Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Return to Christmas Past

The tree is out of the house. I really loved this tree that we cut on the road to King's Pasture. It was one of so many beautiful trees and we had it in the truck before I remembered to take a picture. It is now sitting at the top of our road waiting for Eric and Cynthia to pick it up on Monday and make incredible pine oil from it. So it continues to have purpose.

We had a great Christmas in St. George with our kids and especially our grandson, Colby. You really need a kid for the best Christmas. We didn't get to watch him open his presents last year because it was snowy and hard to get to his house in time. So this year was a special treat. Everything was wonderful and so exciting. Next year we will have a baby girl to add to this Christmas experience. I hope we are all in a place to enjoy it together but I'm sure it will get more difficult when Geoff is married, so this year was a special treat to have him as well.

Christmas was always my favorite holiday. It was the time when we gathered at my Grandpa and Grandma's house. My grandpa loved Christmas so much that he was the one who woke us up to open presents usually at 4am. Grandma knew how to add all the special touches with a beautiful flocked ponderosa pine tree, sugar cookies, wassel, and great meals. I had a special treat this year. I found an old cassette tape and listened to half of it and realized it was made in October 1958, when I was just one years old. It even talks about my Dad's cute little baby (me). I decided to record it with at new recorder I purchased that makes digital files so I was recording the side I hadn't listened to and it was a tape being sent to a cousin on an LDS mission so it had a message from everyone in the family. The first was from my Great Grandpa Bert. I don't even remember his voice but it was so familiar and very much like my Grandpa, his son. There were also voices from Aunt Al and Uncle Emmett, great aunts and uncles that have been gone for over 40 years as well as other Aunt's and Uncle, my Grandma and Grandpa. I felt like I spent Christmas in the homes of my past. This was part of our Christmas Day tradition, open presents, eat breakfast and then visit Aunt Fon's, Aunt Ruby's, etc. It was an amazing experience with so many people I have loved so much and are now gone to reappear in voice on this Christmas.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Power of Touch

How did we get so far from the incredible power of touch? Touch has been so sexualized that we now have difficulty reclaiming it, therefore making it a missing element from the lives of people who need it most. This last week I began considering my thoughts on this subject as I enjoyed my yoga class a couple of times this week in which the teacher, Constance shares touch as a part of the practice. Her gentle touch assists in making a twist reach just a bit further or reminds me to relax and to breath. During savasana, Constance's gentle massage of my shoulders or the soft touch across my temples brings such memories of my mother's touch that it brings her immediately to my practice even though she has been dead for over twenty years. I suddenly see in my minds eye, her face, her hands, even the way she sucked her teeth when she was deep in thought. My mother wasn't even my most physical parent. But this touch was so much the touch of a mother. My dad, now he is the master of touch. You sit next to him and he will rub your shoulder or pat your hand. He will sit next to you close enough to have the constant of touch while he talks of things that rarely matter. He knows how to hug big and bold each time he sees you. He loves touch as well and will crawl under your hands so they rest on his shoulders to remind you he needs a shoulder massage. His brand of touch was critical to me as I counseled young women who had been sexually abused by those who should have protect them. He helped me erase their guilt a bit of being able to assure them it was nothing they did but it was their father, brother, uncle not them. I believe bringing this most positive touch back to the lives of people could also help reduce the costs of our health care system. A few years ago, my mother-in-law was going to the doctor for every little ache and pain. She is a widow and her doctor is sweet and kind. He pats his mostly senior patients as he checks their blood pressure or listens to their lungs. The first time I went to the doctor with her, I knew that she didn't need any medical diagnosis, she just needed to be touched. I tried suggesting massage instead of doctoring but it wasn't in her comfort zone so I tried to touch her more even though this was not a part of our previous relationship. I think it help both of us feel better. Now in her challenge of dementia, she often doesn't remember my name, she just introduces me as "her sweetheart." So everyday we should all try to restore the power of touch where possible. Allow the sexualization of touch to be allowed only where it is absolutely appropriate and give power and strength to healing touch, to loving touch, to the guiding touch to a friend and fellow traveler in this life.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snow Day


We have had two incredible days of snow here in Boulder. Yesterday it snowed all day and most of the night. I had Steve take the car to the top of the road so I could get out if needed. I did venture out for yoga last night, clearing snow off the car both coming and going home. This morning we got 8 to 10 inches of snow and the most beautiful blue sky you can imagine. Steve made trails to everything we need to get to and a few places for the dogs (especially the little one) to go out and pee. He even made me a walking trail from the car at the top of the hill to the house. He shoveled while I walked behind him, looking like the queen with my royal servant clearing the way so I wouldn't get my feet wet. He said people would be talking about how much he loves me, clearing the snow for me like that. He thought they would even say I was still wearing my slippers, you know these small towns and gossip. I do love being treated so well and now the hike to the car will only make me breathless not wet footed. This afternoon we have sat back in the sunroom enjoying the warmth and watching the wind blow whirls of snow off the roof or down the hillside. The sun reflects the diamonds off the mounds of snow covering all the small bushes on the ground and in to the trees. Snow is so wonderful when you can sit home and watch it snow and then lounge around for another day while the snow plow makes laps back and forth on the highway above your house.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

God I Love This Place

As I sit here at my computer, I look out the window at Maggie's Ledge. It looks like smoke coming up from just where the pinions begin but it is a rock slide. A piece of the cliff has dropped off in this freezing weather and dropped to a place just below the ledge creating this giant dirt cloud above me.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Boulder Busy

I have always been the kind of person that thrived on busy, so this has been a good week, complete with busy. The best part about a "Boulder Busy" is the kind of things you get to be busy about. They are all the things that I choose to do, not things other people have put on my plate.

We got home on Monday after a great Thanksgiving with our kids and grandson. The weekend included preparing and eating Thanksgiving dinner. I love this task even if it means that I do most of the work because I found out a few years ago that it is my son's favorite holiday. So that makes all the preparation worth it if you can make it someone's favorite holiday. Friday was the shopping day of course. A great time to shop with my daughter. Even my son spent a little of the shopping time with us. Saturday was the annual family venture to the mountains to get a Christmas tree. We even did a family night at the movies on Sunday. So it was a great weekend.

We got back to Boulder and unloaded the car, which was completely full of Christmas shopping, Christmas decorations, a few groceries and the three dogs. I even made it home in time for yoga class on Monday night. Now yoga is a great way to be busy with stretches and moves in the dark of the Boulder town hall and a little candlelight with Constance's soothing voice taking you from one move to the next. On Tuesday, we put up the red outside lights on the house. There is now a red glow from the Boulder Creek. We also made short drive almost to King's Pasture to get a Christmas tree. The meadow was so full of perfect Christmas trees that the task was over before I even got a picture. I tried to get Steve to get out and do a reenactment, but he refused. Tuesday night was Boulder Book Club with a great group analyzing and discussing "The Thirteenth Tale." Today we met with an enthusiastic group at the Anasazi State Park to discuss a project that will also guide the theme for the 2011 Boulder Heritage Festival. We are also going to meet today to see about finalizing a cookbook for the 2010 Festival. Senior Dinner is at 5 (glad Steve has the years to get us access to this event). Town Council Thursday is always interesting. Friday it's time for me to jump in the car again for a quick trip to SLC for a baby shower for the little granddaughter in production hosted by her dad's family. We may get a little more Christmas shopping done, visiting with my friend Nedra, a stop to see my Dad, and drive part of the trip with Geneya and Colby.

I keep wondering when retirement will get boring. Friends and family were a bit concerned about what we would do with retirement and a move to this small town. But there is so much to do; there is the Bird Workshop to plan, 2010 Boulder Heritage Festival and while were at it lets plan the 2011 Festival as well, we also have the Creative Writing Workshop, and we have to fit this all around the nap in the sun room in the big recliner with the sun shining full and warm across your body while you sleep.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Little Death Hollow

This is an incredible place that I live. Every venture into the great outdoors, you think can not possibly be as spectacular as the last, and that is the surprise. Yesterday's forecast was for "warm before the storm" so we decided to go on a hike that the dogs could also go on. We went to Little Death Hollow. The worst part of the hike is that the trailhead is out by a corral instead of down further, closer to the canyon. The dogs also didn't appreciate the lack of water, but we kept them fairly well hydrated with Steve's water bottle, although Maggie wasn't sure she wanted to give up any of the water to the other dogs and Lucky didn't think drinking water out of Steve's hands was a good idea, but they all survived.

The walk to the canyon is littered with petrified wood. There are also petroglyphs on one big rock before entering the canyon. We even found an unnamed arch (it has a name now). The canyon is beautiful but it narrows to an amazing slot canyon and then goes on forever. It narrows to about car size and then continues to narrow until it is one person size. I tend to get claustrophobic in these slot canyons, but this one feels very open even at the narrowest points. There were a few choke stones to climb around and one place where we were on our hands and knees crawling under a log that had wedged in the slot during a storm. The walls are rubbed smooth by the water but also has interesting holes carved along the ways. We were trying to get to the exit at Horse Canyon but came to a place that dropped into a mud hole. It would have been passable either through the mud or over the top of the sandstone but it wouldn't have been a great way to take dogs so were turned back at that point. We figured we were very close to Horse Canyon. Steve probably would have gone on down to find the exit while I started back with the dogs, but the dogs will not leave him while hiking. They even get a little freaked when the alpha female decides to walk in front of the alpha male. So now we need to go back and come up from the Horse Canyon side. This is such a perfect time to hike. It's cool, you don't have to worry about a flash flood, and there are no snakes. It was a lot longer coming back to the truck. Steve likes to underestimate the distance while we are hiking but my hips and feet can still tell when he has taken us over my hiking limit. But this was such a beautiful hike, I will gladly nurse stiff joints for a few days and the dogs I'm sure will be very well behaved for a few days as well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Historical Hiking

Being so heavily involved with the Boulder Heritage Foundation, you are continually focused on the history of this area. One of our recent interests have been to learn more about the old roads that came in to Boulder. Because of the inaccessibility of this place, every road that was ever created becomes an amazing feat. We have now traveled the Haymaker Bench Road, the Claude V Cut-off, and today we scouted the Old Creamery Road. Each road is so interesting with it's cuts into sandstone cliffs with scary drop-offs and sand pits that must have buried wagon wheels. We are like detectives looking for scrapes on sandstone and sandstone made smooth by numerous wagon trips. We've had a little help from someone who has previously cairned much of the trip but today we totally lost the road in sand. We wandered across the sand looking for a cairn or anything that looked like the road. We finally followed a dirt road, now closed, and found the old Lollipop Tree which was a marker for the direction and the connection to the next part of the road. After standing for at least one hundred years, this tree finally fell down this year. Part of the pine stump stands about 10 feet in the air but the lollipop top now lies on the ground so it won't be a trail marker anymore. It was fun to find this tree that I have heard of all my life even if it was lying down now. We did follow the road once again to the Escalante River bottoms directly across from where the road we traveled last week up the Haymaker Bench. It is incredible to think of traveling on these roads in a wagon.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Do What Scares You

This has become one of the most important goals of my retirement. So far it has lead me on an incredible eight day motorized boat trip down the Colorado River across over 100 rapids. Yesterday it included a totally different kind of experience. We (my husband and I) are a part of the Red Farmhouse Community Farmers Co-Op and we receive a box of vegetables every two weeks. In one of the boxes we received a very large turnip. Neither of us have had much experience with turnips. We decided we must not have been as poor growing up as we thought we were since we were lacking any turnip experience. So we searched the Internet looking for a recipe that would include turnips. I found "Bacon Turnip Mash". I thought bacon might help hide the taste of turnips, so we went for it (even though I think it did scare both of us a bit). It was ok but probably a waste of good bacon, so I doubt we will go that direction again. Our next adventure is going to be beets. We both had beets in our childhood homes (yeah, so they were trailer houses) and we both decided to not like them from an early age, but we are now at this new and incredible age, so we probably should be bold and experiment with beets. So there maybe some beet soup in the upcoming days of our retirement.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Time To Start

I have some great role models for retirement so I will start this first retirement entry dedicated to them. With each of my mother's sisters all in their 60's and 70's blogging away and encouraging me to follow suit, I suppose this is inevitable.
I kept thinking I wanted my blog to have a specific purpose, more than just what I'm doing each day and with so many of my friends and colleagues facing retirement, I thought that might be my purpose. I retired 2 1/2 years ago but continued to work part time until last May when both my husband and I decided to fully retire and to move to Boulder, Utah. We have always loved Boulder but it is a very small community and it would have been difficult to make a living here and also to keep both of our children happy especially the one that loved all sports and eventually received a scholarship to play football in college (they don't play football in the local high school of less than 100 students in grades 7 to 12). So we waited for him to graduate. We also had my mother-in-law, daughter, and grandson living with us, so that was difficult to consider a move. But in the last couple of years, everyone has found their place and the time seemed just right for this move.
I want to focus on retirement because I see so many people struggle with this phase of life. There are many concerns about retiring; will there be enough money to get to the end, will there be adequate health care without a job, will I like my spouse well enough to just hang out together, will I have any value without my job title, what will I do with my time, and on and on. I have considered these concerns as well and I know I will face many of them even further as time goes on, but I also have the experience of seeing my mother die of cancer at age 51 and my father-in-law died at 47 of a heart attack. I know too personally that all of this can end at anytime and I don't want my whole life to be work or one job even I really loved that job and was very good at it. I think there might be some other things I will love and some other things I am good at. That is why this blog is titled "Directions 4 Retirement." Maybe I can provide some directions to make this step easier for someone else but more importantly for me it is the directions that I will take in my retirement. It is a journey that I look forward to even if I can't fully envision where it will take me. But I believe it will be a great ride.