Monday, December 31, 2012

More Scenes in England

Huntingford, England
The River Kent running through Levens Park in Cumbria
Main Street in an English village
An English valley
Sunset in Devonshire

New Year's Eve 2012

It's still chilly outside - flurries have been falling in Denver, but I have yet to see any in Boulder. Nedi is out chasing squirrels and the raven family, while Lovey keeps talking in a very demanding voice, and wants me to ignore the PC and spend all my attention on her. The weather folks say we'll have light snow through 3 this afternoon, then clear for the night and tomorrow. My cold has developed into a nasty cough and I woke myself up several times during the night because my wheezing was so squeaky. Rosie and Remy had a good night, and thoroughly enjoyed their breakfast. I was a trifle surprised when I closed the door between the den and the dining room (we feed the dogs in separate rooms), and the knob assembly came off in my hand, with the other knob on the other side of the door also making a ker-plonk sound. At first, I couldn't get the rod of the assembly back in the door - and I was afraid I'd have to walk around the house in my nightgown and socks so I could use the key and get back inside the front door. I pulled up my big girl panties, got dressed, and went back to the door to try fixing it again. Bingo! I managed to fit the rod assembly back in the door just right, so I could open it; then I replaced the other door knob, and breathed a huge sigh of relief (my boots and house shoes were beside the front door, and I really didn't want to travel around the house in the snow and ice with only one pair of woolen socks on my feet).
  In horse racing, Corey Nakatani took a bad fall yesterday and is not riding today. No breaks, concussion, or contusions, but the horse he was riding fell over another mare that had broken down directly in front of them. Corey has a very sore body, but hopes to work the soreness out today and be back in the saddle tomorrow. .... Lord Avie, the oldest Eclipse award winner, passed away at the age of 34 in his paddock a few days ago. He won the Eclipse as the best 2-year-old in 1980. He tore a suspensory ligament before the '81 Triple Crown races, and missed them. He returned to the races in late summer and won a couple before re-injuring the ligament, and being retired to stud.
  The Broncos won handily yesterday, and have a first week bye in the Divisional playoffs. ... Coach Ryan of the New York Jets allowed Tim Tebow to touch the ball one time during the Jets last game of the season - and it was a simple hand-off. The Jets team, as a whole. disgusted me this season: why did they sign Tim Tebow to a nice contract, say they would tailor special play packages to use his strengths, and then keep him on his butt all season? Did they put him under contract so they would not have to play against him? I really don't understand the workings of their brains. It's very plain that Coach Ryan doesn't want Tebow to touch the ball - why not? I am just frustrated by this turn of events, and I can only imagine how Tebow must feel. ... It was great to see the Redskins defeat the Cowboys last night, also. Go, RGIII! Go, Morris! What a tremendous pairing of rookies! Good for Mike Shanahan! .... Tomorrow afternoon (after the Rose Parade) I get to see the South Carolina Gamecocks play; then Wednesday night it's time for the Gators to do their thing! .... Nice endings for most of the teams I cheer for.
  Since this is New Year's Eve, please do not drink and drive. Have and use a designated, non-imbibing driver. If you don't have enough respect for your own life, that's too bad - think of all the other folks out on the road and being careful tonight. Don't spoil the beginning of a nice New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

George Bent & Sand Creek Massacre

Painting on buffalo skin of Sand Creek Massacre; Chief Black Kettle is shown under the US flag and a white flag indicating peacefulness. 
George Bent working as an interpreter at a Cheyenne trial before US magistrates. George is the tall man in the back row.   Indentities: Front row, left to right: Old Crow´s son, Wild Hog´s daughter. Second row, sitting: Porcupine, Old Crow´s wife, Old Crow, Wild Hog. Back row, standing: Old Crow´s daughter, Noisy Walker, Strong Left Hand, George Bent, Blacksmith, Tangle Hair, Wild Dog´s daughter.
The first part of George Bent's obituary

Sand Creek Massacre Revisited

The cold has settled in for awhile, apparently.  I have much more congestion, fever and chills, a headache and I feel like I've been run over by a truck - just squashed flat and with absolutely no energy.  Rosie and Remy slept much better than I did last night.  At least I stayed at home yesterday and did not go to Niwot and infect the extended family...  It was 12 degrees this morning - supposed to stay clear and get up to freezing before noon, with clouds coming in and causing the temperature at the beginning of the Broncos game to be in the upper 20s (then the sun goes down behind the Rockies, and everyone will turn into icicles).       I am still with Rosie and Remy so far this morning - I'll go home and watch most of the Jets game with Lovey and Nedi, and return here for the rest of the day (and the Broncos game, followed by the Redskins game).
  I was a little miffed yesterday that the History page listed the anniversary of  "the Battle of Wounded Knee" in 1890.  Battle?  It was a massacre performed by the US Army; there was no battle! Then in today's Denver Post, there was an article about the descendants of the survivors of the Sand Creek Massacre (here in Colorado, at dawn of the 29th of November 1864) still trying to collect the land and monies promised in a treaty in 1867.  A mixed village of Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes were camped along the dry bottom of Sand Creek - the able-bodied men (or warriors, if you wish) were out hunting buffalo, antelope, deer for the community cook pots.  Colonel Chivington of Denver led  several hundred men in attack at dawn.  The chiefs of these tribes were known to be friendly; the Natives were flying an American flag and a white flag (to show they were peaceful) when Chivington ordered his men to attack. One hundred and sixty two people were killed on the spot - all children, women, and elderly men.  Some white traders were visiting the camp; they, too, were killed; Chief Niwot (or Left Hand) was killed.  There were a little over 20 survivors, who buried themselves in the sand of the dry creek, or who managed to bury back into two caves.  After the Indians were killed, atrocities were committed upon their bodies; both male and female genitalia were cut from bodies and taken by  the Army men as "battle trophies."  A pregnant woman was shot in the shoulder, and her abdomen and womb were ripped open by knives, and the child crushed against a rock.  When the US Army conducted their military hearing about Sand Creek, Chivington had retired, and faced zero charges and paid no penalties.  The other, still-enlisted, men received a dishonorable discharge; but that was the limit of their punishment. -  This is the kind of horrific treatment that seems to be the basis for today's mass killings - "Hey! - It's fun! I'm gonna go kill a bunch of people!"
  A young man, recently returned from the Civil War, whose father was a trader and whose mother was a Cheyenne, witnessed the attack.  Having no weapons, and seeing others being shot and killed without mercy, he managed to hide in a cave.  This young man had been raised as a Cheyenne, in a tribal camp until the age of 7; then he was sent to a white school in St. Louis, Missouri, to learn the ways of his father and other white men. After the Sand Creek Massacre, this young man joined a band of renegade Cheyenne braves, and they pillaged and killed any white settlements or settlers they came across in Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska.  Several years later, the man decided to be an emissary for the local Native Americans - he did his best to record all of the "old ways" so that future generations would not forget an already disappearing way of life.  He encouraged writers and photographers to visit and document the ways of the Native Americans of many tribes, and he, himself, wrote his own story.  He regretted much - but what hurt him most was that he was forever branded a "half breed"; after the Sand Creek Massacre and his year with the rampaging braves, the white people didn't trust him.  Because he was half white, and became an interpreter for the US Government, the native tribesmen did not trust him.  He was truly a man between two peoples, and I wish I could have known him.  His name was George Bent, and his father and uncle established Bent's Fort in Colorado in the early 1830s.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Cattle and geographic art in Germany
Sheep in Norway
A storm over the Plains
The harbor entrance at Lindau, Germany
Sunset on the coast

Another Cold Cloudy Day

Woke to to see a temperature of 1 degree outside the kitchen window this morning. It's slightly chilly out. I've fed and walked Rosie and Remy, and called in one of their twice-daily well-being reports. At home at the moment - it's now 15 degrees outside, the sun is shining, and we hope to hit 35. The patio door is open about 6 inches, as Lovey and Nedi are running in and out - Nedi is teasing the raven family and they are being raucous. Lovey runs outside and then down the edges of every one's patio, avoiding the edges of the snow that is still 4 inches thick on the ground...  Rats.  The sun just went behind a bank of clouds.
  I'm not quite sure how I feel today - my throat is more sore today than yesterday, I keep coughing and having to clear my throat, my nose is running, and I have a low-grade fever. I guess I have a cold. The question is: Do I go to the family gathering and possibly contaminate everyone, or do I stay at home (actually at Rosie and Remy's) and send my stuff over with Kathy and Jim? I'll see how I feel at 11 a.m., and then decide. The gathering is scheduled to start around 2 this afternoon in Dave and Tracey's home in Niwot. Then, if Grandma Anne feels like it, we are supposed to go see The Hobbit at 7 tonight. As I said, I'll have to evaluate how I feel before noon, and make my decision. Right now, I'd say "No."
  Well, Tim Tebow got slapped in the face by Coach Ryan of the NY Jets yet again. McElroy, the third string quarterback who was chosen before Tebow (number two) to start last weeks game, has a concussion, that he has been hiding from the coaching, training and medical staff, even though other team members knew about it. Since McElroy is still having symptoms of the concussion, Ryan has decided to go back to Mark Sanchez, again totally skipping over Tebow. Ryan says his reason is that Sanchez has more experience - yeah, he does. He has the highest rate of losing fumbles in the entire league, and has the lowest passing rate, behind Tebow. The reason Tebow has such a crappy record is because he has only been allowed 40 touches as quarterback this season, most of them hand-offs or runs; and, yes, most of his passes have not been caught. But he hasn't been given a chance to actually play the game - he's been put in for one play, at most two in a row, and then pulled out. As any athlete knows, it's impossible to warm up, get in the groove and do well in any sport, if you're only "playing" every 10 to 20 minutes for a few seconds.
  Enough of my carping. I am now looking forward to seeing the Outback Bowl on January 1, in hopes of seeing the Gamecocks beat Michigan; and then the Sugar Bowl on the 2nd, where I hope the Gators defeat the Louisville Cardinals. And, of course, the Broncos play tomorrow...

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Warmer Day

We actually hit freezing today; it's the warmest we've been all week.  I've taken care of Tugger and Sasquatch, visited my kits, and had a late lunch with Bea today.  Rosie, Remy and I slept downstairs last night, with me hoping that would give Remy some relief from going upstairs to sleep.  He slept at my feet, but he kept waking me up and trying to get me to go upstairs.  We'll try sleeping upstairs tonight, and see what happens.
  I shoveled a drifting of snow off the sidewalks here and at Tugger and Sasquatch's house this morning.  Since it was 15 degrees out, I had my long johns on, plus jeans, a long sleeved shirt, two pairs of wool socks (and my snow boots), my quilted coat, hat, scarf and mittens - twenty minutes after I finished, I had a sore throat.  Did I over-dress?  Has my chronic bronchitis decided to flare up?  At least I haven't had an asthma attack recently...  I'm just bummed because I felt so great this morning, and now feel awfully puny - and tomorrow is the day the family is gathering to celebrate Christmas.  I don't want to be ill.  I don't like to be ill.  I had chicken and fettucine Alfredo for lunch, and I hope that chicken noodle soup tonight and tomorrow for breakfast will make me feel better.
  Yea!  It's the week end!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

English Country Scenes

Old wall in England
Derbyshire pastures
Kenilworth Castle
"The promise"
Sunset in the Lake Country

Another Icy Day

It's 15 degrees out, and I can see snow falling in the mountains to the west. I've taken care of Sasquatch and Tugger, and have taken Rosie and Remy out for a short walk. Remy slipped and slid a lot, so the walk was only about a block long - but they got harnessed up and went out, and seemed content. My friend Bea and I are going out to have lunch tomorrow afternoon, before she has to go in and work. I'm trying to decide what I want for lunch and supper, plus whether I want to take meatballs with dipping sauce to the finger food get-together instead of the fruit tray... I'll have to cogitate on it awhile. I spoke with my good friend, Mary, in Florida last night. We caught up on the small incidents of life, but had the best time discussing old movies and TV westerns, and their stars. It was a soothing talk. I enjoyed it tremendously.
  Nedi and Lovey are miffed because it's still so cold out and the snow hasn't melted at all since it fell. They are getting a wild case of cabin fever and keep chasing each other all over the place, plus making sneak attacks on each other. That's the only problem with this apartment - the kits don't have room enough to really run. At least snow isn't on the ground most of the time, so they can stretch their legs out in the back yard. They are wonderful kits and so full of love.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Beautiful Landscapes

Japanese Maple
Northern Iraq

Short and Sweet

A late blog, and a short one, but here it is... Cold, so nastily cold today. At least I didn't have to walk to Redwood Avenue and back today, like I did yesterday. I move in with Rosie and Remy in the morning, and the temperature is supposed to stay below freezing tomorrow. I'll still be caring for Sasquatch and Tugger , but they are only a block away. I'll miss snuggling with my kits, though. Plenty to read and plenty of research still to do, keeping me busy. Saturday we hope to go see The Hobbit with Grandma Anne before heading to Tracey and Dave's house for the family Christmas gathering... I'm baking brownies and taking another fruit tray...

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Santa Claus


Beautiful Country Scenes


Merry Christmas!

   Merry Christmas! - God Jul! - Feliz Navidad!
It's 7 degrees outside, humidity is at 86%, and there's about four inches of snow on the ground. It started to snow about 6 last night - if you were looking west, toward the mountains, you could see the snow, looking like mist, begin up on the mountain tops, and slowly creep down to the level of Boulder. It was beautiful. Other than my three trips over to spend time with, and feed and medicate, Sasquatch and Tugger, I plan on being home with Lovey and Nedi. I had thought I'd have a car to use, but they left me the stick shift, which I can't drive... So I'm travelling by bus and foot today and tomorrow. At least I'll have the Audi beginning Thursday (an 8 minute drive is preferable to a 45 to 90 minute bus ride, with connections and walks at both ends, when it's this chilly outside).
  I hope this day brings you laughter and love, the companionship of family members and others that you hold dear, and the feelings of peace and tranquility when you can finally collapse in your bed at the end of the day. I wish you the best of everything in life today and always!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Tomten Illustrations

A tomte and his Jul Bok bringing Christmas presents
A tomte sharing his Julegrot (porridge) in the barn
A tomte and the barn cat after sharing porridge
Sharing porridge with "der fuchs"

Wishing You Tomten

Being a quarter Swedish, and an eighth Danish, I wish you and yours an active hustomte. What is that, you ask?  A hustomte is attached pretty much to your dwelling. A tomte, nisse or tomtenisse is a humanoid mythical creature of Scandinavian folklore. The tomte or nisse was believed to take care of a farmer's home and children and protect them from misfortune, in particular at night, when the housefolk were asleep. The Swedish name tomte is derived from a place of residence and area of influence: the house lot or tomt. Other names are tuftekall, tomtegubbe or haugebonde ("mound farmer"), all names connecting the being to the origins of the farm (the building ground), or a burial mound. Those names are remembrances of the being's origins in an ancestral cult.
  The tomte/nisse was often imagined as a small, elderly man (size varies from a few inches to about half the height of an adult man), often with a full beard; dressed in the everyday clothing of a farmer. However, there are also folktales where he is believed to be a shapeshifter able to take a shape far larger than an adult man, and other tales where the tomte/nisse is believed to have a single, cyclopean eye. In modern Denmark, nisses are often seen as beardless, wearing grey and red woolens with a red cap. Since nisses are thought to be skilled in illusions and sometimes able to make themselves invisible, one was unlikely to get more than brief glimpses of him no matter what he looked like. Norwegian folklore states that he has four fingers, and sometimes with pointed ears. His eyes glow in the dark.
  Despite his smallness, the tomte/nisse possessed an immense strength. Even though he was protective and caring he was easy to offend, and his retributions ranged from small pranks like a stout box on the ears to a more sociopathical punishment like killing off the livestock or ruining of the farm's fortune. The tomte/nisse was a traditionalist who did not like changes in the way things were done at the farm. Another easy way to offend him was rudeness: farm workers swearing, urinating in the barns, or not treating the creatures well would be soundly thrashed. If anyone spilled something on the floor in the house it was wise to shout a warning to the tomte below. An angry tomte is featured in the popular children's book by Swedish author Selma Lagerlof, Nils Holgersson's Wonderful Journey Through Sweden. The tomte turns the naughty boy Nils into a tomte in the beginning of the book, and Nils then travels across Sweden on the back of a goose.
  One was also required to please the spirit with gifts – a particular gift was a bowl of porridge on Christmas night. If the tomte was not given his payment, he would leave the farm or house, or engage in mischief such as tying the cows' tails together in the barn, turning objects upside-down, and breaking things (like a troll). The tomte liked his porridge with a pat of butter on the top. In an often retold story, a farmer put the butter underneath the porridge. When the tomte of his farmstead found that the butter was missing, he was filled with rage and killed the cow resting in the barn. But, as he thus became hungry, he went back to his porridge and ate it, and so found the butter at the bottom of the bowl. Full of grief, he then hurried to search the lands to find another farmer with an identical cow, and replaced the former with the latter.
  In another tale a Norwegian maid decided to eat the porridge herself, and ended up severely beaten by the nisse. The being swore: "Have you eaten the porridge for the tomte, you have to dance with him!". The farmer found her nearly lifeless the morning after.
  The tomte is connected to farm animals in general, but his most treasured animal was the horse. Belief had it that one could see which horse was the tomte's favourite as it would be especially healthy and well taken care of. Sometimes the tomte would even braid its hair and tail. (These tomte braids were in fact most likely caused by insufficient brushing.) Sometimes actually undoing these braids could mean misfortune or angering the tomte.
 ** Don't forget to put out a bowl of porridge with a pat of butter on the top for your tomte on Christmas night!**

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Old Christmas Cards & an Old Toy


Two Days Before Christmas...

I had a wonderful time last night - we (my sister, brother-in-law, and me) went to The Cheesecake Factory for supper; then around the corner and two doors down to the Boulder Theater. This is the third or fourth year in a row that we have attended the Rocky Mountain Revels (this was their twelfth year) for their Christmas Revels show. In the past, we saw an Edwardian Christmas in northern England and a Renaissance Christmas in Italy; this year it was an Appalachian Christmas from around 1850. As always, the music was fantastic, the singing was magnificent, and the dancing this year was absolutely stupendous! We had a magical time, and Jim was taken into the beginning of the dance line for the beginning of the Intermission, when everyone in the building was singing "The King of the Dance." Jim looked quite handsome, with his Santa hat, sparkling blue eyes and white beard and mustache; he was also wearing a green chamois shirt over a scarlet turtleneck, and slate grey trousers (with Crocs). Kathy and I declined to join in the dance line, but we sang heartily while the lines wound around and up and down through the theater. The usual spokesman was away on business, so Kathy and Jim's lawyer was the Master of Ceremonies - and I was very happy when the usual man stopped by and spoke with us at Intermission; he had just returned from Germany. After the show was over - it was the last presentation for this year - the participants came out, still in costume, and chatted with the crowd. It was grand. And I had a very good time.
  We're in the upper 40s already this morning, the sun is shining and I have the patio door open. Lovey is being regal in the reading chair, while Nedi is outside chasing squirrels and ravens. Nedi really wanted out when I returned home last night, so I opened the door and let him go. I have no idea where he went, but he didn't return for 45 minutes, and I couldn't find him in the back yard. I guess he decided to drop in on a party that I wasn't invited to. Lovey stepped out once, and then wanted me to go to bed with her. Three football games that I'd like to see start at 11 this morning - I guess I'll be playing clicker tag with three channels; then the Broncos play at 2:05 this afternoon. It should be a good game.
  The weather folks are now saying that we'll get snow Christmas Eve and early Christmas morning; two to four inches in Boulder. I start caring for Sasquatch and Tugger during the afternoon of Christmas Eve. 'Twill be interesting to see how much snow actually arrives and when... the NWS hasn't been very accurate for Boulder recently. On the 27th, I move in with Rosie and Remy and stay with them for ten days. On the 29th, we'll have the Snow family get-together in Niwot, at Tracey and Dave's home. And I've been told that Grandma Anne will attend. That will be my most powerful reason for going - to spend time with a lady in her 80s. Anne Snow is a true treasure for the entire family. I am so very happy to have the pleasure of knowing her.
  I hope this holiday season is full of peace, love, happiness and tranquility for you and your family.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Birds and Countrysides

A country track in England
Countryside in Sweden
A South African weaver bird
A snowy owl in Germany
The Currituck Lighthouse in North Carolina

Bits and Pieces

Just a bunch of odds and ends today. It's in the mid-30s here and the sun is shining. The kits have been running in and out for the past 90 minutes, but since Lovey is back in bed and Nedi is in the cat tree, I shut the door. I have placed nuts and shredded wheat out for the squirrels and birds, and have already been treated to a squirrel underside, as it ran sideways across the window screen... My brother-in-law called yesterday evening and said we'll be going to the 7 p.m. show of the Rocky Mountain Revels, and that Kathy will call and let me know when and where I need to arrive.
  Rumors in the thoroughbred racing world had Gary Stevens returning to the irons after seven years of retirement. It's not true. (Rats!) Gary has been getting back in shape exercising horses at a friends' training farm in Washington state, and is back down to 122 pounds. Turning 50 on March 6, he said he'll be behind the microphone and not on the back of a horse this coming year. .... Retired trainer Mel Stute, now 85, is still hospitalized after a fall in his home earlier this month. His son, trainer Gary Stute, says they hope Mel will be released from the assisted living facility soon after Christmas. Mel can't tell them what day of the week it is, but he can tell them where there's live racing, and who the top trainers are. (Why should a horseman/trainer know what day it is, unless he has a horse running?) .... Danedream, who won the 2011 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, is now retired. The 4-year-old German-bred filly who missed this year's Arc because of a swamp fever outbreak at her Cologne training base, is scheduled to ship to England in January to be bred to Frankel, who is entering stud at Banstead Manor. Once in foal, Danedream is scheduled to be shipped to Japan.
  I am still in shock over the stance the NRA (National Rifle Association) has taken regarding the deaths of the innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary School a week ago. I agree that our society seems to delight in violence, and that when more blasting gun-battles and tremendous explosions are included, today's movies seem to make more money. I have had training in the use of fire arms, both the pistol and the rifle. I do not own a gun. I do not want to own a gun. I believe in the Second Amendment right, that people in our nation have the right to bear arms - for hunting, for sport and marksmanship, and for self-defense. I do not believe that the answer to the mass shooting at an elementary school is to have a trained, armed sharpshooting security guard in every single school in this country. A single armed person cannot protect the perimeter of an entire school. It's ludicrous. I support the banning of semi-automatic and automatic weapons, the limiting of ammunition sales, and reducing clip size. There have always been discontented people, people with mental illness, people with a grudge, and there always will be (unfortunately). We need to regulate the machines that make it easy to kill others; not set up more armed humans within the educational system. Last Friday, and all the other days we have had violence perpetrated upon innocent children and innocent adults, should be erased from history. Remember the dead, not the killer. This is a very sad time in history.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Wildlife

Big horn sheep in the Rocky Mountains
A bison in Yellowstone National Park
Red fox in Colorado
Mountain hare in Scotland
Red stag in the UK
Wolf in Wyoming