Monday, September 25, 2017

Checking In

I haven't posted in a very long time. I think life has been somewhat difficult this summer and I really haven't felt like writing about my life. But, I'm here to simply check in today and to say things are really just fine with me.  I'm managing to keep up on caring for my home and yard, the grandkids, helping with mom. I'm failing to take very good care of myself.

I'm afraid I'm giving in to feeling old and slow. I have pain most of the time in one knee. And when the weather changes, sometimes every part of me seems to. ache. But still, I consider myself healthy and lucky to be so.

I am less brave these days at facing problems.  I procrastinate a lot, and I hate that. I have always been one to jump on things and get them done. It's not me to slack off as much as I have this summer.

I will offer one excuse.  It has been damn hot this summer and has kept me indoors too much. We had our hottest summer on record here with long stretches in the 100s. Then, suddenly, it turned cold!  Then hot, then cold and rainy.  Now at last, I will have seven days of mild temperatures and no rain.  No excuses now, I plan to find the old me somehow, and get some specific things done outside.

I will offer another excuse. I have been sad about the state of a lot of things: our country, climate issues and disasters, the loss of too many people in my life. I see what happens when you give in to the sads. It becomes a determining factor in whatever else you try to do. I stay home a lot, watch too much Netflix, feel negative about so many things. THIS I must change.  I believe it's called fake it till you make it. And seriously, while I know you can't just "snap out of it" on demand, I have to be more positive and more determined to break this pattern of negativity that's dragging me down.

So that's the update.  Here it is, the beginning of autumn -- such a beautiful, transitional time of year. I intend to make it a transitional time for myself as well.  Making no promises as to how often I will post. But if I have some beautiful pictures, I will definitely post them.

P.S. Here's a giant zinnia from my front flower bed. I planted a lot of these to fill in where the deer had damaged so many of my perennials last winter. The zinnias have done a spectacular job as shown by this giant bloom.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Backyard Chukars

A beautiful bird, the Chukar.  Not a native bird as I had thought, but an import years ago from the Eurasian continent.  It has established itself well in the scrub lands of the Great Basin in western U.S.  And also, in my backyard this year.  A pair of these birds, a larger sized member of the partridge family seem to have set up housekeeping somewhere nearby, and they like the little nature park that is my yard.  Delightful to have some new guests.  I once saw a single Chukar just across the street maybe 25 years ago.  But this pair is definitely hanging around.  I'm hoping for a little family later on.

End of April - Completely off the rails

 First of the year, male Lazuli Bunting.

Winter really got me down this year. I've been trying to figure out why I was so down; it was hard to cheer up. Perhaps lack of sun with a lot of smoggy days and more snow than usual. 

The extra snow this year actually makes me happy.  Add to that a very rainy April, and the water situation in our dry state is greatly improved.

And I managed to get some projects completed that were on my winter list.  And I helped my daughter (with the help of Alberto) finish converting the huge garden plot in her backyard to easy maintenance lawn and trees -- what she wanted.

I have not taken care of myself physically. It became easy not to go walking with the treacherous icy sidewalks. It became easy to stare at Netflix or anything at all on the TV and eat mindlessly.  I sadly put on pounds over winter.  Now I'm paying the price as not only do I need to get those pounds off again (and more), the extra weight makes everything I do more difficult and painful -- especially stairs.  I know this is a big part of why I have felt somewhat depressed.

But with April came some nice weather, too, and I have been cleaning up flower beds and planting a few perennials. My little project of "winter sowing" of seeds in milk cartons is coming along.  It makes me laugh, in fact.  The plants are tiny, but boy are they tough, having been through snow, rain, a few days of heat. But now I will open up the tops and let them enjoy some May sunshine next week as the weather improves. Sometime in May I will plant them in the flower beds. Okay, not everything in the winter has left me depressed.

And the lovely birds have finally returned. I have filled all the feeders with fresh millet, sunflower seed, nyger, peanuts, and suet.  Today I will add the hummingbird feeders. Already the first Lazuli Buntings have returned, lifting my spirits a great deal.

Yes, I'm very upset and depressed about the election. Things in our country, and by extension the world, are deteriorating fast.  A mean spirit is pervasive.  It's a time for the haters, the polluters, the greedy, the selfish, to thrive.  This overpowers my positive nature almost every day. It's beyond my control, I know, but it makes me inconsolably sad about the future for my children and grandchildren.   We have worked so hard and so long to improve protections for our environment.  It's like when I planted a beautiful flower bed, and then it was destroyed in a flash from water overrunning the storm drains up the hill.  Yes, that's how it feels.  All our hard work has been destroyed. I'm not resolved to this and will be an ongoing part of the resistance until this scourge is removed from office.

One thing I know I need to stop doing is thinking about how my house looks to a prospective buyer.  I've spent so much time, money, and effort fixing it up, I have forgotten my purpose: not just to have it ready to sell some day, but also to enjoy in its lovely state while I live here. It's my home and while I continue to improve it, I need to remember it is for ME now, and for the next owners sometime in the future.

 A friend of mine has a blog where she has been writing about a "year of beautiful". What a good idea.  What if I tried to even make every day a day of beautiful. If I can manage to have the beauty of day be its defining characteristic, perhaps I can better take in stride the difficulties, disappointments, and physical pain.  This is a thought I will take over to my personal journal and explore a bit more.

So here it is, nearly May.  I'm in a hole of my own digging. But I have energy in spite of pain. Today is Saturday, and I will make the most of it.  It's a beautiful sunny day and the birds are singing. It's already a day of beautiful.  And if I focus on a day of beautiful, I only have to do it one day at a time.

First of the year female Lazuli Bunting.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

January - When will it end?

It has been a snowy winter. Very snowy. In most of the state, our mountains have well over 150 percent of normal snowpack, with some over 200 percent. This is very good for a high desert state like Utah. We depend on that snowpack for our summer water needs. This also bodes well for the Great Salt Lake that has been shrinking dramatically.  It's good for everyone, really, except 69 year old women who still shovel a very large driveway.

Today we will get the third of three consecutive storms occurring over a period of 4 days. The first gave us just a couple of inches of snow in the valley.  But yesterday, I had 15 inches.  Glad it was Saturday and glad I had help. A neighbor came with a snowblower when the snow had reached about 10 inches.  Then another neighbor helped with the rest after the snowing stopping.  It was hard and I am not really sure I could have done it alone.  It begins to worry me. How long am I going to be able to keep this up? This next storm is supposed to give us up to 10 inches overnight.  Flakes are just starting now.  I have to leave the house around 6 a.m. to tend grandchildren and get them off to school. I know I will be up by around 3 to evaluate the driveway and see if I need to shovel.

January is just the hardest month for me.  We have periods of inversions and pollution where you can't see the sky or mountains for the dirty air.  And when you can see the sky, it's always white. And the ground is white. Or dead brown. And the cold -- many days in the single digits or lower overnight.  The occasional thaws with temps rising into the 40s are such a relief, but they give false hope. Thankfully, though, they reduce the piles of snow around the yard.

I go by a calendar winter of December, January, February, rather than the meteorological dates. I consider the end of February the end of winter -- even though we can expect snow storms and cold weather continuing off and on into May. But the snow does melt and things actually start coming up from the cold ground.  And I start thinking about the garden.  The way I see it, we're just barely halfway through winter now.  So I need to buck up and do something worthwhile.

As usual, I have my winter list of projects to do.  This year's list included things you might not think needed doing: organizing some closets and drawers.  Actually, having decluttered and organized so recently, things were already pretty tidy.  But already, there are more things I need to discard. And I wanted to try a new way of storing things in drawers. I'd read about the Marie Kondo method of decluttering and organization, and was struck by the idea of vertical storage. Basically, storing things in drawers so that nothing is on top of anything else. The way this is done is by rolling clothing items instead of folding.  I thought this would work with things like t-shirts and tanks, sweaters, socks, undies, scarves, etc.  So, I spent a little time with my already tidy drawers.  Here's what I found: 1) It is amazing to see everything in the drawer at once. I realized I had forgotten about things on the bottom stack.  Now I can see everything in the drawer when I open it.  2) By rolling the items, I was able to fit more in the drawer.  Without showing anything too personal, here are a couple of results -- a drawer of scarves and one of t-shirts and tanks.

My next project will be something I've never tried before -- a method for winter seeding of annuals outdoors using milk cartons as mini greenhouses.  I'll just post a link to it here for the instructions: Winter Sowing 101.  I have all the materials ready to go, but I think I'll wait until into February to start my seeds.  I figure I have nothing to lose and it certainly gives me a tiny bit of gardening fun, if experimental.

I still have some other projects on my winter To Do list -- indoor things things to pass the time during this excessively white month of January.  My friend, Celia, and I have signed up for a mosaics class at the University of Utah that starts in February. I've been wanting to make mosaics on some of the stepping stones in the yard, and this should be fun.

So here's to trying to keep a good attitude and continuing to make forward progress despite the depressing weather.  Spring will surely come.