Colorado Tales # 56
July 12, 2012
Dear Friends and Relatives,
After working from our home office for 15 years Ken has finally retired. This is a very different phase of life and he’ll need time to find his way in this new terrain. Right now he is cleaning up loose ends with the business and spending more time outside hiking, bicycling and motorcycling through the Rocky Mountains. He has particularly enjoyed hiking with our dog Lily who has become a reliable, off-leash companion.
I’ve been busy too – as usual. Earlier this year I was approached by Karon Kelly, with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, NCAR, and the University of Colorado Atmospheric Research facility, UCAR, regarding a painting of mine which they wanted to put in the UCAR library in Boulder. Two years ago the library’s director, Leslie Forehand asked if I would display my work at the UCAR library, something I was delighted to do. Sadly, Leslie had ovarian cancer and passed away in 2011. Karon, from NCAR, was instrumental in setting up a fund to honor Leslie and to acquire a painting she admired, a view of Long’s Peak and Mount Meeker at sunset.
Karon selected one of my paintings of those iconic mountains. The view is from our back door. I gladly provided the painting and told them that even if the donations to the fund were inadequate to pay my usual price the painting was theirs regardless.
On April 10, during national library week, a memorial was held for Leslie at the UCAR Library. There must have been 50+ people in attendance including family members, scientists and employees of both NCAR and UCAR. I was overwhelmed by the central place my painting took. Leslie was loved and respected as director of the library. I spoke at the event and met many of her relatives and friends. At the end Karon handed me a check stating that they did very well with donations.
Ken was not at the event and when I returned home we relived my experience at the memorial and my tears of joy just flowed. I have been happy and have had wonderful happy things happen to me, but it is special when tears of happiness flow.
The painting, unframed, is 18×24. It now hangs at what was once Leslie’s desk in the library foyer. A bronze plaque placed just to the right honors Leslie’s years with UCAR and speaks of her delight in hiking the Rocky Mountains. Beneath the painting a small plaque displayed the title of my painting and my name.
What a tribute to Leslie Forehand and a wonderful experience for me. Ken visited the library a few days later. He was very impressed with this very technical library and the prominent display of the painting and plaque.
In addition to the memorial for Leslie, I also submitted paintings to NCAR at the summit of Table Mesa Drive in Boulder. NCAR has a spectacular location looking down on Boulder and is the source of much of our nation’s knowledge of climate change. I have 20 paintings at their facility in Gallery 1 that will stay until July 29. This is quite an honor and I am very fortunate to be able to have an exhibit there.
You are probably aware of the Colorado wildfires. This is nothing like Connecticut. The High Park fire, 20 miles north of us, burned 87,000 plus acres of forest and destroyed many homes. One older woman chose to stay in her cabin rather than heed multiple evacuation calls; hers was the only death. Over 1000 firefighters and 100 trucks plus an armada of aircraft defended lives and homes. The smoke at our home was thick for days.
The Flagstaff Mountain wildfire was a serious threat to Boulder. Fortunately the people who dedicate their efforts to fire fighting contained it in a few days.
The Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs destroyed many homes. We wondered who allowed the construction of so many homes on steep and forested mountainsides. When the trees are close the home is indefensible.
When we were planning our move to Colorado we at first thought we would like to live in the high country. After some second thoughts we chose to live on the plains. Correct choice! We can see the beauty of the mountains better than when you are in the mountains. We have only a 45-minute drive to Rocky Mountain National Park. We live among horse farms, hayfields and grasslands where fires happen often but are extinguished with relative ease using specially equipped fire trucks that soak the ground in front with fog nozzles as they drive right through the burning fields.
On June 15 Ken and I flew to NYC, the first stop on our trip back East. We had tickets to the play “Wicked” on Broadway. We had a few hours before the play on Saturday the 16th and walked to Broadway where they had closed several blocks for a street market. We also discovered several blocks were closed for a filming of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. There must have been at least 20 huge silver trailers with steps leading up to quarters with the names of the cast on them. We watched some of the filming which was quite interesting.
Ken asked an attendant on the movie set about the closed off blocks. It was obvious that businesses were losing money since the shops could not be reached. The attendant advised that the movie company had to pay off all businesses. This was no nickel and dime venture. We had lunch at an Irish pub with beautiful woodwork and stained glass windows and located just across the street from the theatre.
When we entered the theater I bought the most expensive tee shirt ever; a $50 Wicked-branded tee shirt. New York is expensive in every way. The set of Wicked was an engineering marvel. A huge dragon arched over the stage with red flickering eyes, flapping wings and fire belching from its nostrils. Actors dressed as winged monkeys flew above the audience suspended on wires. Ken enjoyed the engineering of the set. The singers were, of course, excellent. You have to be good to make it in New York.
After the show we dropped into Rosie O’Grady’s for a beer. While on business Ken raised a beer at Rosie’s a few times during the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. He would call me at home and the noise from happy people in the place was unbelievable.
The next day, Sunday June 17, we rented a car and drove directly to Provincetown on the Cape. We had lodging at the Inn at Cook Street. This location was just 200 ft from the famous Commercial Street. We spent three days enjoyed lobster, oysters, shrimp, and fish, fish, fish. Great stuff!
The woman who ran our B&B gave us some tips on where we might hike to get great views of the dunes, light houses, etc. It is always good when a local resident gives you information not found in the tourist guides. We have a couple of photos of our time spent on the Cape. Enjoy!
Seals viewing the tourists
Diane exploring the dunes
On the 21st of June we travelled from one end of Massachusetts to the other – Provincetown to Great Barrington and Lake Buell using all secondary roads for old times sake. We visited with our dear friend, Dave Logan at his home on Lake Buell. On arrival we put our things in the guest cottage and headed to the shade at lakeside. It was hot and humid at this beautiful lake and the humidity reminded us of one of the reasons we moved to Colorado. Dave is always a gracious host and we enjoyed his company and the delightful electric launch he designed and built.
Dave's place on the lake
After our visit with Dave we traveled to Connecticut.
Our first family visit was with Ken’s daughter Jennifer and her family. The children have gotten quite grown up. Ken’s older daughter Melanie and her girls Jackie and Katie joined us for a hike up to the lovely Hueblein Tower and later took everyone to their favorite Mexican restaurant.
Diane, Ken, Steve and Jennifer Beck and Melanie
Each night we stayed with Norm and Donna, my Godchild and his wife. They recently finished building their dream home in Coventry. Norm and Donna have built a lovely home. The Gessays, Norm’s family, are noted for building perfection and this was a perfectly built home in the country on Swamp Hollow Rd. in Coventry.
The next morning we visited with my son Mark, his wife Maureen and their extended family who drove up from New York and New Jersey. Maureen’s brothers Bruce and Brian are each starting families. We met Bruce and Sarabeth’s children whom we had never met before. This was family. Brian and Kendra drove from New Jersey. They were married last June and Kendra is pregnant.
Kendra, Diane and Sarabeth
My son Mark is having health difficulties and is going thru many, many tests. I wish I could just wave a magic wand and make everything better but…
We had to be back in Coventry by 5 pm as Donna and Norm had arranged to have my relatives come over for dinner. This was wonderful as I was wondering how I would be able to manage to see all of them. It was also great to have a gathering where we just enjoyed each other without it being a funeral.
Next day was a visit with Melanie and her family. Katy and Jacky are now 20 or 21. My how time flies. Melanie had just gotten home from work at Hartford hospital so we arranged to pick up pizzas and an order of fried eggplant. Eggplant was fantastic.
Time does slip away and we started our trek back to NYC and LaGuardia airport. On our way we found the Murrays, Jeff and Caroline, who are building quite a home with their own hands and sweat. It will be a couple of years before they are finished. They are quite an inspiration. The home and even the construction tools are clever and thoughtful as we would expect from Jeff.
The trip to NY was in heavy traffic. We found our hotel near the airport and spent the last few hours reminiscing about our adventures. Our flight departs at 7:15 am and we found a shuttle bus to the airport at 4:40 am. There was a family group with luggage enough to start a home and we wondered if we would ever be able to get on the bus. With angry travellers around us, we were relieved to get off the bus at the terminal.
Once back in Colorado I delivered three paintings to a national show being held at The Great Frame Up in Longmont. I was fortunate to have all three of my paintings accepted. This Friday, the 13th, is the reception and award ceremony.
Because of the drought Colorado has a fire ban so our local fireworks display was cancelled. On July 4th we drove to up the mountain to the tiny community of Allenspark to enjoy their down home 4th of July parade complete with horses and lamas. Events like that are wonderful.
That evening we gave a dinner party of 10 people one baby (2 months old) and 5 dogs. It was a fine 4th of July cookout. When you have really nice people, food and drink, it is always a success. Our friends the Treats bought a condo in Longmont and will be travelling out to Colorado regularly to visit with their son, Tom, and his soon to be wife, Lola, and their baby Clara.
This past June was quite a reminder of different stages of life. Most important is to enjoy life and live it to its fullest.
This Saturday is Rhythm on the River. It is the largest family event put on by the City of Longmont. There is no fee to enter. I manage the Art Zone Tent and we literally have thousands of people come thru. This year I prepared 200 sheets of drawing paper with outlines of animals for the children (or adults) to paint. That is always popular. In the afternoon we have an artist from the Old Firehouse Art Center who will be making tissue flowers with children.
Rhythm on the River is always exciting and tiring. On Saturday we must deliver the final load of art, etc. and be off the premises by 6:30 am as there is a foot race at 7 am. I have done this for 8 successive years and in September I turn 75. When the day comes that I cannot do this anymore it will be difficult.
Hope you are well and enjoying the summer.
Diane and Ken