Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hump Day

Lilly and I have had the house to ourselves since Sunday morning when Dan left for a rafting trip with friends.  That first day he was gone, we were very industrious.  We cleaned the house up a bit, got caught up on the laundry, and planted the last of the shrubs that I purchased at the tree farm last week. Since then, other than working and taking care of Brooklynn yesterday, I've spent my free time reading and catching up on recorded shows on TV.

The first night, I watched Elizabeth with Cate Blanchett.  I've never been a huge fan of British history.  It can be rather gruesome with guillotines and such.  And I have a hard time keeping all the names straight.  But, I enjoyed the movie about the early reign of Queen Elizabeth I, especially Blanchett's stellar performance as the young queen who, at the age of 25 basically learns on the job how to rule her country, fights off assassination attempts and stays true to her faith by declaring the country Protestant.

The next night, I jumped from 16th century England to the 19th century and finished watching a series that I had recorded months ago, the Smithsonian's Million Dollar American Princesses.  These were the women who were the inspiration for Lady Grantham on Downton Abbey, the American heiresses who marry into Britain's money-strapped aristocracy to gain themselves a title and a place in high society.  One of the shows prompted me to go to the library yesterday and check out the memoir of Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, who married a British duke (her mother's choice, not hers).

Last night, Lilly and I had supper on the back deck, tucked under the eaves while watching it rain. The thunder and lightening were quite a show.  With all the rain, we didn't have to run the sprinkler (a job that Dan usually takes care of; I'm so appreciative of that after doing it for the past few nights and can't wait to have a system installed in the next few weeks), so we spent the rest of the evening indoors catching up on the remaining few episodes of the American Princesses series.

Dan is due home tomorrow afternoon.  It has felt strange the past couple of day not to be able to contact him at all.  He is out on the Green River in Utah -- somewhere -- and as strange as it feels, I'm happy for him that he has truly had this chance to get away from everything.  Likewise, I've enjoyed the solitude of the past couple days.

On a different note, I've been fascinated by the changing colors in these roses over the past week.  They started out a deep pink, and the sun has gradually faded the color to pale pink and almost white tips.  This is the view from my desk as I look out the front window.

Today, I'm going to mow the front yard, then go into work for a few hours.  Happy Wednesday, everyone!


Friday, June 24, 2016

Looking back at the week

Summer came in full throttle this week, with our temperatures in the high 90s. It's been a week mixed with productivity and also time for relaxation. Both are blessings.

1. I met up with a friend for coffee one morning. We try to get together a couple of times a year and catch up on one another's lives. I always come away with good ideas for books to read, and this time was no exception.

2. My friend and walking partner has a new grandson! He had a rough entry into the world and had lots of people praying for him. He is doing beautifully now!

3. Work continues in the backyard. I hired a couple of teens to move some dirt that has accumulated from all of our projects. They completed the job efficiently and were the nicest, most professional young people. We were so happy to have the job done.

4. Dan is completing another project in our backyard, a lattice screen at the edge of the patio that will add a bit of privacy to our yard and will provide a place for climbing roses to grow. It's nice to see how it is all coming together.

5. Yesterday, was a busy day all around. I spent the morning getting caught up on house chores, then had a busy day at work when my computer lost its WIFI connection. Normally, I wouldn't bother my son with work issues, but I was so beyond frustrated, that I called him and he walked me through the whole thing and we got it up and running! And then, on the way home, Dan texted me to say that he was bringing home dinner! Love those two guys:)

How was your week?  Link up with Suzanne and the rest of the Friday Fave Five crowd and share if you'd like.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Monday ramblings

The calendar caught up with me today in it's announcement that summer is here. I've been playing at it for a couple of weeks now, with our hot weather and beautiful, clear, sunny Colorado days. I get so excited for summer and I just want to do it all right away. The gardening, cooking summer recipes, getting lost in a really good book.

I've always liked the idea of gardening, but since buying this house a little over two years ago, I feel as though it's the first time I'm experiencing what a thrill it is to tend plants and watch them thrive. My garden season used to be from mid-May to mid-June, when baseball and softball and summer activities for a family of five took over. I could only multi-task so much.

It's nice to have the time to devote to it now.  There is something extremely motivating about a blank canvas, especially after having homes where we had to renovate a lot of old landscaping.

There is still soooo  much work to do in the backyard, and I'm showing closeups, because it's what I'm trying to focus on when I look out there -- how much we've accomplished, and not how much there is still left to do.

In the meantime, on the reading front, I finished The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro, which I really liked.  I've started a new book, The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore, and am enjoying it very much, so far.  Our library has an adult summer reading program with prizes and everything! It makes me feel like I'm eight years old again:)

Ah, Summer, I'm so glad you're here!


Friday, June 17, 2016

Favorites in the backyard

This week has been mostly about working in the yard and the gardens. That is with the exception of the two days that Dan and I were knocked flat from some awful, vile bug that hit us out of nowhere. If there's a good thing about being that sick, it's the relief of feeling ALL better when it's over, and life is just so beautiful again!

So, bugs aside, we have been mulching and putting up borders, and adding another garden bed or two in the backyard. Dan is working on a privacy fence on the edge of the patio, and we have plans for a pergola if it ever comes in at the local home improvement store. And in the next few weeks, we are getting a sprinkler system installed in the backyard. We've also hired a crew (Emily and Marcus!) to do some of the work for us. Included in their fee is babysitting and a meal or two, but we're good with that.

My enthusiasm for all these projects is spurred on by the results of last year's efforts and seeing perennials coming back bigger and stronger.  My blessings this week all involve the garden.

1. Lilly watching the peppers grow.  This is one of the areas that we mulched, with free mulch from the city.  The city sponsors a drop-off site for Christmas trees and tree limbs, then turns it into mulch that they give away for free.  It's been a blessing to us, as we have so many areas in our yard that can use it.

2.  This shrub rose, called yellow submarine, was planted last summer and has grown leaps and bounds.

3.  I'm so happy with how the lupine came back and is really starting to spread.

4.  On our trip to Cather country last summer, I snitched a couple of dying marigolds for the seeds.  I spread them out through different areas in the gardens and also planted a few in Abby's dish. The little fairy silhouette is something Dan's mom gave me years ago.  She had more faith in my gardening attempts than I did, as none of my houseplants ever survived.  I have better luck growing things outdoors.

5.  This little treasure hangs by the door on our back porch.  Dan's dad made it when he was probably about 8 or 9 years old.  (On the door, it reads, "Please Leave A Note.")  It just blesses me whenever I look at it and think of Paul.

That's my week.  How was yours?  Link up with Susanne and the Friday Fave Five crew, and share!


Some thoughts

The events of the past week have left me with such moments of despair as I'm sure most of you feel, too. Not just one tragic event, but several in the city of Orlando. The world can seem so bleak when events like these occur, and if one isn't enough, they just keep happening. I am a fan of The Voice, and while I usually can't remember the names of the contestants a week after the season ends, I remember so clearly the beautiful voice and face of Christina Grimmie. And what parent, grandparent isn't heart-broken for the family who lost their little boy in such a horrific accident, at a place that should be nothing but happiness and joy? Like so many, I'm left to wonder, what can I do?

I have my opinions, as most people do, what should be done, as far as those incidents that involve violence from one human being to another.    But, I am desperate to find something that I can do, right here, right now, to help this world and make it the kind of place I want my grandchildren to grow up in.

I know that some big changes have to occur and laws have to be changed to address these things. And I will support the legislators who work towards those means, and the ones that don't - in my district at least - certainly hear from me.

"The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts."
                                                          (George Eliot in Middlemarch)

But, there is power in small things.  Mother Teresa says that if you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one.  So, I tell myself that if I can't fix the big stuff, then work on something small.  Shine some light in one, small, dark corner.  It might be a small kindness or a warm word to someone who comes in at work.  Maybe it's something as small as holding the baby so that my daughter can enjoy a meal without balancing a little one on her lap.  That seems like such a small thing, but to her I'm sure it renews her spirit just a bit, allowing her to take that baby back in her arms again with gladness.

There was a story in the news yesterday about the grandmother of one of the Orlando victims who was flying to Florida.  When the flight attendants realized who she was, one of them had the idea to ask the other passengers in the cabin if they would like to sign a note of condolences to the woman, and give it to her at the end of the flight.  By the end of the flight, they had not just one page, but pages and pages of notes -- just simple scraps of paper, carrying messages to assure this woman that her grandson was loved and missed and people were sharing in her sorrow. Every passenger insisted on waiting to express their sympathy or just touch her hand, before leaving the plane.  

When horrible things happen, it is humble acts such as these that poke up from the earth like fresh green sprouts of hope.  They are reminders that even the least among us can continue to grow the goodness that most of us want in this world. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Flowers, babies, a Springer and a garage sale

It's Friday and time to look back over the past week for the blessings in my world.  So often the things I'm most grateful for are the ordinary moments.  It's the beauty that I find there that make me feel that I have a most extraordinary life. 

1.  Summer is here to stay, marked by 90 plus degree heat, the first G&T's of the season, and lots of time working in the gardens.  I planted three new rosebushes a few weeks ago.  This one is a floribunda called Anna's Promise, named after a character on Downton Abbey.  It has a sweet fragrance and the color is a bit deeper than this photo shows.  

2.  Mornings with Lilly.  I've never been much of a morning person, but that has changed in the past couple of years.  Perhaps it's because I now have the luxury of enjoying the first couple of hours in solitude, before the day gets started.  Well, almost in solitude. Lilly is my morning companion.  "We" read devotions together, water plants, (I) enjoy coffee, and slowly slip into the day.

3.  Good company. Emily and Marcus worked late one evening, so we had these two cuties to keep us company.  It was a nice evening for a stroll, followed by sitting on the back deck.  

4. Good neighbors. One of our neighbors thinned his iris beds this week and offered up the extras to anyone who wants them.  He has some beautiful colors, and I am thrilled to have some more perennials to put in my garden.

5. Neat finds at garage sales. It's in my blood, like the thrill of the hunt.  I love a good garage sale.  Today I found the following items and paid a total of a whopping $2 for everything.  The three mugs match one that I already have, so now I have a set! The canvas backpack is a perfect size and I'm going to offer it to my daughter first. She may like that it's small and easy to carry when she's toting kids and diaper bag. And the book is by the daughter of Anne Lindbergh.  She has written some lovely children's books and this one will go in my library, to be shared with my grandkids one day.

How was your week? Join us for Friday's Fave Five and share your highlights.

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Daybook

For Today. . . Monday, June 6, 2016

Looking out my window . . . a beautiful summer day.  The roses in the front yard are blooming and there's a robin on the front lawn poking about for breakfast. That and a slight breeze ruffling the leaves on the trees, are the only movement in our quiet neighborhood this morning.

 I am thinking . . . about the weekend. I planted the garden on the south side of our house with peonies, poppies and a clematis.  I also added a blackberry bush from Joe (he decided he didn't want it in his yard) and I stuck in a tomato plant that my neighbor started from seed.  My gardens are very eclectic;)  Everything is welcome.

I am thankful . . . for time spent with my friend Mary on Sunday morning. We went to mass, followed by breakfast and a bit of shopping which was very spur of the moment.

 One of my favorite things . . . I found a new summer bag.  I'm always finding new bags.

 I am creating . . . a plan for a pergola on the back deck.

 I am reading . . . Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. It's a light, beachy read. I read Winter Garden by the same author and loved it. I was hoping for the same experience with this one, but it hardly compares. It's the story of two friends who meet in junior high school in 1974, and carries through the next three decades of their lives. That has kept my interest, because it is exactly in line with my lifetime. It's fun to hear the references to songs, styles, and interesting world events.  

 I am listening to . . . Copperline by James Taylor on Pandora

I am learning . . . how to be a parent to young adults who are now parents.

In my kitchen. . .  easy summer meals.  This weekend, Dan grilled fish one night, a small steak another night that we shared.  We added grilled veggies and viola! 

In my garden . . . newly planted blue columbine, which is our state flower.  Keeping my fingers crossed that it likes the location I chose.

  A moment from my day. . .  I'm spending my day with this little guy! It's our first day, just the two of us. Emily is going to start working for a day or two each week, so I get Bentley on Mondays. I miss my Brooklynn, but she will get to spend Mondays with her auntie, whom she adores.

Closing Notes. . . I always enjoy writing my Daybook, hosted by Peggy. Like Friday Fave Five, it's an opportunity to look for the blessings in the ordinary days of my life.  It helps me organize my thoughts and my menus and my household plans, think about what I'm spending my time doing and reading and creating. Writing this Daybook is also confirmation of how much I enjoy writing this blog and how much I enjoy the company of other bloggers.  It's such a nice community of people who enjoy writing and reflecting on their lives and keeping an account of their days.

If you would like to try writing a Daybook, here's the link:  The Simple Woman's Daybook


Friday, June 3, 2016

Ah, Summer!

After a whirlwind tour of WordPress, it's nice to be back home at Blogger. Nothing against WP, it's just that I'm a slow learner. Thank you for sticking with me through all that. I hope I haven't lost Karen in Wisconsin! who left me a sweet comment over on WP, after following me from Blogger. Are you still with me? Everyone else?

Well, on that note, here are some of my favorite moments from the week past.

1. Dan and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary yesterday! We went to a ball game and it was a beautiful evening to be at the park. A perfect way to spend our time together. And flowers. Dan is very sweet about giving me flowers, and gerbera daisies are one of my favorites.

2. Outdoor water aerobics started this week.  The water is still a bit cool, but it's still lovely.  This morning the clouds were amazing and a beautiful hawk circled overhead for much of the class.  Probably wondering what in the world we were doing!

3. Our favorite house guest is here for the week.  Joey's greyhound, George, is staying while Joe and Sam are out of town.  We just love George.  I would include a recent picture, but he is taking a nap and refuses to be disturbed.  

4. The garden is slowly coming to bloom.  The rosebushes and lilacs that we planted last year are flowering, and the day lilies are thick and full.  I can't wait to see how well they bloom.

5. I had a girls' night out on Wednesday with some long-time friends. We went for barbeque and beer. Oh how I love summer!

How was your week?  Linking up with Susanne and the Friday Fave Five group.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Just a note: Back to Blogger

Until I can get my tech guy (little wave to Joe) to help me with WordPress, I'm going to stick with Blogger for a while.  I just can't seem to work the bugs out on my own and, frankly, Blogger has become so intuitive for me that it now seems kind of silly to have changed it all up!

Memorial Day weekend

Dan and I took a little trip over Memorial Day weekend, returning on Monday. Yesterday we jumped back into our normal routine, so I'm just now getting a few minutes to post some pictures.
It was a glorious time, because we got to go see these four!

Luke and Miranda moved up to Wisconsin around the first of April.  We couldn't wait to go up and see their new home, see a part of the country that is new to us, and to snuggle our grandkids;)
We spent the weekend exploring their small town, which is located just west of Green Bay. One day we took a drive up to Sturgeon Bay.

There are so many lighthouses along the peninsula.  This one is Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Pierhead lighthouse.

This is the Ship Canal light.  Door County is a great place for lighthouse fanatics like myself. We don't see many in Colorado;)

Grandpa and Sawyer.

Siefer hamming it up with Grandma.

We went to a Milwaukee Brewers game.  All of the kids at the game received bobble-heads that they could paint themselves. Siefer is "pretend painting" Sawyer's face.

Miller Park is a beautiful domed stadium with a roof that opens and closes.  It was open for this game. It was fun to check this on off our list of stadiums to visit and fun that the home team won.

The time went way too fast! We're already talking about when we can get back up there.