Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Peaceful Time of Year

Aaaaahhhhh. Christmas is over. Ours was quite nice and every year I seem to have more gratitude for my family and friends - and my life. We were kind of easy going about Christmas this year. Got a permit for a tree and found one in the National Forest up Beulah way. It was a beautiful day in a way that only Colorado can be.

Got that puppy home, put lights on her....and only hung about ten ornaments (my favorites, of course). I just ran out of enthusiasm - and the tree was rather pretty without the decorations anyway. I didn't send cards - although Jerry sent some to his side of the family. He picked them out and they were kind of extreme Western. A bit too extreme for a Detroit girl. Cowboys decorating tumbleweeds and that sort of thing.

I did make some torrone and it was delicious this year. I ate a lot of it. Didn't finish the gifts I had chosen to make, either. That was okay, too. When I think of all the things I didn't do this year, it's quite incredible to say that this Christmas seemed so very right.

Have a wonderful New Year! Love to you.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

DNA and Thanksgiving

For my birthday Jerry got me a DNA test kit (Bio Pet)to determine Felicia's canine heritage. The results came back yesterday. I can't remember if I've posted a photo of our new pound puppy so here's one to ponder. I'm sorry, but this whole thing is probably more fascinating to me than anyone else. Anyway, here she is -

Now....what would you guess makes up this mutt? We were sure that it would be some type of hound - beagle or harrier - and not sure what else. She's slender and fast and it's true that she could care less about picking up a scent like a hound would.

As it turns out she is part Bernese Mountain Dog, part Weimaraner, and part poodle. So here's the Bernese Mountain Dog -

The coloring is there for sure. The slenderness and her insistence about chasing the cat is most likely the Weimaraner, right? I gotta add that the test also identified a large amount of chihuahua which seems ridiculous unless you know that our other dog is a chihuahua, otherwise known as BoBo. Their DNA got mixed up in the water bowl I suppose. How fun is that??
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day, all you Americanos.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Shine of the Moon and Sewing for Grandchildren

On my lunch hour today I went into Cañon and shopped for fabric at the little quilt store on Main Street. I intend to make my granddaughter, Delilah, one of these little animal homes.

I actually had this in mind for another granddaughter a couple of years ago but didn't get around to it - and now she's probably too old. And, truth be told, I actually bought the pattern in the early 80's to make for Delilah's mother. I think she's definitely outgrown it by now. The pattern makes me happy whether I ever finish it for anyone. I know - that's kinda weird.

Jerry's away to northeastern Colorado minding the private prison mental health system. So every couple of weeks I get the house to myself for a night or two, can make bruschetta yet again with no flack, and feed the sheep a little extra grain just to be a kind shepherdess. They do love me for it and when Jerry returns to the chores I'll bet he wonders why they follow him so eagerly. The moon was wonderfully bright tonight out in the corrals and it was calm. I had to take a few minutes just looking at the stars while everyone munched their grain and hay. Life is good.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Short Days of Winter

I'm a bit sad that the long days are gone for the year. Everything is dark when I leave work for the day. The cold is fine - it's just the short days that are difficult. I am looking forward to doing more sewing, however. There are all these dreams of being productive and making things again. Just as long as I stay away from my after work wine libation. What a lush I can be....jeesch.

Well, anyway. Ater several years of looking around I found my dream sewing machine and bought it for my birthday. She's about 40 years old already and as sleek as an Italian sports car. The Necchi Silvia Maximatic. Whooo-whee!
She's beautiful, right? Her straight stitch sister, the Mirella, is the only sewing machine that has a place in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Last night I tried her out for the first time. The tension was off and the mechination is just that much different from my other machines that it took some time to adjust. But now the stitches are beautiful and she hums in a very well made manner.

I'm going to finish this wall hanging with my new Necchi. Tilly from England gifted me with these charm squares of Arcadia by Moda last year. I started a wall hanging and, of course, didn't complete it. Now that the days are short I just might get it done.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pinecone Wonders

This morning on a little hike, I discovered hundreds of pine cones on the trail. It is the time of year for them to fall I suppose (you know, the Fall?) but, believe it or not, I hadn't given them enough consideration over the years. I was struck by how beautiful a pine cone is - they are just perfect pieces of nature - and wanted so much to bring some home with me. The thought of making firestarters came to mind - and, in fact, I was rather obsessed with the usefulness of the idea. We have quite a few of the ponderosa pines on our place - up on the ridges and down in the arroyos - and when I got home I picked up some gathering bags and spent an hour or so collecting them. It was a lovely time - such purpose and beauty all around me.

The scrub oak has lost its leaves and they join the long pine needles on the floor of the forests. The sun was shining, the sky was blue - and I had two bags of great looking pine cones. I tried to teach Felicia to fetch them, too, but she only brought them back if I threw them first. Back at the house I found an old candle making kit that one of the girls didn't take with them when they moved out. It contained several pounds of paraffin beads and a couple of yards of woven wick. I melted the wax in a double boiler, tied a 4 inch piece of wick around each cone, and dipped the whole cone into the wax. The wick didn't go as far as I had hoped (after all, I did gather over two hundred cones) but Jerry told me cloth strips would work well, too. And so they did. I had to try them out after I'd made several firestarter cones.

Those little buggers burned for about 7 minutes. Who would have thought? I am making some for all our friends who use woodburners.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Well, it's my birthday today and being 57 is really just fine. My coworkers and I have just about completed "intensive" dialectical behavior training and will be able to go home tomorrow. It's been a fantastic training experience, we've put a lot into this in the last six months, and are ready to move forward with our program when we get back into action.

Went Cajun for the birthday feast and am sitting here absolutely grinning with delight. Just right. Have you ever just walked into a book store without an outward inkling of what you might need to read -- and leave with the perfect tome of wisdom in your hands? Last night it happened to me again and I wonder if it isn't just divine power that makes it so. You know, being almost 60 is very weird in a sense. It's not like we go around our little lives planning on Time to catch up with us. So when I picked up Sue Monk Kidd's "Traveling with Pomegranates" it was intially with some curiousity and admiration for some earlier stuff by her (particularly, "The Dance of the Dissident Daughter"). I bought it, read a few chapters last night and, by golly, it spoke to me. Growing older, my daughters taking the place where I used to reign, finding another place, looking inward at the older, wiser woman I have become. "Old Woman I meet you deep inside myself. There in the rootbed of fertility. World without end, as the legend tells it. Under the words you are my silence." May Sarton as quoted by Sue Monk Kidd.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Still in Denver. Our team finished one presentation today and have the next tomorrow. It is going well. We're expecting Mandy to give birth at any moment but she is here and so is Avery whose flight was delayed by Hurricane Tomas. Whoo-whee. My performance anxiety is subsiding.

I went for a walk outside the hotel this morning through a small neighborhood of apartment buildings. It was better than walking on the treadmill in the exercise room. There are so many lights and cars - one forgets that a city is a mass of humanity and technology. We went to the "Super Target" to see if someone in the pharmacy could get Mandy's blood pressure (she's having some problems with hypertension in this last week of pregnancy) and when it was found to be acceptable we wandered around gaga-eyed about the sheer magnitude of merchandise to be purchased. When you live rural this is a treat, let me tell you.

I'm going to take a bath and read Eudora Welty short stories which I am very much enjoying.

Monday, November 1, 2010


Here I am in Denver for one entire week of training. Woke up this morning at 5:13 to a terrific ping ping pinging on the one outside wall. It's raining and sleeting. I had been dreaming that I was in Southeast Asia - well, somewhere East at any rate - and that I was looking down - from a bridge, perhaps - into a blue, green shallow pool. Three or four happy fish were splashing about and I wondered if they were edible. The dream came with a sense of peace and calm which is fantastic because I have been worrying quite a bit about whether I and my small team of coworkers can pull off this presentation with dignity. There are a number of reasons for my anxiety which are unnecessary to go into here and suffice it to say that if I bit my nails they'd be bitten to the quick. Last night I finally came to an agreement with myself - once again - that what I bring to a moment is sufficient.

So I got up and went down to the exercise room. And walked at an incline of 7% for a half hour. I have no idea what that means but it had the same intensity as my morning walk up the road does except there was nothing to look at. Just walking in a room. I am sufficient to the moment. My mantra.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Rebuilding the Flock

Jerry and I drove the pick up and stock trailer out east to Manzanola early this morning and picked out new three ewe lambs. When we had decided to sell out that included our little sheep flock. And now that we're staying, well.....we need our sheep. These girls are Warhills (Rambouillet, Columbia, Targhee lineage) out of a Wyoming flock. We've always liked the herding qualities of Rambouillet. There's just something about having sheep around a place. In my mind anyway. The burro is Angel - and she is their guardian angel, literally. We've not had trouble with dogs or coyotes getting into the sheep with Angel watching over them.

It's - dare I say it? - unseasonably mild here on the Front Range this year. La Niña weather pattern, I'm told. Gorgeous but always with a touch of anxiety. What if we don't get our moisture? What if, what if.....who can say?

I'm all packed up and ready to travel north to Denver for a training all next week. My coworkers and I have busted our butts getting ready for the second half of this project that began 6 months ago. One of us is expecting a baby next week and another one is caught in Hurricane Tomas. We've got a huge presentation to give and half of us may be somewhere else....well, just pray for us, okay?

Friday, October 22, 2010

End of the Week Delight

Oh my gosh, it's Friday. How wonderful is that? My man is hunting the bull elk and will be gone for..... well, I don't really know how long he'll be gone. Until he gets tired of his buddy, David, I guess. I used to get jealous of hunting season (he spends more time hunting then we've ever had on a vacation) but now I enjoy having the house to myself. I cook something with lots of vegetables (he is not a fan of "green food"), take a bath, talk on the phone to girlfriends. It's fun until I start to miss him.

The good news is that our new pound puppy, Felicia, is settling in well. She chewed up the wicker loveseat that is on the back deck (the next stage after chewing up the cushions) but is trying real hard to relate to Miss May, our cat (who has returned, yay!). Felicia also took all our mudboots out through the doggie door and I had to spend some time finding them all in the yard when I did chores tonight.

I'm going out east to Lamar tomorrow to visit my baby daughter, Madeline. She's working at a feedlot and the long hours are making an impression on her. There's a great little antique store in town that is fun. I found a small Descoware dutch oven there last visit which I use with delight when mixing up cooked vanilla pudding. It will not stick to the bottom of that pan.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I adopted a dog from the pound last week. She was very sweet, responsive, and quiet when I visited her there and seemed like the kind of animal who would fit in anywhere. They called her "Felicia" and we've kept that name because she looks like a Felicia might look. She was abandoned in an alley behind a business in Cañon City, tied to her doghouse. The photo above is Felicia on the first night in her new home. She was tired.
She's still very sweet and responsive. But.....she is always in motion. Always. Miss May, the cat, has been treed a couple of times and now I can't find her. And Felicia ripped up the porch cushions today - totally ripped them up, there is foam stuffing everywhere. She won't let the chihuahua be the Boss and he so loves to be that. He's been pouting. A lot. She took her blanket out through the pet door again, it's lying out in the yard somewhere. And she sleeps on any bed in any room with an open door. We've been used to older dogs who have better manners. Felicia is only seven months old and I guess we'll just have to get used to her energy.
I'm enjoying our walks - me, the chihuahua, and the Felicia. She doesn't tug on the leash and seems so happy to be out and about. She hasn't chased the chickens yet which is very mannerly of her. That probably comes later........

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Small and Simple

I am back. That last post of mine was rather bleak, do you agree? I was standing back and judging my little life - and not all that favorably, either. Looking at another way of living and knowing that "This is it, Suzan. It's pretty nice all in all - if you don't let a judgmental attitude trivialize it". It has occurred to me that I like to blog about the smaller, pleasanter events of a life fully lived. It's healing for me.
I work at a mental health center - have for twenty plus years - and much of my work days involve other folks' sorrows. It's honoring work - I'm honored when people trust me with their suffering and allow me to teach them how to turn suffering into mere pain. When I come home I have to teach myself - over and over -how to let go of their pain and return to my own life. Some days I can do this easier than other days. I think maybe that last post was a day when I could just not shake off the day, week, month just past. On those days I wonder what it's all about, whether I'm any "good" at all. It's as if their suffering is somehow my fault - and, truly, I do know better. I know intellectually that I am not responsible - it's the emotional knowing that is more elusive.
It's a fine Fall day here in the southern Rocky Mountains. Worthy of my comment for sure.
The scrub oak are jewels of ruby, rust, and burnt orange. It's that very glorious time of year where the autumn mingles with the season just past. The air is clear and dry, the sky is that incredible blue, and the day is just cool enough to wear long sleeves. No freeze yet, but soon. The wood is stacked on the porch, pumpkins are waiting to turn ghoulish, and herbs in pots still soak up the now, decidely southern, sunshine. Cornstalks by the front door celebrate and boast of our bountiful year. Golden aspen leaves that turn in one short day and glow on the black soil when they fall.

Small, simple pleasures for sure. And today I treasure them.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I think a blog should have a point, don't you? The fact of the matter is that my blog seems to have no point. In other words, who really cares what I made for supper or what I saw on my walk? Or how 'bout what I've knitted? THAT should be interesting reading. Whoo whoo! And those things pretty much sum up my days. Wait.....how about what I'm gathering in my garden??? That's a real turn on, isn't it??? Ahhh, come on. Don't you want to know??

I gotta think about this. It seems important to me that I write a blog that has meaning, imparts knowledge and wisdom. If I can't think of anything to write in those veins, does it mean that my life....has.....no......point? No wisdom? Egads. Mustn't go in that direction. No sir. Stay away from that.

Chop wood, carry water. Life's purpose. I mean, those little things that we do - and that so many of us, me included, have blogged on and on about with photos - really are the events of a lifetime. Somehow, all those short days of doing what we must do make up our lives. And somehow along the way we become wise to this. It's always been good enough for me. I dig knitting and garden produce. I just don't want to blog about it anymore.

Well, I'll think of something to write. What do you think? What's your life's purpose?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Squash Soup and Bettas

It's windier here today and I do hope that means some cooler, wetter, more Fall-ish weather. My garden is almost done and it's hard to keep enough water on it for the straggling zukes and carrots. There are three surprise cantaloupe growing, too. We have no idea how they got there because we've never grown cantaloupe in this high altitude garden. Gift cantaloupe. The seed must have come in with the butternut squash.

Jerry's bringing up some corn stalks and pumpkins this evening for porch decoration. Just to get into the autumnal spirit. And I've got butternut squash soup on the menu. It's a luscious, creamy concoction that is totally satisfying. I've thought of the creation of it from time to time today at work and it makes me happy. Kind of goofy, I know. But small delights make up a life, don't they? It's a fairly simple little recipe and adapts to however you like it. My daughter, Madeline, gets the credit for this version:

Squash Soup

2 cups of cooked squash

1 onion, chopped fine

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth

Marjoram, red pepper, nutmeg to taste

Salt and pepper, as you like

Saute the onion and garlic in a heavy pan. Add squash, broth, seasonings. Simmer gently for 15 or so minutes. Use food processor to puree'. Return to heavy pot and simmer for 10 more minutes. Add cream and more broth to get the consistency you prefer. Easy peasy! (It's especially good with cinnamon raisin toast on the side)

The little betta fish that I keep in my office is dying. It's his Time and now he is just languishing on the bottom of the tank. His brilliant blue body is faded to gray and he has been gasping a bit. Oh, the stories he has heard in his life here at the mental health clinic. My coworkers have been stopping in all day to pay their respects to Tick Tock. He has become a part of this passing harvest season, I think.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Full Sleeves for the Aged

So lately I've been having trouble with my forearms. They bruise and tear with the slightest of stress on them. Fishing on Hardscrabble Creek this past summer with all the attending willow brush has just been really hard on them. I've been going to work with bandaids on the rips and people are always focusing on the rather large, bright purple bruises. I keep assuring them that I do not have a blood disorder. Doc told me that it's common among older folks and that it is the result of years of sun damage. Well, these poor old forearms have really been nice to me all these years - and have I thanked them at all? I have tried to keep them covered in sunscreen for my adult life - but when I was a kid it hadn't been invented yet. All those sunburns playing in Lake Huron. Tsk, tsk.

Last Sunday night I looked around the 'Net for a solution. I googled "arm protectors" and found that they are called "Geri-Sleeves" - you know, like for the "geriatric" crowd? I have to admit that I was quite stunned. It floored me, knocked me for a loop...whatever. That Monday at work I felt like I was running, running from something quite horrible until the thought of those Geri-Sleeves popped into my awareness. Now I realize that there are parts of me that at 56 don't work as well as they used to and I'm getting quite comfortable with losing my waistline, my hair color, my teeth (on occasion I have dreams that I've lost them all and the last time this occurred it was all right by golly). But.....good God! How much of this degradation can a person tolerate??? Somehow I think the forearm thing is just the beginning.

So....I checked out Etsy.com and found an artist who makes "arm warmers" . I ordered the "Namaste" pair and a turquoise pair. Very cool, not at all geriatric. I might even go for the full sleeve tattoo look. I'm not running, I'm adapting.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hearts and No Babies

I'm just back from 2 days in the hospital after we all thought I was having a heart attack. The truly crushing chest pain that radiated into my jaw was a bit terrifying to experience. Turns out my heart is really, really healthy - yay - but I tend toward some extreme reflux (? I'd guess you call it that). This was a really, really expensive case of heartburn. I don't even want to guess what my portion of the bill will be. But, get this - I got to see my actual heart beating on an ultrasound machine. It was very pretty - all four valve thingies just pumping away. It was my little miracle for the day.

It is good to be home - I guess I'll be sucking away on Prilosec for awhile. And I'm going back to work tomorrow. There is a part of me that feels rather embarassed and shamed. I think it's the part that dreads to admit to mortality. Jerry and I thought it was rather funny that I carried no "complimentary" baby as I was being wheeled out the door of the hospital this time around.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Home Again and Hay Bucking

It's a real pleasure to be "back home". We've worked really hard to make this place reflect some life values and I now see that I was giving a lot of those up in my mind. We had planned to move to a much smaller place which seemed to make sense at the time - this place wants a lot of love and caring. But I was also giving up my garden and my root cellar dreams (here's a link to a post from Scrub Oak I with a picture of my "root cellar" http://happysheba.typepad.com/happy_sheba_pages/2008/09/jerry-and-i-had-a-bit-of-mix-up-this-weekend-wed-been-planning-tohave-our-daughter-tracys-children-come-for-a-visit-while.html. )I was giving up having enough room for the girls and the grandkids - and, let me tell you, I never realized how I treasure having a houseful of the people that make my life shine. It's strange now that we're staying here how I've stopped seeing the house's faults. They don't even exist anymore. Weird.

The morning promises more rain so I drove the truck for Jerry while he loaded some alfalfa hay. I think I love this time of year more than any other. Everything growing seems to be reveling in bounty. The farmer's markets have stands of colorful fruits and vegetables. The pasture grass is topped in golden grains. Our pumpkins and squashes in the garden intertwine around everything else growing there and escape the garden fence in their journey to produce, multiply, flourish. I don't buck hay - hell, I can hardly pick a bale up - but I do to love to watch the guys!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Dills and Comparisons

The mornings here in Colorado have been beautiful. Rosy glows, soft breezes. I often wish I didn't have to go to work every friggin' work day but, then, I really do think of folks who need jobs or are underemployed. Comparison is a wonderful tool to get you through the day, isn't it?

Today, however, was a stay at home work day. I made dill and sweet pickles. One of my daughter's boyfriend loves those dills. I didn't make enough last year so since he's still around I've pickled his own private supply. He'd better get a job and pop that question soon because this is as far as it goes. (I'll give him a break - he was in Iraq last year.)

I having trouble with this new blog format - the photos that I upload just pop up at the beginning of the blog and I have to cut and paste. Blogger is free however and I just need to figure some things out with it. I know, I know - the banner is klutzy and the layout is not so artsy. But there are veggies and fruits to can and freeze, so when I have more time I'll do something about it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Work Week

Just back to work after a really nice vacation. You know you've had enough time off when you start to wonder about how your coworkers are doing. They all seemed fine and some of them actually missed me - strangely enough, those were the same folks I thought about during the last weekend at home. My little betta fish, Tic Toc, even seemed swimmingly thrilled. These are, of course, the small things that make up a Life - and these same small things also make going to work a satisfying and wholesome part of Life.

It's a suitable August evening on this first day back to work. For dinner I cooked up some chops, applesauce, and Olathe corn on the cob. The sprinkler is whoop whoop whooping in the soft twilight and there is one annoying cricket on the back porch. It's a very loud little guy and he better watch out because Miss May, the cat, is interested. We've got the whole week ahead of us. How will we spend it?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Scrub Oak Redux

How fun to be back. I already lost my first new post. Hmmmm. I'll stay away from religion and social commentary - there are many more folks who can espouse on such in a much more articulate manner than I. Not that these topics aren't wonderful, intriguing, and important. But as the Middle Child inconsummate?... well, Issues just reek of conflict. I really like moving towards Tolerance and Balance in the wisdom of my rather considerable years. After all, that's where I started this journey.

I think we've just made up our minds to keep our place and not sell after all. It's not a great time to sell, for one thing. But that isn't the deciding factor. More importantly, every time someone wanted to look at my home I noticed that I really, really did not want them to come. It wasn't just a matter of cleaning the place up, although holy tamoly, that has been one wretched voice mail to come home to of an evening. "Suzan? This is Barbara, your realtor. Tomorrow morning we have someone coming over to view your home. Hope this isn't too late to call." Ehwewwww! Not at all Barbara, not at all. Just let me clean up that bird the cat vomited on the upstairs landing.

So, I'm back to calling my home, my home. It's important to me. I was feeling very unsettled all in all. Jerry and I have been looking at the finances when he retires and I think we are fine (as fine as any work a day working folk, at any rate - small pensions, a bit of savings, mortgage up the wazoo). You know what has worried me the most about this house selling thing? It has been a worry about whether anyone could possibly like - or rather - fall in love, with my home. Not like I love it. And there is so much wrong with it by today's standards. Clawfoot bath in the master bath - no marble shower at all. In fact, no marble in the entire house. Rickety old gas stove (which needs the oven cleaned quite badly). Smallish closets throughout. Landscaped with love, not money. "Really ugly chicken coop" (could read the realtor's description). And, it's mine.