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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
Read the rest of this entry »
The Plaza Hotel and Neighbor
Stern and Nahm Building
Don’t Fence Me In
Edges Are Not Always Sharp.
Firefighters. 💙
The Old Kiva Theater.
Do You Want Door Number One?
Or Door Number Two?

Today’s gratitudes:

  • Clouds
  • Getting everything done
  • A moment of silence for the first anniversary of the King Soopers shooting
  • Daffodils pushing up through the cold earth

Today’s gratitudes:

  • Waking up with my husband
  • Seeing the first Robin
  • New friends
  • Catnaps
Never forget to look up.

I am pleased to report that I’ve heard birds in our trees the last two mornings and that the daffodil blades have broken through the dirt.

I’ve written about losing my journals, my words, those memories. But as a photographer, I’ve lost thousands of images that were taken in a pre-digital era. And that really hurts. I’m not alone in this. The images that I’ve shared of the cozy house were sent to me by a professional photographer from town who also lost decades of her beautiful work.

Believe me, I continue to beat myself up with “Why didn’t I transfer all those images to a digital platform?” Because it took time and money and resources that I didn’t have. “Why didn’t I take those photo albums on the top shelf of the bookcase – there were at least 15 – with me?” Because I didn’t have space for them yet. “Why didn’t I at least take the notebooks of negatives?” Because, and so much of it comes down to this, I thought the cozy house was a safe place. I thought it was invincible. I was wrong.

Perhaps I should have known better.

In 2013, the cozy house was hit by the 100 (or 10 or 1,000 or 10,000) year flood. The root cellar filled with water and the kitchen and two rooms had about four inches of muddy water, but the cozy house stood firm. Some boxes of photos were close to the floor of the cat room at the time. Much later, Ex-Pat brought them to the Bungalow, damaged as they were and I tucked them away to sadly deal with later. I guess today is later.

I brought some up from the basement today. Decades of photos stuck together. So I’ve spent some time meticulously pulling them apart. The mud has acted like glue in some cases, so if I can get a fingernail inserted into a stack, I can flex them a little, then a little more, and then still a little more, until I can gently separate them. Sometimes I lose a little backing. Sometimes some of the photo tears off. But overall, I’m making some progress.

These are mostly images from my travels, and that’s nice but what I was hoping to find are images from K’s childhood. There are some – of her and her best friend at the Renaissance Festival, of her time at Calwood – but not what I’m looking for. And none as yet of the house. I’ve lost my pictures of Scotland from when I was pregnant, and that’s a tough one. That was a very happy time. And the picture of K and ex-Pat taken right after she was born. You’ve never seen any newborn look more like she was saying, “WTH. PUT ME BACK.” She wasn’t even crying, just glaring at the camera from under her tiny knitted hat that hospital staff put on her little head.

On one bright note, I have one box of albums from my Mother (another was lost to the flames). When K was born, my mother asked me to get duplicates of the pictures I took and send them to her. It gives my heart a flare of hope that I have some of those. Now I just have to find the box in our Indiana Jones movie warehouse of a cellar filled with boxes.

A rescued favorite. Tortola, 2004.

Fire and I have had a lifelong complicated relationship. Actually, it extends into a past life relationship, but that’s a little too woo-woo for me to get into just now.

Growing up, the fireplace was a focal point in my parent’s house. A cord of wood was dumped in the garage (which was never used as a garage) every year and my dad would stack it and chop it as needed. When it turned cold, we’d stack wood in the basement to avoid having to go outside to get it. Kindling came from the pecan trees, supplemented by newspaper, of which there was no shortage, since my dad took at least six papers. While we had a furnace – a big old scary roaring cast iron thing in the basement – my parents, being depression era children, always kept the house cold, using the fireplace as a major heat source.

We had a fire almost every night from Fall through Spring. Little me learned how to tell if it was smoking into the living room and point that out to my dad. Bigger me learned how to fix it when it was smoking. On cold mornings, I would scrape the ashes looking for some extra warmth from the coals like Cinderella. Scraping through the ashes of the cozy house, even 10 days after the fire, I found warm spots that reminded me of my Cinderella mornings.

E-Bro melted the soles of numerous pairs of shoes reading on the floor in front of the fireplace. One summer morning, when I was very small, my parents tucked him just a tiny bit up the chimney in a Santa Claus costume and surprised me with Santa’s visit. I still remember how thrilled I felt.

The chimney caught fire once and the fire department came to put it out. I was always nervous when we cleaned out the chimney after that. One day, after a night where the fire didn’t draw well, my sixth grade English teacher took me aside and asked me kindly if my home had caught fire because my hair smelled so much like smoke.

In college in Boston, I made the decision to leave as I stood at my window and watched the building across the street from my brownstone dorm go up in violent flames, set alit by an arsonist terrorizing the area. As it burned, I thought, “I am too young for this.”

In college in Boulder, I lived on the top back room of a rooming house that was otherwise occupied by six guys of questionable character in their 30s. One morning, after being awake for 48 hours between work and disasterous midterms, I was finally sleeping when someone pounded on my door. I was charming and cursed at them and told them to go away. This person said, in exactly the tone you would expect, “Well, EXCUSE ME, but your house is on fire and I THOUGHT YOU’D LIKE TO KNOW.” Which it was. I struggled into my red and white striped robe, stumbled barefoot down the stairs past the quickly charring door of the room on fire, just missing the explosion of the front window. Someone gave me a pair of tennis shoes since I was barefoot on this November morning. Turns out one of my fellow tenants went to the Mental Health Center and told them he’d just set his room on fire and there were people sleeping in the house. The Fire Department got the fire under control, though that tenant’s room was completely destroyed. The firefighters had kicked in my unlocked door and checked to be sure the fire hadn’t breached the walls. I didn’t have much, but everything I owned smelled like smoke for weeks. I moved my bed into the empty attic and left my clothes outside in the cold to air them.

After college, still in Boulder, ex-Pat and I watched smoke and ash creep towards our North Boulder apartment over Mt. Sanitas. It was nerve wracking. I went through a small phase of insanity in which I’d chase wildfires when I knew they were burning in the hills. That stopped one day when my truck got stuck and I watched a ridge across from me burn, the fire’s fingers greedily creeping toward me. It was a miracle that I got myself unstuck. I was in the application process to become a wildfire fighter when I broke my foot, dashing that goal.

In the cozy house in Superior, the fireplace took up half of the living room wall. It was romantic at times, comforting at times, frustrating at times. I learned how to build a good fire. I chopped wood without losing any appendages. There was always a fire in the fireplace on Christmas morning, just like we had in my parents’ house. Ironic that the chimney is the only thing left standing. The fireplace felt like the heart of the house.

Living in the Cottage, I watched the Four Mile fire consume familiar hillsides. I watched the Colorado Springs fire on TV in the Bungalow and have never seen anything that more closely resembled what I’d imagine Hell to look like.

Until now. I still can’t visualize what the hell of this fire looked like but I can see the hell it has left behind. The loss and heartbreak that it has created are our own personal little hells.

I worry that the Retreat might be subject to fire. It’s in the woods, in the mountains, almost to be expected. MKL is wise to tell me not to think of it so I don’t draw it to us. But I feel like fire has licked at my heels my whole life. It just hasn’t gotten me yet. I really hope it’s done trying.

I don’t think this lovely, sea-encrusted relic would be able to do much harm now. But in its day…

IMG_7589
Cozumel, Mexico.

Quote of the day: “The sound of a kiss is not so loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a great deal longer.”  — Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Daily gratitudes:
The prairie dog sitting on his little mound, watching the world go by
Using my bus time as writing time
MKL
Women’s war stories
Teaching Kelsea to make my secret-super-special devilled eggs

My memory. My memories. They are elusive at times, and at other times, random memory flash to front of my mind. On the bus home, I thought of two metal snakelike belts that I had about 30 years ago, one silver, one gold. I can remember the feel of them in my hands. I can remember when I had to stop wearing them because the clasp was bent in an irreparable way. They weren’t particularly special and I’ve owned hundreds of articles of clothing. So why would that just pop into my mind as I gazed at the mountains? It makes me think that everything – everything – we have done, experienced, thought, dreamed, smelled, or felt is stored in our brains, if we could only access it all. As my memory tends to fail me more often than I’d wish – because of concussions, West Nile, Dengue, or overload – I find the thought that it’s all in there, stored in the gray matter, quite a comfort, and a beacon of hope. I keep that dim fear of Alzheimer’s, which my mother had, though she remained blessedly asymptomatic until the end, tucked away in a corner pocket of my consciousness somewhere, but I wonder, if it were ever to strike me, would I have more access to those seemingly insignificant memories, like the feel of a belt in my hand?

If objects have memory (and I suspect they do), imagine the memory of this bannister, of the hands that touched it over the last 250 years.

IMG_6288
Beaufort, North Carolina.

Quote of the day: “There are too many books I haven’t read, too many places I haven’t seen, too many memories I haven’t kept long enough.” — Irwin Shaw

Daily gratitudes:
The man who rescued the terrified cat from the side of the speeding eight-lane interstate
Early evening light
Clean sheets
Sending my daughter to do the grocery shopping when I don’t feel good
Outlander

Fishing is still one of the primary industries of the small town of New Quay, which was once known for its shipbuilders. Located along Cardigan Bay, which is home to bottleneck dolphins, the town has made its mark as a spot for tourists on The Dylan Thomas Trail.

New Quay, Ceredigion, West Wales.

Quote of the day: “Be not the slave of your own past – plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep, and swim far, so you shall come back with new self-respect, with new power, and with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old.”  —  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Daily gratitudes:
The scent of early fall
Roosters crowing in town
The irrational number of pillows on my  bed
Quick egg sandwiches
Sleeping with the windows open

June 2022
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