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Posts tagged Jen

Zoo Interreptus

Winter                            First Moon of the New Year

Gabe, Jen, Kate and I settled into the Nissan rental for our trip to the zoo.  We headed down the boulevarded Martin Luther King to Colorado, took a left, south, and followed the signs to the zoo, not far away, especially not far away compared to the zoo…

This entry was cut short by the call from Jen to go pick up Jon.  The zoo faded into the afternoon as Jen and I drove out Hwy 70 into the Rocky Mountains, crossed Loveland Pass and dropped down its far side to the Arapahoe Ski Area or A-Basin as skiers here call it.

The clouds had an unreal rose and gold tint and the mountains in front of them looked like a movie set.  We drove up Loveland Pass behind a gasoline tanker truck and descended in 2nd gear.

Denver traffic coming and going from the mountains during the snow months, especially on weekends, can resemble a good-old fashioned Chicago rush hour, but this particular evening the road had plenty of space.  Ruthie and I scooted home ahead of Jon and Jen.

On the way out I noticed several vehicles with Co-exist bumper stickers, a sure sign of paganism.  Made me feel good.

Kate says Jon’s head knock is a serious concussion, the kind that, if repeated, could result in brain trauma.  Nothing to play with.

Jon, Jen, Ruth and Gabe

Winter                   First Moon of the New Year

Sunny and 54 here in Denver today.  Heading out to the zoo with grandson Gabe and daughter-in-law Jen.

Ruth and Jon drove into the mountains to A-basin at 5:30 this morning.  Ruth has an all day ski lesson while Jon will try to find runs not crowded with newbies.  Not much snow here so the existing runs have become clogged.

Jon moved out here ten years ago and has taken full advantage of the location.  He skis as often as he can, which means weekly at least in most cases.  He climbs mountains and skies down rugged terrain.

He’s no youngster, either, at 43. He’s stayed in good shape and manages his chronic illnesses with grace.  He has diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and addison’s disease.  Any one of these would give most folks an excuse to sit in the easy chair, but not Jon.

He’s an artist, a teacher, a father, an athlete and a home renovator. Pretty impressive.

Family. Dispersed.

Fall                                                    Waxing Autumn Moon

A gorgeous fall day.  And I’ve spent it inside, decompressing.  6 months with a guest in the house, no matter which guest, is a long term disruption for these two introverts.  We’re both glad Mark came and are proud of what he accomplished while he was here, but we’re also both glad to have our house back to two humans, four dogs and a gazillion plants.

Mark helped out a lot in the garden and around in the yard, so we’ll miss his strength.  He was also well-versed in geo-political affairs, a habit we both got from our father, a newspaperman.  Good conversations there.

He also knew our family well, on both sides.  He was, too, a lost brother, in a sense, come home.  Blending ourselves together as a contemporary family was not always easy, but whoever said family was easy.

As of tomorrow we’ll have Mary in Singapore, Mark in Saudi Arabia and Joseph in Georgia, Jon and Jen and Ruth and Gabe in Denver and our home here in Minnesota.  This is about as spread out as a family can get geographically.  We’ll use skype and e-mail to stay in touch.

The Road

Beltane                                                     Waxing Garlic Moon

The dog delivered, I’m moving more slowly today.  I’ve selected a route home, up I-29 to I-90, then to the Jeffer’s Petroglyphs.  I’ll plan to stay around there tonight, then finish up the drive home tomorrow.

Saw granddaughter Ruth’s new teeth.  Little white spikes emerging between her baby teeth in the front.  Ruth is not sure what to make of Grandpa.  I don’t mind.  I’m in the relationship for the long haul and I know we’ll connect.

Sollie looked at me from the car.  I opened the Subaru’s trunk latch and gave him a hug.  We became pals.  I am, however, not sorry to see him go.  I think the home dogs will calm down.  I hope.

Jon and Jen have their sleeves rolled up, busy with two young kids, renovation and a dog.  At least they have the summer.

Now, I’m going to hit the road and wander a bit, a joy I picked up from my dad, who loved a road trip now matter how small.

There and Back Again

Spring                                         Waning Bloodroot Moon

My usual method of travel is mosey.  I like slow travel, paying attention to the countryside and stopping when an interesting site shows up.  I’ve never understood the folks who drive straight through, as if travel was only about making it to a destination, for me travel is the destination.  Except for yesterday and today.  I drove to Lincoln, Nebraska yesterday and came back today.  It was  doable.  I only stopped to put gas in the truck and once to grab a hamburger, otherwise I ate food packed by Kate, a wonderful road food preparer.

(Above:  Nebraska Capitol.  R. Iowa Capitol Building.  I saw it from I-235.)

My destination was a Motel 6 just off I-80 north of Lincoln.  Apparently Motel 6 and pets are friendly.  I don’t know because we don’t travel with our dogs. I met Jon there.  He drove east through slushy snow while I drove west on clear roads with sun yesterday and back with cloudy but clement weather today.  Sollie and Gertie are now in their crate in our upstairs entry way after an evening of sniffing and being sniffed, a couple of tussles over doorways and such.  To be expected.

I got three-quarters through a long audio book and have arrived back home as if I never left.  Didn’t feel like travel to me.  Felt more like long-haul trucking.  Which it was, I guess.

This is family stuff, the sort of things families do for each other, even if separated by many hundreds of miles.

Uncle Joe

Winter                                                             Waning Moon of the Cold Month    27 degrees!

“Fear paralyzes; curiosity empowers. Be more interested than afraid.” – Patricia Alexander

The last three days, sort of foggy.  Sleeping more than being awake.  Good thing.  I feel much better today.

Raeone and I had lunch today (ex-wife).  We talked about Joseph, his loves, her retirement and mine.  She caught me up on her sisters.  We both remarked on the odd nature of the 67009-11-10_joseph_0271kinship patterns that surround us.  Joseph refers to Jon, Jesse and John as his brothers without qualification.  He acts that way, too.  As a result, we have a very hybrid family form with Joseph, as he said, the bridging piece.  Raeone, now divorced from Jesse and John’s father, is, nonetheless, seen as a grandmother by Jesse and Ariel and their new son.  Joseph stills sees Jesse’s father, Julian, as a step-father.  To make matters more interesting Jon and Jen (see the all J’s), parents of Ruth and Gabe, our grandchildren, have named Joseph their legal guardian.  Confused?  It’s America now, still receiving the ripple’s of the women’s movement.

Driving in the cities is dangerous.  The mounds of snow at intersections still makes creeping into traffic a necessity since at some streets cars on the through street cannot be seen from a safe distance.  I felt very suburban when I breathed a sigh as I passed back into Anoka County where I can at least see other cars and trucks.

A Whole Family

Winter                                       Waxing Moon of the Cold Month

Joseph and Jon, our two sons, have had their Minnesota passports revoked.  They both yearn for warm weather, Now.  More often.  Joseph, after Qatar and living down south for three years, has fallen furthest from grace, yearning just tonight for 70, 80, heck, 90 degree weather.  They will have to get visas stamped by me before they can cross the border.

Other than that, I love these guys to pieces, Jen, Ruth and Gabe, too.  On the bus tonight on our way to the National Great Western Stock Show, I realized that our whole family was on the bus, a rare occurrence these days with our Andover-Denver-Georgia (or wherever) triangle a large one.

The Wild West Show had its moments, but I wanted a replica of Buffalo Bill Cody’s show and this one had a lot of filler.  There were some excellent young riders who hung off the saddles, jumped down onto the ground and back on a running horse, all pretty amazing to t his non-rider.  The rope guy and his lassos, large, small, butterfly, and luminous was cool.  The guy who rode on the back of two horses had real showmanship.  He had a dog that jumped up on the horse, too.

A reenactment of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, though well-intended, had poor choreography, no plot and Indians with black wigs and cap guns.  The others seemed to like the show, so it was a good evening.  Kate wants to come back and see the rodeo.

We missed our nap today, so I’m tired.  Headed for bed, then up to the airport tomorrow.

Family Time

Winter                                     Waxing Moon of the Cold Month

Kate sees this trip as vacation; I don’t.  Family related travel, the bulk of what I do, has a different purpose and feel.  It’s about relationships and the hard work necessary to maintain them.  It has the flavor of duty, but duty in a positive, not an obligatory sense.   The hard work has its pleasures, yes, lifting Ruth up in the air as she giggles, helping Gabe push his toys around on the floor, but it also has its rough edges.  A relationship with a sister, troubled since birth, breaks bad in a new, more intense way after she becomes pregnant.

The parents of young children face a plethora of challenges, too, noise and activity levels after a hard day at work, insistent demands for attention, keeping the kids safe indoors and out, little time for themselves separately or together.   None of this is new, this is the ancientrail of child-rearing, but it is one meant to happen in an extended family.  In our case, as in so many, many others, children and grandchildren live in one state, grandparents, uncles and aunts live in another.

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West Colfax and the Wild West

Winter                                       Waxing Moon of the Cold Month

Gabe and Ruth asked for us to come over tonight.  We did.  We went with Jon and Jen and Ruth and Gabe to an art teacher’s art show.  It was in the ‘hood, just off west Colfax, the Latino part of that very long street, not too far from Montview, where Jon met Jen and where he still teaches.

Jon had a cell phone photograph in the show, one taken at table setting level during a Halloween wedding.  The composition was clever and the cell phone grain gave the photograph a painterly feel.  It was easily the best piece in the show, though I should say the competition was not strong save for a couple of potters and a cartoonist.

Along the way we passed a dulceria where they sell pinatas.  It had pinatas hung from the ceiling and lots of brightly colored party favors.  Snow White and Cinderella, in large cardboard movie style images, graced the front of the store.  Down a bit further was a dress maker, dark on this Friday night with big girl dresses for Quinceañera. Ruth wanted Kate to make her a strapless one, but in the truth telling way she has, Kate said, “Not until you get boobies.  You couldn’t hold the dress up.”  “Well,” Ruth went on, “Maybe it could have sleeves.”

After the opening, Kate and I took off on our own to give the family a chance to decompress from a full week of grandparents.  Tomorrow I’ll see Ruth at her gymnastics, then around 2 pm we’ll board the shuttle for National Grand Western Stock Show.  This will be my second time and I look forward to it.

It’s an event similar to the state fair, but limited only to farm and ranch related vendors and activities.  Rodeos, judging of champion bulls, pigs, sheep, the Wild West Show we’ll see tomorrow at 4 and barrel races make up the bulk of the events outside of the ranch related wheeling and dealing.

A lot of that goes on in hotel restaurants and bars far from the Stock show grounds.  Men in cowboy hats, blue jeans and vests gather around shots of Jack Daniels and beer chasers, talk cattle and land.  It all gives January Denver a distinctly Western tone.

It also helps me define myself as a Midwesterner.  We’re agricultural, yes, but we’re row crops and feedlots, 4-H and county fairs, small acreages and farmers.  The West has ranches and cattle herds, oil and open land, brands and rodeos.  Yes, you could point to many similarities, but the differences are what strike me, making me realize I know very little about the West, in our past or in our present.

Self-Confidence and Worldly Wisdom

Winter                                          Waxing Moon of the Cold Month

Grandma and Grandpa made a boo-boo.  We showed up about an hour late for cooking s upper last night.  Kate made a roast chicken, roasted root vegetables and snow peas while I made a pot of my chicken soup.  Dinner was late, but there were plenty of left-overs.

Jen’s had a tough week with 21 third graders out on Monday due to snow.  It was a test day.  Wednesday was a test day, too.  The school district scheduled a code red lockdown, an intruder alert where all the doors get locked.  Thursday was a test day.  A fire drill.   These are the high stakes tests that document student performance from year to year.  Plus she’s had the in-laws.  Never easy, even though we get along quite well.

Joseph arrived around 7:15.  He looks great.  He developed a personal training program for the last ten days of his deployment.   I didn’t get the count on the dips and pull-ups, but over this time period he did 160 push-ups a day.  That’s along with the dips and pull-ups and whatever else.  Geez.

He has gained in self-confidence and worldly wisdom as well as physical strength.  Emily, a woman he has dated off and on for several years, has begun to take on more significance.  They plan to meet up in Hawai’i at the end of February for 8 days to see where they want their relationship to go.   He says, “I know now I’m not the only one to have a serious relationship break-up and I know that even this one is not my only option.”  Thank God.

Having said that Emily, a fish and wildlife person, loves the outdoors, skis and is, “a quiet person, like me.”  Most important?  He says the relationship is easy.  That’s a big clue to me of a good fit.  We’ll see.

Jon and Jen asked Joseph to become godparent for Ruth and Gabe.  Quite a vote of confidence in him, a single military man.  Even with his deployments they said they trusted him more than anyone else.  Good for them and him.

I took Joseph over to Superior, Colorado this morning where he will spend the day and night with his mom and step-brother, Jesse, Jesse’s wife and their new baby.  Then he’ll be back here for the Wildwest Show.

Tomorrow is our next to last day here.  We leave Sunday to return north, home to the land of constant cold and snow.  It’s sunny and in the high 40’s here right now.

June 2017
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