Thursday, December 31, 2009

... and then it stopped, and the sun came out!

It's not uncommon for folks around here to get grumpy when they don't see the sun for a couple of days. The last two days were snow, snow, snow!

But this morning, before dawn, there was a full moon so bright it blanked out the stars and the reflection from the fresh snow was brilliant. What a beautiful sight, even at 11 degrees!

So, I prevailed upon my Sweetheart to join me on a photo safari in the early morning (she didn't need much arm-twisting). We went up above the Jackson Gulch Dam, where the picture across the Mancos Valley, looking at Mesa Verde, was shot.

It was at least 10 degrees colder in Thompson Park, east of Mancos Hill, and we were taking pictures in minus 1 degree sunshine. The horses would really have liked apples or carrots, but we didn't have any with us.

Beyond Sandy and the horses is Cherry Creek and the next picture was taken a couple of miles down Cherry Creek. One of the beauties of such a morning in the Southwest is the red rocks exposed below bright blue sky, in a setting of evergreens and fresh, fluffy white snow. It's just breathtaking!

And then we woke up a little flock of turkeys, ones that apparently didn't know they could go over to Tom and Sandy's for breakfast. Anyway, they started to spread out from under the tree where they had weathered the night, breaking trail through seven inches of fresh snow.

What a way to end the year! We're partying with some friends here in the Mancos Valley tonight, and none of us are likely to still be up at midnight. tv

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

And the Snow Came Down. . . ..

It has been snowing all day and the only pictures I have are of this one little snow bunny that was looking for something to eat around the bird feeder. Such a cute little guy but ended up with a snowy face after poking his head under the snow. He even sat up on his hind legs before he scampered off. Of course that is the picture that was not in focus! I took some lettuce out and left it where he had been so hope to see him return. We don't see many rabbits and they, like other wildlife, are a treat when they come visit. It is a beautiful fluffy snow and tomorrow I hope to do the scenery more photographic justice! sf

Sunday, December 27, 2009

And there's more!

I did manage to get a picture of the three of us, putting the camera on the hood of Drayton's Jeep and using the self-timer ... and then staring at the camera to see if it's going to go off, rather than smiling. Jeez, Tom!

I echo Sandy's earlier post ... it really was a wonderful Christmas, with things going pretty much as they were planned to go. It was quiet, with little joys together. tv

Plus ...

I'm glad Sandy took pictures of Drayton and me before he left today, but I was shocked at this picture. I have pictures of myself with my Dad, taken 25-30 years ago, and I look like him! Same stance, hands in pocket, unsmiling look ... what a reminder of how we become our parents!

Onward to the New Year

The weather was sunny and cold but it was a warm,wonderful Christmas here. It was so good to have Tom's son Drayton with us for the holiday. We all ate too much and enjoyed quiet days full of the spirit of Christmas. Sophie was glad to see packages cleared from under the tree so that she could once again find a comfy spot to bask in the warmth of the lights. As 2010 approaches, I wonder where the year went! They say time goes faster as you get older and also how time flies when you're having fun. I think, perhaps, both statements are correct. . or at least points to ponder. . .sf

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sunday Afternoon at The Nutcracker

I love the fact that Fort Lewis College brings the Nutcracker Ballet to Durango every year. I enjoy this show so much. It is a good way to mellow out during the hectic holidays. The Sunday afternoon performance has an extra perk- little children in their holiday finery coming to see this beautiful annual performance. Delightful! Our pictures were taken from the balcony and the low light did not give me the best but still fun to photograph and you know I love to share! sf

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cold and Crisp, Beautiful Winter Morning

The morning is dawning, much to do today but what a great way to start the day- just catching the sun rising over the horizon and lighting the mountains with color and a beautiful glow. It is somewhere below 10 degrees but the little fluffed up snow birds are already gathering around the feeder to select their seed of choice for breakfast. I have seen a lone turkey visiting the bird feeder area for the past few days, which usually expands rapidly to a flock feeding frenzy in the near future. I am posting a couple of shots taken on our last drive up to Mesa Verde. The Shiprock picture is a bit strange. . but it is such an intriguing landmark of the area, thought you might enjoy. sf

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Ok, so Mrs. Santa is losing it! I posted the sleeping Tom Santa twice. . . It happens. . More often after you turn 65! :) sf

Rolling Through the Holidays!

Our blog has been neglected. It's the holidays! Gifts to wrap, shopping to do, cards to address, community events. . . . We are rolling through the season, trying to keep our wits about us and get everything accomplished. The good news is that we have much behind us at this point and can maybe see the light of day. . or light of Christmas. . . or something like that! Thought I would share a few favorite photos from the first part of the month. If you notice a sleeping Santa .. that
is Santa Tom, resting up for the Santa and photos event. I did the photos of little people with Santa. That was the fun part!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

That woman!

Is NOTHING sacred? Posting a picture of a tired old Santa getting a little rest before meeting the onslaught of his eager young fans! That woman!

On the other hand, we had such a good snow day yesterday! A little trip into Mancos to run some errands and get some supplies, then staying inside at home, watching it snow outside as Sandy put up her beautiful Christmas village and I attacked the annual peppernut production process. With Christmas music on the stereo and the aroma of a wonderful pot of soup coming from the stove, it was a great day together at home ... love that woman!

The peppernuts (pfeffernusse) are a two-step process ... first is making about 15 pounds of dough and converting it to ropes/sausages/whatever image you wish to use. Then, usually after freezing them, the ropes are sliced into little discs and baked, resulting in hard little cookies that are dangerous to dentition. They're to be sucked on, not chewed. The old Germans, when I was growing up, would put one in the mouth and suck coffee through it, like they sometimes did with a sugar cube. Not much difference, either; peppernuts are basically flour and sweetness in the form of Karo syrup, molasses and brown sugar! I had to test this batch, so cut up two ropes and baked them last night. They'll do!

Though we were busy with downtown holiday stuff Friday night, we really enjoyed our visit with the McKims, Servas visitors from Oxford, England. The kids, 10 and 8, enjoyed the tree-lighting in town and our tour of the shops; Kai got to try on a cowboy hat at Nate's and they both loved the cats in the hat shop. I realized later how thoroughly enjoyable the children were (the parents were fun and interesting, too!) ... they were not lost in their earbuds, Game Boys or cell phones. They read, drew pictures, created dramas with toy animals and sat with us and intelligently discussed what they'd seen on their round-the-world trip and asked intelligent questions about what they were seeing here. Neat!

The picture of the Mancos Valley Visitor Center was taken Friday. I'll take another one this morning, after I get the walk shoveled. It will look a LOT different!

The top picture was taken on our Friday night gallery tour. It's in the Goodnight Trail Gallery and that's Veryl Goodnight on the left in the foreground, talking with one of the Camp's Town Ladies who dressed up in Victorian finery and came to Mancos for the Friday night events. Veryl's husband, Roger Brooks, goes by on an errand in the background.

Okay, it's light. Can't put it off any longer. Got to bundle up and move snow. tv

Monday, December 7, 2009


It was going to be a busy day taking toy orders from little people so Santa Tom just needed to rest up for the job! sf

Ye Olde Christmas Village

I told myself it is for the children. But now there are no children in the house or close by. I finally have to admit it is really for me. This year I unwrapped the Christmas Village that had been part of my holiday decorations for many years. It brought back memories of Grandmothers parlor and the little lit houses and victorian figurines that I loved to see there every Christmas. They are aglow and although it is only 4 PM, I am anxiously awaiting the darkness of evening when to see this enchanted village take on a whole new beauty. I don't know why. Maybe ghosts of Christmases past. But it is a special joy to me. It just is. And as the snow gently falls, I sit quietly and enjoy. Merry Christmas to all. Now I can feel it! sf

Thursday, December 3, 2009

This is not about Bambi

On our way back from Ouray, we went on through Ridgway, Placerville, Sawpit, Telluride, Mountain Village, Rico and Dolores. Between Ridgway and Placerville, we drove up the road alongside Alder Creek. There's a very pretty ranch in that canyon near the highway and then, several miles up the canyon, where the road gets up on the mesas, there are a number of new, very large houses.

Less than a quarter-mile from where one of those new homes is being constructed, on the opposite (west) side of the canyon, Sandy saw a coyote in an open area on the slope of a ridge. We stopped to photograph it (below). Suddenly three more coyotes burst out of the brush at the lower edge of the open area, in hot pursuit of a doe. They all, but for the one shown, disappeared over the crest of the ridge.

Soon, however, the doe came racing back around the shoulder of the range with the coyotes close behind her. She angled down below the lone coyote and tried to escape down the steep, wooded hillside above Alder Creek on the west. About two-thirds of the way down, the coyotes caught up with the doe. They confronted in a shadowy open spot among the trees. From our distant viewpoint, it looked like she was holding them at bay. Then she broke free, disappearing down through the brush to the iced-over stream. I couldn't see them, but I could hear the ice breaking as she thrashed around in the streambed. There was a single squeal from the doe, then silence. No further sign was seen or heard.

I assumed the coyotes had run down and killed the doe; I was convinced of it when I saw my pictures from the standoff. They, in fact, show that the deer was down and at least one coyote was biting her throat.

Through it all, the lone coyote above ran back and forth as the action traveled below, but stayed up on top. A sentinel? Too young to hunt? Too old or injured to hunt?

I've never seen a chase and takedown like this before. Even though I know the carnivores were just doing what carnivores have to do, I would have probably tried to shout or otherwise intervene if I'd been closer. Kinda disturbing to watch. tv

Waking up in Ouray, again

I haven't looked out yet, but says it's -13 F in Ouray this morning, with a 9-mph wind producing a temperature that feels like -31 degrees. It gets cold in Ouray!

We saw they were preparing the ice-climbing cliffs; what a wild sport! And I gotta admire the Chicks with Picks ... female ice-climbers who are offering ice-climbing clinics in January and February.

Anyway, the pics above are, from the bottom, the serpentine curves coming down (northward) from Red Mountain Pass at the Idarado Mine area. Then there's the light beckoning me around the corner on a mountain road past the ice-climbing area ... a beckon I should have ignored. The old fool realized further up that the road ahead looked questionable, at which point there was ice ahead, ice underneath and ice behind on a one-lane road with no guardrails and a 100-foot dropoff. There's no fool like an old fool! We got out okay, but I haven't been so scared in a long time.

The upper picture is the main reason why, though I'm coming to like Ouray, I couldn't live there. It was about 3 p.m. when I took this picture of the town, already starting to be covered by evening shadows.

Wednesday nights in early December are not the swingiest time to be in Ouray ... business after business was closed and there were only a few places to eat. However, we did enjoy a soak in the hot tub at the Box Canyon Motel, which may be why I was out like a light early in the evening. tv

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Driving the Skyway

We are halfway through our San Juan Skyway jaunt to distribute the new issues of the Arts Perspective Magazine. We like the overnight in Ouray and this time even enjoyed the natural hot springs hot tubs offered here.Its a trip we always look forward to and I think tomorrow is going to be fresh snow as we cover the Telluride area! I am sharing a few shots from todays travels. We are hoping to catch the morning light on the ice climbing park in the morning. sf

Monday, November 30, 2009

Memories, again

When we were touring western Nevada, I was fascinated by the logging operation we happened onto near the historic Bower House, north of Carson City. There was a helicopter hoisting cut trees, two at a time, off the mountainside behind the Bower House and dropping them in a pile just north of the historic site. Each round trip took less than 10 minutes ... pretty quick turnaround!

Checking out the registration number on the helicopter, I found that this particular Kaman Huskie was built in 1958, the year I graduated from high school. Only a few years before then, I was still hooking the chain around pulpwood logs we were dragging out of the northern Wisconsin winter woods with horses. By the time I was in late high school, Dad had an old Oliver tracked vehicle that we used to drag logs out of the swamps.

What a difference in technology! tv

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Home ... just in time for the snow

We checked out of our resort yesterday morning, and must admit it was pretty comfy. Large room and large bathroom, everything worked properly and, of course, all the amenities we could want were on the first floor. The rest of the day was spent crossing Nevada and then crossing western Utah to get back to where we stayed Monday night.

It seemed to me that lots of the small towns we passed by on I-80 had an impermanence, a temporariness, about them. Some consisted of one or two frame structures, a few trailer houses and the rest RVs, campers and travel trailers. I had to wonder about the folks who live there ... are they single workers? Solitary couples? What kind of community life do they have?

We stopped for a late breakfast in Lovelock, looked like only one of the restaurants was open and the streets were vacant ... no traffic, no people. Kinda eerie.

There was a storm behind us, so it was overcast all the way to Salt Lake City. And SLC was overcast ... in a pall of thick brown smog. It stayed until we left this morning, and we noticed signs along the highway warning of impending air quality problems tomorrow. Looks like an inversion problem that awaits a remedy. Wonder how long it will wait.

Anyhow, we made a leisurely departure from SLC this morning. Has to be leisurely; the first hour or so consists of driving on an urban freeway (fortunately, the traffic wasn't bad on a Saturday morning). Soldier Summit was cold but not snowing and we didn't run into snow until we were between Monticello and home. Earlier, we enjoyed the fully decorated Christmas tree someone has left for passersby alongside the highway north of Moab.

Snow appears to have accumulated on the La Platas in our absence, and we had a brief spotlighting of sunlight on the peaks as we came down from Summit Lake. And, within five minutes of arriving home at about 3:30, the snow began to come down. Still is at 8:10 p.m.; wonder what tomorrow will look like? tv

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Reno, etc.

Well, we did a quick tour of the loop south from Reno to Carson City and Minden and Genoa and Lake Tahoe and envrions yesterday. Ended up with a photo shoot in Reno, a little time of relaxation and then a delightful evening with Sandy's friends from the past in the evening.

The lower shot is from the shore of Sand Harbor ... such clear, clear water!

The photo shoot was of a cutwork (paper) quilt of hands done by a Reno Quaker, displayed in the Methodist Church. Very hard to photograph, but not near as hard as it was to make it! A beautiful piece of work! tv

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Getting to Reno

Made it to Reno! We're in the Sierra Grand Resort, which Sandy says was once the MGM Grand. For an old hotel, they have really invested in upgrading interior finishes and fixtures, etc. Big room, big bathroom and very comfortable, at less than we've paid for much less in other places. No in-room coffee maker or free coffee in the lobby, but a Starbucks at the bottom of the elevator!

On the way out of SLC, driving I-80 west, there were long roadside beds of water that were perfectly reflective. Don't know if that was because of the salt content or what.

Had a good lunch in the old Stockmen's casino and restaurant in Elko. I was kind of surprised that the street facades in Elko weren't as interesting as in Durango, Silverton, Ouray or New Braunfels, TX, where we've enjoyed strolling along, reading the buildings. Maybe fires changed the character of downtown Elko in recent times.

Anyway, it's a bright, sunny morning and we're off to Carson City and environs and, in the afternoon, tackling the photography of a paper quilt. Should be an interesting day with a "local" guide. TV

Monday, November 23, 2009

Salt Lake before dark

We made good time, getting away from home about 8, dropping Scooby Doo off at the Dog Hotel and driving, driving, driving. 'Twas sunny all the way, including bright sunshine and a stiff breeze and 25 degrees going over Soldier Summit, between Price and Salt Lake City ... we did NOT get out to take pictures!

Salt Lake City has got to be the longest metropolitan area in the mountain west. It just goes on and on and on, four lanes fairly full of traffic, even at 3 p.m. on a Monday afternoon. Oh, well, we're close to the west edge of SLC, so in the morning we can just hop on I-80 and head west into the great Unknown. tv

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Off to Nevada

This afternoon a group of us descended on Artisans of Mancos and began to deck it out for the holidays. We've been seeing people coming in and doing Christmas shopping for a week or so now.

This morning we got 15 two-box units of food packages assembled, hoping they will get to needy families in the Durango by Thanksgiving. There weren't any turkeys in them, but we hope the food boxes will help provide basic nutrition for a few families. I also made my report on the annual meeting of the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

And so now we're yawning at 7:30 p.m., fading rapidly but still with things to do. We leave tomorrow for Reno to spend Thanksgiving with Sandy's suns. We're only going to try to make it to Salt Lake City tomorrow, so it shouldn't be a long day and we don't need to worry about getting an early start. The next day may be longer, but we'll have the time change on our side.

So, it may not be too long before I rendezvous with the Sandman! tv

Friday, November 20, 2009


Poinsettias at a local nursery are a vivid reminder that the holiday season is upon us.

We had lunch at Arborena in Mancos today ... delightful little personal pizzas with delicious seasonings! While there, we chatted with Rena about the Christmas events coming up soon, decided to keep Artisans open till 7 tonight to be in solidarity with a couple of evening events on Grand Avenue this evening, lined up a Santa Claus for a couple of holiday gigs and just had a relaxing time. Doing business Mancos style!

I also did a little census of artists whose work is for sale in the downtown area ... there's at least 50! Plus another half-dozen or so with works in other places in the town of Mancos. That's pretty good for a little cowtown between the mountains and Mesa Verde! tv

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It is good to have Tom safely home. Those big cities always worry me! Tom brought home some some great pictures from Washington DC and beyond. Here are a couple of morning shots I took from the snow storm that rolled through the four corners last weekend. It was a beautiful snow and I am sure just a preview of the winter to come! I'm getting out the boots and mittens. sf

Public discourse

One of the things I kept thinking about during my days in Washington, D.C., was how I can personally improve my contributions to public discussion of issues. I realized I was starting to get into an oppositional, Socratic mode of discourse, thinking I was bright enough to poke holes in the arguments of others. I'm not. And what does that result in ... a boost to my ego?

It's especially tempting when I hear code words bandied about ... the Constitution, freedom, socialism, etc. I believe in the Constitution, honor the flag and value freedom, but somehow I think that means something different in practice when I say that than when some others say it. My inclination is to want to badger them till they 'fess up to what they really mean. Somehow I need to learn to back off, realize that's not my job, listen better and look for ways to open dialogue, seek common ground, etc.

In the meantime ... Oh, what a beautiful morning! tv

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sure is nice to be home!

Got home close to midnight last night (2 a.m. Washington time), driving through the cold Colorado night. Thankfully, it wasn't snowing.

Yesterday, of course, on the day I was leaving, it was sunny in D.C., so I got a few outside images. I was amazed that, in mid-November, so many plants were blooming and green and the leaves hadn't really changed much. The bottom picture of the Martin Luther statue was taken at Lutherplace, just across the street from the Washington Plaza Hotel, where most of the annual meeting of the general committee of Friends Committee on National Legislation was held.

I loved the scene of the mother and child sharing a quiet moment on Sunday morning by the closed pool. The city lies beyond, but you can't see the cars, the buses, the people.

National City Christian Church was a gleaming white edifice in the morning sun. Beyond, to the west, I was amazed to see the size of the trees growing on the tops of apartment buildings in the area.

The U.S. Capitol looks so much nicer in the sunny aerial view than it did when we were hoofing around Capitol Hill in the rain on Thursday.

The Washington Monument also stood out clear and bright as we were flying over after taking off from National. (I know, it got renamed for Reagan, but the building still reads "National Airport." Comparatively, the skyscrapers of Chicago's downtown area looked so small from the air.

The annual meeting was kind of an immersion experience in FCNL matters. On the one hand, it was an opportunity to meet the staff, on whom we rely for close-to-the-source updates on issues of national concern. Tightened budgets have reduced the staff size hugely, but they plug on, still the oldest (and largest) faith-based lobbying group on the Hill.

The other opportunity was the in-depth coverage of lobbying as an activity and of the issues of concern to Friends nationally.

On lobbying, I was reminded forcefully of something I'd heard before ... a written letter, sent through the U.S. Postal Service, may take three to four weeks to get to the member of Congress, because of the security procedures the mail has to go through. So, if you have an urgent message to get to a Representative or Senator about a current issue, mail isn't the way to go!

Heavy emphasis was placed on establishing a personal relationship with the legislator and his/her staff people. While there's a certain amount of tallying pros and cons, known credible sources may have more influence. A staffer for Sen. Lugar said an editorial in the Fort Wayne, IN, newspaper is way more important than one in the Washington Post. Another tip was that letters to the editor should include the name of the Rep. or Sen. you want to influence; their clipping services will automatically bring it to the legislator's inbox, if it is published. tv