April 5, 2001
Dear Family and Friends,

Weather and Wildlife
        It seems strange to say this, but this winter in the Rockies hasn’t seemed like much of a winter. I can’t remember a night below zero. We haven’t burned much wood. We haven’t had a snow that was over six inches (and then only a couple of times), and most of the time we’ve had dirt showing in our back yard and around the house. March, usually our snowiest month (averaging about 26°), seemed uncharacteristically dry and gray, once or twice reminiscent of Ohio winters (Ouch!) We still have April ahead of us and it usually is nearly as snowy as March, so most of the flowers know not to come up yet. Pasqueflowers, our first wildflowers of the year, are indeed in bloom and the daffodils have just broken through, but the snow shovels still stand ready. We’d better get a good helping because if we don’t, the fire season could really heat up around here.
        On the other hand, the bears are waking up. The first ones of the season have been spotted in some folks’ garbage just a few miles from here. Deer, coyotes, and foxes also have been unusually visible, almost brazen, coming through our back area looking for grass, mice, squirrels, or rabbits. We see a greater variety of birds and more of them, and the squirrels and chippies are very busy looking for things to eat. Area dogs go slightly crazy every now and then, so we know there are forest animals moving through. We’ve not seen any elk yet, but they’re out there somewhere.
        So much for the weather and wildlife report.

        Our trip to Costa Rica in January came almost too soon this year, though we did enjoy the diversity of the country, including the Arenal Volcano (pictured on the right) that erupted/rumbled and spewed a bit of lava four times while we walked and biked around the base of it. We have a grand trip planned for late June: to Peru, floating the Amazon and hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. In between is a nearly six month stretch in Nederland. That’s a long time for me, though fine for Judy who prefers less travel and more home time. We canceled a trip to the Caribbean we had planned for March and we’re instead hoping to take a short car trip in April just to break things up a bit. I have a strong need to “get away” every now and then. Even a 4-6 day car trip getaway would provide some relief from what has been an intense period of work with planning the Library here in Nederland.

Ohio State Conference
        My annual trip to the children’s literature conference at Ohio State/Columbus this year was my last one. The three days were enriched by an evening with Dick Sanders from the Toledo area who came down to see me and his daughter who is a student at OSU. We’ve seen each other almost every year since we moved, either in Ohio or on their visits out here. It was fun, and I’ll miss that. But after 15 years of “working” the conference, I thought it might be time for some new blood, new energy, a new face and maybe even a new format for the storytelling portion of their program. I’ve met and heard a terrific storyteller there the past two years who I’m sure will do a great job, and do it his way. While I will miss seeing the people who come to the conference year after year (as well as the friends at OSU who put it on), I felt like I should have been here instead, working on the library or something else local. So, another connection with Ohio has disappeared and our roots here/home/Nederland are growing deeper.
        We were reminded of how our lives since retirement and moving here have changed us when we had a very brief visit with a former Ohio neighbor, Chuck Hodge, in February. He was as easy to be with (as always); it was as though we had seen him just last week. But we both recognized how our lives had gone in different directions: he with his and Anne’s jobs in Ohio and their family spread out along the east coast, and us out here. We welcomed the visit and hope he and others from the old neighborhood will come calling in the future. In fact, we’re looking forward to other former Ohio neighbors who are planning a visit in July.

Nederland Community Library
        Speaking of the Library: While there is so much that we’ve accomplished in getting donations and grants, hiring a good Library Director, making decisions about the collection and internet use, etc., there’s still a mountain remaining to be climbed before we open on April 23. My role as Chair of the Library Board has involved everything from planning meetings to picking up book donations around town and in Boulder, plus I also write weekly articles about library issues for the Nederland paper in order to keep the interest of the public in the library as a community resource. The monthly meetings of the Board have stretched from the agreed upon two hours to over three as the opening date nears; there is so much to discuss, plan, and resolve. Some days I’ve felt almost—not quite, but almost—like I had a job again. If you have any interest at all in the process, it’s all on our web site: minutes of meetings, newspaper articles, policies, biographical sketches of our librarian and board members, donors and contributors, etc.
        Our son Michael volunteered last November to be our webmaster. Thank goodness. We’re obliged by state library law to have a web presence, and I don’t how we’d have done it without him. He’s created a terrific site that’s very easy to navigate, updated weekly, and he’s provided many very useful links. He volunteered, he said, because he wanted practice managing a web site in addition to this one he created where Judy and I have our pages. (This is not something he does for a living, nor has he had courses or training. He’s learned “how to” on his own.) He’s been great for us/me to work with and he’s gotten a lot of great comments from the Board members and others who know he’s in charge.
        In the process of creating the library, I’ve been able to find the perfect place for my children’s book collection I’ve been amassing for the past 30 years: nearly 2000 books, not counting the pop-up books, alphabet books, autographed books, and some antique books which I’m not ready to give up. (In the end, I’ll probably sell them for the money to add to the collection.) I’ve wondered for some years what would be the best thing to do with the collection, and it feels “right” that they should find a home here. I know they’ll be appreciated.

Dog Training
        Judy has not been unusually busy with the fire department this winter, so she has turned a good deal of attention to dog training. Bella, who is not yet a year old, has graduated from beginning puppy training classes at the Humane Society in Boulder (and has a diploma to prove it!). She starts an “advanced beginners” class later this month. Sophie also has been taking obedience training, plus agility training (jumping fences, running through tunnels, over hurdles, etc.) which has been mostly for the fun of it. The dogs seem to enjoy it (I know Judy does), but truthfully, more wonderful than their responsiveness to commands (which is still a bit uneven and sometimes unpredictable) is the joy of watching them be together. (As you can see by the picture on the right, Bella [top left] and Sophie [right] had company this winter: Yvonne and Dan Runyan’s Lucy [middle] and Max [between Judy’s legs]. We had our hands full, as you can see.)
        We’ve never had two dogs who seemed to really like each other, who miss the other when separated, who are excited to see each other when one returns, who sleep at night in the same crate (as well as often nap together), and who play together with such spirited joy when outside alone or on a walk with us. We’ve always had dogs who were reasonably obedient and responsive to us, but these are the first who have truly bonded as you might expect siblings would bond. (Speaking of Judy, the dogs, and the Fire Department, take a look at the latest issue of the Nederland Fire Department newsletter for an article profiling Judy with a great picture of her and the dogs.

Bagpipes (Bagpipes??)
        Aside from that, the only news is that the bagpipe lessons are progressing better than I had anticipated after I took my first lesson in January. It started when I received a set of bagpipes as a present from Dan and Debra for Christmas. I hadn’t thought about learning to play them, but apparently they thought I should keep busy in my retirement. So while Dan was in Glasgow on business, he stopped in at a well respected bagpipe maker/shop there and bought a set complete with the Gordon dress tartan (That’s the tartan Moirs use: we’re too small to be a separate clan, so we’re a “sept” of the Gordons. At least that’s the story that’s been passed down in the family and verified in some sources.) Anyway, the bagpipes are (is?) a deceptively difficult instrument to play and in spite of some musical experience, I’ve found it very challenging. My instructor is patient, encouraging, and points out that it’s all about practice. So, I try to get in 30-60 minutes a day. I must be getting a little better: the dogs don’t bark or howl anymore when I practice near them. I should be ready for my public performance debut this summer. Maybe you’ll be there. For the heck of it, here are just a few of the thousands of “bagpipe jokes that rival those about viola players:

        Q: What’s the only proper way to play the bagpipes?
        A: With an open penknife.

         Q: What is the difference between a bagpipe player and a terrorist?
         A: Terrorists have sympathizers.

         Q: How do you take care of bagpipes?
         A: Rub gently with lighter fluid and ignite.

         And my favorite:

         Q: What’s the difference between a bagpipe and an onion?
         A: Nobody cries when you cut a bagpipe.

        That’s about all that’s been going on around here. Judy’s been cross-country skiing only a couple of times and we’ve snowshoed a couple of times, but except for Judy’s regular running regimen, we’ve been fairly inactive. Spring means, for me, that the library will open and I’ve got to learn to become a volunteer librarian. What fun! If any of you have heard of a good program, promotion, or activity that helps bring folks into the Library, please pass it along. We’re new, and we’re anxious to please.

Judy and Hughes Moir
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