Exploring

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Victor

Hello! After some strange glitch in photo sizing that ultimately deleted half of the post, I am starting from scratch. Apologies to those on the mail list for multiple notifications.

A day trip to Victor! We were too early for any leaf peeping, but right on time for a fun day of Steam Punk regalia.

Her socks!

Many of the costumes we saw that day were handmade, like the lovely leaf cape, and all just spectacularly wonderful. Steam Punk is very easy on the eyes!

Also easy on the eyes were the fabulous assortment of tattoos. I shall never tire of the individuality and artistry on display. Kudos to have a vision and meeting the right person to make it come to fruition.

We had a fun wander, gawping at costumes, jewelry, and art, even buying a couple as gifts. We also enjoyed a hearty lunch at the Side Door and kettle corn from a street vendor. Our bellies were full and our hearts happy on such a spectacularly beautiful day!

Southwest to the Wet Mountains and the Sangre de Christos

West to the Collegiate Peaks

Pike’s Peak – the dot on top is the new visitor’s center

Also Pike’s Peak – the mountain of many guises!

Now for some good news and bad news. First the bad, that way we end sweetly. On the day of our Victor ramble, I got a scratchy throat. Greg had been experiencing a tender tummy for a few days. The following day, I got a fever. Since we had COVID tests on hand, we took them. It was a resounding yes. The shock. The horror. After all our good care and vaccinations. Boo.

I am also pretty astonished by the very different responses our bodies have had to the virus. My fever only lasted a day, but I’ve had a horrible headache and insomnia ever since, any night with more than four hours rest is a triumph. Greg had a fever for five days and has been coughing so very much, but blessedly, he’s like one of those baby dolls who immediate falls asleep when given a gentle lie down. It’s been nine days, and honestly, there seems to be no end in sight. Say a little prayer for us.

Now for the good news. My surgical incisions are healing nicely, and the very ugly bruises are all gone. While I will not be able to do a proper stretch, weight lift, or normal exercise routine for another few weeks, I am no longer in any pain. Where my back was plagued by my lazy gallbladder is flesh without discomfort. It had been so very long. I can also eat like a normal person without worry – after 4 p.m., even fatty foods. Hooray!

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Happy Wednesday dear reader! How are you? Are you feeling refreshed this new year? Greg and I are knee-deep in our diet reset and feeling quite good.

The first three photos are evidence of our year-end dietary wonders. First is a seafood lasagna, recipe from Inspired by Charm (Hello Pittsburgh!), which served as our fabulous Christmas dinner. We swapped the noodles with thin sliced butternut squash, and it still felt quite indulgent. It also made for spectacular leftovers! I hadn’t made pumpkin bread for ages and did a fine job of it. Pizza on a very cold day when the indoor oven would not stifle the house was the tops. Absolutely!

The weather is winter-still, icy cold. Dog walks are bundled in the thin warmth of afternoon or not at all, poor Juniper. Though she minds less when we are prompt with morning and afternoon snacks. Our girl remains food motivated.

The dazzle of moonlight was New Year’s Eve. 100 years of AdAmAn meant our sleepy souls didn’t have to wait until midnight for Pike’s Peak fireworks, but got a little preview at nine p.m. Yay! It was a bit too cloudy for much of a show, but we enjoyed a neighborly chat with a woman and her grandchildren in the church lot while we watched and waited. Hooray for childhood and human connection.

Good Monday to you, dear reader, and Happy 2023! What plans have you for the year ahead? We are, as is our usual, doing a little eating reset for the month of January, which means NO: sugar, dairy, alcohol, or wheat, and limited grains. It is so easy to go bananas with fun foods at the end of the year, and by the time January arrives, I am quite ready to change it up.

The winter geese have arrived from Canada! Why is it, when there is sun and much greater warmth elsewhere, do they circle and honk in our neck of the woods?

We had our second snow in a week, delight of delights. Juniper Beulah, no surprise, has been reveling in the cold-soft wonder.

We are forging ahead with our Taos build, now in the process of choosing an architect to bring my design to life. Out of a strong desire to minimize the environmental footprint, we have already decided on a passive style, pre-fab house for a couple reasons. First, to keep building waste to a minimum, as pre-fab construction generally creates 80% less waste. Astonishing. Second, passive style houses also use minimal inputs for heating and cooling since the walls are super substantial and densely insulated. For us, this will probably mean 16″ thick. Imagine the bonus quiet, too!! We’ll have a wood burning stove for winter heat and fans for summer cooling. The best description I ever read is you pay for the majority of your needs for comfort in advance, by creating a tight envelope and orienting structures toward the sun. Speaking of sun, we will have solar panels and residential sized wind turbines, as we work to be as off-grid as possible. We will also collect all of our rooftop water and hope to use our well only in emergencies. It’s a plan, peeps, most definitely.

As you can imagine, I am often kept up at night, adrift in a sea of ideas: grey water irrigation, flooring, color, furniture, tile, light fixtures, counter tops, plumbing, plants, trees, oh my!

Hello! Welcome to wonky lens land. I really do need to get on this camera situation, and pronto. Ugh. I am really torn, as I like my camera and know it so well, but it would also be nice, maybe, to try something new?

In that new department, how’s about the paint? It only took three weeks to finish, but goll-ee, is it ever an improvement. I failed to take before photos, so use your beautiful brain to summon an image of a dark chocolate brown with crayon green accents, and you’ve got the main section. Then, for the now black plinth area, change the dial to maroon, with a huge chunk of brick missing (which Greg repaired) from some previous owner calamity. The painted panel was the color of the east wall. All in all, dark and gloomy and not terribly well matched to one another.

But, oh, how I like it now. Juniper is going to have to share her couch with me more frequently, as the space is so much more inviting!

Turn your back on the new beauty of the fireplace, and you’ve got the workout and sauna area. We replaced the floor when we moved in, and painted the beams this time round, but, as with the bathroom below, had never shared before, and are a a five-day-a-week when not painting part of our vida loca. I am particularly fond of lifting five pound weights while dancing on the rebounder. Just in case you were wondering.

The bathroom is awfully bright for a basement, which makes up for being rather diminutive. Gotta love the light of the high desert!

The guest room, also in the basement, and kind of like a suite with the neighboring bathroom, is super cozy without feeling cramped. I had wanted to paint the panel and closet doors for ages, basically since moving in, but the thought of sanding in all of those nooks and crannies was so daunting, I put it off. Then, while watching some home improvement show, heard about Liquid Sandpaper/Deglosser (we used Klean Strip), where you take a damp cloth, saturate it with this liquid, rub in a circular motion on the varnished surface, and wait for it to dry before applying paint. I mean, seriously, it was so, so easy.

Now I have a lovely color on what was once a very maple syrup hued and not so buena vista. Um, yes!

Damn lens again, wah! It only regularly focuses properly at the bottom of the frame, so you are missing out on some super crisp stair imagery I cropped out. But we were together in Manitou Springs, with my parents and Uncle Chris, and it was such a fun day, I had to share.

More Manitou Springs! At least these are clear.

Happy Monday…

Mt. Herard

Lenticular

Our ascent begins…

Unknown Pleasures

Our high point, with Cleveland Peak most distant

South towards Zapata Ridge

A long way to Medano Creek

STEEP

Descent

Greg and Juniper hoofed it. I was far less glamorous and a tad more fun, sliding on my rear.

An excursion to Great Sand Dunes National Park was the second reason for heading south this past weekend. Neither of us had ever been, so it was decided a month or so ago. We stayed in Fort Garland, at The Lodge, which we highly recommend for pet and people friendliness!

Though the cold was was bracing, we made the right choice starting our hike at dawn – no crowds! We also took it as a good sign that the bugle of elk marked our beginning. The light enchanted, and hardly a sound could be heard for much of our hike. Only in the instances when we laid still on the sand, fingers sifting, sun warming, did we hear animals, finally on their level, a wire on the kangaroo rat telegraph. There were other signs of life, mostly tracks: of birds, coyote, fox, moth wings, the skitter of seed pods and leaves, too.

In a search for the ultimate view, we ascended for nearly three hours, hoping the next highest dune would bring the glory. We were rewarded handsomely, but oh, how the muscles in my legs complained in the final moments! The most notable aspect about hiking on sand is there is nothing to grasp, the feet slide, the body groans, but somehow makes it, inch by inch.

Afterward, we rewarded ourselves with lattes and a lovely oil painting at our favorite Valley coffee stop, the Mirage Trading Company, knowing there was delicious pizza and equally wonderful service just a hop, skip, and an hour’s jump away at Moonlight Pizza in Salida. How lucky we three souls are!

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