Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Resolutions

Some people don't make them.  I do.  The start of the year is as good a time as any to declare intentions for improvement.  That doesn't mean we can't revise and newly resolve throughout the year.  It just means we take the tradition of the date to think about what we'd like to accomplish--how we'd like to change.

A few years (well maybe a dozen years, I'm not sure) ago, I heard Oprah say, "Change your life."  I took that advice to heart.  And item by item I began making some significant changes in my life.  Some of the changes during that time just happened to me without my control.  Not that I feel like a victim, but just that I acknowledge we can't control all things that happen to us.  But my life has changed, indeed, through my own thought, goals, and efforts.  A great deal of the change has been in my living space and property.  Some has been in my activities and hobbies.  Some has been in my viewpoint.  All was accomplished by identifying specific things I wanted to do or become.  As ideas solidified, plans evolved, and little by little, change took place.

So it is with positive hopefulness that I set out some new goals for 2013.

1.  Put myself on the list.  One of the things Oprah told us was, while changing our lives, to put ourselves on the list.  This means don't neglect our own health and well-being in the pursuit of other goals.  I'm a great list maker--literally--and I've often thought of this advice as I've written a daily, weekly, or long-term goal list.  And I have failed to put myself on the list.  It seemed I always ran out of time, and the one thing I could ignore was my own needs.  But no more.  As I enter retirement, I wish to nurture and care for the person that is me: body, mind, and spirit.  Therefore, my number one resolution this year is to care for my own needs better than I have done in the past.  Not only am I on the list, I'm the first item.

2.  The "Grand Reorganization".  Having completed most of the remodeling in my house, and most of the decluttering, I find the need to pull everything out of drawers, closets, and shelves, and do a deliberate reorganization that gets everything finally in its rightful place.  I'm excited to start this because at last I have the space to do this right.  I plan to tackle this in a systematic way right after I retire on January 4th.  Well, after a few days of pure relaxation, that is.

3.  The "Upstairs Doors and Floors" project.  The final changes to my house will be in the upstairs where I want to replace all the old brown hollow doors, with white doors to match the downstairs.  And then I will decide what to do about the teal carpet that covers living room, dining room, hall, and stairs:  Replace with new carpet, replace with wood/laminate, or just keep it and maintain as best I can.  I'll weigh the options and costs/benefits when the time comes and will decide.  There will be other minor projects from here on out.  And, of course, maintenance issues that always come up with a house. But the house is really to the point that I can fully enjoy it and care for it myself.  And be able to sell it eventually without significant further investment.

I see a simple and quiet year ahead.  I know there will be bumps in the road.  There always are.  I will deal with those when they come and will try to worry less and not anticipate trouble.

Happy New Year to us all.  Life is changing, and I love it!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

I just want to celebrate another day of life . . .

Made it to 65 and the age I always imagined would be my retirement age.  I've made it happen.  I'm still sorry Doug isn't here to start this next phase of life with me.  It was what we had intended.  I imagine one day I'll stop thinking about it that way.  But today, I'm grateful to have one more day of life.  I rather think every day after this is gravy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

'Tis the Day after Christmas

Christmas was just lovely.  Possibly the best we've had in 10 years.  So much has transpired this past decade and we've survived and thrived after all.

The party Christmas Eve was especially fun and relaxing for me since others did all the work.  Christmas morning I was up early to start the first preparations. I basically had three groups of visitors coming because of work schedules.

My oldest son had to work in the afternoon, so his group came in the morning.  We exchanged gifts, had some food, and visited.  My granddaughter returned later in the day after visiting other relatives, since her dad was at work and I had invited her to spend the night.  I caught a nap after they left since the next group was coming at 5.

Things were loud and crazy with two hyper little boys in the second group.  Lots of food and more gifts.  And at 7 my daughter and her husband arrived after he worked a day shift.  The family with little ones went home around 9, and Jenn and Zach stayed till midnight, talking, eating, laughing.  It was such fun.  And a long day.

I was really over-prepared with food since I didn't know what people would be wanting.  Everyone has multiple stops on Christmas day, and everywhere, there is food.  I long ago decided not to attempt a formal sit-down dinner for Christmas, but to just have food ready to answer whatever hungers or cravings people had. And there was surely something for everyone.  You know you succeeded when the littlest guest says, "Your food is good, grandma."

You know the day was a success when your 30-something daughter says,"Some people hate to visit their families, but ours is weird and funny.  I always like visiting my family."  Could anything make me happier?

I fell into bed at midnight exhausted but happy and satisfied everything had worked out well.  I awoke this morning to dirty dishes in the kitchen and managed to get it half cleaned up while the coffee brewed.  I will take it easy today.  Take my time cleaning up, and resting a lot.

No work now until next week.  I'm going to practice being retired.  Today, I'll do nothing more than clean up the kitchen and shovel the snow that's rapidly piling up on the driveway and walks.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve

It's snowing and temps are dropping.  Roads are getting icy.  I got to leave work early and stopped to pick up a couple of items for tomorrow.  It was a madhouse at the grocery store.  I have finished wrapping gifts and they're under the tree.  I have purchased a ton of food.  I even wore red today to be more festive.  Still, it doesn't feel like Christmas Eve.  At least not like any Christmas Eve I've ever had before.  I'm sure it's because my mind is more focused on other events right now.   I think I need some traditional Christmas music tonight.

Merry Christmas to all!

Sunday, December 23, 2012


Today is day 2 in the annual birthday trifecta right before Christmas.  Yesterday was my mother, who is 84.  Despite some last minute shopping, I was able to spend a couple of hours with her and dad.  I was so thankful for good weather for driving to Ogden.  You never know this time of year.  The visit was tinged with sadness as all the streets were decorated in pink ribbons for the funeral of the little girl killed in the Newtown shooting.  It was impossible to see all that pink without tearing up.  But mom and dad are both well and carrying on as usual, if a little frail and sometimes a little crazy.  When I arrived they were both in the basement in their respective offices on their computers.  Pretty hip oldsters they are with their desktop computers plus mom and her laptop and both with Nook tablets.  The technology keeps them connected with the world and I'm glad they have it.

Today is my daughter-in-law Simone's birthday.  No party planned but I'll drop by for a visit and a gift later.  I have a busy agenda with gift wrapping to do, a little baking planned.  Plus today I absolutely must catch up on laundry and housecleaning.  I won't make it a long visit today as we are having a Christmas Eve dinner at their house tomorrow, too, and they will be busy in those preparations.

Tomorrow is my oldest son Jeff's birthday.  Turns out he has to work a swing shift tomorrow evening and I'm working in the daytime, so we'll delay our celebration with plans for dinner instead on the 28th.  All of us with birthdays around Christmas know that things have to sometimes be juggled.  I'm working the 24th because that's what I arranged months ago when my former co-worker was still with us and she wanted the day after Christmas off.  Since one of us needed to be there, I volunteered to work on the 24th.  With the new hires, it wouldn't have mattered after all, but I'm keeping to the schedule anyway.  In the evening I'll join Steve and Simone's family for a traditional Brazilian Christmas Eve dinner.  I'm very excited for that as her parents are here from Brazil and her mom is a fabulous cook.  I know it will be wonderful and memorable.  And most especially for those two little grandsons of mine.

Christmas day will be quiet around my house.  My son again has to work in the afternoon, so they will come by in the morning to exchange gifts.  My son-in-law has to work during the day, so he and my daughter will come by in the evening.  In between time, I may just take a drive out to see some birds if the roads aren't icy.

Starting with Christmas day, I have eight days off in a row and then return to work January 2 for my final three days of work.  In my mind, once I get past birthdays and Christmas, then it's nothing but fun and clear sailing right on in to retirement.  Even the last three days will be a piece of cake. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happily Ever After

A friend posted this on Facebook and got me thinking about my own expectations of life and more specifically of relationships and marriage.  No doubt I had a fairytale view of the future upon my fist marriage.  It didn't work out at all as I had thought.  I was a bit more jaded and cautious with the second marriage, and it worked out surprisingly well for most of the next 28 years.  But it, too, came crashing down in the end.  For awhile after that I still had a positive hopeful view of relationships--realizing, of course, that there are no princes on white horses coming into my life.  But what does the ideal partner at my age look like?  If not a fairytale, then somewhat lowered expectations?  Or just more realistic expectations?  I've decided to ponder a bit on this fuzziness in my thinking. 

P.S. I sort of suspect the real problem is in not meeting my own expectations of myself. The old "it's not you, it's me," but true.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Two Weeks

This is the very moment of the winter solstice -- just as I post this.  The moment separating ever-shorter daylight hours and lengthening daylight hours.  It's the sun's turning point.  And close to my own.

Just two more weeks, and only 4 more actual work days.  As I drove home last night, I realized, I would soon be making that commute homeward one last time. It gave me a little jolt to realize how near that day is.

The new writers are fantastic. I could leave today and they would do great. I'll spend a few more days with them just for some final help and support. But I leave the job in capable hands.  I'm feeling very tired physically and mentally, and I'm ready to let go.

Some fun days ahead.  Let the birthdays and Christmas begin. I'm ready to do some celebrating -- and relaxing. And soon I'll stop counting down and take up my new life.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

There are not tears enough

The tragic, senseless, violence that took the lives of good teachers and precious little ones.  This list of names is heartbreaking.  The children are all 6 and 7 years old.
I will never forget this list of little tiny children.  My heart is breaking for them and for their families.  What person could defend so-called rights that enable such a hideous event?

Our country has the highest rate of gun ownership--more than double that of the next nearest country.  And we have exponentially greater murders than all other countries combined.  Why?  Gun advocates say we need MORE guns.  I say we need to step back and figure out what we're doing wrong and what other countries are doing right.  We have a sick culture of gun worship fueled by the gun lobby and a fraudulent interpretation of the Constitution.  We have all been cowed by the NRA and loud-mouthed gun owners and have backed down from every fight.

Yes, I said so-called rights.  We ask soldiers to fight and die.  Do we now ask little children to do the same to defend this thing that's so "sacred" and "inspired of God"?  It may sound like heresy, but I think it's time to rethink this whole damn gun rights thing.
Credit:Mike Graston’s Colour Cartoon For Saturday, December 15, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

Three More Weeks

When you get down to three, it's almost time to stop counting and just try to chill.  Sisters brunch at my house on Sunday.  And still four birthdays coming up before Christmas,.  Took the day off work yesterday and got nearly all my shopping done.  Got the kids gifts mailed to Virginia.  I have to be ready for Christmas by the 15th because after that, my time is just sucked up by activities.  It's all good. 

I haven't had a chance yet to sit with a glass of wine, staring into the tree with carols on the stereo.  I have the tree and the wine, just need to find a calm minute. I think that will be Sunday night.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Elvis: Blue Christmas

I know this should make me feel blue, but I can never hear this without being reminded of the year my sister, her husband and I got a band together with a few other friends including a pretty amazing Elvis impersonator, and played a Christmas party or two. Our "Elvis" was really good, but for some reason, it always got me giggling.  This one always makes me smile.  Enjoy. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Eagles: Please Come Home for Christmas

Started my Christmas shopping today--finally.  Got the little kids all done.  They're the easy ones.  I have a fair idea what I'm getting for most others.  Also picked up the birthday cards for the rest of the month - they will probably contain money or gift cards this year, plus flowers for mom.

Just 10 actual work days left in my career.  The remaining three or so weeks include many days off.  

This is one of my favorite Christmas tunes.  Sometimes a bluesy sort of song is called for.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

We Need a Little Christmas: Mele Kalikimaka

The first of the Christmas videos this year. I have the tree up but it's unlikely I will get more decorating done this year. Just no time.  But I'm playing carols and things do feel festive.  I play a lot of Bing Crosby this time of year. I hope you enjoy him, too.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Powers of Observation

I witnessed a minor car crash on the way to work one day this week.  The incident left me thinking about what I saw, what others saw, and what I later thought I saw.  It's so very interesting how our brains work in such situations.

First let me say that no-one was seriously hurt, thank goodness, although the woman who was not at fault was quite shaken up and was attended to by paramedics.

I was the closest witness and, in fact, was nearly involved myself.  As I headed east on a two-lane street, I was going slowly having just passed a school zone, a pretty good line of cars behind me.  One lone car came from the opposite direction somewhat slowly as she approached the school zone (typical traffic density for the morning with most of us going east).  Both sides of the street were lined with parked cars, as always.  An older model black car suddenly emerged from a driveway nose first and plowed into the westbound car ripping off a good portion of the front end.  The black car seemed to pause a little and then suddenly accelerated continuing across the street directly in my path, and then into a driveway, crashing through a gate that crossed that driveway.

It literally all played out before my eyes in seeming slow motion while my brain seemed stuck on one word: What? What? What?

My reaction was to look for an out--a place to go to avoid being hit by a riccocheting car, but there was nowhere to go, and slamming on the brakes and bracing was all I could do.

Everything came to a stop.  The words in my brain changed to, "I'm a witness, I have to stop."  I gathered my senses, pulled forward, made a U-turn and parked to see if help was needed and to offer what I had seen.  A few other witnesses stopped.  Eventually, cops arrived and paramedics.  We gave statements to the cops. A woman from the black car took responsibility and offered her insurance papers.  I wrote down all the information for the other driver who was confused and trying to call her husband.

The second person on the scene was the driver behind me.  She said the driver and passenger of the black car, switched places immediately when the car stopped. I think it was a mother and son. From appearances of both, I later thought there might be some impairment involved.  The son seemed hyper and jumpy, the mother was angry but in control.  Their appearances suggested an alternative lifestyle which I'm not inclined to judge. But his florescent orange hair, piercings, and mostly his manner influenced my thinking--perhaps unfairly.

I realized I only saw what the cars did.  I did not see who was driving or riding in either car.  My statement was supportive in determining fault.  But I could not say who was driving the black car.  Other witnesses say it was the young man not the woman.  I kept pushing myself to only remember what I saw in the slow motion moment and not what I was hearing others say.

I was surprised how clear-headed and calm I was in the throes of the event--talking to the shaken up woman, getting her some water, and writing down information for her; giving a concise statement to the police of just what I saw and no more--even while adreneline was flowing through my veins from my own close call; and when my input was no longer needed, continuing on to work.

For some time afterward, my powers of observation were in high gear.  I was noticing details everywhere.  I was making an effort to do so.  But after awhile, I couldn't keep it up and lapsed into mindless driving, thinking about where I was going and what I would be doing.

There have been studies that demonstrate how our "memory" is easily influenced by what other people say happened--that people can believe to have actual recollection of things that they never truly experienced but were only told about.  What tricks our minds can play on us.  I've heard it said that eye witnesses are the least reliable witnesses.

I have wondered ever since this event if I could do better.  If I could practice observing details and remembering them, and not be tricked by what other people saw differently. At least I was cognitive of this while giving my own statement, and recognizing that details others described were not things I actually saw and could not confirm.  That's a start certainly.  In the moment I hear something that I don't really recall, to file it in a place in the brain under "What I heard" and not under "What I know."

But also to simply be more observant at all times when driving, walking, out in public--and save the day-dreaming for when I am sitting safely on my own couch.

Friday, December 7, 2012


Continuing the countdown. Four more weeks. This was my last full week of work.  With holidays and scheduled time off, I have just 12 working days left.  Hanging in, if just barely.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Late fall cleanup

I wasn't getting it done, though I believed I should be able to do it.  I thought I could save some money and do the yard cleanup myself instead of hiring my landscaper crew.  But I had put it off.  Well, I excuse myself -- I've been fairly overwhelmed for awhile.  And now a week of commuting and working in the office about did me in, and I realized, if the cleanup was to get done before the next snow storm, I would need help. 

I called on Thursday and they came out on Saturday.  In about four hours, the place was all cleaned up, perennials cut down, gardens raked and ready for next spring's planting.  It's a relief.  Tonight a heavy rain is giving us a good soaking--much needed in this warmer than usual winter (so far).

I think Alberto was happy for work in December--normally an idle month for them. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Two amazing sunrises captured by my camera this week.  One a few days ago with the full moon setting in a hazy valley.  Winter inversions commonly trap the pollutants like this creating air not so healthy to breathe, but remarkable sunrises and sunsets.  Even before the sun began to rise, the moon seemed to light up the whole valley.

The second, a stunning sunrise that bathed the whole valley in pink just this morning following an air-cleansing rain overnight.  Too warm for snow--the previous has all melted away.  But colder, wet weather is predicted for tomorrow and we may get some more.  It's winter in Utah and this is just how it is.

After taking a half day off yesterday and getting some firm information on supplemental insurance for Medicare, I feel much more prepared to make a decision.  And I feel ready to take on this month of Christmas and birthdays.

I'll have a little family party here tomorrow--just ice cream and cake and a few snacks--for my lovely granddaughter turning 18.  Then I have a couple weeks before the next event.  I will finish Christmas shopping, cards, mailing, etc., in that time.

I have my dependable yard cleanup guys here today doing my much-delayed cleanup.  Thanks to the mild weather, it's not too late.  It always makes me so happy to have them here.

Now I'm feeling a little more in control and less stressed about the next five weeks.  I can see things will work out just fine at work and I can leave there with a good feeling.  With the early Thanksgiving, I'd had more time to prepare for the holidays and I feel I can really enjoy all the festivities this year.

And I'm getting pensive about the days when I will wake up in the morning and won't log in to work.  When I can begin to forget that routine, the processes, the projects.  Even my brain feels happy for the break.  And I'm contemplating how I will spend my time, new routines, new commitments, more chance to do what I choose.  I feel I'm on the threshold of a whole new existence.

Friday, November 30, 2012


Oh man, exhausted to the max.  Training in the office every day (I am pleased with our new hire--smart and picking it up fast).  I end up taking no breaks and staying a little longer to try to get some actual work done.  Add the half hour commute each way.  It makes for a long and truly exhausting day.  I didn't realize what a toll it would take on me.  I'm too old for this.  Good thing I'm retiring. 

In five more weeks.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Swan Hunting

I went in search of Tundra Swans yesterday.  I hit three of my favorite sites:  Salt Creek, Bear River WMA, and Antelope Island Causeway.  Unfortunately, there were too many duck hunters.  Lots of BLAM, BLAM, BLAM all around.  Most of the ducks at Bear River were on the east side behind the gate with a sign saying "No Public Access."  Smart Ducks.  Only a handful of swans all day.  After checking out pictures from other years, I see I will get a good chance for the swans again in February.  I don't know if I'll get out birding again before January.  Between working in the office every day and trying do fulfill all Christmas and birthday responsibilities, December is usually iffy at best.  We'll see.

I did manage to get a nice shot of a Canvasback.  And a pretty sunset as I was leaving Antelope Island.  Incidentally, when I drove mom and dad home Friday, we stopped off at Beus's Pond, and sure enough, got to see a number of Wood Ducks.  Mom and dad thought that was pretty cool.

Friday, November 23, 2012


Six?  Really six?  Thanksgiving is over and we're full on into the Christmas season now.  One new writer starts on Monday and the other the following Monday.  I need to finally decide on my Medicare supplemental insurance.  I will do that within the coming week.  Put up the tree. Get presents. Cards.

And to make things extra fun, half the birthdays in my immediate family fall in the month of December (with one also in November and one in January).  So the cluster of birthdays adds to the busyness.

I dreamed the other night of waking up retired.  It almost made me want to quit work on the spot and not go back.  But I promised I would get those new writers trained, and I will.

Six!  I feel a slight panic. And impatience.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Ditto

I've written about Thanksgiving days, dinners, guests, plenty of times.  I could just say "ditto" to all the previous posts.  Suffice it to say, there will be 12 for dinner at my house this year.  Some traditional and some very untraditional fare.  It promises to be a lot of work and a lot of fun. 

And on this day devoted to being grateful, I am.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I guess it's actually a named phenomenon .  But it's been around for centuries.  Well, probably since the beginning of man.  An interesting article I stumbled across on the age-old practice of "Mansplaining"--that is, men telling women what women think.

Credit:  "The Atlantic" November 1 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

Last day working from home

Today was probably my last day working from home. I'm off the rest of the week,and then I start training new people.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

In the driver's seat

Hogsback.  Hwy 12, central Utah, 2011
Driving past the Beck Street gravel pits today, I wanted to look up way to the top to see if any deer were visible against the skyline.  But I couldn't.  I was about to merge onto I-15--not a time for taking the eyes off the road.  When I was married, I was rarely the driver, and I got to enjoy the scenery instead of watching the road.  Spotting deer and birds of prey were just a couple of my favorites activities from the passenger seat.  There are some nice advantages to being the passenger.  Control over your destination is not one of them.

The driver is the one in control.  I may want us to turn here, but he will choose the route he wants.  I'm just along for the ride.  I didn't always like that in my marriage.  It seemed there was not enough compromise.  Not enough consideration for the way I wanted us to go.  And not just in the car.

When I got divorced, I was at first tentative about so many things.  Making decisions about my money, my property, my life.  For some time I felt I needed someone's approval before going ahead.  It took awhile to gain confidence in my own decisions.  That's changed now.  I have moved fully into the driver's seat of my life and am keeping my eyes on the road. This could be a bad thing if I ever hope to be in a committed relationship again.  Will we both want to do the driving?  Is there a way to share?  Is there a man willing to let me drive some of the time?

Men never seem to lack confidence in their decisions.  I find it fascinating.  They speak and act decisively while I dither.  Unfortunately, they also give lots of advice and do not like disagreement.  And then I'm in a position of either backing down from my own ideas or having a debate over them.  I don't care to do that so much anymore.

I don't miss being in the passenger seat.  When I want to view the deer or birds these days, I just pull over and stop.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pushing Stuff Around

I play a game called "Alchemy" on my smart phone.  You start out with four elements--earth, air, water, and fire, and you push things around on the screen combining two elements to make a new element.  For example: Earth + Air = Dust.  Dust + Fire = Gunpowder.  And so on.  The combinations are supposed to be logical (Time + Worm = Butterfly), but sometimes they are crazy.  My daughter laughs at the way I play this game.  And she can't believe how far I've progressed--far beyond anyone else she knows who plays the game.  She introduced it to me and she and her friends play it by trying to reason out combinations of things.  But for me, I just dump all the elements I have so far on the screen and double them and just push them around randomly until I suddenly create a new element.  I'm up to 369 elements out of 390.  A pretty remarkable total for using randomness as my method.  I play while waiting in line, or watching the news or drinking coffee.  Just to entertain myself during idle time.  Of course, the more elements you have, the less often you stumble across a new one.  And at some point maybe you have to start using logic.  I don't know, but I doubt I'll change my method this close to the finish.

The "pushing stuff around" struck me as an analogy for a lot of the decluttering and remodeling I've been working on for the past six years.  My method has been to focus on one space or task until I finished it and then move to another.  This meant that some things would come out of that space, and instead of finding a permanent home, got stuck in a closet or drawer for later.

I got this idea from a woman whom I heard speak many years ago.  She was the head housekeeper for the famous Brigham Young homes in Salt Lake City, the Beehive House and the Lion House.  She gave us lots of tips and even recipes for making our own household cleaners.  I've forgotten much of it now, but one thing stuck with me.  She told us to clean one room at a time and finish it.  Don't get distracted by other rooms needing your attention.  For example, if you pick up toys from the living room and take them to the children's room, ignore the children's room floor cluttered with other toys.  You may be tempted to stop and pick them up right now.  Don't do it, she told us.  Toss in the toys from the living room, close the door and don't think about that room until you finish the one you're working on.

I've employed something like this in my remodeling and decluttering projects.  I gave away and threw away a ton of stuff.  But things I thought I wanted to keep got stuck in drawers and closets until I could address them later.  Consequently, I have videos in three rooms, light bulbs in three places, Christmas decorations in three locations, and so on.  I have a dresser drawer in my bedroom that holds candles.  And another full of fabrics I may one day sew.  They don't belong there.  I need to start organizing.

And then I suddenly realized, I'm really finished.  FINISHED!  Finished with the grand decluttering.  The rooms full of boxes, old furniture, broken stuff--it's all gone.  I'm down to the closets and drawers containing things that I think I still want.

And now it's time to start the final GRAND ORGANIZING.  Time to stop just pushing stuff around.  Time to stop tossing things in the drawer.  Time to go through all the drawers and closets and get everything put in its rightful place.  Randomness will no longer work for this.  I'll need to think it through.  I want all the light bulbs in just one place.

With the holidays upon us, it seems unlikely I'll get started on this until after the new year, after retirement.  But I've already made the list of closets and drawers and will start as soon as I can, checking them off as I go.  (No doubt, I'll find more things I don't really need or want.)

The randomness of pushing things around temporarily has helped me get to where I am.  Finishing one space before moving on to the next.  And not worrying about the things not yet done.  Allowing myself to trust that eventually I would get to it all.  And now I have.  And it's a startling discovery to see how far I've come and how near the end.  There was SO much to do at the start.  SO MUCH!  It was daunting, to say the least.

They upgrade the Alchemy game now and then and add more elements, so you are never really "done".  It's sort of like Farm Town that I played on Facebook for awhile.  You think you are finished, and they add more levels.  You could go on and on and on, trying to reach the actual "END".  But there is no real END, and after a point you do have to stop and say that's as far as I want to go with this.  It's no longer fun; it's no longer interesting, it's no longer worthwhile to me.  I'm am not going to make a career out of organizing my house, either.  One pass through will do it and then just maintain.

I will do what I'm calling the "Drawers and Closets" project in the next few months.  Primarily the bedrooms and hall upstairs.  The kitchen is already just how I want it, having remodeled it just three years ago.  And there's absolutely nothing to do downstairs.  After that, I'll do the long-planned "Doors and Floors" upstairs to replace all the 30-something-year-old doors and to finally decide whether the teal carpet gets replaced by more carpet or wood floors.  That's what I have planned for 2013.

Then what?  I don't know.  I think I'll stop this game and move on to another one.

Friday, November 16, 2012


Lucky Seven!  Seven is heaven.  Seven weeks till retirement.  Why do I feel a little bit nervous?

We've filled one of the two writer spots at work--the junior writer.  She starts the Monday after Thanksgiving.  That will be the end of working from home for me.

Things are good.  Thanksgiving at my house next week.  I feel no stress.  Simone's mom is here from Brazil and they are bringing side dishes.  She is such a wonderful cook.  We are going to have some good food and fun! 

Still some lingering sadness.  This week, another one of those "memories" days--days you wish could finally become just another day on the calendar.  But time heals all, right?.

Time, time, time.  It's all about the passage of time.  And here I am doing what I promised myself not to do: wishing my life away.  Bu only for seven more weeks. Let's get on with the holidays!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Selected Shorts - Isaiah Sheffer, 1935 - 2012

I don't know how long Selected Shorts has been running on the radio, but I've been hooked on it for maybe a year or so.  I happened to hear it on Sunday evenings when driving back from birding -- something to keep me alert, awake while driving the sometimes long distances.  I enjoyed it but didn't really pay attention to what it really was.  Then I started to notice what I was listening to.  These were wonderful short stories written by a wide range of authors--well-known and not so much--read by such a variety of people--actors, actresses, authors, and others.  I was hooked.  Who doesn't love being read to? 

And then I started making a point to listen.  It comes on here at 7 p.m. Saturday, and is repeated on Sunday.  When other events prevent me from listening, I listen online where the five most recent broadcasts may be heard at any time.

Listen here.  I recommend "Great Beginnings" from October 21st as a particularly delightful place to start.

One of the joys of the program was listening to the introductions, segues and closings in the wonderful, warm resonant voice of Isaiah Sheffer.  I didn't know who he was really, until I learned this week, he had died November 9th.  I felt sad at this loss though I knew nothing about Isaiah.  So, I took the time to find out more about him.  You can read some at this link and this link.

They promise us the radio program will go on.  Of course it will.  It has a huge following.  Isaiah will be hard to replace.  His voice carried the certain warmth, humor, and reassurance of an old friend.  A tough act to follow for anyone.  I will miss that voice that brought me stories to make me laugh and cry and think. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A very snowy weekend

I'm always glad when the big storms hit on the weekend and are pretty much finished by Sunday afternoon.  This one was a doozy, with wave after wave of lake effect squalls hitting my area.  The ski resorts love the snow that comes from those storms that pass over the warm water of the Great Salt Lake.  It produces a particular kind of powder that Utah is famous for.

As for me, it produced at least a foot of white stuff to be shoveled off the driveway.  I have made a total of four passes now, all together.  It's snowing again now--great big fluffy flakes--but the driveway is clear and with temperatures just above freezing, it mostly melts when it hits the concrete. I hope I'm through shoveling.  At any rate, here is a series of pictures taken yesterday and today.

Saturday morning, we've had maybe 10 inches.  It's bitter cold.  I fill a bird feeder and bird bath and wait for the storm to subside a bit before shoveling.

Saturday afternoon. things have let up enough to shovel the driveway.  It took two passes and then another one later in the day.  One more on Sunday (at least so far).
 Trees are weighed down. Some parts of the valley have power outages due to trees falling on power lines.
 Sunday morning, there is clearing to the west.  But there were more squalls to come.
By Sunday afternoon, we keep getting clobbered. Here a 2-point buck suddenly runs into my shot as I grab of pic of the blizzard.
The squalls pass quickly.and don't seem to be sticking to the driveway any longer.  The roads now are clear and just wet.

From my Facebook post following the latest outing:
While out shoveling snow, was treated to a fly-by of about 30 TUNDRA SWANS. Slightly off-course, I think, due to the lake effect squall also passing over. Heard the squawking first and then they appeared just visible in the snowy sky. Thrilling sight and sound. Luckily, I had iBird on my phone and I immediately looked up the call to be sure I had identified them correctly. A rare reward for my hard work.
Imagine my delight after seeing the Tundra Swans in the heavy snowstorm earlier in the day, to just by chance see them returning as Jenn and I were driving up the hill. I made Jenn pull over and I grabbed a very marginal shot with my phone. Still, how cool is that!?  Of course, it wasn't the same ones.  The swans are migrating right now, numbering in the hundreds of thousands.  They will be here for awhile.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The gales of November

November 10, 1975, the Edmund Fitzgerald, Lake Superior.  A haunting song about a haunting story.


Friday, November 9, 2012


What a lovely number is EIGHT!   Nice and round in every way.  Doubly round, in fact.  The perfect number for a dinner party.  The base number behind our computers.  But best of all, one week closer to retirement. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Staying Flexible

Just as I was thinking I could just glide into retirement, things have really picked up at work.  Our junior writer is with us just two more days, but she may as well be gone now.  I am giving her assignments as usual--I need her help.  But she feigns an inability to understand what is needed and days pass with nothing getting done.  I may as well accept it.  She's already gone.

In the meantime, everyone has started realizing I'll be gone soon, too, and projects have materialized from every quarter.  I don't mind, I like being busy.  It may become difficult to keep up, but I've never been one to cave to a big workload.  I'll get it done. 

We have found a couple of good candidates to replace both of us and, even though we are still interviewing, I am feeling good about the prospects and I'm eager to get someone on board and start training. 

So I'm more tired.  I'm having more headaches.  I feel a little stressed.

At the same time, I'm trying to use up my saved up vacation time.  It may not work out.  But I took a half day today and raked leaves, frantically trying to beat the predicted snowstorm on Friday.  Oh well, if I don't get it done, I can call Alberto.  I am just hoping to save some money by doing it myself.  I MUST remember to turn off and drain the sprinkling system.

I'll take another half day on Friday, even though the storm will be here and it will be too late for raking.  But I am trying to use at least one full day every week.  And even though I've changed my schedule three times, I'm not suffering.  Actually, I still feel a little exhilarated that time is flying by.

Life is good!
. . .

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Come Together

I have a political blog, RedStateBlues, which I've lost interest in and have allowed to become stale and dormant.  Whatever political comments I've had to make, I've made on Facebook which is lazy blogging.  You make a short statement, attach a photo or link, and a conversation thread ensues.  A blog post takes more time, more thought, more substantiation.  I was also a contributor to two local political blogs that were fairly widely read.  There I found myself under constant attack for every little thing I said. I finally grew weary of trying to have a reasonable discussion with people who only wanted a fight.

So I have kept politics out of my personal blog, here.  It taints things.  This blog is not about politics.  But I want to comment on the present election and the fiercely divided country we have become.  Today is election day and, hopefully, by tonight we will know who our next president will be.  The real challenge begins after that.

The man we elect has to represent people who supported him and people who viciously hate him--about 50/50 each.  He will have to deal with a divided congress.  And Americans will need to find ways of healing the wounds of this election season.  If we don't, that's where the real danger lies.

There are those who are invested in stirring up controversy.  They speak in half-truths, rumors, exaggerations, and outright lies.  We know from recent election cycles, that the rhetoric doesn't die down after the election.  Whoever is our president, he will have that monster dogging his every word, every move.

I have my preference in this race and I'd like to see him win.  But even greater than that, I would like to see some signs of our country uniting after the election.  To see a congress that actually can compromise and get some work done.  To see citizens who can accept differences with friends and family without name-calling or deeming the other to be stupid. 

As this election draws to a close, I wonder if friends and family who have attacked me personally and who have been insulting and intolerant of my views will treat me with renewed respect.  I'm not at all sure whether this election hasn't changed some things forever.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Downstairs Remodel Pictures

Finally, I am taking the time to post pictures of the downstairs remodel.  I just hung a lovely painting above the fireplace.  More accessories are needed, but I will add those as I begin to get a feel for what I want.  So please excuse so many bare walls, and enjoy this little tour with me.  Click any photo to view larger.

Family Room: Here are three views of this cozy room.  I used a flash on the first photo, but not the next two.  You get a fair feeling for daytime lighting and night time lighting this way.  The recessed lights are on a dimmer so I can have the room as bright as I like.  The furniture arrangement is almost final, but needs a little tweaking.

Bedroom: This is my guest room.  I would like a larger window here, but it would require some cutting into the concrete foundation.  I forgot to photograph the big closet opposite the bed.
Laundry: In order to have a bathroom with shower in my limited space, the bath and laundry room needed to be one room.  I learned that the new front loader washers and dryers can be stacked.  This gave me the room I needed to add the shower.  I love this convenient configuration. And the new appliances don't take anything away from the pretty bath.
Bathroom:  For this small space I had a custom vanity built 36 inches wide but just 22 inches deep. The legs are purely decorative for a look that I wanted. But the vanity sits on a box frame so it is easy to clean around.  The shower is two walls of glass and two walls of cultured stone.  I was worried it would be a tight fit, but I have used it and it's just lovely.

 Hallways: A major problem I had in the basement was with door configurations. Where you see two open doorways here were once doors that hit each other when opening. That problem is solved. We added a small hallway into the bedroom bath area.  The bedroom door is to the right as you go in (not seen here).  Straight ahead is the bath/laundry.  And to the left is the new utility room for furnace, water heater, and water softener.  The area that is now the hallway plus the bath/laundry and utility rooms was all one unfinished space before.  This reconfiguration is more convenient and makes so much better use of that space.
I had originally posted pictures of the old space here--scary, catch-all, sad.  But I had to delete them.  I found in looking at them, they conjured more than the old ugliness in my house, but also some old ugliness in my life.  I can't do anything about the past.  It's finished.  I have to look forward, focus on the changes in my life and positive new directions.  The changes in my home are certainly symbolic of that.

UPDATE:  Okay, I am putting the "before" pictures back up here.  I've sufficiently recovered from the shock to appreciate the wonderful new space and to forgive myself for how awful it used to be.  


Friday, November 2, 2012


Nine more weeks to retirement.  My Medicare card arrived in the mail. I have sorted through all the solicitations for supplemental insurance and picked four or five I will talk to.  Need to do that soon.

Things have changed at work.  Our junior writer gave her notice and is leaving for another job.  This means we will be hiring both a junior and a senior writer.  I'll be required to participate in the interviewing and selection.  And then I will have to train both.  In my previous two jobs, I was a manager and had to do hiring (and once or twice, firing).  It was an activity I found so stressful and unpleasant, I welcomed this position at ARUP where I was no-one's supervisor and was not responsible for anything involving personnel matters.  Until we hired another writer a year ago, that is.  The last nine weeks of my employment will be stressful because of this but I am trying to be pragmatic about it.  It will be an added load, plus I will be doing all the work myself in the meantime.  It will be tough passing along all my knowledge in the few available weeks.  I have offered to come back and do additional training after my retirement, if needed.  And even, in a pinch, work on a project (although I warned them I can't work so much I jeopardize my social security payments).

So I find myself today just trying to gather all the positive thoughts and energy I can to face what I will need to do.  It's about attitude, I know.  With or without me, the company will go on.  They'll figure it out.

And isn't nine a really lovely number?  We're in the single digits!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy - Losing the Disaster Lottery

Here at my home, the weather could not be nicer.  Mild temperatures, no rain, sunny skies.  I have the day off tomorrow and will finally start my yard cleanup.  My thoughts will be with people who have much more difficult and serious cleanup ahead.

I don't have cable or dish TV, so I Googled last night to find live news feeds to stay updated on the hurricane.  It was emotionally draining to see and hear of the stories of devastation.  I stayed up too late and when I finally slept, I dreamt of disasters.  I was tired all day trying to work.  But I kept on looking for those updates throughout the day.  I crashed after work, sleeping for an hour or so and waking up disoriented.

It feels so strange that so many of us can just have a normal, even perfect, day, when on the other side of the country such havoc reigns.  And, in fact, the storm is not over.  Strong winds and heavy rains still cover a huge swath of the country and up into Canada now.

I guess I should appreciate my good fortune and be grateful I was not a victim of the disaster.  But it's hard for me to look at it that way.  I keep coming around to the thought, it could happen to me and my loved ones.  I do appreciate that our government has programs in place to provide safety for people during the disaster and then help to rebuild infrastructure.  I take some comfort in that.

It got me thinking about all the huge debate over government disaster assistance and it struck me that this is not unlike the healthcare debate.  On the one hand, some say the government has no right to take my money to help others.  Donations to help should be voluntary.  Others say we have an obligation to help our fellow men, and individuals and charity organizations alone are sometimes not enough.

One thing I firmly believe, it is not right that some are wiped out by losing in the lottery of a natural disaster or a devastating illness.  I cannot join with those who congratulate themselves that they have not suffered such things and who would do away with safety net programs.  Out of simple human caring, I think it's right to pool our money to provide some sort of insurance to help those who find themselves victims of such events.  And we should do what more we can individually as well. 

But then, I am a bleeding heart liberal.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Ten more weeks till new-found freedom.  It almost feels as if I've been holding my breath for a long, long time and I'm finally beginning to exhale. 

I've been talking to a lot of retirees about how they felt when they first retired.  Almost universally they missed the routine of work, missed being around people, sometimes have a hard time thinking of how to spend the day.  Some say that lasted a year, others much longer.  I'm asking because I want to be mentally prepared.  Some of this will be mitigated by the fact that I've worked at home and lived alone for so long, it will not be strange to be alone suddenly.  I may miss the routine of work, but right now, I sure don't think so.  My closest friend says she adapted immediately--mainly because she never particularly like working anyway.

How will it be for me?  I can't be sure.  But I will listen to what others tell me and try to prepare myself. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Nasturtiums in Late October

Everything in the yard is either dead, buried in leaves, or eaten by the deer. Except the nasturtiums that just keep on looking showy and pretty. Started from seed, these are the bargain star performers this year. Don't deer eat nasturtiums?

Friday, October 19, 2012


Can't help it, I have started counting down.  Eleven weeks from today - January 4th-- my last day of working for a living.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Sometimes the things we hold on to are not nearly as important as the things we let go of.
I just heard that sentence tonight and it resonated with me.  I'm very good at holding onto things.  Witness all the "stuff" still in boxes in my house.  But bigger than that is all the baggage I've been carrying around for a long long time.  I'm talking the invisible kind.  But I wonder, how do you clean house of that kind of "stuff"?

Is there something you think of every single day?  Involuntarily?  And wish you wouldn't?

It's a rhetorical question.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I assemble one more thing

I know I said I was finished assembling furniture.  But I still had this storage shelving to assemble for the garage.  There are boxes of various things I'm not ready to throw away, stacked in my office.  Been there since last February.  I'm sure ready to get those out of here--I've been needing a place to put them since I no longer have storage space in the downstairs.

I bought this shelving for three reasons: It was good sized (24' deep 48" wide), the box stated that assembly required just a hammer, and each shelf supposedly could hold 1000 pounds.  The box was so heavy, I couldn't get it onto a cart, and a guy at Lowe's loaded it onto a cart, helped me at the checkout, and got it into the car for me.

At home I wrangled it out of the trunk, carefully sliding it out, and with a little leverage, carefully lowered onto its end in the garage.  Then I just "walked" it to where I wanted it and carefully lowered to the floor.  Once there, I could just open the box and deal with individual pieces quite easily.

I had no idea it would be so easy.  Little button-like things on the shelf bracket slid into keyhole openings.  A hammer just tapped them into place.  What a welcome change from the old days of dozens of nuts and bolts and cross brackets.

Here is the first half.  The joints between the lower and upper were a little tough and took a little more diligent hammering.
 In all, maybe half hour to 40 minutes - no sweat.
I have read online reviews of shelving at several stores before deciding on these.  Some people complained about the pressed wood shelves instead of metal.  But I sure like just slipping the shelf into the brackets.  I don't mind them at all.  And the price was right, too.  $89.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I am autumn

I woke up this morning confused about the day -- thinking it was Monday, acting as if it were Monday, planning my activities.  It took me 45 minutes to realize it's Sunday.  The day yesterday was so busy, maybe I feel like I got two days' worth out of it.  Or maybe it's that age thing again. In thinking what to write today, I remember my poem "October" I wrote last year ( I'm linking to it here because today is just such a day again.  And because I'm reminded, I, too, am autumn.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The TV console that took two weeks to assemble

Well, that headline is a little misleading.  I started assembling this a little over two weeks ago.  And when I had it all together, the bottom drawer just wouldn't slide in.  I finally determined the rail was faulty and called and ordered a replacement which arrived today.  So here is the project that didn't really take two weeks.  Just three evenings separated by two weeks.

The hard step: Attach two sides to four different pieces of wood at once using cam locks and wood pegs. Nine pegs to line up on each side.   This step took a lot of patience.  Luckily I'm long on that commodity.
The first side was easy. But the second side was oh so tricky trying to keep all four unruly pieces of wood in place so as to slide all nine pegs into their proper holes. My struggle was interrupted by a long phone call from a friend, which relaxed me enough that everything just went together on the next try.  So far so good.

The basic cabinet was done. I decided to wait until the next evening to do the top and the drawers. I thought nothing would be as hard as those sides were.  But the drawers turned out to be a demon.  Well, one drawer anyway and just one side.  It just wouldn't slide in. 
I finally determined the rail was faulty.  I gave up until I could get a replacement rail.  When I examined the replacements (they sent me a pair), it took me a bit to figure out they had sent the complete assembly with drawer side and cabinet side.  I got the piece I needed and studied the job.  I wasn't sure how hard this was going to be as the rails had been factory installed and I had not had to attach them originally. But it was not hard at all--just four small screws. Easy out with my power drill.  Easy back in--carefully screwing in by hand.  And then the drawer slid in like a charm.   
So the TV console is finished. No more furniture assembly remaining to do.  No more construction.  Even the final inspection is over.  The place is ready for me to move in. I can finally put this room together.  Pictures soon of the completed remodel.