Rocky Mountain Songs

As I mentioned the other day, for all intents and purposes, Bill and I are homeless. Not homeless as in having no access to shelter; homeless as in no access to our own home. It’s a good thing, really, because it means that progress is being made and our remodel is in its last days.

We left for Estes Park on Sunday after church. While we were gone, Joe continued sanding the floors. Today is Tuesday, and he is still sanding the floors. Needless to say, progress isn’t going as quickly as I’d hoped. I am keeping my fingers crossed that he will be able to finish up the sanding this evening and maybe even begin staining.

By the way, I don’t think I’ve mentioned that Joe (who, I might add, is doing a very good job on the sanding, and believe me, Bill keeps close watch) can only work in the evening because he has a daytime job. It is making things go a bit slower, unfortunately.

In the meantime, our house is virtually unusable. The path to my washer and dryer is completely blocked by furniture. My refrigerator is in the hallway between the kitchen and the family room. It is plugged in, so we have access to food. It doesn’t do us a lot of good, however, since the doors are off on my ovens (they had to be removed to move the refrigerator out of the kitchen), so I am unable to cook. We are currently living in our bedroom.

Bill and I enjoyed our brief visit to Estes Park, however. We spent a bit of time walking downtown, where we made the mandatory taffy stop…..

We ate dinner Sunday night at a restaurant that has been a part of Estes Park as long as I can remember called Nicky’s. I enjoyed Rocky Mountain trout…..

……and finished up our first evening listening to the elk bugle, one of my favorite activities in the fall. It was a beautiful night, and the elk thought so too……

We woke up early on Monday, had a few cups of the pretty bad coffee offered in the room, then prepared to go someplace for breakfast. As Bill took his shower, I took my cup of coffee out onto our deck to enjoy the early morning, and was greeted by a 12-point bull elk munching away just below our second floor patio. It wasn’t long before he was joined by two of his closest buddies….

It was a sight to behold. The owner of the Deercrest Resort (where Bill and I stayed) came out to chat a bit and told me that they are there almost every morning in the fall. Either they have already gathered their harem or they prefer the company of one another. I don’t care, because they gave me a good show.

We returned last night to Denver because I had an appointment in the afternoon, and spent the evening in our room watching The Voice with the background noise of a sanding machine.

Day at a time….

Thursday Thoughts

Rocky Mountain Visit
Now that things have settled down a bit here, Bill and I are taking a quick trip back to Colorado next week. I am looking forward to seeing everyone, and it’s good timing because it will be Spring Break for all of our Denver grandkids. I have learned that the two littlest McLains will be visiting their Aunt Julie for much of the week, so I hope I can see them for a quick hug and kiss before they leave for Montana. And I’m hoping that Dr. Cole can take a break from his busy medical practice to see me….

I was saddened to hear about the terrorist attack yesterday in London, as were people all around the world. It particularly shook me up, however, because the site of the attack was right next to the hotel in which Court stayed during a January business trip to London. He undoubtedly crossed the Westminster Bridge during one of his walks. It reminds me that one never knows what will happen on any given day. My prayers to all people involved.

What Time is It?
You may or may not know that Arizona doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time. No one in the desert has any desire for an extra hour of sunshine when the temps are in triple digits. I understand that, but man I get so confused trying to keep track of what time it is in places other than where I live. I have literally been unable to connect with my Colorado family any way but texting because by time I think of calling, it’s too late because they are an hour ahead of us. Plus, more important, I have trouble voting on The Voice because for reasons I don’t quite understand, they think I’m in Denver. So by the time the last performer sings, my time to vote is nearly up. Such problems, right? So, if you have been wondering why it seems that I’m posting my blog later, the truth is I’m posting my blog at the exact same time. It’s just later for you.

Hot Stuff
I’ve committed to making one of my beautiful afghans for my grandson Alastair. Up until now, I have been steadily crocheting these afghans, which are simple to make but look and feel amazing because they are made of Bernat blanket yarn – a thick and extremely soft yarn, perfect for snuggling. He is feeling a bit left out because I hand-made items for each of the girls for Christmas. I attempted to make him slippers, and I found that for reasons I can’t explain, I simply had no luck. They were huge. They were crooked. They were awful. So I bought him a pair of slippers. So when they were here, he asked for one of those afghans. I have the yarn and my will is strong; however, it has been in the mid- to upper-90s, and sitting beneath blanket yarn has been quite unpleasant. I will persevere, however. His birthday is in April.


Thursday Thoughts

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Austin and Lilly

Catch My Show in Poughkeepsie
We miss our grandkids a bunch. Oh, we miss our kids too, but what can I say? There is something about our grandkids. Quite frankly, I’m using my siblings’ grandkids as filler because, well, they’re all here. Tuesday night I babysat Austin and Lilly while Mark and Maggie went on a work-related dinner thingy. I decided that there is nothing cuter than 2-year-olds. They can understand everything you say to them. They can communicate with you, either through rudimentary language or, in Lilly’s case, something a bit more vocal. As I watch Lilly, I can hardly wait to get home to see how my own little almost-2-year-old Cole is doing. (He will be 2 in May.) For reasons likely related only to



being 2, Lilly thinks I am hilarious. The other night, I used a jack-in-the-box to delight her. I cranked the handle and when the clown (or in this case, the sock monkey) popped out, I threw it up in the air and screamed. You can see how absolutely hilarious this is, can’t you? Well, maybe not, but Lilly certainly did. All 78 times that she had me do it. She belly-laughed each and every time, as Austin looked on in amazement. Apparently, when you’re 5, you aren’t quite as easily amused.

I Suppose You Also Still Leave Voice Messages
Speaking of grandkids, last Friday – the day we were at the baseball game – when I looked at my iPad upon arriving back home, I saw that I had not one, not two, not three, but a total of four missed Facetime calls from 5-year-old Mylee. It was dinnertime, and when I tried her back, no one answered. So, the next morning, which was Saturday, I Facetimed her once again. This time she answered. “Nana,” she said with great exasperation in her voice, “I tried Facetiming you yesterday and you didn’t answer.” I said, “I know, I saw that you called, but we were at a baseball game and didn’t get home until later.” During the course of our conversation, Mylee complained three or four more times that she had tried to Facetime me the day before. Finally, I said to her, “Mylee, listen to me. I don’t have an iPhone. I have an android phone and it doesn’t have Facetime. So I can only get my Facetime calls on my iPad. Since we were at the baseball game, I didn’t have my iPad and therefore didn’t get your call until we got home.” Stunned silence. “You don’t have an iPhone?” she said incredulously. My status fell in Mylee’s eyes that day. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that I let her play with Play Doh at my house and allow her to eat only the cream filling from Oreos, I’m not sure I could rebound.

What Are You Doing Next Friday?
As does nearly any place you go nowadays, Bill’s maxillofacial surgeon (in real-life terms, that’s the guy who yanked out two of Bill’s teeth a couple of weeks ago, inserted an implant, sent him home still reeling from anesthesia, and sent him flowers) asked him to fill out a survey. As incentive to do so, he was promised two free movie tickets. He did fill out the survey and received the two free tickets yesterday in the mail. Flowers and a movie? It sounds more like dating than dentistry!

Finding Nemo
Finding DoraThe other night while watching The Voice, I must have seen one commercial three or four times. The ad was for the fish sandwich being served by Culvers. According to the ad, the fish is flown in unbattered, and each restaurant batters the fish and fries it right at the restaurant. The commercial then showed a close-up of the sandwich, which was flaky and delicious-looking. The tartar sauce was thick and the lettuce looked crisp. By the third commercial, I was determined to try that sandwich. So yesterday we did just that. Bill was a bit perplexed that I would want a fish sandwich on a Wednesday, but once we got to Culvers, he ended up ordering the same thing. He’d seen the same commercials. Well, I will tell you the truth. While no fast food sandwich looks the same as they do in the advertisements, this sandwich was quite good. It was hot and tasted fresh. And the restaurant was packed so we weren’t the only ones who saw the ad. There was a line nearly out the door – all old people (which is how Bill and I describe anyone between the ages of 62 and 73 who aren’t us). Advertising works.

Who the Hell is Dora?
kaiya mylee hatsBear with me. One more grandkids story, this time starring Mylee AND Kaiya. Once again, we were talking on Facetime. I believe it might have been the same conversation where Mylee learned the bitter truth about my telephone. Anyway, I said to them, “Hey! Guess what movie is coming out in June?” They eagerly asked what movie it was. “Finding Dora, I said. They both looked totally and entirely puzzled. “Finding Dora?” they said. “What are you talking about?” I explained that it was a sequel to Finding Nemo. “Oh,” they said in unison. “You mean Finding DORY, not DORA.”

Work with me here, Girls.


Thursday Thoughts

But Can You Dance?
We returned Tuesday from our trip to Chicago to visit Bill’s mother. Just prior to our arrival, she came down with a chest cold. Chest colds are no fun for anyone, but when you’re 98 years old, they can, of course, be particularly dangerous. Like Bill, Wilma is tough and a non-complainer, but the cold was really hard for her. Mostly she was mad that she couldn’t talk – almost no voice at all for several days. Sunday we turned on television to watch the church service that they hold in their community room, but which they televise for those who are unable to attend. She had watched the Catholic Mass at which Bill and I were in attendance, and was prepared to watch the protestant service after we got back to her apartment. She tried with all of her might to sing along with the hymns to no avail whatsoever. She was very frustrated. Finally, she turned to Bill and croaked, “Go down and tell the nurse that I can’t sing.” I shared her frustration, but I must admit that the statement seemed ripe for a punch line.

The Perfect Food
There were a few things she could get across however, and one of those things was that she was sick and tired of the food she was eating every night. “It’s crap!” she croaked one night. So despite her illness, and since the weather was somewhat mild, we took her out for pizza at her favorite place – Aurlelio’s Pizzaria. And Bill loves his mother so much that he was willing to go there instead of HIS favorite place – Fox’s Pizzaria. There is no greater love than that of a son for his mother! It was a fun night and we were glad that for one night at least she didn’t have to eat “crap.” The server was nice enough to take our picture….

Bill Wilma Kris Aurelios 12.15

We Say Christmas
Though there are probably a handful of Jewish residents at the senior facility where Wilma lives, the place is definitely decorated for Christmas, all political correctness aside. With the large Polish-, Irish-, and Italian-Catholic population of Chicago, those numbers are probably represented among Smith Crossing’s population. All I know is that when I would take my walks around the facility, nearly every unit was decorated for the Christmas holiday. Here was Wilma’s contribution….

Wilma door decoration

Bag It
The day before we left for Chicago, I got motivated and began to go through the place in my closet where I keep all of my old purses. For reasons I myself can’t even understand, I have a difficult time throwing or giving away old purses. I always think I will use them again. Even when the lining is torn and the bag is dirty. I will fix the lining and clean the bag, I tell myself. The chances of that happening are about the same as the chance that I will ever ride the world’s scariest roller coaster. So I am determined to make a final perusal of the bags to make sure there isn’t a hidden $100 bill, and give them to Goodwill. If you think I’m kidding, take a look at this photo…..


Give Them 20 Years…..
Last night Bill and I attended the holiday performance of the Southmoor Elementary School Choir, of which Dagny is a proud member. Being a McLain and therefore one of the shortest in her class, she was in the front row where she was easy to watch. As far as I was concerned, there didn’t need to be anyone else singing because I never took my eyes off of her. In a mere 20 years I will be watching her on The Voice. As an added bonus, the Southmoor Band played a few short holiday numbers. Key to the trombone section was Alastair McLain, who appeared to play beautifully. Let’s face it….Glenn Miller had to start somewhere. Here is a picture of the stars of the show….

Alastair Dagny christmas show


Thursday Thoughts

Belly Aching
I’ve been out of the hospital now for about a month-and-a-half. I’m feeling great; no problems with my stomach at all, thanks be to God. However, now comes the time when I have to deal with my hospital bills that are trickling in. Paying them is awful, but I think that reconciling them to the insurance claims is almost as bad. Bill is helping me, for which I’m very grateful. Two brains are better than one.  I don’t know how elderly folks who live alone manage. Having said that, I am very grateful to have insurance to provide the confusing claims!

bird feeder squirrel

This squirrel thief is dining on the seeds the birds accidentally drop.

One of the first things I did upon returning to Denver was to fill up my bird feeder in the back yard (between rain showers). We offer our feathered friends black oil sunflower seeds, which small birds such as house finches and chickadees find yummy. Apparently squirrels also find them yummy, because I have already had to chase off a couple of squirrels who have managed to figure out how to shimmy up the skinny little wrought iron pole to reach the feeder. I’m going to suggest to them that they try out for America’s Got Talent. I don’t know why it bothers me so much that they eat the seeds, but squirrels seem to bring out the worst in me. After chasing off the most recent squirrel, I got out my Pam and sprayed the pole and the top of the feeder. Now I will just sit back and wait to see the squirrel sliding down the pole and I will laugh hysterically. Squirrel hater, that’s me.

Reality Television
And speaking of America’s Got Talent (which is ready to start up very soon), three of the talent programs we watch have wrapped up, and they all finished the way I’d hoped, or nearly so. Nick Fradiani took the prize on American Idol, and I liked him after losing interest in Clark Beckham (who went from being my favorite to getting on my last nerve). I like Nick’s smile, and he seems like such a nice man who loves his mommy and daddy. Rumer Willis definitely deserved to win Dancing With the Stars, though the few times I voted, it was for Riker Lynch, who I thought was just adorable. He came in second. I was also happy with Sawyer Fredericks winning The Voice, though again, I always voted for Meghan Linsey, who came in second. How adorable was it that when the top four were given a car, 16-year-old Sawyer admitted he didn’t even have his drivers’ license yet? I want to pinch his cheek. Actually, what I want to do is cut his hair and donate it to Locks of Love.  Still, the young man can sing! Maybe if he cut his hair he would be similar to Samson and lose his singing strength.

Sentimental Journey (Call the Midwife spoiler alert)
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of PBS’s Call the Midwife. Big fan. Huge fan. Sunday was the season finale, at least until they run their annual Christmas special at the end of this year. I think it’s safe to say that I pretty much cried from the beginning until the end of the program. I was very glad that Bill wasn’t home, because 1) I would hate to have to try and make him understand all of the reasons I was crying since it would take oh-so-much explanation (thalidomide? Trixie’s alcoholic father? Amnesia? sign language?; and 2) he hates even being in the house while I’m watching the show because of all of the screaming during childbirth. But seriously, could it have been any sadder? How can I wait until next year to find out what happens to my favorite midwives? And please, please, give Chummy a bigger role next season.

Let the Growing Begin
Literally between rain showers yesterday, I managed to get the remainder of my plants into the ground. I have now added chives and basil to the herbs that I will be able to enjoy this summer on the off chance that it ever stops raining long enough for the plants to get some sunshine in order to grow. I still intend to plant dill, but I haven’t been able to find it at the garden stores in which I shopped. I will make a trip to my favorite garden store — Groundcovers — this weekend. They have everything.

By the way, forecast for today, rain. Sigh.


Reality Check

keeping-up-with-the-kardashiansI know someone who admits to limiting her television watching almost entirely to so-called reality TV. She is a mother of young children who also works part time outside the home in the evening. I suspect that in the little bit of time that she has to call her own, she doesn’t want to have to work too hard at following a complicated plot or becoming depressed from some of the very sad and/or violent offerings available to the viewing public.

If someone asked me if I watch reality TV, I would haughtily deny I did any such thing. Hmpff. Who needs to watch the Kardashians or Honey Boo Boo? I don’t care what’s in someone’s abandoned storage locker or about the problems of having 19 children. Really? 19 children?

But here’s the thing. I might deny watching reality television, but I would be lying. Because when I looked on the internet to find out what reality TV shows were currently popular, I was quite surprised to find that I watched a fair number of them.

Dancing With the Stars, Shark Tank, The Voice, America’s Got Talent, American Idol, not to mention many, many Food Network programs. I can call them whatever I want, but they are, in fact, reality television. Who knew?


I even watch Chrisley Knows Best, but mostly because I love Todd Chrisley’s AWESOME Georgia accent. But we all have our excuses, don’t we?

For the most part, however, my reality television is limited to cooking programs and talent programs. I have watched American Idol almost from the beginning. I don’t think I have ever missed an episode of Dancing With Buzz-Aldrin-Cha-01-2010-03-22the Stars. I even watched Buzz Aldren clomp his way around the dance floor week after week until I thought my head would explode. You should have stopped with the moon landing, Buzz.

I strongly suspect that many baby boomers keep programs such as Dancing With the Stars on the air. Despite the fact that they keep trying to make the program palatable to a younger demographic, I suspect the actual demographic looks a lot like me.

At this time, I must admit to you that not only do I watch programs such as Dancing With the Stars and American Idol, I might actually, well, uh, you see, sometimes, on occasion, I even, um, vote. Again and again and again, to be perfectly honest. I’m pretty sure I’m single-handedly saving Clark Beckham each week on American Idol.  And I have such a crush on Riker Lynch on Dancing With the Stars that it isn’t even funny. I think it’s because he’s from Littleton, Colorado. I’m going with that, anyway so it doesn’t seem too perverted.

I know I’m not the only one who votes on these performance-based reality television shows. While Jen and I mostly agree on who we like (Scotty McCreery owes us BIG TIME), there have been occasions when we have pretty much cancelled out each other’s votes.

I’ve only just this year discovered The Voice, and I’m totally addicted. I don’t know if it will be a long-standing love affair since I’ve never watched it before, but I’m certainly caught up in the drama this year. Oh Adam.

I was pretty sure that reality TV was a passing fancy, but I’m thinking it’s here to stay. I’m just waiting until my family hits the reality scene. We definitely have the makings…….

How about you? Do you vote on any of the performance programs?