journal . stories . life

20 ~ August 2023

Jess had the time of her life in our third week of cabin staying this summer. This one sits way back from the road, behind a locked gate, so I can let the dogs run free. It has a front and a back door, and when the dogs are not paying attention I slip out one of the doors and go hide in the meadow or in the woods, and then yell ‘FIND DAD.’ They nose me out and so it usually doesn’t take long for them to locate me. Last night though I had a good spot. I climbed on the back bumper of my chevy truck and leaned against the black nylon bed cover. Jess ran almost right under my feet. Another good spot is to lie down randomly somewhere in the meadow grass, after circling around a bit if I have the time, to alter the scent trail they follow. Good fun between Dad and three border collies.

Jess’s senses are so much greater than mine or 9+ year old Beau and 12+ year old Hayley. Several times I noticed her listening for mice in the rose bush patch, then jumping up in the air like a fox or coyote to try to press one to the ground.

She also heard what were probably deer coming near the cabin in the evenings, when I didn’t hear a thing. One night when we went out in the middle of the night I saw eye shine above the cabin. Probably deer, but the forest service says this is bear country.

It is always good to get home to the garden and chickens, my big oak tree out front and my beloved home. It is when you settle back into your routine that you realize how amazing and renewing the adventure was that you came home from.

Yesterday (July 31st) the dogs and I hiked up into a secluded basin that I have been to a couple of times before, but It has been at least a decade since the last time. The only trails up there are ones made by elk. I used my GPS to mark the path so that I could find it on the way back.

Once we made it to timberline, around 11:00 a.m, the dogs and I had a late breakfast. I thought I might take a nap but wasn't feeling tired at all. So I left my heavy pack and explored the alpine. I remembered a lot of the landmarks and circled up around by a high mountain lake. I kept going because one of my favorite pictures of all time was taken up there of Ben, who has been in dog heaven since 2013.

It was of a alpine clifftop that Ben ran ahead to and climbed up on.. I snapped a photo right at the moment he was at the summit looking down. Yesterday I didn't remember exactly where it was,but went around a bend up high and there it appeared in front of me. This time Beau ran ahead and and I got to repeat the photo that I took so long ago.

We couldn't stay up there long because thunderstorms were predicted and in fact lightning started hitting just after we got to treeline, some of it very close. I backtracked my route down out of the basin with no problems. Part waydown we were in a hail storm that me and the dogs took shelter from under a lodgepole pine.

We ended up hiking 13 miles yesterday, a lot of it on very steep slopes. I fell asleep easily being so exhausted but was woken at 11:00 p.m. by nocturnal leg cramps, probably from the extreme exercise of that day. I have learned that when I get these don't try to stretch them out; just try to relax. Otherwise they can be excruciatingly painful. What worked this time was to rub my thumbs and fingers on the cement floor of the cabin. In a few minutes the cramps lessened after doing that.

So today is an off day with no hiking. We might go somewhere tomorrow. I took the dogs down to the Arkansas River too go swimming after sticks, which seems to be Beau's favorite thing to do in the world. Jess follows right behind him in the river.

(click on photos below for larger image . . . - Esc or clicking outside of image will close it)

More Journal Notes:

August 17, 2023

Having lots of chickens who have layed three dozen plus eggs every morning all summer really has worked out for me. I have enough for all me and the dogs want, every day. (I usually have one yolk and about five egg whites a day; they have five eggs mixed with veggies and cooked into a frittata, along with some kibble). And I have enough to give plenty to my neighbors on a regular basis, with some left over for impromptu donations, like to the mailperson, or the repairman who works on the house.

I have very good neighbors, and really enjoy chatting with them once in a while. That might seem like a small thing for couples or families (chatting), but it is pretty big for someone who lives alone and talks to border collies most of the week. I have learned it is best to keep the conversations short, so as not to waste their time or overstay their friendly nature.

One of the best things I have ever done in life is to stay in one place and one house long enough to know what it feels like to have deep roots in a community. I am within three years of being in this house forty years.

I am also grateful that my ex wife felt compelled to quit claim it over to me when she moved, which she did not have to do. Divorce is an upheaval that takes quite a while to get over (at least it did for me), but it was good that we parted on relatively friendly terms.

August 17, 2023

For years my backyard grass would die in the August heat, no matter how much I watered it. So I started growing annual rye instead, to improve the soil and provide feed for the chickens. I actually have some green lawn in back this year! This is the first time I let the hens into it - they are in chicken paradise!

August 14, 2023

Busy day today. I set up a doctor's appointment to check my knee, which is still sore from a fall a month ago. Normally I would just work through it, but since I will be out of the country soon, thought it would be wise to at least have her look at it. The doctor sent me to the hospital for xrays, which showed there was some inflammation, but nothing serious. She suggested I wear a knee brace to compress it. That was good news, and now I won't worry about it as much.

I drove up to Colorado State University community Vet school, where Jess is going to have a Lap Spay tomorrow. . (Laparoscopic Spay). This is done with a very small incision, so recovery is minimal. I was proud of my little girl. She was having the time of her life with all the nurses and other pet owners. In fact when she was leashed up and taken away she didn't even look back for Dad!!! (yes I was a little disappointed). But at least this tells me she would be ok at a kennel for a while. I am thinking of going on a several day pack trip next July and boarding the dogs while I am on it.

August 15, 2023

Jess got to come home the evening of her lap spay surgery. She was groggy at first, but this morning, the day after the surgery, she was taking her stuffed animals and playing keep away from Hayley. I can’t say enough what a good choice a lap spay is for girl dogs if you want to lessen the pain and recovery from a spaying. (lap spay = video surgery). Jess had just two small incision points that have closed up now. Our house was very subdued Monday night without Jess. I could tell Beau and Hayley really missed her. When she came home yesterday they both ran up to see her with tails wagging. It is amazing how quickly these dogs become a beloved member of your household. And Jess is special.

August 10, 2023

Amy called a few weeks ago and said she wanted to drive down and go to the Botanic Gardens. I wasn’t thrilled, since it was going to be a hot afternoon, but I said ok, because I don’t see her very often. When she got here she went inside to go to the bathroom, and something compelled me to go out and see her jeep. I found a sweet little baby border collie boy pup! I took him to the backyard, and later the front, to get acquainted with Jess and Beau and Hayley.

His name is Wally, and he is the sweetest little guy! I love the photo of Jess sitting a few feet away from puppy Wally and being calm with him, enjoying his company.

August 12, 2023

So last night before midnight the band finished a very boring fourth set - a lot of classic country but nothing very upbeat. I waited around, hoping for at least one more good song/dance. The DJ played ‘fake ID’, by Big and Rich, which is a very fun song to dance to, and the floor was not packed with line dancers that late at night. I asked several ladies to dance, and they all said no. (bummer); But I persisted and asked an attractive tall middle aged blonde to dance. She said yes, but remarked I am just a beginner. What a pleasure she was to dance with! On a song that fast you have to be somewhat skilled to keep your footwork in step with the beat. And she was right on it, from the very beginning. At the end I told her how great she was dancing, and of course thanked her. I mentioned I hadv been waiting an hour for a song like that; she said ‘It was a good one.’

Since it was so late and I still need to keep getting ready for my upcoming trip, I left right after that dance. It was a very good night, and my impression is the nights you spend out dancing are extra in the course of your life. The ageless sense of being so totally in the moment dancing to good songs with beautiful, smiling partners is time that may be added on when all is said and done, because of the heart full and life renewing feeling they leave you with.

August 5, 2023

Nothing puts you in the mood to go to the dancehall early and stay late like a week alone with the border collies up high in the mountains. Sure looking forward to tonight! #grizzlyrose #grizzlyrosedenver #countrydance #saturdaynight #saturdaynight

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart"