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.