Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thurs, Aug 25, 2011: Innocent

They just look too innocent....
Actually, they really were that innocent. They rarely cuddle together so it was totally adorable. :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sun, Aug 21, 2011: Behind Boulder

Wow - this has been a whirlwind of a week, and I can't believe I'm just writing about this now.

Becky and Chris took us on a drive up to Gross Reservoir and the foothills behind Boulder. I have visited this area before, but not for several years, and it was wonderful to visit again as a passenger - and in good company! :)

The trees were charred from a huge wildfire last summer, so the beautiful shapes of the rock formations were bare and our views were unimpeded. I love having the opportunity to be a passenger on a road trip, since it happens so infrequently for me, and it was so relaxing to hang out with my friends and converse while watching the beautiful world go by.

On the way home, the clouds and light playing in the sky were so dynamic.
One of my favorite views of Denver is seen while driving south on I-25 near Thornton. I love seeing the tall buildings of the city, and the silhouette of Pike's Peak in the distance.
It was a peaceful day. :)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sun, Aug 14, 2011 - A Visit With Nomads

My friends Becky and Chris are in Colorado (up from New Orleans, where they usually live) for a few weeks, and we met up with them on Sunday for a picnic in Boulder. The day ended up taking us south to Castle Rock, where we had some fabulous fried chicken and interesting conversation.

Apparently they have made some great connections with art galleries in New Orleans, and Chris is going to have his paintings used as part of a set in a tattoo parlor in an upcoming movie. It's about time that everyone else started figuring out how awesome they are!

We talked a bit about the different feeling that we get from people in Colorado, and Chris shared a theory that I thought was really interesting. (I have addressed this feeling in previous posts). They are really enjoying the culture of New Orleans, which Chris said may be linked to the value of the land. New Orleans is supposed to be a swamp, and the land is essentially useless - but strategically located in an important area, at the mouth of the Mississippi River. His theory is that the amount of culture and life in a place and its people is inversely related to the natural beauty and value of the land. Therefore, because the land of New Orleans is essentially valueless, the culture and people are rich.

If this theory is applied to Denver, whose land is rich and valuable on its own, then one would conclude that the culture and people are less deep and less rich. Comparatively, life in Denver is pretty "easy" (if life could ever be considered easy!). Even in the midst of economic crisis, I know very few people whose jobs and lives have been greatly impacted. I'm certainly not saying that people in Denver don't have problems, because that would be absurd! However, I do feel that life just brings us less to deal with here, and dealing with things is what gives people depth and richness of spirit.

There are people in Denver who still have great richness of spirit and depth of personality, and I feel that my friends are some of those people. :) They are difficult to find, however, which is why my group of friends here has stayed fairly small. I think that the things that I value in myself and others, and the things that most people in Denver value in themselves and others, are pretty different from each other.

I find this very interesting, and wonder if it holds true for other places in the country. My theory that rain causes people to develop a richness inside of them compliments Chris' theory in terms of understanding the way that Denver feels. I wonder what culture and people feel like in a place with a lot of rain and a lot of natural beauty, or very little rain and limited natural beauty? I wish I could find out. :)

Sat, Aug 13, 2011: BBQ

We have been pretty non-stop with our plans lately, which has been wonderful as we have seen most of my friends in a short amount of time. :) This past Saturday, what started off as a small dinner between friends ended up turning into a respectable BBQ!

Before everyone arrived, we had the dogs outside and tried to wear them out a bit so they would be on their best behavior.

Kaylee, however, was only set back for a bit:
The setting sun in the yard was so pretty, and I loved the golden light around the tall grasses that border the path:
It was wonderful to spend the evening out in the yard, as B and I haven't really done that since laying the sod. We worked all spring and summer to create a wonderful outdoor living area, but haven't taken the time to enjoy it. I appreciate my friends for providing us with an excuse to finally use it. :)

My friends' son played with Kaylee for most of the BBQ.
They have dogs of their own at home, so he is used to giving commands and expected to be obeyed. It was so neat seeing his calm confidence as he played with Kaylee, and I really "got" why some parents think it's important for children to have a dog. I certainly didn't have that level of confidence with dogs when I brought Kaylee home! I imagine that confidence will spill out into other areas of his life.

Animals are such a wonderful gift. :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sun, Aug 7, 2011: Perfect Ponderosas at the Flatirons

I recruited B for a hike at the Flatirons (which apparently are located in Boulder Mountain Park? I never knew that). We headed up on my insistence, with me blissfully ignoring the fact that it would be like 90 degrees later that day.

It was about 10:30am by the time we got started, and it was already HOT! It felt so good, though, to be out in the sun and surrounded by nature that the heat was mostly an uncomfortable afterthought.

One of the children running up the trail in front of us was wearing a wizard hat. :)
The view of the foothills from the park is incredible. There are some really neat rock formations that are visible from the area.
North of Estes Park, the mountains just melt away into the prairie of Wyoming.
We sat for a bit and took some pictures of us with the dogs (who were delighted to be along with us, though B's dog overheats easily like me and we both needed to rest quite a bit). This little praying mantis got up in my face and did these crazy ninja arm moves that seemed designed to intimidate me into running away. In reality, I just thought he or she was awesome.
Finally, after hiking up a grassy hill with no protection from the intense heat of the sun, we entered the woods. Once I cooled off a bit, I was able to relax and truly enjoy the world around me. At one point along the trail, we came across a large area filled with cairns:
... and farther down along the trail, we entered a beautiful grassy field dotted with Ponderosa pines:
The trees were so stately, and had these lovely fairy rings around their bases made of some sort of silvery-leaved plant.
The silvery-leaved plant:
One of the funniest things about hiking along the Front Range in Colorado is finding random cacti growing alongside the regular plants of the forest:
The views on the way down were expansive, and much more enjoyable when traveling downhill (traveling downhill even made 90 degrees not seem too bad!):
Mmmmm.... Beauty. :)
I love these little yellow flowers, which speckled the fields beside the trail:

Just as we were leaving, we passed a patch of these interesting brilliant pink flowers, which I don't think I've ever seen before:
I requested that we take the "back way" home, which means Route 93 South to Golden (how I miss Golden...!). There is an area where the road sweeps past the most beautiful view of the Flatirons, and for once I was not driving and was able to capture it:
It's funny to me that the world is so full of beautiful places. It seems that everywhere I go, my heart is full with the feeling that it's the most beautiful place I could possibly be in that moment. And then, I go somewhere else and am full with the feeling that it's the most beautiful place I could be.... How fortunate we are to live in a world where that sentiment can be experienced, where beauty is so prolific that it's impossible to overlook.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sun, July 31, 2011: Elk Magic

This Sunday, B and I headed to Rocky Mountain National Park so I could have one last fun road trip before school started. I voted that we head up via Rt. 40 first, so we could end with lunch in Estes Park.

As we drove across Rt. 40, I was amazed by the incredible amounts of wildflowers that were blossoming everywhere. There were fields of white, purple, yellow, and pink, interspersed with rich green valleys and gently rolling hillsides.

My favorite lakes in Colorado were looking beautiful as always: deep mellow blue surrounded by mountains, with fluffy white clouds bent into intriguing shapes all around.
We stood for a while in the sun, watching the clouds drift slowly as boats raced across the surface of the water.

The sky was beautiful, and I loved the look of the mountains under dynamic clouds, which cast moving shadows onto the earth.

The shadows cast by the trees on this hillside fascinated my eyes.
One of my favorite areas of the park, coming from this direction, is the first main turnoff point when you emerge from treeline. The panorama from this point is so fantastic:
Sometimes the world almost doesn't seem real, like a painting or cardboard cutout of mountains propped up some distance away.
It's just too beautiful to be real... but it is, and to know that makes me so grateful that it hurts.
When I watched the movie American Beauty, I was amazed to hear two quotes in the movie that relate to this feeling, which I have experienced many times when seeing something beautiful:

"And that's the day I knew there was this entire life behind things, and... this incredibly benevolent force, that wanted me to know there was no reason to be afraid, ever. ...Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world I feel like I can't take it, like my heart's going to cave in."
"... it's hard to stay mad, when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much, my heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst... And then I remember to relax, and stop trying to hold on to it, and then it flows through me like rain and I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life... ".

Relaxing, so the beauty of the world can pass through me like rain, is a life-long lesson for me I think.

...And then, when it couldn't get any more beautiful, the elk magic came. Last Friday the 28th, my friend Jen invited me to join her and her children at the Lookout Mountain Nature Center last week, and while we were there she commented that every time she is there she sees elk. I said that I wished her elk magic would rub off on me, and Jen extended her hand and blew elk magic to me.

It worked.

We found a huge herd of elk, one of four that we would see that day.
They were magnificent.
And then... a young one ran up to its mother...
... and was hungry.
I loved watching the two of them together.
The mother walked away while the young one was nursing, probably trying to wean it as it looked to be a young adolescent rather than a baby.

As she walked away, it licked its mouth and stuck its tongue out at me.
There were two males in the herd, both laying down and resting so that they were barely visible except for their giant antlers.

In time, a female showed up near each of them, and it made me smile to see the couples relaxing in the green grass, soaking up the sun as a cool, gentle breeze flowed over and among them.
The flowers were out, vibrant and soft and perched right next to a massive snow drift (which we had to cross with our flip flops on in order to see the elk!).

Heading down the mountain, we came upon this small stream and I was amazed by the colors and flowers in the area.

The earth filled my heart, and so did the elk magic.

Thurs, July 28, 2011: Kitty Night Lights

Ikea finally opened in Denver. All I need is an H&M and I'm set!

This is certainly not a style blog, but I had to share these guys:
The cats change colors: the two tall ones rotate between light blue, dark blue, green, and purple, and the little one in the middle rotates between yellow, orange, red, and bright pink.

Of all the things in Ikea, they are what I needed to bring home. :)