Loving

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Hello! What a perfect light jacket with full sun kind of day. We sipped our Sunday coffee outside, while Juniper bounded around the yard, chasing balls, eating snow, and generally amusing herself in the warm sunshine.

I had apples that had gone a little wrinkly and decided to make the most of them with Martha Stewart’s apple rosemary tea bread, probably the first and best recipe of hers I ever tried, gotten from a Christmas book ages and ages ago. It is moist and delicious, toasts beautifully, and as the name indicates, is rather nice with tea. We (more accurately Greg) pretty much devoured it.

Chicken with orange zest and green olive gremolata – a stellar combination that was quite pretty, too.

Me and my girl! She is such an adorable love bug. Greg and I were cuddling in bed, talking about life this morning, how you never know what the future holds. We laughed aloud when we imagined our twenty-years-ago selves pondering life with a dog and a brick ranch in Colorado Springs. We have absolutely no complaints about the path that led us here.

I bought a rather smart coat in two of my favorite colors (army green and rust!). It has a liner that is also a perfect down jacket. The one caveat? It came with this wild maroon faux fur hood attachment. I might have considered it, as it does seem quite warm, but it completely obscured my vision. Juniper didn’t think much of it either, but how cute she is in her wondering, “What have you done to me?!”

Jett

Had a super fun time with our nephew Jett this week! He was working locally and bunked at our place. We ate a lot and nearly drank our weight in boba tea!

These were the last photos I took of him, some seven years ago, when he was shorter than me, so it was about time we updated that situation.

He’s since graduated from high school and started work as an electrician’s apprentice. Greg and I are super proud of his accomplishments an even more so of his humanity. He’s a wonderful person with a great sense of humor. We love you, Jett!

 

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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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In Albuquerque now, enjoying a  most fabulous lunch at Pueblo Harvest inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Greg enjoyed a stellar pre-contact meal of bison, asparagus and yucca mash with walnut milk gravy. My salad was very tasty (red chile in the dressing!) but not as cool in concept or execution.

The center lies on what was once the Albuquerque Indian School, where native children were forcibly taken from their families to learn white ways. In the beginning, it was an appalling practice, where children were forced to cut their hair, speak only English, and forget native ways. Only later were the schools adopted by Native people, as institutions where children could learn and thrive and celebrate their heritage.

Taos Pueblo, 1890s –  Smithsonian

Pojoaque Pueblo, circa 1899

photographed by Adam C. Vroman

Do you know the book Are You My Mother? It tells the story of a baby bird whose egg hatches while it’s mother is away. It leaves the nest to search for her, asking the question of every animal it encounters along the way. I feel like that bird as I dive down the rabbit hole of my native ancestry. My Grandma Tillie told my dad Comanche, but as I research, I am learning my relatives were born all over Northern New Mexico (and a few in Mexico, too), and may have also hailed from Pueblos like Pojoaque and Taos. The wonder…

For our anniversary, we dined at Campo at Los Poblanos, a beautiful historic ranch and organic farm on the western edge of Albuquerque (If you’re not traveling with a dog, you can stay there – lucky you!). While every bite and sip was pretty darn fabulous, our favorite dish was the Blue Corn fritters! Elevated carnival fare, with quince jam mixed with other magic for dipping. Eeek!

A nice saunter along the Rio Grande (looking a little poco), where cottonwoods past their prime have taken on new life as magnificent sculptures. As we walked, I was especially struck by the fact that this was my first trip to Albuquerque since my Grandpa died. As we drove the streets of his neighborhood and stopped in front of the house where he was raised and my Nana and Bampoo died (looking utterly foreign to its beginnings), I missed him terribly and had so many questions he could no longer answer. Did you play along the river when you were a boy? Where was Bamboo’s office? Did Nana ever work outside the home? Where? Did you walk to high school? Where did you and Grandma live as newlyweds, New York Avenue? And on and on…

the beauty of Old Town

Juniper learns a pig isn’t always a pig.

Muy delicioso BBQ (the Experience) at Matanza

Homeward bound, and reveling in our great luck, to be together for these twenty-eight years, to love and be loved, and know the great privilege of travel. Here’s to US!

 

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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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