Weekend Challenge

As there are mere hours left in this weekend (they always seem too short. Why is that? Because they are.) I want to remind you of the challenge I wrote about here.

Find something beautiful and cherish it.

Life is short and we take it for granted.  This does not mean a last minute, over priced Caribbean cruise is in order. Beauty might be right across town.

Here was my yesterday: I drove through the late morning dust as tomatoes were harvested. Across the street jalapenos were growing and I couldn’t help but think if a truck carrying onions were to crashed here: instant salsa!  A little bit later I passed the walnut grove, the railroad tracks, bypassed town completely and headed west toward the hills.  There I encountered flowers (swarming with bees! gulp.), statues, entry gates and wild chickens that made bushes shake and me nervous, a beautiful home I had to turn around to capture on film and a, shall we say, amusing cause of death.

It’s hard to explain. Here is my day in pictures:

you want to become my salsa... I know you do
you want to become my salsa... I know you do
rustic gate
rustic gate
killed by the Indians incidentally
killed by the Indians incidentally
yes, I went to the cemetary
yes, I went to the cemetery
amazing
view from the cemetery
I want to live here
I want to live here

All that in 90 minutes, 30 miles and 20 pictures I have to cherish.  What did you do this weekend?

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County Fair

My County Fair is coming up soon and I’ve decided to submit two photos to the original photography contest:

Contestant #1
Contestant #1

and…

Contestant #2
Contestant #2

I’ll let you know if I win anything!

MSN’s loss…

… is your gain!

Let me explain.

Occasionally (read: often) when I write a post on MSN I’ll hit “post” and nothing will happen. The computer will erase all my words and my brain is already whirled on to another of the six open windows I have going on.

Then I get mad because all the wonderful things I wrote are gone! Granted this never happens when I’m screaming at someone for being an idiot – those posts will never get deleted.

So instead of going back to find the thread and recollect my thoughts I wanted to share something here. Because you are my people and a captive audience! (especially the captives in the basement!)

The question was how do you stay focused on debt payoff?

While many of the answers dealt with mind tricks and bank strategies I took a different approach.

My answer was focus on the things that make you happy and don’t cost money.

The best example I can give is a digital camera. Now, almost everyone I know who is in debt has a digital camera or three lying around the house. Pick it up, add some rechargeable batteries and a memory card and get thee out of the house.

*out of the house means no catalogs begging to be opened, snacks to be snacked upon or commercials to taunt you*

Take a walk, a drive, a jog, hell, pogo stick to the park. Whatever. Wherever. Go until you find something beautiful. Something breathtaking. Maybe it’s a summer sunset after a shower:

DSCI0039

I did not pay for the sunset, ask for the rain or charge a memory, I just wondered upon it.

As you’re out walking, unless you have extreme allergies, take time to stop and smell flowers. Compliment a gardener on their work, look closely at the petals and be careful not to suck a honeybee into your nose.

DSCI0026

Do you like unique architecture and dream of owning a home?  Then take some pictures of inspiring houses you see.  This is one of my favorites from my town:

DSCI0067

This exercise is not about getting the perfect shot or catching your neighbor and selling them the prints via blackmail. It’s not even about utilizing a camera you already own or spending time not worrying about money.

This is all about seeking and finding things that are beautiful and appreciating what you find.

When your focus is not on what you own, how new it is, what the guy across the street bought, what’s on sale, how many hours until payday and just how long until I’m out of debt? then you can find yourself relaxing a bit and enjoying the journey. You can certainly be Dave Ramsey’s gazelle and have that focus and drive to become and stay debt free. But if you ignore the scenery around you someday you might find yourself running ahead of the pack alone, debt free and miserable.

Life is a Highway

Specifically, a long drive in a single car down a narrow country road in the dark that doesn’t end until (pardon the pun) you hit a dead end.
Tonight on my drive I found myself contemplating the headlights, the way they cut through the darkness and provide illumination.

Yes, I ponder weird things when I drive.

While headlights give us some sense of where we’re going or what’s ahead they’re not much help when a deer bolts into the roadway and certainly can’t foretell an earthquake.

In my life, both financial and otherwise, I have lights to illuminate the darkness, to provide a hint of where I’m going. But most of the road before me is shrouded in darkness.

I passed a police car with obnoxious lights flashing in the night and thought about signs.

There are lots of signs, even on a country road. There are speed limits signs and caution signs, hospital ahead signs and beware of killer rock avalanche signs. Sometimes we take in that knowledge but don’t really care, other times ignore it completely. Of course following the rules and slowing to 20 freakin’ miles per hour for a turn doesn’t guarantee you’ll never have an accident.

Finally, I thought about my car. Trusty and dusty, it gets good gas mileage and the heater works well. I thought about driving this night in a 1970 red Cadillac convertible with the top down. Someday maybe. In our lives we get one vehicle to see us through, one body. And though we might upgrade some parts, buff out the unslightly areas and hopefully bathe it often, we’re still left with just one body for all those miles. It’s okay to punch up the dial to 90 mph sometimes, to idle at a stop sign wondering which way to go. But like every machine we should focus on steady progress, regular maintenance and driving Miss Daisy as if there’s no trade in option.

Pretty pictures

This last weekend I travelled south to visit my grandparents and celebrate grandpa’s 89th birthday!  As they were out garage sale-ing when I arrived I had the chance to take some amazing pictures of their garden. My photography doesn’t do their gardens justice but here we go:

palms
palms
close up
close up
striped rose
striped rose
a secret garden
a secret garden
old orange tree
old orange tree
fruit overload
fruit overload

And finally, a picture of something else small and furry:

Cute I am. Futile resistance is.
Cute I am. Futile resistance is.

99 days – work in progress

A few more things accomplished this week. After getting a lot of the little tasks out of the way in June it was time to finish a few of the more complicated items.

I didn’t have a mop…. so I found one I liked at a good price and ta da!

27      Mop kitchen floor                                            Kitchen – DONE July 10th

Paint prep is brutal. Lots of cleaning, taping, throwing up plastic on the walls and drop cloths on the floors. It took 3 coats but I finally finished:

52      Paint closet header white                                  Office – DONE July 10th

53      Paint door trim                                               Office – DONE July 10th

That makes a grand total of 59 items completed on the list! Now that I’m at nearly 60% complete with this list it’s time to hit the harder items that involve a larger time commitment.  Such as…

Today we tested the sprinkler system in the backyard and I cleaned out more of the dead grass and branches. My goal this week is to complete:

7        Plan backyard hardscapes                                 Yard

And I’m slowly narrowing down my favorite pictures and scanning them so I can check off:

57      Finish filling picture frames                                 Hallway

My uncle is back in town and was kind enough to give me an interview for a newspaper article I wrote on A/C maintenance. He will hopefully be helping me with

62      Program A/C unit                                                    Hallway

A little more prep work this week; I printed out my rental history at the video store, I’m moving books from the shelves so I can paint in the office and cataloging as I go and I am nearly done transferring photos (4GB already done!).  By next weekend I should have finished:

90      Catalog books I own                                         Online/Other

96      Update movie database with films I’ve watched    Online/Other

98      Organize my photos and backup on USB drives      Online/Other

Of course I bought 3 new books today so it’s a work in progress – just like me!

I purposely excluded items that have to be done and redone like dishes, laundry and vacuuming. Right now I’d love to mop the bathrooms, wash the mini blinds and finish up some painting but my parents are sleeping. Sigh. I guess tomorrow is soon enough!