Weekly Photo Challenge: Wishing You a Happy New Year with a Photo Year in Review.

I remember a little conversation I had with myself on December 31, 2011. I made a mental note, almost a declaration, that I was going to do all I could to slow down. I was not going to rush from one calendar event to the next. There would be no talk about “how time flies.”

I was about as determined as I could be to savor the moments and enjoy the year.

Despite my self-talk, time DID fly. In fact, this year passed in what feels like record time, and yet I discovered that at the same time I DID savor so many precious moments. This was a challenging year for our family, but it was also a very good year. A happy year.

I don’t always have time to follow WordPress topic prompts, but when it was suggested I might enjoy the weekly photo challenge: My 2012 in Pictures, I thought that would be fun. I spend a lot of time looking back at favorite photos, so I decided to play along.

Here are some of my favorites in a 12-month review. Just scroll over the photos to reveal the caption.

So here we are at another year’s end, December 31, 2012. Tonight Jay and I are headed to the Disney Concert Hall for a New Year’s Eve performance. Pasadena is gearing up for its famous Happy New Year Party with marching bands and majestic floral floats, the 124th Annual Rose Parade, themed, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”  If you are unfamiliar with this marvelous event, I shared some photos last year and you can review them here.

This year I won’t bother to have the discussion about slowing down. It’s going to be a very full year, and anyway, I have had to take a closer look at myself. I am always on the go to somewhere, and I don’t do a lot to invest in slowing down. Time to get real!

And I’m tremendously pleased and looking forward to our son getting married this year. We will be welcoming a new daughter into the family sometime this spring or early summer. There’s a ring and a promise…and they’re working on the details.

So another year comes to a close and seamlessly a new year begins. And I’ll wish everyone a year of finding happiness and contentment in each day whether you’re interested in slowing down or not. Simply put, Happy New Year!

A happy New Year! Grant that I

May bring no tear to any eye

When this New Year in time shall end

Let it be said I’ve played the friend,

Have lived and loved and labored here,

And made of it a happy year.

—Edgar A. Guest

Whatever you call me, just look out for the fangs!

If I had been born to celebrity parents I quite possibly could be going through life as Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches or Pixie (Bob Geldorf’s children), or Moxie Crimefighter and Zolten, courtesy of Penn Jillette.

Most of my friends call me Debra, but my family and the  friends that go all the way back to my childhood default to calling me Debbie. I value the familiarity more than a change in name, but I don’t feel like a Debbie. It would be very difficult to explain what that means. I think it’s simply that I’ve enjoyed multiple metamorphoses through the years. I shift and change positions and perspectives, rework the areas in my life that aren’t satisfying and come out the other side feeling that the changes were significant. It’s hard for me to relate to the same name that worked when I was a little girl.  It might also be that I have a strong rather unreasonable reaction to “Little Debbie” cakes and cookies. I think it’s the hat. I have my quirks!

In my teens I read Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel and unsuccessfully tried to reinvent myself. I thought I’d be much more interesting if called Rachel. I was indulged for a while and then even I couldn’t keep it up.

Then Tropical Storm Debby caught my ear this weekend. I heard Governor Rick Scott urge Floridians to be “very, very, very cautious,” and not to assume Debby wouldn’t escalate into a bigger storm. My first thought was that “Debby” didn’t sound very menacing! Wouldn’t  Tropical Storm Debra signal a more foreboding potential escalation to hurricane? I like to think so anyway.

How do you like this nickname? Debra the Deadly Cobra. Yes. Hardly fits the author of a blog entitled breathelighter, does it? My adoring children gave me that title! I think we must have watched the 1988 movie Big Business together.  This very funny comedy starring Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin (each playing two roles) was a film farce thinly based on Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors.

Lily Tomlin, as country Rose, holds her fingers up like fangs and hisses like a Rattler while shaking her bracelets for sound emphasis.  She is hilarious in this role and I started imitating her rattlesnake moves when anyone crossed me. Thanks to my children, Debra the Deadly Cobra was born. And I’m admitting that I’m currently having a hard time keeping my fangs in check! The bracelet rattling has already started.

Nothing ignites my ire nearly as much as trying to work through a problem (like my current Spam issue) and being told that what I’m experiencing isn’t really happening! It’s awfully hard to prove a problem if someone on the other end doesn’t believe it’s possible. I’ve been working with both WordPress and Akismet reps and the first few go-rounds in describing my problem have been quite frustrating. I’ve filled out forms only to be told again, “You have to fill out the form or we can’t help you.” I don’t think they’re particularly appreciating my sarcasm wit and clever sense of humor. If I’m told again to give them an example of the problem and to fill out another form there is no guarantee that Debra the Deadly Cobra won’t strike.

I’m breathing deep and keeping my thoughts even and in perspective. But I’ve got an itchy cobra reflex just trying to get out to play…for old time’s sake! Maybe I need to laugh again with Big Business and continue to release the tension resulting from the frustration of being labeled Spam. Do keep checking your Spam folders. I’ve released three other bloggers from my Spam folder just since Saturday. Cyber -gremlins?

If you want a quick chuckle, check out the YouTube video of Lily as country Rose. You may want to adopt a similar alter-ego. It can come in handy when you need to make a point! My bite isn’t all that venomous. I promise!

Spam? What Spam? My Friday exhale–letting it go and admiring the simple things all around me.

English: Gordon MacRae and Doris Day in Starli...
Spam you say? Pish Posh! Now we won’t let that spoil our weekend, will we!

What a week! All things important in life have gone well. I have no real complaints, but that has never stopped me from doing just a little bit of grumbling. This Spam issue has me a bit turned on end. I am still being exiled to the place for naughty comments and it’s more than a little time consuming doing what I can to rectify the situation. So far WordPress hasn’t been helpful but I’ll just sing a few bars of “Que Sera, Sera” and truly whatever will be, will be.

I had my camera close to me as I enjoyed the backyard this week. I always acknowledge the summer solstice with a little more time in the garden. My favorite time of day is sunset, and I often find myself quieting after work and spending time just walking about noting how things are growing, which birds are feeding at the feeders and, of course, looking at the early evening sky. It’s difficult to see the actual sunset because we don’t have an unobstructed line of sight. But I enjoy the shadows and the changing light anyway.

The late afternoon sun illuminated the part of the backyard railroad we’ve designated as “the canyon.” I keep teasing with the train, but one of these days I’ll share the photos of the project from start to finish. It was quite a season of backyard transformation.

Here’s a strange little succulent! Those aren’t rocks you see in the picture. It’s a Pleiospilos bolusil…or if that’s too big a mouthful, try Living Stones.  It’s an odd little succulent from South Africa, with the common name split rock. Experts say that the plant is so drought tolerant it can go an entire year without water in our climate. We have some with pink flowers, too, but they aren’t blooming right now.

The backyard stream is part of a larger water feature. The sound of running water is our favored contribution to reducing the effects of daily stress. We do what we can to mask the noise and activity that comes with living in suburbia! I can forget that a major thoroughfare is only one block beyond our front door!

I had a few surprises in the vegetable garden, too! I get so excited with each and every bloom and spend time every evening checking for signs of insects or distress, and admiring signs of healthy growth. But apparently I wasn’t as eagle-eyed as I thought I was.

Just look at the size of this summer squash next to two beautiful courgettes! Courgettes? What’s that you say?

Look how big this guy is? He was hiding all week!
Pattypan squash and two freshly picked courgettes

I can almost hear the question. Why am I calling the zucchini courgettes? Very simple. It’s my new favorite word. Claire, at Promenade Plantings commented on my lovely courgettes, and I fell in love with the word! I hope to impress all my friends with my new terminology.

I also brewed some chocolate mint tea. The mint was an add-on to our weekly produce box and they were extremely generous. We’ve enjoyed the mint tea all week. I picked about 20 leaves, rolled them in my hand just a bit to bruise them, and simply steeped them in some boiling water. It was refreshing and the mint aroma and mild taste (chocolate mint is not as strong as peppermint) was very calming. No caffeine for me in the evening!

But I’ve saved the best for last. The evenings have been lovely and we’ve eaten outdoors. While eating at our little glass table I was still looking around, taking in all that I could see! Looking out, my glance shifted to the power poles in the far corner of my neighbor’s yard. I spied something I’ve never seen before!

Jay ran for the binoculars as I grabbed my camera! This is a hawk family! Two parents and two babies! We have lived in our home for almost 40 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. Not long after I snapped this picture the two adult hawks flew off in tandem. The babies sat patiently waiting for mom and dad to return, presumably with a little dinner.

I zoomed in as close as I could to admire one of the babies. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity to see the little family again, but it was a real treat! How glad I was that we had slowed down long enough to take a leisurely dinner outdoors!

Weekends are often a chance to do the same. Slow down long enough to take notice. Make a mindful exhale, and let’s enjoy the simple things we find this weekend.

Ahhh. Let it go!

Breathing lighter, Debra