Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Snowless Mid-Winter Explore...

     So...  a basically snowless mid-winter!  So much for x/c forays.
     Instead, I enjoy laid back daze now filled with:  hanging out with friends,  and...      well, of course there's Facebook (I do love being able to keep in cyber-touch), and...
YES! workouts in the local rec. center just a short distance from home...   
     But oh HEY!!!!  An integral part of my days:
     The wild red-rock formations:  
     At least once-a-week, and with any luck,  twice-a-week, Robert and I enjoy hiking adventures in the wonderful hilly, rocky, beckoning wild country that surrounds Durango,  and running the river when it's not too wild.  
     We were up hiking in the wilds again just yesterday, clamboring among wild red rock formations (some so anthropomorphic you want to name them)...  The dog we took along would BOUND both up and down that wild terrain, wagging his tail impatiently as we casually explored nooks, crannies, and vast views.  Such exquisite beauty....

     As for our river:
     We used to run the wild rapids each in our OWN boat back in our agile wild days. Wow!  Got that!!!  That is enough.... 'tho if Robert were to ask me to run them in our two-person boat, I'd say YES!  ...but maybe a tad later in the season when they're not so wild.
      Swimming IN the rapids, watching your boat and paddles float rapidly FAR downstream from you as you aim your struggles for ANY shore... WAS fun... back then.         Nowadays, when I'm on my own, I actually paddle calmly UPstream where there are no other boats:  a beautiful winding river through patches of trees, surrounds of farmland, and vistas of the nearby high hills and mountains.  Often, I pass by deer grazing peacefully,  and on occasion, YES!  a bear watching me idly from shore.
     When I feel like it,  I turn the boat around and gently cruise back downstream.  I take out before the rapids begin.  I love the peaceful solitude now.

Thursday, December 7, 2017


Speaking of the sea, and our reason for going down there --  the surf ....    Well, the surf took a vacation itself!  There were NO boogie-board waves over to the side,  and because the surfer's surf was slight, I didn't feel it fair to join them...   Other years, as the waves kept rolling in one after another, I was welcome to join the surfers --  and given my turn in the line-up for the Big Surf !   

But... this year?  I didn't really feel drawn into the water at all!   Oh, I did go out there –once-- and immersed myself for a short time and then waded back to shore.....
But hey!  what made that little pilgrimage into the water so very poignant was the little loving dog who had been keeping company with me!  Oh, yes!  This little dog had decided to hang out with me full-time while his master was way out there in the Big Surf.  Indeed, I was thereby HIS responsibility!!!

So.... as you might imagine,  that sweet dog got all kinds of upset with me for going out there into water far too deep for him,  and getting myself all mixed up in the rushing whitewater  (long since crashed, and just a gentle push to shore, really --  just waist deep  at the deepest)....  
You must realize, that this is a small dachshund doglet, and he just could NOT save me if something were to go wrong!!!  BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK! BARK!  ...   OH!  ...and when I (FINALLY!) made it back to shore, oh, did he SCOLD me, running around my feet and still barking at me, as I headed up to "our table"....BARK! BARK! BARK!

SO, I let that be.   He was there every day, so...  I just didn't bother going out again.  There is beauty in being laid back amid the sight and sound of surf, with a sweet loving companion (yeah, the doggie! -- and various other folk, all open and friendly)....   And yeah, I was at a table with full view of the line-up, and of the rides and crashes of the various surfers...  as well as the rest of the ocean, and sky, and beach, and passers-by along the shore, and in time, the colors of the setting sun...

Friday, October 7, 2016


Such a "big deal".....  

We were in some tax office (October 4 2016), here in Durango, filling out boring forms when the clerk noted that we always file jointly.  In the end, we agreed to be marked as married.  We signed some forms that, therefore, had the "married" box checked.  That was it.  Married by the Federal Government.

So!! our Wedding date is October 4th, 2016. 
(Hmmm.. JUST noticed (on 1/31/2018) that our wedding date is also:  TEN-FOUR.  Googled that and got this: 
A code used by CB owners possibly since the dawn of amateur radio, the code 10-4 simply means "Message received".

A brief history of our initial courtship, beginning way back in:

(1)  I had been hired to teach an extended class in the "Art of Storytelling" to a summer's class of adults up at the Fort Lewis College campus, in 1992.  This was the first time I'd even HEARD of Durango.

(2) I had barely arrived in Durango, and I knew NO-one.  I was lookin' for stuff to do when not teaching -- and there was this one night when I wandered into a dance hall (not even a bar -- just a dance hall) featuring folk/circle dancing like Antioch used to feature.  Pretty hokey...
and yes they DID the Hokey-Pokey.
(3) ROBERT, a local lad born & raised in Durango, also showed up.  His mother had very recently succumbed after a long battle with cancer.  This was his first night out, to regain the spirit of Living.  Robert and I did NOT even meet eyes at this folk dance scene, BUT!!!  when we talked about it, we both admitted that we each had taken strong note of the other, viz:

(4) MY TAKE:   When I saw him walk in, I noticed how open, and non-judgmental he was -- quietly surveying the crowd in this funky old 1940s dance hall -- and how he simply joined in with the circle dances, warm-hearted and friendly.  Said I to myself, "Now THAT is a good man.  If there are men like this in Durango, I'll be okay here..." but I also decided he was too young for me, and so made no attempt to connect.  In fact, I found that folk dancing scene was just TOO hokey, and took off for the local bar featuring 60's music, down the street a ways.

(5) HIS TAKE:  Oh hey!  Robert noticed me as well, and he said to himself, "That is the woman I'm going to marry."  REALLY!  We did NOT meet eyes in that funky dance hall -- we just each "recognized" the other.
(6) THE CONNECT:  I arrived at the bar, down the street, where was a '60s rock band...  Not dancing, but rockin' out right there at the table.  Not long afterwards, Robert showed up -- he was literally looking for me.  Durango is a small town, and there was really no other place I could have gone to.
    He leaned over the table, past the strangers also sharing the big round table,  and with the warmest smile, said, "Would you like to dance?"
     I burst into a big grin (THIS  was THAT GUY with the warm open-hearted eyes).  Immediately, I tried to get out from the round table.  I was on the far side by a wall.... but the strangers sharing that round table utterly ignored me....
     Therefore, being a graceful, shy type, I simply climbed up onto the table top and WALKED OVER THE TOP towards Robert.
     Not surprisingly, the table TIPPED ("Grab your beers!!) and I fell right into his arms.  We danced every dance til the place closed. 
     Then we courted, driving back and forth between Taos and Durango -- two years filled with many types of outdoor adventures, camping trips et al. 

THE PROPOSAL:  And then...  well, they say, "You know you're a redneck if he proposes to you over the phone...."  ....which is what Robert did. 
     Robert (on the phone):  "Would you like to move up here?"  (translation:  "Will you marry me?")
     Me (on the phone):  "That means I bring all my stuff, and I never leave.  Are you ready for that?"  (rough translation:  "Oh yes!  Yes!!  Oh, I love you so much, YES!)

     SO!  That proposal was 22 years ago.

October 4, 2016 ("marriage" in that tax office)
October 5, 2016 ("reception" at a favorite restaurant)

     About the Reception:  Most coincidentally, it just so happens that (already in the works with no connection to our "wedding" in the tax office on Oct. 4)  is a wonderful gathering of friends at a favorite restaurant -- tomorrow night (Oct. 5). 
     Yup -- we'll secretly (maybe I'll mention it, maybe not) celebrate our marriage with friends tomorrow night (October 5) at our beloved "Himalayan Restaurant."
      What the hey!
Love to y'all,
     Sara (no, not changing my last name)

Friday, June 10, 2016

Pueblo Dance Shenanigans -- a glimpse


      We also visited two different tribal pueblos to view their dances, both open to the public. Judy is close friends with a number of the women in both pueblos.
      No photographing is allowed at all... so here is a brief word-picture:
      First we hear the powerful drumbeats which fill the air and open the heart, and we, the many observers, stand nearby taking it all in.  Soon after, we can see the dancers entering the courtyard area -- colorfully painted faces, colorful clothing, hauntingly beautiful singing, rhythmic footsteps.  The dancers are fully focused on their dance, their deep chanting touches the heart, as they all move in procession throughout the pueblo grounds. 
      We all follow at a respectful distance, standing around the edges.
      And ahhhh!  One dance in particular....  
      Yes, at one of the pueblos, there was a very playful twist.  We had been following a dancing "herd of deer" when -- as if in utter disruption -- once-were-enemy "Apache," colorfully marked with warpaint, appeared on the scene! 
      They snuck up alongside the "deer"...  
      Then, suddenly, they began hooting war-cries!  With their tiny bows they shot toy arrows into the air over the heads of the dancers -- and the rain of arrows fell all around, wafting harmlessly to the ground.  
      This went on for some playful time...  and then, to our delight, the dance SUDDENLY erupted in a sort of "Sadie Hawkins" scramble!!! 
      At the sound of one gunshot -- all the dancers took off running like hell to avoid being captured by local unmarried tribes-women.  Delightful pandemonium indeed!  After all, if they are caught, they are then taken to that woman's home, and HELD there, captive,  until the dancer's family comes up with payment to free them -- foodstuffs, maybe other trades, (not money). 
      Much laughter!

Monday, August 10, 2015


 ABOVE: Aerial view of the pollution rolling down from the mountains...
BELOW:  Close-up of the pollution, as it settles along the shore, and river-bottom.

From the Durango Herald (August 10, 2015)
     The EPA on Sunday tripled its estimate of how much contaminated water gushed out of Gold King Mine and slipped into the Animas River...  up to 3 million gallons from an initial estimate of 1 million gallons...  One million gallons of water is equal to about two Olympic-size swimming pools, meaning about six Olympic-size swimming pools of wastewater came downstream."  (NOTE added by me: it is STILL coming down, just not that sickening yellowish color)  
     (Regarding cleanup)  "...heavy metals will settle on the riverbed...  We do expect over the coming months and years,  as there are surges in the river,  that sediment can get kicked up...  We'll really need to have long-term monitoring plans.  ...sampling in the river, wells and soil may be necessary for a long time to come...  Some of these metals, such as zinc, can inhibit plant growth.  Others, such as lead, are more of a human health concern.  A lot of these metals pose long-term health risks..." (for more details: )
                                                               * * *
     So... a real part of my life in Durango has been shut down, apparently for the foreseeable future.  No more spring rapids-running.... No more evening solo paddle.  Oh, I'll miss those... 
Since I moved up here, I've been spending many summer and autumn sunsets (and an occasional bundled-up WINTER run) in my kayak, paddling upstream a ways, and then floating down among the reflecting reds and oranges (and some small ice floes in winter). 
     This year, there was this blue heron that I liked to see on its perch along the river.  It's been a personal meditative time.  But now -- will the fish be poison to the heron?  Oh, who knows...
     Our mountain lakes are quite beautiful and I'll go there sometimes but they're all a longer drive, so it won't be a daily evening ritual....
     Ah, but day before yesterday,  a friend and I were doing just that,  each of us paddling our own kayak while bathed in the sunset brilliance of a beloved mountain lake.  We were quietly circumambulating along its wild edges,  among the reeds and nooks.   As we came close to completing our circuit,  there came a hawk gliding overhead directly towards me, carrying a fish in its talons.               

      Setting my paddle down, I turned my head up to watch.  The hawk flapped its wings very powerfully --  just once -- thus stopping its glide for just a moment -- an electric moment -- and we met eyes (so it seemed to me).   Then the hawk flew on, directly over my head, and was gone.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


In the dark of night -- last night -- Robert strapped on a portable flamethrower, hoisted up the heavy fuel container, lit the business end of the hose, and -- after laying down a precise line of flame on OUR property -- he quietly entered our neighbor's yard.  (NOTE:  this is taking place in our little village in Mexico.)

Watching the ground intently, he walked slowly around their outdoor kitchen and play-yard, laying down an incinerated trail as he moved.  Then, he circled their entire home, all the while flaming a trail...  Then he moved on to the next neighbor's home (the last house on the little dirt road through town) and lay down a flame trail.  From there, he crossed the little dirt road and continued his slow walk, circling the little homes across the street -- staring at the ground and laying down a flaming trail.

I paced the porch and hoped no one would wake up, that no one would hear him, and that he would return safely,  and I fervently wished that he had, like, you know.... asked permission first or something.  Can you imagine what they might think, waking up in the dark of night and seeing the crazy gringo neighbor circling their house while laying down flames?

Remarkably, not one neighbor awoke, and no flames went out of control...  and also in his intent wandering, he discovered the Mother Lode!   Yes!  He found the entrance to the underground citadel of chancharas (we call them army ants).  He has plans for how to completely eradicate that little empire, to be accomplished on another night.

What he successfully accomplished last night, was the saving of entire trees.  These chancaras can completely denude a tree in a short time, and then move on to the next.  It's how we lost our guava tree last season.

Our dearest village friend -- brother at heart -- had dropped by earlier in the evening with a pouch of ant poison.  He had noticed the advance of the army the night before that and was determined to stop them in their tracks.  Once Robert was alerted, he went on high-action mode.  Rather than letting Guille lay down a long trail of poisonous powder, he brought out the flame-thrower and Guille gave him full approval for its use.

This morning, I wandered along the trail of the flame-thrower.  Not much to see.  Incinerated ants don't leave much behind .. and also, the free-range chickens don't miss much of what's left!

 As for the concept of incinerated foliage -- there was none.  We all keep our yards as clear of growing plants as we can.  Certainly NEVER is there grass.  Bare dirt is preferred.  Flowering plants and bushes are kept in containers  That way, scorpions and small lethal blue snakes (for instance) have nowhere to hide.

We left for this particular town trip before the next-door neighbors even wandered outside, so we don't know their reaction -- if they even can tell what happened while they slept.  That's probably a good thing.