Beginning

Let’s see beginning through your lens! (Weekly Photo Challenge)

As a kindergarten teacher for more than a decade, I got to see many students’ early attempts at writing. The way five- and six-year-olds use sound-letter correspondence, express their ideas and knowledge, and write with no concern of being judged was always inspiring.

I hope you enjoy these writing samples, which show how empowering literacy is and the beginning of the understanding of this: What I think, I can say; what I say, I can write; what I write can be read by others.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: ONE

This week’s photo challenge is ONE.

005It looks as if I photoshopped this leaf onto a white background, doesn’t it? Nothing too exciting.

009But this lone leaf was actually on my sunroof one gloomy late fall day. It looks as if it may have been the last to fall from my five tall elms.

010Now you can see that the first photo is just a close up of this one leaf taken from a slightly different angle.

I hope you like this interpretation of ONE. I can’t wait to see what others come up with. The Weekly Photo Challenges are such fun!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Community

This week’s Photo Challenge is Community.

As I browsed through my photo files for different ways in which the theme of community could be interpreted, I kept coming back to this set of photos from a day of building trail. Not only was this a community effort, but it was done in the spirit of improving our community and its exceptional system of trails.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACOPMOBA (Colorado Plateau Mountain Biking Association) organized the event. They plan and build most of the trails out here on the Western Slope of Colorado. I’m not a big mountain biker, but I, like many others around here, use these same trails for hiking and trail running, so it made sense for me to help build some new trail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe were divided into three groups and given a quick lesson on how to hike with tools in our hands.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe hiked to the end of a new trail, which was built a few months earlier. Our task was to create about a quarter-mile more of trail to intersect with an already existing trail from a much older trail system.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbove, we are at the spot where we’ll start making trail and are getting a lesson on how exactly to do that.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThat’s me, above, loosening a huge slab of rock for the guys.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt took us about three hours to move prickly pear cactus, huge rocks, and other obstacles and to smooth out the new path with rakes. Below, you can see the finished trail, which will become more evident as bikers and hikers use it and pack it down.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was a great day of community effort to make our community even more desirable and special. Let’s hear it for community!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand (2)

This week’s photo challenge is GRAND and though I’ve already posted once, I must post again, for I live in the GRAND VALLEY with the GRAND RIVER (changed to the Colorado River in 1921) running through it, the incredibly grand Colorado National Monument to the south, and the 10,000 foot GRAND MESA (largest mesa in the entire world) directly to the east.

The Grand Valley, in the fall, with Mt. Garfield on the left and the Grand Mesa in the distance.

The Grand Valley, in the fall, with Mt. Garfield on the left and the Grand Mesa in the distance.

My daughters and friends climbing Mt. Garfield, high above the Grand Valley.

My daughters and friends climbing Mt. Garfield, high above the Grand Valley.

Another view of our Grand Valley, with the vineyards and peach orchards in the foreground.

Another view of our Grand Valley, with the vineyards and peach orchards in the foreground.

This view of the Grand Valley was taken from the incredibly grand Colorado National Monument.

This view of the Grand Valley was taken from the incredibly grand Colorado National Monument.

Taken from the Colorado National Monument, with Independence Monument in the foreground and the Grand Valley beyond.

Taken from the Colorado National Monument, with Independence Monument in the foreground and the Grand Valley beyond.

Following my dog down the Colorado River, which was formerly the Grand River. It starts high in the Rockies at Grand Lake.

Following my dog down the Colorado River, which was formerly the Grand River. It starts high in the Rockies at Grand Lake.

The Grand Valley from Powderhorn Ski Area on the Grand Mesa.

The Grand Valley from Powderhorn Ski Area on the Grand Mesa.

Cross country ski trails on the Grand Mesa.

Winter splendor on the Grand Mesa.

Lake kayaking at 10,000 feet on the Grand Mesa.

Lake kayaking at 10,000 feet on the Grand Mesa.

My daughter snowshoeing across Island Lake on the Grand Mesa.

My daughter snowshoeing across Island Lake on the Grand Mesa.

Fall colors on the Grand Mesa.

Fall colors on the Grand Mesa.

Life is grand here in the Grand Valley. So lucky to live and play here!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Grand

This week’s photo challenge is GRAND.

If you want to grasp the grandiosity of the Rocky Mountains, all you have to do is climb a 14er (a 14,000 foot plus peak) and take a look around.

These photos are from Mt. Sneffels (14,150 ft.) in September 2011.

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And these, from Handies Peak (14,048 ft.) in September 2012.

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Sharing these photos makes me realize I need to go climb some more mountains!

Other interpretations of GRAND can be found here.

Travel Theme: Symbol

“I’ve been sitting here listening to tributes pour in from world leaders for Nelson Mandela and the word I hear used over and over is symbol – a symbol of peace, freedom, humility, unity, transformation and hope. As a tribute to an extraordinary man and a life well lived, let’s give the week over to all things symbolic.”

After reading the words above, from Where’s My Backpack?, I immediately thought of my Christmas tree and the ornaments that hang upon it, most of which represent some traveling I’ve done in life, whether an actual vacation or a trip through a certain phase in life.

MusicThe sheet music ornament represents all of the time and energy devoted to learning to read and make music. And this particular hymn–Silent Night–is always the last hymn, sung by candlelight, at Christmas Eve services. So many memories of looking to the left, looking to the right, down the pew and sharing a special moment with my family members, during my childhood, my young adult life, and in recent years with my own children and my ever-expanding extended family.

BootThe boot represents growing up in Wyoming, all of my years with horses and other assorted animals.

BoatThis little ornament is a near perfect replica of the 22-foot Starcraft boat from my childhood. Going to the lake most summer weekends was what our family did. Major sunburns (these were the baby oil years), hours of waterskiing, chasing lizards on the beach, and scary afternoon storms made for some great times.

TeacherThis one is for all my years of teaching and all the teacher ornaments I’ve received as gifts. Ornaments trump coffee mugs for me, any year.

FishI lived in Denver for 15 years and across the street was this wonderful family from Pakistan. Their home was filled with beautiful Middle Eastern decor. Javed cooked the most amazing food and loved nothing more than sitting off to the side, sipping Scotch, and watching others enjoy what he had made. This fish reminds me of our neighbors and represents diversity.

Baby ShoesCeramic baby shoes. First daughter, first baptism, words of love written on the soles from the aunt.

Baby ShoeA toddler’s Christmas shoe, that of my second daughter.

DaughtersThis is one of my favorites to hang every year.

Balloons and TentOver the years, as my daughters have grown, I’ve collected ornaments from some of the places we’ve traveled to. This is from the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, the largest in the world with about 750 hot air balloons. Behind it is a miniature tent, a symbol of our love of camping.

BasketballThe basketball represents the girls’ early years when they dabbled in a lot of different sports–dance, softball, soccer, basketball, skiing, snowboarding, swim team.

AlaskaA five-week road trip to Alaska. Before kids.

DisneylandRoad trip to Vegas, San Diego, and Disneyland.

ViolinSeveral years of Suzuki violin lessons. I should have picked up the instrument myself, since I attended every one of the girls’ lessons and had most of the pieces memorized, at least in my mind.

HikerA symbol of my love for hiking.

CardinalThe Cardinal, though it’s missing a wing now, reminds me of my mother and addressing Christmas cards. My mom always said that the cardinal was her favorite bird and the holiday cards she bought often had a cardinal on them. She wrote an annual Christmas letter and sent out about 50 cards. Each year I’d watch her address the envelopes and admire her pretty, even handwriting. One year, she handed the task over to me. I sat at the kitchen table, honored to be trusted with such an important job, while she worked in the kitchen and simultaneously taught me how to use titles, such as Dr. and Mrs. So-and So, write addresses properly, and keep the address book organized and up-to-date. I also learned how everyone was related to us and how she had met all of her fiends over the years. I did my own Christmas letter with beautifully addressed envelopes for many years, until I started keeping up with everyone on Facebook.

Angel of CourageThis is the Angel of Courage. She had a prominent spot on the first Christmas tree I had after leaving my husband. It took a lot of courage to take that step and she reminds me of how difficult that process was, but mostly of how liberating it was.

KokopelliThis half marathon medal has a likeness of Kokopelli. It represents not only running and the friends I’ve made from this activity, but also the desert Southwest, some of my favorite terrain to explore and camp in.

Flip FlopsHere we have a pair of flip-flops from a trip to Maui with my sister. And behind them, a triathlon medal. I started running and doing triathlons about five years ago.

D.C.Trip to Washington, D.C. with my sister.

TetonsA bear in a tent and the words Grand Tetons. I got married on the shore of Jackson Lake at the base of the Grand Tetons. And Grand Teton National Park is where we have our family reunion each summer. I am blessed that we all get along so well and look forward to gathering in this incredibly special setting each year.MarathonThis medal is so big and heavy that it almost doesn’t work as a Christmas tree ornament. I make it happen though because it is a symbol of my first marathon–a huge accomplishment for me–ran in Tampa, Florida.

Aspen LeafThe golden aspen leaf is a symbol of my state, Colorado.

My Christmas tree ornaments are souvenirs and reminders of places I’ve been and journeys I’ve taken in life. Each year, as I hang them on the tree, I reflect on my travels and experiences in life.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There be Light

This week’s photo challenge is light, specifically including the light source in the photo rather than outside of it.

To me, the lights in this scene represent either relief or fear of the unknown. Is that my friend coming down the trail or a stranger? It reminds me of a movie scene, maybe a war movie, in which the lights emerge first from the swirling dust of the dusk and there are a few apprehensive seconds before I know if they are enemy lights or friendly lights. And is that a weapon in his hand? But just behind the lights, breaking out of the dust now, is everything else–the ATV, the familiar shape of Jim, his cell phone, and, yes, our dogs running alongside the ATV. Relief and a smile overcome me.

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To see more photos in this week’s photo challenge:

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Let There Be Light

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