Monday, July 30, 2007

Aspen - part deux

On Monday, Lorraine went to work, leaving me with Sydney, her wonderfully sweet dog. The first two hours of the morning were spent speaking with a client about my next engagement which I would start the day after returning from my trip.

With that out of the way, Sydney and I started off down the path toward the Rio Grande. Sydney knew where she was going but I didn't know to pay attention. We got very lost and ended up walking along in a neighborhood far above the Rio Grande. I could see the river but could not get to it. At last, we made our way down to the river much to both of our relief. Sydney headed in for a drink and to cool off. It is really a dog's life here. There are leash laws and, around the streets, it is good to keep them on leashes so that they are not hit by cars. However, in the many parks and rivers, the dogs run free, sniffing the bums of each other at the beginning of each meeting and then going along their way. No fights, no heavy wrestling, just hellos and acknowledgements - so different than here in CA. After a long and peaceful walk, we ended up at Lorraine's office. I left Sydney and headed up to ACE's, the local enviromental park where I was expecting a wild flower tour. As it turns out, they did not have the tours there and I would have to go back to Maroon Bells or the top of Aspen Mountain or one of various other places to get the tour. By that time, the altitude still wearing on me, I was too tired to deal with it.

I headed off to the gondola on Aspen Mountain. Finding a Starbuck's there, I stopped of for a Mocha. Very expensive. In CA, they are about $3 something. In Aspen, they were $5 something. Nonetheless, it was a nice break. I then went into the ticket center to ask about the Yoga/Hike on Aspen Mountain. They gave me a brochure but otherwise weren't much help. I was beginning to feel a bit like the dirt in the gutter by that time. It was proving very difficult to find any help.

I began to work my way down the streets of town, browsing in shops as I went. I stepped into Helle Hansen to look at their new windbreakers (the lightest material available on the market). They were very nice, light, comfortable but at $100, I thought I would think about it and come back. Normally, I am a Med to Large. There, I was an XL. I asked the girl if they might sell out or if they had good stock and she said that they would not sell out of XLs in Aspen because their customers were not that big! Now I felt like a fat blob of dirt in the gutter!

I left the shop and continued my way down to the tourist center - walking street with the historical buildings. I browsed the tourist kiosk to see if there was anything of interest and the woman there asked if she could help out. I asked about the walking tour of the historical buildings and she became very abusive and told me to look around. All of the buildings around me were historical and didn't I know that Aspen had this history and that - I couldn't catch it all. I was in such shock from the bombardment and high-tailed it away and down the street.

I am pleased to say that things got much better after that. I browsed galleries and met a number of nice owners. Was even given cards and invited to send them samples of my paintings. I found a really nice sweater in another shop and bought some Aspen leaf gold earrings. Was really a tourist at that point! But enjoying it. I finally found my way to the lotion shop that Lorraine had shown me on a previous visit and enjoyed talking with the owner and smelling the many lotions. Of course, I ended up buying some, too.

By that time, it was getting late and I thought that Lorraine might be getting off of work. As I came down the street from my adventures, I saw her and Sydney getting into the car. Just in time. We rode home and enjoyed a nice drink, chocolates and relaxation.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Aspen - beautiful Aspen

In case you didn't guess from my last email, I have been on vacation. My first real vacation in 2 years - one that actually cost money and I got to get on a plane and go somewhere.

I went to the airport with much anticipation since this was my first time since the "quart plastic bags, 3.7 ounce, take your shoes off" rules were put into place. I was so nervous about making it through security. No problem. Everything went off without a hitch and I breezed right through. The flight and connecting flight were both right on time and arrived on time in

I went to Aspen to visit my friend Lorraine. She picked me up at the airport and, after delivering luggage, meeting Sydney (the dog) and a welcome drink, we headed into Aspen for some dinner. Lorraine knows just everyone in town (although she denies it) and I was soon meeting more folks than I could comprehend or remember. We had a wonderful Mexican meal and then headed back to her place for another drink and some of the chocolate I brought from CA.

Saturday dawned bright and early as usual, although it seems that we (or at least I) did not get moving too fast. It was just so relaxing to hang out. We finally headed into town (with Sydney) and made our way through the farmers market, eating chocolate and fudge as we went along. Next, we went into town to see her friend's carpet shop (with their 2 friendly dogs - one a rescue from Turkey) and a few other shops. It was a nice start to the day. After dropping Sydney off, we headed for the animal shelter which was having an open house. It is an amazing place and seems to me that animals would never want to be adopted from there. The cat room looks like a little beachside, foresty hang out. Trees and stuff dominate and they get to run around the whole room while visitors can come in and hang out, too. The dogs aren't restricted to their kennels during the day but rather play out in a big yard with their very own ski gondola and large rock walls that they enjoy running up and down like Mountain Goats. It was a nice day and we headed back to her place. Feeling the effects of the altitude (8,000+ ft), I was a bit tired so we just hung out and relaxed for the evening.

On Sunday, we headed off to Maroon Bells. The "Bells" are a formation of three mountain peaks that look like bells. There is a large lake in colors of green, blue and teal that the path walks along and millions of wild flowers. We had a nice hike (if you don't count the bugs) and even met a deer along the way. I was trying to get a photo but it bolted when I got close enough. We thought it would run away but instead it ran around behind us. I tried to get a photo but it was a blur (even with the shake control feature on my camera). I was loving my new digital camera and trying out the various features along the way. As soon as I figure out how to load the photos to my computer, I will post some here for you to see.

Oh, and one more tidbit on Maroon Bells. It is the photo of Lorraine that I painted for her 50th birthday. The painting is called "Seasons of Change" and you can find it in my photos above (I think). If not, that will get posted later, too. It was pretty cool seeing the place in real life and we had a nice day.

Again, full and tired, we returned to Lorraine's place to relax and hang out for the evening. She also had work the next day so it was only right to give her a little break so she wouldn't be exhausted.

And, that was the first 3 days of my vacation. Over the next few days, I hope to get photos posted and gradually catch up on writing about the rest of the trip.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


It has been a long time - 19 days or thereabouts. I have been so busy. Finished up the assignment from hell which actually turned out well in the end. Then, had a few days (2 weeks) off since there was not a new assignment in the works at that time.

What did I do with my two weeks? Worked with the gardener on my drip system, gardening, pruning, went to the spa for my niece's birthday, had a snack and a drink before heading off to my painting class to paint (ugh!) pears (more on that another time). Then, it was the 4th of July. Did some more gardening with the gardener and stayed in for what turned out to be a relatively quiet evening with the dogs. Fireworks were going off for about 4 hours but Smokey stayed relatively calm and we all watched TV.

After the 4th, the hecticness resumed. Closed the books for ATW, paid bills, did numerous other things too boring to mention or recall, bought a new vacuum cleaner which is awesome on the pet hair and didn't cost an arm and a leg, had my brother working on the shower some more, went to a wine cellar emptying party.

Yoga, farmer's market, steam cleaning the inside of the car, putting in a new drip system and timer for the side yard, lunch with some co-workers, 1/2 price CABI sale to buy some of the clothes I loved but could not afford, sorting out health insurance, paying bills, getting estimate on bodywork for car, talking to tile people for patio, cleaning, dusting, painting class, planning trip to Mt. Rushmore, buying new digital camera, buying other stuff I needed, dropping car off at shop, getting on plane.

Yes, it was a busy 2 weeks and zoomed by. I am now enjoying Aspen and have been hiking everyday. Beautiful trails, beautiful flowers, wildlife. A deer was right in front of us on a trail today and, when we got closer, it didn't run away but, instead, ran around us before running away. The water is rushing and the weather is very warm (shorts and light tops, sandals). It is nice to be away and in such a beautiful place. Yesterday, we went to the new county animal shelter and it is an incredible place. The cats have this very tropical cat room that they wander around and seem to love. The dogs all play together all day out in a rock enclosure with their very own ski gondola and skis! I haven't seen any of them skiing yet. They did enjoy running up the boulders like mountain goats and playing with the visitors and one another. What a happy place for them. Once I figure out this digital camera, I can upload some of the beautiful photos I have taken here.

The good news is that I have received a new assignment and will start when I come back from vacation. I am just loving this new job. The best of both world for me. Work with good pay when I want it and vacations when I want them. Woohoo!

It is hard to believe that last year at this time, I was still in treatment for cancer and, in fact, was still recovering from reconstruction surgery. It really is all a dream now. I met one woman here with breast cancer, my age and diagnosed about the same time. She is incredible and runs the gift store for the animal shelter. She is thinking of reconstruction so I gave her my contact information so she can talk when she is ready to get started. It is amazing and wonderful that I can help others but I feel as if it all never happened. Thank goodness for my wonderful life now.

My soulmate...........here somewhere near............soon.........