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Corners Diner, which looks sadly defunct.
Such unique rock formations.
Curves ahead.
Roadside barn.
And roadside shed.
My stomach was disappointed that it could not have a burger at the Dog Bar. A little too early for the season.
Happy Mailboxes.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • That MKL came up for the day
  • Only nine more days until I actually live with my husband
  • That the Fire Department is trying to contain the fire four miles northwest of here (which is really stressing me out)
  • A successful experimental smoothie

I’m really not traveling the county roads in numerical order – though that might be fun.

But this one was irresistible.
Down the tracks.
And always look both ways.
Sketchy bridge ahead.
The Sangre de Cristos in one direction…
And the Spanish Peaks in the other. I have a particular fondness for the Spanish Peaks.
They all came running up to the fence to say hello. I think they liked my music. I blew them a kiss as I left.
This is the kind of mountain I used to draw as a child, basically a triangle. I love the way the rooftop echoes the peak’s contours.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • Dirt roads
  • An annual State parks pass
  • Meadowlarks
  • Getting gas for under $4.00/gallon

Welcome to the second edition of Feed Me Fridays! Today, in honor of Good Friday (aren’t all Fridays good though, really?), I give you my ridiculously good sugar cookie recipe. I have given up sugar since Lent began, though I’m not of a faith that celebrates, requires, or encourages me to mark Lent. Sugar is a hard addiction to break and I know I’m better off when I’m not eating sugary stuff, so I’m not sure I’ll go back to doing so come Easter. That said, if you’ve given it up like me, YOU can start eating sugary stuff on Easter Sunday and I suggest you start with these little noms. Here we go:

  • 2 3/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. salted butter (2 sticks), room temperature (I usually soften it in the microwave)
  • 1c. + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. granulated sugar (for rolling)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugars together until light in color and fluffy (medium speed if you’re using a mixer, which I never do). Add the egg and mix until well combined. Add the vanilla and mix until well combined. Add the dry ingredients and (guess what?) mix until well combined. The dough will be thick but not sticky.

Using your hands, make ping pong ball-sized balls of cookie dough, gently roll each in sugar, and put on your cookie sheet. Space them a couple of inches apart, as they will spread, but if they spread into each other, they just form giant cookies, so don’t worry about it too much. Bake for 8 minutes and check to see how they’re doing. They will spread and their centers will look soft. If that hasn’t happened yet, bake for up to 12 minutes. Remove them just before the edges begin to turn golden. This is important – if you overbake them, they won’t be chewy, which is key to their deliciousness. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 4-5 minutes; they will fall as they cool. Transfer cookies to a towel or wire rack to cool completely. Or just eat them all right away. I find that simpler.

Makes 30-40 cookies, depending on how big your balls are. (I said what I said.)

Remember that I don’t take good pictures of food, so here is a cat with rainbow sneakers.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • Picking the next book to read
  • Sunshine
  • A day off
  • Wrestling with Headless Matilda

Via a rather circuitous route that included Hwy 69, Hwy 96, and Hwy 165.

The Sangre de Cristo range.
Abandoned.
But still watchful.
The Three Trees.
Contrasts.
My Best Friend.
Grazing.
Aspens on the verge of Spring.
Higher and higher.
I found some bison!
Along the road home.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • Trying to figure out the cat
  • The first tree in bloom
  • That K is back safely from her trip
I suppose it’s more of a ghost community than a ghost town.
It was right on the side of the road, up a small hill, with a great view.
Window frames seem to stand the test of time.
This table didn’t fare quite as well.
This looks like the sort of door I might have made.
Remarkably, the only graffiti in the town.
Leftover.
The sunroom.
As I stood before this doorway, I heard a sound. It sounded like a long, low, gentle bray, like a distant donkey. There was no wind. I surveyed the landscape and saw no beasties. I’ve decided it was a ghost donkey, just letting me know it was there. Otherwise, I got no vibes of the past from the little community.
In the shade.
But with a view.
I loved exploring this place. Admittedly, It was a little dicey, as many of the places I walked were clearly above rooms dug into the hillside. I knew there was a risk of falling through. But what’s life without a little risk? The only thing missing from this part of the adventure was K. She’d have loved it.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • What aspen leaves look like when they start to bud
  • Fuzzy socks
  • Robins

Sunday was a day for adventures.

I discovered Red Wing Cemetery (the Old Crestone Cemetery) along a county road taken on impulse.
I was hard pressed to find any markers later than 1930.
Many only had rough, but lovely, carvings. I kept thinking of the people who so diligently inscribed these stones and how they were feeling at the time.
Amazing to me that the large marble embedded in this one has been left untouched for over 90 years.
Many graves had no names, just rough wooden crosses, or nothing at all. But I could still see mounds and stones that indicated those otherwise unmarked.
This was the fanciest marker in the cemetery.
A little patriotism thrown in for good measure.
At the foot of the sandstone cliffs with a view of the mountains is not a bad spot to rest until your next go-round.

Very early in my cemetery browsing days, I learned not to step directly on graves. In this one, it was nearly impossible to tell, so I found myself continually and spontaneously apologizing, just in case.

Daily gratitudes:

  • That the wind has calmed (for now)
  • That the power is back on (again, for now)
  • The long cat sleeping on my legs
  • Books
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My coffee and I sit at our round table with our unconventional breakfast, looking through cookbooks to plan our week’s meals. My own handwritten notes are familiar even though they were written 20 years ago. Books being sacred objects, I was aghast the first time ex-Pat made notes in a cookbook. Over the years, he convinced me to do so, but only in pencil, and as minimally as possible, to convey the changes I’d made.

Those notes from 20 years ago….they transport me back to the Cozy House, to my slope-floored kitchen with its knotty pine cabinets. To the Mother-in-Law’s tongue that my co-worker Sandy gave me decades ago, thriving in a pot in the corner. The dogs’ and cats’ food and water dishes slightly underfoot on the lavender linoleum. The Asian blue patterned containers holding the cooking utensils on the counter next to the little one cup coffee maker. The bottom drawer where the casserole dishes lived, the one that always went cattywampus when I tried to close it. My beloved Norge stove.

We never ate dinner at the kitchen table, only breakfast on weekdays, just as it had been at my parents’ house growing up. I tried to get us to do so once and only once. It was disastrous and all three of us wound be miserable.

Doing dishes, by hand as we never had a dishwasher, standing at the sink looking out into the backyard from the white-framed casement the window. My view was beneath the arch of a tree that was slowly growing its way into the house, bending the gutter a little more each year. Ex-Pat and I talked about one day remodeling the kitchen, making it bigger, though it was a good size already. We would have built out the kitchen around the tree, leaving it free to grow as tall and as strong as it wanted.

That view from the window had grown over the decades from a dirt yard with giant wooden spools as tables in various places, to a bower of beauty, with the greenhouse that ex-Pat had built by hand as its centerpiece. Beautifully cold in winter but always warm with memory of summer. Sparkling with promise in spring. Glowing with trailing golden cottonwood leaves in fall. And raging and singing in its glory on the warmest days and nights of summer,

It all lives only in my memory now, as I sit at a different table in a different life, the wind swishing the pine boughs outside the door, the blue sky shy beneath sheer white clouds, the Stellar’s Jay keeping silent company, my coffee now grown cold.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • That I’m alive
  • Cats
  • Music
  • Driving
  • Sweatshirts

Wind. I’ve never liked it, except when it rustles the fronds of the palm trees. Contradictorily, that’s my favorite sound. But I’d scarcely call that wind. That’s a breeze, gentle and joyful.

Wind is what we get here in the Front Range and the Wet Mountains. This is what took down a 75-foot tree that miraculously and by the slimmest of margins missed the Carriage House. This is what makes me look with great skepticism out of the living room window as another giant pine tree bends and twists against the blue sky, its trajectory perfectly aligned with my bedroom.

Wind is what never hesitates to remind me of the ruptured eardrum that I suffered at age two when my mother was in the hospital with pneumonia. Each time the wind, anywhere from lukewarm to freezing, gains access to my right ear, it hurts like the dickens.

Wind is why I don’t like Wyoming. It seems ever-present there. I recall spending a night in the back of my truck the summer after college trying to sleep through it – wasn’t sure if I was going to freeze or go mad, and it was June.

And wind is what led to the destruction of the Cozy House and an entire community. Wind that decide to dance with fire — and what a dance it was.

From the Retreat, I can’t see the wind coming because I’m already in it. But further away from the mountains, it’s easy to tell when it will be a day of the warm, dry, harsh winds that indigenous people used to call “snow eaters” and which we call Chinooks. There’s a bright clear sky and over the mountains, a thick shelf of white cloud in a straight line. If you’ve lived here long enough, you know to hang on to your small pets and tie down your trampolines when you see that anytime between November and April.

Ages ago, I read or someone told me that the indigenous people called them “the winds of madness”. I’ve never been able to find a source for that, but I don’t doubt it’s true. The sound, the uncertainty, the constancy of them can indeed make you feel more than a little crazy.

Unfortunately for too many of us, they now raise feelings of pain, fear, loss, anger, and trauma, digging into wounds that are only barely starting to scab over. I have reminded myself a dozen times today of the freakish circumstances that made me lose the Cozy House and that there’s nothing left to lose there now. But at the Retreat, I have the rest of what’s left to lose. It’s impossible not to think about it, about what I would take, about how to arrange the house so I could quickly pack those treasures I didn’t lose. About how a single spark from a cigarette tossed out of a car window on the Frontier Pathway could take all this away from me.

About how little control we actually have.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • Decent sleep
  • Wise decisions
  • Experimental cooking
  • Good books
Inside sunset.
Intimacy for four.
Inside Sunrise.
Waiting to be filled.
Lemon with water.
Wild zebra.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • A good hike
  • That Monday is almost over
  • My bathtub
  • Wearing MKL’s shirts when he’s not here
From the fifth floor down.
A room in the old part of the hotel.
Vintage bed frame.
Florals.
Sometime I’ll compare this image with the photo of the remains of my Mothers first typewriter, which I lost in the fire.
Not an orb to be seen.
Morning view.
Burlwood.
Waiting.
Fresh flowers.
Curves.
Handled.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • A quiet day
  • Backup offers
  • Cat snuggles
  • Decent yet exotic and entertaining dreams
November 2022
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