Thursday, June 30, 2011

a stay at home evening...

We've been so busy the past week, I feel like I'm passing myself coming and going.

Summer is a busy time anyway, with the yard and garden work added onto my regular house and barn work... and this year has been especially busy because I'm doing the finishing work on the basement as well. So my days are a blur of watering, staking, weeding and mowing... quick trips to the barn to feed, groom, water... laundry, cooking, and inside work... and painting, staining, caulking, etc. in the basement. This week R's been working at the VBS-type program at our church, so things are even a little busier than usual.

So I really appreciated yesterday evening... There was no softball practice or other activity to take the kids too, and they were both tired and went to bed early. I pulled out the dulcimer and played for awhile... playing some old songs and working on a new one I'm learning. The house was dim and quiet (except for me!), with just one light on where I was sitting, and the dogs were spread around my feet fast asleep.

It was a very nice evening... a little recharging for the rest of the week.

The dogs are my constant companions. Quin and Cody compete with each other to lie closest to me. This time Quin ended up on the step just above the old rocker where I sit to play...


...and Cody at my feet, resting against the dulcimer case.


Emma, our old girl... who doesn't have a competitive bone in her body...was just a few feet away, lost in the deep, blissful, sleep of canine old age and deafness.



It was such a lovely evening...

Monday, June 27, 2011

the behemoth moves...

Since shortly after my mom passed away in 2003 I've been storing some things for my brother Steve. Things that would be hideously... impossibly... expensive to ship to his home in Ireland.

Most of the things I'm storing are small, carefully wrapped, and packed in boxes in the storage area of my basement. I don't mind storing Steve's things. In fact, I kind of like it. Even though he lives thousands of miles away in Ireland... I feel like I've got a little piece of him here.


Well maybe I have more than a little piece of him... Because one of Steve's things that I'm storing is HUGE. It's a behemoth of a roll top desk.

It's oak.

It's very heavy.

And it's been lurking in my basement for years.

We recently finished the basement and I was forced to reorganize the little storage area I have down there. As I tried to figure out how to make the best use of the space, I kept looking at that monster desk, thinking of the different ways I could reorganize the room if it wasn't down there taking up so much space.

Early one morning as I stood in the storage room pondering... again... how make a more usable space, I impulsively decided the desk had to go. Now. The workers would be doing the finish work on the door into the room later that day and if I was going to move the desk out it was now or never.

(No, it's not really too big to fit through a door but it would have been awkward and difficult to maneuver through a small, newly finished area.)

So I called R downstairs (she's my best moving-heavy-things buddy) and we started taking the desk apart and moving the pieces upstairs.

I took all three of us (we'd forced M into helping by then) to move the big roll top, but we got it up the stairs and moved into place without a single mishap.

I felt kind of funny about moving the desk. Not only is it not mine, it's Steve's... but it was my father's desk and almost sacred when we were kids. We were NOT allowed to play or mess with it... or even open the roll top!

I was extra careful. (And could almost imagine Dad looking over my shoulder... supervising our every move!)

We put it back together again and I oiled it well with orange oil (I wonder when they last time it had ANY oil?), and it just gleams.

I think it looks at home in it's corner of the living room... it shares the space with the deacon's bench that's also been in our family forever.

Steve... it's still yours... I promise... I'm just storing it in a different room. ;)

And just for fun... siblings, what to you know/remember about the desk? I thought Dad bought it used and refinished it... Is that right? Anything else you can add to the desk's history?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

my series of unfortunate (and fortunate) events

The other day Renee at A Baker's Dozen wrote a post about her Series of Unfortunate Events at Church. I love reading Renee's blog and felt her pain as one thing led to another for her that chaotic Sunday morning.

Last night we had our own Series of Unfortunate Events, so... believing that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery... I've decided to post my own series of unfortunate events (with a few fortunate events mixed in too... )

R was signed up to participate in the Miss Colorado Pageant last night as a "special princess". It's really a wonderful opportunity for girls connected to Special Olympics to be partnered with one of the Miss Colorado contestants and to be introduced with them on stage at the pageant. We aren't pageant kind of people (it kind of doesn't really go along with mucking out stalls and digging around in the garden!) but we've done it a couple of years anyway... it's fun for R to exchange her normal wardrobe of jeans and mud boots for a dress and heels once in a while.

Anyway... the pageant was last night. It was up in downtown Denver and we had to be there at 5, which meant a 30 mile drive through Friday night (the worst!) rush hour traffic. M was staying home with Ruth (his
respiteformer respite provider), so it was just R and I to get dressed up and ready to go. I'd retighened R's locs that morning, curled them, and wove tiny silk flowers into them, she was wearing her FAVORITE dress of all time and new high heels and jewelry. But 3:15 we were ready to go. (Yes it would take that long to get to town... plus we had to pick up some prescriptions on the way.)
Unfortunately Ruth was late getting to the house... which made us late getting on the road. Ruth has been doing respite for us for a couple of years so I didn't think I needed to give her detailed instructions... she knows about M's GI problems and that he can't just eat all the time while we're gone, and she knows he can be edgy and just needs to be "handled" most of the time. So I quickly got out his bedtime meds, told her what I'd planned for them to have for dinner, and we left.

Unfortunately the car was almost out of gas. There was barely enough to get to the gas station... much less all the way to Denver. So we stopped to fill up. It seemed to take forever...

Unfortunately now we didn't have enough time to stop for the prescriptions. The pharmacy isn't open on the weekends, and M couldn't wait until Monday, so a quick call to Joe... Could he pick up the meds? (Fortunately he could... whew... one thing off my plate!)

Unfortunately traffic was terrible... stop and go the whole. way. into. Denver. It was also HOT outside (at least for here) up in the 90's. This will become important later.

Unfortunately I missed my turn for the parking garage (just slightly lost) and was circling around (through downtown Denver at rush hour!) when M called in a panic. R took the call and told him I couldn't talk. I was busy trying to figure out which lane to stay in, where the entrance to the parking garage is, and how to avoid being hit by the taxi the was swerving around me.

Unfortunately M couldn't wait so as I pulled into the parking garage entrance I took the phone from R because, by that time, M was completely falling apart. He was crying and starting to disconnect..  Ruth had tried to force him to do something (or not do something) by threatening him with no dinner. What?! Was she trying to trigger an episode? And anyway... she can't withhold his dinner.  M was frightened (when he starts to disconnect he becomes paranoid), afraid to go into the house with her, was in the garage (full of potentially dangerous things) alone, was falling apart, and I was 30 miles away. I paid the parking garage attendant as I talked to M, grabbed the parking stub, and drove through the garage and parked the car without really paying any attention to anything but M.

Fortunately we made it to the pageant in time. R looked stunning, her friend A was there so R was thrilled, and R is independant enough that I was able to keep trying to talk M down while she joined the rehearsal for their part of the pageant. I hung up long enough to call Joe to tell him to get home quickly and get Ruth out the door because M was escalating, then called M back and kept him on the phone until Joe was almost home.

Once the rehearsal was over there was time for pictures with a lovely backdrop (and a professional photographer posing the girls while he also took their pictures). Finally off the phone with M I pulled out the camera to take a slew of pictures of my beautiful daughter...

Unfortunately I'd forgotten the memory card at home, in the computer, and couldn't take a single picture.

The pageant went well. R was paired with "Miss Littleton"...  a sweet, lovely, girl, and they had lots of time to visit and plan their short "routine" for the pageant. R looked amazing on stage... so poised and happy. After her part was done we stayed and watched the rest of the pageant, until we were both tired, hungry (no time for dinner earlier, and it was 9:00 by then), and headachy from all the noise and commotion. At intermission we left and headed for the parking garage.

Unfortunately I'd been so busy trying to calm M down when I was parking the car, that I had no memory of parking it. I wasn't worried though.. I'd memorized the elevator we needed to take us to where we had parked. (I did think to do that!) So we took that elevator (level 4, elevator 5) and expected to see the car someplace close.

Unfortunately it wasn' t there. We looked all over level 4 and our car was definitely not there. Poor R's feet hurt by then, but I couldn't just leave her someplace while I found the car, so she followed along behind, sore feet in high heels, as I looked up and down the rows. It seemed unlikely that someone would steal an older Kia Sedona...  Where had I left the car?!

Fortunately after 20 minutes or so of looking, I decided to check level 5 elevator 4 and found the car right away. We were sooo happy to see it, and we immediately started deciding where we could find a quick dinner because, after all the walking, we were even more tired and hungry than we had been before.

Unfortunately this parking garage has a policy that without your parking stub you can't leave the lot without paying the maximum parking fee ($33!).

Unfortunately I couldn't find my parking stub  (I'd been so focused on calming down M, that who knows where I'd put it!)  But I'd already paid... and I was hungry, tired and wanted to go home. I was able to show them the receipt from when I'd paid going into the lot but, at first, that wasn't enough.

Fortunately they decided to make an exception to their rule and let us go... without paying again. (Although I did get a lecture about keeping the stub!)

Unfortunately we'd only driven three blocks when the car died.

Unfortunately it died on Colfax, right in the middle of town, six lanes... cars zooming around us, horns honking. I tried to get it to start... but it was not happening.

Unfortunately R's anxiety immediately kicked into high gear and she was close to total panic, especially when a couple of homeless guys came walking up to her window.

Fortunately they were just asking if they could push us out traffic. I said yes. What sweet guys.

Unfortunately the only place they could push us to was into a bus lane.

Fortunately I have AAA.

Unfortunately they said it would take 90 minutes to get there.

Fortunately R's anxiety was starting to calm down because...

unfortunately I'd left her anxiety medication at home.

Fortunately the tow truck was there in about 45 minutes (much better than 90!)... he hooked up the car and we headed towards home.

Fortunately the tow truck driver was really nice because...

unfortunately it took an hour to get home.

Unfortunately R's anxiety kicked in again, riding in such a BIG and noisy truck and I had to " talk her through" the whole ride home.

Fortunately we got home safe and sound (as did my car) and the tow charge was less than I expected, and the beeping of the tow truck didn't wake M up (who'd had a decent evening once Joe had sent Ruth home, and took him out for dinner!).

Fortunately it appears the car had just vapor locked (too much heat on the slow ride up there) and started right away once we got it home.

Fortunately it didn't break down on the highway or on the way to the pageant.

Fortunately R was still awake enough once we got home, paid the tow truck driver, and ate something (dinner at 11, how cosmopolitan!), for a few pictures.

Fortunately they turned out pretty good. Don't you think?



It was a wild evening, but I'd do it all again in a heartbeat for this smile....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Canine Boredom (aka Cody's Lament)

What's a little dog to do?

He's on duty 24/7 fearlessly defending the house against any and all threats...

and yet, for all he does for them... his humans don't even have time to take him for a walk.

He wants to GO someplace... explore the world... and they just sit at the desk doing something they call school.

Why they would think sitting still marking in books is more interesting than taking a walk, he'll never know. If they would just pay attention to what he's telling them and get up and take him around the block he'd be the happiest dog ever. He could smell all the smells, mark all the mailboxes (trees, rocks, weeds, etc) along the way, bark at the other dogs (cats, rabbits, deer, etc) he runs across. He could show the whole neighborhood once and for all that this territory is HIS.

How can he convince them to stop what they are doing and take him for a walk?

Suddenly, inspiration hits...

Steal their marking stick! No more marking stick = no more school = time for a walk!!

 With great stealth and cunning he steals it and runs. They'll never catch him... he is master of the universe, king of the canines... the fastest, smartest dog ever!

Why are they laughing?

Why aren't they snapping his leash onto his harness?

Oops... they took the marking stick back when he wasn't looking. They are sitting down at the desk again.

Sigh... humans can be so difficult.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

surprise in the pasture...

Each June we anxiously wait to  see the first new mule deer fawns of the year. A couple of weeks ago the doe's bellies were wide, giving them a slowed down, awkward look and gait... now the does are slim again and we are starting to see the tiny new fawns.

The other day I looked out the back window and saw a doe nursing a new fawn out in the back pasture, partially hidden in the cover of the old elm trees down in the wide part of the gully. A bit later I was out by the gully, bringing Murphy and Tucker in from grazing, and as I walked them in, the doe, who was now over in the far corner of the gully was startled by us walking by and took off... bounding up and over the hill.

I knew her fawn must be close by someplace (when they are brand new the does seem to keep them hidden away most of the time, coming back frequently to nurse them) so after I took the big guys back to the barn I got the kids and we went back out to see if I could find the fawn.

At first I couldn't see anything... I looked around in the bushes bordering the area where I'd seen the doe, searching for any sign of a spotted fawn in among the leaves and grass growing underneath. I was so busy looking in the bushes I hardly looked down, and so was surprised to suddenly see a tiny fawn curled up in the sun dappled grass almost at my feet.

He was only a few hours old... too young for any fear of us... but I knew we needed to be careful and quick about admiring him... that if he cried, his mother would be back and we'd be in danger.

We didn't touch him, but were amazed at his tiny perfection. His huge deer eyes calmly watching us, never moving from his spot curled up in the grass.

I love watching the new fawns following their mothers on their impossibly tiny legs.

When they are very young their back legs look too long to match their front legs and as they walk they pick them up in exaggeratedly high steps. And last year's babies, the yearlings, are on their own more now and the little bucklings are growing their first nubs of antlers and seem to feel quite full of themselves.


I love the gift of watching a doe guiding her new twins across the front pasture...


Living here is such a blessing.

Monday, June 6, 2011


... was the word that popped into my head first thing this morning.

The sun was up already and streaming in the window. It's been a brilliant red sun both at dawn and dusk the past few days (maybe a lot of dust in the air?). It looks a little strange, but it's beautiful.

I had been awake for awhile, but the magpies got me up and moving. The past few days our yard has become a nursery for fledgling magpies.. and they are noisy! There are magpies nesting in the big pine tree in the back pasture (right outside the back yard) and although I've heard them fussing for food several times, it wasn't until Saturday that I caught my first glimpse of them. There were 5 babies (one has since died) and they spent Saturday hopping and fluttering around the backyard, while their parents spent the day chasing and pecking at anything (including people and dogs!) that dared to come into the yard.

(magpie babies in the ponderosa pine in the back yard)


The babies were in the backyard again early this morning, and their parents were back to chasing off anything that came close. Their raucous calling got me up and I started the day by propping myself up on the window sill and watching the craziness of those baby birds and their overprotective parents.

And the word that came to mind was idyllic.

The pasture beyond the back fence is green from all the rain we've had, the gardens are in and growing, and the perennials are up and some are even starting to bloom.

The kids were out flying kites in the back pasture yesterday, and Joe's felt well enough to take some short evening walks with the kids and I. (And Murphy... we take Murphy along because Joe loves leading him, and Murphy, of course, loves the opportunity to see a bit of the world!)

(magpie parents keeping track of me while I try to take pictures of their babies)

Maybe it seems especially peaceful and serene... idyllic... because of Joe's recent health crisis. He's MUCH better now, almost back to normal... He might even get to go back to work in another week or so.

There is nothing like a crisis to make one appreciate the blessings of an ordinary day...