Sunday, February 15, 2015

Notes From The South Country

Feel free to remind me of this late next spring when it's 116 down here, and we haven't left yet for 80 degrees up there: We're 70 degrees warmer here than there so far today, and were 81 degrees warmer yesterday. Our lows haven't gone much below 55 for a few weeks now, and our highs fluctuate mostly between 70 and 80+. I think we actually had three nights with frost warnings in December. When we get current weather condition for Minnesota, Steve and I try not to gloat. (OK, full honesty: I try not to gloat. Steve gloats.) We did work hard for this, after all. No, we don't miss the snow and ice, no matter how much somebody else tries to claim how beautiful it is.

Enough! Nothing is beautiful when you've had years of too much of it, accompanied by being miserable and even injured. We don't fall on ice and ruin our knees down here! Halleluia!

We also don't have to mow. Landscaping the yard with rocks beats grass any day. Less to water, nothing to mow and fertilize, and very few weeds.  There is, however, pruning. This fall our Mexican Bird of Paradise had bushed out and bloomed spectacularly, thanks to having somebody around to finally prune it back in February. That job just got finished for this year, at leisure. I still have to chop the branches into small lengths for disposal inside a box. The garbage company insists that thorny clippings be boxed for the safety of its employees. Can't say I blame them.  We saved a lot of moving boxes for just that purpose.

Speaking of moving boxes, a lot more are empty now. We finally finished moving into the library. The super-sized books are grouped but not indexed: maybe next year. The other two walls of mostly fiction are alphabetized and indexed on my laptop with a printout for easy reference, as well as finally alphabetized on the shelves. That was this week's project, with the two of us working through most of three days. There was a nearly complete printed list for reference as we worked, making the job fairly easy. It's so much better when you can't find a set of books but know that you need to save however many inches of shelf space for when they do turn up. It's also handy for adding in the surprise books to the index list. Once complete the list can be referred to when thinking about shopping for the latest from a certain author so one doesn't double-shop. (Hey, nobody else does that, right?)

Anyway, Paul, many thanks for building us the library. Eventually we'll decide what we want to do to turn the closet into an office and invite you down again. OK, OK, you have an open invitation regardless, but....

The two-day rain we had last month has brought leaves again to the palo verdes and ocatillos, reassuring us they actually survived transplanting into our yard - or not, in one case. Our recent trip to the Botanical Gardens again assured us that some things that have not leafed out in our yard haven't done so there either, so it's too early to write them off quite yet.

The new trees in the back yard got a bonus last month, and I'm not talking fertilizer or such, though the dogs do their bit for the cause. No, we finally took the two boxes of solar lights picked up at auction three years ago which sat down here unopened all this time, and the two of us assembled them and poked them in the ground around the bases of the trees. They not merely decorate them in the evenings, but should we have company trying to wander the back yard at night, they can avoid tripping over, breaking, or impaling themselves on otherwise invisible young trees. For that matter, it works for us too.

Steve actually organized his closet this winter. I have plans to do so with mine. My thought is to separate by warm and cool weather, tops and bottoms, and what fits and what doesn't (but might someday). I call it a thought-in-process. Definitely not a work-in-process. I may actually get bored enough to do so one day. Alternatively, I may find myself working so hard to avoid doing something else that the closet actually gets done instead. Perhaps around tax time?

Somehow the more we do down here, the more we feel like doing things down here. I suspect it has to do with the weight of expectations and obligations lifting as we emerge from the chaos. The job ahead is not so daunting that it seems impossible, to be avoided at all costs. There's still a preponderance of leisure making up our schedules. Reading, TV, food prep, lots of napping rule the days. There have been weeks when doing dishes become the major "extra" activity. Keeping up with recorded TV can become a chore. That shower can wait another day. Maybe two. But then stacks of full boxes shrink, stuff becomes identified and relocated, simply living becomes easier where it used to - however ridiculous it seems - just add to the list of challenges.

One simple example of simple being complicated is X-mas cards. Every year it involves selecting THE picture, pairing with THE caption, finding the company that comes closest to turning plan into product, and addressing all the cards. However, we skipped last year, resulting in a higher number of changes of address and addressees. Topping it all off, there was actually finding the source material: where was that darned picture anyway? Which camera, SD card, what interfaces and linkups? When it turned out it was a digital file that a hardware problem turned to irretrievable, requiring a reshoot, it was just another reason for delay even after the determination was finally made that it had to be done, now. Everybody's cards became New Year's cards, and I just now received a missing address so there's still one I can send out, plus one I still can't.

So it goes.

We just passed our anniversary yesterday. Steve and I agreed this year to do nothing special for it. No dinners out, no flowers, no presents. No straining the budget. No extra expectations. Just appreciation for each other. And hey, finishing the library was a pretty cool thing to do for each other. And with each other.

What more could you ask?

Well, besides a beautiful sunset, sitting out on the patio, in shorts, in February, listening to the birds settle in for the night, watching the solar lights pop on.

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