Thursday, January 31, 2008

Afterthought ...

At the risk of hogging the blog, I can't resist sharing this image of a pothole in the slickrock at Canyon de Chelly when we were there Tuesday afternoon. It was VERY cold, but the high-altitude sun was producing a little melt around the edges of this tiny lake of ice. TV

Bakersfield or bust!

Made it to Bakersfield, in a longer day than intended.

Flagstaff was still snow and ice when we left, and travel was slowed on I-40 till Seligman or beyond. Then it gradually began to warm up as we got lower in elevation, the highway cleared and we were able to move along. By the time we had lunch in Needles, the temperature was in the 50s and it was shirt-sleeve weather. 

Then we hit the mountains east of Tehachapi ... in a few miles and minutes, the temp was down to 34 degrees, the wind was cold and there was a frosting of snow on the hills around us. The view above, with windmills on the crest of the hills, shows the weird, shifting patterns of clouds and sunlight we saw till we were out of Tehachapi and on to Bakersfield. Beautiful, rosy sunset colors painting the clouds and showing through in spotlighted areas where there were holes in the clouds.

We saw a billboard advertising a good price for a new La Quinta Inn in Tehachapi. We must have spent 45 minutes wandering around Tehachapi, asking people where it was, getting sent to the wrong places ... even folks at the post office knew nothing about it. Never saw a directional sign, never saw a big sign that you could see from a distance. We finally gave up and went on to Bakersfield and, after we got in the room and checked the La Quinta Web site; found them listing a location that must be in the only part of Tehachapi we did NOT search! 

Anyway, the snow and light and clouds were fascinating to see and that was a good part of our journey. It looks bright, clear and sunny this morning, so the rest of our journey to Stockton should be lovely. Sandy has suggested taking 99 instead of I-5 and, being in no hurry, that sounds like a more interesting route.

Good/bad news ... We got word from Mancos that now we have SO MUCH snow that the avalanche danger on a part of the Mush course is high enough that we will have to cancel the 40-mile run we were planning each of the two days ... just two 30-mile runs for a total race of 60 miles. That cuts down the variety of challenge a bit, but it raises the prizes for the mushers and, for spectators, it should have the effect of compressing the finish times ... more teams coming in closer together.

Of course, the implication for those of us who live in the Mancos Valley and rely on snowpack for our water is that, if the snow continues through February and March (usually our period of greatest snowfall), we will be in good shape water-wise next summer. For those who aren't familiar with the Mancos Valley, the Town of Mancos, Mesa Verde National Park and all of us domestic and agricultural users in the valley depend for our water on the rain and snowmelt that runs off the La Plata Mountains. TV

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Where to start?

What a day! We left home in 1-degree sunshine and roads that were glare ice, ended up in Flagstaff, 400+ miles later, about 7:30 p.m. in clear weather in the high 20s. (Actually, as I think back, it started blowing and drifting as we approached Flagstaff, and it was a blizzard by the time we left our room to go get supper ... but it really was clear north of Flag before dark.)

The picture above, of Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, shows why it took us so long. What a day!

We crept along in 4-wheel-drive on US 160 toward and past the Four Corners Monument. The bright sunshine on fresh snow was beautiful to see on the landforms we were passing. Past Mexican Water, we turned south toward Chinle, going up the Chinle Wash (which flows north toward the San Juan River).

It was a great day to see and photograph the sandstone monoliths, buttes and mesas that dot the Chinle Wash ... blue sky above and white snow below, sandwiching the red rocks. 

At Chinle, we stopped briefly at the visitor center (where I saw an old NPS friend) and drove up the South Rim Drive to the Spider Rock overlook and worked our way back down the canyon. It was SO beautiful!!! The air was crisp and clear ... and cold, and the colors were sharp and beautiful. 

Time was getting away, so we took a pass on Ganado and Hubbell Trading Post NHS for this trip, turned west and went out through Hopi country to Tuba City and down to Flagstaff. A quick side trip up onto First Mesa gave us the awesome view from the villages on the top. Going west from Hopi in the sunset always gives you a vast landscape, painted with shadows and pastels from the sun and clouds. South from Cameron to Flagstaff in the dark ... well, there's not much to say. 

It was a long day, late when we got fed and settled into our warm room at the Pony Soldier (I stayed here about 30 years ago ... they've fixed it up since), but we have great memories and pictures, and we'll be back! TV

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A new, clear day

Yesterday was pretty bad weather. It was snowing hard enough that a meeting in Durango was canceled. It snowed all day, sometimes the little hard pellets of snow, sometimes big flakes ... all of it with the temperature hanging right around 32 degrees. Just for variety, Mother Nature tossed in a taste of blizzard for a while last night, with a fierce wind blowing the snow ... and everything else ... around. 

At 1 a.m., when I had a little moonlight stroll with the dog, the moon and stars were out and there wasn't a cloud in sight. Same thing at 4:30, with a temperature of 4 degrees.

The Mancos Snotel just came on with this morning's readings: 66.6 inches of snow at 10,000 feet, up 8.3 inches from yesterday's readings!

So, I'm looking forward to beautiful snow scenes as we head west across the Navajo Nation this morning. 

We spent the early part of the school day yesterday at SWOS with the staff and kids and the rest of the board members who could make it. The Baptist Church next door, which has been SO supportive of the SWOS kids, let us use their assembly hall for a giant circle to be together as a community and to speak out about the losses we were feeling. Most of the kids and teachers spoke about Kai Craig, who was a student, but several also remembered her mother, Suzan. The memories of Kai were very multi-faceted reflections of someone ripped so suddenly from their midst. There were extra counselors on hand, but, in a way, every staff member was probably a counselor yesterday ... they're a lot closer to the kids than in traditional teacher/student relationships. TV

Monday, January 28, 2008

The highs ... and an awful low

It's finally stopped snowing, after keeping at it all day yesterday. Six inches of fresh snow on the ground in front of the house. The Mancos Snotel, located at 10,000 feet, shows a snow depth this morning of 58.3 inches, up four inches from yesterday's reading before dawn. Good new for the Mancos Mush.

That's not much comfort, though, in the face of news yesterday that one of the SWOS students and her mother were killed Saturday in an auto accident out near Naturita. Kai Craig and her mother, Suzan Greefkens, were on their way to Denver, where Kai was to receive the Golden Key Award in a state ceremony for her 16-minute animation. The roads were icy and that seems to have been a key factor.

Kai had just been featured in a Cortez Journal story about local Golden Key winners. 

Southwest Open School is a close-knit community, and "community" is the focus. To my knowledge, we haven't had a student death before and this is a very heavy blow to that community. So, Sandy and I are going over to SWOS this morning to help in any way we can. This is likely to be a long, teary, wrenching day. When I heard the news, I just wanted to look up into the sky and ask, "Why?" Not for us to know, I reckon. TV

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Renaissance Ball

Last year Southwest Open School started a chapter of EPYCS ... El Pomar Youth in Community Service. Folks in Colorado know El Pomar Foundation is one of the biggest philanthropies in the state. A few years ago, they started a youth philanthropy program. El Pomar donates $7,500 to a high school group that raises a set matching amount ... at least $500. 

I think the SWOS chapter raised about $3,000 last year, and was recognized as the outstanding chapter in the region in their first year of existence. In addition to taking on the janitorial chores at a local shelter and other fundraising activities, they sponsored a Renaissance Ball. 

Last night was this year's Renaissance Ball, shown in the picture. We were impressed that a number of the kids really did dress up in medieval-like clothes and looked great. The music was ... well, not exactly minuets, though we did at least recognize a few songs. Good, clean fun! As Sandy noted, it's a good thing it wasn't held the night before, in the blizzard!

Don't know how much the kids raised, but I hope it was a good amount. They will now accept requests for funding from local nonprofit organizations, set up their own criteria for donations and pass along the cash they've raised to worthy causes. The SWOS kids probably have a little different view of community service organizations than the average high school student does; many of them have seen firsthand how they function.

Friday, January 25, 2008

More snow, inner glow

Well, Thursday started and ended in snow! 

There was about an inch-and-a-half of new snow at dawn, with sputters of snow off and on through the day. The first view at the right is of Webber Mountain, at the south end of the Mancos Valley, shrouded in clouds. 

The second picture is of SWOS students doing Sixties songs during the student art exhibit reception at the Cortez Cultural Center last night. I had meetings in the afternoon, so Sandy joined me for the reception. When we walked out of the Center, we walked into a blizzard! We drove in tandem back to Mancos ... the 24-mile trip took about 45 minutes! In places, we could hardly see the road, traveling at 15-20 miles an hour. We probably got another four inches of snow, total, which may translate into a lot more up on the Mush course.

SWOS (Southwest Open School) is an alternative high school that's publicly chartered; it's part of the Montezuma-Cortez School District, though it accepts students from Mancos, Dolores and Dove Creek as well as Cortez. I've been on the governing board for less than a year, and it's quite an experience. In the songs presented last night, the kids were doing tunes that they'd had two days to practice ... the music they had been working with was stolen. They got into it like troupers and gave a very good performance. 

You can see the variety of flatwork on the walls behind them ... there must have been at least a hundred pieces from the students, along with a few from staff and board members and some student poetry. Some of the poetry was read to the audience by the authors. It was gratifying to see at least a dozen "sold" stickers go up before we left.

It was also gratifying to talk to a person I know whose child transfered to SWOS this year. She was enthusiastic about the changes in her student ... wanting to go to school, not being bullied, interested in her subjects - and not having to choose between art and music! tv

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

This is how Shark's Tooth peak looked early midday today from Windy Gap, slightly over 11,000 feet above sea level. Windy Gap is about 15 miles from the starting point for the Mancos Mush; from here the race course heads sharply downward into a different drainage. No avalanches, but drifting snow had covered the course just below the edge of the Gap, so we didn't go further.

The trail is fabulous! It's been groomed and used  by snowmobilers, I was told the snow is about four feet deep at this point and there were no bare spots on the trail. 

We had a course that mushers raved about last year; this year looks even better! We're reported to be getting some more snow in the next few days, and the trail is to be groomed again before the race, so it should be even better. TV

It's A Jungle Out There!

Well, maybe not a jungle but a zoo, yes!  And these were just a few of the critters that I have been able to persuade to slow down enough to have their pictures taken.  The beautiful young deer was caught "tourist watching" at Mesa Verde.  This cute threesome of donkeys are part of a small herd that I have been visiting regularly and getting some interesting shots.(One of a young one nursing and another of the leader of the pack not so elegantly relieving himself!)  They really just like me for my carrots and apples that I share with them, but I enjoy donkeys and have a pair of real cuties in  a favorite photo on display in a gallery in Durango.   The turkey picture was taken out the front window.  Turkeys in the front yard was a novelty, and now is an everyday occurrence , the flock growing larger and rowdier every day.   I am amazed at how well they fly for a large bird. We had one on the roof of the house this morning.
It's been fun!SF

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Pigs" DO fly!

It's so much joy to feed the birds ... to see the piñon jays, Stellar's jays, rufous-sided towhees, house finches, Oregon juncoes, chickadees and others come to the feeder we erected in front of the living room windows, with the Mancos Valley and Mesa Verde in the background. And then the turkey flock came by to visit, and decided to stay. 'Twas fun for a while ... and kinda comical.

Turkeys ain't the brightest of boids. That was evident when one of them figured out, after days of feeding on the ground under the feeder, that the mother lode of seed was up on the post. After four or five times of landing on the feeder ... and falling off, with much flapping ... one of them figured out how to perch on the feeder and eat out of it. It really got ridiculous when TWO of them tried to perch there and feed at the same time, pushing and shoving and jostling for position. Pigs with feathers ... and limited ability to fly!

So, it was a circus ... complete with clowns and (clumsy) high wire acts. The jays and other birds that normally eat at the feeder were not amused at the turkeys hogging the seed trough. TV

Monday, January 21, 2008


We went to the Center of SW Studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango to pick up our rejected photographic entries. Us and quite a few other photographers. 

We were told more than 90 photographers entered 147 photos; 39 images were selected. It was interesting to see what was selected; it might have been equally interesting to see the ones that were rejected.

The judge, Tom Carr from Denver, gave a summary of how he selected the photos, which was revealing. An archeologist by training, Carr now works for the state historical museum in Denver, where he has curated several significant shows, including one on photography of Mesa Verde through the decades. His approach to selecting the photographs for "Images of the Southwest" was essentially that of a curator.

He first decided that he would hang the selected images in one continuous line around the gallery ... none above another ... which meant that the number he could select was a function of the linear feet available on the gallery walls - about 40 pictures. 

Then he decided the title theme would be carried out in three sections. He sorted the 147 entries into those categories and selected those that contributed most to the subthemes, looking at composition, printing, etc. 

He is a black-and-white film photographer, and he works in a historical museum, so B/W was well-represented in the less than 2/7 that made the cut, as were pictures of ruins and people-type subjects. Sandy noticed there wasn't an aspen in sight, nor were there any cacti. Nor were there any of the grand scenic sweeps we see exhibited for sale in galleries in Durango, Telluride and Grand Junction.

The grand prize went to the grandest piece shown, a color photo-mural that must have been six feet long and maybe two feet high. It was an excellent capturing of the Grand Gallery, a legendary pictograph panel buried in the depths of Grand Gulch, in Utah. The photographer said he made 10 prints before he got the one he was satisfied enough with to show, so his investment, including framing and matting, was huge!

We noticed that framing of pictures in this exhibit, as with "Art of the Animal" at Open Shutter Gallery, tends to be plain and minimal, unlike the pictures exhibited in the commercial galleries we've visited. My guess is that photos bought from an exhibit will be reframed to the new owner's taste, whereas those bought in a shop are intended to be ready-to-hang.

Anyway, it was an interesting learning experience. I don't know if other judges approach their tasks in the way Carr did, but it was useful to learn how he went at it. Neighbor Bill Proud (who won Best Color with a large print that included a Hovenweep structure) said part of the strategy for entering an exhibit is researching the judge! TV

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Glad this week is over!

This week has been hectic for Tom ... new renter settling in, catching up on Mancos Mush fundraising, catching up on Friends Bulletin commitments, catching up on Southwest Open School business, etc. I'm still not caught up, but I am feeling like the crush of commitments has lessened substantially.

We haven't been up to the Mancos Mush course this week, and it hasn't snowed, but the temperatures have been such that I can't imagine the snow has disappeared. With only about three weeks to go, it would be nice if we would get some more snow to keep the course in good shape ... 6-8 inches on Feb. 5 or 6 would be nice! Community support for the Mush has been good, with more than 60 individuals and businesses pledging contributions in one way or another. 

The Mush is good for our local economy ... nothing else is happening in early February! ... and it really fits our resource well ... using US Forest Service roads that go up high and offer fabulous scenic views. The mushers seem to fit well with our community, too.  They range from full-time mushers to seasonally unemployed carpenters to MDs. 

We saw an exhibit of art in the Mesa Verde museum that displays the work of Mancos school students. It is very impressive! The kids have made masks, modeled owls (kindergartners!), created woven pieces and used other media to create images related to Mesa Verde resources and themes. It will be up through January 29; we hope lots of locals take the time to see it.

Politics. Sure will be nice when the campaigns are over! Until then, I think it will be nice when we get beyond the bickering within each party and get to seeing the major candidates contend with each other on future directions for America. 

In another political aside, it's hard to comprehend how, when the law says the White House shall preserve all communications, administration spokespeople can say they were just following the industry standard when they recycled tapes of conversations, etc. That's just not what "preserve" means! That's like heading for Detroit and ending up in Atlanta because the road in that direction was faster. tv

Thursday, January 17, 2008

20 below!

It was 11 below zero when the dog needed a walk about 3:15 a.m. ... and minus 20 at about 7:15, just before dawn. It's zero outside right now, a little after 9 p.m. and it'll probably be at least 10 below by dawn. Brrrrry!
I went into Mancos for a 7 a.m. meeting. It was minus 10 at the house, minus 16 below the house at the highway (by the thermometer in the Jeep), 21 below when I crossed Chicken Creek and 15 below at the Bakery, perched on the edge of the Mancos River. In general, it proves that, though it's generally cooler at higher elevations, cold sinks form in low spots. The fact that it was minus 20 when I got back home proves the old saying about it being coldest just before the dawn.

We went into Mesa Verde National Park for a while today, to take advantage of the cold, clear, sunny atmosphere. It stayed cold ... never above 20 degrees ... but we sure didn't have any trouble with crowding! This rabbitbrush twig caught my eye. TV

Monday, January 14, 2008

The view from the throne

Our bird-feeding has gone big! The seeds we put out for the little birds have also attracted some wild turkeys. So, the view from the "throne" in the master bathroom sometimes includes turkeys scratching around under the ponderosa pine up the slope from the house.

Actually, it's pleasant to watch the birds of all sizes at the feeders and on the ground around them. And it adds some excitement to the lives of cats Fifi and Sophie. TV

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ho Hum, another day in paradise

Yesterday was a long day for the teenagers in their sixties! The SW Business Forum started at Fort Lewis College in Durango (45 minutes away) at 7:30 a.m. and ran all morning. Wells Fargo Bank and FLC cooperate to provide an economic overview of the local, state, national and international economic trends. Interesting in not only describing the impact of the real estate downturn, but also the dollar's value, calf prices, tourism (expected to be up slightly for this area in 2008) and the rise of consumer goods to be the majority of our economic output.

We checked on the pictures we had submitted to the Durango Art Center for the juried Four Corners Commission art show and found that my "Shiprock in the Mists" had been accepted and hung (my first exhibited piece). Sandy's color-burst picture of a thistle bud was not hung; no accounting for tastes ... maybe the judge is a rancher!

Back up to Fort Lewis College to enter a photo each in the "Images of the Southwest" juried exhibit at the Center of Southwest Studies. These entries were a little farther afield. Sandy's was taken at Chaco last October, with a beautiful Pueblo Bonito wall framing a window view onto another wall, then the cliff top and then the blue sky. Mine was taken in September 2006 at Pipe Spring NM ... a sunset shot along the Vermillion Cliffs past the sandstone front of the West Cabin.

After a Mancos Mush planning meeting at Jean-Pierre's, we went back to receptions at the DAC and at the Open Shutter Gallery. Very different crowds (though with some cross-over)! The "Art of the Animal" show at Open Shutter is in connection with the Mush, though most of the pics were not sled dog-related. Interesting to us not only for the way the photographers viewed their subjects but also for framing and presentation. Sandy's "Here's lookin' at ya" picture of two donkeys was very prominently displayed among the works for the silent auction to benefit the Mush; those burros are SO cute! 

It started to snow as we headed back for a meeting in Mancos and, as always, the blowing snow was worst around Montoya's ranch, west of Hesperus! Once again, we were happy to see that lighted angel in the darkness!

Add to that the fact that I rented the apartment and Scooby Doo survived the day without us ... 'twas a great day in Paradise. And this morning dawned bright and clear at 3 degrees. TV 

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Let it snow, Let it snow, let. . .

  After beautiful blue skies the previous day. . it is snowing again today. . Maybe I have been wearing my "let it snow" T-Shirt too often!   These are a couple of my favorite photos from our early morning photo safari yesterday.  One  is of the first sun hitting the top of Mesa Verde and the other is a snow covered "Sleeping Ute" mountain range in the distance.  The snow that had fallen the night before was like fluffy cotton balls on the trees and bushes so I liked that foreground .  The sun, blue skies and warm afternoon temperatures were a welcome gift of the day.   Colorado is a beautiful place to be, whatever the season.  SF

Oh, what a beautiful morning!

Yesterday we got up before sunrise and hit the road with our cameras to catch the golden rays of dawn as they hit all the fresh snow we received in the two days before.

It was gorgeous!
Everything had a heavy frosting of peppermint icing. It was bright, clear ... and cold! Generally, the temperatures were in the single digits, with subzero pockets. And everywhere that blue, blue sky!

As we got up around Summit Lake ("up" in the sense of being both north and higher), the community church was never more beautiful in its setting among the pines. Views of the Sleeping Ute to the west and Point Lookout on Mesa Verde to the south were awesome.

(The old ruminant seems to be incapable of loading pictures into this blog in the manner desired, so I'll describe them as they decided to appear on the screen.)

The lowest image is the earliest, while the light was still golden. It's a roadside scene of oak brush and pinon/juniper trees ... and snow. The church is at the upper right, taken a bit later.

The first picture is of the starting point and first few hundred yards of the Mancos Mush course. The picture was taken at 8:45 a.m. (10 degrees F!) and we hope that this is similar to the scene that mushers will experience when Mancos Mush IV races start at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 9 and 10!

It was SO beautiful up there! And it was such a joy for both of us, pointing out this scene and then that to each other as we drove along and as the sun rose, striking the world from a different angle. I found myself wondering why I'm doing board work for several nonprofits when it is such a joy to be out with Sandy, enjoying and taking pictures of this beautiful world around us. Maybe it's time to retire again! ;-}

Back to the drawing boards ... we had so much fun playing in the snow that it was a rush to get our stuff together to take pictures to Durango for two exhibits, interrupted by someone who wanted to rent the apartment ... a good interruption. 

People at Open Shutter Gallery and the Durango Art Center were SO helpful to these two babes in the woods ... first time we've ever exhibited anything for FeVa Fotos. Sandy has a wonderful shot of two donkeys and I've got a lone musher with her dogs on the Mancos Mush course for "The Art of Animals," a show Open Shutter is running Jan. 11 through Jan. 30 in support of the Mancos Mush.

At the Art Center, the Four Corners Commission is doing a juried art show on "the uniqueness of life, the land, and the diverse heritage of the Four Corners region." We'll know Thursday if either of our entries was accepted. Sandy entered a color-burst of a thistle bud (Thandy's thithles are thomething to behold ... who'd a thunk there could be such beauty, symmetry, variety and intrigue in thistles!) I've entered an evening picture of Shiprock, shrouded in mists and rays of sunlight, viewed down the long slope of Mesa Verde. It's one I took during the Mesa Verde Alumnae reunion in October 2006. 

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Snow ... bunches of it!

My goodness, but it dumped last night! The bottom photo was taken midday yesterday (Saturday) as it was snowing in the forest above Mancos, at the starting point for the Mancos Mush dog sled race next month. The top picture is about 26 hours later, mid-afternoon Sunday. Musta been a good 10 inches of new snow overnight. (I didn't load the pictures in that order, but ... stuff happens.)

We had eight inches on the level at the house; four to six inches is a normal snowstorm dump. So, we were out of power most of the night, the Internet connection was down till this evening and the phone was out, last I checked.

Sandy and I were trying to watch "Twelve Angry Men" on DVD last night. We must have had 20power blips during the course of the movie, each one requiring us to turn on the player again and search for where we were when the power went off! I've probably seen that movie a dozen times, but never has it been so long!

Our overnight outage was brief and endurable, but I saw a headline a day or so ago saying that this same storm had left 600,000 people in California out of power. Thinking about that and the three-week long struggle to restore power after the ice storms in the Oklahoma City area last month, I have to wonder: Is our power grid fragile? Seems like a lot of people can be out of power for a long time nowadays. Does that mean a lack of backup systems and routes and/or a lack of ability to respond quickly to electrical distribution system emergencies?

In addition to catching up on things let go while we traveled in December, we're trying to get some photos ready for exhibitions. Yours truly knows from NOTHING about matting, framing, hanging and the whole display business! Talk about feeling like a fish out of water! 

Fortunately, Sandy has way more taste and a better sense of how to go about this sort of thing, so we're getting there. She's got a couple of items ready, including her adorable picture of two donkeys. I'm getting the "Green Death" picture of a mantis eating a hummingbird ready for a "Deliciously Weird" exhibit in Durango in February. Sandy says it would make a good Valentine's Day card ... for an ex-lover?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Pre-dawn ruminations by the old ruminant

Interesting results in Iowa. The best (most hopeful?) early analysis I've read is David Brooks' New York Times op-ed, "The Two Earthquakes." (

What gives me hope is his estimation that both Iowa winners offer a prospect of an administration that cares about Americans. Obama: "... a story of youth, possibility and unity through diversity - the primordial themes of the American experience." Huckabee: "... Huckabee's victory is not a step into the past. It opens up the way for a new coalition."

In Huckabee's case, Brooks says the candidate is "the first ironic evangelical on the national stage ("not at war with modern culture"), one who believes the conservative movement is not well-led and who "understands how middle-class anxiety is really lived."

Unfortunately, Brooks also doubts that Huckabee's position will be successful, expecting that he will be eclipsed by McCain.

Personally, it's nice to see voter affirmation of principles in politics and American public life. I'm tired of the go-along-to-get-along and end-justifies-the-means mode that characterizes the present administration and, I'm afraid, too many of the candidates in both parties.

One of the things I realized when I finished watching "Bobby" was that it had been a long time since I had seen or heard a candidate on the national stage who could describe a star that I'd want to hitch my wagon to. Instead, I've heard appeals for strength (Pax Americana), a strong economy (with increasing separation twixt the top and bottom layers) and urges to be afraid of "them" (a la "1984"). Dare we hope that this campaign will give us a choice between two positive visions of America's future? Other views welcomed. tv

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Caucus Day in Iowa

We went to Durango yesterday, which always seems to take most of the day, no matter how few items we have to do. We even managed to find reasonably central parking spaces (VERY difficult to do in Durango), with short walks to our various places of business. Sandy noticed these cute bikes that are used by guests of the adjacent Rochester Hotel. These modern steeds even have individual names, and I loved the colorful horn on "Duke."

Caucus Day in Iowa. Media frenzy. And it will be like this till we vote in November ... 10 more months! And it won't be until after the nominees are selected (crowned? bought?) that we will see the debate really get down to America's future. Right now, IMHO, each party is an isolated echo chamber, arguing over fine gradations of the same outlook, without any real confrontation of differing visions for America in the next four years and beyond. And the people who might really rock the boat and afflict the comfortable ... like Tancredo and Paul in the GOP and Biden, Gravel and Kucinich among the Dems ... will be history in a few weeks and their ideas, no matter how sensible, will be obscured and forgotten in the dust left by the juggernauts of party interests. A pox on both their houses ... this ain't no way to pick a leader, says the old curmudgeon! tv

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Ready For A Hike

Tom and Scooby Doo are ready for our morning photo safari.  It was the first time ScoobyDoo had been  in the backpack and seemed to really enjoy the ride.  It was a beautiful day to take pictures of Colorado snow country.   I took a tumble into a snow bank on the  first stop and spent most of the time trying to dry out my camera.  As tempting as it was, Tom passed up the "Kodak moment"  of Sandy trying to get out of the snow bank. Smart fella! :)   All in all, today was a great way to begin 2008!  sf

(And Sandy was exceedingly generous ... and passed up HER Kodak moment ... when Tom decided to go up a mountain trail, backed down to turn around, and got stuck in a ditch. No shovel in the car, and no sand or litter. A neighbor's shovel and about an hour of digging and wheel-spinning and we finally got out. It was a nice, sunny day and I needed the exercise. tv)

More wildlife

Right after I posted the dawn pic, I took Scooby to "pump and dump" and, as I came back in the house, saw these two spectators, one lying down, the other standing. They seemed quite calm.
Yesterday afternoon, as we were making the bed after washing linens, I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye and saw the rears of deers bounding away ... they must have been not more than 20 feet away from the bedroom window.

Strange thing happened when we stopped by Summit Lake (a reservoir of about 40 acres) on our photo trek. A small section near the shore had been shoveled for ice skating. I tested it and the ice creaked; cracks were showing in the cleared section. As we stood there, I  became aware of a persistent, slightly varying, hum ... like piston-engine planes going over pretty high up. As I listened more, the sound was punctuated randomly by cracking sounds. As near as I can figure out, the sounds appear to have been coming from the ice in the "lake," vibrating and cracking as it warmed up in the morning sun. Have any readers experienced this phenomenon? Is there a better explanation? TV

Happy New Year!!!!

What a neat way to start 2008 ... a beautiful dawn past the La Platas, a clear sky, zero degrees outside at 7:15 (when this picture was taken) ... an auspicious beginning. Happy New Year to all!
The Stellar's jays and piñon jays abound at the feeder outside the living room window, keeping us constantly amused at their antics. A grosbeak came by this morning, mixing in with the juncos and chickadees and sparrows on the ground, scavenging the seeds the jays kick out of the feeder. A jackrabbit was poking around down the hill from the feeder a little while ago, and the flock of turkeys swept through the yard again yesterday afternoon.

We had a still, quiet, cold New Year's Eve ... ventured out to a small gathering, came home and Sandy made hot chocolate to sip while we watched "Inherit the Wind" on a DVD. Old movie about the 1925 Scopes trial, with fundamentalist acts and statements that could still have taken place last year, 82 years later.

We're off into the cold on a photo outing, maybe check out the Mancos Mush course, and come home to a big bowl of the hearty chicken soup Sandy is loading into the crock pot. Hope all who read this are having an equally good start to their new year. TV