Sunday, December 13, 2020

Merry Christmas 2020


Christmas Day 2020 is fast approaching.  Many of the usual festivities around this time of the year such as school and church pageants, community parties, get together with friends, trips into the city to see a show or ballet or concert, etc, etc, were not able to be enjoyed because of the pandemic this year, but...


...I did decorate my house and enjoy many of the ornaments I've hung on my tree for many years.  Many of which my children made and some of which my grandchildren have made. All bring back happy memories and have filled my house with the usual Christmas coziness.



I won't be making all this seafood as I usually prepare for Christmas Eve...


...when my entire family, and my son's in-laws, and on some years a friend or two would gather. with us for dinner...

.
...and afterward dessert and the joyful opening of gifts.

Because of the continuing danger of Sars-Cov-2, my children and grandchildren will remain at their homes this year and it will only be my husband and I celebrating together, but I do plan to drop off some special foods and treats at their houses beforehand.



But one thing that won't change this year is the happiness of welcoming into our hearts the true meaning of Christmas...the birth of our Lord, Jesus! 

"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. 
We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, 
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. "
John 1:14


"May you have the gladness of Christmas, 

Which is Hope;

The spirit of Christmas 

Which is Peace;

The Heart of Christmas 

Which is Love."

-- Ada V Hendricks



I'll be taking a short break until the New Year



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Sunday, December 6, 2020

The Rocky Mountain Land Library




The first time my husband and I drove through South Park, I fell in love with this beautiful pastoral area in the heart of Colorado. A grassland basin at 9,000 to 10,000 feet elevation, it is surrounded by 14,000-foot peaks of the Mosquito and Park Mountain Ranges. The Platte River headwaters are formed here and the river gently rolls through the valley. Native American Utes and Arapahoes hunted the abundant wildlife in the area. The term South Park was first used in the 1840s by hunters and trappers who traversed the Rocky Mountains. In 1859, the discovery of placer gold in the streams of the valley during the Colorado Gold Rush led to an influx of prospectors and miners. By the 1880s the area was known for its mineral springs, hunting, fishing, and grazing land for cattle. In 2009, South Park and the area around Fairplay were designated a National Heritage Area by the U.S. Congress for its distinctive landscapes, historic structures, recreational resources.




Much of South Park's 1,000 square miles is used as grazing land for cattle and horses and other domestic animals...





...and it encompasses a feeling of wide-open skies and vast wilderness that is absolutely beautiful!



Photo credit Rocky Mountian Land Library

Now South Park as a new attraction as nestled in a part of this magnificent valley, close to the South Platte River, is the Rocky Mountain Land Libary  A work in progress, the Rocky Mountian Land Library is a dream come true for husband and wife former book buyers for the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, Ann Marie Martin, and Jeff Lee. Back in the ’90s, while on a book-buying trip for the store, they came upon Gladstone's Library at St Deiniol’s, a residential library in Wales. That visit was the start of their dream to create a residential library in Colorado — one that focused on people and the land. They always knew they would find a home for their beloved tens of thousands of volumes about nature, the environment, history, literature, western land issues, archeology, and all things American West.
In 2013 they signed a 95-year lease for the 1,500 Buffalo Peaks Ranch, in South Park. Established in 1861 as a sheep and cattle operation, it was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places.  Work began to renovate the ranch, using volunteers and donations.

This short Youtube link about the Rocky Mountain Land Library features Jeff and Ann and their visions for the library.

 

The historic Buffalo Peaks Ranch has already been utilized by the library as an inspiring site for classes, workshops, field studies, teacher training, etc, and there are many plans for 2021.  Fundraising and renovation work continues to help create this future residential library dedicated to nature and the land. There are plans for special libraries across the ranch, including a Native American Library, a Young Readers Library, a River Hut Library on rivers, water & fishing, and one on Ranching History & Practices and the Cook's House library on Food and the Land.

The Rocky Mountian Land Library will be a year-round, residential retreat center and library while also hosting additional programs and outreach through their Metro Denver locations. Visitors from all backgrounds and interests will be able to gain inspiration from the books and the surrounding landscape of South Park.  

My husband and I were hoping to visit the library this past summer, but because of covid shutdowns we had to forego those plans, but we definitely hope to make it a destination when we can travel again.

If you'd like to learn more you can follow the Rocky Mountain Land Library on their blog, Facebook. Instagram, and Twitter.

Meanwhile, I am in the midst of decorating for Christmas, writing Christmas cards, and will begin preparing some favorite holiday treats. Most likely we will have to forego gathering for our traditional family gathering for the Italian style "Feast of the Seven Fishes" I prepare on Christmas Eve, as the Sars-CoV-2 numbers have been worrisome high here in Colorado.  We do hope our grandchildren will be able to visit and see our tree and open their gifts, while we all wear masks, etc., and try to stay healthy as we wait for the vaccine to become available.  I hope you are all enjoying the holiday season--it is still the most wonderful time of the year!

 Stay happy, safe, and healthy!

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Monday, November 30, 2020

156 Anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre




Today was the 156th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre.  A few years ago my husband and I visited the Sand Creek Massacre Historic Site located in a remote area of  Kiowa County, near Eads, on the great high plains of Colorado. This site is sacred, controversial, symbolic, and a reminder of a national tragedy that happened on November 29, 1864.  


Please click on to enlarge tread.


Along the Big Sandy Creek, about 700 Cheyenne and Arapaho native people were living peacefully at a winter camp in what was then Colorado territory. They believed they were under the protection of the US Army by treaty. Many of the men were away hunting for food, so the camp consisted of mainly old people, women, and children. At dawn on November 29, 1864, approximately 675 U.S. volunteer soldiers, commanded by Colonel John M. Chivington, attacked the sleeping natives with guns and cannons. Black Kettle, one of the peace Chiefs, raised an American flag and white truce flag above his tipi, as he had been promised protection, but he also had to flee. While many managed to escape, about 200 women and children, and the elderly struggled to run in the sandy earth of the dry creek bed. Some women tried to dig trenches in the creek bed, or in the hollow logs of cottonwood trees to hide their children, but most were mercilessly slaughtered during the eight hours of fighting. During the afternoon, and the next day, the soldiers wandered over the field committing atrocities on the dead, taking native belongings as souvenirs, and burning down the encampment, before departing the scene on December 1, to resume campaigning.

More about the massacre and other photos can be seen on a prior blog post I wrote about the event --click here.   




The tragic story of the Sand Creek Massacre brings us forward to a present-day tragedy that occurred this summer that resulted in strong protests in Denver.  During those protests, the Civil War Union Soldier statue that you see above was torn down from its pedestal in front of the Colorado Capitol Building.  
Upon serious reflection after the protests, a decision was made in a 7-2 vote of the Capitol Building Advisory Committee, to permanently replace this pedestal and statue with a sculpture of a Native American woman mourning the atrocities of the Sand Creek Massacre.  Representatives from the tribes which suffered at Sand Creek 156 years ago spoke to the committee and helped them make this decision

“They were wiped out,” Otto Braided Hair, of the Northern Cheyenne and a descendant of Sand Creek survivors, told the committee. “Their voices are no longer heard. Their wishes and concerns were no longer heard. Those are the people we speak for.”


To see a prototype of the proposed replacement statue click hereIt will be designed by Havey Pratt a Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal member and a descendant of a Sand Creek survivor. He is recognized as an accomplished master Native American Indian artist. He said the idea of using a grieving Native American mother came to him in a dream.  When it is erected in the future I will take photos of it and update this post.



Meanwhile, the Union soldier statue, erected in 1909 to memorialize those who died defending Colorado from an attempted Confederate insurgence, was loaned to History Colorado Center for a one-year period. The museum approached the state with the offer to display the piece with commentary that explains the differences in how various groups have interpreted its meaning, including tribal anger that the same cavalry units memorialized by the statue for heroism in the Civil War also perpetrated the Sand Creek Massacre two years later.  After that, the statue will most likely be placed in Denver's Veterans Park, which seems like a better place for it to be.



I hope all who celebrated Thanksgiving had a wonderful day!  This year was very different for us, as it was only me and my husband at our celebration dinner, but I still prepared a turkey and all the trimmings, including apple pie for dessert. We didn't Zoom with our family, as everyone was on a different schedule, but we talked on the phone and texted.   It was good to give thanks for all our blessings.  I am also thankful for all of you who read my blog and comment--thank you so very much as you bring joy to my days throughout the year!

 Stay happy, safe, and healthy!

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Sunday, November 22, 2020

Happy Thanksgiving!

 


I'd like to extend many best wishes to all my blog readers for a very wonderful and Happy Thanksgiving and a very healthy and happy year ahead!  

Please enjoy these words of gratitude and blessings...


"For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends."

- Ralph Waldo Emerson




"Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into
His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting: and His Truth endureth to all generations."

- Psalm 100:4-5




"I am grateful for what I am and have. 

My thanksgiving is perpetual."

- Henry David Thoreau


Lord, let me love the little things:
The tiny bird with greyish wings,
The fireflies that shed their light
Amidst the darkness of the night,
The rippling brooks with water clear
That flow on by from year to year,
The sunset in an evening sky,
The beauty of a butterfly,
The smile upon a small child's face,
A loving family saying grace.
For all the joys these things will bring,
Lord, let me love the little things.

- Loise Pinkerton Fritz


Stay happy, safe, and healthy!

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Sunday, November 15, 2020

A Prayer for a Challenging Time


This has been a bad week for the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic in Colorado.  Our infection rates were holding steady in the hundreds per day all summer into early fall, but by October 15th, the numbers surged to a thousand, and then by early November into many thousands with an all-time high of almost 6,500 cases in one day this past week! Sadly, our state is not alone in this dramatic rise in positive cases.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment devised a graphic dial to use as a gauge for each of our 64 counties to help us ascertain our risks. You can see that graph on this link.  My county is now in level orange--high risk--which came with new restrictions that can be seen on this graph. Many sources feel the increase of cases is due to these reasons: more time being spent indoors as our weather cools, increased small social gatherings of friends, neighbors, and families from different households.



Although schools were open for in-person instruction in most districts in Colorado since September, there were hardly any outbreaks at the primary grade level and just a few at the middle school, as strict mask-wearing precautions and social distancing methods were in adherence. High Schools and Colleges were not as fortunate, however, but it was felt that the reason was that students socialized in groups after school without wearing masks, etc.  As our Covid-19 infection numbers rise, most school districts at an orange level have now decided to close the schools and have all students learn remotely.

Our Thanksgiving buffet 2019

My family has made the decision not to gather together for Thanksgiving this year.  We will each have our own celebration in our own homes. We felt the only way to safely gather from other households would be for everyone to quarantine completely for two weeks, and, unfortunately, none of us can accomplish that. I have researched the possibility of all of us getting "rapid" Covid tests, but I found that the reliability of these tests for both false positives and negative results is too high to be reliable. It's very hard to think that we can't all be together this year but health is a priority. No one wants to believe that they could be infected by a family member but it happens, and often by someone who is asymptomatic. 

 Last November, our daughter had open-heart surgery to repair a heart valve a week before Thanksgiving and she stayed at our house for a while post-op after she was released from the hospital, as I am an RN and could monitor her progress. It would have been wonderful to celebrate the anniversary of her surgery and the fact that she is doing so well a year later.  We never could have dreamed of the challenges this year brought to us all!



But, although there are disappointments and changes in the usual routines and traditions, the most important thing right now is that we all stay healthy.  These days of staying home, and staying safe, are not without their positives aspects.  Slowing down and appreciating the smaller pleasures and gifts of each day, with a new focus on gratitude, can also be looked upon as an unexpected gift.

This poem was written long ago but is perfect for this time of worry about SARS-CoV-2 and the need to slow down and be careful, yet still savor all the social little moments in our days. I hope it will also bring peace to you, dear reader, as it has to me...

"Slow me down, Lord!
Ease the pounding of my heart
By the quieting of my mind.
Steady my harried pace
With a vision of the eternal reach of time.
Give me, amidst the confusions of my day,
The calmness of the everlasting hills.
Break the tensions of my nerves
With the soothing music of the sighing streams
That live in my memory.
Help me to know
The magical restoring power of sleep.
Teach me the art
Of taking minute vacations of slowing down to look at a flower;
To chat with an old friend or to make a new one;
To pat a stray dog,
To watch a spider build a web;
To smile at a child;
Or to read a few lines from a good book.
Remind me each day
That the race is not always to the swift;
That there is more to life than increasing its speed.
Let me look upward
Into the branches of the towering oak
And know that it grew slowly and well.
Slow me down, Lord,
And inspire me to send my roots deep
Into the soil of life’s enduring values
That I may grow toward the stars
Of my great destiny."



Stay happy, safe, and healthy!

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The Shadows--Book Review



Do you like thrillers or horror stories?   I was a big fan of Stephen King and Dean Koontz novels in the '80s and '90s and also read novels written by Jonathan Kellerman, Patricia Cornwell, and other mystery and crime authors whose cases often had a supernatural feel to them. I find that my imagination twists and turns with the written word to make the story come alive in my mind even more horrific than any movie producer could ever imagine, yet I feel safe in the fact I have control over being able to close the book for a while when it becomes too real for me.

I received an advance reader copy of The Shadows by Alex North in October from Celadon Books,  and found, as with all good thrillers, the story slowly evolved and developed with pangs of lost friendship, parent conflicts, burgeoning first love, manipulated dreams, murder, disappearance, copycat killers, and unfilled aspirations. I felt more than a horror novel it was a thrilling "coming of age" for the middle-aged protagonist who returned home when his mother is dying only to find he has to reconcile with many other unresolved dilemmas in his life.

Other reviewers raved about Alex North's first novel, The Whisper Man.  I think The Shadows will equally become a favorite!


Stay happy, safe, and healthy!

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Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Secrets That Lie Beneath Our Feet


The Colorado foothills are a transition zone between the plains and low relief hills and the adjacent topographically higher mountains, hills, and uplands.  Native Americans often hunted on the plains but used the foothills to make their winter camps as they had views of potential enemies and often found sources of water from creeks and giant red rocks and caves to use as shelters.



The prehistoric natives date back more than 12,000 years. Archeological evidence suggests that the first people to appear in Colorado were the big game hunters (or Paleoindians), probably from the north. These people are divided into the Clovis and subsequent Folsom cultures. Archeologists distinguish the two cultures by their different types of spear points. The Clovis people are often called the “mammoth hunters,” while the later Folsom people are the “bison hunters.” These people marked the beginning of a big-game hunting tradition that lasted thousands of years until historic times.  I blogged about a wonderful discovery of Clovis era stone tools found in the Boulder area on this post. 

 

Many Natives American tribes lived in Colorado but the most common was the Utes who were hunters and gatherers.  They acquired horses from the Spanish conquistadors, who were the first Europeans to visit Colorado. The Ute lifestyle changed dramatically with horses, giving them more mobility. Once primarily defensive warriors, they became adept horsemen and warriors, able to raid other tribes. Prestige was based upon a man’s horsemanship, as well as the number of horses he owned. 

A few years ago, my husband and I attended an archeological dig that was performed by the Colorado Archeological Society (CAS) in a nearby county--click here to read that post-- where many ancient artifacts were found, including some artifacts from the Spanish explorer era. 



 

Very often red rock overhangs and caves along the front range of Colorado were used as shelters and artifacts are often found in these areas on various archeological digs. In fact, 33 past archeological digs have been conducted in our area in the past with many discoveries made.

This all brings us to a recent archeological dig that was performed in our community recently, but instead of near red rocks, it was done on a foothill, where years of erosion had revealed a dark black burn area.  A resident of the community, who is an archeology professor, found an ancient tool rock tool called a mano in this area while he was on a hike.  You or I would most likely have passed right by that rock and this burn area, but to the resident's trained eye he realized it was a discovery of ancient life.  Our community history committee decided this was a discovery worth exploring and we contacted an archeology company to do a private dig and evaluative testing of the site.



The archeologists excavated the burn area and samples were collected for radiocarbon assays to date the artifacts.  It takes a while for results from these tests, but the archeologists felt this was a fire pit most likely used by hunters from the past to cook wild game. They estimated they were from the Early Ceramic Period 150–1150 CE.  It is fascinating to think of evidence of man from so long ago!



Archeological digs are painstaking work requiring many hours of minute digging and passing rubble through screens to check for any object pieces that are identifiable. Anything significant is removed for examination and sent to labs for further study as well as portions of the soil which were collected for radiocarbon assay. The hope is to find spearheads, arrowheads, ancient awls, bones, and pieces of cooking tools, and other hunting weapons.   We will be excited to find the exact dates of the samples and what other evidence could be analyzed. I'll update this post when that information comes in. 




Isn't it amazing what secrets lie literally beneath our feet? 



I feel fortunate to live in such an interesting place and to be able to be a part of these discoveries.  We are also blessed to be among many volunteers in our community who are devoting time and energy to help advance our knowledge of the past and to preserve it for the future.

Thank you for reading my post--I hope you found it interesting

Stay happy, safe, and healthy!

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