Saturday, December 27, 2008

Night Owl

I started adjusting to being awake all night by sleeping just a few hours last night and getting up at 1 a.m. Been cleaning house and generally just puttering around to stay awake. I have been so worried about being able to stay awake all night and sleep during the day. But it's nearly 6 a.m. now and I am feeling sleepy enough I could sleep soon. My plan for the next couple of weeks is to sleep when I first get home from work, so 8 a.m. is my bedtime. Then I'll allow time for a nap in the evening around 8 p.m. if needed. I think I'll do fine. It definitely helps to keep busy. I'll be busy at work and walking around most of the night, so that won't be a problem. It's good for me to shake up my routine like this.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

For Vicki

Dear friend, we'll miss you, we are heartbroken. We'll never forget you. I know you loved the Beatles. Didn't we all? This is for you.

Baby It's Cold Outside

From Rod Stewart's Great American Songbook, Baby It's Cold Outside with Dolly Parton.


And one more Rod Stewart, Great American Songbook, I Wish You Love.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

More Deer

Is tomorrow the solstice? The shortest day of the year in terms of sunlight. Slept a little later this morning. Didn't get up till 6:30. Hah! I can't remember what it's like to sleep till 10, let alone noon. How do people do it?

Walked through the dark house as is my habit, and noticed deer at the bird feeders. A three-point buck and four does. I watched them a long time and finally got my camera. I can't figure out how to get picture of them in the dark through the glass door. So I stepped outside. They didn't run. Finally after I said "go, go" a few times, they walked off. They are not afraid of me. This is the best picture I could get. Blurry, but you can make out four deer. The buck went the opposite direction.

Went to Celia's party last night after all. I was going to skip it after shoveling snow for an hour and a half. But she called and said try to come anyway, even if late. So I did. The I-215 part of the drive was treacherous, but I made it there with no real problems. Half of the party had gone home, but it was fun to be out. Drove home on the ciy streets to avoid that terrible curve at Parley's Canyon.

Today I will wrap and deliver all remaining presents, drop of donations to The Road Home, and finish decorating the tree. Then try to enjoy the rest of the week until Christmas. After Christmas we have the big go-live for our software implementation and my life will not be my own for the following two weeks, possibly longer.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The deer at the bird feeders

The deer have been hiding out during the day for some time now, but since the snow started, it's apparent they are around as I see the trails through the snow. This morning, at 5 a.m. and still dark as night outside, as I walked past my patio door I noticed a deer nibbling at one of my bird feeders. My movement inside the house made the deer tense but she did not leave. Then five more deer bounded up the hill from behind my deck and gathered up on the upper level. I turned on the patio light for a better view. She backed away a step but did not leave and finally resumed snacking on bird seed. I grabbed my camera and got a very blurry picture. I'll look at it later and see if it is salvageable.

I am becoming a weird old woman talking all the time about birds, deer, and snow.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Snow, snow, snow

A real winter snowstorm today. Got maybe 8 inches. By the time I got around to shoveling it was pretty wet and heavy and starting to freeze. But I got the driveway and all walks cleared. Not too tough for the first time this year. There will be many more like this. And the snow blower still sits unused in the garage. I may get it working this year.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Will everyone please stop moving the cheese!

Like everyone else, I get used to doing things a certain way and I find it at least irritating when they change things without asking me first. For example, my Google Reader has new colors and design. Okay, it's not so bad and it will probably seem better after I use it awhile. It's just change.

Worse, though, they changed the entire board of my Lexulous game. It no longer resembles Scrabble. And now they are giving us 8 letters instead of 7. My Scrabble partner and I are still trying to play but I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around these new rules. Worst of all, it isn't Scrabble and that's what I want!

Wordscraper, the other scrabble-like option on Facebook is changing as well. The board has changed three times in the past day, and we now have 8 letters there too. Not surprising since both games were designed by those genius Indian brothers (the original Scrabulous). They have put up messages that they'll soon explain the changes. I have a feeling I'm not going to like the explanation as they have now made the customizable board unable to accept a duplicate of the Scrabble layout. Grrrr.

What else?

Oh yeah, I finally switched from IE to Firefox. It's mostly okay now, I've gotten used to where things are. But on my laptop I can't log into my bank account, I have to switch to IE. I know it's some setting and I could probably figure it out, but I just don't want to spend the time.

Okay. Enough whining. Life is good.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Darkness

The days become shorter and shorter. It is dark for a long time after I get up in the morning. It is becoming dark when I get off work, even if I only work till 4. I could get so much done in the summertime with daylight lasting much longer. The dark discourages me from my projects. Makes me want to snuggle in a blanket on my couch in front of the TV. It's not just the dark, it's the cold. After 60 years in this state, you'd think I would be used to this. But this year I feel more acutely aware of the dark and cold than ever before. Perhaps because many days can go by that I simply stay at home and don't have any human contact. This is a result of working from home, I know--the downside, I guess.

One bright spot is sitting by my patio door in the mid-day and watching the birds gathering at the feeders. The aggressive jays entertain me the most as they chase one another and fight over the peanuts I put out. I'm stingy with the peanuts as they are expensive. The jays seem to almost be watching for me to put them out as they are there within minutes cautiously looking around before snatching one and then flying off a ways to hide it. I haven't seen one actually eat a peanut yet, they just hide them. I tease them a bit by putting the peanuts in odd places -- even right by the door. They always find them and even if a little nervous about it, they'll even grab one by the door.

Nothing exotic yet at the feeders: Scrub jays, finches, black-capped chickadees, and juncos, with the quail cleaning up all the seeds that drop to the ground. We'll see more variety when the snow comes. Plenty of natural food around still.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Nine is enough

Counted my bird feeders--thought I had four or five. I bought another one, and another. Then I counted and thought I had eight, and then remembered the one in the apple tree. That makes nine. I think that's enough . I'm clustering them around the back patio so I can see the birds more easily from indoors when the snow sets in. I think I'll leave two in the front so I can watch the birds when I go out to shovel.

I devised a tall pole to hold a couple of the feeders. I planted it in a pot below my deck so I could reach and fill the feeders while keeping them out of reach of the deer. I used PVC pipe (two pipes taped together with duct tape) and some sprinkling system fittings. It leans a bit, so I devised a brace to hold it just the right distance from the rail. Not quite perfect yet. I need to work on it a little more.

I'll post a picture if and when I actually complete this little invention.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A dirty job

But someone's got to do it -- right? Worked three hours in the garage today (no, yesterday, it's a new day now!). A good portion of that was spent taking apart old metal shelving. I know, why bother? Well, by taking it apart, it ends up in small enough pieces to fit in my large garbage can and I don't have to try to find some way of having it hauled away. But there are other large pieces of cabinetry in there that will probably require a dumpster. Then I remembered the contractor who did my exterior remodel offered to bring his large trailer dumpster and let me put as much as I wanted in it no charge. I think I'll call him today.

There's still so much to do in the garage, but the progress is more apparent now. I just keep breaking it up into smaller tasks and not worry about getting the whole thing done. I''ll get there eventually.

I was so tired after I finished, I went to bed early without even watching the news. Now I'm awake too early, but can't get back to sleep now, so I'm going to put the coffee on and start my day.

I think I've never adjusted to daylight savings time.

Well, that was day one of five. I made a list of things I wanted to get done. Today, I leave the garage for awhile and do some of the outdoor tasks. Some weeding, put down some weed preventer. Kill another gopher or two. I might even transplant some thyme. Making fine progress on that list.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Five Days Off!

I thought I'd just ask for Wednesday and Thursday since I have a meeting on Friday. I have accumulated so much leave, I'd be in a position of use-or-lose by sometime in January, and I'd rather use the time now while the weather is beautiful and the yard needs attention.

My boss said, why not take Friday, too? You can miss staff meeting. Really? Well all righty then!

So no big plans, not going anywhere special. Hopefully make some progress on that big project, the garage. And do some final puttering around the yard. And maybe continue my records shredding project. And maybe, just maybe, call my contractor about starting the remodel of the kitchen. Gotta do my part for the economy. So many projects, and just five days.

Five days!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dog Progress

Today the dog had his frequent weekend buddy with him in the yard. This is an older, bigger, and much louder barker. He means business. So I tossed a couple of doggie treats being sure they each got some. The older guy ate it up and then continued barking as loudly as ever. The younger one kept looking at him as if to say, don't do that or we might not get more treats.

Got my hair cut today. I like it.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Making friends with the neighbors' (dog)

Every time I sit on my deck, the neighbor's dog barks and barks and won't stop. I don't blame him. He's in a small yard with high fences and my deck looks down into his yard. I'm sure I seem threatening to him. I don't blame his owners--I'm sure they don't dare leave him alone in the house all day, I've seen what he can do to cushions, styrofoam, and other delights. But I just can't enjoy my deck either. Finally, I bought some doggy treats and today I tossed one down to him as he barked. He snarfed it right up. Then he looked at me and started to bark and changed his mind and sort of said 'rrrruff' quietly as if to let me know he'd give me a pass today, but don't start thinking I'm going to be nice all the time.

I keep thinking maybe it's time for a pet of my own. I don't know.

Here's tonight's video:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keeping busy

On my lunch hour today, I put gopher poison down several gopher burrows -- careful to cover them up again so no birds or other little critters might partake. Also tried some new locations for bird feeders to try to thrwart the deer. We'll see how it goes. The mild weather makes me want to be working in the yard again. Nice weather is predicted for the weekend.

A school bus is parked by my house where it broke down today. I heard voices and looked out to see a swarm of little children running all over my yard waiting for the backup bus to come. I had no cookies to offer them. No cookies at all in the house!

"?" and I have decided to stop seeing each other. We're both sad but think it's the right thing. I'm just keeping busy. Been here before, after all. We parted friends.

After work tonight I shredded about two decades of old bank statements -- part of my goal of getting rid of old saved paper. Then went to the grocery store and bought mostly things I don't need but were on sale. I feel productive but tired now. Have to go in to the office tomorrow, so must sleep now, early morning.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Still raining

How many days of rain has it been? I've lost count. It seems more than we usually get this time of year. The grass and weeds are growing. If this keeps up, I'll need to do another round of weeding and mow the lawn sometime in November -- if it ever dries out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Monday at the Sheraton

Well these are videos from another venue, another time, but very much what we saw.


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Do Wop

I was still pretty young when 50's do-wop was popular, but I still loved it. I loved poodle skirts and bobby socks and American Bandstand and rock and roll. Years later when I heard Huey Lewis and the News doing this great revival of the old do-wop style, it became my fave of theirs. How can such a sad song sound so happy?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Memory

Sometimes in the wee hours of the morning I like to play the piano in the dark. The problem with that, of course, is you can only play tunes you've memorized. I have one Chopin Etude I like to play but don't have entirely memorized. But almost. I've played it a million times--at least (exaggerating). I can get it started, but at some point I start thinking about what comes next, and then I lose it. But if I turn on a dim light in the kitchen that provides just a tiny glow in the living room, and then look at the music book as I play, somehow, even though I can't really see the notes in more than a vague way, I can play it. I realize the memory is in my fingers, and I just don't trust my fingers to remember, and having that crutch of a music book, even if I can't see it, helps me remember.

It's kind of like trusting your gut. Sometimes when you sit quietly and think about things without distractions, you get some very honest understandings about things. But we want to listen to our conscioius mind and ignore our gut or hunches that so often prove to be right.

Memory takes many forms, not always entirely conscious. It can be very helpful to listen to the subtle clues that come to us at such times.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Resolution

I'm cutting back to two cups of coffee a day - just in the morning. I've already given up soft drinks, and rarely drink tea any more, so this will significantly cut my caffeine consumption. Determined to get more sleep.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

W.


This was not a Reel Women outing, I viewed this one on my own, but decided to do a review anyway.

Here's what I felt: The movie itself was well-done, well-acted, but the subject matter was like reliving a nightmare. I found it hard to sit through the entire thing.

There's no plot to give away since everything in the movie is a matter of record. The movie shows Bush as the arrogant ne'er-do-well from college years through the Iraq war. We were spared the devastating crash of our economy.

Do I recommend seeing it? Only if you have the stomach to watch as Bush makes blunders and mistakes and the outright lies that led to the Iraq war. The history is so recent and painful, it can be hard to take. But Oliver Stone has done a remarkable job of recording the Bush administration for history.

May the world recover from the Bush presidency.

So November

The North wind doth blow
We soon shall have snow
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing

She'll sit in the barn
To keep herself warm
And hide her head under her wing, poor thing.
Today we rolled the clocks back an hour -- I didn't do it before bed, but I shut off the alarm and slept long and soundly. Almost eight hours. That's rare for me. Now I have my coffee, I think the sun is up, but it's gray, cloudy, sort of rainy. Walked around the yard with my hot coffee in hand. The rain is very light. I love this November look the yard has taken on. Leaves everywhere --I still haven't cleaned them up. Some flowers still doing their best to put forth blooms. The fire bushes all in red. Gold and brown everywhere.

I see things I want to do out there. Now I may have to divide my time between the yard and the garage today. With the ground nice and wet and rain predicted for a couple more days, I can split some of those thyme plants and fill in the spaces still needing some (just like free plants). Fertilize that upper level to encourage the volunteer grass. I could stand to do some random weeding, but that will wait for a dryer day.

Making even just a little progress in the garage encourages me. I love these Sundays with no specific plans, just wide open free time to do whatever I want.

Friday, October 31, 2008

So crazy, it just might work

I have a hare-brained idea (or is it hair-brained?). I've been wondering what to do with that upper level that used to be all in grass, but hasn't been watered in years and is nothing but weeds. I decided that would be next year's project, and have just weed whacked it every few weeks or so just to keep things under control. And then a little miracle of sorts. After the snow melted off from that first storm of the season, the whole area was covered with little grass shoots. They are growing and could actually stand mowing. Now they are still thin, but they cover nearly the entire area. Why would I want to till up actual grass that has suddenly volunteered all on its own?

I think I'll fertilize and cover with mulch. Probably mow it first. And then let nature take its course. Hoping that next spring I'll have a nice little lawn there where the grandkids can play croquet and badminton and boules.

Here's the crazy part. I'm about to rake up the lovely autumn leaves that are nearly finished falling. My friend says he just mows his and doesn't rake. Well I'm thinking, hmmm, I have a mulching mower. What if I spread my leaves over the entire level and then mow without bagging -- will it mulch them up into a nice layer to help those tender shoots in the spring. Seems like the leaves would make a nice blanket for the winter.

Ok, that's my plan for Saturday. If I end up with a little lawn on that level, the ONLY actual flat place in my entire yard, I'm going to be very happy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This roller coaster we call life

I think I've said it before, one of my favorite movies is Steve Martin's "Parenthood". It is so full of little nuggets of truth and advice for parents. Some really good perspective. But one of my very favorite parts is when, just as Steve Martin has just lost his job and finds out his wife is pregnant, the old grandmother recalls when she was young her husband took her on the roller coaster and how she loved it. "Some people," she said (paraphrasing here), "only like the merry-go-round. But it justs goes round and round -- nothing. But I like the roller coaster -- thrilling. Up and down!" Okay, I don't have the words exactly right, but the metaphor is right. And point well taken. Life is more thrilling because of its ups and downs. And it's good to remember that when we have some of the downs. Because some ups will always follow. Up and down!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Duchess

Five Stars for this movie!

I'm a little slow getting around to this - we saw this about two weeks ago. It wasn't our regular Reel Women movie. We were celebrating Celia's birthday--dare I say it? The big 60! Welcome to the darker side, Celia!

***Spoilers Ahead***

The Duchess movie is like reading a delicious historical novel. It is, in fact, based on true characters. The Duchess of Windsor (Kiera Knightly) was said to be one of the most powerful and influential women of her time. She grew into the role through the remarkable events in her life. Married at a very young age to the Duke of Windsor (Ralph Fiennes), she found she had but one purpose to him--bear a son. After the births of three daughters, the cold, loveless Duke turned openly to lovers. Turmoil and intrigue ensued. When he made a lover of her best friend, the duchess reached her limit and sought her own love, Charles Gray. She endured great sorrow as a result, giving up her child fathered by Gray (who would later go on to become Prime Minister). Ultimately she made peace of sorts with her husband, living with his lover/her best friend as husband and wives.

We found ourselves riveted with this film, though we decided later the men in our lives probably would not enjoy it as we did. The costumes in this movie are surely destined for an Academy Award nomination. The videography as well. And the script and acting. This is a nearly flawless and beautiful movie and our group gives its unreserved recommendation.

We preceded our matinee movie with luncheon at Bakers de Normandie where we celebrated Celia's birthday. Between lunch and the movie, we visited Betsy's home to see her fabulous waning autumn garden.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More fun

With granddaughter spending the night after the party, it only made sense to have an outing together. Little did we know how far afield our whims would take us. We started with having breakfast out while we examined our wild bird field guides and determined where we would go for some amateur birding. We chose Bear River Bird Refuge (which was a bust after all since we saw nothing but mudflats and no birds). We followed up with highly successful bookstore shopping and lotion and bath stuff shopping. Light lunch and then a drive out to Antelope Island where we did see many birds and a number of bison, visited the Garr ranch, took a bunch of pictures, and then finally made our way home. We'd been gone about 10 hours in all and we were exhausted. Maybe not a smart thing to do following our previous day that ended in exhaustion, but you take those opportunities with a grandchild any time you can get them.

A good time was had by all

The party was an unqualified success. Everything was so special, so lovely. Mom was pleased. Dad was pleased, too. We had a huge crowd. Just our family makes for a lot of people. But many neighbors and friends came as well. The food was great. The slideshow of the old photos was just wonderful. The cake was nothing short of spectacular. The decorations just beautiful. I don't know how it could have been better. I took a million pictures and will get prints made to add to mom's memory book.

My granddaughter came home with me to spend the night. I think we'll have some quality girly time together today. What an amazing girl she is. Thirteen years old, still child but becoming adult. At one moment talking about anime cartoons, and the next discussing the problems with trickle-down economics. She just tickles me.

My body aches today from hard work and being on my feet for so many hours, but my heart feels good.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Our big party

After months of planning and preparation, our party day arrives tomorrow. Mom's 80th birthday. Her birthday isn't really until December, but she was worried about people driving long distances in unpredictable weather, so we all agreed October would serve better. My sisters are such talented and creative women, and I'm excited to see the results of everyone's efforts. I know it's going to be fabulous. I'll be there with my camera for additional photos to add to mom's memory book. I'm tired from staying up late working on my own part of the projects, but at least I'm on top of it. Just have to do my food prep tomorrow and help with the setup. Then we'll party.

Sunday, I'm taking the entire day off from any kind of housework or yardwork. Think I'll go to the bird refuge and perhaps a movie too.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gray day

Dark clouds are moving in from across the lake. A little chillier this morning. It was all predicted. Only a two-day interruption to our beautiful weather. I keep peeking out the window to see if the trash has been picked up yet. I filled the can too full. Spent my lunch hour yesterday pruning. And then digging up grass after work. Got a lot done, but produced many bags -- too many.

So a happy tune is called for.


Good news, they picked up the overflowing trash can with no problem.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Celebrate good times, come on!

Happy birthday to my best friend, my childhood friend. We're gonna celebrate and have a good time! I love you, girl. Have a great day. Forget growing old, may we NEVER grow up!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

First Snow

A powder sugar dusting.
I may just get used to having fun not work on the weekend. This time I remembered to shut off the alarm last night, and slept all the way to 8 a.m. -- late for me. Drank coffee a long time while doing crosswords, sudokus, and watching the news. Then off on errands. Stopped in at the wild bird store in Layton as I knew they were having live raptors today for photographing. I got shots of bald eagle, golden eagle, pergrine falcon, and American kestral. Got a new bird feeder and a Utah birdwatching book autographed by the authors. Dropped in next on Nance and had a nice visit followed by shopping.

It was the first snow of the year. Slushy in places on the road, even a little slick. Required the defroster. I'm going to have to replace those windshield wipers. I don't think they're supposed to leave a smear at eye level on the driver's side. I always get an excited feeling when we have the first snow. Now I'm settled in to watch a detective movie, "Twilight" with Paul Newman, Gene Hackman, Susan Sarandon, James Garner.

What a nice day.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Little Women

As a child, how many times did I read this book? Literally dozens of times. Growing up in a family with many sisters, it was easy to imagine myself Jo, with sisters Meg, Beth, and Amy. Like Jo, I loved books, and would hide away in a corner (or often high up in the apple tree), and read for hours. I read mostly library books, and owned a few special ones -- one was Little Women. So when I ran out of library books, I would just read it again. And again. And again. Tonight I was lucky enough to catch on television the 1933 movie with Katherine Hepburn. I still never tire of this simple, lovely story.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

No time for personal blogging

I am so involved, too involved really, with writing about the presidential campaign, my blogging time is all taken up with that. It's odd how my life feels strangely in limbo right now. The economy in serious trouble, but I'm not feeling it personally yet except to see my losses on paper. The presidential election gives one the feeling that something entirely new and better could be right around the corner -- or not.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Got the camera

Before running to the airport, picked up some supplies for the sprinkling system. Then found that camera store that was recommended to me. They were really great, showed me not only the camera I came to look at, but comparable ones. I did purchase the camera. Found out they have free classes on how to use this camera. I'll definitely be signing up. The battery is charging now, and then I'll try out the camera for the first time.

Poor Jenn got food poisoning her last night in the Philippines. She looked so pale and frail. But is doing better now, ate a little dinner. We played a few Scrabble moves online during the debate.

Have to go in to the office tomorrow, so off to bed now.

Weed-whacking success

Finished the upper level and that's the last of the weed whacking for the year. Everything is trimmed down nicely for the winter. Overdid it, of course. My arms feel weak and shaky from wielding that trimmer for over an hour. I'll have a little lunch and hopefully it will pass by then.

Then I'm off to purchase that camera. I've done a little research, gotten a few opinions, and made up my mind. Thanks to one recommendation, I found that model at a shop in town for nearly the best price I found on the internet (probably the same once you consider shipping). Excited!

Jenn gets home from the Philippines today at 4 and I'm picking her up at the airport. So looking forward to seeing her and hearing all about the trip.

Then after catching up and probably some dinner with Jenn, I'm settling in for the big event of the day: the debate. This should be fascinating.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's all in the timing

Took a lunch break, had a bite to eat, watched a little cable news, answered some emails. Almost time to get back to work, I walked outside to check on the yard just in time to see three deer bounding across the street and down into the gully. So they're still around. I hadn't seen them for the better part of a week. Walked around the place and saw the weeds are growing like -- weeds. Then standing on the corner, the water department guy drove down the street and had to stop at the stop sign just feet away. I stood there smiling at him and waved as he scowled at me. He finally waved. Hah! Made a dent in the tough guy exterior.

The water department

It's supposed to be another hot one today, so despite it being October, I'm having to water the yard -- desperately rushing to get it done before 10 a.m. lest I get a citation. I turn each station on and off manually and carefully time them so as not to overwater. As I was just outside turning on the last station, well before the cutoff time, the water department guys drove by in their truck. I waved a friendly wave thinking it never hurts to be courteous and friendly. I received a sneer in return. Well "f--- y--" I said right out loud, totally out of character for me! Then realized I said that loud enough for the neighbors to hear. Good lord, I'm going to get a reputation as that crazy neighbor lady who swears at cars driving by. Good lord, maybe I am!

Going to buy a camera

The clouds to the east last evening were so strange and spectacular, I so wanted a picture. But I know my cheap camera wouldn't do it justice, so I just sat and admired them instead. Then immediately started researching cameras online. I will buy a new camera this week. A decent one for a novice like me.

Go here to see the clouds. http://utahamicus.com/2008/09/30/clouds/

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Long Long Time

I caught the end of the Kevin Spacey movie about the life of Bobby Darin last evening. Got me to searching YouTube for Bobby Darin tunes and found this very special one with Linda Ronstadt from his 1970 television special. It doesn't get much better than this.

Shorter days

I'm forgetting the sun is with us a shorter time now. I have to get started outside a little later in the morning, and finish up a little sooner at night. After resting up from a wild afternoon with the grandkids, I decided to tackle the front lawn -- if I'd waited much longer I would require a machete instead of a mower. The temps are not supposed to be over 80 after 6 p.m. this time of year, but they are, so I decided to wait until 7, and very nearly didn't have enough daylight to finish. It normally takes me 45 minutes to mow the lawn, but the sun was already sinking behind Antelope Island when I was only a quarter of the way through. I stepped up the pace wondering if I might have to finish in the morning. Got it done with twilight to spare.

It was an exhausting day and I did sleep better. I woke up once as usual, but went back to sleep with no difficulty. Still have a lot of things on the LOTTD for Sept/Oct. So I'll be outside soon.

But shorter days mean more time to do things indoors. Time to make that transition. I can hardly believe summer is over.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Not sleeping

I often awaken at 2 or 3 in the morning. Wide awake. Sometimes, like this morning, I am startled awake by a disturbing dream. This is the one where I'm high up on some structure like steel girders and I need to find a way down. And I'm terrified of heights. In the dream I always manage to make some progress along the beam only to find I've reached an impossible place when I can't get down without somehow turning around or making some other impossible maneuver. I awaken with heart racing, palms sweating. There's just no going back to sleep.

There are things I do in the middle of the night. Surf the web, watch TV, play piano or guitar, do a load of laundry, do a crossword puzzle, write in my blog. Sometimes I just sit in the dark and look at the view from my window. It isn't always calming. I turn on the lights.

A friend of mine who is a counselor said this is an indication of depression. In my case I think she's wrong. I know what's disturbing my sleep. It's the many things yet undone in my house (and in my yard, but mostly in my house). I've been divorced a year, yet my garage is still full of junk my ex didn't want and left for me to deal with. There are some thiings I want to keep, like the lawn games for the kids, my golf clubs, a desk I want to sell. But everything got dumped on top of everything and some of the things on top are too heavy for me to move alone. The task of clearing out is so daunting, so overwhelming, I get started but it seems I don't even make a dent. I don't feel depressed about it, but anxious because it's not done, and not sure how to get it done.

But I never have the solutions when I'm awake in the wee hours. Those thought processes work better in the light of day. So I'll do a crossword puzzle, and pretty soon I won't be able to keep my eyes open, and finally sleep will return. I need to remember to turn off my alarm on the weekends. No sense getting up at 5 if I don't have to.

Friday, September 26, 2008

My most-read post ever

Today I posted a little anouncement about Scrabulous.com on my RedStateBlues page. The very popular game site had mysteriously disappeared overnight. My first indication was when my Scrabulous partner emailed me saying he couldn't get into the site. Upon a little investigation I discovered the problem (explained on RedStateBlue). In looking at my web page stats, I notice I was getting a number of hits on my previous posts about Scrabulous, and I realized people were looking for answers. So I posted under the title "Where is Scrabulous". Boom, the hits started coming! My little web site easily stays within the limits of the free StatCounter, but today, I have exceeded the limit with hits on that one page alone. I cross posted to my book review site to try to pick up some of the traffic there, but got little relief. I googled to see what other sites came up high on a google search. I was in second place. I cross posted my information to Wiki Answers and to Yahoo Answers, and that has eased up some of the hits.

Not that I mind the traffic as I notice some of the visitors stick around and visit some of my other posts while they are here. And it's fascinating getting hits from Trinidad and Tobago, Australia, all over the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom. (Add Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland, Norway, Sweden, South Africa, U.S. Armed Forces Pacific, Japan, Taiwan; so far nothing from the state of Alaska. I can't keep up with all the locations. Too many hits.)
But when you consider that an estimated half million people play Scrabulous every day, it's not surprising at all that a lot of people are trying to find out what happened to it.

I suppose this might very well be my 15 minutes of fame.

Two steps forward, and . . .

Tired again. Had to be up early yesterday to take Jenn to the airport. Then worked all day and socialized with Reel Women in the evening, followed by catching up on political news. Stayed up too late. Woke up at 3:30 thinking I heard my alarm go off, and had the coffee made by the time I actually noticed the time. So now drinking coffee and watching political news. This does not help my efforts at trying to get more sleep. Oh well, TGIF and the weekend is here. I'll take a nap this afternoon.

And off to a bad start, posted this by mistake to my Reel Women page first. Hmm, maybe I'd better take the day off. Not too sharp.

Vicky Christina Barcelona

Vicky and Christina are best friends, according to our narrator at the start of the movie, and while they agree on almost everything, they couldn't be more different in their views of love. Vicki knows what she wants, a safe, secure, dependable relationship., and is, in fact, engaged to just such a man. Christina is coming off the end of yet another relationship, seeking something, she's not sure what. The friends are on their way to Barcelona where they will stay with Vicki's relative, Judy (aunt I think), while Vicky plans to study Catalan culture for a couple of months and Christina is along just for the change of scenery. And beautiful scenery it was.

This movie, written and directed byWoody Allen, is all about love. The beautiful people and scenes from Spain enhanced the story. The movie provided a lot of passion, some romance, a little eroticism, and inevitable examination of feelings as you would expect from a Woody Allen movie. The story held few surprises, and yet was quite satisfying. We Reel Women liked this movie and give it our recommendation.


***Spoilers ahead***

Attending an art opening, Christina spots a young handsome artist. Later at a restaurant, Vicky and Christina see him again. He approaches them, asks them to go with him in a hour to a Spanish village to spend a couple of days to see some sculpture and make love. Vicky is indignant, Christina intrigued. They go. After a day of seeing the beautiful sights, followed by good food and wine, Vicky returns to her hotel room, Christina goes to Antonio's room. But the lovemaking does not proceed as Christina is suddenly taken ill.

The next two days Christina is confined to bed and Vicki and Antonio after spending much time together and growing to like one another, fall into a passionate encounter, but it is to be just a one-night stand.

Returning to Barcelona, Vicky throws herself into her work and Christina and Antonio take up a relationship. Antonio's ex-wife, the exotic and fiery Maria Elena, enters the story when he takes her in following her suicide attempt. Christina is not jealous and the relationship of the three becomes first friendly and then erotic with encounters among all combinations of the three.

Vicki meantime is questioning whether she really wants the man and life she has chosen. But he surprises her with a suggestion that he join her in Barcelona where they will have a Spanish wedding. They do marry and he remains in Barcelona while she continues her research, but Vicky is melancholy.

Inevitably, Christina tires of the relationship and decides to leave. Since she was the "glue" of the group, Antonio and Maria Elena return to fighting and subsequently part as well. A few days before returning to America, Vicky encounters Antionio by chance and realizes she wants to be with him. He calls her to meet him for lunch the following day. She declines, but ends up meeting him, lying to her husband about where she is going.

At Antonio's home they are about to fall again into lovemaking when Maria Elena appears with a gun. The ensuing tussle includes some firing of the gun and Vicki receives a graze on her hand. She suddenly comes to her senses and realizes Antonio is not who she wants after all. She and her husband and Christina return to America.

The story unfolds at a comfortable, unhurried pace, though I wouldn't say it ever dragged. The dialog is distinctly Woody Allen. You can almost hear Diane Keaton speaking some of the lines. And yet it had a different flavor that felt like a fresh Woody Allen. If you like Woody Allen, this is a good bet for you.

---------------
We began the evening with a repeat visit to Stoneground Pizza for some of that very special pasta. All of the group was together for dinner, but a couple were unable to stay for the movie. As I looked around at this eclectic group of women, I was struck with what a smart, savvy, talented group of women they are. No wonder I so look forward to our monthly get-together.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Walking

At last I have started walking again. This time it's the hills. I decided to walk up as far as I could stand it and then take a route home that was all downhill. Worked quite well and I was surprised at my own stamina on the uphill leg. It felt great to be walking again and saved a lot of time over driving down into Bountiful as I was doing last year. Tonight I'll go a little farther. The walk followed an hour of transplanting Russian Sage and Jupiter's Beard plants that had volunteered. So cross that project off the LOTTD.

Tonight, of course, I have to do my civic penance and attend traffic school so as not to have points applied to my driver's license. It's only an hour and it's at 5 p.m., so I'll still have time to do another small yard project and a walk, too. My friend formerly in law enforcement advised me "don't talk" at traffic school. I wonder why he would advise me that -- perhaps knows me too well. I assured him I would keep my lips zipped.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The end of summer

It's the first day of fall. Cooler definitely. Light rain today. As they say, all good things must end. But ever hopeful, good things must also start.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

You really got a hold on me

If for no other reason than for the amazing choreography of the Miracles backing up Smokey. There are better recordings of this, but the visual is so classic.


And. of course, the cover by the Beatles.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Busted

Got pulled over for speeding in SLC yesterday. Got a ticket for 5 mph over. I deserved more. I couldn't argue with it. The officer thanked me for being so nice about it. What could I do? I was guilty and then some. It's painful to have to pay the fine. But maybe I'll be more responsible in the future. I tend to go a little too fast on the city streets. It's not a smart thing to do.

A friend introduced me to a term "cognitive dissonance". It's been bugging me ever since. Here's a good example, I like to think of myself as a "nice" and "law-abiding" person. Yet I exceed speed limits which not only breaks the law, but also possibly puts others in danger - not at all nice. That's cognitive dissonance.

So now either I need to change how I behave or change how I think of myself.

Monday, September 15, 2008

About a million phalaropes, and two nice drives

My friend told me there are thousands of migrating phalaropes to be seen along the Antelope Island causeway. I had to see for myself. Took a drive out there yesterday hoping to see them. See them!? Can't miss them! Hundreds of thousands of them, maybe a million. The water is dotted with them as far as the eye can see. A couple of groups performed some aerial acrobatics for me, flying in formation low across the water and then on cue the whole group flying straight upward, and turning with a flash of first white and turning again with a sweep of black, great fun to watch. That was about 5 p.m. When I returned from the island near sunset, there was no more flying, all seemed settled down for the night. But a thrilling sight to see.

While I was there, I went all the way out to the island and drove the shoreline to Garr Ranch. Saw several hundred bison along the way, most in one large herd that happened to be crossing the road. I forgot my camera and so have no pics of those mammoth beasts. They seem so tame, and a few people got out of there cars to get photos. Not advisable. I also saw actual antelope, the first time I've seen them on Antelope Island (and that includes numerous visits there). I had stated to think the island had been misnamed.

On the way home I took my second drive on Legacy Parkway. I blogged about it on my RedStateBlues blog today, so won't repeat it here except to say it's very nice, the state did a good job meeting the goals of the parkway.

So take my advice, get out to the causeway and see those phalaropes before they move on south. And drive the Legacy. Two very nice drives I recommend.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Moonset

I know it's blurry, but somehow it was the best I could get this morning, to my eye it was so big and bright, but to my camera so small and distant. Perspective makes such a difference.

The full moon reflecting on the lake shone directly into my west window as I sat in the dark with my coffee. You can't really see the moon moving except in relation to the horizon. But as it imperceptively sank in the sky, it grew larger becoming first pale yellow and finally full orange, the first hints of a harvest moon, before the final sliver melted into the mountaintop of Antelope Island. By then its brightness that had illuminated my neighborhood was rapidly being replaced by the first light of the approaching sunrise.

I am already dressed and coffee'd up waiting for enough light before hitting the myrtle patch. That's today's project. I am looking forward to the physical work of it. I have so many things on my mind today and this will give me a chance to think through them all.

I know changes are coming. I'm prepared for that. Some of it is within my control. But so much is yet unknown. It's not ominous. It will ultimately be good. I'm a person who likes predictability, but since we cannot see the future, we have to wait and allow things to unfold on their own. I am also an intuitive person. Sometimes that can be unsettling. Still I listen, pay attention, but do not act. Just wait, let things take their own course.

One of my sisters and I took in a chick flick last night, both of us single and without a date on a Saturday night! But a sister can be about the best company a girl can have. The movie was fun. Silly, but fun. And, as always, I came away with a little nugget of something to think about: What do I want? The character in the movie wrote it down and posted it where she would see it, and then added to it.

So that's where I will start this morning as I tackle the myrtle. What do I want? It's a big question.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The good thing about funerals . . .

. . . is seeing people you haven't seen for many years, people you love, who grew up with you, who shared some of the fondest childhood memories with you. Dad, mom and I arrived early and talked with my aunt before the crush of people arrived. I avoided looking long at the coffin, I know that's hard for me and best not to look. Linda was the first of my cousins to walk in the door. She rushed to us with tears starting and that was it for me too. So a little weeping and much hugging later with more and more cousins arriving, we pulled ourselves together and settled down to some wonderful conversations and catching up.

I looked around at this Griffin family - beautiful people, physically beautiful. The younger generations I don't know but recognize as they have those Griffin genes and I see the eyes, the build, the hair, the smile, it's remarkable. The Griffins are a musical bunch -- didn't we all have piano lessons? We sang a couple of hymns during the service and the voices were beautiful. At one point all of my uncle's grandchildren and great-grandchildren sang a medley of songs. I counted over 50 descendants.

Uncle was a renowned singer in the community, and his daughter today played for us a medley of songs he loved to sing -- an emotional moment during the service. I am proud of my five cousins who each gave short speech, a prayer, or music. Everyone remembered, as I did, that uncle was like a big kid, and indeed would rather be outside playing with the kids than inside talking with the adults. Many, many good memories. Not that his life was without problems, but that he offered something special that influenced many people, his children most of all.

The funeral was not the long, sad thing I am used to. The speakers were brief, positive, reflecting on happy times, telling stories about their father. There was almost no preaching nor even much talk of being together in the next life - as though that's a given and we needn't go into that. The bishop did offer something at the end, but I spaced out his words as I admired the old Garland tabernacle with its dark beams and stained glass windows, rare for a Mormon church.

We all then drove the 20 miles to the tiny Newton cemetary for the graveside service. And then much more hugging, reluctant to have to say goodbye to our dear cousins, our aunts who have grown so small and fragile. Dad and mom were tired and we skipped the dinner served in Garland and instead went straight home.

Before parting, Christina and I said we would try next year to organize a family picnic if not a reunion (reunions sound like a lot of work and a picnic sounded easier). We have good intentions to try to see each other more often. I don't know if we'll follow through. But I do know I'm a very fortunate person to be in the middle of such a big loving family. No, it's not a perfect family, but taken as a whole, a very good place to be.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Passages

We lost a favorite uncle this week to cancer. He was 80 and had been ill for several years. The funeral is tomorrow. I'm trying to be the big sister and organize a few things with the family. Ordered the flowers (got teary just trying to tell them what to put on the card), arranged to drive mom and dad to the funeral so they don't try to drive themselves. Deb offered to drive them tonight to the viewing. That's really all that was needed. I emailed everyone about the cost. Email sure makes things easy - saves many phone calls. I know it will be a long day tomorrow. Ogden to Garland, to Newton, back to Garland, back to Ogden, and then home. I don't like funerals as they make me feel so sad and cry too much. This uncle had a sense of humor, never met a practical joke he didn't like, and when we were kids built amazing snow forts at grandma's house. I don't want to cry remembering him. But I will. We all will.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

RedStateBlues is gone for now

If you are here because you couldn't find RedStateBlues, I've taken the site down for now. I don't know at this time what my future plans are for the site.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Only You

I know I had sworn off posting YouTube videos, but listening to oldies on Sirius tonight, I heard The Platters doing "Only You". Here's a group that had one hit after another. YouTube has them all. Give a listen. And if you have someone close by, don't miss this opportunity for a romantic slow dance. The video doesn't always load right off. If you have problems, click through to go directly to YouTube.

By the way, this video has had over 1,600,000 views on YouTube. Not bad for a hit from 1955. I was a pretty little kid then, but to this day I remember all the words to all their songs.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun

A marshy pond outside the Bear River Bird Refuge visitor's center.
Salt Creek Refuge looking southeast. This is at curve in the road that takes you out to Promontory Point and Golden Spike Monument. Click on the picture for a larger view and you will see hundreds of Canada geese which we startled into flight with our loud talking.
A partial view of Salt Creek refuge from the parking lot looking northeasterly. Farming towns of Thatcher and something else in the distance.
More Salt Creek looking east at the mountains that are east and somewhat north of Brigham City. Sorry this is blurry; might be the one with a snowy egret in the distance (click to enlarge)
According to a song by Noel Coward, at least (Mad Dogs, etc., see title of this post). However, add me to that list. I, too, was out in the midday sun today attempting to catch up on yardwork delayed by much playing this weekend. And although the temps were in the mid 80's and I've certainly mown the lawn in that heat before, I usually save it for the evening when the sun is less direct and some of my lawn is shaded. 'Bout did myself in this time. But I did manage to complete it as well as prune the wisteria, cut back a little more of the pfitzers, cut down something that I think might be poison oak, and did some weeding. Oh yes, tried to poison gophers. They have made two hills under the wisteria and one in my lovely flowers. The neighbors who refuse to combat them have hills all around their yard. And my rock wall is riddled with their tunnels. But I am getting serious with that area. I have decided to fill the burrows with cement. It will permanently fill the burrows and it will help strengthen the wall as well. Well, I've spent the last two hours recovering from the heat and I think I am finally feeling nearly normal.

Yesterday a good friend and I took an outing to Bear River Bird Refuge. We had planned to meet up and have lunch in Brigham City, but we encountered Peach Days and what with closed roads and crowds of people, had to change our plans somewhat. Then upon driving to the refuge, we encountered a gate forbidding entry by vehicles or pedestrians. At the visitor's center they explained to us that the drivable dikes are being paved and should be finished around the end of this month. They referred us to Salt Creek refuge northwest of Corinne. We decided to try it and it turned out to be a lovely place to visit. We had the entire place to ourselves. We saw great blue herons, snowy egrets, white-faced ibis (I challenge you to find the white face on this seemingly all black bird), pelicans, double-crested cormorants, something we thought were Phalaropes, but now I think were Western Grebes, hundreds of Canada geese, a variety of ducks, swallows, and hawks which we didn't identify.

A strange sight we encountered was decomposed and half eaten carcasses of sheep. The workers at the refuge told us the sheep did not die there, but died elsewhere and were brought in to attact the coyotes, foxes, raccoons, and other predators that normally feast on eggs and young birds in the nests along the shoreline.

The workers also told us many of the Canada geese had been captured from parks and golf courses in Salt Lake City where they are considered a nuisance, and relocated here. We decided they took the prize yesterday both in population size and in noise.

I think I have fallen in love with this remote and beautiful location. I will visit it again alone sometime in an early morning, with a good supply of coffee and a folding chair, I'll set up a site where I can sit quietly and wait for the birds to come in close. (I so need a good camera.) I could not get good pictures of any birds yesterday, but some nice landscape. With my new field guide and handy quick reference guide, and notebook for jotting notes, I'll spend some serious time observing and logging my sightings. The migration is just starting and the next couple of months will provide some excellent viewing. I wish I had a little canoe for rowing amongst the marshes.

So now, the weekend is all but over. I think I may do another hour of weeding in a shady part of the yard. And then I'll do a little grocery shopping and call it a day.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chill in the air

I didn't have a chance to work in the yard yesterday. but just walked around and checked things out. Seems the rainy weekend, including hail, just invigorated everything (including the weeds). Everything seems recharged for the last run up to fall. I'll get out this week and do what will probably be the last weeding of the season. Trim back bushes and trees. It's chilly inside and out but I refuse to turn on the heat yet. Too soon, too soon. Temps will moderate as this week goes on and they are predicting some really beautiful weather. I need to get some pics of the yard.

Filled up the four-day weekend with so much fun. As usual, have to go back to work for a rest from all the fun.

I need to get serious about a few inside projects. I dislike having construction going on in the house - it's so disruptive. But I do need to buckle down and do it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Oh for a camera, again!

Out working on the pfitzers, and had another visit. This time two does, two fawns, and one THREE point buck. Probably the one I thought was a two-point, but the rack has grown and is definitely three. They grazed on the grass next door and across the street. They looked directly at me to see if I seemed threatening and seemed satisfied I wasn't. I stopped working and just watched. Passersby slowed and looked. The largest of the does finally walked directly into my yard only feet away from me, and checked out the bird feeder. Brazen little vixen! Some joggers came along making a lot of noise, and scared our little family away.

When will I remember to take my camera with me when I'm out in the yard.

Hoo boy, it was a big job this morning. A couple of hours and managed to do serious damage to those old pfitzers. Lot of scary things in and amongst the limbs, creepy crawly things. As the song goes, I don't like spiders and snakes. I know there were lots of the former, and I fear possibly the latter. My practice is to make a lot of noise going in so anything scary has a chance to leave. Filled the trash can to overflowing and have a large pile of limbs besides. Do you suppose one of the city crew might stop by on one of their trips down the hill and take those limbs? They have a "green" drop-off site at the city shops, but I have no vehicle good for hauling such things. No I don't suppose they would do that.

And the humming birds are out in full force today visiting the hyssop (my friend whose name I am forbidden to mention in this blog says I manage to work the word "hyssop" into every conversation), and chasing one another away as if there wasn't enough for everyone! Ah, what a lovely day!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Over-reacting

I've sulked a lot today over my warning from the water department. And I felt rather immature about the whole thing. After all, I was in violation. But I finally realized why it bothered me so much -- and it had nothing to do with the possibility of a fine. It was far more personal.

What thing has occupied more of my time, energy, strength, finances, love, and devotion this summer than my yard (as evidenced by this very blog). I am always out there mowing, clipping, weeding, planting, watering, hauling huge heavy loads of mulch and steer manure. I've seen them in their trucks staring at me as they drive by. I imagined them down at the city shops saying to one another, "That Mrs. S. up on the hill, doesn't she work hard in her yard, always out there in the heat of the day. And have you noticed that she consumes far less water now than in the past? What a fine citizen!" Not unlike Ralphie in my favorite Christmas movie, "The Christmas Story", when he turns in his theme while dreaming of his teacher's reaction: A! Plus! Plus! Plus! And then reality when the graded themes are returned: C! Minus! Oh, nooooooo.

Yes, that's exactly how I felt. Like I had been outside most of the summer with my body aching and sweat dripping in my eyes, expecting to get an A plus, only to get barely a passing grade.

Upon this realization, I made a tall glass of iced tea, and went to sit on my patio intending to do absolutely nothing the rest of the day. Which I nearly managed to accomplish. And a small flock of finches joined me and sat patiently in the apple tree until I moved a little further away so they could visit the bird bath. And with that nice visit, I was over my pout.

North Salt Lake - Grrrr

I was having a lovely morning of puttering around the yard and getting some watering done. I am very careful about my watering and have over the last several years greatly reduced my consumption by xeriscaping large areas of my yard and reducing the area of Kentucky Blue Grass. And what is my reward? This morning at precisely 10:15 I was issued a warning by the water department that I was in violation of city code that prohibits watering between 10 am and 6 p.m.

Okay, I was in violation, but I was nearly done, the temps were not hot today, and I was only 15 minutes into the prohibited time. The cowardly guy didn't bother to ring the doorbell and just kindly remind me. Instead he went to the trouble of writing me up and posting the warning on my door. I had heard him pull up, so was opening the door just as he was getting into his truck to drive off. No words were exchanged.

According to my written warning, I get one such warning. The next one entails a $100 fine (though inexplicably the fine drops to $50 per occurrence after that). So now along with my backflow inspection, I must be extra careful to keep my watering within the proper time bounds.

And since I know that at least one city councilman reads my blog from time to time, I am suspecting that they didn't like my previous post about the backflow inspection and sent the little water gestapo guy to lie in wait. Nah, they wouldn't do that, would they?

So now I'm sure I'd better get that inspection done too, although I haven't received the promised warning in that regard, they will no doubt abide the letter of the law and pull out my fingernails one by one (to mix my metaphors) until I comply.

Grrrrr.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Labor Day

Three day weekend coming up. I'm tempted to take off Friday and make it four. They are calling for temps in the mid-90's on Saturday, and then rain and mid-60's on Monday. The season change will be setting in soon. Have windows in the house open today, no need for air conditioning with temps in the 70's. Lovely.

We learned our department will be working round the clock January 1st and forward several weeks to support a major software installation. So we lose the holiday on the 1st and our weekends. No vacations can be scheduled. I need to use some vacation before then as I will be in a use-or-lose situation by then. I noticed I'm schedule for graveyard shift one week. This will be interesting. I've never worked a graveyard shift in my life. Well, we're all in the same boat, so I'll tough it out and hopefully survive it.

Yes, the more I think about it, the more I think I need Friday off.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How'd I miss this? North Salt Lake is requiring immediate inspection of backflow devices

The mailbox was full of the usual junk mail yesterday. Almost never receive anything I actually want or need. Usually goes directly in the trash or the shredder (in the case of credit card applications). But a newsletter from the city, hmm, I sometimes like to read those. They used to be little black and white photocopied things, but with our new mayor, we've stepped up to full-color, glossy. But, sadly, the writing has not improved. Still there might be news about the fall trash pickup, so I'd better look through it. Amidst all the exciting news of home beautification awards, 72-hour emergency kits, and police reminders, buried on page three one little item caught my eye: Home Backflow Devices Need To Be Tested.

Apparently I should already have known about this as the article tells us inspections are to be completed "ASAP". I think I had a backflow device installed when I had a guy work on the sprinkling system a few years ago. There are water boxes next to my front porch, and I remember him telling me something about what was in them if I were to open the lids. I never have. But now might be the time.

I went to the NSL city website to see if I could find out more about this and discovered I'm actually delinquent. The inspections were to have been completed by August 15th. If not, homeowners will receive a reminder and will have 15 days to complete the work. If still not completed, homeowners will be cited and fined. And, I noted, the city will no longer perform this work for free (they used to do it for free?).

The city was good enough to provide a list of companies and the associated rates they charge for the inspection, needed repairs, and reinspection: generally $45, $65, and $45 respectively. I'll study it further and try to find the best price. Some of them say they will charge less for up to five neighbors who have the inspection done at the same time. But the savings is small, not worth trying to get my neighbors organized. Certainly none of them have contacted me to arrange this savings.

How did I miss this? I looked up the July newsletter which was still online. No mention of it. Did it come with the water bill? Unlikely, since that is just a little postcard. Well, I guess it has to be done, and I certainly don't want to be polluting water for people downstream, so to speak, from me.

Put it on the LOTTD.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Time to write up a new LOTTD

I've been drifting along, just sort of keeping up with things and enjoying the end of summer. But cooler weather is coming and it will soon be time to put the yard to bed for the winter. I have things in my mind I want to do, but I know the only way I really get it all done is via my famous lists of things to do. The list drives me and I refuse to be defeated by items left unchecked. So that's what I'll do. Tomorrow.

Tonight I want to watch Hillary's speech. I also intended to saw off some big branches from the pfitzers for the past three days and excused myself due to the heat. But tonight is a good 15 degrees lower and I have no excuse. I could get it done before the speech. And I want to start up my daily walking again. This time I won't drive down to Bountiful, I'll simply walk the hillside around my own house. I won't obviously walk as far as on the flat streets, but the strenuousness of the hike should make up for it.

Still, tonight I'm simply sleepy. So it remains to be seen if I will complete any of my three goals for tonight.

UPDATE: Well I sawed off two large limbs, cut them up into managable pieces. Watched Hillary. Didn't walk, but did water the yard.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Brideshead Revisited

This movie was judged to be an unqualified Five Stars by all in our Reel Women group.

Based on Evelyn Waugh's 1945 classic British novel, Brideshead Revisited is a poignant story of forbidden love and the loss of innocence set in England prior to the Second World War.

Young Charles Ryder leaves the home of his emotionally abusive and cruel father and sets out to begin his college education at Oxford. There he meets and befriends Sebastian Flyte, a wealthy, gay aristocrat with a following of fawning friends. Sebastian takes Charles to the family estate, Brideshead, where we are introduced to sister Julia and other family members including mother Lady Marchmain, played by Emma Thompson.

Charles who is an atheist learns the mother is rigidly Catholic and has driven her husband away with her fanaticism (he living in Italy with his new woman), and has caused untold emotional damage to her children, of whom Sebastion and Julia have apparently abandoned their faith, and practice only to please their mother.

The story winds its way through romantic encounters and conflicts, spectacular locations, and unexpected plot twists. Charles first becomes involved with Sebastion, but then is attracted to Julia. This discovery breaks apart the friendship of all three. The contolling mother informs Charles at any rate he cannot have Julia as she can only marry a Catholic. In the ensuing discussion, the mother asks Charles why he thinks he is on the earth. His reply is to enjoy life and be happy. She responds that happiness is not important; the only thing that matters is the hereafter. Not unlike religious fanatics of all persuasions

*Spoilers ahead*

Julia marries an exploitative man who meets her mother's criteria of being Catholic. Charles marries an American girl, but goes to Africa alone for two years to paint. Upon his return, at a showing of his work aboard a ship, he encounters Julia and the two fall into a passionate love affair. They vow to break up their marriages and at last be together. They return to Brideshead where Charles intends to confront Julia's husband and inform him of their plans. It turns out badly as the husband cleverly tricks Charles into "buying" his wife for the price of two paintings. Julia is hurt. As they are leaving they are passed on the road by a car occupied by, among others, Julia's father who has returned home to die. Julia cannot leave.

A priest is summoned and Charles attempts to interfere saying it's not what the father wants. But the father asks Charles why he is in interfering in matters that don't concern him. Charles is confused. He watches the grieving family, including his beloved Julia, kneel in prayer around the bedside as the father receives the last rites, and finally the father acknowledges his sins and accepts the rites to the great joy of all his family.

Julia chooses her Catholicism over her lover, and Charles is left alone. Sebastion slips further into alcoholism and finally goes with his latest lover to Morocco to escape the life at Brideshead. The mother in later years tries with no success to get Sebastion to come home before she dies, even asking Charles to go to him in Morocco on her behalf. She never sees her son again.

Throughout the movie we feel Charles is the good guy with only the best intentions, but one character does slip in a hint of doubt for us. Sebastion's earliest lover encounters Charles at Brideshead and tells him that it wasn't love that drove Charles to seek first Sebastion and then Julia, but a selfish desire for the beautiful Brideshead estate and its wealth of art and sculpture. Charles looks as though he had never considered this, but it might somehow be true.

The friends are all separated never to meet again.

Besides the wonderful and well-acted story, the beautiful location scenes made this movie one of the most enjoyable we've seen. We are 100 percent in agreement, we recommend this movie.

We started the evening at the charming old Lamb's Cafe in downtown Salt Lake. The old-world ambience and excellent food provided a good entre for our British movie.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Now two does and two fawns


They visited twice this morning while I was outside. They are so unafraid of me. The does are young and the fawns are just tiny. No sign of the two-point today, but I've decided they probably stay together pretty much, though some may be out of my sight. I managed to get a couple of pictures, not very good because of the lighting and distance.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Little Doe Again

She's a young doe, all right, but she has two little fawns. I walked out the front door just as the sun was setting, and she froze in her tracks in the middle of my front lawn. Watched me a few minutes and then walked on to the neighbor's. Two little fawns came bounding across the street and followed her across the lawn bouncing with that funny four-legged hop that looks like they are on a trampoline. Then came the two-point buck. Slowly, not concerned to see me standing there. Nibbled on my petunias and I had to shoo him on. Still did not run. The doe and buck, I'm sure, are last year's brother and sister. The two older does have not been seen all summer.

I know they are destructive, but I never tire of watching them, especially so up close.

Pain

Started early, worked almost steadily for four hours. Digging weeds out of the parking strip, rock wall, sidewalk, driveway. It was cool at first but turned hot. Worked too hard for too long, but got it done. Looks nice and the Advil is starting to kick in.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pests of all sorts

Gophers are back. Since the neighbors had the new rock wall installed in the front, it's stirred up some activity. I now have new gopher burrows in a couple of places in my rock wall and in my front lawn. I offered to share my gopher pellets with my 30-something neighbors last night as they were out putting in some plants to enhance their new wall. They seemed shocked I would poison the wildlife. Ah, but just wait. They'll see what havoc will be wrought if they don't.

And wasps or hornets or whatever the heck they are. I tried looking them up on the internet, and it seems they are one and the same. Those devils are everywhere suddenly. I got stung on Sunday so I'm being a little more cautious. They tried building one of their charming multi-celled creations on the back of my hose trolley. I have sprayed three times and broken up the little nest, but they keep coming back. I have a paranoid feeling as I water my fragile new plantings that the wasps are sneaking up behind me ready to attack.

And yes, the deer are once again cleaning out the bird feeders.

One happy note. I had an entertaining moment yesterday watching the scrub jays take turns bathing and sipping the fresh water in the front bird bath. It was hilarious to watch.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Men do sometimes ask for directions

When working in my yard, I see a lot of people drive up and down the street. Many look at me at they pass. Brittany noticed this when we were moving mulch -- it bothered her that people seemed so interested in what we were doing. But after nearly 30 years of living on this busy street, I guess I'm used to it. But I've become curious about all those people. Some of them wave, though I don't think I even know them. Some of them look away when they see me noticing them looking at me. And every once in a great while, one will stop and say something to me.

Sunday a man stopped and told me my garden was looking nice and when I finished, I could come work on his. We both laughed. I have no idea who he was. Another man stopped, a young guy in a big pickup truck, clearly pissed off. "How do you get to the golf course?" He almost demanded. I pointed up the street and told him a few simple turns to make that would take him right there. "Thanks." He drove off. In just a moment I remembered I had told him to turn at David Way rather than Gary Way. Big difference. Oh, dear, I can usually be counted on to give very good directions. I'm sure that didn't improve his mood.

I sometimes wish more people would stop and talk.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Who do I think I am?

Saw the movie, "Gonzo, the life and times of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson" tonight. Made me think about my own writing. I've tried to subdue my political writing because I had offended some people and was inviting a lot of criticism. The old Becky could take it. The new Becky is too nice, too soft. I don't think it's me. I think I have a bitchy nasty side and I once liked to air it in my blog. Why has that gone away? I'm thinking about it. Seeing this movie lit a bit of a spark in me. Not sure if I will run with it or supress it. Remains to be seen.

Stung

Every project has its glitches. Yesterday was no exception. I'd planned to completely revise the day lily bed. Got a head start last week by digging out a good many plants, leaving five islands of lilies. Yesterday I cleaned up around the islands, raked out the remaining debris, put down steer manure. Planted a nice variety of plants for color throughout spring through fall, and finished up with some lovely cedar mulch. Hard work and nothing left to do but water. With a lower plant profile, I wanted to lower the sprinklers, and there ran into problems. I removed the tall shrub sprinkler from the front of the bed and tried to install its replacement. But water in the line flooded the hole, and the more I tried, the more mud got into the sprinkler supply pipe. Ah, patience was required. I finally got a medium height extender installed but without a sprinkler head on it, turned on the water and flushed out the dirt. Installed the sprinkler head and all worked fine. But now I think it's too high, it is missing the nearest plants. I'll try a different head today but will take great care not to repeat yesterday's experience.

Walking back to the garage, I felt something sharp sticking into my hand, I looked down thinking it was a weed poking out of the garabage bag, but it was a wasp giving me a good hard sting. Ouch! Luckily I am allergic to very few things, and a little topical Benedryl fixed me right up.

The project about did me in, but inspired me to move on to the next areas. I finally know what I will do with the myrtle hill. That needs to wait till cooler weather - September. So this week I'll make a round of weeding and maybe trim a little of those pfitzers. And do some edging.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Dog days

Terribly hot all weekend, but lovely nonetheless. Helped the kids, spent some time with someone special, two luncheons with girlfriends, planted more plants. The Mexican sunflower finally bloomed and is truly lovely. This morning while I was watering the yard, a little doe and I startled each other. She ran off just a few yards and then turned to watch me watching her. She doesn't seem very afraid of me. Where is her brother the two-point buck? The last three times I've seen her, she has been alone.

I've tried filling the bird feeders again - I'll see if I can keep the deer away. Though the summer is hot, I'm enjoying it so much. There is much to enjoy, much to appreciate.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Happy Birthday

Although it's not really "my birthday, too". Happy birthday to my friend. Enjoy.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Grass Fire!

As long as I've lived in this house, my greatest fear at this time of year has been grass fires. Tonight I heard the sirens getting closer but payed no attention. They stopped somewhere nearby. I heard a small commotion and looked out to see billowing smoke just around the curve three doors down. At first I feared it was a home. I dashed out to find firefighters pouring water on a grass fire mostly contained within the fenced off area of the irrigation pond at Center Street and Lacey Way. I watched long enough to feel reassured they had it under control.

Fireworks, I suspect. Young guys living on all sides of me in this neighborhood foolishly have aerial displays of their own most every year. Strangers stop their cars in the street to shoot off bottle rockets. We have been very lucky so far. Let's hope our luck holds.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Power Tools

Never thought I'd own a nail gun, but I do now. Jenn and Zach's bamboo floor project have netted me a chop (miter) saw, jigsaw, and now a nailer for the moldings. Steve will be able to use it next for his project in the basement. And then they will reside at my house for my own projects.

The kids have done a fantastic job on those floors - just beautiful! Neither of them had much experience with DIY of any sort, but they have no fear, and that's the key to success. Starting with painting, they were meticulous about the quality of their work. I gave them all my pointers -- things that make the job easier, faster, and neater -- and they followed them all. But I had little experience with power tools, and it was a learn as you go project. I got a kick out of watching my petite daughter using that chop saw to cut floor boards to exactly the right length. Again, with no fear, they both jumped in, learned what they needed, and proceded to cover floors in two rooms, three closets and the pantry, and the result is awesome.

Tonight we'll start the moldings. I primed them last night while the kids finished the last closet. And I bought that nailer. Two different guys at Home Depot said we would love it. I had a small battery-powered drill, screwdriver, and even a little saw before this, but never tools like I bought for this project. I'm excited to start some projects of my own. Now that power tools have entered my life, I have a feeling things are going to change around here.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Logan Operas

Spent a wonderful day in Logan with kids and friends. The occasion was our annual trek to see two performances in one day at the Utah Festival Opera. This year our choices were "Into the Woods" and "Aida". Two very different offerings, indeed, and both extremely well done. I never cease to be amazed at the quality of these productions.

Into the Woods was charming yet dark. We've seen it before, so the story and music was familiar. Outstanding characters included the witch, the baker and wife, Cinderella, and the two princes Charming. The end, of course, brought tears to my eyes when the Baker's wife, now dead, sings her advice to her husband faced with raising their son alone:

Sometimes people leave you
Halfway through the wood.
Do not let it grieve you,
No one leaves for good.
You are not alone.
No one is alone.
I think my heart is stilll too tender for such thoughts.

Aida offered a "lite" staging version but did not scrimp on powerful voices. Our tenor Radames started out a bit weak on the terribly difficult "Celesta, Aida" at the very start, but did not disappoint. Excellent performaces from Amneris, the king, the high priest, and a truly remarkable chorus. But without a doubt, Aida was the star in both name and performance. The ensemble piece at the end of the second act is always my favorite and the beauty of the combined chorus with the soloists, each distinct voice rising about the chorus, was so powerful and moving, you did not want to see it end. The staging was effective with a few huge pieces strategically placed to simulate a palace, a temple, a tomb. If I have a criticism, it is with the not-so-grand procession. Four spear carriers does not a grand procession make, and since it's a non-singing role, I think a few extras would have served nicely. But that did not take away from the music which was so well done.

Between performances we met some good friends for dinner and ice cream and leisurely conversation, rounding out a really great day. We arrived home exhausted after midnight. And we'll do it all again next year.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Duchess of Langeais

Before I have my say, here's what the New York Times said:

Behind the Mask of Civility, the Battles Rage On
http://movies.nytimes.com/2008/02/22/movies/22duch.html
By MANOHLA DARGIS
Published: February 22, 2008
Jacques Rivette’s “Duchess of Langeais” seems to me a nearly impeccable work of art — beautiful, true, profound. Based on Balzac’s 1834 short novel and set against the French Restoration — Napoleon is in exile and a Bourbon king again sits on the throne — it traces how a passionate affair of the heart curdles into cruelty and obsession. Originally titled “Don’t Touch the Ax” (a threat guaranteed to make noble necks twitch), it is a story about manners, language, power and society and the bodies caught in their grip. “Life,” one character observes, “is simply a complication of interests and feelings.” Art too.
Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Well, I didn't get it, and neither did three of four of our group. The pace was slow to the point of exhaustion. The characters never gained my sympathy. The so-called plot was tiresome. One of our group left without seeing the ending after over two hours into the movie. The one member of our group who had anything good to say about the film admired the costumes and scenery. Yes, I'll agree with that.

(Spoilers ahead)

The story is of a Duchess (a married woman) and her flirtation with a French general, set in post-Napoleon France. She flirts with him. He wants her. He gives up trying. She flirts with him, he rebuffs her. Back and forth never getting together. The film offers many distractions, the worst of which was brief written explanations of the passage of time in white text on a black background reminiscent of silent movies. Finally, after a final rebuff from the general, our duchess joins a group of cloistered nuns in Spain. He searches the world over and finally finds her but she refuses to leave the convent. He gets his thugs together to kidnap her only to find her lying dead in the convent. He kidnaps her anyway and takes her with him to sea where his friend convinces him to bury her at sea and think of her as just a story her once read. He agrees and the credits finally come up. I had hoped as one last romatic gesture he might dive into the ocean with her and be buried at sea together. Ah well. I chose this movie, so I do apologize to my friends. But I trusted the reviews I had read.

Still, we had a wonderful dinner beforehand. Celia and Pat's mom, Carol, joined all of us at Stoneground Pizza for some excellent pasta and salads, and of course, dessert. The best part of the evening, as it always is, was the chatting, gossiping, laughing, and eating. It was so nice to have the whole group together.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

On Writing, a memoir of the craft


On Writing, a memoir of the craft
by Stephen King
*****

I have read exactly one Stephen King novel. I saw part of Kujo, the movie, and I'm still scared of barking dogs. So, I'm not exactly sure why this book appealed to me. But it turned out to be a really great read, both from the standpoint of a writer and for sheer entertainment.

King tells us this is not textbook, and it's not. But it is full of advice. For example, "Adverbs are not your friend." He tells us how he writes. That he writes constantly when he is writing, even on holidays, lest his characters get "stale". He listens to loud rock music. And he says he does not "plot" his stories. I found this last particularly interesting.

In my view, stories and novels consist of three parts: narration which moves the story from point A to point B and finally to point Z; description, which creates a sensory reality for the reader; and dialogue, which brings characters to life through their speech . . .

. . . my basic belief about the making of stories is that they pretty much make themselves. The job of the writer is to give them a place to grow . . .

. . . I lean more heavily on intuition . . . my books tend to be based on situation rather than story . . .

. . . The situation comes first. The characters--always flat and unfeatured, to begin with--come next. Once these things are fixed in my mind, I begin to narrate. I often have an idea of what the outcome may be, but I have never demanded of a set of characters that they do things my way. On the contrary, I want them to do things their way.
Isn't that a cool concept? I love it so much, I'm going to try it myself if I ever get down to writing my stories.

The book is also highly autobiographical and we learn so much about King's life and experiences starting from a very young age. His story is as compelling as any novel.

If you are a writer, an aspiring writer, or just someone who appreciates good writing, you will love this book.