Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Counting My Blessings

There are so many things to be thankful for,
 including our families that aren't here with us and our good friends who are, 
for good health and good luck, 
for actually getting ourselves out here to Boulder 
and for all the good memories of our times back east.   

Here are a few specific blessings I've counted recently.   

I put Spikey in the kitchen window a few minutes ago to catch some sun while I wrote my blog.  He loves sitting there, but today something spooked him and he leapt from the window and onto the floor, landing with a splat on his tummy.   I screamed, Ben and Paul came running, and Spikey  puffed up his neck and turned black in the way Beardies do when they are distressed or mad. Very scary.  

So I count my blessings that Spikey has survived this accident.  He is now back in his habitat clawing at the glass to get out, so he seem okay.   Oddly enough, I quite like him and would be sad if anything bad happened to him.  

I feel the same way about Fetcher, and say thank you when he comes home safely every night after running around outside during much of the day.   Of course, he isn't supposed to be on the table, but he's so darn cute.

I'm so happy to see the holiday lights starting to come on around town.  When the sun goes down so early and there are so many more hours of darkness,  Christmas lights really help cheer things up.  This shot was taken the other night when the Pearl Street mall lights were turned on.

And I'm glad that we are all done buying furniture for our new house!  Yesterday the new rug and new green leather chair for the living room arrived, so the living room is now complete.  The rug from the living room was moved to the den and makes that room feel nice and cozy.   Buying new furniture is a big responsibility and I'm glad it's over.

Another good thing is that Ben is rock climbing, in the gym when the weather is bad and outside when it is mild.  I'm excited for him and glad that he is a reliably safe climber.   Here's the view from the top of the first Flatiron, which he climbed a few weeks ago with his friend Kent.  Looks pretty high up to me!

I'm happy that we are doing so much hiking and that I've found a water aerobics class that I really like.  Even though there was a dusting of snow early this morning, I still got up and drove over for the 8:00 class.   That's how good it makes me feel.   As a benefit, the views from the rec center towards the mountains is usually fabulous.   This shot is from this morning, when the wispy clouds were moving over the mountains.  

Paul is back to eating pancakes in the morning, but this time they are from a whole wheat mix AND he mixes them up himself!   I still get them on the griddle and make the first flip, but then he takes over and finishes cooking them.  He's growing up, which is mostly a joy to see.  I say "mostly" because this afternoon he is getting his hair dyed turquoise again, but this time it's all his hair, not just the tips.  I'm not so crazy about this, but he's paying for it and it is his hair.  Being Paul's mother is sometimes challenging but is surely one of my great blessings.

But we are getting too serious and I meant for this list to be fun, so let's end with how much I smile whenever I see the new color on my fingernails.  It doesn't have a name, being known just as "Number 85" according to the nail technician.  I think I'd call it "In the Mood" since it makes me feel in a holiday mood.  And thank heavens for gel manicures!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!  We are making pumpkin pie and homemade ice cream and taking them to Ray and Paula's where we'll be having Ray's paella.  Should be a lovely day.  

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Girls Rule!

I've been having fun the past two days working on a quilt  featuring a cute "Girls Rule!" fabric.  This fabric and two others were pulled together by another quilter, packaged as a quilt kit with directions for making the quilt, and given to a local quilt guild as a contribution to the quilt's "Community Outreach Program."  I attended the guild's meeting Thursday and picked up the kit to work on as a Thanksgiving service project.   I cut out the fabrics on Friday and started sewing it today.   Once I figured out a problem with the directions (the rectangles needed to be cut 8 1/2' wide, not 9 1/2") it's been going together pretty quickly and I've been enjoying working on a "no brains" sewing project.   Eventually it will end up with a foster child who will attend camp this summer through the ministry of the church where the quilt guild meets, which is pretty cool.  

While I sewed today I watched Catching Fire on Netflix, which was good prep for seeing Mockingjay, Part 1, which opened this weekend.

 We're expecting strong winds tomorrow so we decided to do a big hike today, even though we had been out yesterday as well.  We did something new, the Foothills trail and then up the Hogback trail in north Boulder.

Aren't these views looking east out towards the plains beautiful?  Well, let me assure you that they were hard won!  We hiked about a mile and ahalf up, up, up on snowy and icy trails and then another mile and ahalf down, down, down, on more snowy and icy trails.  So hard!

Our friend, Lotus, came with us, and was undaunted by the uphill challenge.  She used to guide Outward Bound trips.  Girl's rule!

When we got home I relaxed by sewing while Ben took a nap, went food shopping, and then cooked us a wonderful dinner of fennel and onion risotto.  Umm, so good.  

Paul had a good day also, attending one karate class and helping to teach two others.  It's the first day of a week long break from school and he's a happy boy. 

My mind is now on quilting and when I saw this funny water jar in the store I wondered how I could incorporate it in a Christmas quilt.  I have an idea which I'm ready to try out as soon as I finish the Girl's Rule quilt top.  Watch this spot!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Winter Hike

Ben and I had planned to do a long hike yesterday but when we woke up and heard the wind howling I had second thoughts.  The weather forecast included a "high wind advisory" which was making our mid-thirties temperature seem quite a bit colder.  But the kids at the school across the street came out to  play in the snow and wind at recess and  I thought "If they can be outside, so can I."  So we set off to do the four-mile round-trip Fowler Trail in El Dorado Springs, about a fifteen minute drive from our house.  

The wind was amazingly strong.  It looks calm in these photos, but trust me, it was so strong that it blew Ben's knit hat right off his head and at some times I had to dig my ski pole into the snow to keep from being pushed backwards.  It gave a whole new meaning to the term "headwind."  Despite that, the scenery was gorgeous and it was a treat to see the snow contrasting with the green pines and the brown, red, and green rock walls of the canyon.  I thought we were quite adventurous to be out in the snow and the wind, but we weren't alone;  we ran into several small groups of other hikers, all of whom smiled brightly at us as they greeted us with calls of "What a great day for a hike!"  Indeed, it was. 

About a quarter of this hike is a nature trail that we have been on several times, most notably in 2000 when we stayed in Boulder for several weeks after Paul was born and we were waiting for the adoption paperwork to clear.   I hunted up these old photos to remember that special time.

Ah, so much has changed since then.  It's reassuring to know that the grandeur of the canyon walls and the beauty of the area are enduring even though everything else changes.  

On another note....

I have to show you what I saw the other day when I was out shopping:

Yes!  Can you believe it?  I'm really wondering just who would buy a "fresh cut" Christmas tree a week before Thanksgiving.  It does make you wonder.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Out in the Snow

Yesterday was warmer--the thermometer went up all the way to 35 degrees-- and sunny, so like any good Boulderites Ben and I went out for a hike.  We walked up to Chautauqua where we found well trod paths and a clear view, all quite beautiful in the snow.  It felt good to be out in the crisp air getting some exercise that was different from shoveling snow.  

Walking on the sidewalks through the neighborhood wasn't as much fun since not everyone was mindful of the city ordinance to have your sidewalks cleared within twenty-four hours of the end of a snowfall, and we had to be careful not to slip on the packed snow.  

Later we went over to Ray and Paula's for dinner and had an enjoyable evening with them.  Paula instructed me in the ways of winter survival, recommending that we get a couple pairs of ice grippers to put on our shoes for traction on the unshoveled sidewalks.  I'm picking some up today.

 We had a great dinner of fried eggplant and Picadillo, a Cuban meat sauce.

The eggplant slices were first dredged in cornstarch, then egg, and then bread crumbs before being fried.  All that coating seemed to keep the eggplant from absorbing a lot of oil, resulting in a crisp outside and an almost custard like inside.  It was so delicious that I'm including the recipe here.  

Ben and I contributed homemade vanilla ice cream.  Paula and I poured some of this coffee liquor  over ours, which made it amazing.    

It is supposed to snow all day here, maybe totaling as much as six inches before it's done tonight.  I'm actually going to drive in the snow here for the first time, using Ben's car to get Paul to karate and getting some things done downtown while I'm out this morning.  Tonight Ben and I are going to the CU Women's basketball game.  People here don't let the snow stop them.  While I've been typing this I've seen several cars drive by, about six people walking their dogs, several people out walking and two people actually jogging.  So today I'm going out in the snow as well.  Wish me luck!  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

It's True

It's true; Boulder schools don't close for snow.  At least not when there are nine inches on the ground and two to four more inches forecast for the day, with an early morning temperature of three degrees expected to climb to five!  Baby, it was cold and snow-covered this morning but there was still a green light on the Boulder Valley School District web site, meaning "Get out of bed, dig out your car, and get your kids to school!"  So different from how it worked back in our old home in Maryland.

But it seemed like everyone here was with the program and sitting by the warm fire in my living room, I had a birds-eye view of the arrivals at the Flatirons Elementary School across the street from us.

Reminding myself that I was now retired and didn't have to go out in bitter cold weather if I didn't want to, I blew off my water aerobics class and then my art history class, both of which involved driving (I'm not taking my cute little new car out in nine inches of snow!) or walking more than a mile (brr....).    When Ben came back from dropping off Paul I did rouse myself to help shovel our two long walks and take a few photos of our house in the snow.  

And I went along as a passenger when Ben picked up Paul later in the day.  You know it's cold when Paul puts on a coat!  (Though he's wearing tennis shoes in all that snow.)

We took the long way home to drive up to Chautauqua to see the Flatirons in the snow.  So pretty.

 Of course it wasn't just the kids who kept on with their regular activities despite the snow; people went to work and shopped and did other ordinary things as it snowed lightly throughout the day.  We even had a new chair delivered to us today at the scheduled time; no weather delay there.

It's supposed to warm up into the teens tomorrow and into the thirties on Friday.  Meanwhile, I'm hanging out by the fire.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cozy Day with Snow

It snowed three inches last night and is still snowing with a current high of 16 degrees, according to our outside thermometer.  

We all think it is wonderful that we get to relax and enjoy our first real Colorado snow all cozy at home.  This isn't because of the snow --school is rarely cancelled in Boulder because of snow -- but because it is Veteran's Day and the schools are closed for the holiday.  

It will still be snowy and freezing tomorrow for school and water aerobics and saxophone lesson and hiking all the other things that take us out of the house on a regular day, but today we are snug at home.  

Here's a photo sequence of "no photos, please" Paul snuggling on the daybed which I thought was delightful.