Friday, January 20, 2017

Thoughts About Politeness on Inauguration Day

Credit:  Wikimedia Commons

My friend, Lee Anna, wrote a thoughtful and timely post on her blog the other day about politeness, kindness and respect.

First she talked about kindness in general:
 Each person deserves respect and I am saying the world will be more content if we respect each other.

And then specifically about the lack of civility we have seen recently in the political arena:
This has been weighing heavily on my heart, and I feel I must express it... 
It is not acceptable for anyone to deride citizens, especially leaders.
 It is not understandable nor acceptable nor an American value to denigrate groups of people.

We would not allow children to say derogatory things out loud, that are being said by some elected officials. If a person speaks for America, I expect them to represent all of it's citizens with restraint and respect. We deserve that. We should expect no less from them than we would a friend, a spouse, a child or a neighbor.

I was very impressed with how well she expressed thoughts that many of us share.  It's worth reading her whole post which you can find here.

On this Inauguration Day I'm grateful for the peaceful transition of power which we have again enjoyed and for the example of civility and politeness which President Obama has set for the nation.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

First Floor Bath Before and After

The first floor bath is a hard working little area, used by us throughout the day since it is across the hall from my studio and next to the kitchen.  It's also the "powder room" for visitors as it's closest to the living room and dining room, and it serves as the bath for house guests, being right next to the TV room which doubles as our guest room.  It has the only bathtub in the house, the other two baths having only showers.  

 Last remodeled in the mid 1980's, the shallow tub was no good for the nightly soaks which I love and had ugly stains from a faucet that continually dripped.  The plastic floor tile was dated and shiny,  and cleaning supplies were stashed by the wobbly toilet since the pedestal sink didn't provide any storage space.  There was limited space for toiletries used by house guests. 

Our friend Susan Steele, owner of Interior Motives, designed a modern and more workable bath for us and oversaw all the remodeling work.  Together we choose large white subway tiles which brighten the small room and decorative tiles to draw the eye into the room and up the amazing new deep tub with a heated back perfect for soaking.  We replaced the pedestal sink with a big, beautiful vanity with plenty of storage and hung a matching mirror.  The tile in the tub/shower was taken all the way to the ceiling and to the edge of the window, giving that space a more streamlined look. 

The vanity has storage in the cabinet for cleaning supplies and house guests can use both the wide rimmed vanity top and the baskets on the lower shelf for their toiletries.

In a few weeks a narrow cabinet will be added above the toilet, providing another place for storage, and knobs will be added to the vanity and the toilet cabinet.  You can also see how the new toilet paper holder as a grab bar built into it, which is pretty neat.

We kept the old medicine cabinet and lights.  And in these photos you can see how the granite counter top is "leathered" so it has a rougher finish than the polished one we have in the kitchen.   I think it's quite beautiful

Susan found a wonderful gray tile for the floor.  It's surprising how hard it was to find the right shade of gray!

 In addition to the shower head we added a hand-held shower which is handy for spraying yourself while soaking in the tub or rinsing off after a soak as well as for cleaning the tub area.  There is a nifty niche for holding a glass of water or wine or maybe a candle or a loofah.

Not soap!  Soap bars and shampoo go in the wire baskets by the main shower  head. 

In addition to being deep and having a heated back, the tub has built in arm rests which make lounging very comfortable and also serve as grab bars as you hoist yourself out of the tub.  They also can hold a cool teak wood seat, should you ever care to sit on a bench while you scrub your feet or shave your legs!   

The new bath looks great, don't you think?  As I've said, when we moved into this wonderful house we knew all three baths and the kitchen needed updating.  All that work is now complete! 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Back from Retreat

I spent the weekend at a quilting retreat up in the mountains this weekend and had a great time working on my projects and socializing. 


Don't all these ladies look sweet?  Well, don't be fooled.   There are some interesting stories here. One of them is an expert fiddler and is about to travel to England for a folk music conference.  Another trekked up to the Mt. Everest base camp some years back and was also a white water guide.  The woman sewing at the table next to mine had a long career as a coordinator for research for the National Center for Atmospheric Research here in Boulder and has a PhD in some scientific field which I didn't quite catch.  Once you start chatting with people you find out some interesting things! 
We each received a Rippit Doll with a cute note about using it to relieve the stress that sewing sometimes causes.  It's a good thing they gave us the note because when I first saw the doll I thought "Oh, good!  A voodoo doll just in time for the inauguration!" 

It's beginning to feel real to me that we are getting a new president this week, one that I definitely do not like.   My eight years of feeling in sync with the president is coming to an end and it's tough.  So I was happy to sink myself into my sewing.  One project that was very soothing to work on was this little baby quilt which will go to a preemie baby in a local NICU through the guild's Outreach Program.  The cozy fabrics were calming to work with and the circle quilting was just enough of a challenge to be interesting. 

The retreat was up in near Mt. Meeker, about an hour drive from here.  The mountains have had quite a lot of snow recently.  It was lovely on Saturday with lots of beautiful sunshine making the deep snow glisten.   Many people were staying until Monday afternoon but I had only signed up for two nights and as I left late yesterday afternoon the clouds were coming in and another snowfall was forecast.  

The forecast I read didn't call for any snow in Boulder though Ben and our friends told me we might get three to six inches overnight.   And indeed, this morning we did wake up to about three inches.  

You can't tell from these photos I took this morning, but snow was still falling.  It still falling now, two hours later.   Unlike the powdery snow we had a week or so ago this one is wetter and compacts well into snowballs.

Yes, I'm beginning to tell the difference in types of snow.  And....da ta! I'm also beginning to drive in the snow.  I'll drive myself to Pilates class later this afternoon, assuming it has actually stopped snowing by then.  This morning Ben will do the driving as we make our Meals on Wheels rounds.

The bathroom remodel is done and I hope to show you photos in another day or so.  But first I have to unpack from the retreat.  Thankfully that's easier than packing everything up to take on retreat, but it's still a big job.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Swimming with the Turtles

It's been a very windy day here, the kind of wind that catches the door of your car when you try to get out and slams it into the car parked next to you.  It was also very icy this morning, causing Paul to slide off his bike twice on the way down to school.  The wind actually pushed me across a patch of icy street and I had to grab onto my car to stop my forward momentum.  

Apparently it was this windy on Christmas Day.  So glad we missed it. 

But the cold is gone and our warm temperatures coupled with the bright sun is melting all the snow we got last Wednesday and Thursday.  Before we say goodbye to the beautiful snow, here's a few photos from a hike we took on Friday. 

This is how a trail looks when it's still snow packed.

It's hard to remember that we were in the islands so recently.  It was only two weeks ago that we were swimming with the turtles.   I didn't tell you about that, did I?  Well, it's about time I did!

On Christmas we chartered a boat and a captain and went to several snorkeling sites.  One was Turtle Cove, a National Wildlife Refuge that is a breeding ground and sanctuary for turtles.  Here's Paul and me snorkeling, looking down at the seagrass that feeds the many turtles that hang out in this area.   You peer closely at the sand and seagrass to spot a turtle munching away and then you follow him as he swims up to the surface for air.

Here's a turtle that has come up for air.  They aren't scared of people and would come up quite close to us.  This one looks like a baby; there were many really large ones as well.

And here's a photo that Paul took showing a turtle submerging.

We were there for about and hour and saw turtles that whole time. Smiles all around!

Turtle Cove is visited by many tourists who sign on to day trips from sailboats and catamarans at St. Thomas.  Apparently it is often quite crowded with people, but since it was Christmas Day we pretty much had the place to ourselves, which made it even more wonderful.

Paul made a video of the trip for us as a Christmas gift but I think he's too shy to let me post it here.  So I found this short video on YouTube that just shows Turtle Cove has some good footage of the turtles.  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Snow Day

What does it take for the Boulder Valley School District to declare a snow day? If today is an indication, a foot of snow and temperatures in the single digits.

It's a lot of snow but it's the light, fluffy beautiful type that's lovely to look at and fairly easy to shovel.

It started yesterday morning and is still snowing this morning.  This is the scene yesterday when I drove to meet a friend for lunch.  Yes, I did say "I drove."  I'm learning to drive in the snow; whoohoo!    

Ben dug himself out this morning and drove to the indoor climbing gym, but I plan to spend the day indoors.  I'm making split pea soup and I have a new quilt underway.  It's a travel-themed one for my sister Jean, who loves to travel. 

I'm starting with this fun fabric that features the Travelocity Gnome at various landmarks around the world.   

 First step is to cut out each of the vignettes.   And after that?  Well, you never know when you're not working from a pattern!   Good thing Jean is flexible and will probably like whatever I make.

We've had workmen in the house the past few days tiling the 1st floor bath, but they are done and the next step, painting, doesn't happen until Monday, so it is blissfully quiet here this morning.  

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year's Eve Surprise

Last year Paul was in a band that played ska music.  Although all the members were students at Boulder High School, it wasn't a school band.  They rehearsed on the weekends and didn't perform at any school functions.  Instead they worked hard to be ready to play at the Boulder Creek Teen Festival where they won second place out of about six bands.

Paul had a lot of fun with the band and when seven of the ten members graduated last May and it looked like the band was finished, I was sorry.   But this fall the trombone player took the lead and reorganized the group and got it playing again.

On New Year's Eve they played at the Nomad Theater, a small neighborhood theater in north Boulder. It wasn't a paid gig but rather a friendly show for the benefit of invited family and friends.

Of course Ben and I went to see the performance and to our amazement the band played extremely well.  It was a lot of fun!

The surprise was seeing how Paul had progressed since last year.  Last spring he didn't play any solo lines.  When it was time for his baritone saxophone to shine for a few moments he let the alto saxophone player do the honors.   But this year he played his solo rifs, and played them with confidence.   We were so happy for him!

The father of one of the musicians is a professional photographer and took wonderful photos of the kids during their dress rehearsal.

Did you notice Paul's newly dyed purple hair?  That was one of his Christmas presents. 

Well, school starts tomorrow, bringing these lovely holidays to an official close.   It's going to be a cold and snowy week, with show showers this morning and then a larger snowfall Wednesday into Thursday.  

Today we'll take down the Christmas tree.  As if he knew of our plans, Spikey crawled up the base of the tree yesterday for a cozy nap!  Live it up now, Spikester, it will be gone by tomorrow!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Christmas Day

We decided to go to St. John at Christmas since Paul had more than two weeks off from school, making it a great time to travel.  When you are a parent of a school age child your vacation choices are ruled by the school calendar.  

The trip was my idea; I felt it was time to do something as a family that was just fun.  We all love snorkeling, so going back to the Caribbean was a no brainer.   The question was whether we'd enjoy celebrating Christmas away from home, friends, and extended family, or whether it would be lonely and weird.   

Upon arriving in St. John we found plenty of decorations and lights to put us in a holiday mood.  

We joined in the festivities by decorating the fake palm tree in our apartment.

For the big day itself we scheduled a boat to take us out snorkeling from 8:30-4:30, thereby filling up the day with something we'd all enjoy.  The snorkeling was wonderful and I'll tell you more about it when I get the photos that Paul took with a GoPro and an underwater camera.

For now I'll just say that the first thing we saw was a lovely spotted eagle ray.

Photo by Guy Stevens for the Manta Trust

 We went to two spots and then it was time for lunch.  Captain Craig had promised to take us to a place with a real island vibe, and Water Island lived up to the promise.  It was a fun place to lunch, with many people hanging out enjoying the water, the music, the food, and the water toys.

Here I am standing near one of the three restaurants. looking relaxed and what we call "beachified."   Oh my, it was a beautiful Christmas day.  Temps in the low 80's, happy sunshine, the water lapping at your toes, the sand a soothing soft white sugar .....really nice.

Paul is sitting next to Joy, who for some reason just didn't cozy up to him or anyone else.  

After our day of fun we hung out in our apartment for a while, just kicking back and watching the harbor. 

Later Ben and I went out to a special restaurant for dinner leaving Paul at the apartment to happily catch up with his texting and game playing.  Too bad, because he missed seeing Santa Claus who was celebrating his successful sleigh ride around the world with a few drinks.  

So the answer to my question turned out to be that yes, you could have a delightful Christmas away from home, friends, and extended family.  

I might not want to do it every year --we've already promised Paul that we'd be home next year and will have a real tree to boot -- but it certainly was a treat this year.