Category Archives: Uncategorized

July 2023

This T-shirt I recently saw at the Denver Stock Show would likely best represent a good summation of July. In case it is hard to read, it says, “She’s Sunshine mixed with a Little Hurricane”

As was referenced in the June page, July began again this year at the family farm in Ohio. We were minus two of our Colorado Framily as their flight was cancelled and couldn’t be rescheduled in time. To say that they were unhappy about missing a second year of fourth of July activities at the pond would be a massive understatement.
What they missed this year was breaking in the newly added porch at the cabin at the pond: Amazing food where every meal is consumed in the camaraderie of the various friends, family or neighbors who happen to show up for any particular meal. Float time. Play time – washers, cards, cornhole, and this year, Shelby brought a badminton set and we found ourselves playing like a bunch of twelve year old’s (until my knee reminded me that I had torqued it with that whole safe escapade and was forced to retire from that activity). They missed the home made ice cream that was cranked out by Duke and Shana’s contraption of an antique John Deere hit and miss motor (actual terminology according to my brother) with a belt and pully system to a 5 gallon Ice Cream maker. So yummy and fun to watch. There was Big Uncle John taking his dad’s tractor for a spin and Devin taking one of the antique tractors to and from pond as well. The fireworks were stunning once again. Sunset cruises on the party barge (daytime ones too, but sunset ones feel extra special) And of coarse there is the 24/7 fire with chimney logs to keep our attention until the wee hours of the morning. Great times.

We flew home the night of the fourth and it was fun to see the fireworks going off all around Lake Erie as we left at dusk.

I was home long enough to swap travel bags and head to Ft. Collins to where Galen’s best friend was getting married. I think all weddings end up having one main memory or talking point about them and I will always remember this one for it’s punctuality. Dustin is a planner and it held true to his form. It was lovely and the quick stay also afforded Judy and I a brief meet up with the kids old youth pastor to reacquaint ourselves to the paths everyone’s life had taken.

Wedding festivities over, I once again came home, did laundry and packed up for a trip to Albuquerque to stay with Jas and play with Kai while Rohan was out of town on business. Cooing, smiling, almost rolling over and lots of floor time made for a beautiful stay.

I made it back from ALB and got busy getting everything ready for a camp trip with my peeps to Silverjack reservoir,  a beautiful, remote lake located in the Uncompahgre National Forest. We left a few days later, but not without another incident with the truck – fuel pump had been replaced after Ian’s trip here but now it would seem the starter had failed as now you could only start it with the drop of the clutch. There was also an unidentified incident between Galen and Ciara that neither was talking about except to acknowledge that something went down. Knowing I couldn’t fix either situation, off to camping we went.

This camp spot is easily one of the most remote spots that we frequent. It is 40-50 minutes to the main highway where a pie shop resides as part of a gas and super small convenient store. Over the years we have tried all of their pies and couldn’t say a bad word about any of them. Cell service is farther away than the pie shop most days and in the other directions from the camp spot, you can rise up over your choice of passes and descend the other side and that too is over an hour to obtain cell reception. With statuesque mountains all around, a lake in the middle, it jaw dropping gorgeous on any given day. We took the kayaks and got to explore the lake a couple of the days we were there. We used the Paton’s jeep to explore the various passes and up a road to an ever so elusive waterfalls that we always struggle to find, yet somehow manage to locate sooner or later. One morning, we heard some cracking of wood and each of us gals wondered which of the guys was up and splitting or breaking wood for later fires. Traci was venturing over to the bathroom and on her way, checking out where the sound was coming from. Turns out, a good sized brown bear was cracking open logs and looking for grubs. The bear was only about 50 feet from where Martha was still waking up in her tent. She opened the window on that side, saw the bear and decided to exit the tent and join us watching at a slightly farther distance. I have to say it was really refreshing to see a bear in the campground but doing what bears are meant to do and not going through someone’s left out cooler or food bin.

As we left the campsites and ventured back into civilization, and started to receive cellular service, my phone erupted with urgent messages from everyone to contact Galen. It would seem that whatever the previous issue was had taken another turn and they had now split and Galen was beside himself. I’ll likely never know the entire story, but we rallied some friends to go down and help move his things out of their condo and back in our home. It was heartbreaking to watch and to experience another loss.

We finished the move just in time to have Shelby and Cole come up for a visit. We were lucky to host them for a few days in which we did a little Evergreen brewery hop through several of our local brew pubs plus a stop at the infamous Little Bear Saloon. The next day we took the Mount Evans (now Mt. Blue Sky) drive to the top parking lot and hiked the final few hundred yards to the peak. Having Cole and Shelby was a very good distraction from the most recent event and likely kept me from the non-stop questions that circled my mind.

After Shelby and Cole left, I got a call from Lucia to come up to the cabin for a few days. Knowing I had better give Galen some space to settle in a bit more, I loaded the kayaks back up and joined her. We explored different lakes on different days and she was my sounding board as we paddled and talked and talked and paddled. Nature and friends and family were the keys to a good month.

July was a full month.



June 2023

We ended May with the corn hole tournament and then I was again sick for a few days. Meanwhile, as I kept to my bed and slept for the better part of two days, occasionally I would be alert enough to notice banging outside the house. I’ll tell you a secret. If you are lucky enough to have my sister and her hubby stay with you for more that a day or two, and you innocently leave a list of projects lying around, then, whether you are up and about or not, those projects have already begun to be crossed off as completed. They had helped prep for the cornhole tournament with some extra sprucing that I wasn’t sure about tackling on my own before the party, but now they were onto the meaty parts of what needed addressed. I had sections of soffits that Ted had removed for some reason or another that I hadn’t tackled the replacement of, as I just wanted the extra mental input along with the hands and muscle. The front porch had also been stripped of most of it’s siding and needed replaced to spruce up the front look a bit. We had another big party planned for my friends retirement party (my house, yard and parking availability lend itself to bigger parties than theirs), so we now had a deadline for the bigger projects. Hey, my peeps are use to our disheveled look, but we were hoping to put on a better face for the collection of guest to be coming to the retirement party. Siding was pulled from stashes in the yard (under tarp from salvage of when the neighbors removed same style cedar siding from their house) and from newer pieces purchased for some project in our garage. Lucky for me, TC and Roger had cleared out and organized the garage on their extended stay last year and it was easy to find – mostly.

We took a break one day to drive down to eastern Colorado to where my cousin John had moved to, as Tc and Roger had not seen the new Berger ranch. It wasn’t just John who moved out farther east of Denver then they once were. Victoria and her crew were within sight of Johns house and Valerie and her family were just five minutes away, so we headed down to see all the family. Even Luke came out with his two kids. It was a beautiful day and fun to see all of the Littles that are now a part of their crew (I think that they had 10 grandkids under 5 at the time). Watching the dynamics of all of those cousins together made me wonder if that is what the Hively clan cousins were like when we all got together for reunions. So fun to be around and even a better time to leave behind when everyone was ready to crash from play, sugar, excitement and a long visit. And that was as true for the seniors as it was for the littles.

The retirement party went off without a hitch despite the rain and cooler temps of the day. We must have done a decent job of it as one of the guests asked if she could host her family reunion at our house in the event that they had bad weather. I politely thanked her for the lovely complement and dropped the subject.

My nephew Ian arrived in the wee hours of the morning on the 17th and so we had a day together for everyone to catch up before TC and Roger left for Utah to see one of our cousins there and Ian and I headed to go camping with our standard camping crew plus Devin, Riley and Mollie for a few days. We floated, played games, ate, drank, laughed, hiked and on one Jeep trip with Jeff, the boys even got to see a bear. Oh, and we had a beaver den just on the other side of the river we were camped at and saw him several times and had an osprey perch in a nearby tree until he swooped down and caught a fish in the river and then showed it off by circling several times above us. Ian, Devin, Mollie, and Rich also fished, although, I think the osprey caught the biggest one.

Upon returning from the always fun camp trip, I had tasked Ian with finding me a gun safe to put into the house. To get a safe, we would need the truck and I had been having issues with the truck stalling under a load going uphill the last time I had hauled wood. I had since changed the air filter and it seemed to run ok now, but I hadn’t fully tested it. So, when he found a safe in Arvada (just down the hill a spell), we drove the truck to the gas station as a test. The truck never hesitated on our little test run, so we put in some gas and ventured onward to check out the safe. Ian haggled some, I paid, and we loaded it onto my dolly and next to the truck. I was to get inside the bed of the truck and direct it from above while Ian and the dude we purchased it from, lifted it onto the bed. I was fully unprepared for the speed and weight of the monster as they shoved it in my direction. I was knocked backwards and suddenly in the need of ninja moves so that the behemoth would not land fully upon me. I jumped a little and torqued my right knee so that the handle of the dolly landed between my legs and I was saved from any crushing blows. I got up, they pushed it the rest of the way in and I figured it was just another injury that I could walk off and be fine in no time.

Ian and I got into the truck and started our way back to the house and as soon as we hit the foothills, the truck bogged and stalled. We had just past the frontage road exit, so we were committed to trying to limp our way up to the next exit and evaluate our options. The gas filter was the next possible option for the symptoms were were having, so after 40 minutes of going in sections of a few hundred yards and then having to rest, we made it to the exit. Ian looked under the truck and decided that if we could get another fuel filter, he could replace it there. The auto part stores in Evergreen were already closed for the day, but we found the part in Golden, so I called Devin to come and fetch me so that we could swap out the filter. I also called Jeff and Traci to see if they could bring their truck if needed because I didn’t want to leave the safe in the back of the truck should we have to abandon it for the night. With just a handful of tools that we scrounged from the truck, Ian had the filter pulled and replaced in no time. Jeff and Traci came with the truck for backup in case anything else went awry and we headed up the frontage road. We were cruising along nicely and feeling great that all had been taken care of when just before the final rise to the buffalo exit, the truck once more bogged down. Once more limping our way to the top of the hill and just having mostly downhill stretches from there to home, we decided to forge onward. We made it all the way through Evergreen and around the lake and were headed the final two mile stretch when the truck died and would not restart. Our thoughts at that point were that we may as well tow it home and unload the safe and then the truck is home and we can decide what to do next. So, with Jeff and Traci in front with the tow rope and Devin following behind as a safe car, we made the final few miles home and coasted it backwards down the drive so that we could take the safe out closest to the entrance to the house. It wasn’t easy or simple, but everything was at the house.

The next day, I awoke to a knee that I could barely walk on. My neighbor provided a knee brace and with stabilization, I was good to go. Couple of days with that and all seemed fine.

We again met up with the camping crowd to celebrate Mol’s birthday and hang out one more time together at Prost Brewery in Denver. Then Devin, Ian and I went out east so that Ian could see cousin John and also check out one of the biggest John Deere collectors in the state. This guy has barns and barns of tractors each of which he can tell you the serial number of, where it was made and how he came to own it. It was very impressive. Then to top it off, he had an entire shop of miniatures that he has refurbished. Good tractor fun.

Ian left Colorado and by the end of the same week, he again had parts of the Colorado Camp crew again hanging out with him albeit this time at the pond with the Ohio crew.

Yes, July will start at the pond.

Love Sally

May 2023

I returned from Albuquerque and the weather started hinting more of spring. In 2022, I had a crew of friends, my sister, and my brother-in-law helping to clean the yard of what old man Winter had left behind. My sister and BIL were coming at the end of the month, but I was determined to get the needles and debris raked and bagged before their arrival. Every week, I maxed out the amount of extra yard bags the trash man would take at most of my neighbors.

Plants were purchased, flower boxes were planted and put into the greenhouse until safe to put outdoors (we can get snow into June, so it is tricky some years).

In my house, was a great deal of collectibles in the form of Swarovski crystals, Hand painted Limoges from France, dolls, elephants of all kinds and sizes, pewter figurines, Christmas Villages, and more – all from my previous neighbor who had passed away, and willed all to me. I had thought it would be fun to Ebay it all and make up little stories about each item, but upon returning from the Seattle trip, I knew that the last thing that I wanted to do was to perform my own customer service on all of these items. Dealing with packing and shipping, more questions back and forth on items people couldn’t see every nook and cranny of and hold for themselves, causes questions and concerns and back and forth with emails and more pics, and, and, and. I just needed a place to have it out to sell. The local antique mall came to mind and so in I went with the idea that I would pick a few of the locked cases that had similar items and ask the dealer if I could partner up with them. After noting the dealer numbers of a few that might work, I asked the gal at the dealer desk if I was able to get dealer info and relayed the why and what-for of my thoughts. She stopped me from going too far and said that I just needed to get my own case and work it myself. She included that if I was willing to be a “key dealer”, that the case could be paid for by coming in and working a 4-hour shift every other week. She had multiple cases, so she had a few steady shifts, but basically, the key dealers come in and when someone presses the buzzer that they need help with a locked case, one of the key dealers comes by and opens the case, shows the merchandise and puts it up front for the customer if they decide to purchase the item. The customer is given a numbered color coded card and is then free to keep shopping and each time they purchase another item, they just show the card and it is added to their stash behind the sales counter. Sounded easy enough for me and so, I filled out the dealer application and my name was to be put on the waiting list for a case. This was back in early March.

Since March, I had not heard from them to even say that they had my application or where I was on the list. I mean, I had been told that it was likely going to be a 6-9 month wait, but I thought that they likely should let people know that they were indeed on the list. Now that I was back in the vicinity, I stopped by one afternoon to ask for confirmation that they did indeed have my info and if the wait list was getting shorter. The gal behind the counter relayed that everything about the antique mall was antique and that included their communication structure. They were not in the habit of updating the waiting list, but when the time did come, a call would be made to me and I would have a few days to respond and get a case and that call was still likely 6-9 months in waiting. I said that I had been told about the “key dealership” program and asked if I could go ahead and start volunteering for shifts now and just have that cover the case when it became available. She replied that No, you cannot work if you don’t have a case, but if I was eager to work, then she would pass along the info to the scheduling manager and I could get bumped up nearer to the top of the waiting list as they were always looking for more key dealers. I provided my name and number and set to walking around the booths and stalls to see what kind of fun things I could spot. I hadn’t made it through 1/4 of the store before I received a call from a manager offering me a case. So much for the 6-9 month wait. I picked out a case and now we just had to fill it.

My case was to be available starting Mother’s Day, so my friend Traci and I set out to price, tag, and create a spreadsheet of internet prices for each item and the prices we would sell for. When I signed the dealer paperwork, I added Traci as my co-dealer so that she too could go into the case if needed and also get the dealer discounts when she wanted to purchase something from the store that might be from another dealer. And thus, “antique dealer” could be added to my short resume.

The last week of May was a flurry of activity. My sister and brother-in-law showed up to stay for a month, my cousin and daughter showed up with intent for daughter to stay with us while she looked to find a job in Colorado, and the annual Ted Memorial Cornhole tournament was held and again well attended. Congrats to Bob and Riley for winning this year.

The pretty tuxedo kitty in the pics was also one of the inherited items from the previous neighbor. Birdie was 15 when we got him and having never been an outdoor cat, he became quite curious about the flora and fauna of the yard. He also established himself as quite the therapy cat offering comfort in a most gentle manner. He really is the very best cat we could have ever asked for had we even thought of ever asking. Ted was allergic to cats, so it was never an option, but Birdie has become Devin’s cat and to see the two of them cuddling together always makes me happy.


Today a Cinnamon Roll

Today was to be the day about May 2023. Today was to be the day I went skiing with a friend. Today I wanted a cinnamon roll.

Today was to be a skiing day with one of my Mom friends, but yesterday afternoon, we had already decided to wait for a better day. The ski area has received more than 4 feet of snow this past week, so it would be grand if it were not for the low temps and high winds. Not feeling the need to prove ourselves anymore, we said we’d have coffee/tea in the morning together and skip skiing.

Last evening, my sister in law texted that our Aunt Virginia had died. I went to bed thinking of her and that the first time I had really gotten to spend any time with her was when she was one of my third grade teachers. The reasons why is a longer post and maybe for another time. I will say that the time we missed as young kids, was made up for in these last few decades. I actually think that it was at my nephews homecoming game several years back that she attended her first football game with us. Anyway, as happens when we lose someone, we tend to recall little pieces of the lives you shared together. Sometimes, its a bit like a broken mirror and the fractures are small and reflect randomly and sometimes there’s a piece that stares right back at you.

Then this morning, my phone showed that I had missed a call and there was a voicemail. I played the message and it was from Ted’s cousin Cathy. She was calling to let me know that his Aunt Marian had passed away in November and she had just now found my number and wanted me to know. Let me preface this next part by saying that I have also lost a dear friend just not two weeks ago and so the break in my heart is already fresh. Aunt Marian might have passed two months ago, but for me it was today. You cannot feel the loss until you know something is gone – otherwise you always believe you just have to reach out to get it.

Aunt Marian was Ted’s late mother’s sister in law. She had come out to visit us in Colorado, she came to Ted’s memorial at the pond and she always sent cards. She was beautiful, had a great smile, was funny and a straight shooter. She told it honestly. And for some reason, it felt like I lost another piece of Ted when I heard the news. I spent the better part of the morning in tears with the weight of all three losses upon me.

My ski buddy texted asking where we were getting together and since I kinda felt like a fragile child, I wanted a cinnamon roll. Band aids might help a cut, but cinnamon rolls help when you need the assurance of something you grew up with. Losing so much family so quickly in this new year required dough, butter, cinnamon and sugar. (analyze the eating disfunction on your own time, cinnamon rolls rule for me). Anyway, she said she would stop by the new bakery I had suggested we meet at and just bring them to my house since I had yet to shower and be ready to leave for anywhere.

She arrived not too much later and we plated up our rolls and sat down to enjoy. I started to talk about the recent series of news and during a pause, she exclaimed that honestly, she was surprised I had Aunts to lose at my age. It’s a good friend who makes you guffaw and makes you want to flip her off when you thought you only wanted to feel sad. After that, I was feeling like I needed my roll to be warmer than it had survived on the drive from Conifer to Evergreen, so I got up, pulled out the butter dish, slapped a dollop of butter on top and slid it into the microwave. Her face lit up and she swung off of her stool to do the same thing. At least I wasn’t putting these grief pounds on alone.

If you are reading this and I haven’t told you I love you lately. I love you.


Ps. Do not fret. I don’t buy cinnamon rolls often. In fact, I’m not sure I bought any in 2023.

April 2023

Friends came in from Missouri, who own the cabin along the CO River that I love to visit, and so I went there for some further relaxation and days of skiing at Mary Jane Ski area. We were captivated by the charms of a visiting moose every morning, lovely skiing every day and just hanging out and catching up in the evenings.

I managed a wonderful ski day with Ted’s ICU nurses once again too.

I went and got the Tdap vaccine and I don’t know if it has immediate affects or if it is just a coincidence, but my persistent and constant cough went away after receiving the shot. Either way, I was so happy to have it gone.

I took off for Albuquerque with the thought that I would likely stay a week. While I was longing to have some quality baby and friend times, I also didn’t want to impose or infringe on their time together as a new family. I knew that they had been having a night doula come in and stay with the baby a few nights a week and the daddy was taking the other nights so that momma could recoup from childbirth. She was breast feeding, but the night person would bring baby to her and then take away, change diaper and put back to sleep. It was a system that I wished I had been afforded in my day as it worked well for baby and mama.

I thought the drive down might somehow feel slower than normal since I was highly anticipating my time there, but the adverse was true. Before I knew it, I was only an hour or so from the Co/NM border. The needle on my gas gauge was below 1/4, so I fiddled around trying to locate my wallet so that it would be handy when I saw a station that was reasonable in price. No wallet to be found. I stopped and rifled through a few bags and into the seats, still no wallet. I now didn’t have enough gas to even get home if I turned around. I googled to see if one of the banks we use was in Trinidad – the next major town on my way and as luck would have it, the bank that held the business and one personal account was there. So thankful that I know my bank account numbers and have a digital drivers license on my phone as they allowed me to withdraw enough cash to get there and back. Now the trick would be to find the gas stations that still took cash and not credit only.

I arrived just as the night doula was cut from the rotation and I became the every other night person. On my nights, we would bring the bassinette into my room and most nights, when Kailani (baby) went to bed, so did I. She was so tiny and perfect that even her cry’s were like cooing to me. I had always enjoyed my own children at the newborn age – honestly it has always been one of my favorite stages as I swear that you can just watch them for hours and see the changes and growth. Like a beautiful plant, you can put them down, watch them grow, and not have to worry about them going anywhere. I loved my quiet night times with Kai as she stirred awake and we would quietly pad into her parents room for a spell of feeding and then back to our shared space to cuddle until sleep once again found her.

The next three weeks for me, was some of the most intimate space I have had the privilege to be a part of in quite some time. While I hadn’t been there for the actual birth, I felt like we were birthing the new beginnings of this new life in their home and I was given full permission to be a full part of that process. I cannot tell you what a blessing it was for me and I believe that gratitude flows both ways.

I won’t go into all of the personals, but like anything new in our lives, change must be managed, obstacles overcome and emotions navigated. Being the observer of finding and testing the myriad of breast pumps on the market was interesting. Learning about lip and tongue ties and the varying degrees and implications was something new for me. The options of everything for a baby seams to have exponentially grown since I had kids.

We also had a list of house and garden projects that we were set to conquer while there was three of us in the house to help out – hence my one week projection turning into three. The time went fast and when I left, I felt an emptiness in my arms where Kai had made her imprint.

Oh, and Kailani’s nurse practitioner who took care of the minor lip and tongue ties in an office apace inside her home, also happened to have the most amazing bee setup I had ever seen. It is based upon Slovenian hive houses and would solve all of my issues with having bees at altitude and cold weather. It is on my wish list.

Love Sally

March 2023

As you might surmise if you read what February was like, you could believe that March began with lots of bedrest and trying to get over the terrible cough and cold that had lodged into my body. On this speculation, you would be correct. I did manage to kick the cold, but the cough lingered.

We got into a puzzle rotation with friends and enjoyed putting together some fun and beautiful puzzles. Below is just a sampling of the puzzles we plowed through.

A beautiful event happened mid March that would set up my time in April: My friends in Albuquerque had their little baby girl and was taking me up on my offer to come down and help out once my cough was done. Actually, they were requiring anyone who was to have contact with the little babe get their Tdap shot (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough)) and being that I hadn’t had one since I fell through the deck during construction of it when Galen was 8, I was in need of it anyway. I scheduled my shot for early April and let the excitement of being with a newborn settle upon me.

This week’s frigid weather has me also remembering last winter’s weather. We historically have heated mostly with our wood burning stove and the beginning of winter seemed mild and so, I wasn’t burning often so as to conserve the wood we had. We hadn’t gotten any new wood and snow piled up to where the larger pile was before it was thought of to bring it over, so we just kept burning to a minimum. That seemed prudent until the first really cold month and the utility bill came in. The moratorium to save wood was off and we were back to burning. I checked on the local social media and someone had some dead fallen pine that they had cleared from their property and was happy to give away. It was mostly already cut into lengths that would fit into the stove, so we took advantage of the free wood. I figured that some of the BTU’s had dried out of the wood, but then maybe the creosote too was lessened. I was wrong. We had cleaned the flue in the spring of the prior year after all burning was done, but by March of this year, we started to notice that the draw of smoke up the chimney was less and further inspection showed the spark arrester at the top of the chimney was gunked up as well.

Devin and I got out the chimney brush and the ropes and got to work. We have several bends and turns in our chimney from the stove up through the roof, so the poles that come with a chimney brush just won’t work for us. (Ted strayed away from doing anything the normal way as much as possible). We remove the stove pipe from the stove, hook on a bag to collect the debri, poke a hole through the top of the bag so that we can pull the rope down through as we scrub out the flue with the person on top pulling up on the rope tied to one end of the brush, and the person below pulling in alternate turns on the downside. It is generally, fairly dust free with the particles passing the hole off to the side and just falling into the trash bag. Unfortunately, with the amount of pine we had been burning, there was much more build up than normal and as I was the person at the bottom pulling the rope, I failed to notice how full the bag was getting and before we could finish, it became detached from it’s holding spot. It fell to the floor and all of the soot meant for the bag came tumbling down in front of me and all of the soot in the bag mushroomed up like a mini explosion. I suddenly looked like the coal miners daughter.

And so ended my March.


February 2023

February began with the intent of my Seattle peeps coming to Colorado so that I could begin the introduction and lessons for snow skiing for their almost 5 year old. What transpired instead was a change in Yolekha’s work plans to where instead of quitting Amazon and going a different direction, she opted to go back and so with that, her free time was nixed and it was then proposed that they would fly me out there for skiing in their region. Turns out that my ski pass also included several resorts in Washington, so I was all in.

Somehow a ski weekend turned into three weekends and a few extra days. I mean, it made sense as the baby’s one year birthday was the first weekend and I should be there for that since I am his God Mother. The second weekend was Presidents Day weekend and my pass had black out days for Sat and Sunday, so we would ski Friday and Monday of that weekend, and then since we were loosing a few ski days, I should stay for one more weekend so that we could ski on that final weekend and pick up the days we missed. I couldn’t see any reason to argue, so that was the new plan.

As arranged, the first weekend was dedicated to the birthday. There was a party with friends – most of whom I have now met several times and enjoy very much. There was a party with just the family – Yols Mom and Dad are still living with them as they work on their immigration cards allowing them to visit at any time and we also get along famously. There was a play performed by Amara for our entertainment pleasure, a happy little cake that Amara and Nana made together, and much love and laughter.

When Monday rolled around, Kavir (the baby) started daycare. I would get up with the grandparents and have Gus’s (Yolekha’s dad) morning drink concoction of ginger and spices with him and Maranna (Yol’s Mom). We would get the kids fed as Yol’s and A got themselves and then the kids dressed. I would then accompany to drop off the kids to daycare and then head out as tourist from there. Sometimes I took the bus into Seattle proper to explore there or take a ferry to an island out in the bay to explore a new spot. It was an active week and I’ve learned to really love exploring alone.

By Friday, Adrian, Amara and myself had rented them skis ( I took my own out with me) and headed out for the afternoon and evening skiing at Crystal Mountain near Mount Rainer. The rest of the family drove separately and headed to an Airbnb outside of the park that they had rented for the weekend. Amara did great learning to ski and said it felt like flying to her. Living up to it’s name, it was nearly a crystal clear sky when we first arrived, but by mid afternoon, the clouds began to roll in. Adrian was also learning to ski – although he had been and had lessons a few times before. He felt comfortable enough after a few hours to manage Amara on the bunny slope by himself for a bit and so I headed up to the top to check out and see what the rest of the mountain was like. Unfortunately, those clouds that were rolling in brought some gusting wind at the upper slopes and I could barely see my own way down, let alone the view from the top that I had yearned for. I practically had to feel my way back down and out of the upper whipping winds, but I made it and once again joined my beginner buddies. We stayed for some night skiing, hot chocolate around the fire and then headed to our accommodations.

That day, Kavir was not feeling his best and by later that evening, Adrian was fighting off an illness and then later still, I too started to feel achy and a general feeling of malaise. There were issues with the Airbnb that first day and night and since we knew there was no skiing for the next two days due to the black outs on the passes, coupled with three of us were not feeling our best, we decided to just head back to Seattle and recoup there.

The next week, we all took it pretty easy during the week. I’d still get up and accompany the drop-off to daycare, but then generally, I would return home to read and rest throughout the day as whatever that bug was that some of us contracted still had A and I at about fifty percent energy level. By Thursday though, we decided we could muster up enough vigor to ski on Friday afternoon. This time we ventured to Snoqualmie Pass ski area where the bunny slope was a bit harder. I helped Amara off the lift on the initial run there and skied her to a good starting spot at the top of the slope we were on. I let her go with instructions to make big S turns on her way down to maintain a safe speed and not get out of control. Off she went, and she immediately headed straight down the hill picking up speed. I stood there for a few moments admiring how fearless she was and thinking that she was surely going to turn or even fall down soon so as to not become a down hill racer, but no, she held it together and became a small bullet train with no conductor or brakes. It then finally kicked in that I was responsible for this one and had better point my own ski’s down, get into a tuck position and catch up with my daring apprentice. I flew down the hill and as I approached, I told her I was going to stick out my ski pole and she should grab onto it so that I could then slow us both down. She did, and instead of having any remorse for not making the turns as directed or being scared of her own speed, she beamed at how fun that had been. I slowed my heart, calmed my external voice (my internal one was slightly elevated) and with some discussion, I did get her to agree that for the rest of the day, we would ski with a bit more control and include turns into her downhill repertoire.

We made several more runs and as we were just getting in the queue to go back up for yet another run, my stomach took a sour turn like someone had just poured lemon juice into a glass of milk. Amara relayed that she needed to use the restroom and I realized that I would need one too. Unable to get out of the line, I said we would just ride up and ski straight down to the bathrooms as they were just off to one side of the slope we were on. We made it down and thankfully Adrian said he would take Amara to the bathroom with him this time. I was seriously afraid that in getting all the layers of helmet, gloves, coat, vest, and bibs off of Amara for her to pee first, that I would now be in another race that my bowels might lose to. We all met outside of the bathrooms a bit later and none of us had the gumption to go up and make any more runs. Amara was scheduled for a birthday party later anyway and thus we just headed back home.

I immediately took to my room and onto the bed hoping this wasn’t the next daycare bug to strike me. The hope was false and within an hour I was sick on the floor of the bathroom just outside the bedroom I was staying in. I wasn’t the only one to contract this bug, but I was the one that it hit the hardest. I will say that you may not be sure just how close you are to a family until you are terribly sick while staying with them. Living with all men in my house, I am use to bearing through illnesses while being left alone. No one in my house comes close to qualifying as a nurse and so being sick in my house is more like being in solitary confinement in a prison. Food and water will be left nearby, but the inmate is on their own until well enough to be reestablished into general population. In Seattle though, I had two motherly figures to provide the kind of care that just makes you want to cry – mostly out of gratitude. Even Gus would make me a lemon honey potion to cut through the acids of being sick and give some energy through the sweetness. I was only violently ill for about 24 hours, but it again took a toll and I didn’t finish my stay with the gusto of energy that I normally would have. We still had good talks, good food and a wonderful time together, but seemingly catching every bug in the petri dish of the daycare environment made for a more intimate time that I had expected.

Luckily, when I left, the plane was nearly empty and I had an entire row in which to stretch out and rest once more.

Unfortunately, I arrived home just in time for the last of the daycare bugs to hit and I ended up with the worst cold and cough I have had in years.

I may have been under the weather more than not on the trip, but I still wouldn’t cancel it if I were to have to choose to be sick and go or well and not go. And that was February.


January 2023

2023 marked a year that if someone called, asked, or a life event happened, due to my leaving work in mid 2022 and barring terrible expense, I was able pick up and go where I was internally or externally called to be.

January was marked with the passing of my wonderful Auntie Greta. You might have read about her on the post:

I was able to go back to Ohio for her service and it was a very joy filled time. It was great to see everyone at the service – one thing about services, you really do get to see some of the family that you normally wouldn’t get time for with a normal visit and it is an intimate space to see and experience other people’s relationship with the deceased as they open up to what that person meant to them. We laughed, we cried, we ate great food that my talented cousin provided through her catering company. Most of the food was Greta’s favorites and it all was perfect and delicious. We also had time at my oldest brother’s home for some family time with the other side of the family with games, more food and more laughs.

Back in Colorado, I finished up the month with friends and a little jaunt to Breckenridge for the annual ice/snow sculpture competition. Teams from all over the world come in to carve out amazing designs, themes or just playful art in a week long endeavor and then the public gets to walk around and vote for their favorites. It was enjoyable, entertaining and prompted nice discussion of what we liked and why.

It’s a different feeling to view art that took a team of people so much planning and intense time in executing the plan, knowing full well that mother nature would be the one to decide how long their art would last beyond the memories and photos taken to commemorate. I think it takes brave souls to put that much into something so finite. I applaud them all.


2023: An Intimate Year

For Several years, at the beginning of a year, I would sit and quiet my mind and heart and allow a word to settle upon me that I would keep in my focus for the upcoming year. As an example, one year it was “curious”. So, as often as I could throughout each day of that year, I would remind myself to be curious. I tried to be curious about why something was the way it was, curious about my emotions, curious about art and curious about why something wasn’t working as I thought it should. Thinking back, that was a good year and it has served me well beyond that singular year – although I likely could benefit to going back to having that sticky note as a daily reminder.

I haven’t done the ‘word of the year’ for myself these past few years since Ted’s death, but I have been thinking about it again. Maybe after recollecting the events of 2023, I can sit down and once more allow a word to fall into my psyche that will direct and provide good stories for 2024. I can say that with 2023 in the rear view mirror, if I had to assign a word for last year, I would say the word for it would be ‘Intimate’. In the next several posts, I will attempt to put the answer to the question of why is that the word of choice.



Words and Wonders

I can hardly believe that I haven’t written a post since Auntie Greta passed. I can say it isn’t for a lack of stories or events, travels, crisis, or celebrations. I hope I will sit down and write some of them out, if not for sharing, at least for myself. It feels too daunting to go back right now and pen them all out, so I will start with a more recent one that is at least already partially written.

This is another Yellowstone National Park story.

This years trip included Beth, one of her daughters Syd and Syd’s 18 month old Rio. I was blessed to be there with three generations for sure, as each age group added a special layer to the entire experience. I am use to traveling with this quick witted bunch who can take any misstep – physical or spoken – and not let it pass without some really good poking fun at it (well, not Rio, but if his purposeful blinks he would send my way were accounted for, then he likely was getting in on the parody as well).

I get together with Beth and the girls fairly regularly and we discuss just about anything and everything . So for this trip, I had an inspiration that I should take a book of poems that we could randomly choose one per day and be part of our discussion(there is alot of car time in Yellowstone in getting from favorite spots to another). I was thinking some Mary Oliver since we were about to be immersed into the grandeur which is Yellowstone. I went to the library and as it was just a week from that location being closed for some renovations, there wasn’t a Mary Oliver book to be found. I went to the section that would normally house them and instead, selected a book of short quotes, poems and thoughts by a person named Atticus, The book was: The Truth About Magic.

Each day, someone would randomly pick a number between 1 and 247 and we would turn to that page and read the excerpt and give our thoughts. Sometimes it was a long discussion, sometimes a nod in agreement or it was a “nope, get another page” since it didn’t resonate with any of us (and why we were getting to a different selection, we would discuss why it fell short of our points of view).

As an example, our first selected page was:

If I’m honest,

very little in life

has compared

in immensity

or magnitude

before or since

to the electric

and wild feeling

of the first time

I kissed

a girl.

We all changed the last line to “a boy” and proceeded to agree that while we couldn’t agree with his statement, we have had those kisses that reached your entire being and were pretty great and so, with this selection, we got to hear about the different kissers in our lives.

With this, our week was set up with views of Buffalo, elk, wolves, grizzly bears (first time for me seeing wolves and Grizzly on multiple days), mountain sheep, coyotes, badger (oh, that’s a fun story), eagles and osprey, waterfalls, mountains, valleys, hot springs and the sharing of words from a book and the stories they brought forth from each of us.

One evening, we were headed to the Grand Prismatic. I had the idea last year to view the Grand Prismatic in the evening ,as we had only seen it first thing in the morning on years prior, and I always lamented that with the air so chilled in the morning and the pool always at it’s inherent intense heat, the steam kept me from seeing it with any clarity. We never made it last year, but we agreed to make it happen this year. On our journey there one evening we decided to drive up and check out to see if the swimming hole in Firehole Canyon would also be worth hitting in the evening (we didn’t have our suits with us to give it a try that day, but it was worth scoping it out),

As we headed up the canyon, there was a family or two swimming in the river at the bottom of the canyon. We wondered why they would swim there, when the actual swimming area was so much better, but “to each their own”, we said as we drove on by. When we got to the swimming area farther up the canyon, no one was there swimming! It was around 7pm and the air still quite warm, so we thought that we had hit the jackpot on selecting the best times and place. The road just past where we would normally pull off to park was coned off with large signs to not stop or park anywhere nearby. Turns out an Osprey family had made a nest and was raising their chicks and the park didn’t want them bothered. We totally got it and slowly passed by as we marveled at the osprey in the nest. We couldn’t wait to see them again the next night when we came to swim.

The next day, we began early so as to catch the wolf pack feeding the pups (more stories here, but trying not to make this an entire novel). We were back at camp for a dinner of spaghetti and sausages (yum) to which I had some wine to pair. We headed to the other side of the park from where we were staying and once again, there were people parked at the bottom of the canyon with suits on and heading toward the water.

It is about a 20 minute drive up through the canyon with the swim hole near the top. As we traveled the beautiful turns with the river rushing through the rocks, over cascades, with the water gushing to a tune that made us all feel like we were chosen for this moment, I looked at my still near full cup of wine and stated that once we got to the swim hole where we were sure to be the only ones once more, I would chug my wine and let the cool water be the great equalater. I knew as soon as this new word left my mouth that I was sure to be made fun of in short order. I literally started counting down from 5 in my head. I maybe got to 3 in the countdown before they both bellowed out the word once more and roared in laughter. I rebuked them as I too guffawed, for the many times in just that day alone that they had found so many instances to make fun of me. Sydney said that the beauty of it was that I was the eternal spring of words and events in which to find humor in. She then decided that we would all have to come up with a poem by dinner the next day with the title: “Eternal Spring”

As if the universe wanted to show us all that we are knuckleheads, we arrived at the swim hole only to finally see that it was boarded up and no one was allowed to go down to the area and swim. We weren’t the chosen ones after all and everyone was being denied use due to the close proximity of the Osprey nest. We laughed all the way back to camp at our stupidity and lack of awareness to anything but the beautiful osprey the day before.

The next day, we could each be found throughout parts of the day contemplating our poems due that evening. Beth claimed that she would do a Haiku. Sydney informed me that mine was not allowed to rhyme and after much thought, we decided that Syd’s had to incorporate the word “Equalater” in it since this was our new favorite non word.

I wrote one that felt as if I was combining some of last and this years emotions of the trip during a stretch where we were sitting on the porch of the Roosevelt Lodge and watching butterflies play in the flowers as Rio scampered on the deck in front of us.

Feeling that mine more somber than I thought we were all expecting, I wrote a second and called it my extra credit submission.

Here are the submissions as we shared them at dinner. Starting with my extra credit, I read:

Eternal Spring

Water rising through the ground

never ending

Where is the source? Do we care?

Pure and filtered by nature.

The river is dry, the pond grows stagnant

yet, like good friends,

it continues to give.

Then Beth read her Haiku:

Cackles, guffaws, chuffs

Like a geyser, laughs come like

an Eternal Spring

Following was Syd’s poem: Eternal Spring

Laughs, like water

From an eternal spring,

Begin in my belly

As we start to sing

Moving fast

Or moving slow

There is no stop

To the endless flow

Happiness abounds

No one is a hater

Everybody loves

The great equalater

We howled and voted Syd the winner.

Then I went ahead and read my original composition,

Eternal Spring:

My heart was heavy in the winter of grief

I journeyed to Yellowstone.

Buffalo carried on, rivers flowed,

water fell in trickles, cascades

and roaring over falls.

It was as if it couldn’t wait for the

next spot it might get to.

Natural reminders that life was bigger

than the burrow I had hidden in

and it waited for no one.

Friends and nature warmed my soul

and in that

I found my peace in the eternal spring

flowing from the magnificence

of lasting friendships, open land, wildness

of the animals and

a power within.

The next day was to be a limerick day about our time in the park, but I think I’ll leave that for another day as I’ve already exceeded the limit of what experts say will be read.

Love Sally

side note: If you do go to the Grand Prismatic near sunset, look at your shadow in the steam of the excelsior geyser right before you reach the prismatic. You will see a rainbow around your shadow and while you can’t always see rainbows around other peoples shadows, if you stand with other people, you will see your shadows move even when you are not. It is super cool. Oh, and you really need to head to the overlook to see the prismatic’s full colors as even in the evening, you just don’t get the full view that you see from the overlook.