Friday, April 29, 2016

Goodbye to The Month of April

April, you were given a bit of a bad reputation by T. S. Eliot in his poem The Waste Land.  He called you the "cruellest month."  

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing 
Memory and desire, stirring 
Dull roots with spring rain. 
Winter kept us warm, covering 
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding 
A little life with dried tubers. 

I wonder what he would have written had he spent this past April in Colorado.  His poem was not a happy one.  He was speaking as one with depression.  The reawakening of the earth is so often a difficult time of year to those with depression.  

Eliot  might have actually liked living here in Colorado because on this next to last day of April in 2016, the lines about winter and how the earth is covered in “forgetful snow” speak of the reality we are experiencing where I live.

 The snow, at times in thick curtains, falls silently to earth blanketing everything it touches.  The effect is one where everything appears to have been redecorated with thick white cushions.  As the day continues, the snow seems to be dissipating.  The warm earth that had soaked up sun a few days before is drinking in the snow quickly.  The trees branches weighted with snow, leaves, and blossoms droop and slough off the added weight of snow. 

 Some see this time as an extended time to do some cross-country skiing.  

Snow is April is common in the mountains and foothills of Colorado.  Snow in April is best seen as an unexpected gift where one is able to enjoy those things we most love about winter.

I’ve been trying to do that very thing myself.  I drink in the beauty of this unexpected snow.  I welcome the moisture which is feeding the life that wishes to spring up from the ground now covered in blankets of white.  I cast off the extra weight of being frustrated by things I cannot control.  I am reminded on days like this when snowy weather is not really what I might wish to have that I can choose to have a day of gold rather than a day of lead.   I welcome another day spent cozily ensconced in my home.  These days are as temporary as a spring snow.  They never last long.  They provide time for reflection, rest, and recharging.

Honestly, I’ve done so little for a month that I am beginning to feel as if I’m at risk of being completely slouched from the whirl wind of busy lives that buzz around me.  Will I ever again completely join the flurry of life that has been passing me by recently?  

Yesterday, my husband and I spent the morning doing a lot of nothing.  “I’ve wasted the morning away again,” I lamented as I headed to the shower when it was nearly noon.  “No you didn’t,” said my supportive husband.  “Did you enjoy yourself wasting time?  If you did, you didn’t waste it.”  Then he added this gem:

Beside, we have less time in the future to waste time than we did in the past, 
so we might as well enjoy wasting it.”


I can’t say that I have actually wasted time this entire month.  It just feels like it sometimes.  On March 31, I had cataract surgery on my right eye.  I spent the first few days just listening to a story on Audible.  I couldn’t bend from the waist or do heavy lifting, so I let housekeeping chores slid.  Once I was better, I caught up on my chores, did a little planting, had lunch with friends, visited the sick, and did a bit of exercise.

Ten days ago, on April 19, I had surgery on my left eye.  I again did not have any anesthesia during the surgery.  The surgery all went very well.  My doctor was fabulous.  He talked to me through the entire surgery to keep me calm.  I was quite proud of myself for being able to have both surgeries without taking any drugs.  

The day after the surgery, I could tell that the left eye was not responding like the right eye did.  I could not see anything but light and shadows.  At the one day follow-up appointment at my eye doctor’s, I could not see the big E on the eye chart.  All I could see was a lighted square on the wall.  That was a bit unnerving.  The eye doctor was quite concerned about the amount of inflammation I had in the eye and by the condition of my cornea.  He sent me home with instructions to do nothing for a few days but rest and put prednisone drops in my eye every two hours.  It is crazy how one eye had no problems, but the other eye had significant problems after surgery.

Following the doctor’s orders, I went home and listened to my story on Audible.  (Standby for a future post about the book I listened to.)  The Auschwitz Escape is a great book.  I really enjoyed it.

I was back at the doctor’s office in two days.  The eyesight was improving significantly.  Finally, at the one week mark, the eye was nearly back to normal.  I have 20/20 eyesight again.  I’m very pleased with the results after having the surgery.  It will be a month or so before I get new reading glasses.  


Now that the eyes are all fixed up, I’m working on getting some dental work done.  That is always a fun thing to do.  I’m also trying to resolve pain issues in the left sciatica and hip area.  This has been an on-going area of pain for at least fifteen or twenty years.  Monday’s MRI and the one from February don’t give us any definitive answers.  In the meantime, there are days when I have trouble walking and sleeping because of the pain.  Because of my allergic reactions to steroid shots in the past, we are ruling out shots for right now.  I see the specialist that operated on Jim’s back soon.  Hopefully, he will have a plan.

Quite honestly, I am now ready to see May arrive.  I have some travel plans for May and June.  I can't wait.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

It's Been Snowing, But I'm Not Snowed In

It has been snowing in Colorado.  I know that the calendar says that it is April, but the calendar alone is not a predictor of the weather.  In fact, I've been thinking that it would be best to throw the calendar away and not even be aware what month it is.  

I've lived in or near the mountains for much of my life, so I'm not really surprised when it snows in March and April.  In fact, I plan on the heaviest snow falls of the year to occur the last week of March.  I even expect snow storms in April.  I just expect them earlier in the month.

I see photos of flowers and trees blooming, and think that a different version of spring would sure be a welcomed treat.  I'd like to be rid of winter-like weather, but the weather doesn't seem to care one bit about what I want.  

This morning I have such a beautiful snowy view out of my window.  The sun is again shining, and there are hints of blue.  The rooftops are covered with two or three more inches of snow that fell over night.  We've been this pattern of snow followed by a bit of sun for days.

Sunday morning, I watched a little bunny rabbit that lives near my house as she was digging deep into the snow looking for food.  She found something that kept her nibbling for quite some time before she hopped over to the bare barberry bush next to her and started nibbling on it.  Now, I know why my newly planted barberry bushes did not do well last year.  The neighborhood bunnies feasted on them. 

Yesterday morning the snow was nearly all melted.  I saw that there were new green shoots of a perennial coming up in my neighbor's yard where the bunny had been lunching the day before.  I also noticed how green the grass is becoming thanks to the moisture provided by the snow.  The daffodil blossoms  are spent, and we don't have tulips in our neighborhood because the deer eat them.  The moisture that we have gotten from the snow is quite welcomed.  I must keep that in mind.  May flowers need moisture.  In Colorado, that springtime moisture generally comes in a more solid white form than it does in other areas of the country.


Blogging has taken a back seat in my life as late because working on the computer has bothered my eyes.  On March 31st, I had cataract surgery on my right eye.  It seems to have been quite successful, but I find I still don't handle the glare from computer screens, my iPad, and my iPhone that well.  Today, April 19th, in just a few hours, I will have the cataract on the second eye removed.   I will be glad to get these two surgeries behind me.  

I will be rather limited in reading and writing for another week again.  That is the hard part!  My husband downloaded a book, The Escape From Auschwitz, by Joel C. Rosenberg, for me to listen to on Audible after the first surgery.  I am half way through the book.  It is quite an interesting and intriguing book.  I will again be listening to the book for the next couple of days.  I then hope to have a successful recovery and be back to reading and writing again soon.

Since I can't bend from the waist, or do strenuous activity for at least a week after the surgery, it is good for me that we have snow and cold weather.  By the time the sun appears again, I hope to be out in the yard planting more flowers and plants and hoping I just not planting things  for the bunnies and deer love to eat.  

Saturday, April 9, 2016

I Am Against the Land Swap Proposed by the Broadmoor

It is rare for me to use my blog as a place for political action or political views.  I am very passionate about a land swap that has been proposed by the Broadmoor Hotel to the City of Colorado Springs. If you live in Colorado Springs, I urge you to write Mayor Suthers on this matter.  I also urge you to sign the petition linked below this letter.

Dear Mayor Suthers,

I am a third generation native of Colorado Springs.  My grandfather on my father’s side came here in 1908 to work for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.  My great-grandparents on my father’s mother’s side settled in the Florence area as early as 1889.  On my mother’s side, her great-grandmother was in Colorado Springs within just a few years of its founding.  My mother’s father, came to live with his grandmother within a few years after his grandmother arrived, around 1893.  Needless to say, my roots go deep in this community.  

My father, William (Bill) French, was born in Glockner Hospital one hundred years ago on April 11, 1916. During his early childhood he lived on the west side of Colorado Springs.  The neighborhood where he grew up in his earliest years was razed to build some of I25.  When he was around ten years old, my grandparents bought a home at 823 E. Boulder, which was the family home until the 1980’s.  My father grew up going to Columbia School, North Junior High School, and Colorado Springs High School.  When he graduated from high school, he attended Colorado College and worked at Busy Corner Drugstore.  During the war years, after he had married and started a family, he purchased a home at 924 E. Boulder.  This was my childhood home.  Just before I was born, and just before he left for World War II duty, he went to work for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad as a clerk.  My grandfather, A.M. French, was a telegrapher for the D&RG RR and had been since 1908.  So, not only do my roots go deep in Colorado Springs, but they also go deep when it comes to General Palmer’s railroad.  I am a railroader’s daughter.  For that I am extremely proud.

 A lover of Colorado Springs, her beauty, and her history, my father would take us on long rides every weekend showing us the town, the land, and the area that he considered our heritage and our legacy.  He was a storyteller, and oh how I wish I could remember those stories.  I think we all could benefit from hearing the stories my father and his uncles could tell us about Colorado Springs.  

During the time the Air Force Academy was built, my father was assigned as a loss inspector for the railroad and it was his task to inspect all the building supplies that were shipped to the Academy by rail. Since my father was able to have a bird’s eye view of watching the Academy be built from the ground up, he wanted to share that historical time with us by taking us on rides up to the area every few weeks so we could see the progress being made.  Those are treasured memories.

During this same time, and after, my father was involved with the Colorado Springs Planning Committee.  I am not sure of the exact dates when he served on this committee.  I only know of how much he wanted to preserve what he thought made Colorado Springs the wonderful place that it was.  He was against anything that took away from the natives having access to public lands that had been bequeathed to the city.  He believed that we had a duty to honor General Palmer’s views of preserving the beauty of Colorado Springs.  He did not want developers of any type to destroy the natural beauty of Colorado Springs.  He believed we could have growth while also preserving our natural treasures and keeping them open for the general public.  It was then the public’s duty to keep these treasures of land safe.  Whenever we went for picnics in The Bluffs or in the Garden of the Gods, we had to form a human chain just before we left so that we picked up every piece of garbage, paper, cigarette butts, or bottle caps we might find in our path.  We were taught to leave things and places better than we found them.  We were taught to leave no or little footprint when we were in the places of nature that surrounded Colorado Springs or in other part of our beloved Colorado.

My father worked with and for Mr. Thayer Tutt, who was director of the D&RG RR.  He would always tell of stories of when he had to go see Mr. Tutt at the Broadmoor.  Mr, Tutt would ask, “Bill, how’s your railroad doing?”  My father would answer with, “I believe it is your railroad, and it is doing well.”  There was a close connection in those days with the holdings of the Broadmoor and the railroad, but I don’t think my father ever saw that as anything that would indicate that the Broadmoor was interested in a what many would call today a “land grab.”  The Broadmoor was a local treasure and enjoyed by her citizens, just as so many other showplaces of Colorado Springs were.

It was in the 80’s, after my father retired, that the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad was changed forever.  That was when Phil Anschutz, a man who owned "more land than any other private citizen in the United States” bought the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad.  It broke my father’s heart because he saw it as a way for the new owner of the railroad  to access some of the most valuable land in Colorado.  He knew the railroad was a good as dead when this deal for Anshutz to purchase the railroad was over.  He was right.

Some of us are not fooled by the transaction called a land swap. I see this as one more way for Phil Anschutz to acquire another piece of Colorado for his empire.  My father was not one to mince words; neither am I.  I think the winner in this swap is not the people of Colorado Springs.  The winner is the Broadmoor and Phil Anschutz.  I urge you to stand on the side of the people of the town whom elected you by making sure this land swap never happens. I urge you to keep Strawberry Fields as an undeveloped area owned by the City of Colorado Springs to be treasured and loved by, and enjoyed by her citizens.  I urge you to stand against corporate gain that may drive small businesses out of business.  I urge you to stand with the “little guy” that doesn’t have power in city politics.  I urge you to listen to the taxpayers of this town who do not wish to have a land swap of a piece of land that should remain in the City of Colorado Spring’s possession and under her protection.  

Yesterday, as I parked my car near what was once know as Busy Corner, Tejon and Pikes Peak, and I crossed Pikes Peak heading south on Tejon, my eyes drifted to where the magnificent Chief Theater and Burn Building once stood.  As I looked at that empty space that is covered with a parking lot, I was reminded of a conversation my father had with Mayor Larry Ochs back in the seventies.  My father was in Colorado Springs visiting after he had been transferred to Grand Junction to serve as Superintendent of the Western Slope of the D&RG RR.  As the two visited, Mayor Ochs asked my father what he thought of all the changes in Colorado Springs.  My father’s reply was, “I think Colorado Springs is becoming a kleenex town.”  Mayor Ochs asked for clarification, “A kleenex town.  What do you mean?”  My father’s reply was so indicative of his wit, his ability to use great metaphors, his love of Colorado Springs, and his disappointment over the loss of historic buildings and spaces, “Yes, a kleenex town.  You use it once, then you throw it away.”

Mayor Suthers, I urge you not to throw away Strawberry Fields.  Making a land swap with the Broadmoor Hotel for this property would bad for the citizens of Colorado Springs, for those whom may wish to visit our city in the future, and for wildlife.  Again, I urge you to remember not to throw this property away by making a deal that is not in our best interests.  Remember my father’s kleenex analogy when you ponder this decision.  Vote against the swap.  


Sally L. Wessely

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Remembrance - Julie

Julie, my bi-centennial baby, would turn 40 this year.
4 - 8 - 16
multiples of four mark Julie's 40th birthday.

I try to imagine what Julie would be like at 40.
I asked Amy what she thought she would be like.
"She'd be the same," she said.

I had a dream not long ago about Julie.
In my dream, someone asked how old Julie was.
I said,
"She has no age.
She is ageless.
She now belongs to the ages."

Julie is no longer bound by time.
She is timeless.

We, in this earthly realm are still bound by time.
We, in her family, mark time by such remarks as:
"Julie would be 40 if she were alive."
"Julie has been gone nearly six years."
"I saw 8:08 on the clock today and thought of Julie."

Time has moved on since our dear Julie left our midst, but she is never far from our minds.
She remains so very dear to our hearts.
She lives on in our memory.

On her birthday, we celebrate the life that blessed our lives when Julie was born.

When Julie turned 33, I wrote a blog post about her birth and early years on our private family blog.
On Facebook that year, I wrote, "Julie celebrates her birthday tomorrow."
She responded with this:
did i get a 17 paragraph blog post smile emoticon

Seventeen paragraphs would not begin to describe Julie.

In my memorial service tribute, I tried to describe Julie this way:

Julie, my free-spirit with a soul that was as rich, full-bodied and interesting as her hair, was born on a spring morning on April 8, 1976. My springtime pixie, born while the daffodils were in full bloom entered this life like a fire cracker during the bicentennial year of our nation’s birth. She seemed to be all sunshine and laughter as a young child.

Julie had such a sense of fun throughout her entire life.

That impish quality that was so evident in her early life was a quality she always had.

She was clever.
She had such wit.
And her cleverness allowed her to be quite creative in most things she did in life.

She was energetic.
She loved to dance, to hike, to ski, to run.
She ran marathons and was on the track team in high school.

She was playful, spontaneous, active, dynamic, enthusiastic, graceful, outgoing, and adventuresome.

Julie was nurturing.
She love babies and children.
Babies and children loved her.
She loved being an auntie.

Reading with Hannah

Julie was smart, imaginative, logical.
She was a very hard worker and was a valued employee.
She earned a B.A. in English.
She loved to read.
Her favorite author was most likely Virginia Woolf.

She kept journals.
She liked to write and was an excellent writer.

Julie was interesting, friendly, inventive, logical, confident, and big hearted.

She loved being with family.

Julie loved her dog Phoenix.

Julie had such style.
She had good taste in decorating, and in dressing.
Clothes always looked good on her slim, athletic body.
Julie modeling my old coat from the 70's
Julie had great friends 

Julie & Jason
Julie was courageous.
When she was eighteen she had her first bout with severe depression.
She fought a battle with depression her entire adult life.
Her mood disorder caused her to be
moody, distant, troubled, detached, insecure.
Many never knew how much she suffered from depression.
At times she could be so annoying.
Her moods were overwhelming to her and others.

Still, she showed up.
She was independent, and wise, and trustworthy.

Julie had such physical strength and balance.
She always seemed to be the one we leaned into for balance in family dynamics,
or when we decided to kick up our heels in fun.

I always think of her as the lynchpin.

On the day that would have been Julie's 40th birthday,
I want to remember her as she has always been to me:
my beautiful springtime pixie.

My heart broke when she left us.
It will always be broken.
Between the broken pieces in my heart, my love for her, and her love for me, allows me to   remember clearly and  see her beautiful blue eyes and her smile.

I think of her sense of fun and of whimsy.
I remember her wise beyond her years intelligence.

I remember her arm around my shoulder.
I remember the special bond that we had.

I am blessed because 
Julie Ann Christiansen
was a special gift God sent to me on
on a beautiful spring day in April when the daffodils were blooming
forty years ago today. 

My life was so enriched because she graced my life.
She remains my treasured daughter.