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Out of My Element

This week is an exercise in stretching myself. My husband will be out of the office most of the week and I will be fielding most of his calls and handling whatever comes my way.

It’s exciting to try new things. Most days I see how he does his job but ultimately he does it without much advice from others. I watch and listen to how he evaluates vehicles, how he interacts with the customers, how he tries to put out fires without losing a customer when problems arise. Until you are actually in the position without someone else to consult you really don’t know difficult the job is on a daily basis.

He brings approximately 35 years of experience to his job in buying and selling vehicles as well as being a  mechanic which doesn’t hurt if you are going to sell cars. I’ve done bookkeeping for the business for many years and do the paperwork with the customers for buying and financing vehicles. It’s a whole different ballgame giving enough information to the customer and putting them at ease in the car buying experience. He is definitely better at his job than I am and I will be happy to have him back. I’ve got just enough information to be dangerous.

One of the most difficult areas is determining the trade-in value of a vehicle. If you give the customer too much for their trade in you may lose money on the car you are selling and not make any on the trade when you sell it depending on what work it may need to get it ready for the lot.

If you give the customer too little they may feel you are stealing their vehicle from them and are insulting them. The key is to have enough trustworthy evaluation information available to back your dollar amount for the trade. We always give the customer the option of trying to sell their own vehicle and buy our vehicle without a trade.

Most of what I planned to accomplish on my own to do list didn’t get done but phone calls were answered, appointments were made, warranty work was done, and cars were sold so I guess it was a good day.

Tomorrow is another day with the opportunity to grow and learn.

 
9 Comments

Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Business Matters, Photography

 

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Ballet Shoes

As a child I remember wanting to take dance lessons. My best friend had dance lessons every Saturday morning. Some Saturdays I would go with and watch while she and the other girls danced. I attended their recitals and watched as the danced in their pretty costumes to the music.

My parents bought a piano and I learned how to play it, not well but I can pick up a not too complicated piece of music and it will sound recognizable to the untrained ear. I find playing the piano relaxing at times when I need a break from bookkeeping or other mundane tasks. I think that my parents made the wiser choice given the fact that I have an overall dislike of physical exercise. Playing the piano is more of a life skill for me. One that I can put down and pick up over time.

This morning I took my camera down to the lake to capture a pink sunrise. The sky had a pink glow to it and I thought it might lend itself well to some interesting pictures.

Saturday evening the winds blew so strong out of the north that the windows were making noises and we could hear the tree branches all night long. When we woke up Sunday morning the ice that had starting forming around the edges of the lake were gone because of the strong winds.

This morning I found branches along the shore of the lake with icicles hanging from them but my favorite find was the above picture that looks like ballet shoes. I love how the icicles formed evenly to look like a pair of shoes hanging from ribbons.

Sometimes when you are searching for one thing, like a beautiful sunrise, you find something better.

It pays to look a little closer.

 
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Posted by on November 28, 2011 in Nature, Photography, Reflections

 

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The Bicycle Gang and Childhood Destinations

This morning as I was looking for another photo I ran across this one. I took it a couple of weeks ago on a Saturday morning out my office window. At first it was only the two boys on the far right and they were quickly joined by the other five. They waited patiently as the one boy added air to his tire and then they were off as quickly as they came.

I was transported back to the 70’s when as a girl of 11 my friends and I would gather at one of my friends homes or mine just as the boys had done that Saturday morning.

We had important things to do. A trip to the mall was our destination. Now you may think that a trip to the mall was no big deal but it was. There weren’t many malls back then. In fact in our area of Minneapolis, this was the first. The mall was a mile and a half from our homes. We headed off with instructions from our Moms and Dads about safety along the busy roads with our bikes. There was no talk about being wary of strangers, it was a different time for sure.

We would head out first thing in the morning. The mall would open at 10 am. This was a whole day adventure. We didn’t plan on buying much, mostly looking but lunch was definitely part of the deal. Each of us would bring our hard-earned babysitting money or allowance if we got one. Saturday morning chores were done before we could go.

I still remember the wind blowing through my hair as we pedaled our bikes down the road. I loved then and still do now looking at all the different types of homes along the way and how the yards were landscaped. Once at the mall all the displays caught my eye which of course they were meant to do. As I look back now perhaps there was a different occupation other than teaching that I should have pursued, architecture or some type of design.

There is no mall for the boys to explore in our small town of 400. I imagine there are places just as exciting for a boy’s bicycle gang to explore in Tom Sawyer fashion with a small river and lakes nearby.

 

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Art on the Fly:Photography While Driving

The list of things that you shouldn’t do while driving keeps growing with more technology advances and desire for multi-tasking. People want to feel that their every moment is being used well.

Ever since I got my new camera in January I carry it with me wherever I go. I find myself trying to looking through the view finder while driving to get a shot of something while I am driving. Definitely not a good idea. I haven’t had an accident yet but the potential for one is possible.

On our trip to Florida I got this shot while my husband was driving.

It’s amazing what you see along the road when traveling. Whoever made this chicken has a lot more imagination than me for sure.

One of my greatest temptations while driving is a shot of a sunset or sunrise. I confess I took this shot while driving in Illinois near Rockford.

One of my favorite things to photograph are bridges. They are rarely in a good place to stop especially on a freeway. I’ve seen this bridge from my car window in Tennessee and tried taking pictures while driving with limited success. Some day I will have unlimited time to wander and photograph bridges.

You can tell that this is from the inside of my car from the window tinting near the top of the photo.

I’m not sure what this is growing along the roadside in Tennessee but the beautiful yellowish-green color caught my eye.

This last photo is of an old barn near St. Joseph, Minnesota. It is only about 30 miles from home. I’ve seen it often and want to take some pictures but not from my car. The only problem is I can’t figure out what road it is on in the country to get to it. I think I will have to find someone with a GPS in the their car so I can drive to it. This shot is out of focus but I still love the old barn.

I played with the framing of the picture in Photoshop to try to make it look a little more interesting even though it is out of focus.

Have a great weekend everyone and Happy Mother’s Day.

Every woman can have a positive impact on the life of a child whether you gave birth to him or her or choose to be a part of their life in an encouraging way. Our local librarian is a fine example of nurturing children in a positive way though she has none of her own.

 

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Daily Blessings

 

While we often spend our days

Worrying

About 

The past and the future,

We often miss 

The beauty

Each day has to offer

Just outside our tattered windows.

 
20 Comments

Posted by on April 4, 2011 in Photography, poetry, Quiet Times, Reflections

 

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The Fine Art of Relaxing

Today as I listened to those around me there seemed to be a developing theme for the day. The morning started with reading my email as I usually do before work while drinking my morning coffee. One email I receive every day is Turning Point by Dr. David Jeremiah. It is a daily on-line devotional. The theme of this morning’s devotional was Crazy Busy.

In his book, CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap, Edward M. Hallowell wrote about the moment he knew he had crossed the dark side from busy to crazy busy. It was when he lost his temper at a rotary dial phone while on vacation. His cell phone wouldn’t work, and he just about went nuts waiting for the dial to return to start with every number. Then, calming down, he timed the process. The entire dialing process took all of eleven seconds. “What a fool I had become,” he wrote. “I had become a man in a hurry even when I had no need to hurry.”

After finishing up with a few things at home I headed into work and there was a salesperson waiting to see me when I arrived. She comes to our business once every month or two for a visit. We talked about my vacation a bit and then she related a story about their family trip to the Wisconsin Dells with her husband and two kids. They planned carefully for their trip time wise and financially before they left. She said everything went fine for the first two days because they were in one place but then she said that’s when the fun ended and it went from vacation to crazy busy even on vacation.

They spent the third day of their vacation hitting every tourist trap up and down the streets in the Wisconsin Dell area. They denied themselves nothing. They spent more than they had planned on stuff they hadn’t planned than on what they had planned. She said it was like the whole family was in a frenzy going from one thing to the next. It was not what they had planned for their vacation. They came home frazzled, broke and exhausted.

When I started on the work I had planned for the day I managed to get a few things done on my list but spent most of the day “putting out fires” as my husband refers to taking care of the urgent but not necessarily the important.

Some days we are too busy “putting out fires” in our crazy busy world that we neglect what’s most important-time for ourselves and our family. It’s important to build some solitude in your daily routine and rest. On the days when my husband and I get home late from work it is hard to give up the time for the things I enjoy and opt for the rest I need.

When my boys were young one of their favorite things to do was to hop up into Grandpa’s chair if he had vacated it long enough for the boys to notice. They loved to lean back and stretch out pretending to be just like Grandpa in his chair. Our grandson has started to play the same game. I hope that the next generation will learn how to slow down and enjoy the moment better than this generation does, at least that is my hope.

 

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Toes Up In My Recliner

I love Saturday mornings. The thought of not having to rush out the door to work and sitting toes up in my recliner with my cup of coffee.  The pace of Saturdays are different around here. It’s okay to just relax.

This morning I need to head into work to finish up some projects and write-up some car deals before I leave town but that’s okay the countdown to some vacation is in sight. I won’t have everything done before I leave but the important things will be accomplished.

I woke up early this morning and enjoyed it. There wasn’t a sense of dread with doing the same old thing day after day. I tackled the pile of mail that has accumulated all week-long on my kitchen table. I started on the laundry that needs to be done before we leave.  It doesn’t seem like a chore today. Last evening doing dishes even seemed pleasant. 

Attitude and anticipation combined can be a powerful motivator. Whether my husband and I are planning a home improvement project or vacation our attitudes are at their best.  We’re positive and we are motivated to get things done. There were things that we did this past week that needed to be done for a while and it’s nice to have a sense of completion and accomplishment before we leave. 

The anticipation of completed projects and vacations is exciting.  Thinking and dreaming of what the completed project will look like or the things you will do on vacation takes my mind to places it doesn’t normally go.  I dare to imagine.

It’s difficult to not set yourself up for disappointment by imagining beyond what you can afford or obtain in the time given. It’s important to place your expectations high enough to imagine the possibilities to set some goals that will stretch you a little bit like learning something new for a project or doing something you’ve never done before on vacation.

This week is an opportunity to fine tune my attitude. To capture the same attitude and anticipation upon my return for my work and family life that I have before leaving would be a welcome improvement. 

I’m not going to wait for the storms to pass but will dance in the rain daily appreciating every day and person for the gift that they are in my life.

 
12 Comments

Posted by on February 19, 2011 in New Challenges, Reflections, Vacations

 

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In A Fog

This morning my mind is literally and figuratively in a fog. 

I stepped outside this morning in my plaid flannel nightshirt and black snow boots to capture this photo. We are socked in with heavy fog this morning. In the background of this picture is a snow-covered lake that you can usually make out the shorelines even with snow on the lake but not so this morning.

As I was walking down to the lake to take a few pictures I heard sounds of birds singing which amazed me because before I went outside I had watched my bird feeder this morning for birds to come and none had before I went out and none since I came back in. The other prevalent sound was the dripping of water. I could hear it falling from the trees and roof of our home.  As I walked through the snow it had a crunching sound and not the almost silent sound of walking through fresh snow.

The figuratively nature of my mind’s fog this morning is in preparing for an upcoming trip. I don’t know if you are like me when you plan for a trip, you start adding things to your to-do list that have needed to be done for years and somehow you think you will finally do them just because you plan to leaving town. My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I said that we needed to load up and deliver the crib that we had borrowed from his brother and wife almost a year and a half ago. It has only been sitting against the wall in our bedroom for the past month. 

Do I have a fear that I will not return from this trip so everything I have ever borrowed must be returned to its proper owner?  Certainly not, but why not use the reason for leaving town to get some of those things accomplished. I’ve concluded that if I only had less stuff it would be easier to leave more often.  Too much of my day is caring for all the things we have accumulated. I have downsized a lot in the past year but there is so much more that can go but I want to do it in a responsible way.

I don’t want to fill the landfill with useful items so I need to find places to donate. I need to assess just how many pots and pans I really need.  Afterall I only have four burners on the top of my stove and my oven can only hold so many baking dishes at one time. Clothes are a problem around my home. I am not a clothes hound by any means but because of the different seasons we need to have a variety of clothes for the different seasons and all the winter clothes take up more space.  I was thinking that if we didn’t live where there was a winter how much less storage I would need.

Time to emerge from the fog and head to work in the fog with renewed energy to carry out great things today or at least a few important things on my list knowing that some time off awaits me soon. 🙂

 
18 Comments

Posted by on February 17, 2011 in Life Happens, Nature, Photography, Vacations

 

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Ambiance

 

Is it a feeling, a look, an emotion that we think of when we speak of ambiance?  Each of us have a place we go to or a specific area in our homes or surroundings that make us feel warm, welcome and relaxed. 

For some, ambiance requires color, soft and warm.  Others require candle lite rooms with fragrance filling the air and soft music playing in the background.  My adult children need a technology infused room to have the perfect ambiance whether in a group or alone.  They don’t like quiet. For some the perfect ambiance is a place you can be alone and for others they require companionship.

For me the place with perfect ambiance depends on the season.  In winter the place with the ambiance that draws me in is a room with a fire burning in the fireplace with a cozy chair pulled up along side it with an ottoman to prop up my feet while I read a good book.  There is a table nearby with a good reading lamp and a place for my hot cup of coffee.

Summertime, ambiance is a whole other feeling.  I take in the soft gentle breezes off the lake as I sit in my Adirondack chair and watch the water gently coming ashore and then retreating.  The rhythm of the waves is therapeutic. 

The garden in the springtime provides an atmosphere of anticipation.  I watch daily for the emerging perennial flowers as the sun gently warms the earth and everything is a different shade of spring green.  There is a hopeful ambiance in spring.

Ambiance in fall for me is elusive.  I am drawn in by the changing colors in the trees only to discover the temperature is dropping and the cold winds chasing me indoors.  On the perfect sunlight warm fall day I could stay outdoors for hours walking and listening to the crunching sounds beneath my feet and watch as the birds start gathering for their trip south.  As the leaves lose their colors and the grass it’s green I know it is time to put the summer to rest and start pursuing a cozier place indoors.

What ambiance calls you to a quiet place where you can wind down from a busy paced life?  For me it usually involves quiet and nature.  If water is available nearby all the better. My kids would tell me that I am getting old and spend too much time thinking.

I haven’t clued them in on the fact that some days I like to just sit, listen to my surroundings and shut off all this world’s thoughts.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2011 in Quiet Times, Reflections

 

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Bridge or Barrier Builder?

This past week as I was driving in my car I listened to one of my favorite cds by Phillips, Craig and Dean.  It’s the live version and I got it from a friend a few years ago for a birthday gift. 

One of my favorite songs on the cd  is Build a Bridge of Love.  On the live version of the cd one of the artists tells the story of his grandfather being a bridge builder.  He said that his grandfather told him that the same materials to build bridges can be used to build barriers, it’s a choice of how you use the materials.

Yesterday morning on one of our coldest days of the year I was in town and took this picture of an old train bridge in Little Falls, Minnesota.  It has always been a favorite bridge of mine because of the architectural detail and its age.

Build a Bridge of Love by Phillips, Craig & Dean

Isn’t it crazy, we haven’t spoken in years
We were the closest friends
Where did we part, when did the love disappear
We thought it’d never end
Just a causeless separation
A turn in the road of life
But now we’re nothing more than strangers
Don’t you think that it’s time to

Let’s build a bridge of love together
One stone of hope at a time
Let’s span the sea that comes between us
So join your hand and heart with mine

The timing is right for our differences to cease
O Father make us one
Let’s join in the fight to love all humanity
Our time has just begaun
We can use these precious moments
To tear apart dividing walls
And with those stones of separation
Build a bridge for all
Every race and every nation
United and unique
We’re all just links in a chain of love
I need you, you need me

The past week I’ve had a lot of time to think about relationships.  I’ve been home sick with the flu.  Relationships are hard work.  It is much easier to build a barrier one piece at a time with each hurt or misunderstanding until the barrier is so large you cannot see over it or too long and can not walk around it. 

Each day I have to make an effort to make the choices that will create healthy relationships.  I’m not talking about becoming a doormat but keeping the lines of communication open even when I don’t agree with someone’s choices. My usual way to deal with conflict is to run the other way.  I just don’t like it and I don’t seek it out.   But that in itself can be a barrier between me and another. 

I don’t want to start building a barrier so that if in the future someone feels like talking about something they can still find me accessible instead of locked up in my castle with the drawbridge drawn up and the moat full of crocks.  Not a pretty picture but it can happen one piece at a time until we have secluded ourselves from the very people on this earth who were put here to enrich it.

 
 

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