My New Favorite Place and Bartender

Recently, I took off with the car loaded to the gills for camping.

I was headed up to a high altitude lake at the top of Poudre Canyon.

One of my sales guys from work, had implored me to stop and eat or at minimum, have a beer at a place called Mishawaka as I was to drive right on by it. This is the guy to give me a hug when I need it and shares in a love of rocks and outdoors.

Mishawaka is a concert venue and restaurant that was on my way, so I mentioned it to my pals also heading up camping.

I was ahead of the other two vehicles also coming up to camp, so as I made the turn off up into the canyon where cell service is not attainable, I let them know that I was 13 miles from my pit stop.

I realized as I parked on the side of the road, that it likely had never occurred to me to stop here prior as the outside looks like it could be the log cabin of just a small country store or bait shop. Once inside, the bar area that I had stepped into, was rustic, eclectic and still not veering far from my original thoughts of a hole in the wall. As I stood taking in my surroundings, I noticed they had a makeshift hostess stand, and I was asked if I had a reservation? I almost giggled – or maybe I did and didn’t catch myself doing it. I said that no, I didn’t have a reservation and I might have people joining me.

I was seated in the “sun room” indoors instead of out on the deck outside because I did not have a reservation and I had no real idea if and when my friends might be there to meet me.

The bartender came over to take my order of a beer while I waited or at least just parked myself for a bit to really get the feel of this place that was nearly demanded that I go to.

The sunroom was a small four table area built out slightly over the water with plexiglass windows enclosing it in. From there, I could see a larger patio area built further out over the River that held many more tables.

There were signed pictures of bands and entertainers who had played here on every wall space that wasn’t a window.

I decided to take a pic of myself in the sunroom to show the sales guy that I had made it, but found that there was no service for which to send it.

I asked my server/bartender Brian (I has asked his name and introduced myself so that we could address each other by name and not by a ‘hey’) if there was WiFi there that I could tap into. “Nope, you’re not going to Snapchat from here”, he said unapologetically. I laughed and said that I don’t have Snapchat, but ok.

A few minutes later, he came over and sat down and asked if I was wanted to order something from the menu I had been reading. I asked what was good and what did he like? He said the Reuben was good, the fish was popular, he liked the French dip and the fish taco wrap was actually really good as he had recently had it by chance. I think I was making some faces of ‘yeah maybe’, ‘not today’, ‘not sure’, and scrunched my nose and said that I wasn’t really a French dip kinda gal. He looked me square in the face and called me on my statement. “Well Sally, you didn’t ask me what you like, you asked me what I liked”. I laughed loudly and knew that I now had a new favorite bartender. You see, I love a person who can be honest and throw back at you the little bits of ludicrous that we all try to absorb without offending. And by no means had he offended or been disrespectful in his tone. It’s like the people who won’t tell you that you have spinach in your teeth. I am thankful for the people who take the moment to point out that I’m making myself look ridiculous.

So, I ordered the fish taco wrap and said I was going to now explore the place. I really didn’t know if my co-campers would stop by or not as they had said that they would eat in Ft. Collins before heading up the canyon.

The room away from the bar area had a rustic wooden stage that looked like something the Blues Brothers may have performed on. The room also had a fairly wide open area for dancing and six or so tables off to the other end that had lunch patrons starting to fill. I wouldn’t consider the space a concert venue though as it only would hold maybe 50 to 75 patrons.

I then walked past the small bar that was meant to help serve that room and out onto the highly desired eating deck. Twelve or so round tables with happy orange big umbrellas sat atop the rushing River below. Off to one side there were fly fishermen casting into the aerated waters caused by big and little rapids, and occasionally you’d see white water rafters and kayakers navigating the creek and yelling their greetings to the folks on the deck.

Walking out further, I found the concert space. Here also along the river, hidden from the road by a wooden fence, was a larger stage, much bigger open area to hold the masses and bars along each edge to keep everyone from having to go into the restaurant for refreshments during events. This was no Red Rocks, but I could see a couple hundred of my closest friends happily jamming out to a concert in this hidden gem.

To one side of the stage was the equipment tent that by chance – or not- was decorated with the paintings of an artist that I had just met the year prior in his shop in Boulder as I was scoping out his paintings. And as threads go, the friends that were to meet with me have one of his prints in their home. I was feeling more and more at home in this place.

This is his wild animal art
This is the print my friends have

To the other side of the stage was a metal sculpture of a woman with wings. Her arms and one leg up reminded me a bit of the crane kick pose in the Karate Kid.

After taking it all in, I went back to my table. Brian came over and asked if I’d like another beer. I said I had been admiring how the bloody Mary’s were going out as it had enough garnishments to qualify as a salad. Yeah, he said as he walked back to the bar, but you need to try this beer and poured me a sampler. He gave it to me and said that it would go good with what I ordered for lunch. I tasted it and it was delicious albeit several degrees lighter than my first beer. I mentioned this to Brian and speculated that I probably should have started with the lighter beer and then moved to a hoppier variety as a second choice, not the other way around. He started pouring the beer and said that in three swigs the change will be complete and I’ll love it. He admitted that it was his new favorite beer as he sat the tumbler on the table. (No glass to be broken over these beautiful waters).

Well, Brian was right again and in three swigs, I no longer had a taste for the first delightful beer at all.

My food came and it too was better than I had thought it might be.

My friends showed up just a few bites in and tried my wrap and beer and soon we were all eating and drinking in triplicate.

I relayed the stories of Brian thus far and they too were giggling at this big dude in shorts, long socks, hiking boots and the required Mishawaka T shirt. After they had eaten, I asked if they thought that I could get Brian to pose for a picture with me. He was just finishing up with the table behind me and so I jumped up with my phone before they could even reply.

I said something like, “Hey Brian, would you mind taking a photo with me?” I held out my phone in the ‘selfie’ pose and went to put my arm around him. He said sure, put me in a choke hold like a brother would do and that was our one pic. It actually felt perfect.

My friends and I joked that if the weather was too crazy bad while camping, we could just come down and spend time at our new favorite hangout.

We didn’t of coarse, as while it did rain and was colder than anticipated, the beauty of our spot was too much to give up until we had to leave.

Once packed up and heading home though, we did stop back at the new hangout, sat out on the outdoor deck under the sun and once again enjoyed the ambiance of the place, service and food. No, Brian was not there that day.

I hope you are getting out and meeting some of the great restaurant people who have been hobbled by Covid and are now getting back to a regular scene.

Love Sally

Bullwinkle Pays a Visit

Yesterday, we had our first corn hole tournament of the summer. It is a bit later than normal, but we had snows up until June and then camping trips, so it really was the first available weekend for it.

We played most of the day and was taking a break to eat all the delicious food that everyone had brought to share, when a moose came walking through just below our playing area.

There has been a few moose in our area for several years now, but usually to the south of us. Never had we seen one in our yard.

He then took a swim in the neighbor’s pond.

After a cooling dip, he went through the horse pasture and up the valley.

What a treat for everyone to see.

Hope you had a wonderful holiday with surprises and wonder as well.



Looney Tune Characters Abound

I was going to write about our little Bugs Bunny, but then I realized that he wasn’t the only Looney Tune character that we’ve had in our midst lately.

I’ll start with Bugs though. A month ago while Ted was moving things around in the garage, he found a bunny nest amid some piles of wood he was storing for future use (always future projects in the back of his mind). Anyway, he tried not to move it too much after exposing it and took some pics and sent to me – I was in the Pacific Northwest for some time with our friends and a visit to Olympic National Park (I’ll review that area on another post). He then got out some of his surveillance cameras and put them along with a motion sensor near the nest so that he could make sure Momma Rabbit was going to come back and take care of the kittens (yes, the term for a newborn rabbit is a kitten). Ted wanted to allow them to live there until they were large enough to show the neighbor kids.

Well, momma did come back a couple times each day for the next few days to nurse the tiny kits. That was, until the neighbor dogs wandered over and into the garage and also found the nest. No, we weren’t home, but cameras don’t lie. The shepherd mix tore up the nest, killed one bunny, broke the back of another and when Ted finally found the other two later, they were shivering and not looking great. He put the broken one out of it’s misery and then took the other two inside and warmed them under the heat lamp we have for the chicks when they are young. After remaking their nest, he put them back outside hoping Momma would return.

He didn’t see Momma that next night and got quite worried. He googled what to feed the tiny things and went out and purchased some goats milk powder, heavy cream and a tiny bottle. The word is, you mix the goat milk powder with water and add a spash of cream. He was successful getting one of them to eat, but the other just would not even try. That second night after the attack, he feared they would get too cold without Mom around and so brought them again inside. Halfway through the night, the Mom showed up on camera and found no babies. Ted put them back outside, but she of coarse was already gone. He placed a heater under the layer of rocks and materials their nest had been built upon so that they would have some heat from below and hoped she would return. It never happened.

Peter, as Ted now called the thriving bunny, was taking to the bottle and bits of greens that Ted would provide, pretty well. The sibling did not ever take any food and thus the little thing also passed and we were down to just one baby.

Ted soon established a routine with Peter aka Bugs (as Devin and I called him) . Ted had the sensor set to his phone and if the bunny was up and moving about, the alarm on the phone would go off and Ted figured Peter was looking for food and family. Ted would then feed him and snuggle a bit as he did so. Devin helped out while we were at work and would take the mid day shift. Just like any baby, he grew quickly and adjusted to his environment. Ted learned that after a bit of milk, the little dude liked to have some greens and was partial to fresh dandelion leaves from the yard.

As he progressed, Ted would then put him in the yard under a basket and let him graze on the grass in the section in the containment area. One evening just as we were getting ready for dinner, Ted put Bugs in the basket and went about his business. I let Ted know that dinner was ready and noticed that he was out walking the yard. When he came in to eat, he simply said: “I didn’t know baby rabbits could burrow so quickly”. Turns out, while he was busy in the yard, little Peter/Bugs had burrowed his way out from under the basket and set himself free. We looked for a bit, but if you have ever seen our yard, you know there are a million places for a tiny animal to hide. We had done what we could for the little fella, so if he decided it was time for a jail break, then we could only hope for the best for him. It took several days for us to look at every movement in the yard and not hope it was him.

The next character to show up in our yard was Wile E Coyote. As Woody and I enjoyed the evening on the deck several nights back, the coyote trotted into the park space just outside of our fenced area and stood and just looked at us. Woody took offense and ran down through the yard, out the gate by the garden and chased him off into the park. Quite close for the lone prairie wolf., but that wouldn’t be our last time seeing him.

Sunday night as Ted was doing some last minute work with the mini backhoe he had rented, I saw Wile E run across the road down by the neighbors. Woody and I was making our way down the drive checking out the flowers and shrubs that were starting to get more growth when we heard the chickens scream. I ran down just in time to see the coyote with a chicken in his mouth. I was the next one to scream as I ran after him. He must not have had a proper grip as the chicken wiggled loose and took half flight over the wood pile to hide somewhere. The Coyote, not wanting to leave a fresh dinner he had just stolen, kept approaching.

I tried to keep an eye on the thief all the while making my way down into the yard and to another section with a gate to let Woody out once more and see if between the both of us, Wile E would finally leave. Woody immediately gave chase and I then noticed a chicken on top of the outdoor coop area. The chickens have a fully enclosed outdoor area with fence above it and even buried down into the ground so that predators cannot dig their way in. Problem was, we also have a free range area that only has fence around it and not over or buried. It was this free range area that the chickens had been allowed to journey about during the day that he had pushed his way under a section of the fence. Three times Woody chased the coyote over the creek to the other side of the park area and three times the coyote came back. On the last one, when I called for Woody to come back, the Coyote began a chase on Woody and tried to snap at him as he got close. I screamed a warning to both Woody and to let that coyote know that if he didn’t take off, I was about to envoke the presence of one Elmer Fudd with the gun. The neighbors will confess to calling Ted Elmer Fudd on more than one occasion.

As Woody was keeping an eye on the Coyote, who was beginning to see that this wasn’t a drive thru take out diner, I retrieved the chicken on top of the run and made a quick count. It was not the chicken that had been taken as I was still one short. Leaving Woody to guard the area, I went and signaled Ted that I needed help. With the help of Woody, we found the abducted chicken and she seemed no worse for the wear. Realizing that he wasn’t going to leave with who he had come for, the coyote skirted off into the park area once more.

One might think that this is the end of this cartoonish story, but you’d be wrong.

Yesterday morning as Ted was loading up his car for work, a little ball of fluff and ears hoppity skipped out from under the old truck and was making way for the next hiding spot when Ted saw him and called out: “Hey Peter, how have you been little buddy?”. The bunny, now about the size of a softball, stopped, turned and looked at Ted like he was someone he hadn’t thought he would see again.

I like to think he was thinking “What’s up Doc?”

Oh, and we have also had visits from Pepe Le Pew again this year. We lucked out and his spray missed Woody this time (he got sprayed 3 times last fall). Ted found him in the compost bin and decided to douse him with ice cold water a few times to see if negative therapy might be a deterrent. I guess it worked (and thank goodness those glands were empty and Ted didn’t get retribution from the skunk) as we haven’t seen or smelled him again this spring.

“Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!” …

Another Book Review

Britte Marie was Here

A story about a sixty three year old woman, who’s marriage has frayed, and after not working outside of the home for nearly forty years, she has to now venture out and find employment. The unemployment office finds her the only job they can – a caretaker of a recreation center – that is soon to be shut down- in a very small and failing town. Britte Marie is socially awkward and when upset cleans everything. Everyone is measured by Britte Marie, by their cutlery drawer in their kitchens, although she is quick to remind the reader and herself, that she does not judge anyone,. She is of the type that wants all thing to be in order.

What happens to Britte Marie when she gets to the run down town, is that she is forced into situations and connections with people that are beyond her normal limits. Britte Marie imposes structure that she requires in little bits on those left in the few remaining people and places .

The kids in the small community are a rag tag bunch that just want to play soccer – even if the county has now destroyed their field and they no longer have a coach. They ask Britte Marie to be their coach so that they can play in a county tournament. She has never liked or understood the game of soccer or why people would want to even watch it. As she stumbles through being the adult in charge of the team, she begins to know the stories of the kids and families. Just like anywhere, there is history that impacts who and how they show up in life currently.

She also starts to realize that following one team or another is not always about who the best team is. It can be about who you get to share those times with, who instills hope, who expects to win, and who has the team that aligns with your heart.

Through the learning of soccer, she learns about life once again and of being a part of something bigger than oneself.

It is a story, heartbreaking yet uplifting, of how we can all have an effect on one another. How, sometimes people come into our lives and by just being true to who they are, they stir something deep in others to remember who they are and want to be again too.

It’s a story that reminds us that we are the ones who set boundaries of what we are capable of and what can occur when life moves those boundaries and puts us in a new starting place.

Thanks Anita for the book recommendation. I enjoyed meeting the characters and spending a week getting to know them and their stories.


Thinking about a Quote

This week I was trying to think of a quote I had heard at some point in my life, and of coarse, I couldn’t remember the exact quote, just the pondering feeling it had left me with. I had Campbell and ODonohue’s names as the prime probable source, but while searching brought up many quotes, none of them were what I thought that I was remembering.

I ended up listening to an interview with John O’Donohue and in that conversation, he said something that took my thoughts off of my previous search and had me pondering anew. He said: “Music is what language would love to be if it could.”

John had been a priest, writer, poet, and speaker, so words were his forte. I started to contemplate if I too felt that statement to be true or not. I was curious that someone so versed in his medium would find it lacking when compared to another. Was it a case of what you find easy, you deem less magical than what amazes you in others?

I thought of the songs that seem to come on the radio that pierce your soul when your harboring a certain emotion. Is it the words or the melody that stabs at the tender parts?

I remember watching the movie Amadeus when it came out, and the descriptions and layering of the notes described by Salieri – who’s genius was not to be the great composer that he prayed to be, but to recognize and see that greatness in others. It was an initiation to me to not just hear, but to feel the messages in the notes of music and to notice the layering of the composition.

I contemplated all of the theater plays and musicals that I have seen and how musicals almost always bring a level of emotion that aren’t as easily garnered in regular plays. How it is, that so much more can be told through a song in the same amount of space as a dialogue.

Maybe words do sometimes need a melody to carry them to the spaces inside of us that text won’t fit.

I recalled a recent conversation with some friends, one whom had just resigned from being the music director for our church. I had relayed to her that I had gone to alot of churches over the years and while there were a few sermons that were memorable, it was the music that almost always brought forth the deeper connection and recollections.

But words, they hold power too. I have cards I keep because the words penned on that paper, make me feel deep emotion every time I read them. The letters that form to make words that only the quiet of your mind can interpret, filter and accept as the truth you dared not think for yourself.

Maybe it is the beauty of the music without words that allows our subtle and not so subtle emotions to rise. Maybe it is all beauty that language would love to be and that is why there will always be poets and writers trying to capture a piece of what everything else can deliver without words.

So goes the contemplation of my mind this week.

Hoping if you are reading this, that you have a day filled with beauty that is beyond the words.



A Day of News

Monday was a day of news.

Sad news and happy news.

The Happy News was when I received a call from Galen’s girlfriend, so excited to relay that they had just been out to dinner and Galen had proposed marriage and she had said yes. They are such a wonderful couple and we are delighted. She was the very first friend that he had ever invited over to our house when they were both in kindergarten. They were not close all of the way through school, as friendships can ebb and flow in those years, but they reconnected a few years back and it is wonderful news.

The sad news was that my friend Judy had died. It wasn’t a surprise, but then that doesn’t lessen the loss. I had called the previous Thursday and left a message that I was thinking of her. A few minutes later, my phone rang and it was her number. Her sister was on the line and explained that Judy really couldn’t speak, but wanted Audrey to call me back. She had me on speaker phone so that Judy could hear both sides of the phone conversation and Audrey would answer for Judy when the questions were asked. We all got caught up in this three way communication with only two voices, talking of life and events, even though we all knew there wasn’t much left of it, in this realm, for Judy. She was frail and could not manage to get around much. Sips of water were all that her body now desired and without nourishment, she was in the stage where sleep was more common than wakefulness. We all knew it would be the last time I would speak with my friend yet when it came time to say goodbye, the flood of emotions filled my vocal cords and all I could say was that I loved her. Why is it that words fail when you need them? There was so much emotion and so many memories flooding my body, the the voice was lost in it all. I did follow up with a message the next day that I may as well share:

I hope this text arrives while you still have the desire to even read one. I feel like there is a slowing happening to you and your body. One that could have the feeling that maybe the rest of the world is just too busy and fast for you now. I wonder if it is like sitting on the deck where there is the slightest of breezes that almost feels non-existent, yet out in the yard, the wind chime rings with fervor or the wind flower is spinning madly. Your are the one quiet soul on the deck and the world is that wind flower – whirling a speeds that seem impossible from your current view.
Yesterday, when it came time to say goodbye, I had no words. It was as if all of the years of experiences we had together suddenly flooded the space between us. The shared times, the laughs, the tears, the talks, the years. It felt to me that suddenly all of those moment hung between us and the only words left were that I loved you. I wish I could have said more in that moment, but the air was so full of memories that it felt like it was better to let that play through my heart and brain and pray that you too felt that volume, than to voice something that would seem to lessen or stop the flow of all of those moments. I cherish the long and short moments we have shared and know that I will rely on them when you are gone from my view. I also feel that while you lose the body, we will not lose your presence. I thank you now for the essence you will still provide to the many of us later. I thank you for your friendship and I thank you for the gift of time in the call yesterday. I will be praying for a gentle transition from this life to the next. I love you.”

I feel like no matter what I would have said, that those emotions were shared and she felt them with or without the words as well. That is my wish anyway.

I managed through the week fairly well juggling the happy and sad news until Friday. The day began with the wave of the feeling of loss that happens as is prone to occur as one deals with grief. It was the high tide in the wave series. One of the younger sales guys got me talking and I spilled that I was sad for the loss of a friend, but quickly added the good news also received of Galen’s engagement (they all know Galen from when I’ve had him help at work) The sales guy immediately got up to give me a hug. I tried to stop him, as I knew that any genuine kindness and sympathy would bust the protective bubble that was imaginary around me. Not taking no for an answer, he enveloped me in a long hard needed hug. True to prediction, it tore through the thin veil and I began to cry. The problem with a small rip when there is pressure behind it, is that it opens up to a gaping tear before it can be stopped. Thus was my day – trying to patch a seam that no longer had good edges to sew. I had friends checking up on me and again, it would bring up the tears. I almost wanted someone to be mean to me so that I could build up the protective field around me once more.

I finally took some moments and let myself feel all of the emotions and put names to them. Ever notice that when you feel overwhelmed and stop to actually feel each emotion and name them, that they loose their punch? Something about calling out the emotion that makes it loose it’s power. I could still fell the sadness, but once I named the sadness, then gratitude came in and shook hands and the two together were like friends who could now share in the loss.

I know the waves will still come and go. I’ve lost loved ones before, but I also know that they will never leave my heart and therefore are not gone at all.

Go Hug your loved ones today.

Love, Sally

Getting my hug ticket

I will freely admit that when the Covid vaccine came out, I was skeptic and not thinking that I would be one to jump in and get one. I am not one to get an influenza shot – I probably haven’t had one of those in 15 years. I’ve been healthy, so I never felt the need to get a flu shot. I was feeling the same way about the Covid vaccine until it became apparent that I have people in my life that should I wish to spend time with them, I need to make sure that I protect myself from getting something that could adversely affect them.
The exact moment that this kicked in for me was seeing a post from a friends daughter – the daughter is a yoga teacher and very healthy wholistic person. Her mom, my friend, has had a heart transplant about three years ago now. The virus that she caught that killed her heart was actually a covid strain that had already been around. Anyway, when the daughter posted on Instagram that she had gotten her shot, my friend had typed in a comment of how pleased she was that they would be able to hug again. I smiled as I read that and said to myself, if getting a shot will allow me to hug my friend again, then, sign me up for the shot.

Problem was, I wasn’t in the current list of those that qualified. It’s been a long long time since I wasn’t old enough for something that had an age requirement.

Well, my age group finally made it to the inclusion list, but all of a sudden, there were no openings for an appointment to get the shot. I’d log in at 2:00 am when I’d wake up in the middle of the night and check, but nothing in my area. I’d log in at lunch and check. I found a couple, but by the time I clicked on them, they were already taken.

Yesterday, I decided that I would just keep checking to see if anything came up, and lo and behold, an appointment opened up at the pharmacy just 8 blocks from my office for today. I was even able to make the second appointment.

I was surprised at how happy I was to actually be signed up to get a shot. I think back to being in grade school and there being a day when we all stood in line at school to get the smallpox shot or was it polio, I can’t quite recall. Everyone got it, so that no one would get the disease. I’m hoping that enough people now also cut down the number of people who are apt to get the covid virus.

For me, covid feels like the bully in the neighborhood, you may fly under the radar and not be effected, but there are those we see getting pummeled and even killed. So, if I can help get the bully out of my neighborhood by getting a couple of jabs, then I’ll do it.

So far, I’ll be the only one in my household getting the shots, but that’s ok. Everyone has to do what is right for them, and this is what is right for me.

Wish me luck.


Emergency Contact List

At the beginning of one recent weekend, one of our neighbors sent out a group chat to everyone in our little neighborhood reminding them that if the snow storm is as bad as some forecasters would predict, then don’t forget to fill the tub or buckets with water in case power is lost – for cooking, washing and flushing. It was a reminder to prepare in case of emergency.

Well, the storm hit a bit later than expected. Saturday had been a non-event, but Sunday started with some accumulation and bigger flakes and continues heavy all day. By Monday morning, we had well over two feet. Luckily the snow blowing that Ted and Devin had done had stayed in place and I was able to get out of the driveway. Fortunately, part way through the storm, a neighbor in the hood -with a plow, had made one pass around our little Circle Drive. There was still maybe eight inches of snow in the swath he had previously cleared, so it was a bit like four wheeling on a thin one lane path, but I was able to make it to the main road.

I tell you this to set the scene that it was like this all over, so I knew that we would have people calling out from work that day.

One of my newer gals had just started working Saturdays and had taken her work computer setup home for the weekend, so we had agreed, she could just stay and work from home on Monday so that she wouldn’t have to brave the roads. She, along with my other work from home crew should be enough to cover with the brave hearts who did make it into the office. Soon after my arrival to the office, I received a text from my weekend gal that she had lost power to her home, so she was going to load up and come in. That was 6:45 am. She doesn’t normally start till 8:00, so in my head, I figure that gives her time to dig out her car if it hasn’t already been done.

The roads are mostly plowed, but as time rolls by and she doesn’t show, I shoot off a text asking if she had changed her mind and is just staying home? I get nothing in reply. The entire day is a blur as we have just a handful of people covering for all those who couldn’t make it in or were at home without power – she hadn’t been the only one to loose electricity. I send her a message that I hope she is okay and that we will see her tomorrow . Still crickets.

Tuesday comes along and everyone else is back to work except my weekend warrior. I call several times, send texts, but still no answer or response. She is not the type to quit without a word, or to just not show up without a word, so by end of day, one of my other managers said she would swing by her address to check things out. I provide the address and show her what car is hers – thankfully google had a shot from the street view with her car in the parking space.

I later receive a call from my team mate that she had been by and the car was there, the window blinds closed, and no answer at the door. She asked if she should call the non-emergency police line and ask them to check on her? I agreed that she should and to keep me posted. Better to be safe and embarrassed we had overstepped personal boundaries than sorry was our thinking. Well, it took them several hours – in which time we had already conjured up many scary scenarios, but they called back saying that they had found her at home, in a not very conscious state and she had been there for the past two days and she needed to be checked out by doctor. The paramedics were there, and could not find anything obvious as to what caused the semi-unconscious state. We where just happy that they had found her at least somewhat ok.

I received a text the following morning from our missing gal, thanking us for calling the cops and paramedics. She said she was in the hospital having all types of tests run on blood, body and brain. We realized in this semi-emergency, that we had failed to gather everyone’s emergency contact person and number when they were hired.

As with so many reminders, it comes after a near tragedy instead of the part of proper planning.

I haven’t seen the employee yet as she was not cleared for work until Friday and I had taken Thursday and Friday off for skiing.

I almost was heading up to ski alone as our NC and MO friends had all cancelled their trips and Ted said he had to work. As I prepared to head out, I decided that it might also be a good idea to put some emergency contact numbers in my jacket pocket just in case something happened to me on the slopes.

Turns out that I didn’t need it since Ted’s plans changed just before I was going to leave and he was able to join me for a beautiful powder day on the mountain.

So, this is just a reminder to check in on one another if you get concerned and get an alternate contact on those that you need a backup contact for.



The Story of Me and My Friend Judy

Because I have issues with social media in general, I have gone through long periods of time where I just don’t even log into FB at all. That has generally suited me just fine, except for those updates that some only post on a social site to share that will be missed if one chooses to not participate in said sites.

That was made all too apparent to me when I recently logged in to post something and found a note from a long time friend who posted that her cancer which she has fought back several times, is now to the point where she no longer considers the ravages to be worth the war. With her normal grace, she has informed us all that she is ceasing further treatment and is calling in hospice.

So, Let me tell you about my friend Judy Rupnow Wick and our story together.

Not too long after I moved to Colorado back in the mid 80’s, while I was figuring out what it was I wanted to do with my life, I took a job as a waitress at a newer sports bar down by the then McNichols Arena and Mile High Stadium. She was one of the bartenders and I was one of the servers. We served many of the regulars that find an establishment and call it their own, as well as the many sports and concert enthusiasts that frequented us on their way to the local events. Like any spot that is lucrative, we made good money and so turn over in staff was minimal. We had the same staff almost from the very beginning until the place shut down. In that time, we became family. We celebrated, screamed at times, laughed a ton, hung out even when we weren’t working together, celebrated good times and cried together at the hard times. We even had an annual flag football game for a few years.

That is Ted and I on the far left and Judy in the Pink.

When I got engaged and planned the wedding to be held in the midst of a hiking trip in the Colorado mountains, Judy was the one who managed to also get the time off to come along – no small feat in a busy place with limited staff. Had she not been there, I may not have gotten married. Her calm presence after I had a heated argument the night before with my betrothed, along with the frustration of some of his friends – that had previously assured me that they had the equipment and knowledge of what to bring on a back packing trip – yet showed up with book bags as their gear, was enough to have me hiking in another direction. Her wit (making fun of the “mountain men” who would wear their book bags on their back one minute and the front the next, because they couldn’t get comfortable in them), her ability to talk it out in non-confrontational methods, and the 7 mile hike up hills, allowed for the sting of harsh words to release from me and soak into the surroundings and be purified as nature is always willing to do.

After our beloved Ironworks Bar and Grille shut down, Judy and Jim were married and moved to Minnesota not too far from North Dakota. Distance lengthened the time between our visits, but not the connection. Lucky for me, her sister was still in Denver, so I tagged into many visits just by going over to Audrey’s house. Once Judy started the dog agility, I was lucky again that every now and then, there would be a trial in Denver that she would attend. This even allowed Devin and I to be able to go and experience the drama and excitement of the trials, and see the comradery that she now had with that group. She really did land into another whole family with the agility peeps.

Judy had moved to Minnesota and also into counseling for many years. She is a natural good listener which had also made her the great bartender that she was in our working years together and of coarse, a great friend.

A couple years ago, after her first battle with cancer seemed to have been won, I was again able to meet up with her at a dog agility trial in Minneapolis as I was passing through on a very quick but wonderful trip up through Minnesota, Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Judy always made time to reconnect whenever and wherever possible.

She was back here just a year or two back and we actually were getting the main crew from our Ironworks days together, but she had to leave just one day prior to when the rest could gather. My fortune, always being on the lucky side, provided that I was at least afforded lunch together before she had to take to the road back home. We all missed Judy at that visit.

I’m sad to say that my stubbornness to not give Facebook my time, also caused me to miss the updates that Judy’s cancer had returned and was worse. It was a gut punch to hear that my friend has been once again in treatments and declining in strength and reserves needed for handling the toll that the drugs and exertion takes.

Judy, I can feel the calm in your words, the grace of being ok with where you are, where you’ve been and allowing the loved ones who are with you, hold you as your soul prepares for the journey beyond. I am so very blessed to have had you in my life for so many years. I cry as I write this because it hurts my mind to contemplate you leaving our plane of existence. But all the while my eyes stream with sadness, my heart is still aglow for what we’ve had that cannot be taken away. I know that I will be on a hike, or see a dog, or hear a laugh and know that you are still with me even when your body cannot be. We all want to say that we will have lived a good life when our time comes, no matter what that age is, and I pray that this last segment on this journey reminds you of what a great life yours has been. I want to also let you know that mine has also been amazingly better because you were a part of it. Thank you. I love you now and forever.



The story of Kushbu

This is a story of the magic of a name.

There is a beautiful woman and her given name is Khushbu. She did not favor the name as it sounded harsh and ugly to her. What she did not know nor understand was the magic of the name.

Here is the story of how that name came to be:

Long ago, in another lifetime, there was a flock of birds that each had a ruby feather and an indigo feather atop feathers with the translucence of pearls. Light would play upon their quills like the sun on a shimmering ocean, casting hues of ever changing colors, the brilliant ruby and indigo plumes constant accents. But while other birds had songs to sing in many choruses, these had just one call. It seemed that the rarity of their beautiful plumage was offset by the limit of only one call. That call was the sound Khushbu.

Since they only had the one call, they learned to use it for any situation. They screamed the sound loudly to signal a warning. They chortled it as a giggle when sharing amusing moments. They sang it softly as a hug when expressing love. They let it ring roundly and joyfully when gliding on a wave of wind in the warm sun. It became a call that could express any mood, deliver any message depending upon the fluctuation of the tempo, the accent, the tone in which it was presented.

This beautiful community of birds lived in only a small region that had not been inhabited by people–until the day a hunting party stumbled into their vicinity. The men had been sent by their king to find treasure to increase the king’s wealth. When the party saw this flock of birds, the likes of which they had never seen before, they set about trying to design a way to take a breeding pair back to their king. Surely, such rare beauty was worth more than the gold found in rocks so many other places!

The party began to lunge at the birds trying to snatch one from a branch. Each time, they would hear another bird squawk a loud, warning Khushbu and the bird they had nearly caught would fly away to its flockmate. The hunters, however, thought it the mating call and so tried to imitate the sound. Expecting to lure the rare birds to them, they in fact sent their prey to safety. Next, traps were tried, but still the birds eluded the party. Running low on supplies and getting close to the time they were required to report to the king, the frustrated exploration party left. Knowing the king would be furious to hear of such beautiful birds and yet not have any for himself, the group conspired never to speak of what they had seen. Instead, they agreed that to recall that secret part their trip, they would simply utter “Khushbu”.

What they did not realize was that when they began making the birds’ cry, it relayed the true emotion of the speaker. The magic of the call of the birds had been transferred to the people without them even realizing it. Hearing the varied tones and tempos of the strange sound, others in the kingdom asked the hunters what it meant. To keep their secret, the party declared it was merely the name of the fragrance from flowers they had come across. Such was the aroma, they explained, that it had a different smell to different individuals and thus the word, too, had a different sound from the different individual making it. This is how the word Khushbu became first a word and then a name that others know to mean fragrance. But the truth of its origin remains: in the speaker’s speaking of the name, the attuned listener hears the inner feelings, an emotional expression, from the sayer of Khushbu.

Thus, to the woman born to this name, birthed at a tumultuous time for those raising her, the name sounded harsh, frightening; for that was the prevailing emotion of those voicing it. In her early hearing was reflected, not the ugliness of the name, but rather the unpleasantness of the elders’ situation and emotion. If she takes the time now to listen to how others voice the name, she will hear the love from those that address her with an open heart, the skepticism from those who would challenge her, the fear from those who would want to control her, the joy of those who wish to share in her greatness. She will learn to distinguish when the emotion relayed in her spoken name reveals that of the speaker or that of the spoken to. She will feel within herself the joy, the sympathy, the ferocity, the freedom, the playfulness, the courage, the love–the many and mixed emotions conveyed when her name is uttered.

The name “Khushbu” is a name of great magic that belongs only to those who are keen observers, those who can feel deeply, who can decipher what – even the speaker – may not know is being relayed. There may not be a more beautiful name–or a more sensitive soul who holds the power to interpret the magic of Khushbu.



A special Thank you to Nancy for the edit provided on this story.