Saturday, January 28, 2012

IF: Forward

Last night we went into Dolores and met up with some of our  forward thinking neighbors  to attend a fundraiser for our local land conservancy group- which helps ranchers and other landholders preserve the great open spaces so important to Colorado and all of the West where the word "subdividing" is a very, very bad word.

The focus of the evening was the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, a series of film shorts highlighting such things as the Snake River Salmon run  and the fish's coming demise due to four  dams they have to navigate up.

 Sadly, we are protecting less than 1% of the height of the salmon population experienced by Lewis and Clark on their exploration of the Northwest and they are predicted to become extinct in our generation.
On the other hand, is the livelihood of those dependent on the water and power generated by the dams. Definitely on of those issues that there is no good solution. I hope that some very clever ingenious people can think of a true solution and compromise between fish and man!

Other films in the series were several very funny shorts on Animals saving the Planet

The main film of the night was Bag It!

 Interestingly, actually from a film maker just up the canyon in Telluride. I already had a "rap" for hating all things plastic and "disposable", and in the middle of the film, Jon leaned over and said "You're gonna be impossible to live with, aren't you?"
The film was funny, the host trying to use his own containers at the Taco Bell drive through. The very said part if what plastic is doing to our oceans, where it is ground into tiny bits and marine life is eating more and more of it and dying from it.
Another said part,that unlike metal and glass recycling that happens in the US and can be done over and over, plastic recycling is actually shipped to China where the poor, the old and young children, sift through it and very little is reused and then probably only once.
But the film was also great in that it was not for radical environmentalist, and really by all of us changing a few habits, like bringing our own bags, which I keep two extremely light, compact ones in the bottom of my purse and have a whole sack of them in the car for the big grocery store runs. Another change is to stop buying bottled water, Period. It takes like two cups of petroleum to manufacture and transport water to you in a bottle that you can get free from a tap. Take your own "to go" mugs to get coffee- it actually tastes better.
These things do not have to be political, highly charged issues. The last ones I suppose is, but I was convicted last night to send a few emails to Washington to address the issue of plastic consumption in this country and that would be a deciding factor on who I voted for this coming November. We have only one planet and like I always say, "Crap in, Crap out" or as the film said last night "We throw things away, but there is no away!"

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Valentines from the past...

Last time we were up at my mom's, I finally convinced her to let me dig through some boxes of my great aunt Roberta's, containing many wonderful photos and other "tidbits" of life we tend to want to keep but do not really know what to do with.
Roberta was my grandfather sister and her husband Luman was my grandmother brother, such a thing happened often in small farm community back then,  siblings marrying siblings, at least in Freeborn County Minnesota. In fact three of the four Conns siblings married into the Jensen clan of thirteen children and there was another two siblings, the Sorlies, who also married into the large family, all around the time of the Great Depression.
But enough of my weird family tree, my Aunt Roberta and Uncle Luman never had children so my mom became the keeper of all their treasures and in my digging I found and probably because my mother was somewhat annoyed I had unpacked the boxes on her kitchen  table while she was trying to get supper cooked, she yielded to me claiming for my own, quite a wonderful little treasure box, that got put away when I got home until I realized that Valentine's Day was right around the corner and I had intended to share its contents on the blog.

Some things she had given me permission to keep and a few, I took with the understanding I would make copies of them and return, though me and my sister have always maintained the golden rule with my mother is that if you can  get it out of the house, you are pretty safe in she has so much it is hard for her to keep track of it all, though if she asks I will dutifully return it....or reads this blog!
The little box is not of my Aunt Roberta's things, but of my Uncle Lumans, from his school days at the District 110 school house and must contain thirty valentines over a span of several years as near as I can tell around 1915. There are several years worth for the same signatures on more than one valentine and several teacher's valentines. I'm certain that he, like my grandmother and my mother, through their primary years attended a one room schoolhouse with only one teacher.

The box also contains teachers notes, art projects, a watercolor set, compositions notebooks full of his not so great penmanship, but several wonderful little watercolors of ships, flags and Pilgrims, some with accompanying poems he copied.

Growing up, my mother always seemed to believe that her uncle Luman didn't do very well in school but the reports cards marked in fancy script seem to say differently. I wonder if he and I had two things in common, being an artist and having dyslexia, it can be hereditary and I think he was horrible at math.

My Uncle Luman was one of the youngest of six boys and my Grandmother was the middle of six girls. My Great Grandparents, James and Christine Jensen had a happy, healthy family of thirteen children only loosing their last child, James Jr. when he was a toddler. James was the first of his Danish family to be born in America and Christine made the journey when she was twelve from Denmark.
I assume Luman and some of my other uncles are up on this roof for any number of  "boyish" reasons that I have learned being a teacher myself to ranch boys at a one room school house!
Now the real mystery- why were these things saved? I don't have one valentine from my school days and very little essays and artwork and I am a Girl!! And not like number ten in a long line of children a mother has to keep track off. I have two girls and can barely remember to tuck away their school treasures.
Two things I can guess- and I am only guessing...I think that my great grandmother was more nostalgic with Luman because he was one of the youngest of the children. I know I don't want to let go of my last baby.
Second, Luman had to tuck some of this stuff away himself, it had to at least get home safe and that believe me is a feat, making it from the school down the country lanes on a bus or walking to home, where kids, dogs, getting the mail, petting the cow, playing in the mud might happen before school books are laid on the kitchen table. Again, I know this from being the teacher on one end and a mom on the other!

Luman was a quiet man. Of course I knew him in his later years, and he always took a backseat to my Aunt Roberta who probably was one of the first to wear man's pants and took command around her at all times. Luman loved dogs, working in his garden or being in his workhop that smelled like wood chips and was alway neat and tidy.
I wonder if amongst being one of the boys "on the place", working the land with my grandfather James and all his brothers...

Here are  two of the older brothers, believe me there was a peeking order and Luman was never at the top of it, so doubt he was the one who got to drive the team and that has to be my Great Grandfather James on the right. Love the pipe, could be my Great Uncle Clive, who I sure liked and is the only uncle I remember with a pipe, though my mom could figure out better who all these are.
The boy on the end could be Luman, for the way he is sitting...

Look at all that hay! picked up by hand, with a pitch fork no less!

The relics of the past are sure interesting but there is no way we can understand completely the people who left them behind. But this box makes me wonder, that perhaps in a family so known for their hard work and being practical "Danes", maybe my Uncle Luman was a bit of a quiet dreamer.
As an art teacher of "ranch boys", I can tell you there is no rhyme or reason for which ones will think making them do art is sure torture or which ones will loose themselves for an hour painting away before they go out to recess and wrestling someone in the dirt for no good reason!

Friday, January 20, 2012

IF: Twirl

I don't know about your dogs, but with snow finally coming to Colorado, our dogs won't even take a twirl around the backyard before they are demanding to come back in, the big dogs bashing themselves against the door and the little bouncy one jumping up and down like a poogoo stick to peer throug the window!!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Finally, we woke up to snow- the whiteish reflection evident in the bedroom when the sun was coming up! None too soon, took a hike yesterday and were amazed at the bareness of the Blues in Utah and the San Juans, here in Colorado surounding us on the horizion!
Now, we can complain about all the incoviences snow brings with it, like, "ahhhhh, I wanted to go to town and now need to shovel off the car... and the roads!!!"

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

IF: Grounded

These guys and gals better be grounded, before they try and take another step. Got to say that Ice Climbing has to be a sport that I do not understand- but it is awful exciting to watch, so colorful for the eye!
Each time they take a step, they kick seveal time with their crampons, metal teeth attached to their boots and make darn sure they are secure and grounded!
The little mining town of Ouray is a mecca for ice climbers. It's on the other side of the San Juan Mountains- literally- you make a loop- Durango, over  Hesperus Pass, Dolores, over Lizardhead Pass, Telluride,  over Dallas Divide, Ridgeway and Ouray, over Red Mountain Pass, Silverton, over Molas and Coalbank Pass and then back to Durango- you can do it in a day and still stop somewhere and walk around and grab a bite. The trip is like a slow moving rollercoaster, with 1,000 foot drop off, but some view!
We don't get much past Telluride, but Ouray is pretty amazing too, way more rugged than the ski resort and not so glamorfied!
We do need to get over there this winter to take watch the ice climbers. They actually have an ice park, where in a deep rocky raven, the city sprays the sides of the rock walls with water until it is a ice climbing playground!

Since it rigt below one of the main roads, you can easily watches these guys (and gals)...who maybe are not that well "mentally grounded" now that I think about it!!!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year from 8,700 Feet

We were here New Year's Eve Day, up the canyon at Telluride...

to meet up with Daughter #1 and The Boyfriend and The Boyfriend's family for lunch, which was very enjoyable and then it was up the mountain to watch the kids " shred some nard." whatever that means...
Then since parents are such a downer to a day of "Nard shredding" we let them loose, warmed up with some hot chocolate, and headed back down...
 to the old mining town's main street, that has to be one of the prettiest in Colorado...what an amazing undertaking for the merchants who came to sell to the miners so far back in such a desolate place. 
 By 2 o'clock, the sun had already given up on the south side of the canyon, where ice had claimed the roads and alleys...
And would not be melting until Spring. Snow on the other hand was late in coming to this ski resort along with the whole of Southwest Colorado. The north slope still covered with its Fall brown blanket...
and Colorado Street barren of snow...
But Christmas had definitely come and gone, the merchants of Telluride making sure that the store fronts were properly decorated and a glow to entice the chilled passerbyers to come in out of the cold...

Of course it is Telluride so at the end of December there were more than a few bikes around. See those grey lines on the tires...
snow chains, no kidding!

And there was a dog, tied up in front of  Steaming Bean Coffee...
waiting for someone to come out. We went in, chilly after walking around and this time got some hot, hot tea...
and perused my Christmas gift from Jon, a Kindle Fire. Actually, Jon perused it, I watched life go by and got inspired to do an illustration from inside the Steaming Bean, which still has the Victorian stamped tin ceiling and high windows that provided another interesting view of the lab waiting outside and the passerbyers. I loved  the warm glow of the coffee shop, against the cold darkening street outside- might be kind of interesting in a fabric collage...
But since it is just a gleamer of an idea this last day of 2011, it will have to get in line behind the pieces waiting on my work table- Migration through Moab, Rush Hour on the Rez and the more formed idea resting in the files of my computer- View From a Tent.
May 2012 bring this illustrations and many more to completion and may you also have a lovely and productive year!