Thursday, July 31, 2008


Some of the treasures enjoyed in our trip up La Plata Canyon yesterday. From the top, rocky mountain beeweed, a tall blue flower that grows in clumps in moist areas around 10,000 feet (we can't identify it), white bistort and pink paintbrush. Ho hum! ;-} tv

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

We work SO hard!

We forced ourselves to make the trek up to Kennebec Pass today, having heard the wildflowers were great. The last time we were up there was in June 2007 with a dear friend.

As you can see, this is rough work, having to trek over to a waterfall. And we had to avoid stepping on the starkly black and white butterflies that seemed to swarming near one stream.

Just below Kennebec Pass, there's remains of an old mill (the Cumberland Mill, I think), including a double-tank thingy that looks kind of space-shippy. Last year I took pictures of two sweet ladies, one reclining on each of the tanks. Today, a marmot was sunning on each of the hatches; when we got close enough, they dove down inside.

And then there's putting up with the view! It was hazy at lower elevations, but we seem to have gotten above that, and the ring of mountains around the head of the La Plata River was gorgeous! The view posted is westward into the Cumberland Basin, from just south of the crest of Kennebec Pass (11,600 feet above sea level). tv


Every once in a while, I go to the online edition of "Military Review" for a different perspective on our tactical and strategic military activities. The articles published there by military and civilian authors from the US and other nations offer surprisingly candid assessments of what we should be learning from our recent experiences and from history.

One such article on pages 111-116 of the July-August 2008 "Military Review" (
is "The Sole Superpower in Decline: The Rise of a Multipolar World," by Shri Dilip Hiro. It was originally published in the Journal of the United Service Institution of India.

I have wanted for some time to ask candidates Obama and McCain their views on the assertion made in "Rebuilding America's Defenses," published in Sept. 2000 by the Project for the New American Century, that it is America's role to establish and maintain global economic, political and military pre-eminence.

Hiro addresses exactly that stance, and convincingly argues that it is irrelevant now ... events and the world have passed us by, largely because of energy economics and the politics they allow. The last two paragraphs of his paper sum it nicely:

When viewed globally and in the great stretch of history, the notion of American exceptionalism that drove the neo-conservatives to proclaim the

Project for the New American Century in the late 20th century—adopted so wholeheartedly by the Bush administration in this one—is nothing new. Other superpowers have been there before and they, too, have witnessed the loss of their prime position to rising powers.

No superpower in modern times has maintained its supremacy for more than several generations. And, however exceptional its leaders may have

thought themselves, the United States, already clearly past its zenith, has no chance of becoming an exception to this age-old pattern of history.

Now my question to McCain and Obama might be: Are you aware of what's been happening around us? tv

Monday, July 28, 2008

Same Safari But I Shot an Elk!

Well, it was a camera shot anyway!     Isn't this a handsome fellow?   And the shot was kind of a "cheater" as he isn't in the wild but lives with a large herd of elk on a ranch outside of Mancos.  I had been hoping to find them close enough to the road for me to do a "shoot" someday and on our way home from our evening photo safari the time was right!  It was a thrill to capture this big guy on my camera, even if he was a local resident. sf

An evening drive

After watching the firefighters hose a ball back and forth on a cable Sunday afternoon, we went to the Cortez Recreation Center for some much-needed R&R. On the way, we couldn't resist stopping to enjoy the scene of a freshly-baled field with Weber Mountain in the background. 

This was our first time at the rec center since my surgery, and it felt great ... and we both felt weak!

Just before sunset, we returned to Thompson Park to catch the agrarian scene we had been too hurried to stop and enjoy Friday evening. It's such a beautiful little bowl of farms and fields, with a mesa and ridgeline to the east and south. So glad it wasn't dammed and turned into a reservoir, as was seriously proposed in 1910!

And then, as we were coming back out of a little side-valley, there was this bunch of bucks, maybe a dozen or so, meandering across a field. Several of them dropped down to Cherry Creek and we must have watched these velvet-antlered guys for 10 minutes as they wandered through the back-deep grasses along the creek bottom about 50 yards from where we were sitting in the car. They were totally unconcerned, occasionally stopping to stare at us curiously.

What a restful, wonderful evening in a land that just always holds new treasures when we venture out! TV

Sunday, July 27, 2008

... and in the afternoon

On Saturday afternoon during Mancos Days, there's lots of sports activities, as well as strolling around the booths, hearing the Pioneer Queen introduced and visiting with old friends. There was three-on-three volleyball, the baseball tournament, the dunk-the-politician tank and, finally, the Battle of the Blondes ... an arm-wrestling contest supervised by the Mancos Town Marshal and recorded by the Mancos Times editor.

By six o'clock, however, Mother Nature had gone back to her old tricks and the lightning storm produced power outages, including our one and only stoplight. We tucked it in and had a quiet evening at home instead of going to hear a new group, Blue Coyote, at the opera house. tv

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mancos Days!

There was a time, when I was editor of the Mancos Times, that I dreaded Mancos Days ... there was soooo much to cover, it was a drag. Now I can relax and enjoy this annual community homecoming, see old friends, see how kids have grown and just enjoy the events with my neighbors.

Friday was sort of a getting-ready day, with not too many events. The "81328" photo exhibit of Mancos pictures taken by locals was last night, but otherwise Friday is kind of low key.

Everything really gets under way on Saturday, starting with the Boy Scout pancake breakfast at the school from 6 a.m. on. Then there's a foot race at 8; the lady shown above was doubly handicapped in the race but more power to her!

Having a cowboy ride up to the Columbine Bar for service is not that unusual, especially around Mancos Days.

When the parade starts at 10, the kiddies led off this year, including this little tricked-out motorcyclist and his companion.

There were lots of horses and old-timey costumes (yes, the air quickly had an authentic western fragrance!), and one bunch of desperadoes even had the marshal cornered (you can see his legs and head beyond the grey horse).

I couldn't stand long, so I parked a chair early and let the parade flow by. The beautifully restored stone building across the intersection in the heart of Mancos is the Bauer Bank Building. It was once a bank, and both the Montezuma National Forest and Mesa Verde National Park had their offices in the building. There are still offices upstairs and the downstairs includes, from the left, the Absolute Bakery and Café, Artisans of Mancos (in the old bank lobby) and Nathaniel's of Colorado, where fine hats are handmade using century-old equipment.

And that was just the morning! tv

This 'n that

On the way back from Durango Wednesday, after getting my stitches out and going to see "Mamma Mia" (which we loved!), there was that late afternoon look in the Mancos Valley that I wanted to try to capture ... a golden light on the greenery, surrounded by blue-black clouds from the thunder showers that had passed over. We went up by Bauer Lake and noted that the Gambel oak are well--set with acorns, which will be great for wildlife this winter.

The second picture is more a reminder of the picture we didn't get last night. It does show a newly baled field with the storm clouds in the background, and we missed a grander shot of the same sort in Thompson Park. We were hustling to make our 7:15 p.m. appointment for an anniversary dinner (four months wed!) at the Kennebec Cafe in Hesperus when we came down the east side of Mancos Hill into Thompson Park. The late afternoon sun was tinging freshly baled fields with gold, in a bowl-like pastoral setting that was ringed beyond by those ferocious clouds. It was gorgeous, but we couldn't stop. We will go back, though!

The last picture is of the silent auction table Sandy set up just inside the entrance of Artisans of Mancos yesterday, to last through Mancos Days. Thanks to the good participation of artists in the co-op, there's a nice range of items in different media and different price ranges, totaling at least $500 worth of original art. Friday is the slow day of the Mancos Days weekend, and there was a good smattering of bids already by the end of the day, so I expect that we should have a lively day today ... the Mancos Days parade will go right by the Artisans door this morning, and there'll be a thousand people out to watch the parade.

So, I'm off to the Boy Scout pancake breakfast, then catch the start of the Fun Run and on into our grand annual celebration. 

And we so enjoyed a fine meal last night in the newly expanded part of the Kennebec Cafe, an Italianate building set amidst the La Platas, with wonderfully prepared and served dishes at reasonable prices. Most of all, we were in the company of, as our friend Christy put it earlier at the 81328 reception, the two gems we have found to share life with. Teenagers in their sixties! tv

Friday, July 25, 2008


I had my stitches taken out Wednesday (no pics, sorry ;-}), and the surgeon said I'm about a month ahead of schedule on my recovery. Yesterday, my physical therapist cranked my knee back to 130 degrees, a new high. I'm mostly walking without a cane now, but there's still quite a bit of discomfort (like a deep, deep bruise in the calf and thigh) and sleep is still difficult. However, I'm off the prescription meds and generally doing well. I've regained mobility enough that I can do things to be distracted from the leg, which helps.

Spent hours on the phone yesterday, interviewing applicants for the job of exec. dir. of the Mesa Verde Museum Association, and have a couple more hours to go this morning. I hate being on the phone almost as much as I hate to write! However, we're nearing the end and it's a joy to have good candidates to choose among.

I can go in the pool now, but we've agreed to hold off until Sunday afternoon and make it part of the big sigh of relief after Mancos Days is over. Today is the first day of Mancos Days, and it ends Sunday noon. Lots going on that we want to participate in and/or photograph, as well as the silent auction and open house at the Artisans of Mancos. Sandy got everything set up last night, and it's gratifying what the artists have come forward with ... well over $500 worth of items, in a variety of media and price ranges. We hope lots of folks will visit the gallery, bid on items and return to check their bids ... and maybe buy something. Artisans of Mancos gets nice exposure with relatively little effort, and half the amount paid goes to the building fund for the new library.

Sandy awakened me this morning with a nudge to look out the bedroom window at the doe standing a few yards away. It's a delight to see the deer come through the yard on their morning graze (on one of those grazes, unfortunately, they nibbled off the geranium blooms in a planter). tv

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tom's defense

Hey, I'm supposed to keep my leg up!

Not only that, this was a good angle from which to capture the columbines in their setting.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tom on the Rocks!

Now is he having fun or what! This was Tom's chosen point of view for taking pictures of columbines .sf

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Summer Saturdays

This Saturday was a special joy, especially since I'm ever more mobile. We got to the Cortez Farmer's Market in time to get one of Bessie's apple pies and some of her neighbor's fresh broccoli, as well as fresh ripe tomatoes and beets from Rosy Carter at the Stone Free Farm stand. My old friend Ranger Rick and his wife were just starting to play and sing as we wandered, have visited briefly with a number of old friends.

Thence to Krazy Daze near the Cortez Cultural Center on N. Market, looking at yard sale items and visiting a few of the booths.

City Market filled in the gaps that we couldn't get at farmers market. Oops! Forgot the vanilla ice cream, so stopped at P&D in Mancos, where 4-H kids had a bake sale going to benefit a boy injured in an ATV accident ... cookies and banana nut bread followed us home.

So, I crawled back in the rack for a while ( the perpetual motion machine) and then we got ready to go to the Opera House to see "Chicago." It's a lot of steps up to the theater, but I made it without any trouble, either way. 'Twas a long program (three hours), but well done, especially considering that the two leading ladies were 17 and 18 and the nerdy husband (shown here as "Cellophane Man") looked to be even younger.

It's been a nice day in which we got a lot done, but with no pressure and with plenty of opportunity to rest. Maybe that's what retired life is supposed to be like? tv

Friday, July 18, 2008

Road shots

After the Bauer Lake Club meeting the other night, during which time God presided for about 15 minutes with rain so hard we couldn't hear each other, I went up along the east side of the lake to catch the sunset on the rain clouds.

Yesterday evening, I came early to the parking lot where I was supposed to meet someone to ride into the park for a meeting.  So, I wandered along the edge of the lot with the camera and found bugs in blooms, an ant and a bee.

I've decided it's not a good idea to post my pic of Sandy in her robe, communing in the morning light with the hummingbirds at the feeder. Suffice it to say that I'm overjoyed that she is enjoying the way you can sit by the feeder and watch the little jeweled wonders flitter and chitter and do acrobotics just a few feet away.  tv


I spent the early morning trying to catch some good shots of my tiny feathered friends!  Cute little critters that they are, it is difficult to get good shots, I found.  These are a few of my favorites, but am not sure any of them will work for cards or prints.   We are excited with  our first  month's sales at the artists' co-op and I am looking hard for new photo ops to keep the FeVa inventory fresh.    Beautiful day here, hope the sun is shining on your day too!  sf

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Travels of Tom and Sandy

We started off early this morning, Tom proudly behind the wheel again, having just found that his new knee works just fine to drive .  Being the driving partner has been ok, but Tom does really enjoy being in the driver's seat so it is good to see him there.  The skies were hazy, as they have been as of late, so pictures taken along the way did not show that beautiful blue that we often have available for our photography.  We saw cows, horses, a fox and a marmot and unfortunately I did not come home with a good picture of any of them!  I don't know how that happened! At Farmington, we had a good lunch at Red Lobster, visited Sam's Club for supplies,  I took a quick lap around around the sale racks in Dillards and we reserved a motor home for our September trip to Chaco.   Busy day!   And Tom, now known as the "bionic man"  left for an evening meeting.  Another advantage of his driving again, I could stay home. :)  Good day. . Good Drive . . Good company!  I enjoyed . . sf

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lens lust

Either I'm pretty hard up when I'm reduced to taking pictures of Scooby Doo swaddled in her blanket, or it's a sign of returning vigor that I want to be out taking pictures with my sweetheart. 

Sometimes the burrowing dog is just cute, the way she gets all wrapped up in her blanket and then peeks out at us.

Couldn't resist the morning sunlight on a cornflower in the back yard, setting off the velvety red.

After the Bauer Lake Club picnic, we drove up past the east end of the lake (my first driving since the surgery) to look at the eagles and check out the birdhouses we'd had such fun with in the spring. The eagles are still attending their nest, and we saw the horses switching flies off each other nearby. 

Then we went east of Mancos on US 160, where there are two elk farms, both for sale. The cluster of big guys that had been lying under a tree when we came home from meeting were gone. The ones that were left had impressive racks, but the sprinkler pipe doesn't add a lot to the scene. tv

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Still more farmers market ... Cortez, that is

'Twas a pleasant gathering in the courthouse parking lot Saturday morning, with Marilyn Kroeker from Mancos playing music and folks shopping, drinking coffee and visiting. Some of the folks in the foreground in the second picture are from McElmo Canyon, at the west edge of the county. Bessie's stand, distant right beyond others, was already sold out of baked goods; she's from NW of Cortez. The Cortez Farmers Market has really become a place where folks from all around the county encounter each other on Saturday mornings. Hidden just beyond the front group is a candidate for county commissioner, handing out his campaign cards.

Should be an interesting campaign; lots more interest than usual. We've got some Republicans running against each other, so one of the two incumbents running for re-election will have to get through his primary first. Then we've got a Democrat and two Independents running, so the general election won't be a shoo-in. Actually, the way it sorts out, we have two district commissioner seats open, and the candidates have to reside in the districts they run to represent, but everyone in all three districts gets to vote on the final outcome. Crazy! In any case, the hidden candidate above, Democrat Fred Blackburn, will joust with Larrie Rule, if Larrie gets past the primary for the Cortez District seat. Mancos Republican incumbent Gerald Koppenhafer has a little breather, till he faces the two Independents in the general election.

The central issue, I think, will be zoning and land-use planning. We've got a half-baked system in which every landowner self-zones their property, frequently as agricultural to pay the lowest taxes. Then there's a structure of standards of use that apply, depending on the zoning category. If you want to do something on your property (rock concert, asphalt plant) that would exceed those standards, you're supposed to go in for review by the planning commission and approval by the county commissioners of a high impact permit, if you don't decide to just go ahead and do what you want to do and hope somebody doesn't complain and hold your feet to the fire, as happened with a gravel pit and asphalt plant operation last summer.

Basically, the county commissioners can permit any activity anywhere, which totally undermines the concept of zoning. Two of their zoning decisions were overturned last year by appellate courts for exactly that reason. Now, the county commissioners are proposing a change to the land use code that would permit them to do what they've been doing anyway, and with one less public hearing (they've been at war with the planning commission, and this would undercut the planning commission role and the public's opportunity for input).

Their public hearing on the new language is at 2 p.m. tomorrow, after which they may well vote it up or down. I'd love to have the popcorn concession for that hearing! We're going to try to go, try to get there early enough to get an end seat where I can stretch my leg out.

Off to meeting this morning and then to the Bauer Lake Club picnic this afternoon, at least for a while.

Lots of smoke in the air right now, probably from the California fires, overlying the increasing level of ambient crud that's always in our air. TV

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Farmers Market day again

We dawdled with errands after my physical therapy appointment this afternoon, so as to be able to catch the opening of the Mancos Farmers' Market at 5 p.m. Got some fresh greens and a little pastry, as well as some visiting. Roscoe was still setting up to play when I decided I'd had enough for this spell. We'll try to get over to the Cortez Market Saturday morning ... more vendors from a wider range of growing areas.

Annette pushed my knee-bend to 121 degrees this afternoon ... and there were no sirens in response to my gasping. Still, it's been a long afternoon; I think I will retreat to the machine, an ice pack and some meds for a while. tv

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The monsoon season

While the "monsoon season" in the Four Corners  ... the time from late June through August when "afternoon thundershowers" are part of every day's weather forecast ... keeps the hay farmers scrambling to cut their hay and get it baled before it gets rained on, it is also makes it a very comfortable season. It may get hot in the afternoon, but it cools down at night and, as Sandy has already noted, the play of sunlight on clouds and landscape in the morning and evening is dramatic and ever-changing.

I did my first session of physical therapy yesterday ... ouch!!!! Gotta schedule my pain meds better! It's actually another delight of living in this community ... my therapist, Annette Mullikin, PT, is an experienced professional who is truly a neighbor (lives about a quarter of a mile away) and who can provide all the services I need ...  only four miles from home. 

The latest issue of "Time" has a story that I hope we see more of in the future ... what the positive aspects of the energy crisis could turn out to be. Things like slowing urban sprawl, reinvigorating local communities, changing workweeks in directions that cut commute time ... and increase family time. Perhaps the lemonade we will be forced to make will be very tasty! tv

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunset. . Sunrise

Well, almost sunrise. . . early morning this morning at Tom's favorite breakfast spot , the Bakery. . . . . . We are having spectacular color shows every evening as the thunder boomers roll into the valley, so late yesterday I thought I would bring my sweetie a sunset since he was not in the mood to go outside . With the aid of digital photography , it was easy to snap the picture and bring the sunset to him! This morning he took me up on the suggestion of having breakfast at the bakery, via their sidewalk dining. It was good for both of us to see people we knew, and Sandy (the worrier) could verify that I hadn't messed up anything in my first shift at the Artisans Co-op which is next door to The Bakery. At the Artist Co-op yesterday afternoon I was looking for the "Candid Camera" as the first customer wanted an item with that had no price on it and the next had a shelf fall and caught a piece of pottery mid air. It was an interesting solo flight for me at tending the shop!

Tom is doing very well with his recovery, being very independent about the "I'd rather do it myself!" thing. So I am kind of on stand by for when he needs some assistance, which surprisingly isn't often. He is being good about his exercises that he is to do at home and starts with regular physical therapy tomorrow. We saw in the hospital what the experts in that field can do. I am sure that there are many challenges ahead in his recovery but also sure that he has that amazing determination to do what must be done. sf

Saturday, July 5, 2008

My own bed

After several nights in the hospital, it sure is nice to be back sleeping in my own bed again! Nobody checking vitals every three hours, poking pills down me, etc. Just a nice, big, soft bed with a gentle breeze from the window at the head of the bed and a gentle squeeze from the lady at my side ... wonderful!

And it's all coming together nicely ... the decision made years ago to have an accessible house is paying off now. No rugs to trip on with my walker, no narrow spaces to squeeze through, no steps to go up and down, etc. 

The handcrafted wooden chair Sandy brought back from OK is a perfect fit with the coffee table for me to have the CPM machine on; keeps me strapped down and out of mischief in a convenient location for several hours at a time.

I'm going to regret not being able to go with Sandy to the co-op this afternoon for our first shift working there. I'll be off the machine and using the walker around the house for that period ... safer than being strapped in when I have a sudden need to get to the bathroom quickly. Still not quite mobile enough to go with her for the afternoon; maybe next time.

My temperature's been staying down, too, so I think that's under control. I tested the limits of the pain while doing exercises last night ... it was bearable, but tiring. So, now I know when to take the meds, and I really don't think I'll use the prescription meds for more than a couple more days. 

So, things are going well, so far. I'm not getting any new pictures taken, but maybe I can use some of this time of limited mobility to clear out hard drive memory by downloading pics to discs, plus catch up on some reading. tv

Friday, July 4, 2008

The View ... a different one

Today's lead story in the Durango Herald is about national EPA efforts to refigure air quality standards in a way that would reduce visibility at Mesa Verde National Park, as well as at other Class 1 parks in the SW, such as Zion. An interesting feature of the story is the fact that the regional EPA offices affected by this change are OPPOSING it.

The local application of the change would have the effect, according to critics, of making it easier for the controversial Desert Rock coal-fired power plant to be built near Shiprock, NM. 

I wonder if it's not too late already for the Four Corners. We've covered a lot of miles across the west in the last 8-9 months, and the Four Corners has the worst air we've seen. There is almost NEVER a clear day in this area any more ... a day when the Sleeping Ute, Mesa Verde or the La Platas are not partially obscured by haze. When I'm with tour groups in Mesa Verde, they can see Shiprock off the end of the mesa less than half the time. A clear view across the Mancos Valley to the La Platas is exceptional! Forget about getting a crystal clear shot of the peaks when you're up in the mountains.

There are the health aspects, of course, which got front page coverage in the Cortez Journal recently, but there is also the tourism impact. Who wants to come to this land of stark contrasts in high dry air and and see it obscured by pollution? 

The view from the campfire circle on Chapin Mesa 42 years ago, as I was doing campfire talks in Mesa Verde, was enchanting. Now? It's cruddy!!!!! tv

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The view

This has been my view from my bed (I decided not to inflict surgery pictures on you; it really isn't all that bad a wound, though). The early morning and late evening views have that golden hue on the green that is so beautiful!

Went through a little while of feeling flushed and feverish again this evening, but that has backed off now. So, I'm hoping there will be a fairly comfortable night ahead.  

I have one more round of physical therapy here, and then we go home. That's going to feel SO good! There's a lot of therapy ahead, but if it is as rewarding as the sessions have been so far, it will be worth it. Looking forward to gradually being out and about in the Mancos Valley with Sandy! tv