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Well, not quite stars, but as close as one can get without being under the heavens themselves. A perfect wedding tent, pasha-like with tulle and sparkling, twinkling lights, under which to celebrate.


Sedalia, Colorado

Quote of the day: “Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven,
Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.” — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Daily gratitudes:
A day with MKL
Beach dreams
Tonight’s amazing full moon
Sleeping in and well
That MKL brought me coffee in bed this morning

You are perhaps wondering why you are reading a blog with a picture of a parking lot. There are two reasons tonight. The first is because I believe in seeing beauty in everything – even the light cast in the darkness of a parking lot, catching the glint of a stream of still puddles. The second is because parking has been a significant issue in the life of my darling daughter throughout her last two years of high school, since she’s been driving. Her school offers rather elitist parking alternatives. Either pay to park in the senior lot (but only if you’re a senior) or park along the 1.5 mile stretch of road alongside the school grounds, which are situated in the middle of a nice neighborhood. She’s a bit of a socialist (like me) and believes it’s wrong to have to pay to park in the lot of a school that you’re attending, and particularly unfair since not everyone has the financial means to do so. Which leaves her with free on-street parking. Needless to say, this free parking is only parallel parking (which even at my age is a nearly impossible challenge) and spots anywhere near the school fill up incredibly early. So for the past two years, I have received texts in the morning that say things like “I had to park in Nebraska and it will take me three hours to walk to class. Do I have to go to school today?” or “Everyone is stupid.” or “I. Can’t. Even.”

This image is not of that parking area. This image is of a spacious parking area that represents freedom and possibilities and how light can shine from the darkness, and that there are places where parking is not a struggle. In other words, today was my darling daughter’s last day of high school, and she will never again have to endure the frustration of parking along Greenbriar Boulevard. And she is to me a shining light that will brighten the future for more people than she will ever know.

Parking Lot - 2

Quote of the day: “My turn shall also come:
I sense the spreading of a wing.”  — Osip Mandelstam

Daily gratitudes:
Dinner with Kelsea
That no one was hurt when a car hit my bus this morning
How much Mary Roach’s books make me laugh
Chats with Christine
That my Texas friends in Runaway Bay survived the tornado with minimal damage

There is always much to celebrate, but some days more than others.  And some days, nothing but champagne will do.

Boulder, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “There comes a time in every life when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your heart.”  —  Sarah Dessen

Daily gratitudes:
Women with long white hair
Stargazer lilies
The sounds that chickens make in the mornings
My daily dragonfly sighting
Being able to laugh at yourself when you forget how to spell a simple word you’ve known forever (I had to pick a different word.)


Photo title: Sail On, My Sailor

Diamond Cay, Jost van Dyke, British Virgin Islands.

I miss you, Riz.

Quote of the day: “”Sunset and evening star, And one clear call for me! And may there be no moaning of the bar When I put out to sea.”  —  Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Daily gratitudes:
My brain
My heart
A pink sunset
Warm days
A summer that has leapt into full bloom

Dead birds may be dropping from the skies, but in one Colorado town, on a spectacular January morning, the things falling from the heavens weren’t birds – they were fruitcakes.

Yes, those fruitcakes.  The bane of the holiday existence.  Those glutinous lumps of dough chock full of nuts, candied fruit, fruit rinds, dried fruit that you’ve never heard of, and alcohol (but not enough alcohol).  The occasion to celebrate this much-maligned baked good?  The 16th Annual Fruitcake Toss, held in the tiny – and undeniably quirky – town of Manitou Springs.

It was truly an amazing day, weather-wise.  The sky was a deep turquoise blue, it was warm and windless.  Just what we love to see here in Colorado.  Of course, tomorrow’s forecast calls for snow, but as we say here, if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.

The event had, in previous years, been held in a park in the center of town, but apparently the park wasn’t long enough to accommodate the distance some fruitcakes were wont to fly.  I suspect a few parked cars bore the brunt of a few errant pastries.  So the festivities have moved to the high school football field, high above the town.

There’s  a great view of Pike’s Peak in one direction:

and the red rocks on the north side of town in the other. 

It was a little icy going up the hill – OK, it was a lot icy.  I skidded, which was kind of fun, but the fire truck behind me did a 180, which I don’t think they found as enjoyable. 

(Isn’t it creepy when the word you are typing is spoken on the TV just as you’re typing it?  That just happened with the word “bleachers'” – I’m watching Jeopardy.)  The bleachers looked like the place to be, so I started out there, sitting in front of two large, charming lesbians with a nervous chihuahua dressed in a baby T-shirt with a baby plaid overshirt.  What an excellent and inexpensive idea for dressing your dog.  If there is such a thing as an excellent idea for dressing your dog.  They were forced to leave when the booming noises of the spud-guns were terrifying poor Chewie to the point that he was shaking uncontrollably, even in their comforting arms. 

The kids from one of the local schools sang a truly inspirational song called “Everlasting Fruitcake” and actually sang it very well.  They weren’t shy about belting out the lyrics or doing the accompanying mini-skit.  It was refreshing and funny, and who knows?  We may see some of these kids on American Idol in a few years. 

The bleachers gave me a front row seat for the performance, but they were too far from the action for my taste, and the sun was in my eyes, so I headed down onto the field to inspect the proceedings up close and personal.  Besides, I had to get a little nearer to the random armadillo mascot:

There were a lot of good photo ops of a seemingly infinite number of cute children:

As a warm-up, the Fruitcake Honor Guard had set up four spud canons which we spectators were invited to fire off. 

To prepare the weapons, the Honor Guard greased them and loaded them with a potato using a giant Q-Tip like plunger.

Well, I’m not one to resist adding something new to the life-list, so I fired off one of those babies and shot a potato all the way past the uprights at the opposite end of the field.  I may have a new career.  Unfortunately, they wouldn’t let me hold it on my shoulder like a bazooka.  That would have just enhanced the awesomeness.  Since I was flying solo today, I haven’t got a picture of me firing my massive phallic weapon, but this will give you an idea:

Thank heavens my form was better than this gentleman’s.

The first official event was the Great Fruitcake Toss, with categories for kids, women, men, men over 60 and women over 60.  If by chance you didn’t bring your own fruitcake, you could rent one for $2.  I’ll say upfront that my impaired shoulder prevented me from participating, but there’s always next year!  And by the way, all proceeds (and canned food donations) went to the very worthy local charity, Westside Cares – and everything was staffed and provided by volunteers.

We started out with the kid’s fruitcake toss, and some of the kids made some pretty impressive throws, exceeding 70 feet. 

As is the case in almost every children’s event these days, everyone was the winner. (Don’t get me started.)  And everyone who participated won a cool little catapult, complete with a marshmallow for firing.  These remarkably study devices provided endless amusement for many small fry for the rest of the morning.

Next came the women’s fruitcake toss.  The mayor opened the event, but her toss was pretty lame – clearly, things weren’t rigged in her favor.  The mayor is, most improbably, the woman in the brown shirt in this photo:

The women seemed to put more stock in their throwing style than the men.  I suppose that’s why they didn’t toss the fruitcakes as far – or as accurately.  We in the crowd really needed to stay alert.  And of course, the one moment when I let my attention wander, I looked up to see a festive red fruitcake barreling through the air directly towards my head.  Only a quick backstep AND a suave lean, saved me from a fate worse than being hit in the face by a fruitcake…oh, wait…. The winner (yes, there was an actual winner in this one – the lady in red in the photo below) threw her fruitcake an astounding 197 feet (and ground rolls count in the measurements). 

Sign that girl up!

The men were the last blast.  They were dedicated to getting up to the line and throwing with all their might.  Which made it more embarrassing when their tosses flew a paltry 25 feet or so.  But one gentlemen nailed that fruitcake – a whopping 371 feet!  Another guy (the man in black below) drove all the way from Arkansas to toss his fruitcake, which I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around.

There were two varieties of fruitcakes in evidence: the round version and the rectangular-log version.  Those tossing the round version clearly had an aerodynamic advantage, and an added advantage if their pitch hit the ground with a good rolling momentum. 

As all this tossing was going on, the announcer, a native Manitou Springer, was alternately looking for her co-announcer by calling “Dad! DAD?” (he was down on the field socializing with the contestants), and providing us with interesting fruitcake trivia and statistics, including:

  • 23 million fruitcakes are produced each year
  • Canadian TSA no longer allows fruitcakes in carry-on luggage, as they are too dense for the X-Rays to penetrate
  • A large dog is indeed capable of eating 30 loaves of 7-year old fruitcake
  • Fruitcakes can be used as doorstops, lethal weapons, paving stones or boat anchors
  • The average fruitcake weighs two pounds
  • A fruitcake stored in an airtight tin can remain edible (if you want to call it that) for 26 years

It was now time for the main event: the launching of the fruitcake. There were about eight entrants, some with massive slingshots:

A superb crossbow:

Some with excellent catapults:

And some with pneumatic cannons:

One entrant launched a stuffed Tigger and a stuffed Nemo along with his fruitcake, all from one blast of the cannon.  Poor Tigger’s head survived intact but there was a massacre of stuffing stretching the length of the field.  Here’s Tigger’s last view – would that mine will be this lovely.

A few attempts fell far short of expectations – literally.  A few fruitcakes exploded upon firing, showering us spectators with chunks of cake and candied citron, which can cause eye injury at the appropriate velocity.  But once the crumbs had cleared, the indisputable winners were…

Fruitcakes of Mass Destruction, whose bicycle-powered pneumatic cannon fired an event-record-setting toss of over 1400 feet.  That fruitcake went so far up in the air that I thought it might collide with one of the air force planes that was entertaining us with fly-overs. 

And it wound up way up on the hillside at the far end of the football field.  Little critters will be champing fruitcake up there for weeks to come.

Somehow, I missed the Accuracy competition, and the Fruitcake Catch – I’d have liked to have seen that one.

I came away with a slightly sunburned face, a smile, and a new appreciation for creativity and small-town spirit.  Manitou Springs is a place I’ve often thought I’d like to live.  That won’t happen any time soon, but I, for one, will be there for the Emma Crawford Wake and Coffin Races in October, just to share in the sense of community, fun and blog fodder. 

Maybe I’ll even bring a fruitcake.

I love Christmas.  I do.  I always have.  It has always been the bright spot in the bleakness of winter for me.

I love the decorations.  Driving through neighborhoods and voyeuristically peeking into semi-parted curtains to see a tree alight, in a house atwinkle, with reindeer and Santas and snowmen and who knows what grazing on the front lawn – I am like a little kid again, mouth agape with wonder and delight.  Seriously!

I like Christmas shopping – I do it all year long.   And you have to keep in mind that I am not a shopper, at least not when it comes to myself.  I have a talent for giving good presents and I accumulate them in the course of the year.  Sometimes I even forget what I’ve bought for people; had this year been a bit calmer, I had intended to wrap and tag each gift as I bought it, so I would be as surprised as the recipient when it came time for opening.  But I especially like Christmas shopping at this time of year, because everyone seems so happy and festive and friendly. 

I like Christmas carols, tree decorating, hanging stockings – the whole nine yards.  So how is it that I have wound up in the midst of a clan of people who don’t like Christmas?

Kelsea is agreeable to looking at the lights and of course, she likes the presents.  But she doesn’t have the bug – she could take or leave the whole thing, really.  Pat has never given a reindeer’s ass about the holiday – he feels it’s forced.  My former brother/sister-in-law did Christmas up right when their daughters were little.  Now they’re off somewhere in a motor home and won’t be coming back, and my nieces dislike Christmas to the point that they’d taken to celebrating it at New Year’s, if at all.  My now-former-guy didn’t like Christmas either; he had some good reasons, but regardless he wanted nothing to do with it.  I still bought him presents, because that’s just me.

So I look at this sorry bunch of gloomy pusses who have been closest to me and I ask myself, “How can I maintain my Christmas cheer and spirit, even in the midst of a (thankfully soon to be ending) hellacious year without imbibing in exceptionally massive quantities of alcohol?”  And I answer myself, “I dunno, what are you asking ME for?” or, on bad days, “You can’t, so just break out to intoxicants and get it over with.”  But I rarely listen to myself, since I tend to babble a lot.

I haven’t forgotten the true meaning of Christmas as a time of peace and celebration of the birth of a very wise teacher.  But it is easy to get swept up in the commercialism of the holiday, and the charitable part of me would say that’s what my scrooges don’t like.  But I know that’s not true.  At any rate, I try to make sure that as part of my own personal celebration, I keep the thoughts of faith and wonderment in mind and heart.

So here we are, a week before Christmas.  My house looks like a hurricane blew through and then came back for seconds.  Never the tidiest housekeeper, in the throes of urgh this week, I’ve really let things go.  I don’t have a tree.  Nothing is wrapped.  No decorations have emerged.  The one box I have to mail isn’t mailed.  I am tempted to just let it all go, and not have a tree.  But I regretted that the one year I didn’t.  And if this is my last Christmas in the Cottage, I think I’d like to do it right.  Which means that today is the day.  The elf, completely unaided by any of the scrooges, sets forth and boldly tidies, rearranges, moves furniture, throws things away, unburies the tree stand, buys a little tree and makes the magic happen.  And you know what?  The scrooges who are around will love it.  Never in a million years would they admit it, but it will stir a peace and pleasure in their little scroogey hearts, just like the three visiting spirits did with Old Eb in the Dickens novel.

The Elf triumphs yet again.

Gratitude list for the day (so far):  how the warm sunlight streaming through my bedroom window reminds me of the Caribbean; my grumpy daughter; my dreamcatcher hung upon the bed; when thoughts of the future turn hopeful; Hemingway.

It’s not as if cows hibernate.  But today is a day for a short cow write.  (Not a write about short cows, but a short write about cows.) 

Why?  A few reasons.

Today is the anniversary of the first and only cow being milked in flight.  Yes, 80 years ago today, Elm Farm Ollie, aka Nellie Jay aka Sky Queen, a docile half-ton Guernsey from Sunnymede Farms in Bismarck, Missouri, boarded a Ford Tri-Motor Airplane for the 72 mile flight to the International Air Festival in St. Louis. 


Nellie was an exceptionally productive milk cow, and couldn’t wait until she landed, so she produced 24 quarts of milk en route, which was then dropped to the ground in small paper containers attached to mini-parachutes.  Elsworth W. Bunce had the honor of milking the bovine aviatrix.  It is rumored that some of the milk was served to Charles Lindbergh at the festival. 

The anniversary of this historic event is celebrated annually in the small Wisconsin town of Mount Horeb at their Mustard Museum.  Nellie Jay also has had an opera written about her exploits, called Madam Butterfat.

So, that’s one reason.


The second reason is even more important to me!  And it is this….

Calving season has begun!!!

Yes, perhaps it’s a little early, and no, I don’t own a cow, or a calf for that matter.  (Though I always said that if I ever had another baby (not going to happen) that I’d like for it to be born during calving season.)

When driving Highway 36 into Boulder, you pass by some open space that is still reserved for ranching.  Every winter, the farmers who graze their cattle in these wide, expansive fields move the herds elsewhere.  In the spring, when it’s calving time, they move them back, a few cows at a time.

Yesterday, I discovered that the first prodigal cows have returned, and with them are their itty-bitty calves.  They look like little spots on the grey-green grass, but soon there will be dozens of them, romping, kicking up their little calf heels and dozing in the bovine nurseries.  And THAT’S how you know that spring is really coming.

July 2020


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