MLK, Jr. Day

I taught kindergarten for many years. According to the social studies curriculum in one district in which I taught, kindergartners were to recognize three important U.S. figures–George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. So I did my best to help five- and six-year-olds understand why these men were so important.

It wasn’t an easy task.

Today, I share with you one kindergarten student’s writing. I think he sort of got it. I’m also sharing some art work we did to ensure that the kiddos would always recognize and remember MLK, Jr.’s face.

Enjoy!

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This is what one more minute of daylight will get you

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Travel Theme: Winter

What did you do on the winter solstice? Were you warm and cozy inside, working, or out playing?

My dog had to get out after five straight days and nights of sleeping on my bed (a 120-hour nap!), so we ended up celebrating the Winter Solstice for a few hours in the great outdoors of Western Colorado.

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Nothing like BFF dogs playing in the snow to make you smile. And nothing sillier than a couple of 40-somethings going tubing with one little inner tube. Good times!

These photos are posted for Travel Theme:  Winter.

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!

It’s a Major Award

Major AwardToday I ran a relay marathon; that is, my partner ran the first half and I ran the second half. That’s how you do a marathon when you really are in no shape to do a marathon. I’m not going to go into all the details (but I will go into the more interesting ones) because that’s not the point of this post. The point is [SPOIL ALERT]  I got A MAJOR AWARD.

I know what you’re thinking. I just wrote a couple of blogs about the “I’m not a real runner” quote (https://randeebergen.wordpress.com/2013/10/19/im-not-a-real-runner/ and https://randeebergen.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/real-runners-are-just-that/) and, now, here I am, just a few weeks later, getting A MAJOR AWARD.

The Rimrock Marathon

This event took place in my backyard, up and over the Colorado National Monument. If you are ever passing through the western OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAside of Colorado, you absolutely must take a short detour off I-70 to enjoy this scenic drive. I have run across the Monument a few times, road biked across it, and, of course, driven it, many times, but still, I had to stop and take photos along the way today.

My relay partner, Butch, who recently turned 60, offered to do the first leg of the race. I’ve run this on my own twice, the whole marathon, so I know what the first leg entails–getting bussed to the start, standing around in the cold for an hour, and then, then, four miles of uphill switchbacks followed by another seven or eight of rolling hills. Luckily, the scenery is out of this world.

All of us second-leggers were bussed to the approximate middle of the top of the Colorado National Monument, where we hung out until our partners arrived, pooped and ready to hand over the baton. It was an unseasonably warm November day so we could be out of the bus and watching all the marathoners go by as well as be on the lookout for our relay partners.

Butch Crotchety and the Slowpoke Kid

I waited about two hours before Butch showed up. During that time I drank a (second) Diet Coke, had a peanut butter and honey sandwich and a banana, and made a few trips to the bushes. I hung out with some of my running friends and got to know most of the others doing the downhill leg. And, I cheered for everyone going by. I also got amped up. I’d been awake since 5:00 a.m. and I didn’t start running until 10:25.

My leg of the relay was downhill. Serious downhill. Painful downhill. After six miles of rolling road, I started in on the four miles of steep switchbacks into the valley below. You’re supposed to train for this kind of running, pounding down steep pavement. I didn’t. I didn’t hurt too badly during it–just some localized knee pain that melted away when I hit the last three flat miles–but I’m sure I’ll feel it over the next few days.

Now, you might think that, since I was fresh, I passed a few marathoners along the way, but no. Several marathoners passed me. They were running a faster pace on the full 26.2 miles than I was running on my 14 downhill miles. I know, surprise, surprise.

As I approached the finish, there was Butch, just as I was there as he completed his half. He ran in with me, which was a good thing, 1460112_562664847143970_1716664291_nbecause I was barely moving along at that point. We went immediately to the food and beer because I was starving and had been for the last couple of miles. I got a turkey sandwich, chips, cookies, and hot soup and spread it all out on the table before me. Then I stared at it. For twenty minutes. It is impossible to eat immediately upon finishing a long run like that.

Finally, Butch and I could eat. We chowed down and gained back some strength and visited with others, oblivious that the awards were happening a short ways away.

The Award

Then, one of our local guys ran over and yelled, “Hey, you guys are getting an award. Come on!”

“What?” Of course, I thought it was a joke. But he was grabbing my arm and nudging us along.

It occurred to me, then, that we might be getting an award for the best team name–Butch Crotchety and the Slowpoke Kid.

The announcers were obviously waiting for us to arrive at the awards area. We went up and they repeated what I supposed they had 581263_10151803952186374_86010416_nsaid when we were way out of earshot. “Second place masters co-ed relay!”

Confusion, shock, and elation all on my part. “I’ve never won an award before!” I shouted to the awards people, my partner, the crowd.

“Here, take it,” said Butch, handing me the rock monolith-shaped plaque.

“You don’t want it?”

“Well, if you’ve never won an award before, you darn well better take it. I have plenty of awards.”

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Anyone over the age of 40 is in “Masters” in running, but I’m not sure where that term came from or what exactly it means. You might think that the Masters group is full of old, slow people, but that is most definitely not the case. Some of the fastest runners are Masters and overall winners can easily be in the Masters age group. I always wonder if it means that, since you’re 40, surely you’ve mastered running by now. I, however, didn’t start running until I was 42.

But here’s something I may have mastered–how I can get an award, or at least have a better shot at getting one. Enter an event with a relay. Get a partner. The partner doesn’t need to be Speedy Gonzalez; “it” just needs to be a “he” and he needs to be an old guy (you know, OVER 40). Then, make sure all of my fast women friends partner up with other women, so they won’t be messing up my chances in the co-ed division.

Really, I think it must be that we were both Masters and that we were a male/female team to have gotten A MAJOR AWARD.

Or maybe, maybe, it’s because we were super fast relay marathoners who deserved it. [SPOIL ALERT] Not.

Art, or Maybe Just a Doodle

“Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Come in!”

She’s on her bed, all tucked in, sketch pad on lap, earbuds in.

“Whatcha doing?”

“Drawing.”

“Can I see?”

“Yeah.” She tilts the pad toward me.

“Cool!”

“Yeah, my friend, Nick, had this gel pen, and I wanted to borrow it. He made me promise to draw him something.”

“You mean you’re giving that away?”

“Yep. Tomorrow.”

“Well, let me take a picture of it first. We have to save it in our own little way.”

“Okay.”

A few hours later, she emerges from her room and drops the sketch pad on the kitchen table where I’m sitting, reading the paper.

Alarmed, I scan the surface. It’s not all that often that our kitchen table is crumb- and sticky spot-free. I, myself, would never set anything of importance on this table without checking first.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe she doesn’t consider this an important work of art. She draws a lot. Perhaps it’s just a three-hour doodle to her.

I grab my camera, anxious to get the picture before she changes her mind. She’s known for fluctuating moods.

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“Look at this, Ads, look how neat it looks.” The LCD on my camera magnifies the intensity of every shot. (Still, it looks pretty good here on my laptop screen as well. Each line, in the original work, is one, maybe two, millimeters from the next.)

“Yeah, mom, that’s okay, but this is how I like to photograph this type of art.” She twists the dial to macro, leans down, and angles the camera just so.

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I like it, though it reminds me a bit of how my text messages and other up-close reading material have looked lately. Blurry in spots, blurry at some angles, blurry most days now. I’m hoping I can make do until my vision insurance kicks in on January 1st.

I try Addy’s style of shooting the swirly art, thank her for the photography fun and the opportunity to keep her work. Even if it is, to her, just some doodling.

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My Grand Backyard

I live in the Grand Valley, a wide expanse of western Colorado desert bordered by the canyons and red rock monoliths of the Colorado National Monument to the south; the Grand Mesa (largest mesa in the world), with an elevation of 11,000 feet to the east; and, to the north, the 200 mile long Bookcliff Range. And, as if that weren’t enough, the Colorado River carves a path through this valley on its way to Utah and beyond.

Each of these gems–the desert, the Monument, the Mesa, the river–is a unique portion of my vast backyard into which I can step and lose myself at any time. Early mornings, trail running in the dark. Blazing hot days tempered by a float down the river. Strenuous climbs, with breathtaking views of the valley below. Time in the snowy desert on a sunny winter afternoon. And, like this past weekend, a hike to another world, though it is right there, right out there in my backyard.

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What’s in your backyard?

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