Sunday, June 29, 2014


We're still hard at work on the yard.  Most of what we've done lately isn't very pretty or glamorous, but they are big jobs that will make way for some more landscaping and gardens.  Here's what's happening.

The third driveway has been poured and is set, so Dan can park his truck there now.  Makes it much easier for me to get in and out of the garage, and it finishes off the front yard.  I never thought I'd be so happy to see concrete.

It was really kind of cool to see that truck drive up with 'my' concrete -- all seven yards of it. 

 Craig, our contractor listened to the mud being stirred up inside the barrel, watched it come down the chute, and pronounced it 'good.'  I felt a little bit proud.

Jose and Steve went to work quickly and spread all the mud around, squishing it into place and smoothing the top.

I'm sure either one of them could easily get a job icing cakes in a bakery.

Looks good, don't you think?

The day before pouring the concrete, while they had the tractor here for preparing the area, they used it to remove some old fence posts in the backyard.  Our yard had a chain link fence that was up against our neighbors' privacy fences.  Kind of redundant to have two fences, and it was really hard to get at the weeds that grew in between.  So, Dan and I took all the chain link down, and the tractor made fast work of pulling out all the fence posts.  It popped those puppies out like they were toothpicks.

Later, the weeds were pulled up and the area smoothed over.  This is where Dan is going to build a shed/woodshop later on.

So that's what's been going on here.  Not very pretty, but it's exciting and it's progress!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Simple Woman's Daybook

Welcome to...
FOR TODAY. . .June 23, 2014
Outside my window . . .a cool, summer morning; a blue, cloudless sky.
I am thinking . . .how I love having Mondays off. 
I am thankful . . .For my husband's hard work and vision in making our house a home. 
In the kitchen . . .I made a strawberry-rhubarb pie this weekend, with rhubarb from our neighbor's garden.  Tonight, we'll grill chicken and have Chicken Taco Salad.
I am wearing . . .capris and a tank top, with a sweater.  It's just 54 degrees right now.
I am creating...a landscaping plan for the backyard. We're on Phase I.
I am going. . .to water aerobics this morning.  I have a coffee date with a friend later in the week, but that's about it, other than my regular work hours.
I am reading. . .The Typewriter Girl by Alison Atlee
I am looking forward to. . .the day ahead, to get my house in order and catch up on a few chores. A quiet week ahead.
Around the house. . .a pile of laundry, messy kitchen, a chaise lounge on the back patio, with a book nearby, that's calling my name.
A favorite quote for today. . .
"Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped."  (African Proverb)
One of my favorite things. . .the view outside the window by my desk.  Our front yard, the street we live on, the peek at the mountains between the houses across the street.
A few plans for the rest of the week. . .watching Luke and Dan play softball tomorrow night.  That's about it!
A peek into my day. . .sweet peas growing in the backyard

The Simple Woman's Daybook is hosted by Peggy.  Click on here for the link to join in.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Summers back then

My water aerobic class moved outdoors after Memorial Day weekend.  We meet at the city's water park, before it opens to the public three mornings a week.  It's the same place I used to take my kids when they were small.  It's not a very big place.  There are two pools, one goes from zero-depth to about 5' deep.  The other is a large tot pool.  Both have water slides and features that make it lots of fun for families.

From the time Joey was three years old, we spent many a summer day over there.  Hauling the stroller, the pool toys and the cooler with snacks and lunch.  Sometimes, we would do a supper picnic.  Dan would meet us after work, and he would bring Subway.  I have a great picture of him, holding Luke in the tot pool, both of them wet-headed and grinning at each other, with a waterfall in the background.  I have another picture of Emily, at the age of three, her round figure squished into a ruffled two-piece swimsuit, one hand on her hip, the other arm holding tight to a beach ball.

These are the memories that came flooding back the first morning I went to my class.  Everywhere I looked, I saw my sun-kissed, chestnut brown kids, splashing in the pool or wrapped in a towel perched on a pool chair holding a juice box or a handful of grapes, smelling of sunscreen and chlorine.

My arms feel so empty these days.  Summer is a time for kids.  For school breaks, trips to the library and to the park. Bike rides, Kool-Aid, and T-ball.  I miss those days.  I miss the early mornings on the porch when the kids were still sleeping, sipping coffee and reading a book, hoping for a few more minutes to myself.  The afternoons when we would get home from the pool, the house cool and inviting, kids sprawled out watching a movie, exhausted from a day in the sun.

Weekend camping trips with campfires, sticky marshmallows, bug collections, and playing baseball games with rocks for makeshift bases.  Hikes that seemed to go on forever, and the thrill of seeing the car again!

It's just not the same when summer rolls around, but routines remain the same.  We change it up by using our patio more, cooking on the grill, having our ritual of G&Ts on the back porch after Dan gets home from work. We talk about how nice it is for just the two of us to go to a ball game, and splurge on ballpark food, rather than stopping at Subway or packing our own snacks to take into the park. Yes, it's easier.  But better?  I don't know.  I do know that life must go on.  That nothing stays the same.  I just wish that for one day I could have it all back again.

Monday, June 16, 2014

On my mind

1.  The contractor guy is here to start work on some concrete we're having poured for extra driveway space.  He arrived bright and early with his crew.  I'm so happy to have this project underway.  For one thing, it will take care of the weeds and dirt that currently occupy that space.  For another, I can start making a plan for the dirt patch next to our back patio, the one I see in my mind's eye as a rose garden.  We've put that project on hold, until Craig -- our contractor guy -- is done with the driveway, because he's going to use the extra dirt he's digging out and put it in the backyard along the east fence to level out the yard.  My wanna-be rose garden is in the path that he'll be driving the tractor.  So, I don't  mind listening to the whine and roar of the tractor engine, because it tells me that progress is being made.

2.  My water aerobics class had a beach party on Friday. We did our regular workout amidst beach balls flying back and forth, and water gun fights.  Then, when the class was done, the lifeguard turned on the slides and we got to play until the pool opened to the public and the kids took over.  Great fun!

3.  I finished another book over the weekend.  If you're looking for a funny, light, hysterically funny, creative, hilariously funny summer read, Home to Woefield by Susan Juby, is what I would recommend.  (You can click on my sidebar for the Goodreads link).  Warning: it has some very colorful language.

4.  Our Father's Day was nice and quiet.  Joe and his friend, Sam, came over, and Luke grilled steaks.  I made twice baked potatoes (Dan's favorite) and some sides.  The weather was beautiful for sitting outside.  I talked to my dad on the phone. (Insert smile here).  I love my dad. 

5.  I started this post this morning, and then my computer wouldn't hook up to the internet all day.  I unplugged the green wire, but that didn't fix it. So, I threw caution to the wind and unplugged the black wire. But, that didn't fix it either.  Long story short, I waited until Dan got home, and "we" worked on it and finally got it up and running.  However, I have no idea what we did. It reminds me of Algebra class, when I would get the right answer, but had no idea why. Makes my stomach feel kind of queasy.  Because the next time it happens, I still won't know what to do.  Sigh.

Over and out.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Favorites in Photos

On Monday, I decided to keep my eyes open for special moments to photograph for my favorites this week.  It was hard to choose just five, but here they are.  Linking up with Susanne and the rest of the crew for Friday's Fave Five.

1) Back roads. . .on the drive home while running an errand, I took the back road and was treated to a beautiful view of the Flatirons outside of Boulder.

2)  More back roads, a day later.  I love seeing hayfields in the early summer.  There's something satisfying about seeing all that hay, cut and neatly rolled, resting on the meadow.  I can only imagine the satisfaction the farmer must be feeling, after a job like that!

3)  Our neighbor's tree is in full bloom. I have no idea what kind of tree this is -- does anyone recognize it?  I'll have to ask her the next time we chat over the backyard fence.  It seems so tropical and out of place for our region.

4) Fresh basil. Fresh bread. Fabulous bruschetta.  Need I say more?

5)  This made me smile.  This young mom was intent on getting a passel of kids across the street at a nearby park.  My first thought was, "Can't find the stroller.  Oh, heck . . .this'll work."

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A book review

A Life Apart by L. Y. Marlow

About the book (from the publisher): Morris Sullivan joins the navy in 1940 with a love of ships and high hopes. Though he leaves behind his new wife, Agnes, and their baby daughter, he is thrilled to be pursuing his lifelong dream—but things change when he is shipped off to Pearl Harbor when the war begins. When he narrowly survives the 1941 attack thanks to the courage of a black sailor he doesn't know, Morris is determined to seek out the man's family and express his gratitude and respect. On leave, he tracks down the man's sister in his own hometown of Boston—and finds an immediate and undeniable connection with the nurturing yet fiercely independent Beatrice, who has left the stifling South of her upbringing for the more liberal, integrated north.

Though both try to deny their growing bond, their connection and understanding is everything missing from Morris's hasty marriage to his high school sweetheart and from Beatrice's plodding life as she grieves the brother she has lost. At once a family epic and a historical drama that brings the streets and neighborhoods of Boston vividly to life from World War II through the civil rights era to the present day,
A Life Apart takes readers along for the emotional journey as Morris and Beatrice's relationship is tested by time, family loyalties, unending guilt, racial tensions, death, and the profound effects of war.

My review:  There are so many things I loved about this book. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. The author does a stellar job of bringing each era to life, as the story travels through 50 years of American history. The narrative changes focus every few chapters to cover several of the main characters' viewpoints, but it is still easy to follow. The story's twists and turns had me hooked from the beginning. On a critical note, I did find that the dialogue became a bit tedious and repetitive at times, making it difficult for me to connect with the characters. There were a couple of places where continuity of the story was an issue for me. However, overall, I really enjoyed this book.  It stuck with me for several days after I finished it -- always an indicator of a good story -- and I recommend it. 

If you'd like to read the first chapter, the link is here.

Also, I need to add that I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, June 6, 2014

A look back . . .

. . . at a great week.  Linking up with Susanne this Friday for a little gratitude check.

1.  Our water aerobics class has moved outside for the summer. It's a wonderful way to start the day. Even better, the water was warmer than any of us expected, so we were like kids wanting to play.  I love this group of ladies, and the few guys, that I meet up with three mornings a week.  We work out to music from 'our time' -- 70s and 80s -- and have a ball.

2.  I'm so grateful for my amazing podiatrist.  He's been working with me for the past three months to heal an annoying case of plantar fasciitis.  He's a real miracle worker.

3.  Tomorrow morning I'm going to a baby shower.  The dad-to-be is a young man I've known most of his life -- his mom and I are good friends.  Such a happy occasion.

4. Have I mentioned what great neighbors we have?  They are just the kindest, friendliest people. We are loving our new home.

5.  It's the season for thunderstorms.  Thankfully (fingers crossed), we've been spared the hailstorms that have done some pretty heavy damage in our area.  The clouds that build are magnificent.  I'll leave you with this photo, taken in our backyard

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, June 2, 2014


I'm thinking a lot about numbers today.  45. 55. 50. 30.  Thirty.  Thirty years and counting, that's how long Dan and I have been married.  It was June 2, 1984, a gorgeous, sunny, Colorado day, much like today.  The ceremony was at noon, at the Catholic church I attended most of my life. 

The officiant was Fr. Murphy, a short Irish priest with a round, ruddy face and ready smile.  When I think of him, my mind immediately goes to the time Dan and I were in his office at the rectory for one of our pre-Cana meetings.  We were discussing the kind of ceremony we wanted. 

"Now, there's the long version (with a mass)," said Father, "or we can do the short version."

Since my husband-to-be and half of our guests were non-Catholic, I'd already decided to spare them the longer version.  But, before I could say anything, Dan piped up and said, "Well, Father, the way I see it, it's like a girl in a bikini.  You want enough to cover the subject, but brief enough to keep it interesting."

Father's already red face turned brighter red and he burst out laughing.

To celebrate our anniversary this year, Dan and I spent a weekend in the mountains and stayed at a B&B.  After the events of the past few months of moving and settling in and putting in a yard, it was pure heaven to just relax and stroll the streets of the small mountain town, stopping for lunch at one of the rustic taverns.  Sitting on the patio, enjoying the mountain views.  We took a long drive one day, and it reminded me of when we were first dating and would go on jeep trips through the high country of Colorado.  I used to love just sitting beside him in the front seat of his CJ7, sometimes chatting about this that or the other, sometimes in companionable silence, confident that he would handle the steep hills, craggy rocks and narrow roads with ease. 

Back at the B&B the first night, we were delighted that our room offered a sleep number bed! We've been grousing about our lumpy mattress at home for years, threatening to replace it, moving it to the top of the priority list when one of us wakes up with a stiff back, only to move it back down the list when the aches go away. 

The first night we stretched on our respective sides of the bed, Dan with the controller, starting us both at 30, then adjusting up, then down, in search of our respective Numbers.  After 15 minutes of this, I was reluctant to say anything, but I didn't notice a whole lot of difference.  That was when we realized we had the sides mixed up with the controller.  We started again.  I still couldn't tell much difference.  Finally, I just said, "That feels great!"

"My side, too," he said. 

Me: "What Numbers are we?"

Him:  "We're both 50."

A silent moment of disappointment.  This, from a couple who hates it when we both order the exact same thing at a restaurant.  We pride ourselves on our individuality.

Him:  "Well, what the hell's the point of controlling our own sides, if we end up with the same number? [the bed starts pumping and wheezing again]  I'm going to be 55.  You're 45."

And we left it at that.