Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Poetry Wednesday: Summer Morning

Jacqui B and I share similar mornings as we were discussing earlier today. And she has written a delightful poem for this week's Poetry Wednesday at her Creative Journey site. Following along that thread, I found a nice little poem on summer mornings. I particularly like the last stanza: And all of a sudden! In the midst of that quiet, It seems possible To live simply on this earth.

Of course you get more pictures from my yard, these from Sunday morning: (above)my corner garden where I removed most of the day lilies last year and added in many other things including my favorite bee balm blooming its heart out down front, and (bel0w) close up of bee balm (click pictures to enlarge).

Summer Morning
by Charles Simic

I love to stay in bed
All morning,
Covers thrown off, naked,
Eyes closed, listening.

Outside they are opening
Their primers
In the little school
Of the corn field.

There's a smell of damp hay,
Of horses, laziness,
Summer sky and eternal life.

I know all the dark places
Where the sun hasn't reached yet,
Where the last cricket
Has just hushed; anthills
Where it sounds like it's raining;
Slumbering spiders spinning wedding dresses.

I pass over the farmhouses
Where the little mouths open to suck,
Barnyards where a man, naked to the waist,
Washes his face and shoulders with a hose,
Where the dishes begin to rattle in the kitchen.

The good tree with its voice
Of a mountain stream
Knows my steps.
It, too, hushes.

I stop and listen:
Somewhere close by
A stone cracks a knuckle,
Another rolls over in its sleep.

I hear a butterfly stirring
Inside a caterpillar,
I hear the dust talking
Of last night's storm.

Further ahead, someone
Even more silent
Passes over the grass
Without bending it.

And all of a sudden!
In the midst of that quiet,
It seems possible
To live simply on this earth.


Today the last legal loose end in my divorce is wrapped up. It has been a long and trying odyssey. I filed for divorce in October 2005, the divorce was final in October 2007, the long delay was primarily due to the incompetence of the lawyer I hired. As part of the settlement I was to begin receiving a monthly payment from my ex's retirement. My lawyer dropped the ball on that and then charged me even more to get those documents filed with the court, even though I did all the leg work on it. The first payment finally showed up in my bank account today. My ex has been very decent this whole time, sending me monthly payments directly since the arrangements had not been done.

What have I learned? The only bad guy in this whole thing was my lawyer. He got paid an awful lot of money for his incompetence. I feel no bitterness toward my ex, but I do toward the lawyer. But I'll let that go--it's only money after all.

I'll admit to same sadness as I checked my bank account this morning -- thinking about life plans that disappeared along with money and stability. You think you'll be growing old with someone and then something happens. I still don't talk about my divorce except with close friends and family. It was a tough time for everyone involved, starting when my father-in-law was very ill and approaching the final months of his life. I know something snapped in my husband during that time, and the things that followed were not of him but of some mental illness. Even today he is not well mentally. But we have all moved on and there is no going back, nor is there any desire on either of our parts to do so. But in my heart I hold no ill will and I hope one day he can find peace in his life.

There are still things remaining for me to do in the house and garage. Though I've made a lot of progress, there are some large items of no value I simply need to have hauled away. I have the phone number of a guy who will do it for a reasonable price and my goal is to try to have that all done before the 12th of July. Just an arbitrary deadline, but I find setting dates like that works for me.

And I think all of that was what was holding me back from getting my kitchen remodel done. Just by chance, my contractor's wife called me yesterday, dialing the wrong Becky from her cell phone. And we got talking about my kitchen and I realized how silly it is that I've put it off for so long. I seem to be one of those people for whom things need to proceed in a logical sequential manner. It was a well-timed, perhaps serendipitous wrong number. It's time to do that project.

As for growing old with someone, I realized today I'm growing old with quite a few people -- sisters who are also my best friends, girlfriends who are like sisters to me, even some men I've met who will never be more than friends but who have proven to be good friends and bring much to my life. I may be the only person living in my particular house, but I'm not growing old alone after all.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sounds of morning

Last night's sunset, even more fire-red at the horizon than this shows. Is it possible to capture the true colors?

Up early today. Couldn't sleep. So opened up some windows and sat looking and listening to what remained of the night. It's still dark, but there is life rustling everywhere. I hear traffic on the freeway in the valley. An occasional plane taking off out at the airport. The wind in the neighbor's large tree sounds like rushing water. And birds, already, though it is still dark. The robins, of course, are up early as always trilling, cheerrrup, churrup, cheerrup, churrup. Incessant and never-varying.

We get black headed grosbeaks here that sound a lot like robins, but as my friend's friend astutely noted, "like a robin that's been to Julliard".

It rained very hard last night. The air from the window is cool, not cold, fresh, inspiring. I'm already planning my morning. A little work around the house, then off to lunch and a movie with my Reel Women friends.

I need to write a serious blog, but can't seem to, neither at my own RedStateBlues nor at OneUtah. I want to feel fired up about something and I just don't. My body and soul are seeking peace right now. It's not something I can control. It just is. I'm not sure why.

I do have an increased load of projects at work: over 20 different writing projects, and it appears that's going to be the norm from now on. When I originally started, there were three software testers and one writer. Now there are 13 testers and one writer, and we will be hiring more testers this year. Next year we will need to hire another writer. I have it down to something of a science, and seem to keep absorbing the workload. But so much writing during the day perhaps drains my writing reservoir and leaves nothing for my personal writing at night. I don't know.

I know with J moving to the northern country (on again, off again, but eventually), I feel my life is in a state of flux, and perhaps that keeps me wrapped up in my own life and less inclined to write about other things. It's one of those things I can't tie up neatly with a bow as I am wont to do with all things in my life. I just have to let it be what it is. There is neither sadness nor resignation in this, but just a sense of unfinished business. And with me, the quintessential problem-solver, I'm always feeling I must do something. But there is nothing I can do.

The alarm clock rings as I write this. Time to start my day, although I'm already on my second cup of coffee. The day is well underway.

I sometimes wish sleep were optional. I do enjoy these early mornings, the peacefulness of them. But I know I will be tired later. I know I need the sleep. My body needs the sleep. But my soul needs this refreshment, too.

After age 60, you have a realization you are in the last third of your life. Time seems to pick up speed, and you feel a great need to waste no time. I'm wondering if that is behind my lack of writing in the blogs -- wasting time. Not that I feel such a need to be productive all the time, or to leave some legacy before I die, but more a need to be sure to experience life every day. Don't waste any of the days remaining.

I'm not going to rush this morning. Take my time. Do what I reasonably can. Though I am troubled by falling behind in the weeding and maintenance outdoors, and lack of progress on projects indoors, I will try to clear my mind of guilt and just let this peaceful moment carry me through the morning as best I can. I so look forward to spending time with my friends later.

I took some pictures of the glorious red sunset that followed last evening's deluge. If I may be forgiven, I will post yet another picture of my ever-changing view -- a metaphor for my life.

The sky, at first an innocent pink and blue, lulls us into complacency, unprepared for the blazing red to follow in mere seconds.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Poetry Wednesday: Robert Burns

A local Scottish festival a week ago had me thinking about my own Scottish ancestors, the Henderson clan. Many people of Scottish descent settled in Utah in pioneer times, including my own great grandfather and his family. Local names and customs still reflect those pioneers.

My childhood home was at the foot of Mount Ben Lomond; and that mountain peak is framed now in the front window where I live today. I attended Ben Lomond High School, where we were the Fightin' Friendly Scots; our school colors were the very unlikely Stewart tartan. I danced the Highland Fling and marched in the Bonnie Lassies drill team. As small children in our family, when we misbehaved, my mother threatened to give us all a "Scotch Blessing". Yes, many influences.

This reminiscing led me to reading poetry of Scotland's most famous and much-loved poet, Robert Burns, and to my choice for this week's Poetry Wednesday.

To A Louse may be his most well-known poem after Auld Lang Syne, though most have probably only heard the last stanza. You can imagine him sitting in church behind this finely-dressed lady and watching the progress of a louse on her bonnet. I love the language, though it may be hard to understand, but the moral of the story is clear: if only we had the power to see ourselves as others see us . . .

To A Louse
On Seeing One On A Lady's Bonnet, At Church

Ha! whaur ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly;
I canna say but ye strunt rarely,
Owre gauze and lace;
Tho', faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
On sic a place.

Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunn'd by saunt an' sinner,
How daur ye set your fit upon her-
Sae fine a lady?
Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
On some poor body.

Swith! in some beggar's haffet squattle;
There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle,
Wi' ither kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Whaur horn nor bane ne'er daur unsettle
Your thick plantations.

Now haud you there, ye're out o' sight,
Below the fatt'rels, snug and tight;
Na, faith ye yet! ye'll no be right,
Till ye've got on it-
The verra tapmost, tow'rin height
O' Miss' bonnet.

My sooth! right bauld ye set your nose out,
As plump an' grey as ony groset:
O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
Or fell, red smeddum,
I'd gie you sic a hearty dose o't,
Wad dress your droddum.

I wad na been surpris'd to spy
You on an auld wife's flainen toy;
Or aiblins some bit dubbie boy,
On's wyliecoat;
But Miss' fine Lunardi! fye!
How daur ye do't?

O Jeany, dinna toss your head,
An' set your beauties a' abread!
Ye little ken what cursed speed
The blastie's makin:
Thae winks an' finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice takin.

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Happy Father's Day

A couple days early, but not knowing what this weekend may hold, I thought I'd better post this now. Hope all you dads have a great day on Sunday. And I hope someone gives you a very nice cake, unlike those seen at CakeWrecks. Enjoy!

cross-posted at RedStateBlues

Please don't eat the day lilies!

Took a stroll around the yard on my lunch hour. The little bit of sunshine we are getting now has perked up every little blooming thing--all those colorful faces opened up and enjoying the sun. I made it up to the flower bed on the corner. This was a problem spot last year as it was nothing but day lilies and having such a short bloom period, looked pretty dejected the rest of the time. So I dug up most of the day lilies and added in a variety of things to bloom on into fall. The day lilies are very close. A few have already opened up. And what to my consternation do I see? Lily flowers nipped in the bud! There is only one culprit for those tall plants: the deer. So I got out that foul-smelling deer repellent and sprayed all around. And then made my way around to various other vulnerable plants for some insurance sprays.

I saw the little thing that's eating my plants. She was across the street yesterday about 4 p.m. nonchalantly nibbling at low-hanging branches. But I knew she had been here first. There were two large bites out of one leaf each of my newly-planted hostas. I think she must not have liked them or would have finished off those new tender plants. However, they are now shielded with that deer barrier that repels me as well.

In a day or two, more pics of the yard. Many new things are starting to bloom now. The rain returns Saturday and Sunday, and then -- summer. They promise!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's not all pretty

Lest everyone think my yard is totally together and gorgeous, I have to admit to some rather ugly areas. Here, for example, in my backyard, towards the edge of the myrtle patch which I've now finished weeding and lasagna mulching, we have a joining of stray myrtle, a little tree of unknown variety, and weeds of every kind growing on the steepest part of the hill. My plan here is to clear everything to the dirt except the tree, and put down my mulching from bottom to top of the hill in a swath just about 8 feet wide. Then I hope to gather up various railroad ties I have lying around and perhaps form a stairway to help me get up and down this stretch without breaking a leg. After that, I may let the myrtle invade, but I'll keep it clear for awhile.

Beyond the little tree you see the dry yellow grass on that mid-way level that really was once a nice flat grassy area. But it's all dead now and I've had a hard time even weed whacking the grass down. Eventually, I think I'd like to put lawn in there again as it's perfect for things like croquet and badminton and other lawn games for the kids.

I do still have my work cut out for me.
And everywhere I had already weeded, the weeds have returned with a vengeance, seen here with my dead aspen and my untrimmed bushes and abandoned wheelbarrow.
However, right next to this weedy patch, here's a sylvan delight with a little fairy not quite visible under her toadstool.
And of course, the newly-mown front lawn. I dug grass from in front of this smaller rock wall a week ago (the larger rock wall that nearly killed me yesterday is not seen here, but is closer to the front by the street, don't know why I didn't capture it.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Overdoing it

Hoo boy, I'm sitting here nearly dead. Pushed myself a little too hard in the yard. After work I intended to mow the lawn, but the mower wouldn't start. As I know it sometimes likes to sit in the sun and warm up before it will start, I decided to leave it and finish up the task I started yesterday digging grass out from around my rock wall. This makes it so much easier to mow and I don't have to edge when I'm finished. The digging was hard work, but I finished it. Then I decided to pull out all those tall weeds that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere in the parking strip. That in itself was enough work for one night. But when finished with that, I tried the mower, it started right up, and what could I do but mow the lawn? So I did. Now my body hurts all over but I feel tremendously satisfied with all I got done. But now, bed and much-needed rest.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


A rare sunny day this June. This is only the second sunny day we've had this month. More rain is predicted later today and for the next three, with a break coming finally towards the end of this work week.

Things are really growing in the yard, and I snapped a few quick pics to compare to earlier shots. The perennials always start from scratch every year, so a great deal of growth is seen by this time compared to this and this in May. The pink chintz has all faded now and when I shear off the dead blooms, I'll have a pretty green carpet. The Russian Sage is shooting up and is getting the first hints of it's purple tips that will last through the end of fall. The red Jupiter's Beard is at its peak now. These blooms will fade and be replace by red berry-like flowers that last into the fall. Daisies have started blooming, day lilies are just days away. Pincushion, coreopsis, ice plant, and some other I don't remember are blooming too. I planted bee balm against my better judgment and hope to see those in the coming weeks as well. By July the Hyssop should be putting out orange or purple trumpet flowers for the hummingbirds as will the Hummingbird Trumpet bush, of which I just planted two more.

And my walk around the yard today yielded some surprises as I appear to be growing a whole crop of a variety of mushrooms and/or toadstools (I couldn't tell you the difference). Enjoy, and as usual, click to view larger.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rare video, icons of rock George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Phil Collins and Elton John

Stumbled across this on YouTube and I don't want to lose the link to it so I'm posting it here. Icons of rock George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Phil Collins and Elton John. Possibly 1986. Especially good is the dueling guitar solos by Harrison and Clapton in the last minute or so. I wonder was this before Harrison's wife left him to marry Clapton? Wikipedia reminds us they remained friends.
They remained close friends after Pattie Boyd split from Harrison and married Clapton, referring to each other as "husbands-in-law

And by the way, is that Jeff Lynne at about 4:17 and again about 5:17. Can't see him clearly but I know he played with these guys quite a bit too, including later with Harrison in the Traveling Wilburys.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Poetry Wednesday: Spiral Jetty

Be sure to visit Jacqui's multi-blog Poetry Wednesday for an always surprising collection.

Not sure where these words came from, but they are mine. The Spiral Jetty is a huge man-made art piece built of rocks in salt water on the barely accessible north shore of the Great Salt Lake.

Spiral Jetty

Love waned,

Nearly gone.

Ennui sets in
Clouds hide the sun.

Turning inward

Spiraling smaller

She contemplates


That fills her days

And nights.

Distant television,

Another lifetime.
Book brings on sleep
Sleep gives way
wakefulness, remembering,

Turning inward,

Spiraling smaller,

Tighter, safer,

Farther from


That might cause pain.

Becky Stauffer
June 2009

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Change of Plans

A violent thunderstorm hit us in the wee hours this morning. Woke me up and I ended up sitting and watching the deluge and accompanying fireworks in the sky. Could not get back to sleep for over an hour and then slept late only to wake to a gently falling but steady rain.

If you know me, you know I had a list of things I wanted to get done in the yard. But I'm afraid it might just be too wet. So here I sit, with an entire Sunday ahead of me and no marching orders. I'm thinking: What if I just play today? Just do some fun things? I have some Netflix movies to watch, or there's the matinee at the Broadway if I prefer something a little more social. How about browsing a book store? How about sitting down at the computer and mapping out the remodeling I want to do to my kitchen? How about finishing that book Celia loaned me? How about doing crosswords and Sudokus? How about just sitting on the patio and watching the little birds - hah! I already did that! I thought I saw (and heard) the little blue-gray gnatcatcher again. I sat very still but it never came far enough out of the dense leaves for me to see for sure.

Today feels like one of those rare delicious days when you truly don't have to be anywhere and everything you do is purely optional. When did I last feel like this? I don't remember. I accomplished so much in the yard yesterday and this past week, that I'm very pleased with things as they are. I can take the day off, guilt-free.

Stress is the farthest thing from my mind this morning. The newspaper did not arrive. I'll just call in and they'll deliver it later. But sitting here thinking of owning this entire day for myself is almost making me tingle. Let's get out of these lazy PJ's and get on with the day.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Chilly morning

Had breakfast on the patio this morning and had to wear a sweater. Just 51 degrees at the moment. I actually had to come inside before quite finishing my corn flakes. With all the windows in the house open, I'm still wearing the sweater. It's nice actually. We require neither heat nor air conditioning in this weather.

My plan is to do a little yard work this morning and then play with the grandkids this afternoon. I have some more lasagna mulching to do. The weeds are getting out of hand due to all the rain, but I want to finish a project or two. My summer routine is a weekly walk through the gardens picking the odd weeds after once getting them under control in the spring. But this year, the little devils are staying ahead of me.

I managed to get more transplanting done. Moved some gladiolas that were stagnating near the apple tree to a place of importance at the back of the house. Moved some scrub oak volunteers to the west of the house where I already have one large and one medium oak growing. I actually have quite a bit growing there where I offer no supplemental water. Let's see how these oaks do.

Finally planted all the zinnias and Mexican sunflowers I had started from seed. Probably too late and I don't expect much from them.

Moved a lavendar bush that was overshadowed by a truly glorious red blanket flower - a very different variety from what I have elsewhere. I have some low-growing varieties that I also love. But I have some tall yellow ones in the front that weren't at all what I was expecting. Those will definitely get moved in the fall as they overpower everything else in that bed. Hardy things, so I won't toss them, just find a place a little more behind things.

So all in all, I finally have everything about where I want it for the summer. I'm making note of a few things to move in the fall, but otherwise, we'll encourage everything to bloom and grow where it's planted.

I haven't managed to plow down the tall grass on the upper level in the back. Usually the weedeater does the trick, but last week, the tall grass wrapped itself around the drive shaft of the weedeater and brought the machine to a halt. I tried my little manual push mower, but it is dull and mostly flattened things and was very hard going. I may have to just wait until the grass there gets dryer so the weedeater can handle it.

As I sit on my patio looking up at that level of tall grass, I've decided to think of it as giving the yard a 'country' feel with a lovely field of grass gently wafting in the breeze. Years ago I had a Mary Engelbreit calendar with daily bits of wisdom. I saved a couple of those pages as I felt they were so right. One of those is today's thought for the day: If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change the way you look at it.

Okay, I couldn't find that one, so I've included a picture showing a similar sentiment from the Engelbreit words of wisdom

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Poetry Wednesday: Fade to Blue

Visit Jacqui's multi-blog Poetry Wednesday for this week's superb collection.

I took this picture (click to see larger) a couple of days ago from my deck, just before sunset as the sun dropped below the threatening black clouds and bathed the valley in an almost painfully bright gold. Then in a few short minutes the sun slipped behind Antelope Island, and the world faded to blue, inspiring this poem (please pardon my poetry-writing rookiedom).

Fade to Blue

Storm clouds edged in brilliant gold
A world bathed in warming light
The shining everlasting hope
Of endless, carefree youth.

But, look not directly into the sun.
You’ll lose your sight,
You may lose hope.
And fleeting gold is not the goal.

Shades of blue overtake life.

It is not sad to lose the light.
With age and experience
We gain new sight,
As we welcome the calm, solitary night.

Becky Stauffer
June 2009

Apres le deluge . . .

We had a true gully-washer downpour last night accompanied with flashing and crashing light and sound effects all around. More entertaining than television last night. This morning it was still raining lightly, but by sunup the rain had stopped and all the little birds and flowers were celebrating the cool moist morning. (Click photo to see larger.)

I sat out on the patio this morning soaking it all in when a young male black-headed grosbeak flew right up within inches, took a sip at the bird bath, left a bird deposit on the hat of the gnome below, then had a tasty snack at the low-hanging bird feeder. Never noticed I was there. He no sooner left, than a black-capped chickadee showed up. But I had to go to work, no more time for birdwatching.

Yesterday I enjoyed the first-in-a-lifetime treat of a visit from a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher. That's one of those birds you see in your bird book and are sure you'll never see in real life. But there he was flitting all around the apple tree. No time for me to grab the camera, I just had to stop and enjoy the look until he left. Tiny little thing, just four inches. The blue color is eye-catching even more so than seen in the picture here.

More rain predicted later today. I'll get a little yard work done on my lunch hour.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Rattlesnake sighted in the south parking lot

Just at quitting time this is the email that gets sent out to everyone. Yikes! That's the parking lot I normally use. Glad I'm working from home today. Of course, I'm sure there's nothing special about today and the snakes may be visiting at any time really.

When I'm out in the yard knee deep in myrtle either pulling weeds or just hiking up the hill, I keep thinking that old tune about "I don't like spiders and snakes." Especially when I suddenly hear that hissing sound--sort of like that sound effect they use in the spaghetti westerns when Clint Eastwood rides into a deserted town--and my heart starts pounding, even after I realize it's just the neighbor's sprinklers that turned on.

Actually I don't mind spiders so much, but I'm irrational when it comes to snakes. I've had a couple of scares with them and I'd just as soon have no more. We do get snakes here in my neighborhood on the mountainside, and we did have a rattlesnake in our driveway about five years ago right about now (add that to the raccoons, skunks, porcupine, foxes, coyote, and of course the deer--I've got a regular wildlife refuge!).

This is just a good reminder to watch where you step. Most snakes are only scary but not poisonous. The rattler is the only poisonous snake in this area. And I will continue to wear my hiking boots when I work in the yard. They keep me from slipping and breaking an ankle, and now that I think of it, could protect from a startled snake as well.

Oh well, this whole topic has given me the creeps.

UPDATE: They caught the snake. No details on it, but I'm sure it will be the buzz around the office. Don't relax folks. That's not the only rattlesnake on the mountain.

Thundershowers today

In recognition of today's weather and one of the best clips from one of the best movies of all time. Ah, Gene Kelly, I have a spot in my heart always reserved for you!

Splash, splash, splash!