Monday, March 31, 2008

Early morning bliss!

There is something very special about visiting with nature in the first light of day.  On our outing  yesterday morning I spotted this charming fellow who stopped just long enough to give me a "and what are you doing here " look and turned and left in a gallop.  It was a beautiful morning.sf

Sunday, March 30, 2008

A good outing

The morning didn't turn out to be as clear as we had hoped ... the light was a bit hazy ... but we went out and drove some back roads we hadn't been on before, saw some angles and perspectives we will come back to (such as the view of Point Lookout and part of the north face of Mesa Verde beyond some pasture ponds) and had a good outing. A family of deer leisurely jumped a roadside fence, one by one, and we heard birds chirping here and there. The little nuthatch gave us quite a lecture as we stopped to admire gnarled trunks in a back portion of the Cedar Mesa development. TV

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Happy Groom Here!

No pictures today, just a report that we're settling in on our little piece of hillside in the Mancos Valley. Yesterday was busy with moving furniture ... two men from a charity used-and-bruised in Cortez came and moved out a hide-a-bed couch and two recliners, then were kind enough to help us unload and carry in the couch and love seat in the U-Haul trailer. Sandy and I then loaded the decrepit hide-a-bed I had replaced in the apartment a couple months ago, plus an old, red, wooden box that my dad had built for his truck many years ago and which was falling apart. As long as we still had the trailer, it served to take that stuff to the dump. How romantic ... taking my new bride on a trip to the dump!

Weather has been warm enough, but generally overcast. Still, it is a deep, warming, rewarding joy to share the morning light filling the valley with a sharing, caring, loving partner. We were busy with grocery restocking, going to the rec center (resuming our exercise and diet program after traveling ... and celebrating our wedding with chocolate sundaes at Braum's!) and running other errands. Maybe tomorrow we will be able to go out and do some photography after meeting ... sharing the joy of the beauty around us. TV

Friday, March 28, 2008

Happy Bride Here!

So good to be back home in Colorado!  We are excited about planning the rest of our lives together.  I am so fortunate to have found love and happiness with such a good friend and sweetheart.  Thank you to all of you who have sent your good wishes. Whatever your age or situation, be good to one another.  Life is a precious gift  and we never know if tomorrow will be. Cherish today!

 The columbine picture with this post is one of my favorites and is being featured in Photographers Edge 2008 catalog. :) The wild flowers around the area are so plentiful and beautiful, I am eagerly awaiting spring and summer so we can head out with our cameras for some more photos of columbines, indian paintbrush, thistles and more.  Mother Nature does such a fabulous color show and it's free for all who go looking ! sf

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

On the road again ...

Got the U-Haul trailer. Pushed, shoved, squeezed, stacked and bent till every space in the car and trailer was filled ... and then we hightailed it out of Chandler and Oklahoma and part of Texas. We're in Amarillo tonight, full of (healthful) goodies from Linn's Chinese Buffet and ready to collapse. 

Tomorrow we hope to get an early start, take advantage of the time change and get home not too late (slower with the trailer, you know). 'Twill be nice to see the snow-capped peaks again around Santa Rosa and onward. Leaving today will put us home a day earlier than we had planned; we can use it to relax and recuperate.  TV

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

We did it!

A little after 4 p.m. today, Sandy and I were married at the Lincoln County courthouse in Chandler, OK. We are looking forward to many sunrises, sunsets, cups of coffee, meals prepared and turns in the road that we will share in loving partnership. We've managed to hook the laptop to a dial-up connection in Chandler and even managed to post a picture taken outside the courthouse afterward. TV

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hunkered down in Vega

Today went along better than expected; we reached our destination, Vega, Texas, fairly early, even allowing for picture-taking, looking around Tucumcari and having a leisurely supper at the Chinese restaurant there. Vega is kind of a wide spot in the road, smaller even than Mancos, but the hometown of an old friend and former boss.

We got an early enough start that I turned off in Thompson Park east of Mancos and went south toward Farmington through Cherry Creek Canyon. It's one of my favorite drives, but one that I hadn't a chance to show Sandy yet. The early morning sun gave us some good views ... and made us certain to pack a lunch and go back for a leisurely day of picture-taking. 

The picture posted is one of the views I really liked ... the harvested cornfield in the foreground, pastures beyond and the La Platas in their snowy mantles beyond, looking at them from the south. TV

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Springtime in the Rockies

Typical of March, we had about three inches of snow day-before-yesterday; most of it is already gone and there are little green thingies coming up through the dead grass. Haven't looked for buds on trees yet, but they're probably swelling. Soon the buzzards and the hummingbirds will be back.

Maybe it's just the spring sap rising, but we're in a frenzy of activity. In addition to getting ready to go to Oklahoma for Easter, we're actually getting FeVa Fotos launched. We've been testing the market with pictures in exhibits, as well as donations of cards to local fundraisers. So far, the response has been favorable ... including purchasing some of the exhibited prints and cards.

Friends and acquaintances in the community have been very helpful and supportive, too, offering ideas on outlets, best practices, strategies and even with material support in terms of some hardware. So, it's time to take the plunge!

We've got about 30 initial images in our stock/portfolio and they cover a range of appeals. When we take a bunch to show someone, the one they ALWAYS pick up first is Sandy's picture of two donkeys! We don't know yet if it's the one Photogrpaher's Edge picked to use in their new catalog (haven't seen the catalog yet), but we know it has wide appeal.

Anyway, getting a shop in Mancos to agree to host a rack of FeVa Fotos spurred us to complete the production process ... complete the names, legends and contact information for the backs ... get business cards ordered and master the procedure of printing on the 7 x 15 card stock we use. The last item has prompted a few bad words to escape from my mouth when the printer refuses to respond in the manner (I thought) it was commanded to, or when two pieces of card stock are in the process of being destroyed by the printer, right before my eyes. But, working together the last two nights, we have an initial stock of pretty nice-looking photo cards ready to offer the public (if I do say so myself!). There's bugs to work out, but at least we've figured out the basics. And we have dozens of other, equally good images buried in our files, waiting to be brought to light again and put in a form to share with others. "Share the Joy!" is our tagline, and we mean it ... both for ourselves and others.

And sharing the joy is part of what the annual Millwood Follies is all about. The 25th annual showcase of local musical talent was held at the Millwood Junction Restaurant Saturday night and it was a LOT of fun. There were about a dozen acts, ranging from bagpipes to classical to folk, along with a silent auction and live auction and a wealth of door prizes, all for the benefit of our new library. We hear they cleared over $5,000! The show started at 7; we got there about 6 and were extremely lucky to get seats! More than five hours later we returned home to let Scooby Doo out.  The picture is of our dedicated, hard-work ... and zany ... library staff. TV

Friday, March 14, 2008

A musical night out

No, we didn't see Carrie Underwood last night. We did see the Count Basie Orchestra at Fort Lewis College's Community Concert Hall last night, and they don't let you take pictures during the performance. So, this is an excuse to show off a surprisingly good shot I got of Underwood closing the Grand Ole Opry the night we stopped by in early October on our way back from my daughter's wedding. "Surprisingly good" because, with our spur-of-the-moment decision to take in the show, our tickets were for seats in row 'U' ... just under the roof, almost as far from the stage as it was possible to get!

Last night was different. The concert hall is small enough to feel more intimate and the viewing is as good as the sound (and the sound WAS good at the Opry). It was a real joy to hear the "big band sound" and see all the various soloists, young and old.

I wonder how many concerts the Count Basie Orchestra gives where audience members wear evening wear by Carhartt and arrive in pickup trucks with water tanks in the back?

We're moving along on launching FeVa Fotos. Using Web-building software (which is not exactly Mac-friendly!), we got some of our photos organized and posted on the Internet yesterday. So, visit and tell us what you think! We'll post more pages of our best photos bit by bit.

This afternoon we're exploring a possible outlet in a card shop, and we hope to also come out of that meeting with final ideas about location, amount and formatting of text on the cards. That will complete the data we need, for now, to start producing FeVa Fotos cards, showing the products to more potential outlets and see how they fly.

In drafting the text for the "About Us" page on the Web site, I was thinking of much the same sentiments as Sandy expressed in the last post ... we've adopted "Share the Joy" as the tagline for our enterprise, and that seems so fitting for our lives now. Each moment, each corner offers an opportunity for a new joy to share ... together and with others. THE picture of ours that ALWAYS brings a smile to someone's face is Sandy's picture of two donkeys (there were three, actually) we saw when we ventured down a dead-end dirt road. Viva dirt roads! TV

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Morning Prayer

As daylight creeps into the valley below and coffee flows into my waking body, I am filled with gratitude for the beauty I see in nature all around me, for the love and company of a wonderful man, for my good health at my age  and for my life here in Mancos Valley.   Life is good.  I am so fortunate.  As I listen to the news I know it is not like that for so much of the world.  Thank you God.  For today.  For here.  For now.  sf 

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

War and Peace

Last night I was on a panel of two Quakers and two Buddhists at Fort Lewis College in Durango, addressing the two-headed topic of war and peace. What with confusion about the time and place of the event, and no prior information as to the context in which our panel would take place, it's not surprising that only about 15 people showed up. And there were at least four Friends in the audience who know more about Quaker faith than I do. Nonetheless, it offered an opportunity to do some focused thinking and research on the subject ... that always helps.

Both parts of the panel ... Quaker and Buddhist ... came down on the side of personal leadings and the importance of each individual's orientation toward peace-making.

Our deep snow of only a week or two ago is going FAST! Large areas of the front yard are now bare and, though it's only 20 degrees F outside right now (8:13 a.m.), it's getting well above freezing during the day. Some days that's been offset by a bitterly cold wind, but we're moving toward spring, slowly but surely. If nothing else, the mud proves it! TV

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Political comment

President George W. Bush appears to have vetoed a bill outlawing waterboarding and other torturous interrogation methods. A high government official has admitted that agents of the U.S. waterboarded at least three detainees. What have we come to when this does not precipitate widespread cries of outrage?

The President blithely says, "We do not torture." But, he says, we need to use enhanced interrogation techniques ... techniques that knowledgeable observers say are torture ... to squeeze information out of SUSPECTED terrorists. No due process. No "innocent till proven guilty" - just squeeze 'em till they squeal.

And we ... the American public ... accept it.

For all his shortcomings, John McCain knows what torture is, and he has stood against it. He has principles. Bush, Cheney, et al, only believe the end justifies the means. Shameful! Shameful for those who advocate it and shameful for those of us who know better and do nothing about it. TV

Old toys for old boys

At the Ag Expo today, we got there just in time to see the antique tractor pull. I was especially taken with this 1946 McCormick-Deering OC Orchard tractor. The announcer said they are especially rare with all the fenders and shields intact, as this one has. I thought it was interesting that the driver of this tractor actually sits behind the rear wheels!

'Twas fun watching all the old putt-putts come up and give a pull! Not as cold as Thursday, either. TV

Friday, March 7, 2008

Oh, joy!!!!

Late this afternoon I got word that I was accepted as a volunteer at the Museum of the National Park Ranger this summer, reporting May 23 and leaving June 7. We're excited!

Late spring in Yellowstone should be wonderful, even if there's snow still there amongst the spring flowers, wildlife and mountains. The museum is in the NW quadrant of Yellowstone at Norris Geyser Basin, right on the bank of the Gibbon River (flowing to the left through the foreground in the picture above, taken in August 2006). There is housing provided nearby, and it should be a wonderful base from which to explore, enjoy and photograph the first national park in the world. Yippee! TV

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dr. Seuss Day

After several years of covering Dr. Seuss Day (officially, Read Across America Day) when I was with the paper, it was a real joy to get asked to be the Cat in the Hat and read to the preschoolers and all the Mancos elementary classes yesterday! (Did you know the Cat in the Hat is 51 years old? He was introduced in 1957.)

I guess there's enough ham in me that getting to read Dr. Seuss books to dozens of kids at a time was a lot of fun ... and we had green eggs and ham in the cafeteria at lunch, along with a specially decorated sheet cake. 

What a joyful day of reading for the youngsters! The nonsense words and silly rhyming make the Seuss books a joy for the kids, and many of them were able to recite Green Eggs and Ham along with me as I read it aloud. (A teacher pointed out that there are only 50 different words in that book!) I even got to read a couple of Dr. Seuss books I had never read before!

At the other end of the day, at the SWOS Accountability Committee meeting, I got to help record survey forms our SWOS students had filled out (their anonymity is protected through a closely-held numbering system; I had no idea who had completed a given survey).  As I looked at the numbers of kids who had been suspended from school in the past (nearly all, and usually more than once) and the numbers who had personally been busted for alcohol or drug use (and, even more surprising, the numbers who reported their parents had been busted for drug/alcohol infractions or for gang activities [that one really surprised me! Yes, Virginia, there is gang activity in SW Colorado!]), I couldn't help wondering what lies ahead for all those smiling little faces I was surrounded with earlier in the day.

I also heard last night that we anticipate 16 young men and women graduating from SWOS this spring, up from about 10 last year. Six have been accepted to enter Fort Lewis College; don't know about other schools. All of them, we hope, have learned enough about the Three Rs ... and about personal Responsibility ... to be functioning, productive, contributing members of their communities after they leave SWOS. 

One day at a time; one kid at a time. TV

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Denver Fun!

Downtown Denver turned out to be a delightful place with lots to see and do and a bright  welcoming atmosphere. Watching the city come awake in the canyon of skyscrapers is so different than watching the sun rise over Mancos Valley!  I loved the pedestrian shopping mall that ran a mile in front of the hotel.  Half the fun was finding the shops as many were hidden away in the multistory buildings without much on the street signage.   Starbucks reigned supreme with at least one on every corner!    Highlight of the week was spending time with three great people. . my sweetheart  , his son and meeting Tom's sister-in-law for the first time (the smiling group shown in the  picture).  I had to have a picture of the giant blue bear that peers in the window at the convention center  and the last picture is of the mile of shops that I enjoyed.   I had visions of a dark and scary inner city and the visit to Denver was certainly not that and such a nice surprise! sf

I never know in what order the pictures will appear when I upload them to the blog, so will have to deal with them the way the computer wants to.

After the APPL conference ended Wednesday evening, we spent two enjoyable days traveling back to Mancos. Thursday morning we visited the Colorado State Capitol and watched legislative sausage being made, along with hordes of school kids, lobbyists, aides and other citizens. It's a busy place!

Our state representative, Ellen Roberts, was unavailable on the floor during a voting session (accompanied by VERY fast reading of items by the clerk); she's in the third row from the right (the front of the chamber), seated at the second desk from the far end.  We did find her office and met two of her aides ... the office is a portion of a room about twice the size of our living room, which Ellen and her staff share with three other representatives and their staffs! Cozy to the max!

We saw and listened to the Senate for a while, didn't get to see or meet with our senator, Jim Isgar. He also shares his office with several other senators. One thing that surprised me was how young many of the senators appeared to be.

On our way out of town, we made a brief stop at the office of the Colorado League of Charter Schools ... they don't occupy palatial digs, either. Then on to Colorado Springs, where we spent the night.

We arrived early enough to do a little photo jaunt toward the hills, where we enjoyed the setting sun on the tops of the cliffs, with small trees clinging stubbornly to little ledges and crevices. 

On the way home Friday, a lot had changed since we left for Denver the previous Saturday. The temperature was in the 30s and sometimes 40s and a lot of the snow was gone. Thoughts of spring were definitely in our heads, and places we want to come back to and camp.

We enjoyed a good lunch in the little restaurant at the back of the wildly eclectic Organic Peddler at the west end of Del Norte, and then enjoyed the views as we crossed Wolf Creek Pass, which was shrouded in clouds on the way up. The third picture is the cliff above the highway just above Treasure Falls, on the west side of the pass. That beautiful blue sky was nice to see above the cliffs and peaks.

Arriving home, many bare spots were in the front yard and the temperature was in the 50s. This morning, it's snowing out ... started sometime during the night. Spring is not far away, but some of our heaviest snows may still lie ahead. 

It's been a week that's reminded me of age, though not in a bad way. Friday morning, in the Comfort Inn breakfast area, I saw a couple of teenage boys in suits, with an adult woman. She confirmed what I had guessed ... the boys were there for the state finals in forensics and debate; they would find out that day if they would be in the finals. Memories of debate and speech trips 50 years ago! And then the realization that that may have been influential in my choosing to be an interpreter ... telling the stories of the parks ... or maybe it's just that I've always been talkative!

A lot of memories came back to me this week: Visiting Great Sand Dunes 42 years ago; talking to a man from Hawaii and remembering people and places from 40 years ago; being at a national meeting of an organization that is the outgrowth of a committee I served on 35 years ago; seeing friends I worked with in National Association for Interpretation regional activities in the last 20+ years.

They've been good memories, but they do remind one that a lot of years have passed, more than will lie ahead. It adds richness to each day, and reminds me to take each day as it comes, live it fully and enjoy the loving relationships I've been blessed with.

And eat better and exercise more so that there will be more of those days to enjoy! TV