Dear Family and Friends,
April 21, 2003
The window of my “office” looks to the east and south.
I mention that only because it’s easy to be distracted by what’s outside,
and today is no exception. There are a few white cottony clouds against
a deep blue sky. The sun is sparkling the snow that fell last night. It covers
the ground and hangs on the pine branches like marshmallows. There is enough
that the lumps of snow on the evergreens melt and fall in clumps at random
times, and the snow on the bedroom deck above me is melting on the bird
feeder. The house is warm from the sun and we’ve made no fire today, and
we probably won’t need one this evening.
It’s all the more beautiful when we remember we are
recovering from the biggest snowfall in 90 years—well over six feet—that
held us captive for over a week, two of those days without power and sometimes
phone service. It began on the afternoon of St. Patrick’s Day (Monday) and
snowed continuously for about 50 hours. We set a yardstick up in the backyard,
but it was out of sight Tuesday morning. Our 5' metal sculpture, “Diva,”
(on the right) was half buried by Tuesday morning and completely buried
by Tuesday afternoon. We burned plenty of wood during the week “inside,”
so much, in fact, that I needed to dig out the maul I use to split wood since
I had only too-large logs left to burn (another example of not really being
well prepared!) If we’d been smarter, we would also have left a car at the
fire station up on Ridge Road so we could at least get our own groceries
when the milk ran low.
We did snowshoe out just to see what the paved road
was like and who might be traveling. Of course there was no mail delivery
during that time.
In fact, as you can see, the mailboxes were pretty well covered up until
we dug them out. Even so, the delivery person didn’t count on everyone doing
this, so he didn’t even bother to come for a week and a half. The paper came
after about the third day, but it just got tossed in driveways. Some folks
got out sooner than others depending upon their plow service, how far they
were from the paved road, and how anxious they were to get someplace.
There were not many reports of damage (except to trees)
resulting from the storm, although friends of ours lost the roof of the garage
they just had built this past fall, damaging their cars and motorcycles inside.
The worst disaster was the collapse the roof of the Community Center (built
in 1931) which fell on the gym, multipurpose room, and a large
storage area used by the library to process and store books. The damage endangered
the whole east half of the building, closing down the senior meal site, the
theater, and forcing the library and a small private outdoor education school
to relocate to the west wing of the building which was not affected by weight
of the snow. The rubble has been cleared away and the town is trying to
decide whether to raze the building and start over (unlikely; we don’t have
that kind of money) or how to remodel. It was one of the worst outcomes of
A month later, much of the snow remains, and the 4" we got
last night covered the ground that had begun to show. Still, it’s a
beautiful scene outside and in spite of the outside temperatures (upper 30s)
we are snug inside (low 70s, thanks to the glorious sun!).
This past winter was, of course, not all cold and
snow. In fact, like the past few years, we began to worry about the drought
that threatens summer fires. It never got really cold and there hadn’t been
a great deal of snow. Judy and I worked with the Chamber through the first
couple of months in preparation for the 2nd
Dead Guy Days in early March. You can read all about the event, who got frozen
and where and why on
the Chamber web site. Unlike my false bravado a year ago, I didn’t jump
or even go near the hole in the ice. Judy, however, was alongside the hole
in her dry suit along with other Fire Department members to assist those
who made frozen spectacles of themselves. From the warmth of the Visitors
Center I sold hats, T-shirts, posters, programs, bumper stickers, and other
Frozen Dead Guy Days gear for the Chamber. (You can see the merchandise
and order it from the Chamber web site.) We had lots of regional and national
publicity (our daughter read about it in the Boston Globe), and
attendance was about double of last year’s number.
The budget for this and the other events the Chamber
sponsors has, along with Visitor Center sales, has pushed the Chamber budget
into six figures and made the bookkeeping more complex than it was when
Judy volunteered nearly five years ago to be the Treasurer for the Chamber.
Then all she had to do was pay the bills, balance the checkbook, and pay
quarterly sales taxes. She realized she was working an unpaid part-time job that
was beyond her desire to continue. As of the end of March, she is the ex-Treasurer.
She continues to volunteer at the Visitors Center as I do. The four hours
of meeting and talking with people is great fun and the
“job” is over when she leaves at the end of her shift.
In addition to working with the Chamber, she is still
Captain Judy for the Nederland Fire Department, though a stress fracture in her
pelvis placed her on medical leave for a couple of months and curtailed her running
routine. She’s slowly getting back to it. She also began to cross-country
ski in the past two months and is looking forward to hiking with the same friend
she skis with. But she probably won’t defend her Bolder Boulder 12-race
win streak next month.
I continue to work to improve our “golden years”
lifestyle by serving on the Boulder County Aging Advisory Council: our main job is to
advise the County on how to spend the funds the county receives from the
Older Americans Act and the Older Coloradans Act. At the same time, I’m currently
President of the Aging Services Foundation Serving Boulder County, a non-profit
created to raise funds to make up the difference between what the feds and the state
provide the county and the actual needs of a growing older population in the county.
Imagine a graph with one line heading sharply up to the right—that’s
the number of people who are +65 in the county—and a line from the upper
left corner heading down and to the right: that’s the income from state and
federal agencies that support folks 65 and older. Things like senior meal
sites, transportation for the frail and isolated, medicare and medicaid,
care giving and respite care, legal services, etc. etc. If you never need
any of these services, you’re fortunate; if you do, or know people who depend
upon such programs, then you know how vital is it to have the funds to continue
I read recently of the impact of our economy on public
libraries; in Ohio alone
two-thirds of the 250 public libraries are in danger of closing for lack
of funds. I suspect that other programs that depend on public support are equally
jeopardized, especially those that affect those who can’t vote (e.g., programs that
support children’s services) and those who are politically disenfranchised or
chronically ignored (the poor, single mothers, and others who are, as some
say scornfully, “on the dole.”
Judy and I both “celebrated” our birthdays in March.
We’d nothing planned, but others had plans for us. Michael and Cindy invited
us to dinner at an Irish pub in Boulder, which was very nice. On the way
back to our car they insisted on walking with us, which we thought was a bit
strange. They walked us past the
where there was an Irish cabaret show performing. As we walked by they asked how
we’d like to see it. As it turns out, they had reservations for the show and
had timed dinner just right so that we would be at the theater in time for
the start of the show.
And if that were not enough, a day or so later we got
a note from the Flagstaff
House, Boulder’s premier and schnitziest restaurant saying that Debra
and Dan had made arrangements for us to dine there. We’ll wait for a warm,
clear evening and get out the fancy dress, and a tie and jacket to look
as though we fit in.
Before the big storm we did some traveling. Our family trip this year,
one of the best
we’ve had, was to Belize: both to the area of the western border with Guatemala and
four days later to the Caribbean. Everyone seemed to find the days in the jungle exciting,
exotic, interesting, and a new experience. The days on Ambergis Caye were like other
“beach” vacations: great diving and snorkeling, and very relaxing. You can
find out more about the family trip or the
Elderhostel trip Judy and I took to Belize
in 2000. We enjoy the country and the people and highly recommend Belize for travel.
Two weeks after the storm, we spent a week in Sedona (Arizona)
with Michael and Cindy. We’d been there last
year on our own and really loved the scenery, the hiking and mountain biking. We took
our bikes again and spent two days on a few of the many bike trails in the area. We also took
several short hikes (nothing longer than four miles) on some of the over 100 hiking trails in
the area. The weather was chilly the first day, but warmed the rest of the week to the 70s.
We visited Jerome
again, relaxed at the pool and outdoor hot tub, read several books each, and, of course nightly
rounds of Shanghai rummy.
At the end of this month we’re headed for Scottsdale and a week of
hiking in Tonto National Forest and the
Mountains, visits to the Heard Museum
and Frank Lloyd
Wright’s Taliesin West. When I was in high school, our Rockhound Club
took a spring trip to visit the copper mines in Miami and Globe; I’d like
to go back. If we played golf we’d be in heaven, but we don’t. So we’ll
take the bikes and hike for our exercise. And several books each I’m sure.
Those are the highlights of the winter. The day to
day stuff doesn’t make it on the calendar so it’s hard to remember everything.
I didn’t mention the two book clubs we belong to; or the young woman who
gives us our periodic massages, the one who can bend steel in her bare hands
as well as can reach way down to work out the kinks in the muscles that lie
knotted deep beneath the skin; the neighborhood friends dinner group we look
forward to each month (next Saturday it’s Greek!); or the weekly hikes or
skiing that Judy plans on Fridays with her friend Betsy; or the pure joy
Bella and Sophie give to us both. Life would be pretty quiet without them.
We might never know if a bear or deer or elk or coyote or fox or a bobcat
is walking through the yard.
Our lives are pretty routine, I suppose, like most
folks’. They may be just a bit different—as yours are from everyone else.
But we live in their mountains, and that makes the difference.