47. Driving with the windows down and the music loud, singing my heart out *

by admin - January 25th, 2009

Good day, bad day, this lifts my spirits. When I’m grading or writing, I have to have just the music so that I’m not distracted. On one of these days, the music can be anything I can sing to. Sometimes, I even listen to Vivaldi blaring out to the street corners, and that gets some strange looks, but if it moves my soul, I’ll listen to it on a sunshiney day.

Is this sensation, this idea that windows down, music up, singing loud can make me happy just influenced by movies? Is it society that tells me this is supposed to feel good, not my actual experiences?

I don’t think so. With the sun shining and the fresh air rushing around us, our spirits soar. And music has deep connections to our emotions, which work to soothe, solve, energize, and divert. Plus, it’s just fun.

45. Studying good pics *

by admin - December 19th, 2008

I really want to be a good photographer. I don’t really remember when that skill became a desire, but it’s been there for a while. I have just recently started cultivating it, and what a feeling when I have carefully composed and image, see it flash on that tiny little LCD screen, and get tingles in my toes knowing that it’s gonna look amazing on a screen or in print. Now, that doesn’t happen very often; in fact, there are only a few pictures that I have taken that I knew would be really good. But that doesn’t take away anything from even just “good” pictures.

Participating in NaBloPoMo on my main blog last month renewed my interest in blogging and reminded how much I really enjoy it. And that made me commit to my photoblog again. It got a fancy new coat of paint, a new URL, and new life.

In order to build my skill, I’ve been practicing a lot, but I look for inspiration too. I’ve started to become more active on Flickr, and I subscribe to several photoblogs’ RSS feeds. Plus, I’m looking forward to a photo shooting day with Sarah, who is a pretty darn good photographer.

I would love a dSLR, but right now, that isn’t justifiable. So I’ve decided that I want to take pictures that surprise people when they find out it was taken on a point-and-shoot. Besides, I can learn a lot without being distracted by shutter speeds and f-stop settings.

44. Lightning bolts *

by admin - December 18th, 2008


I already wrote about enjoying thunderstorms, but this subset of those window-rumbling displays of nature deserves its own place on my list.

Lightning just blows my mind. It’s one of those beautiful/destructive forces, just like ice storms.

I like lightning because it is beautiful/powerful. It lights up the sky in an impressive display of electrical amazingness. But that same stroke of lightning can explode transformer, sending thousands into darkness.

Another aspect of lightning that makes me enjoy seeing it more is that if you blink, you miss it. This rarity makes it special, too.

Image Source.

43. Snow *

by admin - December 17th, 2008

If you haven’t noticed already, I love precipitation, but I’m not preferential to the really wet kind. Snow is one of my all-time favorite weather conditions. It’s soft, beautiful, and romantic.

Snow on Kugelbrunnen

Snow on Kugelbrunnen

I don’t know that living in Missouri is good for my love of snow. We’ve already had two beautiful snow storms here this winter already! Now, I haven’t been able to enjoy any of this German snow from my skiis, but we did build a killer snow man on our back porch from the same snow covers the Kugelbrunnen in that picture (Kugelbrunnen means–you guessed it–”ball fountain”). Stay tuned to my other blog for the story of Pickle the Snowman. We took some great pictures.

So why does snow make me happy?

I absolutely love the cleanliness of a fresh snow. It just makes the world look new, bright, and fresh.

Snow mutes all the sounds in the world, and I almost feel like we’re alone in this beautiful wonderland.

Most of the time, snow falls softly, smoothly, calmly. As it wraps the world in fresh whiteness, it reminds us that we need to slow down, enjoy the important parts of life.

42. Bubble wrap *

by admin - December 16th, 2008

I love this stuff! And I know I’m not alone, either.

My favorites are the big bubbles. The little bubbles are okay, but the big bubbles are softer to my fingertips, and I like the way they feel.

I’m not saying I don’t like the smaller bubbles–their sound is really nice–but they are sometimes hard to pop and I always end up squeezing my fingers together too hard so that my fingertips get sore. What fun is a pointless activity like popping bubble wrap if it gives you sore fingers? I thought you’d agree. :)

Sometimes, I like to just wring the bubble wrap like a towel. This makes a barrage of popping noises, like Rice Krispies, but the down-side is that your toy is all played out in a few seconds. It’s like lighting a string of firecrackers.

When I’m thinking or just really bored, I like to pop each bubble individually, listening to the sound and seeing how I can change the tone. This is more like un-stringing a pack of a hundred Black Cats and lighting one, tossing it. Lighting another, tossing it.

41. Seeing a tree, house, or building lit up against a dark sky background *

by admin - December 15th, 2008

I first discovered this beautiful phenomenom in 6th grade while waiting for Mom at Neosho’s old Intermediate School (6th and 7th grades). The entrance faced east, so at 4:30, as the Sun was starting to set, it would light up this white plantation-style house across the street. And it would just shine! But everything else was dark. The sky behind it was dusking, and the buildings around it were in a shadow, maybe from other buildings, maybe from clouds, I don’t know why, but that’s the magical part.

The sad part is that I have never captured this on film, so I can’t share exactly what it is that I am talking about, although I trust you can imagine. I will definitely update this post with a picture when I do capture it, but until then, you’ll have to see it with your mind’s eye.

40. Reading my friends’ blogs *

by admin - December 14th, 2008

I am so glad that I have more friends who blog now! Back when I first started blogging, I was pretty much the only one. But now I can keep up with many of my friends via their blogs and I love it, (I’ll say it again,) especially now that I am so far away.

My friends write about their days, ins and outs, ups and downs. They writing about their big adventures, everything from an exciting trip to Munich and a first triathlon. But most of all, I can hear their voice in their writing. If you don’t know what that means, just trust me as a writing teacher, your voice comes through in your writing. In a busy world, where we are all living different lives, blogs, including microblogging, keeps us connected, and that makes me happy.

39. Going to a wedding **

by admin - December 13th, 2008

Weddings are amazing. Every single one. I can’t hear wedding vows without remembering my wedding day and the promises Rob and I made. I am, for some reason, having a hard time finding the words for the feelings I have at a wedding. Of course it’s joy, for the couple, for their new life together, for the joys they will enjoy together, for the strength I hope they each find in each other. But there’s something more I can’t put my finger one.

I also love looking at wedding pictures, even if I don’t know the couple. Whenever someone on Facebook uploads their wedding pictures or pictures from a friend’s wedding, I look through every single one of them. Partially for the photography, I admit, but mostly for the happiness and love visible on everyone’s face.

(By the way, Sunday will be our 4-year, 4-month anniversary! Not that we’re celebrating, but it seems relevant to mention.)

38. Gumball trees *

by admin - December 12th, 2008

gumballI am starting to realize how many of the items on this list take me back to my childhood, because this is yet another thing that makes me happy from that time in my life. Item #37, dogwood trees, comes from when my family lived in Neosho, but the source of my gumball tree joy comes from before then, when we lived in Overland Park.

At the first house I clearly remember living in, there was a sweetgum tree in the front yard with a branch just low enough for me to reach as a 5-year-old. We used to climb that thing all the time, Daniel and me. While climbing that tree and playing with those gumballs are my only memories of this tree, it still makes me happy when I see those little sticky, spiny seed pods, brown and dried up or green still hanging on the tress.

Image source.

37. Dogwood trees *

by admin - December 11th, 2008

dogwoodNeosho is famous for its dogwood trees with their white and pink blooms floating like clouds down Oak Ridge Drive, starting in early spring and lasting for several beautiful weeks. Residents and visitors alike enjoy the dogwoods during the annual Dogwood Tour, and there’s even a 5k race [DOC file] to celebrate the event (who’s running it with me next time?!).

Ever since we moved to Neosho when I was 10, I loved seeing the beautiful dogwoods along with the redbuds which burst out into all their colorful glory. I don’t actually know why Neosho has so many dogwoods all around town, but it really gives this little city personality.

There is a legend about the meaning behind the dogwood tree’s flower and the twisted shape its branches grown in that I–and probably every Neoshoan–pretty much know by heart:

At the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood had reached the size of the mighty oak tree. So strong and firm was the wood that it was chosen as the timber for Jesus’ cross.

To be used for such a cruel purpose greatly distressed the dogwood. While nailed upon it, Jesus sensed this, and in his compassion said, “Because of your pity for my suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used for a cross. Henceforth, it shall be slender, bent, and twisted, and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross–two long and two short petals.

“In the center of the outer edge of each petal will be the print of nails. In the center of the flower, stained with blood, will be a crown of thorns so that all who see it will remember.”

Like so many of the items on my list, dogwood trees make me happy because they are both beautiful and remind me of my childhood. Whenever I see one, wherever I am, I think of Neosho and spring days as a teenager.

Legend Source.

Image Source.