Intentional peace

Yesterday, we drove Moby the Great White Campervan to the mountains for some rest and relaxation. Our intention was a few hours of peace and rejuvenation. We’d never been there before and were thrilled to claim a small parking area next to Buffalo Creek. I explored with the camera and captured some nice shots. This is where I sat to work on my novel revisions.

Buffalo Creek. June 22, 2022

I sat in a chair on the little patch of beach at the bottom of the photo and revised a chapter on my laptop as Zippy and Emma napped in the van. Rushing water. Clean air. A shiny, green hummingbird buzzing in for a visit.

The entire experience soothed my spirit and, as I type these words, I’m already looking forward to a return visit. May each of us experience peace and rejuvenation in these very difficult days.

Twofer Tuesday: raincatcher edition

Birds frequently perch on the wire outside my kitchen window, but I’ve never seen this before:

June 6, 2022

It’d started to rain and these two Mourning Doves each lifted first one wing and then the other to catch the moisture, and then proceeded to groom themselves.  It was almost like watching synchronized swimmers (although I’m pretty sure the doves didn’t have to hold their breath) and I felt strangely honored to witness their routine.

I just did a quick online search for information about this phenomenon and came across a few posts on forums stating the equivalent of “I didn’t know doves did this” and “Very cool to witness.”

Have any of you seen doves bathing in the rain?

Magic is welcome here

Poppy’s world is a magical place, and it’s the most free part of the entire universe.
~ Poppy

June 19, 2022

Confession: I didn’t know there was a singer-songwriter-YouTube-personality named Poppy, but when I went in search of a poppy-related quotation and happened upon their above quote, found myself in complete agreement.

A poppy is most definitely a magical place. How else to explain these other-wordly images of my neighbors’ front yard poppy-crop?

Gratitude to these trippy flowers for helping me find joy and wonder during these very difficult days. Magic is always welcome here.

It’s been a day, here’s a pretty picture

Until a minute ago, I thought today was Wednesday. All afternoon, I planned to share this photo from Staunton State Park for a “Wordless Wednesday” post.

June 7, 2022

So what took me so long to post the photo?

Well, I used Microsoft’s OneDrive in the early days of the pandemic when  I was doing housing justice work, and somehow today when working on revisions in a Word doc, I activated that stupid program again. And somehow my photos ended up in there? I don’t know. I’m still not sure what’s going on with my computer and am ready to scream, so will stop here and gaze upon that lovely vista. And breathe . . .

Happy not-Wednesday to everyone.

Today’s gift

This morning’s trail run offered up the usual delights that included wildflowers, singing birds, and chirping insects. But I was also gifted with something unusual.

A Bullock’s Oriole! The bright feathers caught my eye and I stopped twice on the trail to watch the brilliant flash of orange as it flew and landed on various yucca plants and rabbitbrush shrubs.

Flight
Alight
Flight
Alight
Flight
Alight
Flight
and then out of sight.

I let out a happy sigh and continued on my way with a smile.

My reign as Domestic Goddess

I am incredibly grateful for the domestic gifts Zippy bestows upon me. Namely, handling all the cooking and grocery shopping. Yes, you read that correctly. I don’t have to cook or shop. Except when it’s absolutely necessary, such as when Zippy has Covid. (Note: he is feeling better although still testing positive).

He first tested positive a week ago tomorrow and hasn’t had much of an appetite. Lucky for both of us. Him, because that meant he wasn’t subjected to my lack of cooking skills and me, because I wasn’t forced to exhibit my low-level kitchen intelligence. Zippy tolerated my quinoa and steamed broccoli (that I daringly “spiced up” with some snap peas and cut green beans) and the minimalist spinach “salads” garnished with halved cherry tomatoes and a splash of balsamic dressing. I skated by until last night.

It all started because I’d noticed a head of kale in the drawer.

Image by azboomer from Pixabay

I worried it was getting a bit droopy and asked what I could make with the kale before it went bad. Zippy replied, “Lots of things” in a tone that implied those many “things” were most definitely beyond my reach. “Like what?” I pressed. “Like “kale and potatoes,” he replied. “I can do that!” I proclaimed.

And Reader, I’m pleased to announce I did do just that. I successfully prepared a meal.  All it required was for Zippy to stay on speakerphone through the entire preparation. Halfway through the conversation when I apologized for being so inept that he had to talk me through the process as if I was defusing a bomb, he admitted our cooking conversation was the most exciting part of his day. Sad commentary on a week spent isolating in the basement. But for me, the excitement I derived from the experience was the fact that (with Zippy’s guidance) I didn’t botch the timing on everything as I have in the past when attempting to create something in the kitchen. I successfully timed:

  • the cooking of the kale
  • the browning of the onions, kale stems, and sprig of rosemary
  • the boiling of the potatoes
  • the adding-in of the kale
  • the final combining and cooking of all ingredients

Okay, that last step took too long and the kale still came out a bit undercooked/chewy. Other than that, I killed it!

But wait, there’s more! Today I went grocery shopping, at two different stores. Not only that, I’ve already returned home and put away the groceries . . . and it’s still daylight! So what if Zippy could have accomplished the same amount of shopping in a fraction of the time it took me? So what if I had to call him from the first store to help me locate the sliced sourdough bread? At the next store, I figured out all on my own where the salad dressing was shelved and confirmed there were no avocados. And is ketchup really necessary?

So, yeah. This past week has been a stark reminder of my very privileged life in which groceries and meals magically occur. For many, many reasons, Zippy and I are both looking forward to a full recovery and him resuming his reign.

Thankful, mostly

After staying safe and healthy for the past 2-plus years, Zippy has Covid and is quarantining in our home. I’ve done two rapid tests that came back negative and this morning felt good enough to do a 4-mile run. That’s very good news. The other very good news is Zippy no longer has a fever (his temperature was 101 on Tuesday when he tested positive). The bad news is I am very much aware that a “mild” case of Covid can cause long-term health issues and am trying hard not to think about the possibility of Long Covid.

Which is why I was exceedingly grateful to be able to run today. It was my first run since the BolderBoulder and I ran up our street to the trailhead, eager to be in my happy place again. About fifteen feet in, there was a broken robin’s eggshell in the middle of the trail. No sign of a nest or baby robins, but that bright blue shell was my first bird-related sighting. A few minutes later, four magpies few over head as another flapped-flapped-flapped to catch up. Farther along the trail, Spotted Towhees sang “sweet-sweet-teeaaaaa.” Later, a Western Meadowlark sang from its perch on a rabbitbrush. Absolute bliss.

But that wasn’t all: a bunny ran across the trail right in front of me! Insects chirped! Several other runners and hikers passed with dogs happy to be out on adventures! A good day to be alive.

There was some sadness, though. For the past couple months, I’ve checked a little round cactus at the turnaround spot, hoping to see signs of life. Hoping it was only temporarily dormant. Today I had to face reality and admit it will never bloom again. Fortunately, Zippy photographed it for me years ago so I have documentation of it in all its prickly and pink glory. Here it is again:

Thank you for the joy you brought me over the years, little cactus. You won’t be forgotten.

Honoring Bob

This past weekend, a whole lot of people gathered to honor and celebrate my brother-in-law‘s life.

I’ve known for decades that Bob was a stellar human being (one of the very best on the planet), but it was still incredible to hear that sentiment expressed over and over again. Every single speaker mentioned the very things that made me love Bob so much: his kindness and lack of judgment, the way he listened so that you felt heard and valued. His generosity and tenacity in his lifelong fight for tenants’ rights and consumer protection. How he used his sense of humor and intellect to punch up, never down. His passion for life and love for his family. His enormous heart.

I laughed and cried throughout the program.

Many comments resonated throughout, but one theme in particular spoke to me: Bob never turned cynical or stopped hoping and believing in a better world.

I felt called-out because this country’s collapse and slide into fascism while the so-called “better party” is in power has made me hugely cynical. I’ve been tempted to give up. But Bob never gave up on justice. He continued fighting for society’s vulnerable and voiceless, up until the very end of his life. If I’m to truly honor Bob’s life,  I must do the same.

I love and miss you so much, Bobaloo. Rest in power, brother.

Bunny Monday

Look at this beautiful bunny. So very mellow and timid-looking.

May 23, 2022

Wrong. This rabbit was sitting there when I came out with my camera to photograph my snow-downed poppies after last month’s big snowstorm. Not knowing it was there, I’d made zero attempt to walk softly. Despite me being practically close enough to tug on its ear by the time I spotted it, this bunny was not at all phased by my presence.

Time to face facts: brazen little bun-buns have taken over the neighborhood. Ah, well. Probably beats an alligator invasion.

In case you’re curious, this is what two feet of wet, heavy snow does to poppies:

Help! I’ve fallen and can’t get up.

Bolder Boulder 10k recap

Yesterday morning, the alarm went off at 4:45 a.m. (I was already awake, lying in the dark wondering if it was almost time to get up) and it was officially race day! We live 45 minutes from Boulder and had to allow time to get to a friend’s where we’d park our car while she drove us to the starting line.  (RTD usually has shuttle buses but due to a shortage of drivers, they cut the service). On the drive to Boulder, the sky had darkened and the wind picked up, so I changed from a short-sleeved to a long-sleeved shirt. Minutes later, the sky cleared and the wind died down. Hooray!

My last Bolder Boulder was in 2016 and I was eager to run. The familiar sound of slamming porta-potty doors made me smile as I warmed up on side streets while Zippy waited in line to drop our bag at the mobile locker. He was still in line ten minutes before our GC wave was set to start, but I was determined to start with my wave so ran ahead to get in place. Volunteers held ropes and signs denoting the G, GA, GB, and GC waves, and I bounced on my toes while listening to Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter (the official starter) announce participants’ birthdays and other notable information such as the 90-year-old (!) woman in the G wave who was running her 32nd Bolder Boulder.

Just minutes before our start, Zippy joined me, and one minute and 50 seconds after the GB wave took off, it was our turn. BAM! That was the last I saw Zippy because I took off (he’s more of a bicyclist than runner), but we saw the same sights along the way.

  • The trampoline where participants were invited to bounce and flip (a woman did a backflip as I ran past).
  • The belly dancers (two different groups of them).
  • The bands. The solo musicians. The Elvis impersonator.
  • The cheerleaders. The dance-school girls that included a tap dancer and hoop-spinners.
  • The families in lawn chairs shaking cowbells. The kids with super-soakers. The baby in the onesie doing “the worm” on the sidewalk.
  • The brewery handing out free cans of beer. A woman with a huge pan of bacon. The group handing out doughnuts. The woman tossing marshmallows (when Zippy ran past, he instinctively put up a hand and ended up catching the marshmallow which he carried until the next aid station where he downed it along with a cup of water).
  • The slip n slides for which runners lined up for their turn to slide on their stomachs through the water before returning to the race.

The course winds through neighborhoods and while running, I scanned ahead to note whether the next turn was a Right or Left, and moved accordingly so as to cut the corners as close as possible. There was also the constant negotiation of choosing the shortest route around other slower runners and walkers, and despite those efforts, my Garmin reports I ran 6.31 miles rather than the official 6.2 miles. Precious seconds lost along the way! But the hardest part of the race for me was the stench of fabric softener that wafted off runners’ sweaty clothing. Fabric softener is air pollution for the chemically sensitive and several times I thought I’d throw up. Fortunately, I didn’t.

And then I was on the final incline into the CU stadium and the finish line. Here’s a screen grab from the stadium video (I’m on the left in white hat, black shirt, and blue shorts):

The video gives you about 15 seconds of your run into the stadium and Zippy pointed there were several moments of me being grumpy-face as I got boxed in by slower runners, but my overwhelming emotion was happiness. I was almost done running a strong race!

And my smile got bigger when I saw my time . . . 55:05. I’d hoped to run 55:00 or under (and would’ve made it had that little kid not cost me precious time when he grabbed the water cup intended for me at the aid station, forcing me to wait for the volunteer to get me another!) But it turned out my performance landed me in eighth place in the F59 division (of which there were 160 participants) which means I get another medal! Zippy also performed well, walking one minute between four of his miles, and we soon met up past the finish line. We masked up to go inside the field house where we collected our snack bags and a beer for Zippy, and then headed back out into the sunshine to stretch and snack.

It was a good day.

Sunday Confessional: out of hiding

The last several weeks have been especially hard days on the planet and I haven’t had the energy to post anything in a while. But we just experienced a brief thunderstorm that’s made the air clean and fresh, and I’m motivated to poke my head out again.

March 1, 2022

Tomorrow is the Bolder Boulder 10k and it’s supposed to be only 50 degrees at the starting time for our wave. That’s fine by me as I prefer running in cooler temperatures, as long as my hands are warm. So I just mended a pair of super-lightweight gloves that I’ll wear with my shorts and short-sleeved shirt.

While I had the sewing box out and the needle threaded, I also mended the sleeve on my Bolder Boulder shirt from 2016 (the last time I ran the race). Now I can wear that shirt again without worrying the sleeve would completely unravel . . . and it only took months for me to take action!

The last time I posted, we were expecting rain and/or a heavy snowfall. We ended up getting rain and then about two feet of snow which was welcome moisture, but also anxiety-producing because of the leafed-out trees. Zippy and I went out four times during the storm to knock snow off branches (note: it’s surreal to smell lilac blooms during a snowstorm). I also tossed balls and a broom in the upper part of our red maple where we couldn’t reach with our poles, but my aim was mostly pitiful.

May 21, 2022

Also, the balls and broom all got stuck. Fortunately, the tree released them back to my custody.

Unfortunately, when prying snow-laden shrub branches with the broom I snapped off the extra handle we’d taped onto it for longer reach. But overall, it was a better outcome than expected in our yard and we only lost two branches. It is heartbreaking, though, to drive around the city and see the many limbs on the ground. Poor trees.

I’ll stop here and wish everyone a good weekend. Be safe and be well. 💚

On rabbits and drought

When glancing out my window the other day, I briefly thought someone had tossed a rabbit carcass in our yard. Happily, this bunny was very much alive. The same can’t be said for our “lawn.”

May 15, 2022

The neighborhood has been bunny-rich for the past several years and they’re slowly eating away the grass, leaving behind larger and larger bare spots. Fine by me. Colorado is in extreme drought (I learned this morning that the current statewide snowpack is 53 percent of median) and none of us should be dumping water into lawns. The good news? We’re supposed to get rain (and snow!) on Friday. I’m hoping for more rain than snow because the trees and shrubs are leafed out and that extra weight will break limbs. Still, let it rain OR snow! Whatever needs to fall from the skies is one hundred percent welcome here!

Here’s one more bunny pic to calm the climate anxiety. These two started fussing with each other and became so aggressive they frightened the above dirt-lounger into hiding. They chased and tussled all over the place, including in the iris fans and lavender.

Here’s hoping they’ll be tucked away somewhere warm and dry during Friday’s storm.

Intuitive heads-up

This morning I followed my routine of tapping into my intuition and writing the received message(s) in my journal. Sometimes I ask a specific question about a writing project, such as help with a title or guidance on which new idea I should pursue next, while other mornings I ask for “the exact right message for right now.” This morning’s question was the open-ended “right message” request. The response?

Running on trails
be careful where you put your feet

Well, that surprised me because (1) it seemed weirdly specific and (2) the response felt ominous. My brain instantly went into panic mode: I’m going to fall! Again! [Note: I have scars from various falls over the years and am currently preparing to run the Bolder Boulder 10k on Memorial Day for the first time in years, and when I ran it in 2008, I fell on the trails a week before the race.] My first thought was DON’T RUN ON THE TRAILS! But then I quieted my brain and listened for my intuitive voice which said it would be good for me to run on the trails rather than the boring old streets.

So, I got ready and ran up the street to the trailhead. When I got on the trail, I talked to myself: The intuitive nudge wasn’t an omen, just a reminder to remain mindful. I tried to relax my body as I repeated my trail mantra: Feet on the ground, feet on the ground.

Photo by Grégory Costa of someone younger & blonder than me!

I ran up the first hill and along the ravine, following the trail to the bottom and then back up the other side where the trail is even more narrow as it hugs the top of the ravine. Feet on the ground, feet on the ground. And then, I screamed and jumped sideways toward the upper slope because there on the trail was . . . A RATTLESNAKE.

A big, fat snake that appeared to have recently consumed a large meal. As I carefully moved a bit closer to verify it was a rattlesnake, it lazily flicked its tongue while the rattle on the tip of its tail remained silent. That snake was not at all bothered by my presence and I halfway expected it to let out a satisfied belch. When it didn’t, I wished it a good day and thanked my intuition for the heads-up.

My entire body relaxed after that interaction, and I ran loose and fast with the knowledge I wasn’t about to trip and fall. New wildflower blooms caught my eye as magpies, meadowlarks, towhees, and a lone mourning dove serenaded me throughout. It was a glorious run that I would’ve missed had I allowed my panicked brain to override my intuition. Happy Monday to me!

Happy #Caturday

Marcel and Loki are indoor cats, but we allow them supervised time on the deck. The only rule is they must stay where we can see them and aren’t allowed around the corner where the bird feeder and bath sit next to the patio. Loki always immediately cruises down the deck and around the corner where he flops down and begins rolling around. Unfortunately, his outdoor time is nearly nonexistent because he still hasn’t made the connection between that behavior and getting put back inside.

Marcel, however, abides by the rules. Here he is this morning, strolling the deck railing, as Zippy and I stretched after our run.

I missed a great photo opportunity of him sniffing at the budding maple leaves, but did capture this tender moment between Marcel and Zippy.

Marcel is intensely interested in odors — ALL odors — and was fascinated by the post-run aromas coming off Zippy. Glad someone appreciates them because . . . WHEW. 🙂

Update: treading lightly

After another burst of pain earlier this week, I finally made an appointment to have my finger checked out. Today, the orthopedic doctor was pleased the tendon seems stable and believes the pain is only due to inflammation that can’t settle down. She offered a steroid injection and, while I’m no fan of sharp needles, I said YES, PLEASE!

We’re hoping that shot is a one-off and that my left hand will fully recover. I’ve currently got my two fingers taped together and will do so for the next few days, but then the tape comes off and I (hopefully) will resume my regularly scheduled life and activities (that will include gardening!)

May 22, 2020

Until then, I’m going to follow the lead of this butterfly and tread lightly.

Sunday Confessional: not this time

It’s good I have photographic proof of flowers that bloomed in my garden over the past two Mays, because they’ll have a hard time showing up this year in my weed and grass-choked beds.

May 2, 2020

For the past month or so, I’ve either had to wear a splint on my left-hand ring finger or tape that finger to the middle finger in order to immobilize it. I strained the tendons badly (at least, that’s what I’m guessing) while trying to rotate our compost tumbler that sits on casters (the tumbler we built in order for me to know how to write a how-to book for young readers)  and so haven’t done any bed clean-up in front this spring. One-handed gardening is above my pay grade.

As we returned from a walk just now, I averted my gaze from our front yard. Poor little perennials, struggling to push through the dead and mess I can’t remove. Zippy has no time or energy for yard work because he’s working hard to finish the van build and the quotes we received from clean-up businesses were very high, so the mess will remain.

Lucky for me, vinca is a hardy little plant.

May 7, 2021

It always finds a way to make its presence known.