Exploring

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Took a step back in time today, to visit Glen Eyrie Castle, the home of William Palmer, the founder of Colorado Springs. Though we all know my Native American ancestors had a bit of a jump on him! It was a rare treat, as every room of the castle was available for viewing, including each of the guest rooms. We had two stellar and knowledgeable tour guides, and oohed and aahed over details grand and small.

As you can tell, I was most intrigued by the views, imagining quiet moments wandering from gorgeous window to window, conjuring the supreme quiet of every season: a drift of snow, froth of new green, arc of azure sky and rock formations and evergreens at every turn.

We ended our tour with a very British high tea, with that pretty salad, wee sandwiches, biscuits, and scones and equally good conversation. Thank you, Cori (front and center), for the marvelous suggestion. Happy Birthday to you!

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Full

Yesterday afternoon, sweet rabbit necklace resting on an equally sweet magazine read. Greg took a very long lunch. Sadly nothing remarkable until we stopped for dessert at Amy’s for bomb-diggity donuts – Nutella fluff, apple fritter, and chocolate filled with cream. Eeek, that place!

We ran errands, too. A cookbook purchase, a stop at the grocery. I bought a Camerons stove top smoker about a month ago, and delight of delights, discovered¬† they have an outlet in Colorado Springs. I am having all kinds of fun with it, so we went to buy more chips. Smoked ribs, smoked chicken, smoked trout, smoked steak! I’ve done each up differently. Ribs with¬† barbeque sauce, chicken with sticky Asian ginger, and an Italian rosemary rub. Plain old for the trout and steak, which is not so very plain. Good fun!

It was one of those magical afternoons of big nothings and feeling full –¬† of all the best in life and of gratitude, too. For a husband who has the great privilege of working from home AND wanting to spend the afternoon with me.

Coming home to a dog eager for a sunshiney walk and a cuddle was pretty great, too. So very full, indeed. My sincerest thanks to whomever is in charge.

 

Hello, and happy Friday from my FIRST visit to Greeley! It’s funny how I was born and have spent the majority of my life in Colorado (31 years!), yet so much here is undiscovered. In an effort to remedy this, Greg and I went with my parents last weekend, mostly to visit the grave site of my great-great grandparents, Francesquita (Francesca) and William (the adults above, with Clifford, Tillie {my great-grandma}, and Lula) at the Linn Grove Cemetery. It’s been nearly 100 years since their deaths, so it’s about time, right?

Unfortunately, as they were awfully poor in life, we are fairly certain their graves have no headstones. The four of us wandered and searched, literally dug up grass, and Juniper gave her best sniffs, to reveal other nearby graves. We found a whole branch of the Card family (the name of one of my besties, Andie!!), and a LeRoy Williams, but no more. Now we will be purchasing a proper headstone for them. I do believe they deserve it.

As for Greeley, it turns out it is a pretty neat city, with the University of Northern Colorado its jewel in the crown. There are many fine murals and sculptures lining the main street (8th Avenue, actually) and a whole host of restaurants, sweet shops at a at least one distillery. When I return to see the new headstone, I’ll take more pictures!

And to the neighborhood where I grew up, with Little Dry Creek looking rather fine and a fun bit of mailbox art. As we strolled along, I contemplated the minimum number of times I walked along the banks, as it was my route to elementary school (K-6). In those days, the majority of kids walked (only Brandon Johnson and Heidi Geisler got rides on the daily), no matter the weather. I remember some supreme bundlings in winter and the two times I got a ride home from school.

The first was the day my parents bought the 1977 Monte Carlo and celebrated by taking us home early. A HUGE deal! The other was during a rather frightening tornado. Our neighbor Joyce picked us up in her Land Cruiser since my dad and the Monte Carlo were at work. Anyhoo, to that minimum calculation, 1890. How impossibly large that number seems now, a million steps ages and ages ago.

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When we visited Santa Fe last year, I bought a Dryland Wilds Sagebrush Plantwater, so I could mist my face with one of my very favorite scents on the daily. After using it a short while, I wondered what other wonders I was missing. To my great luck, the lovely Robin Moore and Cebastien Rose make much more than plantwaters. They are high desert wild crafters, sustainably foraging native and invasive flowers, leaves, and resins, and harvest plants that would otherwise be discarded to make the most exquisitely intoxicating scents of New Mexico.

It’s no surprise I became a huge fan. In addition to the sagebrush, I purchased pinon plantwater, luxurious soaps, evening primrose and copper mallow lip balms, and beauty oils infused with willow and loosestrife, sagebrush and snakeweed, rosehip and thistle. Each is evocative, efficient, and positively uplifting!

Imagine my delight upon learning they offer a perfume making class. And what great luck to have the date correspond with our anniversary! So we planned our trip to Albuquerque around a Sunday afternoon. Cebastien is a fantastic teacher, educating about the various perfume notes, and encouraging us, via scent combining exercises, to try what would normally make us run for the hills. It culminates in the exciting creation of our own scented oil.

I call mine High Desert Morning. An infusion of ruby red grapefruit, balsam fir, honey mesquite, and labdanum. Initially, it only contained the first three, as I imagined peeling a grapefruit to the rhythm of the rising sun. It was lovely but lacking. So I pondered Cebastien’s teaching and decided to go for a run-for-the-hills essential oil. I tried the labdanum, and that drop on my perfume card made it all come together, for the missing element was Greg. Labdanum is on the musky side and reminiscent of his sweet bearded cheek. Crazy fantastic!

So if you need a reason to head to Albuquerque besides fabulous food and turquoise, treat yourself to a class. If you are less adventurous, try a soap, beauty oil, or plantwater, and inhale the magic of the high desert.

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My DNA Story

 

My DNA Story. Pretty cool, right? I spit in a tube and made a map of my world. When the data came back, much of it was a surprise. Much less German than I expected. More of every bit of the United Kingdom. More Native American. And who the heck did I get the Norwegian and Swedish from? Is that you, Great Grandma Mary?

And now I wonder what it REALLY means. All I know is my life and my experience. Save the times when I have been an ass (few, I think, hope), I have never been ashamed of who I am. I feel like my life is a fine line drawing that just got a sweet watercolor wash. Vibrancy.

I am connecting dots, perhaps making sense of the mystical. I like to think my Native DNA called me to Southern Colorado, and has been calling me to New Mexico for the whole of my life. The Irish, Welsh, English, and Scottish might also explain my deep affinity for the velvet green and gunmetal skies of Portland. Then again, I don’t know.

What DO I say of it? The Native that is virtually invisible in me, that only my DNA sees. That is like the Native stories I read – the struggle to be seen and invisible at the same time. Invisibility has the perk of not being abused, ridiculed, or assumed to be, drunk, poor, or BOTH. I don’t imagine my life changing much. I will not be flying flags, participating in pow wows or St. Patrick’s Day parades.

I read somewhere that family is like a rope, each person a knot. Upon death, the knot loosens but the section of rope remains connected. Maybe my need is for the rope only. To feel it in my hands: smooth, rough, imperfect, bound. To say “Grandma.” To perhaps, imagine my Great-Great Grandfather Bill, whose occupation on the 1880 census was COWBOY, lasso-ing my family together for my eyes to see, the whole and the parts, and appreciate it for the disparity and beauty. My human story. Yes, as the tears well, I do believe that is so.

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