entire season. That doesn’t bode well for us, I am afraid, when summer hits.
Despite the fact that many of the trees had no leaves, there were plenty of pansies, daffodils, and roses to lend color to the gardens. And, you can tell that it won’t be long before the beds will be aburst in color.

March 2, 2016

The tulips were phenomenal. At every turn, you wondered if it could get any more beautiful. Just amazing!! Among the tulips, daffodils waved and hyacinths spread their sweet perfume. If you don’t watch any other video, watch this one!

 

April 1, 2016

I actually did two videos of the April visit. There is a bit of duplication between the two, but not a lot. I shared the first video on my Facebook page. It is a little longer than the second one … and it doesn’t have as many azalea pictures. I did a second video because I wanted a shorter version to share on WhatNext. When I went through the pictures again, I mostly chose different ones than I used the first time. I should probably make a decision and share only one of the two videos for the April 1st visit, but I will leave it up to you which to watch, if any. (This is what happens when you come home with so many photographs that you simply can’t choose which are favorites!!!)

Video 1. It is over 5 minutes long. And has music (which I love). It also will have ads because of the music… There were lots of robins on the grounds this visit. I love robins so I took lots of pictures of them! And, even though most people think of grackles as pests, I like them, so I take their pictures, too! Squirrels fascinate me as do bees, so you’ll see plenty of both here. And, oh yeah!! You’ll see tulips, pansies and petunias, azaleas, and much more. There are also more of the water features included in this video than in the shorter one (below).

 

Video 2. No music. And a minute shorter! 🙂 There are more pictures of azaleas here and fewer pictures of birds and squirrels (though, there are some! – the animal lover in me could never leave them out entirely).

Happiness and HOPE

I have been so busy this December that I have had absolutely no time to sit and blog. That’s both a blessing and a shame. I love documenting my journey here. It is interesting to me to look back and see where I have been and what I have been doing.

One side effect that you always hear about when you hear about chemo is chemo brain. Well, I have it! My memory sometimes doesn’t last through a thought, much less an hour or a day! If something isn’t documented on my calendar or on Facebook or here … it might as well have not happened. Sad, but true. (Some tell me that this is not a symptom of chemo and is, rather, a side effect of getting old…)

I am waiting on my son and his girlfriend to arrive now. We are going to go to Texas Discovery Gardens and see the butterflies and maybe the gardens there. It is a fun place to visit. I haven’t been for quite some time so I am excited. I’ll no doubt be posting pictures of butterflies soon!

The Butterfly Garden at Texas Discovery Gardens is kept quite warm. Fortunately, it is not supposed to get very hot outside today … and, at least at the moment, it is overcast. The butterflies are usually not as active when it is cloudy so I hope it remains grey outside! (Sorry to any sun lovers out there!!)

The purpose of today’s post is to put up some pictures I took a week or two ago at the Dallas Arboretum. I met a friend there and we spent hours and hours – daylight and night-time – walking the gardens. It is gorgeous, especially right now. There is a huge display for the 12 Days of Christmas. You have to see the displays to believe them, but maybe later I will post some of the pictures I took.

Kim and I had so much fun taking pictures. I came home with over 1000!! Yes! One-thousand plus! I finally looked at about three-quarters of them yesterday. And now I am getting ready to go take lots more pictures. I may never catch up!

Today’s post, though, is for my yellow flower and bee pictures! I was thinking about them while I was getting ready a few minutes ago. I love yellow flowers. They brighten my spirit. In fact, I love the color yellow (except when the sun is beating down yellow sunlight and heat … I hate Texas heat). So, what I was wondering about while dressing was why I always say my favorite color is blue. It doesn’t lift my spirits like yellow does. Oh, the things one thinks about while putting on mascara!

Hope

God’s creations give me hope. Especially God’s creations that are yellow! 🙂 Just joking, mostly.

The bees and flower pictures send me in search of quotes. Keep in mind that these pictures were taken in mid-December. The flowers do not look like winter flowers, do they? And, I don’t really expect to see bees in the wintertime. But, these bees were prolific and very, very active. Just the fact that the flowers and bees are a bit of an anomaly in December imparts hope to me. Does it affect you that way?

Finding Rick Warren’s quote (above) about hope was perfect. Because, absolutely, God’s grace is the reason for my hope. Every single day. Every single moment. Even when we don’t know what is in His Master Plan, He knows. He is in control. No matter what. He has us in His Hands. That knowledge gives me great peace. I have no reason to worry. God’s got this! No matter what “this” is.

 

Now, I have no clue who Robert Green Ingersoll is, but I liked the quote … I felt like it was appropriate for this picture.  Don’t you know people who go through life without hope? They see the negative in everything. They drag through life. And, you have to wonder how they can make it through each day. Or, I do.Complainers and those who are just never happy make me nervous and stressed.

I can’t imagine always looking at the dark side of life. I prefer to look to the positive. And, those are the people to whom I gravitate. I have friends who are facing tremendous challenges. Their lives are hanging in the balance as lung cancer battles to take them. And, yet, they brag on how wonderful their lives are, how special their friends are, how lucky they are.

I love them. I pray for them to win. But, in reality. They’ve already won. Their cancer is getting very little of their time and attention. They aren’t allowing it to steal a single moment of their happiness or contentment while they have breath.

One of the friends I am thinking of now has published a book about her journey with cancer. She is such a wonderful person, a true advocate for lung cancer awareness.  She looks on the bright side of life. Someone wrote a heartbreaking comment to her on Amazon. They told her they couldn’t believe anyone could be so upbeat while facing a deadly disease. And, they criticized her for expressing joy, accusing her of making other cancer patients feel bad if they don’t share her upbeat attitude.

Really?? The note’s author would rather read depressing tomes about lung cancer and its effects. I feel pity for him or her. And, I feel even sorrier for the person he knows that is battling cancer. A downtrodden attitude, in my opinion, allows cancer to win. And robs the person of life while they are still alive.

Well … I choose Happiness and HOPE. Now and, hopefully, until I breathe my last breath.

Below, I am just going to post more happy yellow flowers and bees. There probably won’t be much more commentary so, unless you want to see the pictures, you can probably stop here!

 

 

The trees have lost their leaves, but these flowers spring forward, offering color and nectar.

 

 

 

 

Notice the huge leaves at the bottom of the tall stalks! I wish I had gotten the name of these flowers. I would like to have some somewhere at my house.

 

 

 

 

Sharing

 

I think the leaves look like lily pads!

 

 

 

Gorgeous maple trees provide the background to these lovely yellow flowers.

 

These flowers are a different kind … but yellow, nonetheless!

Make today a joyful day!

HOPE

I just got back from New Mexico where my husband and I went to visit our son. I drove 2,158 miles from Friday to Thursday. I’m a little tired now … having trouble recouping from a busy, busy week!

But, I can do this!! And I am proud that I can!

It is so funny. While we were in New Mexico, I had a burning desire to write a blog. I had several in mind that I couldn’t wait to get onto paper.

Here I am now. Sitting at the computer. Trying my hardest to remember even one of the ideas I had. All I can remember right now is that they were really good ideas!

Ugh!!!

New Mexico

I love to go to New Mexico. Where our son lives, it is very majestic. It is also very dirty. Dirt is everywhere. There is barely any grass or anything. Just dirt. Everywhere!

Taken from the parking lot of our hotel in Las Cruces. Beautiful.

 

A park in or near Cruces.

 

At the Valley of Fire

Darn it all! The pictures make it appear that there IS grass. Maybe you just have to trust me … there is NOT! I didn’t think about taking pictures of the desert. I spent more time taking closeups of flowers that I found. Hopefully, next time, I will remember to take some pictures that show how desolate and how much dirt there is. Everywhere.

 

These were taken on a little dirt road off of I25 and beside Denny’s. My son asked me to never go here again. Apparently homeless gather nearby and there have been several murders. Oops.

I imagine by now anyone who has read my blog knows that I love to take pictures of flowers. I found some beautiful ones out in the desert. It meant a lot to me to find them. I am a big believer in HOPE. The flowers that manage to grow in these dire conditions – heat (it was over 100 every day we were there), drought, sand – give me hope. Because despite dreadful odds, they thrive!

 

Purple cactus. Isn’t it beautiful?? I’ve never seen anything like it! According to Wikipedia, the color results from stress due to  drought or cold. Trust me! It wasn’t cold!!!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opuntia_macrocentra

 

 

Whatever this tree is, it is blooming. (See above for closeup of bloom)

 

Pecan trees are thriving here. There are orchards and orchards of them in New Mexico.

I took pictures of both native plants and those that were growing at our hotel in Las Cruces. Here are some of the pictures of the plants at the Staybridge Suites where we stayed one night (GREAT room for a really good price). We arrived there from Dallas at about 1 AM. I discovered how pretty it was the next morning (or, actually, later that same morning!) when I woke up! Majestic; looking out and seeing the mountains in the distance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The flowers were flourishing, despite the intense heat. I was pretty surprised at how beautiful they were.
But, there were others that were thriving without any help from man. I took the pictures below in Elephant Butte/Truth or Consequences or Valley of Fire.
This is technically probably not a wild plant. It was planted in the parking lot of the Comfort Inn and Suites where we stayed in Truth or Consequences. I took LOTS of pictures of it because I love to capture bees.

 

Soon, there will be sunflowers here!!! I think sunflowers are happy flowers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A cone flower!!! Just growing out in the desert!

 

 

Birds liked this plant with its berries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are some from Valley of Fire. There weren’t many where we were. If we had gotten to go on the hike, we doubtless would have come across more, as well as lizards and other wildlife. As it was, the most I saw were some birds and butterflies … and grasshoppers. And a bee/wasp or two.

 

You can’t tell by the photo, but this was huge! It was really pretty!

 

The bees or wasps sure liked this little flower.

 

 

 

 

A butterfly on this prickly cactus! You would think it would get stuck by the needles!

 

New Mexico has some awesome scenery. As I drove through it, I had to wonder how someone can look at those majestic, mighty mountains and not believe in God. What a creator He is!
One geologic wonder is Valley of the Fires in Carrizozo, New Mexico. As you are driving through the desert on US Highway 380, you suddenly look around and notice a lot of black rock that looks like lava. At first, you think you must be seeing things. But, soon, you are in a huge field of what just has to be lava.
The trail is visible behind the rocks.

 

 

 

It is incredible!!! You drive for a few miles and the black molten rock is all around you. But, just as quickly as you entered it, it ends. It is really something! I’ve been there three times and I remain amazed!

According to the BLM:

Approximately 5,000 years ago, Little Black Peak erupted and flowed 44 miles into the Tularosa Basin, filling the basin with molten rock. The resulting lava flow is four to six miles wide, 160 feet thick and covers 125 square miles. The lava flow is considered to be one of the youngest lava flows in the continental United States. http://www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/roswell/valley_of_fires.html

If you are interested in learning more, I think this link might be one of the better ones:
https://geoinfo.nmt.edu/tour/landmarks/carrizozo/home.html

If you have a chance to go, visit New Mexico! It is a beautiful land. It is a very impoverished land, as well. However, I saw evidence of HOPE throughout my visit. Whether it was from children growing up in an RV park, living in a tiny travel trailer, but smiling and having a blast or a flower growing out of rock, there was joy, there was hope. Cancer feels real small when you’re standing before a gigantic mountain.

In the middle of difficulty, liesOpportunity

 

“You can cut all the flowers, but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”

Albert Einstein once said, “In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.” I believe that. Do you?

The fact is that while I would never choose to have cancer, it has presented many opportunities for which I am very grateful. Isn’t that something?

My motto has been and continues to be, “I have cancer, Cancer doesn’t have me.” What’s that mean?, you ask. Well, it means that I try hard not to be defined by cancer. I try to live my life to the fullest.

In fact, in my way of thinking, every moment I spend worrying or fretting over having cancer is a moment where cancer wins this battle. It robs me of my joy for that length of time. I don’t know how much time I have left here on this earth (none of us do). But, what I know is that I want to make the most of every moment that I’m here!

Cancer has allowed me the opportunity to finally concentrate on me, not on everyone else around me. I always worked a job or two and put 110% of myself into it. With family obligations taking up the remaining hours in the day, there was just never really any time left over for Donna.

But, having cancer allowed me to quit working. What a blessing that was, especially since my job had gone from good to very, very bad with changing regimes. Politics. Aren’t they great? (NO!!!) For the first time in my adult life, I have had the time to do things that make me happy. And I have enjoyed that to the max!!!

You probably have already figured out what those things are that make me happy.

I’ll just state right at the beginning, my joy comes from the Lord. He is the reason for my happiness. He is the reason I do not worry about dying or about having cancer. He is the reason I can enjoy all of the activities listed below. Without the peace I have from Him, none of the rest of this would be possible.

Agility

 

I love, love, love agility. I found this sport late in life. I had really only just gotten started in it when I found out I had cancer. Barney and I were trialing nearly every weekend and sometimes Cotton came along! (She got to come along more often then than now … the one bad thing about this retirement stuff is that my income decreased by two-thirds. I have to be much more frugal than I used to be … talk about a hard lesson!!)

Barney was then and is now a superb agility partner. That little dog has a huge heart. He will play with me, over and over and over again, until I can’t go any longer. He tries so hard to please. Always, his goal is to make me happy. Because if mama is happy, everyone is happy! Seriously, he loves agility, but mostly he loves me and he wants to do what pleases me.

I was initially taught that running agility meant running alongside your dog, directing him or her to do whatever the next obstacle in the sequence was. Many venues require that you stay fairly close by your dog in order to direct him over the obstacles correctly. My venue of choice, NADAC, is a little different. It allows you to work away from your dog.

Running your dog with distance between you and him is a completely different way of handling. My personal belief is that it is more difficult to teach your dog to run without you right beside him. It is especially challenging when the dog has first been taught to work right beside you.

Barney and I are in the process of learning to work at a distance from one another. I practiced my new skills some at the Run As One trial over the Memorial Day weekend. The video above shows our runs from Sunday of the three day trial.

Practicing our newly learned skills at distance (we are still very new in the learning process) is only part of what made me smile at the Memorial Day trial. The other is that I had the stamina to go help set-up for the trial on Friday, run four runs on Saturday, return Sunday morning for three more runs, finish with three runs on Monday … and stay to help tear down and load up all of the equipment. Previously, I had only tried to trial one day for fear of being too tired the following day. REmarkABLE!!! I am so blessed.

Gardening

I wish I had a dollar for every time Robert suggested I start a garden. I always refused. I was just not interested. Then, this spring, I changed my mind. I don’t even know why I decided this was the year I wanted to plant tomatoes and cucumbers and squash and zucchini. We have watermelon and cantaloupe and bell peppers. And okra. And something that I no longer remember what it is!!! I can’t wait for its fruit or vegetable to appear so I will know just what it is!!

I know nothing about gardening. Like a bull in a china cabinet, my typical way of doing things, I just started buying plants and putting them out in the ground. I STILL know nothing, but I am fortunate that my plants seem not to care all that much.

Here are some pictures I took this morning. I go out and look every single day. I take pictures at least a couple of times a week. Sometimes more often! The little fruits and vegetables are like my babies! I love watching them … except for an impatient person like myself, it is also a bit of a challenge!

Now that the sun has begun shining again, the ‘maters are ripening!

 

The herb garden. Yum!!!

 

Zucchini? Squash? Cucumbers? All of the above?

 

Squash … some will be ready for picking very soon!
More tomatoes that will soon be ripe enough to pick and eat!

 

Yellow zucchini. The plant thrived while it rained daily. Not looking so good now.

 

The bell pepper!!! It will ultimately be a red pepper. There’s only one on the bush!

 

Watermelon. This plant has not always looked as healthy.
My Meyer Lemon Tree. What fun!

 

Baby lemons!!

I am learning as I go. Next year, I hope I learn from some of my mistakes. I crowded things this year. They looked so small and so widely spaced when I first planted them. Do I hear you laughing???? If you have done much gardening, I am sure you are!

I have been reading that you should plant certain plants with one another … and shouldn’t combine others. Next year, I hope to have an organized plan! This year, I just walked down the rows at Lowe’s and chose plants that would produce vegetables or fruit that I thought I might want to eat.

I gave away some of the first fruits of my labor. Carol got a bag with squash, zucchini, and a couple of tomatoes. I plucked a little tomato off of the vine yesterday morning as I was walking out of the backyard to the car. I gave that to Linda. I THINK I am going to have plenty to share. I hope so.

Photography

I guess it is pretty obvious from my blog that I enjoy photography! Having cancer has opened my eyes to all of the beauty that surrounds us. I love to take my camera and just explore the backyard. I NEED to take my camera and explore a little further away than my backyard!! But, for now, I have been content to wander through the yard and take pictures of dogs, flies, bees, flowers, fruits, and veggies … and an occasional lizard. Hopefully, there will be no opportunities to snap a photo of a snake.

The pictures below were taken this morning. I originally grabbed the camera because I saw the bees inside the flowers of the squash plant. I thought they were certainly worth a few pictures!! As long as I was out there with the camera, I explored a bit more!

I love these delicate little flowers. No clue what they are.

 

Another little flower that I think is pretty. It is some wildflower that I planted.

 

This plant and the one below speak to me. This little weed is growing out of the brick wall!

 

This petunia came from I don’t know where. Like the little flower above, it is growing in a crack in the brick wall. Perseverance. At its best

 

That frog is lucky it is in the water. Cotton was VERY interested in it!

 

We have so many of these bugs. I don’t know what they are, but they sure like my new garden.

 

Flies like the garden too.

 

I love quotes. I love photography. On occasion, I try to combine the two. These are the bees that initially sent me running for the camera.

 

Other Interests

My calendar is usually very full. I don’t like to have very many days when I don’t have something to do. Currently, I have agility class twice on Tuesday and once on Friday. I may have to quit going to the Tuesday night class – it is more traditional agility (where you run right beside your dog) and I don’t want to mess up what Barney and I are learning with our distance. We are going to be taking a break from our Friday class as well. It has just gotten too hot. So, for the summer, we will rely on practicing at the park at 7 AM rather than going to class at 10:30.

On days that I don’t have agility, I love to meet my friends for lunch and/or the movies. I rarely ever saw a movie before I retired. But, since I have been retired, I have been lucky enough to go to quite a few.

Walks. Linda and I complain nearly every single morning when we meet about how we didn’t want to come! We meet at 6:30 AM now that it has gotten so hot. We never want to get up. But, once we are at the park and walking, we’re glad we made the effort. The dogs love their walks as well. And, it is so good for us! On days that I don’t walk, I usually just waste the time that I would be spending getting some exercise. And, boy oh boy, do I need exercise!!

You should see my Kindle app. I have so many books on there just waiting on me to read them. I keep buying them for those times when I might not feel like doing the things I am doing now. I hope that day doesn’t come for a long time. But, when it comes, I’m prepared!!!

Opportunity

So back to the title of this post. “In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.” Cancer is my difficulty. But, oh the opportunities it has brought with it! If I hadn’t been diagnosed with cancer, I would still be plugging along at a job that I had grown to hate instead of enjoying every waking moment! There’s just never enough time to get everything done that I want to do! Even now! But, now all of the moments are full of things that I love to do.

Hedonistic? I feel like maybe so. But, I also think that I deserve the bliss I am experiencing now. Not because I have cancer, but because I have worked so very hard all of my life. It is wonderful to have the OPPORTUNITY to work hard at having fun instead of at a job.

Pictures from the Backyard

When I was diagnosed with lung cancer, I had to quit doing my most favorite thing in the world – playing agility with my dogs. I simply didn’t have the strength or the stamina for it. It broke my heart because when I quit doing agility, I also quit hearing much from the people I thought were my friends. Unfortunately, there are lots of things about cancer than cause pain besides tumors. Losing your friends, or those you considered friends but who turned out to be acquaintances, is one of the hardest. I’ve been fighting this battle for over 2-1/2 years and it still hurts.

But, that’s not what this post is about. I quit doing agility, but I was determined to have something to do to occupy my thoughts. I refuse to dwell on the fact that I have lung cancer. I spent quite a lot of time in my backyard. It is a peaceful, happy place. I love it back there. I bought lots of pretty flowers and hung bird feeders.

The flowers brought color to my world and the birds that visited my feeders brought joy. I didn’t have any energy, but it didn’t take any to sit in the backyard and enjoy what God has created. In fact, spending time relaxing in all of the beauty rejuvenated me.

Pretty soon, I decided I wanted to capture the memories so I brought the camera out. With the help of an excellent photographer friend of mine from Midland, I practiced using the various settings on the camera. What I haven’t learned – then or now – is how to use any of the software that allows you to REALLY enhance your work. I know I need to learn, but I always put it off. Chemo brain dissuades me from doing many things that require a great deal of learning and concentration.

I seem to be getting distracted a lot tonight. Tonight’s post is titled “Pictures from the Backyard” and that’s what I want to talk about!

Throughout my journey, I have snapped a lot of shots in my backyard. I am a prolific picture taker and I am not usually inclined to get rid of any of them! I have thousands and thousands of pictures. Don’t start groaning! I don’t intend to post them all here!

But, I took some today that I want to share because I enjoyed taking them and I enjoyed seeing them when I loaded them onto the computer. I hope you might enjoy them as well.

Abstract! I did this by spinning the lens while the shutter was open. I like it!

 

This is the flower that is in the center of the spin art above. It is a Dahlia.
This bud will ultimately open into a bloom like the one above. Beautiful!

 

 

Canna and Asiatic lilies — bring joy to my life!
Close-up of the canna.
Asiatic lilies. They are gorgeous, but they really don’t last very long. I enjoy them while they are blooming!

 

I take lots of pictures of the little lemons. They fascinate me!

 

 

A butterfly weed

 

Another butterfly weed
A close-up of the bud above. I love all of the teeny flowers!

 

A third butterfly weed. The three butterfly weed plants are supposed to attract monarch butterflies and give them a place to lay their eggs. Unfortunately, I have seen not one butterfly on the plants. Lots of flies and bees though. You’ll see those later 🙂

 

 

A beautiful  dianthus bloom. Right after a rainstorm.

 

More dianthus. I love these little flowers that just keep on keeping on.

 

 

This picture and the one above are lemon tree blooms. You have missed a true blessing if you have never gotten to smell lemon tree blooms. They smell so good! And, they’re beautiful, I think.
Close-up of a marigold. My marigolds have not enjoyed the torrential rains we have had lately.

 

 

 

Cool Shots

 

I love playing with the camera. The following shots are me playing. Just practicing and playing!

 

 

A raindrop about to fall)

 

Flies and bees love this flower.

 

Flies? Bees? Very lovely green color, whatever they are!

 

This flower is supposed to attract butterflies and bees. Instead, there are flies, flies, and more flies!

 

 

 

Same for these flowers. They are supposed to attract butterflies/hummers. Instead, I get flies and whatever the green bug is!

 

 

 

 

 

This butterfly just happened to fly up when I was outside taking pictures. Think he is pretty (in a dull sort of way) so I followed him from plant to plant taking his picture!