I took this photo almost exactly one year ago, a fair representation of what the contoneaster in my yard looks like right now. So why didn’t I just step outside to get a current picture? Because it’s smoky. Still. And I don’t want my lungs burning. Again.
October 7, 2019
I can’t emphasize enough how damaging these months of Colorado wildfires (not to mention the fires raging throughout the western US) have been not only to the environment but to our collective health, both physical and psychological. Trapped indoors while the climate crisis worsens and those in power do absolutely nothing to avert worsening disaster. Colorado has a Democrat governor and Democratic-controlled House and Senate. But hey, Vote Blue No Matter Who.
Anyway, Happy Monday.
February 7, 2020
Colorado continues to burn and those of us living along the Front Range are being told to create “safe rooms” with air purifiers.
It was undoubtedly a stupid thing to do, but Zippy, Emma, and I walked early this morning. We’ve been trapped inside for days and couldn’t take it any more. I wore my mask and we walked at a leisurely pace. No heavy breathing as we went up and down the hills of our neighborhood. Partway through the walk, Zippy remarked on the thick air and put on his mask. Overall, we felt okay.
Just now, though, I stepped outside to get the mail. I was only out about thirty seconds, but as soon as I came inside the coughing started. I’m now closed off in my writing room with the purifier. The coughing has subsided but my lungs are burning.
Colorado had a Senate candidate (Andrew Romanoff) who centered his campaign on the climate crisis and a Green New Deal. He understood what’s at stake in this climate emergency. So how did the Democratic establishment respond? Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, and Colorado’s governor (Jared Polis) stepped in to crush Romanoff in the primary and prop up the oil and gas candidate (John Hickenlooper). Thanks to their interference, this November I’ll have the “opportunity” to vote for Hickenlooper (and Biden). Basically, a ballot filled with candidates who’ve made it clear they don’t much care about the people or the planet.
The most I can hope for at this point is that the wildfires are contained by the general election.
As is typical for me these days, I had to give myself a pep talk to get out of bed this morning. After making it to an upright position, the day turned into one thing after another. Small things that demanded my attention and action, but nothing of substance. I have zero sense of accomplishment or completion.
This entire hot, smoky Monday I’ve felt scattered, unfocused, and non-productive. Weepy, screamy, and anxious. Overheated, overwhelmed, and over it all.
I wish it would rain.
I spent the day in bed reading a Nero Wolfe/Archie Goodwin detective novel. A wise choice for my physical and mental health, I think. Why? The wildfires continue to rage in Colorado and when I checked my phone at one point today, the weather alert said “91 degrees. Smoky.”
So, it’s no shock that when I dipped into Pixabay just now in search of an image that resonated, I landed on this:
Tonight I shall dream of rain.
I live in Colorado. There are currently four wildfires burning around the state. Here’s a tweet from a Colorado journalist this morning:
I can usually see downtown Denver from my front yard. The last few days the buildings have been obscured by a smoky haze. Right now, I can see the tops of some buildings. But that “good news” is deceptive. I just spent about ten minutes outside, thinking it was okay because there wasn’t a strong odor of smoke. Wrong. I’m now coughing and my lungs are burning.
Just over a year ago, I participated in our Sunrise Movement hub’s first art build. We gathered to create a banner to pressure the Colorado Democratic Party to vote for a presidential debate focused solely on climate.
Our first art build on July 24, 2019. Boulder, CO
Our pressure worked and the representatives for the CO Dems voted YES to a climate debate. However, Tom Perez and the Democratic National Committee shut down our voices. There was no climate debate during the presidential primaries, despite the fact that the majority of people in the U.S. want meaningful action on the climate crisis.
Only two presidential candidates (Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren) included serious climate plans in their platforms. Bernie’s earned an A- from Sunrise Movement. The presidential candidate the establishment contorted themselves to install as the party nominee? Well, Joe Biden earned an F-.
My state’s experiencing a years-long drought and record-high temperatures and is literally on fire right now. Except for Rep. Joe Neguse, none of the Colorado congressional delegation supports a Green New Deal. The Democratic representatives all understand that climate change is real, but unless they push for bold and meaningful action, they are no better than the climate deniers in the Republican party.
Meanwhile, Colorado burns.
Owl Creek Pass, Colorado. July 30, 2019
Twisting mountain roads
scenery great temptation
eyes on the road, yo
We just got back from two days camping in the mountains. Yesterday we hiked about seven miles which is a long trek for a short-legged doggo. We gave Emma water throughout the hike and that definitely helped keep her going. But the best remedy was the snow we came across here and there. She rejoiced in this particular patch.
A cool pup is a happy pup.
It’s snowing right now. Two days ago it was 70 degrees. Why must Colorado weather be so erratic? Where’s my sunshine? My warmth? Where has spring gone to hide?
While I await its return, here are some springtime clematis blooms from several years ago.
Spring, please hurry on back!
Zippy and I just returned from a skate-skiing trip to the mountains. He’s currently soaking in an epsom salt bath to alleviate the aches and pains associated with two days of skate-skiing after YEARS away from the activity.
I’d like to write more about my skate-skiing experiences in Anchorage plus this most recent outing, but am too tired to tackle it today. I’ll just put a photo from this morning’s session right here as a placeholder.
If you look closely you can see moose prints in the groomed snow.
It was a glorious day at Snow Mountain Ranch.
As the election results came in on Tuesday night I was seized by a sudden urge to get away. So I went online and found a good deal for two nights at a lodge next to a river. The room has a woodburning stove and a table for my laptop and big monitor.
I’m leaving in about an hour to drive to Estes Park. The temperature is hovering around freezing and I’m looking forward to hunkering down in my tiny room. Just me, my NaNo project, and a crackling fire.
I’m very grateful I have the means to make this happen and plan to enjoy every moment of creative solitude.
So many people in my neighborhood have signs in support of candidates and policies that are destructive and greed-based. Candidates who want nothing more than to strip away our health care. Strip away protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Strip away health insurance coverage for young adults under their parents’ plans.
I tried explaining my family’s health care needs to a kind neighbor displaying a campaign sign for one such candidate, telling him it was hurtful to see that sign in his yard. He listened to what I had to say about my family’s medical needs and how that candidate’s policies would change our lives for the worst. He listened and then said he’d talk to A and D, two men in our neighborhood. Well, apparently my female opinion wasn’t enough in the face of men’s opinions because my neighbor still has the sign for the candidate backed by the Koch Brothers in his yard.
Then there are the many anti-Proposition 112 signs in the neighborhood. All of them saying it’s more important to save a few oil and gas jobs in Colorado rather than protect the health and safety of its citizens. Every time I see one of those signs I wish I could put a drilling rig/fracking site on their front lawn. It’s so easy to vote against public health and safety when you’re not at risk. There is zero chance we’ll ever have oil and gas operations in our neighborhood, so fuck everyone else around the state, right? Not to mention how insane it is to ignore the fact that the planet is on a crash course to extinction due to fossil fuels.
I apologize for venting here. I just wish my neighborhood was filled with people trying to behave less like ignorant greedheads and more like Mister Rogers. I’m gonna go back to my fictional neighborhood now . . .
I’m afraid of heights and frequently have dreams in which I’m waaay too far from the ground. My fear is a known quantity in my household. So when I announced before leaving for Crested Butte a couple weeks ago that I was going to ride the ski-lift, Zebu’s response was a skeptical/worried “Really?”
Then I arrived and watched the lift from our rental balcony. My heart picked up the pace and my chest got tight. Zippy suggested we check it out and then I could decide, assuring me it was okay to back out. We walked to the lift-line filled with people in helmets, body armor, and mountain bikes. Turns out Wednesday evenings allow unlimited lifts up the mountain for bikers wanting to ride the trails to the bottom. I was in line next to little girls not only brave enough to ride the chair lift but to bomb down the mountain on bikes! Those two young sisters listened politely as their dad reassured this grown-ass woman I’d be fine on the lift.
And I was.
On the ride down the mountain (which was much easier and more relaxing for me, to the extent I released my death grips on the lap bar and Zippy’s shirt), we passed the biker girls and their dad riding up the mountain again. We all waved and one of the girls shouted, “Enjoy your ride!”
Thanks in no small part to their example. Girl power!
while hiking ten miles of trail
Popping online quickly to express my gratitude for the natural world. Today’s image is the Elk Range as seen from Crested Butte, Colorado.
It’s a spectacular planet, wouldn’t you say?
Yesterday it snowed
my toes saw nothing but fleece
Today the sun’s mine
Yesterday was cold, gray, and icy here in the Rocky Mountain foothills. Today was sunny and warm enough to run in shorts. The last few days have been emotionally draining for a variety of reasons, and I felt that fatigue and heaviness as I ran.
However, each step felt like a gift, my cadence matching my internal chant:
I am strong and getting stronger. I am strong and getting stronger. I AM STRONG AND GETTING STRONGER.
Sing it, believe it. Live it.
Yesterday was a beautiful autumn day, sunny and in the low 60s. Zippy and I spent the afternoon working in the yard, trying to catch up on our much-neglected gardens that have run amok. The sun shone through the leaves and I paused in my work to capture this vibrant image:
I made a conscious effort to fully experience the colors and balmy temperatures, because there was a huge weather shift on the way. This morning we woke to about 4 inches of snow on the deck railing (currently 8 inches or so).
Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny with a high of 51 degrees. Welcome to Colorado.
This is Zippy’s indoor weather station. As you can see, it’s sunny and 65 degrees outside. Granted, the outdoor thermometer is in direct sunlight right now so it’s really only 65 degrees against the bricks on the south side of the house. But still. Sixty-five degrees in January!
I’m going out for a run around the neighborhood and am looking forward to cruising past the snow piles lingering from last weekend’s storm.
Gotta love Colorado and its split-weather-personality.
I photographed these delicious organically grown peaches on the day that Zippy bought them at the farmers’ market way back in July, when the sun was still high in the sky and the days were long.
This morning I didn’t want to get out of bed because the house was cold. And even after doing my routine of exercise-yoga-hooping, I’m still chilly. My hands and feet are cold, and so is the tip of my nose.
Autumn is a truly beautiful season and I know it’s not yet winter, but today I’m feeling the cold and chill of what’s to come, and missing peach season.
My nine-year-old daffodils survived all this:
They are bowed, but not broken:
Hooray for resiliency! Hooray for prevailing! Hooray for Laurie Halse Anderson and her freakishly-tough bulbs!
In the fall of 2006, I was a mentee at the Rutgers One-On-One Conference where Laurie Halse Anderson was the keynote speaker. In addition to offering smart and funny insights into her writing journey, she offered us daffodil bulbs. True story.
Last Friday, I took this photo of my LHA flowers that keep on blooming, year after year:
The next day, it started snowing. And over the next twenty-four hours, more than two feet of snow fell on those daffodils.
Me several feet away from the buried daffodils.
If I’d been thinking, I would’ve covered the flowers with a bucket to protect them from the elements. Alas, I didn’t think that far ahead. So now they’re beneath the rapidly melting snow where they may or may not recover from the shock of an April blizzard in Colorado.
I share a kinship with those flowers that goes beyond them symbolizing my connection to the children’s writing community. The daffodils and I have been on a nine-year journey together. Every year they push through the soil to face whatever comes their way, not knowing whether they’ll be greeted with sunshine or flurries. And every year I continue writing my stories, not knowing whether they’ll be greeted with warmth or snowy rejection.
It’s a risky business for those flowers and me, but we keep on doing what we need to do. And year after year, we prevail.