I almost choked today. I was taking care of a friends little kiddlings, age 7 and 8 for half day after their morning camp. The choking part. Well picture this: We are in Green Mountain Falls eating sandwiches at a cafe before we fished. These little critters are usually very quiet, however, out of no where, my ears were ringing with Jacob’s exclamation, “I’M VOTING FOR MITT ROMNEY!” Everyone turned and looked at us, I pushed the bread down my craw and screeched, “where’s the soap?” OMG. It was so funny and mortifying at the same time. As most of you know, I am pretty liberal. I also live in one of the few tiny liberal pockets in Colorado. For the rest of the day Little Jake kept saying that and I finally told him, “It’s a free country, but if you want to go fishing, you better not say that again.” 🙂
Assessing the damage on my deck this early morning after the fierce wind storm last night at the foot of Pikes Peak. I brought in my pineapple plant last night; as well as my red pepper plant. But I overlooked my Mr. Buddy, the fishing gnome. I thought he was nailed down, but the wind pulled him up and slammed him to the floor and he is broken into many, many pieces. Rest in peace, Mr. Buddy.
I really, really, wanted to fish today, however, that wasn’t in the cards. My fishing buddy down the road has been hard to reach and I’ve been unbelievably busy unpacking, cleaning, entertaining out of town guests and working. Actually, I’ve been a little pissed at my fishing buddy, Bill (Not Long for this World post). A couple weeks ago he went fishing and caught a 21 inch wild brown trout along with about 75 others that he released. He says. Anyway, he cleaned it and put it in the freezer for me and told me to come by after work and get it. I was sick and extremely dead tired after work that night, and with every turning winding curve on lower Twin Rock Road, I thought I was going to lose my cookies so I did not stop to pick up my fish and went straight home. Bill got pissed at me and fed my fish to his dogs the next day. Now why did he have to go and do that? Well things have been winding down. Mikes family is gone, wedding is over, I’m gradually getting unpacked and I’m feeling a little more rested. So this morning I stopped by Bill’s. “Where the heck have you been!” he exclaimed. I gave him a hug and told him good to see him and I heard he fed my fish to Shortstack. He said, he was a MAN OF HIS WORD, something he repeats often. I said I was puking all the way up the mountain that night. Anyway, that was the end of the fuming and we talked about when the hell we were going to fish together again.
After I parted from Bill, I headed down the hwy to the little eye blink of Florissant. I heard they had a Coffeehouse called Costello’s and I wanted to check it out. It’s in a very old Victorian house…just about the only house in the little “downtown.” http://www.costellostreetcoffeehouse.com/ Here is the website so you can check out a picture, etc. It’s across from the Thunderbird Inn which is the other only open business besides the library and a couple gas stations, oh and some feed stores and I’m sure I’ve missed something and will offend another business owner if they read this but seriously, just about all the business there that are still standing in this little blink of an eye town are closed down and boarded up. There were lots of rules to this coffee/tea house (they boast of having high tea parties at times) and they make paninis and other breakfast/lunch items and sometimes special dinners. Back to the rules. On the gate was a sign that said, No outside drinks allowed. Then I got to the screen door and there is another sign that says the same thing. There was also another sign on the screen door that said to SHUT IT. I made my way through the pretty antique dining room to the counter with beautiful pasties and pies and stuck on the cash register was another sign that said that they prefer cash bc credit cards are expensive and if we want to keep the costs down, pay cash. Before I could order my Breve and shortbread cookie to go, I was feeling sort of negative. I looked down at myself searching for a to go cup I might have accidentally dragged in with me and had on my person, feeling like I might get locked up or yelled at. But I was clear of such contraband and wiping my forehead, placed my order. While waiting on my Breve, I read another sign on the wall. It was softer though, done in needlepoint with a frame. It said, “Friends don’t let friends go to Starbucks.” I thought, well the owner doesn’t have anything to worry about here about Starbucks. And then I remembered, just 12 miles down the mountain in a little town of 5,500 population, there IS a Starbucks!. My Breve was good and my cookie melted in my mouth. The soft spoken girl that prepared it said she was new and she was sweet, however, when I left, I thought, it’s just not very inviting to have so many rules involved in buying a cup of coffee and a cookie.
So I went on down the mountain to clean my friend Jack’s house. He had called me a total of 8 times last week. I have been cleaning his solar mountain house down the mountain in Woodland Park every month until I moved up here and I’ve been just too overwhelmed with moving, etc. I haven’t been there for a while, and he sounded desperate. Jack is a semi-hoarder so I clean around his stacks. It’s not as bad as you see on tv, but he likes to keep stuff like bills that are from 1950 and movie stubs from 1970’s and ski lift tickets from every year he has ever skied. He’s 72 and still skiing. And empty Wendy’s cups and birthday presents and Christmas presents in little stacks. He just can’t let go of stuff, but like I say, it’s not nearly as bad as what you see on tv.
After that I ran a few errands, one to the quilt fabric shop and to Walmart. The Walmart here is a little bit like a country club on the outside with a big bronze statue of a deer in the landscaped entrance. Pikes Peak is jutting out in back of it. Many people rebelled against it being built. But capitalism won and took over what was once a haven for woods animals and birds. They can still wander around but might bump in to this massive piece of “have to have it” store. My favorite part of this Walmart is the frozen food section that is dark until you walk by it and the lights turn on by a sensor. I guess one might call this a “green” Walmart. I bought my fishnet (I’m emptying a fish aquarium as I write) and 15 other items I didn’t plan on and checked out.
On the way home I took some pictures and below you will see them. I stopped at Bills again and told him I bought a one day fishing license for Thursday morning. (One of the 15 items I bought at Walmart) We haggled over what time we should meet and agreed to 5:30. He said if I am late he will leave without me because “I am a man of my word.” I told him bullshit and that he needs to be a little more flexible and he said he can’t change. And I said neither could I. So we parted with a laugh and I’ll set my alarm for 4:30 on Thursday and do what I love to do best and hopefully Bill won’t leave without me if I’m a few minutes late.
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I fished my ass off this Friday. Second time out with friend and fishing guide, Bill. He’s got the bug. I’ve got the bug. I’ve never been so tired in my life after walking miles up and down the South Platte near
Hartsel. It was awesome! We were the first out in our area. Picked him up in Florissant at 5 a.m., stopped for gas, ice for the Coronnas and headed on down Hwy 24 to hwy 9. This is the route I took home from Breckenridge when the kids were visiting to ski in March. Wilkerson Pass is gorgeous and I understand why the Indians settled there on the gorgeous golden prairie that slides right into the jutting snow-covered mountains.
By 7:30 a.m. , Bill pulled in his first big one, however, not big enough to keep. This wild brown trout measured in at 18 inches. Needed to be over 21. I caught about 7 med. to little browns and returned them to the winding river and Bill says he caught a total of 25. I didn’t witness all of them….He scooted ahead of me sometimes along the winding curve of the river. My shins and calves are sunburned, bug bitten and bush scratched. I had to sit down a couple of times and enjoyed a Coronna and nectarine while experiencing the most beautiful scent of sage and flowers that bordered the river. There were wild irises and yellow columbines too that quilted the grass and sage.
The areas that looked like the only place to hide one’s buttocks while relieving ones self looked like a perfect meeting place for mountain lions so after about 5 hours I talked Bill back to the car for a drive
to Hartsel and I had the best patty melt in the strangest old historical musty bar, the Hob Cafe and Saloon. They had dollar bills taped up all over the ceiling and walls. It was good to relax while looking across the hwy at the “Hartsel Jail.” Lots of tourists and Harley dudes and dudettes were hanging out for refreshment too.
After lunch, we explored other parts of the Platte as dark clouds, thunder and lightning moved in. We joked around about the lightning and Bill laughed at my healthy fear of Colorado lightning as I scooted back to the car. He said he’s ready to go and it might as well be by lightning. I asked him if he wanted to be resuscitated and he said, hell no. I told him I recently had a trip to see my grandsons and Pete and Benny and I really hit it off so I’d like to stay around a couple more years if possible…
We then went back to our honey hole where we started early in the morning. By then I was pretty exhausted because I didn’t get much sleep the night before and got up at 4 a.m., however, I walked another mile or two along the river casting along the way. By five we decided it was time to head home. Traffic was wild and crazy and drivers were dangerous as we headed towards Wilkerson Pass and Florissant, our home base. I crashed and slept a gazillion hours dreaming of the sweet smelling sage, the gorgeous winding gurgling river, wild brown trout and the snow speckled mountains in the background. Doesn’t get better than that.
A Facebook friend from Mississippi recently made this supplication:
“Oil is moving closer to our Mississippi Gulf Coast…workers are working 12-14 hours a day to keep it away from us…they are cleaning Dolphins, turtles, Birds, and other animals that are coming to us for help !!! Please pray for the workers and the extreme heat that they are battling…..We are all in it, together…God Bless our Mississippi Gulf Coast !!!!!”
I’ve been hearing about this horrible oil spill daily, more than twice or three times. It looks bad, however, it didn’t hit home with me until I read this from my Facebook friend. And while viewing the PBS Newshour tonight, the vice president of the Shrimping Industry Association was talking from his head and heart about how workers that are working for BP in the clean-up process and that includes himself, are getting sick due to chemicals and the exposure to the spewing petroleum. Little children are getting rashes. Mothers are keeping their little ones locked up in the house. It’s bad enough that helpless animals and birds are being killed.
I live in the mountains. The mountains, my landscape, my environment, my milieu, are a part of me. I dreamed for a long time to live in the shadow of these strong massive jutting rocks surrounding Pikes Peak. I became educated, planned and moved here 12 years ago. I returned to Oklahoma for family reasons and then moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota with a family member for almost 7 years. I lived 4 blocks from a glacial lake and a few miles from about 900 more. I loved fishing these lakes and I’ll never forget those blue and silvery reflective mirrors of wildlife and beauty at 5:30 in the morning. However, the mountains drew me to them again and I have been here for almost 4 years this time. Many people feel that draw, that soul grabbing pull to the ocean and have become part of that landscape, loving in it, working in it and thriving. So to have ones landscape destroyed is like killing a part of the people that have built their lives in that landscape.
One of my favorite poets, Nancy Wood, is from the area in which I live. I would like to share one of my favorites and most meaningful poem of hers. For those of you who love the gulf coast, including my friend from Mississippi, replace the word mountain with ocean. Replace the word rock with sandy beach, and the word stream with never ending clear blue sky. And ask the sun and beautiful landscape that is in your backyard and soul to receive the anger from your heart…
“My help is in the mountain
Where I take myself to heal
The earthly wounds
That people give to me.
I find a rock with sun on it
And a stream where the water runs gentle
And the trees which one by on give me company.
So must I stay for a long time
Until I have grown from the rock
And the stream is running through me
And I cannot tell myself from one tall tree.
Then I know that nothing touches me
Nor makes me run away.
My help is in the mountain
That I take away with me.
Earth cure me. Earth receive my woe. Rock strengthen
me. Rock receive my weakness. Rain wash my sadness
away. Rain receive my doubt. Sun make sweet my song.
Sun receive the anger from my heart.”
I need Him to show me the money, a friend recently told me over the phone. It’s my “friends friend who has also become my friend, the one that is not long for this world. He called me on the phone for the first time to also ask if I could help him get his house in order. He has been putting so much time in his work on the vintage cars that his house has been neglected, he said. People that would drive by used to stop and tell him how great his yard and home looked. He needs to get the paint brush out and do some touching up and he would like me to help.
I’ve been having some flashbacks, he said. Flashbacks of the fun times I used to have when I was younger. He is also thinking about death and what happens after. I need Him to show me the money he would repeat, talking about God and the need of proof that there is an afterlife. I told him that it sounds like he has had an interesting life. He said that was true and that he was raised in Tahiti by his mother until he was 16. He started talking about the time he was a back-up singer with Rita Coolidge singing back-up for the Captain and Tenille and Delaney and Bonnie. I said, you’re kidding. You sing? Heck yes, he said. I was in love with Rita Coolidge. Then he said he had been thinking about the great time he had with Dickey Smothers when he lived in Marina Del Ray California. He worked on his outboard motor on his boat the year of Dick’s divorce and how they would drink beers together and talk about how he did not want his wife to get his boat! He asked me if I knew who John Ford and Earl Flynn were? I told him yes and he said he worked on their cars. Then he started talking about Dan Blocker, Haas, on Bonanza and how he overhauled the engine on his Chris Craft boat. He said, Dan was a very big guy and was gentle speaking and intelligent. My head is swimming with all the celebrity name dropping. Heck, I remember watching the Smothers Brothers and Bonanza on a regular basis as a kid. And now I’m talking with a man in the mountains about life after death and overhauling celebrity boat and car engines….
The conversation takes the path to the subject of life after death again. I just need him to show me the money, he repeated. I said something about grace and creation and the beautiful land he lived on. I said, there”s your money! I wasn’t sure where I was going with that and prayed to God to help me with this conversation. This tough proud expert mechanic and I’m finding out, singer too, is feeling vulnerable and I decide to mostly listen because this is one hard topic. I mean, we are talking about the existence of God and the afterlife. I recently read an article about how when we are at the most vulnerable with a life threatening illness we are more open to having God in our life. Not out of desperation, but our defenses are down. God is always there, we are just more open to him. We become more human and divine at the same time.
And then the subject goes back to having me come help him do some things around his land and house. I explain that I’m right in the middle of tourist season, but yes I will find some time. He said he would pay me and I tell him that the only payment I would accept is to have him teach me to fish the South Platte. He said he needs to go fishing Sunday, but he has so much to do. I tried to talk him in to keep his date with the fishing plans.
Our conversation bounces around about flashbacks of good times, how life is so short, the desire to have proof of heaven and afterlife, and me coming up to help. I mention to him that he seems like such a social person and why has he become a recluse in the mountains. He had a quick answer. I am not a recluse. My place represents freedom and safety! I said, yes it is all beautiful. I liked his answer. Well that was basically the only firm answer we came up with during this conversation. We both agreed that it is not cool that life is so short and that it is scary to be close to the end. We talked about the anxiety of it. I told him that the verse from Isaiah, “Be still and Know that I am God” is my prayer and mantra when I feel anxiety about the future. There was a little pause in the conversation and I told him I would call him when I returned from my visit with my grandchildren and we will make plans after that and that I really wanted to go fishing with him too. He told me to make sure and have fun. I thought the same about him. Have fun, be still and Show me the money!
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I stopped to chat with my friend’s friend who is “not long for this world” when I went up to see my friend yesterday. He had his head under the hood of a vintage pick-up truck he is working on for the owner who lives in a nearby mining town. I asked him how his day was and he said, other than waking up feeling lots of pain, depressed with suicidal tendencies, not that great. I said, not good. He explained that he had been all over the nearest mountain town looking for a copper part to the engine he was working on and no one had it until next Thursday. He said he tried to call my friend to ask if he could stop in Colorado Springs on his way home from work and pick the part up, but he hasn’t heard back from him. So I called my friend and we went in and out on our cells. He did hear that I was at his friends. So he called his friend on his garage phone and they talked and he said he would get him the part. His friend was THRILLED because he said that he would finally get the engine to start with this part. His mood lifted 100% and twinkle returned to his tanned crowfoot eyes. He showed me a picture album of all the cars he had restored in Hawaii and Colorado and a picture of this bright silver awesome engine he’s working on in his living room. The sun was beating down hot at about 80 degrees at this 9000 foot elevated location and I was feeling a little faint, remembering I hadn’t eaten lunch. I went to lean on a car in the shade while I mentioned his fishing poles hanging above his buxom bikini clad calendar girl posters. I told him I was a fisher woman and we shared some pretty good tall fishing tales. He then showed me a 1930 something Ford of his that he said he wanted to get to before he died. He said that he will paint it black and take it to all the drive-in vintage car shows when it is finished. He will hire a 21 year old blonde beauty to sit in the passenger side. But that’s all she will have to do, he re-assured me. He then said, with his luck he will finally get behind the wheel and die of a heart attack. I said he should take his black and white dog, Shortstack, instead. While I was petting Shorty, who he says sleeps with him with his head on a pillow, he told me about Ivan (Ivan the Terrible) who had died before he got Shorty. He pointed to the picnic table and said Ivan, the sweetest dog ever even though he’s named Ivan the Terrible, was buried under the table and his head is pointing to the house. He said see that window over there? I have the blinds opened for Ivan so he will know that I am there. Ivan had separation anxiety and he just wanted Ivan to know he’s home. Damn, I was almost in tears. Remembering why I was feeling faint I said I needed to go. We had stood up talking in his front yard in the bright mountain sun for 2 hours. It was almost 4 o’clock and that’s when he takes a Corona break. My friend should be coming down the dusty dirt road soon with his part. To think I almost didn’t stop by because I was hungry and tired.