Why this blog?

To understand why this blog was created and where it got its name, start here

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy Birthday Philippe

My son Philippe turns 37 today. Where did the years go?

I still remember him as a blond, curly headed child at three years old:

and later, his hair a little darker but still very curly in high school.
Elaine and Philippe
 Now, head shaven, he is a professor of French at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. (For more pictures of Philippe, click here.)
Philippe with wife Rachel in Portland
Happy Birthday Philippe. I love you.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sonia's 80th

I've known Sonia Martin, my former teacher and life-long friend, for 51 years. She taught me everything I know about English spelling, grammar, and punctuation. She is still my behind-the-scenes copy editor. She is a careful reader of my blog and her eagle eye catches mistakes in spelling and syntax on a regular basis. (Thank you, Sonia!)

Yesterday was her 80th birthday. My son Eric, sister Jan, and I brought take-out Thai food and had dinner at her house. Her hair is still brown and she still swims almost daily. We wish her well.

Congratulations on your 80th! For more photos click here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Santa on skates

Santa paid a visit to the ice rink at the Belmar shopping center last week.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Charros

Across the street from my mother's house are the homes and horses of some of Denver's best known Mexican charros. A charro is more than a cowboy. The term applies to a tradition of horsemanship where horses and riders alike demonstrate skills acquired through years of training. The movements are virtually identical to those found in the Olympic competition of dressage. These horses and riders participate each year in local parades and Mexican rodeos dressed in spectacular traditional costumes.

It's quite a show. And each morning we have a front row seat for the training sessions. 
Gilberto astride Apasionata

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Recuperating at Mom's house

Not much going on, not many outings or castles to visit, so we pass the time putting together jigsaw puzzles. This 2000 piece puzzle featuring a photo of Cinque Terre took us two weeks to finish. It reminded me of my visits to Italy in 2001 and 2010. I am so lucky.
My mother Marilyn on the left and sister Jan on the right


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Philippe's visit

My son Philippe arrived yesterday for a weekend visit from his home in Portland, Oregon. My mother welcomed him with a dinner of her homemade beans and pork green chile. Mom also made bunuelos - a type of fried pastry also known as sopaipillas or beignets.
We celebrated his arrival and my successful surgery with a bottle of pink champagne. Yumm.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cured!

I had a follow up visit to the surgeon yesterday. Bandages were removed and I am now free to shower. Yes! The best news of all? The pathology report indicated that my lymph nodes (ganglions lymphatiques) are completely free of cancer. "You are cured (guéri)!" said the doctor. The cancer was completely isolated in the breast and I won't need radiation or chemotherapy. What a relief (soulagement).

I'm feeling better every day, although I'm not quite ready to go out dancing or hop on a plane. I'll  be taking it easy for the next several weeks as I look forward to a full recovery.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Eric's visit

One of the highlights of this difficult week has been the presence of my son Eric. He is a Chinese Medicine doctor and has created a special formula to speed my healing. He also recognizes the benefits of fresh air and sunshine to improve my mood. Yesterday, he picked me up at the hospital and transported me to my mother's house to recuperate. But we took a little detour along the way. We drove to the top of Flagstaff mountain west of Boulder. You can imagine how the view from here and the presence of Eric contributed to my feeling better.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Going home

Surgery was a success and I'm feeling good. I'm going home already! Thank you for all the good wishes :-)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Surgery


I'll be having surgery tomorrow,  November 30th. There is good news and bad news: the bad news is that I'll be having a mastectomy, but the good news is that I shouldn't need radiation or chemotherapy. The other good news is that the plastic surgeon will be there and I'll have breast reconstruction immediately. I'll be staying in Colorado for the 6-8 weeks of healing and then I should be good to go back to France. 

Patrice had to return to Paris without me. He hates it, and wishes he were here by my side. We spend a lot of time communicating via Skype.

In the meantime, I am spending lots of time with family. I've been staying at my brother's house in Arvada, and will go to my mother's house in Lakewood to recuperate for the first few days after surgery. My mom and my sister, who is a nurse, will be taking good care of me. 

My sons are also supporting me. My younger son, Eric, who lives in Taiwan, has extended a visit to the U.S. to be by my side. He'll return to Taiwan on December 4th. My other son, Philippe, who lives in Portland, Oregon, will come to Denver for a visit December 7-9. I feel very lucky and very much loved.

Thank you to all who are reading this. I appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers. I'm sure I'll be fine. 

Love, 
Elaine

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving

I missed Thanksgiving the last two years while in Paris. This year I was able to celebrate twice. The first time was last Sunday when I attended a Thanksgiving dinner at the home of friends Greg and Sarah Amorese. Greg has been hosting dinner for friends on the Sunday before Thanksgiving since 1980. He started the tradition back in his college days.
Greg offering a Kir Royale to a guest

This year there were 51 people.
Some, but not all, of the place settings
 Greg cooked two large turkeys and the guests brought the rest of the side dishes, appetizers, and desserts. 
Turkey ready for carving
Benefits of a large American kitchen
 Dinner ended with an impromptu cello concert by Greg & Sarah's son Peter who is only 13 years old.  This is the Bach Cello Suite No.1 - Allemande.  Listen for yourself.
video

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Breast cancer

Early stage, slow growing, but cancer nonetheless. Stopping me in my tracks, preventing my return to France - at least for the time being. I'll be staying in Colorado for as long as it takes to heal. I'll be exploring a new world for a while, having joined a club populated by many sisters around the globe. 

I will be forced to slow down, to take time to reflect, and to spend some time alone. Sadly for him, Patrice had to return to France without me.

I'm not frightened. The cancer was caught very early and should be very treatable. But it will alter my plans for the next several days, weeks, and months.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Garden of the Gods

We're spending our last few days in Colorado taking advantage of the warm weather to explore the state. Today's ride took us south towards Colorado Springs and the Garden of the Gods. We took the long way - over a dirt road with scenery like this.

Garden of the Gods offers spectacular photo opportunities. See for yourself.

The rock formations are also much appreciated by climbers such as these two

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Becoming Van Gogh

We took a break from hiking to go the Denver Art Museum last week. We visited the excellent exhibit "Becoming Van Gogh" at the Denver Art Museum. The exhibit traces the origins and development of van Gogh's talents. It offers a fresh look at van Gogh's early work - much of which is unknown to the average museum-goer.

This one-of-a-kind exhibit will be in Denver only until January20, 2013. Go and see it if you can.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Royal Arch

"Let's take a hike tomorrow" said Patrice.

"Great!" I responded. "One of my favorite hiking trails in the Boulder area is Royal Arch. It's not too long, only 3.2 miles round trip. Oh, and there are a few steps to climb . . . "

We read trail descriptions, and although the trail was marked "moderate to strenuous," we decided that the trail would be just the right length and level of difficulty for an afternoon outing. We packed a couple of sandwiches for a picnic lunch and set off up the trail which is located at the base of Boulder's famous Flatirons (the flat red rocks that rise up west of town).

About an hour and a half later, Patrice was sweating hard and cursing me for not being more explicit about the difficulty of the trail.

Yes, there is 1,400 feet of elevation gain -- and a few rocks to climb
 

But the arch and the view of Boulder down below is well worth the trip.




Sunday, October 28, 2012

Snow melt in Boulder

One of the best things about winter in Colorado is the sunshine. It can get grey and snowy and then one day later - voilà! The sun comes out and melts the snow.

This is Wonderland Lake before

And after





Friday, October 26, 2012

Snow in Boulder

As promised, the snow started falling Wednesday evening and we went for a ride Thursday morning to capture the colors of winter.
 The playgrounds were empty

 And the sun played hide-and-seek through the fog

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Brainard Lake

Winter is just around the corner. There's a cold front approaching that will bring temperatures below freezing in the next few days. Yesterday, we took advantage of the calm before the storm to take a hike near Brainard Lake, west of Boulder.

The lake is already starting to freeze
 

And the local bird population is looking for any scraps that fall from picnic tables.

 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sidecar

Patrice is passionate about driving. Anything that makes noise, smells bad, and pollutes;-) Two, three or four wheels. He loves to drive my Toyota Highlander 4wd off-road - the scarier the better. I don't always share this enthusiasm, and am often much happier on foot. Nevertheless, I suppose it's good to try new things, and to push the limits of my personal comfort zone. 

Yesterday, we were invited by my friends Tracy, and her husband Eric, to join them on a ride on their motorcycles with sidecars. I was a little apprehensive at first, not being a big fan of motorcycles, but the late-autumn sunny skies and warm temperature called for an outing.

Helmets are optional in Colorado, and I was comforted by the loan of Eric's firefighter helmet. At least it helped keep my head warm.

A motorcycle with sidecar is tricky to drive - the weight balance and handling on turns is completely different than a motorcycle alone. But Patrice was a natural. He drove the Honda Goldwing with me in the sidecar as if he's been driving one all his life.

Eric drove their red Harley Davidson with Tracy in the side.


The unique cycles always attract a lot of attention, and Eric loves to let kids (and grownups too) climb all over them.
Tourists from Texas 
Our ride took us through the canyons west of Boulder and finally to Estes Park where elk can be seen wandering through town.
Here's what this elk looked like from the sidecar!
But this gorgeous day wasn't about the ride, or me overcoming my fears (it really wasn't scary at all). The day was spent in awe and admiration of Eric. He is battling cancer but you wouldn't have known it from his energy and his smile.

Thank you, Eric and Tracy, for a wonderful day.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Mother's Birthday

Today was my mother Marilyn's 81st birthday. She's still going strong, still cooking meals for children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Here are some photos of my Mom from last year's post:
Marilyn in high school

With my Dad in Athens c. 1970

80th birthday party
This evening we celebrated her 81st birthday. You'll notice that I have more gray hair than she does!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Autumn in Boulder

High winds and cooler temperatures are bringing down the last of the autumn leaves here in Boulder. It's been a wondrous season for fall colors and I'm feeling melancholy as I let go of the reds and golds. Soon, winter will bring its own colors and contrasts.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the USA. There are still a few families who live in the 1000 year-old structures with no electricity and no running water - but most Native families prefer the comfort of more modern homes just beyond the picturesque village which looks almost like a movie set.


But the cemetery is a solemn reminder that the people of Taos Pueblo were forced into Catholicism and slavery by Spanish priests in order to become "civilized."

Houses were originally accessed via ladders rather than doors






The village is very much alive and sacred to the native people who still hold ceremonies in the round underground kivas (accessed via ladders) seen in the picture below



Tourists are not allowed near kivas
Red Willow Creek provides drinking water for the village