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With dwindling opportunities to write individual greetings for Christmas and the New Year I have, like so many of my relatives, friends and colleagues, succumbed to the lure of the annual newsy letter to be posted on my website.

It has been a long while since Sylvia and I have sent out special messages to everyone but it seems that the older we get the less time we have to pursue everything we would like to accomplish.

I can no longer remember the exact dates, and now even the exact year, as the days slip by so quickly that exactness seems less significant...only that certain events happen that impact our lives that give us reason for celebration and/or consternation.

Some of the more memorable do include the four "procedures" on my body parts that tended to slow me down...temporarily. A TURP, gall bladder and nose polyp removals and migrating kidney stones. However, having been near-sighted all my life I can now see at a distance like a 4 power scope, offset by having to have reading glasses for everything else. We are finding that compromises come daily and feeding habits are often dictated by what we need vs. what we desire, e.g. I can no longer partake of one of my favorite foods, chili, even in the "mild" form. Sylvia is one of the healthiest latter middle-age persons around sticking to all the best recommended "live longer" diets and keeping her weight just right. She has had an encounter with vertigo but has been to a rehab specialist and faithfully does her exercises and is much better.

We continue to put out bird seed and water and while it was a very good late spring and early summer we are very dry again). The deer are drinking all the water in the bird "bath" almost every night and eating any of the green grass exposed after my weeding around the house. We had several pair of Scaled Quail coming in during the summer and one pair had 24 (a full 2 dozen!) chicks but have not been back recently. Our resident Towhees who stay all winter and nest under the porch are still here as well as Juncos, Flickers and a collection of Jays: Shrub, Pinon and a single Steller's. The usual migrants have been through plus an ill-advised very late departure by a Gnatcatcher who should be soaking up some sun much further to the south. It (very difficult to distinguish sex) has been trying to find a companion in its reflection in the door and car windows. I have built a box under the deck just in case it decides to spend the winter. There are about 40 elk on the south end of the ranch and several herds of Pronghorn in the immediate area. This was a good year for the Mule Deer and we are seeing quite a few twin fawns.

Obviously, we are still enjoying living apart from town and having the solitude that affords all of the wildlife in our midst.

To be able to keep all of the amenities and the occupied property I have taken on a new profession. Although I am still in training as I complete my CDL licensing I will be a propane delivery, service, painter and salesperson for Rocky Mountain LP headquartered in Westcliff, CO. They also have offices in Wyoming and in Bolder, Walsenburg and as well as yards in Rye and La Veta, Colorado. It has already been a very good experience being out in the backcountry of the southeastern part of the State and seeing lots of wildlife (including the Bighorns on the way to work) plus learning the history and taking pictures of the incredible scenery and early settlements first-hand. One of the best perks is meeting some really interesting customers/characters. Recently, we were setting a tank and although we had an appointment the residents didn't appear to be home, but just in case they had not heard us approach I looked inside an outbuilding to see if someone was there and, WOW! What I saw were extraordinary watercolors of a variety of species from the refuge they had established on a pristine location at the southwestern base of Greenhorn Peak. It had a log cabin homestead, a creek running through it and a unique house that we later learned had been built by the artist and his wife, Roz. When we went back to hook up the tank for his studio I met Jim McCain who has been recognized many times in numerous venues for his work. He invited me back when I had some time to spend which gave me the chance to connect him and his wife with Jim Richerson, Director of the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center and Linda Crawford, a major sponsor of exhibits for the Pueblo institution. Sylvia and Jim's wife, Judy, joined in the excursion and got to see the fabulous art work, property and the house which had been constructed from salvaged wood from a warehouse in old Pueblo. Roz had made delicious apple pies from their orchard that was a perfect end to a great day.

Not long ago while trying to restore one of the company's propane hot water heaters, "Z" (for Zollie, who recommended me for the job with RMLP) and I met Amos Mace, a bright young man who is in charge of running his father's wood working shop near La Veta. As it turns out it is one of the largest specialty wood suppliers in the country with an 18K sq. ft. sales outlet in Denver. Amos invited us to visit the operations when Selena comes back home briefly in January. Dr. Selena is now Southern California Regional Manager for Reef Check California, a 20 year old firm helping to ensure the long-term sustainability and health of reefs and kelp forests. She coordinates the activities of volunteers and marine biologists doing research along the coastline from northern CA to Baja. Naturally, we are extremely proud of her and her accomplishments.

Bryce and Roxie are now sharing a home in Midland, Michigan with Demar and her husband, Michael and their two children, Vera and the new baby, Oliver. They are all doing well which makes us very happy.

As usual, this turned out much longer than I had planned so will end by wishing everyone a very special holiday season, a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!!!


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