Saturday, December 31, 2016

snapshots of my current life in Boulder

losing my best cashmere jumper for three days, thinking it's gone forever, and then finding it being used as a doll's underblanket

Cece sitting on the downstairs loo down the corridor shouting out, a propos of nothing: "I love you, Sue!"

the pedicurist telling me she likes my socks and my responding that I bought them at McGuckins (a well-known Boulder independent hardware shop) and feeling like a local

wondering why the baked potatoes aren't cooking at 200 degrees, and Isaac reminding me that they cook in Fahrenheit over here, not Centigrade

seeing a bobcat in the garden - halfway in size between a domestic cat and a labrador - and finding out they are vicious, eat deer as well as rodents, should be avoided as urgently as one would avoid a bear (which I saw in the garden last year) and that animal control should immediately be alerted

playing game after game after game after game of Guess Who (fortunately I like Guess Who)

eating the tastiest Christmas turkey I have had in years

seeing seven deer calmly grazing in the garden (on a different day from the bobcat's visit)

mastering the vast washer, the immense dryer, the dishwasher, learning which day the weekly milk is delivered and where to store it, but failing to realise that the temperature one cooks things at should be not only in Fahrenheit, but also altered for the higher altitude 

loving the way the children say "aminals" not "animals" and hoping this continues for another couple of years

being so pleased at a delivery of ready made food from a friend of Isaac and Wendy's and then when warming it up, managing to burn it (though the majority of it was edible); oh dear, it seems that anything to do with cooking over here has been my Achilles heel

taking an afternoon walk in crisp air under a blue sky with a view of the mountains, wearing my sunglasses 

being so delighted at learning how to use the complicated television controls that I do a victory dance, waving my arms around and puncturing the paper lampshade with the remote 

watching the Ellen DeGeneres show (during the aforementioned pedicure) where a novice screenwriter is picked up in a Starbucks and asked by Ellen to say what the screenplay is about in three words, and thinking OMG a one sentence logline was hard enough, and watching enviously as she is invited onto the show to have a scene acted out by Ellen and Tom Hanks, and then when they ham it up, feeling grateful it's not my screenplay they are massacring

drinking wine during the pedicure and moving on to a Mexican restaurant with Isaac and Wendy and getting sozzled on just one margarita and wondering if alcohol makes you drunker quicker at higher altitudes (Boulder is a mile high)

realising with some dismay (at my insularity?) that the kids telly programmes I enjoy the most are either English or Irish....oooh,  oooh, apart from Paw Patrol

Wishing you all a Happy New Year from Boulder!

Friday, December 30, 2016


There's been some slack in my schedule this week so I've managed to finish Margaret Drabble's latest book The Dark Flood Rises. I found the book rambling, with no apparent structure and no plot to speak of, and yet it was strangely gripping. I skimmed some of the numerous paragraphs about the art, architecture and cultural history of the Canaries as i found them boring (you know very well I'm lowbrow) but I enjoyed Drabble's style, I loved her characters, but most of all I was interested in her themes - aging and death. It sounds gloomy, but  it wasn't; I'm not sure, though, that a reader younger than 65 would enjoy it. For me, there were a lot of aha moments.

Next up is Patchett's Commonwealth, a wonderful present from Isaac and Wendy.

Monday, December 26, 2016


This feels like the first quiet lie-in I have had for months, but in fact it's been less than two weeks. We had a wonderful Christmas Day at Wendy's mother's house, which backs onto a lake, 65 miles north of Boulder. Look at that fabulous sky over the frozen lake...

There was a lot of noise, excitement and fun. Here is Lux with the large panda she asked Father Christmas to bring.

It was sweet to share a Christmas with people who are still believers, Tate and Gil having long grown out of this. Did you know you can even track Santa's progress round the world on your iPhone?

We even had snow yesterday...

It's quiet here in Boulder because the children stayed over for a sleepover with their cousins, while Isaac, Wendy and I drove home to a quiet house. So this morning I have been lying in bed listening to BBC Radio's The Listening Project undisturbed, fetching mugs of tea, coming back to bed to write emails, and now I even have time to blog. This will not last. Lux and Cece arrive home later (with delicious leftover turkey - hooray!) and normal activities and energy levels will resume, theirs and mine. This week Isaac isn't out at work: a huge boon for everyone.

All photographs by Isaac.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas bulletin from Boulder

I have wanted to blog before now but have not had clarity of mind at the same time as energy at the same time as opportunity. Now I am snatching a moment to say:

Wendy is up and about and feeling much better - which is wonderful.

There is no time to write anything else. The hordes will return in a minute. 

Happy Christmas to you all from Boulder! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fun with yoghurt pots

Will post from Boulder when I have a minute. In the meantime, here is something we played earlier.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Change of plan

There's been a change of plan. 

Dave is going to have an OFF Christmas here, and I am flying to Boulder to be with our family there. Things are tough for them right now, and I'm going over to try to help.  Amongst other things, this will involve driving on the wrong side of the road in snowy weather in an automatic car. Eeek. 

When things aren't quite so frantic remind me to tell you about the time I drove out of San Francisco on my own all the way to Yosemite and back ON MY OWN: one of my proudest achievements. I'll see you when I see you, or rather, you'll read me when you read me.

Happy Christmas!

Friday, December 09, 2016

The tree

The first thing to say is that Wendy is doing OK. She hopes to be home by tomorrow. The second thing to say is thank you for all your good wishes and prayers. We appreciate them so much.

Yesterday, after a few weeks break, I had a sax lesson. I was feeling worn down with worrying about our Colorado family, and people keep saying to me "You're looking tired, Sue," but seeing Mel for a lesson is great therapy in so many ways.

Me: "I haven't practised, Mel. Isaac and family were here for a week, I was ill for a week, and now I'm a bit...."

Mel: "Do you like Christmas music?"

Me: "Great idea!"

So we played some old standards together and had a lot of fun - Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, Chestnuts roasting round an open fire, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, and Santa Baby. Mel is even cheeesier about Christmas than I am. 

Having said that, I'd been wondering about whether to bother with a Christmas tree this year, even though it's an ON Christmas. The family aren't here on Christmas Day - I'm going to Zoe's house - and it feels like a huge indulgence, with so many people (even in the UK) with not enough to eat, never mind not being able to afford Christmas presents for their kids. Some of our family have charity donations instead of presents; maybe the next step was giving up the tree and making decorations from stuff in the garden? Was it OK to buy a tree just for my pleasure? Last year's tree that I planted in the garden after Christmas has not survived.

Mel persuaded me it was. I was worth it.  I bought one and loved it even before it was decorated. That is how much I love the tree. 

Bring in a tree, a young Norwegian spruce,
Bring hyacinths that rooted in the cold.

Bring winter jasmine as its buds unfold -
Bring the Christmas life into this house. 

The quote above is from a poem by Wendy Cope called The Christmas Life. I don't have permission to publish it, but you can read it here. I love this poem. Do read it.

Thursday, December 08, 2016


Tuesday, December 06, 2016

everyday post

Some news for regular readers -  Wendy has her surgery tomorrow - Wednesday. She is having a  double mastectomy and reconstruction. (This is not private information, oh sibs who think I sometimes overstep the mark.) 

Here she is with the girls at the weekend:

We hold her in our hearts. 

The second thing to say is - thank you for all your book suggestions. I now have a list I can refer to in the coming weeks. I've started on William Trevor's Love and Summer and then I'll move on to Our Spoons Came from Woolworths by Barbara Comyns. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett doesn't come out in paperback till next May, sadly, so that will have to wait. 

Thirdly, I am better from the virus. 

Yesterday I went for a long walk on my own, setting off from the house. It was very healing. I climbed up to the top of Longstone Edge which runs behind the village.  It was raw and very misty, but also bright. Even at midday the frost was still sharp where the sun couldn't reach.

I met no-one on the top, and no-one on the descent and it was wonderful. But I realised I should have taken my mobile phone with me, because if I'd fallen, I might not have been found until Dave alerted the search and rescue helicopter. That would have been bloggable.

Here's a view from the top. The bright spot in the lower part of the photo is the sun reflected in a dewpond.

I moan about living here in the winter, but on still days when there is even a smidge of sunshine, it's heaven. 

Saturday, December 03, 2016


I would love some suggestions as to what to read. 

I want a novel that:

is set now or in the last 100 years;

is beautifully written in simple prose;

has a fair amount of dialogue, and no descriptive passages of more than two pages at a time;

is not experimental, magic realism, crime, or SciFi; 

is not violent, and does not contain references to child abuse;

has a compelling story.

It can be serious or comic, but I don't want anything lightweight.

Does anyone have any suggestions?


Thursday, December 01, 2016


I am still laid low by this God-awful virus, and we still don't have a date for Wendy's op.

Added to all of this, I have been trying to work out a blog post about friendship and it won't come together. So I am going to rant instead. 

I came across a C S Lewis quote about friendship two days ago that I profoundly disagreed with. Here it is. It's bollocks.

This is not how I see friendship. Is this how you see friendship? I feel sorry for C S Lewis that he thought this is what friendship is.

I'm not going to deconstruct it today and say why it's bollocks, I don't feel well enough. My sinuses are full of snot and it's leaked into my brain. 

But here's another thing. I hate it when people misattribute quotes. It drives me nuts. Have you noticed that all witty quotes - whatever the voice - are ascribed to Oscar Wilde? And how many wise and profound quotes are ascribed to C S Lewis? I was looking on the net to find out who came out with the wonderful "A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words" and guess what? People were saying the author was C S don't-understand-friendship Lewis. I ask you.

It was not him. The origin is unknown/unverified.

I've run out of rant. And just to give C S Lewis his due, I'd like to share something he DID say that I often find helpful:

I'd also like to share a photo from the generous Rosemary Mann. It was taken above Hawes in Wensleydale this last week: