For My Father

William Morrell French

April 11, 1916 - March 25, 2002

 just might be my favorite smell
because it is the smell I most associate with my

Hardware stores, 
wondrous places 
with lumber stacked to the ceiling,
two by fours on shelves,
saws, table and hand,
knotty pine,
painter's hat and brushes,
remind me of you, Daddy.  

How I loved when he would call out and ask 
if I wanted to go to the hardware store.
I think he liked that I loved those hardware stores so much.
I'd say,
"I love hardware stores."

Daddy, you took us camping in the Colorado mountains.

Coleman lanterns,
Coleman stoves,
percolators that made coffee over an open campfire,
camp cook kits made of aluminum,
were packed up and put in the back of the old station wagon
as we headed out to find our favorite "green spot."

After sunset,
 pine trees, 
looming larger than they seemed during the day, 
became a backdrop for a scene where family and friends gathered around a campfire,
 with cigarettes flickering around the edges of the fire,
grey smoke spiraling in the dark sky,
to listen to and to tell stories.
Oh, how we laughed.
You, Daddy, were the Chief Storyteller.
I loved your stories,
You were the best storyteller ever.
Oh, how I miss you and your stories.

Snuggled in smelly green World War II era mummy bag sleeping bags,
scratchy green Army blankets spread over and under me as I slept on the ground,
staring at the stars,
thinking of those stories,
and pondering the vastness of the world, 
the universe, 
and what lay beyond,
sounds of the stream finally lulled me to sleep
in those magical days of childhood when my father took us camping.

Songs, we sang songs.
Daddy would start out with,
and he would drag that "O" out forever.
I had a little pony,
His name was Dapple Grey,
I lent him to a lady to ride a mile away,

She whipped, she slashed him,
She rode him through the mire;
I would not lend my pony,
For all the lady's hire.

I never hear that song these days,
but if I did, I'd think of my dad.

Homemade rootbeer bottled in empty Coors beer bottles was my favorite summer treat.
I loved it when Daddy made homemade root beer.

Games, we played games at the dinner table.
We were not allowed to read at the table, but we played games.
I spy...
"Is it vegetable, mineral, or animal?"
We were allowed to ask those questions when you had us stumped.
Actually, he stumped us a lot.
Little did we know that he used that game to teach us deductive reasoning.

My father and I on graduation day.
B.S in Business Administration 

Books, we read books.
My father always had a book in his hand if he wasn't building something,
or fishing,
or working on the house or the yard.
In his younger years, he worked hard at the railroad and on the house and the yard,
so to went to bed early to read.
In later years, he read large print books from the lending library of books for the blind in Denver.

It was expected that we would be readers.
T.V., or the "boob tube" as he called it, was not in our home until I was a teenager.
I still don't like to watch T.V.
I read.

He taught me to believe in myself,
to stand up for myself,
to think for myself and not blindly follow others.
He spoke truth to me when I didn't do those things.

My father had a temper.
He never liked any of the boys I brought home.
He chased most of them away.

He liked things neat and orderly and insisted on square corners on the bed.
We made sure the kitchen table and surfaces in the kitchen were not sticky.
He hated a sticky surface.
Every table setting better include a salad bowl or salad plate for the salad and bread.
Oh, and there had to be a knife, a fork, and a spoon in place for each meal.

He was demanding.
He was as gruff as a bear on the outside,
but I've known fewer as 
kind and generous as he was on the inside.
He gave to those in need,
and even when you weren't in need, but he seemed to sense you needed a little gift,
or some gas money,
he opened up his wallet and he gave.
He was so giving.
That was one of his best traits.

He wrote.
He wrote family histories and collected family genealogies.
He carried on a correspondence with his parents,
his children,
his cousins,
his siblings,
his relatives that were connected generations back.
I even found letters he wrote to his grandparents, signed,
"Love, Billie,"
in his papers.
I have a large file of the letters he wrote to me.
He was a great writer, communicator, and keeper of the family histories.

In his later years, he became a born-again Christian.
The transformation that Christ made in his life was dramatic.
His faith was strong to the end.

During his last days, I was by his side with my sisters.
I'm so grateful for those days when I was able to witness the 
firmness of his faith
 while trying in some small way to give what little 
rudimentary comfort
 I could to his physical body in its final decline.

In my journal on March 23, 2002, just two days before he died, I wrote,

It is good to be here with him.  Yesterday, he told me over and over again, "You're a good girl." He would say, "Sally Lulu, you're a good girl."  I would say, "You're a good Daddy."  

He was that.
He was the best Daddy ever.
He was my Daddy.
And, I was his Sally Lou.
I remember when he died, I was filled with absolute certainty that 
he loved me,
that he was proud of me,
and that was enough for both of us.

March in My Neck of The Woods

you and Mother Nature need to talk.
According to the calendar, winter is over.
Spring is here.

I always have such great expectations when you arrive.
My head begins to dream of  
flowers blooming,
sun shining,
and trees budding.
My soul longs for green grass and colorful landscapes.

you are typically the snowiest month in Colorado.
Do you think you and Mother Nature could talk and change that statistic?

when you arrive, I know your track record.
 You always seem to bend those optimistic looking daffodils over until they touch the earth from which they so recently have sprung when you cover them with your thick covers of heavy wet snow.
Soon their jaunty heads will defy the snow you bring.
They are hearty and resilient flowers.
They must be to deal with you,

I know you and your ways.
I've learned to adapt to your capricious ways.
When I was just a child, my grandfather told me all about you.
He'd say, "If you don't like the weather in Colorado in the spring,
stick around for five minutes and it will change.

even though I know how you are,
I fall for your ways on those days when you bring us sunshine.
Your whimsical nature
makes me dream of sunny, warm days filled with flowers, and birds, and shady trees.

I imagine warm spring and summer evenings on the new patio I just had built
for those warm days to come.

On those days filled with your whimsy,
I forget how temperamental you can be.
The very next day,
you bring snow, and wind, and blizzards that keep me indoors and shut down traffic.
Deer looking for food on March 26, 2016.
They are trying to eat pine needles on the tree they are under.
In my memory, I hear my grandfather singing, "When it's springtime in the Rockies,"
whenever it snows.

March, I know all about you.

you can be so volatile.

your days are coming to an end for this year.
I am so looking forward to


March has been as capricious as ever this year.

Easter plans were nearly ruined by the heavy snow that fell the two days before Easter.  Jim had to work on the day before Easter, and it snowed and snowed and snowed.  I had purchased food to cook for Easter dinner.  The weather changed all our plans for having family with us for our Easter celebration.  

That didn't stop me from cooking.  It was snowing.  The house was empty.  I had nothing else to do, so I cooked.  I made homemade rolls, a large bowl of potato salad, and frog eye salad.  As I cooked, I talked to my dear friend Linda on the phone.  She also was cooking for family.  Her family also had to change their plans.  I said, "Linda, come on over here for Easter dinner.  Let's put our food together and celebrate Easter together."  She said she'd made a cake.  I didn't have any dessert made yet.  I had a ham.  I told her not to cook her turkey.  She had cheese bread she'd made.  She also made a green salad.

After Easter church services, Linda and her husband Greg came over and celebrated with us.  It was good to have the time with the dearest of friends.  The sun was shining, the snow was melting, and we celebrated the renewal of spring that we would surely see in days to come.

I remembered to take a photo of Jim and Greg after dinner, but since I didn't take one of Linda and me, I am including a photo taken of us a few years back on Easter Sunday.

The last few days we have been able to get out and walk when it isn't snowing.
The dark skies over the mountains confirm weather predictions.
Snow is on it's way.
We live in a valley at the feet of the foothills.

As we walk up the steep incline that is just a few blocks from our house,
we can get just a peek of the peak that is Pikes Peak.
Storm clouds are gathering.

We live in the city, but sometime's you'd never know it.
We get the best of both worlds where we live:  close to the city and close to the mountains.

That means we also get the snow that others just a few hundred feet lower,
and just a few miles away,
don't get.

It is snowing again tonight.
The prediction is that it will be colder and there will be more snow and wind tomorrow.
March is not going out like a lamb.

I will have cataract surgery tomorrow.
I predict I will be spending the day after surgery wrapped up in blanket and enjoying the beauty of the snowy world around me.

Celebrating Colorado

Colorado turned 139 years old this past Saturday.
We decided to celebrate both the birthday and the State of Colorado by visiting one of her treasures:
Red Rock Canyon Open Space.

I'd never been to Red Rock Canyon Open Space before.
In fact, as a third generation Coloradan, born and raised in the City of Colorado Springs, I am ashamed to say I'd never even heard of Red Rock Canyon Open Space until a few years ago.
I grew up spending many happy days throughout my childhood exploring Garden of the Gods.
I couldn't even tell you how many times in my lifetime I have driven past the 787 acres that comprise this spectacular treasure tucked unnoticed in the canyon along side of Highway 24.
How did I miss it?
How did I not know it was there?

The short answer is that until the early 2000's it was owned for over eighty years by a private family.
It was not on public lands.
It was private and inaccessible.
The story of how the City of Colorado Springs acquired this area will not be recounted here in this post, but I have provided a link for those of you whom might be interested in reading about about it.

I wish my uncles were alive.
No doubt in their days of exploration of the Colorado Springs area during the 1920's and 1930's, I have every reason to speculate that they visited this place while looking for arrowheads and places to climb and explore.
They knew about such secret places.
They had explored them.
I doubt that rumors of a man with a gun protecting the place would have kept them out.
I just wish I could ask them about it.

This area, known as the "secret Garden of the Gods," is truly, as the article I linked for you says, 
a geological wonder.

If you have been to the Garden of the Gods, you have seen similar outcroppings of red sandstone rock as you will see in this open space.
In fact, both areas are one whole geographic ecosystem.
Only in modern times have they been viewed as separate systems.

I am not a geologist, though I wish I had studied more of this field, but the rock formations in my hometown have always fascinated me.  

Having never been to Red Rock Canyon Open Space,
Jim and I did not know what to expect when we set out for our adventure.
We tried to explore the area last summer when son Jonathan and grandson Atticus were here.
We only got a photo to commemorate the start of the hike when the rains came.

This year, we again took a few photos to commemorate the day and
hoped rain would not end our hike.
(Typical blogger activity: take photos for the blog at the start of any adventure.)

The smile is a real one.
Feeling well and energetic,
I was so excited to finally get out and do a hike with my man and my dog.
There is no better way to celebrate Colorado Day than by taking in her beauty 
with the ones you love.

Our first task was to choose a trail to explore.
We started down the path.
The day was warm, but the clouds were not threatening a storm.  
They provided a welcomed cloud cover from the sun.

I love that blue Colorado sky.
I love those red rocks.
Yes, Colorado is colorful.
Colorado means:  colored red.
Now you know how Colorado got her name.

Enjoy photos from our walk.

I believe this peaceful looking lake is not without its controversy.
It was built by the previous owners of the area to catch and store rain water.
That is against the law in the State of Colorado.
Colorado Water Laws are very strict.
Retaining pools are illegal.
Pools like these have been dry during periods of drought.
Spring rains caused them to flood and damage the surrounding trails.
On this day, the pool was beautiful and serene.
You can read about the damage and the water controversy here if you are interested.

Look, the sky is changing.
That is a part of celebrating Colorado.
Her weather is quite unpredictable.

I honestly don't know what this monument is commemorating.
I failed to record it in my notes.
I was more interested in getting a photo of the Peak (Pikes Peak).
It is the distant mountain in the center of the photo.

This past spring many of the hiking trails in Red Rock Canyon Open Space were washed out by spring rains.

This waterlogged field, covered in natural grasses,  was quite marshy and wet.

Look closer.
Can you see the dragonfly?
(It's barely visible in the center of the photo.)

Dragonflies, symbols of change
a change in perspective and self-realization,
have been showing themselves to me on several long walks Jim and I have taken this summer.
They have become an important symbol of what I have been experiencing this year.

This self realization has at its source the type of change that comes from
and from the 
of the deeper meaning of life.  

Dragonflies have become my symbol of the entry into my seventies.
I am seventy.
I am learning to embrace the changes in my life and in my perspective of life.
I am reminded how important this time of life is when I encounter unexpected sightings of the dragonfly.

They are so magical.
Their iridescence
 reminds me that it is good to end
one's self-centered illusions.
It is time to have
a clear vision of the realities of life.*

Live in the moment.
Live life to fullest in that moment.

   Few things are more healing to the mind and the soul than walking through areas where one can observe and reflect upon nature.

I recognize and acknowledge the awesome power that created this geological specimen.

Since my earliest days I have marveled at the trees that seem to grow out of rocks.
It is a reminder that while the soil may seem unfriendly,
it may appear as if nothing will grow in such circumstances,
there are examples all through nature that show us
that environment is not the only predictor of growth or of survival.
Life springs forth under the worst of circumstances.
I love the lessons of nature.

you give us much to celebrate.
I love this place, the place of my birth.
I'm so grateful to have this beauty just a few short miles from my home.

The hike ends with a reflection.

We have found a new place to explore and enjoy.
We will be back.

Jim and Boston posed for one final photo,

while I counted these two among the blessings of my day.

* Reflection on the dragonfly were recorded in my journal earlier this summer.  I don't know where I found these definitions to the meaning of the dragonfly.  No doubt they were found on some internet search.  I did not cite the reference before I wrote these line in my journal.

Springtime in the Rockies

When I think of spring in Colorado, I think of nouns like
or adjectives like
unpredictable, capricious, and fickle.

I consider myself an authentic Colorado mountain girl.
I was born at the foot of Pikes Peak,
and graduated from high school at the foot of Mount Massive.
I know I should not be surprised if it snows in April, or in May, or even in June.
I've seen it snow on the Fourth of July in the mountains.

Today, I live at 6,659 feet above sea level.
The air in the morning is a bit nippy and brings back memories of spring days in the mountains when I was a young girl and living at 10, 152 feet above sea level.
I wish I had words to describe how that cool breeze coming down my valley from the mountain feels.
All I can tell you is that it whispers to me that it is 
springtime in the Rockies.
That is code for:  Expect anything from cold, to rain, to sunshine, to hail, to snow all in one day, or even all in one hour.

I have never planted annuals before Mother's Day.
In fact, I usually don't plant  much of anything until we are at least half way through May.
Several weeks ago, my daughter asked me what to do about aphids on her rose bush.
She sent me a photo of the plant.
She lives in Utah.
She'd already trimmed the rose back and it had a few buds.
I never cut back my roses in Colorado until mid May.


Gardens are a form of autobiography. ~ Sydney Edison

When I lived in Pueblo, Colorado at 4,692 feet, I planted sooner than I do where I now live.
To be honest with you, I wasn't even sure I would plant anything this year.  
The deer, the rabbits, and the climate have caused me to
rethink everything I ever knew about gardening.
If card carrying members of the Colorado Master Gardeners came by my house right now,
they'd make me turn in my certificate that says I am a master gardener.
Let's just say that gardening where I now live is a big challenge for me.
Venturing out into the yard last week, when we finally had a break in the rain, I went looking to see how the perennials I had planted last year were doing.
I could see that my neighbor's peonies were up several inches as I looked out my window, so I was anxious to see what mine were doing.
I'm always so excited when I see peonies peeking out of the ground in early spring.
The peony I planted last year did not come up.

The poppies have not come up.
The larkspur did not come up. 
I don't even have blue flax coming back.
It looks like the hyssop didn't make it either,
nor did the lavender plants.
I tried just planting a few things last year as I get to know my new gardening space.

The deer had eaten huge chunks out of the dwarf Alberta spruce I'd planted.
It is all so disheartening.

At least the clematis was coming back to life and growing like crazy.
Also, I was thrilled to see that some of the lily of the valley I transplanted from my mother's yard last spring are coming up.
The original beginning lily of the valley plants that I dug from my mother's yard had come from my grandmother's yard in Colorado Springs over forty years ago.
As I dug up the plants,
transported them over 300 miles,
and planted them again,
I felt like I was bringing those much love plants home and reestablishing my roots in my hometown.
Lily of the valley bouquet for my mom.
Flowers from her yard.
May 2014
Thank goodness those plants at least made it.

Even with all the vicissitudes of spring weather,
and with my feelings of defeat when it comes to establishing a new garden in what sometimes feels like a hostile  gardening environment,
spring conjures up dreams of gardens yet to be.
On the first day that I felt like driving and being out and about after my recent pacemaker implant,
I headed off to the garden shop.
It is spring.
I had to dig in the dirt.

I'm going to try again this year to get something established around here that looks somewhat like
a semblance of a thought and care went into the landscaping around my home.

I loaded up potting mix for planters even though I don't particularly like to plant in planters.
At least the hanging baskets and such can't be reached by the deer and rabbits.
I then bought some feather meal.
They say that is good for discouraging the deer from nibbling while also giving plants some nitrogen.
I couldn't find Deer Scram that Kathy at Kathy's Peace told me to buy,
so I bought the highly recommended Bobbex Deer Repellent.
By the time, I had some garden soil, fertilizers, and deer repellent, I had already just about broken the bank when it comes to my "flower money."
It is still early, so I didn't want to plant much yet, but I did get some creeping phlox and candy tuft to plant along the stone wall next to the house.
I also bought some peony bulbs.
I haven't given up on those yet.
Everyone else around me is growing peonies, and the deer leave them alone.

As I head into spring, I will be writing a new chapter in my gardening biography.
Let's hope it is not a short chapter full of disappointment and discouragement.

A Spring in My Step

I feeling so much better now that I am a bit over three weeks out from getting a pacemaker.
Today, I did my first exercise class.
I went to a Zumba Gold class.
It was so much fun!
I'm still not allowed to wave my left arm in the air over my head, but I was moving my feet as fast as I could while I tried to do the steps.
My heart behaved and my recovery after the exercise was excellent.
I felt great.
The goal of Zumba Gold is to build cardiovascular fitness, coordination, flexibility, and balance.
I need all of that!
My hips and thighs told me I had not exercised recently,
but my mind told me it is good to have fun moving to the music.
Have you ever tried Zumba?
Do you enjoy it?

What do you do for exercise?
I love to walk.
I also like group exercise better than working out on machines.
I like to do Pilates and really enjoy doing Pilates on the reformer.
Have you ever done Pilates?
I've done it for years.
You'd think I'd be better at it by now.
I'm not much of a yoga fan, but I do enjoy restorative yoga.
I hope to go to that class tomorrow.
I can hardly wait until I'm released to get in the pool again.
In three more weeks I can get in the pool.
I love to do water Pilates.
Have you ever tried that?
It is really fun.
At my exercise club, they even have water Zumba.
I think I'll try that soon.


As I write, the rain is steadily hitting my roof overhead.
We are supposed to have rain for the next few days.
That is ok.
In Colorado, we are also prone to drought.
I am thankful for the rain.
Soon, I hope to be out there digging in the dirt again and starting another year of learning how to deal with new environmental challenges in the place that I now call home.

A Saturday in Winter


The sky is blue.
The snow is melting.
The paper whites are fading.
Is is over?

you confuse me at times.
The view from my window says come outside and play in the sun.
Are brumal days and nights over?

Is Mama Bear being tempted on this fine Saturday morning to emerge from her hibernaculum?
Her secret winter home,
 dug within the hillside
covered with majestic Ponderosa pines
that I see outside my window,
may also be heating up in this weather.

Will she be out today?

Or will she, 
like I,
prefer to stay tucked inside a cozy den 
where one does not have to deal with the vicissitudes of weather and life?

* Inspiration for this bit of prose comes from:
  • A post on Facebook by Patricia Polocco where she said, "Make today count...not in a "get more work done" way....but use this day to heal your mind from all the garbage you have dealt with all week, that can't be helped."
  • A challenge by to write a poem about surviving winter.
  •  This site listed some great words about winter. I don't generally use the words hibernaculum or brumal, but aren't they wonderful words?
  • The view from the windows in my upstairs study/guest room.

Sunday in Bronco Country

All the really cool kids are at the game in New Jersey.  We will be spending the day here at home watching the game.  The sky is a blue, blue, blue.  It is amazingly beautiful outside to see snow topped trees and houses glimmering with diamond dust snow that sparkles all the more in the brilliant sunshine.  The contrast of white snow against the blue sky nearly takes my breath away.  Of course, in Bronco country, we are all hoping that the sky will be a blazing orange tonight.  As some would say, "Who says God isn't a Bronco fan?"  The photo below is one making its rounds on FaceBook today.  I love seeing the majesty of America's mountain, my very own Pikes Peak, surrounded by such a beautiful sunset.

A few loved ones are the lucky ones who were actually able to go to the game in person.  My very own son-in-law, married to my husband's daughter, is living the dream of every young man's life this week:  He is with the team, yes the team itself, rubbing shoulders with Manning and Elway and all the rest, as they have been preparing for the big game.  Here he is with Coach John Fox and Pat Bowlen, majority owner and CEO of the Broncos.  

While attending the Super Bowl is a brand new experience for Nathan, rubbing shoulders with the players is not.  He has the dream second job of working as a referee for Bronco weekday practices.  He not only rubs shoulders with Broncos players, he throws the ball to Manning himself, and he makes the calls during practice.  Last year, well we shouldn't speak of last year, he thought he'd make the trip with team.  This year he did make the trip that will hold a lifetime of memories for him.  He will be sitting in the stands cheering the team on.  I can't even imagine how excited he must be.  I am so happy for you Nathan.  He deserves this great opportunity.  

Nathan flew out last Sunday on this all expense paid trip east wearing his very best suit which was the required dress code for the trip.  He was feted with the best array of food that anyone could think of on the flight itself.  You have to keep those men fed.  While in New York, athan takes his breakfast and lunch with the team.  Each week, he actually eats dinner prepared by the team chefs after every practice.  

Others are there too.  My former son-in-law is there with his entire family of father, step-mother, and all of his siblings.  Julie's boyfriend Jason is there.  Like I said, all the really cool kids are there.

I'm here writing an blog post before I go in to fix us some sloppy Joe's to eat during the game.  I'm dressed in my Bronco shirt, and have on my lucky blue earrings made by my friend Judy. I even put on more blue eyeshadow than usual today.   I decided to take a selfie on my computer to post here.  Note that the glasses had to go on so I could see what I was doing.

Before I can cook, I must run to the store for a few things.  I'll put on my orange coat before I go.

GO BRONCOS!  We are all back home under a clear blue sky cheering you on.  

Our Getaway - Part Two

Just as June was ending, my husband and I had a getaway prior to his back surgery.  I wrote about part of that getaway in "Our Getaway - Part One." (Click to read that posting.)  Now, as we are beginning August, this posting I am finally writing is old news, but I did want to share with you some of the places where we traveled on our getaway.

Just looking at the photos I took has actually caused me to long for another getaway.  In the meantime, I will take some refreshment and joy by remembering the beauty we saw as we traveled to some beautiful parts of Colorado.

The Fourth of July is never my favorite time to be on the road.  In fact, I prefer to stay home that weekend or get to my destination before the holiday begins.  Unfortunately, this year, our decision to take a small road trip during the holiday was a last minute decision I insisted on before we faced my husband's surgery.

Thankfully, we found great accommodations in Glenwood Springs despite it being a holiday weekend.  We did not plan on spending time in the pool during the heat of the day on the Fourth of July, and we didn't want to go in and out of tourist shops in town.  Jim wanted to go over to a small town near Glenwood Springs called Carbondale, Colorado because he found that was where the nearest dog park was located.  It had been a long time since I had been to Carbondale, so I was up for the 13 mile drive to find a dog park.

We had even thought of driving on into Aspen for the day.  Aspen is only about an hour from Glenwood and just about an additional 30 miles from Carbondale.  While the prospects of going to Aspen for the day were intriguing, I didn't really want to be limited to where we could go while we were there because we had the dog with us.  So, as we drove towards Carbondale, I pulled out the map and suggested we go to Marble, Colorado.  Jim immediately and incredulously responded with, "No, are you kidding?"  You see there is a story behind this response.  One that will take another blog post.  It involves a wild ride I once wanted to take him on over Schofield Pass.  Google Schofield Pass images for a reason why he did not want to go to Marble with me.  I guess he doesn't trust me.  I assured him that I had a different route to Marble in mind for this trip, so he agreed to take my word for it that he would like my plan.

I'd forgotten how beautiful the drive between Glenwood and Carbondale was.  As Mt. Sopris came into view, I asked him to pull over so I could photograph this beautiful mountain.  As you can see, my selection of spots in which to take a photo was not the best, note the telephone wires, but you get the idea of how beautiful the area is.

As we pulled into Carbondale, we headed towards the dog park.  Boston was ready for a nice run and a refreshing drink of water.  

While Boston romped and ran, I walked down towards the entrance to the park to a community garden that had caught my eye on my way into the dog park. I loved the sign that the gardeners had created.

Can you imagine the joy that gardeners in this spot enjoy?  What a view!  The neighborhood around the garden and the dog park was lush with beautiful yards and flowers because of ditch water that ran through the area.  

After Boston was duly exercised and watered, we took CO 133-S to Redstone, Colorado.    

Once we got into town, which is more like a village than a town, we wished we'd planned our trip better.  (This is the story of our lives!)  Our timing was slightly off.  We headed down Main Street just after the Fourth of July Parade ended.  In fact, some folks might have thought we were part of the parade!  This town would be the perfect place to watch the perfect small town America Fourth of July Parade.  Every tricycle, wagon, child, and dog seemed to be decked out in red, white, and blue.  The town is tiny, so the street is closely bordered by mining era houses that are decorated for the holiday.  Being a mountain town, the flowers were stunning in their profusion and rich hues.  I just could not bring myself to stick my head out of the window of the car to take photos.  Trust me; it was a magical, patriotic place on this day.

We were starving, so we found a place to eat that was dog friendly.

We will return to Redstone, and next time we will plan our trip better.  We hope to catch a tour of the castle there and even perhaps spend the night at the Redstone Inn.  Both of these things have been on 
my bucket list for quite some time.

Just outside of town, one find the interesting and historical coke ovens that were built by the Colorado Fuel and Iron and the coal "coked" by these ovens was transferred by the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.  Both the CF&I and the D&RGRR figure largely in my personal family history, so I am always fascinated by the history of such places as the coke ovens near Redstone.

After taking a short time to photograph the coke ovens, we needed to go to a place I had been longing to re-visit for a long time:  Marble, Colorado.

I had not been to Marble since my girlhood days.  I don't even remember when I last went there on one of my father's fascinating road trips through Colorado.  If only I had a recorded oral history of his voice as he told us about these places in Colorado.  He had such knowledge of these places, and he told the story of each place in such an interesting way.  I used to love these trips with him.  Now, all those stories are lost somewhere in the recesses of my memory, but I remembered the town, and thankfully, it had not really changed.  It is still a place off the beaten path that is somewhat undiscovered.  It is hard to read the sign, but it states that the population is 85 and the elevation is over 7,000 feet.

Just as I remembered, marble is everywhere.  It almost litters the ground, if marble could litter.  

Naturally, many sculptors live in this area.
 This is a rock solid mail box holder!

The sizes and shapes of the white marble against the blue of the mountains and the green of trees and grasses is a delight to the eye.

As we drove through town, it was hard to believe that in the rest of America crowds where thronging and celebrating.  This was the view that welcomed us as we drove toward a small church in the town.

Here is the perfect setting for a small family wedding the mountains, or for a peaceful Sunday morning service.

We parked the car near the church, and I wandered to side yard.  I found this beautiful sculpture next to the church.
 I could not help but lift my eyes towards the heavens and think of my darling daughter Julie as I sat in this peaceful place surrounded by beauty and peace.  I thought of her in the presence of real angels and rejoiced that she was in a place of peace.

My reflection was soon interrupted by a visitor.

Boston joined me on a marble bench and brought a big smile to my face and gratitude to my heart for this dear canine companion.  It seemed that this was the perfect ending to a perfect day.  Soon, the three of us, Jim, Boston, and I, headed towards Glenwood Springs where Jim and I would enjoy a great evening soak in the hot springs.  

Leadville Colorado "On Top of the World"

Journal Cover
Moods & Memories
Code 2794
Current, Inc.


I am a Colorado Girl.I was raised at the foot of the beautiful Pikes Peak.I like to think it was the first thing I saw as I left the hospital after I was born.

Mountains, I loved them all of my life.

Memories of A Colorado Mountain Girl

I recently came across a journal I had started in my thirties. I remember buying the journal when I lived in Utah.  I saw the Colorado State Flower on the cover and I had to have the journal.  I missed my home state so much at the time.  

No one knew back in the 80's that the beautiful flower, the Columbine, would someday be linked to one of the worst school tragedies in history.  For me, at that time, the Columbine symbolized a time of innocence and of beauty as I would recall the many times I saw it growing wild in the mountain during my childhood and youth.  On the inside of this particular journal, I wrote, "Memories of Leadville, and of my youth."  In my heart, I still associate Columbines with innocence, but it is now more about lost innocence.  Yet despite the grief, shock, and pain that Columbines symbolize because of that fateful day at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado on April 20, 1999, I continue to love this flower and think of it also as a symbol of not only a day of innocence, but also as a symbol of hope for all that is good in youth.

Leadville ~ The Setting for My Youth

That Means I am a true mountain girl.  Anyone who has lived two miles high deserves that distinction.  Some of the best years of my life were lived in the shadow of Mt. Massive.  Living in Leadville, Colorado is an "On Top of the World Experience."

When I was just beginning my senior year in high school, my father moved us from the flatlands of Colorado, Pueblo, Colorado, to the rarified air of Leadville, Colorado.  I was heartbroken when he did this.  Little did I know how much Leadville would figure with such prominence when I recall the happiest times of my life.  

One of the first entries in my new journal was a recollection of my time spent as a young girl in Leadville.  I wrote:

This picture brings back memories of Leadville and the many pines out on the road toward Turquoise Lake.  It must have been February and we were decorating for a school dance - "Winter Wonderland."  We went out collecting pine branches & tumble weeds - the tumble weeds to be sprayed white and decorated with tiny lights.  We must have gone after school - it was cold! The world was white and glittery, the sky was black, clear, and starry as only a Leadville night can be.  I still remember crunchy footsteps in the snow and dragging branches and tumble weeds along the snow.  It was perfectly quiet except for this sound and the laughter from the excitement of being young and gathering natural decorations for a dance.  

I remember: the cold, my feet felt like they were frozen to the ground, the peaceful beauty that surrounded us, and the freedom of youth.  Also, I remember the power and the faith that I felt at that age.  

Nothing is more beautiful than a Colorado blue spruce being covered with soft, thumb nail size snow flakes in a light snow storm in early evening.  

February, 1963, I turned 18.  I wanted to stay there forever.  The future seemed bright.  The past was happy.  I had nothing to regret or sorrow about.  The present was perfect.  I was living in a small mountain town.  In fact, I was new in town, and everyone had been so friendly.  I was popular and had many friends who were fun and intelligent.  

The entire town was ours to roam. It had a colorful past, and it fascinated me.  There were old houses that were from the silver boom days.  Some of the sidewalks were still wooden.  The hardware shop, the barbershop, the church, the school were all functioning museums.  Up on the hills were abandoned mines.  At night we would go up there and tell ghost stories about them.  They were pretty scary too.

The scenery was out of this world...

For those of you who want to see a short video about the place that I called home, the place I love so dearly, the place that hold such wonderful memories, I have included this wonderful video.  I hope you take the time to watch it.  Enjoy.

If you ever get the chance, visit this wonderful mountain town.  You will love it.  By the way, I did work for the Chamber of Commerce in Leadville one summer while I was in college.  

A Very Special Spring Break

Last year, Spring Break came and went, and my husband and I didn't even notice.  When you are retired, who cares about Spring Break?  This year, with both of us working again, we wondered if we would make it until we had a week off.

My husband has never liked going anywhere for Spring Break.  He's always liked to stay home and rest.  I usually go visit my mom or the kids.  This year, I just wanted to stay home and catch up on my rest.  I had also hoped to clean out the flower beds, organize the basement, clean out some closets, and wash the windows.  Funny how ambitious my mind is.  In reality, I am just hoping not to get behind on the laundry and not mess up the house too much while we are off from work and relaxing.  I also hoped to get out of Dodge (Pueblo) for at least one day.

So, about two weeks ago, my husband told me he had decided that he would surprise me with a minication.  [translation:  very small vacation]  He said he had booked us a room at the Brown Palace in Denver for the first Saturday night of Spring Break.  He also booked reservations for tea at the Brown and for Sunday brunch at the Brown.

Little did I know that the best was yet to come.  He had booked a suite for us.  Just before we reached the  door of the room, I had said, "Oh look, I think we are staying in the same room as we did last time."  He responded with, "No, I guarantee you we are not staying in the same room."  Then, the attendant approached the door to our room, a corner room, and opened the door.   I was literally shocked when I looked inside.  "Why, this looks like a suite."  Sure enough, before my unbelieving eyes was his well kept surprise for me.

This was what I saw first.

During the Eisenhower Administration, when I was growing up in Colorado, The Brown Palace was often in the news.  It was called the Western White House.  I clearly remember when Eisenhower would be visiting Denver and staying at this wonderful old hotel.  Built in 1892, it opened its doors just one month before my paternal grandmother was born in Florence, Colorado.  It has been open every day since.  Few things, say Colorado to me quite as much as The Brown Palace.  It links me to my family's long tenure in this state, and is a major part of the proud history of the state I love.  It is uniquely Colorado.  (For those of you who are interested, click fun facts about The Brown Palace to read more about this historical spot.)

It has always been one of my favorite places to visit whenever I am in the neighborhood, even if it has just meant walking through the lobby and making my way up the wonderful wrought iron lined staircases to the seventh floor.   Once, when just walking through the place on a tour, a friend and I searched for the two upside down panels of the iron grill work that "ring the lobby."

I love the "wrought iron panels that ring the lobby from the third to the seventh floor."

I love the unique shaped walls covered with rose themed wallpaper

So, this past weekend, I could really barely believe that we were actually staying in one of her grand old suites.   I loved the stately, old look of our room.  Note the curved walls that speak to the location of the room.  It is a corner room  on the Tremont and 17th Street side of the building.

Jim, looking quite presidential, tried out the desk.

The bed was very comfortable.

The bathroom was very nice.

Jim practiced using his camera while I tried out the desk.  I'd like to have this room to write in on a regular basis!

My thank you note to my dear sweet husband...

My teacher look...

Here is a shot of the lobby where tea is held.

Before long, it was time for tea.  So we made our way downstairs.

Tea time...

When we got back up to the room, I heard bag pipes.  Finally, I thought to look out the window.  Sure enough, a bride and groom had just walked from The Trinity United Methodist Church across the street to a reception to be held at the hotel.  A bag piper was heralding their arrival.  "Oh how romantic and exciting," I thought.

 I missed being able to get a photo of the bride and groom and the bag piper, but I did get a photo of the bridal party.

Our weekend did not end with tea, but my husband said, "Enough with the camera already."  So, the photo log stops here.

We walked down the Sixteenth Street Mall to the movie theater where we watched, The Lincoln Lawyer.  I loved the movie and highly recommend it.  My husband is a real fan of Michael Connelly's books.  Based on the movie, I may have to start reading his books.

We had dinner in the Ship Tavern at the Brown.  The hamburger was wonderful!

We walked to Larimer Square and back to the hotel in the moonlight of the Super Moon.

We then got up Sunday morning for the amazing Brown Palace Sunday Brunch.  We actually had free tickets for the brunch which is why we had decided to go to Denver during Spring Break.  I just didn't expect my husband to also book the 'sweet' room that he did.   I wish I had photos of the brunch, but my husband nixed the idea.  Just trust me; it was really, really good and beautifully prepared.

Sitting at brunch, listening to the jazz quartet, watching the people from various stages of life enjoy a special Sunday Brunch, I couldn't help but reflect on the past year.  With tears in my eyes, I felt I needed to thank my husband for being by my side during the worst year of my life.  I know I would not have made it without him.

He has sat and watched over me as I have grieved.  He has given me space to grieve with the knowledge that he was always just a few steps away,  He has made sure my every need was met.  His quiet, solid strength, his wise counsel in all matters surrounding my daughter's death, his willingness to take care of those legal matters that I just couldn't deal with in the beginning, his constant support, his love, his ability to try and make special memories for me have all caused me to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I was greatly blessed by a provident God when He gave me this man for a husband.

Sometimes, I feel such regret that he has had to suffer along with me.  I guess I feel guilt also.  He did nothing to deserve this tragedy.  I know none of us did, but it hurts to know that the actions of others hurt  those around them so deeply.

I said to him, "Jim, I really must say this.  You didn't deserve to go through all that you have had to go through in the past year.  Thank you for being there.  Thank you for being you.  I'm sorry you have had to suffer with me this past year."  He said, "I'm sorry too, dear, not for my sake, but for yours."

Do you see why I love him?  I am truly greatly blessed to call this man my husband.