We woke to 8-9 inches of snow this morning after a high of 58 degrees yesterday. I should be used to Colorado’s swiftly-changing weather patterns and yet was still surprised to see that beautiful white blanket outside. We’re in desperate need of moisture so it was with happy hearts that Wildebeest and I shoveled all that heavy snow (although he might define the experience differently).
Zippy and I just walked Emma through the slushy streets of our neighborhood.
It was a bit chilly in the shade but nice in the sun. And those dry patches of pavement were especially welcome. This low-quality photo taken with my phone doesn’t do justice to how good it felt to be outside in the sunshine, breathing clean, crisp air.
ETA: Zippy sent me these photos right after I’d posted.
Yesterday, Zippy told Wildebeest a story from when we lived in Alaska (before Wildebeest was born). It was a summer night, and Zippy and our dog Packy were out in our large yard where there was a pile of branches and grass clippings left by the previous owners. (We, being basically lazy people, had left it there with the rationale that it provided wildlife habitat). Zippy noticed something white in the branches, something he thought was a volleyball.
He proceeded to poke at the “volleyball” with a stick. (I know, I know. Who arms themselves with a stick when approaching a piece of sports equipment?)
Well, you can guess what happened. BEES!
Zippy yelled, “Run, Packy! Run!” The bees swarmed them as they ran to the safety of the house.*
As I listened to his story, a memory tickled my brain. And then I remembered: Have I Got a Story for You. Read it and weep (with laughter).
*Zippy wasn’t stung and as far as we know, no stingers penetrated Packy’s thick fur.
Zippy accepted my invitation to run on the trails with me this afternoon. It turned out, lots of people had the same idea so we ran our regular route in reverse to avoid the hiking couple we saw as soon as we got on the trail. I’m so glad we did because as we ran along the ravine, we were gifted a wildlife sighting.
Photo by Jim Kennedy. Metzger Farm Open Space, CO. January 19, 2019.
Four coyotes on the opposite slope. Two loped off to our left and the others sat next to the trail where we planned to run. We debated turning around so as to not further stress the remaining two and then decided it was a stress for them either way. So on we went, and the coyotes melted into the brush at our uphill, huffing approach.
I’d thought my coyote-sighting days were behind me as I’ve mostly seen them early in the mornings and I’m no longer an early-in-the-morning runner. But this here Monday played against type and started the week with a wonderful surprise. Definitely a good omen.
Cooper’s Hawk, July 4, 2019. Photo by Zippy.
Take time to exhale
then steel yourself for the fight
we’ve much work to do
I haven’t gone for a run in months, mostly due to the unhealthy air quality from our wildfire-filled summer and autumn. But we got snow on Sunday and Monday, and the air is better than it’s been in a loooong time, so I got Zippy to join me on a run.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
We look nothing like this couple. And our workout was nothing these two incredibly fit individuals would do, but that’s okay. We drove to another neighborhood that’s flat (ours is a constant up and down) and ran for 5 minutes then walked for 1 minute. Repeat. Our pace was slow, our muscles felt tight and heavy, but we were out on a beautiful blue-sky day. Moving. Breathing hard. Feeling (mostly) alive for a grand total of 3.45 miles. Woot!
Today I’m grateful for clean air and running once again!
We’re used to seeing Black-capped Chickadees around our yard. They visit the feeders and bath, and peck at the top of the fence. So Zippy and I were taken aback yesterday when watching birds at the peanut feeder. As a chickadee hopped around the branches, we both frowned and said at the same time, “Something’s off.”
We quickly realized that, instead of a black cap, this chickadee had a mask around its eyes. Wait, what?
Mountain Chickadee. October 26, 2020.
Ahem. The answer was easy. We were looking at a Mountain Chickadee which our guide book said was “thought to be one of the top ten most abundant birds in Colorado.” Yes, we’ve seen them before. But we’d gotten so used to the steady stream of black caps, that somehow the mask threw us. (I know, not very good birders.)
Ah, well. I’m happy to report both species of chickadee are sticking around to dine on peanuts.
August 15, 2020
What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on? ~ Henry David Thoreau
Zippy took this photo last month and while today’s air quality isn’t nearly so orange, I’m not spending any time outside. The local air quality index reads “Unhealthy for sensitive groups.” I’ll go out on a limb and say I think this translates to “the air is unhealthy for everyone and everything.”
Exceptionalism?! All over the United States, people are hiding indoors to escape the ravages of the climate crisis. And our elected officials don’t care, so it’ll only get worse.
Two days ago, a neighbor a couple houses up the street started flying one of those TR*MP Keep America Great flags. It made me ill. Yesterday, the house across the street from that flag-flying home displayed their own Keep America Great flag. Today? The house next to that second house is sporting a Tr*mp yard sign.
I can’t even.
Shall we begin with the fact that this country, built on genocide and slavery, was never great for a whole lot of people? Or the blatant transfer of money and power to the already rich and powerful? Maybe the rollback of environmental regulations and climate denialism? The deployment of Homeland Security to crack protestors’ heads and shoot them in the faces? Or maybe the 1,000 COVID-19 deaths per day? Etc., etc., etc.? Great, indeed.
My reaction to the neighbors? I wanted to fly an Antifa flag, but Zippy worried the ignorance surrounding that message would result in violence directed at us. So what was his preferred message? F*ck Tr*mp. While I approve that sentiment, this moment is much larger than that loathsome individual. Negotiation ensued.
I’m pleased to announce I found a message we’re both happy to display.
I also ordered an Earth flag to replace the one we displayed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Many people in our neighborhood fly U.S. flags and I doubt they’ll even see past all their red, white, and blue, but that’s okay. An earth flag will help me remember we’re all in this together.
ETA: Here’s something from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum:
Does any of this sound familiar?
Owl Creek Pass, Colorado. July 30, 2019
Twisting mountain roads
scenery great temptation
eyes on the road, yo
Bunny checking out the vinca. June 28, 2020.
There are many rabbits in our neighborhood this year. As I take my daily walk, I see them hopping across streets and lounging on lawns. They sit beneath parked vehicles and nap in shrubbery. On yesterday’s walk Zippy suddenly asked, “What do you think you’re doing?” and I was momentarily confused. I mean, wasn’t it clear? I was walking.
And then I realized my partner’s question was directed to a rabbit lying a couple feet away from us, smack dab in the middle of the street, ears tucked back, as if that somehow camouflaged it. Which I guess it did, seeing as I hadn’t even seen it. (I’ll add that Emma, our short-legged doggo who’s in a much better position to notice things on the ground, was equally clueless about the rabbit’s presence). That bunny was completely chill. Not at all concerned it might get trampled by two humans and a dog. Or run over by a car. Or eaten by a coyote from the nearby open space.
Actually, I’m starting to think maybe I should adopt that bunny’s attitude.
Whiskered Screech-Owl. Cave Creek Canyon. May 14, 2019
Eyes closed to the world
moment of calm solitude
a truly wise owl
Three years ago today, I arrived in Amsterdam. I was jetlagged and foggy in the head, but still remember the lift I got from the mounds of tulips blooming in a nearby park.
Amsterdam. April 28, 2017.
Such exuberant flowers, unruly in their passionate display. We should all live so boldly.
November 30, 2019
It might not look that way, but Marcel is very pleased that Zippy and I caucused today for the open Colorado senate seat. He was thrilled to find out that of the 8 people who showed up in our precinct, 6 of us were for Andrew Romanoff (and only two for the DCCC-annointed oil and gas man). Marcel was less excited to learn that caucus rules/math required a roll of the dice for the last “tied” delegate and that the roll went to the oil and gas man.
However, Marcel knows it’s a WIN when Romanoff gets 4 delegates to the county assembly and the other guy only got two. Marcel is a whiz with numbers.
Chiricahua Mountains. May 14, 2019.
Lush green at a tilt
folding us in an embrace
Seventeen years ago, I went to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for a three-week session with Marilynne Robinson which was an all-around wonderful experience. She dispensed much wisdom, mostly about reading and writing, but also about life. And this morning, as I looked at the lilies I received from Zippy five days ago, I thought about something Marilynne said during one of our workshops:
People after the age of 23 realize that they’re in the iron fist of gravity and will collect diminishing returns.
At that time, I was 40-years-old and only heard her message on an intellectual level. The thing was, I didn’t feel very far removed from 23 years of age; my returns weren’t yet greatly diminished. After all, every morning I got up and ran fast along the river!
Today I’m feeling more akin to these lilies that, after five days in a vase, broke from their stems in the main bouquet and fell to the countertop. These lilies whose petals are fading and wilting. Lilies in the iron fist of gravity and time.
Flowers still fierce and beautiful in their own way.
Three years ago today, Zippy accompanied me to a dog adoption event at a pet supply store. I had my heart set on a black dog named Rocko, a dog I’d scoped out on the web site. But when we arrived, Rocko was much bigger than his profile suggested.
Zippy, who wasn’t convinced we should even adopt another dog, said, “He’s too big. I’d prefer a dog more like . . .” he looked down at a dog being walked past us on a leash, “that one there.”
So I sent silent apologies to Rocko and followed Zippy to the event volunteers where he asked if we could take the little dog for a walk outside. Her crate said EMMA and the volunteer who’d just put her back inside after that other person’s “test run,” snapped the leash on Emma again.
February 11, 2020.
We went out with the little dog who had a looong torso and short legs, and allowed her to sniff and investigate the sidewalk and grassy areas of the strip mall. Emma seemed like a nice enough dog, but showed zero interest in us. Until we started back towards the store entrance. Then she stopped and looked up at us with big brown eyes.
Well, the rest is history.
Zippy and I knocked on doors for Bernie Sanders today. We started out together because he’d never canvassed before, but after one block, Zippy confidently headed out with his own list.
The day was a beautiful experience, in multiple ways. One, it was sunny and downright balmy (high 40s) which was a welcome reprieve after this week’s frigid temperatures and yesterday’s blizzard. Two, we started the day with about 50 enthusiastic volunteers, including a couple with a cute-cute-cute baby. Three, I had some really great conversations with voters I contacted. And four, it was gratifying to canvas for a candidate I truly believe in (as opposed to knocking doors for a lesser evil).
As I said in several of today’s conversations: I’m not naive enough to think our problems will be solved merely by electing Bernie Sanders. We have a lot of fights ahead of us if we’re going to turn this ship around. But the beauty of Bernie’s campaign is that he welcomes we-the-people in those fights. He knows he needs us and he embraces our participation because we will only win if we stand together to fight for the common good (which includes a Green New Deal and Medicare For All).
Bernie Sanders is the one candidate with an army of people ready and willing to take to the streets for equity and justice. Today, I was proud to be a Bernie Bro.
Marcel ruling the roost. January 25, 2020
Zippy and I just returned from a run on the trails with Emma, and as I sat in recovery mode (basically, waiting for my ears to thaw), I noticed the floor was in serious need of vacuuming. But on my way to retrieve the vacuum from the closet, I noticed Marcel’s regal bearing. So, I adroitly abandoned the vacuum for the camera. And now here I am at the laptop, posting on my site.
I’ll take a nice cat photo over clean floors, any day.
Yesterday at 5:45 pm I realized I hadn’t seen my indoor cat, Marcel, in hours. Zippy, Zebu, and I spent the next several hours in the cold and dark, calling to Marcel who goes silent when afraid. We eventually quit and went to bed to toss and turn, trying in vain to forget how cold it was outside. At 6:30 this morning, Zippy (again) checked the garage we’d left open four inches. This time, Marcel was curled up in the cat bed Zebu had put on top of the recyling bin. SO GRATEFUL.
Five minutes ago, I finished writing the first draft of my new middle-grade novel. It clocks in at 42,793 words and is a whole lot of talking heads and not a whole lot of description, which means it’s kinda skeletal. But I’d hoped to finish by the end of today and, despite my lack of sleep (see Above), I did it! Will I cringe when I read the draft in a couple weeks? Possibly. But there’s no revision without a first draft, baby. Again, I AM SO GRATEFUL.
Tomorrow morning Zippy, Zebu, Wildebeest’s childhood friend (Kyle C), and I are driving to Durango, CO, where Wildebeest lives. His graduation ceremony is on Friday and we’ll be there to witness that incredible milestone. Wildebeest was an avid student until he hit middle school and then had some bad “learning” experiences that completely turned him off school. His was an on-again-off-again college journey and he laments being such an “old graduate,” but I was also 26 when I graduated college (and look how well I turned out!) I’m proud of my tenacious son and GRATEFUL we’ll be there to witness his accomplishment.
This vibrant yellow plus the memory of that hike warm my soul.
Horse Gulch Trail, Durango CO. July 31, 2019
Take that, gray and windy December day!
Just took a 21-minute walk in the frigid cold, gingerly traversing the icy, rutted streets of our neighborhood. The two feet of snow we got earlier this week are gonna be around a while. Today, I’m thankful for the knowledge that this, too, shall
June 29, 2018
Blue skies and lily blooms are in my future.