Sunday, November 11, 2018

Snow Day

We're having a lovely little snowstorm here today.  I do so love it when the snow falls during the daytime, when we can see it.  And it's especially nice when it happens on a Sunday and we aren't going anywhere! 

A snow day is a good day to clean the coffee grinder (Ben), catch up on YouTube subscriptions (Paul), and plan various upcoming holiday excursions (me).  Well, I guess we'll need to do some shoveling at some point; got to get some exercise and have our sidewalks ready for folks to use tomorrow.   

But mostly it will be a day to chill out and enjoy cocooning at home.   

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Thursday Thoughts

It's a brisk, cold morning and foggy mist is obscuring our views of the 1st Flatiron.  The weather makes me think about the approaching holidays.  As the years have gone by I've tried to focus on what I truly enjoy about Thanksgiving and Christmas and make plans to do more of those things and less of others.  This year I'm looking forward to Historic Boulder's Holiday House tour and CU's Holiday concert.   

We don't buy many gifts around here and I probably would have missed reading the gift guide published by a local Denver magazine, 5280, except that it included a nice blurb on Cocktail Punk, the company that Paul is working for during his gap year.  It was exciting to see its owner, our friend Raymond, featured.    
It seems like a lot is going on here.  We had a flood in part of Paul's basement bedroom with water running down the foundation and into the basement after a gutter extender was left in the "up" position for a while.  Ugh, water sure can make a big mess!  Photoshop quit working for a few days until I finally deleted a bunch of old files from my computer, which is never a fun task.  And Fetcher had to have four teeth removed.  More "Ugh"!

I've been doing some hand stitching on this little piece, and am now thinking about how to use the black and white checked fabric in in.  I may use it as a binding but probably not all the way around the edge.

I've also learning more about Photoshop, especially how to clip out a part of one image and then add it to another.  Here's one that Paul helped me with.

photo from the Colorado Springs Gazette 

Colorado's election results were very encouraging to me with the Democrats winning the Governor's seat, all of the state offices (such as Attorney General), and both the state House and Senate, though by just a slim margin.  Our new governor is openly gay and also Jewish, and Boulder's new U.S. Representative is the first African American in that office.  A long standing Republican U.S. representative for the Denver suburbs was voted out.  On the other hand, the initiative to prohibit fracking within 2500 feet of homes, schools, and playgrounds didn't pass.  Its defeat wasn't unexpected since gas and oil spent $41 million to fight it and I like to think that the very fact that it got on the ballot may encourage the industry to move more slowly with their fracking plans.  Now it's on to the 2020 election, when I hope to see Republican Senator Cory Gardner defeated.    

Well, regardless of politics or things that make me go "Ugh!", there's always the beauty of this area to make me smile.  Just check out the lovely light on the trees and rocks that we saw on our hike up Lost Canyon the other day.  Nothing like getting outside to buoy up my spirits!    

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

18th Annual Girl's Weekend

 I had such a great weekend here in the Boulder area with my sister, Jean, and our much loved friend, Janice. 

Our home base was the Niwot Inn, in the small town of Niwot, about 15 minutes from Boulder.  We did a variety of fun things, including watching the CU production of West Side Story,  listening to the CU marching band at the homecoming pep rally on Pearl Street Mall, touring the Celestial Seasoning factory,  shopping for clothes (new boots!),  lunching with a friend of Janice's, and eating some excellent Italian food with my sister-in-law, Dawn, and our friend Lotus.  And of course we talked and talked and had a great yearly check-in with each other.    

One day we went up to Rocky Mountain National Park to find elk.  We drove all over the beautiful park and never did see any of these amazing animals.  But as we headed out of the park and into the gateway town of Estes Park we found three large herds!   They were very interesting to watch. 

 How'd you like to come home and find all these elk looking in your windows?

Still photos don't capture the majesty of these beasts, so you may enjoy these three short videos.

Seeing these amazing elk made a great visit even more memorable. 

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Around Here

Around here we're enjoying some lovely fall days...  

...getting ready to vote by mail....

...going to a few local fun events like "Meet the Spirits" at the historic cemetery down the block...

 ...figuring out what art project to work on next...

...and watching workmen transform our garden edges with stone.

But the most exciting thing is that this morning I'll pick up my sister, Jean, and Janice, our friend from high school, at the airport for our annual girl's weekend.  

I can't wait to see them! 

Monday, October 22, 2018

Change is in the Air

Things seem different since our return from Sicily.  

When we left, the tree in this photograph hadn't begun changing colors and the weather was hot.  We came back to find that Autumn had arrived.  Instead of sleeping with all the windows open and the balcony doors wide open, everything is closed up against the chilly nights.  

Since our schedules aren't tied to the high school's, Ben and I get up at 7:30 instead of 6:30. And without my volunteer work for the high school music program, I have a lot more free time.  

We came back to find that our Meals on Wheels route had changed substantially.  Some of our regulars are off the route now and several new people have been put on.  

I'm still getting used to not having Spikey around, and during his two weeks of being boarded at the vet, Fetcher transitioned into a real lap cat.  He now only goes outside for short visits, a far cry from his old roaming and hunting.  

My Pilates lessons have come to an abrupt halt since my wonderful Pilates teacher is suddenly seriously ill. 

Well, if there's one thing we know, it's that change is constant and we adjust.  The sprinkler system has been blown out for the season, we removed the frost-damaged annuals from their summer pots, and took in the furniture we won't need on the patio this winter.   I'll move my summer clothes to the back of my closet and think about buying a new pair of boots.  I'll miss Spikey and enjoy Fetcher.  We'll get to know the new folks on our MOW route.  

Fall is always a time of change.  It's just that this year a lot of it happened while we were away or happened abruptly, and is taking a bit more to get used to.     

Thursday, October 18, 2018

I Like Thursday: Snow and Sicily

Today I'm linking to my friend Lee Anna's weekly "I Like Thursdays,"  at  Not Afraid of Color.

I really liked the near-perfect snow storm we had Saturday night into Sunday.  It thoughtfully held off until our Saturday night fun was over, snowed while we were asleep and then some more on Sunday, and left about six to seven inches behind.  The first real snow of the season!  It was also very cold with temperatures in the 20's, so everyone scrambled for their sweaters and boots.  But neither the cold nor the snow is here to stay quite yet;  we're now enjoying a stretch of sunny skies with highs in the 50's.  

For our trip to Sicily we packed very lightly, each of us having just one small roll-on bag for carry-on  and a small backpack for our personal item.  Yes, it was hard to put what we needed for two weeks in this small amount of luggage, but I really liked it once I got used to it.  Clothes weren't a problem since we were dressing casually and two of the four places we stayed had washers.  Toiletries were more of a problem since they had to get through the TSA checkpoints.  That was solved by ruthlessly culling what we took and replacing some liquids with solids (like cold water laundry soap which you can get in "leaf" form).  It was a relief to travel light, especially when one of our flights cancelled as boarding was underway and we grabbed our bags and raced to customer service for rebooking. 

Speaking of laundry, there may have been washing machines but apparently hardly anyone has a dryer.  I loved seeing all the ways that the Italians hung their laundry out to dry.  We did it, too.  One of the really fun little moments for the trip for me was rinsing out some clothes in a stone tub out on our lovely patio in San Vito and then hanging things up on our drying rack.  Ah, bliss.

Have you ever used packing cubes?  I hadn't but I did on this trip and loved having them.  I liked organizing  my clothes by type (one cube for shirts, one for pants, etc.)  and I found they made unpacking easier.   One place we stayed in had a narrow spiral staircase up to our bedroom, so I just grabbed my packing cubes and took them up, leaving my suitcase downstairs. 

I loved the food in Sicily.  The large photo is of olives growing; I don't think I'd ever seen olive trees before.  The top right is a chocolate and pistachio pastry; then cassata (a white cake filled with ricotta cream and topped with frosting and sugared fruits); then Pasta con le Sarde (pasta with sardines, fennel, and bread crumbs); lower right is fresh fish at the market.

Sicily is very agricultural and we saw quite a bit of countryside covered with vines, fruit and nut trees, and eggplants and other vegetables.   At our agritourista, a nice woman showed me how to take a rock and smash open a walnut shell and dig out the nutmeat inside.  Food can bring people together, in more ways than one.  

 Did you know that Sicily produces ceramics? Not just bowls and platters, but also architectural tiles.  I love ceramics and had to remember that I couldn't hold much in my little carry-on bags.  But I did get a few things home  :-)   (I still want that table!  Should I get it shipped here?)

Decorative tiles are used in homes and businesses throughout Sicily, even in the kitchen of our low-budget room in Cinisi.    

As we looked at art and architecture on our trip I was reminded of how much I enjoyed studying art history back in my undergraduate days.  Seeing frescoes, paintings, church interiors,  amphora (painted vases), and statues from Greek and Roman times was real eye candy and I loved it. 

Venus Landolina, Museo archeologico, Siracusa  

Of course, as this cartoon that my sister gave me reminds us, a big part of the success of a trip is who you travel with.

I was lucky to have two great companions for this adventure, my husband, Ben,  and our good friend, Lotus.  Within a day or so of beginning our sojourn we had quite naturally split up the main duties:  Lotus did the car driving, Ben did the navigating, and I was the tour guide.  As such I suggested the next day's itinerary and provided info from three guidebooks and TripAdvisor.  We had anticipated some challenges in traveling together and worked them out ahead of time.  For instance, when he could, Ben liked to chill for a few hours in the late afternoons.  That gave me and Lotus time to do some sightseeing on our own.  Lotus preferred a lighter evening meal, and that gave me and Ben the opportunity to eat out on our own a few times. 

It's always nice to come off of a trip still liking your travel companions, and that's how it happened on this trip. 

One last thing I loved was the beauty and animation of the Italian language.  Our itinerary and accommodations put us close to the Italian people and we liked to just observe and listen to them in the restaurants, parks, markets, and on the streets. 

To give you a little taste of this pleasure, click on the video below, which I took at the Siracusa fish market.  It's only 44 seconds, so turn the sound up and enjoy.   (Click here for the video on YouTube).  

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A Brief but Happy Stay in Cinisi

 On Monday morning we drove across the island back up to the SW coast to the small beach town of Cinisi, conveniently very close to the Palermo airport.   Our flight was Tuesday morning and we hoped to make our last evening is Sicily a fun one. 

We were charmed by our comfortable accommodations; two rooms in a small family run hotel.  It was the sort of place that made you want to come back a spend a few nights.   

Patio table set for breakfast
The beach was a short stroll away and had wonderful cliffs as a backdrop to the sea. 

It also had a friendly bar, always a plus!  

It was great to just hang around a loaf over a drink and walk by the water, but soon the sun was setting.

We decided to try the closest restaurant, literally just steps away from our room.  It was a local place and we enjoyed watching the Italians having a good time over dinner.   

After a while we noticed that there a couple of platters of freshly caught fish set out for display.  Hadn't seen that yet in Sicily. 

We had a great meal and a fun time in this lively, local place.  It was a perfect ending to a perfect trip.