A Photo Life Review: Adventures with Laura!

Dad Laura Diane and John small January 1961

Dad and the kids.  The junior world explorer is in red, 1961

Recently I have been on a protracted trip down memory lane. Last night I started looking at all of my photo books, that’s six thick albums! I’m slowly working up to possibly reading my many volumes of journals back to age 14.

original_photo_Thailand_1973cropped[1] (2)

Near the Bridge on the River Kwai, northern Thailand 1973

As I viewed many old photos, one thing struck me. I seem to have forgotten exactly how adventurous my life has been. From 18 on I traveled the world. I started out in Mexico, Bangkok and northern Thailand, then spent months in Taiwan and Hong Kong, traveled up through Malaysia from Singapore, and right before we moved here, the Andes and Cuenca in Ecuador.

Cuenca washing clothes in the Rio Tomba

Yes! Women still wash clothes in the Tomebamba River in Cuenca Ecuador!

Wuzhou

Once, before China was officially open to American tourism, I took a trip up the Pearl River in southern China on what I called “the People’s Ferry.” We arrived in Wuzhou, what appeared to be a town made of mud, and much to our surprise there were PRC government officials there to escort us onto a bus to Guilin, but not before the citizens of Wuhan surrounded us to point and exclaim, “What is that? A foreign ghost!” They had never seen a European or American before.

caribbean blueI visited the Caribbean a number of times, and did a couple island-hopping sails with my first husband, a windsurf instructor and sailboat captain from USVI St. John…

Canyonlands

Locally I started out at Colorado College on a backpacking trip to Canyonlands my freshman year. Half of us got lost and I did flyovers with the rangers until my friends were found. Unfortunately the rangers mixed up our names and called my parents saying I was lost, a fact NOT appreciated by my parents. I then spent years exploring Colorado and Utah. So many hikes, backpacking, ski and river trips.

My first professional library job was in Salt Lake City. Luckily I found the BEST group of friends there, including Roy Webb, who took us on a number of fantastic week-long river trips on the Dolores, the Green, the Colorado, Desolation Canyon, etc. He has been a famous river runner for decades now, and the author of many books about river history.

My first husband pretty much insisted that we go hiking, skiing or backpacking most weekends. Those trips included a number of trips to southern Utah like one memorable backpacking trip down into Escalante Canyon to enjoy “some of the most outstanding hiking opportunities to be found on earth.”

sking

I climbed a few fourteeners in my time, and skied from I-70 up to Shrine Pass (11,089 feet) and then into the tiny town of Minturn twice. I never forgot the glisten of fresh snow on that eleven mile trek.

Mtns and wildflowers

So many great memories, so many wild times…

Now I see how fortunate I was to tackle these physical challenges while I could still breathe well above 7,000 feet. I’ve had bronchitis regularly for decades and in some of the most exotic places! With a recent diagnosis of COPD, alas those days are gone. So happy I spent my youth exploring the world near and far when I could handle long flights, driving long distances and the general risk and chaos of getting off the beaten path.

Mike at home

Now I find myself  in this lovely “soft place to fall” with Mike and Rasta, where I can appreciate how profoundly fortunate I am to have done most of what I wanted to do for most of my life, and I even enjoyed most of it!

Advertisements

Walsenburg and La Veta, a tale of division between two great Colorado towns

Walsenburg city limits signEver since we decided to move down here to southern Colorado in late 2013, I have been studying these two towns. Although only 16 miles or twenty minutes apart, they do differ greatly in style and substance. When we moved here to rent, while building our solar home in Navajo Ranch, I preferred to live in La Veta, but it cost so much more than Walsenburg, that we were happy to find a very hard-to-locate rental near downtown Walsenburg.

Yes, I did have a hard time adjusting to life in Walsenburg. The best way to describe my feeling was culture shock. Coming from a thriving and popular city like Fort Collins, I felt initially let down. And yet what I eventually discovered is that what I found most different here, like few traffic lights or traffic, felt both strange and better. I mean who wants to spend the rest of their life standing in line in traffic? I did struggle at first with the lack of places to buy anything besides groceries. My other difficulty was making real connections with town people. I found most friendly, but also quite hesitant to welcome strangers into their life.

View of La Veta valley from highway

One day when I felt lonely in our first summer in Walsenburg, I drove over to La Veta to shop and hopefully meet new people. There I found most folks I met more friendly and open to talking to a stranger. I felt like I fit in a bit better. Eventually I started attending exercise classes in La Veta and made a few friends that way. As I spent more time with “La Veta people” I learned that they rarely went to Walsenburg for anything except groceries. Most knew very little about the small town 16 miles east of them. I also learned that La Veta people are much more likely to go elsewhere in the winter, usually to warmer climes.

Because we live halfway between Walsenburg and La Veta we must choose which way to go whenever we need something. Now that my La Veta friends have left for the winter, I feel more motivated to get to know more Walsenburg people and a recent “Lunch & Learn” put on by the Spanish Peaks Business Alliance seems to be pushing me in that direction.

Here is my dilemma: Why do most of the people in Walsenburg not hang out with La Veta people? There seems to be some sort of great divide between these two towns, which I don’t understand or appreciate. I believe the folks in these two towns could really help each other out if they would start working together to improve the economies of both towns. Those of us who are relatively new here notice this ‘great divide’ more than the locals. I would love to do something about it.

There must be some way to get a grassroots movement going to introduce Walsenburg people to La Veta people so we can all work together for the common good!

memoir of retirement 2016Please feel free to check out my memoir about choosing to leave a lively, popular Colorado city behind (Fort Collins) to move to rural southern Colorado. We built a passive solar home for our retirement and love it! So many feelings when you make a major life change like this! This book is available in paper or e-book through Amazon or direct from me at: MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

Cranberry Nut Bread

Now for something completely different…

I have always enjoyed fixing meals. What’s new is my love of baking. I find that I can change old recipes into semi-healthy alternatives so I can enjoy them instead of store-bought varieties whose main ingredient is almost always sugar.

I’ve been making this recipe since 1976, when I got it from a boyfriend’s Mom. She said I might want to learn how to make it for him. Him I got rid of decades ago, but his Mom’s recipe lives on!

Cranberry Nut Bread

Cranberry Nut Bread from Kent’s Mom

2 cups white flour & 2 cups whole wheat flour

3 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup sugar OR 4 packets of stevia plus 1/2 cup brown sugar

2 cups cranberries OR use one whole bag

1/2 cup chopped nuts

2 eggs beaten well

1 and 1/2 cups orange juice

5 Tbsp. melted butter

Sift all dry ingredients together. Add cranberries and nuts. Mix well. Add eggs and OJ mixture and mix until all ingredients are moist. Bake in 2 greased loaf pans at 350 degrees for one hour. Check with toothpick after 55 minutes.

Fight Hate with Love

Have you ever considered the power of hate versus the power of love? Which do you believe to be stronger? In a nation where it is not so unusual for parishioners to be shot down in their own church or synagogue because of their beliefs, this can become a serious dilemma. How many Jews have died for their beliefs in the history of mankind?

If I were the president today, I would recommend a day of reflection for our country, a day to reflect on how hate and violence have become far too common. We might also reflect on who we are as a people and who we aspire to be as a nation.

Hatefulness is not the way to greatness, for a person or a nation.

In this season of nastiness and negativity, better known as election time, stop and notice who the haters are. Who has the most nasty and negative ads to represent the way they see their opponent and their world? Stop and think about how this reflects on their character. We already have a nasty, negative president who apparently enjoys disparaging more than half of us for not supporting his policies or his way of running our country. Do you want others to join him in embarrassing us around the world?

peace symbol

Let us instead meditate on love and peace around the world. Peace for the families who have lost so much in this most recent act of hatred and violence. Peace to those who know not what they have done…

 

Local Talk by Me!

Mike on old tree up at build site 2014

MIKE NEXT TO ONE OF OUR FAVORITE TREES!

I would like to invite any of you who live here locally, to my presentation at the La Veta Public Library this Thursday at 2PM. My theme is “What’s it like to move here?” We can discuss the ins and outs of moving to rural Colorado, how passive solar works, and anything else that comes up!

Do beliefs about climate change depend on how old you are, your education level or “groupthink”?

I will never forget a discussion I had over ten years ago with a woman in her eighties at the Senior Center in Fort Collins. She said climate change was bull and I said just wait. Then I realized and said to her, “Of course you’re not as concerned about climate change. You won’t be around to see what happens, but what about your children and grandchildren?” I’m certain that woman is dead now.

UN report on climate change 2018

SOURCES FOR THE NEW UNITED NATION REPORT ON GLOBAL WARMING

UN Climate change report-october 2018-Today I did the research on this topic. Please go check out this survey that describes concerns about climate change in the United States between 2015 and 2018, by age group. During this period, over 51 percent of adults between 18 and 34 years of age agreed that global climate change will pose a serious threat. Of those over 55, less than one third felt climate change was a serious concern in their future.  Now let’s ask the thousands of victims of Hurricane Michael. Why was this the first storm to hit this area in decades and why did it’s intensity increase when it headed out over the land?

Further research suggests:

“Climate change believers are generally younger, more educated, have more money, and are non-white (which means skeptics are generally older, less educated, and white). But all these factors are only weakly associated with climate change beliefs… Instead, political affiliation – Democrat, Independent, or Republican – strongly predicted climate change belief, such that Democrats are more likely to believe in climate change than Republicans…

This might suggest that groupthink, the psychological effect of similar thinking to maintain conformity to a group, guides climate change attitudes, not just ideology alone.” “Understanding Climate Change Skeptics” in Nature Education

Who voted for Donald Trump? A Cohort Study

After our 2016 election, I became determined to understand why Americans found a billionaire, real estate mogul, reality show candidate so attractive as our next president. This did not compute for me. What about this 70-year-old, obviously sexist and racist candidate spoke to so many Americans? In the midst of listening to the popular music of the 1960s this week I finally got it. This music reminded me of what was happening in our country in the mid- to late 1960s, something I hadn’t thought about in years.

First of all, let me explain what a cohort study is. Wikipedia defines it as:

“A cohort study is a particular form of longitudinal study that samples a cohort (a group of people who share a defining characteristic, typically those who experienced a common event in a selected period)…”

My best example is a study I learned about when I was pursuing a Master’s degree in history. It theorized and then proved that many of the children from Germany in WWI lost their fathers and consequently found themselves seeking a strong, authoritarian father figure as they grew up. This they found in Adolf Hitler. They found meaning and purpose in the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Party.

Back to the Trump cohort. I began to think about the recent history of our country, and the revolution we experienced in the 60s, a real revolt against the Vietnam War, racist and sexist attitudes, and powerful men who thought they could tell us what to do without our permission. Note the impeachment of Richard Nixon who resigned in 1974.

Vietnam_War_protestors_at_the_March_on_the_Pentagon

“Opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War began with demonstrations in 1964 against the escalating role of the U.S. military in the Vietnam War and grew into a broad social movement over the ensuing several years. This movement informed and helped shape the vigorous and polarizing debate, primarily in the United States, during the second half of the 1960s and early 1970s on how to end the war. By 1967, according to Gallup Polls, an increasing majority of Americans considered U.S. military involvement in Vietnam to be a mistake.”

I began to see how the 1960s peace movement tended to include educated college students and their elders: “Opposition grew with participation by the African-American civil rights, women’s liberation, and Chicano movements, and sectors of organized labor. Additional involvement came from many other groups, including educators, clergy, academics, journalists, lawyers, physicians, and war veterans.”  Source: Wikipedia

This revolution left out most poor and uneducated Americans who didn’t go to college or revolt. The men were sent to Vietnam. Trump was also apparently left out. He attended the New York Military Academy and the Wharton School during the Vietnam War protests.

“After graduating from college in the spring of 1968, Trump was eligible to be drafted and sent to Vietnam. Instead he received a diagnosis that would change his path: bone spurs in his heels. This diagnosis resulted in a coveted 1-Y medical deferment that fall, exempting him from military service as the United States was undertaking huge troop deployments to Southeast Asia, inducting about 300,000 men into the military that year. The deferment was one of five Mr. Trump received during Vietnam. The others were for education.” The New York Times

In 1968 Trump began his career working for his father in real estate, blissfully unaware of a war half a world away that killed over 58,000 Americans and caused permanent physical and mental disabilities in thousands more.

Vietnam vets account for at least one quarter of homeless Americans today.

My theory, and I find statistics do back this up, is that those who went to Vietnam or went straight into jobs in trades like coal mining and factory jobs, felt left out and let down by an ever expanding economy and higher education rates. They may have felt like losers for not getting better careers, because of their lack of education and connections. Statistics show how financial insecurity played a role in attracting Trump voters, but education levels mattered more than income levels. 

“I love the poorly educated,” Trump famously said after winning the Nevada Caucuses in February, 2016. Apparently, for many of those voters, Trump offered them a chance to not feel like a loser for the first time in a long time.

He relates to those who missed out on the 60s revolution and higher education, training that teaches us to respect scientific data when it warns us of warming oceans and catastrophic hurricanes.

“Clinton gained over 8 percentage points on Obama’s 2012 performance in the 50 best educated counties, but lost over 11 points in the 50 least educated counties.” Seven Surprising Graphics About Trump Voters

I find this cohort explanation satisfactory to explain that both the older, wealthy Americans who fear losing their wealth, and the uneducated who have felt like losers in this ever-expanding global economy, not to mention the purely fascist, racist segment, elected this president.