Snow Angel(s)

“It’ll be a long time, won’t it.”

“It could snow again this year, Bear, but it’s not likely.”

“Who took it?”

“See that thing over there? That bright thing?”

“Yeah.”

“That’s the thief. He stole the snow and he bullied winter out of the way.”

“Where did winter go?”

“South.”

“I have no idea what that is.”

“I know, Bear.”

“I’m really thirsty, Human.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t bring us water. I had no idea it was going to be so hot.” The human, worried about her dog, was already resolved to find water somewhere between here and home. When they saw a patch of snow hiding in the shade of some willow trees, they both headed straight to it. Bear looked at it, and at her human. “It’s OK, Bear. It’s for you.” The human took some steps toward it, but didn’t want to stand in it. There was barely enough for her dog. Bear always wanted to share. The human hoped she was close enough that Bear would feel they were sharing the winter’s white gift. The big white dog put her nose down and took bite after bite of God’s sno-cone before lying down and rolling in it.

At home, the human, feeling sticky and melancholy, took a shower and, for the first time in months, put on a cotton shirt instead of a wool one.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/03/27/rdp-wednesday-thief/

Out of Life’s Haze

I’ve culled some 400 posts from the first year of my blog. I’m happy about that, but it makes it seem dumb to write more. It’s been good re-reading good blog posts, seeing how often I hated the Daily Prompt (almost daily) and reliving the experience of quitting teaching and returning to Colorado — all of that was done in a haze of urgency. I found short stories I’d forgotten about. I still have a ways to go (four more years!!!)

On my mind (and on other peoples’ minds, I’m sure, is the Mueller report. I wasn’t surprised by what was written in AG Barr’s letter. I would have been very dismayed had collusion with Russia been confirmed. I also don’t think Mueller is in — was in — a position to accuse DJT of Obstruction of Justice. Leaving the door open is all he could do. The anger (upon anger upon anger) this has unleashed is awful. Our country is very sick, and DJT is both symptom of the illness and cause. We sorely need a leader who can heal the divisiveness, but I don’t see one on the horizon.

In other news, we sneaked a walk on the golf course yesterday. Dusty is usually off leash once we’re off the streets. The pretty bulldog girl belonging to Mr. Martinez joined Dusty. I turned around at one point and saw them investigating a bush. In the olden days, Dusty would’ve barked fiercely at another dog, but yesterday, he just made friends. I was so proud of my dog. A friend said she was impressed by the love I feel for my canine companions.

I am with them 24/7. We’re companions and friends. We share experiences and wish the best for each other. We intuitively know a lot about each other. My dogs have always been my ticket out into the wild world.

Many of the aptitude tests I’ve taken (to find good ones for my students over the years) have said I should be an animal trainer or farmer, that I have a strong connection with animals.

I felt bad yesterday when I had to send the bulldog home because Bear was leashed and would have protected me. I couldn’t let Bear go. That’s something I’m going to have to work on with her.

Back to culling…

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/03/26/rdp-tuesday-haze/

Rainbow

I’m looking at old posts and eliminating those that just don’t have any reason to hang around, taking up space and not being read. But this one? I think it’s worth reposting. It’s based on the old style of Daily Prompts and I’ve included that, too. It was originally posted on my birthday five years ago. 🙂

January 7, 2014 Write about anything you’d like, but make sure that all seven colors of the rainbow — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet — make an appearance in the post, either through word or image.

——————–
“Let the sun stay in my back, unseen!
The waterfall I now behold with growing
Delight as it roars down to the ravine.
From fall to fall a thousand streams are flowing.
A thousand more are plunging, effervescent,
And high up in the air the spray is glowing.
Out of this thunder rises, iridescent,
Enduring through all change the motley bow,
Now painted clearly, now evanescent,
Spreading a fragrant, cooling spray below.
The rainbow mirrors human love and strive:
In many-hued reflection we have life.”
Goethe, Faust II, trans. Walter Kauffman

———————-
m-EkoN8lNLXW1r_M7xjEIgAWe were just girls, nearly women. Young women. It now seems very long ago and very far away. “A secret, fraternal, Masonic organization for girls of teen age.” Love, religion, nature, immortality, fidelity, patriotism and service. The two offices I held during those brief years were Nature (yellow) and Service. Sweet prophecy? I couldn’t know back then, aged fourteen, that love of nature and service to others as a teacher would turn out to be my life.

———————–

Denver's pridefest parade through downtownWe sat on a grassy hillside in Cheeseman Park looking down toward Colfax. We couldn’t see the street, but we could hear the commotion, yelling and music.

“You wouldn’t march in that? Why?”

“It’s ridiculous. If ALL they are is the way they f… then they need more than a parade to save them. I hope I’m more than my ‘sexual preference.’ Preference? Who’d choose this? I’m shut out from the basic, most natural, most common unit of human society. I won’t have a family. I won’t have a wife and a house and all of the things other people take for granted. I’m not ‘proud’ of it.”

I knew this was true. I knew that however much I loved him — or he loved me — that love was not going to change a certain basic and elemental fact of his nature.

“You’re not ashamed of it, are you? That’s…”

“No. What is there to be ashamed of? It’s a simple fact of my existence. I have to make a life around it. Everyone makes a life around something. Come here, life.” He pulled me toward him. “You know those guys marching in that parade? They wouldn’t understand this.” He kissed me long and hard. “It’s all one or the other for them. They’re more narrow minded than straights.”

————————

sspaceRainbow flags hung over balconies with the big word, “Pace” printed on them. Italy was “on our side” in the fracas in Iraq. It didn’t occur to me what that meant until I wandered around the Pinacoteca of the Castello Sforza and found galleries that were open in 2000 were, in 2004, closed.

A scaffold surrounded the cathedral, too, and I wasn’t sure if it was for repair and restoration or for something more sinister. The sanctuary was shut to everyone but people who were there to pray. There was no wandering around its cavernous interior, visiting chapels and looking at paintings, sculptures, reliquaries and puzzling over their makers and the aspirations or sorrows of those who loved them in centuries past. 

I was relegated to the crypt and there I saw the place where St. Ambrose baptized St. Augustine. I tDuomo_di_milano_sivualttarihought about that. In writing Martin of Gfenn I’d developed a kind of friendship with St. Augustine. Martin’s Commander refers to St. Augustine often and the Rule of the Order of the Knights of St. Lazarus is based on St. Augustine’s rule for life in a religious community. I had read St. Augustine’s Confessions and pieces of The City of God and overall I’d come to like him, too. I went down the narrow stone steps to the bottom of the cathedral, the bottom? I was sure that it was not. I was sure that if there were steps I would go down and down and down until I would find myself at the beginning of time.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/03/23/rdp-saturday-tracery/

Every day, Every day, Every day I Write the Book

“We all lead boring lives. But some of us write reports about it.” (paraphrased from the movie Naked Lunch dir David Cronenburg, a line spoken by the character portraying William S. Burroughs)

When I go on Twitter or anywhere else on line where it happens that I follow or am followed by or am capriciously linked to a bunch of writers via the inscrutable machinations of The Algorithm, I see people talking about writing. They say things like, “How many hours do you write a day?” and “What’s your favorite method for overcoming writer’s block?” and “How do you start writing when you don’t have any ideas?” and “I always dreamed of writing a book.”

I don’t really get any of those questions. Any writer writes as many hours as he or she has time to write. Lots of good writers have day jobs. As for overcoming “writer’s block” I don’t think there’s any such thing — but a person can be stuck in a project and not know where to go. And, if you don’t have any ideas, why are you writing? BUT last one I is, to me, the most incomprehensible. Why would anyone dream of writing a book? A book is a vehicle for the transmission of ideas. The book itself is nothing, an empty shell. It makes more sense to me to think, say, dream, “I want to tell this story!!!” Still, I’m not going to trample on anyone’s dreams, even the ones I find incomprehensible.

Godnose my dreams are pretty incomprehensible, like wanting to grow up to be Willy Mays. How was THAT ever going to happen?

One thing William S. Burroughs the real guy said that rings true to me is, “Well, Kerouac, Kerouac was a writer. That is, he wrote.” That is the primary requirement.


I’ve now written a bunch of books. Having done that, and gone through the grueling and surreal experience of trying to sell aforesaid (always wanted to write “aforesaid”) books, I still think I’m right. I loved writing them, even The Price which was really challenging to write and pushed me in directions I never thought of going and actually scared me a little. I experienced writer’s block because I arrived at points in the story where I didn’t know how to say what the story seemed to demand or, in a couple cases, I hated the characters. I didn’t want to recognize who, exactly, was the protagonist because I didn’t like him. But it all happened and I just re-read it and it’s a really good story. Still, I don’t know if there are any more stories that are going to demand that I sit in front of this computer screen and write them. No idea.

I kind of feel like Huck Finn at the end of his saga,

“…there ain’t nothing more to write about, and I am rotten glad of it, because if I’d a knowed what a trouble it was to make a book I wouldn’t a tackled it, and ain’t a-going to no more…” Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/03/22/rdp-friday-book/

Morning Chat with Dusty T. Dog

“But I’m not bold, Human.”

“Not true, Dusty. You’re VERY bold.”

“No. I’m scared all the time. That’s why I’m so barky and aggressive.”

“I know that, Dusty. But if you weren’t scared, you wouldn’t need to be bold. Bear’s not bold. She’s friendly and fierce, but she’s never afraid. Fear makes you bold. You have to overcome that and it takes courage, boldness. You know what Hemingway said.”

“No. How would I know what Hemingway said? I’m a dog. I’d rather be like Bear and just get pets.”

“You do that, Dusty. You’ve gotten really good at it.”

“But I have to bark like a, like a, what’s the rating on your blog, Human?”

“‘R’ for language, I think.”

“OK. Well, I have to bark like a mother…”

“A hound from Hell, Dusty, let’s just go with that.”

“That sounds good. But I’m not a ‘hound from hell’. You know that, right?”

“I know that.”

“Where did you go with my sister yesterday when you left me behind?”

“We went on a long walk. We couldn’t take you because we went too far for you.”

“It sucks getting old, doesn’t it, Martha?”

“Yeah, Dusty, but the alternative isn’t great, either.”

“I’m VERY old for a big dog. The vet said so. Is it true?”

“Yep, you are, Dusty, but you’re in great shape.”

“Probably my morning coffee. Did you see anything good on your walk?”

“Yeah. There were lots of cranes off in the distance.”

“Did you see them? I know you like seeing them.”

“No, but they were noisy, cooing and purring softly. Then they got VERY loud. I looked up and there was an eagle circling above them. I watched for a while, but it didn’t seem that the eagle thought his chances were great.”

“Do you think the eagle got some dinner?”

“I hope so. Eagles get hungry, too. Then when we were walking on the ditch bank there were robins and bluebirds. Oh and a redwing blackbird.”

“I wish I could have been there.”

“Me too, Dusty. I’ll figure out a way for you to go that isn’t so far, OK?”

“I love you, Human.”

“I love you, Sweet Boy.”

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/03/18/rdp-monday-bold/

Cyclonic Blizzard of Historic Proportions HFS!!!

If the snow hadn’t been falling so fast and relentlessly, it would have thawed the moment it hit the ground. But it fell fast and we ended up with nearly a foot (20 cm) of heavy, wet snow. Farmers in the San Luis Valley will not have go look outside for hay and pay exorbitant prices, that’s one of the good things about this. The dogs and I took a walk that afternoon, 3/12 with the sky all silver and trying to be blue, Sandhill cranes calling above the fast-moving fog, emerging, stopping me in my tracks to watch them.

The snow was still several inches deep and wet yesterday as Bear and I headed out in shimmering, blinding bright cloud reflected light across the golf course to the big empty. The tracks of a young fox — a kit — enchanted my dog and nothing enchanted me. Even the silvery light hurt my eyes. I’d been fighting a migraine for two days. I think it might have gone its own way over night, but it’s too soon to tell


Meanwhile, up north, the storm — of which our heavy, wet rapid dump was the initiating tail — is winding up what might have been the biggest blizzard in history. More than 1000 flights were canceled at Denver International Airport. Hundreds of cars (and the people in them) were stuck on the Interstate highway between Denver and Colorado Springs. (Didn’t they believe the weather forecast AT ALL??? Maybe they didn’t know what the word “blizzard” means?) and were rescued through the concerted efforts of school bus drivers, high way patrol, local cops and a snowplow.

The party isn’t over. Here’s the highway conditions map for this morning.

Red lines are closed highways and roads. Various shades of blue represent various shades of snow. Purple is high wind. The little red bubbles with the dash are warnings.


It’s been a snowy, snowy winter here in the Great American West, though a sunny, quiet morning here in the domain of Martha, Dusty and Bear. More melt, more thaw, more mud.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/03/14/rdp-thursday-thaw/

Saunter

“I think that I cannot preserve my health and spirits, unless I spend four hours a day at least—and it is commonly more than that—sauntering through the woods and over the hills and fields, absolutely free from all worldly engagements…” Henry David Thoreau, “Walking”

I love to walk. Most of my blog posts are about walking, and I’ve even written a book about my walks with my dogs during the years I lived in California, My Everest.

I never have taken the ability to walk for granted. There have been times when I couldn’t just “get up and walk.” I’ve written here — often — about the challenges to me — emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually — of suffering from hip arthritis and not being able to walk well.

This time last year I was flying, uh walking, on the short-term high afforded me by a cortisone shot in my hip joint. For the first time in YEARS I could walk, pain-free and happy. I could even go up and down stairs! Two things happened as a result of that shot. I realized how long I’d been messed up (years), and my doc saw for sure (for the benefit of Medicare) that I had no real choice but a hip replacement if I were to regain my mobility. The cortisone shot brought me relief for 3 weeks then I was back where I was.

I have fought hard to be able to continue to walk. In a long conversation with my doc, I told him about my dad who suffered from MS, who, over a period of 15 years, lost the ability to walk.

“So you know what it is to lose mobility.”

“Yeah.”

He confided to me that it was a similar situation with his mom that had inspired him to become an orthopedic surgeon. “We know what it means not to be able to walk.”

Of course, as often happened when I talked to him about these things, my eyes filled with tears.

Me, age 12, hiking in the woods of Nebraska, hiding from my brother. Obviously, he found me. 😀

“…most of my townsmen would fain walk sometimes, as I do, but they cannot. No wealth can buy the requisite leisure, freedom, and independence which are the capital in this profession [walkers]. It comes only by the grace of God. It requires a direct dispensation from Heaven to become a walker. You must be born into the family of the Walkers. Ambulator nascitur, non fit. Some of my townsmen, it is true, can remember and have described to me some walks which they took ten years ago, in which they were so blessed as to lose themselves for half an hour in the woods; but I know very well that they have confined themselves to the highway ever since, whatever pretensions they may make to belong to this select class.”  

Henry David Thoreau, “Walking”


I hope this summer will bring me some good walks that I haven’t been able to to take because of, well, being unable. Now I have a car with good ground clearance, a dog who’s willing to go to war for me, maps, a hydration pack , trekking poles and a big can of bear spray. I should be good to go as soon as the snow melts and the roads to the mountains are dry enough not to be destroyed by cars. Maybe being exiled from the golf course and chased away from the wild life area by the Icky Man and the closures so the geese can mate is fate’s way of telling me, “You can go anywhere now, Martha. Don’t be afraid.”

I’ve also lately realized that I’m alone. No one is depending on me for anything. If a cougar gets me how’s that different from a heart attack? Just more interesting. I’ve realized that before in my life, but in the agar culture of, uh, culture, I sometimes forget. We all live FOR something. I think I can live FOR walking. Oh, and langlauf. ❤

My vicinity affords many good walks; and though for so many years I have walked almost every day, and sometimes for several days together, I have not yet exhausted them. An absolutely new prospect is a great happiness, and I can still get this any afternoon. Two or three hours’ walking will carry me to as strange a country as I expect ever to see. A single farmhouse which I had not seen before is sometimes as good as the dominions of the king of Dahomey. There is in fact a sort of harmony discoverable between the capabilities of the landscape within a circle of ten miles’ radius, or the limits of an afternoon walk, and the threescore years and ten of human life. It will never become quite familiar to you

Henry David Thoreau, “Walking”


https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/03/09/rdp-saturday-walk/

Snow, Cranes and Wind

Last year Colorado had a drought. This year, thank goodness, no. But…

In my youth, I remember avalanches most often as a phenomenon of fall snows, when the base laid by an early snow had melted and refrozen and more snow fell on top — basically a slippery slide for future snow layers. This year is the heaviest avalanche year on record, not just down here in the San Juans, but up there in the sexy parts, Summit County and nearby environs (Black — High Avalanche Danger — in the map below).

The Rocky Mountains are generally not as sharp and pointy as the Alps and avalanches are somewhat less common, but they do happen. In ski areas, avalanches are triggered ahead of opening in the morning.

As I’ve followed the stories of the avalanches, I’ve been amazed at how many people interviewed believed that avalanches in our mountains are ALL manmade. Several people (in cars) were trapped in an avalanche yesterday — all are OK.

Meanwhile, here in the San Luis Valley (Alamosa and environs on the map) spring is forcing itself upon me. Yesterday, right on time, my crocus bloomed.

Sigh…

My friend E and I headed out in Bella (my new Jeep) to see cranes. It was an intensely windy day and it was a little difficult to find the cranes, but we did. I don’t have any great photos since I went out to look more than shoot pictures. There were thousands of cranes in a barley field on the far east side of the wildlife refuge. They were a lot of fun to watch.

The wind was blowing like a mofo and E and I just enjoyed it. E has a wonderful capacity to be enthusiastically in the moment, one of the great things about her. The featured photo is primarily of a cloud at war with the wind. The wind from the east is blowing it toward the San Juans. At this very spot, it has crashed into a Chinook. The only camera I had was my phone.

The Cranes have Come Home to Mate

This is Sandhill Crane season in the San Luis Valley — and especially in my town which, thanks to a Wildlife Refuge south of town attracts upwards of 20,000 Sandhill cranes every year. They gather to dance, mate, swoop, circle, evade predation and sing to each other in surprisingly euphonious voices.

I recently watched several small groups assemble high in the sky. They called out to each other, got together bit by bit, forming an enormous gyre of hundreds of cranes, swirling upward in the infinite blue. Mesmerizing.

Sandhill Cranes are among the oldest species on earth, enduring for 2.5 million years. They have fine-tuned survival. Among their predators are large raptors, and when a bald eagle or golden eagle circles above them — whether they are in the air or are calmly “grazing” on land — they group together. They have had plenty of time to learn that one crane is far more vulnerable to attack than is a group. Other predators — foxes, coyotes, raccoons, bears — mostly prey on juvenile birds. The adults are formidable.

They are dinosaurs.

My town celebrates this big deal of nature. There will be a BIG craft and nature show down at what anyone would call the fairgrounds. Special movies are shown at our theater. Bus tours go out a couple of times a day with forest service and park naturalists. People come to my town from all over the world to see this. A couple weeks ago, the special festival banners went up…

What’s funny about this photo (for 20 points)?

Living here, I get to see the cranes begin to arrive. It’s part of my world and the first sign of spring for everyone in the San Luis Valley. I’ve had the wondrous experience this year of langlaufing all alone on the golf course on a cold, sunny/foggy afternoon listening to the cranes calling to each other not far above me.

I don’t make special trips out to the refuge to see them until the clamor of humanity has left. This year I’m thinking that I’ll take Bella (the Jeep) out to the Sand Dunes to see them, maybe an adventure with my friends. 🙂

This is a good video and explanation of their various sounds.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/03/06/rdp-wednesday-euphonious/

Sweet, Snowy Morning

In good news, I woke up to a snowy morning. Yeah, yeah, it was predicted but I have come to look at weather predictions as mere speculation. It isn’t much, and it won’t last, but it sure is beautiful, muffling the world and softening the edges.

The sun is breaking through the fog. In real language, these two inches of snow mean moisture in the fields. It brings a gentle drink of water to the flowers who are probably jonesing to come up and show their little colorful heads.

I’ve finally accepted it. The changing of the seasons is just one of the few things in the universe that is NOT in my control. ( ha ha ) I’m grateful for this snowy token of nature’s goodwill.

In other news — TONS of snow have fallen on the Colorado mountains this winter. While most of the snow this winter has fallen in MY mountains (the San Juans), in the last few days the sexy parts of the state have gotten a lot of snow. Here’s a video of the main east/west freeway in the state with an avalanche pouring down on it and stupid people driving into it. Enjoy!