30 December 2017

When One Door Closes....

When one door closes, another one opens. 

Isn't that a great title for New Year's Eve?    2017 is on its way out (thank goodness) and 2018 is on its way in.

Also...I'm taking it a bit literally today.

A couple of nights ago I saw an old door advertised on Salida Swap which is basically a local Craig's List. It had a window, peeling paint and measurements that sounded close to my shed door opening. Carlos and I braved the cold and wind and dark to go out and measure and yep! Close enough.

Now normally I wouldn't say "close enough" is a positive thing for doors and door openings but in this case, it was ok. There was a door on the shed already- or remains of a door- and it didn't fit the opening. There really weren't door jambs or a threshold soooo.....close enough was about as good as I could get. Besides, the shed leans. Nothing is level. I wasn't looking for perfection, just a way to keep the bears from shacking up inside.

The old door in all its glory. 
It was an INTERIOR hollow door. 
WHY would someone put this on an outdoor shed? 
The hinges were NAILED on. 
I didn't even know what I was doing and did a better job than this.

Twenty bucks later I had a door.

This morning was unseasonably warm so I headed out to hang that new/old door.  Getting the old door off wasn't too big of a problem since there was only one hinge left holding it on. I broke that one hinge  and ended up taking the hammer and pliers to the remains to get them off.

What was the thinking behind this hinge application???

Looks like this door may have actually hung inside somewhere and is now upside down. 
Or maybe there is just a little door sign holder nailed on the bottom for fun. 

Then I discovered I was incapable of simultaneously holding the door in place and measuring/applying the hinges.

But!  I have a great neighbor behind me and I gave her a call. Beverly came over with gloves and a latch and lots of enthusiasm. She also brought a bit of knowledge with her... thank goodness. I was clueless.
Beverly hiding a bit from the camera. 
Could NOT have gotten the door hung without two extra hands. 

We started with the middle hinge. Realized it was scraping at the bottom because of the slant of the shed. Moved the middle hinge up. And guess what? From there it was smooth sailing.   (Except I kept dropping the screws so there were a few runs into the house, down into the basement, a grab for more screws, and then back out to the front. Details.)

Beverly's latch wouldn't work but I'm sure a nice hook and eye will keep things closed. For now the door is being held closed by the same thing that has kept it closed for the last eight years: a dented bucket full of concrete.

And best of all? From the house, the shed looks so much friendlier with that once-painted white door with the window.

The newly hung door.
Ignore the gap at the bottom. 
And the top.
Also ignore the concrete bucket closure.
THAT will be fixed. 

So...out with the old and peeling and falling apart and no longer useful door and in with the sturdier, friendlier, and more transparent door.

And out with the old year full of way too many changes and challenges and in with a year that hopefully will be joyful and stable.
(A recap of some of the highs and lows of last year here, and here, and here and here and especially here. If you need the reason I write this blog, click here.)

I'm willing to allow myself plenty of "close enoughs' this year as long as things work and make me happy.

And hopefully 2018 will bring joy and security to us all.
Not just my shed.


Happy New Year!

24 December 2017

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas to all...

It's been a week here at the cabin. 

A week of failed plumbing, furniture moving, snow, wind and more furniture moving. 

I've done some baking. Banana bread that was unsuccessful.  Cookies that were yummy.  A batch of refried beans for Christmas lunch and the freezer. 

Tonight my middle chica and her friend arrive. We'll go to a party in town. 
Tomorrow hopefully Santa will come. 
In between I will read "The Night before Christmas" to anyone who will listen.

Wishing all of you a joyous Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, free of plumbing issues and wandering furniture.

11 December 2017

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas....

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

all around the cabin.  O wait. That isn't how the song goes? 

Well, it is here.

A little Christmas tour for you.

We have no snow. It has snowed twice this season, weeks ago, and there is zero snow on the ground. Last weekend I was outside in short sleeves working in the yard. The house I left in Texas has had more snow in December than I have had here in Colorado.

But while it may not feel like Christmas outside, it still looks like it inside.

There are Christmas trees:

Tall and narrow covered with cabin-y ornaments and icicles.

Flat and metal. 
I love this milagro tree. 
It stays up year round some years. 
But at Christmas it has the glass ornaments added on.

And nativity scenes:

 The three kids painted this one 16 years ago. 
(Making them 8, 4 and 2!)
It's my favorite. 
Love the evil angel with red eyes and the little green monster. 

And this one from my mama and Mexico.
While I was trimming wood for the outdoor fireplace I cut 
a few rounds for display. 
I really need a band saw. I miss having one. 

The three wise men are celebrating in front of the empty libation bottles. 

Aren't these guys great? 

There are Santas from my childhood:

This big Santa was made by my aunt when I was about 8 years old. 
Amazed he's still around four houses and 50+ years later.
The Santa bank on the shelf is just about as old. 
As is the the book next to him. 
Goodness, I gave away/sold a gazillion books but there are some I just couldn't part with.
The kids' books were the hardest. There's another large bookshelf's worth upstairs. 
And yes, those are my high school yearbooks in the middle. 

Another Santa from my childhood, against 
one of the kid Christmas books and 
some Mexican pottery, literature and brass. 
My life in a nutshell.
Bookshelves can tell you a lot about a person, don't you think?

A reindeer pillow resting on my most favorite purchase this year. 
Bought that leather chair for $30 and a store credit at the consignment store. 
(And many thanks to my sister in law for keeping me supplied with fabulous winter pillows!)
Hoping I can keep the fern alive through the winter. 
The dry heat isn't that good for it. 

Isn't this a cozy scene?  Fire in the pellet stove. Hallmark Christmas movie on the TV. "Naughty" stockings hanging by the door. And another one of those great needlepointed pillows on the big comfy chair.

This is where you'll find me most nights. 
(Those windows are getting replaced sometime soon.
And curtains. There will be curtains.)

Even the outdoors is trying. No snow but a little greenery.

Kaiser, the bear, tries to hold onto his greenery. 
The deer keep coming up on the porch and pulling it out of his hands.

Fish and deer sporting greenery and ornaments 
on the side porch. 
(Ignore the fact that the wall needs painting. 
This Spring...)

Even the cow's skull over the front dooor is trying to get into the spirit.

There were even cookies baking. Except while they were cooling on the  counter, someone decided to eat some. Actually, lots of them. So I'll have to bake some more. 
(Not mentioning names but C-A-R-L-O-S comes to mind....)

This was two full cooling trays of cookies. 
Bad dog. 

Hope you are also enjoying the holidays and are surrounded by love and the spirit of the season. 

22 November 2017

Thank you

Thank you.  

Thursday is Thanksgiving and I have so much to be thankful for.

I came home today to packages. That happens more than you might expect and frequently (but not always)  I am not the one who did the ordering.

This giant package was waiting on my doorstep tonight. 
It's supposed to be an outdoor fireplace- assuming I can put it together. 
Thanks, Cathy! Stargazing will be much warmer now. 

I have mentioned before that there are bears and mountain lions around here. It's true, although they don't camp in the front yard or even show themselves much. Most of my experience has been from seeing them on the game camera.  A couple of times I have seen bears in the road as I'm driving to or from the cabin and Belle saw one down the street this past summer.

A game camera shot from 5 years ago. 

 The neighbor has filmed a mountain lion in the middle of the day on his porch but my contact has only been through the game camera lens.

And another from 4 years ago.

Nevertheless I have seen bear prints recently. One morning last week we had a little snow and while I was walking Carlos I noticed some very large dog prints. Then I realized they weren't dog.  The human looking back foot gave it away... I was walking in the steps of our local bear.  

Last weekend Carlos barked in the middle of the night. Since Carlos barks at the wind, at squirrels and not much else, I didn't even bother to get up.  Whatever was outside wasn't coming in.
The next morning I noticed the gravel in front of the porch was covered in deer hoof prints and  a couple of bear prints.  I feared the mama and baby deer that lounge in the side yard were his targets.

No deer visited for a couple of days and when I did finally have deer, it was just one. A mama. Baby was no where in sight.

Posts of these adventures went on Facebook and dear friend Ann asked if I was being safe while walking Carlos each morning. I assured her I wasn't scared and Carlos had jingly dog tags on and we were fine.

Bear bells for the two of us showed up before week's end.  Lights for Carlos's collar came the next day.  We now sound like Santa and Carlos will be the mysterious alien light that is spotted flitting through the woods.

A bell on my romper and a bell on Carlos's harness. 
The bears will know we are coming so they can get the condiments ready. 

I am tickled that everyone is concerned (Although those packages were addressed to Carlos so I'm pretty sure I know where Ann's loyalties lie...) but truthfully I am more likely to be injured driving to and from work dodging the deer than I am being eaten by wild animals. In Chaffee County (where I work) it is the leading cause of accidents. Between 1986 and 2004, there were 35,302 recorded incidents of vehicle collisions involving wildlife along state and interstate highways just in Colorado.
That's thirty five THOUSAND!!!  

Bunny managed to hit TWO deer in the span of eleven days. 
$4000 in car repairs and one dead buck for this little adventure. 

In the 2000s (17 years now) there have been 27 fatal bear attacks in the United States. That includes Alaska.
So my odds are with being killed by hitting a deer rather than being eaten outside my front door.

In spite of all the odds, good and bad, I'm grateful my friends worry. And care.

And what else am I grateful for?  After a week of just seeing a mama deer, this morning they both were back. Mama and Baby.  I'm not sure if I had a different mama on her own earlier or what. But today I had both of my friends back on the side of the house. All in one piece.

I was so worried about this little one, but today he was back with his mama- all in one piece. 


I am also thankful for...in no particular order... many many people places and things:

My kids who have had a daunting year yet have come through for me and for each other in ways that I never expected. 

My friends who have fed me, entertained me, helped me pack (thank you Jill), helped me move (thank you Martha), helped me get a job (thanks again Martha)  and pretty much gone above and beyond what I would ever expect.  I am so beyond grateful for each and every one of you. 

My sweet mother who I am sure would prefer that I still live across the street from her rather than 1000 miles away. In spite of the fact that I abandoned her, she has been so supportive. 

My brother who has stepped in to be with mom when I can't, who has helped support me and has had my back. I'm also grateful for his kids who have helped be there for their grandmother. 

The roof (a tiny bit leaky) over my head and the view out my window. Wow. I'm really grateful for where I live.

My job where I literally work with the nicest people ever. 

My neighbors who also feed me, help me with projects, babysit Carlos and generally keep me from getting arrested and/or eaten. 

And my friends. Did I mention them? My friends are the BEST.

Happy happy Thanksgiving to all. I hope that you too have many things to be thankful for.  


14 November 2017

Redemption ...

Redemption in the Form of Chalk Paint.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably heard of chalk paint. It's the magical paint that goes over anything and covers everything. No sanding required, no priming. Supposedly.  Once the paint is on, you can wax over it to finish it (easier than it sounds) or even use polyurethane. I wish there was chalk paint make up.

Annie Sloan introduced chalk paint but other companies have come up with their own version. Supposedly you can even make it yourself with latex paint and plaster of Paris but I'm not that adventurous. Yet. Since there are no Annie Sloan "stockists" around here, I settled for some Rustoleum chalked paint from Home Depot to refinish a little project that I had inherited.

Last summer neighbor Heather posted a headboard and footboard on the local Swap Facebook page (kind of a tiny local Craig's List) that she had been given to sell. No one wanted it. I'm pretty sure it had been stored in a barn for a while. A long while. She offered to give it away. Still no takers.  I finally said "Stick it in my shed if you can't find a home for it. Maybe I can do something with it."

My bed has been in need of a headboard. I saw possibility.

Once I arrived back here in Colorado and peeked into my shed...eek!
That possibility was looking more like a catastrophe.

Here's what I started with:

 Both pieces were a lot rougher than I expected.
Notice the center of the headboard- a finial or something was broken off. 

 The foot board also had a broken piece. Half of a ball missing. 

Necessity is the mother of invention.
I didn't want a ball here- that sounded uncomfortable.
I found a piece of wood in the basement and had it cut to fit. 
Works for me. 

Both pieces got dragged into the basement- I highly recommend having a heated basement- and I DID sand. And used a lot of filler. And sanded some more. That chalk paint can only do so much.

While the center of the headboard got that little block of wood, the footboard ball was left as is. I figured we were both starting new lives a little worn and chipped.  Some kindness and magic and a little elbow grease go a long way towards making things - if not new-at least good again. Useable. Functional. And yes, even beautiful. 

Heres' what I ended up with:

 I love the light gray. So soft.

 That little wood block at least finishes off the center, even if it isn't perfect. 

 The broken ball has character. 
I know it is there yet I had to look for it when I was taking pics. 

Isn't it cozy looking? 
Fortunately you can't see the dirty paw prints on the comforter.
Carlos has been trying to dig up gophers. He comes in a total mess. 

I was so happy with the bed that I decided to tackle a vanity that has been up in the guest room. I bought it used and in only slightly better shape than it is now. 

Isn't it a fun little deco piece

 Love these fan pulls. 
I hope they polish up nicely. 

The mirror has the same ribbed design. 
I think they belong together and have just been separated.

This side is going to need some filler. 

It will require a lot of filling and some sanding before it can be painted but I think it will be worth it. The vanity was purchased at a resale store in town eight years ago, the mirror came from the dump (!)  just a few years back, but it looks to me like they were made for each other.   I have a nice dark charcoal gray chalked paint to cover the war wounds. 

So, even the broken and worn stuff can be salvaged. And maybe, just maybe, these things turn out even better than new with their scars and character.   Or at least more interesting.
Substance over flash. 


A funny. 
I had an 8"x2" piece of wood for that center piece that I needed cut to about 5" long. 
I sent neighbor Sue a text asking if her house had a saw that could cut a piece of wood for me.
Her son showed up a bit later with a chainsaw.
Sometimes you need to be more specific. 

06 November 2017

The awesomeness of randomness...

The awesomeness of randomness amazes me.

I've talked before about random acts of kindness. I thoroughly support surprising strangers (and friends) with little treats, compliments, and or thoughtful gestures.

 Driving through the Sugar Land McDonalds
and spreading some cheer. 

But today I'm thinking about random occurrences that turn into "something".  That mean something or delight or add to life.

A few years ago I ran into a girl from high school that I knew back then but wasn't close friends with. I would say we reconnected but seriously, we weren't that connected in the first place. But a friendship grew from that random meeting. Actually a few friends and acquaintances have come back into my life after an absence of 30 or more years and they are the best, most meaningful relationships.  A shared background along with the wisdom of years makes for a really great connection. Yay for those random reunions.

One of my most favorite, most random evenings was last year. Friend Diana treated me to an early birthday dinner in downtown Denver. We parked in a convenient spot and walked about six blocks to the restaurant. In that six blocks we encountered more fun, more surprise, more delight than you can imagine. TWO Tyrannosaurus Rexes, a FLEET of Lamborghinis AND fireworks. Seriously. In just one little evening stroll.

Maybe six or seven years ago I woke up one morning and thought "Wow. Belle is driving and Bunny is in Middle School and maybe I would like a job." About an hour later I logged onto Facebook where my niece had just posted that her acupuncturist needed a receptionist. Random.  Gee. I could probably do that. And I did.

Me with the amazing boss and acupuncturist Sonya

Last January, after having been out of work a while, I once again thought "Hmmm. I need a part time job." I logged onto Craig's List and there was a posting for a receptionist at a psychologist's office. Gee. I could probably do that. And I did. Although when I applied there was a mix up with my emails and I missed my first interview appointment and then when I did actually interview I was told that the position had been offered to someone else and they were still thinking about it. Random. But I still did the  interview and the other person decided to do something else and I got the job after all.

Which leads me to being in Colorado and thinking "Whoa! I NEED a job. That has benefits. And pays. And is full time."   And there was an ad in the paper looking for a receptionist for a cardiologist that offered benefits and a salary.  And that's where I work now. Each little random occurrence built off the previous random occurrence.

And that brings me to this past few weeks of randomness that I have just loved.

While I was watching TV one night I got a text.

"Lets go Yankees!!!!"

From a number I didn't recognize. I don't think I know any Yankee fans. And I certainly didn't know any Tonys on the East Coast.  I considered being polite and replying "Wrong number." but instead decided to have some fun.

Tony may have had a few drinks already as he then confused me with Sam.

So I confessed to being a little old lady in Colorado and an Astro fan.

And he proceeded to keep me updated on the game through the night.

What a good sport.

Once it got interesting I tried to find the game on TV but no luck.

Instead I got a play by play by text from across the country.

Bunny said that was creepy and I shouldn't text him back.

But you know what? He seemed like a nice guy and obviously he loves baseball and why not?

I left him alone for the first game of the series. And the Astros lost.

So, being a tiny bit superstitious, I texted him during the second game. And he replied and we texted back and forth and O my goodness! That game 2 was the most exciting thing ever.

Every game that one of us sent a text to the other, the Astros won. The games that we didn't text, they lost. 

By the end of the Series I was apologizing but adamant that I needed to hear from him to make sure we won.

And the Astros won! Their first World Series ever. Such an exciting last game, such an exciting series and -to top it all off- the most marvelous marriage proposal at the very end.

And I told Tony he wouldn't have to hear from me again. Except maybe next year. I got no reply.
Until the next morning.

Ha. We shall see.


Embrace the random occurrences in your life.  You never know what will come of them.
And go treat the person behind you in the drive through to their breakfast/lunch/dinner. Because we are entering the holiday season and we all need something to be grateful for.

25 October 2017

Like I Mean It...

Doing it Like I Mean It.....

I've used this expression before. Do it like you mean it.

Back in October of 2014 I wrote a post about really committing to something. Do it like you mean it.
As an expat friend once told me: "No matter how long you think you will be staying, you should approach ANY move as if it is for the rest of your life."

So this time I am doing just that. 

I have 100% completed No. 20: MOVE! Honestly, when I put that on the list I was thinking more along the lines of maybe a smaller house, different location in the same city, nothing major. 

Cue a divorce, the Texas house being sold, and hmmm....needing a place to live. 

I wanted the cabin and got it. There's something about the mountains out the front door that speak to me. I am drawn to them. Think Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Richard Dreyfuss's  obsession with that mound.   As a teenager going to San Miguel de Allende, I always felt like I was coming home when we got in view of Tres Cruces, the  "mountain" ( hill?) on the edge of town. 

Liddy, me, Liddy's cousin Nancy at the top of Tres Cruces
Elevation: 7043 feet. Year: 1972

I had that same feeling when I went on safari in Kenya in the 1980s. Mountains equal Home.  Ridiculous considering I was raised in flatter than flat Houston.  

Me with Mount Kenya in the background.
Elevation: 7000 feet   Year: 1988

Anyway, I have my mountain home. So now.... do it like I mean it. 

The view out the front window.
I am living at 7000+ feet, looking out to 13000 feet. 
7000 feet elevation seems to be my happy place.

The plan was to give myself a month or two and then look for a job. But I happened to see an opening at the local cardiologist's office for a registration position. Hey! I've done just that. Twice now. Once for the acupuncture office, once for the psychologist office. How hard can it be? (Spoiler alert: Lots harder than the first two!)

I applied and now I'm employed. Imagine that. 

 Between the interview and the actual first day of work I decided it was time to to really commit. 

I'm no longer a Texas resident. After 44 years of having a Texas drivers license, now Colorado is in my wallet. 

Texas has lost a voter...unfortunately. Pretty sure Texas could use a few more liberal voters. 

The State Car of Colorado now graces the driveway. I figured if I was going to have to drive to work in the snow, I better get a car that is up to the task. LOVE love love my  new Subaru Outback.

Yay! Its the "not-the-Mercedes". 

The Texas storage unit was emptied and the cabin is now overfull with furniture. Slowly the duplicates are being weeded out and the style is changing from weekend cabin to home. 

Work is fun and challenging and just busy enough to keep me interested without being overwhelming. OK, some days are overwhelming. But I feel like I will catch on. With cardiology I am learning more acronyms than I even knew existed. HTN, SOB (not what you think it means- try Shortness of Breath), AFib, HX, on and on and on. Seriously this job might qualify me for completing No. 59: Learn 300 words of a new language. Tachycardia, ablation, edema...

Will I be here the rest of my life? That remains to be seen. The next year or so? Absolutely. 

Doing it like I mean it.