Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ready for Spring

Things are blooming in the yard: daffodils, forsythia, pear trees, plum tree, and crabapple tree (almost). All of the perennials have pushed up new shoots and will soon be growing and on their way to contributing color to the yard.  I'm ready for it.  Every day I do a little puttering in the yard, cleaning up dead stuff from the winter, fertilizing some things, and making plans for the season.  I'm not having to work too hard since I had the cleanup crew here in the fall.  But, boy, the weeds are sure growing!

I finished my winter indoor projects and am very happy with the results.  The rooms feel finished, homey, and welcoming.

I have even done a few projects on the One-Day Project list which I had planned to start in April.  That list has turned out to be a pretty fun one after all.  I really like working on things I can complete, start to finish, in just one day or maybe two.  I had planned to do just one or two items on the list each week throughout the summer.  But honestly, right now I find I'm able to do more than that.  It's a non-deadline sort of thing.  I just look at the list at the start of the week and choose what I want to do.  I'll probably finish most of the list in April and May.  And that's good, as this year I will have the grandkids all summer, all day, five days a week, since they are no longer on year-round school schedule. 

Yesterday it rained, and my yard was happy for the water. It is supposed to rain again this evening.  After such a dry winter, I worry about water for my yard.  If we have watering restrictions, I may not do any new planting, just maintain the established plants.  Those well-established drought tolerant plants will do fine with less water and I'll still have pretty color throughout the summer.  And I'll still do some patio pots with annuals for extra color.  Those don't require a significant amount of water.  I'm still hoping we might see a more wet pattern emerge like last year, and get more rain in the spring months.

The new season is upon us.  The blooms and the fragrant air can't help but lift our spirits.
 It's a little chilly for sitting more than a few minutes on the patio today (although it has been in the 70s this month and will be again later this week).  But I wanted to grab a picture of the earliest blooms just for perspective as the summer progresses.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Birds at Salt Creek and Bear River. What's Our Hurry?

 Sunday, Frankie and I hit the road in search of migrating birds.  Things are all running early this year and I was afraid I had missed the Snow Geese and Tundra Swans.  It turns out I did miss the greater part of that migration, but did find other birds.

We packed a lunch and water and headed up the freeway.

A couple of months ago, UDOT raised the speed limits for all interstate freeways along the Wasatch Front to 70 MPH -- even through the middle of Salt Lake City where lanes increase up to 6 and 7 lanes in each direction.  It's crazy.  At my age, I'm not interested in speed, but I try to go with the flow.  But it feels like we're all hurtling toward sudden death.  North of Ogden, the speed changes to 75 MPH and narrows to two lanes each way.  Traffic is heavy and has a high number of semis in the mix making that part of the drive tricky.  Either you stay in the slow lane behind a truck and drive around 60, or pass and try to keep up with those doing 90 in the fast lane.  I tried keeping to the slow lane and passing at no more than 78 MPH and then getting over again so faster drivers could pass me.  I didn't want to hit 80 as I have one of those Allstate Drivewise devices on my car that tracks my driving performance for purposes of a discount.  It tracks how often I exceed 80 MPH (among other things) and that is a negative.  So I didn't enjoy that part of the drive at all.  But I did get there fast -- one hour from my house to the Salt Creek parking lot.

I guess no-one likes driving freeways.  They are bland and all the same.  Not like driving the old country roads and back ways.  So people drive faster just wanting to get to their destinations as soon as possible and not enjoying the drive.  When UDOT raised the speed limits, their justification was that people were already driving those speeds anyway, so it simply made sense.  Frankly, that does NOT make sense to me.  If people are breaking the law, write more tickets.  With that kind of logic, we should do away with speed limits altogether.

I may just opt for back roads through that 75 MPH section in the future and drive through the little towns of Perry, Willard, and Brigham -- "Fruit Way" as it's called, for all the orchards, farms and fruit stands along the road.  And I always opt for Legacy Parkway in Davis County, as it is a limited access highway with no cross streets; but the speed limit is 55, it has quiet asphalt instead of concrete, has no sound walls, and no semis allowed, making for a relaxing pleasant drive. And after all, it's not just about the destination.  We need to enjoy the journey.  I'm not in a hurry like everyone else. I might just slow down and enjoy the drive sometimes.

At Salt Creek, I found only a couple of swans, too far out for photos.  I was delighted to find a large number of Sandhill Cranes all around.  I could see some and heard more calling from hidden spots.  Some were flying overhead.  It made the trip so worthwhile, even though I didn't get any good photos.  I was surprised there were other visitors at the refuge, too.  Several cars came and went.  I normally have the place to myself but more birders are discovering this sweet little spot.
We found our way to Bear River refuge next where things are sort of between migrations.  The swans and geese have mostly moved on.  But I was delighted to see the first pelican of the year, two Clark's greebes, and a bunch of Avocets, all portending things to come.

My photos leave something to be desired as the midges are out and it's very hard to stay outside the car or even roll down windows without being mobbed by the pests.  But here's the best of what I captured.

Great Blue Heron
 Ducks in flight
 Cinnamon Teal ducks
 A lonely Clark's Grebe
 A bunch of Avocets
First pelican of the year
 Much of the refuge is open water awaiting the next wave of migrants.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Planting Some Seeds

I've struggled so much the past couple of months with being productive and sticking with my plans, and I've felt so much guilt as a result.  But as I was sorting through some old notebooks in my office this week, I came across some of my original lists from before I started any remodeling (not only do I write lists, I save them!).  It brought back to mind the gargantuan job I had ahead of me at the time to clear out rooms, dispose of stuff, to plan and execute each remodel project.  Now that I look back, I wonder how I accomplished it all.  I decided to take the time today to scan through all of my various blogs, personal and public, and try to get a feel for the timing of events and how I was feeling throughout.  SOOOO much has happened in those years.  Births, deaths, marriages, divorces, moves, retirement (mine), friends coming and going.  It is astonishing to me to read about it all encapsulated in one morning.   There were plenty of ups and downs. But I kept an even keel most of the time and NEVER gave up on my goals.  Some things got completed late or were deferred until another time.  But I was ever prioritizing and sticking with it.  And all along the way I seemed to be analyzing who I was and where I was in my life.  A lot of introspection.

The truth is, I have accomplished a lot!  Really!  I have to be proud of myself for what I've achieved and the goals I've completed.  What I have on my lists these days is so small in comparison.  My review left me feeling so good and happy about what I have been able to do, and positive and hopeful about future possibilities.

My theme throughout it all was "Just Do Something".   I don't know if I heard that somewhere, or if I just made it up, but oh, that theme served me well.  When the job is big and overwhelming.  Or when you have so much else going on, sometimes you can only do a little on the project.  But every little bit gets you a step closer to finishing.  This is a good time for me to remember this.

Today, because of the time I spent on my review, I decided to skip the office project and do another little pressing task instead:  I planted some flower seeds in a starter tray.  I'm hoping to grow seedlings for annuals that I like in my yard and patio pots.  We are months away from worrying about planting outside.  But I'm hoping to have some nice little plants by that time.  I planted three varieties of zinnias, Mexican sunflowers, delphiniums, verbena, and I experimented with planting some of the red berries from my asparagus fern as I had read you can do that, and they are so nice in pots.  We shall see how things turn out.

I think I planted some figurative seeds today as well as a literal ones.  I want my life to continue to evolve and I want to continue to be engaged not only in things that help others, but in things that please me and make my world nicer for myself.  And I will try to give myself little pats on the back for successes big and small.

Monday, March 2, 2015


If it's March, it must be the start of winter project #3.

At the start of January, I laid out specific projects I wanted to complete in each of the first three months of the year.  You wouldn't think I would have that much to do having completed all the remodeling.  But I felt a couple of the rooms that weren't a big part of the remodel other than doors and baseboards needed some freshening up and new life.  And some minor repairs were also needed.  So I set the tasks and deadlines.

Last week I read two different articles about "busyness" and why we seem to want to inflict it on ourselves.  The gist of the articles was that we sometimes work more than we need to and push ourselves harder than our bosses, families, or others truly expect from us.  Why?  We seem to get some satisfaction from the martyrdom or victim mentality; i.e., I'm so tired and so busy, etc.  As if we are slaves to our lives.  We might even feel we are failing if we leave some gap of effort unused.  The problem with busyness is that can be joyless.  The articles suggested that we understand our limits and know when to stop.  And to take pleasure in the work and activities we do.

This is good advice for me.  I push myself and give myself deadlines for no reason whatsoever except that I expect to be productive.  And I sometimes set myself up for failure.

In the case of my winter projects, I nearly bombed in January.  But I came back strong in February and completed all projects for both months on time.  The projects were my bedroom in January, and the TV room and one bathroom in February.  I had things to do like mount a large and heavy mirror, spackle and paint various screw holes, etc., in the rooms, mount some new towel bars, clean walls and carpets, buy new bedding, artwork, and so on.  The lists were long and detailed, but almost everything had some sort of a glitch.  Like the painting.  I needed to match a specific color of green for one room and red for another. Unable to find just the right match among the hundreds of paint samples, I ended up buying little pots of those sample paints in several colors, and then mixed and experimented until I got a perfect match.

As things progressed, successes gave me renewed motivation.  But some days I just didn't want to work on any of it.  And if I took a day off from it, then I gave myself plenty of guilt for being lazy or unmotivated.  Wow, how silly is that?  These things made the house nicer for sure, but nobody was making me do them, and my deadlines were completely arbitrary.

I need to think a bit about why I do that to myself.  I think it was only when I finally decided to drop the deadlines and simply work at the list of tasks, that I finally began to have fun and enjoy what I was doing.

Toward the end of February I was down to finding accessories and artwork.  I decided I wasn't going to just hurry and buy something unless I really liked it -- even if I missed the deadline.  With the pressure off, I began browsing online and in local shops. And I'll be darned if I didn't soon find the perfect items.  So with a couple of days left in the month, I found myself with everything finished for January and February.  And eager to get on with March.

This month I tackle my office. It has been neglected and a catch-all since I retired.  It still has those boxes of photos and memorabilia I never addressed.  That's the biggest thing.  And I may not get it all done in a month.  But I've broken it down into a list of tasks.  I'll work at those and see what happens.  But I definitely plan to have some lazy days.  And plenty of naps when I feel tired.  And no guilt, no matter what.

After March, I won't do month-long projects anymore.  I shouldn't need to really.  But there's always plenty to do.  I've started a list of One-Day Projects.  Things like painting the patio furniture.  Or sharpening my garden tools.  The list has no dates or deadlines except that I will try to complete one project a week throughout the summer.  And that's enough because I'll be tending my grandsons for the entire summer as well, and trying to keep up with my share in looking after my parents.

So it still sounds like busyness in my life.  But I won't be a slave to it.  I will take pleasure in small successes and give myself plenty of leeway.  After all, I'm retired, and there's nobody making me do anything.  So I'm going to do just what I want!

Here's Frankie posing with a new painting I choose for his favorite lounging niche in the TV room.  See the little white dog in the bike basket?  That will be us this summer.