• Tag Archives 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    Continue reading  Post ID 12733

  • 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.

  • Happy Grandpa

    Winter                                             Waxing Moon of the ColdMonth

    When Kate and I arrived down south here in Denver, we got a 40 degree temperature swing.  At 8 am this morning, my weatherstation recorded -14.  When we got to Denver, it was 26.  If we’d left Minnesota at 50 degrees amd gotten a similar bump, it would be 90 here.

    Now, there are school closings here with a snow that would only bring out the sanding trucks in Minnesota.  Strange.

    After a nap, the grumpy traveler became a happy grandpa, taken upstairs by granddaughter Ruth to see her princess walkie talkies and her changeable Cinderalla doll.  Back downstairs grandson Gabe carried his toy train, Thomas, and came to me, “Up.”  So we did.

    Gabe and I looked at the Dreidel lights Jen had strung over the window sill.

    After a Mexican meal at the restaurant next to our hotel, the kids went home and the grandparents walked through the snow a short way to the hotel.  This snow is finer than most of them we get in Minnesota, light, but not fluffy.

    Bedtime here in the Mile High City.  With snow.

  • Whew

    Summer                                      Waxing Grandchildren Moon

    OK.  This will be last of this.  But.  Kate reminded me of her surgery on June 30th.  Which preceded preparation for and the arrival and stay of Jon, Jen, Ruth and Gabe followed then, as I said yesterday, by our too inclusive preparations for the Woollys. No wonder I wore out yesterday.  Let my prop it up and keep going inner coach have the day off.  Better rested and more clear-eyed today.  Ready for ancient Rome.

    These two paragraphs came my way in the last two days.  Their conjunction speaks for itself.

    “Speaking of heat, NOAA reports that June was the hottest  month in recorded history, worldwide. That is the fourth
    month in a row of record warmth for planet Earth. June also marked the 304th consecutive month “with a global temperature above the 20th century average.” The last month with below-normal temperature worldwide? February, 1985. 2010
    temperatures from January to June were the warmest ever recorded for both land and ocean temperatures, worldwide. Stay tuned.”
    Check out Paul’s blog startribune.com/pauldouglas

    (I imagine it’s photoshopped, but still…)

    Mark Odegard found this quote in a book he’s reading about walking with caribou:

    Henry Beston in the beginning of book.

    “We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of wild animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creatures through the glass of knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken a form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, greatly err, For the animal shall not be measured by man, In a world older and more complex than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethrern, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”

  • Home Again

    Summer                                           Waxing Grandchildren Moon

    The grandkids have returned home to Denver.  Their parents only have a couple of weeks now before they return to their teaching jobs, Jon in elementary art and Jen in EFL elementary work in an experimental school.  Ruth and Gabe will return to child care at Humphrey’s, across the street from their house.  Ruth will only be there two weeks because she starts pre-school this year.  Watch out pre-school.

    (Denver at night from space)

    Gotta go.  The weather’s reasonable and the bees need attention.  See you on the backside of the hive inspections.

  • Travel Days

    Summer                                          Waxing Grandchildren Moon

    As the grandchildren moon waxes, Ruth and Gabe are somewhere south of Andover, headed back home to Denver.  They left about an hour ago taking their parents with 07-12-10_ruth-and-gabethem.  Like most leave takings, this one was bittersweet.  We will not see Ruth’s smile, nor hear her mischievous giggle; the house no longer rings with mymamameee as Gabe, eternally seeking his mother tries to orient himself to the star of his young life.

    We will not be able to talk with Jon and Jen about their lives, their joys, the things that matter to them and therefore to us.  The playhouse has lost its enlivener and no one will run up and down the slope in our front yard, shrieking and reveling in the sheer pleasure of walking barefoot in dewy grass.  No uh-oh or banana grabbed and eaten, one half in one  hand one in the other.

    There is, too, though the truth of lives disrupted by travel, part of its purpose, but also part of its drain.  The dogs lives changed, and they could not see why.  Everyone’s lives are not at their smoothest because routines become difficult to realize and routine soothes, calms.  So, for Gabe and Ruth, Jon and Jen, they now head back to the garden, to the plans for renovation of their home, to the friends both have made over their years in Denver.  Familiar beds, couches, dogs, food, neighbors.

    When Kate and I traveled in Europe, we hit on the idea of a travel day (p.s. Kate reminded me that was her idea.), a day when we just rested, weren’t trying to see some new destination, this museum or that market, this famous street or the Opera House.  This kind of intense, in the home up close visit could, as Kate said, use a travel day.  We’re getting ours today, but when we wake up tomorrow, there will be no mymamameee or Ruth crawling down the hall in her blanket.  And we will miss them.