April 2, 2006
Dear Family and Friends,
We got a phone call last weekend from an Ohio friend
with whom we hadn’t talked in a long time. He had some good news to
tell us, but had wanted first to get up to date on our latest news on our
web site before calling. He was surprised (maybe disappointed?) that our
most recent newsletter was from last year. What, he asked, had we been doing
this winter? That’s when we knew it was time to get a new newsletter
written and posted before we lost track of the past three months.
• Time Flies. We
are approaching the end of our 14th year in Colorado and our 16th year of
retirement! It’s hard for us to believe. We realize since moving out
here the years have passed very quickly—we think because we’ve
been having a good time since leaving Ohio. Each year we feel blessed and
lucky to have found such a beautiful place to live, made good friends, enjoy
activities that do more than simply “keep us busy,” and try to
contribute to our new community. Plus we’ve the time and resources to
experience new adventures we’d probably never thought of before. We
hope our children and grandchildren will be able to live out full and
rewarding lives as we think we are.
Jack Ahern, my good friend and colleague (still living in Ohio
and loving it!?) last year sent me an “essay”
he had written on the subject of retirement. I’ve given copies of if to
several friends out here who are recently retired or looking at the prospects, all
of whom have praised it for Jack’s insights, suggestions, attitude, and his
subtle blend of pragmatism and romanticism. I like to think we are living up
to his goals by trying new things, relishing the small things, being observant,
continuing to learn, and keeping our sense of humor. I’d add Sunday
crosswords and daily sudokus.
• Winter Weather. You
can’t predict winters in our mountains. Some days this winter were warmer
than most of California, and other times we were colder than Fargo or Billings.
Though some parts of the state have had hundreds of inches of snow (badly needed
to alleviate the terrible drought conditions and to help ease the fire danger
that still exists statewide), the past three months in our area will be remembered
for the nearly constant high winds that at times were oppressive.
We lost quite a few healthy trees and grit landed everywhere. The
noise from the winds seemed constant, especially at night. Two
instances will be long remembered:
1. Orange Snow.
One February day we had received a few inches of snow and when it stopped, our
“yard” looked as though someone had sprinkled cinnamon everywhere.
And it was not just around our house. A friend of ours who is a meteorologist
for NCAR in Boulder explained that desert dust from New Mexico or Arizona was
blown our way at the time of the snow and fell in a few isolated areas, one of
which was Nederland.
2. Big Winds. I was in Boulder
recently doing an hour bike ride while Judy was running. I’d planned to go
out and back for about 30 minutes each way. It was smooth riding going out to the
north and east, but the return trip took over an hour riding against winds that
were later reported to approach 65 mph. It was so fierce that I couldn’t go
much faster than 1-2 miles an hour and was in danger of being blown into highway
traffic. I walked the bike a few times. Judy’s running time was not up to
• Winter Activity/Fitness.
We had no travel plans for the winter, so we took advantage of the local fitness
center’s winter promotion. We started 3-days a week aerobics and simple weight
classes in November and continued through most of the winter. Though I am not a
“gym guy,” the exercise classes got me through the usual period of winter
weight gain without gaining this year. Judy skied periodically until early March and
now has joined a serious training group in Boulder, the
Boulder Striders, led by
the same group of Olympians she trained with last year trying to shave a few more minutes
off her 10K time. In February she competed in the
National Cross Country Championships in New York (Van Cortland Park in
the upper Bronx) and took bronze; her team (women 60+) took gold. That’s the team
pictured above; all six received team championship medals and age group winners received
an individual medal. The local paper did a nice article on her and folks who knew she
ran seemed impressed with her new “national profile.”
We spent a great cross-country ski weekend at
Snow Mountain Ranch
on the other side of the continental divide from us near Granby. The facility owns hundreds
of acres of flat groomed trails in a beautiful area of the state, as you can see from the
photo on the right. Judy went for an all-day women’s skate ski class, so I went off by
myself to follow the parallel tracks wherever the trail led me. (The photo is looking east.
Nederland is just on the other side of those snow capped peaks.)
I’m currently beginning training for a second attempt to complete the
Trail Ride in a few weeks: five days from Fruita (CO) to Moab (UT) along the Colorado
River. Two years ago, the guys I went with aborted after three days. They promise to do the
entire route this year.
In addition, I landed a spot in the
“Ride the Rockies,” an
annual statewide event limited to 2000 riders drawn by lottery. The route changes each year: the
2006 event is a 419-mile ride (on paved roads) along the southern part of the state from Cortez
to Durango and Alamosa (via Chama, New Mexico), then north to Salida and ending in Canon City 5
days later. A day’s ride varies from 48–87 miles with elevation gains from
1,600'–4,300'. It’s one of the less challenging courses I’ve seen for this
event. I’ll find out how challenging this June.
• Winter Project. Now that we have
stopped using our film cameras and gone completely digital, like others we have the question
of what to do with all the slides we’ve accumulated over the years. We have at least
5,000 slides that start in 1961 and continue through the early 1980s when we went to prints
rather than slides. We also have early family photos from our parents and grandparents that
deserve rescue from fading, folding, and cracking. (The photo on the left is of me with my
mother and sister Pam about 1943-44.)
The project is easy, but time consuming: purchase a good scanner, scan the
slides, create digital images, and transfer each image to CDs, dispose of the slide carousels,
and pack the slides in small boxes (and the old black and white photos in safe storage) for
“posterity.” Then send copies to the kids. During most of January and February,
I’ve spent a little bit of time most every day making my way through the
1960s—nearly 2,000 slides—and still have the 1970s and part of the 1980s to go.
While the process is tedious, I’ve had a walk through time, seeing our family and our
friends change and grow, remembering family and friends no longer with us, watching hair and
clothing styles change, and seeing places we have lived and visited in our first ten years of
marriage. What a trip! And there’s more to do—I may be done by the end of the year.
• Culture in the Mountains.
We continue with our book clubs—Judy’s is literary, mine is mysteries. (Judy really
enjoyed Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje from her group selections. She’s also
liked A Million Little Pieces and My Friend Leonard, both by James Frey, and David
Guterson’s East of the Mountains. She’s currently laughing out loud at John
Grogan’s bestseller Marley and Me. Highly recommended mysteries from this winter are
Reginald Hill’s On Beulah Height and Cabinet of Curiosities by Preston and
Child.) We’ve watched a few more movies than usual (loved “March of the Penguins,”
yawned through “What the Bleep...?” didn’t move through “Constant Gardener”
in spite of some criticism that it was “too long.”) We marveled at James Galway in concert
with his wife (also a flutist) and the Polish Chamber Orchestra, and we enjoyed our first visit to the
Cowboy Poetry Gathering
in Arvada (suburb of Denver). We heard great performers and musicians—we didn’t know what
we’d missed all these years).
I’ve been playing music (Celtic and bluegrass) weekly with four other locals
in a group we call McGinty’s Wake: a fiddle player, a fellow who doubles on banjo and mandolin,
his wife who plays string bass, and another guitar player. I get to play the penny whistle occasionally
along with guitar. We began last fall getting together just for our own amusement, but decided we might
be good enough to “come out.” We played publicly last December at Nederland’s Holiday
Fair and, most recently, for a local contra dance. (Judy went to be sure there was a decent crowd and
danced more that evening than she has in the past 20 years!) Some of us are talking boldly of performing
a few days this summer on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder “for beer money.”
• Looking Ahead.
Pasqueflowers and columbines are emerging, we’ve seen flickers who have migrated back from
wherever they winter, and the hummingbirds should arrive from Mexico in a couple of weeks. We’re
sitting outside on the patio more often, and the days here have reached the 60 degree mark. We know
real spring doesn’t arrive until mid-June, but there are signs and we have our hopes.
We look ahead toward what we try to do best: traveling. We are invited to attend
the wedding of our neighbors in Puerto Vallarta in May and we’ll spend a week in Sedona with
Judy’s high school girlfriend and spouse in June. Our “big” trip this year will
be an extended stay in western Ireland in July. After that, we’re looking forward to
visitors—often. We hope you’ll be among them.
All good wishes to you. If you have a minute, drop us a note and let us know what
you’re up to. We’d love to hear from you.