April 21, 2003
Dear Family and Friends,

      The window of my “office” looks to the east and south. I mention that only because it’s easy to be distracted by what’s outside, and today is no exception. There are a few white cottony clouds against a deep blue sky. The sun is sparkling the snow that fell last night. It covers the ground and hangs on the pine branches like marshmallows. There is enough warmth that the lumps of snow on the evergreens melt and fall in clumps at random times, and the snow on the bedroom deck above me is melting on the bird feeder. The house is warm from the sun and we’ve made no fire today, and we probably won’t need one this evening.

      It’s all the more beautiful when we remember we are recovering from the biggest snowfall in 90 years—well over six feet—that held us captive for over a week, two of those days without power and sometimes phone service. It began on the afternoon of St. Patrick’s Day (Monday) and snowed continuously for about 50 hours. We set a yardstick up in the backyard, but it was out of sight Tuesday morning. Our 5' metal sculpture, “Diva,” (on the right) was half buried by Tuesday morning and completely buried by Tuesday afternoon. We burned plenty of wood during the week “inside,” so much, in fact, that I needed to dig out the maul I use to split wood since I had only too-large logs left to burn (another example of not really being well prepared!) If we’d been smarter, we would also have left a car at the fire station up on Ridge Road so we could at least get our own groceries when the milk ran low.

      We did snowshoe out just to see what the paved road was like and who might be traveling. Of course there was no mail delivery during that time. In fact, as you can see, the mailboxes were pretty well covered up until we dug them out. Even so, the delivery person didn’t count on everyone doing this, so he didn’t even bother to come for a week and a half. The paper came after about the third day, but it just got tossed in driveways. Some folks got out sooner than others depending upon their plow service, how far they were from the paved road, and how anxious they were to get someplace.

      There were not many reports of damage (except to trees) resulting from the storm, although friends of ours lost the roof of the garage they just had built this past fall, damaging their cars and motorcycles inside. The worst disaster was the collapse the roof of the Community Center (built in 1931) which fell on the gym, multipurpose room, and a large storage area used by the library to process and store books. The damage endangered the whole east half of the building, closing down the senior meal site, the theater, and forcing the library and a small private outdoor education school to relocate to the west wing of the building which was not affected by weight of the snow. The rubble has been cleared away and the town is trying to decide whether to raze the building and start over (unlikely; we don’t have that kind of money) or how to remodel. It was one of the worst outcomes of the storm.

      A month later, much of the snow remains, and the 4" we got last night covered the ground that had begun to show. Still, it’s a beautiful scene outside and in spite of the outside temperatures (upper 30s) we are snug inside (low 70s, thanks to the glorious sun!).

      This past winter was, of course, not all cold and snow. In fact, like the past few years, we began to worry about the drought that threatens summer fires. It never got really cold and there hadn’t been a great deal of snow. Judy and I worked with the Chamber through the first couple of months in preparation for the 2nd Frozen Dead Guy Days in early March. You can read all about the event, who got frozen and where and why on the Chamber web site. Unlike my false bravado a year ago, I didn’t jump or even go near the hole in the ice. Judy, however, was alongside the hole in her dry suit along with other Fire Department members to assist those who made frozen spectacles of themselves. From the warmth of the Visitors Center I sold hats, T-shirts, posters, programs, bumper stickers, and other Frozen Dead Guy Days gear for the Chamber. (You can see the merchandise and order it from the Chamber web site.) We had lots of regional and national publicity (our daughter read about it in the Boston Globe), and attendance was about double of last year’s number.

      The budget for this and the other events the Chamber sponsors has, along with Visitor Center sales, has pushed the Chamber budget into six figures and made the bookkeeping more complex than it was when Judy volunteered nearly five years ago to be the Treasurer for the Chamber. Then all she had to do was pay the bills, balance the checkbook, and pay quarterly sales taxes. She realized she was working an unpaid part-time job that was beyond her desire to continue. As of the end of March, she is the ex-Treasurer. She continues to volunteer at the Visitors Center as I do. The four hours of meeting and talking with people is great fun and the “job” is over when she leaves at the end of her shift.

      In addition to working with the Chamber, she is still Captain Judy for the Nederland Fire Department, though a stress fracture in her pelvis placed her on medical leave for a couple of months and curtailed her running routine. She’s slowly getting back to it. She also began to cross-country ski in the past two months and is looking forward to hiking with the same friend she skis with. But she probably won’t defend her Bolder Boulder 12-race win streak next month.

      I continue to work to improve our “golden years” lifestyle by serving on the Boulder County Aging Advisory Council: our main job is to advise the County on how to spend the funds the county receives from the Older Americans Act and the Older Coloradans Act. At the same time, I’m currently President of the Aging Services Foundation Serving Boulder County, a non-profit created to raise funds to make up the difference between what the feds and the state provide the county and the actual needs of a growing older population in the county. Imagine a graph with one line heading sharply up to the right—that’s the number of people who are +65 in the county—and a line from the upper left corner heading down and to the right: that’s the income from state and federal agencies that support folks 65 and older. Things like senior meal sites, transportation for the frail and isolated, medicare and medicaid, care giving and respite care, legal services, etc. etc. If you never need any of these services, you’re fortunate; if you do, or know people who depend upon such programs, then you know how vital is it to have the funds to continue them.

      I read recently of the impact of our economy on public libraries; in Ohio alone two-thirds of the 250 public libraries are in danger of closing for lack of funds. I suspect that other programs that depend on public support are equally jeopardized, especially those that affect those who can’t vote (e.g., programs that support children’s services) and those who are politically disenfranchised or chronically ignored (the poor, single mothers, and others who are, as some say scornfully, “on the dole.”

      Judy and I both “celebrated” our birthdays in March. We’d nothing planned, but others had plans for us. Michael and Cindy invited us to dinner at an Irish pub in Boulder, which was very nice. On the way back to our car they insisted on walking with us, which we thought was a bit strange. They walked us past the Boulder Theater where there was an Irish cabaret show performing. As we walked by they asked how we’d like to see it. As it turns out, they had reservations for the show and had timed dinner just right so that we would be at the theater in time for the start of the show.

      And if that were not enough, a day or so later we got a note from the Flagstaff House, Boulder’s premier and schnitziest restaurant saying that Debra and Dan had made arrangements for us to dine there. We’ll wait for a warm, clear evening and get out the fancy dress, and a tie and jacket to look as though we fit in.

      Before the big storm we did some traveling. Our family trip this year, one of the best we’ve had, was to Belize: both to the area of the western border with Guatemala and four days later to the Caribbean. Everyone seemed to find the days in the jungle exciting, exotic, interesting, and a new experience. The days on Ambergis Caye were like other “beach” vacations: great diving and snorkeling, and very relaxing. You can find out more about the family trip or the Elderhostel trip Judy and I took to Belize in 2000. We enjoy the country and the people and highly recommend Belize for travel.

      Two weeks after the storm, we spent a week in Sedona (Arizona) with Michael and Cindy. We’d been there last year on our own and really loved the scenery, the hiking and mountain biking. We took our bikes again and spent two days on a few of the many bike trails in the area. We also took several short hikes (nothing longer than four miles) on some of the over 100 hiking trails in the area. The weather was chilly the first day, but warmed the rest of the week to the 70s. We visited Jerome again, relaxed at the pool and outdoor hot tub, read several books each, and, of course nightly rounds of Shanghai rummy.

      At the end of this month we’re headed for Scottsdale and a week of hiking in Tonto National Forest and the Superstition Mountains, visits to the Heard Museum and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West. When I was in high school, our Rockhound Club took a spring trip to visit the copper mines in Miami and Globe; I’d like to go back. If we played golf we’d be in heaven, but we don’t. So we’ll take the bikes and hike for our exercise. And several books each I’m sure.

      Those are the highlights of the winter. The day to day stuff doesn’t make it on the calendar so it’s hard to remember everything. I didn’t mention the two book clubs we belong to; or the young woman who gives us our periodic massages, the one who can bend steel in her bare hands as well as can reach way down to work out the kinks in the muscles that lie knotted deep beneath the skin; the neighborhood friends dinner group we look forward to each month (next Saturday it’s Greek!); or the weekly hikes or skiing that Judy plans on Fridays with her friend Betsy; or the pure joy Bella and Sophie give to us both. Life would be pretty quiet without them. We might never know if a bear or deer or elk or coyote or fox or a bobcat is walking through the yard.

      Our lives are pretty routine, I suppose, like most folks’. They may be just a bit different—as yours are from everyone else. But we live in their mountains, and that makes the difference.


Judy and Hughes Moir
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