Friday, October 24, 2014

Around Here

Around here....

The leaves are falling off the trees, making gleaming pools of gold and red on the streets.  Here in Boulder people either rake their leaves into big brown paper bags that the city picks up and composts,  or they mulch them with a leaf vacuum/mulcher, or they hire a crew to rake them and take them away --to the city compost piles? -- in a pickup truck.  So far we've seen no swarms of activity related to leaf removal.  Instead, everyone seems to be out enjoying the beautiful autumn weather by hiking and biking, not raking.  

 I've decided that one of the best things about being retired is being able to schedule your day according to the weather forecast.  Today dawned cloudy and cool, with temps in the high 50's.  But the prediction was that the clouds would be gone by noon, the sun would come out, and the temperature would climb into the high 70's or even the low 80's.   So when Paul headed off to school, Ben and I headed off to hike before it got too hot.  We hiked up near Shadow Canyon off the Homestead Trail, which gave us great views of a rock formation called The Maiden.  

On the way back we had lovely views off to the eastern plains.

It was a great way to start the day! 

The sumac leaves are off the bushes now but still looks striking on the ground. 

We've been watching Halloween Wars on TV with Paul. The incredible pumpkin carving we've seen there has got us interested in doing some carving of our own and last weekend we bought a pumpkin gutter drill attachment that makes gutting a pumpkin a whole lot more fun than scraping all the innards out with a scoop.  

We didn't have any carving tools except a kitchen knife which Paul used to make this scary dude.  But yesterday I found carving tools at JoAnn's and trying them out will to be the family event of the weekend.  We're told that the gray squirrels in the neighborhood eat any pumpkins that are set out for spooking, but the little critters didn't bother Paul's.  

After I posted about rearranging my studio a few weeks ago, my quilter friend LeeAnna in Maryland made the excellent suggestion that pull-out baskets would maximize the use of the space in my built in storage closet.  She was right!  I've been having fun this week going through my fabrics and getting them organized into the new baskets.  

I found a couple yards of nice white linen I had bought, oh, probably twenty years ago (!) for some kind of garment which I never made, and decided it would make a perfect curtain for the big closet.  It did and it really improved the view towards the closet.  

And a big tick was finally getting a little photo gallery up over the sofa to display some of the photos that Ben and I have been taking.  It's not been easy to find modern looking, thin-edged frames that are robust enough to withstand taking photos in and out every couple of weeks, which is what I had in mind.  Most of the ones I found easily looked too bulky with their thick heavy frames and the thin ones I found in the photo store here in town were way too expensive.  I was thrilled to find these at a "Super Target" for $20 each.  

We should have a nice weekend of warm weather before the temperatures drop into the 60's next week.  In addition to pumpkin carving and some leaf raking, Ben and I are going out to dinner in Denver with friends.  Looking forward to it!  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Great Way to Vote

In Colorado we are voting by mail!

In May of 2013 the state Senate passed a measure to have ballots mailed to all registered voters.  If you didn't want to mail in your vote, you could drop it off at a voting center or go to a voting booth.  This is the first major election under this new system.

Ben and I had registered to vote at the farmer's market --pretty convenient! -- so we received this notice in the mail a while back.

Sure enough, our official ballots arrived last week. We had three weeks to complete them and mail them in. 

By that time we had also received a printed "Voter's Guide 2014" and a "2014 State Ballot Information Booklet" which includes a "Recommendations on Retention of Judges."   I was glad to get them and consulted them often as I filled out my ballot, especially as I decided on how to vote on some of the interesting local issues that are on the ballot this year. 

Several involve raising property or sales taxes temporarily to fund flood recovery efforts (from the terrible flooding of September 2013),  to provide "a safety net" for families and children of Boulder County in financial need, and to fund several arts and civic projects of benefit to the community.   I voted "yes" on all of these; can you tell I'm liberal and proud of it?   I'm not alone around here but  our combined city, state, county and transit taxes already run 8.36% so we'll see if people have reached their limit.   My guess is "no" and that these new taxes will pass.  

Another one that I'm rooting for is a measure to raise property taxes over the next thirty years to fund much-needed repairs to the Boulder Valley schools through a $576 million bond.   If Paul's school, which was built in 1934, is any indication, it is certainly needed.  

The Colorado-wide amendments we're voting on include one to declare a fetus a person (no, thanks), one to establish more horse track racing and casino gambling (again, no thanks),  and another to require labeling of all genetically modified foods (that was tough; I finally voted no, probably canceling out Ben's vote.).  

In Maryland the Democratic candidates always won, making voting very unexciting, but here every Democratic vote counts.   We have a neck-to-neck Senate race of Senator Mark Udall against U.S. Representative Cory Gardner and a tight Governor's race of Governor John Hickenlooper against Republican Bob Beauprez.  

I found I loved voting by mail.  Colorado is one of five states that allow mail-in voting (along with Oregon, Arizona, California, Montana, and Hawaii) and I'm glad to be part of it.   Well, at least until I got to the part about putting on the right amount of stamps.  It took 69cents to mail in my ballot so I rooted through our collection of stamps to find one old 39 cent stamp and three ten cent stamps.   But it turned out they were one cent stamps that I had mistakenly turned upside down to look like ten cent stamps.   Good thing Ben saw the mistake when he took my ballot out to our mailbox to leave for the postman!  Next time I'd better just drop my ballot off at the voting center!

Sunday, October 19, 2014


I can't help but notice that my new red car matches the beautiful autumn reds we're enjoying here in Boulder this year.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Silver Lining

The silver lining about the accident on Wednesday is that the repair bill on the damage my Honda Accord took when it was hit from the rear was $2700 and since the car is worth less than $5000 we've decided it is finally time to get rid of it.  

It has had twelve years of hard use, and after taking the brunt of the transporting Paul and his friends around from age two till now is beat up and dirty, both inside and out.   I almost replaced it a couple of years ago when I got a case of "new car fever" and we also thought seriously of selling it last spring rather than drive it across country for the move to Boulder.  In the end, we decided to hang on to it, but this accident has tipped the scales.  

The good thing is that I had no problem deciding what to buy.  In my "new car fever" stage I  had test driven a VW Golf and absolutely loved its zippy ride, upscale interior, and "just right" size.   Our friend Susan bought one last week and I enjoyed being one of her first passengers.  

So yesterday I headed off to the VW dealer and within a few hours had found a diesel stick shift that I'll be picking up today.    I'm pretty excited!   

It's "Tornado Red."  Finally, I'll be able to spot my car in a crowded parking lot!   

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


As much as we love living here in Boulder, I do have to say that driving here is a challenge.  There are a lot of cars on densely populated streets, along with skateboarders, bicyclists, and pedestrians.  You have to pay attention!  And even if you are paying attention, everyone else may not be.  

When Ben and John came out to visit last spring, Ben was rear-ended.  And today I was whacked, again from the rear.   The funny thing is that I was sitting in a line of cars stopped to check out an amazing fender bender in the other lane; the hitting car was smashed but the car it hit was unaffected, which was very strange.   Apparently the college-age driver behind me was watching that wreck as well and forgot to look ahead until she smashed right into me. So now there were two accidents, one in each lane!  

My poor old car!  It's actually worse than it looks, since the trunk is affected.   

We'll see if this leads to "new car" fever.  My car is twelve years old, has plenty of scratches, and will never be clean inside again, but I like it because of that; you always worry about messing up a new car while in an old car you just shrug things off.   But a friend just bought a VW Golf TDI Diesel, which is pretty sweet, and a new car has its charms, like iPod connectivity and the screens that tell you what songs are playing.  That would make it worth the fuss of trying to keep a new car new. 

We'll see.  One thing I know for sure:  I will never ever buy a silver car again.   I'm so tired of looking through all the silver colored cars in the parking lot to find mine.   My next car has to be red or yellow or orange or something I can spot easily.  Gotta have some color!


Monday, October 13, 2014

The Weekend

My sister, Jean, was supposed to visit us this weekend but had to delay her trip when her AFib reoccurred a few weeks ago.   On top of that disappointment there was rain off and on the past few days.  But even so we managed to enjoy the weekend.

Our friends Ray and Paula and Gus showed us the lovely Homestead hike with it's beautiful patches of fall-red sumac.

You can never get enough views of the Flatirons.  The hike was south of our house, so this view is facing north.  

Paul spent Saturday afternoon helping organize and judge a "practice tournament" for younger kids at his karate studio.  He is thrilled to be part of the Leadership Team.  

Ben cooked two amazing dinners, including a new recipe,  Pasta Alla Norma, from the New York Times, which we really liked.

Ben's apron advertises the Artist's Open Studio, which was in its second weekend.  Lotus and I went around to see a couple of artists and I bought two pieces which I'll give as Christmas presents.  Did you know that there are only 72 days until Christmas? 

When he wasn't cooking or rock climbing, Ben was working on painting the deck.  It may look like Ben has painted himself into a corner, but he didn't1 

Spikey was quite energetic all weekend, climbing up anything he could find and being very entertaining.

Seeing the studios of so many artists these past two weekends made me focus a bit on my own workspace.  I went home and tried to make my studio less cluttered and more serene.  Originally I had put the sewing table perpendicular to the door, which blocked the flow of the room:   

But this weekend I rearranged it so the sewing table is in front of the window, making the room seem more open:  

I ruthlessly culled out books, picture frames, and electronic equipment so I could make order out of the chaos that had been in the wall closet.   I think I can find things in there now.

After all that work, it was just fun to actually sew in the newly organized space.  I'm working on the little piece on the cutting table.  It was almost done when it decided it wanted to be bigger --honestly, you never know what these pieces will tell you -- so now I'm adding a graphic black and gold border. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Then and Now

Back in Maryland if we needed our kitchen knives sharpened the task loomed large.  First you had to figure out where to take them --hardware store?  knife kiosk at the mall? -- then you had to drive there which meant dealing with traffic, and once you got there the interaction with the clerk would probably be fairly impersonal.  

Here in Boulder we simply walked down to the Farmer's Market, turned our knives over to the Johnson's after a pleasant "good morning" chat,  strolled the market with a cup of coffee from one of the coffee vendors, and then returned to the Johnson's booth, paid the fee, and walked back home in the beautiful fall weather.  Mission accomplished by 9:30 in the morning, along with a good walk and some community sociability.  


We had a good life in Maryland, but this is better.