Posts Tagged With: challenge


This morning I looked for items the family left behind after a full weekend of Easter fun. Ken left his tennis shoes. Doug left a Care Package of chicken alfredo he wanted to take home. And Virginia left her shopping bags that she had previously left in my car when I returned to Murphys weeks ago.

The kids colored a glob of eggs. Ken colored one egg with a rock band symbol and told the boys aged 10 and 13 whoever found that egg on Easter morning and could name the band, he would pay $5. The boys got on the internet, figured out the band, Blue Oyster Cult and conspired among themselves that they’d share the 5 bucks and that way, no matter who found the egg, they’d both be winners. Smart kids.

Even though they are too old for the bunny, the fun is in the egg hunt. With 23 hidden eggs, it took them two hours to find them. The hardest was finding a purple egg hidden among the bouquet of lilacs, invisible among the flowers. And, one brownish egg hidden in the woodpile next to the stove. And, we who hide the eggs take pleasure in providing a challenge. I took great pictures.

Cedric loves to bake and he made a wonderful woven Easter bread. We all enjoyed card games, the food and sweets. Ken and Virginia are training for a 65 mile ride, so they got out twice on the bikes. Easter morning they road 45 miles with hills before the rain set in. Ah, well, we have to count our blessings. We had good weather between storms. The lightening show was fantastic. We skyped family members who couldn’t come.

But, getting pictures up in my blog is a challenge that get’s worse with everything I try. Maybe next week.




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Aptly named Cliff Palace, this cliff dwelling is the largest in the United States and is the one most often seen in magazines and tourist brochures about ancient ruins.

It is the only major cliff dwelling in the park that can be seen from an overlook.  I was disappointed in my pictures of the Weatherhill Long House, but here you can see the dwellings from a distance and get an  idea of what the whole settlement looks like in two photos.

The tour starts on the left and moves off to the right.

A tighter shot also taken from the overlook. Notice the tower in this photo and a comparison of what the site looked like when it was first photographed by a  Swedish Scholar, Gustaf Nordenskiold, in 1891. He was the first to scientifically study the site though it was officially “discovered” by Weatherhill,  local ranchers and curiosity seekers knew of its existence.

Quite a difference. Much debris from many years of neglect, but hey, the 1100’s was a long time ago. From the overlook,  our group proceeded down into the canyon.

Jim is moving a bit slowly. He was in pain this morning from overdoing a things a bit yesterday, despite the meds.

Then up this small ladder and you are at the beginning of the tour.

Because the ancient Anasazi (the preferred word is now Puebloans)  seemed to have abruptly vanished, Bill Slaughter, our guide,  posed  some  questions to think about as we viewed the site:   Who are the ancient Puebloans?  Where did they go? What made them leave?

There is much scientific study about the ancient Puebloans.  They speculate that because there are so many kivas at this site, those who decided to leave their nomadic way of life as hunters and gatherers and build cliff dwellings, supported a greater community of Puebloans in the surrounding Mesa Verde area. I believe he said the palace has 11 kivas.  From local Native Americans who still use kivas for political and ritual uses, scientists speculate that the same was true of the ancients.

Other kivas we’ve seen could only be entered by a ladder through the roof. This advance in building skills allows the person to walk into the kiva through a “keyhole” entrance.

A three-story “apartment” house, and other buildings on site are so straight, scientists speculate they may have used a plumb bob to align their  buildings.  Small rocks with a hole drilled through them were found on site that could have served that purpose.

A crevice above the dwellings was used to store corn and beans to keep it from rodents and birds and weather.

The Puebloans built round as well as square buildings with great skill. Sandstone is a good, long-lasting building material when not subject to harsh storms. They could hand chisel rocks to fit. It had to be  a major decision to give up their nomadic lifestyle and hunker into the cliff sides and build such protected houses. Most likely, for some protection from conflicts. There were probably 30 to 50 thousand Puebloans in the area.  And while there is no sign of conflicts in the cliff dwellings,  conflicts arouse over a diminishing source of food and game and other resources like wood in the greater area below the mesa in what is now Cortez and surrounding areas.

Examinations of bodies show a people somewhat protein deficient.  All of the big animal bones were gone from the upper layers of the middens, no deer, elk or sheep bones. The Puebloans were living on small game, like rabbits and turkeys.

The cliff location provided protection and water. They dry farmed and depended on winter snow melt and summer rains to grow their corn. A 23 year drought may have driven them to take up their nomadic lifestyle once again.  They didn’t just disappear,they moved.

There is plenty of evidence linking the ancients to the local Ute and Hopi tribes.  This is their ancestral lands. Even some DNA evidence.

The climb out of the canyon is steep and about 180 feet up.

I thoroughly enjoyed the rock climbing aspects of squeezing through tight spots and between gigantic boulders, but Jim was getting a workout he didn’t need at that point.

We, at least, had steps and handrails. The ancients made it up the cliffs barefoot. Their hand and toe holds could be seen carved into the rock at this spot.


The final three ladders are bolted into the cliff.  If you go, the rangers give you excellent information about how strenuous each tour is. I didn’t find this a strenuous trip, despite the altitude of 7,500 feet. It is possible to do two tours, or even the three major dwellings in one day. The most challenging is Balcony House.  Since Jim was in no shape to attempt a second tour we skipped it, but I told him he’d have to drag me back here to take it another year.

There is much more to do here if you can hike two to five miles.  And there are longer hikes to see hidden dwellings and petroglyphs described by yesterday’s, guide, Pam Slaughter, as “very beautiful.”  The museum is excellent. Don’t miss the 25 minute film.  We drove the loop and looked at views of lesser dwellings on the way back to camp.  Then we enjoyed watching the deer eat while we enjoyed our own supper.

I always take way to many photos, but if you’d like to see my album, click on the link:

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Everyone speaks well of the Boy Scouts.  One in four boys  joins the Boy Scouts. Of every hundred who join, thirty drop out. But even those who drop out claim they learn something enjoyable or valuable from scouts.

Only four percent of scouts per year go on to attain the highest ranking in scouting,  Eagle Scout. I am proud to present my grandson, as one of those honored few.

An Eagle Scout must earn 21 meritorious service badges to attain Eagle ranking. The skills are demanding, and challenging.

An Eagle earns badges from a surprising array of  personal services such as Orienteering, Camping, Lifesaving, Swimming, Public  Speaking, Canoeing, Swimming, Environmental Studies, Art, Emergency Preparedness, Soil and Water Conservation, Community, National and World Citizenship.  He pledges to conduct himself  with honesty, clean living, useful citizenship and honest work.

Scouting is changing, the challenges are different, but the total development from boyhood to manhood depends
upon physical, mental, and moral growth expressed in the Scout Oath.  Add to that the many activities and interests clamoring for young people’s attention, computers, gaming,  the demands of school and sports, band and music, discovering girls and driving. Preparing for college and jobs. It isn’t surprising that so many drop out and so few tread the road to complete the course from Cub Scout to Eagle. The Eagle Scout badge stands for strength of character. The Eagle Scout badge is a symbol of what a boy has done, but, more important, it represents what the boy
will be in the future as he grows to manhood.

An Eagle Scout is a marked man, he has earned the right to call himself a quality citizen. He pledges not to exploit his fellow man, but dedicate his skills and abilities to the common good. I can’t say strongly enough how proud our collective family is of this young man. And, he has stellar company among some famous Eagles Scouts:

Thirty-three astronauts, President Gerald Ford, Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, Pulitzer Prize winning authors, Wallace Stegner and Harrison Salisberg. Five members of the House of Representatives, Three Senators, Two Governors. Journalist Walter Cronkite, film maker Steven Spielberg, Generals, Heroic Soldiers, Great Sportsmen…the list goes on and on. Scouting gives us faith in the future of this country.


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Opening the mail these days, I find more advertising than personal news. But, then, surprise! My adopted daughter, Karen, was published in Quilters Newsletter, a magazine I wrote a beginning writers piece for in 1976.  It didn’t pay much, in fact, it may have paid nothing, but the thrill was indescribable.

Here is Karen’s story that she sent me:

My husband retired from the U.S. Air Force in 2001 after serving for 20 years. To show my appreciation, I decided I would make him a quilted wavy U.S. flag wall hanging. I decided to use curved piecing to make it. He was thrilled with this idea. We went to my fabric stash to pick out the fabric. I cut out all the curved pieces using one template shape. Then the challenge began.

I tried to sew them together on the sewing machine and got so frustrated I gave up. I told him I was sorry; I tried but it was way too difficult for me. Years went by and as I made other quilts he would ask, “What about my flag quilt?” I’ve never been one to give up easily, so I thought, let me try one more time.

Guess what? I did it! I was so proud to have challenged myself, I decided to enter the quilt in the local county fair without him knowing. I talked him into going to the fair to see how my other quilts did. When he saw a red, white and blue quilt, he asked, “Isn’t that like the quilt you’re supposed to make for me?” When he saw the name and quilt label, he turned to me and gave me the happiest smile and biggest hug. I told him it didn’t win a ribbon. He said, “It won Best of Show to me!”  I’ll never forget the look of excitement on his face.Please challenge yourself and be patient. Just think, eight years later, you too can have a finished quilt for someone you love.

Karen is a great quilt artist. She’s a multitasker with, home and family, work, pets and many challenging projects.  She is proud of her quilt, but I’m proudest of all to be surprised by her accomplishments via a prestigious National Magazine. What a thrill!   Smooch!


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Coffee proved to be the most important element of the morning on Sunday for most. No formal, fancy, magazine breakfast for this reunion. People wandered in at various times, and chose their eats. Leftovers, as in chili dogs for some; cookies and or blackberry apple pie for others;  Boston cream pie or jalapeno kettle chips with dip.  Someone had macaroni salad. More conventional choices, mostly the kids, chose cereal, apricots and bananas, cherries, toast and peanut butter.  But who cares?

Dainty Abbie got dressed in her Sunday best-for awhile.

And Chrissy, who wants to grow up to be a princess, got her nails lacquered with color and glitter.

Tom spent the night fully clothed on the trampoline and claimed it made a comfortable bed. But, he was glad to have his electric “fly swatter”. The mosquitoes drove him in for an early breakfast. The kids thought the swatter was really cool and borrowed it for hunting expeditions at various times of the day.

Someone thought we should have the “facial hair” photo, missing  Jose who left early.

Why not a group picture of the kids?

Of course they thought it was the best time to be their silliest.

Well, it is their fun memory photo. And, we know what they really look like.

At the flume, yet another partial group photo. Left to right, Daniel, Bev, Abby,Mary, Virginia, Chrissy,Kristanne, Richard, Cathy, Austin and Marty.

Susie and Sutter.

Marty and Theo.

Marty entrusted his cigarettes to Virginia wearing a top. She got dunked.

Ted and Tyler.

After awhile, floating isn’t exciting enough. Time to try jumping off the bridge on an over-hanging tree limb.

The next challenge is to see how long you can remain standing on the stationary tube in the swift current.

Grandma Eunice came up for the day from Stockton and enjoyed watching everyone play in the flume while visiting  with daughter Cathy.

More tomorrow.

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