Now, Where Was I?

I read a lot of blog posts. The trouble comes when one post leads me to another, then to research something mentioned in said post, and completely forgetting to return to the original blog post to ‘Like’ or comment. Others must have the same problem, don’t they? I learn something new with each blog post and sometimes becoming a bit envious of other blogger’s ability to weave words so eloquently or amusingly or any other ‘ly’ word. I might change my style to write like that blogger or that one . . .  or . . .

Oh, there’s my Outlook reminder to get up and move around a bit. Where’s my daily chores list? How did that get there? Okay, walk done, now what was I doing? Check e-mails and follow up on some blog post notifications. Oh, yes. I remember now. Read another blog post. Research something in that blog post. What does that word mean? Snack time. Phone call. E-mail. Walk. Eat. Clean. Procrastinate a little or a lot. What was I reading? Start over. It’s a vicious circle, isn’t it?

Oh, look! There’s a great idea for a blog post! Where’s my recorder? Ah, found it. Now, what was I going to say?

~sigh~

~J

Perfect Day

One cannot plan or manufacture a perfect day. Perfect Days just happen. And, perfect days don’t come along very often. But, how do they happen? Is there a formula? How do the weather, company, food, health, and attitudes mix to develop a perfect day?

My husband’s sister and her husband and daughter stayed with us for a couple of days last week. They were making a touring circuit from Chicago and Colorado was included. After presenting a few local touring options, the final decision to visit Pikes Peak was made. With a picnic loaded, cameras at the ready, and designating the car for the “boys” and the van for the “girls,” our two-vehicle caravan made its way toward the Fourteener. The youngest grandkids were equipped with walkie-talkies, with the girls’ vehicle designated as ‘Eagle’ and the boys’ vehicle as ‘Falcon.’ (Our Miss M tended switch them around.) Frequent unintelligible chatter ensued. The predicted low temperatures and cloudy conditions proved to be in error. The sun shined brightly and there were just enough fluffy clouds to add interest to our photography.

Colorado has some of the bluest skies anywhere and this day did not disappoint. I removed my sunglasses occasionally to fully appreciate the blueness. We stopped at Crystal Lake Reservoir to enjoy the views from below the peak. A few families were fishing along lake shores. Crystal Lake is one of the reservoirs that provides water to Colorado Springs. The water table is good this year, thank goodness!

A bike race was in progress as we wound our way along the switch-backs up the mountain. The few remaining bikers making the ascent appeared to be struggling, yet still moving. (Mental note: never sign up for a bike race up Pikes Peak. Never. Ever.) The road leading us to our destination wound through the montane terrain filled with pine and aspen trees and then to treeless tundra. Large rocks covered the ground as we approached the peak. The walkie-talkie chatter became a little more excited.

The temperatures atop Pikes Peak were in the 40’s and 50’s F., made worse by the wind. We donned our sweatshirts and jackets and trekked to the Pikes Peak Summit sign to take the obligatory photos. (I’ve been up there so many times that I didn’t bother with a photo of  Hubby and I [yep, I forgot I’m a blogger] I did manage a quick photo of the grandkids so I could post it to my daughter’s Facebook page. She did not make the trip–afraid of heights.)  The view from the summit is always breathtaking (except when it’s cloudy, of course) and it can take one’s breath away (or that could be the wind). The kids were excited to watch the Cog Railway train approach on what our Mr. D called “weird train tracks.”

Our Miss M watching the Cog Railway train approach the summit.
Our Miss M watching the Cog Railway train approach the summit.

The views were magnificent from all around the peak and we all took our time taking in the scenes from every angle. Eventually, however, the cold air forced the littles inside the crowded Summit House to warm up. A couple of souvenir purchases later, we made our way back to the two-car caravan. Our Chicago relatives were feeling the altitude a bit, so the water and granola bars waiting in the van were much appreciated.

The views on our trip down the mountain were even more stunning than they were on the way up. Our descent was halted to enjoy our picnic at the Halfway Picnic Grounds, where the food was greatly appreciated. The kids (and some of us adults–okay just me) enjoyed climbing on the rocks. In the years past, we took photos of the kids in a tree near the picnic table, so we found another good tree to repeat the tradition. Our Miss M wasn’t really sure she wanted to do this when she saw how high she was sitting in the tree. But she smiled bravely for the photos and was the first to be removed from the tree. After a short hike around the picnic ground, we finished the descent, saying “So Long” to Pikes Peak.

Our two-car caravan took a short trek through Garden of the Gods park, including a stop to climb around Balancing Rock. Ending the day with a barbecue at home, including some yard games and the obligatory football toss, completed the exhausting, but satisfying day.

Not a particularly exciting day. Not a particularly life-changing day. Not a particularly eventful day. But definitely . . .

A Perfect Day

~J

Forever

BFF—Best Friend Forever. ‘BFF’ means something—not to be taken lightly. Forever. For Life. All the way to wheelchairs and zimmer frames.

The one person I always enjoy spending time with—another person in my life who understands and doesn’t demand; understands when I drive in a different direction rather than wait at a traffic light because we are still moving; laughing at roadside signs re-interpretations until our sides hurt; never a question to investigate ‘something shiny’; singing on road trips; ridiculous text messages; sharing good news. A friendship that holds great influence on our lives.

Friendships are a reflection of who you are. Together, We were confident and fabulous.

In When Friendship Hurts, author Jan Yager writes:
“Friendship has to be a shared commitment. It takes two to develop and maintain a friendship, but only one to end it.”

Was it me? Was it her? Did we merely need a friendship sabbatical? Was there an unhealthy attachment? Is letting go the best thing for both of us?

Can “forever” arrive early?

~J

Writing New Chapters

Ah, it has been a long time, Blogland. I’ve missed you!

In my last post, One Year Blogaversary, (Oh, my gosh! Two months ago!) I wrote that I needed to take a step back for a few weeks to regroup my thoughts. While I was able to get online occasionally to read blogging friends’ posts, it became increasingly difficult to comment and ‘like’ them regularly. However, the ones that I have sent to me via e-mail were a pleasure to read when I got the chance. I truly planned to get back to the blog sooner, but . . .

Life Happened.

Funny that. Things happen when you least expect it, even when you expect it. It’s inevitable. Like a pimple on picture day. Things may get a little worse along the way, but eventually it gets better. And we move on. Close the old chapters and write new ones. Hold onto family support and laugh at the little things. Shrug your shoulders and turn your back on the devil.

I am writing this early Sunday morning as the house is quiet. My youngest granddaughter spent the night with us and is still sleeping upstairs. My husband and I are each in our offices catching up on whatever it is we catch up on. (Is that a proper sentence? Does anyone really care that I play Candy Crush Saga at 6:00 a.m.?) Soon, we will go out for breakfast together and look forward to enjoying the day, whatever it brings.

Writing New Chapters

~J

One Year Blogaversary!

blogaversary image

One year ago, I clicked “Publish” on my first blog post, called My First Blog Post. Wow, that was original. My readers have been very supportive during this year, and I thank and appreciate each and every one of you!

How did this all happen?

My friend, Diane, had mentioned blogging for a few years, but I never took it seriously. I am not a writer and am very boring. Finally, one day in December 2015, D and I got together with wine for a “Corporate Meeting” to strategize plans for our joint blog. I think I was really tempted by the wine more than the idea of a blog (and our official wine glasses—they are polka-dotted!). Our efforts to decide upon a name were comical and frustrating. We eventually came up with something on which we agreed—“No Rocking Chairs” to reflect our active lifestyle as grandmothers. Neither of us were really in love with the name, but everything else we came up with was already taken or simply sounded stupid. Several glasses of wine might have had something to do with that.

A few years before this, D and I were seriously considering opening a gourmet popcorn shop. We both love popcorn and, at the time, there was only one popcorn shop in the Colorado Springs area and one west of the Springs on the highway to Woodland Park. After a few months of research and data collection, we found that other people had the same idea and acted more quickly than we did. Imagine researching locations, finding an ideal spot, going to look at it, and finding a sign over the door stating “Coming Soon-Pop It Up.” We immediately went to the nearest pub for a drink. A week later, we found another empty spot in a shopping center, looked at it, and visited with a nice gentleman who owned a jewelry store in the same shopping center. Before we could act, a popcorn shop opened in that very spot! Even more bizarre was the fact that this popcorn shop is owned by a lady D and I used to work with! We took this as a sign that we are not destined to own a gourmet popcorn store.

In the process of researching the popcorn business and visiting popcorn shops in the Denver area, one thing kept “popping” up (see what I did there?). Something kept appearing in name possibilities, decorative color choices, and while shopping. Poppies. Poppies everywhere. Everywhere we looked we saw something with poppies on them. I purchased a lovely painting of poppies for my dining room during this time as well. One evening, after a run, D and I were in the parking garage when I suddenly blurted out “Popcorn and Poppies!” Excellent! Why did this take so long to appear in our heads? However, we agreed that ‘Poppies and Popcorn’ sounded better than the other way around.

Poppies and Popcorn went live on June 9, 2015. The start was bumpy. Learning about WordPress, researching blogging advice, and managing the accompanying social media took a lot of time and effort. In spite of the bumps, we were off to a reasonable start. Eventually, however, personal time constraints forced D to bow out of the venture. I considered whether to continue or start anew. I chose to continue by simply changing the tagline from “Fabulous ends in ‘us’—Coincidence? We think not!” to “I have many thoughts. I write a few of them down.” Keep it innocuous.

After a year of blogging, which I love doing, I find that the blog isn’t really going in any particular direction. I’m frequently disappointed in my own writing. I love Wordless Wednesday and like writing a few Haiku poems every now and then. Three Things Thursday was extremely boring, so I’ve stopped that category.

I do not want to quit blogging, yet I feel I need to take a step back for a few weeks to regroup my thoughts and develop a plan for Poppies and Popcorn. So, I’ll pause posts for now, but will definitely be online to read my blogging friends’ posts to comment and like them. My thoughts were telling me to set a deadline, but I think I’ll just play it by ear for now. Sorry, left brain!

So, my friends, please watch Poppies and Popcorn’s Twitter account, Facebook account, and WordPress Reader for my return to posting. I’ll see you soon!

♥J

Awards—Part 2

Today’s post is a follow-up to last week’s post, Awards—Part 1, where my readers can begin to get to know me a little better. It also explains why it has taken me so long to respond to award nominations!

Thank you, Debra at Cultivating Time for nominating Poppies and Popcorn for the Versatile Blogger Award as well as the Liebster Award. If you haven’t visited her blog (cultivatingtime.wordpress.com/), please take a moment to take a peek. You won’t regret it. ♥

Thank you, Spence’s Girl at spencesgirl.wordpress.com, for nominating Poppies and Popcorn for the Liebster Award. Please stop in to say hello to her! She’s enjoying life and anyone who loves cats is A-1 in my book! ♥

Thank you, Suzy Barker at Just Midlife for nominating Poppies and Popcorn for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Suzy’s blog, I recently discovered Just Midlife blog is no longer available, but you can find Suzy at suzybarker.com/. Her blog chock full of lovely photographs and fabulous writings. ♥

Thank you, Sabine, at In Cahoots With Muddy Boots for nominating Poppies and Popcorn for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Sabine’s blog is so colorful with all her wonderful photos. Don’t hesitate to take a look at incahootswithmuddyboots.com! ♥

There may have been others who nominated Poppies and Popcorn for awards, but I’m unable to confirm those. If I’ve missed you, please let me know.

Now, let’s get on with the second part of the questions these lovely ladies gave me.

What is your favorite time of day to write for your blog?
     When I’m awake.

Do you have any pets and what kind?
     Sadly, our last fur baby passed away a couple of weeks ago.  L

What is your favorite flower?
     Daffodil

Do you prefer the beach or the mountains?
     There is no comparison—apples and oranges—both are fabulous. Mother Nature is a master decorator!

You can spend the day with any man or woman from history, who will you choose and why?
     Douglas Adams, author of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
     (I may be interpreting the word ‘history’ differently than intended here.)

What one question will you definitely ask them?
     Did you get confused easily?

You are stranded in a lifeboat in the ocean, like in Life of Pi – which animal will you share your boat with and why?
     Haven’t seen Life of Pi, so I’m not sure how to answer this one. It seems unlikely I’d be stranded in a lifeboat in the ocean with an animal, but since the question didn’t specifically state a real animal, I’ll choose a unicorn because they are magical.

What quote or saying about time do you like?
     “People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint—it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey stuff.” ~Doctor Who

If you could visit a fictional world from a book or a film, where would you go?
     Wonderland from Alice in Wonderland—I want to meet that white rabbit.
Second choice would be Pooh Corner.

You have to change your hair color and it has to be one of the colors of the rainbow. What color will you choose?
     Violet.
Orange wouldn’t suit my skin tone. Indigo—boring. Yellow—sort of already there. Red—been there. Blue might look nice with the grays, but no. Green—really?

Dream vacation! Where would you go?
     The Netherlands when the tulips are in bloom, to visit my friend, Pegg, and to finally meet online friends, Daniella and Maaike in person.

Which book are you reading at the moment?
     The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty.

Who is your favorite author?
     A.A. Milne, Edgar Allan Poe, Douglas Adams
Edward Rutherford is close to the top of the list as well.

What type of music do you like?
     All types (except RAP). There is appeal in every genre. However, I do gravitate toward heavy rock. The ‘70’s calls to me!

If you had to choose to live without one of your five senses, which one would you give up?
     Touch.

If you could master one skill you don’t have right now, what would it be?
     Social interaction. I really suck at it. I’d love to have the confidence to talk to anyone, anywhere and be fully engaged in any conversation.

If you could have one superpower what would it be and how would you use it?
     Mind reading. Seems obvious to me.

Thanks for stopping in. I know I’m not following the rules for each of the awards, but I really do appreciate the sentiments.

~J

Awards – Part 1

A few months ago (five!), I was nominated for the Liebster, Sunshine, and Versatile Blogger awards by several bloggers. I’m honored by the nominations and I promise I wasn’t ignoring you, my blogger friends.

Each award required me to nominate other bloggers with a certain amount of followers, which is to help promote their blogs. However, at the time, I had no idea how to find out that information! It was quite recently that I discovered how to find out the number of followers bloggers had. Yay! Then I also discovered how cumbersome it was within WordPress to check those numbers. ~Sigh~ The task was added to my weekly blogging task checklist, and I began slowly checking the numbers as time allowed. As I gathered the information and visited each blogger’s site, I found there are many ‘award-free’ bloggers and most of the bloggers I follow have already been nominated for the same awards many times over. Okay. Back to the drawing board.

I’m grateful for the opportunities provided me as I embarked upon this journey almost one year ago. So, I thought I’d at least answer some of the questions from the awards nominations so you, dear Reader, can get to know me a little better (or be lulled to sleep). There were a lot of questions, so this will be a two-parter.

Which song represents your personality?
            If that song has been written, it hasn’t reached my ears yet.

What three words would your closest friends use to describe you?
            Organized, weird (in a good way?), spontaneous (maybe even a little obnoxious—there, I said it)

What three words would you use to describe yourself?
            Organized, boring, anxious

If you could live on the water, in the mountains or in a major city, where would you choose and why?
            Is there a shoe store nearby?

There’s a knock at the door, your heart skips a beat and your stomach is all a quiver—who is at the door?
            It’s most likely a UPS driver delivering an Amazon.com order.

I’m coming for dinner, what’s on the menu?
            Most likely take-out. (See Not a Cook)

Would you rather live in the city or the woods?
            Again, is there a shoe store nearby?

What smell do you love?
            Vanilla or coconut

Who is your favorite actor or actress?
            Sam Elliott and Debbie Reynolds
Fun Fact: Debbie Reynolds and I are the same height!

What is your favorite comfort food?
            Tuna casserole

White wine, red wine or no wine?
            Red, but I’m beginning to appreciate some whites and blushes

What languages do you speak?
            I’m fluent in English (U.S.) and Gibberish, and can speak a little bit of Spanish
            (I can tell you if the window or door is open or closed, ask where the book is, the color of the cat, and ask where the bathroom is. All very useful things to know.)

Who is someone who inspires you?
            Social media sends me in so many directions, that inspiration comes in so many forms and changes almost daily. But, mostly, I have to say my hubby. He’s always inspired me to be a better person.

How do you define success?
            Nailing the directions from a Pinterest pin.

What would people be surprised to know about you?
            Introverted

What talent do you wish you had?
            The ability to say the right thing at the right time every time.

Which animal best represents you and why?
            Is a psychotic unicorn an animal?

If you could take only three items to a desert island, what would they be?
            Cell phone (fully equipped with charger), cell tower, electricity

What book has influenced you most?
            Cheaper by the Dozen
            The organization side of me thoroughly loved this book. I read it over and over as a child, imagining I was one of the Gibreth children.

Which fruit do you enjoy eating the most?
            Bananas, pears, strawberries, peaches, Golden Delicious apples, pineapple, oranges

Dark chocolate or milk chocolate?
            Either. Just give it to me.

What’s your favorite comedy movie?
            My Life. Oh, wait—that’s not a movie, is it?

Come back next week for Part 2!

Do You Have Pets?

“Do you have pets?” “Yes, I have three cats, a dog, and a husband.” That is, I used to say that.

As a child, we never had pets that stayed with us for life. My father was allergic to dog and cat fur, so we had an outdoor dog or two, but they would “disappear” and we’d move on. I never experienced the companionship of a pet as I was growing up. As an adult, my experience was much different.

Hubby had two dogs when I met him and shortly after we married, we brought a cat into our lives. Over the years, Hubby and I had a total of three dogs, a few hamsters, and five cats come into our home. Each was welcomed and loved until they died. They were our companions and entertainment. Each pet arrived in a particular stage of life. At the end of each pet’s life, we grieved and missed each one terribly. But, we had other pets who still needed us and required our attention and love. New pets fell into our hearts and filled our home once again.

Some people say, “They’re like your kids.” or “They’re like family.” I disagree. They aren’t like family, they are different. More than family. Faithful. Always needing you.

Because the last four fur babies were so close in age and hit the elderly stage of life simultaneously, the past few years have been especially difficult in our home. The difficult decision to let each one of them go is so heart-wrenching. We felt like an executioner.

We had already made the decision to not get any more pets, so when our last fur baby, Missy, became extremely ill a couple of weeks ago, we knew this might be the end having been through this so many times before. Our veterinarian ran tests, tried antibiotics and steroids, and ran more tests. He was very understanding and was clear in providing us with all our options. But most of all, he was honest. It was time to let her go.

Today, I get up in the morning to check the cat food and water dishes, finding an empty space on the floor instead. I open the window next to the chair in the guest room because that is where the cats loved to sleep. The chair is now devoid of cat fur. I stare at the cat tree still standing in the corner of our bedroom to see if a tail is hanging over the side. I sit a little to the side in the recliner in anticipation of a purring kitty joining me.

“Do you have pets?” “No, just a husband.” True, but not as funny.

01 - Parking Lot looking up

Gonna Climb a Mountain

Photo_of_a_Manitou_Incline_Railway_box_car,_1908
Manitou Incline Railway box car, 1908 Photo Special Collections, Pikes Peak Public Library District, Public Domain

About a month ago, I felt the need to climb a mountain
—well, sort of—
2000 feet straight up the side of the base of Pikes Peak.

The Manitou Incline is the remains of a narrow gauge funicular railway built in 1907 to access water tanks a the top of the mountain that were used to provide water pressure to the cities of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs. The railroad was later opened up to tourists, remaining in use until 1990 when a rock slide washed out the rail bed.

Today, the Incline’s steep grade (as steep as 68% in places) and 2,000 feet gain (almost one mile) in elevation makes it a popular fitness challenge.

Incline Scar
The Incline scar on the side of the mountain is visible from the edge of Manitou Springs, Colorado.
01 - Parking Lot looking up
Our view from the parking lot. Oy!

 

The day began cloudy and chilly. Joined by my friend, Diane, and my grandson, Alek, we stood at the bottom of the Incline in the parking lot, seriously considering what we were about to attempt. I was determined to complete the climb, so quitting or changing our minds were not options.

02 - Beginning
Ready or not, here we come!

The old railroad ties start out evenly spaced and pretty much intact, but soon, the years of damage become visible and creates a few spots that force hikers to step more carefully.
ties 1

ties 4

ties 3

ties 7

ties 5

 

ties 2

ties 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We met wonderful, encouraging people along the way—a guy in his 60’s who climbs the incline at least once a week; swim teams from Kansas and Washington in town for a meet who were ordered by their coach to do the Incline as part of their high-altitude training; several beautiful dogs; a young lady who was making a second try to reach the top after failing her first attempt; a guy and his toddler daughter who carried her part way in the child carrier backpack and part of the way in his arms (the toddler also enjoyed periods of crawling up some of the safer railroad ties); people speaking all kinds of languages; fit people; and unfit people—all determined to conquer the Incline.

03 - Lots of hikers
I didn’t expect so many people to be hiking the Incline in April.
04 - tree borders
There were many opportunities to stop, step to the side, and take a look back down the trail.

05 - places to rest on the side

 

06 - whos idea was this
So, whose idea was this, anyway? Oh, yeah. Mine.
07 - views were fabulous
We could see more and more of Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs as we climbed.
08 - where cars passed each other
This section is the double tracks where the railroad cars would pass each other.
09 - each stopping point amazing
Simply irresistable!
10 - steeper now
This is where the real cardio begins.
11 - our parking lot down there
Our parking lot is down there where the streak of red is.
12 - work volunteers worked on last year
Volunteers worked last year to shore up some of the the rock slide areas. They will be working on the Incline again this August.
13 - guy with toddler
We so enjoyed watching this guy and his toddler daughter. She was having the best time ever with her Daddy.
14 - best dory voice keep on swimming
In my best Dory voice, “Just keep on swimming!”
15 - fabulous views
Our step-to-the-side stops were becoming more frequent.
16 - dogs
Several dogs were enjoying the trip with their tongues wagging as much as their tails!
17 - sun out and almost to the top
The sun is out and we’re almost to the top!
18 - reached the top
We made it!

Hiking the Incline is grueling, but you forget it all when you reach the top.

And, in case you’re wondering, the recommended descent is via Barr Trail. Much easier!

I think I want to do it again.

~J