Thursday, May 28, 2020

"I Like Thursdays"-- A Moose in the Cemetery

Photo courtesy of Nico Toutenhoofd, Boulder Daily Camera


For my friend LeeAnna's "I Like Thursdays" linking party, I'd like to share the story of the moose in the cemetery. 

Wildlife is often spotted in Boulder.  Being so close to the foothills and the mountains, we often see deer and bears, and sometimes bobcats and mountain lions.  I myself have seen three bears since moving here and the previous owner reported that she once saw a bobcat in our yard.  A mountain lion was filmed recently on a security camera in an alley a few blocks from here.  But moose?  Moose like the higher elevations and as a rule they don't make their way down here. 

But on the Sunday the 17th a young female moose somehow lost her way and ended up in the old cemetery down the block from our house. I first caught wind of her presence the way one always does with wildlife sightings--by the crowd of people gathering to look at something.  Being curious about what was going on I made my way over to the cemetery to see what was up.  There several groups of young adults, maybe CU students, were standing around quietly taking photographs of something with their phones.  Was it something related to CU graduation?  Or was a couple getting married?

As I got closer I thought I saw a dark horse stretching his neck up to eat leaves from a tree.  But then I spotted the big ears and I knew it was a moose.  I joined the quiet, awestruck crowd and respectfully kept my distance while I admired the beautiful animal. 

I was charmed by her and also by the many well-behaved young people who had come out of their apartments to see her.  I thought it was pretty cool that there were so many college-age kids who came out to watch her in such a respectful manner. 

I wondered how she was going to safely make her way back up into the mountains and called the Animal Protection office.  They were more sanquin and said they were making frequent visits to be sure no one was bothering the animal but otherwise were going to let her work things out.

Well, things didn't work out too well.  Early the next day a moose was hit by a car about a mile from the cemetery. 

Now, you may wonder why I'm including this in a post that is supposed to be about good news and things we're enjoying.  Well, given that the moose didn't make it home, there is a sweet ending to the story.

Monday of this week I was walking Turbo early in the morning through the cemetery and we came upon the scene shown in the photo below.


And as I got closer I was touched to see that someone had taken the time to make a beautiful and gentle memorial to the moose. 


And it did make me smile!

Linking to my friend LeeAnna's "I Like Thursdays" at Not Afraid of Color

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Where we Stand: Coronavirus



The gradual reopening of Colorado continues and now small gatherings are allowed, albeit with many recommended safeguards.  This change, coupled with our own reading of the advice of various experts (see below), led us to decide it was safe to see a few close friends in outdoor settings.  Within days we had a series of three separate friends stop by and sit on the patio to chat with us.  Mostly we wore masks and stayed six feet (well, maybe sometimes four) and we never hugged or touched, but, my, it was grand to sit in the beautiful outdoors in our comfy chairs and just talk face to face with our chums!    

This "opening up" was also very timely as Ben and his good friend Raymond turned 65 last Thursday and we wanted to do something special to celebrate.  What better way than to get together for a patio dinner?  Their other long-time friend, Bob, served as host so there were six of us together for the happy event.  

Being very careful, Bob decreased the amount of communal sharing by having each couple sit at their own table and asking them to bring their own appetizers and cocktails.  Each table got a box of the delicious kale salad we all love from a local restaurant and the meal of steak and corn on the cob was served on plates directly from the grill.  Instead of a cake I made birthday cupcakes.  It was all a bit strange at first but it wasn't long before we relaxed and were eating and drinking and celebrating just like old times. 

The next night the two birthday boys had a special dinner of caviar and crab bombs, this time on Ray's patio following much of the same protocol.  It looks like this will be the pattern for our social gatherings this summer, and it is sure a step above the Zoom cocktail hours we've been having. We're calling this type of socializing "yardies." 



On Memorial Day we had Ben's brother and his family over for a BBQ supper.  We weren't as strict about the protocol but we did make sure that most of the windows in the house were opened so the air could circulate well and some of us spent most of our time on the patio.  Since the nearby cemetery didn't have its usual memorial decoration of flags for the veterans, I put some small flags up around the house which was not only festive but reminded us of the reason for the day.  As a private observance, Ben and I watched a couple episodes of the WWII series, Band of Brothers. 

In general Boulder County hasn't suffered as much from the virus as the rest of the state.  Today's "dashboard" shows that Colorado has had 24,565 cases and 1,352, deaths and that Boulder County accounts for just 941 cases and 63 deaths.  In general people here are fairly compliant with the recommendations for social distancing, though a popular stretch of  Boulder Creek had to be closed after hundreds of young adults partied hard there right after CU's virtual graduation day and before the Memorial Day weekend. 

   

On Monday Colorado announced that restaurants could begin reopening today with many restrictions about capacity, etc.  And last night Ben and I got very excited to see that one of our favorite places was taking reservations.  We made one for next Monday.   But this morning I read an article in the Denver Post about how models for the virus in our state this summer were showing that the ability of our medical system to handle the increase of cases expected as the state moved from 80% social distancing to the 55% or 60% needed to get folks back to work was contingent on all people over 60 years old maintaining that 80%.  Here's the passage that really hit home to me:   

 “If all adults over 60 maintained 80% social distancing levels — the same as under the stay-at-home order — then hospital capacity would not be exceeded if the rest of the population hit 65% and 55% distancing levels. If half of older adults stayed at 80% distancing, ICU bed needs would still be topped even if the rest of the state maintained 65%, 55% or 45% levels, the modeling shows.” 

In other words, all of us retired folks here in Colorado need to do our civic duty and continue with our social distancing for the summer.  With a sad heart I cancelled our dinner reservation.  

But later, on my early morning walk with Turbo,  I realized and appreciated how lucky we are to be alive.  Not only alive, but to have enough.  Enough outdoor beauty, enough great restaurants doing curbside pickups, enough grocery stores full of the abundance of the summer, enough good friends and family close by, and finally, enough money to contribute a bit to help others who don't have this abundance.   For we all know now that the medical crisis is not the only hardship the virus is delivering.  There is also the economic crisis and many people do and will need help to survive it. 

Experts:  









Wednesday, May 13, 2020

" I Like" Thursday Post



The clock on our dining room wall is broken.  It keeps on ticking, but the hands never move.  They are stuck at 9:20 and every time I catch a glimpse of it for a second I think it's still 9:20 either in the morning or the evening.  This unraveling of time seems to fit this odd period when time isn't measured by being somewhere in particular, or starting or ending a scheduled event.  Time just unfolds and another day, or week, or month, or even a season goes by.  

It's officially spring here in Boulder now; we can tell by the blooming of the first early poppies and iris.  They'll continue on into June, when sunflowers, coneflowers, and daisies begin to bloom. 

So on this "I Like" Thursday, a weekly topic which my friend LeeAnna began as a way to promote positive thinking when the world turned grey in November 2016, my first like is the wonderful poppies and iris. We don't have any blooming in our yard yet, but I spot them on my walks with Turbo around the neighborhood and they always make me smile. 


This past week we got into baking with sourdough starter, courtesy of our friend Raymond who was given his starter by his friend John.  Starter is one of those friendly things that gets shared from one enthusiast to another.  We sure enjoyed the "sandwich biscuits" and bread that we made ...and ate!  One thing about starter is that you have to use some of it each week.  After gaining two pounds by eating yummy baked goods with delicious butter I made a deal to take the "discard starter" from Ray occasionally instead of hosting my own.  Better not to have it so readily available in the fridge if I want to get through this shut down period without gaining a ton of weight!


As time has moved on, Turbo is now ten months old.  He's discovered the water that has again filled the irrigation ditches and washes and the suddenly strong currents in the creeks and streams as water pours down from the melting snowfields up in the mountains.  Here he is trying to get up the nerve to actually take a drink of water in the ditch in the old cemetery down the block.  After seeing his dog friends lapping it up, he finally took a drink himself.  It was a big moment! 


The trails around here are increasingly busy so one afternoon we drove a few miles up Boulder Canyon to take one of Ben's favorite hikes, the Chapman trail.  I hadn't been there for a while and it was good to see the beautiful Indian Peaks off in the distance.


One result of the odd flowing of time nowadays is that we wake up when we are ready, not by the clock.  For me that means I'm sometimes up at 6:00 a.m. and sometimes sleep in until 8:00 or so.  I've found that one reward for waking up early is watching the sun come in through our east window.  We hung a stained glass window with a sun face on it some time ago and have just now discovered that when the sun shines through the glass the sun face is projected onto the side of our dresser, which looks pretty cool!  Now don't think I never got up early before; I sure did, especially when Paul was in school.  But I think I was so "on task" to get ready for the day that I never noticed this neat trick that the sun and the sun face glass pulled off every spring morning.    


I don't have any photos of one of the most fun things of the week which was having Mother's Day dinner with my BIL, John, and my SIL, Dawn and their son Michael.  We ate Dawn's wonderful BBQ ribs outside on their patio and had a relaxing visit which was very welcome after almost two months of not visiting apart from the weekly walks that Dawn and I take out on carefully selected wide trails.  It was great to enjoy a family time together. 

Colorado has begun to reopen its retail stores including nurseries and garden centers.  On the very day that our local nursery reopened for walk-in service I made a quick trip in to buy some annuals to fill a few pots on our patio and to tuck into our raised beds.

Given that I was trying to "stay safe," I was in and out faster than I could ever imagine --- oh, for the days you could linger enjoying the pretty offerings and slowly making your decisions!--- so when I got home I was delighted to find that the plants in the pots outside our patio door actually look great and give me a little spark of joy when I see them.  (I'm looking forward to watching the geraniums grown up a bit and the lobelia trail down a bit and together fill the wall to a pleasing effect.)


We have been spending a lot of time gardening and enjoying the results.  We inherited about eight separate garden areas around this house and now is the time to weed them and replant as needed, so we've been busy.  Good thing we like to garden!  We've had to reseed a fair amount of our side yard which got torn up during the stone work we had done on the raised beds last fall.  We couldn't think of a good way to keep Turbo off the new emerging grass so we're just going for it and hoping for the best.   

Here is our side yard from the street with Turbo standing at the edge of the new grass.  Good dog! He loves to hang out by the side gate and watch everyone go by.  He has lots of dog friends and always barks out a hello.    


We still eat in the dining room most evenings but the other night it was pleasant enough to take our meal out to the patio, which is one of my most favorite things.  To celebrate I brought out the tablecloth we bought at Mama's Fish House to remind us of our wonderful two trips to Maui.     


Many of our meals are accompanied by texting between us and our friends who share our love of food and drink.  This photo captures an "everyday great moment"; Ben laughing as he texts with his friend Ray about our delicious dinner of Sicilian style swordfish.


Well, if there wasn't a pandemic going on, I'd be in New York City today with my sister Jean and our good friend Janice.  We'd planned a super trip to celebrate 20 years of our annual excursions, and had even splurged on tickets to see Hamilton tomorrow night.  Since that trip is not happening, I took some time to go back through my photos and relive our earlier travels together, and found this nice photo of us by the Boston skyline in 2011.  We're already busy planning a rescheduled 20th anniversary trip with a new destination, the beautiful red rocks of Sedona, Arizona.  Reliving past travels and planning future trips is a delightful pastime in this unusual time.



Linking to my friend LeeAnna's "I Like Thursdays" at Not Afraid of Color

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

A Few Things I'm Liking


A thing about nature that I like is how it can be so changeable.  On April 15 we had another big snowfall, which left about a foot of very wet snow.  But as happens so often with spring snows, within days the sun had melted it all.  Now we are experiencing a little heat wave with temps in the mid 80's expected tomorrow.  But next week it should only be in the 60's.  And we often get snow on Mother's Day.  It certainly keeps you on your toes! 


The shutdown continues this week, though Boulder is moving towards reopening.  I loved that my sewing machine repair shop is taking repairs by appointment.  No sooner had my Bernina been serviced but my old Pfaff needed attention, so I was glad I could get them both fixed up.

 As the weeks have gone by I realize how much I’ve missed the casual dropping in and out visits with friends, hugging people, doing spontaneous errands and shopping, walking downtown to dinner,  and going to art exhibitions and craft shows.   It's beginning to be clear that fun that involves crowds will be one of the last pleasures to return.

But still there is much to appreciate.  Spring has begun and that's added a lot of joy to the days. 

One of my favorite things right now is sitting in the yard or on the patio with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.  I keep an eye on Turbo as he moseys around, I listen to the birds, and watch the passing street scene.  The hummingbirds are back; life does go on. 


Sometimes as I sit outside I think about the virus and all the changes it has brought.  I'm struck by the loneliness of so many of the deaths and wonder if I would agree to go on a ventilator.  I’ve lived a longer life than so many people, and I've certainly loved these past six years in Boulder.  Maybe I'd choose to go out on this high note rather than take my chances on a vent.  But things can go south quickly and you might miss your chance to make that choice if you wait until you are sick.  Well, I hope it won't come to that, and I do make an effort to think positively,  but  the virus is out there and we can't ignore its harsh realities. 

I'm enjoying being more relaxed about schedules, watching Ben do jigsaw puzzles, getting the house better organized,  doing easy and soothing  sewing masks for family and friends, and supporting local restaurants through curbside pickups and special menu evenings.  


A good thing about the shutdown is that the skies are cleaner and clearer without all the cars on the road.  And my, is it nice to drive with less traffic to contend with.  Boulder County Open Space folks say that traffic on our trails is high since everyone wants to be outside.  I can't say that I see a lot of difference since around here everyone always wants to be outside.  But then I have the luxury of being out either early or late in the day, when the trails are deliciously empty. 


Check out that Boulder Blue Sky!  And yes, that is me behind that mask!

Linking to my friend LeeAnna's "I Like Thursdays" at Not Afraid of Color


Monday, April 13, 2020

Scenes from the Easter Weekend


Given that we couldn't visit with family and friends the way we usually would on Easter we had a pretty good weekend. 

Snow was predicted for Easter morning so I planned to have my Mom's cinnamon rolls ready to distribute to some neighbors and baking them was a lot of fun.  I used yeast that had been in the fridge from 2016 and was tickled when it proofed well! By 10:00 a.m. I was enjoying a roll with coffee and watching the pretty snow fall.   At 2:00 Paul and I dyed some eggs via Zoom with our friends Sara and her son Louis.  She was one of my first new Boulder friends and we met when she drove Paul and Louis up to a nature camp experience that first summer.  When I ran into her again at Boulder High's first music parent's meeting that fall we quickly became chums.  Every year she has an egg dying party using silk scraps for color and pattern and she and I continued the tradition this year despite being confined to our homes.  Thank heavens for our modern technology!  During our video chat the boys each measured the snow at their houses and found that they both had 7" by then.

At 6:00 we used Zoom again, this time for cocktails with Ray and Paula, with whom we also shared Easter dinner courses.  We roasted a leg of lamb which Ben then cut into two parts using a gardening pruner.  A masked Ray came by for a very quick exchange of dinner parts, taking his half of the lamb and a little Easter basket and leaving us cocktails, duck fat potatoes, and a few slices of Paula's amazing Margarita pie.  Very enjoyable, though not as much as seeing them over dinner in person.  But as all those British novels set in WWII say, "As needs must..."

Here are a few photos from the rest of the weekend.  Big pic is Sheba and Turbo keeping Ben in bed late this morning.  You can see how Turbo is now making himself at home!  There was no reason to get up since another 6" had fallen through the night and that meant 13" when I went out and measured it on the patio.  Sewing during snow days is always fun and I started several more masks which I hope to mail out today. 
 

It's supposed to snow more today but the roads look clear and we seem to still be doing the Meals on Wheels run later this morning.  I'd best get to my cup of coffee and the last cinnamon roll!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Around Here


Like almost everyone, we're staying home and doing our part to flatten the curve.   The novelty of it has worn off and we're dealing with the pain of losing so much.  Eating dinner with friends, spontaneously dropping by the store just because you feel like it, walking the trails without thinking about where the next person is, sitting down to coffee with a chum, sewing with quilting buddies, popping into the library to check out the new books......well, you know, all the pleasures we took for granted, now gone for at least another few weeks.

Thankfully, so far we've been spared the worse.  No one we love has shown symptoms of the virus, but it is heartbreaking to learn of the travails of others who have lost people they love, who have become sick themselves, or who have lost their jobs and face an uncertain future. 



Still, around here there is much to appreciate and enjoy.  

Around here we are remembering our recent great lobster extravanganza.  Wanting to cheer himself and some freinds up and to help the lobstermen of Maine, Ben ordered several pounds of fresh shelled lobster which he then divided up among some lucky recipients.  


We had a lot of fun hearing about the ways people enjoyed this treat and had ourselves some mighty fine lobster rolls and lobster mac & cheese. 


Around here we are so glad that we found someone who could cut Turbo's hair!  His puppy coat had grown out and was ready to be scissored off, something I definitely did not want to tackle at home.  We were lucky to find an experienced person to do it for us and the results were just what I wanted. 

Before:  


After:

I confess that I loved the "before" shaggy look but Turbo is now doing some trails off leash and getting into the native grasses that can stick to his fur AND and is learning about the pleasures of mud and water so it's good timing for a shorter hairdo.

Around here we are enjoying our neighbors.  When you have a dog you meet a lot of people while dog walking, and in this time of "social distancing" these short friendly contacts are especially welcome.  With everyone out walking more than usual just to get out of the house, we get a lot of traffic by our corner house and people often pause to admire "adorable" and "cute" Turbo.  We've chatted (from at least six feet away) with lots of folks we don't usually see and that's fun.  I've come to realize that the overall friendly vibe of our neighborhood is not so common, and I'm increasingly glad we landed here.   

But a special pleasure has been getting to know the people who are now renting the house next to ours.  They have a wonderful doodle dog, an 11-year old who is polite and calm and reminds us that Turbo will not always be a puppy.  They immediately took to Turbo and we chatted about dogs and gardens and such.  Then one day I made brownies and on impulse sent some to them.  They sent back some homemade soup and a few days later some lasagna, and oh my, can she cook!  It looks like the "beginning of a wonderful friendship."  (Can you tell we watched Casablanca recently?)



Around here we're seeing all the signs of spring.  We've heard a hummingbird or two, daffodils are  blooming, and the irrigation ditches are flowing again.  One hallmark is the return of the turkey vultures, and they arrived late last week, soaring in the sky above the Flatirons.   



They roost in a tree two blocks away but much to my surprise two of them made themselves at home on a rock at our house for a while the other day.  I was glad when they left!  I like seeing them high above, but don't want all their mess in my yard.  


Around here I'm in face mask making mode, sewing them for family and friends.  It's a perfect project for these times, useful but also fun once you figure out the steps for the type of mask you've decided to make.   I love finding fun fabrics to use in my stash, and am enjoying seeing my supplies somewhat dwindle as I use them up.  It'll be fun to restock once we can shop again!


Around here I wish I could say that I'm doing a lot of reading and catching up on Netflix series, but I'm not.  It's still busy here and the days fly by without us needing much distraction, unless you count reading/watching the news.  

But I am enjoying a book that has actually made me laugh out loud....



...and a series that often has me in stitches.


Hope everyone stays well and remember that this, too, will pass.  

Linking to my friend LeeAnna's "I Like Thursdays" at Not Afraid of Color

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Shutdown



Like many places right now, Boulder is under a "stay at home" order.  On Monday, right before the shutdown began, Ben and I did our regular weekly Meals on Wheels route, ran a few errands, and picked up a carryout lunch from Pearl Street mall.   Already the usually bustling streets were almost empty, with just a few homeless folks sitting around, a few walkers, and small groups of what looked like "at loose ends" tourists.

We ordered curbside service from Zoe Ma Ma's, a very popular place which usually has a long line out the door and crowds at the counter seating inside and out.  On Monday at 2:00 we were about the only customers.



Our grocery stores are well stocked except for toilet paper, flour, and mac & cheese, so we aren't hurting for food.  We can even get delicious meals from several of the great local restaurants, though we have to pick it up and eat at home.


The stay at home order specifies "no private gatherings" and for the moment anyway we are alone at home with no company.  This is tough; I really miss the casual visiting with friends and family that we've enjoyed since we've come to Boulder.  Last Friday was the last of such pleasures, when Ray and Paula and That Handsome Dog Gus were over.  I always love to see Paul in action with the two dogs,  keeping them occupied with some well-timed training sessions while the owners visit.

Do you see how long Paul's hair is?  Barbers, hair salons, and dog groomers are all closed for the duration, which is going to make for some interesting new styles around town! 


One of sad fallouts of all this is that my trip to DisneyWorld with my wonderful sister Jean her for her birthday had to be cancelled.   I sent her this cute Mickey Mouse jacket as a promise that we'll take that trip sometime in the future. 


In my last post I mentioned that we were due for a snowstorm, and we sure got one.  Eight inches of heavy wet snow fell the end of last week, leaving behind some pretty scenery.  Here's a photo from an early morning hike I took with Paula and Gus after the storm.  We were the first to break this part of the trail!


There were reports that we might get another three inches this Friday but now I see that's been downgraded to just a wet and grey day, so that's good.  After the big storm we did get some outdoor fun in while trying maintain the proper 6-feet of "social distancing."   I guess this photo is evidence of how that didn't always work despite good intentions!


The snow is all gone now and we've had some lovely warm sunny days.  Ben and I tried a new hiking area out north of town the other day and found ourselves in the middle of a field full of prairie dogs.  You can't see them in this photo but their dens are all over the right side of the picture.


As you can imagine, Turbo was quite interested in these new critters, and we had to show him the sign that said "No chasing!"


Well, I'm linking this post to my friend LeeAnna's "I Like" Thursdays, so here's a few things I'm enjoying now.

Now that we are actually in the shutdown and not just running errands to get ready for it I hope Ben and I can move ahead in watching Babylon Berlin on Netflix.  It's set in pre-Nazi Berlin and is dark enough that we can only handle one episode at a time.  It has several seasons, so we have something interesting to watch for a while. 


I also have plenty to read, as I'm slowly making my way through Donna Leon's mystery series featuring Guido Brunetti, a police commissioner in Venice.


The next season of Outlander on Starz is well underway and while I was exploring Starz offerings the other day I found a cute, light  movie to enjoy called New in Town.  If you have Starz and are in the mood for something fun, check it out. 


Looks like the coming weeks will bring tons of time to sew, garden, walk, read, and watch shows, if only I can make myself stop following the news all the time.  And, of course, if we don't get sick.  

Linking to my friend LeeAnna's "I Like Thursdays" at Not Afraid of Color