Wednesday, December 29, 2010


The year comes to an end, and that always marks a time of new beginning for us as well as review of events of the past year.  It has been a year of minimal blogging for me.  I've had little interest in opining on politics or current events, and have been more focused inward in my life.

January brought the completion of my kitchen remodel which started the year off right.  It has been a year of parties and entertaining and sheer enjoyment as a result.

February my daughter surprised us all with a secret marriage.  It was a wonderful thing as her husband, my son-in-law, is such a fine person and they are both so suited to each other.  I have been most happy with this event.

The wedding prompted plans for a party in June, which led to my locating a landscaper.  Improving my outside areas became the theme of spring, summer and fall.  I've posted many pictures of the process and, again, could not be more happy about the outcomes.  For the first time in the 31 years I've lived here, the entire yard is finished and beautiful - and just the way I want it.

Mid-summer brought the wonderful event of the Paul McCartney concert, attended by my sisters and me and several of my dearest friends.  It was thrilling and unforgettable.

The first part of the year found me still weepy about the death of my ex-husband. I began to feel weary of teariness and determined to try to bring about a change.  I set a deadline on the anniversary of his death in July, promising myself no more tears and no regrets.  It became my theme for the rest of the year.  I found simply making that decision and setting a deadline and observing it worked for me.  And though the memories still arise, I no longer find myself on the verge of tears when they do.

My emotional strength was further challenged when J and I said goodbye in May as he moved to Minnesota.  We had been together for two and a half years - I was only separated but not divorced when we met.  He was a touchstone for me through the separation, the legal hassles, the many ensuing events.  He was an escape when I needed it.  He was someone intelligent and informed to talk with, someone witty to laugh with, someone warm and kind to be with.  Neither of us anticipated how hard it would be to say goodbye.  Even now we stay in touch by phone and email, and I feel I have a friend for life.  I extended my no-tears-no-regrets theme to J, and we both agreed that was the way it had to be.  The distance between us would be impossible to overcome and we both needed to find new companions.  We haven't yet, but we will.  But long phone conversations, talking and laughing, continue to help bridge that gap.

In the last half of the year I began thinking seriously about the time when I would retire from work.  After a talk with my boss, it was decided it was time to bring on another writer for our staff.  We have begun the interviewing process and my hope is to find someone who will fully replace me and I can leave when I'm ready.  That will be in about two years.

I turned 63 this week.  It feels absolutely no different from 62.  However, physically I've failed to take care of myself this year and have gained back some of the weight I lost.  After the loss of my ex-husband, I stopped walking daily and stopped watching what I ate.  The pounds crept back almost imperceptibly.  I did take up bicycling, but that wasn't a daily activity and was not enough.  I know I have to return to my walking routine.  When J left, I did worse for awhile, but turned things around in November.  I am back on the right track now, heading in the right direction and hope to continue that into the new year.

I do have some goals for the new year.  Continuing to get into better shape.  More improvements around the house.  More music - both piano and guitar, and perhaps lessons.  More bicycling.  Keep up the landscaping.  More birdwatching and photography.  In other words, just keeping on keeping on.

In summing it all up, the year definitely ends in the positive column for me.  I feel happy, contented, and strong.  I know there will be tough things to deal with in the new year.  But that's life.  I'm feeling prepared for what is to come next.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And once again, the tree is up, we can have a little Christmas

I didn't know if I had time to get it up this year, but so glad I did.  No sooner was I finished, than the grandsons showed up and had to inspect every little item hanging on the boughs.  It was worth the work just to hear their delightful comments.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving and more November Snow 2010

From the blizzard that fizzled a few days earlier, I got a few interesting pics as well as Thanksgiving day.  We're missing Eric, who's in Kansas City, and Jenn and Zach who spent Thanksgiving in Idaho this year.

Here are progressive shots of the storm starting with the approaching front, and ending with blue skies the following day with one interesting shot of lake effect gathering moisture from the warmer lake waters.


 And Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

First Snow - November 2010

It came down hard for awhile and made the roads pretty slick.  I think we got 6 to 8 inches by this morning.  I'll go out and shovel at daylight and then I'll know better.  There are supposed to be three or four waves of this, with the second coming later today, another on Monday and one more on Tuesday.  Better to keep up on the shoveling than to let it pile up.  It's beautiful looking at it from the windows.

These shots are from last evening.  I'll add more once we have some good daylight here.

Finished first round of shoveling around 8:30 a.m. Had help from a neighbor boy or I'd still be out there. I'm guessing we had 10 to 12 inches in all. Fog has rolled in now and maybe the next wave is starting. Not bad work for an old lady, I think. Now for something warm to drink.
Ending with a spot of sunlight on pristine, white Antelope Island.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Going digital

I started a project to convert all the old family slides to digital photos.  It's just the start of a winter-long project to reduce various things I use to digital form.

The slides will be a slow project as I will pick and choose which ones to keep and which ones to skip.  Those slides are from the days when you had to get the film developed and for whatever reason, we kept every single shot -- good or bad.  But I'll be more selective.  I find I need to do a little color correction, too, due to the age of the photos.  The little converter I bought is cheap and doesn't do a very good job with any shots that contain a lot of white.  I'll set those aside and find another method of converting them -- may have a photo shop do them for me.  Once done, I can just store the slides themselves until I feel ready to throw them out, and I can get rid of all those reels that hold them now.

Another project is to convert CDs and vinyl to MP3 which will allow me to build play lists and to play through an iPod dock station, making my music more accessible and convenient.  Putting CDs in and out of a multi-disk player is slow.  Isn't that funny to think of that as slow?  I bought a USB turntable that will allow me to move some of my favorite old vinyl to MP3 as well.

Then there's that huge collection of CD's I hauled over from the ex's house after he died.  Most of them I don't want, but there's enough value in all of that to make it worthwhile to catalog and sell on eBay or some other way.  So that I will do as well.

Perfect jobs for cold winter nights when we just want to stay in.  The first really big winter storm is predicted for this weekend.  I'll get photos I'm sure.  Happily, I had Alberto and the guys here this week to clean up all the leaves.  As usual, they left my yard looking like a million bucks, cut down all the dead plants, raked the mulch, even cleaned the rain gutters and the street gutters.  All I need to do is cover the patio furniture now.

I feel prepared for winter this year.  Tonight I'll do all the shopping for Thanksgiving week in case I find myself really snowbound over the weekend.  And then I can sit in my cozy house and work on my projects and watch movies to my heart's content.

Monday, November 15, 2010

J. Brahms: Rhapsody in G minor Op. 79, No.2

I'm just starting to learn this piece.  It's moderately difficult but especially if played up to speed.  These old fingers may never be able to accomplish that, but I so love the depth of tones this produces from my piano.  It's a rare piece that uses the entire keyboard down to the very lowest A.  I find it inspiring to think of other hands that have played these very same notes over about 150 years, including the original composer -- that my own fingers walk in those exact same paths  Reading music is perhaps like learning a foreign language -- another language in which to express yourself.  Not unlike an actor reciting lines of Shakespeare, the notes connecting the page to the keyboard also connect you to so many others down through the years.  It's a rather thrilling thought.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Rainy Day

It's overcast and damp today.  I'll get the snow tires put on the car and run a few errands.  Then maybe a drive to the bird refuge to see some swans.  It's a birthday today.  We always remember the birthdays even when other things begin to fade.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I am so uninclined to blog these days.  Took down many of my RSB posts.  But will share this lovely video this beautiful autumn morning.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fall Cleanup - A beautiful end to summer

I've had the landscapers here for the past two days doing some cleanup and other work. The yard is so pretty, I have to share many, many pictures with you this time. Well, this is also because I want to have a record of how things looked right now compared to next spring.

The biggest changes I had them do was to raise the base of the pine trees to let in more light, and completely redo all the parking strips. But they also did weeding, trimming, planting, and other things too. Well, you'll see -- here are the photos. Click any photo to see larger.

Front yard from across the street.
Front, east side, five pine trees and lots of low-water plantings.
More front east side
New steps and stepping stone pathway to the backyard.  Pine boughs no longer touch the ground.
Waiting for this patch of asters to bloom, the last of the season.
Flower bed in front.
Rock wall at the very front, with a new metal barrier to keep the grass out and new plantings of creeping phlox in three colors.
The lowest point of the yard, front corner garden, zinnias are wrapping up the season.
Two new sumac trees planted on the west side. Will grow to about 10 feet and block the view of my neighbor's yard without blocking my view of the valley.
 Looking down at the new sumacs from my deck. A little tile pathway and cement block stairway bring you here.
My deck and view of the valley from my back patio.
My patio, my favorite place to be any time of the day.
Backyard looking east from the patio.
My patio garden.  Lots of hidden goodies tucked in here.  The surprise performers are the parsley plants.
A very tame blue jay friend is curious about all this picture-taking and wants some of the action.
From the patio, the bare spot beside the stairs to the upper level now has some new plantings of ivy which will hopefully fill in.  The ivy climbing my neighbor's block wall volunteered from my ivy patch, so I think it will do well here.
The upper patio area.  I still haven't decided anything to do here, but may plant either honeysuckle or wisteria to climb along this back wall.  This is not the very back of my yard, it goes up further to a sidewalk and street.
Looking down from the upper level at my thyme and tile checkerboard backyard. The thyme is spreading over the tiles and by spring I will have to decide whether to trim it or take out the tiles and go for the full thyme lawn I originally intended.  I have sort of become attached to the checkerboard look.
From the upper level looking toward the east corner, the myrtle patch has been cut down to just a few inches.  It will grow back lush and full in the spring. 
Also from the upper level you can see three of the five pines that have had lower branches removed opening up light and space in the garden.  More room for plantings or simply open space. 
The three pines from the main level.  In the foreground is a wonderful patch of hyssop, one of my favorite plants for its varieties, fragrances, and appeal to hummingbirds. My former boyfriend used to say I could work the word "hyssop" into any conversation.  And yes, I have decided to keep that dead tree for now.  I just like it.
Another lovely hyssop in the foreground here.  Some nurseries also call it agastache.
The corner garden at the intersection of two streets, looking west toward the back of the house and the patio.
And finally, possibly the biggest part of the job in terms of time and expense, the completely redone parking strips.  All rocks and weeds were removed, new extra-heavy duty liner put down, and rocks were arranged beautifully.  With streets on three sides of my yard, it amounted to a big job.  Here is strip 1.
Strip 2 runs down the east side of the lot. I have a major problem with water running into this strip from the upper street (rather than staying in the gutter, it turns in and runs down my sidewalk).  The workers found about two inches of mud deposited on top the old plastic liner when they removed the rocks.  The city and I will have a talk about this problem.
And the front. Doesn't it look lovely extending even on to my neighbor's yard as well?  That's because he came over and talked to the landscapers and had them do some clean up in his front yard while they were here.  He is getting a bid for a backyard cleanup as well.  Won't that be wonderful!
So that's it.  A tour of the entire yard.  You might think there's nothing left for me to do, but you'd be wrong.  Now I plan to continue transplanting various things that can tolerate it.  But I'll probably save any further new plants until the spring.