12mph America At The Speed Of Sanity

23Apr/110

April Showers bring….

May flowers....What do Mayflowers bring?.... Pilgrims! Sorry, I couldn't resist! It's April 23 and we're one month into spring! The grass is greening and a few grape hyacinths appeared around our metal mailbox post and by one downspout. Several tulips have leaves, but no blossoms. The cloudiest stretch of weather for us seemed to arrive this week. Even more welcomed were the sustained stretches of rain rather than cloudbursts.

We're at the end of the 5th week of the spring quarter, which means that the term is half-way over already. Steve's schedule seems to grow by the week, almost as quickly as the blossoms on the neighborhood crab-apple trees! This term he has Restorative Justice and Grant Writing classes as well as his Practicum and Practicum class. The newest addition has been an Internship...unpaid of course. He continues to volunteer at The Conflict Center, where he co-teaches Saturday sessions in a type of "anger management" for teens.

I have 5 weeks left of Spanish. Sadly the size of my class has dwindled to three, making it difficult to have a very dynamic, conversational setting. I have yet to decide as to whether I'll continue next year. Something I've never done before was attend a Career Fair, so indeed I went to my first one on Wednesday. I am blessed with several friends who keep passing along recommendations. We'll see where this goes!

On Monday I drove our ski rentals back to Winter Park Resort. We had a good deal for the season that we couldn't pass up since we no longer own skis. With our schedule, we knew that our skiing was done for the season. I thoroughly savored my solo drive with sunshine, blue skies, snow-covered slopes, and no radio reception. It made a peaceful drive. I actually couldn't resist adding a few extra miles, so I drove on north to the YMCA's Snow Mountain Ranch. Just last month we were snowshoeing there with Jeremy and Michelle. Now the Nordic Center is closed as the snow is melting and great swatches of grass are evident.

Jeremy and Michelle flew to Dublin, Ireland on Monday night. They spent several days touring highlights of Dublin and getting settled into the new time zone. Today they took a bus to Wicklow, where they'll at least spend the weekend. Sounds like hiking in the Wicklow Mountains will be in order for them. And so, their open-ended European trip begins. We've received numerous updates already via texting and facebook messages. It is quite impressive that within seconds we can be in touch some 5,000 miles away!

Last night Steve and I went to a lecture presenting Noam Chomsky. He gave us cause for pause when it comes to some of the dilemmas in foreign policy. It is amazing what we've enjoyed on campus this year: many lectures, documentary films, concerts, a Pioneer Hockey game, and other events. Having not lived here over the summer, we are not sure what to anticipate for campus activities.

As today is Good Friday, I walked to Observatory Park about 1.5 miles from our home to attend an ecumenical service based on the Stations of the Cross. With 250 people from several churches, it made for a meaningful observance. On Easter Steve and I will walk to church in time for a courtyard celebration. Following that time, we'll have breakfast to support the youth ministry. Then at 9:00 Steve's Mom will join us for worship. The three of us have reservations at the Pearl Street Grill, a neighborhood restaurant for lunch. We are so pleased that we can spend this Easter with Mom.

Stephanie and Shane will spend Easter together with most of his family in Effingham, Illinois. I'm sure that everyone will thoroughly enjoy Shane's little nephew and niece. For Steph, she'll also be meeting some of Shane's extended family for the first time. How I treasure looking back at those first introductions to Steve's family.

Safe travels to those of you traveling over the weekend. May you all have a blessed Easter!

Diane (& Steve)

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9Apr/110

Dry Spell

Yes, we've been in a dry spell! Denver has experienced one of the driest winters on record with only 2.28 inches of precipitation for January-March. Many Denverites told us stories of past March snowstorms with it typically the snowiest month. Sadly, we didn't experience it (unless it is delayed until sometime in April or May this year). Beginning in March, fire forecasts have been on the local news most nights with numerous wildfires having already been fought on the plains and in the foothills over the past few weeks. On April 2, we set a new record high of 84 degrees. Ferocious winds literally shook our small rental home last week, swirling dust through the alleyway behind us. We had a very dry reading of 7% relative humidity a week ago. Clementines, apples, and tomatoes shrivel if not eaten within a few days, so we now keep them in plastic bags to preserve the precious moisture. I can only imagine what is happening to our skin!! Perhaps Denver is a perfect market for plastic shrink wrap!!

The weather folks tell us that along the Front Range we've experienced a "snow shadow" affect this winter. This happens when the bulk of the snow falls in the mountains, leaving little to no precipitation to fall along the long stretch of Rockies where they meet the plains. After 32 years in the Chicago area with the "lake effect" snow, this is a much different scenario. Although we have no complaints about the record snowfalls in the mountains during our first full ski-season in Colorado. Breckenridge Ski Resort had 476" of snow so far this season, with Vail at 466", and Loveland at 452".

The Climate Prediction Center has classified Denver with "drought to persist or to intensify between April and June." For now, we'll enjoy the blooming trees and spring bulbs before the summer heat returns. Within a few weeks, our sprinkler system will resume per our owner's wishes so that we'll have a lush, green lawn because dormancy isn't an option.

The dry spell also hit the blog over the past 5 weeks, hence the long period again between posts. Although, we are happy to report that our son, Jeremy, and daughter-in-law, Michelle, spent a week with us over our spring break. Michelle had not been in the mountains during the winter, and it had been 11 years since we skied with Jeremy out here. As part of their time in Colorado, we had a delightful two-day and one-night getaway in the Rocky Mountains together. A stay at Hot Sulphur Springs turned into a winter wonderland with fresh falling snow while we soaked in the hot springs. Neither Jeremy nor Michelle had snowshoed before, so we rented snowshoes at the YMCA Snow Mountain Ranch in Fraser Valley for a 3.4 mile trek through the fresh powder. Incredible views with crystal blue skies, snow-flocked pine trees, and pencil-thin aspens provided for a lovely several hours in the snow.

Last weekend I spent 4 days in Illinois visiting Jeremy and Michelle as well as our daughter, Stephanie, and her fiance, Shane. Besides wonderful meals, book discussions, an Arboretum hike, shopping, and going to "The King's Speech", we also sat with the lights off one night to experience a good old-fashioned thunderstorm. The lightning flashed across the sky providing silhouettes of the leafless trees, the winds blew the distinct scent of the downpour through the window screens, and the pitter-patter sound of the rain seemed to dance as it hit the ground. All of this brought a flood of memories for us all as we reminisced about wonderful Midwestern thunderstorms.

Steve and I have finished the third week of the Spring 2011 term. Just as he did for his Fall 2010 term, Steve's Winter 2011 term was a great success. He continues to kick himself for not having returned to school earlier, so we know that he made the right decision. I have spent countless hours with my job search: sending out applications, attending interviews, participating in networking sessions, all to no avail. I have made the decision to take a break from job hunting to seek out meaningful volunteerism, which has always been an integral part of my life. I am in the third term of Spanish as well as in my 3rd week of a personal essay-memoir writing class. Both of these provide me with opportunities to meet new people and to continue honing my skills.

As new members of University Park United Methodist Church, we are seeking ways to get involved, but also not find ourselves overly committed. With classes, studying, and time to enjoy Steve's Mom in the area, we want to make sure we don't stretch ourselves too thin.

Hopefully the drought that I've experienced in keeping this blog updated will not persist and intensify like the predicted drought in Colorado. Until next time, make sure and enjoy a good thunderstorm if it comes your way!

Blessings,

Diane (and Steve)

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