Sunday, December 16, 2012

Too Much Holiday

Already I am overwhelmed with too much holiday this and that. I got to yesterday and found I could barely function any more. I had some ideas about going out and doing something or another. I didn't do any of that. I stayed in all day. I DID do quite a bit of knitting which made me feel good.

There are too many events for me. Too many dinners. Too many parties. Too many get togethers. Too many public events. To many end of year things. I'm quitting after tomorrow. Today I have our knitting group yarn exchange, which I can't miss, and tomorrow there is a nice luncheon for the Osher Institute (free food) which I have rsvp'ed for. I need to go up to the office anyway, so this will get me out of the house and up to work. Then I quit.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

After the Trip

I am back home a from a short business trip, and now I am trying to catch up on my ordinary life. So much goes on hold while I am away, but nothing goes away. I just have to do things later.

There's work, of course. It will take me several days until I am caught up on all the delayed things I have to do for my classes and our writing project. I'll chip away at all that over the course of next week.

But then there are all the things at home that need doing. Laundry, for example. Grocery shopping. Paying bills and managing finances. Cleaning. Everything is on backlog, and everything takes time to accomplish.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

One Year Later

Hi, there, Smokey Rose here. Most of the time my Mom writes about me, but this time she's letting me have the keyboard. It's now been one year since we have been living together. I have to say, I had no idea what was in store for me last year about this time. I mean, I just kind of schmoozed up to that lady with the blonde hair and glasses because I just like people. She wasn't anything special. But before I knew what was happening, I was inside this travel box going who knows where for a very long time just with HER. All my favorite caregivers from Best Friends .... haven't seen them since that day.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Take Me As I Am

I had an appointment with a wonderful personal trainer who works for our employee wellness program.  I went to see him as one thing on the list that will lead to a reduction in my health insurance premiums. What I really liked about him was how he listened to me, worked with me on what I wanted, ignored totally what I didn't want. He was, well, PERSONAL. As I was leaving I told him how much I enjoyed talking with him, and he said he has learned that it's best just to take people as they are and to work with that. Pushing unwanted change just doesn't work.

Monday, September 10, 2012

An Introvert Reaches Her Limits

I am an introverted person. I was very happy to read a new book that came out this year Quiet by Susan Cain which is all about introverts. The author has a little set of questions to ask yourself if you are introverted or extroverted. I knew I was an "inny" from the beginning, but the set of questions just confirmed it. You should just read the book if you want to learn all about questions like what makes intro / extroverted people, what are our various strengths and weaknesses, how we introverts can overcome some of our difficulties in life & how parents, teachers, managers, co-workers can best work with us.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Miss Lily, 1992-2007

This year I spent my birthday at our annual fall faculty retreat. People asked me if I minded spending a birthday at such an event, and I said it was all right this year. I had done it before, and this year was fine, kind of boring actually.

I won't ever forget that first birthday retreat because my poor kitty, Miss Lily, was in the animal ICU, dying that day. I kept getting phone calls from different vets as we talked over her condition and made decisions about what to do next. I would get a ring on the phone, excuse myself to the corridor, talk to the doctors while pacing the hallway, and eventually return to the meeting in tears, only to do it again a couple of hours later.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Blue Lady Travels in the Red Lands - Sundance, Wyoming

I had the opportunity to send a real nice day with my friend who grew up in this region and now sells real estate. She knows a lot about all the little places around here. We began the day at a local art in the park festival which was a lot of fun, but then we had to hit to road so she could show some property to clients. We spent the rest of the day in Sundance, Wyoming. We got to explore the place quite a bit because her clients were scheduled more than two hours apart.

I had been to Sundance before because it's one of the possible gateways to Devil's Tower. For what I remembered, I had not been particularly impressed. But I came away thinking a little better of the place this time. It's bigger than I had thought and has more "stuff" in it than I realized.

Sundance was founded as a stage stop. The historical outlaw Sundance Kid spent some months in the local jail there and later decided to take (or was given) the name of the town as his nickname. We did not see any evidence of the railroad in town, but surely it must have come through there. Must have been something in between the stage coaches and I-90.

A lot of the county is federal land, forest service or BLM, plus the National Monument (Devil's Tower). The map shows the county is checker boarded with squares of federal, state and private lands. It's considered part of the Black Hills, just in Wyoming, not South Dakota. Many paces have drop dead gorgeous views of Sundance Mountain and the surrounding plains to the south. Sundance has plenty of big, big, sky.

Sundance ought to have stuff in it because even though the population is only around 1,100 people, it's the county seat and the only town of any size in the whole of Crook County. So you can find a full service hospital, a clinic, a dentist, a mental health center, a family crisis center, a senior center, a library along with the county courthouse and administrative building. (The city and schools also had admin buildings). We saw a couple of nursing homes / senior living places.

 We found these churches: Catholic, Mormon, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, Christian, Community. There are probably a couple more Christian ones, but I doubt that we missed a Jewish synagogue or a mosque.

The town has a full service IGA grocery store. There are a few gas stations /C-stores, a liquor store, a couple of auto parts stores, a flower & gift shop, a decent sized hardware store and a small drug store. There was a implement dealer just outside of town. I saw some people selling a few used cars, but no auto dealers.

There are 3 real estate offices.  Locals run these kinds of businesses:  hair salons, a fitness center,  meat processing, photography, chiropractic care, printing & copying, law, accounting, insurance, construction, tree care, auto repair, funeral services. There is a local newspaper, radio station and a local bank. There are several motels ... it's right off I-90 so I'm sure they get a lot of weary travelers.

There were a couple of bars plus the VFW, a Subway sandwich shop, an ice cream and hot dog local seasonal drive in, and 2, perhaps 3, other restaurants (it wasn't clear of one was still in business or not). The C-store clerk highly recommended Etta's Fine Dining.  I did not see a specialty pizza shop ... I guess you get pizza from the C-stores.

There is a nice, pretty new, Harley gear shop and two art galleries which were both closed, but clearly had things to see inside. And there was local coffee shop...the espresso kind... that also rented videos.

Dish Network is clearly how people stay in touch with the rest of the world. Everyone had the little satellite receivers on their buildings.

Sundance has the three levels of schools plus a building labeled "Beartooth High School" which must be some kind of private school. There is a 4-H center, a rodeo arena and very nice little city park. There are no theaters now, and we didn't notice any buildings that clearly looked like "used to be theaters" but I imagine back in the first half of the 20th century there must have been one. We did not see a cemetery, but there must be one some place.

We saw only two remaining, beautiful, old, local sandstone buildings. One was an old school and there are efforts to turn it into a museum and community center. The coffee shop sold tee shirts that said "I'm an Old Stoner" which support thee effort to save the old stone building. I hope they are successful because the building is just grand and well worth saving.

The whole town was very quiet. If you don't count the people attending a rodeo that afternoon, we saw almost no one outside doing anything. No one was out walking, no one was doing yard work. There were only a couple of cars parked near the downtown stores. I kept wondering, where are the people? Have they all been captured somehow by close encounters? Or maybe Dish Network has them all totally enthralled. (maybe Dish Network is how we have close encounters these days without realizing it. Maybe Dish Network is part of the evil plot from our new masters from other worlds.)

The house we showed to the clients was in an interesting location about 7 miles out of town. It was a decommissioned Air Force radar station (Sundance Air Force Radar Station, known for being the first totally nuclear powered radar station). It was a teeny, tiny Air Force base. I didn't know there were such things, but once my friend told me what it was, I could see it clearly because it was totally that Cold War style of federal architecture.

 The houses were all small and had the same floor plan. Over time under civilian ownership, the outside appearances had changed a lot, but you could still see the bones. And when I went inside the house for sale, it was deja vu for reservation housing...I recognized everything. There were also a few common buildings in the story offices, a two story either single enlisted men's quarters or possibly a BOQ, a community building which probably housed a mess, rec rooms, meeting rooms and maybe a chapel, buildings for vehicles and equipment.

The actual radar station was some ways away from the living area. It's supposed to be all gone, but still has a chain link fence all around it that says something like "federal property, keep out." The nuclear generator was portable, so presumably it did not contaminate the land, but really, who knows?

So, as I always do when I visit a new place, I asked myself, if life took me here, how would I feel about making Sundance my home? I don't think I would pursue it, but I think I could live there. The setting is drop dead gorgeous. The actual town has the basic stuff a person needs for ordinary living and working. It's clean and safe. There were nice homes (and some not so nice, of course. There didn't seem to be much zoning.) You could walk everywhere you needed to. Bicycling would be easy on deserted, wide, not very hilly streets. There's Dish Network. Cell phones work. I-90 eventually connects to everywhere. Bigger places like Spearfish and Rapid City are really not very far away. You can get public radio. All the different trucks deliver there. I could wear an "Old Stoner" tee shirt.

But I would be a spinster blue lady in that red town. How many others eat tofu, do Zen meditation & tai chi, walk, avoid driving, always recycle, save electricity and water, despair over global climate change, want lots of gun control, and vote for Obama happily? Whom would I talk to? Who would be my friends? Possibly I would stand out so much that the five other people there already like me would find me in a heart beat after I arrived in town. It could work.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What I Eat These Days

Our heat wave broke last week with a big rain overnight on Thursday followed by all day fog on Friday. I'm feeling so much better.

As I said before I have been eating a lot of salads, fruits and other things that require no or almost no cooking. This has been going pretty well, and I'm thinking this is not a bad way of eating overall. I've also been reading some books that have to do with good and bad ways to eat, and of course, even NPR has stories and news items and whatnot about what we all should be eating, and not eating, to keep us as healthy as possible.

I've decided on some general principles for myself that I think, overall, are good ideas, but that don't make me an obsessive nut about what should be an overall pleasurable part of living. Most importantly, it's a plan that I know I can actually live with.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy Canada Day!

Dear Canada,
I really do love you. You are one of the best countries in the world. I would be honored if you were to let me work there one day so that I could live up amongst you.

But I have some real bad news for you. A bunch of those tea party folks from down here say they are going to pull up stakes and move in with you. Seems they are really upset over the recent Supreme Court decision that says that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. They want to get away from a place where their liberty is infringed upon by government run health care like Medicare and, well, you know, like you have. You are so kind, generous and hospitable, you'll take them in. I'm sorry that you'll need to take care of people who don't seem to be able to think clearly and who shout a heck of a lot.

We're not all like that. Really, we're not. Maybe they will change their minds.

So meanwhile, have a great day. Go to one of your beautiful lakes, have a cookout with your friends and family and celebrate your beautiful country. Thanks for all the maple syrup and the musicians. You're the best.

Love from,

Know Canada

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

And Now It's Summer

Lovely blue skies, lots of green trees, plenty of sunshine.....summer is here. Today it's predicted that our high temperature in the region will be about 108 (F) or so. It probably won't be that high up here in the mountains, but it's around 87 inside my home this afternoon. I have open windows with shades down and 3 ceiling fans going. It's not too bad, but for sure it is warm inside.

I'm miserable. I hate hot weather. Summer is my least favorite season. My only comfort is knowing that we have passed the solstice, so that means the days are gradually growing shorter, and we are heading towards autumn. And still it is chilling off at night. I hope that will continue because it means that mornings inside my place are still ok, and I can sleep easily.

This hot spell is happening a bit earlier than I think is right. I think it should not get over 100 until about mid-July or so. Global climate change in action? (So far we have had only small-ish forest fires in the region, but the fire danger is high, and that could change at any minute. As I write Colorado is where most of the action is right now, but there are fires all around the region, including Utah.) The experts are pretty well agreed that the region is in another year of drought.

I'm coping by getting up  and going out for my trail walk earlier & earlier every day. I wear skirts and sleeveless shirts a lot. I drink a lot of water. I take baths in cool water, more than once a day if needed. I don't cook. I've ordered a tabletop fan from Target.

The good news is that I'm eating a lot of salads and fresh fruit because I can't stand the idea of cooking. I am  happy that nowadays I can buy those small round watermelons. Those plus frozen grapes are my favorite foods right now.

Smokey Rose is coping by spending a lot of time stretched out on the wood floor in dark places. She doesn't like petting and snuggling very much at the moment.

People ask me, what do I do up here all summer? Well, I keep with with my work over the computer. This summer I'm co-teaching a new class for me in human growth and development which is proving to be interesting and kind of fun even. I'm working on our writing project. Work involves a lot of sitting. I do it every afternoon and into the evening as needed.

I do go out for a morning walk. In the afternoons, when I make myself get up and move around, I've taken to doing housecleaning. I have to do everything by hand here, and sweeping is a satisfying activity. Yesterday I really did a good job in the bedroom...moved the whole bed and everything and was appalled, of course, at what I found under there. Today was bathroom day.

Other than that, I have very little energy.

I have however read three mystery novels and several other books on my trusty iPad.

I have knit several small far 2 1/2 pair of socks, one scarf, one little shawl with a second scarf in progress and another little shawl to be started as soon as these rainbow socks are finished. Everything is small, easy and fast.

I practice drumming using our practice videos. I have learned one song pretty well so far and am about to start on another.

And then there are always naps on my nice comfy bed!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Mickelson Trail

The George Mickelson Rail Trail has several trail head quite close to where I live. I have walked and biked on different sections of the trail in the past, but I had this thing in my mind that I should not have to drive the car in order to go for a walk. So for years I contented myself with taking walks in town, which is no small feat because of how hilly this town is.
I had a challenge when I first got my place ... to walk every street in the town. I accomplished that a couple of years ago. It was fun to discover all the little neighborhoods and to see the interesting buildings and other stuff like cemeteries. But this summer I knew I wanted to walk the trail. I got over my idea that driving in order to go walking is a bad thing. I mean, I could walk to the various trail heads, and if I were training for a marathon or something, that would probably be a good idea. But I'm not (marathon training, that is). So I drive ... saves tons of time.

I started doing my walks in the evenings, but that interfered with how I wanted to eat supper, plus around here nearly every evening there is either a real or threatened thunder & lightning storm. It's that time of year. So I switched to mornings instead.

I drive to different trail heads on different days. So far I have not yet made it from a given trail head to the next one and back again, but that's my overall goal for the summer.... to do that for at least one trail head,  maybe a couple. I think I can manage that.

I always begin by walking uphill, which means I will not begin at certain trail heads, like the one in Lead town. I just walk uphill until I decide to stop and then turn around and go back downhill. The grade is pretty easy, but uphill is still uphill. So much easier to do that part first.

Some nice people have sponsored benches along the trail here and there. My routine is that when I find a bench, I stop and do a bit of standing up yoga which always makes me feel good. You can see my fine new Norwegian walking poles. Love those fellow Scandinavians. They make such good things. I do apologize for the disposable plastic water bottle. Someone gave it to me, and I see no reason to waste it now that I have it. But once these bottles are used up, I'll go back to refilling a bottle.

I don't have a picture, but when I see a picnic table, I stop and do some strength and flexibility stuff with the poles, like doing air kayaking, or holding the poles up over my head. And when I find a bridge, I speed walk across it. There are a fair amount of bridges up here because the trails generally follow streams or creeks.

I have never taken to exercising in gyms. I much prefer to do real kinds of things like walking. I think I might could get addicted to this.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Smokey Rose settles into our Black Hills Home

Smokey Rose turned out to be good little traveler. She was pretty upset right away on the first day in the car, and she had a little accident early on (bless her heart, she made an effort to deposit the stuff into the plastic water cup instead on onto the blanket, and she was mostly successful). I cleaned things up, and then we were all right the rest of the day.

She was fine in the hotel. She did her usual exploring around all the drawers and cupboards.
And eventually she settled down on the nice comfy bed for the duration.
The second day of driving, she was just fine, but glad to be released out of the box into her new place. I always bring in the kitty first and then go back and forth unloading the rest of the car. While I was getting the other stuff I heard this crash that didn't register with me at first. But I found the evidence..she had gotten into a kitchen cupboard right away and managed to break a small piece of depression glass that was there. My other cats all ignored the cupboards, so they were not "cat proof." Now she can still get inside the cupboards, but I have re-arranged things so that breakage is less likely. Every morning I wake up to find things like this:
But so far no more broken things.

Smokey Rose likes this place just fine. She should. There are nice cat beds all around the place.

She can sit safely in open windows and keep an eye on what's going on outside.

She appropriated the bag that I use to carry my laptop in for herself.
There is a nice big arm chair.
And high places she can explore.
And a bench that is often sunny.
She really loves to hide deep in the clothes closet, but I can't get a picture of that. At night she chases balls and stuffed mice around on the shiny wooden floor which makes things move fast.

And, of course, most of all she likes the bed, same as Lily and Poppy used to do.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Red Butte Garden - end of May 2012

I have left Salt Lake City in order to spend the summer in the Black Hills, but before I left, I put in a lot of hours doing gardening at Red Butte. I will miss going there, but I'll be able to return in August. Meanwhile here are some pictures of how things looked during the last couple of weeks in May.

Daffodils were gone. We had spent a lot of time deadheading the spent flowers, and when I left, we were beginning to cut back the foliage which was starting to look crummy. Instead of daffodils we had irises.

White irises.

The always classic purple ones.

All yellow ones.

Bi-color yellow ones.

Orange ones.

Bronze-red ones

And my very favorite pink ones.

The fragrance garden was looking filled in and lovely.

But I know it will look quite different when I return, because we did a lot of planting in here, and I know that much of what you see is destined to be torn up pretty soon (most of what you see here that's yellow may already be gone, for example.)

We also got the herb garden all planted, but it still had some growing up to do to fill in the spaces.

Roses were beginning to show up.

These are in the amphitheater where the concerts are held. Concerts began last weekend.

I was surprised to find this beauty.

But these are just the best because they are an old fashioned variety that still has the most beautiful fragrance. It's named 'Souvenir de Philemon Crochet'. When it emerges, it has a pink blush to it that eventually fades so the bloom ends up being all white.

I can't have too many photos of it. I hope it will remain in bloom a long time. My friend Layne will see that all the roses get deadheaded while I'm gone so that they will continue to bloom all summer.

But I have to say that my latest favorites that were doing well just as I was leaving were the columbines.
There were lots of lovely yellow ones.

And finally the classic blue ones, that state flower of of my favorite places to have lived in.

That's it for now. Next time around I imagine you will see lots of rose photos. Don't forget to go visit the garden this summer and see what I will miss in June and July.