Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Drop in the Bucket

Our nice fall weather turned nasty today; Rain turned to icy pellets which the evil wind then threw into your face after it blew your umbrella inside out. Well, at least it makes coming home to a warm, cozy house that much more inviting. After fighting the elements trying to get groceries in, Allison and I both sighed and exclaimed to the kitchen: "Oh thank you, warm house." As I was straightening up she went into the family room to play. Moments later she came scrambling into the kitchen saying something about something jumping under the coffee table. I went to have a look and discovered a puzzling white mush. What? It took a few moments for me to comprehend that it was wet ceiling texture. I looked up to see a soggy spot of ceiling near the skylight. Oh lovely. It's really a lot worse this year, maybe so bad that we have to do something besides put a bucket under the leak. And in the next thirty seconds I was renting ladders scraping the popcorn texture from the 20 foot ceiling (we always hated that stuff--is now the opportunity to get rid of it?) Would I use a big putty knife or is there a special tool for that, and I'd need to wear a hat because it will get all in my hair, in fact, wouldn't I have to remove all the furniture first and lay down a tarp, and is there asbestos in that?

All Robert's framed golf flags will have to come off the walls so I can paint since now would be a good time, but then why not refinish the woodwork around the windows though there are quite a lot of them and they are all about 16 feet high, so again, the ladders. But first I 'd need to pull down the old peeling wallpaper (always hated that too); isn't there a special tool for that? I scooped up the white mush and eyed the soggy spot again. Maybe nobody will notice.

While Robert spent his day at his office, Allison and I paid Beau a visit at his business today with the intention of helping somehow. Where to start? While he worked the tire machine, Allie and I got out the industrial mop and bucket and went to work. I tidied up his counter. That was about it. I couldn't muster up the focus and energy required to really do some good, mainly because the job requires pure dirty labor. I need work clothes, boots, gloves, disinfectant, commercial grade cleaning appliances, paint, and hours and hours of time. I'd have to get a running start and not look back. I just finished a run like that through my own house where I could have used a holster to pack my vacuum attachments. In fact, this morning I ridded of the boxes and bags of toys and clothes I had organized and packed on my cleaning spree earlier this week. I helped the driver (for the charity) haul the stuff to his truck. I threw in the toddler bed which I helped him carry up from our basement, plus some other large items. I guess when I got to Beau's I wasn't in the mood for more work.

So I offered the support that comes from just showing up. And even better, a hot meal when he got home. I got a big hug. Allison wants five bucks for her part in mopping.

Friday, November 24, 2006


Beau is making progress getting his business ready to open. I went down to check on him and get the tour since I've been away since September. I think it is very impressive. He has painted giant checkers on the warehouse and had a chain link fence installed around the grounds. The road and parking lot have been re-asphalted and the scraggly brush has been torn away from the front of the building though a few bunches of lettuce have popped up where Kenny, our live-in sign painter had his try at a garden. An office has been constructed inside with new cabinetry that Beau tried to stain himself. I said I'd help straighten that up.

His computer terminal and phone are up (921-TIRES) as well as the obligatory hot rod poster, this one personally signed by the scantily-dressed girl who straddles the car, something like, "You're hot!," a souvenir from the Las Vegas SEMA (stuff for cars) convention. The warehouse is filling with tires and wheels and new equipment like a wheel balancer . He's named his wheel and tire business, ROBO'S, a combination of letters from his name and his father's. It was actually the idea of Taylor, my little 16 year old friend, and the symbol or mascot, I guess, is a robot of sorts that Ryan's friend Jake created. A community effort.
I think it works.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

A Thanksgiving Homecoming

We are back home. This month marks a year since we began our extended vacation. I'm a little tired to write much more than it feels good to be home--that is, after I made it my home again. I couldn't rest until I was comfortable and that meant getting my house into shape. I felt compelled to reintroduce myself to practically every object in my house by giving it a good dusting and clean-up. Hello grimy salt shaker. Glad everyone was too busy to notice me acting like a merry maid-on-speed because I'm sure I looked obsessive with my swifter and the vacuum attachment..

Robert thinks my laying hands on everything is some way of reclaiming my house again. I think he may be right. I also think there is some little magic going on--some transference of energy, as if every thing I handle becomes a little bit alive and connected to me. Every object tells me its history until one by one a whole story is retold. Then I feel secure and real. Then I can rest.

Well, not entirely--Thanksgiving is at my house, tomorrow. I've got my tables set, my stuffing in the refrigerator, and the turkey brining in one half of the kitchen sink. I'm thoroughly enjoying myself in the preparations although, again, I'm glad people don't witness the meticulousness behind my methods. It would translate as obsessive how I spend hours creating tablescapes, arranging branches and pinecones and little acorns. But the results! Today I loved every moment of it. I loved working in my kitchen while enjoying the view outside. Today was an incredible sunny warm day. Allison and her cousin, Lucy, explored the grounds around the house. Golfers were out like gluttons amazed to be catching such a lucky break. They moved in an energized pace like they were rushing to steal the day. I watched them buzz by on their carts grinning and high-spirited while I stood equally exuberant at my sink polishing silver wearing Robert's old golf glove (because that's all I could find.) Each one of us, no doubt, was feeling equally content and lucky to be here.

And while all this goes on Robert's father is in the hospital fighting a failing kidney. He won't make it to Thanksgiving dinner, but the prognosis today was encouraging. Dialysis is now in his future. He always seems to pull through whatever is out to get him. Meanwhile, many miles away my brother just welcomed his fourth child. I kid him that about his little Mormon family ( they are not) with their children named Kaleb, Adlai, Rebecca, and now, Josiah.

I am remembering the people we have lost through the years and sorry they aren't here to share in the holiday, my favorite holiday, but I am happy, so happy for all the little comforts, big and little, I have.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Witnessing the Moose Crossing

I was in Frisco today and struck up a conversation with a girl who turns out happens to live just a street below me in Wildernest. For some reason the subject of wildlife on the mountain came up and I shared with her that I have rarely seen much of it. She exclaimed that she sees moose almost every day on the same road that I travel. These three moose always barrel across Twenty Grand Road when she returns from work. They prefer to come out at dusk or in heavy snow she said. She told me a story about how a friend who was walking his dogs got chased by a moose all the way to a neighbor's door where he pounded on the door to be let in to safety. His dogs scattered. Then, unbelievably, the moose started butting at the door still in pursuit of the man.

It happened that it was late afternoon when Allie and I made our grocery run at the Frisco Safeway. We lingered there at the in-store Starbucks since I was in no rush to return home. I've been a little homebound these past few days--a combination of intense work editing my friend's video project and a major snow drop with furious winds that have caused a white-out. Drinking a chai tea latte while Allison dipped into a cup of whipped cream seemed pretty entertaining after my long days in the condo.

Anyway, as we heading for home up Buffalo Mountain Road and turned onto Twenty Grand, incredibly, we saw the three moose. They did just like my new friend said, they charged across the road in front of my car and down into the lower woods. We were astonished.
I did not take this photo.

Warning: Bright Sunshine Ahead

Besides its natural beauty, the best thing I like about the Colorado Rockies is its attitude. It's like a gentle giant. Maybe it's the sunshine, so much of it, almost all the time. You find yourself smiling a lot. Last week I was driving the Interstate down the mountains toward Denver, smiling, passing old mining towns with cute names like: Silver Plume, Downieville, Idaho Springs, when I came across an unusual (to me) message on a huge LED sign. The streaming text read:
Bright Sunshine Ahead.

I know it's a warning, but it gave me a chuckle. I couldn't snap a photo of it so here's an example of the type of sign I'm talking about. Usually it throws out an air of dead serious importance. Amber Alert. Nuclear Holocaust Ahead. Not, Don your sunglasses it's a little bright today. Another sign warns:
Truckers. Don't be fooled. Steep grade next 6 miles.
A little cheeky for DOT standards I think. It it makes you wonder about the seriousness of other signage. Like the one that reads:
Retract Your Sunroofs. Falling Rocks Ahead.
No, that's me joshing you.
But since the conformance to standards seems to be getting more casual by the day it should seem no surprise that whomever is programming these LED messages feels free to take a little creative license. The next image I found online is a joke...or maybe not. It's probably sited on a street corner in San Francisco.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Taken on the same day

It's been unseasonably warm the past few days. I think a record was set yesterday. I even opened up the windows to air out the house. This is how Buffalo Mountain looked in the early afternoon as I drove over Swan Mountain Road over Lake Dillon.

In the few minutes it took me to return from Dillon to pick up Allie at school the mountains became shrouded in clouds and by the time I pulled into the garage this is what it looked like.

Windows are now closed, gas fireplace full-on. We'll probably wake up to a foot of snow.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Good intentions

I'm normally not a bad cook, but something about the high altitude has done me in. The final straw--my attempt to bake a cake from scratch. All that trouble for this pathetic mess. At least the batter was delicious.

I have to get back in practice since I'm hosting Thanksgiving back home. We'll be returning to home for good. (Or at least Allison and I since Robert has hardly been here.) I'll be driving back two days before Thanksgiving so I'll have barely time to prepare.

I have been putting a lot of thought into my tablescape. I have an idea to suspend decorated aspen branches over the table in a kind of alpine theme. Today I set out to steal a few branches from somewhere inconspicuous. My first thought was the Gore Forest behind my condo, but I couldn't imagine hauling my harvest down the mountain, not to mention it is probably a criminal offense; and it certainly would have been super premeditated since I purchased the saw this morning after dropping Allie off at school. Then, as I was coming down Buffalo Mountain Drive, I noticed a pile of newly-cut trees on a house construction site. Who could object to my sawing off a few branches?

Aspen is by far the softest wood I have ever sawed into. And lightweight too. I hauled away four branches about six or seven feet long. Hopefully, I'll make it home with them and my little decorating dream will be realized. I've been known to think too big when it comes to projects. One summer trip here I had a carpenter friend construct forms to make concrete stepping stones. When we got here I gathered everyone to go down to Blue River to collect river stones. Then we went to the hardware store for concrete. Everyone laid out their stone mosaics on the driveway and waited as I hand-mixed the concrete in a five gallon bucket. I added water and stirred, added more water and stirred. This went on for over an hour as I never got the consistency right. Dusk approached and one by one everyone retreated to the house leaving me and my bucket until finally, I too, gave up. The next morning the bucket of concrete had solidified around my stirring stick turning my whole project into a giant concrete Popsicle.

Besides the cake, my day wasn't a waste. I took a long walk, a pilgrimage really, through Keystone to the playground on the Snake River, a place we have taken our boys through the years. I had someone's birthday to remember. That little someone sat on this very slide so many years ago.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Men, again

Robert, Beau, and his friend, Luke, flew in for the weekend. They stopped over on their return from a convention in Las Vegas. Robert is helping Beau set up his business and Luke (who is actually Ryan's best friend) is basically apprenticing with us. The visit was short, but sweet. They all enjoyed sleeping-in and watching football. We miss having men around, although, they eat a lot and mess up the place.

BTW, Beau is actually 6 ft tall. It's Luke that is the giant!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I am convinced the worst way to wake up is when you are in the middle of a dream in which you are either being humiliated, caught, or revealed for your true faulted and failing character before you have time in the dream to defend or redeem yourself. The ugly dread follows you out of bed to the kitchen where you hope the ritual of brewing coffee will dissolve the dark aura. But it hangs with you in the shower where you recite the stupid things you've said to someone when you were thirteen or thirty. It shines florescent in the mirror reflecting back a defective form, one that is all your fault. If only I were different, better, braver.
Oh well. You get dressed. You tie your shoes.

It was on this bleak current that I left the house to take my daughter to school. Then I went on a long walk to shake off the rotten mantra of I'm-such-a-loser. Long walks are my salvation. I am not alone in this sentiment. I read somewhere that walking in natural surroundings is healing because it connects us with nature. And more, the rhythms of the brain respond to the limbs in motion as a form of mobile meditation. Serious walkers, those of us who walk for our psychological survival, know this. The magic occurs as the negative mantra falls mute to the stimulus of the outdoors--to God's creation.

But today I was hardened and troubled and inattentive. The walk was just an exercise in discipline. And it made me feel more alone--until I went to school; Allison's school, to read with the second graders on my Thursday. I walked the long hall wearing my good-mother smile when I beheld the new exhibit on the bulletin board outside her classroom. Poems framed in colored paper. Little expressions from little people praising dogs and sunshine and playing and friends written with the exquisite simplicity of second graders living in a time when you pretty much love yourself and everybody unconditionally. A time when the meaning of life is bound up with interpersonal relationships. Maybe that's my problem--I'm too voluntarily isolated. Failure to integrate.

Then I found my own daughter's composition. At first I thought, Oh no, she's a philosopher. Oh doom. But as I stared at her words, her little crayon landscape, I was softened with pride and protectiveness. How does a little person know so much? And if she is part of me, part of the continuance of my essence, how do I negate her predisposition to this soulful view of life, of our world? My responsibility to her is to embrace her proclivity for soulfulness and forgive myself for belittling mine.

by Allison ______

I sleep beneath the clouds
I wonder beneath the stars
I am at peace
I think to myself what a wonderful world I could be in today