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On the road to Tacoma, we indulged in a little abandoned building exploration – an open warehouse by the side of the Willamette River with lots of nooks and crannies and of course, amazing light. It made us both super happy. We were also pleased that we didn’t run into anyone (or anything) unexpected – always a bit of a risk with abandoned places.

Calla Lillies

Portland, Oregon.

We love Portland. That the Farmer’s Market is held on Saturdays right in the middle of the Portland State “campus” really made it feel like an intimately integral part of the city itself. And nobody in the whole Farmer’s Market was talking or texting. They were all interacting with each other. And in Oregon, they pump your gas for you. No one has done that for me at a gas station since I was 17.

It’s beautiful. The drive up Hwy. 101 in Oregon was magical. I wish I could have stopped more often and taken more pictures. It is definitely a future destination for MKL and myself. As for now, Kelsea’s and my journey continues…

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Highway 101, Oregon.

(Our internet connections have been dicey at best, so I’ll have more to share in a few days).

I have been far too busy to write anything but work, but some moment, when I was buried in Proposal Land, spring started to birth. I will have a bit of a break over the weekend and next week, and lots of beauty to share. But for now, please accept my humbling offering in the spirit of the end of winter.

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Spring in Colorado makes me smile.

Quote of the day: “The first real day of spring is like the first time a boy holds your hand. A flood of skin-tingling warmth consumes you, and everything shines with a fresh, colorful glow, making you forget that anything as cold and harsh as winter ever existed.” — Richelle E. Goodrich

Daily gratitudes:
Sunshine
The blanket Tamara left me
Tequila when it’s needed
Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel
A trip in the offing

And that I am so happy about marrying Michael. When I married the first time, I really wanted to get married, and I was with ex-Pat, so we got married. This time, I want to MARRY MICHAEL. Perhaps it sounds like a fine difference, but it is hugely fine and makes me radiate peaceful delight when I consider it.

Or not! I think “not” if the icicles are reaching from the gutter to the ground. Once, the winter after we moved into the Bungalow, Kelsea took one of her Spanish swords to the icicles, much to her satisfaction. It did seem like a good idea, but I then discovered that they must have served a purpose, as I had a leak in the bedroom window frame for weeks afterwards. Therefore, these icicles will be staying put until they decide that spring is here.

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Lafayette, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “A blade of grass is the journeywork of the stars.” — Walt Whitman (I would give anything to see a blade of grass. This has been a hard, bleak winter.)

Daily gratitudes:
Cuddling with MKL
Watching cat videos to keep our stress levels down
The poignant can of Hormel chili abandoned in a snowdrift
The nearly circular sundog in the sky yesterday morning
A cat that loves me

I was under the impression that icicles hung down. They are certainly hanging from my eaves and gutters. But apparently, this icicle is under the mistaken impression that it is a stalagmite.

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Lafayette. Colorado.

Quote of the day: “In the vast reaches of the dry, cold night, thousands of stars were constantly appearing, and their sparkling icicles, loosened at once, began to slip gradually toward the horizon.”  — Albert Camus

Daily gratitudes:
Clear roads
Blue skies
Nice post office people
Mr. Selfridge
Fuzzy sweaters

 

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Denver, Colorado.

It’s baaaack. Yes, the snow is back. We are nowhere near the Northeast totals, but our streets are icy and our yards are getting deeper by the moment. I have been talking about the weather a lot, haven’t I? As if I am an awkward stranger at a party, rather than the mistress of my own blog. It’s not that I don’t have anything else to say, but that I have so many things I want to write about just now and don’t want to shortchange my thoughts. Soon come.

Quote of the day: “I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us…” —  Mary Oliver

Daily gratitudes:
Mr. Man with his paw on my keyboard
Pretty snow
Rides with Elisa
That MKL is getting better (I miss him)
Hearing songs that I love that I’d forgotten about (wish I hadn’t lost my iPod)

 

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Lafayette, Colorado.

You know it’s not like me to be too Pollyanna-esque, but I am trying to maintain a sense of positivity as we seem to be diving back into the great white hole that is winter. It reminds me of the Great Blue Hole in Belize, where divers become so mesmerized that they simply keep going down and never return. I have never been there, but this is what it looks like, if you’re not familiar with it:

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Great Blue Hole, Belize (image credit: Atlas Obscura)

Quite a different view than from our snow-covered porches, eh?

Being a beach baby, I thought diving would be a wonderful experience for me. My first snorkeling experience was so magical, once I got the hang of it, that diving seemed to be the next logical step. Alas, it was not to be. I took the initial certification class, but unlike any of my classmates, needed an extra lesson before my instructor was comfortable signing off on me. I couldn’t get over the inability to breathe, and the pressure on my ears, and the growing sense of panic as I went deeper. And so, that dream was wrapped in a lacy lavender sea fan, and tucked away safely for the next lifetime. Even snorkeling now is a challenge, due to ill-fitting masks and random hairs and disorientation. But I have my exquisite memory of my first snorkel, playing alone with two Hawksbill turtles for twenty minutes. And accidentally brushing my hand against some fire coral, but that’s a tale for another time. It was after the diving lessons and a talk with my instructor that I realized I was a beach baby, not a water baby. That those two things were different, and that I need to be BY the water, and IN the water, but not UNDER the water. A dream trip to the Galapagos is still on the Bucket List, and MKL and I will brush up on our snorkeling and snorkel there like billy-o.

But back to the cold reality of a Colorado winter. Poor MKL has the flu and has had expensive car troubles since we tried to escape the -19 weather back in November. It seems to have tailed him like some sort of ninja, springing to beat him about the head and wallet with numchuks when he least expects it. And now he is terribly blue. Having just recovered from my own bug, and being swamped at work, I have not been able to bring him supplies (supplies being Sauza Tequila, which is the cure of all that ails one, Vicks VapoRub, chicken soup, and tender nursing.) I keep telling him that this too shall pass, and it will. It always does. The only certainty in life is change.

While I dislike winter as much as he does, and we are tempted to rethink our strategy for where we live after Kelsea gets out of college, I am trying to stay positive. Hence, today’s unicorn snow. Can you see the sparkles in the photo taken along the fence? It glittered as it was falling in the cold sun, and looked like some celestial unicorns were shaking off the last vestiges of a fine slumber. And the birds had not given up hope and were singing, even in the 8 degree morning. What choice does one have but to try to find encouragement in such signs of spring?

However, Colorado has only put a dent in its winter inferiority complex and will be providing us with more snow this week. Let’s see how far into the white hole I can dive without running out of oxygen.

Quote of the day: (As an aside, this was a favorite of my Mother’s and she had it in front of the bathroom mirror throughout her battle with cancer. It sits on my dresser today. I carefully brought it all the way home from North Carolina and dropped it getting out of the car and broke the frame. I’ve left it so, as there seemed to be some kind of symbolism in that occurrence.)

““In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” — Albert Camus

Daily gratitudes:
Getting the occasional ride to work with Elisa
Louis Bayard’s weekly recap of Downton Abbey in the NYT that makes me laugh out loud
Head bonks with Mr. Man
Planning surprises
My beloved

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Buena Vista, Colorado.

This was last weekend up at Cottonwood Hot Springs, where MKL and I spent a blissful three nights, with a lovely mix of sun, stars, and snow.

Here, we’ve had the hype of a Snowpocalypse, with everyone rushing to the grocery store, cleaning the shelves out of bread and milk, and creating checkout lines from the front of the store to the back. I suspect Colorado is having an inferiority complex because of all the snow in Boston and surrounding areas, so we are talking up this weekend’s storm as if it were the first one we’ve ever had. As it is, it’s snowing, yes, a good respectable snow, but nothing fancy. “They” say that we’re getting three storms from three different directions in the course of the next 24 hours, but I have my doubts.

I’ve been so quiet because I’ve been working too much (and had zero connectivity during our three nights at Cottonwood Hot Springs). I realize that this is a pattern that has been in place since I first started working. Looking through my recently unearthed high school yearbook, I saw that several of my classmates said something along the lines of “Don’t work too hard!” It was the first time I had realized that I had maintained this kind of pace for almost 40 years, with only a few exceptions: when I took a year off when my baby girl was two, and when I got down to a half-time job for about seven months in 2010, as I was thinking my life was going to take on a certain shape. Fortunately, it took on a different shape than I had expected, but I picked up the work pace just as I had in the past. It makes me wonder why.

With my income(s), I am fortunate enough to be able to take vacations, have a home, pay my alimony/child support, buy books and groceries, go out to lunch with MKL most days, and (hopefully in the extreme) send my daughter to college so she doesn’t come out with student loans. I do not have an extravagant life, but it is comfy. Cutting back on my work would make it less comfy, and would make it more likely that Kelsea starts her adult life in debt.  But I don’t think those are the reasons I work too much. even though I don’t have an answer for why I do. I think it’s important that I explore this element of who I am. At least before I work myself to death.

And on that cheery note, please be advised that today, instead of working, I am writing this post, watching the snow fall, and drinking caramel cocoa as a special treat.

Stay warm, all.

Quote of the Day: “I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” —  Lewis Carroll

Daily gratitudes:
A carb day
Beaches
Lithium water
Taking care of Kelsea
The Birdcage

(As an aside, I started watching “Patch Adams” this morning, which began with Robin Williams committing himself to a mental hospital because he was suicidal. That was hard enough, but then he became roommates with Philip Seymour Hoffman, and I was done. It was too hard to watch. Just felt the need to share that.)

 

 

 

As a woman of a certain age, with two sedentary jobs, I’m not surprised that I feel the need to be in better shape – and lose a few pounds. It’s a thing for me, not for MKL, who loves me just the way I am – which is probably a lot of the reason why I feel better about losing those few pounds – because they matter to me, and he’s not judging me. Because he’s awesome.

I am a stress-eater, not a hunger eater. That started during my Mother’s final days, when I would realize I hadn’t eaten and go in the kitchen in the dark and eat half a pie. And while my stress level is nothing like it was at that time, it’s still pretty high. And I still have that bored-eating, stress-eating thing.

Exercise has, does, and will help, but time is my most precious commodity these days.

We can talk about fitness later, but the good news is that I have lost a few pounds, and will continue to lose more. How did I do it, you ask?

It’s the mouse in the pantry.

Whereas, in the pre-mouse days, I would wander into the pantry and scan the shelves, finding something to nibble on, if I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, or I hadn’t had a proper dinner, or the timing of eating was weird. I’d inevitably eat something not healthy, and eat too much of it.  Now, in the post-mouse-olyptic era, I won’t even go into the pantry without making a lot of noise, and cringing, in case he (or one of his clones) skitters within my line of sight. And furthermore, because the first two consumed almost $200 worth of pantry staples, what’s left (or replaced) in the pantry is now in those big, lidded, storage bins.

I don’t want to move the bins, because he might skitter out from behind one. Which means I don’t open the bins. Which means I don’t nibble in the pantry. He does that now.

I also recognized that most of the stuff in the pantry is carbs, and when I want to lose weight, I quit eating carbs. HE still eats carbs – I’m surprised the two I’ve removed so far haven’t weighed 10 pounds each. Perhaps skittering is exercise for him, and it helps him stay slim. So now, I’m eating lots of good healthy proteins, not much processed food, nothing sweet, and I’m losing weight bit by bit. I’m sure it lights a fire under my internal calorie Bunsen burner when I have to approach the pantry (which is also the laundry room) because my blood pressure shoots up like a fountain.

So that’s my story in a nutshell – oh, wait, the mouse has eaten all the nuts. Never mind. My final words of wisdom: if you want to lose weight and you have musophobia (yes, that’s the real term for it), just put a mouse in your pantry. Trust me. Don’t trust the mouse.

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Grand Lake, Colorado. (And by the way, Mr. Man finds mousing beneath him.)

Quote of the Day: “If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.” —  Walt Disney Company

Daily Gratitudes:
Early treatment for my conjunctivitis
Catfish
Hawks in flight
Metaphorical juggling
MKL

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