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1. Trip to Denver: The Wyeth Exhibt

After "the business" was completed, we went to the Denver Art Museum's exhibition of arguably the greatest American family of artists, father and son- Andrew and Jamie Wyeth...


So popular is the Wyeth legacy, started first by "the grandfather" N.C, Wyeth...


 whose was one of our great American illustrators of the Golden Age and whose "prop" boots were on display...

The DAM show, which when I was a kid and went Denver on field trips to the Art Museum, would love to keep the little badges that proved we had paid the admission, cause it spelled a "naughty" world. Sadly, this trip I only got a sticker that spelled out the full name, but I digress.

This show featured N.C. son, Andrew Wyeth ( 1917-2009).....


know for his muted palette of browns and earth tones,  his studies of the local inhabitants of New England including the Helga series...


and the Olson family. His most famous painting that of Christina's World, gazing up through the grass of the Olson's farm. The finished painting was not at the DAM, but one of his preliminary sketches was, showing the energy of the idea, that is often lost when the idea is worked out.


We interrupt this review of a great show to highlight something else, who goes to museums in the middle of the day, middle of the week? 

Tourist and well, lots and lots of "older ladies", who made the day interesting. First, they are concerned with everything, their business and others. They first took notice of us, because the "Member's line" was rather long, cause they all come mid day, mid week and we were the only ones in the "other line" and they were rather vocal about that. Then, once our tickets were bought and we were waiting in the rope queue, they were rather upset we did not want to listen to the audio commentary, one reaching over the rope to stop us from going in, unguided to be washed this way and that in the exhibit hall. 


My husband dubbed them the "audio zombies" and they did seem to zombie walk from one painting to the next and then stand motionless listening to the commentary coming through the large satellite phone-ish looking device at their ear.

I was polite with the whole encouragement to not go in, unanchored and resisted tell them that my Wyeth knowledge was decades long,  Helga being released to the world when I was in art school decades ago and just recently watching a whole documentary on the Wyeth legacy.


And I was Jon's whispering commentary, directing  him to appreciate the photograph of the wooden box on the shore line and telling him of Andrew Wyeth's frustration with gawkers while he tried to work and his solution.

The show was very telling, especially the progression of Jamie Wyeth , (1946-  ), showing him experimenting for his voice, painting such icons as Warhol....


his father and grandfather's influence showing in his palette and subject matter....


to finding something that was truly his own....


greater than life whimsical animals. 

The show would have been wonderful, if not for the  "gaggle of older ladies" who didn't seem to know what to think, needing to be instructed, either with the "zombie audios" or clustered around a "docent", a volunteer guide of the museum with a tablet and mini microphone.


They were quite suprised by the "Nude Wall" , a series of sketches and studies...



I heard a few audible "Oh, mys!" as they came around the corner from the lovable animals.
Don't know what they thought of the "pumpkin head man...


 at the end of the show, by that time, I wanted to distance myself, cause, well, I had had my fill of "the gaggle". Unfortunately I would have to deal with them again in A Place in the Sun Exhibit...


 and this time my frustration is probably going to result in an email of complaint to the Denver Art Museum. That story to come in the next post. 



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2. Trip To Denver: The New Union Station


We headed up to Denver last week for  a little bit of business in the Capitol city...


Click HERE for video of train passing by coffee shop...

But when that was done, we stayed around for a couple of days. For one, to explore the newly renovated Union Station on the Northwest end of downtown...


Denver continues to add to their mass transit system, a sleek new hub between Union Station and the South Platte River in LoDo (lower downtown).


The old Union Station has been a anchor on the Northwest corner of the Sixteenth Street Mall...






and includes a hotel...

                           

and several restaurants, listed here...


Ate at the very hip Kitchen Next Door Community Pub for dinner...


and then came back the next day and had breakfast at Snooze, yup the 60's are cool again...



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3. Tree by Train...


We got our tree by train. That is the Durango Silverton Train up in Cascade Canyon, where the trees near the tracks needed to be thinned out, since hot coal ash spits out along the tracks. So early in the morning we drove over the snowy pass....




to Durango and load up in a sunny enclosed car.



Where on the outskirts of town, we were greeted with a show, and a nifty form of advertising...



Though the inside cars were warm and sunny, we opted for the outside observation car, since we were dressed in about three layers, ready for snow and harsh conditions...


Ahhh, not, our breakfast was  champagne mimosa and yummy sandwiches from Breads back in Durango, their turkey cranberry is like Thanksgiving between two slices of bread...





The views were amazing for the hearty, climbing up past Missionary Ridge...






Picking up passengers at Rockwood








The cars were full, but only thirty of us had tree permits. We were dropped off...


but the train kept going a little bit farther to the Cascade stop where the passengers could sip hot cider and warm themselves around fire pits, while we found our trees...




We took our chances with one that looked good on the front, but was crammed up against other trees, since it has to go up against a wall, near a pathway in our house. We were a little worried about getting back to the tracks, since the train is the only way out. We could have taken a little bit more time...












Here is video, love the sound of that whistle blowing, especially when it is your only way out of a deep snowy mountain canyon! 



or click HERE for the video of the train coming back to pick us up...





And then we headed home...


And Jon carried the tree through downtown Durango to the truck.






The red Christmas ornament was soooo not my idea, makes the elk skull look like a combo of  Zero and Santa's reindeer from the Nightmare Before Christmas...




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4. Continuing the HolidayEating in Santa Fe...


Friday, we drove down to Santa Fe, like we do so many years, getting into the square as the sun was going down and the town was getting ready to light the plaza, and welcome Santa...



We ate New Mexican food coming down from Colorado, at the Chaco Grill, at the Phillips 66 gas station in Cuba.  Then once in town, we ate at Maria's Kitchen, a locals favorite for about 40 years and Robert Redford's when he comes to Santa Fe... 


Then Saturday morning we went to the Farmer's Market in the Railyard and ate some more- apple epinadas, breakfast burritos, samples of fresh apples and cider. But we were mainly there to get more New Mexico red chili powder from our suppliers in Chimayo, who bring it in green lidded rubbermaid tubs and sell it in ziploc bags, 1 pound for $18 dollars. Down in the plaza, small bags sell for $25 in posh stores. 

There were other good finds from the vendors outside and the holiday mercado on the other side of the tracks...


But we didn't get cheese and you need cheese to go with the glorious bread we also purchase, so then it was off to Whole Foods, where allergic to dairy, all I could was watch others delight in the cheese choices and then go off and find some hummus and salami



After our bread and cheese picnic, we headed back down to the plaza and pursued shops and museums....


 including Design Warehouse, a staple for Santa Fe's  infamous lit paper stars.


Then we ate at the Burrito Company, not that we were hungry yet....


but, who can resist handmade tortillas, chicken fajita tacos with Spanish rice and black beans, burritos and nachos?

So then we walked it off, the others going to more museums and me, well, I strolled up Canyon Roads, spending as much time as I liked in the many art galleries..... ahhhhhhhh! 


Where even the old adobe buildings themselves are a beautiful thing to ponder, with uneven floors and narrow doors.


Then back together we went to a movie, ate popcorn, cause how can you not eat popcorn watching Daniel Craig, well, be James Bond...


Also how can you love it when Jame Bond saves the girl, at the same time hate it James Bond has to save the girl?

Well, that pondering is for another post, but after the movie we did go back to the Railyard and eat at the Second Street Brewery, where I partook of hard cider this time and Jon proved he can distinguish the subtle woody, fruity or hoppy flavors of several micro brews, presented to him in one sip taster glasses. Daughter #2 did do the driving back to the hotel. Garrett's Desert Inn, which is cheap in comparison to the other hotels down town right off the plaza.

Of course, Sunday, stuffed or not, we walked over to our and everybody else in the knows, place to go for breakfast, Pascals. Part of the fun is the waiting outside and people watching and listening  to the conversations, I confess.


Inside, it is their Mexican hot chocolate drinks, cornmill blueberry pancakes, huevos rancheros, and breakfast plates that make the wait forth it....


Then we headed back to Colorado, but did stop in Cuba at the Phillip 66, at the grill, about 2 hours later for beans and onions wrapped in some more fresh made tortilla. 



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5. Elk at a Wedding...


Headed over a few mountain passes to Vail, Colorado for my niece's wedding to a pretty neat guy, I might say. Daughter #1 and her boyfriend met us there, so it was just me, Jon, Daughter #2 and....

                                 
a big 6 point bull elk rack. 

Uh-huh, an elk. My brother's rack I talked about HERE, that traveled with us from Wyoming to South Dakota into Nebraska, back into Wyoming and then down the Rockies to SW Colorado, a few years ago. 
This weekend it traveled again, at the request of our niece., to help decorate a patch of forest for her rehearsal dinner.
Towards Lizard Head Pass we went, slowly through the town of Rico, where word is the judge is a mean "son of a gun".


We skirted past Telluride, made our way up and over the Dallas Divide...


where we lucked out with the construction that warned of the possibilities of 30 minute delays.


The other side of Vail, and after dealing with a confused GPS, we found the Gore Creek Campground...



where we found my family setting up...


and then when the party was ready to start, out came the flannel, it's a Colorado thing.






As is elk, which not only was part of the decoration, it was part of the meal. Shot by my brother in Wyoming and prepared by my mother and sister, echoing twenty five years ago.For my wedding, nestled below Longs Peak and Estes Park, elk grazed outside the church windows and we had elk stroganoff..

Cast iron skillets, Le Creuset and red checkered table clothes has also always been a part of my family. As is putting all we have into cooking and food....



And how wonderful it is to be blessed with  like minded souls who know the importance of a feast for the eyes as well as the palette.




Beautiful food brings beautiful fellowship and weddings bring together those who do not always get to feast together...















to visit and play together...





With the cool evening air, the fires are a gathering place, to talk and avoid the embers as the wind changes direction.






                 

And as the sun sets, the fires provide light, with Coleman lanterns situated here and there...



A harsh flash of a camera, capturing and disrupting the flow of the evening...



The images from the firelight much more interesting and kind in the dark of the night...






Wedding's merge people and  families. Feasting brings people together and in my family, it seems that more often than not, that happens in the mountain. Like I said it is a Colorado thing, although now that I think about it, was there green chilies?  


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6. A Campus Refurbished...




Many Springs ago, I attended a Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrators Rocky Mountain Chapter workshop for Illustrators. It was an educational day,  but what really stuck with me was where it was held.. at the Rocky Mountain College of Art, in Lakewood, Colorado.  I snapped a bunch of photos and have never put them up, but now here they are...


Celebrating a half a century, RMCAD  moved to this gorgeous campus in 2002.



Sculptures and outside installation  adorn the center, green  "rectangle" as they should at an art school.



and the students, make their own statement, as they should at Art School...


But the studios, housed in mostly red brick buildings, hint at a time gone by...



50 years farther back, at the turn of the century, the campus did have another purpose, it was a Tuberculosis Asylum, built by generous Jewish Ladies Auxiliaries back East, as the plaque below the water tower attest too...






The Tri Boro Dining Hall was erected by the New York Ladies Auxiliary, Long Island Division, Florence Hoberman Auxiliary of Brooklyn.



The New York Ladies Auxiliary Pavilion...





J.C.R.S stands for the Jewish Consumptive Relief Society and the organization cared for many affirmed who were sent to Colorado, to benefit from the dry air. 

Our Illustrator Workshop took place in the Mary Harris Auditorium, built much later in 1941, when the campus had changed focus as a medical research facility....

 Screaming "Art Deco" in its Architectural Style, it was sometimes hard to focus on the speakers in the glowing auditorium ...





Or at our  hands on workshop,  in one of the classrooms where no surface was safe from adornment....




Oh, how hard it was not add my own creativity, my ballpoint pen just laying there, but alas, not my art school and not my time.... Read the rest of this post

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7. A Drive Down from Telluride...


Starting up on Dallas Divide, northeast o Telluride, these are not all the same day, but more so snapshots of the route we take so often coming home from Denver or after a day out for a drive. What do they have in common? That the light, the sky or the wildlife was so amazing, it made me stop and take notice.


Coming down into the valley, before Telluride...


Almost to the new round about that is still so darn confusing...


A huge elk herd on the valley floor, coming into town...


click HERE for the full YouTube video

In Telluride, that silver line in the box canyon....


Turns into this, closer up....


And after passing by more critters....


Is this, Bridal Veil Falls, complete with a very old house and hydro-electric power.


Coming back through Telluride, cause for all but the most insane, there are only two ways out of the valley and going west, over Lizard Head, sometimes the clouds get stuck in the Dolores Canyon...


And the light tilts in the old town of Rico...


Where below, Mama and babies can be spotted....


Down canyon and up on the mesa tops, the clouds sometimes sink lower than Mesa Verde....


Sometimes you have to be patient going home...


But once there, our old barn never disappoints, whatever the season, the La Platas in the distance and the setting sun in front of it...


Neither do the wild orchids and sweet peas that faithfully come up every year, whether I remember them or not. 



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8. Churches on the High Road, Santa Fe to Taos...
























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9. "Migration Through Moab" to be part of Durango Art Center's- The Natural World: A Fragile Harmony


"Migration Through Moab"
Fabric Collage

to be part of the Durango Art Center Member's Show

The Natural World: A Fragile Harmony

August 7th- September 19th
Tuesdays- Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Opening Reception
This Friday
August 7th, 5-7 p.m.

802 East Second Ave, Durango, Colorado
970-259-2606

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10. Through The Green Rez to Flagstaff
















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11. The Bike Race That Wasn't To Be...

Mesa Verde Twelve Hour, Mother's Day Weekend 2015, this year the weather won...



















 \             




                






































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12. "Saturday Morning" to be part of Denver's Santa Fe Art District show...


This Friday, in downtown Denver, on historic Santa Fe, everything is going to the dogs, at least at
new exhibit,  Gone To The Dogs, which I have a privilege of being a part of. Those that follow me on Twitter, or Instagram, have seen this piece in process. I plan on getting a post up here, showing the progress, but not before I head over the mountains tomorrow, to take my daughter and mom to the opening night festivities at the gallery. Which will be part of  Santa Fe Art District's Third Friday premier night including many galleries staying open late, hopefully with a wonderful summer evening.

"Gone to the Dogs6"
July 17th- August 22

915 Santa Fe Drive on Denver's Art District of Santa Fe

Gallery Hours:
Wed- Thurs, 1-5 pm
Friday. 1-5 pm
First & Third Friday, 4-8 pm
Sat, 1-4 pm
or by appointment

Opening and Artist' reception: July 17, 5-8 pm
First Friday Art Walk: August 7, 5-8 pm
Third Friday Collector's Night: August 21, 5-8 pm

I will, I will get more up about the process of making "Saturday Morning" but not until after I head over the mountains and take my daughter and mom to the opening reception. If you are around the Denver area, I'd love to see you Friday evening! 


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13. Walking on the wrong side...


I had to drive Daughter #2 into the larger town this morning to be part of a group of high schoolers who would be giving advise to the graduating 8th graders  about what to expect entering as Freshmen in the Fall. All year she has been part of a county wide leadership program, involving the two smaller "villages" and large town's students.

Trying to be efficient, I decided to take the dogs and walk them around the neighborhood of the middle school, waiting for my daughter to get done with her talk and then I could drive her back to her school, located in a much smaller community about ten miles, up the highway.

I often do take the dogs "to town" to walk but had never walked them south of Main. I don't think I will be doing it again, either. All towns have a neighborhood where the property values aren't so high, but the police seem to be called there regularly. It's often referred to as the other side of the tracks. Sometimes its the southern part of town, or in the floodplains or lowlands. The hills and slopes reserved for those with nicer homes where the views are better.

Not even a block from the parking lot of the Middle School, I was greeted by a gauntlet of harassing dogs behind chain link fences and no trespassing signs. I had to hold back my two sizable dogs and zigzag from one side of the street to the other, or walk down the middle of the street. Dogs who never leave their yards are a special kind of crazy. In more than one yard there were three of them barking and rushing the fence, which also contained broken down cars and rubbish. I hurried past an old beat up truck, its cab being used for storage or as a place to sleep, both windows carefully blocked by blue towels from the inside as was the windshield.

I took the first street back up to Main and crossed at the light to the north side, where I spend most of my time, my church, the yoga studio, the soup kitchen and our favorite restaurants all right there. I breathed a sigh of relief and loosened up on the leash I had been holding firm to the last three blocks.

Passing the county offices, I was greeted by smartly dressed assistant DA's, their Oakley sunglasses and mountain bikes atop their SUV hints at what they would be doing on their lunch break or after work. One more block and I turned left to walk down the tree lined median of the boulevard  most towns in the West also have. The dogs, now relaxed, sniffed the grass to discover the paths of the dogs and walkers already past by.  On both sides of the grassy center, cars rolled by at a slow pace and beyond them were cute Victorian and Arts and Craft houses, well kept up, with blooming trees and tulips in their front yards

I often walk the boulevard, much easier then trying to keep two dogs, one blind, on a narrow side walk. But I usually walk it the opposite direction, able to go almost a mile down to the library and park. But this morning, I had to get back around to the Middle School to pick up my daughter. The dogs only had two blocks of grass to sniff, before I led them south again, navigating a horrible intersection of three converging streets, where the neighborhood quickly becomes not so desirable, pressed up against the highway and the edge of town.

Things went okay for a couple of blocks with little traffic, I walked on the edge of the street to avoid the narrow sidewalks again. Then it changed, when at an intersection, I was greeted by a older lady in a old Trans Am. Apparently I was walking right where she needed to park and she intended to push me off the street, slowly rolling towards me, not having the time to wait at the intersection for me to pass by. So facing a car, I pulled the dogs up on to the curb, no sidewalk available there and stepped around some xeriscaping, so she could get settled in her parking place.

Now this all seemed extra humorous to me because all week I have been researching, thanks to you-tube and Gopro-  road rage, that between road biker and cars for a project and then today I get pushed off the road by a car. Let me just say, never take a bike tour of New Zealand and I wouldn't ride a bike in London.

Crossing back to the south side of Main, I walked by a large vacant lot where street vendors sell out of their trucks produce or puppies and a guy has been selling those fuzzy sports logo blankets for years, but lucky it was too early for anyone to set up shop. Next to the lot, a chain link fence cut off a narrow sidewalk and the highway coming into town, from the sports fields of the Middle School. I made my way around, kept the dogs close, impressed with the green growth of the school's Farm to Table program I was passing, neatly in raised beds in front of a greenhouse. One of the many programs in our community that is trying to bridge the gap between the North and South sides. Sadly getting kids excited about real food even has to be done here in such a rural area.

Continuing around the curve of the track field and bleachers, I would soon be right next to the large semitruck making their way up Highway 491, the main  north south thoroughfare in the  Four Corners. The sidewalk was narrow, but at least there was one. Then I noticed the biker, coming towards me, on the sidewalk. Not a road biker, or a recreational biker, but a DUI biker or can't afford a car biker. But still a biker on the sidewalk, who had no intention of riding on the road, next to the semi trucks. Unfortunately he could hardly ride a bike for the way he was rocking this way and that and either did not see me or did not care that well, I was in front of him. So for the second time that day, I got out of the way of an on coming vehicle, but this time, stepped down onto the road and keeping one eye on the large blue semi rushing towards me, maneuvered  around the biker and back up on the sidewalk before the whoosh of the semi passed me by. The look on the bikers face, was either of a man who had never ridden a bike before and was trying to learn or was too hung over to remember how, but I was convinced if I held my ground on the sidewalk he would have hit me or one of the dogs.

Yesterday, I cooked at the soup kitchen. We fed about a 100. The day before at the other church who cooks lunch for the community, they fed 140. If I put too many vegetables and beans in things, I hear about it, If the salad is too fancy I hear about it. If we get fresh herbs donated, I have to use them, because no one else knows what to do with them.  We need the Farm to Table programs schools are offering and we need the leadership programs my daughter is a part of.
Disadvantages economically, socially and in education are part of poverty. But teaching rural kids for almost a decade, working with families through our church and schools, cooking at the soup kitchen I have seen people too often not take the opportunities they could have, seeming to not want to move away from all they know and that is a testament to how strong our heritage, where our families have come from is.  Something I have been pondering after  reading....


reviewed here in the Washington Post

I'm not the only one pondering such things. The large town's school district is on academic suspension, many of the parents driving their children to enroll their children in the two other rural/village  school districts who are doing much better. The latest superintendent took the gloves off in a meeting recently making the conclusion that it appeared to him many parents who remained in district did not want their kids to do better in school, afraid if they did they might leave the area. Farm to Table programs and leadership programs might not be enough?


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14. "Someone has to decide something...."


Saturday, an earthquake hit Nepal, causing massive destruction and loss of life. An avalanche at Everest added to to the death toll, which will not be fully realized until relief help gets to outlining remote villages and recovery efforts in Kathmandu conclude their work. My heart and prayers go out to the people of Nepal.

Oddly, just a day before, on the TED Radio Hour on NPR, the subject was organization after natural disasters and other things and one of the interviews was that of Morgan and Caitria O'Neill, who after a "never happens in Massachusetts" tornado almost leveled their small town, they put their unique skill sets together to organize their community's recovery efforts...



I've talked before about my experience when my grandmother was in the Big Thompson Canyon's 100 year flood, the illustration above was inspired by that and have shared my frustration of being far away when less than forty years later in 2013 the canyons of North Central Colorado experienced a 1000 year flood and here over on the West Slope, I was glued to my laptop to get news of the places and people from my childhood. 

Not that long ago, we were evacuated when a fire burned in the canyon beside our homestead... 

We, along with our neighbors were advise in a briefing at a command post when and if we would have homes to return to and what  support and assistance was available in the meantime.Two years later, driving along the road, or walking in our forest we still will find plastic water bottles, donated along with snicker bars and such from the community, carried by the hotshots in the smoke and heat and dropped to the ground  when empty, Fire fighter and disaster workers are the only ones who I think should not be looked down upon for littering. 

The subject of the last weeks TED Radio Hour, wasn't about Disasters, but about Organizing and something one of the O'Neill's sisters said in the NPR interview hit a chord with me...

"Someone has to decide something..."

In their case, it was two barely twenty year old girls who rushed back to their hometown to help, ended up being "mostly" in charge because, they opened their mouths.

I have that problem too, I often am the one to, well, open my mouth and not be guarded and that trait, good or bad is why now, not even two years on, I'm the head cook of a soup kitchen...



 Caitria and Morgan talked of having to make quick decisions about a variety of things and that is something I often have to do...




What recipe will get rid of the most of our parishable items before they go bad? Based on the weather, the time of month, the time of year, how many patrons will show up today? What to do with the three large boxes of not trimmed and dirty produce which was starting to "bolt" that a local farm brought in a half an hour before lunch has to be ready to serve? How long are we going to stand at the counter and clean and trim the produce before we declare enough and toss the rest and go home and put our feet up after making lunch for a 100 people.
I burned out a $100 plus Cuisinart food processor trying to prep free sweet potatoes to put in the freezer. It is a constant struggle to balance what we have, both that is donated and bought, with the resources and time we have and often I get it wrong... 
I thing therein lies the trait that marks those of us who do start deciding things. We aren't afraid of the sky falling, the world falling off it's axis, or tossing a box of sweet potatoes if we get it wrong. We just move on, well sometime after a silent rant, but  keep making decisions, ready to factor in our mistakes the next time something similar comes along....




And like the O'Neill sisters who were amazed that someone would question if they were even out of high school but than take their orders as gospel, I have been amazed at how willing people, on the average fifteen years older than me, want someone else to make the decisions, even after I try and poll all who are involved, getting the response often that they do not want that responsibility, even if that responsibility is if we should have corn or green beans as a side. 
Now, the opinions and sometimes criticism does come after the fact or during, once the plan is committed to about why we are doing something a certain way. I try to be pleasant and patient but all that depends on how close to noon it is, how long the line is outside and how ready I am to be off my feet. 

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15. When Hipster Wasn't Hip: Mommyhood

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16. Begin Again...


The lack of snow on the distance mountains and the warm temps have confused the trees here in the West...



 It is worrisome when old apricot trees start to bloom as early as they did this year. It is also worrisome when there is no more snow or moisture forecasted when there hardly has been any, even if that means we have apricots.
But, the snow or lack of it, the blooms, along with the green grass, baby cows and chirping birds are far out of our control, Spring, as long as God is willing, is a time that everything begins again.
This spring has stirred several new beginnings for us, or the hints of new beginnings, looking at three universities for both Daughter #1 and #2, one undergraduate and one graduate...
First, we spent some time up in Salt Lake where the blossoms were in full bloom around the State Capitol...


 to look at the University of Utah...


 a beautiful old campus up in the foothills above the city, where pasture was allotted for milk cows, beginning as an institution in 1850, three years before the Salt Lake City Temple's ground breaking. While we were there the Mormon's most important site was surrounded in pink...




Then it was over to the East Slope of Colorado to check out the University of Colorado in Boulder where we enjoyed a tour of the campus, including the Old Main building...


where the entire university was housed when it opened in 1876, the same year as statehood.
Then it was up to Fort Collins where the flower beds were already full of blooming bulbs around the even older campus...

established when Colorado was just a territory, when six local farmers donated land.


Seeing my girls, and friends of my girls...


loving on the horses near Olde Town, Fort Collins, touring campuses and pondering where they want to live, apart from me, is joyous and heartbreaking as a mother. But for new things to begin, other things have to end.
Something that was in my, our control, and signals a very big new beginning for us, our church "called" a new pastor. To clear up confusion, I am actually a "gentile". We and a few dozen families started our church about twelve years ago, we called our first pastor about a decade ago, now we have asked another man to move his family across the country and settled here in the rural West with small children to start a new life and continue to build our church....yikes!
But he is willing and we, the congregation are willing, so if God is willing this will be a good, new beginning for all of us!



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17. Proclaimed at almost 11,000 feet....





"Life wins!" 
Easter, Morning
San Sophia Station
above Telluride, Colorado 


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18. It's Too Early For This Old Apricot Tree....











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19. Apres-Holiday...



Sunday, knowing it was the "last hoorah" for Christmas Break, we took our eleven month old puppy, Piper, up and over the mountain to Telluride for a late lunch and stroll. How many skiers and dogs can you pack onto a gondola? That would be eight, the lady on the end, busy on her cellphone didn't even know Piper was there until we got ready to unload.  I chatted with the mom and daughter across from me the whole way, sharing stories about our dogs and the daughter even bringing her phone out to show me pictures of her beloved "Walt", a great name for her dog back in Houston Texas. Guess that is two ways to use cell phones when you are packed in like sardines with strangers.
Down the ski slope, we strolled around the old mining town of Telluride, now turned posh with many a photo op, like a Christmas tree made out of skis...

Telluride is the epitome of a ski town...



Whatever the season, Telluride is always a dog town...




It is actually against the law to leave your dog in your car in Telluride and there are so many dog fanatics, someone would probably break your window to free the dog before you even got a ticket from the city. 
We often head to Telluride after camping in the mountains nearby and still talk about the time we got yelled at for tying our dogs to the bumper of the truck, while, I emphasize, While....we were stuffing all the camp gear in the cab. A lady yelled at us from another level of the parking structure to tell us it was against the law to do that. Through clenched teeth, we polite told her....well, we clarified what we were doing...
The other thing Telluride is all year long is a bike town, snow and ice on the roads or not... 


The above an example of the well, old way of getting around, think that metal tube is for skis and the new way of fat tire bikes...


Something that has caught my husbands attention, where down on this side of the mountain, three fourths of the year he has his bike out to grab lunch at the market and do the mail and deposit run, But how many bikes do we really need?...

Oh... but those are all skinny tired, you see! 

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20. Review: INTO THE WOODS and a Spot on Impersonation...

                            

We went "through the woods", over some mesas and down into Farmington New Mexico to do some shopping and see INTO THE WOODS, the 1987 Broadway musical turned into a musical movie by Rob Marshall, director and choreographer of many a Broadway musical and of such other films as...

CHICAGO (2002)

 MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA ( 2005)

And was the "pinch" director of the not such a good idea reboot, well actually re-reboot since the first movie was never meant to be the beginning of a trilogy, the Pirates franchise....

(2011)
But we will not hold that against him.

INTO THE WOODS, stars Meryl Streep  as the Witch, Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife and James Corden, known more for TV and Broadway and London stage as the Baker...


Tracey Ullman is Jack's stressed out mother and Daniel Huttlestone is Jack...


who just had to open his mouth, for me to remember him in his last endeavor...

LES MISERABLES (2012)


Broadway darling Likka Crawford stars as Little Red Riding Hood...


So how did I like INTO THE WOODS? It was very Broadway-ish. I liked the score by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim, wonderful songs, especially Meryl Streeps rendition of "Stay With Me". That song could make any mother cry and ponder locking their sweet precious children in a tower to protect them from the world. I was right there with her for a while there.

But what I like best about INTO THE WOODS, well, is Chris Pine's...


spot on impersonation of Captain Kirk...


 Captain Kirk, who is played by William Shatner, but Captain Kirk playing the role of Prince Charming...

still giggling...



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21. Cooking Up A Bounty...


About a year ago I realized I was, though happily working away in the studio, spending a little bit too much time with these guys...

and not enough time with real people... not internet people but real flesh and blood people, so the solution?
I decided to volunteer at one of our local soup kitchens. It would be great, one day a week, I'd go in, help cook up a meal and be back to the studio for a half a day of work. Well....


A year later, I am now the official food coordinator and one of the head cooks. What does that mean?
I now have to be very careful how much time I do spend away from the dogs and the studio. About once a month, I commandeer someone, my kiddos... 

                  

or husband to make a hour and half to Farmington New Mexico, where there is a Sam's club to do the shopping for the soup kitchen...




literally a more than one person job.

Like most soup kitchens, we are part of a larger charitable food bank network and get almost all of our meat and other goods donated by our local grocery stores...


And since we are right on the edge of the "bean capital of the world"...



we have beans, lots of beans. The below, called Anasazi...



found dried in ruins like these,...


but propagated and now grown and sold in local grocery stores.

We also get much our produce from regional growers, sometimes having to process pallets and pallets of onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes and sometimes things like exotic peppers...

                 

Being a small town, with limited services, but high poverty both in the white, Hispanic and Native American populations, it's great when we all work together, the soup kitchens, the food pantry and the shelters.

It's a treat when local growers share their bounties, and they did often this Fall...





The end result?

              

Well last week, a hearty beef stew with Colorado grown potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots plus corn and green beans with a heart gravy for 130 people. And as the warm bowls filled the bellies of those who needed a good meal on a snowy January, I felt the same satisfactions I get in the studio when I am pleased with completing a piece of art....hum? Maybe I'm not as far away from the studio on the days I'm away from the studio? 


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22. So, I Wrote A Book...



So I wrote a book, read about that here, over a ten year period, with a lot of starts and stops, a lot of do overs and motivation from both people being very encouraging and well a few not so much, but being the last born child that  I am, the nay sayers often can motivate me more just to prove them wrong.
And I "got err done"...
But now what?
Well, the conventional way would be to start looking for an agent, since 99% of the big top publishers in New York only take manuscript through their relationships with agents. I have been learning the ropes of publishing for enough years to know that finding an agent could take a writer several years....yup, several years and within that time, long periods of nothingness while agents are "thinking". It is not uncommon for an agent to ask to hold on to something for several months and then say "no thanks," in the end.
Way back, about four years ago, when I thought I was writing a Young Adult  trilogy, I took the first part of  Moonflower to LA for the SCBWI conference...


I know it is a hardship, a week on the edge of Beverly Hills, but I did meet with a New York agent who really liked it, but thought that although the main character, Luna is only eighteen at the end book, the story was too complicated to be a YA and encouraged me to write it as a complete story instead of a trilogy.
Seeing her point, I came home to this...

and went back to the keyboard and wrote another, oh, 60,000 words and tried the whole agent thing again, but this time in the "adult" or general market, polishing the first 25 pages, synopsis and cover letters to hook an agent in the querying process. Did I mention I have friends who have  been "querying" for several years on manuscripts that I think are rather good myself!
So, after pursuing the very helpful blogs, books and online sights that teach you the process, I tried to do step number one....and that is where I got stuck.
The most common advice is to make a list of about 30-50 agents, prioritize them and send out about 5 queries, sending more out when the rejections started coming in, keeping about 5 out there at all times.
Well, I sent out 9 queries, and sent them to probably the 8 top agents in New York, and 1 to the top agency in London....and I got form emails of "not thanks" from about 6 and have not heard from the rest.
Then I decided to get off that train, for several reasons, most of them too personal to really be advice for anyone else, but here they are...
You see many agents in their previous lives were attorneys and several more, well, in their bios they actually debated about a career in law or a career in publishing. Which makes a lot of sense, both paths needing the skills for negotiating and navigating all that "heady stuff".
Why did that matter to me?
Because I am married to an attorney and the thought of "getting in bed" with another one, many of those advice sites talk about the very close relationship writers and their agents have being second only to marriage, well, that was not very appealing to me. One attorney, no matter how cute he is, is enough for me...

Secondly, in my perusing of agents bios and what they did and did not want to look at, I was amazed at how often the New York agents would declare "no Westerns"...


Now, I live about as Far West as you can get and while I would not describe my stories as in the same vein as Louis L'Amour or Zane Grey, they are definitely set in the West and I actually like westerns and if I am not technically writing in that classic genre, it is definitely part of my writing  DNA.
So by this time, New York publishers weren't looking so good.
Next on the list, well how about a regional publisher? One situated in the West and no agent needed, writers working directly with the editors. After perusing about ten of those, University Presses and etc. , I found almost all only published nonfiction and the few that published fiction, were so narrow, it would be hard to work with them.
So, now what? Self Publish?
Self Publishing, or what has now morphed into the term, "Independent Publishing", is certainly the talk and as I mentioned above there are now a whole lot of helpful sites, organization and books that will tell you how to do about everything you don't know how to do and helpful freelance editors, writing coaches and book designers willing to do everything for you...for a hefty fees of course.
Should I just jump on that train?
Did I mention I was a last born child, an artist and a little bit rebellious?
Did I mention my husband was an attorney and could do all that negotiating stuff. He is also a pretty good editor. My papers in college went from B's to A's after he got his hands on them.
As I mentioned, my true profession is as an illustrator and well cover design is really a close cousin as is web design and well all other design.
So, after getting him on board, we decided to start our own regional publishing company, cause our kids were almost raised and well, it was getting a little bit boring...
That was last summer and life has been nothing but boring... read here, but we are holding onto this new crazy idea and Moonflower will be our first offering, our "guinea pig" child, you know the first one, you are still learning on and make all the mistakes with.
Then...well, I have more stories in me and there are a whole lot more stories here relevant to the Four Corners and the Inter-mountain West, both fiction and nonfiction that I know others are writing and I know a few other people who have skills like a retiring elementary teacher who has about thirty years experience in Children's literature and teaching kids to read and even one friend who actual has a degree in linguistics, all close cousins to the jobs we might need help with.
So, I wrote a book and now we are starting a publishing company...


cause we are nuts!








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23. Adobe's Photoshop turns 25...


I graduated from Art School the year Photoshop came on the market....hum, talk about bad timing. When I was in college the new technology was not in the Art Department, it was in the computer labs with the word processors and printers, only a few odd ducks had desk top computers of their own and
I do remember the cold lonely, food and drink free labs late a night when a paper was due the next day.
In the Art Department, we were still being taught layout with graph paper, rulers, T squares and those rub off letters. In the dark rooms? Well, I still have a really cool black and white photo of my roommate standing in a cereal box, a masking matte cut out of card stock to block the light. It all took a little luck, or a lot of paper to get it right.
Back then the debate of computer generated art was much of a discussion, or the evilness of it and the cheating of it. How wrong we got that should be a reminder not to predict the future because most of us are really bad at it. I do think paper and pencil, figure drawing and learning observation are still the foundation of any art program, digital or not...


I graduated in 1990 with a BA in Art and an emphasis in Child Development, going into college intent on getting an Art Therapy degree and then meandering to Tennessee to get my masters. I left college in love and followed a boy to Denver where he was attending law school.
We were married his second year at Denver University and I taught preschool. I could have continued in my studies, checked into the Colorado Institute of Art where I am sure everyone was becoming very much aware of what exactly Photoshop was and good do, but I didn't. I wanted one thing, to get my husband through law school, move back to the West Slope and start having babies...


Which we did and all the while I was developing my craft, alone, no internet, no social media and ignorant of what was happening in the digital world of Adobe and computer generated art and was blissfully happy...
Then...

My girls got older and I found my voice as an artist in fabric collage illustration and what do you do as a freelancer to get your name and your services out to art director? Well according to my schooling, that would be sourcebooks, yeah I know. I really knew then too, but so remembered my instructor holding up a copy of The Black Book and it becoming in my mind a testament to truly making it as an illustrator.
So in 2008, I laid out a few thousand dollars to advertise not in the Black Book, way way out of my price range, but in the Graphic Artist's Guilds Directory of Illustration...


The same time, I also shucked out a couple more thousand dollars to go to the Society of Children's Books Writers and Illustrator's LA conference....


Yup, 2008, the year most would say was the start of the "economic down turn." It sounded that way, sitting in the grand ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel, listening to the publishers from New York try to put a good face on the layoff and restructuring the New York power houses were going through at the same time poo poo this new idea of independent publishing.
Yeah...late to the party again.

But I took the jump. I was a decent photographer and had already made the switch to digital, but had never edited a photograph and  had no way to lay it out and design an ad. So I called the people at the directory who kindly told me they could do it, for almost the price of buying Photoshop. I bought Photoshop and had a month to learn how to use it and make a decent ad, the deadline looming...
Luckily an artist friend told me about lynda.com...


Lynda, well actually Deke McClelland became my best bud, me intently watching and listening to his CS3 One -on One class, over and over again.
Good or bad, I got it done...


putting ads in #26 and #27 the following years and at least once in PictureBook, more for nostalgia.
What did I get for a whole heck of a lot of money spent? Well, definitely did not make my cost back by the dollar. It is hard to say if it was the source books, my website or postcards, but National Public Radio found me...

As did Cricket Magazine Group...


Plus an art director in New York whose firm only worked for Broadway. I was considered by a few publishers and art reps, all intrigued but in the end not all interested enough or with not a firm enough idea what to do with me, I pretty much invented or brought to illustration a new medium, as I like to say, putting a new spin on the traditional art form of applique and needlework. One art buyer I chatted with said it was not unusual for those of us with very unique styles to not get a lot of work, but the work we do get is big and that has definitely been my experience.
And through it all, I kept learning Photoshop, mostly by discovery new ways to do things in the process and I kept using the CS3 version, it more than enough to meet my needs of photo editing and simple layout. Until...
Until, I decided to take my destiny in my own hands, instead of finding someone else to give it to and started a publishing company...


Read here, to find out about my days writing a novel as well, in those quiet years of being a stay at home mom.
Now,  I've going back to Adobe again, knowing I would be needing its software and this time subscribed to the Creative Cloud and not only updated my Photoshop, but download Illustrator and InDesign as well.
And I went back to my old friend, lynda.com to learn what I need to and again, not with all the time on my hands, but with deadlines looming of bookcover design and such..


This time I think I managed to be on the front wave of something new, the new era of publishing where those of us looking out on canyons and isolated roads...


can compete with the best of them in the skyscrapers of New York and LA...


or at least tell our stories, the one they are not interested in, just as well.

So Happy Birthday Photoshop...
and thank you Adobe, for invented something that has allowed me to live where I want...

and do what I love...





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24. Back to Art....


Of course the year that winter has taken its sweet time arriving...



I had little traveling to do, except for a week long trip over to the Front Range, loving the dusting of snow around the La Sals in Utah...



So being mostly home,  I have fallen into a bit of a routine, writing and book things in the morning and art in the afternoon and weekends. I have done it enough to find that I definitely need the stitching to stay sane. I decided to tackle a fabric collage idea I have had for a long time, more for my own walls or a gallery show than for a illustration portfolio piece,..


Saturday Morning is somewhat of a family self portrait, thought the faces have been changed and my hair has never been as full and long as I stitched it,  but it's for the most part our bedroom and our dogs and definitely what Saturday mornings looked like when my kiddos were little and we were desperately trying to get a few more minutes sleep before they and the dogs, well, had other ideas. 


Started laying things down and stitched most of the background before tackling the bed, limiting how many layers you have to stitch through is always a challenge, as is working with such small bits of fabric that with over working start to disintegrate....


Hands and faces are always a challenge, and sometimes the best thing is to just start over...


Late February, the snow decided to start falling...




and Saturday Morning is progressing...




So, if I let sleeping dogs lie where they are, the rest of the winter...


sorry, it was so cute of a picture. If I keep at my schedule the rest of the winter, into the big melt, Saturday Morning, should be done soon, except for the question of home much needlework I do on it.

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25. Peeking at the Past...


The first step to writing a novel is building a world and  in historical fiction it is more like having to recreate  a time and place that actually existed, a mighty undertaking. I love using photographs for my construction of Moonflower and I found a treasure trove in the Farm Security Administration photo archives from the Library of Congress. Taken during the depression and the war years and including much more  than Dorothea Lange's iconic images of a mother and her children...


Read this post from Yale's Photogrammar for why such wonderful photogrpahs were part of FDR's New Deal, but thank the powers that be that someone did document this hard time in our nation's history. 
The whole archive is on the Library of Congress site, but its is hard to navigate, best viewing is probably Google Images, here.

I could go on, well, I could go on with some kind of "words", but I won't just really look at the few below or in your own searching, of the fathers and mothers, the shacks and the dirty kids, the attempts to keep a sense of pride and the ones who gave up....these photos don't need words...







                             



But in writing Moonflower, I learned much from them, what was on the sparsest of diner tables, how long has Mircle Whip, a family favorite, been around, how men crouched in conversation, what they wore when they worked the farm. Apparantly, according to my mother, the reason men wore their overalls cuffed at the bottoms was to collect the ash from their cigarettes. Yup, my grandfather knocked his cigarette ash into the cuff of his overalls and it was a horrid thing if my mother or grandmother forgot to shake the ash out before washing the clothes. Can you imagine? I would have loved to include that in Moonflower, but the religious fundamentalists in the Four Corners definitely did not smoke and it just seemed out of character for Josh, ( whose Josh? read here).
My grandfather was also a dairy farmer and my mom was a little girl in the area of Moonflower, so much was learned from her stories of my grandpa in the dairy barn, with the strength to lift a container of milk into the separator with one hand and his tendency to talk naps hidden away in the hay.
My family did not have to move off their farms in the depression. They are not from the Four Corners there is no polygamy in our history, but my great grandparents really really liked each other and my grandmother was one of thirteen children with six brothers and I have always heard stories of when they were boys....


and worked the Minnesota farm with their dad...




Sadly, I knew many of  my great uncles longer than I knew my grandfather, who died when I was four, but my childhood was full of trips back to my grandmother's brothers' and my grandfather's brother's farms.
For Moonflower, I decided that one of the universal truths I was going to hold on to was, big families are big families whether they are big because your father has four wives or because your Danish great grandmother and grandfather were really nuts about each other, sibling dynamics are probably very similar. One thing my grandmother would always say was, " don't kid yourself, the older children raised the younger."
One oddity I did copy from my family was my great uncle Harry, my grandmother's oldest brother was the same age as his uncle, my great, great grandmother's youngest son. In the book, mother and daughter overlap having babies...
Even family pictures from the sixties, have proven to be helpful, my great uncles and grandfather helping fix up a old cabin in the foothills near Boulder with my dad, a cabin about the same age as the era of the forties of  my story....









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