flowers


click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

Winter is cold for me. So far I have not gotten around to posting about the reasons it is so, SO cold, but it is COLD. My house is cold. My house is actually cold in the summer which is not such a bad thing, but in the winter, most people think it is cold even when I turn the heat up… a lot.

So even though my house is cold, we have had a relatively mild winter. And also a relatively mild spring which means that the wind has not been as bad as it could be.

Spring is not my favorite season in New Mexico; in fact, it is my least favorite season. There is always wind. The defining things are how hard the wind blows and how often. This year there have been only a handful of really bad days, and it did not start early. But the problem this spring is that we have had some FABULOUS weather. It is sunny here most of the time, so that is nothing new, but we have had a lot of sunny and WARM (a week or two–not together) of mid-70’s or at least upper 60’s.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

Seventy degrees (Fahrenheit) is an optimal temperature for me whether it is sunny and dry (like here) or cloudy and humid (like my Missouri home). We have had plenty. But the windy days this spring have always brought “weather.” In an 8-day period we had rain three times.  THREE TIMES. This is the DESERT! This is SPRING! (Rain comes in isolated showers in the summer here.) OK, we need rain, so who am I to complain? But it was cold rain. And without sun, my freezing house is unbearable. (This might be a slight exaggeration since I am obviously still bearing it.)

Last week when my niece and nephew were here, our weather was perfect. Sunny every single day, and high 60’s – mid-70’s for temperatures. (Which did produce more than one mild sunburn.) Being a realist, I do not get my hopes up in March when it is warm. I have seen snow in April both in southern Missouri and here, so I know it can get cold again. But the older I get, the more those warm days take me into their arms and cuddle me. They lull me into a bliss so complete that little thoughts about spring and summer creep into my head. Maybe THIS year, we’ll have a long, warm spring. Just maybe. And during those seemingly kind days, the weather claims me as its own. There is no acclimation to it, only happiness to be in it.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

But she is tricky, that weather.  Reader, it is supposed to SNOW here tomorrow. Granted, spring snows are the kind that are either light, and it warms up in a few days, or the biggest snow of the season which will be entirely gone the next day, but still… This winter is the coldest I have kept my house. (The heat was ALL the way down.) When the days finally started getting at least 10 degrees warmer than the temperature in my house (54 in the warmest spot), my house would warm up. There were nights when I would go to bed and it was actually 73 degrees in the normally coldest part. (Which turns into the warmest part in summer, but who am I to quibble about that?)

So tomorrow it will be in the 20’s and snowing. My house will be 54 degrees again. I will have 4 shirts and a jacket on and fingerless gloves.  If I have to take something upstairs, I will eye my bed with longing. I will want to  climb in and take a warm nap. (Maybe read a little before I drift off to sleep.) But it will not be meant to be. I will plod along as usual in my freezing house and wait–not so patiently–for a few days to pass and it to be warm again.

I do not think it is necessarily the cold that bothers me so much (but in a house like mine, it does), but the teasing of the weather. I lived in Iceland for seven months once and wore my coat every. single. day of my time there. (Below freezing was considered very cold there, but we had a record-breaking winter for cold and snow.) It did not bother me at all.  The fact that I did not see the sun for days (and for months, when I did it was either rising or setting because that is all it did in the winter) did not bother me.  It was just the way things were, and I was used to it. But 70-something for five or six days in a row, then rain and cold, then SNOW… it is almost too much!

In the meantime, I will think about the sunflowers that will be around me in a couple of months. The photos here are from last summer. These sunflowers are called Lemon Queen and are in my neighbor’s yard. They grew as volunteers from seeds birds took from MY Lemon Queen sunflowers two years before. They are about 12 feet (4 m) tall. Maybe I will just print these out to cheer me up as the snow is falling outside. Maybe I will go to the garden center and buy some sunflower seeds. My car is always warm!

I am back! And I have a surprise. At least it was for me. I was driving Saturday and saw a tree in full bloom I was without camera, and driving on a curvy street anyway, so no pictures. I could not believe it. We have had several warm days, but only three warm nights, and nights have been quite cold SINCE those few warm ones.

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Yesterday my family and I went to a ballet, and walking back to the car I noticed this tree in bloom. Not full bloom like the white one, but not just teasing, either. It would have cheered me up had I not already been cheerful!

Here is a close-up:

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click photo to enlarge

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

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When Prince Charming and I first started dating, he had some difficulty with me in the department of gift-giving.  I personally believe I am relatively easy to please (and do not expect gifts in the first place), but to  him, I was an alien creature.

The first thing is flowers. Let me state for the record LOUD AND CLEAR that I do not MIND red roses. If anyone is in a mind to get me anything–no matter what it is, I am elated at the mere thought of it, grateful and appreciative. However, if the gift is flowers, I prefer something besides red roses. My reason for this is that red roses can be common. Every male knows about buying red roses.  I have always been a little “different” (as those who  know me in real life can affirm) and liked to be different, so why should flowers be any different for me? Red roses are beautiful, but peach roses, orange and yellow roses, white roses with red tips, anything else besides red is less common. Less common means I like them  more. And although I love roses, I am quite as happy with other flowers like unusual mums, giant sunflowers (my favorites), tulips or anything that is not quite so common. And if it is clear that the male in my life (which has been Prince Charming for almost 12 years) put some serious thought into it, my heart is completely stolen.

img_0461sunflowersThis was an adjustment for Prince Charming because being a thoughtful guy, he had given the flowers some thought and had decided that all women want red roses all the time. He was educated that I am not “all women” and that also, most women might appreciate some variety once in a while. In this he has been a brilliant student.

(Please do not leave me nasty comments about how I should appreciate any gift. I do. I appreciate all gifts. I appreciate gifts I loathe because someone thought enough of me to give a gift.  I just see nothing wrong with educating my husband (or intended husband, as it was) about my preferences. He was grateful.)

Next was jewelry. Apparently one of the easiest gifts for men to give women is jewelry; it is a sure-fire hit every time. The problem here is that I do not wear jewelry. None. Not the tiniest little thing. (I will admit to wearing an engagement and wedding ring for a few years, but neither of us wear them anymore. And I will also say that when he was shopping for engagement rings, I assured him I did not want a diamond because everyone has a diamond. We did see some brown diamonds I liked, but I wound up with an alexandrite, which I loved because it was quite rare. The expense of rarity was not important to me, but the  having something different was.) So Prince Charming was at a loss when we first started dating. No red roses, no jewelry. But he was up for the task!

Prince Charming became personal friends with the sales people at Bath and Body Works because I love bath stuff and candles and great scents. I still get gifts from there occasionally–quite enough to keep my Friday Night Bath scented and varied. But my “difference” has presented him with the opportunity to show how wonderful and creative he is, which he did yet again this Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day can be another problem because I am the accountant in this household. I know how much flowers cost on Valentine’s Day, and I think it is preposterous to pay that much for them. I have at times gotten grand bouquets the week after because he SO wants to get me flowers (as he is also personal friends with a local florist), but it is definitely taboo to get me flowers for the holiday.

So Friday I was wondering what he would do. It would be fine with me (really, it would) if he did nothing, but he is the romantic, and he will always do something.

He arrived home from work bearing the above-seen pie. I genuinely squealed. One of my favorite desserts is Key Lime Pie, and I had some when I was in Orlando last month and have been hankering to have it ever since. Was that not a terribly creative gift for someone like me?!

Yesterday morning I got a beautiful card and some wonderful chocolates as well (including Godiva), but the hit for me was really the Key Lime Pie. And the best part? My girls are not that enthused with it. That means it is all for Prince Charming and me. And he is at a meeting this morning, so that is what I am having for breakfast.

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I hope all of you had Valentine’s Days as wonderful as mine! (And I hope to have time to get to at least a few blogs today to find out about it!)

This is not really about “my” world, but about a world I recently visited. I took more pictures there than I do here (at least of things I can post since I do not post pictures of my kids and their friends playing very often), and there were some very interesting things, so “My World” will be about Orlando for two or three weeks.

When I was flying into Orlando, I saw lots of water on the ground, and it was overcast. No surprise. But what did surprise me was large wooded areas with no leaves on the trees. I had no idea trees lost their leaves there.

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Then later I saw a tree with orange leaves, fading from its peak of autumn glory… in JANUARY! Maybe I am the last person to know that Orlando has some form of autumn, but previously I never knew, so I thought it was interesting.

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Right next to the “autumn tree” was some tree unidentifiable to me that had yellow flowers on it. It was amusing to me that one tree was in bloom, and the tree next to it was orange and losing its leaves.  What a different world from mine!

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My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

There have been four times in my life when I have been REALLY sick. Sick enough to think about mortality, even if I knew that probably was not going to happen. Sick enough to take more than a week to recover.

The first time I was eight. I had a horrible case of strep throat that kept me out of school for three weeks and in the hospital for one week. I was actually probably too young to think about mortality then, but I remember my dad threatening to make me eat potato chips if I did not drink enough pear juice in the hospital. (Pear juice was the ONLY thing that did not feel like it was ripping my throat to pieces as it went down.) I think my parents might have been a little worried at the time.

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The next time was twenty years later. I had just moved into my first house with my first husband. It was December, and I got the flu. The BAD flu. I do not believe I had ever had that before. I suffered a week off work without getting any better and finally realized I was not going to get better, and I needed to go to the doctor. I did not care if I lived or died. I lost 15 pounds in one month, and it was a full month before I could work full days.

Ten years later I was pregnant with Chicklet. That little creature sucked everything from me. She took every nutrient and bit of strength I had, then she took my immunity. In a 7-month span I got three sinus infections, three stomach flus (more than I had had in my entire life before that), and the BAD flu. Most days I worked as much as I could in the morning and lay on the sofa all afternoon. It was not a good time. My midwife did not really believe I was sick. She treated me like I was trying to get drugs. (Twice in this time I got to see a doctor who was kind, understanding and gave me medicine to get through the current problem.) A week after Chicklet was born, I was in nearly perfect health. She was not, and I have to think it was because I was so drained that even though she took everything from me, it was not enough for her.

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It has been five years since then and I am really sick again. (For those of you who are into numbers and trends, are you as frightened as I am about what is going to happen to me in about 2-1/2 years?) I have “severe” esophagitis. I noticed it a week ago yesterday when we were headed out of town. I could feel (and it was uncomfortable) every bite of food that I took from the swallow until the opening to the stomach. It got progressively worse over the weekend to the point that Sunday I did not want to eat. When we got home Sunday night I ate a small amount because I knew I needed food. I have not eaten more than 300 calories in a day since last Saturday, and the 300 calories is a HIGH number. I have only done that a couple times. (Thus the title of the post–which I must say is the silver lining to this problem.)

Eating is painful. It is usually not a burning pain, but a pain that grips my whole chest and radiates to my back and into my neck  and ears. This happens for anything swallowed, even a drop or two at a time. This has created another problem in that I am not getting enough nutrition and am incredibly weak. The problem with this is that my life is busy and it is the holiday season and I have more going on that usual.

My stamping business is somewhat intentionallybusier than usual for December. Last Thursday evening I had a workshop and Prince Charming arranged a babysitter and did it for me. I went with him, but mostly just sat with the guests and heckled him. Thank goodness for him because I would have been in bad shape had I done it alone. My personality would have made me suck it up and put on a brave face, but I probably would have collapsed in the car when I left.  Tomorrow I have another one, and a friend (who is assuming the role of my mother at the moment) is going to fill in as Prince Charming did. I will go, but she will do the presentation for me.

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This friend has made me face humility in other ways. Right now I am home when I normally would be headed to church. She insisted that I stay home while she takes over leading the program for the 4-6-year-olds today.  I am so grateful for this because I am weak and tired, and tonight is our church’s biggest annual event, the “Festival of Lights,” a holiday musical program. I am planning on pulling all my strength together so I can go. The music is always incredible.

Which leads me to the other thing this friend did for me and is making me be humble. Who would you guess makes the programs for the Festival of  Lights? Of course it is me! Last year was the first year I did it. I made 500 of them. We used less than 400, however, so this year it was decided to make 400. Not because I procrastinate, but because I have so many things going on in my life, those were not finished when I got sick. Another friend had volunteered a couple of weeks ago to do part of the stamping, so I allowed her. I had done a little more, but with my schedule and being sick, I just was not even close to being finished. My motherly friend (who is only a few  years older than me) decided that she was going to take an afternoon off of work to help me with them. Her daughter called, and she came as well. The two of them finished the program covers on Thursday afternoon. THEN yesterday morning, another friend and her mother-in-law came and helped me put all the inserts (with program information) on the inside. The programs are finished, and I probably did the minority of the work. (Prince Charming is proud.)

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So why am I sitting her painfully sipping  liquid nourishment to tell you this? Somewhat because I am weird like that, but mostly to explain my absence in visiting you. The only reason I have posted this week is there were time sensitive (to me) things about which to post, or I would have been completely absent.

When I went on a trip in October, you know I got way behind in blogging. I was slowly catching up with my visits, but then we went on last weekend’s trip. Now I am sick. I have not looked at my reader much at all this week. I am sure it is over 1000 again. I am going on another trip next weekend to visit my cousin. I am coming to grips with the fact that I may not catch up on the reader at all. I may just have to start with what is current when I can do it again. I may not be able to return every visit here. My personality tells me I must, and I will definitely try, but I am not just a little sick, and I have a whole lot of other life that needs attention in the moments when I can get up and do something.

Thank you for your visits even when I have not been visiting. And this post was definitely not for you to feel bad for me or wish me well, but only to tell you why I am gone and that I will be back when I can. Having not eaten substantially for a full week and likely not to be able to for another few days (the doctor said it would take at least a week from when I saw her last Wednesday for the esophagus to heal), my recovery is probably going to be slow. I will probably be weak and tired for a long time.  I will come when I can.

Incidentally, this is my 100th post. I had determined not to even mention it when it happened, but I find it amusing that this is the topic for my 100th post. And I probably would not have noticed it, but when I got online this morning, WordPress had changed their screens and the number of posts I have published was right in front of my eyes.

The flower pictures are a bouquet Prince Charming got me this week. I love them. They look like an antique painting to me–not really real. I think I will be surprised when they wilt.

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This post is a meme hosted by  Sonia at Leaves of Grass. This is not the first time she has hosted Ecological Day (I have been aware of it at least twice before), but it’s my first time. Pop on over and see what everyone else is posting this month! I think it will be fun. Most pictures in this post will enlarge when clicked (and likely worth it.)

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Our mountain on the way to school

Our mountain on the way to school

Last year when Chic started school, I hated whined about complained incessantly about did not like the drive to school. She goes to a private church school, so it means driving. It is less than 7 miles to get there, but we have horrible traffic. Between the traffic and unloading everyone and walking her in and talking to this teacher or that (since I am involved in many school activities) and getting home, the minimum round trip time was 45 minutes. Often it would be an hour or more. I had to do that twice a day, except Wednesdays when I taught art, then I was there all day and it was only one trip. This was/is a serious time drain on my life. 1.5-2 hours a day DRIVING. I cannot get anything accomplished then. (Not even phone calls because a large portion of the trip is in a “dead zone.”) And not being the type to be running around town all of the time, the gas used for these trips to school really bothered me. It wasn’t over $3/gallon yet, but just USING that much gas bothered me. I tried all year to find someone with whom to carpool. Several lived in my area, but none wanted to do it. It was frustrating.

Our mountain on the way to school with moon

Our mountain on the way to school with moon

I wanted to ride my bike–I had a bike trailer–but there were two obstacles. One was that there was not a bike path the entire route, and the part without would be VERY dangerous for a biker, especially hauling a bike trailer. The other obstacle was a giant hill. GIANT. Cars with smaller motors have trouble getting up that hill. How would I ever make it on a bike, hauling a bike trailer? Biking just was not an option.

Summer over, the whole school grind started again, and I was no closer to a carpool, and still had the same obstacles preventing my biking. Until… a rocket scientist (because apparently it takes one to come up with a different idea) had the idea of driving to an area, then biking from there to his work. I started thinking about where I could drive and then bike. Driving part-way is not as good as not driving, but biking part-way is better than not biking at all. So each day after dropping off Chic, I would scope the route. There was a library at which to park, but there was the block in front of it without a bike path, and I was not sure how to safely get to a bike path from there. There was NO parking where the bike path started. Finally I found a sand road between the library and the bike path. Not optimal, but it would work.

Chic & Chicklet in bike trailer

Chic & Chicklet in bike trailer

So a month ago I began driving about 2-1/2 miles to the library and biking the rest of the way to school three mornings a week. I make nine trips to school a week, and am now biking 3 of them. Considering the amount I drive, my guess is that I am using 25% less gas every week. Would I like to do more? Yes. Is more realistic? No. 25% is better than nothing.

My shadow while riding

My shadow while riding to school

Biking is somewhat of an inconvenience, but I have decided that to be friendly to the planet, we have to be willing to be inconvenienced. My phrase for this is “conveniently inconvenienced.” The time factor is fine. I spend only a small amount more time biking to school than I did before with the combination of drive and exercise. The incovenience for us is that we are leaving our house 40 minutes earlier than before, meaning our children get 40 minutes less sleep. I allow that they rest a little in the bike trailer. Also, I have to drive Prince Charming’s truck (mid-size) on those days because I do not have a bike rack on my car. (And am not yet willing to spend the money to get one.) I am not a fan of the truck, but most days I do not have other errands. Another factor is that I have to eat breakfast earlier than before, at 5:45 a.m., in order to allow about an hour before exercising. (My body needs that.) And I cannot get dinner made most of the time before I leave for school (which used to be my goal). There are many inconveniences, but it is worth it. If we wait until being ecologically friendly is convenient, it will never happen.

Edited: After many of the comments, I feel like I should edit this to say that this was not meant to be “preaching” about ecology, the environment, or anything else. Not everyone can do this. My point was that for a whole year I wanted to do it but could not figure out how. Someone else gave me an idea to make it possible. But although not everyone can ride a bike or something similar, we can all do something, but it might require thinking beyond our regular ideas and routines. (Or allowing someone else to put the idea in our heads.)

The mesa with golden morning sun.

The mesa with golden morning sun.

These are a few of the things I have seen on my bike trip. I would be seeing the outdoors if biking around my neighborhood, but some of this would not be seen in my neighborhood.

I love how the petal tips curl on these floweres. (Click to enlarge.)

I love how the petal tips curl on these floweres. (Click to enlarge.)

"Russian Olive" with copper fruit. I've never seen that before.

Russian olive with copper fruit. (I've never seen these in copper before.)

Chicklet loves rabbits. This one posed for us.

Chicklet loves rabbits. This one posed for us.

It got tired of us, but left slowly. (Cute tail!)

It got tired of us, but left slowly. (Cute tail!)

I have to be honest and tell you I never thought I would post a rainbow picture for Sky Watch Friday. Rainbows are spectacular, but from my perspective really difficult to capture in a way that shows anything about how wonderful they were. And I am not saying these pictures captured what it was really like, but I like them anyway.

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

During “monsoon season” here in the desert southwestern United States, we have lots of rainbows, and this year there were even more because the season (which is still going for some crazy reason) has been much longer than usual and the frequency of clouds and light rain more than usual.  But although there are a lot, they are fleeting. The rain is so isolated and sparse, that rainbows seem to last not long at all. Often I do not even get a picture, let alone have time for it to be a good one.

But this rainbow was unusual. It was a “full rainbow” covering 180 degrees. Those have been rare in my life. And it lasted a long time. I decided to drive for a better view, and got one somewhat better, but my lens wouldn’t even capture the entire thing. But the EXPERIENCE was the wonderful part. I watched it change for a good thirty minutes. I was just getting ready to pack up and head home when I realized how low the sun was in the sky. So I stayed for a spectacular sunset as well. (I am not showing you the sunset because I do not like to put too many pictures up for SWF, and I will be needing archives when this monsoon seaon ever ends!)

click on photo to enlarge

click on photo to enlarge

May your weekend be as brilliant as my rainbow!

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures,  head to the SkyWatch blog hosted by Tom, Sandy , Imac and Klaus.

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