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Workweek joys:

     It was quite a surprise to hear the first cardinal song of "spring" as I walked to the bus stop Monday morning. Mostly because it feels like there hasn't been a winter yet! The weather has been crazy but I'm glad the cardinal knows what time of year it is.

     The days getting longer means I've gotten to see bits of lovely sunrises from the bus a few times this week. Quite a treat.

     Maybe it's because I'm officially an over-40 old maid spinster now, but I was amused by the sundry Valentine's Day goodies I got this year that I was not at all expecting. Valentines from Dawn and Anna at work, a card and note from Linda, and chocolates from the Towners. I certainly don't get depressed on Valentine's Day, but perhaps they think I might need cheering up. ;) So sweet of them to remember me!

     Had a memorable dinner at the Towners on Tuesday evening. Due to a near-disaster with their waterbed, they kicked off a big painting and cleaning project early, which meant we got to eat off folding trays in the basement as nearly all the furniture has been moved. I finally got to give them my single page calendar and show them photos from my California trip, and it was a good time.

     Best of all, just one day until my 24th anniversary of "meeting" t'DoL. EEEEEEEEEE!
Emotional Status:
excited excited
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Grateful for weekend blessings:
 
     Glad I finally had a weekend with no commitments. I've been wanting to do a "half day" in prayer (4 hours) for a couple months, and this weekend was my chance. It's been over a decade since I last tried it, and this time went very differently. Four hours was too short! Next time I want to take a day off and go for six hours instead, that might do it. So blessed by how well it went and the gifts I received...
 
     Bearing down on my 24th anniversary since first "meeting" t'DoL (this Friday), I've been thoroughly enjoying the commemorative wallpaper I made to celebrate my 20th anniversary. And that gave me the desire to plan out a 25th anniversary commemorative wallpaper for next year...and then I came up with an idea that just screamed to have a story with it. That's where I was Saturday morning during the worship section of my 4 hours with God when my brain got invaded by the story that goes with the picture that I haven't made yet. What a gift to get to add something new to my What's Cooking page after so long. And what a gift to receive such a beautiful story idea! I am so blessed.
 
     On Saturday afternoon I watched Free State of Jones while doing 22 miles of pedaling on my exercise bike, and despite its structural flaws as a movie, I really enjoyed it.
 
     I'm so grateful my church does livestreaming of its services now. I couldn't sleep from 1-4 am due to the female curse and was pretty ragged Sunday morning. But thanks to livestreaming, I didn't miss out! My pastor was back after breaking a vertebrae from a fall on the ice a couple weeks back, and I got to hear the first in his series on Habakkuk that I have been super geeky-excited anticipating since I learned it was coming. I love Habakkuk!
Emotional Status:
hungry hungry
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Another workweek winding down:
 
     Some nasty freezing drizzle came in Tuesday morning, but thankfully not too much before I got to the bus stop. The paths were sheets of glare ice that afternoon so I had to walk in the road instead, but at least I could drive to the ramp Wednesday and the ice melted that afternoon. Grateful it's gone and no slips.
 
     Monday night was great because I finished pass 1 in book 3, though it will be a little bit before I can get rolling with pass 2--too much on my plate at the moment.
 
     Tuesday night was also good because I finished the first draft of my soul-baring 24th anniversary essay, so it's on track to be done in time, whew.
 
     I've been appreciating the fact that I can see some predawn light as I stand at the bus stop now. Glad for lengthening daylight and any aid to spotting the ice on the paths.
 
     Also appreciating that with pass 1 complete I can actually do some reading on some of my bus rides, yay!
 
     Very grateful for a quiet week with no evening commitments. Been making progress on editing in my novella and getting stuff like my pronunciations page updated, and also got back to my overly-troublesome art project. Hoping I can keep it up with the progress this weekend...
Emotional Status:
cranky cranky
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Weekend joys:
 
     Around the beginning of January I got an answer to a topic that had been on my prayer list for a least a year. And after looking over a training guide, this weekend was when I implemented the very first steps of what will be a pretty big project. Lots of learning coming up, but I expect it will be quite rewarding as well.
 
     On Sunday my church did its first week of having a separate traditional worship service, so I headed over to check it out. Quite a good turnout and I did enjoy it, as it was a mixture of older and newer music--my "Baptist blood" misses hymns!
 
     After church I got together with Cindy--treated her for lunch at Panera thanks to a generous gift card I got for Christmas. Got to show her trip photos and give her my single-page calendar for 2017, which she really liked. Her telling me how she keeps them all and appreciates them made my day. Then, thanks to her membership, we took a walk around the zoo. I loved that there were seven wild turkeys hanging out by the bird feeders, some of them quite big, and also that there are two black wolves in the exhibit, even if they're not coal-black like Wolf Lord Ebonfel. It was a very nice time.
 
     Focused on book 3 pass 1 work a bit of this weekend in hopes of freeing up bus time for other projects...and I've passed 90%, yay!
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So glad for a payday Friday!
 
     So happy I finally finished the first draft of The Furthest Leap on Monday night. It will be great to get another story up after far too long. I had to blow a lot of dust off my stories timeline and stories description pages, ha ha!
 
     A lot of the stuff on my plate at work lately has been tedious and/or unpleasant. So I'm grateful my personal playlist of purchased worship songs on my Amazon music is past 90 minutes long now. That helps smooth the time indeed.

     A wonderful surprise late on Thursday--the Towners will be going out to San Diego this spring as part of a twins study, and they'll be using the "proximity" to visit my parents and my brother and sister-in-law. Excited about that!

     My boss was not helping my productivity this morning by sending me Amazon links, but when she said this one made her think of me she was pretty close. I wish I'd thought of it!
Emotional Status:
pleased pleased
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A fast full weekend:
     Friday night was a sweet spot, as I'd finally gotten far enough with my art project (which has been giving me loads of setbacks) that I could get Geren and t'DoL together in Poser (because I haven't even started building in Vue yet!). Then I had far too much delight doing test renders from various angles as I fine-tuned, and thoroughly reminding myself that working on art with both of them together is the happiest place in the world for me.
     Sunday was the big day. I'd invited my coworker Dawn to come to church with me, so we spent most of the day together. First church, then she got to see my place (not at all what she expected), then we went to a home consignment store I thought she'd find interesting, and after that a late lunch. It was a great day, save for making the weekend feel one day long!
     Very glad to be able to make progress with 'Furthest Leap' both Saturday and Sunday night and be (finally) bearing down on the ending. Whew!
Emotional Status:
hungry hungry
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Workweek joys:
     Finally got some more Bible verses printed out and hung up in my bathroom last weekend, and I've been quite enjoying reading them during my showers.
     Wound up having lots of social stuff this week, and it was all great. Lunch with my coworker Dawn Tuesday, lunch with my former boss Bill on Thursday (since he stood us up Tuesday). Then, best of all, dinner with the Johnson's Thursday evening. Got lots of yummy leftovers out of that too, and we had a wonderful time.
     Speaking of my former boss Bill, he gave me a late Christmas gift last week of a page-a-day official Mensa calendar of Brain Puzzlers. Catching up with that has not been good for my work productivity, ha ha! But I'm glad to be caught up now, and they are fun and maddening by turns. Definitely help with keeping the logic hat on.
     Happy that pass 1 of the third Geren book has reached 33%.
     Excited for a weekend!
Emotional Status:
busy busy
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Weekend joys:
     It took around 4 hours, but I finally got caught up with a month's worth of money stuff and it feels wonderful to not be majorly behind with anything critical. I'm looking forward to getting to focus on writing and art this week!
     I was too busy during the workweek, but on the weekend I could spare a few minutes to fix the sound on my pc. Glad it was simpler than I fear and even more glad to be able to listen to music again.
     Sunday brought the 44th anniversary of the darkest day in American history. I went to the March for Life by the capitol, but this time I had company. Colleen from my church singles group rode with me. Very gladdened by the turnout, spoiled by the above-freezing temps in January, and thrilled by the number of members from the state senate and house.
     On Sunday evening I finally got rolling again with my obstinate novella. Didn't help that I'd left off right before the nastiest scene, but hopefully now that I'm through it I can pick up speed...
Emotional Status:
rushed rushed
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Recent delights:

     Happy that my mom and I both got airfare for our trip to Florida in early March. I'm really looking forward to getting back there and seeing family...as well as manatees, gators, and other wonders...
     After a bit of prep-work Monday and Tuesday evening, the first editing pass through the third Geren book is underway! Very excited about that.

     Really enjoying RightNow Media lately, as I've been watching half-hour sessions from a six hour series on Romans 12 over my lunch. It's by the same pastor who really blessed me around two years back with his series on spiritual gifts, and now he's blessing me again. Looking forward to trying to make this a new lunchtime habit.

     Also been blessed by some digging I did in my journal and through other records of late 2011 as I prepare for my grim and ghastly 24th anniversary essay. My memory was actually correct in regard to timing (amazing!), and comparing where I am now to where I was five years closer to the hell year has been instructive.

     A real treat on the walks to the bus stop lately. With this wretched January thaw, there's a lot of refreezing going on before dawn. And that has led to the beautiful treat of the non-iced portions of roads and paths being thick with glitter from frost. The dancing sparkle as I walk under street lights is amazing! And evocative for me too, as it makes it easier to imagine what the parallel plane looks like for Jonill in the novella I'm working on.
Emotional Status:
hungry hungry
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Getting sick made my first week back a little tough, but there have been lots of highlights lately:
     I was finally able to get to the Post Office on Friday to pick up nearly three weeks worth of mail. And at least that only contained one overlooked bill, whew!
     Saturday morning I took some time to spend a few hours hashing out figures for my 'Populations' document...which was been untouched probably since 2003. All thanks to my wonderful editor's suggestions, and it will pay off even more when I have to do similar sort of work for the second Triune novel. Should have done as much years ago, ahem, but at least it is underway now!
     Saturday afternoon was quite special--headed over to my old school for the Towners' celebration of their 40th wedding anniversary. It was a good turnout and neat to talk to a few people I have not seen in years.
     Sunday brought triumph, as I was finally able to get book 2 changes done and into eBook form, only half a month after my goal (and I can blame that on moving last year, ha ha). I'm super excited to get rolling with the third Geren book, hopefully this week...
Emotional Status:
pleased pleased
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The good stuff:
     Grateful for smooth travel back home, despite there being hairy winter weather in some parts of the country. That caused a cascade effect so both of my flights were delayed, but at least not too badly.
     It was neat to land in Phoenix right as the sun was setting, and get to see parts of a beautiful sunset as I was walking around the airport.
     Very blessed to have pass two wonderful and relaxing weeks with family, and feel a bit more ready to get back into the mess at work.
     Also blessed to made the adjustment back to Minnesota time better than I hoped.
     Between flights, layovers, and longer bus rides because of winter weather, I've been making fabulous progress on pass 7 in my second Geren book. Yippee!
Emotional Status:
sick sick
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More joys...

     My parents and I got to have dinner at Macaroni and Grill thanks to a generous gift card, and I really enjoyed their mushroom ravioli. Everyone could tell, since my plate was nearly spotless when I finished!

     On Tuesday, my mom and I headed south for Solvang and Santa Barbara in my parents' nice new Subaru. On the way down we stopped at Pismo Beach. Near the shoreline, on a bunch of eucalyptus trees, is a place where thousands (@20,000 when we were there) of monarch butterflies come from as far north as Canada to spend the winter. It was neat to get photos of the amazing sight as well as marvel over their ability to all find that place! Also neat that volunteers had some high-quality spotting scopes set up so that visitors could get a very clear look, as the butterflies weren't near the ground.

     My mom and I had a fabulous time at Solvang (my third visit) and Santa Barbara (my second). I'm quite grateful to have a return to the lovely area of Santa Barbara WITHOUT getting vertigo, unlike what happened six years prior. And Solvang has only cemented its place as one of my very top favorite towns to visit. Love the shops and bakeries and beautiful surrounding countryside. At Santa Barbara our happy new discovery was the very well-done Reagan Ranch Center, as 'Rancho Del Cielo' is located nearly halfway between Santa Barbara and Solvang but quite inaccessible on dirt roads in those steep hills. Fell quite in love with the countryside on this visit, even if it is too warm for avarii. ;)

     Also grateful for safe travel there and back during the around 6 hour drives between Sacramento and Solvang, and the great time we had together.
Where I'm At:
SMF B Terminal
Emotional Status:
grateful grateful
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Lots of treats on my vacation...

     Last Thursday, my mom and I got out to the Crocker Art Museum in downtown Sacramento, which we'd talked about a number of times over the last decade, but never yet made it out there. It was fantastic. My mom and I really enjoyed the California art from the gold rush period, the older European pieces, and two of the short-term exhibits. The architecture of the portion of the museum built in the 1870s and beautifully preserved was a real treat. So was the very extensive and diverse collection of ceramics from different continents and time periods. And I'm so glad God made Franz Bischoff and he persevered with his talent because the trio of painted vases by him that we saw just blew me away.

     It was fun over two evenings to get to watch Pete's Dragon with my nieces/nephews and then with my parents, and see them enjoy it like I do.

     My wonderful mom made rice and beans Puerto Rican style with pink beans and real sofrito. That's what Heaven tastes like, right? ;)

     On New Year's Eve my mom and I got to ride with my brother and the eight oldest kids over to the Nimbus fish hatchery near Folsom Lake. It was too late to see the salmon climbing the ladder to their spawning place, but the kids had a blast feeding the young fish. Hopefully we'll come back at a better time in the future.

     Can't leave out what a treat it's been to drive my parents' brand new 2017 Subaru Forester, and get spoiled with some of the neat features. Looking forward to trying out more when we head down to Solvang...
Emotional Status:
full full
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A few highlights from the last few days...

     Blessed to have very smooth travel out to California, with no delays or mishaps. Even some amazing views of the clouds and snowy mountains on the second leg of the flight. And with a nice long layover in Denver combined with the flight times, I made great progress on pass 7 work in the second Geren book.

     Since it was not raining, my mom and I got over to the nearby Presbyterian church for the 9:00 candelit Christmas Eve service. The building is exquisite, the decorations delightful, the pipe organ a joy, and getting to sing Christmas carols in such a place was quite a treat. Very glad we could make it.

     Christmas was very quiet, low-key, relaxing...and delicious.

     Got out to my brother and sister-in-laws for a 'second Christmas' on the 26th, and it was fun to see my nieces and nephews enjoying their gifts.

     On Tuesday got to see Rogue One with my mom, and quite enjoyed it.

     A long break from work is very much appreciated!
Emotional Status:
hungry hungry
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Recent joys:
 
     A couple weeks back, motivated by the 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity class I took, I got a small elliptical trainer I could keep under my desk at work. My legs are too long to use it while I'm at my computer, but I've been using it during some of my morning breaks and part of my lunch break and I can tell it is making a difference.
 
     Friday was the big year-end/Christmas party at work, so that was the day I brought in gifts. To my great delight, my boss Sarah and my coworker Dawn really, really loved their gifts. I got three hugs, ha ha!
 
     The theme of the party was 'Whoville' from the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas. One of the games was a trivia quiz about the movie...and I had the highest score! So I actually won a small prize, which was amusing.

     And now I'm on the way to visit family for Christmas and beyond. Looking forward to some fun and refreshing time with my family and away from my job!
Where I'm At:
MSP Terminal 2
Emotional Status:
excited excited
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Not a good weekend, but there are always bright spots:
     Happy that I got my lighted Christmas tapestry up in my bedroom a week ago and am getting to enjoy it now. It goes great with the matching table runner I got recently (and the bell pull and placements I've had much longer).
     Despite the good half-foot of snow that fell Friday night, the area by my garage was plowed out enough that I could get out Saturday afternoon. Five of us from my church group went to see a musical version of 'Scrooge' at a nearby church. It was very nicely done for costumes, effects, and props, and I really enjoyed hearing all the songs so familiar to me from childhood.
     Despite the very cold air this weekend, around -18 Sunday morning and only a high of -5, my car started! So I was able to go to my church for their Christmas program, and on the way got to see a simply gorgeous and very intense sunbow/sundogs. Not a surprise in such extreme cold!
     And considering the weather, can't forget to be grateful for good heat and reliable electricity!
Emotional Status:
cold cold
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Recent joys:
     Very happy that my church started live-streaming lately, since with over 6 inches of snow Saturday night and the place where I live not doing plowing on weekends, I didn't try to dig out, but could still hear the message. What a blessing!
     Monday morning I was pleased to find that most of the path I use to get to the bus stop was already dug out by locals with their snowblowers. Just a few short stretches where I had to "wade", and those were all cleared by the city before I headed home.
     Delighted to discover recently that my old spider plant (25+ years old) likes it enough at my new place that it is putting out a flower stalk. So maybe babies will be coming down the road as well. The strawberry begonia is also happy, as is the cutting my mom gave me of her plant. Glad most of my plants are adjusting quite well.
     On Monday evening, got unstuck long enough to finally finish section 3 of 'Furthest Leap.' At last. I may just finish the entire thing before I start collecting my pension, who knows? ;)
     Tuesday evening was great, as the Towners and I had dinner at Boca Chica. I got to have my favorite cheese enchiladas, and since Joe hadn't really eaten since morning he devoured his whole plate of fajitas. It was a nice time...with beautiful views of the rising full moon as we headed out afterward.
Emotional Status:
rushed rushed
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Recent joys:

     Winter has finally made a belated appearance, and what an appearance! Temperatures dropped from feeling like something in November to more like January, with hardly a pause for breath. I got to get out my winter coat this week and have been quite appreciating it against the bitter wind. Coming up: the first big storm for my area, and overnight temps below zero in the next few days. Wow!

     Sometimes I take residential roads when I'm driving home from the park and ride ramp or after running errands. That has been a real treat, as there are lots of houses tucked away with delightful Christmas decorations up, and I keep spotting more. Gotta live vicariously through those guys, as I don't have money, time, or space for much in the way of Christmas decorations this year.

     Friday night was great because I finally finished my 2017 calendar project and got my 'test order' sent off. Got my wallpaper versions for home, work, and Starfish made up today, as well as a future Twitter banner. And now comes the time to enjoy it!

     Saturday morning I attempted a platelet donation but my iron was way too low. Yet that turned out to be a blessing, because I stopped by the Johnson's to give them a Christmas gift, and we ended up sitting and talking for hours. Nearly three! And since I had the 'extra' time that I'd expected to use for donation, I was able to just relax and enjoy it. A great "pajama party" was had by all!
Emotional Status:
content content
Reaching My Ears:
'Lux Venit' by Michael W Smith
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Weekend joys:
     It was very nice to have a quiet weekend at home in which the only place I went to was church. Got a bit of much-needed catching up done on several fronts, if not all of them.
     Been having fun playing with the mermaid pillow I got at the craft sale in early November. It's hard to photograph because of how shiny/iridescent it is, but here's some of the what I've drawn on it. Just fun!
     Had a scare Friday night when I brought in the finalized versions of the characters in my calendar project, and found the strand-based hair would not load correctly. A bit of frantic praying, a lot of quick thinking, and a few abortive tries later, I found I could get it to work if I regressed from Poser 11 to Poser 9, added an animation frame, and reran the simulation for every single gravity-influenced hair group. (Hyarmi have a lot of hair groups, believe me!) So grateful that I did not have a complete meltdown, that I found a way to get it to work nearly as well as the Poser 11 version, and that I didn't have to pull an all-nighter Friday night fighting with it!
     Very glad for the great progress I made with the project over the weekend. Hopefully the final render that I kicked off Sunday night will be the final render, it will finish in less than two days, and I'll be up to the last stages at last! Excited about that.
     Nothing about the novella I'm working on is fast, but I'm glad I was eventually able to get 'unstuck' after losing Wednesday and Thursday night at church last week. Now it's rolling again, I've passed 20,000 words, and I'm bearing down on the end of section 3. Hopefully I can keep it up this week...
     Can't forget--what a treat Sunday morning to look outside and see SNOW! Not much of it, and it's nearly gone already, but it was the lovely sort that stuck to everything, which made for a beautiful drive to and from church.
Emotional Status:
annoyed annoyed
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A pair of joys:
     Wednesday was the second annual 'Give Thanks for Food Day' in my department. This time the food theme was snacks. That was my excuse to stop by Kowalski's and get guacamole and good salsa to bring in. Part of the fun was getting to wear plaid and jeans, and then the day wrapped up with a game of Turkey Bingo.
     During the 24 hours when I lost access to my email was of course when the really wonderful items showed up in my inbox. But that was actually turned out to be a blessing. I'm grateful to God I did pretty good at not uselessly stressing about it, or wasting time and energy trying to fix it when a phone call the next day sufficed. Because that meant I made good writing progress Tuesday night. Then I spent Wednesday on the bus heading home, and before and after church that evening, reviewing the wonderful feedback I got both from my editor in response to my questions, and my last beta reader's feedback for the first Triune novel. That was particularly lovely--there should be footprints on the ceiling over my cube at work from dancing there! Because when she told me it's good enough to get traditionally published, since she's served 12 years in manuscript acquisitions and editing for a major publisher, managed an independent bookstore, and worked as an English professor--well, it's easier to give credence to her words! Big joy, thank you God!
Emotional Status:
happy happy
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