Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Second Look--August 27, 2014

While there are still flowers blooming, most things are starting to look a little ragged.  Some foliage is turning brown and what once were large vistas of flowers are now just a few here and there. Fall is definitely coming. The birds are still abundant at the feeders, but that population should be changing in the next month or so as the migration south begins. I am going to be especially sad to see the hummingbirds go. While we have seen them every year around our lilies, this has been the first year we have had a feeder right outside our window to watch. Their little bodies and humming wings continue to amaze me.

Here are some things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

Praying mantis on Blackeyed Susan

This is one of a couple of day lilies that are still blooming.

Little bees are enjoying the balloon flowers that continue to bloom.

Late spring we planted a spindly tomato plant in a pot by our back door. It just now producing its first tomatoes--but they are beauties.

I cut back the Rozanne Geranium and it is now having a resurgence of blooms.

I thought that this caterpillar was heading for the grass until I took a second look and saw ants foraging around it. Then I wasn't so sure that it was heading anywhere anymore.

Most of these birds should hang around for the winter. (L-R Carolina wren, chickadee, mourning dove, downy woodpecker, goldfinch, cardinal

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Today, I'm going to drink more water.

Drinking the recommended amount of water has always been a problem for me, but I'm trying to correct that. Do you drink easily and often like the males do in my family or do you struggle to fit in all in like I do?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Thankful Sunday--August 24, 2014

I am thankful for an abundance of tomatoes.

This is the time of year when gardens have been producing for a while and there are extras of many things. I am thankful that that is happening with tomatoes and I had enough extra to make some salsa. Yum!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Second Look--August 20, 2014

Here are a few things I saw this week 
during a Second Look.

Ward especially liked the Fibonocci spirals in the middle of this sunflower.

This wheel bug was about an inch long.

We had a good rain and a whole new group of mushrooms sprung up.

Along with the mushrooms, this bright orange fungus grew this week.

The dark coloration around this squirrels mouth and arm is different from any I've noticed before. I don't know if this is normal or the squirrel got stained trying to remove the hull from a black walnut. :) I'm going to start paying attention to see if I notice this pattern on any other squirrel.

The goldfinch are at their absolute brightest now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Happiness and Mindfulness

Seems to me that there is a lot of talk these days about happiness. Whether we're happy or whether we would be happier if we only emphasized the "right" things in our life instead of the "wrong" things. Whether we're happier today than we were in yesteryear. I think one reason* there is so much talk about happiness is the definition different for everyone. Also, happiness is a complex concept and one that's hard to define and measure. But despite these complexities, there are people out there who are trying to understand and define happiness in a scientific way.
One of these people is Matt Killingsworth. He developed a happiness app and is collecting data about people's moods and correlating them with what they are doing. From his various findings, there is one thing that is consistent from the study. People are happier when they are fully engaged in what they are doing instead of letting their mind wander. That was true even if they didn't like what they were doing at the time. Apparently the reason for this is when our mind wanders, it usually goes to negative places and focuses on things we are worried about. And when we're worried, we're usually not happy.

Unfortunately, I'm normal in this way. After learning about Killingsworth's research, I noticed that while I was mowing, I was spending a fair amount of time with my mind wandering to worrisome thoughts. The same thing happened later while I was taking a walk. I knew I was the worrying kind, but I didn't realize how much idle worrying I actually do.

image source
So I wondered if there was anything I could do about this. I concluded that I am going to try to practice more mindfulness. I am going to try to be fully present in whatever I am doing and not have my body busy doing something while my mind wanders off to worry. When I'm mowing, I am going to listen to the sound of the mower and notice the plants I am cutting. When I'm walking, I'm going to notice how long my stride is and how my arms are swinging. And with enough practice, maybe I won't be the typical person anymore. My thoughts will stay in the present instead of in the future worrying. And just maybe, I will finally understand what the Buddist monks have known for a very long time--mindfulness is an important key to happiness.

(Okay, to be truthfully honest, I've gone through this phase before with only minor success. It takes a lot of work to retrain a lifetime of rapid fire, worrisome thoughts. But I'm gonna give it a try.)

*I think another reason there is so much talk about happiness, is that we are dong very well as a whole. We have most of our basic needs met, so we have the luxury to think about things such as whether or not we are happy.