Friday, July 30, 2010

Estes Park

Heading into town for some supplies for the family reunion. Had a
great hike into the mountains yesterday. Ended up at a beautiful
lake at 10,000 feet... Let me tell you hiking 1000 feet at this
altitude was a huff and a puff!!

No cell phone reception. No Internet at our cabin. Whoa that takes a
bit of adjusting.

Will be touring the Stanley hotel this Afternoon where they filmed
"The Shining".

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

So very high

Just hit Estes Park

Estes Park hit back

7500 feet elevation

Our lodge is at 8600 feet

Deep breath!!

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, July 26, 2010

Toasting in Boulder......

Somewhere in the back of my brain.....I thought I was going to beat the southern heat on this vacation....right now I'm in Boulder and it's 90+ degrees....that's not my definition of cool.

It's been an interesting few days......went from Santa Fe to Taos...and spent two nights there.

Big mistake....found Taos boring. But did find the answer to a interesting question....remember hippies? wonder what happened to hippies who fried their brains.....good chance they moved to Taos.....man...I saw an incredible amount of feeble looking folks both young and old....and all of them seemed to be leashed to strange looking dogs......finally figured out that a lot of the dogs must be wold-cross breeds....cause their muzzle and stature just didn't fit the normal bow bow dogs you find elsewhere.

Bored we decided to leave the city on two adventures. Both interesting but unsuccessful.

First....we found a particular Indian artist whose speciality was engraved jet black pottery. Incredible stuff.....was just wowed by her pots. We heard you could drive up to the reservation and find the artist or perhaps a small shop with more of her pieces. So off we went to two Indian reservations. Once we got there....we had to register and then we were told you just walked around and looked for houses with the sign "open" on them. This meant an artist had pottery and was home for a look. I immediately felt uncomfortable. I imagined browsing through a small shop filled with local arts.....didn't expect to be going into people's houses. So....we walked through the village.....and knocked on a few doors with signs. People invited you into their homes....where they usually had a small display of their families goods. Trouble is....how do you politely say....I don't like any of your work when you're in some one's house? I claimed in one house the pottery was too small.....I claimed in another house....the pottery was too big.....I didn't claim.....I disliked their work. Since we were way off the beaten track we decided to go to another reservation....the San Carlos pueblo ....to track down our favorite artist. After several wrong turns....we ended up discouraged.....but found ourselves in the middle of a village. By gosh I looked up and there was a sign....with the artist's name we were looking for plus "open". All excited I knocked on her door .....but .....no one was home. Discouraged we went to the little village store and with the help of one of the locals....Paul Speckle Rock...found another piece which was quite remarkable but still not one of her works. I suppose when I get home I can try and track some of her pieces down on the internet....of course....I should have bought the piece I saw in Santa Fe ...the ol' better something in the hand then dreaming of what's in the bush.

Our next adventure took us out into the desert. I just wanted to drive around. I love these wide open places....I always feel like my mind, my spirit and my heart expands to fit the landscape. So we're....enjoying big sky big desert big mountains.....when we stumble upon a little town. The map states something about a hot spring. So we amble down a road....and find ourselves in the middle of this wonderful resort.....a health springs/spa resort. Posh looking....fountains gurgling....nestled against the desert hills. We enter the lobby and discover they allow walk ins to use the facilities...immediately I spot what I want......a private scented mineral springs bath.

I shower.....put on a loaner swimsuit....and walk to the bath house....just aching to slip into scented hot water and relax for a half an hour. But it's monsoon time in the mountains....and suddenly there's a clap of thunder and a brilliant blast of lightening. The employees emerge and shut down everything....including the bath house. No bathing in the springs for 25 minutes after the last flash of lightening. 24 minutes later....I'm watching the clock smiling..... soon I'm going to be floating in my tub.....when zip bang flash.....another bolt of lightening and a loud long rumble.....I sadly head back to the registration desk....for a refund....for now it will be another 45 minutes before they open the facility. Looking on the bright side....I did get to shower free in mineral water.

My final adventure in Taos was just cute.

The Bed and Breakfast we stayed at....had a resident peacock... George....a fat plump bird who was moulting and in heat. The Inn keeper warned my hub not to go near him since he intensely disliked men during his mating period. In fact, there were spray bottles around....to convince George to stop chasing a man. George, however, in his amorous state liked women. And on our last morning in Taos.....I was rewarded for being a female....George squawked at me......turned around and vigourously shook his bird butt at me....then turned again and gave me the full fan.....complete with some extra shaking.

He was gorgeous. Gorgeous George...and I was impressed and told him so. I've seen peacocks in pictures fully extended but I've never had one standing in front of me. Amazing....thank you George.

Amorous George doing his thing for me

Crossing into Colorado

Friday, July 23, 2010

Killer garden shops

I have a weakness for big garden pots so Santa Fe is like Sin City.

Life is full of compromises though....with only so much room in the
car...I had to scale down my desires. I ended up with one gorgeous
tall pot, one small garden bench and an anitque Chinese carrying box.

I really wanted a carved post to replace the New Mexico one I
purchased years ago when my daughter and I visited Sante Fe. It took
southern termites a dozen years to eat it ( I used it as an
interesting garden sculpture). Unfortunately I've downsized cars and
the pole won't fit in or on top of my vehicle. So small
bench it is.....

Downtown Sante Fe

Touristy.... But interesting for a brief walk around. Silver
jewelry. Indian pots...Mexican wares.....I really do like some of the
artistic Indian pottery. Later today we're headed into the mountains
to visit a particular Indian peublo that specializes in jet black clay
pots. Gorgeous .

Summer flowers

The locals call this "monsoon season". Afternoons usually bring a
storm. Consequently the air us exceptionally clear and wild flowers
bloom along the road like this small sunflower.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The panhandle of Texas

I can smell sagebrush.

Sagebrush

And the sun just set at 9 pm

We are flying along Interstate 40 headed West.

West

For so long my travels and vacations have taken me east.... I've
forgotten about warm dry evening breezes and yes...sagebrush

We have another 98 miles to go before we hit Amarillo, Texas but the
evening is soft..the traffic light...and the pungent scent of sage and
grass fills the car.

West .... We are headed west into a cloudless blue grey twilight.

Sent from my iPhone

You ready?



I'm ready......let's go.

Friday, July 16, 2010

My machete and me


I found dad's army issue World War II machete at the bottom of a box.

I asked hub to sharpen it.

Those wild vines in front of my house are going to howl.....lol.

~~~

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Successful experiment.....?

I found at least 5 bottles of Bombay Sapphire Gin in my parents house.

I was puzzled...I never saw them drink gin....so why 5 bottles?

I brought the bottles back home...and they sat and sat cause I didn't know any gin drinkers.

This evening.....my hub invented a drink....a gin drink...using the Bombay Sapphire Gin.

Laughing....... my vision decreased by 50%.....I think it's a success!!

Hail Bombay Sapphire gin!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Plan B

This weekend.....I broke down and cried.

My house has been taken over by my parents' things...boxes...furniture....papers... that I still need to go through and either save, donate or sell.

Although it took me a year to sell the house from the date of their deaths.....a year is not a lot of time to deal with their 80 plus years of accumulation.....when you are dealing with two people who were organized mini-hoarders.

When you layer this with the fact that I need new carpeting...need to repair a wall....need to paint a wall or two....and I can't get at my needs because of their stuff.....it's real nerve racking.

So I decided there were only two options....move all their stuff out of my house into a storage unit where I could pluck a few boxes a week and work on them....thus clearing my house so I can clean and do maintenance or put things in the garage. My hub didn't like the idea of moving trucks and hauling things far off....so he offered to help me start loading things up in our garage. We swept and cleaned and tidied the numerous boxes there....then started hauling stuff off....only keeping photos and materials that would be sensitive to heat in the house.

I can see progress already....and when I peered into some of the boxes I was stunned with some of the stuff I saved.....a box of "good" rags??? I guess I wasn't thinking too clearly.

Today....for the rest of the day....I'm going to continue to haul out stuff....and free our house from all the boxes. When this is done....I'll do our normal cleaning and repair work....then tackle things bit by bit.

Sometimes I am confused as to whether or not I'm "wasting" my time and life on stuff.

It's a bad feeling.

I'm hoping when the "stuff" is cleared out....life will feel better and the task of editing my parent's things won't be so overwhelming.

Sometimes and some days...I just want to donate everything and be done with it....but there is a part of me....perhaps because I am an only child.....which looks upon this stuff as a responsibility.
My parents....my maternal and paternal grandparents.....all their memories and all the things that made them who they are.....rest on my shoulders. If I don't organize the pictures....if I don't write the stories.....if I don't cull the junk from the true keepsakes....no body else will. Many people...many generations of families have died without leaving a trace....I suppose that is an option too....why hold so strongly on pretending that their lives were so important in the scheme of life?

I don't know how to answer that question....they and me .....we're just ordinary folks....what does it matter if our memories and who we are .....are preserved?

Perhaps the yearning for meaning....for a sense that all of this ....the breathing in and breathing out was worth something.

All I know right now...is for the next couple of hours...I will cull, discard, and repack stuff up and move it....and I will probably have to commit to one more year of work.....to get all this generational stuff organized.

I hope it was a good use of time, of life.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Saturday, July 10, 2010

It's always something in the South......


Oh I got turtles.....

third one in two weeks....slowly toddling up the front walkway as if they planned to knock on my door and say Howdy.

Trouble is.....this ain't the woods anymore....it's a residential neighborhood with it's share of dogs ...cats....and kids. Critters who like to chase...poke...and play with other critters.

So I picked him up....and held him away from me (turtles pee on ya when they are scared)....walked through the house.....and out the back door down the deck stairs to our backyard.....where there's lots of ivy.....lots of native plants.....and no dogs, cats or kids.

Maybe they'll all procreate down there and have some fun....turtles are territorial and usually stay in their little half mile site all their lives...which is why if you pick them up and carry them to safety ....you shouldn't move them very far....or they will become disoriented and lost.

Worse case if a bulldozer is taking out their land and you find one....well it's disorientation or death....that's an easy choice.

So I placed him on the soft wet earth....where he'd be safe and sound

he gave me a look....

and off he went....straight for my Hostas .....which should provide him with some cover and shade.

Good luck little fella.....

Next.....
~~~~~~~~~

Friday, July 09, 2010

Well......It's a Mac


My hard drive on my PC was wheezing.

I kept thinking of all the data and pictures I had tucked away in that PC's belly.....and I shuddered.

Time to buy a new computer.

I read articles touting the demise of the desktop....but I still enjoy plunking myself down in my chair at my desk and reading, writing, working on my computer in one place.

I recently purchased a net book which is a piece of dog doo doo so I really wanted a working functional and BIG (size does matter) computer.

So viola the IMac...21.5 inches. I did look at the 27 incher....but as with a lot of things that are big for no reason....I declined as I would literally have to cut my desk or buy a new one to fit the console.

My first ever emotion with my IMac was disappointment. It's already carrying an updated version of their new browser....Safari 5 and I felt like I was revisiting my early experiences with the computer....in other words.....I could hit a website.....go to the bathroom, brush my teeth...and perhaps when I came back to my office the website would be loaded. I called the Apple genius who tweeked my machine with me over the phone....but although there were some internals errors with the transfer of data.....Safari 5 even tweeked was damn slow.

So I hoped and waited and thought something might improve and it didn't....so last night I downloaded Firefox a new browser and yippy.....a bit more like a lightening bolt.

Moving to a Mac has not been that difficult....I knew my way around my PC very well....and I can do most basic functions....I'll hit the tutorials here and there over the next couple weeks...and see if there's a little magic in the machine....the touted IMac magic.

There are some absolutely frustrating aspects of Mac world...so far the only way I can figure out how to cut and paste is through the command keystroke....you can't right click the mouse. That's just dumb.....the dock is nice.....things are smooth....and most of all....I connected my wireless keyboard, mouse and printer....by myself with little trouble. You don't always have that experience with a PC.

There's something elegant about a Mac....although I can't quite put my finger on it. It's smooth...buttery....the sounds are softer....and I am sure little by little....I will become acclimated.

Right now...I'm still an explorer....figuring out how to do things I want to do with a different machine....like driving a new car.....I'm still trying to figure out where the knobs are...but the basic concepts appear to be the same.

Maybe moving to a Mac, in keeping with the car analogy, is more like moving from a Ford to a BMW. I get the feeling I've got a lot more possibilities...but the reality is day by day....I want to get from point A to point B accurately and without a accident. I think the IMac makes the journey look cooler just like you tend to look cooler hanging on to the steering wheel of a sleek BMW rather than a Ford Taurus.

Once my net book goes (or I throw it against the wall and make it "go")....I'm going to get a PC laptop because it's apparent there's always something ...a download.....a file....that works better in one system versus another.

So right now the Mac and I are sort of in foreplay mode....hello baby...what can you do for me?

Let's see if it can make me gasp....lol.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The mystery gets bigger

My grandfather was always a puzzle to me......aloof.....stoic.....not an easy man.

He came to the United States around 1916 in the great immigration wave from Eastern Europe and shorty after arriving married my grandmother who was, supposedly, some distant cousin.

My grandparents never liked to talk about the "old country" a lot......and this was especially true of my grandfather. I didn't know if he had any brothers or sisters in this country. I wasn't sure what town he came from....I never heard any childhood stories about him or from him.

My grandfather received letters from Poland from his family and relatives....but my grandmother and my mother paid me 50 cents to intercept them....to beat my grandfather to the mailbox and secret them away. They always told me his relatives wanted money from him so they "screened" his mail. They said he received all of his screened mail after they read it. The answer seemed plausible when I was kid and two quarters could buy candy or a Good Humor Ice Cream bar from the truck so I wasn't going to complain about my little job.

Once or twice I caught my grandmother burning letters in a steel bowl in the backyard....but she told me she was burning her letters from her family....although in retrospect..... it was probably my grandfather's "screened" letters that were turned to ashes.

When my parents died...and I went through their papers and house, I expected to find something about my grandparents...and I actually hoped I would find something about my mysterious grandfather. But the steel box that kept my parents' important papers contained nothing about my grandparents or my grandfather. The only other boxes that contained papers...... were my mother's "tax boxes." I thought of throwing the tax boxes away but decided to bring them back home with me and go through them in case there was something I might need to settle their taxes or estate.

My mother was compulsive about keeping her receipts organized in the tax box.

Each box has a year scrawled on it....and each box contains every cancelled check my mother wrote for the year, every utility and phone bill, every bill.....and once charge cards became popular....my mother would staple every receipt to match the charges onto the bill...and then fold the bill in half and staple again...sort of like a little paper dumpling with bills inside.

If there was ever a question on a bill or she wanted to check something like a credit card receipt from 4 years ago....all she had to do was pull out the appropriate tax box and viola the original receipt and the charge statement would all be there.

I will not even discuss what I do in contrast....except to say it's more like "ha ha good luck" or something akin to the lottery.


Despite this uber organization......my mother and sometimes my father..... would throw something very personal in a tax box.....sometimes unrelated to the year of the box and the event.

For example, I looked through a 1995 box and discovered amid all the perfect stacks of rubber banded receipts....a lone 5x7 white envelope....I looked inside and there was my parent's wedding invitation...an invitation I have never seen.

Because of these odd strange personal items in the boxes.....I decided not to toss the tax year boxes away......and carted about 35 boxes home.....35 tax years. I've been trying to tackle one a week....just going through them.....placing some paper in recycling and the rest through the shredder.

Yesterday.....I opened a box from the 70's and right up on top was a very yellowed piece of paper. I held my breath.....it was in Polish......and had official stamps on it.

My grandfather's birth certificate. HOLY SHIT.

Finally....finally I was going to find out where he is from and at the very least who were his parents. I carefully ....oh so carefully opened....the fragile thin paper and then looked back into the box...something was missing.....a quarter of the paper.

I carefully laid the delicate paper out on my kitchen counter and realized someone had cut....a nice clean straight edge across the certificate....and removed my grandfather's father name and where he came from.

The upper corner lists my grandfather's province, municipality and parish (all government business in the 1800's was anchored by which parish served a community).

It appears his mother's name was listed....which may be Anita? The year he was born is clearly listed......but for some reason.....his father's name was removed.

My first cousin told me...... her parents, (my aunt and uncle) actually visited Poland and visited my grandfather's town. But they wouldn't talk about it, took no pictures and gave no records to her.

She told me....my grandfather was Jewish....or probably was Jewish....but it remains a mystery....he certainly married into a Catholic family.....and he avoided church like the plague.... but men from the old country especially..,,, older men...often didn't attend church....since religion was considered "women's business."

Last night I was thrilled....and spent a couple hours trying decipher the letters then put the words into an online translator.

Today....I am scratching my head....why did my mom want to hide this info? Why was my great grandfather's name such a secret?.....even if the man was a notorious horse thief or bank robber....looking at a birth certificate and seeing the name John Bar....k....isn't going to tell you much about his old country history when you're standing in America.

And if this was really such a big secret....why cut out a portion of the birth certificate ? Why not just throw it away?

With the municipality, parish, and local government listed on the document.... there is a reasonable chance I can get another copy or trace it.....I may not...but the three things you need to do a search of Polish records is the governmental logistics..... which is in the corner of the document.

What an interesting and strange little mystery this is......who was my great grandfather....who were my grandfather's relatives?.....and why would you want to cover the information up?



Guess I better get onto to one of those family ancestry websites......and find a Polish translator. This might be fun and interesting.........

Thursday, July 01, 2010

What?

On a quick shopping expedition last weekend to find my son a shirt......we dashed into one of those huge Chicago malls. There was a row of bright red plastic strollers waiting for little ones.

As I passed by.....I did a double take......what?

Do Not Put Child In Bag

Is it possible there are some parents who are so dumb....they would try and stuff their child in the carry all bag on the back of the stroller instead of in the front molded seat?

Really?