Just a quick note to say I’m finally back at the ranch. I wrote this yesterday, but there’s pretty much no internet at the ranch, so it’s late! Here’s a face of a boy who’s glad to see me.
All the dogs were happy to see me, but Alfred and Carlton were beside themselves. Penney didn’t pay me any heed until I finally sat down in my chair. Harvey just threw himself at me a couple of times but was more interested in something dead in the yard. Oh well.
I’m pretty tired, from a long work day and dealing with the sadness around things being canceled for the rest of the month for Master Naturalists. I hate having to enforce rules, but I also don’t want people getting sick. Sigh.
But Kathleen and I got some decorations up at the office, even though it’s still closed. It’s important to look cheerful, anyway!
I’m tired. I’d hit all my exercise goals by 3 pm, so you know I’ve been physically active. It’s all good, though. Some of that time I even spent walking with my son. Finally. We got to walk and chat outside. It takes a lot of coordination to get to see each other, but it’s just so nice to hear stories of his work, his friends, and normal stuff like that. It was a pretty day, too. Cloudless!
I spent much of today outside, which was much better than the hours I spent yesterday in a chilly drizzle. My decoration and home improvements have been quite 2020. Allow me to explain.
I worked so hard that I bruised my hands, but I got stuff done I’d been putting off, boring things like changing the air conditioning filter that’s practically inaccessible in the attic, and replacing all the burned out porch light bulbs.
Unfortunately, the teeny nut that holds one fixture together fell out of my hand and landed somewhere under the deck. Anita and I searched for it, but no luck. I tried many things to save it, but failed big time. Duct tape only lasted a few minutes.
Finally, today it occurred to me I had wire. It worked and hardly shows. 2020 ingenuity!
The main project I worked on yesterday was outdoor lights. Our next-door neighbor, Ruth, gave us 3 boxes of icicle lights. We had another one just like it, hanging around in the Big Box of Lights. So, I set about lining a long stretch of our deck with them. I used pushpins to hold them up (one way I got bruised). I finally finished, in a dripping rain, only to realize I’d put the female end on the far side, rather than close to the extension cord. Face palm. After going inside and sulking, I figured out a way to rearrange the cords to make them plug in. A 2020 Holiday Miracle.
I also set up some lights in a different spot from usual, down by the basement, where people driving by could see them. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of that before. It was a start on a winter wonderland to match my indoor stuff.
I managed to get up lights around the front door, with Anita’s help, and think it looks cheerful.
At some point, I had to drag myself inside and warm up. This morning, I was back at it, driven to use every single light we have. I’m not sure why I felt so strongly about it, but I think there were two reasons. One, it cheers me up to decorate. I’m not as good, nor do I have as many nice things as a lot of people who decorate do, but I have fun and it looks like “me” when it’s over with.
The other thing is I know how I get cheered up when I see cheerful lights on houses, and I just want to give back. No one’s going to be able to enjoy our inside lights but me and Anita, so I’m sharing 2020 Christmas Hope with others by my decorations.
The first thing I did was complete the winter wonderland. I added our snowflake lights that we’ve had a few years down at ground level. I hope they look pretty. And then I also brought down our sleigh with a tree in it, which usually sits on the deck. I had no way to light it, thanks to my icicle-light-stringing faux pas, so it didn’t hurt to give it a new spot.
I put some decorations on the rocking chair area on the porch, so it didn’t look neglected, and put some stuff in my sad Texas mountain laurel at the entrance to the deck, too.
Then I went into some kind of overdrive. Honestly, I had decided to tone down my lighting this year, you know, because it’s a somber time.
But nope, I kept thinking of Anita walking Pickle, making her tea, or whatever. She needs cheer, as hard as she works every day. So every light that was left got strung in a tree branch.
It’s not a thing of true beauty, but no matter what window you look out, you’ll see lights this year. Woo!
Plus, it’s a family tradition to just sorta throw lights on trees and call it done. Declan remembered us doing it at our Braesgate house for many years. Back then we used brooms to get higher in the trees. No professional light-stringing service for us! And it showed. But, it was cheerful.
What’s left now is decorating our villa-sized tree. It may be the tree’s last year, since it no longer will sit up straight in its pot. Anita tied it up with string, and at least from the front it looks all right. From the side, though, it’s a 2020 Christmas tree.
I feel better having done this. And a neighbor texted that it looks good. My 2020 Christmas is just fine.
Do whatever works for YOU to get through the season. I will support you! Now this is a real Blogmas post!
There’s no way to top yesterday’s post. Thanks to all who went down memory lane with me and re-lived our wedding. I’m still wallowing in memories. While I was looking for all our wedding photos, I stumbled across other albums, including my ill-fated first wedding, which was right after I left grad school. I was living in Chambanaland, also known as Champaign-Urbana, Illinois (I lived there 20 years!).
It was fun seeing all my friends from the University of Illinois, including the child who ran across the room during the “processional” (just one friend) and sat in the fireplace through the ceremony. Oddly enough, though, that wasn’t what I enjoyed the most. It was seeing my family in 1987 having fun in my apartment of 1987.
They are dang cute, that’s for sure. But then I started looking at the stuff around them. That afghan in the corner I made in the late 70s, while I was pining away for my high school boyfriend because my parents had “cruelly” forced me to go visit my grandmother and leave him. My sweet grandmother had taken me to the five-and-dime store and bought me the kit to give me something to do. That thing’s still in my linen closet.
My brother is sitting on a brown folding chair (I was VERY fond of brown and orange at that time). I got that with Green Stamps. Are you old enough to remember them (I think they were a US thing). Those were my dining chairs for a long, long time. I still have one. Just one. The table had been left in an apartment my friend Judy rented in 1981. I took it, because at the time I had no table.
Behind him I see a chianti bottle with a plant in it. Some things never change, and wine glasses my sister gave me when she briefly swore off drinking. I also still have those. I see a trend.
It appears that there was a pre-wedding ham dinner event. Ah, there’s one thing I got rid of, the brown dishes. Of course, that baking dish is still around. I no longer have the world’s largest microwave, nor the cute little red timer next to my brother’s arm. I like how I hung all my coffee mugs above the sink (sadly, some of THEM are still around, too…even though I have tried to give lots away).
It was an amazing apartment, I must say. There were cool open shelves separating the kitchen from the living area, and a nice space to hang out, except we NEVER got a cat pee smell out of one corner (that is where we put my comfy chair, which I admit now came from beside a dumpster). The other big negative was the way sound carried. We certainly knew what the people upstairs were up to, whether it was a lot of love or a fight involving furniture throwing, to which the ex helpfully tried to end by banging on the ceiling with a broom handle.
Now, from this picture that includes my very patient dad, my sister, and the lovely Callie Avera, my first mother-in-law (actually, there were two, since each of the ex’s parents had remarried, and the other one, Grace, was also a great woman), it looks like I lived in a pretty nice building. HA.
This photo brought back a flood of memories of what we always referred to as the two-story trailer home. It was amazingly cheaply made, and literally looked like stacked mobile homes. And it glowed a faded baby blue. But, there was a nice front porch for drinking and smoking (mostly we drank coffee with the nice neighbors), and often hot-air balloons would take off and land in the field across the street. You can’t beat that, PLUS it was on the city bus line, so I could go to work and not have to try to park on campus, when I worked there.
We later moved to a larger apartment, a very odd place featuring a wall of marbleized glass tiles that I covered with sheets. It came with a sweet landlord named Mr. Chang. He never did figure out that the ex had moved out after he returned from a summer in Germany where he decided he only wanted to be married if he lived in the US, because he was a different person in Europe. I quickly caused him to not be married in the US, too. That’s okay, because my divorce lawyer turned out to be Roberta Bishop Johnson, who got me into La Leche League and set my future career course. Mr. Chang also never realized when my next husband moved in, since the two were similar in height and coloring. I guess all white people looked alike to him, though one had a Cajun accent and one had an Irish accent.
Wait, am I writing my memoirs now? I’ll stop. But, I now want to go plow through old photos of places where I lived, so I can remember the furniture, the decorative objects, and the cast of characters that I think I’ve tried to eliminate from my memory. It all comes back when I look at old photos!
Twelve years ago today was a day much like today, although a little warmer. It was cloudy and a bit gloomy. I was, as usual, a little bit stressed. But much of it was GOOD stress, because I was looking forward to the wedding of my (quirky) dreams to the quirky man of my dreams, Lee.
While the setting was great, what was most important was that I was surrounded by the people I loved the most in the world. My beloved father and my sister had both joined us, and my two sons were there, pitching in and helping. I had some of the best friends I could ask for participating in the wedding, ranging from my church family to my dear knitting friends. And when you threw in the people who came, including kids from the band bus, a high school friend, and Chris, who I met that day…wow, what happiness.
As long as Lee and I were publicly declaring our intentions to be a family for the rest of our lives, I didn’t care about the rest. I’m just so glad to have him at my side (figuratively right now) as we experience the joys and sorrows, fun times and challenges of the latter part of our lives. Better late than never!
Sitting here, separated by two counties and 80 miles away from my husband, and with yet ANOTHER exposure to deal with and keep me away, I’m getting a lot of comfort from remembering how our wedding came out so well.
We had two wonderful officiants, a long-time pagan UU friend (Linda) and one of the ministers at our church (Kathleen). We had beautiful vows that Linda helped us write.
My attendants each dressed in an appropriate color and carried a symbol for earth, air, fire, and water. They were good sports, especially the LDS and evangelical ones.
My sons escorted me down the aisle, wearing neckties with the tartan of their father’s ancestral land in Ireland.
My dad gave “approval” in the ceremony.
We had great music. My friend Jeff, who’d lived with us for a long time, played my favorite instrumental piece that he wrote as we walked around the labyrinth (shortened so it wouldn’t be interminable). And Bill, from my folk trio, sang “My Beautiful Mystery Companion,” by Jackson Browne. All the music was great.
As the ceremony went on I looked around and saw my entire community. I never felt so supported in my life. There were my neighbors, old friends, new friends, young people and elderly folks, all in a circle, surrounding us with love.
Even the decorations and the reception were done by friends. My dress was incredible, a “real” wedding dress, just red, that my friend Katy helped me order in San Marcos, where she’d gotten her dress. The flowers came from Costco, and we just arranged them in vases we already had (except the one BIG arrangement).
My friend Tina was there to help with decorating and all the logistics, while Elizabeth baked the beautiful cake with the topper that looked just like us.
The days before the wedding were hectic, but fun, as all these folks, plus my dad and sister, were helping set up.
We had a fun reception, where my friends played music and everyone got to eat barbecue from our favorite resturant (and were glad to be indoors, since it really cooled off once the sun went down).
I was glad to have my wedding shawl, which was made from wool I picked out and was spun by my friend Jody. I knitted it to be filled with beads, so it made great noises, and laid perfectly against the dress.
Memories like this help you get through hard times. Knowing that I’m still friends with nearly everyone who attended warms my heart. Following all these people over the past twelve years has brought so many changes. Birth, deaths, marriages, divorces, new names, new careers, moves to distant places, and so much more. Community. A varied and colorful community. And someone to enjoy it all with. That makes life great.
Thank you, Lee, for sticking with me as these darned quarantines keep getting expanded and expanded. Thanks for listening to me and making me think. Together, I hope we get to enjoy many more years. I’m glad we found each other, at last.
Thanks for taking this trip down memory lane for me. It sure made another quarantined Sunday happier for me.
It’s really weird to have not been at the ranch the entire month of November, especially since that’s usually a great month to be there (good weather, frisky pets, lots of time for walking). It didn’t help at all that I spent a good bit of time wandering around the area on Google Maps trying to figure out where those two people drowned. I think I got it located a bit further away from our property than I’d feared, but still adjacent. It makes me so sad.
I listened to a news report that said the victims had fallen out of their boat and got caught up in pond weeds. That’s exactly what I had feared. Even if you can swim, that stuff can get you. One guy had a young family and one was just 22, so young. They’re having a football game to raise money for their families. Traion Smith was just an amazing athlete in high school, and a nice young man. The news report showed the former Cameron coach breaking into tears at the thought of losing him. Life sure has its twists and turns.
Anyway, I ended up looking at what great quality the Google Maps images of our property are. I really liked how you could see each cow and all the cattle paths in the bottom pasture next to our house.
I was disappointed that I could not see Apache or Fiona, nor the chickens. I guess the photo was taken just before we got the chicken house. So, you’re spared those images.
While I do miss the ranch (and its occupants, including my poor lonely quarantined husband!), I’m enjoying some time in Austin. We got to take a walk with our neighbor, Ruth, who regaled us with tales of trying to buy groceries at the H-E-B (we went a bit later ’cause I had to fill my prescription, and it wasn’t so bad). She went to the Randall’s store full of “old people” and it wasn’t crowded. That store is always full of old people! And, if you don’t live in Texas, we realize H-E-B is a weird name, but since it’s named after Mr. Butts, you can understand the choice.
And since I’m in Austin, we can have my son’s little family unit to eat out on the deck, to minimize germs and all, like we keep being told to do. It will be very small, but good.
We will get through these challenging times. Sometimes it’s easier than other times, but I feel like all this practice of empathy, compassion, and forgiveness that’s come out of the pandemic, the election, and the personal issues of those around me will benefit me the rest of my life.
I hope you enjoy the photos of the flowers I got at the store and our sunset. I saw no sunsets in Utah, because the mountains were to the west. That’s okay, mountains are pretty, too. Share what’s keeping you happy and in the moment, if you want to!
It’s my last full day in Utah, and I don’t have to work. You’d think I’d be going around seeing the sights, shopping, eating, etc. The ski area finally opened, so all those nice shops I’ve only been able to look in the windows of are open (with their ski resort prices, no doubt). But nope, I’m not going out today.
I did take a walk yesterday, fairly late in the day. I just wanted to see what the place looked like when things were running. I got to see the ski lifts in action, with people actually riding on them.
There were actual skiers in their ski clothing. They sure look well protected with the boots, pants, jackets, hoods, goggles, and masks. Yep, I didn’t see one skier who wasn’t also wearing a mask.
The ski lift lines have markers for keeping people distant, and I’ve read they are limiting access to the mountains. That’s all good, I think. All the restaurants are limiting seating, but I predict the same thing that was happening downtown will happen here: people will line up for the restaurants in normal lines. That sort of defeats the social distancing purpose, right?
After thinking about it and talking to Lee, I agreed to stay at the condo today, since I have a feeling the first Saturday of ski season will be crowded. Good thing I have that knitting project (and a lot of packing to do).
So, it’s good to have seen the decorations, the activity, and the finished fire pit I watched getting built. But, I’ll be in my room.
The good news is that I’ve been reading more and more about how planes are pretty darned safe. My main worry is being in crowded airports. On my way here, they were pretty empty. But it’s Thanksgiving week. I hadn’t thought of that when booking my trip. Going home last week would have been a better idea from that perspective, but things in Cameron are a bit of a mess, so it’s perhaps better that I stayed here. Sorry, I’m thinking aloud in my blog. I guess it’s allowed.
I’m going to ask anyone who’s reading this to take care around your friends and family right now. You don’t know where people have been and who they’ve been around. I know for certain that not all COVID deaths have been reported as such, which makes me think things may well be worse than they really are. And with so many people convinced they have a right to NOT take precautions, it really seems like a good idea to be careful. Sorry to be preachy, but I care about MY family, and I assume you care about yours.
Today was the last day for my second batch of visitors, but we decided to go have lunch before they left. We went back to the restaurant in Park City where I met the nice server who saved my phone, because Kathleen wanted to get a t-shirt for their Polygamy Stout.
They didn’t have any shirts the right size, but we did try the beer, and it was good. All the food was delicious, though the visit was marred by some rich, drunk kids yelling. They kept shushing the loudest one, and I swear it would have just been more fun to listen to him go on and on.
I mentioned that I’m almost out of yarn and would probably need to Uber to the local Michael’s to get something else to knit on (yes, I am capable of knitting with inexpensive yarn, if I must). Kathleen said they’d take me before they left, so off we went. Wow, the regular shopping center outside of town was hardly recognizable for the tweeness of the signs and mountain-y style. Best Buy looked its best, that’s for sure.
I didn’t find exactly what I wanted, but did get two contrasting colors to make the scarf pattern I found, but larger, as a wrap. Chris was really impressed by giant skeins of self-striping bulky yarn, and I saw a nice slip-stitch afghan pattern on the label, so I said I’d make him one if he selected the yarn. That would be a fun gift, right? I still have a thing to finish at home, so I need to get back in the groove and find some way to protect knitting from the dogs.
As we were leaving, we realized that the Olympic Park from the 19th Winter Olympics was right across from the shopping center. So, since we happened to be there, we checked it out. The views were spectacular from the venue, and it was really fun to see where all the ski events took place.
We didn’t have time to see the museums or anything, but the outsides were pretty.
On our way back down, we passed lots of hiking trails just full of people, since the weather is well above freezing today. Then we saw dogs, lots of dogs. We just pulled over to the side of the road and watched at least a dozen very happy dogs on the leashless dog trail.
There was so much frolicking. They all seemed to get along well, and definitely loved the snow. They ran back and forth, play-bowed and leapt.
One black dog kept jumping into piles of snow and biting at the snow. That particular dog must have run a mile just while we were watching. It was pure joy. I kept picturing Carlton out there with them, except he’d be invisible.
What a great send-off for K. and C.! They decided to drive their rental car back, which meant I could give them some of the stuff I’ve bought, so I won’t have to try to pack it all. I feel like I may have dodged a bullet there. I will not be bringing home all the food they left for me, but I also will NOT need to buy any more restaurant food while I’m here. I’m all set for a week of working by day and relaxing in the evenings.
And now that I figured out how to get my watch to track elliptical workouts, I will be able to keep the exercise up, no matter how bad the weather gets. Today, though, I’m gonna get more walking in.
Not the drug kind of high, we enjoyed the elevation kind. This afternoon, we went to get more groceries, thanks to the Caso rental car. Being easily amused, Kathleen and I enjoyed looking at exotic Utah groceries, like peach and raspberry Coca-Cola. We tried the peach tonight, and it was actually pretty good.
After fueling up on a fancy coffee (and getting more mugs), we asked if we could take a little ride before the next snowstorm came. So, we took off to explore the Deer Valley area.
C. kept heading higher and higher up the roads. There were so many beautiful condos, giant houses, and spectacular views. Kathleen and I were like little kids looking at the scenery.
Eventually we got to the end of one of the long and winding roads. We got out to take pictures. We were WAY up there. The temperature had steadily gone down as we ascended. And a gale wind was blowing. We were so high up!
But it was so beautiful. The ski slopes up there look really scary. All the houses are ski in and ski out but with the lifts not working yet, I’m not sure how one would get back up.
We did see a lot of people getting ready to ski, but I think they were going down cross-country trails. I hope. Plus, we saw a cool inclined train thing (funicular?) going up to the St. Regis resort way on top. That would be a fun place to stay, if funds were available.
We thoroughly enjoyed the huge trees and vistas all the way to Mirror Lake (where we took pictures a few days ago). I even saw a buck in the woods, but no moose. My heart was full of beauty!
By the time we got back down, we realized we’d made a circle around Park City. We didn’t even try! The snow had started falling, so we headed back.
It’s beautiful out, but I think we wisely decided to cook in the other condo tonight. Theirs is also cozy! It will be a good night for a bath and more coziness back at my empty place. I’ll miss Anita, but I do have a couple more days for fun with the family.
Plus the snow will make it easy to avoid crowds. There’s plenty of mountain fun with all this space!
Anita and I were trying to decide what to do today when there was a knock at the door. I wondered if the housekeepers came back, but no, it was someone else. She was all bundled up, but then I realized it was Kathleen! They’d surprised me!
Much happiness ensued. Eventually we went on a ride in the car they rented. Whee! We went to Heber City and to Midway, both cute towns. Midway was extremely cute in an Alpine way. We had lunch and shopped at a very quaint shop.
Then we drove around and looked at mountains and valleys and much beauty.
There are lots of horses in this area of Utah. It was almost like being in Kentucky, only snowier. There were so many small ranches and pretty horses.
The drive was beautiful. We saw so many hills, valleys, rivers, dams, and lakes. Anita, Kathleen and I ran around and squealed a lot when we made our stops.
Just gotta say surprise visits are good, and we are so grateful to our family got joining us for a few days. Now, enjoy some pictures!
Yep. Not fond of them. First of all, most are definitely NOT sporty. They are more like harder to drive and less convenient mini-vans, to me. I have always had trouble getting in and out of them.
Most of all, I can’t park the behemoth ones. That’s why I’m so glad Lee just bought one size down from the true behemoth, a Tahoe. I even encouraged him. What the heck?
Well, his knees are aging, and it’s hard to watch him getting in and out of cars I like. Plus, we need to drive clients around, and this new behemoth lite is really spacious inside. I can get into the back and seat quite comfortably (being short helps).
Lee figures it’s his last new car (I would never say that, knowing my love of cars). I doubt I’ll drive it much, but it will tow a horse trailer, so that’s a motivation. His truck brought a trade-in better than most, and there are two others at the house. I think we will be okay.
So, while I said I’d never own one, I lied. Actually, Lee had a Range Rover for a while, but that was more of a luxury barge than an SUV.
I do feel excessive, acquisitive, and not real eco-friendly right now. Next I’ll get an electric truck or something.