Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It's good to be home

Boulder is beautiful with its wide tree-lined streets and its ubiquitous bike paths and its views of the Rockies, but here it is home. The spring grass was green in Boulder and the trees were fresh and thick, but here it is lush, the verges overflow with wildflowers, 

the trees are varied, and the deer don't eat my fruit or flowers. 

The runners and cyclists on the Boulder trails are serious and intense, keeping fit, stretching themselves. Few of them respond to a good morning or hello, even though generally Boulderites are warm, chatty and hospitable. The people on the Monsal Trail - though retiring Brits - seem to find it easier to greet a friendly passer-by.

This is the view over my front garden wall:

This is the elderflower that grew from a cutting from my parents' garden:

Here is one of my borders: 

I'm finally over my jetlag and am tackling the pile of admin that's built up on my desk over the last three weeks. I've also just picked my gooseberries, and am picking strawberries every day. Soon it will be the blackcurrants. My sweet peas are yellow and sickly and I've just dosed them up with sequestered iron. My blackbird still sings at 4 in the morning. It's good to be home.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


It always feels a bit disloyal to the Colorado Hepworths when I say how pleased I am to be home after I've been to stay with them. It sounds as though I didn't love every single minute of my time with them, and that's obviously not the case. Who else am I expected to drink too many margaritas with and then beat at skee-ball?

No, seriously, folks. It was wonderful to be with them all. The skee-balling was a fraction of the fun.

But this is the longest time in 48 years I've been away from Dave and the longest time I've ever been away from our current home, with the fields all around, the views of hills and my garden. 

I kept asking Dave to send me photos of the garden, but he just doesn't 'see' flowers. This is what greeted me at the front gate. Isn't it lovely?

The garden has gone crazy and there's a week's weeding to do.

The other thing that has grown is the collection of yoghurt cartons, but the least said about that the better.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mixed emotions

It's a day of mixed emotions.

It's a happy day because it's Isaac's birthday and it's the first time I've spent it with him in over 20 years. Neither of us can recall when exactly the last time was. He moved to the States in 2003. I remember his very first 17th June, though. He was two weeks late but took only two hours to arrive. I remember the bright Sunday morning sunshine lighting up my hospital room, and someone else's midwife coming in and asking me to stop making so much noise: there were first time mothers along the corridor and I was scaring them witless. It was all pretty wonderful.

This is the man himself (he's photo-shy) with Wendy last night on a date:

Today he drove me up to a tiny gold rush town on a dirt road in the foothills of the Rockies and bought me the best slice of pizza I've tasted in years, in the general store.

photo by Isaac

Isaac may be camera shy but not when he's taking the photographs. Look at the beaut he took today in the same town:

photo by Isaac

But it's also a sad day today because of what's happening in London. As many of you know, Dave and I lost all our things in a warehouse fire 20 years ago, at a time when we were between houses. That loss was as nothing to what happened to the poor residents of Grenfell Tower this week. I cannot imagine the horror and terror they must have gone through, and are still living through. It is beyond imagining. I think of them all today from thousands of miles and a world away and hope they are being looked after. I am staying off politics, not because it is not relevant, but because it is not what this post is about.

'Our life is love and peace and tenderness, and bearing one with another, and forgiving one with another and not laying accusations one against another, but praying one for another, and helping one another up with a tender hand.'

Isaac Pennington 1667

Friday, June 16, 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Boulder biking

I know I've been a bit iffy about the Boulder climate up to now, thinking it rather anarchic - snow in the morning, T shirts in the afternoon -  but I've never visited in May and June before. Now, unlike in the UK, you can depend on sunny weather. So when I went on a bike ride yesterday and forgot to take my camera, it didn't matter. I knew it would be sunny today and I could go again and take some photos.

The bike paths around Boulder (which are technically called multi-use paths and are the equivalent of British bridle paths) are fantastic. I was missing my bike, but now the kids are out during the day and I can cycle, the biking here is a fine substitution for the Monsal Trail. Actually, it's better in that you can have circular routes, and not just there-and-backs.

This is the start of my route today, just up the street from here:

And all the views that follow are taken from the Boulder Creek path. This is the Boulder Creek itself, which is currently full of meltwater from the Rockies:

Further along said trail:

It was hot and sunny all the way and every time I stopped to take a picture, I had to drink some water. You can feel the air is thinner here, and you need to keep hydrated.

There is another difference from the Monsal Trail - instead of rabbits, you see little prairie dogs:

I was very tired when I got home - more tired than I would be from an equivalent ride in Derbyshire. The altitude makes a noticeable difference, which is why so many world class athletes come to train in Boulder. I have no such pretensions. I'm in it for the fun, the exercise, the views and the sunshine.

Monday, June 12, 2017

What's happening here

It's a new week. The girls have both gone to circus camp for the day, Wendy is having the 15th of her 33 radiotherapy sessions, and I'm going to write. And although I'm glued to the news back home, I'm going to attempt to keep my politics off the blog and restricted to Twitter. 

Yesterday, we celebrated Cecilia's fifth birthday. She climbed into my bed in the morning fully dressed, and sang Beatles songs while shaking maracas. (Cecilia is the patron saint of music and musicians, and so far our Cecilia is living up to the name.) 

In the morning we sat at the end of the road for a while and watched the cycle leg of the IronMan Boulder, cheering on these amazing athletes with drums and aforementioned maracas. Here is the local celeb, Cecilia:

photo by Isaac

And here she is when Wendy lit the candle on her humungous cupcake:

photo by Isaac

It was a good day. Happy Birthday, Cece! 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Mornings in Boulder

Every morning the children come and get into bed with me when they wake up. We chat, play games and read. This morning I was reading the news on the iPad when they pattered downstairs to my room - first Lux and then Cece - and got into bed and put their heads on the pillow and closed their eyes. They fell asleep and I was trapped between them. This has never happened before. I wrote some emails, but after half an hour, I needed a pee. Could I extricate myself without waking them up?

I am now in the adjoining room with a cuppa, blogging.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Celebration in Boulder

If you're in Colorado you don't have to stay up all night to follow election results.

Congratulations to Jezza for his stonking success!

And thanks to Wendy for the margarita.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Shocked, appalled and ashamed

I may be staying on another continent living in the world of Ramona and her Mother (we've finished Ramona and her Father now), in a place where my reading companions say things like "Wouldn't it be great if there was a unicorn who could fly round the world delivering rainbows?" but I am still in touch with the real world back in blighty. More's the pity.

To be specific, I am ashamed that billionnaire owners of the most popular newspapers - which give a new high-viz definition to the term 'the gutter press' - and who think the rich should inherit the earth, are so desperate that a politician promising a future "For the many, not the few" should not win the general election, that they print pages of lies and smears against said man. Yes it was a long sentence, but I couldn't stop it.

I was the sort of little girl who didn't believe in unicorns but who did believe the world was a beautiful place and that people were basically kind and good. I am battling despair at the state of the world and the unethical, immoral no, BAD behaviour of so many people in power. But I refuse to despair. If the Maybot wins the election tomorrow, as she probably will, I will be sick at heart. But I shall still refuse to despair. I will try my best to do what I can to make the world a better place. 

I will choose love.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

as American as...

Up until yesterday I didn't realise that lemonade stands are an American institution, like yellow school buses and 'baseball.

Anyway...after being read the chapter in which Ramona thought of having a lemonade stand, Lux decided she would like one. So yesterday morning Isaac and the girls made some delicious lemonade, and at teatime the girls set up shop on the sidewalk with a bubble machine and a Beatles soundtrack (Cece's current favourite music) and waited for customers. 

Photo by Isaac

They got six, and were very pleased with their takings. Not bad for a street that looked like this:

This is the same street that a mountain lion walked down on Friday. And the same street from which a bear walked onto the patio to nose around for food in the early hours of Saturday morning. 

I much prefer the human wildlife.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Reading the classics

When I was here at Christmas, the girls were happy to sit on the sofa in front of the fire and work through a pile of picture books with me. Things have changed. Lux is almost seven and has grown out of a diet of Julia Donaldson, Oliver Jeffers and Allan Ahlberg. She now likes being read stories with chapters. Hooray for Beverly Cleary and Ramona.

I don't want to do a hatchet job on Enid Blyton, because her books got me hooked on reading. But even a ten year old family member (who these days prefers to remain anonymous) who'd been given a supposedly updated version of a Blyton book for reading practice, was not impressed. He criticised Blyton for a superfluity of exclamation marks, as well as for various other shortcomings. Well, there is no excuse for anyone to read Blyton now: there are so many better options.

The Ramona books are classics. The first one  - Beezus and Ramona - was amazingly first published in 1955. Lux and I have just finished reading Ramona the Brave (pub. 1975). It is engaging, funny and touching and has not dated one bit. I envy Cleary's writing talent, and I am ridiculously happy we have a pile of Ramona books to read before I go home.

We're not just reading. The list of activities is endless, but I'm way too tired to tell you what they are. And Lux does play video games on an old phone sometimes. Today she taught me how to play Swampy. I enjoyed it and wanted to keep going but after several levels she said: "This level's really hard for you, Sue. You won't understand it at all."

Lux and me

And here is Cece, who has another week before she breaks up, poor thing: