Saturday, March 24, 2018

Anything can happen, and anything does


I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty beats and shines not IN its inperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them, under the wind-rent clouds, upstream and down.

One evening, just when I needed it most, a very good friend of mine sent this passage from the book PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK

 by Annie Dillard. 

When I read it, it spoke to me. I read it again and again. I really wanted to share it with you, too. 

A very long time ago I tried to read PILGRIM AT TINKER CREEK. It was just a year after she wrote that book that I was living in a tiny old log cabin in Southesast Alaska, reading by the light of a kerosene lamp. But, I didn’t get it then. I wasn’t ready, I guess. Maybe I was too young to understand what she really meant. 

Now I’m revisiting The Pilgrim. 

TEACHING A STONE TO TALK is also new on my night stand. I am enthralled with the essay LIVING LIKE WEASELS.

Everybody knows how the weasel lives. Joyfully, right? 

“I would like to learn, or remember, how to live.”

 I would like to live as I should, as the weasel lives as he should. And I suspect that for me the way is like the weasel’s: open to time and death painlessly, noticing everything, remembering nothing, choosing the given with a fierce and pointed will.

                        —Living Like Weasels

Thank you Nikki, for sending me those words the other night. For turning me on to Annie’s writing, again. Now, I know I’m ready.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

One More Sunrise


 “Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

Thich Nhat Hahn

Monday: Ultrasound. Suspicious lump.

Wednesday: Biopsy

Thursday: Results. Cancer cells present. Surgeon consultation. Schedule immediate surgery. What to expect.

Friday: Lumpectomy/ Sentinel lymph node removal/ biopsy

Saturday: Many visits from friends. Cards filled with kind words and encourgement and the most beautiful cactus terrarium.

Sunday: I am clearly a depressed and hopeless burrowing prairie dog.

Monday: Still tucked away in my lair. Stopped taking the pain killers.

Tuesday: Biopsy report back from pathologist. Stage 1. Tumor is small and has NOT spread to lymph nodes. 

Tears of joy. Relief. Gratitude. The dancing begins. 

Wednesday: Visit with my amazing surgeon. Everything is discussed. Instructions. Treatment plan. Radiation. Chemo? What to expect.

Thursday: I no longer look for Owls. I only see Bluebirds.


 It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living. — Eckhart Tolle

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Another Rolling Red Horse


Nearly one year ago, something remarkable happened that I will never forget. I came face to face with A Boy Named Ruby

Last week, I had a similar encounter with yet another red horse. I have given him the name 


Here is a moment by moment procession of our “join up.”

Cimarrón and all his beauties. 


As his band moves on, Cimarrón lays down. 
I am less than twenty feet from this stallion. 
The roll.
The shake.
The look.
He does a slight frolic dance and mane toss.
Catching up with his band.

I watch as they all walk away. 

I bow my head in gratitude. 

Experiences like these make my life richer.    

Monday, February 19, 2018

It’s like I’m in a snow globe

Pretty, isn’t it? 

It’s also zero degrees. 

While watching the Olympics on T.V last night, all the girl’s doing Big Air crazy tricks on their snowboards, our temperature dropped to 3 below. It was snowing. The sky was yellow. I slept with the blinds open because it was just so eerie and beautiful.

There’s a mighty blizzard going on outside. It’s a whiteout. The wind is blowing heavy and fast. It is thick with whirling snowflakes, gusting and churning in circles. I look out every window and see bright white. I count 16 inches of snow. Tonight it is expected to turn bitterly cold. Like -12 below. Who likes that?! 

The bird feeder is swinging. 

I wanted to go to my girlfiriend, NaNá’s Spinning class with Chad but the Y is closed due to the storm. Before we heard that they were not going to be open today, she had sent a notice out for us “Spinners” to either get to class by ski or dog sled. (Or by Subaru).

I feel stranded. 

I feel cooped up! 

But, I have my cats. I’ve got a couple of letters to write. I can finish reading an amazing Monty Roberts book, 


And look at these vintage SW Art and Arizona Highways magazines. The Friends of the Library staff gave me a huge box full of very, very old Arizona Highway’s that come in their own Native American decorative binder. They knew I would be thrilled. It’s a perfect retirement gift. They know I’m planning a roadtrip to Arizona and New Mexico in May.

While the snowstorm keeps me inside I have time to linger with stories from my beloved Desert. Articles and old colorful photographs of ancient pueblos, mud dwellings and River People. I love to read about basket weavers and pottery makers; I’m fascinated by the Anasazi people of Chaco Canyon.

Today I stare at pictures of New Mexico skies. Arts and crafts women of the desert Southwest wearing turquoise around their necks and silver bracelets up their arms drinking cactus juice with big, big smiles. 

And Navajo ponies in red Arizona canyons. 

I want to be there now. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Librarians on Horseback

My favorite friend in town shared this article with me this morning. (
 I am so taken with the story and cannot stop looking at these old time black and white photos that say so much.
Thank you NaNá!
Female librarians delivered books on horseback (and mule), ca. 1930’s 
In the 1930s, many people living in isolated communities had very little access to jobs, let alone a good education for their children. In Kentucky, they had isolated mountain communities which could only get their books and reading material from one source… librarians on horseback.
President Franklin Roosevelt was trying to figure out a way to resolve the Great Depression of the 1930s. His Works Progress Administration created the Pack Horse Library Initiative to help Americans become more literate so that they’d have a better chance of finding employment.
These librarians would adventure through muddy creeks and snowy hills just to deliver books to the people of these isolated areas.
The horseback librarians were mostly made up of women. They were paid salaries by the Works Progress Administration. The rule was that libraries had to exist in the counties where books would be delivered. Many of the local schools contributed to this effort by donating literature, such as newspapers, magazines, and books.
These adventurous women on horseback would ride as much as 120 miles within a given week, regardless of the terrain or weather conditions. Sometimes, they would have to finish their travels on foot if their destination was in a place too remote and tough for horses to go.
In 1943, the horseback book delivery program had ended because employment skyrocketed during World War II.
These women had to be locally known to people too or else those living in the mountains would not trust them.
And this poster hangs on the door to my art room. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Three minutes and forty six seconds of last summer

❁ ❁ ❁ ❁ 


[Mountain Plover nest] 


This winter I’ve been thinking about last summer. I found some photographs that I took on one beautiful and green June day.

It was the day we scored seeing all the pretty mustangs. Altogether. Crowded and confined, really. They were mysteriously fenced off from being able to venture up high into the more forested, 8,000 ft. elevation, tip top of Green Mountain. Naturally, in the summertime, they like to go where it’s cooler. To the abundant meadows of new grasses and wildflowers and to be able to duck into the shade of some pines when the sun is hottest.

As you can see, groups of them stick close to the fence line. Waiting for the gate to open? 

The rancher who leases that BLM land for his cows decided to leave the gate closed until he felt like opening it up. (This was confirmed when we stopped by the BLM office not long afterwards). Frankly, I don’t know why they were there in the first place. That gate would allow two hundred wild horses to leave that pasture and to spread out and up to the rest of the 117,000 acres they call home. At the time, while I was out there photographing the horses, I kept wondering why they were confined between the mountain and the prairie. I wondered why there hadn’t been someone in charge of that HMA (Herd Management Area) checking in on the activity on Green Mountain. Maybe the cow owner calls the shots.

Of course, you can see all that green grass and the trickle of the springs looks like heaven for those horses. It appeared so, but to tell you the truth, those horses were agitated and restless. I have been observing that herd for over six years now and I noticed a difference in their behavior that day. (And the day after that.) Noticeably, they aren’t usually all hanging out together, for one thing. I don’t think they particularly enjoyed HAVING to stay in that lush green fenced in pasture. Bands of horses were too close for comfort. Pesky gnats and flies were relentless and it was obvious that every single horse was bothered by them. There was no escaping the situation.  

I filmed a few frames of horse activity going on that afternoon. It’s 3:46 seconds of clicks and gusts of wind. [Keep in mind, this was my first attempt at using the video setting on my camera and I didn’t have my reading glasses with me to know precisely what the heck I was doing, so hopefully you won’t get too dizzy].

While hiking around the same area, only further east of the pasture, we noticed a family band of mustangs sticking like glue to one side of the fenceline. On the immediate opposite side of the fence stood a mare and her foal. They obviously belonged to this band and somehow had gotten separated. The gray Stallion took turns nuzzling his mare and new son across the barbed wire fence. At one point, somehow, someway, that tiny little foal squeezed through a small opening in the fence! Chad and I watched for a long time to see what would happen next. The Stallion and his family were showing signs of distress and urgency, as they all followed the fenceline, back and forth, wondering what to do next. You can imagine how that mare must have felt. Now she was all alone on one side, her family on the other side of the rusty wire fence. 

She became frantic. She went bonkers. We watched that mare tear around, galloping and zig-zagging every which way. She was all over the place trying to find her way out of the corral. She would arch her strong neck up and out, her dark and desperate eyes searching for the location of her baby. She marched along the fenceline, determined to find a way out. 

What do you think happened?

The mare got out. She reunited with her family. And they all excitedly ran away together to the top of Green Mountain and lived happily ever after.

❁ ❁ ❁ ❁ 

Driving along a deep rutted two track road, we came upon a couple of bachelor stallions. One we recognized immediately. The lovely dappled gray, the one with a bone deformity in one of his shoulders. He used to belong to Beast’s band. That was four years ago. Who knows why he isn’t with that family anymore. Maybe he couldn’t keep up. Maybe he got kicked out. For all we know he could be a son of Beast and it was time for him to go off on his own. Whatever the reason, we’ve always enjoyed seeing that boy. He gets around pretty good. He’s just one of the endearing aspects one might find on Wyoming’s Green Mountain.

 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 


Monday, January 1, 2018

A Day in Aspen

It really is a Sweet Rocky Mountain Paradise!

John Denver was right.