LIfe at High Altitude in Colorado

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.

-Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (1927-1989)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy 2017!

Thank you for your lovely comments and goodbyes on my former post.
Also thank you for the many e-mails which I'll answer soon. 
I think about all I want to say to you in this final post.
However, wordiness isn't my style.

Instead, I'd like to share some recent photos with you.

our son, Gregg, with Neve (10) and Caden (9) in the forest behind our house

Sam (4) our youngest grandchild singing with his Nursery School class

Amanda and Ben (13 year old twins) and Jack (12) warming up after skiing

Amanda with her smiling snowman

morning light after new snow - our back yard

Breckenridge ski trails and Maggie Pond

alpenglow at dusk on our street

Bob and I with the Grands at our family Christmas dinner in Denver

Bob and I in Denver on Christmas morning

This is my final public post on Live and Learn.

I'll make the blog private near the end of January.
Thank you for your friendship the past 8 years.

Blessings to all.

Happy 2017!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Saying Goodbye

It's frigid in the mountains of Colorado.
Snow is finally starting to fall.
We bundle into layers to play in it.

Lately, I've given a great deal of thought to the blog.
 It's been 8 years since I began writing and posting photos.
I've greatly enjoyed the connections I've made.
I've shared a bit of my life.
I've enjoyed learning about yours.

However, I've decided to retire the blog from the public domain early in 2017.
I'll make it private for family as I did my other blog One Good Thing.
I hope to continue writing and posting on both blogs.
However, I'd like a more intimate and open platform
than I feel comfortable sharing publicly.

I'll continue my mindful focus on writing and photography.
I'll certainly still visit my favorite blog friends.
However, my own forum for sharing will be more private.

I use social media sporadically.
If you are on Facebook, you can connect with me there.
Since my page is by invitation only,
you'll have to send me your contact information via my e-mail:
I also post on Instagram as "Writebreck."
I'll start using that platform more to share my photos.
If you use Instagram, contact me so I can follow you there.

Lastly, I send you all good wishes as we say goodbye to 2016.
May you enjoy good health, meaningful connections, and fine adventures in 2017.

Stay mindful, be kind, and may the love you send into the world return to you.

Peace be with you.

PS I'll do one more post early in 2017 before closing the blog by the end of January.
Thank you for your friendship!


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Mindful Meanderings

Several blog friends have e-mailed to inquire if I'm OK.
I am!

We continue to eat a whole-food, plant-based diet.
We've lost many pounds without trying.
We both feel energetic and well.

It's finally starting to snow in Breckenridge.
Temperatures drop.

Clouds and sun shift.
The landscape is draped
in the subtle beauty of white.

Days pass - I feel calm and rested.
I read and write and think.
I spend time outdoors as usual.
I snap photos.

I look and listen carefully.
I try to see beyond the obvious.
Understanding, thoughtfulness, and patience
are my continuing quest.
Sometimes, I fall short.
I forgive myself and renew my commitment. 

The photos I'm sharing today
give you a glimpse of my life.
They're all edited, of course.
They're my vision (or version) of a life.

I'm just checking in to let you know all is well.
I hope you're taking time to meander.

Meandering leads to perfection.
- Lao Tzu

(Comments closed.)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Goodbye for Awhile

Whatever happens, we choose our response.
We can either be the candle or the darkness.
Negativity breeds negativity.

Last evening, I watched two of my grandchildren
perform in their middle school choir.
Standing erect, eyes sparkling, blending themselves in harmony,
youthful voices rang in the air.
Smiles lit the room.
My earnest 6th grade grandson, handsome in his dress-up clothes,
kept beat with his foot.
My lovely 8th grade granddaughter, her personality beaming to the audience,
came forward for a solo.
I felt tears in my eyes as my spirits lifted. 

Here is my future, I thought.
Here is our country's promise.

Sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.
To show honor in either is a mark of true character.

I'll take a break from the blog and from social media for awhile.
Doom and gloom bring the spirit low.
My vote is for hope and for promise.

I'd like to share excerpts from an an essay, "Staying Alive" by Mary Oliver:

"Adults can change their circumstances; children cannot. Children are powerless, and in difficult situations they are the victims of every sorrow and mischance and rage around them, for children feel all of these things but without any of the ability that adults have to change them. Whatever can take a child beyond such circumstances, therefore, is an alleviation and a blessing."

"And now my old dog is dead, and another I had after him, and my parents are dead, and that first world, that old house, is sold and lost, and the books I gathered there lost, or sold — but more books bought, and in another place, board by board and stone by stone, like a house, a true life built, and all because I was steadfast about one or two things: loving foxes, and poems, the blank piece of paper, and my own energy — and mostly the shimmering shoulders of the world that shrug carelessly over the fate of any individual that they may, the better, keep the Niles and the Amazons flowing. And that I did not give to anyone the responsibility for my life. It is mine. I made it. And can do what I want to with it. Live it. Give it back, someday, without bitterness, to the wild and weedy dunes."
©Mary Oliver in UPSTREAM: Selected Essays

Be well, be calm, and be the light rather than the darkness.
Peace be with you, Barb

(comments closed)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Sunlight and Shadow

At this time of the year, I center my thoughts on gratitude.
There is a great deal of beauty in our changing landscape.
I'm thankful for it.

Always, in life, problems arise.
Turbulence threatens and the journey becomes difficult.
Worry doesn't solve anything.
Nor does anger.

My antidote to discord is to remain calm if possible.
Reflection and silence are often diffusing.
Opinions sometimes have no basis in reality.
Another opinion is just that - another opinion.

Perhaps I listen - or not.
It's sometimes prudent to tune out.
I avoid people who moan about doom and gloom.
They become the negative they decry.

There is never (ever) just one right way.
I try not to judge - an ongoing challenge.

Thank you for this moment of this day.
Thank you for powerful, positive, uplifting connections.
Thank you for both the ups and the downs that help me grow.

Thank you for your visit.

I hope you have many moments of gratitude to sustain you.

These photos were all taken in the past week - iPhone 6s.

Friday, October 28, 2016

End of October at High Altitude - Skywatch

Emerging from the velvety tunnel of dreams,
my eyes adjust to a dim charcoal light.
My body clock says it's time to rise.
I like to greet the rising sun from my chair in the Great Room.

sun casting pink glow over western peaks - sunrise

When I was young with small children,
sleeping past sunrise was a bonus I seldom received.
Now old, I no longer crave that extra hour of sleep.
I feel rested and ready for the day to begin.

moose with yearling calf

At the end of October at high altitude, we hover between fall and winter.
We have minor snows that mostly melt in a few days.
Vegetation dries and goes to seed.
Leaves scatter and crunch underfoot.

male red fox

Wild animals forage and mate.
We all prepare for the season of white.

When I walked earlier this week, I got caught in gentle rain.
It misted and dropped like a benediction on my head and shoulders.
I smiled, thinking how I loved walking in rain when I was young.
In the quiet, I heard raindrops hitting my head and shoulders.
It was a chilly day, but I kept a brisk pace so I wasn't cold.
I told myself I was watering my spirit.


Blue skies or gray - the gift of life for another day is precious.
I hope you have many occasions to let your spirit soar.
I wish you contentment.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Moose on the Loose!

"trimming" my willow bush behind the garden

It's mating season for moose.
This week, we've had many different moose visiting our property.

One threesome, a cow, her yearling calf, and a bull
stayed for hours resting, ruminating, and making eyes at each other.

Moose love is in the air.
Hormones are raging!

Bull approaching female

The dapper bull had sex on his mind.
He approached the female to sniff.
Raising his snout as high into the air as possible, he groaned loudly.
She turned to face him, rubbed his neck with her head, and squealed.
The calf stood to the side watching quietly.
Obviously, the yearling will soon be on its own if Mama gets pregnant.

I thought the act was going to happen right in front of me!
But, the cow decided at the last minute she needed more courting.
As she moved away, the bull followed looking dejected.
Actually, moose always look sad!
It's that huge nose that gives them a hang-dog appearance.

These are BIG herbivorous animals, between 800 and 1500 lbs (400-700 kg).
They have no upper front teeth.
They use their lips and rough tongue to strip branches and leaves.
They gnaw on aspen bark, scraping it off along their back incisors. 

We like seeing the moose, but they're destructive to trees and bushes.
They've effectively "mowed" all my seed heads in the garden.
They "trimmed" my dogwood and willow bushes.
When they start snacking on the aspens, we draw the line.
We clang pots together, stomp on our deck, yell, and wave dish cloths
so they get the idea we want them to move away from the trees.

the calf is sticking its tongue out at us!

They generally just look at us as if we're tiny gnats disturbing their peace of mind.
Finally, in their own good time, they move into the forest to graze elsewhere.

female looks up as I come down the raod

I met a young female while on my walk yesterday.
She looked at me and flicked her ears but kept grazing.
I immediately turned and moved away from her.
In mating season, tempers can flare.
I'm not testing my mettle against a moose's! 


Here's a short video of the threesome when I thought the bull was going to have his way with the female. You can see him caressing her rump with his head. She decided to be coy at the last minute. However, judging from all her flirting, I have a feeling he eventually had his way with her.

Never get close to a moose.
They will attack if they feel threatened.
They have sharp hooves and can kick forward, backward, and sideways.
When taking these close-up shots, I was on my deck with the back door open,
ready to make a quick escape if necessary.

Saturday's Critters

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Still Eating Plant-Based and Still Walking

I've never spent so much time in the kitchen in my life.
(Well, maybe on holidays...)

The new plant-based diet is time-consuming.
I spend twice as long at the market gathering ingredients.
Where the heck is the Miso?
I'm chopping, marinating, grating, and sautéing (not in oil!).
However, it's getting a little easier. 
I've gathered and made some recipes that we enjoy.
Thank you to my blog friends who e-mailed recipes and advise.
Also, what would I do without Pinterest?
(and Google...)

Thank goodness for the outdoors!
We've had lovely cool weather with blue skies and sunshine in Breckenridge.
I've found time between grocery shopping and cooking to walk and hike.

One day, when I had errands in town, I walked unfamiliar paths on the east side of town.

Looking toward the ski trails, I realized we're less than a month from opening.
I can wait a bit for the snow to fall, but I guess the ski area can't.

On weekdays, town is deserted.
Locals live for this brief period of rest from tourists.
Trails, sidewalks, and roads aren't teeming with people and cars.

   I walk in solitude and relish the quiet.

I don't have a jack o'lantern to show you.
I hope this relic will do -
same color at least.

We've been eating plant-based about a month now.
We've both lost weight and feel great.
I imagine we'll reach our set-point weight and won't keep losing.
We eat a lot, but veggies are filling and aren't loaded with calories.
However, they're dense in nutrients.

Bon appétit!