Going Green!

This is my FAVORITE time of year. I love the colors. I love the smells. Yes, I even love the change in temperatures. Everything appears more golden. The sun comes in at different angles for shorter periods of time. Many times the weather puts an end to fall before I’ve had time to enjoy it. This year is smooth sailing as September gradually slips away and the gentle weather allows for autumn activities.

It’s the time to collect tomatoes off the vine and pick apples off the trees. Homegrown pumpkins are turned into pies, cakes and cookies and the leftover zucchinis … well, no more of them, thank you …enough is enough!

Sad to say, it’s also time to decide which of my beautiful plants will be brought into the house and which will stay out in the cold due to lack of space and access to windows with sunshine. I have so many healthy coleus plants that want to come indoors along with my aloe, geraniums, hibiscus, rubber tree plant and healthy fig tree. I don’t have enough space or enough light. I want them all to live but I don’t like the feel of a cluttered house, especially when the amount of sunshine is limited. I wish I had huge south facing windows. I wish I had more shelves. I wish I could keep them all but alas.

In the past, bringing my plants indoors meant bringing in a ton of bugs and insects. I listened to a one-minute podcast today about bringing houseplants indoors. The major take-away was to use insecticidal soap before I bring them in to take care of any pest problem. And another hint was to clean any dead or damaged growth and trim up the plants gradually so I don’t send them into shock.

What it comes down to is — which plants do I keep? And how do I gently let the others know they didn’t make the ‘cut’? It’s like being in school all over again. My back patio is filled with potted plants that I acquired from cuttings, kept from last year, purchased this year or received as gifts. They are all so healthy and happy right now. And most are still in bloom. Honestly, this warm Colorado weather has kept my plant family smiling and content on the outside looking in. That will change as soon as the weather dips.

Maybe I can farm some plants out to friends who need some delicious greenery in their house this winter. Plants are so good about cleansing the air and adding humidity to the house. And, when plants are indoors – it’s like a party! Every plant has its own personality, likes, dislikes, needs and desires. Some like lots of water, others want to be ignored. Some like every bit of light they can suck up and others tend to give off good smells. And they are all great at increasing positive vibes (ok, I made that one up) which makes it hard to decide which to keep and which to release.

Perhaps this is the time I visit my friends and leave a plant on their front step with a note about how much I love and appreciate them and all they have done for me. And bestow upon them one of my plant friends. What would you think about finding a ‘love plant’ on your front porch?

I know I would ADORE one! But wait … where would I put it?

Related links:

How to bring houseplants indoors

Fire Update from C Lazy U Ranch

Fall Dieting: Apples, Tomatoes and Basil! Oh my!

The Essence of Autumn: So Tasty!

Time for Jury Duty!

Peeking out from my face mask to say “Hello!”

Have you been called to serve yet? I received my jury duty summons about 6 weeks ago and showed up to the courthouse with just a handful of items. Tuesdays at the courthouse take longer to get in because of all the citizens showing up for jury duty. It’s a bit like going through the airport security without having to take your shoes off. And I also did not get patted down. I also did not have to empty my water bottle. Ok, maybe it was a bit different.

Once I entered the large room with seating enough for about 125 people, I was entertained by a slide show telling me all the reasons I was in the room. We all wore masks and kept our distance from one another and held back our hope to either 1) be dismissed for one reason or another or 2) have a one day trial instead of a three day trial or 3) get selected and be able to be a juror from a John Grisham novel.

The slide show also explained that I was there for Jury Service. Hmm. Not a duty but a service. Something tells me that a marketing company was paid BIG BUCKS to come up with that phrase. I felt better already.

What surprised me was how long it took to select a jury for this DUI related case. I was one of 22 people asked to sit in the jury box while the prosecutor and defense attorney asked their voir dire questions that often began like this … “Would you be able to …” or “What do you think…” or “What if …” type of questions.

Voir dire is a French term that means “to speak the truth.” The initial questions asked are open-ended and meant to elicit a story from the juror. The story often gives clues as to what type of person you are and whether or not you might be a good selection for the jury.

What surprised me was the amount of time it took to pick a jury. In my city, jurors are asked to serve one day or one trial. Most people arrived thinking they would be there for one day. Once in the courtroom we were told it was an alcohol-related trial and our time commitment would be for a total of 3 days.

The judge was pretty strict about who was dismissed. A young mother with a 16-month-old baby at home cobbled day care for one day and she asked to be released since getting daycare help was so difficult. A dentist in a solo practice cleared his calendar for one day but was unaware it was for 3 days. A man who needed to pick up his nephew after school was also not aware he was expected to serve 3 days. All these people were told it was a difficulty but not a hardship. At least the judge was even and fair in her determination as to who stayed and who was released. Throughout the day, jurors were dismissed for one reason or another.

At 3:30 pm six more jurors were dismissed (I was one of them) and six more from the back of the room took our seats. The 22 jurors still had to be culled down to 18? 12? I’m not sure how many they actually needed for the trial but they still had a long way to go to get the jury picked. If a jury selection was going to happen that day then there was still a ton of work that had to be done.

It was interesting, then boring, then tiring, then just annoying. The questions, the answers, the one-on-one conferences when a juror wanted to answer privately took up so much time. I am certain they knew what they were doing but it was pretty slow for the rest of us. I don’t know how the trial turned out since I was dismissed (see paragraph 2 above.)

And thus, according to the law I have completed my jury service for the year.

Have you served lately? If so, I’d love to hear more.

Related Links:

What to expect from jury service

Should convicted felons serve on juries?

My experience of Jury Duty

Jury Duty: Do you have to go?

Missed me?

Of course you missed me! It’s been over a year since I last wrote in my blog. I wonder what happened to me? Perhaps it was one of my blue moods. Or I was feeling low about the state of the world.

Or I just needed to take a break.

Thank you for reading me now. I updated my About page as well as my 2021 Book list (of books read so far…)

The past year has been full. REALLY FULL.

I hardly traveled due to Covid-19 virus.

I had some health issues (not Covid-19 related.)

I learned about mitral valve stenosis and how it was triggered from when I had rheumatic fever as a kid. I never knew I had rheumatic fever – however, I learned that if I had strep throat (YES, ALL THE TIME!) then most likely it evolved into rheumatic fever. My mom thought that Vick’s VapoRub was a cure-all for sore throats, strep throat issues, the common cold, bronchial pain and earaches. Vick’s vs. antibiotics. Alas…

I learned to be patient with myself this past year and wait my turn to return to life, travel, public experiences and the bigger world. In the meantime, I did the small group thing. I traveled to Grand Lake in June and again in August. Both times I stood in a forest of dead trees from the Troublesome fires last year but it was a healing place for me. There was new growth around me, open skies, and mountain views. I was in heaven.

My wish for a mountain home with a view of the sky and mountains was there every day this past year. I think I will have to rent a home to satisfy those wishes. Time will tell.

Surrounded by a dead forest and yet I feel alive!

I have a friend who recently moved to Charlottsville, VA. Why did she not move to Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Pagosa Springs or Paonia? That would have given me a reason to hop in my car and visit her for a spell. Instead, I have much more time to blog and get caught up with you.

Now What?

“So, Now What?” you ask? Yes, I do too.

Tell me what’s going on with you. And I’ll keep you posted about me as well!

Local Fires & Patio Solitude

Sitting on my patio in the early morning cool, immersed in the smell of smoke from wildfires located nearby, I am enjoying the quiet. Sad to say, the smoke from that fire and another that popped up last week have become part of the fabric of the city. This photo (below) was taken at 10 am on September 4.

Smoke filled sky from Cameron Peak wildfires, Sept 2020 Fort Collins, CO

The intensity of the smoke sometimes makes me want to seek out and wear a mask which reminds me of the other issues in our world right now. With orange-tinted skies, ash falling to the ground and the feeling of early evening when it is only 10am is not the world I want to live in. Of course, 2020 has handed me several items that were never on my agenda before.

This photo (below) was taken at 5:15 pm September 5, 2020. It looks like dusk but the smoke has obscured any light from the sun.

Smoke filled sky from Cameron Peak wildfires, Sept 2020 Fort Collins, CO

I’ve connected with my outdoor patio more this summer than any other before. Maybe because I am home more. Maybe because I want to avoid being around others. Maybe because I have an excuse to pull away and isolate. Maybe because I’ve turned it into a green sanctuary where black-capped chickadees feel welcome. Where hibiscus, spider, ivy and rubber tree plants create a green haven for them and a focal point for me.

This place is inviting, welcoming and in the mornings and late evenings, its’ my sweet spot. In the middle of the day, as temps rise to the high nineties, I stay inside. In the days before Covid-19, I’d visit the library to stay cool and stay engaged. Or maybe I’d volunteer at a local school, go see a movie or meet friends for lunch. Not so much now.

Now it’s me and my yard. Except with all the ash in the air, it’s me and my house.

This photo (below) probably explains itself. Ash-filled skies covered the landscape.

Ash on FedEx box from Cameron Peak wildfires, Sept 2020 Fort Collins, CO

Over the Labor Day weekend, I visited a friend in my old neighborhood. Every time I visit that area, I drive very slowly by my old house. This time, I got out and walked up and down the nearby green belt and looked into my yard. My rose-of-Sharon bush was healthy and happy. The tiny Christmas tree was growing taller. The lilac bush, aspen trees and perennials were all intact. As I was checking out my hard work, one of the homeowners came to the door and we chatted. I told her who I was and was delighted when she gave me a tour of my house and all the changes that were made.

I walked away with the biggest smile that my sweet little house was loved and in good hands. When I travel back to my childhood home, I do the same thing. I slowly drive by and take mental inventory of what still exists. The pump my dad put in the front yard. The rock wall loaded with rose moss and other perennial flowers. The elm tree is long gone due to a blight that wiped out all the trees on the street. The neighborhood is old, ignored and tired. It’s not the neighborhood of my youth.

Home is such an integral part of my health and wellness. Having a clean space that includes some of my identity – color, flowers, plants, smells and artifacts keeps me sane in a world where sanity is in question. Having a small patio and yard gives me a place to go, to tend, to improve and enjoy and I treasure this space in a way that never mattered before.

I am blessed. I know that beyond reason. I can list a million things that I don’t have and don’t want but I can tell you that the things that really matter can’t be purchased – a  positive attitude, friends, good health, laughter, love and a sense of purpose.

Now, let’s put these wildfires out, get some clean air and blue skies again real soon.

Smoke filled sky from Cameron Peak wildfires, Sept 2020 Fort Collins, CO

Here’s to a feeling of happiness and well-being wherever you may be!






Coronavirus Summer: Water therapy

kayaking on Lake Estes, Estes Park, CO for my sanity during coroanvirus summerMy world is pretty small these days. As I write this sitting on my front porch swing, I watch people walk by on my sidewalk. The old couple next door, holding hands, hunched over and committed to the moment. The family of three with a grey and black spotted dog. The dad finally looks up and sees me.  They are talking, talking and then he acknowledges my presence. We wave across a distance.

Nobody is wearing a mask when they are outside.  I know there’s a global virus still in effect and yet, I don’t see evidence of it as I sit and swing. I don’t have a mask on. Two teenagers ride by on their bikes, oblivious to anything outside their bubble.

In past years, sitting on my porch, I would hear local bands singing their hearts out at the neighborhood brewery. Sometimes they would sing so clearly that I could understand each word. That’s not the case this year. The brewery has reopened but with fewer tables. With more outdoor seating. With fewer customers. With less music.

Also in past years I would sit and be surrounded by the sound of crickets. Gone. No crickets. Have you noticed? In the middle of the night, I stand in my backyard and listen to silence. Where have they gone?

roadtrip to Bryce Canyon National Parkfor my sanity during coroanvirus summer

Getting on a plane isn’t going to happen to me for a long time. I’d rather drive. I’ve visited Bryce Canyon National Park in the past month and fell in love all over again. All that inviting open sky. All those intoxicating reds… coral-red, orange-red, eon-red, infinity-red, ancestor-red that changed hues as the earth’s movements inched along. Watching the sun go down in this colorful region, counting the stars as they came out against a black sky and falling into another day was one of my most special memories of that trip.0

Coral Reef National Park, UT during coronavirus summer

It felt good to do something again. To be on the road. Going somewhere.  I’m eager to add some ‘normal’ events back into my world and let my senses come alive again.

paddle boarding on Horsetooth Reservoir, Fort Collins, Colorado for my sanity during coroanvirus summerFinding my way to the water has been healing for me this summer.  Standing on the water, swimming in a pool or coasting in a kayak have been highlights, saving graces, and meditative times for me. Meeting a friend for an early morning kayak ride in Estes Park, paddle-boarding and kayaking on the 6-mile long Horsetooth Reservoir or swimming in a neighborhood pool helps to waken my senses and fills me with gratitude for these wonderful opportunities.

Being near Horsetooth Reservoir helps me cope during the covid 19 summer in 2020

I know others have turned to biking, quilting or painting. Many have started gardens, learned a language and finished a college degree. Closets, attics and basements have been emptied, cleaned and repurposed. Cookbooks have been dusted off and family recipes have resurfaced.

I’m aware that there’s no end in sight for this virus until we have leadership that mandates change. Mandates masks. Leadership that allows science to discover, medicine to heal, and politics to govern, not to enrage, cause dissent and create chaos.  How have you decided to mingle with humanity again?

So, while I wait this out, I am letting water soothe me. As we suffer through an intense heat wave, I seek out my water sanctuary.  My companion. My friend.

And you? Have you turned to something new to help you during these coronavirus times?  Reached out and found something that helps you feel grounded? Tell me.

Stay well, stay safe and stay strong!


Why the summer sound of crickets is growing fainter

Sit? Walk? Visit?

What to do during quarantine?

Keeping safe during a Covid-19 summer

Musings from a fraud

How to mingle with humanity again?

Do Black Lives Matter?

‘Black Lives Matter’  …  but not as much as white lives matter. Right? Just as any person of color.

Ask them if …

Black Lives Matter to police?

Black Lives Matter to the justice system?

Black Lives Matter to the legal system?

I don’t know what it’s like to be black in America. I live in a white world.

I don’t know what it’s like to be ignored or dismissed because of the color of my skin.

I don’t know what it’s like to be fearful for my sons every time they leave the house in case they become a police target.

I don’t know what it’s like to be run down by white people in a neighborhood where I happen to be jogging.

I don’t know what it’s like to be refused a place to live because of discrimination.

I don’t know what it’s like to be the minority on an all white campus.

I don’t know what it’s like to be hired last and fired first because my skin is not white.

I don’t know what it’s like to have police ram down my door of my apartment on a no-knock raid and shoot me dead – before I could tell them they were in the wrong house.

I don’t know what it’s like to have to control the beating of my heart when a cop is present.

I don’t know so many things. But I do know that black lives do not matter as much as white lives. Black people are dismissed. Black issues are ignored. Black lives are a target for police.

ALL LIVES MATTER – but they don’t. Not really. Just ask any person of color.

And when they do, just listen.


Handwriting on the wall

Are you happy with your handwriting?

My mom had pretty ugly handwriting (sorry Mom) but my dear friend Joan has beautiful writing. Her written words are like pieces of art.

Writing is something we learn early on or we don’t. My sons print. Cursive was not something they were taught. It was one of the teaching initiatives that came and went back in the day. Another fad the schools went through were ‘open classrooms’ as in classrooms with no walls. Just one big open family. That one was also left in the dust. And another initiative was ‘inventive spelling.’ Sometimes these pedagogical fads are introduced and fade away without making any kind of difference… except what was not taught, for example – cursive.

So, now I wonder how many of you actually use cursive when you write? So many people I know leave notes by printing (or texting  ☹) but rarely correspond using cursive.

Do you like your handwriting?

Write to me - displays my handwriting - retired in Fort Collins, CO
My handwriting – what does it say about my personality?

My handwriting seems to go back and forth between printing and writing. It’s as if I speak a foreign language but keep adding English words as well. When I am focused on writing and take my time, my handwriting is ok. Unlike Joan and Loretta and Barbara and Johnny. Their writing is beautiful. When I am writing a card, I want to get it pretty the first time so I have to slow down and pay attention. Using ‘white-out’ to remove my mistakes on a sympathy card is sort of tacky.

What really amazes me is that my handwriting from high school is the same I have now. Almost everything about me has changed over time and yet, my handwriting is almost the same.

Graphology is the study of handwriting. This science is a way to learn about the personality, character and abilities of the writer. So, that journal writing I did in high school (which is pretty much the same as today) can offer insights into my personality. The way I add spacing to words, whether I add loops to letters, and even how I cross my ‘’T’s’ speaks volumes about me according to graphology.

So, what about the population of people who never learned to write? Can studies be done on them as well? (Please let me know if you have this answer…)

I have a guest book filled with messages from people from across the globe who wrote notes after staying in my Airbnb. They are all unique, expressive and special. What makes me want to go back and explore their notes is the idea that within their words are clues to their hidden selves.

What impresses me is that I can detect whose handwriting is in front of me. I can pick out documents written by my sons, siblings, friends and relatives and get them right almost every time. Looking at a letter written my mom or dad makes me nostalgic for them. The written word it truly a link to our past – for better or worse.Just me... blogging away (example of my handwriting) Retired in Fort Collins, CO

I know this is silly, but during the holidays when cards arrive in the mail for me, I turn them over without looking at the writing or return address. I want to be surprised when I open it. Sort of like opening an unexpected gift for my birthday… I want to be surprised. Yes, I know – goofy, right?

So, now put your fingers to work and WRITE ON below in the comment section and leave some words behind!

What Does Your Handwriting Say About You?

Related to this article:


Happy 2020 to one and all!

Musings from a fraud…

Ok, lets get right to the heart of the matter.

I’m a fraud. For years I’ve been convinced that I had a book or a series of books in me to write if I only had enough quiet time. Or the right space. Or time alone. Or the focus. Or whatever. And in fact, I have a really good book in me. But you may never get to read it, I’m sorry to say.

And I wanted to learn the play the mandolin if I only had enough quiet time. Or the right space. Or time alone. Or the focus. Or whatever.

I wanted to learn how to draw. That would be something I could do if I only had enough quiet time. Or the right space. Or time alone. Or the focus. Or whatever.

As you may have guessed for the past 8 weeks I had them all. I had the time, space, time alone, focus and whatever.

I did not write my masterpiece. I did not learn to play the mandolin. I did not learn how to draw.

What did I do?

I went outside and walked everyday.

I sat in quiet and drank my cup of hot tea without having to get up and reheat it.

Shadow of tree on fence in spring during isolation time of coronavirusI watched time pass by watching where the shadows from the movement of the sun landed on my fence.

I pulled weeds.

I watched Ted Talks and kept digging deep to learn, understand and grow. Loved this one by Bill Gates.

I planted flowers, tomatoes and peppers, then I covered them up on cold nights.

I read. And I shared my books with other friends who love reading as well.

I listened to new indie music on youtube.com and found new artists. Thank you to Alexrainbird Music)

I listened to books. I loved listening to Tom Hanks read The Dutch House written by Ann Patchett.

I baked bread.

I wrote letters to dear friends (send me your address if you want me to send you a letter too.)

I blogged.

I zoomed. A lot. I stayed connected with my Rotary Club and visited several other meetings and listened to their speakers.

I stayed in close contact with my family through Facebook Messenger video and Facetime.

I met on video with long time friends who I used to waitress with back in the day when I was a young mom. Those connections are still going strong. Amen for that!


– I’m going to cut myself some slack and honor what I’ve achieved.

No written book for the world to read (not yet anyhow) but lots of blogging.

No mandolin but listened to tons of music (lots of Indie music as well as ‘blow out the speaker’ loud tunes.)

No drawing except for doodles, but I painted my porch swing and added color to the front of my house with accents.

I think my time away from others has helped me put perspective on what matters.

Books, for sure.

Music, always.

Color, of course.Mornings with Margie

Walking, and movement.

Family. Friends. Contact.

And writing words in whatever form they need to be.

If I had to grade myself during my time of isolation I’d give myself a pat on the back. Actually, if I could possibly make it happen, I’d find a way to hug myself. One of those long hugs that you wish you could give to someone near and dear to you. One of those, ‘don’t let me go’ hugs. The kind where the other hand is rubbing up and down the shoulders and back. You know … touch.

That’s been missing during this time. Physical contact. People.

I hope during your time of isolation you were able to find what matters most and focus all your attention there. And let the other stuff slide away. What matters most to me ais the knowledge that I am enough just like I am. And you are too. I’m not sure but that sounds like something Mr. Rogers would say. I miss Mr. Rogers too.



Ted Talk – The Next Outbreak? We’re not ready yet.

The Delight of Being Retired 

AlexRainBird Music 

Instagram #happilyafterretirement

Twitter @margie_merc




Where does the dance begin…

repost from April 26, 2016

Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?  by Mary Oliver
is simply beautiful.snow daisy3-sm

Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.
It’s frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.

But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?

Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.dew rose1-sm

When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking outward, to the mountains so solidly there in a white-capped ring, or was he looking to the center of everything:
the seed, the egg, the idea that was also there, beautiful as a thumb curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring, as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?

Day by Day, Learning Continues

Sit? Walk? Visit?

It’s time my friends! Well, ok… it’s not really time …but internally and seasonally it’s time for me to slowly reemerge.

cup of tea and a cinnamon roll

The global pandemic that we have avoided is still alive (very much so in the US since we have no testing and it will continue to move around like a pinball) and present in our world.

I have been good. Staying home. Minding my garden. Baking. Alone (sad face) but safe.

However, I am venturing out more. In my mind, I am traveling ALL over the place. In reality, I am wearing a mask everywhere I go (as mandated.) I am going to the grocery store very early and infrequently. I am washing my hands.

AND, I am doing other things too. I donated blood yesterday. Tomorrow I will work at a food collection site. Next week I have a dentist appointment.

I am cautiously emerging. Baby steps with lots of baby wipes.

I had brunch at my house with two friends last week. Sharing food. Laughing. Communing…

Yes, this coronavirus is still alive and well in my world and I am careful in every way possible. But I also am ready to go to a library, coffee shop, concert and party again. To gather in groups and share common experiences. To laugh and cry together.

I am so ready, aren’t you?

White chair on porch in Fort Collins, CO at HappilyafterRetirement.com
Come sit with me