Tomorrow, Tuesday, will be the first anniversary of move-in day at this new home of mine in Lake Oswego, Oregon. You would be amazed at how much I have not done yet to settle in.
Few pictures are hung. There are still 30-odd unopened boxes of books because I haven't bought shelves yet. I was waiting to paint and having done that, finally, a few weeks ago, was struck by a series of money setbacks. I'm sure you've been there.
I forgot that annual premiums for both homeowners and auto insurance were coming due. The vacuum cleaner died as did the electric tea kettle, both needing to be replaced right away. Ollie the cat cost a small fortune getting a checkup and yearly vaccines at the veterinarian.
There were a couple of other surprises that, of course, cost more money. It often goes that way, doesn't it, although I'm not much perturbed by not having finished the house set-up. Oddly, the older I get – closer to the end of my days - the less I feel the urgency to get things done quickly as I did when I was younger.
A year ago, I was focused on getting comfortable inside so that I paid little attention to what was going on outdoors. Now I'm becoming attuned to the rhythms of life beyond my windows. Spring here is wildly colorful and varied.
Look at these interesting, little blossoms on a young tree next to my patio. They dangle beneath the large leaves rather than above where they could bask in the sun.
Next to the tree is a good-sized bush exploding with pink somethings. The name doesn't matter to me; I just like its exuberance.
Azaleas abound (Or are they rhododendrons? I don't know the difference). Here's a pink one.
Another nearby bush of them produces huge white flowers.
Any day, this bush in front of my apartment will burst forth with something even larger, I suspect, than the other flowers.
One perfect purple pansy grows from a pot along a neighbor's walkway.
The birds won't hold still long enough for me to get photos, but there are many kinds. In the first glimmer of morning light each day, a flock of geese flies over honking as if they are the local avian alarm clock.
Soon, tiny little birds with a high-pitched tweet come by in threes and fours dressed like miniature penguins – black and white but so small, three or four could sit in the palm of my hand.
Crows (or blackbirds or ravens – I've never known the difference) lend their raucous call to the growing morning chorus.
Before long, a screaming bluejay swoops in scaring off the little penguin birds.
Owls hoot in their mysterious-sounding way (I thought they sleep in the daytime) and a pair of taupe-colored, medium-sized birds with faint orange spots peck leisurely at the ground leaving me to wonder how they survive the resident stray cat population. I call this one Blackie.
He and the cute little brown cat I may or may not adopt both visit each morning and evening for a free meal, and several others wander by now and then but never stop to eat.
There's a squirrel who scolds the cats as well as some of the birds and me too when he spies me on the patio. Mostly, everyone quiets down by midday until evening when, apparently, they have more to say before going to sleep in their hidden-away places.
During the past few days, pine cones have been falling from the trees keeping up an irregular plonk, plonk, plonk as they land on the ground and sidewalks.
Take a look at this on a pine tree nearby that is covered with them. Do you think it's what a pine cone looks like before it becomes a pine cone?
This fir tree – there are many like it around the area – is my favorite.
Its lazily draped branches put me in mind of Victorian-era bordellos – the kind with flocked wallpaper where scantily but modestly- (by today's standards) dressed women lounged on velvet sofas waiting for the next customer.
The year, as they do at our ages, has flown by. There is an astonishing amount of constantly changing life outside my windows and now that we know predictions of the apocalypse (or whatever it was supposed to be) were false, life is good.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Susan Gulliford: Our Historic Household??