Category Archives: family

Snow, rocks, and stories.

I’m still in Colorado, a little longer than planned, because of a change in my airline ticket; I decided to rebook with a different airline for my return trip, to reduce the risk of being affected by the recent spate of flight cancellations and chaos at airports. My new reservation is for a later date.

The family here is happy to have me a couple more days, and I’m quite content to be pampered by the family generally, to have extended cuddling, reading and game time, and two outings I’d otherwise have missed. Plus, we watched the TinTin movie together tonight. Laddie and I sat together scrunched into a recliner, with the kitten Clyde occasionally jumping on the back and trying to get us to play.

It was an action packed film, of the sword fighting, metal crashing and body-flinging sort, and little Clara worried at times for the safety of Snowy and TinTin especially, but she was too brave to want to leave and go to bed.

The three boys are very fond of their collection of TinTin books, and enjoyed seeing favorite characters and story elements recombined in the movie. Last week, shortly after Kate arrived here, I found her animatedly reading the Spanish version of this rare tale of Tin Tin en el Congo to Raj, found on the shelf here. I don’t think I’ve ever read an entire story of TinTin from beginning to end, but all my children became fond of them over the years, and we have become a multigenerational TinTin fan club.

Yesterday I went with Soldier and the boys on one of their favorite short hikes, to the Siamese Twins rocks up the mountains from Colorado Springs. The boys have favorite places to scramble there, and I found plants my Seek app was able to identify: Colorado Pinon, Utah Juniper, and Rocky Mountain Juniper.

Rocky Mountain Juniper

Soldier pointed out to me that you can see Pikes Peak through the gap between the Twins.

We woke this morning to a new, thick blanket of snow, much more than had fallen last week. I actually helped Joy and Liam to shovel the driveway clear, and then Soldier and I took a nice walk up the hill where the trees are tall and thick.

In the afternoon Joy and I took the boys to the neighborhood hill that is most famous for good sledding. Brodie and I made a snowman, and all the boys hiked up and sledded down the several runs for a couple of hours. It was fun to watch them from a place under pines where scattered slushy drops blew down from the trees on to my head. When the sun went down along with the temperature, we went home and ate popcorn.

Every day we spend hours reading aloud, and the boys all read to themselves, too. When Brodie unwrapped Old Yeller on Christmas morning he started in right away and hasn’t stopped. Liam received several volumes in the Redwall series which he is devouring.

This anthology of Christmas stories from Plough, Home for Christmas, has blessed us immensely. Last night while others were cooking dinner, I read “The Christmas Lie,” and could barely finish for choking up. Joy read “The Empty Cup” aloud at the breakfast table this morning; it is a story about a particular “Rachel weeping for her children” at the time of Christ; the Rachel in the story did find comfort. I have also read to the children “The Guest” and “The Chess Player,” both of which are stories of hearts changed by divine Love, so that they can enter into “the Spirit of Christmas.”

In the collection are selections from Henry Van Dyke, Elizabeth Goudge, Madeleine L’Engle, and Pearl S. Buck, in addition to many writers I was not familiar with before. I haven’t read half of them yet, but every one has pleased.

Likely this is my last post from Colorado, this year. By the time I get back to this site, it will be 2023. Dear Readers and Friends: Happy New Year!

In Colorado, the stars above my bed.

The most wintry Christmastime.

Last night, before the snow and piercing wind arrived, and after the children had gone to bed, the two men decided to take a walk, with the thermometer showing 3 degrees. They bundled up to the max, and set out with beers in hand, just for the fun of it. I turned in before they got back, but this morning they said it had been a fine outing.

I’ve arrived in Colorado at the home of my son “Soldier” and his family. Kate and her family are also here, which adds up to six grandchildren, four parents and one grandma. We knew it was going to get very cold, especially today, so we went on our outings the days before.

First a trip to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where before we took in a planetarium show, we looked at statues of historic airplanes, and one uncle set the older boys to racing.

In the evening yesterday we all went caroling in the neighborhood. The thermometer was dropping fast toward zero, so we started out at dusk and sang at several houses in the neighborhood, where at least two people came out and stood to listen to us, in spite of the frosty air. Joy had baked sugar cookies, springerle and gingerbread men, and we had an all-family session decorating the sugar cookies, which she added to boxes for certain neighbors.

Kate’s and Soldier’s families haven’t ever lived close enough to each other for the cousins to know each other. The four-, five- and six-year-olds have especially enjoyed each other. All the kids received matching pajamas at their first bedtime together, which provided a lot of fun. They were all happy!

This morning when I woke it was -16. I understand that the middle regions of the nation generally are experiencing similarly extreme weather; many of you have your own stories to tell. In the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains where we are, it’s fairly dry at 7,300 ft elevation, but more snow did fall and added to what was lingering.

It’s really fun to participate in all the lively activities that I didn’t have to plan or prepare for, and even just to watch the other groupings playing chess, making decorations, building with magnatiles, assembling a jigsaw puzzle or practicing their drawing skills together. Of course we have been doing a lot of reading aloud, and all the children watched “The Snowman” video with Grandma.

Decades ago I helped my children to do a “baby-Jesus-in-walnut-shell” craft, and this  week Joy had all the ingredients for a new and improved version, which all the children enjoyed immensely.

Soldier baked a new kind of cookie for Christmas this year, a flourless meringue with figs, orange zest and almond paste, which are fantastic. I’m planning to bake them myself and I will share the recipe.

Many more fun and Christmasy things are planned in the next few days, which I hope to tell about here, but I wanted to put up this post on the coldest day I’ve ever known.

Father’s Song

FATHER’S SONG

Yesterday, against admonishment,
my daughter balanced on the couch back,
fell and cut her mouth.

Because I saw it happen I knew
she was not hurt, and yet
a child’s blood so red
it stops a father’s heart.

My daughter cried her tears;
I held some ice
against her lip.
That was the end of it.

Round and round: bow and kiss.
I try to teach her caution;
she tries to teach me risk.

-Gregory Orr

 

From sunrise to sunset.

On Saturday we left the house early to get to the hot air balloon festival before the sun came up. Smokey the Bear was the first to get inflated and lift off. This is the same event I attended with Pippin seven years ago, and most of the balloons were the same, too.

In the middle of the day we took naps, and tended the garden. That is, Pippin gardened and I took pictures.

Late afternoon we took the camp stove and makings for Frito Pie up on the volcanic peak of Mount Shasta, to the Old Ski Bowl, 7800 ft. elevation (The top is almost twice that high). We ate our picnic dinner and stayed for the sunset.

The children took me up a ways to a place among the rocks that they call the Sunset Cafe, and we pretend feasted on plates of salad, strawberry bread and chocolatey desserts, artfully arranged from whatever vegetable and mineral materials could be found lying nearby:

We gazed off toward the west…

And when it was starting to get dark, both Ivy and Jamie fell within about ten minutes of each other, and cried for a while in pain from the shock of sharp rocks slamming into knees and ribs. Jamie had tripped over the giant rock loaf of “strawberry bread.” But they were soon done with that and we set off down the mountain again.

Today was full. This is the first year Ivy didn’t have a themed cake, and the first year she helped make her birthday pie.

Everything has been delicious.