Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Miller Time

It’s one of those things that real estate people don’t tell you when you are considering a move into a new state.

It is true that Colorado has an inordinate number of beautiful, sunny days. It is also true that it has an inordinate number of days with uncomfortably strong winds.

It is true that spring is an almost unbearably beautiful season. It is also true that many springs are infested with Miller moths.

 Miller moths are harmless but almost intolerable because there are so many of them and so many of them get into my house.

In spring, they emerge from their pupation stage to swarm from the eastern plains en route to the mountains. They spend their summers at the higher elevations, supping on floral nectars and enjoying the cool. I live on the migration route. No one told me.

 Miller moths laze around during daylight hours, apparently waiting for me to turn on my lights when darkness falls. Then they reveal themselves – all the culprits that have managed to sneak into the cracks of doorways and lie, undetected, waiting. Then, inspired by electric beacons, they dance around my living room – or wherever there’s a light.

 They don’t eat cloth. They are not poisonous. They are irresistible to my cats.

 The poor, bored felines whom I confine indoors have nothing but me and several dozen cat toys to amuse them. Moths fly and flit and skitter around- enticing and activating my two cats’ every hunter instinct. And they are great hunters. Wild chases – endangering every breakable object I have been foolish enough to set out – almost always end with the cats catching, and eating, the moths.

 And then throwing them up. Almost always on the beige carpet.

 Looking on the Internet, I find no consolation. “During outbreak years, miller-moth flights may last five to six weeks … However, they tend to be most severe for only two to three weeks.” Whoever wrote that last sentence including the word ‘only’ – must have either been a real estate agent or someone who didn’t have cats (and beige rugs).

 And this year's Miller Time has just begun.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Real News -- Good News

It was not the usual New York Times front-page photo – fourteen school kids, in three rows, standing in a hallway. Not a single politician, or pointed gun, or scene of tragic devastation.

 The kids were the chess players from Intermediate School 318 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and on Sunday, in Minneapolis, they became the first middle school team to win the United States Chess Federation’s national high school championship.

 The team members are mostly eighth graders and include a 13-year-old certified chess master. Drawn to the non-violence of the story, I predicted as I read that someone will inevitably make a movie about these kids. Sure enough, as the story continued onto page A22, there was mention of a recently completed documentary, “Brooklyn Castle.” [But soon, perhaps, a feature film?]

 Tomorrow (April 20) the I.S. 318 girls’ team will compete in national championships in Chicago. The odds are in their favor.

 Think for a moment about the ramifications. What if this caught on and, throughout the country, 13-year-olds mastered (or at least learned) the game? What if all them acquired the skill to think before they acted? And what if it spread – to politicians and armies and the rest of us.

 Oh my.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Different Directions

I have favorite places to walk – in my neighborhood or local parks or on our river walk. I always go unadorned with devices – nothing in my ears but hearing aids, nothing on my eyes but sunglasses. There is always so much to hear and to see.

It’s easy to go the same way every time. But not too smart.

I believe it’s important, every once in a while -- to take favorite walks in the opposite direction. You see different things. You get a different perspective.

I learned this at Loveland’s Sculpture Park.

[Its official name is Benson Sculpture Garden. Google it to get an idea of what it’s about. I’ll need to post some photos another time. There are currently 132 sculptures on display along lovely, meandering paths.]

When I go to the ‘Sculpture Garden’, I tend to start at the center and walk clockwise around either the whole perimeter or portions of the perimeter. The other day, I walked in a counterclockwise direction. It was amazing. I saw things I had failed to see on dozens of prior visits. It almost seemed a different place.


Looking at the same things a different way gives you new perspectives. Whether on familiar walks or about familiar ideas.

I recommend it.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Stories Surround Us

Stories surround us. One day last week, the Loveland (Colorado) Reporter Herald published three amazing obituaries: for H. Blair Muhlestein, Ingeborg Angela Maria Theresia Besirske Chavez, and Maurice “Red” Haworth. The obits were long enough for me to glimpse the lives of some cool people. I’ve copied excerpts from each. I wish I had known them.

H. Blair Muhlestein May 24, 1936 ~ April 5, 2012

Beloved husband, father, grandfather and artist Howard 'Blair' Muhlestein, 75, passed away peacefully at home, Thursday, April 5, 2012 in Loveland, Colo., surrounded by family and friends in a chorus of laughter and song. Born May 24, 1936 in Spanish Fork, Utah, Blair was married to Sara ( Rodney) for 56 years.
The couple raised five sons -- Kirtis, Ken, Kyle, Keith and Kris -- while Blair worked as tool and manufacturing engineer and held a Professional Engineering license at Hewlett-Packard in California, Delaware, and Colorado-a career spanning 35 years.

Blair was an unusually gifted man of many talents, with a wide variety of interests. With an avid love of camping and hiking, he was active as a Scoutmaster for 20 years. As part of that role, when a Scout reached the rank of First Class, Blair would carve a neckerchief slide for him. From that, Blair's interest in sculpting grew from wood and paper into bronze, which allowed him more artistic freedom.

Over the course of 25 years of sculpting he developed a wide body of work primarily known as 'realistic children' in addition to abstract and kinetic art. There are over 5,000 pieces of Blair's artwork displayed around the world, including in the home of President Gerald Ford, Olympic gold medalists Bonnie Blair and Dan Janson, as well as being featured in the television show 'Touched by an Angel.' Typical of Blair's giving nature, he enjoyed leading free sculpture lessons at his gallery in Loveland. …

In life, Blair was also a noted 'Kitemaster.' He and son Keith would give stunt kite demonstrations for local elementary schools. The entire school would come out and watch the show of two strings of 6 'stacks' of kites performing acrobatics, complete with a 'crashing finale.' One of his scouting adventures was a 'frostbite' outing behind the HP building in Pennsylvania. It was so cold that the eggs froze solid and all the scouts wanted to go home, but Blair gave them the 'be prepared' and 'tough it out' speech, rallied the troops, they thawed the eggs and had an omelet for breakfast-a great time, and a story to share for the rest of their lives.

Always game for an adventure, Blair was also a noted motorcycle enthusiast. … Flowers or contributions to Blair's favorite charity ' The Loveland Artists' Charitable Fund'.

Ingeborg Angela Maria Theresia Besirske Chavez --February 26, 1924 ~ April 4, 2012

'Inge' (Besirske) Chavez was born February 26, 1924, in Aussig, Czechoslovakia, the fourth and youngest child of Vincenz Paul and Theresia (Stohr) Besirske. Aussig was in the border area between Czechoslovakia and Germany, and the family was culturally German. … Inge remembered learning Czech as a second language in grade school. … [During World War II --
her siblings] were young adults, and three were away from home - Judith, the eldest was an MD in Prague; Helmut, Inge's only brother, was an officer with the German Luftwaffe; Inge was working as a physical therapy aide in the Alps, in a rehab hospital for injured German soldiers. Ilse, the third daughter, was the only one at home with both parents when the Russians took control of Czechoslovakia in 1945. The three of them abandoned their newly-built home and fled to Germany, where they hoped the rest of the family would find them.

Inge … [hiked the Alps, finally arriving in Aussig, only to find no one at home.] She stayed with friends, not knowing where her family was. Eventually she was scheduled to join a harvest work crew to be sent deep into Czechoslovakia or Russia. [She could not leave the Russion-occupied territory without proof that family was located somewhere else.] On the very day Inge was scheduled to board a train to the interior, her old neighbors showed her a letter they had just received, that mentioned that the entire Besirske family had … found their way to Munich, Germany except for Inge, and did the neighbors have any news of her? With that letter, Inge was allowed to leave and join her family.

In Munich, after the war, she met a handsome U.S. soldier from New Mexico, Moises Chavez, Jr. and they were married on February 16, 1948. She remembers that it required 7 hand-typed copies of various security documents and character references before the marriage could take place. Inge and Moises left for the United States in September 1948, and the U.S. became her home.

. . . She considered any sunny day above 40 degrees 'perfect' for golf. Inge prided herself on her cross-stitch needlework. … Inge leaves her family and friends with many memories of her humor, and expressions of 'Holy Cow!' 'Oh, Wow!' and 'You kidding!'(sic) when anything surprised her.

Her love of shopping and Birkenstock shoes are legendary. … Even in her later years, Inge was always curious about the world around her. She insisted that a friend bring her a black widow spider (in a jar) because she had never seen one before. …

Maurice “Red” Haworth September 20, 1928 – April 3, 2012

Maurice “Red” Haworth, a lifelong resident of the Berthoud area, died peacefully in the comfort of his home, at the age of 83 on April 3, 2012. His pioneer farm west of Berthoud has been in the Haworth family since 1901.

Maurice was born Sept 20, 1928 to Everett and Ina Haworth. He was active in farming all his life. He also worked various construction jobs around Colorado. … Red saw farming evolve from horsepower to gas power and was a constant presence in the Berthoud area all his years.

As faithful as a doctor making his rounds, Red traveled daily from coffee shop to coffee shop, sharing his smile and good nature with everyone he met. One of his favorite pastimes was sitting outside in his yard, among the cottonwood trees, soaking up the sunshine. He loved admiring his flag, and visiting with anyone who cared to stop by. How ironic that the mighty cottonwood trees lasted only as long as the man who loved them. …

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Cyber Schizophrenia

In spite of having a website and a blog and a truly amazing proficiency at email, I remain a cyber Luddite -- which could be diagnosed as cyber schizophrenia.

At the recent Northern Colorado Writers conference, I learned (again) the importance of having a cyber ‘presence’ – and that it was essential to actively utilize many internet avenues in order for Google to recognize you as being ‘important.’

Who made Google the arbiter of importance?

We all did, I guess. Or at least all those under the age of 20 or maybe 30. Which I am not.

I have a Facebook page, which I don’t know how to use. I recently signed up for both Twitter and Linkedin – neither of which I understand.

But I have to.

My memoir, Tree Lines (with an as-yet-to-be-determined subtitle) is being published. It should be out by September. If I am to properly promote my first-ever published book, I must utilize all cyber channels effectively.

There is only one thing for me to do. I must enlist the assistance of some amazingly tolerant person under the age of 20 to teach me how.

And so I will --- because Tree Lines is a terrific book and I think many people should buy it. And because, for Pete’s sake, it is high time I got with it.

Wish me luck.