Thursday, July 17, 2008

Taking a walk you-know-where...

It has been sooo hot here; above normal temperature wise since early June. A walk in the woods had no appeal to me, especially since we have had little rain as well.
Wednesday morning I woke up early and decided I would venture out. Bernie was available to join me, one of the perks of being now officially unemployed.

Once we turned the corner on our street, a deer walked across the road in front of us. I was dismayed as my camera was still tucked away in my pocket and I couldn't get it up and on fast enough before the deer disappeared into the forest on the edge of the road.

Bernie told me to get my camera out anyway and get ready, noting that deer rarely travel alone.

Sure enough, within moments this deer was crossing in front of us.

Then twin fawns came out as well.

We have deer crossing signs on all our roadway; the deer know they have the right away.
As we walked around the corner, I wondered that I couldn't see them in the forest.
Turns out, they were right there waiting to get another peek at us as well!

We kept walking and I spotted some of the blue flowers that had been seen in the drainage ditch elsewhere. They really must be a wild flower; they were blooming deep in the woods where no store bought seed would have been scattered.
I still think they are gorgeous, and was glad to get a close up shot of them this time.

The "girls" are back in force, and many of them are creating webs that are at a perfect height to avoid forest creatures, but not high enough to avoid tall men walking in baseball hats. Bernie darn near had his hat knocked off by the strength of one web!

The lake was especially still and beautiful.
The spiders seem to enjoy the views as well. We fell into the habit of looking for the little male spider on each web as well; he being usually found directly above the female, sitting on the opposite side of the web, tummy to tummy as it were.
We created quite a domestic storyline about how spider couples spend their mornings, chatting over the plans for the day, hopes for dinner....

I do wish you could hear the soft cicada sounds that whirled about us. It was a soft high pitched rattle that went from rapid to quite slow.

This from the edge of what is now being called "Otter Point." I was unaware that Texas had otters!

It is a nice place to enjoy a break in the walk.

White and blue herons and egrets often are seen walking through the edge of the water. I try to capture them in a picture, but they inevitably blend right into the forest edge.

Tadpoles and whirl bugs rippled the surface of the water beneath us.

A canoe would be nice...but it really is too hot to want to exert oneself in that fashion.

Just lifting a camera and snapping a picture is about all the exercise I am up to beyond simply walking.
Love the clouds reflected in the water.

This red flower had eluded me forever. I can either get a close up of the stamen...(and it is interesting stamen.)

Or I can capture the whirled shaped petals.

I need to take a class and find out why that is....a Macro photography one day class is available at the U of U. I think I will try to take that class too.

The water looked especially beautiful this walk. I must have taken a dozen pictures of various views across the lake.

Once we returned home we were pleased to read the local paper's headlines: The housing prices are holding steady in Houston.
A walk and good news: what a great way to start the day.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sign me up!

Oh boy oh BOY am I excited!
I have just discovered the list of classes available at University of Utah Lifelong Learning.
As it is being promoted on the University's website:

"With work, family, and chores, who has time for themselves? You do! Our classes are designed with your busy schedule in mind. We offer one-evening get-aways, Friday evening date nights, and Sunday field trips. All told, we offer more than 100 ways to exercise your mind, body, and soul, make new friends, and see the world around you in a slightly different way. New classes start weekly."

I am informed by our son that everything in SLC is less than 20 minutes away from any other point in SLC. Zipping home after work, and then heading to the U of U for a class should be a piece of cake.

So tell me, what class shall I take first? Which class would you take first?

This one sound fun:

Albion Basin Wildflower Hike
Utah's fragrant, colorful wildflowers are at their best when framed by granite peaks, crystalline lakes, and lush grasses. Join us for a morning hike through Albion Basin as we introduce you to the dozens of species of blooming wildflowers in the meadows, and wetlands. Monkeyflower, monkshood, lady's tresses, monument plant, and penstemon are just a few of the 300 varieties of wildflowers that will delight your senses. Please be prepared for some hiking.

Hmmm...or maybe this one:

Appetizers Around the World
Antipasti, antojitos, hors d'oeuvres, meze, tapas--no matter what you call them, appetizers are a social food, consumed at leisure with the purpose of drawing people together. Usually the first course, they are meant to stimulate the appetite, not sate it, and are serious business all over Europe. Join us for a taste of why Europeans feel this way, as we explore the nuances of grilled tuna with green olive relish (Spain), shellfish fritters with spicy hot garlic mayonnaise (Southern France), polenta gratin with gorgonzola and mozzarella (Italy), fried cheese with lemon and olives (Greece), and crispy bulgur croquettes with pine nuts and spices (Middle East). This hands-on class is limited to 12.

Maybe it would be easy to meet new friends in this class:

Cocktails for the Cultured
Ready to move beyond beer and wine for personal pleasure and entertaining? Looking for variety from a few basic liquors so you don't have to break the bank compiling a full cabinet? Join us as we demonstrate techniques for making summer favorites such as mojitos, mai tais, champagne cocktails, and summer blends such as margaritas. You will leave with printed recipes. Please bring a photo ID that indicates your age to class.

(I suppose that would be one class where I would meet non-Mormons. Of course the class may lead to other classes...such as those held in private where the class begins with introductions that go something like "Hi, my name is .... and I am an alcoholic." Maybe I will have to think this one through.)

This class would certainly be different from what I usually study:

Crime Scene Investigation
Ever wonder how real-life forensic scientists help law officers solve a crime? Join us as we follow a crime from crime scene to courtroom, studying the relationship between the crime-scene evidence and the forensic scientist as we go. We'll look at procedures for recognizing and collecting forensic evidence, show you the physical and chemical testing methods common to most forensic laboratories, and discuss how test results help solve a crime as we tour the Utah State Crime Lab.

(I am really not interested in writing mystery novels, but I think this class would be a must if I ever decide to change genre.)

Here's one that I would love to take; I'm sure I would learn a lot:

Earth Art
Christo's 'Running Fence'; Walter De Maria's 'Lightning Fields'; Ana Mendieta's 'Silueta' series; Michael Heizer's 'Nevada Depressions' series; and of course Robert Smithson's 'Spiral Jetty' and Nancy Holt's 'Sun Tunnels'. Join us as we explore these and other earth art sculptures through slides, discussion, and a field trip to either Smithson's or Holt's Utah installation. Why create earth art? How does it enhance our understanding/appreciation of the natural world? How does one organize such a project? Who owns it? Join us as we engage our senses in both the classroom and the field to appreciate this most conceptual of all art forms. Tuition includes van transport for Saturday field trip.

(I've seen some of Christo's Running Fence, and encountered other such projects on a smaller scale, which are frequently referred to as "performance art." I imagine the conversations that would occur in this class would be invigorating!)

I took fencing years and years ago in would be such fun to give the blade another whirl!

Get a great workout and develop balance and agility while you learn or refine the techniques of modern sword fighting, including the garde, advance/retreat, lunge, and parry. You'll also get a chance to spar with others. All equipment and protective clothing are provided. A good court shoe is recommended; bring water.
(I'd especially enjoy taking this class with B. I used to win against the guys when I was in college...fencing in white short shorts might have had something to do with it though. Wonder if I should try wearing short shorts again....)

After that "stager" episode, maybe I should try this class before I start arranging our stuff in our new home. My college interior design classes...gosh...was it really THIRTY TWO years ago that I was last enrolled in formal training on that subject? Plenty of time to get the class in; we'll rent until after the first of next year.

Fundamentals of Interior Design
Would you like to improve your home and/or work environment, but don't know where to start? In this 8-week class, we'll cover basic design principles as we look at space planning, color, light, window treatments, furniture, finishes, and art and accessories. By class end, you'll have the confidence to create a more functional and aesthetic interior environment, either on your own or with a design professional. Please bring graph paper, an architectural scale ruler, and a #2 pencil to the first class.

Now I usually just gather flowers in my hand and plunk them into a vase. They look great...but wouldn't it be interesting to know a different approach?

Ikebana: Japanese Flower Arranging
Practice the art of Ikebana--the simple yet rich Japanese style of plant arranging. Working with fresh materials in special containers, you'll learn the balance, design, and form used by historic and contemporary masters to create works of art. Special fee covers a kenzan (flower 'frog'), vases, and all plant materials. You will leave with a fresh arrangement each week.

I already balance the investments in my retirement accounts, and have trained attorneys on how to research stock market filings, but I really should get a broader understanding of finances. Especially as a woman.

Investing for Women
Principles of investing may not change with gender, but communication styles often do. If you are more comfortable learning with women, this class is for you. We'll cover investment basics as well as more advanced strategies as we look at how to mix varying stock and bond choices for a diversified portfolio; examine the pros and cons of stocks that pay dividends versus those that do not; discuss diversification, risk tolerance, dollar cost averaging, and long-term investing; and offer guidelines for saving for large goals such as a home purchase, college tuition, and/or retirement. We will discuss the pros and cons of handling investments yourself or working with a qualified advisor; types of advisor and fees will also be covered.

(I super like the idea of how women communicate differently than men when it comes to money. If I take it, B. will have to find another class to amuse himself on those nights.)

After all that money stuff, maybe I'd take this class, just so I can wear some of my cocktail hats!

Mastering Martinis
Refreshing, sophisticated, and downright tasty, the martini is well established in our entertainment and cultural worlds. Learn how to make the perfect martini as we explore both martinis and martini cocktails, taste the difference between gin and vodka martinis, answer the age-old question 'What is vermouth?', and understand the ins and outs of serving martinis. Along the way, we'll talk about James Bond, debate shaken or stirred, and marvel at the current trend of martini bars. Please bring a photo ID that indicates your age to class. Jill is co-owner of Kristauf's, Utah's first martini bar; Josh is Kristauf's head bartender. Kristauf's offers more than 80 varieties of the martini.

(80 varieties! Maybe I should whip up a few more hats!)

Seriously though...I have been aware lately of China as a world power. I really need to learn more about it.

Media and Propaganda in Contemporary China
The reported tolls of dead and injured from the 1989 Tiananmen Square event ranged from 200 to 300 (People's Republic of China government figures) to up to 10,000 by some international media; the exact number will never be known. Using this historic event as a springboard for discussion, this class will explore the changing role of mass media in China. We will offer a historical perspective on the systems, practice, and regulations of Chinese journalism, then focus on current developments and the future direction of Chinese newspapers, television, and radio as it relates to China's emerging role as a world power.

Back to getting a buzz...times two!

Pairing Port and Chocolate
What goes best with the rich, sweet, dark berry flavors of fine port? The rich, sweet, dark flavors of fine chocolate. Express your decadent side as we explore the styles and levels of quality of Portuguese port and the origins and flavors of the world's most exotic dark chocolates. We'll taste four ports and four chocolates, then mix and match them for your personal top-prize taste combo. Please bring a photo ID that indicates your age to class.
(Wouldn't that chocolate brown velvet heart shaped cocktail hat that I made last winter be just PERFECT for this class?)

Being enrolled in a class on anything is always such a great conversation starter. I think this class might be a more of a conversation stopper though:

The Craft of the Obituary
Gemlike in its compression, the obituary is a neglected art form. Newspaper obituary pages are rife with formulaic accounts of lives concluded, denying lives well lived the memorable coda they deserve. In this workshop, we will learn the techniques of professional obituary writers, look at tone, selection of detail, and other writer's tools, then create a credible obituary. The goal is to give you the tools to honor your loved ones--or yourself--with an obituary of such quality that readers wish they had known the subject in life.

Whew...I think I'd need this class to balance out that class:

The Pleasure of Chocolate
Taste and enjoy the true pleasure of fine chocolate. We'll savor, smell, taste, and discuss chocolate made from cacao grown on three continents as we discover the distinct flavor nuances of each maker's craft. From milk chocolate to high percentage extra-dark, we'll explore the pleasure of fine hand-made chocolate (emphasis is on dark chocolate). We'll also touch on the discovery, history, and evolution of this wonderful food.

I did see a few dance and yoga classes, but no belly dancing. Drat...I guess I'll have to look elsewhere for that.

The one class I know I am going to sign up for ASAP is this one:

Full Moon Snowshoe Hike
Experience the mystical feeling of the full moon on snowshoes as we travel within the scenic Wasatch Mountains. You will receive tips on snowshoe technique, instruction in winter emergencies, and hot cocoa and snacks. Please bring boots suitable for snow and snowshoes (rentable at REI or through the U's Outdoor Program, among others). Students will be notified where to meet before class.
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Price: Tuition: $29.00 + Special Fee: $3.00 = $32.00


If you are curious, you can take a peek at the University of Utah's website to read all the classes that they are offering. They seem to be adding classes all the time.
What was the last class that you have taken to embrace the concept of being a lifetime learner?
Do school or programs in your area have interesting classes that you might explore?
Studies are showing that people who make a point of learning new skills and exploring new ideas tend to be healthier and happier as they age.

Personally, I plan to be one very healthy and happy old lady!
How about you?

(And doesn't that snowshoeing class sound like a perfect date for just a few day's before our anniversary? Oh my certainly does!)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Random Discoveries and observations

I knew I had put my grandmother's Bible in a safe place; after all, it was the one I carried down the aisle with me when I got married.

And indeed I had; it was in the back corner of my roll top desk, just waiting to be found again while I was packing.
Grandma Fay got it when she went to Israel years ago.
I thought the mother of pearl covers (both sides!) was a beautiful way to carry God's Word in my hands as a bride on my wedding day.
(At the time I didn't know I would become a librarian; carrying a book while getting married should have been a major clue!)

My other grandmother left me a pair of crystal candles sticks. Around the edge of the candle stick were dangling crystals about the size of my baby finger. One of them was chipped. I found a replacement for the chipped one, and then hung the old dangle out in the garden to catch the sun and make rainbows.

Apparently it got blown free of the bush I had hung it on. It came to rest against the side of the house. I saw it the other day and was reaching for it when I realized someone else now had claimed it.
The tiniest of little garter snakes was peering at me, amazingly nestled down in the cracks between the bricks.

I think a fantasy story could be written based on just the idea of a tiny snake who cherishes an antique crystal.

As much as I like fantasy, I find that right now (as usual) I am drawn to non-fiction. So far this summer I have read "Dying at Home" by Andrea Sankar. Laura is now working as a Hospital to Hospice Care Coordinator and I am reading a lot about Hospice to become familiar with her position.

I have also read a book about a Medical missionary to China who served in China from 1880 until the 1930's. Dr. Bliss had an amazing story!

The center book in the above picture is fascinating me right now. I am interested in exploring physical ailments that have brain resolution. An example of this is the condition where a woman (or a man!) begins to believe they are pregnant, and the body does everything that a pregnant body usually does, including going into labor. Everything is in place except a baby.

Then there is the interesting fact that people who are under hypnotic trance can be told that their warts are cured, and the next day the warts disappear. The author is a medical doctor in my hometown which makes the book even more interesting to me. He wonders if hypnotism can address warts on hands, then would the same idea work on genital warts or other body tumors.
Little by little medical doctors are realizing that a lot of medical conditions might actually be addressed by belief or mental mapping.
He has solved some of the ways brains allow people with amputation to continue to feel their limbs, and why some people with strokes are freaked out and worried about it, while others act like it is no big deal at all, and consider themselves ready to go home even when half their body no longer functions.
It is all about what part of the brain is working or not working, and this has only recently been demonstrated scientifically because of our modern tools to map brain stimulation and electrical signals.
I'm about half way through the book right now.
It, and the other book "The New Brain" has me astonished.
Interestingly, it also affirms my belief in faith as the basis of miracles.

It is nice to have a bit of leisure time now that the house is all tidy.
It just saddens me slightly to realize that I won't be able to have friends come visit me here from afar.
I have made it a policy in this home to always have a guest room ready for visitors and to provide for my guest's every need.
For instance, this brass pot. It is such a perfect spittoon!

Every time I look at it, I sigh, and am so sorry that my friend Lovella won't be coming to visit me here before I move.
I think she would have really loved to have been able to be here.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Let there be light!

Our house had it's first showing today.
I got a call from the scheduling agency at 11 am, asking if the house could be shown between 1 and 2.
Of course the house could be shown. Bring 'em on!
I gathered the few items that I had been using, such as my coffee cup, and a magazine and stowed them away.
Watered the patio plants so they would look fresh and sparkly.
Refolded some stacked items on B.s side of the closet.
Swept the front walk way.
Cleaned the litter boxes.
Moved our two cars down the street. The garage is rapidly filling with boxes, no room for cars anymore. House looks better with an empty driveway.
Took a shower and changed clothes. (Just sweeping, watering, and walking half a block automatically means a shower for me; it is hot and humid here, remember?) 12:45 I walked around the house turning on lights as per real estate agent's advice.
Houses show better with all their lights turn on.
(Or at least that is what I am being told.)

For me, that would be fifty three light switches to turn on.

Yup. I counted.
Next time around I will time myself as I do it.

No wonder B. is always waiting in the car for me while I go around the house switching off lights when we go somewhere in the evening.

How many light switches does your house have?
Bet you never thought to count before.
Bet you will now....
(I asked B. how many lights he thought we had. He thought around twenty three. Boy was he ever surprised!)