We all walk ancientrails. Welcome to the journey.


Midsommar                                                               Most Heat Moon

Kate hit the intercom yesterday. “Look outside.” I went to the deck on the loft, looked down and sure enough, there was Rigel, digging away in our rocky backyard. It may be hard to teach an old dog new tricks, but the ones they learned while young and living on the Great Anoka Sand Plain? They’re in there.

At first she couldn’t locate her prey. Yet, she persisted. A real Elizabeth Warren, our Rigel. After digging a four foot long shallow trench, and after trying (unsuccessfully) to dislodge several tree roots, she found her critter. Kate thinks it was a vole. Whatever it was, it is no more, except as part of Rigel’s food supply yesterday.

Vega and Rigel used to dig deep holes in our Andover yard, deep, doggy height deep. They tag teamed, one digging, the other resting. Turns out this is pack behavior, not just sisterly. Yesterday, Rigel dug, then Kep dug. Kep gave up, but Rigel kept going and got the goody at the end of the trench.

Afterward, Rigel had this, “I still got it.” attitude. Head up, tail high, body tight. She has resumed her shed patrols, another trick she learned in Andover. In Minnesota rabbits bred under our honey house and on occasion she and Vega would catch one. There must be critters under the one here on Shadow Mountain, too, but I don’t know what they are.

Rise and Shine

Midsommar                                                                      Most Heat Moon

Kepler wanted to get up at 4:30 this morning. So we did. That meant it was still dark when I came up to the loft at a little before 5:00. A full Most Heat Moon hung over Black Mountain, a light in the sky, the lesser light. There were also security lights at several residences on Black Mountain, homes that cannot be seen during the day. The temperature was 66 degrees and a warm breeze blew through.

The Furminator

Midsommar                                                             Most Heat Moon

20170702_105545Over to a mostly closed PetSmart in Littleton at 8:30 a.m. yesterday after retrieving a Kepler rabies certificate from Sano Vet. Before it opens at 10 am PetSmart’s veterinary service, Banfields, and their groomers are working. That means walking through a dark store all the way to the back, workers stocking shelves, but no checkout. There Darla took over with Kep, who looked, as he always does, nervous, when we left him. He was there for furmination.

Since our housecleaner, Sandy, had surgery in early June for an acoustic neuroma, we’ve been without her services and Kep’s summer coat has blown all over our house and up in the loft, too. Had to go after this at the source.



While Kep wondered if we’d ever return to pick him up, Kate and I went to over to Lucile’s, a Creole cafe with a very New Orleanian feel. It has, for example, a bar in the waiting area where, even at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday morning, you can pick up a mimosa or a bloody mary, getting that day started right. Or, wrong, depending on your perspective. I remember, back before I got sober, morning meals at Bennigan’s in the French Quarter complete with Planter’s Punch. Felt very, I don’t know, alcoholic?

Around 10 Darla called. Kep had been perfect so she finished about a half an hour early. When we picked him up, he was, as always, obviously relieved. He couldn’t wait to get in the truck. They tied an orange bandana around his neck which he wears jauntily.

Flight for Life

Midsommar                                                                  Most Heat Moon

What looked like a nasty fire season in March and early April has become moderate, even subdued. First we had heavy late season snow, then rains and now cool weather. None of this rules out fire, but the fuel is moist and the temperatures are not exacerbating the low humidity. There are still emergency preparedness items to check off, however. Need to get that safety deposit box and figure out how to handle the times when one of us is away from the house with the car. A bit less urgency than we’d anticipated.

crowhillcafe01The go-go girls, Rigel and Gertie, joined me on a breakfast outing to Crow Hill Cafe. Crow Hill is the steep, 7% grade, that takes Hwy 285 down into Bailey. On the way there, from the western edge of Conifer, the continental divide defines the horizon, peaks until recently covered with snow. They allow us, who live in the mountains, to see the mountains in the same way folks in Denver can see the Front Range, as distant and majestic.

We experience the mountains daily, going up and down them, around their curvy two-lane roads, beside their creeks, outlets for snow melt, modulating our speed for the wildlife that refuses (thankfully) to acknowledge our presence as a limitation. This in the mountains travel finds our views obscured by the peaks that are close by and the valleys that we use to navigate through them.

French toast and crisp bacon, black coffee and the Denver Post, a window seat overlooking the slight rise beyond which Crow Hill plummets toward Bailey. I love eating breakfast out, don’t know why. Something about starting the day that way once in awhile. Rigel and Gertie got a saved piece of french toast each, happy dogs.

20170625_180842Back to Conifer and the King Sooper. King Sooper is a Kroger chain upscale store, one listed as a potentially threatened species by newspaper articles about Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods. With the rapid concentration of certain retail activities we may need an endangered business protection act. King Sooper does deliver though we’ve not made use of that service. Those of us on Shadow Mountain don’t expect to see drones with celery and milk anytime soon.

Although. We did have confirmation yesterday of a premium asset related to our location on Black Mountain Drive. Two Jefferson County sheriff black and white S.U.V.s followed an Elk Creek Fire and Rescue ambulance past us in the late afternoon yesterday. About 30 minutes later Kep recruited Rigel and Gertie to defend the house. When I went to check, there was a line-up of stopped vehicles stretching from the curve where Shadow Mountain Drive turns into Black Mountain Drive.

20170625_180848Neighbors and their dogs were on the sides of the road. Cell phones (pocket digital cameras) were out and aimed at the curve. The chop chop chop of helicopter rotors was evident, but the helicopter itself was not in sight. Then it was, slowly rising from the road, Flight for Life spelled out along the yellow stripe leading back to its stabilizers.

It’s very reassuring to know if Kate and I ever end up in a medical emergency we won’t have to rely on a 45 minute ambulance ride to the nearest E.R. The E.M.T.s  could just pop us on a gurney, wheel us down the road a bit and into the ‘copter. Then up, up and away.

Today is back to working out, more reimagining prep, this time including reordering my reimagining bookshelf, checking the old computer for reimagining files. I’ll also be studying for kabbalah tomorrow night and possibly taking a trip over to Sundance nursery in Evergreen looking for lilac bushes.



The Beat Goes On

Midsommar                                                                    Most Heat Moon

20170426_163517The dogs keep the rhythm familiar here even with Kate gone. They get up at 4:45 to 5:00 a.m. and so do I. I feed them, leave them inside due to the possibility of mountain lion attack, then head up to the loft for work on ancientrails, reading the news, staying in touch with friends and family. Around 7 a.m. it’s breakfast time and I let them out. Around 10 a.m. the dogs get their second feeding, so that’s back downstairs for me. In the interval between breakfast and noon I work out, read, write.

The dogs get outside in this kind of weather and we leave a door open for them. They like that. This still seems weird to me, but there aren’t the bugs up here we had in the humid East.

We nap in the early afternoon, a longstanding habit picked up during my visit to Bogota in 1989.

The afternoon is more reading, catching up on chores, then supper. The dogs go to bed around 6:30, 7:00 p.m. with Gertie and Rigel in their crates in the garage. Kepler stays up until Kate and I go to bed around 8 p.m. A Benjamin Franklin day. And the dogs follow it, too.

Dogs of Conifer

Beltane                                                                          Rushing Waters Moon

This family gives their dogs regular rides in a convertible and, according to their housekeeper, has a horse who comes in the house to eat out of the fruit bowl. Life in the mountains.

conifer convertible dogs

The Zen of Kate

Spring                                                                        Passover Moon

700 pixels- punta arenasMonday. Physicals back to back. We do things together, like our physicals and our dental cleanings. So sweet. Very romantic. And it is, in its way. Sort of like dates. We go out to lunch afterwards.

This week is the slow drip after as test results and imaging work reveal their information. So far, generally good news. The usual deterioration occasioned by 70 + years on the planet, not a surprise, but not yet deadly.

The zen of Kate. One of the imaging tests could have returned something bad, but even in the weeks after she learned a second test, a cat scan, would be necessary, Kate didn’t flinch. “Can worrying about it make it different?” she said. A wise woman, my Kate. Of course, that didn’t prevent me from worrying about it, but I’m trying to learn from her on this one.

She’s bouncing back from a three/four month bout of low energy and shortness of breath. Nighttime oxygen (we live at 8,800 feet) and more calories each day have given her more pizazz. She’s also just had her second infusion of Remicade, a drug for rheumatoid arthritis. RA can also produce fatigue so the Remicade may be helping her energy level increase, too.

2011 09 04_1258750The zen of dogs. Over the last few weeks I’ve paid special attention to how the dogs in my life live: Gertie, Rigel and Kepler. We share moments often during the day and at night. A dog is always in the now, ready to take a nap, run outside, eat, get a head or neck scratch, some petting. They remind me of the brevity of life and how precious each moment, each interaction is, not only with dogs of course, but with family and friends. With the mountains, too. The clouds and stars. The snow.


Stuff Going On Here

Imbolc                                                                          Anniversary Moon

Gertie helps me work out

Gertie helps me work out

It was 68 here yesterday. And dry. So little snow left, just in the northern shadow of our home, here and there in shaded parts of the forest. This is a typical La Nina year, according to weathergeek, our pinecam.com meteorologist. The result? A long, potentially too hot, summer and fall.

Working on the last of the cardboard to plastic transfer process. Yesterday I found complete drafts of Phantom Queen, The Sacrifice, The Wild Pair, Missing, Hunting Gods, Only To Be Born and the Last Druid. They’re now resting in file folders in one box. Even the God’s Must Die will go in there today. I don’t have a printed out copy of Superior Wolf yet, not done, but close. Jennie’s Dead, a partially finished novel, and work on Loki’s Children, the second in the Tailte trilogy, will have files here, too, because they are ones I will finish eventually. Feels good to see these drafts all in one place, in the physical world of paper, not just bytes. I have another file box full of short story drafts, some edited.

The research and writing group/beta reader comments for each novel and story will go into the banker’s boxes and get moved downstairs to the shelving in the garage.

The dogs are all healthy right now. I’ve stopped letting them out after breakfast in the morning (at 4:45/5:00 am) due to the mountain lion problem. They’ll go out after the sun comes up. It’s strange, but part of mountain life, to have to consider predators killing them. When I was a kid in Indiana, the worry was your dog getting run over by a car.




The Iditarod

Imbolc                                                                       Anniversary Moon

Every two years our vet, Dr. Palmini, travels to Alaska to offer care for dogs in the Iditarod, the sled dog race in Alaska. It bills itself as the last great race. He sent these pictures to pinecam.com, our source for all things mountain.


Inheritance At Work

Imbolc                                                                                  Anniversary Moon

August 2017
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