A Song of Fire and Ice

This post is not about a bunch of people killing each other for the dubious honor of ruling over a bunch of people worth killing.   It’s about one the more neglected seasons.   Some places have just four season, some have lesser known seasons like tough sledding, road construction, rainy and hot/rainy seasons,  bug season, etc.

In most places summer means hot weather and the sort of common hot weather activities, like picnics, baseball. etc.  But here in Colorado, summer often means fire season.   We had major fires right near this town 4 years ago, when the fire got to within 3 miles of my house and you could see it burning from the front window.  Three years ago the fires were on the northern edge of town, so it was not as terrifying to me.

I took no pictures at all of the giant billowing plumes of smoke because I did not want to remember it.   Smoke blotted out the sun and what sunlight filtered through the black smoke had a strange orange color.   It smelled horrible and bits of burned trees and houses floated through the air for miles.   But the fire doesn’t have to be right here to cause an effect.

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This fire was about 100 miles away.   It had been cause by lightning rather than careless campers, arsonists or park rangers (like the Hayman fire).  The wind was blowing from the south and it filled up the valleys around the mountain.

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In just a few moments it obscured the mountain.   Miss P and I were out to dinner, and by the time we left you couldn’t see the mountain at all.   But by the next day the wind had shifted and everything was fine.   Although the fire is still burning it is considered to be contained.

Summer is also a time of ice, and we can expect lots of hail.   One friend had golf ball sized hail at her house.   It smashed car windows and dented and destroyed everything in the storm’s path.   I didn’t get anything but rain from that storm, but I did get plenty of hail from the next storm.

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We had been to the dog swimming pool, and were surprised by the white streets on the way home.  It looked like there had been a sudden blizzard.   We had about an inch of hail on the deck, so my little tomato plants were toast.

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The good news of this storm was that the hail was tiny so it did not do much damage.   And since it is August the hail quickly melted.  So our seasons are: Spring (or  Blizzard) Summer (or Road Construction, Fire and Hail), Fall (chile roasting) and Winter.   It’s a great place to live.

More cows

I do love cows and before I die I would love to have one as a pet.   I envy Shreve over at “The Daily Coyote” because she has several pet cows, and one pet bull (Sir Baby).   Unfortunately this dream is never going to happen, but I did get to enjoy the spectacle of real cows on parade in the annual “strolling through the streets” of longhorn cattle.   It’s done to promote a rodeo.  While I admire the skill of professional and amateur cowboys, none of the horses, bulls, sheep or goats have volunteered to participate, so I will never attend another one.  But I do love the cow parade, so me and Miss P went down to watch (and someone was rather obnoxiously barking,  it was not me).

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It takes a lot of cowboys to keep these cattle in line and moving.  And the horses have to know their job too.

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Git along little dogie.

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What a lovely set of horns!

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Keep em moving.   This was the last of the group heading down the street, so we jumped in the car and headed down to the final destination, over at the local history museum.

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The lead animal never changed throughout the parade (and no it is not a 6 legged cow).

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Here’s a better shot of him strolling along with an old cowboy.

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The babies are so adorable.

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And the tail end of the parade featured these two pulling the wagon.  Wagons are a really uncomfortable way to travel, so I’m glad they’re obsolete.  I overheard a young cowboy saying that he had to get up early to check on a cow that got snakebit yesterday, such is the real life of a rancher.

It started with cows

The first project of this sort that I am aware of (no doubt there are others) was the Cow Parade.   Someone or some organization had the idea of making fiberglass cows and giving these to artists to decorate as they chose.   They first appeared in Europe, but when they were in Chicago it was a huge boon to the tourist industry to have all these wonderful, brightly colored cows out on the street.  And then I think they raffled or sold off the herd.

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I’m not sure if this rather drably painted cow is from the cow parade, but I can’t imagine why else the local liberal arts (emphasis on liberal) college would have this in front of a building.   Our very own town cow, the only one left in the city limits.

No doubt inspired by the Cow Parade, some local organization sponsors butterflies, which are painted up by local artists and then sold to promote whatever worthy cause they adopted.

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There are a bunch of these located nearby, and Miss P and I spotted these on a walk.

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This one is downtown by some lawyer’s office.

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This one is outside of one of our favorite restaurants.  Miss P loves to go there for the steak and fries or the freshly made sausages.

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This is my absolutely favorite butterfly.

Traces

I love looking at the marks of time passing that are left on buildings.   Things change, but these buildings still bear witness to the past.   Our past has been mostly swept away, but there are a few survivors.   I decided to photograph these bits, and the very first building on my intended list was already gone!   Long ago (1920’s or 30’s, but before 1937) there was a Duesenberg dealer in town and they had proudly painted the side of the building with the price of this fabulous car.   It was a plumbing supply place in recent memory and they kept re-painting the sign as it faded.  But now the entire building was gone, replaced when I wasn’t looking.

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But this lovely building still exists, and it has been recycled and updated.   For actual auto parts one must go to one of the chain stores, which are all located in huge purpose-built modern buildings.

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The building next to it is in the process of renovation, no longer a  moving-garage.  (Which if you think about, is an impossibility).

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Imagine having a dairy downtown.   There were cows in the city limits when I first moved here, which was a feature in the town’s favor to my way of thinking.  Now they are far out of town, out on the prairie beyond the newest subdivisions.

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This is the view of the front of the former auto parts store.  Just a pile of bricks to remind us of the life and times of those who came before us.

Fair food

This week was time for the annual County Fair, so like the lemming that looks for it’s cliff, I was off the check out the fair and make sure that nothing had changed.  (Nothing had, really).

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It’s said that an army marches on it’s stomach, and so too do crowds of people.   This food booth featured things that it is possible to fry, and things that you might not think to fry, like pickles.   The various things on a stick, from alligator to chicken reminded me of a character in the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett who offered a variety of things “on a stick”.

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And if you sell lemonade you might as well paint your business lemon yellow so you can’t miss it.

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If your food is All-American the Statue of Liberty can help you to sell it.

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If your penguins are overheating, then you must get them some shave ice.   And it was hot enough to overheat one’s penguins.

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And fry bread is not limited to pow-wows, but to make really good fry bread one must be an old lady (like me!).

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This was the only food trailer from a local place.   Their version of a small ice cream cone would be called a large anywhere else.   It’s so good that even employees from the rides came over to get some.   (I did mention that it was hot).

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Funnel cakes (I think this is pancake batter deep fried in a spiral and topped with powdered sugar) and corn dogs (hot dogs on a stick dipped in a cornmeal batter and deep fried) are traditional fare at the fair.   Really most of this food is not that great, being deep fried, but it is part of the essential atmosphere of any fairground or festival anywhere in the world.  Next up, the big one, the State Fair.

Pow Wow

The annual summer pow-wow took place this past weekend and I thought I might enlighten you, my dear reader, on the different types of dance outfits.   Of course all of these styles are rooted in the past, but we have much better materials to work with, and we only have to trade money for things, instead of the ancestral homeland or a bunch of beaver pelts.

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First up is a Plains style dance dress, a jingle dress.  Traditionally the metal cones that give this dress it’s name are made from the lids of snuff cans.   That would be an awful lot of chaw if you couldn’t purchase these ready-made.

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Here are a couple of ladies.  The woman on the left is wearing a beaded buckskin dress.  She has a beaded crown and she is carrying a beaded feather fan and a dance shawl.  The lady with the fur covering her braids is in a ribbon work dress.  And the lady on the right is in a traditional Navajo outfit of a velveteen blouse, tiered skirt and turquoise jewelry.  In the background are a couple of grass dancers.

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The woman on the left is wearing a wool trade cloth dress that is decorated with elk teeth (either real or made of bone).  The other ladies are just dancing.

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I don’t recall ever seeing a dance outfit like this one with the apron, perhaps it is what a white captive might wear.  The round collar on the blouse is more typical of Eastern tribal wear.

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This little guy is wearing a grass dance outfit, with a feather headdress.

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The guy in back is wearing a fancy dancer outfit, with a headpiece made of the fur from a deer’s tail.

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And this is my dance shawl, with hand dyed multicolored fringe.  I wear this whenever I feel like dancing to the drum.

 

Cats

So I’ll admit that I am easily influenced and that I like to try new things.   I did see the poster for the Acrocats on Sunday and thought “why not?”  (There are probably lots of good answers to this eternal question, but I wasn’t really looking for one.)   So I was off to the circus.

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These cats travel in style in their lovely purple tour bus adorned with their photos.  And the weird looking mound behind the bus is the roof of the place that they are performing at.   (I have lived here long enough to remember when it was a funny round movie theater.)

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The cats even have a pace car to escort the bus, and who doesn’t want to drive around with a giant cat on the roof.  Not just any cat either, it’s Tuna, the star of the show.

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This cat was plonking away on the keyboard, no doubt thinking about her idol, the internet sensation, keyboard cat.  Or perhaps she was thinking of the tasty treats that they get when they perform.

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We were required to yell out this cat’s name to get her to perform, so we did.  “It’s Tuna!”  Playing the cowbell to a steady beat.

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This cat (I think it was Oz) seems to be unimpressed with fame.   As with most animal shows, the real trick is to take something that the animal would normally do, like leaping about, and incorporate the action with some silly patter and bad puns from the trainer.  I would say that the mission was accomplished.   Although some of the performers did go walkabout during the show, anyone who can get cats to perform on command is a darned good animal trainer!  The cats were completely adorable and lots of money was raised for the local cat shelter; and a good time was had by all.

 

Downtown today

It’s Sunday again, so of course that means we have to drag ourselves downtown in search of the world’s most delicious sausage rolls.   The weather has turned hot so it is more like one would expect from summer.   So we tried to go fairly early, both so we could find a place to park and to beat the heat.   And of course to find something of interest to photograph.   This is what caught my eye today.

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I like some bad habits, especially those involving food (yes I am talking about bacon, lots of bacon).   I wasn’t sure what was on offer.

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She doesn’t ever say much about being hungry, but when she is bored she selects items from the trash that need to be chewed into multiple tiny bits and then proceeds with the plan.

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This bit sticks out from the building behind it, and it seems to be quite the magnet for stickers of bands and hipster products.

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The circus is coming to town, only instead of elephants it has cats!  Yes cats, those famously independent creatures have apparently been trained to do tricks.  This might be worth seeing, just for the novelty of it.

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It’s nice to know that ” it’s going to be o.k.”. There is always a lot of strife in the world, but I felt much better after seeing this sign.   We’ll see if it’s true.

 

Holiday

We’re just past Independence Day, celebrated every 4th of July.   Unlike the moveable holidays [MLK Day, President’s Day (formerly known as Lincoln’s Birthday and Washington’s Birthday) etc], this has to be held on it’s original day.  So it is a rare and special holiday.   And like most holidays it’s meaning has morphed into something else over the years.  Now it’s fireworks, barbecue and beer (beer is an important ingredient for most holidays, especially if one has to see the relatives).

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When Miss P and I had gone out to get our weekly sausage roll I noticed this patriotic mural on the side of an American Legion post downtown.   It seemed rather fitting for the day.

American Legion is a place for veterans to hang out and drink beer I think, and of course there are plenty of retired military people here in town.

I’m not sure why the Continental Army had to have a fife and drum to fight, but they did.  It’s part of the standard iconography of the Revolutionary War, along with 13 stripes.

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And the building has an eagle, our national bird, painted on the front.

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Most intriguingly there is this artillery piece out in front of the building.   It is aimed at the church across the street and I am not sure what to make of this.   To the right is the El Paso Club, a private men’s club for old rich guys, one might think it would make a better target.

Storms

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Summer storms are so lovely, and so site specific.   You can see the rain bucketing down over there and know that it will not rain on you, it’s moving away.

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This storm felt like a scene from the movie “Independence Day”, where ominous giant alien spaceships blotted out the sun.   It was eerie to drive from the light into the dark.   And there is always the danger of a cloud like this producing damaging hail.

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It’s getting darker by the minute!

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It’s just supposed to be a metaphor that a dark cloud is hovering overhead, not a real thing!

But the delicious part of these summer storms is that it cools everything down.   The temperature drops 10 degrees or more and there’s a cooling breeze.   And after the storm passes there are these wonderful mud puddles to lay about in.

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