Sunday, June 29, 2008

To Blog or Not to Blog?

When you blog and have made the choice to be anonymous, then you are faced with a conundrum when important things happen in your life.

Do you just ignore it and continue to post about all things you normally do? Do you just shut down for a while and then come back when things wind down? you write about it and cloud the details in order to maintain the anonymity?

Part of the question comes from thinking about who reads your blog. The people reading this blog fall into several categories. 1. Dear friends who I communicate with on a regular basis and with whom I feel safe enough to tell them I'm doing this. 2. People I don't really know in person, but feel like I've gotten to know from reading their blogs, commenting on their blogs, some of whom started reading here when I finally started blogging. 3. The strangers, those "www people" who've wandered by for one reason or another.

Then I think about why I started doing this at all.

I miss writing.

My skills, I notice, are very rusty. It's been years since I wrote on a daily or weekly basis. Now, my writing is 95% emails and not much else. So in the end it would feel strange NOT to write about what has happened.

Hence.........................with My Husband's approval..............................

My Husband's younger sister died this weekend. It happened early Saturday morning. It was completely unexpected. She was only 42. As I can sort through things, I'll take my time, and write something that is worthy of this kind of loss, and look for the lessons that must be there, but seem impossible to see at this place in the road.

For now there is nothing but shock, a numbness that comes from these sudden occurences. That sudden shock is no stranger to me, but has taken my Husband's family by storm. They have never faced something like this before. For now there are tears, disbelief, anguish, guilt, and all the questions that face all people at this time. There are no easy answers.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Forget Me Nots for J

To everything there is a season,a time for every purpose under the sun. A time to be born and a time to die;a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;a time to kill and a time to heal ...a time to weep and a time to laugh;a time to mourn and a time to dance ...a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;a time to lose and a time to seek;a time to rend and a time to sew;a time to keep silent and a time to speak;a time to love and a time to hate;a time for war and a time for peace.
ecclesiastes 3:1-8
"The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?" -- Kahlil Gibran
“Quiet and sincere sympathy is often the most welcome and efficient consolation to the afflicted. Said a wise man to one in deep sorrow, ‘I did not come to comfort you; God only can do that; but I did come to say how deeply and tenderly I feel for you in your affliction." ---Tyron Edwards

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Where Did I Put Those Keys????

Fellow Coloradoan, Rob over at Peenie Wallie notes the same phenomanon that we have noticed concerning the odd hobby of collecting non working vehicles around people's mountain or rural properties. We see it everywhere we go. On our Ouray trip we saw a dump truck filled with smashed cars and joked that someone must have bought new property and were getting their allotment delivered.

With his great eye for photography, Rob has turned the "car lots" into art with his extended entry. Go check it out, he's a MUCH better photographer than me...............

Monday, June 23, 2008

Wonder # 7 - Our Home Away From Home

If you've read about the Wonders in my world, there is clearly a theme. Taking time to notice the little things around you each and everyday. I try.

On the days I get caught up in everything else, I am a lesser person.
Ouray, Colorado has become a place for The Husband and I where everything else falls away, and we look, and smell, and listen, and relax, and most of all, we Wonder. I loved it the first time I ever went, and years later, when I first took him, he loved it too.
As I write this, I tear up. Even back here at home, where I see the other "6 Wonders" everyday, I miss the "High Places". There is something magical, spiritual, overwhelming about the High Places.

So here's a few more pictures because they say it better than I ever could

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Meanwhile Back at the Ranch and Ouray Recommendations

Today we made our way back to our little slice of the planet. It's always with mixed feelings that we leave Ouray behind. It's good to go, but it's also good to come home. Depending on the route we take, it takes between 5 or 6 hours to get back. It's a scenic trip, today we saw antelope in South Park, a coyote outside Woodland Park, cows all along the way, and strangely enough llamas. They are the big rage all over Colorado. Alpacas too, although frankly, I can't tell the difference.
It was a good trip as always. We had great food, met lots of fellow travelers, had lovely hosts at the B&B we stayed at, and spent lots of time just sitting and looking at the amazing San Juans surrounding Ouray.
My recommendations for anyone who stumbles across this blog and is heading to Ouray:

The China Clipper. Lovely, lovely Bed and Breakfast. Spacious, meticulously clean rooms, good hot breakfast, and friendly hosts. Stop by and tell Earl and Tricia that the Chick Voice sent you.

The Bistro at Billy Goat's Gruff. We've been enjoying the outdoor beer garden for years. How can you miss with views like this......................................

But this year, we had an amazing meal in the Bistro. The Husband had corn chip encrusted talapia with corn salsa rice. I had seared duck breast with mushroom risotto and asparagus. Yes campers, fine dining can be had in little mountain towns.

We did a very "touristy" thing this year and went on the Bachelor-Syracuse Mine Tour. We like Colorado history and this ended up being very informational. You actually go 1850 feet into the mine on a train, and it was really pretty cool. The tour guide was a "gem" (no pun intended). We learned about the incredibly difficult life the miners lived, but it was the mining industry that founded Colorado. For any "flatlanders" that may be reading, YES they had gold panning available.

Lastly, we recommend the park bench outside the Ouray Post Office. It's on the west side of the street. There are benches all up and down main street, but the one by the Post Office gives a great window to all the locals as they come and get their mail. Ouray is built on hills. Everywhere is up or down. Literally. As you walk around you need to stop and sit. We call it watching OurayTV. Watching the people walk buy, the trucks, jeeps and motorcycles going buy. With this as a view................................................
We love our annual trips to Ouray. I call it the Ouray Valium Effect. The closer we get, the more relaxed I feel and by the time we leave, the cares of this world have fallen away.
If you ever get the chance, come see our little home away from home.
If you are a "stop and smell the roses" kind of person, you will love Ouray forever.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Colorado Vacation Day 5

Last night we met a man named Hutch. We first saw him on the Ouray website, where they had a local blog and someone had posted a video of him talking about his new brewery in Ouray.

Ouray is a small enough town, that for the regular visitor, a new place is a big deal. So we asked around, (our waiter at the Bon Ton) and figured out where the new place was. We kind of knew we were walking into a haunt for the "locals".

I have never been anywhere like the Ourayale Brewery. This guy was the quintessential "Colorado Mountain Town Dude". Seriously, we've met a lot of these guys in our travels, but Hutch wins the award.

He took the old power company building, finished off the inside and opened a brewery. He sells beer. For cash only. As we entered the rustic place, no............ rustic doesn't really describe the place. PRIMITIVE is a better word. Hutch holds court from his position behind the bar, SITTING ON A SWING. He has this rail attached to the ceiling with rollers. He has a swing that he can sit on and be able to wait on patrons up and down the bar, WITHOUT HAVING TO STAND UP.

Never in my life have I seen such a thing..............or met anyone like Hutch. He serves no food. But there were some peanuts.

He has signs everywhere. Hand painted, one refers to him as Mr. Grumpy Pants. Nothing but locals came in and the conversation was.............illuminating. The beer was good. Had that home brewed, fresh flavor. He sold it to us at a discount. He said it didn't really come out like he planned. So he cut the price in half.

I'm sure there are other places where you can find people like Hutch.

But not in my neighborhood.

We sure hope Hutch is still there when we next find ourselves in Ouray. He was a real delight.

Red Mountain Pass

Here's a few shots from our trip over Red Mountain Pass.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Colorado Vacation Day 4

Today was up and over day. After yummy breakfast at the B&B, we headed south over Red Mountain Pass. When you stop just out of town, a look back north, you see this..................

Ouray sits in the middle of a valley, surrounded by amazing peaks. It was named for Chief Ouray, of the Ute Indians. 25 miles to the south is Silverton, Colorado. To get there you head over Red Mountain Pass on what is also called the Million Dollar Highway. It's two lane, PAVED, thank God, but winding road with shear drop offs. Both The Husband and I have fear of heights, (yes funny for a couple of Colorado natives) so there is an element of terror involved. But the scenery, well THIS IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PLACE I've ever been. Okay, Switzerland was beautiful, and strangely enough,

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Colorado Vacation Day 3, the real deal

We are here. There is a short way and a long way to get to Ouray from our house. We take the long route. It's a beautiful drive and takes us through the wide array of Colorado terrain. From the foothills to Kenosha Pass, through South Park, into Gunnison, Blue Mesa Resevoir, and then into the Utah-looking Montrose.

From there, south down 55o and into our home away from home. We hit some road repair traffic, as is always the case during the summer, but we were here by 4. Just in time to check into the B&B we are staying at. Dinner at the Bien Tempo, crab spinach enchiladas for me, carne asada tacos for The Husband. Two margaritas on the rocks with salt, we are set!

There is a kind of visceral peace that washes over us when we come here. It never fails us. When you leave Montrose and see the San Juans in the distance.............well words fail me, but pictures don't.....................................

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Colorado Vacation - Day Two

Today was packing, prepping and decompressing. Tomorrow morning The Husband and I will pack up the Jeep Wrangler and head to our favorite place on the planet.

Ouray, Colorado. Elevation, 7811 feet, where apparently, 414 males live and 399 females live. Yes, it's a small town with scenery that never fails to knock me off my feet. For the last 5 years we have headed there in the fall or summer. We relax, see amazing things, sit in the hot springs, eat amazing food, watch the hummingbirds, wander the museum, 4wheel the trails, shop the shops, take amazing photos, look at the real estate ads, buy cheesy t shirts or refrigerator magnets, wander to the ghost towns, sit on the benches on main street, drink beer at the Billy Goat Gruff and wish we could snap our fingers and live there starting a week from last Friday.
Trip six to Ouray will be a mystery. They had massive snow fall this year. We will likely not get on the four wheel drive roads we had hoped for as many are still closed due to snow.

One thing that I know for sure is that I will get pictures that I've never gotten before.

Drop by to see us. We'll wave!!

As long as the wireless internet connection at the B&B we are staying at holds out, there will be posts and lots of pictures. This will give me something to do after The Husband falls asleep and I will post till I drowse.

I hear the San Juans calling my name.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wonder #6 Sunset Over the Rockies

Quite obviously, I am not a professional photographer.
I'm certain there are millions of places to take a better photo of a Colorado Sunset than this spot...............
But I did this on purpose because this picture is a real picture of what I can see any time. From my front steps, from my kitchen or bedroom window.
Just about any day that I remember to look west at the right time, I can see the Colorado Rockies off in the distance. Often surrounded by that glowing orange (some say Denver Broncos) sunset. If you look off at the left of the picture, (especially if you click on it, and see it larger) you can see the way the mountains show up in shades of blue, like pieces of paper laid on top of one another.
It's natural for people to stop noticing the things they see each day. It can be a matter of taking for granted the family you live with, or not looking at the good parts of a job that's less than perfect. Growing up here in Colorado, I was guilty of taking the "purple mountain majesties" for granted.
Then about 25 years ago, I met a person who changed me forever. (But that's a story for another post.) Suffice it to say, that when he looked at my everyday view of the
Rockies, he asked me if I thanked God for it every day. I realized in that moment, that I seldom Even Noticed the sunset, much less thanked God for it. I never thought about the fact that I live in a place that people come from all around the world to see. I was just a little Colorado girl who NEVER stopped to smell the proverbial roses.
So I changed.
Can't say that I don't occasionally have days when my surroundings go unnoticed. But the vast majority of the time, there are several moments in the day when I stop and notice what's around me. Big things like the Rockies or small things like the house finches who come to my feeder.
My throat tightens up just a bit, and I thank God for being born here, for being able to make a life here, and for the love inside me for this magical place.

Colorado Vacation

Attention campers, today is "Day One" of the much needed, nearly impossible to pull off, exhausting to get ready for, summer vacation. Each time I plan one there is a moment when I think it's not going to happen because it seems impossible to leave work without fearing a complete meltdown of civilization during my brief absence. That moment came at about 1:15 pm, Mountain DST.

Technically, tomorrow is Day One, because I went into the office this morning FOR A FEW HOURS, to hand off duties to the appropriate employees. FIVE AND ONE HALF HOURS later I snuck out the side door having only ONE near panic attack. So I will actually refer to this as Vacation Eve............the night before.

As the stress of the day slowly fades............I will wake on the morrow with peace and quiet on my mind.

PS. The final two 7 Wonders Of My World are quick on the way

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Boy Scout Heroes

There are times when I really wish I could get through a news broadcast and not shed a tear. I guess I'm blessed?/cursed? with too much empathy. This story hit me hard tonight. Send a prayer out to the friends and family who lost these fine, young men.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Man of My Dreams (Literally) Clint Eastwood

I kind of saw this one coming. As I mentioned here and here, I have celebrities show up in my dreams. It happens on a regular basis. Sometimes I have no idea why a particular one shows up, clearly some weird synapse in my brain. But this time Clint Eastwood showed up because of Rachel's post (language warning) over at her place. Her post made me spit my coffee, you won't believe some of the stuff Clint said in his interview. You should check it out.

Friday, June 06, 2008

June 6th

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.

Saint Thomas Aquinas

Facts About Colorado

Apologies to Colorado readers, because this little ditty gets passed around a lot. But for the "out of state-ers" not living here in God's country.

Facts About Colorado


You're from Colorado if You'll eat ice cream in the winter.

When the weather report says it's going to be 65 degrees, you shave your legs and wear a skirt.

It snows 5 inches and you don't expect school to be cancelled.

You'll wear flip flops every day of the year, regardless of temperature.

You have no accent at all, but can hear other people's. And then you make fun of them.

'Humid' is over 25%.

Your sense of direction is: Toward the mountains and Away from the mountains.

You say 'the interstate' and everybody knows which one.

You think that May is a totally normal month for a blizzard.

You buy your flowers to set out on Mother's day, but try and hold off planting them until just before Father's day.

You grew up planning your Halloween costumes around your coat.

You know what the Continental Divide is.

You don't think Coors beer is that big a deal.

You went to Casa Bonita as a kid, and as an adult.

You've gone off-roading in a vehicle that was never intended for such activities.

You always know the elevation of where you are.

You wake up to a beautiful, 80 degree day and you wonder if it's going to snow tomorrow.

**You don't care that some company renamed it, the Broncos still play at Mile High**

Every movie theater has military and student discounts.

Everybody wears jeans to church.

You actually know that ** South Park ** is a real place not just a show on TV.

You know what a 'trust fund hippy' is, and you know its natural habitat is Boulder .

You know you're talking to a fellow Coloradoan when they call it Elitches, not Six Flags.

A bear on your front porch doesn't bother you.

Your two favorite teams are the Broncos and whoever is beating the crap out of the Raiders.

When people out East tell you they have mountains in their state too, you just laugh.

You go anywhere else on the planet and the air feels 'sticky' and you notice the sky is no longer blue.

All True.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wonder #5 - The Tree

This, I realize, puts me over the top in the "nut job" category. I have declared A TREE to be one of the 7 Wonders of My World. It's a TREE, Chick Voice.

So here's the deal.

I drive past this tree just about every day. It sits in some open space in between two neighborhoods. I'm pleased, (and amazed) that the developers left this as open space and didn't chop down this beautiful tree. I hope the people who can see if from their back yard appreciate it as much as I do. I'm sure The Husband is tired....... bone tired, of me saying, "that's a great tree", every time we drive past it. But it IS a great tree. Look at the shape of it. It's perfect. No one trims it or strategically planted it. It just grew there. In a creek bed. Clearly, its been there a few years.

On the high plains here on the Front Range, trees are somewhat scarce. Before the settlers came, the only place most trees grew was in the creeks beds or up in the mountains. So trees really are kind of a Wonder. In my mind.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Wonder #4 - The Valley

This is an overlook to a valley not far from my house. As I have traveled all over this state, it never ceases to amaze me the sense of awe you get when you come around a bend, or take a curve in the road, and see one of these sweeping valleys. More often then not, the Rockies sit there, off in the distance, providing the backdrop for the picture. Another favorite "valley" is South Park. no, not THAT South Park. Despite popular belief, South Park is not a town, its an area. Not really a valley, I guess its considered a high elevation "basin". Anyway, I digress. It's beautiful and takes your breath away.

I hope I never loose that sense of awe, or the inevitable "wow" that comes out of your mouth. I shared this valley because I'm delighted that this particular place is just minutes from our house. Great place to put things in perspective.

PS, you'll note some dead pines in the picture. There was a significant fire in 2003 in this valley. But each spring and summer you see the progression of the regrowth.


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