Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Kung Fu dancing, Christmas 2017

Have you seen the shirt that says: Everybody was Kung-Fu dancing?

Well. Probably not everbody was, even back in the day, but on Christmas night, after the presents; after the turkey cooked outdoors in a big green egg followed by a wildly competitive corn hole game in the basement, it was time to blast up the tunes and dance.

And dance they did, those kids and grandkids and in-laws of mine, ranging in age from 19 to 58—they danced for all they were worth. Song after song blared over a speaker attached to one or the other’s cell phone. They knew every word to every song. The set of random moves they performed ranged from extremely skillful to well, to “active.”

On and on it went until Jeni got warm enough to take off a layer—her baggy overalls. Adam picked them up slid them on and became a dancing farmer boy.

He’s the oldest of the dozen grandkids and the only one with definite plans to get married—just not quite sure when—but soon.

“Tonight we’re building a play list for the wedding,” Amy says.

That event, whenever and wherever it is, will be the scene of the next coming together of this simpatico bunch, and they are all counting on it.

Me too.

 corn hole winners

Monday, December 18, 2017

Encumbered Running

I read this to my writers' group last week. I'm thinking about including it in a book about running experiences I'm starting to work on. Why is it that anything about underwear tickles people's funny bones?

In early May, a young woman from the Boulder Daily Camera contacted me and  conducted a brief phone interview about my long-time participation in the Bolder Boulder 10k race, held on Memorial Day each spring. The event marks an unofficial start for the running season and attracts as many as 50,000 runners from all over the country. We had a pleasant visit and then she asked about a photo. I offered to send her one but she said the paper would send a photographer. I was a little surprised as I live 50-plus miles from Boulder.

We set a date for the photographer to be at my house at 7:30 a.m. I was to run my “normal route” and he would follow along and take pictures.

I decide to wear my new Bolder Boulder age-group champion shirt. It’s a little small and not too comfortable and it looks pretty bad without a bra. I never wear a bra when I run.

The day before the planned photo shoot, I learn that Go Lite, a company that makes great clothes is having a warehouse clearance sale. My 16-year-old granddaughter and I decide to check it out. We have a fun time looking through the racks of shirts, pants and underwear. She chooses an exercise bra. Hmm, I think.  Maybe I should “shape up” and have one of those.

I try one on. It’s tight—they all are. They’re supposed to be. That’s why I don’t like to wear them. “Okay. Get over it,” I tell myself.” I buy the bra.

The next morning I put it on under the Bolder Boulder shirt. As I do, I wonder if ‘m going to be able to run in this uncomfortable get-up. I get a little nervous waiting for the photographer. I go outside and sweep the porch. The fellow shows up. Seems friendly enough.

He tells me to start running and he jumps in his car to get ahead of me. He pops up a couple of blocks away and starts snapping. This goes on for four miles. Now and then I make some inane comment. He keeps on snapping, hopping in and out of his car. Once he surprises me from behind a bush.

Back at my house, he shoots me warming down, taking off my shoes, in my living room surrounded by my old running shoes and in my garden. By the time he’s finished, he’s shot more than 600 photos and my smile muscles are more tired than my legs.

The first thing I do after he leaves is take off damn bra. I take a deep breath.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The fun of meeting fellow authors

JAX Outdoor Store in Broomfield, Colorado underwent a bit of a transformation on Saturday, December 9 when 30 local area authors took up their positions at small tables throughout the 90,000 square-foot store. They carry a few books, but their focus is on ranch, home and outdoor gear from tents, kayaks and camo to every piece of equipment and clothing hunters, hikers and fisherpeople might want or need. And they still have some military surplus, a reminder of the day long ago when that was ALL they carried. It is a great place, but not the most likely venue for local authors to peddle their wares.

We all trundled our little boxes of books into the store, found our assigned spots and set up for business. JAX was kind enough to provide us with hot drinks and later sandwiches, wraps and cookies for lunch.

Shoppers came by and some of them paused, glanced at our displays and expressed some interest. I’m not sure what the total sales were, but in a way, that wasn’t the point. All of us got some exposure—maybe most importantly to each other.

The kind person who assigned our seats hooked me up with Bill Watts whose book Running for the Average Joe, sucked me in from word one. Watts began running 15 years ago when his weight and blood pressure were out of control and the sport has transformed him. Last summer he ran the nearly 500-mile Colorado Trail, self-supported, in 13 days. “Live to run, run to live,” he says. I came home with his book   which has helpful sections on injures, nutrition, strengthening and conditioning, racing, and goal-setting to name only a few.

The guy is an IT engineer who spent 2 ½ researching the book and had the know- how to put it together in an attractive and readable way. What a pleasure to spend a few hours with him!

And then I met David Fanning, an expert photographer that Watts got to know on the Colorado Trail. Filled with gorgeous photos, his book, Voices of the Colorado Trail, tells stories of the men and women Fanning interviewed as he hiked. Why afre you here,-why do you love hiking-what have you learned from this experience, he wanted to know.  I had to have this book as well.

It was the title of Amy Charity’s book, On the Wrong Side of Comfortable, that caught my eye. A resident of Steamboat Springs, at age 34 Charity gave up a promising career in finance to follow her dream and become a professional bicycle racer. “Chase your dream. Discover your potential. Transform your life,” she advocates. I came home with her book too.

A day well spent.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Rebirth of a Paper

“My well has run dry,” Doug Conarroe, former owner of the North Forty News wrote on the front page of the June 2016 issue of the paper. After six years of commitment and hard work, Conarroe was ready to move on. So ready that he didn’t officially put the paper on the market. Instead he offered to give it to anyone willing to take on the challenge of a small monthly paper with a loyal but diminished following and a negative cash flow.

“Okay,” I said to myself. “I love this job, (as a staff reporter) but I’ve had a good run. I’ll pick up my marbles and go home.”

Then the grapevine leaked that some guy named Blaine Howerton had taken up the gauntlet. He already had several businesses going, he was more of a TV/online guy than a print journalist, but he couldn’t resist the challenge.

He was full of ideas and enthusiasm. He envisioned a paper that would continue to serve Wellington, LaPorte and the mountain communities but also include all of Northern Colorado including Fort Collins and environs. He was willing to retain the small existing staff and to invite several others to enhance this vision.

I wasn’t about to retire and miss out on this opportunity. The other
members of the staff felt the same way.

Over the last months the paper has grown, both in number of pages and areas of distribution. There is a significant online presence and a daily digest of news. Those of us involved are invited to express our opinions and suggest stories we feel to be timely and of interest. Howerton is open to suggestions and willing to try new approaches.

It’s an exciting workplace. I hope to be around as long as I still have my marbles—at least most of them.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

From tiny beads to big ideas

Elly and Waddington Raisi won’t be in town for Christmas this year. Along with their two young daughters, the family will spend the holiday in Zimbabwe where Waddie grew up and where the couple met. They will reunite with family members and touch base with Zimboarts Coop, their enterprise that provides training and permanent work opportunities for Zimbabwean women struggling to raise their families.

I was fortunate enough to meet this couple, now residents of Fort Collins, in the course of doing a story for North Forty News. Every year about this time, I have a moment when the holiday spirit hits. The Raisis did it for me this year. 

Zimboarts Coop is thriving and all profits from the sale of their beautiful beadwork go to supporting their training/work center in Zimbabwe. The women they serve receive free day care, two meals, and $10 a day while they learn beadwork, traditionally done only by men in Zimbabwe. There’s an after school sports program for kids as well.

In Fort Collins, Waddie owns and operates Hollywood Lawn Service and Elly concentrates on marketing and selling beadwork made by the women at local craft fairs.

Elly is a Fort Collins native who traveled the world seeking adventure until she met Waddie in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. He grew up poor and learned the art of beadworking so well that he was able to support himself well. He helped Elly out when she experienced a currency crisis while on her travels and that small interaction changed both of their lives. Their common commitment to make the world a better place in whatever small way they can binds this couple together. They function as if it were Christmas all year long. 

Photos: Waddie and Elly pose in their showroom. Waddie showing the parrot he created. In the background, a poster shows the women at work in Zimbabwe.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Moving day--or days

People relocate all the time. Sometimes across the street, other times across a state, a country, or anywhere in the world. When these people move, they take with them their worldly belongings.

Thus the need for “relocation services” that come into your home and go through it room by room with boxes, paper and tape, dismantling, wrapping and packing up every item in sight. The “relocators” are fast, efficient and perform a service much in demand.

During the last few days, as I help a family member with the “other end” of all that wrapping and packing, I’ve had plenty of time to think. I’ve been blown away by the mounds of cardboard and paper that remain when the objects it cared for during transport have been released back into the world. How many trees did it take to produce all this packaging? And what to do with it now? The wrappings get stuffed back into the boxes it came from, in hopes that there’s someone close by who is about to move and will be able to make use of them.

Let me tell you, it is taking a village, or at least a conglomeration of shirt-tail relatives, to get this particular outfit settled into a new house. By the end of day two in the unpacking process, the garage is full of wrapping paper, strips of cardboard, and boxes piled nearly to the ceiling. The debris, stacked up on the front porch as well, in a pile so high that should a wind come by (almost a given in Wyoming) the neighbors would not be happy. So more paper and boxes got stuffed into the garage.

At first, the idea of unpacking is exciting. It’s kind of like Christmas, opening box and after box, and tightly wrapped little package after package. But then, the thrill wears thin.

It’s a relief it is to learn that it’s possible to go to Facebook Marketplace and offer all those papers and boxes to some poor soul that is gearing up to “relocate.”

In a few days or maybe weeks, the unpacking will be finished. No one will be anxious to repeat the process any time soon.