Off in the distance

I grew up in St. Louis, which is essentially a flat prairie town where two rivers meet, the Mississippi and the Missouri.   It’s the higher ground, the bit on the other side in Illinois floods frequently.  As far as we know, the Illinois side was the site of a great native city, Cahokia that was abandoned long before European contact.   St. Louis was established as a fur trading outpost and grew into a large city of brick houses and prosperity.

Of course that is the distant past, in my past it has a different story.   I remember it as a place that is hot in the summer and cold, cold, cold in the winter.   The winters are full of grey skies, the clouds hang so low that it looks like you could reach up and touch them, or bump your head on them if you are not careful.   In contrast, the beautiful skies and wide open spaces are part of why I love Colorado and New Mexico.

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In the far distance is Spanish Peaks, which is about 120 miles away.   the bluer mountains are the Wet Mountains, about 50 miles away.

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Cheyenne Mountain is in the foreground, it is the site of NORAD, a (not-so-secret) military installation that extends for a mile inside the mountain.

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A different view of the Peak.

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The bump on the horizon to the north is Castle Rock.   It doesn’t look very impressive in this view as there is a pass (high point) between here and there.   It’s about 45 miles away.  All of these pictures were taken on one of the many trails that run throughout the city.   Anyone can enjoy these spectacular vistas.

Outside my window

I have my computer in the upstairs bedroom.   I don’t check the internet a zillion times a day, I like to check it and read anything interesting in the morning.  While I’m sitting here I have a couple of bird feeders to keep me entertained.  I have unfortunately trained some of the squirrels and the jay birds to also beg for peanuts, so I have to constantly stop and hand out treats.  (If I didn’t hand them out, they would immediately empty a feeder.)

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This is Sooty, giving me and the freshly filled feeder the eyeball.  These little black squirrels mainly lived in the forest to the north of town, when there was a big fire last year some of them moved south.

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Here is a pinon jay eyeballing me.   These are the most common type of  jaybird in the area.   I see the ordinary Blue Jays as they migrate in the spring and fall, as well as Stellar Jays.

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Sometimes I see the deer.

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A ninja squirrel.  I also get visits from Bold Squirrel, a very lady-like squirrel who takes peanuts out of my hand.

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A young Grosbeak, also a summer bird.

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A Northern Flicker woodpecker.   These can be a real nuisance if you have wood siding on your house.   I have stucco, and I go out and yell at them if they try anything.

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This upside-down bird is a nuthatch.   They love to get sunflower seeds out of the feeder, then they smash them against the bark.

I counted up the different kinds of birds that I see throughout the year and there are about 25 different species.   The most hilarious are the baby birds.  They will sit on the feeder, act pathetic and beg the parents to pick up the seeds and feed them.

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No birds, just the turning leaves.

More updates

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There is fresh snow on the mountain today, we got rain yesterday and the day before.   It’s unusual for this time of year, we usually get snow in town before this.

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This is Albert, Junior enjoying a snack yesterday.   He was accompanied by his friend, a younger buck.   I think I know all the deer in the neighborhood.   There is this doe and her two fawns.

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Not pictured is the big buck and his harem of 4 does, they were also here, but I did not get a decent photo of them.   He stood guard while the ladies nibbled at the deer block.   My nearby feed store has closed; now I have to drive across town (which takes about 15 minutes 😉 to get their snacks.   So I stocked up on enough deer treats to last for a while.

I went and saw my dentist on Thursday, he is getting out of rehab on the 31st but he still has more surgery ahead.

One hummingbird had stayed behind when the others left but he too has finally decided it’s time to migrate south.   Meanwhile the pinon jays are keeping busy burying peanuts and corn for the winter.  It’s the last weekend for beautiful viewing of the yellow aspens in the mountains, soon enough it will be winter.

Santa Fe

This time I did not just take an imaginary trip to Santa Fe, I actually went.  My friend was driving to Albuquerque, so I hitched a ride and we were off on the adventure.   After a stop in the old (probably not considered old in England, but the mines aren’t being worked at present) mining town of Trinidad for a Sicilian pasta lunch, it was on to New Mexico.   We followed Mr. GPS’ directions and got an unusual view of Santa Fe (note to self: do not trust machines, they can’t see where they are going).

Founded in 1607 near the site of an earlier Pueblo settlement, the center of town is laid out perfectly for defense and horses, but not cars.   At one time the plaza was actually the center of the town, with a hardware store, cafe, Woolworth’s, etc. but now it is entirely given over to tourists.   The full name refers to the Holy Faith of St. Francis.

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There are scads of artists that live and exhibit in Santa Fe, as there are a number of rich people (movie stars, etc.) who both visit and live there.  One of the currently popular motifs in art is crows, which I love.

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As well as other sculpture.

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The other draw is the quality of light and the architecture, which makes it easy to get interesting photos.

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The only thing that I really, really wanted to do while I was there was have drinks on the rooftop bar of the La Fonda Hotel.   The La Fonda is an old (for America) hotel, built in the 1920’s, that has not been modernized into oblivion.   When I was a college student we would come here for dinner on special occasions.

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After a quick stop in Raton (another old mining/railroad town)

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it was back to my ordinary life.

3 in 24

So yesterday was a cartoonist’s day, the challenge was to draw 24 panels in 24 hours.   I didn’t actually read the directions, possibly there was some sort of guidelines.   I was busy shopping with my girlfriend too, so this is what I came up with.   I did four pages of 4 panel stuff, but I’m only posting three because I don’t really like the 4th page.   They are sketched and colored, but not inked.

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This is the story of Miss P, she came from Teller County Regional Animal Shelter.   She was up in the mountains and lived on garbage and rabbits.   We got her and set about civilizing her.

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I made a list of other things I saw during the day, but I didn’t really feel inspired enough to draw them, they were just things, and Miss P is my puppy princess.

Signs of Autumn

As I was putting Miss P’s next veterinarian appointment on the calendar, I noticed that it is the officially the first day of autumn.    The signs are there, but I was pretending that it wouldn’t come for a while.  Here are a few of the things that prove me wrong.

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The mountain is shrouded in clouds and mystery, when the clouds clear, will the mountain have snow?

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The chiles are a lovely red.   Lots of places have chile roasters set up for green chiles (rotating metal cages, with a propane flame shooting up) and there is the wonderful smell in the air from this.   Red chiles are dried instead of roasted to keep for the winter.

The pinon jays and squirrels have been busy burying the corn from the bird feeder, the hill is full of corn at this point.    The hummingbirds took off in the night, I heard them buzzing around yesterday but now they have started the migration south.

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Here’s a late blooming volunteer adding a splash of color on the steps.  Soon it will be gone.

Art Workshop

I had a chance this week to take a class with fabulous quilter Jane Sassaman.  I’ve admired her work for a long time, she has a strong graphic sensibility, and she likes bold color.  I decided to do this at the last minute because I wasn’t sure how she would be as a teacher.  I needn’t have worried, she was wonderful.

http://janesassaman.com/

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This wasn’t a sewing class with a pattern provided, it was a design class.  So we brought in images that we liked on the first day and had a discussion of selecting shapes to abstract into our images.  The next day we worked on developing the shapes into a quilt.   I wasn’t quite ready to commit to an idea, so I brought in some quilts that I’ve made over the years and we looked at the images that connect them.   She was complimentary about my most recent piece about words and said I should continue on with this series.

The trouble with doing something in a workshop is that you never have the right stuff, especially if you change your mind.   I started with a giant box of solid color fabrics, and decided that this was not the way I wanted to go.    I had used the image of sky birds in a two older pieces, so I went back to this idea.    It’s just another ufo (un-finished object) at this point, but I’m excited about continuing to work on this.

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Maybe it will look something like this, maybe not.

Updates

I just wanted everyone to know that my dentist is still recovering from his accident.  I went by to see him on Sunday, and he is now able to use a walker (zimmer frame in British?)to get around.   He still has some stiffness and pain in the broken arm, but he can use it.  He expects to be in the rehab hospital for another month, then he plans to spend a month at home, then he is thinking about returning to work.   Way to go!

Miss P had a setback when she was in the kennel and she broke open a bit of her incision.   This is all healed up now, and I think she has started to like wearing little shirts.   She struts around whenever we go for a walk.pen15

 

My hand is finally healed as well, I forgot I was injured and as soon as the stitches were out I cracked it open using it.   Oops!

And the mountain today.

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Just south

I live in an area that is a mix of rural and urban.   I live in a house with natural landscaping (I only have a tiny lawn, the rest just grows naturally).  There is an open space (area with no houses) nearby, and it connects along the creek to the mountains so the deer can wander through the neighborhood.   The most prominent feature of this open space is called Pulpit Rock.

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I took this picture one day when I was out walking Miss Dog.

It’s a rather large rock outcropping, you can see it from the freeway when you’re driving from the north, and it is clearly visible from the south part of town as well.

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(Hint:  It’s that white blob in the middle of the picture).

It’s also quite near the local university, and it it popular for students to climb up, which they do often as an alternative to studying.   It’s part of my landscape and I navigate by it.

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The neighbors swear that a mountain lion has a den back in this valley, but I have never seen it. (And I hope I don’t.)

August: Mora County

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Right before I left for my trip I saw the move “August: Osage County.   It was well reviewed, had plenty of movies stars in it, and, most importantly, there was nothing else on.  This is one of those obviously written plays about a dysfunctional family (is there any other kind?).   I say that it is written dialogue, because drunks and drug addled people seldom come up with anything coherent and cogent to say.   It is hard to come up with a reply to an insane comment,  I tend to think of replies, but I don’t use my out loud voice to say them.

The movie is about two harsh sisters, the wimpy husbands, and the adult children.   Women hold families together, it was impossible to believe that these harridans could do that, these families would have disintegrated years before, so the movie is completely unrealistic.   Then I went to visit my late husband’s relatives.

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This is not to imply that they are anything like these characters, but I did look at the family interactions in a new light.   In any small town, there are those who stay and those who leave, and there is a certain tension over the choices that are made, and subtle (or not so subtle) criticisms.

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This past weekend was the 104th annual town festival.   The town is about 700 people, it at least doubles with visitors, some people are from there and coming back, some are relatives and a few are actual tourists.   The relative’s house is usually packed with distant cousins and others.   Last year was the first time I had ever been there without M.  This year some of the cousins was absent due to poor health: when we started coming to this we were the young people, now we’re not. 😉

There was an open family snit going on, I heard from all sides about the perfidy of one person who was not there.  There was also a new, father-less great-grandchild and a certain amount of sibling rivalry between the grandchildren that I had never noticed before.

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I have always looked forward to going to this place, maybe even more than my husband.  You cross into New Mexico from Colorado over Raton Pass (elevation +7800 feet).   When you come over the pass, you see the beautiful high plains of New Mexico,  which I just love.

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As I was driving along I was thinking about the fact that this might be the last time I ever go there.  We remember the first time we do some things quite vividly, the anxiety of the first day of school, the thrill of the first kiss, the adventure of the first big trip.   The last time we ever do a thing is largely unknown to us.   I had a conversation with my late mother about this, she had realized after coming home from visiting my brother that she would probably never be able to travel again, but it was only probable at that point, not final.   So perhaps it wasn’t the last time I will go there.

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