Final stretch of summer and school is FINALLY in session!!

Well folks, it is the final stretch of summer. Are you asking yourself, where did summer go? It is mind boggling that in only a few days, autumn will officially arrive. Here in Denver we continue to have 80 and 90+ degree days so summer seems to be everlasting! Last Monday Steve and I drove up to Silverthorne for a 5.5 mile hike in the mountains. The aspen trees were about 30% changed to their brilliant gold attire. It is amazing how the aspen leaves seem to dance in the breeze at a quick tempo. The skies were brilliant blue and very few puffy white clouds coasted along, slipping over the mountain tops and casting their moving shadows across the landscape. However, the uncomfortable crunch of the pine needles and brown vegetation under foot were “sound” evidence of the very dry season that Colorado has experienced. Wildfires have destroyed homes and thousands of acres of trees and vegetation along the front range in the Boulder and Loveland area. Warnings are out that it only takes a spark to make a very dangerous wildfire. So, while we enjoy the ample sunshine here in Denver and Colorado, we absolutely pine for some gray, cloudy days and much needed rain. Since we arrived at Steve’s Mom’s on July 22, we have experienced only two rain showers, each as downpours lasting only 10 minutes. Those are the type of rains which seem to just flow off of the arid ground and into the creeks and gutters for flash floods.

The big news flash for the week: Classes began this past week for us. Steve only has two classes for a total of 8 credits: one on Negotiations and one on Conflict Resolution. To date he has purchased 12 books for the two classes plus just ordered 3 more through Amazon. Some people react to Steve only having two courses, but he has an immense amount of reading to accomplish, papers to write (after a 32 year absence from academia), and events through his department that he is highly encouraged to attend. He’s also going to meet with a non-profit organization specializing in Conflict Resolution this week to see if there are some volunteer opportunities with them. After many years of a more typical 9-5 job routine and a wonderful span of time to enjoy life this summer, he is trying to build a new structure around his life as a student. Fortunately the campus library is just a 15 minute walk from home, so it is easy for him to schedule study time in a quiet environment. The university offers a Writing Clinic, which he will be utilizing as part of his initial paper-writing.

I enjoyed my first class of Spanish on Thursday. While it is considered a Beginning Spanish class, I am grateful for having high school Spanish as a base (even if it was umpteen years/decades ago), for there was very little time given to pronunciation of vowels and other key pronunciations on Thursday evening. As the pace is set to pick up over the next few weeks, I feel grateful for having access to an on-line enrichment program through my curriculum where I can practice Spanish dialogue.

This past week I was invited to be a guest at a meeting related to educational reform in Colorado, but specifically initiatives to increase parental involvement in the schools as a critical component to a student’s academic success. At the very least, it gave me a glimpse into the reform that is occurring in Colorado and the commitment that so many organizations in Colorado have to providing good education in this era of educational reform across the U.S.  Our friend who helped connect me to this group of people also put me in touch with the Denver Road’s Home, an organization that is trying to end homelessness in Denver over a 10 year period. I’ve jumped at an opportunity to volunteer one day in Denver for Project Homelessness Connect 10. This will be a day when homeless individuals and families converge on Metro College of Denver. With the assistance of 1,000 volunteers, they will have “one-stop-services” including medical care, food stamp applications, legal aid, job counseling, connections for housing, assistance with documents, etc. Steve hopes to volunteer with me that day too. I miss volunteering, so at least this will get my feet wet!

Through the church that we’ve been attending, (Cameron United Methodist), several thoughtful people have provided resources for me in a job hunt or volunteerism search. Steve and I also attended a campus fair for graduate students, where various campus services had information booths set up. There is a Career Services Department, who will gladly assist me as a University College student. Guess my little course has some added bonuses as well.

Over this past week, Jeremy and Michelle’s friends, Alma and Yangling, came to Denver. We invited them and Steve’s Mom for dinner last Tuesday evening. Then on Wednesday Alma, Yangling, and I went to downtown Denver to be tourists together. Admittedly, I’ve only been as far as Union Station (light rail service ends/begins there), Coors Field (Rockies Baseball), and the Barth Hotel (for theatre productions). It was delightful to see a little more of Denver. We basically took the 16th Street Mall Free Shuttle, stopped where we wanted to get off along 16th Street, enjoyed some iced coffee at Starbucks, walked to the U.S. Mint only to find it was closed, and enjoyed a loving lunch at an Irish eatery where we sat in the shade outdoors and visited. When we felt like we experienced what we could for the day, we drove back towards our home and strolled around the beautiful flower gardens in Washington Park. Canine friend, Sugar, really enjoyed time at the park and scoping out the flowers, but seem to evade photo opportunities!

Last night our Denver-area friends (from Iowa State days), Denny and Bette, came to our place. Then we walked less than a mile to the Old South Pearl Street neighborhood for pizza. A walk back to our place and more conversation time,  made for a perfect evening.

Some people have asked about our transition. Yes, it continues. Now that Steve has finally begun school, we feel like our feet are perhaps planted in the next phase after taking two years to get here. Most importantly, we recognize that life is full of transitions for all of us. Right now as part of living in Denver, we are embracing this time as a genuine gift. It is time to search for opportunities to grow our minds, stretch out of our comfort zones, build upon connections we have or are making, quiet our souls so that we are open to God’s nudges, and continue downsizing our household (yes, even that must continue). The one Bible scripture that helped steady our course still is etched in our minds and on our hearts. Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,”  declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Summer….the days, weeks, and months filled with two moves, incredible travels, and a plethora of activity. Autumn…bursts of color, harvest festivals, an intense mid-term political season, and visits from family and friends.

May this find you all doing well and ready for autumn! Send us an email or call us with your updates as we LOVE them too.

Love & Blessings,

Diane (& Steve)

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