Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Smoke, Rain, and Wind

The images that came across the screen last night of the fire raging in Colorado Springs were terrifying to watch even though I saw the images via a computer screen or on the television.  Forty miles away from the fire, I was horrified and shocked at what was happing in my hometown all through the evening of June 26, 2012.  My husband and I could barely take our eyes off of the accounts of the devastation that were being recorded via the television cameras.  My children, though safely in other cities and states, were also horrified and shocked as they watched what was happening by logging onto the internet where they could watch a live stream of what we were watching on television.

Finally, at nearly midnight, my husband and I went to bed to try and sleep.  About 2:00 a.m., our puppy, Boston, now ten months old, woke us up because he was sick.  We have had him to the vet three times in the past ten days.  In fact, we had spent nearly two hours at the vet yesterday as they sought an explanation for his symptoms.   He is suffering from a bacterial infection that seems to get better, and then it comes back again.  At 2:00 this morning, after cleaning up the mess that thankfully mostly just covered his kennel, my husband and I sat on the back deck and just stared at each other.  We were too dumbfounded by all the events of the previous day to even go back to bed.  The smell of smoke filled the night air, a reminder that fires were still burning up north.  Finally, we made our way to bed.  At 4:00 a.m., Jim was back up with our sick pup.  Today, Boston spent the day at the vet's where he will remain tonight.  He is still vomiting and experiencing diarrhea.

We had to be in Colorado Springs by 10:30 this morning.  As we sat on the deck last night, or I should say early this morning, we discussed canceling our appointments.  Jim's appointment was with the cardiologist office, so we decided we needed to go.  (He is doing fine.  He is involved in a research study and must be monitored while he is on the drug that is being researched.)

Our cardiologists' office is on the top floor of Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, the hospital where I was born.  The views from the seventh floor of this cardiology practice are stunning as a wall of windows facing the west allows a panoramic view of the Front Range.  I always love to gaze out of the windows as I drink in the beauty of this those "purple mountain majesties" on the horizon.   My eye is always drawn to my mountain, the one that lived at the end of the street where I grew up, Pikes Peak.  I am home, I think as I peer directly down on the park just outside the window where I played on a nearly daily basis as a child. I look out over the tree tops towards the house where I grew up which is located just a few blocks west of the hospital and park.  This is my 'hood.  I was born here, and I grew up here.  I even went to church and to school within a four or five block distance from the place where I was born.

Today, I was not alone, as I gazed out the windows today.  I noticed the office personnel glancing anxiously towards the west as they went about their business.  Sometimes, they would walk over to the window, leaning toward the glass to try to get a better view of what was happening.  Patients were also looking to see what they could see of the conditions to the west.  We saw little.  North of Pikes Peak, the mountains were hidden by a dark, ominous looking cloud of smoke.  I could smell smoke within the hospital itself.    There was not any solid evidence of all the destruction that had taken place the evening before just north of Pikes Peak.   The cloud of smoke hid the damage the fire had caused beneath it.
A view of Pikes Peak from Memorial Hospital
taken with my cell phone on 6/27/12
The grass from Boulder Park can be clearly seen in the center of the photo.
The central part of Colorado Springs lies near the foothills below  Pikes Peak.
The highest peak in the photo is Pikes Peak.

After Jim's appointment,  we drove to one of our favorite deli's, Wooglin's Deli, which is located across the street from Colorado College.  We nearly always have lunch there when we are in town.  I ran into a friend and colleague while we were having lunch.  She had been the professor who organized a trip I took with her and other teachers to Oaxaca, Mexico in 2005.  She said she and her husband were evacuees.  They had to leave their home, located not far from the Garden of the Gods,  last night.  They hoped to return home tonight.

After lunch, Jim and I drove north to his daughter's home to check on her.  All was fine there.  We then went to my doctor's appointment in the far northeast part of Colorado Springs.  As we walked to the office from the car, the rain started to fall.  Unfortunately, I don't think this particular weather cell did much for the area where the fire is located, but it was coming down hard enough for me to grab an umbrella as I got out of the car.

One of my favorite all time women in my life is my ob/gyn doctor.  As all my friends and family know, I adore her.  Young, beautiful, vivacious, funny, smart as a whip, voted as one of the top docs of Colorado Springs, I call her my smart Barbie.  That is not a put down, and I hope it shows no disrespect.  She is smart, beautiful, and a wonderful, caring, doctor.  Many of my friends and family now go to her also.

As soon as she entered the exam room, it was clear she was suffering.  She had left her home yesterday to go to work thinking all was well.  After work, she headed to Denver for a prior commitment.  As she headed towards Denver, she learned  the area where her home is located was under mandatory evacuation.  Her home is located just a very short distance from the Flying "W" Ranch which was totally destroyed by the fire.  When I saw her this afternoon, she was still trying learn from the Red Cross if her home was still standing.  She said, "Sally, I literally only have the clothes on my back at this time.  I had to go to Target to get shampoo and such before I came to work today."  She was dressed in surgical attire.  We exchanged many hugs, I shed a few tears for her because she was standing tall, and remaining professional, but the look we exchanged as we kept locking eyes said it all.  She is devastated, worried, exhausted, and wondering what the future holds.  She didn't even know where she would go tonight.  "Come home with me," I said.  Of course that was not realistic, so I said, "Go to the Broadmoor; I hear insurance will pay for your housing."  We got a laugh out of that.  I assured her that she would come back from all of this.  She will land on her feet.  That is who she is. This fire is just getting way too personal.  It is touching people I care deeply about.

Tonight, my thoughts and prayers are with all of those who don't know what the future holds after this devastation.  My thoughts and prayers are with the fire fighters who are risking their lives as they fight this fire.  I admire and send support to those leaders of Colorado Springs who have handled this tragedy with great wisdom and much grace.  I appreciate the support so many are sending this way.  The Red Cross is doing a tremendous job of bringing in help, support, and shelter for the over 32,000 people who had to leave their homes.

The rain did fall, and that also meant the wind blew today.  Colorado Springs is located on the downslope of a mountainous range.  Storms do not produce gentle rains often.  Storms bring wind and lightening.  I have not heard if the rains have helped much yet in the firefighting effort.  I don't think the winds have stirred up too much damage.  If anything, the wind is scattering ash and embers that are traveling north and igniting small spot fires.  Helicopters are fighting these in an attempt to keep the fire from breaching the ridge that would cause the fire to burn on Air Academy grounds.  As far as I know, there have been no lightening strikes that have caused additional fires.

At times during the day, a flash flood warning has been in place because the rain could cause flooding as the water runs off  the fire de-wooded hillsides.  We need gentle rain, but that type of rain is rare around here.  I just keep hoping that every little bit of moisture we can get in the air will help a lot.  The temperatures were not as hot today.  All of that has made things appear better than they were yesterday.

Thank you all for the love, support, prayers, and kind wishes for Colorado.  Keep them coming.

On a final note, please read my daughter's blog entry.  She captured so well what I wish I could say about my beloved hometown.  Click here on: "Memories Aflame" to read Keicha's beautifully written piece.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fire Update

Dear Blogging Friends,

At about 4:00 this afternoon, June 26th, 2012, the Waldo Canyon Fire fanned by 40 mile an hour winds, suddenly flared to cause the wildfire to grow by leaps and bounds.  I am located forty miles away and am in no danger whatsoever, but I have many friends and family in my hometown of Colorado Springs.

A perfect storm set the scene for what has happened.  Colorado Springs has never reached 101 degrees before until today.  For three straight days, the temperature has been at 100 degrees.  Wind up to 65 miles an hour also hit late this afternoon.  The area is in a drought.

By 4:30 more than 7,000 more people were evacuated from their homes.  This meant that 12,000 people were evacuated in the area.  Since that time, more people have been evacuated from homes near the Air Force Academy.  In fact, the housing area for those personnel who live on the Air Force Academy have had to evacuate.

Structures have now been lost in the area.  Since Sunday, the firefighters have been able to keep all structures from burning.  As one broadcaster said on air, "It has all changed on a dime."  This was because of the wind that brought the fire roaring through Waldo Canyon and Queen's Canyon into the west side of the City of Colorado Springs.  Think of smoke from a fireplace going up a chimney.  This is what happened when the fire, pushed by wind, roared through Queen's Canyon.

The photos and live shots coming out of the area are absolutely heartbreaking.  As heartbreaking as the photos are, the knowledge of the impact that this disaster is having on so many is even more heartbreaking.  All over Colorado Springs, family members are reporting that the air is thick with ash and smoke.  Many say it is difficult to breathe.

As I write this post, the word is that all homes west of I25 from Garden of the Gods to the Air Force Academy is on evacuation orders.  Word is out that Flying "W" Ranch, a place those of us who lived in Colorado Springs always took visitors out of town to experience a true Western experience and meal, has burned.

The wind is shifting, even though it is dying down.  It is now headed south.  We need rain.  We need prayer.  The fire is out of control.  Neighborhoods are burning.  The fire is unprecedented.  There are no words.  The air craft is no longer able to go in the air to fight the fire.

If you wish to watch a live stream of this fire, you may do so at this site:  KOAA

As many of you know, we have been trying to sell our home so that we can move to Colorado Springs.  The home we have hoped to purchase is not too near these areas that are burning.  None of my family lives near the fire.  All are on the other side of town.  Officials have asked all to stop using cell phones. Gas has been turned off to many neighborhoods.  I can't even imagine what those who live in this areas are experiencing.

Truly, the backdrop of my earliest days, the beloved skyline of my life,  is on fire.  I am heartbroken.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Colorado Fires

I am very distracted tonight.  I have been watching the news continuously since about 4:00 today because there is a fire near Colorado Springs that has caused over a thousand homes to be evacuated in Colorado Springs.  Thankfully, as of this evening, the fire itself has not crested the ridge that separates the town of Colorado Springs from the mountain areas where the fire is now 0% contained.  Not only are the small towns that line Ute Pass or Highway 24 west of Colorado Springs all evacuated or are on voluntary evacuation, but also many homes are evacuated right in the town if Colorado Springs.  None of these populated areas are on fire now, but evacuation is mandatory because of how quickly the fire can spread depending on the wind direction.

The photo below is an amazing photo that was taken of the fire earlier today from the top of Pikes Peak.  You can see Colorado Springs in the distance.  Some of you may remember that Katherine Lee Bates was inspired to write  "America the Beautiful" when she saw this same view from the top of Pikes Peak.  She wrote the following about the experience that led to her penning the words for this song, "One day some of the other teachers and I decided to go on a trip to 14,000-foot Pikes Peak. We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse." photo
This photo was taken by someone on top of Pikes Peak about 2:30 today

I have no idea how many fires are now burning in Colorado.  As of this afternoon, the one near Colorado Springs is a new wildfire for the state  After beginning around 1:00 p.m., by 8:00 p.m.,  the fire spread to 2,000 acres.  Fighting the fire is a challenge because of:  terrain, wind, and heat.  The terrain is very steep, and there are many big boulders.  The fire loosens the boulders and causes even more dangerous conditions for those who try to fight the fire on foot.  The wind has been blowing, but it has now calmed down some. This does not mean that the winds will not pick up again.  Thankfully, the temperatures are now going down, but records were broken today with 100 degree heat in Colorado Springs.  (It was 108 at our house in Pueblo.)  The hillsides are incredibly dry.  We have had little rain, and we had little snow this winter.  The forecast is for more heat tomorrow, and there is no forecast for rain.

My cousin Donna who has a cabin west of this fire has been under mandatory evacuation since last Sunday because of a fire known as the Springer Fire that was burning near her cabin.  (I wrote a blog post about Donna which you can read if you clink here.)  She was just allowed to go back to her cabin today.  She literally just got up to the cabin before today's fire broke out about 30 miles away from her cabin.  Thankfully the fires in her area were contained.  This freed up firefighters for the Waldo Canyon fire near Colorado Springs.

She is safe; there is no threat to the area where she is living at this time.  She was looking forward to spending the summer in the cool mountain air of Colorado by living in the cabin her father built in the early 70's. She lives in the Phoenix area during the rest of the year.  Last summer we had a great family reunion at her cabin.  We have plans for another one this year in July at the same cabin.  Many of my family have built cabins in this area over the years.  Many family memories have been made in the area around my cousin's cabin.  Thankfully, that area is safe at this time, and Donna is back home in her cabin.

This photo shows how much of the area is surrounded by trees.  Unfortunately, the ground under the trees was very dry even last year.  It is worse this year.

My brother and his wife visiting a cousin's husband
Donna's cabin - 2011
Wagon Tongue, Colorado

Two cousins I had not seen in many years attended the gathering.
Barbara, on the left, works has worked at the gate on the highway that goes to the top of Pikes Peak.
She has worked there for years.
Her brother is the forest ranger stationed at the top of Pikes Peak.
Family Reunion
2011 at Donna's cabin
(Donna is in the green/blue top  She is the first person seated on the second row.)
Our roots go deep in the Colorado Springs area.  Our family is rare in that those of us in my generation are third generation natives of El Paso County in Colorado.  We grew up driving up and down Ute Pass near where the fire started.  We spent many happy summer days as children not far from this area in Victor, Colorado where our grandparents had a summer home.  Four generations have worked on the top of Pikes Peak.  My brother's grandson is working up there this summer.  We have never seen anything like this.  No fire has ever threatened our beloved mountain areas surrounding Colorado Springs.

My mother who is 96 years old lived in Woodland Park as a child.  Woodland Park, a small mountain town set at the foot of Pikes Peak,  is just about 20 miles from where today's fire broke out.  When she was just a small child, I think she was only about five years old, she watched her family home burn to ground in the middle of winter.  It is one of her earliest memories.  They lost everything they had.  All through my childhood, I remember hearing stories about this fire and how it marked my mother's life.  All of the precious photos which they saved are singed.  These scorched, treasured family portraits are grim reminders of the devastation of the fire my mother and her parents experienced.  These were the only things that were saved.  Today, as I spoke with my mother about the fire burning in the area so close to her childhood home, she said, "Fire is a terrible thing."  I just saw a photo the night sky lit up by the bright red flames burning west of Colorado Springs.  I was shocked.  It looks life the world is on fire.  That is fire, not the sun setting!

Photo by:  Kristen Bennett of Wildflower Photography

We are praying for all those who are affected by this wildfire.  We pray for those who have been evacuated from their home.  We pray for safety for those fighting the fire.  We pray that no lives or structures are lost.  We are praying for rain, no wind, and cooler temperatures.  Dear blogging friends, please join me in praying for a quick end of this fire.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review ~ A Natural Woman by Carole King

A Natural Woman: A MemoirA Natural Woman: A Memoir by Carole King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I love Carole King. I respect her as a person and a performer even more since I read her memoir.  She is an amazing woman in so many ways.  When I consider how much her music is the sound track for my life, I am even more amazed at her talent for writing song lyrics and music.

I found the story of her life is far from ordinary.  She has really lived quite a remarkable life in many ways.  Her life has been filled with much heartbreak and chaos.  She is also a rock of stability in so many ways.  She is an incredibly strong woman who can milk a goat, live in wild, write music that will remain long after she is gone, raise children, marry men who don't deserve her, and even survive physical abuse.  I had no idea that she had been a victim of spousal abuse before I read her book.

When I attended her Denver Troubadour Tour Concert where she performed with James Taylor in 2010, I was just weeks past the traumatic death of my 34 year old daughter.  I credit her performance with giving  me much of  the inspiration to keep on living my life fully the best way I could.  Carole King spoke to me with her music, her demeanor, and her vibrancy.  She helped bring me out of the shock of grief that had a hold on the core of my life.

As I watched her perform, I knew I would survive and thrive again.  Here was a woman from my generation who had traveled many hard roads, but she could still convincingly belt out her music.  Age and life experiences only made her ability to sing more authentic than than it had been before. Life experience made gave her more depth, more richness.   Natural woman indeed.  Rocking those curly, gray locks of hair while wearing high heels and age appropriate but still sexy attire, only added to her youthful appearance.  This woman does not hide behind styled and colored hair, or wrinkle erasers.  Face lifts have not altered her iconic looks.  She is natural.  Her blue, sparkling eyes and big smile are ageless.

That being said, I was disappointed in her book.  I read her story with interest, but I did not enjoy her writing style.  She is a song writer.  That is her genre.  Memoir is not her forte.  She exceeds the norm in most areas, but not in writing a book.

I glad I bought the book.  I'm glad I read it.  She is truly an amazing woman.  I was just disappointed in her ability to connect with her readers, who already have such a connection to her through her music,  even though she has a story to tell that is absolutely fascinating.

View all my reviews

Thursday, June 14, 2012


The following was written as a piece of Sacred Writing June 9, 2008 during the Southern Colorado Writing Project at Colorado State University-Pueblo.

My fellow SCWP teacher consultants


late starter - late bloomer - saving the best for last.
Middle child

Second wife - first in his heart

Mother of five
Grandmother of seven

Do I dare say writer?

Strong minded - ok, I guess I am really just stubborn and strong willed.
Full of thoughts

Authentic - notice the curly, silver hair

Fun & crazy at times
Drama queen?

Supporter & best friend to my husband

Healer of relationships

Woman of faith

Eclectic - especially in decorating. If I like it, it fits.

Find my identity mostly in my life at home and in my family more than in my career.
Struggled many times in my new identity when I married my husband, moved to his town, and felt I lost mine.


I loved the summer I finally was able to participate in the Southern Colorado Writing Project.  The opportunity to participate in SCWP, a member of the National Writing Project, had long been a goal of mine.  I just never could fit the project into my busy schedule until the summer after I retired.  Being a part of the writing project was one of the most transformative experiences I have ever had personally and professionally.  If you are a teacher and if you ever get a chance to participate in such an initiative, do so.  Just make sure that the writing project that you join is a part of the National Writing Project.  Your teaching and your writing life will never be the same.

Every morning when we first arrived at class, we would find a writing prompt on the board.  This morning writing practice time was called "sacred writing."  I recently found my notebook from that summer.  The writing sample above was one I wrote at that time.

Sacred writing time was just that: sacred.  We were supposed to come into class.  Look at the prompt.  Then, we were to write for 15 minutes until the leader told us our time was up.  Part of the goal of this activity is to model an exercise that teachers can and should implement in their own classrooms.  It is a wonderful activity for beginning a class.  It can be done while the teacher is taking roll.  I think it is best done with the teacher also writing during the 15 minutes.  This way modeling is done by the teacher.

After the 15 minutes are up, the teacher should ask if anyone wants to share.  No response to the reading by others should be done other than to say, "Thank you."  This time is sacred.  The writing is sacred.  It does not have to be shared and should not generate a spoken response.  This builds the writer's confidence when the writer does not have to fear a negative response.

 So many times during sacred writing, I was just getting started with my writing, or just coming up with an idea on how to respond to the prompt when it was time to put our pencils down and stop writing.  Forced focus is not a bad thing.  It causes one to write quickly and capture initial thoughts and impressions.  The goal is not to turn out a polished piece of writing.  This practice not only taught me focus, and it also taught me to recognize that a writer must let go of the idea that every piece of writing is a final draft.  These prompts could in fact become the starting place for larger pieces of writing.  I have always wanted to go back to these writings and see what I might do with them if I took more time and developed the ideas that been generated quickly more in depth.

I guess these responses to prompts are sketches.  How many times do we as writers take the time to sketch?  I don't think I do often enough.  I think my writing could be developed more if I took the time to do some sketching.

For today, I am sharing a quick piece of writing that I wrote four years ago.  How would I respond to this same prompt of "identity" today?  I know the response would be very different.  I guess it is an area of exploration that I can work on in my journal.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Happy Anniversary to The Man I Love

I love this man.

  Look at that face. 

Do you see the kindness there in those twinkling brown eyes?  

Can you see his great personality when you look at this warm, winning smile? 

Do you get a sense of the stability this man brings to any situation?  

Does this look like a face you can trust?

This is that same man when I first met him over 50 years ago.

He hasn't changed a bit.

Those kind brown, twinkling eyes have remained the same.

That warm, confident, reassuring smile is much the same.

He has been seasoned over the years.
That has only added to his capacity to be just the man I need in my life.

I love this guy.

I guess I've always loved him since the day I met him when I was just sixteen.
I was a shy young sophomore girl in those days.
He was a very popular senior, a leader in the school:  King of the Sock Hop, president of the junior class, a great football player, loved by students and teachers.

We are as different as from each other as we can be.

Thrown together in the great melting pot of a public high school, we came from totally different backgrounds.  He was the only and much loved son of refugee Jewish parents, who was born just a few years after they escaped from Nazi  Germany in 1939 by traveling through Russia, China, Japan, and across the Pacific Ocean, to settle in the United States.

I was the second child, and oldest daughter born into a Presbyterian family.  On my father's side, my family came to the United States from the Isle of Jersey to settle in Salem, Massachusetts in 1676.  My family fought in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I and World War II.

Jim's father was an urban German Jew who had fought for Germany during World War I.
He was just a few years younger than my paternal grandmother.
He spoke mostly German, and his English could be difficult to understand.
His father's mother died in a Nazi concentration camp.
He never learned to drive.
He practice Judaism until he died in 1966.

Jim's mother came from a very wealthy family who owned a cigar factory in Germany.
They lost everything during the war.
His mother took her nursing training in Switzerland.
She later became the first Psych Tech to be hired by the Colorado State Mental Institution.
She learned to drive.
She converted to the Mormon Church not long after arriving in the U.S,
She died in the early 70's.
Her parents, quite elderly, made the journey from Germany in 1939 with Jim's parents and and his older sister.  They did not have the papers to enter the U.S. at the time and spent a number of years in Cuba before the family was reunited not long after Jim was born and just before his grandparents died.

My father left for the war just before it ended at the age of 30.  I was born the day he was inducted as a draftee into the army.  He was gone during the first year of my life.
He was a railroad agent.
He was a born again Christian in his later years.
My mother was a stay at home mom.
She is a born again Christian.

I was raised in a home where my parents sent me to the United Presbyterian Church where they were married.  They didn't always go with us in those years.

Jim was raised going to both the synagogue with his father and to the Mormon Church with his mother.

Jim asked me to marry him three times between the time I was sixteen and twenty-one.
The last time he asked me to marry him in those early years was three days before I married my first husband.
He said I was making a terrible mistake.
I thought of Jim as my first love.
I would always love him in that way.
He had always treated me with respect,
He was always protective of me.
He loved me dearly, and I loved him too when we were in high school.
I knew he was steady, honest, full of integrity, held a college degree and would have a promising future.
I wanted someone more exciting.
The excitement wore off in that first marriage.
(That is another story.)
Let's just say that Jim was right.

When he asked me to marry him the fourth time, thirty years later, after I had been single for ten years, and he was newly divorced, I had the wisdom to say, "yes."

We were still as different from each other as we could be.
While he was not actively practicing Mormonism at the time of our marriage, he had gone to BYU, had been a bishop, had married the first time in the LDS temple, and had sent his children to BYU.

I had joined the Mormon Church when I married my first husband and had married him in the LDS temple.  We had five children together.  We had divorced after 15 years of marriage.  I had left the Mormon Church and become an active evangelical Christian.

My children are rowdy.
When they were younger, one could not walk across the room without another tackling the one walking and having a wresting match.
Mine love to argue about politics with each other.

Jim's girls are quiet and reserved.
They always have good manners.
I don't think they ever argue.

Jim never rocks the boat.
In fact, he is the one keeping the boat steady while calming all those on board.

I was born rocking the boat.

Jim is a single topic reader.
He reads only thrillers.
He loves to watch television.
He especially loves to watch anything that has a thriller slant to it.

I read all kinds of genres.
I hate to watch television.

I was raised in a family that enjoyed camping out.
I love camping out.

Jim wouldn't think of camping.
He likes to stay in expensive hotels.

Our approach to life is totally different.
I am trusting, and confident that everything will work out just fine.
Jim is filled with angst.
He is sure nothing will work out right.

I love to garden.
He wants a condo with no yard whatsoever.
I plant new and different plants.
He thinks they are weeds and sprays them with weed killer.

I love to entertain.
He would just as soon not entertain.

I love to travel.
Jim loves to stay home.
He hates to fly.

How have we ever managed to stay together this long?
How can two opposites maintain such a loving marriage?

Tomorrow, we will celebrate 20 years of marriage.
The celebration started a few months ago when he surprised me with a new diamond ring from Tiffany's.
This past weekend he took me to a fancy room for a few nights at the Brown Palace in Denver where he spoiled me rotten.
I felt very pampered and did not want to come back home.

We took in a Rockies game at Coors Stadium.
We ate wonderful meals.
We did a lot of walking around downtown Denver visiting a few of our favorite places.
We sat in our room and read.
We laughed a lot.
He held my hand just like he always has.
He smiled at me with eyes full of love and support.
We left our problems behind.
We celebrated our lives together.

We have made it because we deeply love and respect each other.
I guess we have filled in the gaps for each other.
His strengths are my weaknesses, and vice versa.
We have always supported each other and been loyal to each other.

This past weekend, we gave thanks for making it through a couple of rough years 
of loss, grief, illness, and injury.

We are together.
That is all that has ever mattered to us.

Jim & Sally
Prom 1961
Jim & Sally
Celebrating 20 years of marriage at the Brown Palace in Denver
June 2012

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Epic Storm

Oh hail!
What the hail?
Holy hail!

A Car Submerged in Hail
Up to four feet of hail accumulated in this area.
Source:  KOAA News

All of the above expressions were no doubt used in Colorado Springs, Colorado, last night after a hail storm of epic proportions not often seen to this degree hit the area.  Thankfully, those of us forty miles south did not get hit by the storm.  I have seen a lot of really bad hail storms and summer rain storms in Colorado Springs during the years I lived there, but I have never seen anything quite this bad before.  The car in the photo above is submerged in a sea of hail.  Flash flooding occurred during the terrible rain storm that lasted over an hour.  When the rain mixed with the heavy hail there was an immediate freezing of the water.  Many of those stuck in their cars in this frozen river of hail when rescued by the firemen were treated for hyperthermia.  The storms occurred throughout the area, but they were most damaging in a central area of the town,

One of my earliest memories is coming home from a vacation in the mountains to a flooded out basement at my childhood home in Colorado Springs.  I remember many times that the major street right in front of our home became a virtual river that flooded up onto the front yard of our home when I was growing up,  Colorado Springs is a city of many small creeks and dry creek beds.  They seem totally harmless until a quick moving storm hits with a vengeance.  Then, these creeks become potentially deadly.  As a native of Colorado Springs, I know this about my hometown and am always cautious and try to use good judgement when these storms hit.  Burned in my mind of pathways of past flash floods.  I try to avoid these areas when these summer storms hit.

According to the mayor of Colorado Springs, of nearly four inches of rain fell in two hours in parts  Colorado Springs last evening.  He stated that this was "equivalent to a 100 year storm."  That much rain and golf ball size hail falling that long creates a very scary situation that happens quite without warning.  Along with the rain and the hail comes the wind.  This caused many downed trees.

The downed trees bring up another memory from childhood.  A huge cottonwood tree once stood in our front yard.  During one of these storms, the tree was uprooted and fell south and spanned nearly the entire street on which our house was located.  My mother has the newspaper article about this event.  The photo shows that huge tree blocking Boulder Street.  If it had fallen in the opposite direction, it would have crushed our home.

Hail occurs nearly yearly in Colorado.  Some storms are bad and do a lot of damage.  Others are not nearly as bad.  While I hate being home during a hail storm because of the sound of the hail hitting the roof as I watch the damage done to trees and flowers, I am always thankful I am not out in a car or walking during such sudden storms.

Nearly 25 years ago, I had just driven onto the grounds of the Air Force Academy during a rain storm when, after I had just entered the south gate entrance, hail hit.  It was virtually impossible to drive because I could not see where I was going and the road was quickly being submerged under a combination of hail and water.  Immediately, I pulled to the side of the road to sit out the storm.  I will never forget the terror I felt as I sat there alone in the car listening to the golf ball size hail pound my car.  It sounded as if someone was viciously throwing buckets full of golf balls at my car with great force.  I worried that the wind shield would break and that the car would suddenly be swept away.  Thankfully, the storm passed, I was not injured, and I was able to go on my way to my destination of a friend's home who lived in Air Academy officer housing.  My car was totalled.  I received a handsome check for it, and I continued to drive it for years.  I was single at the time, so the money came in very handy.  I always said I was hit with an act of God on my way to a Bible study.

Another time, just a few years later, I was headed out of Colorado Springs via Ute Pass through the mountains on my way to Utah to attend my daughter Keicha's wedding.  I had just put all new tires on that same car I was driving on the Academy.  A terrible rain and flash flood started as I made my way down Colorado towards Manitou.  At 30th and Colorado, the rain waters flooding from the mountains down Colorado, and from 30th from the Garden of the Gods area came together to form flooding that obliterated the street.  I literally could not see where the street was.  I decided to turn into a gas station to wait out the storm.  I did not want to attempt the mountain pass in the rain.  Unfortunately, I could not see where the curb was because of the rain, and I hit it with full force.  My new tires were ruined.  I had to call a friend to come and rescue me.  He and a tow truck hauled me and the car back to Sears where I again had to put on new tires to make my trip to Utah.

This same friend, picked me up one evening to take me to a play at the Pikes Peak Center in Colorado Springs when a hail and rain storm hit with a vengeance.  I had actually just started dating this gentleman and did not know him too well at the time.  As we were driving in the storm toward the arts center, Neveda Street became a river.  My friend had a hard time navigating through the rushing water and hit a curb he could not see when we were in front of Colorado College.  He pulled in a driveway, took off his coat, tie, and shirt and got out to change the tire.  He didn't want to muss up his coat and shirt before attending the play.  He was of course plummeted by the hail as he changed the tire, but luckily he was not hurt.  I sat demurely in the car and waited for him to fix the problem so we could get to our destination.  I did have an umbrella, but it was of little help to him.  We were a bit late to the play,  and he was very wet, but we enjoyed watching Baby Doe on stage despite all the mishaps along the way.

Some say they are surprised by the flooding that storms bring to Colorado Springs.  I am not surprised, I am just amazed at the damage that can happen so quickly and without warning.  Today, there is rain in the forecast.  I hope it is not heavy.  I worry about the melting of the hail, the soaked earth, and more rain because there could be more flooding.  Pueblo also must be on alert.  We are down hill from Colorado Springs.  The water from Fountain Creek that runs from CS to Pueblo will no doubt cause flooding here.  We are advised to stay away from the trails next to the creek which is only about a mile from our house.  Sometimes, after these storms it truly becomes a raging river that overflows its banks.

If you want to see more photos from this storm in Colorado Springs, go to this link:  KOAA News.