Category Archives: Colorado

Fire, Flashback, and Fever

On Tuesday, while my phone was silenced for work, I received numerous texts.  I retrieved them as I was leaving my office in Denver for home in Colorado Springs.  Fire.  Fire in the Black Forest.

As I made the long drive home, I could see the huge plume of white and gray smoke climbing in a massive column into the sky off in the distance.

Probably shouldn't have been taking pictures while driving....

Probably shouldn’t have been taking pictures while driving….

Closer to home and farther off into the distance I could see the smoke from yet another fire in the Royal Gorge creeping its way across the horizon from behind Cheyenne Mountain.

Different fire, different smoke.

Different fire, different smoke.

When I reached the exit for New Life Church, I headed that direction.  I parked on the side of the road and watched the fire.  The nearest edge was only a mile or so away.  Chinook helicopters were already chugging their way back and forth dangling Bambi buckets filled with water beneath them to, and empty from, the fire.  They looked like mosquitoes dropping trickles of water into hell.

Not again.  These fires are only supposed to happen once in a couple of lifetimes.

But last year at almost this exact time, there was a fire burning in the mountains behind my own house.  It started in Waldo Canyon, one of my favorite hiking spots.  I had been out shopping when I looked up into the mountains and saw smoke rising.  By the time I got home a short time later, it had doubled in size.

Almost home, the Waldo Canyon fire had been burning for an hour.

Almost home, the Waldo Canyon fire had been burning for an hour.

It seemed like it was far enough away that it wouldn’t threaten my neighborhood.  As it burned, I had to keep my house sealed up as the smell of smoke was so strong.  It was so hot.  No air conditioning, no breeze through open windows.  I would go to sleep (fitfully at best) at night with those fires burning “back there” praying none would be caught unawares in the middle of the night.  I would wake up in the morning with a lurch because of the smell, and I’d check the news and look around outside in search of fire.  Always with the smell of smoke in the air.  No one thought the fires would reach as far as the city, but I evacuated my dad who was on vacation and staying with me, just in case.  I didn’t want to have to try to have any future evacuation any more complicated than need be.  And a couple days later, devil winds picked up and blew that fire like a river down into the beautiful Mountain Shadows neighborhood just a couple of miles from my own neighborhood.

I had been taking photographs at a local school that looked down into a number of the canyons that were on fire when the winds inexplicably “collapsed” over the mountains and tripled in velocity.  I watched in horror as the fire began to run out of the canyons and around the mountains seemingly directly toward my home.  As I rushed to my vehicle and to home, I could feel my heart racing.  When I reached home, I could see the flames not too far in the distance.

The view from my window as the fire entered the city.

The view from my window as the fire entered the city.

As I was taking pictures of the fire from my bedroom window, I all of the sudden realized, I needed to leave.  The smoke and flames were getting awfully close very quickly.

Not too much later and the smoke was just down the street.

Not too much later and the smoke was just down the street.

I had already packed up in “pre-evacuation”, so I took a quick video tape of all the things in my house rapidly explaining in a very shaking voice what it was I owned, and what I thought things might be worth…for insurance purposes, and to remember.  Smoke was blocking out the sunshine and burning my throat.

Within moments the smoke was filling my neighborhood.

Within moments the smoke was filling my neighborhood.

I caught and loaded up my cats and picked up a few last minute items and headed out as the smoke and embers blew into my own little neighborhood in a toxic choking cloud.  I said good-bye to my neighbors as they also evacuated and thanked my next door neighbor as he watered down our building one last time before he and his family left.  As I was leaving, I got an electronic reverse 911 call instructing me it was time to get out NOW.  I had already resigned myself to losing nearly everything I owned and was at peace about that.   By the time I reached safety, everything I had evacuated with, including my cats, smelled like forest fire.  I thought watching from a distance as the fire consumed everything in its path, that all of Colorado Springs was going to be ashes by morning.  But it wasn’t.  Miraculously, the fire was contained to, and stopped in, Mountain Shadows.  The fire had been traveling a half a mile an hour, and the nearest burn to my house was only a mile away, but I lost nothing.  Not true for so many.  I thanked God for graciously sparing me.  But 346 families’ homes were a total loss, quite a few those of friends.  That fire was declared the worst in Colorado history.

But that record was not to stand for long.  On Tuesday, less than a year later, the hellish quadrad of high winds, high temperatures, near zero humidity, and a longstanding drought lead to a another fire of epic proportions raging out of control through one of the most lovely areas in all of Colorado Springs.  As I watched from New Life Church, I saw pops of black smoke rising out of the gray.  That was homes burning.  So awful to watch, even from a safe distance.

For the past five days, I have been experiencing that same sick and uncomfortable feeling remembering my own experiences a year ago.  This fire was 10 miles away.  I could see the smoke out the same bedroom window, only looking in the opposite direction.  Across town, thousands and thousands and thousands more new evacuees were experiencing the same emotions and fears that we on this side of town experienced last year.  I could feel it again like it was happening to me.  There was one morning in particular, when I was awakened early to the smell of smoke, that I felt that shaky uncertain sort of scared feeling in my chest again.  I quickly got up and looked out all of my windows, went outside to look for evidence of fire, and checked the news to see if there was a new fire, perhaps nearby.  I had this feeling I should be packing up and going somewhere, just to be sure.  I didn’t like it.

I had put the word out that my home was open for fire refugees, but no one took me up on my offer.  Which turned out to be a good thing as a few nights ago my phone rang at 1:30.  Those early morning phone calls are never good news.  It was my friend Abner.  And he was calling to tell me he was very sick.  He was in Casper, Wyoming for work, and it sounded like he had malaria.  I told him my house was available and to get here as soon as he could.  What a weird thing to have happen in the middle of a totally different kind of crisis.  So, as Abner, a malaria refugee, was getting over the worst of his fever and other symptoms, the heat lifted, the humidity rose, we got some rain, the fire abated, and evacuees started to return to their homes.  Those who still had them.

As of tonight, 483 homes are a total loss.  The death toll is two.  Two souls trying desperately to evacuate who were captured by the flames.  And, just like that, less than a year later, we have a new worst fire in Colorado history.

Things eventually begin to return to some normalcy.  My windows are open and I don’t smell smoke.  Abner was well enough to get to his parents’ home to spend Fathers Day with his pop.   My mother, two sisters, nephew, and their cats, who were all evacuated the evening the fire broke out, have returned to an undamaged house.  And that jittery feeling is abating for me.

Colorado Springs is an amazing city.  For the second time in a year, the community absorbed 10’s of thousands of evacuees.  Lines for donating food, water, and other supplies stretched for miles at various drop off locations.  By basic standards, it’s a large city, but it acts like a small town.  People line the streets cheering the firefolks who run in when others run out.  When I had to evacuate last year, I had a dozen people offer a place in their home to me.  I imagine that this is the same story many others would tell.  It is likely that last year’s evacuees returned the favor to the exact same folks who took them in.

I am blessed to live in such a great place.  I am blessed that all I have had to endure with these fires is some temporary inconvenience and a ongoing sense of  uncertainty about future fire.  When I lived in Southern California there would be times when it seemed more quiet than usual…more still than usual…warmer than usual.  The birds would be quiet.  There was no rustling of ocean breeze through the vegetation.  Even the bugs were silent.  We called it “earthquake weather”.  Now, when it gets hot here, when the humidity dips into single digits, and when the winds kick up, it will be “fire weather”.  And I will pray that epic firestorms are a thing of the past.  I pray that lightening does not strike my wonderful community three times.


Happy Winter!

Today marks the first day of winter.

In celebration of that, I bring you (again, not my first time!) the song that makes me all warm inside about winter…

John Denver’s “Aspenglow”

Update 7/27/2012:  Unfortunately the lovely version I originally linked to went away when the YouTube account it was posted on was removed.  The previous version had great pictures of Aspen.  This one has great pics, too, just not of Aspen.

The Wonder Tower

Roadside kitsch.  LOVE IT!

Yesterday my dad, my nephew Mitchell, and I, headed out to Genoa, Colorado for a day trip to “The Wonder Tower”.  It was soooo much better than I even imagined it would be!  There is a maze of dusty rooms filled to the gills with all kinds of strange and wonderful collections.  The tower is a series of themed rooms (the red room, the yellow room, the big room, etc.) which houses a number of creaky worn out wind-y staircases and ladders that lead to a lookout platform way up at the top.  You can see the air above six states, supposedly.

From the minute I saw it from the freeway I knew I was in for a treat!

If you like weird collections and oddities, and especially if you like to take pictures….this place is the place for you!

Maybe I’ll see you there!

The List of Fifty – White Water Rafting

“Go white water rafting” has been on The List of Fifty since its inception.  And finally this past week, I was able to check it off!  Woo Hoooo!  And it was a Woo Hoo adventure!  My brother Phil is in town with his kids and we decided to take the two oldest up to Buena Vista for a little WW Rafting on the Arkansas.

We went with an outfit called “Noah’s Ark” and it was GREAT!  Having never gone before I really had no idea what to expect.  We chose to go on the kind of raft where the guide does the lion’s share of the rowing and steering and to do a half day trip on a class II and III stretch of the river.

Once an item on “The List” has been checked off, a new item needs to be added to keep the list at fifty.  After this little adventure, I’m putting “go white water rafting” BACK on the list, only this time it will be to go on a trip that includes class IV rapids.  AND next time I want to do more of the rowing and maybe make it an all day sort of trip.  Good times.  If you are keeping your own “list”, and it doesn’t have “go white water rafting” on it, may I recommend that you add it????

Here we are, going through the “Seven Steps” rapids!  (I’m in the far back where you can’t really see me!)

Another Dripping ‘Cicle

Dripping ‘Cicle

Leaving…Not On a Jet Plane

I’m outta here folks.  Will be gone for a week.  BUT since I often don’t post for that long, you probably wouldn’t have noticed I was gone anyway!

Won’t be around a computer or cell phone or nada for the week.  Headed out with a group of high schoolers from my church on a (localish) spring break mission trip.

Will catchya when I get back.  Maybe have a story or two to tell with a wee photo here and there.  We’ll just hafta wait and see on that.

Enjoy the first full day of spring today!  Feeling like spring here in Colorado, that’s for sure…but we never really got winter.  That aint right…

Ciao, for now.

Photo Friday – “Photo Gadgets”

This week we are revisiting photo gadgets on Photo Friday.  I really wanted to Obamafy myself, but was unsuccessful with my attempts.  And I love the Warholizer, so I decided to revisit that as well. 

Recently, Becky (from my Malawi team this past summer) came out from PA to spend a couple of weeks with me.  The day that I had planned for us to drive up to the summit of Pikes Peak it unexpectedly snowed.  So I dragged her to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo instead.  It was cold, but clear.  We pretty much had the place to ourselves.  When we left we were informed that we were visitors number four and five to the zoo that day!  In total, there were only seven!  The animals that weren’t indoors because of the cold (like the zebras) or in quarantine because of a new arrival (like the elephants) were pretty much out and about.  The tigress was one of those animals.  I’ve never seen the tigress except for a brief glimpse of orange and black and white through the brush before.  She is a glorious animal.  Her name is Helga. 

Tigress by you.

And Warholized:

Tigress Warholized by you.

Here’s Mr. Linky:

You know what to do!

Photo Friday – “Unlucky”

“If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all” – George Jetson

In “honor” of the second of three Friday the Thirteenths we will have this year, today’s Photo Friday topic is “unlucky”.

Recently my friend Donna visited me from California.  It was her first time out here.  We had a GREAT time!  This visit, though five days long, was about a month too short.  We never have enough time, no matter how much time we have!

A reasonable and lovely drive’s distance away from where I live is a delightful little Victorian mining town called “Cripple Creek”.  They have legalized gambling there.  It’s like a little Las Vegas, really.  All the lights, and bells, and clangings of Vegas, but at about a millionth the size.  Donna loves her some Vegas, so we, along with my sister Whitney, decided to make a day of it and go throw some money down a rathole.

I say throw money down a rathole, because I never, NEVER, EVER win at gambling.  So I try to make my 20 or 30 bucks last as long as possible while I watch other people win!  🙂   BITTER!!!!  Donna in the end didn’t lose too much, but she did win during the course of the day.  Whitney it seems won at every machine she played.  I think she won the most on the penny slots, which is crazy, but true.

Here are Donna (left) and Whitney (right) in fronto of the Brass Ass…

The Brass Ass by you.

If you’re playing, don’t forget to add your link to Mr. Linky.  If you’re not, please visit the other players and drop a comment!

Coming up on Photo Friday:

Friday 20th March 2009: Author’s choice: Photo Gadgets (back by popular demand! Author herself!) Photos you’ve gadgetised or photo-shopped etc!

Friday 27th March: Author’s choice: FRIENDS, I HAZ ‘EM! (a  selection of photos of friends – you could use a mosaic maker if you choose – or any other photo gadget if they don’t want recognisable pics of themselves on the internet)

To Vaccinate or Not To Vaccinate

Being a nurse, I occasionally get the person who wants my opinion on whether or not to vaccinate.  Because I was recently approached to offer my opinion, I have a few thoughts I’d like to share on the subject here.

The non-vaccination movement is largely based on the work of a man named Andrew Wakefield.  His worked “appeared” to link the MMR (measles mumps rubella) vaccine to causing autism.  Many well-meaning parents who feared that their children would develop autism choose to not have their children innoculated with this vaccine, or in many cases, with ANY vaccines.  It has recently come to light that Mr. Wakefield’s very limited study was in fact, fraudulent.  You can read that story HERE.  There are others who simply think that vaccines are “toxins” to which they don’t wish to expose their children.  And there are those who believe that there’s a government conspiracy in there somewhere.

Children are routinely vaccinated for a number of diseases.  Some of the vaccines they receive are measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, diptheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rotavirus, hepatitis B, polio, haemophilus influenzae type b, varicella (chicken pox), and meningitis. 

Because most parents DO vaccinate, the children who live amongst them who are unvaccinated generally enjoy an environment free from many previously common communicable diseases.  This is called “herd immunity“.  The more people who have immunity equals a lesser chance for those who DON’T have immunity to be exposed.  When the numbers of the herd who are immune drops, the potential for the non-immune to contract and spread these diseases to other non-immune individuals (and vaccinated individuals who have less immunity) rises.  The magic number for herd immunity is about 90%.  When the percentage of immune individuals drops below that 90% number, the chance for diseases to spread in a community begins to increase.  So what happens when a community “bucks the herd”?  Well, we can look to Boulder, Colorado, for the answer to that question.  Boulder holds the dubious distinction of being one of the least vaccinated communities in the United States.  And it has a high rate of whooping cough as a result.  Whooping cough (pertussis) is endemic in that community.  A community where, to be a bit cheeky, parents are more concerned about fumes from paint and carpet than they are about potentially deadly communicable diseases.

Because of aggressive vaccination programs, smallpox (which swept through the indiginous populations of the Americas and killed millions) is unknown to us today.  Polio, which struck terror into the US population in the 20th century, has been all but eradicated from the western hemisphere.  How often do you hear of someone having diptheria?  How about tetanus (lockjaw)?  In most developed countries, these diseases have become almost entirely a thing of the past.

So, what are some of the little thought of effects of non-vaccination?  Healthcare costs are something that we are all congnizant of these days.  Let’s say your child comes down with a fever and appears to have a viral illness of some sort.  The vaccinated child is seen by a practitioner who is able to “rule out” many possibilities for the cause of the symptoms.  The non-vaccinated child is seen by the same practitioner who now must test for many other potential illnesses.  These can be costly tests.  And the child will more than likely be requiring isolation until a source is determined.

Many of these diseases can be worse to get as an adult.  What about these young girls who grow up and want to have children.  To be exposed to some diseases while you are pregnant can be fatal to the unborn child, or leave the child with horrible disabilities.  Every pregnant woman who has never had chicken pox, was vaccinated before the varicella vaccine became available, or who has no immunity from previous exposure, knows to stay the heck away from any kid who does!  Early in a pregnancy, chicken pox can cause all manner of problems.  The pregnant mother is also at risk for chicken pox pneumonia, which can be deadly!

Other demographics who are at increased risk for disease and death because of the non-vaccinated individual are the young who have not completed their vaccinations, the elderly, and the immunocompromised.  That means that any one who has a disease which affects their immune system (like HIV/AIDS), or has to permanently take medications which suppresses their immune system (like a transplant patient, or a rheumatoid arthritis patient), or those who temporarily take medications which suppress their immune system (like someone who is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer) are ALL at increased risk from the non-vaccinated person.

Now let’s say an unvaccinated child has grown up and is considering what to do as a career?  Do you think a hospital will allow an unvaccinated person work there?  Nope.  How about if this person wants to join the military?  Teach school?  There are many professions which would now be closed to this person, or if they choose to follow these paths, they will now have to get many series of vaccines…they would have to “catch up”.

What if this child decides he wants to travel internationally?  He or she may want to reconsider any travel to a non-western country.  Or they could get all “caught up” on their missed vaccines as well as receive more vaccines depending on what they might be at risk for due to their itinerary.  Or they could roll the dice and travel unvaccinated and chance 1) getting sick, and 2) bringing disease back to their own country where they could potentially expose more people to disease.

Diseases like Hepatitis B and polio are gifts that keep on giving.  Should you contract and survive polio, you are still at risk for post-polio syndrome.  Those of us who weren’t alive during the polio epidemics simply cannot appreciate the horror.  Twenty-five percent of those who contract Hepatitis B go on to develop liver cancer.  These are not benign diseases we are talking about here.

I think that not vaccinating children is an irresponsible, short-sighted, selfish, and potentially devastating choice.

The more people who don’t vaccinate, the closer all communities come to dropping below that 90% which will put more and more people at risk.  Communities like Boulder are doing no one any favors.  I, for one, would never send my child to public school in a city like Boulder, or Ashland, Oregon (the city with the highest rate of non-vaccinated children in the United States).

The potential risks of vaccinations is far outweighed by the potential risk of non-vaccination.

Personally, I am hoping that the small pox vaccine once again becomes available.  I’ll get it as soon as it does.   Because of communities like Boulder, it is now recommended that adults get a booster vaccine for pertussis.  It is available with the tetanus/diptheria booster, and the next time my Td comes due, you can bet I’ll be vaccinating for pertussis as well.  Not because I’m concerned with contracting pertussis as it is one disease that is less serious in adults than it is in children, but because I don’t want to be the one who passes pertussis to a child.  Pertussis is a very serious infection in young children.  (Those who staff NICUs – Neonatal Intensive Care Units – are often required to be up to date on their pertussis vaccination).

It isn’t that long ago that the anthrax scare swept across America.  I was concerned about that potential biological weapon threat, but we have a growing number of potential petri dishes of biological agents being introduced into the general population each year.

I believe it is time for the non-vaccinating public to rethink their decision…especially in the new light that the “science” upon which many have based their decision has been largely disproved and the “scientist” discredited.  And because, for the good of their communities, vaccinating is the right thing to do.

That being said, there is one vaccine that I do not believe should be on the routine vaccination schedule.  As I have written before, the Gardasil vaccine which protects against HPV (human papilloma virus) should only be given to those who have chosen against abstinence, are sexually active, and especially if they are not monogamous, as HPV can ONLY be transmitted sexually.  Some would also put Hepatitis B into this category, but since Hep B is not only sexually transmitted but can be transmitted with the transference of infected blood as well as body fluids, one can be at risk in other ways as well, like through a tainted blood transfusion. 

Not quite done yet, I have one more thought to offer.  Were, say, an immunocompromised student attending a public school to suffer harm because of exposure to a disease brought to the school by a non-vaccinated child OR were an elderly nursing home patient to suffer harm by a disease brought to the home by a non-vaccinated child, I would not be against charges being brought against the parent of the child who spread the disease.  I think parents should be held accountable for their risky decision to not vaccinate.

And that is one blogger’s opinion.

“Aspenglow” – Words and Music by John Denver

Not unfamiliar with the music of John Denver by any means, I was amazed listening to the radio the other night to hear this song.  How did I get to be as old as I am without ever hearing one of the most practically perfect songs ever written?  The lyrics are uncomplicated and not profound, but they are woven together with a light and delicate musical arrangement and sung in the crystal clear voice that only John Denver possessed.

See the sunlight through the pine
Taste the warm of winter wine
Dream of softly falling snow
Winter’s gold, Aspenglow

As the winter days unfold
Hearts grow warmer with the cold
Peace of mind is all you know
Winter’s gold, Aspenglow

Aspen is a life to live
See how much there is to give
See how strongly you believe
See how much you may receive

Smiling faces all around
Laughter is the only sound
Memories that can’t grow old
Winter’s gold, Aspenglow

Aspen is a life to live
See how much there is to give
See how strongly you believe
See how much you may receive

See the sunlight through the pine
Taste the warm of winter wine
Dream of softly falling snow
Winter’s gold, Aspenglow

Unable to find an online player that would play the full length song, I resorted to a YouTube video.  Listen especially to the music.  It’s divine.

22 X 2

It’s an odd favorite number, but it’s mine.  Been mine for a looooong time, but not as long as it’s been Hollister’s favorite number, in that Hollister was “established” in 1922. 

I have a bunch of original “22” pictures, but they are all still stuck on my old computer with most of my picture files.  So I borrowed one!

Today was my 44th birthday!  (More technically, it’s the 22nd anniversary of my 22nd birthday!)  It was a great day from start to finish!

My little bro (Low, in from out of town) and nephew Mitchell drove up to the mountains to spend the day.  To the spectacular ski resort of Breckenridge to be precise.  Our goal?  Find snow to play in and take pictures.  We succeeded at both of those, and also I got to see Sarah from my Zambia 2006 team!!!  She was also in from out of town working as a nanny of sorts for a family who were there for the holidays.  I was so excited to see her (our visit lasted about 20 minutes!) that I forgot to take a picture!  BUT I do have some pictures of playing in the snow!

Low Airborne by you.

Mitchell Airborne by you. 

We found a baseball field that was, at least until we got to it, untouched!  It was about 18 inches deep in fluffy white snow.  Low took a few flying leaps into it, and he also tossed Mitchell into it a few times.  I of course had to take one of my world famous (hahahahaha) foot pictures which was actually more of a leg picture!

Snow Feet by you.

During our drive up to the slopes my car hit a paricularly slick spot in the road.  I couldn’t get past it and I had to break out my chains for the very first time since moving to Colorado!  And on a beautiful warm and sunny day of all times!  My sweet brother Low slapped them on my tires and we made it the last 100 feet up the hill!

Back at home we met up with family and friends for a great Mexican dinner with my favorite cake for dessert (chocolate chocolate chip with powdered sugar) and presents!  One of my best birthdays ever.  Only I ate too much, and now I think I should go to bed and sleep off too much fun and too much food!  Thanks to everyone who helped make this a most memorable birthday!

Happy Birthday to me!

Photo Friday – “Winter”

Winter!  My new favorite season since my relocation to Colorado.  Before I decided on Colorado as my new home state, I had visions of the entire state being buried under feet of snow for months on end.  Now, while there is plenty of snow in the mountains, where I live, even though I’m at about 6,000 feet, the snow is only intermittant, and never lasts for more than a few days.  The snow rarely interrupts one’s daily life, though on some days you have to plan ahead and give yourself a little more time to get between points A and B.  And sometimes you need to sweep snow off the car, or shovel a bit of snow in order to get your car out onto the street.  But I will take what I can get, and I love every flake of the stuff.  Winter here is strange.  It was nearly 70 degrees here this past Tuesday.  We had snow two days earlier, and a light snow floated down all day long yesterday!  As I send this to post, it is 11 degrees outside. Who knows what the weekend will bring! 

I posted this picture previously here in another photography meme I did in the past.  It was, and remains, one of my favorite winter pictures that I’ve taken so far.

You can click HERE if you’d like to read the entire original post.

Don’t forget to add your name to Mr. Linky if you’re playing this week.  If you’re not playing, make sure you check out the other players work, drop ’em a comment, let ’em know what you think!  

Coming up on Photo Friday (blatantly cut and pasted from “A Curious State of Affairs”):

12th December: Slim’s choice – Christmas Lights

19th December: Author’s choice – The Festive Season

26th December: Photo Friday is taking a break ……. BUT as an option … for those full up with turkey … stuffed to the gills with chocolates … all boozed out … needing a break from the relatives … sick of the festive TV programmes … itching for some “me time” on the computer …. you can post: “funny Christmas photos OR video or of my family” – past and present pictures acceptable! The funnier and more festive the better!

2nd January: New year Video Challenge entitled: New Year Resolutions! (be brave, commit your New Year Resolutions to video so we can all check up on you achieving them as the year progresses!)

Blah Blah Blog vs. the Yellow Pages!

Some time ago I posted on my Dad and his quest for a straight razor shave while visiting me.  That search led us to Paul Hansen.  Since then, my Dad has gone to him whenever he is in town to get another great shave.

He’s in town again this week.  And he dropped in on Paul to get my nephew’s hair cut.  My Dad got to talking with Paul about my blog post.  (Check out the link for more info on Paul’s and for his phone number.)

Paul says that he gets a couple of new customers every week because they read about him on Blah Blah Blog.  He got zero customers from his Yellow Pages ad.  Since my blog has proved to be much more effective advertising than the YP, he dropped the ad!  He told my dad to send me to his shop because he’d like to buy me lunch!

I asked my Dad if Paul had ever seen my post.  Nope.  He doesn’t own a computer!

Getting the folks in for a great shave…just another service my blog offers!  🙂

Photo Friday – “Colours (of Autumn)”

Firstly and most importantly, today is my little sister Liz’ birthday.  Happiest of birthdays to you, Lizzie!  🙂  I love you bunches!!!!!  (Crossing my fingers you get the ER job!!!  You will love being an ER nurse…)



I sort of wish this was NEXT week’s challenge as my OTHER little sister, Whitney, and I are taking her son Mitchell on a road trip to look at the golden autumnal Aspens up in the mountains tomorrow!  One day late!!  🙂  I made the same drive three years ago during my first fall in Colorado.  The pictures I took on that drive were with an old camera and didn’t turn out well.  So I am going to share a picture I took in the Rocky Mountain National Park two falls ago here in “Color”ado, or should I say “colour”ado!  :-).

 On Fire by you.

Coming up, on Photo Friday…

3rd October: Eiain’s choice – Music (musicians, concerts, still life of musical instruments or musical  scores, musical boxes etc – I could go on and on …..) You may also like to add a YouTube clip of your favourite music!

10th October: Mrs Nascar’s choice – Night ( moon, stars or any interpretation of night)

17th October:CuriousCs choice Bridges / Arches

24th October: Eiain’s choice – Paws for thought

31st October: Author’s choice – Halloween!

7th November: Tina’s choice – Action Shots

14th November: Author’s choice – Windows (unusual or favourite windows, in your own home, or other homes, or churches, buildings etc – you may even include the view through a window. This can be a selection of photos or just one favourite pic).

Please take the time to visit the work of the other players and tell them what you think!

Click on Mr. Linky so that you can access the links to the other participants’ blogs!

Happy Birthday, Julie!

Today is my cousin Julie’s birthday.  A few days ago we decided, should the weather permit, that we’d drive up to the summit of Pikes Peak.  Until recently I didn’t even know that there was a road up to the summit, but there is!  It’s called the Pikes Peak Highway.  Parts of it are a little hairy, but we made it to the top without incident.  This was my second time up to the summit.  Last time it was winter and we took the cog railroad up.  Very cool!  Next time up, I hike!

Click HERE to read about my last trip up to the summit and see a wicked cute picture of my nephew!  And HERE to see another picture of my niece, Alaska, from the same trip.

Here Julie and I are.  Taking the requisite touristy picture in front of the summit sign.

At the Summit by you.

From “down there”, those little red rocks in the middle of the right side of this photo are massive monoliths at the Garden of the Gods!  On a clear day, you CAN see forever!

Garden of the Gods, From 14,110 Feet! by you.

Weird looking railroad tracks, huh?  These are for the cog railway that goes from Manitou Springs to the summit.

Cog Railroad Tracks by you.

And of course, a foot picture.  We are facing west.  More of the Rockies off in the distance, and two lakes!

Two Feet at 14,110 Feet! by you.

We had planned on stopping at one of the rest areas/picnic areas/scenic overlooks to have a picnic lunch, but time was not our friend and so we ate in the car while driving back down the mountain in the lowest gear my car had to offer.  It’s such a steep drive that there’s even a mandatory brake check on the way down, and if your brakes are hot, you are off the road until they cool off!  Never seen that before!  AND on the way back down we actually got snowed on!  It was a perfectly clear, bright, and beautiful day, and out of nowhere, snow!  That’s why they warn you that the weather is unpredictable up there.  Unpredictable, indeed!

Happy Birthday, Julie!  For sure we’ll do this one again!  On foot next time!

And under the category of “ask, they can only say no” goes this one!  I told the ranger at the tollroad that Julie was only 12 and that it was her birthday, and could we get her in for the child’s fare…

And he did it!  Ask.  They can only say no!  🙂

Photo Friday – “Stained Glass Windows”

Today’s Photo Friday challenge is “Old Cars”.  Of course I got my weeks all mixed up and did “Stained Glass Windows”!  Haha!  So, you get stained glass windows today, and old cars next week!

The “back story”…

Not this past weekend, but the one before that, my cousin Julie and I made our best attempt yet to go white water rafting.  Though the weather was grim (to be understated) at home, we hoped that perhaps it was better where we planned on joining other would be rafters in Buena Vista. 

The weather only deteriorated as we progressed along the highway.  At one point we were surrounded by thunderstorms and startled by the voracity of the thunder and lightening.  Oh, and there was the hail and sleet which pounded my poor car as well!  And, despite it being mid-August, it was COLD!!  I was wondering how my friend Vickie was doing in the Ascent – a foot race up to the top of Pikes Peak.  I’d heard that they were expecting SNOW and equally foul weather.

We got to “Noah’s Ark”, the company with which we’d made reservations to do the rafting.  I stepped out of the car and was already chilled.  The thought of getting into a boat and being soaked to the skin by cold mountain river water didn’t much appeal to me.  We talked with this person, and that person.  We were offered, for free, wet suits, waterproof jackets, etc., by the company.  The fate of the trip for me was sealed by the young man who was to be our guide.  “I’m not going to lie…it’s gonna be bad.”  The end.  I didn’t want to be miserable, I wanted to enjoy myself.  I wanted to raft on a hot summer day and enjoy a riverside picnic lunch.  Though “go white water rafting” has been on my “List of 50” since its inception, I didn’t want to do it this way just so that I could say I did it and cross it off the list.  I wanted to have a good time!

So we decided to take a way home on roads that neither of us had yet traversed.  Our first stop was for breakfast in Salida.  Cute town.  We drove around some and came across a concentration of churches, many with stained glass windows.  It was a fun little exploration, but none of my pictures of those windows turned out.  I’m hoping some of Julie’s did and that she’ll put hers up today!

Near the end of our journey, we happened upon the Holy Cross Abbey in Canon City. 

This is the window in the chapel there:

 Holy Cross Abbey Stained Glass Window by you.

Please visit the other participants entries and leave a comment letting them know what you think!  I’ll add links as they are available when I get home from work.  Yeah, I’m working again today!

Tall Chick Tales

Mrs Nascar






And a big fat welcome to EIAIN of My ProZac Cocoon whose first entry is a GREAT one!

I will activate the other links as submissions are posted!

Coming up, on Photo Friday:

5th September: Author’s choice – Stained Glass Windows (or doors or panels – from cathedrals, churches or any other type of building)

12th September: Author’s choice – Step Inside (Pics of inside your own home: they can be of favourite corners, or things, or windows, or unusual features or just unusual angles of somehing in your own home)

Oh!  My friend Vickie?  Well, she was about 3/4 of the way up to the top of Pikes Peak, and was turned around by race coordinators as it had become completely unsafe for the racers to continue!  Sorry ’bout that Vickie!

Wagons Ho!!

Today (or maybe tomorrow, I’m not exactly sure!) my sister Whitney and her son Mitchell have packed up her truck and a U-Haul and will be heading out for Colorado to start their new life.

And my brother Phil has packed up his Suburban with his four kids and my sister Liz’ two kids and has hitched that U-Haul up and is heading out to take Whitney and Mitchell to Colorado. 

There’s a little part of me that feels bad that I miss so much of my family’s “happenings” because of my involvement with Teen Missions over the years.  Like I have missed nine of my mother’s birthdays, for example.  And I’ll miss having nearly all my family together in Colorado this summer while I’m gone.  BUT, sometime very late this evening my team will be leaving Boot Camp for Malawi, and what a blessing God has given me to be able to spend the summer with a group of teenagers who have given their summers up in order to minister to African children.  I’m glad that my family understands that I miss things not because I want to, but because the Lord has called me to do something else.

Whitney and her son are going to take over taking care of Mew Ling from my Dad when they get to Colorado.  I’m sure my Dad will be glad about that!  🙂 

Please pray for my team as we “pack-out”, and embark on our 8,200 mile journey from Orlando to Lilongwe (Malawi), and beyond.  Please pray that all of us, and all of our luggage, arrive safely.

You can’t even imagine how excited we all are to get to Malawi and get to work…

(Posted in absentia) 

Photo Friday – “Emotion”

I am very late posting my entry for this week’s Photo Friday, but I have a good reason.  I had company from California here for the past few days and I wanted to spend my time with her.  Thanks for visiting Shawn!  It was a gooooood time!  🙂  Safe travels, my friend!

And so, without any further ado…

Today’s Photo Friday is entitled: Emotion

chosen by: Julie

Follow the links below for other entries (I will add links as entries come in!):

Tall chick tales 

 Idea jump! 

 Just for fun

 A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words

A Curious State of Affairs

It’s always “fun” to conquer, even if just a little bit, one’s fears, don’t you think?  I am quite the acrophobe.  I fear heights.  Not ALL heights mind you.  My fear of heights is rather specific.  I’m fine with being at the top of very tall buildings, I LOVE roller coasters and other rides that include heights, and I have no problem with flying (planes of ANY size and helicopters are all just fine with me).  I don’t even mind hiking upwards.  What bothers me are things like being on bridges, hiking DOWN, driving next to drop offs, snow skiing, that sort of thing.  I don’t like being in high places where there is, at least to me, a perceived or actual lack of control in the situation.  I can’t stand having people anywhere near me if I am standing in a place where they could startle me, or end up close behind me without my having seen them come up on me.  My fear is more of a fear of falling from any sort of height, even if from a small height.

I used to be able to climb trees, climb up onto roofs, and climb ladders without any problem whatsoever.  I was rather fearless, in fact.  But I was startled twice, once when I was 16 and once when I was in my twenties, which resulted in my developing fear.  The first startling occured when I was laying concrete blocks on a less than sturdy scaffolding on the second story of a building.  When I was deep in  concentration and hard at work, a guy reached up from the ground and grabbed my ankles and shook me.  And that was the start of it.  I got so fearful of heights that I had a problem using the second step of a stepladder!  I worked on desensitizing myself and was almost over my fear.  But then, at the top of the Hancock center in Chicago I got my second startling.  While I was deeply in thought and looking down, my brother came up behind me and shook my shoulders and gave me one of those “Bahahahahha” shouts in my ear.  I again spiraled into my old fear pattern.  And I’ve been working on overcoming it, or at least occasionally temporarily conquering it, since. 

Yesterday my visiting friend, Shawn, and I took a hike up to some abandoned train tracks and tunnels.  The hike up to the location was really more like a loose gravel scramble!  Staying well ahead of Shawn (for my mental sanity) we climbed quite a distance at a very steep incline on a very slippery slope and it wasn’t until we reached the top that I thought “Gee, I just HOPE I’m going to be able to get down!”.  Putting that thought aside until I HAD to deal with it, I threw myself into enjoying the view from “up there”.  And I carefully picked my way around the washed out areas along the trail.  With the sound of the highway and river far below us, we worked our way through each of five tunnels and enjoyed the rock formations, the plant life, the insects, the sky and the feeling of relative solitude that being far away from civilization invokes. 

My emotion is “exhilaration”. 


Lou and Shawn, a self-portrait in front of the entrance to one of the tunnels

I didn’t do a Rocky sort of dance when I arrived at the top, nor did I shout with glee.  But inside I had this exhilarated “Whew!!!  I am DOING this!” sort of response.

Shawn also has her own heights issues, so we were quite the pair.  When our hike had to be over as we had a reservation for some horsebacking riding and HAD to get going, we found our way back to where we climbed up, and boy, did it look even more steep and slippery from up there.  We pretty much just slid down on our backsides holding onto anything at all that would give us a sense of security!  We were dusty, filthy, hot and sweaty, and our hearts were pounding when we got to the bottom, but get to the bottom we did!  Yay us!!!

(I will have to conquer my fear to get back up to this location again, as there is a geocache hidden in one of those tunnels that I failed to locate this time around!)

If you fear heights/falling, you might want to (or maybe not!  I could hardly watch it!) check out this link e-mailed to me by a friend, and also seen on “A Curious State of Affairs”.  This gave me the biggest case of the willies I’ve had in a loooooong time!  🙂

Please visit the links to the other participants work using the links at the beginning of this post and leave them a comment!

Friday 30th May : Title by CordieB: Phantasmagoria

Next Friday’s challenge will be my last for awhile.  I leave June First and won’t be home for two months!  Yikes!

“Juxtaposition” – Photo Friday

Today’s Photo Friday is entitled: “Juxtaposition″


1. an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, esp. for comparison or contrast.
2. the state of being close together or side by side.

This week was my choice for the topic!  I picked “juxtaposition” because 1) I absolutely LOVE the word, and 2) I thought it was a challenge that could be interpretation in a bajillion ways.  I had no preconcevieved idea of what I was going to do for it.  The word just came into my head when I read that the choice was to be mine this week. 

I took this picture this past weekend in Denver.  When I took the picture I was only taking it because it tickled my fancy.  I thought it would be way cute to have my little friends copy the big blue bear’s pose, all lined up.  Only after I got home and was going through and catalogueing the photos from the weekend did it strike me that this would make an excellent and FUN submission for this weeks “Photo Friday”.  So, here is “Big Blue Bear and Little Friends Peeking”!

From L to R that’s the Big Blue Bear, Abner, Stephanie, Colin, and Clare — in juxtaposition!  🙂

This Big Blue Bear is peeking in the windows of the Denver Convention Center.  His body is made up purely of planes.  Pretty cool.  Designed by a computer.

The sculpture was unveiled in June of 2005 and is called “I See What You Mean”.

They are all interested in what’s going on in there!  🙂

Please visit the other participants’ work!

 Sky Windows 

Idea jump!

A Curious State of Affairs 

Just For Fun

Welcome to CordieB of the blog “Looking Through The Window

(Jan’s entry – A Curious State of Affairs – uses a cool online tool called a Hockneyator to create a collage.  You should check it out and snag that link to try this tool yourself!)

I’ll add anymore links should I find that there are any more new players out there!

Next week’s topic comes to us from Tina of SkyWindows and is “Religion”. 

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