Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Catching up

It's cooled off and wetted up around here, which makes it lots greener and more comfortable, especially at night when the temps are getting down into the low 60s and high 50s. Our monsoon season has arrived.

Some time ago I offered to be part of a weekend package the library raffled off at a state library convention, so I got to tour Mesa Verde with a librarian from east of Denver and her college sophomore daughter. 'Twas hot ... the monsoons hadn't quite got here yet ... and I discovered the Jeep's air conditioning was kaput. I think the young lady was also disappointed to discover that cell phone reception at Mesa Verde is nonexistent. Nonetheless, we had a good tour, including a tour of Balcony House with old friend Clyde Benally, who's always a hoot.

The hummingbirds are voracious; we're at two feeder fillings a day now. A fox was outside the window the other night; we didn't know he was there until Scooby Doo loudly alerted us. No pictures of that, but I did get some of the little tan praying mantis that was on the portico. Too small to be a danger to the hummingbirds.

And then it was Mancos Days! I basically spent 2 1/2 days working the booth for the SW Open School's Minds in Motion fundraising campaign, with able help some days from SWOS staff and students.

Next door was the Mancos Valley Arts Council booth, where they were silk-screening custom T-shirts. I love the picture of my Sweetheart enjoying the process; she got us each one.

Mancos Days is when the distinctive flavor of Mancos comes out, like when the two ladies who own Zuma Natural Foods rode their mules to the mobile pizza stand on their way to the Saturday morning parade!

Our new canopy worked quite well to cover the SWOS MIM booth, but every afternoon there was a question of when to lower it and call it quits and keep everything from getting soaked or blown away. It IS monsoon season now! One of the joys was hearing the two xylophone fixtures in the nearby playground getting played by kids every now and then.

Sunday afternoon we got free to go up to ranch rodeo Scotty Cox put on at Echo Basin. I've come to really enjoy the challenge of rodeo events, figuring out where the critter, horse and rider are going to be next and being in focus when they get there. It's all good fun, as you can see by the grin on Jamie's face as she holds the calf by the tail while Scotty's daughter brings the "branding iron" over (they paint 'em, not burn 'em).

And now to the Montezuma County Fair! We'll have an MIM booth there for four days, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Gonna be long days! Fortunately, other members of the MIM Team will be able to help out on Friday and Saturday, but Wednesday and Thursday will be long. And on Saturday we have to split our forces to also have a presence at the Cortez Farmers Market! I'll be glad when Sunday arrives.

I think our fund drive to build an endowment to underwrite the travel costs of SWOS students doing experiential and expeditionary learning is building up speed. We have gotten a good story about the campaign in the Cortez Journal (www.cortezjournal.com/main.asp?Search=1&ArticleID=11687&SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&S=1) and that also ran in the Mancos Times. We've been to numerous farmers' markets and other events, contacting more than 500 people and picking up about $1,000 in donations. I did some "streetwalking" yesterday and have promises of donations from three banks and a couple of large local corporations, plus an invitation to make a presentation to the board of Empire Electric, which could net a larger donation. I'll do some more perambulating today and see if I can scrounge up some more contributions. We can't quite do an every-member visitation to all the doctors, lawyers, professionals, ranchers and small businesses in the area, so I'm hoping to get a letter to the editor printed that will urge THEM to come to US at the fair.

The rewarding thing for me is "talking SWOS" with people. We did a survey two years ago and reached the resounding conclusion that nobody knew about our school. The response is different this year! We've had good press coverage of our trips and service projects. We have about 160 students from Cortez, Dove Creek, Dolores, Mancos, Towaoc and points west. And, people seem to be more receptive to the fact that some kids don't do well in the traditional classroom mode of instruction; hands-on experience is sometimes a better teacher. We're becoming a school of choice for kids who are being bullied, kids who are bored to tears in classrooms and kids who need a safe, supportive learning community where self-respect and respect for other go hand in hand. Our booth is most magnetic when it's augmented by the personal stories of staff, students or parents (or grandparents) ... they really tell it like it is, and with enthusiasm!

Okay, enough about SWOS. Time to get on with the day. Hope all's well with those of you who tune in on our occasional blog posts. TV

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My goodness, it's been a while!

We just got back from a four-day trip to Silver City, looking at houses and sampling the summer weather.

As to the last, it was a little more humid there than here, but not any hotter. The humidity may have been from the afternoon thunder showers, not all of which wet Silver City. It was interesting on the way down through eastern Arizona, when temperatures bounced from the 90s to the 60s to the 90s to the low 60s and back into the 90s again. Outside Alpine, AZ, was where I found the horned toad watching me photographing flowers.

Streetwalking in downtown Silver City Thursday evening, we got a kick out of the sign over a dentist's doorway!

Friday we went up to Gila Cliff Dwellings NM - 44 miles each way from Silver City. Interesting drive, but beautiful. At the end, there was a mile-long loop that ascends 175 feet to the cliff dwellings and back. It was hot, but it's a beautiful hike, with trickling water in the canyon bottom and wonderful views up and down the canyon as you get higher up. On the way back down, we wanted to just roll in the cool, clear shallow waters of the Gila River.

On the way back, we had burgers at the newly restored and reopened Buckhorn Saloon in Pinos Altos (second from top pic) and then sat in on the Mimbres Region Arts Council annual meeting and silent auction, which was held in the historic Pinos Altos Opera House, next to the Buckhorn. We are really looking forward to attending live performances in that quaint old building.

Friday we looked at houses, practically all day. In some ways, that was more taxing than walking to the cliff dwellings! At least, my memory disk got overloaded quickly. Taking pics helped go back and separate the places we liked most.

Saturday morning we took in the Silver City Farmers' Market and bought some fresh vegies and fruit, then headed home, back through St. Johns again. It was 104 degrees in Shiprock, but in the 90s at home.

Good trip. We're looking forward to being part of the Silver City community ... after we get the house in Mancos sold! tv

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy after-Fourth!

This morning at dog-walking time, it was 45 degrees, totally clear and not a breath of air was moving. What a relief after two days of heat, wind and dust!

I was in Dove Creek from 9 to 4 or 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, taking our "Minds in Motion" fundraising campaign to the annual Pick 'n Hoe Days celebration, when Dove Creek honors its agricultural and mining heritage. I'd never been to Pick 'n Hoe Days before; it had its good and bad points.

From the standpoint of the booth, they were good days. We contacted more than 100 people, received $50-60 in donations, plus a promise of a $500 grant and may have picked up five or six students who would benefit from our experiential, expeditionary approach to learning.

The booth is shown at the bottom; I was fortunate to have two staff members with me each day ... I can bring them in, but they can answer the harder questions about what goes on in the school and on the trips.

Right behind us on Saturday was the water fight, with area firefighting teams competing to how a metal ball along an aerial cable. That went on all day long.

On the other side, in front of us, was one of the sweetest musical events I've been to recently ... an informal old-time music jam in the shade of a tree. At one time, there were 20 musicians playing together - fiddles, guitars, mandolins, washboard, banjos - and they ranged in age from about 14 to 80+.

Sunday's parade (yes, Sunday morning ... Pick 'n Hoe takes place on the Fourth and it takes precedence over church!) had some wonderful local color ... this wagon saying "Thank you to the Navajo fry bread makers of America!" If you don't think that is important, the next picture up shows the line outside the fry bread stand (in the white tent) for Navajo tacos ... and the line was that long for over an hour!

The car show included this old Jeep, which may be older than I am, complete with snorkel.

Sunday included a lot of kids and adult games, from limbo dancing to pig-catching. The pigs aren't greased and this particular porker was hopelessly out of luck ... in the picture he is just beginning to move out, and you can see all those guys are already almost upon him!

The wind whipped around Dove Creek's Weber Park both days, leaving us feeling both baked and sand-blasted by the end of the day. Sunday we were eyeing the clouds and crowds at about 4 p.m. and deciding we would pack it up for the day. Just then God affirmed our decision with a microburst that bathed us in whirling sand and wind ... an adjacent booth's canopy ended up about 50 yards west, dragging its cement block anchors! We came out unscathed and happy to call it a day.

So, I get back to Mancos, where me Sweetheart was wrapping up a volunteer afternoon at Artisans, and we go to the Fourth of July yard party at the Bauer House. We just get our plates and sit down and the wind begins to whip paper plates and table cloths around and take down canopies! We escaped to the porch to finish our meal and then crept home to a quiet evening with the beasts.

Now you now why the quiet, peaceful morning dog walk was such a relief! TV

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Blooming Cactus at Mesa Verde + Horse

We made a quick trip to Mesa Verde yesterday and enjoyed the cactus flowers blooming around the grounds. There were free range horses along the way also, looking their normal scraggly selves but enjoying the shade on a warm afternoon. There was also a young colt,down for his afternoon nap, and had no interest in waking for a photo shoot! It was busy there and the crowd was coming in for the holiday weekend. We are so lucky to be so close to this amazing place! sf

Thursday, July 1, 2010

50th High School Reunion

To all of you who say you would never want to go to your high school reunion. . go. . the experience is one of those that when it is past you can't bring it back. I have been contemplating the past weekend. . and it could not have been better. I guess my big fear was that I was the only one that had aged. Guess what the rest of my friends had gotten older also. . wheww . .that was a relief! And it was a wonderful time of sharing old memories. ..and renewing friendships. It was like a time warp back to yesterday. Priceless! And Tom was such a sweetheart to stick through all three gatherings. . and as we were leaving the bed and breakfast early Sunday morning, there was no one in the lobby and we looked down and saw this beautiful fluffy caterpillar making it's way across the tile floor. I carefully walked around it. . but Tom ,just being Tom. . Although we were in a rush to get on the road. .he gently reached down and picked it up and placed it outside in the flower bed. That's one of the many reason I love Tom. . .he would take the time to give a caterpillar the chance to become a butterfly. :)